« PoprzedniaDalej »
Augustine, who had been living a religious life in a monastery (a place of retreat from the world), with forty companions, and they proceeded some way on their journey through France; but before they reached the sea-coast to cross over to England, they were so much discouraged by what they heard of the barbarous people living there, that they sent back Augustine to tell the Bishop of Rome how hopeless it was for them to attempt to convert such a fierce people, whose language they did not understand.
Gregory exhorted them to go on, saying that it was better not to begin a good work, than to withdraw from it. He recommended them to the bishops of France, and to the kings then reigning there; and he sent to redeem some AngloSaxon youths from slavery, and place them in monasteries, where they might be carefully educated, and thereby trained to assist in the conversion of their countrymen.
The forty monks then proceeded on their journey, and found their undertaking less difficult than they had expected. Ethelbert, king of Kent, the most powerful of the kings then reigning in England, was married to Bertha, daughter of the king of Paris. She was a Christian ; and when she came to England, it was agreed that she should be allowed to bring over an establishment of clergy for her own household; and the church of St. Martin, near Canterbury, which had fallen into decay, like all the other churcbes since the Saxons conquered the island, was fitted up again for her use.
When Augustine and his companions landed in England, they sent word to King Ethelbert of their arrival. He would not receive them in his royal city of Canterbury, nor under a roof, but took his seat in the open air, for fear of the spells or charms which he supposed they might make use of. His noblemen stood round him, and the monks approached in procession, chanting the litany, and bearing a silver cross and a banner, on which a picture of our Saviour was worked, adorned with gold. The king welcomed them courteously, and bid them be seated ; after which, Augustine began to explain the purpose of his mission by means of an interpreter whom he had brought from France, who translated Augustine's words as he spoke them into the Anglo-Saxon tongue. “They told," says an old Saxon writer, “ how the mild-hearted Healer of mankind, by his own throes of suffering, set free this guilty middle earth, and opened to believing men the door of heaven.” When they had ended, “ These," said Ethelbert, are fair words and good promises that you have brought; but forasmuch as they are new and unknown, we may not yet consent to forsake the ways which we with all the Angles have so long holden. However, as you have come hither from a foreign land, and it seems that you wish to make known to us the things that you believe to be good and true, we will not distress you. We will give you friendly entertainment, and supply you with what you want; and we do not forbid you to convert and bring over to you by your preaching whomsoever you may." He then gave them a dwelling in the city of Canterbury, the chief city of his dominions; and they were there maintained for some time, and had liberty to preach and teach the faith of Christ. It is said, that when they drew near for the first time to the city,---going in procession, as before, with the cross and holy banner,-they chanted this prayer : “We pray Thee, O Lord, of Thy great mercy, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from this city, and from Thy holy house, though we have sinned against Thee (Dan. ix. 16). Praised be Thy name, O Lord."
The zealous preaching of the monks, with the plain and frugal life they led, wa not
without success. Maoy of the people believed and were baptised, admiring the peaceful manners of the preachers, and the sweetness of their heavenly doctrine. Queen Bertha gave them the use of the church of St. Martin's, where they met for prayer and praise, and preached and administered the sacraments; till the king himself becoming a convert, they had a greater liberty, and began to build new churches, or to restore those which had been standing in the British times. The behaviour of Ethelbert throughout was such as to prove his conversion to be sincere. When great numbers, following his example, came to hear the Gospel, and join themselves to the Church, he is said to have rejoiced at it; but to have taken care that no man should be forced to become a Christian against his will; “ only shewing more hearty love to those who believed," says Bede, a
as if they were become his fellow-citizens, not only in an earthly, but in an heavenly kingdom.” He began at once to provide a certain endowment for the Church, giving a piece of ground for a cathedral-church and bishop's residence in Canterbury, and appointing other possessions for it,
Above ten thousand of the English having been baptised within little more than a year after Augustine's coming, he went, in the latter part of A.D. 597, to two friends of his who were bishops in France, and was consecrated by them as first bishop of the English Church at Canterbury.
In this, and most of the other steps that he took, he followed the advice of Gregory, to whom the Church of England must always gratefully look back as to one of its greatest benefactors.
His name has accordingly been preserved, as it well deserves, in the calendar prefixed to our Prayer-book, with that of St. Alban and the old British saints. To his care in preserving the more ancient prayers and sacramental services of the Church, we owe much of the Prayer-book itself as it now stands.- From CHURTON'S Early English Church.
Ps, cxi. 10; Prov. ix. 10.
And why baptised in Jesus' blood ?
Or, like your Saviour, mild and good ?
Was it that you should disobey,
And in the path of evil run?
“Thy will, O God, not mine, be done !" The cross of Christ is on your brow,
You are His soldier, pledged and sworn; And should you prove a traitor now,
O, better had you ne'er been born! His blood is sprinkled on your heart
The precious blood He shed for you ; And if you now from grace depart,
You crucify your Lord anew.* Poor heathens stumble in their path,
Because they walk as in the night; They know not of Jehovah's wrath,
They see not Jesus' shining light: Unconscious of the avenging rod
Untaught what things they ought to do They sin because they know not God,
And so their stripes shall be but few. Are you like them ? young Christian, no!
Baptised to God in early youth, You have been taught the way to go,
And nurtured in the fold of truth. You cannot plead the heathen's plea --'
O Lord, I did not know Thy will ;
So could I not His laws fulfil.
Of all your evil ways repent;
Should send you heavy punishment. For, should you not repent and pray,
And God your sinful heart renew, 'Twere better at the judgment-day For wicked Sodom than for you.
* Heb. vi. 6.
Robson, Levey, and Franklyn, Great New Street, Fetter Lane.
The next division of time that we come to is the month, and that is marked out to us by the moon—"the lesser light that rules the night."
The light of the sun, which shines upon the clouds, the earth, and all that we see, shines also on the moon, which looks bright by the sun's light, not by her own. The moon by day looks no brighter than the clouds; and the clouds after sunset (when the sun, which is just hid from us, still shines on them) look as bright as the moon in the twilight sky. At night the moon is the only thing we see on which the sun shines, and it reflects, or sends back, the sun's light to us.
You have often seen the sun shine on part of a cloud, and the rest in shadow, or on one part of a ball or any