Billeder på siden


But what are we to think of the defence made by this holy pope; at least that which Fox and his editors have imputed to him? Is it possible that Martin could be a Protestant martyr, after the doctrine he is stated to bave defended in his epistle to the emperor? It is true we do not find the Rev. Alban Butler, in the life of this saint, mentioning any thing about these epistles, nor are we aware that there was any circumstance in the times that called for the pope's declaration of doctrine; but Fox has said it, and we beg the reader's particular attention to it. · In the first epistle Fox says, this "godly martyr” de

“that nothing could be more false than what the heretics had alleged against hini concerning the blessed Virgin, whom he firmly " believed to be the mother of God, and worthy of all honour after her ** divine Son." See you this, gentle reader; see you this declaration put to the account of a bishop of Rome-one of John Fox's “godly martyrs,”—for the purpose of " diffusing ... a knowledge and love of "the genuine principles of Christianity," and by men too who swear, that to honour the blessed Virgin is downright idolatry!!! What the heretics of those days had alleged against pope Martin we do not know, but Fox says the pope declared the charges to be false, and that he firmly believed the blessed Virgin ought to be honoured as the mother of God. So do the Catholics believe at this day; and they are not only stigmatized by “Protestant-ascendency" as idolatrous, but are excluded from civil office by means of an infamous test brought forward under the most infamous circumstances, when the lives of Catholics were sworn away by a set of the most infamous wretches that ever disgraced the human form, who were paid by the parliament for this infamous work out of the people's money: we allude to the horrid conspiracy of Shaftesbury and Titus Oates.

Now, reader, if the doctrine of pope Martin was genuine in the seventh century, it must also be genuine in the nineteenth; for truth is always one and the same. If it were rank heresy to deny honour to the blessed Virgin then, it must consequently be so now? Heresy, you will please to observe, is defined by Dr Johnson to be, “An opinion of private men, different from that of the Catholic and orthodox church;” and here we have John Fox telling us that the head of that church in the seventh century, in opposition to certain heretics, that is certain private men, declared in writing that the blessed Virgin is worthy of all honour next to her divine Son. So say the Catholic and orthodox church now, and so she always did and always will. What then are we to think of those who deny her this honour upon oath, and who are, compared in numbers with the Catholic church, but a body of private men? The Protestant reader will do well to reflect on this discrepancy between the genuine doctrines of pope Martin, and the modern doctrines of “Protestant-ascendency." We would also have him bear in mind the different modes pursued by the Catholic church and “Protestant-ascendency” when a point of docBrine is disputed. We see by John Fox's statement, that pope

Martin did not decide on his own individual judgment in the case of Monothelism, which was an opinion of private men different from the “ Catholic and orthodox church;” but he assembled a council of 107 bishops, all learned and competent men, who were also governed by a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

rule the most safe and certain that could be devised. This rule was to examine the written and unwritten word of God; that is, to compare the gospels with the apostolical traditions, and decide that what had always been taught by the church, and had been received by the apostles, must be of divine institution and faith; and consequently what could not be proved to have such an origin must be human invention. Such a mode of proceeding as this is consistent with sound reason, and forms a chain of evidence incontestable and unbroken. On the other hand, Protestantism has nothing of this kind to rely upon. Luther, Calvin, Harry the eighth, Elizabeth, and in fact the whole clan of evangelical reformers were innovators, by imposing their own “pri

vate opinionsupon the ignorant and credulous for divine truths. Some by the power of the sword, and others by the cant of hypocrisy. When Henry established his ecclesiastical supremacy, it was under the terror of pains and penalties; and by the same means did Elizabeth assume the popeship of the church of England. Protestantism was not raised by the supernatural hand of God, but by the operation of human power and deception. In England, for example, when the thirty-nine articles and book of common prayer were framed for the uniformity of belief and worship, the universal church was not consulted as to their orthodoxy and antiquity, but their merits were submitted to a lay-parliament; to a body, in comparison with the church of Christ, of private men, deputed by the people of England to manage their temporal concerns, but who assumed the right to manage their spiritual affairs, heretofore regulated by the councils of bishops from all parts of the world. Thus then the "genuine principles of Christianity” became subjected to the whim of lay-legislators, and articles of faith were made to vary according to the taste of the times or the schemes of plotting statesmen. Hence the endless diversity of creeds that now distract the minds of those who still retain some spark of religious sentiments, and the great increase of infidelity among others, who, witnessing the gross contradictions of the contending sects, and the abuses that arise from a state clergy, conclude that religion is only a political instrument to further the interests of the ambitious. But it is not so with the Catholic, who can see in the history of his church the mark of a divine hand, and an undeviating guide to the haven of salvation. Abuses may creep in, with regard to some of her ministers, who are subject to the same frailties as other human beings, but in her faith and morals she is always ONE, always HOLY, always CATHOLIC and APOSTOLICAL. This fact has been acknowledged by John Fox to the seventh century, as we see in his account of “ Bishop Martin,and we shall be able to prove, in the course of our review of his Book of Martyrs, that it is still the same.

Constans, the murderer of the holy pope Martin, as we have before stated, was murdered in his turn by an assassin. He was succeeded by his son Constantine Pogonatus, a virtuous and orthodox prince. Under his reign the sixth general council of the church was called at Constantinople, being the third which was held in that city, with a view of healing the divisions that had so long disturbed the Christian world. Two bundred and sixty bishops from all parts of the east assembled on the 7th day of November, in the year 680. Each bishop sat in order

[ocr errors]

according to the digníty of the see he represented, and in the middle of the assembly, according to ancient custom, was placed the book of the holy gospels. The pope's legate presided and opened the council. The question for discussion was this,-Whether in our Lord Jesus Christ there were two natural wills or only one-two operations or only one, as the Monothelite party had asserted. The leaders of the party were present, and were called upon to state the grounds of their opinion. They did so, and were heard with attention, The council next proceeded to examine what had been written for and against the doctrine, what the gospels said, what the fathers testified, what preceding councils had defined, and what apostolical tradition had handed down. This examination occupied eighteen sessions, so that it is clear the members of this council did not decide hastily. The decision of the council was, that the doctrine, was new and false, being contrary to that taught by the apostles. They therefore decreed as follows, "We de

fine, that in Jesus Christ there are two natural wills, and two natural

operations, and we forbid the contrary to be taught.”. This decree was properly authenticated, the council dissolved, after sitting ten months, and Monothelism shortly afterwards expired.

We have alluded to the rise of Mahometanism ; it is now necessary to give a brief outline of its progress. It will be seen that heresy had been most fruitful in the eastern churches. Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, had its birth in Alexandria; Macedonianism, whịch denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost, took its rise in Constantinople; Donatism commenced in Africa; Pelagianism took root in Carthagę; Nestorianism began at Constantinople, as did also Eutychianism, all which errors were more or less encouraged and countenanced by the temporal rulers of that part of Christendom. Such opposition to the divine commands, not to mention the violent acts of injustice committed against the liberty of conscience, by the persecutions of the faithful believers, could not be expected to remain long unpunished. If the Pagan emperors experienced the vengeance of Heaven for their enormities against the primitive Christians, we must look for heavier judgments against the apostates from Christianism and the oppressors of the orthodox. Accordingly we see the sword of Mahometanism raised to chastise the rebellious monarchs of the east, and carry destruction to those places that favoured the impious heresies we have named. Arabia was soon overrun by the barbarian followers of this pretended prophet, who was an Unitarian, and taught his partisans to take up arms for religion, promising them a paradise of all the sensual pleasures, if they died fighting in the cause, In 634, Omar, the second caliph after Mahomet, invaded Syria, where he defeated' the brother of the emperor Heraclius, and soon became master of Damascus. He then divided his army, one part of which he sent against Egypt. In 636, Jerusalem, after a siege of two years, surrendered to his arms. Antioch soon followed, and in the course of ten years this chieftain made himself master of all Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Alexandria stood a siege of fourteen months. The library of this city was destroyed by express order of the caliph, and the number of volumes was so great, that, it is said, they sufficed to light the fires of four thousand baths for six months. The next enterprise of these ruthless war

riors was against the kingdom of Persia, which had persecuted the Christians, and now felt the hand of Mahometanism, being subjected to its dominion. In 662 they invaded other parts of the eastern Roman empire, and in 712 they passed from Africa into Spain, where they spread terror all over the country by their horrid cruelties. - The amazing growth of this strange power now received a shock by the desertion of some of its chiefs, who renounced subjection to the Arabian caliph and proclaimed themselves independent. These disputes for power gave rise to civil wars, which for a time stayed their further irruptions into the remaining provinces of the Greek' or Constantinopolitan empire. While these events were passing on the borders of the empire, her internal state was again agitated and thrown into disunion by the schism commenced by one Photius, who had been nominated, though but a layman, by the emperor, to the patriarchal chair of Constantinople, in the year 858. This schism led to many disorders, and several attempts were made to heal the breach, but in the end they proved fruitless. The Greeks remained obstinate, and for their contumacy to the divine authority, the Almighty abandoned them to the mercy of the Mahometans. After years of wasteful warfare, in 1453 Mahomet the second laid siege to the city of Constantinople, which after a brave resistance was carried by storm, and an end put to the empire of the Greeks. The fate of Constantinople was truly deplorable. Forty thousand Greeks perished in the slaughter, and 60,000 were afterwards sold for slaves. The churches were profaned, meat was served up in the sacred chalices, and for three days the barbarians rioted with such licentiousness, that they committed the most enormous and horrible crimes it was possible to perpetrate.

While these disorders were going on in the east, the true faith was making great progress in the Pagan nations in the north and west. In 532 St. Eleutherius converted the people about Tournay. In 536 St. Vedast converted the people in Artois. In 537 St. Paternus carried the light of the gospel to the people of Constance; and Spain received the faith from Rome. In 596 our own country renounced idolatry for Catholicism, on the preaching of St. Augustin; and the year following the people of Little Britány embraced the gospel from the hands of St. Paul de Leon. In the seventh century the South Saxons were converted by St. Wilfrid; the West Saxons by St. Birinus; the East Angles by St. Felix, and the Mercians by St. Ceadda. St. Swibert preached the faith in Germany, St. Willibrord in Friesland; St. Kilian in Franconia, St. Columbá among the Swedes, and St. Eligius among the Flemish. In the eighth century Germany received the light of faith, which was first carried there by one of our own countrymen, of whom Fox has taken some considerable notice in his Book of Martyrs. And here we beg the reader to keep in remembrance, that this propagation of truth was invariably effected by the preaching of holy and unarmed men, fortified only with the divine Spirit, the precepts and morality of the gospel, and the gift of performing miracles, to flash conviction of their heavenly authority. In no instance was Catholicism planted among heathen or apostate nations but by the power of persuasion and the strength of truth; nor can a case, we believe, be pointed out, where the Catholic faith was ever totally annihilated, after having once taken

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

root. Thongh the countries of the east have been, from the destruction
of Constantinople in 1453, under the dominion of Mahometanism, yet
the Catholic religion still exists in that capital, and in almost every
part of the Turkish empire. Neither could the violence nor craft of
the reformers of the sixteenth century destroy the seed of truth,
though in many places they nearly choaked it with the weeds of error.
Though Protestantism, like Arianism, &c. was supported in almost
every country, where it reared its head, by the influence and power of
the civil magistrate, and corporal pains and inflictions were exercised
on those who adhered to the ancient and true faith, yet there is not a
place in the world, where Protestantism is professed, nor any other error
arising from apostasy, but there are also believers in the Catholic and
orthodox faith. This we must consider a striking fact of the univer-
sality and genuineness of that creed which the “few plain Christians”
abuse, calumniate, and wish to excite a hatred against.

The second section of the second book of Fox is headed “PERSECU-

ACCOUNT OF Boniface.” This Boniface is the great saint of that name, who, by his extraordinary missionary labours, was the illustrious instrument of bringing the people of Germany to the knowledge of the faith of Christ. Fox, in his account, admits that our saint, who was an Englishman, and a native of Devonshire, was gifted with most eminent talents and was a profound scholar; that he was indebted to the care and skill of the abbot of Nutscelle for his knowledge in the divine law, and that he could explain "the holy scriptures in the literal, moral, and

mystical senses.” That the abbot "seeing him qualified for the priest“ hood, conferred upon him that holy order, when he was about thirty years of

age. From that time (Fox continues) he began to labour for the salvation of his fellow creatures; in the progress of which he

gave the first proofs of that apostolical zeal, which afterwards made

such glorious conquests in a most savage and barbarous part of the “ world.” The martyrologist then goes on to state, that Boniface was induced “to forsake his country, relations and friends, in order to be of “ service to THE FAITH, and extend CHRISTIANITY on the conti

nent;" that the abbot would have dissuaded him from the attempt, but finding him resolute, he sent two of the monks to assist him. That on arriving on the continent, he found the time of conversion was not yet come, and therefore returned to the monastery: that the abbot dying, he was chosen to fill his place, but that “he either never accepted of “ that post, or quitted it very soon; for he obtained letters from Daniel,

bishop of Winchester, his diocesan, which recommended him to THE POPE, and all the bishops, abbots, and princes, he should find on his way to ROME, where he arrived in the beginning of the year 719. He was received (Fox states) by Gregory the second with great

friendship, and after several conferences with him, finding him full "" of zeal, he dismissed him with A COMMISSION AT LARGE TO " PREACH THE GOSPEL to the Pagans, wherever he found them.” Fox then goes on, “Having passed through Lombardy and Bavaria, he " (Boniface) came to Thuringia, which country had before received " the light of the gospel; but at the time that Boniface arrived there,

it had made little progress. His first exertions, therefore, were to

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »