oave pi o.lneed or concealed a various collection of false of genuine, uf corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they tended to promote the interest of the Roman chursh. Before the end of the eighth century, some apostolic sciibe, perhaps the nttc ricus Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This memorable donation waa Introduced to the world by an epistle of Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and revive the nanie, of the great Constantine.88 According to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the free and perpetual sovereignt)7 of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West.89 This fiction was productive uf the most beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation ; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the purple and prerogatives of the Caesars. So deep was the ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of fables was received, with equal reverence, in Greece and in France, and is still enrolled

88 Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S. R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his Hesperiae partibus largin ilignatus est. . . . Quia ecce nnvus Constantinus his temporibus, &c, (Codex Carolin. epist. 49, in torn. iii. part ii. p. 195.) Pagi (Critica, a.. D. 324, No. 16) ascrites them to an impostor of the viiith century, i?ho borf <wed the name of St. Isidore : his humble title of Peccator was enorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator: his merchandise was infeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold for much wealth jid power.

** Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. torn. vi. p. 4—7) has enumerated the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin. The copy which Lsurentius Valla recites and refutes, appears to be taken either fijnj the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from Gratian's Decree, to which, loocc.hkig to him and others, it has been surreptitiously lacked

among the decrees of the canon law.70 The emperors, and the Romans, Mere incapable of discerning a forgery, that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity of th« donation of Constantine." In the revival of letters and liberty, this fictitious deed was transpierced by the pen of Laurentius Valla, the pen of an eloquent critic and a Roman patriot." His contemporaries of the fifteenth century were astonished at his sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent and irresistible progress of reason, that, before the end of the next age, the fable was rejected by the contempt of historians78 and poets,74 and the tacit or modest censure of the

70 In the year 1059, it was believed (was it believed ?) by Pope Leo IX. Cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori places (Annali d' Italia, torn. ix. p. 23, 24) the fictitious donations of Lewis the Pious, the Othos, &c, de Donatione Constantini. See a Dissertation of Natalis Alexander, seculum iv. diss. 25, p. 335—350.

71 See a large account of the controversy (A. D. 1105) which arose from a private lawsuit, in the Chronicon Parseuse, (Script. Rerum Italicarum, torn. ii. pars ii. p. 637, <fcc.,) a copious extract from the archives of that Benedictine abbey. They were formerly accessible to curious foreigners, (Le Blanc and Mabillon,) and would have enriched the first volume of the Historia Monastica Italiae of Quirini. But they are now imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. torn. ii. pars ii. p. 269) by the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future cardinal yielded to the voice of authority and the whispers of ambition, (Quirini, Comment, pars ii. p. 123—136.)

1Q I have read in the collection of Schardius (de Potestate Imperiali Ecclesiastica, p. 734—780) this animated discourse, which was composed by the author, A. D. 1440, six years after the flight of Pope Eugenius IV. It is a most vehement party pamphlet: Valla justifies and animates the revolt of the Romans, and would even approve the use of a dagger against their sacerdotal tyrant. Such a critic might expect the persecution of the clergy; yet lie made his peace, and is buried in the Lateran, (Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Valla; Vossius; de Historicis Latinis, p. 580.)

73 See Guicciardini, a servant of the popes, in that long and valuable digression, which has resumed its place in the last edition, correctly published from the author's MS. and printed in four volumes in quartc. under the name of Friburgo, 1775, (Istoria d' Italia, torn. i. p. 185--395.)

74 The Paladin Astolpho found it in the moon, among the thirigi iiiit wo/? lost up.nn earth, (Orlando Furioso, xxxiv. 80.)

Di vari fiore ad un grand monte passa,
Ch* ebbe gia buono odore, or puzza forte:
Questo era il dnno (se perb dir lece)
Che Costantino al buon Silvestro fece.

Tat this incomparable pof m has been approved by a bull cf Leo 3L

advocates of the Roman church." The popes thenuelve* have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar;7' but a false and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the same fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibyl line oracles, the edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been undermined.

While the popes established in Italy their freedom and dominion, the images, the first cause of their revolt, vure restored in the Eastern empire." Under the reign of Constantine the Fifth, the union of civil and ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root, of supeistition. The idols (for such they were now held) were secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to devotion; and the fond alliance of the monks and females obtained a final victory over the reason and authority of man. Leo the Fourth maintained with less rigor the religion of his father and grandfather; but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene, had imbibed the zeal of the Athenians, the heirs of the Idolatry, rather than the philosophy, of their ancestors. During the life of her husband, these sentiments were inflamed by danger and dissimulation, and she could onlj labor to protect and promote some favorite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated on the metropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon as she reigned in her own name and that of her son, Irene more seriously undertook

76 See Baronius, A. D. 324, No. 117—123, A. D. 1191, No. 61 ifec. The cardinal wishes to suppose that Rome was offered by Con stantine, and refused by Silvester. The act of donation he considers, strangely enough, as a forgery of the Greeks.

76 Baronius n'en dit guerres contre; encore en a-t'il trop dit, et l'«D vouloit sans moi. (Cardinal du Perron,) qui l'empechai, censurer cette partie de son histoire. J'en devisai un jour avec le Pape, et il ne me repondit autre chose " che volete? i Canonici la tengono," il le disoit fit riant, (Perroniana, p. 77.)

17 The remaining history of images, from Irene to Theodora, is collected, for the Catholics, by Baronius and Pagi, (A. D. 780—840,) Natalis Alexander, (Hist. N. T. seculum viii. Panoplia adversus Haereticos p. 118—178,) and Dupin, (Bibliot. Eccles. torn. vi. p. 136 —154;) for the Protestants, by Spanheim, (Hist. Imag. p. 305--639.) Basnagr, (Hist, de l'Eglise, torn. i. p. 556—572, torn. ii. p. 1362—1385,) und Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. secul. viii. et ix.) The Protestants, except Mosheim, are soured with controversy; bjt the Cath> lies, except Dupin, are inflamed by the fury and superstition of in* monks; and even Le Beau, (Hist, du Bas Empire,) a gentleman and I scholar, is infected by the odious contagion.

the ruin of tht Iconoclasts; and the first step )f Ler future

fersecution was a general edict for liberty cf conscience. n the restoration of the monks, a thousand images were expose! to the public veneration; a thousand legends were invfcj ted of their sufferings and miracles. By the opportune ties >f death or removal, the episcopal seats were judiciousr7 filled* the most eager competitors for earthly or celestial favor anticipated and flattered the judgment of their sovereigr; and the promotion of her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the patriarch of Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the decrees of a general council oould only be repealed by a similar assembly: ** the Iconoclasts whom she convened were bold in possession, and averse to debate; and the feeble voice of the bishops was reechoed by the more formidable clamor of the soldiers and people of Constantinople. The' delay and intrigues of a year, the separation of the disaffected troops, and the choice of Nice for a second orthodox synod, removed these obstacles; and the episcopal conscience was again, after the Greek fashion, in the hands of the prince. No more than eighteen days were allowed for the consummation of this important work: the Iconoclasts appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents: the scene was decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern patriarchs," the decrees were framed by the president Taracius, and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and fifty bishops. They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the church: but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead, and the figure •of Christ, be entitled to the same mode of adoration. Of this second Nicene council the acts are still extant; a jurious monument of superstition and ignorance, of falsehood

"See the Acts, in Greek and Latin, of the second Council of Nice. with a lumber of relative pieces, in the viiith volume of the Councils, p. 645 --1600. A. faithful version, with some critical notes, would pro roke, in different readers, a sigh or a smile.

"The pope's legates were casual messengers, two priests withoU any special commission, and who were disavowed on their return Bone vagaltond monks were persuaded by the Catholics to represent the Oriental patriarchs. This curious anecdote is revealed by Theodore Studites, (epist. i. 38, in Sirmond. Opp. torn. v. p. IS 19,) one of tht warmest Iconoclasts of the age.

»nd folly. I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the comparative merit of image-worship and morality A. monk had concluded a truce with the daemon of fornica don, on condition of interrupting his daily prayers to a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult the abbot. "Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and uis Mother in their holy images, it would be better for you," rep.iea the casuist, "to enter every brothel, and visit ever) I-institute, in the city." 80 For the honor of orthodoxy, at least the orthodoxy of the Roman church, it is somewhat unfortunate, that the two princes who convened the two councils of Nice are both stained with the blood of their sons. The second of these assemblies was approved and rigorously executed by the despotism of Irene, and she refused her adver saries the toleration which at first she had granted to her friends. During the five succeeding reigns, a period of thirty-eight years, the contest was maintained, with unabated rage and various success, between the worshippers and the breakers of the images; but I am not inclined to pursue with minute diligence the repetition of the same events. Nicephorus allowed a general liberty of speech and practice; and the only virtue of his reign is accused by the monks as the cause of his temporal and eternal perdition. Superstition and weakness formed the character of Michael the First, but the saints and images were incapable of supporting their votary on the throne. In the purple, Leo the Fifth asserted the name and religion of an Armenian; and the idols, with their seditious adherents, were condemned to a second exile. Their applause would have sanctified the murder of an impious tyrant, but his assassin and successor, the second Michael, was tainted from his birth with the Phrygian heresies: he attempted to mediate between the contending parties; and the intractable spirit of the Catholics insensibly cast him into the opposite scale. His moderation was guarded by timidity , but his son Theophilus, alike ignorant of fear and pity, was the last and most cruel of the Iconoclasts. The enthusiasm of the times ran strongly against them; and the

'* Euudfptl it <7ui pfi KaraXiKCiv Iv rtj TtoXei Tuvti) nopviiov eif b p>i claeXdyg, ) !»[» dipt*iay To irpoaKVvsiv run Kvptov fifiiov Kai dcdv Ir/aovv j£.pioTdv peri

■fjj llCat a-jroi pfirpos iv e'Uovt. These visits could not be innocent lines the Au'pi irofveia; (the daemon of fornication) en-oAr^sT 6s avrdv . . . Id 1,1.1 o'V o>j irUtire avrw aipdSta, (fee. Actio iv. p. 901, Actio v p


« ForrigeFortsett »