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About Google Book Search Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. Durham , F. I have extolled their works in my Introduction, and I now take off my hat to them in a more formal way.
An author's debts can often only be paid by acknowledgment and gratitude. My purpose in writing that work was not to publish a minute and complete monograph of the great Pope.
That had already been done in a much larger book by Mr. Dudden, — but to give an account of him such as would enable my readers to understand what manner of man it was who first conceived the notion of sending a Christian mission to the English race ; what were the surroundings in which he lived; what was the position he filled in the drama of European politics at the beginning of the seventh century ; what was the nature of the administrative changes he effected ; how he governed the Church and its possessions ; how he dealt with the secular rulers of Europe; what was his mental attitude towards the great theological problems of his day and how he affected the future history of thought, especially of religious thought.
To give, in fact, in sufficient detail and with as complete accuracy as I could command, a picture of the Man and the Pope whose scholars and whose friends were the first vlH PREFACE missionaries to the English race, and who brought with them what he had taught them.
That work I meant to be the foundation-stone for a further volume in which the story of the Pope's English mission should be told as completely as I could tell it.
This volume I now offer as a victim to my critics. I feel, as I have always felt, that these islands are, both geologically and historically, only de- tached fragments of a much larger country, and that neither their geology nor their history can be understood without a continual reference to the geology and history of the other European lands.
Especially is this the case with their religious history. Whatever polemics there may be about the ties of the earlier Church here, generally known as the British Church, there can be no question whatever that the Church of the English was the daughter of Rome. Not a scrap of their writings if any ever existed has survived. The documents containing the story of their mission, scanty as they are, de? For an account of the Christianity they planted here, its dogmatic leanings, its ritual, and its general policy, we must turn to the voluminous writings of their devoted father and master, Gregory.
Hence the necessity for a careful survey of the great Pope's life and works as a preparation for any satisfactory study of the mission.
This, as I have said, I made in the previous volume. The present volume deals with the history of Gregory's venture from its inception to its close on the death of Archbishop Deusdedit, when the Epis- copal succession derived from Augustine came to an end, and had to be revived under more promising conditions by Archbishop Theodore.
It does not profess to deal with the British or with the Scotic ChurcL With both of them that mission had slight ties and both of them have an entirely different history, with which I may deal on another occasion.
It is not a very exhilarating story that I have to tell, for, notwithstanding a good deal of romantic writing by soft-hearted and sentimental apologists, the mission was essentially a failure.
The conditions were, in fact, difficult and unpromising. The part of England then possessed by the English, instead of being governed by one sovereign or one royal stock, as in Gaul, was broken up into several rival principal- ities, at continual feud with each other.
They had only one common occasional tie, in the person of a specially redoubtable person among the rival princes X PREFACE who became for a while supreme, and for a while held the hegemony of the whole country, which presently passed to another strong man. This dis- integrated condition of the community presented great obstacles to any concerted action on the part of the champions of a new faith.
I hope I have made it plain in the previous volume that Gregory, although not technically a monk, was a very ideal monk in his heart and aspira- tions. Religion meant very largely with him a devotion to asceticism and a sacrifice and surrender of this life, in order maybe to purchase another and a happier existence beyond the clouds.
He would have liked the whole world to be a monastery and all mankind to be clad in homespun, to abnegate all kinds of aesthetic living, and to devote them- selves to penitence and prayer. Hence he forms the one heroic 6gure in the history of monkery. He idealised the monkish life and monkish stand- ards, and he accepted as more or less divinely in- spired the mystical thought and the materialised dreams and imaginings which pursue men when they press asceticism to the verge of endurance and starve their bodies and punish them with pain and suffering, until their morbid thought has become PREFACE xi more or less ecstatic and epileptic.
His Dialogues prove this most completely. With this ideal of life, he was the first Churchman of great parts who deliberately placed the monk's rdle and career above that of his secular brethren.
Parish priests who had to live a much more trying life in, and continually to associate with, the world, its diseases and its crimes, and to apply such remedies to them as they could with their frail weapons, had, he thought, a humbler sphere. Gregory not only placed the life of a secular priest at a lower ideal level than that of a monk, but he deemed it largely inconsistent with a monk's vocation.
He was also re- sponsible for introducing the germs of what became, perhaps, the most pernicious of all innovations on the Christian polity of primitive times — namely, the exemption of monasteries from episcopal supervision and the loosening of their disciplinary regimen.
The fact that the missionaries who came to evangelise the English were monks and not secular clergy, and the consequences that followed, are so important that I must be forgiven for enlarg- ing somewhat on the ideals of the early monks and their methods of attaining them.
The theory underlying the monastic life has some difficulty in justifying itself by an appeal to the New Testament. The institution was not of Christian origin. It had close ties with some forms of Jewish asceticism as practised by the Essenes and other Jewish sects among whom the secluded life had be- come widely prevalent at the opening of the Christian xii PREFACE era, and it was with one of these sects that Christ's precursor, John the Baptist, probably passed the greater part of his career.
But we find nothing re- sembling monasticism in the teaching of Christ or embodied in His scheme. The central and original idea of a monk's life was not the bettering of the world and the leavening of his fellow-men with higher aspirations, by working among them, and teaching those who were weaker, more ignorant, or more un- fortunate than himself how to spend more profitable and joyful lives.
Not at all. The helping and bettering of others was to him a very distant vision. What he had to do was to save his own soul, and asceticism, in theory, means the ransom of a soul which is by nature wicked, by means of a lifelong penance and punishment and prayer.
Much more than documents.
According to this theory, a man must cut himself off from the world and from his fellow-men. He should neither consort with them nor even exchange thoughts with them except when literally necessary, but rather devote himself to self-contemplation and introspection. In- stead of treating the body as of equal importance and dignity with the soul, with which it is united by a necessarily indissoluble tie as long as life continues, the link was interpreted by the monks as an unholy PREFACE xiit alliance between a body ruled by passions and a soul capable of higher things.
The only way to eventually release the soul from its degrading bondage was to continually mortify and punish the body, to compel it to resist all its natural crav- ings and appetites and to deny it everything which could be deemed pleasure or happiness or joy.
This, as we have seen, was the express teaching of St Gregory, the great aposde of the monks.
He continually urged upon his disciples the duty of perpetual penance so as to secure a safe haven for themselves in a future life. In order to gain this future, painted by him as one of ineffable happiness, he held that pain, misery, and self-imposed torture were the most fitting apprenticeship and preparation.
This was the typical monk's theory of life in the earlier centuries after Christianity, and it was rigidly practised by the lonely hermits and anchorites. Presendy, certain of these hermits found it convenient for various reasons, and notably that of protection against external enemies, to associate themselves in communities living close together.
In these they prayed on certain days in the same church and sometimes they fed together in the same room, while their various cells were enclosed by one pro- tecting wall. They, however, kept up the initial idea of rigid seclusion in other respects. Each had his own hut, where he lived and slept and prayed ; the common life being as much restricted as possible, and the solitary and silent one encouraged.
These communities were presided over by some autocratic xtv PREFACE old member of the body with a reputation for greater sanctity, which often meant a capacity for sustain- ing life under especially trying conditions. Such communities were to be found all over the Christian East, and are still the models on which the monas- teries of the Greek Church are constituted.
A Greek laura is a mere aggregation of hermits. This continual struggle against all the instincts and the natural desires of men and women and of the tender promptings of their hearts, was no doubt more easy to maintain among the single anchorites living apart and under the close eye of pupils and devotees than in the enclosed communities, where the afflatus and extreme tension had a tendency to relax and the discipline to become affected.
They proceeded to qualify the stringent extravagance of penance, and of almost continuous prayer and introspection, by some other employment which should be salutary both for the health of the body and the health of the mind ; and otherwise to regelate and systematise the life of the brotherhood.
Such a body of regula- tions was known as a Rule, and there were several such put together by the founders of various in- dividual monasteries, or of groups of monasteries.
Benedict introduced a great deal of sane human wisdom and good sense into his monasteries, and especially encouraged, among other things, the element of well-regulated labour of the body, to act as a tonic to the continual mental strain which had a tendency to produce hysteria and paralysis of the mind.
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Under Benedict's Rule again, there grew up a corporate devotion and loyalty among the brethren, first of a monk to his own monastery, and then of each member of a house to those of any other house in the same Order. This family feeling among the monks was fostered by the largely democratic character of the Benedictine constitution. Thus a remedy was found for the strongly individualised and self-centred life practised by the anchorites. The new departure had excellent results in other ways.
As the monasteries increased in size and wealth by the gifts of the pious, their posses- sions needed more and more skill in manage- ment.
The establishments became more and more, not merely communities for practising continual asceticism and prayer, but great farms and manu- factories where everything necessary for the life and health of the community was studied and practised. Not only was farming pursued with skill and know- ledge, but road-making, and draining, and convey- ing pure water for drinking, and making ponds for stocking fish, and plantations for providing timber and firewood, were all practised in most scientific xvi PREFACE fashion.
All this involved a condition of things as far removed as can be conceived from the ideals of St. Pachomius and St. This state of things, however, took a long time to grow. The monks who were sent to convert the rough, heathen English were not men of business and men of the world of the type of their later descendants at Malmesbury or Peterborough or Gloucester, who were accustomed to deal with men and to face difficulties in doing so, but were very simple folk, who had virtually lived like hermits and thought like hermits.
Those who have pictured for us the mission of Augustine and his brethren have too often had in their minds not St. Gregory's pupils, but monks like those of St. Albans in the days of its glory, or of Downside in our own day. Even in later times the useful work done by the monks in civilising the Western World must not allow us to forget that there was another side to the question. In theory, the life of the monastery was regulated by the Rule say of St. The growth of wealth and the manifold employments and responsibilities of great monasteries must, however, have interfered greatly with discipline and with the ideal monk's life.
Especially did it do so as the life in the richer monasteries became more luxurious, more attractive, and indeed far more comfortable, than that in the feudal castles or the lonely manor-houses of the laity. This led to men repairing thither to pass easy lives rather than with rigid ideas of asceticism.