Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Sixth Conversation

Apostolicity and Succession

J. N. Darby.

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248 But here we begin to get into our old difficulties as to the succession. Optatus, Jerome, Augustine, and others put first Anicetus; next Irenaeus, Tertullian and others put Pius first. Not only so; it is disputed whether Hyginus sat four or twelve years. As Platina, an ancient secretary and historian of the popes, says (sub Pio), "In this place the times vary, as some put Pius, others Anicetus first. The histories also vary. However it may be in so remote a history and such great negligence of [our] ancestors, it will be better to get at the things themselves in some way, [though] done a little sooner or a little after, than pass them altogether" — a strange ground for certainty of faith. In his time arose the dispute of the East with Rome as to the observance of Easter. The East, alleging the apostles' authority, kept it on the 14th of the moon. Victor would have it on the Lord's day, and take the next one to the 14th. Polycarp had come to make peace during the time of Anicetus, but Victor refused communion with all the East, who alleged they followed John; and it remained in abeyance till the Council of Nice, which decided it should be on a Lord's day. So the day of the week carried it against the day of the month, and the church was not divided in spite of Victor.

It is a curious piece of history that the Scotch and British Christians, too, with the north of England, kept Easter as the Asiatics did; and it was centuries after, in 664, that the Roman practice prevailed after a conference in the north of England. It was the Scotch Christians of Iona, who were not subject to any bishop, but governed by presbyters, who evangelized Germany and Switzerland and the north, as far as it was done in early years, but it fell under the power of centralizing Rome. The British and Irish churches did not till long after. The Saxons were evangelized from Rome; and by the Normans, already in subjection to Rome. But this by the bye.

249 When we arrive at Anicetus, we find ourselves in serious difficulties. We can hardly doubt there was such a pope — at least Irenaeus puts him clearly in his list, not, after all a very sure one, as we have seen in Cletus and Anacletus, whom some hold to be one person, some two. And Polycarp, it must be supposed, had interviews with Anicetus about Easter; but when he was pope, and even whether he was pope, is in no way certain. In what is called the "Chronicle of Damascus" no mention is made of him at all; but Soter immediately succeeds Pius. Baronius makes Soter succeed Anicetus, A.D. 175; others declare Soter began his episcopate in 168; others say Anicetus died A.D. 161. Baronius makes Pius pope in 158; but some make the beginning of his pontificate in 142 and Eusebius (4, 11); gives him fifteen years, and says he died in 157, a year before Baronius makes him pope. Baronius gave him ten years, Pagius begins his pontificate in 141, and places his death 151; so that the first year of Pius for Baronius is the sixth of Anicetus for Pagius, who makes Anicetus begin his pontificate in 151, where Baronius places the twelfth of Telesphorus. (Baronius, vol. 1, under these popes).

Now a difference of one or two years' date, I admit, does not make a material question as to facts. But what I have produced from Roman Catholic historians and ancient ones here shews that the history of those times is very uncertain, and that such a succession can in no possible way be a foundation or security for faith or grace.

I may add here that the pope gave letters of peace, as recognizing them, to the Montanists and their wild and demoniac prophecies. Praxias came from the place, and forced the pope to revoke his letters. I apprehend this was Victor, though it would seem Baronius puts it under Anicetus, others under Eleutherius. There are those who introduce a Pope Cyrianus between Pontianus and Auterus; but it is hardly worth considering, though Baronius notices it. It only shews the succession was not very certain.

I may mention here that it was from the time of Cyprian only that Rome obtained the title of Peter's chair. Baronius indeed gives twenty-five years of Peter's holding the See of Rome, but all early authors make Linus the first bishop. Ruffinus, as we have seen, conciliates them by keeping Peter in his apostleship, and making two of them sit in the see while he was alive. The first author who makes Peter bishop is Optatus (De Schis. Don., lib. 2, 3) in the latter part of the fourth century; while Epiphanius (thinking it possible Clement was first named, but would not act till after Linus and Cletus were dead, and then was compelled) says that Peter and Paul were apostles and bishops (27, 6), then Linus. Eusebius simply says that Linus was the first bishop after Peter. He may perhaps be considered an earlier testimony that Optatus. They were nearly contemporaneous, and Optatus is the first who explicitly states it. That Peter was twenty-five years bishop of Rome is a simple absurdity; because if the tradition of his being put to death by Nero be true, this was A.D. 68 or 69. But the Lord suffered A.D. 34. More than fourteen — say fifteen — years after that (Gal. 2) Peter had not left Jerusalem, and there had been as yet no apostolic work at Rome at all. This makes A.D. 49. He is still at Jerusalem. After this he goes to Antioch; but tradition says he was seven years in the see of Antioch, before coming to Rome, and in A.D. 49 he had not yet gone to Antioch, and certainly was not fixed in the see, for Paul was labouring there and rebuked him for his conduct. How long after, we cannot tell — say it was immediately, which I do not believe, because Paul was the apostle labouring there — but I take up the tradition as it is given. He was at Antioch then, at any rate, till A.D. 56 or 57; thus he could not by any possibility have begun to have to address Rome as its pope at all till about eleven years before his death. The whole thing is a fable upon the face of it.

250 Mr. R. But you cast aside all tradition.

N*. I do, as having the smallest authority. But here you have not any two agreeing. You may consult Baronius in the first and twenty-fifth year of Peter, and see what he says with Pagius, who notices the attempt to make two comings of Peter, one in Claudius' and another in Nero's reign, and rejects it all, taking the plain statement of Lactantius that the apostles had been preaching everywhere for twenty-five years, and then that Peter came to Rome in the time of Nero (Lac. de Mort. Pet. 2, 95). That Peter may have come to Rome for his martyrdom, or to see the Jewish saints there, is possible, though we have little proof of it; but vague and late statements that he ever held the see are mere got-up fiction; that he founded the church of Rome, we know from scripture to be totally false, let the good Irenaeus say what he will. No apostle did; of this we are sure from Paul's epistle to them. If we are to believe Dionysius of Corinth, quoted by Eusebius (2, 25), Peter and Paul both planted the church at Corinth too, a statement useful to shew what such statements and traditions of the Fathers are worth. Yet in this passage of Dionysius we get, if it be true that Peter ever was at Rome, a glimpse of the truth, namely that Peter and Paul were taken prisoners to Rome together, or at least went together there on the journey which ended in their martyrdom; but all is utterly uncertain. The only thing certain is that Peter's sitting — still more his sitting twenty-five years at Rome — is a got-up fable, and a very poor and transparent one.

251 I have spoken on this point here, because we are at the date in the history of Roman pontiffs at which it is first called the chair of Peter, or Peter Bishop of Rome.

Of several pontiffs I have nothing to say; but, when we come to Marcellinus and Marcellus, difficulties begin again. Eusebius (his contemporary) does not mention Marcellus, nor does Jerome, which is strange, and very learned men exclude him from the list, and ancient accounts state the see to have been vacant seven years — Fleury says three. Baronius says they are all wrong; that it is a confusion of names, that it must mean months instead of years, that no prudent person will hold the see to have been so long vacant. Pagius makes it, as Fleury, three years instead of seven, with the ancient chronicle called of Damasus (Bar. A.D. 304).

Mr. R. But you cannot doubt Marcellus was pope.

N*. Probably he was. Augustine at the end of the century mentions him; but the church was headless for more than three years. We speak, moreover, of succession, and such a certainty is a poor foundation to rest our faith upon. This Marcellinus is the one charged with offering incense to idols. Some say he was afterwards a martyr. But, further, Optatus (2, 8), where insisting on the succession of pontiffs against the Donatists, and Theodoret (lib. 1, 2), leave him out; the former quite in his own age, one may say, and the latter some hundred years after.

R. But Optatus leaves out Eutychian and Caius too, and Theodoret makes Melchiades succeed Marcellinus, which is surely wrong.

252 N*. What you say is quite correct, and I dare say Marcellus, Eutychian, Caius, and Eusebius were all really popes, though the learned editor of Optatus says whether Marcellus be different from Marcellinus is no slight question — "non modica quaestio est." It is all alike to me, because we have the word itself, as to which there can be no possible succession, and assured grace to use it. But for you, who rest on succession, such uncertainty is fatal.

R. But God will take care of His church.

N*. Most assuredly. But that is not the question, but whether what you allege is the way He takes care of it. You and Dr. Milner and the rest teach this poor man to rest on succession. Now either he must swallow it down true or false, on your word, or he must examine a long history of the church; and, if he can, he finds confessed uncertainty and no sure ground of faith at all.

However, we will proceed; for I have examined your famous succession. Sylvester, from whom the Waldenses date the apostasy of the Papacy, Marius, and Julius I pass over without remark. We then come to a serious difficulty. The Emperors were now Christian in profession, and the actual Emperor Arian, with, we might say, all the bishops, save some rare banished ones; that is, they had denied the faith. The world awoke, as Jerome says, and found itself Arian. So little is the security in the hierarchy for the faith. If the people then had followed the clergy, all were Arian. However Pope Liberius at first was not, and he was banished; and Felix, a deacon of Rome, was ordained Pope by the Arians, and there was the greatest confusion at Rome and even many killed. However Felix was there. Baronius will not own him, for Liberius was alive. Bellarmine says he must be reckoned pope, and gives his reasons. Liberius at last gave way to the Emperor, and signed an heretical creed. Then Baronius says at the utmost Felix could be chorepiscopus, a kind of coadjutor, but will not count any years of his as pope; but this saves appearances, in part at least, not wholly, for if he were not in office his ordinations go for nothing. Optatus and Augustine do not count him among the popes, but he is reckoned in the list, because Felix III and IV would not be such if he be not counted. Liberius returned from exile, brought back at the intercession of Roman ladies. The Emperor wanted them to be bishops together. But Felix was driven out. However he got back again and sought to exercise clerical functions in the city, but was again driven out, and lived on his own estate (Fleury, 14, 7). He ordained twenty-one presbyters and nineteen bishops (Bar. 357, 66). Was he pope or not? What was the succession worth here, two popes at a time, one subscribing an Arian creed, the other ordained by Arians, sitting while the other was alive, and ordaining others: some holding him to be pope, others not?

253 But this dispute did not quite end with the death of Liberius. Damasus who was chosen to succeed had been of Felix's party. This dissatisfied many, and they met and chose Ursinus who was consecrated too. The See of Rome was worth coveting by men who loved the world. Fine chariots, rich feasts, and regal luxury characterized their life. This is not only the testimony of Ammianus Marcellinus, but Jerome informs us that Praetextatus, a proconsular Roman and of high family and other important offices, when no longer proconsul said that, if they would make him Bishop of Rome, he would turn Christian directly.

Well, there was fighting among the people at Rome who should be pope. Juvenitius, prefect of Rome, and Julian, prefect of provisions, banished Ursinus; his party rescued him and others who were banished. Ursinus' party shut themselves up in a church of Licinus, where he had been consecrated, and they were attacked there, and 137 persons were found killed in the church. The prefect, unable to appease the tumultuary violence, had to go to the country. However Ursinus was banished, and Damasus could amass wealth and leave costly silver vessels to the church at his death. Ursinus then tried again, but the people would not have him; and Siricius was chosen.

R. But the succession was uninterrupted.

N*. And do you soberly think that securing succession in an office that vied with royalty, by fighting and slaughter that magistrates could not stop, is a security for the truth and grace that came by Jesus Christ being conveyed to us, and a mark of the true church? Must not the heart and conscience be dead to everything that constituted Christianity to think so? And, besides, even the succession is not certain. It cannot be said whether Felix was pope or not, or partly yes and partly no, if Liberius lost the papacy by subscribing an Arian creed. But if so, if he really had lost it, Felix should have remained, who had replaced him, and he have not supplanted him again. At any rate we have two popes, one signing an Arian creed, the other consecrated by Arians, both de facto at the same time, whoever was pope. Siricius closed the century.

254 But early in the next we have the succession even more grievously in question. On the death of Zosimus the greater part of the clergy and people chose Boniface, others the archdeacon Eulalius who was consecrated by the prelate of the See of Ostia, who always regularly consecrated the new pontiff. Boniface was consecrated by others. The prefect wrote to the Emperor in favour of Eulalius, who convoked a number of bishops to decide; but there was great division, and he called another council, including the African and Gallican prelates, but, meanwhile, ordered (on a fuller report of the prefect, who said neither were to be trusted) both Boniface and Eulalius to stay outside Rome, and sent another prelate of neither party to celebrate Easter, which was just coming on. Boniface had tried to get in, but was, after first driving back the civil officers, driven back by a large number of them. Eulalius got in, and would not leave on being warned, but Boniface's friends in arms attacked Eulalius', who were not. The Emperor banished the latter for being in the city against orders, and let Boniface have the see. There were the usual tumults and battery and violence on either side. What kind of succession is this?

But towards the end of the same century the difficulty is still greater. Symmachus and Laurentius were both elected popes the same day. In order to terminate the schism they apply to Theodoric, king of the Goths, an Arian, who decided that he who had the majority for him, or was first ordained, should be pope. Symmachus had the majority. The party of Laurentius however subsequently brought him back, and accused Symmachus of crimes. Some of the clergy and others communicated with Symmachus, and some with Laurentius. The king referred it to a council, they to the judgment of God. Symmachus appeared the first time, but, having been nearly assassinated on the way, refused the second time and stood on his privilege, and then they left it to the judgment of God. So he remained pope. The grossest outrages, even against nuns, and fighting and murders, took place on this occasion.

255 A previous council held at Rome had passed decrees against the canvassing and intrigues which took place at the elections, or rather before them. Symmachus was never cleared of the charges. The only really godly man we read of in the case was with Laurentius' party. In their strifes the clergy went so far as to spend all the church's goods to push their candidates, so that civil laws had to be made to repress the abuse. So uncertain was the succession here, that Baronius says that right might seem on either side, and there was not much to blame in Laurentius and his friends in maintaining his right to the Papacy till after the Council of Rome had decided for Symmachus (Bar. 498, 3). But this was a council of Italian prelates held by Symmachus. Symmachus presided himself. Of course it owned him pope. They saluted him with acclamations of long life and his see many years. But it was really no regular council, for the presbyters of his party and deacons signed as well, and it was held a year after his election (Hard. 3, 958).

The Roman Catholic body at that time did not think so much of divine succession. They sent to the civil power, and to an Arian to settle it. To quiet the matter Laurentius was made bishop of another see; so his consecration was owned. Hormisdas succeeded Symmachus, and John, Hormisdas. But then the king, Theodoric an Arian, put Felix into the see — Felix III for Fleury, Felix II for Baronius, as he will not own Felix I at all, though he sat and consecrated various prelates, only Liberius was alive. Felix, though put in by an Arian king, was a good pope, at least there was no competitor; they ordained him on the Arian king's nomination. But the case of his successor was worse still. King Athelric appointed Boniface to be pope; but, if we are to believe Baronius, the Romans wishing to have a pope of their own, chose Dioscurus, and as appears in a letter he quotes, the great body of people were with him. Both were consecrated. However Dioscurus died after some months. Boniface called a council and forced the clergy to condemn and anathematize him after his death, and to give him the power to name his own successor and give it in writing. And Vigilius was named. However in a subsequent council this was all revoked and the writing burned. But if Dioscurus was elected canonically and by the majority of clergy and laity, as rather appears to have been the case, both from Baronius' statements and Boniface being obliged to use such efforts to reduce the clergy to subjection, Boniface was never rightly and canonically pope at all, and the whole succession fails.

256 R. But you have no proof of this, and Boniface was always afterwards owned as pope.

N*. If we are to have apostolic succession as an essential mark of the true church — and it is a vital point in your system — the proof of there being such must be clear, and lies only on you. But you cannot deny that both were consecrated. Baronius, though speaking very cautiously, gives us to understand that the Roman choice by the multitude fell on Dioscurus. He does not attempt to say more than that it happily closed by his death. But if Boniface was not originally pope but Dioscurus, he never could be legitimate pope at all. As to being owned afterwards in the lists, it proves nothing but that he sat in fact, which nobody denies. We shall find a multitude of cases where they are in the lists, and Baronius will not own them. We have seen such an one already in the case of Felix, so that, if you are searching out history, you have to settle, by chronology and contemporary names, which it was. See such a case in Dupin (Cent. 6 under Felix IV). Boniface seems to have pleaded the deliverance of the see from the nomination of the king. He made all the clergy swear to it; and then, when in the subsequent synod it was all set aside and the writing burnt, he absolved them from their oath. The truth is that the breaking up of the Roman empire had put power into the hands of the Roman pontiffs, and all was ambition and wickedness.

After the short pontificates of John II and Agapetus, we arrive at a case in which all pretence of legitimate succession fails. The Emperor of Constantinople was by means of Belisarius engaged in the reconquest of Italy, and the king of the Goths, Theodotus, distrustful of influences not his own at Rome. The clergy met to elect a pope, but he would not allow them to elect the one they desired, but obliged them, under penalty of death, to establish his nominee pope, which they did. Baronius speaks of their wisdom and divine guidance and approbation, that they all consented to nominate Silverius, whom Theodotus had forced upon them. He was son of Pope Hormisdas. He was charged with bribing the king to have him made pope. It is also said this was a calumny. It is possible. Things were in such a state that they were as capable of false accusation as he of bribery. Which was the fact, I do not pretend to say. It is the statement of the historian Anastasius. However he was a pope.

257 But Vigil, who was at Constantinople, intrigued with the empress to be pope, promising to own her favourites who were condemned for false doctrine in the East, if she would have him named. And she sent him with a letter to Belisarius, who was at Rome. The empress had promised 700 pounds of gold if he owned her favourite, and he promised 200 of them to Belisarius if he installed him pope. The Goths had returned to besiege Rome; Silverius was accused of treachery with the Goths. They at last raised the siege however, and Silverius was banished to Patara, in Lycia, by Belisarius, who took off his vestments, and made the clergy elect Vigil; and Vigil sat as pope. Silverius, however, went to the Emperor, who sent him back to Rome, saying, if he had engaged in treacherous correspondence with the Goths, he was not to be reinstated, but if innocent, he should be. But Vigil, fearing for himself, fulfilled then the conditions on which he had got the papacy, and Belisarius delivered Silverius up into his power, and he was sent off to the island of Pontecune, where he died, it is said, of hunger, and Vigil remained pope. This is the pope who had to do with the Emperor and the general council at Constantinople, and condemned and retracted, and retracted his retraction, and at last was let go by the Emperor, who offered to the Romans him or the Archdeacon Pelagius for pope. The two returned together. Vigil died on the road and Pelagius was accused of poisoning him, and could only get two out of the prelates of Italy to consecrate him; all the rest refused. But he purged himself on oath and was the next pope. Nice work to secure faith, and give a sure mark to the simple of the true church!

R. But still they were regularly consecrated, and grace and truth were handed down.

N*. Why the Bishop of Ostia (who was the regular person to do it) laying his hands on a man chosen to be Peter's successor at Rome should convey grace or authority from Peter, it is hard to tell. If Peter had done so, and then his successor on his successor before his death and so on, I might not believe it, but I could understand it. But it is not so. As the case is, the pope, who consecrates ever so many prelates, never confers Peter's authority; and a prelate who has it not, nor any pretensions to it, confers it on the pope. Succession here there is none. However I drop that, as we are examining the facts.

258 Now in Vigil's case the failure is complete on your own shewing. Silverius was deprived by the violence of Belisarius, by the intrigues of some women, and Vigil was thereupon consecrated and made pope. While the pope was alive this was impossible; he could not be Peter's successor while Peter's true successor was there, and he never had any other election or consecration. Baronius tries to make out a second election six days after Silverius' death, but does not dare to hint at a second consecration, so that the fallacy is apparent on the face of it; and Pagius shews that the six days' vacancy mentioned by Anastasius was from Silverius' deposition by Belisarius, and not from his death. It is a miserable attempt to get rid of what is a hopeless flaw in the succession of Roman pontiffs. Pelagius, very probably the poisoner, certainly the successor, of Vigilius, who was no pope at all, has wholly broken the succession of the pontificate, whatever it is worth. We have the true account no doubt in Fleury (32, 57, 58). He wrote secretly to the heretics and remained in possession of the Holy See; at the same time he professed entire orthodoxy to the Emperor, a strange security for faith. Dupin (under the title of Pope Vigil in Cent. 6) tells the truth too plainly: "Although Vigil had mounted the See of Rome in a way wholly unjust, he did not the less remain in possession after the death of Silverius, nor was he the less recognized as legitimate pope, without its appearing even that they proceeded to a new election, or that they confirmed that which had been." Further, Vigil was consulted as pope by foreign prelates as Eleutherius before Silverius's death.

Mr. D. But if you undermine thus the foundations of faith and of the church of God, what have we to rest upon?

N*. And do you mean that one who certainly could not be really pope while another was alive (himself put in by the violence of the king), introduced by an intriguing woman to support what the church called heresy, and paying the general a large sum of money to secure him, and send away his competitor to die of hunger in an island, and his successor so suspected of poisoning him that in all Italy all refused to consecrate him, but two who were not the regular ones to do it — do you mean that these are the foundations of faith and of the church of God? Really it seems to me a man must have his conscience utterly deadened; it is a kind of blasphemy to me to make such things God's security for faith in the church. As to faith, who can tell what Vigil's faith was? — one thing for the Empress and the heretics, another for the Emperor, and then yes and no and yes, as he vacillated between the Emperor and Rome as to the three chapters.

259 R. But it is not certain he wrote those letters to the heretics. It was, as Baronius says, a proof of God's care of the Roman See that he was providentially forced to be orthodox as soon as he became pope, though he had engaged himself to the Empress to favour heresy in order to get it.

N*. Your fairest historians admit he did. I have quoted no Protestant statements. Besides it is a mere shuffle of Baronius that he then became pope, as we have seen. That he made a public confession of orthodoxy to please the Emperor and Rome, when he feared them somewhat, is true; but he went backwards and forwards at Constantinople in just the same unprincipled way. But the fact is, he never was rightful pope at all. He was appointed when a pope was living and only then. But if you say this is so uncertain, how can what is so give ground for certainty of faith? It is, at any rate, certain he never was really pope on your principles of succession. To me, save as I may sorrow over any other sinner, it is quite immaterial; but I consented to examine the boasted succession, as it had been put into other people's heads to puzzle them. My trust is in the sure word of God and in His grace, where, as I have said, there is no succession to be sought; it is itself and always the same.

You may remark here that Silverius was the son of Pope Hormisdas, and subsequently the great Gregory was a descendant of Pope Felix.

I pass over John III, Benedict, Pelagius II, Gregory — a really great man, who just hints at the possibility of a purgatory for extremely small faults (for the gospel had disappeared) and who reformed or composed the Roman Liturgy — Sabinianus, and others, and come to Honorius, in the seventh century, where we meet a difficulty of another kind. Honorius, so far from keeping the faith of others, could not, it seems, keep the faith himself. He is formally condemned and anathematized by name in the third Council of Constantinople, confirmed by Pope Agathon, and anathematized again by Pope Leo II,* whence it is formally taught in Canon Law that the pope can be judged for heresy.

{*It is expressly taught, Dis. 40, c. 6, that a pope can be judged for heresy; and in the gloss, also if he is incorrigible and the church scandalised for evident crimes, because contumacy is heresy; but that the church should pray against it much, as its salvation so depends on the pope.}

260 R. But it is not sure, as Baronius shews, that the letters were Honorius'. A certain Theodore was the person, and that it could not, if they were, be called heresy.

N*. Did you ever read Dupin's remarks on it?

R. Well, I never did.

N*. I should think not. All Baronius proves is that he himself was at his wit's ends about it. No honest Roman Catholic questions it. He is called pope in the acts of the council (the decree was sent to the pope, confirmed by him). Honorius was anathematized by name by Leo II. In a word, the objections are simply, as Dupin says, frivolous and unworthy of attention. As to its being heresy, he states positively in terms what the council condemns, and Leo and Agathon too, and the Roman Council, with Martin and Agathon, popes; so the Emperor in his letter to Rome too. In a solemn judgment on heresy they condemn and anathematize the pope by name. A strange security for the faith! They did not dream of his being such then. And what is the value of the succession of a heretic as a mark of the true church? For my own part I do not think worse of Honorius than of his adversaries. He was in error, but sought to put an end to useless chicanery too. But if he was not wrong, then the popes and the council were wrong in anathematizing him. John IV seems to have no great opinion of him, or at least to think more of Rome's importance, and explains Honorius' doctrine in a statement well meant in the main, but which shews ignorance of the truth of God, confounding man's spirit or conscience with the Holy Ghost, as a Quaker might now. They all confounded, I think, will as a quality of nature, and will in action or selfwill; but on that I contest not. The next pope to John, Theodore, was son of a bishop.

As we proceed, we may see how little like divine order was in the succession of these popes. The Emperors of Constantinople had lost almost all their authority and possessions in Italy, but held Ravenna, where the ex-arch and a governor resided, and Rome. He could not thus directly hinder any pope but those he wished being chosen, but by means of the troops in Rome acted on it indirectly, so that those who sought to be pope bribed the ex-arch to get in (Bar., Conon Pap.). Thus, in the case of Conon's election, the troops held one church, the people another, with two candidates, and could not agree. The clergy and populace went to the Patriarchate and saw Conon, and the troops fell in with the common feeling, and he was elected. The two competitors remained excluded. On Conon's death, Paschal promises the treasures of the church (or, as Baronius says, a hundred pounds of gold) to the ex-arch. One party elect Paschal as pope, another Theodore, and there is a contest between him and Theodore, one holding the inner part of the patriarchal palace, the other the outer, and nothing could be done. The populace see Sergius, and all acclaim him. Theodore gives way, and Paschal has to quit in spite of himself. He sent, however, the gold promised to the ex-arch, and he came down on Rome, and Sergius had to give him some precious treasures of the church, or he would have been sent off. Paschal, charged with magic, died secluded in a monastery.

261 James. But surely, gentlemen — excuse me for speaking — there is nothing holy or of God in all this. It is mere human ambition and wickedness. How can this be a sign of the true church? It is a sign of man's lusts and sin.

N*. Holiness is not required in a pope. The Canon Law says no one is to judge them, save for heresy, as we have seen; and either they adorn their position by their own conduct, or the worth of Peter's excellency rests on them (Dis. 40, 41 non nos.).

Bill M. Well, I must say this is all very strange to me. I did not rest on scripture, and I thought, from what these gentlemen and their friends said, all was holy and blessed, and the pope was called His Holiness, and I took it all for true. But I see now it is all very different from that. How can you, gentlemen, take all this as a proof of the true church? And Dr. Milner has not really told the truth about it. One expects, at any rate a poor man who has not read much does, to find truth in a book like that recommended by people that seem so holy; and it is not honest, I see it plainly. You will forgive me, gentlemen, but I see I have been deceived.

R. But holiness and authority attaches to the office, and not to the man; and we are looking for the true succession in the office. Besides, many were very holy men.

262 Bill M. But, from what I have heard, the succession is anything but sure; and if it were, what is a succession of ambitious men striving for a great place to do with the church of God? I do not see anything very apostolic in that.

D. But you must not impugn the efficacy of sacraments, because the administrators of them were unholy. We are all imperfect.

Bill M. It does seem strange, if holiness is a mark of the true church, that unholiness should be no hindrance to the continuance of grace in it, and God's acceptance of it. Would the greatest villain in the world be the same security for grace and the true faith as the apostle Peter, who was inspired of God? However I do not judge much about that: I am not fit for it. But do you mean that if the church and its heads get unholy and evil, the acceptance and grace of God is as much there as before? Is holiness as much a mark as before? That is hard for an honest man, or any man, to swallow. At any rate, if so, they should not give holiness as a mark of the true one; for, when it is unholy, it is just as true as before.

D. You are pretending to reason, and a person always is ruined when he begins to do that.

Bill M. But you tell me to judge of the church by these marks, and that is what I am trying to do; and when it does not serve your purpose, then you tell me not to judge. I mean no offence, sir, but I do not understand this.

N*. Well, M., we must have patience. I will say a word on Dr. Milner before I close; but we will search farther into this sure succession. What we have seen only gives a faint budding forth of what was to come. The papacy was still in its infancy yet, though already very powerful, and an object of ambition; what you say is in the main perfectly just. Conscience revolts at such a thought, and it upsets their own argument. God is above His own ordinances, and He can inspire extraordinarily a wicked man, as Balaam and Caiaphas. But the moment it is a mark of what the man or the true church is, that is wholly another matter. We are all imperfect; but holiness is that which God works and produces, and a mark of what He owns. He may bear long in patience with us, and does so, but He cannot accept unholiness and sanction that which is contrary to it. He is sovereign and can make a dumb ass reprove a prophet if He will; but what He owns cannot as a mark bear the stamp of unholiness. Where there is the form of godliness without the power, His word is, "From such turn away." But we have closed the seventh century, and I beg you and these gentlemen to remark I have drawn my facts from Roman Catholic sources alone. The names of the popes suffice to point out the places in Baronius and Dupin; in Fleury I have given the place; Tillemont and Platina are the others I have referred to.

263 But I have somewhat more to add of the history while Sergius was reckoned pope. His epitaph is extant (Bar. 701, 8), and by this it appears he was not consecrated till after Theodore's death, who must be considered as a pope, and then Sergius was brought back at the entreaty of the people; indeed it was only then that he was consecrated pope. Thus, during the alleged thirteen years of Sergius' pontificate, Theodore was pope at first, then John (that nobody knows anything about), and Sergius was only consecrated above seven years after he was chosen by acclamation. Then the ex-arch sought to put in another pope, and the soldiers rebelled, and would not let him. Where is apostolic succession to be found? Now without this epitaph no one would have known of Theodore and John being popes. How they were no one knows; papal historians had wisely buried it.

At this time Spain renounced obedience to the Roman See, but northern Italy rejoined it, for it had all been long in what was called schism, not receiving the fifth General Council; and Ravenna still was.

Two events happened about this time, I may note in passing. The Lombards having driven the Greeks out of Italy, Pope Stephen called the Franks in. They had sanctioned already the French mayors of the palace who really reigned, setting aside the puppet kings who did so nominally. The pope received territorial authority under the new Western empire, established in the person of Charlemagne crowned Emperor at Rome. The second fact was the forgery of supposed early decretals, ascribing superior authority to the popes from the first. These were the great foundation of papal authority till the Reformation, when the forgery was detected and exposed, being admitted now by all. There was some opposition from metropolitans at the time; but, as they increased their authority over the prelates under them, they too accepted them.

264 A little farther on in our history we arrive at still greater confusion. At the death of Paul, a Tuscan noble brought his brother Constantine to Rome, and forced a bishop to consecrate him, and he was pope for more than a year, and his election and consecration as pope confirmed by a council. He ordained clergy and consecrated eight bishops. But one of the Roman court, Christophle, went (swearing to Constantine that he would not do it, and perjuring himself) and by treachery brought forces into Rome to drive out the pope. But while this was going on, Constantine, having hid himself, one Philip was taken and consecrated pope. However, Christophle made his way in, and Pope Philip swore that he would not leave Rome till he had been driven out, which was done, and he quietly retired to a monastery. They deposed Constantine, and then elected and consecrated a third pope, Stephen; and Christophle's son went and got Charles, called Charlemagne, and Carloman, Pepin being dead, to send French prelates to Rome to set things in order.

Meanwhile they tore out the eyes of Constantine and his partisans and other suspected persons, and put them into monasteries, or used other torturing processes. The French prelates came and assembled. The blind Constantine was brought before them. They struck and abused him when he cited similar cases of the consecration of laymen, burnt the acts of the council which confirmed his election, ordered the prelates he had consecrated to come to Rome to be reconsecrated, which was done; but many Roman Catholics held the second as simply null and void. His presbyters were left as they were, contrary to the decree of the council. Sergius and Christophle had their eyes torn out by Didier, and Christophle was put to death (Fleury 43, 44, and subsequent; Dupin, Etienne 3, cent. 8). Baronius treats the see as vacant till Stephen was elected. He will not at all allow that the eight prelates were re-consecrated, which is impossible (he holds), and puts in the margin of the historian quoted, "reconciled." So he does for the presbyters, when the same word is used, without saying they were never consecrated by Stephen, as the prelates were.

Now they were clearly reconciled, and remained as they were. It is a mere come-off for Constantine's episcopacy; and as it was the episcopacy of Rome, pontificate was thereby acknowledged. All was confusion. There were three popes all consecrated, one having ordained many others, and even bishops of sees; if Constantine was bishop, he was bishop of Rome and pope; if not, here was the whole clergy vitiated in its source. And they were literally tearing out each other's eyes, and laymen using violence to put their favourites into the see. Stephen got in by the perjury of Christophle and the arms of his followers, Constantine's armed brother being killed by treachery in the fight, and another consecrated pope glad to get off unscathed and end his days in a monastery.

265 Bill M. Well! well! and is that the holy Catholic church? Who would have thought it!

R. There were dark and gloomy days, no doubt, and violence and confusion prevailed; but Stephen was regularly elected and consecrated, so that the succession continued.

N*. How can I say that? Constantine, who had been consecrated and confirmed by a local council, was alive, though his eyes were torn out, and Philip too. And if Constantine were not properly consecrated, then all the clergy he ordained were no clergy at all, and there were no real sacraments; I speak always on your own principles. As to violence, violence there was. But the violence was as much on the side of Stephen as Constantine. The only difference was, that John, Constantine's partisan and brother, was guilty only of violence; Christophle, of perjury too. Rome was an object of ambition, and they fought for it. Stephen ordained in his council that only the clergy should elect, and the people then salute him; that images should be adored, which was forbidden at Constantinople by a very numerous council, and by a still larger one (under Charlemagne, at Frankfort) of several hundred bishops. They condemned images in the strongest terms, however the adorations and superstition prevailed. King Pepin gave tithes to the clergy, and Charlemagne issued orders for the regulation of the church and clergy. The pope's legates were at the Council of Frankfort, where a late Constantinopolitan council, which restored the use of images, presided over by the pope's legates and received by him, was utterly rejected. This was somewhat later in 794; I speak of it here in order not to return to in Pope Adrian answered Charlemagne very mildly, excusing himself. This pope's letter to Charlemagne makes no objection to the Greek doctrine as to the procession of the Holy Ghost. Pope Stephen IV (or V, one having died as soon as elected, and hence not counted by many) ordained that the clergy only should elect, the people being present, and that it should not be done without the Emperor's ambassadors being there, in consequence of the violence often used.

266 The words of the decree are, When a pope is to be instituted, the bishops and all the clergy coming together, let the person to be ordained be chosen, the senate and people being present, and, thus elected by all, let him be consecrated, the imperial ambassadors being present. The reason of the decree is that the violence took place because the consecration of the pope took place without the imperial knowledge, and that according to canonical right and custom, direct messengers from the Emperor were not there who would hinder these scandals from being perpetrated. He made the Romans swear fealty to the Emperor. I refer to this because it shews what this pretended succession was — such scenes of violence, that the Roman pontiff, jealous enough of civil interference, is obliged to call in the representatives of the Emperor, that it may at least proceed with some decency. It forms also a kind of turning-point, excluding (though in ambiguous terms) the people from direct election. But what an idea of Christian care and episcopal succession, if such be the rule; armed men forcing a pope on the see, or armed men driving him away, and lynch-law executed in tearing out their eyes, and a third smuggled into the see between the two competitors, and then smuggled out!

James. Well, it is dreadful to be sure! And when one compares the words of the blessed Lord, how can one think there should be grace, or faith, or anything belonging to Christ here?

N*. There were Christ's hidden ones surely all through, but it is not in the great or the doctors that we find in general anything like Christ. And now all was superstitious, translating relics and the like, though there was, as we have seen, resistance to it. The power of Charlemagne was a remarkable feature of the time, and the way he governed the church in his empire, and led hundreds of bishops in council to reject image worship, as now restored in the East. Still all was confusion and violence; he conquered the Saxons who were heathens, and drove them with the sword to be baptized in the Elbe, and so they were made Christians of. There were devoted men, however, who occupied themselves with the spread of Christianity such as they knew it. The Roman See had very great wealth and possessions, and, Pepin having added large territories to those the see already had, it was hence the object of ambition. Piety was occupied with buildings, and sumptuous clothes of service in the church.

267 After Pope Adrian's death there were again two popes chosen, and the conflict was so serious that the Emperor's son had to go to Rome to settle it. But it does not appear that the second was consecrated, though nothing is known of the matter, save that it was important enough to take the Emperor's eldest son to Rome. The Emperor asserts fully his imperial rights over Rome, and against the pope even, but uses them to have elections free, and forbids tumults. The nobles, it is said (Fleury, 46, 52), were for Eugenius, and carried the day. The Romans all swore however not only allegiance, but that no pope should be consecrated in their presence without swearing allegiance to the Emperor. Still the pope's authority was gradually increasing, to which the forged decretals, which came out about this time, largely contributed. But till the decay of the empire, which was rapid, the Emperors within its limits governed prelates and lords, a bishop and a count being sent to have all things in order. When their power was quite decayed in Italy, the popes were engaged in the intrigues of the great nobles to set up kings and emperors there, the Marquises of Tuscany at length getting authority over Rome, and putting their creatures into the papacy, often their illegitimate children, or those of the popes themselves. I merely state this briefly in passing, as the condition of the empire, that we may better understand the state of things.

It was at this time that the famous history of Pope Joan had its date, a history believed for centuries, not indeed doubted till the Reformation. A German woman, born however in England, went to Athens, and thence to Rome, and became so distinguished in her literary teachings, that she was at length, it is said, elected pope, and held the see two years; but, having given birth to a child on the way to the Lateran church near the Coliseum, died, and was buried with disgrace.

R. But you do not believe this odious fable, invented by the enemies of Rome, and long after the event?

N*. Could you say by whom it was invented? I know Harding, the Jesuit, and Pagius ascribe it to Martinus Polonus, who, remark, was an eminent Roman Catholic writer, the latter thinking even Martin falsified. But why should a famous Roman Catholic invent it? The efforts to refute it are various: some say it was a retort of the Greeks to an accusation of a similar case in one who held the patriarchate of Constantinople; while the strongest argument against this is that the Greeks never mention it at all when most hostile to the See of Rome, but speak of Benedict III as successor of Leo IV. This, with the difficulties of chronology, are the strongest answer to it. But, in numbering the popes, this Joan is required to make them out. John XXI would only be XX without this Joan. It was believed and not questioned for centuries, indeed admitted as true till the Reformation, spoken of as true by ecclesiastical writers, by John Huss without the Council of Constance reproaching him with it. The pope's sex was examined by the youngest sub-deacon from the eleventh century.* Platina introduces her under the title of John VII, saying he would not seem to omit what almost all affirm. Whence did the story originate? It is not a Protestant allegation. It was fully believed and affirmed centuries before Luther. Roman Catholic historians since the Reformation pass it under silence, or deny it, as Baronius in his Annals (853, 56) with Pagius' notes, and others. But before that, it is Roman Catholic historians who record it.

{*This is also attributed to another motive; after receiving the salutation of all, he was set on the night-stool (stercoraria) to shew he was a poor mortal. This continued to Leo X.}

268 R. Leo Allatius ascribes its origin to the history of a false prophetess at Maine.

N*. But this is outrageously far-fetched. What should turn a false prophetess at Maine, who did not conceal her sex, into a pope of Rome who did? And why should the sex of the pope be examined continually afterwards? It is alleged, and still by Roman Catholic authors, that there were monuments recording it (indeed as to some it cannot be doubted, their destruction being also recorded) and that the pope never passed that way (the straight one) from St. Peter's to Lateran.* Now I will not say it is proved; but no one has yet accounted for the story, nor for the facts in connection with the pope. Rome is their source, and, as to some of the monuments of it, there can hardly be any doubt. Men may very well question the truth of the story, but when we are looking for a certain succession as a foundation and security for our faith, this is very serious. It makes such a ground of security worse than nothing.

{*The authorities are cited — too long to go through here — in Jewel's answer to Harding (5, 351, Kele's edition), Basnage (Hist. de l'Eglise, 408 ff.). These authors are Protestants, but the books they cite from are not. So L'Enfant's translation of Spanheim. Those who read German can consult Schroek, who does not think it proved. All authorities are quoted. It is difficult to deal with Anastasius, in the same century, states it; but it is said to be interpolated, and there is a long history as to this, and Jesuit frauds connected with it. It is in Marianus Scotus. Here again it is said the best manuscripts have it not, but Baronius admits he has the story. He was in the eleventh century. Martinus Polonus has the whole story in full in 1278. These are two renowned Roman Catholic writers. But interpolations are charged, as the taking out in editions is insisted on too. That it was then universally accredited is evident. And who should have put it into so many grave Roman Catholic writers? The strongest proof against it is Hincmar's letter to Nicolaus I in 866, which was sent to Leo IV and found Benedict there, but this is sought to be avoided. However, having given a short view of the question, for there is a vast deal more said, I leave the matter where it is.}

269 James. But what a way we have got from anything Christian, sir!

N*. Far indeed; but this you must, if you follow the popes. But it is the very thing which this sad history is useful for, to prove that the Roman system is as far from Christianity as anything can possibly be. But alas! though this story makes the certainty of succession utterly untenable, we shall find in this and the whole condition of popery far more grievous and flagrant facts still, and that their own marks — their apostolicity, as much as their holiness and catholicity — are wholly wanting. It was just about this period that the separation of the Greek and Roman bodies began, and began really about hierarchical importance, though consummated somewhat later, when dogmas were alleged as an excuse. The manners of the clergy, and of the popes particularly, became at this time so licentious and corrupt (incest and unnatural crimes flowing from imposed or lauded celibacy) that it is hard to say in such corruption what is to be trusted. But we will proceed.

Schroek attributes, citing from others, the story of Pope Joan to this. Universally recognized as it was, it must have had some source, and the source was Rome. The attempt to put another on the papal throne instead of Benedict failed, and may be passed over. His follower was crowned, a thing immaterial to us, but shewing the progress of anti-christian character. He began too, to use the forged decretals in his conduct towards metropolitans. His follower absolved the Emperor from a solemn, though forced, oath.

270 I have nothing to remark till we come to the end of the century, when, in 891, Formosus (already consecrated bishop of old, but sent as legate to Bulgaria) was chosen pope, and enthroned, but not consecrated over again, the first example of such a transfer to Rome. Whether it may be considered a succession to Peter may be well questioned. Such translation was strictly forbidden in the early church. But on that I do not insist. He was never consecrated to the Roman See, or to be successor of Peter, as they say. Either the consecration of a pontiff to be Peter's successor has nothing to do with the matter, and any other is as good, or he was not a successor at all — he was only his successor by election, and any special descending grace and security by being consecrated successor of Peter is a fable. After this we are plunged in struggles and confusion, so that to speak of succession is really ridiculous. The empire was weakened, Italian nobles struggled for the crown, and popes brought in German princes to counteract their efforts, and whichever party prevailed put in a pope, who undid what his predecessor had done.

We have an instance of this in Formosus. He is called bishop of Porto, but fled with others from Rome with the pope's treasures. After his return from Bulgaria he was cited to appear, and was condemned by regular process before the Pope, John VIII, deprived of his priesthood, degraded, and, after delay given, anathematized. This sentence was confirmed in the Council of Troyes. The pope condemned those connected with Formosus, who belonged to his own court, and did rob, and would have killed, him.* They fled; but it appears that Formosus not only was banished, but had to swear that he never would join in public service but as a layman. Marinus (or Martin) followed, who, Platina says, got in by evil arts. He undid all that John VIII had done as to Formosus, and absolved him from his oath, and restored him to his bishopric (Fleury 53, 45). He was pope little more than a year. Adrian followed for two months, then Stephen, and then Formosus himself became pope by bribery, says Platina, more than by virtue.

{*The whole history discloses scenes of excessive wickedness, even in the pope's family; one named George was accused of having murdered Pope Benedict, whose niece he had married.}

271 Boniface was then consecrated pope, elected by the popular voice, but died, it is said, of the gout in fifteen days. Platina says he was pope, Fleury that his intrusion was condemned (54, 28). He, too, had been deposed from the subdiaconate and from the priesthood.* Dupin (9, 16) says, Formosus, having returned under Marinus, intrigued to get the Holy See; then the see was disputed by Boniface and Stephen. Baronius will not own Boniface at all; yet he was consecrated pope as well as any one, but died somehow in fifteen days. I may as well quote here, though somewhat long, the statement of the history by Baronius (897, 1), no Protestant account, but a very great stickler for the Roman See. "He (Boniface) held the see fifteen days. He is not to be reckoned among the pontiffs, being condemned in a Roman Council under Pope John IX,** as shall be said in its place, a wicked man, already twice deposed, once from the diaconate, then from the priesthood, but against him Stephen the Seventh, called Sixth, was substituted, the intruded Boniface driven out by one in like manner intruded. All these things were extorted by force and fear, and have brought the greatest ignominy on the holy Roman church. But that some of the intruded pontiffs have afterwards been received as pontiffs, others altogether set aside, as Boniface, of whom we speak, comes from this, that those, however tyrannically they got hold of the see, yet the consent of the clergy having followed (accidente), it was better to tolerate them, whatever they were, than have the church divided by schism, and than that legitimate pontiffs in new electoral assemblies be chosen by accustomed rites. That we should say this, evident necessity compels us, because the universal Catholic church honoured them as legitimate pontiffs, obeyed them and recognized them as vicars of Christ, successors of Peter, and went to them with the respect (cultu) due to a true pontiff."

{*Fleury (54, 31) says it was really for not following the political views of the pope, John VIII.}

{**Not ninth unless Pope Joan be counted as a John.}

This is a direct acknowledgment that they were not legitimate pontiffs, but that it was more convenient to own them than have a schism. If they succeed in holding their ground, better own them. If a stronger, like Stephen, intrudes and puts out the first intruder, and he dies of the gout in fifteen days, then he is not in the list at all. Yet Boniface was as much consecrated pope as Stephen, and if Stephen was consecrated after him, before he died of the gout, Stephen, the successful intruder, was never legitimately consecrated at all. Is not apostolic succession a farce after such facts and acknowledgments as these? The attempt to have a legitimate pontiff would have produced schism, so better to accept unprincipled intruders; and it was done. Luitprand (quoted by Baronius) says, Formosus being dead, and Arnulf (the Emperor he had favoured and brought to Rome to help him) gone home, he who was constituted pope after the death of Formosus is expelled, and Sergius (Stephen, Baronius says, at the instigation of Sergius) constituted pope by Adelbert; and then he relates the horrible history I shall now briefly relate, Stephen getting his act withal to be confirmed by a council at Rome.

272 He disinterred Formosus, set up his dead body on the pontifical throne, and dressed it in the pontifical robes, and, a kind of assembly being formed, addressed it as an unworthy intruder in the see. A deacon was given him to defend him, but, counted as unable to defend him, he was stripped of the robes, the fingers cut off with which he consecrated, and his body thrown into the Tiber, and all his consecrations held for nothing, and the subjects of them consecrated anew. All this was condemned and annulled afterwards. But before we proceed to further history, I must remark that at this epoch all is a sea of confusion as to the succession of the papacy. If I take up an ordinary history, I find John VIII, Marinus, Adrian III, Formosus, perhaps Boniface, and then Stephen VII (or VI).

But if I look a little below the surface, I find Sergius elected pope, as well as Formosus. Luitprand's account of it, quoted by Baronius (891, 3), is that they were in the act of consecrating Sergius when Formosus' party came and drove him by force from the altar; so Formosus was pope.

But then further, most respectable Roman Catholic writers, historians every way recognized among them, introduce two more popes here, Agapetus and Basil. These authorities are Marianus Scotus and Sigebert, who remark that these names were not found in some writers in his time, nor did the latter even die of the gout in fifteen days. Others follow these; — how they came to be put in is hard to say. They may have been antipopes, whom their party owned, the others not. The chronology does not suit; but that is hardly more certain than the list of popes, Leo Ostiensis leaving out Stephanus VI. Now Agapetus and Basil may be supposed popes, and Stephen a real one; Sergius may have just escaped, being one half ordained, and Formosus succeeded by the violence of his followers, who expelled Sergius with no small tumult and outrage from the altar, says Luitprand; but where is the certainty of succession and decency — I will not condescend to say holiness — in your Roman Catholic church? To say nothing of Formosus going against the ancient canons, and being already Prelate of Ostia, never being consecrated pope at all.

273 R. But he could not be consecrated over again.

N*. Be it so; but he was never consecrated successor of Peter at all. He was an ambitious prelate, who had sworn never to come to Rome to be anything but a layman.

R. But Pope Marinus absolved him from his oath and reinstated him in his see.

N*. A strange way of maintaining holiness as a mark of the church! But then, the canons peremptorily forbidding translation from one see to another without any fresh consecration, he seizes by open violence the See of Peter, so called, when another is actually being consecrated, and so becomes successor of Peter. The only thing he was Pope of Rome by was by outrage and violence; and your Baronius is obliged to own that popes who intruded were dropped out of the list or kept in it as it suited convenience, to avoid worse schisms; so that there are many popes not allowed in the lists, who were as much popes as those in it. Agapetus and Basil may have been as much popes as Boniface, and others we shall find, whom Baronius leaves out. Nothing is more uncertain than what you call apostolic succession.

R. But do you believe that Agapetus and Basil were really popes? There is no ground really to suppose they were.

N*. I really do not know. But I know that several most respectable historians say they were, and that Baronius, whom you trust, admits that many illegitimate popes were recognized rather than have schism, and Boniface he does not own, who was certainly consecrated pope. All I say is, that there is no certainty at all in your apostolic succession; and that ordinations too were annulled, and set up again just as parties varied.

274 R. There were doubtless dark ages, and the empire too was in dissolution and confusion, and Italy in the disorder of incipient feudalism, different parties having the upper hand in their time, and this had its effect on the church in those turbulent times.

N*. Quite true; but this merely says that, instead of a holy apostolic succession, a light to the world in the lowliness of Jesus, it had fallen into the world and its darkness, and was a prey to the violences, which set one up and another down, as parties had the upper hand, and so it was. But then what becomes of holy apostolic succession?

R. God has doubtless preserved it.

N*. He has preserved the church in spite of it; but you make it a matter of faith, like its holiness (as Dr. Pusey says); but history denies it in fact, and as we are looking for marks of the true church, which even a poor man can use to find it, we ought to have facts, not believe one thing that he may believe another by the proof it gives. You have no apostolic succession in fact, but require one to believe there must have been, and then take it as a mark, as if it were.

It is well to give Baronius' account of the papacy at this epoch. It will give us a just idea of apostolic succession. He says of Stephen, who had so treated Formosus' body (906, 6): "In this year Stephen, the invader of the apostolic See, and himself driven out, is thrown into prison and strangled." He then quotes his epitaph: "Thus indeed the wicked man suffered, who entered as a thief and a robber [a singular kind of apostolic succession!] into the sheepfold, closed his life by a halter — so infamous an end — through an avenging God."

"Indeed, all things at Rome, sacred and profane, were mingled up with factions, so that the promotion of the Roman pontiff to the apostolic See was in the hands of him that was most powerful; so that at one time the Roman nobles, at another time the Prince of Etruria, intruded by secular power whom they would, and cast down him who might have been promoted to the Roman pontiff by the contrary faction; and this was done almost all this century till the Othos, Emperors of Germany, came in against both opposing parties, arrogating, however, also to himself the election of pope, and putting down him who was elected."

And we shall find consequently two or three at a time, all successors, or none a true pope. But at this moment 900, 8), the faction of the Romans having the upper hand of Adelbert, Marquis of Tuscany (Pope Stephen, called Sixth, having been removed, as you have heard), they created a certain person, Romanus by name, who lived, it is said, four months and twenty days, but it is not easy to say what month or day by ancient monuments. But Stephen, he adds, lived to the end of the year. Theodore succeeded Romanus, but lived only twenty days, and John IX succeeded him. Platina says, Romanus set aside the acts of Stephen. At any rate, Theodore buried Formosus and brought back the bishops to their sees, and the priests he had ordained in their offices. Those who replaced them were to be counted of course intruders and false, whatever their ordinations and sacrament-giving were worth; but John IX went farther.

275 Still the same conflict for the papacy; some chose Sergius, who had been trying to be pope a long while, and had been half consecrated (Formosus having, as will be remembered, driven him from the altar), was chosen pope. However John had the stronger party, and Sergius was driven out from Rome, and retired to Adelbert, Marquis of Tuscany. John held council, re-established fully the memory and acts of Formosus, restored his bishops in a council, burnt the acts of the council held by Stephen, and forbade any translation again from another see, which the canons forbade under a penalty of being reduced to the state of a layman, and also anyone being placed in the See of Rome without the presence of the Emperor's commissaries, that these violences might not take place.

But decrees do not destroy passion or ambition. Sergius was still hankering after the papacy, and the history of the see is full of darkness here, though the discovery of monuments has thrown some light on it. Benedict IV succeeded John IX, if Sergius was not true pope. If not, Baronius admits that Sergius held the papacy during the time he gives to Benedict (906, 1). Pagius gives to Sergius all these years. Dupin (10, chap. 2) gives only about a year to Benedict; Platina says, three years and four months. Leo succeeded him; he was pope forty days; his house-chaplain Christophle took him and put him in prison and made himself pope in his stead. However our old friend Sergius heard of it, came to Rome, took Christophle and put him in prison in his turn, and seated himself on the papal throne. We hear of no consecration; indeed he seems to have sat on the papal throne already. If he was, all the late popes were no popes at all; or if he was not, then he sat as pope without any consecration and conferred orders. At all events there had been two popes all the time from Formosus, Benedict IV, Leo, Christophle. Really to talk of apostolic succession, as a security for the true church and the faith, is worse than ridiculous.

276 But further, Sergius renewed his hatred against Formosus, annulled all his ordinations, and forced the ordained to receive ordination over again, and annulled all that John IX had done in his council to make valid the acts set aside by Stephen.

It was at this time that Auxilius wrote a book against the pontiffs, assailing the ordinations, annulling of ordinations and re-ordinations, so that nothing was certain. It was hard to know who was a priest and who was not. These were unhappy times, says Baronius, when each intruded pontiff set aside what had been done by another. So here that wicked Sergius, a man, the slave of every vice, the most wicked of all, what did he leave unattempted?