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under the sole form of wine, the priest dipping his finger in the cup, and introducing it into the infant's mouth.—i., 318.
Till the time of the Reformation, our ancestors called the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper “the housel." During the whole Anglo-Saxon period,” Dr. Lingard says, “it was administered in both kinds, first to the clergy of the Church, then to the people, the priest administering the offletes, (bread) and the deacon the cup.”-i., 327.
Dr. Lingard has given us an interesting account of the introduction of Indulgences into the Anglo-Saxon Church. The passage throws much light on the religion of the period. Fasting was the usual penance; but the sick, the infirm, and the dying, might find such penance physically impossible. In that case it was commuted for money or prayers. “ Thus, a new system of canonical arithmetic was established, and the fast of a day was taxed at the rate of a silver penny for the rich, or of fifty paternosters for the illiterate, and fifty psalms for the learned
That these compensations would accelerate the decline of the primitive discipline, was foreseen and lamented by the bishops. The torrent, however, was irresistible, and the condemned Indulgences were gradually sanctioned, first by the silence, afterwards by the approbation, of their successors. Another innovation followed, which contributed much to enrich the monasteriesthe system of atoning for crimes by "the austerities of mercenary penitents. It was in vain that the Council of Cloveshoe thundered its anathemas. The new doctrine was supported by the wishes and the practice of the opulent, and its toleration was at length extorted, on the condition that the sinner should undergo in person a part, at least, of his penance.”
A Thane did penance thus :
“ At his summons, his friends and dependents assembled at his castle ; they also assumed the garb of penitence; their food was confined to bread, herbs, and water, and their austerities were continued till the aggregate amount of their fasts equalled the number specified by the canons. Thus, with the assistance of 120 associates, an opulent sinner might, in the short space of three days, discharge the penance of a whole year.”—Lingard, i., 337-339.
From these cases, and the prevalence of judicial proceedings by ordeal, in which the Church was made an unwilling instrument, we see how utterly impotent for good was the Papal authority! Instead of preserving the purity of the faith, it was borne down by the torrent of error and iniquity, and at last actually compelled to sanction and consecrate, as parts of its system, evils against which it had vainly exhausted its thunders and anathemas!
The Danish invasions caused the Anglo-Saxon Church to degenerate rapidly. In the days of Alfred,
“ The laity had resumed the ferocious manners of their pagan forefathers. The clergy had grown indolent, dissolute, and illiterate. The monastic order had been apparently annihilated. . . . Habits of predatory warfare had introduced a spirit of insubordination; and impunity had strengthened the impulse of the passions. The slow and tranquil profits of industry were despised; the roads were infested with robbers; and the numbers and audacity of the banditti compelled the more peaceful inhabitants to associate for the protection of their lives, families, and property. The dictates of natural equity, the laws of the Gospel, and the regulations of ecclesiastical discipline were despised. The indissoluble knot of marriage was repeatedly dissevered on the slightest suggestion of passion or disgust; and in defiance of divine and human prohibitions, the nuptial union was frequently polluted and degraded by the unnatural crime of incest. To suppress these licentious habits was the first care of Alfred.”-ii. 241.
Here is a picture to match that of Gildas. See what invasion and anarchy can do to degrade a people! How quickly the work of desolation is done! Withdraw the hand of culture from the finest garden, and it will be soon a wilderness. Let law and religion but abandon the gorgeous palace and the solemn temple, and they will become, ere many years, the saddest of ruins.
The decline of learning among the Saxons during these disorganized times, kept pace with that of religion and morality.
“ If the learning of their predecessors cast a feeble ray of light on the close of the eighth century, it was extinguished by the devastations of the Northmen, and succeeded by a night of profound ignorance. This lamentable change is amply and feelingly described by Alfred himself. ..... Such was the general ignorance among the English, that there were very few on this side the Humber (and I dare say not many on the other) who could understand the service in English, or translate a Latin Epistle into their own language. So few were they that I do not recollect a single individual to the south of the Thames who was able to do it when I ascended the throne.' ii. 245.
Indeed, it must be owned that the Saxons were always an illiterate people. It was not till towards the close of their history, that a few of the upper classes of the laity learned to read and write. It is not creditable to the clergy of those times that they accomplished so little in the work of popular education.
The Danish invasions wholly destroyed the Saxon monasteries. “Of the younger clerks some adopted the married state, others plunged with precipitation into the pleasures and vices of
the age, and by their licentiousness shocked the piety of their more fervent brethren." Some retained the monastic property while they abandoned its associated duties.
• To indulge in ease and indolence seemed to be their principal object, and the care of serving God was abandoned to the industry of mercenary substitutes."
“ The days were passed when kings exchanged the crown for the cowl. That ferocity of manners, which constant habits of warfare had inspired, equally despised the milder pleasures of society and the duties of religion : no profession could command respect but that of arms; and the monastic institute was looked upon with scorn, as calculated only for mercenaries and slaves.”-ii. 258-60.
No material change for the better took place till the ruin of the Anglo-Saxon nation was consummated by the Norman Conquest: “a revolution, which, as it transferred the English sceptre to the hands of a foreign prince, transferred also the English Church to the government of foreign prelates. But the change was confined to the persons of her rulers ; in other respects she was still unchanged. In the essential points of constitution and doctrine, of liturgy and sacraments, and of subordination to the authority of the Apostolic see, there existed no difference between the new Anglo-Norman and the old Anglo-Saxon Church.”
Thus Dr. Lingard concludes his history. To describe the agency which now destroyed the old Saxon Church, as it had before destroyed the old British Church, did not suit his purpose as a Roman advocate. Yet surely, in order to complete his work, his able pen should have recorded the principal circumstances of this catastrophe. He should have told us why and how the Pope set up a new Church in England in the eleventh century !
In the beginning of his second volume he remarks beautifully:—“Religion was the daughter of peace; she abhorred the deeds of war, and refused to bless the arms which were destined to be stained with human blood. But in the revolution of a few centuries the sentiments of men were altered." Yet the principles of religion were not altered. Christianity never blessed the arms of the invader and the spoiler. But the Pope did this often; and not the less eagerly because the destined victims were Christians of his own making, and churches of his own planting. Let us take as an example the Norman Conquest. Thierry graphically describes the Pope's concern in this business. William of Normandy appealed to Rome against Harold, and for appearance sake the question of right to the throne of England was debated in the conclave. Hildebrand insisting that the
Church should sanction the contemplated military invasion of a Christian nation, loud murmurs arose among the cardinals, some of whom said that there would be infamy in authorizing so homicidal a course. But Hildebrand prevailed. Harold and all his adherents were excommunicated, -and William received the gift of a banner from the Apostolic Church, and a ring containing one of St. Peter's hairs !
The invasion was successful. From Hastings the conqueror marched to London, which opened its gates to receive him. One cause of his success is related by the contemporary Saxon Chronicle with mournful brevity, which, though referring to Exeter, is true of most other places :" The citizens surrendered the town because their chiefs deceived them.” And they deceived them because they were divided among themselves. Of the social desolation which followed, we have no space to speak; our business now is with the Saxon Church. Lanfranc—that model primate with the Anglo-Catholics—treated the Saxon bishops as Augustine had treated the British :-“ He drove away whomsoever he pleased, and in their places put Normans, Frenchmen, Lorraines, and ecclesiastics of all countries and of whatever origin, provided they were not Englishmen; for it must be remarked, that the measure which dispossessed the entire body of the ancient prelates of England, was aimed only at those who were Englishmen by birth, and that the naturalized foreigners preserved their functions." The whole body of the monks (for the order had been revived by Alfred and St. Dunstan) was also expelled. “A cloud of adventurers came over from Gaul to pounce upon the prelacies, the abbacies, the archdeaconries, and deaneries of England. Most of these men exhibited in their new vocation the most shameless immorality,” though their patrons hypocritically talked of the bad morals of the English.
The hatred which the clergy of the Conquest bore to the natives of England, extended, Thierry remarks, even to the saints of English birth, and in different places their tombs were broken open and their bones scattered. All that had been anciently venerated in England was, by the new comers,
upon as vile and contemptible. But the violent aversion of the Normans for the English saints had a political reason, distinct from their common disdain for every thing which appertained to the vanquished. Religion among the Anglo Saxons had sometimes consisted chiefly in the bright reflection of patriotism, and certain of the saints formerly invoked in England had become such from having perished by the hand of the foreign foe in the time of the Danish invasions. Such saints, therefore, must have given umbrage to the new invaders of the kingdom, as the people's veneration for them fostered the spirit of revolt, and consecrated all the old recollections
of bravery and liberty. The foreign priests, therefore, with Archbishop Lanfranc at their head, lost no time in proclaiming that the Saxon saints were not true saints, nor the Saxon martyrs true martyrs. “ The monasteries founded by the Normans in the towns or rural districts of England, were peopled with monks from abroad who had followed in the train of the foreign army. Each fresh levy of armed soldiers was escorted by a new troop of tonsured clergy, who landed on the shores of England to gaaingner, as it was then expressed.” In a very short time scarcely a single native retained a benefice in the Church. From the highest to the lowest they were all deposed under one pretext or another.
Thus, under the new Norman government, as the killing of a Saxon was no crime in the eye of the law, so it was no sin in the eye of the Church. This led to perversions of morality, which throw a singular light on the present state of Ireland, and the remedy recently proposed for the insecurity of life. Many of the English fled for refuge to other lands—others became slaves to their conquerors—but many associated in armed bands for the recovery of their property, which had been taken by force, and avenged by assassination the massacre of their countrymen. The historians friendly to the Conquest complain bitterly of this. “ Each day," say they, " was committed a number of thefts and murders, caused by the natural villany of the people, and the immense riches of the kingdom.” “ But,” says Thierry, “ the native population considered they had a right to make the recapture of riches which had been taken from themselves, and, if they became robbers, it was for no other purpose
than to recover their own property. The social order which they rose against, and the law which they violated, had no sanctity in their estimation; and thus the English word outlaw, synonymous with banished man, robber, bandit, or brigand, thenceforward lost its disgraceful signification, and was employed by the conquered people in a more favourable light. Thus perpetual terror reigned throughout the country; for to the danger of falling by the sword of the foreigner, who regarded himself as a demi-god among brutes, and understood neither the prayers, nor the arguments, nor the excuses preferred in the language of the conquered people, was also added that of being regarded as traitors to their native land, or of being suspected to be such by the independent Saxons, who were as much maddened by their despair as the Normans were by their pride. Thus no Englishman would venture even into the neighbourhood of his own dwelling." Those who had delivered hostages to the conqueror, kept their houses barred and fortified like a town in a state of siege. “ When the hour of rest arrived, at the time of making all fast, the head of the family repeated aloud the prayers in that