« ForrigeFortsett »
compass of a century; and they all appeal to their personal knowledge, or the public notoriety, for the truth of a miracle, which was repeated in several instances, displayed on the greatest theatre of the world, and submitted, during a series of years, to the calm examination of the senses. This supernatural gift of the African confessors, who spoke without tongues, will command the assent of those, and of those only, who already believe that their language was pure and orthodox. But the stubborn mind of an infidel is guarded by secret, incurable, suspicion; and the Arian, or Socinian, who has seriously rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, will not be shaken by the most plausible evidence of an Athanasian miracle.
The Vandals and the Ostrogoths persevered in the profession of Arianism till the final ruin of the kingdoms which they had founded in Africa and Italy. The barbarians of Gartl submitted to the orthodox dominion of the Franks; and Spain was restored to the Catholic church by the voluntary conversion of the Visigoths.
This salutary revolution* was hastened by the example of a royal martyr, whom our calmer reason may style an ungrateful rebel. Leovigild, the Gothic monarch of Spain, deserved the respect of his enemies, and the love of his subjects; the Catholics enjoyed a free toleration, and his Arian synods attempted, without much success, to reconcile their scruples by abolishing the unpopular rite of a second baptism. His eldest son Hermenegild, who was invested by his father with the royal diadem, and the fair principality ot .Beetica, contracted an honourable and orthodox alliance with a Merovingian princess, the daughter of Sigebert, king of Austrasia, and of the famous Bfunechild. The beauteous Ingundis, who was no more than thirteen years of age, was received, beloved, and persecuted, in the Arian court of Toledo; and her religious constancy was alternately assaulted with blandishments and violence by Gois
enhanced by the singular instance of a boy who had nercr spoken beiore his tongue was cut out. * See the two general
historians of Spain, Mariana (Hist. de Rebus Hispania;, tom. i, lib. 5, c. 12—15, p. 182—194) and Ferreras. (French translation, tom, ii, p. 206—247.) Mariana almost forgets that he is a Jesuit, to assume the style and spirit af a Homan classic. Ferreras, an industrious compiler, reviews his facts, and rectifies his chronology.
EEVOLT OF HEEAIENEGILD. [CH. IXXVII.
vintha, the Gothic queen, who abused the double claim of maternal authority.* Incensed by her resistance, Goisvintha seized the Catholic princess by her long hair, inhumanly dashed her against the ground, kicked her till she ras covered with blood, and at last gave orders that she should be stripped, and thrown into a basin or fish-pond.t Love and honour might excite Hermenegild to resent this injurious treatment of his bride; and he was gradually persuaded that Ingundis suffered for the cause of divine truth. Her tender complaints, and the weighty arguments of Leander, archbishop of Seville, accomplished his conversion; and the heir of the Gothic monarchy was initiated in the Nicene faith by the solemn rites of confirmation.]; The rash youth, inflamed by zeal and perhaps by ambition, was tempted to violate the duties of a son and a subject; and the Catholics of Spain, although they could not complain of persecution, applauded his pious rebellion against an heretical father. The civil war was protracted by the long and obstinate sieges of Merida, Cordova, and Seville, which had strenuously espoused the part}^ of Hermenegild. He invited the orthodox barbarians, the Suevi, and the Franks, to the destruction of his native land: he solicited the dangerous aid of the Romans, who possessed Africa, and a part of the Spanish coast; and his holy ambassador, the archbishop Leander, effectually negotiated in person with the Byzantine court. But the hopes of tho Catholics were crushed by the active diligence of a monarch who commanded the troops and treasures of Spain; and the guilty Hermenegild, after his vain attempts to resist or to escape, was compelled to surrender himself into the hands of an incensed father. Leovigild was still mindful of that sacred character; and the rebel, despoiled of the regal ornaments, was still per
* Goisvintha successively married two kings of the Visigoths; Athanigild, to whom she bore Brunechild, the mother o£ Ingundis and Leovigild, whose two sons, Hermenegild and Recared, were the issue of a former marriage. + Iracundije furore succensa, adpre
hensain per comam capitis puellam in terram conlidit, et diu calcibus verberatam, ac sanguine cruentatam, jussit exspoliari, et piscina) immergi. Greg. Turon. lib. 5, c. 39, in tom. ii, p. 255. Gregory is one of our best originals for this portion of history.
i The Catholics who admitted the baptism of heretics, repeated the vite, or, as it was afterwards styled, the sacrament of confirmation, to which they ascribed many mystic and marvellous prerogatives, both
mitted, in a decent exile, to profess the Catholic religion. His repeated and unsuccessful treasons at length provoked the indignation of the Gothic king; and the sentence of death, which he pronounced with apparent reluctance, was privately executed in the tower of Seville.* The inflexible constancy with which he refused to accept the Arian communion, as the price of his safety, may excuse the honours that have been paid to the memory of St. Hermenegild. His wife and infant son were detained by the Romans in ignominious captivity: and this domestic misfortune tarnished the glories of Leovigild, and embittered the last moments of his life.
His son and successor, Recared, the first Catholic king of Spain, had imbibed the faith of his unfortunate brother, which he supported with more prudence and success. Instead of revolting against his father, Recared patiently expected the hour of his death. Instead of condemning his memory, he piously supposed that the dying monarch had abjured the errors of Arianism, and recommended to his son the conversion of the Gothic nation. To accomplish that salutary end, Recared convened an assembly of the Arian clergy and nobles, declared himself a Catholic, and exhorted them to imitate the example of their prince. The laborious interpretation of doubtful texts, or the curious pursuit of metaphysical arguments, would have excited an endless controversy; and the monarch discreetly proposed to his illiterate audience two substantial and visible arguments, the testimony of earth and of heaven. The Earth had submitted to the Nicene synod: the Romans, the barbarians, and the inhabitants of Spain, unanimously professed the same orthodox creed; and the Visigoths resisted, almost alone, the consent of the Christian world. A superstitious age was prepared to reverence, as the testimony of Heaven, the preternatural cures which were performed by the skill or virtue of the Catholic clergy, the baptismal fonts of Oaset in Bsetica,t which were sponta
visible and invisible. See Chardon, Hist. des Sacremens. tom. i, p. 405 —552. * [Who was most of a barbarian, Leovigild,
"theGoth," Constantino, "the Christian emperor," Philip, "the most catholic "of Spain, or Peter " the Great" ot Kussia? The answer must be given by an impartial age.—Ed.] + Osset, or Julia Con
Btantia, was opp jsite to Seville, on the northern side of the Bsetis 132 CONYEESION OF THE VISIGOTHS TS SPAIN [CH. XXXVTI.
neously replenished each year, on the vigil of Easter ;• and the miraculous shrine of St. Martin of Tours, which had already converted the Suevic priuce and people of Gallicia.f The Catholic king encountered some difficulties on this important change of the national religion. A conspiracy, secretly fomented by the queen-dowager, was formed against his life; and two counts excited a dangerous revolt in the jNarbonnese G-aul. But Recared disarmed the conspirators, ) defeated the rebels, and executed severe justice, which the Arians, in their turn, might brand with the reproach of persecution. Eight bishops, whose names betray their barbaric origin, abjured their errors; and all the books of Arian theology were reduced to ashes, with the house in which they had been purposely collected. The whole body of the Visigoths and Suevi were allured or driven into the pale of the Catholic communion; the faith, at least of the rising generation, was fervent and sincere; and the devout liberality of the barbarians enriched the churches and monasteries of Spain. Seventy bishops, assembled in the council of Toledo, received the submission of their conquerors; and the zeal of the Spaniards improved the Nicene creed, by declaring the procession of the Holy Ghost, from the Son, as well as from the Father; a weighty point of doctrine, which produced, long afterwards, the schism of the Greek and Latin churches.J The royal proselyte immediately saluted and consulted pope Gregory, surnamed the Great, a learned and holy prelate, whose reign was distinguished by the conversion of heretics and infidels. The ambassadors of Kecared respectfully offered on the threshold of the Vatican his rich presents of gold and gems;
(Plin. Hist. Natur. 3, 3): and the authentic reference of Gregory of Tours (Hist. Francor. lib. 6, c. 43, p. 288) deserves more credit than the name of Lusitania (de Gloria Martyr. c. 24) which has been eagerly embraced by the vain and superstitious Portuguese. (Ferreras, Hist. d'Espagne, tom. ii, p. 166.) * This miracle was skilfully
performed. An Arian king sealed the doors, and dug a deep trench round the church, without been able to intercept the Easter supply of baptismal water. + Ferreras (tom. ii, p. 168—175,
A.D. 550) has illustrated the difficulties which regard the time and circumstances of the conversion of the Suevi. They had been recently .united by Leovigild to the Gothic monarchy of Spain.
J This addition to the Nicene, or rather the Constantinopolitan creed, was first made in the eighth council of Toledo, A.d. 653, but it was expressive of the popular doctrine. (Gerard Vossius, tom. vi,
they accepted, as a lucrative exchange, the hairs of St. John the Baptist; a cross, which enclosed a small piece of the true wood; and a key that contained some particles of iron which had been scraped from the chains of St. Peter.*
The same Gregory, the spiritual conqueror of Britain, encouraged the pious Theodelinda, queen of the Lombards, to propagate the Nicene faith among the victorious savages, whose recent Christianity was polluted by the Arian heresy. Her devout labours still left room for the industry and success of future missionaries; and many cities of Italy were still disputed by hostile bishops. But the cause of Arianism was gradually suppressed by the weight of truth, of interest, and of example; and the controversy, which Egypt had derived from the Platonic school, was terminated, after a war of three hundred years, by the final conversion of the Lombards of Italy.f
The first missionaries who preached the gospel to the barbarians, appealed to the evidence of reason, and claimed the benefit of toleration.J But no sooner had they established their spiritual dominion, than they exhorted the Christian kings to extirpate, without mercy, the remains of Konian or barbaric superstition. The successors of Clovis inflicted one hundred lashes on the peasants who refused to destroy their idols; the crime of sacrificing to the dsemons was punished by the Anglo-Saxon laws, with the heavier penalties of imprisonment and confiscation; and even the wise Alfred adopted, as an indispensable duty, the extreme rigour of the Mosaic institutions.§ But the punishment, and the crime, were gradually abolished among
p. 527, <le tribus Symbolis.) * Seo Gregor. Magn. lib. 7,
epist. 126, apiid Baronium, Annal. Eooles. A.d. 599, No. 25, 26.
+ Paul Warnehid (de Gestis Langobard. lib. 4, c. 44, p. 853, edit. Grot.) allows that Arianism still prevailed under the reign of Rotharis (a.d. 636—652). The pious deacon does not attempt to mark the precise era oi the national conversion, which was accomplished, however, before the end of the seventh century. J Quorum fidei
et conversioni ita congratulatus esse rex perhibetur, ut nullum tamen cogeret ad Christianismum .... Didicerat enim a doctoribus auctoribusque suse salutis, servitium Christi voluntarium non coactitium esse debere. Bedse Hist. Ecclesiastic. lib. 1, c. 26, p. 62. edit. Smith. [The English reader may iiud this memorable passage at p. 39, edit. Bohn.—Ed.]
§ See the Historians of France, tom, iv, p. 114, and Wilkins, Leges Anglo-Saxonicae, p. 11, 31. Si quis sacrificium immolaverit prseter