Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

forward in seeming to do good, and to take part with Christ, and truth, and godliness; and then his way is to over-do : he will be over-orthodox, and over-godly, and over-peaceable, that he hug the church and truth to death, by his too hard embracements. As in families and neighbourhoods, some cross words must be passed over if we would have peace: and he that for every provoking, unpeaceable word of another, will raise a storm, shall be himself the most unpeaceable. So is it in the church; he that cannot bear with the weaknesses of the younger sort of Christians, who are too much inclined by their zeal against sin, to dividing ways, but will presently let fly at them as schismatics, and make them odious, and excommunicate or punish them according to his wrath, shall increase the zeal and the number of dividers, and prove himself the greatest divider.

And by this violence and destroying zeal of orthodox rulers, against the real faults and infirmities of some separating, well-meaning men, a far greater number of heterodox rulers, are encouraged to persecute the most learned, sober, and peaceable ministers, and the most godly and faithful of their subjects, who dare not conform to all their unrighteous edicts, and ecclesiastical laws, in things forbidden by the law of Christ: and all this is done upon pretence of promoting unity and peace, and suppressing heresy and schism. And so persecution becometh the devil's engine to keep out the Gospel and godliness from the infidel world, and to keep them under in the Christian world.

·Sed tamen sive illud (Origenis de Redemptione futura diabolorum) Error est, ut ego sentio ; sive Hæresis ut putatur, non solum reprimi non potuit multis animadversionibus sacerdotum, sed nequaquam tam late se potuisset effundere, nisi contentione crevisset :' inquit Posthumianus in Sulp. Severi Dialog. i.

Sed non fuit animus ibi consistere, ubi recens fraternæ cladis fervebat invidia. Nam etsi fortasse videantur parere episcopis debuisse, non ob hanc tamen causam multitudinem tantam sub Christi confessione viventem, præsertim ab episcopis oportuisset affligi.' Id. ibid. Speaking of the bishops provoking the secular power to afflict the monks of Alexandria for defending Origen.

When the Emperor Constantius would by violence force

the orthodox to hold communion with the Arians, he did but make the breach the wider. Read Lucifer Calaritanus de non conveniendo cum hæreticis, (in Biblioth. Patr. Tom. ix. p. 1045. &c.) The Emperor saith, that the ' orthodox were enemies to peace, and unity, and brotherly love, and that he was resolved to have unity and peace in his dominions : therefore he imprisoned the orthodox and banished them.' Propterea odis nos, quia concilium vestrum malignantium execremur; propterea in exilio sumus ; propterea in carcere necamur; propterea nobis solis prohibetur conspectus ; idcirco reclusi in tenebras custodimur ingenti custodia : hujus rei causa nullus ad nos visendos admittitur hominum ; quia videlicet noluerimus vobiscum impiis sacrilegis ullam scelerum vestrorum habere societatem.' Ibid. 1050. Which stirred up this bishop in particular to go too far from free communion even with the penitent Arians, and heap up more Scriptures against that communion which the Emperor commanded, than any had done before. “Nobis dicebas, Pacem volo fieri ; et in corde tuo manens adversarius religionis nostræ, cogitabat per te facere nos idololatras, &c.' p. 1051. • Consilia vestra contra suam prolata ecclesiam reprobat Deus : nec enim potest odire populum suum, hæreditatem suam, et amare vos filios pestilentiæ, vos persecutores servorum suorum : dixisti, Facite pacem cum episcopis sectæ meæ Arrianis, et estote in unum; et dicit Dei Spiritus, vias impiorum noli exequi, nėque æmuleris viam iniquorum, &c.—- Dulce quibusdam videtur, quo tibi regi in amicitias jungantur suscipiendo hæresin tuam : sed amarius felle sensuri cum tecum in perpetuum cæperint in perpetua gehenna sentire, qui tecum esse-deligerunt, tunc dicturi, Væ nobis, qui Constantium Imperatorem Deo præposuerimus. Abundance more he writeth to prove that the Emperor being a heretic, they must have no communion with him or his bishops. And when the Emperor complained hereupon, that they wronged and dishonoured him whom they should honour, the said Lucifer wrote his next book, ‘de non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus ;' which beginneth, 'Superatum te, Imperator, à Dei servis ex omni . cum conspexisses parte, dixisti passum te ac pati à nobis contra monita sacrarum Scripturarum contumeliam : dicis nos insolentes extitisse, circa te quem honorari decuerit.

Si quisquam Dei cultorum pepercit apostatis, sint vera quæ dicis de nobis ;' and so he heapeth up as many texts for rough dealing with offending kings; I give this one instance to shew the fruits of violence, as pretended for peace and unity.

Of the persecutions of the faithful in most ages, even by professed Christians themselves, and God's disowning that spirit of cruelty by his special providences, all church history maketh mention : and how the names of such persecuting hypocrites have stunk in the nostrils of all sober men when their tragedy was fully acted and understood. Especially the poor churches called Waldenses, Picards, and Albigenses, have felt the most grievous effects of this tyranny, and yet have the testimony of the best and wisest men, to have been the purest and nearest to the apostolic simplicity in the world; and the memory of their enemies and persecutors is an abhorrence to the sons of charity and peace. Read Lasitius and Commenius of their discipline, and Bishop Usher de Eccles. succes. et statu. I will recite one notable passage mentioned by Thuanus and Commenius, the one Hist. lib. xxxvi. the other de bono Unit. et Ord. Discipl. p. 59. Maximilian that good and moderate emperor, being one day in the coach with Joh. Crato only (his chief physician and a learned Protestant) lamenting the divisions of Christians, asked Crato, which sort he thought came nearest to the apostolic simplicity : he answered, “ He thought that honour belonged to the brethren called Picards. The emperor said, 'He thought so too :' which Crato acquainting them with, encouraged them to dedicate to him a book of part of their devotions ; for the year before, God had thus marvellously saved him from having a hand in their blood. Joachimus á Nova Domo, Chancellor of Bohemia, went to Vienna, and gave the emperor no rest, till he had procured him to subscribe a mandate for the reviving of a former persecuting mandate against them; having got his commission, and passing just out at the gates of Vienna, as he was upon the bridge over the Danube, the bridge brake under him, and he and all his retinue fell into that great and terrible water ; and all were drowned except six horsemen, and one young nobleman, who seeing his lord in the waves, caught hold of his gold chain, and held him till some fishermen

CHRISTIAN

came in boats, but found him dead, and his box with the commission sunk past recovery: this nobleman who survived, was sensible of God's judgment, and turned to the brethren in religion, and the mandate was no further prosecuted. (Such another story Bishop Usher was wont to tell, how Ireland was saved from persecution in Queen Mary's days.)

But it is the most heinous cruelty, when, as in Daniel's case, there are laws of impiety or iniquity, made of purpose to entrap the innocent, by them that confess, ' We shall find no fault against this Daniel, except it be concerning the law of his God:' and then men must be taken in these spider's webs, and accused as schismatical, or what the contrivers please. And especially when it is real holiness which is hated, and order, unity, concord, peace or obedience to our pastors, is made the pretence, for the malicious oppression of it. Gildas and Salvian have told church governors of this at large : and many of the persecuted Protestants have more largely told the Roman clergy of it.

It is a smart complaint of him that wrote the Epist. de malis Doctoribus, ascribed to Pope Sixtus III. ·Hujus doctrinæ causa (pro sanctitate scilicet) paucos amicos conquirunt, et plures inimicos; necesse est enim eos qui peccatorum vitia condemnant, tantos habere contrarios, quantos exercere vitia delectat: Inde est etiam quod iniquis et impiis factionibus opprimuntur : quod criminibus falsis appetuntur, quod hæresis'etiam perfunduntur infamia : quod hic omnis inimicorum suorum sermo ab ipsorum sumit obtrectatione materiam. Sed quid mirum ut flagitiosis hæresis videatur doctrina justitiæ ? Quibus tamen hæresis ? Ipsorum secretum patet tantum inimicis ; cum si fides dictis inesset, amici illud potius scire potuissent, &c.

The cause is, saith Prosper de vit. contempl. lib. i. cap. 20. et ex eo Hilitgarius Camarac. lib. v. cap. 19. Sed nos præsentibus delectati, dum in hac vita commoda nostra et honores inquirimus, non ut meliores sed ut ditiores, non ut sanctiores, sed ut honoratiores simus, cæteris festinamus. Nec gregem domini qui nobis pascendus, tuendusque commissus est, sed nostras voluntates, dominationem, divitias, et cætera blandimenta carnaliter cogitamus. Pastores dici volumus, nec tamen esse contendimus. Officii non vitamus

laborem, appetimus dignitatem; immundorum spirituum feras á grege dilacerando non pellimus; et quod eis remanserat, ipsi consumimus : quando peccantes divites vel potentes non solum non arguimus, sed etiam veneramur; ne nobis aut munera solita offensi non dirigant, aut obsequia desiderata subducant: ac sic muneribus eorum et obsequiis capti, immo per hæc illis addicti, loqui eis de peccato suo aut de futuro judicio formidamus : ad hoc tantum potentes effecti, ut nobis in subjectos dominationem tyrannicam vindicemus; non ut affictos contra violentiam potentum qui in eos ferarum more sæviunt, defendamus. Inde est quod tam á Potentibus hujus mundi, quam á nobis, quod pejus est, nonnulli graviter fatigati depereunt, quos se de manu nostra Dominus requisiturum terribiliter comminatur-

Sulp. Severus also toucheth the sore when he saith, Hist. lib. ii. Certatim gloriosa in certamina ruebatur, multoque avidius tum martyria gloriosis mortibus quærebantur, quam nunc episcopatus pravis ambitionibus appetuntur.'

But when he saith ibid. after Constantine's delivery of the church, ' Neque ulterius persecutionem fore credimus, nisi eam quam sub fine jam sæculi antichristus exercebit,' either he was very grossly mistaken, or else those are the instruments of antichrist that are not thought so.

It is a most notable instance to our purpose which Severus ends his history with, of the mischievous zeal of orthodox Ithacius and Idacius against Priscillian and his Gnostics; and worthy of the study of the prelates of the church : • Idacius sine modo et ultra quam oportuit Istantium sociosque ejus lacessens, facem nascenti incendio subdidit: ut exasperavit malos potius quam compresserit.' In sum, they got the magistrate to interpose and banish the Gnostics, who quickly learned by bribing court officers to turn the emperor against the orthodox for themselves; till the zeal of Idacius and Ithacius grew so hot as to accuse even the best men, yea, St. Martin himself of favoring the Gnostics : and at last got another tyrannical emperor to put Priscillian and many other Gnostics to death, though they withdrew from the accusation, as tending to their own confusion. And Severus saith, “Certe Ithacium nihil pensi, nihil sancti habuisse definio : fuit enim audax, loquax, impudens, sumptuosus, veneri et gulæ plurimum impertinens.

« AnteriorContinuar »