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many to them."*
predecessors, about ecclesiastical discipline, but he added
“ Justinian,” says Gibbon, in summing up his character and reign,“ has been already seen in the various lights of a prince, a conqueror, and a lawgiver: the theologian still remains, and it affords an unfavourable prejudice, that his theology should form a very prominent feature of his portrait. The sovereign sympathized with his subjects in their superstitious reverence for living and departed saints ; his code, and more especially his novels, confirm and enlarge the privileges of the clergy; and in every dispute between the monk and the layman, the partial judge was inclined to pronounce, that truth, and innocence, and justice are always on the side of the church. In his public and private devotions, the emperor was assiduous and exemplary; his prayers, vigils, and fasts displayed the austere penance of a monk, his fancy was amused by the hope, or belief, of personal inspiration ; he had secured the patronage of the virgin, and St. Michael the archangel; and his recovery from a dangerous disease was ascribed to the miraculous succour of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian. The capital and the provinces of the East were decorated with the monuments of his religion ; and, though the far greater part of these costly structures may be attributed to his taste or ostentation, the zeal of the royal architect was probably quickened by a genuine sense of love and gratitude towards his invisible benefactors. Among the titles of imperial greatness, the name of Pious was most pleasing to his ear; to promote the temporal and spiritual interest of the church, was the serious business of his life ; and the duty of father of his country was often sacrificed to that of defender of the faith. While the barbarians invaded the provinces, while the victorious legions marched under the banners of Bellisarius and Narses, the successor of Trajan, unknown to the camp, was content to vanquish at the head of a synod.
“ Toleration was not the virtue of the times, and indulgence to rebels has seldom been the virtue of princes. But when the prince descends to the narrow and peevish character of a disputant, he is easily provoked to supply the defect of argument by the plenitude of power, and to chastise without mercy the perverse blindness of those who wilfully shut their eyes against the light of demonstration. The reign of Justinian was an uniform yet various scene of PERSECUTION; and he appears to have surpassed his indolent predecessors, both in the contrivance of his laws and rigour of their EXECUTION. The insufficient term of three months was assigned for the conversion or exile of all heretics; and if he still connived at their precarious stay, they were deprived, under his iron yoke, not only of the benefits of society, but of the common birthright of men and Christians.”*
* Cent. vi. vol. v. p. 37.
From this evidence, it appears that never did prince meddle so much with the affairs of the church, as did the Emperor Justinian; that he esteemed it a duty to defend the faith of the church, and to employ the civil laws and temporal power ; that he confirmed and enlarged the privileges of the clergy ; and that his reign was an uniform yet various scene of persecution, &c.
Such was the man who, perhaps more than any other, may be said to have given the church into the hands of the pope. Though more ambitious of vanquishing at the head of a synod than at the head of an army, he owned and maintained the
of the pope, expressed his devotion to the Roman see, and subjected and united to his holiness all the priests of the whole east. But the supremacy of the pope was not then confined to the east.
Under the same date, in the age of Justinian, it is recorded by Gibbon,
“ The perseverance of the popes insensibly transferred to their adversaries the appellation of schismatics; the Illyrian, African, and Italian churches were oppressed by the civil and ecclesiastical powers, not without some effort of military force; the distant barbarians TRANSCRIBED THE CREED OF THE VATICAN.”+
In the answer of the pope to the epistle of Justinian, previously quoted, he declares, that, among the virtues of the emperor, 66 one shines as a star,
his verence for the apostolic chair, to which he has subjected and united all the churches, it being truly the
• Gibbon's Hist. vol. viii. pp. 321-324.
head of all.” Though the emperor's epistle was dated in 533, yet in it he states, that he not only did, but always had rendered honour to the apostolic chair, and honoured his holiness as a father. Here we would only submit a few historical facts and dates to the reader, and leave it to his determination whether there be not a rational presumption that the twelve hundred and sixty years, during which period the church was given into the hands of the pope, did not commence in the reign of Justinian, while their termination was correspondingly marked by the French Revolution, which, alike rejecting every form of faith, broke the charm by which popery had spell-bound the nations, when infidelity, armed with power, first assumed an active form, and, becoming the scourge of superstition, unconsciously avenged the blood of the saints, and, while disavowing every form of faith, proclaimed religious toleration, unknown among Roman Catholics since the days of Justinian.
Justinian ascended the imperial throne in the year 527. In the year 529 the Code of Justinian was published, and the order of Benedictine monks, afterwards the most extensive and influential in Christendom, was instituted. The new CODE of Justinian was honoured with his name, and confirmed by his royal signature; authentic transcripts were multiplied
of notaries and scribes; they were transmitted to the magistrates of the European, the Asiatic, and afterwards the African provinces ; and “the law of the empire was proclaimed on solemn festivals at the doors of churches.99* Twelve hundred and sixty years subsequently to the first publication of the Code of Justinian, the French Revolution began in 1789, and before the close of that year it was decreed
* Gibbon's Hist. vol. viii. p. 38, C. 44.
“ that the estates of the church were at the disposal of the nation."*
The PANDECTS, or digest, were composed from the 15th December, A. D. 530, to December 16, A. D. 533, in which year the INSTITUTES were also published. In the year 1790, or twelve hundred and sixty years subsequent to the former of these dates, (before which time the code of Justinian could scarcely have been proclaimed throughout all the Roman empire,) “ the Assembly had determined, that, all prejudices apart, the property of the church should come under confiscation for the benefit of the nation, and decreed the assumption of the church lands. A motion was made for decreeing that the holy and apostolical religion was that of France, and that its worship alone should be permitted; but all who favoured it were insulted, beat, and maltreated by a large and furious multitude, and it was withdrawn in terror and despair. Any experiment on the church might be tried with effect, since the religion which it taught seemed NO LONGER to interest the national legislators. A civil institution was framed for the clergy, declaring them TOTALLY INDEPENDENT OF THE SEE of Rome, and vesting the choice of bishops in the departmental authorities. To this constitution each priest and prelate was required to adhere by a solemn oath. A subsequent decree of the Assembly declared forfeiture of his benefice against whomsoever should hesitate.”+
About four thousand five hundred religious houses were suppressed in France in the same year, 1790.
An incident recorded in the Memoirs of Lavalette supplies a curious, if not striking, illustration, as a note of the time.
“ The events that preceded the grand drama of 1789 took me by surprise in the midst of my books and my love of study. I was then reading · L'Esprit de Lois,' a work that charmed me by its gravity, depth, and sublimity. I wished also to become acquainted with the code of our own laws; but Dommanget, to whom I mentioned my desire, laughed, and pointed to the Justinian Code, the common law code of the kingdom,” &c.* “ I thought I should do well to unite, with the meditations of my closet, the observation of those scenes of disorder which were the harbingers of the revolution.”+ In the
* London Annual Register, 1791, p. 68.
+ Sir Walter Scott's Life of Napoleon, vol. i. pp. 221–224. Annual Register, ib. p. 101.
Brewster's Encycl. vol. vi. p. 455. Chron. Table, 1790.
533 the INSTITUTES of Justinian were published. “ The Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes, were declared to be the legitimate system of civil jurisprudence; they alone were admitted in the tribunals, and they alone were taught in the academies of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus.”ť And in the same year, in the case of an appeal by the emperor to the ecclesiastical decision of the pope, (which itself implies the supremacy of the pontiff,) he addressed the pope as the HEAD OF ALL THE HOLY CHURCHES. "And as the recognition of the supremacy of the pope seemed thus to be complete in the year 533, on the part of the emperor who put the power into his hands, so, in like rapid and yet graduated progress, with the same appointed space intervening, the dominion of the papacy was destroyed and disannulled in that kingdom which had been its chief stay for ages, in the
power was wholly taken out of the hands of the pope, and infidelity, or rather athiesm, was proclaimed, and popery abolished.
“ The churches were in most districts of France closed against priests and worshippers—the bells were broken, and cast into cannon-and the whole ecclesiastical establishment destroyed." The
papacy was to wear out the saints of the Most High for twelve hundred and sixty years; and the judgment was to sit and consume and destroy it un
* Lavalette's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 4. + Ib. p. 5. I Gibbon's Hist. vol. viii. p. 39, c. 44. $ Scott's Life of Napoleon, vol. ii. p. 306.