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assume. The second person of the Tiinity had been clothed with a real and mortal body; but that body had ascended into heaven: and, had not some similitude been presented to the eyes of his disciples, the spiritual worship of Christ might have been obliterated by the visible relics and representations of the saints. A similar indulgence was requisite and propitious for the Virgin Mary: the place of her burial was unknown -, and the assumption of her soul and body into heaven was adopted by the credulity of the Greeks and Latins. The use, and even the worship, of images was firmly established before the end of the sixth century: they were fondly cherished by the warm imagination of the Greeks and Asiatics: the Pantheon and Vatican were adorned with the emblems of a new superstition; but this semblance of idolatry was more coldly entertained by the rude Barbarians and the Arian clergy of the West. The bolder forms of sculpture, in brass or marble, which peopled the temples of antiquity, were offensive to the fancy or conscience of the Christian Greeks: and a smooth surface of colors has ever been esteemed a more decent and harmless mode of imitation.6
The merit and effect of a copy depends on its resemblance with the original; but the primitive Christians were ignorant of the genuine features of the Son of God, his mother, and his apostles: the statue of Christ at Paneas in Palestine7 was more probably that of some temporal savior; the Gnostics and their profane monuments were reprobated; and the fancy of the Christian artists could only be guided by the clandes
6 This general history of images is drawn from the xxiid book of the Hist, des Eglises Reformees of Basnage, torn. ii. p. 1310—1337 He was a Protestant, but of a manly spirit; and on this head th Protestants are so notoriously in the right, that they can venture to be impartial. See the perplexity of poor Friar Pagi, Critica, torn. i. p. 42.
"After removing some rubbish of miracle and inconsistency, it maj be allowed, that as late as the year 300, Paneas in Palestine was deco rated with a bronze statue, representing a grave personage wrapped in a cloak, with a grateful or suppliant female kneeling before him, and that an inscription—ru> E-Srqpi, r&> rfcpyeri?—was perhaps inscribed on tht pedestal. By the Christians, this group was foolishly explained of iheir founder and the poor woman whom he had cured of the bloody flux, (Euseb. vii. 18, Philostorg. vii. 3, &c.) M. de Beausobra more reasonably conjectures the philosopher Apollonius, or the em peror Vespasian: in the latter supposition, the female is a citv, a pro rince, or perhaps the queen Berenice, (Bibliotheque Gertnanique, U<h UU. t». 1 -»2.)
mae imitation of some heathen model. In this distress, a bold and dexterous invention assured at once the likeness of the image and the innocence of the worship. A new super structure of fable was raised on the popular basis of a Syrian legend, on the correspondence of Christ and Abgarus, so famous in the days of Eusebius, so reluctantly deserted by our modern advocates. Tie bishop of Caesarea9 records the epistle,* but he most strangely forgets the picture of Christ;" the perfect impression of his face on a 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 valor of her citizens, who purchased the absence and repelled the assaults of the Persian
8 Euseb. Hist. Eccles. 1. i. c. 13. The learned Assemannus has brought up the collateral aid of three Syrians, St. Ephrem, Josua Stylites, and James bishop of Sarug; but I do not find any notice of the Syriac original or the archives of Edessa, (Bibliot. Orient, torn, i p. 318, 420, 554;) their vague belief is probably derived from the Greeks.
8 The evidence for these epistles is stated and rejected by the candid Lardner, (Heathen Testimonies, vol. i. p. 297—309.) Among the herd of bigots who are forcibly tlriven from this convenient, but untenable, post, I am ashamed, with the Grabes, Caves, Tillemonts, tto, to discover Mr. Addison, an English gentleman, (his Works, vol. i. p. 528. Baskerville's edition;) but his superficial tract on the Cluistian religion owes its credit to his name, his style, and the interested ar. plause of our clergy.
10 From the silence of James of Sarug, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient.
f. 289, 318,) and the testimony of Evagrius, (Hist. P^ccles. L iv. c. 27,) conclude that this fable was invented between the years 521 and 594, most probably after the siege of Edessa in 540, (Asseman. torn. 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. torn. viii. p. 656, 657,) of John Damascenus, (Opera, torn. i. p. 281, edit. Lequien,) and of the ■econd Nicene Council, (Actio v. p. 1030.) The most perfect editiut mar be found in Cedrenus, (Compend. p. 175—178.)
monarch. Oe was ignorant, the profane historian, of th* testimony which he is compelled to deliver in the ecclesiastical pagt 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 flame* of the besieged. After this important service, the image of Edess-a was preserved with respect and gratitude; and if tha Armenians rejected the legend, the more credulous Greeks dored 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 splendor the host of heaven presumes not to behold? He who dwells in heaven, condescends this day to visit 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 vntliout hands, (in Greek it is a single word,11) were propagated in the camps and cities of the Eastern empire:ia they were the objects of worship, and the instruments of miracles; and in the hour of danger or tumult, 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
11 'Ax«ipoiroti?7-of. See Ducange, in Gloss. Grac. et Lat. The subject Ip treated with equal learning and bigotry by the Jesuit Gretser, (Syntagma de Imaginibus non Manu factis, ad calcein Codini de Officiis, p. 289—330,) the ass, or rather the fox, of Ingoldstadt, (see the Sealigeraaa;) with equal reason and wit by the Protestant Beausobre, in the ironical controversy which he has spread through many volumes of the Bibliotheque Germanique, (torn, xviii. p. 1—50, xx. p. 27—68, xxv. p. 1—36, xxvii. p. 85—118, xxviii. p. 1—33, xxxi. p. Ill—J48, xxxii. p. 75—107, xxxiv. p. 67—96.)
,a Theophylact Simocatta (1. ii. c. 3, p. 34, 1. iii. c. 1, p. 63) celebrates the QeavfipiKov e'Uaajiai, which he styles d^£ip«Toi/)rov; yet it was no more than a copy, since he adds ap-^irvnov To Ikmov n\ 'Pci
Saioi (of Edessa) Opijancvovai n appnniv See Pagi, torn. ii. A. D. 581 la 11
with the original, endowed, for that purpose, with a iniiaculoitt 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 Mother of God 1S 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.14
The worship of images had stolen into the church 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,16 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 Mussulmans, who reigned at Damascus, and
13 bee, in the genuine or supposed works of John Damascenus, two passages on the Virgin and St. Luke, which have not been noticed by Cretser. nor consequent^ by Beausobre, (Opera Joh. Damascen. torn, i. p. 618, 631.)
u "Your scandalous figures stand quite out from the canvass: 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.
16 By Gedrenus, Zonaras, Glycas, and Manasses, the origin of tha 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 puritj of iki Christian worship, (see Spanheim, Hist. Inmg. c. 2.)
threatened Constantinople, cast into the scale of reproach the accumulated weight of truth and victory. The cities of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt had been fortified 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 conjuest of ten years, the Arabs subdued those cities and these mages; and, in their opinion, the Lord of Hosts pronounced 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 years, the Palladium was yielded to the devotion of Constantinople, for a ransom of twelve thousand pounds of silver, the redemption of two hun dred Mussulmans, and a perpetual truce for the territory of Edessa.16 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 favor, and annihilated the virtue, of these precious symbols. But they were now opposed by the murmurs of many simple or rational Chris tians, 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 Byzantine clergy; while the rude and remote districts of Asia were strangers to this
'• See Elmacin. (Hist. Saracen, p. 267,) Abulpharagius, (Dynast, p 201,) and Abulfeda, (Annal. Moslem, p. 264,), and the criticisms of Pagi, (torn. iii. A. D. 944.) The prudent Franciscan refuses to determin* whether the image of Edessa now reposes at Rome or Genoa; but it« repose is inglorious, and this ancient object of worship is no longei famous or fashionable.