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Hilarion/ fixed his dreary abode on a sandy Palestine, beach, between the sea and a morass, about A.D.328. seven miles from Gaza. The austere penance, in which he persisted forty-eight years, diffused a similar enthusiasm; and the holy man was followed by a train of two or three thousand anachorets, whenever he visited the innumerable monasteries of Palestine. The fame of
Basil8 is immortal in the monastic history of the Pontus, east. With a mind that had tasted the learning '360' and eloquence of Athens; with an ambition, scarcely to be satisfied by the archbishop of Caesarea, Basil retired to a savage solitude in Pontus; and deigned for awhile to give laws to the spiritual colonies which he profusely scattered along the coast of the Black sea.
In the west, Martin of Tours,' a soldier, a her
Martin in. . . , . ii-iii
Gaul, mit, a bishop, and a saint, established the moA. D. 370. naster ies of Gaui: two thousand of his disciples followed him to the grave; and his eloquent historian challenges the deserts of Thebais, to produce, in a more favourable climate, a champion of equal virtue. The progress of the monks was not less rapid, or universal, than that of Christianity itself. Every province, and, at last, every city of the empire, was filled with their increasing multitudes; and the bleak and barren isles, from Lerins to Lipari, that arise out of the Tuscan sea, were chosen by the anachorets, for the place of their voluntary exile. An easy and perpetual intercourse by sea and land connected the provinces of the Roman world; and the life of Hilarion displays the facility with which an indigent hermit of Palestine might traverse Egypt, embark for Sicily, escape to Epirus, and finally settle in the island of Cyprus." The Latin Christians embraced the religious institutions of Rome. The pilgrims, who visited Jerusalem, eagerly copied, in the most distant climates of the earth, the faithful model of the monastic life. The disciples of Antony spread themselves beyond the tropic, over the Christian empire of .(Ethiopia.* The monastery of Banchor/ in Flintshire, which contained above two thousand brethren, dispersed a numerous colony among the barbarians of Ireland;2 and lona, one of the Hebrides, which was planted by the Irish monks, diffused over the northern regions a doubtful ray of science and superstition.*
1 See the life of Hilarion, by St. Jerome, (tom. 1. p. 241. 252.) The stories of Panl, Hilarion, and Malchus, by the same author, are admirably told; and the only defect of these pleasing compositions, is the want of truth and common sense.
> His original retreat was in a small village on the banks of the Iris, not far from Neo-Ctcsarea. The ten or twelve years of his monastic life were disturbed by long and frequent avocations. Some critics have disputed the authenticity of his ascetic rules; but the extemal evidence is weighty, and they can only prove that it is the work of a real or affected enthusiast. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 9. p. 636—644. Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Monastiques, tom. 1. p. 173—181.
1 See his Life, and the Three Dialogues by Sulpicius Severas, who asserts, (Dialog. 1.16.) that the booksellers of Rome were delighted with the quick and ready sale of his popular work.
These unhappy exiles from social life were its rapid impelled by the dark and implacable genius of progress. ... Their mutual resolution was supported by the example of millions, of either sex, of every age, and of every rank ; and each proselyte, who entered the gates of a monastery, was persuaded, that he trod the steep and thorny path of eternal happiness.'' But the operation of these religious motives was variously determined by the temper and situation of mankind. Reason might subdue, or passion might suspend, their influence: but they acted most forcibly on the infirm minds of children and females; they were strengthened by secret remorse, or accidental misfortune; and they might derive some aid from the temporal considerations of vanity or interest. It was naturally supposed that the pious and humble monks, who had renounced the world, to accomplish the work of their salvation, were the best qualified for the spiritual government of the Christians. The reluctant hermit was torn from his cell, and seated, amidst the acclamations of the people, on the episcopal throne: the monasteries of Egypt, of Gaul, and of the east, supplied a regular succession of saints and bishops; and ambition soon discovered the secret road which led to the possession of wealth and honours.0 The popular monks, whose reputation was connected with the fame and success of the order, assiduously laboured to multiply the number of their fellow-captives. They insinuated themselves into noble and opulent families; and the specious arts of flattery and seduction were employed to secure those proselytes, who might bestow wealth or dignity on the monastic profession. The indignant father bewailed the loss, perhaps, of an only son;d the credulous maid was betrayed by vanity to violate the laws of nature; and the matron aspired to imaginary perfection, by renouncing the virtues of domestic life. Paula yielded to the persuasive eloquence of Jerome ;e and the profane title of mother-in-law of God/ tempted that illustrious widow, to consecrate the virginity of her daughter Eustochium. By the advice, and in the company, of her spiritual guide, Paula abandoned Rome and her infant son; retired to the holy village of Bethlem; founded a hospital and four monasteries; and acquired, by her alms and penance, an eminent and conspicuous station in the Catholic church. Such rare and illustrious penitents were celebrated as the glory and example of their age; but the monasteries were filled by a crowd of obscure and abject plebeians,* who gained in the cloister much more than they had sacrificed in the world. Peasants, slaves, and mechanics, might escape from poverty and contempt, to a safe and honourable profession; whose apparent hardships were mitigated by custom, by popular applause, and by the secret relaxation of discipline.11 The subjects of Rome, whose persons and fortunes were made responsible for unequal and exorbitant tributes, retired from the oppression of the imperial government: and the pusillanimous youth preferred the penance of a monastic, to the dangers of a military, life. The affrighted provincials, of every rank, who fled before the barbarians, found shelter and subsistence; whole legions were buried in these religious sanctuaries; and the same cause, which relieved the distress of individuals, impaired the strength and fortitude of the empire.'
u When Hilarion sailed from Panetonium to Cape Pachynus, be offered to pay his passage with a book of the Gospels. Posthumian, a Gallic monk, who had visited Egypt, found a merchant-ship bound from Alexandria to Marseilles, and performed the voyage in thirty days. (Snip. Sever. Dialog. 1. 1.) Athanasius, who addressed his Life of St. Antony to the foreign monks, was obliged to hasten the composition, that it might be ready for the sailing of the fleets, (tom. 2. p. 451.) * See Jerome, (tom. 1. p. 126.) Assemanni, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. 4. p. 92. p. 857
919.) and Geddes. (Church History of ^Ethiopia, p. 29—31.) The Abyssinian
monks adhere very strictly to the primitive institution.
'Cambden's Britannia, vol. 1. p. 666,667.
* All that leaming can extract from the rubbish of the dark ages is copiously stated by archbishop Usher, in his Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates, cap. 16. p. 425—503.
a This small, though not barren, spot, lona, Hy, or Columbkill, only two miles in length, and one mile in breadth, has been distinguished, 1. By the monastery of St. Columba, founded A. D. 566, whose abbot exercised an extraordinary jurisdiction over the bishops of Caledonia. 2. By a classic library, which afforded some hopes of an entire Livy; and, 3. By the tombs of sixty kings, Scots, Irish, and Norwegians; who reposed in holy ground. See Usher, (p. 311. 360—370.) and Buchanan. (Rer. Scot. lib. 2. p. 15. edit. Ruddiman.)
"' Chrysostom (in the first tome of the Benedictine edition) has consecrated three books to the praise and defence of the monastic life. He is encouraged, by the example of the ark, to presume, that none but the elect (the monks) can possibly be saved, (lib. 1. p. 55, 56.) Elsewhere, indeed, he becomes more merciful, (lib. 3. p. 83, 84.) and allows different degrees of glory, like the sun, moon, and stars. In this lively comparison of a king and a monk, (lib, 3. p. 116—121.) ha supposes (what is hardly fair) that the king will be more sparingly rewarded, and more rigorously punished.
. c Thomassin (Discipline d'Eglise, tom. 1. p. 14 J6. 1469.) and Mabillon. ((Euvres Posthumes, tom. 2. p. 115—158.) The monks were gradually adopted as a part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.
d Dr. Middleton (vol. 1. p. 110.) liberally censures the conduct and writings of Chrysostom, one of the most eloquent and successful advocates for the monastic life.
• Jerome's devout ladies form a very considerable portion of his works: the particular treatise, which he styles the Epitaph of Paula (tom. 1. p. 169—192.) is an elaborate and extravagant panegyric. The exordium is ridiculously turgid:—" If all the members of my body were changed into tongues, and if all my limbs resounded with a human voice, yet should I be incapable," &c.
'Sacroa Dei esso ccrpisti (Jerome, tom. 1. p. 140. ad Eustochium). Rufinns, (in Hieronym. Op. tom. 4. p. 223.) who was justly scandalized, risks his adversary, From what Pagan poet ne had stolen an expression so impious and absurd I
* Nunc antem veniunt plemmtpie ad hanc professiouem servitutis Dei, et ex conditione eervili.vel etiam liberati, vel propter hoc a Dominis liberal i sive liber an di; et ex vita rusticana, et ex opificum exercitatione, et plebeio labore. Angostin. de Oper. Monach. c. 22. ap. Tnomassin. Discipline de 1'Eglise, tom. 3. p. 1094. The Egyptian, who blamed Arsenius, owned that he led a more comfortable life as a monk, than as a shepherd. See Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. 14. p. 6T9.
h A Dominican friar, (Voyages du P. Labat, tom. 1. p. 10.) who lodged at Cadiz in a convent of his brethren, soon understood, that their repose was never interrupted by noctumal devotion: "quoiqu'on ne laisse pas de sonner pour 1'edificaucm de peuple."
1 See a very sensible preface of Lucas Hoistenios to the Codex Regularum. The emperors attempted to support the obligation of public and private duties; bat the feeble dykes were swept away by the torrent of superstition; and Justinian surpassed the most sanguine wishes of the monks. (Thomassin, tom. 1. p. 178!— 1799, and Bingham, lib. 7. c. 3. p. 253.)
„ .. The monastic profession of the ancientsk was
of the an act of voluntary devotion. The inconstant fanatic was threatened with the eternal vengeance of the God whom he deserted: but the doors of the monastery were still open for repentance. Those monks, whose conscience was fortified by reason or passion, were at liberty to resume the character of men and citizens; and even the spouses of Christ might accept the legal embraces of an earthly lover.1 The examples of scandal, and the progress of superstition, suggested the propriety of more forcible restraints. After a sufficient trial, the fidelity of the novice was secured by a solemn and perpetual vow; and his irrevocable engagement was ratified by the laws of the church and state. A guilty fugitive was pursued, arrested, and restored to his perpetual prison; and the interposition of the magistrate oppressed the freedom and merit, which had alleviated, in some degree, the abject slavery of the monastic discipline.01 The actions of a monk, his words, and even his thoughts, were determined by an inflexible rule," or a capricious superior: the slightest offences were corrected by disgrace or confinement, extraordinary fasts or bloody flagellation; and disobedience, murmur, or delay, were ranked in
k The monastic institutions, particularly those of Egypt, about the year 400, are described by four curious and devout travellers; Rufinus, (Vit. Patrum, lib. 2,3. p. 4145—36.) Posthumian, (Snip. Sever. Dialog. 1.) Palladius (Hist. Lansiac. in Vit . Patrum, p. 709—863.) and Cassian. (see in tom. 7. Bibliothec. Max. Patrum, his four first books of Institutes, and the twenty-four Collations or Conferences.)
1 The example of Malchus, (Jerom. tom. 1. p. 256.) and the design of Cassian and his friend, (Collation t4.1.) are incontestable proofs of their freedom; which ii elegantly described by Erasmus in bis Life of St. Jerome. See Chardon, Hist, des Sacremens, tom. 6. p. 279—500.
• See the laws of Justinian, (Novel. 123. no. 42.) and of Lewis the Pious, (in the Historians of France, tom. 6. p. 427.) and the actual jurisprudence of France, in Denissart. (Decisions, &c. tom. 4. p. 855, &c.)
"The ancient Codex Regularum, collected by Benedict Anianinns, the reformer of the monks in the beginning of the ninth century, and published in the seventeenth by Lucas Holstenius, contains thirty different rules for men and women. Of these seven were composed in Egypt, one in the east, one in Cappadocia, one in Italy, one in Africa, four in Spain, eight in Gaul, or France, and one in England.