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substitution of an ecclesiastical despotism, in the place of the elective government of the primitive church. Of these changes one of the most effective was the attempt, by means of correspondence and ecclesiastical synods, to consolidate the churches in one church universal, to impose upon them an uniform code of laws, and establish an ecclesiastical polity administered by the clergy. The idea of a holy catholic church, and of an ecclesiastical hierarchy for the government of the same, was wholly a conception of the priesthood. Whatever may have been the motives with which the doctrine of the unity of the church was promulgated, it prepared the way for the overthrow of the popular government of the church.

Above all, the doctrine of the divine right of the priesthood aimed a fatal blow at the liberties of the people. The clergy were no longer the servants of the people, chosen by them to the work of the ministry, but a privileged order, like the Levitical priesthood, and, like them, by divine right invested with peculiar prerogatives. Elate with the pride of their divine commission, a degenerate and aspiring priesthood sought, by every means, to make themselves independent of the suffrages of the people. This independence they began by degrees to assert and to exercise. The bishop began, in the third century, to appoint his own deacons at pleasure, and other inferior orders of the clergy. In other appointments, also, his efforts began to disturb the freedom of the elections, and to direct them agreeably to his own will.61

And yet Cyprian, only about fifty years before, apologized to the laity and clergy of his diocese for appointing one Auretius to the office of reader. In justification of this measure, he pleads the extraordinary virtues of the candidate, the urgent necessity of the case, and the impos

61 Pertsch. Kirch. Gesch. drit. Jahrhund., pp. 439-452. Planck, Gesell. Verfassung, 1, 183.

sibility of consulting them, as he was wont to do on all such occasions.62 Such was the progress of Episcopal usurpation within the short period of half a century. By the middle of the fourth century, elections by the people. were nearly lost;63 and from the beginning of the fifth century, the bishop proceeded to claim the appointment even of the presbyters, together with the absolute control of all ecclesiastical offices subordinate to his own episcopate. But down to the fourth century, the bishops were not at liberty ever to license one to perform the duties of a presbyter, without first obtaining the approbation of the people. Such at least was still the rule in many places.64

Against these encroachments of ecclesiastical ambition and power, the people continued to oppose a firm but ineffectual resistance. They asserted, and in a measure maintained, their primitive right of choosing their own spiritual teachers.65 The usage of the churches of Africa has been already mentioned. Examples are given by Böhmer,66 in evidence that this rite was still observed in the churches of Spain and of Rome.67 Later still, in the fourth century, an instance occurred in the Eastern church in Cappadocia, of the controlling influence of these popular elections. The people, after having been divided

62 In ordinationibus clericis, Fratres carissimi, solemus vos ante consulere, et mores ac merita singulorum, communi consilio penderari. Ep. 33.

63 Pertsch., 4, Jahrhund., p. 263.

64 Riddle's Eccl. Chron., A. D. 400. Planck, Vol. I, p. 183. Euseb. Eccl. Hist., 6, 43.

65 Gieseler, Vol. I, 272. For a more full and detailed account of these changes of ecclesiastical polity, and of the means by which they were introduced, the reader is referred to the first volume of J. G. Planck's Gesch. der Christ. Kirch., Gesellschaft-Verfassung, Bd. I, 149—212, 433,


66 Christ. Kirch. Alterthumswissenschaft, I, p. 144, seq.

67 Presbyterio vel episcopatui, si eum cleri ac plebis rocaverit electio, non immerito societur.-Siricius, bishop of Rome, A. D. 384. Ep. I, ad Himer., c. 10.

in their choice between different candidates, united their suffrages in the election of an individual high in office in the state, who had not even been baptized. He accordingly received this ordinance at the hands of the bishops present, and was duly invested with his office. In the Western church, the election of Martin of Tours, A. D. 375, abovementioned, was carried by the popular voice, against the decided disapprobation of the bishops present. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, A. D. 374, was also appointed by the unanimous acclamation of the multitude, previous even to his baptism. On the other hand, there are on record, instances in the fourth, and even in the fifth century, when the appointment of a bishop was effectually resisted, by the refusal of the people to ratify the nomination of the candidate to a vacant see. 68

But notwithstanding all these examples, in which the people successfully asserted their ancient right of suffrage, it became, as early as the fifth century, little else than an empty name. Their elections degenerated into a tumultuous and unequal contest with a crafty and aspiring hierarchy, who had found means so to trammel up and control the elective franchise, as practically to direct, at pleasure, all ecclesiastical appointments. The rule had been established by decree of council, and often repeated, requiring the presence and unanimous concurrence of all the provincial bishops in the election and ordination of one to the office of bishop.. This afforded them a convenient means of defeating any popular election, by an affected disagreement among themselves. The same canonical authority had made the con-currence of the metropolitan necessary to the validity of any appointment. His veto was accordingly another efficient expedient to baffle the suffrages of the people, and.

68 Greg. Naz., Orat. 10. Bingham, B. IV, c. 1, § 3. Planck, I, 440, n. 10.

to constrain them into a reluctant acquiescence with the will of the clergy.69

Elections to ecclesiastical offices were also disturbed by the interference of secular influence from without, in consequence of that disastrous union of church and state, which was formed in the fourth century, under Constantine the Great.

"During this century," the fourth, "1. The emperors convened, and presided in, general councils; 2. Confirmed their decrees; 3. Enacted laws relative to ecclesiastical matters by their own authority; 4. Pronounced decisions. concerning heresies and controversies; 5. Appointed bishops; 6. Inflicted punishment on ecclesiastical persons.

"Hence arose complaints that the bishops had conceded too much to the emperors, while, on the other hand, some persons maintained that the emperors had left too much on the hands of the bishops. The bishops certainly did possess too much power and influence, to the prejudice of the other clergy, and especially to the disadvantage of Christians at large.

Great part of

"Thus the emperor and the bishops share the chief government of the church between them. But the limits of their authority were not well defined. the power formerly possessed by the general body of Christians, the laity, had passed into the hands of the civil governor.'


Agitated and harrassed by these discordant elements, the popular assemblies for the election of men to fill the highest offices of the holy ministry, became scenes of tumult and disorder that would disgrace a modern political canvass. "Go and witness the proceedings at our public

69 Conc. Nic. c. 4. Conc. Antioch, c. 19. Carthag. IV, c. 1, 22. Planck, Vol. I, pp. 433 452.

70 Riddle's Chronology, pp. 70, 71.

festivals, especially those in which, according to rule, the elections of ecclesiastical officers are held. One supports one man, another, another, and the reason is, that all overlook that which they ought to consider, the qualifications, intellectual and moral, of the candidate. Their attention

is turned to other points, by which their choice is determined. One is in favor of a candidate of noble birth; another, of a man of wealth, who will not need to be supported by the revenues of the church; a third votes for one who has come over from some opposite party; a fourth gives his influence in favor of some relative or friend; while another is gained by the flatteries of a demagogue."71 Repeated notices of similar disturbances occur in the ecclesiastical writers of that period.72

To correct these disorders, various but ineffectual expedients were adopted at different times and places. The council of Laodicea, A. D. 361, c. 13, excluded the multitude, tots oɣhois, the rabble, from taking part in the choice of persons for the sacred office, apparently with the design of preventing these abuses, without excluding the better portion of the laymen from participating in these elections. The expedient, however, produced but little effect.

In the Latin church, and especially in that of Africa, an attempt was made to restore order and simplicity in these elections by means of interventors, or visitors, whose duty it was to visit the vacant diocese, and use his influence with the clergy and people to harmonize their discordant.

71 De Sacerdot., Lib. 3, c. 15.

72 August., Ep. 155. Synessii, Ep. 67. Sidon, Apollinar., Lib. IV, Ep. 25, and other passages collected by Baronius, Annal., 303, n. 22, seq., and in Baluzii Miscell., tom. 2. Ammianus Marcellinus gives the following representation of the unholy contests of the two rival candidates, Damasus and Ursinus, for appointment to the Episcopal see at Rome :-"Supra humanum modum aud rapiendam episcopatus sedem ardentes, scissis studiis asperrime conflicta bantur, ad usque mortis, vulnerumque discrimina adjumentis utriusque progressis. Et in certatione superaverat Damasus parte quae ec favelat instante."-Lib. 28, Ep. 3.

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