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ated for societie. In solitude he remembers his better part is Angelicall, and therefore his minde practiseth the best discourse without assistance of inferiour organs. He is ever merry, but still modest; not dissolved into undecent laughter, or tickled with wit scurrilous or injurious. He cunningly searcheth into the virtues of others, and liberally commends them; but buries the vices of the imperfect in a charitable silence, whose man. ners he reformes, not by invectives, but by example. In prayer he is frequent, not apparent; yet as be labours not the opinion, 80 he feares not the scandall of being thought good. He every day travailes his meditations up to Heaven, and never findes himself wearied with the journey. Devotion he hath found the most Soveraigne antidote against sinne, and the onely balsome powerfull to cure those wounds he hath receav'd through frailety. To live he knows a benefit, and the contempt of it ingratitude, and therefore loves, but not doates on, life. Death, how deformed soever an aspect it weares, he is not frighted with, since it not annihilates, but uncloudes the soule. He therefore stands every moment prepared to dye, and freely yeelds up himselfe, when age or sicknesse summon him.
In the very best view that can be taken of monasteries, their existence is deeply injurious to the general morals of a nation. They withdraw men of pure conduct and conscientious principles from the exercise of social duties, and leave the common mass of human vice more uomixed. Such men are always inclined to form schemes of ascetic perfection, which can only be fulfilled in retirement; but, in the strict rules of monastic life, and under the influence of a grovelling superstition, their virtue lost all its usefulness. They fell implicitly into the snares of crafty priests, who made submission to the church pot only the condition but the measure of all praise. He is a good Christian, says Eligius, a saint of the seventh century, who comes frequently to church; who presents an oblation that it may be offered to God on the altar, who does not taste the fruits of his land till he has consecrated a part of them to God; who can repeat the creed or the Lord's prayer. Redeem your souls from punishment while it is in your power; offer presents and tithes to churches, light candles in holy places, as much as you can afford, come more frequently to church, implore the protection of the saints ; for, if you observe these things, you may come with security at the day of judgment to say, give unto us, Lord, for we have given unto thee.
With such a definition of the christian character, it is not surprizing that any fraud and injustice became honourable when it contributed to the riches of the clergy and glory of their order.
From no other cause are the dictates of sound reason and the moral sense of mankind more confused than by this narrow theological bigotry. For as it must often happen that men, to whom the arrogance of a prevailing faction imputes religious error, are exemplary for their performance of moral duties, these virtues gradually cease to make their proper impression, and are depreciated by the rigidly orthodox, as of little value in comparison with just opinions on speculative points. On the other hand vices are forgiven to those who are zealous in the faith. I speak too gently, and with a view to later times ; in treating of the dark ages, it would be more correct to say, that crimes were commended. Thus, Gregory of Tours, a saint of the church, after relating a most atrocious story of Clovis, the murderer of a prince whom he had previ. ously instigated to parricide, continues the sentence; For God daily subdued his enemies to his hand, and increased bis kingdom; because he walked before him in uprightness, and did what was pleasing in his eyes.'-Hallam's Middle Ages.
PRESERVATION OF LETTERS DURING THE DARK AGES. Ir it be demanded by what cause it happened, that a few sparks of ancient learning survived throughout this long winter, we can only ascribe their preservation to the establishment of Christianity. Religion alone made a bridge, as it were, across the chaos, and has linked the two periods of ancient and modern civilization. Without this connecting principle, Europe might indeed have awakened to intellectual pursuits, and the genius of recent times needed not to be invigorated by the imi. tation of antiquity. But the memory of Greece and Rome would have been feebly preserved by tradition, and the monuments of those nations might have excited on the return of civil. ization, that vague sentiment of speculation and wonder, with which men now contemplate Persepolis or the pyramids. It is not, however, from religion simply that we have derived this advantage, but from religion as it was modified in the dark ages. Such is the complex reciprocation of good and evil in the dispensations of Providence, that we may assert, with only an apparent paradox, that, had religion been more pure, it would have been less permanent, and that christianity has been preserved by means of its corruptions. The sole hope for litera
ture depended on the Lalin language; and I do not see why that should not have been lost, if these circumstances in the prevailing religious system, all of which we are justly accus. tomed to disapprove, had not conspired to maintain it; the papal supremacy, the monastic institutions, and the use of a Latin liturgy. I. A continual intercourse was kept up in consequence
of the first between Rome and the several nations of Europe; her laws were received by the bishops; her legates presided in councils ; so that a common language was as necessary, in the church as it is at present in the diplomatic relations of the kingdoms. II. Throughout the whole course of the middle ages, there was no learning, and very little regularity of man. ners, among the parochial clergy. Almost every distinguished man was either the member of a chapter or of a convent. The monasteries were subjected to strict rules of discipline, and held out, at the worst, more opportunities for study than the secular clergy possessed, and fewer for worldly dissipations. But their most important service was as secure repositories for books. All our manuscripts have been preserved in this man. ner, and could hardly have descended to us by any other channel; at least, there were intervals, when I do not conceive that any royal or private libraries existed. III. Monasteries, however, would probably have contributed very little towards the preservation of learning, if the scriptures and the liturgy, had been translated out of latin when that language ceased to be intelligible. Every rational principle of religious worship called for such a change ; but it would have been made at the expense of posterity. One might presume, if such refined conjectures were consistent with historical caution, that the more learned and sagacious ecclesiastics of those times, deploring the gradual corruption of the latin tongue, and the danger of its absolute extinction, were induced to maintain it as a sacred language, and the depository, as it were, of that truth and that science which would be lost in the barbarous dialects of the vulgar. But a simpler explanation is found in the radical dislike of in. novation which is natural to an established clergy. Nor did they want as good pretexts on the ground of convenience, as are commonly alleged by the opponents of reform. They were habituated to the latin words of the church-service, which had become, by this association, the readiest instruments of de. votion, and with the majesty of which the romance jargon could bear no comparison. Their musical chants were adapted to these sounds, and their hymns depended, for metrical effect, on the marked accents and powerful rhymes which the latin language affords. The vulgate latin of the bible was still more venerable. It was like a copy of a lost original ; and a copy at. tested by one of the most eminent fathers, and by the general consent of the church. These are certainly no adequate excuses for keeping the people in ignorance; and the gross corruption of the middle ages is in a great degree assignable to this policy. But learning, and consequently religion, have eventually derived from it the utmost advantage.
(Hallam's Middle Ages.
CHAMOUNYTHE HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE.
Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star
worshipped the Invisible alone,
Hand and voice
Who fill'd thy countenance with rosy light?
Here shall the billows stiffen and have rest ?"