Imágenes de páginas

which dwell therein, to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed.” In the preced

dered as the supreme and universal bishop; and this will not appear surprising to any who reflect upon the enormous strides which the bishops of Rome made towards unbounded ambition in this barbarous and superstitious age, whose corruption and darkness were peculiarly favourable to their ambiticus preten. sions. It is true, we have no example of any person solemuly sainted by the bishop of Rome alone, before the tenth century, when Udalric, bishop of Augsburg, received this dignity in a for : mal manner from John XV. It is, however, certain that before that time the Roman pontiffs were consulted in matters of that nature, and their judgment respected in the choice of those that were to be honoured with saintship; and it was by such steps as these, that the church of Rome engrossed to itself the creation of these tutelary divinities, which, at length, was distinguished by the title of Canonization. This preposterous multiplication of saints was a new source of abuses and frauds. It was thought necessary to write the lives of these celestial patrons, in order to procure for them the veneration and confidence of a deluded multitude; and here lying wonders were invented, and all the resources of forgery and fable exhausted, to celebrate exploits which had never been performed, and to perpetuate the memory of holy persons who had never existed. We have yet extant a prodigious quantity of these triling legends, the greatest part of which were, undoubtedly, forged after the time of Charlemagne by the monastic writers. The same impostors, who peopled the celestial regions with fictitious saints, employed also their fruit.' ful inventions in embellishing with false miracles, and various other impertinent forgeries, the history of those who had been really martyrs or confessors in the cause of Christ. It was not enough to reverence departed saints, and to confide in their in. tercession and succours; it was not enough to clothe them with an imaginary power of healing diseases, werking miracles, and delivering from all sorts of calamities and dangers; their bones,

ing verse the two-horned beast was represented as rising out of the earth, that is, obtaining gradually

their clothes, the apparel and furniture they had possessed during their lives, the very ground which they had touched, or in which their putrefied carcases were laid, were treated with a stupid veneration, and supposed to retain the marvellous virtue of healing all disorders, both of body and mind, and of defending such as possessed them against all the assaults and devices of Satan. The consequence of this wretched notion was, that every one was eager to provide himself with these salutary remedies, for which purpose great numbers undertook fatiguing and perilous voyages, and subjected themselves to all sorts of hardships: while others made use of this delusion to accumulate their riches, and to impose upon the miserable multitude by the most impious and shocking inventions. As the demand for relics was prodigious and universal, the clergy employed all their dexterity to satisfy these demands, and were far from being nice in the methods they used for that end. The bodies of the saints were sought by fasting and prayer instituted by the priest in order to obtain a Divine answer, and 'an infallible direction; and this pretended direction never failed to accomplish their desires; the holy carcase was always found, and that always in consequence, as they impiously gave out, of the suggestion and inspiration of God himself. Each discovery of this kind was attended with excessive demonstrations of joy, and animated the zeal of these devout seekers to enrich the church still more and more with this new kind of treasure. Many travelled with this view into the eastern provinces, and frequented the places which Christ and his disciples had honoured with their presence, that, with the bones and other sacred remains of the first heralds of the Gospel, they might comfort dejected minds, calm trembling consciences, save sinking states, and defend their inhabitants from all sorts of calamities. Nor did these pious travellers return home empty; the craft, dexterity, and knavery, of the Greeks found a rich prey in the stupid credulity of the Latin relic-hunt

· more and more influence in the civil affairs of the

Latin world. Here he is represented as having obtained the direction and management of all the power of the first beast, or secular Latin empire, before him, £VÁTION OUTOŪ, in his presence. That the false-prophet had the extensive power here spoken of is evident from history; and it is well known that the civil power was in subjection to the ecclesiastical. " Many (German) bishops,” Mr. Lowman observes; “had large temporal dominions bestowed upon them, in which they had regal and sovereign authority: they receive homage, and an oath of fealty from their subjects: they have the supreme power of the sword, both in the punishment of their subjects, and in making war; they coin money, levy taxes, make treaties with the other princes of the empire, and with foreign princes; and have all the rights of sovereignty, in as full manner as any of the se

ers, and made a profitable commerce of this new devotion. The latter paid considerable sums for legs and arms, skulls and jawi bones, (several of which were Pagan, and some not human,) and others that were supposed to have belonged to the primitive worthies of the Christian church; and thus the Latin churches came to the possession of those celebrated relics of St. Mark, St. James, St. Bartholomew, Cyprian, Paritaleon, and others, which they shew at this day with so much ostentation. But there were many, who, 'unable to procure for themselves these spiritual treasures by voyages and prayers, had recourse to violence and theft; for all sorts of means, and all sorts of attempts, in a cause of this nature were considered, when successful, as pious and acceptable to the Supreme Being.” Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, Cent. IX. Part 11. chap. 3, § 3, 4, 5, 6.

cular electors, or princes of the empire. A very great part of Germany is thus in the hands of ecclesiastical persons, with temporal jurisdiction. It has been observed, that in about seventy years, from A. D. 936 to 1002, the three Othos, who succeeded each other in the empire, gave two-thirds of the estates of Germany to ecclesiastics, as Heiss, a Roman Catholic historian, informs us."* Extraordinary as the power of the secular clergy has been in all parts of the Latin empire, it was but feeble when compared with that of the monastic orders, especially the Mendicant Friars, who first made their appearance in the early part of the thirteenth century. These friars were divided by Gregory X. in a general council which he assembled at Lyons in 1272, into the four following societies or denominations, viz. the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Hermits of St. Augustine. All these orders were very highly venerated by all orders and degrees of people. Mosheim's account of them is as follows: “As the pono' tiffs allowed these four Mendicant orders the liberty of travelling wherever they thought proper, of con• versing with persons of all ranks, of instructing the youth and the multitude wherever they went; and as these monks exhibited, in their outward appearance and manner of life, more striking marks of gravity and holiness, than were observable in

* See his Paraphrase and Notes on the Revelation of St. John, in los.

the other monastic societies, they arose all at once to the very summit of fame, and were regarded with the utmost esteem and veneration throughout all the countries of Europe. The enthusiastic attachment to these sanctimonious beggars went so far, that, as we learn from the most authentic records, several cities were divided, or cantoned out, into four parts, with a view to these four orders; the first part was assigned to the Dominicans, the second to the Franciscans, the third to the Carmelites, and the fourth to the Augustinians. The people were unwilling to receive the sacraments from any other hands than those of the Mendicants, to whose churches they crowded to perform their devotions, while living; and were extremely desirous to deposit there also their remains after death; all which, occasioned grievous complaints among the ordinary priests, to whom the cure of souls was committed, and who considered themselves as the i spiritual guides of the multitude. Nor did the influence and credit of the Mendicants end here; for we find, in the history of this and the succeeding ages, that they were employed not only in spiritual matters, but also in temporal and political affairs of the greatest consequence, in composing the differences of princes, concluding treaties of peace, concerting alliances, presiding in cabinetcouncils, governing courts, levying taxes, and other occupations, not only remote from, but absolutely inconsistent with, the monastic character and profession. We must not, however, imagine that all

« AnteriorContinuar »