Page images
PDF
EPUB

Monks were in this business, hear St. Augustine, De opere Monachorum, cap. 28:—*"The Devil (saith he) hath dispersed in every corner such a crew of hypocrites under the habit of Monks, gadding about every country, sent no whither, staying no where, every where restless, whether sitting or standing: some sell the limbs of martyrs (if so be of martyrs,) and all are asking, all exacting either the expences of a gainful poverty, or the hire of a counterfeit sanctity.” These were those surely which occasioned that rescript of Theodosius, the Emperor, t “let no man sell, let no man buy a martyr;" whereby we may gather what honesty was like to be used among them. We know,

Laudat venales qui vult extrudere merces. Merchants use to commend their commodities. Gregory of Tours, who lived and died somewhat before the year 600, tells us this, "that certain Monks came to Rome, and, near unto St. Paul's Church, in the night time, digged up certain bodies; who, being apprehended, confessed they meant to have carried them into Greece for reliques of Saints.” The same author,1.9.c. 16. Hist. Franc. relates a story of another counterfeit, a Monk, who pretended to come out of Spain, with martyrs' reliques; but being discovered, they were found to be roots of certain herbs, bones of mice, and such like stuff ; and he tells us there many such seducers which deluded the people. And he said true; there were many indeed, and many more than Gregory took for such, even those he took for honest men. For though it must not be

* Tam multos hypocritas sub habitu Monachorum usquequaquam dispersit (Satan,) circumeuntes provincias, nusquam missos, nusquam fixos, nusquam stantes, nusquam sedentes. Alii membra martyrum (si tamen martyrum) venditant-et omnes petunt, omnes exigunt aut sumptus lucrosæ egestatis, aut simulatæ pretium sanctitatis. + Nemo martyrem distrahat, nemo mercetur.

Monachos quosdam Romam venisse, ac prope Templum Pauli corpora quædam noctu effodisse; qui comprehensi fassi sunt in Græciam se ea pro sanctorum reliquiis portaturos fuisse.

F

denied but God had some of this order which were holy men, and unfeignedly mortified, notwithstanding their error in thinking God was pleased with that singularity of life; yet must it be confessed that the greater part were no better than hypocrites and counterfeits, and that the lamentable defection of the Christian Church chiefly proceeded from, and was fostered by, men of that profession, as in part we have heard already.

And if you can with patience hear him speak, I will add the testimony of Eunapius Sardianus, a pagan writer, who lived in the days of Theodosius the First, about the year 400. In the life of Ædesius, most bitterly inveighing against the Christians for demolishing that renowned temple of Serapis, at Alexandria, in Egypt, he speaks in this manner :- “ When they had done, (saith be, they brought into the holy places* those which they call Monks; men indeed for shape, but living like swine, and openly committing innumerable villainies not to be named, who yet took it for a piece of religion thus to despise the divinity, (he means of Serapis ;) for then (saith he) whosoever wore a black coat, and would demean himself absurdly in public, got a tyrannical authority; to such an opinion of virtue had that sort of men attained.

These Monks also they placed at Canopus, instead of the intelligible Gods, to worship slaves, and those of no good conditions; thus bringing a bond of religion upon men. For having powdered the

bones and skulls of such as had been condemned of many crimes, and punished by a legal course of justice, they made gods of them, prostrating themselves unto them, and thinking themselves the better for being polluted with sepulchres. They called them forsooth martyrs, and some deacons, yea and solicitors of their prayers with the gods, being indeed but perfidious slaves, who had been well basted with the whip, and carried the scars of their lewdness upon their bodies; and yet such gods as these the earth brings forth.” Thus the wretched caitiff and damned dog blasphemes

τους καλούμενους μονα χους.

the Saints and servants of Christ, who loved not their lives unto death, the dust of whose feet he was not worthy to lick up. Yet may we make a shift to gather hence what manner of offices Monks were then busied in. And if Baronius took leave to use his testimony for the antiquity of Saint-worship, why may not I with the like liberty allege it, to shew that Monks and Friars were ringleaders therein.

But when the idolatry of image-worship came to be added to that of Saints, whether Monks and Friars, were not the chief sticklers therein, judge, when you shall hear how it fared with them in that great opposition against idols in the east.

Of Leo Isaurus, the first of those Emperors that opposed images, we have this in general out of the Greek menology; that he raged most cruelly against Bishops and Monks which maintained the worship of images ; and that he burnt a whole cloister of such kind of people in their monastery, together with a famous library and all their furniture.

But Constantine his son made a worse fray amongst them. For the author of the Acts of Monk Stephen tells us, that he being reproved and convicted for what he had done (viz. against images) by the religious and worthy professors of monastical life, he raised an implacable war against them, calling that noble habit* “ the vesture of darkness," and the Monks themselves, t unworthy of memory,” and besides terming them all “idolaters” for the worshipping of venerable images.

The same is confirmed by Theosterictus, another author of that time, who saith, that the whole aim and study of this Emperor was to extinguish and root out the order of Monks.

And for particulars, hear what Theophanes, (himself a Monk, and a little singed too in this flame, before it ended) will inform us. “In the one and twentieth year of his reign, he caused

* σκοτιας ενδυμα. 1 αμνημονευτες.

(saith he) Andreas Calybites, a worthy Monk, who reproved him for his impiety, (in demolishing images,) to be scourged till he died.” Lib. 22.cap.30. Hist. Miscel.

“In the five and twentieth year of his reign, he caused Monk Stephen to be dragged by the heels in the streets, till, being rent in pieces, he died ; both for the aforesaid offence, and because he drew and persuaded many to a monastical life.” Ibid. cap. 39.

“The same year, the Emperor (saith he) disgraced and dishonoured the monastical habit, publicly commanding every Monk to lead a woman by the hand, and so to march through the Hippodrome, all the people abusing them and spitting upon them.” Ibid. cap. 40.

In the seven and twentieth year (saith he) the monasteries partly he destroyed to the very foundations, partly bestowing them upon his captains and soldiers." Ibid.

cap. 49.

“In the same year, when he could not draw Peter a Metra, a famous stylite or pillar Monk, unto his opinions, he caused him likewise to be dragged by the heels, and his body cast out into the streets.” Ibid.c.48.

“ In his thirtieth year, bis Prætor, or Deputy Lichanodraco gathered all the Monks in his jurisdiction together, and commanded them to obey the Emperor, to put on a white coat, and to marry wives instantly, or to have their eyes put out, and be sent into exile. Íbid cap. 52. So the Emperor, when he would have Constantine the patriarch abjure monkery, he made him (saith the same author) eat flesh.” Lib. eod. cap. 29.

“In the one and thirtieth year, the same Lichanodraco sold all the monasteries, both of men and women, in his jurisdiction, and sent the money to the Emperor. If he found any one to have a relique of any saint in keeping, he burnt it, and punished him that had it. He slew the Monks, some with stripes, some with the sword, and left not a man, where he had to do, that wore a monastical habit ; whereupon the Emperor wrote thus unto him,*

* Οτι ευρον σε ανδρα κατα την καρδιας μέ, oς πoίεις παντα τα θεληματα με.

I have found thee a man after mine own heart, who fulfillest

my

whole will.” Thus much of Constantine. The like reports Cedrenus of Michael Balbus, that he abominated Monks and diversely afflicted them, ordaining one punishment after another against them. As also of Theophilus the last Emperor that opposed images : Theophilus (saith he) " ordained * that no Monks should have access unto the cities, and that they should by all means be bạnished,+ and not so much as dare to be seen in the country;" and that he caused the monasteries and places of holy retirement to become common and secular habitations. What the reason was, we may learn by that the same author tells us : “of those (saith he) which reprehended the Emperor, the Abramite Monks were the chief, who freely adventuring into his presence, did demonstrate that monastical life was not an invention of yesterday or the other day, but an ancient and primitive institution; and that holy images were familiar in the Apostles' times, and that St. Luke painted an image of the blessed virgin, &c.” But it seems the Emperor was not convinced by their demonstrations; for this their boldness cost them full dear, as our author relates.

By this time, I know you understand what the matter was, that this image-storm fell so heavily upon the heads of Monks and Friars; and yet, notwithstanding all this, they at length prevailed, and carried the day (so God would have it) for their idols. For another Theophanes, whom they call the Presbyter, a writer also of bis time, tells, that Theophilus being dead, Theodora the Empress, (whilst she reigned in the minority of Michael her son) when she meant to restore image-worship, which had been banished now the second time, ever since Leo Armenius, I “when she had acquainted the magistrates and

* αβατος τηρείσθαι τας πολεις τους μοναχοις. + μαλλον δε μηδε κατα χωραν ορασθαι τολμαν. Re cum illis communicata qui erant in magistratu et dignitate constituti, accersit cum ipsis eos qui inter Monachos præstabant, et de imaginum instauratione quæstionem proponit. Cumque idem omnes consentientes comperisset, diuturnoque ejus rei de

« PreviousContinue »