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DUCTION

Monastic

A.D. 531.

education,

anarchy, and misery of their age, ready to bid adieu to the INTROworld and its cares, so that they might pass the remainder of their days in holy duties and tranquil occupations, in conception of fasting, meditation, and prayer. In precisely the same spirit life. St Benedict reared on Monte Cassino the first monastery Foundation of his order, and drew up those rules for its observance Monastery of whereby self-mortification, isolation from mankind, the ex- Cassino, clusion of all social and patriotic virtues in the cultivation of a lonely perfection, were indicated as the chief principles of the religious life.

Inasmuch, accordingly, as the monk renounced the world, Influence of his education was conceived solely with reference to those view upon acquirements necessary to the performance of his monotonous routine of duties. The Benedictine's knowledge of music was given him only that he might chant the Gregorian antiphony; of arithmetic and astronomy, that he might rightly calculate the return of Easter; of Latin, that he might understand the Fathers and the Vulgate; and these acquirements, together with a slender knowledge of geometry and versification, made up, for centuries, the ordinary culture of his order. That the education of those times was that of the monk, and consequently breathed only of the monastery, has indeed been the superficial criticism with which the subject has often been contemptuously dismissed, but a somewhat closer investigation would seem to reveal to us another element in the motives and sentiments then

prevalent, which should not in justice be left unrecognized.

The teaching of the Latin Church at the time when, under Gregory the Great, she laid the foundations of her temporal power, rested on the authority of three Fathers,— Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine'. From the first she st Augustine. derived her conception of sacerdotal authority ; from the d. 430. second, ber attachment to monasticism ; from the third, her dogmatic theology; and to these three conceptions the most remarkable phenomena in European history may undoubtedly be referred. In the writings of Augustine, especially, the veloped by

b. 354.

Theory de

this Father.

1 Milman, Hist. of Latin Christianity, Book 11 c. 4.

INTRODUCTION.

The age of

oracle of thirteen centuries,'—is to be found the key to the belief and practice of the Church in the Middle Ages.

The different treatises by the bishop of Hippo that have descended to us are voluminous, but his philosophy of history

is set forth in a work of comparatively moderate compass,His De Civi- the De Civitate Dei. From the earliest times, a very solemn tate Dei.

belief had prevailed with more or less intensity in the different sections of the Church that the day of judgement and the end of the world were at hand. As the troubles of the empire multiplied, this conviction grew and deepened alike in the eastern and western communities. It was held by Clemens and Tertullian, by Origen and Cyprian, by Athanasius and Lactantius, by Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Jerome, but it devolved on Augustine to develope it in its full significance

and logical connexion with human history. The age in St Augustine, which this father lived was that wherein the fabric of the

empire, already undermined and shaken, began actually to go to pieces. During his lifetime he saw the Eternal City become the abode of the Goth; he died while the Vandal was laying siege to the city of his own episcopate. Paganism, in its terror and despair at the fast thickening calamities, affirmed that the ancient gods, incensed at the neglect of their worship, had thus manifested their displeasure; Christianity, it was declared, was responsible for the sack of Rome and the defeat of the imperial armies. In reply to such accusations, Augustine put forth the De Civitate Dei. An exposition of the theory so elaborately unfolded in the twenty-four books of this work would be here misplaced,

but the leading sentiment may be stated in a few words. Anticipations Rome had indeed fallen, replied the Christian Father, nor the Roman could it well be otherwise; for she represented an order of Empire.

things fated to be overthrown; the earthly city, with its superstitions and its crimes, its glory and renown, was destined to give place to another city, the city of the New Jerusalem. A sublime theocracy was to supersede the rule of the Cæsars. No vision of temporal power, like that which invested the seven hills, rose before his eyes; the city he beheld was that which he of the Apocalypse saw descending

INTRODUCTION.

tion.

from heaven, whither should be brought the 'glory and the honour of the nations. Time itself should cease to be when the true Eternal City had appeared.

In brief the advent of the new reign necessarily implied The applicathe termination of the old, and the calamities of the age were but the funeral knell of the Roman empire. But what imported the downfall of an empire, when all earthly things were destined so soon: to pass away? A question of far deeper moment, of a far closer personal interest, pressed on men for a solution. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat'?' The language of St Peter was but echoed by Augustine with a greater particularity of time and place.

It is easy to perceive that events after Augustine's time Seeminz cor, would certainly not tend to dispel the belief to which he thus the theory gave expression; that as the Visigoth in Spain, the Frank subsequent in Gaul, the Lombard in Italy, trampled on the remnants of ancient civilization,—that as Christianity itself expired in Africa, under the advance of the victorious Crescent, while the sword and famine reduced once fertile and populous regions to desolate wastes,—men's hearts might well begin Despair the to fail them at the contemplation of so hopeless a future. feeling. We can well understand that the ordinary aims and pursuits of life appeared frivolous and unmeaning, as the expected crisis seemed yearly to draw nearer, heralded by each successive disaster; and that the religious or monastic life might thus come to be regarded as the only adequate expression of one profound conviction, the conviction, to use the forcible language of Guizot,-of 'l'impossibilité de tout long travail et de tout paisible loisir.' The monastery indeed which St Benedict founded on Monte Cassino, and which the Lombard soon after levelled to the ground, affords alike in its conception, its institution, and its fall, an illustration of the

1 2 Peter iii 18.

DUCTION.

b. 543. d. 604.

characteristics of those times. In its conception, as an effort to escape from the disquiet of the age, and a renunciation of all hope and interest in the pursuits of mankind; in its institution,—supplanting as it did a temple of Apollo where the pagan peasant still brought his offerings and paid his vows, but where the monk now cut down the once sacred grove, and broke in pieces the idol ; in its fall,—as participating in the general devastation that marked the progress of the barbarian, hostile alike to the ancient civilization and the new faith.

The terror and despair which the Lombard spread through

Italy imparted new force to the prevalent conviction, and the Gregory the policy of Gregory the Great affords a remarkable illustration

both of the hold which these forebodings had gained on the foremost minds of the period, and their collateral effects on learning and education. The activity and energy displayed by this ecclesiastic in consolidating the institutions and extending the authority of his see, might appear at variance with such a theory, were we not also to remember that his

efforts were undoubtedly conceived in subordination to View held by exclusively religious feelings. It was thus that while he

laboured to raise his country from physical and moral degradation, to husband and augment the patrimony of the Church, to convert the heathen, to bring about a unity of faith and of forms of worship, he is still to be found anticipating, with an earnestness beyond suspicion, the approach of the final consummation. “What,' he says, at the close of a long enumeration of the calamities that had befallen Italy, 'what may be taking place elsewhere I know not, but in this country, wherein we dwell, events plainly no longer foretell the end but exhibit it in actual process; in a letter to the converted Ethelbert, the Bretwalda, he again declares that signs, such as those amid which St Benedict had foretold that Rome should be overthrown, fearful portents in the heavens and tumults in the air, war, famine, pestilence, and earthquake, all point to the same conclusion”; elsewhere he

this father.

1 • Appropinquante autem eodem mundi termino, multa imminent quæ

ante non fuerunt, videlicet immutationes aeris, terroresque de cælo, et

DUCTIOX.

relates how the spirit of Eutychius the martyr appeared in a INTROvision to the bishop of Ferentina, urging him to watchfulness with the thrice reiterated warning, Finis venit universo carnis;' in another passage he compares the age to the early dawn, with the light of eternity already traversing the gloom and darkness of time!

That, with such convictions, he should have set small consideravalue on merely secular learning becomes sufficiently intelli- snarere to gible, and it might have serred, perhaps, in many instances, his character. to diminish the asperity with which his memory has been treated, had this feature been more frequently borne in mind. Puritanism, in later times, has reproduced his illiberality with far less to plead in justification. Whether we owe to him the loss of the Palatine library or that of the missing decades of Livy, we need not here stop to enquire, but it is certain that his hostility to pagan learning is but imperfectly explained if attributed solely to the prejudices of a bigoted and unlettered spirit. It took its rise rather in what appeared to him the utter irrelevancy of such studies to the religious life, as that life was conceived under the influence of one overwhelming idea. He inherited in all its force the theory of Augustine, but he lacked the sympathetic genius and the culture of the African Father. In education, that alone appeared to him of any value, which was recommended by its presumed utility in promoting a more intelligent comprehension of Christian doctrine or imparting greater ability to conduct the services of the Church. Whatever appeared likely to subserve such purposes at once gained bis warmest advocacy. Thus, accordingly, while he is to be found on one occasion austerely condemning certain monks who had ventured to instruct their pupils in profane literature', he was yet the great promoter of education in his

tions that

contra ordinem temporum tempesta-
tes, bella, fames, pestilentiæ, terræ
motus per loca.' Epist. XI 67. For
the prophecy of St Benedict recorded
by Gregory, see Dialog. 11 15.
i Dialogues, iv 41.

2.Quod sine verecundia memorare non possumus, fraternitatem tuam

grammaticam quibusdam exponere.'
Epist. x1 54. "Grammatica' among
the Romans in the time of the Em.
pire meant the elements of literature
generally; it also included Philology.
*Et grammatice, quam in Latinum
transferentes litteraturamvocaverunt,
fines suos norit. Quintil. vi 1 4.

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