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Century IX, Chapter III

CHAP. III.

The Opposition made to the Corruptions of Popery in this Century, particularly by Claudius, Bishop of Turin.

We have seen the light of divine truth shedding its kindly influence in the east: let us now behold the reviving power of its beams in the west. We must not expect to observe it generally illuminating either of those two great divisions of the christian world, but only shining in some particular districts. The absolute power of the pope, the worship of images, and the invocation of saints and angels were opposed, as in the last century, by several princes and ecclesiastics. A council at Paris, held in the year 824, agreed with the council of Frankfort in the rejection of the decrees of the second council of Nice, and in the prohibition of image worship. Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, wrote a book against the abuse of pictures and images; in which he maintained, that we ought not to worship any image of God, except that, which is God himself, his eternal Son; and, that there is no other mediator between God and man, except Jesus Christ, both God and man. I have already observed, that the novel notion of transubstantiation was vigorously opposed by Rabanus and Scotus Erigena, the two most learned men of the west in this century; nor was that

• Natalis Alexander, a voluminous French historian, and more vehemenUy attached to the popedom, than Frenchmen commonly arc, couples Uie paulicians and also Claudius or' Turin, of whom the reader will hear in the next chapter, with wickliftites, lutherans, and calvinists. He brands them as enemies to the adoration of the cross of Christ, which, he savs. the true church always adored, " not only the genuine cross, but an effigy of it, as soon as the church obtained liberty under christian princes." Tom. v. p. 636—638. This deserves to be considered as the testimony of a teamed adversary to the evangelical character of the paulicians, and of Claudius of Turin.

doctrine, as yet, established in the kingdom of antichrist. Radanus treats it as an upstart opinion: it may be proper to add, that Bertram, a monk of Corbie, being- asked whether the same body, which was crucified, was received in the mouth of the faithful in the sacrament, answered, that " the difference is as great as between the pledge, and the thing for which the pledge is delivered; as great as between the representation and the reality." No protestant, at this day, could speak more explicitly the sense of the primitive church. In Italy itself, Angilbertus, bishop of Milan, refused to own the pope's supremacy, nor did the church of Milan submit to the Roman see till two hundred years afterwards.*

But these a~e only distant and remote evidences, that God had not forsaken his church in Europe. There want not, however, more evident demonstrations of the same thing' in the life and writings of Claudius, bishop of Turin, a character worthy to be held in high estimation by all, who fear God: but so little justice, in our times, is done to godliness, that while the names of statesmen, heroes, and philosophers are in every one's mouth, the name of this great reformer has, probably, been not so much as heard of, by the generality of my readers. To me he seems to stand the first in the order of time among the reformers. Let us collect the little information concerning him, which we have been able to obtain. *

Claudius was born in Spain. In his early years he was a chaplain in the court of Lewis the Meek: he wa's reputed to have great knowledge in the scriptures; f in so much, that Lewis perceiving the ignorance of a great part of Italy, in regard to the doctrines of the gospel, says Fleury, and willing to provide the

• I have thus far, in this chapter, availed myself of the labours of bishop Newton on the prophecies, 3d vol. 151, &c. In the sequel of the chapter, I make use of the remarks of Allix on the churches of Piedmont, of the centuriators, and of Fleury, though a Roman catholic.

f Fleury, vol. v. b. 47. In this and some other matters, the testimony of a Roman catholic to the character of the first protestant reformer, is of great weight.

churches of Piedmont with one, who might stem the growing torrent of image worship, promoted Claudius to the see of Turin, about the year 817. Claudius answered the expectations of the emperor: by his writings, he copiously expounded the scriptures: by his preaching, he laboriously instructed the people; " in truth," says Fleury, " he began to preach and instruct with great application." The calumnies, witii which his principles were aspersed, are abundantly confuted by his commentaries on various parts of the old and new testament, still extant in manuscripts, in various French libraries. A comment on the epistle to the Galatians, is his only work which was committed to the press. In it he every where asserts the equality of all the apostles with St. Peter. And, indeed, he always owns Jesus Christ to be the only proper head of the church. He is severe against the doctrine of human merits, and of the exaltation of traditions to a height of credibility equal to that of the divine word. He maintains that we are to be saved by faith alone; holds the fallibility of the church, exposes the futility of praying for the dead, and the sinfulness of the idolatrous practices then supported by the Roman see. Such are the sentiments found in his commentary on the epistle to the Galatians.

In his commentary on St. Matthew, besides an explication of the sacrament, very different from that of Paschasius, who defended transubstantiation, about sixteen years after, wc meet with some pious sentiments worth transcribing. The words, " I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, till that day that I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom," he paraphrases thus: " No longer will I delight in the carnal ceremonies of the synagogue, among which the paschal lamb was most distinguished; for the time of my resurrection is at hand; that day will come, when, placed in the kingdom of God, exalted to the glory of immortal life, I shall be filled with a new joy, together with you, on account of the salvation of the people born again from the fountain of the same spiritual grace. What else does he mean by new wine, but the immortality of renewed bodies? By saying " with you," he promises them., the resurrection of their bodies, that they might put on immortality. The expression, " with you," must not be referred to the same time, but to the same event of the renewal of the body. The apostle declares that we are risen with Christ, that by the expectation of the future he might bring present joy."*

In the end of his commentary on Leviticus, dedicated to the abbot Theodemir, he writes some things, which may exhibit and illustrate his cares and labours in the support of real godliness.

" The beauty of the eternal truth and wisdom, (God grant I may always have a constant will to enjoy her, for the love of whom I have undertaken this work!) doth not exclude those who come to her: she is near to all, who seek her from the ends of the earth: she instructs within, and converts those, who behold her. No man can judge of her; no man can judge well without her. We are not commanded to go to the creature, that we may be happy, but to the Creator, who alone can fill us with bliss. The will fastening itself on the unchangeable good, obtains happiness. But when the will separates itself from the unchangeable good, and seeks her own good exclusively, or directs herself to inferior or external good, she falls from God." These truths, conceived in the very taste of the bishop of Hippo, are followed by a long quotation from that father, which expressly forbids the worship of saints; the substance of which is thus expressed, " We must honour them, because they deserve to be imitated, not worship them with an act of religion. We envy not their bliss, because they enjoy God without molestation, but we love them the more, because we hope for something, correspondent to these their excellencies, from him, who is our God as

• This can hardly be allowed to be the whole of St. Paul's meaning:, in the expression '* risen with Christ;" nevertheless, the ideas oTClaudius are good, so far as he goes.

well as theirs." These things, says Claudius, are the strongest mysteries of our faith. In defending this truth, I am become a reproach to my neighbours; those, who see me, scoff at me, and point at me to one another. But the Father of mercies and the God of all consolations, has comforted me in my tribulation,* that I may be able to comfort others, that are oppressed with sorrow and affliction. I rely on the protection of Him, who has armed me with the armour of righteousness and of faith, the tried shield for my eternal salvation."

Complaints had, it seems, been made against Claudius, at the court of Lewis, for having broken down images through his diocese, and for having written against the worship of them. Being reproached by Theodemir for his conduct, Claudius wrote an apology, of which the following is an extract.f " Being obliged to accept the bishopric, when I came to Turin, I found all the churches full of abominations and images; and because I began to destroy what every one adored, every one began to open his mouth against me. They say, we do not believe, that there is any thing divine in the image; we only reverence it in honour of the person, whom it represents. I answer, if they, who have quitted the worship of devils, honour the images of saints, they have not forsaken idols, they have only changed the names. For whether you paint upon a wall the pictures of St. Peter or St. Paul, or those of Jupiter, Saturn, or Mercury, they are now neither gods, nor apostles, nor men. The name is changed, the error continues the same. If men must be adored, there would be less absurdity in adoring them when alive, while they are the image of God, than after they. are dead, when they only resemble stocks and stones. And if we are not allowed to adore the works of God, much less are we allowed to adore the works of men. If the cross of Christ ought to be adored, because he was nailed to it, for

the same reason we ought to adore mangers, because he was laid in one; and swaddling clothes, because he was wrapped in them." He goes on to mention other similar instances, and adds, " we have not been ordered to adore the cross, but to bear it, and to deny ourselves. As to your assertion, that I speak against the going to Rome by way of penance, it is not true; I neither approve nor disapprove such pilgrimages; to some they are not useful, to others they are not prejudicial. It is a great perversion of the words f' thou art Peter," &c. to infer from them, that eternal life is to be gained by a journey to Rome, and by the intercession of St. Peter. The apostolic, that is, the pope, is not he, who fills the see of the apostle, but he, who discharges its duties."

Such, says Fleury, were the errors of Claudius of Turin. He then tells us, that they were refuted by a recluse called Dungal. He gives us a few extracts from this writer, which it will be perfectly needless to recite; for, as Fleury owns, Dungal hardly makes use of any thing else but citations, and " in truth," continues he, " the main proofs in this matter have always been the tradition and constant usage of the church." In the judgment of men who determine controversies, which enter into the essence of christianity by the scriptures alone, the victory of Claudius in this dispute is decisive.

We are obliged, however, to Dungal, for the preservation of the extracts of the apology. In addition t» the argumentative parts, there are also some pathetic exhortations interspersed in the work, which show the ardor of the bishop's mind and the charitable zeal for divine truth and for the salvation of souls, with which he was endowed. I shall present the reader with a few sentences.* " All these things are ridiculous, rather worthy of lamentation than of grave discussion; but we are obliged to describe them, in opposition to fools, and to declaim against those hearts of stone, whom

the arrows and sentences of the divine word cannot pierce, and therefore we are under a necessity to assault them in this manner. Come to yourselves again, ye wretched transgressors: why are ye gone astray from truth, and are fallen in love with vanity? whv do you make souls, by troops, to become the associates of devils, by the horrible sacrilege of your idols, estranging them from their Creator, and precipitating them into everlasting damnation? Return, ye blind, to your light. Shall we not believe God, when he swears, that neither Noah, nor Daniel, nor Job* shall deliver son or daughter by their righteousness? For this end he makes the declaration, that none might put confidence in the intercession of saints. Ye fools who run to Rome, to seek there for the intercession of an apostle, when will ye be wise? What would saint Augustine say of you, whom we have so often quoted?"

If the works of this great and good man had been published as faithfully as those of his adversaries, I doubt not but he would appear to us in a much more sriking light than he can do from a few imperfect quotations. But his writings were either suppressed or secreted. The reign of idolatry had taken place, and the world worshipped The Beast. The labours, however, of Claudius, were not in vain: he checked the growing evil in his own diocese at least; and Romish writers have owned, that the valleys of Piedmont, which belonged to his bishopric, preserved his opinions in the ninth and tenth centuries. Whence it is probable, that the churches of the waldenses were either derived, or at least received much increase and confirmation from his labours.

If we look at the subject matter of this bishop's preaching and expositions, in an evangelical view, it will appear, that the controversy between him and his adversaries was, whether man shall be justified before

God BY JESUS CHRIST THROUGH FAITH ALONE, Or

whether he shall betake himself to Other Refuges

for the peace of his disquieted conscience. What those other refuges may be, will much depend on the customs and habits of the times in which u man lives. In an age, like our own, of great civilization and refinement, they will, chiefly, be acts of humanity and kindness to the needy: in an age of superstition, they will be ceremonial observances, and the whole apparatus of Will Worship.* Against the false reliefs of a burdened conscience, which the popedom exhibited, this first protestant reformer militated in much christian zeal, and pointed out to his hearers and his readers the mediation of Jesus Christ, as the sole and allsufficient object of dependence. With what success this was done among his people we have no account; but, doubtless, so great a light was not set up in vain; and could I recite the effects of his labours in Piedmont, the account would in all probability be both pleasing and profitable to evangelical minds. Let us see what farther discoveries we can make of his spirit and views from the extracts of his writings drawn from another of his adversaries.

Thisf was Jonas, Bishop Of Orleans. He wrote three books against Claudius, filled with invectives. He mentions, however, such reasonings made use of by his adversary, as it was not in his power to overturn, particularly the authority of the second commandment, on which hinge, indeed, the whole controversy turns, so far as it relates to the worship of images. In regard to pilgrimages to Rome, Claudius observes, that the greater part, in consequence of them, become worse men than they were before. In opposing the popedom, he observes, on account of those words of our Lord, " I will give to thee the keys, &c." ignorant men,-for the sake of obtaining eternal life, setting aside all spiritual understanding, will go to Rome." Hence we see, that the power of the popedom was much founded on the misguided consciences of men. Persons distressed, on account of their sins, naturally catch at every

- See Coloss. ii. f Centuriat Magd. cent. ix.

support, which offers them relief. And the true light of the gospel of peact no longer shining, they availed themselves of the delusory consolations offered by the pope, dom; and thus, at once, gained a false peace, hardened themselves in real wickedness, and supported the grandeur of antichrist. What a blessing is the real gospel! It both consoles and sanctifies the sinner, and removes the most powerful incitements to superstition. But, to proceed with the words of Claudius. " It is not said, " whatsoever thou shalt bind in heaven, shall be bound in earth." By this we should know, that the ministry of the bishops of the church, continues only, so long as they remain upon earth. After they have left this world, it ceases: St. Peter has no longer any influence in the government of the church militant; and those, who succeed in the vacant places, exercise the office, so long as they live indeed, but no longer."* From the year 823, Claudius wrote against the prevailing superstition, and lived to the year 839. That he was not put to death for confessing the real faith of Christ, seems to have been, under providence, owing to the protection of the French court. The cause, which he espoused, was still, in part, supported in the western churches; and the Roman hierarchy was pot yet able to establish idolatry in its full extent, and to punish all its opposers. It is proper to add, that even the adversaries of Claudius did not insist on the worship of images; they only asserted, that they were innocent and useful. So far were the decrees of the papacy from being owned as decisive, through Europe. At the same time, it must be confessed, that the middle path, which first had the sanction of Gregory, and was afterwards confirmed

* I have added a word or two explanatory of the meaning, which, on account of the imperfection of the quotation, is sufficiently embarrassed. I apprehend, he is inferring from the real words of our Lord, "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven," that St. Peter's episcopal acts terminated with his life; whereas, if it had been said, whatsoever thou shalt bind in heaven, shall be bound on earth, some countenance might seem to be given to the idea of the continuance of his power on earth, in the persons of his successors. Cent. Mag. Cent. ix. 118.

by the Carolin books and the council of Frankfort," naturally paved the way for the gradual establishment of idolatry.