|« Prev||Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part V.||Next »|
Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part V.
I. Both in his native and his episcopal province, the heresy of the unfortunate Nestorius was speedily obliterated. The Oriental bishops, who at Ephesus had resisted to his face the arrogance of Cyril, were mollified by his tardy concessions. The same prelates, or their successors, subscribed, not without a murmur, the decrees of Chalcedon; the power of the Monophysites reconciled them with the Catholics in the conformity of passion, of interest, and, insensibly, of belief; and their last reluctant sigh was breathed in the defence of the three chapters. Their dissenting brethren, less moderate, or more sincere, were crushed by the penal laws; and, as early as the reign of Justinian, it became difficult to find a church of Nestorians within the limits of the Roman empire. Beyond those limits they had discovered a new world, in which they might hope for liberty, and aspire to conquest. In Persia, notwithstanding the resistance of the Magi, Christianity had struck a deep root, and the nations of the East reposed under its salutary shade. The catholic, or primate, resided in the capital: in his synods, and in their dioceses, his metropolitans, bishops, and clergy, represented the pomp and order of a regular hierarchy: they rejoiced in the increase of proselytes, who were converted from the Zendavesta to the gospel, from the secular to the monastic life; and their zeal was stimulated by the presence of an artful and formidable enemy. The Persian church had been founded by the missionaries of Syria; and their language, discipline, and doctrine, were closely interwoven with its original frame. The catholics were elected and ordained by their own suffragans; but their filial dependence on the patriarchs of Antioch is attested by the canons of the Oriental church.58565856 See the Arabic canons of Nice in the translation of Abraham Ecchelensis, No. 37, 38, 39, 40. Concil. tom. ii. p. 335, 336, edit. Venet. These vulgar titles, Nicene and Arabic, are both apocryphal. The council of Nice enacted no more than twenty canons, (Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 8;) and the remainder, seventy or eighty, were collected from the synods of the Greek church. The Syriac edition of Maruthas is no longer extant, (Asseman. Bibliot. Oriental. tom. i. p. 195, tom. iii. p. 74,) and the Arabic version is marked with many recent interpolations. Yet this Code contains many curious relics of ecclesiastical discipline; and since it is equally revered by all the Eastern communions, it was probably finished before the schism of the Nestorians and Jacobites, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. xi. p. 363—367.) In the Persian school of Edessa,58575857 Theodore the Reader (l. ii. c. 5, 49, ad calcem Hist. Eccles.) has noticed this Persian school of Edessa. Its ancient splendor, and the two aeras of its downfall, (A.D. 431 and 489) are clearly discussed by Assemanni, (Biblioth. Orient. tom. ii. p. 402, iii. p. 376, 378, iv. p. 70, 924.) the rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological idiom: they studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand volumes of Theodore of Mopsuestia; and they revered the apostolic faith and holy martyrdom of his disciple Nestorius, whose person and language were equally unknown to the nations beyond the Tigris. The first indelible lesson of Ibas, bishop of Edessa, taught them to execrate the Egyptians, who, in the synod of Ephesus, had impiously confounded the two natures of Christ. The flight of the masters and scholars, who were twice expelled from the Athens of Syria, dispersed a crowd of missionaries inflamed by the double zeal of religion and revenge. And the rigid unity of the Monophysites, who, under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, had invaded the thrones of the East, provoked their antagonists, in a land of freedom, to avow a moral, rather than a physical, union of the two persons of Christ. Since the first preaching of the gospel, the Sassanian kings beheld with an eye of suspicion a race of aliens and apostates, who had embraced the religion, and who might favor the cause, of the hereditary foes of their country. The royal edicts had often prohibited their dangerous correspondence with the Syrian clergy: the progress of the schism was grateful to the jealous pride of Perozes, and he listened to the eloquence of an artful prelate, who painted Nestorius as the friend of Persia, and urged him to secure the fidelity of his Christian subjects, by granting a just preference to the victims and enemies of the Roman tyrant. The Nestorians composed a large majority of the clergy and people: they were encouraged by the smile, and armed with the sword, of despotism; yet many of their weaker brethren were startled at the thought of breaking loose from the communion of the Christian world, and the blood of seven thousand seven hundred Monophysites, or Catholics, confirmed the uniformity of faith and discipline in the churches of Persia.58585858 A dissertation on the state of the Nestorians has swelled in the bands of Assemanni to a folio volume of 950 pages, and his learned researches are digested in the most lucid order. Besides this ivth volume of the Bibliotheca Orientalis, the extracts in the three preceding tomes (tom. i. p. 203, ii. p. 321-463, iii. 64—70, 378—395, &c., 405—408, 580—589) may be usefully consulted. Their ecclesiastical institutions are distinguished by a liberal principle of reason, or at least of policy: the austerity of the cloister was relaxed and gradually forgotten; houses of charity were endowed for the education of orphans and foundlings; the law of celibacy, so forcibly recommended to the Greeks and Latins, was disregarded by the Persian clergy; and the number of the elect was multiplied by the public and reiterated nuptials of the priests, the bishops, and even the patriarch himself. To this standard of natural and religious freedom, myriads of fugitives resorted from all the provinces of the Eastern empire; the narrow bigotry of Justinian was punished by the emigration of his most industrious subjects; they transported into Persia the arts both of peace and war: and those who deserved the favor, were promoted in the service, of a discerning monarch. The arms of Nushirvan, and his fiercer grandson, were assisted with advice, and money, and troops, by the desperate sectaries who still lurked in their native cities of the East: their zeal was rewarded with the gift of the Catholic churches; but when those cities and churches were recovered by Heraclius, their open profession of treason and heresy compelled them to seek a refuge in the realm of their foreign ally. But the seeming tranquillity of the Nestorians was often endangered, and sometimes overthrown. They were involved in the common evils of Oriental despotism: their enmity to Rome could not always atone for their attachment to the gospel: and a colony of three hundred thousand Jacobites, the captives of Apamea and Antioch, was permitted to erect a hostile altar in the face of the catholic, and in the sunshine of the court. In his last treaty, Justinian introduced some conditions which tended to enlarge and fortify the toleration of Christianity in Persia. The emperor, ignorant of the rights of conscience, was incapable of pity or esteem for the heretics who denied the authority of the holy synods: but he flattered himself that they would gradually perceive the temporal benefits of union with the empire and the church of Rome; and if he failed in exciting their gratitude, he might hope to provoke the jealousy of their sovereign. In a later age the Lutherans have been burnt at Paris, and protected in Germany, by the superstition and policy of the most Christian king.
The desire of gaining souls for God and subjects for the church, has excited in every age the diligence of the Christian priests. From the conquest of Persia they carried their spiritual arms to the north, the east, and the south; and the simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and painted with the colors of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century, according to the report of a Nestorian traveller,58595859 See the Topographia Christiana of Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, l. iii. p. 178, 179, l. xi. p. 337. The entire work, of which some curious extracts may be found in Photius, (cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10, edit. Hoeschel,) Thevenot, (in the 1st part of his Relation des Voyages, &c.,) and Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. l. iii. c. 25, tom. ii. p. 603-617,) has been published by Father Montfaucon at Paris, 1707, in the Nova Collectio Patrum, (tom. ii. p. 113—346.) It was the design of the author to confute the impious heresy of those who maintained that the earth is a globe, and not a flat, oblong table, as it is represented in the Scriptures, (l. ii. p. 138.) But the nonsense of the monk is mingled with the practical knowledge of the traveller, who performed his voyage A.D. 522, and published his book at Alexandria, A.D. 547, (l. ii. p. 140, 141. Montfaucon, Praefat. c. 2.) The Nestorianism of Cosmas, unknown to his learned editor, was detected by La Croze, (Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 40—55,) and is confirmed by Assemanni, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 605, 606.) Christianity was successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians, the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the Barbaric churches, from the Gulf of Persia to the Caspian Sea, were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of Malabar, and the isles of the ocean, Socotora and Ceylon, were peopled with an increasing multitude of Christians; and the bishops and clergy of those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the Catholic of Babylon. In a subsequent age the zeal of the Nestorians overleaped the limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the Selinga. They exposed a metaphysical creed to those illiterate shepherds: to those sanguinary warriors, they recommended humanity and repose. Yet a khan, whose power they vainly magnified, is said to have received at their hands the rites of baptism, and even of ordination; and the fame of Prester or Presbyter John58605860 In its long progress to Mosul, Jerusalem, Rome, &c., the story of Prester John evaporated in a monstrous fable, of which some features have been borrowed from the Lama of Thibet, (Hist. Genealogique des Tartares, P. ii. p. 42. Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 31, &c.,) and were ignorantly transferred by the Portuguese to the emperor of Abyssinia, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. Comment. l. ii. c. 1.) Yet it is probable that in the xith and xiith centuries, Nestorian Christianity was professed in the horde of the Keraites, (D'Herbelot, p. 256, 915, 959. Assemanni, tom. iv. p. 468—504.) Note: The extent to which Nestorian Christianity prevailed among the Tartar tribes is one of the most curious questions in Oriental history. M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, notes, p. 383) appears to question the Christianity of Ong Chaghan, and his Keraite subjects.—M. has long amused the credulity of Europe. The royal convert was indulged in the use of a portable altar; but he despatched an embassy to the patriarch, to inquire how, in the season of Lent, he should abstain from animal food, and how he might celebrate the Eucharist in a desert that produced neither corn nor wine. In their progress by sea and land, the Nestorians entered China by the port of Canton and the northern residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of Rome, who assumed with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the mandarins, who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted in private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished and they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the propagation of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state, and, after a short vicissitude of favor and persecution, the foreign sect expired in ignorance and oblivion.58615861 The Christianity of China, between the seventh and the thirteenth century, is invincibly proved by the consent of Chinese, Arabian, Syriac, and Latin evidence, (Assemanni, Biblioth. Orient. tom. iv. p. 502—552. Mem. de l'Academie des Inscript. tom. xxx. p. 802—819.) The inscription of Siganfu which describes the fortunes of the Nestorian church, from the first mission, A.D. 636, to the current year 781, is accused of forgery by La Croze, Voltaire, &c., who become the dupes of their own cunning, while they are afraid of a Jesuitical fraud. * Note: This famous monument, the authenticity of which many have attempted to impeach, rather from hatred to the Jesuits, by whom it was made known, than by a candid examination of its contents, is now generally considered above all suspicion. The Chinese text and the facts which it relates are equally strong proofs of its authenticity. This monument was raised as a memorial of the establishment of Christianity in China. It is dated the year 1092 of the era of the Greeks, or the Seleucidae, A.D. 781, in the time of the Nestorian patriarch Anan-jesu. It was raised by Iezdbouzid, priest and chorepiscopus of Chumdan, that is, of the capital of the Chinese empire, and the son of a priest who came from Balkh in Tokharistan. Among the various arguments which may be urged in favor of the authenticity of this monument, and which has not yet been advanced, may be reckoned the name of the priest by whom it was raised. The name is Persian, and at the time the monument was discovered, it would have been impossible to have imagined it; for there was no work extant from whence the knowledge of it could be derived. I do not believe that ever since this period, any book has been published in which it can be found a second time. It is very celebrated amongst the Armenians, and is derived from a martyr, a Persian by birth, of the royal race, who perished towards the middle of the seventh century, and rendered his name celebrated among the Christian nations of the East. St. Martin, vol. i. p. 69. M. Remusat has also strongly expressed his conviction of the authenticity of this monument. Melanges Asiatiques, P. i. p. 33. Yet M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, p. 384) denies that there is any satisfactory proof that much a monument was ever found in China, or that it was not manufactured in Europe. But if the Jesuits had attempted such a forgery, would it not have been more adapted to further their peculiar views?—M. Under the reign of the caliphs, the Nestorian church was diffused from China to Jerusalem and Cyrus; and their numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin communions.58625862 Jacobitae et Nestorianae plures quam Graeci et Latini Jacob a Vitriaco, Hist. Hierosol. l. ii. c. 76, p. 1093, in the Gesta Dei per Francos. The numbers are given by Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 172. Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops composed their hierarchy; but several of these were dispensed, by the distance and danger of the way, from the duty of personal attendance, on the easy condition that every six years they should testify their faith and obedience to the catholic or patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation which has been successively applied to the royal seats of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Bagdad. These remote branches are long since withered; and the old patriarchal trunk58635863 The division of the patriarchate may be traced in the Bibliotheca Orient. of Assemanni, tom. i. p. 523—549, tom. ii. p. 457, &c., tom. iii. p. 603, p. 621—623, tom. iv. p. 164-169, p. 423, p. 622—629, &c. is now divided by the Elijahs of Mosul, the representatives almost on lineal descent of the genuine and primitive succession; the Josephs of Amida, who are reconciled to the church of Rome:58645864 The pompous language of Rome on the submission of a Nestorian patriarch, is elegantly represented in the viith book of Fra Paola, Babylon, Nineveh, Arbela, and the trophies of Alexander, Tauris, and Ecbatana, the Tigris and Indus. and the Simeons of Van or Ormia, whose revolt, at the head of forty thousand families, was promoted in the sixteenth century by the Sophis of Persia. The number of three hundred thousand is allowed for the whole body of the Nestorians, who, under the name of Chaldeans or Assyrians, are confounded with the most learned or the most powerful nation of Eastern antiquity.
According to the legend of antiquity, the gospel was preached in India by St. Thomas.58655865 The Indian missionary, St. Thomas, an apostle, a Manichaean, or an Armenian merchant, (La Croze, Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 57—70,) was famous, however, as early as the time of Jerom, (ad Marcellam, epist. 148.) Marco-Polo was informed on the spot that he suffered martyrdom in the city of Malabar, or Meliapour, a league only from Madras, (D'Anville, Eclaircissemens sur l'Inde, p. 125,) where the Portuguese founded an episcopal church under the name of St. Thome, and where the saint performed an annual miracle, till he was silenced by the profane neighborhood of the English, (La Croze, tom. ii. p. 7-16.) At the end of the ninth century, his shrine, perhaps in the neighborhood of Madras, was devoutly visited by the ambassadors of Alfred; and their return with a cargo of pearls and spices rewarded the zeal of the English monarch, who entertained the largest projects of trade and discovery.58665866 Neither the author of the Saxon Chronicle (A.D. 833) not William of Malmesbury (de Gestis Regum Angliae, l. ii. c. 4, p. 44) were capable, in the twelfth century, of inventing this extraordinary fact; they are incapable of explaining the motives and measures of Alfred; and their hasty notice serves only to provoke our curiosity. William of Malmesbury feels the difficulty of the enterprise, quod quivis in hoc saeculo miretur; and I almost suspect that the English ambassadors collected their cargo and legend in Egypt. The royal author has not enriched his Orosius (see Barrington's Miscellanies) with an Indian, as well as a Scandinavian, voyage. When the Portuguese first opened the navigation of India, the Christians of St. Thomas had been seated for ages on the coast of Malabar, and the difference of their character and color attested the mixture of a foreign race. In arms, in arts, and possibly in virtue, they excelled the natives of Hindostan; the husbandmen cultivated the palm-tree, the merchants were enriched by the pepper trade, the soldiers preceded the nairs or nobles of Malabar, and their hereditary privileges were respected by the gratitude or the fear of the king of Cochin and the Zamorin himself. They acknowledged a Gentoo of sovereign, but they were governed, even in temporal concerns, by the bishop of Angamala. He still asserted his ancient title of metropolitan of India, but his real jurisdiction was exercised in fourteen hundred churches, and he was intrusted with the care of two hundred thousand souls. Their religion would have rendered them the firmest and most cordial allies of the Portuguese; but the inquisitors soon discerned in the Christians of St. Thomas the unpardonable guilt of heresy and schism. Instead of owning themselves the subjects of the Roman pontiff, the spiritual and temporal monarch of the globe, they adhered, like their ancestors, to the communion of the Nestorian patriarch; and the bishops whom he ordained at Mosul, traversed the dangers of the sea and land to reach their diocese on the coast of Malabar. In their Syriac liturgy the names of Theodore and Nestorius were piously commemorated: they united their adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title of Mother of God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with scrupulous avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition of the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When her image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and their simple devotion was content with the veneration of the cross. Their separation from the Western world had left them in ignorance of the improvements, or corruptions, of a thousand years; and their conformity with the faith and practice of the fifth century would equally disappoint the prejudices of a Papist or a Protestant. It was the first care of the ministers of Rome to intercept all correspondence with the Nestorian patriarch, and several of his bishops expired in the prisons of the holy office.
The flock, without a shepherd, was assaulted by the power of the Portuguese, the arts of the Jesuits, and the zeal of Alexis de Menezes, archbishop of Goa, in his personal visitation of the coast of Malabar. The synod of Diamper, at which he presided, consummated the pious work of the reunion; and rigorously imposed the doctrine and discipline of the Roman church, without forgetting auricular confession, the strongest engine of ecclesiastical torture. The memory of Theodore and Nestorius was condemned, and Malabar was reduced under the dominion of the pope, of the primate, and of the Jesuits who invaded the see of Angamala or Cranganor. Sixty years of servitude and hypocrisy were patiently endured; but as soon as the Portuguese empire was shaken by the courage and industry of the Dutch, the Nestorians asserted, with vigor and effect, the religion of their fathers. The Jesuits were incapable of defending the power which they had abused; the arms of forty thousand Christians were pointed against their falling tyrants; and the Indian archdeacon assumed the character of bishop till a fresh supply of episcopal gifts and Syriac missionaries could be obtained from the patriarch of Babylon. Since the expulsion of the Portuguese, the Nestorian creed is freely professed on the coast of Malabar. The trading companies of Holland and England are the friends of toleration; but if oppression be less mortifying than contempt, the Christians of St. Thomas have reason to complain of the cold and silent indifference of their brethren of Europe.58675867 Concerning the Christians of St. Thomas, see Assemann. Bibliot Orient. tom. iv. p. 391—407, 435—451; Geddes's Church History of Malabar; and, above all, La Croze, Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, in 2 vols. 12mo., La Haye, 1758, a learned and agreeable work. They have drawn from the same source, the Portuguese and Italian narratives; and the prejudices of the Jesuits are sufficiently corrected by those of the Protestants. Note: The St. Thome Christians had excited great interest in the ancient mind of the admirable Bishop Heber. See his curious and, to his friends, highly characteristic letter to Mar Athanasius, Appendix to Journal. The arguments of his friend and coadjutor, Mr. Robinson, (Last Days of Bishop Heber,) have not convinced me that the Christianity of India is older than the Nestorian dispersion.—M
II. The history of the Monophysites is less copious and interesting than that of the Nestorians. Under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, their artful leaders surprised the ear of the prince, usurped the thrones of the East, and crushed on its native soil the school of the Syrians. The rule of the Monophysite faith was defined with exquisite discretion by Severus, patriarch of Antioch: he condemned, in the style of the Henoticon, the adverse heresies of Nestorius; and Eutyches maintained against the latter the reality of the body of Christ, and constrained the Greeks to allow that he was a liar who spoke truth.58685868 Is the expression of Theodore, in his Treatise of the Incarnation, p. 245, 247, as he is quoted by La Croze, (Hist. du Christianisme d'Ethiopie et d'Armenie, p. 35,) who exclaims, perhaps too hastily, "Quel pitoyable raisonnement!" Renaudot has touched (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 127—138) the Oriental accounts of Severus; and his authentic creed may be found in the epistle of John the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, in the xth century, to his brother Mannas of Alexandria, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 132—141.) But the approximation of ideas could not abate the vehemence of passion; each party was the more astonished that their blind antagonist could dispute on so trifling a difference; the tyrant of Syria enforced the belief of his creed, and his reign was polluted with the blood of three hundred and fifty monks, who were slain, not perhaps without provocation or resistance, under the walls of Apamea.58695869 Epist. Archimandritarum et Monachorum Syriae Secundae ad Papam Hormisdam, Concil. tom. v. p. 598—602. The courage of St. Sabas, ut leo animosus, will justify the suspicion that the arms of these monks were not always spiritual or defensive, (Baronius, A.D. 513, No. 7, &c.) The successor of Anastasius replanted the orthodox standard in the East; Severus fled into Egypt; and his friend, the eloquent Xenaias,58705870 Assemanni (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 10—46) and La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 36—40) will supply the history of Xenaias, or Philoxenus, bishop of Mabug, or Hierapolis, in Syria. He was a perfect master of the Syriac language, and the author or editor of a version of the New Testament. who had escaped from the Nestorians of Persia, was suffocated in his exile by the Melchites of Paphlagonia. Fifty-four bishops were swept from their thrones, eight hundred ecclesiastics were cast into prison,58715871 The names and titles of fifty-four bishops who were exiled by Justin, are preserved in the Chronicle of Dionysius, (apud Asseman. tom. ii. p. 54.) Severus was personally summoned to Constantinople—for his trial, says Liberatus (Brev. c. 19)—that his tongue might be cut out, says Evagrius, (l. iv. c. iv.) The prudent patriarch did not stay to examine the difference. This ecclesiastical revolution is fixed by Pagi to the month of September of the year 518, (Critica, tom. ii. p. 506.) and notwithstanding the ambiguous favor of Theodora, the Oriental flocks, deprived of their shepherds, must insensibly have been either famished or poisoned. In this spiritual distress, the expiring faction was revived, and united, and perpetuated, by the labors of a monk; and the name of James Baradaeus58725872 The obscure history of James or Jacobus Baradaeus, or Zanzalust may be gathered from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 144, 147,) Renau dot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 133,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 424, tom. ii. p. 62-69, 324—332, 414, tom. iii. p. 385—388.) He seems to be unknown to the Greeks. The Jacobites themselves had rather deduce their name and pedigree from St. James the apostle. has been preserved in the appellation of Jacobites, a familiar sound, which may startle the ear of an English reader. From the holy confessors in their prison of Constantinople, he received the powers of bishop of Edessa and apostle of the East, and the ordination of fourscore thousand bishops, priests, and deacons, is derived from the same inexhaustible source. The speed of the zealous missionary was promoted by the fleetest dromedaries of a devout chief of the Arabs; the doctrine and discipline of the Jacobites were secretly established in the dominions of Justinian; and each Jacobite was compelled to violate the laws and to hate the Roman legislator. The successors of Severus, while they lurked in convents or villages, while they sheltered their proscribed heads in the caverns of hermits, or the tents of the Saracens, still asserted, as they now assert, their indefeasible right to the title, the rank, and the prerogatives of patriarch of Antioch: under the milder yoke of the infidels, they reside about a league from Merdin, in the pleasant monastery of Zapharan, which they have embellished with cells, aqueducts, and plantations. The secondary, though honorable, place is filled by the maphrian, who, in his station at Mosul itself, defies the Nestorian catholic with whom he contests the primacy of the East. Under the patriarch and the maphrian, one hundred and fifty archbishops and bishops have been counted in the different ages of the Jacobite church; but the order of the hierarchy is relaxed or dissolved, and the greater part of their dioceses is confined to the neighborhood of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The cities of Aleppo and Amida, which are often visited by the patriarch, contain some wealthy merchants and industrious mechanics, but the multitude derive their scanty sustenance from their daily labor: and poverty, as well as superstition, may impose their excessive fasts: five annual lents, during which both the clergy and laity abstain not only from flesh or eggs, but even from the taste of wine, of oil, and of fish. Their present numbers are esteemed from fifty to fourscore thousand souls, the remnant of a populous church, which was gradually decreased under the impression of twelve centuries. Yet in that long period, some strangers of merit have been converted to the Monophysite faith, and a Jew was the father of Abulpharagius,58735873 The account of his person and writings is perhaps the most curious article in the Bibliotheca of Assemannus, (tom. ii. p. 244—321, under the name of Gregorius Bar-Hebroeus.) La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 53—63) ridicules the prejudice of the Spaniards against the Jewish blood which secretly defiles their church and state. primate of the East, so truly eminent both in his life and death. In his life he was an elegant writer of the Syriac and Arabic tongues, a poet, physician, and historian, a subtile philosopher, and a moderate divine. In his death, his funeral was attended by his rival the Nestorian patriarch, with a train of Greeks and Armenians, who forgot their disputes, and mingled their tears over the grave of an enemy. The sect which was honored by the virtues of Abulpharagius appears, however, to sink below the level of their Nestorian brethren. The superstition of the Jacobites is more abject, their fasts more rigid,58745874 This excessive abstinence is censured by La Croze, (p. 352,) and even by the Syrian Assemannus, (tom. i. p. 226, tom. ii. p. 304, 305.) their intestine divisions are more numerous, and their doctors (as far as I can measure the degrees of nonsense) are more remote from the precincts of reason. Something may possibly be allowed for the rigor of the Monophysite theology; much more for the superior influence of the monastic order. In Syria, in Egypt, in Ethiopia, the Jacobite monks have ever been distinguished by the austerity of their penance and the absurdity of their legends. Alive or dead, they are worshipped as the favorites of the Deity; the crosier of bishop and patriarch is reserved for their venerable hands; and they assume the government of men, while they are yet reeking with the habits and prejudices of the cloister.58755875 The state of the Monophysites is excellently illustrated in a dissertation at the beginning of the iid volume of Assemannus, which contains 142 pages. The Syriac Chronicle of Gregory Bar-Hebraeus, or Abulpharagius, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 321—463,) pursues the double series of the Nestorian Catholics and the Maphrians of the Jacobites.
III. In the style of the Oriental Christians, the Monothelites of every age are described under the appellation of Maronites,58765876 The synonymous use of the two words may be proved from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 191, 267, 332,) and many similar passages which may be found in the methodical table of Pocock. He was not actuated by any prejudice against the Maronites of the xth century; and we may believe a Melchite, whose testimony is confirmed by the Jacobites and Latins. a name which has been insensibly transferred from a hermit to a monastery, from a monastery to a nation. Maron, a saint or savage of the fifth century, displayed his religious madness in Syria; the rival cities of Apamea and Emesa disputed his relics, a stately church was erected on his tomb, and six hundred of his disciples united their solitary cells on the banks of the Orontes. In the controversies of the incarnation they nicely threaded the orthodox line between the sects of Nestorians and Eutyches; but the unfortunate question of one will or operation in the two natures of Christ, was generated by their curious leisure. Their proselyte, the emperor Heraclius, was rejected as a Maronite from the walls of Emesa, he found a refuge in the monastery of his brethren; and their theological lessons were repaid with the gift a spacious and wealthy domain. The name and doctrine of this venerable school were propagated among the Greeks and Syrians, and their zeal is expressed by Macarius, patriarch of Antioch, who declared before the synod of Constantinople, that sooner than subscribe the two wills of Christ, he would submit to be hewn piecemeal and cast into the sea.58775877 Concil. tom. vii. p. 780. The Monothelite cause was supported with firmness and subtilty by Constantine, a Syrian priest of Apamea, (p. 1040, &c.) A similar or a less cruel mode of persecution soon converted the unresisting subjects of the plain, while the glorious title of Mardaites,58785878 Theophanes (Chron. p. 295, 296, 300, 302, 306) and Cedrenus (p. 437, 440) relates the exploits of the Mardaites: the name (Mard, in Syriac, rebellavit) is explained by La Roque, (Voyage de la Syrie, tom. ii. p. 53;) and dates are fixed by Pagi, (A.D. 676, No. 4—14, A.D. 685, No. 3, 4;) and even the obscure story of the patriarch John Maron (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 496—520) illustrates from the year 686 to 707, the troubles of Mount Libanus. * Note: Compare on the Mardaites Anquetil du Perron, in the fiftieth volume of the Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions; and Schlosser, Bildersturmendes Kaiser, p. 100.—M or rebels, was bravely maintained by the hardy natives of Mount Libanus. John Maron, one of the most learned and popular of the monks, assumed the character of patriarch of Antioch; his nephew, Abraham, at the head of the Maronites, defended their civil and religious freedom against the tyrants of the East. The son of the orthodox Constantine pursued with pious hatred a people of soldiers, who might have stood the bulwark of his empire against the common foes of Christ and of Rome. An army of Greeks invaded Syria; the monastery of St. Maron was destroyed with fire; the bravest chieftains were betrayed and murdered, and twelve thousand of their followers were transplanted to the distant frontiers of Armenia and Thrace. Yet the humble nation of the Maronites had survived the empire of Constantinople, and they still enjoy, under their Turkish masters, a free religion and a mitigated servitude. Their domestic governors are chosen among the ancient nobility: the patriarch, in his monastery of Canobin, still fancies himself on the throne of Antioch: nine bishops compose his synod, and one hundred and fifty priests, who retain the liberty of marriage, are intrusted with the care of one hundred thousand souls. Their country extends from the ridge of Mount Libanus to the shores of Tripoli; and the gradual descent affords, in a narrow space, each variety of soil and climate, from the Holy Cedars, erect under the weight of snow,58795879 In the last century twenty large cedars still remained, (Voyage de la Roque, tom. i. p. 68—76;) at present they are reduced to four or five, (Volney, tom. i. p. 264.) These trees, so famous in Scripture, were guarded by excommunication: the wood was sparingly borrowed for small crosses, &c.; an annual mass was chanted under their shade; and they were endowed by the Syrians with a sensitive power of erecting their branches to repel the snow, to which Mount Libanus is less faithful than it is painted by Tacitus: inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus—a daring metaphor, (Hist. v. 6.) Note: Of the oldest and best looking trees, I counted eleven or twelve twenty-five very large ones; and about fifty of middling size; and more than three hundred smaller and young ones. Burckhardt's Travels in Syria p. 19.—M to the vine, the mulberry, and the olive-trees of the fruitful valley. In the twelfth century, the Maronites, abjuring the Monothelite error were reconciled to the Latin churches of Antioch and Rome,58805880 The evidence of William of Tyre (Hist. in Gestis Dei per Francos, l. xxii. c. 8, p. 1022) is copied or confirmed by Jacques de Vitra, (Hist. Hierosolym. l. ii. c. 77, p. 1093, 1094.) But this unnatural league expired with the power of the Franks; and Abulpharagius (who died in 1286) considers the Maronites as a sect of Monothelites, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 292.) and the same alliance has been frequently renewed by the ambition of the popes and the distress of the Syrians. But it may reasonably be questioned, whether their union has ever been perfect or sincere; and the learned Maronites of the college of Rome have vainly labored to absolve their ancestors from the guilt of heresy and schism.58815881 I find a description and history of the Maronites in the Voyage de la Syrie et du Mont Liban par la Roque, (2 vols. in 12mo., Amsterdam, 1723; particularly tom. i. p. 42—47, p. 174—184, tom. ii. p. 10—120.) In the ancient part, he copies the prejudices of Nairon and the other Maronites of Rome, which Assemannus is afraid to renounce and ashamed to support. Jablonski, (Institut. Hist. Christ. tom. iii. p. 186.) Niebuhr, (Voyage de l'Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 346, 370—381,) and, above all, the judicious Volney, (Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, tom. ii. p. 8—31, Paris, 1787,) may be consulted.
IV. Since the age of Constantine, the Armenians58825882 The religion of the Armenians is briefly described by La Croze, (Hist. du Christ. de l'Ethiopie et de l'Armenie, p. 269—402.) He refers to the great Armenian History of Galanus, (3 vols. in fol. Rome, 1650—1661,) and commends the state of Armenia in the iiid volume of the Nouveaux Memoires des Missions du Levant. The work of a Jesuit must have sterling merit when it is praised by La Croze. had signalized their attachment to the religion and empire of the Christians.58835883 See vol. iii. ch. xx. p. 271.—M. The disorders of their country, and their ignorance of the Greek tongue, prevented their clergy from assisting at the synod of Chalcedon, and they floated eighty-four years58845884 The schism of the Armenians is placed 84 years after the council of Chalcedon, (Pagi, Critica, ad A.D. 535.) It was consummated at the end of seventeen years; and it is from the year of Christ 552 that we date the aera of the Armenians, (L'Art de verifier les Dates, p. xxxv.) in a state of indifference or suspense, till their vacant faith was finally occupied by the missionaries of Julian of Halicarnassus,58855885 The sentiments and success of Julian of Halicarnassus may be seen in Liberatus, (Brev. c. 19,) Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 132, 303,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. Dissertat. Monophysitis, l. viii. p. 286.) who in Egypt, their common exile, had been vanquished by the arguments or the influence of his rival Severus, the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. The Armenians alone are the pure disciples of Eutyches, an unfortunate parent, who has been renounced by the greater part of his spiritual progeny. They alone persevere in the opinion, that the manhood of Christ was created, or existed without creation, of a divine and incorruptible substance. Their adversaries reproach them with the adoration of a phantom; and they retort the accusation, by deriding or execrating the blasphemy of the Jacobites, who impute to the Godhead the vile infirmities of the flesh, even the natural effects of nutrition and digestion. The religion of Armenia could not derive much glory from the learning or the power of its inhabitants. The royalty expired with the origin of their schism; and their Christian kings, who arose and fell in the thirteenth century on the confines of Cilicia, were the clients of the Latins and the vassals of the Turkish sultan of Iconium. The helpless nation has seldom been permitted to enjoy the tranquillity of servitude. From the earliest period to the present hour, Armenia has been the theatre of perpetual war: the lands between Tauris and Erivan were dispeopled by the cruel policy of the Sophis; and myriads of Christian families were transplanted, to perish or to propagate in the distant provinces of Persia. Under the rod of oppression, the zeal of the Armenians is fervent and intrepid; they have often preferred the crown of martyrdom to the white turban of Mahomet; they devoutly hate the error and idolatry of the Greeks; and their transient union with the Latins is not less devoid of truth, than the thousand bishops, whom their patriarch offered at the feet of the Roman pontiff.58865886 See a remarkable fact of the xiith century in the History of Nicetas Choniates, (p. 258.) Yet three hundred years before, Photius (Epistol. ii. p. 49, edit. Montacut.) had gloried in the conversion of the Armenians. The catholic, or patriarch, of the Armenians resides in the monastery of Ekmiasin, three leagues from Erivan. Forty-seven archbishops, each of whom may claim the obedience of four or five suffragans, are consecrated by his hand; but the far greater part are only titular prelates, who dignify with their presence and service the simplicity of his court. As soon as they have performed the liturgy, they cultivate the garden; and our bishops will hear with surprise, that the austerity of their life increases in just proportion to the elevation of their rank.
In the fourscore thousand towns or villages of his spiritual empire, the patriarch receives a small and voluntary tax from each person above the age of fifteen; but the annual amount of six hundred thousand crowns is insufficient to supply the incessant demands of charity and tribute. Since the beginning of the last century, the Armenians have obtained a large and lucrative share of the commerce of the East: in their return from Europe, the caravan usually halts in the neighborhood of Erivan, the altars are enriched with the fruits of their patient industry; and the faith of Eutyches is preached in their recent congregations of Barbary and Poland.58875887 The travelling Armenians are in the way of every traveller, and their mother church is on the high road between Constantinople and Ispahan; for their present state, see Fabricius, (Lux Evangelii, &c., c. xxxviii. p. 40—51,) Olearius, (l. iv. c. 40,) Chardin, (vol. ii. p. 232,) Teurnefort, (lettre xx.,) and, above all, Tavernier, (tom. i. p. 28—37, 510-518,) that rambling jeweller, who had read nothing, but had seen so much and so well
V. In the rest of the Roman empire, the despotism of the prince might eradicate or silence the sectaries of an obnoxious creed. But the stubborn temper of the Egyptians maintained their opposition to the synod of Chalcedon, and the policy of Justinian condescended to expect and to seize the opportunity of discord. The Monophysite church of Alexandria58885888 The history of the Alexandrian patriarchs, from Dioscorus to Benjamin, is taken from Renaudot, (p. 114—164,) and the second tome of the Annals of Eutychius. was torn by the disputes of the corruptibles and incorruptibles, and on the death of the patriarch, the two factions upheld their respective candidates.58895889 Liberat. Brev. c. 20, 23. Victor. Chron. p. 329 330. Procop. Anecdot. c. 26, 27. Gaian was the disciple of Julian, Theodosius had been the pupil of Severus: the claims of the former were supported by the consent of the monks and senators, the city and the province; the latter depended on the priority of his ordination, the favor of the empress Theodora, and the arms of the eunuch Narses, which might have been used in more honorable warfare. The exile of the popular candidate to Carthage and Sardinia inflamed the ferment of Alexandria; and after a schism of one hundred and seventy years, the Gaianites still revered the memory and doctrine of their founder. The strength of numbers and of discipline was tried in a desperate and bloody conflict; the streets were filled with the dead bodies of citizens and soldiers; the pious women, ascending the roofs of their houses, showered down every sharp or ponderous utensil on the heads of the enemy; and the final victory of Narses was owing to the flames, with which he wasted the third capital of the Roman world. But the lieutenant of Justinian had not conquered in the cause of a heretic; Theodosius himself was speedily, though gently, removed; and Paul of Tanis, an orthodox monk, was raised to the throne of Athanasius. The powers of government were strained in his support; he might appoint or displace the dukes and tribunes of Egypt; the allowance of bread, which Diocletian had granted, was suppressed, the churches were shut, and a nation of schismatics was deprived at once of their spiritual and carnal food. In his turn, the tyrant was excommunicated by the zeal and revenge of the people: and none except his servile Melchites would salute him as a man, a Christian, or a bishop. Yet such is the blindness of ambition, that, when Paul was expelled on a charge of murder, he solicited, with a bribe of seven hundred pounds of gold, his restoration to the same station of hatred and ignominy. His successor Apollinaris entered the hostile city in military array, alike qualified for prayer or for battle. His troops, under arms, were distributed through the streets; the gates of the cathedral were guarded, and a chosen band was stationed in the choir, to defend the person of their chief. He stood erect on his throne, and, throwing aside the upper garment of a warrior, suddenly appeared before the eyes of the multitude in the robes of patriarch of Alexandria. Astonishment held them mute; but no sooner had Apollinaris begun to read the tome of St. Leo, than a volley of curses, and invectives, and stones, assaulted the odious minister of the emperor and the synod. A charge was instantly sounded by the successor of the apostles; the soldiers waded to their knees in blood; and two hundred thousand Christians are said to have fallen by the sword: an incredible account, even if it be extended from the slaughter of a day to the eighteen years of the reign of Apollinaris. Two succeeding patriarchs, Eulogius58905890 Eulogius, who had been a monk of Antioch, was more conspicuous for subtilty than eloquence. He proves that the enemies of the faith, the Gaianites and Theodosians, ought not to be reconciled; that the same proposition may be orthodox in the mouth of St. Cyril, heretical in that of Severus; that the opposite assertions of St. Leo are equally true, &c. His writings are no longer extant except in the Extracts of Photius, who had perused them with care and satisfaction, ccviii. ccxxv. ccxxvi. ccxxvii. ccxxx. cclxxx. and John,58915891 See the Life of John the eleemosynary by his contemporary Leontius, bishop of Neapolis in Cyrus, whose Greek text, either lost or hidden, is reflected in the Latin version of Baronius, (A.D. 610, No.9, A.D. 620, No. 8.) Pagi (Critica, tom. ii. p. 763) and Fabricius (l. v c. 11, tom. vii. p. 454) have made some critical observations labored in the conversion of heretics, with arms and arguments more worthy of their evangelical profession. The theological knowledge of Eulogius was displayed in many a volume, which magnified the errors of Eutyches and Severus, and attempted to reconcile the ambiguous language of St. Cyril with the orthodox creed of Pope Leo and the fathers of Chalcedon. The bounteous alms of John the eleemosynary were dictated by superstition, or benevolence, or policy. Seven thousand five hundred poor were maintained at his expense; on his accession he found eight thousand pounds of gold in the treasury of the church; he collected ten thousand from the liberality of the faithful; yet the primate could boast in his testament, that he left behind him no more than the third part of the smallest of the silver coins. The churches of Alexandria were delivered to the Catholics, the religion of the Monophysites was proscribed in Egypt, and a law was revived which excluded the natives from the honors and emoluments of the state.
|« Prev||Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part V.||Next »|