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by Gregory III. who held the same principles, and carried on the same design : and Leo Isaurus* dying, his son Constantine VI. commonly called Copronymus, was the successor both to his empire and opinion. For which reason the faction of the Pope's side rebelled against their lawful sovereign, and proclaimed his kinsman Artabasdus, Emperor, excommunicating Constantine, and fortifying his royal city of Constantinople against him : but the rightful prince gathering forces, set upon these rebels by sea and land, and conquers the city, taking Artabasdus the usurper, and many of his complices, whom he punished as their treason deserved ; and for that justice is called a persecutor by the partial writers of that history. But Constantine being in peace, t calls a Synod at Constantinople ;I at which were present three hundred and thirty-eight bishops (the chief of which was Theodosius, bishop of Ephesus), who by Scripture, antiquity, and reason, proved that images and pictures were not to be adored ; and excommunicated such as worshipped them ; allowing the defacing of them to prevent idolatry. It is true, the Pope would not confirm those decrees; but neither he nor his party were able to answer the arguments they produced :and the Emperor punished such as would not obey the decrees of this Synod, but encouraged the propugners of them. Howbeit, a fever carries off Constantine after he had reigned near thirty-five years, who was succeeded by his son Leo IV. called Porphyrogennetus,|| an enemy also to the adoration of images : but he did little in that matter, being prevented by death, after a short reign of five years. The empire then descended on his son, Constantine, a child of ten years old, under the tuition of his mother, the empress Irene, | a woman scarcely to be paralleled for ambition, dissimulation, and cruelty ; and who at last deprived this her son of sight, empire, and life.** It is this empress, that, after her dissimulation in the time of Constantine, and her husband Leo, revived the cause of image-worship. To make way for which, Paul the patriarch, one of great esteem, must resign histt charge, (but not with a recantation of his subscription in the former Council, for defacing images, as this of NicenefI would have
* An. 741.
† An. 754. $ Or the Heræan Palace over against Constantinople, on the Asian shore., § V. Spanhem. Hist. Imag. sect. 3. p. 170, 171, &c. || An. 775. | Spanhem. p. 313, &c.
** An. 796.
++ Spanhem. p. 326. #1 Act. 1. [Concil. ibid. p. 51.]
it.) And Tarasius, a layman, and secretary to the Emperor, and a creature of the empress's, was advanced into his room. But this crafty person seemingly refuses it, until it was yielded (as before agreed) that a General Council should be called for the adjusting of this matter. This accepted, Adrian the then Pope, and it is said, the other patriarchs, were summoned to attend it. But as to the other three, * it is certain, that if the letters were sent, they were never received ; or if received, there were none of them then present in person, nor by their legates. And Adrian excused himself with great submission by letter ; but sends, as his deputies, Peter, archbishop of St. Peter's, in Rome, and another Peter, abbot of St. Saba; and the Council was summoned to sit at Constantinople. But when it was perceived that Adrian and the empress designed to restore images, the other party came in great numbers to the place, where the Council was assembled, and forced them to rise and disperse, almost as soon as they were set down. And their zeal was so great, that the bishops durst not meet again of one whole year; and after that they were driven to assemble at Nice in Bithynia, (where the first General Council had been held.) Being thus at last met at Nice, Tarasius, the new-made bishop of Constantinople, with the Pope's legates, and two monks representing the Eastern patriarchs, managed the assembly: and after the reading of the Emperor's letter (before they had proved their opinion intended to be established), in the first action they made divers bishops (who had signed the former Council against images) recant, and so restored them. In the second action they read Pope Adrian and Tarasius's letters for image-worship. In the third action they read Tarasius's letter to the Eastern patriarchs, and their answers. In the fourth and fifth actions they attempted to confirm the adoration of images, by some kind of quotations out of the ancients ; and by answering some allegations to the contrary. In the sixth action they read the arguments used by the former Synod at Constantinople against image-worship; and with them the Council's answer to the several paragraphs. In the seventh action they make their decree for adoration of images. In the eighth and last action they make divers canons for ecclesiastical discipline, and write some synodical epistles ; and so the Council broke up at Nice, but adjourned to Constantinople,
where all that had been done was read to the empress
and her son, who confirmed their decrees; as did also Pope Adrian afterwards.
Now in the following discourse, we will first examine what kind of persons they were, who first established this doctrine and practice, and then observe what grounds and reasons they went upon ; as also what regard was had to their determination in that, and the succeeding ages ; which we will dispatch with as much clearness and brevity as the matter will allow.
Of the Persons who defended Image-worship, especially in this
The first patron of this opinion mentioned in the Council is Pope Gregory II. who writ two letters to the emperor Leo Isaurus, which are printed at the beginning of the Acts; and we need no other character of him, than we may select from these letters ; wherein he gives us a specimen of his manners in calling the Emperor an unlearned and thick-skulled man, and upbraids him with his great stupidity it and yet the Emperor was none of his image-worshippers, whose dull, simple, and gross minds (as this Pope saith) needed such representations to raise them up to the things represented ;I and history describes him as a prudent and discreet prince. But Pope Gregory himself seems not to abound too much in ingenuity, for he describes a known heretic to be “ one that is known to few, and not to many : "§ and he mistakes Bezaleel for one of the tribe of Dan, who was certainly of the tribe of Judah.|| Yea, so little was he versed in Scripture, that he takes Hezekiah, who broke the brazen serpent to pieces, to have been the same man with his great grandfather Uzziah, who would have executed the priests office, though he began to reign eighty-four years before Hezekiah. A like instance of his infallibility he gives, in affirming that “ David sanctified the brazen serpent, and brought it into the temple :
* Concil. tom. vii. p. 10. D. † Ibid. p. 14. C. * Ibid. p. 14. D. ♡ Ibid. p. 15. E.
|| Ibid. p. 11. B. Exod. xxxi. 1, 2. q Ibid. p. 15. A. 2 Chron. xxvi. 16. and 2 Kings xviii. 4. ** Ibid. p. 15. B.
whereas it is well known David was dead before the foundation of the temple was laid. His loyalty also bore proportion to his learning; for he tells us, “he prayed to Christ, that he would send the devil to take the Emperor :”* and this he fancied to be imitating St. Paul, in delivering the incestuous Corinthian to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that his soul might be saved. He argues notably indeed, that “Emperors ought not to meddle with electing clergymen, because bishops ought not to concern themselves with the palace, nor dispose of royal dignities.”+ Yet the prefacer to the Council tells us, “he deprived the Emperor of the government of Italy:"I and Zonaras saith, “he forsook his allegiance to the Emperor, and made a league with the Franks."'s And we may be confident he did not hold the doctrine of nonresistance. For being very angry that the Emperor had ordered an image of Christ to be demolished; which he calls “ breaking the Saviour to pieces ; || he challenges him to come to Rome, if he durst, and break the image of St. Peter, which all the Western kingdoms took for an earthly god ; threatening him, if he did, he would be revenged on him by his Western friends.”| If we would know more of this Popę, we may read that ridiculous book of Dialogues, from whence this Gregory was called the Dialogist, which is falsely ascribed to Pope Gregory I.; but the fables are so gross, and the style so mean, that it is far more like to be the work of this patron of images.
As to those bishops who sat in this Council, the Acts do not speak them to have been any great clerks. Tarasius, the patriarch of Constantinople, had lately been a lay-courtier, and yet was the chief orderer (if not the president) of this venerable assembly.** Pope Adrian at first, it seems, thought him unfit to be a bishop ; but when he joined with him in image-worship, he then consented to his election.tt Yet they who made him a bishop, could not make him a divine ; as appears by his arguing, “that it is the same thing in doctrines to err in a little matter, as a great; for by either of them the law of God is disannulled.” II By which maxim, Papias's thousand years reign, and St. Cyprian's opinion of re-baptizing heretics, would be as great heresies as those of
* Ibid. p. 27. B.
# Ibid. p. 3. D. Ś Zonar. vita Leon. Isauri. || Ibid. p. 19. A. Ibid. p. 22. A. ** Ibid. p. 35. A.
tt Ibid. Act. 2. p. 118. D. ## Ibid. Act. 1. p. 78. E.
Arius and Macedonius. And perhaps it was upon this same principle that he elsewhere affirms, "Taking money for ordination, or simony, is as great a heresy as that of Macedonius, who denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost.”* One of their authors, here quoted with applause, hath this sinewy comparison, “ Even as he that affronts the Emperor's image, is punished as though he affronted the Emperor, though the image be wood or coloured wax ; even so he that dishonours the image of any man, dishonours him whose figure it is, t which is idem per idem." That bishop was no deep Rabbi, who being to prove that a man who had sworn to the devil that he would not worship an image, was not obliged to keep his oath, cites Zech. viii. 17: “Ye shall love no false oath ;” and thence notably infers, “our false oaths are therefore not to be heeded, being of no force.” I John, the legate of the Oriental diocese, had but very small skill in the Oriental tongues, or else he would not have erred so very grossly in the etymology of Israel, which he says signifies “the mind-seeing God.” And if the whole Council joined in making that answer to the former Synod against images, they were much overseen in saying, “The blessed Virgin Mary was by nature the mother of God.”|| Whereas she confesses, and all men know, it was a high grace and special favour in God to choose her for the mother of his Son : but no doubt they perceived the ignorance
of bishops in that age, when they made a canon in this very Council, that “he who was to be promoted to a bishopric, should be very well acquainted with his Psalter, that so he might be able to instruct his clergy in it; and that the metropolitan should strictly examine whether he were sufficient to read the Canons, the Gospel, the Epistles, and the rest of the Scriptures (which were then and there in the vulgar tongue) discreetly and not imperfectly." We cannot doubtless but have a mighty respect for doctrines brought in by these bishops, since our age hath school-boys better qualified; and we cannot but pity those learned men, who are now obliged to defend what mere ignorance then produced.
* Ibid. Act. 8. p. 630. E.
Ibid. Act. 4. p. 254. E. || Ibid. Act. 6. p. 542. E.
+ Ibid. Act. 4. p. 247. E.
§ Ibid. Act. 4. p. 199. D. Ibid. Act. 8. Can. 2. p. 595. E.