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for want of recollection, he would most readily have mentioned it, if the fact had permitted him. It is beyond all doubt, therefore, that he saw this to be the true kind of unity, which is most excellently described by Cyprian in the following passage: “ There is only one bishopric, of which every bishop holds an integral part; and there is but one Church, which is widely extended into a multitude by the offspring of its fertility. As the sun has many rays, but only one light; as a tree has many branches, but only one trunk, fixed on a firm root; and as many rivers issue from one spring, and notwithstanding the number of the streams in which its overflowing abundance is diffused, yet the unity of the source remains the same; so also the Church, illuminated with the light of the Lord, extends its rays over the whole earth, yet it is one and the same light which is universally diffused, nor is the unity of the body destroyed. It stretches its branches, it pours out its ample streams all over the world; yet there is but one root, and one source." Again, “ The spouse of Christ cannot be corrupted, she acknovaledges one master, and preserves her fidelity to him inviolate.” We see how he attributes the universal bishopric, which comprehends the whole Church, to Christ alone, and says that integral portions of it are confided to all those who discharge the episcopal office under this head. Where is the primacy of the see of Rome, if the universal bishoprie be vested in Christ alone, and every bishop hold an integral portion of it? My object in these quotations has been, to convince the reader, by the way, that this principle, which the Romanists assume as an admitted and indubitable maxim, namely, that the unity of the Church requires the supremacy of some earthly head, was altogether unknown to the ancients,
1 CHAPTER VII.
The Rise and Progress of the Papal Power to its present
Eminence, attended with the Loss of Liberty to the Church, and the Ruin of all Moderation,
In support of the antiquity of the primacy of the see of Rome, there is nothing to be found anterior to the decree of the council of Nice, by which the bishop of Rome is allotted the first place among the patriarchs, and is directed to superintend the neighbouring Churches. When the council makes a distinction between him and the other patriarchs, 50 as to assign to all their respective limits, it clearly does not constitute him the head of them all, but only makes him one of the principal. Vitus and Vincentius attended the council on the behalf of Julius, who at that time presided over the Church of Rome. They were seated in the fourth place. If Julius had been acknowledged as the head of the Church, would his representatives have been degraded to the fourth seat? would Athanasius have presided in a general council, where the form of the hierarchial system ought most particularly to have been observed? In the council of Ephesus, it appears that Celestine, who was then bishop of Rome, made use of a disingenuous artifice to secure the dignity of his see. For when he sent his legates thither, he requested Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria, who was otherwise to preside, to act on his behalf. For what purpose could this request be made, but that his name might, at any rate, occupy the first place? For his legates sat in a lower station, were asked their sentiments among others, and subscribed in their order; at the same time the patriarch of Alexandria, united Celestine's name with his own. What shall I
say the second council of Ephesus, where, though the legates of Leo were present, yet Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, presided as in his own right? They will object that this was not an orthodox council, because it condemned Flavianus, a
holy man, bishop of Constantinople, and acquitted Eutyches and sanctioned his heresy. But when the council was assembled, and the bishops took their respective seats, it is certain that the legates of the Roman Church were present among the others, as in a holy and legitimate council. Yet they contended not for the first place, but yielded it to another, which they would not have done, if they had considered it as belonging to them. For the bishops of Rome have never been ashamed of raising the greatest contentions for their dignity, and they have not hesitated, on this account alone, to harass and agitate the Church with various and pernicious controversies. But because Leo saw that it would be too presumptuous a demand to require the first place for his legates, therefore be waved it.
II. Next follows the council of Chalcedon, in which, by the permission of the emperor, the legates of the Roman Church occupied the first place. But Leo himself confessed that this was an extraordinary privilege. For when he requested it from Marcian the emperor, and Pulcheria the empress, he did not pretend it to be his right, but only alleged in support of his claim, that the Eastern bishops who presided in the council of Ephesus, had thrown every thing into consusion and abused their power. Since it was necessary therefore to have a discreet moderator, and it was improbable that those who had once been so unsteady and disorderly would be fit for the office, he requested that, on account of the misconduct and incompetence of the others, the task of presiding should be transferred to him. That which is sought as a special privilege and an exception to a common custom, certainly does not arise from a general rule. Where the only pretext is, that it was necessary to have a new president, because the former ones had violated their duty, it is evident that this had not been the case before, and it ought not to be perpetual, but was merely done in the contemplation of present danger. The bishop of Rome, therefore, had the first place in the council of Chalcedon, not because it was the right of his see, but because the council was in want of a discreet and suitable president, in consequence of those to whom that honour belonged having excluded themselves from it by their own intemperance and violence. And what I say, was proved in fact by Leo's successor. For when he sent his legates to the fifth council of Constantinople, which was held a considerable time after, he contended not for the first seat, but without any difficulty suffered it to be taken by Menna, patriarch of Constantinople. So in the council of Carthage, at which Augustine was present, the place of president was filled by Aurelius, archbishop of that city, and not by the legates of the Roman see, though the express object of their attendance was to support the authority of the Roman pontiff. And moreover there was a general council held in Italy, at which the bishop of Rome was not present. This was the council of Aquileia, at which Ambrose presided, who was then in high credit with the emperor. There was no mention made of the bishop of Rome. We see therefore that the dignity of Ambrose caused the see of Milan at that time to have the precedence above that of Rome.
III. With respect to the title of primacy, and other titles of pride, of which the pope now strangely boasts, it is not difficult to judge when and in what manner they were introduced. Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, makes frequent mention of Cornelius, who was bishop of Rome. He distinguishes him by no other appellation than that of brother, or brother bishop, or colleague. But when he writes to Stephen, the successor of Cornelius, he not only treats him as equal to himself and others, but even addresses him with considerable severity, charging him at one time with arrogance, and at another with ignorance. Since the time of Cyprian, we know what was the decision of the whole African Church on this subject. For the council of Carthage prohibited that any one should be called “ the prince of priests,” or “the first bishop,” but only “the bishop of the first see.” But any one who examines the more ancient records, will find that at that time the bishop of Rome was content with the common appellation of brother. It is certain that as long as the Church retained its true and uncorrupted form, all those names of pride, which in succeeding times have been insolently usurped by the Roman see, were altogether unknown; nothing was heard of a supreme pontiff, or a sole head of the Church upon earth. And if the bishop of Rome had been presumptuous enough to make any such assumption, there were judicious men who would immediately have repressed his folly. Jerome, being a Roman presbyter, was not reluctant to assert the dignity of his Church, as far as matter of fact, and the state of the times admitted; yet we see how he also reduces it to an equality with others. “If it be a question of authority,” he says, " the world is greater than a city. Why do you allege to me the custom of a single city? Why do you set up a few instances, which have given rise to pride, instead of the laws of the Church? Wherever there is a bishop, whether at Rome, at Eugubium, at Constantinople, or at Rhegium, he is of the same dignity and of the same priesthood. The power of riches, or the abasement of poverty, makes no bishop superior or inferior to another.”
IV. Respecting the title of universal bishop, the first contention arose in the time of Gregory, and was occasioned by the ambition of John, bishop of Constantinople. For he wanted to make himself universal bishop, an attempt which had never been made by any one before. In that controversy, Gregory does not plead against this as the assumption of a right which belonged to himself, but resolutely protests against it altogether, as a profane and sacrilegious application, and even as the forerunner of antichrist. He says, he who is called universal falls, the foundation of the whole Church sinks at once.” In another place, “ It is a most melancholy thing to hear with any patience, that our brother and companion in the episcopal office should look down with contempt on all others, and be called sole bishop. But what does this pride of his indicate, but that the times of antichrist are already at hand? For indeed he imitates him, who despising the society of angels, endeavoured to usurp supreme power to himself.” In another place, writing to Eulogius bishop of Alexandria, and Anastasius bishop of Antioch, he says, “None of my predecessors would ever use this profane word. For if one patriarch be called universal, the name of patriarch is taken away from all the