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Pelagianism, which thrived especially in Gaul, maintained itself for a longer space, and was not emphatically disowned in that region till the sixth century. Still, it was not strict Augustinianism which held the field. In point of theory, the Latin Church showed an inclination to modify the radical tenets of Augustine; while in its spirit and practice it increasingly paid tribute to the idea of salvation by works, and really nurtured a crude species of practical Pelagianism.
CHURCH CONSTITUTION AND DISCIPLINE.
1.- ELECTION, EDUCATION, AND CELIBACY OF THE
In the mode of filling ecclesiastical positions, there was exhibited a mixture of the popular and of the hierarchical principle. The tendency, no doubt, was to withdraw the suffrage wholly from the people; but it was only by slow advances that this result was reached. While the presbyters and deacons were appointed by the bishops, the custom remained quite generally in vogue to ask the people if the candidate was acceptable. In the election of a bishop, the bishops of the province were the principal factors; but the will of the people was more or less consulted, and sometimes, especially in the West, asserted itself with determining force. In the elevation, for example, of Ambrose to the bishopric of Milan, the popular choice and enthusiasm bore down every thing else. This rather mixed suffrage, in places where the people were given to violent partisanship, and the clergy were imbued with a worldly and political temper, could easily give rise to unseemly disorders. All abuse, in an age of hierarchical tendencies, was naturally turned to the prejudice of the popular principle. It was after the close of the present period, however, before the people were legislated out of all participation in the choice of bishops. To be sure, we find the council of Laodicea, in the latter part of the fourth century, prescribing in general terms that the prerogative of electing to the priesthood (iepatelov) should no longer be conceded to the people. But, as a matter of fact, such a prerogative was not yet fully cancelled, even in the East to which the canon in question more especially applied. As for the West, we meet at the middle of the next century, from so eminent an authority as Leo the Great, the broad statement that "he who is to preside over all should be elected by all.”2 Different plans of episcopal election were finally adopted by the East and the West respectively. The former based its practice upon the fourth canon of the first council of Nicæa, which reads as follows: “ The bishop shall be appointed by all (the bishops] in the eparchy (or province] ; if this is not possible on account of pressing necessity, or on account of the length of journeys, three at the least shall meet and proceed to the imposition of hands, with the permission of those absent, in writing. The confirmation of what has been done belongs by right, in each eparchy, to the metropolitan." The seventh and eighth ecumenical councils (787 and 869) interpeted this canon as mean. ing that a bishop should be elected only by bishops, and the practice of the Eastern Church was conformed to this interpretation. The Latin Church, on the other hand, regarded the canon as applying only to ordination and confirmation; and while, it too, excluded the people from episcopal elections (about the eleventh century), it excluded likewise the bishops of the province, and confined the suffrage to the clergy of the cathedral Church. As respects confirmation, also, Latin custom ultimately became distinguished from Greek, in that the Pope took the place of the metropolitan in the West, and was credited with the sole determining power to confirm the choice of a bishop. These regulations were in general successful in excluding the mass of the people, but secular princes still had it in their power to exercise much influence over episcopal elections. Even the papal throne itself was sometimes made to represent the overshadowing effect of secular power and patronage.
1 Canon 13. See Helele, $ 93. The canon is understood by eminent expositors to refer to the episcopal office as well as to that of priests.
2 Epist. x. 6. “Teneatur subscriptio clericorum, honoratorum testimonium, ordinis consensus et plebis. Qui præfuturus est omnibus, ab oinnibus eligatur.” Compare Epist. xiii. It is interesting to note that this most aggressive champion of the monarchy of the Roman see strongly asserted in another form a democratic principle. Expressing the theory of the common priesthood of believers, he says: “Omnes in Christo regeneratos crucis signum efficit reges, sancti vero Spiritus unctio consecrat sacerdotes” (Serm., iv. 1).
The isolation of the clergy from ordinary rank and occupation, and the multiplication of theological controversies, naturally turned attention to ministerial education. On the other hand, the growth of ceremonialism, and the attractions which ecclesiastical positions had from a worldly stand-point, tended to qualify the emphasis laid upon the teaching function of the clergy and their own apprehension of the need of thorough culture. As a resultant of these different tendencies, we find special efforts and provisions in the direction of ministerial education, but, at the same time, a wide
1 Hefele, $ 42.
spread neglect of the same. The latter fact is indicated by the following complaint of Gregory Nazianzen: “Only he can be a physician who has examined into the nature of diseases; he a painter, who has had much experience in mixing colors and drawing forms; but a clergyman may readily be found, not laboriously wrought, but brand-new, sown and full blown in a moment, as the legend says of the giants.”1 Among theological schools, that of Alexandria took the lead at the beginning of the period, but was soon rivalled by that of Antioch. Cæsarea in Palestine was quite an eminent seat of theological culture. A school founded at Edessa in the fourth century, by Ephræm the Syrian, flourished about a hundred years, and educated ministers for Mesopotamia and Persia. A seminary founded at Nisibis in Mesopotamia, in the fifth century, was the chief source of theological culture among the Nestorians. The West could boast of no such noted educational centres, but enterprising bishops in that region in part supplied the lack by personal attention to the training of those within or preparing for the ministry. In both East and West the cloisters were a factor in the education of the clergy; they were, however, relatively less conspicuous in this office in the present than in the subsequent era.
Before the close of the third century there was quite a general preference for clerical celibacy. But still for a time no tribunal, having anything more than provincial jurisdiction, imposed a celibate life upon the three orders of the ministry. The Spanish council of Elvira stood alone, in the first part of the fourth century,
1 Orat., xliii. 26.