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V. PART I.
CENT. vinces; and sometimes carried their desolations as
far as Rome, which they ravaged and plundered
A fierce and warlike people, issuing
These new monarchs of the west prétended to acknowledge the supremacy of the emperors who resided at Constantinople, and gave some faint external marks of a disposition to reign in subordination to them; but, in reality, they ruled with an absolute independence, in their respective governments; and, as appears particularly by the dominion exercised by Theodoric in Italy, left nothingʻremaining to the eastern emperors but a mere shadow of power and authority [b].
[a] See, for a fuller illustration of this branch of history, the learned work of De Bos, intitled, Histoire Critique de la Mon. archie Francoise, tom. I. p. 258 ; as also Mascow's History of the Germans.
[b] Car. du Fresne, Dissert. xxiii. ad Histor. Ludovici S. p. 280. Muratorii Antiq. Ital. tom. ii. p. 578. 832.
V. PART I.
II. These constant wars, and the inexpressible CENT. calamities with which they were attended, were undoubtedly detrimental to the cause and progress of Christianity.
It must, however, be ac- The farther knowledged that the Christian emperors, espe- decline of
idolatry. cially those who ruled in the east, were active and assiduous in extirpating the remains of the ancient superstitions. Theodosius the younger distinguished himself in this pious and noble work, and many remarkable monuments of his zeal in this matter are still preserved [c]; such as the laws which enjoined either the destruction of the heathen temples, or the dedication of them to Christ and his saints; the edicts, by which he abrogated the sacrilegious rites and ceremonies of Paganism, and removed from all offices and employments in the state such as persevered in their attachment to the absurdities of Polytheism.
This spirit of reformation appeared with less vigour in the western empire. There the feasts of Saturn and Pan, the combats of the gladiators, and other rites that were instituted in hon nour of the Pagan deities, were celebrated with the utmost freedom and impunity; and persons of the highest rank and authority professed publicly the religion of their idolatrous ancestors [d]. This liberty was, however, from time to time,
Giannone, Histoire de Naples, tom'i. p. 207. Jo Cochlaei Vita Theodorici Ostrogothorum regis, printed in 4to in the year 1699, with the observations and remarks of Peringskiold. [c] See the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. P
327, [d] See the Saturnalia of Macrobius, lib. i. p. 100. edit. Gronov. Scipio Maffei delli Anfiteatri, lib. i. p. 56,57. Pierre le Brun, Hist. Critique des Partiques superstitieuses, tom. i. 237. and above all, Montfaucon, Diss de Moribus tempore Theodosii M. et Arcadii, which is to be found in Latin, in the eleventh volume of the works of St. Chrysostom, and in French, in the twentieth volume of the Memoires, de l' Academie des Inscrip tions et des Belles Lettres, po 197.
CENT. reduced within narrower limits; and all those
public sports and festivals, that were more peculiarly incompatible with the genius and sanctity of the Christian religion, were every where abolished [e.].
III. The limits of the church continued to to Christia-extend themselves, and gained ground daily upon nity. the idolatrous nations, both in the eastern and
western empires. In the east, the inhabitants of mount Libanus and Antilibanus being dreadfully infested with wild beasts, implored the assistance and counsels of the famous Simeon the Stylite, of whom we shall have occasion to speak hereafter. Simeon gave them for answer, that the only effectual method of removing this calamity was, to abandon the superstitious worship of their ancestors, and substitute the Christian religion in its place.
The docility of this people, joined to the extremities to which they were reduced, engaged them to follow the counsels of this holy man. They embraced Christianity, and in consequence of their conversion, they had the pleasure of seeing their savage enemies abandon their habitations : if we may believe the writers who affirm the truth of this prodigy. The same Simeon, by his influence and authority, introduced the Christian worship into a certain district of the Arabians : some allege, that this also was effected by a miracle, which to me appears somewhat more than doubtful [$]. To these instances of the progress of the gospel, we may add the conversion of a considerable number of Jews in the isle of Crete ; who, finding themselves grossly deluded by the impious pretensions of an impostor,
[e] Anastasius prohibited, towards the conclusion of this century, the combats with the wild beasts, and other shews. Asseman. Biblioth. Orient, Vatic. tom. i. p. 246.
[f] Assemanni Bibl. Orient. Vat. tom. i. p. 246.
V. PART I.
version of the Gere
called Moses Cretensis [g], who gave himself out CENT. for the Messiah, opened their eyes upon the truth, and embraced the Christian religion of their own accord [h].
IV. The German nations, who rent in pieces The conthe Roman empire in the west, were not all converted to Christianity at the same time. Some man naof them had embraced the truth before the time tions to of their incursion; and such, among others, was ty. the case of the Goths. Others, after having erected their little kingdoms in the empire, embraced the gospel, that
they might thus live with more security amidst a people, who, in general, professed the Christian religion. It is, however, uncertain (and likely to continue so) at what time, and by whose ministry the Vandals, Sueves, and Alans were converted to Christianity. With respect to the Burgundians, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, and who passed from thence into Gaul, we are informed by Socrates [i], that they embraced the gospel of their own accord, from a notion that Christ, or the 'God of the Romans, who had been represented to them as a most powerful being, would defend them against B3
♡ [g] We shall give the relation of Socrates, concerning this impostor, in the words of the learned and estimable author of the Remarks on Eçclesiastical History. « In the time of “ Theodosius the younger, an impostor arose, called Moses « Cretensis. He pretended to be a second Moses, sent to de. “ liver the Jews who dwelt in Crete, and promised to divide the “ sea, and give them a safe passage through it. They assem“ bled together, with their wives and children, and followed “ him to a promontory. He there commanded them
to cast “ themselves into the sea. · Many of them obeyed, and perish. “ ed in the waters, and many were taken up and saved by fish. “ ermen. Upon this, the deluded Jews would have torn the “ impostor to pieces, but he escaped them and was seen' no “ more.” See Jortin's Remarks, &c. first edition, vol. iii. po 331.
[h] Socrates, Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. xxxviii. p. 383. [i] Idem, Hist. Eccles. lib. vii, cap. xxx. p. 371.
v. PART I.
CENT. the rapines and incursions of the Huns. They
afterwards sided with the Arian party, to which also the Vandals, Sueves, and Goths were zealously attached. All these fierce and warlike nations judged a religion excellent, in proportion to the success which crowned the arms of those that professed it, and esteemed, consequently, that doctrine the best, whose professors had gained the greatest number of victories. When there, fore they saw the Romans possessed of an empire much more extensive than that of any other people, they concluded that Christ, their God, was of all others the most worthy of religious
V. It was the same principle and the same views that engaged Clovis [K] king of the Salii, a nation of the Franks, to embrace Christianity. This prince, whose signal valour was accompa. nied with barbarity, arrogance, and injustice, founded the kingdom of the Franks, in Gaul, after having made himself master of a great part of that country, and meditated with a singular eagerness and avidity the conquest of the whole. His conversion to the Christian religion, is dated from the battle he fought with the Alemans, in the year 496, at the village called Tolbiacum [l]; in which, when the Franks began to give ground, and their affairs seemed desperate, he implored the assistance of Christ (whom his queen Clothildis, daughter of the king of the Burgundians, bad often represented to him, in vain, as the Son of the true God), and solemnly engaged himself, by a vow, to worship him as his God, if he rendered him victorious over his enemies. Victory decided in
[k] Besides the name of Clovis, this prince was also called Clodovæus, Hludovicus, Ludovicus, and Ludicin.
o [l] Tolbiacum is thought to be the present Zulpick, which is about twelve miles from Cologn.