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" Your words and promises,”* replied Ethelbert,“ are fair; but because tvey are new, and uncertain, I cannot entirely yield to them, and relinquish the principles which I and my ancestors have so long niaintained. You are welcome, however, to remain here in peace; and as you have undertaken so long a journey, solely, as it appears, for what you believe to be for our advantage, I will supply you with all necessaries, and permit you to deliver your doctrine to my subjects." +
Augustine, encouraged by this favorable reception, and seeing now a prospect of success, proceeded with redoubled zeal to preach the gospel to the Kentish Saxons. He attracted their attention by the austerity of his manners, by the severe penances to which he subjected himself, by the abstinence and self-denial which he practised ; and having excited their wonder by a course of life which appeared so contrary to nature, he procured more easily their belief of miracles, which, it was pretended, he wrought for their conversion Influenced by these motives, and by the declared favor of the court, numbers of the Kentish men were baptized; and the king himself was persuaded to submit to that rite of Christianity. His example had great influence with his subjects'; but he employed no force to bring them over to the new doctrine. Augustine thought proper, in the commencement of his mission, te assume the appearance of the greatest lenity; he told Ethelt ert, that the service of Christ must be entirely voluntary, and that no violence ought ever to be used in propagating so salutary a doctrine.
The intelligence received of these spiritual conquests afforded great joy to the Romans, who now exulted as much in those peaceful trophies as their ancestors had ever done in their most sanguinary triumphs and most splendid victories. Gregory wrote a letter to Ethelbert, in which, after informing him that the end of the world was approaching, he exhorted him to display his zeal in the conversion of his subjects, to exert rigor against the worship of idols, and to build up the good work of holiness by every expedient of exhortation, terror, blandishment, or correction ; a doctrine more suitable to that age, and to the usual papal maxims, than the tolerating
* Bede, lib. i. cap. 25. Chron. W. Thorn. p. 1759.
Bede, lib. i. cap. 26.
principles which Augustine had thought it prudent to incut cate. The fontiff also answered some questions, which the missionary had put concerning the government of the new church of Kent. Besides other queries, which it is not material here to relate, Augustine asked, “ Whether cous.nsgerman might be allowed to marry." Gregory answered, that that liberty had indeed been formerly granted by the Roman law; but that experience had shown that no issue would ever come from such marriages ; and he therefore prohibited them. Augustine asked, “Whether a woman preg. nant might be baptized.”. Gregory answered, that he saw ao objection. “ How soon after the birth the child might receive baptism.” It was answered, immediately, if necesvary
“ How soon a husband might have commerce with. fris wife after her delivery.” Not till she had given suck o her child ; a practice to which Gregory exhorts all wo
" How soon a man might enter the church, or receive the sacrament, after having had commerce with his wife.” It was replied, that, unless he had approached her without desire, merely for the sake of propagating his species, he was not without sin ; but in all cases it was requisite for him, before he entered the church, or communicated, to purge himself by prayer and ablution ; and he ought not, even after using these precautions, to participate immediately of the sacred duties. There are some other questions and replies still more indecent and more ridiculous. And on the whole it appears that Gregory and his missionary, if sympathy of manners have any influence, were better calculated than men of more refined understandings, for making a progress with the ignorant and barbarous Saxons.
The more to facilitate the reception of Christianity, Greg. ory enjoined Augustine to remove the idols from the heathen altars, but not to destroy the altars themselves; because the people, he said, would be allured to frequent the Christian
* Bede, lib. i. cap. 27. Spell. Concil. p. 97, 98, 99, &c.
t Augustine asks, “Si mulier menstrua consuetudine tenetur, an ecclesiam intrare ei licet, aut sacræ communionis sacramenta perzipere ?" Gregory answers, “Santæ communionis mysterium in eisdem diebus percipere non debet prohiberi. Si autem ex veneracione magna percipere non præsumitur, laudanda est.”. Augustine asks, “ Si post illusionem, quæ par somnum solet accidere, vel corpus Domini quilibet accipere valeat; vel, si sacerdos sit, sacra mysteria celebrare ?" Gregory answers this learned question by many learned distinctions.
worship, when they found it celebrated in a place which they were accustomed to revere. And as the pagans practiseà sacrifices, and feasted with the priests on their offerings, he also exhorted the missionary to persuade them, on Christian festivals, to kill their cattle in the neighborhood of the church, and to indulge themselves in those cheerful entertainments to which they had been habituated.* These political compliances show that, notwithstanding his ignorance and prejudices, he was not unacquainted with the arts of governing mankind. Augustine was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, was endowed by Gregory with authority over all the British churches, and received the pall, a badge of ecelesiastical honor, from Rome.t Gregory also advised him not to be too much elated with his gift of working miracles ; † and as Augustine, proud of the success of his mission, seemed to think himself entitled to extend his authority over the bishops of Gaul, the pope informed him that they lay entirely without the bounds of his jurisdiction.S
The marriage of Ethelbert with Bertha, and, much more, his embracing Christianity, begat a connection of his subjects with the French, Italians, and other nations on the continent, and tended to reclaim them from that gross ignorance and barbarity, in which all the Saxon tribes had been hitherto involved. || Ethelbert also enacted, with the consent of the states of his kingdom, a body of laws, the first written laws promulgated by any of the northern conquerors; and his reign was in every respect glorious to himself and beneficial to his people. He governed the kingdom of Kent fifty years; and dying in 616, left the succession to his son, Eadbald. This prince, seduced by a passion for his mother-in-law, deserted, for some time, the Christian faith, which permitted not these incestuous marriages: his whole people immediately returned with him to idolatry. Laurentius, the successor of Augustine, found the Christian worship wholly abandoned, and was prepared to return to France, in order to escape the mortification of preaching the gospel without fruit to the infidels. Mel
* Bede, lib. i. cap. 30. Spell. Concil. p. 89. Greg. Epist. lib. ix. epist. 71.
of Chron. Sax. p. 23, 24.
* H. Hunting. lib. ü. Spell. Concil. p. 83. Bede, lib. i. Greg Epist. lib. ix. epist. 60. § Bede, lib. i. cap. 27.
# W. Malms. p. 10. I Wilkins, Leges Sax. p. 13.
litus and Justus, who had been consecrated bishops of London and Rochester, had already departed the kingdom,* when Laurentius, before he should entirely abandon his dignity, made one effort to reclaim the king. He appeared before that prince, and, throwing off his vestments, showed his body all torn with bruises and stripes which he had received. ' Eadbald, wondering that any man should have dared to treat in that manner a person of his rank, was told by Laurentius, that he had received this chastisement from St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, who had appeared to him in a vision, and severely reproving him for his intention to desert his charge, had inflicted.on him these visible marks of his displeasure.t Whether Eadbald 'was struck with the miracle, or influenced by some other motive, he divorced himself from his motherin-law, and returned to the profession of Christianity : I his whole people returned with him. Eadbald reached not the fame or authority of his father, and died in 640, after a reign of twenty-five years, leaving two sons, Erminfrid and Ercombert.
Ercombert, though the younger son, by Emma, a French princess, found means to mount the throne. He is celebrated by Bede for two exploits - for establishing the fast of Lent in his kingdom, and for utterly. extirpating idolatry, which, notwithstanding the prevalence of Christianity, had hitherto been tolerated by the two preceding monarchs. He reigned twenty-four years, and left the crown to Egbert, his son, who reigned nine years. This prince is renowned for his encouragement of learning ; but infamous for putting to death his two cousins-german, sons of Erminfrid, his uncle. The eccle. siastical writers praise him for his bestowing on his sister, Domnona, some lands in the Isle of Thanet, where she founded a monastery.
The bloody precaution of Egbert could not fix the crown on the head of his son Edric. Lothaire, brother of the deseased prince, took possession of the kingdom ; and in order to secure the power in his family, he associated with him Richard, nis. son, in the administration of the government. Edric, the dispossessed prince, had recourse to Edilwach, king of Sussex, for assistance; and being supported by that prince, fought a hattle with his uncle, who was defeated and slain. Richard
* Bede, lib. ii. cap. 5.
fled into Germany, and afterwards died in Lucca, a city cf Tuscany. William of Malmsbury ascribes Lothaire's bad fortune to two crimes his concurrence in the murder of his cousins, and his contempt for relics. *
Lothaire reigned eleven years ; Edric, his successor, only two. Upon the death of the latter, which happened in 686, Widred, his brother, obtained possession of the crown. But as the succession had been of late so much disjointed by revolutions and usurpations, faction began to prevail among the nobility ; which invited Cedwalla, king of Wessex, with his brother Mollo, to attack the kingdom. These invaders com.. mitted great devastations in Kent; but the death of Mollo, who was slain in a skirmish,† gave a short breathing time to that kingdom. Widred restored the affairs of Kent, and, after a reign of thirty-two years; left the crown to his posterity. Eadbert, Ethelbert, and Alric, his descendants, successively mounted the throne. After the death of the last, which happened in 794, the royal family of Kent was extinguished ; and every factious leader, who could entertain hopes of ascending the throne, threw the state into confusion. Egbert, who first succeeded, reigned but two years; Cuthred, brother to the king of Mercia, six years ; Baldred, an illegitimate branch of the royal family, eighteen; and after a troublesome and precarious reign, he was, in the year 823, expelled by Egbert, king of Wessex, who dissolved the Saxon Heptarchy, and united the several kingdoms under his dominion.
THE KINGDOM OF NORTHUMBERLAND. Adelfrid, king of Bernicia, having married Acca, the daughter of Ælla, king of Deïri, and expelled her infant brother, Edwin, had united all the counties north of Humber into one monarchy, and acquired a great ascendant in the Heptarchy. He also spread the terror of the Saxon arms to the neighboring people ; and by his victories over the Scots and Picts, as well as Welsh, extended on all sides the bounds of his dominions. Having laid siege to Chester, the Britons marched out with all their forces to engage him; and they were attended by a body of twelve hundred and fifty monks from the monastery of Bangor, who stood at a small distance from the field of battle, in order to encourage the combatants
* W. Malms. p. 11. I Chron. Sax. p. 52.
Higđen, lib. v. f W. Malms. lib. i. cap. 1, p. 11.