Brooke Herford.

The story of religion in England : a book for young folk online

. (page 1 of 31)
Online LibraryBrooke HerfordThe story of religion in England : a book for young folk → online text (page 1 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


^



mtmm. \ mmi mmmmmmmmmmm mmimMvmu mmmmmmmmm




The Story



m ILNGLAND



BEDDKE EERFORD







mmmMmi^immmMM ^^^^






PRINCETON, N. J.



%



BR 743~ .HTlSyr
Enai^n^^ °^ religion in



England

■^^''f- J^umoer..,..,-.,.-^..-,



THE STORY



RELIGION IN ENGLAND



A BOOK FOR YOUNG FOLK



BROOKE ^HERFORD

AUTHOR OF "tRAVERS MADGE, A MEMOIR**; " BAINES* H.STORY OF
LANCASHIRE" (tHE CONTINUATION); &C.



LONDON

C Kegan Paul & Co., i, Paternoster Square



LONDON ;

PRINTED BY WOODFALL AND KINDER,

MILFORD LANE, STRAND, W.C.



htiC. MAB1882

TKSOLOGIGilL




§Sim\f&^<^'



^^^^



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAGE

The Far-off Past— The Deuids 1



CHAPTER II.

Christianity among the Britons .



CHAPTER III.
The Saints of the British Church .... 16

CHAPTER lY.

Saint Patrick and " the Island of Saints " . . 23

CHAPTER Y.

The Saxon Invasions — British Christianity swept

AWAY 30

CHAPTER YI.
The Mission from Rome — Augustine .... 37

CHAPTER YII.

Light from the ISTorth — Paulinus— St. Aidan . . 45



IV CONTENTS.



CHAPTER YIII.

PAGE

The Great Names of the Anglo-Saxon Church . . 53



CHAPTER IX.

The Church in the Danish Invasions— Dunstan . 72

CHAPTER X.

The Church under the Normans 82

CHAPTER XI.

The Norman Church-Builders . . . . .91

CHAPTER XII.

The Monasteries— The Cistercian Revival . . . 102

CHAPTER XIII.

The Struggle "with the Papacy 112

CHAPTER XIV.
The Revival by the Preaching Friars . . . 123

CHAPTER XV.
John Wyclif 129

CHAPTER XVI.
The Lollards , 138



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XYII.

The Beginning oe the Eeformation . • • .147



CHAPTER XIX.

The Suppression of the Monasteries

CHAPTER XX.

Latimer, Bishop and Martyr .



PAGE



CHAPTER XVIII.

The Translation of the Bible— William Tyndale . 158



167



178



CHAPTER XXI.

The Catholic Reaction under Mary . . • .189

CHAPTER XXII.

Elizabeth— The First " Act of Uniformity " . • 199

CHAPTER XXIII.
John Knox and the Reformation in Scotland . . 210

CHAPTER XXIY.

The Protestants of Protestantism-Puritanism Strug-
gling



PuRiTAifiSM IN Power



CHAPTER XXY.

. 230



VI CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XXYI.

PAGE

The Eestoiiatio>% and Black Bartholomeaf's Day . 240



CHAPTER XXYII.

George Fox and the Society of Friends . . . 250

CHAPTER XXYIII.
The Scottish Covenanters 261

CHAPTER XXIX.
The Act of Toleration 275



CHAPTER XXX.
The Old Dissent 285



CHAPTER XXXI.

The Awakening of the People — Whitefield and

Wesley 295

CHAPTER XXXII.
The Free Inquirers of Last Century — Theophilus

LiNDSEY 310

CHAPTER XXXIII.
The Movement in Presbyterianism— Dr. Priestley . 321



CONTENTS. vii



CHAPTEE XXXIY.

PAGE

The N'ew Dissent— Foreign Missions .... 331



CHAPTER XXXY.

Edward Irving • . . . 341

CHAPTER XXXVI.
The Free Church of Scotland — Dr. Chalmers . . 353

CHAPTER XXXYII.
Toleration, Liberty, Equality . , . . . . 367

CHAPTER XXXYIII.
Conclusion — The Churches To-day .... 380



^>^




PEIITCETOIT
iitC, MAR 1882



THE STORY



OF



EELIGION IN ENGLAND.



CHAPTEK I.

THE FAR-OFF PAST — THE DRUIDS.

For the beginning of the story of religion in England
we must go back in thought to a dim and far-off time.
Reader, is there an old church or the ruin of some
ancient castle in your neighbourhood ? We have to
go back far beyond the time when that was built — -
hundreds and hundreds of years further back — to a
time when forests and swamps covered the greatest
part of our island, and the only inhabitants were tribes
of half-naked savages, as rude and fierce as the New
Zealanders or the Eed Indians.

We must not think of all the ancient world as
lying in this kind of barbarism. Away to the East,
around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, were
highly civilized nations, with rich, beautifully built
cities, and cultivated farms and vineyards ; with settled



2 THE STORY OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.

governments and magnificent public institutions, sucli
as temples, colleges, libraries, museums and baths.
Italy, Greece, Egypt and Phoenicia, were then the
centre of the civilized world, and when people heard of
the little island which centuries after came to be
called England, they thought of it about as English-
men or Frenchmen used to think of New Zealand
when it was first discovered. The Phoenicians were
the great traders of that ancient time, sending out
their merchant ships in every direction. The Medi-
terranean was as well known to them as a great
highway. Then they voyaged into the unknown seas,
beyond the two great headlands called the Pillars of
Hercules which close in the Straits of Gibraltar, and
found their way to some islands which we now call the
Scilly Isles, and to the neighbouring shore of a new
country which they called Britannia, and which in
time they found to be also an island. It was in some
of the further parts of Cornwall that they landed, and
they traded with the natives for tin, and probably
established trading posts and mines of their own there.
So, from time to time, there came to the geographers
and learned men of the civilized world vague tidings of
these islands, which people thought of as almost out
of the world, or at any rate as on the very edge of it.

A little later, these same islands began to be heard
of from another source. The armies of Rome, con-
quering the peoples of Gaul, and pushing their way
ever northward, came to the sea coast, and across the
narrow seas which now we call the Straits of Dover
could see another land, a land of white clifi's stretching
far away to unknown distances. The Gauls told them
dreadful stories of the fierceness of the tribes inhabit-
ing this ''Albion;" yet, nevertheless, adventurous



THE FAR-OFF PAST. 3

traders from Marseilles and other rich cities had been
making their way there and had brought back rich
merchandise not only of tin, but of lead, and skins,
and hunting dogs of wonderful breed. Moreover, they
told that gold and silver were plentiful among the
natives, and it began to be thought of as a land worth
conquering. So in the year 55 B.C., Julius Caesar,
at the head of two Eoman legions, crossed the Straits,
and after a year or two of fighting compelled the tribes
along the southern coast to acknowledge the Eoman
government. Then, however, he had to go back to
Kome, and nothing more was done. Nearly a hundred
years passed by without the natives being much dis-
turbed, but the traders still went, and the richness of
the island came to be more known. At last, in the year
43 of the Christian era, the Komans set to work in
Earnest to conquer Britain, and from this time we begin
to hear something trustworthy.

Our common ideas of the ancient Britons are more
like the impressions which the Eomans got from the
vague stories of the Gauls than like what they
actually found. The Britons were by no means such
mere savages as they had been described. They had
among them something of trade and agriculture.
They knew how to fortify their villages with ditches
and stockades, and they fought so bravely that in some
parts of the country they were able for a long time to
defy the Eoman legions. They had dresses of skins,
and rudely woven shawls of wool much like the j^laids
of the Highlanders ; and golden bracelets and brooches
are still sometimes found in their graves, showing how
skilful they must have been in finding and working the
precious metals. Most of all, however, their chariots,
with sharp blades stretching from the axle-trees, drawn

E 2



4 THE STORY OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.

by hardy little horses, and used with wonderful agility
in their battles, excited the admiration of the Romans,
among whom chariots were little used except for shows
and sports.

It is their religion, however, with which we have
especially to do. The Britons were a very religious
people, and it was their fierce religious patriotism
which formed the greatest hindrance to the Roman
conquest. The Romans had heard of the fame of the
British priests before they landed. The Gauls, who
were of the same religion, spoke about them with great
veneration, and told how those who wished to be
thoroughly instructed in their faith used to go over to
these British priests, or Druids, as they were called.
The Romans found that these Druids formed a strong
religious order, and had immense power over the
people.

It is easier to say what the Druids were than what
Druidism was. Among the different Celtic tribes which
inhabited Britain, we can dimly see a race of men of
better dress and higher knowledge, who were among all
the tribes, but were of no tribe themselves — a separate
and higher religious caste, reverenced all over the
island, and probably through a large part of Gaul.
These were the Druids. They were not chiefs, but
the awe with which they were regarded, and the fact
that, while the tribes were divided, and often hostile,
the Druids dwelling among them all were one united
order, gave them a power really greater than that of
the chiefs. No tribe dared to touch their persons by
its laws, or to touch their property for its taxes. They
used no weapon, yet at their intervention every weapon
was sheathed and contending chiefs had to stop their
quarrels. They were the prophets, priests, and bards



THE DRUIDS. 5

of the tribes. The chiefs were proud to place their
sons with them to be instructed. They kept the
tradition of the ancient laws, which even the chiefs
must not violate. They had some knowledge of
astronomy ; and, reading the stars, were thought by
the people to read the future, to have strange powers
of blessing and cursing, and to be able to speak with
the gods.

The chief abode of the Druids was the island of
Anglesea, where the High Priest or Arch-Druid lived
in mystic seclusion, and where it is believed that there
were great settlements of Druids, dwelling in some
sort of monkish communities. But throughout the
whole country they had their dark groves, where,
beneath ancient oaks, or within sacred circles of huge
stones, which some think to have been the work of
earlier races still, they offered their sacrifices, performed
their magical incantations, and worked themselves up
into a religious frenzy which the people, and probably
they themselves, took for inspiration. Early traditions
tell of great yearly festivals of their religion kept
throughout all the tribes, processions of white-robed
priests at the new year (which they counted from about
the tenth of March) to cut the sacred plant of the
mistletoe from the oak with a golden knife, and to
sacrifice a white bull. The first of May was a great
festival to the Sun, when mighty fires were lighted
on their cairns and high places. Midsummer- day
also had its sacrifices and prayers, to procure a bless-
ing on their fields and orchards ; and on the last night
of October there was a great religious celebration,
when every household had to put out its fire and to
light it again next day with sacred fire from the altar.
And, besides these great occasions, each neighbourhood



6 THE STORY OF UELIGlON IN ENGLAND.

had its smaller local festivals for the gods of its own
mountain, lake, or stream.

Some of their rites were of a sterner and more
dreadful kind. At times they offered human sacrifices.
The Gauls told Julius Caesar that on the occasion of
some great calamity, they would make a huge figure of
a giant in basket-work, and filling it with criminals or
prisoners taken in fight, they heaped up dry grass and
wood about it, and burnt the whole to ashes. If any
dreadful crime had been committed, there must be
human blood shed to appease the anger of the gods ; or
if some enterprise of peculiar importance w'as to be
undertaken a human sacrifice must be offered, from the
nature of whose dying struggles they thought they
could foretell the future. These victims were usually
prisoners or persons marked for some crime, but it w^as
told in after times that if there was no one of this kind
available, they singled out for their sacrifice the person
who had come last to their religious assembly !

Concerning the religious ideas which lay behind all
these rites and festivals, very little is known. Some
people believe that among the Druids themselves there
was a secret wisdom of a very pure and high kind,
such as the belief in One Great Spirit, and in the
immortality of the soul. What is taken to support this
idea is the fact that they had no idols or images in their
worship. But then, on the other hand, it is certain
that they kept up the belief in many gods among the
common people, and the Romans, hearing of these,
called them by the names of such of their own gods —
Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and so forth, — as seemed to
come nearest to the native idea. These, however, were
mere guesses. The nearest approach to certainty is
that the Druids held to some kind of worship of the



THE DRUIDS. 7

heavenly bodies, and their name of ''Bel" for the
Sun-god, to whom they lighted their May-day fires, is
so like that of Baal, that it has been thought by many
to indicate some connection between their worship and
that of the Phoenicians and Philistines. Others, how-
ever, think it more likely to be connected with the old
Teutonic deity Balder.

These Druids the Eomans found to be their bitterest
and most relentless foes. It was natural it should be
so. They alone among the native tribes could under-
stand something of the real character of this Eoman
power which had been pushing onwards, year by
year, so slowly yet so irresistibly, through Gaul and
Germany, and was now claiming Britain also for its
own. Besides, the Druids knew that the victory of the
Roman power v»'ould be the destruction of their own
subtle and all-pervading authority. So, again and
again they roused the tribes to fierce resistance, awed
them by their warnings, stirred them to frenzy by their
war-songs. It was in vain, however, and their patriot-
ism only made their own fate more bitter. Usually,
when the Romans conquered a new province, they left
the vanquished people to follow their own religion in
peace. But Druidism was too powerful and irreconcilable
to be treated in this fashion. After a time severe laws
were passed against it by the Roman governors. The
Druids were hunted from place to place. At length
Anglesea, their last stronghold, was laid waste. Their
groves were cut down, their altars were overthrown,
and, after fierce and desperate fighting, they themselves,
in great numbers, w^ere burned in the huge fires which
the historian Tacitus says that they had prepared for
the expected Roman prisoners.

From this time the power of the Druids was broken.



8 THE STORY OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.

Much of Druidism, however, long survived. In the
remoter refuges of Ireland and Scotland it remained for
a time little disturbed, and in country places through-
out the land its superstitions lingered for ages. Nearly
a thousand years later, after Saxons had succeeded
Komans, and Danes had overwhelmed Saxons, there
was so much of the old Druid superstition still sur-
viving that King Canute had to pass laws against
worshipping " the sun, moon, fire, rivers, fountains,
hills, or trees and wood of any kind ;" and centuries
later yet, the old stone circles and cromlechs were still
regarded with awe and fear by the common people.

Here and there those rude monuments still remain.
Most wonderful of all these is Stonehenge, on Salisbury
Plain, but smaller circles of stones are found in many
places throughout these islands, and indeed similar
circles have been found in France and Spain, and even
as far as Palestine, Sinai, and India. In some places,
also, mounds and circles of earth, too large to have
been huts, too small to have been forts, are met with,
which are thought to have been at one time covered
with the sacred groves of the Druids — perhaps to have
served as their places of worship or courts of justice.
More curious traces, however, may still be found.
Probably our May-day sports originated in the May-day
festival of the Druids. The bon-fires of Midsummer-
eve, and Hallow-een or All- Saints' Day, which are still
kept up in different parts of England and Scotland,
are relics of the old Bel-tein, or Bel-fires, which the
country people used to light before the Eomans came
to Britain. And every spray of misletoe that is hung
up at Christmas is really an unconscious memorial of
that oldest relimon of our land.



CHAPTER II.

CHRISTIANITY AMONG THE BRITONS.

How did Christianity first make its way into this
country ? What an interesting story it would be, if we
could know who it was that first stood forth among those
ancient British tribes (whose native Druid priests had
been almost exterminated by the Romans), and preached
to them the simple religion of Christ. In after ages,
indeed, many stories about this 'grew up, nobody knew
how, and the monks took them as the best accounts
they could get, and wrote them down as history. Thus
there was one legend that St. James had come to Britain
preaching the gospel ; another told of Simon Zelotes
as the first British missionary ; others ascribed the
work to St. Peter or to St. Paul. The monks of Glas-
tonbury Abbey maintained that the glory belonged to
Joseph of Arimathea— who, they said, had been sent
over with twelve disciples by St. Philip, and, moreover,
had founded their own abbey ; and they told how he had
planted his staft' in the ground there, where he made
his abode, and it had taken root and grown into a thorn-
tree. And there, in the abbey-close, a grand old thorn-
tree — that very tree, they said— might be seen still
standing, and they handed down a wonderful story of
how it always flowered at Christmas, so that their
account must be true !

But these are all mere monkish legends. The most



10 THE STORY OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.

likely thing is that the earliest Christianity came in
unobserved among the Komans, and the story of its
gradual propagation among the natives is part of the
general story of the Eoman conquest.

A very interesting story that conquest is. The
Britons made a long and noble struggle, but when the
Romans once resolutely set themselves to conquer there
could only be one end. The tribes disputed their pro-
gress step by step, stopped their way with pointed
stakes across the rivers and along steep earthworks. It
cost Vespasian, the Eoman general, afterwards em-
peror, thirty battles to master the south coast and the
Isle of Wight. And when peace was made it was
continually broken again. Now Caradoc (whom the
Romans called Caractacus) roused up the tribes of
South Wales, and made his last stand behind the vast
earthworks which still bear his name at Caer-Caradoc,
in Shropshire, where they may yet be traced skirting
the mountain side for miles ; but he was defeated and
carried captive to Rome. Now Boadicea, the fierce
Queen of the Iceni, the natives of Norfolk and the
eastern counties, maddened by Roman outrages, aroused
her people, made a desperate effort to throw off the
Roman yoke, massacred the settlers in Verulam (after-
wards St. Albans) and London, and ravaged all the
south country ; but only to be crushed at last and to
take poison in her despair. Gradually the southern
part of the island settled down in peace. Then, in the
year 79, came the greatest of all the Roman rulers of
Britain, Agricola, who marched northwards and made
the great Roman roads which may still be traced in
places all through Cheshire, Lancashire, and Yorkshire.
Forming camps, and planting settlements as he went
through England, and then doing the same through the



CHRISTIANITY AMONG THE BRITONS. 11

Lowlands of Scotland, he reduced the whole country to
a Eoman province. "When they were once fairly mas-
tered, the Britons seem to have settled down peacefully
with their conquerors, and to have readily received their
higher civilization. Eoman towns sprang up in all
parts of the country. "Wherever we have the name of
a town ending in " caster " or *' Chester," there we may
be sure was one of the old Koman castra, or camps,
around which the towns grew up. Deep below the
present surface of London, York, Chester,. Lancaster,
Manchester, Leicester, Lincoln, Ilkley, and many
other places, are still occasionally discovered the foun-
dations of Eoman buildings, or fragments of Eoman
weapons and pottery. Here and there are found the
walls and pavement of some villa where lived the
Eoman governor of the district, and ancient Eoman
tools have been met with in the disused workings of
old mines. So the Eoman garrisons and colonists
settled down in the midst of the people — a superior
race, their leaders and teachers in the arts of peace.

When these peaceful times came, among the things
which the natives gradually learned, was the religion
held by some of the best of these Eoman settlers —
Christianity. Christianity had then been in existence
in Eome for a hundred years or more, and though
despised by the learned and great, had thousands of
followers among the common people. Thus wherever the
legions of the empire went, there went Christians among
them, and these Christians would be, of all the Eomans,
the only ones who cared much about spreading their
religion. Moreover, every time that new persecutions
broke out at Eome, Britain, where no such persecutions
had been attempted, would be a refuge for many, and
all these would help to make Christianity better known.



12 THE STORY OF RELIGION IN ENGLAND.

To such an extent had this gradual missionary work
been going on, that by the year 209 we find Tertullian
declaring that even ''those parts of Britain into which
the Eoman arms had never penetrated were become
subject to Christ."

How this missionary work was done we can only
gather from what we know in general of the times and
the people. Christianity would be a simpler thing in
remote Britain than in the East. It would have little
to do with the luxuries, the political intrigues, and the
endless controversies which were already corrupting the
Churches of Kome and of the learned and wealthy East.
We have to picture to ourselves simple-hearted Chris-
tian men and women settling down here and there, and
trying to convert the natives in their neighbourhood to
their faith in the one great God, the heavenly Father,
and in the crucified Christ ; by-and-by would come
wandering missionary priests, in their rude leather
jerkins — for ecclesiastical robes were little known as
yet — preaching more fully, and contrasting the doctrines
of the Gospel with the old Druidism, or with the idol-
worship of the Eomans. These would urge the people
to be baptized, would teach them the commandments
and a few simple prayers, perhaps the short creed
which was called the Apostles' Creed (though there is
no ground whatever for supposing it was really written
by the Apostles), and which was the only one then
drawn up ; and would form them into little churches
with some settler or native as elder or deacon over
each. Here and there such a missionary would make
his home among them, be himself their priest, and
gradually convert the country round, till he would come
to be looked upon as their bishop, perhaps even as
their saint. It must have been a very plain, simple



CHRISTIANITY AMONG THE BRITONS. 13

kind of Christianity, with a good deal of the old linger-
ing superstition of the country mingling with it. Such
a missionary would find the people still regarding with
awe the old stone circles and sacred groves of the
Druids, and the days and seasons of the old Druidical
year. He would teach them that those places w^ere the
haunts of devils, and on the old sacred days he would
persuade them to hold, instead. Christian holidays and
festivals of their village churches. As time w^ent on, and
more of the people fell into the ways of the new religion,
it would become more of an organized Church, such as
it already was in the more civilized countries about the
Mediterranean. There were no regular monasteries as
yet, but tidings would be brought of the holy men who
lived lonely hermit lives in the Eastern deserts, and
the old traditions which would still be told among the
people of the sacred communities of Druids and Druid-
esses, would make it natural for the fervently religious
to follow such ways in order to live what was thought
a holier life. Some man holier than the rest w^oiild
take up his abode in a desert place, and people would
resort to him for advice and blessing, and some would



Online LibraryBrooke HerfordThe story of religion in England : a book for young folk → online text (page 1 of 31)