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feeling, productive and suggestive of civil liberty;” and, amid the systematic attempts of Rome, afterwards, favored with learning, wealth, tact, and the affection she had inspired, to erect an undivided sovereignty over the hearts and arms of the AngloSaxons, this same spirit has never decayed. First evinced when the intrepid Druids plunged from the smouldering hamlets of Mona, preferring death to Roman servitude, and thus cheering the faith of their countrymen if the counterpart may be observed, gifted with a more spiritual impersonation, amid the fires of Smithfield, and owning such men as Latimer and Ridley. But their defence (heroic as it must have been) was unavailing $ for who could resist the colossal power, who could curb the iron legions, of “the seven-hilled city ?” The extension of Roman authority generally softened and subdued the fierce valor of the Britons;| and, as wave after wave of their more independent foes (the Picts) rolled down from the north, instead of manfully repelling the ferocious invaders, they invoked the aid of the Saxons," who became more formidable as allies, than they ever could have become as enemies. During the Roman domination, the Britons had received some faint sparks of Christianity.** We have spoken of the Druids: it was on this predisposed stock that its pristine influences were grafted in their purity, and from the feelings to whose exhibitions we have alluded, they took their warmest, most ineffaceable impress. “The word of life” had reached them, and was received into the affections of a people whose earnest care and self-denying efforts have been to exhibit it to the world, and transmit it to others unimpaired. The enervating influence of excessive luxury, (which “saevior armis incubuit, victum ulciscitur orbem,”) and the fires of persecution, have equally failed to crush its ener
ies. Of the latter there were two: the first raged under Diocletian ; and the Saxons, ferocious pagans as they were, soon annihilated the vestiges of a milder
* Mor. Ger., iii. (Murphy, n. 5 and 8.) .
+ Annal., Lib. xiv. sec. 29 and 30; Agric.., xiv. (Murphy, n. 11.)
§ Ilid (Murphy, p. 600, moto.) .
| Agric. xiii. xviii., xx-xxi. xxxiv.
T.A. 1), 446, (just 1400 years ago.)
** Fuller, Eccl. Hist., (Lond Edit.,) vol. I. pp. 7, 17; Waddington, idem, p. 133.
faith, that yet remained linked with the singularly simple habits and unwavering fidelity of the Britons. We are frank to confess that this period was not so remarkable or important, religiously considered, as a future one. Probably the virtue and energy of the Britons are more conspicuous in their civil relations; for the first phase in the development of these germs of free institutions, that so slowly expanded afterwards, was here visible; and yet their attachment to religion must have been considerably operative, for it sustained them under the grinding oppression of the “mistress of the world,” then ruled by one of her most ruthless tyrants. The astute and critical scholar, as his eye lingers with fond delight on the limnings of the brief, sententious Tacitus, will not fail to trace many offshoots from the rude institutions of the ancient Germans transplated, developed, and now operative in our varied forms of social life, as well as our principles of government and modes of political procedure.* Probably they were one race with the Britons.# Of both it may be said, that “their souls were raised by taking a free part in concerns more dignified than those of individuals. The energy was awakened, which, after many ages of storm and darkness, qualified the Teutonic race to be the ruling portion of mankind, to lay the foundation of a better-ordered civilization than that of the eastern or ancient world, and finally to raise into the fellowship of those blessings the nations whom they had subdued.” (Mackintosh, “England.”) The first permanent conversions to Christianity, occurred during the reign of Ethelbert, (A. D. 596,) and were accomplished by the enterprising devotion of St. Augus
* Interal. ‘the hundreders, (Mor. Ger.vi. Murphy, note 9:) limited authority of their kings, vii.; the influence of woman over them, especially on the battlefield, vii. and viii.; customs of “wager of batises,” “duel,” &c., the origin of chivalry, ibid, note 3 : their political assemblies, (commune consilium, the type ol. Wittenagemot,” and origin, throug it, § the British Constitution, xi, n. 5; reckoning by nights instead of days, ibid. ".7 ; their punishsents pecuniary, (‘mulcis.”) xx.xxi., illustrated by “Deodands,” n.4, and voluntary “tribute,”xy., n. 6; Parliament (the influence of ;) reverence for the sanctity of the marriage relation, xviii. xix.; and influence of “Salique” law, xx. m. i. ; and respect for the dead, xxvii. -
# This seems to be the increasingly probable opinion of the best authorities; vide in connection, Mor. Ger. xl. (Murphy, note 6, ibid.)
tine. From this period to the landing of William the Conqueror, the faith and confidence of the Anglo-Saxons (though subjected to trials and seductions of no ordinary character) met no annihilation. Here was the golden age of English religious energy; for no subsequent period has been marked by more unity of aim, by a more unswerving attachment to the doctrines and practice of the uncorrupted Christian church. That a more particular and satisfactory view of Anglo-Saxon Britain may be enjoyed, we shall take the liberty of quoting from a work, whose spirit and excellencies are appreciable by the simple-minded Christian, never unwelcome to the refined and critical scholar.” Our limits will permit but brief glances at some of the most prominent features of this age—an age whose records are crowded with an interesting portraiture of those who suffered, labored, and died, having accomplished the work allotted to them. Little was the resistance to that strong incentive of propagating Christianity by the sword, in the minds of most northern monarchs, as is abundantly evident from the records of Swedish history. No such conversions, however, took place in England; all was peaceful and voluntary.
“Mercia received the faith from the pious industry of the Northumbrian princes, who were eminently instrumental in the dissemination of Christianity among the numerous tribes of their countrymen. Peada, the son of Penda, King of Mercia, had offered his hand to the daughter of Oswin, the successor of Oswald ; but the lady spurned the addresses of a > and the passion of the prince induced him to study the principles of her religion. His conversion was rewarded with the object of his affection”—and he became a sincere adherent to the new faith.
Sussex was peopled by a fierce, intract
able race, yet Wilfrid's superior zeal or address introduced Christianity even here.
“Expelled from his diocese by the intrigue of his enemies, he wandered an i. exile among the tribes of the south, when Edilwalch, King of Sussex, who had been lately baptized, invited him to attempt the conversion of his subjects.”
Thus, guided by the glowing pathos of his eloquence, his “slaves were first converted, and generously restored to their freedom on the day of their baptism;” an eloquent commentary on the sentiment, “he is free whom the truth makes free”— paralleled but once in the records of history, (that in the Sandwich Islands, to which we shall hereafter refer.)
“Thus in the space of about eighty years was successfully completed the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons; an enterprise which originated in the charity of Gregory the Great, and was unremittingly continued by the industry of his disciples, with the assistance of o co-operators from Gaul and Italy.”
“The acquisition of religious knowledge introduced a new spirit of legislation; the presence of the to. and superior clergy imF. the wisdom of the national councils; and aws were framed to punish the more flagrant violations of morality, and prevent the daily broils which harass the peace of society.”
Even such, to this day, has been the state of Scandinavia—the primal germ again bursting forth, in fresher luxuriance; for the “House of the Clergy” there retains an elevating and conservative check upon the other branches of the legislature, and all who visit Sweden are surprised at the happy results of such influence.* Perhaps it may be useful to consider whether some slight imitation of this arrangement might not be practicable in our own body politic. That they are highly necessary, none who have sedulously noted public affairs, will fail to perceive.†
Then royalty, meekly obedient, sought the more permanent aid of religion, and worshipped at other shrines than those of lust, or passion, or ambition.
“In the clerical and monastic establishments, the most sublime of the Gospel virtues were carefully practiced: even kings descended from
* “History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, by John Łs. D. D.” Philadelphia Edition, M. Fithian, 1844. Excellent as this volume is, there is much room for improvement. Some of our enterprising publishers might publish an edition containing judicious translations of the numerous Latin extracts which form a large portion of the body and notes of the work. Under the guidance of a good editor, other, improvements might be made which would render it more adapted for the popular mind. ... .
# Dr. Baird's Visit, (N. Y. Edi. 1841,) pp. 41, 123, et alibi.
WOL. I. No. 1. NEW SERIES. 3
* Dr. Baird's Visit, vol.II, p. 101,176. # Qu."—ED.
their thrones, and exchanged the sceptre for the cowl. Their conduct was applauded by their contemporaries; and the moderns whose supercilious wisdom affects to censure it, must at least esteem the motives which inspired, and admire the resolution which completed the sacrifice. The progress of civilization kept equal pace with the progress of religion; not only the useful, but the agreeable arts were introduced; every species of knowledge which could be obtained, was eagerly studied; and during the gloom of ignorance which overspread the rest of Europe, learning found, for a certain period, an asylum among the Saxons of Britain.” (Lingard, p. 35.)
Such names were given to the different sections of the country as have withstood the mutations of a thousand years: for instance, we have Cent, (Kent,) SouthSeare, (Sussex,) Orenford, (Oxford,) and Grantebrige, North-Humber-land, and numerous others. Such arrangements for the jurisdiction of the clergy, and their support, were originated, as have met very few changes in later ages. Canterbury then secured (after severe conflicts) its present pre-eminence, and the present system of tithes obtained as early as the year 750; but Offa, King of Mercia, first invested them with a legal relation, and Ethelwolf, about sixty years after, enlarged them for the whole kingdom of England.* At this early period, too, the right of temporal investitures was yielded to the king, and “as soon as any church became vacant, the ring and crosier, the emblems of episcopal jurisdiction, were carried to the king by a deputation of the chapter, and returned by him to the person whom they had chosen, with a letter by which the civil officers were ordered to maintain him in the possession of the lands belonging to his church.” (Lingard.) This useful measure soon engendered intolerable abuses, though it was William Rufus who first “prostituted ecclesiastical dignities.”
* * *: * * *k
We meet with interesting records of the conversion of Northumbria, of which Edwin was the puissant king. He
“Had asked and obtained the hand of Edilberga, the daughter of Ethelbert; but the zeal of her brother had stipulated that she should
* Black. Comm. pp. 25, 26. 9
f Fuller, vol. i. p. 279.
enjoy the free exercise of her religion, and had extorted from the impatient suitor a promise, that he would impartially examine the credibility of the Christian faith. With these conditions Edwin complied, and alternately consulted the Saxon priests and Paulinus, a bishop who had accompanied the queen. Though the arguments of the missionary were enforced by the entreaties of Edilberga, the king was slow to resolve, and two years were spent in anxious deliberation. At length, attended by Paulinus, he entered the great council of the nation; requested the advice of his faithful Witau ; and exposed the reasons which induced him to prefer the Christian to the pagan worship. Coiffi, the high priest of Northumbria, was the first to reply. It might have been expected, that prejudice and interest would have armed him with arguments against the adoption of a foreign creed; but his attachment to paganism had been weakened by repeated disappointments, and he had learned to despise the gods, who had neglected to reward his services. That the religion he had hitherto taught was useless, he attempted to prove from his own misfortunes, and avowed his resolution to listen to the reasons, and examine the doctrines of Paulinus. He was followed by an aged thane, whose discourse offers an interesting picture of the simplicity of the age. “When, said he, “O king, you and your ministers are seated at the table in the depth of winter, and the cheerful fire blazes on the hearth in the middle of the hall, a sparrow, perhaps, chased by the wind and snow, enters at one door of the apartment, and escapes by the other. During the moment of its passage, it enjoys the warmth; when it is once departed, it is seen no more. Such is the nature of man. During a few years his existence is visible; but what has preceded, or what will follow it, is concealed from the view of mortals. If the new religion offer any information on these important subjects, it must be worthy of our attention.’”
Right worthily spoken, though by one who never trod the starry halls of sciencefor, in the words of the poet—
“Nothing of life abideth all is change
“To these reasons the other members assented. Paulinus was desired to explain the principal articles of the Christian faith, and the king expressed his determination to embrace the doctrine of the missionary. When it was asked who would dare to profane the altars of Woden, Coiffi accepted the dangerous office. Laying aside the emblems of the priestly dig
nity, he assumed the dress of a warrior; and despising the prohibitions of the Saxon superstition, mounted the favorite charger of Edwin. By those who were ignorant of his motives, his conduct was attributed to a temporary insanity. But he disregarded their clamors, proceeded to the nearest temple, and, bidding defiance to the god of his fathers, hurled his spear into the sacred edifice. It stuck in the opposite wall; and, to the surprise of the trembling spectators, the heavens were silent, and the sacrilege was unpunished. Insensibly they recovered from their fears, and, encouraged by the exhortation of Coiffi, burnt to the ground the temple and the surrounding grove.”
For the instruction of the clergy, seminaries were founded, in which, *
“With the assistance of the best masters, the young ecclesiastics were initiated in the different sciences which were studied at that period, while the restraint of a wise and vigilant discipline withheld them from the seductions of vice, and inured them to the labors and duties of their profession. According to their years and merit, they were admitted to the lower orders of the hierarchy; and might, with the approbation of their superior, aspire at the age of five-and-twenty to the rank of deacon, at i. to that of priest.”
Nor were these provisions for education confined to the monasteries. The great mass of the common people shared in the labors and instructions of the missionaries.
“Bede has drawn an interesting picture of the avidity with which the simple natives of the most neglected cantons were accustomed to hasten, on the first appearance of a missionary, to beg his benedictions and listen to his instructions; and the celebrated St.Cuthbert frequently spent whole weeks and months in performing the priestly functions among the most mountainous and uncultivated parts of Northumbria.” (P. 51.)
“The priests were exhorted to be satisfied with the revenue of their churches; and the severest censures awaited him who presumed to demand a retribution for the discharge of his functions.”
To prevent the secularization of their minds, (the necessity of which is painfully evinced by the history of the Moravian missionaries in Greenland,) many arrangements were sedulously carried out. Among
others, the practice of celibacy was fully operative. Indeed, although every age has marked the prevalence of this sentiment, none has presented brighter examples of its faithful observance. From their early teachers were derived the instances of its carefully-instilled importance; and we are almost ready to agree with Lingard, that
“Had Augustine and his associates been involved in the embarrassments of marriage, they would never have torn themselves from their home and country, and have devoted the best portion of their lives to the conversion of distant and unknown barbarians.” (p. 57.)
It was, probably, the consideration of such sentiments that afterwards induced Bacon to say: “He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of the greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or the childless man, which both in affection and means have married and endowed the public. . . . Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants. . . . A single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool.” Seneca, it seems, was of the same opinion: “Vita conjugalis altos et generosos spiritos frangit, et a magnis capitationibus ad humillimas detrahit.” (Ibid., p. 58.)
Without entering on the discussion of this question, we may briefly mention that these are the times when no such principles are in vogue—that the moderns will hearken to no opinion of this kind; and yet we are not certain that enthusiastically unselfish, vital piety is any more extensively prevalent now, than when the self-denying earnestness of Anglo-Saxon religion graced England with those exemplars, which after years have delighted to commemorate, though, perhaps, not to imitate.*
In his third chapter Dr. Lingard passes, by a natural digression, to the temporal support of the ministers of religion. It was derived from donations of land, termed “glebe lands,” (which were exempt from taxation;) from the voluntary oblations. of the people; from tithes, whose institution has been noticed above; and various other charities, as “the plough alms,” (consisting of one penny for every hide of arable land, exacted within fifteen days after Easter;) the kirk-shot, cot-shot, and last, (though not least, for it was the right of the clergy to exact it.) the soul-shot, “o retribution in money for the prayers said in behalf of the dead.” These were willing offerings. The Saxon people were not hard-fisted, nor unworthy of the privileges Heaven had given to them. Ample provision was hence made for the revenues of the clergy, and most of the institutions for that purpose have come down to our own time. The Saxon clergy appear both to have known and taught the pure morality of the Gospel, Their reachers sedulously inculcated that the first of duties was the love of God, and the second the love of our neighbor.
* Alcuin has celebrated the fame of Coiffi in his poem on the Church of York : “Q nimium tanti felix audacia facti, Polluit ante alios quas ipse sacraverat aras.” (Pp. 25, 26.)
* There are of course two sides in this question. Mackintosh, “Hist, Eng.,” vol. I, cap. 2, pp. --50, has sketched the origin of clerical celibacy, and the corruption engendered by it.
“To subserve this latter object, the aggre: gate amount of all these perquisites composed in each parish a fund, which was called the patrimony of the minister, and which was devoted to nearly the same purposes as the revenues of the cathedral churches. After twothirds had been deducted for the support of the clergy and the repairs of the building; the remainder was assigned for the relief of the poor and of strangers. In a country which offered no convenience for the accommodation of trayellers, frequent recourse was had to the hospitality of the curate; and in the vicinity of his residence a house was always open for their reception, in which, during three days, they were provided with board and lodging at the expense of the church.” (Pp. 58, 66.)
Here no Achaean host graced the festive table with the refinement of habits and suavity of manners, which made Hellas renowned through all antiquity; but the toil-worn traveller found, among the AngloSaxons, a race anxious to minister to his comforts, “given to hospitality.” The rights of sanctuary, and the peace of the church, were institutions that softened the manners and elevated the generous sentiments of those almost semi-barbarians, to an extent elsewhere unsurpassed in the annals of civilization. “Royal alms” were conveyed to Rome, and the benefactions of Ethelwulf to the pontiff were munificent: nor did he fail to give to the people in the
imperial city likewise. (P. 69.) But unworthy advantage was taken of this liberal spirit, so diffusive among the Anglo-Saxons, by the imposition of the Rome-scot, a tax which was originated by Offa, established by Ethelwulf, and continued by Alfred; “and which,” in the time of Gregory VII., “amounted to something more than two hundred pounds of Saxon money.” (P. 71.
& did the violent escape the penalty of their neglect:—
“In the laws of Ethelred and Canute, the grithbryce, the penalty for violating the peace of a church of the
Pounds. Shillings. Pennies. 1st class was 5 240 1200 2d 44 l 120 600 3d “ i 60 300 4th “ i 30 150. ” (P. 274.)
The same reverence for the sacred office is displayed in the rates of “the manbote,” where the bishop comes after the king, thus evincing their recognition of a superiority granted only by Heaven,_and one running through all the variations of Anglo-Saxon social institutions as well as laws.
“In the time of Edward the Confessor, the manbote to be paid to the king or archbishop, for the murder of one of their retainers, was three marks; to a bishop or earl, forty-eight shillings of five pennies=20 of 12, or half of a mark; and to a thane twenty-four of five pennies, or ten of twelve, or one-fourth of a mark, which was two-thirds of a pound, or one hundred and sixty pennies.”f
The clergy were eminently adapted, both by spirit and education, for modifying the rude customs—for forming and mollifying the laws; and their assistance was cheerfully given. How beautifully Christianity moulded their ferocious valor, and made it auxiliary to the life and spread of true religion, may be seen from the scanty records of contemporaneous history. It was by their persuasion, that Ethelbert published the first code of Saxon laws; and thus the civil power, in the infancy of its
* Edinburgh Review, January, 1838, pp. 163, 168. e result of “a careful investigation into the progress and success of these clerical encroachments after the conquest,”(particularly in regard to tithes,) is here given. f Wide also Mackintosh, vol. I., p. 75.