Page images

ned themselves to ecclesiastical affairs, but now they began to act as temporal princes; a considerable alteration also had gradually taken place among all their teachers of religion. The clergy, who in former periods, were generally learned and virtuous, now became ignorant, and in many cases dissolute. The monks were generally strict in their morals; and so great was the virtue attached to this mode of life, that several kings and princes resigned their dominions and retired to the monasteries; others on their death-beds desired to be clad in the habiliments of the monks, vainly supposing that such a dress would render them acceptable to God.

In A. D. 800, Charlemagne raised himself to the throne of the Western Empire, and thus reestablished a kingdom which had been overthrown more than three hundred years.

There had long existed a rivalry between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople. These difficulties in the ninth century led to a separation of the Greek and Latin churches, tho they still continued to have some intercourse together. In the Eastern Empire the controversy about image worship continued to reign. At one time the emperor being opposed to image worship would order the images to be destroyed, and their advocates to be deposed and banished; but on the accession of another emperor the images would be replaced, and the bishops recalled and placed in their proper sees. These controversies serve to show the spirit and folly of the times We also find that a majority of the bishops are always on the side of the reigning prince, which shows the hypocrisy which some were disposed to practise.

The ninth century is remarkable for the increase of the clergy in wealth and power. One great source of their wealth and influence arose from attaching undue importance to the ordinances. Baptism and communion

were considered absolutely necessary for salvation. Any person, therefore, who was excommunicated, cousidered himself cut off from eternal happiness. The civil magistrates, and even kings and princes, would in many cases yield to the bishops, to prevent an excommunication, that is, as they understood it, to prevent being excluded from endless bliss.

The civil rulers had generally dictated faith to the clergy, but now the clergy began to dictate faith to the rulers. And with the increase of their power, the wickedness of the clergy always keeps a pace. The bishops were forbidden to marry, and this led to the greatest dissoluteness of manners, and to every clandestine species of sensuality. This remark however applies to the higher orders of the clergy, more especially; the low order were generally poor and virtuous.

But as great as was the power of the bishops generally, they were all greatly surpassed by the pope, that is, the bishop of the Roman see. These popes began in this period to absolve men from obligations and oaths they had taken, pretending that they were the successors of St. Peter, to whom such power was given by Christ.

In a civil point of view, the western empire was in the ninth century in a state of perpetual fluctuation. The Saracens, the Normans, the Danes and the Huns were constantly spreading terror and devastation through the empire. They frequently fell upon the churches and monasteries, and plundered them, loading themselves with spoil.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, the greatest disturbances existed at Rome on the elections of the popes. Even the popes who were elected by the people at one time, would be deposed by the multitude soon after. The popes at this time were generally monsters of cryelty and ambition.

In the eleventh century the popes had several tremendous contests with the sovereigns of the day. The king of Germany and the pope for several years carried on a most destructive warfare, which involved a great part of Europe in the contest. This however was a contest for power, and not for religious faith. The popes at this time did not consider themselves temporal princes, but contended that they, by the authority of St. Peter and St. Paul, at the head of whose church they presided, possessed a power as much greater than earthly princes as the heavens are higher than the earth, or God is greater than man.

Many of the bishops as well as princes protested against this usurpation of power by the popes. Morality in this period became almost extinct; nor were the clergy free from the pollutions of vice. The bishoprics had become sources of wealth and power, and the greatest fraud was practised to obtain them. Celibacy, which was enjoined upon the clergy, only gave rise to unlawful indulgences, and so disgraced the religion it professed to protect.

Among the most virtuous of the clergy were many of the monks who secluded themselves from the world. Some of these superstitious persons practised the greatest austerities; such as sleeping only one hour in twentyfour, eating but once or twice a week, repeating psalms incessantly, from morning till evening, whipping themselves with rods, &c.

In the eleventh century, there arose a sect of the Manicheans, who insisted upon moral virtue, and rejected the ordinances; but they were cruelly persecuted, and many burnt at the stake. A controversy also arose in this century respecting the elements of the eucharist, when it was finally settled that the bread and the wine were by consecration converted into the literal body and


blood of Christ. Thus the absurd doctrine of transsubstantiation was permanently established by the Catholic church.

But the most remarkable event in this period, was the Crusade, or an expedition undertaken to recover Jerusalem and Palestine from the Mahometans. Altho the western churches and princes were at variance with each other, they all united in this expedition. As this is called a holy war, it properly deserves a place in this history. The pope, to fill the ranks of the army, offered absolution to all who would enlist. So great was the zeal in this undertaking, that it is said that women garbed themselves in men's attire and joined the army. Many women and children also followed as pilgrims to the holy land. In this disgraceful expedition, it is said that including women, six hundred thousand embarked. With this force Antioch, Jerusalem, and several other places were taken from the Mahometans. This happened in 1099. Here we shall close this number, and resume this subject in our next. C. H.




Middlebury, June 2, 1827.

Altho a stranger to you, I have procured a few religious tracts, and take the liberty to send them to you, for your perusal. It is upon the tongue of every one, that they desire to believe the pure revelation of God to But the use which many make of Heaven's best gift to men, plainly corroborates the truth that "men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." The love of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the Justs of the eye, and the pride of the heart are predominant over the restraints of education, and a sense of

right. Every one who has seen his heart to be "deceitful, and desperately wicked," and has (in the language of Moses) accepted of the punishment of his sins, and has renounced the world, and self, and devoted himself really to the service of the Great Head of the church, will understand the language of inspiration, where it says of man, "who drinketh in iniquity like water,” and he will confess this is a true representation of his character, until he through grace gave up his enmity and hatred to God, and accented of Him who was pierced for his sins. And how many there are, who in the honesty and sincerity of their souls, confess that they were "the children of their father the devil," and honestly will own that unless they have imbibed the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are none of his. My dear friend, when I address you, I feel that as it respects education, and undoubtedly many other things, I am addressing a superior. But I do hope you will accept of this hasty line from one who wishes well to the cause of his Divine Master and who hopes to be delivered from the inexcusable and deep rooted corruptions of his evil heart, through faith in the blood of Christ, and to be the instrument of the deliverance of many others from a voluntary slavery to satan and to sin. And believing that should you after many years preaching never open the awful. corruptions of the natural man's heart, so as to lead men to feel and to repent as men did in primitive times; and that should you at least prove to be (see 2 Tim. iv. 3, 4, 2 Peter iii. 16, Jer. xxiii. 28, 29,) the means of no sound conversions, (but of healing many wounds slightly) but by preaching smooth things, and prophesying so as to gain the love of carnal, sinful, prayerless men, and so help men to fill the measure of their iniquities, and to prepare themselves to be cast out as the rubbish from the presence of God and all holy things, that your account

« PreviousContinue »