Opinions of the Church of Italy during the ninth century.


WE are now come to the ninth century, wherein after this diocese had been subject to several princes it came into the hands of Charles the Great and his successors. We have already seen how the Prelates of this diocese, at the Council of Francfort, opposed themselves to superstition, which then began to gather strength. But we shall perceive this more clearly in the sequel of this discourse. It cannot be denied, but that the state of the Church in general was, as it were, wholly overthrown. Angilbertus, Bishop of Milan, gives us a most sad representation of it, in the relation which he gives to Ludovicus Pius.

“To our great sorrow,” saith he, “we have found, that scarce ought of holiness or sincerity is left in the Church, and the corruptions are crept into it;” which afterwards he instanceth in particular: and I doubt not but Italy had her share of the infection. Indeed superstition could not but increase under the shelter of so profound a negligence of the pastors, as did then obtain: but the Divine providence was pleased to provide a remedy against it by means of Claudius, Bishop of Turin. And since Claudius had a great share in defending of the truth in this diocese of Italy, where God had placed him, and that by this means he has been extremely exposed to the calumnies of the Romish party; it will be very well worth our pains, to represent here these three things, his character, his writings, and his opinions.

This Claudius was born in Spain; he had been a disciple of Foelix, Bishop of Urgel; he was for some years in the court of Ludovicus Pius amongst his Chaplains; and being endowed with great talents for a preacher, when Lewis was advanced to the empire, he caused him to be ordained Bishop of Turin. It will probably be imagined, that he had borrowed from Foelix, Bishop of Urgel, the companion of Elipandus, the opinions of Nestorianism: but whosoever thinks so, will find himself mistaken; for his character of a great preacher, which had procured him the esteem of the Emperor, and his long continuance in Lewis’s court, during the life of Charles the Great, a court where that opinion, since the condemnation of Foelix and Elipandus, at Francfort, in 794, was very much had in detestation, are sufficient to purge him from any such suspicion. But over and above all this, his writings upon the Scripture show him to have been very far from that opinion; for we find in several passages unquestionable evidences of his orthodox judgment in this point. What he saith upon the 25th of St. Matthew, verse 31. is decisive in this matter; and yet he expresseth himself more strongly, if it be possible, on Matthew 22. verse 2. Neither is it less easy to purge him of another calumny, which was east upon him after his death, by Jonas, Bishop of Orleans, who, in his preface to king Charles the Bald, accuseth him for having endeavored to revive the sect of Arius. I thought at first, that this was only a fault of the transcriber, who had writ Arius for Aerius; but the manner of Jonas’s expressing himself has made me retract my first conjecture: however, it is no less easy to refute this calumny, than it was to clear him from the first suspicion. In a word, we do not find any thing like it in so many books writ by him, and we find that which is contrary to it on Matthew 12. verse 25. Let them make out to us, that any such thing was found amongst his papers after his death, as Jonas seems to insinuate, and we shall believe that Jonas was not over apt to give credit to those men, whose only aim was to bespatter the reputation of Claudius, and to make it odious and detestable to posterity, because he cried down their superstition and idolatry. Except they perform this, we must still look upon this accusation as a mere calumny.

As for the works of this great man, we may affirm, there were few in his time who took so much pains to explain the Scripture, or to oppose themselves against the torrent of superstition.

He wrote three books upon Genesis in the year 815. He made a commentary on St. Matthew, which he published the same year, dedicating it to Justus, Abbot of Charroux.

He published a commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians in the year 816, and dedicated it to Dructeramnus, a famous abbot, who had exhorted him to write comments upon all St. Paul’s Epistles. He wrote a commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, which he dedicated to Ludovicus Plus, who commanded him to comment upon St. Paul’s Epistles; which dedicatory epistle of his has been published by Mabillon.

He made a commentary upon Exodus, in four books, which he published in the year 821, dedicating them to the Abbot Theodemirus. He made also another on Leviticus, which he published in the year 8:23, and dedicated it to the same Abbot. Oudin tells us, he hath seen a commentary of his on the Book of Ruth, in a library in Hainault. Of all these his works, there is nothing printed but his commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians. The monks of St. Germain have his commentary upon all the Epistles in MS. in two volumes, which were found in the library of the abbey of Fleury, near Orleans. They have also his MS. commentaries on Leviticus, which formerly belonged to the library of St. Remy at Rheims. As for his commentary on St. Matthew, there are several MS. copies of it in England, as well as elsewhere. We may judge in what credit and esteem the doctrine of Claudius was at that time, by the earnestness wherewith the Emperor Ludovicus Plus, and the most famous Abbots of those times, pressed him to explain the holy Scripture in his writings. We may also conclude the same, from his being promoted to the episcopal dignity in a place where the superstition in reference to images obliged the Emperor to provide them with a Bishop that was both learned and vigorous; for Jonas of Orleans cannot dissemble, but that it was upon this very consideration, that the Emperor made a particular choice of Claudius to be consecrated Bishop of Turin.

Moreover, this see was not an ordinary bishopric, but a very considerable metropolis in the diocese of Italy; but it was not till some time after, that the title of Archbishops was bestowed upon Metropolitans. The time wherein he was advanced to the episcopal dignity is not certainly known. Father Le Cointe conjectures, very probably, that it was in the year 817. But whether that be so or no, sure it is, that Claudius, in his illustration of the Scripture, plainly showed himself to be very free from those errors which at this day are in vogue in Romish communion. We need only read his commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians, to assure us, that he every where asserts the equality of all the Apostles with St. Peter, though the occasions seemed naturally to engage him to establish the primacy of St. Peter, and that of his pretended successors. This we find in ten several passages of that commentary; he only declares the primacy of St. Peter to consist in the honor he had of founding the Church both amongst the Jews and Gentiles, p. 810. And indeed every where throughout his writings he maintains, that Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church.

He overthrows the doctrine of merits in such a manner as overthrows all the nice distinctions of the Papists on that subject.

He pronounces anathemas against traditions in matter of religion: so far was he from giving occasion to others to suspect, that he made them a part of the object of his faith, as the Church of Rome at present doth.

He maintains, that faith alone saves us, which is the point that so extremely provoked the Church of Rome against Luther, who asserted the same thing.

He holds the Church to be subject to error, opposite to what at this day the Romanists pretend in so unreasonable a manner.

He denies, that prayers after death may be of any use to those that have demanded them.

He very smartly lashed the superstition and idolatry, which then began to be renewed, being supported by the authority of the Roman see.

These things we find in his commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians; but the other writings of this great man, manuscript and printed, show us yet more of his mind. Indeed, we find him giving very public marks of his zeal for the purity of religion in several points. First, he proposeth the doctrine of the Church, in reference to the Eucharist, in a manner altogether conformable to the judgment of antiquity, following therein the most illustrious doctors of the Christian Church, and showing that he was, as to that matter, at the farthest distance from the opinions which Paschasius Radbertus advanced eighteen or nineteen years after that Claudius had writ his commentary upon St. Matthew. Claudius’s own words, as they were taken from a MS. of M. Theyet, are these: Coenantibus autem els, accepit Jesus panere, et benedixit ac fregit, deditque discipulis suis, et air, Accipite et comedite, hoc est corpus meum. Finitis paschac veteris solenniis, qua in commemorationem antiqua de AEgypto libemtionis populi Dei agebantur, translit ad novum, quod in sure redemptionis memoriam Ecclesiam frequentare volebat : ut videlicet etpro came agni ac sanguine sui corpotis sanguinisque sacramentum substitueret, ipsumque se esse monstraret, cui juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum, Tu es sacerdos in actemum secundum ordinem Melchisedec. Frangit autem ipse panem quem discipulis porrigit, ut ostendat corporis sui fractionem non absque sua sponte ac procuratione venturam; sed sicut alibi dicit, potestatem se habere ponendi animam suam, et potestatem se habere irerum sumendi eam. Quem videlicet panem certi quoque gratia sacramenti, priusquam frangeret benedicit. Quia naturam humanam quam passurus assumpsit, ipse una cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto gratia divince virtutis implevit. Benedixit panere, et fregit, quia hominem assumptum ita morti subdere dignatus est, ut et divince immortalitatis vemciter inesse potentJam demonstraret, ldeoque velocius eum a morte resuscitandum esse doceret. Et accipiens calicem, gratias egit, et dedit illis, dicens, Bibire ex hoc omnes. Cum appropinquare passioni dicitur, accepto pane et calice, gratiam egisse perhibetur; gratias itaque egit qui flagella alienoe iniquitatis suscepit. Et qui nihil dighum percussioni exbibuit, humiliter in percussione benedixit. Ut hinc videlicet ostendat, fuid unusquisque in fagello culpac propriac facere debeat: si ipse acquanimiter fiagella culpac portat alienoe; ut hinc ostendat, quid in correptione faciat subditus, si in dqagello positus Patti gratias agit aqualis. Hic est enim sanguis meus novi testamenti, qui pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Quia panis corpus confirmat, vinum vero sanguinem opemtur in came; hic ad corpus Christi mystice, illud refertur ad sanguinem. Verum quia et nos in Christo, et in nobis Christum manere oportet, vinum Dominici calicis aqua miscetur. Attestante enim Johanne, aquae populi sunt. Et neque aquam solam, neque solum vinum, sicut nec granum frumenti solum sine admixtione aquae et confectione, in panem cuiquam licet offerre, ne videlicet oblatio talis quasi caput a membro secemendum esse significet, et vel Christum sine nostrac redemptionis amore pati potuisse, vel nos sine illius passione salvari ac Patri offerri posse confingat. Quod autem dicit, Hic est sanguis meus novi testamenti, ad distinctionem respicit veteris testamenti, quod hircorum et vitulorum est sanguine dedicatum; dicente inter aspergendum legislatore, Hic est sanguis testamenti, quod mandavit ad vos Deus. Necesse est enim exemplaria quidem verorum his mundari; ipsa autem coelestia meloribus hostiis quam istis, juxta quod Apostolus per totam ad Hebracos Epistolam, inter Legim distinguens et Evangelium, pulcherrima ezpositione ac plenaria ratione declarat. Dicto autem vobis, Non bibam amodo de hoc genimine vitis usque in diem illum cum illud bibam vobiscum novum in regno Patris mei. Vitem sive vineam Domini appellatam esse synagogam, et omnis sparsim Scriptura et apertius testatur Isaias in cantico de illo cantato, Vinea, inquiens, Domini Saboath, domus Isracl est. De qua nimirum vinea Dominus multo temport bibebat, quamvis pluribus ramis in amaritudinem vitis alienac conversis, quod tamen etsi multis in illa plebe exorbitantibus a recto fidei itenere, non defuere plurimi toto Legis tempore, quorum piis cogitationibus summisque virtutibus delectaretur Deus. Verum passo in came Domino, ac resurgente a mortuis, tempus fuit ut legalis illa et figuralis observatio cessaret, atque ea quae secundum litemm gerebantur, in spiritalem translata sensum, melius in novum testamentum, juvante Sancti Spiritus gratia, tenerentur. Iturus igitur ad passionem Dominus ait, Jam non bibam de hoc genimine vitis usque in diem illum cum illud bibam vobiscum novum in regno Patris mei. Ac si aperte dicat, Non ultra camalibus synagogac ceremoniis delectabor, in quibus etiam ista paschalis agni sacra locum tenuere praccipuum: aderit enim tempus meac ressurrectionis: aderit dies ille cum ipse in regno Dei positus, id est, gloria vitac immortalis sublimatus, de salute populi ejusdem fonte gratiac spiritalis regenemti, novo vobiscum gaudio perfundar Item quod ait, Non bibam amodo de hoc genimine vitis usque in diem illum cum illud bibam boviscum novum in regno Patris mei, vult intelligi hoc vetus esse, cum illud novum dicit; quia ergo de propagine Adam, quivetus homo appellatur, corpus suscepemt, quod in passione morti traditurus emt: unde etiam per vini sacramentum commendat sanguinem suum, quid aliud novum vinum nisi immortialitatem renovatiorum corporum intelligere debemus? Quod cum dicit, Vobiscum bibam, etiam ipsis resurrectionem corporum ad induendam immortialitatem promittit. Vobiscum enim non ad idem tempus, sed ad eandem innovationem dictum, accipiendum est. Nam et nos dicit Apostolus resurrexisse cum Christo, ut spe rei futurac jam lactitiam pracsentem affemt: quod autem de hoc genimine vitis etiam illud novum esse dicit, significat utique eadem corpora resurrectura secundum innovationem coelestem, quae nunc secundum vetustatem moritura sunt. Si hanc vitem de cujus vetustate nunc passionis calicem bibit, ipsos Judacos intellexeris, significatum est etiam ipsam gentem ad corpus Christi per nvitatem vitac accessuram; cum ingressa plentitudine gentium, omnis Isracl salvus fiet. Et hymno dicto exierunt in montem Oliveti; hoc est quod in Psalmo legimus, Edent pauperes, et saturabuntur; et laudabunt Dominum qui requirunt eum: Potest autem et hymnus etiam ille intelligi quem Dominus secundum Johannem Patri gratias agens decantabat, in quo et pro seipso, et pro discipulis, et pro eis qui per verbum eorum credituri erant, elevatis oculis sursum precabatur. Et pulchre discipulos sacramentis sui coporis ac sanguinis imbutos, et hymno piac intercessionis Patri commendatos, in montem educit Olivarum, ut typice designet nos per acceptionem sacramentorum suorum, perque open suac intercessionis, ad altoria virtutum, ut carismate Sancti Spiritus in corde pergungamur, conscendere debere.

“The Apostles being sate down at table, Jesus Christ took bread, blessed and brake it, and gave of it to his disciples, saying to them, Take this and eat it, this is my body. The ancient ceremonies of the ancient Passover, which were used in memory of the deliverance of the people of Israel, being finished, he passeth on to the new, because he would have the same to be celebrated in his Church in commemoration of the mystery of her redemption, and to substitute the Sacrament of his body and of his blood, instead of the flesh and blood of the paschal lamb, and to show that it was he himself to whom God had sworn, and shall never repent of it; Thou art the eternal Priest according to the order of Melchizedeck.

Moreover, he himself breaks the bread which he gives to his disciples, that he might represent and make it appear, that the breaking of his body would not be contrary to his inclination, or without his willingness to die: but, as he saith elsewhere that he had power to give his life, and to deliver it up himself, as well as to take it again, and raise himself from the dead. He blessed the bread before he broke it, to assure us, that he intended to make a Sacrament of it; and forasmuch as he had taken human nature upon him, that he might suffer, he with his Father and the Holy Spirit filled the same with the grace of a virtue which was altogether divine; and because he was pleased to submit the human nature he had taken upon him, to death, he would make it appear, that the said humanity was possessed of a true and natural power to raise itself: whereby he taught us, that the same would rise more readily from the dead. And taking the cup, he gave thanks to his Father, and gave it them to drink, saying, Drink ye all of it. When he drew near to the time of his death and passion, it is said, that having taken the bread and the cup, he gave thanks to his eternal Father. He therefore who had taken upon him to expiate the iniquities of others, gave thanks to his Father, without having done any thing that was worthy of death: he blesseth it with a profound humility, at the very time that he saw himself loaden with stripes; without doubt to instruct us, what every one of us ought to do when we find ourselves lashed with the whip and sting of our conscience: for, if he who was innocent endured with meekness and tranquility the stripes due to the iniquity of others; this was to teach and instruct us what he ought to do that is obnoxious, when he is corrected for his own transgressions. If he suffered with an equal mind the scourge due for the sins of others, this teaches us what a subject ought to do when under the Divine corrections; when he who is equal to the Father gave thanks to him when under his scourges: For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for you all, for the remission of sin; because he assures us, that the bread becomes his body, and that the wine doth operate and produce his blood in the flesh. The bread represents to us his mystical body, and the wine is the symbol of his blood. But, because we must abide in Christ, and Christ must abide in us, we mingle water with the wine in the cup of the Lord. And, as St. John witnesseth, the people are water, and it is not permitted to any body to offer water alone, no more than the wine alone; in like manner as it is forbidden to offer the grains of wheat, without their being mingled with water, and so reduced to bread, for fear lest such an oblation might signify, that the Head ought to be separated from its members, and that Jesus Christ could have suffered, without an extreme love and desire of our redemption; or that this oblation did not give us ground to believe, that we might be saved, or offered up to his Father without the mystery of his passion. As for his saying, This is my blood of the new testament, it is that we might make a distinction between the new covenant and the old, which was consecrated with the effusion of the blood of goats and oxen, as the Lawgiver said at the sprinkling of it; This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you: for it is necessary that the patterns of true things should be purified by these; but that the heavenly places should be purified with more excellent sacrifices, according to what the Apostle St. Paul declares throughout his whole Epistle to the Hebrews, where he makes a distinction between the Law and the Gospel. He declares, by an excellent and ample explication, Verily, verily, this I say unto you, I will drink no more of the vine, till I shall drink it new in the kingdom of my Father. The whole Scripture openly declares, that the synagogue is called the Vine of the Lord; the Prophet Isaiah openly sets this forth in his song, where he speaks of it in these words; The house of Israel is the Lords Vine. It is indeed of this vine that the Lord drank large draughts, though many branches thereof were infected with the bitterness of a strange Vine; and though in the mean time many of the people are gone astray from the true way of the faith, yet there were still found a great many, during the whole time of the Law, who glorified God by their holy and godly thoughts, and by the practice of their heroical virtues. But Jesus Christ having suffered in the flesh that was capable of suffering, and being raised from the dead, the time is come that hath put an end to these legal and figurative observations: all those things that were observed according to the letter, have been changed into a spiritual sense, and have been confirmed in the new testament by the grace of the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ then going to suffer, saith, I shall drink no more of this juice of the vine, until the day that I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father. As if he had plainly said, I will no longer take delight in the carnal ceremonies of the synagogue amongst the number of which the great festival of the paschal lamb was one of the chiefs for this shall be the time of my resurrection; that very day I shall be lifted up to the kingdom of heaven, that is to say, to the kingdom of a new life of immortality; I shall be filled together with you with a new joy for the salvation of my people, which shall be born again in the spring of one and the same grace. In like manner also when he saith, I shall not drink of this juice of the vine, until the day that I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father, he would be understood of the old testament, when he calls it the new: and therefore since he had taken a body from the family of Adam, who is called the old man, and that this his body was now to be exposed to death; it is for this reason that by the sacrament of wine he recommends to us his blood. What are we to understand by this new wine but the immortality of our renewed bodies? For when he saith, I will drink it with you, he promiseth to them also the resurrection of their bodies, in order to their being clothed with immortality. For this word vobiscum (with you) must not be taken as spoken of the same time, but as importing that the disciples should in time to come be renewed, as well as he. For doth not the Apostle say, that we are all raised again with Christ, that our future resurrection might afford us present joy? And whereas he saith, of this juice of the vine, and calls it also new, this for certain signifies, that the same bodies must be raised again, according to the rules of an altogether heavenly renovation, though at present they must die, according to the old man. If you understand the Jews by this vine, from the oldness of which he at present now drinks the cup of his passion; it hath also been signified to us, that that nation must approach to the body of Jesus Christ by the change of a new life: The whole house of Israel shall be saved, together with all its company, which shall enter with them. After they had sung a hymn, they went to the mount of Olives. This is that which we read in the Psalmist, The poor shall eat and be filled; and they that seek the Lord shall praise him. This hymn may be also understood, according to the account St. John gives of it, to be that which Jesus Christ sang, when he gave thanks to his eternal Father, wherein he prayed for himself, for his disciples, and for all those who should believe at their preaching. And it is not without cause that he leads his disciples to the mount of Olives, after having fed them with the sacraments of his body and his blood, and after his having recommended them to his Father by the hymn of a tender intercession to inform us, without doubt, that it is by receiving of the sacraments, and by the assistance of his prayer, that we must come to the possession of heroical virtues, and that it is by this means alone, that we shall receive in our hearts the unctions of the Holy Spirit.”

We find by this extract, that he followed the notions of the primitive Church closely on this subject, and that the Church which bordered upon the mountains of the Alps did not entertain any opinions like those of Paschasius. We ought to observe here, as a thing natural and obvious, that if he endured some contradiction upon other articles, yet he never was impleaded about that of the Eucharist; which shows that that truth, at that time, was yet in possession of its own rights, and that those who quarreled with him about other articles, as Jonas, Bishop of Orleans, Dungalus, and the Abbot Theodemirus, were of his opinion about the matter of the Eucharist. For seeing his commentary upon St. Matthew was published in the year 815, and that Theodemirus continued still his friend in 823, pressing him to write on the Old Testament, it is evident, that till then nothing had interrupted the good correspondence that was between them.

Mabillon has published an extract from the end of his work upon Leviticus, dedicated to Abbot Theodemirus, which shows the great care that he took to withdraw those of his diocese from the hankering they had after the worship of creatures, and the troubles and crosses he had met with from those who were willing to defend their superstitions.

“Because you have commanded me to write these things, I have undertaken it, not as for your instruction, but for your satisfaction. But it is your duty to judge of it with more truth, and to stir up yourself by your examples, to the practice of a true charity, which is the most excellent of all virtues. And I assure myself, that I may more easily attain to the possession of that virtue by means of your prayers than by any strength of my own. See here, my dear brother, what I have here answered, as well as I could, to certain demands you have made of me. And I earnestly desire you on this occasion, that if you have discovered, or can find for time to come, any thing better, concerning the things about which you command me to write unto you, we shall take it very kindly, if you shall be pleased to communicate the same to us; for I am naturally more inclined to learn, than to teach others. For this beauty of the eternal

Truth and Wisdom God grant I may always have a constant will to enjoy her, for the love of whom we have also undertaken this work doth not exclude those that come unto her, because of the great number of hearers she hath; she grows not old by length of time; she minds not places; she does not suffer herself to be overtaken by night; she does not shut up herself in shadows, and doth not expose herself to our bodily senses: she is near unto all those that turn themselves to her froth all parts of the world, and who love her indeed; she is eternal to all; she is not limited by any places, she is every where; she advertiseth abroad, she instructs within, she changes and converts those that behold her; she doth not suffer herself to be violated by any person; no man can judge of her, nobody can judge well without her. In this idea of my faith, I separate all change and alteration from eternity; and in this eternity I discover no space of time, for the spaces of time are made up of future and past motions of things: now there is nothing past or future in eternity; for that which passeth ceaseth to be, and that which is to come has not yet begun to be: but as for eternity, it is that which is always present, nor ever has been, so as not to be present still; nor ever shall be, but so as still to continue present; because it is she alone that can say to the spirit of man, It is I who am the Lord; and it is of her alone we can say with truth, lie who is eternal has sent me.

“And since this is the case, we are not commanded to go to the creature, that we may be happy, but to the Creator, who alone can constitute our bliss; of whom if we entertain other opinions than we ought to have, we involve ourselves in a very pernicious error.

For as long as we shall endeavor to come to that which is not, or which, supposing it to be, yet doth not make us happy, we shall never be able to arrive at a happy life. A man doth not become happy because another is so; but when a man imitates another, that he may become such as he is, he desires immediately to become happy by the same means he finds another is become so, that is, by the enjoyment of this universal and unchangeable Truth. Neither can a man become prudent by the prudence of another, or valiant by the valor, or temperate by the temperance, or just by the justice of another; but by forming and fashioning his mind by the immutable rules and splendors of those virtues, which without alteration shine forth in this common universal truth and wisdom: in imitation of whom he formed and squared his manners whom we propose to ourselves as a pattern to imitate, and whom we look upon as a living copy of that eternal Wisdom. Our will fastening itself, and cleaving to this unchangeable and common good, affords the first, and great good things man is capable of, because she is a certain mean good. But when the will of man separates itself from this unchangeable and common good, and seeks her own particular good, or directs herself to any outward or inferior good, she sins.” After this he quotes an excellent passage of St. Austin, from his treatise concerning the True Religion.

“Wherefore we owe no religious worship to those who are departed this life, because thee have lived religiously; we must not look upon them as persons that require our adorations and homage, but they desire that he may be worthy of our respect, by whom they being enlightened rejoice to see us made partakers of their piety. We must therefore honor them, because they deserve to be imitated; but we must not worship them with an act of religion. And if they have lived wickedly, we do not owe them any respect at all, in what part soever of the world they be. That then which is honored by the highest angel must also be honored by the lowest of men, because the nature of man is become the lowest, for not having honored him. For an angel takes not his wisdom elsewhere than man does. The truth of an angel and that of man are both derived from the same fountain, that is, from one and the same eternal Truth and Wisdom. For by a pure effect of that eternal Wisdom it comes to pass, that the power of God, and that unchangeable Wisdom consubstantial and coeternal with the Father, hath vouchsafed, in order to the accomplishment of the adorable mystery of our salvation, to take our human nature upon him, that he might teach us, that we owe our adorations to him who alone deserves to be worshipped by all intelligent and rational creatures. We ought also to believe, that those good angels, which are the most excellent ministers of God, would have us to worship one only God together with them, by the alone vision of whom they are happy. For we are not happy in beholding the angels, neither can that vision ever make us so; but we shall be happy by beholding the Truth, by means of which we love the angels, and congratulate them. Neither do we envy their happiness, because they are more active than we, and because they enjoy the vision of God, without being molested with any trouble; but rather love them so much the more, because our hope puts us upon expecting something answerable to these their excellencies, from him who is the God of us both. Wherefore we honor them with our charitable respects, but not like slaves: we build no temples to them, neither will they be honored by us in any such manner, because they know that we, whilst we are good, are the temples of the living God.”

After his quoting of this passage, see how he concludes his work. “These things are the highest and strongest mysteries of our faith, and characters most deeply imprinted in our hearts. In standing up for the confirmation and defense of which truth, I am become a reproach to my neighbors to that degree, that those who see us do not only scoff at us, but point at us, one to another: but God, the father of mercies and author of all consolations, has comforted us in all our afflictions, that we might be able, in like manner, to comfort those that are pressed with sorrow and affliction: we rely upon the protection of Him who has armed and fortified us with the armor of righteousness and of faith, which is the tried shield for our eternal salvation.”

He seems in these words to allude to the complaints that had been made against him, at Ludovieus Pius’s court, for having broke down images throughout his diocese, and for writing, in defense of himself, a treatise against the adoration of images, the worship of saints, pilgrimages, the worship of relics, with other such like superstitions. And since the cruel diligence of the Inquisitors has destroyed this piece, we must guess at the time wherein he wrote it, from the account his adversaries give us thereof, viz. Theodemirus, Dungalus, and Jonas of Orleans, and search in their books for his true opinions, and the arguments he made use of against the defenders of superstition.

Dungalus wrote in the year 828, as appears clearly from what he mentions of the decree passed in Ludovicus Pius’s palace, after the assembly of Paris in the year 825, about the matter of images, as a tiling which happened two years before. In his book he accuseth Claudius for taking upon him, after eight hundred and twenty years and more, to reprove those things that were passed in continual use, as if there had been none before him that ever had any zeal for religion; from whence it is evident, that Claudius wrote since the year 820. It seems indeed as if he had answered the Abbot Theodemirus after the year 823, who had intimated to him the offense that was taken at his behavior and opinions, which he did so effectually as not to have any need to write another treatise upon the same subject.

However it is Dungalus himself who has preserved the extracts of the apologetical answer, which Claudius made about that time, to the Abbot Theodemirus; which apologetic he begins in this manner:

“I have received,” saith he to Theodemirus, “by a particular bearer thy letter, with the articles, wholly stuffed with babbling and fooleries. You declare in these articles, that you have been troubled that my fame was spread, not only throughout all Italy, but also in Spain, and elsewhere; as if I had formerly, and still do preach a new sect, contrary to the rules of the ancient Catholic faith, which is most absolutely false: neither is it any wonder at all, if the members of Satan talk of me at this rate, who have also called our Head a deceiver, one that hath a devil, etc. For I teach no new sect, as keeping myself to the pure truth, preaching and publishing nothing but that; but on the contrary, as far as in me lies, I have repressed, opposed, cast down, and destroyed, and do still repress, oppose, and destroy, to the utmost of my power, all sects, schisms, superstitions, and heresies, and shall never cease so to do, by the assistance of God, as far as I am able: for since it is expressly said, Thou shalt not make to thyself the resemblance of any thing, either in heaven or on earth, etc., this is not alone to be understood of the images and resemblances of strange gods, but also of those of celestial creatures.

“These kind of people, against whom we have undertaken to defend the Church of God, tell us, If thou write upon the wall, or drawest the images of Peter or of Paul, of Jupiter, Saturn, or of Mercury; neither are the one of these gods, nor the other apostles, and neither the one nor the other of them are men, and therefore the name is changed: and in the mean time, both then and now, the same ever continues still. Surely, if we ought to worship them, we ought rather to worship them alive, than as thou hast represented them as the portraitures of beasts, or (what is yet more true) of stone or wood, which have neither life, nor feeling, nor reason: for if we may neither worship nor serve the works of God’s hand, how much less may we worship the works of men’s hands, and adore them in honor of those whose resemblances we say they are? for if the image you worship is not God, (for not only he who serves and honors visible images, but also whatsoever creature else, whether heavenly or earthly, whether spiritual or corporal, he serves the same instead of God, and from it he looks for the salvation of his soul, which he ought to look for from God alone, and is of the number of those, of whom the Apostle saith, that they worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator,) wherefore dost thou bow to false images, and wherefore like a slave dost thou bend thy body to pitiful shrines, and to the work of men’s hands?

“But mark what the followers of the false religion and superstition do allege: they say, it is in commemoration and in honor of our Savior, that we serve, honor, and adore the cross, whom nothing pleaseth in our Savior, but that which was pleasing to the ungodly, viz. the reproach of his passion, and the token of his death. They witness hereby, that they perceive only of him what the wicked saw and perceived of him, whether Jews or Heathens, who do not see his resurrection, and do not consider him, but as altogether swallowed up of death, without minding what the Apostle saith, We know Jesus Christ no longer according to the flesh.

“God commands one thing, and these people do quite the contrary; God commands us to bear our cross, and not to worship it; but these are all for worshipping it; whereas they do not bear it at all, neither will they bear it either corporally or spiritually: to serve God after this manner is to go a whoring from him. For if we ought to adore the cross, because Christ was fastened to it, how many other things are there which touched Jesus Christ, and which he made according to the flesh? Did not he continue nine months in the womb of the Virgin? Why do not they then on the same score worship all that are virgins, because a virgin brought forth Jesus Christ? Why do not they adore mangers and old clouts, because he was laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling clothes? Why do not they adore fisher-boats, because he slept in one of them, and preached to the multitudes, and caused a net to be cast out, wherewith was caught a miraculous quantity of fish? Let them adore asses, because he entered into Jerusalem upon the foal of an ass; and lambs, because it is written of him, Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. But these sort of men would rather eat live lambs than worship their images. Why do not they worship lions, because he is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah? Or rocks, because it is said, And the Rock was Christ? or thorns, because he was crowned with them? or lances, because one of them pierced his side?

“All these things are ridiculous, rather to be lamented, than set forth in writing: but we are forced to set them down, in opposition to fools, and to declaim against those hearts of stone, whom the arrows and sentences of the word of God cannot pierce; and therefore we are fain to fling such stones at them. Come to yourselves again, ye miserable transgressors; why are you gone astray from truth, and why, being become vain, are ye fallen in love with vanity. Why do you crucify again the Son of God, and expose him to open shame; and by this means make souls by troops to become the companions of devils, estranging them from their Creator by the horrible sacrilege of your images and likenesses, and precipitating them into everlasting damnation?

“And as for your reproaching me, that I hinder men from running in pilgrimage to Rome; I will first demand of you yourself, whether thou knowest, that to go to Rome is to repent or do penance? If it be so indeed, why then hast thou for so long a time damned so many souls, whom thou hast kept up in thy monastery, and whom thou hast taken into it, that they might there do penance, obliging them to serve thee, instead of sending them to Rome, if it be so that the way to do penance be to go to Rome, and yet thou hast hindered them? What have you to say against this sentence, That. whosoever shall lay a stone of stumbling before any of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and he east into the bottom of the sea?

“We know very well, that this passage of the Gospel is very ill understood; Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: under the pretense of which words the stupid and ignorant common people, destitute of all spiritual knowledge betake themselves to Rome, in hopes of acquiring eternal life: for the ministry does belong to all the true superintendents and pastors of the Church, who discharge the same, as long as they are in this world; and when they have paid the debt of death, others succeed in their places, who enjoy the same authority and power. “Return O ye blind, to your light; return to him who enlightens every man that cometh into the world: all of you, as many as you be, who do not keep only to this light, you walk in darkness, and know not whither you go; for the darkness has put out your eyes. If we must believe God when he promiseth how much more when he swears, and saith, that if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, (that is, if the saints whom you call upon were endowed with as great holiness, as great righteousness, and as much merit, as these were,) they shall neither deliver son nor daughter: and it is for this end he makes this declaration, viz. that none might put their confidence either in the merits or the intercession of saints. Understand ye this, ye people without understanding? Ye fools, when will ye be wise? ye who run to Rome, to seek there for the intercession of an Apostle. What think you would St. Augustin say of you, whom we have already so often quoted,” etc.

“The fifth thing you reproach me for is, that it displeaseth thee that the Apostolic Lord (for so you are pleased to call the late Pope Pasehal deceased) had honored me with this charge; but forasmuch as the word Apostolicus dicitur quasi Apostoli custos, may intimate as much as the Apostle’s keeper, know thou, that he only is apostolic, who is the keeper and guardian of the Apostle’s doctrine, and not he who boasts himself to be seated in the chair of the Apostle, and in the mean time doth not acquit himself of the charge of the Apostle; for the Lord saith, that the Scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses’s chair.”

Now, because Jonas of Orleans had no other extracts out of the book of Claudius, besides those that had been already refuted by Dungalus, a recluse of the abbey of St. Denys, therefore he confines himself to refute the same opinions of Claudius, which he did only in the year 840, about a year after Claudius’s death; whereupon I desire the reader to consider,

First, that notwithstanding Dungalus and Jonas did both write by the order of kings, and that they make mention of a condemnation of Claudius passed in the palace, yet nothing of all this was able to shake the reputation of Claudius. He wrote against all these superstitions from the year 823, and did not die till the year 839; so that for sixteen years together he was only set upon by some particular persons, by an obscure and recluse Monk, who was a stranger to France, and who probably being an Italian took part with the Church of Rome, at that time engaged for the worshippers of idols.

Secondly, That the Fathers of the Assembly of Paris, in the year 825, had justified most of the principles maintained by Claudius, this great man having been only engaged to carry the matter farther than they; for being nearer to the diocese of Rome, he saw the danger so much the nearer, in which his flock were, of failing into idolatry.

Thirdly, That to go to the bottom of the matter, Agobardus, Archbishop of Lyons, pushed that point as far as Claudius himself; as appears from his treatise against pictures. It is a pleasure to see how Father Raynaud torments himself to justify Agobardus, whom the Church of Lyons honors as a saint, though he has made use of the same arguments that Claudius did, and given large testimonies of his being as vigorous an iconoclast as ever Claudius was. We may therefore assert, without rashness, that either all the fetchcs of Baronius and of F. Raynaud are not sufficient to keep Agobardus in the martyrology of Lyons; or, that they serve very profitably, at the same time, to enrol Claudius in that of the Church at Turin, as a most holy and most illustrious Bishop, because of his doctrine, his ardent piety, and the great care he took to oppose the spirit of superstition, which reigned so much at that time.

Fourthly, After all, we may say, that neither Dungalus nor Jonas of Orleans maintained the opinion of the Church of Rome that was then: Jonas makes mention of the Pope’s party., as a party not wholly cut off from the communion of the Church; but his expressions are so sharp, that it appears he had little better opinion of them. They condemn all manner of worship of images, and stick close to the decisions of Francfort, in the year 794, and of Paris, 826, which were diametrically opposite to the definitions of the iconolatrae, or worshippers of images, and to the pretensions of the Bishop of Rome, who had admitted of them.

It was worth our while to take notice of these opinions of Claudius, and of the manner of his reforming his diocese, that we might make it appear, that he laid solid principles of the Reformation in those parts, as to several points. And this was the more necessary, because the Papists, as Genebrard, in his Chronology, and Rorenco, have owned, that the valleys of Piedmont, which did belong to the bishopric of Turin, preserved the opinions of Claudius in the ninth and tenth century.

We ought to observe two things, which very well deserve an exact reflection; the first is, that Angilbertus, Bishop of Milan, is constantly represented to us by Ripamontius, by Ughellus, and those who have wrote the history of that diocese, as one who began to separate himself from the Pope by a kind of schism, which they highly lament, as bordering upon rebellion, which they own to have lasted above two hundred years. But the case is not so as they are pleased to represent it to us: the truth is, that that Prelate preserved his liberty against all the Pope’s endeavors, wherein he was imitated by his successors, who seem to have had no more value than he had for the Decretals of the ancient Popes, which were foisted in by the care and emissaries of the Roman see, in order to submit the rights and privileges of other Churches to her.

The second is, that though the emulation which was between the Bishops of Milan and Aquileia was an occasion of great contests between them, yet we find, that the diocese of Aquileia was no more united with that of the. Pope, during the time of the controversy concerning the Procession, ex utvoque [from both] under Nicolaus the First, and under Photius. This appears evidently from a letter of Photius, who having received at Constantinople a Bishop Legate from the Archbishop of Aquileia, wrote an answer to him, as to a man who was wholly of his opinion. Father Combefis has published this letter.


Home | Previous | Next