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553 ; in the course of which, Vigilius bishop of Rome acted such an unbecoming part, as produced an open schism in the Western church for many years.
Early in the seventh century, were sown the seeds of that fatal contention about universal supremacy, which, in the end, did effectually rend the One, Catholic, church. This supremacy was first claimed by the bishop of Constantinople, and manfully opposed by Gregory bishop of Rome; who, as he disclaimed it for himself, condemned it in any other bishop. Regardless, however, of his predecessor's bright example, Gregory's successor, Boniface, insisted for the gaudy title, and had it conferred upon him by the bloody usurper Phocas, who had inhumanly murdered Gregory's faithful friend, the worthy Emperor Mauritius. And now burst forth “ the
“ the very overflowings of ungodliness,” when the desolations of Mahometanism, like a cataract from the mountains, swept all before it; carrying havoc and destruction, both in matters spiritual, and matters temporal, over the whole face of the Eastern church. Notwithstanding which we find, to our great surprise, the woeful spirit of contention, and innovation, still prevailing. For, about the middle of the seventh century, was broached at Constantinople, upon the Eutychian plan, the Monothelite doctrine of one will, and one operation, in Christ. After having reached the Western church, where it infected one Pope, Honorius, and occasioned the death of another, Martin, this heresy was condemned, in a sixth General Council, and all its abettors (Pope Honorius himself not excepted), anathematized.
The eighth century commenced, with the Western part of the empire shaking off the jurisdiction of the Emperor, in the East. This schism was occasioned, as history informs us, by the Emperor Leo Isaurus prohibiting the worship of images ; a practice which was, at the time, creeping into the rituals of the church, and which had been, from its first adoption, distinguished by the papal favour. Nay, the Roman pontiffs, out of resentment, nicknamed the Emperor Leo, Iconomachus, because he opposed the practice, which, through their influence, paved the way for the mighty disruption, which afterwards followed, in the person of the celebrated Charlemagne. This noyelty of intage-worship was condemned in a Council held at Constantinople, and consisting of 330 bishops, anno 754. It was received and established in another Council held at Nice, termed by the Romanists, the Seventh General Council, anno 787. And it was rejected, anno 794, by upwards of 300 bishops, convened for that purpose at Frankfort, in Germany, by Charlemagne, who, although raised by the Popes to the imperial throne, yet strenuously opposed their introduction of image-worship. This however, to their disgrace, they afterwards succeeded in establishing
The whole of the ninth century was occupied with the dispute, about precedency, between the churches of Constantinople and Rome. This dispute, towards the conclusion of this century, led to a violent competition, for the patriarchate of Constantinople, between Ignatius and Photius. One Council, (anno 869), reckoned by the Romanists the eighth General Council, determined for Ignatius, and deposed Photius. Another, (anno 879), held, by the Greek church, to be the only true one, deposed Ignatius, and re-established Photius in the dignity of Patriarch. In this deposition, Pope John the VIIIth of that name, concurred ; and, by receiving Photius into communion, thought to prevent the threatening breach. But his successors, in the Roman see, soon reverted to former schemes of àmbitious violence; the issue of which was the completion of this long agitated rupture. Without entering into the merits of the contest, I shall merely state, that, as far as regards the patriarch Photius, to whom the Greeks continued to adhere, he appears to me, from the works which he penned, (particularly from his “ Nomocanon,' and · Biblio
theca,') to have been a man endowed with as valuable a portion of universal literature, and knowledge, as any son of whom the Greek church ever had to boast.
LET. LETTER VIII.
AS the centuries immediately subsequent to the ninth, have been well termed, by the Roman annalist Baronius, “the sæculum of iron and lead,” I need not waste the reader's time, with a minute enquiry into what was then the state of the christian church, and of the prevailing sentiments on the subject of the Deity of Christ. And I have this
apology to make for the digression from this subject, which forms the contents of the preceding letter, that I was led into it, from a wish to account, in some measure, for the little regard shewn, after the 4th century, to the great dispute then agitatedwhether “ generation," strictly so called, should be applied actively, or passively, to Deity. In the 12th century, it is true, that Abelard, and, much about the same period, two Cistertian abbots, named Joachim and Laudo, proposed to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity, in a different way.
But these attempts, (and, it may be, many others are recorded) were soon quashed by the stroke of a papal anathema, now, as it were, become omnipotent. For • eternal generation,' in the modern acceptation of the terms, was the standard language of the
Roman church, so early as the end of the eighth century. This appears in the confutation of what was then called, the • Adoptionarian’ heresy of two Spanish bishops, Felix and Elipandus, by the learned Alcuin, (the Latin luminary of that age), and his associates. There we frequently meet the terms
sempiternus, de sempiterno patre genitus—the eternal “ Son of the eternal Father ;" the very language: this of modern theology.
Yet in the inanagement of the controversy, to which the adoptionarian heresy' gave birth, and of which it is difficult for us to ascertain either the meaning or the design, it is visible to what straits the catholic disputants are reduced by their pertinacious adherence to this language. Thus, when other arguments begin to fail him, Alcuin himself resorts to “ Romana auctoritas," the authority of the Roman church,“ which,” according to him, " ought to be “ followed by all catholics and true believers." Strange language this from one, who, in the article of image-worship, had not only dissented from the Roman church, but even opposed this church, with Pope Adrian at its head. Alcuin's superior abilities silenced the doctrinal fancy of the adoptionarians, which after all could have done little harm. But the practical and more absurd fancy of image-worship withstood the abilities of an Alcuin ; and was finally sanctioned by the very • Romana auctoritas,' which he urged in the other case as obligatory “on * all catholics and true believers.” What wonder