The origin of the monastic institution has been laboriously discussed by Thomassin (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 1419-1426) and Helyot (Hist. des Ordres Monastiques, tom. i. p. 1-66). These authors are very learned and tolerably honest, and their difference of opinion shows the subject in its full extent. Yet the cautious Protestant, who distrusts any Popish guides, may consult the seventh book of Bingham's Christian Antiquities.