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The Roman pontiff now acted in all respects like a temporal prince. He intrigued with the court of France, offering to withdraw his obedience from the emperor, and give the consulship of Rome to Charles Martel, the prime minister of that court (or mayor of the palace, as he is generally called) if he would take him under his protection. But the war in which France had lately been engaged with the Saracens rendered it inconvenient at the moment to comply with the request; and in the year 741, the emperor, the pope, and the French minister were all removed from the stage of life, leaving to their successors the management of their respective views and contentions.
Leo left behind him a son, Constantine Copronymus, who inherited all his father's zeal against images. Pope Gregory the III. was succeeded by Zachary, an aspiring politician, who, by fomenting discord among the Lombards, contrived to wrest from their king Luitbrand an addition to the patrimony of the church. And Charles Martel was succeeded by his son Pepin, who sent a case of conscience to be resolved by the pope, viz. whether it would be just in him to depose his own sovereign, Childeric, and to reign in his stead. The pope answered in the affirmative, in consequence of which, Pepin threw his master into a monastery, and assumed the title of King. Zachary, the pope, died soon after, namely, in the year 752, and was succeeded by Stephen the III. who, in his zeal for images was not inferior to any of his predecessors.
Voltaire has remarked, that there prevailed at that time a strange mixture of policy and simplicity, of aukwardness and cunning, which strongly characterized the general decay of the age. Stephen, the new pope, who had quarrelled with the king of the Lombards, forged a letter, purporting to be the production of the apostle
Peter, addressed to Pepin and his sons, which is too remarkable to be here omitted. “ Peter, called an apostle by Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, &c. As through me the whole Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman church, the mother of all other churches, is founded on a rock; and to the end, that Stephen, bishop of this beloved church of Rome, and that virtue and power may be granted by our Lord to rescue the church of God out of the hands of its persecutors: To your most excellent princes, Pepin, Charles, and Carloman, and to all the holy Bishops and Abbots, Priests and Monks, as also to Dukes, Counts, and people, I, Peter, the Apostle, &c. I conjure you, and the Virgin Mary, who will be obliged to you, gives you notice, and commands you, as do also the thrones, dominations, &c. If you will not fight for me, I declare to you, by the Holy Trinity, and by my apostleship, that you shall have no share in heaven."
This letter had its desired effect: Pepin passed the Alps with an army to assist the pope against the Lombards. Intimidated by the presence of the king of the Franks, Astelphus, the Lombard king, immediately relinquished the whole Exarchate of Ravenna * to the pope, including that and twenty-one other cities, who, by this means, became proprietor of the Exarchate and its de pendencies; and, by adding rapacity to his rebellion, was established as a temporal monarch! Thus was the sceptre added to the keys; the sovereignty to the priesthood; and thus were the popes enriched with the spoils of the Lombard kings and of the Roman emperors! He after
The Exarch was the chief imperial officer appointed by the emperor of Constantinople for near two centuries past, to superintend as a vicar or prefect, the affairs of Italy, Ravenua was his residence and the seat of government; and Loric, the territory attached to him, was called the Exarchate of Ravenna.
wards took a journey into France, where he anointed with oil the king of the Franks; and, by the authority of St. Peter, forbade the French lords, on pain of excommunication, to choose a king of another race. Thus did these two ambitious men support one another in their schemes of rapacity and injustice. The criminality of the pope was, indeed, greatly aggravated by the pretence of religion. “It is you,” says he, addressing Pepin, “ whom God hath chosen from all eternity. For whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called them he also justified.”
Yet the question concerning images was far from being put to rest either at Rome or Constantinople, but continued to agitate the Catholic church for a length of time, and gave occasion to the assembling of council after council, one council annulling what the former had decreed. During the reign of the emperor Constantine Copronymus, a synod was held at Constantinople, to determine the controversy.* The fathers being met, to the number of three hundred and thirty, after considering the doctrine of scripture, and the opinions of the fathers, decreed, “ That every image, of whatsoever materials made and formed by the artist, should be cast out of the Christian church as a strange and abominable thing," adding an “anathema upon all who should make images or pictures, or representations of God, or of Christ, or of the Virgin Mary, or of any of the saints,” condemning it
• It was at this time the prevailing fashion in the Catholic church to dignify the Virgin Mary with the title of “ Mother of God." The emperor one day said to the patriarch of Constantinople, " What harm would there be in terming the Virgin Mary Mother of Christ ?” “God preserve you,” answered the patriarch, “ from entertaining such a thought. Do you not see how Nestorius is anathematized by the whole church for using similar language?”—“I only asked for my own information,” said the emperor;" let it go no further."
as “a vain and diabolical invention"--deposing all bishops, and subjecting the monks and laity, who should set up any of them in public or private, to all the penalties of the imperial constitution. Paul I. who was at that time pope of Rome, sent his legate to Constantinople, to admonish the emperor to restore the sacred images and statues to the churches, threatening him with excommunication in case of refusal. But Copronymus treated his message with the contempt it deserved.
On the decease of Paul I. A. D. 768, the papal chair was filled for one year by a person of the name of Constantine, who condemned the worship of images, and was therefore tumultuously deposed; and Stephen the IV. substituted in his room, who was a furious defender of them. He immediately assembled a council in the Lateran church, where the renowned fathers abrogated all Constantine's decrees, deposed all the bishops that had been ordained by him, annulled all his baptisms and chrisms, and, as some historians relate, after having beat and used him with great indignity, made a fire in the church and burnt him to death. After this, they annulled all the decrees of the synod of Constantinople, ordered the restoration of statues and images, and anatbematized that execrable and pernicious synod, giving this curious reason for the use of images—“That if it was lawful for emperors, and those who had deserved well of their country, to have their images erected, but not lawful to set up those of God, the condition of the immortal God would be worse than that of man." +
Thus the mystery of iniquity continued to work, until at length, under the reign of Irene, the empress of Con
stantinople, and her son Constantine, about the close u this century was convened, what is termed the seventh general council. It was held at Sice, and the number on bishops present was about three hundred and fifty. In this renerable assembly it was decreed, “ That boiy images of the cross should be consecrated, and put os the sacred vessels and vestments, and upon walis and boards, in private houses, and in public ways. And especially that there should be erected images of the Lord God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, of our blessed Lady, the mother of God, of the venerable angels, and of all the saints. And that whoever should presume to think or teach otherwise, or to throw away any painted books, or the figure of the cross, or any image or picture, or any genuine relics of the martyrs, they shonid, if bishops or clergymen, be deposed, or if monks or larmen be excommunicated.” They then pronounced akathemas upon all who should not receive images, or whe should apply what the scriptures say against idols to the holy images, or who should call them idols, or who should wilfully communicate with those wbo rejected and despised them; adding, according to custom,“ Long live Constantine and Irene his mother-Damnation to all heretics-Damnation on the council that roared against venerable images — The holy Trinity hath deposed them."
One would think the council of Pandemonium would have found it difficult to carry impiety and pro faneness much beyond this.
Irene and Constantine approved and ratified these de crees- the result of which was, that idols and images were erected in all the churches, and those who opposed them were treated with great severity. And thus, by the intrigues of the popes of Rome, iniquity was established
Platina-Life of Hadria L