« ZurückWeiter »
It was this emperor who, by a formal edict, settled the precedency that had been so long contested by the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople ever since the foundation of the latter city, and in the most unequivocal and fullest manner declared the former prelate " the head of all the churches ;” thus fulfilling the language of this prophecy—"and the saints were given into his hands.”
This celebrated edict is couched in the fol. lowing terms:
“Victor Justinian, the Pious, the Fortunate, the Illustrious, the Triumpher; Augustus, Consul, &c.; to John, the most sacred Archbishop and Patriarch of our most noble city of Rome.
“Rendering honour to the Apostolic see, and to your Holiness (which always was and is our wish), and honouring your Holiness as a father, we have been anxious to bring to the knowledge of your Holiness all things which relate to the state of the churches; since it was always our great desire to maintain the unity of your Apostolic see, and that state of the sacred churches of God, which has hitherto obtained and still remains fixedly undisturbed by any opposition.
“Therefore we have hastened to subject and unite all the ministers of the East to the use of your Holiness.
“For the present, then, we have deemed it necessary to bring to the knowledge of your
Holiness the points that are disputed, although they are manifest and undoubted, and, according to the doctrine of your Apostolic see, firmly maintained and declared by all bishops. Nor do we permit that any disputed point concerning the state of the churches, although it be manifest and unquestionable, should be moved without the knowledge of your Holiness, who is THE HEAD OF ALL THE CHURCHEs. In all things, then, we are desirous of increasing the honour and authority of your Apostolic chair.”
The remaining part of this edict relates to various controverted points; and also mentions that the Archbishop of Constantinople had written to the Pope, “he being desirous in all things to follow the Apostolic authority of his Holiness.” Justinian likewise, in a letter to Epiphanius of the same date as this edict, repeats his decision, that all affairs relating to the church shall be referred to the Pope," head of all bishops, and the true and effective corrector of heretics."
But there are in this case, as in the former period of two thousand three hundred years, four edicts from which the commencement of this period of twelve hundred and sixty years might be supposed to be reckoned. The first was issued by the Emperors Gratian and Valentinian, in the year 379, and was “chiefly for the purpose of regulating appeals to the Roman Pontiff, and giving him jurisdiction over the whole Western empire, which was all comprehended within the prefectures of Italy and Gaul.”
The second was issued by the Emperor Valentinian III. in 445, and “confers upon the Pope the most extensive authority. It begins by expressly acknowledging his primacy, as founded on the three-fold basis of the merit of the Apostle Peter, the dignity of the Roman city, and the authority of a sacred synod. It declares that it shall neither be lawful for the Gallic bishops, nor those of the other provinces, to do any thing without the Pope; and that whatsoever the authority of the Apostolic see shall enact, shall be for a law to all.” (See Sir Isaac Newton, on Daniel and St. John, where both these edicts are given.)
The third edict is that above quoted, of the Emperor Justinian, issued in 533. And the fourth and last was from the tyrant Phocas, the murderer of the Emperor Maurice and his family, and was given A.D. 606; adjudging the palm of ecclesiastical supremacy to the Pope, rather than to the Primate of Constantinople; merely, however, confirming, as far as it went, the preceding edict issued by Justinian.
If we had to decide from any certain principles, à priori, which of these four edicts was designed to mark the commencement of Popery, the difficulty would be found to be very great ; as those of the Emperors Valentinian III. and Justinian are both almost equally full and conclusive. The difficulty however, if difficulty there be, can now only be between the third and fourth edicts; as the time for the accomplishment of the two former passed without any particular events transpiring (reckoning 1260 years) in 1638 and 1705. And in choosing between these two I feel no hesitation, with the great majority of modern commentators, in giving a preference to the one of the Emperor Justinian, rather than that of Phocas; and assigning the date of his edict, which was March 533, as the true and proper commencement of this period, and the time when the saints were delivered or
given” into the hands of the Pope ; and that for the following reasons :
1st. There is nothing in the original authorities for the decree of the Emperor Phocas—which authorities are the historians Paulus Diaconus, and Anastasius Bibliothecarius—consisting only of a few sentences, in themselves sufficiently meagre, at all to be compared to the full, and ample, and well-attested documents which are extant of the Emperor Justinian. Indeed, as Mr. Cuninghame observes, in giving the quotations which constitute what is called the Edict of Phocas, “there is no appearance in them of any new title having been conferred by this emperor, but merely a confirmation of the one
previously given by Justinian, which, in the contests for power between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople, may very probably in process of time have been disputed by the Eastern Patriarch. There is also no imperial decree or epistle, as in the time of Justinian; and I can scarcely conceive, that, after reading the document of Justinian, any impartial person, who has not a system to support, will, on the meagre testimony of Diaconus and Anastasius, maintain that the Papal supremacy had its origin in the reign of Phocas.”
On the contrary, by the mandates and edicts of Justinian the supremacy of the Pope, as head of all the churches, received the fullest sanction that could be given to it by the hand
It is probable, as Mr. Cuninghame supposes in the above quotation, that, the yoke sitting uneasy on the Bishop of Constantinople, he would dispute the pre-eminence. And it is indeed a fact that on the death of Justinian he did dispute it; for, towards the close of the century, John, surnamed the Faster, summoned a council, and resumed the ancient title of the see, “ Universal Bishop.” And it is equally certain that Phocas, who had assumed the purple by the murder of the former emperor, would be anxious to obtain the sanction of the Roman Pontiff to his elevation ; which he accordingly did, by confirming to him the full