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sensibly erased by the habits of frequent and familiar society; the moral precepts of the gospel were protected by the extravagant virtues of the monks; and a spiritual theology was supported by the visible power of relics, and the pomp of religious worship. But the rational and ingenious mode of persuasion, which a Saxon bishop* suggested to a popular saint, might sometimes be employed by the missionaries, who laboured for the conversion of infidels. "Admit," says the sagacious disputant, "whatever they are pleased to assert oi the fabulous and carnal genealogy of their gods and goddesses, who are propagated from each other. From this principle deduce their imperfect nature and human infirmities, the assurance they were born, and the probability that they will die. At what time, by what means, irom what cause, were the eldest of the gods or goddesses produced? Do they still continue, or have they ceased, to propagate? If they have ceased, summon your antagonists to declare the reason of this strange alteration. If they still continue, the number of the gods must become infinite; and shall we not risk, by the indiscreet worship of some impotent deity, to excite the resentment of his jealous superior? The visible heavens and earth, the whole system of the universe, which may be conceived by the mind, is it created or eternal? If created, how, or where, could the gods themselves exist before the creation? If eternal, how could they assume the empire of an independent and preexisting world? Urge these arguments with temper and moderation; insinuate, at seasonable intervals, the truth and beauty of the Christian revelation; and endeavour to make the unbelievers ashamed, without making them angry." This metaphysical reasoning, too refined perhaps for the barbarians of Germany, was fortified by the grosser weight of authority and popular consent. The advantage of temporal prosperity had deserted the Pagan cause, and passed
(1. 7, o. 19.) * See an original and curious epistle from
JJaniel, the first bishop of Winchester, (Beda, Hist. Eccles. Anglorum, 1. 5, c. 18, p. 203, edit. Smith), to St. Boniiace, who preached the gospel among the savages of Hesse and Thuringia. Epistol. Bonifacii, 67, in the Maxima Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. xiii, p. 93. [Daniel was the first bishop oi Winchester, after the division of Wessex into two dioceses, and the erection oi a separate see at Sherborne, about A.d. 705. There had been five preceding bishops of Winchester. Bcde, Ecc. Hist. lib. iii. c. 7, iv. c. 12, p. 119,191, edit. Bohn.—Ed.]
A.D. 400.] EFFECTS OF THEIE CONVEESION.
over to the service of Christianity. The Romans themselves, the most powerful and enlightened nation ol the globe, had renounced their ancient superstition; and, if the ruin of their empire seemed to accuse the efficacy of the new faith, the disgrace was already retrieved by the conversion of the victorious Goths. The valiant and fortunate barbarians, who subdued the provinces of the West, successively received, and reflected, the same edifying example. Before the age of Charlemagne, the Christian nations of Europe might exult in the exclusive possession of the temperate climates, of the fertile lands, which produced corn, wine, and oil; while the savage idolaters, and their helpless idols, were confined to the extremities of the earth, the dark and frozen regions of the north.*
Christianity, which opened the gates of heaven to the barbarians, introduced an important change in their moral and political condition. They received, at the same time, the use of letters, so essential to a religion whose doctrines are contained in a sacred book; and, while they studied the divine truth, their minds were insensibly enlarged by the distant view ol history, of nature, of the arts, and of society. The version of the Scriptures into their native tongue, which had facilitated their conversion, must excite, among their clergy, some curiosity to read the original text, to understand' the sacred liturgy of the church, and to examine, in the writings of the fathers, the chain of ecclesiastical tradition. These spiritual gifts were preserved in the Greek and Latin languages, which concealed the inestimable monuments of ancient learning. The immortal productions of Virgil, Cicero, and Livy, which were accessible to the Christian barbarians, maintained a silent intercourse between the reign of Augustus, and the times of Clovis and Charlemagne. The emulation of mankind was encouraged by the remembrance of a more perfect state; and the flame of science was secretly kept alive, to warm and enlighten the mature age of the western world. In the most corrupt state of Christianity, the barbarians might learn justice from the law, and mercy from the gospel; and it the knowledge of their duty was insufficient to guide their actions, or to
* The sword of Charlemagne added weight to the argument; but when Daniel wrote this epistle (a.d. 723,) the Mahometans, who reigned trom India to Spain, might have retorted it agaiust the Christtians.
THE BAEBAEIAITS INVOLVED [CH. XXXVII.
regulate their passions, they were sometimes restrained by conscience, and frequently punished by remorse. But the direct authority of religion was less effectual than the holy communion which united them with their Christian brethren in spiritual friendship. The influence of these sentiments contributed to secure their fidelity in the service, or the alliance, of the Romans, to alleviate the horrors of war, to moderate the insolence of conquest, and to preserve, in the downfal of the empire, a permanent respect for the name and institutions of Rome. In the days of Paganism, the priests of Gaul and Germany reigned over the people, and controlled the jurisdiction of the magistrates; and the zealous roselytes transferred an equal, or more ample, measure of evout obedience, to the pontiff's of the Christian faith. The sacred character of the bishops was supported by their temporal possessions; they obtained an honourable seat in the legislative assemblies of soldiers and freemen; and it was their interest, as well as their duty, to mollify, by peaceful counsels, the fierce spirit of the barbarians. The perpetual correspondence of the Latin clergy, the frequent pilgrimages to Some and Jerusalem, and the growing authority of the popes, cemented the union of the Christian republic; and gradually produced the similar manners, and common jurisprudence, which have distinguished from the rest of mankind, the independent, and even hostile, nations of modern Europe.
But the operation of these causes was checked and retarded by the unfortunate accident, which infused a deadly poison into the cup of salvation. Whatever might be the early sentiments of TJlphilas, his connections with the empire and the church were formed during the reign of Arianism. The apostle of the Goths subscribed the creed of Bimini; professed with freedom, and perhaps with sincerity, that the Son was not equal, or con-substantial to the Eathee ;* communicated these errors to the clergy and people; and infected the barbaric world with a heresy,t
* The opinions of Ulphilas and the Goths inclined to Semi-Arianism, since they would not say that the Sou was a creature, though they held communion with those who maintained that heresy. Their apostle represented the whole controversy as a question of trifling moment, which had been raised by the passions of the clergy. Theo" doret, 1 . i, c. 37. + The Arianism of the Goths has beea
which .the great Theodosius proscribed and extinguished among the Romans. The temper and understandingof'the new proselytes were not adapted to metaphysical subtleties; but they strenuously maintained what they had piously received, as the pure and genuine doctrines of Christianity. The advantage of preaching and expounding the Scriptures in the Teutonic language, promoted the apostolic labours of Ulphilas and his successors; and they ordained a competent number of bishops and presbyters, for the instruction of the kindred tribes. The Ostrogoths, the Burgundians, the Suevi, and the Vandals, who had listened to the eloquence of the Latin clergy,* preferred the more intelligible lessons of their domestic teachers; and Arianism was adopted as the national faith of the warlike converts, who were seated on the ruins of the Western empire. This irreconcilable difference of religion was a perpetual source of jealousy and hatred; and the reproach of barbarian was embittered by the more odious epithet of heretic. The heroes of the 1 north, who had submitted, with some reluctance, to believe I that all their ancestors were in helLf were astonished and | exasperated to learn, that they themselves had only changed the mode of their eternal condemnation. Instead of the smooth applause, which Christian kings are accustomed to expect from their loyal prelates, the orthodox bishops and their clergy were in a state of opposition to the Arian courts; and their indiscreet opposition frequently became criminal, and might sometimes be dangerous.J The pulpit, that safe and sacred organ of sedition, resounded with the
imputed to the emperor Valens.—"Itaque justo Dei judieio ipsi eum vivum incenderunt, qui propter eum etiam mortui, vitio erroris arsuri sunt." Orosius, 1 . 7, c. 33, p. 554. This cruel sentence is confirmed by Tillemont (M<5m. Eccles. tom. 6, p. 604—610), who coolly observes, "un seul homme entraiua dans l'enfer un noinbre infini de Septentrionaux," &c. Salvian (de Gubern. Dei, 1. 5, p. 150,151,) pities and excuses their involuntary error. * Orosius affirms, in the
year 416 (1. 7, c. 41, p. 580), that the churches of Christ (of the Catholics) were filled with Huns, Suevi, Vandals, Burgundians.
+ Radbod, king of the Frisons, was so much scandalized by this rash declaration of a missionary, that he drew back his foot after he had. entered the baptismal font. See Fleury, Hist. Eccles. tom, is, p. 167.
J The Epistles of Sidonius, bishop of Clermont, under the Visigoths, and of Avitus, bishop of Vienna, under the Burgundians, explain, sometimes in dark hints, the general dispositions of the Catholics. Tha history of Clovis and Theodorio will suggest some particular facts.
AEIAN FEESBCUTION OS [CD. XXXVII.
names of Pharaoh and Holofernes ;* the public discontent was inflamed by the hope or promise of a glorious deliverance; and the seditious saints were tempted to promote the accomplishment of their own predictions. Notwithstanding these provocations, the Catholics of Gaul, Spain, and Italy, enjoyed, under the reign of the Arians, the free and peaceful exercise of their religion. Their haughty masters respected the zeal of a numerous people, resolved to die at the foot of their altars; and the example of their devout constancy was admired and imitated by the barbarians themselves. The conquerors evaded, however, the disgraceful reproach, or confession of fear, by attributing their toleration to the liberal motives of reason and humanity; and while they affected the language, they imperceptibly imbibed the spirit, of genuine Christianity.
fThe peace of the church was sometimes interrupted. The Catholics were indiscreet, the barbarians were impatient; and the partial acts of severity or injustice, which had been recommended by the Arian clergy, were exaggerated by the orthodox writers. The guilt of persecution may be imputed to Euric, king of the Visigoths; who suspended the exercise of ecclesiastical, or, at least, of episcopal functions; and punished the popular bishops of Aquitain with imprisonment, exile, and confiscation.f But the cruel and absurd enterprise of subduing the minds of a whole people, was undertaken by the Vandals alone, (xenseric himself, in his early youth, had renounced the orthodox communion; and the apostate could neither grant, nor expect, a sincere forgiveness. He was exasperated to find, that the Africans, who had fled before him in the field, still presumed to dispute his will in synods and churches; and his ferocious mind was incapable of fear, or of compassion. His Catholic subjects were oppressed by intolerant laws, and arbitrary punishments. The language of Genseric was furious and formidable; the knowledge of his intentions might justify the most unfavourable interpretation of his actions; and the
* Genseric confessed the resemblance, by the severity with which he punished such indiscreet allusions. Victor Vitensis, 1. 7, p. 10.
+ Such are the contemporary complaints of Sidonius, bishop of Clermont (1. 7, c. 6, p. 182, &c., edit. Sirmond). Gregory of Tours, .who quotes this epistle, (1 . 2, c. 25, in tom. ii, p. 174,) extorts an unwarrantable assertion, that of the nine vacancies in Aquitain, some had been produced by episcopal martyrdoms.