Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

to have multiplied, after their restoration to I-colm-kill: Dunkeld was assigned to them, A. D. 729, and Kilrymont, Brechin, Dunblane, Muthill, Monimusk, Dunfermline, and other inferior establishments, were progressively added. They appear, during this period, to have had the entire care of religious instruction, and the education of youth, in that part of our island which had before derived least advantage from their institution; and their services, though gradually restrained and oppressed, were prolonged through several centuries. Expelled from England, separated by its conformity - with Rome from Ireland, and precluded by the ravages of the Norwegians, from continued usefulness to the Northern Picts, it is from the Lowlanders of Scotland, that we can best appreciate the genuine effects of the Culdee ministry and if it appears, that the populace of that district have, from that time, been distinguished, per haps above any other nation, for a serious and zealous regard to religion, we shall only render justice to the Culdees, by estimating their qualifications and their exertions according to this criterion. wanan ch i son

While the happy result of the Culdean ministry in Scota, land cannot but be a pleasing object of contemplation to every serious Christian, it must proportionally excite our regret, that England should have forfeited such benefits. The employment, howerer, of these pious men in our country, was perhaps doubly propitious to Scotland, not only as it proved the occasion of their resort thither being more numerous than it could otherwise have been, but likewise as it had familiarized them to stated local ministrations, and reconciled them to deviate from their original destination, so far as the edification of persons professing Christianity differs from the conversion of heathens. It would, indeed, have betrayed a decrease of their primitive zeal and industry, if their efforts had been confined to Scotland: but this was far from being the result. While many of them were employed at home, in the indispensable, though less arduous engagement of building up the church of Christ, many others were laying new foundations for its future establishment abroad. Before the close of the seventh century, Kilian and Disen from their Irish seminaries, and Wilibrod i and the Hevalds from England, preached to the pagans of Friesland, Saxony, and Franconia. The extensive influence of the Culdees in England, during their transient but zealous exertions for its benefit, together with the connection, which they usually maintained with the Anglo-Saxon missionaries in their labours on the continent, render it probable

[graphic]

that most of the latter, had been qualified and stimulated by preceding mutual intercourse, to engage in these services.

The part which was taken by Northumbrian Christians in the conversion of the West Saxons, renders this observation, in some degree, applicable even to Winfrid, who, under the surname of Boniface, chiefly contributed, during the eighth century, to spread the profession of Christianity through Germany. It is obvious that, though himself strenuously attached to the Roman interest, he trod in the steps of the missionaries already noticed ; and while his English assistants, Burchard and Lullus, entered into the labours of Kilian and Disen, others, named Liefwyn and Villchad (the latter from Northumberland) extended those of the Hevalds; and another, Rumold (supposed to have come from Ireland) ministered in the Netherlands. Those countries, in the following century, were established in Christianity, by Frederic, a nephew of Winfrid, another English missionary named Icron, and two Scotch Abbots, Patto and Tones. The missionary labours of the Culdees, and their English companions, were extended through the next two centuries; during which, not only Denmark and Prussia, but Sweden, Norway, and even Greenland, received the knowledge of Christianity, by the ministry of Bernard, and Guthebald, Sigefrid and Úlfrid, William and John, of English and Scottish birth. To enumerate all of this description, who shared in excluding heathenism from the dark nations of Europe, would far exceed our limits. More than a hundred names of Columba's disciples, who excelled in piety and learning, stand on record; and it is well known, that if, during this period, the extraction of any person eminent for these qualities was unknown, it was usually eoncluded, that he came from Britain or Ireland.or 5di1986. 1o Ofil so numerous a fraternity, so widely extended, and so actively employed, it must appear strange, if none had incurred censure yet hardly any thing has been laid to their charge, that does not tend to exalt, rather than to debase their character, in the judgement of a serious protestant. From many of the Romish clergy, they met, of course, with envy and opposition; and two .of them were excommunicated and punished at Rome, as heretics, without trial, and consequently without evidence of guilt. But the more respectable of their opponents do ample justice to their prevailing excellence. The testimony of Bede, la Northumbrian, is too generally known to require citation : but as Mr. Pinkerton, in the plenitude of bis, anti-christian and anti-british prejudices, has pronounced that the Culdees were inerely as corbashodimaisto lo nobunil zahodify sitt a sanario

[graphic]

rupted monks," we' subjoin additional evidences, of Roman Catholics, which are incidentally quoted by Dr. Jamieson. M. Before proceeding to consider the proofs, yet extant, of the difference between the Culdees and the church of Rome, as to particular points of faith or practice, it may be observed, that George Con, although a bigotted adherent to the interests of this church, even since the Reformation, has given them a very honourable testimony. « Among the Culdees," he says, was seen that pure pattern of the Christian life, which, withdrawn from the noise of the world, and the society of men, was wholly employed in the contemplation of heavenly things : such as it appeared among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Assyrians, during that and the following ages, in the lives of those illustrious servants of God, who were called Anchorites and Ascetics."

The celebrated Alcuin, who flourished in the eighth century, nearly at the same time with Bede, in his epistle addressed, To the very learned Men and Fathers in the Province of the Scots, appears as a witness that our countrymen did not acknowledge auricular confession. « It is reported,” he says, “ chat none of the laity make confession to the priests." But, although he argues against their sentiments, he gives the following character of the men. « We hear many commendations of your wisdom and piety, both on account of the holy lives of the monks, who, free from the bustle of worldly cares, resign themselves to the service of God; and of the religious manners of the laity, who,

in the midst of temporal occupations, continue to lead virtuous lives.” SieAlthough Bromton complains that Colman would not renounce the seot of the Scots, yet he gives a very honourable testimony to him, and to his predecessors, Aidan and Finan, as men of wonderful sanctity, temperance, humility, and spirituality,' pp. 203, 204.

HI 10

ab. - Considering the part which Alcuin, himself an Englishman, and his renowned patron, Charlemagne, took in opposition to the growing idolatry of the Roman church, we shall hardly be thought to trace the influence of the Culdees too far, if we ascribe to it the formidable resistance which the founder of the German empire made to the scandalous worship of images, 9000 31 1990s 29 deur avond en die His While the Culdees were diffusing Christianity, and, with it, the seeds of its subsequent reformation, through so great a portion of Europe, the basis of their establishments in Scot, land was sapped, by a cautious and protracted course of rerefined and systematic oppression. No other method could apparently have succeeded to subvert their influence, deeply as its foundations were laid in the veneration and gratitude of the people. 4 tiedi ob slett soos ob 2709 metro, tient to eot Genuine civilization keeps pace with the advancement of Christianity ;1 but luxury and ambition outstrip its progress. The Pictish monarchy had been consolidated and refined by its complete evangelization, and had risen in political importance, as the neighbouring kingdom of Northumberland

[graphic]

declined. While the latter was sinking to a province of Eng. land, that of Scotland acquired the extent, the consolidation, and the name, which it bas retained ever since, on the accession of Kenneth 3d, king of the Scots, A. D. 843; to the Pictish throne. The change of its title, and the forıner illiterate state of its population, afforded scope to a conceit of their extirpation by the Scots : but the report seems chiefly to have arisen from a sanguinary and successful conflict which Kenneth, before his accession to the Pictish sovereignty, had maintained with the independent Picts of Galloway, who alone, afterwards, retained their ancient name. The Northumbrians having, in 756, joined with the Picts in reducing the Britons, of Strathclyde to subjection, and, in 820, lost all their own territory beyond the Tweed, Kennetb found binself master, of all Scotland, at a crisis, when the several states of England had recently been reduced to submission, rather than subjection, by the West Saxon monarchs, and had already begun to suffer from the piratical ravages of the Danes. Kenneth shewed no other desire to change the ecclesiastical state of Scotland, than by contributing to the veneration of its founder and the respectability, of his successors. Having, in 849, erected a new church at Dunkeld, he transferred thither the remains of Columba, which had been often, and anxiously, removed from impending dangers. . When, however, the unequalled talents and virtues of Alfred had restored the English state from its ruins, and its church from the most degrading ignorance, the emulation of the Scottish court, to assimilate its ecclesiastical establishment to that of England, began to shew itself. The primitive simplicity of the Culdee discipline seemed inseparable from its dependence on I-colm-kill; and that spot was not only distant from the seat of government and the main body of the population, but had so often been ruined by Norwegian corsairs, that a different centre of ecclesiastical government appeared to be desirable. Kenneth had probably this object in view, in the measures which hę adopted; but it was not till near the close of the ninth century, that the Culdee establishment at 'Kilrymont was trans, formed, by an aspiring regent (or usurper) of the kingdom, into a bishopric, denominated St. Andrew's. The adoption of that apostle to be the vice-deity of Scotland, though no less irrational, may more easily be accounted for, than that of St. George for England. The Irish Scots, on the ground merely of nominal resemblance, pretended to a descent from the ancient Scythæ; and the only people, properly called Scythians, in the time of the apostles, were the inhabitants of the Roman province of Scythia, on the western shore of the Eusine sea. They are said to have been conyerted to Chris. - VOL. VIII. -»*

[graphic]
[graphic]

adopted; bhis object appeared that a differ had so oprernme

[graphic]
[graphic]

's Historical Account of the Culdees of Iona. tianity by the ministry of the apostle Andrew; and be is reported to have died at Patros, in the Morea. A tradition was discovered, or invented on this occasion, that his relics had been translated thence to Kilrymont, in the fourth century; but the circumstances wbich it involves, demonstrate its utter falsehood. So ridiculous a tale would be unworthy of our notice, but for the apparent purpose and consequences of its propagation. To detach the people of Scotland from the Culdees, it was requisite to lessen their veneration for CoJumba; and to conciliate them to Roman superstitions, the dedication of their churches to saints, instead of the Holy Trinity, was indispensable. A less objectionable substitute, in either view, than an apostle, and the apostle of the ancient Scythians, could not have been imagined. The unwary Culdees seem to have acquiesced, though probably with reluctance, in this innovation, which was incomparably greater than that of denominating their former Prior, a Bishop. His authority apparently remained the same ; and his election was entrusted to themselves. But the opening, thus made, for innovation, ensured its progress; although this was evidently retarded by the hold which the Culdees retained on the respect and affections of the people. The power, dignity and splendour to which the English prelates attained under the immediate successors of Alfred, are well known. The court of Scotland, which became intimately attached, and closely assi. milated, to that of England, by degrees adopted its ecclesiastical measures. Bishoprics were multiplied, to which though Caldees were at first promoted, foreigners were gradually, introduced. The Culdee priors were first allowed to hold the next rank to the bishops; then Roman monks were raised to an equality of privileges: the endowments of the Culdees were, on various pretences, diminished, and alienated to the intruders; and at length the remaining pittance was curtailed to life estates of the possessors. The jast measure of degradation, and consequently of extirpation, which these patient, but stedfast, nonconformists had to sustain, was a law, that if any of their weaker members should be reduced, for want of support, to seek admission among what were called the regular canons, they were to be rejected.

Notwithstanding the power and policy by which this sysa tematic oppression was promoted, through three or four centuries, and notwithstanding the frequent desolation of I-colm-kill, by the Norwegians, such was the attachment of the Culdees to that revered spot, that, in 1203, it was judged expedient to form a rival institution, on the popish model, in opposition to the learned men of the place." The neigh

« PreviousContinue »