Joseph Priestley.

A general history of the Christian church, from the fall of the western empire to the present time (Volume 2) online

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and his refolution to adhere to this profeffion as
long as he fhould live. This was the 26ih of

Being remanded to piifon, he was, on the 3oh
cf the fame moath, brought again before the coun-
cil, and beirtg reproached for his condu6t, he re-
plied with the greateil firmaefs, and prefcnce of
mind to every thmg thi t was advanced agaicofl him;
and peiTifting in his rtfufal to retra6l his opinions,
fentence was pronounced againll him as a heretic
relapfed, and he was delivered to the fecular
power. ■ Two days, however, being allowed hmi
to prepare for death, endeavours vvere ag u'n ufed
to induce him to recant, but to ao purpofe. He

H h 4 heard


heard the repetition of his fentence with achearful
countenance ; and as he went to the place of exe-
cution, recited the apoftles creed, the Htany, and
a hymn to the virgin Mary. When he faw the
wood that was prepared for his execution, he again
repeated the creed, and fufFered with the greateil
fortitude. His afhes were carefully gathered up,
and, like thofe of Hug, thrown into the river.


Of various Opinions, theological and moral, that
were the SubjeH of Difcajfwn in this Period,


HIS period, as well as the preced-
ing, produced much and fubtle fpeculation, and
confequently controverfy ; but the great dread of
here/y ferved to keep it within bounds, and pre-
vented difcuffions of the greateft confequen'ce within
the precinfts ot the Catholic church. Some of
the queltions that were then flarted are curious,
and deferving the notice of theologians and mo-
rahUs, who attend to the progrefs of the human


One of the moft interefting difcuffions within
the bounds of the CiUholic church in this period



was that which was'excited by pope John XXIII,
v/ho was well verfed in the theology of the times.
Being a man of reading and learning, he leaned to
the opinion ol the antient Chriflians concerning
ikejlate of the death, which was loll in the fuper-
ftition of later times. Notwithftanding the gene-
ral opinion of the exigence of a foul diftinft from
the body, it was not thought, during many cen-
turies after the Chriftian asra, that the fouis of the
moll virtuous went to heaven, to be with God arjd
Chrift, till after their union with their bodies at the
refurre6lion. An exception, however, was firft
made in favour of the fouls of martyrs, which were
thought to be intitled to peculiar privileges. With-
- out this they could never have become the objefts
of prayer ; and originally prayer was made^or the
dead, and not to them. At lenglh, however, it
came to be the univerfal opinion, that the fouis of
all good men went immediately to heaven after

This do£lrine, now univerfally received, was
called in queftion by this pope. In a fermon
which he preached in a. d. 1331, he faid, that the
faints will not enjoy the perfect vifion of God till
after the refiirreciion ; that till that time they were
" under the altai of. God, under the prote6lion
*' and confolation of the humanity of Chrift." This
gave great offence to many; and his enemies

' H h r among


atnong the Francifcans were eager to put this
dottri le in t'le number of hcrefies. So bold and
extraordinary was his dodrine thought to be, that
his friends faid, it was only advanced by him as an
opinion to be difcufied, and not as a certain truth ;
and no public notice was taken oi it for two years;
iho', probably, in order to gain favour with the
pope, fomc of the cardinals profeilcd to think a^
he did on the luhjcft.

A que fl ion fl.utcd by a pope was not likely to
pafs long without notice; and in the year a. d.
1333 an Engiilh Dominican, having preached
againll the pope's doflrine, was by his order put
in prifon. Notwithllanding this, it w-as generally
ccnfured by the univerfity of Paris, which was the
great fchool of theology in thcfe times. The un-
popularity of his doQrine in a place of fo much
confequence gave the pope no Imall alarm ; and
in order to counteradl the oppofers of his dodrine
there, he fenc two doctors ot diviniiy to Paris, one
a Francifcan. and the other a Dominican, tho' on
another pretence. But when one oi them delivered
a fennon in defence of it before many ot the ftu-
dents, his labours were very ill received. Such
an error, it was faid, ought not to pafs wiihout
puniflimcnt. T^ie kiug being not a little ditturbcd
at it, the pope wrote to him, to fjy that what he
had advanced was only to promote the dilcuflion



of a queflion concerning which difFerent Fathers
had held different opinions, but that the church
had not decided any thing about it.

This, however, was not fuflicient tofatisfy the
kin'T. He afifembled his doctors of theology at
Paris, and tr.ey, in writing, gave an opinion di-
reclly againfl that of fhe pope ; which giving him
ftili greater alarm, he aflembled the cardinals in
January a. d. 1335. and after reading to them va-
rious palTages of writers for and againft the opinion,
he declared that, if any thing that hs had advanced
was contrary to the fcriptures, or the Catholic faith,
it was not his intention, and he cxprefsly revoked

The king was not fatisfied with this. He told
the Francifcan who had preached at Paris, that he
was 3 heretic ; and if he did not rctraSJ- what he had
advanced, he would have him puniftied as a Pa-
tarin ; faying, he would not fufFer here fy in his
kingdom ; ai-id ihat if the pope himfelf fhould
maintain that opmion, he would condemn him in
the fame nianner; adding that, tho' a fimp'e lay-
man, he was a good Chriflian ; that it was in vain
to pray to the faints, or hope for falvation from
their merits, if they did not fee the divinity till the
day of judgment ; that, in this cafe, all indulgences
granted by thexhurch were vain, and confequent-
I7 that it overturned the Catholic faith.



Both the king of France and Robert of Naples
wrote to the pope on this occafion, repre;fenting to
him, that the' he had moved the quellion only
with a view to difcover the truth, he had done
more than became hjm as pope. It was enough
for him to decide queftions when they arofe. The
extreme unpopularity of the pope's opinion gave
the king of France iuch an afcendency over him,
that from this time he durll net refufe him any
thing. And juft before he died he affembled the
cardinals, and declared to them, that he believed
that fouls feparated from the body, and purified,
are in heaven in paradice, with Jefus Chiift, and
in the company of the angels, and that they fee
God and the divine elTence face to face, as much
as is coiilifLent with the fta:e of a feparate foul ;
and that if he had ever faid or preached otherwifc,
he retrafted it. That he realty changed his opi-
nion in confequence of the oppoiiticn it had met
with is not probable, and the laft claufe of his de-
claration rendered his retradtation ot no force.

His fuccetl'or Bciiedi£l had it much at heart to
determi;ie authoritatively the quellion about the
beatific vinon, which iiad been propofed by John.
He took the pains to compofe a treatife on the fub-
jed, retning from Avignon that he might" have
more leifure ior the pdrpofe. This he read in a
confiftory, to which he fummoned all thofe who



held the opinion of [ohn, but he could not expe£l
any oppofition on fach an occafion as that. This
work of Beoedia's is ftill preferved at Rome. Af-
ter this preliminary he the next year publilhed a
bull, in which it was declared, " that the fouls of all
«' the faints, when they are puriSed, even before the
<« refurreflion, go to paradice, and fee the divine
" effcnre wivh an intuitive vifionfaceto face, with-
'* out the inr^'vpofition of any creature; and that the
*' fouls of thofe who die in mortal fm go immedi-
*' ately to hell, and are tormented there."

The theologians of this age were generally great
logicians and metapbyficians, and iheir opinions
on thefe fubj e6ls were fometimes thought to border
on herefy ; and when they attracted any conhder-
able degree of public notice, it will be exptfted
that an hiftorian fhould give ir formation concern-
ing them, however infignificant they may be in

At the council of Vienne in a. d. 1311 fome
opinions of Ubertin de Cafai, a great admirer of
John de Oliva, and a perfon of much note among
the fpiritual Francifcans, were thought to be of
fo much confeqiience as to be publicly condemned
in its decrees. He afferted, that the divine eflence
engenders and is engendered, which was an opi-
nion of the abbot Joachim, condemned at the coun-
cil of Lateran in a, d. 1 2 1 5. He alfo mamtained



that the reafonable foul is not the fubflantial form
of the hum:\n body, which mull have been thought
to imply, that they had no proper conneclion.
For, in confeqnence of this, he v/as charged with
believing that fouls only can have merit or deme-
rit. He likewife alTcrted that children at baptifm
receive the remiffion of original fin only, and not
the graces and virtues.

In oppofition to thefe tenets, it was now de-
creed, that "the Son of God fubfifled eternally
" with the Father, in every thing by which the
** Father cxifled, that he took the parts of our
" nature united together, viz. a paffible body and
" a reafonable foul, which is the fubftantial form
*' of the body." It was alio decreed that " who-
*' foever fhould dare to maintain that the reafonable
*' foul is not the fubflantial form of the body, ought
*' to be conQdered as a heretic." Lallly, it was
*' declared to be *' the mofl probable opinion,
• *' that graces and virtues are conferred at baptifm,
*' to infants as well as to adults."

In A. D. 1329, John XXII condemned feve-
ral extraordinary prepofuions of Eccard, a Domi-
nican, among which were the following: " God
•' created the world as foon as he himfelf exifted ;
*' io that the world is eternal. Whateyer God gave
'•' to the Son :in his human nature, he gives to us,
*' even union with himfelf, and fapdification.



" Whatever the fcriptures i^dy of Jefu'? C mil is
*' true of every good chriflian. Whatever belongs
" to the divine nature belongs to him. God is fo
*' much cm. that he is v/iihcut any cIi[lin6tion, e-
•*•' ven of perfons." In what manner fuever Ec-
card mi:- ht explain'his afTertions. he was held in
gre^teiteem, as app'-ars by the writings of John
Thaulerus, another [3orninician, and famous a-
mong the rnyllical theologians, tho' what he fays
*' concerninp- tramformation into God refembles
" the lefinements of the Beghards of this time,
" and the Quiefeids in a later period.

We do not find in this period any controverfy
of the leafl: importance concerning the perion of
Chrifl ; but fome opinions that bear fome relation
to (he doctrines of the trinity and tranfubftantiati-
on, having engaged a great degree of attention at
the time in which they 'were advanced. deferve fome
notice of the hiftorian, tho' not ot the divine, at

In A. D. 1346, the doGors of Paris condemn-
ed the opinions o' John de Merceur, a Ciflerian,
fome of which were the following, f' Jefus Chrifl:
*' by his created will m.iy will fomething that will
*• never come to pafs. But in whatever manner
" God wills, he wills efficacioully ; fo that it a6lu-
"ally comes to pafs, even with iefpe6l to men, fo
*' that no perfon iins otherwife than as God wills."



In A. B. 1351, Francis Bailie, a Frahcifcan,
maintained that the blood of Chrifl fhed in his
padion was feparated from his divinity, and there-
fore was not to be adored with the worlhip of la-
iria, during the three days in which he lay dead.
A Dominican oppofed him in this, and Clement
VI, holding a folcmn allembiy on the occafion,
condemned the do£lrine of the Francilcan, and
obliged him to make a public recantation of it.

In A. D. 1371, complaint was made to Gre-
gory XI, of fome Dominicans in Spain advancing
in a fermon, that if a confecratcd hoft fell into the
dirt, or was eaten by mice, &c. it became mere
bread, the body of Chrifl leaving it, he forbad
preaching on the fubjeft, but did not decide the
queftion. Peter Lombard was alfo undecided on
the fubjecl, but Thomas Aquinas held that the
body of Chrift continues in the wafer in all events.
Some propofitions advanced by John de
Montfon, a Dominican of Catalonia, in a. d,
1307 had more ferious confequences. Being a
doctor in theology he maintained in the fchools,
that " the hypotlatical union in Jefus Chnlt is
•• greater than the union of the three perfons in
*' the divine cfTence. There may be a mt^re crea-
" ture more perfeft with refpe6l to merit than the
" foul of Jefus Chrift. The virgin Mary was not
<' exempted from original fm," Thefe, and fe-

*' veral


veral other propofitions of lefs confequence,
were firft condeinned by the univerfity of Paris,
and thien by Clement VII, who excommunicated
him for flving from his fentence. One of his fol-
lowers, William de Valon, bilhop of Evreux, af-
t€r being obliged to rctradl his opinions, fled to
Urban, and wrote a large tj'eatile in defence of his
right. This was the occafion of a great perfecu-
tion of the Dominicans in France, efpecially in
the Northern parts of the kingdom. Many of
them were imprifoned, no alms were given to them,
and they were forbidden to preach, or to hear
confefhons. The univerfity banilhed them intire-
ly, and they became the laughing flock of the com-
mon people, who called them Huets. This con-
tinued many years. Tiiofe who oppofed them
thought they did honour to the bleiTed rirgin ;
fo much had the opinion of her immaculate con-
ception then gained ground.

Scholars in this period were much divided into
the profeffed followers of Thomas Aquinas, who
was a Dominican, called Thojtiijis, and thofeof his
rival John Duns Scotus, a Francifcan, who were
denominated Scotijh. The points of difference
between them related to the nature of the divine
co-operation with the human will, the meafure of
grace neceflary to faivation, the unity of form in
man, or perfonai indenlity, and other fubtle
Vol. IV. I i queft.


queftions. But one ©f the principal differences
between the Dominicans and the Francifcans was
that the latter defended the doflrine of the imma~
culaie conception of the virgin Mary, which was op-
pofed by the former. At the council of Conflancc
in A. D. 1416 Gerl'on propofed that the contro-
verfy concerning the immaculate conception of the
virgin fhould be decided by that aflfembly. He was
not only an advocate for this doQrine, but alfo pro-
pofed to inftitute a feftival in honour of the im-
maculate conception of her hufband Jofeph.
Fleury, Vol. 21. p. 397.

In this age ot nice diflinftions and fubtle dif-
putation, the dodrines of grace and predejlination
were the fubjefts of fome difcuffions. In a. d.
1354 Gui, a hermit of St. Auftin, and other per-
fons in France and England, were condemned for
maintaining that " a man may fo merit eternal
" life, that God would be unjutt in not giving ifc
*' to him ; and that tho' there were no free will,
*-' there might be fm." In England fome held
that *' the firft man would have died, tho' he had
" not finned, that original fia does not make a man
" guilty, and others of a fimilar nature ;" which
fliews the dawning of good lenfe on thefe fubjefts.

At a council held at Canterbury in a. d. 1368,
the following opinions, of the fame general com-
plexion, were alfo condemned. " Ewoxy man

*' ought


*' ouaht to have the free choice of turning to God,
" or from him, and according to this choice he will
" be faved or damned. Baptifm is not ncceflary
♦* to the f^lvation of infants. No perfon will be
*' damned for original fin only. Grace, as it is
*' commonly explained, is an illufion, and eternal
*' life may be merited by the force of nature.
•' Nothing can be bad merely becaufe it is forbid-
*' den. The frait that Adam was forbidden to eat
" was forbidden becaufe it was in itfell bad. Man
'•' is necelTarily mortal, jefus Chrift included, as
*' vv^ll as other animals. All the damned, even
" the demons, may be reflored, and become happy.
*' God cannot make a reafonable creature impec-
*' cable." It was an honour to the age, and the
country, to produce fuch fentiments as thefe ; but
it was but a fudden blaze in the midft of much
thick darknefs, and, as far as appears, was foon,

In A. D. 1371 Albert, bifhop of Halberftadt,
taught that *' every thing comes to pafs necefiarily,
" according to the influence of the ftars." As he
was a dodor of the univerfily of Paris, many per-
fons, and efpecially of the nobility, adopted his
opinion, and in consequence of it ceafed prayino-
either to God, or the faints. This was a fufficient
call upon the pope to interfere, and he ordered
the inquifitors to oblige him to retra6l his opinion,

I i 2 and


and moreover to reprobate it in the mofl public

In A. D. 1376 the writings of Raymond Lulli,
not the Fiancilcan of that name (who difbnguifh-
ed himfeU by his writings, and more by dying in
his attempt to convert the Mahometans of Barba-
ry) bat a Jew pretended fo be converted, were cen-
fured by Gregory XI. He had advanced that
" God may be denied in public, provided he be
*' confeffed with the heart, and that the laws of
*' Aiihomst were as good as thofe of Jefus Chiift."
Ahrige. Chronoiogique del. H^J}. EccUa. in j4nn.
The continuator of Fleury and Mofheim fappofe
this Raymond Lulli to have been the fame with
the Francifcan, ,

The duke of Burgundy having afifafHnated the
duke of Orleans in the reign of Charles VI of
France, John Petit, a Francifcan, publifhed a trea-
tife in which he defended his conduct, on the
principle of its being lawful to kill a tyrant, even
tho' an oath had been taken to the contrary. But
the council of Conftance, at the inflance of Ger-
fon, without mentioning the writer, condemne4
the principle, as heretical, feditious, authorizing
treafon and perjury, and decreed that they who
maintained it fliould be confidered as abfli-
nate heretics,



The Greek church was not without its fliare
of controverfy in this period, any more than the
Latin, nor was the fubjeft of more confequence.
Barlaam of Calabria returning from Avignon, had
in A. D. 1343, a great difpute with fome monks of
Mount Atlas, at the head of whom was Gregory
Palamas. They pretended that by intenfe ads of
devotion they could, with corporeal eyes, fee a
divine light, and the fame that had appeared to
the apoftles, on the mount oi transfiguration ;
which light they maintained was the fame with
God himfclf. The Greek emperor not being abl^
to reconcile the contending parties, a council W'as
called at Conftantinople m June a. d. 1344, in
which the emperor himfell prefided along with the
patriarch John, when the dodrine of PabmaS
Was condemned. Notwithflanding this, the em-
prefs Ann, in order to mornfy the patriarch, with
whom fhe was at variance, encouraged Palamas
and his follov»'ers ; in coofcquence of which his
dotlrine fpread, and occalioned much difturbance,
the bilhop-aad clergy violently oppoGng them.
She even procured the depolition of the patriarch,
and the bifhops being affembled on the occahon,
declared that Palamas had fpokea like a good the-
ologian, liidore, a friend of Palamas, bemg made
patriarch, there uiis a fck^fm in the church ; the
biOiops in general alTembiiag, and excGmmunica-

I 1 3 ._.. ting


tinfT him. Similar excommunications were thiin-

deredfrom other quarters, as Antioch, Alexandria,

Trebifond, Cyprus, Rhodes, and other places ; and
tho' Paiamas himfelf was made bifhop of Thefla-
lonia, the people would not receive him, fo that
he retired to the ifle of Lemnos.

In A. D. 1351 the emperor Contacuzenus,
^vho favoured Palaraas, held a council, in which
his dotlrine of the light upon mount Tabor being
uncreated was confirmed, and feveral perfons who
were of the contrary opinion were depofed, not-
withftanding the oppofition of Nicephorui Grego-
ras. who wrote the hiflory of it. To make this
decree the more folemn, tbe emperor, mofl mag-
nificently dreffed, placed an account of it, drawn
up by Palaraas, with his own hand upon the al-
tar, together with another writing, in aafwer to
Barlaam and Acyndinus.




Mifcdlaneous Articles,

i. Offeveral Attempts to prccure an Union of the
Greek and Latin Churches.


.N" this period, as well as the preceding,
there were attempts to procure an union between the
rival churches of Rome and Conftantinople, all
anfing from the fame motive on the part of the
Greeks, and all having the fame end. The Greek
emperors wanted the aid of the Latins agaiuft their
powerful Mahometan enemies, but the clergy and
people were utterly averfe to an union of the
churches, antl yet on no other tern« could any
affidance be procured from the Weft. Befides,
after the taking of Conftantinople by the Latins,
the Greeks regarded them with tenfold abhorrence.
In A. D, 1339 Barlaam of Calabria, and Ste-
phen Dandolo, a noble Venetian, came to Avig-
non with letters to the king of France, and Ro-
bert king of Naples ; faying that they were fent by
Andronicus the Greek emperor to treat of an union
between the two churches. He was at that time
hard preffed by the Turks ; but fo many diflScult-
ies arofe with refpeft to the way in which it was to
be brought about, that nothing was done^

I i 4 Cle-


Clement VI fent ambaffadors to Conftantlnople
about the union of the two churches, when the
Greek emperor propofed that a general council
Ihould be called for the purpofe ; but the death of
this pope put a flop to all farther proceeding about

In A. D. 1355 John Paleologus, preffed by the
Turks and rebellious Greeks, expreffed a great de-
fire of the union ; and for this purpofe he wrote to
Innocent VI, IVearing hy the holy gofpels, that
he v/ould be faithful to him as the fovereign pon-
tiff, and receive his legates with all reverence ; and
that he would do his utmoU to reduce all bis fub-
jefls to his obedience. He, moreover, promifed
to feiad him his Ton, that he faould be taught the
Latin tongue, and that the moll diUinguifhed of
the Greeks ihould be inftru6led in the fame lan-
guage. He further declared, that if he did not
accompli 111 the union, he v^ould refign the empire
to his fon, and transfer to the pope his paternal
power over him ; fo that he might govern in his
name, give him a wife, tutors, and curators, and
thus have the difpofal of the whole empire. But
the pope not being able to give the emperor the
afTiflance he wanted, nothing came of the nego-
tiation. Nuncios, however, were lent by the
pope to Conilantinople, and they v/ere received
by the emperor with all refpeSl, aad he received



the communion at their hands ; but he informed
the pope that, on account of the oppofitian of h'n
fubjedls, he could not immediately execute what
he intended. In a. d. 1369 the emperor, after
fendinp- a refpe6lful embaffy in his own name, and
that of many princes and clergy who favoured the
union, went himfelf to wait on Urban V at Rome,
when he made a public profefTioo of the Caiholic
fciith, and kifled the pope's ieet. But nothing
more was done.

In A. D. 1400 the emperor Manuel went in
perfon to France in order to procure affiftance a-
gainft Tamerlane, and one pica for fuch fuccour
was the opportunity it: might afford of putting an
end to the difference between the two churcheSi.
But the ftafes or Europe being at that time divided
by the great fchifm, no afliftance could be given.
However, a number of learned men accompmymg
the emperor, this journey is faid to have been a
means of ptomoting a tafce for literature in the
Weft, L' Enfant' s Pifi, Vol. 1. p. 127.

Laftly, at the council of Conftancc in a. d.
3418, a folemn embaffy was fent by Manuel Pa-
leologus, with propofals lor an union of the two
churches ; and it was received with much refpeft ;
but it daes not appear that any thii)g was done ia

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