Joseph Priestley.

A general history of the Christian church, from the fall of the western empire to the present time (Volume 2) online

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F 4 well


well in the mnnaflcry which they faid cured any
fick perfon v/ho was plunged in it fevcn times ;
but a v/oman whom thej^ plunged in it died in their
arms. One of the monks killed the cook, who
complained of the too frequent vifits that he made
to his wife ; and the fleward being drunk, and
ftriking two of the monks v/ith a knife in the rc-
feftory, they dlfpatched him with a pole. Such,
however, was the ignorance and fupeiftition ol the
people in the neighbourhood, that this m.urdered
lleward began to be confidered as a martyr, and
the jiope was obliged to inteifere, and put a flop
to the adoration they paid him.

We alfo find in this period complaints ol the
diforders offomewho, in fomc meafure, afl'umed
the charafler of monks or nuns. At the council
of Lateran in a. d. 1139, a cenfure was paffed on
fome women, who, without obferving any rule, or
living in common, would pafs for nuns, living in
their own houfes, and receiving guefts, not al-
ways of the bell chavader.

There were fome noble exceptions to this dif-
orderly flate of moaalleries in this age. Among,
no doubt, many others, may be reckoned that of
St. Denis, of which Abelard was a member, that
at Argenteueil, where Eloifa took the veil, and
her own monaftery at the Paraclet ; as well as that
ot Clugni while it was fuperintended by Peter the



Venerable. The nuns at the Paraclet were not
only pious, but learned in an extraordinary degree.
Eloifa herfelf was learned far beyond any thing we
read of in that age. Her ideas of what fhould be
required of nuns is remarkably free from fuperfti-
tion. " Rules,'" llie fays, " which were enacted
*• for the good of man fhould vary as he varies.
" Why be fo folicitous about things which are in-
*' different in themfelves, whieh finners and faints
*' may equally pra£lice. Let fm be prohibited,
" but let us have every other indulgence."

She then proceeds to difcufs the nature of ex-
ternal obfervances, treating them as things of no
value in themfelves. " Virtue alone," flie fays,
*' has merit with heaven. The true Chriftian is
" folely occupied in perfecting his moral charader.
*' It is from the will that evil flows, and not from
*' what is external to it." She propofes that her
nuns fliould aipire to perfe£tion by the praclice ot
domeilic virtues, that they fliould ftrive to be
happy in the fociety of each other, that their tem-
pers fhould not be foured by corporeal macera-
tions, or humiliating punifhments, and that hav-
ing the advantage of a found mind, and of a body
invigorated by fufhcient nouriflimcnt, they flioukl
be able to improve their underflandings by ftudy,
and edify their neighbours by fuch virtues as it is

F 5 equally


equally the duty of every citizen to pra6iice. Be-
rivgtons Abdard, p. 255.

Eloi fa's account of the employment of hef nuns
is pecuharly interefting, and even edifying. I
ihall recite the particulars. 1. " We ftrive/' (he
fays, " as far as in us lies to imitate the lives of
*' the firft Chriftians, by having all things in conj-
" mon.

2. " Our drefs is ordinary and fimple, made
" of the coarfeft wool and fljx. But in this, as in
" our beds, it we fometimes have not all that
*' feems nectfTary, let it be remembered that we
" have renounced the world, and its conveniences.

3. " We eat the bread that is laid before us,
*' fometimes wheaten, and fometimes of other grain.
*' In the refeftory our common fare is legumes,
*« or fuch roots as the garden gives us. Milk,
«' eggs, and cheefe, are rarely ferved, and filh on-
*' ly when the kindnefs of our neighbours fupplies
" us. Our wine is mixed with water. At fupper
*' only falad, or fruit, is allowed us ; and when
" thefe fail we bear it without murmuring.

4. " Only the abbefs and priorefs have a right
« to command. Without their permiffion no one
*' goes out of the inclofure, or fpeaks, or gives,
«* or receives, the fmalleft trifle.

5. " Would our ftrength permit us, we fhould
*' till our lands, and live by labour. But we

*' cannot.


*« cannot. We therefore call in the aid of lay bro-
*' thers. Any alms which the piety of the faithful
" offers we do not refufe.

6. " We rife before break of day, and pro-
** ceed to the church to matins. After this, ac-
*' cordiCj^ to the feafon of the year, we either retire
" tor a fhort time to our beds, or we meet in the
*' chapter houfe, to read or work. When the
" bell rings we again go to church, where prime is
*' faid, and after that the morning mafs. Again
" we affemble in the chapter houfe to confefs pub-
" licly our faults, and to receive correftion. Here
*' on folemn feltivals afermon is preached. After
'* chapter, if there be time, we read till tierce, or
" nine o'clock. Then follow high mafs, and
" Jext, after which we read or work till none, or
** three o'clock. At three we take our meal, fi-
" lent, and recollefted. This finifhed we return,
«' giving thanks to God, go to the church, and
" thence to the chapter houfe, where one of the
" nuns whofe duty it is makes a difcourfe to the
*' affembly. If there be time, we then remain in
" the cloifters till the hour o^vejpers. Thefe ar»
«' always fung. After vefpers we return to the
*• cloifters, where in filence and meditation we wait
" the hour of collation, fupper. After fupper
*' complin is fung in the church, and we remain in
*' prayer till, a fignal is given, at which we all rife

*• from


*' from onr knees, and then, fprinkled with holy
•' water by the fuperior, they proceed in procelfion
" thr )' the cloillers to the dormitory, where each
*' one turp.3 to her bed, and, bielfing God, retires
" to reti."

Thus, fays Mr. Berington, Hved Heloifa and
Jher nuns, and with fime accidentai variety the
fame conjinnes lo be the rules ot moft orders cf re-
liiiouj* v;omen. Ic i^ icvere, he adds, dnd ufiin-
vitirig, but every monjent of the day h.ivm^ its
.proper duty, there is no nme for idle Iptcuiaiions,
and coafequently no time for the ingrcls oi tuofc
ideas from which error, uneafinefs, and mifery
fpring. LifeoJ Alelard, p. 394.

In the Eall the emperor Manuel Comnenas
lamented the decay of monaflic difcipline. The
monks, he faid, were no way diilinguiihed from
other men, but by their drefs, their long beards,
and their external appearance. He founded a
monafterv, but provided for its maintenance out
of the pubUc revenues ; faying his anceftors had
done wrong in putting monks in pofleilion of
eftates in land, when they ought to have lived in
deferts and caverns, as having renounced the world,
and not appear in cities, and public places.

Such, however, was the fupeiflitious rcfpe6l
of this emperor for the monkifli chara6ler, that on
the unexpefted approach of death, he ordered in



gre^^ haftc a monk's drefs to be brought, and he
put it on, tho' it was obferved to be much too
fh jrt, and not at all fitting him, and in it he ex-
pired. In a manner equally un^vorthy of a man.
of fenfc, died Henry the Ton of Henry II of Eng-
land in A. D 1183 at the age of twenty-eight.
When he found himfelf at the point of death, he
put on a haircloth, and tied a cord about his neck,
by which he defired the bilhops and otlier eccle-
fiaflics who were prefent to draw him out ot his bed,
and place him on a heap of afhes. Accordingly
they did fo, putting one great ft :ne at his head,
and another at his feet ; and in that lituation he
received the viaticum.

There were (ome new orders of monks founded
in this period, which, on account of the rtputa-
tion they acquired, deferve to be mentioned. One
of them was that of Prcmontre, founded by St.
Norberi archbifhop of Magdeburg, in a. d. 1120.
The monks of this order profcffed the rule of St.
Auftin ; the founder, and his principal to lowers
bein^ canons. They wore a white habit, which
was that of the clergy, but all of wool, and his
firfl: difciples preferred old and patched garments
to new ones. There was no labour too mean for
them, their filence was continual, and they ate on-
ly once a day. Norbert particularly recommend-
ed to them three things, neataefs in the fervice of



the altar, the correftion of faults in the chapter,
and charity to the poor. His inftitute was con-
firmed by Honorius in a. d. 1126, the year in
which he was made bifhop of Magdeburgh.

A new fyftem of monkifh difciplinc was intro-
duced by Robert de ArbrifTelles. He had feveral
monafteries built within one inclofure, for monks
and nuns, all fubjedl to an abbefs ; alleging the
authority of Chrift, who recommended John to
the virgin Mary, and dire6led him to be obedient
to her as to his own mother ; tho' he more pro-
perly committed her to the care of John. This
lingular difcipline was embraced by great multi-
tudes, Mojlieim, Vol. 2. p. 410.

In this period arofe the order of Carmelites, be-
oinning with a Calabrian of the name of Berthold,
who, with a few companions, took up his abode
upon mount Carmel, and lived a life of great au-
rterity and labour. They were afterwards erefted
into a regular community by Albert the p^triarfih
of Jerufalem, and being confirmed by the pope
this order was transferred to .Europe. lb.
Vol. 2. p. 412.

In A. D. 1198 the order of the Trinity, was in-
flituted, for the redemption of Chriilian captives,
who were numerous in confequence of the crufades.
In the fhort fpace of forty years there were no iefs
than fix hundred houfes of this order.



The monaftery of Clairvaux became famous ire
this period, tho* belonging to the Ciftercian order,
by the risJoroiTS difcipline of St. Bernard. He was
born of noble parents in a. d. 1091, at Dijon.
His mother had fix fons and one daughter, all of
whom fhe devoted to God ; but Bernard, her third
fon, in a particular manner ; and all the feven at
different periods embraced the monaftic life. Ae
the a^e of twenty two he entered the monaftery of
Citeaux, with feveral young men whom he had
perluaded to join him. and there he dillinguiftied
himfelf by his humility, labour, abftraftion of
thought, and ftudy of the fcriptures. In a. d.
1115 he was made abbot of Clairvaux, then firfic
founded, a place given to the Ciftercian order hy
Hugh count of Troyes on the river Aube. The
monks of Clairvaux, under the direftion of Bern-
ard, found, it is faid, fo much fatisfaftion in (heir
mortifications, that 'hey were even alarmed at it,
thinking it more dangerous on account of its being
more fpiritual. To free them from this fcrup.e,
the authority of the bifliop of Chalons, in whofe
diocefe they were, was neceffary. This was called
the golden age of the Ciftercians. In a. d. 1119
pope Calixtus confirmed the regulations of the mo-
tnaftery of Citeaux, ordering ail the abbots to at-
tend a chapter general of that order every year.
This was the firft or^er of monks that had chapters


general; but it ferved as a model for all the

Lambert, furnamed Le Begtie, or the Stam-
merer, who had diflinguifhed himfelf by declaim-
ing againft the avaricious bidiop of Liege, being
permitted to preach by Alexander III in a. d.
1 174, afifembled a number of women, married and
fingle, perfuading them to live in continence ;
and from him they were called Beguines, devoting
themfelves to acls of charity. Alfo many women,
without making a perpetual vow, lived in com-
jnon, applying themfelves to prayer and labour.

What particularly diflinguifhed this period of
our hillory was the inftitution of feveral military
orders, in which two things before thought moft
difcordant, viz. the profefGon of arms, and the
difcipline of the monaflery, were united. Thefiifl;
of thefe was that oUhe Templars, which was infti-
tuted at Jerufalem in a. d. 1128, taking their ap-
pellation from their fixing themfelves near the fi-
tuation of the temple of Solomon. They confified
of knights of a religious turn, who promifed to
live in perpetual chaflity, obedience to their fu-
perior, and poverty, like the canons. Their fiifl;
duty was to guard the high roads from robbers,
chiefly for the fafety of pilgiims. They were only
nine in number, when fix of them prefented them-
selves at the council of Troyes in a, d, 1128, and



received a rule in writing, compofed by St.
Bernard; and pope Honorius, and the patriarch
Stephen, ordered them to wear a white habit.
According to this rule, they were to repeat the
.public oilices intire by day and night, except
when their military duty prevented them. They
were to recite thirteen paternofters for matins, fevcn
'ijoreach of the leffer hours, and nine tor vefpres ;
'becaufe thefe good knights could not read. For
each of their brethren who died they were to re-
peat an hundred paternoflers for feven days ; and
within forty days they were to give to the poor
the portion of the dcceafed. They ate rieili only
three times in the week, fundays, tuefdays, and
thurfdays. Each knight might have fix horfes,
and one fquire. All hunting with Iiounds or
hawks was forbidden them.

Another military order, which in after time ac-
quired greater celebrity than that of the Templars,
.arofe after them. It was that of the knights of the
„ hofpital of St. John at Jervfahm. While this ci-
ty was under the Mahometans, the Latins obtained
. leave to have a roonaftery near the church of the
holy fepulchre, v/here the Latin pilgrims might re-
ceive hofpitality. Thefe monks founded an hcfpi-
tal dedicated to St. John. Many donations being
made to this hofpital, thediieftors of it applied to
Rome to be exempt from the jurifdiiSiion of the
YoL, V\, G patriarch,


patriarch, and alfo from the payment of tythes;
and they had obtained various privileges under the
popes who preceeded Adrian IV. But under hira
they were formed into a regular fociety, dependent
only on the pope, con fitting of three orders,
knights, clergy, and ferving brothers. Of thefe
the knights, afier taking the habit and the crofs,
were flridlly foi bidden to quit their profeffion, ct
adopt any other inftitution. The bull of their ip-*
ilitute is dated, the 21ft of 06lober, a. d. 1154.

This profeffion of arms foon appeared to be iU
fuited to the purpofes of religion. For the knights
of both thefe orders were fo much degenerated
within fix years of their inflitution, that all writers
agree in defcribing them as the mofl abandoned of
men. In their excurfions they fpared neither
Chriflians nor Mahometans ; and by keeping no
faith with the latter, they were the chief caule o|
their own expullion from the holy land.

After the fiege of Acre in a. d. 1191, foma..
Germans eftablilhed an hofpital for the fick of their
own country, fuch as had been before at Jerufa-
lem ; and this was the origin of a third military
order in imitation of the Templars, and the knights
cf St. John, which was confirmed by pope Ce-
leftine III the 23d of February a. d. 1192, and
was denominated the order of the Teutonic knights,
jif the houfe of St, Mary at Jerufalem. They had



the fame privileges with the knights of the other
orders, but they were fubje6l to the patriarch and
the other prelates.

All thefe three orders origiixated in the Eaft;
and were occafioned by the holy war. Two others
were eftabliftied in Spain, in confequence of the
wars with the Mahometan powers in that country.
The firft was that of the knights of Calatrava, being
inftituted for the defence of that city, when it was
attacked by the Moors inA. d. 1158. It was con-
firmed by Alexander III in a. d. 1164. The
fecond was that of the knights oiSt. James of Com^
poflella, fanftioned alfo by Alexander III in a. d.'
1176. This order confifted of clergy and knights,
the latter married, but whofe wives v/ereconfidered
as filters of the order. Their obje£l was to fight
the Mahometans, or convert them. They had a
mafler, and many commandeis: They lived in
common, having no feparate property. Whea
once of the order they could never return to com-
mon life, or pafs into any other order, without
the leave of the mafler. All that they conquered,
or that was given them, belonged to the order. For
their privileges they were to pay to the pope every
year ten Malaquins, which were pieces of Spanifh




Of ScBayies that bore fomt Relation to the Mani-
chcans. 0/ the Albigenfes, and Waldenfes,

LL the labours of- the Greek empe-
rors, by argument or by open force, which was
too often had recourfe to, failed to bring over the
PauHcians, and other fe£laries whofe principles
were fimilar to thofe of the Manicheans. From
Armenia it has been feen that they went to Bul-
garia, and thence into the Weft, where they were
diftinguiflied by various names, according to par-
ticular circumftances, and often the malice or ca-
price of their adverlaries. Thofe ot this period
whom the Byzantine hillorians call Bogomiks were
evidently no other than Paulicians. This appella-
tion they received from their being obferved to
pray much, the word in their language having that
lignification. About the year a. d. iiii they
were perfeculed by the emperor Alexis, who or-
dered their chief, at that time called Bafilius, to
be burned alive at Conftantinople.

This Bafjlius appears to have been a pious an4
venerable old man, and he was betrayed into a dew
claration of his opinions by the emperor and his



brother pretending to liften to his inflruflions,
while a fecretary, concealed behind a curtain,
wrote down what he faid.

The Majfalians, and alfo the Euchiies received
their appellations from the fame honourable cir-
cumftance, as the words (ignify perfons difpofed to
pray. Mojlidm, Vol. 2. p. 441.

According to Euthymius, who publiflied an
account of thofe Bogomiles by order of the empe-
ror, and chiefly fr m the converfation between this
Bafilius and the emperor, they rejefted the Old
Tefl:ament, but received the New. They faid Lhe
Son and Spirit did not exifl before (he bath of
Chrift, fo that whatever they meant by this, they
could not have been trinitarians, nor were the Ma-
nicheans, or any of the antient G no (lies; all of whom
acknowledged only one God the Father, and Chrid
to be an inferior and created being. Previous to
the. birth of Chrill, they faid there was another
fon of God, called Satanel, who revolted, and
drew many angels into his party ; but being diiven
from heaven, he mads this vifiblc world, deceived
Mofes, and gave him the antient law. Jefus Chrift,
they faid, • came to deftroy the power of Satanel ;
but that his incarnation, death, and refurredion,
were on^y appearances to deceive him. Thele are
evidently Gnoftic fentiments, and like the antient
Gnoflics, they were advocates fur auflerity j dif-

G 3 ^ipproy;-


approving of the commerce of the {exes ; they ate
no flefli, or even eggs, and fafted every wednefday
and friday. They reje6kd the Catholic baptifm and
the eucharifl, but received their profelytes by what
they casled the baptifm of the fpirit, which is not
weJl expLiined. They held relics, and crofifes, in
great contempt, and confidered the Catholics as
Pharifees and S idducees.

The emperor Alexis Comnenus took great
pains to convert the Paulicians, who were fettled
in. Thrace, having frequent conferences with them ;
fometimes the whole day, and even the night being
taken UD with them. Three of their chiefs, on
whom his arguments had no imprefTion, were fenJ:
to Conftantinople, and confined there. Of thefe
one recanted, and was releafed, but the other two
were condemned to perpetual imprifonment. By
one means or other the emperor fucceeded in bring-
ing over whole towns and villages to the profeffion
of the Catholic do£lrine.

At a council at Conflantinople m a. d. 1140
the writings of Conftantine Chryfomalus were con-
demned, on account of theh" favouring the opinions
of the Bogorniles, as that perfons baptized in in-
fancy were no Chriftians, becaufe they had not
been inltru6led beforehand, that they who have
'their baptifm are real Chriftians, not fubjecl to the
law, 'and that Cluillians have two fouls, the one



impeccable, and the other finful. If this repre-
fentation be juft, their doctrine had fome relation
•to that of the Manicheans,

At another council in Conilantinople, in a. d,
J 143, two bifhops of thefe Bog' -miles were intro-
duced. Thg^ contended for the rebaptizing of
infants, and in ail other refpefts held the tenets
afcribed to them by Euthymius. Their writings
were condemned, and thofe who held their opi-
nions were anathematized. In the fame year, at
another council in that city, a monk called Ni-
phon was ordered to be put into clofe cullody for
approving the dodrine of the two bifhops above-
jnentioned, and curfmg the God of the Hebrews-.
Cofmas the patriarch of Conftantinople being
much attached to this Niphon, and fufpeded ot the
herefy of the Bogomiles, was depofed in a.d. 1 146.

In the Weft the do6lrinevS abovementioned had
a very wide fpread, gave greater alarm, and had
the inoft ferious confequences. In the church of
Rome the corruption and abufes were much greater
than in the Eaft, and excited greater indignation
in thofe who had any thing of the fpirit of primi-
tive Chriftianity. Whatever was the origin of the
Manichean, or Gnoflic do6liines in the Weft, we
find them in all parts of it, from Germany and
Planders to Spain and l^aly, and they lowed the
feeds of the reformation. Extraordinary as it may

P i ;^I>pear^


appear, the' fame general principles from which'
were derived the earHefl corruptions ot the Chrftian
do6lrine, in the very age of the apoflles, were the
means of bringing about the reformation of
Chriltianity^ and having efFctted this purpofe,
they are now become extin£l.

Of Tanchehne, who appeared in Flanders
about the year a. d. ti22, we know butHttle, be-
iides his declamations againft the corruptions and
abufes of the Catholics. The chtirches, he faid,
were places of proftitution, the facraments were
profanations, efpecially that of the eucharifl, and
he forbad the payment of tythes. He is faid td
have been followed by three thoufand armed men ;
but no mention is made of any violence they com-
mitted, and he himfelf was knocked on the head by
a priell. He had, however, many followers, and
the famous Norbert, founder of the order of Pre-
montie, and a celebrated preacher, was made bi-
Iho'p of Antwerp with a view to reclaim them ;
and it is laid that by the mildnefs of his addrefs
he fucceeded with many of them. There were
many of this fe6]; in Treves, fome of whom were
examined by the archbiQiop Brunon ; and others
were difcovered and burned at Soiflbns.

About the year a. d. 1 147 fome Iieretics appeared
at Cologne, two of whom, a biihop and his com-
panion, were burned by the populace, and fufFered



with great firmnefs. They called themfelves the poor
of J ejus Chrijl. They did not wholly rejeft bap-
tifm, but oniy that of infants. Evervin, the pro-
voft ot Stenfield in Wcftphalia, wrote an account
of them to Bernard, defiring that he would con-
fute them ; and to fatisfy him, he publiflied two
lermons againft them, m which he faid they were
the heretics foretold by the apoflle, forbidding to
j«arry, and abllalning from meats, Sec. not being-
at all aware, that the whole of the defcription ap-
plied much better to his own church.

But it was in the fouthern provinces of France
that opinions hoftile to the church of Rome pre-
vailed moll, and as a mofl cruel perfecution was
excited, and the tribunal of the inquifuion was in
the next period ellablillied with a view to crufb.
them, I fhall in this period recite the principal
particulars of what I find relating to them, in ths
order in which they occur.

At a council held at Thouloufe in a. d. iiig,
when Calixtus II was prefent, thofe who were
called Manicheans were condemned, as pcrfons
who, under the difguife of religion, condemned
the facraments of baptifm and the Lord's fupper,
lawful marriage, the priellhood, and other eccle-
fiaftical orders, as heretics, and orders were given

Online LibraryJoseph PriestleyA general history of the Christian church, from the fall of the western empire to the present time (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 30)