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noble army of reformers acted upon this principle, we, in this enlightened day, had been paying our adorations to a tenpenny nail, or attending the levee of the Lady of Loretto !
I bless the great author of my being that I was not cast in that mould !--there are few things that gratify me more, in this world of sin and sorrow, than to have an opportunity of recording the disinterested labours of such persons as, under circumstances of discouragement, and often at the expense of charaeter, liberty, property, and life, have stood forward to stem the torrent of corruption and advocate the cause of God and truth. It was this principle that prompted me many years ago to prosecute my inquiries into the history of the Waldenses and Albigenses, and to lay the result before the public : in doing which, I would fondly hope, I contributed my mite towards enlightening the public mind, exposing that mass of hypocrisy, perfidy, cruelty, injustice, and oppression, which had for centuries passed under the name of the “Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Church,' and vindicating the character of these much injured followers of the Lamb. The sectaries now mentioned, whose fame is become so dear to thousands of Christians in the present day, were the genuine descendants of the Novatianists, the Donatists, the Ærians, and others whom I shall hereafter have to introduce to your notice. They were actuated by the same spirit, walked in the same path, and had the same noble ends in view, viz. the glory of God, the honour of the Redeemer, and the best interests of their fellow creatures ; and though it fell to their lot to be calumniated, persecuted, and, in ten thousand times ten thousand instances, to seal their testimony with their blood, yet were their lives honourable in the estimation of the Most High, and their deaths precious in his sight. May my lot be found among theirs in that day, when Jesus shall come again to take account of his servants and number up his jewels !
As to the four errors which are laid to the charge of Ærius, and for maintaining which he was placed in the list of heretics, I must offer a remark or two before bringing this Lecture to a close. First, he denied that, according to the Scriptures, a presbyter differed in order or degree from a bishop. And, certainly, this distinction, though generally admitted in the fourth century, when Ærius lived, has no sanction from the apostolic writings.
This is a point on which I have so often insisted, in preceding Lectures, that it may suffice to remind you of what has been already said, p. 266. I may, however, add, in this place, that the holy apostles, though the accrediteda mbassadors of the Lord Jesus, were content to rank themselves among the elders or presbyters of the churches. Thus, for instance, Peter exhorts :-“The presbyters which are among you I exhort, who am also a presbyter and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed : feed the flock of God which is among you, exercising the bishop's office, not by constraint but willingly, &c.” 1 Pet. v. 1. This is a literal version of the apostle's words ; and you see that, while the apostle ranks himself among the presbyters, he enjoins it upon the latter to perform the bishop's work, committing the entire care of the flock into their hands. So also we find the apostle John once and again subscribing himself the Prebyter, O Ipoßurepes, 2 Joh. ver. 1, and 3 Ep. ver. 1. The distinction, therefore, between the bishop and the presbyter, and the superiority of the former to the latter, were unknown in the apostle's days, have no sanction in their writings, and must be placed to the account of the corruption of Christianity.
Another article in what was termed the heresy of Ærius was his denying that Christians are under any obligation to attend to the annual solemnity now termed Easter—that it was not enforced by either apostolic precept, or approved example, and consequently that its observance was a piece of mere will-worship. As I have hitherto abstained from noticing this matter, I avail myself of the present opportunity to remark that, for several centuries, the time of observing Easter day, and the previous fast, furnished a fruitful source of contention in the church. In order to settle it, councils were held in Asia, Syria, and Palestine in the east; and in Italy and France in the west. Decisions were pronounced against the Asiatics, who kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the month, after the Jewish custom, by Victor, bishop of Rome, in a synod held in that city in the second century, and the sentence was sent to other churches. This prelate insisted on its being held on a Sunday, pleading a tradition from the apostles Paul and Peter ; but Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, an aged man, pleaded a command from the apostle John for “
holding it on the third day after the fourteenth day of the paschal full moon. Many bitter animosities and schisms arose out of this contested point, until the council of Nice, convened by Constantine the Great, decided that the Sunday after the fourteenth of the moon was the proper time, and from that epoch it became the practice of the western churches.
It is truly marvellous that, in all this time, the question seems never to have been started among them, “Who hath required this thing at your hands ?” And the fact is in place of a thousand arguments to show how much the churches were under the influence of unwritten tradition. Ærius, however, took different ground; he said of this, as the apostles said of a tradition which some teachers brought from them in Jerusalem to Antioch, that
they gave no such commandment”-they gave no commandment about the annual celebration of a paschal feast at Easter. That usage or observance, though the most ancient of all unscriptural usages, was never sanctioned by the apostles-it is not to be found in their writings, and therefore ought to be rejected as a practice wholly foreign to true Christian unity, and serving no other purpose than tò divide those whom Christ would have united solely by the word of his apostles. As to calling in question fixed annual fasts, and offering up prayers for the dead, both of which were imputed to Ærius as part of his heresy, they admit of the same answer as that now given to the non-observance of Easter-there is no authority whatever for these things in the New Testament, and on this ground Ærius rejected them, for this heretic thought himself at liberty to deny every thing in the religion of his day which he could not find supported by the authority of the holy Scripture.
In taking leave of this class of reformers I cannot but remark it as a singular circumstance that while Mosheim mentions them chiefly with the view of censuring them for troubling a corrupt church with plans of reform, and impugning their motives, several of our ecclesiastical writers have not even condescended to notice them at all, among whom are Du Pin, Spanheim, Milner, Haweis, and others; a pretty convincing proof, how little concerned they were to trace out the “footsteps of the flock” or mark the deviations that took place from apostolic simplicity
LECTURE XX VI.
Introductory Remarks- History of the Papal Power-Its un
paralleled singularity-Steps by which the Bishops of Rome gradually advanced to the plenitude of their powerProgressive advance from the Elder or Presbyter to Bishop, Archbishop, Patriarch, Pope-Grounds on which the Church of Rome claimed Supremacy over other Churches— The Bishopric of Rome an object of competition-Squabbles to obtain itRise of the Pope's Temporal power-Sources of opulence to the Clergy—The Laity resist their Incroachments—History of the origin and appropriation of Tithes--Remarks on the Antichristian character and tendency of this source of Revenue- Application of the subject to the Church of England-Contest between the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople
for the Supremacy-Letter of Gregory the Great to the Emperor of Constantinople-Success of the Roman Pontiff. A. D. 500 to 606.
I have had occasion in several of the preceding Lectures to speak of the rise of Antichrist, that singular power which was foretold by the prophet Daniel, under the emblem of “a little horn” springing up out of the ruins of the Roman Empire, and of whose exploits, both in the church and the world, much is there predicted, Dan. ch. vii. I need not tell you that those who have had occasion to speak or write concerning this article of Old Testament prophecy, have availed themselves of a variety of descriptive epithets whereby to make it known, but all of them significant in their import, and strikingly characteristic of its nature and properties. Thus, what Daniel terms “ a little
horn,” the apostle terms “the man of sin—the son of perdition,” and the writer of the Apocalypse, “a beast” _“a great whore” -“the mother of harlots,”—“ Babylon the great,” &c. &c. Now, though there may be slight shades of difference in the précise import of these terms, yet I apprehend that there is a sufficient correspondence and analogy between them to lay a foundation for our applying the whole to one and the same specific power.
Some modern writers, when treating on this subject, have preferred to speak of it as the “ Kingdom of the Clergy,” and not without reason, because, when the holy apostles mention its origin, they immediately direct us to the indulgence of covetousness, inordinate ambition, and the love of pre-eminence and power on the part of the ministers of religion, as its source, fountain, or spring; for they are principles in flagrant opposition to the laws of the kingdom of Christ. Nor is it on account of its origin merely that it becomes entitled to this appellation ; for the closer you look into the subject to examine its nature and constituent principles, the more satisfied you will be, that the unauthorized assumption of clerical authority over the minds, consciences, property, and bodies of men, and that by means which the religion of Christ deprecates, enters deeply into its composition, and constitutes it what it is. Contemplating it as a kingdom, or system of ecclesiastical rule, it forms a striking contrast to the heavenly kingdom of the Messiah, and I am of opinion is not unhappily designated “ the Kingdom of the Clergy.”
To what has been now said, I will, however, add, that one of the most common and familiar appellations which is given to this power, by the writers of ecclesiastical history, is that of the Papacy, because the popes, or bishops of the church of Rome, were what are vulgarly termed the “ring-leaders” in a confederacy, in which they usurped the authority that appertains to Christ alone in his churches, and which he never delegated to another. But I would not be misunderstood here as insinuating that the popes were the only delinquents in this “mystery of iniquity :" it is sufficient to allow them the precedence (Quorum pars' magna fuimus )—their arrogant pretensions to be Christ's vicegerents on earth, were supported by the whole hierarchy, and