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order of F. dedicated a holy race, a tribe or family, to the perpetual ser vice of the *:::) Such institutions were founded for possession rather than conquest. The children of the priests enjoyed, with proud and indolent security, their sacred inheritance; and the fiery spirit of enthusiasm was abated § the cares, the pleasures, and the endearments of domestic life. But the hristian sanctuary was open to every ambitious candidate, who aspired to its heavenly promises, or temporal possessions. The office of priests, like that of soldiers or magistrates, was strenuously exercised by those men, whose temper and abilities had prompted them to embrace the ecclesiastical profession, or who had been selected by a discerning bishop, as the best qualified to promote the glory and interest .##. church. The bishops(95) § the abuse was restrained by the prudence of the laws) o constrain the reluctant, and protect the distressed; and the imposition of hands for ever bestowed some of the most valuable privileges of civil society. The whole body of the Catholic clergy, more numerous perhaps than the legions, was exempted by the empe: rors from all service, private or public, all . offices, and all personal taxes and contributions, which pressed on their fellow-citizens with intolerable weight; and the duties of their holy profession were accepted as a full discharge of their obligations to the republic.(96). Each bishop acquired an absolute and indefeasible right to the perpetual obedience of the clerk whom he ordained; the clergy of each episcopal church, with its dependent parishes, formed a regular and permanent society; and the cathedrals of Constantinople(97) and Cartha o maintained their peculiar establishment of five hundred ecclesiastical ministers. Their ranks(99) and numbers were insensibly multiplied by the superstition of the times, which introduced into the church the splendid ceremonies of a Jewish or Pagan temple; and a long train of priests, deacons, sub-deacons, acolythes, exorcists, readers, singers, and door-keepers, contributed, in their respective stations, to swell the pomp and harmony of religious worship. The clerical name and privilege were extended to many pious fraternities, who devoutly supported the ecclesiastical throne.(100). Six hundred parabolani, or adventurers, visited the sick at Alexandria; eleven hundred copiate, or grave-diggers, buried the dead at Constantinople; and the swarms of monks, who rose from the Nile, overspread and darkened the face of the Christian world. III. The edict of Milan secured the revenue as well as the peace of the church.(101) The Christians not only recovered the lands and houses of which they had been stripped by the persecuting laws of Dioclesian, but they acquired
(94) Diodorus Siculus attests and approves the hereditary succession of the priesthood among the Fryptians, the Chaldeans, and the Indians. (l. i. p. 84, l. ii. p. 142. 153, edit. Wesseling.) The magi are described by Ammianus as a very numerous family: “Per saecula multa ad presens una eadernque prosapid multitudo creata, Deorum cultibus dedicata.” (xxiii. 6.) Ausonius celebrates the Stirps Druidarum (De Professorib. Burdigal. iv.); but we may infer from the remark of Cesar (vi.13), that in the Celtic hierarchy some room was left for choice and emulation. (95) The subject of the vocation, ordination, obedience, &c. of the clergy, is laboriously discussed by Thomassin (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. ii. p. i-s3) and Bingham (in the 4th book of his Antiquities, more especially the 4th, 6th, and 7th chapters). When the brother of St. Jerom was ordained in Cyprus. the deacons forcibly stopped his mouth, lest he should make a solemn protestation, which might invalidate the holy rites. (96) The charter of immunities, which the clergy obtained from the Christian emperors, is contained in the 16th book of the Theodosian Code; and is illustrated with tolerable candour by the learned Godefroy, whose mind was balanced by the opposite prejudices of a civilian and a protestant. (97) Justinian Novel. eiii. Sixty presbyters, or priests, one hundred deacons, forty deaconesses, ninety sub-deacons, one hundred and ten readers, twenty-five chanters, and one hundred door-keepers; in all, five hundred and twenty-five. This moderate number was fixed by the emperor, to relieve the distress of the church, which had bec.: involved in debt and usury by the expense of a much higher establishment. (98) Universus clerus ecclesiae Carthaginiensis...... fere quingenti vel amplius; inter quos quantplurimi erant lectores infantuli. Victor Witensis, de Persecut. Vandal. v. 9, p. 78, edit. Ruinart. This remnant of a more prosperous state still subsisted under the oppression of the Vandals. (99) The number of seven orders has been fixed in the Latin church, exclusive of the episcopal character. But the four inferior ranks, the minor orders, are now reduced to empty and useless titles. (100) See Cod. Theod. 1. xvi. tit.2, leg. 42, 43. Godefroy's Commentary, and the Ecclesiastical History of Alexandria, show the danger of these pious institutions, which o disturbed the peace of that turbulent capital. (101) #". of Milan (de M. P. c. 48,) acknowledges, by reciting, that there existed aspecies of landed property, ad jus corporiseorum, id est ecclesiarum non hominum singulorum inentia. Such a solemn declaration. cf. the supreme magistrate must have been received in all the tribunals as a mafim on civil law.
a perfect title to all the possessions which they had hitherto enjoyed by the connivance of the magistrate. As soon as Christianity became the religion of the emperor and the empire, the national clergy might claim a decent and honourable maintenance: and the payment of an annual tax might have delivered the people from the more oppressive tribute which superstition imposes on her votaries. But as the wants and expenses of the church increased with her prosperity, the ecclesiastical order was still o and enriched by the voluntary oblations of the faithful. . Eight years after the edict of Milan, 3. granted to all his subjects the free and universal permission of bequeathing their fortunes to the holy Catholic church;(102) and their devout liberality, which during their lives was checked by luxury or avarice, flowed with a profuse stream at the hour of their death. The wealthy Christians were encouraged by the example of their sovereign. An absolute monarch, who is rich without patrimony, may be charitable without merit; and Con stantine too easily believed that he should purchase the favour of Heaven, is he maintained the idle at the expense of the industrious; and distributed among the saints the wealth of the republic. The same messenger who carried over to Africa the head of Maxentius, might be intrusted with an epistle to Cecilian, bishop of Carthage. The emperor acquaints him, that the treasurers of the province are directed to pay into his hands the sum of three thousand folles, or eighteen thousand pounds sterling, and to obey his farther requisitions for the relief of the churches of Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania.(103). The liberality of Constantine increased in a just proportion to his faith and to his vices. #. assigned in each city a regular allowance of corn, to supply the fund of ecclesiastical charity; and the persons of both sexes who embraced the monastic life, became the peculiar favourites of their sovereign. The Christian temples of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople, &c. displayed the ostentatious piety of a prince, ambitious in a declining age to equal the perfect labours of antiquity.(104) . The form of these religious edifices was simple and oblong; though they might sometimes swell into the shape of a dome, and sometimes branch into the figure of a cross. The timbers were framed for the most |. of cedars of Libanus; the roof was covered with tiles, perhaps of gilt brass, and the walls, the columns, the pavements, were incrusted with variegated marbles. The most precious ornaments of gold and silver, of silk and gems, were profusely dedicated to the service of the altar; and this specious magnificence was supported on the solid and perpetual basis of landed property. In the space of two centuries, from the reign of Constantine to that of Justinian, the eighteen hundred churches of the empire were enriched by the frequent and unalienable gifts of the prince and people. An annual income of six hundred pounds sterling may be reasonably assigned to the bishops, who were placed at an equal distance between riches and poverty,(105) . the standard of their wealth insensibly rose with the dignity and opulence of the cities which they governed. An authentic but impersect(106) rent-roll specifies some houses, shops, gardens, and farms, which belonged to
(102) Habeat unusquisque licentiam sanctissimo Catholica (ecclesia) venerabilique concilio, decedens honorum, quod optavit relinquere. Cod. Theod. l. xvi. tit. ii. leg. 4. This law was published at Rome, *o:o at a time when Constantine might foresee the probability of a rupture with the emperor of
(103) £usebius, Hist. Eccles. 1. x. 6, in Vit. Constantin. l. iv. c. 28. He repeatedly expatiates on the liberality of the Christian hero, which the bishop himself had an opportunity of knowing, and even of *; Eusebius. Hist. Eccles. 1; x. c. 2,34. The bishop of Cesarea, who studied and gratified the taste of his master, pronounced in public an elaborate description of the church of Jerusalem (in Wit. Comst. I. iv. c. 46). It no longer exists, but he has inserted in the life of Constantine (l. iii. c. 36), a short account of the o and ornaments. He likewise mentions the church of the holy Apostles at Constan*f; oian. Novell. cxxiii. 3. The revenue of the patriarchs, and the most wealthy bishops, is not expressed; the highest annual valuation of a bishopric is stated at thirty, and the lowest at tree, pounds of gold; the medium might be taken at sixteen, but these valuations are much below the real o, See Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A. D.324, No. 58.65, 70,71). Every record which comes from the Vatican is justly suspected; Yet these rent-rolls have an ancient and authentic colour; and it is at least evident, that, if forged, they were forged in a period when farms, not kingdoms, were the objects of papal avarice.
the three Basilicae of Rome, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John Lateran, in the provinces of Italy, Africa, and the East. They produce, besides a reserved rent of oil, linen, paper, aromatics, &c. a clear annual revenue of twenty-two thousand pieces of gold, or twelve thousand pounds sterling. In the age of Constantine and Justinian, the bishops, no longer possessed, perhaps, they no longer deserved, the o: confidence of their clergy and people. The ecclesiastical revenues of each diocess were divided into four parts; for the respective uses, of the bishop himself, of his inferior clergy, of the poor, and of the public worship; and the abuse of this sacred trust was strictly and repeatedly checked.(107) The patrimony of the church was still subject to als the public impositions of the state.(108) The clergy of Rome, Alexandria, Thessalonica, &c. might solicit and obtain some partial exemptions; but the remature attempt of the great council of Rimini, which aspired to universal reedom, was successfully resisted by the son of Constantine.(109) IV. The Latin clergy, who erected their tribunal on the ruins of the civil and common law, have modestly accepted as the gift of Constantine,(110) the indeendent jurisdiction which was the fruit of time, of accident, and of their own industry. But the liberality of the Christian emperors had actually endowed them with some legal prerogatives, which secured and dignified the sacerdotal character.(111) 1. Under a despotic government, the bishops alone enjoyed and asserted the inestimable privilege of being tried only by their peers; and even in a capital accusation, a synod of their brethren were the sole judges of their guilt or innocence. Such a tribunal, unless it was inflamed by personal resentment, or religious discord, might be favourable, or even partial, to the sacerdotal order: but Constantine was satisfied,(112) that secret impunity would be less pernicious than public scandal; and the Nicene council was edified by his public declaration, that if he surprised a bishop in the act of adultery, he should cast his Imperial mantle over the episcopal sinner. 2. The domestic jurisdiction of the bishops was at once a privilege and a restraint of the ecclesiastical order, whose civil causes were decently withdrawn from the cognizance of a secular judge. . Their venial offences were not exposed to the shame of a P. trial or punishment; and the gentle correction, which the tenderness of youth may endure from its parents or instructers, was inflicted by the temperate severity of the bishops. But if the clergy were guilty of any crime which could not be sufficiently expiated by their degradation from an honourable and beneficial profession, the Roman magistrate drew the sword of
(107) See Thomassin Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. iii. 1. ii. c. 13, 14, 15, p. 689–706. The legal division of the ecclesiastical revenue does not appear to have been established in the time of Ambrose and Chrysostom. Simplicius and Gelasius, who were bishops of Rome in the latter part of the fifth century, mention it in their pastoral letters as a general law, which was already confirmed by the custom of Italy.
(108) Ambrose, the most strenuous asserter of ecclesiastical privileges, submits without a murmur to the payment of the land tax. “Si tributum petit Imperator, non negamus; agri ecclesiae solvunt tribu tum; solvimus quae sunt Caesaris Caesari, et quae sunt Dei Deo: tributum Caesaris est; non negatur.” Baronius labours to interpret this tribute as an act of charity rather than of duty (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 387); but the words, if not the intentions of Ambrose, are more candidly explained by Thomassin, Disci pline de l'Eglise, tom. iii. i. i. c. 34, p. 268. . .
(109) In Ariminense synodo super ecclesiarum et clericorum privilegiis tractats habito, usque eo dispositio progressa est, ut juga quæ viderentur ad ecclesiam pertinere, a publica functione cessarent inquietudine desistente: quod nostra videtur dudum sanctio repulsisse. Cod. Theod. l. xvi. tit. ii. leg. 15. Had the synod of Rimini carried this point, such practical merit might have atoned for some speculative heresies.
(110) From Eusebius (in Vit Constant. l. iv. c.27) and Zosomen (l. 1. c. 9,) we are assured that the episcopal jurisdiction was extended and confirmed by Constantine; but the forgery of a famous edict which was never fairly inserted in the Theodosian Code (see at the end, tom. vi. p. 303), is demonstrated by Godefroy in the most satisfactory manner. It is strange that M. de Montesquieu, who was a lawyer as well as a philosopher, should allege this edict of Constantine (Esprit des Loix, l. xxix. c. 16), without intimating any suspicion.
(111) The subject of ecclesiastical jurisdiction has been involved in a mist of passion, of prejudice, and of interest. . Two of the fairest books which have fallen into my hands, are the Institutes of Canon law, by the Abbé de Fleury, and the Civil History of Naples, by Giannone. Their moderation was the effect of situation as well as of temper. Fleury was a French ecclesiastic, who respected the authority of the parliaments; Giannone was an Italian lawyer, who dreaded the power of the church. And here let me observe, that as the general propositions which I advance are the result of many particular and imperfect facts, I must either refer the reader to those modern authors who have expressly treated the subject, or swell these notes to a disagreeable and disproportioned size.
(112). Tillemont has collected from Rufinus, Theodoret, &c. the sentiments and language of Constantine. Mem. Eccles, tom. iii. p. 749, 750.
justice, without any regard to ecclesiastical immunities. , 3. The arbitration of the bishops was ratified by a positive law; and the judges were instructed to execute, without appeal or delay, the episcopal decrees, whose validity had hitherto depended on the consent of the parties. The conversion of the magistrates themselves, and of the whole empire, might gradually remove the fears and scruples of the Christians. But they still resorted to the tribunal of the bishops, whose abilities and integrity they esteemed; and the venerable Austin enjoyed the satisfaction of complaining that his spiritual functions were perpetually interrupted by the invidious labour of deciding the claim or the possession of silver and gold, of lands and cattle. 4. The ancient F. of sanctuary was transferred to the Christian temples, and extended, by the liberal § of the younger Theodosius, to the precincts of consecrated ground.(113) he fugitive, and even guilty, suppliants, were permitted to implore either the justice, or the mercy, of the Deity and his ministers. The rash violence of despotism was suspended by the mild interposition of the church; and the lives or fortunes of the most eminent subjects might be protected by the mediation of the bishop. W. The bishop was the perpetual censor of the morals of his people. The discipline of penance was digested into a system of canonical so.o. which accurately defined the duty of private or public confession, the rules evidence, the degrees of guilt, and the measure of punishment. It was im sible to execute this spiritual censure, if the Christian pontiff, who punished the obscure sins of the multitude, respected the conspicuous vices and destructive crimes of the magistrate: but it was impossible to arraign the conduct of the magistrate, without controlling the administration of civil government. Some considerations of religion, or loyalty, or fear, protected the sacred persons of the emperors from the zeal or resentment of the bishops; but they boldly censured and excommunicated the subordinate tyrants, who were not invested with the majesty of the purple. St. Athanasius excommunicated one of the ministers of Egypt; and the interdict which he pronounced, of fire and water, was solemnly transmitted to the churches of Cappadocia.(115) Under the reign of the younger Theodosius, the polite and eloquent Synesius, one of the descendants of Hercules,(116) filled the episcopal seat of #. near the ruins of ancient Cyrene,(117) and the philosophic bishop supported, with dignity, the character which he had assumed with reluctance.(I.18). He vanquished the monster of Lybia, the president Andronicus, who abused the authority of a venal office, invented new modes of rapine and torture, and aggravated the
(113) See Cod. Theod. l. ix. tit. xlv. # 4. In the works of Fra Paolo (tom. iv. p. 192, &c.) there is an excellent discourse on the origin, claims, abuses, and limits of sanctuaries. He justly observes, that ancient Greece might perhaps contain fifteen or twenty azyla or sanctuaries; a number which at present may be found in Italy within the walls of a single city. (114) The penitential jurisprudence was continually improved by the canons of the councils. But as many cases were still left to the discretion of the bishops, they occasionally published, after the example of the Roman Praetor, the rules of discipline which they proposed to observe. Among the canonical epistles of the fourth century, those of Basil the Great were the most celebrated. They are inserted in the Pandects of o ii. p. 17–151), and are translated by Chardon. Hist, des Sacremens, tom. iv. p. 219–277. (115) Éli Epistol. xlvii. in Baronius (Annal. Eccles. A. D. 370, No. 91), who declares that he purso relates it, to convince governors that they were not exempt from a sentence of excommunication. n his opinion, even a royal head is not safe from the thunders of the Vatican; and the cardinal shows himself much more consistent than the lawyers and theologians of the Gallican church. (118). The long series of his ancestors, as high as Eurysthenes, the first Doric king of Sparta, and the fifth in lineal descent from Hercules, was inscribed in the public registers of Cyrene, a Lacedæmonian colony. (Synes. Epist. lvii. p. 197, edit. Patav.) Such a pure and illustrious pedigree of seventeen hundred years, without adding the royal ancestors of Hercules, cannot be equalled in the history of mankind. (117) Synesius (de Regno, p. 2.) pathetically deplores the fallen and ruined state of Cyrene, rovis EX\myts, traXai ovoua kat othyov, xa, tv won gupta ruv raNat coopwy vuv revms ral karmons, kat preya tpurugy. Ptolemais, a new city, 82 miles to the westward of Cyrene, assumed the Metropolitan honours of the Pentapolis, or Upper Libya, which were afterward transferred to Sozisa. See Wesseling Itinerar. p. 67,68. 732. Cellarius Geograph. tom. ii. part ii. p. 72–74. Carolus a Sto Paulo Geograph. Sacra. p. 273. D'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. iii. p. 43, 44. Memoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. xxxvii. p. 363—391. (118) Synesius had previously represented his own disqualifications (Epistol. c. v. p. 246—Q50). He loved profane studies and profane sports; he was incapable of supporting a life of celibacy; he disbelieved the resurrection; and he refused to preach fables to the people, unless he might be permitted to philosephize at home. Theophilus, primate of Egypt, who knew his merit, accepted this extraordinary compro
mise. See the life of Synesius, in Tillemont Mem. Eccles. tom. xii. p. 299–554