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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Volume 4
by Edward Gibbon
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[Footnote 107: The history of Monothelitism may be found in the Acts of the Synods of Rome (tom. vii. p. 77—395, 601—608) and Constantinople, (p. 609—1429.) Baronius extracted some original documents from the Vatican library; and his chronology is rectified by the diligence of Pagi. Even Dupin (Bibliotheque Eccles. tom. vi. p. 57—71) and Basnage (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 451—555) afford a tolerable abridgment.]

Before the end of the seventh century, the creed of the incarnation, which had been defined at Rome and Constantinople, was uniformly preached in the remote islands of Britain and Ireland; [108] the same ideas were entertained, or rather the same words were repeated, by all the Christians whose liturgy was performed in the Greek or the Latin tongue. Their numbers, and visible splendor, bestowed an imperfect claim to the appellation of Catholics: but in the East, they were marked with the less honorable name of Melchites, or Royalists; [109] of men, whose faith, instead of resting on the basis of Scripture, reason, or tradition, had been established, and was still maintained, by the arbitrary power of a temporal monarch. Their adversaries might allege the words of the fathers of Constantinople, who profess themselves the slaves of the king; and they might relate, with malicious joy, how the decrees of Chalcedon had been inspired and reformed by the emperor Marcian and his virgin bride. The prevailing faction will naturally inculcate the duty of submission, nor is it less natural that dissenters should feel and assert the principles of freedom. Under the rod of persecution, the Nestorians and Monophysites degenerated into rebels and fugitives; and the most ancient and useful allies of Rome were taught to consider the emperor not as the chief, but as the enemy of the Christians. Language, the leading principle which unites or separates the tribes of mankind, soon discriminated the sectaries of the East, by a peculiar and perpetual badge, which abolished the means of intercourse and the hope of reconciliation. The long dominion of the Greeks, their colonies, and, above all, their eloquence, had propagated a language doubtless the most perfect that has been contrived by the art of man. Yet the body of the people, both in Syria and Egypt, still persevered in the use of their national idioms; with this difference, however, that the Coptic was confined to the rude and illiterate peasants of the Nile, while the Syriac, [110] from the mountains of Assyria to the Red Sea, was adapted to the higher topics of poetry and argument. Armenia and Abyssinia were infected by the speech or learning of the Greeks; and their Barbaric tongues, which have been revived in the studies of modern Europe, were unintelligible to the inhabitants of the Roman empire. The Syriac and the Coptic, the Armenian and the Aethiopic, are consecrated in the service of their respective churches: and their theology is enriched by domestic versions [111] both of the Scriptures and of the most popular fathers. After a period of thirteen hundred and sixty years, the spark of controversy, first kindled by a sermon of Nestorius, still burns in the bosom of the East, and the hostile communions still maintain the faith and discipline of their founders. In the most abject state of ignorance, poverty, and servitude, the Nestorians and Monophysites reject the spiritual supremacy of Rome, and cherish the toleration of their Turkish masters, which allows them to anathematize, on the one hand, St. Cyril and the synod of Ephesus: on the other, Pope Leo and the council of Chalcedon. The weight which they cast into the downfall of the Eastern empire demands our notice, and the reader may be amused with the various prospect of, I. The Nestorians; II. The Jacobites; [112] III. The Maronites; IV. The Armenians; V. The Copts; and, VI. The Abyssinians. To the three former, the Syriac is common; but of the latter, each is discriminated by the use of a national idiom.

Yet the modern natives of Armenia and Abyssinia would be incapable of conversing with their ancestors; and the Christians of Egypt and Syria, who reject the religion, have adopted the language of the Arabians. The lapse of time has seconded the sacerdotal arts; and in the East, as well as in the West, the Deity is addressed in an obsolete tongue, unknown to the majority of the congregation.

[Footnote 108: In the Lateran synod of 679, Wilfred, an Anglo-Saxon bishop, subscribed pro omni Aquilonari parte Britanniae et Hiberniae, quae ab Anglorum et Britonum, necnon Scotorum et Pictorum gentibus colebantur, (Eddius, in Vit. St. Wilfrid. c. 31, apud Pagi, Critica, tom. iii. p. 88.) Theodore (magnae insulae Britanniae archiepiscopus et philosophus) was long expected at Rome, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 714,) but he contented himself with holding (A.D. 680) his provincial synod of Hatfield, in which he received the decrees of Pope Martin and the first Lateran council against the Monothelites, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 597, &c.) Theodore, a monk of Tarsus in Cilicia, had been named to the primacy of Britain by Pope Vitalian, (A.D. 688; see Baronius and Pagi,) whose esteem for his learning and piety was tainted by some distrust of his national character—ne quid contrarium veritati fidei, Graecorum more, in ecclesiam cui praeesset introduceret. The Cilician was sent from Rome to Canterbury under the tuition of an African guide, (Bedae Hist. Eccles. Anglorum. l. iv. c. 1.) He adhered to the Roman doctrine; and the same creed of the incarnation has been uniformly transmitted from Theodore to the modern primates, whose sound understanding is perhaps seldom engaged with that abstruse mystery.]

[Footnote 109: This name, unknown till the xth century, appears to be of Syriac origin. It was invented by the Jacobites, and eagerly adopted by the Nestorians and Mahometans; but it was accepted without shame by the Catholics, and is frequently used in the Annals of Eutychius, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 507, &c., tom. iii. p. 355. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexandrin. p. 119.), was the acclamation of the fathers of Constantinople, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 765.)]

[Footnote 110: The Syriac, which the natives revere as the primitive language, was divided into three dialects. 1. The Aramoean, as it was refined at Edessa and the cities of Mesopotamia. 2. The Palestine, which was used in Jerusalem, Damascus, and the rest of Syria. 3. The Nabathoean, the rustic idiom of the mountains of Assyria and the villages of Irak, (Gregor, Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 11.) On the Syriac, sea Ebed-Jesu, (Asseman. tom. iii. p. 326, &c.,) whose prejudice alone could prefer it to the Arabic.]

[Footnote 111: I shall not enrich my ignorance with the spoils of Simon, Walton, Mill, Wetstein, Assemannus, Ludolphus, La Croze, whom I have consulted with some care. It appears, 1. That, of all the versions which are celebrated by the fathers, it is doubtful whether any are now extant in their pristine integrity. 2. That the Syriac has the best claim, and that the consent of the Oriental sects is a proof that it is more ancient than their schism.]

[Footnote 112: In the account of the Monophysites and Nestorians, I am deeply indebted to the Bibliotheca Orientalis Clementino-Vaticana of Joseph Simon Assemannus. That learned Maronite was despatched, in the year 1715, by Pope Clement XI. to visit the monasteries of Egypt and Syria, in search of Mss. His four folio volumes, published at Rome 1719—1728, contain a part only, though perhaps the most valuable, of his extensive project. As a native and as a scholar, he possessed the Syriac literature; and though a dependent of Rome, he wishes to be moderate and candid.]



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part V.

I. Both in his native and his episcopal province, the heresy of the unfortunate Nestorius was speedily obliterated. The Oriental bishops, who at Ephesus had resisted to his face the arrogance of Cyril, were mollified by his tardy concessions. The same prelates, or their successors, subscribed, not without a murmur, the decrees of Chalcedon; the power of the Monophysites reconciled them with the Catholics in the conformity of passion, of interest, and, insensibly, of belief; and their last reluctant sigh was breathed in the defence of the three chapters. Their dissenting brethren, less moderate, or more sincere, were crushed by the penal laws; and, as early as the reign of Justinian, it became difficult to find a church of Nestorians within the limits of the Roman empire. Beyond those limits they had discovered a new world, in which they might hope for liberty, and aspire to conquest. In Persia, notwithstanding the resistance of the Magi, Christianity had struck a deep root, and the nations of the East reposed under its salutary shade. The catholic, or primate, resided in the capital: in his synods, and in their dioceses, his metropolitans, bishops, and clergy, represented the pomp and order of a regular hierarchy: they rejoiced in the increase of proselytes, who were converted from the Zendavesta to the gospel, from the secular to the monastic life; and their zeal was stimulated by the presence of an artful and formidable enemy. The Persian church had been founded by the missionaries of Syria; and their language, discipline, and doctrine, were closely interwoven with its original frame. The catholics were elected and ordained by their own suffragans; but their filial dependence on the patriarchs of Antioch is attested by the canons of the Oriental church. [113] In the Persian school of Edessa, [114] the rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological idiom: they studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand volumes of Theodore of Mopsuestia; and they revered the apostolic faith and holy martyrdom of his disciple Nestorius, whose person and language were equally unknown to the nations beyond the Tigris. The first indelible lesson of Ibas, bishop of Edessa, taught them to execrate the Egyptians, who, in the synod of Ephesus, had impiously confounded the two natures of Christ. The flight of the masters and scholars, who were twice expelled from the Athens of Syria, dispersed a crowd of missionaries inflamed by the double zeal of religion and revenge. And the rigid unity of the Monophysites, who, under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, had invaded the thrones of the East, provoked their antagonists, in a land of freedom, to avow a moral, rather than a physical, union of the two persons of Christ. Since the first preaching of the gospel, the Sassanian kings beheld with an eye of suspicion a race of aliens and apostates, who had embraced the religion, and who might favor the cause, of the hereditary foes of their country. The royal edicts had often prohibited their dangerous correspondence with the Syrian clergy: the progress of the schism was grateful to the jealous pride of Perozes, and he listened to the eloquence of an artful prelate, who painted Nestorius as the friend of Persia, and urged him to secure the fidelity of his Christian subjects, by granting a just preference to the victims and enemies of the Roman tyrant. The Nestorians composed a large majority of the clergy and people: they were encouraged by the smile, and armed with the sword, of despotism; yet many of their weaker brethren were startled at the thought of breaking loose from the communion of the Christian world, and the blood of seven thousand seven hundred Monophysites, or Catholics, confirmed the uniformity of faith and discipline in the churches of Persia. [115] Their ecclesiastical institutions are distinguished by a liberal principle of reason, or at least of policy: the austerity of the cloister was relaxed and gradually forgotten; houses of charity were endowed for the education of orphans and foundlings; the law of celibacy, so forcibly recommended to the Greeks and Latins, was disregarded by the Persian clergy; and the number of the elect was multiplied by the public and reiterated nuptials of the priests, the bishops, and even the patriarch himself. To this standard of natural and religious freedom, myriads of fugitives resorted from all the provinces of the Eastern empire; the narrow bigotry of Justinian was punished by the emigration of his most industrious subjects; they transported into Persia the arts both of peace and war: and those who deserved the favor, were promoted in the service, of a discerning monarch. The arms of Nushirvan, and his fiercer grandson, were assisted with advice, and money, and troops, by the desperate sectaries who still lurked in their native cities of the East: their zeal was rewarded with the gift of the Catholic churches; but when those cities and churches were recovered by Heraclius, their open profession of treason and heresy compelled them to seek a refuge in the realm of their foreign ally. But the seeming tranquillity of the Nestorians was often endangered, and sometimes overthrown. They were involved in the common evils of Oriental despotism: their enmity to Rome could not always atone for their attachment to the gospel: and a colony of three hundred thousand Jacobites, the captives of Apamea and Antioch, was permitted to erect a hostile altar in the face of the catholic, and in the sunshine of the court. In his last treaty, Justinian introduced some conditions which tended to enlarge and fortify the toleration of Christianity in Persia. The emperor, ignorant of the rights of conscience, was incapable of pity or esteem for the heretics who denied the authority of the holy synods: but he flattered himself that they would gradually perceive the temporal benefits of union with the empire and the church of Rome; and if he failed in exciting their gratitude, he might hope to provoke the jealousy of their sovereign. In a later age the Lutherans have been burnt at Paris, and protected in Germany, by the superstition and policy of the most Christian king.

[Footnote 113: See the Arabic canons of Nice in the translation of Abraham Ecchelensis, No. 37, 38, 39, 40. Concil. tom. ii. p. 335, 336, edit. Venet. These vulgar titles, Nicene and Arabic, are both apocryphal. The council of Nice enacted no more than twenty canons, (Theodoret. Hist. Eccles. l. i. c. 8;) and the remainder, seventy or eighty, were collected from the synods of the Greek church. The Syriac edition of Maruthas is no longer extant, (Asseman. Bibliot. Oriental. tom. i. p. 195, tom. iii. p. 74,) and the Arabic version is marked with many recent interpolations. Yet this Code contains many curious relics of ecclesiastical discipline; and since it is equally revered by all the Eastern communions, it was probably finished before the schism of the Nestorians and Jacobites, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. tom. xi. p. 363—367.)]

[Footnote 114: Theodore the Reader (l. ii. c. 5, 49, ad calcem Hist. Eccles.) has noticed this Persian school of Edessa. Its ancient splendor, and the two aeras of its downfall, (A.D. 431 and 489) are clearly discussed by Assemanni, (Biblioth. Orient. tom. ii. p. 402, iii. p. 376, 378, iv. p. 70, 924.)]

[Footnote 115: A dissertation on the state of the Nestorians has swelled in the bands of Assemanni to a folio volume of 950 pages, and his learned researches are digested in the most lucid order. Besides this ivth volume of the Bibliotheca Orientalis, the extracts in the three preceding tomes (tom. i. p. 203, ii. p. 321-463, iii. 64—70, 378—395, &c., 405—408, 580—589) may be usefully consulted.]

The desire of gaining souls for God and subjects for the church, has excited in every age the diligence of the Christian priests. From the conquest of Persia they carried their spiritual arms to the north, the east, and the south; and the simplicity of the gospel was fashioned and painted with the colors of the Syriac theology. In the sixth century, according to the report of a Nestorian traveller, [116] Christianity was successfully preached to the Bactrians, the Huns, the Persians, the Indians, the Persarmenians, the Medes, and the Elamites: the Barbaric churches, from the Gulf of Persia to the Caspian Sea, were almost infinite; and their recent faith was conspicuous in the number and sanctity of their monks and martyrs. The pepper coast of Malabar, and the isles of the ocean, Socotora and Ceylon, were peopled with an increasing multitude of Christians; and the bishops and clergy of those sequestered regions derived their ordination from the Catholic of Babylon. In a subsequent age the zeal of the Nestorians overleaped the limits which had confined the ambition and curiosity both of the Greeks and Persians. The missionaries of Balch and Samarcand pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar, and insinuated themselves into the camps of the valleys of Imaus and the banks of the Selinga. They exposed a metaphysical creed to those illiterate shepherds: to those sanguinary warriors, they recommended humanity and repose. Yet a khan, whose power they vainly magnified, is said to have received at their hands the rites of baptism, and even of ordination; and the fame of Prester or Presbyter John [117] has long amused the credulity of Europe. The royal convert was indulged in the use of a portable altar; but he despatched an embassy to the patriarch, to inquire how, in the season of Lent, he should abstain from animal food, and how he might celebrate the Eucharist in a desert that produced neither corn nor wine. In their progress by sea and land, the Nestorians entered China by the port of Canton and the northern residence of Sigan. Unlike the senators of Rome, who assumed with a smile the characters of priests and augurs, the mandarins, who affect in public the reason of philosophers, are devoted in private to every mode of popular superstition. They cherished and they confounded the gods of Palestine and of India; but the propagation of Christianity awakened the jealousy of the state, and, after a short vicissitude of favor and persecution, the foreign sect expired in ignorance and oblivion. [118] Under the reign of the caliphs, the Nestorian church was diffused from China to Jerusalem and Cyrus; and their numbers, with those of the Jacobites, were computed to surpass the Greek and Latin communions. [119] Twenty-five metropolitans or archbishops composed their hierarchy; but several of these were dispensed, by the distance and danger of the way, from the duty of personal attendance, on the easy condition that every six years they should testify their faith and obedience to the catholic or patriarch of Babylon, a vague appellation which has been successively applied to the royal seats of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, and Bagdad. These remote branches are long since withered; and the old patriarchal trunk [120] is now divided by the Elijahs of Mosul, the representatives almost on lineal descent of the genuine and primitive succession; the Josephs of Amida, who are reconciled to the church of Rome: [121] and the Simeons of Van or Ormia, whose revolt, at the head of forty thousand families, was promoted in the sixteenth century by the Sophis of Persia. The number of three hundred thousand is allowed for the whole body of the Nestorians, who, under the name of Chaldeans or Assyrians, are confounded with the most learned or the most powerful nation of Eastern antiquity.

[Footnote 116: See the Topographia Christiana of Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, l. iii. p. 178, 179, l. xi. p. 337. The entire work, of which some curious extracts may be found in Photius, (cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10, edit. Hoeschel,) Thevenot, (in the 1st part of his Relation des Voyages, &c.,) and Fabricius, (Bibliot. Graec. l. iii. c. 25, tom. ii. p. 603-617,) has been published by Father Montfaucon at Paris, 1707, in the Nova Collectio Patrum, (tom. ii. p. 113—346.) It was the design of the author to confute the impious heresy of those who maintained that the earth is a globe, and not a flat, oblong table, as it is represented in the Scriptures, (l. ii. p. 138.) But the nonsense of the monk is mingled with the practical knowledge of the traveller, who performed his voyage A.D. 522, and published his book at Alexandria, A.D. 547, (l. ii. p. 140, 141. Montfaucon, Praefat. c. 2.) The Nestorianism of Cosmas, unknown to his learned editor, was detected by La Croze, (Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 40—55,) and is confirmed by Assemanni, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 605, 606.)]

[Footnote 117: In its long progress to Mosul, Jerusalem, Rome, &c., the story of Prester John evaporated in a monstrous fable, of which some features have been borrowed from the Lama of Thibet, (Hist. Genealogique des Tartares, P. ii. p. 42. Hist. de Gengiscan, p. 31, &c.,) and were ignorantly transferred by the Portuguese to the emperor of Abyssinia, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. Comment. l. ii. c. 1.) Yet it is probable that in the xith and xiith centuries, Nestorian Christianity was professed in the horde of the Keraites, (D'Herbelot, p. 256, 915, 959. Assemanni, tom. iv. p. 468—504.) Note: The extent to which Nestorian Christianity prevailed among the Tartar tribes is one of the most curious questions in Oriental history. M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, notes, p. 383) appears to question the Christianity of Ong Chaghan, and his Keraite subjects.—M.]

[Footnote 118: The Christianity of China, between the seventh and the thirteenth century, is invincibly proved by the consent of Chinese, Arabian, Syriac, and Latin evidence, (Assemanni, Biblioth. Orient. tom. iv. p. 502—552. Mem. de l'Academie des Inscript. tom. xxx. p. 802—819.) The inscription of Siganfu which describes the fortunes of the Nestorian church, from the first mission, A.D. 636, to the current year 781, is accused of forgery by La Croze, Voltaire, &c., who become the dupes of their own cunning, while they are afraid of a Jesuitical fraud. * Note: This famous monument, the authenticity of which many have attempted to impeach, rather from hatred to the Jesuits, by whom it was made known, than by a candid examination of its contents, is now generally considered above all suspicion. The Chinese text and the facts which it relates are equally strong proofs of its authenticity. This monument was raised as a memorial of the establishment of Christianity in China. It is dated the year 1092 of the era of the Greeks, or the Seleucidae, A.D. 781, in the time of the Nestorian patriarch Anan-jesu. It was raised by Iezdbouzid, priest and chorepiscopus of Chumdan, that is, of the capital of the Chinese empire, and the son of a priest who came from Balkh in Tokharistan. Among the various arguments which may be urged in favor of the authenticity of this monument, and which has not yet been advanced, may be reckoned the name of the priest by whom it was raised. The name is Persian, and at the time the monument was discovered, it would have been impossible to have imagined it; for there was no work extant from whence the knowledge of it could be derived. I do not believe that ever since this period, any book has been published in which it can be found a second time. It is very celebrated amongst the Armenians, and is derived from a martyr, a Persian by birth, of the royal race, who perished towards the middle of the seventh century, and rendered his name celebrated among the Christian nations of the East. St. Martin, vol. i. p. 69. M. Remusat has also strongly expressed his conviction of the authenticity of this monument. Melanges Asiatiques, P. i. p. 33. Yet M. Schmidt (Geschichte der Ost Mongolen, p. 384) denies that there is any satisfactory proof that much a monument was ever found in China, or that it was not manufactured in Europe. But if the Jesuits had attempted such a forgery, would it not have been more adapted to further their peculiar views?—M.]

[Footnote 119: Jacobitae et Nestorianae plures quam Graeci et Latini Jacob a Vitriaco, Hist. Hierosol. l. ii. c. 76, p. 1093, in the Gesta Dei per Francos. The numbers are given by Thomassin, Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 172.]

[Footnote 120: The division of the patriarchate may be traced in the Bibliotheca Orient. of Assemanni, tom. i. p. 523—549, tom. ii. p. 457, &c., tom. iii. p. 603, p. 621—623, tom. iv. p. 164-169, p. 423, p. 622—629, &c.]

[Footnote 121: The pompous language of Rome on the submission of a Nestorian patriarch, is elegantly represented in the viith book of Fra Paola, Babylon, Nineveh, Arbela, and the trophies of Alexander, Tauris, and Ecbatana, the Tigris and Indus.]

According to the legend of antiquity, the gospel was preached in India by St. Thomas. [122] At the end of the ninth century, his shrine, perhaps in the neighborhood of Madras, was devoutly visited by the ambassadors of Alfred; and their return with a cargo of pearls and spices rewarded the zeal of the English monarch, who entertained the largest projects of trade and discovery. [123] When the Portuguese first opened the navigation of India, the Christians of St. Thomas had been seated for ages on the coast of Malabar, and the difference of their character and color attested the mixture of a foreign race. In arms, in arts, and possibly in virtue, they excelled the natives of Hindostan; the husbandmen cultivated the palm-tree, the merchants were enriched by the pepper trade, the soldiers preceded the nairs or nobles of Malabar, and their hereditary privileges were respected by the gratitude or the fear of the king of Cochin and the Zamorin himself. They acknowledged a Gentoo of sovereign, but they were governed, even in temporal concerns, by the bishop of Angamala. He still asserted his ancient title of metropolitan of India, but his real jurisdiction was exercised in fourteen hundred churches, and he was intrusted with the care of two hundred thousand souls. Their religion would have rendered them the firmest and most cordial allies of the Portuguese; but the inquisitors soon discerned in the Christians of St. Thomas the unpardonable guilt of heresy and schism. Instead of owning themselves the subjects of the Roman pontiff, the spiritual and temporal monarch of the globe, they adhered, like their ancestors, to the communion of the Nestorian patriarch; and the bishops whom he ordained at Mosul, traversed the dangers of the sea and land to reach their diocese on the coast of Malabar. In their Syriac liturgy the names of Theodore and Nestorius were piously commemorated: they united their adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title of Mother of God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with scrupulous avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition of the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When her image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and their simple devotion was content with the veneration of the cross. Their separation from the Western world had left them in ignorance of the improvements, or corruptions, of a thousand years; and their conformity with the faith and practice of the fifth century would equally disappoint the prejudices of a Papist or a Protestant. It was the first care of the ministers of Rome to intercept all correspondence with the Nestorian patriarch, and several of his bishops expired in the prisons of the holy office.

The flock, without a shepherd, was assaulted by the power of the Portuguese, the arts of the Jesuits, and the zeal of Alexis de Menezes, archbishop of Goa, in his personal visitation of the coast of Malabar. The synod of Diamper, at which he presided, consummated the pious work of the reunion; and rigorously imposed the doctrine and discipline of the Roman church, without forgetting auricular confession, the strongest engine of ecclesiastical torture. The memory of Theodore and Nestorius was condemned, and Malabar was reduced under the dominion of the pope, of the primate, and of the Jesuits who invaded the see of Angamala or Cranganor. Sixty years of servitude and hypocrisy were patiently endured; but as soon as the Portuguese empire was shaken by the courage and industry of the Dutch, the Nestorians asserted, with vigor and effect, the religion of their fathers. The Jesuits were incapable of defending the power which they had abused; the arms of forty thousand Christians were pointed against their falling tyrants; and the Indian archdeacon assumed the character of bishop till a fresh supply of episcopal gifts and Syriac missionaries could be obtained from the patriarch of Babylon. Since the expulsion of the Portuguese, the Nestorian creed is freely professed on the coast of Malabar. The trading companies of Holland and England are the friends of toleration; but if oppression be less mortifying than contempt, the Christians of St. Thomas have reason to complain of the cold and silent indifference of their brethren of Europe. [124]

[Footnote 122: The Indian missionary, St. Thomas, an apostle, a Manichaean, or an Armenian merchant, (La Croze, Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 57—70,) was famous, however, as early as the time of Jerom, (ad Marcellam, epist. 148.) Marco-Polo was informed on the spot that he suffered martyrdom in the city of Malabar, or Meliapour, a league only from Madras, (D'Anville, Eclaircissemens sur l'Inde, p. 125,) where the Portuguese founded an episcopal church under the name of St. Thome, and where the saint performed an annual miracle, till he was silenced by the profane neighborhood of the English, (La Croze, tom. ii. p. 7-16.)]

[Footnote 123: Neither the author of the Saxon Chronicle (A.D. 833) not William of Malmesbury (de Gestis Regum Angliae, l. ii. c. 4, p. 44) were capable, in the twelfth century, of inventing this extraordinary fact; they are incapable of explaining the motives and measures of Alfred; and their hasty notice serves only to provoke our curiosity. William of Malmesbury feels the difficulty of the enterprise, quod quivis in hoc saeculo miretur; and I almost suspect that the English ambassadors collected their cargo and legend in Egypt. The royal author has not enriched his Orosius (see Barrington's Miscellanies) with an Indian, as well as a Scandinavian, voyage.]

[Footnote 124: Concerning the Christians of St. Thomas, see Assemann. Bibliot Orient. tom. iv. p. 391—407, 435—451; Geddes's Church History of Malabar; and, above all, La Croze, Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, in 2 vols. 12mo., La Haye, 1758, a learned and agreeable work. They have drawn from the same source, the Portuguese and Italian narratives; and the prejudices of the Jesuits are sufficiently corrected by those of the Protestants. Note: The St. Thome Christians had excited great interest in the ancient mind of the admirable Bishop Heber. See his curious and, to his friends, highly characteristic letter to Mar Athanasius, Appendix to Journal. The arguments of his friend and coadjutor, Mr. Robinson, (Last Days of Bishop Heber,) have not convinced me that the Christianity of India is older than the Nestorian dispersion.—M]

II. The history of the Monophysites is less copious and interesting than that of the Nestorians. Under the reigns of Zeno and Anastasius, their artful leaders surprised the ear of the prince, usurped the thrones of the East, and crushed on its native soil the school of the Syrians. The rule of the Monophysite faith was defined with exquisite discretion by Severus, patriarch of Antioch: he condemned, in the style of the Henoticon, the adverse heresies of Nestorius; and Eutyches maintained against the latter the reality of the body of Christ, and constrained the Greeks to allow that he was a liar who spoke truth. [125] But the approximation of ideas could not abate the vehemence of passion; each party was the more astonished that their blind antagonist could dispute on so trifling a difference; the tyrant of Syria enforced the belief of his creed, and his reign was polluted with the blood of three hundred and fifty monks, who were slain, not perhaps without provocation or resistance, under the walls of Apamea. [126] The successor of Anastasius replanted the orthodox standard in the East; Severus fled into Egypt; and his friend, the eloquent Xenaias, [127] who had escaped from the Nestorians of Persia, was suffocated in his exile by the Melchites of Paphlagonia. Fifty-four bishops were swept from their thrones, eight hundred ecclesiastics were cast into prison, [128] and notwithstanding the ambiguous favor of Theodora, the Oriental flocks, deprived of their shepherds, must insensibly have been either famished or poisoned. In this spiritual distress, the expiring faction was revived, and united, and perpetuated, by the labors of a monk; and the name of James Baradaeus [129] has been preserved in the appellation of Jacobites, a familiar sound, which may startle the ear of an English reader. From the holy confessors in their prison of Constantinople, he received the powers of bishop of Edessa and apostle of the East, and the ordination of fourscore thousand bishops, priests, and deacons, is derived from the same inexhaustible source. The speed of the zealous missionary was promoted by the fleetest dromedaries of a devout chief of the Arabs; the doctrine and discipline of the Jacobites were secretly established in the dominions of Justinian; and each Jacobite was compelled to violate the laws and to hate the Roman legislator. The successors of Severus, while they lurked in convents or villages, while they sheltered their proscribed heads in the caverns of hermits, or the tents of the Saracens, still asserted, as they now assert, their indefeasible right to the title, the rank, and the prerogatives of patriarch of Antioch: under the milder yoke of the infidels, they reside about a league from Merdin, in the pleasant monastery of Zapharan, which they have embellished with cells, aqueducts, and plantations. The secondary, though honorable, place is filled by the maphrian, who, in his station at Mosul itself, defies the Nestorian catholic with whom he contests the primacy of the East. Under the patriarch and the maphrian, one hundred and fifty archbishops and bishops have been counted in the different ages of the Jacobite church; but the order of the hierarchy is relaxed or dissolved, and the greater part of their dioceses is confined to the neighborhood of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The cities of Aleppo and Amida, which are often visited by the patriarch, contain some wealthy merchants and industrious mechanics, but the multitude derive their scanty sustenance from their daily labor: and poverty, as well as superstition, may impose their excessive fasts: five annual lents, during which both the clergy and laity abstain not only from flesh or eggs, but even from the taste of wine, of oil, and of fish. Their present numbers are esteemed from fifty to fourscore thousand souls, the remnant of a populous church, which was gradually decreased under the impression of twelve centuries. Yet in that long period, some strangers of merit have been converted to the Monophysite faith, and a Jew was the father of Abulpharagius, [130] primate of the East, so truly eminent both in his life and death. In his life he was an elegant writer of the Syriac and Arabic tongues, a poet, physician, and historian, a subtile philosopher, and a moderate divine. In his death, his funeral was attended by his rival the Nestorian patriarch, with a train of Greeks and Armenians, who forgot their disputes, and mingled their tears over the grave of an enemy. The sect which was honored by the virtues of Abulpharagius appears, however, to sink below the level of their Nestorian brethren. The superstition of the Jacobites is more abject, their fasts more rigid, [131] their intestine divisions are more numerous, and their doctors (as far as I can measure the degrees of nonsense) are more remote from the precincts of reason. Something may possibly be allowed for the rigor of the Monophysite theology; much more for the superior influence of the monastic order. In Syria, in Egypt, in Ethiopia, the Jacobite monks have ever been distinguished by the austerity of their penance and the absurdity of their legends. Alive or dead, they are worshipped as the favorites of the Deity; the crosier of bishop and patriarch is reserved for their venerable hands; and they assume the government of men, while they are yet reeking with the habits and prejudices of the cloister. [132]

[Footnote 125: Is the expression of Theodore, in his Treatise of the Incarnation, p. 245, 247, as he is quoted by La Croze, (Hist. du Christianisme d'Ethiopie et d'Armenie, p. 35,) who exclaims, perhaps too hastily, "Quel pitoyable raisonnement!" Renaudot has touched (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 127—138) the Oriental accounts of Severus; and his authentic creed may be found in the epistle of John the Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, in the xth century, to his brother Mannas of Alexandria, (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 132—141.)]

[Footnote 126: Epist. Archimandritarum et Monachorum Syriae Secundae ad Papam Hormisdam, Concil. tom. v. p. 598—602. The courage of St. Sabas, ut leo animosus, will justify the suspicion that the arms of these monks were not always spiritual or defensive, (Baronius, A.D. 513, No. 7, &c.)]

[Footnote 127: Assemanni (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 10—46) and La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 36—40) will supply the history of Xenaias, or Philoxenus, bishop of Mabug, or Hierapolis, in Syria. He was a perfect master of the Syriac language, and the author or editor of a version of the New Testament.]

[Footnote 128: The names and titles of fifty-four bishops who were exiled by Justin, are preserved in the Chronicle of Dionysius, (apud Asseman. tom. ii. p. 54.) Severus was personally summoned to Constantinople—for his trial, says Liberatus (Brev. c. 19)—that his tongue might be cut out, says Evagrius, (l. iv. c. iv.) The prudent patriarch did not stay to examine the difference. This ecclesiastical revolution is fixed by Pagi to the month of September of the year 518, (Critica, tom. ii. p. 506.)]

[Footnote 129: The obscure history of James or Jacobus Baradaeus, or Zanzalust may be gathered from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 144, 147,) Renau dot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 133,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 424, tom. ii. p. 62-69, 324—332, 414, tom. iii. p. 385—388.) He seems to be unknown to the Greeks. The Jacobites themselves had rather deduce their name and pedigree from St. James the apostle.]

[Footnote 130: The account of his person and writings is perhaps the most curious article in the Bibliotheca of Assemannus, (tom. ii. p. 244—321, under the name of Gregorius Bar-Hebroeus.) La Croze (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 53—63) ridicules the prejudice of the Spaniards against the Jewish blood which secretly defiles their church and state.]

[Footnote 131: This excessive abstinence is censured by La Croze, (p. 352,) and even by the Syrian Assemannus, (tom. i. p. 226, tom. ii. p. 304, 305.)]

[Footnote 132: The state of the Monophysites is excellently illustrated in a dissertation at the beginning of the iid volume of Assemannus, which contains 142 pages. The Syriac Chronicle of Gregory Bar-Hebraeus, or Abulpharagius, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 321—463,) pursues the double series of the Nestorian Catholics and the Maphrians of the Jacobites.]

III. In the style of the Oriental Christians, the Monothelites of every age are described under the appellation of Maronites, [133] a name which has been insensibly transferred from a hermit to a monastery, from a monastery to a nation. Maron, a saint or savage of the fifth century, displayed his religious madness in Syria; the rival cities of Apamea and Emesa disputed his relics, a stately church was erected on his tomb, and six hundred of his disciples united their solitary cells on the banks of the Orontes. In the controversies of the incarnation they nicely threaded the orthodox line between the sects of Nestorians and Eutyches; but the unfortunate question of one will or operation in the two natures of Christ, was generated by their curious leisure. Their proselyte, the emperor Heraclius, was rejected as a Maronite from the walls of Emesa, he found a refuge in the monastery of his brethren; and their theological lessons were repaid with the gift a spacious and wealthy domain. The name and doctrine of this venerable school were propagated among the Greeks and Syrians, and their zeal is expressed by Macarius, patriarch of Antioch, who declared before the synod of Constantinople, that sooner than subscribe the two wills of Christ, he would submit to be hewn piecemeal and cast into the sea. [134] A similar or a less cruel mode of persecution soon converted the unresisting subjects of the plain, while the glorious title of Mardaites, [135] or rebels, was bravely maintained by the hardy natives of Mount Libanus. John Maron, one of the most learned and popular of the monks, assumed the character of patriarch of Antioch; his nephew, Abraham, at the head of the Maronites, defended their civil and religious freedom against the tyrants of the East. The son of the orthodox Constantine pursued with pious hatred a people of soldiers, who might have stood the bulwark of his empire against the common foes of Christ and of Rome. An army of Greeks invaded Syria; the monastery of St. Maron was destroyed with fire; the bravest chieftains were betrayed and murdered, and twelve thousand of their followers were transplanted to the distant frontiers of Armenia and Thrace. Yet the humble nation of the Maronites had survived the empire of Constantinople, and they still enjoy, under their Turkish masters, a free religion and a mitigated servitude. Their domestic governors are chosen among the ancient nobility: the patriarch, in his monastery of Canobin, still fancies himself on the throne of Antioch: nine bishops compose his synod, and one hundred and fifty priests, who retain the liberty of marriage, are intrusted with the care of one hundred thousand souls. Their country extends from the ridge of Mount Libanus to the shores of Tripoli; and the gradual descent affords, in a narrow space, each variety of soil and climate, from the Holy Cedars, erect under the weight of snow, [136] to the vine, the mulberry, and the olive-trees of the fruitful valley. In the twelfth century, the Maronites, abjuring the Monothelite error were reconciled to the Latin churches of Antioch and Rome, [137] and the same alliance has been frequently renewed by the ambition of the popes and the distress of the Syrians. But it may reasonably be questioned, whether their union has ever been perfect or sincere; and the learned Maronites of the college of Rome have vainly labored to absolve their ancestors from the guilt of heresy and schism. [138]

[Footnote 133: The synonymous use of the two words may be proved from Eutychius, (Annal. tom. ii. p. 191, 267, 332,) and many similar passages which may be found in the methodical table of Pocock. He was not actuated by any prejudice against the Maronites of the xth century; and we may believe a Melchite, whose testimony is confirmed by the Jacobites and Latins.]

[Footnote 134: Concil. tom. vii. p. 780. The Monothelite cause was supported with firmness and subtilty by Constantine, a Syrian priest of Apamea, (p. 1040, &c.)]

[Footnote 135: Theophanes (Chron. p. 295, 296, 300, 302, 306) and Cedrenus (p. 437, 440) relates the exploits of the Mardaites: the name (Mard, in Syriac, rebellavit) is explained by La Roque, (Voyage de la Syrie, tom. ii. p. 53;) and dates are fixed by Pagi, (A.D. 676, No. 4—14, A.D. 685, No. 3, 4;) and even the obscure story of the patriarch John Maron (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 496—520) illustrates from the year 686 to 707, the troubles of Mount Libanus. * Note: Compare on the Mardaites Anquetil du Perron, in the fiftieth volume of the Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions; and Schlosser, Bildersturmendes Kaiser, p. 100.—M]

[Footnote 136: In the last century twenty large cedars still remained, (Voyage de la Roque, tom. i. p. 68—76;) at present they are reduced to four or five, (Volney, tom. i. p. 264.) These trees, so famous in Scripture, were guarded by excommunication: the wood was sparingly borrowed for small crosses, &c.; an annual mass was chanted under their shade; and they were endowed by the Syrians with a sensitive power of erecting their branches to repel the snow, to which Mount Libanus is less faithful than it is painted by Tacitus: inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus—a daring metaphor, (Hist. v. 6.) Note: Of the oldest and best looking trees, I counted eleven or twelve twenty-five very large ones; and about fifty of middling size; and more than three hundred smaller and young ones. Burckhardt's Travels in Syria p. 19.—M]

[Footnote 137: The evidence of William of Tyre (Hist. in Gestis Dei per Francos, l. xxii. c. 8, p. 1022) is copied or confirmed by Jacques de Vitra, (Hist. Hierosolym. l. ii. c. 77, p. 1093, 1094.) But this unnatural league expired with the power of the Franks; and Abulpharagius (who died in 1286) considers the Maronites as a sect of Monothelites, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 292.)]

[Footnote 138: I find a description and history of the Maronites in the Voyage de la Syrie et du Mont Liban par la Roque, (2 vols. in 12mo., Amsterdam, 1723; particularly tom. i. p. 42—47, p. 174—184, tom. ii. p. 10—120.) In the ancient part, he copies the prejudices of Nairon and the other Maronites of Rome, which Assemannus is afraid to renounce and ashamed to support. Jablonski, (Institut. Hist. Christ. tom. iii. p. 186.) Niebuhr, (Voyage de l'Arabie, &c., tom. ii. p. 346, 370—381,) and, above all, the judicious Volney, (Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, tom. ii. p. 8—31, Paris, 1787,) may be consulted.]

IV. Since the age of Constantine, the Armenians [139] had signalized their attachment to the religion and empire of the Christians. [1391] The disorders of their country, and their ignorance of the Greek tongue, prevented their clergy from assisting at the synod of Chalcedon, and they floated eighty-four years [140] in a state of indifference or suspense, till their vacant faith was finally occupied by the missionaries of Julian of Halicarnassus, [141] who in Egypt, their common exile, had been vanquished by the arguments or the influence of his rival Severus, the Monophysite patriarch of Antioch. The Armenians alone are the pure disciples of Eutyches, an unfortunate parent, who has been renounced by the greater part of his spiritual progeny. They alone persevere in the opinion, that the manhood of Christ was created, or existed without creation, of a divine and incorruptible substance. Their adversaries reproach them with the adoration of a phantom; and they retort the accusation, by deriding or execrating the blasphemy of the Jacobites, who impute to the Godhead the vile infirmities of the flesh, even the natural effects of nutrition and digestion. The religion of Armenia could not derive much glory from the learning or the power of its inhabitants. The royalty expired with the origin of their schism; and their Christian kings, who arose and fell in the thirteenth century on the confines of Cilicia, were the clients of the Latins and the vassals of the Turkish sultan of Iconium. The helpless nation has seldom been permitted to enjoy the tranquillity of servitude. From the earliest period to the present hour, Armenia has been the theatre of perpetual war: the lands between Tauris and Erivan were dispeopled by the cruel policy of the Sophis; and myriads of Christian families were transplanted, to perish or to propagate in the distant provinces of Persia. Under the rod of oppression, the zeal of the Armenians is fervent and intrepid; they have often preferred the crown of martyrdom to the white turban of Mahomet; they devoutly hate the error and idolatry of the Greeks; and their transient union with the Latins is not less devoid of truth, than the thousand bishops, whom their patriarch offered at the feet of the Roman pontiff. [142] The catholic, or patriarch, of the Armenians resides in the monastery of Ekmiasin, three leagues from Erivan. Forty-seven archbishops, each of whom may claim the obedience of four or five suffragans, are consecrated by his hand; but the far greater part are only titular prelates, who dignify with their presence and service the simplicity of his court. As soon as they have performed the liturgy, they cultivate the garden; and our bishops will hear with surprise, that the austerity of their life increases in just proportion to the elevation of their rank.

In the fourscore thousand towns or villages of his spiritual empire, the patriarch receives a small and voluntary tax from each person above the age of fifteen; but the annual amount of six hundred thousand crowns is insufficient to supply the incessant demands of charity and tribute. Since the beginning of the last century, the Armenians have obtained a large and lucrative share of the commerce of the East: in their return from Europe, the caravan usually halts in the neighborhood of Erivan, the altars are enriched with the fruits of their patient industry; and the faith of Eutyches is preached in their recent congregations of Barbary and Poland. [143]

[Footnote 139: The religion of the Armenians is briefly described by La Croze, (Hist. du Christ. de l'Ethiopie et de l'Armenie, p. 269—402.) He refers to the great Armenian History of Galanus, (3 vols. in fol. Rome, 1650—1661,) and commends the state of Armenia in the iiid volume of the Nouveaux Memoires des Missions du Levant. The work of a Jesuit must have sterling merit when it is praised by La Croze.]

[Footnote 1391: See vol. iii. ch. xx. p. 271.—M.]

[Footnote 140: The schism of the Armenians is placed 84 years after the council of Chalcedon, (Pagi, Critica, ad A.D. 535.) It was consummated at the end of seventeen years; and it is from the year of Christ 552 that we date the aera of the Armenians, (L'Art de verifier les Dates, p. xxxv.)]

[Footnote 141: The sentiments and success of Julian of Halicarnassus may be seen in Liberatus, (Brev. c. 19,) Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 132, 303,) and Assemannus, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. Dissertat. Monophysitis, l. viii. p. 286.)]

[Footnote 142: See a remarkable fact of the xiith century in the History of Nicetas Choniates, (p. 258.) Yet three hundred years before, Photius (Epistol. ii. p. 49, edit. Montacut.) had gloried in the conversion of the Armenians.]

[Footnote 143: The travelling Armenians are in the way of every traveller, and their mother church is on the high road between Constantinople and Ispahan; for their present state, see Fabricius, (Lux Evangelii, &c., c. xxxviii. p. 40—51,) Olearius, (l. iv. c. 40,) Chardin, (vol. ii. p. 232,) Teurnefort, (lettre xx.,) and, above all, Tavernier, (tom. i. p. 28—37, 510-518,) that rambling jeweller, who had read nothing, but had seen so much and so well]

V. In the rest of the Roman empire, the despotism of the prince might eradicate or silence the sectaries of an obnoxious creed. But the stubborn temper of the Egyptians maintained their opposition to the synod of Chalcedon, and the policy of Justinian condescended to expect and to seize the opportunity of discord. The Monophysite church of Alexandria [144] was torn by the disputes of the corruptibles and incorruptibles, and on the death of the patriarch, the two factions upheld their respective candidates. [145] Gaian was the disciple of Julian, Theodosius had been the pupil of Severus: the claims of the former were supported by the consent of the monks and senators, the city and the province; the latter depended on the priority of his ordination, the favor of the empress Theodora, and the arms of the eunuch Narses, which might have been used in more honorable warfare. The exile of the popular candidate to Carthage and Sardinia inflamed the ferment of Alexandria; and after a schism of one hundred and seventy years, the Gaianites still revered the memory and doctrine of their founder. The strength of numbers and of discipline was tried in a desperate and bloody conflict; the streets were filled with the dead bodies of citizens and soldiers; the pious women, ascending the roofs of their houses, showered down every sharp or ponderous utensil on the heads of the enemy; and the final victory of Narses was owing to the flames, with which he wasted the third capital of the Roman world. But the lieutenant of Justinian had not conquered in the cause of a heretic; Theodosius himself was speedily, though gently, removed; and Paul of Tanis, an orthodox monk, was raised to the throne of Athanasius. The powers of government were strained in his support; he might appoint or displace the dukes and tribunes of Egypt; the allowance of bread, which Diocletian had granted, was suppressed, the churches were shut, and a nation of schismatics was deprived at once of their spiritual and carnal food. In his turn, the tyrant was excommunicated by the zeal and revenge of the people: and none except his servile Melchites would salute him as a man, a Christian, or a bishop. Yet such is the blindness of ambition, that, when Paul was expelled on a charge of murder, he solicited, with a bribe of seven hundred pounds of gold, his restoration to the same station of hatred and ignominy. His successor Apollinaris entered the hostile city in military array, alike qualified for prayer or for battle. His troops, under arms, were distributed through the streets; the gates of the cathedral were guarded, and a chosen band was stationed in the choir, to defend the person of their chief. He stood erect on his throne, and, throwing aside the upper garment of a warrior, suddenly appeared before the eyes of the multitude in the robes of patriarch of Alexandria. Astonishment held them mute; but no sooner had Apollinaris begun to read the tome of St. Leo, than a volley of curses, and invectives, and stones, assaulted the odious minister of the emperor and the synod. A charge was instantly sounded by the successor of the apostles; the soldiers waded to their knees in blood; and two hundred thousand Christians are said to have fallen by the sword: an incredible account, even if it be extended from the slaughter of a day to the eighteen years of the reign of Apollinaris. Two succeeding patriarchs, Eulogius [146] and John, [147] labored in the conversion of heretics, with arms and arguments more worthy of their evangelical profession. The theological knowledge of Eulogius was displayed in many a volume, which magnified the errors of Eutyches and Severus, and attempted to reconcile the ambiguous language of St. Cyril with the orthodox creed of Pope Leo and the fathers of Chalcedon. The bounteous alms of John the eleemosynary were dictated by superstition, or benevolence, or policy. Seven thousand five hundred poor were maintained at his expense; on his accession he found eight thousand pounds of gold in the treasury of the church; he collected ten thousand from the liberality of the faithful; yet the primate could boast in his testament, that he left behind him no more than the third part of the smallest of the silver coins. The churches of Alexandria were delivered to the Catholics, the religion of the Monophysites was proscribed in Egypt, and a law was revived which excluded the natives from the honors and emoluments of the state.

[Footnote 144: The history of the Alexandrian patriarchs, from Dioscorus to Benjamin, is taken from Renaudot, (p. 114—164,) and the second tome of the Annals of Eutychius.]

[Footnote 145: Liberat. Brev. c. 20, 23. Victor. Chron. p. 329 330. Procop. Anecdot. c. 26, 27.]

[Footnote 146: Eulogius, who had been a monk of Antioch, was more conspicuous for subtilty than eloquence. He proves that the enemies of the faith, the Gaianites and Theodosians, ought not to be reconciled; that the same proposition may be orthodox in the mouth of St. Cyril, heretical in that of Severus; that the opposite assertions of St. Leo are equally true, &c. His writings are no longer extant except in the Extracts of Photius, who had perused them with care and satisfaction, ccviii. ccxxv. ccxxvi. ccxxvii. ccxxx. cclxxx.]

[Footnote 147: See the Life of John the eleemosynary by his contemporary Leontius, bishop of Neapolis in Cyrus, whose Greek text, either lost or hidden, is reflected in the Latin version of Baronius, (A.D. 610, No.9, A.D. 620, No. 8.) Pagi (Critica, tom. ii. p. 763) and Fabricius (l. v c. 11, tom. vii. p. 454) have made some critical observations]



Chapter XLVII: Ecclesiastical Discord.—Part VI.

A more important conquest still remained, of the patriarch, the oracle and leader of the Egyptian church. Theodosius had resisted the threats and promises of Justinian with the spirit of an apostle or an enthusiast. "Such," replied the patriarch, "were the offers of the tempter when he showed the kingdoms of the earth. But my soul is far dearer to me than life or dominion. The churches are in the hands of a prince who can kill the body; but my conscience is my own; and in exile, poverty, or chains, I will steadfastly adhere to the faith of my holy predecessors, Athanasius, Cyril, and Dioscorus. Anathema to the tome of Leo and the synod of Chalcedon! Anathema to all who embrace their creed! Anathema to them now and forevermore! Naked came I out of my mother's womb, naked shall I descend into the grave. Let those who love God follow me and seek their salvation." After comforting his brethren, he embarked for Constantinople, and sustained, in six successive interviews, the almost irresistible weight of the royal presence. His opinions were favorably entertained in the palace and the city; the influence of Theodora assured him a safe conduct and honorable dismission; and he ended his days, though not on the throne, yet in the bosom, of his native country. On the news of his death, Apollinaris indecently feasted the nobles and the clergy; but his joy was checked by the intelligence of a new election; and while he enjoyed the wealth of Alexandria, his rivals reigned in the monasteries of Thebais, and were maintained by the voluntary oblations of the people. A perpetual succession of patriarchs arose from the ashes of Theodosius; and the Monophysite churches of Syria and Egypt were united by the name of Jacobites and the communion of the faith. But the same faith, which has been confined to a narrow sect of the Syrians, was diffused over the mass of the Egyptian or Coptic nation; who, almost unanimously, rejected the decrees of the synod of Chalcedon. A thousand years were now elapsed since Egypt had ceased to be a kingdom, since the conquerors of Asia and Europe had trampled on the ready necks of a people, whose ancient wisdom and power ascend beyond the records of history. The conflict of zeal and persecution rekindled some sparks of their national spirit. They abjured, with a foreign heresy, the manners and language of the Greeks: every Melchite, in their eyes, was a stranger, every Jacobite a citizen; the alliance of marriage, the offices of humanity, were condemned as a deadly sin the natives renounced all allegiance to the emperor; and his orders, at a distance from Alexandria, were obeyed only under the pressure of military force. A generous effort might have edeemed the religion and liberty of Egypt, and her six hundred monasteries might have poured forth their myriads of holy warriors, for whom death should have no terrors, since life had no comfort or delight. But experience has proved the distinction of active and passive courage; the fanatic who endures without a groan the torture of the rack or the stake, would tremble and fly before the face of an armed enemy. The pusillanimous temper of the Egyptians could only hope for a change of masters; the arms of Chosroes depopulated the land, yet under his reign the Jacobites enjoyed a short and precarious respite. The victory of Heraclius renewed and aggravated the persecution, and the patriarch again escaped from Alexandria to the desert. In his flight, Benjamin was encouraged by a voice, which bade him expect, at the end of ten years, the aid of a foreign nation, marked, like the Egyptians themselves, with the ancient rite of circumcision. The character of these deliverers, and the nature of the deliverance, will be hereafter explained; and I shall step over the interval of eleven centuries to observe the present misery of the Jacobites of Egypt. The populous city of Cairo affords a residence, or rather a shelter, for their indigent patriarch, and a remnant of ten bishops; forty monasteries have survived the inroads of the Arabs; and the progress of servitude and apostasy has reduced the Coptic nation to the despicable number of twenty-five or thirty thousand families; [148] a race of illiterate beggars, whose only consolation is derived from the superior wretchedness of the Greek patriarch and his diminutive congregation. [149]

[Footnote 148: This number is taken from the curious Recherches sur les Egyptiens et les Chinois, (tom. ii. p. 192, 193,) and appears more probable than the 600,000 ancient, or 15,000 modern, Copts of Gemelli Carreri Cyril Lucar, the Protestant patriarch of Constantinople, laments that those heretics were ten times more numerous than his orthodox Greeks, ingeniously applying Homer, (Iliad, ii. 128,) the most perfect expression of contempt, (Fabric. Lux Evangelii, 740.)]

[Footnote 149: The history of the Copts, their religion, manners, &c., may be found in the Abbe Renaudot's motley work, neither a translation nor an original; the Chronicon Orientale of Peter, a Jacobite; in the two versions of Abraham Ecchellensis, Paris, 1651; and John Simon Asseman, Venet. 1729. These annals descend no lower than the xiiith century. The more recent accounts must be searched for in the travellers into Egypt and the Nouveaux Memoires des Missions du Levant. In the last century, Joseph Abudacnus, a native of Cairo, published at Oxford, in thirty pages, a slight Historia Jacobitarum, 147, post p.150]

VI. The Coptic patriarch, a rebel to the Caesars, or a slave to the khalifs, still gloried in the filial obedience of the kings of Nubia and Aethiopia. He repaid their homage by magnifying their greatness; and it was boldly asserted that they could bring into the field a hundred thousand horse, with an equal number of camels; [150] that their hand could pour out or restrain the waters of the Nile; [151] and the peace and plenty of Egypt was obtained, even in this world, by the intercession of the patriarch. In exile at Constantinople, Theodosius recommended to his patroness the conversion of the black nations of Nubia, from the tropic of Cancer to the confines of Abyssinia. [152] Her design was suspected and emulated by the more orthodox emperor. The rival missionaries, a Melchite and a Jacobite, embarked at the same time; but the empress, from a motive of love or fear, was more effectually obeyed; and the Catholic priest was detained by the president of Thebais, while the king of Nubia and his court were hastily baptized in the faith of Dioscorus. The tardy envoy of Justinian was received and dismissed with honor: but when he accused the heresy and treason of the Egyptians, the negro convert was instructed to reply that he would never abandon his brethren, the true believers, to the persecuting ministers of the synod of Chalcedon. [153] During several ages, the bishops of Nubia were named and consecrated by the Jacobite patriarch of Alexandria: as late as the twelfth century, Christianity prevailed; and some rites, some ruins, are still visible in the savage towns of Sennaar and Dongola. [154] But the Nubians at length executed their threats of returning to the worship of idols; the climate required the indulgence of polygamy, and they have finally preferred the triumph of the Koran to the abasement of the Cross. A metaphysical religion may appear too refined for the capacity of the negro race: yet a black or a parrot might be taught to repeat the words of the Chalcedonian or Monophysite creed.

[Footnote 150: About the year 737. See Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex p. 221, 222. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 99.]

[Footnote 151: Ludolph. Hist. Aethiopic. et Comment. l. i. c. 8. Renaudot Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 480, &c. This opinion, introduced into Egypt and Europe by the artifice of the Copts, the pride of the Abyssinians, the fear and ignorance of the Turks and Arabs, has not even the semblance of truth. The rains of Aethiopia do not, in the increase of the Nile, consult the will of the monarch. If the river approaches at Napata within three days' journey of the Red Sea (see D'Anville's Maps,) a canal that should divert its course would demand, and most probably surpass, the power of the Caesars.]

[Footnote 152: The Abyssinians, who still preserve the features and olive complexion of the Arabs, afford a proof that two thousand years are not sufficient to change the color of the human race. The Nubians, an African race, are pure negroes, as black as those of Senegal or Congo, with flat noses, thick lips, and woolly hair, (Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. v. p. 117, 143, 144, 166, 219, edit. in 12mo., Paris, 1769.) The ancients beheld, without much attention, the extraordinary phenomenon which has exercised the philosophers and theologians of modern times]

[Footnote 153: Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. i. p. 329.]

[Footnote 154: The Christianity of the Nubians (A.D. 1153) is attested by the sheriff al Edrisi, falsely described under the name of the Nubian geographer, (p. 18,) who represents them as a nation of Jacobites. The rays of historical light that twinkle in the history of Ranaudot (p. 178, 220—224, 281—286, 405, 434, 451, 464) are all previous to this aera. See the modern state in the Lettres Edifiantes (Recueil, iv.) and Busching, (tom. ix. p. 152—139, par Berenger.)]

Christianity was more deeply rooted in the Abyssinian empire; and, although the correspondence has been sometimes interrupted above seventy or a hundred years, the mother-church of Alexandria retains her colony in a state of perpetual pupilage. Seven bishops once composed the Aethiopic synod: had their number amounted to ten, they might have elected an independent primate; and one of their kings was ambitious of promoting his brother to the ecclesiastical throne. But the event was foreseen, the increase was denied: the episcopal office has been gradually confined to the abuna, [155] the head and author of the Abyssinian priesthood; the patriarch supplies each vacancy with an Egyptian monk; and the character of a stranger appears more venerable in the eyes of the people, less dangerous in those of the monarch. In the sixth century, when the schism of Egypt was confirmed, the rival chiefs, with their patrons, Justinian and Theodora, strove to outstrip each other in the conquest of a remote and independent province. The industry of the empress was again victorious, and the pious Theodora has established in that sequestered church the faith and discipline of the Jacobites. [156] Encompassed on all sides by the enemies of their religion, the Aethiopians slept near a thousand years, forgetful of the world, by whom they were forgotten. They were awakened by the Portuguese, who, turning the southern promontory of Africa, appeared in India and the Red Sea, as if they had descended through the air from a distant planet. In the first moments of their interview, the subjects of Rome and Alexandria observed the resemblance, rather than the difference, of their faith; and each nation expected the most important benefits from an alliance with their Christian brethren. In their lonely situation, the Aethiopians had almost relapsed into the savage life. Their vessels, which had traded to Ceylon, scarcely presumed to navigate the rivers of Africa; the ruins of Axume were deserted, the nation was scattered in villages, and the emperor, a pompous name, was content, both in peace and war, with the immovable residence of a camp. Conscious of their own indigence, the Abyssinians had formed the rational project of importing the arts and ingenuity of Europe; [157] and their ambassadors at Rome and Lisbon were instructed to solicit a colony of smiths, carpenters, tilers, masons, printers, surgeons, and physicians, for the use of their country. But the public danger soon called for the instant and effectual aid of arms and soldiers, to defend an unwarlike people from the Barbarians who ravaged the inland country and the Turks and Arabs who advanced from the sea-coast in more formidable array. Aethiopia was saved by four hundred and fifty Portuguese, who displayed in the field the native valor of Europeans, and the artificial power of the musket and cannon. In a moment of terror, the emperor had promised to reconcile himself and his subjects to the Catholic faith; a Latin patriarch represented the supremacy of the pope: [158] the empire, enlarged in a tenfold proportion, was supposed to contain more gold than the mines of America; and the wildest hopes of avarice and zeal were built on the willing submission of the Christians of Africa.

[Footnote 155: The abuna is improperly dignified by the Latins with the title of patriarch. The Abyssinians acknowledge only the four patriarchs, and their chief is no more than a metropolitan or national primate, (Ludolph. Hist. Aethiopic. et Comment. l. iii. c. 7.) The seven bishops of Renaudot, (p. 511,) who existed A.D. 1131, are unknown to the historian.]

[Footnote 156: I know not why Assemannus (Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 384) should call in question these probable missions of Theodora into Nubia and Aethiopia. The slight notices of Abyssinia till the year 1500 are supplied by Renaudot (p. 336-341, 381, 382, 405, 443, &c., 452, 456, 463, 475, 480, 511, 525, 559—564) from the Coptic writers. The mind of Ludolphus was a perfect blank.]

[Footnote 157: Ludolph. Hist. Aethiop. l. iv. c. 5. The most necessary arts are now exercised by the Jews, and the foreign trade is in the hands of the Armenians. What Gregory principally admired and envied was the industry of Europe—artes et opificia.]

[Footnote 158: John Bermudez, whose relation, printed at Lisbon, 1569, was translated into English by Purchas, (Pilgrims, l. vii. c. 7, p. 1149, &c.,) and from thence into French by La Croze, (Christianisme d'Ethiopie, p. 92—265.) The piece is curious; but the author may be suspected of deceiving Abyssinia, Rome, and Portugal. His title to the rank of patriarch is dark and doubtful, (Ludolph. Comment. No. 101, p. 473.)]

But the vows which pain had extorted were forsworn on the return of health. The Abyssinians still adhered with unshaken constancy to the Monophysite faith; their languid belief was inflamed by the exercise of dispute; they branded the Latins with the names of Arians and Nestorians, and imputed the adoration of four gods to those who separated the two natures of Christ. Fremona, a place of worship, or rather of exile, was assigned to the Jesuit missionaries. Their skill in the liberal and mechanic arts, their theological learning, and the decency of their manners, inspired a barren esteem; but they were not endowed with the gift of miracles, [159] and they vainly solicited a reenforcement of European troops. The patience and dexterity of forty years at length obtained a more favorable audience, and two emperors of Abyssinia were persuaded that Rome could insure the temporal and everlasting happiness of her votaries. The first of these royal converts lost his crown and his life; and the rebel army was sanctified by the abuna, who hurled an anathema at the apostate, and absolved his subjects from their oath of fidelity. The fate of Zadenghel was revenged by the courage and fortune of Susneus, who ascended the throne under the name of Segued, and more vigorously prosecuted the pious enterprise of his kinsman. After the amusement of some unequal combats between the Jesuits and his illiterate priests, the emperor declared himself a proselyte to the synod of Chalcedon, presuming that his clergy and people would embrace without delay the religion of their prince. The liberty of choice was succeeded by a law, which imposed, under pain of death, the belief of the two natures of Christ: the Abyssinians were enjoined to work and to play on the Sabbath; and Segued, in the face of Europe and Africa, renounced his connection with the Alexandrian church. A Jesuit, Alphonso Mendez, the Catholic patriarch of Aethiopia, accepted, in the name of Urban VIII., the homage and abjuration of the penitent. "I confess," said the emperor on his knees, "I confess that the pope is the vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the sovereign of the world. To him I swear true obedience, and at his feet I offer my person and kingdom." A similar oath was repeated by his son, his brother, the clergy, the nobles, and even the ladies of the court: the Latin patriarch was invested with honors and wealth; and his missionaries erected their churches or citadels in the most convenient stations of the empire. The Jesuits themselves deplore the fatal indiscretion of their chief, who forgot the mildness of the gospel and the policy of his order, to introduce with hasty violence the liturgy of Rome and the inquisition of Portugal. He condemned the ancient practice of circumcision, which health, rather than superstition, had first invented in the climate of Aethiopia. [160] A new baptism, a new ordination, was inflicted on the natives; and they trembled with horror when the most holy of the dead were torn from their graves, when the most illustrious of the living were excommunicated by a foreign priest. In the defense of their religion and liberty, the Abyssinians rose in arms, with desperate but unsuccessful zeal. Five rebellions were extinguished in the blood of the insurgents: two abunas were slain in battle, whole legions were slaughtered in the field, or suffocated in their caverns; and neither merit, nor rank, nor sex, could save from an ignominious death the enemies of Rome. But the victorious monarch was finally subdued by the constancy of the nation, of his mother, of his son, and of his most faithful friends. Segued listened to the voice of pity, of reason, perhaps of fear: and his edict of liberty of conscience instantly revealed the tyranny and weakness of the Jesuits. On the death of his father, Basilides expelled the Latin patriarch, and restored to the wishes of the nation the faith and the discipline of Egypt. The Monophysite churches resounded with a song of triumph, "that the sheep of Aethiopia were now delivered from the hyaenas of the West;" and the gates of that solitary realm were forever shut against the arts, the science, and the fanaticism of Europe. [161]

[Footnote 159: Religio Romana...nec precibus patrum nec miraculis ab ipsis editis suffulciebatur, is the uncontradicted assurance of the devout emperor Susneus to his patriarch Mendez, (Ludolph. Comment. No. 126, p. 529;) and such assurances should be preciously kept, as an antidote against any marvellous legends.]

[Footnote 160: I am aware how tender is the question of circumcision. Yet I will affirm, 1. That the Aethiopians have a physical reason for the circumcision of males, and even of females, (Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains, tom. ii.) 2. That it was practised in Aethiopia long before the introduction of Judaism or Christianity, (Herodot. l. ii. c. 104. Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 72, 73.) "Infantes circumcidunt ob consuetudinemn, non ob Judaismum," says Gregory the Abyssinian priest, (apud Fabric. Lux Christiana, p. 720.) Yet in the heat of dispute, the Portuguese were sometimes branded with the name of uncircumcised, (La Croze, p. 90. Ludolph. Hist. and Comment. l. iii. c. l.)]

[Footnote 161: The three Protestant historians, Ludolphus, (Hist. Aethiopica, Francofurt. 1681; Commentarius, 1691; Relatio Nova, &c., 1693, in folio,) Geddes, (Church History of Aethiopia, London, 1696, in 8vo..) and La Croze, (Hist. du Christianisme d'Ethiopie et d'Armenie, La Haye, 1739, in 12mo.,) have drawn their principal materials from the Jesuits, especially from the General History of Tellez, published in Portuguese at Coimbra, 1660. We might be surprised at their frankness; but their most flagitious vice, the spirit of persecution, was in their eyes the most meritorious virtue. Ludolphus possessed some, though a slight, advantage from the Aethiopic language, and the personal conversation of Gregory, a free-spirited Abyssinian priest, whom he invited from Rome to the court of Saxe-Gotha. See the Theologia Aethiopica of Gregory, in (Fabric. Lux Evangelii, p. 716—734.) * Note: The travels of Bruce, illustrated by those of Mr. Salt, and the narrative of Nathaniel Pearce, have brought us again acquainted with this remote region. Whatever may be their speculative opinions the barbarous manners of the Ethiopians seem to be gaining more and more the ascendency over the practice of Christianity.—M.]



Chapter XLVIII: Succession And Characters Of The Greek Emperors.—Part I.

Plan Of The Two Last Volumes.—Succession And Characters Of The Greek Emperors Of Constantinople, From The Time Of Heraclius To The Latin Conquest.

I have now deduced from Trajan to Constantine, from Constantine to Heraclius, the regular series of the Roman emperors; and faithfully exposed the prosperous and adverse fortunes of their reigns. Five centuries of the decline and fall of the empire have already elapsed; but a period of more than eight hundred years still separates me from the term of my labors, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. Should I persevere in the same course, should I observe the same measure, a prolix and slender thread would be spun through many a volume, nor would the patient reader find an adequate reward of instruction or amusement. At every step, as we sink deeper in the decline and fall of the Eastern empire, the annals of each succeeding reign would impose a more ungrateful and melancholy task. These annals must continue to repeat a tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery; the natural connection of causes and events would be broken by frequent and hasty transitions, and a minute accumulation of circumstances must destroy the light and effect of those general pictures which compose the use and ornament of a remote history. From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view; the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople; and the fate of the Greek empire has been compared to that of the Rhine, which loses itself in the sands, before its waters can mingle with the ocean. The scale of dominion is diminished to our view by the distance of time and place; nor is the loss of external splendor compensated by the nobler gifts of virtue and genius. In the last moments of her decay, Constantinople was doubtless more opulent and populous than Athens at her most flourishing aera, when a scanty sum of six thousand talents, or twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling was possessed by twenty-one thousand male citizens of an adult age. But each of these citizens was a freeman, who dared to assert the liberty of his thoughts, words, and actions, whose person and property were guarded by equal law; and who exercised his independent vote in the government of the republic. Their numbers seem to be multiplied by the strong and various discriminations of character; under the shield of freedom, on the wings of emulation and vanity, each Athenian aspired to the level of the national dignity; from this commanding eminence, some chosen spirits soared beyond the reach of a vulgar eye; and the chances of superior merit in a great and populous kingdom, as they are proved by experience, would excuse the computation of imaginary millions. The territories of Athens, Sparta, and their allies, do not exceed a moderate province of France or England; but after the trophies of Salamis and Platea, they expand in our fancy to the gigantic size of Asia, which had been trampled under the feet of the victorious Greeks. But the subjects of the Byzantine empire, who assume and dishonor the names both of Greeks and Romans, present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are neither softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the vigor of memorable crimes. The freemen of antiquity might repeat with generous enthusiasm the sentence of Homer, "that on the first day of his servitude, the captive is deprived of one half of his manly virtue." But the poet had only seen the effects of civil or domestic slavery, nor could he foretell that the second moiety of manhood must be annihilated by the spiritual despotism which shackles not only the actions, but even the thoughts, of the prostrate votary. By this double yoke, the Greeks were oppressed under the successors of Heraclius; the tyrant, a law of eternal justice, was degraded by the vices of his subjects; and on the throne, in the camp, in the schools, we search, perhaps with fruitless diligence, the names and characters that may deserve to be rescued from oblivion. Nor are the defects of the subject compensated by the skill and variety of the painters. Of a space of eight hundred years, the four first centuries are overspread with a cloud interrupted by some faint and broken rays of historic light: in the lives of the emperors, from Maurice to Alexius, Basil the Macedonian has alone been the theme of a separate work; and the absence, or loss, or imperfection of contemporary evidence, must be poorly supplied by the doubtful authority of more recent compilers. The four last centuries are exempt from the reproach of penury; and with the Comnenian family, the historic muse of Constantinople again revives, but her apparel is gaudy, her motions are without elegance or grace. A succession of priests, or courtiers, treads in each other's footsteps in the same path of servitude and superstition: their views are narrow, their judgment is feeble or corrupt; and we close the volume of copious barrenness, still ignorant of the causes of events, the characters of the actors, and the manners of the times which they celebrate or deplore. The observation which has been applied to a man, may be extended to a whole people, that the energy of the sword is communicated to the pen; and it will be found by experience, that the tone of history will rise or fall with the spirit of the age.

From these considerations, I should have abandoned without regret the Greek slaves and their servile historians, had I not reflected that the fate of the Byzantine monarchy is passively connected with the most splendid and important revolutions which have changed the state of the world. The space of the lost provinces was immediately replenished with new colonies and rising kingdoms: the active virtues of peace and war deserted from the vanquished to the victorious nations; and it is in their origin and conquests, in their religion and government, that we must explore the causes and effects of the decline and fall of the Eastern empire. Nor will this scope of narrative, the riches and variety of these materials, be incompatible with the unity of design and composition. As, in his daily prayers, the Mussulman of Fez or Delhi still turns his face towards the temple of Mecca, the historian's eye shall be always fixed on the city of Constantinople. The excursive line may embrace the wilds of Arabia and Tartary, but the circle will be ultimately reduced to the decreasing limit of the Roman monarchy.

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