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innovation of sacred luxury. Many large congregations of Gnostics and Arians maintained, after their conversion, tho 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 preju dice and aversion, of small account in the villages of Anatolia or Thrace, but which, in the fortune of a soldier, a prelate, or a eunuch, might be often connected with the powers of the church and state.
Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the emperor Leo the Third,1" 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 first steps were moderate and cautious: he assembled a great council of senators and bishops, and enacted, with their consent, that all the images should be removed from the sanctuary and altar to a proper height in the churches- whew they might be visible to the eyes, and inaccessible, to the superstition, of the people. But it was impossible on either side to check the rapid though adverse impulse of veneration and abhorrence: in their lofty position, the sacred images still edified their votaries, and reproached the tyrant. lie was himself provoked by resistance and invective; and his own party accused him of an imperfect discharge of his duty, and urged for his imitation the example of the Jewish king, who had broken without scruple the brazen serpent of the temple. By a second edict, he prossribed the existence aa well as the use of religious pictures; the churches of Constantinople and the provinces were cleansed from idolatry; the images of Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of plaster was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of the Iconoclasts was supported by the zeal and despotism of six emperors, and the East and West were involved in a noisy conflict of one hundred and twenty years. It was the design of Leo the Isaurian to pronounce the condemnation of images as an article of faith, and by the authority of a general council: but the convocation of such an assembly was reserved for his son Constantine ;19 and though it is stigmatized by triumphant bigotry as a meeting of fools and atheists, their ovrn partial and mutilated acts betray many symptoms of reason and piety. The debates and decrees of many provincial synods introduced the summons of the general council which met in the suburbs of Constantinople, and was composed of the respectable number of three hundred and thirty-eight bishops of Europe and Anatolia; for the patriarchs of Autioch and Alexandria were the slaves of the caliph, and the Roman pontiff had withdrawn the churches of Italy and the West from the communion of the Greeks. This Byzantine synod assumed the rank and powers of the seventh general council; yet even this title was a recognition of the six preceding
'A.pficviot( Kai A^afiavaTt trri(rr}i f] ruiy hyiu)y tixavoiv wpatrxivriaii
lurrjyopsvTai, (Nicetas, 1. ii. p. 258.) The Armenian churches are still content with the Cross. (Missions du Levant, torn. iii. p. 148;) but surely the superstitious Greek is unjust to the superstition of the Germans of the xiith century.
18 Our original, but not impartial, monuments of the Iconoclasts must be drawn from the Acts of the Councils, torn. viii. and ix. Collect. Labbe, edit. Venet. and the historical writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, Manasses, Cedrenus, Zonoras, &c. Of the modern Catholics, Baronius, Pagi, Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Eccles. Seculum viii. and ix.,) and Maimbourg, (Hist, des Iconoclasts.) have treated the subject with learning, passion, and credulity. The Protestant labors »f Frederick Spanheim (Historia Imaginum restituta) and James Basnagc (Hist, des Eglises lleformees, torn. ii. 1. xxiii. p. 1339—1385) are cast into the Iconoclast scale. With this mutual aid, and opposite ten dency, it is easy for us to poise the balance with philosophic indif Sptence.*
* Compare Schlosser, Geschichte der Billir-stiirmeuder Kaiser, Prink hff va Main 1818 a book of research and iuipartialiiv—M
assemblies, which had laboriously built the structure of th« Catholic faith. After a. serious deliberation of six months, the three hundred and thirty-eight bishops pronounced and rfubscribed a unanimous decree, that all visible symbols of Christ, except in the Eucharist, were either blasphemous 01 heretical; that image-worship was a corruption of Christianty and a renewal of Paganism; that all such monuments of idjlatry should be broken or erased; and that those who should' refuse to deliver the objects of their private superstition, were guilty of disobedience to the authority of the church and of the emperor. In their loud and loyal acclamations, they celebrated the merits of their temporal redeemer; and to his zeal and justice they intrusted the execution ot their spiritual censures. At Constantinople, as in the formei councils, the will of the prince was the rule of episcopal faith; but on this occasion, I am inclined to suspect that a large majority of the prelates sacrificed their secret conscience to the temptations of hope and fear. In the long night of superstition, the Christians had wandered far away from the simplicity of the gospel: nor was it easy for them to discern thf clew, and tread back the mazes, of the labyrinth. The worship of images was inseparably blended, at least to a pious fancy, with the Cross, the Virgin, the Saints and their relics; the holy ground was involved in a cloud of miracles and visions; and the nerves of the mind, curiosity and scepticism. w«re benumbed by the habits of obedience and belief. Constantine himself is accused of indulging a royal license to doubt, or deny, or deride the mysteries of the Catholics,90 but they were deeply inscribed in the public and private creed of bis bishops; and the boldest Iconoclast might assault with a secret horror the monuments of popular devotion, which were consecrated to the honor of his celestial patrons. In the reformation of the sixteenth century, freedom and knowledge had expanded all the faculties of man: the thirst of innovation superseded the reverence of antiquity ; and the vigor of Europe could disdain those phantoms which terrified the sickly and servile weakness of the Greeks.
M He i: accustd of proscribing the title of saint; styling the Virgm, Mother of Christ; comparing her after her delivery to an emptj
!>urse of Arianism, Nestorianism, Ac. In his defence, Spanhein c. iv. p. 20*7) is somewhat embarrassed between the interest of a Pro* wtant and the duty ef an orthodox divine.
The scandal of an abstract heresy can be only proclaimed to the people by tbe blast of the ecclesiastical trumpet; but the most ignorant can perceive, the most torpid must feel, the profanation and downfall of their visible deities. The first hostilities of Leo were directed against a lofty Christ on the vestibule, and above the gate, of the palace. A ladder had been planted for the assault, but it was furiously shaken by a crowl of zealots and women: they beheld, with pious transport, the ministers of sacrilege tumbling from on high and dashed against the pavement: and the honors of the ancient martyrs were prostituted to these criminals, who justly suffered for murder and rebellion.81 The execution of the Imperial edicts was resisted by frequent tumults in Constantinople and the provinces: the person of Leo was endangered, his officers were massacred, and the popular enthusiasm was quelled by the strongest efforts of the civil and military power. Of the Archipelago, or Holy Sea, the numerous islands were filled with images and monks: their votaries abjured, without scruple, the enemy of Christ, his mother, and the saints; they armed a fleet of boats and galleys, displayed their consecrated banners, and boldly steered for the harbor of Constantinople, to place on the throne a new favorite of God and the people. They depended on the succor of a miracle: but their miracles were inefficient against the Greek fire; and, after the defeat and conflagration of the fleet, the naked islands were abandoned to the clemency or justice of the conqueror. The son of Leo, in the first year of his reign, had undertaken an expedition against the Saracens: during his absence, the capital, the palace, and the purple, were occupied by his kinsman Artavasdes, the ambitious champion of the orthodox faith The worship of images was triumphantly restored: the patriarch renounced his dissimulation, or dissembled his sentiments • and the righteous claims of the usurper was acknowledged, both in the new, and in ancient, Rome. Constantine flew for refuge to hi? paternal mountains; but he descended at the head of the bold and affectionate Isaurians; and his final victory con founded the arms and predictions of the fanatics. His long reign was distracted with clamor, sedition, conspiracy, and
11 l"he holy confessor Theophanes approves the principle of theb rebellion, Ocfa ru>ofi/itxni ^xm, (p. 339.) Gregory II. (in Epist. i. ad Imp Leon. Ooncil. torn. viii. p. 661, 664) applauds the zeal of the Bysantint
womfln who killed the Imperial officers.
.nutual hatred, and sanguinary revenge; the persecution of images was the motive or pretence, of his adversaries; and, if they missed a temporal diadem, they were rewarded by the Greeks with the crown of martyrdom. In every act of open and clandestine treason, the emperor felt the unforgiving enmity of the monks, the faithful slaves of the superstition to which they owed their riches and influence. They prayed, they preached, they absolved, they inflamed, they conspired; the solitude of Palestine poured forth a torrent of invective; and the pen of St. John Damascenus," the last of the Greek fathers, devoted the tyrant's head, both in this world and the next.83* I am not at leisure to examine how far the monks provoked, nor how much they have exaggerated, their real and pretended sufferings, nor how many lost their lives or limbs, their eyes or their beards, by the cruelty of the emperor.f From the chastisement of individuals, he proceeded to the abolition of the order; and, as it was wealthy and useless, his resentment might be stimulated by avarice, and justified by patriotism. The formidable name and mission of the DragonTM his visitor-general, excited the terror and abhor
22 John, or Mansur, was a noble Christian of Damascus, who held a considerable office in the service of the caliph. His zeal in the cause of images exposed him to the resentment and treachery of the Greek emperor; and on the suspicion of a treasonable correspondence, he was deprived of his right hand, which was miraculously restored by the Virgin. After this deliverance, he resigned his office, distributed his wealth, and buried himself in the monastery of St. Sabas, between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The legend is famous; but his learned editor, Father Lequien, has unluckily proved that St. John Damascenus was already a monk before the Iconoclast dispute, (Opera, torn. i. Vit. St. Joan. Damascen. p. 10—13. et Notas ad loc.)
53 After sending Leo to the devil, he introduces his heir—To piapov
avrov yivvrfjia, Koi rr\s Kaitias avrnv K\r)pov6iiOi in iinX<j> yevojizvos, (Opera,
Damascen. torn. i. p. 625.) If the authenticity of this piece be suspi cious, we are sure that in other works, no longer extant, Damascenus bestowed on Constantine the titles of viov Mu^tf), 'KpiaTOfta-^of, ^ladyiov, (torn. i. p. 306.)
s* In the narrative of this persecution from Theophanes and Cedre&x», Spanheim (p. 235—238) is happy to compare the Draco of Lee
* The patriarch Anastasius, an Iconoclast under Leo, an image worshiper under Artavasdes, was scourged, led through the streets on an asg; witk in face tc the tail; and, reinvested in his dignity, became again the obse qaious minister of Constantine in his Iconoclastic persecutions. hr.e Scnlof •ct. p. 211.—M.
f Compare Sch'osser, p. 223—23<i.—M.