THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE WEST.
Chap. It is time to take up the connected thread of hisX1- - tory again. But the reader must not expect a successive detail of the proceedings of the Roman princes. After the death of Theodosius, the empire was torn by various convulsions, tending, in the West particularly, to its destruction. It is my duty to watch only the real Church amidst these scenes; for she lived, while the secular glory of Rome was destroyed. Honorius, the son of Theodosius, reigned there, while his brother Arcadius governed at Constantinople.
• Athanasian Creed.
Honorius, or to speak more properly, his ministers, (for he himself was, like Arcadius, a very feeble prince,) protected the external state of the church, and followed the steps of Theodosius in extirpating the remains of idolatry, and in supporting orthodoxy, against the Donatists, and all heretics. The superior advantages of a Christian above a Pagan establishment, even in times of such decline as the present were, appear in the humanity of a number of laws and edicts, by which idolatrous impurities and savage games were abolished, and due care was taken of the needy and the miserable. In what, for instance, but in a Christian government, shall we find so humane a law as that of Honorius, Humane enacted in the year 409, by which judges are di- Honoria*, rected to take prisoners out of prison every Sunday, A. .0 and to inquire if they be provided with necessaries, 409. and to see that they be properly accommodated in all things ?
In this reign, Rome was sacked by the Goths ; and an opportunity was given for the exercise of many Christian virtues, by the sufferings to which its inhabitants were exposed. But enough has been said of this subject, in the review of Augustine's City of God.
Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, was one of the greatest ornaments of Gaul in this century. He was a person of quality, and exercised the profession of a counsellor in the former part of his life. Amator*, his predecessor in the See, foresaw however, I apprehend, some symptoms of grace in him, and ordained him deacon. A month after the decease of Amator he was unanimously elected bishop by the clergy, nobility, citizens, and peasants, and was -forced to accept the office notwithstanding the great
• He foresaw these, by the observation which he made of the -frame of his spirit, rather than by any special revelation. From *various places in Fleury I have collected this short account of Germanus, arid, stripping it of the marvellous have retained only the credible.
reluctance which he discovered. He employed himself in the foundation of monasteries, and in enriching the church, while he impoverished himself; and for thirty years, from his ordination to his death, he lived in extreme austerity. Germans About the year 430, that is, about the time of viait.Great Augustine's death, he visited the island of Great
Britain, _ ,© . . . » - 1 1
A> Di Britain, with an intention to oppose Agncola, the son °f a Pelag'an bishop called Severinus, who propagated heresy among the churches there. Hence it is probable, that Pelagius, after he had ceased to be famous in the world, had retired into his native country, and there died. It is no wonder that his opinions should there find abettors. Lupus, bishop of Troyes, accompanied Germanus in the mission, which was undertaken on the recommendation of a numerous council in Gaul. Lupus governed his church fifty-two years, and was highly renowned for sanctity. These two bishops, on their arrival, preached not only in the churches, but also in the highways, and in the open country, and vast crowds attended their ministry. The Pelagians came to a conference; the doctrines of grace were debated ; the bishops, supporting themselves by express passages of Scripture in the hearing of all the people, were allowed to be victorious, and Pelagianism was reduced to silence. At this time, the Picts, a race of barbarians who inhabited the north, and the Saxons, a German nation, called in by the Britons, as it is well known, to assist them against the Picts, united their forces against the natives. The latter, terrified at the approach of the enemy, had recourse to Germanus and Lupus. Many, having been instructed by them, desired baptism j and a great part of the army received it at Easter, in a church which they made of boughs * of trees twisted together. The festival being over, they marched against the enemy, with Germanus at their head. He, still * Beda, 1 Hist.
remembering the profession in which he had spen great part of his youth, posted his men in a valley through which the enemy were to pass, surprised, and defeated them. After these things the two bishops returned to the Continent. The deacon Palladium Palladius being ordained bishop of Scotland, ar- J^jTM^ rived there in the year 431. Scotland had never Scotlandbefore seen a bishop, and was in a state of extreme barbarism.
The same year died Paulinus of Nola, who had Pauiinus been bishop there twenty years. He was the inti- Not'dio», mate friend of Augustine, and appears, through the A. D. mist of superstition which clouds his narrative, to 431. have been one of the best Christians of the age. He was a mirror of piety, liberality and humility, worthy of a more intelligent age, and of more intelligent writers than those, who have recorded his life. For I choose to dismiss him with this general character, rather than to tarnish his memory with repeating the romances of those who meant to honour him.
We have seen how the doctrines of grace were defended in Britain, and it is not to be doubted, but this was done with some saving efficacy. In Gaul, the doctrine of Semi-Pelagianism still maintained its ground, and Prosper and Hilary, who had written an account of it to Augustine, exerted themselves in defendingthe doctrines which he had taught. Coelestine, of Rome, supported the same cause; and in the same year he published nine articles, which will IX Artide« deserve some consideration, as they show that the published spark of truth was still alive amidst the mass of cor- b7 Cceie»ruption in the Western Church, and still, under God, ^ D preserved some degree of Christian holiness. In ^41 these articles, it is owned that all men are, by nature, under the power of sin, by reason of the fall, from whichnothingbut grace can deliver any man— that man is not good of himself; he needs a communication of God to him from God himself—nor
Chap, can a man, though renewed, overcome the flesh and t x*' , the devil, except he receive daily assistance—that God so worketh upon the hearts of men, that holy thoughts, pious intentions, and the least motion toward a good inclination, proceed from God. " We learn also, says Coelestine, what we are to believe, from the prayers appointed by the Apostles through the world, and observed with uniformity through the -whole church ; wherein it is petitioned, that faith may be granted to infidels, idolaters, Jews, and heretics ; charity to schismatics, repentance to sinners, and regeneration to catechumens. These prayers are not empty forms ; their effects are visible in the conversion of many, for which thanks are returned to God. We must confess, that the grace of God prevents the merits of man ; that it doth not take away free-will, but delivers, enlightens, rectifies, and heals it. God is willing, such is his goodness, that his gifts should be our merits, and grants an eternal reward to them: he works in us to will and to do according to his pleasure ; but his gifts are not idle in us; we co-operate with his grace, and, if we find remissness proceeding from our weakness, we immediately have recourse to him. As to the more difficult questions which have been discussed at large, we do not despise them, but need not treat of them. Suffice it that we have declared what we believe essential to the faith*."
Thus vigorously and perspicuously did a bishop of Rome maintain the apostolic doctrines, and so strong was the light which, in an age of superstition, had beamed forth from the writings of Augustine. I could not resist the pleasure of adding so valuable a testimony of the continuation of Christian Faith in the West.
The labours Palladius, the pastor of Scotland, being dead, ofp.tnck. Coelestine sent Patrick into the same parts in his stead. He was born in Scotland t, at a place now * FUyiy, c. a§. t Fleury, B. x*vi. 13.
called Dunbarton. Having been carried captive Cent. into Ireland, and having remained there a few years, , v' in which time he learnt the language and customs of the country, he was by some pirates afterwards conveyed into Gaul; and after various adventures he returned a volunteer into Ireland, with a view to undertake the conversion of the barbarous natives, who seem, till this time, to have been without any acquaintance with Christianity. It is delightful to observe the motions of Providence, in causing the confusions of war and desolation to be subservient to the propagation of the Gospel. Patrick, intent only on the cause of Christ, amidst all the various scenes in which he was tossed to and fro, was not discouraged by the ill success which at first attended his labours. The barbarous Irish refused to hear him, and he returned into Gaul, and spent some time with Germanus, of Auxerre, whose services in Britain have been mentioned. The conversation and example of Germanus inflamed his mind with fresh zeal, and by his advice he went to Rome; that he might be strengthened in his pious views by the authority of Coelestine. From this bishop he received such support and assistance as enabled him to revisit Ireland; and at length his success was so great, that to this day he is looked on as the apostle of Ireland. He first taught the Irish the use of letters ; and while we pass over in silence the fictions of which these ages are full, there is no reason to doubt but that he was the instrument of real good to the Irish, both with respect to this life and the next; nor ought such events to be omitted in the History of the Church of Christ. It were only to be wished, that we knew them more circumstantially. He died Patrick about the year 460, in an advanced age. ^ 4gc
In the mean time the clergy of Marseilles, who, in the latter times of the Pelagian controversy, with Cassian at their head, had endeavoured to chalk out a middle path between Augustine and Pelagius, propagated Semi-Pelagianism with success, notwithstanding the strenuous endeavours of Coelestine of Rome. Nor ought we* to be surprised at this: uTanUm ^e ^octrme °f Semi-Pelagianism strongly recomsupported mends itself to the depraved taste of mankind ; it Ca»sian. divides the work of salvation between free grace and human ability in such a manner, that it both retains a specious appearance of humility toward God, and at the same time flatters the pride of man. Fallen creatures cannot but feel weakness and ignorance in some degree; and therefore they do not easily believe themselves perfectly sufficient for their own salvation; yet they love independence, and struggle to preserve it; and hence it is, that Semi-Pelagian notions are so peculiarly grateful to the nature of corrupt man. But it may be observed, that this very circumstance itself forms an insuperable objection to their truth. That can never be the wisdom of God in a mystery*, which men in their natural state so readily and cordially approve. Prosper still continued, with the arms of Scripture, to oppose the opinions of Cassian, and to defend the doctrines of the grace of God ; Marius Mercator also laboured in the same cause. Gaul and the neighbouring countries no doubt received benefit from their endeavours. SemiPelagianism was so far checked, that during the dark ages after this time, the doctrines of grace were cordially received by godly persons, particularly in the monasteries. All, who were thoroughly humbled and contrite, found the comfort of them ; while those monks, whose religion was pharisaic, found the Semi-Pelagian scheme to suit their self-righteous pride f. In this manner were religious men in the West divided : Cassian's authority prevailed the
• i Cor. ii. 7.
f Though this must have been the case for the most part, yet exceptions will occur in the course of this history. There were those whose hearts were better taught than their understandings.
more, because of the serious and devout spirit which other parts of his writings possessed, or seemed to possess • ; but, as the times grew more corrupt in practice, Semi-Pelagianism gained the ascendant.
About the year 439, Genseric, king of the Van- Uenseric dais, surprised Carthage f in the midst of peace, la'pnta and used his victory with great cruelty. He him- Carthage, self was an Arian by profession, as the barbarous na- A* D* tions who had received Christianity generally were. 439How this happened, we have seen before. It does not appear that the Arians were altered in their dispositions. The same unprincipled wickedness, which had ever characterized that party, remained. Genseric showed the greatest malice against the clergy; drove a number of them from their churches, and martyred many. Indeed the abominations of the times seemed to call for such ascourge. The light of divine grace revived in the West, purified many souls, and fitted them for sufferings; but with the majority, both superstition and practical wickedness increased. Carthage itself was sunk in vice; lewdness was amazingly predominant. So deplorable a thing is it for men to depart from the simplicity of Christian faith ! The superstitions now increasing daily, only fortified them the more in self-righteousness; and natural depravity, while grace was neglected, grew to an enormous height. Oppression and cruelty domineered at Carthage j and the poor of the place, in the anguish of their misery, were induced to beseech God to deliver the city to the Barbarians
• I speak ambiguously, because I have no arcess to Cassian, except indirectly by the short account of Du Pin. I scarcely need to say, after the accounts I have given of good men before his time, that notwithstanding the views of Prosper appear to me more humble, and holy, and consistently scriptural, yet there might be and there were real good men, on the Semi-Pelagian scheme: for it ought not to be confounded with Pelagianism itself: the theory of this excludes the very idea of grace.
f Victor Vitens, B. i.
j The account of a council held at Braga, in Lusitania ||, will || Jleury, B. xxiii. 6.
He who informs us of these things is Salvian, priest of Marseilles*. From him we learn, that
both illustrate the melancholy situation of civil affairs in this century (for in the former part of it the council seems to have been held) and will also throw some light on the state of religion in Portugal, a country which has hitherto furnished us with no memoirs. The bishop Pancratian, being president, said, Ye see brethren, the havoc made by the Barbarians. Brethren, Ice our care be for the salvation of souls, fearing lest the miseries of the times should seduce our flocks into the way of sinners ; and therefore let us give them an example of suffering in our own persons for Jesus Christ, who suffered so much for us. And as some of the Barbarians are Arians, others idolaters, let us confess our faith. He then declared in few woids the articles of Christian confession, to which they all assented. Elipand, of Conimbra, said, The Barbarians are among us; they besiege Lisbon, in a little time they will be upon us. Let every one go to his abode; let him comfort the faithful, decently conceal the bodies of the saints, and send us an account of the caves where they are deposited. All the bishops having approved of the motion ; Pancratian added, Go home in peace, except brother Pot ami us, because his church at ^Eminium it destroyed, and his country ravaged. Potamius generously answered, I did not receive the episcopal function to sit at my ease, but to labour; let me comfort my flock, and suffer with them for Jesus Christ. You have well spoken, replied the president, God be with you. God maintain you in your resolution, said all the bishops. Let us depart with the peace of Jesus Christ.
At this council ten bishops subscribed to the decrees. Arisbert of Porto, (I suppose the present Oporto), wrote to a friend, a little after the council, in these affecting terms : I pity you, brother—may God look on our misery with the eyes of his mercy. Conimbra is taken, the servants of God are fallen by the edge of the sword. Elipand (one of the bishops of the council) is carried away captive ; Lisbon has redeemed itself with gold. Igaedita is besieged; nothing to be seen but misery, groaning, and anguish. You have seen what the Suevi have done in Gallicia; judge what the Alani art doing in Lusitania. I send you the decrees of the faith you ask for; I will send you all, if I discover the place where you are bidden. I expect the same fate daily. The Lord have mercy on us.
The sympathizing reader, who enjoys at his ease the civil and religious privileges of our country, will do well to consider how thankful he ought to be for blessings, of which these pious men were deprived.
* Salvian de Gubern. B. 7.
many nominal Christians attended Pagan sacrifices and afterwards went to the Lord's Supper. Lewdness was so common among them, that after the Vandals became masters of Carthage, they put a stop to the disorders, and obliged the prostitutes to marry. For these Barbarians had not yet attained the corrupt refinements of Roman luxury. Salvian very justly observes, that the miseries of these orthodox Christians oughlto give no offence, because they were only Christians in name. They were in reality very idolatrous in their practices, and even admist the horrors of war and public calamities, continued impure and voluptuous. And oppression and injustice were so grievous, that the dominion of the Barbarians was really more tolerable than that of the Romans. It was worth while to mention these things, as containing no improper illustration of the adorable justice of Providence, in punishing the wickedness of nominal Christians, not only at Carthage, but in general in this century through the Western empire. What happened to the ancient Jewish Church when grown wicked and idolatrous, and retaining only the form of religion, happens also to Christian nations. God is glorified by taking the power out of their hand, that they may no longer profane his holy name,
Genseric expelled the bishops from their Sees; and in case of any resistance, he made them slaves for life ; and this punishment was actually inflicted on several bishops, and on many laymen of quality. Quod vult Deus, bishop of Carthage, and a number of clergy, were expelled, and they fled by sea to Naples. Others having suffered divers torments in Africa were put on board an old bark, and landed in Campania. Arian bishops were now put into possession of the vacant Sees *. Some bishops, who still remained in the provinces, presented themselves before Genseric, and entreated, that as they had lost their churches * Victor Vitens, B. i.
and their wealth, they might at least be allowed to remain without molestation in Africa, for the comfort and support of the people of God. " I have resolved to leave none of your name or nation," was the reply of the stern Barbarian ; and it was with difficulty that he was withheld, by the entreaties of those about him, from ordering them to be thrown into the sea.
Yet, amidst the decline of Roman greatness, the growth of idolatrous superstition, and the horrors of the times, it is pleasing to see the improvements of human society through the influence of Christianity, corrupted and imperfect as it then was. I have before noticed the extinction of the savage games and sports of the Romans. Of a piece with this was the abolition of the barbarous custom of exposing children, a custom which had continued amidst all the grandeur of Rome. Constantine, in the year 331, had made a decree to obviate it; so had Honorius in the year 412. Still, however, those who took care of the children were molested. And now in the year 442, in a council held at Vaison*, it was ordained, that on Sunday the deacon shall give notice at the altar, that an exposed child hath been taken up, and that if any will claim it, he may do so within ten days; otherwise that he who shall afterwards claim such a child, shall have the churchcensure of Homicide denounced against him.
In the year 443 Genseric passed over into Sicily, and so far as his arms prevailed, extended the persecution of the church into that island.
Germanus, of Auxerre, was called a second time into Great Britain, to assist the church against the Pelagian heresy, which again spread itself there. He set out in the year 446, and baffled the attempts of those who disturbed the faith of the Romans. The authority of this person was exceedingly great in these times, and it must be confessed that he em* Fleury, B. xxvi. 52.
ployed it to the best purposes, the propagation of Christian doctrine, and the benefit of human society. But I am inclined neither to credit nor to relate his miracles; and I am sorry that I have little else to tell the reader concerning' him. He died in the year 448, having held the See of Auxerre thirty years.
Attila, the Hun, now made terrible ravages in Rav,l(,es 0f various parts of the empire ; yet, such is the ascen- A«iu. dant which religion, supported by any tolerable decorum of manners, must ever maintain over ignorant barbarism, that his respect for it, in some measure, had already checked his progress in Gaul; and an embassy of Leo, bishop of Rome, from the emperor of the West, determined him not to invade Italy. This was in the year 4.52. Two years after, Genseric, king of the Vandals, arrived at Rome, which he found without defence: Leo went out to meet him, and persuaded him to be content with the pillage, and to abstain from burnings and murders. He returned into Africa with many thousand captives. This circumstance gave occasion to an exercise of the Christian grace of charity, worthy to have a place in these annals.
After a long vacancy, Deogratias was ordained ^°?TMJiia' bishop of Carthage in the year 454, at the desire of bishop of Valentinian, the Roman emperor, and as it seems by Cmrtn»8f> the conance at least of Genseric. The captives A- D* of the latter were divided among his followers, who 4t>4separated husbands from wives, and children from parents. The heart of Deogratias was moved with compassion; and to prevent these disorders, he undertook to redeem the captives by the sale of all the vessels of gold and silver belonging to the churches. As there were no places large enough to contain the multitude *, he placed them in two great churches, which he furnished with beds and straw, giving order for their daily accommodation with all necessaries. He appointed physicians to attend the sick, and had • Vict. Vit. B. i.
Chap, nourishment distributed to them in his presence by XL , their directions. In the night he visited all the beds, giving himself up to this work, notwithstanding his age and infirmities. He lived only three years in his bishopric, was endeared to the memory of the faithful by his virtues; and while Arians performed military exploits, and dealt in blood, this follower of Augustine honoured the real doctrines of the Gospel by acts of meekness and charity. It is thus that we still trace the real church of Christ, and see the connexion of principles and practice in the disciples of the Lamb. The sight of so much goodness was too much for Genseric; he took care to suffer no more such bishops, and, in process of time, the orthodox bishops in Africa were reduced to three.
Several godly persons, after a variety of hardships and tortures, came into the hands of Capsur, a Moorish king, the relation of Genseric. These being arrived at the desert where he lived, and seeing there a number of profane sacrifices, began by their discourse and manner of life to bring over the Barbarians to the knowledge of God, and gained a great multitude in a country where the name of Jesus had not yet been heard of. Desirous of establishing the Gospel there, they sent deputies, who having crossed the desert, arrived at a Roman city; for some part of Africa still remained connected with the Roman empire. The bishop sent priests and ministers, who built a church, and baptized a great number of Barbarians. The Pagan king informed Genseric of these transactions, who, incensed at the zeal of these pious men, condemned them to death. The converted Moors bewailed themselves; and the martyrs as they passed by, said to each of them, Brother, pray for me : God has -accomplished my desire; this is the way to the heavenly kingdom.
Genseric ordered the bishops to deliver up the sacred vessels and books; which they refusing, the Vandals took them by force, and plundered every thing. Valerian, bishop of Abbenza, above fourscore years of age, was driven alone out of the city, and all persons were prohibited from lodging him in their houses. He lay naked a long time in the public road, exposed to the weather, and thus expired for the faith of Christ.
The Orthodox celebrating Easter in the church of a town called Regia, the Arians assaulted and massacred them. Genseric ordered, that none but Arians should serve in his family, or in that of his children. A person named Armogastus, in the service of Theodoric, the king's son, was treated with a variety of insults, till death put a period to his sufferings.
Another, named Archinimus, was flattered by Genseric himself, and was promised immense wealth, if he would receive Arianism ; but his constancy was invincible, and Genseric having given secret orders to the executioners, that if he showed undaunted courage at the moment of execution, his life should be spared; he by this means was suffered to live.
Satur, steward of* Huneric's house, was very free in his censures of Arianism. Being accused, he was threatened with the loss of all his property, and was further told, that his wife should be married to a keeper of camels if he persevered. His wife, who had several children and a sucking infant, entreated him to comply. He answered, " Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh f- Let them dc* what they will, I must remember the words of the Lord, Whoever doth not leave wife, or children, or lands, or houses, cannot be my disciple." They stripped him of all, and reduced him to beggary.
Genseric afterwards ordered the great church of Carthage to be shut up, and banished the ministers :
* Huneric was the son and successor of Genseric. f Job ii. 10.
and wherever his arms prevailed, he made the people of God to feel his fury. The whole empire of the West, indeed, was falling into ruin. Odoacer, ' king of the Heruli, made himself master of Rome in the year 476, and though he was afterwards obliged to give way to the victorious arms of Theodoric the Goth, yet Roman emperors have ceased in Italy ever since *. Africa, we have seen, bowed, under the yoke of the Vandals; Spain, and a great part of Gaul was held in subjection by the Goths; the other part of Gaul was subjugated by the Franks, who, in process of time, became masters of the whole country, which from them bears the name of France ; and the southern part of Great Britain was overpowered at length by the Saxons. These were idolaters, and the small remains of the ancient Britons, Christians by profession, retired into the inaccessible mountains of Wales. The poverty of the northern parts of the island was their security. And we must be content to leave the fruits of the labours of Germanus, Palladius, and Patrick, in a very low state, till we shall have occasion to speak of the conversion of the Saxons. The Franks also were at present idolaters; the Barbarians, who ruled in the other parts, were Arians, though it does not appear that any of them persecuted the faithful with so much rage as the Vandals did. Evaric, king of the Goths in Spain, seemed ambitious to tread in the steps of Genseric : he forbad the ordination of bishops in the room of those who were deceased, and sent others into banishment. The churches fell into decay, and congregations seldom assembled. Indeed itwas avery gloomyseason with the Western church in general. The wrath of God was evidently poured out on the churches for- me/
* I have not thought it worth while to mention particularly the emperors of the West since the death of the great Theodosius, as they- are all characters very feeble cr obscure, and 00 way interesting in church-history.
cies long abused ; but there were those who, by the Cent. principles of divine grace, were enabled in patience . ^' , to possess their souls, and to evidence that the real church was far from being extinguished.
Among the stars that illuminated this disastrous Sidonius period was Sidonius of Lyons*. He was one ofV0."'
* ... 5 - made bi
of the noblest families in Gaul, and was a cele- shop of brated orator and poet. About the year 472, he clermontwas, contrary to his wishes, appointed bishop of A- n* Clermont, in Auvergne. His liberality was highly ^72' laudable, and even before he was bishop he did frequently, unknown to his wife, convert his silver plate to the use of the poor. His brother-in-law f, Ecdicius, was remarkably distinguished for the same virtue. The Goths having ravaged the country during the scarcity occasioned by a grievous famine, which was added to the national afflictions, Ecdicius collected 4,000 of both sexes, whom he lodged in his houses, and nourished during all the time of the scarcity. Patiens, bishop of Lyons, also extend- The bounty ed his bounty to the remotest parts of Gaul. The J*}^''^'' providence of God was remarkable in tempering Lj0n».° the miseries of the Christians, in these times, by raising up such exemplars of munificence. Patiens possessed the pastoral character in a great degree, and reclaimed many of the Burgundian Arians. His virtues were admired by Gondebaud, the Burgundian king, who resided at Lyons.
A council was held in Gaul, from the confused account of which it appears that Semi-Pelagianism was still very prevalent there; nor is it to be wondered at, if we consider the little light of the Scriptures which now remained in the church.
* I dare not, however, rank this man among the ornaments of the Church of Christ. I find him continually with princes and emperors, writing their panegyrics, and absorbed in secular politics. Of his evangelical taste and spirit, I know no sufficient evidence. f Fleury, P. xxix. 36.
Death of Genseric dying in the year 477, was succeeded by Gensenc. jjjg e]dest gon Huneric *. He began his reign with A' D- a mild aspect toward the faithful, and, after an 477- interval of twenty-four years, permitted them to ordain a bishop of Carthage, but under this condition, that the Arians at Constantinople should have the same liberty, which those of the general church had at Carthage. The people protested against the condition, and with good reason, because the power was out of their hands, and they said, " we will not accept a bishop on such terms. Jesus Christ will govern the church, as he has done hitherto." But Huneric disregarded the protestation; and Eugenius was elected bishop of Carthage. The Tirtues All mankind soon bore witness to his virtues. The bishoUp8of'US revenues of the church were indeed in the hands of Carthage, the Arians ; but large sums were every day brought to him, all which he faithfully distributed to the needy, and reserved to himself no more than daily bread. The Arian bishops soon murmured ; they represented him as a dangerous preacher, and expostulated with Eugenius himself for suffering persons to hear him who wore the Vandal habit, which was, it seems, at that time perfectly distinct from the Roman. God's house, he replied, is open to all, without respect to persons.
Huneric who had only complied thus far with the inclinations of the Roman Christians in his dominions, to oblige the court of Constantinople, where the emperor of the East reigned, began gradually to show the ferocity of his spirit. Fearing that he should lose his Vandals, if they attended the preaching of Eugenius, he ordered guards to watch at the doors of the church, who, when they saw a man or woman in a Vandal habit, struck such persons on the head with short staves jagged and indented, which, being twisted into the hair, and. drawn back with sudden violence, tore off both the * Victor Vit. B. ii.
hair and skin *. Many suffered extremely by this Cent. means; women, who had been thus treated, were .. ' . led through the streets, with a crier going before, to exhibit them to the people. The faithful, however, remained firm; and those who belonged to Huneric's court could not be induced to receive Arianism. He deprived them of their pensions, and sent them to reap corn in the country. As these persons had been educated like gentlemen, the punishment was equally severe and reproachful. But they bore the cross for the sake of Him who gave himself for them.
Victor, bishop of Vita, to whom, as an eye-witness and fellow-sufferer, we are indebted for the history of this memorable persecution, relates some visions, which were looked on as preludes of the horrible desolations which approached. We may pass by these without any loss to the reader, and also without any impeachment of the general credibility of the historian. Huneric at first ordered, that none should hold any office who was not an Arian. He afterwards confiscated the possessions of the rejected orthodox, and banished their persons into Sicily and Sardinia. He seized the consecrated virgins, and treated them with excessive cruelty and indecency, with a view to extort evidence from them against the bishops. But nothing could be drawn from them to suit the tyrant's purpose, though many died under the torments.
Huneric afterwards banished pastors and people, Persecuto the amount of four thousand nine hundred and "°ns of
seventy-six, into the desert. Felix, of Abbinta, had been bishop forty-four years, and by the palsy had lost his speech, and even his understanding. The faithful, compassionating his case, implored the king, that the old man might be allowed to end his days quietly at Carthage. Huneric, as if he had been ambitious to outstrip the Pagan emperors in • Fleury, B. xxx.
Chap, persecution, said, " Let him be tied to wild oxen, xt- , and be so carried, where I ordered;" on which, they tied him across a mule like a piece of timber. These Christian heroes were conducted to the two cities of Sicca and Lares, where the Moors were directed to receive and conduct them into the desert. They were at first confined in a prison, where their brethren were allowed to have access to them, to preach, and to administer the Lord's supper. Some young children were of the number, several of whom were tempted by their mothers, to admit Arian baptism ;
but OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS Strength was ordained, and they continued faithful.
The guards were soon after severely chastised for granting these privileges ; none were permitted to visit the prisoners; they were thrown one upon another, and, for want of room, could not withdraw, to comply with the necessities of nature. The effect of this was horrible beyond description. Some of their brethren found means to enter unobserved among them, and of these was Victor, our author, who sunk up to the knees in the ordure. How strong was that grace which caused them patiently to endure, rather than free themselves by unfaithfulness!
The Moors at length ordered them to march. They went out on the Lord's day, their clothes, their heads, and their faces covered all over with filth, and they sang as they went, " Such honour have all his saints." Cyprian, bishop of Uniziba, comforted them, and gave them all he had, wishing for the honour of being carried with them. This was not granted him at present. He afterwards was confined, suffered much, and was sent into banishment. There is a voice in man which speaks loudly in favour of suffering innocence. The whole country resounded with the cries and groans of the people, flocking to behold them, and throwing their children at their feet. Alas, said they, to whom do you leave us ? Who shall baptize these children ? Who shall administer the Lord's supper to us ? Why are not we permitted to go with you ? Among the rest, a woman was observed leading a child by the hand. Run, my boy, said she, observe what haste these holy men make to receive the crown. Beingreproved for desiring to go along with them, she replied, I am the daughter of the late bishop of Zurita; and I am carrying this child, who is my grandson, lest he be left alone, and the enemy draw him into the snares of death. The bishops, with tears in their eyes, could only say, God's will be done. As they travelled, when the aged or the young, who wanted strength, were not able to advance, the Moors pricked them forward with their javelins, or threw stones at them. Such as were not able to walk were tied by the feet, and dragged along. Many died in the march ; the rest arrived at the desert, and were fed with barley, nor were even allowed this after a season.
In the year 483, Huneric sent an edict to Euge- Edict of nius, with orders to read it in the church, and dis- Huner,c' patched couriers with copies of it through Africa. A'DThe purport of the Edict was, after upbraiding the 4°3* faithful bishops for their zeal in spreading their doctrines, to command them all to appear at Carthage, to dispute with the Arian bishops on a certain day, and to prove their faith, if they could, by the Scripture.
The most alarming words were, " resolving not to suffer any scandal in our provinces." The bishops interpreted them to mean, that he would not suffer any who professed the doctrine of the Trinity to remain in his dominions. They therefore drew up a remonstrance, containing in substance a petition, that Huneric would send for the bishops who were beyond the seas. Huneric, regardless of the remonstrance, persecuted the most learned bishops under various pretences. He banished the bishop Donatian, after giving him an hundred and fifty bastinadoes. He treated others also with great cruelty, and forbad any of his sect to eat with the faithful.
On the first of February, the day appointed for the conference, the bishops resorted to Carthage from every part of Africa, and from all the islands subject to the Vandals. Huneric, for many days, made no mention of the conference, and separated those of the greatest abilities from the rest, that he might put them to death on false pretences. One of the most learned, named Laetus, he burned alive, with a view of intimidating others. At length, when the conference was opened, the orthodox chose ten of their own number, to answer for the rest. Cirila, the chief of the Arian bishops, was seated on a magnificent throne, with his partisans sitting in an exalted station, while the orthodox continued standing below. The latter saw what a mock-conference it was likely to prove, and remonstrated; the Arians ordered one hundred bastinadoes to be given to each of them. May God look down on the violence that is offered us, said Eugenius. Cirila finding them better prepared than he imagined, made use of several cavils to avoid the conference. The orthodox foreseeing this, had prepared a confession * of faith, in which the Trinitarian doctrine is very explicitly declared, and which concludes thus : "This is our faith, supported by the authority of the evangelists and apostles, and founded upon the society of all the general churches through the world; in which by the grace of God Almighty, we hope to persevere till death."
The Arians, incensed at this confession, reported to the king that the orthodox had raised a clamour, to avoid the conference. The tyrant had taken his measures; orders were sent through the provinces, • Victor, B. iii.
1)y virtue of which the churches were all shut in one Cent. day, and their revenues given to the Arians. He t y* . allowed the orthodox till the first of June in the same year, that is, 484, to consider whether they would merit pardon by a retractation.
Such were the measures made use of to oblite- Cruelties of rate the doctrines of divine grace in Africa, where u"neric' they had been so gloriously revived by Augustine. Huneric ordered the bishops to be expelled from Carthage, stripped them of horses and changes of raiment, and forbad, under terrible penalties, any one to give them victuals or lodgings. The bishops remained without the walls of the city, exposed to the weather; and meeting accidentally with the king, they all came to him : " Why, say they, are we treated thus ?" He looked with fury, and ordered some armed horsemen to ride in among them, who wounded many.
Huneric could not but be conscious that his conduct was no less absurd than iniquitous. On second thoughts, he ordered them to go to a place called the Temple of Memory, where they were shown a paper rolled up, and were required to swear to what was contained in it. Are we like beasts, void of sense and understanding, cried two of them, that we should swear at a venture, without knowing -what is contained in the paper ? In the issue, of four hundred and forty-six bishops, who came to the conference, forty-eight died, many of them, probably, through hard usage; forty-six were banished into Corsica, three hundred and two into other places; and most of the rest made their escape.
Among those sent into exile was Vigilius, of Thap- VigMm sus, a man famous for his writings. To prevent "lledthe persecution from being more fierce, he composed a number of treatises under the names of some of the most renowned fathers, as he himself acknowledged with regard to several of them. The celebrated creed, called that of Athanasius, is ascribed
Chap- to him *. He appears to have meant well; but . XI- - the artifice was extremely culpable; and partly by his practice, and partly by his example, he has caused much confusion and uncertainty in the works of the fathers. Vigilius himself retired to Constantinople. Further Huneric, as if the very soul of Galerius had been HuucHc.°f assumed by him, pursued his sanguinary designs with vigour. He sent executioners among the laity, who whipped, hanged, and burned alive the faithful. Eugenius, before he left Carthage, had written a strenuous letter, to warn his flock : and it must be owned that many of them gave the noblest proofs of sincerity. Donysia, while she was scourged, and the blood was streaming from her body, said, " Ministers of the devil, what you now do to confound me with shame (for they had stripped her naked), is my glory ;" and she exhorted the rest to suffer martyrdom. Looking severely at her son, whom she saw dreading the torture, " Remember, son, said she, that we have been baptized in the name of the Trinity. Let us not lose the garment of salvation, lest the Master should say, Cast them into outer darkness." The young man upon this suffered death with constancy: and she thanked God with aloud voice, embracing his body. Many suffered with her, strengthened by her exhortations f.
The sufferings of many others were very dreadful ; it is even painful to write or read the narratives. A woman called Victoria, with amazing constancy supported her cruel tortures, unmoved also by the entreaties of her husband, who besought her to pity their common children.
Victorian, of Adrumetum, was at that time go
• I have wondered why persons, who love not the doctrine of the Trinity, should triumph so much on account of this circumstance. If the sentiments of the creed be defensible by Scripture, the name of Vigilius cannot disgrace them i if they be not, that of Athanasius can do them no honour.
t Victor, B. v.
vernor of Carthage under the king. He was the Cent. wealthiest man in Africa: to gain him over to y* Arianism was to gain a prize; and Huneric assured him of his particular favour, if he would .submit to be re-baptized, and renounce the Trinitarian creed. " Tell the king," said he, " if there were no other life after this, I would not for a little temporal honour be ungrateful to my God, who hath granted me the grace to believe in him." The king, incensed at an answer truly christian, tormented him grievously; and thus he slept in Jesus. At Tam baia, two brothers continued a whole day suspended, with large stones fastened to their feet. One of them, overcome with the torture, at length desired to recant, and to be taken down. " No, no, said the other; this, brother, is not what we swore to Jesus Christ: I will testify against you, when we come before his awful throne, that we swore by his body and blood, that we would suffer for his sake." He said much more, to rouse and encourage him; at length his fellow-sufferer cried out, " Torment as you please, I will follow my brother's example." The executioners were quite fatigued with torturing them by hot irons and hooks, and at length dismissed them, remarking that every one appeared ready to follow the example of the two brothers, and that none was brought over to Arianism.—I see still the marks of the true church patiently suffering for the truth's sake, and victorious in suffering.
At Typasa, the secretary of Cirila was ordained bishop by the Arians. The inhabitants seeing this, transported themselves into Spain, as the distance was but small: some, who could meet with no vessels, remained in Africa. The new bishop laboured by courtesy to win their favour ; but-they, in contempt of his ministry, assembled themselves in a private house for public worship. Huneric hearing of this by a message from the bishop, ordered their tongues to be cut out and their right hands to be
cut off, in the public market-place. He seems tohave permitted them to retire to Constantinople, but to have been determined to prevent their open confession of the Trinity. Shall I, in compliance with modern prejudices, throw a veil over the rest, or shall I proceed according to historical veracity ?— Impkhiosa Tkahit Veritas. A miracle followed, worthy of God, whose majesty had been so daringly insulted, and which must at that time have much strengthened the hearts of the faithful, who needed indeed some peculiar consolations amidst such scenes of horrible persecution. The miracle itself is so well attested, that I see not how it can be more so. The reader shall have both the fact and its proofs. Though their tongues were cut out to the root, they spake as well as before. " If any one doubt the fact, says Victor of Vita, let him go to Constantinople, where he will find a sub-deacon, called Repauatus, one who was thus treated, who speaks plainly, and who has a particular respect shown him in the palace of the emperor Zeno, especially by the empress."
iEneas, of Gaza, a Platonic philosopher, a cautious and prudent person *, was at that time at Constantinople, and writes thus in the conclusion of his Dialogue on the Resurrection: " I myself saw them, heard them speak, and wondered, that their utterance could be so articulate. I searched for the organ of speech, and not trusting my ears, was resolved to have the proof of the eyes. Causing them to open their mouths, I saw that their tongues were plucked out even by the roots, and was then more surprised, that they could live, than that they could speak." Is this sufficient evidence } Hear more :
* Gibbon (Decline of Rom. Emp. vol. iii. c. xxxviii.) is struck with this evidence, in conjunction with that of the rest. Yet he intimates that the infidel's suspicion is incurable. Does he allude to himself? To what purpose does he say so, if he does not ? If he does, what is this but to deny all reasonable evidence, and confess himself to be unreasonable?
Procopius, the historian, in his History of the Van- Cent.
dalic War *, says, Huneric ordered the tongues of , v
many to be cut out, who were afterwards seen in the streets of Constantinople when I was there, talking without any impediment, or feeling any inconvenience from what they had suffered. Count Marcellinus, iu his Chronicons, says, " I have seen some of this company of faithful confessors at Constantinople, who had their tongues cut out, but spake nevertheless without any imperfection in their utterance." To name only one more witness : the great emperor Justinian, in a Constitution published by him for Africa, after it had fallen into his dominion, testifies, that he had beheld the same *f-.
Numbers were maimed in various ways. Some lost their hands, some their feet, others their eyes, their noses, or their ears. Dagila, wife of one of the King's cup-bearers, though nobly born and brought up tenderly, was severely scourged and banished into a desert, joyfully forsaking her house, husband, and children.
Seven monks of Capsa having been persuaded to come to Carthage, flattered with fair promises and the royal favour, showed, however, That They Had Another Spirit in them. Inflexibly firm in the profession of the Trinity, and disappointing the hopes of Huneric, they were martyred by his orders.
The whole clergy of Carthage, after having been almost starved with hunger, were exiled. Elpidiphorus, who had been baptized into the faith of the Trinity, and who had had for his sponsor the deacon Muritta, was more active than others in tormenting the faithful. As they were preparing to stretch Muritta on the rack, the venerable aged person suddenly drew out, from under his robe, the linen with which he had coveredElpidiphorusathiscomingout of the font, and spreading it in the view ofthewhole • B. 1. c viii. f B. 1. Cod. <fe 0£ Afr.
company, he said to the apostate, who sat as his judge, " Behold the linen which shall accuse you at the coming of the great Judge, and shall cast you headlong into the lake of brimstone, because you have clothed yourself with cursing, by renouncing the true baptism and the faith." Elpidiphorus was confounded, and unable to answer. Two Vandals, who loved the faith, accompanied by their mother, forsook their wealth, and followed the clergy into banishment. Theucarius, an apostate, advised the Arian governors to recall some of the young children, whom he, according to his office, had taught to sins: the service of the church, and whom he knew to have the best voices. Messengers were sent to recall twelve, who, weeping and holding the banished clergy by their knees, refused to leave them. They were separated from them by force, and were brought back to Carthage. But neither flatteries nor the bastinado could cure them of their attachment. These, after the persecution was over, were held in high estimation in the church. The Arian bishops went every where armed with swords, accompanied by their clergy. One, named Anthony, distinguished himself by hiscruel treatment of Eugenius of Carthage, who was his prisoner, and whose life he in vain attempted to destroy by repeated severities. Another bishop, called Habet Deum, was bound by him hand and foot. Anthony, stopping his mouth, poured water on his body. " My brother, said the Arian, unbinding him, you are now a Christian, as well as we ; what should hinder you in future, from obeying the will of the king?" "While you werestopping my mouth, I made," said the holy confessor, " a protestation against your violence, which the angels have written down, and will present to God."
The barbarity was general: persons were stopped on the highways, and brought to Arian bishops, who re-baptized them, and gave them certificates, to prevent their suffering the same violence again. None were permitted to pass from place to Cent. place without these certificates. The Arian clergy t y- , went, even in the night time, with armed men into houses, carrying water with them, with which they sprinkled persons in their beds, crying out that they had made them Christians. They put the physician Liberatus, and his wife, into separate prisons ; when somebody informed the latter, that her husband had obeyed the king. " Let me see him, says she, and I will do what is well-pleasing to God." They took her out of the prison to her husband, to whom she said, taking him by the throat, " Unhappy man, unworthy of the grace of God, why will you perish eternally for a transitory glory ? Will your gold and silver deliver you from hell-fire?" " What is the matter, wife, he replied; what have they been telling you ? I am what I was by the grace of Jesus Christ, and will never renounce the faith."
Cresconius, a presbyter of the city of Myzenta, was found dead in a cavern of mount Zica. Various persons of both sexes fleeing from the persecution, suffered thus through cold and hunger.
At length, after an horrible reign of seven years Death of and ten months, in which time the church was purg- "e'tj.r.nt ed by as severe a persecution as any ever known, in ^. n.' the year 485 died the tyrant Huneric of a disease, 485. in which he was corroded by worms,—a signal monument of Divine justice ! Gontamond, his nephew and successor, stopped the persecution, and recalled Eugenius to Carthage. In the year 487, a council Council ut was held at Rome, with Felix, the bishop, at its Ronie' head*, in which were forty bishops of Italy, four of \, * Africa, and seventy-six priests. The rules of pe- ^ nance, prescribed by this synod, on occasion of the late persecution, partook partly of the prevailing superstitions, and partly of the primitive strictness of discipline. Clergymen, who had suffered themselves to be re-baptized, were deprived not only of the mi* Ep. 7. Felix.
Chap- nistry, but even of lay-communion, till their death. . *1- , Other articles breathe the same severe spirit; yet I rejoice, amidst the excess of discipline, to find, that real religion was honoured. One rule of the council deserves to be mentioned for its good sense: ' No clergyman shall receive into his city the penitent of another bishop, without his certificate in writing.* Odoacer In the year 403, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, now Theodoricb,y complete master of Italy, after he had ruined OdoaA. r>. cer, made a law to restrain all the adherents of the 403. latter from making a will, or disposing of their estates. All Italy was alarmed, and Epiphanius, bishop of Pavia, was applied to, that he might intercede with the king. Lawrence, bishop of Milan, joining with him, they went together to Ravenna, where Theodoric resided *. Epiphanius obtained favour for all, except some few leaders of the party. Theodoric, who had before honoured and experienced the virtues of Epiphanius, discoursed with him in private, and said, " You see the desolations of Italy; the Burgundians have carried away captive a number of the inhabitants ; I wish to redeem them; none of th« bishops is so proper as yourself, undertake the embassy ; I shall order what money is necessary for Epipilanius you." Epiphanius accepted the commission on coneommi.0-'0' dition that Victor, bishop of Turin, might be his Mcned to companion. In the year 494, Epiphanius passed caputs'il'f tne Alps ; all the people came out to see him, and burgundy, brought presents, which he distributed among the A. D. poor. Arriving at Lyons, where Gondebaud, the 494- Burgundian king, resided, he advised him to dismiss the captives without ransom. It seems astonishing, that one Arian king should negotiate with another of the same sect, by means of a Trinitarian ; but it is just to notice these things, that the reader may not suspect all Arians to have had the spirit of Eusebius, of Nicomedia, or of Huneric, the Vandal. The
Ennodius Vita. Epiph.
true triumphs of real godliness and virtue, in soften- Cent. ing the miseries of human society, appear in these t V- . transactions of Epiphanius. Let philosophers say that this was all the effect of superstition: it is my duty to show, that even in a superstitious age, godliness did exist, and did perform what mere superstition could not; and philosophy should stop her mouth, when it is remembered, that she seldom ever did so much good to society, as the Christian religion did, even when discoloured by superstition.
Gondebaud, who was no stranger to the character of Epiphanius, restored to him without ransom all the prisoners, except those who were taken armed, they being the property of the captors. Six thousand were sent away without ransom; and Theodoric's money, aided by the liberality of Syagria, a lady of quality and of good works, and of Avitus, bishop of Vienne, redeemed the rest. Epiphanius travelled to Geneva, to obtain the release of the -captives there, and was equally successful with Gondegisilas, the brother of Gondebaud. He returned into Italy with troops of redeemed captives, and easily obtained for them from Theodoric the recovery of their lands.
This excellent person was born at Pavia in the Epipiianiu*. year 438. From early life he was devoted to di- ^^^r,",,, vine services, and, at twenty years of age, was or- A. Dl dained deacon. He was made bishop at the age of 438^ twenty-eight; and it must be confessed that he gave himself wholly to the service of God and the good of mankind. He was often successfully employed in public affairs. In the year 474, he had been sent by Nepos, at that time emperor of the West, to Evaric, king of the Visigoths, then residing at Toulouse, though after the Visigoths were ejected from Gaul, they resided in Spain. Epiphanius negotiated a peace with Evaric successfully, butrefused an invitation to dine with him, because he was an Arian. In 476, Odoacer, making himself master of
Chap. Italy, Epiphanius, by his intercession, obtained the . XL . deliverance of a number of captives; and with no other fund, than the supplies of Providence, he repaired the city of Pavia, which had been pillaged, and rebuilt the churches. When Theodoric entered Italy in 489, Epiphanius came to him to Milan, and was courteously received. He still softened the horrors of war during the contest between OdoaHe died, cer and Theodoric, and did good to all, even sup.A. D. porting those who had pillaged his lands. In the 49^- year 496 he died, being fifty-eight years of age.
About this time decretals of Gelasius, bishop of Rome, were published : a few of them relating to ordination * will deserve to be mentioned. " He, who is taken from a monastic life, may be ordained priest in a year's time; but he must not be illiterate ; he, who cannot read, can only be a door-keeper. All laymen that shall be ordained shall have six months probation; and cannot be admitted priests till after eighteen months. Bishops are forbidden to receive, much less to promote, such clergymen as pass from one church to another." Death of Gelasius I himself seems to have been an ornament to Christianity. He died in the year 496. He composed a treatise against some Romans, who had a desire to re-establish the ancient superstition of the Lupercalia J. " I forbid, says he, any Christian to practise these superstitions: leave them to heathens.
• Fleury, B. xxx. Sec. 34. t Fleury, B. xxx. 41.
J Gibbon, in vol. iii. c. xxxvi. Decline, &c. is pleased to accuse Gelasius of absurd prejudice, because he supposed those who were for still preserving the festival of the Lupercalia to be only nominal Christians. After having told the less learned reader, that this festival was an ancient piece of idolatry, in honour of the idol god Pan ; that young men, and even magistrates ran naked through the streets; that they—modesty forbids me further to explain the indecencies of the ceremonies; suffice it to say, that the whole was calculated to encourage libidinous vices—I would ask such a writer, whether those, who were for still preserving this abomination, could be any more than nominal Christians; whether he knows any evil more severely and
Gelasius, A. D. 496.
I think it my daty to declare to Christians, that they Cent are fatal. I doubt not but my predecessors solicited . v. > the emperors to abolish this abuse; they were not heard, and this ruined the empire."—It appears hence how slowly and stubbornly the old idolatries departed out of Christendom. The testimony of Gelasius deserves our attention, because his manners were holy. He was incessantly employed in prayer, reading, writing, or business, and in conversation on spiritual things with godly men. Idleness- and luxury were equally avoided by him ; negligence in a bishop he esteemed dangerous to souls ; and his liberality to the poor was unbounded. To all this, it may not be quite insignificant to add, that he composed hymns after the manner of Ambrose.
About the year 496, Clovis, king of the Franks, ciorii was baptized, and received into the general church. baPtlzcd He himself, perfidious, ambitious, and cruel, was A* no honour to any religious denomination. But ^" some remarkable circumstances of Providence at* tended his reception of Christianity; which will therefore deserve a place in these memoirs. The Franks, or French, were a German nation known long before; who dwelt about the lower Rhine. Having passed this river, they entered into Gaul, under the conduct of Pharamond, their first king, A D about the year 420. Clodio, Merovaeus, Childeric, ^2o and Clovis, reigned in succession after him. Like the rest of the barbarous nations, who desolated the lower empire, they still advanced gradually in conquests, and Clovis ruined the Roman power entirely in Gaul. But he had to contend with other barbarous invaders, all of whom, however, he subdued at length, and by much carnage and violence he became the founder of the French monarchy.
rnore constantly condemned in Scripture than idolatry ; and, lastly, whether the expression "harmless festival," (it is Gibbon's) does not fasten on him, who uses it, the charge of impudence, or ignorance of Scripture, or makvolence against the word of God.
Chap. Wicked as he was, he was fitted to become an *r- , useful instrument of Providence, like Henry VIII. of England, many ages after. He had married Clotilda, niece of Gondebaud, king of the Burgundians; she was zealous for the doctrine of the Trinity, though both her uncle and the whole nation of the Burgundians professed Arianism. Could her private history be known, it would probably be instructive and edifying. For what else could induce a royal lady, brought up among heretics, and given in marriage to a powerful Pagan, to persevere alone so firmly in the apostolical faith, but the grace of God and the effectual operation of his Spirit, in an age when divine truth had scarce a single patron of great power in Europe*?"
Having a son by her husband Clovis, she endeavoured to persuade him, to permit the child to be baptized, and earnestly reasoned with him on the vanity of his idols, and preached Christianity to him with much sincerity. Clovis, who, it seems, had great affection for his queen, consented at length to file baptism of the infant; but he died a few days after. Clovis in a rage declared, " I have lost my child, because he has been devoted to )'our deities; had he been devoted to mine, he would have lived." The pious queen answered, " I thank God, who has thought me worthy to bear a child, whom he has called into his kingdom." She had afterwards another son, who was baptized by the name of Clodomer. On his falling sick, the king said, " Yes, I see he will die like his brother, because he has been baptized in the name of your Christ." The mother prayed for his recovery, and the child was restored to health. Clotilda persevering in her exhortations, Clovis heard them, patient, but still inflexible. It pleased God at length to give him a striking lesson, from which he ought to have learned
* Greg. Tur. n. hist. c. xxvi.
the true art of happiness. Fighting with the Alemanni, he was upon the point of being entirely defeated. Finding himself in the utmost danger, he lifted up his eyes to heaven with tears, and said, " 0 Jesus Christ, whom Clotilda affirms to be the Son of the living God, I implore thy aid. If thou givest me victory, I will believe and be baptized ; for I have called upon my own gods in vain." While he was speaking, the Alemanni turned their backs, and began to flee, and at length submitted and craved quarter.
Penetrated with a sense of Divine goodness, as many wicked men have been for a time, Clovis submitted to the instructions of Remi, bishop of Rheims, whom the queen sent to teach him. The chief difficulty he started was, that his people would not follow him in his change of religion. This was obviated by the facility with which they received Remi's lessons. What the lessons were, and what exercises of mind and conscience attended the change, we know not; the external circumstances and forms alone we are informed of, and they are not very instructive. The king himself was baptized at Rheims, and so was his sister, and three thousand of his army. He was at that time the only prince who professed orthodox Christianity. Anastasius, the Eastern emperor, favoured heresy ; the rest of the European princes were Arians. Thus a woman was employed as the instrument of achange in her husband ; it is true the change was only nominal, but it was followed by very signal effects in Europe, namely, by the recovery of the apostolical faith, and no doubt by the happy conversion of many
individuals. - Gontamond
In the year 494, Gontamond, the Vandal, still cTM„^ increasing his kindness to the church, opened all the A. Dt places of public worship, after they had been shut 404. ten years and a half, and, at the desire of Eugenius,
recalled all the other bishops. He died in the year 496, and was succeeded by his brother Thrasamond.
AND here I finish the general history of the West, for this century. Much, both of Divine providence and of Divine grace, appears in it. Superstition had grown gradually in this and the former century. Relics, and various other instruments of the same class, were fast advancing into reputation. The monastic solitudes were strongly calculated to augment these evils: and, in the writings of various pious persons, the unguarded and very injudicious addresses to martyrs, which occur frequently, and which were rather rhetorical flights than real prayers, countenanced exceedingly the growing spirit of apostasy. Every new ceremony, while men were in this frame, strengthened the superstitious spirit, and rendered them less disposed to depend on the Saviour, that is, as the apostle says, To Hold The Head*, in the faith and love of the Gospel. Had it not been for the great and solid revival of the doctrine of grace in this century, the wholesome effects of which continued all along in the West Christianity itself, humanly speaking, would have been in danger of total extinction. The intelligent reader will admire the providential and gracious goodness of the Lord, in preparing, furnishing, and giving success to the important labours of Augustine, through which so many in Africa were enabled to glorify their Saviour by faithfulness to death, under a severe persecution. The despised, desolated church, at once overborne by heretics, and by barbarous Pagans, still lived in Italy, Spain, France, and Britain, to the end of the century, when Providence raised up a Clovis to support that, of which he himself, however, * Colo»s. ii. 19.
knew not the value. We leave the church in Italy Cent.
and Spain, only tolerated, but mildly treated, par- V
ticularly in the former; in Britain, confined to the mountains of Wales and Cornwall; in France, ready to rise again into eminence; and in Africa, just recovered from a dreadful scourge, in which she had gloriously suffered. The changes of a secular kind, though very great in all this period, and alone moving the hearts of worldly men, could not destroy the Church, whose root is not in the world. The patience of the godly was exercised by them, the sins of the Church were scourged, and the Gospel was communicated to Barbarians. The general current of corrupt doctrine was strongly set in : idolatry was too deeply rooted in men's hearts, to be eradicated from any, except those who were Christians indeed, and we shall ere long see it established in the formality of public worship. Nothing, however, had hitherto happened, but what had been predicted. The persecutions of the Church *, the short interval of peace f, and the desolations of the empire which succeeded had all been revealed to St. John. And it may deserve to be remarked, that even amidst all this degeneracy and decay, whoever choosesto compare Christian emperorsor priests with Pagans in similar situations, will find a great superiority of character in the former. The meliorating of the condition of slaves, the abolition of tortures, and of other cruel or obscene customs, the institution of various plans for the relief of the poor, and the general improvement of the order of society, are to be attributed in a great measure to the benevolent influence and operation of the Christian religion.
* Rev. vi. + lb. viii. 1. % Ih. viii.