Page images

CHAP. viii.

of the city of Memfishis, went into Shain, where he was entertained by a lady named Agashe—and Helsidius, a rhetorician : but the most famous of all his converts was Priscillian.” 20. “In the religious assemblies of all the Manicheans, adoration of God was the whole of the worship. This was performed in the natural way of prayer, and singing hymns—the scriptures were read, and some discoursed on the nature and obligations of virtue to inform the rest.” 21. “Priscillian did so, and many of noble families, and common people, and crouds, especially of women, attended and imbibed the doctrine. In a short time it spread all over Spain : and some bishops embraced it, who, laying aside the vices of the world, and the superstitions of the [Catholic] cler‘gy, applied themselves wholly to the practice of ‘piety, and a course of virtue.” 22. Thus far has Robinson stated the occasion of the first Catholic persecution, which began about the year 380, at the instigation of Idacius and Ithacius, two cruel and persecuting ecclesiastics. 23. Their first step was, to call a council, for the purpose of suppressing the heresy of Priscillian. With twelve bishops they pass a decree, that no man should assume the rank of a teacher without leave first had and obtained from them. Priscilliam in the mean time continued to teach. Enraged at this contempt of their assumed authority, their next recourse was to the civil magistrate for aid. 24. And after a process of several years, the bloody Ithacius obtained an order from the Catholic emperor Maxinus, for the execution of Priscillian and his associates. In consequence of which, in the year 384, Priscillian and many more were put to death. Some, says Robinson, were put on the rack, others had all their property confiscated, and others were banished. 25. And who were Ithacius and Maximus, that they should agree, for the honor of religion, to destroy the inoffensive Priscillian, and those who adop:ed his harmless manner of life 2 Maximus came to the throne by uneans of procuring the murder of the


*ver. Researches, p. 188.

Jocel. Hissory, vol. # p. 414.


emperor Gratian ; and even the party to which Ithacius belonged gave him the following character. 26. “He was a man abandoned to the most cor“rupt indolence, and without the least tincture of “true piety. He was audacious, talkative, impu“dent, luxurious, and a slave to his belly. He ac“cused as Heretics, and as protectors of Priscillian, “all those whose lives were consecrated to the pur“suit of piety and knowledge, or distinguished by “acts of mortification and abstinence.” 27. However, in all this he only proved himself to be a true son of the Catholic Church ; and his introducing persecution into his mother's house, was nothing more than improving the liberty which she had granted her sons, by the Theodosian creed, formed about the same period in one of her general councils at Constantinople, in the year 381. 28. “An hundred and fifty bishops, (says Mosheim,) * who were present at this council, gave the finish*ing touch to what the council of Mice had left im* perfect, and fixed, in a full and determinate onan* ner, the doctrine of BCP three PERsons in one GoD, * which is as yet received among the generality of * Christians :” [i. e. professed Christians or Catholics. 29. This venomous council did not stop here ;“ They branded, with infamy, ali the errors, and set “a mark of execration upon all the heresies, that * were hitherto known.” 30. Thus, sufferstition became the established religion, and fiersecution the principal means of supporting it, which furnished the most distinguishing and evident marks of a corrupt hierarchy, founded upon the unnatural and pernicious coalition of tho civil and ecclesiastical powers, under the name of a Christian government.

chap, viii. Eccl. History, vol. i. p. 414. Note [un]

ibid. P.414,4

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The established Order of the Catholic Church.

HE continuation of a thing in its own place, nature and properties, is very different from a succession of things rising up and filling the place of another; yet it is rather according to the latter idea that the religion of Christ has been supposed to continue in the world to the present day. 2. But to every reasonable mind the distinction must be self-evident: and if so, then it may, doubt

less, with propriety be said, that certain men have,

in every age through the Christian aera, appeared
either as Christ, or in his place, and that either the
real church of Christ, or one in its place, has con-
tinued to exist upon earth.
3. And if any man and any church did actually rise
up in the room of Christ and his church, then it must
be evident that neither Christ nor his church remain-
ed upon earth : for admitting that the church of
Christ existed upon earth, it must have been in its
own place : of course another could not stand in its
place, at one and the same time.
4. When Solomon, king of Israel, died, the king-
dom was divided between Rehoboam, and Jereboam,
but neither of them reigned fully in his stead. Nor
was there any kingdom or empire established upon
earth in the room of Solomon's, until the last re-
mains of that was rooted out and the seat of gov-
ernment established at Babylon by Nebuchadnez-
5. Then it might be said that there was a kingdom
established in the room of Solomon's and a king
reigned in his stead, but this was not a continuance
either of Solomon or his kingdom, but something in
their place, that in some respects rescimbled them,
but was essentially different and distinct.
6. This may serve as a comparison between Con-
stantine, the Great, and Jesus Christ. For, as the wild
and frantic .Nebuchadnezzar was born to the wise men
of Babylon, and grew up and established a kingdom
or empire, according to their council, in the place of
Solomon’s ; so in the same sense was Constantine
born to thc Catholic Church, and grew up and acted
in the place of Jesus Christ.
7. And although the empire or church which Con-
stantine founded, stood as perfectly in the place of the
Church of Christ, as the Babylonian empire stood in
the place of the kingdom of Solomon ; yet it will ap-
pear beyond dispute, upon the slightest comparison,
that the church which was founded and established
by Constantine the Great, was not a continuation of
the church of Christ, but the very reverse.
8. And if it be granted that the heads and fathers
of the Catholic church stood in the place of Christ
Jesus and his apostles, and did not in reality fill the
very character of those whom they pretended to re-
present, then the conclusion must be evident, that
neither Christ nor his apostles, in reality, were man-
ifest on earth, but certain pretenders in their place.
9. Of course, that church of which they were the
heads and fathers, must have been as distinct from
the Primitive Church of Christ, as they themselves
were distinct, in point of character, from those whom
they are said to represent. If any evidence is want-
ing to confirm these plain principles, it will appear
from the following account of the establishment of
the Catholic church, under Constantine and his suc-
10. “ Constantine the Great, in order to prevent
‘civil commotions, and to fix his authority upon so-
“lid and stable foundations, made several changes,
* not only in the laws of the empire, but also in the
* form of the Roman government. And as there
* were many important reasons, which induced him
* to suit the administration of the church to these
“changes in the civil constitution, this necessarily in-
“troduced, among the bishops, new degrees of emi-
“nence and rank.” So says Dr. Mosheim.
11. And further : “Though Constantine permitted
“the church to remain a body politic, distinct from
“that of the state, as it had formerly been, yet he as-
‘sumed to himself the supreme power over this sa-
* cred body, and the right of modelling and govern-

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

coor ‘ing it in such a manner, as should be most condu“cive to the public good. This right he enjoyed realm. “ without any opposition, as none of the bishops pre::::::: ‘sumed to call his authority in question.”- . 12. Here we see that the first step was to incorporate the church and the world into one body, to be governed by one head: so that notwithstanding the church, for certain purposes, was kept a distinct body politic, yet it was as closely united to the civil government, and as much one with the empire, as the harlot is one flesh with him that is joined to her ; and from this union proceeded that high degree of eminence and rank to which the bishops arose. 13. How strong a temptation this must have been for the wickedest men to seek the highest rank in so honorable a church Here we may justly apply that ** saying of the prophet Daniel : Such as do wickedly against the covenant, shall he corrufit by flatteries. Eve swi By the prophet Ezekiel such a union is compared to 30-38, the work of an imperious whorish woman. Or, as a wife that committeth adultery, taketh strangers instead of her husband : But with this difference : They give gifts unto all whores ; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock, and shed blood, are judged. 14. In thus uniting and incorporating the church with the civil government, the Emperor met with no opposition; it was on all sides a spontaneous confederacy, entered into with the universal consent of the bishops, as representatives of the church, and the Roman senate, as the great fathers of the people ; all agree in joint compact, that a man-slayer, a proud ambitious Emperor, who had neither seen Christ nor known him, should be the common head of influence to the whole body. 15. In consequence of this unnatural union, the government of the church, in all her parts, assumed the form and likeness of the civil government. Four bishops, viz. of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinofile enjoyed a certain degree of pre-eminence over the rest of the episcopal order. “These four

« PreviousContinue »