« ForrigeFortsett »
authority which the See of Rome was usurping over the Christians of the West. In the eighth century the honour of the pall was conferred upon all Metropolitans, and (usually) was limited to them, and was made a token of the formal recognition by the See of Rome of the accession of a new archbishop.
Next, it was claimed by Pope Nicholas I. (A.D. 866), that a new archbishop was not fully made until his appointment had been confirmed by the See of Rome, and that the giving of the pall was the token of this confirmation,
Lastly, in the twelfth century, a new archbishop was required to come to Rome in person (or with special permission to send an agent) to do homage to the See of Rome, and the pall was made a badge of obedience to the See.
Gregory sends the pall to Augustine, to be worn only at the celebration of the divine service, as a token of metropolitical dignity and jurisdiction. The circumstances suggest that the gift of the pall to Augustine, with the expression of an intention to confer it also upon the contemplated Archbishop of York, was the beginning of the idea of limiting it in future to archbishops, and making it a symbol of recognition by the Patriarch of the West. It is to be noted that the Bishop of Rome never sent the badge to bishops of any other than the Western Church; and that the Eastern bishops all wore the omophorion, which in shape is like the early sixth to tenth century form of the pall, and possibly had the same honorary significance.
Gregory's plans for the organisation of the Church of the English show that the accounts which he had
received of Augustine's success had filled him with sanguine expectations of the speedy conversion of the whole people; but they indicate that he had received little definite information of the actual condition of the country and its inhabitants. These vague symmetrical plans for the organisation of the whole country into two ecclesiastical provinces, each with its twelve bishops, together with his instructions as to the treatment of the British bishops, seem to imply that Gregory fancied that the English conquest of Britain resembled the Gothic conquest of Italy and the Frank conquest of Gaul; that the conquerors were a homogeneous people, under the rule of Ethelbert the Bretwalda, and that the British bishops were scattered here and there among the conquerors as they were in Italy and France. His idea seems to be a reconstruction of the old Church of the country, with its old chief cities, London and York, as the metropolitan Sees, with the surviving British bishops and their flocks embraced in the new arrangements. He could not have understood that the country was still divided into halves, of which the eastern half was English and the western half British; that the English half was divided into eight independent kingdoms, each of which must be dealt with separately; and that the ecclesiastical organisation must perforce arise out of the national divisions; and he could hardly have realised that the British bishops whom he committed to Augustine’s instruction and rule were the bishops of the large and compact population of half the island, still unconquered and still fiercely fighting for independence.
GREGORY'S LETTERS, TO AUGUSTINE ON HIS MIRACLES,
AND TO ETHELBERT
BEDE assigns to this same period another letter to Augustine, which it will be convenient first to put on record, and then to comment upon it. “I know, most loving brother, that Almighty God, by means of your zeal and affection, shows great miracles in the nation which He has chosen. Wherefore, it is necessary that you rejoice with fear, and tremble whilst you rejoice, on account of the same heavenly gift, namely, that you rejoice because the souls of the English are by outward miracles drawn to inward grace; but that you fear lest, amidst the wonders that are wrought, the weak mind may be puffed up in its own presumption, and as it is externally raised to honour, may thence inwardly fall by vainglory.
For we must call to mind that when the disciples returned with joy after preaching, and said to their Heavenly Master, ‘Lord, in Thy name even devils are subject to us,' they were presently told, 'Rejoice not that the devils are subject to you, but rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven,' etc. i . . It remains, therefore, most dear brother, that amidst those things which, through the working of our Lord, you outwardly perform, you always inwardly judge yourself strictly, and
clearly understand both what you are yourself, and how much grace is in that same nation, for the conversion of which you have received the gift of working miracles. And if you remember that you have at any time offended your Creator, either by word or deed, see that you always call it to mind, to the end that the remembrance of your guilt may crush the vanity which rises in your heart. And whatsoever you shall receive or have received in relation to working miracles, see that you consider the same, not as conferred on you, but on those for whose salvation it has been given you. Gregory does not dispute the miracles. Their occa
. sional occurrence was generally believed; but while the superstitious accepted marvellous stories with ready belief, the wiser minds of the Church had long since taken up a more cautious and critical attitude on the subject. Something in the tone of Augustine's communication of the supposed miracles had roused the fears of his more sober-minded master, that he was, like some of the Corinthians of old (1 Cor. xii. and xiv.), allowing himself to be puffed up with spiritual pride at the possession of this supernatural power. His suggestion is, in the circumstances, admirable, that the miracles are due, not to any superior excellency in him, but to the goodness of the people which calls down these marks of divine favour upon them; the admonition is severe, to take care lest the weak mind be puffed up in its own presumption, and fall through vainglory; and the advice excellent, to crush down the vanity which rises in his heart by calling to mind his sins.
Bede cursorily speaks of miracles as influencing the first conversions among the people; and we shall read in the sequel the details of one miracle by which Augustine attempted to obtain the obedience of the British bishops, and then will be the time to consider the subject a little more closely.
Gregory at the same time sent a letter to King Ethelbert, with very many presents of various kinds. “To the most glorious Lord, and his most
excellent Son Ædelberet, King of the
English-Bishop Gregory. “ The design of Almighty God in advancing good men to the government of nations, is that He may, by their means, bestow the gifts of His mercy on those over whom they are placed. This we know to have been done in the English nation, over whom Your Glory was therefore placed, that, by means of the good things which are granted to you, heavenly benefits might also be conferred on the nation that is subject to you. Therefore, my illustrious son, do you with a careful mind preserve the grace which you have received from the divine goodness, and hasten to promote the Christian faith which you have embraced among the people under your subjection, multiply the zeal of your rectitude in their conversion, suppress the worship of idols, overthrow the structures of the temples, edify the manners of your subjects, and promote great purity of life, by exhorting, terrifying, soothing, and giving examples of good works, that you may find Him your rewarder in heaven, whose name and knowledge you shall spread abroad upon earth. For He also will render the fame of your honour more glorious to posterity, whose honour you seek and maintain among the nations.