remote islands of Britain and Ireland;" the same ideas were entertained, or rather the same words were repeated, by all the Christians whose liturgy was performed in the Greek or the Latin tongue. Their numbers, and visible splendour, bestowed an imperfect claim to the appellation of Catholics: but in the East, they were marked with the less honourable name of Melchites, or Royalists;" of men, whose faith, instead of resting on the basis of Scripture, reason, or tradition, had been established, and was still maintained, by the arbitrary power of a temporal monarch. Their adversaries might allege the words of the fathers of Constantinople, who profess themselves the slaves of the king; and they might relate, with malicious joy, how the decrees of Chalcedon had been inspired and reformed by the emperor Marcian and his virgin bride. The prevailing faction will naturally inculcate the duty of submission, nor is it less natural that dissenters should feel and assert the principles of freedom. Under the rod of persecution, the Nestorians and Monophysites degenerated into CHAP. CHAP. XLVII.


* In the Lateran synod of 679, Wilfrid, an Anglo-Saxon bishop, subscribed pro omni Aquilonari parte Britanniae et Hibernia, quae ab Anglorum et Brittonum, necnon Scotorum et Pictorum gentibus colebantur (Eddius, in Vit. St. Wilfrid. c. 31. apud Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 88). Theodore (magna insulae Britanniae archiepiscopus et philosophus) was long expected at Rome (Concil. tom. vii. p. 714), but he contented himself with holding (A.D. 680) his provincial synod of Hatfield, in which he received the decrees of pope Martin and the first Lateran council against the Monothelites (Concil, tom. vii. p. 597, &c.). Theodore, a monk of Tarsus in Cilicia, had been named to the primacy of Britain, by pope Vitalian (A.D. 668. See Baronius and Pagi), whose esteem for his learning and piety was tainted by some distrust of his national character—ne quid contrarium veritati fidei, Graecorum more, in ecclesiam cui praeesset introduceret. The Cilician was sent from Rome to Canterbury under the tuition of an African guide (Bedae Hist. Eccles. Anglorum, l. iv. c. 1). He adhered to the Roman doctrine; and the same creed of the incarnation has been uniformly transmitted from Theodore to the modern primates, whose sound understanding is perhaps seldom engaged with that abstruse mystery.

* This name, unknown till the xth century, appears to be of Syriac origin. It was invented by the Jacobites, and eagerly adopted by the Nestorians and Mahometans; but it was accepted without shame by the Catholics, and is frequently used in the Annals of Eutychius (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient, tom. ii. p. 507, &c. tom. iii. p. 355. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexandrin. p. 119). ‘Hasis 3ovao. row Barotos, was the acclamation of the fathers of Constantinople (Concil. tom. vii. p. 765). - * The Syriac, which the natives revere as the primitive language, was divided into three dialects. 1. The Aramaean, as it was refined at Edessa, and the cities of Mesopotamia. 2. The Palestine, which was used in Jerusalem, Damascus, and the rest of Syria. 3. The Nabathaan, the rustic idiom of the mountains of Assyria and the villages of Irak (Gregor. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 11). On the Syriac, see Ebed-Jesu (Asseman. tom. iii. p. 326, &c.), whose prejudice alone could prefer it to the Arabic.

rebels and fugitives; and the most ancient and usefu allies of Rome were taught to consider the emperor not as the chief, but as the enemy, of the Christians. Language, the leading principle which unites or separates the tribes of mankind, soon discriminated the sectaries of the East, by a peculiar and perpetual badge, which abolished the means of intercourse and

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the hope of reconciliation. The long dominion of Perpetual

the Greeks, their colonies, and, above all, their elo

separation of the ori

quence, had propagated a language doubtless the ental *.

most perfect that has been contrived by the art of man. Yet the body of the people, both in Syria and Egypt, still persevered in the use of their national idioms; with this difference, however, that the Coptic was confined to the rude and illiterate peasants of the Nile, while the Syriac," from the mountains of Assyria to the Red Sea, was adapted to the higher topics of poetry and argument. Armenia and Abyssinia were infected by the speech or learning of the Greeks; and their barbaric tongues, which have been revived in the studies of modern Europe, were unintelligible to the inhabitants of the Roman empire. The Syriac and the Coptic, the Armenian and the AEthiopic, are consecrated in the service of their respective churches; and their theology is enriched by domestic versions* both of the Scriptures and of the most popular fathers.

s I shall not enrich my ignorance with the spoils of Simon, Walton, Mill, Wetstein, Assemannus, Ludolphus, La Croze, whom I have consulted with some care. It appears, 1. That, of all the versions which are celebrated by the fathers, it is doubtful whether any are now extant in their pristine integrity. 2. That the Syriac has the best claim; and that the consent of the oriental sects is a proof that it is more ancient than their schism.



After a period of thirteen hundred and sixty years, the spark of controversy, first kindled by a sermon of Nestorius, still burns in the bosom of the East, and the hostile communions still maintain the faith and discipline of their founders. In the most abject state of ignorance, poverty, and servitude, the Nestorians and Monophysites reject the spiritual supremacy of Rome, and cherish the toleration of their Turkish masters, which allows them to anathematise, on one hand, St. Cyril and the synod of Ephesus; on the other, pope Leo and the council of Chalcedon.

The weight which they cast into the downfal of the

eastern empire demands our notice, and the reader
may be amused with the various prospect of, I. The
Nestorians. II. The Jacobites." III. The Maronites.
IV. The Armenians. V. The Copts; and, VI. The
Abyssinians. To the three former, the Syriac is
common; but of the latter, each is discriminated by
the use of a national idiom. Yet the modern natives
of Armenia and Abyssinia would be incapable of con-
versing with their ancestors; and the Christians of
Egypt and Syria, who reject the religion, have adopted
the language, of the Arabians. The lapse of time
has seconded the sacerdotal arts; and in the East, as
well as in the West, the Deity is addressed in an
obsolete tongue, unknown to the majority of the con-
I. Both in his native and his episcopal province,
the heresy of the unfortunate Nestorius was speedily
obliterated. The oriental bishops, who at Ephesus
had resisted to his face the arrogance of Cyril, were
h On the account of the Monophysites and Nestorians, I am deeply indebted
to the Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana of Joseph Simon Assemannus.
That learned Maronite was despatched in the year 1715 by pope Clement XI.
to visit the monasteries of Egypt and Syria, in search of MSS. His four folio
volumes published at Rome 1719–1728, contain a part only, though perhaps
the most valuable, of his extensive project. As a native and as a scholar, he


possessed the Syriac literature; and, though a dependent of Rome, he wishes to
be moderate and candid.


mollified by his tardy concessions. The same prelates, or their successors, subscribed, not without a murmur, the decrees of Chalcedon; the power of the Monophysites reconciled them with the Catholics in the conformity of passion, of interest, and insensibly of belief; and their last reluctant sigh was breathed in the defence of the three chapters. Their dissenting brethren, less moderate, or more sincere, were crushed by the penal laws; and as early as the reign of Justinian, it became difficult to find a church of Nestorians within the limits of the Roman empire. Beyond those limits they had discovered a new world, in which they might hope for liberty, and aspire to conquest. In Persia, notwithstanding the resistance of the Magi, Christianity had struck a deep root, and the nations of the East reposed under its salutary shade. The catholic, or primate, resided in the capital: in his synods, and in their dioceses, his

metropolitans, bishops, and clergy, represented the

pomp and order of a regular hierarchy: they rejoiced in the increase of proselytes, who were converted from the Zendavesta to the Gospel, from the secular to the monastic life; and their zeal was stimulated by the presence of an artful and formidable enemy. The Persian church had been founded by the missionaries of Syria; and their language, discipline, and doctrine, were closely interwoven with its original frame. The catholics were elected and ordained by their own suffragans; but their filial dependence on the patriarchs of Antioch is attested by the canons of the oriental church." In the Persian

! See the Arabic canons of Nice in the translation of Abraham Ecchelensis, No. 37, 38, 39, 40. Concil. tom. ii. p. 335, 336 edit. Venet. These vulgar titles, Nicene and Arabic, are both apocryphal. The council of Nice enacted no more than twenty canons (Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 8); and the remainder, seventy or eighty, were collected from the synods of the Greek church. The Syriac edition of Maruthas is no longer extant (Asseman. Bibliot. Oriental.

tom. i. p. 195. tom. iii. p. 74), and the Arabic version is marked with many recent interpolations. Yet this code contains many curious relics of ecclesiastical


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school of Edessa, the rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological idiom; they studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand volumes of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and they revered the apostolic faith and holy martyrdom of his disciple Nestorius, whose person and language were equally unknown to the nations beyond the Tigris. The first indelible lesson of Ibas, bishop of Edessa, taught them to exe

crate the Egyptians, who, in the synod of Ephesus,

had impiously confounded the two natures of Christ. The flight of the masters and scholars, who were twice expelled from the Athens of Syria, dispersed a crowd of missionaries inflamed by the double zeal of religion and revenge. And the rigid unity of the Monophysites, who, under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, had invaded the thrones of the East, provoked their antagonists, in a land of freedom, to avow a moral, rather than a physical, union of the two persons of Christ. Since the first preaching of the gospel, the Sassanian kings beheld with an eye of suspicion a race of aliens and apostates, who had embraced the religion, and who might favour the cause, of the hereditary foes of their country. The royal edicts had often prohibited their dangerous correspondence with the Syrian clergy; the progress of the schism was grateful to the jealous pride of Perozes, and he listened to the eloquence of an artful prelate, who painted Nestorius as the friend of Persia, and urged him to secure the fidelity of his Christian subjects, by granting a just preference to the victims and enemies of the Roman tyrant. The Nestorians composed a large majority of the clergy

discipline; and since it is equally revered by all the eastern communions, it was probably finished before the schism of the Nestorians and Jacobites (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. xi. p. 363–367). jTheodore the reader (l. ii. c. 5.49. ad calcem Hist. Eccles.) has noticed this Persian school of Edessa. Its ancient splendour, and the two aras of its downfal (A. D. 431 and 489), are clearly discussed by Assemanni (Biblioth. Orient. tom. ii. p. 402, iii. p. 376. 378. iv. p. 70. 924).

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