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Title: A Treatise on Relics
Author: Calvin, John, 1509-1564
Language: English
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                           A Treatise on Relics

                                    By

                               John Calvin

                   Translated from the French Original

                                 With An

                        Introductory Dissertation

  On the Miraculous Images, as Well as Other Superstitions, of the Roman
                    Catholic and Russo-Greek Churches.

                               By the Late

                        Count Valerian Krasinski,

     Author of “The Religious History of the Slavonic Nations,” etc.

                             Second Edition.

                                Edinburgh:

                         Johnstone, Hunter & Co.

                                   1870



CONTENTS


Preface.
Preface To The Second Edition.
Introductory Dissertation.
   Chapter I. Origin Of The Worship Of Relics And Images In The Christian
   Church.
   Chapter II. Compromise Of The Church With Paganism.
   Chapter III. Position Of The First Christian Emperors Towards Paganism,
   And Their Policy In This Respect.
   Chapter IV. Infection Of The Christian Church By Pagan Ideas And
   Practices During The Fourth And Fifth Centuries.
   Chapter V. Reaction Against The Worship Of Images And Other
   Superstitious Practices By The Iconoclast Emperors Of The East.
   Chapter VI. Origin And Development Of The Pious Legends, Or Lives Of
   Saints, During The Middle Ages.
   Chapter VII. Analysis Of The Pagan Rites And Practices Which Have Been
   Retained By The Roman Catholic As Well As The Græco-Russian Church.
   Chapter VIII. Image-Worship And Other Superstitious Practices Of The
   Graeco-Russian Church.
Calvin’s Treatise On Relics, With Notes By The Translator.
Postscript.
List Of Works Published By Johnstone, Hunter, & Co., Edinburgh.
Footnotes



PREFACE.


The Treatise on Relics by the great Reformer of Geneva is not so generally
known as it deserves, though at the time of its publication it enjoyed a
considerable popularity.(1) The probable reason of this is: the absurdity
of the relics described in the Treatise has since the Reformation
gradually become so obvious, that their exhibitors make as little noise as
possible about their miraculous wares, whose virtues are no longer
believed except by the most ignorant part of the population of countries
wherein the education of the inferior classes is neglected. And, indeed,
not only Protestants, but many enlightened Roman Catholics believed that
all the miracles of relics, images, and other superstitions with which
Christianity were infected during the times of mediæval ignorance would be
soon, by the progress of knowledge, consigned for ever to the oblivion of
the dark ages, and only recorded in the history of the aberrations of the
human mind, together with the superstitions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and
Rome. Unfortunately these hopes have not been realised, and are still
remaining amongst the _pia desideria_. The Roman Catholic reaction, which
commenced about half a century ago by works of a philosophical nature,
adapted to the wants of the most intellectual classes of society, has,
emboldened by success, gradually assumed a more and more material
tendency, and at length has begun to manifest itself by such results as
the exhibition of the holy coat at Treves, which produced a great noise
over all Germany,(2) the apparition of the Virgin at La Salette, the
winking Madonna of Rimini, and, what is perhaps more important than all,
the solemn installation of the relics of St Theodosia at Amiens; whilst
works of a description similar to the Life of St Francis of Assisi, by M.
Chavin de Malan, and the Lives of the English Saints, which I have
considerable talent and learning. These are significant facts, and prove,
at all events, that in spite of the progress of intellect and knowledge,
which is the boast of our century, we seem to be fast returning to a state
of things similar to the time when Calvin wrote his Treatise. I therefore
believe that its reproduction in a new English translation will not be out
of date.

On the other side, the politico-religious system of aggression followed by
Russia has now taken such a rapid development, that the dangers which
threaten the liberties and civilization of Europe from that quarter have
become more imminent than those which may be apprehended from the Roman
Catholic reaction. Fortunately England and France have taken up arms
against the impious crusade proclaimed by the Imperial Pope of Russia. I
think that the term _impious_, which I am advisedly using on this
occasion, is by no means exaggerated; because, how can we otherwise
designate the proceedings adopted by the Czar for exciting the religious
fanaticism of the Russians, as, for instance, the letter of the Archbishop
of Georgia, addressed to that of Moscow, and published in the official
Gazette of St Petersburg, stating, on the authority of the Russian
General, Prince Bagration Mukhranski, that during an engagement between
the Russians and the Turks, which recently took place in Asia, the Blessed
Virgin appeared in the air and frightened the Turks to such a degree that
they took to flight!(3) I have developed this subject in the last chapter
of my Introduction, in order to show my readers the religious condition of
the Russian people, because I think that without it a knowledge of the
policy now followed by their Government cannot be well understood, or its
consequences fully appreciated.

EDINBURGH, _May 1854_.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.


The valuable Dissertation which forms such a fitting commentary upon John
Calvin’s Treatise on Relics, was written by the late lamented author on
the eve of the Crimean War, in 1854. It has been out of print for several
years, but in these days of Popish assumption and claims to Infallibility,
it has been thought that a new edition would prove acceptable, and be
found useful in directing attention to the mummeries and absurdities
engrafted on the True Christian Faith, by the false and corrupt Church of
Rome.

EDINBURGH, _January 1870_.



INTRODUCTORY DISSERTATION.



Chapter I. Origin Of The Worship Of Relics And Images In The Christian
Church.


Hero-worship is innate to human nature, and it is founded on some of our
noblest feelings,—gratitude, love, and admiration.—but which, like all
other feelings, when uncontrolled by principle and reason, may easily
degenerate into the wildest exaggerations, and lead to most dangerous
consequences. It was by such an exaggeration of these noble feelings that
Paganism filled the Olympus with gods and demigods,—elevating to this rank
men who have often deserved the gratitude of their fellow-creatures, by
some signal services rendered to the community, or their admiration, by
having performed some deeds which required a more than usual degree of
mental and physical powers. The same cause obtained for the Christian
martyrs the gratitude and admiration of their fellow-Christians, and
finally converted them into a kind of demigods. This was more particularly
the case when the church began to be corrupted by her compromise with
Paganism, which having been baptized without being converted, rapidly
introduced into the Christian church, not only many of its rites and
ceremonies, but even its polytheism, with this difference, that the
divinities of Greece and Rome were replaced by Christian saints, many of
whom received the offices of their Pagan predecessors.(4) The church in
the beginning tolerated these abuses, as a temporary evil, but was
afterwards unable to remove them; and they became so strong, particularly
during the prevailing ignorance of the middle ages, that the church ended
by legalising, through her decrees, that at which she did nothing but wink
at first. I shall endeavour to give my readers a rapid sketch of the rise,
progress, and final establishment of the Pagan practices which not only
continue to prevail in the Western as well as in the Eastern church, but
have been of late, notwithstanding the boasted progress of intellect in
our days, manifested in as bold as successful a manner.

Nothing, indeed, can be more deserving of our admiration than the conduct
of the Christian martyrs, who cheerfully submitted to an ignominious
death, inflicted by the most atrocious torments, rather than deny their
faith even by the mere performance of an apparently insignificant rite of
Paganism. Their persecutors were often affected by seeing examples of an
heroic fortitude, such as they admired in a Scævola or a Regulus,
displayed not only by men, but by women, and even children, and became
converted to a faith which could inspire its confessors with such a
devotion to its tenets. It has been justly said that the blood of the
martyrs was the glory and the seed of the church, because the constancy of
her confessors has, perhaps, given her more converts than the eloquence
and learning of her doctors. It was, therefore, very natural that the
memory of those noble champions of Christianity should be held in great
veneration by their brethren in the faith. The bodies of the martyrs, or
their remnants, were always, whenever it was possible, purchased from
their judges or executioners, and decently buried by the Christians. The
day on which the martyr had suffered was generally marked in the registers
of his church, in order to commemorate this glorious event on its
anniversaries. These commemorations usually consisted in the eulogy of the
martyr, delivered in an assembly of the church, for the edification of the
faithful, the strengthening of the weak, and the stimulating of the
lukewarm, by setting before them the noble example of the above-mentioned
martyr. It was very natural that the objects of the commemoration received
on such an occasion the greatest praises, not unfrequently expressed in
the most exaggerated terms, but there was no question about invoking the
aid or intercession of the confessors whose example was thus held out for
the imitation of the church.

We know from the Acts that neither St Stephen, the first Christian martyr,
nor St James, who was killed by Herod, were invoked in any manner by the
apostolic church, because, had this been the case, the inspired writer of
this first record of the ancient church would not have omitted such an
important circumstance, having mentioned facts of much lesser consequence.
Had such a practice been in conformity with the apostolic doctrine, it
would have certainly been brought forward in the epistles of St Paul, or
in those of other apostles. There is also sufficient evidence that the
fathers of the primitive church knew nothing of the invocation, or any
other kind of worship rendered to departed saints. The limits of this
essay allow me not to adduce evidences of this fact, which may be
abundantly drawn from the writings of those fathers, and I shall content
myself with the following few but conclusive instances of this kind.

St Clement, bishop of Rome, who is supposed to have been instituted by St
Paul, and to be the same of whom he speaks in his Epistle to the
Philippians iv. 3, addressed a letter to the Corinthians on account of
certain dissensions by which their church was disturbed. He recommends to
them, with great praises, the Epistles of St Paul, who had suffered
martyrdom under Nero, but he does not say a word about invoking the aid or
intercession of the martyr, who was the founder of their church, and which
would have been most suitable on that occasion, if such a practice had
already been admitted by the Christians of his time. On the contrary, he
prays God for them, “_because it is He who gives to the soul that invokes
Him, faith, grace, peace, patience, and wisdom_.” St Polycarp, bishop of
Smyrna, who lived in the second century, addressed a letter to the
Philippians, but he says nothing in it to recommend the invocation of St
Paul, who was the founder of their church, and as such would have been
considered as its patron saint, had the worship of the saints been at that
time already introduced amongst the Christians. The most important and
positive proof that the primitive Christians, not only did not pay any
adoration to the martyrs, but decidedly rejected it, is the epistle which
was issued by the church of Smyrna after the martyrdom of its bishop, whom
I have just mentioned. It states that the Pagans had, at the instigation
of the Jews, closely watched the Christians, imagining that they would
endeavour to carry away the ashes of Polycarp in order to worship him
after his death, because these idolaters knew not that the Christians
cannot abandon Jesus Christ, _or worship any one else_. “_We worship_,”
says the same document, “_Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God_; but with
regard to the martyrs, the disciples of Christ and imitators of his
virtues, _we love them, as they deserve it, on account of the
unconquerable love which they had for their Master and King; and would to
God that we should become their disciples and partakers of their zeal_.”

I could multiply proofs of this kind without end, but I shall only
observe, that even in the fourth century the orthodox Christians
considered the worship of every created being as idolatry, because the
opponents of the Arians, who considered Jesus Christ as created and not
co-essential with God the Father, employed the following argument to
combat this dogma:—“If you consider Jesus Christ a created being, you
commit idolatry by worshipping him.”

Admiration is, however, akin to adoration, and it was no wonder that those
whose memory was constantly praised, and frequently in the most
exaggerated terms, gradually began to be considered as something more than
simple mortals, and treated accordingly. It was also very natural that
various objects which had belonged to the martyrs were carefully preserved
as interesting mementoes, since it is continually done with persons who
have acquired some kind of celebrity, and that this should be the case
with their bodies, which have often been embalmed. It is, however,
impossible, as Calvin has justly observed,(5) to preserve such objects
without honouring them in a certain manner, and this must soon degenerate
into adoration. This was the origin of the worship of relics, which went
on increasing in the same ratio as the purity of Christian doctrines was
giving way to the superstitions of Paganism.

The worship of images is intimately connected with that of the saints.
They were rejected by the primitive Christians; but St Irenæus, who lived
in the second century, relates that there was a sect of heretics, the
Carpocratians, who worshipped, in the manner of Pagans, different images
representing Jesus Christ, St Paul, and others. The Gnostics had also
images; but the church rejected their use in a positive manner, and a
Christian writer of the third century, Minutius Felix, says that “the
Pagans reproached the Christians for having neither temples nor
simulachres;” and I could quote many other evidences that the primitive
Christians entertained a great horror against every kind of images,
considering them as the work of demons.

It appears, however, that the use of pictures was creeping into the church
already in the third century, because the council of Elvira in Spain, held
in 305, especially forbids to have any picture in the Christian churches.
These pictures were generally representations of some events, either of
the New or of the Old Testament, and their object was to instruct the
common and illiterate people in sacred history, whilst others were
emblems, representing some ideas connected with the doctrines of
Christianity. It was certainly a powerful means of producing an impression
upon the senses and the imagination of the vulgar, who believe without
reasoning, and admit without reflection; it was also the most easy way of
converting rude and ignorant nations, because, looking constantly on the
representations of some fact, people usually end by believing it. This
iconographic teaching was, therefore, recommended by the rulers of the
church, as being useful to the ignorant, who had only the understanding of
eyes, and could not read writings.(6) Such a practice was, however,
fraught with the greatest danger, as experience has but too much proved.
It was replacing intellect by sight.(7) Instead of elevating man towards
God, it was bringing down the Deity to the level of his finite intellect,
and it could not but powerfully contribute to the rapid spread of a pagan
anthropomorphism in the church.

There was also another cause which seems to have greatly contributed to
the propagation of the abovementioned anthropomorphism amongst the
Christians, namely, the contemplative life of the hermits, particularly of
those who inhabited the burning deserts of Egypt. It has been observed of
these monks, by Zimmerman, in his celebrated work on Solitude, that “men
of extraordinary characters, and actuated by strange and uncommon
passions, have shrunk from the pleasures of the world into joyless gloom
and desolation. In savage and dreary deserts they have lived a solitary
and destitute life, subjecting themselves to voluntary self-denials and
mortifications almost incredible; sometimes exposed in nakedness to the
chilling blasts of the winter cold, or the scorching breath of summer’s
heat, till their brains, distempered by the joint operation of tortured
senses and overstrained imagination, swarmed with the wildest and most
frantic visions.”(8) The same writer relates, on the authority of
Sulpicius Severus, that an individual had been roving about Mount Sinai
nearly during fifty years, entirely naked, and avoiding all intercourse
with men. Once, however, being inquired about the motives of his strange
conduct, he answered, that, “enjoying as he did the society of seraphim
and cherubim, he felt aversion to intercourse with men.”(9)

Many of these enthusiasts imagined, in their hallucinations, they had a
direct intercourse with God himself, who, as well as the subordinate
spirits, appeared to them in a human shape. The monks of Egypt were,
indeed, the most zealous defenders of the corporeality of God. They
violently hated Origines for his maintaining that He was spiritual.
Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, opposed this error; but the monks
assembled in great force, with the intention of murdering him; and he
escaped this danger by addressing them in the words which Jacob used to
Esau, “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God.”—(Gen.
xxxiii 10.) This compliment, which could be interpreted as an
acknowledgment of a corporeal God, appeased the wrath of the monks, but
they compelled Theophilus to anathematise the writings of Origines.

The following anecdote is characteristic of the strong tendency of human
nature towards anthropomorphism. An old monk, called Serapion, having been
convinced by the arguments of a friend that it was an error to believe God
corporeal, exclaimed, weeping, “Alas, my God was taken from me, and I do
not know whom I am now worshipping!”(10) I shall have, in the course of
this essay, opportunities to show that the monks have always been the most
zealous and efficient promoters of image-worship.

The following rapid sketch of the introduction of image-worship into the
Christian church, and of its consequences, has been drawn by a French
living writer, whose religious views I do not share, but whose profound
erudition, fairness, and sincerity, are deserving of the greatest praise:—

“The aversion of the first Christians to the images, inspired by the Pagan
simulachres, made room, during the centuries which followed the period of
the persecutions, to a feeling of an entirely different kind, and the
images gradually gained their favour. Reappearing at the end of the fourth
and during the course of the fifth centuries, simply as emblems, they soon
became images, in the true acceptation of this word; and the respect which
was entertained by the Christians for the persons and ideas represented by
those images, was afterwards converted into a real worship.
Representations of the sufferings which the Christians had endured for the
sake of their religion, were at first exhibited to the people in order to
stimulate by such a sight the faith of the masses, always lukewarm and
indifferent. With regard to the images of divine persons of entirely
immaterial beings, it must be remarked, that they did not originate from
the most spiritualised and pure doctrines of the Christian society, but
were rejected by the severe orthodoxy of the primitive church. These
simulachres appear to have been spread at first by the Gnostics,—_i.e._,
by those Christian sects which adopted the most of the beliefs of Persia
and India. Thus it was a Christianity which was not purified by its
contact with the school of Plato,—a Christianity which entirely rejected
the Mosaic tradition, in order to attach itself to the most strange and
attractive myths of Persia and India,—that gave birth to the images. And
it was a return to the spiritualism of the first ages, and a revival of
the spirit of aversion to what has a tendency of lowering Divinity to the
narrow proportions of a human creature, that produced war against those
images. But the manners and the beliefs had been changed. Whole nations
had received Christianity, when it was already escorted by that idolatrous
train of carved and painted images. Only those populations amongst whom
the ancient traditions were preserved could favour this reaction. The
clergy were, moreover, interested in maintaining one of their most
powerful means of teaching. The long and persevering efforts of the
Iconoclasts proved therefore ineffective; and the Waldenses were not more
fortunate. Wickliffe, the Hussites, and Carlostad, attacked the images;
but it was reserved only to the Calvinists to establish in some parts of
Europe the triumph of the ideas of the Iconoclasts. The shock was
terrible. The Religionists frequently committed acts of a fanatical and
senseless vandalism; and art had many losses to deplore. But the
idolatrous tendency was struck at its very root; and Catholicism itself
found, after the struggle, more purity and idealism in its own
worship.(11) The Reformed perceived afterwards the exaggeration of their
principles; and though they continued to defend the entrance of their
temples to the simulachres, condemned by God on Mount Sinai, they spared
those which had been bequeathed by the less severe and more material faith
of their fathers.”(12)

The principal cause of the corruption of the Christian church, by the
introduction of the Pagan ideas and practices alluded to above, was,
however, chiefly the lamentable policy of compromise with Paganism which
that church adopted soon after her sudden triumph by the conversion of
Constantine. The object of this policy was to lead into her pale the
Pagans as rapidly as possible; and, therefore, instead of making them
enter by the strait gate, she widened it in such a manner, that the rush
of Paganism had almost driven Christianity out of her pale. The example of
the emperors, who, professing Christianity, were, or considered themselves
to be, obliged, by the necessities of their position, to act on some
occasions as Pagans, may have been not without influence on the church. I
shall endeavour to develop this important subject in the following
chapters; and, in order to remove every suspicion of partiality, I shall
do it almost entirely on the authority of an eminent Roman Catholic writer
of our day.



Chapter II. Compromise Of The Church With Paganism.


I have described, in the preceding chapter, the causes which made
Christian worship gradually to deviate from its primitive purity, and to
assume a character more adapted to the ideas of the heathen
population,—numbers of whom were continually joining the church. It was,
particularly since the time of Constantine, because its festivals,
becoming every day more numerous, and its sanctuaries more solemn,
spacious, and adorned with greater splendour,—its ceremonies more
complicated,—its emblems more diversified,—offered to the Pagans an ample
compensation for the artistic pomp of their ancient worship. “The
frankincense,” says an eminent Roman Catholic writer of our time, “the
flowers, the golden and silver vessels, the lamps, the crowns, the
luminaries, the linen, the silk, the chaunts, the processions, the
festivals, recurring at certain fixed days, passed from the vanquished
altars to the triumphant one. Paganism tried to borrow from Christianity
its dogmas and its morals; Christianity took from Paganism its
ornaments.”(13) Christianity would have become triumphant without these
transformations. It would have done it later than it did, but its triumph
would have been of a different kind from that which it has obtained by the
assistance of these auxiliaries. “Christianity,” says the author quoted
above, “_retrograded_; but it was this which made its force.” It would be
more correct to say, that it advanced its external progress at the expence
of its purity; it gained thus the favour of the crowd, but it was by other
means that it obtained the approbation of the cultivated minds.(14)

The church made a compromise with Paganism in order to convert more easily
its adherents,—forgetting the precepts of the apostle, to beware of
philosophy and vain traditions, (Col. ii. 8,) as well as to refuse profane
and old wives’ fables, (1 Tim. iv. 7.) And it cannot be doubted that St
Paul knew well that a toleration of these things would have rapidly
extended the new churches, had the quantity of the converts been more
important than the quality of their belief and morals.

This subject has been amply developed by one of the most distinguished
French writers of our day, who, belonging himself to the Roman Catholic
Church, seeks to justify her conduct in this respect, though he admits
with the greatest sincerity that she had introduced into her polity a
large share of Pagan elements. I shall give my readers this curious piece
of special pleading in favour of the line of policy which the church had
followed on that occasion, as it forms a precious document, proving, in an
unanswerable manner, the extent of Pagan rites and ideas contained in the
Roman Catholic Church, particularly as it proceeds, not from an opponent
of that church, but from a dutiful son of hers. The work from which I am
making this extract is, moreover, considered as one of the master-pieces
of modern French literature, and it was crowned by one of the most learned
bodies of Europe—the _Academie des Inscriptions et des Belles Lettres_ of
Paris.(15)

“The fundamental idea of Christianity,” says our author, “was a new,
powerful idea, and independent of all those by which it had been preceded.
However, the men by whom the Christian system was extended and developed,
having been formed in the school of Paganism, could not resist the desire
of connecting it with the former systems. St Justin, St Clement (of
Alexandria), Athenagoras, Tatian, Origenes, Synesius, &c., considered
Pagan philosophy as a preparation to Christianity. It was, indeed, making
a large concession to the spirit of the ancient times; but they believed
that they could conceal its inconveniences by maintaining in all its
purity the form of Christian worship, and rejecting with disdain the
usages and ceremonies of polytheism. When Christianity became the dominant
religion, its doctors perceived that they would be compelled to give way
equally in respect to the external form of worship, and that they would
not be sufficiently strong to constrain the multitude of Pagans, who were
embracing Christianity with a kind of enthusiasm as unreasoning as it was
of little duration, to forget a system of acts, ceremonies, and festivals,
which had such an immense power over their ideas and manners. The church
admitted, therefore, into her discipline, many usages evidently pagan. She
undoubtedly has endeavoured to purify them, but she never could obliterate
the impression of their original stamp.

“This new spirit of Christianity—this eclectism, which extended even to
material things—has in modern times given rise to passionate discussions;
these borrowings from the old religion were condemned, as having been
suggested to the Christians of the fourth and fifth centuries by the
remnants of that old love of idolatry which was lurking at the bottom of
their hearts. It was easy for the modern reformers to condemn, by an
unjust blame, the leaders of the church; they should, however, have
acknowledged, that the principal interest of Christianity was to wrest
from error the greatest number of its partisans, and that it was
impossible to attain this object without providing for the obstinate
adherents of the false gods an easy passage from the temple to the church.
If we consider that, notwithstanding all these concessions, the ruin of
Paganism was accomplished only by degrees and imperceptibly,—that during
more than two centuries it was necessary to combat, over the whole of
Europe, an error which, although continually overthrown, was incessantly
rising again,—we shall understand that the conciliatory spirit of the
leaders of the church was true wisdom.

“St John Chrysostom says, that the devil, having perceived that he could
gain nothing with the Christians by pushing them in a direct way into
idolatry, adopted for the purpose an indirect one.(16) If the devil, that
is to say, the pagan spirit, was changing its plan of attack, the church
was also obliged to modify her system of defence, and not to affect an
inflexibility which would have kept from her a great number of people
whose irresolute conscience was fluctuating between falsehood and truth.

“Already, at the beginning of the fifth century, some haughty spirits,
Christians who were making a display of the rigidity of their virtues, and
who were raising an outcry against the profanation of holy things, began
to preach a pretended reform; they were recalling the Christians to the
apostolic doctrine; they demanded what they were calling a true
Christianity. Vigilantius, a Spanish priest, sustained on this subject an
animated contest with St Jerome. He opposed the worship of the saints and
the custom of placing candles on their sepulchres; he condemned, as a
source of scandal, the vigils in the basilics of the martyrs,(17) and many
other usages, which were, it is true, derived from the ancient worship. We
may judge by the warmth with which St Jerome refuted the doctrines of this
heresiarch of the importance which he attached to those usages.(18) He
foresaw that the mission of the Christian doctrine would be to adapt
itself to the manners of all times, and to oppose them only when they
would tend towards depravity. Far from desiring to deprive the Romans of
certain ceremonial practices which were dear to them, and whose influence
had nothing dangerous to the Christian dogmas, he openly took their part,
and his conduct was approved by the whole church.

“If St Jerome and St Augustinus had shared the opinions of Vigilantius,
would they have had the necessary power successfully to oppose the
introduction of pagan usages into the ceremonies of the Christian church?
I don’t believe that they would. After the fall of Rome, whole populations
passed under the standards of Christianity, but they did it with their
baggage of senseless beliefs and superstitious practices. The church could
not repulse this crowd of self-styled Christians, and still less summon
them immediately to abandon all their ancient errors; she therefore made
concessions to circumstances, concessions which were not entirely
voluntary. They may be considered as calculations full of wisdom on the
part of the leaders of the church, as well as the consequence of that kind
of irruption which was made at the beginning of the fifth century into the
Christian society by populations, who, notwithstanding their abjuration,
were Pagans by their manners, their tastes, their prejudices, and their
ignorance.(19)

“Let us now calculate the extent of these concessions, and examine whether
it was right to say that they injured the purity of the Christian dogmas.

“The Romans had derived from their religion an excessive love of public
festivals. They were unable to conceive a worship without the pompous
apparel of ceremonies. They considered the long processions, the
harmonious chaunts, the splendour of dresses, the light of tapers, the
perfume of frankincense, as the essential part of religion. Christianity,
far from opposing a disposition which required only to be directed with
more wisdom, adopted a part of the ceremonial system of the ancient
worship. It changed the object of its ceremonies, it cleansed them from
their old impurities, but it preserved the days upon which many of them
were celebrated, and the multitude found thus in the new religion, as much
as in the old one, the means of satisfying its dominant passion.(20)

“The neophytes felt for the pagan temples an involuntary respect. They
could not pass at once from veneration to a contempt for the monuments of
their ancestors’ piety; and in ascending the steps of the church, they
were casting a longing look on those temples which a short time before had
been resplendent with magnificence, but were now deserted. Christianity
understood the power of this feeling, and desired to appropriate it to its
own service; it consented, therefore, to establish the solemnities of its
worship in the edifices which it had disdained for a long time.(21) Its
care not to offend pagan habits was such, that it often respected even the
pagan names of those edifices.(22) In short, its policy, which, since the
times of Constantine, was always to facilitate the conversion of the
Pagans, assumed, after the fall of Rome, a more decided character, and the
system of useful concessions became general in all the churches of Europe;
and it cannot be doubted that its results have been favourable to the
propagation of Christian ideas.(23)

“There is, moreover, a peculiar cause to which the rapid decline of the
pagan doctrines in the west must be ascribed, and I shall endeavour to
place this powerful cause in its true light, carefully avoiding mixing up
with a subject of this importance all considerations foreign to the object
of my researches.

“Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, after having defended a long time
the true faith, strayed from it on a subject which proved a
stumbling-stone to so many theologians—I mean, the nature of Jesus Christ.
Nestorius distinguished in the Son of God two natures, a divine and a
human one; and he maintained that the Virgin Mary was not the mother of
God (Θεοτοκος), but the mother of the man (ἀνθρωποτοκος). This doctrine,
which was a new and bolder form given to Arianism, spread in the two
empires, and gained a great number of partisans amongst the monasteries of
Egypt. Many monks could not almost suffer that Jesus Christ should be
acknowledged as God, and considered him only as an instrument of the
Divinity, or a vessel which bore it (Θεοφορος).

“The celebrated St Cyrillus, bishop of Alexandria, wrote an epistle to
those monks, in order to call them back to respect for the traditions
established in the church, if not by the apostles—who, in speaking of the
holy virgin, never made use of the expression, _mother of God_—at least by
the fathers who succeeded them. The quarrel became general and violent;
the Christians came to blows everywhere. Nestorius seemingly wished to
draw back, being frightened by the storm which he had himself raised. ‘I
have found,’ said he, ‘the church a prey to dissensions. Some call the
holy virgin the _mother of God_; others only the _mother of a man_. In
order to reunite them, I have called her the _mother of Christ_. Remain,
therefore, at peace about this question, and be convinced that my
sentiments on the true faith are always the same.’ But his obstinacy and
the ardour of his partisans did not allow him to go beyond this false
retraction. The necessity of a general council was felt, and the Emperor
Theodosius II. ordered in 431 its convocation at Ephesus. On the 21st June
431, two hundred bishops condemned Nestorius, and declared that the Virgin
Mary should be honoured as the _mother of God_. This decision was
accepted, notwithstanding some vain protestations, by the universal
church. The fathers of the council of Ephesus had no thought of
introducing into the church a new dogma or worship. The Virgin Mary had
always been considered by them as the _mother of God_, and they made now a
solemn declaration of this belief, in order to reply to the attack of
Nestorius, and to remove every incertitude about a dogma which had not
hitherto been opposed. But these great assemblies of Christians,
notwithstanding the particular motive of their meeting, were always
produced by some general necessity which was felt by the Christian
society, and the results of their decrees went often beyond the provisions
of those by whom they were framed.

“Though I am far from believing that it is allowable to weigh in the
scales of human reason the dogmas of Christianity, I do not think that it
is prohibited to examine which of these dogmas has been the most
instrumental in detaching the Pagans from their errors.

“We have several times penetrated, in the course of our researches, into
the conscience of the leaders of Paganism, and we have always found that
it was entirely under the influence of political views and interests.
These interests, which so powerfully acted upon the politician’s mind, had
but a feeble hold upon that of the inhabitants of the country. And,
indeed, what interest could the agriculturists, the artisans, and the
proletarians, have in maintaining the integrity of the Roman constitution,
or in preserving the rights of the senate, as well as the privileges,
honours, and riches of the aristocracy? Being destined, as they were under
any religion whatever, for a life of labour and privation, they might
choose between Christianity and Paganism, without having their choice
actuated by any personal interest. It is therefore necessary to seek for
another cause of that obstinate attachment which the lower classes of the
town and country population showed for the practices of a worship whose
existence was for a century reduced to such a miserable state.

“I shall not dwell on what has been said about the tyranny of habit, which
is always more severe wherever minds are less enlightened. I shall
indicate another cause of the obstinacy of the Pagans, which was founded
at least upon an operation of the mind—upon a judgment—and was,
consequently, more deserving of fixing the attention of the church than
that respect of custom against which the weapons of reason are powerless.

“The Christian dogmas, penetrating into a soul corrupted and weakened by
idolatry, must have, in the first moment, filled it with a kind of terror.
And, indeed, how was it possible that the Pagans, accustomed as they were
to their profligate gods and goddesses, should not have trembled when they
heard for the first time the voice of God, the just but inexorable
rewarder of good and evil? Should not a solemn and grave worship, whose
ceremonies were a constant and direct excitation to the practice of every
virtue, appear an intolerable yoke to men who were accustomed to find in
their sacred rites a legitimate occasion to indulge in every kind of
debauchery? The fear of submitting their lives to the rule of a too rigid
morality, and to bow their heads before a God whose greatness terrified
them, kept for many years a multitude of Pagans from the church.

“If it has entered the designs of Providence to temper the severe dogmas
of Christianity by the consecration of some mild, tender, and consoling
ideas, and by the same adapted to the fragile human nature, it is evident
that, whatever may have been their aim, they must have assisted in
detaching the last Pagans from their errors. The worship of Mary, the
mother of God, seems to have been the means which Providence has employed
for completing Christianity.(24)

“After the council of Ephesus the churches of the East and of the West
offered the worship of the faithful to the Virgin Mary, who had
victoriously issued from a violent attack. The nations were as if dazzled
by the image of this divine mother, who united in her person the two most
tender feelings of nature, the pudicity of the virgin and the love of the
mother; an emblem of mildness, of resignation, and of all that is sublime
in virtue; one who weeps with the afflicted, intercedes for the guilty,
and never appears otherwise than as the messenger of pardon or of
assistance. They accepted this new worship with an enthusiasm sometimes
too great, because with many Christians it became the whole Christianity.
The Pagans did not even try to defend their altars against the progress of
the worship of the mother of God; they opened to Mary the temples which
they kept closed to Jesus Christ, and confessed their defeat.(25) It is
true, that they often mixed with the worship of Mary those pagan ideas,
those vain practices, those ridiculous superstitions, from which they
seemed unable to detach themselves; but the church rejoiced, nevertheless,
at their entering into her pale, because she well knew that it would be
easy to her to purge of its alloy, with the help of time, a worship whose
essence was purity itself.(26) Thus, some prudent concessions, temporarily
made to the pagan manners and the worship of Mary, were two elements of
force which the church employed in order to conquer the resistance of the
last Pagans,—a resistance which was feeble enough in Italy, but violent
beyond the Alps.”(27)



Chapter III. Position Of The First Christian Emperors Towards Paganism,
And Their Policy In This Respect.


I have given in the preceding chapter a description, traced by one of the
most learned Roman Catholic writers of our day, of the compromise between
Christianity and Paganism, by which the church has endeavoured to
establish her dominion over the adherents of the latter. I shall now try
to give a rapid sketch of the circumstances which undoubtedly have
influenced the church, to a considerable degree, in the adoption of a line
of policy which, though it certainly has much contributed to the extension
of her external dominion, has introduced into her pale those very errors
and superstitions which it was her mission to destroy, and to deliver
mankind from their baneful influence.

There is a widely-spread but erroneous opinion, that the conversion of
Constantine was followed by an immediate destruction of Paganism in the
Roman empire. This opinion originated from the incorrect statements of
some ecclesiastical writers; but historical criticism has proved, beyond
every doubt, that, even a century after the conversion of that monarch,
Paganism was by no means extinct, and counted many adherents, even amongst
the highest classes of Roman society.

When Constantine proclaimed his conversion to the religion of the Cross,
its adherents formed but a minority of the population of the Roman
empire.(28) The deficiency of their numbers was, however, compensated by
their moral advantages; for they were united by the worship of the one
true God, and ardently devoted to a religion which they had voluntarily
embraced, and for which they had suffered so much. The Pagans were, on the
contrary, disunited, and in a great measure indifferent to a religion
whose doctrines were derided by the more enlightened of them, though,
considering it as a political institution necessary for the maintenance of
the empire, they often displayed great zeal in its defence. The Christians
of that time may be compared to the Greeks when they combated the Persians
on the field of Marathon and at Thermopylæ; but, alas! their victory under
Constantine proved as fatal to the purity of their religion as that of the
Greeks under Alexander to their political and military virtues. Both of
them became corrupted by adopting the ideas and manners of their conquered
adversaries.

Some writers have suspected that the conversion of Constantine was more
due to political than religious motives; but though great and many were
the faults of that monarch, his sincerity in embracing the Christian
religion cannot be doubted, because it was a step more contrary than
favourable to his political interests. The Christians formed, as I have
said above, only a minority of the population of the empire, and
particularly so in its western provinces. There was not a single Christian
in the Roman senate; and the aristocracy of Rome, whose privileges and
interests were intimately connected with the religious institutions of the
empire, were most zealous in their defence. The municipal bodies of the
principal cities were also blindly devoted to the national religion, whose
existence was considered by many as inseparable from that of the empire
itself; and these bodies were generally the chief promoters of those
terrible persecutions to which the Christians had been so many times
subjected. The Pagan clergy, rich, powerful, and numerous, were ever
zealous in exciting public hatred against the Christians; and the legions
were chiefly commanded by those officers who had united with Galerius in
compelling Diocletian to persecute the Christians. The capital of the
empire was the particular stronghold of the ancient creed. “Rome,” says
Beugnot, in the work from which I have so largely drawn, “was the cradle
and the focus of the national belief. Many traditions, elevated to the
rank of dogmas, were born within her pale, and impressed upon her a
religious character, which still was vividly shining in the times of
Constantine. The Pagans of the west considered Rome as the sacred city,
the sanctuary of their hopes, the point towards which all their thoughts
were to be directed; and the Greeks, in their usual exaggeration,
acknowledged in her, not a part of the earth, but of heaven.”—(_Libanii
Epistolæ_, epist. 1083, p. 816.) “The aristocracy, endowed with its many
sacerdotal dignities, and dragging in its train a crowd of clients and
freedmen, to whom it imparted its passions and its attachment to the
error, furnished, by the help of its immense riches, the means of
subsistence to a greedy, turbulent, and superstitious populace, amongst
whom it could easily maintain the most odious prejudices against
Christianity. The hope of acquiring a name, a fortune, or simply to take a
part in the public distributions, attracted to that city from the
provinces all those who had no condition, or, what is still worse, those
who were dissatisfied with theirs. Italy, Spain, Africa, and Gallia sent
to Rome the _elite_ of their children, in order to be instructed in a
school, the principal merit of whose professors was, an envious hatred of
every new idea, and who had acquired a melancholy reputation during the
persecutions of the Christians. The standard of Paganism was waving in
full liberty on the walls of the Capitol. Public and private sacrifices,
sacred games, and the consultation of the augurs, were prevailing to the
utmost in that _sink of all the superstitions_.(29) The name of Christ was
cursed, and the speedy ruin of his worshippers announced, in every part of
that place, whilst the glory of the gods was celebrated, and their
assistance invoked. How cruel must have been the situation of the
Christians, left in the midst of that city, where, at every step, a
temple, an altar, a statue, and horrible blasphemies were revealing to
them the ever active power of the Lie! They dared not either to found
churches, to open schools, or even publicly to reply to what was spoken
against them, at the theatres, at the forum, or at the baths: so that they
seemed to exist at Rome only in order to give a greater _eclat_ to the
dominion of idolatry.”—(Vol. i., p. 75.) It was no wonder that such a
religious disposition of Rome had placed it in a continual and strenuous
opposition to Constantine, and his Christian successors; and this
circumstance may be considered as an additional motive which induced
Constantine to transfer the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantium,
though this measure may have been chiefly brought about by political
considerations. In removing his residence to a more central point of the
empire, he at the same time drew nearer to the eastern provinces, where
Christianity had many devoted adherents. Constantinople became the capital
of the Christian party, whence it gradually developed its sway over the
other parts of the empire, but the Pagans maintained meanwhile their
ground at Rome, in such a manner, that it seems to have been uninhabitable
to the Christian emperors; because we see even those of them who ruled the
western provinces fixing their residence either at Milan or Ravenna, and
visiting only on some occasions the city of the Cæsars, which had become,
since the foundation of Constantinople, the fortified camp of
Paganism.(30)

Constantine proclaimed full religious liberty to all his subjects. This
measure, dictated by a sound policy, and in perfect harmony with the true
spirit of his new religion, was not, however, sufficient to relieve him
from the difficulties of his personal position, as he united in his person
two characters diametrically opposed one to another. Being a Christian, he
was at the same time, as the emperor of Rome, the head and the
representant, not only of its political, but also of its religious
institutions. This circumstance forced him into a double line of policy,
which I shall describe in the words of M. Beugnot:—

“There were in Constantine, so to say, two persons,—the Christian and the
emperor. If that monarch had not been endowed with a rare intellect, he
would have, by confounding these two characters, raised in his way
obstacles which he could not overcome. As a Christian, he showed
everywhere his contempt for the vain superstitions of the ancient worship,
and his enthusiasm for the new ideas. He conferred with the bishops; he
assisted _standing_ at their long homilies; he presided at the councils;
he deeply meditated the mysteries of Christianity; and he struggled
against the heresiarchs with the ardour of a Christian soldier and the
grief of a profoundly convinced soul. As emperor, he submitted to the
necessities of a difficult position, and conformed, in all grave matters,
to the manners and beliefs which he did not feel sufficiently strong
openly to shock. On endowing the purple, he became the heir of that long
series of emperors who had all remained faithful to the worship of the
father-land; and he wrapt himself, so to say, in the ancient traditions
and recollections of pagan Rome; for it was an inheritance which he could
not renounce, without danger to himself as well as to the empire.

“When we observe some actions of Constantine, evidently tinged with
Paganism, we must consider less their external form than the relation in
which they stood towards the constitution of Rome, which that emperor had
no desire to destroy. We shall then become convinced that his conduct was
the result of necessity, and not that of a crooked policy. As an
individual, he was free; as an emperor, he was a slave; and his greatest
merit, according to our opinion, was to have soundly judged the
embarrassments of this situation. Animated as he was with a lively zeal
for the truths of Christianity, it was very natural that he should employ
the imperial power in order to break down all the obstacles to its
progress. But this would have involved him in an open war with a nation,
the majority of whom were composed of Pagans; and it is very likely that
he would have succumbed in such a contest. He understood this; and it
prevented him giving way to the entreaties, and even complaints, of
over-zealous Christians.”—Vol. i., p. 88.

Constantine was, notwithstanding his conversion to Christianity, the
supreme pontiff of pagan Rome. The title of this dignity was given him on
the public monuments, and he performed its functions on several occasions;
as, for instance, in 321, several years after his conversion, he wrote to
Maximus, prefect of Rome, as follows:—

“If our palace or any public monument shall be struck by lightning, the
auguries are to be consulted, according to the ancient rites (_retento
more veteris observantiæ_), in order to know what this event indicates;
and the accounts of these proceedings are immediately to be sent to us.
Private individuals may make similar consultations, provided they abstain
from secret sacrifices, which are particularly prohibited. With regard to
the accounts stating that the amphitheatre was recently struck by
lightning, and which thou hast sent to Heraclianus the tribune, and master
of offices, know that they must be delivered to us.”

This is undoubtedly a very strange document for a Christian monarch, who
officially commands to consult the Pagan oracles, and, as its concluding
words seem to imply, is anxious to maintain, on similar occasions, his
rights as the supreme pontiff of Paganism.

It was also in his quality of supreme pontiff that Constantine instituted,
soon after his accession, the Francic games, for the commemoration of his
victory over the Franks, and which were celebrated, during a considerable
time, on the 18th of the kalends of August; and, in 321, the Sarmatic
games, on the occasion of his victory over the Sarmatians, and celebrated
on the 6th of the same month. These games were real Pagan ceremonies, and
reprobated on this account by the Christian writers of that time.(31)

I could quote other instances of a similar kind; but I shall conclude this
subject by observing, that a medal has been preserved, upon which
Constantine is represented in the dress of the supreme pontiff,—_i.e._,
with a veil covering his head.

Constantine was, indeed, very anxious not to offend the Pagan party. In
319 he published a very severe law against the soothsayers; expressing,
however, that this prohibition did not extend to the public consultations
of the _Haruspices_, according to the established rites. And a short time
afterwards he proclaimed another law on the same subject, in which he
still more explicitly declares that he does not interfere with the rites
of the Pagan worship.(32)

It must be observed, that the Romans, as well as the Greeks, had two kinds
of divination: the public, which were considered as legitimate; and the
secret, which were generally forbidden. This last had been prohibited by
some former emperors; and the laws of the Twelve Tables declared them
punishable with death. Constantine seems to have been very anxious that
his intention on this subject should not be mistaken; and he published in
321 an edict, by which he positively allows the practice of a certain kind
of magic, by the following remarkable expressions:—

“It is right to repress and to punish, by laws justly severe, those who
practise, or try to practise, the magical arts, and seek to seduce pure
souls into profligacy; but those who employ this art in order to find
remedies against diseases, or who, in the country, make use of it in order
to prevent the snow, the wind, and the hail from destroying the crops,
must not be prosecuted. Neither the welfare nor the reputation of any one
are endangered by acts whose object is to insure to men the benefits of
the _divinity_ and the fruits of their labour.”—_Codex Theodosianus_, lib.
ix., f. 16, _apud_ Beugnot.

This was, undoubtedly, a very large concession to the superstitions of
Paganism made by a Christian monarch, and from which he was, perhaps,
himself not entirely free. It is well known that Constantine, after his
public declaration of Christianity, introduced the _labarum_,(33) as a
sign of the dominion of the new faith; but it was generally placed on his
coins in the hands of the winged statue of the Pagan goddess of Victory.
Besides these coins of Constantine, there are many others of the same
monarch, having inscriptions in honour of Jupiter, Mars, and other Pagan
divinities. The Pagan aristocracy of Rome seem to have been resolved to
ignore the fact that the head of the empire had become a Christian, and to
consider him, in spite of himself, as one of their own. Thus, after his
death, the senate placed him, according to the usual custom, among the
gods; and a calendar has been preserved where the festivals in honour of
this strange divinity are indicated. The name of _Divus_ is given to him
on several coins; and, what is very odd, this Pagan god is represented on
the above-mentioned medals holding in his hand the Christian sign of the
_labarum_.

We thus see that Constantine, instead of persecuting the adherents of the
national Paganism, was following a policy of compromise between the two
characters united in his person, that of a Christian and of a Roman
emperor. This did not, however, prevent him from heaping favours of every
kind upon the Christian church,—favours which proved to her much more
injurious than all the persecutions of the former emperors. And, indeed,
the Christians, who had nobly stood the test of adversity, were not proof
against the more dangerous trial of a sudden and unexpected prosperity.

The first favour granted by Constantine to the Christians, and which he
did even before his public confession of their faith, was the extension to
their clergy of the exemption from various municipal charges enjoyed by
the Pagan priests, on account of their being obliged to give at their
expense certain public games. The Christian clergy were thus placed in a
more favourable position than the Pagan priests, because, though admitted
to equal immunities, they were not subjected to the same charges; and
thus, for the first time, a bribe was offered for conversion to a religion
which had hitherto generally exposed its disciples to persecution.
“Numbers of people, actuated less by conviction than by the hope of a
reward, were crowding from all parts to the churches, and the first favour
granted to the Christians introduced amongst them guilty passions, to
which they had hitherto remained strangers, and whose action was so rapid
and so melancholy. The complaints of the municipal bodies, and the
disorder which it was producing in the provincial administration, induced
Constantine to put some restrictions on a favour which, being granted
perhaps somewhat inconsiderately, did more harm than good to the interests
of the Christian religion.”—_Beugnot_, vol. i., p. 78.

Constantine increased his favours to the Christians after he had publicly
embraced their faith. “The ecclesiastical historians,” says the author
whom I have just quoted, “enumerate with a feeling of pride the proofs of
his generosity. They say, that the revenues of the empire were employed to
erect everywhere magnificent churches, and to enrich the bishops. They
cannot be, on this occasion, accused of exaggeration. Constantine
introduced amongst the Christians a taste for riches and luxury; and the
disappearance of their frugal and simple manners, which had been the glory
of the church during the three preceding centuries, may be dated from his
reign.”—_Ibid._, p. 87.

The ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, a great admirer of Constantine,
whose personal friend he was, admits himself, that the favours shown by
that monarch to the church have not been always conducive to her purity.

In short, the sudden triumph of the church under Constantine was one of
the principal causes of her corruption, and the beginning of that
compromise with Paganism, described in the preceding chapter. Paganism,
though weakened through its abandonment by the head of the state, was by
no means broken down at the time of Constantine’s death. Many of its
zealous adherents were occupying the principal dignities of the state, as
well as the most important civil and military offices; but its chief
stronghold was Rome, where its partisans were so powerful, that the
unfortunate dissensions which divided the Christians were publicly exposed
to ridicule in the theatres of that city. The Arian writer Philostorgus
says that Constantine was worshipped after his death, not as a saint, but
as a god, by the orthodox Christians, who offered sacrifices to the statue
of that monarch placed upon a column of porphyry, and addressed prayers to
him as to God himself. It is impossible to ascertain whether examples of
such mad extravagance had ever taken place amongst Christians or not; but
the Western church has not bestowed upon his memory the honours of
saintship, though she has been generally very lavish of them.(34) Thus the
first Christian emperor was canonised only by the Pagans.

The sons of Constantine followed the religious policy of their father; and
the facility with which his nephew, Julian the Apostate, had restored
Paganism to the rank of the dominant religion, twenty-four years after his
death, proves how strong its party was even at that time. Julian’s reign
of eighteen months was too short to produce any considerable effect upon
the religious parties into which the Roman empire was then divided. After
his death, the imperial crown was offered by the army to Sallust, a Pagan
general, who having refused it on account of his great age, it was
bestowed upon Jovian, a Christian, who reigned only three months. The
legions elected, after Jovian’s death, Valentinian, who, though a sincere
Christian, strictly maintained the religious liberty of his subjects; and
the same policy was followed by his brother and colleague Valens, who
governed the eastern part of the empire, and was an Arian. Valentinian’s
son and successor, Gratian, though educated by the celebrated poet
Ausonius, who adhered to the ancient worship, was a zealous Christian. He
published, immediately after his accession, an edict allowing perfect
religious liberty to all his subjects, with the exception of the
Manicheans and some other sects. He granted several new privileges to
Christians, but he continued to conform for some time to the duties
inherited from his Pagan predecessors, of which the most remarkable
instance was, that he caused his father to be placed amongst the gods,
according to the general custom followed at the death of the Roman
emperors.(35)

Though greatly enfeebled by the continual advance of Christianity,
Paganism was still the established religion of the state. Its rites were
still observed with their wonted solemnity, and its power was still so
great at Rome, that a vestal virgin was executed in that city for the
breach of her vow of chastity, subsequently to the reign of Gratian. These
circumstances induced, probably, the above-mentioned emperor to respect
the religious institutions of Rome during the first years of his reign,
but (382), acting under the advice of St Ambrose, he confiscated the
property belonging to the Pagan temples, and the incomes of which served
for the maintenance of priests and the celebration of sacrifices. He
abolished, at the same time, all the privileges and immunities of the
Pagan priests, and ordered the altar and statue of the goddess of Victory
to be removed from the hall of the senate, the presence of which gave to
that assembly, though it already contained many Christian members, the
character of a Pagan institution.

The senate sent a deputation to Gallia, where Gratian was at that time, in
order to remonstrate against these measures, and to present to him, at the
same time, the insignia of the supreme pontificate of Rome, which none of
his Christian predecessors had yet refused. But Gratian rejected these
emblems of Paganism, saying that it was not meet for a Christian to accept
them. This would have been probably followed by other more decided
measures, had he not perished a short time afterwards in a rebellion.
Theodosius the Great, whom Gratian had associated with him, adopted a
decidedly hostile policy towards Paganism, and proclaimed a series of laws
against it. Thus, in 381, he ordered that those Christians who returned to
Paganism should forfeit the right of making wills; but as these apostasies
continued, he ordered, in 383, that the apostates should not inherit any
kind of property, either left by will or descended by natural order of
succession, unless it were left by their parents or a brother. In 385 he
proclaimed the penalty of death against all those who should inquire into
futurity by consulting the entrails of the victims, or try to obtain the
same object by _execrable_ and _magic_ consultations, which evidently
referred to those secret divinations that had been prohibited by
Constantine, as well as his Pagan predecessors. In the course of the year
391, he published a series of edicts, prohibiting under pain of death
every immolation, and all other acts of idolatry under that of
confiscation of the houses or lands where they had been performed.

Theodosius died in 395, but had his life been prolonged, he would probably
have developed still farther his policy against Paganism, which was
greatly weakened in the course of his reign. Many Pagan temples,
particularly in the Eastern provinces, were destroyed during his reign by
the Christians, acting without the orders of the emperor, but not punished
by him for these acts of violence. He did not, however, constrain the
Pagans to embrace Christianity; and, notwithstanding that he proclaimed
several laws against their worship, he employed many of them even in the
highest offices of the state.(36) Notwithstanding the severe laws
published by Theodosius against idolatry, Rome still contained a great
number of pagan temples, and the polytheist party continued to be strong
in the senate, as well as in the army, which is evident from the two
following facts. When Alaric elected in 409 Attalus emperor of Rome, the
new monarch distributed the first dignities of the state to Pagans, and
restored the public solemnities of the ancient worship, in order to
maintain himself on the throne by the support of the Pagan party; which
proves that, though a century had already elapsed since the conversion of
Constantine, this party was not yet considered quite insignificant. About
the same time, Honorius having proclaimed a law which excluded from the
offices of the imperial palace all those who did not profess his religion,
was obliged to revoke it, because it gave offence to the Pagan officers of
the army. Arcadius, who succeeded Theodosius on the throne of the Eastern
empire, proclaimed, immediately after his accession in 398, that he would
strictly enforce the laws of his father against Paganism, and he issued in
the following year new and more severe ordinances of the same kind. The
blow which may be said to have overturned Paganism in the Roman empire did
not, however, come from its Christian monarchs, but from the same hand
which destroyed its ancient capital, and inflicted upon the Western empire
a mortal wound which it did not survive many years.

The Goths, whom the energy and wise policy of Theodosius had maintained in
their allegiance to the empire, being offended by Arcadius, revolted, and
invaded his dominions under Alaric, in 396. They ravaged the provinces
situated between the Adriatic and the Black Seas, and penetrated into
Greece, where Paganism, notwithstanding all the enactments of Theodosius,
was still prevailing to a very great extent. The principal cities of
Greece were devastated by the Goths, who, recently converted to Arianism,
and having no taste for arts, destroyed all the temples, statues, and
other pagan monuments, with which they met. Athens escaped the fury of the
invaders, but the celebrated temple of Eleusis, whose mysteries continued
in full vigour in spite of all the laws which had been published against
polytheism, was destroyed, whilst its priests either perished or fled.
This catastrophe was so much felt by the adherents of the ancient worship
in Greece, that many of them are said to have committed suicide from
grief. “Since the defeat of Cheronea, and the capture of Corinth, the
Greek nationality had never experienced a severer blow than the
destruction of its temples and of its gods by Alaric,” says an eminent
German writer of our day.(37) It was, indeed, a mortal blow to a religion
which maintained its sway by acting upon the senses and the imagination,
as well as upon the feelings of national pride or vanity, because it
destroyed all the means by which such feelings were produced. Alaric and
his Goths seem to have been destined by Providence to precipitate the fall
of Paganism at Rome, as well as in Greece, because the capture and sack of
the eternal city by these barbarians, in 410, accelerated the ruin of its
ancient worship more than all the laws proclaimed against it by the
Christian emperors. The particulars of this terrible catastrophe have been
amply described by Gibbon, and I shall only observe, that though
Christians had suffered on that occasion as much as Pagans, the worship of
the latter was struck at the very root of its existence by the complete
ruin of the Roman aristocracy, who, although frequently indifferent about
the tenets of the national polytheism, supported it with all their
influence as a political institution, which could not be abolished without
injuring the most vital interests of their order.(38) The decline of
Paganism from that time was very rapid. It is true that we have sufficient
historical evidence to show that pagan temples were still to be found at
Rome after its sack by the Goths, and that many Pagans were employed, in
the Western as well as in the Eastern empires, in some of the most
important offices of the state; but their number was fast disappearing,
and the exercise of their religion was generally confined to the domestic
hearth, to the worship of the _Lares_ and _Penates_. It seems to have been
particularly prevalent amongst the rustic population of the provinces, and
it was not entirely extinct in Italy even at the beginning of the sixth
century; because the Goth, Theodoric the Great, who reigned over that
country from 493 to 526, published an edict forbidding, under pain of
death, to sacrifice according to the Pagan rites, as well as other
superstitious practices remaining from the ancient polytheism.

I have given this sketch of the state of Paganism after the conversion of
Constantine, and of the policy which was followed towards it by the first
Christian emperors, because it seems to explain, at least to a certain
degree, the manner in which Christianity was rapidly corrupted in the
fourth and fifth centuries by the Pagan ideas and practices which I shall
endeavour to trace in my next chapter.



Chapter IV. Infection Of The Christian Church By Pagan Ideas And Practices
During The Fourth And Fifth Centuries.


I have said that the council of Elvira, in Spain, held in 305, prohibited
the use of images in the churches. Other canons of the same council show
that even then Christians were but too prone to relapse into the practices
and customs of Paganism; because they enact very severe ecclesiastical
penances against those Christians who took part in the rites and festivals
of the Pagan worship.(39)

If such enactments were required to maintain the purity of Christian
doctrine, at a time when its converts, instead of expecting any worldly
advantages, were often exposed to severe persecution, and consequently had
no other motives for embracing it than a mere conviction of its truth, how
much more was this purity endangered when conversion to Christianity led
to the favour of the sovereign, and when the church, instead of severely
repressing the idolatrous propensities of her children, endeavoured to
facilitate as much as possible the entrance of the Pagans into her pale!
Let me add, that the mixture of Christianity with Paganism in various
public acts of the first Christian emperors, which I have described in the
preceding chapter, could not but contribute to the general confusion of
ideas amongst those Christians whom the church was continually receiving
into her pale, with all their pagan notions. I have described, in the
second chapter of this essay, the policy of compromise adopted by the
church after the conversion of Constantine. I shall now describe the
consequences of this policy, by giving a sketch of the Christian society
which it produced, and which has been drawn, on the authority of
ecclesiastical writers, by the same author whose description and defence
of that policy I have given in the above-mentioned chapter.

“Towards the beginning of the fifth century, the propagation of
Christianity amongst the upper classes of Roman society met still with
many obstacles; but the influential persons who had broken with the error,
remained at least faithful to their new creed, and did not scandalise
society by their apostasy. The senatorial families which had embraced
Christianity gave, at Rome, the unfortunately too rare example of piety
and of all the Christian virtues; the case was different with the converts
belonging to the lower, and even the middle classes of Roman society. The
corruption of manners had made rapid progress amongst them during the last
fifty years of the fourth century; and things arrived at such a pass, that
the choice of a religion was considered by the people as an act of the
greatest indifference. The new religion was embraced from interest, from
curiosity, or by fashion, and afterwards abandoned on the first occasion.
It was, in fact, not indifference, because indifference induces people to
remain in the religion in which they were born; it was a complete atheism,
a revolting depravity, an openly-expressed contempt of all that is most
sacred. How many times the church, which struggled, but in vain, against
the progress of the evil, had occasion to lament the too easy recruits
whom she was making amongst the inferior ranks of society!(40) People
disgracefully ignorant, without honour, without a shadow of piety,
polluted by their presence the assemblies of the faithful. They are those
whom the fathers of the church designated by the name of the _mali
Christiani_—_ficti Christiani_, and against whom their eloquent voices
were often resounding. The heretics, the promoters of troubles and
seditions, always counted upon those men, who seemed to enter the church
only in order to disturb her by their turbulent spirit, or who consented
to remain in the true faith only on condition of introducing into the
usages of Christian worship, a crowd of superstitions whose influence was
felt but too long;(41) whilst the slightest sign of Paganism was
sufficient to call back to it those servants of all the parties.

“It was then, unfortunately, a too common thing to see men who made a
profession of passing, without any difficulty, from one religion to
another, as many times as it was required by their interests. The
principle of that inconceivable corruption in the bosom of a religion
which was not yet completely developed, dated from a period anterior to
that which we are describing.(42) The councils and the emperors had
struggled in vain against apostasy, which the multitude of heresies, and
the vices of the times, had placed amongst legitimate actions.

“Theodosius began in 381 to punish the apostates by depriving them of the
right to make wills. In 383, he modified this law in respect to the
apostate catechumens; but the general principle maintained all the
apostates _absque jure Romano_. Valentinian II. followed the example of
his colleague, and applied the before-mentioned dispositions to those
Christians who became Jews or Manicheans. We know, from a law of 391, that
the nobility was infected by the general spirit of the age, because
Valentinian enacted, by this law, that those nobles who became apostates
were to be degraded in such a manner that they should not count even _in
vulgi ignobilis parte_. In 396, Arcadius deprived again of the right to
make wills those Christians _qui se idolorum superstitione impia
maculaverint_.(43) The political authorities, therefore, cannot be accused
of having remained indifferent to the progress of the evil. We must now
show how little power the laws had in a time like that which we are
describing.

“One day, St Augustinus presented to the assembly of the Christians of
Hippona, a man who was to become celebrated amongst renegades; born a
Pagan, he embraced Christianity, but returned again to the idols, and
exercised the lucrative profession of an astrologer; he now demanded to be
readmitted into the church, that is to say, to change for the third time
his religion. St Augustinus addressed, on that occasion, the
above-mentioned assembly in the following manner:—

“ ‘This former Christian, terrified by the power of God, is now repenting.
In the days of his faithfulness, he was enticed by the enemy, and became
an astrologer; seduced and deceived himself, he was seducing and deceiving
others; he uttered many lies against God, who gave men the power to do
good, and to do no evil; he said that it was not the will of men which
made men adulterers, but Venus; that it was Mars who rendered people
murderers; that justice was not inspired by God, but by Jupiter; and he
added to it many other sacrileges. How much money he has swindled from
self-styled Christians! How many people have purchased the lie from him!
But now, if we are to believe him, he hates the error, he laments the loss
of many souls; and feeling himself caught by the demon, he returns toward
God full of repentance. Let us believe, brethren, that it is fear which
produces this change. What shall we say? perhaps we must not rejoice so
much at the conversion of this pagan astrologer, because once being
converted, he may seek to obtain the clerical office; he is penitent,
brethren, and asks only for mercy. I recommend him to your hearts, and to
your eyes. Let your hearts love him, but let your eyes watch him. Mark him
well; and wherever you shall meet him, show him to those of your brethren
who are not present here. This will be an act of mercy, because we must
fear that his seductive soul should change again, and recommence to do
mischief. Watch him; know what he says, and where he goes, in order that
your testimony may confirm us in the opinion that he is really converted.
He was perishing, but now he is found again. He has brought with him the
books which have burnt him, in order to throw them into the fire; he
wishes to be refreshed by the flames which shall consume them. You must
know, brethren, that he had knocked at the door of the church before
Easter, but that the profession which he had followed, rendering him
suspected of lies and fraud, he was kept back, but shortly afterwards
received. We are afraid of leaving him exposed to new temptations. Pray to
Christ for him.’

“Socrates(44) speaks of a sophist of Constantinople, called Ecebolus, who
conformed with a marvellous facility to all the changes of fortune which
Christianity was undergoing. During the reign of Constantine, he affected
the greatest zeal for the new belief; but when Julian became emperor, he
resumed his ancient devotion to the gods of Paganism. After the death of
that monarch, he gave great publicity to his repentance, and prostrated
himself before the churches, crying to the Christians, ‘Tread me under
your feet, as the salt which has lost its savour!’ Socrates
adds:—‘Ecebolus remained what he has always been,—_i.e._, a fickle and
inconstant man.’ St Augustinus could certainly say the same of his
astrologer. Is it not surprising to find apostasy still prevalent at a
time when no sensible man could believe in the restoration of the ancient
worship? The appearance of Julian must have upset many a mind, shaken many
a conscience, and given to the triumph of Christianity the character of a
transitory event. But, at the end of the fourth century, it was impossible
to abandon the church and return to the idols, except by a feeling which
could not but excite profound pity. I therefore understand why St
Augustinus had consented to plead with the Christians in favour of a
wretch already charged with three apostasies: he wished, above all, to
take from him the name of a Pagan, being convinced that whoever consented
no longer to sacrifice to the false gods would finally belong to the true
religion. A neophyte, restrained by the leaven of all the pagan passions,
might remain more or less time on the threshold of the church, but sooner
or later he was sure to cross it.(45) The leaders of the church considered
it always a favourable presumption when a citizen consented to call
himself no longer a Pagan. This first victory appeared to them a sure
presage of a true conversion; and they recommended to the Christians that
they should not apply the dangerous epithet of _Pagan_ to those of their
brethren who had failed, but simply to call them _sinners_. They
endeavoured, in short, to make them forget Paganism; and in order to
attain this object, they even forbade to pronounce its name.(46)

“The ancient worship was not only obstructing the development of
Christianity by covert and insidious attacks, but it was also vitiating
the discipline of the church, because its sway upon the manners of the
converts was something more like a real tyranny than the natural remnant
of its former influence. It is, indeed, surprising with what facility it
introduced into the sanctuary of the true God its superstitious spirit,
its relaxed morals, and its love of disorder. How little the church was
then,—_i.e._, seventy years after the conversion of
Constantine,—resembling what she ought to have been, or what she became
afterwards!(47) St Jerome had intended, towards the end of his life, to
write an ecclesiastical history; but it was in order to show that the
church, under the Christian emperors, went on continually declining.
_Divitiis major, virtutibus minor_ (Greater in wealth, smaller in virtue),
was the severe sentence which St Jerome must have pronounced with regret,
but the justice of which is proved by all the historical documents of that
period. This illustrious leader of Christianity, whose mind was more
inclined to enthusiasm than dejection, frequently lost all energy, by
reflecting on the deplorable condition of the church, declaring that he
felt no longer any power to write. A sufficient number of historians have
represented in vivid colours the excessive luxury of the bishops during
that time, as well as the greediness, the ignorance, and the misconduct of
the clergy; I shall therefore choose from this melancholy picture only
those parts which refer to the history of Paganism.

“All the arts of divination remained still in the highest favour amongst
Christians, even when the grave men of the Pagan party had been, for a
long time, showing for these practices of idolatry either a conventional
respect or an open contempt.(48) They swore by the false gods,—they
observed the fifth day, dedicated to Jupiter,—and they took a part in the
sacred games, feasts, and festivals of the Pagans. Christian ceremonies
did not preserve almost any thing of their ancient majesty. It was not a
rare occurrence to hear pagan hymns chanted at Christian solemnities, or
to see Christians dancing before their churches, according to the custom
of Paganism. There was no more decency observed in the interior of those
churches: people went there to speak about business, or to amuse
themselves; the noise was so great, and the bursts of laughter so loud,
that it was impossible to hear the reading of the Scriptures; the
congregation quarrelled, fought, and sometimes interfered with the
officiating priest, pressing him to end, or compelling him to sing,
according to their taste. St Augustinus was therefore warranted in calling
this so powerful influence of the ancient worship a persecution of the
demon, more covert and insidious than that which the primitive church had
suffered.

“All these scandalous facts are attested by the bishop of Hippona (St
Augustinus) and by that of Milan (St Ambrose); it is therefore impossible
to doubt their authenticity. It may, however, be said, that such a state
of corruption was local, and peculiar to the churches of Africa and Milan;
I must therefore produce new evidence, in order to show that the
calamitous effect of the pagan manners was felt in all the provinces.

“St Gaudentius, bishop of Brescia, a contemporary of St Augustinus,
vigorously combated idolatry in his diocese; and the following is an
extract from one of his sermons:—

“ ‘You neophytes, who have been called to the feast of this salutary and
mystical Easter, look how you preserve your souls from those aliments
which have been defiled by the superstition of the Pagans. It is not
enough for a true Christian to reject the poisoned food of the demons; he
must also fly from all the abominations of the Pagans,—from all the frauds
of the idolaters, as from venom ejected by the serpent of the devil.
Idolatry is composed of poisonings, of enchantments, ligatures, presages,
augurs, sorceries, as well as of all kinds of vain observances, and,
moreover, of the festival called _Parentales_; by means of which idolatry
is reanimating error; and indeed men, giving way to their gluttony, began
to eat the viands which had been prepared for the dead; afterwards they
were not afraid of celebrating in their honour sacrilegious
sacrifices,—although it is difficult to believe that a duty towards their
dead is discharged by those who, with a hand shaking from the effects of
drunkenness, place tables on sepulchres, and say, with an unintelligible
voice, _The spirit is thirsty_.(49) I beseech you, take heed of these
things, in case God should deliver to the flames of hell his contemners
and enemies, who have refused to wear his yoke.’

“Who may wonder that such Christians allowed the pagan idols, temples, and
altars to remain, and to be honoured on their estates, as is attested by
the same bishop? St Augustinus, whom I am not tired of quoting, because no
other doctor of that time expressed so vividly the true Christian ideas,
lamented this monstrous worship, which was neither Paganism nor
Christianity. ‘Many a man,’ says he, ‘who enters the church a Christian,
leaves it a Pagan,’ However, far from despairing, he wrote to the virgin
Felicia, ‘I advise thee not to be affected too much by these offences;
they were predicted, in order that, when they should come, we might
remember that they had been announced, and consequently not be hurt by
them.’ But the Pagans, for whom this premature corruption of Christianity
was not a predicted thing, rejoiced in contemplating the extent of its
progress; they would not believe the duration of a worship which had so
rapidly arrived at the period of its decline, and they were repeating in
their delusion this celebrated saying, ‘Christians are only for awhile;
they will afterwards perish, and the idols will return.’ ”—_Beugnot_, vol.
ii. p. 97, _et seq._

This melancholy picture of Christian society, at the beginning of the
fifth century, drawn by M. Beugnot, on the authority of the ecclesiastical
writers, is, indeed, as gloomy as that of Roman society in general, which
had been so graphically described about the same time by the pagan author
Ammianus Marcellinus, and reproduced by Gibbon. It was very natural that
such a corrupted soil should produce the rankest growth of superstition,
and rapidly bring about that melancholy reaction which was not inaptly
styled by Gibbon, “the revival of polytheism in the Christian church.”
This wretched state of things was, as I have said before, chiefly due to
that policy of compromise by which the leaders of the church sought to get
as many Pagans as possible into her pale, and who consequently were
baptised without being converted. This compromise with Paganism was often
carried to great extremes; and the history of the conversion of Florence,
which I have extracted from M. Beugnot’s work, gives one of the most
striking instances of those unprincipled proceedings:—“Florence paid
particular honours to the god Mars. It was not without regret that it
abandoned the worship of this divinity. The time of its conversion had
been assigned to the second or the third century, but the vagueness of
this date deprives it of all authority. Yet, whatever may have been the
century in which the conversion of Florence took place, it could not be a
subject of edification and joy to the Christians. The traditions of that
city predicted to it great calamities if the statue of Mars was either
sullied, or put into a place unworthy of it. The Florentines stipulated,
therefore, on accepting the new religion, that Mars should be respected.
His statue was consequently neither broken nor sullied, but it was
carefully taken from his temple, and placed on a pedestal near the river,
which flows through the city. Many years after this, the new Christians
feared and invoked that god who was dethroned only by halves. When almost
all the pagan temples had fallen either by the stroke of time, or under
the blows of the Christians, the heathen palladium of Florence stood still
erect on the banks of the Arno; and, according to one of the most
enlightened historians that Italy has produced during the middle ages (G.
Villani, lib. i., cap. 60), the demon who had remained in the statue
realised, in the thirteenth century, the old prediction of the
Etruscans.(50) Compromises of the kind which took place at Florence became
very common during the fifth century, and when, at a later period,
Christianity wished to annul them, it met with great obstacles.”—(BEUGNOT,
vol. i., p. 286.)

The Jews had been brought up in the knowledge of the true God, and their
faith could not but be strengthened by the miracles with which their
exodus from Egypt was accompanied, and yet a short absence of Moses from
their camp was sufficient to make them call for gods that would go before
them, and to induce them to worship an image evidently borrowed from the
idolatry of those very Egyptians by whom they had been so much oppressed.
It was, therefore, no wonder that society, educated for many centuries
under the influence of Paganism, were continually returning to their
ancient rites, superstitions, and manners, though under a new name, and in
a modified form. If we consider further, that such a man as Aaron had not
sufficient strength to resist the senseless demands of the multitude, and
even consented to mould an object for their idolatry, how could the
leaders of the church oppose the pressure of Paganism, which they had
incautiously admitted into her pale, and which, under the assumed name of
Christianity, was establishing its dominion over the church? There was no
inspired prophet amongst the Christians of that time, to restore the
purity of their faith in the same manner as Moses did amongst the Jews,
after his return from Mount Sinai. The Christian church was therefore left
for centuries under the oppression of pagan superstitions, from which, as
yet, only a small portion of her has been emancipated, though I firmly
believe that she will be one day entirely restored to her pristine purity.
This hope, however, is not founded upon the mere advance of human
intellect, because, in spite of its boasted progress, it seems now to be
powerless against the daily growing reaction of the above-mentioned
superstitions, even in places whence they apparently had been banished for
ever, but because Christianity is of a divine and not human origin.

There was no lack of opposition to this universal corruption of the church
on the part of several true Christians, and there were undoubtedly many
more instances of this noble conduct than those which have reached us, but
the records of them were probably either lost in the lapse of ages, or
destroyed by their opponents. I have already mentioned the prohibition of
the use of images in the churches by the council of Elvira in 305. The
council of Laodicea, held about 363, declared, in its seventy-fifth canon,
“_That Christians ought not to abandon the church, and retire elsewhere in
order to invoke angels, and form private assemblies, because it is
prohibited. If, therefore, any one is attached to this secret idolatry,
let him be anathema, because he has left our Lord Jesus Christ, and has
become an idolater._” It is therefore evident that this superstition,
expressly prohibited by St Paul, Col. ii. 18, was then secretly practised
in some private assemblies, though it was afterwards introduced into the
Western as well as the Eastern church. The council of Carthage, held
towards the end of the fourth century, condemned the abuse of the honours
which were paid to the memory of the martyrs by the Christians of Africa,
and ordered the bishops to repress them, _if the thing might be done, but
if it could not be done on account of the popular emotions_, to warn at
least the people. This proves how weak the bishops felt their authority to
be against the prevailing superstitions amongst their flocks, and that
they preferred suffering the latter to risking the former.

There were, however, Christians who opposed, in a bold and uncompromising
manner, the pagan errors and abuses which had infected the church. St
Epiphanius, archbishop of Salamis, in the fourth century, celebrated for
his learning, and whose virtues St Jerome extols in the most glowing
terms, explicitly condemned the worship of created beings, “because,” he
observed, “the devil was creeping into men’s minds under the pretence of
devotion and justice, and, consecrating human nature by divine honours,
presented to their eyes various fine images, in order to separate the mind
from the one God by an infamous adultery. Therefore, though those who are
worshipped are dead, people adore their images, which never had any life
in them.” He further remarked, “that there was not a prophet who would
have suffered a man or a woman to be worshipped; that neither the prophet
Elias, nor St John the beloved disciple of the Lord, nor St Thecla (who
had received the most extravagant praises from the fathers), were ever
worshipped; and that, consequently, the virgin was neither to be invoked
nor worshipped.” “_The old superstition_,” says he, “_shall not have such
power over us as to oblige us to abandon the living God, and worship his
creature._”(51)

The same St Epiphanius relates, in a letter addressed to John, bishop of
Jerusalem, that having arrived during a journey at a village called
Anablatta, he found in its church a veil suspended over the door, with a
figure representing _Christ or some saint_. He was so indignant at this
sight that he immediately tore the veil to pieces, and advised the wardens
of that church to employ it as a shroud to bury a dead body. As the people
of the place complained that the veil of their church was destroyed,
without giving them in its place another, Epiphanius sent them one; but he
exhorted in his letter the above-mentioned bishop of Jerusalem, in whose
diocese Anablatta was situated, to order the priests of that place not to
suspend any more such veils in the church of Christ, _because they are
contrary to our religion_.

The authenticity of this letter, which bears such strong evidence against
the use of images in churches, was rejected by Bellarmine and the
ecclesiastical historian Baronius, but it has been admitted by Petau and
some of the ablest writers of the Roman Catholic Church. It was translated
into Latin by St Jerome, and is found in all the collections of his works.

The most celebrated opponent of the abuses with which the church had been
already infected at that time was Vigilantius. His writings have not been
preserved, and we know his opinions only from their refutation by St
Jerome, and from which we may conclude that this reformer of the fifth
century maintained the same doctrines which were afterwards defended by
the Waldensians, Wycliffe, the Hussites, and which are now professed by
the Protestant Christians. He was born at Calagorris in Gallia; he became
a priest at Barcelona, and contracted in that place an intimate friendship
with St Paulinus, afterwards bishop of Nola. Vigilantius went to Italy in
order to see this friend of his, and having an intention to visit
Palestine and Egypt, took from him an introduction to St Jerome. They
became great friends with St Jerome, who was much pleased with the marks
of approbation shown by Vigilantius during a sermon which he preached. He
also acknowledges that he, as well as several others, would have died from
starvation, if Vigilantius had not assisted them with his own and his
friends’ money; and he says, in his answer to Paulinus, “You will learn
from the mouth of _the holy priest, Vigilantius_, with what affection I
have received him.” This affection disappeared, however, as soon as Jerome
learned that Vigilantius had accused him in Egypt of being too partial to
Origenes, and the _holy priest_ became an _impertinent_, whose silly
speeches he had observed during their first interview. He made use of
several injurious expressions in speaking of the former object of his
admiration, and which do not well accord with the gravity of his
character, as, for instance, calling him often _Dormitantius_ instead of
_Vigilantius_. His indignation knew no bounds when he heard, in 404, that
Vigilantius, who was then in Gallia, had attacked several practices which
had crept into the church, and he dictated in one single night a vehement
answer to the opinions of Vigilantius, who, according to this writer,
taught as follows:—

That the honours paid to the rotten bones and dust of the saints and
martyrs, by adoring, kissing, wrapping them in silver, and enclosing them
in vessels of gold, placing them in churches, and lighting wax candles
before them, was idolatry.

That the celibacy of the clergy was heresy, and their vows of chastity a
seminary of lewdness.

That to pray for the dead, or desire their prayers, was superstition, and
that we can pray one for another only as long as we are alive.

That the souls of the departed apostles and martyrs were at rest in some
particular place, and could not leave it, in order to be present in
various places, for hearing the prayers addressed to them.

That the sepulchres of the martyrs should not be venerated; that vigils
held in churches should be abolished, with the exception of that at
Easter; that to enter monastic life was to become useless to society, &c.
&c.

The answer of Jerome to the above-mentioned opinions of Vigilantius is a
curious mixture of violence and casuistry. He declared his _quondam_
friend and _holy priest_, Vigilantius, a greater monster than all those
which nature had ever produced, the Centaurs, the Behemoths, the Syrens,
the triple-bodied Gerion of Spain; that he was a most detestable heretic,
venting foul blasphemies against the relics of the martyrs, who were
working miracles everyday. “Go,” says he to Vigilantius, “into the
churches of those martyrs, and thou shalt be cleansed from the evil spirit
by which thou art now possessed, and feel thyself burning, not by those
wax candles which offend thee, but by invisible flames, which will force
that demon who talks within thee to confess that he is the same as that
who had personated, perhaps a Mercury, a Bacchus, or some other of the
heathen gods, amongst their followers,” &c. He is unable, however, to
produce any other argument in support of the worship of relics than the
example of those who had practised it. “Was it wrong,” he exclaims, “of
the bishops of Rome to celebrate divine service on the graves containing
the bones of St Peter and St Paul, which, according to Vigilantius, were
nothing better than dust? The Emperor Constantius must then have committed
a sacrilege by translating the holy relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy,
to Constantinople; the Emperor Arcadius must be then also considered
sacrilegious, as he has translated the bones of the blessed Samuel from
Judea to Thrace; then all those bishops who consented to preserve mere
dust in vessels of gold or wrapt in silk, were not only sacrilegious, but
were fools; and, finally, that all these people must have been fools who
went out to meet these relics, and received them with as much joy as if
they were the prophet himself alive, because the procession which carried
them was attended by crowds of people from Palestine to Chalcedon, singing
the praises of Christ, whose servant Samuel was.”

There is no abuse in the world which cannot be justified, if the example
of persons occupying a high station or that of great numbers is sufficient
for it. The advocates of the adoration of relics in our own days may
defend it by the fact that about half a million of people went in 1845 to
worship the holy coat of Treves, and that still more recently great
honours were paid to the relics of St Theodosia at Amiens, by a number of
distinguished persons,—bishops, archbishops, and even cardinals. The
_autos da fé_ of the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions could not be
wrong, since kings, queens, and the most eminent persons of the state,
approved them by their presence. Idolatry cannot be an error, since so
many monarchs, statesmen, and learned men, had conformed to its rites;
whilst, on the other side, the same reason may be pleaded for the penal
laws of Ireland, and other enactments against the Roman Catholics, because
they were established and maintained by so many parliaments. Jerome
maintained that it was a calumny of Vigilantius to say that the Christians
burnt candles in daylight, though he admitted that it was done by some men
and women in order to honour the martyrs. He did not approve of it,
because their zeal was without knowledge; but he thought that on account
of their good intention, they would be rewarded according to their faith,
like the woman who had anointed the feet of our Lord. He also tried to
justify the use of candles by those passages of the Scriptures where an
allusion was made to _lamps and lights_; as, for instance, the parable of
the virgins, the expression of the Psalm cxix. 105, “Thy word is a lamp
unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

The rest of the arguments which St Jerome employs in refuting what he
calls the errors and heresies of Vigilantius are of a similar nature to
those which have been given above; and it is really astonishing to see
that a man like this celebrated father, who is generally considered as one
of the great luminaries of the church, not only by Roman Catholics, but
also by some Protestants, could descend to such miserable shifts, and
indulge in such violent language as he did, in his answer to Vigilantius,
which bears a strong mark of having been dictated more by his personal
feelings against his former friend and benefactor, than by a conviction of
the justice of the cause which he was defending on that occasion. It is,
however, evident from the other writings of the same father of the church,
that his imagination was much more powerful than his reasoning faculties,
and that he had entirely forgotten the precept of St Paul, to “_refuse
profane and old wives’ fables_”—(1 Timothy iv. 7)—because no one has ever
indulged in more absurd fables than this good father did, in his lives of
St Hilarion and St Paul, two celebrated monks, and of which the following
is a fair specimen:—

“A Christian citizen of Majuma, called Italicus, kept horses for racing,
but was continually beaten by his rival, a pagan ducumvir of Gaza, who, by
using certain charms and diabolical incantations, contrived always to damp
the spirits of the Christian’s horses, and to give vigour to his own.
Italicus applied, therefore, for help to St Hilarion, who, thinking that
it was improper to make prayers for such a frivolous object, advised
Italicus to sell his horses, and to give their price to the poor, for the
salvation of his soul. Italicus represented, however, that he was
discharging against his inclination the duties of a public office, and
that as a Christian could not resort to magical means, he addressed
himself to a servant of God, particularly as it was important to defeat
the inhabitants of Gaza, who were known as enemies of Christ, and that it
was not so much for his own interests as for those of the church that he
wished to overcome his rival. Hilarion, convinced by these reasons, filled
with water an earthen vessel, from which he usually drank, and delivered
it to Italicus, who sprinkled with the water his horses, his chariots and
charioteers, his stables, and even the barriers of the racing ground. The
whole city was in a great excitement, the idolaters deriding the
Christians, who loudly expressed their confidence of victory. The signal
being given, the Christian’s horses flew with an extreme rapidity, and
left those of his rival far behind. This miracle produced a very great
effect upon the spectators, and many persons, including the beaten party,
became converts to Christianity.”

The above-mentioned work is filled with fables still more extravagant than
the one which I have related, and which entirely throw into the shade the
celebrated tales of Munchausen. Jerome complained that many people, whom,
in his Christian meekness, he calls _Scyllean dogs_, were laughing at the
stories related in those works, and which he begins by invoking the
assistance of the Holy Ghost. Was it then a wonder that a Christianity,
defended by such wretched superstitions, was frequently abandoned by
individuals, who, comparing the Christian legends of the kind quoted above
with the fictions of Pagan mythology, preferred the latter as being more
poetical? and, indeed, we have instances of the ridicule which the Pagans
attempted to throw upon Christianity, by comparing its saints with their
own gods and demigods.

I must, however, return once more to Vigilantius.(52) The Roman Catholic
historian of the church, Baronius, who calls him “_a horned beast, a fool,
and furious, who had reached the last degree of folly and fury_,” &c.,
&c., maintains that his heresy was solemnly condemned by the Pope Innocent
I., whom the bishops of Gallia had addressed on this subject. He also says
that the same heresy produced terrible consequences; because two years
after Vigilantius had spread his doctrines, the Vandals and other
barbarians invaded Gallia, and destroyed all his adherents. Admitting even
with Baronius that Vigilantius was a damnable heretic, it cannot be denied
that this learned historian had a very strange notion of divine justice,
because the barbarians alluded to above destroyed a great number of
churches and relics, as well as those who prayed at their shrines, whilst
Vigilantius died quietly, and, notwithstanding the assertion of Baronius,
never was excluded from the communion of the church, or even condemned by
her legal authorities.

We know from Vigilantius’ opponents that his opinions were approved by
many, and there can be no doubt that there was, not only in his days, but
long after him, a good number of witnesses for the truth, who opposed the
rapid spread of Pagan ideas and practices in the church. Thus, at the end
of the sixth century, Serenus, bishop of Marseilles, removed all the
images from his church, because the people worshipped them. This produced
a great discontent amongst many people of his diocese, who appealed to
Pope Gregory I. in favour of the images. The Pope advised a middle course,
_i.e._, that the images should remain in the church, but that it should
not be allowed to worship them. Serenus, however, who well knew that the
one infallibly led to the other, refused to comply with the papal
injunctions, upon which Gregory wrote to him again, saying that he praised
his zeal in not suffering the worship of any thing that was made by the
hand of man; but that images should not be destroyed, because pictures
were used in churches to teach the ignorant by sight what they could not
read in books, &c.(53)

We therefore see that at the end of the sixth century, the celebrated Pope
Gregory I., surnamed the Great, considered the worship of images as an
abuse to be prohibited, but which was afterwards legalised by his
successors, and an opposition to it declared heresy.

I could produce other evidences to show that the worship of images was
condemned by many bishops and priests of the period which I have
described, though they approved their use as a means of teaching the
illiterate, or tolerated them as an unavoidable evil. The limits of this
essay allow me not, however, to extend my researches on this subject, and
I shall endeavour to give in the next chapter a rapid sketch of the
violent reaction against the worship of images in the east by the
iconoclast emperors, and of the more moderate, but no less decided,
opposition to the same practice in the west by Charlemagne.



Chapter V. Reaction Against The Worship Of Images And Other Superstitious
Practices By The Iconoclast Emperors Of The East.


The worship of images, as well as other Pagan practices, introduced into
the church during the fourth and fifth centuries, were prevailing in the
east as much as in the west; and I have mentioned, p. 9, that the monks,
particularly those of Egypt, had greatly contributed to the introduction
of anthropomorphism into the Christian church. A great blow to
image-worship was given in the east by the rise and rapid progress of
Mahometanism, whose followers, considering it as idolatry, destroyed many
objects to which certain miraculous virtues had been ascribed, and they
constantly taunted the Christians with their belief in such superstitions.
The Jews addressed the same reproaches to the Christians; “yet,” as Gibbon
has justly observed, “their servitude might curb their zeal and depreciate
their authority; but the triumphant Mussulman, who reigned at Damascus,
and threatened Constantinople, cast into the scale of reproach the
accumulated weight of truth and victory.”(54) And, indeed, there could not
be a stronger argument against the efficacy of images than the rapid
conquest by the Mahometans of many Christian cities which relied upon a
miraculous defence by some images preserved in their churches. This
circumstance could not but produce, in the minds of many thinking
Christians, a conviction of the absurdity of image-worship, and the spread
of such opinions must have been promoted by congregations who had
preserved the purity of primitive worship, and of whom it appears that
there were several still extant in the eighth century, as well as by the
influence of Armenia, a country with which the eastern empire had frequent
intercourse of a political and commercial nature, and whose church
rejected at that time the worship of images. This party wanted only a
leader and favourable circumstances in order publicly to assert their
condemnation of the prevailing practice, which they considered as sinful
idolatry. The accession of Leo III., the Isaurian, in 717, who, from an
inferior condition, rose by his talents and military prowess to the
imperial throne, gave to that party what they required, for he shared
their opinions, and was a man of great energy and ability. The troubles of
the state, which the valour and political wisdom of Leo saved from
impending ruin, occupied too much the first years of that emperor’s reign
to allow him to undertake a reform of the church. But in 727 he assembled
a council of senators and bishops, and decided, with their consent, that
all the images should be removed in the churches from the sanctuary and
the altar, to a height where they might be seen, but not worshipped, by
the congregation.(55) It was, however, impossible to follow long this
middle course, as the adherents of the images contrived to worship them in
spite of their elevation, while their opponents taxed the emperor with
want of zeal, holding out to him the example of the Jewish monarch, who
had caused the brazen serpent to be broken. Leo therefore ordered all
kinds of images to be destroyed; and though his edict met with some
opposition,(56) it was put into execution throughout the whole empire,
with the exception of the Italian provinces, which, instigated by Pope
Gregory II., a zealous defender of images, revolted against the emperor,
and resisted all his efforts to regain his dominion over them. This
monarch died in 741, after a not inglorious reign of twenty-four years,
and was succeeded on the throne by his son Constantine VIII., surnamed
Copronymus. All the information which we possess about this monarch, as
well as the other iconoclast emperors, is derived from historians
violently opposed to their religious views. These writers represent
Constantine VIII. as one of the greatest monsters that ever disgraced
humanity, stained by every imaginable vice; and having exhausted all the
usual terms of opprobrium, they invent some such ridiculous expressions as
a “_leopard generated by a lion, an aspic born from the seeds of a
serpent, a flying dragon_,” &c.; but they do not adduce in confirmation of
these epithets any of those criminal acts which have disgraced the reigns
of many Byzantine emperors, whose piety is extolled by the same writers.
We know, moreover, by the evidence of those very historians who have
bespattered with all those opprobrious terms the memory of Constantine,
that he was a brave and skilful leader, who defeated the Arabs, the most
formidable enemies of the empire, and restored several of its lost
provinces, and that the country was prosperous under his reign of
thirty-four years—741 to 775.

The beginning of Constantine’s reign was disturbed by his own
brother-in-law, Artabasdes, who, supported by the adherents of the images,
competed for the imperial throne, but was defeated, and his party crushed.
Constantine, desiring to abolish the abuse, which he regarded as idolatry,
by a solemn decision of the church declared, in 753, his intention to
convoke for this object a general council; and in order that the question
at issue should be thoroughly sifted, he enjoined all the bishops of the
empire to assemble local synods, and to examine the subject, previously to
its being debated by the general council. This council, composed of three
hundred and thirty-eight bishops, met at Constantinople in 754, and, after
having deliberated for six months, decided that, _conformably to Holy Writ
and the testimony of the fathers, all images were to be removed from the
churches, and whoever would dare to make an image, in order to place it in
a church, to worship it, or to keep it concealed in his house, was, if a
clerk, to be deposed, if a layman, to be anathematised_. The council
added, that those who adhered to the images were to be punished by the
imperial authorities as _enemies of the doctrine of the fathers, and
breakers of the law of God_. This decision was pronounced by the assembled
bishops unanimously, and without a single dissentient voice, which had
never been the case before. This assembly took the title of the Seventh
Ecumenical Council, and the emperor ordered its decision to be put into
execution throughout all his dominions. The images were removed from the
churches, and those which were painted on the walls covered with
whitewash. The principal opposition to the imperial order was offered by
the monks, who were always the chief promoters of image-worship; and
Constantine is accused of having repressed this opposition with a violence
common to that barbarous age. He is said to have entertained the greatest
hatred against these monks, calling them idolaters, and their dresses the
_dress of darkness_—an opinion with which many persons will be found to
chime, I think, even in our own time. Constantine died in 775, and was
followed on the throne by his son, Leo IV., who inherited the religious
views of his father; whilst his wife, Irene, a beautiful and talented, but
ambitious and unprincipled woman, was a secret worshipper of images. Leo,
who was of a weak constitution, died after a reign of five years,
appointing Irene the guardian of his minor son Constantine, who was then
ten years old. Irene governed the empire with great ability, but was too
fond of power to surrender it to her son at his coming of age, and he
tried to obtain by force what was due to him by right. The party of Irene
proved, however, the stronger; and young Constantine was taken prisoner,
and his mother caused him to be deprived of sight. Irene’s orders were
executed in such an atrocious manner, that the unfortunate prince died in
consequence.(57) Irene governed the empire with great splendour, but her
first object was to restore the worship of images; and the machinations by
which she accomplished this object have been so well related by Gibbon,
that I cannot do better than copy his account of them:—

“Under the reign of Constantine VIII., the union of the civil and
ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root
of superstition. The idols, for such they were now held, were secretly
cherished by the order and the sex most prone to devotion; and the fond
alliance of the monks and females obtained a final victory over the reason
and authority of man. Leo IV. maintained with less rigour the religion of
his father and grandfather, but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene,
had imbibed the zeal of the Athenians,(58) the heirs of the idolatry
rather than philosophy of their ancestors. During the life of her husband,
these sentiments were inflamed by danger and dissimulation, and she could
only labour to protect and promote some favourite monks, whom she drew
from their caverns, and seated on the metropolitan thrones of the east.
But as soon as she reigned in her own name, and in that of her son, Irene
more seriously undertook the ruin of the iconoclasts, and the first step
of her future persecution was a general edict for liberty of conscience.
In the restoration of the monks, a thousand images were exposed to the
public veneration; a thousand legends were invented of their sufferings
and miracles. By the opportunities of death and removal, the episcopal
seats were judiciously filled; the most eager competitors for celestial or
earthly favour anticipated and flattered the judgment of their sovereign;
and the promotion of her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the patriarch of
Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the decrees of
a general council could only be repealed by a similar assembly; the
iconoclasts, whom she convened, were bold in possession, and averse to
debate; and the feeble voice of the bishops was re-echoed by the more
formidable clamour of the soldiers and the people of Constantinople. The
delay and intrigues of a year, the separation of the disaffected troops,
and the choice of Nice for a second orthodox synod, removed these
obstacles; and the episcopal conscience was again, after the Greek
fashion, in the hands of the prince.”—_Gibbon’s Roman Empire_, chap. xlix.
This council, held in 786, restored the worship of images by the unanimous
sentence of three hundred and fifty bishops. The acts of this synod have
been preserved, and they are stated by Gibbon to be “a curious monument of
superstition and ignorance, of falsehood and folly.” I am afraid that
there is but too much truth in this severe judgment of Gibbon; and the
following passage relating to the same council, which I have extracted,
not from Gibbon, or any writer of the school to which he belonged, but
from the celebrated Roman Catholic historian of the church, Abbé Fleury,
will enable the reader to form his own judgment on this subject.

After describing the confession of faith signed by that council, which
declared that the images of the saints are to be worshipped, because they
remind us of those whom they represent, and make us participators in their
merits, he says:—

“The last passages showed that God was making miracles by means of images;
and in order to confirm it, a discourse, ascribed to St Athanasius, was
read. It contained the account of a pretended miracle, which happened at
Beryt, with an image of Christ, which, having been pierced by the Jews,
emitted blood, which healed many sick persons. The fathers of the council
were so much moved by this account that they shed tears. It is, however,
certain, that this discourse is not by St Athanasius, and it is even very
doubtful whether the story which it contains is true. Thus it appears that
amongst all the bishops present at this council, there was not a single
one versed in the science of criticism, because many other false documents
were produced in that assembly. This proves nothing against the decision
of the council, because it is sufficiently supported by true documents. It
only proves the ignorance of the times, as well as the necessity of
knowing history, chronology, the difference of manners and styles, in
order to discern real documents from spurious ones.”(59)

Thus, according to the authority of one of the most eminent writers of the
Roman Catholic Church, the second Council of Nice, the first synod which
has given an explicit and solemn sanction to one of the most important
tenets of the Western and the Eastern churches, was composed of such
ignorant and silly prelates, that an absurd fable, contained in a forged
paper, could sway their minds and hearts in such a manner as to make them
shed tears of emotion, and that there was not a single individual amongst
these venerable fathers sufficiently informed to be able to discover a
fabrication so gross that it did not escape the attention of scholars who
lived many centuries afterwards.

Irene rigorously enforced the decrees of this council against the
opponents of images; and that woman, guilty of the death of her own son,
and suspected of that of her husband, is extolled by ecclesiastical
writers as a most pious princess. A contemporary Greek writer, and a
zealous defender of image-worship, the monk Theodore Studites, places her
above Moses, and says that “she had delivered the people from the Egyptian
bondage of impiety;” and the historian of the Roman Catholic Church,
Baronius, justifies her conduct by the following argument: that the hands
of the fathers were raised by a just command of God against their
children, who followed strange gods, and that Moses had ordered them to
consecrate themselves to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon
his brother, Exod. xxxii. 29, so that it was a high degree of piety to be
cruel to one’s own son; consequently Irene deserved on this account the
first crown of paradise; and that if she had committed the murder of her
son from motives of ambition, she would be worse than Agrippina, mother of
Nero; but if she did it through zeal for religion, as it appears by the
encomium which she had received from very holy men who lived at that time,
she deserves to be praised for her piety.

Irene’s piety, shown by the restoration of images, and the persecution of
their opponents, was indeed so much appreciated by the church, that she
received a place amongst the saints of the Greek calendar. She was,
however, less fortunate in her worldly affairs; because she was deposed in
802 by Nicephorus, who occupied the imperial throne, and exiled to Lesbos,
where she died in great poverty. He did not abolish the images, nor allow
the persecution of their opponents; and the ecclesiastical writers
represent him, on account of this liberal policy, as a perfect monster.
Nicephorus perished in a battle against the Bulgarians in 811, and his
successor Michael, who persecuted the iconoclasts, unable to maintain
himself on the throne, retired into a convent, after a reign of about two
years, and the imperial crown was assumed by Leo V., a native of Armenia,
and one of the most eminent leaders of the army, which elevated him to
this dignity.

Though all that we know about Leo V. is derived from authors zealously
opposed to his religious views, yet, notwithstanding all their _odium
theologicum_, they are obliged to admit that he was gallant in the field,
and just and careful in the administration of civil affairs. Being the
native of a country whose church still resisted the introduction of
images, he was naturally adverse to their worship, and the manner in which
he abolished it in his empire deserves a particular notice; because,
though related by his enemies, it proves that he was a sincere scriptural
Christian.

According to their relation, Leo believed that the victories obtained by
the barbarians, and other calamities to which the empire was exposed, were
a visitation of God in punishment of the worship of images; that he
demanded that a precept for adoring the images should be shown to him in
the gospels, and as the thing was impossible, he rejected them as idols
condemned by the Word of God. They also say, that the attention of Leo
being once drawn to this passage of the prophet Isaiah, “_To whom then
will you liken God? or what likeness will you compare unto him? The
workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with
gold and casteth silver chains_,” (xl. 18, 19,) this circumstance
irritated him more than any thing else against the images. He communicated
his sentiments to the patriarch, and requested him either to remove the
images, or to show a reason why they were worshipped, _since __ the
Scriptures did not order it_. The patriarch, who was an adherent of the
images, tried to elude this demand by various sophisms, which, not having
satisfied the emperor, he ordered divines of both parties to assemble in
his palace, and represented to them that Moses, who had received the law,
written with the hand of God, condemned, in the most explicit terms, those
who adored the works of men’s hands; that it was idolatry to worship them,
and great folly to attempt to confine the Infinite in a picture of the
size of an ell. It is said that the defenders of the images refused to
speak for the three following reasons:—1. That the canons prohibited to
doubt what had been determined by the second Council of Nice; 2. That the
clergy could not deliberate upon such matters in the imperial palace, but
in a church; and, 3. That the emperor was not a competent judge on this
occasion, because he was resolved to abolish the images. The emperor
deposed the patriarch, who defended the images, replacing him by another
who shared his own sentiments, and convened a council, which, with the
exception of a few of its members, decided for the abolition of the
images. The emperor ordered their removal, and sent several of their
defenders into exile; he soon, however, allowed them to return, and only
some few of the most zealous of them died in exile. The most celebrated of
these sufferers was Theodore Studites; and as he has obtained on this
account the honour of saintship, his opinions on the nature of images
deserve a particular notice. He maintained that as the shadow cannot be
separated from the body, as the rays of the sun are inseparable from that
planet, so the images are inseparable from the subjects which they
represent. He pretended that an image of Christ should be treated as if it
were Christ himself, saying, “_The image is nothing else than Christ
himself, except the difference of their essence; therefore, the worship of
the image is the worship of Jesus Christ_.” He considered those who were
removing images as “_destroyers of the incarnation of Christ, because he
does not exist if he cannot be painted_. We renounce Christ if we reject
his image; and refuse to worship him, if we refuse to adore his
image.”(60)

This defence of image-worship is, I think, a faithful exposition of the
anthropomorphistic ideas, which, as I have mentioned before, p. 9, had
been chiefly generated by the morbid imagination of the Egyptian monks,
and were supported by that numerous class, which formed the most zealous
and efficient defenders of the images. Leo V. was murdered in a church in
820; and Michael II., surnamed the Stammerer, whom the conspirators placed
on the throne, did not allow the images to be restored, though he was
moderate in his religious views. He recalled the defenders of the images
from exile, and seemed to steer a middle course between the enemies and
the defenders of images, though he shared the opinions of the former. He
was succeeded in 829 by his son, Theophilus,—a most decided opponent of
images,—and whose valour and love of justice are acknowledged by his
religious adversaries. He died in 841, leaving a minor son, Michael III.,
under the regency of his wife, Theodora. This princess, whose personal
character was irreproachable, governed the empire during thirteen years,
with considerable wisdom; but being an adherent of images, she restored
their worship,(61) which has since that time continued in the Greek Church
in perhaps even a more exaggerated form than in the Roman Catholic one,
and which can be without any impropriety called _iconolatry_, since
_idolatry_ may be perhaps considered as an expression too strong for ears
polite.

The struggle between the iconoclasts and the iconolaters, of which I have
given a mere outline, but which agitated the Eastern empire for nearly a
century and a half, ending in the complete triumph of the latter, deserves
the particular attention of all thinking Protestants; because it is
virtually the same contest that has been waged for more than three
centuries between Protestantism and Rome,(62) and which seems now to
assume a new phasis. I do not think that the ignorance of those times may
be considered as the principal cause of the triumph of the iconolatric
party, and that the spread of knowledge in our own day is a sufficient
safeguard against the recurrence of a similar contingency. There was in
the eighth and ninth centuries a considerable amount of learning at
Constantinople, where the treasures of classical literature, many of which
have since been lost, were preserved and studied.(63) The Greeks of that
time, though no doubt greatly inferior to the modern Europeans in physical
science, were not so in metaphysics and letters, whilst the gospel could
be read by all the educated classes in its original tongue, which was the
official, literary, and ecclesiastical language of the Eastern empire. The
Byzantine art was, moreover, very inferior to that of modern Europe, and
could not produce, except on some coarse and rustic intellects, that
bewitching effect, which the works of great modern painters and sculptors
often produce upon many refined and imaginative minds. It has been justly
remarked, by an accomplished writer of our day, that “the all-emancipating
press is occasionally neutralised by the soul-subduing miracles of
art.”(64)

The Roman Catholic Church perfectly understands this _soul-subduing_ power
of art, and the following is the exposition of her views on this subject
by one of her own writers, whom I have already quoted on a similar
subject, p. 51.

“That pictures and images in churches are particularly serviceable in
informing the minds of the humbler classes, and for such a purpose possess
a superiority over words themselves, is certain.


    “Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem,
    Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fldelibus et quæ
    Ipse sibi tradit spectator.”

    —_Horace de Arte Poetica_, v. 180.

    “What’s through the ear conveyed will never find
    Its way with so much quickness to the mind,
    As that, when faithful eyes are messengers,
    Unto himself the fixed spectator bears.”


“The remark of a heathen poet is corroborated by the observations of the
most celebrated amongst ancient and modern Christian writers. So persuaded
was St Paulinus of Nola, fourteen hundred years ago, of the efficacy
possessed by paintings for conveying useful lessons of instruction, that
he adorned with a variety of sacred subjects the walls of a church which
he erected, and dedicated to God in honour of St Felix.

“Prudentius assures us how much his devotion was enkindled, as he gazed
upon the sufferings of martyrs, so feelingly depicted around their tombs
and in their churches. On his way to Rome, about the year 405, the poet
paid a visit to the shrine of St Cassianus, at Forum Cornelii, the modern
Imola, where the body of that Christian hero reposed, under a splendid
altar, over which were represented, in an expressive picture, all the
sufferings of his cruel martyrdom.(65) So moved was Prudentius, that he
threw himself upon the pavement, kissed the altar with religious
reverence, and numbering up with many a tear those wounds that sin had
inflicted upon his soul, concluded by exhorting every one to unite with
himself in intrusting their petitions for the divine clemency to the
solicitude of the holy martyr Cassianus, who will not only hear our
request, but will afford us the benefit of his patronage.”(66)

The anecdote of Prudentius evidently proves that what originally had been
intended for the instruction of the people, may very easily become an
object of their adoration. If a man of a superior education, like
Prudentius,(67) could be carried away by his feelings in such a manner as
to address his prayers to a dead man, how much greater must be the effect
of images upon less cultivated minds! and I have related, p. 88, on the
authority of the great Roman Catholic historian, Fleury, that the fathers
of the second Council of Nice, who, according to the same authority, were
a very ignorant set, shed tears at the sight of an image represented in an
absurd and fictitious story.

Such are the effects produced in teaching religion by means of images.
There can be no doubt about the truth of the observations contained in the
lines of Horace, which the author of “Hierurgia” quotes in defence of
images; but these observations refer to the theatre, and it appears to me
that the application of purely scenic precepts to the house of God is
something very like converting divine service into a comedy.

The limits of this essay allow me not to discuss the chances of an
iconolatric reaction in our days. I shall only observe, that in several
countries where the iconoclasts of the Reformation had gained a
predominant position, they were entirely crushed by the iconolatric
reaction, and that a _fond alliance of females and monks_, supported by
the ruling powers of the state, achieved in these parts as great a victory
as that which it obtained in the east under Irene and Theodora, not only
over the reason of man, but even over the authority of the Word of God;
and I believe that the only human means of preventing similar
contingencies are free institutions, which allow the fullest liberty of
discussion in regard to all religious opinions.

I have said before, p. 82, that the Pope opposed the abolition of images
proclaimed by the Emperor Leo III., and that this opposition was shared by
the imperial provinces of Italy, which revolted on that occasion against
their sovereign, and separated from the Byzantine empire. It was therefore
natural that the second Council of Nice, which restored the worship of
images, should obtain the approbation of Pope Hadrian I.; but his desire
to impose the enactments of that council upon the churches of the West met
with a decided opposition on the part of Charlemagne. This great monarch,
who is so celebrated by his efforts to convert the Pagan Saxons,
prosecuted with all the barbarity of his age, and whom the church has
placed amongst her saints, was so offended by the enactments of the second
Council of Nice in favour of the worship of images, that he composed, or
what is more probable, ordered to be composed in his name, a book against
that worship, and sent it to Pope Hadrian I., as an exposition of his own
sentiments, as well as of those of his bishops, on the subject in
question. This work, though written in violent language, contains many
very rational views about images, and unanswerable arguments against all
kinds of adoration offered to them. The substance of this celebrated
protest is as follows:—

Charlemagne says, that there is no harm in having images in a church,
provided they are not worshipped; and that the Greeks had fallen into two
extremes, one of which was to destroy the images, as had been ordained by
the Council of Constantinople, under Constantine Copronymus, and the other
to worship them, as was decided by the second Council of Nice under Irene.
He censures much more severely this latter extreme than the former,
because those who destroyed images had merely acted with levity and
ignorance, whilst it was a wicked and profane action to worship them. He
compared the first to such as mix water with wine, and the others to those
who infuse a deadly poison into it; in short, there could be no comparison
between the two cases. He marks, with great precision, the different kinds
of worship offered to the images, rejecting all of them. The second
Council of Nice decided that this worship should consist of kisses and
genuflexions, as well as of burning incense and wax candles before them.
All these practices are condemned by Charlemagne, as so many acts of
worship offered to a created being. He addresses the defenders of the
worship of images in the following manner:—

“You who establish the purity of your faith upon images, go, if you like,
_and fall upon your knees and burn incense before them_; but with regard
to ourselves we shall seek the precepts of God in his Holy Writ. _Light
luminaries before your pictures_, whilst we shall read the Scriptures.
_Venerate, if you like, colours_; but we shall worship divine mysteries.
_Enjoy the agreeable sight of your pictures_; but we shall find our
delight in the Word of God. _Seek after figures which cannot either see,
or hear, or __ taste_; but we shall diligently seek after the law of God,
which is irreprehensible.” He further says:—“I see images which have such
inscriptions, as for instance St Paul, and I ask, therefore, those who are
involved in this great error, why they do call images _holy (sanctus)_,
and why they do not say, conformably to the tradition of the fathers, that
these are images of the _saints_? Let them say in what consists the
sanctity of the images? Is it in the wood which had been brought from a
forest in order to make them? Is it in the colours with which they are
painted, and which are often composed of impure substances? Is it in the
wax, which gets dirty?” He taunts the worshippers of images, pointing out
an abuse which even now is as inevitable as it was then. “If,” says he,
“two pictures perfectly alike, but of which one is meant for the Virgin
and the other for Venus, are presented to you, you will inquire which of
them is the image of the Virgin and which is that of Venus, because you
cannot distinguish them. The painter will call one of these pictures the
image of the Virgin, and it will be immediately put up in a _high place,
honoured, and kissed_; whilst the other, representing Venus, will be
thrown away with horror. These two pictures are, however, made by the same
hand, with the same brush, with the same colours; they have the same
features, and the whole difference between them lies in their
inscriptions. Why is the one received and the other rejected? It is not on
account of the sanctity which one of them has, and the other has not; it
is, then, on account of its inscription; and yet certain letters attached
to a picture cannot give it a sanctity which it otherwise had not.”

This work was published for the first time in 1549, by Tillet, Roman
Catholic bishop of Meaux in France, though under an assumed name, and it
has been reprinted several times. Its authenticity, which had been at
first impugned by some Roman Catholic writers, was finally established
beyond every dispute, and acknowledged by the most eminent writers of the
Roman Catholic Church, such as Mabillon, Sirmond, &c. It is a very
remarkable production, for it most positively rejects every kind of
worship offered to images, without making any difference between _Latria_
and _Dulia_, and I think that its republication might be of considerable
service at the present time.(68)

The Pope sent a long letter in answer to the protest of Charlemagne, which
did not, however, satisfy that monarch, because he convened in 794 a
council at Frankfort, at which he presided himself. This synod, composed
of three hundred bishops of France, Germany, and Spain, and at which two
legates of the Pope were present, condemned the enactment of the second
Council of Nice respecting the worship of images.

This decree of the Council of Frankfort is very important, because it not
only condemned the worship of images, but it virtually rejected the
infallibility of the Popes, as well as of the General Councils, since it
condemned what they had established.

The opposition to the worship of images continued amongst the Western
churches for some time after the death of Charlemagne. Thus an assembly of
the French clergy, held at Paris in 825, condemned the decree of the
second Council of Nice as decidedly as it was done by the work of
Charlemagne and the Council of Frankfort. Claudius, bishop of Turin, who
lived about that time, opposed the worship of images, which he removed
from his churches, calling those idolaters who adhered to this practice;
he also condemned the adoration of relics, of the figure of the cross,
&c.; and he was not inaptly called, on this account, by the Jesuit
historian Maimbourg, the first Protestant minister.

There are other traces of a similar opposition during the ninth century,
but it seems to have entirely disappeared in the tenth, and it was again
renewed by the Albigenses in the eleventh century. Their history, however,
is foreign to the object of the present essay; and I shall endeavour to
give in my next chapter a short sketch of the legends of the saints,
composed during the middle ages.



Chapter VI. Origin And Development Of The Pious Legends, Or Lives Of
Saints, During The Middle Ages.


A collection of the lives of the saints of the Roman Catholic calendar has
been accomplished by the Jesuits, and is well known as that of the
Bollandists, from the name of its first originator Bollandus. It extends
to fifty-three huge folios, though it has reached only to the middle of
October,(69) each day having a number of saints assigned to it for
commemoration. It contains, among a mass of the greatest absurdities, a
good deal of valuable information relating to the history of the middle
ages, particularly in respect to the customs and prevailing ideas of that
period. A great, if not the greatest part of the saints whose lives are
described in that collection have never existed, except in the imagination
of their biographers; and the best proof of this is that the learned
Benedictine monk, Dom Ruinart, an intimate friend and collaborator of the
celebrated Mabillon, has reduced the acts of martyrs, whom he considers as
true, to one moderate quarto, though the same work contains a refutation
of the Protestant Dodwell, who maintained that the number of the primitive
martyrs had been greatly exaggerated by their historians.(70)

The Christian church was already, at an early period of her existence,
disturbed by a great number of forgeries, relating to the history and
doctrine of our Lord and his disciples;(71) but the spirit in which they
were written, so contrary to that of the true Gospel, and the gross
absurdities which they contain, were convincing proofs of the apocryphal
character of those writings, which, consequently, were rejected as such
from the canon of Scripture. If the church could not escape such abuses at
a time when she was not yet infected by Pagan ideas and practices, she
became still more exposed to them after the abovementioned corruptions,
and when, as has already been said, p. 20, the Christian society was
invaded by whole populations, who, notwithstanding their abjuration of
heathenism, were Pagans in their manners, their tastes, their prejudices,
and their ignorance. There were, moreover, very great difficulties in
obtaining authentic information about the lives of the martyrs. I have
said, p. 3, that their memory was usually preserved in the churches to
which they had belonged. This was, however, entirely a local affair, and
though the report of such events had undoubtedly circulated amongst other
Christian congregations, there was no general register of martyrs
preserved by the whole church, which had no central point of union. The
means of communication between various places were, moreover, at that time
very imperfect, and this difficulty was increased by the persecutions to
which the primitive churches were often exposed. These persecutions
dispersed many churches, destroying their registers and other documents
belonging to them, whilst even a much greater number of them experienced a
similar calamity from the barbarian nations who successively invaded the
Roman empire. The accounts of the sufferings and death of the martyrs
rest, therefore, with the exception of some comparatively few
well-authenticated cases, upon the authority of vague and uncertain
traditions. These traditions were generally collected and put in writing
only centuries after the time when the event to which they relate had, or
is supposed to have taken place. It was therefore no wonder that the
subjects of many such accounts are purely imaginary. The nature of the
generality of these legends, or lives of martyrs and other saints, may be
judged of best from the following opinion expressed on this subject by a
Roman Catholic clergyman of unsuspected orthodoxy:—

“What shall I say of those saints of whose life we don’t know either the
beginning or the progress,—of those saints to whom so many praises are
given, though nobody knows anything about their end? Who may pray to them
to intercede for him, when it is impossible to know what degree of credit
they enjoy with God? We shall be obliged, indeed, to consider the most
part of the acts of martyrs, which are now produced with so much
confidence, as so many fables, and reject them as nothing better than
romances. It is true that their lives are written, like that of St
Ovidius, St Felicissimus, and St Victor! But, O God! what lives! what
libels! lives deserving a place in the Index of the Prohibited Books,
since they are filled with falsehoods, vain conjectures, or, to say the
least, are ascribing to unknown and apocryphal saints the true acts of the
most illustrious martyrs. Such things cannot but bring about a great
confusion in the history of the church, not to say in religion itself. It
is in this manner that the actions of St Felicissimus, who is generally
believed to have been a deacon to St Sixtus, are ascribed to a new
Felicissimus; and the virtues of St Victor of Milan are now given to a new
Victor, who has been recently brought to Paris. As regards the life of St
Ovidius, is there anything in it more than words and words? and can we
find in it anything solid? This little book speaks of a leaden plate upon
which the senatorial dignity and the year of this saint’s martyrdom are
inscribed. Why is not this inscription given? Why is not at least the
precise date of his martyrdom named? It is said that St Ovidius suffered
towards the end of the second century; is this the manner of fixing the
year of his death? No, no; the ancients did not mark the time in such a
manner; they did not take an uncertain century for the certain epoch of a
year. I am much afraid that this inscription is by no means so authentic
as people wish to persuade us. But there was found in his grave a little
glass vessel; a palm is engraved upon his sepulchre; and his skull has the
appearance of being pierced with a lance. Well, these marks may prove that
St Ovidius was a martyr; but are they sufficient to establish the truth of
his life, such as it has been published?”(72)

I would, however, observe, that many writers of the lives of saints,
without excepting those who are considered legitimate, have rendered
themselves guilty of something worse than the plagiarism of which the
learned Mabillon complains in the passage given above. They may be accused
of having blasphemously parodied the Scriptures, and particularly the
Gospels, by ascribing many of the miracles recorded in the Bible to the
subjects of their biographies. M. Maury, the French savant whom I have
already quoted (p. 11), has traced a great number of miracles ascribed to
various saints, which are nothing but imitations of this kind. This
sacrilegious plagiarism is not confined to the middle ages, but has been
practised in modern times, as is evident from the two following miracles
ascribed to the celebrated Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier, who died in 1552.
It is said that during his residence in Japan a woman of his acquaintance
lost her daughter, after having sought in vain during her illness for St
Francis, who was absent on some journey. At his return the bereaved mother
fell at his feet, and said, weeping, like Martha to our Saviour, “Lord, if
thou hadst been here, my daughter had not died,”—(John xi. 21.) The saint,
moved by the entreaties of the mother, ordered her to open the grave of
her daughter, and restored her to life. Another time the same saint said
to a father whose daughter had died, in the same manner as Jesus Christ
said to the centurion whose servant was sick, “Go thy way; thy daughter is
healed.”(73)

Had these miracles been performed in our part of the world, they would
have converted crowds of Protestants, and thus greatly advanced the
principal object of the order to which St Francis Xavier belonged; but the
air of Europe seems to have been unfavourable for such wonderful
experiments, since the good saint was obliged to betake himself to Japan
in order successfully to perform them.

It is true that the legend writers make no attempt at concealing these
imitations, but, on the contrary, insist upon the likeness of the miracles
performed by their saint to those of our Saviour, as a proof of the high
degree of sanctity attained by the former. No saint, however, of the Roman
Catholic or Græco-Russian calendar had so many miracles ascribed to him,
particularly of the kind mentioned above, as St Francis of Assisi, the
celebrated founder of the mendicant monks, and who, considering the
immense influence which his disciples have exercised on the Catholic
world, was perhaps one of the most extraordinary characters which the
middle ages produced.

It has been frequently observed, that genius is akin to madness, and that
the partition by which the two are separated is so thin that it
occasionally becomes quite imperceptible. Such a condition of the human
mind has perhaps never been exemplified in a more striking manner than by
the life of this famous saint, which presents a strange mixture of the
noblest acts of charity and self-devotion, the wildest freaks of a madman,
and of genial conceptions worthy of the most eminent statesman and
philosopher. The best proof of his genius is the great influence which the
order instituted by him has exercised during several centuries in many
countries, and which even now has not yet lost its vitality. It must also
be admitted, that neither St Francis nor his disciples can be charged with
any of those atrocities by which the life of his contemporary St Dominic,
of bloody memory, the founder of the inquisition, and the preacher of the
crusade against the Albigenses, as well as the annals of his order, are
stained. Neither can it be denied that Francis, as well as his followers,
have on many occasions mitigated the barbarity of their age. His immense
popularity is, however, as I think, chiefly due to the circumstance that
his order, principally destined to act upon the lower classes, was
recruited from the most numerous and most ignorant part of the population;
and is it necessary to observe that the less men are educated, the more
they are prone to credulity and exaggeration? Much learning was not
required for the admission to this democratic order, and its ranks were
increased by the creation of a class whose members remained in the world,
binding themselves only to the observation of some devotional practices
and moral precepts. All this contributed to spread the order of St
Francis, to which both sexes are admitted, with a marvellous rapidity over
many countries; at the same time its members were extolling the virtues
and supposed miracles of their founder in the most exaggerated and often
ludicrous manner, of which the following anecdote may serve as a
specimen:—A Franciscan monk, who was one day preaching about the merits of
the founder of his order, began his sermon in the following manner: “Where
shall I place the great St Francis? Amongst the saints? This is not enough
for his merits. Amongst the angels? no, ’tis not enough. Amongst the
archangels? ’tis not enough. Amongst the seraphims? ’tis not enough.
Amongst the cherubims? ’tis not enough.” He was, however, on a sudden
released, by one of his hearers, from his perplexity about a proper
location for his saint, who, rising from his seat, said, “Reverend father,
as I see that you cannot find for St Francis a proper place in heaven, I
shall give up to him mine on this bench;” which having said, he left the
church.

The story does not say whether this good monk was satisfied with the place
so unexpectedly offered to his saint, or where he would have stopped
without this timely interruption; but we know, from many other cases, that
St Francis was compared by his disciples to our Saviour. Thus, in a work
published by the Father Bartholomeus of Pisa, and entitled “The Golden
Book of the Conformities of the Life of St Francis with that of Jesus
Christ,”(74) the author maintains that the birth of St Francis was
announced by prophets; that he had twelve disciples, one of whom, called
John Capella, was rejected by him, like Judas Iscariot by our Lord; that
he had been tempted by the devil, but without success; that he was
transfigured; that he had suffered the same passion as our Saviour, though
he never was subject to any persecution or ill-usage, but died quietly, in
1218, amidst his devoted admirers. Other writers pushed even farther the
blasphemous comparison, boasting that St Francis had performed many more
miracles than our Lord, because Christ changed water into wine but once,
whilst St Francis did it thrice; and that instead of the few miraculous
cures mentioned in the Gospels, St Francis and his disciples had opened
the eyes of more than a thousand blind, cured more than a thousand lame,
and restored to life more than a thousand dead.

The greatest miracle, however, that has ever been wrought by St Francis
has taken place in our own days, and its authenticity admits of no doubt
whatever. It is a life of this famous saint, published by M. Chavin de
Malan; and my readers may form an adequate idea of its contents by the
following extract from an admirable article in the “Edinburgh Review” for
July 1847:—“Though amongst the most passionate and uncompromising devotees
of the Church of Rome, M. Chavin de Malan also is in one sense a
Protestant. He protests against any exercise of human reason in examining
any dogma which that church inculcates, or any fact which she alleges. The
most merciless of her cruelties affect him with no indignation, the
silliest of her prodigies with no shame, the basest of her superstitions
with no contempt. Her veriest dotage is venerable in his eyes. Even the
atrocities of Innocent III. seem to this all-extolling eulogist but to
augment the triumph and the glories of his reign. If the soul of the
confessor of Simon de Montfort, retaining all the passions and all the
prejudices of that era, should transmigrate into a doctor of the Sorbonne,
conversant with the arts and literature of our own times, the result might
be the production of such an ecclesiastical history as that of which we
have here a specimen,—elaborate in research, glowing in style, vivid in
portraiture, utterly reckless and indiscriminate in belief, extravagant up
to the very verge of idolatry in applause, and familiar far beyond the
verge of indecorum with the most awful topics and objects of the Christian
faith.”—(Pp. 1, 2.)(75)

Now, I ask my reader whether the publication of such a work, in the year
of grace 1845, at Paris, is not a perfect miracle, and undoubtedly much
more genuine than all those which it describes?

We live indeed in an age of wonders, physical as well as moral, and
neither of them have escaped the all-powerful influence of the great
moving spring of our time, and the principal cause of its rapid
advance,—_i.e._, competition. England, which is foremost in many, and not
behind in any, inventions and discoveries of the day, has maintained her
rank, and even perhaps gone ahead, in the production of such moral
miracles as that of which I have given a specimen above. And, indeed, the
lives of the English saints, published in the years 1844 and 1845, in the
capital of this Protestant country, may fearlessly challenge a comparison
with the work of M. Chavin de Malan. They are, moreover, ascribed to a
clergyman of the Church of England, who, though he has since gone over to
Rome, was at that time receiving the wages of the Protestant Establishment
of this country as one of its servants and defenders.(76) The few
following extracts from this curious work will enable my readers to judge
whether I have over-estimated the capabilities of this work for a
successful competition with its French rival:—

“Many of these (legends) are so well fitted to illustrate certain
principles which should be borne in mind in considering mediæval miracles,
that they deserve some attention. Not that any thing here said is intended
to _prove_ that the stories of miracles, said to be wrought in the middle
ages, are true. Men will always believe or disbelieve their truth, in
proportion as they are disposed to admit or reject the antecedent
probability of the existence of a perpetual church, endowed with unfailing
divine powers. And the reason of this is plain. Ecclesiastical miracles
presuppose Catholic faith, just as Scripture miracles, and Scripture
itself, presuppose the existence of God. Men, therefore, who disbelieve
the faith, will of course disbelieve the story of the miracles, which, if
it is not appealed to as a proof of the faith, at least takes it for
granted. For instance, the real reason for rejecting the account of the
vision which appeared to St Waltheof in the holy Eucharist, must be
disbelief of the Catholic doctrine.”(77)

The miracle alluded to above, and which cannot be rejected without
disbelief in the Catholic doctrine, is as follows:—“On Christmas-day, when
the convent was celebrating the nativity of our Lord, as the friar was
elevating the host, in the blessed sacrifice of the mass, he saw in his
hand a child fairer than the children of men, having on his head a crown
of gold studded with jewels. His eyes beamed with light, and his face was
more radiant than the whitest snow; and so ineffably sweet was his
countenance, that the friar kissed the feet and the hands of the heavenly
child. After this the divine vision disappeared, and Waltheof found in his
hands the consecrated water.”(78)

The whole collection is full of similar stories, some of which are really
outrageous; as, for instance, that which it relates about St Augustine,
the great apostle of England.

This saint was, during his peregrinations about the country, received with
great honours in the north of England; “but,” says the work in question,
“very different from this are the accounts of his travels in Dorsetshire.
While there, we hear of his having come to one village, where he was
received with every species of insult. The wretched people, not content
with heaping abusive words upon the holy visitors, assailed them with
missiles, in which work, the place being probably a sea-port, the sellers
of fish are related to have been peculiarly active. Hands, too, were laid
upon the archbishop and his company. Finding all efforts useless, the
godly company shook the dust from their feet, and withdrew. The
inhabitants are said to have suffered the penalty of their impieties, even
to distant generations. All the children born from that time bore and
transmitted the traces of their parents’ sins in the shape of a loathsome
deformity.”(79)

The writer who relates this story had not the courage or the honesty of M.
Chavin de Malan to tell that the insult offered to the holy visitors
consisted in attaching tails of fish to their robes, and that the
loathsome deformity, with which the children of the perpetrators of that
insult were born during many generations, was a tail.

Absurd as this monkish story is, it is nevertheless characteristic of the
spirit of the sacerdotal pride and vindictiveness which would punish a
silly joke, by which the dignity of the priestly order was offended, with
a heavy calamity, entailed upon the innocent descendants of its
perpetrators through many generations; and yet the fables of this modern
mythology cannot be, according to our author, rejected _without disbelief
of the Catholic doctrine_. This is not, however, his personal opinion; and
he has only asserted, in a more decisive manner than it has been done for
a considerable time, a principle which the Roman Catholic Church cannot
disavow, though it may place her in an embarrassing position; and as an
illustration of this, I shall give the following anecdote:—

Under the reign of Frederic II., a Prussian soldier stole a costly
ornament from an image of the Virgin, which enjoyed a great reputation for
its miraculous powers. The theft being discovered, the culprit pleaded in
his defence that, having addressed a fervent prayer to the above-mentioned
image for help in his poverty, it gave him this ornament to relieve him
from his distress. This affair was reported to the king, who, being much
amused by the soldier’s device, required the Roman Catholic bishop in
whose diocese this theft was committed to give a positive opinion whether
the image in question could work miracles of this kind or not? The bishop
could not, without showing _disbelief in the Catholic doctrine_, deny the
possibility of the miracle, and was therefore obliged to give an
affirmative reply. The king, therefore, pardoned the soldier, on condition
of never accepting presents from this or any other image or saint
whatever.

The author of this essay, though a firm believer in the existence of God
and the truth of the Scriptures, has not the advantage of being inspired
with faith in the Catholic doctrine; he therefore will continue his
researches in the same manner as before.

Many legends originated from misunderstanding the emblematic character of
some pictures. Thus the celebrated Spanish lady saint and authoress, St
Theresa, was, on account of her eloquent and impassioned effusions of love
addressed to the Deity, painted by a Spanish artist having her heart
pierced with an arrow, in allusion to the words of the Psalmist, “For
thine arrows stick fast in me,” &c.—(Ps. xxxviii. 2.) She died quietly in
her convent towards the end of the sixteenth century, and though the
particulars of her life and death are generally known, there were some
legend writers who related that she died a martyr, pierced by an arrow. If
such confusion of ideas could happen in a time when literature and science
had made considerable progress, and when the art of printing was already
universally known, how much more frequently such things must have occurred
during the prevailing ignorance of the middle ages! And, indeed, there are
many wild legends which have originated from a similar source, and of
which the most celebrated is that of St Denis, which has been also related
of other saints. This martyr, supposed to have been beheaded, was
represented holding his head in his hand, as an emblem of the manner of
his death. The writer of his legend took this emblem for the
representation of a real fact, and loosening the reins of his imagination,
related that the saint, after having been beheaded, took up his head,
kissed it, and walked away with it.(80)

It is a general tendency of a gross and unenlightened mind to materialise
the most abstract and spiritual ideas, and then what is simply an allegory
becomes with him a reality. It was this tendency which, during the
mediæval ignorance, gave often a literal sense to what is only typical,
and it was carried so far that even the parables of our Lord were
constructed into real stories. Thus, Lazarus was a poor saint who lived in
great want, and was made after his death the patron of beggars and lepers.
The parable of the prodigal son has furnished materials for many a legend;
and to crown all these pious parodies, a monk has shown to the well-known
Eastern traveller Hasselquist, the very spot upon which the good Samaritan
assisted the wounded man, who had been left unheeded by the priest and the
Levite. Future rewards and punishments, heaven and hell, were also
represented in a grossly material manner, that gave rise to many absurd
legends, generally invented with the object of supporting the pretensions
of the church, to have the power of sending at pleasure the souls of the
departed to either of these places.(81)

I have already spoken of the effects which the solitary and ascetic life
of the early monks produced upon their imagination. The same thing took
place amongst the recluses of the convents, but particularly nunneries.
“The imaginations of women,” says a celebrated author whom I have already
quoted, “as their feelings are more keen and exquisite, are more
susceptible and ungovernable than those of men; more obnoxious to the
injurious influence of solitude; more easily won upon by the arts of
delusion, and inflamed by the contagion of the passions.” Hence we may
account for the rapidity with which in orphan houses, cloisters, and other
institutions, where numbers of the sex are intimately connected with each
other, the sickness, humour, habits, of one, if conspicuous and
distinguished, become those of all. I remember to have read in a medical
writer of considerable merit, that in a French convent of nuns, of more
than common magnitude, one of the sisters was seized with a strange
impulse to mew like a cat, in which singular propensity she was shortly
imitated by several other sisters, and finally, without a solitary
exception, by the whole convent, who all joined at regular periods in a
general mew that lasted several hours. The neighbourhood heard, with more
astonishment than edification, the daily return of this celestial
symphony, which was silenced, after many ineffectual measures, by
terrifying the modesty of the sex with the menace, that, on any future
repetition of their concert, a body of soldiers, pretended to be stationed
at the gates of the monastery, would be called in to inflict upon them a
discipline at once shameful and severe.

“Among all the epidemic fancies of the sex I have found upon record, none
equals that related by Cardan to have displayed itself in the fifteenth
century,—which forcibly illustrates what has been remarked of the
intuitive contagion by which fantastic affection is propagated among
women. A nun in a certain German convent was urged by an unaccountable
impulse to bite all her companions; and her strange caprice gradually
spread to others, till the whole body was infected by the same fury. Nor
did the evil confine itself within these limits: the report of this
strange mania travelled from one province to another, and every where
conveyed with it the infectious folly, from cloister to cloister, through
the German empire; from thence extending itself on each side to Holland
and Italy, the nuns at length worried one another from Rome to Amsterdam.

“Numberless instances might be quoted to demonstrate the force with which
the strangest and most wild propensities fasten themselves on the
imagination, and conquer and tyrannise over the will, when the soul is
debarred from a free intercourse with its species, and left too
uninterruptedly to its own unbridled musings. But those which we have
related may be sufficient to show the danger into which he runs who
delivers himself unconditionally to the custody of solitude, and does not
arm himself against its faithless hospitality. Shut up in a barren and
monotonous leisure, without studies to occupy curiosity, without objects
to amuse the senses, or to interest and to attract the affections to any
thing human, fancy will escape into the worlds of chimerical existence,
there to seek amusement and exercise. How fondly does it then embrace and
cherish angelical visions, or infernal phantoms, prodigies, or miracles!
or should its reveries take another direction, with what increasing
eagerness and confidence do its hopes hunt after the delusions of alchemy,
the fictions of philosophy, and the delirium of metaphysics! In cases
where the mind is less capacious, and its stores less copious, it will
attach itself to some absurd notion, the child of its languid and
exhausted powers; and bestowing its fondest confidence on this darling of
its dotage, will abandon reason and outrage common sense.”(82)

I have given this lengthened extract from Zimmerman, because I think it
satisfactorily explains those mystic _visions_ as well as _infernal
phantoms_, with which the mediæval legends and chronicles, generally
composed by monks, abound, and which are often unjustly ascribed to fraud
and wilful deception. Medical science, as well as all the branches of
natural philosophy, being then in a very imperfect condition, such
phenomena as those of nuns mewing like cats or biting like dogs, which are
mentioned by Zimmerman, were not explained as nervous diseases, but
ascribed to the possession of evil spirits; and I frankly confess that I
am by no means sure, that if cases like those mentioned above were to
happen in our enlightened age, there would not be found many good folks
ascribing them to a similar agency. It must be also remembered that, if
notwithstanding the extreme rapidity and regularity of communications in
our own time, reports of various events are often exaggerated and even
completely altered in passing from one place to another; how much more
must it have been the case during the time of such defective communication
as existed previous to the invention of printing and the introduction of
the post! It was therefore no wonder if occurrences of such an
extraordinary nature as those alluded to were immensely magnified by
report, and if it had, at least in many places, converted the mewing and
biting nuns into as many cats and dogs. It is, moreover, now generally
admitted that what is called mesmerism, but whose real nature science has
not yet explained, was known and practised during the middle ages, as well
as in remote antiquity, and that many thaumaturgic operations, described
by the mediæval legends, as well as by ancient writers, were produced by
means of this still mysterious agency.

I have dwelt perhaps too long on this subject, because I am afraid that
the observations relating to it are not confined to a distant period, but
may become but too often applicable to our own times. And, indeed, when we
reflect on the rapid increase of convents and nunneries, particularly in
this country, and that notwithstanding the present state of civilization
these establishments must be filled chiefly by individuals whose
imaginations are stronger than their reasoning powers, there can be little
doubt that they may again become the stage of those extraordinary
manifestations, the cause of which had been too exclusively ascribed to
mediæval darkness. It cannot be doubted, that designing individuals of
both sexes, possessed of superior talents and knowledge, but particularly
endowed with a strong will, may exercise not only an undue influence, but
even an absolute power over the inmates of the above-mentioned monastic
establishments; and that a skilful application of mesmerism may
efficiently promote such unlawful ends.

Many local superstitious remains of Paganism,—as, for instance, miraculous
powers ascribed to certain wells, stones, caverns,—stories about various
kinds of fairies, &c.—have furnished ample materials to the mediæval
legend writers, who arranged them according to their own views. They
generally retained the miraculous part of the story, frequently
embellishing it by their own additions, but substituting the agency of the
Christian saint, the hero of their tale, for that of the Pagan deity, to
whom it had originally been ascribed. It was thus that the localities
considered by the Pagans as possessed of some supernatural properties, and
resorted to by them on this account, were converted into places of
Christian pilgrimages, with the only difference that the Pagan _genius
loci_ was baptised with the name of a Christian saint, whose existence can
often be no more proved than that of his heathen predecessor. Many
hagiographers seem to have indulged their humour as much as their fancy in
composing these legends, which appears from such ludicrous stories as, for
instance, that of St Fechin, whose piety was so fervent that when he was
bathing in cold water it became almost boiling hot. This warm-hearted or
hot-headed saint is said to have belonged to the Emerald isle, though,
considering that his ardent piety was so very much like a manifestation of
the _perfervidum Scotorum ingenium_, in a somewhat exaggerated form, I am
much inclined to believe him a native of the north country. There are many
instances of such humorous miracles, but I shall quote only that of
Laurenthios, a famous Greek saint, and worker of miracles. Having one day
some business with the Patriarch of Constantinople, he was kept waiting in
the prelate’s ante-chamber, and feeling very warm he wanted to take off
his cloak. But as there was not any piece of furniture in the room, nor
even a peg on its walls, St Laurenthios, embarrassed what to do with his
cloak, threw it upon a ray of the sun, which was entering the room through
a hole in the shutter, and which immediately acquired the firmness of a
rope, so that the saint’s cloak remained hanging upon it. It must not,
however, be believed that the hot sun and fervid imagination of Greece
were absolutely requisite for the performance of such wonderful tricks;
for we have sufficient legendary evidence to prove that they were
successfully reproduced under the less brilliant sky of Germany and
France, because St Goar of Treves suspended his cap, and St Aicadrus,
abbot of Jumieges, his gloves upon the same piece of furniture that had
been used by St Laurenthios to hang his cloak, though probably,
considering that the sun is not so powerful in those countries as it is at
Constantinople, the western saints did not venture to try its rays with
such a heavy load, as had been successfully done by their eastern
colleague.

Some miracles were invented in order to inculcate implicit obedience to
the ecclesiastical authorities, which is considered by the Roman Catholic
Church as one of, if not the most important virtue to be practised by her
children. Thus it is related that when the Spanish Dominican monk, St
Vincent Ferrerius, celebrated for the great number of his miracles, was
one day walking along a street in Barcelona, a mason, falling from a high
roof, called for his assistance. The saint answered that he could not
perform a miracle without the permission of his superior, but that he
would go and ask for it. The mason remained, therefore, suspended in the
air until St Vincent, returning with the permission, got him safely down
on the ground.

It must be admitted, that many saints, whose lives are disfigured by
absurd stories of their miracles, were men of great piety, adorned with
the noblest virtues, and who gave proofs of the most exalted charity and
self-devotion. Unfortunately the honours of saintship have been often
bestowed upon such sanguinary monsters as St Dominic, whose shrine would
be the most appropriately placed in a temple where human sacrifices are
offered, or upon madmen who have outraged every feeling of humanity. Thus
it is related that St Alexius left his home on the day of his wedding,
and, having exchanged his clothes for the rags of a beggar, adopted his
mode of life. After some time, when his appearance had become so wretched
that he could no longer be recognised by his friends, he returned to his
parental house, asking for shelter. He obtained a place under the
staircase, and lived there by alms for seventeen years, continually
witnessing the distress and lamentations of his wife, mother, and aged
father about his loss, and was recognised only after his death by a book
of prayers which had been given him by his mother. And it was for this
unfeeling and even cruel treatment of his own family that he was
canonised! It is supposed, however, that all this story is but a fiction,
and, for the sake of humanity, I sincerely hope that it is so.

The limits of this essay allow me not farther to extend my researches
about the legends of mediæval saints, and their miracles; and I shall try
to give in my next chapter a short analysis of several practices which the
Roman Catholic as well as the Græco-Russian Church have retained from
Paganism.



Chapter VII. Analysis Of The Pagan Rites And Practices Which Have Been
Retained By The Roman Catholic As Well As The Græco-Russian Church.


I have given (p. 14) the opinion of an eminent Roman Catholic modern
author (Chateaubriand) about the introduction of Pagan usages into the
Christian worship, and a long extract (pp. 16-28) from another no less
distinguished Roman Catholic writer of our day, describing the cause of
this corruption. The Roman Catholic writers of this country do not,
however, treat this subject with the same sincerity as the illustrious
author of the “Genie du Christianisme,” and the learned French Academician
from whose work I have so largely drawn; but they try hard to deny that
many usages of their church bear the stamp of Paganism.(83) This is
particularly the case with the author of “Hierurgia,” a work which I have
already quoted, and which may be considered as the fairest expression of
what the Roman Catholic Church teaches on the subject in question. Thus
the use of images in churches is represented as being authorised by
Scripture, by the following curious arguments:—

“The practice of employing images as ornaments and memorials to decorate
the temple of the Lord is in a most especial manner approved by the Word
of God himself. Moses was commanded to place two cherubim upon the ark,
and to set up a brazen figure of the fiery serpent, that those of the
murmuring Israelites who had been bitten might recover from the poison of
their wounds by looking on the image. In the description of Solomon’s
temple, we read of that prince, not only that he made in the oracle two
cherubim of olive tree, of ten cubits in height, but that ‘all the walls
of the temple round about he carved with divers figures and carvings.’

“In the first book of Paralipomenon (Chronicles) we observe that when
David imposed his injunction upon Solomon to realise his intention of
building a house to the Lord, he delivered to him a description of the
porch and temple, and concluded by thus assuring him: ‘All these things
came to me written by the hand of the Lord, that I may understand the
works of the pattern.’

“The isolated fact that images were not only directed by the Almighty God
to be placed in the Mosaic tabernacle, and in the more sumptuous temple of
Jerusalem, but that he himself exhibited the pattern of them, will be
alone sufficient to authorise the practice of the Catholic Church in
regard to a similar observance.”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 371.)

All this may be briefly answered. There was no representation of the
Jewish patriarchs or saints either in the tabernacle or in the temple of
Solomon, as is the case with the Christian saints in the Roman Catholic
and Græco-Russian Churches; and the brazen serpent, to which the author
alludes, was broken into pieces by order of King Hezekiah as soon as the
Israelites began to worship it.

The author tries to prove, with considerable learning and ingenuity, that
the primitive Christians ornamented their churches with images, and I have
already given, p. 51, his explanation of the Council of Elvira; but his
assertions are completely disproved by every direct evidence which we have
about the places of worship of those Christians. I have already quoted, p.
7, the testimony of Minutius Felix, that the Christians had no kind of
simulachres in their temples, as well as the indignation of St Epiphanius
at an attempt to introduce them into the churches, p. 68, and for which
there would have been no occasion if it had been an established custom.

The most important part of his defence of the use of images is, however,
the paragraph entitled, “_No virtue resident in images themselves_,”
containing what follows:—

“Not only are Catholics not exposed to such dangers (_i.e._, idolatry),
but they are expressly prohibited by the church (_Concilium Tridentinum_,
sess. xxv.) to believe that there is any divinity or virtue resident in
images for which they should be reverenced, or that any thing is to be
asked of them, or any confidence placed in them, but that the honour given
should be referred to those whom they represent; and so particular are
their religious instructors in impressing this truth upon the minds of
their congregations, that if a Catholic child, who had learned its first
catechism, were asked if it were permitted to pray to images, the child
would answer, ‘No, by no means; for they have no life nor sense to help
us;’ and the pastor who discovered any one rendering any portion of the
respect which belongs to God alone to a crucifix or to a picture, would
have no hesitation in breaking the one and tearing the other into shreds,
and throwing the fragments into the flames, in imitation of Ezechias, who
broke the brazen serpent on account of the superstitious reverence which
the Israelites manifested towards it.”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 382.)

It is perfectly true that the Council of Trent has declared that the
images of Christ, of the virgin, and of other saints, are to be honoured
and venerated, not because it is believed that there is any divinity or
virtue inherent in them, or that any thing is to be asked of them, or any
confidence placed in images, as had been done by Pagans, who put their
trust in idols (Psalm cxxxv. 15-18), but that “the honour given should be
referred to those whom they represent, so that by the images which we
kiss, before which we uncover our heads, or prostrate ourselves
(_procumbimus_), we worship Christ and the saints whose likeness those
images represent.”(84) But if there is “no divinity or virtue resident in
images,” as is declared by the Council of Trent, what is to become of all
those miraculous images which are the subject of pilgrimage in so many
Roman Catholic countries, and the existence of whose miraculous powers has
been solemnly acknowledged by the highest ecclesiastical authorities? I
shall not attempt to enumerate those miraculous images, because their
number is legion, but I shall only ask the rev. doctor whether he
considers the image of the virgin of Loretto, which is the object of so
many pilgrimages, and to which so many miracles are ascribed, as having
some virtue resident in it or not? and would he break it in pieces on
account of the miraculous powers ascribed to it? Is he prepared to act in
such a manner with the celebrated _Bambino_(85) of Rome? and are the
miraculous powers ascribed to it, as well as to the virgin of Loretto, and
other images of this kind, a reality or an imposture? and, finally, what
will he do with the winking Madonna of Rimini, which has lately made so
much noise, and which, instead of being broken to pieces or torn to shreds
by the priests or the bishop of the place, has been approved by
ecclesiastical authority? I can assure the rev. doctor, that by breaking
into pieces the miraculous images, carved as well as painted, he will
break down many barriers which now separate the Protestant Christians from
those who belong to his own church. I am, however, afraid that he will
find many difficulties in attempting such a thing; and I must remind him,
that in quoting the above-mentioned canon of the Council of Trent, he
forgot an essential part of it, which greatly modifies the declaration
that there is _no divinity or virtue resident in images_, saying, “That
the holy synod ordains that no one be allowed to place, or cause to be
placed, any _unusual_ image(86) in any place or church, howsoever
exempted, except that the image be approved by the bishop: also, that no
new miracles are to be acknowledged or new relics recognised, unless the
said bishop has taken cognizance and approved thereof, who, as soon as he
has obtained certain information in regard to these matters, shall, after
having taken the advice of theologians and of other pious men, act therein
as he shall judge to be consonant with truth and piety.”—(Sess. xxviii.,
&c.)

The real meaning of the above-mentioned canon of the Council of Trent is
therefore, I think, that there is no divinity or virtue resident in the
images which are not authorised by the bishop to work miracles, and that
_unlicensed_ images are not allowed to have any such divinity or virtue in
them, but that such _unusual_ carved or painted images, as those which I
have mentioned above, having obtained the required authorization, may work
as many miracles as they please, or as their worshippers will believe.

It has been observed by a writer, who certainly cannot be accused of
violent opinions, the learned and pious Melancthon, “that it was impious
and idolatrous to address statues or bones, and to suppose that either the
Divinity or the saints were attached to a certain place or to a certain
statue more than to other places; and that there was no difference between
the prayers which are addressed to the Virgin of Aix la Chapelle, or to
that of Ratisbon, and the Pagan invocations of the Ephesian Diana, or the
Platean Juno, or any other statue.”(87) To these observations I shall only
add those of M. Beugnot, which I have given p. 27, on the marvellous
facility with which the worship of the virgin, established by the Council
of Ephesus, 431, has superseded that of the Pagan deities in many
countries.

There is scarcely any ceremony in the Western as well as in the Eastern
church, the origin of which cannot be traced to the Pagan worship. I shall
limit my observations on this subject to the three following objects,
which constitute the most important elements in the divine service
performed in those churches, namely,—1. The consecrated water; 2. Lamps
and candles; and, 3. Incense; giving the Roman Catholic explanation of
their origin, as well as that which I believe to be true.

With regard to the consecrated water, it is described by the author of
“Hierurgia” in the following manner:—

“The ordinance of Almighty God, promulgated by the lips of Moses,
concerning the _water of separation_, and the mode of sprinkling it, are
minutely noticed in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Numbers. In the
book of Exodus, we read that the Lord issued the following declarations to
Moses:—‘Thou shalt make a brazen laver, with its foot, to wash in; and
thou shalt set it between the tabernacle of the testimony and the altar.
And the water being put into it, Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands
and feet in it when they are going into the tabernacle of the testimony,
and when they are to come to the altar to offer incense on it to the
Lord.’—(Exod. xxx. 18-20.)

“That it was a practice with the Jews, not only peculiar to the members of
the priesthood, but observed amongst the people, for each individual to
wash his hands before he presumed to pray, is a well-attested fact. The
church adopted this as well as several other Jewish ceremonies, which she
engrafted on her ritual; and St Paul apparently borrows from such ablution
the metaphor which he employs while thus admonishing his disciple
Timothy:—‘I will that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands.’—(1
Timothy ii. 8.) That in the early ages the faithful used to wash their
hands at the threshold of the church before they entered, is expressly
mentioned by a number of writers.”

As to the use of holy water being of apostolic origin, he says:—

“The introduction of holy or blessed water must be referred to the times
of the apostles. That it was the custom, in the very first ages of the
church, not only to deposit vessels of water at the entrance of those
places where the Christians assembled for the celebration of divine
worship, but also to have vases containing water mingled with salt, both
of which had been separated from common use, and blessed by the prayers
and invocations of the priest, is certain. A particular mention of it is
made in the constitution of the apostles; and the pontiff Alexander, the
first of that name, but the sixth in succession from St Peter, whose chair
he mounted in the year 109, issued a decree by which the use of holy water
was permitted to the faithful in their houses.”—(_Hierurgia_, pp.
461-463.)

It is rather a strange thing for Christians to imitate the religious rites
of the Jews, whose ceremonial law,—“which stood only in meats and drinks,
and divers _washings_, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the
time of reformation” (Heb. ix. 10),—was abolished by the New Testament.
However, if this is to be done, why is not the holy water adopted by the
Roman Catholic Church prepared in the same manner, and used for the same
object, as the Jewish _water of separation_, described in Numbers xix.,
but, on the contrary, composed in the same manner, and employed for the
same purpose, as the _lustral_ water of the Pagans? The fact is, that it
has been borrowed from the Pagan worship and not from the Jewish
ceremonial law, the truth of which is honestly acknowledged by the Jesuit
La Cerda, who, in a note on the following passage of Virgil,—


    “Idem ter socios pura circumtulit unda,
    Spargens rore levi, et ramo felicis olivæ,
    Lustravitque viros”

    —_Æneid_, lib. vi. 229—


says, “_Hence was derived the custom of the holy church to provide
purifying or holy water at the entrance of their churches_.”(88) The same
custom was observed in the Pagan temples, at the entrance of which there
was a vase containing the holy or _lustral_ water, for the people to
sprinkle themselves with, just as is now done at the entrance of the Roman
Catholic churches. The author of “Hierurgia” mentions, as quoted above,
that Pope Alexander I. authorised, in the beginning of the second century,
the use of holy water; and yet Justin Martyr, who wrote about that time,
says “that it was invented by demons, in imitation of the true baptism
signified by the prophets, that their votaries might also have their
pretended purification by water.”(89) And the Emperor Julian, in order to
vex the Christians, caused the victuals in the markets to be sprinkled
with holy water, with the intention of either starving them or compelling
them to eat what they considered as impure.(90)

To these evidences of the abomination in which the primitive Christians
held the Pagan rite of sprinkling with holy water, I may add the following
anecdote, characteristic of the intensity of this feeling:—

When Julian the Apostate was one day going to sacrifice in the temple of
Fortune, accompanied by the usual train of the emperors, the Pagan
priests, standing on both sides of the temple gate, sprinkled those who
were entering it with the lustral or holy water in order to purify them
according to the rites of their worship. A Christian tribune, or superior
officer of the imperial guards (_scutarii_), who, being on duty, preceded
the monarch, received some drops of this holy water on his _chlamys_ or
coat, which made him so indignant, that, notwithstanding the presence of
the emperor, he struck the priest who had thus sprinkled him, exclaiming
that he did not purify but pollute him. Julian ordered the arrest of the
officer who had thus insulted the rites of his religion, giving him the
choice either to sacrifice to the gods or to leave the army. The bold
Christian chose the latter, but was soon restored to his rank on account
of his great military talents, and raised, after the death of Julian and
the short reign of Jovian, to the imperial throne as Valentinian I.(91)

This monarch was, however, by no means a bigot; on the contrary, we have
the unsuspected testimony of the contemporary Pagan writer Ammianus
Marcellinus that he maintained a strict impartiality between the
Christians and Pagans, and did not trouble any one on account of his
religion. He even regulated and confirmed, by a law in 391, the privileges
of the Pagan clergy in a more favourable manner than had been done by many
of his predecessors; and yet this monarch, who treated his Pagan subjects
with such an extreme liberality, committed, when a private individual, an
act of violence against their worship which exposed him to considerable
danger. This, I think, is a strong proof of the horror which the
Christians felt for a rite which constitutes now an indispensable part of
the service in the Western as well as in the Eastern churches, and is most
profusely used by them.

With regard to the candles and lamps, which form a no less important and
indispensable part of the worship adopted by the above-mentioned churches,
the author of “Hierurgia” defends their use in the following manner:—

After having described the candlesticks employed in the Jewish temple, he
says:—“But without referring to the ceremonial of the Jewish temple, we
have an authority for the employment of light in the functions of religion
presented to us in the Apocalypse. In the first chapter of that mystic
book, St John particularly mentions the golden candlesticks which he
beheld in his prophetic vision in the isle of Patmos. By commentators on
the sacred Scripture, it is generally supposed that the Evangelist, in his
book of the Apocalypse, adopted the imagery with which he represents his
mystic revelations from the ceremonial observed in his days by the church
for offering up the mass, or eucharistic sacrifice of the Lamb of God,
Christ Jesus.

“That the use of lights was adopted by the church, especially at the
celebration of the sacred mysteries, as early as the times of the
apostles, may likewise, with much probability, be inferred from that
passage in their Acts which records the preaching and miracles of St Paul
at Troas:—‘And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to
break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow, and
he continued his speech until midnight. And there were a great number of
lamps in the upper chamber where we were assembled.’—(Acts xx. 7, 8.) That
the many lamps, so particularly noticed in this passage, were not
suspended merely for the purpose of illuminating, during the night-time,
this upper chamber, in which the faithful had assembled on the first day
of the week to break bread, but also to increase the solemnity of that
function and betoken a spiritual joy, may be lawfully inferred from every
thing we know about the manners of the ancient Jews, from whom the church
borrowed the use of lights in celebrating her various rites and
festivals.”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 372.)

It is really difficult seriously to answer such extraordinary suppositions
as that the seven candlesticks, expressly mentioned as types of the seven
churches, should be an allusion to the physical lights used in the worship
of those churches, and not to the moral and spiritual light which they
were spreading amongst Jews and Gentiles. Such an explanation appears to
me nothing better than that tendency to materialise the most abstract and
spiritual ideas to which I have alluded above, p. 126. With regard to the
passage in the Acts xx. 7, 8, which says that there were a great number of
lamps in the upper chamber where St Paul was preaching, I think that this
circumstance might have been considered as a religious rite if the apostle
had been preaching at noon; but as it is expressly said that he did it at
night, nothing can be more simple than the lighting of the upper chamber
with lamps. It was also very natural that there should be many of them,
because as St Paul was undoubtedly often referring to the Scriptures, his
hearers, or at least many of them, being either real Jews or Hellenists,
must have been continually looking to copies of the Bible in order to
verify his quotation. It was, therefore, necessary to have the room well
lighted, and consequently to employ many lamps. It is, indeed, curious to
see to what far-fetched suppositions a writer of so much learning and
ingenuity as Dr Rock is obliged to recur, in order to defend a purely
Pagan rite which has been adopted by his church, giving the simplest and
clearest things a _non-natural sense_, similar to that which some
Romanising clergymen have been giving to the precepts of a church which
they were betraying whilst in her service and pay.

The same author maintains that lights were employed from primitive times
at divine service, saying:—

“The custom of employing lights, in the earlier ages of the church, during
the celebration of the eucharist; and other religious offices, is
authenticated by those venerable records of primitive discipline which are
usually denominated Apostolic Canons.”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 393.)

Now, what is the authenticity of these canons? The author himself gives us
the best answer to it, saying:—

“Though these canons be apocryphal, and by consequence not genuine,
inasmuch as they were neither committed to writing by the apostles
themselves, nor penned by St Clement, to whom some authors have attributed
them; still, however, this does not prevent them from being true and
authentic, since they embody the traditions descended from the apostles
and the apostolic fathers, and bear a faithful testimony that the
discipline which prevailed during the first and second centuries was
established by the apostles.”—(P. 394.)

I shall not enter into a discussion about the value of evidence furnished
by a work which is acknowledged to be apocryphal, and not to have been
written by those to whom its defenders had ascribed its authorship;(92)
but I shall only remark, that one of the most eminent fathers of the
church, the learned Lactantius, who flourished in the fourth century, and
consequently long after the time when the Apostolic Canons are supposed to
have been composed, takes a very different view from them in regard to
this practice, because he positively says, in attacking the use of lights
by the Pagans, _they light up candles to God as if he lived in the dark,
and do they not deserve to pass for madmen who offer lamps to the Author
and Giver of light_?(93) And is it probable that he could approve of a
practice in the Christian church which he condemns in the Pagan?

And, indeed, can there be any thing more heathenish than the custom of
burning lights before images or relics, which is nothing else than
sacrifices which the Pagans offered to their idols?

I have described above, p. 74, the manner in which St Jerome defended the
use of lights in the churches against Vigilantius. This defence of St
Jerome is adduced by our author in a rather extraordinary manner.

“It happens not unfrequently that those very calumnies which have been
propagated, and the attacks which were so furiously directed by the
enemies of our holy faith in ancient times, against certain practices of
discipline then followed by the church, are the most triumphant
testimonies which can be adduced at the present day, both to establish the
venerable origin of such observances, and to warrant a continuation of
them. In the present instance, the remark is strikingly observable; for
the strictures which Vigilantius passed in the fourth age, on the use of
lights in churches, as well as on the shrines of the martyrs, and the
energetic refutation of St Jerome of the charge of superstition preferred
against such a pious usage by that apostate, may be noticed as an
irrefragable argument, in the nineteenth century, to establish the remote
antiquity of this religious custom. After mentioning as a fact of public
notoriety, and in a manner which defied contradiction, that the
Christians, at the time when he was actually writing, which was about the
year 376,(94) were accustomed to illumine their churches during mid-day
with a profusion of wax tapers, Vigilantius proceeds to turn such a
devotion into ridicule. But he met with a learned and victorious opponent,
who, while he vindicated this practice of the church against the objection
of her enemy, took occasion to assign those reasons which induced her to
adopt it. That holy father observes:—‘Throughout all the churches of the
East, whenever the Gospel is to be recited, they bring forth lights,
though it be at noon-day; not certainly to shine among darkness, but to
manifest some sign of joy, that under the type of corporeal light may be
indicated that light of which we read in the Psalms, “Thy word is a lamp
to my feet, and a light to my path.” ’ ”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 298.)

Now, I would observe to the learned doctor, that St Jerome, in answering
Vigilantius, maintained, as I have shown above, p. 74, that it was calumny
to say that the Christians burnt candles in the daylight, and that it was
done only by some people, _whose zeal was without knowledge_.
Consequently, the church which has adopted this practice shows, according
to the authority of that “holy and learned father,” that _her zeal is
without knowledge_. With regard to the argument in support of the
abovementioned practices given by St Jerome, and reproduced by our author,
that the Eastern churches make use of lights, I admit that it is
unanswerable, because it is an undoubted fact that the Græco-Russian
Church makes an immense consumption of wax candles, chiefly burnt before
the images, and it remains for me only to congratulate the advocates of
this practice on the support which they derive from such an imperative
authority as that of the Græco-Russian Church.

It remains for me now only to say a few words about the _incense_, which
forms a constituent part of the service of the Roman Catholic and
Græco-Russian Churches, as much as the holy water and lights, and which is
defended by the author of “Hierurgia” in the following manner. After
having described the use of incense in the Jewish temples, he says—

“It was from this religious custom of employing incense in the ancient
temple, that the royal prophet drew that beautiful simile of his, when he
petitioned that his prayers might ascend before the Lord like incense. It
was while ‘all the multitude were praying without at the hour of incense,
that there appeared to Zachary an angel of the Lord, standing at the right
of the altar of incense,’—(Luke i. 10, 11). That the oriental nations
attached a meaning not only of personal reverence, but also of religious
homage to an offering of incense, is demonstrable from the instance of the
magi, who, having fallen down to adore the newborn Jesus, and recognise
his divinity, presented him with gold, and myrrh, and frankincense. That
he might be more intelligible to those who read his book of the
Apocalypse, it is very probable that St John adapted his language to the
ceremonial of the liturgy then followed by the Christians in celebrating
the eucharistic sacrifice, at the period the evangelist was committing to
writing his mysterious revelations. In depicting, therefore, the scene
which took place in the sanctuary of heaven, where he was given to behold
in vision the mystic sacrifice of the Lamb, we are warranted to suppose
that he borrowed the imagery, and selected several of his expressions,
from the ritual then actually in use, and has in consequence bequeathed to
us an outline of the ceremonial which the church employed in the apostolic
ages of offering up the unbloody sacrifice of the same divine Lamb of God,
Christ Jesus, in her sanctuary upon earth. Now, St John particularly
notices how the ‘angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden
censer; and there was given him much incense, that he should offer of the
prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne
of God; and the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended
up before God, from the hand of the angel.’—Apocal. viii.
3-5.”—(_Hierurgia_, p. 518.)

To this explanation of the use of incense in the churches, I may answer by
the same observation which I have made, p. 144, on a similar defence of
the use of lights, namely, that it is a strange materialization of
spiritual ideas by embodying into a tangible shape what is simply typical,
and which is not warranted by any direct evidence. Such far-fetched and
fanciful conjectures cannot be refuted by serious arguments; but as
regards the Jewish origin of the use of incense, as well as of many other
ceremonies common to the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches, I shall give
the observation of the celebrated Dr Middleton, on an answer made by a
Roman Catholic to his well-known Letter from Rome, and who, defending the
ceremonies of his Church in nearly the same manner as the author of
“Hierurgia,” says, “That Dr Middleton was mistaken in thinking every
ceremony used by the heathens to be heathenish, since the greatest part of
them were borrowed from the worship of the true God, in imitation of which
the devil affected to have his temples, altars, priests, and sacrifices,
and all other things which were used in the true worship.” This he applied
to the case of _incense_, _lamps_, _holy water_, and _processions_,
adding, “that if Middleton had been as well read in the Scriptures as he
seemed to be in the heathen poets, he would have found the use of all
these in the temple of God, and that by God’s appointment.”

“I shall not dispute with him,” says Middleton, “about the origin of these
rites, whether they were _first instituted by Moses_, or _were of prior
use and antiquity amongst the Egyptians_. The Scriptures favour the last,
which our _Spenser_ strongly asserts, and their _Calmet_ and _Huetius_
allow; but should we grant him all that he can infer from his argument,
what will he gain by it? Were not all those _beggarly elements_ wiped away
by the spiritual worship of the Gospel? Were they not all annulled, on
account of _their weakness and unprofitableness_, by the more perfect
revelation of _Jesus Christ_?—(Gal. iv. 9; Heb. vii. 18.) If, then, I
should acknowledge my mistake, and recall my words, and instead of
_Pagan_, call them _Jewish_ ceremonies, would not the use of Jewish rites
be abominable still in a _Christian church_, where they are expressly
abolished and prohibited by God himself?

“But to pursue his argument a little farther. While the _Mosaic_ worship
subsisted by divine appointment in _Jerusalem, the devil likewise_, as he
tells us, _had temples and ceremonies of the same kind_, in order to draw
votaries to his idolatrous worship, which, after the abolition of the
_Jewish_ service, was carried on still with great pomp and splendour, and
above all places, in _Rome_, the principal seat of his worldly empire.
Now, it is certain that in the early times of the Gospel, the Christians
of Rome were celebrated for their zealous adherence to the faith of
Christ, as it was delivered to them by the apostles, pure from every
mixture either of _Jewish_ or _heathenish superstition_, till, after a
succession of ages, as they began gradually to deviate from that apostolic
simplicity, they introduced at different times into the church the
particular ceremonies in question. Whence, then, can we think it probable
that they should borrow them from the _Jewish_ or the _Pagan_ ritual? From
a temple remote, despised and demolished by the Romans themselves, or from
temples and altars perpetually in their view, and subsisting in their
streets, in which their ancestors and fellow-citizens have constantly
worshipped?(95) The question can hardly admit any dispute; the humour of
the people, as well as the interest of a corrupted priesthood, would
invite them to adopt such rites as were native to the soil, and found upon
the place, and which long experience had shown to be useful to the
acquisition both of wealth and power. Thus, by the most candid
construction of this author’s reasoning, we must necessarily call their
ceremonies _Jewish_, or by pushing it to its full length, shall be obliged
to call them _devilish_.

“He observes that I begin my charge with the use of _incense_ as the most
notorious proof of their Paganism, _and like an artful rhetorician, place
my strongest argument in the front_. Yet he knows I have assigned a
different reason for offering that the first; because it is _the first
thing_ that strikes the sense, and surprises a stranger upon his entrance
into their churches. But it shall be my strongest proof, if he will have
it so, since he has brought nothing, I am sure, to weaken the force of it.
He tells us that there was _an altar of incense in the temple of
Jerusalem_, and is surprised, therefore, how I can call it _heathenish_;
yet it is evident, from the nature of that institution, that it was never
designed to be perpetual, and that during its continuance, God would have
never approved _any other altar_, either in _Jerusalem_ or any where else.
But let him answer directly to this plain question: Was there ever _a
temple in the world, not strictly heathenish_, in which there were
_several altars, all smoking with incense, within our view, and at one and
the same time_? It is certain that he must answer in the negative; yet it
is as certain that there were many such temples in _Pagan_ Rome, and are
as many in _Christian Rome_; and since there never was an example of it,
but what was _Paganish_, before the time of _Popery_, how is it possible
that it could be derived to them from any other source? or when we see so
exact a resemblance in the copy, how can there be any doubt about the
original?

“What he alleges, therefore, in favour of _incense_ is nothing to the
purpose: ‘That it was used in the Jewish, and is of great antiquity in the
Christian churches, and that it is mentioned with honour in the
Scriptures,’ which frequently _compare it to prayer_, and speak of its
_sweet odours ascending up to God_, &c., which figurative expressions, he
says, ‘would never have been borrowed by sacred penmen from heathenish
superstition;’ as if such allusions were less proper, or the thing itself
less sweet, for its being applied to the purposes of idolatry, as it
constantly was in the time of the _same penmen_, and, according to their
own accounts, on the _altars of Baal_, and the other _heathen idols_: and
when _Jeremiah_ rebukes the people of _Judah_ for _burning incense to the
queen of heaven_ (Jer. xliv. 17), one can hardly help imagining that he is
prophetically pointing out the worship paid now to the _virgin_, to whom
they actually _burn incense_ at this day under that very title.(96)

“But if it be a just ground for retaining a practice in the _Christian_
church, because it was enjoined to the _Jews_, what will our Catholic say
for those usages which were actually prohibited to the _Jews_, and never
practised by any but by the _heathens and papists_? All the _Egyptian
priests_, as Herodotus informs us, _had their heads shaved, and kept
continually bald_.(97) Thus the Emperor _Commodus_, that he might be
admitted into that order, _got himself shaved, and carried the god Anubis
in procession_. And it was on this account, most probably, that the
_Jewish priests_ were commanded _not to shave their heads, nor to make any
baldness upon them_.—(Lev. xxi. 5; Ezek. xliv. 20). Yet this _Pagan
rasure_, or _tonsure_, as they choose to call it, on the crown of the
head, has long been the distinguishing mark of the _Romish priesthood_. It
was on the same account, we may imagine, that the _Jewish priests were
forbidden to make any cuttings in their flesh_ (Lev. xix. 28, xxi. 5),
since _that was likewise the common_ practice of certain _priests and
devotees among the heathens_, in order to acquire the fame of a more
exalted sanctity. Yet the same discipline, as I have shown in my
_Letter_,(98) is constantly practised at _Rome_ in some of their solemn
seasons and processions, in imitation of these _Pagan enthusiasts_, as if
they searched the Scriptures to learn, not so much what was enjoined by
true religion, as what had been useful at any time in a false one, to
delude the multitude, and support an imposture.”—(_Middleton’s
Miscellaneous Works_, vol. v., p. 11, _et seq._)

The same author justly observes, that “under the _Pagan emperors_ the use
of _incense_ for any purpose of religion was thought so contrary to the
obligations of _Christianity_, that in their persecutions, the very method
of _trying and converting a Christian was by requiring him only to throw
the least grain of it into the censer or on the altar_.”

“Under the _Christian emperors_, on the other hand, it was looked upon as
a _rite_ so peculiarly _heathenish_, that the very _places or houses_
where it could be proved to have been done, were, by a law of Theodosius,
confiscated to the government.”(99)—(_Ibid._, p. 95.)

I shall conclude this essay by a short sketch of the superstitious
practices prevailing in the Græco-Russian Church, which will be the
subject of my next and last chapter.



Chapter VIII. Image-Worship And Other Superstitious Practices Of The
Graeco-Russian Church.


The Græco-Russian Church is perhaps the most important element of the
politico-religious complications in which Europe is at present involved.
It is, moreover, not a fortuitous cause of these complications, but has
been growing during centuries, until it has reached its present magnitude,
though its action upon Turkey may have been prematurely brought into play
by accidental circumstances. It comprehends within its pale about
50,000,000 of souls, whilst it exercises an immense influence upon
13,000,000 of Turkish, and a considerable one upon more than 3,000,000 of
Austrian subjects, professing the tenets of that church, though governed
by separate hierarchies. To this number must be added the population of
the kingdom of Greece, amounting to about 1,000,000: so that the whole of
the followers of the Eastern Church may be computed in round numbers at
66,000,000 or 67,000,000 of souls.(100)

The Russian Church differs from other Greek churches, not in her tenets,
but in her government. From the establishment of Christianity in Russia,
towards the end of the tenth century, to the capture of Constantinople by
the Turks in 1453, the Russian Church was governed by a metropolitan,
consecrated by the Patriarch of Constantinople. After this event, the
metropolitans were consecrated by the Russian bishops till 1588, when a
patriarch of Russia was instituted by that of Constantinople, who had
arrived at Moscow, in order to obtain pecuniary assistance for his church.
The patriarch enjoyed considerable influence, which modified in some
respects the despotic authority of the Czar. It was Peter the Great who
abolished this dignity in 1702, after the death of the Patriarch Adrian,
and declared himself the head of the Russian Church.

He introduced several regulations to restrict the power of the clergy, and
to improve their education. It appears that the violent reforms by which
that monarch tried to introduce the civilization of western Europe amongst
his subjects, had produced an intellectual movement in their church, but
which, not squaring with the views of the imperial reformer, was violently
suppressed by him. Thus, in 1713, a physician called Demetrius
Tveritinoff, and some other persons, began to attack the worship of
images, and to explain the sacrament of communion in the same sense as has
been done by Calvin.

These reformers were anathematised by the order of the Czar, and one of
them was executed in 1714.(101) Next year, 1715, a Russian priest, called
Thomas, probably a disciple of the above-mentioned reformers, began
publicly to inveigh against the worship of saints and other practices of
his church, and went even so far as to break the images placed in the
churches. He was burnt alive, and nothing more was heard afterwards of
such reformers. The Russian clergy regained their influence under the
reign of the Empress Elizabeth, 1742-62, a weak-minded, bigoted woman, who
was continually making pilgrimages to the shrines of various Russian
saints and miraculous images, displaying on those occasions such a
splendour and such munificence to the objects of her devotion, that the
finances of her state were injured by it.(102) Elizabeth’s nephew and
successor, Peter III., Duke of Holstein, who, for the sake of the throne,
had passed from the Lutheran communion to the Greek Church, entertained
the greatest contempt for his new religion. This half-crazy, unfortunate
prince, instead of trying to reform the Russian Church by promoting a
superior information amongst her clergy, offended the religious prejudices
of his subjects by an open disregard of the ordinances of that church, and
his projects of violent reforms. He not only did away with all the fasts
at his court, but he wished to abolish them throughout all his empire, to
remove the images and candles from the churches, and, finally, that the
clergy should shave their beards and dress like the Lutheran pastors. He
also confiscated the landed property of the church. Catherine II., who
observed with the greatest diligence those religious rites which her
husband treated with such contempt, and who greatly owed to this conduct
her elevation to the throne, confirmed, however, the confiscation of the
church estates, assigning salaries to the clergy and convents who had been
supported by that property. She made use of the influence of the
Græco-Russian Church for the promotion of her political schemes in Poland
and in Turkey; yet, as her religious opinions were those of the school of
Voltaire and Diderot, which believed that Christianity would soon cease to
have any hold upon the human mind, she seems not to have been fully aware
of that immense increase of power at home and influence abroad which a
skilful action upon the religious feelings of the followers of that church
may give to the Russian monarchs. This policy has been formed into a
complete system by the present Emperor, and it was in consequence of it
that several millions of the inhabitants of the ancient Polish provinces,
who belonged to the Greek United Church, _i.e._, who had acknowledged the
supremacy of the Pope by accepting the union concluded at Florence in
1438, were forced to give up that union, and to pass from the spiritual
dominion of the Pope to that of the Czar. This wholesale conversion was
necessarily accompanied with a good deal of persecution. Those clergymen
who had refused to adopt the imperial ukase for their rule of conscience
were banished to Siberia, and many other acts of oppression were committed
on that occasion, but of which only the case of the nuns of Minsk has
produced a sensation in western Europe. The same system of religious
centralization has also been applied to the Protestant peasantry of the
Baltic provinces, many of whom were seduced by various means to join the
Russian Church; and this policy continues to be vigorously prosecuted in
the same quarter, as may be seen by the following extract from the _Berlin
Gazette_ of Voss, reprinted in the _Allgemeine Zeitung_ of the 12th March
of this year, 1854:—

“Emissaries travelling about the country succeeded by every kind of
cunning, and by holding out prospects of gain and other advantages, to
convert people from Lutheranism to the Greek Church. All the children,
under seventeen years must follow the religion of their father as soon as
he has entered the orthodox church. Whoever has received the
anointment(103) can no longer return to his former creed, and those who
would try to persuade him to do it would be severely punished. It is even
forbidden to the Protestant clergy to warn their congregations from going
over to the Greek Church by drawing their attention to the difference
which exists between the two religions. A great number of Greek churches
have been built in the Baltic provinces, and already, in 1845, it was
ordered that the converts to the Greek Church should be admitted into
every town; that those peasants who would leave their places of residence
in order to join a Greek congregation should be allowed by their
landowners to do so;(104) and, finally, that the landowners and Protestant
clergymen who would oppose in any way the conversion to the Greek Church
of their peasantry and congregations, should be visited with severe
penalties. These penalties, directed against those who would attempt to
induce any one, either by speeches or writings, to pass from the Greek
Church to any other communion, have been specified in a new criminal code.
They prescribe for certain cases of such a proselytism corporal
chastisement, the knout, and transportation to Siberia.” It is also well
known that the Protestant missionaries, who had been labouring in various
parts of the Russian empire for the conversion of Mahometans and heathens,
have been prohibited from continuing their pious exertions. And yet,
strange to say, there is a not uninfluential party in Prussia, which,
pretending to be zealously Protestant, supports with all its might the
politico-religious policy of Russia, and is as hostile to Protestant
England as it is favourable to the power which is persecuting
Protestantism in its dominions. On the other hand, it is curious to
observe in this country some persons of that High Church party which
affects to repudiate the name of Protestant, and with whom _churchianity_
seems to have more weight than Christianity, showing an inclination to
unite with the Græco-Russian Church; and I have seen a pamphlet, ascribed
to a clergyman of the Scotch Episcopal Church, positively recommending
such a union, and containing the formulary of a petition to be addressed
by the Episcopalians of Great Britain to the most holy Synod of St
Petersburg, praying for admission into the communion of its church. I
would, however, observe to these exaggerated Anglo-catholics, who chiefly
object to the ecclesiastical establishment of England on account of its
being a State Church, that the Russian Church is still more so, and that
the most holy synod which administers that church, though composed of
prelates and other clergymen, can do nothing without the assent of its lay
member, the imperial procurator, and that a colonel of hussars was lately
intrusted with this important function. The Greek Church being opposed to
Rome, some Protestants sought to conclude a union with her in the
sixteenth century; and the Lutheran divines of Tubingen had for this
purpose a correspondence with the Patriarch of Constantinople, between the
years 1575 and 1581, but which did not lead to any result, as the
Patriarch insisted upon their simply joining his church. The Protestants
of Poland attempted in 1599 a union with the Greek Church of their
country, and the delegates of both parties met for this purpose at Vilna;
their object was, however, frustrated by the same cause which rendered
nugatory the efforts that had been made by the divines of Tubingen for
this purpose, the Greek Church insisting upon their entire submission to
her authority. It is true that some learned ecclesiastics of the
Græco-Russian Church are supposed to entertain Protestant opinions, but
this is entirely personal, and has no influence whatever on the systematic
policy of their Church, which hates Rome as a rival, but Protestantism as
a revolutionary principle. One of the ablest and most zealous defenders of
the Roman Catholic Church in our times, and whom a long residence in
Russia had made thoroughly acquainted with her church, Count Joseph
Demaistre, is of opinion that this church must finally give way to the
influence of Protestantism;(105) and I think that this might be really the
case if the Russian Church enjoyed perfect liberty of discussion, which
she is very far at present from possessing. I believe, however, that such
a contingency is very possible with those Eastern churches that are not
under the dominion of Russia, if they were once entirely liberated from
Russian influence and brought into contact with Protestant learning. Such
a revolution would be most dangerous, not only to the external influence
of Russia, but even to her despotism at home, because a Protestant
movement amongst the Greek churches of Turkey would sever every connection
between them and Russia, and very likely extend to the last-named country.
It is therefore most probable, as has been observed by the celebrated
explorer of Nineveh, Layard, that the movement alluded to above, which has
recently begun to spread amongst the Armenian churches of Turkey, was not
without influence on the mission of Prince Menschikoff and its
consequences.

I have said above that the mutual position of the Græco-Russian and Roman
Catholic Churches towards one another is that of two rivals. The dogmatic
difference between them turns upon some abstruse tenets, which are
generally little understood by the great mass of their followers, whilst
the essential ground of divergence, the real question at issue, is,
whether the headship of the church is to be vested in the Pope, in the
Patriarch of Constantinople, or in the Czar. The Pope has allowed that
portion of the Greek Church which submitted to his supremacy at the
council of Florence in 1438, to retain its ritual and discipline, with
some insignificant modifications. The Roman Catholic Church considers the
Græco-Russian one in about the same light as she is regarded herself by
that of England. She acknowledges her to be _a church_, though a
schismatic one, whose sacraments and ordination are valid, so that a Greek
or Russian priest becomes, on signing the union of Florence, a clergyman
of the Roman Catholic Church exactly as is the case in the Anglican Church
with a Roman Catholic priest who renounces the pope. The Græco-Russian
Church does not, however, return the compliment to the Roman Catholic one,
any more than the Catholic does it to that of England; because a Roman
Catholic priest who enters the Græco-Russian Church not only loses his
sacerdotal character, just as is the case with an Anglican clergyman who
goes over to the communion of Rome, but he must be even baptised anew, as
is done with Christians of every denomination who join that church,
whether Jews or Gentiles.

The system of reaction which the Roman Catholic Church has been pursuing
for many years, with a consistency, perseverance, and zeal worthy of a
better cause, and not without considerable success, has created just alarm
in the minds of many friends of religious and civil liberty. This feeling
is but too well warranted by the open hostility which the promoters of
that reaction, having thrown away the mask of liberalism, are manifesting
to the above-mentioned liberties. I shall, moreover, add, that the
political complications in which Europe is now involved may be taken
advantage of by the reactionary party in order to advance its schemes,
whilst the public attention, particularly of this country, will be
absorbed by the events of the present war; and therefore I think that all
true Protestants should, instead of relaxing, increase their vigilance, in
respect to the movements of the ecclesiastical reactionists. But the
dangers which threaten from that quarter are, at least in this country, of
a purely moral character, though they are doing much mischief in families,
and may throw some obstruction into the legislative action of the
government. They must therefore be combated with moral and intellectual
means,—with spiritual, and not carnal weapons,—and they may be completely
annihilated by a vigorous and skilful application of such means. The Pope
of Rome, though claiming a spiritual authority over many countries, cannot
maintain himself in his own temporal dominion without the assistance of
foreign powers, and is obliged to court the favour of secular potentates,
instead of commanding them, as had been done by his predecessors. The case
is quite different with the Imperial Pope of Russia, who commands a
million of bayonets, and whose authority is supported, not by canon, but
by cannon law, and not by bulls, but by bullets. The material force which
he has at his disposal is immensely strengthened by his spiritual
authority over the ignorant masses of the Russian population, upon whose
religious feelings he may act with great facility, because his orders to
the clergy are as blindly obeyed as his commands to the army; and it is
with the object of extending and consolidating this authority over all his
subjects without exception that those measures of persecution and
seduction against the Roman Catholics and Protestants, which I have
mentioned above, have been adopted. The probable consequence of this
religious centralization, and the condition of the church whose exclusive
dominion it is sought to establish in Russia, have been sketched in the
following graphic manner by an accomplished German writer, who, having
resided many years in Russia, and being thoroughly acquainted with the
language of that country, may be considered as one of the most competent
judges on this subject:—

“He who, with attentive ear and eye, travels through the wide empire of
the Czar, surrounding three parts of the world with its snares, and then
traces the sum of his contemplations, will tremble in thought at the
destiny which the Colossus of nations has yet to fulfil. He who doubts of
the impending fulfilment of this destiny knows not history, and knows not
Russia.

“However different in origin and interest the strangely mixed hordes may
be which constitute this giant realm, there exists one mighty bond which
holds them all together,—the Byzantine Church. Whoever remains out of it
will soon be forced into it; and ere the coming century begins, all the
inhabitants of Russia will be of one faith.

“Already that great net, whose meshes the Neva and the Volga, the Don and
the Dnieper, the Kyros and Araxes, form, inclose a preponderating
Christian population, in whose midst the scattered Islamitish race, the
descendants of the Golden Horde, are lost like drops in the ocean. What a
marvellous disposition of things, that the Russian empire, whose governing
principle is the diametrically opposite of the Christian law, should be
the very one to make of Christianity the corner, the keystone of its
might! And a no less marvellous disposition of things is it that the Czar,
in whatever direction he stretches his far-grasping arms, should find
Christian points of support whereon to knit the threads of fate for the
followers of Islam, artfully scattered by him—that he should find
Armenians at the foot of Ararat, and Georgians at the foot of Caucasus!

“But of what kind is this Christianity, that masses together so many
millions of human beings into one great whole, and uses them as moving
springs to the manifestations of a power that will sooner or later give
the old world a new transformation?

“Follow me for a moment into the Russian motherland, and throw a flying
glance at the religious state of things prevailing there.

“See that poor soldier, who, tired and hungry from his long march, is just
performing his sacred exercises, ere he takes his meal and seeks repose.

“He draws a little image of the virgin from his pocket, spits on it, and
wipes it with his coat sleeve: then he sets it down on the ground, kneels
before it, and crosses himself, and kisses it in pious devotion.

“Or enter with me on a Sunday one of the gloomy image-adorned Russian
churches. If the dress of those present is not already sufficient to
indicate their difference of station, you may readily distinguish them by
the manner in which each person makes the sign of the cross. Consider
first that man of rank, as he stands before a miracle-working image of a
Kazanshian mother of God, bows slightly before it, and crosses himself
notably. Translated into our vernacular the language of this personage’s
face would run in something like the following strain:—‘I know that all
this is a pious farce, but one must give no offence to the people, else
all respect would be lost. Would the people continue to toil for us, if
they were to lose their trust in the assurances we cause to be made to
them of the joys of heaven?’

“Now look at that caftan-clad fat merchant, as, with crafty glance and
confident step, he makes up to the priest to get his soul freed from the
trafficking sins of the past week.

“He knows the priest, and is sure that a good piece of money will meet
with a good reception from him; that is why he goes so carelessly, in the
consciousness of being able to settle in the lump the whole of his sinful
account; and when the absolution is over, he takes his position in front
of the miraculous image, and makes so prodigious a sign of the cross, that
before this act all the remaining scruples of his soul must vanish away.

“Consider, in fine, that poor countryman, who steals in humbly at the
door, and gazes slyly round him in the incense-beclouded spaces. The pomp
and the splendour are too much for the poor fellow.

“ ‘God,’ he thinks, ‘but what a gracious lord the Emperor is, that he
causes such fine churches to be built for us poor devils! God bless the
Emperor!’ And then he slips timidly up to some image where the golden
ground and the dark colours form the most glaring contrast, and throws
himself down before it, and crosses the floor with his forehead, so that
his long hair falls right over his face, and thus he wearies himself with
prostrations and enormous crossings, until he can do no more for
exhaustion. For the poorer the man in Russia, the larger the cross he
signs and wears.”(106)

This description of the religious state of the Russian people, given by a
writer who is not very partial to their country, may be perhaps suspected
of exaggeration, or considered as being too much of a caricature; I shall
therefore give my readers the observations which have been made on the
same subject by another German author, Baron Haxthausen, a great admirer
of Russia, who travelled over that country in 1843, under the patronage of
the Emperor, in order to study the state of its agriculture and industry,
as well as the social condition of the working-classes.

“A foreigner is struck,” says the Baron, “by the deep devotion and the
strict observance of the ordinances and customs of the church shown by
Russians of rank and superior education. I had already, at Moscow, an
opportunity of seeing it. Prince T., a young, elegant Muscovite dandy,
conducted me about the churches of the Kremlin, and almost in every one of
them he knelt down before some particularly venerated object,—as the
coffin of a saint, the image of a Madonna,—and touched the ground with his
forehead, and devoutly kissed the object in question. I observed the same
thing at Yaroslaf. Madame Bariatynski (the wife of the governor) and
another lady conducted me about the churches of that city, and as soon as
we entered one of them, both these ladies approached an image of the
Virgin, fell down before it, _without any regard to their __ dresses_,
touched with their foreheads the ground, and kissed the image, making
signs of the cross; and these were ladies belonging to the highest
society, and of the most refined manners. Madame Bariatynski had been a
lady of the court, and the ornament of the first drawing-rooms of St
Petersburg. Her mind is uncommonly cultivated, and she has a thorough
knowledge of French and German literature; and, indeed, when we were
walking to see these churches, along the banks of the Volga, she
discussed, in an animated and ingenious manner, the matchless beauty of
Goethe’s songs, and recited from memory his Fisherman. Even in the
strictest Roman Catholic countries, as, for instance, Bavaria, Belgium,
Rome, Munster, such public demonstrations of piety are not to be met,
except in some exceedingly rare cases, with women, but never with men. The
educated classes have in this respect separated from the lower ones. Even
people who are very devout consider such excessive manifestations of piety
as not quite decent, nay, though they dare not confess it, they are in
some measure ashamed of them. In Russia the case is different. There are
perhaps as many freethinkers, and even atheists, as in western Europe, but
even they submit, at least in public, and when they are in their own
country, unconditionally, and almost involuntarily, to the customs of
their church. In this respect, no difference whatever may be observed
between the highest and the commonest Russian; the unity of the national
church and of the national worship predominates everywhere.”(107)

It is almost superfluous to observe that a church which has such a hold on
the national mind of Russia must be a powerful engine in the hands of her
Imperial Pope, whose political authority is thus immensely strengthened by
the influence of religion. But I think it will be, perhaps, not
uninteresting to my readers to compare this baptised idolatry of the
modern Russians with that which had been practised by their unbaptised
ancestors about a thousand years ago, and the following account of which
is given by Ibn Foslan, an Arabian traveller of the tenth century, who saw
Russian merchants in the country of the Bulgars, a Mahometan nation who
lived on the banks of the Volga, and the ruins of whose capital may be
seen not far from the town of Kazan:—

“As soon as their (Russian) vessels arrive at the anchoring place, every
one of them goes on shore, taking with him bread, meat, milk, onions, and
intoxicating liquors, and repairs to a high wooden post, which has the
likeness of a human face carved upon it, standing surrounded with small
statues of a similar description, and some high ones erected behind it. He
prostrates himself before this wooden figure, and says, ‘O Lord, I have
arrived from a distant country; I have brought with me so and so many
girls,(108) so and so many sable skins;’ and when he has enumerated all
his merchandise, he lays before the idol the things which he has brought
with him, and continues his prayer, saying, ‘Here is a present which I
have brought thee, and I wish thou wouldst send me a customer who has
plenty of gold and silver, who will not bargain with me, but purchase all
that I have to sell at my own price.’ When his commerce does not prosper,
he brings new presents to the idol, and when he meets with some new
difficulties he makes gifts also to the small statues, but when he is
successful he offers oxen and sheep.”(109)

Kissing constitutes the principal part of the Russian worship of images
and relics, and is most liberally bestowed on those objects of adoration,
whilst I believe that the Roman Catholic Madonnas maintain a more
dignified state, and do not allow such familiarities to their worshippers,
unless on some particular occasions or to some privileged persons. The
Emperor himself sets the example of this pious _osculation_, a striking
instance of which occurred in the summer of last year, 1853, under
circumstances which deserve a particular notice.

I have said above, p. 161, that several millions of the followers of the
Greek United Church had been forced by the present emperor to transfer
their spiritual allegiance from the Pope to himself. Several of their
churches contain miraculous images of the Virgin, of more or less repute,
and which were obliged to share the fate of their worshippers, and to
become schismatics as much as the latter. Their vested rights have not
been, however, injured in any way by this revolution, because they
continue to be worshipped, and to work miracles as they did before, or,
what is the same thing, they are fully authorised to do so. The Russian
government followed on this occasion its usual line of policy, which is to
promote those who have joined it, forsaking their former party; and thus
one of the most distinguished of these miracle-working converts, the
Madonna of Pochayoff, a little town in Wolhynia, was transferred from her
provincial station to Warsaw, and placed there in a newly built Russian
cathedral, probably with the object of inducing the Roman Catholic
inhabitants of that capital to imitate an example set to them in such a
high quarter, and to acknowledge the spiritual authority of the Czar as
much as they are obliged to submit to his temporal dominion. When the
emperor was going last year to Olmutz, in order to persuade the Austrian
court to support his policy in Turkey, he passed through Warsaw, and
repairing, immediately after his arrival in that city, to the Russian
cathedral, kissed the above-mentioned miraculous image of the Madonna of
Pochayoff with such fervour that it produced quite a sensation upon all
those who were present, and was noticed in the newspapers as a proof of
the autocrat’s piety. Yet whether this Madonna, notwithstanding her
outward conversion to the Græco-Russian Church, remains a Romanist at
heart, or whether, for some other reason, she could or would not support
the views of her imperial worshipper, the result of the Czar’s voyage to
Olmutz proved that the caresses which he had bestowed upon the Madonna in
question were _love’s labours lost_. It may be also observed, that the
emperor himself seems not to have been quite sure of the effects of his
pious addresses to the now schismatic Madonna of Pochayoff, because it is
well known that this man, who, as I have said above, p. 161, had torn from
the spiritual authority of the Pope, by a violent persecution, many
millions of souls, knelt during his visit to Olmutz, with all the marks of
deep devotion, at a Roman Catholic high mass; whilst the Prince of
Prussia, who was also present on that occasion, stood by without taking a
hypocritical part in a worship which was contrary to his religion.

This image-kissing propensity of the Russians was the cause of a tragical
event during the plague at Moscow in 1771. It usually happens during a
public calamity that rumours of a wild and absurd nature are circulated
amongst the ignorant part of the population, and it was thus that, when
the pestilence was raging in the above-mentioned capital, a report was
spread that an image of the Virgin, placed at the entrance of a church,
had the power of preventing infection. Thousands of people repaired to the
miraculous image, and endless processions were wending along the streets
towards the same object of adoration, which was overloaded with rich
offerings by its worshippers, and adorned with costly jewels. As was to be
expected, this superstitious practice, instead of preventing the
infection, powerfully contributed to its increase; because the kisses
which the crowd lavishly bestowed on the miraculous image could not but
propagate the disease. The Archbishop of Moscow, Ambrose, an enlightened
prelate, in order to stop this mischief, removed the image from the place
where it had been exposed into the interior of the church; but this wise
measure produced a violent riot, and an infuriated mob rushed into the
sanctuary and murdered the venerable old man at the foot of the altar,
where he was officiating, dressed in his pontificals.

It is probably the same image of which Bodenstedt, whose account of the
Russian Church I have quoted above, p. 169, relates the following
anecdote. After having spoken of the usurpations of Russia beyond the
Caucasus, under pretence of protecting the Christian population of those
parts, he says:—

“The Russian policy, which conceals its grasping claws under the cloak of
religion, may be not inaptly compared to a lady well known at Moscow, who,
to the great edification of the bystanders, kissed the miraculous Madonna,
situated close to the Kremlin, with so much fervour, that the most costly
diamond of the jewels with which this image is covered remained in her
mouth.” And he adds, in a note, “The thing was afterwards discovered, and
the writer of this was himself present when this lady, the wife of a
Russian general, was obliged publicly to crave the forgiveness of the
image for this act of desecration. It is said that when this noble lady
was judicially examined about this affair, she pleaded in her defence that
having loved and worshipped the image in question devoutly during many
years, she believed herself entitled to a little _souvenir_ from the
Madonna.”(110) The Russian lady of rank seems not to have been so
ingenious as the Prussian soldier, whose story I have related on p. 118.
And it must be remarked that the Russian images expose their worshippers
to the temptations of mammon much more than the Roman Catholic ones;
because, whilst the latter are often valuable as objects of art, the
former have usually silver or golden garments, often set with precious
stones, which entirely cover the painting except the face, generally by no
means a model of beauty. The gifts which the Russians bestow on their
images are immense, and the most celebrated place for the accumulation of
such treasures is the convent of Troitza, or Trinity, situated about fifty
English miles from Moscow, and considered as a kind of national sanctuary
of Russia.(111) Baron Haxthausen, whom I have quoted on p. 173, says that
the value of sacred vases and ornaments accumulated in that place
surpasses all that may be seen of this kind any where else, without even
excepting Rome and Loretto; and he thinks that the quantity of pearls
contained in those ornaments is perhaps greater than is to be found in the
whole of Europe.(112)

The grave of St Sergius, the founder of that convent in the fourteenth
century, is adorned with gold and precious stones, and the silver canopy
over it is said to weigh 1200 pounds. The most remarkable object contained
in that convent is, however, the image of that saint which accompanied
Peter the Great during all his campaigns, and on which are inscribed the
names of all the battles and stormings of towns at which it had been
present. I do not know whether this image had a part in other expeditions
of the Russian army, but I have read this year in the newspapers that when
a division of grenadiers was passing through Moscow, on their way to
Turkey, the Archbishop of that capital addressed them, firing their zeal
for the religious war in which they were going to take part, and after
having blessed them with the image of St Sergius, the same to which I
alluded above, gave it them as a companion of their expedition. The allied
troops must therefore be prepared to encounter that _bellicose_ saint
somewhere on the Danube, unless he has been ordered to the shores of the
Baltic for the defence of the capital. The custom of taking with them
images considered as miraculous, during a campaign, was followed by the
generals of the Greek empire on many occasions. Thus it is related by a
Byzantine writer,(113) that in 590 Philippicus, a general of the Emperor
Mauritius, when going to engage the Persians in battle, took an _image
which was not made by the hands of man_, and carried it about the ranks of
his army, in order to purify his soldiers, and that he gained, after this
ceremony, a complete victory. It must, however, be remarked that when
Philippicus was replaced by another general, called Priscus, the latter,
relying too much on the protection of the image which _was not made by the
hands of man_, diminished the rations of the soldiers, and gave them other
causes of offence; they revolted, and when Priscus, in order to subdue the
riot, paraded the image in question, the mutineers threw stones at it. I
don’t know exactly how this business ended, but it is said that the Greek
generals usually liked to have an image of the kind alluded to, in order
to appease their troops in cases of mutiny and discontent; and I believe
that, considering the gross ignorance and superstition of the Russian
soldiers, the image of St Sergius may do good service in similar cases,
and for which these soldiers have but too many reasons. The Greek emperors
also sometimes provided with miraculous images the ambassadors who were
sent on important missions. I don’t know whether the Russian diplomacy,
which has performed so many wonders, has ever had recourse to the
assistance of such images, or to that of any supernatural agency.

The miraculous images of the Græco-Russian Church are generally considered
as _not made by the hands of man_, whilst those of the Roman Catholic
Church are usually believed to be painted by St Luke. The most celebrated
Madonnas of Russia, as those of Kazan, Korennaya, Akhtyrka, &c., are
believed to have dropt from heaven, in the same manner as the Diana of
Ephesus, and other Greek idols of repute. They are called _yavlenneeye
icony_, _i.e._, revealed images, and their number is considerable, though
all of them do not enjoy an equal reputation for miraculous powers. The
number of images of various descriptions is, I think, much greater in
Russia than in any other country, and they are called by the common
people, not images, _icony_, but gods, _boghi_; and many of their
worshippers are so ignorant, that they take every kind of picture or
engraving for the _boghi_, and devoutly cross themselves before them. A
German officer of engineers, in the Russian service, related to the author
that he had a Russian servant, a young lad of a very devout disposition,
who pasted every engraving which he could lay hold on, upon the wall over
his bed, in order to address his prayers to them. This officer once missed
some plates, containing mathematical figures, which had dropt from a book
of geometry, and he found afterwards that his pious servant, having picked
them up, gave them a place in his pantheon. If this strange divinity had
been found amongst the objects worshipped by that poor lad by some very
profound foreign traveller, unacquainted with the Russian people, it is
more than probable that he would have taken it for a mystical object of
adoration, and written a learned dissertation to explain its emblematic
sense.

Every household in Russia has its own little sanctuary, consisting of one
or more images, ornamented according to the means of the owner, and placed
in a corner opposite to the principal door. Every one who enters the room
makes a sign of the cross, bowing to these _penates_, the place under
whose shrine is considered as the seat of honour, reserved at meals for
the father of the family, or the most respected guest.

The Russians are great _exclusives_ in respect to their images, and every
believer has at least one of them stuck on the wall near his sleeping
place, for his especial use and comfort; whilst people who are continually
moving about, as carriers, pedlars, soldiers, &c., have their pocket
divinities with them; and the description of the devotional exercises of a
Russian soldier, given on p. 171, is by no means a caricature. This
exclusiveness was much greater before the reforms introduced by the
Patriarch Nicon in the seventeenth century than it is at present.(114)
Contemporary travellers relate that people brought into the churches their
own images, trying to get for them on the walls of the church the place
which they considered the best; and thus it often happened that these
images, being placed opposite to the altar, people in praying to them
turned their backs to the officiating priest, which generally produced
great confusion, and disturbed the performance of divine service. There
was a very great competition amongst those people in ornamenting their
images as showily as possible; and as the sanctity of an image was
increased, according to the opinion of those baptised idolaters, in
proportion to the richness of its ornaments, it often happened that a poor
man, who could not afford to trim up smartly his own image, addressed his
prayers to that of his richer neighbour. Such an adoration, however, was
considered as contraband; and when the lawful owner of the image caught
one of those pious interlopers, he not only sharply rebuked him, but
frequently gave him a sound thrashing, saying that he did not go to the
expense of decorating his image that another should obtain its
favours.(115)

Scandalous scenes of this description have been abolished in the
established church by the reforms of the Patriarch Nicon, alluded to
above, but something very like it may still be witnessed in the churches
of the _Raskolniks_, who have separated from the established church on
account of those reforms. These people often bring their own images to the
churches to pray before them, and it frequently happens amongst the boys
who worship in this way, that some of them, perceiving that their
neighbour has a finer image than their own, they steal it from him,
substituting that which belongs to them. This produces quarrels and
fighting amongst these boys, who reproach one another, saying, You
So-and-so, you have stolen my fine image which cost my father two roubles,
and left me this wretched one, which is not worth fifty copecs, _i.e._,
half a rouble. These scenes would be ludicrous if they were not positively
blasphemous, because these images are called on such occasions, as is
always done, by the name of gods, _boghi_.

It has been observed by some travellers in Russia that the image-dealers
of that country do not sell their wares, but, by a kind of legal fiction,
exchange them for a certain sum, and that consequently they are disposed
of at a fixed price. This is, however, not the case, and the image-dealers
of Russia make no exception to the other merchants of that country, who
generally ask for their goods the treble of their value, and a reasonable
price can only be obtained by hard bargaining. Only consecrated images,
_i.e._, those which have been sprinkled by a priest with holy water,
cannot be, I think, made an object of traffic.

The orthodox Russians have no less veneration for fine churches than for
splendidly adorned images, and the well-known German dramatic writer
Kotzebue gives in the relation of his forced voyage to Siberia,(116) under
the Emperor Paul, a characteristic trait of this disposition. The titulary
counsellor(117) Shchekatikhin, who conducted him to the place of his
exile, Kurghan, in the south of Siberia, showed a great reverence to all
the churches which they passed by. Whenever they passed a fine church
constructed of solid masonry, he doffed his cap and crossed himself most
fervently, whilst he treated very cavalierly all those which were built of
wood, making a hardly perceptible sign of the cross in their honour. This
national propensity to treat respectfully the great and disdainfully the
little, of which M. Shchekatikhin’s piety was such a characteristic
exemplification, has been, in its application to churches, described by
the great admirer of Russia, Baron Haxthausen, whose account of the
devotional practices observed by the upper classes of that country I have
given above, p. 173, in the following manner:—

“We saw, in most part of the villages on our road, fine new churches built
of stone or brick; but in one of them, called Novaya, I saw for the first
time an old wooden church, built of logs, and covered with boards and
shingles, such as they generally had been every where in Russia. These
wooden churches continually disappear, being replaced by those constructed
of masonry. The Russian peasantry consider it a particular honour to have
in their village a church of stone or brick. To leave a village with a
church of stone in order to settle in a place which has but a wooden one,
is considered as a degradation, and the inhabitants of the former would
hardly intermarry with those of the latter. The villages which have only a
wooden church, therefore, do all that they can in order to rise to an
equal grade with those who have one of stone or brick. This shows how the
pride of rank pervades the mind of the Russians in every form of life, and
in every class of the population. In cases of this kind, no promotion but
only a sum of money is required in order to obtain the desired rank. It
may be purchased by constructing a church of stone or brick. Such a church
costs ten, twenty, or thirty thousand silver roubles (six roubles equal to
one pound); but nothing is more easy than to get this sum. A dozen of
stout fellows disperse in various directions, to collect by begging the
sum required for the construction of the projected church, which is done
without any expense, as the collectors are hospitably received in every
house. As soon as the necessary sum is obtained, the village petitions the
government for a plan and for an architect, because the plan of every such
church must be approved at St Petersburg. Thus, in a few years, a fine
church is built, constructed in the modern style, and the rank of the
village rises in its own and in its neighbours’ opinion.

“Such things cannot be done in Western Europe, partly because an active
religious feeling amongst the people disappears more and more,(118) and
partly on account of the great fluctuation of their ideas, and want of
stability in their opinions. With the Russian it is quite otherwise. This
nation has no political ideas: but two sentiments pervade its whole
being—a common feeling of nationality, and a fervent attachment to the
national church. Whenever these two feelings take hold of the Russian’s
mind, he is ready willingly to sacrifice without a moment’s hesitation his
life and property.”(119)

It is these two national feelings that the Emperor Nicholas is now trying
to excite to the utmost pitch, and there can be little doubt that if he
succeeds in his object there will be a hard struggle between barbarity and
civilization, though the final triumph of the latter, to the advantage not
only of the victors, but also of the vanquished, cannot be doubted for a
moment. I must, however, return to Baron Haxthausen, who continues his
account of the Russian village churches, saying,—

“It must not be forgotten, in order to understand how such large
collections for a church of some obscure village, and made for the most
part amongst the peasants, are obtained, that _giving_ is as much in the
Russian character as _taking_. Nowhere property hangs upon such loose
threads and changes hands with such rapidity as in Russia. To-day rich,
to-morrow poor. People earn and squander away almost simultaneously; they
cheat and are cheated; they steal with one hand, and give away with the
other. The common Russian sets not his heart on any kind of property; he
loses with perfect equanimity what he had just earned, in the hope of
getting it again to-morrow.

“The Russian is, moreover, naturally good-hearted, charitable, and
liberal. A shopkeeper who had perhaps just cheated his neighbour of the
value of 20 copecs, without feeling any qualms of conscience on the
subject, will give one moment after it a rouble for the construction of a
church in some village to which he is a perfect stranger.”(120)

Thus, what Cicero said of Catiline, _Sui profusus alieni cupiens_, is
applicable, not only to individuals, but also to nations, whose actions
are swayed by feeling without being regulated by principle. It is almost
superfluous to observe that a nation thus disposed, and with whom
superstitious practices have a greater weight than religious principles,
may be easily precipitated into the most violent and dangerous courses,
which to accomplish seems now to be the object of the Emperor of Russia.

The Græco-Russian Church has an immense number of relics of saints, to
which all that Calvin has said of those of the Roman Catholic Church is
applicable. I have given, in a note to his treatise on this subject, an
account of St Anthony’s relics in Russia, as a counterpart to those which
the same saint possesses in western Europe. There are, indeed, many relics
to the exclusive possession of which both these churches lay an equal
claim, each of them representing her own as the only genuine, and that of
her rival as a spurious one. The most celebrated of these disputed relics
is the holy coat of Treves, and that of Moscow. It is well known what a
noise the former of these produced in 1844, when an immense number of
pilgrims came to worship it; and it is pretended that it had been found by
the Empress Helena, with the true cross, and presented by her to the town
of Treves. The coat of Moscow was given as a present to the Czar by a Shah
of Persia, and its genuineness was established by a Russian archbishop,
who asserted that, when he passed through Georgia on his return from
Jerusalem, he saw in a church of that country a golden box placed upon a
column, and which, as it was told to him, contained the coat without a
seam of our Lord. This statement was corroborated by an eastern monk, then
at Moscow, who related that it was generally believed in Palestine, that
when the soldiers cast lots for the possession of that coat, it fell to
the part of one of them, who, being a native of Georgia, took it with him
to his native land. These statements were sufficient to establish the
authenticity of the relic, which consequently was licensed to work
miracles and worked them.(121)

The most celebrated collection of relics in Russia is found in the town of
Kioff, on the Dnieper, and where the bodies of many hundreds of saints are
deposited in a kind of crypt called _Piechary_, _i.e._, caverns. The
chronicles relate that the digging of this sacred cavern was commenced in
the eleventh century by two monks called Anthony and Theodosius, who had
come from the Mount Athos, for their own and their disciples’ abode. It
was gradually extended, but the living established themselves afterwards
in a convent above ground, leaving to the dead the part under it. This
statement is considered to be authentic, but the numerous bodies of the
saints with which the long subterranean galleries of that cavern are
filled, have never been satisfactorily accounted for. It is the opinion of
many, that the nature of the soil is so dry, that, absorbing all the
moisture, it keeps the dead bodies which are deposited there in a more or
less perfect state of preservation; and it is said that an enlightened
archbishop of Kioff proved it by a successful experiment, putting into
that place the bodies of two women, who had been confined as prisoners in
a nunnery for their many vices. Be it as it may, Kioff is the resort of an
immense number of pilgrims, who arrive from all parts of Russia, to
worship the bodies of the saints, and the riches accumulated by their
pious donations at that place are only second to those of Troitza (p.
181).

The shrines of Jerusalem, which attract crowds of pilgrims from all parts
of the Christian world, had been for a long time a subject of dispute
between the Latins and the Greeks, and it is well known that the
politico-religious complications in which Europe is at present involved
have arisen from the claims of Russia relating to those shrines. It will,
therefore, I think, be not uninteresting to my readers to see the devout
manner in which these shrines are worshipped by the pilgrims of the
Græco-Russian Church; and I subjoin the two following accounts of this
subject, written at an interval of a century and a half, in order that my
readers may be able to judge for themselves whether the progress of
civilization during this period has had much influence on the pilgrims
alluded to above.

The first of these accounts is an extract from the diary of an English
clergyman, the Rev. Henry Maundrell, a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford,
and chaplain to the English factory at Aleppo, who visited Jerusalem in
the year 1697:—

“_Saturday, April 3d._—We went about mid-day to see the function of the
holy fire. This is a ceremony kept by the Greeks and Armenians, upon a
persuasion that every Easter Eve there is a miraculous flame descends from
heaven into the Holy Sepulchre, and kindles all the lamps and candles
there, as the sacrifice was burnt at the prayer of Elijah.—(1 Kings
xviii.)

“Coming to the church of the Holy Sepulchre, we found it crowded with a
numerous and distracted mob, making a hideous clamour, very unfit for that
sacred place, and better becoming bacchanals than Christians. Getting,
with some struggle, through this crowd, we went up into the gallery, on
that side of the church next the Latin convent, whence we could discern
all that passed in this religious frenzy.

“They began their disorders by running round the Holy Sepulchre with all
their might and swiftness, crying out as they went, ‘_Huia!_’ which
signifies ‘_This is he_,’ or, ‘_This is it_,’ an expression by which they
assert the verity of the Christian religion. After they had by their
vertiginous circulations and clamours turned their heads, and inflamed
their madness, they began to act the most antic tricks and postures, in a
thousand shapes of distraction. Sometimes they dragged one another along
the floor, all around the sepulchre; sometimes they set one man upright on
another’s shoulders, and in this posture marched round; sometimes they
turned men with their heels upwards, and hurried them about in such an
indecent manner as to expose their nudities; sometimes they tumbled round
the sepulchre, after the manner of tumblers on the stage. In a word,
nothing can be imagined more rude or extravagant than what was acted upon
this occasion.

“In this tumultuous frantic humour they continued from twelve to four of
the clock, the reason of which delay was because of a suit that was then
in debate before the cadi betwixt the Greeks and Armenians, the former
endeavouring to exclude the latter from having any share in this miracle.
Both parties having expended (as I was informed) five thousand dollars
between them in this foolish controversy, the cadi at last gave sentence
that they should enter the Holy Sepulchre together, as had been usual at
former times. Sentence being thus given, at four of the clock both nations
went on with their ceremony. The Greeks first set out in a procession
round the Holy Sepulchre, and immediately at their heels followed the
Armenians. In this order they compassed the Holy Sepulchre thrice, having
produced all their gallantry of standards, streamers, crucifixes, and
embroidered habits on this occasion.

“Toward the end of this procession, there was a pigeon came fluttering
into the cupola over the sepulchre, at the sight of which there was a
greater shout and clamour than before. This bird, the Latins told us, was
purposely let fly by the Greeks to deceive the people into an opinion that
it was a visible descent of the Holy Ghost.

“The procession being over, the suffragan of the Greek patriarch (he being
himself at Constantinople), and the principal Armenian bishop, approached
to the door of the sepulchre, and cutting the string with which it was
fastened and sealed, entered in, shutting the door after them, all the
candles and lamps within having been before extinguished in the presence
of the Turks and other witnesses. The exclamations were doubled as the
miracle drew nearer its accomplishment, and the people pressed with such
vehemence towards the door of the Sepulchre, that it was not in the power
of the Turks set to guard it with the severest checks to keep them off.
The cause of their pressing in this manner is the great desire they have
to light their candles at the holy flame, as soon as it is first brought
out of the Sepulchre, it being esteemed the most sacred and pure, as
coming immediately from heaven.

“The two miracle-mongers had not been above a minute in the Holy Sepulchre
when the glimmering of the holy fire was seen, or imagined to appear,
through some chinks of the door, and certainly Bedlam itself never saw
such an unruly transport as was produced in the mob at this sight.
Immediately after came out the two priests, with blazing torches in their
hands, which they held up at the door of the Sepulchre, while the people
thronged about with inexpressible ardour, every one striving to obtain a
part of the first and purest flame. The Turks in the meantime, with huge
clubs, laid on them without mercy; but all this could not repel them, the
excess of their transport making them insensible of pain. Those that got
the fire applied it immediately to their beards, faces, and bosoms,
pretending that it would not burn like an earthly flame; but I plainly saw
none of them could endure this experiment long enough to make good that
pretension.

“So many hands being employed, you may be sure it could not be long before
innumerable tapers were lighted. The whole church, galleries and every
place, seemed instantly to be in a flame, and with this illumination the
ceremony ended.

“It must be owned that those two within the sepulchre performed their part
with great quickness and dexterity; but the behaviour of the rabble
without very much discredited the miracle. The Latins take a great deal of
pains to expose this ceremony as a most shameful imposture, and a scandal
to the Christian religion, perhaps out of envy that others should be
masters of so gainful a business; but the Greeks and Armenians pin their
faith upon it, and make their pilgrimages chiefly upon this motive; and it
is the deplorable unhappiness of their priests, that having acted the
cheat so long already, they are forced now to stand to it, for fear of
endangering the apostasy of their people.

“Going out of the church after the event was over, we saw several people
gathered about the stone of unction, who, having got a good store of
candles lighted with the holy fire, were employed in daubing pieces of
linen with the wicks of them and the melting wax, which pieces of linen
were designed for winding sheets; and it is the opinion of these poor
people that if they can but have the happiness to be buried in a shroud
smutted with this celestial fire, it will certainly secure them from the
flames of hell.”—(P. 127, _et seq._, eighth edition, 1810.)

Many people may, however, believe that scenes of such an outrageous
description as that witnessed by Maundrell might have happened in his
time, viz., 1697, but that their repetition is quite impossible in our own
enlightened age. The following account of the same scenes by Mr Calman,
whose veracity is attested by a high authority, and who had an opportunity
of seeing it only a few years ago, which has been reproduced in a little,
and now particularly interesting book, “The Shrines of the Holy
Land,”(122) may enable my readers to judge of the influence which the
boasted march of intellect has produced on the Græco-Russian pilgrims, who
assemble every Easter at Jerusalem.

“To notice all that was passing,” says Mr Calman, “within the church of
the Holy Sepulchre during the space of twenty-four hours, would be next to
impossible, because it was one continuation of shameless madness and
rioting, which would have been a disgrace to Greenwich and Smithfield.
Only suppose for a moment the mighty edifice crowded to excess with
fanatic pilgrims of all the Eastern Churches, who, instead of lifting pure
hands to God, without wrath and quarrelling, are led, by the petty
jealousy about precedency which they should maintain in the order of their
processions, into tumults and fighting, which can only be quelled by the
scourge and whip of the followers of the false prophet.

“Suppose, farther, those thousands of devotees running from one extreme to
the other, from the extreme of savage irritation to that of savage
enjoyment, of mutual revellings and feastings, like Israel of old, who,
when they made the golden calf, were eating and drinking, and rising to
play. Suppose troops of men stripped half naked, to facilitate their
actions, running, trotting, jumping, galloping to and fro, the breadth and
length of the church, walking on their hands with their feet aloft in the
air, mounting on one another’s shoulders, some in a riding and some in a
standing position, and by the slightest push are all sent to the ground in
one confused heap, which made one fear for their safety.

“Suppose, farther, many of the pilgrims dressed in fur caps, like the
Polish Jews, whom they feigned to represent, and whom the mob met with all
manner of insult, hurrying them through the church as criminals who had
been condemned, amid loud execrations and shouts of laughter, which
indicated that Israel is still a derision amongst these heathens, by whom
they are still counted as sheep for the slaughter.

“About two o’clock on Saturday afternoon, the preparations for the
miraculous fire commenced. The multitude, who had been hitherto in a state
of frenzy and madness, became a little more quiet, but it proved a quiet
that precedes a thunderstorm. Bishops and priests, in full canonicals,
then issued forth from their respective quarters, with flags and banners,
crucifixes and crosses, lighted candles and smoking censers, to join or
rather to lead a procession, which moved thrice round the church, invoking
every picture, altar, and relic in their way to aid them in obtaining the
miraculous fire.

“The procession then returned to the place from whence it started, and two
grey-headed bishops, the one of the Greek and the other of the Armenian
Church, were hurled by the soldiers through the crowd, into the apartment
which communicated with that of the Holy Sepulchre, where they locked
themselves in; there the marvellous fire was to make its first appearance,
and from thence issue through the small circular windows and the door, for
the use of the multitude. The eyes of all—men, women, and children—were
now directed towards the Holy Sepulchre with an anxious expression,
awaiting the issue of their expectation. The mixed multitude, each in his
or her own language, were pouring forth their clamorous prayers to the
Virgin and the saints to intercede for them on behalf of the object for
which they were assembled, and the same were tenfold increased by the
fanatic gestures and the waving of the garments by the priests of their
respective communions, who were interested in the holy fire, and who were
watching by the above-mentioned door and circular windows, with torches in
their hands, ready to receive the virgin flame of the heavenly fire, and
carry it to their flocks.

“In about twenty minutes from the time the bishops locked themselves in
the apartment of the Holy Sepulchre, the miraculous fire made its
appearance through the door and the two small windows, as expected. The
priests were the first who lighted their torches, and they set out on a
gallop in the direction of their lay brethren; but some of these
errandless and profitless messengers had the misfortune to be knocked down
by the crowd, and had their firebrands wrested out of their hands, but
some were more fortunate, and safely reached their destination, around
whom the people flocked like bees, to have their candles lighted. Others,
however, were not satisfied at having the holy fire second hand, but
rushed furiously towards the Holy Sepulchre, regardless of their own
safety, and that of those who obstructed their way, though it has
frequently happened that persons have been trampled to death on such
occasions.

“Those who were in the galleries let down their candles by cords, and drew
them up when they had succeeded in their purpose. In a few minutes
thousands of flames were ascending, the smoke and the heat of which
rendered the church like the bottomless pit. To satisfy themselves, as
well as to convince the Latins, the pilgrims, women as well as men,
shamefully exposed their bare bosoms to the action of the flame of their
lighted candles, to make their adversaries believe the miraculous fire
differs from an ordinary one in being perfectly harmless.

“The two bishops, who a little while before locked themselves in the
apartment of the Holy Sepulchre, now sallied forth out of it. When the
whole multitude had their candles lighted, the bishops were caught by the
crowd, lifted upon their shoulders, and carried to their chapels, amidst
loud and triumphant acclamations. They soon, however, reappeared at the
head of a similar procession to the one before, as a pretended
thank-offering to the Almighty for the miraculous fire vouchsafed.”—(P.
121, _et seq._)

It appears, by comparing these two narratives of one and the same thing,
though separated by a distance of a hundred and fifty years, that the only
difference which will be found between them is, that in the time of
Maundrell, 1697, the miraculous fire was produced in about one minute’s
time, whilst the performance of the same trick required twenty when it was
observed by Mr Calman. And, indeed, it has been justly observed by both
these writers, that the exhibitors of the miraculous fire, having
continued so long to practise this imposture, cannot leave it off without
ruining their authority and influence over those whom they have thus been
cheating for many centuries. This circumstance has been most pointedly
expressed by the author of the work from which I have extracted Mr
Calman’s description of this pious, or rather impious, fraud, and who
says:—

“Had it been an occasional miracle, as time had rolled on, and truth had
more and more illuminated the human mind, the practice might have been
gradually discontinued. As the priests had grown more honest, and the
people more enlightened, they might have mutually consigned these pious
frauds to the oblivion of the darker ages; and if the blush of shame had
risen up at the memories of the past, the world would have respected them
the more for their honesty of purpose.

“But an _annual miracle_, always of the same specific kind, exhibited on
the same spot, and at the same hour,—an _annual miracle_,—at what point of
time should this be discontinued? and, if discontinued, would it not be
manifest either that heaven had forsaken its favourites, or that all the
past had been delusion and imposture?”—(Pp. 127, 128.)

And it is the authority of a church supported by such impious and shameful
impostures as this miraculous fire that a number of Anglicans, including
several dignitaries of the church, are anxious of preserving against
Protestant encroachments, and protest against the existence of the
Protestant bishopric of Jerusalem, for fear that it might injure the faith
of the pilgrims, and put an end to such sacred juggleries as the one
described above, which outrivals the most superstitious practices of
ancient or modern Paganism! And it is for the predominance of this same
church that the autocrat of Russia has now plunged Europe into a war which
may prove one of the bloodiest that modern times have witnessed, and
proclaimed a Græco-Russian crusade against the Ottoman Porte and its
Christian allies! This last-named circumstance may, I think, render it not
uninteresting to my readers to know the manner in which this question is
viewed by Russians of elevated rank and superior education. I would
therefore recommend to their attention a little pamphlet(123) recently
published in English by an accomplished Russian, who had studied at the
University of Edinburgh, and had enjoyed friendly intercourse with the
most eminent characters of that learned body, leaving with all those who
had known him a most favourable impression of his personal character and
talents. His opinions, therefore, are not those of an ignorant fanatic, or
a hireling of the Government, but must be considered as an expression of
those entertained by the upper classes of Russian society. He compares in
this pamphlet the position of Russia towards the followers of the Eastern
Church in Turkey, to that of England towards the Protestants of other
countries, saying:—

“You translate the Bible into all living languages, not excluding the
Turkish idiom, and you distribute the holy volumes to the shopkeeper of
Constantinople, and to the shepherd who tends his camels amidst the ruins
of Ephesus. We are not as laborious propagators of the faith; but yet we
would fain intercede in favour of the Turk when your copy of the Bible has
converted him to the Christian faith, and who, by the law of the land,
must have his head cut off for this transgression. Mark that the
obligation is much more binding on us than it is on you, and not the less
binding from the job having been begun by yourselves. The Turks are spread
amongst the Greeks and surrounded by them. There are ten thousand chances
to one, that if the Moslem be converted at all, it is to that creed of
which the church stands in his immediate eye, and that creed is ours. But,
strange to say, it is because of that very chance that we are to be
prohibited from meddling in the matter. With the French and with the
English the case is far different. They, indeed, we are told, claim the
right of protection only over thousands; but you claim that same right
over millions, and, therefore, you shall not have it. The question you
may, however, say, is not fairly put, for should a Turk be converted, and
on the point of losing his head, we are ready to interpose with our
authority, even though it be to the Greek Church that he should have
turned. Well! but place yourselves for a moment in our situation. Are we
to leave to you the work which has been done in our vineyard, and not
stand up for those who have embraced the cross, merely because there are
millions in that realm who embrace it? The case stands equally the same
with regard to the far greater number of human beings who are born and
have grown up in the profession of our faith. Without attempting to prove
that they are exposed to constant cruelty and oppression, a fact which has
been strenuously denied without the denial having ever been proved, it is
abundantly known, and an indisputable fact, that the Greeks are in a state
of continual bondage, deprived of the dearest rights of men, condemned, in
a religious point of view, to a state of thraldom such as exists in no
other part of the world, inasmuch as the supreme head of their church is
installed in his dignity, maintained in the same, or deposed by a
sovereign professing a faith hostile to his own. Is such a state of things
to be tolerated by those who are its victims? and is not this in itself a
hardship greater than any other that can be imagined? The English have
given us, in a period, it is true, of greater zeal for their faith, an
example of active sympathy manifested by them towards their brothers in
belief, subjects of a neighbouring and powerful sovereign. The case was
not as urgent as the one to which I compare it, inasmuch as the Huguenots
of France were not the subjects of a Mussulman sovereign. But this,
perhaps, will be brought home as an argument against me, for such is the
hatred of sects proceeding from the same faith, that England would,
perhaps, have borne more meekly the hardships endured by the Calvinistic
brethren, if they had been subjected thereunto by a Soliman, and not by
him who styled himself the most Christian king of France. However this may
be, it is said at present that, whether oppressed or no, the Greeks never
solicited our intervention. To this it may be answered, that the whole
difficulty would have been solved by the very fact of the solicitation,
for had they had the courage and the means to send a similar and unanimous
message to the Emperor of Russia, they would have had the strength and
unanimity required themselves to strike the blow, and make all
intervention useless. The fact of their having not risen as a man in their
own cause, is a sufficient explanation for their want of boldness in
soliciting their deliverance at the hands of a foreign state. But laying
aside the question of the _subjects_ of the Ottoman empire professing the
Greek faith, to speak of the much more vital interest of the faith itself,
professed as it is by ourselves, let it be permitted to me to submit to
your candid decision, if the work of defending that faith does not belong
pre-eminently to us, and neither to the English nor the French. We
tolerate in the whole extent of our empire both the Roman Catholic and the
Lutheran communions of faith; we have millions of subjects professing both
creeds; we build churches for them. Long before the Roman Catholics were
emancipated in England, the posts of the highest honour, of the greatest
confidence, and of the largest perquisites in the army, the senate, and
the supreme council of the empire, were opened indiscriminately by us to
men professing the Greek, Roman, or Lutheran creeds. Is it because of our
tolerance with respect to sects not our own, that we are condemned to be
indifferent to the hardships of those of our own faith? Are we not only to
allow your church to stand unmolested within our own realm, but also to
allow our own church to fall in ruins within the limits of a neighbouring
state? If so, you condemn our toleration, you call it indifference and
disbelief.”—(P. 9, _et seq._)

It is perfectly true that there are in Russia several millions of
Protestants and Roman Catholics, and that many of the highest offices,
civil as well as military, are occupied by them; for it is well known that
the most efficient servants of the Russian government are chiefly
foreigners, either by birth or extraction. This tolerance, however, is
always getting more and more restricted; and I have alluded above, on pp.
161-163, to the persecution of the Greeks united with Rome, as well as the
systematical proselytism by force and fraud amongst the Protestants of the
Baltic provinces. The author says that a Mahometan who becomes a convert
to Christianity must lose his head by the laws of Turkey, but he does not
tell us what fate awaits a follower of the Greek Church in Russia who
would become a Roman Catholic or a Protestant. M. de Custine relates, in
his well-known work on Russia,(124) that a Russian gentleman, who enjoyed
a high social position at Moscow, published a work, which the censor
allowed in an unaccountable manner to pass, maintaining that the influence
of the Roman Catholic Church is much more favourable to the progress of
civilization than that of the Græco-Russian one, and that the social
condition of Russia would have been much more advanced by the former than
it has been by the latter. This work produced a great sensation, and the
punishment of the author of such a blasphemy was loudly demanded by the
orthodox Russians. This affair being submitted to the Emperor, he declared
that the author was _insane_, and ordered to treat him accordingly. The
unfortunate individual consequently was put into a madhouse, and though
perfectly sane, was subjected to the most rigorous treatment as a lunatic,
so that he nearly became in reality what he was _officially_ declared to
be, and it was only after several years of this moral and physical torture
that he was permitted to have a little more liberty, though still retained
in confinement.

I do not know what has become of this unfortunate man, but the truth of
this nameless act of tyranny has been fully admitted by Mr Gretsch, who
wrote, by the order of the Russian Government, an answer to the work of
Custine. He says that the individual in question, a Mr Chadayeff, having
committed an action which the laws of Russia punish with great severity,
the Emperor Nicholas, desiring to save the culprit from the penalty which
he had incurred, ordered, by an act of mercy, to treat him simply as a
madman.

Now, I think that the penalty of physical death, inflicted by the Turkish
law on the converts from Mahometanism to Christianity, may be considered
as humane, if compared to the murder of soul and intellect by the slow
process of a moral and physical torture, to which a man has been subjected
in Russia for his religious opinions; and if such an atrocious punishment
was inflicted by an act of _imperial mercy_, as a mitigation of the
severity of the law, what would it have been if the letter of that law had
been fulfilled? “_Ferrea jura, insanumque forum._”

If, according to the opinion of the Russian writer, his countrymen have a
right of interfering in behalf of the followers of their church in Turkey,
on account of the community of their faith, the same right is possessed by
Great Britain and other Protestant States, as well as by France and other
Roman Catholic powers, to interfere in behalf of their brethren in the
faith who are oppressed by Russia. With regard to the observation of the
same author, “that the Greeks are in a continual state of bondage,
deprived of the dearest rights of men, condemned, in a religious point of
view, to a state of thraldom such as exists in no other part of the world,
inasmuch as the supreme head of their church is installed in his dignity,
maintained in the same, or deposed, by a sovereign professing a faith
hostile to his own,” I must remark that he has forgotten, in saying that
such a state of thraldom exists not in any other part of the world, to
add, _except in Russia_, because all the Roman Catholic bishops and other
dignitaries of their church, as well as the Protestant superintendents,
presidents of consistories, &c., “are installed in their dignity,
maintained in the same, or deposed, by a sovereign professing a faith
hostile to their own.” And his question, “Is such a state of things to be
tolerated by its victims? and is it not in itself a hardship greater than
any other that can be imagined?” is as much applicable to the Protestants
and Roman Catholics of Russia as it is to the Christians of Turkey.

The “Russian, Quondam Civis Bibliothecæ Edinensis,” carries his zeal for
the orthodox Greek Church so far as to recommend its adoption to the
English:—

“Do you not see every day, in your own country, the encroaching action of
the See of Rome? And here I cannot refrain from exclaiming, how strange it
is to see every day converts in crowds passing from the Protestant to the
Roman faith, and not pausing for a moment to reflect if they have not a
smaller space to cross, and a safer haven to come to in the bosom of the
Græco-Catholic Church, the same as that of Rome, minus the anti-apostolic
double procession of the Holy Ghost, minus an infallible pope, minus the
sale of indulgences, and last, though not least, minus the arbitrary
exclusion of the blood of Christ from the holy communion given to laymen!
Is it not strange, that on the moment of abjuring your reformations, you
should fly into the arms of a church which _has_ introduced reformations
of its own, and not appeal to that one church which professes with evident
truth to have admitted no changes at all, and kept intact the purity of
her tradition? But, again, this is no theological disquisition.
Witnessing, however, as I said above, in your own kingdom, the daily
increasing influence of the Roman See, you can surely understand how
legitimately jealous we must be of the same influence extending within the
precincts of our sheepfold. And, therefore, not only is our faith to be
preserved unmolested, but the saving deed is to be done by _us_, and not
through the agency of English and French ambassadors or fleets, to be
achieved in the name of the faith we profess in common with our Greek
brethren, and by no means stipulated in the name of universal freedom of
thought. I think I have said enough to prove the vital and cordial
interest which Russia cannot but take in the cause of her own church, and
of those who profess it in Turkey, and the paramount necessity she is
under of making that cause her own.”—(P. 12, _et seq._)

If the Russian author is so anxious to convert the British Protestants to
the Græco-Russian, or, as he calls her, “Græco-Catholic” Church, he may
translate her controversial works into English, and build places of
worship where image-kissing, prostration, incense, and holy water, may be
exhibited for the edification of the British heretics, _ad libitum_.
Nobody will interfere with their ceremonies, not even with their
preachings against Protestantism, because its disciples in Great Britain
are satisfied with defending their religion by spiritual weapons, and do
not resort to material arms, except in repressing either public or private
acts of violence. As regards the dogmatic pre-eminence of his church over
that of Rome,—her rejection of the “_anti-apostolic double procession of
the Holy Ghost_,”—which has been, I think, retained by the English Church,
&c., I leave this subject to the decision of theologians, but shall only
observe that the worship of images, relics, and other pagan practices,
which I have described in this chapter, do not prove much in favour of the
_purity of her tradition_. I would also ask whether it is in accordance
with this tradition that the Russian clergy, notwithstanding all their
claims to apostolic succession, are governed by the Czar, who sometimes
delegates for this purpose a colonel of hussars,(125) which office, I
believe, was never known, even in the most militant of churches? It has
been, indeed, well said by the Marquis de Custine, that the Russian clergy
are but an army wearing regimentals somewhat different from the dress of
the regular troops of the empire. The papas and their bishops are under
the direction of the emperor, a regiment of clerks, and that is all.(126)
It is in order to extend the advantages of this military organization to
the Christians of Turkey that Russia, according to the opinion of our
author, “_is __ under the paramount necessity of making their cause her
own_.” All that I say is, that she felt the same necessity of making the
cause of the Greeks and Protestants of Poland _her own_, and that she
ended by making the same thing with their country.

The politico-religious complications into which Europe has now been thrown
by the ambition of Russia have induced me particularly to dwell upon the
means which the church of that country offers for the promotion of the
political schemes of its rulers. With regard to the superstitious
practices borrowed from Paganism, and peculiar to that church, the most
remarkable is, perhaps, that heathen custom called _parentales_, mentioned
before, p. 62, and which may be found in different parts of Russia. People
assemble on Monday, after the Easter week, in churchyards, where they eat
and drink to great excess, in commemoration of their deceased relatives.
There are many other similar practices, as, for instance, that of
providing the dead body with a kind of passport or written testimony of
his religious conduct, &c., probably imported with the Christian religion
by the Greek Church, because at the time of the conversion of Russia, this
church had already introduced painted though not carved(127) images, to
which allusion has been made on p. 12 of this Essay.



CALVIN’S TREATISE ON RELICS, WITH NOTES BY THE TRANSLATOR.


St Augustinus complains, in his work entitled “The Labour of Monks,” that
certain people were, even in his time, exercising a dishonest trade,
hawking about relics of martyrs, and he adds the following significant
words, “_should they really be relics of martyrs_,” from which we may
infer, that even then abuses and deceits were practised, by making simple
folks believe that bones, picked up any where, were bones of saints. Since
the origin of this abuse is so ancient, there can be no doubt that it has
greatly increased during a long interval of years, particularly as the
world has been much corrupted since that age, and has continued to
deteriorate until it has arrived at its present condition.

Now, the origin and root of this evil has been, that, instead of
discerning Jesus Christ in his Word, his Sacraments, and his Spiritual
Graces, the world has, according to its custom, amused itself with his
clothes, shirts, and sheets, leaving thus the principal to follow the
accessory.

It did the same thing with the apostles, martyrs, and other saints, and,
instead of observing their lives in order to imitate their examples, it
directed all its attention to the preservation and admiration of their
bones, shirts, sashes, caps, and other similar trash.

I know well that there is a certain appearance of real devotion and zeal
in the allegation, that the relics of Jesus Christ are preserved on
account of the honour which is rendered to him, and in order the better to
preserve his memory. But it is necessary to consider what St Paul says,
that every service of God invented by man, whatever appearance of wisdom
it may have, is nothing better than vanity and foolishness, if it has no
other foundation than our own devising. Moreover, it is necessary to set
the profit derived from it against the dangers with which it is fraught,
and it will thus be found that, to have relics is a useless and frivolous
thing, which will most probably gradually lead towards idolatry, because
they cannot be handled and looked upon without being honoured, and in
doing this men will very soon render them the honour which is due to Jesus
Christ. In short, the desire for relics is never without superstition, and
what is worse, it is usually the parent of idolatry. Every one admits that
the reason why our Lord concealed the body of Moses, was that the people
of Israel should not be guilty of worshipping it. Now, we may conclude
that the act to be avoided with regard to the body of Moses must be
equally shunned with regard to the bodies of all other saints, and for the
same reason—because it is sin. But let us leave the saints, and consider
what St Paul says of Jesus Christ himself, for he protests that he knew
him not according to the flesh, but only after his resurrection,
signifying by these words, that all that is carnal in Jesus Christ must be
forgotten and put aside, and that we should employ and direct our whole
affections to seek and possess him according to the spirit. Consequently
the pretence that it is a good thing to have some memorials either of
himself or of the saints, to stimulate our piety, is nothing but a cloak
for indulging our foolish cravings which have no reasonable foundation;
and should even this reason appear insufficient, it is openly repugnant to
what the Holy Ghost has declared by the mouth of St Paul, and what can be
said more?

It is of no use to discuss the point whether it is right or wrong to have
relics merely to keep them as precious objects, without worshipping them,
because experience proves that this is never the case.

It is true that St Ambrose, in speaking of Helena, the mother of the
Emperor Constantine the Great, who sought with great trouble and expense
for the cross of our Lord, says that she did not worship the wood, but the
Lord who was suspended upon it. But it is a very rare thing, that a heart
disposed to value any relics whatever should not become to a certain
degree polluted by some superstition.

I admit that people do not arrive at once at open idolatry, but they
gradually advance from one abuse to another until they fall into this
extremity, and, indeed, those who call themselves Christians have, in this
respect, idolatrised as much as Pagans ever did. They have prostrated
themselves, and knelt before relics, just as if they were worshipping God;
they have burnt candles before them in sign of homage; they have placed
their confidence in them, and have prayed to them, as if the virtue and
the grace of God had entered into them. Now, if idolatry be nothing else
than the transfer elsewhere of the honour which is due to God, can it be
denied that this is idolatry? This cannot be excused by pretending that it
was only the improper zeal of some idiots or foolish women, for it was a
general custom approved by those who had the government of the church, and
who had even placed the bones of the dead and other relics on the high
altar, in the greatest and most prominent places, in order that they
should be worshipped with more certainty.

It is thus that the foolish fancy which people had at first for collecting
relics, ended in this open abomination,—they not only turned from God, in
order to amuse themselves with vain and corruptible things, but even went
on to the execrable sacrilege of worshipping dead and insensible
creatures, instead of the one living God. Now, as one evil never comes
alone but is always followed by another, it thus happened that where
people were seeking for relics, either of Jesus Christ or the saints, they
became so blind that whatever name was imposed upon any rubbish presented
to them, they received it without any examination or judgment; thus the
bones of an ass or dog, which any hawker gave out to be the bones of a
martyr, were devoutly received without any difficulty. This was the case
with all of them, as will be shown hereafter.

For my own part, I have no doubt that this has been a great punishment
inflicted by God. Because, as the world was craving after relics, and
turning them to a wicked and superstitious use, it was very likely that
God would permit one lie to follow another; for this is the way in which
he punishes the dishonour done to his name, when the glory due to him is
transferred elsewhere. Indeed, the only reason why there are so many false
and imaginary relics is, that God has permitted the world to be doubly
deceived and fallen, since it has so loved deceit and lies.

The first Christians left the bodies of the saints in their graves,
obeying the universal sentence, that _all flesh is dust, and_ TO DUST IT
MUST RETURN, and did not attempt their resurrection before the appointed
time by raising them in pomp and state. This example has not been followed
by their successors; on the contrary, the bodies of the faithful, in
opposition to the command of God, have been disinterred in order to be
glorified, when they ought to have remained in their places of repose
awaiting the last judgment.

They were worshipped; every kind of honour was shown to them, and people
put their trust in such things. And what was the consequence of all this?
The devil, perceiving man’s folly, was not satisfied with having led the
world into one deception, but added to it another, by giving the name of
_relics of saints_ to the most profane things. And God punished the
credulous by depriving them of all power of reasoning rightly, so that
they accepted without inquiry all that was presented to them, making no
distinction between white or black.

It is not my intention now to discuss the abominable abuse of the relics
of our Lord, as well as of the saints, at this present time, in the most
part of Christendom. This subject alone would require a separate volume;
for it is a well-known fact that the most part of the relics which are
displayed every where are false, and have been put forward by impostors
who have most impudently deceived the poor world. I have merely mentioned
this subject, to give people an opportunity of thinking it over, and of
being upon their guard. It happens sometimes that we carelessly approve of
a thing without taking the necessary time to examine what it really is,
and we are thus deceived for want of warning; but when we are warned, we
begin to think, and become quite astonished at our believing so easily
such an improbability. This is precisely what has taken place with the
subject in question. People were told, “This is the body of such a saint;
these are his shoes, those are his stockings;” and they believed it to be
so, for want of timely caution. But when I shall have clearly proved the
fraud which has been committed, all those who have sense and reason will
open their eyes and begin to reflect upon what has never before entered
their thoughts. The limits of my little volume forbid me from entering but
upon a small part of what I would wish to perform, for it would be
necessary to ascertain the relics possessed by every place in order to
compare them with each other. It would then be seen that every apostle had
more than four bodies,(128) and each saint at least two or three, and so
on. In short, if all the relics were collected into one heap, the only
astonishment would be that such a silly and clumsy imposition could have
blinded the whole earth.

As every, even the smallest Catholic church has a heap of bones and other
small rubbish, what would it be if all those things which are contained in
two or three thousand bishoprics, twenty or thirty thousand abbeys, more
than forty thousand convents, and so many parish churches and chapels,
were collected into one mass?(129) The best thing would be not merely to
name, but to visit them.

In this town (Geneva) there was formerly, it is said, an arm of St
Anthony; it was kissed and worshipped as long as it remained in its
shrine; but when it was turned out and examined, it was found to be the
bone of a stag. There was on the high altar the brain of St Peter; so long
as it rested in its shrine, nobody ever doubted its genuineness, for it
would have been blasphemy to do so; but when it was subjected to a close
inspection, it proved to be a piece of pumice-stone. I could quote many
instances of this kind; but these will be sufficient to give an idea of
the quantity of precious rubbish there would have been found if a thorough
and universal investigation of all the relics of Europe had ever taken
place. Many of those who look at relics close their eyes from
superstition, so that in regarding these they _see_ nothing; that is to
say, they dare not properly gaze at and consider what they properly may
be. Thus many who boast of having seen the whole body of St Claude, or of
any other saint, have never had the courage to raise their eyes and to
ascertain what it really was. The same thing may be said of the head of
Mary Magdalene, which is shown near Marseilles, with eyes of paste or wax.
It is valued as much as if it were God himself who had descended from
heaven; but if it were examined, the imposition would be clearly
detected.(130) It would be desirable to have an accurate knowledge of all
the trifles which in different places are taken for relics, or at least a
register of them, in order to show how many of them are false; but since
it is impossible to obtain this, I should like to have at least an
inventory of relics contained in ten or twelve such towns as Paris,
Toulouse, Poitiers, Rheims, &c. If I had nothing more than this, it would
form a very curious collection. Indeed, it is a wish I am constantly
entertaining to get such a precious repertory. However, as this is too
difficult, I thought it would be as well to publish the following little
warning, to awaken those who are asleep, and to make them consider what
may be the state of the entire church if there is so much to condemn in a
very small portion of it;—I mean, when people find so much deception in
the relics I shall name, and which are far from being the thousandth part
of those that are exhibited in various parts of the world, what must they
think of the remainder? moreover, if those which had been considered as
the most authentic proved to be fraudulent inventions, what can be thought
of the more doubtful ones? Would to God that Christian princes thought a
little on this subject! for it is their duty not to allow their subjects
to be deceived, not only by false doctrine, but also by such manifest
impositions. They will indeed incur a heavy responsibility for allowing
God to be thus mocked when they could prevent it.

I hope, however, that this little treatise will be of general service, by
inducing people to think on the subject; for, if we could have the
register of all the relics that are to be found in the world, men would
clearly see how much they had been blinded, and what darkness and folly
overspread the earth.

Let us begin with Jesus Christ, about whose blood there have been fierce
disputations; for many maintained that he had no blood except of a
miraculous kind; nevertheless the natural blood is exhibited in more than
a hundred places. They show at Rochelle a few drops of it, which, as they
say, was collected by Nicodemus in his glove. In some places they have
phials full of it, as, for instance, at Mantua and elsewhere; in other
parts they have cups filled with it, as in the Church of St Eustache at
Rome. They did not rest satisfied with simple blood; it was considered
necessary to have it mixed with water as it flowed out of his side when
pierced on the cross. This is preserved in the Church of St John of the
Lateran at Rome.

Now, I appeal to the judgment of every one whether it is not an evident
lie to maintain that the blood of Jesus Christ was found, after a lapse of
seven or eight hundred years, to be distributed over the whole world,
especially as the ancient church makes no mention of it?

Then come the things which have touched the body of our Lord. Firstly, the
manger in which he was placed at his birth is shown in the Church of
Madonna Maggiore at Rome.

In St Paul’s Church there are preserved the swaddling clothes in which he
was wrapped, though there are pieces of these clothes at Salvatierra in
Spain. His cradle is also at Rome, as well as the shirt his mother made
for him.

At the Church of St James, in the same city, is shown the altar upon which
he was placed at his presentation in the temple, as if there had been many
altars, according to the fashion of the Popish churches, where any number
of them may be erected. This is what they show relating to the time of
Christ’s childhood.

It is, indeed, not worth while seriously to discuss whence they obtained
all this trash, so long a time after the death of Jesus Christ. That man
must be of little mind who cannot see the folly of it. There is no mention
of these things in the Gospels, and they were never heard of in the times
of the apostles. About fifty years after the death of Jesus Christ,
Jerusalem was destroyed. Many ancient doctors have written since,
mentioning fully the occurrences of their time, even to the cross and
nails found by Helena, but these absurdities are not alluded to. But what
is more, these things were not brought forward at Rome during the days of
St Gregory, as may be seen from his writings; whilst after his death Rome
was several times taken, pillaged, and almost destroyed.

Now, what other conclusion can be drawn from these considerations but that
all these were inventions for deceiving silly folks? This has even been
confessed by some monks and priests, who call them _pious frauds_, _i.e._,
_honest deceits_ for exciting the devotion of the people.

After these come the relics belonging to the period from the childhood to
the death of Jesus Christ, such as the water pots in which Christ changed
water into wine at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee.

One would naturally inquire how they were preserved for so long a time?
for it is necessary to bear in mind that they were not discovered until
eight hundred or a thousand years after the performance of the miracle.

I cannot tell all the places where these water pots are shown; I only know
that they can be seen at Pisa, Ravenna, Cluny, Antwerp, and Salvatierra in
Spain.(131)

At Orleans they have even the wine which was obtained by that miracle, and
once a-year the priests there give to those who bring offerings a small
spoonful, saying that they shall taste of the very wine made by our Lord
at the marriage feast, and its quantity never decreases, the cup being
always refilled. I do not know of what date are his shoes, which are
preserved in a place at Rome called _Sancta Sanctorum_, or whether he had
worn them in his childhood or manhood; but this is of little moment, for
what I have already mentioned sufficiently shows the gross imposition of
producing now the shoes of Jesus Christ, which were not possessed by the
apostles in their time.

Now, let us proceed to the last supper which Christ had with his apostles.
The table is at St John of the Lateran at Rome; some bread made for that
occasion at Salvatierra in Spain; and the knife with which the paschal
lamb was carved is at Tréves. Now, it is necessary to observe that Christ
made that supper in a borrowed room, and on going from thence he left the
table, which was not removed by the apostles. Jerusalem was soon
afterwards destroyed. How, then, could the table be found after a lapse of
eight hundred years?

Moreover, in the early ages tables were made of quite a different shape to
those of our days, for people then took their repasts in a lying, not in a
sitting posture—a circumstance expressly mentioned in the Gospels. The
deceit is therefore quite manifest, without more being added to prove it.

The cup in which Christ gave the sacrament of his blood to the apostles is
shown at Notre Dame de l’Isle, near Lyons; and there is another in a
convent of Augustine monks in the Albigéois;—which is the true one?
Charles Sigonius, a celebrated historian of our times, says, in his fourth
book on Italy, that Baldwin, second king of Jerusalem, captured in 1101,
with the assistance of the Genoese, the town of Cesarea in Syria, and
amongst the spoils taken by his allies was a vessel or cup of emerald,
which was considered to have been made use of by Jesus Christ at his last
supper. “Therefore,”—these are his own words,—“this cup is even now
devoutly preserved in the town of Genoa.”

According to this account, our Lord must have had a splendid service on
that occasion; for there would be as little propriety in drinking from
such a costly vessel without having the rest of the service of a similar
description, as there is in some Popish pictures where the Virgin Mary is
represented as a woman with her hair hanging over her shoulders, dressed
in a gown of cloth of gold, and riding on a donkey which Joseph leads by
the halter. We recommend our readers to consider well the Gospel texts
relating to this subject.

The case of the dish upon which the paschal lamb was placed is still
worse, for it is to be found at Rome, at Genoa, and at Arles. If these
holy relics be genuine, the customs of that time must have been quite
different from ours, because, instead of changing viands as we now do, the
dishes were changed for the same food!

The same may be said of the towel with which Jesus Christ wiped the feet
of the apostles, after having washed them; there is one at Rome at the
Lateran, one at Aix-la-Chapelle, and one at St Corneille of Compiegne,
with the print of the foot of Judas. Some of these must be false.

But we will leave the contending parties to fight out their own battles,
until one of them shall establish the reality of his case. It appears to
me, however, that trying to make people believe that a towel which Jesus
Christ had left in the place where it was used, had in several hundred
years afterwards found its way into Germany and Italy, is nothing better
than a gross imposture.

I nearly forgot to mention the bread with which five thousand persons were
miraculously fed in the desert, and of which a bit is shown at Rome, and
another piece at Salvatierra in Spain.

The Scripture says that a portion of manna was preserved in remembrance of
God having miraculously fed his people in the desert; but the Gospel does
not say a word respecting the preservation of the fragments of the five
loaves for a similar purpose; the subject is not mentioned in any ancient
history, nor does any ecclesiastical writer speak of it. It is therefore
very easily perceived that the above-mentioned pieces of bread are of
modern manufacture.

The principal relics of our Lord are, however, those relating to his
passion and death. And the first of them is the cross. I know that it is
considered to be a certain fact that it was found by Helena, the mother of
the Emperor Constantine; and I know also that some ancient doctors have
written about the manner in which the discovery was certified that it was
the true cross upon which our Lord had suffered. I think, however, that it
was a foolish curiosity, and a silly and inconsiderate devotion, which
prompted Helena to seek for that cross. But let us take for granted that
it was a laudable act, and that our Lord had declared by a miracle that it
was the real cross, and let us consider only the state of the case in our
own time.

It is maintained undoubtingly that the cross found by Helena is still at
Jerusalem, though this is contradicted by ecclesiastical history, which
relates that Helena took a piece of it, and sent it to her son the
emperor, who set it upon a column of porphyry, in the centre of a public
place or square, whilst the other portion of it was enclosed by her in a
silver case, and intrusted to the keeping of the Bishop of Jerusalem;
consequently, either the before-mentioned statement or this historical
record must be false.

Now let us consider how many relics of the true cross there are in the
world. An account of those merely with which I am acquainted would fill a
whole volume, for there is not a church, from a cathedral to the most
miserable abbey or parish church, that does not contain a piece. Large
splinters of it are preserved in various places, as for instance in the
Holy Chapel at Paris, whilst at Rome they show a crucifix of considerable
size made entirely, they say, from this wood. In short, if we were to
collect all these pieces of the true cross exhibited in various parts,
they would form a whole ship’s cargo.

The Gospel testifies that the cross could be borne by one single
individual; how glaring, then, is the audacity now to pretend to display
more relics of wood than three hundred men could carry! As an explanation
of this, they have invented the tale, that whatever quantity of wood may
be cut off this true cross, its size never decreases. This is, however,
such a clumsy and silly imposture, that the most superstitious may see
through it. The most absurd stories are also told respecting the manner in
which various pieces of the cross were conveyed to the places where they
are now shown; thus, for instance, we are informed that they were brought
by angels, or had fallen from heaven. By these means they seduce ignorant
people into idolatry, for they are not satisfied with deceiving the
credulous, by affirming that pieces of common wood are portions of the
true cross, but they pretend that it should be worshipped, which is a
diabolical doctrine, expressly reproved by St Ambrose as a Pagan
superstition.

After the cross comes the inscription, “_Jesus of Nazareth, King of the
Jews_,” which was placed upon it by order of Pilate. The town of Toulouse
claims the possession of this relic, but this is contradicted by Rome,
where it is shown in the Church of the Holy Cross. If these relics were
properly examined, it would be seen that the claims of both parties are
equally absurd.

There is a still greater contradiction concerning the nails of the cross.
I shall name those with which I am acquainted, and I think even a child
could see how the devil has been mocking the world by depriving it of the
power of discernment on this point. If the ancient writers, such as the
ecclesiastical historian Theodorite, tell the truth (_Historia
Tripartita_, lib. ii.), Helena caused one of the nails to be set in the
helmet of her son Constantine, and two others in the bridle of his horse.
St Ambrose, however, relates this differently, saying that one of the
nails was set in the crown of Constantine, a second was converted into a
bridle-bit for his horse, and the third was retained by Helena. Thus we
see that twelve hundred years ago there was a difference of opinion on
this subject, and how can we tell what has become of the nails since that
time? Now, they boast at Milan that they possess the nail which was in
Constantine’s bridle; this claim is, however, opposed by the town of
Carpentras. St Ambrose does not say that the nail was attached to the
bridle, but that the bit was made from it,—a circumstance which does not
agree with the claims of Milan or Carpentras. There is, moreover, one nail
in the Church of St Helena at Rome, and another in that of the Holy Cross
in the same city; there is a nail at Sienna, and another at Venice.
Germany possesses two, at Cologne and Tréves. In France there is one in
the Holy Chapel at Paris, another in the same city at the church of the
Carmelites, a third is at St Denis, a fourth at Bruges, a fifth at the
abbey of Tenaille in the Saintonge, a sixth at Draguignau, the whole
number making fourteen shown in different towns and countries.(132) Each
place exhibiting these nails produces certain proofs to establish the
genuineness of its relic, but all these claims may be placed on a par as
equally absurd.

Then follows the iron spear with which our Saviour’s side was pierced. It
could be but one, and yet by some extraordinary process it seems to have
been multiplied into four; for there is one at Rome, one at the Holy
Chapel at Paris, one at the abbey of Tenaille in Saintonge, and one at
Selve, near Bourdeaux.

With regard to the crown of thorns, one must believe that the slips of
which it was plaited had been planted, and had produced an abundant
growth, for otherwise it is impossible to understand how it could have
increased so much.

A third part of this crown is preserved at the Holy Chapel at Paris, three
thorns at the Church of the Holy Cross, and a number of them at St
Eustache in the same city; there are a good many of the thorns at Sienna,
one at Vicenza, four at Bourges, three at Besançon, three at Port Royal,
and I do not know how many at Salvatierra in Spain, two at St James of
Compostella, three at Albi, and one at least in the following
places:—Toulouse, Macon, Charroux in Poitiers; at Cleri, St Flour, St
Maximim in Provence, in the abbey of La Salle at St Martin of Noyon,
&c.(133)

It must be observed, that the early church has made no mention of this
crown, consequently the root that produced all these relics must have
grown a long time after the passion of our Lord. With regard to the coat,
woven throughout without a seam, for which the soldiers at the cross cast
lots, there is one to be seen at Argenteuil near Paris, and another at
Tréves in Germany.

It is now time to treat of the “_sudary_,” about which relic they have
displayed their folly even more than in the affair of the holy coat; for
besides the sudary of Veronica, which is shown in the Church of St Peter
at Rome, it is the boast of several towns that they each possess one, as
for instance Carcassone, Nice, Aix-la-Chapelle, Tréves, Besançon, without
reckoning the _fragments_ to be seen in various places.(134)

Now, I ask whether those persons were not bereft of their senses who could
take long pilgrimages, at much expense and fatigue, in order to see
sheets, of the reality of which there were no reasons to believe, but many
to doubt; for whoever admitted the reality of one of these sudaries shown
in so many places, must have considered the rest as wicked impostures set
up to deceive the public by the pretence that they were each the real
sheet in which Christ’s body had been wrapped. But it is not only that the
exhibitors of this one and the same relic give each other mutually the
lie, they are (what is far more important) positively contradicted by the
Gospel. The evangelists who speak of all the women who followed our Lord
to the place of crucifixion, make not the least mention of that Veronica
who wiped his face with a kerchief. It was in truth a most marvellous and
remarkable event, worthy of being recorded, that the face of Jesus Christ
was then miraculously imprinted upon the cloth, a much more important
thing to mention than the mere circumstance that certain women had
followed Jesus Christ to the place of crucifixion without meeting with any
miracle; and, indeed, had such a miracle taken place, we might consider
the evangelists wanting in judgment in not relating the most important
facts.

The same observations are applicable to the tale of the sheet in which the
body of our Lord was wrapped. How is it possible that those sacred
historians, who carefully related all the miracles that took place at
Christ’s death, should have omitted to mention one so remarkable as the
likeness of the body of our Lord remaining on its wrapping sheet? This
fact undoubtedly deserved to be recorded. St John, in his Gospel, relates
even how St Peter, having entered the sepulchre, saw the linen clothes
lying on one side, and the napkin that was about his head on the other;
but he does not say that there was a miraculous impression of our Lord’s
figure upon these clothes, and it is not to be imagined that he would have
omitted to mention such a work of God if there had been any thing of this
kind. Another point to be observed is, that the evangelists do not mention
that either of the disciples or the faithful women who came to the
sepulchre had removed the clothes in question, but, on the contrary, their
account seems to imply that they were left there. Now, the sepulchre was
guarded by soldiers, and consequently the clothes were in their power. Is
it possible that they would have permitted the disciples to take them away
as relics, since these very men had been bribed by the Pharisees to
perjure themselves by saying that the disciples had stolen the body of our
Lord? I shall conclude with a convincing proof of the audacity of the
Papists. Wherever the holy sudary is exhibited, they show a large sheet
with the full-length likeness of a human body on it. Now, St John’s
Gospel, chapter nineteenth, says that Christ was buried according to the
manner of the Jews; and what was their custom? This may be known by their
present custom on such occasions, as well as from their books, which
describe the ancient ceremony of interment, which was to wrap the body in
a sheet, to the shoulders, and to cover the head with a separate cloth.
This is precisely how the evangelist described it, saying, that St Peter
saw on one side the clothes with which the body had been wrapped, and on
the other the napkin from about his head. In short, either St John is a
liar, or all those who boast of possessing the holy sudary are convicted
of falsehood and deceit.(135)

In the Church of St John of the Lateran at Rome, they show the reed which
the soldiers, mocking Christ in the house of Pilate, placed in his hand,
and with which they afterwards smote him on the head. In the Church of the
Holy Cross at Rome they show the sponge which was filled with vinegar, and
given him to drink during his passion. Now, I would ask, how were these
things obtained? They must have been formerly in the hands of infidels.
Could they have delivered them up to the apostles to be made relics of? or
did they preserve them themselves for future times?

What a sacrilege to make use of the name of Jesus Christ in order to
invent such absurd fables!

And what can we think of the pieces of silver received by Judas for
betraying our Saviour? The Gospel says that he returned this money to the
chief priests, who bought with it the potter’s field for a burial-place
for strangers.

By what means were these pieces of silver obtained from the seller of that
field? It would be too absurd to maintain that this was done by the
disciples of Jesus Christ; and if we are told that they were found a long
time afterwards, it will be still less probable, as this money must have
passed through many hands. It is therefore necessary to prove, that either
the person who sold his field did so for the purpose of obtaining the
silver pieces in order to make relics of them; or that he afterwards sold
them to the faithful. Nothing of this kind has ever been mentioned by the
primitive church.(136) To the same class of impositions belong the steps
of Pilate’s tribunal, which are exhibited in the Church of St John of the
Lateran, as well as the column to which Christ was fastened during the
flagellation, shown in the Church of St Prasedo in the same city, besides
two other pillars, round which he was conducted on his way to Calvary.
From whence these columns were taken it is impossible to conjecture. I
only know that the Gospel, in relating that Jesus Christ was scourged,
does not mention that he was fastened to a column or post. It really
appears as if these impostors had no other aim than to promulgate the most
fallacious statements, and, indeed, they carried this to such a degree of
extravagance, that they were not ashamed to make a relic of the tail of
the ass upon which our Lord entered into Jerusalem, which they show at
Genoa.(137) One really cannot tell which is most wonderful,—the folly and
credulity of those who devoutly receive such mockeries, or the boldness of
those who put them forth.

It may be said that it is not likely all these relics should be preserved
without some sort of correct history being kept of them. To this I reply
that such evident falsehoods can never bear the slightest resemblance to
truth, how much soever their claims may be supported by the names of
Constantine, Louis IX., or of some popes; for they will never be able to
prove that Christ was crucified with fourteen nails, or that a whole hedge
was used to plait his crown of thorns,—that the iron of the spear with
which his side was pierced had given birth to three other similar pieces
of iron,—that his coat was multiplied threefold,—and that from his single
sudarium a number of others have issued, or that Jesus Christ was buried
in a manner different from that described in the Gospels.

Now, if I were to show a piece of lead, saying, “This piece of gold was
given me by a certain prince,” I should be considered a madman, and my
words would not transmute the lead into gold.

Thus it is precisely when people say, “This thing was sent over by Godfrey
de Bouillon after his conquest of Judea.” Our reason shows us that this is
an evident lie. Are we then to be so much imposed upon by words as to
resist the evidence of our senses?

Moreover, in order to show how much reliance may be placed on the
statements which are given about these relics, we must remark that those
considered the principal and most authentic at Rome have been, according
to those accounts, brought thither by Vespasian and Titus. Now, this is
such a clumsy fabrication,—they might just as well tell us that the Turks
went to Jerusalem in order to carry off the true cross to Constantinople!

Vespasian conquered and ravaged a part of Judea before he was elected
emperor, and his son Titus completed that conquest by the capture and
destruction of Jerusalem. They were both Pagans, and had no more regard
for Christ than if he had never existed on earth. Consequently to maintain
that Vespasian and Titus carried off the above-mentioned relics to Rome,
is even a more flagrant falsehood than the stories about Godfrey of
Bouillon and St Louis.

Moreover, it is well known that the times of St Louis were very
superstitious. That monarch would have accepted as a relic, and
worshipped, any thing that was represented to him as having belonged to
the Holy Virgin; and, indeed, King Louis and other crusaders sacrificed
their bodies and their goods, as well as a great portion of their
country’s substance, merely to bring back with them heaps of foolish
trifles, having been taught to consider them as the most precious jewels
of the world.

It must be here mentioned, that in Greece, Asia Minor, and other eastern
countries, people show, with full assurance, counterpart old rubbish,
which those poor idolaters imagine they possess in their own country. How
are we to judge between the two contending parties? One party says that
these relics were brought from the East; but the Christians now inhabiting
those lands maintain that the same relics are still in their possession,
and they laugh at our pretensions. How can it be decided betwixt right and
wrong without an inquiry, which will never take place? Methinks the best
plan is to let the dispute rest as it is, without caring for either side
of the question.

The last relics pertaining to Jesus Christ are those which relate to the
time after his resurrection,—as, for instance, a piece of broiled fish
which St Peter presented to him on the sea-shore. This fish must have been
strongly spiced, and prepared in some extraordinary manner, to be
preserved for so long a period. But, seriously, is it likely that the
apostles would have made a relic of a portion of the fish which they had
prepared for their dinner? Indeed, I think that whoever will not perceive
this to be an open mockery of God, deserves not to be reasoned with.

There is also the miraculous blood which has flowed from several
hosts,—as, for instance, in the Churches of St Jean-en-Greve at Paris, at
St Jean d’Angeli at Dijon, and in many other places. They show even the
penknife with which the host at Paris was pierced by a Jew, and which the
poor Parisians hold in as much reverence as the host itself. For this they
were well blamed by a Roman Catholic priest, who declared them to be worse
than the Jews, for worshipping the knife with which the precious body of
Christ was pierced. I think we may apply this observation to the nails,
the spear, and the thorns; and consequently those who worship those
instruments used at our Lord’s crucifixion are more wicked than the Jews
who employed them for that purpose.

There are many other relics belonging to this period of our Lord’s
history, but it would be tedious to enumerate them all. We shall therefore
pass them over, and say a few words respecting his images,—not the common
ones made by painters and carvers, but those considered as actual relics,
and held in particular veneration. Some of these images are believed to
have been made in a miraculous manner, like those shown at Rome in the
Church of the blessed Virgin, in Portici, at St John of the Lateran, at
Lucca, and other places, and which they pretend were painted by angels. I
think it would be ridiculous to undertake a serious refutation of these
absurdities, the profession of angels not being that of painters, and our
Lord Jesus Christ desired to be known and remembered otherwise than by
carnal images.

Eusebius, it is true, relates, in his Ecclesiastical History, that our
Lord sent the likeness of his face to King Abgarus;(138) but the
authenticity of this account has no better proof than that of a fairy
tale; yet, supposing it were true, how came this likeness to be found at
Rome (out of Abgarus’ possession), where people boast to have it now?
Eusebius does not mention where it was in his time, but he merely relates
the story as having happened a long time before he wrote; we must
therefore suppose that this image reappeared after a lapse of many
centuries, and came from Edessa to Rome.

They have forged not only images of Christ’s body, but also copies of the
cross. Thus they pretend at Brescia to have the identical cross which
appeared to the Emperor Constantine. This claim is, however, stoutly
opposed by the town of Constance, whose inhabitants maintain that the
above-mentioned cross is preserved in their town, and not at Brescia.

But let us leave the contending parties to settle this point between
themselves, though it would be easy enough to show the absurdity of their
pretensions, because the cross which, according to some writers, appeared
to Constantine, was not a material cross, but simply a vision.

There are several carved images, as well as paintings, of Jesus Christ to
which many miracles are attributed. Thus the beard grows on the crucifixes
of Salvatierra and Orange, and other images are said to shed tears. These
things are too absurd for serious refutation, and yet the deluded world is
so infatuated that the majority put as much faith in these as in the
Gospels.

_The Blessed Virgin._—The belief that the body of the Virgin was not
interred on earth, but was taken to heaven, has deprived them of all
pretext for manufacturing any relics of her remains, which otherwise might
have been sufficiently abundant to fill a whole churchyard;(139) yet in
order to have at least something belonging to her, they sought to
indemnify themselves for the absence of other relics with the possession
of her hair and her milk. The hair is shown in several churches at Rome,
and at Salvatierra in Spain, at Maçon, St Flour, Cluny, Nevers, and in
many other towns. With regard to the milk, there is not perhaps a town, a
convent, or nunnery, where it is not shown in large or small quantities.
Indeed, had the Virgin been a wet-nurse her whole life, or a dairy, she
could not have produced more than is shown as hers in various parts.(140)
How they obtained all this milk they do not say, and it is superfluous
here to remark that there is no foundation in the Gospels for these
foolish and blasphemous extravagances.

The Virgin’s wardrobe has produced an abundant store of relics. There is a
shirt of hers at Chartres, which has been fully celebrated as an idol, and
there is another at Aix-la-Chapelle.

I do not know how these things could have been obtained, for it is certain
that the Apostles and first Christians were not such triflers as to amuse
themselves in this way. It is, however, sufficient for us to consider the
shape of these articles of dress, in order clearly to see the impudence of
their exhibitors. The shirt at Aix-la-Chapelle is a long clerical
surplice, shown hanging to a pole, and if the Blessed Virgin had been a
giantess, she would still have felt much inconvenience in wearing so large
a garment.

In the same church they preserve the shoes of St Joseph, which could only
fit the foot of a little child or a dwarf. The proverb says that liars
need good memories, so as not to contradict their own sayings. This rule
was not followed out at Aix-la-Chapelle, otherwise care would have been
taken to maintain a better proportion of size between the shoes of the
husband and the shirt of the wife. And yet these relics, so devoid of all
appearance of truth, are devoutly kissed and venerated by crowds!

I know of only two of her head-dresses; one is at the abbey of St Maximian
at Treves, and the other is at Lisio in Italy. They may be considered
quite as genuine as the Virgin’s girdle at Prato and at Montserrat, as her
slipper at St Jaqueme, and as her shoe at St Flour.

Now, those who are at all conversant with this subject well know that it
was not the custom of the primitive church to collect shoes and stockings,
&c., for relics, and also that for five hundred years after the death of
the Virgin Mary there was never any talk of such things. It really seems
as if these well-known facts would be sufficient to prove the absurdity of
all these relics of the Virgin; but her worshippers, not merely satisfied
with the articles I have just enumerated, endeavour to ascribe to her a
love of dress and finery. A comb of hers is shown in the church of St
Martin at Rome, and another in that of St Jean-le-Grand at Besançon,
besides others that may be shown elsewhere. Now, if this be not a mockery
of the Virgin, I do not know what that word implies. They have not
forgotten her wedding-ring, which is shown at Perusa.

As it is now the custom for a husband to present his bride with a ring at
the marriage ceremony, they imagined it to be so in the time of the
Virgin, and in her country, consequently, they show a splendid ring as the
one used at her wedding, forgetting the state of poverty in which she
lived.

Rome possesses four of her gowns, in the churches of St John of the
Lateran, St Barbara, St Maria _supra Minervam_, and St Blasius; whilst at
Salvatierra they boast of having fragments of a gown belonging to her.

I have forgotten the names of other towns where similar relics are
shown.(141)

It is sufficient to examine the materials of these vestments in order to
see the falsehood of their claims, for their exhibitors give to the Virgin
the same sort of robes with which they dress up her images.

It remains now to speak of her images—not of the common ones, of which
there are so many everywhere, but of those which are distinguished from
the rest by some particular claims. Thus at Rome there are four, which
they pretend were painted by St Luke the evangelist. The principal one is
in the church of St Augustine, which they say St Luke had painted for his
own use; he always carried it about his person, and it was buried with
him. Now, is it not a downright blasphemy to turn thus a holy evangelist
into a perfect idolater? And what reason had they for believing that St
Luke was a painter? St Paul calls him a physician. I do not know from
whence they obtained this notion; but supposing it was so, is it possible
to admit that he would have painted the Virgin for the same purpose as the
Pagans did a Jupiter, a Venus, or any other idol?

It was not the custom of the primitive Christians to have images, and it
only became so a long while afterwards, when the Church was corrupted by
superstition. Moreover, the whole world is filled with representations of
the Blessed Virgin, which are said to have been painted by the same
evangelist.(142)

I shall not say any thing about St Joseph, whose shoes at Aix-la-Chapelle
I have already mentioned, and whose other similar relics are preserved in
many places.(143)

ST MICHAEL.

It may be supposed that I am joking when I speak of the _relics of an
angel_, considering how absurd and ridiculous it is to do so, yet,
although the hypocrites certainly know this well, they have made use of
the name of St Michael to delude the ignorant and foolish; for they show
at Carcassone his falchion, which looks like a child’s dagger, and his
shield, which is no larger than the knob of a bridle. Is it possible for
man or woman to exist who can believe such mockery?(144) It is indeed a
blasphemy, under a garb of devotion, against God and his angels. The
exhibitors of the above-mentioned relics endeavour to support their
imposture by the testimony of Scripture that the archangel Michael
combated with Satan; but if he was conquered by the sword, it would at
least have been one of a different size and calibre than the toy to which
I have alluded. People must, however, be very silly to believe that the
war waged by angels and the faithful against the devil is a carnal
encounter, fought with material weapons. But as I said before, at the
commencement of this treatise, the world has rightly deserved to be led
astray into such absurdities, for having lusted after idols, and
worshipped them instead of the living God.

ST JOHN THE BAPTIST.

Proceeding in due order, we must now treat of St John the Baptist, who,
according to the evangelical history—_i.e._, God’s Word of Truth—was,
after being beheaded, buried by his disciples. Theodoret, the eminent
chronicler of the Church, relates that his grave was at Sebaste, a town in
Syria, and that some time after his burial the grave was opened by the
Pagans, who burnt his bones and scattered their ashes in the air. Eusebius
adds, however, that some men from Jerusalem, who were present on the
occasion, secretly took a little of these ashes and carried them to
Antioch, where they were buried in a wall by Athanasius.

With regard to his head, Sosomen, another chronicler, relates that it was
carried to Constantinople by the Emperor Theodosius; therefore, according
to these ancient historians, the whole body of John the Baptist was burnt
with the exception of his head, and the ashes were all lost excepting the
small portion secretly taken away by the hermits of Jerusalem. Now, let us
see what remains of the head are extant.

The face is shown at Amiens, and the mask which is there exhibited has a
mark above the eye, caused, they say, by the thrust of a knife, made by
Herodias. Amiens’ claim to this relic is, however, disputed by the
inhabitants of St John d’Angeli, who show another face of St John.

With regard to the rest of the head, its top, from the forehead to the
back part, was at Rhodes, and I suppose must now be at Malta, at least the
knights boast that the Turks had restored it to them. The back of the head
is at St John’s Church at Nemours, the brains at Nogent le Rotrou, a part
of the head is at St Jean Maximin, a jaw is at Besançon, a portion of a
jaw is at St John of the Lateran, and a part of the ear at St Flour in
Auvergne. All this does not prevent Salvatierra from possessing the
forehead and hair; at Noyon they have a lock of the hair, which is
considered to be very authentic, as well as that at Lucca, and many other
places.

Yet in order to complete this collection, we must go to the monastery of
St Sylvester at Rome, where the whole and real head of St John the Baptist
will be shown to us.

Poets tell us a legend about a king of Spain who had three heads; if our
manufacturers of relics could say the same of St John the Baptist, it
would greatly assist their lies; but as such a fable does not exist, how
are they to get out of this dilemma?(145)

I shall not press them too hard by inquiring how could this head be so
divided and distributed, or how have they procured it from Constantinople?
I shall merely observe, that either St John must have been a miracle, or
that those who possess so many parts of his head are a set of the most
audacious cheats.

What is more than this, they boast at Sienna of possessing an arm of that
saint, which is contrary, as we have already said, to the statements of
all the ancient historians; and yet this fraud is not only suffered, but
even approved of, for in the kingdom of Antichrist nothing is too bad
which can serve to keep people in a state of superstition.

Another fable has been invented respecting St John the Baptist. When his
body was burnt, they say that the finger with which he had pointed out our
Lord Jesus Christ had remained whole and uninjured by the fire. Now this
story may easily be refuted by the ancient historians, because Eusebius
and Theodoret distinctly state that the body had already become a skeleton
when the Pagans burnt it; and they certainly would not have omitted the
relation of such a miracle in their histories if there had been any
foundation for it, having been but too eager to narrate such events even
as are quite frivolous. But supposing that this miracle had really taken
place, let us seek where this finger is now to be found. There is one at
Besançon in the Church of St John the Great, a second at Toulouse, a third
at Lyons, a fourth at Florence, and a fifth at St Jean des Aventures, near
Maçon. Now I request my readers to examine this subject, and to judge for
themselves whether they can believe, that whilst St John’s finger, which,
according to their own tradition, is the only remainder of his body, is at
Florence, five other fingers can be found in sundry other places, or, in
short, that six are one, and one is six. I speak, however, only of those
that have come to my knowledge; but I make no doubt, if a careful inquiry
were made, that one might discover half a dozen more of St John’s fingers,
and many pieces of his head, besides those I have enumerated.(146)

There are many relics of another kind shown as having belonged to St John
the Baptist; as, for instance, one of his shoes is preserved in the Church
of the Carthusians at Paris. It was stolen about twelve years ago; but it
was very soon replaced by that sort of miracle never likely to cease so
long as there are shoemakers in the world.

At St John of the Lateran, at Rome, they boast of having his haircloth
mentioned in the Gospels. The Gospel speaks of his raiment of camel’s
hair, but they endeavour to convert it into a horse-hair garment.(147)

They have also at the same church the altar before which he prayed in the
desert, as if altars were in those days erected on every occasion and in
every place. I wonder, indeed, that they have not ascribed to him the
saying of the mass.

At Avignon they show the sword with which he was beheaded, and at
Aix-la-Chapelle the sheet which was spread under him at that time. Is it
not absurd to suppose that the executioner would spread a sheet under one
whom he was about to kill?

But admitting that this should be the case, how have they obtained these
two objects? Is it likely that the man who put him to death, whether a
soldier or executioner, should have given away his sword and the sheet we
have mentioned, in order to be converted into relics?

ST PETER AND ST PAUL.

It is now time to speak of the apostles, and I shall begin with St Peter
and St Paul. Their bodies are at Rome; one part of them in the church of
St Peter, and the other in that of St Paul. We are told that St Sylvester
weighed their bodies in order to divide them into equal parts. Both their
heads are preserved also at Rome in St John of the Lateran. Besides the
two bodies we have just mentioned, many of their bones are to be found
elsewhere, as at Poitiers they have St Peter’s jaw and beard. At Treves
there are several bones of the two apostles. At Argenton in Berri they
have St Paul’s shoulder, and in almost every church dedicated to these
apostles there will be found some of their relics. At the commencement of
this treatise I mentioned that St Peter’s brains, which were shown in this
town (Geneva), were found on examination to be a piece of pumice stone,
and I have no doubt that many of the bones considered to belong to these
two apostles would turn out to be the bones of some animal.

At Salvatierra they have St Peter’s slipper. I do not know what shape it
is, or of what material it is made; but I conclude it to be similar to the
slippers of the same apostle shown at Poitiers, and which are made of
satin embroidered with gold. It would seem as if they had made him thus
smart after his death as a compensation for the poverty which he suffered
during his lifetime. Their bishops look now so showy in their pontificals,
that no doubt it would be thought derogatory to the apostles’ dignity if
they were not dressed out in the same style. They take, therefore, figures
which they gild and ornament all over, and name them as St Peter or St
Paul, forgetting that it is well known what was the condition of these
apostles whilst in this life, and that they wore the raiments of the poor.

They show also at Rome St Peter’s episcopal chair and his chasuble, as if
the bishops of that age had thrones to sit upon. The bishops then were
engaged in teaching, consoling, and exhorting their flocks both in public
and private, setting them an example of true humility, but not teaching
them to set up idols, as is done by those of our day. With regard to his
chasuble, I must say that it was not then the custom to put on disguises,
for farces were not at that time performed in the churches as they are
now. Thus, to prove that St Peter had a chasuble, it is necessary to show
in the first place that he had played the mountebank, as the priests do
now whenever they intend to serve God.

It is, however, no wonder that they have given him a chasuble since they
have assigned an altar to him, there being no more truthful foundation for
the one than for the other. It is well known what kind of mass was said at
that time. The apostles simply celebrated the Lord’s Supper, and this
requires no altar; but as to the celebration of the mass, it was then not
heard of, nor was it practised for a long time afterwards.(148) It is,
therefore, evident that those who invented all these relics never expected
contradiction, or they would not have devised such audacious falsehoods.
The authenticity of St Peter’s altar at Rome (which I have just mentioned)
is denied by Pisa, that town pretending to possess the real one. The least
objectionable of St Peter’s relics is undoubtedly his staff, it being most
probable that he had made use of one during his travels, but unfortunately
there are two of them at Cologne and Treves, each town claiming exclusive
possession of the identical one.(149)

THE OTHER APOSTLES.

We shall speak of the rest of the apostles together, in order to get
quicker over the matter, and we will relate, in the first place, where
their whole bodies are to be found, that our readers, by comparison, may
be able to form their own opinions on the subject. All know that the town
of Toulouse boasts of possessing the bodies of six, namely, St James the
Major (brother of St John), St Andrew, St James the Minor, St Philip, St
Simeon, and St Jude. At Padua they have the body of St Matthias, at
Salerno that of St Matthew, at Orconna that of St Thomas, in the kingdom
of Naples that of St Bartholomew.

Now, let us reckon up those apostles who possess two or three bodies. St
Andrew has a duplicate at Amalfi, St Philip and St James the Minor both
have duplicates at Rome, _ad sanctos Apostolos_, St Simeon and St Jude the
same in St Peter’s Church. St Bartholomew enjoys an equal privilege at
Rome, in the church bearing his name. Here we have enumerated six of them,
each provided with two bodies, and St Bartholomew has an additional skin
into the bargain, which is shown at Pisa.(150) St Matthew, however,
outrivals them all, for besides the body at Padua, which we have before
mentioned, he has another at Rome in the church of St Maria Maggiore, a
third at Treves, and an additional arm at Rome.(151)

It is true that the bits and scraps of St Andrew’s body, scattered in
various places, counterbalance, in some measure, the superiority of St
Matthias; for he has at Rome, in St Peter’s Church, a head, and a shoulder
in that of St Chrysostom, an arm at St Esprit, a rib at St Eustache, I do
not know how many bones at St Blaise, and a foot at Aix in Provence.

Now, as St Bartholomew has left his skin at Pisa, so he has left there a
hand; at Treves he has also some bones, of which I forget the number; at
Frejus a finger, and at Rome there are other of his bones; so that, after
all, he is not the poorest of the apostles, others not having such a
number of relics. St Matthew and St Thomas are the poorest of all. The
first has only, besides his body at Salerno, which we have mentioned, some
bones at Treves, an arm in the church of St Maria at Rome, and in that of
St Nicolas his head; though it may be that other of his relics may have
escaped my knowledge, which would be no wonder, for who is not confused
with this ocean of impostures?(152)

As they pretend, in their tales, that the body of St John the Evangelist
disappeared immediately after it was deposited in the grave, so they
cannot produce any of his bones, and they therefore sought for a
compensation amongst his clothing, &c. Thus they show at Bologna the cup
from which he was forced to drink poison by order of the Emperor Domitian.
Probably owing to some wonderful process of alchemy, the same cup exists
also in the church of St John of the Lateran at Rome.

They have also his coat, and the chain with which he was bound when
brought from Ephesus to Rome, as well as the oratory at which he used to
pray when in prison.(153)

ST ANNA.

We must now hurry on, or we shall never quit this labyrinth. We will,
therefore, only briefly mention the relics of those saints who were our
Lord’s contemporaries, and then proceed to those of the martyrs, &c.,
leaving our readers to form their own conclusions from these brief
sketches.

St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, has a whole body at Apt in
Provence, and another at Notre Dame de l’Isle at Lyons. She has a head at
Treves also, a second at Duren near Cologne, and a third at a town called
after her name in Thuringhia. I shall not speak of her other relics shown
in more than a hundred different places. I remember that I myself kissed
one of her relics, kept at the abbey of Orcamps near Noyon, on the
occasion of a grand festival held in its honour.

LAZARUS, MARY MAGDALENE, ETC.

Lazarus has, to my knowledge, three bodies, at Marseilles, Autun, and
Avalon. A protracted lawsuit took place between the two last-named towns
concerning the validity of their respective claims to the possession of
the real body of this saint. Yet after an immense expense, both parties
may be said to have gained their suit, for neither forfeited its title to
ownership. With regard to Mary Magdalene, she owns but two bodies, one at
Auxerre, and another of very great celebrity, with its head detached, at
St Maximin, in Provence.

Of their numerous relics scattered over the world I shall not speak. I
would merely inquire whether Lazarus and his sisters ever went to preach
in France; for those who have read the accounts given by ancient
historians of those times cannot fail to be convinced of the folly of this
fable.(154)

ST LONGINUS, AND THE THREE WISE MEN, OR KINGS.

The individual who pierced the side of our Lord on the cross has been
canonised under the name of St Longinus, and after having thus baptized
him, they have bestowed upon him two bodies, one of which is at Mantua,
and the other at Notre Dame de l’Isle at Lyons.(155)

The same has been done with the wise men who came to worship our Lord at
the nativity. In the first place they settled their number, telling us
that there were three. Now the Gospel does not mention how many were
present, and some eminent ecclesiastical writers have maintained their
number to have been fourteen, as mentioned for instance in that imperfect
commentary on St Matthew which is ascribed to Chrysostom.

Moreover, the _Gospel_ calls them _wise men_, but they have elevated them
to the dignity of kings, without bestowing on them, however, either
kingdoms or subjects. Finally, they have been baptized under the names of
Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar. Now, supposing we concede to them these
fables, frivolous as they are, it is certain that the wise men returned to
the east, for the Gospel informs us of this, and we may conclude that they
died in their native land, there being no reason for thinking otherwise.
Now, who transferred their bodies to the west, for the purpose of
preserving them as relics? It would be quite ridiculous, however, for me
to attempt seriously to refute such a palpable imposture. Let Cologne and
Milan, both of which towns pretend to possess relics of these _wise men_,
or _kings_, decide this question between themselves.(156)

ST DIONYSIUS.

St Dionysius is considered to be one of the most celebrated of ancient
martyrs, as a disciple of the apostles, and as the Evangelist of France.
Occupying such high rank, it is therefore very natural that his relics
should be so liberally dispersed; his whole bodies are, however, only
preserved at the Abbey of St Dénis in France, and at Ratisbon in Germany.
About a century ago Ratisbon instituted a lawsuit at Rome to prove that
the body in its possession was truly that of the saint, and the justice of
the claim was established by a decision of the Papal Court, delivered in
the presence of the French Ambassador. And yet, any one so bold as to dare
to assert at St Dénis that theirs was not the real body would run the risk
of being stoned for blasphemy; whilst those who oppose the claim of
Ratisbon are considered as heretics, rebellious to the decision of the
Holy See.(157)

ST STEPHEN.

The whole body of St Stephen is at Rome, his head is at Arles, and his
bones are in more than three hundred places; and the Papists, as if to
show themselves to be the partisans of those who murdered him, have
canonized the stones with which he was killed.

It may be asked how these stones were obtained, but to my mind this would
be a foolish question, as stones may be picked up anywhere, without
incurring any trouble or expense in their transport. These stones are
shown at Florence, at the convent of the Augustine monks at Arles, and at
Vigan in Languedoc, &c.

Whoever will close his eyes and allow his understanding to be set aside,
may believe that these are the identical stones with which St Stephen
suffered martyrdom, but whoever will exert his reason a little cannot but
laugh at this imposition. The Carmelite monks of Poitiers discovered some
of these stones only fourteen years ago, to which they ascribed the virtue
of assisting women in the pains of travail; but the Dominican monks, from
whom a rib of St Margarita which possessed the same virtue had been
stolen, were very indignant, and raised a great outcry at the deception
practised by the Carmelites, but the latter gained the body by firmly
maintaining their rights.

THE HOLY INNOCENTS.

It was not at first my intention to mention the Holy Innocents, for if I
were to enumerate a whole army of their relics, it might always be said to
me in reply that history is not contradicted by that, as their number has
never been mentioned to us. I shall not dwell, therefore, upon their
multitude, merely observing that they are to be found in every part of the
world. I would ask, however, how it came to pass that their graves were
discovered so long after their massacre, since they were not considered as
saints when their murder by Herod took place? And then, how were these
numerous bodies conveyed to the many places where they are now to be seen?
To these questions but one answer can be given—“All this occurred five or
six hundred years after their death.” How can any but idiots believe such
things?

But supposing even that some of their bodies had really been discovered,
how came so large a number of them to be transported to France, Italy, and
Germany, and to be distributed amongst so many towns situated so far
apart? This can only be a _wholesale_ deception.

ST GERVASIUS AND ST PROTASIUS.

The sepulchres of these two saints were discovered at Milan in the time of
St Ambrose, as testified by him. This fact is confirmed also by the
evidence of St Jerome, St Augustine, and several others; consequently
Milan maintains its possession of the real bodies of these saints.
Nevertheless, they are likewise to be seen at Brissach in Germany, and in
the Church of St Peter at Besançon, besides an immense number of different
parts of their bodies scattered throughout the land, so that each of them
must have had at least four bodies.

ST SEBASTIAN.

This saint, from the wonderful power his remains possessed of curing the
plague, was put into requisition and more sought after than many of his
brother saints, and no doubt this popularity was the cause of his body
being quadrupled. One body is in the church of St Lawrence at Rome; a
second is at Soissons; the third at Piligny, near Nantes, and the fourth
at his birth-place, near Narbonne. Besides these, he has two heads at St
Peter’s at Rome, and at the Dominican church at Toulouse. The heads are,
however, empty, if we are to believe the Franciscan monks of Angers, as
they pretend to possess the saint’s brains. The Dominicans of Angers
possess one of his arms, another is at St Sternin, at Toulouse, a third at
Case Dieu in Auvergne, and a fourth at Montbrisson. We will pass over the
small fragments of his body, which may be seen in so many churches. They
did not rest satisfied with this multiplication of his body and separate
limbs, but they converted into relics the arrows with which he was killed.
One of these is shown at Lambesc in Provence, another is in the Augustine
convent at Poitiers, and there are many others in different towns.

ST ANTHONY.

A similar reason has bestowed on St Anthony the advantage of
multiplication of his remains, he being considered as an irrascible saint,
burning up all those who incur his displeasure; and this belief caused him
to be dreaded and reverenced. Fear creating devotion, and producing also a
universal desire to possess his relics, on account of the profits and
advantages to be derived therefrom, Arles therefore had a long and severe
contest with Vienne (in France) respecting the validity of the bodies of
this saint possessed by each of these towns.

The issue was the same as in other similar disputes, _i.e._, matters
remained in the same state of confusion as before; for if the truth had
been established, both parties would have lost their cause.

Besides these two bodies, St Anthony has a knee in the Church of the
Augustines at Albi, and several other limbs at Bourg, Maçon, Ouroux,
Chalons, Besançon, &c.

Such are the advantages of being an object of dread and fear, otherwise
this saint might possibly have been permitted to remain quietly in his
grave.(158)

ST PETRONILLA—ST HELENA—ST URSULA—AND THE ELEVEN THOUSAND VIRGINS.

I must not forget to mention St Petronilla, St Peter’s daughter, who has a
whole body at Rome, in the church dedicated to her father, besides other
relics in that of St Barbara. This does not, however, prevent her from
owning another body in the Dominican convent at Mans, which is greatly
venerated for the virtue it possesses of curing fevers. St Helena has not
been so liberally provided for. Besides her body at Venice, she has but an
extra head in the Church of St Gereon at Cologne.(159) St Ursula beats her
hollow in this respect; for she has a whole body at St Jean d’Angely, and
a head into the bargain at Cologne, besides three separate limbs, and
various fragments at Mans, Tours, and Bergerat. The companions of this
saint are called _the eleven thousand virgins_, and although this is a
respectable number, yet it is still too small, considering that the
remains of these virgins are to be seen everywhere; for besides there
being about one hundred cart-loads of their bones at Cologne, there is
hardly a town where one or more churches have not some relics of these
numerous saints.(160)

If I was to enumerate all the minor saints I should enter a labyrinth
without possibility of egress. I shall, therefore, rest satisfied with
giving a few examples, leaving my readers to judge from these of the rest.
For instance, there are two churches at Poitiers, one attached to the
convent of Selle, and the other dedicated to the saint in question,
between which a great dispute has been going on as to the possession of
the real body of St Hilarion.

The lawsuit upon this point has been suspended for an indefinite time, and
meanwhile the idolaters worship two bodies of one and the same individual.

St Honoratus has a body at Arles, and another at the island of Lerins,
near Antibes.

St Giles has a body at Toulouse, and a second in a town bearing his name
in Languedoc.

I could quote an infinite number of similar cases. I think that the
exhibitors of these relics should at least have made some arrangement
amongst themselves the better to conceal their barefaced impostures.
Something of this sort was managed between the canons of Trêves and those
of Liége about St Lambert’s head. They compounded, for a sum of money, not
to show publicly the head in their possession, in order to avoid the
natural surprise of the public at the same relic being seen in two
different towns situated so near to each other. But, as I have already
remarked at the commencement of this treatise, the inventors of these
frauds never imagined any one could be found bold enough to speak out and
expose their deceptions.

It may be asked, how it came to pass that these manufacturers of relics,
having collected and forged without any reason all that their imaginations
could fancy in any way, could have omitted subjects pertaining to the Old
Testament?

The only reply I can give to this query is, that they looked with contempt
on those subjects, from which they did not anticipate any considerable
gain.

Still they have not entirely despised them, for they pretend to have the
bones of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the church of _St Maria supra
Minervam_, at Rome. They also boast of possessing, at St John of the
Lateran, the ark of alliance, with Aaron’s rod, though the same rod is
also at the Holy Chapel in Paris, whilst some pieces of it are preserved
at Salvatierra. Moreover, at Bordeaux they maintain that St Martial’s rod,
which is exhibited in the church of St Severin, is no other than that of
Aaron. It seems, indeed, that they would wish with this rod to perform
another miracle; formerly it was turned into a serpent, whereas now they
would convert it into three different rods! It is very likely that they
may have other relics of objects mentioned in the Old Testament, but the
few we have here alluded to show that they have treated them much in the
same style as those belonging to Christian times.

I now beg to remind my readers of what I mentioned at the beginning of
this work, that I have had no commissioners for visiting the numerous
churches of the different countries enumerated by me, nor must my
description be taken for a register or inventory of all that can be
discovered respecting relics. I have mentioned about half-a-dozen towns in
Germany, but three in Spain I think, about fifteen in Italy, and between
thirty and forty in France, and even of these few examples I have not
related all that I might concerning them. Now, let us only imagine what a
mass might be raised out of all the relics which are to be seen in
Christendom, if they were collected and arranged together in proper order.
I speak, however, only of those countries which we know and frequent; for
it is most important to observe that all the relics belonging to Christ
and the apostles which are displayed in the west are also to be seen in
Greece, Asia, and all other countries where Christian Churches are in
existence. Now, what are we to say when the Eastern Christians assert
their claims?

If we contradict them, alleging on our part that the body of such a saint
was brought to Europe by merchants, that of another by monks, that of a
third by a bishop, that a part of the crown of thorns was sent to a king
of France by an emperor of Constantinople, and another part was carried
off in time of war, and so on of every object of the kind, they would
shake their heads, and laugh at us! How are such differences to be
settled? In every doubtful case we can only judge by conjecture, and, in
following this out, the adherents of the Eastern Churches are sure of
success, because their claims are more probable than those of their
opponents. It is indeed a difficult point for the defenders of relics to
settle.

Finally, I beseech and exhort, in the name of God, all my readers to
listen to the truth now clearly displayed before them, and to believe
that, by God’s especial providence, those who have endeavoured thus to
lead mankind astray have been rendered so blind and careless as to neglect
a proper concealment of their deceptions, but that, like Midianites having
their eyes put out, they run one against another, for we all know that
they quarrel amongst themselves, and mutually injure each other. Whoever
is not wilfully prejudiced against all reason must certainly be convinced
that the worship of relics, whether true or false, is an abominable
idolatry; yet should not this even be the case with him, he must
nevertheless perceive the evident imposture, and whatever may have been
his former devotion to relics, he must lose all courage in kissing such
objects, and become entirely disgusted with them.

I repeat what I said at the commencement of this treatise, that it would
be most important to abolish from amongst us Christians this pagan
superstition of canonising relics, either of Christ or of his saints, in
order to make idols of them; for this is a defilement and an impurity
which should never be suffered in the Church. We have already proved that
it is so by arguments, and also from the evidence of Scripture. Let those
who are not yet satisfied look to the practices of the ancient fathers,
and conform to their examples. There are many holy patriarchs, many
prophets, many holy kings, and other saints mentioned in the Old
Testament. God ordained at that time the observance of more ceremonies
than are needed now. Even funerals were performed then with more display
than at present, in order to represent symbolically the glorious
resurrection, especially as it had not then been so clearly revealed by
the Word of God as it is to ourselves.

Do we ever read in that book that these saints were taken from their
sepulchres as idols? Was Abraham, the father of the faithful, ever thus
raised? Was Sarah ever removed from her grave? Were they not left in
peace, with the remains of all other saints? But what is more conclusive,
was not the body of Moses concealed by God’s will, in such a manner that
it never has been or can be discovered? Has not the devil contended
concerning it with the angels, as St Jude says? Now, what was our Lord’s
reason for removing that body from the sight of men, and why should the
devil desire to have it exhibited to them? It is generally admitted that
God wished to put away from his people of Israel all temptation to commit
idolatry, and that Satan desired its introduction amongst them.

It may be said, however, that the Israelites were inclined to
superstition. I ask, how stands the case now with ourselves? Is there not,
without comparison, more perversity in this respect amongst Christians
than there ever was amongst the Jews of old?

Let us call to mind the practice of the early church. It is true that the
first Christians were always anxious to get possession of the bodies of
the martyrs, lest they might be devoured by beasts or birds of prey, and
decently to bury them, as we read was the case with the bodies of St John
the Baptist and St Stephen. This solicitude was shown, however, in order
to inter them in their graves, and there to leave them until the day of
the resurrection; but they did not expose these remains to the sight of
men for their adoration.

The unfortunate custom of canonising saints was not introduced into the
Church until it had become perverted and profaned, partly by the folly and
cupidity of its prelates and pastors, and partly because they were unable
to restrain this innovation, as people were seeking to deceive themselves
by giving their hearts to puerile follies, instead of to the true worship
of God. If we wish, in a direct manner, to correct this abuse, it is
necessary to abolish entirely what has been so badly commenced and
established against all reason. But if it is impossible to arrive at once
at such a clear comprehension of this abuse, let people at least have
their eyes opened to discern what the relics are which are presented for
their adoration.

This is indeed no difficulty for those who will only exercise their
reason, for amongst the numerous evident impostures we have here
mentioned, where may we find one real relic of which we may feel certain
that it is such as is represented?

Moreover, all those that I have enumerated are nothing comparatively to
the remainder yet untold by me. Even whilst this treatise is in the press,
I have been informed of many relics not mentioned in it; and if a general
visitation of all existing relics were possible, a hundredfold more
discoveries would be made.

I remember when I was a little boy what took place in our parish. On the
festival day of St Stephen, the images of the tyrants who stoned him (for
they are thus called by the common people) were adorned as much as that of
the saint himself. Many women, seeing these tyrants thus decked out,
mistook them for the saint’s companions, and offered the homage of candles
to each of them. Mistakes of this kind must frequently happen to the
worshippers of relics, for there is such confusion amongst them that it is
quite impossible to worship the bones of a martyr without danger of
rendering such honours by mistake to the bones of some brigand or thief,
or even to those of a horse, a dog, or a donkey.

And it is equally impossible to adore the ring, the comb, the girdle of
the Virgin Mary, without the risk of adoring instead objects which may
have belonged to some abandoned person.

Now, those who fall into this error must do so willingly, as no one can
from henceforth plead ignorance on the subject as their excuse.(161)



POSTSCRIPT.


The following extract from the _Ecclesiastical Gazette_ of Vienna has been
reproduced in an Extraordinary Supplement of the _Allgemeine Zeitung_, of
Augsburg, for the 11th May 1854. I subjoin a translation of it in a
postscript, as an additional evidence of the persecution to which the
Greek Church united with Rome has been subjected in Russia, and which I
mentioned on page 161 of this work:—


    “Spies appointed for this especial purpose transmitted, in their
    reports to the Government, lists of such individuals as were
    suspected to be Catholics at heart; and if all the exaggerated
    accounts which had been made of the Spanish Inquisition were true,
    they would be thrown into the shade by the proceedings that were
    adopted against the above-mentioned individuals. And indeed it is
    an averred fact, that many of them fell a victim to starvation,
    blows, and other cruel treatment. The Catholic inhabitants of
    Worodzkow were forced with stripes, by the Governor and his
    satellites, to sign a _voluntary_ petition, expressing their
    ardent wish to be received into the pale of the orthodox Russian
    Church. The names of those who could not write were signed by
    others, and whoever showed the slightest manifestation of his
    desire to remain a Catholic, after having performed this
    _voluntary_ act, was treated as one guilty of high treason. The
    same proceedings as at Worodzkow were adopted in a hundred other
    places, whose _voluntary_ petitions were obtained with bloody
    stripes of the knout. The unfortunate petitioners were, in order
    to perform this operation, dragged from their homes, sometimes to
    a distance of 18 or 20 versts (1-½ verst to an English mile), and
    those who steadfastly refused to sign were treated by the Russian
    papas with the utmost cruelty and indignity. They were put into
    irons, barred up in cold prisons without any fire, starved, thrown
    into large tubs filled with an icy and stinking water, and most
    mercilessly beaten, so that many, in order to escape from such
    torments, signed the _voluntary_ petition, with hearts as bleeding
    as their bodies. Many succumbed under these fearful persecutions,
    which were not much inferior to that which the Christians had
    suffered under the reign of Diocletian. The Papa Stratanovich
    extorted the signatures made by the feverishly agitated hands of
    the clerical victims, whilst his lay associate, Waimainich
    Zokalinski, performed the same charitable office to other
    unfortunate individuals. Some of these miserable persons were
    reduced by starvation and every kind of ill-treatment to such a
    condition, that they were almost unconscious of what they did in
    signing the _voluntary_ petitions for the reception into the pale
    of the Russian Church, all of which were obtained by more or less
    similar means.

    “It appears from a great mass of documentary evidence, containing
    the names of localities and persons, that the proselytism of 1841
    was carried out in the following manner:—Military authorities, and
    Russian papas or priests, visited Catholic villages, and having
    called together the Catholic peasantry and landowners of the
    neighbourhood, declared that they must join the Russian Church,
    throwing into prison those who resisted the summons. In the most
    part of cases, a petition for this object was signed by some hired
    wretches in the name of all the community, of whom many often knew
    nothing about this business, but when they behaved as Catholics,
    they were punished, as guilty of high treason.”


The _Allgemeine Zeitung_ states, in giving this extract from the
_Ecclesiastical Gazette_ of Vienna, that this periodical contains many
well-authenticated cases of religious persecution against the Roman
Catholics of Russia; and I have little doubt that if the Protestants of
Western Europe had taken as much pains to ascertain and denounce the
persecution of their brethren in the Baltic provinces of Russia, which I
have mentioned on p. 162, as is done, be it said to their great honour, by
the Roman Catholics, they would find many acts of persecution directed
against the above-mentioned Protestants, as flagrant as those which have
just been described.



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FOOTNOTES


    1 An English translation of this Treatise was published under the
      following title:—“A very profitable Treatise, declarynge what great
      profit might come to all Christendom yf there were a regester made
      of all the saincts’ bodies and other reliques which are as well in
      Italy as in France, Dutchland, Spaine, and other kingdoms and
      conntreys. Translated out of the French into English by J. Wythers,
      London, 1561.” 16mo. I have made my translation from the French
      original, reprinted at Paris in 1822.

    2 It is well known that more than half a million of pilgrims went to
      worship the holy coat of Treves in 1844, and that many wonderful
      stories about the cures effected by that relic were related. Several
      of these stories are not altogether without foundation, because
      there are many cases where imagination affects the human body in
      such a powerful manner as to cause or cure various diseases. It was
      therefore to be expected that individuals suffering from such
      diseases should be at least temporarily relieved from their ailings
      by a strong belief in the miraculous powers of the relic. Cases of
      this kind are always noticed, whilst all those of ineffectual
      pilgrimage are never mentioned.

    3 A translation of this letter was published in the _Allgemeine
      Zeitung_ of Augsburg.

    4 Thus St Anthony of Padua restores, like Mercury, stolen property; St
      Hubert, like Diana, is the patron of sportsmen; St Cosmas, like
      Esculapius, that of physicians, &c. In fact, almost every profession
      and trade, as well as every place, have their especial patron saint,
      who, like the tutelary divinity of the Pagans, receives particular
      honours from his or her _protégés_.

    5 In his Treatise given below.

    6 “Quod legentibus Scriptum, hoc et idiotis, præstat pictura, quia in
      ipsa ignorantes vident quid sequi debeant, in ipsas legunt qui
      litteras nesciunt,” says St Gregory.—_Maury, Essai sur les
      Legendes_, &c., p. 104.

    7 “Quoniam talis memoria quæ imaginibus fovetur, non venit es cordis
      amore, sed ex visionis necessitate.”—_Opus illustrissimi Caroli
      magni contra Synodum pro adorandis imaginibus_, p. 480, (in
      18—1549),—a work of which I shall have an opportunity more amply to
      speak.

    8 See his chapter on the “Ill Effects of Solitude on the
      Imagination”—English translation.

    9 Ibid.

   10 “Fleury Histoire Eccles.,” lib. xxi. chap. 15.

   11 The author of this sketch says himself, in a note, “Yet this
      idolatry is far from having entirely disappeared. Pilgrimages, and a
      devotion to certain images, but particularly to that of the Virgin,
      are still continuing,” &c. This was said in 1843. I wonder what he
      will say now, when this idolatry is reappearing, even in those parts
      of Europe where the Calvinists had, according to his expression,
      struck at its very root.

   12 “Essai sur les Legendes Pieuses du Moyen Age,” par Alfred Maury, pp.
      111, _et seq._

   13 “Chateaubriand Etudes Historiques,” vol. ii. p. 101.

   14 “Histoire de la Destruction du Paganisme dans l’Empire d’Orient,”
      par M. Chastel, Paris, 1850, p. 342 _et seq._

   15 “Histoire de la Destruction du Paganisme en Occident,” par A.
      Beugnot, Member of the French Institute, Paris, 1835, 8vo, 2 vols.

_   16 Translator’s Note._—Was not the introduction of pagan rites into
      the church the indirect way to idolatry alluded to in the text?

_   17 Author’s Note._—The festivals of the martyrs was a very large
      concession made to the old manners, because all that took place
      daring those days was not very edifying.

_   18 Translator’s Note._—I shall give in its proper place a more ample
      account of Vigilantius.

_   19 Author’s Note._—These compromises were temporary, and the church
      revoked them as soon as she believed that she could do it without
      inconvenience. She struggled hard against the calends of January,
      after having for a considerable time suffered these festivities; and
      when she saw that she could not succeed in abolishing them, she
      decided to transport the beginning of the year from the first of
      January to Easter, in order to break the Pagan customs.

_   20 Author’s Note._—“The Saturnalia, and several other festivals, were
      celebrated on the calends of January; Christmas was fixed at the
      same epoch. The Lupercalia, a pretended festival of purification,
      took place during the calends of February; the Christian
      purification (Candlemas) was celebrated on the 2d of February. The
      festival of Augustus, celebrated on the calends of August, was
      replaced by that of St Peter _in vinculis_, established on the 1st
      of that month. The inhabitants of the country, ever anxious about
      the safety of their crops, obstinately retained the celebration of
      the _Ambarvalia_; St Mamert established in the middle of the fifth
      century the _Rogations_, which in their form differ very little from
      the _Ambarvalia_. On comparing the Christian calendar with the Pagan
      one, it is impossible not to be struck by the great concordance
      between the two. Now, can we consider this concordance as the effect
      of chance? It is principally in the usages peculiar only to some
      churches that we may trace the spirit of concessions with which
      Christianity was animated during the first centuries of its
      establishment. Thus, at Catania, where the Pagans were celebrating
      the festival of Ceres after harvest, the church of that place
      consented to delay to that time the festival of the Visitation,
      which is celebrated everywhere else on the 2d July.”—_F. Aprile
      Cronologia Universale di Sicilia_, p. 601. I would recommend to
      those who wish to study this subject the work of _Marangoni_, a very
      interesting work, though its author (whose object was to convince
      the Protestants who attacked the discipline of the Roman Catholic
      Church on account of these concessions) tried to break the evident
      connection which exists between certain Christian and Pagan
      festivals.

_   21 Author’s Note._—“There are at Rome even now several churches which
      had formerly been pagan temples, and thirty-nine of them have been
      built on the foundations of such temples.”—_Marangoni_, pp. 236-268.
      There is no country in Europe where similar examples are not found.
      It is necessary to remark, that all these transformations began at
      the end of the fifth century.

_   22 Author’s Note._—At Rome four churches have pagan names, viz:—_S.
      Maria Sopra Minerva_, _S. Maria Aventina_, _St Lorenzo in Matuta_,
      and _St Stefano del Cacco_. At Sienna, the temple of Quirinus became
      the church of _St Quiricus_.

_   23 Translator’s Note._—And still more to their corruption.

_   24 Translator’s Note._—Christ has said, “Come unto me, all ye that
      labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke
      upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye
      shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden
      is light.”—Matt. xi. 28-30. I would ask the learned author, whether
      these words of our Saviour are not sufficiently mild, tender, and
      consoling, and whether there was any necessity to _consecrate_ some
      new ideas in order to temper their severity?

_   25 Author’s Note._—Amongst a multitude of proofs I shall choose only
      one, in order to show with what facility the worship of Mary swept
      away in its progress the remnants of Paganism which were still
      covering Europe:—Notwithstanding the preaching of St Hilarion,
      Sicily had remained faithful to the ancient worship. After the
      council of Ephesus, we see eight of the finest Pagan temples of that
      island becoming in a very short time churches dedicated to the
      Virgin. These temples were, 1. of Minerva, at Syracuse; 2. of Venus
      and Saturn, at Messina; 3. of Venus Erigone, on the Mount Eryx,
      believed to have been built by Eneas; 4. of Phalaris, at Agrigent;
      5. of Vulcan, near Mount Etna; 6. the Pantheon, at Catania; 7. of
      Ceres, in the same town; 8. the Sepulchre of Stesichorus.—V. _Aprile
      Cronologia Universale di Sicilia_. Similar facts may be found in the
      ecclesiastical annals of every country.

_   26 Translator’s Note._—The time when the church is to accomplish this
      purification has, alas! not yet arrived.

   27 Beugnot, vol. ii., book xii., chap. 1, pp. 261-272.

   28 The opinions of different writers on the number of Christians in the
      Roman empire at the time of Constantine’s conversion greatly varies.
      The valuation of Staudlin (“Universal Geshichte der Christlichen
      Kirche,” p. 41, 1833) at half of its population, and even that of
      Matter (“Histoire de l’Eglise,” t. i. p. 120), who reduces it to the
      fifth, are generally considered as exaggerated. Gibbon thinks that
      it was the twentieth part of the above-mentioned population; and the
      learned French academician. La Bastie (“Memoires de l’Academie des
      Inscripter,” &c.) believes that it was the twelfth. This last
      valuation is approved by Chastel (“Histoire de la Destruction du
      Paganisme en Orient,” 1850, p. 36) as an average number, though it
      was much larger in the East than in the West. The celebrated passage
      of Tertullian’s “Apology,” in the second century, where he
      represents the number of Christians in the Roman empire to be so
      great, that it would have become a desert if they had retired from
      it, is considered by Beugnot (vol. ii. p. 188) as the most
      exaggerated hyperbole which has ever been used by an orator.

_   29 Translator’s Note._—Expression of St Jerome, Op. iv. p. 266. It
      would be curious to know what this father of the church would have
      said of the present Rome.

   30 Beugnot, vol. i., p. 86.

   31 “Ludorum celebrationes, deoram festa sunt.”—Lactantius,
      _Institutiones Divin._, vi., 20, _apud_ Beugnot.

   32 “Adite aras publicas adque delubra, et consuetudinis vestræ
      celebrate solemnia: nec enim prohibemus preteritæ usurpationis
      officia libera luce tractari.”

   33 The _labarum_ was a cross, with the monogram of Christ.

   34 The Græco-Russian church has, however, given him a place in her
      calendar on the 21st May, but only in common with his mother Helena.
      This was done only a considerable time after his death.

   35 Beugnot, upon the authority of Ausonius, vol. i., p. 321.

   36 Thus Symmachus, one of the leaders of the old aristocracy of Rome,
      celebrated for his learning, virtues, and staunch adherence to the
      national polytheism, was invested by Theodosius with the dignity of
      a consul of Rome; the well known Greek orator, Libanius, was created
      prefect of the imperial palace; and Themistius, who had been
      invested with the highest honours under the preceding reigns, was
      created by Theodosius prefect of Constantinople, received in the
      senate, and entrusted for some time with the education of Arcadius.
      These distinguished polytheists never made a secret of their
      religious opinions, but publicly declared them on several occasions.
      Many of Theodosius’ generals were avowed Pagans, but enjoyed no less
      his confidence and favour.

   37 Fallmerayer, “Geschichte der Morea,” vol. i., p. 136.

_   38 Vide supra_, pp. 30-32.

   39 I think that it will not be uninteresting to my readers to know how
      the Roman Catholic Church explains this prohibition, and which may
      be best seen from the following piece of ingenious casuistry, by one
      of her ablest defenders in this country:—“Canon xxxvi. of the
      Provincial Council held in 305, at Eliberis, in Spain, immediately
      refutes the error of Bingham. (Bingham maintained the same opinion
      on the images which is expressed in the text.) The pastors of the
      Spanish church beheld the grievous persecution that Diocletian had
      commenced to wage against the Christian faith, which had for a
      lengthened period enjoyed comparative repose, under the forbearing
      reign of Constantius Cæsar, father of Constantine the Great. They
      assembled to concert precautionary measures, and amongst other
      things, they determined that, in the provinces under their immediate
      jurisdiction, there should be no fixed and immovable picture
      monuments, such as fresco paintings or mosaics, no images of Christ
      whom they adored, nor of the saints whom they venerated, on the
      walls of the churches which had been erected and ornamented during
      the long interval of peace which the Christians had enjoyed.
      ‘Placuit,’ says the council, ‘picturas in ecclesia esse non debere,
      ne quod colitur et adoratur, in parietibus depingatur,’ (Con. Elib.,
      _apud Labbeum_, tom i. p. 972.) This economy was prudent and adapted
      to the exigency of the period. The figures of Christ and of his
      saints were thus protected from the ribaldry and insults of the
      Pagans. But this well-timed prohibition demonstrates, that the use
      of pictures and images had already been introduced into the Spanish
      church.”—_Hierurgia, or Transubstantiation, Invocation of Saints,
      Relics, &c., expounded by D. Rock, D.D._, second edition, p. 374,
      _note_. There can be no doubt that the enactment in question proves
      that images were used at that time amongst the Spanish Christians,
      as a law prohibiting some particular crimes or offences shows that
      they were taking place at the time when it was promulgated; but the
      opinion that the above-mentioned enactment was not a prohibition of
      images, but a precautionary measure in their favour, must be
      supported either by the other canons of the same council, which
      contain nothing confirmatory of this opinion, or by the authority of
      some contemporary writer, and is without such evidence quite
      untenable, and nothing better than a mere sophism, I have given this
      explanation of the Council of Elvira by a Roman Catholic writer as a
      fair specimen of the manner in which all other practices of their
      church, derived from Paganism, are defended.

_   40 Translator’s Note._—And yet the same writer has defended this
      manner of recruiting the church.—_Vid. supra_, p. 17.

_   41 Translator’s Note_.—And yet this system of concession has been
      called by the same author _true wisdom._—_Vid. supra_, p. 18.

_   42 Translator’s Note._—It dated from the time when the Christian
      church began to make a compromise with Paganism.

   43 Who would defile themselves by the impious superstition of the
      idols.

   44 An ecclesiastical writer of the fifth century.

_   45 Translator’s Note._—Importing usually into the Christian church
      that leaven of Paganism which is mentioned in the text.

_   46 Translator’s Note._—Retaining meanwhile, however, the thing itself.

_   47 Translator’s Note._—It is a great pity that the author leaves us in
      the dark about the time when this great improvement in the Roman
      Catholic Church to which he alludes took place.

   48 St Augustinus relates, in the fourth book of his Confessions, chap,
      iii., that he was diverted from the idea of studying astrology by a
      pagan physician, who made him understand all the falsehood and
      ridicule of that science.

   49 A similar custom is still prevalent is Russia. _Vide infra_, “On the
      Superstitions of her Church.”

_   50 Author’s Note._—In 1215, Buondelmonte was murdered by the Amidei at
      the foot of the statue of Mars. This murder produced at Florence a
      civil war, which, gradually spreading over all Italy, gave birth to
      the factions of the Guelphs and Ghibelines.

   51 Basnage, “Histoire de l’Eglise,” p. 1174.

   52 An interesting account of Vigilantius was published by the Rev. Dr
      Gilly, the well-known friend of the Waldensians.

_   53 Vide supra_, p. 8.

   54 Gibbon’s “Roman Empire,” chap. xlix.

   55 The Greeks and Russians worship their images chiefly by kissing
      them, and it was probably on this account that it was ordered to
      raise them to a height where they could not be reached by the lips
      of their votaries, because this means could not prevent them from
      bowing to them.

   56 It is related that the women were the most zealous in defending the
      images, and that an officer of the emperor, who was demolishing a
      statue of Christ placed at the entrance of the imperial palace, was
      murdered by them.

   57 Gibbon and some other writers think that Constantine survived for
      some time the loss of his eyes, but I have followed in the text the
      general opinion on this event.

   58 Irene was a native of Athens.

   59 Vol. ix. p. 429, _et seq._

   60 Extracts from the works of this celebrated monk, and his life,
      _apud_ Basnage _Histoire de l’Eglise_, p. 1375.

   61 Theodora, on being appointed by her husband regent during the
      minority of her son, was obliged to swear that she would not restore
      the _idols_. The Jesuit Maimbourg, who wrote a history of the
      iconoclasts, maintains that, in restoring the worship of images, she
      did not commit a perjury, because _she swore that_ she would not
      restore the _idols_, but not _images_, which are not idols.

   62 I may add, as well as the Russo-Greek Church, which, as I shall have
      an opportunity to show afterwards, is no less opposed to
      Protestantism than her rival, the Church of Rome.

   63 Thus, for instance, the well-known work of the celebrated patriarch
      Photius, written in the ninth century, contains extracts from and
      notices of many works which have never reached us.

   64 “Edinburgh Review,” July, 1841, p. 17.

   65 According to the author of “Hierurgia,” Cassianus suffered martyrdom
      under the reign of Julian the Apostate; we know, however, from
      history, that no persecution of Christians had taken place under
      that emperor. Cassianus’ body is still preserved at Imola, but
      according to Collin de Plancy he has besides a head at Toulouse.

   66 “Hierurgia,” by D. Rock, D.D., second edition, p. 377, _et seq._

   67 Prudentius was known as a man of great learning, and had filled some
      important offices of the state.

   68 The title of this book is—“Opus illustrissimi Caroli Magni, nutu
      Dei, Regis Francorum, Gallias, Germaniam, Italiamque sive harum
      finitimas provincias, Domino opitulante, regentis, contra Synodum
      quæ in partibus Greciæ, pro adorandis imaginibus, stolide sive
      arroganter gesta est.”

   69 I think that it has recently been completed at Brussels.

   70 The title of Ruinart’s work is—“Acta primorum Martyrum sincera et
      selecta ex libris, cum editis, tum manuscriptis, collecta eruta vel
      emendata.” 4to, Paris 1687, and several editions afterwards.

   71 The most important of these Apocrypha of the New Testament, some of
      which have reached us, whilst we know the others from the writings
      of the fathers, are the Gospels according to St Peter, to St Thomas,
      to St Matthias, the Revelations of St Peter, the Epistle of St
      Barnabas, the Acts of St John, of St Andrew, and other apostles.

   72 Mabillon on the Unknown Saints, p. 10. _Apud_ Basnage, p. 1047.

   73 “Vie de St François Xavier,” par le Pere Bouhours, 1716. _Apud_
      Maury, p. 22.

   74 “Liber Aureus Inscriptus, Liber Conformitatum Vitæ Beati ac
      Seraphici Patris Francisci, ad Vitam Jesu Christi Domini Nostri.” It
      went through several editions.

   75 The title of this curious work is “Histoire de St François d’Assise,
      par Emile Chavin de Malan.” Paris: 1845.

   76 “Edinburgh Review,” April 1847, p. 295.

   77 History of St Waltheof, p. 2 in the 5th vol. of the collection.

   78 Ibid., p. 24.

   79 Life of St Augustine of Canterbury, Apostle of the English, p. 237,
      in the 1st volume of the English Saints, mentioned above.

   80 There is a German story which is evidently a parody of this legend.
      It says that an individual who was passionately fond of playing at
      nine-pins committed a crime for which he was sentenced to be
      beheaded. He requested, as a favour which was usually granted to
      culprits before their execution, to indulge once more in his
      favourite game. This demand being conceded, he began to play with
      such ardour that he entirely forgot his impending execution. The
      executioner, who was present, got tired of waiting for the culprit,
      and seizing a moment when he stretched his neck picking up a ball
      from the ground, cut off his head. The culprit was, however, so keen
      in the pursuit of his game, that he seized his own head, and having
      made with it a successful throw, exclaimed, “Haven’t I got all the
      nine?”

   81 An old German ballad gives a fair specimen of the ideas which people
      entertained of the joys of heaven. It says, amongst other
      things:—“Wine costs not a penny in the cellar of heaven; angels bake
      bread and cracknels at the desire of every one; vegetables of every
      kind abundantly grow in the garden of heaven; pease and carrots grow
      without being planted; asparagus is as thick as a man’s leg, and
      artichokes as big as a head. When it is a lent day, the fishes
      arrive in shoals, and St Peter comes with his net to catch them, in
      order to regale you. St Martha is the cook and St Urban the
      butler.”—See Maury, p. 88.

   82 Zimmerman’s “Solitude Considered with respect to its Dangerous
      Influence upon the Mind and Heart.” English translation. Ed. 1798,
      p. 102, _et seq._

_   83 Vide supra_, p. 17.

   84 “Mandat sancta synodus omnibus episcopis et caeteris, ut juxta
      catholicae et apostolicae ecclesiae usum, a primaevis Christianae
      religionis temporibus receptum, de legitimo imaginum usu fideles
      diligenter instruunt, docentes eos, imaginis Christi et Deiparae
      Virginis, et aliorum sanctorum, in templis praesertim habendas et
      retinendas, eisque debitum honorem et venerationem impertiendam; non
      quod credatur inesse aliqua in divinitas, vel virtus, propter quam
      sint colendae; vel quod ab iis aliquod sit petendum; vel quod
      fiducia in imaginibus sit figenda, veluti olim fiebat a gentibus,
      quae in idolis (Psalm cxxxv.) spem suam collocabant: sed quoniam
      honos, qui eis exhibetur, refertur ad prototypae, quae illae
      representant, ita ut per imagines, quae osculamur, et coram quibus
      caput aperimus et procumbimus, Christum adoremus; et sanctos quorum
      illae similitudinem gerunt veneremur.”—Sessio xxv. _de Invocatione
      Sanc. et Sacr. Imag._

   85 The following description of this little idol is given by a
      well-known French writer of last century:—“This morning, when I was
      quietly walking along a street towards the capitol, I met with a
      carriage, in which sat two Franciscan monks, holding on their knee
      something which I was unable to distinguish. Every body was stopping
      and bowing in a most respectful manner. I inquired to whom were
      these salutations directed? ‘To the _Bambino_,’ I was answered,
      ‘whom these good fathers are carrying to a prelate, who is very ill,
      and whom the physicians have given up.’ It was then explained to me
      what this _Bambino_ is. It is a little statue, meant for Jesus, made
      of wood, and richly attired. The convent which has the good fortune
      of being its owner has no other patrimony. As soon as any body is
      seriously ill, the _Bambino_ is sent for, in a carriage, because he
      never walks on foot. Two monks take him and place him near the bed
      of the patient, in whose house they remain, living at his expense,
      until he dies or recovers.

      “The _Bambino_ is always driving about; people sometimes fight at
      the gate of the convent in order to get him. He is particularly busy
      during the summer, and his charges are then higher, in proportion to
      the competition and the heat, which I think is quite
      right.”—_Dupaty, Lettres sur l’Italie_, let. xlviii.

      The _Bambino_ continues to maintain his credit; and I have read not
      long ago in the newspapers, that an English lady of rank, who had
      joined the communion of Rome, was performing the duties of his dry
      nurse on a festival of her adopted church.

_   86 Insolitam imaginem._ I have made use in the text of the English
      Roman Catholic translation of the canons of the Council of Trent, by
      the Rev. Mr Waterworth.

   87 “Omnia hæc impia sunt et cultus idolorum, alloqui ipsas statuas aut
      ossa, aut fingere Deum aut sanctos magis in uno loco, seu ad hanc
      statuam alligatos esse quam ad alia loca. Nihil differunt
      invocationes quæ fiunt ad Mariam Aquensem seu Ratisbonensem ab
      invocationibus ethnicis, quæ flebant ad Dianam Ephesiam, aut ad
      Junonem Platæensem, aut ad alias statuas.”—_Respon. ad Articul.
      Bavaric_, art. 17, p. 381.

   88 Middleton’s “Miscellaneous Works,” vol. v., p. 96, edition of 1755.

   89 Ibid., p. 97.

   90 Hospinian, “De Origine Templ.,” lib. ii. cap. 23; _apud_ Middleton,
      _loco citato_.

   91 Beugnot, vol. i. p. 231, on the authority of Sosomenes.

   92 There are some Protestant writers who attach great value to the
      apostolic canons, as, for instance, Dr Beveridge, Bishop of St
      Asaph, who wrote a defence of them.

   93 “Institutiones Christianæ,” lib. vi., cap. 2; apud, “Hospinian de
      Origine Templorum,” lib. ii., cap. 10.

   94 This date is a mistake, and I would have taken it for a misprint if
      the author had not said before, that “Vigilantius attacked the
      practices of the church in the fourth age.” I have, in speaking of
      this subject, p. 71, followed the authority of the great historian
      of the Roman Catholic Church, Fleury, who says that Jerome answered
      Vigilantius in 404.

_   95 Vid. supra_, p. 14, _et seq._, the opinions of Chateaubriand and
      Beugnot on the same subject.

   96 The appellation of _regina cælorum_, queen of heaven, is frequently
      given to the blessed Virgin in Roman Catholic litanies and hymns
      addressed to her. The queen of heaven mentioned by Jeremiah is
      supposed to be the same as Astarte, or the Syrian Venus.

   97 Herodot., lib. ii., p. 36,—

      “Qui grege linigero circumdatus et grege calvo,
      Plangentis populi currit derisor Anubis.”

      _Juvenal_, vi. 532.

   98 He describes in it the well-known Roman Catholic practice of
      flagellation or self-whipping, which has been, and is still, done by
      the priests and votaries of several Pagan deities.

   99 “Namque omnia loca quae thuris constiterit vapore fumasse, si tamen
      ea fuisse in jure thurificantium probabitur, fisco nostro adsocianda
      censemus,” &c.—_Vid._ also _supra_, p. 48.

  100 I give these numbers on the authority of the Almanac de Gotha.

  101 The facts of this curious affair have never been published, but they
      are preserved in the ecclesiastical archives of Moscow, and a copy
      of them in the ecclesiastical academy of St Petersburgh.—_Strahl’s
      Beyträge zur Russischen Kirchengeschichte_, p. 239.

  102 Hermann Geschichte von Russland, 1853, vol. v., p. 89.

  103 Anointment with oil makes a part of the Greek ritual of baptism.

  104 These regulations may appear strange in a country like this, but in
      Russia all the population is divided into various classes, and
      nobody can pass from one of them into another without the
      authorization of the Government; as, for instance, if a peasant or
      agriculturist wishes to become a burgher by settling in a town. The
      peasantry in the Baltic provinces were emancipated under the reign
      of the Emperor Alexander, but the landowners still maintain a
      certain authority over them.

  105 The Pope, book iv., chap. 1.

  106 Bodenstedt’s Morning Land; or, Thousand and One Days in the East.
      Second Series, vol. i., p. 61, _et seq._, a work which is
      particularly interesting at the present time.

  107 Studien über Russland, vol. i., p. 101.

  108 The Russians of that time were known as slave dealers, according to
      Benjamin of Tudela, a Jewish traveller of the same period.

  109 Travels of Ibn Foslan, German translation, by Frähn, p. 7.

  110 “Die Völker des Kaukasus,” p. 284.

  111 It owned before the confiscation of the church estates more than a
      hundred thousand male serfs.

  112 Studien über Russland, vol. i. p. 87.

  113 Simocatta, _apud_ Basnage, p. 1332.

  114 This reform, accomplished in the reign of Alexius, father of Peter
      the Great, consisted chiefly in the correction of the text of the
      Slavonic Scriptures and liturgical books, which had been greatly
      disfigured by the ignorance of successive copyists, and in the
      prohibition of some superstitious practices, which had usurped an
      important part in the divine service of the Russian Church. These
      wise reforms produced, however, a violent opposition, and several
      millions separated from the established church, and are known,
      though divided into many sects, under the general appellation of
      _Raskolniks_, _i.e._, schismatics, whilst they call themselves
      _Starovertzi_, or those of the old faith, and designate the
      established church by the name of the Niconian heresy.

  115 Leveque, Histoire de Russie revue, par Malte Brun et Depping, tom.
      iv. p. 131.

  116 The title of this book is “Das Merk würdige Jahr Meines Lebens”—“The
      Memorable Year of my Life.” It has been, I believe, translated into
      English.

  117 A civil grade equal to that of a captain in the army.

  118 The author observes in a note that, in former times, a petty
      ecclesiastical prince, the Archbishop of Cologne, could conceive and
      partly execute the gigantic plan of the Cologne minster, and that in
      the present time, though the whole of Germany had undertaken to
      build the remainder of it, her people would have abandoned this
      project long ago, if it were not supported by the kings. He ought,
      however, I think, to confine his remarks to Germany, because there
      are certainly more places of worship built by voluntary
      contributions in England than in Russia.

  119 Studien über Russland, vol. i. p. 91.

  120 Studien über Russland, vol. i. p. 93.

  121 Leveque, Histoire de Russie, vol. iv., p. 133.

  122 London: Longman & Co. 1854.

  123 The title of this curious production is, “An Appeal on the Eastern
      Question to the Senatus Academicus of the Royal College of
      Edinburgh. By a Russian, Quondam Civis Bibliothecæ Edinensis.”
      Edinburgh: Thomas C. Jack, 92 Princes Street. London: Hamilton,
      Adams, & Co. 1854.

  124 Letter xxxvi., at the end.

_  125 Vide supra_, p. 184.

  126 “Custine’s Russia,” letter xxxvi. The same opinion is expressed by
      Baron Haxthausen, whom I have quoted above, and who says, “The sons
      of the papas and other young men acquire in the seminaries and
      ecclesiastical academies a certain degree of theological learning,
      after which they indue the monacal dress, and are inscribed on the
      rolls of some convent, without however remaining in it. They enter
      the offices of bishops and archbishops to perform their personal as
      well as clerical service. Their position becomes then exactly the
      same as that of the military aides-de-camp of the Generals, and of
      the civil ones of ministers, and it is from amongst them that
      bishops, archimandrites, abbots, &c., are chosen. It is a career
      like every other service in Russia. Several of these ecclesiastics
      may have chosen their calling from a real devotion; the most part of
      them are, however, driven into it by an immeasurable ambition,
      selfishness, speculation, and vanity, the curse of the upper classes
      of Russia.”—(_Studien über Russland_, vol. i., p. 89.) It must be
      remarked that all the dignities of the Greek church are reserved for
      the monastic or _regular_ clergy, whilst the secular (who cannot
      take orders without being married) do not rise above the station of
      a parish priest. This last-named function, which gives no prospects
      of promotion, is generally left to such theological students as are
      not fit for any thing better, and, with some few honourable
      exceptions, they are generally an ignorant and drunken set, treated
      with very little respect by the upper classes. The following
      anecdote, characteristic of the moral and intellectual condition of
      that class of the Russian clergy, was related to the author by a
      friend who had resided for some time in Russia. A landowner of the
      government of Kazan, Mr Bakhmetieff, who was very fond of the
      pleasures of the table in the old style, was in the habit of
      inviting to his revels the priests of the neighbourhood. Once, when
      his clerical guests had got so drunk as to lose all consciousness,
      their host, who was less overpowered by the effect of drink,
      determined to play them a practical joke, by daubing their beards
      with melted wax. The distress of these poor fellows, on awaking from
      their sleep, at this strange unction of their beards, was very
      great, because it was impossible to get rid of the wax without
      greatly injuring that hirsute appendage, upon which so much of their
      personal respectability rests. They became the laughing-stock of
      their congregations, and the story made a great noise over all the
      country.

  127 The Greek Church admits no carved images, as being prohibited by the
      second commandment.

  128 They have considerably more, as will be shown presently.

  129 Every altar in a Roman Catholic church must contain some relic.

  130 It is said to have been made of pasteboard.

  131 There are, besides the five water pots mentioned by Calvin, thirteen
      others, at St Nicolo of the Lido at Venice, at Moscow, at Bologne,
      at Tongres, at Cologne, at Beauvaia, at the abbey of Port Royal at
      Paris, and at Orleans, though the Gospel mentions but six. The
      materials of which they are made are very dissimilar to each other,
      and so are their respective measures, whilst those mentioned in the
      Gospel seem to have been all of the same size.

  132 There are, besides these, thirteen more, unknown probably to Calvin;
      but it would be too tedious to enumerate where they may be seen.

  133 If a diligent inquiry were instituted after these relics in
      particular, four times as many as are here enumerated might be found
      in other parts.

  134 I have employed the term Sudary, which has been adopted by Webster,
      from the Latin word _sudarium_, to designate the relic in question.

  135 It appears that a kerchief with the likeness of the face of Jesus
      Christ imprinted on it, and covered with blood and sweat, was kept
      in a church at Rome in the eleventh century, for it is mentioned in
      the brief of Pope Sergius IV., dated 1011. We do not know what tales
      respecting this relic were related at that time, but it appears that
      copies of it called _Veronies_, _i.e._, a corruption of _verum
      icon_, “the true image,” were sold; and no doubt this appellation
      gave rise to the legend of _Sancta Veronica_ who wiped the face of
      Christ with her kerchief as he was going to Calvary. There are many
      versions of this legend, as for instance that it was this woman whom
      Christ had cured of the bloody issue, whilst again it is maintained
      that she was no less a person than Berenice, niece to King Herod. It
      is also related that after the dispersion of the apostles, St
      Veronica went in company with Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus,
      to Marseilles, where she wrought many miracles with her kerchief.
      The Emperor Tiberius heard of these miracles, and having fallen ill,
      he summoned Veronica to Rome. She cured him in a moment, and was
      rewarded with great honours and rich presents. The remainder of her
      life was spent at Rome in company with St Peter and St Paul, and she
      bequeathed the miraculous kerchief to Pope St Clement. It must,
      however, be observed, that this legend has not obtained the official
      approbation of the Roman Catholic Church, though St Veronica is
      acknowledged and has a place in the calendar for the 21st of
      February; and it is said she suffered martyrdom in France. With
      regard to the large sudaries or sheets upon which the whole body of
      Jesus Christ is impressed, and the absurdity of which Calvin has so
      clearly exposed, the most celebrated of these is that at Turin. Its
      history is curious, inasmuch as it shows that the efforts of
      enlightened and pious prelates to prevent idolatrous practices
      invading their churches proved unavailing against that general
      tendency to worship visible objects, so strongly implanted in
      corrupt human nature, that even in this enlightened age we are
      continually witnessing such manifestation of its revival as may be
      compared only to that of the dark period of the middle ages. The
      most striking instances undoubtedly are those of the holy coat of
      Treves, and the relics of St Theodosia, which have been recently
      installed at Amiens, with great pomp, and in the presence of the
      most eminent prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, who seem now to
      be as anxious to promote this kind of fetishism, as some of their
      predecessors were formerly to repress the same abuse. But let us
      return to our immediate subject—the _holy sudarium_ of Turin. It is
      a long linen sheet, upon which is painted in a reddish colour a
      double likeness of a human body, _i.e._, as seen from before and
      from behind, quite naked with the exception of a broad scarf
      encircling the loins. It is pretended that this relic was saved by a
      Christian at the taking of Jerusalem by Titus, and it was preserved
      for many centuries by the faithful.

      In 640 it was brought back to Palestine, from whence it was
      transferred to Europe by the Crusaders. It was taken by a French
      knight named Geoffroi de Charny, who presented it to the collegiate
      church of a place called _Liré_, which belonged to him, and which is
      situated about three leagues from the town of Troyes, in Champagne;
      the donor declaring, on that occasion, that this holy sheet was
      taken by him from the infidels, and that it had delivered him in a
      miraculous manner from a prison dungeon into which he had been cast
      by the English.

      The canons of that church, seeing at once the great profits to be
      derived from such a relic, lost no time in exhibiting it, and their
      church was soon crowded with devotees. The bishop of Troyes, Henri
      de Poitiers, finding however no proofs of the authenticity of this
      relic, prohibited it to be shown as an object of worship, and it
      remained unheeded for twenty-four years.

      The sons of Geoffroi de Charny, about the year 1388, obtained
      permission from the Papal legate to restore this relic of their
      father’s to the church of Liré, and the canon exposed it in front of
      the pulpit, surrounding it with lighted tapers, but the bishop of
      Troyes, Peter d’Arcy, prohibited this exhibition under pain of
      excommunication. They afterwards obtained from the king, Charles
      VI., an authorization to worship the _holy sudarium_ in the church
      of Liré. The bishop upon this repaired to court, and represented to
      the king that the worship of the pretended sheet of Jesus Christ was
      nothing less than downright idolatry, and he argued so effectually
      that Charles revoked the permission by an edict of the 21st August
      1389.

      Geoffroi de Charny’s sons then appealed to Pope Clemens VII., who
      was residing at Avignon, and he granted permission for the holy
      sudarium to be exhibited. The bishop of Troyes sent a memorial to
      the Pope, explaining the importance attached to this so-called holy
      relic. Clemens did not, however, prohibit the sudarium to be shown,
      but he forbade its being exhibited as the _real_ sudary of Jesus
      Christ. The canons of Liré, therefore, put aside their sudary, but
      it reappeared in other places, and after being shown about in
      various churches and convents it remained at Chambery in 1432, where
      nobody dared to impugn its reality. From that time its fame
      increased, and Francis I., king of France, went a pilgrimage on
      foot, the whole way from Lyons to Chambery, in order to worship this
      linen cloth. In 1578 St Charles Borromeo having announced his
      intention of going on foot to Chambery to adore the holy sudary, the
      Duke of Savoy, wishing to spare this high-born saint the trouble of
      so long a pilgrimage, commanded the relic to be brought to Turin,
      where it has since remained, and where the miracles performed by it
      and the solemn worship paid to it, may be considered as a proof that
      its authenticity is no longer doubted.

      There are about six holy sudaries preserved in other churches,
      besides the pieces shown elsewhere.

  136 Calvin, speaking of the silver pieces for which Judas betrayed our
      Lord, does not say where they are shown. Two of them are preserved
      in the Church of the Annunciation at Florence, one in the Church of
      St John of the Lateran, and another in that of the Holy Cross at
      Rome. There is one piece at the Church of the Visitandine Convent at
      Aix in Provence besides many other places where they are
      displayed.—_Collin de Plancy, Dictionaire des Reliques._

  137 The whole skeleton of the animal is preserved at Vicenza, enclosed
      in an artificial figure of an ass.

  138 Eusebius relates, that Abgarus, king of Edessa, having heard of
      Christ’s teaching and miracles, sent an embassy to acknowledge our
      Lord’s divinity, and to invite him to his kingdom, in order to cure
      Abgarus of a complaint of long standing; upon which Christ sent him
      the likeness mentioned in the text. Now, it is impossible for one
      moment to admit, that, if such an important fact had any truthful
      foundation, it would have been left unrecorded by the apostles.

  139 The Roman Catholic Church maintains that the Blessed Virgin was
      carried to heaven by angels, and it commemorates this event by the
      festival of the Assumption on the 15th August. This belief was
      unknown to the primitive church; for, according to a Roman Catholic
      writer of undoubted orthodoxy, the Empress Pulcheria, in the fifth
      century, requested the Bishop of Jerusalem, Juvenal, to allow her to
      have the body of the Virgin, in order to display it for the public
      adoration of the faithful at Constantinople.—(Tillerant’s “Memoires
      Ecclesiastiques.”)—There are many other proofs that, even at that
      time, when many idolatrous practices had begun to corrupt the
      church, the Virgin’s body was generally believed to be in earth, and
      not in heaven.

  140 Vials filled with such milk were shown in several churches at Rome,
      at Venice in the church of St Mark, at Aix in Provence, in the
      church of the Celestins at Avignon, in that of St Anthony at Padua,
      &c. &c., and many absurd stories are related about the miracles
      performed with these relics.

  141 There are about twenty gowns of the Blessed Virgin exhibited in
      various places. Many of them are of costly textures, which, if true,
      would prove that she had an expensive wardrobe.

  142 The number of miraculous images of the Virgin in countries following
      the tenets of the Roman Catholic and Greek Churches is _legion_, and
      a separate volume would be required if we were to give even an
      abridged account of them.

  143 “The most celebrated relic of St Joseph is his ‘_han_,’ _i.e._, the
      sound or groan which issues from the chest of a man when he makes an
      effort, and which St Joseph emitted when he was splitting a log of
      wood. It was preserved in a bottle at a place called Concaiverny,
      near Blois, in France.”—_D’Aubigne’s Confessions de Sancy_, chap.
      ii. _apud_ Colin de Plancy.

  144 It is said that as late as 1784, at Mount St Michael in Bretagne, a
      Swiss was vending feathers from the archangel Michael’s wings, and
      that he found purchasers for his wares.

  145 This multiplication of St John’s head reminds one of an anecdote
      related by Miss Pardoe in her “City of the Magyar.” A museum of
      curiosities was kept in the chateau of Prince Grassalkovich in
      Hungary, and it was usually shown to strangers by the parish priest
      of that place. This worthy man was once conducting a traveller over
      the collection, and showed him amongst other curiosities two skulls,
      of large and small size, saying of the first, “This is the skull of
      the celebrated rebel Ragotzi;” and of the second, “That is the skull
      of the same Ragotzi when he was a boy!”

  146 Calvin has not rendered full justice to the relics of John the
      Baptist exhibited in various places. He only mentions the different
      parts of his head and the fingers; and the quantity altogether shown
      implies no doubt that the head was one of no ordinary dimensions. He
      evidently was not aware that there are about a dozen whole heads of
      St John the Baptist, which are or were exhibited in different towns.
      The most remarkable of them was undoubtedly that one which the
      notorious Pope John XXIII., who was deposed for his vices by the
      Council of Constance, had sold to the Venetians for the sum of fifty
      thousand ducats; but as the people of Rome would not allow such a
      precious relic to quit their city, the bargain was rescinded. The
      head was afterwards destroyed at the capture and pillage of Rome by
      the troops of Charles V. in 1527. There are, besides, many other
      parts of St John’s body preserved as relics. A part of his shoulder
      was pretended to have been sent by the Emperor Heraclius to King
      Dagobert I.; and an entire shoulder was given to Philip Augustus by
      the Emperor of Greece. Another shoulder was at Longpont, in the
      diocese of Soissons; and there was one at Lieissies in the Hainault.
      A leg of the saint was shown at St Jean d’Abbeville, another at
      Venice, and a third at Toledo; whilst the Abbey of Joienval, in the
      diocese of Chartres, boasted of possessing twenty-two of his bones.
      Several of his arms and hands were shown elsewhere, besides fingers
      and other parts of his body; but their enumeration would be too
      tedious here.

  147 Calvin here alludes to the haircloth worn by the monks of some
      orders, and other Roman Catholic devotees, instead of the ordinary
      shirt.

  148 There is a French edition of the New Testament, published, I think,
      at Louvaine, in which the 13th chapter of Acts, 2d verse, is thus
      translated: “_Etquand ils disotent la messe_,”—“And when they were
      saying mass.”

  149 The relics of Peter and Paul became at an early period the objects
      of veneration to the Christians of Rome. Gregory the Great relates
      that such terrible miracles took place at the sepulchres that people
      approached them in fear and trembling, and he adds that those who
      ventured to touch them were visibly punished. The Emperor Justinian,
      desiring some relics of these two apostles, some filings from their
      prison chains, and sheets that had been consecrated by having been
      laid over their bodies, were sent to him; but some time afterwards
      these relics were touched and handled without persons suffering any
      visible punishment for so doing. Their heads were transferred to the
      church of St John of Lateran, and their bodies were divided and
      placed in the churches of St Peter and St Paul in the Ostian Road.
      We have seen in the text that different parts of their bodies are
      shown in many places, and the celebrated D’Aubigné relates that
      France had possessed formerly the entire bodies of Peter and Paul
      before the Huguenots burnt and destroyed a great number of the
      relics in that country.

  150 This relic is considered a very efficient remedy for cutaneous
      disorders.

  151 Calvin was evidently in haste to get over his task, as he intimated
      to us at the commencement of this chapter. He has made very great
      omissions. In the first place, he appears to have forgotten the body
      of St James the Major at Compostella in Spain, one of the most
      celebrated places of pilgrimage of the Western Church. According to
      the legend, this apostle went to Spain to preach Christianity and
      then returned to Jerusalem, where he was beheaded by Herod.—(Acts
      xii.) His body was afterwards removed by his disciples to Spain.
      This is, therefore, his second body. He has a third at Verona, and a
      fourth at Toulouse, besides several heads elsewhere. The other
      apostles have also more bodies than are mentioned in the text, but
      the limits of this work forbid enumeration.

  152 St Matthew is not so poor in relics as Calvin supposed, for we could
      quote several whole bodies, as well as members, with which he was
      not acquainted.

  153 An oratory is a small chapel or cabinet, adorned with images of
      saints, &c., and used by the Roman Catholics for private devotions.
      The absurdity of ascribing to John the Evangelist the possession of
      such an oratory is too palpable a falsehood to require any comment.

  154 According to the well-known Jesuit writer Ribadeneira, the Jews
      seized Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Marcella, Maximin,
      Celidonius (supposed to have been the man born blind, who was
      restored to sight by Jesus Christ), and Joseph of Arimathea, and
      placing them on board a vessel without helm, oars, or sails,
      launched it forth into the sea. By a miracle the vessel reached
      Marseilles, where Lazarus was appointed the first bishop of that
      town. Maximin became bishop of Aix, Joseph of Arimathea went to
      England, Martha entered a convent, and Mary, after preaching in
      various parts of Provence for some time, retired into the desert of
      St Beaume, to weep and lament over her sins.—_Flower of Saints, July
      22._

  155 The legends say that the soldier, whom they name Longinus, was
      struck with blindness immediately after piercing Jesus Christ’s
      side. He perceived the enormity of his crime, recognised the
      divinity of our Lord, and having rubbed his eyes with the blood
      which was on his lance, he recovered his sight, and finally became a
      monk in Cappadocia. It is true that neither the Gospels nor the
      early ecclesiastical writers mention anything respecting St
      Longinus, but Ribadeneira and other narrators of legends speak much
      of him. The reader may possibly object to the tale of his becoming a
      monk, since in those days there were none; but that difficulty
      merely requires the addition of another miracle.

  156 Calvin is wrong here. Milan only assumes to have possession of the
      graves of the wise men, not their bodies, which were removed to
      Cologne at the capture of Milan in 1162, by Frederick Barbarossa.

_  157 Vid. supra_, p. 120.

  158 St Anthony is venerated, or rather worshipped, by the Eastern as
      well as the Western Church, and he seems to have bestowed his
      favours upon each with the utmost impartiality, for a body of his is
      shown at Novgorod, in Russia, where a church, with a convent
      attached to it, is dedicated to him. The legend concerning St
      Anthony’s arrival at Novgorod is curious. It is said that this
      saint, whilst at Rome, was commanded by an angel, in a dream, to go
      and convert the inhabitants of Novgorod. In obedience to this
      angelic injunction, St Anthony embarked on a millstone, and floated
      on this extraordinary craft down the Tiber, passed over the
      Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Baltic seas, and arrived safely at the
      river Wolchow, upon which stream Novgorod is situated, having
      accomplished the whole voyage in four days—a marvellous speed
      indeed, and which completely shames all the wonders of modern steam
      navigation! The date assigned to this wonderful voyage happens to be
      that of a few centuries _after_ St Anthony’s death, but we suppose
      this too must be considered as another miracle.

  159 Calvin is much mistaken about Helena, who was better provided for
      than he imagined. Besides the body mentioned in the text, she has
      one in the Church of _Ara Cæli_, at Rome. There was one also at
      Constantinople, in the Church of the Twelve Apostles, and another at
      Hauteville, near Epernay, in Champagne.

  160 The legend tells us that an English chief, after conquering and
      taking possession of Lower Brittany, returned to his native land in
      search of wives for his army and himself. He married Ursula, an
      English princess, and took eleven thousand maidens as brides for his
      companions in arms. Ursula, whilst journeying with this bridal train
      to join her husband, was driven by a storm into the mouth of the
      Rhine, and arrived at Cologne. There they were beset by a party of
      Huns, who murdered them all. Their bodies were discovered at Cologne
      in the 16th century, and the remains of St Ursula, which at first
      were mixed with those of her companions, were pointed out, by a
      miracle, for the special veneration of the faithful. Several of
      these virgins have relics in various parts of Europe, and they are
      distinguished by proper names, as, for instance, St Ottilla, St
      Fleurina, &c. &c.. The origin of this absurd legend is ascribed by
      some antiquarians to the following inscription found upon a
      tomb:—“_St Ursula et XI. M. V._,” _i.e._, _et 11 martyres virgines_,
      which, through ignorance or wilful deceit, has been converted into
      _millia virgines_—11,000 virgins. Other savans believe that the
      inscription meant “_St Ursula et Undecimilla, martyres virgines_,”
      and that _Undecimilla_, which was the proper name of a virgin
      martyr, was mistaken by some ignorant copyist for an abbreviation of
      _undecim millia_, 11,000.

  161 It must be remarked that many relics described in this Treatise were
      destroyed during the religious wars, but particularly by the French
      Revolution. I recommend to those who have an interest in this
      subject the observations made on it in Sir George Sinclair’s
      Letters, p. 88, _et seq._





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