Gildas: On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain (De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae)

De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (Latin: On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain, sometimes just On the Ruin of Britain) is a work written in Latin by the 6th-century AD British cleric St Gildas. It is a sermon in three parts condemning the acts of Gildas’ contemporaries, both secular and religious, whom he blames for the dire state of affairs in sub-Roman Britain. It is one of the most important sources for the history of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries, as it is the only significant source for the period written by a near contemporary of the people and events described.

Part I contains a narrative of British history from the Roman conquest to Gildas’ time; it includes references to Ambrosius Aurelianus and the Britons’ victory against the Saxons at the Battle of Mons Badonicus. Part II is a condemnation of five kings for their various sins, including both obscure figures and relatively well-documented ones such as Maelgwn Gwynedd. Part III is a similar attack upon the British clergy of the age.

This translation is by J.A. Giles

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book I. The Preface

[1] Whatever in this my epistle I may write in my humble but well meaning manner, rather by way of lamentation than for display, let no one suppose that it springs from contempt of others or that I foolishly esteem myself as better than they; for alas! the subject of my complaint is the general destruction of every thing that is good, and the general growth of evil throughout the land;—but that I rejoice to see her revive therefrom: for it is my present purpose to relate the deeds of an indolent and slothful race, rather than the exploits of those who have been valiant in the field*. I have kept silence, I confess, with much mental anguish, compunction of feeling and contrition of heart, whilst I revolved all these things within myself; and, as God the searcher of the reins is witness, for the space of even ten years or more, [my inexperience, as at present also, and my unworthiness preventing me from taking upon myself the character of a censor. But I read how the illustrious lawgiver, for one word’s doubting, was not allowed to enter the desired land; that the sons of the high-priest, for placing strange fire upon God’s altar, were cut off by a speedy death; that God’s people, for breaking the law of God, save two only, were slain by wild beasts, by fire and sword in the deserts of Arabia, though God had so loved them that he had made a way for them through the Red Sea, had fed them with bread from heaven, and water from the rock, and by the lifting up of a hand merely had made their armies invincible; and then, when they had crossed the Jordan and entered the unknown land, and the walls of the city had fallen down flat at the sound only of a trumpet, the taking of a cloak and a little gold from the accursed things caused the deaths of many: and again the breach of their treaty with the Gibeonites, though that treaty had been obtained by fraud, brought destruction upon many; and I took warning from the sins of the people which called down upon them the reprehensions of the prophets and also of Jeremiah, with his fourfold Lamentations written in alphabetical order. I saw moreover in my own time, as that prophet also had complained, that the city had sat down lone and widowed, which before was full of people; that the queen of nations and the princess of provinces (i.e. the church), had been made tributary; that the gold was obscured, and the most excellent colour (which is the brightness of God’s word) changed; that the sons of Sion (i.e. of holy mother church), once famous and clothed in the finest gold, grovelled in dung; and what added intolerably to the weight of grief of that illustrious man, and to mine, though but an abject, whilst he had thus mourned them in their happy and prosperous condition, “Her Nazarites were fairer than snow, more ruddy than old ivory, more beautiful than the sapphire.” These and many other passages in the ancient Scriptures I regarded as a kind of mirror of human life, and I turned also to the New, wherein I read more clearly what perhaps to me before was dark, for the darkness fled, and truth shed her steady light-I read therein that the Lord had said, “I came not but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;” and on the other hand, “But the children of this kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth:” and again, “It is not good to take the children’s meat and to give it to dogs:” also, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” I heard how “many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven:” and on the contrary, “I will then say to them ‘Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity!'” I read, “Blessed are the barren and the teats which have not given suck;” and on the contrary, “Those, who were ready, entered with him to the wedding; afterwards came the other virgins also, saying ‘Lord, Lord, open to us:’ to whom it was answered, ‘I do not know you.'” I heard, forsooth, “Whoever shall believe and be baptized, shall be saved, but whoever shall not believe shall be damned.” I read in the words of the apostle that the branch of the wild olive was grafted upon the good olive, but should nevertheless be cut off from the communion of the root of its fatness, if it did not hold itself in fear, but entertained lofty thoughts. I knew the mercy of the Lord, but I also feared his judgment: I praised his grace, but I feared the rendering to every man according to his works: perceiving the sheep of the same fold to be different, I deservedly commended Peter for his entire confession of Christ, but called Judas most wretched, for his love of covetousness: I thought Stephen most glorious on account of the palm of martyrdom, but Nicholas wretched for his mark of unclean heresy: I read assuredly, “They had all things common:” but likewise also, as it is written, “Why have ye conspired to tempt the Spirit of God?” I saw, on the other hand, how much security had grown upon the men of our time, as if there were nothing to cause them fear. These things, therefore, and many more which for brevity’s sake we have determined to omit, I revolved again and again in my amazed mind with compunction in my heart, and I thought to myself, “If God’s peculiar people, chosen from all the people of the world, the royal seed, and holy nation, to whom he had said, ‘My first begotten Israel,’ its priests, prophets, and kings, throughout so many ages, his servant and apostle, and the members of his primitive church, were not spared when they deviated from the right path, what will he do to the darkness of this our age, in which, besides all the huge and heinous sins, which it has common with all the wicked of the world committed, is found an innate, indelible, and irremediable load of folly and inconstancy?” “What, wretched man (I say to myself) is it given to you, as if you were an illustrious and learned teacher, to oppose the force of so violent a torrent, and keep the charge committed to you against such a series of inveterate crimes which has spread far and wide, without interruption, for so many years? Hold thy peace: to do otherwise, is to tell the foot to see, and the hand to speak. Britain has rulers, and she has watchmen: why dost thou incline thyself thus uselessly to prate?” She has such, I say, not too many, perhaps, but surely not too few: but, because they are bent down and pressed beneath so heavy a burden, they have not time allowed them to take breath. My senses, therefore, as if feeling a portion of my debt and obligation, preoccupied themselves with such objections, and with others yet more strong. They struggled, as I said, no short time, in fearful strait, whilst I read, “There is a time for speaking, and a time for keeping silence.” At length, the creditor’s side prevailed and bore off the victory: if (said he) thou art not bold enough to be marked with the comely mark of golden liberty among the prophetic creatures, who enjoy the rank as reasoning beings next to the angels, refuse not the inspiration of the understanding ass, to that day dumb, which would not carry forward the tiara’d magician who was going to curse God’s people, but in the narrow pass of the vineyard crushed his loosened foot, and thereby felt the lash; and though he was, with his ungrateful and furious hand, against right justice, beating her innocent sides, she pointed out to him the heavenly messenger holding the naked sword, and standing in his way, though he had not seen him.]

* Notwithstanding this remark of Gildas, the Britons must have shown great bravery and resolution in their battles against the Saxons, or they would not have resisted their encroachments so Long. When Gildas was writing, a hundred years had elapsed, and The Britons still possessed a large portion of their native country.

Wherefore in zeal for the house of God and for his holy law, constrained either by the reasonings of my own thoughts, or by the pious entreaties of my brethren, I now discharge the debt so long exacted of me; humble, indeed, in style, but faithful, as I think, and friendly to all Christ’s youthful soldiers, but severe and insupportable to foolish apostates; the former of whom, if I am not deceived, will receive the same with tears flowing from god’s love; but the others with sorrow, such as is extorted from the indignation and pusillanimity of a convicted conscience.

[2] I will, therefore, if God be willing, endeavour to say a few words about the situation of Britain, her disobedience and subjection, her rebellion, second subjection and dreadful slavery—of her religion, persecution, holy martyrs, heresies of different kinds—of her tyrants, her two hostile and ravaging nations—of her first devastation, her defence, her second devastation, and second taking vengeance—of her third devastation, of her famine, and the letters to Agitius*-of her victory and her crimes—of the sudden rumour of enemies—of her famous pestilence-of her counsels—of her last enemy, far more cruel than the first-of the subversion of her cities, and of the remnant that escaped; and finally, of the peace which, by the will of God, has been granted her in these our times.

* Or Aetius

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book 2. The History

Chapter 3: Description of Britain.

[3] The island of Britain, situated on almost the utmost border of the earth, towards the south and west, and poised in the divine balance, as it is said, which supports the whole world, stretches out from the south-west towards the north pole, and is eight hundred miles long and two hundred broad, except where the headlands of sundry promontories stretch farther into the sea. It is surrounded by the ocean, which forms winding bays, and is strongly defended by this ample, and, if I may so call it, impassable barrier, save on the south side, where the narrow sea affords a passage to Belgic Gaul. It is enriched by the mouths of two noble rivers, the Thames and the Severn, as it were two arms, by which foreign luxuries were of old imported, and by other streams of less importance. It is famous for eight and twenty cities, and is embellished by certain castles, with walls, towers, well barred gates, and houses with threatening battlements built on high, and provided with all requisite instruments of defence. Its plains are spacious, its hills are pleasantly situated, adapted for superior tillage, and its mountains are admirably calculated for the alternate pasturage of cattle, where flowers of various colours, trodden by the feet of man, give it the appearance of a lovely picture. It is decked, like a man’s chosen bride, with divers jewels, with lucid fountains and abundant brooks wandering over the snow white sands; with transparent rivers, flowing in gentle murmurs, and offering a sweet pledge of slumber to those who recline upon their banks, whilst it is irrigated by abundant lakes, which pour forth cool torrents of refreshing water.

Chapter 4: Character of people.

[4] This island, stiff—necked and stubborn—minded, from the time of its being first inhabited, ungratefully rebels, sometimes against God, sometimes against her own citizens, and frequently also, against foreign kings and their subjects. For what can there either be, or be committed, more disgraceful or more unrighteous in human affairs, than to refuse to show fear to God or affection to one’s own countrymen, and (without detriment to one’s faith) to refuse due honour to those of higher dignity, to cast off all regard to reason, human and divine, and, in contempt of heaven and earth, to be guided by one’s own sensual inventions? I shall, therefore, omit those ancient errors common to all the nations of the earth, in which, before Christ came in the flesh, all mankind were bound; nor shall I enumerate those diabolical idols of my country, which almost surpassed in number those of Egypt, and of which we still see some mouldering away within or without the deserted temples, with stiff and deformed features as was customary. Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which now are subservient to the use of men, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honour. I shall also pass over the bygone times of our cruel tyrants, whose notoriety was spread over to far distant countries; so that Porphyry, that dog who in the east was always so fierce against the church, in his mad and vain style added this also, that “Britain is a land fertile in tyrants.”* I will only endeavour to relate the evils which Britain suffered in the times of the Roman emperors, and also those which she caused to distant states; but so far as lies in my power, I shall not follow the writings and records of my own country, which (if there ever were any of them) have been consumed in the fires of the enemy, or have accompanied my exiled countrymen into distant lands, but be guided by the relations of foreign writers, which, being broken and interrupted in many places are therefore by no means clear.

Chapter 5: Subjection by Rome.

[5] For when the rulers of Rome had obtained the empire of the world, subdued all the neighbouring nations and islands towards the east, and strengthened their renown by the first peace which they made with the Parthians, who border on India, there was a general cessation from war throughout the whole world; the fierce flame which they kindled could not be extinguished or checked by the Western Ocean, but passing beyond the sea, imposed submission upon our island without resistance, and entirely reduced to obedience its unwarlike but faithless people, not so much by fire and sword and warlike engines, like other nations, but threats alone, and menaces of judgments frowning on their countenance, whilst terror penetrated to their hearts.

Chapter 6: Insurrection against Rome.

[6] When afterwards they returned to Rome, for want of pay, as is said, and had no suspicion of an approaching rebellion, that deceitful lioness [Boadicea] put to death the rulers who had been left among them, to unfold more fully and to confirm the enterprises of the Romans. When the report of these things reached the senate, and they with a speedy army made haste to take vengeance on the crafty foxes, as they called them, there was no bold navy on the sea to fight bravely for the country; by land there was no marshalled army, no right wing of battle, nor other preparation for resistance; but their backs were their shields against their vanquishers, and they presented their necks to their swords, whilst chill terror ran through every limb, and they stretched out their hands to be bound, like women; so that it has become a proverb far and wide, that the Britons are neither brave in war nor faithful in time of peace.

Chapter 7: Second subjection and servitude.

[7] The Romans, therefore, having slain many of the rebels, and reserved others for slaves, that the land might not be entirely reduced to desolation, left the island, destitute as it was of wine and oil, and returned to Italy, leaving behind them taskmasters, to scourge the shoulders of the natives, to reduce their necks to the yoke, and their soil to the vassalage of a Roman province; to chastise the crafty race, not with warlike weapons, but with rods, and if necessary to gird upon their sides the naked sword, so that it was no longer thought to be Britain, but a Roman island; and all their money, whether of copper, gold, or silver, was stamped with Caesar’s image.

Chapter 8: Rise of Christianity.

[8] Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ, the true Sun, showing to the whole world his splendour, not only from the temporal firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses every thing temporal, at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with its professors.

Chapter 9: Evangelization of Britain. The Diocletian persecution.

[9] These rays of light were received with lukewarm minds by the inhabitants, but they nevertheless took root among some of them in a greater or less degree, until the nine years’ persecution of the tyrant Diocletian, when the churches throughout the whole world were overthrown, all the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found burned in the streets, and the chosen pastors of God’s flock butchered, together with their innocent sheep, in order that not a vestige, if possible, might remain in some provinces of Christ’s religion. What disgraceful flights then took place-what slaughter and death inflicted by way of punishment in divers shapes,—what dreadful apostacies from religion; and on the contrary, what glorious crowns of martyrdom then were won,—what raving fury was displayed by the persecutors, and patience on the part of the suffering saints, ecclesiastical history informs us; for the whole church were crowding in a body, to leave behind them the dark things of this world, and to make the best of their way to the happy mansions of heaven, as if to their proper home.

Chapter 10: Holy Martyrs.

[10] God, therefore, who wishes all men to be saved, and who calls sinners no less than those who think themselves righteous, magnified his mercy towards us, and, as we know, during the above-named persecution, that Britain might not totally be enveloped in the dark shades of night, he, of his own free gift, kindled up among us bright luminaries of holy martyrs, whose places of burial and of martyrdom, had they not for our manifold crimes been interfered with and destroyed by the barbarians, would have still kindled in the minds of the beholders no small fire of divine charity. Such were St. Alban of Verulam, Aaron and Julius, citizens of Carlisle, [Or Caerleon] and the rest, of both sexes, who in different places stood their ground in the Christian contest.

[11] The first of these martyrs, St. Alban, for charity’s sake saved another confessor who was pursued by his persecutors, and was on the point of being seized, by hiding him in his house, and then by changing clothes with him, imitating in this example of Christ, who laid down his life for his sheep, and exposing himself in the other’s clothes to be pursued in his stead. So pleasing to God was this conduct, that between his confession and martyrdom, he was honoured with the performance of wonderful miracles in presence of the impious blasphemers who were carrying the Roman standards, and like the Israelites of old, who trod dry-foot an unfrequented path whilst the ark of the covenant stood some time on the sands in the midst of Jordan; so also the martyr, with a thousand others, opened a path across the noble river Thames, whose waters stood abrupt like precipices on either side; and seeing this, the first of his executors was stricken with awe, and from a wolf became a lamb; so that he thirsted for martyrdom, and boldly underwent that for which he thirsted. The other holy martyrs were tormented with divers sufferings, and their limbs were racked in such unheard of ways, that they, without delay, erected the trophies of their glorious martyrdom even in the gates of the city of Jerusalem. For those who survived, hid themselves in woods and deserts, and secret caves, waiting until God, who is the righteous judge of all, should reward their persecutors with judgment, and themselves with protection of their lives.

Chapter 12: Insurrection against Rome.

[12] In less than ten years, therefore, of the above-named persecution, and when these bloody decrees began to fail in consequence of the death of their authors, all Christ’s young disciples, after so long and wintry a night, begin to behold the genial light of heaven. They rebuild the churches, which had been levelled to the ground; they found, erect, and finish churches to the holy martyrs, and everywhere show their ensigns as token of their victory; festivals are celebrated and sacraments received with clean hearts and lips, and all the church’s sons rejoice as it were in the fostering bosom of a mother. For this holy union remained between Christ their head and the members of his church, until the Arian treason, fatal as a serpent, and vomiting its poison from beyond the sea, caused deadly dissension between brothers inhabiting the same house, and thus, as if a road were made across the sea, like wild beasts of all descriptions, and darting the poison of every heresy from their jaws, they inflicted dreadful wounds upon their country, which is ever desirous to hear something new, and remains constant long to nothing.

Chapter 13: The tyranni, particularly Maximus.

[13] At length also, new races of tyrants sprang up, in terrific numbers, and the island, still bearing its Roman name, but casting off her institutes and laws, sent forth among the Gauls that bitter scion of her own planting Maximus, with a great number of followers, and the ensigns of royalty, which he bore without decency and without lawful right, but in a tyrannical manner, and amid the disturbances of the seditious soldiery. He, by cunning arts rather than by valour, attaching to his rule, by perjury and falsehood, all the neighbouring towns and provinces, against the Roman state, extended one of his wings to Spain, the other to Italy, fixed the seat of his unholy government at Treves, and so furiously pushed his rebellion against his lawful emperors that he drove one of them out of Rome, and caused the other to terminate his most holy life. Trusting to these successful attempts, he not long after lost his accursed head before the walls of Aquileia, whereas he had before cut off the crowned heads of almost all the world.

Chapter 14: Picts and Scots.

[14] After this, Britain is left deprived of all her soldiery and armed bands, of her cruel governors, and of the flower of her youth, who went with Maximus, but never again returned; and utterly ignorant as she was of the art of war, groaned in amazement for many years under the cruelty of two foreign nations—the Scots from the north-west, and the Picts from the north.

Chapter 15: Defence made against them.

[15] The Britons, impatient at the assaults of the Scots and Picts, their hostilities and dreadful oppressions, send ambassadors to Rome with letters, entreating in piteous terms the assistance of an armed band to protect them, and offering loyal and ready submission to the authority of Rome, if they only would expel their foes. A legion is immediately sent, forgetting their past rebellion, and provided sufficiently with arms. When they had crossed over the sea and landed, they came at once to close conflict with their cruel enemies, and slew great numbers of them. All of them were driven beyond the borders, and the humiliated natives rescued from the bloody slavery which awaited them. By the advice of their protectors, they now built a wall across the island from one sea to the other, which being manned with a proper force, might be a terror to the foes whom it was intended to repel, and a protection to their friends whom it covered. But this wall, being made of turf instead of stone, was of no use to that foolish people, who had no head to guide them.

Chapter 16: Repeated devastation.

[16] The Roman legion had no sooner returned home in joy and triumph, than their former foes, like hungry and ravening wolves, rushing with greedy jaws upon the fold which is left without a shepherd, and wafted both by the strength of oarsmen and the blowing wind, break through the boundaries, and spread slaughter on every side, and like mowers cutting down the ripe corn, they cut up, tread under foot, and overrun the whole country.

Chapter 17: Second revenge (by Roman aid).

[17] And now again they send suppliant ambassadors, with their garments rent and their heads covered with ashes, imploring assistance from the Romans, and like timorous chickens, crowding under the protecting wings of their parents, that their wretched country might not altogether be destroyed, and that the Roman name, which now was but an empty sound to fill the ear, might not become a reproach even to distant nations. Upon this, the Romans, moved with compassion, as far as human nature can be, at the relations of such horrors, send forward, like eagles in their flight, their unexpected bands of cavalry by land and mariners by sea, and planting their terrible swords upon the shoulders of their enemies, they mow them down like leaves which fall at the destined period; and as a mountain-torrent swelled with numerous streams, and bursting its banks with roaring noise, with foaming crest and yeasty wave rising to the stars, by whose eddying currents our eyes are as it were dazzled, does with one of its billows overwhelm every obstacle in its way, so did our illustrious defenders vigorously drive our enemies’ band beyond the sea, if any could so escape them; for it was beyond those same seas that they transported, year after year, the plunder which they had gained, no one daring to resist them.

[18] The Romans, therefore, left the country, giving notice that they could no longer be harassed by such laborious expeditions, nor suffer the Roman standards, with so large and brave an army, to be worn out by sea and land by fighting against these unwarlike, plundering vagabonds; but that the islanders, inuring themselves to warlike weapons, and bravely fighting, should valiantly protect their country, their property, wives and children, and, what is dearer than these, their liberty and lives; that they should not suffer their hands to be tied behind their backs by a nation which, unless they were enervated by idleness and sloth, was not more powerful than themselves, but that they should arm those hands with buckler, sword, and spear, ready for the field of battle; and, because they thought this also of advantage to the people they were about to leave, they, with the help of the miserable natives, built a wall different from the former, by public and private contributions, and of the same structure as walls generally, extending in a straight line from sea to sea, between some cities, which, from fear of their enemies, had there by chance been built. They then give energetic counsel to the timorous natives, and leave them patterns by which to manufacture arms. Moreover, on the south coast where their vessels lay, as there was some apprehension lest the barbarians might land, they erected towers at stated intervals, commanding a prospect of the sea; and then left the island never to return.

Chapter 19: Second revenge (by Roman aid).

[19] No sooner were they gone, than the Picts and Scots, like worms which in the heat of the mid-day come forth from their holes, hastily land again from their canoes, in which they had been carried beyond the Cichican* valley, differing one from another in manners, but inspired with the same avidity for blood, and all more eager to shroud their villainous faces in bushy hair than to cover with decent clothing those parts of their body which required it. Moreover, having heard of the departure of our friends, and their resolution never to return, they seized with greater boldness than before on all the country towards the extreme north as far as the wall. To oppose them there was placed on the heights a garrison equally slow to fight and ill adapted to run away, a useless and panic-struck company, who slumbered away days and nights on their unprofitable watch. Meanwhile the hooked weapons of their enemies were not idle, and our wretched countrymen were dragged from the wall and dashed against the ground. Such premature death, however, painful as it was, saved them from seeing the miserable sufferings of their brothers and children. But why should I say more? They left their cities, abandoned the protection of the wall, and dispersed themselves in flight more desperately than before. The enemy, on the other hand, pursued them with more unrelenting cruelty than before, and butchered our countrymen like sheep, so that their habitations were like those of savage beasts; for they turned their arms upon each other, and for the sake of a little sustenance, imbrued their hands in the blood of their fellow countrymen. Thus foreign calamities were augmented by domestic feuds; so that the whole country was entirely destitute of provisions, save such as could be procured in the chase.

Chapter 20: Letter to Agitius (Aetius). A.D. 446.

[20] Again, therefore, the wretched remnant, sending to Aetius, a powerful Roman citizen, address him as follow:—”To Aetius, [or Agitius, according to another reading] now consul for the third time: the groans of the Britons.” And again a little further, thus:—”The barbarians drive us to the sea; the sea throws us back on the barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or drowned.” The Romans, however, could not assist them, and in the meantime the discomfited people, wandering in the woods, began to feel the effects of a severe famine, which compelled many of them without delay to yield themselves up to their cruel persecutors, to obtain subsistence: others of them, however, lying hid in mountains, caves and woods, continually sallied out from thence to renew the war. And then it was, for the first time, that they overthrew their enemies, who had for so many years been living in their country; for their trust was not in man, but in God; according to the maxim of Philo, “We must have divine assistance, when that of man fails.” The boldness of the enemy was for a while checked, but not the wickedness of our countrymen; the enemy left our people, but the people did not leave their sins.

Chapter 21: Growth of crimes among the Britons.

[21] For it has always been a custom with our nation, as it is at present, to be impotent in repelling foreign foes, but bold and invincible in raising civil war, and bearing the burdens of their offences: they are impotent, I say, in following the standard of peace and truth, but bold in wickedness and falsehood. The audacious invaders therefore return to their winter quarters, determined before long again to return and plunder. And then, too, the Picts for the first time seated themselves at the extremity of the island, where they afterwards continued, occasionally plundering and wasting the country. During these truces, the wounds of the distressed people are healed, but another sore, still more venomous, broke out. No sooner were the ravages of the enemy checked, than the island was deluged with a most extraordinary plenty of all things, greater than was before known, and with it grew up every kind of luxury and licentiousness. It grew with so firm a root, that one might truly say of it, “Such fornication is heard of among you, as never was known the like among the Gentiles.” But besides this vice, there arose also every other, to which human nature is liable and in particular that hatred of truth, together with her supporters, which still at present destroys every thing good in the island; the love of falsehood, together with its inventors, the reception of crime in the place of virtue, the respect shown to wickedness rather than goodness, the love of darkness instead of the sun, the admission of Satan as an angel of light. Kings were anointed, not according to god’s ordinance, but such as showed themselves more cruel than the rest; and soon after, they were put to death by those who had elected them, without any inquiry into their merits, but because others still more cruel were chosen to succeed them. If any one of these was of a milder nature than the rest, or in any way more regardful of the truth, he was looked upon as the ruiner of the country, every body cast a dart at him, and they valued things alike whether pleasing or displeasing to God, unless it so happened that what displeased him was pleasing to themselves. So that the words of the prophet, addressed to the people of old, might well be applied to our own countrymen: “Children without a law, have ye left God and provoked to anger the holy one of Israel?* Why will ye still inquire, adding iniquity? Every head is languid and every heart is sad; from the sole of the foot to the crown, there is no health in him.” And thus they did all things contrary to their salvation, as if no remedy could be applied to the world by the true Physician of all men. And not only the laity did so, but our Lord’s own flock and its shepherds, who ought to have been an example to the people, slumbered away their time in drunkenness, as if they had been dipped in wine; whilst the swellings of pride, the jar of strife, the griping talons of envy, and the confused estimate of right and wrong, got such entire possession of them, that there seemed to be poured out (and the same still continueth) contempt upon princes, and to be made by their vanities to wander astray and not in the way.

Chapter 22: The noted plague.

[22] Meanwhile, God being willing to purify his family who were infected by so deep a stain of woe, and at the hearing only of their calamities to amend them; a vague rumour suddenly as if on wings reaches the ears of all, that their inveterate foes were rapidly approaching to destroy the whole country, and to take possession of it, as of old, from one end to the other. But yet they derived no advantage from this intelligence; for, like frantic beasts, taking the bit of reason between their teeth, they abandoned the safe and narrow road, and rushed forward upon the broad downward path of vice, which leads to death. Whilst, therefore, as Solomon says, the stubborn servant is not cured by words, the fool is scourged and feels it not: a pestilential disease morally affected the foolish people, which, without the sword, cut off so large a number of persons, that the living were not able to bury them. But even this was no warning to them, that in them also might be fulfilled the words of Isaiah the prophet, “And God hath called his people to lamentation, to baldness, and to the girdle of sackcloth; behold they begin to kill calves, and to slay rams, to eat, to drink, and to say, ‘We will eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.'” For the time was approaching, when all their iniquities, as formerly those of the Amorrhaeans, should be fulfilled. For a council was called to settle what was best and most expedient to be done, in order to repel such frequent and fatal irruptions and plunderings of the above-named nations.

Chapter 23: Deliberation how to oppose the Picts and Scots. The Saxons invited to aid in their repulsion.

[23] Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant Gurthrigern [Vortigern], the British king, were so blinded, that, as a protection to their country, they sealed its doom by inviting in among them like wolves into the sheep-fold), the fierce and impious Saxons, a race hateful both to God and men, to repel the invasions of the northern nations. Nothing was ever so pernicious to our country, nothing was ever so unlucky. What palpable darkness must have enveloped their minds-darkness desperate and cruel! Those very people whom, when absent, they dreaded more than death itself, were invited to reside, as one may say, under the selfsame roof. Foolish are the princes, as it is said, of Thafneos, giving counsel to unwise Pharaoh. A multitude of whelps came forth from the lair of this barbaric lioness, in three cyuls, as they call them, that is, in there ships of war, with their sails wafted by the wind and with omens and prophecies favourable, for it was foretold by a certain soothsayer among them, that they should occupy the country to which they were sailing three hundred years, and half of that time, a hundred and fifty years, should plunder and despoil the same. They first landed on the eastern side of the island, by the invitation of the unlucky king, and there fixed their sharp talons, apparently to fight in favour of the island, but alas! more truly against it. Their mother-land, finding her first brood thus successful, sends forth a larger company of her wolfish offspring, which sailing over, join themselves to their bastard-born comrades. From that time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and branches. the barbarians being thus introduced as soldiers into the island, to encounter, as they falsely said, any dangers in defence of their hospitable entertainers, obtain an allowance of provisions, which, for some time being plentifully bestowed, stopped their doggish mouths. Yet they complain that their monthly supplies are not furnished in sufficient abundance, and they industriously aggravate each occasion of quarrel, saying that unless more liberality is shown them, they will break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they follow up their threats with deeds.

Chapter 24

[24] For the fire of vengeance, justly kindled by former crimes, spread from sea to sea, fed by the hands of our foes in the east, and did not cease, until, destroying the neighbouring towns and lands, it reached the other side of the island, and dipped its red and savage tongue in the western ocean. In these assaults, therefore, not unlike that of the Assyrian upon Judea, was fulfilled in our case what the prophet describes in words of lamentation; “They have burned with fire the sanctuary; they have polluted on earth the tabernacle of thy name.” And again, “O God, the gentiles have come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled,” &c. So that all the columns were levelled with the ground by the frequent strokes of the battering-ram, all the husbandmen routed, together with their bishops, priests, and people, whilst the sword gleamed, and the flames crackled around them on every side. Lamentable to behold, in the midst of the streets lay the tops of lofty towers, tumbled to the ground, stones of high walls, holy altars, fragments of human bodies, covered with livid clots of coagulated blood, looking as if they had been squeezed together in a press;* and with no chance of being buried, save in the ruins of the houses, or in the ravening bellies of wild beasts and birds; with reverence be it spoken for their blessed souls, if, indeed, there were many found who were carried, at that time, into the high heaven by the holy angels. So entirely had the vintage, once so fine, degenerated and become bitter, that, in the words of the prophet, there was hardly a grape or ear of corn to be seen where the husbandman had turned his back.

Chapter 25

[25] Some therefore, of the miserable remnant, being taken in the mountains, were murdered in great numbers; others, constrained by famine, came and yielded themselves to be slaves for ever to their foes, running the risk of being instantly slain, which truly was the greatest favour that could be offered them: some others passed beyond the seas with loud lamentations instead of the voice of exhortation. “Thou hast given us as sheep to be slaughtered, and among the Gentiles hast thou dispersed us.” Others, committing the safeguard of their lives, which were in continual jeopardy, to the mountains, precipices, thickly wooded forests, and to the rocks of the seas (albeit with trembling hearts), remained still in their country. But in the meanwhile, an opportunity happening, when these most cruel robbers were returned home, the poor remnants of our nation (to whom flocked from divers places round about our miserable countrymen as fast as bees to their hives, for fear of an ensuing storm), being strengthened by God, calling upon him with all their hearts, as the poet says,—”With their unnumbered vows they burden heaven,” that they might not be brought to utter destruction, took arms under the conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive. His parents, who for their merit were adorned with the purple, had been slain in these same broils, and now his progeny in these our days, although shamefully degenerated from the worthiness of their ancestors, provoke to battle their cruel conquerors, and by the goodness of our Lord obtain the victory.

Chapter 26: The final victory over the Saxons. Siege of Mons Badonicus.

[26] After this, sometimes our countrymen, sometimes the enemy, won the field, to the end that our Lord might in this land try after his accustomed manner these his Israelites, whether they loved him or not, until the year of the siege of Bath-hill, when took place also the last almost, though not the least slaughter of our cruel foes, which was (as I am sure) forty-four years and one month after the landing of the Saxons, and also the time of my own nativity. And yet neither to this day are the cities of our country inhabited as before, but being forsaken and overthrown, still lie desolate; our foreign wars having ceased, but our civil troubles still remaining. For as well the remembrance of such terrible desolation of the island, as also of the unexpected recovery of the same, remained in the minds of those who were eyewitnesses of the wonderful events of both, and in regard thereof, kings, public magistrates, and private persons, with priests and clergymen, did all and every one of them live orderly according to their several vocations. But when these had departed out of this world, and a new race succeeded, who were ignorant of this troublesome time, and had only experience of the present prosperity, all the laws of truth and justice were so shaken and subverted, that not so much as a vestige or remembrance of these virtues remained among the above-named orders of men, except among a very few who, compared with the great multitude which were daily rushing headlong down to hell, are accounted so small a number, that our reverend mother, the church, scarcely beholds them, her only true children, reposing in her bosom; whose worthy lives, being a pattern to al men, and beloved of God, inasmuch as by their holy prayers, as by certain pillars and most profitable supporters, our infirmity is sustained up, that it may not utterly be broken down, I would have no one suppose I intended to reprove, if forced by the increasing multitude of offences, I have freely, aye, with anguish, not so much declared as bewailed the wickedness of those who are become servants, not only to their bellies, but also to the devil rather than to Christ, who is our blessed God, world without end.

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book 3: General Denunciation of Princes and Judges.

[27] KINGS Britain has, but they are as her tyrants: she has judges, but they are ungodly men: engaged in frequent plunder and disturbance, but of harmless men: avenging and defending, yea for the benefit of criminals and robbers. They have numerous wives, though harlots and adulterous women: they swear but by way of forswearing, making vows yet almost immediately use falsehood. They make wars, but the wars they undertake are civil and unjust ones. They certainly pursue thieves industriously throughout the country, whilst those thieves who sit with them at table, they not only esteem but even remunerate. Alms they give profusely, but over against this they heap up a huge mountain of crimes. They take their seat to pronounce sentence, yet seldom seek the rule of right judgment. Despising the innocent and lowly, they to their utmost extol to the stars the bloody-minded, the proud, the murderous men, their own companions and the adulterous enemies of God, if chance so offers, who ought, together with their very name, to be assiduously destroyed. Many have they bound in their prisons, whom they ill-use with weight of chains, more by their own fraud than by reason of desert: they linger among the altars in the oaths they make, and shortly afterwards look with disdain on these same altars as if they were dirty stones.

Chapter 28: Constantius of Damnonia.

[28] Of this so execrable a wickedness Constantine, the tyrannical whelp of the unclean lioness of Damnonia, is not ignorant. In this year, after a dreadful form of oath, by which he bound himself that he would use no deceit against his subjects, making his oath first to God, and secondly to the choirs of saints and those who follow them, in reliance upon the mother (the church), he nevertheless, in the garb of a holy abbot, cruelly tore the tender sides of two royal children, while in the bosoms of two revered mothers —-viz., the church and the mother after the flesh—-together with their two guardians. And their arms, stretched forth, in no way to armour, which no man was in the habit of using more bravely than they at this time, but towards God and His altar, will hang in the day of judgment at thy gates, Oh Christ, as revered trophies of their patience and faith. He did this among the holy altars, as I said, with accursed sword and spear instead of teeth, so that the cloaks, red as if with clotted blood, touched the place of the heavenly sacrifice.

This deed he committed, after no meritorious acts worthy of praise; for, many years previously he was overcome by frequent successive deeds of adultery, having put away his legitimate wife, contrary to the prohibition of Christ and the Teacher of the gentiles, who say: What God hath joined let man not separate, and: Husbands love your wives. For he planted, of the bitter vine of Sodom in the soil of his heart, unfruitful for good seed, a shoot of unbelief and unwisdom, which, watered by public and domestic impieties as if by poisonous showers, and springing forth more quickly to the displeasure of God, brought forth the guilt of murder and sacrilege. But as one not yet free from the nets of prior sins he heaps new crimes upon old ones.

[29] Come now! (I reprove, as if present, one whom I know to be yet surviving). Why art thou confounded, thou murderer of thine own soul? Why kindlest thou, of thine own accord, the ceaseless flames of hell against thyself? Why, taking the place of thine enemies, piercest thou thyself, under no compulsion, with thine own sword and spear? Were not those very cups, poisonous with crimes, able to satisfy thy heart? Look back, I beseech thee, and come to Christ, since thou labourest and art bent down with thy huge burden, and He, as He has said, will give thee rest. Come to Him who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and live: break, according to the prophet, the chains of thy neck, thou son of Sion. Return, I pray, though from the far-off secret haunts of sins, to the tender father who—-for the son that despises the unclean food of swine, and fears the death of hard famine, and returns to himself—–has been accustomed in gladness to kill the fatted calf and to bring forward the first garment and royal ring for the erring one, and with a foretaste of heavenly hope thou shalt feel how the Lord is kind. For if thou despisest these admonitions, know that thou shalt even soon be whirled round and burnt in hell’s indescribable dark floods of fire.

[30] Thou also, lion whelp, as the prophet says, what doest thou, Aurelius Caninus?47 Art thou not swallowed up in the same, if not more destructive, filth, as the man previously mentioned, the filth of murders, fornications, adulteries, like sea-waves rushing fatally upon thee? Hast thou not by thy hatred of thy country’s peace, as if it were a deadly serpent, or by thy iniquitous thirst for civil wars and repeated spoils, closed the doors of heavenly peace and repose for thy soul? Left alone now, like a dry tree in the midst of a field, remember, I pray thee, the pride of thy fathers and brothers, with their early and untimely death. Wilt thou, because of pious deserts, an exception to almost all thy family, survive for a hundred years, or be of the years of Methuselah? No. But unless, as the Psalmist says, thou be very speedily converted to the Lord, that King will soon brandish his sword against thee; who says by the prophet: I will kill and I will make alive: I shall wound and I shall heal, and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. Wherefore shake thyself from thy filthy dust, and turn unto Him with thy whole heart, unto Him who created thee, so that when His anger quickly kindles, thou mayest be blest, hoping in Him. But if not so, eternal pains await thee, who shalt be always tormented, without being consumed, in the dread jaws of hell.

Chapter 31: Vortiporius, prince of the Demetae (Dyfed).

[31] Why also art thou, Vortipor, tyrant of the Demetae, foolishly stubborn?48 Like the pard art thou, in manners and wickedness of various colour, though thy head is now becoming grey, upon a throne full of guile, and from top to bottom defiled by various murders and adulteries, thou worthless son of a good king, as Manasseh of Hezekiah. What! do not such wide whirlpools of sins, which thou suckest in like good wine, nay, art thyself swallowed by them, though the end of life is gradually drawing near—-do these not satisfy thee? Why, to crown all thy sins, dost thou, when thine own wife had been removed and her death had been virtuous, by the violation of a shameless daughter, burden thy soul as with a weight impossible to remove?

Spend not, I beseech thee, the remainder of thy days in offending God, because now is the acceptable time and the day of salvation shines upon the faces of the penitent, during which thou canst well bring to pass that thy flight be not in winter or on the Sabbath. Turn (according to the Psalmist) away from evil and do good, seek good peace and follow it; because the eyes of the. Lord will be upon thee when thou doest good, and his ears unto thy prayers, and he will not destroy thy memory from the land of the living. Thou shalt cry and he will hear thee, and save thee from all thy tribulations. For Christ never despises the heart that is contrite and humbled by the fear of Him. Otherwise the worm of thy agony shall not die, and the fire of thy burning shall not be quenched.

Chapter 32: Cuneglasus.

[32] Why dost thou, also, wallow in the old filth of thy wickedness, from the years of thy youth, thou bear, rider of many, and driver of a chariot belonging to a bear’s den, despiser of God and contemner of His decree, thou Cuneglas (meaning in the Roman tongue, thou tawny butcher)? Why dost thou maintain such strife against both men and God? Against men, thine own countrymen, to wit, by arms special to thyself; against God, by crimes without number? Why, in addition to innumerable lapses, dost thou, having driven away thy wife, cast thine eyes upon her dastardly sister, who is under a vow to God of the perpetual chastity of widowhood, that is as the poet says, of the highest tenderness of heavenly nymphs, with the full reverence, or rather bluntness, of her mind, against the apostle’s prohibition when he says that adulterers cannot be citizens of the kingdom of heaven? Why dost thou provoke, by thy repeated injuries, the groans and sighs of saints, who on thy account are living in the body, as if they were the teeth of a huge lioness that shall some day break thy bones? Cease, I pray, from anger, as the prophet says, and forsake the deadly wrath that shall torment thyself, which thou brcathest against heaven and earth, that is, against God and His flock. Rather change thy life and cause them to pray for thee, to whom is given the power to bind above the world, when they have bound guilty men in the world, and to loose, when they have absolved the penitent.50 Be not, as the apostle says, high-minded, nor have thy hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but in God who giveth thee many things richly, that by an amendment of life, thou mayest lay in store for thyself a good foundation against the time to come, and mayest have the true life; that is, of course, the eternal life, not that which passeth away. Otherwise thou shalt know and see, even in this world, how evil and bitter it is to have abandoned the Lord thy God, and that His fear is not with thee, and that in the world to come thou shalt be burnt in the hideous mass of eternal fires, without, however, in any way dying. For the souls of sinners are as immortal for never-ending fire as those of the saints are for joy.

Chapter 33: Maglocunus insularis draco. Maelgwn of Anglesey (?)

[33] And thou, the island dragon, who hast driven many of the tyrants mentioned previously, as well from life as from kingdom, thou last in my writing, first in wickedness, exceeding many in power and at the same time in malice, more liberal in giving, more excessive in sin, strong in arms, but stronger in what destroys thy soul—-thou Maclocunus,51 why dost thou obtusely wallow in such an old black pool of crimes, as if sodden with the wine that is pressed from the vine of Sodom? Why dost thou tie to thy royal neck (of thine own accord, as I may say), such heaps, impossible to remove, of crimes, as of high mountains? Why showest thou thyself to Him, the King of all kings, who made thee superior to almost all the kings of Britain, both in kingdom and in the form of thy stature, not better than the rest in morality, but on the contrary worse? Give a patient hearing for awhile to an undoubted record of those charges which, passing by domestic and lighter offences—-if, indeed, any are light—-shall testify only the things which have been proclaimed far and wide, in broad daylight, as admitted crimes. In the first years of thy youth, accompanied by soldiers of the bravest, whose countenance in battle appeared not very unlike that of young lions, didst thou not most bitterly crush thy uncle the king with sword, and spear, and fire? Not regarding the prophet’s word when it says: Men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days. What wouldst thou expect of retribution for this deed alone from the righteous judge, even if such consequences as have followed were not to occur, when He likewise says by the prophet: Woe unto thee that spoilest; shalt thou not be spoiled? and thou that killest, shalt not thou thyself be killed? and when thou hast made an end of thy spoiling, then shalt thou fall.

[34] When the dream of thy oppressive reign turned out according to thy wish, didst thou not, drawn by the desire to return unto the right way, with the consciousness of thy sins probably biting days and nights during that period, first, largely meditating with thyself on the godly walk and the rules of monks, then, bringing them forward to the knowledge of open publicity, didst thou not vow thyself for ever a monk? Without any thought of unfaithfulness was it done, according to thy declaration, in the sight of God Almighty, before the face of angels and men. Thou hadst broken, as was thought, those big nets, by which fat bulls of thy class are wont to be entangled headlong, that is, thou hadst broken the nets of every kind of royalty, of gold and of silver, and what is mightier than these, of thine own imperious will. And thyself didst thou profitably snatch like a dove, from the raven, strongly cleaving the thin air in rustling flight, escaping the cruel claws of the speedy hawk with sinuous windings, to the caves of the saints, sure retreats for thee, and places of refreshment. What gladness would there be for thy mother, the church, if the enemy of all mankind had not disastrously dragged thee off, in a way, from her bosom! What plentiful touchwood for heavenly hope would blaze in the hearts of men without hope, if thou didst persevere in good! What and how many rewards of the kingdom of Christ would wait thy soul in the day of judgment, if that crafty wolf, when from a wolf thou hadst become a lamb, had not snatched thee from the Lord’s fold (not greatly against thy will), to make thee a wolf from a lamb, like unto himself! What joy thy salvation, if secured, had furnished to the gracious Father and God of all saints, had not the wretched father of all the lost, like an eagle of mighty wings and claws—-the devil, I mean—-against every right, snatched thee away to the unhappy troop of his children!

Not to be tedious—-thy conversion unto good fruit brought as much joy and pleasantness, both to heaven and earth, as now thy accursed reversion to thy fearful vomit like a sick dog, has caused of sorrow and lamentation. When this reversion had come to pass thy members are presented as weapons of unrighteousness unto sin and the devil, which ought to have been eagerly presented, with proper regard to good sense, as weapons of righteousness unto God. When the attention of thy ears has been caught, it is not the praises of God, in the tuneful voice of Christ’s followers, with its sweet rhythm, and the song of church melody, that are heard, but thine own praises (which are nothing); the voice of the rascally crew yelling forth, like Bacchanalian revellers, full of lies and foaming phlegm, so as to besmear everyone near them. In this way the vessel, once prepared for the service of God, is changed into an instrument of Satan, and that which was deemed worthy of heavenly honour is, according to its desert, cast into the abyss of hell.

[35] Yet not by such stumbling-blocks of evils, as if by a kind of barrier, is thy mind, dulled through a load of unwisdom, retarded; but impetuous like a young colt, which, imagining every pleasant place as not traversed, rushes along, with unbridled fury, over wide fields of crimes, heaping new sins upon old. For contempt is thrown upon thy first marriage, though after thy violated vow as a monk it was illicit, yet was to be assumed as the marriage of thine own proper wife; another marriage is sought after, not with anybody’s widow, but with the beloved wife of a living man; and he not a stranger, but thy brother’s son. On this account, that stiff neck, already weighted with many burdens of sins (to wit, a double daring murder, the killing of the husband above named, and the wife that was for a time regarded by thee as thine), is bent down through the extreme excess of thy sacrilegious deed, from lowest crimes to still lower. Afterwards thou didst wed her, by whose collusion and intimation, the huge mass of the crimes grew suddenly so big, in public, and (as the false tongues of thy flatterers assert, at the top of their voice, though not from the depth of their heart), in a legitimate marriage, regarding her as a widow; but our tongues say, in desecrated wedlock.

What saint is there whose bowels, moved by such a tale, do not at once break forth into weeping and sobbing? What priest, whose righteous heart is open before God, on hearing of these things, would not, with great wailing, instantly say that word of the prophet: Who will give water unto my head, and a fountain of tears unto my eyes? A nd I shall weep day and night the slain of my people. Alas! little didst thou, with thy ears, listen to the prophet’s reproof when it thus speaks: Woe unto you, ye impious men, who have abandoned the law of the Most High God: and if ye be born, ye shall be born for a curse; and if ye die, your portion shall be for a curse. All things that are of the earth shall go to the earth, so shall the wicked from curse unto perdition. It is understood if they return not unto the Lord, at least, when such an admonition, as the following, has been heard: My son thou hast sinned; add no more thereto but rather pray to be relieved of thy old sins. And again: Be not slow to be converted unto the Lord, nor defer it from day to day, for His anger shall come suddenly; because, as the Scripture says: When the king hearkens to an unrighteous word, all that are under him are wicked. Surely, as the prophet has said: A just king elevates the land. 36 But warnings are certainly not wanting to thee, since thou hast had as instructor the refined teacher of almost the whole of Britain.52 Beware, therefore, lest what is noted by Solomon happens unto thee: As one who rouses a sleeper from deep sleep, is he who speaks wisdom to a fool; for in the end of his speaking he will say, ‘What saidst thou first ?’ Wash thine heart, O Jerusalem, as is said, from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.

Despise not, I pray thee, the unspeakable mercy of God, when, through the prophet, he calls the wicked from their sins, as follows: Instantly shall I speak to the nation and to the kingdom, so that I may pluck up, and scatter, and destroy, and ruin. He earnestly exhorts the sinner to repentance in this passage: And if that nation repent of its sin, I also shall repent respecting the evil which I spake to do unto it. Again: Who will give them such a heart that they may hear me, and keep my precepts, and it may be well unto them all the days of their life. Again, in the song of Deuteronomy, he says: They are a people void of counsel and understanding. O that they were wise, that they understood and foresaw their last end! how one shall chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight. Again, in the gospel, the Lord says: Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I shall cause you to rest.53 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; because I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For if thou hear these things with deaf ears, thou contemnest the prophets, thou despisest Christ, and me, though a man of the lowest estate I grant, thou regardest as of no weight, though at any rate I keep that word of the prophet with sincere godliness of mind: I shall surely fill my strength with the spirit and power of the Lord, so as to make known unto the house of Jacob their sins, and to the house of Israel their offences, lest I be as dumb dogs that cannot bark. Also that word of Solomon, who says thus: He that saith that the wicked is just, shall be accursed of the people, and hated of the nations: for they who convict him shall hope better thing’s. Again: Thou shalt not respect thy neighbour to his own ruin, nor hold back word in the time of salvation. Also: Pluck out those that are drawn unto death, and redeem those that are slain, spare not, because, as the same prophet says, riches shall not profit in the day of wrath; righteousness delivereth from death. If the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? That dark flood of hell shall roll round thee with its deadly whirl and fierce waves; it shall always torture and never consume thee, to whom, at that time too late and profitless, shall be the real knowledge of pain and repentance for sin, from which the conversion to the righteous way of life, is delayed by thee.

Chapter 37: Reasons for Introducing Words of the Holy Prophets (sancti vates).

[37] Here indeed, or even before, was to be concluded this tearful and complaining story55 of the evils of this age, so that my mouth should no further relate the deeds of men. But let them not suppose that I am timid or wearied, so as not to be carefully on my guard against that saying of Isaiah: Woe unto him who calleth evil good, and good evil, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness, bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Who seeing do not see, and hearing do not hear, whose heart is covered with a thick cloud of vices. Rather, I wish succinctly to relate what threatenings, and how great, the oracles of the prophets exclaim against the above-named lascivious and mad five horses of the retinue of Pharaoh, by whom his army is actively incited to its ruin in the Red sea, and those like unto them. By these oracles, as if by a noble roof, the undertaking of my little work is safely covered, so that it may not stand open to the rain-storms of envious men, which shall rush upon it, vieing with one another.

Let, therefore, the holy prophets speak for me now, as they did formerly—-they who stood forth as the mouth, so to speak, of God, the instrument of the Holy Spirit with prohibition of sins unto men, befriending the good—-against the stubborn and proud princes of this age, lest they say, that out of my own invention and mere wordy rashness, I am hurling against them such threatenings, and terrors of such magnitude. For to no wise man is it doubtful how much more grievous are the sins of this time, than those of the primitive time, when the apostle says: He that transgresses the law, is put to death on the word of two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishments, think ye, is he worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God.

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book 4: Quotations from Scripture, made consecutively in the order of books, denouncing wicked Princes.

[38] The first to meet us is Samuel, who by the command of God founded a legitimate kingdom, a man dedicated to God before his birth, a true prophet to all the people of Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba, known by indubitably wonderful signs. From his mouth the Holy Spirit thundered to all the powers of the world, when denouncing Saul, the first king of the Hebrews, for the simple reason that he had not fulfilled certain commands of the Lord. His words are: Thou hast done foolishly, nor hast thou kept the commandments of the Lord thy God, which He commanded thee. If thou hadst not done this thing, God would now prepare thy kingdom over Israel for ever; but thy kingdom shall arise no further. What then is there like to the crimes of this time? Did. he commit adultery or murder? Not at all. He, however, made a partial change of the command, because, as one of ourselves has well said, “the question is not respecting the kind of sin, but respecting the transgression of a command.” And when he was attempting to disprove the charges, as he thought, and weaving apologies, as is the custom with men, after the following plausible manner: Verily I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and walked in the way by which He sent me; the prophet punished him with such a censure; as the following: Doth the Lord, he says, desire burnt offerings or victims, and not rather to obey the voice of the Lord? For obedience is better than victims, and to hearken is more than to offer the fat of rams, since resistance is as the sin of witchcraft, and as the crime of idolatry is the refusal to obey. Therefore, because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king. And a little after: God hath rent, he says, the kingdom of Israel from thee to-day, and hath given it to thy neighbour, better than thou. Truly the Victor in Israel will not spare, and by penitence will He not be bent; for He is not man, that He should repent, that is to say, because of the hard hearts of the wicked.

We must, therefore, observe that he says, the refusal to obey God is the crime of idolatry.56 Let not those wicked ones applaud themselves, when they do not publicly sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles, since by treading under foot, like swine, the costliest pearls of Christ, they are idolaters.

[39] But although this one example, with its impregnable confirmation, should be fully sufficient to amend the wicked, nevertheless, in order that in the mouth of many witnesses the whole wickedness of Britain may be established, let us pass on to the rest.

What happened to David when he numbered the people, the prophet Gad saying unto him: Thus saith the Lord: The choice of three things is given thee; choose the one thou wilt, that I may do it unto thee; either famine shall befall thee seven years, or thou shalt flee from thine enemies three months and they pursue thee, or there shall be a pestilence in thy land three days? Being hard pressed by such a condition, and willing rather to fall into the hands of God, the merciful, than into the hands of men, he is humbled by the slaughter of 70,000 of his people. Had he not, moved by apostolic love, chosen to die for his countrymen, so that the plague should not touch them, as he said: It is I that have sinned, I the shepherd have done unrighteously; those that are sheep, what sin have they committed f let thy hand, I pray, be turned against me and against my father’s house: had he not done this, he would have made expiation for his heedless pride of heart by his own death.

For what says the Scripture in a later part respecting his son? Solomon, it tells us, did that which was not pleasing in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord as his father. …. The Lord said unto him, forasmuch as thou hast had this with thee, and hast not kept my covenant and my precepts which I have given thee, I will break asunder and divide thy kingdom and give it to thy servant.

[40] What befell two sacrilegious kings of Israel, just like those of ours, Jeroboam and Baasha, hear. The judgment of the Lord against these men is conveyed through the prophet, saying: Forasmuch as I have magnified thee to be prince over Israel, because they have provoked me by their vanities, behold I stir up after Baasha and after his house, and I shall render his house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of his in the city, shall the dogs eat, and his dead body in the field shall the fowls of heaven consume. What also against that wicked king of Israel (fellow of those) by whose collusion, and by the guile of his wife, innocent Naboth was put to death, for the sake of his vineyard, inherited from his fathers? What is threatened by the holy mouth of that Elijah, by the mouth taught in the fiery message of the Lord? Thus he says: Thou hast even killed and taken possession; and thou shalt add this, saith the Lord: in this place, in which the dogs have licked the blood of Naboth, they will also lick thy blood. That the event did come to pass in this way is known to us by certain proof. But lest, as in the case of the aforementioned Ahab, a lying spirit, speaking vain things in the mouth of your prophets, seduce you from hearkening to the words of the prophet Micah, behold God hath allowed a lying spirit to be in the mouth of all thy prophets that are here, and the Lord hath spoken evil against thee. For even now, it is certain, there are some teachers filled with an opposing spirit, declaring for depraved lust rather than for truth, whose words are made softer than oil and yet are very javelins, who say, “peace, peace,” and there shall not be peace for those who persist in sins, as the prophet elsewhere says: “there is no joy for the wicked, saith the Lord.”

[41] Azarias, also the son of Obed, spoke unto Asa, when he was returning from the slaughter of ten hundred thousand of the Ethiopian army, saying: The Lord is with you, whilst ye are with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; and if ye leave Him, He will leave you. For if Jehoshaphat, while aiding an unjust king, is thus reproved by the prophet Jehu, son of Annanias, saying: If’ thou helpest a sinner or lovest him whom the Lord hateth, the anger of God on that account is upon thee, what shall be unto them who are bound in the fetters of their own crimes? The sins of these men, if we wish to fight in the Lord’s battle, we must hate, not their souls, as the Psalmist says: Ye who love the Lord, hate evil.

What did the afore-named Elijah, the chariot of Israel and horseman thereof, utter unto the son of Jehoshaphat, even Jehoram the murderer, who butchered his noble brothers, that he, a bastard, might reign in their stead. Thus saith the Lord God of thy father David: Because thou hast not walked in the way of Jehoshaphat thy father, and in the ways of Asa, King of Judah, and hast adulterously walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab, and hast killed thy brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat, better than thou, behold the Lord shall strike thee and thy sons with a great plague. A little later: And thou shalt have great sickness by weakness of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out with very infirmity, from day to day. And hear ye also how Zecharias, the son of Jehoiadah, the prophet, menaced Joash, King of Israel, when he abandoned the Lord, as ye do. He rose and said unto the people: Thus saith the Lord: Why do ye transgress the precepts of the Lord, and prosper not? Because ye have left the Lord, He will also leave you.

[42] What shall I say of Isaiah, the first of the prophets? He began his prophecy or his vision by saying: Hear ye heavens, and understand with your ears, O! earth, since the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, but they have despised me. The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass its master’s crib: but Israel knoweth me not, and my people hath not understood. A little further, adding fit threatenings for such a folly, he says: The daughter of Sion shall be left like a tent in a vineyard, and as a booth in a garden of cucumbers, like a city that is racked. And when he particularly summons the princes, he says: Hear the word of the Lord, ye princes of Sodom; know the law of the Lord, ye people of Gomorrah. It is certainly worthy of observation that unjust kings are called princes of Sodom. For, by way of forbidding the offering of sacrifices and gifts to him by such men (whilst we greedily accept 57 things that from every nation are displeasing to God, and to our own destruction prevent the distribution of those same things to the needy and penniless), so does the Lord speak unto men burdened with immense riches, and yet having the mean purposes of sinners. Bring no more a sacrifice in vain; incense is an abomination unto me. Again he declares: And when ye stretch forth your hand, I will turn away from you; and when ye multiply prayer, I will not hear. Why He does this is set forth: Your hands are full of blood.

Showing at the same time how he might be appeased, he says: Wash ye, be ye clean; put away, the evil of your thoughts from before mine eyes; cease from perverse doing; learn to do good; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless. As if assuming in addition the part of reconciler, he says: If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be red like a worm, they shall be white as wool. If ye be willing and hear me, ye shall eat the good of the land. Because if ye refuse and provoke me to anger, the sword shall devour you.

[43] Receive one who truly and publicly assents to these words, when he declares the recompense of your good and evil, with no disguise of flattery; not as the mouths of your flatterers whisper respectable poisonous things into your ears.

Also, directing his judgment against rapacious judges, he speaks thus: Thy princes are unfaithful companions of thieves; they all love gifts and follow after rewards; they judge not the fatherless, and the cause of the widow cometh not iinto them. Therefore saith the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah! I shall be cheered with respect to my enemies, and be avenged of my adversaries; and the heinous transgressors and the sinners shall be crushed together and destroyed, and all who have abandoned the Lord shall be consumed. Also below: The eyes of the lofty man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down. Again: Woe unto the wicked for evil, for the reward of his hands shall be unto him. A little after: Woe unto you that rise up early to follow after drunkenness, and to drink until the evening, until ye are inflamed with wine. The harp, the lyre, the tabret, the pipe and wine are in your feasts; and the work of the Lord ye regard not, and the work of His hands ye consider not. Therefore my people have been led captive, because they have not had knowledge; and their honourable men have perished with famine, and their multitude have parched with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged her soul, and opened her mouth without measure: and their strong ones and their multitude, their lofty and renowned ones, shall descend unto it. And below: Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle drunkenness; who justify the ivicked for rewards, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. Because of this, as the fire devoureth stubble, and the heat of the flame burneth wood, so shall their root be as embers, and their blossom shall go iip as dust. For they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. In all this the anger of the Lord is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.

[44] And after some further words, treating of the day of judgment and the unspeakable fear of sinners, he says: Howl ye, because the day of the Lord is at hand—-if it was then near, what shall be thought now?—-because destruction shall come from God. Therefore shall all hands be unloosed, and every heart of man shall melt and be crushed: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman in travail. Each one shall be amazed at his neighbour; their countenance shall be as faces burnt. Behold the day of the Lord shall come cruel, and full of indignation and wrath and anger, to place the land a desolation, and its sinners crushed out thereof; since the stars of heaven and their splendour shall not spread their light; the sun shall be darkened in its rising, and the moon not shine in her time. And I shall visit the evils of the world, and, against the impious, their iniquity; and shall cause the pride of the unfaithful to become quiet, and the haughtiness of the strong will I lay low. Again: Behold the Lord shall waste the earth, and make it empty, and afflict its face, and scatter abroad the inhabitants thereof, and it shall be, as the people, so the priest; and as the servant so his master; as the maid, so her mistress; as the buyer, so he who sells; as the lender, so he who borrows; as he who claims a debt, so he who is in debt. The land shall be utterly dispersed, and shall be despoiled with pillaging. For the Lord hath spoken this word: The earth hath mourned and hath faded away; the world hath faded away; the loftiness of the people of the earth hath been weakened, and the earth hath been brought to nought by its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, have changed the right, and have broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore shall a curse devour the earth.

[45] And below: They that are merry in heart shall sigh, the joy of tabrets shall cease, the noise of them that rejoice shall rest, the delight of the harp with its song shall be silent, they shall not drink wine, bitter shall be their drink to them that drink it, The city of vanity is wasted; closed is every house, because no man entereth therein. There shall be crying in the streets over the wine, all joy is failed, all gladness of the land is carried away, desolation is left in the city, and adversity shall bear down the gates; for these things shall be in the midst of the land, and in the midst of the people. After a few words: The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously, and with the treachery of transgressors have they dealt treacherously. Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, who art an inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, he who fleeth from the voice of fear shall fall into the pit; and he that is freed from the pit shall be taken in the snare, because the floodgates from above will be opened, and the foundations of the earth will be shaken. The earth shall be utterly broken; it shall be moved exceedingly; it shall be clean staggered like a drunken man, and shall be carried away like a tent pitched for a night; its transgressions shall be heavy upon it; it shall fall, and shall make no effort to rise. It shall come to pass, in that day shall the Lord visit the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth that are upon the earth, and they shall be gathered together as a host of one bundle into the pit, they shall be shut in prison there, and after many days shall they be visited. The moon shall blush, and the sun be confounded, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and shall be glorified in the presence of his elders.

[46] After a while, giving a reason why such things should be threatened, he says thus: Behold the Lords hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear become heavy, that it hear not. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He should not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity: your lips have spoken falsehood, and your tongue uttereth wickedness. There is none that calleth for justice, nor is there that judgeth truly, but they confide in nothingness; they speak vanities, they have conceived sorrow and have brought forth iniquity. And below: Their works are unprofitable, and the work of inquity is in their hands. Their feet run into evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are unprofitable thoughts; desolation and destruction are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known; and there is no judgment in their steps. Their paths have been made crooked by them; everyone who walketh therein knoweth not peace. Therefore is judgment made far from you, and righteousness hath not got hold of you. After a few words: And judgment is turned back, and righteousness hath stood afar: because truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness could not enter. Truth hath become in oblivion; and he who hath departed from evil, hath become open to prey. And the Lord saw it, and it was not pleasing in His eyes that there is no judgment.

[47] So far, let it suffice to have said a few, out of many, of the words of Isaiah the Prophet.

Now with equal attention listen to him who, before he was formed in the womb, was foreknown, was sanctified and appointed a prophet among all nations also, before he parted with his mother—-listen, I say, to Jeremiah, what he has pronounced concerning a foolish people and stiff-necked kings. He begins his utterances gently in this manner. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, and say. . . . Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye house of Jacob, and all kindred of the house of Israel: thus saith the Lord, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me, that they are far removed from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain, and have not said, Where is He who caused us to come up out of the land of Egypt? After a few words: From of old hast thou broken my yoke, thou hast burst my chains; thou saidst, I will not serve. I planted thee a chosen vine, all a true seed. How then art thou turned into evil things as a strange vine? If thou wash thee with nitre, and multiply unto thee the plant borith, thou art marked by thine iniquity before me, saith the Lord. And below: Wherefore will ye plead with me in judgment, ye have all abandoned me, saith the Lord. In vain have I smitten your children; they have not received discipline. Hear the word of the Lord. Have I become a wilderness unto Israel, or a late bearing land? Wherefore, then, hath my people said: We have gone away, we will no more come unto thee? Doth a maid forget her ornament, or a bride the fillet of her bosom? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Because my people is foolish, they know me not: unwise children are they, and without understanding; they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. Then the prophet speaks in his own person, saying: O Lord thine eyes behold faithfulness. Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved: Thou hast ground them, and they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock, and have refused to return. The Lord also: Declare ye this to the house of Jacob and make it heard in Judah, saying: Hear, ye foolish people, who have no heart, who, having eyes, see not; and ears, and do not hear. Will ye then not fear me, saith the Lord, and will ye not grieve at my presence? I who have placed the sand for a bound to the sea as a perpetual decree, which it will not pass by. Its waves shall be moved, and they cannot prevail; they shall swell, and shall not pass over it. But to this people there hath come an unbelieving and exasperating heart: they have retreated and departed, and have not said in their heart: Let us fear the Lord our God. And again: Because among my people have been found wicked men, lying in wait as fowlers, setting gins and snares to catch men; as a trap is full of birds, so their houses are full of guile. Therefore they are become great and waxen rich, they are waxen stout and fat, and they have most wickedly passed by my words: the cause of the fatherless they have not pleaded, and the judgment of the poor they have not judged. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord, or shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

[49] But God forbid that what follows should befall you: Thou shalt, speak all these words unto them, and they shall not hear thee; and thou shalt call them, and they will not answer thee; and thou shalt say unto them: This is a nation which hath not heard the voice of the Lord its God, nor received correction; faithfulness is perished, and is taken away from their mouth. After a while: Will he who falls not rise again, and he who is turned away not return? Why then is this people in Jerusalem turned away with obstinate backsliding? They have seized falsehood, and have refused to return, I watched and hearkened, no orte speaketh that which is good. There is none who repenteth of his sin, saying: What have I done? All have turned to their own course, as a horse rushing headlong into battle. The kite in the heaven knoweth her time, the turtle and swallow and stork have kept the time of their coming; My people knoweth not the judgment of God. And the prophet—-terrified at so great a blindness of the irreligious and the unspeakable drunkenness, weeping also for those who do not weep for themselves (just as miserable tyrants behave now)—-desires that an increase of tears be given him by the Lord, speaking as follows: For the grief of the daughter of my people am I worn out; astonishment hath taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, or is there no physician there? Why, then, is the wound of the daughter of my people not closed? Who will give, wafer unto my head, and unto mine eyes a fountain of tears? A nd I shall weep day and night for the slain of my people. Who will give me in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men? A nd I shall leave my people and go away from them, since they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. They have stretched their tongue like a bow of falsehood and not of truth. They have become strong in the land, because they have proceeded from evil to evil, and have not known Me, saith the Lord. Again: And the Lord said: Because they have forsaken My law, which I gave unto them, and have not hearkened unto My voice nor walked therein, and have gone after the wickedness of their heart; on that account, thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, behold I shall feed this people with wormwood and give them water of gall to drink. And a little after, speaking in the person of God, a way which the prophet very frequently assumes: Therefore pray thou not for this people, and raise not up for them praise and prayer, because I will not hear them in the time of their crying unto Me and their trouble.

[50] What then shall unhappy leaders do now? Those few who have abandoned the broad way and are finding the narrow, are forbidden by God to pour out prayers for you, who persist in evil and tempt Him so greatly: upon whom, on the contrary, if you return with your heart unto God, they could not bring ven-geance, because God is unwilling that the soul of man should perish, but calls it back, lest he who is cast away should utterly perish. Because, not even Jonas the prophet, and that when he greatly desired it, could bring vengeance on the Ninevites. But putting aside, meanwhile, our own words, let us rather hear what sound the prophetic trumpet gives: And if thou say this in thy heart, wherefore are these evils come? They come for the greatness of thy iniquity. If the Ethiop can change his skin, or the leopard his spots, ye also can do good, who have learnt to do evil. Here it is understood, “ye are not willing.” And below: Thus saith the Lord to this people that hath loved to move its feet, and hath not rested, and hath not been pleasing unto the Lord; now will He remember their iniquities and visit their sins. And the Lord said unto me, Pray not for that people for their good. When they fast, I shall not hear their cries; and if they offer burnt-offerings and victims, I will not accept them. Again: And the Lord said unto me: If Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind is not toward that people; cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And after a few words: Who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go to pray for thy peace? Thou hast abandoned Me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward, and I shall stretch forth My hand over thee, and kill thee. And after a while? Thus saith the Lord, behold I frame a device against you; let every one return from his evil way, and make straight your ways and pursuits. And they said: We despair, after our own devices will we walk, and we will everyone do the wickedness of his own evil heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, ask ye the nations, who hath heard such horrible things as the virgin Israel hath done beyond measure? Shall the snow of Lebanon fail from the rock of the field? or can the bursting waters flowing cool be drawn away? Because My people have forgotten Me. After a while, having placed a choice before them, he speaks, saying: Thus saith the Lord: Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver him that is oppressed by violence from the hand of the oppressor, and afflict not the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; neither oppress iniquitously, nor shed innocent blood. For if ye thoroughly do this word, there shall enter in by the gates of this house kings of the race of David, sitting upon his throne: because if ye hear not these words, I have sworn unto Myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall be a desert. Again, for he was speaking of a wicked king: As I live, saith the Lord, if Jechoniah were the ring on my right hand, I will pluck him hence, and give him in the hands of those that seek his life.

[51] Holy Habakkuk also crieth out, saying: Woe to him that buildeth. a city in blood, and prepareth a city by iniquities, saying: Are these things not from the Lord Almighty? and many peoples have perished by fire, and nations many have been diminished. He thus begins his prophecy with a complaint: How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? I shall cry unto Thee, why hast thou given unto me hardships and griefs, to see misery and ungodliness? To the contrary hath both a judgment been made and the judge accepted it. Wherefore the law is demolished and judgment is not brought to an end, because the ungodly by might trampleth down the righteous. Therefore judgment goeth forth perverted.

[52] Listen also to what the blessed prophet Hosea says of princes: For that they have transgressed my covenant, and have borne themselves against my law; and were crying out, we know thee that thou art against Israel. They have persecuted the good, as if unrighteous; they have reigned for themselves, and not by me; they have held the chief place, nor have they recognised me.

[53] Hear also the holy prophet Amos threatening as follows: For three transgressions of the sons of Judah, and for four, I will not turn them aside; because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept His precepts, and their vanities have led them astray. And I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the foundations of Jerusalem. Thus saith the Lord, For three iniquities of Israel and for four I will not turn them aside, because they have betrayed the righteous for money and the needy for shoes, which tread upon the dust of the earth, and with cuffs have they struck the heads of the poor, and have shunned the way of the humble. After a few words: Seek the Lord and ye shall live, so that the house of Ioseph shall not blaze like fire and devour it, and there shall not be to quench it. The house of Israel have hated him that reproveth in the gates, and have abhorred the righteous word. And this Amos, when being forbidden to prophesy in Israel, without the mildness of flattery says in answer: I was not a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but was a goat herd plucking the fruit of sycamores; and the Lord took me from the sheep, and the Lord said unto me, Go and prophesy unto my people Israel; and now hear thou the word of the Lord. For he was addressing the king. Thou sayest Prophesy not unto Israel and gather not crowds against the house of Jacob. Therefore thus saith the Lord. Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy lands shall be measured by line, and thou shalt die in an unclean land; and Israel shall be led away captive out of his land. And below: Hear therefore these things, ye that fiercely afflict the needy and employ tyranny against the poor in the land; who say, When shall the month be gone that we may get, and the sabbath that we may open our treasure. After a few words: The Lord sweareth against the pride of Jacob. Shall. He forget your works in scorn, and in these things shall not the land tremble? and every one that dwelleth thereon shall mourn, and its consummation shall rise like a flood. A nd I will turn your feast days into mourning, and shall cast haircloth upon every loin, and baldness upon every head, and I will render it as a mourning for a beloved one, and those that are with him, as a day of sorrow. And again: All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, Evils shall not overtake nor come upon us.

[54] But listen also what the holy prophet Micah has said: Hear thou, O! tribe; what shall adorn a city? Not fire? Not the house of the unjust treasuring unjust treasures? Not unrighteousness with injury?58 Shall the unjust be justified in his balance, or deceitful weights in the bag, out of which they filled up their riches in ungodliness?

[55] But hear also what threats the distinguished prophet Zephaniah heaps up: The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening greatly. The voice of the day of the Lord hath been appointed bitter and mighty, that day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of cloud and mist, a day of trumpet and cry, a day of misery and desolation, a day of darkness and thick gloom, over strong cities and high corner towers. A nd I will distress men, and they shall go as blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; and I will pour out their blood as dust, and their flesh as the dung of oxen; and their silver and gold cannot deliver them in the day of the Lord’s anger. And by the fire of his jealousy shall the whole land be consumed, when the Lord shall bring an end and a loneliness over all that dwell in the land. Come together, and gather yourselves together, nation without discipline; before ye be made as a flower that passeth away, before the anger of the Lord come upon you.

[56] Listen also what Haggai, the holy prophet, says: Thus saith the Lord: Once shall I move heaven and earth and sea and dry land, and will turn away the kingdom and banish the strength of the kings of the nations, and turn away the chariots and those (them) that mount thereon.

[57] Now again, observe what Zachariah, son of Adda, the chosen prophet, has said, beginning his prophecy in this manner: Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord, and be not such as your fathers, whom the former prophets charged, saying, Thus saith the Lord Almighty: Return ye from your ways: and they did not observe so as to hearken unto me. Below also: And the angel said unto me, What seest thou? and I said, I see a flying scythe of twenty cubits in length. It is the curse which goeth forth over the face of the whole earth; since every thief shall from it be punished unto death, and I shall cast him forth saith the Lord Almighty; and it shall enter into the thief’s house, and into the house of swearing . falsely in my name.

[58] Holy Malachy the prophet also says: Behold the day of the Lord shall come, burning as a furnace; and all the proud and all who work wickedness shall be as stubble, and the coming day shall set them on fire, saith the Lord of hosts, which shall not leave of them root or shoot.

[59] But hear what holy Job also has taught respecting the beginning and end of the wicked, saying: Wherefore do the wicked live? And they have become old dishonourably, and their seed is according to their desire, and their sons before their face; and their houses are fruitful, and never is the fear or the scourge of the Lord upon them. Their cow hath not been abortive, and their animal, big with young, hath brought forth and hath not gone astray; but it abideth as an eternal flock, and their children rejoice, taking up both psaltery and harp. They finished their life in good things, and stept into the rest of the grave. God, then, does not regard the deeds of the wicked? No, not so, I conclude. But the candle of the wicked shall be extinguished, and calamity shall come upon them, and pain as of one in childbirth shall hold them through anger. And they shall be like chaff before wind, and as dust, which the whirlwind carrieth away. May his goods fail to his children. Let his eyes see his own destruction, and may he not be redeemed by the Lord. After a while, of the same: Those who have carried away the flock with the shepherd, he says, and have taken away the beast of the orphans, and have pledged the widow’s ox, and have shunned the weak in the way of need, they have reaped a field, not their own, before its time; the poor have worked the vineyards of the strong, without pay and without hire; they have caused many to sleep naked without clothing; the covering of their life have they taken away. After a few words, when he knew their deeds, he delivered them over to darkness: Cursed therefore be his portion from the earth, and may his plantations appear as parched ones. Let there be, therefore, retribution to him as he hath done; let every wicked man be destroyed as a tree without health. For he riseth in anger, and overturns the weak. Therefore he shall not have confidence of his life, when he shall begin to grow weak; he shall not hope for health, but shall fall into weariness. For his pride hath wounded many, and he hath become withered as the mallow in heat, as the ear of corn when it falleth from its stem. Below also: Although his children be many, they shall be for destruction. Though he gather silver like earth, and prepare gold like unto clay, all these do the just obtain.

[60] Listen besides to what the blessed prophet Esdras, that volume of the law, has threatened, treating in this manner: Thus says my Lord, my right hand shall not spare sinners, neither shall the sword cease over them that shed innocent blood upon the earth. The fire shall go forth from my anger, and shall devour the foundations of the earth, and sinners like kindled straw. Woe unto them who sin and keep not my commandments, saith the Lord, I will not spare them. Depart ye apostate children, and defile not my holiness. God knoweth those that sin against Him, therefore He will deliver them unto death and unto destruction. For now have evils many come upon the whole earth. A sword of fire is sent upon you, and who shall turn back those evils? Will anyone turn back a hungry lion in the wood? Or what shall quench fire, when the straw is kindled? The Lord God will send evils and who will turn them back? And fire shall go forth from His wrath, and who is he that shall quench it? He shall send lightning, and who shall not fear? He shall thunder, and who shall not dread it? God shall threaten, and who shall not be terrified before His face? The earth shall quake and the foundations of the sea move like waves from the deep.

[61] Listen also to what Ezekiel the famous prophet, the wonderful seer of the four beasts of the gospels, has said of the wicked. To him first, as he piteously weeps the scourge of Israel, the Lord says: The iniquity of the house of Israel and of Judah hath grown exceeding great, because the land is full of many peoples and the city is full of iniquity and uncleanness. Behold it is I. Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity. And below. Because the land is full of peoples, and the city is full of iniquity, I will also turn away the force of their prowess, and their holy places shall be polluted. Supplication shall come, and they shall seek peace, and it shall not be. And after a while. The word of the Lord, he says, came unto me saying, Son of man, the land which shall sin against me to commit a trespass, I will stretch out my hand and break her foundation of bread, and send famine upon it, and take away from it man and beast. Although those three men be in the midst of it, Noah, Daniel, and Job, they shall not deliver it, but shall be themselves saved by their righteousness, saith the Lord. Because if I bring noisome beasts upon the land, and punish it, and it shall be a banishment, and there shall not be to walk from the face of the beasts, and if those three men be in the midst of it, as I live saith the Lord, its sons and daughters shall not be delivered, yet they themselves alone shall be saved, but the land shall be a desolation. And again. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself. And the unjust man if he turn from all the iniquities which he hath done, and keep all my commandments, and do righteousness and plenteous mercy, he shall surely live and not die. All his transgressions which he hath committed, shall not be: in the righteousness which he hath done, he shall surely live. Do I, indeed, desire the death of the unrighteous, saith the Lord, rather than that he turn from his own evil way and live? But when the righteous shall turn away from his righteousness and commit iniquity, according to all the unrighteousnesses which the sinner hath committed, all the righteousnesses which he hath done, shall not be in remembrance. In his own trespass, by which he hath fallen, and in the sins by which he hath sinned, shall he die. And after a while. And all the nations shall know that it was on account of their sins the house of Israel were carried away captive, because they forsook me. And I have turned my face away from them, and delivered them into the hands of their enemies, and all have fallen by the sword. According to their uncleanness, and according to their transgressions, have I done unto them and have turned my face away from them.

[62] Let this be sufficient to say respecting the threats of the holy prophets. I have, however, thought it necessary to insert in this little work a few things from The Wisdom of Solomon, so as to declare exhortation or intimation to kings no less than threats, lest it should be said of me, that I wish to place burdens of words, heavy and grievous to be borne, upon the shoulders of men, but am unwilling to move them with my finger, that is, by a word of consolation. Let us hear, therefore, what the prophet hath said. Love righteousness, he says, ye that judge the earth. This one testimony, if it were kept with the whole heart, would abundantly suffice to set right the rulers of the land. For if they had loved righteousness, they would also certainly love the fountain, as it were, and source of all righteousness, even God. Serve the Lord in goodness, and in singleness of heart seek ye him. Alas! “who shall be alive,” as someone before us says, “when those things are done by our citizens,” if haply they can be done anywhere, Because he is found of them that tempt him not, but appeareth unto them who have faith in him. For those men tempt God without respect, whose precepts they despise with stubborn contumacy; nor do they keep faith towards him unto whose oracles, pleasant or partly severe, they turn their back and not their face. For froward thoughts separate from God. This is that which is chiefly observed in the tyrants of our time. But why is my insignificant self brought in where the meaning is so manifest? For let him speak on my behalf, as I have said, who alone is true, that is to say, the Holy Spirit, of whom it is now said: For a holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit. Again: Because the spirit of God hath filled the world. And below, showing with clear judgment the end of evil and good, he says. For the hope of the ungodly man is as the down of plants, that is carried away by the wind; and as the smoke that is dispersed by wind, and as the thin foam that is driven away by the storm, and as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but a day; but the righteous shall live for ever, and with God is their reward, and the care for them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive the kingdom of dignity, and the crown of beauty, from the Lord’s hand: because with His right hand He shall cover them, and with His holy arm shall He protect them. For unlike in quality are they; they are righteous and ungodly; there is no doubt of this, as the Lord has said, I shall honour them 63 who honour me, and they that despise me shall be unknown. But let us pass on to the other things. Hear, he says, all ye kings and under-stand, learn ye judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, ye that hold dominion over multitudes, and pride yourselves in crowds of nations. Because power was given, you of God, and your strength from the Most High, who shall inquire into your works, and search out your counsels. Because, though ye were ministers of this kingdom, ye have not judged aright, nor kept the law of righteousness, nor walked according to His will; awfully and speedily shall He appear unto you, because a stern judgment shall be unto them that rule. For mercy is granted to the mean, but mighty men shall mightily suffer torments. For He who is Ruler of all will not thrust aside men’s persons, nor will He reverence any man’s greatness, because it is He that hath made the mean and the great, and He hath care for all alike. But a very sore trial is at hand unto the mighty. Unto you, therefore, O kings, are these words of mine, that ye may learn wisdom, and fall not away. For they that have kept righteous things shall be justified, and they that have learnt holy things shall be made holy.

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book 5

[64] So far, I have argued with the kings of my country no less by oracles of prophets than by my own words, desiring that they should know what the prophet had said: Flee from sins, he says, as from the face of a serpent; if thou draw nigh unto them, the teeth of a lion shall catch thee, their teeth that slay the souls of men. And again: How great is the mercy of the Lord, and His reconciliation unto them that turn unto Him. If I have not in me that apostolic word,60 that I should say, I could wish to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren, I could, nevertheless, say that word of the prophet with my whole heart: Alas! a soul perisheth. Again: Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord; let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in heaven; but also that apostolic saying, We desire every one of you to be in the bowels of Christ.

[65] How gladly, in this place, as one tossed by the waves of the sea, and carried into the desired haven by the oars, would I, under the prompting of modesty, take my rest, did I not see mountains so great, and of such a kind, of the evil committed by bishops or the other priests, or by clergy of my own order also, raised up against God. These must I first, according to the law, as the witnesses did, with rough stones of words, and then the people, if they cling to the decrees, stone with all our might, not that they may be killed in the body, but, by being dead unto sins, they may live unto God. This I do lest I be accused of making an exception of persons. Yet, as I have already said in the former part, I crave pardon from those whose life I not only praise, but even prefer to all the wealth of the world, of which, if it be possible, sometime before the day of my death, I desire and thirst to be a partaker. While my sides are now made invincible by a rampart of two shields of saints, with my back steadfast against the walls of truth, while my head is most surely covered by the Lord’s help for a helmet, let the stones of my censures fly in a thick flight of truthful words.

[66] Priests Britain has, but foolish ones; a great number of ministers, but shameless; clergy, but crafty plunderers; pastors, so to say, but wolves ready for the slaughter of souls, certainly not providing what is of benefit for the people, but seeking the filling of their own belly. They have church edifices, but enter them for the sake of filthy lucre; they teach the people, but by furnishing the worst examples, teach vice and evil morals; they seldom sacrifice, and never stand among the altars with pure heart; they do not reprove the people on account of their sins, nay, in fact, they commit the same; they despise the commandments of Christ, and are careful to satisfy their own lusts with all their prayers: they get possession of the seat of the apostle Peter with unclean feet, but, by the desert of cupidity, fall into the unwholesome chair of the traitor Judas. Truth they hate as an enemy, and favour lies as if they were their dearest brothers: the righteous poor they eye like huge serpents, with fierce countenances, and respect the rich impious, with no touch of shame, like angels from heaven. They preach that alms should be given to the needy, with all the power of their lips, but they themselves contribute not a penny. Silent as to abominable sins of the people, they magnify their own injuries as if inflicted upon Christ. They drive out of house a religious mother, may be, or sisters, and unbecomingly make light of strange women, as if for a more hidden service, or rather, to speak the truth, though it be of improper things—-not so much for me as for the men who do such things—-they demean them. After these things, they are more ready to seek ecclesiastical positions than the kingdom of heaven; and these, when received by an illegal rite,64 they defend without even adorning them by legitimate usages. Towards the precepts of the saints, if indeed they have at any time heard these things, which ought to be very frequently heard by them, they are listless and dull; while for public games and the scandalous tales of men of the world, they are active and attentive; as if the things which open the way of death were the way of life. They are hoarse, by reason of fat, like bulls; and are unhappily ready even for things unlawful; proudly holding their faces aloft, and their feelings plunged down to the lowest, even to hell, though with the remorse of conscience; grieving at the loss of a single penny, glad also at the gain of one. In apostolic decrees, because of ignorance or the weight of sins, while they stop the mouths of even the knowing, they are sluggish and dumb, yet in the false windings of worldly affairs, they are exceedingly well versed. Many of these men, after a wicked life, rather force their way into the priesthood, or buy it at almost any price, than be drawn into the same; and in the same old and accursed mire of unbearable crimes, after gaining the priestly chair of episcopate or presbyterate (men who never sat thereon), meanly wallow like swine. They have violently seized the mere name of priest, without receiving its true meaning or apostolic worthiness, but as men, who in respect of sound faith and by repentance for sins, are not yet fit. How do they arrive at and acquire any ecclesiastical rank, to say nothing of the highest? because it is a rank which none save the holy and perfect, and those who imitate the apostles, and, to speak in the words of the teacher of the gentiles, those without reproach, undertake in a legitimate way and without the great sin of sacrilege.

[67] For what is so impious and so wicked as, after the pattern of Simon Magus, though meanwhile no indiscriminate sins intervene, that any one should wish to purchase the office of bishop or presbyter for an earthly price, an office that is more becomingly obtained by holiness and upright character? But the error of those men lies the more grave and desperate in the fact that they buy counterfeit and unprofitable priesthood, not from apostles or the successors of apostles, but from tyrants and from their father the devil. Nay, furthermore, they place upon the edifice of an infamous life a kind of roof and covering for all sins, in order that admitted desires, old or new, of covetousness and gluttony should not be easily placed to their charge by any one, seeing that, having oversight of many, they carry on their pillage with greater ease. For if truly such a stipulation of purchase had been presented by those shameless men, let me not say to the apostle Peter, but to any holy priest and pious king, they would have received the same answer as the originator of the same, the magician Simon, received from the apostle when Peter said: Thy money perish with thee. But perhaps, alas! they who ordain those candidates, nay, rather, who abase them and give them a curse for a blessing, because out of sinners they make, not penitents, which would be more befitting, but sacrilegious and irremediable offenders, and in a way appoint Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, to the chair of Peter, and Nicolaus, the founder of a foul heresy, in place of Stephen the martyr—-perhaps they were summoned to the priesthood after the same manner. For this reason, in the case of their sons, they do not greatly detest (they rather approve), that it is a matter of utmost certainty that things should come to pass afterwards as with the fathers. Since, if they could not find this kind of pearl, because fellow-labourers resisted them in a diocese, and sternly refused them so profitable a business, they are not so much grieved as delighted to send messengers before them, to cross seas and travel over broad countries, so that in any way such display and incomparable dignity, or to speak more truly, such diabolical mockery, be acquired, even by the sale of all their substance. Afterwards, with great state and magnificent show, or rather foolery, they return to their own country, and show their haughty gait more haughty. While hitherto their gaze was at the tops of mountains, they now direct their half-sleepy eyes straight to heaven, or to the light fleecy clouds, and obtrude themselves upon their country as creatures of a new mould; nay, rather as instruments of the devil, just as aforetime Novatus at Rome, the tormentor of the Lord’s jewel, the black hog, their purpose is to stretch forth their hands violently upon the holy sacrifices of Christ, hands worthy not so much of the venerable altars as of the avenging flames of hell, because they are men placed in a position of this kind.

[68] What wilt thou, unhappy people, expect from such belly beasts, as the apostle says? Shalt thou be amended by these men who not only do not call themselves to what is good, but, in the words of the prophet, weary themselves to commit iniquity? Shalt thou be illuminated by such eyes which greedily scan only those things which lead downwards to wickedness, that is, to the gates of hell? Or, surely, according to the Saviour’s saying, if ye do not; speedily escape from those ravenous Arabian wolves, just as Lot escaped to the mountain, fleeing the fiery shower of Sodoma, blind led by the blind, ye shall fall equally into the ditch of hell.

[69] Perhaps, however, some one may say: All bishops or presbyters are not so wicked as they have been described in the former part; because they are not defiled by the infamy of schism or of pride or of uncleanness. Neither do I also strongly deny this.

Comparison with Old Testament examples.

But while I know them to be chaste and good, I shall, nevertheless, make a brief answer. What did it avail Eli the priest, that he himself did not violate the precepts of the Lord by seizing with flesh-hooks, before the fat was offered to the Lord, flesh out of the pots, whilst he was punished by the same anger leading to death as his sons were? Who, I ask, of those men was killed, as Abel, owing to envy of a better sacrifice, and one carried by celestial fire into heaven? They are men who even reject the reproof of a lowly word—-who hath hated the counsel of the malicious and hath not sat with the ungodly, so that of him it might be truly said as of Enoch: Enoch walked with God and was not found, that is to say, was not found to have abandoned God, and to limp readily after idols at that time, amid the vanity of the whole world in its unwisdom. Who of them has refused to admit into the ark of salvation, that is, now, the Church, any adversary of God, as Noah in the time of the deluge, so that it may be made clearly manifest that only the innocent, or those pre-eminently penitent, ought to be in the Lord’s house? Who, like Melchisedek, offered, sacrificed, and blessed the victors only when, three hundred in number (which implies the mystery of the Trinity), after delivering the just man, they vanquish the dangerous armies of the five kings and of their victorious troops, and have no desire for the goods of others? Who, like Abraham, at the command of God, has voluntarily offered his own son to be slain on the altar, so that he should fulfil a command similar to that given by Christ when he says that the offending right eye must be plucked out, and should guard against the prophet’s warning, that cursed is he who keepeth back the sword and blood? Who, like Joseph, has rooted out of his heart the memory of an injury? Who, to speak in figure, like Moses, has spoken with the Lord on the mountain and then, without being terrified by the sounding trumpets, has brought to the people, as Moses did, the two tables and a covered face impossible (unbearable) to look at and awful to unbelievers? Which of them, praying for the sins of the people, has cried out from the depths of his heart, as he, saying: Lord this people hath sinned a great sin, which if thou forgive them forgive, otherwise blot me out of thy book?

[70] Who, burning with an extraordinary zeal for God, has risen strongly to the immediate punishment of adultery, applying the medicine of penance for the healing of filthy lust; lest anger should burn against the people, as Phineas the priest did, so that for ever it might be counted unto him as righteousness? Which of them has imitated Joshua, son of Nun, in moral understanding, either to root out unto their utter destruction from the Land of Promise the seven nations, or to establish in their stead a spiritual Israel? Which of them has shown to the people of God their farthest boundaries beyond Jordan, so that they might know what is suitable for each tribe, just as the above-named Phineas and Joshua made a wise division of the country? Who, in order to overthrow the innumerable throngs of the Gentiles, the enemies of God’s people, has, as Jephtha, offered up his only daughter—-by which is understood his own will, in this imitating the apostle when he says: Not seeking mine own profit but the profit of many, that they maybe saved—-offered her as a sacrifice of vow and propitiation when she was coming to meet the victors with timbrel and dance, that is, the carnal desires? Which of them, in order to disturb, put to flight and overthrow the camp of the proud Gentiles, went forth with undoubting faith as Gideon? Went forth, showing the mystery of the Trinity as was said above, with men holding in their hands the extraordinary pitchers and sounding trumpets—-by which is meant the thoughts of prophets and apostles, as the Lord said to the prophet, Lift up thy voice like a trumpet; and the Psalmist said of the apostles, Their sound is gone forth to all the earth—-waving also the pitchers in the night with brightest light of fire, which are understood of the bodies of the saints joined to good works and glowing with the fire of the Holy Spirit, Having, as the apostle says, this treasure in earthen vessels? went forth, after cutting down the wood in the grove of idolatry, which, in its moral interpretation, means thick and dark desire, and after the clear signs of the Jewish fleece without the moisture from heaven, and of the Gentile fleece made wet by the. dew of the Holy Spirit?

[71] Which of them, desiring to die to the world and live unto Christ, has made prostrate such innumerable luxurious banqueters (that is, the senses), praising their gods, exalting riches (in the words of the apostle, and covetousness which is idolatry), as Samson did, when he, by the strength of his arms, clashed the two columns, which mean the vain pleasures of soul and flesh, by which the house of every human wickedness is, in a manner, fixed and established? Which of them, as Samuel, driving away fear of the Philistines by prayers and the offering of a sucking lamb as a whole burnt-offering, brought on sudden thunder and rain from the clouds, and appointing a king without flattery, casting away the same when not pleasing unto God, after anointing a better man for the throne, stood to bid adieu to the people, speaking as follows: Here I am: speak before the Lord and His anointed: have I taken anyone’s ox or ass? have I made false accusation against any one? have 1 oppressed any one? have I taken a reward from any man’s hand? To him answer was made by the people: Thou hast not made false accusation against us, nor oppressed us, nor hast thou taken anything from the hand of any man.

Which of them, burning a hundred proud ones by fire from heaven, while preserving fifty humble ones, and without the deceit of flattery, announcing to the unrighteous king his impending death, when he was taking counsel, not of God by his prophet, but of the idol Accharon, which—-like Elias, the illustrious prophet—-has overthrown with a gleaming sword, that is, the word of God, all the prophets of the idol Baal, who, when interpreted, are understood to be the human emotions (as we have already said), ever intent upon envy and covetousness? Who, as he, moved by zeal for God, depriving the land of the unrighteous of rain from heaven, as if it were shut up in the stronghold of want for three years and six months, was about to die of famine and thirst in the wilderness, and made his lament, saying, Lord, they have slain thy prophets and have thrown down thine altars, and I am left alone, and they seek my life?

[72] Which of them, as Elisaeus, punished a beloved disciple, when burdened beyond his wont by the weight of earthly things which had previously been despised by himself, though earnestly entreated to accept them, not by perpetual leprosy, it is true, yet by dismissal? Which of them, as he, has opened the eyes of the soul for a servant, when, in despair of life, he was excited and trembling at the sudden warlike preparations of the enemies, besieging the city in which they were? Who among us, as he, has done this with fervent prayer offered unto God, so that he could see the mountain full of the heavenly army of allies, and of armed chariots or horsemen flashing with fiery countenances, and that he might believe that God was stronger to save than the enemies to fight? Which of them also by contact with his body, when dead to the world, yet living unto God, shall profit, as the above-named did, another lying in a different death, that is, dead unto God, but living unto sins, so that he should forthwith leap forth and give thanks to Christ for a healing despaired of in the conversation of almost all men? Of which of them, with live coal carried from off the altar in the tongs of the cherubs, so that his sins should be blotted out, were the lips purified, as those of Isaiah, by humble confession? Was it not by those lips, with the help of the efficacious prayer of the pious king Hezekiah, that 185,000 of the Assyrian army, like the men mentioned above, were thoroughly overthrown, with no trace of wound, by the hand of the angel? Which of them, like blessed Jeremiah, because of the commands of God and his public utterance of threats given from heaven, and the truth even to men who heard not, experienced the squalor and filth of prisons, equivalent to death for a time? To be brief, who of them, as the teacher of the gentiles has said, suffered the wandering on mountains, in caves and holes of the earth, the stoning, the cutting asunder, the trial by every kind of death for the Lord’s name, like the holy prophets?

Compared with New Testament examples.

[73] Why do we delay in ancient examples as if there were not any in the New Testament? Let those men, therefore, who think that without any hardship they can enter this narrow way of the Christian religion merely by claiming the name of priest, listen to me as I cull a few flowers, the chiefest in a way, from the extensive and pleasant meadow of the holy soldiery of the New Testament.

Which of you, who loll listlessly rather than sit in a legitimate way in the priestly chair, was cast out from the council of the wicked, and, like the holy apostles, gave thanks with full heart to the Trinity, after blows from diverse rods, that he was held worthy to suffer contumely for Christ, the true God?

Who, through bearing true testimony to God, had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club, and suffered bodily death, like James, though the first bishop in the New Testament? Who among you was beheaded, by an unjust prince as James the brother of John? Who, like the first deacon and martyr of the gospel, with no crime but this that he saw God, whom the unbelieving could not have seen, has been stoned by impious hands? Who, fixed to the cross-bar with feet up because of his reverence for Christ, whom he intended to honour no less by death than by life, breathed his last breath, like that fit keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven? Who of you, as the chosen vessel and elect teacher of the gentiles, was beheaded by a stroke of the sword, for the confession of the Christ that spoke the truth, after prison chains, shipwrecks at seas, blows with rods; after continuous perils of rivers, of robbers, of Gentiles, of Jews, of false apostles, after sufferings of famine, fasting, watchings, after constant anxiety for all the churches, after burning for them that cause stumbling, after weakness for the weak, after wonderful compassing of the world, almost, to preach the gospel of Christ?

Compared with examples furnished by Church History.

[74] Who of you, like the holy martyr Ignatius, bishop of the city of Antioch, after wonderful deeds in Christ, was torn to pieces at Rome by the teeth of lions, because of his testimony? When you hear his words as he was being led to his passion, if ever you have—-with blushing—-felt confusion of face, you will not only not consider yourselves priests in comparison with him, but will barely regard yourselves as middling Christians. In the epistle which he sent to the Roman Church he says: From Syria unto Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, day and night, being bound and tied to ten leopards, I mean the soldiers appointed as guards, who wax more cruel by our kindnesses. Howbeit by their wickednesses I grow more instructed, yet am I not hereby justified. O! the beasts of salvation, that are being prepared for me, when will they come? When shall they be let out? When will it be free for them to enjoy my flesh? These I wish to be made more prompt, and I will entice them to devour me, and pray that they will not, as they have done in the case of some, fear to touch my body. Yea, even if they delay, I will force them to it; I shall rush upon them. Bear with me; I know what is expedient for me. Now am I beginning to be a disciple of Christ. Let the envy, whether of human feeling or spiritual wickedness, cease, that I may be worthy to attain unto Jesus Christ; may fires, crosses, beasts, wrenchings of bones, hacking of limbs, and pains in my whole body, and all tortures devised by the art of the devil be fulfilled in me alone, provided I be worthy to attain unto Jesus. Christ.

Why do you look at these things with the sleepy eyes of your soul? Why listen to such with the dull ears of your senses? Disperse, I pray, the dark black mist of your heart’s slothfulness, so that ye may be able to see the beaming light of truth and humility. A no common Christian but a perfect one, a no mean but most excellent priest, a martyr not sluggish but distinguished, says: Now am I beginning to be a disciple of Christ. And you, just like that Lucifer, cast down from heaven, are puffed up with words, not power, and ruminate under your teeth, and allege by gestures the things which your advocate had formerly pictured, saying: I will ascend unto heaven, and will be like to the Most High; and again: I have digged and drunk water, and with the print of my feet have dried up all the rivers of the banks. Far more rightly ought ye to imitate and hear him who is the victorious example of goodness and humility when he says by the prophet: But I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men and rejected of the people. O! something wonderful for Him to say that He was the reproach of men, when He blotted out the reproaches of the whole world. Again, in the gospel: I can of myself do nothing, when He Himself, coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, of common and the same substance, made heaven and earth with all their priceless ornamentation, not by the might of another, but by His own. And wonderful that you should arrogantly have held high words, though the prophet says: Why is earth and ashes proud?

[75] But let me return to my theme. Who of you, I say, like noble Polycarp, the pastor of the church at Smyrna, witness of Christ, placed a table with kindliness to guests that were violently dragging him to the fire, and when exposed to the flames for his love of Christ said: He who gave me to bear the torture of fire will give me to endure the flames unshaken without any fastening by nails? One more, swiftly flying in my words past the thick forest of the saints, will I put forth by way of example. I mean Basil, the bishop of Caesarea,70 who, when threats were pressed by an unjust prince to the effect that unless, by the morrow, he would, like the rest, defile himself with the Arian filth, he should die without fail, is said to have answered: I in sooth shall to-morrow be the man I am to-day: as for thee, mayest thou not change. Again, he said: Would that I had some worthy reward to offer him who would free Basil from the bond of this frame. Who of you, amid the distraction of tyrants, has inviolably kept the rule given in the apostolic word? I mean the rule which has been observed always by all the holy priests, in all times that have been, rejecting the intimation of men which hurried them headlong to vanity, speaking after this manner: We ought to obey God rather than men.

Old Testament passages.

[76] Let us therefore make our flight to the Lord’s mercy and the words of His holy prophets, so that they for us may poise the javelins of their oracles against imperfect pastors, as heretofore against tyrants, in order that through compunction they may be healed. Let us see what threats the Lord utters by the prophets against slothful and unseemly priests, and such as did not teach the people well by example and words. Eli, that priest in Shiloh, because he had not with a zeal worthy of God punished his sons when they held God in contempt, but mildly and gently admonished them, certainly with the feelings of a father, is condemned in such a censure as the following. The prophet says to him: Thus saith the Lord,—-Plainly did I show myself to the house of thy father when they were in Egypt, slaves in the house of Pharaoh. A nd I chose the house of thy father out of all the tribes of Israel for me in the priesthood. After a few words: Why didst thou look upon my incense and my sacrifice with an evil eye, and didst honour thy sons more than me, so as to bless them from the beginning in all the sacrifices before me? And now thus saith the Lord: Because them that honour me will I honour, and they that despise me shall be brought to nought, behold the days shall come that I shall destroy thy name and the seed of thy father s house. And let this be a sign unto thee, which shall come upon thy two sons Hophni and Phineas: in one day shall they both die by the sword of men. I f therefore they who merely correct those subject to them by words, and not by deserved punishment, suffer these things, what shall be to those who incite and draw men to wicked deeds by sinning?

[77] What happened also to that true prophet, after the fulfilment of the sign foretold by himself and the restoration of the withered hand to the impious king, when he was sent to prophesy in Bethel, and was forbidden to take any food there, but was deceived by another prophet, as he was called, to take a little bread and water, is evident. His host says to him: Thus saith the Lord God, Forasmuch as thou wert disobedient to the mouth of the Lord and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded, and earnest back and hast eaten bread and drunk water in this place in which I had commanded thee not to eat bread nor to drink water, thy body shall not be placed in the sepulchre of thy fathers. And it came to pass, it is said, after he had eaten bread and had drunk water, that he saddled his ass for him and he departed. And a lion found him in the way and slew him.

[78] Hear also the holy prophet Isaiah, speaking of the priests in the following manner: Woe unto the wicked for evil! for the reward of his hands shall be unto him. Their overseers have spoiled my people and women have ruled over them. O! my people, they who call thee blessed, themselves deceive thee and destroy the way of thy paths. The Lord standeth to judge and standeth to judge the peoples. The Lord will come to judgment with the elders of his people and the princes thereof. Ye have eaten up my vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your house: Why crush ye my people and grind the face of the poor? saith the Lord of hosts. Again: Woe unto them that decree unrighteous laws and as writers have written unrighteousness, to oppress the needy in judgment and make violence to the cause of the poor of my people, that widoiws may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless. What will ye do in the day of visitation and of the calamity that cometh from afar? Below also: But these have also been ignorant through wine, and have erred through drunkenness; priests have been ignorant by reason of drunkenness; they are swallowed up of wine, they have erred in drunkenness; they have not known Him that seeth, they have been ignorant of judgment. For all tables were filled with the vomit of their filthiness, so that there was no more room.

[79] Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scoffing men, that rule over my people which is in Jerusalem. For ye have said, We have made a covenant with death and with hell we are in agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come upon us, for we have made falsehood our hope, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. A little further: And the hail shall upset the hope of falsehood, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place, and your covenant with death shall be disannulled and your agreement with hell shall not stand: when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, ye shall be trodden down. Whenever it shall pass through, it shall sweep you away. Again: And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth and glorify me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, therefore, behold, I will proceed to cause a wondering in this people by a great and amazing marvel. For wisdom shall perish from its wise men, and the understanding of its prudent-men shall be hid. Woe unto you who are deep of heart to hide your counsel from the Lord, whose works are in the dark and they say, Who seeth us? and, Who knoweth us? persevere in this your thought. Somewhat further: Thus saith the Lord, Heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool: which is the house that ye will build unto me? and which is the place of my rest? All these things hath mine hand made, all those things came to pass, saith the Lord. To whom will I look except to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words? He that sacrificeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that killeth a sheep is as he that beateth out the brains of a dog; he that offereth an oblation is as he that offereth swine’s blood; he that remembereth frankincense is as he that blesseth an idol. These things have they chosen in their own ways, and in their abominations their soul delighteth.

[80] Jeremiah also, celibate and prophet, listen what he says to foolish pastors: Thus saith the Lord, What unrighteousness have your fathers found in me that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity and have become vain? A little further: When ye entered, ye defiled my land and placed mine heritage an abomination. The priests said not, Where is the Lord? And they that handle the law knew me not, and the pastors transgressed against me. Wherefore I will hereafter plead with you in judgment, saith the Lord, and with your children will I dispute. Also, after somewhat more: An amazement and wonderful things have been committed in the land; the prophets prophesied falsehood and the priests applauded with their hands, and my people have loved such things. What therefore shall be done in the end thereof? To whom shall I speak and testify that he may hear? behold their ears are uncircumcised and they cannot hearken; behold the word of the Lord is become unto them a reproach and they receive it not. For I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them, every one is given to covetousness, and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people meanly, saying, Peace, peace; and there will be no peace. They were put to shame, they who have committed an abomination. Nay, they were not at all ashamed and could not blush. Therefore they shall fall among them that fall; at the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Again: They all are princes of men that turn aside; they walk fraudulently; brass and iron are they; they have been all together corrupted; the bellows have failed in the fire; in vain hath the founder melted, but their wickednesses have not been consumed: call them refuse silver because the Lord hath rejected them. A short space after: I am, I am, I have seen, saith the Lord. Go ye unto my place in Shiloh where my name dwelt from the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not, and I called you but ye answered not, I shall do unto this house in which my name was invoked, and in which ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done unto Shiloh, and I will cast you out of my sight.

[81] Again: My children are gone forth from me, and they are not; there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains, for the pastors have done foolishly, and have not sought the Lord, therefore they have not understood, and their flock is scattered.

Somewhat further: Why is it that my beloved hath in mine house committed many crimes? Will the holy flesh take away from thce thy sins in which thou hast gloried? A rich olive tree, fair, fruitful, goodly hath the Lord called thy name; to the sound of speech a great fire hath burnt in her and her groves are consumed. Again: Come, assemble all ye beasts of the earth, hasten to devour. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have rendered my desirable portion a wilderness of solitude. He also speaks: Thus saith the Lord unto this people, that loved to move its feet, and hath not rested, and hath not pleased the Lord. Now will we remember its iniquities and visit its sins. The prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, and famine shall not be among you, but the Lord will give you true peace in that place. And the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy falsely in my name: I sent them not, and have not commanded them: they prophesy unto a lying vision, and divination and fraud, and the deceit of their own heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed, and the people to whom they have prophesied shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword, and there shall be none to bury them.

[82] Again: Woe unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God of Israel to the pastors that feed my people, Ye have scattered my flock and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold I will visit upon you the evil of your inclinations, saith the Lord. For prophet and priest are polluted, and in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be as a slippery place in darkness, for they shall be driven on and fall therein, for I will bring evils upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord. And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria, they both prophesied by Baal and deceived my people Israel. In the’ prophets of Jerusalem also 1 have seen a similar thing, adultery and the way of falsehood, and they have strengthened the hands of evildoers so that no one returned from his wickedness; they are all become unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto the prophets, Behold I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink water of gall. For from the prophets of Jerusalem is pollution gone forth over all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you and deceive you; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. For they say unto them that blaspheme me, The Lord hath said, Peace shall be unto you, and unto every one that walketh in the depravity of his own heart, they have said, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath been in the council of the Lord and hath seen and heard his word? Who hath marked his word and heard it? Behold the whirlwind of the Lord’s fury goeth forth, and a tempest bursting upon the head of the wicked shall come. The anger of the Lord shall not return until he have done, and until he have completed the intent of his heart. In the last days ye shall understand his counsel.

[83] Little do you think or do what the holy prophet Joel also has said in admonition of lazy priests, and lamenting the people’s loss through their iniquities: Awake ye that are drunk through your wine, and weep and lament all who drink wine unto drunkenness, because joy and gladness is taken away from your mouth. Mourn, ye priests, that serve the altar, because the fields have become wretched. Let the earth mourn because the corn is become wretched and the vine dried up, the oil is diminished, the husbandmen have become languish. Mourn, ye estates, for the wheat and barley, because the vine harvest is perished from the field, the vine is dried up, the fig-trees have become fewer: the pomegranates, palms, apple-tree, and all trees of the field are withered, because the sons of men have thrown joy into confusion. All these words must be understood by you in a spiritual sense, lest your souls be withered by so destructive a famine for the Word of God.

Again: Weep ye priests that serve the Lord, saying, Spare, Lord, thy people; give not thine inheritance to reproach, and let not the Gentiles rule over them, lest the Gentiles say, Where is their God? Yet ye in no wise hear these things, but permit all things by which the indignation of the divine anger is kindled.

[84] Give express heed to what the holy prophet Hosea also says to priests of your small stature: Hear this, ye priests and hearken, thou house of Israel, and thou, house of the king, fasten them in your ears, since judgment is toward you, because ye have been made, a snare unto watchfulness, and like a net spread upon Tabor, which they who have set the hunt have fixed.

[85] To you also there is signified an alienation of this kind from the Lord by the prophet Amos, when he says: I have hated and thrust away your feast-days, and I will not accept a sweet savour in your solemn assemblies, because, though ye offer your burnt offerings and sacrifices, I will not accept them. And I will not regard the salvation proclaimed by you. Take away from me the sound of thy songs, and the (psalm) melody of thy instruments I will not hear, because famine of Gospel food, the very fare which eats away the bowels of your soul, is raging among you, as the prophet named above has foretold. Behold, he says, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine in the land—-not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and the waters shall be moved from sea to sea, and from the north unto the east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord and shall not find it.

[86] Understand also with your ears the holy Micah as he, like a heavenly trumpet, sounds forth very concisely against the crafty princes of the people. Hear now, he says, ye princes of the house of Jacob. Is it not for you to know judgment, though ye hate the good and seek the evil, plucking their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones? How have they eaten the flesh of my people and flayed their skins from off them, have broken their bones and chopped them as flesh in the cauldron? They shall cry unto God and he will not hear them, and he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have behaved themselves ill in their imaginings. Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people to err, that bite with their teeth and cry unto them, Peace, though it (peace) is not put into their mouth; I have stirred up war against them (i.e., people). Therefore night shall be unto you in consequence of your vision and darkness shall be unto you in consequence of divining, and the sun shall go down upon the prophets and the day shall be dark over them, then shall the seers of dreams be confounded and the diviners mocked, and they themselves shall decry against all because there shall not be that heareth them. I shall surely fill my strength with the Spirit of the Lord, and with judgment and might, to declare unto the house of Jacob its impieties and to Israel his sins. Hear this therefore ye leaders of the house of Jacob and the residue of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment and pervert equity, that build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquities. The leaders thereof judge for rewards and the priests thereof gave answer for hire, and the prophets thereof were divining for money, yet did they rest in the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in the midst of us; evils shall not come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be like the watch-tower of an orchard, and the mountain of the house as a place of forest. After a while: Woe is me because I have become as one that gathereth stubble in harvest, and as a bunch of grapes in the vintage, when there is not a cluster to eat of its first fruits; woe is my soul! it perisheth in works of earth, always doth reverence for sinners rise reverently from the earth, and he that amendeth among men is not. All contend in judgment for blood, and everyone hath greatly troubled his neighbour, he prepareth his hands for evil.

[87] Hearken again to what Zephaniah, distinguished prophet, has treated of respecting your fellows of old. He spoke of Jerusalem, which, spiritually, is understood to be the church or the soul: O! the city that was splendid and set free, the trusting dove, she heard not the voice nor learnt correction, she trusted not in the Lord, and to her God she drew not near. He shows the reason why: Her princes are like a roaring lion; her judges, like the wolves of Arabia, left not until the morning, her prophets carry the spirit of a scornful man, her priests pollute the sanctuary, and have dealt impiously in the law. But the righteous Lord is in the midst of her and will not do unrighteousness. Morning by morning will he give his judgment.

[88] But hear also the blessed, prophet Zechariah admonishing you by the word of God. For thus saith the Lord Almighty: Execute righteous judgment, and do mercy and compassion every man to his brother; and injure not the widow, the orphan, the stranger and the poor, and let none remember malice against his brother in his heart. But they were stubborn to heed, and turned their foolish back, and made their ears heavy that they should not hear. Their heart they have set up impossible to persuade, lest they should hear my law and the words which the Lord Almighty hath sent by his Spirit at the hands of the former prophets, and a great wrath hath come from the Lord Almighty. Again: Because they that spoke, spoke vexation, and the diviners spoke false visions and false dreams, and gave vain comfort, therefore, they have become parched like sheep, and were troubled because there was no health. Mine anger is kindled against the shepherds and I will visit the lambs. After a few words: There is a voice of the lamentations of the shepherds because their greatness has become wretched; a voice of roaring lions, because the course of Jordan has become wretched. Thus saith the Lord Almighty: They who possessed slew and did not repent, and they that sold them said: Blessed be the Lord for we have been made rich, and their shepherds have not been spared among them; wherefore I will no more have pity upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord.

[89] Hear, moreover, what proclamation the holy prophet Malachi has made against you. You priests who despise my name, and have said: Wherein have we despised thy name? By offering polluted loaves upon mine altar, and ye have said: Wherein have we polluted them? in that ye say: The table of the Lord is as nothing, and what was spread upon it ye have despised; because, if ye bring the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? If ye bring forth the lame or weak, is it not evil? Offer it now to thy chief; Will he receive it? Will he accept thy person? saith the Lord Almighty. And now intreat ye the face of your God and beseech him: these things were done by your hand, will I accept your persons among you? Again: And ye have brought of your plunder the lame and weak, and have brought it as a gift. Shall I accept that of your hand? saith the Lord. Cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and in fulfilling a vow sacrificeth the weak unto the Lord; for I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is terrible among the gentiles. A nd now this commandment is for you, O ye priests. If ye will not hear and put it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will send poverty unto you, and will curse your blessings, because ye have not laid it to heart. Behold I will stretch forth my arm against you and will spread over your face the dung of your solemn feasts.

But meanwhile that you may the more eagerly prepare the instruments of evil for good, listen to what he says of the holy priest, if there remains ever so little of the inner hearing in you. My covenant was with him—-he spoke of Levi or Moses in point of history—-of life and peace; I gave him. fear and he feared me, and stood in awe before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth and iniquity was not found in his lips; in peace and equity walked he with me, and did turn many from iniquity. For the priest’s lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth, because he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. Now he changes his meaning, and ceases not to rebuke the evil ones, saying: Ye have departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble in the law, and ye have made the covenant with Levi of no effect, saith the Lord of hosts. Wherefore I have also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, and have had respect of person in the law. Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why doth every one despise his brother? Again: Behold the Lord of hosts will come, and who can think of the day of his coming? And who shall stand to see him? For he himself shall come forth like burning fire, and as the washers soap, and he shall sit refining and purifying silver, and he shall purge the sons of Levi, and shall cleanse them like gold and like silver. After a while: Your words have become strong against me, saith the Lord, and ye said: Vain is he that serveth God, and what profit is it that we have kept his precepts, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? Therefore, now we will call the proud blessed, because they that work wickedness are built up; they have tempted God and have been delivered.

[90] Listen, however, to what the prophet Ezekiel said: Woe shall come upon woe, and messenger upon messenger, and the vision shall be sought from the prophet, and the law shall perish from the priest and counsel from the elders. Again: Thus saith the Lord: Because your words are falsehoods, and your divinations vain, on this account behold I am against you, saith the Lord. I will stretch forth my hand against the prophets that see lies, and those who speak vain things. They shall not be in the discipline of my people, and shall not be written in the writing of the house of Israel, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Wherefore they have led astray my people, saying: The Peace of the Lord, and there is no Peace of the Lord. This man buildeth a wall, and they daub it, and it shall fall. After some more words: Woe unto those that sew pillows beneath every elbow, and fashion veils upon every head of every age, to subvert souls. Subverted are the souls of my people, they took possession of their souls, and profaned me to my people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread to slay the souls that should not die, and to free the souls that should not live, while ye speak to the people as they listen to vain speeches. Below also: Son of man say: Thou art the land that is not watered, nor hath rain come upon thee in the day of wrath, the land in which the princes are like raging lions in the midst of her, ravening the prey, devouring souls by their might and taking rewards; thy widows have been made many in the midst of thee, and her priests have despised my law and were polluting mine holy things. They distinguished not between the holy and the profane, and discerned not between the unclean and clean, and veiled their eyes from my sabbaths, and I was profaned in the midst of them.

[91] Again also: And I sought for a man from among them that walked uprightly, and stood before my face wholly for the times of the land, that I should not in the end destroy it, and have not found. A nd I have poured out against it my soul in the fire of my anger to consume them. Their ways have I brought upon their head, saith the Lord. After a while: And the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, speak to the children of my people, and say unto them: The land into which I bring a sword, and the people of the land take a man from among themselves, and place him for them as a watchman, if he see the sword coming over the land, and blow the trumpet and signify unto the people, and he that heareth hear the voice of the trumpet and not observe, and the sword come and seize him, his blood shall be upon his own head. Because, when he heard the voice of the trumpet, he did not observe, his blood shall be upon himself. And this man who watched over his own soul hath delivered it. And the watchman, if he see the sword coming, and signify not by the trumpet so that the people observe not, and the sword coming take a soul from among them, and that soul is taken away on account of its own iniquity, yet its blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. And thou, son of man, a watchman have I set thee for the house of Israel, and thou shalt hear the word from my mouth; when I say to the sinner: Thou shalt surely die, if thou speak not so that the wicked may turn aside from his way, the wicked himself shall die in his wickedness, but his blood will I require at thy hand. However, if thou warn the wicked of his way that he may turn aside from it, and he turn not from his way, this man shall die in his iniquity, and thou hast delivered thy soul.

[92] But let these few testimonies from the many of the prophets be sufficient By them is the pride or sloth of stubborn priests restrained, that they may not think I make such denunciations against them by my own imaginings rather than by the authority of the law and the saints. Let us therefore see what the gospel trumpet, while sounding forth to the world, says to irregular priests (unordained priests). For as I have already said, my speech is not of those who obtain the apostolic throne in a lawful way, and who are well able to dispense spiritual food to their fellow servants in due season (if, in fact, there are many at the present day), but of the unskilled pastors who abandon the sheep, and give vain things as food, and have not the words of the skilled pastor. The evidence, therefore, is clear, that he is not a legitimate pastor; nay, not even an ordinary Christian man, who rejects and disowns these words, not so much words of mine, who am very insignificant, as decrees of the Old and New Testament. One of our own people says well: We desire much that the enemies of the church be ours also and enemies without treaty, and that her friends and defenders be regarded ours, not only as allies but as fathers and lords. For let each one meet his own conscience in true examination, and in this they shall discern whether they sit in the priestly chair according to right reason. Let us see, I say, what the Saviour and Creator of the world says: Ye are, he avers, the salt of the earth; because if the salt have vanished, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden by men. 93 This single testimony might fully suffice to confute all those that are without shame. But in order that by still more manifest attestations, that is by the words of Christ, it may be proved by what unbearable burdens of crimes these false priests weight themselves, some words must be annexed. For there follows: Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid, nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand, that it may shine unto all that are in the house. Who, then, of the priests of this time, thus possessed by the blindness of ignorance, as the light of a clear lamp, will shine in any house to all those sitting by night with the torch of both learning and good works? Who is regarded such a safe, public, and conspicuous refuge for all the sons of the church, that he is what a strong city placed upon the summit of a high hill is for its citizens. But as to that which follows: So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and magnify your Father which is in Heaven: Which of them can fulfil it even for a single day? Nay rather a certain thick mist and black night of their offences sit upon the whole island, so that it draws away almost everyone from the right path, and causes them to err by impassable and obstructed paths of crimes; by these men’s works the heavenly Father is so far from being praised that he is unbearably blasphemed. I could indeed wish that these testimonies of Holy Scripture inserted in this epistle, or to be inserted, as far as my mean power would be able, should all be interpreted in a historical or moral sense.

[94] But in order not to extend this little work to too great a length for those men who despise, scorn and turn aside, not so much my words as God’s, the passages have been, or will be, put together without any paraphrase. A little further on: For whosoever shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Again: Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgement ye judge it shall be judged to you. Who of you, I ask, will have regard to that which follows: But why beholdest thou the mote in thy brother s eye, and considerest not the beam in thine own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thine eye; and lo! the beam is in thine own eye. Or what follows: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you. This very frequently happens to you. Admonishing the people lest they be seduced by crafty teachers, such as you are, he said: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheets clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or jigs of thistles? Even so every good tree beareth good fruit, and a corrupt tree corrupt fruit. And below: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

[95] What indeed shall become of you who, as the prophet says, cling to God with your lips only, not with your heart? But how do you fulfil what follows: Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves, you who, on the contrary, go as wolves in a flock of sheep? Or that which is said by him: Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves? Wise, of course, you are to bite anyone with deadly mouth, not to defend your head, which is Christ, by any exposure of your body, whom by all the endeavours of evil deeds you tread under foot (trample upon). Neither have you the simplicity of doves, nay rather being like the black crow, once out of the ark, that is the Church, you fly away, and having found the carrion of carnal pleasures you never fly back to it with a pure heart. But let us see other words also: Be not afraid of those which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Which of these have you done?—-consider. Which of you would not the following testimony, spoken by the Lord to the apostles of depraved bishops, wound in the deep secrecy of his heart? Let them alone, they are blind guides of the blind. But if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit.

[96] The people, certainly, whom you guide, or rather whom you deceive, have need of hearing. Listen to the words of the Lord when he speaks to the apostles and the multitudes, words which, as I hear, you are not ashamed to put forth publicly and frequently. The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; all things, therefore, whatsoever they say unto you, observe and do; but after their works do not, for they say and do not themselves. The teaching that is darkened with evil deeds is certainly full of peril, and useless for priests. Woe unto you, hypocrites, who shut the kingdom of heaven before men, but enter not in, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter. For you shall have penal suffering inflicted upon you, not only on account of such huge crimes of sins as you bear for future time, but also because of those who daily perish by your example. The blood of these men in the day of judgment shall be required at your hands. Observe what evil is set forth in the parable of the servant who said in his heart: My Lord tarrieth. Before this probably he had begun to beat his fellow servants, eating and drinking with the drunken. The Lord of that servant, it is said, shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall separate him—-that is to say, from the holy priests—-and place his portion with the hypocrites (with those, no doubt, who beneath a veil of priesthood conceal much wickedness); there, says he, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, unto men to whom it does frequently come in this life, because of the daily loss of sons brought upon the mother church, or because of defections from the kingdom of heaven.

[97] But let us see what a true disciple of Christ, Paul the teacher of the gentiles, utters in such a matter when he says in his first epistle—-Paul, who should be imitated by every ecclesiastical teacher as he himself exhorts: Be ye imitators of me as I also am of Christ; because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God nor gave thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was blinded, saying that they were wise, they became fools. Although this appears to be said to the gentiles, observe it nevertheless, as it will apply fully to the priest together with the people (Christians) of this age. After a few words we read: Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever; for this cause God gave them up unto passions of vileness. Again: And even as they did not approve to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting; being fitted with all unrighteousness, wickedness, unchaste-ness, fornication, covctousness, maliciousness; being full of envy, murder—-that is of the souls of the people—-strife, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, hateful unto God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; without understanding, covenant-breakers, without mercy, without natural affection: who knowing the justice of God did not understand that those who do such things are worthy of death.

[98] Who of the men referred to above has in truth been without these all? For if there were he would be possibly included in the idea subjoined, where he says: Not only they that do them, but also consent with them that do, as undoubtedly not one of them is free from this evil. Below also: But thou after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works. And further: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

[99] What severity therefore awaits those who not only do not do what ought to be fulfilled, and turn not away from things prohibited, but even fly away from the very reading of God’s words, even when slightly uttered in their ears, as if it were a serpent of the fiercest kind?

But let us pass on to the following words: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died unto sin, how shall we any longer live therein? And after awhile: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Shall anguish? Shall persecution? Shall famine? Shall nakedness? Shall peril? Shall sword? Who of you, may I ask, has been touched by such a feeling in the depth of your heart? You who, far from labouring to further godliness, do even suffer much in order to act unjustly and offend Christ. Or by what follows: The night is far spent, but the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light; let us walk honourably as in the day; not in revellings and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonnesses, not in strife and jealousy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and have no care for the flesh in concupiscence.

[100] Again, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians he says: As a wise master-builder I laid a foundation, another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which exists, even Christ Jesus. But if any man buildeth on this gold and silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble, every work shall be made manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and each man’s work of what sort it is the fire shall prove. If any man’s work shall abide, which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss. Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy. Again: If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. And after awhile: Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be new dough. How shall the old leaven, that is sin, be purged out which increases from day to day by every endeavour? Again: I have written to you by epistle to have no company with fornicators; not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; otherwise must ye needs go out of the world. But now I write unto you not to keep company if any man is named a brother and is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a man no, not to take food. But a thief does not condemn another thief for theft or highway robbery: has rather a liking for him, defends and loves him as a partner of his crime.

[101] In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians also he says: Therefore seeing, we have this ministry, even as we have obtained mercy, let us not faint, but let us renounce the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God, that is by evil example, and by flattery. In later passages he speaks thus of evil teachers: For such false apostles are deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, therefore, if his ministers also are transformed as angels of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

[102] Listen also to what he says to the Ephesians. Are you ignorant that you are held guilty of something in this particular? This I say and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having their understanding darkened, alienated from the way of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts, who being without hope gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness and covetousness. Which of you has willingly done what follows: Wherefore be not foolish, but understanding what is the will of God, and be not drunken with wine in which is riot, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.

[103] But listen also to that which he says to the Thessalonians: For neither were we at any time among you with word of flattery, as ye know, nor in occasion of covetousness; nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might be a burden as other apostles of Christ. But we became like little ones, babes among you, or as when a nurse cherisheth her little ones, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel only, but also our souls. If you preserve this feeling of the apostle, in all things, you know also how legitimately to sit in his chair. Or even what follows: For ye know what: precepts I gave unto you. This is the will of God, even your sancti-fication, that ye abstain from fornication, and each one of you know how to possess his own vessel in honour and sanctification, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; and let no man over-reach or wrong his brother in the matter, because the Lord is avenger in all these things. For God called us not unto unclean-ness but unto sanctification. Therefore he who despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God. Who also of you has circumspectly and carefully kept that which follows: Mortify therefore youri members which are upon earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil desire, on account of which cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of unbelief. For you see on account of what sins the wrath of God mostly rises.

[104] Hear therefore what the same holy apostle predicted by the spirit of prophecy, respecting you and men like you, when plainly writing to Timothy. For know this, that in the last days dangerous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, covetous, boastful, haughty railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, criminal, without affection, without self-control, fierce, without goodness, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasures more than God; holding indeed a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From these also turn away, as the prophet says: I have hated the congregation of evil. doers, and will not sit with the wicked. After a while, mentioning what we see on the increase in our time, he says: Ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. For as Iamnes and Mambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth; men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith; but they shall proceed no further. For their folly shall be evident unto all men, as theirs also was.

[105] He indicates plainly how priests should show themselves in their office, when writing as follows to Titus: Present thyself an example of good works, in doctrine, in incorruptness, in gravity, holding a sound word that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may fear, having no evil to say of us. Again, to Timothy: Suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man warring for God entangleth himself in the affairs of the world, that he may please him to whom he hath approved himself. For also the man who contendeth in the game is not crowned unless he hath contended lawfully. These words are an exhortation to the good. But what the epistle likewise comprises is denunciation of bad men, such as you appear to all men of understanding. If any man teacheth differently and consenteth not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that doctrine which is according to godliness, he is haughty, knowing nothing, but weak about questions and disputes of words, whereof come envyings, strifes, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind, who are bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is gain.

Quotations from the Ordinal or Service Book used in the consecration of priests or ministers (deacons?).

[106] But why will I use at considerable length the testimonies of opinion, though expressed by various persons and scattered here and there? Why will I be tossed on the waves in the despicable craft of my own intellect. I have thought it necessary to recur finally to those lessons which have been extracted from almost every befitting text of the Holy Scriptures, not only to be repeated for this present object, but also to be a confirmation of the rite by which the hands of priests or ministers are consecrated, and to teach them continually not to abandon the commandments that are faithfully contained therein by falling off from the dignity of priest. It will also become more evident to all that eternal punishments await them, and the men who do not, according to their powers, fulfil the teaching and commandments of those lessons, are not priests or ministers of God.

Let us therefore hear what Peter, the prince of the apostles, has pointed out, respecting such a matter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his great mercy begat us again unto hope of life eternal by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away, undefiled, reserved in heaven for you, who are guarded by the power of God. Why indeed is such an inheritance foolishly defiled by you, which does not fall away like an earthly one, but is an inheritance that fades not away, and eternal.

After a while: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, hope perfectly for that grace which is brought unto you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. Examine the depths of your heart, whether you are sober, and maintain perfectly the priestly grace that is to be searched in the revelation of the Lord. Again he says: As children of blessing, not fashioning yourselves to those former lusts of your ignorance, but according to him who hath called you to be holy, be ye holy in all manner of life. Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy. Who of you, I ask, has so followed holiness with all ardour of soul, that he hastened to fulfil this command to the utmost of his power? But let us see what is contained in the second lesson from the same apostle. Beloved, he says, purify your souls unto obedience of faith, by the Spirit in love, in love of the brethren, loving one another from a true heart fervently, as born again not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and abideth for ever.

[107] These, without doubt, are things commanded by the apostle, and were read on the day of your ordination that you might keep them inviolably, but in no wise have they been kept by you with judgment, nay, hardly have they been thought of or understood. Below, he says: Putting away therefore all wickedness and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and evil speakings, as new born babes, reasonable and without guile, desire milk that ye may grow thereby unto salvation, because the Lard is kind. Consider also whether these words be trodden under foot because heard by you too frequently with deaf ears. Again: But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for adoption, that ye may shew the excellencies of Him who hath called you out of darkness into that very wonderful light of His, Not only are the excellencies of God not shown through you, but even, by most corrupt examples, despised among all unbelievers. You heard, no doubt, on the same day, what was read in the lesson from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter, rising in the midst of the disciples, said: Men and brethren, it is needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas. And shortly after: This man obtained a field with the reward of iniquity. This you heard heedlessly, or rather with obtuse heart, as if it had not been read of you. Who of you, I ask, does not seek a field with the reward of iniquity? For Judas was wont to thieve coffers; you waste the church gifts and the souls of her sons. He went to the Jews to sell God; you to tyrants and your father the devil, to despise Christ. He held the Saviour of all as one to be sold for thirty pieces of silver; you for even a single penny.

On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain: Book 6: Conclusion.

[108] Why ply more words? You find brought before you the example of Matthias for your confusion, the example also of the holy apostles. The lot fell upon him by the election or judgment of Christ, not by his own will, to which fact you have become blind, and do not see how far apart you are from his merits, while of your own accord you sink to the desire and disposition of Judas the traitor. It is plain, therefore, that the man who consciously from his heart calls you priest, is not an excellent Christian. I shall certainly speak out my feelings. My rebuke might certainly be milder, but what benefit is it merely to stroke softly with the hand, or besmear with ointment a wound which by now, horrible in its foulness, has need of cautery and the public remedy of fire? If, indeed, it could be healed in any manner, as the patient does not seek cure, and the doctor is withdrawing further and further from him. O ye enemies and not priests of God, veterans in wickednesses and not bishops, traitors not successors of the holy apostles and not ministers of Christ, you have certainly listened to the sound of the apostle Paul’s words contained in the second lesson, but in no wise have you observed their admonitions and strength. After the fashion of idols, which see not, neither do they hear, you stood the same day at the altar, while then and always he was thundering at you. Brethren, he says, faithful is the word and worthy of all acceptation. He spoke of it as faithful and worthy; you have scorned it as not faithful and unworthy. If a man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. You seek the office of bishop chiefly because of covetousness, without the pretence of spiritual profit, and by no means regard good work as suitable thereto. Such a man must therefore be without reproach. Here there is, of a truth, more need of tears than of words, as if the apostle had said that he ought to be, beyond all men, without reproach: The husband of one wife. This saying is also so far despised with us, as if he were not heard to say the same, and were heard to say: the husband of wives. Temperate, sober-minded. Which of you has ever even wished this to dwell in him? Given to hospitality. If that has ever by accident come to pass, done rather for the sake of a breeze of popularity than because it is commanded, it profits not, as our Lord the Saviour says thus: Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. A man equipped, not drunk with wine, no striker, but gentle, not contentious, not covetous. O fatal change! O awful treading under foot of the precepts of heaven! Do you not indefatigably seize your armour of deeds and words to assault, or rather to destroy, these precepts, for the preservation and strengthening of which, were it necessary, one ought to undergo suffering, and lay down one’s life?

[109] But let us also see the following words: Ruling his own house well, having his children in subjection with all chastity. The chastity of the fathers is therefore imperfect, if that of the children is not added to it. But what shall be where neither father nor son (depraved by the example of a wicked parent) is found to be chaste? But if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he show care of the church of God? Here are words that are proved by effects that admit of no doubt. Deacons in like manner must be chaste, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not following after filthy lucre, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. But let these first be proved, and thus let them serve if they are without reproach. With a shudder, indeed, at having to linger long at these things, I can with truth make one statement, that is, all these are changed into the contrary deeds, so that the clergy are (a confession I make not without sorrow of heart) unchaste, double-tongued, drunk, greedy of filthy lucre, having the faith, and, to speak with more truth, the want of faith, in an impure conscience, ministering not as men proved good in work, but as known beforehand in evil work, and, though with innumerable charges of crime, admitted to the sacred ministry. You heard also on that day, when it was far worthier and far more right for you to be led to prison or the scaffold for punishment than to the priesthood, that as the Lord asked whom the disciples thought him to be, Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God; and that the Lord for such a confession said! Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Thus Peter, taught by God the Father, rightly confesses Christ; but you, instructed by your father the devil, iniquitously deny the Saviour by evil deeds. To the true priest it is said: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church. You, however, are likened unto a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. But we must observe that the Lord does not join in work with the foolish, in building a house upon the changing inconstancy of sand, according to that saying: They have made unto themselves kings and not by me. Similarly, what follows gives the same note when it says: And the gates of hell shall not prevail, whereby sins are understood. Of your doomed building, what is announced? The floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof. To Peter and his successors the Lord says: And unto thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; but to you: I know you not, depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, so that, separated with the goats of the left hand, ye go to everlasting fire. To every holy priest it is also promised: And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven. But how do you loose anything so that it shall be loosed in heaven also, when, because of crimes, you are severed from heaven and fettered by bands of monstrous sins, as Solomon also says: Each one is holden with the cords of his own sins? With what reason shall you bind on earth anything that maybe, in any extraordinary degree, bound, besides your own selves, who, bound to iniquities, are so held in this world, that in no wise do you ascend to heaven, but, unless turned to the Lord in this life, are descending to the unhappy prison of hell?

[110] And let no one of the priests flatter himself solely on his consciousness of a pure body, because the souls of those over whom he rules, if any one of them perish through his ignorance, or slothfulness, or flattery, shall be asked at the hands of the same in the day of judgment, as their murderer. Because the death which is inflicted by a good man is not milder than that caused by a wicked man. Otherwise the Apostle would not have said, in leaving a kind of paternal legacy to his successors: I am clean from the blood of all men. For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole mystery of God. Seeing that you are intoxicated by the habit and dense mass of your sins, and incessantly overwhelmed as if by waves of crimes heaped on crimes rushing upon you, seek with all effort of soul the one plank of penance, as if after shipwreck, on which you may escape to the land of the living. In this way the wrath of the Lord may be averted from you, inasmuch as He mercifully says: I wish not the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live.

May the almighty God of all consolation and mercy Himself preserve His very few good pastors from all evil, and make them citizens of His city, the heavenly Jerusalem (the common enemy being subdued), that is, of the assembly of all saints—-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.