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* bring the corrupted Christians back TO THE PURITY OF THE “GOSPEL; and having comPLETED this pious work with great assi“ duity, and hearing that Radbord, whom he formerly in vain attempted "to convert, was dead, he repaired to Utrecht, to assist Willebrod, the “first bishop of that city. During the space of three years, these wor“thy pastors laboured, in conjunction, in EXTIRPATING IDOLA“ TRY and PROPAGATING THE FAITH; and so far succeeded, " that most of the people received baptism, and many of the Pagan temples were converted into Christian churches.'
After stating some further successes of the saint, Fox says, he was called to Rome by pope Gregory, who conferred upon him the episcopal character, that he might pursue his labours “with more authority and to greater advantage." He then goes on: “Being thus qualified for forming his
new church, he left Rome, having with him six letters from the pope;
one to Charles Martel; a second to all bishops, priests, counts, &c.; a “ third to the clergy and people under his more immediate direction;
a fourth to the five princes of Thuringia, and their Christian subjects; a fifth to the Pagans in their dominions; and a sixth to the whole
body of Saxons. The purport of all these was, to recommend him to “ the protection of the Christian powers, and exhort the Pagans to hear
him, and quit their errors and superstition." Though the statement of Fox on the whole is pretty accurate, we cannot help thinking he has outstretched the truth here, or else he has made the influence of the pope much greater than even Catholics suppose him possessed of. That the holy father should recommend the zealous missionary to the care and protection of the Christian powers is very natural, but that he should address the Pagan people by letter, and volunteer his exhortations where he was neither known nor cared for, and where it was uncertain whether Boniface would obtain a hearing, is a very improbable tale; but our martyrologist likes to deal more than a little in the marvellous, when he thinks it will suit his purpose.
Fox next proceeds to enumerate the transactions of this apostle of the Germanic church, in the erection of monasteries and bishoprics, which we here give in his own words :-" In the year 731, Gregory " the third succceded to the papal chair, upon whose accession Boni“ face sent persons to Rome, to acquaint him with the success of his “ labours, testifying his obedience, and desiring assistance in some diffi“ culties which occurred in his mission. The pope not only answered “ the message by assuring him of the communion and friendship of the
see of Rome, but, as a mark of respect, sent him the pallium, grant“ed him the title of archbishop, or metropolitan of all Germany, and
empowered him to erect new bishoprics. Boniface, in consequence, “not only erected new bishoprics, but built several monasteries. He " then made a third journey to Rome, in 738, when Gregory, who had “ much affection for him, detained him there the greatest part of the
year. At length having left Rome, he set out for Bavaria, upon the
invitation of Odillo, duke of that country, to reform some abuses in"troduced by persons who had never received holy orders. At this time “Bavaria had only one bishop; he therefore, pursuant to his commis
sion from Rome, erected three new bishoprics, one at Saltzburg, a “ second at Freisigen, a third at Ratisbon, and thus all Bavaria was
“ divided into four dioceses. This regulation was soon after confirmed
He next established four other bishoprics; viz. at Er“furt, Barabourg, Wurtzbourg, and Achstat. In the year 741, Gre
gory the third was succeeded in the popedom by Zachary, who con: firmed Boniface in his power, and approved of all he had done in Germany, making him at the same time archbishop of Mentz, and me tropolitan over thirteen bishoprics. He did not, however, lose his simplicity, or forget his innocence in his ecclesiastical dignity. Dur
ing the ministry of this prelate, Pepin was declared king of France; " and it being that prince's ambition to be crowned by the most holy
prelate he could find, Boniface was solicited to perform that cere
mony, which he did at Soissons in 752.” Fox concludes his account with the martyrdom of the saint who was killed with fifty-two of his disciples, by a body of Pagans, on the 5th of June, 755.
In concluding, Fox observes, “ thus fell the great father of the Ger“ manic church, the honour of England, and the glory of his barba
rous age.” To this observation, his modern editors have added the following remarks by way of note. Having given the fair side of the “ character of Boniface, the archbishop, it behoves us to say, that he
was a great abettor of all the absurdities and BLASPHEMIES of Po
pery: though for this he is not so much to be blamed; because in his “ time the candle of the true gospel was not lighted. By his authority “Childeric, king of France, was deposed, and Pepin, the betrayer of
his master, was recognised as king. From Boniface proceeded that “ detestable doctrine which now stands registered in the pope's decrees,
(dis. 40. cap. si papa;) which states, that in case the pope were of “ most filthy living, and forgetful or negligent of himself, and of Chris1“ tianity, in such a degree, that he led innumerable souls with him to "hell; yet ought no man to rebuke him for so doing, ‘for he hath,
says he, power to judge all men, and ought of no man to be judged again.'
Here then we have the “ few plain Christians” at variance with their favourite author, and making assertions that are flatly contradicted by the work they are editing “ to excite a hatred and abhorrence of the
corruptions and crimes of Popery and its professors." They give . “ the fair side
of the character of Boniface, the archhishop,” from the book of John Fox, but then it behoves them to SAY,-yes, yes, reader, to SAY, but not to prove—“ that he was a great abettor of all the
absurdities and BLASPHEMIES of Popery;" but although he was an abettor of blasphemy, yet he was not even blameable in the eyes of these pious exciters of hatred against the present professors of Catholicism, because, because, good souls, they have got it into their heads that “in his time the candle of the true gospel was not lighted.” These wise editors talk of the absurdity and blasphemy of Popery; but we ask the man of. common understanding whether their own absurdity and blasphemy do not exceed that imputed by them to Popery; though, by the by, we are not told in what the latter consist. Enough has been said however to convict the former of both. We are now got into the eighth century of the Christian church, we have had innumerable“ godly martyrs” recorded as suffering for the faith of Christ, among whom are many of the bishops of Rome, and behold we are told by the “few
plain Christians” that “ the candle of the gospel was not yet light« ed” !!! What! did Christ leave his apostles and their sucessors, and all the victims of Pagan and Arian vengeance, in the shade of darkAess; though he himself stated that he came to enlighten and to redeem the world? Did he permit the Pagan nations to be converted to Christianity, working miracles to confirm the authority of the missionaries, and allow them to teach blasphemy in his name? What horrible impiety! What barefaced absurdity is this! Such matchless impudence and falsehood was never before submitted to a people laying claim to rationality. And will you, Protestants of England, suffer yourselves to be any longer deluded and imposed upon by such groundless assertions as these ? Compare the statement of Fox with the assertion of his modern editors, and say if they are not the most unblushing liars that ever stained paper.
To make their want of veracity plain to the meanest capacity, we will enter a little further into the merits of this case. Fox bears the clearest testimony to the true faith being taught by the church of Rome at this period, and the zealous labours of our countryman to carry that faith to those nations that were under the shade of darkness; consequently the candle was burning in our own island, and the light of the true gospel was spread by the efforts of Englishmen, holding their commission from the pope. St. Austin was sent to England in 596, by pope Gregory the great, where he imparted the light of faith, and it was carefully treasured in those establishments of learning and piety, the monasteries, which were so ruthlessly destroyed by the tyrant Harry and his successor. That Rome was then, as she now is, the mother of the Christian world, is unequivocally admitted by Fox, as he states that Boniface received his commission from one pope, and that his commission was confirmed by two successive pontiffs filling the see of Rome. Again, it appears from Fox's account that some parts of the continent had received the light of the gospel, and its professors by some means or other became corrupted; but that Boniface set himself to reform them, and completely succeeded in bringing them back to the purity of the gospel. Now how could he do this, if we are to believe the modern editors of this Book of Martyrs ? They say, “ candle of the true gospel was not lighted" in the time of Bonifacewhile Fox says, he brought back corrupted Christians to the purity of the gospel, and propagated the faith among Pagan idolaters. Here is a contradiction which the wise editors probably did not expect to see exposed. They thought they had only to impute absurdity and blasphemy to Popery, and all would be well. Truth was not their object, though they pretended to be influenced by a desire “of diffusing among “their fellow-believers a knowledge and love of the genuine principles " of Christianity." Where these " genuine principles" are to be found they have not yet shewn their “ fellow-believers;” and we suppose the tallow-chandler is not yet born that is to make their candle of the gospel
That Boniface was a Catholic missionary, there can be no doubt; and that he possessed the pure faith, we have the evidence of John Fox, whose testimony being confirmed by the most authentic historians, will go much further with the man of unbiassed mind, than the unsup
ported and irreligious assertions of the “ few plain Christians." The Rev. Alban Butler, in his life of this great man, says, “A collection “of St. Boniface's letters was published by Serrarius, in 1605..... “By his epistles it appears, that, in all his designs and actions, he had
nothing in view but piety and the service of God..... In the fourth, “ speaking of the necessity of confession, he says: “If we should “conceal our sins, God will discover them publicly in spite of us. “ And it is better to discover them to one man than to be publiely ex
posed and covered with confusion for them in the sight of all the ins “habitants of heaven, earth, and hell.' (Hom. iv. p. 195.)....The "style of this saint's writing (Mr. B. observes) is clear, grave, and “ simple. He everywhere in them breathes an apostolical spirit, and “his thoughts are just and solid.” The same author states, that “St. “ Boniface wrote a circular to all the bishops, priests, deacons, ca
nons, monks, nuns, and all the people of England, conjuring them earnestly to join in holy prayer, to beg of God, who desires that all
may be saved, that he would vouchsafe, in his infinite mercy, to “ shower down his blessings upon the labours of all those who are "employed in endeavouring to bring souls to his saving knowledge and
holy love." These sentiments, we think, do not savour much of absurdity and blasphemy, while they exhibit a heart influenced with true charity, and inspired with the light of divine faith. In a letter to Cuthbert, archbishop of Canterbury, the saint gives us a true picture of the zealous pastor, and shews how ardently he desired to labour to plant the light of faith among infidels. “ Let us fight,” he says, “ for the Lord in these days of bitterness and affliction. If this “be the will of God, let us die for the laws of our fathers, that we
may arrive with them at the eternal inheritance. Let us not be dumb
dogs, sleeping centinels, hirelings that fly at the sight of the wolf: “ but watchful and diligent pastors, preaching to the great and small
, “ to the rich and poor, to every age and condition, being instant in
season and out of season." Such is the man whom these “ few plain Christians” have charged with being a great abettor of all the ab"surdities and blasphemies of Popery;" and yet, oh! absurdity sublime! was himself blameless, because the true gospel was then unknown !!! Would it not be better for society, if these exciters of hatred against Popery and its professors were imbued with similar. Christian sentiments as this imputed abettor of absurdity and blasphemy?
Fox informs us that Boniface was invited into Bavaria for the pur- . pose of reforming "some abuses introduced by persons who had never as received holy orders ;” and, as usual, be omits to tell us what those abuses were. But what shall we say of those preachers “who have never “ received boly orders ?" It is clear that John Fox considered orders necessary for the exercise of the ecclesiastical functions, or he would not have noticed this circumstance in his account of Boniface. And what then shall we say of those men who lay claim to the call of preaching by inspiration? Of being sent, not by the regular line of succession from the apostles, but by their own conceit and fanciful ideas? Such as these, we think, must stand condemned as well in these days as in the time of Boniface, But let us see what the abuses were that our saint had to reform. Fox gives Odillo the credit of sending for St. Boniface ;
“ and pride.
Mr. A. Butler however says that the merit is due to Carloman, the son of Charles Martel, mayor of the palace and prince of Lorrain, and brother to Pepin, who afterwards changed the mayoralty into a kingdom. This prince subdued Odilo, the duke of Bavaria, and made him tributary; while his chief aim, we are told, was to consult by peace the happiness of his people, to protect religion, and to cultivate the useful arts. “He bent his whole authority," writes Mr. Butler, “to second “the zeal of our saint in all his undertakings. Two impostors were “ stirred up by the devil, to disturb the infant church of Germany, “ The one, Adalbert, a Frenchman, pretended to know the secrets of "hearts, gave his own hair and the parings of his nails as relics, and "wrote his own life, filled with absurd pretended miracles, enthusiasm,
The other, called Clement, a Scotsman, rejected the canons or ecclesiastical laws, taught that Christ in his descent into hell “delivered all the souls of the damned; he also held heterodox opi“nions concerning predestination. St. Boniface, in a council in Ger
many, condemned them both in 742....and the sentence of the saint “ and his council was afterwards confirmed by the pope in a synod at “Rome in 745." (Conc. t. vi. p. 14, 15, and St. Bonif. ep. 138.) Here we see again the carefulness of the pastors of the church to guard against every degree of imposition, and their diffidence in not presuming to act on their own individual authority, but by the common consent and advice of their confreres in solemn convocation.
But, the “few plain Christians” will exclaim, you have not noticed our charge against him, of deposing, by his authority, the king of France, and broaching that detestable doctrine, that no man ought to rebuke the pope, let him be ever so wicked and scandalous in his life. As to the latter charge, if there be an individual of common understanding capable of giving credit to so foul an accusation, we really pity him. It is of so stupid and gross a nature, it is so improbable and disgusting, that we should be trespassing upon common sense to undertake its refutation: but it is not so with the former allegation. This has been a fruitful source of calumny and misrepresentation, which neither the seat of justice nor the walls of parliament have been able to withstand. The deposing power has been a bugbear of long standing, and was invented by the reformers of the sixteenth century, as a cloak to cover their own deformity; but, we think, by this time it is become thread bare. However, as the charge involves an historical fact of an interesting nature, we will go somewhat at large into the question, for the information of the reader. The “plain Christians” say, that "by his “ (Boniface's) authority, Childeric, king of France, was deposed, and “ Pepin, the betrayer of his master, was recognised as king." Now this assertion is as palpable a falsehood, as that of the candle of the true gospel not being lighted in Boniface's time. The saint had no more to do with the deposition of Childeric than we had. It is true he crowned Pepin after he was chosen king by the unanimous voice of the nation, and we cannot see any great crime in that action. William the third was crowned king of England by the then archbishop of Canterbury, after James the second, his father-in-law, had been driven from the throne;
therefore we trust it is not absurdity and blasphemy in a Catholic prelate to crown a king chosen by a Catholic people, and con