« AnkstesnisTęsti »
For thou wert dead, and buried, and embalm'd,
Thou could'st develop, if that withered tongue
Might tell us, what those sightless orbs have seen,
Still silent, incommunicative elf!
Art sworn to secrecy? then keep thy vows;
Since first thy form was in this box extended,
We have, above ground, seen some strange mutations;
New worlds have risen-we have lost old nations,
When the great Persian conqueror, Cambyses,
And shook the pyramids with fear and wonder,
If the tomb's secrets may not be confess'd,
A heart has throbb'd beneath that leathern breast,
Statue of flesh-immortal of the dead!
Posthumous man, who quitt'st thy narrow bed,
Why should this worthless ligament endure,
In living virtue, that, when both must sever,
Early State of the English Church.
BORN 1774, died 1843, alike distinguished as a poet, an historian, and an essa
The church government, established in this island by Augustine and his fellow-labourers, was that episcopal form which had prevailed among the Britons, and which was derived from the apostles in uninterrupted descent. The dioceses were originally of the same extent as the respective kingdoms of the heptarchy; the clergy resided with the bishop, and itinerated through the diocese, preaching at a cross in the open air: there was no public provision for erecting churches and endowing them; these things might, in those ages, safely be left to individual munificence and piety. Cathedrals and monasteries were built, and lands settled upon them by royal founders and benefactors; and their estates were augmented by private grants, often given as an atonement for crimes, but unquestionably far more often from the pure impulse of devotion. Besides these endowments, tithes, the institution of which was regarded not as merely political and temporary, but as of moral and perpetual obligation, were paid by those who became Christians, the converts taking upon themselves, with the other obligations of their new religion, this payment, which was universal throughout Christendom. The full predial tithe was intended; the smaller ones were at first voluntary oblations; and the whole was received into a common fund, for the fourfold purpose of supporting the clergy, repairing the church, relieving the poor, and entertaining the pilgrim and the stranger: the distribution was left to the bishop and his assistants. Such was the practice of the Anglo-Saxon, as it seems to have been of the British church.
kingdoms of the heptarchy were united, a ese churches had been effected, and perfect ed under the primacy of Canterbury, by the enth archbishop, Theodore, a native, like St. Cilicia. This extraordinary man, whose name ▲ among us in grateful and respectful rememointed to his high station by Pope Vitalian, when, xth year of his age, he was residing as a lay-brother tery at Rome. He was chosen because he was well d with France, having twice been employed there, and roof of his singular abilities; and his advanced age was onsidered to be an objection, because his undecayed vigour the energy of his spirit seemed to promise many years of ctivity and usefulness; an expectation which was well fulfilled, for Theodore lived to be fourscore and eight. He brought with him what was then a large and truly an invaluable library of Greek and Latin books: the works of Homer were among them. He founded a school at Canterbury, the students of which are said by Bede to have been, in his time, as well versed in Latin and Greek as in their mother-tongue; arithmetic, astronomy, and the art of Latin versification were taught there; the fine chanting, which had been before peculiar to Canterbury, was by him introduced into all our churches. He restricted the bishops and secular clergy to their own dioceses, the monks to their own monasteries; thus establishing due subordination and order, and forbidding that practice of roving which led to the neglect of discipline and the relaxation of morals: he prohibited divorce for any other cause than the one which is allowed by the Gospel; and he procured the first legislative provision for the clergy in these kingdoms, in the form of a kirkscot, or tax of one Saxon penny upon every house that was worth thirty pence of yearly rent: the payment of tithes had at first been voluntary, though it was considered as a religious obligation. King Ethelwolf, the father of Alfred, subjected the whole kingdom to it by a legislative act: no institution was ever more admirably adapted to its end: it relieved the clergy from the distraction of temporal concerns; it exempted the tenth part of all property from the ordinary course of descent, set it apart and sanctified it for the support of a body of men who were not a distinct tribe, like the Levites, but were chosen from all ranks of the community for their moral and intellectual qualifications. The cathedral was, at first, the only, and long continued to be, the mother-church, so called, because there it was that believers received their second birth in baptism; the rights of baptism and burial appertaining to the cathedral, alone. The first subordinate houses of worship were chapels or oratories, as humble as the means of the founder, erected by the itinerant clergy, in situations where the numbers and piety of the people, and their distance from the cathedral, made it desirable that they should be provided with a place for assembling, in a climate where field-worship could not be performed during the greater part of the year. Parochial
churches were subsequently formed by those who desire benefit of a resident priest for their vassals and themselves thus the limits of the estate became those of the parish. churches were, at first, regarded as chapels of ease to the cathed and the officiating minister, as being the bishop's curate, w appointed by him, and removable at his pleasure: this dependen was gradually lessened, till at length the priest was held to posses a legal right in his benefice; and Theodore, to encourage the building of churches, vested the patronage of them in the founder and his heirs. The tithes of the parish were then naturally appropriated to its own church. A certain portion of glebe was added, enough to supply the incumbent with those necessaries of life which were not to be purchased in those times, and could not be conveniently received from his parishioners in kind, but not enough to engage him in the business of agriculture; his pursuits, it was justly deemed, ought to be of a higher nature, and his time more worthily employed for himself and others. Without the allotment of a house and glebe, no church could be legally consecrated. The endowment of a full tenth was liberal, but not too large. The greater part of the country was then in forest and waste land, and the quantity of produce nowhere more than was consumed in the immediate vicinity; for agriculture was nowhere pursued in the spirit of trade. The parochial priest kept a register of his poor parishioners, which he called over at the church door from time to time, and distributed relief to them according to his means and their individual necessities. But in that state of society the poor were not numerous, except after some visitation of war, in which the minister suffered with his flock; while village and domestic slavery existed, pauperism, except from the consequences of hostile inroads, must have been almost unknown. The cost of hospitality was far greater than that of relieving the poor. The manse, like the monastery, was placed beside the highway, or on the edge of some wild common, for the convenience of the pilgrim and the stranger.
The ecclesiastical government was modelled, in many respects, on the established forms of civil policy; and, as among the AngloSaxons, the tithing-men exercised a salutary superintendence over every ten friborgs; so, in the church, deans, who were called urban or rural, according as their jurisdiction lay in the city or country, were appointed to superintend a certain number of parishes. At first they were elected by the clergy of the district, subject to the bishop's approval: the bishops subsequently assumed the power of appointing and removing them, and sometimes delegated to them an episcopal jurisdiction, in which they were denominated chorepiscopi, or rural bishops." They held monthly chapters, corresponding to the courts-barons; and quarterly ones, which were more fully attended. The clergy of the deanery were bound to attend and present all irregularities committed in their respective parishes, as also to answer any complaints which might be brought against themselves. At these
ess, which now belongs to the ecclesiastical ally transacted, personal suits were adjusted, scipline enforced, by suspending the offending unctions, and the laymen from their sacraments. ame more complicated, and the hierarchy more ancient and most useful courts were discounfinally disused. The attainments of the clergy, in of the Anglo-Saxon church, were very considerable. sent for Greek masters from Athens; Aldhelm, bishop Journe, was versed in Hebrew; and Charlemagne was A by Alcuin to send students from Tours to improve themes at York. But a great and total degeneracy took place ring the latter years of the heptarchy; and for two generations after the union of the kingdoms. It began from natural causes. In the beginning none but the best and finest spirits engaged in the clerical profession; men who were actuated by the desire of intellectual and spiritual advancement, by the love of God and of their fellow-creatures. But the way of life which they had thus chosen was taken up by their successors for very different motives. Mere worldly views assuredly operated on a great portion of them: no other way of life offered so fair a prospect of power to the ambitious, of security to the prudent, of tranquillity and ease to the easy-minded. Moreover, in the beginning, the vital truths of Christianity were in full action, because the clergy were labouring to establish a religion essentially true: after they had succeeded, the gross corruptions with which it was mingled began to work.
These causes of deterioration were inevitable in the order of events; moreover, the location of the parochial clergy upon their cures tended to the dissolution of manners and decay of learning; they were thus removed from superintendence, from the opportu nities of learning and improvement, and, in great measure, from professional restraint. But the Danes brought on a swifter ruin. Their fury fell always upon the monasteries, whither they were attracted by the certainty of finding large booty, and little or no resistance; perhaps also by hatred of a religion so strongly opposed in all things to their own ferocious faith and abominable manners. There they found not only the church-plate, and the abundant stores of the community, but the movable wealth of all the surrounding country, brought thither in vain hope of miraculous protection. The annals of those disastrous times record nothing so minutely as the destruction of these extensive edifices, and the slaughter of their unoffending inhabitants. Scholars and teachers (for the monasteries were then the only schools) were indiscriminately massacred: books, which were then so rare as to be almost above all price, were consumed in the same flames with the building; and this cause, were there no other, would be suf ficient to explain the total loss of learning in the Anglo-Saxon Church.
ed the : and