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CHAP. linen, with which he gratified the faith of the royal
stranger, who had invoked his healing power, and offered the strong city of Edessa to protect him against the malice of the Jews. The ignorance of the primitive church is explained by the long imprisonment of the image in a niche of the wall, from whence, after an oblivion of five hundred years, it was released by some prudent bishop, and seasonably presented to the devotion of the times. Its first and most glorious exploit was the deliverance of the city from the arms of Chosroes Nushirvan; and it was soon revered as a pledge of the divine promise, that Edessa should never be taken by a foreign enemy. It is true, indeed, that the text of Procopius ascribes the double deliverance of Edessa to the wealth and valour of her citizens, who purchased the absence and repelled the assaults of the Persian monarch. He was ignorant, the profane historian, of the testimony which he is compelled to deliver in the ecclesiastical
of Evagrius, that the Palladium was exposed on the rampart, and that the water which had been sprinkled on the holy face, instead of quenching, added new fuel to the flames of the besieged. After this important service, the image of Edessa was preserved with respect and gratitude; and if the Armenians rejected the legend, the more credulous Greeks adored the similitude, which was not the work of any mortal pencil, but the immediate creation of the divine original. The style and sentiments of a Byzantine hymn will declare how far their worship was removed from the grossest idolatry. “How can we with mortal eyes contemplate this image, whose celestial splendour the host of heaven presumes not to behold? HE
of Edessa in 540 (Asseman. tom. i. p. 416. Procopius, de Bell. Persic. 1. ii). It is the sword and buckler of Gregory II. (in Epist. i. ad Leon. Isaur. Concil. tom. viii. p. 656, 657), of John Damascenus (Opera, tom. i. p. 281. edit. Lequien), and of the second Nicene Council (Actio, v. p. 1030). The most perfect edition may be found in Cedrenus (Compend. p. 175—178).
who dwells in heaven condescends this day to visit CHAP. us by his venerable image: He who is seated on the cherubim visits us this day by a picture, which the Father has delineated with his immaculate hand, which he has formed in an ineffable manner, and which we sanctify by adoring it with fear and love." Before the end of the sixth century, these images, made without hands (in Greek it is a single word), were propagated in the camps and cities of the eastern empire:' they were the objects of worship, and the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of danger or tumult, Its copies. their venerable presence could revive the hope, rekindle the courage, or repress the fury, of the Roman legions. Of these pictures, the far greater part, the transcripts of a human pencil, could only pretend to a secondary likeness and improper title: but there were some of higher descent, who derived their resemblance from an immediate contact with the original, endowed, for that purpose, with a miraculous and prolific virtue. The most ambitious aspired from a filial to a fraternal relation with the image of Edessa ; and such is the veronica of Rome, or Spain, or Jerusalem, which Christ in his agony and bloody sweat applied to his face, and delivered to a holy matron. The fruitful precedent was speedily transferred to the Virgin Mary, and the saints and martyrs. In the church of Diospolis, in Palestine, the features of the
AXSIDOTONTOS. See Ducange, in Gloss. Græc. et Lat. The subject is treated with equal learning and bigotry by the Jesuit Gretser (Syntagma de Imaginibus non Manû factis, ad calcem Codini de Officiis, p. 289—330), the ass, or rather the fox, of Ingoldstadt (see the Scaligerana); with equal reason and wit by the Protestant Beausobre, in the ironical controversy which he has spread through many volumes of the Bibliothéque Germanique (tom. xviii. p. 1–50. xx. p. 27 -68. xxv. p. 1–36. xxvii. p. 85-118. xxviii. p. 1–33. xxxi. p. 111_148. xxxii. p. 75—107. xxxiv. p. 67–96).
Theophylact Simocatta (l. ii. c. 3. p. 34. 1. iii, c. 1. p. 63) celebrates the θεανδρικον εικασμα, which he styles αχειροποιητον 5 yet it was no more than a copy, since he adds αρχετυπον το εκεινον οι Ρωμαιοι (of Edessa) θρησκευουσι τι αρρητον. See Pagi, tom. ii. A. D. 586, No 11. VOL. VI.
CHAP. Mother of God” were deeply inscribed in a marble
column: the East and West have been decorated by the pencil of St. Luke; and the Evangelist, who was perhaps a physician, has been forced to exercise the occupation of a painter, so profane and odious in the eyes of the primitive Christians.
The Olympian Jove, created by the muse of Homer and the chisel of Phidias, might inspire a philosophic mind with momentary devotion; but these Catholic images were faintly and flatly delineated by monkish artists in the
last degeneracy of taste and genius." Opposition The worship of images had stolen into the church to image worship. by insensible degrees, and each petty step was pleasing
to the superstitious mind, as productive of comfort, and innocent of sin. But in the beginning of the eighth century, in the full magnitude of the abuse, the more timorous Greeks were awakened by an apprehension, that under the mask of Christianity, they - had restored the religion of their fathers: they heard, with grief and impatience, the name of Idolaters; the incessant charge of the Jews and Mahometans, who derived from the Law and the Koran an immortal hatred to graven images and all relative worship. The servitude of the Jews might curb their zeal and depreciate their authority; but the triumphant Musulmans, who reigned at Damascus, and threatened Constantinople, cast into the scale of reproach the accumulated weight of truth and victory. The cities
m See, in the genuine or supposed works of John Damascenus, two passages on the Virgin and St. Luke, which have not been noticed by Gretser, nor consequently by Beausobre (Opera Joh. Damascen. tom. i. p. 618. 631).
n“ Your scandalous figures stand quite out from the canvas: they are as bad as a group of statues !” It was thus that the ignorance and bigotry of a Greek priest applauded the pictures of Titian, which he had ordered, and refused to accept.
By Cedrenus, Zonaras, Glycas, and Manasses, the origin of the Iconoclasts is imputed to the caliph Yezid and two Jews, who promised the empire to Leo; and the reproaches of these hostile sectaries are turned into an absurd conspiracy for restoring the purity of the Christian worship (see Spanheim, Hist. Imag. c. 2.)
of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, had been fortified CHAP. with the images of Christ, his mother, and his saints; and each city presumed on the hope or promise of miraculous defence. In a rapid conquest of ten years, the Arabs subdued those cities and these images; and, in their opinion, the Lord of Hosts pronounced a decisive judgment between the adoration and contempt of these mute and inanimate idols. For a while Edessa had braved the Persian assaults; but the chosen city, the spouse of Christ, was involved in the common ruin; and his divine resemblance became the slave and trophy of the infidels. After a servitude of three hundred the Palladium was yielded to the devotion of Constantinople for a ransom of twelve thousand pounds of silver, the redemption of two hundred Musulmans, and a perpetual truce for the territory of Edessa. In this season of distress and dismay the eloquence of the monks was exercised in the defence of images; and they attempted to prove, that the sin and schism of the greatest part of the Orientals had forfeited the favour, and annihilated the virtue, of these precious symbols. But they were now opposed by the murmurs of many simple or rational Christians, who appealed to the evidence of texts, of facts, and of the primitive times, and secretly desired the reformation of the church. As the worship of images had never been established by any general or positive law, its progress in the eastern empire had been retarded, or accelerated, by the differences of men and manners, the local degrees of refinement, and the personal characters of the bishops. The splendid devotion was fondly cherished by the levity of the capital, and the inventive genius of the
P See Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 267), Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 201), and Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 264), and the criticisms of Pagi (tom. iii. A. D. 944). The prudent Franciscan refuses to determine whether the image of Edessa now reposes at Rome or Genoa; but its repose is inglorious, and this ancient object of worship is no longer famous or fashionable.
CHAP. Byzantine clergy; while the rude and remote dis
tricts of Asia were strangers to this innovation of sacred luxury. Many large congregations of Gnostics and Arians maintained, after their conversion, the simple worship which had preceded their separation ; and the Armenians, the most warlike subjects of Rome, were not reconciled, in the twelfth century, to the sight of images. These various denominations of men afforded a fund of prejudice and aversion, of small account in the villages of Anatolia or Thrace, but which, in the fortune of a soldier, a prelate, or an eunuch, might be often connected with the powers of the church and state.
Of such adventurers the most fortunate was the ardh his suc. emperor Leo the third," who, from the mountains of
Isauria, ascended the throne of the East. He was ignorant of sacred and profane letters; but his education, his reason, perhaps his intercourse with the Jews and Arabs, had inspired the martial peasant with a hatred of images; and it was held to be the duty of a prince to impose on his subjects the dictates of his own conscience. But in the outset of an unsettled reign, during ten years of toil and danger, Leo submitted to the meanness of hypocrisy, bowed before the idols which he despised, and satisfied the Roman pontiff with the annual professions of his orthodoxy and zeal. In the reformation of religion his
4 Αρμενιους και Αλαμανους επισης και αγιων εικονων προσκυνησις απαγορευται (Nicetas, 1. ii. p. 258). The Armenian churches are still content with the Cross (Missions du Levant, tom. iii. p. 148): but surely the superstitious Greek is unjust to the superstition of the Germans of the xiith century.
Our original, but not impartial, monuments of the Iconoclasts must be drawn from the Acts of the Councils, tom. viii. and ix. Collect. Labbé, edit. Venet. and the historical writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, Manasses, Cedrenus, Zonaras, &c. Of the modern Catholics, Baronius, Pagi, Natalis Alexander (Hist. Eccles. Seculum viii. and ix), and Maimbourg (Hist. des Iconoclastes), have treated the subject with learning, passion, and credulity. The Protestant labours of Frederic Spanheim (Historia Imaginum restituta) and James Basnage (Hist. des Eglises Reformées, tom. ii. l. xxiii. p. 1339—1385) are cast into the Iconoclast scale. With this mutual aid, and opposite tendency, it is easy for us to poise the balance with philosophic indifference,