•''.-'IMHv.. -:•.'•:• '
Authors and Eminent Persons in this Gentuni.
UN the subject of the propagation of the gospel scarce any thing occurs in this age. The godly spirit of missionaries, which had been the glory of the declining church, was by this time exhausted; so extensively had the papal corruptions prevailed. The only accession to the christian name in Europe seems to have been the conversion, as it is called, of the Prussians, Lithuanians, and some adjoining provinces. , Prussia was one of the last regions of the north, which bowed under the yoke of the popedom. The ignorance, brutality, and ferocity of the inhabitants were uncommonly great. The Teutonic knights, after they had lost their possession in Palestine, took the cross against the Prussians, and, after a long and bloody war, forced them to receive thenameof Christ; but I know no evidences of piety either in the missionaries or in the proselytes. The destruction, however, of the old idolatry, and the introduction of something of christianity, would eventually, at least, prove a blessing to this people.
Arsenius, bishop of Constantinople, will deserve a place in these memoirs. After that Constantinople was taken by the French and Venetians, the seat of the Greek empire had been transferred to Nice in Bithynia, of which metropolis, under the reign of Theodorus Lascaris, Arsenius was appointed bishop. He was renowned for piety and simplicity, and had lived a monastic life near Appollonia. Theodorus* a little before his death, constituted him one of the guardians of his son John, an infant in the sixth year of his age. But the integrity and virtue of the bishop were no security against the ambition and perfidy of the times. Michael Palzeologus usurped the sovereignty; and Arsenius at length, with reluctance, overpowered by the influence of the nobility, consented to place the diadem on his head, with this express condition, that he should resign the empire to the royal infant when he should come to maturity.
* Rev. ix.—Newton, 3 vol Prophecies, page 116.
Arsenius, after he had made this concession, had the mortification to find his pupil treated with perfect disregard; and probably repenting of what he had done, he retired from his see to a monastery. Sometime after, by a sudden revolution, Palseologus recovered Constantinople from the Latins; but, amidst all his successes, he found it necessary to his reputation to recal the bishop, and he fixed him in the metropolitan see. So great was the ascendency of the character of a virtuous prelate over the politics of an unprincipled usurper, though covered with secular glory! Palaeologus, however, still dreaded the youth whom he had so deeply injured, and to prevent him from recovering the throne, he had recourse to the barbarous policy of putting out his eyes. Arsenius hearing this, excommunicated the emperor, who then made some pretences of repentance. But the bishop refused to admit him into the church; and Palseologus had the baseness to accuse him of certain crimes before an assembly of priests. Arsenius was convened before the venal assembly, condemned and banished to a small island of the Propontis. But, conscious of his integrity, he bore his sufferings with serenity and composure; and requesting that an account might be taken of the treasures of the church, he showed that three pieces of gold which he had earned by transcribing psalms, were the whole of his proper
ty. This same emperor, who had the meanness, by false accusation, to expel Arsenius from his see, still confessed, how much wickedness stands in awe of virtue, by soliciting him to repeal his ecclesiastical censures. The deprived prelate, however, who never had been fond of sacerdotal dignity, remained content with his obscurity, and, to his last breath, refused the request of the usurper, who still retained the wages of his iniquity.*
Gibbon relates this story with no material variation from the account which I have given. But in his usual manner he ridicules and scoffs at the virtuous patriarch, and ascribes his professions of disinterestedness to sullenness and vainglory. How must an ecclesiastic conduct himself in order to procure the approbation of this historian? If the christian hero before us (for he seems to have truly feared God) had flattered and gratified the usurper in all his desires and demands, we should then have heard of his hypocrisy and ambition. Now that he voluntarily descends from a state of grandeur to poverty, disgrace, and exile, for the sake of a good conscience, he must be suspected of sullenness and pride. But by their fruits men are to be known; and by them, so far as they appear in this case, we may form a judgment of Arsenius, of Palaeologus, and of Gibbon.
We have given an instance of a bishop, in the east, who feared God. Let us now behold a similar instance of uprightness in a bishop of the west. John Scot, bishop of Dunkeld, died in the year 1202. He was an. Englishman, who had been archdeacon of St. Andrews, and thence was preferred to this see.f The man was conspicuous in that corrupt age for pastoral vigilance and a conscientious conduct. The county of Argyle was part of his diocese, and in that county the people understood only the Irish tongue. Scot, unwilling to receive emoluments from a people whose souls he could not edify, wrote to pope Clement III. desiring him to constitute Argyle a separate see, and to confer the bishopric on Evaldus his chaplain, who was well qualified for the purpose, and could speak Irish. " How, says he, can I give a comfortable account to the Judge of the world at the last day, if I pretend to teach those who cannot understand me"? The revenues suffice for two bishops if we are content with a competency, and. are not prodigal of the patrimony of Christ. It is better to lessen the charge, and increase the number of labourers in the Lord's vineyard." His whole request was granted, but the erection appears not to have been made till the year 1200. Clement the third died in 1191. Sentiments such as these, would have done honour to the purest ages. It seemed worth while to give some illustration to the opinion of the waldenses, " who professed that there were pious men, who lived in Babylon;" and John Scot deserves to be regarded as a practical teacher of bishops and pastors in all ages.
* Cent. Magd. 461. Nlcephones. f Collier, vol. i. page 411.
Great Britain furnishes us with a similar instance. Seval, archbishop of York, wrote to pope Alexander IV. against his violent and oppressive conduct, and exhorted him to follow Peter; to feed, not to devour the sheep of Christ. The particular occasion of this letter was, that the pope had intruded a person named Jordan into the deanery of York. * The courage and integrity of Seval enraged the pope, who, on some pretence, excommunicated him: he still however persisted, and withstood the intrusion of unworthy clergymen. The romanists harassed him with their utmost malevolence; but he was honoured by the people. He died in 1258, in the fourth year of his archbishopric, of which he seems to have kept possession till his decease.
Henry of Gaunt, archdeacon of Tournay, called "the famous teacher," wrote against ecclesiastical abuses: he maintained that a prelate was subject to law, was no lord, and that evil became not good, because the pope commanded or permitted it.f
• Cent. Magd. xiii. page 550. f Collier.
William de St. Amour, doctor of the Sorbonne, and professor of divinity in the uersity of Paris, was one of the greatest ornaments of christianity, which appeared in the Roman communion in this century. He had his name from St. Amour in Franche Compte, the place of his nativity. The mendicant orders seldom met with a more vigorous and able adversary. The dominicans in particular seemed desirous to engross all the power and influence of the uersity to themselves, while the doctors, resisting their unjust encroachments, excluded them from their society. In the year 1255 the debate was brought before pope Alexander IV. who, with intolerable arrogance, ordered the uersity not only to restore the dominicans to their former station, but also to grant them as many professorships as they should require.* Thus the friars not only intruded themselves into the dioceses and churches of the bishops and clergy, and, by the sale of indulgences and a variety of scandalous exactions, perverted whatever of good order and discipline remained in the church, but also began to domineer over the seminaries of learning. And in all this, as the pope was the principal leader, a despotism of the very worst nature was growing stronger and stronger in christendom. The doctors of the uersity of Paris now loudly joined in the cry of the secular clergy against the invasions of the mendicants; and indeed the papal power at this time ruled with absolute dominion. No pastor of a church could maintain any due authority over the laity, if a franciscan or dominican appeared in his parish to sell indulgences, and to receive confessions; and the most learned body of men at that time in Europe, were now subject to the government of those agents of popedom. The magistrates of Paris, at first, were disposed to protect the uersity, but the terror of the papal edicts reduced them at length to silence; and not only the do
* In this brief account of St. Amour, I have endeavoured to give the substance of the information contained in the Centuriators, in Du Pin, Mosheim, and Fox the martyrologist
Vol. IV. 6
minicans, but also the franciscans assumed whatever power they pleased in that famous seminary, and knew no other restrictions except what the Roman tyrant imposed upon them.
The genius and spirit of St. Amour were remarkably distinguished in this controversy. He wrote several treatises against the mendicant orders, and particularly a book published in the year 1255, concerning the perils of the latter days. Persuaded as he was that St. Paul's prophecy of the latter times* was fulfilling in the abominations of the friars, he laid down thirty nine marks of false teachers. He might have reduced them to a much smaller number; for, unavoidably, many of his marks will involve and imply one another. He exposes, however, with much discernment and perspicuity, the selfishness, hypocrisy, flattery, and sordid artifices of the friars: he particularly inveighs against their intrusion into the folds of other pastors, and their attempts to alienate the affections of the flock from their lawful teachers. An unworthy practice too common even in the best times of the church! and which, from the love of novelty and the instability so natural to mankind, has ever found but too much encouragement! St. Amour takes notice of this sort of opposition, which St. Paul met with at Corinth, and shows that it is the mark of a true pastor, not to be fond of building on another man's foundation, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.f This was to strike directly at the particular practices of the mendicants; who were also remarkably active in engaging the laity to enrich their orders, and omitted no methods to amplify their possessions. St. Amour, with a discernment remarkably keen for these times, explains our Saviour's precepts concerning the selling of what a man has, and the giving of it to the poor, showing that the inward affection, and practical preference in all cases of competition, are the things, which Christ meant to inculcate, not the literally parting with all our property, of which generosity hypocrites boasted so much.
* 2 Tim. iii. 1. f 2 Cor. x. 16.
A few years before the unrighteous decision of the pope in favour of the friars, a fanatical book, under the title of " Introduction to the Everlasting Gospel," was published by a franciscan, which, by exalting Francis above Jesus Christ, and arrogating to his order the glory of reforming mankind by a new gospel substituted in the room of that of Christ, attempted to exalt that mendicant tribe to the height of divine estimation in the eyes of mankind. The uersal ferment excited by this impious book, obliged Alexander IV. to suppress it in the year 1255, and he ordered it to be burnt in secret, willing to spare the reputation of the mendicants. But the uersity of Paris, which, in the same year, received that grievous injury from the pontiff which has been mentioned, insisted upon a public condemnation of the book, and Alexander, mighty as he was in power, was constrained, for once, to give way to the feelings of mankind; and he publicly committed the franciscan's performance to the flames. The next year, however, he revenged himself on St. Amour, by ordering his book, on the perils of the latter days, to be also committed to the flames, and by banishing him out of France. The persecuted champion retired into Franche Compte, the place of his birth; but, under the pontificate of Clement IV. he returned to the metropolis, wrote against the abuses of popery with persevering ardour, and died esteemed and regretted by all in the Roman church, who retained any regard for christian truth and piety. This seems the substance of all that is known concerning this extraordinary personage, who only wanted a more favourable soil, in which he might bring to maturity the fruits of those protestant principles, the seeds of which he nourished in his breast. John* de Poliaco, a disciple of St. Amour, trode in the steps of his master, and insisted on the rights ot the parochial clergy to hear the confessions of the laity, and condemned the general license of discharging that function which the pope gave to the mendicant orders. Both parties seem involved in the superstition of auricular confession; but the mendicants evidently transgressed the bounds of justice. It may, perhaps, be doubted what was the real character of John: this, however, is certain, he was condemned by papal authority in the year 1277.
* M»gd. cent. 13
Francis of Assisium, founder of the minor friars, was doubtless an extraordinary character. He was born at Assisium in the ecclesiastical state, and was disinherited by his father, who was disgusted at his enthusiasm. In 1209* he founded his order, which was but too successful in the world. His practices of devotion were monstrous, and he seems ever to have been the prey of a whimsical imagination. Pride and deceit are not uncommonly connected with a temper like his, and he gave a memorable instance of both. It is certain that he was impressed with five wounds on his body, resembling the wounds of Christ crucified. It is certain also, that he pretended to have received the impression as a miraculous favour from heaven. To describe the particulars of such a story would be to descend beneath the dignity of history. Let it suffice to have mentioned in general what is authentic, whence the reader may form some notion of the truth of St.Paul'sprediction concerning theman whose, coming was to be after the working of Satan with lying wonders. f The papacy indeed was full of such figments at this time. Francis sought for glory among men, by his follies and absurdities, and he found the genius of the age so adapted to his own, that he gained immense admiration and applause. He died in 1226, in the forty fifth year of his age.J Posterity saw his order splendid in secular greatness, though under
* Alban Butler. f 2 Thess. ii. 9. t Alban Butler, vol. x.—Cave, vol. i. page 704.
these principles paternosters were counted by the studs of the belts; and Peter the hermit, famous for promoting the first crusades, instructed the illiterate laity to say a number of paternosters and ave marysin lieu of each canonical hour of the church offices. And thus, I imagine, he attempted to qualify his enthusiastic crusaders for the kingdom of heaven. But to Dominic the glory of completing this scheme of MeChanical-devotion belongs. He directed men to recite fifteen decads of Hail Mary, &c. and one paternoster before each decad. Thus men were taught to repeat a hundred and fifty times the angel's salutation of the virgin, interlarded with a number of paternosters, and to believe that this practice would be as acceptable as the recital of the hundred and fifty psalms. I suppose very zealous devotees would go through all this work at one time; perhaps others, less laborious, might perform it at successive intervals. But is this the spirit of Grace And Supplication* promised to the christian church? Is this the spirit of adoption, whereby men cry Abba Father? What is it but the spirit of bondage and miserable superstition, the religion of the lips, a selfrighteous drudgery of so much devotional work, with a view to purchase the remission of sins, and to ease the consciences of men who lived without either understanding the doctrines, or practising the precepts of scripture? Observe hence, with how much propriety the waldenses, as we have seen, taught men the true nature of prayer; and, what a dreadful vacuum of all true piety was now the portion of nominal christians, who had departed from the grace of Christ Jesus!
So powerful, however, is the genuine operation of the divine Spirit, that it can purify a humble soul by faith in Christ, and exhibit a brief assemblage of christian virtues, even in the gulf of superstition. This seems to have been the case with a great personage of this century, whose character deserves particular illustration. This was Lewis IX. commonly" called St. Lewis, the son of Lewis VIII. who invaded England in the reign of king John. His mother Blanche brought him up with much religious care.* " I love you, my son, said she, with all the tenderness of which a mother is capable; but I would infinitely rather see you fall dead at my feet, than that you should commit a mortal sin." Lewis felt the daily impression of this thought on his mind. In his minority Blanche completed the reduction of the Albigenses, a dreadful work, which has already engaged our painful attention. How far Blanche herself might be imposed on by the slanders so copiously poured on the supposed heretics, it is not easy to say. As to Lewis, however, a minor, it may fairly be presumed, that he understood not the merits of the cause. As he grew up, his devotional spirit appeared consistently strong and equally fervent. He often invited men of a religious character to his table; and, when some objected to him, that he spent too much time at his devotions, he answered, " if that time were spent in hunting and gaming, I should not be so rigorously called to account for the employment of my vacant hours." He lived a life of selfdenial: he banished from the court all diversions prejudicial to morals. No man who broke the rules of decorum in conversation, could find admission into his presence. He frequently retired for the purpose of secret prayer. So comprehensive were the powers of his understanding, and so well qualified was he to excel in a variety of employments, that he personally administered justice to his subjects, with the greatest attention and impartiality. The effect was long remembered after his decease; and those who were dissatisfied with the judicial processes of their own times, with a sigh expressed a wish that justice might be administered as in the days of St. Lewis. Those who were guilty of blasphemy, were, by his own.order, marked on the
* Zech. xii. 10.
* Alban Butler, vol. viii.
lips, some say on the forehead, with a hot iron. A rich citizen of Paris was punished in this manner; and Lewis silenced the complaints of those who murmured at his severity, by observing, that he would rather suffer punishment himself, than omit to inflict it on transgressors.
Uprightness and integrity have seldom more strongly marked the character of any prince, than they did that of Lewis. He suffered not the nobles to oppress their vassals; and the exercise of sovereign power was, in his hands, a blessing to mankind. A nobleman had hanged three children for hunting rabbits: Lewis having investigated the fact, condemned him to capital punishment: a rare instance of the love of justice breaking through the forms of aristocratical oppression, which at that time domineered through Europe! It was not to be supposed that the feudal lords would, without emotion, hear of a sentence so uncommon, pronounced on an offender of such rank. They earnestly interceded for the nobleman's life; and Lewis was so far prevailed on by the maxims of the times, as to spare the offender's life; but he deprived him of the greatest part of his estate.
Truth and sincerity seem to have pervaded the'soul of Lewis. In all treaties and negotiations he was conscientiously exact; and foreign states frequently referred matters of dispute to his arbitration. In him it appeared that wisdom and truth, sound policy and christian sincerity, are not at variance in the nature of things. And whatever disadvantages he might seem to undergo by a generous and disinterested conduct, he found them to be amply compensated by the respect and veneration attached to his character, and the confidence reposed in his justice by all mankind.
With great pleasure I dwell a little on a character, so singularly excellent. An elegant historian* observes, that " he united to the mean and abject superstition of a monk, the magnanimity of the hero, the in
* Hum*, vol. ii. page 190.
tegrity of the patriot, and the humanity of the philosopher. " So cautiously does he abstain from praising Christianity, even while he gives a warm encomiumto a most upright christian! All the notice which he deigns to give of his religious principles, is an insinuation, that they were mere monasticism. I confess the superstition of the times had deeply tinctured Lewis; and it is to be regretted, that his eminent station gave him not that access to the protestants of his own dominions, who at that time adorned the real gospel of Christ, which might, under God, have emancipated his soul from papal bondage, and enabled him to shine with a salutary light among the very best christian princes. Disadvantageously situated as he was, he could only acquire and maintain the spirit of a christian for himself: the whole tenor of his life demonstrated the sincerity of his christian faith and love: but, enslaved by papal domination, he could not emancipate his subjects. It is certain, however, that mere superstition could never have exhibited so steady and consistent a piety as that of Lewis; and it seems no less so, that mere philosophy, in whatever sense we may suppose the historian to have used that vague and ill defined term, was equally incompetent to produce such a character as that of this prince. It was the christian, the man of faith, of humility, and of prayer, which exhibited the personage before us. Let us attend a little to the Fruits Of The Spirit, which sprang from christian principles in this monarch; for the course of our history gives us very seldom an opportunity of illustrating the power of the gospel in national and political transactions.
The weak and distracted government of our king Henry III. gave to Lewis frequent occasions of exercising that secular chicane, and that spirit of artful intrigue, in which mere statesmen abound. The English were divided among themselves, and Henry held the balance of power among them with a tremulous hand. But Lewis took no advantage of their divisions, nor attempted to expel them from their provinces, which they still held, in France. John, the father of Henry, had by a sentence of attainder, seconded by the arms of Philip Augustus, the grandfather of Lewis, been deprived of Normandy, and some other provinces in France. Lewis had scruples of conscience, which affected his mind, in regard to the detention of those provinces which had fallen to him by way of inheritance. He even expressed some intention of restoring them, and was onh/ prevented by reflecting on the justice of punishing John as a felon and a murderer, who had barbarously slain his nephew prince Arthur. He never interposed in English affairs, but with an intention to compose the differences between the king and his nobility; he recommended every healing measure to both parties; and he exerted himself with all his might to bring to a sense of his duty the earl of Leicester, that same enterprising rebel, who, after a series of splendid crimes, was at last defeated and slain by Edward prince of Wales, the son of king Henry. He made a treaty with England, at a time when the affairs of the kingdom were at the lowest ebb: but he took no advantage of his own superior situation in the terms of the treaty. He made some liberal concessions: he insured to Henry the peaceable possession of Guienne; and only required him to cede Normandy and his other provinces, which he had no prospect of ever regaining. Afterwards, when by a rare instance of confidence, the king of England and his barons agreed to refer the settlement of their differences to Lewis, that equitable monarch decided in a manner which showed his equal regard to the prerogatives of the crown, and the rights of the people.
In his days, Gingis Kan, the Tartar, threatened to deluge Europe by his victorious arms. The consternation was general; but Lewis, said to his mother, " what have we to fear? we shall either live conquerors, or die martyrs."
The spirit of the crusades was adapted to the suT perstitious habits of Lewis, and he fell into the snare. From this quarter alone, he, who in other respects was the father and friend of his people, was unhappily led into a conduct prejudicial to society. Having been brought to the brink of the grave by an illness in 1244, when he was beginning to recover he took the vow of the cross; and, as soon as he was able, raised an army and made an expedition into the holy land. Before his departure, he took care to make large restitution for injuries inadvertently committed throughout the kingdom: he took the most exact care of the morals of his soldiers, so far as he had opportunity and ability; and, in the whole course of his military measures, avoided the unnecessary effusion of blood by saving the life of every infidel whom he could take prisoner. It is a deplorable instance of the power of the " god of this world"* over our fallen race, that a monarch of so much good sense, and of so great virtue and piety, could yet be engaged in a cause so imprudent and chimerical. Good men, however, will act a consistent part, even where they are evidently mistaken in their object. Lewis was still the same man; and the fear of God was his predominant principle of action. Let civil history relate his military prowess, the efforts of his prodigious valour, and the series of his calamities. When he was taken prisoner by the Saracens, and was menaced with death, he behaved with his usual fortitude and concern for his soldiers. At length being ransomed, he visited Palestine. Hearing of the death of his mother Blanche, he discovered much filial tenderness on the occasion. As he returned to Europe after a disastrous expedition, three sermons were preached every week on board his ship; and the sailors and soldiers were catechized and instructed, Lewis bearing a part in all the religious offices. He returned to Paris after an absence of almost six years. Here he was visited by our Henry VII. to whom he said, " I think myself more happy, that God hath given me patience in suf
* 2 Cor. iv. 4.
fering, than if I had conquered the world." We are told that many Saracens, induced by his piety, received christian baptism; and that he sent two monks to preach to the Tartars; but the vices of christians were so flagrant, as to defeat all these good intentions.
Devoted as Lewis was to the popedom, he could not but see the enormous ecclesiastical abuses, which at that time prevailed. He, therefore, made laws against papal encroachments and against simony; and prohibited the rapines of the roman pontiff by an edict, in which he expresses himself to this effect; " the exactions and heavy impositions of money, imposed on our kingdom by the court of Rome, through which our territories are miserably impoverished, we will not suffer to be collected."* Words were no empty sounds with a prince of his steadiness and fortitude; and, by the vigor and wisdom of his administration, France seems to have been much exempted from that intolerable oppression of the Roman tyrant, under which England at that time groaned. But Lewis undertoook a second crusade, laid siege to Tunis, on the coast of Africa, and died before that city. On the approach of death, he gave very salutary advice to Philip his eldest son. "Avoid wars," says he, " with christians, and spare the innocent subjects of your enemy. Discountenance blasphemy, games of chance, drunkenness, and impurity. Lay no heavy burdens on your subjects. I pray our Lord Jesus Christ to strengthen you in his service, and always to increase his grace in you; and I beg that we may together see, praise and honour him to eternity. Suffer patiently; being persuaded that you deserve much more punishment for your sins; and then tribulation will be your gain. Love and converse with the godly: banish the vicious from your company: delight to hear profitable sermons: wherever you are, permit none, in your presence, to deal in slanderous or indecent Conversation. Hear the poor with patience : and, where your own interest is concerned, stand for your adversary against yourseslf, till the truth appear." As Lewis grew more feeble, he desired no mention whatever to be made to him of temporal things, and scarce spake at all, except to his confessor. He prayed with tears for the conversion of infidels and sinners; and besought God, that his army might have a safe retreat, lest through weakness of the flesh, they should deny Christ. He repeated aloud, " Lord, I will enter into thine house; I will worship in thy holy temple, and give glory to thy name. Into thine hands I commend my spirit." These were his last words; and he breathed out his soul in the year 1270, aged fifty five years. In better times, and with clearer evangelical light, what might not have been expected from, such a character? We have seen the most abject superstition combined with the most dignified uprightness. We have seen Christianity degenerated indeed, and disgraced with superstition, but still amiable and fruitful in good works; and in such good works, as no man of mere secular wisdom could ever pretend to. The name and fundamental truths of Jesus, to a mind like his, humble and contrite through divine influence, exhibited a rare assemblage of virtues. And one may ask the most bigoted admirer of modern French philosophy and republicanism, to show a single person, who has taken an active part in the late revolutions of that infatuated nation, that can at all be compared to Lewis IX. in sincerity, philanthropy, and modesty.
* Cent, Magd. xiii. 329.
This century saw also a pope, who will deserve to be commemorated in the annals of the church of Christ. Peter Celestine was* born in Apulia, about the year 1221, and lived as an hermit in a little cell. He was admitted into holy orders; but after that, he lived five years in a cave on Mount Morroni near Sulmona. He was molested with internal temptations,
* Butler, vol. v.
which his confessor told him were a stratagem of the enemy, that would not hurt him, if he despised it. He founded a monastery at Mount Morroni, in 1274. The see of Rome having been vacant two years and three months, Celestine was unanimously chosen pope on account of the fame of his sanctity. The archbishop of Lyons,* presenting him with the instrument of his election, conjured him to submit to the vocation. Peter, in astonishment, prostrated himself on the ground; and, after he had continued in prayer a considerable time, he rose up, and, fearing to oppose the will of God, he consented to his election, and took the name of Celestine V.
Since the days of the first Gregory, no pope had ever assumed the pontifical dignity with more purity of intention. But he had not Gregory's talents for business and government; and the Roman see was immensely more corrupt in the thirteenth than it was in the sixth century. Celestine soon became sensible of his incapacity: he was lost, as in a wilderness. He attempted to reform abuses, to retrench the luxury of the clergy, to do, in short, what he found totally impracticable. He committed mistakes and exposed himself to the ridicule of the scornful. His conscience was kept on the rack through a variety of scruples, from which he could not extricate himself; and, from his ignorance of the world, and of canon law, he began to think he had done wrong in accepting the office. He spent much of his time in retirement: nor was he easy there, because his conscience told him, that he ought to be discharging the pastoral office. Overcome with anxiety, he asked cardinal Cajetan, whether he might not abdicate? It was answered, yes. Celestine gladly embraced the opportunity of assuming again the character of brother Peter, after he had been distressed with the phantom of dignity for four or five months. He abdicated in 1294. The last act of his pontificate was worthy of the since rity of his character. He made a constitution, that the pontiff might be allowed to abdicate if he pleased.* It is remarkable, that no pope has, since that time, taken the benefit of this constitution.
* Vertot's Knights of Malta, vol. ii.
That same Cajetan, who had encouraged his resignation, contrived to be elected his successor, and took the name of Boniface VIII. Though Peter had given the most undoubted proofs of his love of obscurity, and desired nothing more than that he might spend the rest of his days in private devotion, yet Boniface, who measured other men by himself, apprehended and imprisoned him, lest he should revoke his resignation. Peter gave such proofs of sincerity, as convinced all persons, except Boniface himself, that nothing was to be dreaded from his ambition. The tyrant senthim into the castle of Fumone, under a guard of soldiers: the old hermit was shut up in a hideous dungeon; and his rest was interrupted by the jailors, who nightly disturbed his sleep. These insults and hardships he seems to have born with christian patience and meekness. He sent this message to Boniface, " I am content; I desired a cell, and a cell you have given me." But Ambition Is Made Of SterNer Stuff, than to yield to the suggestions of conscience or humanity. In the year 1296, after an imprisonment of ten months, Celestine died of a fever, most probably contracted by the unworthy treatment which he received.
I have now mentioned the principal facts recorded concerning Celestine. There are no memorials of the internal exercises of his mind, but the discerning reader will be apt to rank him with those of whom. " fthe world was not worthy." After his decease, the hypocritical Boniface, and all the cardinals, attended his obsequies at St. Peter's. This is that Boniface, whose crimes disgraced the end of this century, and the beginning of the next: of whom it is said, that he entered the pontificate as a fox, lived as a lion, and died as a dog: and who, having tormented the christian world for eight years, met at length with a punishment worthy of his crimes, dying in prison under the greatest agonies. This same man also published a decretal, "that the Roman pontiff ought to be judged by none, though, by his conduct, he drew innumerable souls with himself to hell!"
* Platina. f Heb. xi. 38.
Thomas Aquinas, called the angelical doctor, filled the christian world, in this century, with the renown of his name. He was a dominican, who, by his comments on four books of Peter Lombard, master of the sentences, and, particularly, by his expositions of Aristotle, made himself more famous than most men of that time, on account of his skill in scholastic divinity. His penetration and genius were of the first order; but he excelled in that subtile and abstruse kind of learning only, which was better calculated to strike the imagination, than to improve the understanding. He maintained what is commonly called the doctrine of freewill, though he largely quoted Augustin, and retailed many of his pious and devotional "sentiments. His aristotelian subtilties enabled him to give a specious colour to the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, which in him found a vehement defender. The new festival of the body of Christ was, by this divine, adorned with an idolatrous ritual, which strengthened the fashionable superstitions.* He was the great supporter of the doctrine of supererogation, which, at the same time that it established the most pernicious views of selfrighteousness, by leaving the disposal of the superfluous treasure of the merits of saints to the discretion of the papal see, added one strong link to the chain which dragged the nations into ecclesiastical slavery. Nor were his voluminous writings much calculated to instruct mankind. For he supposed, that whatever sense any passage of scrips
* I have consulted the Centuriators, Mosheim, Du Pin, and Butler, concerning the tenets and writings of this doctor, and, on the whole, can find but little matter, which may properly belong to this history. A similar observation may be made concerning Bonaventura.
ture would possibly admit in grammatical construction, it was the real sense intended by the holy Spirit: whence, the imaginations of every sportive genius were regarded as of divine authority. And thus the scriptures were perverted and exposed to the ridicule of profane minds. Nor were they rescued from this miserable abuse, till the era of the reformation. His sentiments on the all important doctrine of justification, were deplorably corrupt; and that " #good works deserve grace of congruity," was one of his favourite axioms. His notions of the nature of repentance were egregiously trifling. On the other hand, there are in his writings, and particularly in the account of his discourses during his last sickness, traces of great devotion, and a strain of piety very similar to that of Augustin. But I confess, that, interlarded as they are with romish idolatry, and an unbounded attachment to the pope as the infallible guide of the church, I feel no inclination to transcribe them; because I am throughly convinced of the frauds by which the dominicans supported the popedom; and because some glare of solemn devotion seemed necessary to be employed by the agents of that see, in order to maintain the reputation of a'system intolerably corrupt.
Bonaventura, a franciscan doctor, may be briefly dismissed with similar observations. He also held the same corrupt sentiments concerning justification, with Thomas Aquinas. Nor does there appear inthe^whole Roman church, in this century, a single divine, who could give to a serious inquirer the scriptural answer to the question, " what shall I do to be saved?"f Hence, all who felt trouble of conscience, were led to betake themselves to salvos, with which the blind leaders of the blind supplied them. Among these the delusive invention of purgatory was the most remarkable; and in the romish church it upholds its credit to this day. Before the true scripture doctrine of justification it cannot stand for a moment; and whoever applies this doctrine with unfeigned faith to a guilty conscience, such an one will find relief, and will be led into the paths of true peace and genuine holiness. He may indeed and ought to pity those, who are deluded by so unscripturaland superstitious a notion as that of purgatory, but he himself will never be led captive by it. It may be worth while to state the reasons on which the advocates of the papacy support the doctrine of purgatory in their own words.*— " Some part of the debt, which the penitent owes to the divine justice, may remain uncancelled. Certainly some sins are venial, which deserve not eternal death; yet, if not effaced by condign penance in this world, they must be punished in the next. The smallest sin excludes a soul from heaven, so long as it is not blotted out. But no man will say that a venial sin, which destroys not sanctifying grace, will be punished with eternal torments. Hence there must be a relaxation of some sin in the world to come. Venial sins of surprise are readily effaced by penance, as we hope, through the divine mercy. Venial sins of malice, or those committed with full deliberation, are of a different nature, far more grievous and fatal. They are usually sins of habit, and lead even to mortal sin."
* See article xiii. of the church of England. t Actsxvi. 30, 31.
Thus, by the help of certain distinctions of sins, conclusions no where warranted in scripture were drawn, and mankind were led to look on purgatory as a relief to troubled consciences. If they had not effaced their guilt by penance in this life, it was hoped that purgatory, assisted by the prayers and donations made in behalf of the deceased, would release them afterwards from damnation. How strongly men were hence encouraged to live in sin all their days, is but too plain. And it seems wonderful, that so learned and sensible an author as A. Butler should build a doctrine of such practical importance on mere conjectures without the least scriptural ground. But on the other *»»•..••■•■•
* Butler, vol. xi. page 27
hand, whoever sees the real guilt and defilement of sin, of all sorts of sin, and rests wholly and entirely for acceptance with God on the righteousness, atonement, and intercession of Jesus Christ, finds at once the power of superstition and of licentiousness subdued; and he knows how to possess his soul In PerFect Peace; and to serve his heavenly Father " without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of his life."* The instruction, which lays open this secret, is given by every real protestant teacher of divinity; instruction, which, we see, the two great admired doctors and supposed luminaries of the thirteenth century were unable to give.
It is much to be wished that we could know more of Hugo, the Burgundian, a Roman cardinal, who wrote comments on the whole scriptures, and honestly exposed the impiety and wickedness of the ecclesiastics of his time. He died at Rome, in the year 1262.f
Guilhelmus,f bishop of Paris, flourished about the year 1230. On christian justification, and other fundamentals, he thought more justly than many of his contemporaries. He wrote on various religious subjects, and particularly on the collation of benefices; on which point he held that no man could be a pluralist, without the loss of his soul, unless the value of his preferments was exceedingly small. He was a man of learning and piety.
On this question the care of the ancient church had been remarkable. In the fourth general council of Chalcedon, by the tenth canon, pluralities were condemned: also at the second council of Nice, in the eighth century. In the sixth council of Paris, held in the year 829, the same practice was pronounced unlawful. And so strongly did the voice of natural conscience, and the common sense of propriety and decorum prevail against the torrent of fashionable corruptions, in speculation at least, that even in the
* Luke i. 74. f See Burnet's Pastoral Care. $ Ibid. 493.
uvelfth and thirteenth centuries, the possession of scandalous pluralities was condemned in a papal council, namely, the fourth council of the Lateran. *
Christianus, bishop of Mentz, was accused before the pope as a person incapable of governing the church. For he had refused to be concerned in military and secular employments, and had given himself up to the pastoral care. In these times such a conduct was deemed contemptible at least, if not criminal: after two years' residence at Mentz he resigned; and, not long after, he died in the year 1251.f