The state of these dioceses in the tenth century.


WE are now come to the tenth century, in which ignorance and barbarism overwhelmed well nigh all the west; and the Church of Rome fell at the same time into such monstrous corruptions, that those who have wrote the history thereof do not mention it without horror. I do not intend to make any stop here, in alleging proofs for what I say, from the concurrent testimonies of Genebrard, Baronius, and other Doctors of the Church of Rome. It is a thing not denied by any one that hath ever heard speak of the history of the Church; and hath been particularly set forth by Gerbertus, Archbishop of Rheims, who was afterwards advanced to the Papacy. But yet in the mean time, whatever the corruption may have been, which was scattered elsewhere, we have good ground to believe, that it had not quite stifled the ancient doctrine and religion of these dioceses, which may be easily made out by the following observations:

1. I own that we find in the writings of Odo, the first Abbot of Clugny, who was born in Aquitain, some expressions which import that he inclined to the opinions of Paschasius, as appears in his collations; which might make one judge that this notion began then already to be propagated in Aquitain, whose Duke William was the founder of Clugny. But we must here take notice of two things: the first is, that the ancient customs of this monastery do plainly show, that when this congregation was founded, those who were the authors of these customs were not of Paschasius’s opinion. This is evident from chapter 30 of the second book, and from chapter 28 of the third. The second is, that though Odo might have entertained this opinion of Paschasius concerning the carnal presence of Jesus Christ, yet we may easily observe that he never owned the consequences of it. For we find in the relation of the death of this Odo, who died at Rome in the year 942, that he received the Eucharist, but there is no mention made of any adoration that he paid at his receiving it.

2. We are to observe, that in this description of Odo’s departure, which was made by one of his disciples, we meet with neither confession before the receiving of the Eucharist, nor the receiving of the sacrament of Extreme Unction, which are sufficient proofs that he knew nothing of these sacraments.

3. It appears by the writings of Gerbertus, who was educated in the monastery of Aurillac, what was the faith of this diocese. He had been the tutor of Robert, son to Hugh Capet, who raised him to the archbishopric of Rheims in the year 991, in the room of Arnulphus, who was deposed. He hath writ an apology for the Council which deposed Arnulphus, wherein he gives full evidence what esteem he had for the Pope, and how little he believed the Papacy necessary to the Church, not only because of the vices of the Popes of his time, but also for several political reasons, which engage every Church not to subject themselves to a foreign power.

“Suppose,” saith he, “that by the warlike incursions of barbarous nations there be no way open for us to go to Rome; or that Rome itself, being become subject to some barbarous prince, be at his pleasure made part of his kingdom, shall we in this case be reduced to the necessity of having no Councils at all? or shall the Bishops of the world, to the loss and ruin of their own kings, expect the advice and counsels of their enemies for the management of the affairs of Church and State?”

We may see another assertion of his in a letter to Seguinus, Archbishop of Sens:

“I do resolvedly affirm, that if the Pope of Rome himself should sin against his brother, and being often admonished, should not hear the Church, that this same Pope of Rome ought to be looked upon as a heathen and publican.”

Whereupon Baronius exclaims, Here is a sentence indeed, worthy only to proceed from the mouth of some great heretic, or of some most impudent schismatic, which abrogates all sacred Councils at once, cuts the throat of Canons, strangles traditions, and treads under foot all the rights of the Church, that it seems impossible that a Catholic should ever dream of such things; much less so saucily utter and assert them. We may also gather from the subsequent words, whether or no he conceived communion with the Church of Rome to be of absolute necessity.

“If he (the Pope of Rome) do therefore judge us unworthy of his communion, because none of us will comply with him in his antievangelical sentiments, yet he cannot separate us from the communion of Christ; seeing a Priest ought not to be removed from his function except he have confessed, or be convict of the crime laid to his charge: especially when the Apostle saith, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? And again, I am certain that neither death nor life, etc. And what greater separation can there be, than to debar any believer from the body and blood of the Son of God, which is daily offered up for our salvation? And if he be a murderer, that takes away the bodily life from himself or his neighbor, he that robs himself or another of eternal life, by what name shall we call him?”

We find in another letter which he wrote to Wilderodus, Bishop of Strasburg, what work he makes with those false decretals which were foisted in on purpose to make the whole Church submit to the Papal yoke, as if before Syricius all the east and west had belonged to the Papal jurisdiction; wherein he exactly follows the footsteps of Hincmar, who confuted them with all his might.

If we inquire into the rest of his opinions, we shall find, that he did not believe that the Popes had received the keys of the kingdom of heaven in any other manner than all other Bishops. See how he explains himself in a discourse to Bishops, when he was Bishop either of Rheims or Ravenna. “And as woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel, or if hide long in my heart the treasure that I have received, burying it in the ground; or if I keep the candle of the divine word covered under a bushel, and do not expose it on a candlestick to the eyes of all: so likewise if I do not open the locks of human ignorance, with those keys of the kingdom of heaven, which all of us, who are Priests, have received in the person of St. Peter; so that upon this account I may deserve, according to my small measure, to hear that, Well done, good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many.”

And again; “For so the Lord said to St. Peter, Simon Peter, lovest thou me? and he, Thou knowest, Lord, that I love thee. And when he had asked this a third time, and had been as often answered, the Lord repeated a third time, Feed my sheep. Which sheep, and which flock, St. Peter not only received at that time, but also hath received them with us, and all of us have received them with him.” He shews that he did not believe the necessity of the Priest’s intention in the Sacraments, when he saith in the same piece, speaking to those that were guilty of simony,

“I do once more inquire of my brother Bishop, lest we should seem to have omitted any thing that belongs to a true proof and trial, who is it, brother Bishop, that confers episcopal grace? Is it God or man? God without doubt, but yet by man. Man lays on his hand, and God confers grace; the Priest serves God with his suppliant hand, and God blesseth with his powerful right hand: the Bishop admits thee into the order, but God makes thee worthy of it. O justice! O equity! If money be given to a man, who in ordination does no more but discharge a piece of service laid upon him, why is the whole denied to God, who bestows the order itself upon thee? Doth it seem just to thee to honor the servant, whilst thou dost affront the Lord? And whilst the Priest unrighteously takes money, shall God be injured by man? And seeing God expects nothing from thee, for the order bestowed upon thee, why doth the Priest impudently look for money? God is willing to bestow it upon man for nothing, but the ravenous Bishop demands money. God of his kindness and love vouchsafes it for nought, but the malicious Priest captivates him, and ties him to terms: for what hast thou that thou hast not received? And if thou have received it, why dost thou boast, as if thou hadst not received it?”

Lastly, we see in his 26th epistle the confession of faith that he makes, which contains nothing besides the symbol or the Apostles’ Creed, to which he adds only what follows:

“I do not forbid marriage...I do not condemn second marriages; I do not blaine the eating of flesh; I own that reconciled penitents ought to be admitted to the communion. I believe that in Baptism all sins, whether original or actual, are forgiven; and do profess that out of the Catholic Church nobody can be saved; and I confirm and ratify the four holy universal Synods, which the mother-church confirms and approves of.”

It is worth observing, that he doth not speak one word concerning the Romish traditions; so far was he from authorizing the definitions of the second Council of Nice, which the Church of Rome hath been pleased to authorize in the Council of Trent.

Lastly, We may take notice, that Leuthericus, Archbishop of Sens, who died in the year 1032, had been the disciple of this Gerbertus, which is attested by the continuator of Aimoinus; and Clarius, Monk of St. Peter le Vif, at Sens, has accused Leuthericus of having laid the beginning, and cast the seeds of Berengarius’s heresy.

I do not believe any one will think strange, that I have quoted Gerbertus amongst the writers of Aquitain, under pretense, that probably he might have changed his opinions after that he was elevated to the Papacy, under the name of Sylvester II. It is but too well known to be customary, for those who used to speak according to their own judgment, and the opinions of the place where they were educated, as soon as they have been elevated to the Papal dignity, to change their notes. Of this we have an illustrious example in AEneas Sylvius, whom we find quite transformed into another man as soon as he had taken upon him the name of Pius II. the Papal diadem having changed him from white to black. And I am much mistaken if the eleventh century doth not furnish us an example every whit as remarkable, in the person of Gregory VII. who having been before Prior of the monastery of Clugny, the customs whereof, as I have hinted, did not suit well with the doctrine of Paschasius, seems thence to have derived his opinions concerning the Eucharist; for Urspergensis takes notice that the Council of Bresse, where he was deposed by thirty Bishops, laid to his charge, that he was of Berengarius’s opinion, as being his ancient disciple; and we shall find this accusation not to be without ground, if we cast our eyes on his Commentary on St. Matthew; of which I have elsewhere given an extract. Yet for all this, we see, that this Pope, complying with his own interest, became afterwards one of the most furious persecutors of Berengarius.

I suppose these few remarks will be sufficient for my purpose: though I might add, that St. Fulbert, as well as Leutherick, having been the disciple of Gerbert, had derived the same doctrine concerning the Eucharist from him; this is so certain, that a Doctor of the Sorbonne, named Villiers, found no other means, about the beginning of this century, to make him speak to his mind in publishing of his works, than by inserting some words in the text which might make it to be looked upon as the objection of heretics; whereas indeed it is an answer of his own, wherein he sets down his opinion, and he doth it in the self-same terms used by St. Augustin. But I keep myself within the bounds of what concerns those dioceses whose history I am upon.

I shall only take leave to add one thing, which is, that though Gerbertus seems in his twenty-sixth letter, which contains his Confession of Faith, to make an allusion to some of the opinions of the Manichees; yet we may be sure, that he did not express himself in this manner, to show, that he held nothing of their tenets; no, he had other reasons for it, which it is not necessary to unfold here. Besides, it is notorious that the Manichees did not spread themselves in Aquitain till he was a very old man: at least, it is true, that Ademarus doth not make them to appear in Aquitain till the year 1011, and that the first Synod held against them, did not meet at Toulouse till the year l019, that is to say, sixteen years after his death, which happened in 1003.


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