Gildas, The Ruin of Britain &c. (1899). pp. 4-252. The Ruin of Britain.
Motives for writing stated.
1. WHATEVER my attempt shall be in this epistle, made more in tears than in denunciation, in poor style, I allow, but with good intent, let no man regard me as if about to speak under the influence of contempt for men in general, or with an idea of superiority to all, because I weep the general decay of good, and the heaping up of evils, with tearful complaint. On the contrary, let him think of me as a man that will speak out of a feeling of condolence with my country's losses and its miseries, and sharing in the joy of remedies. It is not so much my purpose to narrate the dangers of savage warfare incurred by brave soldiers, as to tell of the dangers caused by indolent men. I have kept silence, I confess, with infinite sorrow of heart, as the Lord, the searcher of the reins, is my witness, for the past ten years or even longer; I was prevented by a sense of inexperience, a feeling I have even now, as well as of mean merit from writing a small admonitory work of any kind.
I used to read, nevertheless, of the wonderful legislator, that he did not enter the desired land because of hesitation in a single word; that the priest's sons, through bringing strange fire to the altar, perished in sudden death; that the people who transgressed the words of God, 600,000 of them, two faithful ones exceptcd, although beloved of God, because unto them the way was made plain over the bed of the Red Sea, heavenly bread was given as food, new drink from the rock followed them, their army was made invincible by the mere lifting up of hands----that this people fell in different places by wild beasts, sword and fire throughout the desert parts of Arabia. After their entrance by an unknown gate, the Jordan, so to say, and the overthrow of the hostile walls of the city at the mere sound of trumpets by God's command, I read that a small mantle and a little gold appropriated of the devoted thing laid many prostrate; that the covenant with the Gibeonites, when broken (though won by guile), brought destruction upon some: that because of the sins |5 of men we have the complaining voices of holy prophets, and especially of Jeremiah, who bewails the ruin of his city in four alphabetic songs.
I saw that in our time even, as he wept: The widowed city sat solitary, heretofore filled with people, ruler of the Gentiles, princess of provinces, and had become tributary. By this is meant the Church. The gold hath become dim, its best colour changed; which means the excellence of God's word. The sons of Zion, that is, of the holy mother the Church, famous and clothed with best gold have embraced ordure. What to him, a man of eminence, grew unbearable, has been so to me also, mean as I am, whenever it grew to be the height of grief, whilst he wailed over the same distinguished men living in prosperity so far as to say: her Nazarenes were whiter than snow, ruddier than old coral, fairer than sapphire. These passages and many others I regarded as, in a way, a mirror of our life, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and then I turned to the Scriptures of the New; there I read things that previously had perhaps been dark to me, in clearer light, because the shadow passed away, and the truth shone more steadily.
I read, that is to say, of the Lord saying: I am not come but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And on the other side: But the sons of this Kingdom shall be cast into outer darknesses, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Again: It is not good to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. Also: Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. I heard: Many shall come from east and west and recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven; and on the other hand: And then shall I say unto them: depart from me ye workers of iniquity. I read: Blessed are the barren and the breasts that have not given suck; and on the contrary: Those who were ready, entered with him to the marriage feast, then came also the other virgins saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; to whom the answer was made, I know you not. I heard certainly: He who believeth and is baptised, shall be saved, he, however, who believeth not shall be condemned.
I read in the apostle's word that a branch of the wild olive had been grafted into the good olive tree, but that it must be broken off from partaking in the root of fatness of the same, if it did not fear, but should be highminded. I knew the mercy of the Lord, |7 but feared his judgment also; I praised his grace, but dreaded the rendering unto each one according to his works.
As I beheld sheep of one fold unlike one another, I called Peter, with good reason, most blessed on account of his sound confession of Christ, but Judas most unhappy because of his love of covetousness; Stephen I called glorious, because of the martyr's palm; Nicolas, on the contrary, miserable, owing to the mark of unclean heresy.
I read, indeed: They had all things in common, but I read also: Why did ye agree to tempt the Spirit of God? I saw, on the contrary, what great indifference had grown upon the men of our age, as if there were no cause for fear.
These things, and many others which I have decided to omit for the sake of brevity, I pondered over with compunction of heart and astonishment of mind. I pondered----if the Lord did not spare a people, peculiar out of all the nations, the royal seed and holy nation, to whom he had said: Israel is my first born ----if he spared not its priests, prophets, kings for so many centuries, if he spared not the apostle his minister, and the members of that primitive church, when they swerved from the right path, what will he do to such blackness as we have in this age? An age this to which has been added, besides those impious and monstrous sins which it commits in common with all the iniquitous ones of the world, that thing which is as if inborn with it, an irremovable and inextricable weight of unwisdom and fickleness.
What say I? Do I say to myself, wretched one, is such a charge entrusted to thee (as if thou wert a teacher of distinction and eminence), namely to withstand the rush of so violent a torrent, and against this array of growing crimes extending over so many years and so widely, keep the deposit committed to thec, and be silent? Otherwise this means, to say to the foot, watch, and to the hand, speak.
Britain has rulers, it has watchers. Why with thy nonsense art thou inclined to mumble? Yea, it has these; it has, if not too many, not too few. But, because they are bent clown under the pressure of so great a weight, they have no time to breathe. My feelings, therefore, as if fellow debtors with myself, were alternately engrossed by such objections, and by such as had much sharper teeth than these. These feelings wrestled, as I said, for |9 no short time, when I read: 'There is a time to speak and a time to keep silence, and wrestled in the straight gate of fear, so to speak. At length the creditor prevailed and conquered. He said: If thou hast not the boldness to feel no fear of being branded with the mark that befits golden liberty among truth-telling creatures of a rational origin second to the angels, at least shrink not from imitating that intelligent ass, inspired, though mute, by the Spirit of God. Unwilling it was to be the carrier of the crowned magician about to curse the people of God; it bruised his feeble foot in the narrow path near the wall of the vineyards, though it had on that account to feel his blows like those of an enemy. She pointed out to him the angel from heaven, as if with the finger, holding his naked sword and opposing them (whom he in the blindness of cruel stupidity had not observed), though the magician, ungrateful and furious, was unrighteously beating her innocent sides.
In my zeal, therefore, for the holy law of the Lord's house, constrained by the reasons of my own meditation or overcome by the pious entreaties of brethren, I am now paying the debt 1 exacted long ago. The work is, in fact, poor, but, I believe, faithful and friendly to all noble soldiers of Christ;2 but severe and hard to bear to foolish apostates. The former of these, if I am not mistaken, will, peradventure, receive it with the tears that flow from the love of God; the others, also, with sorrow, but the sorrow which is wrenched from the anger and timidity of an awakened conscience.
2. Before, however, fulfilling my promise, let me attempt to say a little, God willing, concerning the geographical situation, the stubbornness, the subjection and rebellion of our country; also of its second subjection and hard service; of religion, persecution, and holy martyrs, of diverse heresies; of tyrants, of the two nations which wasted it; of defence and of consequent devastation; of the second revenge and third devastation, of famine; of the letter to Agitius; of victory, of crimes; of enemies suddenly |11 announced; of the great well-known plague; of counsel; of enemies far more fierce than the first; of the ruin of cities, of the men who survived; of the final victory won by the mother country, which is the gift granted by the will of God in our own times.3 |15
Preliminary (cc. 3-26).- Description of Britain, Character of its People; Introductory narrative of events, extending from the First Parthian Peace and the Roman expedition into Britain which followed it, to the writer's own time (A.D. 117-c. 540). Reference to the rise of Christianity under Tiberius, and its progress in Britain inserted (cc. 7-12).
Description of Britain. De situ.
3. THE island of Britain is situated in almost the furthest limit of the world, towards the north-west and west, poised in the so-called divine balance which holds the whole earth. It lies somewhat in the direction of the north pole from the south-west. It is 800 miles long, 200 broad,4 not counting the longer tracts of sundry promontories which are encompassed by the curved bays of the sea. It is protected by the wide, and if I may so say, impassable circle of the sea on all sides, with the exception of the straits on the south coast where ships sail to Belgic Gaul. It has the advantage of the estuaries of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, arms, as it were, along which, of old, foreign luxuries were wont to be carried by ships, and of other smaller streams; it is beautified by 28 cities,5 and some strongholds, and by great works built in an unexceptionable manner, walls, serrated towers, gates, houses, the roofs of which, stretching aloft with threatening height, were firmly fixed in strong structure.6 It is adorned by widespread plains, hills |17 in pleasant situations adapted for superior cultivation, mountains in the greatest convenience for changing pasture of cattle. The flowers of divers colours on these, trodden by human footsteps, gave them the appearance of a fine picture, like a chosen bride adorned with various jewels. It is irrigated by many clear springs, with their full waters moving snow-white gravel, and by shining rivers flowing with gentle murmur, extending to those who recline on their banks a pledge of sweet slumber, and by lakes overflowing with a cool stream of living water.
Character of people. De contumacia.
4. This island, of proud neck and mind, since it was first inhabited, is ungratefully rebelling, now against God, at other times against fellow citizens,7 sometimes even against the kings over the sea and their subjects. For what deeper baseness, what greater unrighteousness, can be or be introduced by the recklessness of men, than to deny to God fear, to worthy fellow citizens love, to those placed in higher position the honour due to them, without detriment to the faith----than to break faith with divine and human sentiment, and having cast away fear of heaven and earth, to be governed by one's own inventions and lusts?
I, therefore, omit 8 those ancient errors, common to all nations, by which before the coming of Christ in the flesh the whole human race was being held in bondage; nor do I enumerate the truly diabolical monstrosities 9 of my native country, almost surpassing those of Egypt in number, of which we behold some, of ugly features, to this day within or without their deserted walls, stiff with fierce visage as was the custom. Neither do I, by name, inveigh against the mountains, valleys or rivers, once destructive, but now suitable for the use of man, upon which divine honour was then heaped by the people in their blindness. I keep silence also as to the long years of savage tyrants, who are spoken of in other far distant countries, so that Porphyry, the rabid eastern dog 10 in hostility |19 to the Church, added this remark also in the fashion of his madness and vanity; Britain, he says, is a province fertile in tyrants. Those evils only will I attempt to make public which the island has both suffered and inflicted upon other and distant citizens, in the times of the Roman Emperors. I shall do it, however, to the best of my ability, not so much by the aid of native writings or records of authors, inasmuch as these (if they ever existed) have been burnt by the fires of enemies, or carried far away in the ships which exiled my countrymen, and so are not at hand, but shall follow the account of foreign writers, which, because broken by many gaps, is far from clear.
Subjection by Rome. De subjectione.
5. The Emperors of Rome acquired the empire of the world, and, by the subjugation of all neighbouring countries and islands towards the east, secured through the might of their superior fame their first peace with the Parthians 11 on the borders of India. When this peace was accomplished, wars ceased at that time in almost every land. The keenness of this flame, however, in its persistent career towards the west, could not be checked or extinguished by the blue tide of the sea; crossing the channel it carried to the island laws for obedience without opposition; it subjugated an unwarlike but faithless people (not so much as in the case of other nations by sword, fire, and engines, as by mere threats or menaces of judgments) who gave to the edicts merely a skin-deep obedience, with resentment sunk deep into their hearts.
Insurrection against Rome. De rebellione.
6. Immediately on their return to Rome, owing to deficiency, as they said, of necessaries provided by the land, and with no suspicion |21 of rebellion, the treacherous lioness 12 killed the rulers who had been left behind by them to declare more fully, and to strengthen, the enterprises of Roman rule. After this, when news of such deeds was carried to the senate, and it was hastening with speedy army to take vengeance on the crafty foxes, as they named them, there was no preparation of a fighting fleet on sea to make a brave struggle for country, nor a marshalled army or right wing, nor any other warlike equipment on land. They present their backs, instead of their shields, to the pursuers, their necks to the sword, while a chilling terror ran through their bones: they hold forth their hands to be bound like women; so that it was spread far and wide as a proverb and a derision: the Britons are neither brave in war nor in peace faithful.13
Second subjection and servitude. Item de subiectione ac diro famulatu.
7. The Romans therefore, having slain many of the faithless ones, reserving some for slavery, lest the land should be reduced to destitution----return to Italy leaving behind them a land stripped of wine and oil. They leave behind governors as scourges for the backs of the natives, as a yoke for their necks, so that they should cause the epithet of Roman slavery to cling to the soil, should vex the crafty race not so much with military force as with whips, and if necessary, apply the unsheathed sword, as the saying is, to their sides. In this way the island would be regarded not as Britannia but as Romania, and whatever it might have of copper, silver, or gold would be stamped with the image of Caesar.
Rise of Christianity. De religione.
8. Meanwhile, to the island stiff with frost and cold, and in a far distant corner of the earth, remote from the visible sun, He, the true sun, even Christ, first yields His rays, I mean His precepts. He spread, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the highest arc of heaven beyond all times, his bright gleam to the whole world in the latest days, as we know, of Tiberius Caesar. At |23that time the religion of Christ 14 was propagated without any hindrance, because the emperor, contrary to the will of the senate, threatened with death informers against the soldiers of that same religion.
Evangelization of Britain. The Diocletian persecution. De persecutione.
9. Though these precepts had a lukewarm reception from the inhabitants,15 nevertheless they continued unimpaired with some, with others less so, until the nine years' persecution of the tyrant Diocletian.16 In this persecution churches were ruined throughout the whole world, all copies of the Holy Scriptures that could be found were burnt in the open streets, and the chosen priests of the Lord's flock butchered with the innocent sheep, so that if it could be brought to pass, not even a trace of the Christian religion would be visible in some of the provinces. What flights there were then, what slaughter, what punishments by different modes of death, what ruins of apostates, what glorious crowns of martyrs, what mad fury on the part of persecutors, and, on the contrary, what |25 patience of the saints, the history of the church narrates.17 In consequence the whole church, in close array, emulously leaving behind it the darkness of this world, was hastening to the pleasant realms of heaven as to its own proper abode.
Holy Martyrs. De sanctis martyribus.
10. God, therefore, as willing that all men should be saved, magnified his mercy unto us, and called sinners no less than those who regard themselves righteous. He of His own free gift, in the above mentioned time of persecution, as we conclude,18 lest Britain should be completely enveloped in the thick darkness of black night, |27 kindled for us bright lamps of holy martyrs. The graves where their bodies lie, and the places of their suffering, had they not, very many of them, been taken from us the citizens on account of our numerous crimes, through the disastrous division caused by the barbarians, would at the present time inspire the minds of those who gazed at them with a far from feeble glow of divine love. I speak of Saint Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Iulius,19 citizens of Caerlleon, and the rest of both sexes in different places, who stood firm with lofty nobleness of mind in Christ's battle.
11. The former of these, through love, hid a confessor when pursued by his persecutors, and on the point of being seized, imitating in this Christ laying down his life for the sheep. He first concealed him in his house, and afterwards exchanging garments with him, willingly exposed himself to the danger of being pursued in the |29 clothes of the brother mentioned. Being in this way well pleasing to God, during the time between his holy confession and cruel death, in the presence of the impious men, who carried the Roman standard with hateful haughtiness, he was wonderfully adorned with miraculous signs, so that by fervent prayer he opened an unknown way through the bed of the noble river Thames, similar to that dry little-trodden way of the Israelites, when the ark of the covenant stood long on the gravel in the middle of Jordan; accompanied by a thousand men, he walked through with dry foot, the rushing waters on either side hanging like abrupt precipices, and converted first his executioner, as he saw such wonders, from a wolf into a lamb, and caused him together with himself to thirst more deeply for the triumphant palm of martyrdom, and more bravely to seize it. Others, however, were so tortured with diverse torments, and mangled with unheard of tearing of limbs, that without delay they raised trophies of their glorious martyrdom, as if at the beautiful gates of Jerusalem. Those who survived hid themselves in woods, deserts, and secret caves, expecting from God, the righteous ruler of all, to their persecutors, sometime, stern judgment, to themselves protection of life.
12 Thus when ten years of the violence referred to had scarcely passed, and when the abominable edicts were disappearing through the death of their authors, all the soldiers of Christ, with gladsome eyes, as if after a wintry and long night, take in the calm and the serene light of the celestial region. They repair the churches, |31 ruined to the ground; they found, construct, and complete basilicae in honour of the holy martyrs, and set them forth in many places as emblems of victory; they celebrate feast days; the sacred offices they perform with clean heart and lip; all exult as children cherished in the bosom of their mother, the church.
Heresies. De diversis haeresibus.
For this sweet harmony between Christ the head and the members continued, until the Arian unbelief, fierce as a snake vomiting forth upon us its foreign poison, caused deadly separation between brethren dwelling together. In this way, as if a path were made across the sea, all manner of wild beasts began to inject with horrid mouth the fatal poison of every form of heresy, and to inflict the lethal wounds of their teeth upon a country always wishful to hear something new and, at all events, desiring nothing steadfastly.
The tyranni, particularly Maxi mus. De tyrannis.
13 At length also, as thickets of tyrants were growing up and bursting forth soon into an immense forest, the island retained the Roman name, but not the morals and law; nay rather, casting forth a shoot of its own planting, it sends out Maximus 20 to the two Gauls, accompanied by a great crowd of followers, with an emperor's ensigns in addition, which he never worthily bore nor legitimately, but as one elected after the manner of a tyrant and amid a turbulent soldiery. This man, through cunning art rather than by valour, first attaches to his guilty rule certain neighbouring countries or provinces against the Roman power, by nets of perjury and falsehood. He then extends one wing to Spain, the other to Italy, fixing the throne of his iniquitous empire at Trier, and raged with such madness against his lords that he drove two legitimate emperors, the one from Rome, the other from a most pious life. Though |33 fortified by hazardous deeds of so dangerous a character, it was not long ere he lost his accursed head at Aquileia: he who had in a way cut off the crowned heads of the empire of the whole world.
Picts and Scots. De duabus gentibus vastatricibus.
14 After this, Britain is robbed of all her armed soldiery, of her military supplies, of her rulers, cruel though they were, and of her vigorous youth who followed the footsteps of the above-mentioned tyrant and never returned. Completely ignorant of the practice of war, she is, for the first time, open to be trampled upon by two foreign tribes of extreme cruelty, the Scots from the north-west, the Picts from the north; and for many years continues stunned and groaning. 21
Defence made against them. De defen sione.
15. Owing to the inroads of these tribes and the consequent dreadful prostration, Britain sends an embassy with letters to Rome, entreating in tearful appeals an armed force to avenge her, and vowing submission on her part to the Roman power, uninterrupted and with all strength of heart, if the enemy were driven away. A legion 22 is forthwith prepared, with no remembrance of past evil, and fully equipped. Having crossed over the sea in ships to Britain, it came into close engagement with the oppressive enemies; it killed a great number of them and drove all over the borders, and freed the humiliated inhabitants from so fierce a violence and threatening bondage. The inhabitants were commanded to build a wall across the island, between the two seas, so that, when strongly manned, it might be a terror to repel the enemies and a protection to the citizens. The wall being made not |35 of stone but of turf,23 proved of no advantage to the rabble in their folly, and destitute of a leader.
Repeated devastation. Itemque vastatione.
16. The legion returned home in great triumph and joy when their old enemies, like rapacious wolves, fierce with excessive hunger, jump with greedy maw into the fold, because there was no shepherd in sight. They rush across the boundaries, carried over by wings of oars, by arms of rowers, and by sails with fair wind. They slay everything, and whatever they meet with they cut it down like a ripe crop, trample under foot and walk through.
Second revenge (by Roman aid). De secunda ultione.
17. Again suppliant messengers are sent with rent clothes, as is said, and heads covered with dust.
Crouching like timid fowls under the trusty wings of the parent birds, they ask help of the Romans, lest the country in its wretchedness be completely swept away, and the name of Romans, which to their ears was the echo of a mere word, should even grow vile as a thing gnawed at, in the reproach of alien nations. They, 24 moved, as far as was possible for human nature, by the tale of such a tragedy, make speed, like the flight of eagles, unexpected in quick movements of |37 cavalry on land and of sailors by sea; before long they plunge their terrible swords in the necks of the enemies; the massacre they inflict is to be compared to the fall of leaves at the fixed time, just like a mountain torrent, swollen by numerous streams after storms, sweeps over its bed in its noisy course; with furrowed back and fierce look, its waters, as the saying goes, surging up to the clouds (by which our eyes, though often refreshed by the movements of the eyelids, are obscured by the quick meeting of lines in its broken eddies), foams surprisingly, and with one rush overcomes obstacles set in its way.25 Then did the illustrious helpers quickly put to flight the hordes of the enemy beyond the sea, if indeed escape was at all possible for them: for it was beyond the seas that they, with no one to resist, heaped up the plunder greedily acquired by them year by year.
18. The Romans, therefore, declare to our country that they could not be troubled too frequently by arduous expeditions of that kind, nor could the marks of Roman power,26 that is an army of such size and character, be harassed by land and sea on account of un-warlike, roving, thieving fellows. They urge the Britons, rather, to accustom themselves to arms, and fight bravely, so as to save with all their might their land, property, wives, children, and, what is greater than these, their liberty and life: they should not, they urge, in any way hold forth their hands armourless to be bound by nations in no way stronger than themselves, unless they became' effeminate through indolence and listlessness; but have them provided with bucklers, swords and spears, and ready for striking. Because they were also of opinion that it would bring a considerable advantage to the people they were leaving, they construct a wall, different from the other,27 by public and private contributions, |39 joining the wretched inhabitants to themselves: they build the wall in their accustomed mode of structure, in a straight line, across from sea to sea, between cities, which perhaps had been located there through fear of enemies; they give bold counsel to the people in their fear, and leave behind them patterns for the manufacture of arms. On the sea coast also, towards the south, where their ships were wont to anchor, because from that quarter also wild barbarian hordes were feared, they place towers at stated intervals, affording a prospect of the sea. They then bid them farewell, as men who never intended to return.28[Additional Note] |45
Third devastation by Picts and Scots. Tertiaque vastatione.
19. As they were returning home, the terrible hordes of Scots and Picts eagerly come forth out of the tiny craft (cwrwgs)29 in which they sailed across the sea-valley, as on Ocean's deep, just as, when the sun is high and the heat increasing, dark swarms of worms emerge from the narrow crevices of their holes. Differing partly in their habits, yet alike in one and the same thirst for bloodshed ----in a preference also for covering their villainous faces with hair rather than their nakedness of body with decent clothing----these nations, on learning the departure of our helpers and their refusal to return, became more audacious than ever, and seized the whole northern part of the land as far as the wall, to the exclusion of the inhabitants.
The famine. De fame.
To oppose their attacks, there was stationed on the height of the stronghold, an army, slow to fight, unwieldy for flight, incompetent by reason of its cowardice of heart, which languished day and night in its foolish watch. In the meantime the barbed |47weapons of the naked enemies are not idle: by them the wretched citizens are dragged from the walls and dashed to the ground. This punishment of untimely death was an advantage, forsooth, to them that were cut off by such an end, in so far as it saved them, by its suddenness, from the wretched torments which threatened their brethren and relatives.
Why should I tell more? They abandon their cities and lofty wall: there ensues a repetition of flight on the part of the citizens; again there are scatterings with less hope than ever, pursuit again by the enemy, and again still more cruel massacres. As lambs by butchers, so the unhappy citizens are torn in pieces by the enemy, insomuch that their life might be compared to that of wild animals. For they even began to restrain one another by the thieving of the small means of sustenance for scanty living, to tide over a short time, which the wretched citizens possessed. Calamities from without were aggravated by tumults at home, because the whole country by pillagings, so frequent of this kind, was being stripped of every kind of food supply, with the exception of the relief that came from their skill in hunting.
Letter to Agitius (Aetius). A.D. 446. De epistolis ad Agitium.
20. The miserable remnant therefore send a letter to Agitius, a man holding high office at Rome;30 they speak as follows:----To Agitius, in his third consulship, come the groans of the Britons; a little further in their request: the barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us upon the barbarians; by one or other of these two modes of death we are either killed or drowned; and for these they have no aid. In the meantime, the severe and well-known famine presses the wandering and vacillating people, which compels many of them without delay to yield themselves as conquered to the bloodthirsty robbers, in order to have a morsel of food for the renewal of life. Others were never so compelled: rather issuing from the very mountains, from caves and defiles and from dense thickets, they carried on the war unceasingly.
The victory over Picts and Scots. De victoria.
Then for the first time, they inflicted upon the enemy, which for many years was pillaging in the land, a severe slaughter: their trust was not in man but in God, as |49 that saying of Philo goes: we must have recourse to divine aid where human fails.31 The boldness of the enemy quieted for a time, but not the wickedness of our people; the enemy withdrew from our countrymen, but our countrymen withdrew not from their sins.
21. It was the invariable habit of the race, as it is also now, to be weak in repelling the missiles of enemies, though strong to bear civil strifes and the burdens of sins; weak, I say, to follow ensigns of peace and truth, yet strong for crimes and falsehood. The shameless Irish assassins, therefore, went back to their homes, to return again before long. It was then, for the first time, in the furthermost part of the island, that the Picts commenced their successive settlements, with frequent pillaging and devastation.
Growth of crimes among the Britons. De sceleribus.
During such truces, consequently, the ugly scar is healed for the deserted people. While another more poisonous hunger was silently growing on the other hand, and the devastation quieting down, the island was becoming rich with so many resources of affluence that no age remembered the possession of such afterwards: along with these resources of every kind, luxury also grew.32 It grew, in fact, with strong root, so that it might fitly be said at that same time: such fornication is actually reported as is not even among the gentiles. But it was not this vice alone that grew, but also all to which human nature is generally liable: especially the vice which to-day also overthrows the place that appertains to all good in the island, that is to say, hatred of truth together with those who defend it, love of falsehood together with its fabricators, undertaking evil for good, respect for wickedness rather than for kindness, desire of darkness in preference to the sun, the welcoming of Satan as an angel of light. Kings were anointed, not in the |51 name of God, but such as surpassed others in cruelty, and shortly afterwards were put to death by the men who anointed them, without any enquiry as to truth, because others more cruel had been elected. If, however, any one among them appeared to be of a milder disposition, and to some extent more attached to truth, against him were turned without respect the hatred and darts of all, as if he were the subverter of Britain; all things, those which were displeasing to God and those which pleased him, had at least equal weight in the balance, if, indeed, the things displeasing to him were not the more acceptable. In this way that saying of the prophet which was uttered against that ancient people might be applied with justice to our country: Ye lawless sons, he says, have forsaken God and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. Why will ye be stricken any more when ye add iniquity? Every head is weak and every heart grieving; from the sole of the foot to the crown there is no soundness in it.
The coming of the enemy suddenly made known. De nuntiatis subito hostibus.
In this way they did all things that were contrary to salvation, as if there were no remedy to be supplied for the world by the true Healer of all men. It was not only men of the world who did this, but the Lord's flock itself also and its pastors, who ought to have been an example to the whole people; they, in great numbers, as if soaked in wine through drunkenness, became stupified and enervated, and by the swelling of animosities, by the jar of strifes, by the grasping talons of envy, by confused judgement of good and evil, were so enfeebled that it was plainly seen, as in the present case, that contempt was being poured out upon princes, and that they were led astray by their vanities and error in a trackless place, and not on the way.
22. Meanwhile, when God was desirous to cleanse his family, and, though defiled by such a strain of evil things, to better it by their hearing only of distress, there came like the winged flight of a rumour not unfamiliar to them, into the listening ears of all----that their old enemies had already arrived, bent upon thorough destruction, and upon dwelling in the country, as had become their wont, from one end to the other. Nevertheless they in no way profited by this news; rather like foolish beasts, with clenched teeth, as the saying is, they bite the bit of reason, and began to run along the broad way of many sins, which leads down to death, quitting |53 the narrow way though it was the path of salvation.
The noted plague. De famosa peste.
Whilst then, according to the words of Solomon, The stubborn servant is not corrected by words, the foolish nation is scourged and feels it not: for a deadly pestilence came upon the unwise people which, in a short time, without any sword, brought down such a number of them that the living were unable to bury the dead.
But they were not corrected even by this pestilence, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled in them: And God has called to lamentation and to baldness and the girdle of sack-cloth: behold they kill calves, and slay rams, behold they eat and drink and say, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow let us die'
Deliberation how to oppose the Picts and Scots. The Saxons invited to aid in their repulsion. De consilio.
In this way the time was drawing nigh when the iniquities of the country, as those of the Amorites of old, would be fulfilled. A council is held, to deliberate what means ought to be determined upon, as the best and safest to repel such fatal and frequent irruptions and plunderings by the nations mentioned above.
23. At that time all members of the assembly, along with the proud tyrant,33 are blinded; such is the protection they find for their |55 country (it was, in fact, its destruction) that those wild Saxons, of accursed name, hated by God and men, should be admitted into the island, like wolves into folds, in order to repel the northern nations. Nothing more hurtful, certainly, nothing more bitter, happened to the island than this. What utter depth of darkness of soul! What hopeless and cruel dulness of mind! The men whom, when absent, they feared more than death, were invited by them of their own accord, so to say, under the cover of one roof: Foolish princes of Zoan, as is said, giving unwise counsel to Pharaoh.
The Saxons prove far more cruel than the former enemies. De saeviore multo primis hoste.
Then there breaks forth a brood of whelps from the lair of the savage lioness, in three cyulae (keels), as it is expressed in their language, but in ours, in ships of war under full sail, with omens and divinations. In these it was foretold, there being a prophecy firmly relied upon among them, that they should occupy the country to which the bows of their ships were turned, for three hundred years; for one hundred and fifty----that is for half the time----they should make frequent devastations. They sailed out, and at the directions of the unlucky tyrant, first fixed their dreadful talons in the eastern part of the island, as men intending to fight for the country, but more truly to assail it. To these the mother of the brood, finding that success had attended the first contingent, sends out also a larger raft-full of accomplices and curs, which sails over and joins itself to their bastard comrades. From that source, the seed of iniquity, the root of bitterness, grows as a poisonous plant, worthy of our deserts, in our own soil, furnished with rugged branches and leaves. Thus the barbarians, admitted into the island, succeed in having provisions supplied them, as if they were soldiers and about to encounter, as they falsely averred, great hardships for their kind entertainers. These provisions, acquired for a length of time, closed, as the saying is, the dog's maw. They complain, again, that their monthly supplies were not copiously contributed to them, intentionally colouring their opportunities, and declare that, if larger munificence were not piled upon them, they would break the treaty and lay waste the whole of the island. They made no delay to follow up their threats with deeds. |57
24. For the fire of righteous vengeance, caused by former crimes, blazed from sea to sea, heaped up by the eastern band of impious men; and as it devastated all the neighbouring cities and lands, did not cease after it had been kindled, until it burnt nearly the whole surface of the island, and licked the western ocean with its red and savage tongue. In this assault, which might be compared to the Assyrian attack upon Iudaea of old, there is fulfilled in us also, according to the account, that which the prophet in his lament says:----
They have burnt with fire thy sanctuary in the land,
They have defiled the tabernacle of thy name;
O God, the gentiles have come into thine inheritance,
They have defiled thy holy temple, 34
and so forth. In this way were all the settlements brought low with the frequent shocks of the battering rams; the inhabitants, along with the bishops of the church, both priests and people, whilst swords gleamed on every side and flames crackled, were together mown down to the ground, and, sad sight! there were seen in the midst of streets, the bottom stones of towers with tall beam 35 cast down, and of high walls, sacred altars, fragments of bodies covered with clots, as if coagulated, of red blood, in confusion as in a kind of horrible wine press: there was no sepulture of any kind save the ruins of houses, or the entrails of wild beasts and birds in the open, I say it with reverence to their holy souls (if in fact there were many to be found holy), that would be carried by holy angels to the heights of heaven. For the vineyard, at one time good, had then so far degenerated to bitter fruit, that rarely could be seen, according to the prophet, any cluster of grapes or ear of corn, as it were, behind the back of the vintagers or reapers.
25. Some 36 of the wretched remnant were consequently captured on |59 the mountains and killed in heaps. Others, overcome by hunger, came and yielded themselves to the enemies, to be their slaves for ever, if they were not instantly slain, which was equivalent to the highest service. Others repaired to parts beyond the sea,37 with strong lamentation, as if, instead of the oarsman's call, singing thus beneath the swelling sails:
Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for eating,
And among the gentiles hast thou scattered us.
Others, trusting their lives, always with apprehension of mind, to high hills, overhanging, precipitous, and fortified, and to dense |61 forests and rocks of the sea, remained in their native land, though with fear.
After a certain length of time the cruel robbers returned to their home.38 A remnant, to whom wretched citizens flock from different places on every side, as eagerly as a hive of bees when a storm is threatening, praying at the same time unto Him with their whole heart, and, as is said,
Burdening the air with unnumbered prayers,39
that they should not be utterly destroyed, take up arms and challenge their victors to battle under Ambrosius Aurelianus.40 He was a man of unassuming character, who, alone of the Roman race chanced to survive in the shock of such a storm (as his parents, people undoubtedly clad in the purple, had been killed in it), whose offspring in our days have greatly degenerated from their ancestral nobleness. To these men, by the Lord's favour, there came victory.
The final victory over the Saxons. Siege of Mons Badonicus. De postrema patriae victoria quae temporibus nostris Dei nutu donata est.
26. From that time, the citizens were sometimes victorious, sometimes the enemy, in order that the Lord, according to His wont, might try in this nation the Israel of to-day, whether it loves Him or not. This continued up to the year of the siege of Badon Hill,41 and |63 of almost the last great slaughter inflicted upon the rascally crew. And this commences, a fact I know, as the forty-fourth year,42 with one month now elapsed; it is also the year of my birth. But not even at the present day are the cities of our country inhabited as formerly; deserted and dismantled, they lie neglected43 until now, because, although wars with foreigners have ceased, domestic wars continue. The recollection of so hopeless a ruin of the island, and of the unlooked-for help, has been fixed in the memory of those who have survived as witnesses of both marvels. Owing to this (aid) kings, magistrates, private persons, priests, ecclesiastics, severally preserved their own rank. As they died away, when an age had succeeded ignorant of that storm, and having experience only of the present quiet, all the controlling influences of truth and justice were so shaken and overturned that, not to speak of traces, not even the remembrance of them is to be found among the ranks named |65 above. I make exception of a few 44----a very few----who owing to the loss of the vast multitude that rushes daily to hell, are counted at so small a number that our revered mother45, the church, in a manner does not observe them as they rest in her bosom. They are the only real children she has. Let no man think that I am slandering the noble life of these men, admired by all and beloved of God, by whom my weakness is supported so as not to fall into entire ruin, by holy prayers, as by columns and serviceable supports. Let no one think so, if in a somewhat excessively free-spoken, yea, doleful manner, driven by a crowd of evils, I shall not so much treat of, as weep concerning those who serve not only their belly, but the devil rather than Christ, who is God blessed for ever. For why will fellow-citizens hide what the nations around already not only know, but reproach us with? |67
General Denunciation of Princes and Judges.
27. KINGS Britain has, but they are as her tyrants: she has judges, but they are ungodly men: engaged in frequent plunder and disturbance, but of harmless men: avenging and defending, yea for the benefit of criminals and robbers. They have numerous wives, though harlots and adulterous women: they swear but by way of forswearing, making vows yet almost immediately use falsehood. They make wars, but the wars they undertake are civil and unjust ones. They certainly pursue thieves industriously throughout the country, whilst those thieves who sit with them at table, they not only esteem but even remunerate. Alms they give profusely, but over against this they heap up a huge mountain of crimes. They take their seat to pronounce sentence, yet seldom seek the rule of right judgment. Despising the innocent and lowly, they to their utmost extol to the stars the bloody-minded, the proud, the murderous men, their own companions and the adulterous enemies of God, if chance so offers, who ought, together with their very name, to be assiduously destroyed. Many have they bound in their prisons, whom they ill-use with weight of chains, more by their own fraud than by reason of desert: they linger among the altars in the oaths they make, and shortly afterwards look with disdain on these same altars as if they were dirty stones. |69
Denunciation of the Five Princes.
Constantius of Damnonia.
28. Of this so execrable a wickedness Constantine, the tyrannical whelp of the unclean lioness of Damnonia 46, is not ignorant. In this year, after a dreadful form of oath, by which he bound himself that he would use no deceit against his subjects, making his oath first to God, and secondly to the choirs of saints and those who follow them, in reliance upon the mother (the church), he nevertheless, in the garb of a holy abbot, cruelly tore the tender sides of two royal children, while in the bosoms of two revered mothers ----viz., the church and the mother after the flesh----together with their two guardians. And their arms, stretched forth, in no way to armour, which no man was in the habit of using more bravely than they at this time, but towards God and His altar, will hang in the day of judgment at thy gates, Oh Christ, as revered trophies of their patience and faith. He did this among the holy altars, as I said, with accursed sword and spear instead of teeth, so that the cloaks, red as if with clotted blood, touched the place of the heavenly sacrifice.
This deed he committed, after no meritorious acts worthy of praise; for, many years previously he was overcome by frequent successive deeds of adultery, having put away his legitimate wife, contrary to the prohibition of Christ and the Teacher of the gentiles, who say: What God hath joined let man not separate, and: Husbands love your wives. For he planted, of the bitter vine of Sodom in the soil of his heart, unfruitful for good seed, a shoot of unbelief and unwisdom, which, watered by public and domestic impieties as if by poisonous showers, and springing forth more quickly to the displeasure of God, brought forth the guilt of murder and sacrilege. But as one |71 not yet free from the nets of prior sins he heaps new crimes upon old ones.
29. Come now! (I reprove, as if present, one whom I know to be yet surviving). Why art thou confounded, thou murderer of thine own soul? Why kindlest thou, of thine own accord, the ceaseless flames of hell against thyself? Why, taking the place of thine enemies, piercest thou thyself, under no compulsion, with thine own sword and spear? Were not those very cups, poisonous with crimes, able to satisfy thy heart? Look back, I beseech thee, and come to Christ, since thou labourest and art bent down with thy huge burden, and He, as He has said, will give thee rest. Come to Him who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and live: break, according to the prophet, the chains of thy neck, thou son of Sion. Return, I pray, though from the far-off secret haunts of sins, to the tender father who----for the son that despises the unclean food of swine, and fears the death of hard famine, and returns to himself-----has been accustomed in gladness to kill the fatted calf and to bring forward the first garment and royal ring for the erring one, and with a foretaste of heavenly hope thou shalt feel how the Lord is kind. For if thou despisest these admonitions, know that thou shalt even soon be whirled round and burnt in hell's indescribable dark floods of fire.
30. Thou also, lion whelp, as the prophet says, what doest thou, Aurelius Caninus?47 Art thou not swallowed up in the same, if not more destructive, filth, as the man previously mentioned, the filth of murders, fornications, adulteries, like sea-waves rushing fatally upon thee? Hast thou not by thy hatred of thy country's peace, as if it were a deadly serpent, or by thy iniquitous thirst for civil wars and repeated spoils, closed the doors of heavenly peace and repose for thy soul? Left alone now, like a dry tree in the midst of a field, remember, I pray thee, the pride of thy fathers and brothers, with their early and untimely death. Wilt thou, because of pious deserts, an exception to almost all thy family, survive for a hundred years, or be of the years of Methuselah? No. But unless, as the Psalmist says, thou be very speedily converted to the Lord, that King will soon brandish his sword against thee; who says by the prophet: I will kill and I will make alive: I shall wound and I shall heal, and there is none that can deliver out of my |73 hand. Wherefore shake thyself from thy filthy dust, and turn unto Him with thy whole heart, unto Him who created thee, so that when His anger quickly kindles, thou mayest be blest, hoping in Him. But if not so, eternal pains await thee, who shalt be always tormented, without being consumed, in the dread jaws of hell.
Vortiporius, prince of the Demetae (Dyfed).
31. Why also art thou, Vortipor, tyrant of the Demetae, foolishly stubborn?48 Like the pard art thou, in manners and wickedness of various colour, though thy head is now becoming grey, upon a throne full of guile, and from top to bottom defiled by various murders and adulteries, thou worthless son of a good king, as Manasseh of Hezekiah. What! do not such wide whirlpools of sins, which thou suckest in like good wine, nay, art thyself swallowed by them, though the end of life is gradually drawing near----do these not satisfy thee? Why, to crown all thy sins, dost thou, when thine own wife had been removed and her death had been virtuous, by the violation of a shameless daughter, burden thy soul as with a weight impossible to remove?
Spend not, I beseech thee, the remainder of thy days in offending God, because now is the acceptable time and the day of salvation shines upon the faces of the penitent, during which thou canst well bring to pass that thy flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath. Turn (according to the Psalmist) away from evil and do good, seek good peace and follow it; because the eyes of the. Lord will be upon thee when thou doest good, and his ears unto thy prayers, and he will not destroy thy memory from the land of the living. Thou shalt cry and he will hear thee, and save thee from all thy tribulations. For Christ never despises the heart that is contrite and humbled by the fear of Him. Otherwise the worm of thy agony shall not die, and the fire of thy burning shall not be quenched.
32. Why dost thou, also, wallow in the old filth of thy wickedness, from the years of thy youth, thou bear, rider of many, and driver of a chariot belonging to a bear's den, despiser of God and contemner of His decree, thou Cuneglas 49 (meaning in the Roman |75 tongue, thou tawny butcher)? Why dost thou maintain such strife against both men and God? Against men, thine own countrymen, to wit, by arms special to thyself; against God, by crimes without number? Why, in addition to innumerable lapses, dost thou, having driven away thy wife, cast thine eyes upon her dastardly sister, who is under a vow to God of the perpetual chastity of widowhood, that is as the poet says, of the highest tenderness of heavenly nymphs, with the full reverence, or rather bluntness, of her mind, against the apostle's prohibition when he says that adulterers cannot be citizens of the kingdom of heaven? Why dost thou provoke, by thy repeated injuries, the groans and sighs of saints, who on thy account are living in the body, as if they were the teeth of a huge lioness that shall some day break thy bones? Cease, I pray, from anger, as the prophet says, and forsake the deadly wrath that shall torment thyself, which thou brcathest against heaven and earth, that is, against God and His flock. Rather change thy life and cause them to pray for thee, to whom is given the power to bind above the world, when they have bound guilty men in the world, and to loose, when they have absolved the penitent.50 Be not, as the apostle says, high-minded, nor have thy hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but in God who giveth thee many things richly, that by an amendment of life, thou mayest lay in store for thyself a good foundation against the time to come, and mayest have the true life; that is, of course, the eternal life, not that which passeth away. Otherwise thou shalt know and see, even in this world, how evil and bitter it is to have abandoned the Lord thy God, and that His fear is not with thee, and that in the world to come thou shalt be burnt in the hideous mass of eternal fires, without, however, in any |77 way dying. For the souls of sinners are as immortal for never-ending fire as those of the saints are for joy.
Maglocunus insularis draco. Maelgwn of Anglesey (?)
33. And thou, the island dragon, who hast driven many of the tyrants mentioned previously, as well from life as from kingdom, thou last in my writing, first in wickedness, exceeding many in power and at the same time in malice, more liberal in giving, more excessive in sin, strong in arms, but stronger in what destroys thy soul----thou Maclocunus,51 why dost thou obtusely wallow in such an old black pool of crimes, as if sodden with the wine that is pressed from the vine of Sodom? Why dost thou tie to thy royal neck (of thine own accord, as I may say), such heaps, impossible to remove, of crimes, as of high mountains? Why showest thou thyself to Him, the King of all kings, who made thee superior to almost all the kings of Britain, both in kingdom and in the form of thy stature, not better than the rest in morality, but on the contrary worse? Give a patient hearing for awhile to an undoubted record of those charges which, passing by domestic and lighter offences----if, indeed, any are light----shall testify only the things which have been proclaimed far and wide, in broad daylight, as admitted crimes. In the first years of thy youth, accompanied by soldiers of the bravest, whose countenance in battle appeared not very unlike that of young lions, didst thou not most bitterly crush thy uncle the king with sword, and spear, and fire? Not regarding the prophet's word when it says: Men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days. What wouldst thou expect of retribution for this deed alone from the righteous judge, even if such consequences as have followed were not to occur, when He likewise |79 says by the prophet: Woe unto thee that spoilest; shalt thou not be spoiled? and thou that killest, shalt not thou thyself be killed? and when thou hast made an end of thy spoiling, then shalt thou fall.
34 When the dream of thy oppressive reign turned out according to thy wish, didst thou not, drawn by the desire to return unto the right way, with the consciousness of thy sins probably biting days and nights during that period, first, largely meditating with thyself on the godly walk and the rules of monks, then, bringing them forward to the knowledge of open publicity, didst thou not vow thyself for ever a monk? Without any thought of unfaithfulness was it done, according to thy declaration, in the sight of God Almighty, before the face of angels and men. Thou hadst broken, as was thought, those big nets, by which fat bulls of thy class are wont to be entangled headlong, that is, thou hadst broken the nets of every kind of royalty, of gold and of silver, and what is mightier than these, of thine own imperious will. And thyself didst thou profitably snatch like a dove, from the raven, strongly cleaving the thin air in rustling flight, escaping the cruel claws of the speedy hawk with sinuous windings, to the caves of the saints, sure retreats for thee, and places of refreshment. What gladness would there be for thy mother, the church, if the enemy of all mankind had not disastrously dragged thee off, in a way, from her bosom! What plentiful touchwood for heavenly hope would blaze in the hearts of men without hope, if thou didst persevere in good! What and how many rewards of the kingdom of Christ would wait thy soul in the day of judgment, if that crafty wolf, when from a wolf thou hadst become a lamb, had not snatched thee from the Lord's fold (not greatly against thy will), to make thee a wolf from a lamb, like unto himself! What joy thy salvation, if secured, had furnished to the gracious Father and God of all saints, had not the wretched father of all the lost, like an eagle of mighty wings and claws----the devil, I mean----against every right, snatched thee away to the unhappy troop of his children!
Not to be tedious----thy conversion unto good fruit brought as much joy and pleasantness, both to heaven and earth, as now thy accursed reversion to thy fearful vomit like a sick dog, has caused |81 of sorrow and lamentation. When this reversion had come to pass thy members are presented as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin and the devil, which ought to have been eagerly presented, with proper regard to good sense, as weapons of righteousness unto God. When the attention of thy ears has been caught, it is not the praises of God, in the tuneful voice of Christ's followers, with its sweet rhythm, and the song of church melody, that are heard, but thine own praises (which are nothing); the voice of the rascally crew yelling forth, like Bacchanalian revellers, full of lies and foaming phlegm, so as to besmear everyone near them. In this way the vessel, once prepared for the service of God, is changed into an instrument of Satan, and that which was deemed worthy of heavenly honour is, according to its desert, cast into the abyss of hell.
35 Yet not by such stumbling-blocks of evils, as if by a kind of barrier, is thy mind, dulled through a load of unwisdom, retarded; but impetuous like a young colt, which, imagining every pleasant place as not traversed, rushes along, with unbridled fury, over wide fields of crimes, heaping new sins upon old. For contempt is thrown upon thy first marriage, though after thy violated vow as a monk it was illicit, yet was to be assumed as the marriage of thine own proper wife; another marriage is sought after, not with anybody's widow, but with the beloved wife of a living man; and he not a stranger, but thy brother's son. On this account, that stiff neck, already weighted with many burdens of sins (to wit, a double daring murder, the killing of the husband above named, and the wife that was for a time regarded by thee as thine), is bent down through the extreme excess of thy sacrilegious deed, from lowest crimes to still lower. Afterwards thou didst wed her, by whose collusion and intimation, the huge mass of the crimes grew suddenly so big, |83 in public, and (as the false tongues of thy flatterers assert, at the top of their voice, though not from the depth of their heart), in a legitimate marriage, regarding her as a widow; but our tongues say, in desecrated wedlock.
What saint is there whose bowels, moved by such a tale, do not at once break forth into weeping and sobbing? What priest, whose righteous heart is open before God, on hearing of these things, would not, with great wailing, instantly say that word of the prophet: Who will give water unto my head, and a fountain of tears unto my eyes? A nd I shall weep day and night the slain of my people. Alas! little didst thou, with thy ears, listen to the prophet's reproof when it thus speaks: Woe unto you, ye impious men, who have abandoned the law of the Most High God: and if ye be born, ye shall be born for a curse; and if ye die, your portion shall be for a curse. All things that are of the earth shall go to the earth, so shall the wicked from curse unto perdition. It is understood if they return not unto the Lord, at least, when such an admonition, as the following, has been heard: My son thou hast sinned; add no more thereto but rather pray to be relieved of thy old sins. And again: Be not slow to be converted unto the Lord, nor defer it from day to day, for His anger shall come suddenly; because, as the Scripture says: When the king hearkens to an unrighteous word, all that are under him are wicked. Surely, as the prophet has said: A just king elevates the land. 36 But warnings are certainly not wanting to thee, since thou hast had as instructor the refined teacher of almost the whole of Britain.52 Beware, therefore, lest what is noted by Solomon happens unto thee: As one who rouses a sleeper from deep sleep, is he who speaks wisdom to a fool; for in the end of his speaking he will say, 'What saidst thou first ?' Wash thine heart, O Jerusalem, as is said, from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.
Despise not, I pray thee, the unspeakable mercy of God, when, through the prophet, he calls the wicked from their sins, as follows: Instantly shall I speak to the nation and to the kingdom, so that I may pluck up, and scatter, and destroy, and ruin. He |85 earnestly exhorts the sinner to repentance in this passage: And if that nation repent of its sin, I also shall repent respecting the evil which I spake to do unto it. Again: Who will give them such a heart that they may hear me, and keep my precepts, and it may be well unto them all the days of their life. Again, in the song of Deuteronomy, he says: They are a people void of counsel and understanding. O that they were wise, that they understood and foresaw their last end! how one shall chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight. Again, in the gospel, the Lord says: Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I shall cause you to rest.53 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; because I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For if thou hear these things with deaf ears, thou contemnest the prophets, thou despisest Christ, and me, though a man of the lowest estate I grant, thou regardest as of no weight, though at any rate I keep that word of the prophet with sincere godliness of mind: I shall surely fill my strength with the spirit and power of the Lord, so as to make known unto the house of Jacob their sins, and to the house of Israel their offences, lest I be as dumb dogs that cannot bark. Also that word of Solomon, who says thus: He that saith that the wicked is just, shall be accursed of the people, and hated of the nations: for they who convict him shall hope better thing's. Again: Thou shalt not respect thy neighbour to his own ruin, nor hold back word in the time of salvation. Also: Pluck out those that are drawn unto death, and redeem those that are slain, spare not, because, as the same prophet says, riches shall not profit in the day of wrath; righteousness delivereth from death. If the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? That dark flood of hell 54 shall roll round thee with its deadly whirl and fierce |87 waves; it shall always torture and never consume thee, to whom, at that time too late and profitless, shall be the real knowledge of pain and repentance for sin, from which the conversion to the righteous way of life, is delayed by thee.
Reasons for Introducing Words of the Holy Prophets (sancti vates).
37. Here indeed, or even before, was to be concluded this tearful and complaining story55 of the evils of this age, so that my mouth should no further relate the deeds of men. But let them not suppose that I am timid or wearied, so as not to be carefully on my guard against that saying of Isaiah: Woe unto him who calleth evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Who seeing do not see, and hearing do not hear, whose heart is covered with a thick cloud of vices. Rather, I wish succinctly to relate what threatenings, and how great, the oracles of the prophets exclaim against the above-named lascivious and mad five horses of the retinue of Pharaoh, by whom his army is actively incited to its ruin in the Red sea, and those like unto them. By these oracles, as if by a noble roof, the undertaking of my little work is safely covered, so that it may not stand open to the rain-storms of envious men, which shall rush upon it, vieing with one another.
Let, therefore, the holy prophets speak for me now, as they did formerly----they who stood forth as the mouth, so to speak, of God, the instrument of the Holy Spirit with prohibition of sins unto men, befriending the good----against the stubborn and proud princes of this age, lest they say, that out of my own invention and mere wordy rashness, I am hurling against them such threatenings, and |89 terrors of such magnitude. For to no wise man is it doubtful how much more grievous are the sins of this time, than those of the primitive time, when the apostle says: He that transgresses the law, is put to death on the word of two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishments, think ye, is he worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God. |99
Quotations from Scripture, made consecutively in the order of books, denouncing wicked Princes.
38. The first to meet us is Samuel, who by the command of God founded a legitimate kingdom, a man dedicated to God before his birth, a true prophet to all the people of Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba, known by indubitably wonderful signs. From his mouth the Holy Spirit thundered to all the powers of the world, when denouncing Saul, the first king of the Hebrews, for the simple reason that he had not fulfilled certain commands of the Lord. His words are: Thou hast done foolishly, nor hast thou kept the commandments of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee. If thou hadst not done this thing, God would now prepare thy kingdom over Israel for ever; but thy kingdom shall arise no further. What then is there like to the crimes of this time? Did. he commit adultery or murder? Not at all. He, however, made a partial change of the command, because, as one of ourselves has well said, "the question is not respecting the kind of sin, but respecting the transgression of a command." And when he was attempting to |101 disprove the charges, as he thought, and weaving apologies, as is the custom with men, after the following plausible manner: Verily I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and walked in the way by which He sent me; the prophet punished him with such a censure; as the following: Doth the Lord, he says, desire burnt offerings or victims, and not rather to obey the voice of the Lord? For obedience is better than victims, and to hearken is more than to offer the fat of rams, since resistance is as the sin of witchcraft, and as the crime of idolatry is the refusal to obey. Therefore, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king. And a little after: God hath rent, he says, the kingdom of Israel from thee to-day, and hath given it to thy neighbour, better than thou. Truly the Victor in Israel will not spare, and by penitence will He not be bent; for He is not man, that He should repent, that is to say, because of the hard hearts of the wicked.
We must, therefore, observe that he says, the refusal to obey God is the crime of idolatry.56 Let not those wicked ones applaud themselves, when they do not publicly sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles, since by treading under foot, like swine, the costliest pearls of Christ, they are idolaters.
39. But although this one example, with its impregnable confirmation, should be fully sufficient to amend the wicked, nevertheless, in order that in the mouth of many witnesses the whole wickedness of Britain may be established, let us pass on to the rest.
What happened to David when he numbered the people, the prophet Gad saying unto him: Thus saith the Lord: The choice of three things is given thee; choose the one thou wilt, that I may do it unto thee; either famine shall befall thee seven years, or thou shalt flee from thine enemies three months and they pursue thee, or there shall be a pestilence in thy land three days? Being hard pressed by such a condition, and willing rather to fall into the hands of God, the merciful, than into the hands of men, he is humbled by the slaughter of 70,000 of his people. Had he not, |103 moved by apostolic love, chosen to die for his countrymen, so that the plague should not touch them, as he said: It is I that have sinned, I the shepherd have done unrighteously; those that are sheep, what sin have they committed f let thy hand, I pray, be turned against me and against my father's house: had he not done this, he would have made expiation for his heedless pride of heart by his own death.
For what says the Scripture in a later part respecting his son? Solomon, it tells us, did that which was not pleasing in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord as his father. .... The Lord said unto him, forasmuch as thou hast had this with thee, and hast not kept my covenant and my precepts which I have given thee, I will break asunder and divide thy kingdom and give it to thy servant.
40. What befell two sacrilegious kings of Israel, just like those of ours, Jeroboam and Baasha, hear. The judgment of the Lord against these men is conveyed through the prophet, saying: Forasmuch as I have magnified thee to be prince over Israel, because they have provoked me by their vanities, behold I stir up after Baasha and after his house, and I shall render his house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of his in the city, shall the dogs eat, and his dead body in the field shall the fowls of heaven consume. What also against that wicked king of Israel (fellow of those) by whose collusion, and by the guile of his wife, innocent Naboth was put to death, for the sake of his vineyard, inherited from his fathers? What is threatened by the holy mouth of that Elijah, by the mouth taught in the fiery message of the Lord? Thus he says: Thou hast even killed and taken possession; and thou shalt add this, saith the Lord: in this place, in which the dogs have licked the blood of Naboth, they will also lick thy blood. That the event did come to pass in this way is known to us by certain proof. But lest, as in the case of the aforementioned Ahab, a lying spirit, speaking vain things in the mouth of your prophets, seduce you from hearkening to the words of the prophet Micah, behold God hath allowed a lying spirit to be in the mouth of all thy prophets that are here, and the |105 Lord hath spoken evil against thee. For even now, it is certain, there are some teachers filled with an opposing spirit, declaring for depraved lust rather than for truth, whose words are made softer than oil and yet are very javelins, who say, "peace, peace," and there shall not be peace for those who persist in sins, as the prophet elsewhere says: "there is no joy for the wicked, saith the Lord."
41. Azarias, also the son of Obed, spoke unto Asa, when he was returning from the slaughter of ten hundred thousand of the Ethiopian army, saying: The Lord is with you, whilst ye are with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; and if ye leave Him, He will leave you. For if Jehoshaphat, while aiding an unjust king, is thus reproved by the prophet Jehu, son of Annanias, saying: If' thou helpest a sinner or lovest him whom the Lord hateth, the anger of God on that account is upon thee, what shall be unto them who are bound in the fetters of their own crimes? The sins of these men, if we wish to fight in the Lord's battle, we must hate, not their souls, as the Psalmist says: Ye who love the Lord, hate evil.
What did the afore-named Elijah, the chariot of Israel and horseman thereof, utter unto the son of Jehoshaphat, even Jehoram the murderer, who butchered his noble brothers, that he, a bastard, might reign in their stead. Thus saith the Lord God of thy father David: Because thou hast not walked in the way of Jehoshaphat thy father, and in the ways of Asa, King of Judah, and hast adulterously walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab, and hast killed thy brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat, better than thou, behold the Lord shall strike thee and thy sons with a great plague. A little later: And thou shalt have great sickness by weakness of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out with very infirmity, from day to day. And hear ye also how Zecharias, the son of Jehoiadah, the prophet, menaced Joash, King of Israel, when he abandoned the Lord, as ye do. He rose and said unto the people: Thus saith the Lord: Why |107 do ye transgress the precepts of the Lord, and prosper not? Because ye have left the Lord, He will also leave you.
42. What shall I say of Isaiah, the first of the prophets? He began his prophecy or his vision by saying: Hear ye heavens, and understand with your ears, O! earth, since the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, but they have despised me. The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass its master's crib: but Israel knoweth me not, and my people hath not understood. A little further, adding fit threatenings for such a folly, he says: The daughter of Sion shall be left like a tent in a vineyard, and as a booth in a garden of cucumbers, like a city that is racked. And when he particularly summons the princes, he says: Hear the word of the Lord, ye princes of Sodom; know the law of the Lord, ye people of Gomorrah. It is certainly worthy of observation that unjust kings are called princes of Sodom. For, by way of forbidding the offering of sacrifices and gifts to him by such men (whilst we greedily accept 57 things that from every nation are displeasing to God, and to our own destruction prevent the distribution of those same things to the needy and penniless), so does the Lord speak unto men burdened with immense riches, and yet having the mean purposes of sinners. Bring no more a sacrifice in vain; incense is an abomination unto me. Again he declares: And when ye stretch forth your hand, I will turn away from you; and when ye multiply prayer, I will not hear. Why He does this is set forth: Your hands are full of blood.
Showing at the same time how he might be appeased, he says: Wash ye, be ye clean; put away, the evil of your thoughts from before mine eyes; cease from perverse doing; learn to do good; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless. As if assuming in addition the part of reconciler, he says: If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be red like a worm, they shall be white as wool. If ye be willing and hear me, ye shall eat the good of the land. Because if ye refuse and provoke me to anger, the sword shall devour you. |109
43. Receive one who truly and publicly assents to these words, when he declares the recompense of your good and evil, with no disguise of flattery; not as the mouths of your flatterers whisper respectable poisonous things into your ears.
Also, directing his judgment against rapacious judges, he speaks thus: Thy princes are unfaithful companions of thieves; they all love gifts and follow after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, and the cause of the widow cometh not iinto them. Therefore saith the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah! I shall be cheered with respect to my enemies, and be avenged of my adversaries; and the heinous transgressors and the sinners shall be crushed together and destroyed, and all who have abandoned the Lord shall be consumed. Also below: The eyes of the lofty man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down. Again: Woe unto the wicked for evil, for the reward of his hands shall be unto him. A little after: Woe unto you that rise up early to follow after drunkenness, and to drink until the evening, until ye are inflamed with wine. The harp, the lyre, the tabret, the pipe and wine are in your feasts; and the work of the Lord ye regard not, and the work of His hands ye consider not. Therefore my people have been led captive, because they have not had knowledge; and their honourable men have perished with famine, and their multitude have parched with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged her soul, and opened her mouth without measure: and their strong ones and their multitude, their lofty and renowned ones, shall descend unto it. And below: Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle drunkenness; who justify the ivicked for rewards, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Because of this, as the fire devoureth stubble, and the heat of the flame burneth wood, so shall their root be as embers, and their blossom shall go iip as dust. For they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. In all this the anger of the Lord is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.
44. And after some further words, treating of the day of judgment and the unspeakable fear of sinners, he says: Howl ye, because the day of the Lord is at hand----if it was then near, what shall be thought now?----because destruction shall come from God. Therefore shall all hands be unloosed, and every heart of man shall melt and be crushed: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman in travail. Each one shall be amazed at his neighbour; their countenance shall be as faces burnt. Behold the day of the Lord shall come cruel, and full of indignation |111 and wrath and anger, to place the land a desolation, and its sinners crushed out thereof; since the stars of heaven and their splendour shall not spread their light; the sun shall be darkened in its rising, and the moon not shine in her time. And I shall visit the evils of the world, and, against the impious, their iniquity; and shall cause the pride of the unfaithful to become quiet, and the haughtiness of the strong will I lay low. Again: Behold the Lord shall waste the earth, and make it empty, and afflict its face, and scatter abroad the inhabitants thereof, and it shall be, as the people, so the priest; and as the servant so his master; as the maid, so her mistress; as the buyer, so he who sells; as the lender, so he who borrows; as he who claims a debt, so he who is in debt. The land shall be utterly dispersed, and shall be despoiled with pillaging. For the Lord hath spoken this word: The earth hath mourned and hath faded away; the world hath faded away; the loftiness of the people of the earth hath been weakened, and the earth hath been brought to nought by its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, have changed the right, and have broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore shall a curse devour the earth.
45. And below: They that are merry in heart shall sigh, the joy of tabrets shall cease, the noise of them that rejoice shall rest, the delight of the harp with its song shall be silent, they shall not drink wine, bitter shall be their drink to them that drink it, The city of vanity is wasted; closed is every house, because no man entereth therein. There shall be crying in the streets over the wine, all joy is failed, all gladness of the land is carried away, desolation is left in the city, and adversity shall bear down the gates; for these things shall be in the midst of the land, and in the midst of the people. After a few words: The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously, and with the treachery of transgressors have they dealt treacherously. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, who art an inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, he who fleeth from the voice of fear shall fall into the pit; and he that is freed from the pit shall be taken in the snare, because the floodgates from above will be opened, and the foundations of the earth will be shaken. The earth shall be utterly broken; it shall be moved exceedingly; it shall be clean staggered like a drunken man, and shall be carried away like a tent pitched for a night; its transgressions shall be heavy upon it; it shall fall, and shall make no effort to rise. It shall come to pass, in that day shall the Lord visit the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth that are upon the earth, and they shall be gathered together as a host of one bundle into |113 the pit, they shall be shut in prison there, and after many days shall they be visited. The moon shall blush, and the sun be confounded, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and shall be glorified in the presence of his elders.
46. After a while, giving a reason why such things should be threatened, he says thus: Behold the Lords hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear become heavy, that it hear not. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He should not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity: your lips have spoken falsehood, and your tongue uttereth wickedness. There is none that calleth for justice, nor is there that judgeth truly, but they confide in nothingness; they speak vanities, they have conceived sorrow and have brought forth iniquity. And below: Their works are unprofitable, and the work of inquity is in their hands. Their feet run into evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are unprofitable thoughts; desolation and destruction are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known; and there is no judgment in their steps. Their paths have been made crooked by them; everyone who walketh therein knoweth not peace. Therefore is judgment made far from you, and righteousness hath not got hold of you. After a few words: And judgment is turned back, and righteousness hath stood afar: because truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness could not enter. Truth hath become in oblivion; and he who hath departed from evil, hath become open to prey. And the Lord saw it, and it was not pleasing in His eyes that there is no judgment.
47. So far, let it suffice to have said a few, out of many, of the words of Isaiah the Prophet.
Now with equal attention listen to him who, before he was formed in the womb, was foreknown, was sanctified and appointed a prophet among all nations also, before he parted with his mother----listen, I say, to Jeremiah, what he has pronounced concerning a foolish people and stiff-necked kings. He begins his utterances gently in this manner. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, and say. . . . Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye house of Jacob, and all kindred of the house of Israel: thus saith the Lord, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they are far |115 removed from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain, and have not said, Where is He who caused us to come up out of the land of Egypt? After a few words: From of old hast thou broken my yoke, thou hast burst my chains; thou saidst, I will not serve. I planted thee a chosen vine, all a true seed. How then art thou turned into evil things as a strange vine? If thou wash thee with nitre, and multiply unto thee the plant borith, thou art marked by thine iniquity before me, saith the Lord. And below: Wherefore will ye plead with me in judgment, ye have all abandoned me, saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children; they have not received discipline. Hear the word of the Lord. Have I become a wilderness unto Israel, or a late bearing land? Wherefore, then, hath my people said: We have gone away, we will no more come unto thee? Doth a maid forget her ornament, or a bride the fillet of her bosom? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Because my people is foolish, they know me not: unwise children are they, and without understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. 48 Then the prophet speaks in his own person, saying: O Lord thine eyes behold faithfulness. Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved: Thou hast ground them, and they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock, and have refused to return. The Lord also: Declare ye this to the house of Jacob and make it heard in Judah, saying: Hear, ye foolish people, who have no heart, who, having eyes, see not; and ears, and do not hear. Will ye then not fear me, saith the Lord, and will ye not grieve at my presence? I who have placed the sand for a bound to the sea as a perpetual decree, which it will not pass by. Its waves shall be moved, and they cannot prevail; they shall swell, and shall not pass over it. But to this people there hath come an unbelieving and exasperating heart: they have retreated and departed, and have not said in their heart: Let us fear the Lord our God. And again: Because among my people have been found wicked men, lying in wait as fowlers, setting gins and snares to catch men; as a trap is full of birds, so their houses are full of guile. Therefore they are become great and waxen rich, they are waxen stout and fat, and they have most wickedly passed by my words: the cause of the fatherless they have not pleaded, and the judgment of the poor they have not judged. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord, or shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this? |117
49. But God forbid that what follows should befall you: Thou shalt, speak all these words unto them, and they shall not hear thee; and thou shalt call them, and they will not answer thee; and thou shalt say unto them: This is a nation which hath not heard the voice of the Lord its God, nor received correction; faithfulness is perished, and is taken away from their mouth. After a while: Will he who falls not rise again, and he who is turned away not return? Why then is this people in Jerusalem turned away with obstinate backsliding? They have seized falsehood, and have refused to return, I watched and hearkened, no orte speaketh that which is good. There is none who repenteth of his sin, saying: What have I done? All have turned to their own course, as a horse rushing headlong into battle. The kite in the heaven knoweth her time, the turtle and swallow and stork have kept the time of their coming; My people knoweth not the judgment of God. And the prophet----terrified at so great a blindness of the irreligious and the unspeakable drunkenness, weeping also for those who do not weep for themselves (just as miserable tyrants behave now)----desires that an increase of tears be given him by the Lord, speaking as follows: For the grief of the daughter of my people am I worn out; astonishment hath taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, or is there no physician there? Why, then, is the wound of the daughter of my people not closed? Who will give, wafer unto my head, and unto mine eyes a fountain of tears? A nd I shall weep day and night for the slain of my people. Who will give me in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men? A nd I shall leave my people and go away from them, since they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. They have stretched their tongue like a bow of falsehood and not of truth. They have become strong in the land, because they have proceeded from evil to evil, and have not known Me, saith the Lord. Again: And the Lord said: Because they have forsaken My law, which I gave unto them, and have not hearkened unto My voice nor walked therein, and have gone after the wickedness of their heart; on that account, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, behold I shall feed this people with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink. And a little after, speaking in the person of God, a way which the prophet very frequently assumes: Therefore pray thou not for this people, and raise not up for them praise and prayer, because I will not hear them in the time of their crying unto Me and their trouble.
50. What then shall unhappy leaders do now? Those few who |119 have abandoned the broad way and are finding the narrow, are forbidden by God to pour out prayers for you, who persist in evil and tempt Him so greatly: upon whom, on the contrary, if you return with your heart unto God, they could not bring ven-geance, because God is unwilling that the soul of man should perish, but calls it back, lest he who is cast away should utterly perish. Because, not even Jonas the prophet, and that when he greatly desired it, could bring vengeance on the Ninevites. But putting aside, meanwhile, our own words, let us rather hear what sound the prophetic trumpet gives: And if thou say this in thy heart, wherefore are these evils come? They come for the greatness of thy iniquity. If the Ethiop can change his skin, or the leopard his spots, ye also can do good, who have learnt to do evil. Here it is understood, "ye are not willing." And below: Thus saith the Lord to this people that hath loved to move its feet, and hath not rested, and hath not been pleasing unto the Lord; now will He remember their iniquities and visit their sins. And the Lord said unto me, Pray not for that people for their good. When they fast, I shall not hear their cries; and if they offer burnt-offerings and victims, I will not accept them. Again: And the Lord said unto me: If Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind is not toward that people; cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And after a few words: Who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go to pray for thy peace? Thou hast abandoned Me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward, and I shall stretch forth My hand over thee, and kill thee. And after a while? Thus saith the Lord, behold I frame a device against you; let every one return from his evil way, and make straight your ways and pursuits. And they said: We despair, after our own devices will we walk, and we will everyone do the wickedness of his own evil heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, ask ye the nations, who hath heard such horrible things as the virgin Israel hath done beyond measure? Shall the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? or can the bursting waters flowing cool be drawn away? Because My people have forgotten Me. After a while, having placed a choice before them, he speaks, saying: Thus saith the Lord: Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver him that is oppressed by violence from the hand of the oppressor, and afflict not the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; neither oppress iniquitously, nor shed innocent blood. For if ye thoroughly do this word, there shall enter in by the gates of this house kings of the race of David, sitting upon his throne: because if ye hear not these words, I have sworn unto Myself, saith the Lord, |121 that this house shall be a desert. Again, for he was speaking of a wicked king: As I live, saith the Lord, if Jechoniah were the ring on my right hand, I will pluck him hence, and give him in the hands of those that seek his life.
51. Holy Habakkuk also crieth out, saying: Woe to him that buildeth. a city in blood, and prepareth a city by iniquities, saying: Are these things not from the Lord Almighty? and many peoples have perished by fire, and nations many have been diminished. He thus begins his prophecy with a complaint: How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? I shall cry unto Thee, why hast thou given unto me hardships and griefs, to see misery and ungodliness? To the contrary hath both a judgment been made and the judge accepted it. Wherefore the law is demolished and judgment is not brought to an end, because the ungodly by might trampleth down the righteous. Therefore judgment goeth forth perverted.
52. Listen also to what the blessed prophet Hosea says of princes: For that they have transgressed my covenant, and have borne themselves against my law; and were crying out, we know thee that thou art against Israel. They have persecuted the good, as if unrighteous; they have reigned for themselves, and not by me; they have held the chief place, nor have they recognised me.
53. Hear also the holy prophet Amos threatening as follows: For three transgressions of the sons of Judah, and for four, I will not turn them aside; because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept His precepts, and their vanities have led them astray. And I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the foundations of Jerusalem. Thus saith the Lord, For three iniquities of Israel and for four I will not turn them aside, because they have betrayed the |123 righteous for money and the needy for shoes, which tread upon the dust of the earth, and with cuffs have they struck the heads of the poor, and have shunned the way of the humble. After a few words: Seek the Lord and ye shall live, so that the house of Ioseph shall not blaze like fire and devour it, and there shall not be to quench it. The house of Israel have hated him that reproveth in the gates, and have abhorred the righteous word. And this Amos, when being forbidden to prophesy in Israel, without the mildness of flattery says in answer: I was not a prophet nor a prophet's son, but was a goat herd plucking the fruit of sycamores; and the Lord took me from the sheep, and the Lord said unto me, Go and prophesy unto my people Israel; and now hear thou the word of the Lord. For he was addressing the king. Thou sayest Prophesy not unto Israel and gather not crowds against the house of Jacob. Therefore thus saith the Lord. Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy lands shall be measured by line, and thou shalt die in an unclean land; and Israel shall be led away captive out of his land. And below: Hear therefore these things, ye that fiercely afflict the needy and employ tyranny against the poor in the land; who say, When shall the month be gone that we may get, and the sabbath that we may open our treasure. After a few words: The Lord sweareth against the pride of Jacob. Shall. He forget your works in scorn, and in these things shall not the land tremble? and every one that dwelleth thereon shall mourn, and its consummation shall rise like a flood. A nd I will turn your feast days into mourning, and shall cast haircloth upon every loin, and baldness upon every head, and I will render it as a mourning for a beloved one, and those that are with him, as a day of sorrow. And again: All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, Evils shall not overtake nor come upon us.
54. But listen also what the holy prophet Micah has said: Hear thou, O! tribe; what shall adorn a city? Not fire? Not the house of the unjust treasuring unjust treasures? Not unrighteousness with injury?58 Shall the unjust be justified in his balance, or deceitful |125 weights in the bag, out of which they filled up their riches in ungodliness?
55. But hear also what threats the distinguished prophet Zephaniah heaps up: The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening greatly. The voice of the day of the Lord hath been appointed bitter and mighty, that day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of cloud and mist, a day of trumpet and cry, a day of misery and desolation, a day of darkness and thick gloom, over strong cities and high corner towers. A nd I will distress men, and they shall go as blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; and I will pour out their blood as dust, and their flesh as the dung of oxen; and their silver and gold cannot deliver them in the day of the Lord's anger. And by the fire of his jealousy shall the whole land be consumed, when the Lord shall bring an end and a loneliness over all that dwell in the land. Come together, and gather yourselves together, nation without discipline; before ye be made as a flower that passeth away, before the anger of the Lord come upon you.
56. Listen also what Haggai, the holy prophet, says: Thus saith the Lord: Once shall I move heaven and earth and sea and dry land, and will turn away the kingdom and banish the strength of the kings of the nations, and turn away the chariots and those (them) that mount thereon.
57. Now again, observe what Zachariah, son of Adda, the chosen prophet, has said, beginning his prophecy in this manner: Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord, and be not such as your fathers, whom the former prophets charged, saying, Thus saith the Lord Almighty: Return ye from your ways: and they did not observe so as to hearken unto me. Below also: And the angel said unto me, What seest thou? and I said, I see a flying scythe of |127 twenty cubits in length. It is the curse which goeth forth over the face of the whole earth; since every thief shall from it be punished unto death, and I shall cast him forth saith the Lord Almighty; and it shall enter into the thief's house, and into the house of swearing . falsely in my name.
58. Holy Malachy the prophet also says: Behold the day of the Lord shall come, burning as a furnace; and all the proud and all who work wickedness shall be as stubble, and the coming day shall set them on fire, saith the Lord of hosts, which shall not leave of them root or shoot.
59. But hear what holy Job also has taught respecting the beginning and end of the wicked, saying: Wherefore do the wicked live? A nd they have become old dishonourably, and their seed is according to their desire, and their sons before their face; and their houses are fruitful, and never is the fear or the scourge of the Lord upon them. Their cow hath not been abortive, and their animal, big with young, hath brought forth and hath not gone astray; but it abideth as an eternal flock, and their children rejoice, taking up both psaltery and harp. They finished their life in good things, and stept into the rest of the grave. God, then, does not regard the deeds of the wicked? No, not so, I conclude. But the candle of the wicked shall be extinguished, and calamity shall come upon them, and pain as of one in childbirth shall hold them through anger. And they shall be like chaff before wind, and as dust, which the whirlwind carrieth away. May his goods fail to his children. Let his eyes see his own destruction, and may he not be redeemed by the Lord. After a while, of the same: Those who have carried away the flock with the shepherd, he says, and have taken away the beast of the orphans, and |129 have pledged the widow's ox, and have shunned the weak in the way of need, they have reaped a field, not their own, before its time; the poor have worked the vineyards of the strong, without pay and without hire; they have caused many to sleep naked without clothing; the covering of their life have they taken away. After a few words, when he knew their deeds, he delivered them over to darkness: Cursed therefore be his portion from the earth, and may his plantations appear as parched ones. Let there be, therefore, retribution to him as he hath done; let every wicked man be destroyed as a tree without health. For he riseth in anger, and overturns the weak. Therefore he shall not have confidence of his life, when he shall begin to grow weak; he shall not hope for health, but shall fall into weariness. For his pride hath wounded many, and he hath become withered as the mallow in heat, as the ear of corn when it falleth from its stem. Below also: Although his children be many, they shall be for destruction. Though he gather silver like earth, and prepare gold like unto clay, all these do the just obtain. |139
60. Listen besides to what the blessed prophet Esdras, that volume of the law, has threatened, treating in this manner:59 Thus says |141 my Lord, my right hand shall not spare sinners, neither shall the sword cease over them that shed innocent blood upon the earth. The fire shall go forth from my anger, and shall devour the foundations of the earth, and sinners like kindled straw. Woe unto them who sin and keep not my commandments, saith the Lord, I will not spare them. Depart ye apostate children, and defile not my holiness. God knoweth those that sin against Him, therefore He will deliver them unto death and unto destruction. For now have evils many come upon the whole earth. A sword of fire is sent upon you, and who shall turn back those evils? Will anyone turn back a hungry lion in the wood? Or what shall quench fire, when the straw is kindled? The Lord God will send evils and who will turn them back? And fire shall go forth from His wrath, and who is he that shall quench it? He shall send lightning, and who shall not fear? He shall thunder, and who shall not dread it? God shall threaten, and who shall not be terrified before His face? The earth shall quake and the foundations of the sea move like waves from the deep.
61. Listen also to what Ezekiel the famous prophet, the wonderful seer of the four beasts of the gospels, has said of the wicked. To |143 him first, as he piteously weeps the scourge of Israel, the Lord says: The iniquity of the house of Israel and of Judah hath grown exceeding great, because the land is full of many peoples and the city is full of iniquity and uncleanness. Behold it is I. Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity. And below. Because the land is full of peoples, and the city is full of iniquity, I will also turn away the force of their prowess, and their holy places shall be polluted. Supplication shall come, and they shall seek peace, and it shall not be. And after a while. The word of the Lord, he says, came unto me saying, Son of man, the land which shall sin against me to commit a trespass, I will stretch out my hand and break her foundation of bread, and send famine upon it, and take away from it man and beast. Although those three men be in the midst of it, Noah, Daniel, and Job, they shall not deliver it, but shall be themselves saved by their righteousness, saith the Lord. Because if I bring noisome beasts upon the land, and punish it, and it shall be a banishment, and there shall not be to walk from the face of the beasts, and if those three men be in the midst of it, as I live saith the Lord, its sons and daughters shall not be delivered, yet they themselves alone shall be saved, but the land shall be a desolation. And again. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself. And the unjust man if he turn from all the iniquities which he hath done, and keep all my commandments, and do righteousness and plenteous mercy, he shall surely live and not die. All his transgressions which he hath committed, shall not be: in the righteousness which he hath done, he shall surely live. Do I, indeed, desire the death of the unrighteous, saith the Lord, rather than that he turn from his own evil way and live? But when the righteous shall turn away from his righteousness and commit iniquity, according to all the unrighteousnesses which the sinner hath committed, |145 all the righteousnesses which he hath done, shall not be in remembrance. In his own trespass, by which he hath fallen, and in the sins by which he hath sinned, shall he die. And after a while. And all the nations shall know that it was on account of their sins the house of Israel were carried away captive, because they forsook me. And I have turned my face away from them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, and all have fallen by the sword. According to their uncleanness, and according to their transgressions, have I done unto them and have turned my face away from them.
62. Let this be sufficient to say respecting the threats of the holy prophets. I have, however, thought it necessary to insert in this little work a few things from The Wisdom of Solomon, so as to declare exhortation or intimation to kings no less than threats, lest it should be said of me, that I wish to place burdens of words, heavy and grievous to be borne, upon the shoulders of men, but am unwilling to move them with my finger, that is, by a word of consolation. Let us hear, therefore, what the prophet hath said. Love righteousness, he says, ye that judge the earth. This one testimony, if it were kept with the whole heart, would abundantly suffice to set right the rulers of the land. For if they had loved righteousness, they would also certainly love the fountain, as it were, and source of all righteousness, even God. Serve the Lord in goodness, and in singleness of heart seek ye him. Alas! "who shall be alive," as someone before us says, "when those things are done by our citizens," if haply they can be done anywhere, Because he is found of them that tempt him not, but appeareth unto them who have faith in him. For those men tempt God without respect, whose precepts they despise with stubborn contumacy; nor do they keep faith towards him unto whose oracles, pleasant or partly severe, they turn their back and not their face. For froward thoughts separate from God. This is that which is chiefly observed in the tyrants of our time. But why is my insignificant self brought in where |147 the meaning is so manifest? For let him speak on my behalf, as I have said, who alone is true, that is to say, the Holy Spirit, of whom it is now said: For a holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit. Again: Because the spirit of God hath filled the world. And below, showing with clear judgment the end of evil and good, he says. For the hope of the ungodly man is as the down of plants, that is carried away by the wind; and as the smoke that is dispersed by wind, and as the thin foam that is driven away by the storm, and as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day; but the righteous shall live for ever, and with God is their reward, and the care for them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive the kingdom of dignity, and the crown of beauty, from the Lord's hand: because with His right hand He shall cover them, and with His holy arm shall He protect them. For unlike in quality are they; they are righteous and ungodly; there is no doubt of this, as the Lord has said, I shall honour them 63 who honour me, and they that despise me shall be unknown. But let us pass on to the other things. Hear, he says, all ye kings and under-stand, learn ye judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, ye that hold dominion over multitudes, and pride yourselves in crowds of nations. Because power was given, you of God, and your strength from the Most High, who shall inquire into your works, and search out your counsels. Because, though ye were ministers of this kingdom, ye have not judged aright, nor kept the law of righteousness, nor walked according to His will; awfully and speedily shall He appear unto you, because a stern judgment shall be unto them that rule. For mercy is granted to the mean, but mighty men shall mightily suffer torments. For He who is Ruler of all will not thrust aside men's persons, nor will He reverence any man's greatness, because it is He |149 that hath made the mean and the great, and He hath care for all alike. But a very sore trial is at hand unto the mighty. Unto you, therefore, O kings, are these words of mine, that ye may learn wisdom, and fall not away. For they that have kept righteous things shall be justified, and they that have learnt holy things shall be made holy.|157
The writer's feelings with respect to the princes so severely censured in the preceding part. Motives as to intending attack upon the clergy.
64. So far, I have argued with the kings of my country no less by oracles of prophets than by my own words, desiring that they should know what the prophet had said: Flee from sins, he says, as from the face of a serpent; if thou draw nigh unto them, the teeth of a lion shall catch thee, their teeth that slay the souls of men. And again: How great is the mercy of the Lord, and His reconciliation unto them that turn unto Him. If I have not in me that apostolic word,60 that I should say, I could wish to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren, I could, nevertheless, say that word of the prophet with my whole heart: Alas! a soul perisheth. Again: Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord; let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in heaven; but also that apostolic saying, We desire every one of you to be in the bowels of Christ.
65. How gladly, in this place, as one tossed by the waves of the sea, and carried into the desired haven by the oars, would I, under the prompting of modesty, take my rest, did I not see mountains so great, and of such a kind, of the evil committed by bishops or the other priests, or by clergy of my own order also, raised up against God. These must I first, according to the law, as the witnesses |159 did, with rough stones of words, and then the people, if they cling to the decrees, stone with all our might, not that they may be killed in the body, but, by being dead unto sins, they may live unto God. This |161 I do lest I be accused of making an exception of persons. Yet, as I have already said in the former part, I crave pardon from those whose life I not only praise, but even prefer to all the wealth of the |163 world, of which, if it be possible, sometime before the day of my death, I desire and thirst to be a partaker. While my sides are now made invincible by a rampart of two shields of saints, with my back steadfast against the walls of truth, while my head is most surely covered by the Lord's help for a helmet, let the stones of my censures fly in a thick flight of truthful words.
1. Charges against wicked and reprobate priests, cc. 66-68.
66. Priests Britain has, but foolish ones; a great number of ministers, but shameless; clergy, but crafty plunderers; pastors, so to say, but wolves ready for the slaughter of souls, certainly not providing what is of benefit for the people, but seeking the filling of their own belly. They have church edifices, but enter them for the sake of filthy lucre; they teach the people, but by furnishing the worst examples, teach vice and evil morals; they seldom sacrifice, and never stand among the altars with pure heart; they |165 do not reprove the people on account of their sins, nay, in fact, they commit the same; they despise the commandments of Christ, and are careful to satisfy their own lusts with all their prayers: they get possession of the seat of the apostle Peter61 with unclean feet, but, by the desert of cupidity,62 fall into the unwholesome chair of the traitor Judas. Truth they hate as an enemy, and favour lies as if they were their dearest brothers: the righteous poor they eye like huge serpents, with fierce countenances, and respect the rich impious, with no touch of shame, like angels from heaven. They preach that alms should be given to the needy, with all the power of their lips, but they themselves contribute not a penny. Silent as to abominable sins of the people, they magnify their own injuries as if inflicted upon Christ. They drive out of house a religious mother, may be, or sisters,63 and unbecomingly make light of strange women, as if for a more hidden service, or rather, to speak the truth, though it be of improper things----not so much for me as for the men who do such things----they demean them. |167 After these things, they are more ready to seek ecclesiastical positions than the kingdom of heaven; and these, when received by an illegal rite,64 they defend without even adorning them by legitimate usages. Towards the precepts of the saints, if indeed they have at any time heard these things, which ought to be very frequently heard by them, they are listless and dull; while for public games and the scandalous tales of men of the world, they are active and attentive; as if the things which open the way of death were the way of life.65 They are hoarse, by reason of fat, like bulls; and are unhappily ready even for things unlawful; proudly holding their faces aloft, and their feelings plunged down to the lowest, even to hell, though with the remorse of conscience; grieving at the loss of a single penny, glad also at the gain of one. In apostolic decrees, because of ignorance or the weight of sins, while they stop the mouths of even the knowing, they are sluggish and dumb, yet in the false windings of worldly affairs, they are |169 exceedingly well versed.66 Many of these men, after a wicked life, rather force their way into the priesthood, or buy it at almost any price,67 than be drawn into the same; and in the same old and accursed mire of unbearable crimes, after gaining the priestly chair of episcopate or presbyterate (men who never sat thereon), meanly wallow like swine. They have violently seized the mere name of priest, without receiving its true meaning or apostolic worthiness, but as men, who in respect of sound faith and by repentance for sins, are not yet fit. How do they arrive at and acquire any ecclesiastical rank, to say nothing of the highest?68 because it is a rank which none save the holy and perfect, and those who imitate the apostles, and, to speak in the words of the teacher of the gentiles, those without reproach, undertake in a legitimate way and without the great sin of sacrilege.
67. For what is so impious and so wicked as, after the pattern of Simon Magus, though meanwhile no indiscriminate sins intervene, that any one should wish to purchase the office of bishop or presbyter for an earthly price, an office that is more becomingly obtained by holiness and upright character? But the error of those men lies the more grave and desperate in the fact that they buy counterfeit and unprofitable priesthood, not from apostles or the successors of apostles, but from tyrants and from their father the devil. Nay, furthermore, they place upon the edifice of an infamous life a kind of roof and covering for all sins, in order that admitted desires, old or new, of covetousness and gluttony should not be easily placed to their charge by any one, seeing that, having oversight of many, they carry on their pillage with greater ease. For if truly such a stipulation of purchase had been |171 presented by those shameless men, let me not say to the apostle Peter, but to any holy priest and pious king, they would have received the same answer as the originator of the same, the magician Simon, received from the apostle when Peter said: Thy money perish with thee. But perhaps, alas! they who ordain those candidates, nay, rather, who abase them and give them a curse for a blessing, because out of sinners they make, not penitents, which would be more befitting, but sacrilegious and irremediable offenders, and in a way appoint Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, to the chair of Peter, and Nicolaus, the founder of a foul heresy, in place of Stephen the martyr----perhaps they were summoned to the priesthood after the same manner. For this reason, in the case of their sons, they do not greatly detest (they rather approve), that it is a matter of utmost certainty that things should come to pass afterwards as with the fathers. Since, if they could not find this kind |173 of pearl, because fellow-labourers resisted them in a diocese, and sternly refused them so profitable a business, they are not so much grieved as delighted to send messengers before them, to cross seas and travel over broad countries, so that in any way such display and incomparable dignity, or to speak more truly, such diabolical mockery, be acquired, even by the sale of all their substance. Afterwards, with great state and magnificent show, or rather foolery, they return to their own country, and show their haughty gait more haughty. While hitherto their gaze was at the tops of mountains, they now direct their half-sleepy eyes straight to heaven, or to the light fleecy clouds, and obtrude themselves upon their country as creatures of a new mould; nay, rather as instruments of the devil, just as aforetime Novatus69 at Rome, the tormentor of the Lord's jewel, the black hog, their purpose is to stretch forth their hands violently upon the holy sacrifices of Christ, hands worthy not so much of the venerable altars as of the avenging flames of hell, because they are men placed in a position of this kind.
68. What wilt thou, unhappy people, expect from such belly beasts, as the apostle says? Shalt thou be amended by these men who not only do not call themselves to what is good, but, in the |175 words of the prophet, weary themselves to commit iniquity? Shalt thou be illuminated by such eyes which greedily scan only those things which lead downwards to wickedness, that is, to the gates of hell? Or, surely, according to the Saviour's saying, if ye do not; speedily escape from those ravenous Arabian wolves, just as Lot escaped to the mountain, fleeing the fiery shower of Sodoma, blind led by the blind, ye shall fall equally into the ditch of hell.
2. Defects of those acknowledged to be blameless in their lives when compared (a) with Old Testament examples, cc. 69-72; (b) with examples found in the New, c. 73; (c) with those furnished by Church history, cc. 74-75.
69 Perhaps, however, some one may say: All bishops or presbyters are not so wicked as they have been described in the former part; because they are not defiled by the infamy of schism or of pride or of uncleanness. Neither do I also strongly deny this.
(a) Comparison with Old Testament examples.
But while I know them to be chaste and good, I shall, nevertheless, make a brief answer. What did it avail Eli the priest, that he himself did not violate the precepts of the Lord by seizing with flesh-hooks, before the fat was offered to the Lord, flesh out of the |177 pots, whilst he was punished by the same anger leading to death as his sons were? Who, I ask, of those men was killed, as Abel, owing to envy of a better sacrifice, and one carried by celestial fire into heaven? They are men who even reject the reproof of a lowly word----who hath hated the counsel of the malicious and hath not sat with the ungodly, so that of him it might be truly said as of Enoch: Enoch walked with God and was not found, that is to say, was not found to have abandoned God, and to limp readily after idols at that time, amid the vanity of the whole world in its unwisdom. Who of them has refused to admit into the ark of salvation, that is, now, the Church, any adversary of God, as Noah in the time of the deluge, so that it may be made clearly manifest that only the innocent, or those pre-eminently penitent, ought to be in the Lord's house? Who, like Melchisedek, offered, sacrificed, and blessed the victors only when, three hundred in number (which implies the mystery of the Trinity), after delivering the just man, they vanquish the dangerous armies of the five kings and |179 of their victorious troops, and have no desire for the goods of others? Who, like Abraham, at the command of God, has voluntarily offered his own son to be slain on the altar, so that he should fulfil a command similar to that given by Christ when he says that the offending right eye must be plucked out, and should guard against the prophet's warning, that cursed is he who keepeth back the sword and blood? Who, like Joseph, has rooted out of his heart the memory of an injury? Who, to speak in figure, like Moses, has spoken with the Lord on the mountain and then, without being terrified by the sounding trumpets, has brought to the people, as Moses did, the two tables and a covered face impossible (unbearable) to look at and awful to unbelievers? Which of them, praying for the sins of the people, has cried out from the depths of his heart, as he, saying: Lord this people hath sinned a great sin, which if thou forgive them forgive, otherwise blot me out of thy book?
70. Who, burning with an extraordinary zeal for God, has risen strongly to the immediate punishment of adultery, applying the medicine of penance for the healing of filthy lust; lest anger |181 should burn against the people, as Phineas the priest did, so that for ever it might be counted unto him as righteousness? Which of them has imitated Joshua, son of Nun, in moral understanding, either to root out unto their utter destruction from the Land of Promise the seven nations, or to establish in their stead a spiritual Israel? Which of them has shown to the people of God their farthest boundaries beyond Jordan, so that they might know what is suitable for each tribe, just as the above-named Phineas and Joshua made a wise division of the country? Who, in order to overthrow the innumerable throngs of the Gentiles, the enemies of God's people, has, as Jephtha, offered up his only daughter----by which is understood his own will, in this imitating the apostle when he says: Not seeking mine own profit but the profit of many, that they maybe saved----offered her as a sacrifice of vow and propitiation when she was coming to meet the victors with timbrel and dance, that is, the carnal desires? Which of them, in order to disturb, put to flight and overthrow the camp of the proud Gentiles, went forth with undoubting faith as Gideon? Went forth, showing the mystery of the Trinity as was said above, with men holding in their hands the extraordinary pitchers and sounding trumpets----by which is meant the thoughts of prophets and apostles, as the Lord said to the prophet, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet; and the Psalmist said of the apostles, Their sound is gone forth to all the earth----waving also the pitchers in the night with brightest light of fire, which are understood of the bodies of the saints joined to good works and glowing with the fire of the Holy Spirit, Having, as the apostle says, this treasure in earthen vessels? went forth, after cutting down the wood in the grove of idolatry, which, in its moral interpretation, means thick and dark desire, and after the clear signs of the Jewish fleece without the moisture from heaven, and of the Gentile fleece made wet by the. dew of the Holy Spirit? |183
71. Which of them, desiring to die to the world and live unto Christ, has made prostrate such innumerable luxurious banqueters (that is, the senses), praising their gods, exalting riches (in the words of the apostle, and covetousness which is idolatry), as Samson did, when he, by the strength of his arms, clashed the two columns, which mean the vain pleasures of soul and flesh, by which the house of every human wickedness is, in a manner, fixed and established? Which of them, as Samuel, driving away fear of the Philistines by prayers and the offering of a sucking lamb as a whole burnt-offering, brought on sudden thunder and rain from the clouds, and appointing a king without flattery, casting away the same when not pleasing unto God, after anointing a better man for the throne, stood to bid adieu to the people, speaking as follows: Here I am: speak before the Lord and His anointed: have I taken anyone's ox or ass? have I made false accusation against any one? have 1 oppressed any one? have I taken a reward from any man's hand? To him answer was made by the people: Thou hast not made false accusation against us, nor oppressed us, nor hast thou taken anything from the hand of any man.
Which of them, burning a hundred proud ones by fire from heaven, while preserving fifty humble ones, and without the deceit of flattery, announcing to the unrighteous king his impending death, when he was taking counsel, not of God by his prophet, but of the idol Accharon, which----like Elias, the illustrious prophet----has overthrown with a gleaming sword, that is, the word of God, all the prophets of the idol Baal, who, when interpreted, are understood to be the human emotions (as we have already said), ever intent upon envy and covetousness? Who, as he, moved by zeal for God, depriving the land of the unrighteous of rain from heaven, as if it were shut up in the stronghold of want for three years and six months, was about to die of famine and thirst in the wilderness, and made his lament, saying, Lord, they have slain thy prophets and have thrown down thine altars, and I am left alone, and they seek my life?
72. Which of them, as Elisaeus, punished a beloved disciple, when burdened beyond his wont by the weight of earthly things which had previously been despised by himself, though earnestly entreated to accept them, not by perpetual leprosy, it is true, yet by dismissal? Which of them, as he, has opened the eyes of the soul for a servant, when, in despair of life, he was excited and trembling at the sudden warlike preparations of the enemies, besieging the city in which they were? Who among us, as he, has done this with |185 fervent prayer offered unto God, so that he could see the mountain full of the heavenly army of allies, and of armed chariots or horsemen flashing with fiery countenances, and that he might believe that God was stronger to save than the enemies to fight? Which of them also by contact with his body, when dead to the world, yet living unto God, shall profit, as the above-named did, another lying in a different death, that is, dead unto God, but living unto sins, so that he should forthwith leap forth and give thanks to Christ for a healing despaired of in the conversation of almost all men? Of which of them, with live coal carried from off the altar in the tongs of the cherubs, so that his sins should be blotted out, were the lips purified, as those of Isaiah, by humble confession? Was it not by those lips, with the help of the efficacious prayer of the pious king Hezekiah, that 185,000 of the Assyrian army, like the men mentioned above, were thoroughly overthrown, with no trace of wound, by the hand of the angel? Which of them, like blessed Jeremiah, because of the commands of God and his public utterance of threats given from heaven, and the truth even to men who heard not, experienced the squalor and filth of prisons, equivalent to death for a time? To be brief, who of them, as the teacher of the gentiles has said, suffered the wandering on mountains, in caves and holes of the earth, the stoning, the cutting asunder, the trial by every kind of death for the Lord's name, like the holy prophets?
(b) Compared with New Testament examples.
73. Why do we delay in ancient examples as if there were not any in the New Testament? Let those men, therefore, who think that without any hardship they can enter this narrow way of the Christian religion merely by claiming the name of priest, listen to me as I cull a few flowers, the chiefest in a way, from the extensive and pleasant meadow of the holy soldiery of the New Testament.
Which of you, who loll listlessly rather than sit in a legitimate way in the priestly chair, was cast out from the council of the wicked, and, like the holy apostles, gave thanks with full heart to the Trinity, after blows from diverse rods, that he was held worthy to suffer contumely for Christ, the true God?
Who, through bearing true testimony to God, had his brains |187 dashed out with a fuller's club, and suffered bodily death, like James, though the first bishop in the New Testament? Who among you was beheaded, by an unjust prince as James the brother of John? Who, like the first deacon and martyr of the gospel, with no crime but this that he saw God, whom the unbelieving could not have seen, has been stoned by impious hands? Who, fixed to the cross-bar with feet up because of his reverence for Christ, whom he intended to honour no less by death than by life, breathed his last breath, like that fit keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven? Who of you, as the chosen vessel and elect teacher of the gentiles, was beheaded by a stroke of the sword, for the confession of the Christ that spoke the truth, after prison chains, shipwrecks at seas, blows with rods; after continuous perils of rivers, of robbers, of Gentiles, of Jews, of false apostles, after sufferings of famine, fasting, watchings, after constant anxiety for all the churches, after burning for them that cause stumbling, after weakness for the weak, after wonderful compassing of the world, almost, to preach the gospel of Christ?
(c) Compared with examples furnished by Church History.
74. Who of you, like the holy martyr Ignatius, bishop of the city of Antioch, after wonderful deeds in Christ, was torn to pieces at |189 Rome by the teeth of lions, because of his testimony? When you hear his words as he was being led to his passion, if ever you have----with blushing----felt confusion of face, you will not only not consider yourselves priests in comparison with him, but will barely regard yourselves as middling Christians. In the epistle which he sent to the Roman Church he says: From Syria unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, day and night, being bound and tied to ten leopards, I mean the soldiers appointed as guards, who wax more cruel by our kindnesses. Howbeit by their wickednesses I grow more instructed, yet am I not hereby justified. O! the beasts of salvation, that are being prepared for me, when will they come? When shall they be let out? When will it be free for them to enjoy my flesh? These I wish to be made more prompt, and I will entice them to devour me, and pray that they will not, as they have done in the case of some, fear to touch my body. Yea, even if they delay, I will force them to it; I shall rush upon them. Bear with me; I know what is expedient for me. Now am I beginning to be a disciple of Christ. Let the envy, whether of human feeling or spiritual wickedness, cease, that I may be worthy to attain unto Jesus Christ; may fires, crosses, beasts, wrenchings of bones, hacking of limbs, and pains in my whole body, and all tortures devised by the art of the devil be fulfilled in me alone, provided I be worthy to attain unto Jesus. Christ.
Why do you look at these things with the sleepy eyes of your soul? Why listen to such with the dull ears of your senses? Disperse, I pray, the dark black mist of your heart's slothfulness, so that ye may be able to see the beaming light of truth and humility. A no common Christian but a perfect one, a no mean but most excellent priest, a martyr not sluggish but distinguished, says: Now am I beginning to be a disciple of Christ. And you, just like that Lucifer, cast down from heaven, are puffed up with words, not power, and ruminate under your teeth, and allege by gestures the things which your advocate had formerly pictured, saying: I will ascend unto heaven, and will be like to the Most High; and again: I have digged and drunk water, and with the print of my |191 feet have dried up all the rivers of the banks. Far more rightly ought ye to imitate and hear him who is the victorious example of goodness and humility when he says by the prophet: But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and rejected of the people. O! something wonderful for Him to say that He was the reproach of men, when He blotted out the reproaches of the whole world. Again, in the gospel: I can of myself do nothing, when He Himself, coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, of common and the same substance, made heaven and earth with all their priceless ornamentation, not by the might of another, but by His own. And wonderful that you should arrogantly have held high words, though the prophet says: Why is earth and ashes proud?
75. But let me return to my theme. Who of you, I say, like noble Polycarp, the pastor of the church at Smyrna, witness of Christ, placed a table with kindliness to guests that were violently dragging him to the fire, and when exposed to the flames for his love of Christ said: He who gave me to bear the torture of fire will give me to endure the flames unshaken without any fastening by nails? One more, swiftly flying in my words past the thick forest of the saints, will I put forth by way of example. I mean Basil, the bishop of Caesarea,70 who, when threats were pressed by an unjust prince to the effect that unless, by the morrow, he would, like the rest, defile himself with the Arian filth, he should die without fail, is said to have answered: I in sooth shall to-morrow be the man I am to-day: as for thee, mayest thou not change. Again, he |193 said: Would that I had some worthy reward to offer him who would free Basil from the bond of this frame. Who of you, amid the distraction of tyrants, has inviolably kept the rule given in the apostolic word? I mean the rule which has been observed always by all the holy priests, in all times that have been, rejecting the intimation of men which hurried them headlong to vanity, speaking after this manner: We ought to obey God rather than men.
3. Quotations of incriminatory passages directed against "lazy and unworthy priests'" (a) from the Old Testament, cc. 76-91; (b) from the New, cc. 92-105; (c) from the selections of Scriptural Lessons found in the British Ordinal, or Service-book used in ordinations, cc. 106-107.
(a) Old Testament passages.
76. Let us therefore make our flight to the Lord's mercy and the words of His holy prophets, so that they for us may poise the javelins of their oracles against imperfect pastors, as heretofore against tyrants, in order that through compunction they may be healed. Let us see what threats the Lord utters by the prophets against slothful and unseemly priests, and such as did not teach the people well by example and words. Eli, that priest in Shiloh, because he had not with a zeal worthy of God punished his sons when they held God in contempt, but mildly and gently admonished them, certainly with the feelings of a father, is condemned in such a censure as the following. The prophet says to him: Thus saith the Lord,----Plainly did I show myself to the house of thy father when they were in Egypt, slaves in the house of Pharaoh. A nd I chose the house of thy father out of all the tribes of Israel for |195 me in the priesthood. After a few words: Why didst thou look upon my incense and my sacrifice with an evil eye, and didst honour thy sons more than me, so as to bless them from the beginning in all the sacrifices before me? And now thus saith the Lord: Because them that honour me will I honour, and they that despise me shall be brought to nought, behold the days shall come that I shall destroy thy name and the seed of thy father s house. And let this be a sign unto thee, which shall come upon thy two sons Hophni and Phineas: in one day shall they both die by the sword of men. I f therefore they who merely correct those subject to them by words, and not by deserved punishment, suffer these things, what shall be to those who incite and draw men to wicked deeds by sinning?
77 What happened also to that true prophet, after the fulfilment of the sign foretold by himself and the restoration of the withered hand to the impious king, when he was sent to prophesy in Bethel, and was forbidden to take any food there, but was deceived by another prophet, as he was called, to take a little bread and water, is evident. His host says to him: Thus saith the Lord God, Forasmuch as thou wert disobedient to the mouth of the Lord and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded, and earnest back and hast eaten bread and drunk water in this place in which I had commanded thee not to eat bread nor to drink water, thy body shall not be placed in the sepulchre of thy fathers. And it came to pass, it is said, after he had eaten bread and had drunk water, that he saddled his ass for him and he departed. And a lion found him in the way and slew him.
78. Hear also the holy prophet Isaiah, speaking of the priests in the following manner: Woe unto the wicked for evil! for the reward of his hands shall be unto him. Their overseers have spoiled my people and women have ruled over them. O! my people, they who call thee blessed, themselves deceive thee and destroy the way of thy paths. The Lord standeth to judge and standeth to judge the peoples. The Lord will come to judgment with the elders of his people and the princes thereof. Ye have eaten up my vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your house: Why crush ye my people and grind the face of the poor? saith the Lord of hosts. Again: Woe unto them that decree unrighteous laws and as writers have written unrighteousness, to oppress the needy in judgment and make violence to the cause of the poor of my people, that widoiws may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. What will ye do in the day of visitation and of the calamity that cometh from afar? Below also: But these have also been ignorant through wine, and have erred through drunkenness; priests have been ignorant by |197 reason of drunkenness; they are swallowed up of wine, they have erred in drunkenness; they have not known Him that seeth, they have been ignorant of judgment. For all tables were filled with the vomit of their filthiness, so that there was no more room.
79. Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scoffing men, that rule over my people which is in Jerusalem. For ye have said, We have made a covenant with death and with hell we are in agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come upon us, for we have made falsehood our hope, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. A little further: And the hail shall upset the hope of falsehood, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place, and your covenant with death shall be disannulled and your agreement with hell shall not stand: when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, ye shall be trodden down. Whenever it shall pass through, it shall sweep you away. Again: And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth and glorify me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, therefore, behold, I will proceed to cause a wondering in this people by a great and amazing marvel. For wisdom shall perish from its wise men, and the understanding of its prudent-men shall be hid. Woe unto you who are deep of heart to hide your counsel from the Lord, whose works are in the dark and they say, Who seeth us? and, Who knoweth us? persevere in this your thought. Somewhat further: Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool: which is the house that ye will build unto me? and which is the place of my rest? All these things hath mine hand made, all those things came to pass, saith the Lord. To whom will I look except to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words? He that sacrificeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that killeth a sheep is as he that beateth out the brains of a dog; he that offereth an oblation is as he that offereth swine's blood; he that remembereth frankincense is as he that blesseth an idol. These things have they chosen in their own ways, and in their abominations their soul delighteth.
80. Jeremiah also, celibate and prophet, listen what he says to foolish pastors: Thus saith the Lord, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity and have become vain? A little further: When ye entered, ye defiled my land and placed mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? And they that handle the law knew me not, and the pastors transgressed against me. Wherefore I will hereafter plead with you in judgment, saith |199 the Lord, and with your children will I dispute. Also, after somewhat more: An amazement and wonderful things have been committed in the land; the prophets prophesied falsehood and the priests applauded with their hands, and my people have loved such things. What therefore shall be done in the end thereof? To whom shall I speak and testify that he may hear? behold their ears are uncircumcised and they cannot hearken; behold the word of the Lord is become unto them a reproach and they receive it not. For I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them, every one is given to covetousness, and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people meanly, saying, Peace, peace; and there will be no peace. They were put to shame, they who have committed an abomination. Nay, they were not at all ashamed and could not blush. Therefore they shall fall among them that fall; at the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Again: They all are princes of men that turn aside; they walk fraudulently; brass and iron are they; they have been all together corrupted; the bellows have failed in the fire; in vain hath the founder melted, but their wickednesses have not been consumed: call them refuse silver because the Lord hath rejected them. A short space after: I am, I am, I have seen, saith the Lord. Go ye unto my place in Shiloh where my name dwelt from the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you but ye answered not, I shall do unto this house in which my name was invoked, and in which ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh, and I will cast you out of my sight.
81. Again: My children are gone forth from me, and they are not; there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains, for the pastors have done foolishly, and have not sought the Lord, therefore they have not understood, and their flock is scattered.
Somewhat further: Why is it that my beloved hath in mine house committed many crimes? Will the holy flesh take away from thce thy sins in which thou hast gloried? A rich olive tree, fair, fruitful, goodly hath the Lord called thy name; to the sound of speech a great fire hath burnt in her and her groves are consumed. Again: Come, assemble all ye beasts of the earth, hasten to devour. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have rendered my desirable portion a wilderness of solitude. He |201 also speaks: Thus saith the Lord unto this people, that loved to move its feet, and hath not rested, and hath not pleased the Lord. Now will we remember its iniquities and visit its sins. The prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, and famine shall not be among you, but the Lord will give you true peace in that place. And the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy falsely in my name: I sent them not, and have not commanded them: they prophesy unto a lying vision, and divination and fraud, and the deceit of their own heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed, and the people to whom they have prophesied shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword, and there shall be none to bury them.
82. Again: Woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God of Israel to the pastors that feed my people, Ye have scattered my flock and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold I will visit upon you the evil of your inclinations, saith the Lord. For prophet and priest are polluted, and in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be as a slippery place in darkness, for they shall be driven on and fall therein, for I will bring evils upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria, they both prophesied by Baal and deceived my people Israel. In the' prophets of Jerusalem also 1 have seen a similar thing, adultery and the way of falsehood, and they have strengthened the hands of evildoers so that no one returned from his wickedness; they are all become unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto the prophets, Behold I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink water of gall. For from the prophets of Jerusalem is pollution gone forth over all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you and deceive you; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. For they say unto them that blaspheme me, The Lord hath said, Peace shall be unto you, and unto every one that walketh in the depravity of his own heart, they have said, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath been in the council of the Lord and hath seen and heard his word? Who hath marked his word and heard it? Behold the whirlwind of the Lord's fury goeth forth, and a tempest bursting upon the head of the wicked shall come. The anger of the Lord shall not return until he have done, and until he have completed the intent of his heart. In the last days ye shall understand his counsel. |203
83. Little 71 do you think or do what the holy prophet Joel also has said in admonition of lazy priests, and lamenting the people's loss through their iniquities: Awake ye that are drunk through your wine, and weep and lament all who drink wine unto drunkenness, because joy and gladness is taken away from your mouth. Mourn, ye priests, that serve the altar, because the fields have become wretched. Let the earth mourn because the corn is become wretched and the vine dried up, the oil is diminished, the husbandmen have become languish. Mourn, ye estates, for the wheat and barley, because the vine harvest is perished from the field, the vine is dried up, the fig-trees have become fewer: the pomegranates, palms, apple-tree, and all trees of the field are withered, because the sons of men have thrown joy into confusion. All these words must be understood by you in a spiritual sense, lest your souls be withered by so destructive a famine for the Word of God.
Again: Weep ye priests that serve the Lord, saying, Spare, Lord, thy people; give not thine inheritance to reproach, and let not the Gentiles rule over them, lest the Gentiles say, Where is their God? Yet ye in no wise hear these things, but permit all things by which the indignation of the divine anger is kindled.
84. Give express heed to what the holy prophet Hosea also says to priests of your small stature: Hear this, ye priests and hearken, thou house of Israel, and thou, house of the king, fasten them in your ears, since judgment is toward you, because ye have been made, a snare unto watchfulness, and like a net spread upon Tabor, which they who have set the hunt have fixed.
85. To you also there is signified an alienation of this kind from the Lord by the prophet Amos, when he says: I have hated and thrust away your feast-days, and I will not accept a sweet savour in your solemn assemblies, because, though ye offer your burnt offerings |205 and sacrifices, I will not accept them. And I will not regard the salvation proclaimed by you. Take away from me the sound of thy songs, and the (psalm) melody of thy instruments I will not hear, because famine of Gospel food, the very fare which eats away the bowels of your soul, is raging among you, as the prophet named above has foretold. Behold, he says, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine in the land----not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and the waters shall be moved from sea to sea, and from the north unto the east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord and shall not find it.
86. Understand also with your ears the holy Micah as he, like a heavenly trumpet, sounds forth very concisely against the crafty princes of the people. Hear now, he says, ye princes of the house of Jacob. Is it not for you to know judgment, though ye hate the good and seek the evil, plucking their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones? How have they eaten the flesh of my people and flayed their skins from off them, have broken their bones and chopped them as flesh in the cauldron? They shall cry unto God and he will not hear them, and he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have behaved themselves ill in their imaginings. Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people to err, that bite with their teeth and cry unto them, Peace, though it (peace) is not put into their mouth; I have stirred up war against them (i.e., people). Therefore night shall be unto you in consequence of your vision and darkness shall be unto you in consequence of divining, and the sun shall go down upon the prophets and the day shall be dark over them, then shall the seers of dreams be confounded and the diviners mocked, and they themselves shall decry against all because there shall not be that heareth them. I shall surely fill my strength with the Spirit of the Lord, and with judgment and might, to declare unto the house of Jacob its impieties and to Israel his sins. Hear this therefore ye leaders of the house of Jacob and the residue of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment and pervert equity, that build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with |207 iniquities. The leaders thereof judge for rewards and the priests thereof gave answer for hire, and the prophets thereof were divining for money, yet did they rest in the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in the midst of us; evils shall not come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be like the watch-tower of an orchard, and the mountain of the house as a place of forest. After a while: Woe is me because I have become as one that gathereth stubble in harvest, and as a bunch of grapes in the vintage, when there is not a cluster to eat of its first fruits; woe is my soul! it perisheth in works of earth, always doth reverence for sinners rise reverently from the earth, and he that amendeth among men is not. All contend in judgment for blood, and everyone hath greatly troubled his neighbour, he prepareth his hands for evil.
87. Hearken again to what Zephaniah, distinguished prophet, has treated of respecting your fellows of old. He spoke of Jerusalem, which, spiritually, is understood to be the church or the soul: O! the city that was splendid and set free, the trusting dove, she heard not the voice nor learnt correction, she trusted not in the Lord, and to her God she drew not near. He shows the reason why: Her princes are like a roaring lion; her judges, like the wolves of Arabia, left not until the morning, her prophets carry the spirit of a scornful man, her priests pollute the sanctuary, and have dealt impiously in the law. But the righteous Lord is in the midst of her and will not do unrighteousness. Morning by morning will he give his judgment.
88. But hear also the blessed, prophet Zechariah admonishing you by the word of God. For thus saith the Lord Almighty: Execute righteous judgment, and do mercy and compassion every man to his brother; and injure not the widow, the orphan, the stranger and the poor, and let none remember malice against his brother in his heart. But they were stubborn to heed, and turned their foolish back, and made their ears heavy that they should not hear. Their heart they have set up impossible to persuade, lest they should hear my law and the words which the Lord Almighty hath sent by his Spirit at the hands of the former prophets, and a great wrath hath come from the Lord Almighty. Again: Because they that spoke, spoke vexation, and |209 the diviners spoke false visions and false dreams, and gave vain comfort, therefore, they have become parched like sheep, and were troubled because there was no health. Mine anger is kindled against the shepherds and I will visit the lambs. After a few words: There is a voice of the lamentations of the shepherds because their greatness has become wretched; a voice of roaring lions, because the course of Jordan has become wretched. Thus saith the Lord Almighty: They who possessed slew and did not repent, and they that sold them said: Blessed be the Lord for we have been made rich, and their shepherds have not been spared among them; wherefore I will no more have pity upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord.
89. Hear, moreover, what proclamation the holy prophet Malachi has made against you. You priests who despise my name, and have said: Wherein have we despised thy name? By offering polluted loaves upon mine altar, and ye have said: Wherein have we polluted them? in that ye say: The table of the Lord is as nothing, and what was spread upon it ye have despised; because, if ye bring the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? If ye bring forth the lame or weak, is it not evil? Offer it now to thy chief; Will he receive it? Will he accept thy person? saith the Lord Almighty. And now intreat ye the face of your God and beseech him: these things were done by your hand, will I accept your persons among you? Again: And ye have brought of your plunder the lame and weak, and have brought it as a gift. Shall I accept that of your hand? saith the Lord. Cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and in fulfilling a vow sacrificeth the weak unto the Lord; for I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is terrible among the gentiles. A nd now this commandment is for you, O ye priests. If ye will not hear and put it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will send poverty unto you, and will curse your blessings, because ye have not laid it to heart. Behold I will stretch forth my arm against you and will spread over your face the dung of your solemn feasts.
But meanwhile that you may the more eagerly prepare the instruments of evil for good, listen to what he says of the holy priest, if there remains ever so little of the inner hearing in you. My covenant was with him----he spoke of Levi or Moses in |211 point of history----of life and peace; I gave him. fear and he feared me, and stood in awe before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth and iniquity was not found in his lips; in peace and equity walked he with me, and did turn many from iniquity. For the priest's lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Now he changes his meaning, and ceases not to rebuke the evil ones, saying: Ye have departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble in the law, and ye have made the covenant with Levi of no effect, saith the Lord of hosts. Wherefore I have also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, and have had respect of person in the law. Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why doth every one despise his brother? Again: Behold the Lord of hosts will come, and who can think of the day of his coming? And who shall stand to see him? For he himself shall come forth like burning fire, and as the washers soap, and he shall sit refining and purifying silver, and he shall purge the sons of Levi, and shall cleanse them like gold and like silver. After a while: Your words have become strong against me, saith the Lord, and ye said: Vain is he that serveth God, and what profit is it that we have kept his precepts, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? Therefore, now we will call the proud blessed, because they that work wickedness are built up; they have tempted God and have been delivered.
90. Listen, however, to what the prophet Ezekiel said: Woe shall come upon woe, and messenger upon messenger, and the vision shall be sought from the prophet, and the law shall perish from the priest and counsel from the elders. Again: Thus saith the Lord: Because your words are falsehoods, and your divinations vain, on this account behold I am against you, saith the Lord. I will stretch forth my hand |213 against the prophets that see lies, and those who speak vain things. They shall not be in the discipline of my people, and shall not be written in the writing of the house of Israel, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Wherefore they have led astray my people, saying: The Peace of the Lord, and there is no Peace of the Lord. This man buildeth a wall, and they daub it, and it shall fall. After some more words: Woe unto those that sew pillows beneath every elbow, and fashion veils upon every head of every age, to subvert souls. Subverted are the souls of my people, they took possession of their souls, and profaned me to my people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread to slay the souls that should not die, and to free the souls that should not live, while ye speak to the people as they listen to vain speeches. Below also: Son of man say: Thou art the land that is not watered, nor hath rain come upon thee in the day of wrath, the land in which the princes are like raging lions in the midst of her, ravening the prey, devouring souls by their might and taking rewards; thy widows have been made many in the midst of thee, and her priests have despised my law and were polluting mine holy things. They distinguished not between the holy and the profane, and discerned not between the unclean and clean, and veiled their eyes from my sabbaths, and I was profaned in the midst of them.
91. Again also: And I sought for a man from among them that walked uprightly, and stood before my face wholly for the times of the land, that I should not in the end destroy it, and have not found. A nd I have poured out against it my soul in the fire of my anger to consume them. Their ways have I brought upon their head, saith the Lord. After a while: And the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, speak to the children of my people, and say unto them: The land into which I bring a sword, and the people of the land take a man from among themselves, and place him for them as a watchman, if he see the sword coming over the land, and blow the trumpet and signify unto the people, and he that heareth hear the voice of the trumpet and not observe, and the sword come and seize him, his blood shall be upon his own head. Because, when he heard the voice of the trumpet, he did not observe, his blood shall be upon himself. And this man who watched over his own soul hath delivered it. And the watchman, if he see the sword coming, and signify not by the trumpet so that the people observe not, and the sword coming take a soul from among them, and that soul is taken away on account of its own iniquity, yet its blood will I require at the watchman's hand. And thou, son of man, a watchman have I |215 set thee for the house of Israel, and thou shalt hear the word from my mouth; when I say to the sinner: Thou shalt surely die, if thou speak not so that the wicked may turn aside from his way, the wicked himself shall die in his wickedness, but his blood will I require at thy hand. However, if thou warn the wicked of his way that he may turn aside from it, and he turn not from his way, this man shall die in his iniquity, and thou hast delivered thy soul.
92. But let these few testimonies from the many of the prophets be sufficient By them is the pride or sloth of stubborn priests restrained, that they may not think I make such denunciations against them by my own imaginings rather than by the authority of the law and the saints. Let us therefore see what the gospel trumpet, while sounding forth to the world, says to irregular priests (unordained priests). For as I have already said, my speech is not of those who obtain the apostolic throne in a lawful way, and who are well able to dispense spiritual food to their fellow servants in due season (if, in fact, there are many at the present day), but of the unskilled pastors who abandon the sheep, and give vain things as food, and have not the words of the skilled pastor. The evidence, therefore, is clear, that he is not a legitimate pastor; nay, not even an ordinary Christian man, who rejects and disowns these words, not so much words of mine, who am very insignificant, as decrees of the Old and New Testament. One of our own people says well: We desire much that the enemies of the church be ours also and enemies without treaty, and that her friends and defenders be |217 regarded ours, not only as allies but as fathers and lords. For let each one meet his own conscience in true examination, and in this they shall discern whether they sit in the priestly chair according to right reason. Let us see, I say, what the Saviour and Creator of the world says: Ye are, he avers, the salt of the earth; because if the salt have vanished, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden by men. 93 This single testimony might fully suffice to confute all those that are without shame. But in order that by still more manifest attestations, that is by the words of Christ, it may be proved by what unbearable burdens of crimes these false priests weight themselves, some words must be annexed. For there follows: Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid, nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand, that it may shine unto all that are in the house. Who, then, of the priests of this time, thus possessed by the blindness of ignorance, as the light of a clear lamp, will shine in any house to all those sitting by night with the torch of both learning and good works? Who is regarded such a safe, public, and conspicuous refuge for all the sons of the church, that he is what a strong city placed upon the summit of a high hill is for its citizens. But as to that which follows: So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and magnify your Father which is in Heaven: Which of them can fulfil it even for a single day? Nay rather a certain thick mist and black night of their offences sit upon the whole island, so that it draws away almost everyone from the right path, and causes them to err by impassable and obstructed paths of crimes; by these men's works |219 the heavenly Father is so far from being praised that he is unbearably blasphemed. I could indeed wish that these testimonies of Holy Scripture inserted in this epistle, or to be inserted, as far as my mean power would be able, should all be interpreted in a historical or moral sense.
94. But in order not to extend this little work to too great a length for those men who despise, scorn and turn aside, not so much my words as God's, the passages have been, or will be, put together without any paraphrase. A little further on: For whosoever shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Again: Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgement ye judge it shall be judged to you. Who of you, I ask, will have regard to that which follows: But why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother s eye, and considerest not the beam in thine own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thine eye; and lo! the beam is in thine own eye. Or what follows: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you. This very frequently happens to you. Admonishing the people lest they be seduced by crafty teachers, such as you are, he said: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheets clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or jigs of thistles? Even so every good tree beareth good fruit, and a corrupt tree corrupt fruit. And below: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
95. What indeed shall become of you who, as the prophet says, cling to God with your lips only, not with your heart? But how do you fulfil what follows: Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, you who, on the contrary, go as wolves in a flock of sheep? Or that which is said by him: Be ye therefore wise as serpents |221 and simple as doves? Wise, of course, you are to bite anyone with deadly mouth, not to defend your head, which is Christ, by any exposure of your body, whom by all the endeavours of evil deeds you tread under foot (trample upon). Neither have you the simplicity of doves, nay rather being like the black crow, once out of the ark, that is the Church, you fly away, and having found the carrion of carnal pleasures you never fly back to it with a pure heart. But let us see other words also: Be not afraid of those which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Which of these have you done?----consider. Which of you would not the following testimony, spoken by the Lord to the apostles of depraved bishops, wound in the deep secrecy of his heart? Let them alone, they are blind guides of the blind. But if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit.
96. The people, certainly, whom you guide, or rather whom you deceive, have need of hearing. Listen to the words of the Lord when he speaks to the apostles and the multitudes, words which, as I hear, you are not ashamed to put forth publicly and frequently. The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; all things, therefore, whatsoever they say unto you, observe and do; but after their works do not, for they say and do not themselves. The teaching that is darkened with evil deeds is certainly full of peril, and useless for priests. Woe unto you, hypocrites, who shut the kingdom of heaven before men, but enter not in, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter. For you shall have penal suffering inflicted upon you, not only on account of such huge crimes of sins as you bear for future time, but also because of those who daily perish by your example. The blood of these men in the day of judgment shall be required at your hands. Observe what evil is set forth in the parable of the servant who said in his heart: My Lord tarrieth. Before this probably he had begun to beat his fellow servants, eating and drinking with the drunken. The Lord of that servant, it is said, shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall separate him----that is to say, from the holy priests----and place his portion with the hypocrites (with those, no doubt, who beneath a veil of priesthood conceal much wickedness); there, says he, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, unto men to whom it does frequently come in this life, because of the daily loss of sons brought upon the |223 mother church, or because of defections from the kingdom of heaven.
97. But let us see what a true disciple of Christ, Paul the teacher of the gentiles, utters in such a matter when he says in his first epistle----Paul, who should be imitated by every ecclesiastical teacher as he himself exhorts: Be ye imitators of me as I also am of Christ; because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God nor gave thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was blinded, saying that they were wise, they became fools. Although this appears to be said to the gentiles, observe it nevertheless, as it will apply fully to the priest together with the people (Christians) of this age. After a few words we read: Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever; for this cause God gave them up unto passions of vileness. Again: And even as they did not approve to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting; being fitted with all unrighteousness, wickedness, unchaste-ness, fornication, covctousness, maliciousness; being full of envy, murder----that is of the souls of the people----strife, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, hateful unto God, insolent, haughty, boastful, |225 inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; without understanding, covenant-breakers, without mercy, without natural affection: who knowing the justice of God did not understand that those who do such things are worthy of death.
98. Who of the men referred to above has in truth been without these all? For if there were he would be possibly included in the idea subjoined, where he says: Not only they that do them, but also consent with them that do, as undoubtedly not one of them is free from this evil. Below also: But thou after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works. And further: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
99. What severity therefore awaits those who not only do not do what ought to be fulfilled, and turn not away from things prohibited, but even fly away from the very reading of God's words, even when slightly uttered in their ears, as if it were a serpent of the fiercest kind?
But let us pass on to the following words: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died unto sin, how shall we any longer live therein? And after awhile: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Shall anguish? Shall persecution? Shall famine? Shall nakedness? Shall peril? Shall sword? Who of you, may I ask, has been touched by such a feeling in the depth of your heart? You who, far from labouring to further godliness, do even suffer much in order to act unjustly and offend Christ. Or by what follows: The night is far spent, but the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light; let us walk honourably as in the day; not in revellings and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonnesses, not in strife and jealousy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and have no care for the flesh in concupiscence.
100. Again, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians he says: As a wise master-builder I laid a foundation, another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which exists, even Christ Jesus. But if any man buildeth on this gold and silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble, every work shall be made manifest; for the day of |227 the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and each man's work of what sort it is the fire shall prove. If any man's work shall abide, which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss. Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy. Again: If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. And after awhile: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be new dough. How shall the old leaven, that is sin, be purged out which increases from day to day by every endeavour? Again: I have written to you by epistle to have no company with fornicators; not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; otherwise must ye needs go out of the world. But now I write unto you not to keep company if any man is named a brother and is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a man no, not to take food. But a thief does not condemn another thief for theft or highway robbery: has rather a liking for him, defends and loves him as a partner of his crime.
101. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians also he says: Therefore seeing, we have this ministry, even as we have obtained mercy, let us not faint, but let us renounce the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God, that is by evil example, and by flattery. In later passages he speaks thus of evil teachers: For such false apostles are deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also are transformed as angels of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
102. Listen also to what he says to the Ephesians. Are you ignorant that you are held guilty of something in this particular? This I say and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, alienated from the way of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts, who being without hope gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness and covetousness. Which of you has willingly done what follows: Wherefore be not foolish, but understanding what is the will of God, and be not drunken with wine in which is riot, but be filled with the Holy Spirit. |229
103 But listen also to that which he says to the Thessalonians: For neither were we at any time among you with word of flattery, as ye know, nor in occasion of covetousness; nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might be a burden as other apostles of Christ. But we became like little ones, babes among you, or as when a nurse cherisheth her little ones, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel only, but also our souls. If you preserve this feeling of the apostle, in all things, you know also how legitimately to sit in his chair. Or even what follows: For ye know what: precepts I gave unto you. This is the will of God, even your sancti-fication, that ye abstain from fornication, and each one of you know how to possess his own vessel in honour and sanctification, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; and let no man over-reach or wrong his brother in the matter, because the Lord is avenger in all these things. For God called us not unto unclean-ness but unto sanctification. Therefore he who despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God. Who also of you has circumspectly and carefully kept that which follows: Mortify therefore youri members which are upon earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil desire, on account of which cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of unbelief. For you see on account of what sins the wrath of God mostly rises.
104. Hear therefore what the same holy apostle predicted by the spirit of prophecy, respecting you and men like you, when plainly writing to Timothy. For know this, that in the last days dangerous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, covetous, boastful, haughty railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, criminal, without affection, without self-control, fierce, without goodness, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasures more than God; holding indeed a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From these also turn away, as the prophet says: I have hated the congregation of evil. doers, and will not sit with the wicked. After a while, mentioning |231 what we see on the increase in our time, he says: Ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. For as Iamnes and Mambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth; men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith; but they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also was.
105. He indicates plainly how priests should show themselves in their office, when writing as follows to Titus: Present thyself an example of good works, in doctrine, in incorruptness, in gravity, holding a sound word that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may fear, having no evil to say of us. Again, to Timothy: Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man warring for God entangleth himself in the affairs of the world, that he may please him to whom he hath approved himself. For also the man who contendeth in the game is not crowned unless he hath contended lawfully. These words are an exhortation to the good. But what the epistle likewise comprises is denunciation of bad men, such as you appear to all men of understanding. If any man teacheth differently and consenteth not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that doctrine which is according to godliness, he is haughty, knowing nothing, but weak about questions and disputes of words, whereof come envyings, strifes, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind, who are bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is gain. |239
Quotations from the Ordinal or Service Book used in the consecration of priests or ministers (deacons?).
106. But why will I use at considerable length the testimonies of opinion, though expressed by various persons and scattered here and there? Why will I be tossed on the waves in the despicable craft of my own intellect. I have thought it necessary to recur finally to those lessons which have been extracted from almost every befitting text of the Holy Scriptures, not only to be repeated for this present object, but also to be a confirmation of the rite by which the hands of priests or ministers are consecrated, and to |241 teach them continually not to abandon the commandments that are faithfully contained therein by falling off from the dignity of priest. It will also become more evident to all that eternal punishments await them, and the men who do not, according to their powers, fulfil the teaching and commandments of those lessons, are not priests or ministers of God.
Let us therefore hear what Peter, the prince of the apostles, has pointed out, respecting such a matter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his great mercy begat us again unto hope of life eternal by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away, undefiled, reserved in heaven for you, who are guarded by the power of God. Why indeed is such an inheritance foolishly defiled by you, which does not fall away like an earthly one, but is an inheritance that fades not away, and eternal.
After a while: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, hope perfectly for that grace which is brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Examine the depths of your heart, whether you are sober, and maintain perfectly the priestly grace that is to be searched in the revelation of the Lord. Again he says: As children of blessing, not fashioning yourselves to those former lusts of your ignorance, but according to him who hath called you to be holy, be ye holy in all manner of life. Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy. Who of you, I ask, has so followed holiness with all ardour of soul, that he hastened to fulfil this command to the utmost of his power? But let us see what is contained in the second lesson from the same apostle. Beloved, |243 he says, purify your souls unto obedience of faith, by the Spirit in love, in love of the brethren, loving one another from a true heart fervently, as born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and abideth for ever. |245
107. These, without doubt, are things commanded by the apostle, and were read on the day of your ordination that you might keep them inviolably, but in no wise have they been kept by you with judgment, nay, hardly have they been thought of or understood. Below, he says: Putting away therefore all wickedness and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and evil speakings, as new born babes, reasonable and without guile, desire milk that ye may grow thereby unto salvation, because the Lard is kind. Consider also whether these words be trodden under foot because heard by you too frequently with deaf ears. Again: But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for adoption, that ye may shew the excellencies of Him who hath called you out of darkness into that very wonderful light of His, Not only are the excellencies of God not shown through you, but even, by most corrupt examples, despised among all unbelievers. You heard, no doubt, on the same day, what was read in the lesson from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter, rising in the midst of the disciples, said: Men and brethren, it is needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas. And shortly after: This man obtained a field with the reward of iniquity. This you heard heedlessly, or rather with obtuse heart, as if it had not been read of you. Who of you, I ask, does not seek a field with the reward of iniquity? For Judas was wont to thieve coffers; you waste the church gifts and the souls of her sons. He went to the Jews to sell God; you to tyrants and your father the devil, to despise Christ. He held the Saviour of all as one to be sold for thirty pieces of silver; you for even a single penny. |247
108. Why ply more words? You find brought before you the example of Matthias for your confusion, the example also of the holy apostles. The lot fell upon him by the election or judgment of Christ, not by his own will, to which fact you have become blind, and do not see how far apart you are from his merits, while of your own accord you sink to the desire and disposition of Judas the traitor. It is plain, therefore, that the man who consciously from his heart calls you priest, is not an excellent Christian. I shall certainly speak out my feelings. My rebuke might certainly be milder, but what benefit is it merely to stroke softly with the hand, or besmear with ointment a wound which by now, horrible in its foulness, has need of cautery and the public remedy of fire? If, indeed, it could be healed in any manner, as the patient does not seek cure, and the doctor is withdrawing further and further from him. O ye enemies and not priests of God, veterans in wickednesses and not bishops, traitors not successors of the holy apostles and not ministers of Christ, you have certainly listened to the sound of the apostle Paul's words contained in the second lesson, but in no wise have you observed their admonitions and strength. After the fashion of idols, which see not, neither do they hear, you stood the same day at the altar, while then and always he was thundering at you. Brethren, he says, faithful is the word and worthy of all acceptation. He spoke of it as faithful and worthy; you have scorned it as not faithful and unworthy. If a man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. You seek the office of bishop chiefly because of covetousness, without the pretence of spiritual profit, and by no means regard good work as suitable thereto. Such a man must therefore be without reproach. Here there is, of a truth, more need of tears than of words, as if the apostle had said that he ought to be, beyond all men, without reproach: The husband of one wife. This saying is also so far despised with us, as if he were not heard to say the same, and were heard to say: the husband of wives. Temperate, sober-minded. Which of you has ever even wished this to dwell in him? Given to hospitality. If that has ever by accident come to pass, done rather for the sake of a breeze of popularity |249 than because it is commanded, it profits not, as our Lord the Saviour says thus: Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. A man equipped, not drunk with wine, no striker, but gentle, not contentious, not covetous. O fatal change! O awful treading under foot of the precepts of heaven! Do you not indefatigably seize your armour of deeds and words to assault, or rather to destroy, these precepts, for the preservation and strengthening of which, were it necessary, one ought to undergo suffering, and lay down one's life?
109. But let us also see the following words: Ruling his own house well, having his children in subjection with all chastity. The chastity of the fathers is therefore imperfect, if that of the children is not added to it. But what shall be where neither father nor son (depraved by the example of a wicked parent) is found to be chaste? But if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he show care of the church of God? Here are words that are proved by effects that admit of no doubt. Deacons in like manner must be chaste, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not following after filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. But let these first be proved, and thus let them serve if they are without reproach. With a shudder, indeed, at having to linger long at these things, I can with truth make one statement, that is, all these are changed into the contrary deeds, so that the clergy are (a confession I make not without sorrow of heart) unchaste, double-tongued, drunk, greedy of filthy lucre, having the faith, and, to speak with more truth, the want of faith, in an impure conscience, ministering not as men proved good in work, but as known beforehand in evil work, and, though with innumerable charges of crime, admitted to the sacred ministry. You heard also on that day, when it was far worthier and far more right for you to be led to prison or the scaffold for punishment than to the priesthood, that as the Lord asked whom the disciples thought him to be, Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God; and that the Lord for such a confession said! Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Thus Peter, taught by God the Father, rightly confesses Christ; but you, instructed by your father the devil, iniquitously deny the Saviour by evil deeds. To the true priest it is said: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church. You, however, are likened unto a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. But we must observe that the Lord does not join in work with the foolish, in building a |251 house upon the changing inconstancy of sand, according to that saying: They have made unto themselves kings and not by me. Similarly, what follows gives the same note when it says: And the gates of hell shall not prevail, whereby sins are understood. Of your doomed building, what is announced? The floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof. To Peter and his successors the Lord says: And unto thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; but to you: I know you not, depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, so that, separated with the goats of the left hand, ye go to everlasting fire. To every holy priest it is also promised: And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven. But how do you loose anything so that it shall be loosed in heaven also, when, because of crimes, you are severed from heaven and fettered by bands of monstrous sins, as Solomon also says: Each one is holden with the cords of his own sins? With what reason shall you bind on earth anything that maybe, in any extraordinary degree, bound, besides your own selves, who, bound to iniquities, are so held in this world, that in no wise do you ascend to heaven, but, unless turned to the Lord in this life, are descending to the unhappy prison of hell?
110. And let no one of the priests flatter himself solely on his consciousness of a pure body, because the souls of those over whom he rules, if any one of them perish through his ignorance, or slothfulness, or flattery, shall be asked at the hands of the same in the day of judgment, as their murderer. Because the death which is inflicted by a good man is not milder than that caused by a wicked man. Otherwise the Apostle would not have said, in leaving a kind of paternal legacy to his successors: I am clean from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole mystery of God. Seeing that you are intoxicated by the habit and dense mass of your sins, and incessantly overwhelmed as if by waves of crimes heaped on crimes rushing upon you, seek with all effort of soul the one plank of penance, as if after shipwreck, on which you may escape to the land of the living. In this way the wrath of the Lord may be averted from you, inasmuch as He mercifully says: I wish not the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live.
May the almighty God of all consolation and mercy Himself preserve His very few good pastors from all evil, and make them citizens of His city, the heavenly Jerusalem (the common |252 enemy being subdued), that is, of the assembly of all saints----Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[Selected footnotes renumbered and placed at the end]
1. 2 Gildas regards his work as a "debt" contracted long ago in answer to the pious entreaties of his friends: it is also a "promise" made ten years back. Such a statement would warrant us in regarding the strictures of the book as sentiments entertained by a large circle of British men in the sixth century; the numerous suggestions also found in the work as to the ideas held by the writer respecting the due performance of duties by ministers of the church, and his estimate of those found wanting, were in no way peculiar to himself. He represents feelings and ideas common to him and many of his contemporaries.
2. 3 Tironibus. The word tirones does not seem in Gildas to carry the meaning of "young." Though ordinarily denoting a young soldier, a recruit, or in any profession " non aetate sed usu forensi atque exercitatione tironem," yet Jerome in his monastic writings seems to have given it the meaning of anyone who has become a follower of Christ. In his Vita Hilarion., 5, he mentions tirunculos Christi apparently in this meaning. Neither Forcellini nor Du Cange renders any help here, unless it be where the latter gives instances of a castellanus or a castri vassallus being called tyro. In c. 73 the word is applied to the writers of the New Testament or to the apostles and martyrs mentioned in the New Testament: in c. 12, omnes Christi tirones is certainly equivalent to "all Christians." Tiro also = catechumenus.
3. 1 The list of subjects of which Gildas intends to give a brief account, introductory to his more serious task, may be classified under four heads:----
(1) Britain itself; the weak unfaithfulness of its inhabitants towards the Romans leading to subjection and punishment; i.e., a geographical description of Britain; an account of the stubbornness of its people, their subjection, the rebellion, the second subjection and hard service. Here we have the relation of Britain to Rome only, Rome being God's avenger.
(2) An account of the rise of the Christian religion; persecution (in the world at large and in Britain), martyrs, heresies.
(3) Tyrants, whose abandonment of the island left it open to the attack of the "two nations"; defence (with the aid of a Roman legion); devastation, second revenge (this time again successful by Roman aid); third devastation, famine, letter to Aetius, victory, crimes. Gildas begins his account of "the two nations," Scots and Picts, not at the point when their ravages began, but at a juncture which makes the story a telling one for his purpose: that is, when, owing to the action of the tyrannus Maximus, the country was left defenceless against these barbarians. On Aetius, see c. 20.
(4) The same enemies suddenly announced, the plague, the counsel entertained by the Britons to invite the Saxons, etc. This last part of the narrative relates the struggles of the Britons with the Saxons, beginning again not with the earliest attacks of these barbarians, but with a significant policy which changed the whole attitude of affairs. The narrative ends with victory and peace. (See Introduction).
It would be well to keep in mind that (1) is a period of revolt, (3) of inroad. (See Additional Note at end of c. 18).
4. 1 Gildas is frequently said to have derived his geographical details from Orosius (Hist., i, 2, 77), but what the Spanish presbyter wrote may have been a common-place in Gaul and Britain by the time of Gildas, and even from other sources. Pliny gives the same length and breadth: insula habet in longo milia passuum DCCC, in lato milia CC. The words of Orosius run thus: Britannia oceani insula per longum in boream extenditur; a meridie Gallias habet.... haec insula habet in longo milio passuum DCCC, in lato CC; the measurements, we see, are stated word for word the same as by Pliny. Orosius says, "towards the north" as to the position of the island, in which he is followed by Gildas, though in poetic language; but Gildas has the further detail that with respect to the continent Britain lies towards the west-north-west and the west (circium occidentemque versus). The two writers may well be independent of one another. In the remainder of this description, Gildas draws upon his own personal acquaintance with his native island, lingering over each detail, though in faulty style. On the geography of Britain and Ireland in ancient writers, see Bunbury, History of Ancient Geography, vol. i, p. 584, etc.
5. 2 Twenty-eight cities. Suetonius, in Vesp. 4, mentions that there were twenty cities in Britain. It is difficult to define the special character of the towns and town population that had grown up in Britain under Roman rule. From the material supplied in Hübner's Corpus Inscr. Lat., vol. vii, and a few other sources, it may be concluded that besides the great military posts the civil development of Britain was somewhat insignificant. Gildas informs us that the wall (of Hadrian) ran "between cities" (inter urbes, quae ibidem forte ob metum hostium collocatae fuerant). There were no doubt garrison towns where the auxiliary cohorts were stationed: there were also, Eburacum, where the Vlth legion was fixed; Deva, with the XXth; and Isca, with the IInd Augusta. Besides these military stations, though Gildas speaks of cunctae coloniae and coloni in c. 24, not more than four are known that were, strictly speaking, coloniae, viz., Eburacum, Camulodunum, Glevum, Lindum. Many small towns are named, especially towards the south and south-east; but Wales, in Hübner's map of places yielding inscriptions, is almost a blank. The single municipium known, Verulamium, is accidentally mentioned by Gildas, as well as Caerlleon (i.e., Caer legion = Legionum urbs). The Historia Britonum gives a list of these twenty-eight, which Zimmer argues must have been drawn up some time before A.D. 796 (Nennius, Vindicatus, pp. 108-110). He notices the intervocalic "g" in Cair Legion, Cair Segeint, Cair Guorthigirn.
6. a We find a free rendering into Welsh of several portions of Gildas in Ystorya Brenhined y Brytanycit, by Geoffrey of Monmouth (+ A.D. 1154). The Welsh quotations are from the edition of The Bruts, by Mr. Gwenogfryn Evans; the very slight variations made will explain themselves as simply intended to render the passages easier to read. [omitted]
7. 1 Civibus. The term cives, citizens of the Roman Empire, is throughout employed by Gildas to designate his countrymen. By this character they are, in his eyes, to be distinguished from the "barbarians."
8. 2 Gildas, in his narrative, intends to omit all reference to four subjects, (1) He will not treat of the pre-Christian beliefs which the Britons had in common with the whole human race; he naturally calls them "errors." (2) The forms of old idolatry, remains of which still survived "inside and outside the deserted walls" of temples, will not be recounted. (3) Superstitious honours paid to mountains, valleys and rivers, he will not exclaim against. (4) He will be silent respecting the old years of tyrants, evidently having his eye particularly on Maximus, A.D. 383-388.
His attempt will be to narrate the evils which Britain suffered herself and those which she inflicted on others "during the times of the Roman emperors." These limitations are instructive, inasmuch as they show how the narrative itself is ruled by the spirit of the whole "Epistle."
9. 3 Portenta. Vol. vii of Hübner's Corpus Inscr. Lat. bears ample evidence that the worship, e.g., of Mithra, had spread in Britain, the monuments of which were mainly erected by Roman officers. Gildas in the word portenta seems to refer to such remains of oriental cults. Cf. Jerome, Ep., 107, 2: nonne specum Mithrae et omnia portentosa simulacra quibus Corax, Nymphus, Miles, Leo, Perses, Helios, Dromo, Pater initiantur.
10. 4 Porphyrius rabidus orientalis adversus ecclesiam canis. Porphyry (233-304) is called orientalis as a Greek writer; besides other (philosophical) works he wrote also a work in xv Books "Against the Christians." [...] He is several times named by Jerome, always with Celsus and Julian, as an opponent of Christianity, e.g., Ep. 57; but in the Preface to the De Viris Illustribus, we find the very appellation "rabid dog" applied in the plural to Celsus, Porphyry and Julian. Discant igitur Celsus, Porphyrius, Iulianus rabidi adversus Christum canes.
In Ep. 133, Jerome, while answering the Definitiones et Syllogismi of Coelestius (the Irish companion of Pelagius), says: "Lastly (an objection which your friend Porphyry is wont to make against us), what reason is there that the compassionate and merciful God has suffered whole nations, from Adam to Moses and from Moses until the advent of Christ, to perish through ignorance of the Law and His Commandments? For neither Britain, a province fertile in tyrants, nor the people of Ireland .... knew Moses and the prophets (Neque enim Britannia fertilis provincia tyrannum et Scoticae gentes ., . .)." Jerome probably intends a thrust at the Briton (?) Pelagius, and Coelestius the Irishman; but Gildas has evidently fallen into the error of ascribing the words of Jerome himself to Porphyry. The Benedictine editors seem also to take this view, that Porphyry is only credited with the character of the objection. The quotation as it is, together with the words which introduce it, allows us to conclude that Gildas was conversant with the writings of Jerome, and in particular with such as treat of the doctrines of Pelagius, though the latter is not mentioned by him. We cannot, therefore, argue from his silence that he "knew nothing" of the Pelagian heresy.
11. 1 The first Parthian peace. There appears to be some confusion in the mind of Gildas here: the passage will bear a good meaning, if understood of the peace made shortly after the death of Trajan, A.D. 117; therefore the expedition to Britain mentioned by Gildas here is that under Hadrian, who in A.D. 122 built the great wall called after him. Why does Gildas select this particular time? The answer may be found in the word "unfaithful;" after the great advances and improvements made under Agricola (78-85), which, no doubt, ceased not with his abrupt departure, the Britons soon show themselves restless under Roman rule. This, to the mind of Gildas, proved them to be an "unfaithful people," and the record of their swift subjection under such a character serves well the special purpose of his work. See Additional Note, c. 18.
12. 1 Leaena dolosa. These words have been frequently understood as referring to Boudicca's revolt against Suetonius Paulinus, when the latter was in Anglesey, A.D. 62, but the date of the "First Parthian Peace" makes this impossible. Zimmer is of opinion that the words imply a reminiscence of that vassal queen. This, again, is not very probable, because Gildas shows a fondness elsewhere for the term "lioness," as applied to a country: in c. 23 leaena barbara stands for the home of the Saxon hordes, and in c. 27 for the kingdom of Damnonia. It is difficult to fix the date of this second expedition of the Romans against Britain. Was it that of Antoninus Pius, who in 143 built the second wall----the vallum of turf----between Clyde and Forth, or the expedition of Septimius Severus in 193? Gildas' account is extremely vague; yet, as he mentions no other visit of Roman forces until the end of the fourth century, and implies extensive provisions for the consolidation of the Roman power in the island, it is not improbable that he has the successful work of Severus in his mind.
A difficulty arises with the last sentence of c. 7. Mr. Rhys (Celtic Britain, p. 19) concludes that British coinage came to an end about the time of Claudius (died A.D. 54), or soon after 69; and in the Monumenta Hist. Brit., p. clii, we read: "After the expedition of Claudius and his establishment of the Roman power in Britain, the Britons discontinued the art of coining." Reference is made there, in a note, to the present passage of Gildas as " confirming this opinion." Such confirmation is not possible if the view taken here be correct, i.e., that Gildas has selected the expedition of Hadrian as his starting-point, unless Gildas is erroneously ascribing to the time of Severus what had already taken place in the time of Claudius. The work of Severus in Britain was, however, far more effective than anything that could be accomplished with the limited occupation secured under Claudius. Moreover, while it was quite natural that Roman coins should be current in Britain from an early period, the policy of forbidding British coinage was barely possible until the time of Severus, and it is something of this kind that is implied in the words of Gildas. It is curious that the name of no emperor later than Constans (A.D. 337-350) is found on inscriptions in Britain.
13. Vergilius, Aen. ii, 120.
14. 1 If we read this section with care we find that Gildas is not referring to the introduction of Christianity into Britain; his meaning seems to be that the sun rose for Britain as for the whole world by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is evidently taking his information (ut scimus) from the Latin version of Eusebius' Chronicon. This reads: "When Pilate sent information to Tiberius of the doctrine of the Christians, Tiberius referred it to the Senate, so that it should be received among the other sacred records. But when it was decided by the city fathers that the Christians should be expelled from Rome, Tiberius in an edict threatened the accusers of the Christians with death. Tertullian writes so in his Apologeticus" (Pilato de Christianorum dogmate ad Tiberium referente Tiberius retulit ad senatum, ut inter cetera sacra reciperetur. Verum cum ex consulto patrum Christianos eliminari Urbe placuisset, Tiberius per edictum accusatoribus Christianorum comminatus est mortem. Scribit Tertullianus in Apologetico. An. Abr. 2053.) Eus. Chron., Schöne, ii, p. 151. Tert., Apol. 5.
15. 2 Quae, licet ab incolis tepide suscepta sunt. This is all that Gildas says respecting the evangelisation of Britain. Whether he knew more as to the first preachers of Christianity it is impossible to tell, but his words imply that its spread among the native population (incolae) of the island was exceedingly slow: they received it "coldly." Among Roman officials and foreign immigrants it may have spread early, so that the few remains which now attest an early Christian church in Britain belong to them, and are found in the parts most thoroughly Romanised. According to the evidence furnished by Hübner's seventh volume of Latin inscriptions, we gather that heathenism of various types continued long, even among these provincials. Mithra and Cybele, Tyrian Hercules and Phoenician Astarte, had their worshippers: at York there was a temple to Serapis, and at Caerlleon, in South Wales, the Roman Legate, Postumius Varus, restores a temple of Diana late in the third century, that is, not very long before that Council of Aries (314) which we know so well. Christian inscriptions are more numerous in Wales than in any other part of Britain, yet neither there nor in the other parts do they indicate a date earlier than the middle of the fifth century. Of Britain, as well as of Gaul, the words of M. le Blanc are true, that the legendary stories of a conversion "by explosion" have no evidence whatever in their favour. "L'ecole historique n'admet point chez nous un Christianisme fait, comme on 1'a dit, par explosion" (Preface, xli, Insc. Chretiennes de la Gaule). A solid historic truth lies in that curt tepide of Gildas.
16. 3 Novennem, the nine years' persecution. The meaning to be attached to this expression may be gained from c. 12, "when ten years had not yet been com-pleted." Eusebius speaks of the persecution as having lasted ten years (... H. E., viii, 15), yet both numbers admit of ready explanation. The first Edict of Diocletian, of which Gildas gives the first and second provisions, was issued in February 303, and the Edict of Milan, terminating state persecution of Christianity, appeared towards the end of 312. The period was in this way a good deal more than nine years, though not quite ten. Gildas seems to be simply copying or enumerating, in order, the provisions of Diocletian's Edicts as stated in Rufinus' version of the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. By the first provision of Edict I, the churches were to be levelled to the ground; by the second, the Scriptures were to be burnt; another provision, involving degradation, finds no mention in this narrative of Gildas. Edict II published not long after, commanded all church officers to be imprisoned without even the option of recantation. Edict III (or so-called Edict) again soon followed, leading to the application of torture, which too often resulted in death, though death hitherto had not been enjoined as a punishment. With Edict IV, in 304, the persecution reached its fiercest point by reproducing the former measures of Decius: commanding all men to offer sacrifice and libations to heathen deities, it brought in its train the atrocities described by Eusebius, and chronicled in so many Acta Martyrum. An African writer of the fourth century describes the persecution in words that remind us of Gildas here: "It made some martyrs, others confessors; some it demeaned in a calamitous death; it spared only those who succeeded in hiding themselves" (Optatus, De Schism. Donat., i, 13).
17. 1 Ecclesiastica historia narrat. Under this term we are to understand the Latin version of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica, by Rufinus. But the mention of "ecclesiastical history" suggests the very question that has been asked by several. Scholl was probably the first to suggest that Gildas is here adopting the description he found in Eusebius of the Diocletian persecution, and applying the same to Britain. But this chapter is in fact not a description of persecution in Britain; it rather describes what took place "over the whole world" (per totum mundum) and as such is a resume of Book VIII in Eusebius' History. The actual course of events is followed by Gildas, just as the edicts succeeded each other, and as described by Eusebius in the second chapter of the book named----the ruin of churches, burning of Scriptures, slaughter of Christians. Further, when the final step was taken by the emperors in the issue of the fourth Edict, the real object had become (as here stated by Gildas) the extermination of Christianity. It is hardly just to say: "Gildas' general statement respecting this persecution rests (as usual with him) upon an unauthorised transference to the particular case of Britain of the language of Eusebius (H. E., viii, 2) relating to the persecution in general, and is conclusively contradicted by Eusebius himself and by Sozomen and Lactantius" (Haddan and Stubbs, Councils, i, p. 6, n.). The last italics are mine: but this is what Gildas does not do in this part; he is simply summarising what "Ecclesiastica Historia" narrates respecting the church in general. His definite references to Britain are moderate. (Vide next note.)
Besides the places named in Eusebius, one might consult the De Morte Persecutorum of Lactantius; and, in addition to the notes of Heinichen (pp. 381, 405) on the former, Mason on The Persecution of Diocletian, chs. v and vi, and the notes in McGiffert's translation of Eusebius, pp. 325, 397.
18. 2 Ut conicimus. These words imply that Gildas had no definite information respecting the exact time of the martyrdoms mentioned in this section. The reading of Codex X, ut cognoscimus, is evidently a gloss, echoing the fixed tradition of the copyist's own time. That the martyrdom of St. Alban took place during the Diocletian persecution is, therefore, a guess on the part of Gildas. He evidently found the narrative given here in some lost Acta or Passio, and we find that Beda has added other details from some second Acta also lost. Now, many of these acts of martyrdom are found void of all details as to time and place, as, for instance, those condemned by the famous Decretum of Pope Gelasius in 496 (Hefele, ii, 618); if such a one had come into the hands of Gildas, it was natural that he should conjecture the events there narrated to have taken place in the last great persecution. One is tempted also to notice a difference of reading found here in some codices, as possibly recording a different, if not the original, tradition; these are, uellonnensis E, uellamien-scm C, uellomiensem D. Nevertheless, it is, perhaps, safest to conclude that Gildas found Verulamium fixed in tradition as the place of suffering of a martyr bearing the name Albanus, though it is not named in the account given by the author of the Life of Germanus of a visit paid by the Gallic bishops Germanus and Lupus (A.D. 429) to the tomb of Alban: "The priests," we read, "sought the blessed martyr Albanus in order to render thanks, by his mediation, to God; where Germanus, having with him relics of all the apostles and of different martyrs, offered prayer, and commanded the grave to be opened in order to place there the precious gifts." (V. Germ., i, 25.) We can thus say that Albanus was known and revered as a martyr c. 429, while the place of his martyrdom appears for the first time in this chapter of Gildas' work. In the edition of Jerome's Martyrology, lately prepared by De Rossi and Duchesne (for Aa. Ss., Nov.,Tom. ii) one codex, the Cod. Bern. (c. A.D. 770), records "in Britain was Albinus martyr, along with others, 889 in number, placed in the list of those whose names are written in the book of life." We are informed in the Prolegomena of several indications, that the exemplar from which this MS. was copied had been in the possession of, or written by, someone connected with Ireland. If so, we find in this 889 about the earliest example of the amplification which the words of Gildas underwent at the hands of later writers. Its exaggeration raises the question whether persecution was possible in Britain, inasmuch as it belonged to the part of the Empire assigned to Constantius, as Caesar of the West or Gaul. It has been held that Gildas is contradicted by Eusebius and Lactantius, who are understood as asserting that Constantius had no part in the persecution (Eus., H. E., viii, 13, 13: Vita Const., I, 3. 17: Lact. De Morte Pers., xv: Letter of Donatist bishops to Constantine in Optat. De Schism. Don., i, 22). In his anxiety to exonerate the father of Constantine the Great, Eusebius maybe regarded as having gone too far when he said that he destroyed none of the church buildings, .... Lactantius expressly states that the churches, as mere walls which could be restored, were pulled down by him, but that he kept intact and safe the true temple of God, that is, the human body. Nam Constantius, ne dissentire a maiorum praeceptis videratur, conventicula, id est parietes qui restitui poterant, dirui passus est; verum autem dei templum, quod est in hominibus, incolume servavit. It must be remembered that Constantius was only Caesar of the "parts beyond the Alps," and that he did not visit Britain until A.D. 306, the year of his death at York. The Caesar's power was limited, which would render the name of Maximian as a rabid persecutor, especially after the fourth Edict of 304, the more potent name with many governors and magistrates. Constantius was bound to conform to the policy of the Augusti in carrying out edicts which bore his own name as well as theirs. When, therefore, it is known that many martyrdoms did take place in Spain, though that country belonged to Constantius, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Britain had witness of the same sufferings, especially before 306, when he himself arrived in the island. Some confirmation of this view is afforded by the numerous place-names beginning with Merthir, or Merthyr, found in parts of Glamorgan, and more sparsely in Monmouth and Brecknock. Vide Additional Note after c. 26.
19. 1 Aaron et Iulium Legionum urbis cives. Of these two martyrs nothing more is known than is told us here by Gildas. Mason, in The Persecution of Diocletian, p. 146, calls them "two clergymen of Caerleon," an epithet the justice of which can neither be proved nor disproved. Dr. Plummer (vol. ii, p. 20) in his Notes on Beda, says that "the story of Aaron and Julius must be considered extremely doubtful," and refers us to Haddan and Stubbs, i, 6, for confirmation. One finds it difficult to understand why this story must be doubted. There must have been a tradition to this effect at Caerlleon in the sixth century, and in the Book of Llandav we find evidence of the very local tradition that has been said to be wanting. The Index of that book mentions about eighteen place-names beginning with Merthir (modern Welsh, Merthyr), one of which is Merthir lun (Iulli) et Aaron. A merthyr means, as its Latin original martyrium denotes, "place of martyr or martyrs," that is, a church built in memory of a martyr, and generally over his grave. The word is found in Jerome's Chronicon: Cuius industria in Hierosol. martyrium extructum est; it is used also by Adamnan in his De Locis Sacris: inter illam quoque Golgotham basilicam et martyrium, i, 8. Du Cange quotes Isidore, xv, 9: Martyrium, locus martyrum, Graeca derivatione, eo quod in memoriam martyris sit construction, vel quod sepulcra sanctorum ibi sunt martyrum (Greek, to_ martu&rion). We can hardly doubt that such a name as Merthyr, from martyrium, is as old as llan, or cil, or disert, if not indeed older. This at once carries it beyond the sixth century. Now the boundary of this particular merthir is: "The head of the dyke on the Usk; along the dyke to the breast of the hill, along the dyke to the source of Nant Merthyr, that is Amir" (pp. 225, 226, 377). Here we have a merthyr of Julius and Aaron in the neighbourhood of Caerlleon. A grave objection may meet us here; many of the persons whose merthyr survives as a place-name belong to the mythical progeny of Brychan, killed, it is said, by the "pagan Saxons." These shadowy beings cannot disturb the main argument.
20. 2 There is a striking resemblance between Gildas' way of describing the double crime of Maximus and the language of Sulpicius Severus in his Vita Martini. It seems impossible that it could be accidental. St. Martin had been approached by Maximus with great respect; "though repeatedly invited to his table he absented himself, saying that he could not partake of his table qui imperatores unum regno, alterum vita expulisset (V. M., 20, 2). Orosius also describes the double atrocity, but in words that show no close similarity to those of Gildas: " Ubi Gratianum Augustum subita incursione perterritum . . . dolis circumventum interfecit, fratremque eius Valentinianum Augustum Italia expulisset" (Hist., vii, 34, 10).
21. 1 The Scoti came from the North West (a circione). This would fit well with the explanation that at this time they had made no fixed settlements in the land subsequently called after them Scotland. Until the tenth century, Scoti or Scotti, and Scotia or Scottia, in Latin writers, mean respectively Irishmen and Ireland: in c. 21 Gildas calls them grassatores Hiberni. After the Dalriad migration of Irish settlers in Cantyre and the island of Islay, about A.D. 502, there were Scoti "qui Britanniam inhabitant," as Beda could write in Book I of his History; but at the time to which Gildas refers any occupation that might have taken place was merely migratory. The first mention of Picts, by the Panegyricus of A.D. 292, refers also to Hiberni. We find an irruption of Scots and Picts (Scottorum Pictorumque gentium ferarum excursus) first mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, Book xx, i, I, while writing of Julian's activity in Gaul (A.D. 360). Four years later, he relates, the Picti, Saxones, Scotti, and Atacotti, were harassing the country (xxvi, 4, 5). It is not strange, therefore, when contingents from over the seas had been, thus so long, abetting the northern barbarians, that Gildas should speak of transmarinae gentes, though the Picts did not come under that designation. Beda, in copying Gildas, gives an explanation of the term: "we say transmarinae gentes, not because they were outside Britain, but because they were remote with respect to the Britons, and two bays intervened" (H. E., i, 12). Plummer pronounces this to be a very forced gloss (vol. ii, p. 23); cf. also the words of c. 17, which tell us that they were driven over seas by the Roman troops: trans maria fugaverunt. The adverb, primtim, has been understood as implying that this rush of Scots and Picts, about A.D. 383, was their first inroad into Britain. Gildas is not guilty of such an error, because primum must be taken as qualifying calcabilis. Previous to the departure of Maximus, carrying the Roman army with him to the continent, the barbarians had always found a Roman force to contend with: now, "for the first time" the country is open (calcabilis) to their attack.
22. 2 Legio. Maximus crossed over to Gaul in 383, and after the murder of Gratian was unwillingly acknowledged Emperor by Theodosius and Valentinian. When Valentinian fled, the usurper approached Italy, being at Aquileia in September or October 387, and at Rome early in 388. His death took place in the summer of that year, so that it was impossible for any Roman armament to help the Britons in repelling the barbarian marauders before 388 or 389. . The "many years" (multos stupet gemitque annos) of suffering, to which Gildas alludes in the previous section, are explained by this fact. We know also that the xxth legion, stationed at Chester, was withdrawn by Stilicho in 402 or 403; and from Claudian's De Bella Getico (vv. 416-418), that it had previously served against the Picts and Scots. This legion may, therefore, have been part of the force employed in the attack now mentioned.
23. 1 Cespitibus. Two walls are mentioned by Gildas, one of turf and another of stone. Hadrian (cf. c. 17), whose policy seems everywhere to have been a policy of caution, built a wall in A.D. 122, along the more southern line from the Tyne to the Solway. It was, then or afterwards (by Severus?), made of stone, and formed the practical frontier of the province. In 143 the turf wall (murus cespiticius) of Antoninus Pius was constructed from Clyde to Forth. Now the Welsh "Brut" of Geoffrey of Monmouth understands the construction of the stone wall mentioned in c. 17 as the rebuilding of Hadrian's wall, or, as it is called there the wall of Severus. The earthen wall, which Gildas in this section describes as being built, may, therefore, naturally be regarded as the murus cespiticius of Antoninus Pius repaired or rebuilt. The Romans now drive the barbarians to the more northern line, commanding the Britons to reconstruct the no-doubt ruinous rampart: at a later period (c. 17), they are satisfied with the safer boundary between Tyne and Solway.
24. 3 This second expedition of the Romans against the Scots and Picts must have taken place before A.D. 407, in which year the tyrannus or usurper, Constantine, left Britain for Gaul. We are able to fix the possible time for the two expeditions. No forces could be spared during the five years' reign of Maximus (383-388), nor during the struggles of Constantine (407-411): we are thus limited to a period of about eighteen years, 389-407. The arrangements for defence described in the next section may have been Constantine's plans and efforts to make Britain secure in his rear. His departure proved to be the final abandonment of Britain by the Empire.
25. 1 Gurgite moles, cf. Verg. Aen., ii, 427: Oppositasque evicit gurgite moles.
26. 2 Romano stigmata: a stigma (sti/gma) was a brand impressed upon slaves and artisans, as a mark of ownership, or for identification. Stigmata, hoc est nota publica, fabricensium brachiis, ad invitationem tironum, infligatur, ut hoc modo saltem possint latitantes agnosci. Cod. Theod. x, 22, 4. In the present passage the marks or emblems of Roman power would be the disasters inflicted upon the barbarians, and these again were visible in the Roman army and navy, as the means of effecting them. It is, however, possible that Gildas is using the word, in a sense not found elsewhere, for the Roman standards. Scholl includes stigma in his list of words found only in Gildas, or found very rarely.
27. 3 Murum non ut alterum. The wall of Hadrian rebuilt of stone. Vide note, p. 34. Gildas speaks of two walls being built, one of turf, the other of stone: in fact, the two walls had been so constructed from the first, the stone wall in A.D. 122, the turf in A.D. 143, so that his words can imply no more than the repairing of them, though the repairs needed, after so many years of neglect and ruin, must have been extensive in the extreme.
ADDITIONAL NOTE TO CC. 5-7, 13-18.
Gildas in these chapters refers to Roman interference as exercised on four different occasions. Unless we condemn the whole narrative as confused and undeserving of credit, it may be well to endeavour to find some points in which the account given of Roman visits touches well ascertained facts of history. Such an enquiry will, I believe, yield some results not devoid of interest.
1. Remembering that the leading purpose of this work was to bring about a reformation of morals in Church and State, that it is in fact a Sermon, or a "Tract for the Times," we must recognise that the writer is in no way bound to present his facts in due order of occurrence. Even more may be said: he is not bound to narrate events which, because of their high importance in fashioning subsequent events, have a special claim upon a historian. He is free, and in a way would be wise, to choose those that have a special bearing upon the message he brings to the notice of his readers. This is exactly what Gildas seems to me to have done: in no way does he call this part "a history;" his intention is simply to say "a few things" respecting the points named by him, before fulfilling his solemn promise (ante promisum Deo volente pauca .... dicere conamur).
The first visit or expedition of the Romans to Britain is placed by him "after the first peace with the Parthians." The empire of the world had been won, and an almost universal peace had come to pass (c. 5). Gildas may have read the Third Book of Orosius' Historiae, where we find similar mention of a Parthian peace (post Parthicam pacem), followed by a general cessation of war, and obedience to Roman law. This was in B.C. 20 under Augustus, after the advance of Tiberius Nero into Armenia. (A full account is given in Merivale's Rome under the Emperors, vol. iv, p. 173.) Orosius relates these events in order to show that the light of Christianity came into the world at the same time (quodsi etiam, cum imperante Caesare ista proucnerint, in ipso imperioCaesaris inluxisse ortum in hoc mundo Domini nostri Jesu Christi liquidissima probatione manifestum est.----Hist., iii, 5, 8). Gildas also introduces the rise of Christianity, but after relating the events of two Roman expeditions to Britain.
Now, by many writers, both these have been understood as the expeditions of Julius Caesar (B.C. 55, 54). The Preface, for instance, to the Mon. Hist. Britannica, speaking of the narrative of Gildas, says: " It may be divided into two periods; the former extends from the first invasion of Britain by the Romans to the revolt of Maximus at the close of the fourth century, and the latter from the revolt of Maxirnus to the author's own time." I find it very difficult to accept this view. In any way some confusion in the mind of Gildas may be assumed, who, we again remind ourselves is writing not with a historian's interest in facts as such, but with a reformer's bent to find a moral purpose in them. He is, however, definite in certain limits he sets to himself. " Those evils only will I attempt to make public which the island has both suffered and inflicted upon other and distant citizens, in the times of the Roman Emperors" (c. 4). The Parthian peace of which Orosius speaks was secured under Augustus, many years after the death of Julius Caesar, therefore the first expedition described by Gildas, if after this Parthian truce and the subsequent universal peace, cannot be the attempted, though barely successful, conquest of Britain by Caesar. The expedition, according to Gildas, is due to the stubbornness (contumacia) of an unfaithful people (infidelem populum), that is, it was an expedition to punish not to conquer. Such a one could only take place " under the Roman Emperors" after the ten years' work of conquest and settlement during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 43-53). The vigorous measures under Vespasian's generals," particularly Agricola, were intended to advance the Roman occupation, though Agricola, it is well khown, succeeded in attaining larger and more permanent results. These, also, must precede the events narrated by Gildas.
We, therefore, look out for " a peace with the Parthians," followed by a punitive expedition to Britain, and find the former in the peace made by Hadrian, shortly after the death of Trajan, A.D. 117, the latter in the expedition of Hadrian. Hadrian's policy of caution aimed at the maintenance of peace by restricting warlike operations " Adeptus imperium . . . tenendae per orbem terrarum paci operam intendit." This is said by Aelius Spartianus, who in mentioning the difficulties adds further: " Britanni teneri sub Romana ditione non poterant." It was then that the great wall from Tyne to Solway was built (A.D. 122). " Under Hadrian," we read in Mommsen's work: " A severe disaster occurred here, to all appearance a sudden attack on the camp of Eburacum, and the annihilation of the legion stationed there, the same gth legion which had fought so unsuccessfully in the war with Boudicca. Probably this was occasioned, not by a hostile inroad, but by a revolt of the Northern tribes that passed as subjects of the empire, especially of the Brigantes. With this we have to connect the fact that the wall of Hadrian presents a front towards the south as well as towards the north; evidently it was destined also for the purpose of keeping in check the superficially subdued North of England (The Provinces, i, iSS)." It may not be wrong to conclude that Gildas, with some confusion in that word "first Parthian peace," has selected this instance, first of all, to point his moral of "evils suffered" for "evils inflicted" by an "unfaithful people" (A.D. 122-124).
2. At what time must we place the second expedition? Unfortunately it is only described in high-flowing language, almost turgid, void of all details: no name or date is supplied us. The first impression is that it occurred not long after troops had been withdrawn owing to the heavy burden of maintaining them. If so, then we may regard this second visit of the Romans as that which was made under Pius Antoninus to punish renewed conflicts on the part of the Brigantes. At that time, the Roman boundary was extended further north and fixed, though only for a time, by the turf wall built between Clyde and Forth (A.D. 143). But there seem to have been serious disturbances in Roman Britain, as well as renewed attacks by the Caledonians and Maeatae, so that Severus found himself led to interfere by an expedition in 209, during the operations of which he died at York in 211. Either of these two visits of Roman forces would fit the description given by Gildas, while the fact that no further troubles of any kind are mentioned until the end of the fourth century, may incline us to decide in favour of the expedition of Severus.
3. There is a long interval from 122 or 209 to 383, of which not a word is said by Gildas. He then introduces Maximus, the " tyrannus" or usurper, and makes his first mention of the marauding incursions of the Picts and Scots. However, I believe a good reason for this silence is not far to seek. It has struck many as strange that this historiographus, as he is called by the mediaeval writers, should not have said a word about Constantius Chlorus and his son Constantine embarking together from Boulogne in 306, on purpose to drive back the Picts and Scots, nor of the splendid deeds of Constantine in the war against them. There was a more terrible incursion of these barbarians, aided by the Attacotti, about 368, when the Franks and Saxons also harassed the opposite Gallic coast, plundering and burning and murdering prisoners.* Yet Gildas makes no mention of this, or of the successful attack made upon them by Theodosius, father of Theodosius the Great, nor is anything said respecting the rebuilding of ruined cities and military posts, effected by him in that year (Amm. Marcell., xxviii, 3).
Gildas, had he been writing as a historian, would be rightly censured for such grave omissions as these, but his motive and plan is different. On that account we cannot wonder that he passes by events, however important, which do not show the Britons to be a guilty people, suffering because of their evil ways. In 306 and 368, the Britons were faithful Roman subjects, who could in no way have contributed to the calamities of the empire. It was otherwise in 383. Was it not Britain herself that sent forth the usurper Maximus? Such is the view that Gildas takes, and, moreover, his action in denuding Britain of Roman troops, for the first time after Agricola's settlement, laid the island bare to the plundering expeditions of the barbarian tribes. For these reasons, a more detailed account is given both of Maximus himself and of the fresh inroad which followed his abandonment of the island, than of the two early expeditions against British revolt. That the usurpation of Maximus could be laid to the charge of Britain herself, as Gildas represents the matter, finds no insignificant support in some ancient writers. Orosius describes the tyrannus as a man of strong character and probity, worthy to be Augustus, but created emperor against his will (in Britannia invitus propemodum ab exercitu imperator creatus, Hist., vii, 34.) Zosimus dwells upon the unpopularity of Gratian at the time among the soldiery, owing to the favour shown by him to the barbarian Alani (..., Hist. Nova, iv, 35). " It is possible that he (Maximus) was rather the instrument than the author of the mutiny" (Hodgkin's Italy and Her Invaders, i, 401). Now this is exactly the implication of Gildas' language: non legitime, sed ritu tyrannico et tumtdtu ante initiatum milite, Maximum mittit (Britannia).
Maximus crossed over into Gaul, taking with him the greater part of three legions: with these and the forces which joined him on the continent, he was able soon to make himself master of almost the whole of Europe west of Italy.
The further words of Gildas, which describe this progress, show that he was writing this part also of his narrative with a firm grasp of the real facts of the time.
He gives prominence to cunning artfulness (callida ars), to perjury and falsehood, on the part of Maximus, which unamiable features of his character are amply attested by writers of the fourth and fifth centuries. Socrates describes the guile by which the young emperor Gratian was captured and murdered (... H. E., v, 11); Sozomen speaks of the specious pretext he advanced that he would " allow no innovation to be introduced with respect to the national faith and church order." Mr. Hodgkin, in narrating the meeting of the two armies, that of Maximus and Merobaudes, Gratian's counsellor and general, adds: " For five days there were slight and indecisive skirmishes, but during all this time Maximus and his right-hand man, Andragathius, the commander of his cavalry, were tampering with the fidelity of Gratian's troops." At a later time, when Theodosius was making his preparations to suppress him, aided by the Gothic focdorati, the man of whom Gildas speaks with such sincere reprobation is thus described by the same historian: " Indeed, Maximus, whose one idea of strategy seems to have been to bribe the soldiers of his opponent, had actually entered into negotiations with some of the barbarians, offering them large sums of money if they would betray their master" (Italy and Her Invaders, i, 403, 465). Gildas fixes our attention upon Maximus because through him, the second stage of " the evils suffered " by Britain, begins in a highly aggravated form. But he may have felt also that this usurper, in whose usurpation Britain had a guilty share, had been a prominent figtlre in history. Ambrose of Milan gives an account of two embassies to him, in which the wily Maximus found the great bishop too astute for him; he is spoken of in the writings of Zosimus, of the ecclesiastical historians Socrates and Sozomen, of Jerome, Augustine, Orosius and Sulpicius Severus, probably others, besides several Chronica and Annales. After reaching Italy in 387, and Rome itself early in 388, the energy of Theodosius the Great brings his career to an end; he was captured and put to death "at the third milestone from Aquileia:' on August 28th (Prosper Tiro, Chron., and Socrates, H. E., v, 14).
It is only now that Gildas, for the first time, mentions the Picts and Scots, old enemies though they had been, because Britain was guilty of the old sin of unfaithfulness, and secondly, because not until then had the barbarians found the civilised parts of the island empty of proper garrisons to obstruct their path. It was the best opportunity for robber-inroads.
4. Two Roman expeditions are mentioned by Gildas as taking place after Maximus had carried the forces needed for defence over to Gaul. The brief account given above will aid us in finding the terminus a quo for the time during which these took place. The position of Maximus, though strong, made it impossible for him to spare any of the old garrisons, much less any other forces, to take the field in Britain against the Scots and Picts.+ It may be concluded, therefore, that no expedition could come until Theodosius had afresh reorganised the empire. This brings us to the year 389. It is possible also to fix a terminus ad quem.
In the last days of December, 406, the Vandals and Alani crossed the Rhine for a furious attack upon the rich provinces of Gaul ( Wandali et Halani Gallias trajecto Rheno ingressi II k. Jan. Prosper Tiro, M. G. H., ix, p. 465). In consequence, great dissatisfaction arose in Britain, where many Gallic detachments were then serving, and moved by fear of a general collapse of the empire, they proceeded to set up a new emperor. After making trial of several, they eventually fix on one bearing the noble name of Constantine, ..., Sozom., H. E., ix, II; vide also Oros., vii, 40. "Having perpetrated extensive murder, they----i.e., the Vandals, Alani and Suabians----became objects of fear even to the armies serving in Britain, and drove them, through fear of an attack against themselves, to proceed to the election of tyrants such as Marcus and Gratian, and after these Constantine" (Zosimus, vi, 3, i). On this act, Mr. Hodgkin, in the first volume of Italy and Her Invaders, p. 740, remarks: "Where the liegemen of a constitutional king change a ministry, the subjects of an elected emperor upset a dynasty." The discontented army of Britain was led over to Gaul in the year 407 by Constantine, the third tyrannus, of whose deeds a full account by Dr. Freeman will be found in the English Historical Review, 1886, in his article on " Tyrants of Britain, Gaul and Spain," or in the above-named work of Mr. Hodgkin. At no time, therefore, in the year 407, or subsequently, could any detachment of Roman forces be sent over to Britain, because this usurpation of Constantine, with his four years of power over the Prefecture of the Gauls, was the beginning of the final abandonment. " It was not Britain that gave up Rome, but Rome that gave up Britain." By A.D. 446, we know from Gildas, there were hardly any of the old Roman families left in the island.
Between 383 and 389, as has been said, no succour by the empire could have been despatched to Britain; from 388-9 onwards order and authority were being restored in the West by Theodosius the Great, and continued until 406 or 407. This is, therefore, the interval during which the two expeditions mentioned by Gildas must have taken place, that is, a period of about eighteen years (A.D. 389-407). It would be natural that Theodosius, while reorganising Italy and the Prefecture of the Gauls, after the defeat and execution of Maximus, should not delay in sending succour to Britain. It is certainly difficult to find definite evidence of such assistance. Socrates mentions Chrysanthus, a Novatian bishop at Constantinople, who was drawn into the episcopate against his will. His work as bishop began in 407, but before that he had filled several public offices about the palace, and after being raised to consular rank in Italy, was appointed by Theodosius the Great, Vicar of Britain. In the tasks of this office he acquitted himself well (H. E., vii, 12). It is just possible that in him we have one of the men employed by Theodosius in undoing the havoc caused by Maximus in Britain, which would mean repelling the barbarians.
Theodosius died in 395, and from that time until his death in 408, Stilicho was actual, though not nominal, ruler of the West. Claudian's verse has preserved many particulars respecting this brave soldier and strong minister of Honorius, and as the poems do not extend beyond the year 404, the frequent mention of Britain found in them must refer to events anterior to that date. These may be read in the Man. Hist. Brit., xcvii, xcviii, therefore I shall only quote the following from the poem on the Gothic war (De Bella Getico, A.D. 402 or 403):----
" Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannis
Quae Scoto dat frena truci, ferroque notatas
Pertegit exsangues Picto moriente figuras."
We have, therefore, clear evidence that measures were taken to repress the barbarians of the North after the death of Maximus, and before 402. I am further tempted to add the following quaint translation given by Speed in his Great Britaine, from the poem " On the First Consulship of Stilicho," of the year 400. Britain is made to say of Stilicho----
" When Seas did foame with strokes of Oares,
That beat the billowes backe,
His force effecting with his cares,
Prevented still my wracke:
He bade me fear no forraine powers,
That Picts or Scots could make,
Nor of the Saxons that on Seas,
Uncertaine courses take."
The reference to Picts and Scots by Claudian may be pushed back some years earlier even than 400.++ It is, however, unimportant to make any endeavour by way of fixing any precise year. We find it proved for us that help was actually sent to Britain by the Empire during the very time it was possible so to send it. Gildas is in this way vindicated as to the genuineness of his facts, though his mode of describing them may certainly be still open to suspicion. He has been accused of confusion, because historians have sought in his narrative what it could not have entered his thought to narrate. For instance, it was supposed that in c. 17 he was describing the successes of Theodosius (Senior), which took place in 368; but because Gildas places the events of that chapter subsequent to the usurpation of Maximus (383-388), his work was thrown aside with some amount of contempt.
5. The third appeal to Rome was made, according to him, at the time when Aetius was consul, in 446, but was of necessity fruitless. The Empire was sinking. If, however, the views advanced in this note be correct, or approximately correct, they will help us further to understand his elation that, at last, victory over the old enemies came to the Britons " for the first time after many years: primum per multos annos? These " many years," as we have seen, would date at latest from Constantine's elevation in 407. The last help rendered by Rome was the empty letter of Honorius, sent about 410 to the Britons, " that the cities must take care of themselves." ... (Zosimus, vi, 10, 2).
The next and final disaster came by the deliberate admission of the Saxons into the island.
[Footnotes to the additional note]
* The words of Ammianus Marc., xxvii, 5, 8, have been usually understood as if the Franks and Saxons were ravaging Britain itself along with the northern nations. But must we not understand Gallicanos vero tractus Franci et Saxones isdem confines .... violabant, in the sense taken above?
+ St. Ambrose reminds Maximus, in the second embassy, of the latter's project to enter Italy "followed by barbarian battalions" (barbarorum stipatus agminibus, Ep. 24).
++ It is interesting to remember, once more, that the xxth legion, Valeria Victrix, established hitherto at Chester, was recalled to the continent by Stilicho about 402; but Claudian's poem, De Bello Getico, proves that it had, before its withdrawal, done service against the Picts and Scots, as formerly, under Hadrian and Pius, as well as in the expeditions of Severus, it had taken part in the same work (see Mommsen's Das Romische Heer in Britannien, s. 27).
29. 1 Curucus, or curuca. Irish, curach; Welsh, corwc; Modern Welsh, corwg, corwgl, cwrwgl, whence English coracle. In Adamnan's Life of Columba, we read that timber for building was to be conveyed over sea in boats (scaphis) and cwrwgs (curucis). The term, though originally denoting, as now in Wales, a skiff made of osier twigs covered with ox-hide, must be taken as denoting also the rude Celtic ship. The Martyr. Dungall. Aa. Ss. Mart., iii, p. 268 B, says: "in those parts there was at that time (sixth century) a mode of navigating by the use of osier twigs covered with ox-hide, which was called in the Irish tongue (Scotica lingua) currach." But the curaci, used by Columba and his friends, were provided with sail-yards (antennae), sails (vela), and rigging (rudentes). Adamnan's Vita Columbae, ii, 45, Reeves' ed., pp. 176, 177.
30. 1 Agitius. Gildas seems to have had access to a copy of the actual letter sent, but either he or the Britons made a mistake in the Consul's name. This is generally regarded as Aetius; and some continental editions of Gildas, e.g., the Bibl. P.P. Paris, read Aetium, and Aetio here. Aetius was Consul for the third time, along with Symmachus, in A.D. 466; his other consulships fell in 432 and 437. From 433 to 450, he exercised supreme control over the affairs of the Western Empire, under Placidia and Valentinian. The abject tone of the letter to him is in keeping with the times: its florid wording is not strange.
31. 2 Dr. Wendland, the co-editor with Dr. Leopold Cohn of the edition of Philo that is now being published in Berlin, regards the following as the
nearest approach to Gildas' quotation from Philo, but adds that no Latin version is known of the Vita Mosis (Letter to Dr. Mommsen. See his edition, p. 6). Philo vita Mosis I, 31, p. 108; ...
32. 2 It is impossible to tell what amount of definite fact there may be in this description of prosperity and moral decay. Though the style makes us suspicious, yet as the years of plenty were subsequent to 446, the old men of Gildas' childhood and youth must have moved in the living tradition of them.
33. 1 Superbo tyranno. The native king is called tyrannus, because the sole legitimate authority, that of Rome, was absent. Procopius, who was a younger contemporary of Gildas, relates that after the death of the tyrant Constantine (A.D. 411), "the Romans were no longer able to save Britain, but it remained from his time continuously under tyrants" (... ). Codex A reads tyranno Uortigerno, and X tyranno Gurthigerno Britannorum duce (giving thus its later form to the name, in the same way as Guenedotia takes the place of Venedotia), and the words of course appear in Gale's edition based on the latter MS. The name may have slipped into MSS. of Gildas from the Historia Britonum of Nennius, or perhaps from Beda (H. E., i, 14), who writes, placuitque omnibus cum rege suo Uortigerno, and in the Chronicle, Vertigerno. Nearly all the MSS. of Nennius have the late form, Guorthigernus, which in Welsh becomes Gwrtheyrn. That Gildas is not ignorant of the former predatory visits of the Saxons (as attested by Ammianus Marcellinus, and by the early title "Count of the Saxon shore"), is evident from the words, "whom in their absence they feared more than death." Men are not feared in their absence except through previous unhappy acquaintance, so that the Britons must have had experience of the hated Saxons at times anterior to this compact struck with them. The same conclusion may also be drawn from the closing sentence of c. 18: "They build towers on the south coast where ships were usually anchored because from that quarter also wild beasts of barbarians were to be feared." These could be no other than the Saxons. Zimmer appears to me entirely wrong in concluding that British tradition, c. 540, knew nothing of a previous presence of the Saxons in Britain: "von einer fruheren anwesenheit derselben in Brittanien weiss sie absolut nichts" (Nennius Vindic., 190).
There is nothing direct in the narrative of Gildas to fix the date of this coming of the Saxons at the invitation of the Britons. It cannot, however, be very long after the time clearly furnished by the third consulship of Aetius (Agitio ter consult, c. 20). This being in A.D. 446, the approximate dates given by Beda seem to be derived from it, though he connects the time of the settlement of the Saxons with certain imperial events. A full note by the Editor of M. H. B., p. 120, collects the different dates assigned by Becla. They are, 452 in the Chronica, 449 in the Historia (5, 15; v. 24), 447 implied in i, 23, and v. 23; other parts suggest 448. The Chronicle, however, does not fix the date to any given year, and the adverb circiter is added in the other places. We learn from Gildas all that Beda knew. About 446 the Britons gain the victory which causes the grassatores Hiberni to flee homewards, but only to return at no long interval (post non longuin temporis reversuri); to meet that return the Saxons are invited to come, and we may be well satisfied that no nearer date can be found than c. 447. The Gallic Chronicle of the year 511 (printed in M. Germania: Hist., vol. ix, p. 660), opposite A.D. 441-442, gives: Brittaniae usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque latae in dicionem Saxonum rediguntur. (Mommsen conjectures late vexatae). It is difficult to reconcile this difference of five years, unless a Saxon invasion of that time be regarded as one (perhaps the worst) of those which had made the Britons fear the Saxons "more than death."
The Historia Britonum follows a different tradition: it is to the effect that the three ships which brought Horsa and Hengist came as the Ships of exiles (expulsae in exilio).
Cyulis or ciulis, as the word is in X, must be the same as the English keel. Geoffrey of Monmouth changes it into tres celoces, quas longas naues dicimus; in the Welsh, deir llog hirion.
Prolixiorem catastam, cf. c. 109: rectius erat ut ad career em vel catastam poenalem quam ad sacerdotium traheremini, where catasta must mean a scaffold as used for the punishment of criminals. In this passage the word classis, i.e., fleet, is substituted for it by Beda: mittitur confestim classis prolixior. One instance from an unpublished MS, treatise on military tactics is furnished by Du Cange, where the word is used fora heap of felled wood: Facial lignaria incidere de quibus fiant in diversis locis foci in die snae discessionis, et accensis catastis lignorum statim discedat cum suo exercitu. Such a meaning would easily give the signification of a raft, in which sense Gildas employs the word here as a contemptuous expression with ratibus. Dr. Davies, in his Latin-Welsh Dictionary, gives the Welsh carchardy = prison-house, for catasta. The only other meaning given by Du Cange is that of an instrument of torture, a wooden rack, made in the shape of a horse, equuleus, or a " bed of iron" on which martyrs were placed, fire being kindled beneath. Scala, vel gemis poenae equideo similis is quoted from a gloss in Mai, Tom. vii, p. 554, and from A ug. in Psalm 96: Habebant gaudia in catasta, qui Christum praedicabant inter tormenta. Several Acta furnish examples: for instance, Acta Perpetuae et Felicitatis: Ascendimus in catasta = scaffold.
34. 2 Jerome's first revision of the Old Latin Psalter, made A.D. 383, and called Psalterium Romanum, reads, as Gildas here, coinquinarunt (... in LXX). But the second, the Psalterium Gallicum of A.D. 392, preserved in the Vulgate, has polluerunt, which is the rendering of ... in the previous quotation. In chapters 30, 104, we have further indications that Gildas used an old Psalter, probably older than either revision of the old Latin made by Jerome.
35. 5 Or, with lofty door.
36. 4 Nonnulli .... alii .... alii . . . alii. Gildas describes the fate of his countrymen in this struggle, (1) Many were killed outright; (2) others were reduced to life-long slavery; (3) others took refuge in parts beyond sea; (4) others betook themselves to hilly districts and the rugged sea-coasts. These last are the reliquiae, the remnant, who before Gildas' own time had, with the assistance of their British fellow-countrymen (cives) succeeded in wresting back several cities and districts from the terrible enemy. Two remarkable successes came at a time when a considerable part of the Saxons had returned to their own settlement. The first occurred under the leadership of Ambrosius Aurelianus; the second came by the siege of Badon Hill; both exceeded all expectation or hope on the part of the British. At the time when Gildas wrote, there were many alive who had been eye-witnesses of the two events, who could not, he remarks, refrain from frequent mentioning of them. He himself was born in the very year of the later victory, forty-three years and one month from his time of writing; but the success to which the generalship of Ambrosius Aurelianus led was acquired at no considerable time before that, as it must fall within the memory of one life. If we take the year of Gildas' birth as c. A.D. 500, then the battle of Badon Hill took place c. 456-7, and the successes of Ambrosius Aurelius may be put not far from A.D. 450.
37. 1 Transmarinas petebant regiones. Gildas in these words certainly implies that there was an emigration of a considerable part of the Britons of this island to the continent. He has already intimated the same in c. 4, where he tells us that his information is derived not from native sources but from continental ones. What might have existed of the former had, he says, either been burnt by the enemy, or carried far away by that fleet which conveyed his countrymen into exile. This was the beginning of Britanny, or Armorica, but the emigration continued far on into the seventh century. Another view, maintained by many, maybe stated in the words of Dr. Freeman: "Here the ante-Roman population still kept its Celtic language, and it was further strengthened by colonies from Britain, from which the land took its later name of the Lesser Britain, or Britany" (Hist. Geogr. of Europe, p. 93). French writers, especially French Celtic scholars, hold a very different opinion. M. Loth, for instance, in his exhaustive History of the British Emigration in Armorica. thus sums up the conclusions of M. de Courson: " In every place where the insular Britons are not established, the names of places are Gallo-Roman; men's names are Latin or German. The territory of Rennes and that of Nantes .... are of this kind. The old Vannetais, even, towards the end of the fifth century, presents the same character. The tyrant of Vannes, in the Life of St. Melanius, is named Eusebius, his daughter Aspasia, and the " villa " in which he resides Prima Villa. Everywhere, on the contrary, where the Britons are established, the names of men and of places present a Celtic character. Men's names are the same as in Wales and Cornwall; the names of places are generally preceded by a British prefix, as in the island; tref (hamlet), ploi, plou, pleu, plo (plebs = Welsh plwyf, meaning at first a congregation, then the district inhabited by the congregation of any given church); caer (a fortified place, and, simply, a village); llan (a monastery, generally, then a church), etc. The terminations are equally distinct. The Britons do not derive names of places in -acum (-ac) from names of persons, a formation very frequent in a Gallo-Roman country. In a word, throughout the zone occupied by the immigrants, all is transformed, all is Celtic (Brito-Celtic): we are in Britannia; at Rennes and at Nantes we are in Romania" (p. 84). This account of the fact that a Brito-Celtic people are found settled on the peninsula which forms the extremity of the "tractus Armoricanus," about the middle of the sixth century, is amplified by M. Loth. He notices at length the special characteristics of different Celtic languages, which make it impossible for us to regard the people of Britanny as a portion of the old Celtic inhabitants of Gaul surviving there: reference is made to the use of Britannia, etc., by Gregory of Tours in the Historia Francorum, to ancient Lives of Saints, which describe their crossing over from Britain to Lesser Britain (Britannia Minor) with crowds of companions, and to a large bulk of historic matter in ancient annalists and poetry. Taking all things together, a host of lines converge upon one fact: that from about A.D. 500 to 590 there was a strong stream of emigration to the continent. It had, probably, begun earlier, and it continued later, but during the whole lifetime of Gildas there were periods of emigration. Two of his old fellow-disciples, Samson and Paul Aurelian, left their native land and settled in Britany. (Vide L'Emigration bretonne en Armorique, par J. Loth. 1883.)
38. 1 Domum: this can only mean the place assigned to them by treaty in Britain, not their original home on the Continent. The sentence, therefore, implies an ebb in the flood of Saxon conquest.
39. Verg. Aen. ix. 24.
40. 2 Ambrosio Aureliano. Ambrosius Aurelian has become known in Welsh literature as Emrys Wledig, or, as the Historia Britonum gives the name, Embreis Guletic. According to Gildas, he is (1) a Romanus, a member of one of the few old aristocratic families then remaining in Britain; (2) his ancestors had worn the imperial purple: he may have been a descendant of some tyrannus that had assumed the title of Augustus in Britain; (3) he was a vir modestus, which implies kindness of disposition with unassuming manners: the mention of this quality goes far to prove that the information had come to Gildas from some one personally acquainted with the victorious leader; (4) his descendants, grandchildren probably, were intimately known to Gildas. Ussher (Antiquities, vol. v, c. xiii, p. 513) has drawn attention to the false reading indutus for indutis, which the first edition of Polydore Vergil introduced. In this way Ambrosius Aurelian himself assumed imperial power "for the struggle" (collisioni for collisione) against the Saxons. But, though one codex, A, reads indutus, the way in which Beda paraphrases Gildas shows plainly that he must have read indutis: occisis in eadem parentibus regium nomen et insigne ferentibus. H. E., i, 16. With Beda agrees the Historia Britonum of Nennius, which makes Ambrosius say that his father was of consular rank (c. 42). The Irish version of Nennius adds an interpretation of Guletic, in Latin, as meaning king of the Britons (rex Britonum). Maximus is also styled Maxim Guletic (Archiv fur Celt. Lexicogr., i., s. 206), but, in the case of both, its implication appears to be that of a commander. Geoffrey of Monmouth absurdly makes him the son of the tyrannus Constantine, whom he represents as king of Britain, along with Constans the monk and Uthur ben dragon: "Ac or wreic honno y bu idaw tri meib. Sef oed y rei hynny, Constans ac Emrys Wledic ac Uthur ben dragon" (Brut., p. 126). We seem to have here a reminiscence of both Gildas and Orosius. In Gildas, Geoffrey found that the family of Ambrosius had worn, the purple, which may well mean that he was descended from one of the many tyranni who had assumed the title of Augustus in Britain. Orosius, on the other hand, furnishes the romancist with a father for Ambrosius in the person of the tyrannus Constantine. He had a son Constans, that from a monk became a Caesar, but this son was killed in Spain in A.D. 412, and Constantine himself in the previous year. [Adversus hos Constantinus Constant em filium suum----pro dolor!----ex monacho Caesarem factum----in Hispanias misit----Oros. Hist., vii, 40, 7.] Yet according to Geoffrey's story, Emrys and Uthur must have been men in years long before Constans left his monastery, that is, long before 411, nevertheless, the former lived to conquer the Saxons about the year 450! This is still worse if we fall into the mistake of taking Geoffrey's Constantine, as he himself suggests, to be Constantine the Great.
41. 4 Ad annum obsessionis Badonici montis. Since the publication of Dr. Guest's papers (" Origines Celticae," 1883), the conclusions at which he arrives respecting the location of Badonicus mons have been very generally accepted. Treating of "The early English Settlements in South Britain," he maintains that Mount Badon or Badon Hill is not Bath, but Badbury, in Dorset. "Its elevated site, its great strength and evident importance, and its name, all alike favour the hypothesis " (vol. ii, p. 189). His hypothesis was accepted by Freeman and Green. But it is one extremely difficult to fall in with, and must, one feels, be put aside for the older view. There was no need of a very elevated site to build a fortress, while the neighbourhood of Bath would supply hills for such a purpose. Moreover, the very similarity of sound in Bad-bury and Bad-on-icus is itself something to rouse suspicion rather than to suggest Dr. Guest's inference. The name Mons Badonis is found in Nennius's Historia Britonum as the place where the "twelfth battle" was fought under Arthur. The Annales Cambriae place Bellum Badonis opposite a doubtful date (A.D. 516); a fragment published in the Brut of Llyfr Coch o Hergest speaks of the " battle of Badwn " (giveith Badwn) p. 404, while other parts of the Brut mention Kaer Vadon, and once there is mention of esgob Bad. In all these places there can be no doubt that the meaning is Bath, as in " capitulum LXVIII " of the Historia Britonum (p. 130 Mommsen's edn.); De stagno calido, in quo balnea sunt Badonis (baths of Badon) secundum uniuscuiusque voti desiderium. Cf. Camden's Britannia, Somersetshire, p. 70 (edn. of 1645).
42. 1 Quique quadragesimus quartus.....There has been much controversy as to the meaning of these words. Beda took them to mean, forty-four years after the coming of the Saxons to Britain: quadragesimo circiter et quarto anno adventus eorum in Britanniam. M. de la Borderie, in an article in Revue Celtique, vi, 1-13, holds that Beda's rendering is the true one, and in this way arrives at the conclusion that the date assigned to the siege of Badon Hill by the Annales Cambriae is incorrect. Certainly A.D. 516 cannot be the date of that battle for several reasons; the entry in the Annales Cambriae has all the appearance of an erroneous borrowing from Nennius, c. 56, of matter not found in the Irish translation, and extremely legendary in character. Dismissing the date 516, M. de la Borderie arrives at 493 as the date of the battle, which, he holds, Beda deduced from Gildas, rightly understanding his words to convey the meaning of forty-four years after the settlement of the Saxons. But the French scholar inserts the words adventus eorum in Britanniam before ut novi. In the note on Ambrosius Aurelian we have had an instance of the way in which Beda mixes literal quotations from Gildas with his own words, interpreting the latter's meaning in better words or phrases. As no MS. authority exists for this insertion of M. de la Borderie's, it seems far better to regard the words adventus eorum in Britanniam as Beda's own interpretation of Gildas. Ussher (vol. v, p. 544) holds that Beda has misunderstood Gildas's words, and gives himself the following paraphrase of the passage: "perinde ac si dixisset, a clade Badonica quadragesimum quartum tunc (tempore quo scripta ab eo ista sunt) numerari cepisse annum; unico quippe anni illius mense adhuc elapso; idque ex sua ipsius aetate se novisse." " As if he had said that from the loss inflicted at Badon, the forty-fourth year-had then (at the time he wrote) begun to be counted; one month in fact of that year was gone, and this he knew from his own age." Mommsen feels that the passage can hardly give a good meaning, and, though reluctantly, proposes-an emendation of it. The difficulty, he feels, lies in the strange ut novi, but if the sentence be read: quique quadragesimus quartus [est ab eo qui] orditur annus mense iam uno emenso, qui et meae nativitatis est, then the meaning is perfectly clear. (Man. Germ. Hist., iii, p. 8.) When we think of the many involved scraggy sentences which Gildas writes elsewhere, we do not wonder at the ut novi, which the recollection of his own age forced to an undue prominence before his mind: by inserting it in brackets the sentence is tolerably easier, and can only give the meaning deduced by Ussher, and favoured by Mommsen.
43. 2 The description given here of the atrocities perpetrated in this invasion is so definite in details that it must have come to Gildas from eye-witnesses. He himself saw the ruined cities, desertae dirutaeque hactenus squalent (chapter 26).
44. 1 This passage mentions two generations. First, there were the men who had witnessed the disasters suffered from the Saxons and had survived them to enjoy a time of quiet in lives void of reproach. Secondly, after they had passed away, there came a generation of men who, like Gildas himself, had experience only of the period of non-molestation by outside enemies. It is the deterioration of these that he laments in the present work. But there are also the few select ones, so few that even the venerable mother, the church, hardly knows them as her only real sons. Who are they? To answer this question fully we must consult cc. 65, 69, 92; yet in the main it would be right to say that he has the monks in his thoughts. We find a reference to this passage in c. 65, and therein also, it may be mentioned in passing, strong evidence that this work of Gildas never really consisted of two different parts----Historia and Epistola----much less that they were written at different times. " I ask pardon of these men, as I have said in a previous part," so writes Gildas in the chapter named, " whose life I not only praise, but also esteem above all the wealth of the world, and of which, if possible, I long for a share, sometime, before I die." For Gildas, and, apparently, for his contemporaries also, in both the Irish and British churches, the original idea of monasticism had undergone a great change. It had ceased to be a purely contemplative life, or one of secluded discipline of the individual soul unto holiness, as Eucher's beautiful De Contemptu Mundi describes it. Gildas, though a monk, is mixing in the battle of public life, and the present work is part of the task which he fearlessly carried out. "There was a prophet of the people in the time of the Britons called Gildas. He wrote about their misdeeds: how they so angered God, that at last He caused the army of the English to conquer their land, and utterly destroy the strength of the Britons. And that came about through the irregularity of the clergy, and the lawlessness of the laity" (Wulfstan, Anglo-Saxon Homilies). Notwithstanding the position in which Gildas finds himself, the place of honour in his mind belongs to those who lived in the cloisters: they are the saints, the only real sons of mother church: sancti Dei, id est, monachi, as said by Salvian. would express his idea also. The Welsh language itself still bears evidence how such words as sanctus (sant), religiosi (crefyddwyr), took a special meaning, at first no doubt a fuller meaning than hitherto, when men regarded their adoption of the cloistered life as their " conversion." But it is very significant that Gildas nowhere presses this life upon anyone, cleric or layman, as a cure for the excesses which he denounces. Wherefore we find him, in this, to be out of the fashion of his age, though we may see in it also the keen moderation that is so evident in the " Fragments," and which the correspondence of such men as Finnan, a sanctorum Hiberniac magister, shows to have been valued in distant places (Columb., Kp. I, in M. Germ. H., iii, 159). His words, however, imply----strange though it seems----that monasticism had not spread largely in Britain by c. 540. See Introduction.
45. 2 Mater ecclesia is of constant occurrence in ecclesiastical Latin as early as Cyprian; matris sinus also in the same connection.
46. 1 Damnonia in the sixth century would correspond roughly to the present county of Devon. Aldhelm, between 675 and 705, addresses his letter of admonition to " Geruntius King and the priests (i.e.. bishops) of Damnonia." A poem addressed to Aldhelm about the same date reads----
" quando profectus fueram
Usque diram Domnoniam per carentem Cornubiam."
Cornubia (Cornwall) seems to have been a separate kingdom.
47. 1 Aurelius Caninus: We have no place mentioned as forming the kingdom of this prince. It seems natural, with Zimmer (Nenn. Fznd.,p. 307), to regard it as lying between Damnonia and the next named Demetia. His kingdom might well include parts of the present counties of Somerset, Gloucester, Monmouth, Glamorgan, and Caermarthen, perhaps, with Caerlleon (Legionum urbs) as capital. Geoffrey of Monmouth reads Conane. Dr. Guest is inclined to conclude that Constantine and Aurelius Conan were the degenerated descendants of Ambrosius Aurelianus, mentioned in c. 25. This is not a conclusion that one can well rest in.
48. 1 Vortipori. Vortiporius is King of Demetia (Dyfed), which roughly corresponded to the present county of Pembroke. The Welsh form of the name appears as Guortepir map Aircol map Triphun in the Genealogies from Harleian MSS., edited by Mr. E. Phillimore in Y Cymmrodor, vol. ix, p. 171. " Aircol must be the Welsh reduction of the Latin Agricola" Rhys' Celtic Britain, p. 253.
49. 4 Cuneglase. This name and the whole passage, present many difficulties. Gune-glasus may have had an older form, Cuno-glasus, found in many names, e.g., Cuno-maglus ( = Cynfael), Cuno-valus (Cynwal), Cuno-belinus (Cynfelyn), etc. The first element of the compound is connected either with cuno- in the sense of high or noble, as cun, a top, or summit, cynnu, to raise, or with cu, gen. cunos, a. dog. Maglo-cunus may have the same root, with the meaning of "great lord." (See Holder, Alt-Celtisches Sprachschatz, Rhys' Celtic Britain, p. 286, The Academy, October 12th and 19th, 1895). The meaning dog would connect itself better with butcher, but glas is an odd addition in the sense of fulvus ---- deep reddish-yellow, or tawny; the green grass, the blue sea, the gray mare, are each termedglas in modern Welsh, but we find it impossible to connect the adjective with a colour that comprises red and yellow. It has been proposed to take cunus as fulvus, i.e., honey-coloured, and glas as lanio: this hardly removes the difficulty, while the order is decidedly unfavourable to it. I feel that Gildas must have fallen into a mistake, in the heat of his desire to fasten an ugly nickname upon Cuneglasus.
Later, the name took the form Cun-glas or Conglas; in the Genealogies it appears as Cinglas, and may perhaps be found in Cynlas (Y Cymmrodor, ix, 172). Cinglas map Eugein dant gwin, map Enniaun girt, map Cuneda," may be compared with " Mailcun map Catgolan lauhir, map Ennian girt, map Cuneda;" so that we find Cinlas and Mailcun (Maglocunus of next section) to be both descended from Cunedda, and both grandsons of Enniaun. With this suggestion it seems fair to conclude that the kingdoms of the two were contiguous. Zimmer places that of Cinglas in the district between the Teifi and the Dee, where descendants of Cunnedda are known to have ruled.
I have ventured to print urse and ursi, instead of Urse, Ursi, as other editions do. The word appears to me to be employed by Gildas as an epithet, parallel with the animal names----catulus for the king of Damnonia, catulus leoninus for Aurelius Caninus, pardo for Vortiporius, and draco for Maglocunus. An attempt has been made to connect Ursus with arth in the Welsh name Arthur, which is Welsh for Arturius (Arcturius). (Academy, October 12th, 1895.)
Were we to adopt the reading cesor of A, we should find a meaning closely allied with lanio, i.e., hewer of many, one who mangles or tears in pieces. Auriga currus receptaculi ursi describes, probably, well-known habits of this prince; he drives a chariot, but in the eyes of Gildas, that chariot is but the mean appanage of a bear's ugly den, his place of retreat: hence the singular term, receptaculum.
50. 1 The "authority to bind and loose" is, we see, a settled, part of British ideas respecting Church discipline and life in the sixth century. According to c. 109, it is given to " Peter and his successors," i.e., the bishops, but Gildas draws a definite distinction; the priest must be a holy priest: the promise is made omni sancto sacerdoti. Such men as he is writing against, though ordained bishops, have by their unholy lives, he adds (c. 109), forfeited this authority. They are barely Christians (c. 92).
51. 1 Maglocune. Maglocunus is the Mailcun of the previous note, great-grandson of Cunedda Wledig. The name appears as Maelgwn in modern Welsh, generally Maelgwn Gwynedd, designating him as king of that portion of North Wales which was called Venedotia, and later Gwenedotia. The ancient Gwynedd extended from the river Clwyd (according to some, from the river Conway) westward, and to the south as far as the Mawddach or Dyfi. Maelgwn had as teacher the celebrated Illtud, and may or may not have been at his monastery at the same time as Gildas himself. The vow to take upon himself the secluded discipline of a monk came after having a taste of the stormy life of a king: the monastery, however, was abandoned, and Maelgwn seems----partly through his own brilliant qualities, partly as a family right----to have attained a position of pre-eminence over the other princes, or, as Gildas puts it, "te cunctis paene Britanniae ducibus tam regno fecit (Deus) quam status liniamento editiorem......" On the legend, which gives at least an echo of this fact, see Welsh Laws (1841), ii, 49-51. According to the Annales Cambriae, he died of the great plague in the year 547: " An.  mortalitas magna in qua pausat Mailcun rex Guenedotiae." The date, 547, can only be an approximate one. Petrie, in the first edition, which appeared in the Monum. Hist. Brit., supplied 444 as the year of the Christian reckoning corresponding to ANNUS I of the Annalist, though, as he confesses, there is no certainty with respect to the era adopted by him (De aera vero, unde in annalibus condendis exorsus sit chronographus, minime constat). Some well-known dates of events are a few years wrong; others, especially the later ones, correct, as given in the Annales. Dr. Stokes does not add the corresponding years for the Irish Annals of Tigernach, which he edits in the Revue Critique (1896), but gives in brackets those of other Annals. Now the Tigernachian Annals say: K. vn. Mortalitas magna, which means that it occurred during a year in which the Kalends, or 1st of January, was a Saturday. The Annals of Ulster place it in 551, those of Inisfallen in 541 (Rev. Celt., p. 140). Not one of the three Irish documents agrees quite with the Welsh, but the errors cannot be important in any. We therefore adopt 547 as the approximate date of Maelgwivs death. But, as he was alive when Gildas wrote, it has been rightly concluded that the De Excidio must have been written before 547. On the whole question of date, see Introduction.
Insularis draco is explained in Celtic Britain- as implying that "island" is Britain itself, not Mona. When we reflect that "dragon" is the last of the opprobrious epithets----cur, whelp, leopard, bear, dragon----applied to the five kings, one is drawn to the belief that even the insularis is also intended to wound. If so, the reference must be to Maelgwn in his island home, Mona.
52. 1 This teacher is generally regarded to be Illtud, who is not named owing to his pre-eminence, and from a feeling of reverence on the part of the writer (see Introduction).
53. 1 Gildas, when quoting elsewhere consecutively from the Gospels, has a text almost identical with that of the Vulgate; but here, quoting probably from memory, his text is the same as the partially revised Old Latin Codex Brixianus (f), ...
54. 3 Although Gildas mingles his denunciatory message to the five princes with affectionate appeals for reform, yet he ends each message with lavish threatening of the torments of hell. The appellations used by him for the place of torment are inferno, or infernum and tartarus. The Latin versions had made the former word familiar everywhere as the name for "the grave," or Hades, the abode of the dead. In this sense it is the equivalent of the plural inferi, as exaudivit me de venire inferni (Jonah, ii, 3), in the Latin version of Irenaeus: descendant . ... in infernum (...) Gen. xxxvii, 35. Its Welsh derivative, uffern, is employed with the same meaning in most places of the authorised Old and New Testament. But it was used also as a name for a place of punishment (locus supplicioriini atque cruciatorum, Jerome in Is. xiv, 7-11), and Jerome understood the words of the creed, descendit ad inferna, in this sense. Cyprian seems to have used inferi only, while inferus appears a few times in the Latin Bible, e.g., Rev. vi, 8, et inferus (...) sequebatur eum, where the Welsh version has uffern, the English hell. Tartarus, though not so frequently found, is employed for " hell " as early as Tertullian, and in the letter of Roman presbyters to Cyprian: parauit caelum sed parauit et tartarum,Ep., xxx, 7. It is evident that neither inferi nor tartarus were in common use, because infcrnus has given enfer to the French language and uffern, or yffern, to Welsh. Cornish and Armorican have allied forms, ifarn, yffarn; iffern, iverus.
55. 1 This "tearful narrative of complaint" (flebilis querulaque historia) includes the part beginning, in c. 26, where the older men die and are succeeded by an age ignorant of the earlier struggles with the Saxons, with experience only of the present time of quiet. The story ends with c. 36. Bede's well-known words about Gildas, that he wrote " with tears in his language" (flebili sermone, i, 22), may have been borrowed from this passage, as also the name liber querulus, so frequently applied to this work. The phrase querula historia means a narrative setting forth definite charges or complaints. In Col. iv, 13, we have probably the Latin querela reproduced by the Authorised Versions, Welsh and English, in the (now) archaic cweryl and quarrel. "If any man have a quarrel (= complaint) against any."
56. 1 Idolatria, idolatrae. "Omnino in libris scriptis frequentissimum, pallatim et sermo vulgaris recepit et propagavit in linguas recentiores." Tisch. These forms, distinct from the more correct idololatria, idololatra, are found in the writings of Cyprian, and the Pseudo-Cyprian De Aleatoribus. Idolatria occurs twice in Salvian's Ad Eccles., i and 60. As a form of common Latin it passed, in English and French, into idolatry, idolatrie.
57. 2 Nos inhiantes suscipimus: we with cupidity receive. It is difficult to decide who is meant by this we. The reference may be to the clergy, of whom Gildas himself was one, in their love of gifts, which, by being selfishly withheld from the needy, will bring about the deserved reprobation and ruin. The use of the words sacrificia et dona in the previous sentence supports such a view: et may, in this way, take the meaning although.
58. 3 Iniustitia. I have changed the punctuation of other editions by removing the note of interrogation usually placed after ignis, retaining only the note at the end of the sentence. It seems to me rendered necessary by the text of the LXX, and reads well. I have ventured even to omit the m of the accu sative iniustitiam, though the MS. authority seems altogether to favour its retention; but it is well known that in nothing do MSS. show so much uncertainty as in the omission or insertion of this letter. Taking the LXX as one's guide, and observing that such a phrase as " to treasure unrighteousness" is not in keeping with Old Testament ideas, every hesitation as to the substitution of the nominative case is almost entirely removed. ...
59. 4 Esdras xv, 22-27.
60. 2 Et si non habemus . . . This sentence is a good instance of the vein of real modesty which runs through this work; it does not in any way impress us as the empty mannerism of conventional self-depreciation. Gildas halts with modest self-fear at the saying: "I could wish that I were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake;" but with a full heart (toto corde) he can use other words, such as those of the prophet Micah: "Alas! a soul is perishing." There is earnest grief in these touching words of that prophet whose mission it was to rebuke the moral condition of both people and princes. The reality of modest affectionate sorrow, on the part of Gildas, for those addressed by him is clear, and it leads us to look at other words of his which will all the more be felt to have the same ring of sincerity. "Constrained by my own reasonings or by the pious entreaties of brethren, I now pay the debt long ago exacted. The work is indeed poor; but, as I think, it is faithful and friendly to every disciple of Christ, though weighty and hard to bear, for foolish apostates" (c. 1). We call to mind also his anxiety to help men to carry the burden he brings, by words of encouragement and consolation (consolatorio affatu) (c. 62). "Me, poor though I am, thou holdest of no moment, and yet I observe the prophet's word with earnest affectionateness of soul" (c. 36). "Surely I shall put forth what I feel: the denunciation might, no doubt, be softer, but what boots it merely to touch the wound with the hand and smear it with ointment, when there is need of the branding iron, and the open treatment of fire." I feel we have not read Gildas in the right way, if we do not perceive and appreciate his earnest moderation, as well as that something else, the fashion and temper of his time, which leads us to speak of him only as rhetorical or declamatory.
61. 1 Sedem Petri apostoli. We seem to have in this phrase, as in Petri cathedra, the survival of a belief that had died out elsewhere. It means that every bishop is regarded as a successor of Peter, just as every bishop's chair is a sedes apostolica (c. 92): such appears to have been the faith of the Church in Britain when Gildas wrote. If we look up the writings of Tertullian and Cyprian, comparing them with the Tractate De Aleatoribus (supposed now to have been written at Rome itself), we find a living conviction that every bishop is a successor of Peter; that his position is marked by the cathedra Petri to which he has been called. Tertullian states, in Scorp. 10, that "the Lord had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter, and by him to the Church (per eum ecclesiae reliquisse)." In the De Pudicitia, 21, he is indignant that the bishop of Rome (Callistus) should appropriate to himself the power of binding and loosing which really appertains " to every church belonging to Peter" (ad omnem ecclesiam Petri propinquairi). It is true that these last passages are strongly marked by the Montanist leanings of Tertullian, but the same idea is very prominent in Cyprian. To him the bishop of Rome was the successor of Peter, nevertheless he has the whole episcopate in mind; it was, " in ordering the office of the bishop and the course of his Church in the Gospel, that he says to Peter" (quoting Matth. xvi, 18, etc.), Ep. 33, i: "There is one God, one Christ, one Church, and one chair, founded on Peter by the word of the Lord (una ecclesia et cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata), Ep. 43, 5. The question itself is not to be touched upon here, but the historical survival of phrases that once had a peculiar meaning is of interest. One might refer as to these views in the African and other Churches during the early third century, to Sohm's Kirchenrecht, 251-256; Harnack, Texte und Unters., v, i, 73-76. There is certainly a temptation to draw, as regards Britain, a conclusion which is evident in the case of Tertullian and Cyprian. In their case, many such sayings as those quoted are reminiscent of the fact, that the Church of Africa had received its teaching from Rome; such a conclusion would hardly be contested. But may we not find in this use of the phrase " chair of Peter," for the whole episcopate, an indication of very early Roman influence upon the ideas prevailing among the Christian communities in Britain also?
62. 2 Merito cupiditatis. We find merito here used as a preposition =propter with accus. Instances may be found in ecclesiastical Latin, such as Cyprian, 711, 4 (Hartel). Cum tamen merito benedictionis: Sulp. Sev., Chron., i, 12, 7; Artaxersi merito obsequiorum carissimus, id., ii, n, I. One early instance I have met with (in a review of Hoppe, De Sermone Tertulliano, in Wolfflin's Archiv.), Domitiamim saevitiae merito poenas luisse: Suetonius, Vesp., 1.
63. 3 Religiosam forte matrem sen sorores domo pellentes. Gildas has in mind the rule established by the well-known Canon 3 of Nicaea: "The great Synod wholly refuses to bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, or in short anyone in the ranks of the clergy, the right to have a strange woman (in their homes), only a mother, or sister, or aunt, or solely such persons as incur no suspicion," Such a woman is termed ..., subintrodncta, in this and in numerous canons repeatedly passed down into the eighth century. The habit condemned, may-have included constant cases where there was no real ground of suspicion, clerics and chaste women living under the same roof in strict purity. Yet gross indecencies arose; under cover of a specious plea of spiritual intercourse, came the secretius ministerium of which Gildas mockingly speaks. A "complaint of like nature is made against two British presbyters in Armorica, by Licinius, Metropolitan of Tours (509-521), before this work of Gildas had been written. The women in his letter are termed conhospitae. The article on Subintroductae, in the Diet, of Chr. Ant., gives a full account of the many canons that, time after time, sternly condemned a habit which, we see from this passage, had taken deep root in Britain. But in other countries we hear the same invective, so that Britain was by no means alone in this immoral custom. " Pudet dicere proh nefas; triste sed verum est: Unde in ecclesias agapetarum pestis introiit? Unde sine nuptiis aliud nomen uxorum? I mo unde novum concubinarum genus?" So wrote an earlier monk than Gildas----Jerome----in 384. (See p. 155.)
64. 1 Tyrannico ritu. The next chapter not only enlarges upon the simony practised by the clergy, but explains also how their ordination is irregular and violent: the bishops and presbyters "steal the title of priest" (rapto sacerdotali nomine), because when thwarted in the church (parochia) for which they seek ordination, and there refused, they sail across seas, to Gaul, perhaps, or Ireland, and secure their object by bribes. It is self-seeking men (ambitores) that ordain them, against the will of those to whom it legitimately belonged. We may surmise that, except where such base influences as are here described operate and break through ecclesiastical usages, a bishop would be elected by the whole community, so that " the episcopate should," in the words of Cyprian, "be conferred upon him de universae fraternitatis suffragio" (Ep. 67, 5). The great Leo, writing to the bishops of the province of Vienne in Gaul, just a hundred years before Gildas, insists that the " consent of clergy and people" (ordinis consensus et plebis) should be duly observed; adding that, "he who is to preside over all must be elected by all" (Ep. 10, 6). Any bishop ordained otherwise is ordained by a tyrannicus ritus.
65. 2 Praecepta sanctorum.......ineptas saecularium hominum fabulas. In this contrast we have implied the great change that found its completion during the sixth century. With the fall of the Empire fell also the schools of the rhetoricians, which had kept alive the taste for the classic literature of antiquity. They were replaced by Christian schools connected with the great churches, or with monasteries; and in these, reading was confined to the works of Christian writers, and chiefly those writings which inculcated asceticism and monastic retirement. The celebrated dream of Jerome, of which he gives a graphic account in his letter to Eustochium (Ep. 22, 30), shows how the feeling of aversion to Pagan literature was, at the end of the fourth century, beginning to carry even men of the highest equipment away from the great writers of Greece and Rome. "What has Horace to do with the Psalter? What has Maro in common with the Gospels? What has Cicero with the Epistles?" (cf. the 7th chapter in Ep. 53; Taceo, de mei similibus.....). In his dream he found himself standing before the judgment-seat of Christ. He had been reading Cicero and Plautus with delight, but felt a shudder at the uncouth language of the prophets; when asked about his condition, his answer was: " I am a Christian;" whereupon He who sat upon the throne said; " Thou liest: thou art a Ciceronian, not a Christian." After the severe flogging inflicted upon him by the Judge, he vows that he will never again read " secular books " (codices seculares). His antagonist Rufinus could well reproach him that the vow was badly kept. There was an uneasy feeling in such men as Jerome, Augustine, Paulinus of Nola, with respect to the reading of heathen writings; but such anxiety of mind before long disappeared; then came likewise the abandonment of Homer, Virgil and Cicero. Another kind of reading spread widely, with a taste newly formed, which eagerly scanned the praecepta sanctorum. Under this term we may include the works of the ecclesiastical writers, but more especially such writings as those of John Cassian and the popular Lives of Saints, a species of literature introduced by Jerome.
Eucher, about a hundred years before Gildas penned these words, wrote a letter of advice to a relative (Epistola paraenetica ad Valerianum cognatum) in which he exhorts him to abandon the works of secular writers, and devote himself to the study of Christian doctrine, to the studies and writings of our men (ad studia te nostrorum et scripta converte), and especially to approach as a searcher "ad fontes ipsos sacri eloquii." Can. v of Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua, c. A.D. 450-500, commonly observed in Gaul, directs "That a bishop shall not read heathen books (gentilium libros), but those of heretics, as demanded by the necessity of the times." The spirit of such admonitions spread more and more, though several writers besides Boetius and Cassiodorus continued in a feeble, declining way, to show that the old taste was still alive. The story told by John of Salesbury, that Gregory the Great caused the valuable Palatine Library to be burnt, lest the study of Scripture might be prejudiced by the perusal of its books, is at least a true picture of the sentiments entertained by men of the monastery during the fifth and sixth centuries. Gildas may be understood as presenting here the view held by a fervent monk, of the men in Britain who still continued to read the ancient literature.
66. 1 In flexibus mundialium negotiorum mendacibus doctissimos. The last word implies that the clergy in Britain, or some of them, were engaged in some trade or other for their maintenance. We need not refer to the frequent legislation upon this subject, such as the exemption from trade dues granted by imperial edict in 343 and 353, but afterwards limited; and the prohibition issued by Valentinian III, in 452, which forbade clerics to pursue any trade: ut nihil prorsus negotiationis exerceant (Cod. Theod., xvi, 2, 36). But Britain had long been outside the range of any edict. The Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua, the basis for Church law and custom in Gaul in the second half of the fifth century----it might well have been so in Britain----in two canons reads as follows: " Clericus quantumlibet verbo Dei eruditus artificio victum quaeret" (can. 51). " Clericus victum et vestimentum sibi artificiolo vel agricultura absque officii sui detrimento quaeret" (can. 52). A cleric's sustenance and clothing was to come to him by some trade or by agriculture, provided it did not prejudice his own proper work.
67. 2 Pecunia redimentes. Now begin the charges, frequently repeated, of simony, in addition to the assumption of sacred office by violence, that is, against the will of the community (rapto sacerdotali nomine). The office of bishop or presbyter was bought for an "earthly price"; priesthoods are bought from "tyrants;" which means that princes----whom Gildas, a thoroug imperialist as a civis Romanus, will only name as tyranni----were able to influence appointments.
68. 3 Summum . . . gradum: the simple episcopate only, would be tbe highest gradus. There probably were never any metropolitans or archbishops in the British Church.
69. 4 Novatus Romae. The confusion of Novatus for Novatianus in so late a writer as Gildas is curious. The Roman presbyter who led the opposition against the bishop Cornelius, and caused a separation from the Church in the name of stricter discipline, was Novatian: from Africa there came to Rome the Carthaginian presbyter Novatus, who joined Novatian, and probably instigated him to his schismatic partition of the Church. (See Langen, Gesch. der Rom. Kirche, i, 293.) This may be the implication of Prosper's words: Novatus presbyter Cypriani Romam veniens Novatianum et ceteros confessores s'ibi' sociat, eo quod Cornelius paenitentes apostatas recepisset. (Chron. M. Germ,. H., s. 439.) Now Latin writers name Novatian as the leader of this separation, and call the schism by his name, but Eusebius and other Greek writers ascribe the movement to "the Roman presbyter Novatus." Rufinus, in his Latin version of Eusebius (H. E., vi, 43), repeats the mistake of the original: Novatus Romanae ecclesiae presbyter. We have good reason to infer that Gildas was acquainted with Jerome's works, the De viris illustribus in particular (which work gives: Novatianus Romanae urbispresbyter); his present agreement with Rufinus, therefore, leads us to infer that he is here borrowing from that writer's Latin version of Eusebius.
70. 3 Basilium Caesariensem episcopum. The two previous examples are those of early martyrs, whose bold and steadfast spirit Gildas would fain find in the respectable clergy of his time. Now he brings forward a different case: a man who by his firm dignified bearing (A.D. 371), bewildered a cruel praefect----Modestus----and struck awe into the soul of Valens, the persecuting emperor. Valens, as is said, had made an oath to convert all his Christian subjects to Arianism. He is the iniquus princeps mentioned above; but the fearless bishop, who knew how to speak with princes, filled him with admiration and terror, and was almost able to save the province of Cappadocia. The two sayings of Basil, and probably the bulk of what is narrated, Gildas owes to Rufinus, xi, 9, where he continues the History of Eusebius; but there are some details found here which indicate a wider knowledge than could be procured from Rufinus. The account of the persecution of Basil at the hands of Valens is found in Theodoret, iv, 19; Socrates, iv, 26; Sozomen, vi, 16; as well as in the work of Rufinus. The facts are more fully given by Theodoret than by the others, and he appears to have had Gregory of Nazianz' Oratio in laudem Basilii Magni as an independent source; the Orationes of Gregory were also translated into Latin by Rufinus, as he himself states in the very chapter from which Gildas quotes. Is it not possible that Gildas was acquainted with the incidents of the persecution from either Theodoret or Gregory, as well as from Rufinus? There is no mention in Rufinus of what is implied in the words Arriano caeno; whereas, Theodoret expressly says that the emperor had commanded the Praefect Modestus either to persuade Basil to communicate with Eudoxius (the Arian bishop of Constantinople), or in case he refused, to exile him.
71. 1 At this point, where Gildas makes lengthened extracts from the Minor Prophets, the Vulgate version is abandoned, his codices being Old Latin. On this curious and interesting fact, see Additional Notes, pp. 94,95. The order of the prophetic books is, as indicated on p. 97, Joel (Habakkuk), Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah (Haggai), Zechariah, Malachi, Ezekiel (Daniel). The books placed in brackets are not quoted, but, judging from the order of Gildas' previous quotations, and from lists of scriptural books, we are probably correct in assigning them the position indicated (see p. 137). As in cc. 38-62, the peculiarities of words and constructions found here, cc. 83-91, belong not to Gildas himself, but to the awkward, unwieldy literalness of the Old Latin version, with its frequent Graecisms and provincialisms. We are, in fact, reading a production of the second century. A. reads: quid quoque sanctus Johel propheta.
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