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devoted to perdition. It has been the doctrine accordingly of the bishops in every age, that they held a spiritual sword;" and to strike with a sentence of excommunication, or an anathema, has been in their vocabulary to strike spirituali gladio, with the spiritual sword; excommunicationis gladio, with the sword of excommunication ; apostolico mucrone, with the apostolic blade ; and pontificis gladio, the sword of the pontiff. “The proud and con
1“ There is nothing the Christian should so dread as to be separated from the body of Christ ; for if separated from his body he is not a member of him; and if not a member he is not quickened by the Spirit. But whoever has not the Spirit of Christ is none of his. Nihil enim sic debet formidare Christianus quam separari a corpore Christi.” Augustini apud Gratiani Decret. Causa xi., q. 3, c. 33.
Anciently excommunication, when distinguished from anathema, denoted a deprivation of the sacraments; and an anathema an ejection from the church as a heathen and publican, and sentence to destruction. After the twelfth century excommunication was distinguished into the less, which was a simple exclusion from the sacraments, and the greater, which was an ejection from the church, while an anathema was a sentence to destruction: Anathema est æternæ mortis damnatio. Van Espen, de Poenis et Censuris Eccl. c. V., s. 1, 2, 3.
In the first ages set forms of excommunication seem not to have been used. The canons and decrees of the councils of the fourth, fifth, and sixth ages, simply sentence their violators to separation from the church, and denounce on them an anathema. After the eighth century, to invest them with greater significance they were often expressed in set forms, embracing an enumeration of the curses to which their victims were devoted. Among them are the following: “By the judgment of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of the blessed Peter, prince of the apostles and of all saints, and also by our subordinate authority and the power divinely given us of binding and loosing in heaven and on earth, we debar him and all his accomplices and favorers from the
participation of the precious body and blood of Christ, and from the society of all Christians, exclude him from the threshold of holy mother church in heaven and on earth, decree him to be excommunicated and anathematized, and adjudge him condemned with the devil and his angels, and all the reprobate, to eternal fire, until he shall recover himself from the snare of the devil, return to amendment and penance, and make satisfaction to the church of God which he has injured.” Van Espen, de Censuris Eccl. c. V., 8. vi., p. 108.
“Unless they sincerely repent and make satisfaction to our mediocrity which they have injured, we confound them with an eternal malediction, wo condemn them with a perpetual anathema. Let them incur the wrath of the supreme judge. Let them be aliens from the heritage of God and his elect, and neither in the present life have communion with Christians, nor obtain a part with God and his saints in that which is to come; but let them be associated with the devil and his ministers, and suffer the punishment of avenging fire with eternal sorrow. May they be hated of heaven and earth, and tortured with the inflictions of hell forever. Let them be cursed in the house, let them be cursed in the field. Let the food and fruit of their bodies be cursed. Let all be cursed which they possess, from the dog that barks at them, to the cock that crows in their hearing. Let their part be with Dathan and Abiron whom hell engulfed alive, with Ananias and Sapphira who were instantly struck dead, and with Pilate and Judas the traitor, nor let them have any other burial than that of an ass, and so let their lamp be extinguished in darkness. Amen." Van Espen, de Cens. Eccl. c. V., 8. vi., p. 108.
Uterque ergo est in potestate ecclesiæ, spiritualis scilicet gladius et materialis. Extravagan. Comm., lib. i., tit. viii., c. i.
tumacious are slain with the spiritual sword when they are ejected from the church.”! “ The sword of excommunication is the effective instrument of ecclesiastical discipline."2 “ They are branded with infamy, and cut off by the apostolic blade from the bosom of holy mother church.”3 “ The throats of the heresies that arose during this pontificate, were cut by the sword of the Pontiff."4 And those spiritual wounds could, in their judgment, be healed only by the hand which inflicted them, or some superior power intrusted by the canons with the requisite authority.
The power they thus acquired to kill one another, according to their estimate of the official import of those acts, they have exercised on a vast scale. Excommunication was the usual penalty inflicted by bishops for the violation of their canons, and the councils began at an early day to excommunicate those whom they condemned, and pronounce anathemas on those who dissented from their doctrine, or disregarded their disciplinary laws. Thus the council of Nicæa sentenced those to excommunication who held the doctrine of Arius. The Arian councils of Sirmium and Seleucia pronounced anathemas on those who dissented from their creed. The council of Antioch excommunicated those who disregarded the doctrinal definitions of Nicæa, or violated its own canons. At the council of Ephesus, Cyril and his party excommunicated John of Antioch and his associates, and John and his coadjutors retorted the sentence on Cyril and his party. The council of Constantinople under Leo excommunicated the worshippers of idols; the second council of Nicæa and the fourth Lateran those who denounced their worship as idolatry. The bishop of Rome excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople, and the patriarch of Constantinople the bishop of Rome. The pope excommunicated the prelates of Germany, the prelates of Germany excommunicated the pope; and the rival popes of the fifteenth century excommunicated each other, and were themselves excommunicated by the councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basle.
The contests of patriarchs and popes with each other were of
Spirituali gladio superbi et contumaces necantur, dum de ecclesia ejiciuntur. Cypriani Epist. iv., c. 4.
Excommunicationis gladius nervus sit ecclesiasticæ disciplinæ. Concil. Trident. Sess. xxv. de Reformatione, c. iii.
• Infamia sunt notati, et a sinu sanctæ matris ecclesiæ apostolico mucrone ab. scissi. Fabiani Supp. Epist. i., Labbei Concil. tom. i. p. 772.
Pontificis gladio jugulatæ sunt. Labbei Concil. tom. i. p. 768, n. There are many other forms: Excommunicationis se noverit mucrone percussum. Eum ecclesiasticæ animadversionis mucrone feriemus. Eum apostolico anathematis mucrone vulnerit. Anathematis so sciat mucrone percussum.
little significance however, compared with the ceaseless blows inflicted by them on their inferior bishops, and by the bishops on their clergy and flocks. From the tenth to the sixteenth century especially, the whole episcopal army were incessantly brandishing their swords, and striking down their victims, and rendering the church by their folly and vengeance a vast scene of terror, turmoil, and misery. The frequency of excommunication during the tenth and following ages, and the frivolousness of the causes for which it was inflicted, especially after the prelates began to use their spiritual sword for the protection of their temporal as well as their ecclesiastical rights, transcends description. The evil became so enormous that decrees were enacted by the councils of Constance and Trent to restrain the abuse.
But beside these sentences, which were regarded as carrying spiritual death to those against whom they were directed, they made their legislative and judicial power the means of actually. inflicting a fatal wound on one another, and on multitudes of their people, by betraying or forcing them to an apostasy from God that necessarily involved a spiritual death.
They have from the commencement of their usurpation imposed their legislative acts on one another, and enforced them by all the pretended authority of their office, and all the rewards and penalties with which the civil magistrate has been induced to support their discipline; and held that as they had a right to dictate to their people, so they were under obligation to submit to the decrees and enactments of their own order as of absolute authority, when imposed by the body, a general, national, or provincial council to which they were subordinate, or a patriarch or pope to whom they regarded themselves as owing allegiance; and have thus betrayed each other into apostasy from God by that assumption of legislative power over his rights and laws, and by their usurped authority have driven each other in numerous instances into the adoption of doctrines that involved a revolt from him, and transference of their homage to creatures and to idols, and thence inevitably precipitated them to everlasting ruin. Thus the Arians on their accession to power under Constantius and Valens, induced the great body of the clergy by authoritative dictation and the threat of deposition, confiscation of their property, lorture and banishment, to adopt their peculiar creed, and sincerely, doubtless in many instances, on the ground on which the nationalization of the church and ihe legislation of councils proceeded, that bishops and princes had a right to dictate the
* Van Espen. de Cens. Eccl. c. vii. 8. v.
faith and worship of the church. The councils of Chalcedon, the fourth Lateran, and Trent, authorized and enjoined the invocation of saints, the homage of relics, and the worship of images, enforced them on all the churches subject to their jurisdiction by an anathema, and by their authority thus became the reason to the thousands that followed in their train, of receiving those impious doctrines, and offering that idolatrous worship.
But besides this legislative authority, other efficient inducements were employed to constrain them to the reception of their creed and participation in their rites. The excommunicated were not only not allowed to unite in the worship of the church, or enter religious assemblies, but were debarred from society, deprived of civil privileges and rights, divested of their property, and rendered infamous. Thus the tenth canon falsely ascribed to the apostles—" If any one unites in prayer with an excommunicate even in a family, let him be debarred from communion;" and the council of Antioch, “ It is not allowable to communicate with the excommunicated, nor to assemble in private houses to pray with those who do not pray together in the church, nor to receive those in one church who do not meet together in another. Let the bishop, presbyter, or deacon who is found communicating with the excommunicated, be himself excommunicated for disregarding the canons of the church." They were not allowed to give evidence against a bishop, whatever were his official crimes either against them or others. Thus the council of Constantinople: “It is not lawful for heretics to accuse orthodox bishops in respect to ecclesiastical affairs; and by heretics we mean those who have first been ejected from the church and afterwards anathematized, and those also who, though professing the true faith, have yet separated and been cut off, and formed an assembly adverse to our canonical bishops." They were denied the rights of property and citizenship, and placed out of the protection of law. Thus pope Gregory X. sentenced Guido de Montfort : “Athough such temerity transcends the severest punishment, yet that it may not go wholly unrequited, and its impunity excite to further attempts, we have determined as far as our official power allows to visit him with merited acerbity. Therefore having deliberated with our brethren and giving sentence by their counsel, we pronounce the aforesaid Guido de Montfort a convicted perpetrator of that flagitious crime"-assassination“condemn him as such to the loss of his rank, and sentence him to be branded with perpetual infamy. Let him be so wholly detestable that he can neither make a will, nor receive property either by will, or from an intestate, or by succession to any one. Nor let him be allowed to give testimony. His goods also wherever situated, we sentence to confiscation by those within whose jurisdiction they are, without prejudice to any one's right. We forbid to Guido himself all jurisdiction, care and power over the lands also and other property of his wife, strictly enjoining that no obedience be rendered to him in respect to them or any other lands whatsoever, and bind any one who may obey him, with the sentence of excommunication; and the land which obeys him we subject to an ecclesiastical interdict, so that no sacrament can be administered to any one in it, except baptism to infants, penance, and the eucharist to the dying. We deprive him wholly of all that he holds from churches of whatever kind, or has in trust in any other manner, so that it may revert without obstruction to the churches to which it pertains. And that the punishment of his crime to be inflicted and to abide on his posterity, also may be made known to all in future times, we by the same authority decree that neither Guido nor his descendants to the fourth generation, unless they shall become entitled to the favor of this seat, shall be eligible to any dignity. No access to any dignity shall be opened to them, or any one of them, nor any audience be granted to them, or others in their behalf in order to their soliciting it. No one of them shall ever be advanced to any ecclesiastical or worldly honor, or any public office whatever, ecclesiastical benefice, or promotion in the monasteries. Moreover we divest the aforesaid Guido of all protection short of the peril of death and mutilation, and put him under interdict, so that excepting that danger, his person may be freely seized by any one. We moreover strictly command all prefects of provinces whatever may be the title they bear, and all magistrates, consuls, and commanders of cities, camps and other places, to seize him and conduct him to our court to be committed to prison, or punished in such other manner as we may approve. We bind him also as sacrilegious and contumacious with the sentence of excommunication, and decree that all places which he enters, unless seized and detained in them in order to be conducted to us, be placed as long as he remains in them, under an ecclesiastical interdict
· Labbei Concil. tom. i. p. 33.
* Labbei Concil. tom. ü. c. 2, p. 1309. Also Concil. Carth. can. vii. Labbei, tom. iii. p. 694.
• Labbei Concil. tom. ïü. p. 561.