1. Greek: Socrates: Hist. Eccles. lib. iv. cap. 23 sqq. Sozomen: H. E. l. i. c. 12–14; iii. 14; vi. 28–34. Palladius (first a monk and disciple of the younger Macarius, then bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia, ordained by Chrysostom; †431): Historia Lausiaca (JIstoriva pro;" Lau'son, a court officer under Theodosius II, to whom the work was dedicated), composed about 421, with enthusiastic admiration, from personal acquaintance, of the most celebrated contemporaneous ascetics of Egypt. Theodoret (†457): Historia religiosa, seu ascetica vivendi ratio (filovqeo" iJstopiva), biographies of thirty Oriental anchorets and monks, for the most part from personal observation. Nilus the Elder (an anchoret on Mt. Sinai, † about 450): De vita ascetica, De exercitatione monastica, Epistolae 355, and other writings.

2. Latin: Rufinus (†410): Histor. Eremitica, S. Vitae Patrum. Sulpicius Severus (about 400): Dialogi III. (the first dialogue contains a lively and entertaining account of the Egyptian monks, whom he visited; the two others relate to Martin of Tours). Cassianus (†432): Institutiones coenobiales, and Collationes Patrum (spiritual conversations of eastern monks).

Also the ascetic writings of Athanasius (Vita Antonii), Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Nilus, Isidore of Pelusium, among the Greek; Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome (his Lives of anchorets, and his letters), Cassiodorus, and Gregory the Great, among the Latin fathers.




L. Holstenius (born at Hamburg 1596, a Protest., then a Romanist convert, and librarian of the Vatican): Codex regularum monastic., first Rom. 1661; then, enlarged, Par. and Augsb. in 6 vols. fol. The older Greek Menologia (mhnolovgia), and Menaea (mhnai'a), and the Latin Calendaria and Martyrologia, i.e. church calendars or indices of memorial days (days of the earthly death and heavenly birth) of the saints, with short biographical notices for liturgical use. P. Herbert Rosweyde (Jesuit): Vitae Patrum, sive Historiae Eremiticae, libri x. Antw. 1628. Acta Sanctorum, quotquot toto orbe coluntur, Antw. 1643–1786, 53 vols. fol. (begun by the Jesuit Bollandus, continued by several scholars of his order, called Bollandists, down to the 11th Oct. in the calendar of saints’ days, and resumed in 1845, after long interruption, by Theiner and others). D’achery and Mabillon (Benedictines): Acta Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti, Par. 1668–1701, 9 vols. fol. (to 1100). Pet. Helyot (Franciscan): Histoire des ordres monastiques religieux et militaires, Par. 1714–’19, 8 vols. 4to. Alban Butler (R.C.): The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and other principal Saints (arranged according to the Catholic calendar, and completed to the 31st Dec.), first 1745; often since (best ed. Lond. 1812–’13) in 12 vols.; another, Baltimore, 1844, in 4 vols). Gibbon: Chap. xxxvii. (Origin, Progress, and Effects of Monastic Life; very unfavorable, and written in lofty philosophical contempt). Henrion (R.C.): Histoire des ordres religieux, Par. 1835 (deutsch bearbeitet von S. Fehr, Tüb. 1845, 2 vols.). F. v. Biedenfeld: Ursprung u. s. w. saemmtlicher Mönchsorden im Orient u. Occident, Weimar, 1837, 3 vols. Schmidt (R.C.): Die Mönchs-, Nonnen-, u. geistlichen Ritterorden nebst Ordensregeln u. Abbildungen., Augsb. 1838, sqq. H. H. Milman (Anglican): History of Ancient Christianity, 1844, book iii. ch. 11. H. Ruffner (Presbyterian): The Fathers of the Desert, New York, 1850, 2 vols. (full of curious information, in popular form). Count de Montalembert (R.C.): Les Moines d’Occident depuis St. Bénoit jusqu’à St. Bernard, Par. 1860, sqq. (to embrace 6 vols.); transl. into English: The Monks of the West, etc.,  Edinb. and Lond. 1861, in 2 vols. (vol. i. gives the history of monasticism before St. Benedict, vol. ii. is mainly devoted to St. Benedict; eloquently eulogistic of, and apologetic for, monasticism). Otto Zöckler: Kritische Geschichte der Askese. Frankf. a. M. 1863. Comp. also the relevant sections of Tillemont, Fleury, Schröckh (vols. v. and viii.), Neander, and Gieseler.


 § 28. Origin of Christian Monasticism. Comparison with other forms of Asceticism.


Hospinian: De origine et progressu monachatus, l. vi., Tig. 1588, and enlarged, Genev. 1669, fol. J. A. Möhler (R.C.): Geschichte des Mönchthums in der Zeit seiner Entstehung u. ersten Ausbildung, 1836 (in his collected works, Regensb. vol. ii. p. 165 sqq.). Isaac Taylor (Independent): Ancient Christianity, Lond. 1844, vol. i. p. 299 sqq. A. Vogel: Ueber das Mönchthum, Berl. 1858 (in the "Deutsche Zeitschrift für christl. Wissenschaft," etc.). P. Schaff: Ueber den Ursprung und Charakter des Mönchthums (in Dorner’s, etc. "Jahrbücher für deutsche Theol.," 1861, p. 555 ff.). J. Cropp: Origenes et causae monachatus. Gott. 1863.


In the beginning of the fourth century monasticism appears in the history of the church, and thenceforth occupies a distinguished place. Beginning in Egypt, it spread in an irresistible tide over the East and the West, continued to be the chief repository of the Christian life down to the times of the Reformation, and still remains in the Greek and Roman churches an indispensable institution and the most productive seminary of saints, priests, and missionaries.

With the ascetic tendency in general, monasticism in particular is found by no means only in the Christian church, but in other religions, both before and after Christ, especially in the East. It proceeds from religious seriousness, enthusiasm, and ambition; from a sense of the vanity of the world, and an inclination of noble souls toward solitude, contemplation, and freedom from the bonds of the flesh and the temptations of the world; but it gives this tendency an undue predominance over the social, practical, and world-reforming spirit of religion. Among the Hindoos the ascetic system may be traced back almost to the time of Moses, certainly beyond Alexander the Great, who found it there in full force, and substantially with the same characteristics which it presents at the present day.259  Let us consider it a few moments.

The Vedas, portions of which date from the fifteenth century before Christ, the Laws of Menu, which were completed before the rise of Buddhism, that is, six or seven centuries before our era, and the numerous other sacred books of the Indian religion, enjoin by example and precept entire abstraction of thought, seclusion from the world, and a variety of penitential and meritorious acts of self-mortification, by which the devotee assumes a proud superiority over the vulgar herd of mortals, and is absorbed at last into the divine fountain of all being. The ascetic system is essential alike to Brahmanism and Buddhism, the two opposite and yet cognate branches of the Indian religion, which in many respects are similarly related to each other as Judaism is to Christianity, or also as Romanism to Protestantism. Buddhism is a later reformation of Brahmanism; it dates probably from the sixth century before Christ (according to other accounts much earlier), and, although subsequently expelled by the Brahmins from Hindostan, it embraces more followers than any other heathen religion, since it rules in Farther India, nearly all the Indian islands, Japan, Thibet, a great part of China and Central Asia to the borders of Siberia. But the two religions start from opposite principles. Brahmanic asceticism260 proceeds from a pantheistic view of the world, the Buddhistic from an atheistic and nihilistic, yet very earnest view; the one if; controlled by the idea of the absolute but abstract unity and a feeling of contempt of the world, the other by the idea of the absolute but unreal variety and a feeling of deep grief over the emptiness and nothingness of all existence; the one is predominantly objective, positive, and idealistic, the other more subjective, negative, and realistic; the one aims at an absorption into the universal spirit of Brahm, the other consistently at an absorption into nonentity, if it be true that Buddhism starts from an atheistic rather than a pantheistic or dualistic basis. "Brahmanism"—says a modern writer on the subject261—"looks back to the beginning, Buddhism to the end; the former loves cosmogony, the latter eschatology. Both reject the existing world; the Brahman despises it, because he contrasts it with the higher being of Brahma, the Buddhist bewails it because of its unrealness; the former sees God in all, the other emptiness in all."  Yet as all extremes meet, the abstract all-entity of Brahmanism and the equally abstract non-entity or vacuity of Buddhism come to the same thing in the end, and may lead to the same ascetic practices. The asceticism of Brahmanism takes more the direction of anchoretism, while that of Buddhism exists generally in the social form of regular convent life.

The Hindoo monks or gymnosophists (naked philosophers), as the Greeks called them, live in woods, caves, on mountains, or rocks, in poverty, celibacy, abstinence, silence: sleeping on straw or the bare ground, crawling on the belly, standing all day on tiptoe, exposed to the pouring rain or scorching sun with four fires kindled around them, presenting a savage and frightful appearance, yet greatly revered by the multitude, especially the women, and performing miracles, not unfrequently completing their austerities by suicide on the stake or in the waves of the Ganges. Thus they are described by the ancients and by modern travellers. The Buddhist monks are less fanatical and extravagant than the Hindoo Yogis and Fakirs. They depend mainly on fasting, prayer, psalmody, intense contemplation, and the use of the whip, to keep their rebellious flesh in subjection. They have a fully developed system of monasticism in connection with their priesthood, and a large number of convents; also nunneries for female devotees. The Buddhist monasticism, especially in Thibet, with its vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, its common meals, readings, and various pious exercises, bears such a remarkable resemblance to that of the Roman Catholic church that Roman missionaries thought it could be only explained as a diabolical imitation.262  But the original always precedes the caricature, and the ascetic system was completed in India long before the introduction of Christianity, even if we should trace this back to St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas.

The Hellenic heathenism was less serious and contemplative, indeed, than the Oriental; yet the Pythagoreans were a kind of monastic society, and the Platonic view of matter and of body not only lies at the bottom of the Gnostic and Manichaean asceticism, but had much to do also with the ethics of Origen and the Alexandrian School.

Judaism, apart from the ancient Nazarites,263 had its Essenes in Palestine264 and its Therapeutae in Egypt;265 though these betray the intrusion of foreign elements into the Mosaic religion, and so find no mention in the New Testament.

Lastly, Mohammedanism, though in mere imitation of Christian and pagan examples, has, as is well known, its dervises and its cloisters.266

Now were these earlier phenomena the source, or only analogies, of the Christian monasticism?  That a multitude of foreign usages and rites made their way into the church in the age of Constantine, is undeniable. Hence many have held, that monasticism also came from heathenism, and was an apostasy from apostolic Christianity, which Paul had plainly foretold in the Pastoral Epistles.267  But such a view can hardly be reconciled with the great place of this phenomenon in history; and would, furthermore, involve the entire ancient church, with its greatest and best representatives both east and west, its Athanasius, its Chrysostom, its Jerome, its Augustine, in the predicted apostasy from the faith. And no one will now hold, that these men, who all admired and commended the monastic life, were antichristian errorists, and that the few and almost exclusively negative opponents of that asceticism, as Jovinian, Helvidius, and Vigilantius, were the sole representatives of pure Christianity in the Nicene and next following age.

In this whole matter we must carefully distinguish two forms of asceticism, antagonistic and irreconcilable in spirit and principle, though similar in form: the Gnostic dualistic, and the Catholic. The former of these did certainly come from heathenism; but the latter sprang independently from the Christian spirit of self-denial and longing for moral perfection, and, in spite of all its excrescences, has fulfilled an important mission in the history of the church.

 The pagan monachism, the pseudo-Jewish, the heretical Christian, above all the Gnostic and Manichaean, is based on in irreconcilable metaphysical dualism between mind and matter; the Catholic Christian Monachism arises from the moral conflict between the spirit and the flesh. The former is prompted throughout by spiritual pride and selfishness; the latter, by humility and love to God and man. The false asceticism aims at annihilation of the body and pantheistic absorption of the human being in the divine; the Christian strives after the glorification of the body and personal fellowship with the living God in Christ. And the effects of the two are equally different. Though it is also unquestionable, that, notwithstanding this difference of principle, and despite the condemnation of Gnosticism and Manichaeism, the heathen dualism exerted a powerful influence on the Catholic asceticism and its view of the world, particularly upon anchoretism and monasticism in the East, and has been fully overcome only in evangelical Protestantism. The precise degree of this influence, and the exact proportion of Christian and heathen ingredients in the early monachism of the church, were an interesting subject of special investigation.

The germs of the Christian monasticism may be traced as far back as the middle of the second century, and in fact faintly even in the anxious ascetic practices of some of the Jewish Christians in the apostolic age. This asceticism, particularly fasting and celibacy, was commended more or less distinctly by the most eminent ante-Nicene fathers, and was practised, at least partially, by a particular class of Christians (by Origen even to the unnatural extreme of self-emasculation).268  So early as the Decian persecution, about the year 250, we meet also the first instances of the flight of ascetics or Christian philosophers into the wilderness; though rather in exceptional cases, and by way of escape from personal danger. So long as the church herself was a child of the desert, and stood in abrupt opposition to the persecuting world, the ascetics of both sexes usually lived near the congregations or in the midst of them, often even in the families, seeking there to realize the ideal of Christian perfection. But when, under Constantine, the mass of the population of the empire became nominally Christian, they felt, that in this world-church, especially in such cities as Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople, they were not at home, and voluntarily retired into waste and desolate places and mountain clefts, there to work out the salvation of their souls undisturbed.

Thus far monachism is a reaction against the secularizing state-church system and the decay of discipline, and an earnest, well-meant, though mistaken effort to save the virginal purity of the Christian church by transplanting it in the wilderness. The moral corruption of the Roman empire, which had the appearance of Christianity, but was essentially heathen in the whole framework of society, the oppressiveness of taxes269 the extremes of despotism and slavery, of extravagant luxury and hopeless poverty, the repletion of all classes, the decay of all productive energy in science and art, and the threatening incursions of barbarians on the frontiers—all favored the inclination toward solitude in just the most earnest minds.

At the same time, however, monasticism afforded also a compensation for martyrdom, which ceased with the Christianization of the state, and thus gave place to a voluntary martyrdom, a gradual self-destruction, a sort of religious suicide. In the burning deserts and awful caverns of Egypt and Syria, amidst the pains of self-torture, the mortification of natural desires, and relentless battles with hellish monsters, the ascetics now sought to win the crown of heavenly glory, which their predecessors in the times of persecution had more quickly and easily gained by a bloody death.

 The native land of the monastic life was Egypt, the land where Oriental and Grecian literature, philosophy, and religion, Christian orthodoxy and Gnostic heresy, met both in friendship and in hostility. Monasticism was favored and promoted here by climate and geographic features, by the oasis-like seclusion of the country, by the bold contrast of barren deserts with the fertile valley of the Nile, by the superstition, the contemplative turn, and the passive endurance of the national character, by the example of the Therapeutae, and by the moral principles of the Alexandrian fathers; especially by Origen’s theory of a higher and lower morality and of the merit of voluntary poverty and celibacy. Aelian says of the Egyptians, that they bear the most exquisite torture without a murmur, and would rather be tormented to death than compromise truth. Such natures, once seized with religious enthusiasm, were eminently qualified for saints of the desert.


 § 29. Development of Monasticism.


In the historical development of the monastic institution we must distinguish four stages. The first three were completed in the fourth century; the remaining one reached maturity in the Latin church of the middle age.

The first stage is an ascetic life as yet not organized nor separated from the church. It comes down from the ante-Nicene age, and has been already noticed. It now took the form, for the most part, of either hermit or coenobite life, but continued in the church itself, especially among the clergy, who might be called half monks.

The second stage is hermit life or anchoretism.270  It arose in the beginning of the fourth century, gave asceticism a fixed and permanent shape, and pushed it to even external separation from the world. It took the prophets Elijah and John the Baptist for its models, and went beyond them. Not content with partial and temporary retirement from common life, which may be united with social intercourse and useful labors, the consistent anchoret secludes himself from all society, even from kindred ascetics, and comes only exceptionally into contact with human affairs, either to receive the visits of admirers of every class, especially of the sick and the needy (which were very frequent in the case of the more celebrated monks), or to appear in the cities on some extraordinary occasion, as a spirit from another world. His clothing is a hair shirt and a wild beast’s skin; his food, bread and salt; his dwelling, a cave; his employment, prayer, affliction of the body, and conflict with satanic powers and wild images of fancy. This mode of life was founded by Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony, and came to perfection in the East. It was too eccentric and unpractical for the West, and hence less frequent there, especially in the rougher climates. To the female sex it was entirely unsuited. There was a class of hermits, the Sarabaites in Egypt, and the Rhemoboths in Syria, who lived in bands of at least two or three together; but their quarrelsomeness, occasional intemperance, and opposition to the clergy, brought them into ill repute.

The third step in the progress of the monastic life brings us to coenobitism or cloister life, monasticism in the ordinary sense of the word.271  It originated likewise in Egypt, from the example of the Essenes and Therapeutae, and was carried by St. Pachomius to the East, and afterward by St. Benedict to the West. Both these ascetics, like the most celebrated order-founders of later days, were originally hermits. Cloister life is a regular organization of the ascetic life on a social basis. It recognizes, at least in a measure, the social element of human nature, and represents it in a narrower sphere secluded from the larger world. As hermit life often led to cloister life, so the cloister life was not only a refuge for the spirit weary of the world, but also in many ways a school for practical life in the church. It formed the transition from isolated to social Christianity. It consists in an association of a number of anchorets of the same sex for mutual advancement in ascetic holiness. The coenobites live, somewhat according to the laws of civilization, under one roof, and under a superintendent or abbot.272  They divide their time between common devotions and manual labor, and devote their surplus provisions to charity; except the mendicant monks, who themselves live by alms. In this modified form monasticism became available to the female sex, to which the solitary desert life was utterly impracticable; and with the cloisters of monks, there appear at once cloisters also of nuns.273  Between the anchorets and the coenobites no little jealousy reigned; the former charging the latter with ease and conformity to the world; the latter accusing the former of selfishness and misanthropy. The most eminent church teachers generally prefer the cloister life. But the hermits, though their numbers diminished, never became extinct. Many a monk was a hermit first, and then a coenobite; and many a coenobite turned to a hermit.

The same social impulse, finally, which produced monastic congregations, led afterward to monastic orders, unions of a number of cloisters under one rule and a common government. In this fourth and last stage monasticism has done most for the diffusion of Christianity and the advancement of learning,274 has fulfilled its practical mission in the Roman Catholic church, and still wields a mighty influence there. At the same time it became in some sense the cradle of the German reformation. Luther belonged to the order of St. Augustine, and the monastic discipline of Erfurt was to him a preparation for evangelical freedom, as the Mosaic law was to Paul a schoolmaster to lead to Christ. And for this very reason Protestantism is the end of the monastic life.


 § 30. Nature and Aim of Monasticism.


Monasticism was from the first distinguished as the contemplative life from the practical.275  It passed with the ancient church for the true, the divine, or Christian philosophy,276 an unworldly purely apostolic, angelic life.277  It rests upon an earnest view of life; upon the instinctive struggle after perfect dominion of the spirit over the flesh, reason over sense, the supernatural over the natural, after the highest grade of holiness and an undisturbed communion of the soul with God; but also upon a morbid depreciation of the body, the family, the state, and the divinely established social order of the world. It recognizes the world, indeed, as a creature of God, and the family and property as divine institutions, in opposition to the Gnostic Manichaean asceticism, which ascribes matter as such to an evil principle. But it makes a distinction between two grades of morality: a common and lower grade, democratic, so to speak, which moves in the natural ordinances of God; and a higher, extraordinary, aristocratic grade, which lies beyond them and is attended with special merit. It places the great problem of Christianity not in the transformation, but in the abandonment, of the world. It is an extreme unworldliness, over against the worldliness of the mass of the visible church in union with the state. It demands entire renunciation, not only of sin, but also of property and of marriage, which are lawful in themselves, ordained by God himself, and indispensable to the continuance and welfare of the human race. The poverty of the individual, however, does not exclude the possession of common property; and it is well known, that some monastic orders, especially the Benedictines, have in course of time grown very rich. The coenobite institution requires also absolute obedience to the will of the superior, as the visible representative of Christ. As obedience to orders and sacrifice of self is the first duty of the soldier, and the condition of military success and renown, so also in this spiritual army in its war against the flesh, the world, and the devil, monks are not allowed to have a will of their own. To them may be applied the lines of Tennyson:278


"Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs but to do and die."


Voluntary poverty, voluntary celibacy, and absolute obedience form the three monastic vows, as they are called, and are supposed to constitute a higher virtue and to secure a higher reward in heaven.

But this threefold self-denial is only the negative side of the matter, and a means to an end. It places man beyond the reach of the temptations connected with earthly possessions, married life, and independent will, and facilitates his progress toward heaven. The positive aspect of monasticism is unreserved surrender of the whole man, with all his time and strength, to God; though, as we have said, not within, but without the sphere of society and the order of nature. This devoted life is employed in continual prayer, meditation, fasting, and castigation of the body. Some votaries went so far as to reject all bodily employment, for its interference with devotion. But in general a moderate union of spiritual exercises with scientific studies or with such manual labor as agriculture, basket making, weaving, for their own living and the support of the poor, was held not only lawful but wholesome for monks. It was a proverb, that a laborious monk was beset by only one devil; an idle one, by a legion.

With all the austerities and rigors of asceticism, the monastic life had its spiritual joys and irresistible charms for noble, contemplative, and heaven-aspiring souls, who fled from the turmoil and vain show of the city as a prison, and turned the solitude into a paradise of freedom and sweet communion with God and his saints; while to others the same solitude became a fruitful nursery of idleness, despondency, and the most perilous temptations and ultimate ruin.279


 § 31. Monasticism and the Bible.


Monasticism, therefore, claims to be the highest and purest form of Christian piety and virtue, and the surest way to heaven. Then, we should think, it must be preëminently commended in the Bible, and actually exhibited in the life of Christ and the apostles. But just in this biblical support it falls short.

The advocates of it uniformly refer first to the examples of Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist;280 but these stand upon the legal level of the Old Testament, and are to be looked upon as extraordinary personages of an extraordinary age; and though they may be regarded as types of a partial anchoretism (not of cloister life), still they are nowhere commended to our imitation in this particular, but rather in their influence upon the world.

The next appeal is to a few isolated passages of the New Testament, which do not, indeed, in their literal sense require the renunciation of property and marriage, yet seem to recommend it as a special, exceptional form of piety for those Christians who strive after higher perfection.281

Finally, as respects the spirit of the monastic life, reference is sometimes made even to the poverty of Christ and his apostles, to the silent, contemplative Mary, in contrast with the busy, practical Martha, and to the voluntary community of goods in the first Christian church in Jerusalem.

But this monastic interpretation of primitive Christianity mistakes a few incidental points of outward resemblance for essential identity, measures the spirit of Christianity by some isolated passages, instead of explaining the latter from the former, and is upon the whole a miserable emaciation and caricature. The gospel makes upon all men virtually the same moral demand, and knows no distinction of a religion for the masses and another for the few.

Jesus, the model for all believers, was neither a coenobite, nor an anchoret, nor an ascetic of any kind, but the perfect pattern man for universal imitation. There is not a trace of monkish austerity and ascetic rigor in his life or precepts, but in all his acts and words a wonderful harmony of freedom and purity, of the most comprehensive charity and spotless holiness. He retired to the mountains and into solitude, but only temporarily, and for the purpose of renewing his strength for active work. Amidst the society of his disciples, of both sexes, with kindred and friends, in Cana and Bethany, at the table of publicans and sinners, and in intercourse with all classes of the people, he kept himself unspotted from the world, and transfigured the world into the kingdom of God. His poverty and celibacy have nothing to do with asceticism, but represent, the one the condescension of his redeeming love, the other his ideal uniqueness and his absolutely peculiar relation to the whole church, which alone is fit or worthy to be his bride. No single daughter of Eve could have been an equal partner of the Saviour of mankind, or the representative head of the new creation.

The example of the sister of Lazarus proves only, that the contemplative life may dwell in the same house with the practical, and with the other sex, but justifies no separation from the social ties.

The life of the apostles and primitive Christians in general was anything but a hermit life; else had not the gospel spread so quickly to all the cities of the Roman world. Peter was married, and travelled with his wife as a missionary. Paul assumes one marriage of the clergy as the rule, and notwithstanding his personal and relative preference for celibacy in the then oppressed condition of the church, he is the most zealous advocate of evangelical freedom, in opposition to all legal bondage and anxious asceticism.

Monasticism, therefore, in any case, is not the normal form of Christian piety. It is an abnormal phenomenon, a humanly devised service of God,282 and not rarely a sad enervation and repulsive distortion of the Christianity of the Bible. And it is to be estimated, therefore, not by the extent of its self-denial, not by its outward acts of self-discipline (which may all be found in heathenism, Judaism, and Mohammedanism as well), but by the Christian spirit of humility and love which animated it. For humility is the groundwork, and love the all-ruling principle, of the Christian life, and the distinctive characteristic of the Christian religion. Without love to God and charity to man, the severest self-punishment and the utmost abandonment of the world are worthless before God.283


 § 32. Lights and Shades of Monastic Life.


The contrast between pure and normal Bible-Christianity and abnormal Monastic Christianity, will appear more fully if we enter into a close examination of the latter as it actually appeared in the ancient church.

The extraordinary rapidity with which this world-forsaking form of piety spread, bears witness to a high degree of self-denying moral earnestness, which even in its mistakes and vagrancies we must admire. Our age, accustomed and wedded to all possible comforts, but far in advance of the Nicene age in respect to the average morality of the masses, could beget no such ascetic extremes. In our estimate of the diffusion and value of monasticism, the polluting power of the theatre, oppressive taxation, slavery, the multitude of civil wars, and the hopeless condition of the Roman empire, must all come into view. Nor must we, by any means, measure the moral importance of this phenomenon by numbers. Monasticism from the beginning attracted persons of opposite character and from opposite motives. Moral earnestness and religious enthusiasm were accompanied here, as formerly in martyrdom, though even in larger measure than there, with all kinds of sinister motives; indolence, discontent, weariness of life, misanthropy, ambition for spiritual distinction, and every sort of misfortune or accidental circumstance. Palladius, to mention but one illustrious example, tells of Paul the Simple,284 that, from indignation against his wife, whom he detected in an act of infidelity, he hastened, with the current oath of that day, "in the name of Jesus,"285 into the wilderness; and immediately, though now sixty years old, under the direction of Anthony, he became a very model monk, and attained an astonishing degree of humility, simplicity, and perfect submission of will.

In view of these different motives we need not be surprised that the moral character of the monks varied greatly, and presents opposite extremes. Augustine says he found among the monks and nuns the best and the worst of mankind.

Looking more closely, in the first place, at anchoretism, we meet in its history unquestionably many a heroic character, who attained an incredible mastery over his sensual nature, and, like the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist, by their mere appearance and their occasional preaching, made an overwhelming impression on his contemporaries, even among the heathen. St. Anthony’s visit to Alexandria was to the gazing multitude like the visit of a messenger from the other world, and resulted in many conversions. His emaciated face, the glare of his eye, his spectral yet venerable form, his contempt of the world, and his few aphoristic sentences told more powerfully on that age and people than a most elaborate sermon. St. Symeon, standing on a column from year to year, fasting, praying, and exhorting the visitors to repentance, was to his generation a standing miracle and a sign that pointed them to heaven. Sometimes, in seasons of public calamity, such hermits saved whole cities and provinces from the imperial wrath, by their effectual intercessions. When Theodosius, in 387, was about to destroy Antioch for a sedition, the hermit Macedonius met the two imperial commissaries, who reverently dismounted and kissed his hands and feet; he reminded them and the emperor of their own weakness, set before them the value of men as immortal images of God, in comparison with the perishable statues of the emperor, and thus saved the city from demolition.286  The heroism of the anchoretic life, in the voluntary renunciation of lawful pleasures and the patient endurance of self-inflicted pains, is worthy of admiration in its way, and not rarely almost incredible.

But this moral heroism—and these are the weak points of it—oversteps not only the present standard of Christianity, but all sound measure; it has no support either in the theory or the practice of Christ and the apostolic church; and it has far more resemblance to heathen than to biblical precedents. Many of the most eminent saints of the desert differ only in their Christian confession, and in some Bible phrases learnt by rote, from Buddhist fakirs and Mohammedan dervises. Their highest virtuousness consisted in bodily exercises of their own devising, which, without love, at best profit nothing at all, very often only gratify spiritual vanity, and entirely obscure the gospel way of salvation.

To illustrate this by a few examples, we may choose any of the most celebrated eastern anchorets of the fourth and fifth centuries, as reported by the most credible contemporaries.

The holy Scriptures instruct us to pray and to labor; and to pray not only mechanically with the lips, as the heathen do, but with all the heart. But Paul the Simple said daily three hundred prayers, counting them with pebbles, which he carried in his bosom (a sort of rosary); when he heard of a virgin who prayed seven hundred times a day, he was troubled, and told his distress to Macarius, who well answered him: "Either thou prayest not with thy heart, if thy conscience reproves thee, or thou couldst pray oftener. I have for six years prayed only a hundred times a day, without being obliged to condemn myself for neglect."  Christ ate and drank like other men, expressly distinguishing himself thereby from John, the representative of the old covenant; and Paul recommends to us to use the gifts of God temperately, with cheerful and childlike gratitude.287  But the renowned anchoret and presbyter Isidore of Alexandria (whom Athanasius ordained) touched no meat, never ate enough, and, as Palladius relates, often burst into tears at table for shame, that he, who was destined to eat angels’ food in paradise, should have to eat material stuff like the irrational brutes. Macarius the elder, or the Great, for a long time ate only once a week, and slept standing and leaning on a staff. The equally celebrated younger Macarius lived three years on four or five ounces of bread a day, and seven years on raw herbs and pulse. Ptolemy spent three years alone in an unwatered desert, and quenched his thirst with the dew, which he collected in December and January, and preserved in earthen vessels; but he fell at last into skepticism, madness, and debauchery.288  Sozomen tells of a certain Batthaeus, that by reason of his extreme abstinence, worms crawled out of his teeth; of Alas, that to his eightieth year he never ate bread; of Heliodorus, that he spent many nights without sleep, and fasted without interruption seven days.289  Symeon, a Christian Diogenes, spent six and thirty years praying, fasting, and preaching, on the top of a pillar thirty or forty feet high, ate only once a week, and in fast times not at all. Such heroism of abstinence was possible, however, only in the torrid climate of the East, and is not to be met with in the West.

Anchoretism almost always carries a certain cynic roughness and coarseness, which, indeed, in the light of that age, may be leniently judged, but certainly have no affinity with the morality of the Bible, and offend not only good taste, but all sound moral feeling. The ascetic holiness, at least according to the Egyptian idea, is incompatible with cleanliness and decency, and delights in filth. It reverses the maxim of sound evangelical morality and modern Christian civilization, that cleanliness is next to godliness. Saints Anthony and Hilarion, as their admirers, Athanasius the Great and Jerome the Learned, tell us, scorned to comb or cut their hair (save once a year, at Easter), or to wash their hands or feet. Other hermits went almost naked in the wilderness, like the Indian gymnosophists.290  The younger Macarius, according to the account of his disciple Palladius, once lay six months naked in the morass of the Scetic desert, and thus exposed himself to the incessant attacks of the gnats of Africa, "whose sting can pierce even the hide of a wild boar."  He wished to punish himself for his arbitrary revenge on a gnat, and was there so badly stung by gnats and wasps, that he was thought to be smitten with leprosy, and was recognized only by his voice.291  St. Symeon the Stylite, according to Theodoret, suffered himself to be incessantly tormented for a long time by twenty enormous bugs, and concealed an abscess full of worms, to exercise himself in patience and meekness. In Mesopotamia there was a peculiar class of anchorets, who lived on grass, spending the greater part of the day in prayer and singing, and then turning out like beasts upon the mountain.292  Theodoret relates of the much lauded Akepsismas, in Cyprus, that he spent sixty years in the same cell, without seeing or speaking to any one, and looked so wild and shaggy, that he was once actually taken for a wolf by a shepherd, who assailed him with stones, till he discovered his error, and then worshipped the hermit as a saint.293  It was but a step from this kind of moral sublimity to beastly degradation. Many of these saints were no more than low sluggards or gloomy misanthropes, who would rather company with wild beasts, with lions, wolves, and hyenas, than with immortal men, and above all shunned the face of a woman more carefully than they did the devil. Sulpitius Severus saw an anchoret in the Thebaid, who daily shared his evening meal with a female wolf; and upon her discontinuing her visits for some days by way of penance for a theft she had committed, he besought her to come again, and comforted her with a double portion of bread.294  The same writer tells of a hermit who lived fifty years secluded from all human society, in the clefts of Mount Sinai, entirely destitute of clothing, and all overgrown with thick hair, avoiding every visitor, because, as he said, intercourse with men interrupted the visits of the angels; whence arose the report that he held intercourse with angels.295

It is no recommendation to these ascetic eccentricities that while they are without Scripture authority, they are fully equalled and even surpassed by the strange modes of self-torture practised by ancient and modern Hindoo devotees, for the supposed benefit of their souls and the gratification of their vanity in the presence of admiring spectators. Some bury themselves—we are told by ancient and modern travellers—in pits with only small breathing holes at the top, while others disdaining to touch the vile earth, live in iron cages suspended from trees. Some wear heavy iron collars or fetters, or drag a heavy chain fastened by one end round their privy parts, to give ostentatious proof of their chastity. Others keep their fists hard shut, until their finger nails grow through the palms of their hands. Some stand perpetually on one leg; others keep their faces turned over one shoulder, until they cannot turn them back again. Some lie on wooden beds, bristling all over with iron spikes; others are fastened for life to the trunk of a tree by a chain. Some suspend themselves for half an hour at a time, feet uppermost, or with a hook thrust through their naked back, over a hot fire. Alexander von Humboldt, at Astracan, where some Hindoos had settled, found a Yogi in the vestibule of the temple naked, shrivelled up, and overgrown with hair like a wild beast, who in this position had withstood for twenty years the severe winters of that climate. A Jesuit missionary describes one of the class called Tapasonias, that he had his body enclosed in an iron cage, with his head and feet outside, so that he could walk, but neither sit nor lie down; at night his pious attendants attached a hundred lighted lamps to the outside of the cage, so that their master could exhibit himself walking as the mock light of the world.296

In general, the hermit life confounds the fleeing from the outward world with the mortification of the inward world of the corrupt heart. It mistakes the duty of love; not rarely, under its mask of humility and the utmost self-denial, cherishes spiritual pride and jealousy; and exposes itself to all the dangers of solitude, even to savage barbarism, beastly grossness, or despair and suicide. Anthony, the father of anchorets, well understood this, and warned his followers against overvaluing solitude, reminding them of the proverb of the Preacher, iv. 10: "Woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."

The cloister life was less exposed to these errors. It approached the life of society and civilization. Yet, on the other hand, it produced no such heroic phenomena, and had dangers peculiar to itself. Chrysostom gives us the bright side of it from his own experience. "Before the rising of the sun," says he of the monks of Antioch, "they rise, hale and sober, sing as with one mouth hymns to the praise of God, then bow the knee in prayer, under the direction of the abbot, read the holy Scriptures, and go to their labors; pray again at nine, twelve, and three o’clock; after a good day’s work, enjoy a simple meal of bread and salt, perhaps with oil, and sometimes with pulse; sing a thanksgiving hymn, and lay themselves on their pallets of straw without care, grief, or murmur. When one dies, they say: ’He is perfected;’ and all pray God for a like end, that they also may come to the eternal sabbath-rest and to the vision of Christ."  Men like Chrysostom, Basil, Gregory, Jerome, Nilus, and Isidore, united theological studies with the ascetic exercises of solitude, and thus gained a copious knowledge of Scripture and a large spiritual experience.

But most of the monks either could not even read, or had too little intellectual culture to devote themselves with advantage to contemplation and study, and only brooded over gloomy feelings, or sank, in spite of the unsensual tendency of the ascetic principle, into the coarsest anthropomorphism and image worship. When the religious enthusiasm faltered or ceased, the cloister life, like the hermit life, became the most spiritless and tedious routine, or hypocritically practised secret vices. For the monks carried with them into their solitude their most dangerous enemy in their hearts, and there often endured much fiercer conflicts with flesh and blood, than amidst the society of men.

The temptations of sensuality, pride, and ambition externalized and personified themselves to the anchorets and monks in hellish shapes, which appeared in visions and dreams, now in pleasing and seductive, now in threatening and terrible forms and colors, according to the state of mind at the time. The monastic imagination peopled the deserts and solitudes with the very worst society, with swarms of winged demons and all kinds of hellish monsters.297  It substituted thus a new kind of polytheism for the heathen gods, which were generally supposed to be evil spirits. The monastic demonology and demonomachy is a strange mixture of gross superstitions and deep spiritual experiences. It forms the romantic shady side of the otherwise so tedious monotony of the secluded life, and contains much material for the history of ethics, psychology, and pathology.

Especially besetting were the temptations of sensuality, and irresistible without the utmost exertion and constant watchfulness. The same saints, who could not conceive of true chastity without celibacy, were disturbed, according to their own confession, by unchaste dreams, which at least defiled the imagination.298  Excessive asceticism sometimes turned into unnatural vice; sometimes ended in madness, despair, and suicide. Pachomius tells us, so early as his day, that many monks cast themselves down precipices, others ripped themselves up, and others put themselves to death in other ways.299

A characteristic trait of monasticism in all its forms is a morbid aversion to female society and a rude contempt of married life. No wonder, then, that in Egypt and the whole East, the land of monasticism, women and domestic life never attained their proper dignity, and to this day remain at a very low stage of culture. Among the rules of Basil is a prohibition of speaking with a woman, touching one, or even looking on one, except in unavoidable cases. Monasticism not seldom sundered the sacred bond between husband and wife, commonly with mutual consent, as in the cases of Ammon and Nilus, but often even without it. Indeed, a law of Justinian seems to give either party an unconditional right of desertion, while yet the word of God declares the marriage bond indissoluble. The Council of Gangra found it necessary to oppose the notion that marriage is inconsistent with salvation, and to exhort wives to remain with their husbands. In the same way monasticism came into conflict with love of kindred, and with the relation of parents to children; misinterpreting the Lord’s command to leave all for His sake. Nilus demanded of the monks the entire suppression of the sense of blood relationship. St. Anthony forsook his younger sister, and saw her only once after the separation. His disciple, Prior, when he became a monk, vowed never to see his kindred again, and would not even speak with his sister without closing his eyes. Something of the same sort is recorded of Pachomius. Ambrose and Jerome, in full earnest, enjoined upon virgins the cloister life, even against the will of their parents. When Hilary of Poictiers heard that his daughter wished to marry, he is said to have prayed God to take her to himself by death. One Mucius, without any provocation, caused his own son to be cruelly abused, and at last, at the command of the abbot himself, cast him into the water, whence he was rescued by a brother of the cloister.300

Even in the most favorable case monasticism falls short of harmonious moral development, and of that symmetry of virtue which meets us in perfection in Christ, and next to him in the apostles. It lacks the finer and gentler traits of character, which are ordinarily brought out only in the school of daily family life and under the social ordinances of God. Its morality is rather negative than positive. There is more virtue in the temperate and thankful enjoyment of the gifts of God, than in total abstinence; in charitable and well-seasoned speech, than in total silence; in connubial chastity, than in celibacy; in self-denying practical labor for the church. than in solitary asceticism, which only pleases self and profits no one else.

Catholicism, whether Greek or Roman, cannot dispense with the monastic life. It knows only moral extremes, nothing of the healthful mean. In addition to this, Popery needs the monastic orders, as an absolute monarchy needs large standing armies both for conquest and defence. But evangelical Protestantism, rejecting all distinction of a twofold morality, assigning to all men the same great duty under the law of God, placing the essence of religion not in outward exercises, but in the heart, not in separation from the world and from society, but in purifying and sanctifying the world by the free spirit of the gospel, is death to the great monastic institution.


 § 33. Position of Monks in the Church.


As to the social position of monasticism in the system of ecclesiastical life: it was at first, in East and West, even so late as the council of Chalcedon, regarded as a lay institution; but the monks were distinguished as religiosi from the seculares, and formed thus a middle grade between the ordinary laity and the clergy. They constituted the spiritual nobility, but not the ruling class; the aristocracy, but not the hierarchy of the church. "A monk," says Jerome, "has not the office of a teacher, but of a penitent, who endures suffering either for himself or for the world."  Many monks considered ecclesiastical office incompatible with their effort after perfection. It was a proverb, traced to Pachomius: "A monk should especially shun women and bishops, for neither will let him have peace."301  Ammonius, who accompanied Athanasius to Rome, cut off his own ear, and threatened to cut out his own tongue, when it was proposed to make him a bishop.302  Martin of Tours thought his miraculous power deserted him on his transition from the cloister to the bishopric. Others, on the contrary, were ambitious for the episcopal chair, or were promoted to it against their will, as early as the fourth century. The abbots of monasteries were usually ordained priests, and administered the sacraments among the brethren, but were subject to the bishop of the diocese. Subsequently the cloisters managed, through special papal grants, to make themselves independent of the episcopal jurisdiction. From the tenth century the clerical character was attached to the monks. In a certain sense, they stood, from the beginning, even above the clergy; considered themselves preëminently conversi and religiosi, and their life vita religiosa; looked down with contempt upon the secular clergy; and often encroached on their province in troublesome ways. On the other hand, the cloisters began, as early as the fourth century, to be most fruitful seminaries of clergy, and furnished, especially in the East, by far the greater number of bishops. The sixth novel of Justinian provides that the bishops shall be chosen from the clergy, or from the monastery.

 In dress, the monks at first adhered to the costume of the country, but chose the simplest and coarsest material. Subsequently, they adopted the tonsure and a distinctive uniform.


 § 34. Influence and Effect of Monasticism.


The influence of monasticism upon the world, from Anthony and Benedict to Luther and Loyola, is deeply marked in all branches of the history of the church. Here, too, we must distinguish light and shade. The operation of the monastic institution has been to some extent of diametrically opposite kinds, and has accordingly elicited the most diverse judgments. "It is impossible," says Dean Milman,303 "to survey monachism in its general influence, from the earliest period of its inworking into Christianity, without being astonished and perplexed with its diametrically opposite effects. Here it is the undoubted parent of the blindest ignorance and the most ferocious bigotry, sometimes of the most debasing licentiousness; there the guardian of learning, the author of civilization, the propagator of humble and peaceful religion."  The apparent contradiction is easily solved. It is not monasticism, as such, which has proved a blessing to the church and the world; for the monasticism of India, which for three thousand years has pushed the practice of mortification to all the excesses of delirium, never saved a single soul, nor produced a single benefit to the race. It was Christianity in monasticism which has done all the good, and used this abnormal mode of life as a means for carrying forward its mission of love and peace. In proportion as monasticism was animated and controlled by the spirit of Christianity, it proved a blessing; while separated from it, it degenerated and became at fruitful source of evil.

At the time of its origin, when we can view it from the most favorable point, the monastic life formed a healthful and necessary counterpart to the essentially corrupt and doomed social life of the Graeco-Roman empire, and the preparatory school of a new Christian civilization among the Romanic and Germanic nations of the middle age. Like the hierarchy and the papacy, it belongs with the disciplinary institutions, which the spirit of Christianity uses as means to a higher end, and, after attaining that end, casts aside. For it ever remains the great problem of Christianity to pervade like leaven and sanctify all human society in the family and the state, in science and art, and in all public life. The old Roman world, which was based on heathenism, was, if the moral portraitures of Salvianus and other writers of the fourth and fifth centuries are even half true, past all such transformation; and the Christian morality therefore assumed at the outset an attitude of downright hostility toward it, till she should grow strong enough to venture upon her regenerating mission among the new and, though barbarous, yet plastic and germinal nations of the middle age, and plant in them the seed of a higher civilization.

Monasticism promoted the downfall of heathenism and the victory of Christianity in the Roman empire and among the barbarians. It stood as a warning against the worldliness, frivolity, and immorality of the great cities, and a mighty call to repentance and conversion. It offered a quiet refuge to souls weary of the world, and led its earnest disciples into the sanctuary of undisturbed communion with God. It was to invalids a hospital for the cure of moral diseases, and at the same time, to healthy and vigorous enthusiasts an arena for the exercise of heroic virtue.304  It recalled the original unity and equality of the human race, by placing rich and poor, high and low upon the same level. It conduced to the abolition, or at least the mitigation of slavery.305  It showed hospitality to the wayfaring, and liberality to the poor and needy. It was an excellent school of meditation, self-discipline, and spiritual exercise. It sent forth most of those catholic, missionaries, who, inured to all hardship, planted the standard of the cross among the barbarian tribes of Northern and Western Europe, and afterward in Eastern Asia and South America. It was a prolific seminary of the clergy, and gave the church many of her most eminent bishops and popes, as Gregory I. and Gregory VII. It produced saints like Anthony and Bernard, and trained divines like Chrysostom and Jerome, and the long succession of schoolmen and mystics of the middle ages. Some of the profoundest theological discussions, like the tracts of Anselm, and the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, and not a few of the best books of devotion, like the "Imitation of Christ," by Thomas a Kempis, have proceeded from the solemn quietude of cloister life. Sacred hymns, unsurpassed for sweetness, like the Jesu dulcis memoria, or tender emotion, like the Stabat mater dolorosa, or terrific grandeur, like the Dies irae, dies illa, were conceived and sung by mediaeval monks for all ages to come. In patristic and antiquarian learning the Benedictines, so lately as the seventeenth century, have done extraordinary service. Finally, monasticism, at least in the West, promoted the cultivation of the soil and the education of the people, and by its industrious transcriptions of the Bible, the works of the church fathers, and the ancient classics, earned for itself, before the Reformation, much of the credit of the modern civilization of Europe. The traveller in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, England, and even in the northern regions of Scotland and Sweden, encounters innumerable traces of useful monastic labors in the ruins of abbeys, of chapter houses, of convents, of priories and hermitages, from which once proceeded educational and missionary influences upon the surrounding hills and forests. These offices, however, to the progress of arts and letters were only accessory, often involuntary, and altogether foreign to the intention of the founders of monastic life and institutions, who looked exclusively to the religious and moral education of the soul. In seeking first the kingdom of heaven, these other things were added to them.

But on the other hand, monasticism withdrew from society many useful forces; diffused an indifference for the family life, the civil and military service of the state, and all public practical operations; turned the channels of religion from the world into the desert, and so hastened the decline of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the whole Roman empire. It nourished religious fanaticism, often raised storms of popular agitation, and rushed passionately into the controversies of theological parties; generally, it is true, on the side of orthodoxy, but often, as at the Ephesian "council of robbers," in favor of heresy, and especially in behalf of the crudest superstition. For the simple, divine way of salvation in the gospel, it substituted an arbitrary, eccentric, ostentatious, and pretentious sanctity. It darkened the all-sufficient merits of Christ by the glitter of the over-meritorious works of man. It measured virtue by the quantity of outward exercises instead of the quality of the inward disposition, and disseminated self-righteousness and an anxious, legal, and mechanical religion. It favored the idolatrous veneration of Mary and of saints, the worship of images and relics, and all sorts of superstitious and pious fraud. It circulated a mass of visions and miracles, which, if true, far surpassed the miracles of Christ and the apostles and set all the laws of nature and reason at defiance. The Nicene age is full of the most absurd monks’ fables, and is in this respect not a whit behind the darkest of the middle ages.306  Monasticism lowered the standard of general morality in proportion as it set itself above it and claimed a corresponding higher merit; and it exerted in general a demoralizing influence on the people, who came to consider themselves the profanum vulgus mundi, and to live accordingly. Hence the frequent lamentations, not only of Salvian, but of Chrysostom and of Augustine, over the indifference and laxness of the Christianity of the day; hence to this day the mournful state of things in the southern countries of Europe and America, where monasticism is most prevalent, and sets the extreme of ascetic sanctity in contrast with the profane laity, but where there exists no healthful middle class of morality, no blooming family life, no moral vigor in the masses. In the sixteenth century the monks were the bitterest enemies of the Reformation and of all true progress. And yet the greatest of the reformers was a pupil of the convent, and a child of the monastic system, as the boldest and most free of the apostles had been the strictest of the Pharisees.


 § 35. Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony.


I. Athanasius: Vita S. Antonii (in Greek, Opera, ed. Ben. ii. 793–866). The same in Latin, by Evagrius, in the fourth century. Jerome: Catal. c. 88 (a very brief notice of Anthony); Vita S. Pauli Theb. (Opera, ed. Vallars, ii. p. 1–12). Sozom: H. E. l. i. cap. 13 and 14. Socrat.: H. E. iv. 23, 25.

II. Acta Sanctorum, sub Jan. 17 (tom. ii. p. 107 sqq.). Tillemont: Mem. tom. vii. p. 101–144 (St. Antoine, premier père des solitaires d’Egypte). Butler (R.C.): Lives of the Saints, sub Jan. 17. Möhler (R.C.): Athanasius der Grosse, p. 382–402. Neander: K. G. iii. 446 sqq. (Torrey’s Engl. ed. ii. 229–234). Böhringer: Die Kirche Christi in Biographien, i. 2, p. 122–151. H. Ruffner: l.c. vol. i. p. 247–302 (a condensed translation from Athanasius, with additions). K. Hase: K. Gesch. § 64 (a masterly miniature portrait).


The first known Christian hermit, as distinct from the earlier ascetics, is the fabulous Paul of Thebes, in Upper Egypt. In the twenty-second year of his age, during the Decian persecution, a.d. 250, he retired to a distant cave, grew fond of the solitude, and lived there, according to the legend, ninety years, in a grotto near a spring and a palm tree, which furnished him food, shade, and clothing,307 until his death in 340. In his later years a raven is said to have brought him daily half a loaf, as the ravens ministered to Elijah. But no one knew of this wonderful saint, till Anthony, who under a higher impulse visited and buried him, made him known to the world. After knocking in vain for more than an hour at the door of the hermit, who would receive the visits of beasts and reject those of men, he was admitted at last with a smiling face, and greeted with a holy kiss. Paul had sufficient curiosity left to ask the question, whether there were any more idolaters in the world, whether new houses were built in ancient cities and by whom the world was governed?  During this interesting conversation, a large raven came gently flying and deposited a double portion of bread for the saint and his guest. "The Lord," said Paul, "ever kind and merciful, has sent us a dinner. It is now sixty years since I have daily received half a loaf, but since thou hast come, Christ has doubled the supply for his soldiers."  After thanking the Giver, they sat down by the fountain; but now the question arose who should break the bread; the one urging the custom of hospitality, the other pleading the right of his friend as the elder. This question of monkish etiquette, which may have a moral significance, consumed nearly the whole day, and was settled at last by the compromise that both should seize the loaf at opposite ends, pull till it broke, and keep what remained in their hands. A drink from the fountain, and thanksgiving to God closed the meal. The day afterward Anthony returned to his cell, and told his two disciples: "Woe to me, a sinner, who have falsely pretended to be a monk. I have seen Elijah and John in the desert; I have seen St. Paul in paradise."  Soon afterward he paid St. Paul a second visit, but found him dead in his cave, with head erect and hands lifted up to heaven. He wrapped up the corpse, singing psalms and hymns, and buried him without a spade; for two lions came of their own accord, or rather from supernatural impulse, from the interior parts of the desert, laid down at his feet, wagging their tails, and moaning distressingly, and scratched a grave in the sand large enough for the body of the departed saint of the desert!  Anthony returned with the coat of Paul, made of palm leaves, and wore it on the solemn days of Easter and Pentecost.

The learned Jerome wrote the life of Paul, some thirty years afterward, as it appears, on the authority of Anathas and Macarius, two disciples of Anthony. But he remarks, in the prologue, that many incredible things are said of him, which are not worthy of repetition. If he believed his story of the grave-digging lions, it is hard to imagine what was more credible and less worthy of repetition.

In this Paul we have an example, of a canonized saint, who lived ninety years unseen and unknown in the wilderness, beyond all fellowship with the visible church, without Bible, public worship, or sacraments, and so died, yet is supposed to have attained the highest grade of piety. How does this consist with the common doctrine of the Catholic church respecting the necessity and the operation of the means of grace?  Augustine, blinded by the ascetic spirit of his age, says even, that anchorets, on their level of perfection, may dispense with the Bible. Certain it is, that this kind of perfection stands not in the Bible, but outside of it.

The proper founder of the hermit life, the one chiefly instrumental in giving it its prevalence, was St. Anthony of Egypt. He is the most celebrated, the most original, and the most venerable representative of this abnormal and eccentric sanctity, the "patriarch of the monks," and the "childless father of an innumerable seed."308

Anthony sprang from a Christian and honorable Coptic family, and was born about 251, at Coma, on the borders of the Thebaid. Naturally quiet, contemplative, and reflective, he avoided the society of playmates, and despised all higher learning. He understood only his Coptic vernacular, and remained all his life ignorant of Grecian literature and secular science.309  But he diligently attended divine worship with his parents, and so carefully heard the Scripture lessons, that he retained them in memory.310  Memory was his library. He afterward made faithful, but only too literal use of single passages of Scripture, and began his discourse to the hermits with the very uncatholic-sounding declaration: "The holy Scriptures give us instruction enough."  In his eighteenth year, about 270, the death of his parents devolved on him the care of a younger sister and a considerable estate. Six months afterward he heard in the church, just as he was meditating on the apostles’ implicit following of Jesus, the word of the Lord to the rich young ruler: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me."311  This word was a voice of God, which determined his life. He divided his real estate, consisting of three hundred acres of fertile land, among the inhabitants of the village, and sold his personal property for the benefit of the poor, excepting a moderate reserve for the support of his sister. But when, soon afterward, he heard in the church the exhortation, "Take no thought for the morrow,"312 he distributed the remnant to the poor, and intrusted his sister to a society of pious virgins.313  He visited her only once after—a fact characteristic of the ascetic depreciation of natural ties.

He then forsook the hamlet, and led an ascetic life in the neighborhood, praying constantly, according to the exhortation: "Pray without ceasing;" and also laboring, according to the maxim: "If any will not work, neither should he eat."  What he did not need for his slender support, he gave to the poor. He visited the neighboring ascetics, who were then already very plentiful in Egypt, to learn humbly and thankfully their several eminent virtues; from one, earnestness in prayer; from another, watchfulness; from a third, excellence in fasting; from a fourth, meekness; from all, love to Christ and to fellow men. Thus he made himself universally beloved, and came to be reverenced as a friend of God.

But to reach a still higher level of ascetic holiness, he retreated, after the year 285, further and further from the bosom and vicinity of the church, into solitude, and thus became the founder of an anchoretism strictly so called. At first he lived in a sepulchre; then for twenty years in the ruins of a castle; and last on Mount Colzim, some seven hours from the Red Sea, a three days’ journey east of the Nile, where an old cloister still preserves his name and memory.

In this solitude he prosecuted his ascetic practices with ever-increasing rigor. Their monotony was broken only by basket making, occasional visits, and battles with the devil. In fasting he attained a rare abstemiousness. His food consisted of bread and salt, sometimes dates; his drink, of water. Flesh and wine he never touched. He ate only once a day, generally after sunset, and, like the presbyter Isidore, was ashamed that an immortal spirit should need earthly nourishment. Often he fasted from two to five days. Friends, and wandering Saracens, who always had a certain reverence for the saints of the desert, brought him bread from time to time. But in the last years of his life, to render himself entirely independent of others, and to afford hospitality to travellers, he cultivated a small garden on the mountain, near a spring shaded by palms.314  Sometimes the wild beasts of the forest destroyed his modest harvest, till he drove them away forever with the expostulation: "Why do you injure me, who have never done you the slightest harm?  Away with you all, in the name of the Lord, and never come into my neighborhood again."  He slept on bare ground, or at best on a pallet of straw; but often he watched the whole night through in prayer. The anointing of the body with oil he despised, and in later years never washed his feet; as if filthiness were an essential element of ascetic perfection. His whole wardrobe consisted of a hair shirt, a sheepskin, and a girdle. But notwithstanding all, he had a winning friendliness and cheerfulness in his face.

Conflicts with the devil and his hosts of demons were, as with other solitary saints, a prominent part of Anthony’s experience, and continued through all his life. The devil appeared to him in visions and dreams, or even in daylight, in all possible forms, now as a friend, now as a fascinating woman, now as a dragon, tempting him by reminding him of his former wealth, of his noble family, of the care due to his sister, by promises of wealth, honor, and renown, by exhibitions of the difficulty of virtue and the facility of vice, by unchaste thoughts and images, by terrible threatening of the dangers and punishments of the ascetic life. Once he struck the hermit so violently, Athanasius says, that a friend, who brought him bread, found him on the ground apparently dead. At another time he broke through the wall of his cave and filled the room with roaring lions, howling wolves, growling bears, fierce hyenas, crawling serpents and scorpions; but Anthony turned manfully toward the monsters, till a supernatural light broke in from the roof and dispersed them. His sermon, which he delivered to the hermits at their request, treats principally of these wars with demons, and gives also the key to the interpretation of them: "Fear not Satan and his angels. Christ has broken their power. The best weapon against them is faith and piety .... The presence of evil spirits reveals itself in perplexity, despondency, hatred of the ascetics, evil desires, fear of death .... They take the form answering to the spiritual state they find in us at the time.315  They are the reflex of our thoughts and fantasies. If thou art carnally minded, thou art their prey; but if thou rejoicest in the Lord and occupiest thyself with divine things, they are powerless .... The devil is afraid of fasting, of prayer, of humility and good works. His illusions soon vanish, when one arms himself with the sign of the cross."

Only in exceptional cases did Anthony leave his solitude; and then he made a powerful impression on both Christians and heathens with his hairy dress and his emaciated, ghostlike form. In the year 311, during the persecution under Maximinus, he appeared in Alexandria in the hope of himself gaining the martyr’s crown. He visited the confessors in the mines and prisons, encouraged them before the tribunal, accompanied them to the scaffold; but no one ventured to lay hands on the saint of the wilderness. In the year 351, when a hundred years old, he showed himself for the second and last time in the metropolis of Egypt, to bear witness for the orthodox faith of his friend Athanasius against Arianism, and in a few days converted more heathens and heretics than had otherwise been gained in a whole year. He declared the Arian denial of the divinity of Christ worse than the venom of the serpent, and no better than heathenism which worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. He would have nothing to do with heretics, and warned his disciples against intercourse with them. Athanasius attended him to the gate of the city, where he cast out an evil spirit from a girl. An invitation to stay longer in Alexandria he declined, saying: "As a fish out of water, so a monk out of his solitude dies."  Imitating his example, the monks afterward forsook the wilderness in swarms whenever orthodoxy was in danger, and went in long processions with wax tapers and responsive singing through the streets, or appeared at the councils, to contend for the orthodox faith with all the energy of fanaticism, often even with physical force.

Though Anthony shunned the society of men, yet he was frequently visited in his solitude and resorted to for consolation and aid by Christians and heathens, by ascetics, sick, and needy, as a heaven-descended physician of Egypt for body and soul. He enjoined prayer, labor, and care of the poor, exhorted those at strife to the love of God, and healed the sick and demoniac with his prayer. Athanasius relates several miracles performed by him, the truth of which we leave undecided though they are far less incredible and absurd than many other monkish stories of that age. Anthony, his biographer assures us, never boasted when his prayer was heard, nor murmured when it was not, but in either case thanked God. He cautioned monks against overrating the gift of miracles, since it is not our work, but the grace of the Lord; and he reminds them of the word: "Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."  To Martianus, an officer, who urgently besought him to heal his possessed daughter, he said: "Man, why dost thou call on me?  I am a man, as thou art. If thou believest, pray to God, and he will hear thee."  Martianus prayed, and on his return found his daughter whole.

Anthony distinguished himself above most of his countless disciples and successors, by his fresh originality of mind. Though uneducated and limited, he had sound sense and ready mother wit. Many of his striking answers and felicitous sentences have come down to us. When some heathen philosophers once visited him, he asked them: "Why do you give yourselves so much trouble to see a fool?"  They explained, perhaps ironically, that they took him rather for a wise man. He replied: "If you take me for a fool, your labor is lost; but if I am a wise man, you should imitate me, and be Christians, as I am."  At another time, when taunted with his ignorance, he asked: "Which is older and better, mind or learning?"  The mind, was the answer. "Then," said the hermit, "the mind can do without learning."  "My book," he remarked on a similar occasion, "is the whole creation, which lies open before me, and in which I can read the word of God as often as I will."  The blind church-teacher, Didymus, whom he met in Alexandria, he comforted with the words: "Trouble not thyself for the loss of the outward eye, with which even flies see; but rejoice in the possession of the spiritual eye, with which also angels behold the face of God, and receive his light."316  Even the emperor Constantine, with his sons, wrote to him as a spiritual father, and begged an answer from him. The hermit at first would not so much as receive the letter, since, in any case, being unable to write, he could not answer it, and cared as little for the great of this world as Diogenes for Alexander. When told that the emperor was a Christian, he dictated the answer: "Happy thou, that thou worshippest Christ. Be not proud of thy earthly power. Think of the future judgment, and know that Christ is the only true and eternal king. Practise justice and love for men, and care for the poor."  To his disciples he said on this occasion: "Wonder not that the emperor writes to me, for he is a man. Wonder much more that God has written the law for man, and has spoken to us by his own Son."

During the last years of his life the patriarch of monasticism withdrew as much as possible from the sight of visitors, but allowed two disciples to live with him, and to take care of him in his infirm old age. When he felt his end approaching, he commanded them not to embalm his body, according to the Egyptian custom, but to bury it in the earth, and to keep the spot of his interment secret. One of his two sheepskins he bequeathed to the bishop Serapion, the other, with his underclothing, to Athanasius, who had once given it to him new, and now received it back worn out. What became of the robe woven from palm leaves, which, according to Jerome, he had inherited from Paul of Thebes, and wore at Easter and Pentecost, Athanasius does not tell us. After this disposition of his property, Anthony said to his disciples: "Children, farewell; for Anthony goes away, and will be no more with you."  With these words he stretched out his feet and expired with a smiling face, in the year 356, a hundred and five years old. His grave remained for centuries unknown. His last will was thus a protest against the worship of saints and relics, which, however, it nevertheless greatly helped to promote. Under Justinian, in 561, his bones, as the Bollandists and Butler minutely relate, were miraculously discovered, brought to Alexandria, then to Constantinople, and at last to Vienne in South France, and in the eleventh century, during the raging of an epidemic disease, the so-called "holy fire," or "St. Anthony’s fire," they are said to have performed great wonders.

Athanasius, the greatest man of the Nicene age, concludes his biography of his friend with this sketch of his character: "From this short narrative you may judge how great a man Anthony was, who persevered in the ascetic life from youth to the highest age. In his advanced age he never allowed himself better food, nor change of raiment, nor did he even wash his feet. Yet he continued healthy in all his parts. His eyesight was clear to the end, and his teeth sound, though by long use worn to mere stumps. He retained also the perfect use of his hands and feet, and was more robust and vigorous than those who are accustomed to change of food and clothing and to washing. His fame spread from his remote dwelling on the lone mountain over the whole Roman empire. What gave him his renown, was not learning nor worldly wisdom, nor human art, but alone his piety toward God .... And let all the brethren know, that the Lord will not only take holy monks to heaven, but give them celebrity in all the earth, however deep they may bury themselves in the wilderness."

The whole Nicene age venerated in Anthony a model saint.317  This fact brings out most characteristically the vast difference between the ancient and the modern, the old Catholic and the evangelical Protestant conception of the nature of the Christian religion. The specifically Christian element in the life of Anthony, especially as measured by the Pauline standard, is very small. Nevertheless we can but admire the needy magnificence, the simple, rude grandeur of this hermit sanctity even in its aberration. Anthony concealed under his sheepskin a childlike humility, an amiable simplicity, a rare energy of will, and a glowing love to God, which maintained itself for almost ninety years in the absence of all the comforts and pleasures of natural life, and triumphed over all the temptations of the flesh. By piety alone, without the help of education or learning, he became one of the most remarkable and influential men in the history of the ancient church. Even heathen contemporaries could not withhold from him their reverence, and the celebrated philosopher Synesius, afterward a bishop, before his conversion reckoned Anthony among those rare men, in whom flashes of thought take the place of reasonings, and natural power of mind makes schooling needless.318


 § 36. Spread of Anchoretism. Hilarion.


The example of Anthony acted like magic upon his generation, and his biography by Athanasius, which was soon translated also into Latin, was a tract for the times. Chrysostom recommended it to all as instructive and edifying reading.319  Even Augustine, the most evangelical of the fathers, was powerfully affected by the reading of it in his decisive religious struggle, and was decided by it in his entire renunciation of the world.320

In a short time, still in the lifetime of Anthony, the deserts of Egypt, from Nitria, south of Alexandria, and the wilderness of Scetis, to Libya and the Thebaid, were peopled with anchorets and studded with cells. A mania for monasticism possessed Christendom, and seized the people of all classes like an epidemic. As martyrdom had formerly been, so now monasticism was, the quickest and surest way to renown upon earth and to eternal reward in heaven. This prospect, with which Athanasius concludes his life of Anthony, abundantly recompensed all self-denial and mightily stimulated pious ambition. The consistent recluse must continually increase his seclusion. No desert was too scorching, no rock too forbidding, no cliff too steep, no cave too dismal for the feet of these world-hating and man-shunning enthusiasts. Nothing was more common than to see from two to five hundred monks under the same abbot. It has been supposed, that in Egypt the number of anchorets and cenobites equalled the population of the cities.321  The natural contrast between the desert and the fertile valley of the Nile, was reflected in the moral contrast between the monastic life and the world.

The elder Macarius322 introduced the hermit life in the frightful desert of Scetis; Amun or Ammon,323 on the Nitrian mountain. The latter was married, but persuaded his bride, immediately after the nuptials, to live with him in the strictest abstinence. Before the end of the fourth century there were in Nitria alone, according to Sozomen, five thousand monks, who lived mostly in separate cells or laurae, and never spoke with one another except on Saturday and Sunday, when they assembled for common worship.

From Egypt the solitary life spread to the neighboring countries.

Hilarion, whose life Jerome has written graphically and at large,324 established it in the wilderness of Gaza, in Palestine and Syria. This saint attained among the anchorets of the fourth century an eminence second only to Anthony. He was the son of pagan parents, and grew up "as a rose among thorns."  He went to school in Alexandria, diligently attended church, and avoided the circus, the gladiatorial shows, and the theatre. He afterward lived two months with St. Anthony, and became his most celebrated disciple. After the death of his parents, he distributed his inheritance among his brothers and the poor, and reserved nothing, fearing the example of Ananias and Sapphira, and remembering the word of Christ: "Whosoever he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."325  He then retired into the wilderness of Gaza, which was inhabited only by robbers and assassins; battled, like Anthony, with obscene dreams and other temptations of the devil; and so reduced his body—the "ass," which ought to have not barley, but chaff—with fastings and night watchings, that, while yet a youth of twenty years, he looked almost like a skeleton. He never ate before sunset. Prayers, psalm singing, Bible recitations, and basket weaving were his employment. His cell was only five feet high, lower than his own stature, and more like a sepulchre than a dwelling. He slept on the ground. He cut his hair only once a year, at Easter. The fame of his sanctity gradually attracted hosts of admirers (once, ten thousand), so that he had to change his residence several times, and retired to Sicily, then to Dalmatia, and at last to the island of Cyprus, where he died in 371, in his eightieth year. His legacy, a book of the Gospels and a rude mantle, he made to his friend Hesychius, who took his corpse home to Palestine, and deposited it in the cloister of Majumas. The Cyprians consoled themselves over their loss, with the thought that they possessed the spirit of the saint. Jerome ascribes to him all manner of visions and miraculous cures.


 § 37. St. Symeon and the Pillar Saints.


Respecting St. Symeon, or Simeon Stylites, we have accounts from three contemporaries and eye witnesses, Anthony, Cosmas, and especially Theodoret (Hist. Relig. c. 26). The latter composed his narrative sixteen years before the death the saint.

Evagrius: H. E. i. c. 13. The Acta Sanctorum and Butler, sub Jan. 5. Uhlemann: Symeon, der erste Säulenheilige in Syrien. Leipz. 1846. (Comp. also the fine poem of A. Tennyson: St. Symeon Stylites, a monologue in which S. relates his own experience.)


It is unnecessary to recount the lives of other such anchorets; since the same features, even to unimportant details, repeat themselves in all.326  But in the fifth century a new and quite original path327 was broken by Symeon, the father of the Stylites or pillar saints, who spent long years, day and night, summer and winter, rain and sunshine, frost and heat, standing on high, unsheltered pillars, in prayer and penances, and made the way to heaven for themselves so passing hard, that one knows not whether to wonder at their unexampled self-denial, or to pity their ignorance of the gospel salvation. On this giddy height the anchoretic asceticism reached its completion.

St. Symeon the Stylite, originally a shepherd on the borders of Syria and Cilicia, when a boy of thirteen years, was powerfully affected by the beatitudes, which he heard read in the church, and betook himself to a cloister. He lay several days, without eating or drinking, before the threshold, and begged to be admitted as the meanest servant of the house. He accustomed himself to eat only once a week, on Sunday. During Lent he even went through the whole forty days without any food; a fact almost incredible even for a tropical climate.328  The first attempt of this kind brought him to the verge of death; but his constitution conformed itself, and when Theodoret visited him, he had solemnized six and twenty Lent seasons by total abstinence, and thus surpassed Moses, Elias, and even Christ, who never fasted so but once. Another of his extraordinary inflections was to lace his body so tightly that the cord pressed through to the bones, and could be cut off only with the most terrible pains. This occasioned his dismissal from the cloister. He afterward spent some time as a hermit upon a mountain, with an iron chain upon his feet, and was visited there by admiring and curious throngs. When this failed to satisfy him, he invented, in 423, a new sort of holiness, and lived, some two days’ journey (forty miles) east of Antioch, for six and thirty years, until his death, upon a pillar, which at the last was nearly forty cubits high;329 for the pillar was raised in proportion as he approached heaven and perfection. Here he could never lie nor sit, but only stand, or lean upon a post (probably a banister), or devoutly bow; in which last posture he almost touched his feet with his head—so flexible had his back been made by fasting. A spectator once counted in one day no less than twelve hundred and forty-four such genuflexions of the saint before the Almighty, and then gave up counting. He wore a covering of the skins of beasts, and a chain about his neck. Even the holy sacrament he took upon his pillar. There St. Symeon stood many long and weary days, and weeks, and months, and years, exposed to the scorching sun, the drenching rain, the crackling frost, the howling storm, living a life of daily death and martyrdom, groaning under the load of sin, never attaining to the true comfort and peace of soul which is derived from a child-like trust in Christ’s infinite merits, earnestly striving after a superhuman holiness, and looking to a glorious reward in heaven, and immortal fame on earth. Alfred Tennyson makes him graphically describe his experience in a monologue to God:

’Although I be the basest of mankind,

From scalp to sole one slough and crust of sin,

Unfit for earth, unfit for heaven, scarce meet

For troops of devils, mad with blasphemy,

I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold

Of saintdom, and to clamor, moan, and sob

Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer:

Have mercy, Lord, and take away my sin.

* * * * * *

Oh take the meaning, Lord: I do not breathe,

Not whisper, any murmur of complaint.

Pain heaped ten hundredfold to this, were still

Less burthen, by ten hundredfold, to bear,

Than were those lead-like tons of sin, that crushed

My spirit flat before Thee.


                                                     O Lord, Lord,

Thou knowest I bore this better at the first,

For I was strong and hale of body then;

And though my teeth, which now are dropt away,

Would chatter with the cold, and all my beard

Was tagged with icy fringes in the moon,

I drowned the whoopings of the owl with sound

Of pious hymns and psalms, and sometimes saw

An angel stand and watch me, as I sang.

Now am I feeble grown: my end draws nigh—

I hope my end draws nigh: half deaf I am,

So that I scarce can hear the people hum

About the column’s base; and almost blind,

And scarce can recognize the fields I know.

And both my thighs are rotted with the dew,

Yet cease I not to clamor and to cry,

While my stiff spine can hold my weary head,

Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the stone:

Have mercy, mercy; take away my sin."


Yet Symeon was not only concerned about his own salvation. People streamed from afar to witness this standing wonder of the age. He spoke to all classes with the same friendliness, mildness, and love; only women he never suffered to come within the wall which surrounded his pillar. From this original pulpit, as a mediator between heaven and earth, he preached repentance twice a day to the astonished spectators, settled controversies, vindicated the orthodox faith, extorted laws even from an emperor, healed the sick wrought miracles, and converted thousands of heathen Ishmaelites, Iberians, Armenians, and Persians to Christianity, or at least to the Christian name. All this the celebrated Theodoret relates as an eyewitness during the lifetime of the saint. He terms him the great wonder of the world,330 and compares him to a candle on a candlestick, and to the sun itself, which sheds its rays on every side. He asks the objector to this mode of life to consider that God often uses very striking means to arouse the negligent, as the history of the prophets shows;331 and concludes his narrative with the remark: "Should the saint live longer, he may do yet greater wonders, for he is a universal ornament and honor of religion."

He died in 459, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, of a long-concealed and loathsome ulcer on his leg; and his body was brought in solemn procession to the metropolitan church Of Antioch.

Even before his death, Symeon enjoyed the unbounded admiration of Christians and heathens, of the common people, of the kings of Persia, and of the emperors Theodosius II., Leo, and Marcian, who begged his blessing and his counsel. No wonder, that, with all his renowned humility, he had to struggle with the temptations of spiritual pride. Once an angel appeared to him in a vision, with a chariot of fire, to convey him, like Elijah, to heaven, because the blessed spirits longed for him. He was already stepping into the chariot with his right foot, which on this occasion he sprained (as Jacob his thigh), when the phantom of Satan was chased away by the sign of the cross. Perhaps this incident, which the Acta Sanctorum gives, was afterward invented, to account for his sore, and to illustrate the danger of self-conceit. Hence also the pious monk Nilus, with good reason, reminded the ostentatious pillar saints of the proverb: "He that exalteth himself shall be abased."332

Of the later stylites the most distinguished were Daniel († 490), in the vicinity of Constantinople, and Symeon the younger († 592), in Syria. The latter is said to have spent sixty-eight years on a pillar. In the East this form of sanctity perpetuated itself, though only in exceptional cases, down to the twelfth century. The West, so far as we know, affords but one example of a stylite, who, according to Gregory of Tours, lived a long time on a pillar near Treves, but came down at the command of the bishop, and entered a neighboring cloister.


 § 38. Pachomius and the Cloister life.


On St. Pachomius we have a biography composed soon after his death by a monk of Tabennae, and scattered accounts in Palladius, Jerome (Regula Pachomii, Latine reddita, Opp. Hieron. ed. Vallarsi, tom. ii. p. 50 sqq.), Rufinus, Sozomen, &c. Comp. Tillemont, tom. vii. p. 167–235, and the Vit. Sanct. sub Maj. 14.


Though the strictly solitary life long continued in use, and to this day appears here and there in the Greek and Roman churches, yet from the middle of the fourth century monasticism began to assume in general the form of the cloister life, as incurring less risk, being available for both sexes, and being profitable to the church. Anthony himself gave warning, as we have already observed, against the danger of entire isolation, by referring to the proverb: "Woe to him that is alone."  To many of the most eminent ascetics anchoretism was a stepping stone to the coenobite life; to others it was the goal of coenobitism, and the last and highest round on the ladder of perfection.

The founder of this social monachism was Pachomius, a contemporary of Anthony, like him an Egyptian, and little below him in renown among the ancients. He was born about 292, of heathen parents, in the Upper Thebaid, served as a soldier in the army of the tyrant Maximin on the expedition against Constantine and Licinius, and was, with his comrades, so kindly treated by the Christians at Thebes, that he was won to the Christian faith, and, after his discharge from the military service, received baptism. Then, in 313, he visited the aged hermit Palemon, to learn from him the way to perfection. The saint showed him the difficulties of the anchorite life: "Many," said he, "have come hither from disgust with the world, and had no perseverance. Remember, my son, my food consists only of bread and salt; I drink no wine, take no oil, spend half the night awake, singing psalms and meditating on the Scriptures, and sometimes pass the whole night without sleep."  Pachomius was astounded, but not discouraged, and spent several years with this man as a pupil.

In the year 325 he was directed by an angel, in a vision, to establish on the island of Tabennae, in the Nile, in Upper Egypt, a society of monks, which in a short time became so strong that even before his death (348) it numbered eight or nine cloisters in the Thebaid, and three thousand (according to some, seven thousand), and, a century later, fifty thousand members. The mode of life was fixed by a strict rule of Pachomius, which, according to a later legend, an angel communicated to him, and which Jerome translated into Latin. The formal reception into the society was preceded by a three-years’ probation. Rigid vows were not yet enjoined. With spiritual exercises manual labor was united, agriculture, boat building, basketmaking, mat and coverlet weaving, by which the monks not only earned their own living, but also supported the poor and the sick. They were divided, according to the grade of their ascetic piety, into four and twenty classes, named by the letters of the Greek alphabet. They lived three in a cell. They ate in common, but in strict silence, and with the face covered. They made known their wants by signs. The sick were treated with special care. On Saturday and Sunday they partook of the communion. Pachomius, as abbot, or archimandrite, took the oversight of the whole; each cloister having a separate superior and a steward.

Pachomius also established a cloister of nuns for his sister, whom he never admitted to his presence when she would visit him, sending her word that she should be content to know that he was still alive. In like manner, the sister of Anthony and the wife of Ammon became centres of female cloister life, which spread with great rapidity.

Pachomius, after his conversion never ate a full meal, and for fifteen years slept sitting on a stone. Tradition ascribes to him all sorts of miracles, even the gift of tongues and perfect dominion over nature, so that he trod without harm on serpents and scorpions, and crossed the Nile on the backs of crocodiles!333  Soon after Pachomius, fifty monasteries arose on the Nitrian mountain, in no respect inferior to those in the Thebaid. They maintained seven bakeries for the benefit of the anchorets in the neighboring Libyan desert, and gave attention also, at least in later days, to theological studies; as the valuable manuscripts recently discovered there evince.

From Egypt the cloister life spread with the rapidity of the irresistible spirit of the age, over the entire Christian East. The most eminent fathers of the Greek church were either themselves monks for a time, or at all events friends and patrons of monasticism. Ephraim propagated it in Mesopotamia; Eustathius of Sebaste in Armenia and Paphlagonia; Basil the Great in Pontus and Cappadocia. The latter provided his monasteries and nunneries with clergy, and gave them an improved rule, which, before his death (379), was accepted by some eighty thousand monks, and translated by Rufinus into Latin. He sought to unite the virtues of the anchorite and coenobite life, and to make the institution useful to the church by promoting the education of youth, and also (as Athanasius designed before him) by combating Arianism among the people.334  He and his friend Gregory Nazianzen were the first to unite scientific theological studies with the ascetic exercises of solitude. Chrysostom wrote three books in praise and vindication of the monastic life, and exhibits it in general in its noblest aspect.

In the beginning of the fifth century, Eastern monasticism was most worthily represented by the elder Nilus of Sinai, a pupil and venerator of Chrysostom, and a copious ascetic writer, who retired with his son from a high civil office in Constantinople to Mount Sinai, while his wife, with a daughter, travelled to an Egyptian cloister;335 and by the abbot Isidore, of Pelusium, on the principal eastern mouth of the Nile, from whom we have two thousand epistles.336  The writings of these two men show a rich spiritual experience, and an extended and fertile field of labor and usefulness in their age and generation.


 § 39. Fanatical and Heretical Monastic Societies in The East.


Acta Concil. Gangrenensis, in Mansi, ii. 1095 sqq. Epiphan.: Haer. 70, 75 and 80. Socr.: H. E. ii. 43. Sozom.: iv. 24. Theodor.: H. E. iv. 9, 10; Fab. haer. iv. 10, 11. Comp. Neander: iii. p. 468 sqq. (ed. Torrey, ii. 238 sqq.).


Monasticism generally adhered closely to the orthodox faith of the church. The friendship between Athanasius, the father of orthodoxy, and Anthony, the father of monachism, is on this point a classical fact. But Nestorianism also, and Eutychianism, Monophysitism, Pelagianism, and other heresies, proceeded from monks, and found in monks their most vigorous advocates. And the monastic enthusiasm ran also into ascetic heresies of its own, which we must notice here.

1. The Eustathians, so named from Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste and friend of Basil, founder of monasticism in Armenia, Pontus, and Paphlagonia. This sect asserted that marriage debarred from salvation and incapacitated for the clerical office. For this and other extravagances it was condemned by a council at Gangra in Paphlagonia (between 360 and 370), and gradually died out.

2. The Audians held similar principles. Their founder, Audius, or Udo, a layman of Syria, charged the clergy of his day with immorality, especially avarice and extravagance. After much persecution, which he bore patiently, he forsook the church, with his friends, among whom were some bishops and priests, and, about 330, founded a rigid monastic sect in Scythia, which subsisted perhaps a hundred years. They were Quartodecimans in the practice of Easter, observing it on the 14th of Nisan, according to Jewish fashion. Epiphanius speaks favorably of their exemplary but severely ascetic life.

3. The Euchites or Messalians,337 also called Enthusiasts, were roaming mendicant monks in Mesopotamia and Syria (dating from 360), who conceived the Christian life as an unintermitted prayer, despised all physical labor, the moral law, and the sacraments, and boasted themselves perfect. They taught, that every man brings an evil demon with him into the world, which can only be driven away by prayer; then the Holy Ghost comes into the soul, liberates it from all the bonds of sense, and raises it above the need of instruction and the means of grace. The gospel history they declared a mere allegory. But they concealed their pantheistic mysticism and antinomianism under external conformity to the Catholic church. When their principles, toward the end of the fourth century, became known, the persecution of both the ecclesiastical and the civil authority fell upon them. Yet they perpetuated themselves to the seventh century, and reappeared in the Euchites and Bogomiles of the middle age.


 § 40. Monasticism in the West. Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustine, Martin of Tours.


I. Ambrosius: De Virginibus ad Marcellinam sororem suam libri tres, written about 377 (in the Benedictine edition of Ambr. Opera, tom. ii. p. 145–183). Augustinus (a.d. 400): De Opere Monachorum liber unus (in the Bened. ed., tom. vi. p. 476–504). Sulpitius Severus (about a.d. 403): Dialogi tres (de virtutibus monachorum orientalium et de virtutibus B. Martini); and De Vita Beati Martini (both in the Bibliotheca Maxima vet. Patrum, tom. vi. p. 349 sqq., and better in Gallandi’s Bibliotheca vet. Patrum, tom. viii. p. 392 sqq.).

II. J. Mabillon: Observat. de monachis in occidente ante Benedictum (Praef. in Acta Sanct. Ord. Bened.). R. H. Milman: Hist. of Latin Christianity, Lond. 1854, vol. i. ch. vi. p. 409–426: "Western Monasticism."  Count de Montalembert: The Monks of the West, Engl. translation, vol. i. p. 379 sqq.


In the Latin church, in virtue partly of the climate, partly of the national character,338 the monastic life took a much milder form, but assumed greater variety, and found a larger field of usefulness than in the Greek. It produced no pillar saints, nor other such excesses of ascetic heroism, but was more practical instead, and an important instrument for the cultivation of the soil and the diffusion of Christianity and civilization among the barbarians.339  Exclusive contemplation was exchanged for alternate contemplation and labor. "A working monk," says Cassian, "is plagued by one devil, an inactive monk by a host."  Yet it must not be forgotten that the most eminent representatives of the Eastern monasticism recommended manual labor and studies; and that the Eastern monks took a very lively, often rude and stormy part in theological controversies. And on the other hand, there were Western monks who, like Martin of Tours, regarded labor as disturbing contemplation.

Athanasius, the guest, the disciple, and subsequently the biographer and eulogist of St. Anthony, brought the first intelligence of monasticism to the West, and astounded the civilized and effeminate Romans with two live representatives of the semi-barbarous desert-sanctity of Egypt, who accompanied him in his exile in 340. The one, Ammonius, was so abstracted from the world that he disdained to visit any of the wonders of the great city, except the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul; while the other, Isidore, attracted attention by his amiable simplicity. The phenomenon excited at first disgust and contempt, but soon admiration and imitation, especially among women, and among the decimated ranks of the ancient Roman nobility. The impression of the first visit was afterward strengthened by two other visits of Athanasius to Rome, and especially by his biography of Anthony, which immediately acquired the popularity and authority of a monastic gospel. Many went to Egypt and Palestine, to devote themselves there to the new mode of life; and for the sake of such, Jerome afterward translated the rule of Pachomius into Latin. Others founded cloisters in the neighborhood of Rome, or on the ruins of the ancient temples and the forum, and the frugal number of the heathen vestals was soon cast into the shade by whole hosts of Christian virgins. From Rome, monasticism gradually spread over all Italy and the isles of the Mediterranean, even to the rugged rocks of the Gorgon and the Capraja, where the hermits, in voluntary exile from the world, took the place of the criminals and political victims whom the justice or tyranny and jealousy of the emperors had been accustomed to banish thither.

Ambrose, whose sister, Marcellina, was among the first Roman nuns, established a monastery in Milan,340 one of the first in Italy, and with the warmest zeal encouraged celibacy even against the will of parents; insomuch that the mothers of Milan kept their daughters out of the way of his preaching; whilst from other quarters, even from Mauritania, virgins flocked to him to be consecrated to the solitary life.341  The coasts and small islands of Italy were gradually studded with cloisters.342

Augustine, whose evangelical principles of the free grace of God as the only ground of salvation and peace were essentially inconsistent with the more Pelagian theory of the monastic life, nevertheless went with the then reigning spirit of the church in this respect, and led, with his clergy, a monk-like life in voluntary poverty and celibacy,343 after the pattern, as he thought, of the primitive church of Jerusalem; but with all his zealous commendation he could obtain favor for monasticism in North Africa only among the liberated slaves and the lower classes.344  He viewed it in its noblest aspect, as a life of undivided surrender to God, and undisturbed occupation with spiritual and eternal things. But he acknowledged also its abuses; he distinctly condemned the vagrant, begging monks, like the Circumcelliones and Gyrovagi, and wrote a book (De opere monachorum) against the monastic aversion to labor.

Monasticism was planted in Gaul by Martin of Tours, whose life and miracles were described in fluent, pleasing language by his disciple, Sulpitius Severus,345 a few years after his death. This celebrated saint, the patron of fields, was born in Pannonia (Hungary), of pagan parents. He was educated in Italy, and served three years, against his will, as a soldier under Constantius and Julian the Apostate. Even at that time he showed an uncommon degree of temperance, humility, and love. He often cleaned his servant’s shoes, and once cut his only cloak in two with his sword, to clothe a naked beggar with half; and the next night he saw Christ in a dream with the half cloak, and plainly heard him say to the angels: "Behold, Martin, who is yet only a catechumen, hath clothed me."346  He was baptized in his eighteenth year; converted his mother; lived as a hermit in Italy; afterward built a monastery in the vicinity of Poictiers (the first in France); destroyed many idol temples, and won great renown as a saint and a worker of miracles. About the year 370 he was unanimously elected by the people, against his wish, bishop of Tours on the Loire, but in his episcopal office maintained his strict monastic mode of life, and established a monastery beyond the Loire, where he was soon surrounded with eighty monks. He had little education, but a natural eloquence, much spiritual experience, and unwearied zeal. Sulpitius Severus places him above all the Eastern monks of whom he knew, and declares his merit to be beyond all expression. "Not an hour passed," says he,347 "in which Martin did not pray .... No one ever saw him angry, or gloomy, or merry. Ever the same, with a countenance full of heavenly serenity, he seemed to be raised above the infirmities of man. There was nothing in his mouth but Christ; nothing in his heart but piety, peace, and sympathy. He used to weep for the sins of his enemies, who reviled him with poisoned tongues when he was absent and did them no harm .... Yet he had very few persecutors, except among the bishops."  The biographer ascribes to him wondrous conflicts with the devil, whom he imagined he saw bodily and tangibly present in all possible shapes. He tells also of visions, miraculous cures, and even, what no oriental anchoret could boast, three instances of restoration of the dead to life, two before and one after his accession to the bishopric;348 and he assures us that he has omitted the greater part of the miracles which had come to his ears, lest he should weary the reader; but he several times intimates that these were by no means universally credited, even by monks of the same cloister. His piety was characterized by a union of monastic humility with clerical arrogance. At a supper at the court of the tyrannical emperor Maximus in Trier, he handed the goblet of wine, after he himself had drunk of it, first to his presbyter, thus giving him precedence of the emperor.349  The empress on this occasion showed him an idolatrous veneration, even preparing the meal, laying the cloth, and standing as a servant before him, like Martha before the Lord.350  More to the bishop’s honor was his protest against the execution of the Priscillianists in Treves. Martin died in 397 or 400: his funeral was attended by two thousand monks, besides many nuns and a great multitude of people; and his grave became one of the most frequented centres of pilgrimage in France.

 In Southern Gaul, monasticism spread with equal rapidity. John Cassian, an ascetic writer and a Semipelagian († 432), founded two cloisters in Massilia (Marseilles), where literary studies also were carried on; and Honoratus (after 426, bishop of Arles) established the cloister of St. Honoratus on the island of Lerina.


 § 41. St. Jerome as a Monk.


S. Eus. Hieronymi: Opera omnia, ed. Erasmus (assisted by Oecolampadius), Bas. 1516–’20, 9 vols. fol.; ed. (Bened.) Martianay, Par. 1693–1706, 5 vols. fol. (incomplete); ed. Vallarsi and Maffei, Veron. 1734–’42, 11 vols. fol., also Venet. 1766 (best edition). Comp. especially the 150 Epistles, often separately edited (the chronological order of which Vallarsi, in tom. i. of his edition, has finally established).

For extended works on the life of Jerome see Du Pin (Nouvelle Biblioth. des auteurs Eccles. tom. iii. p. 100–140); Tillemont (tom. xii. 1–356); Martianay (La vie de St. Jerôme, Par. 1706); Joh. Stilting (in the Acta Sanctorum, Sept. tom. viii. p. 418–688, Antw. 1762); Butler (sub Sept. 30); Vallarsi (in Op. Hieron., tom. xi. p. 1–240); Schröckh (viii. 359 sqq., and especially xi. 3–254); Engelstoft (Hieron. Stridonensis, interpres, criticus, exegeta, apologeta, historicus, doctor, monachus, Havn. 1798); D. v. Cölln (in Ersch and Gruber’s Encycl. sect. ii. vol. 8); Collombet (Histoire de S. Jérôme, Lyons, 1844); and O. Zöckler (Hieronymus, sein Leben und Wirken. Gotha, 1865).


The most zealous promoter of the monastic life among the church fathers was Jerome, the connecting link between Eastern and Western learning and religion. His life belongs almost with equal right to the history of theology and the history of monasticism. Hence the church art generally represents him as a penitent in a reading or writing posture, with a lion and a skull, to denote the union of the literary and anchoretic modes of life. He was the first learned divine who not only recommended but actually embraced the monastic mode of life, and his example exerted a great influence in making monasticism available for the promotion of learning. To rare talents and attainments,351 indefatigable activity of mind, ardent faith, immortal merit in the translation and interpretation of the Bible, and earnest zeal for ascetic piety, he united so great vanity and ambition, such irritability and bitterness of temper, such vehemence of uncontrolled passion, such an intolerant and persecuting spirit, and such inconstancy of conduct, that we find ourselves alternately attracted and repelled by his character, and now filled with admiration for his greatness, now with contempt or pity for his weakness.

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus was born at Stridon,352 on the borders of Dalmatia, not far from Aquileia, between the years 331 and 342.353  He was the son of wealthy Christian parents, and was educated in Rome under the direction of the celebrated heathen grammarian Donatus, and the rhetorician Victorinus. He read with great diligence and profit the classic poets, orators, and philosophers, and collected a considerable library. On Sundays he visited, with Bonosus and other young friends, the subterranean graves of the martyrs, which made an indelible impression upon him. Yet he was not exempt from the temptations of a great and corrupt city, and he lost his chastity, as he himself afterward repeatedly acknowledged with pain.

About the year 370, whether before or after his literary tour to Treves and Aquileia is uncertain, but at all events in his later youth, he received baptism at Rome and resolved thenceforth to devote himself wholly, in rigid abstinence, to the service of the Lord. In the first zeal of his conversion he renounced his love for the classics, and applied himself to the study of the hitherto distasteful Bible. In a morbid ascetic frame, he had, a few years later, that celebrated dream, in which he was summoned before the judgment seat of Christ, and as a heathen Ciceronian,354 so severely reprimanded and scourged, that even the angels interceded for him from sympathy with his youth, and he himself solemnly vowed never again to take worldly books into his hands. When he woke, he still felt the stripes, which, as he thought, not his heated fancy, but the Lord himself had inflicted upon him. Hence he warns his female friend Eustochium, to whom several years afterward (a.d. 384) he recounted this experience, to avoid all profane reading: "What have light and darkness, Christ and Belial (2 Cor. vi. 14), the Psalms and Horace, the Gospels and Virgil, the Apostles and Cicero, to do with one another? ... We cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of the demons at the same time."355  But proper as this warning may be against overrating classical scholarship, Jerome himself, in his version of the Bible and his commentaries, affords the best evidence of the inestimable value of linguistic and antiquarian knowledge, when devoted to the service of religion. That oath, also, at least in later life, he did not strictly keep. On the contrary, he made the monks copy the dialogues of Cicero, and explained Virgil at Bethlehem, and his writings abound in recollections and quotations of the classic authors. When Rufinus of Aquileia, at first his warm friend, but afterward a bitter enemy, cast up to him this inconsistency and breach of a solemn vow, he resorted to the evasion that he could not obliterate from his memory what he had formerly read; as if it were not so sinful to cite a heathen author as to read him. With more reason he asserted, that all was a mere dream, and a dream vow was not binding. He referred him to the prophets, "who teach that dreams are vain, and not worthy of faith."  Yet was this dream afterward made frequent use of, as Erasmus laments, to cover monastic obscurantism.

After his baptism, Jerome divided his life between the East and the West, between ascetic discipline and literary labor. He removed from Rome to Antioch with a few friends and his library, visited the most celebrated anchorets, attended the exegetical lectures of the younger Apollinaris in Antioch, and then (374) spent some time as an ascetic in the dreary Syrian desert of Chalcis. Here, like so many other hermits, he underwent a grevious struggle with sensuality, which he described ten years after with indelicate minuteness in a long letter to his virgin friend Eustochium.356  In spite of his starved and emaciated body, his fancy tormented him with wild images of Roman banquets and dances of women; showing that the monastic seclusion from the world was by no means proof against the temptations of the flesh and the devil. Helpless he cast himself at the feet of Jesus, wet them with tears of repentance, and subdued the resisting flesh by a week of fasting and by the dry study of Hebrew grammar (which, according to a letter to Rusticus,357 he was at that time learning from a converted Jew), until he found peace, and thought himself transported to the choirs of the angels in heaven. In this period probably falls the dream mentioned above, and the composition of several ascetic writings, full of heated eulogy of the monastic life.358  His biographies of distinguished anchorets, however, are very pleasantly and temperately written.359  He commends monastic seclusion even against the will of parents; interpreting the word of the Lord about forsaking father and mother, as if monasticism and Christianity were the same. "Though thy mother"—he writes, in 373, to his friend Heliodorus, who had left him in the midst of his journey to the Syrian desert—"with flowing hair and rent garments, should show thee the breasts which have nourished thee; though thy father should lie upon the threshold; yet depart thou, treading over thy father, and fly with dry eyes to the standard of the cross. This is the only religion of its kind, in this matter to be cruel .... The love of God and the fear of hell easily, rend the bonds of the household asunder. The holy Scripture indeed enjoins obedience to parents; but he who loves them more than Christ, loses his soul .... O desert, where the flowers of Christ are blooming!. O solitude, where the stones for the new Jerusalem are prepared!  O retreat, which rejoices in the friendship of God!  What doest thou in the world, my brother, with thy soul greater than the world?  How long wilt thou remain in the shadow of roofs, and in the smoky dungeon of cities?  Believe me, I see here more of the light."360  The eloquent appeal, however, failed of the desired effect; Heliodorus entered the teaching order and became a bishop.

The active and restless spirit of Jerome soon brought him again upon the public stage, and involved him in all the doctrinal and ecclesiastical controversies of those controversial times. He received the ordination of presbyter from the bishop Paulinus in Antioch, without taking charge of a congregation. He preferred the itinerant life of a monk and a student to a fixed office, and about 380 journeyed to Constantinople, where he heard the anti-Arian sermons of the celebrated Gregory Nazianzen, and translated the Chronicle of Eusebius and the homilies of Origen on Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In 382, on account of the Meletian schism, he returned to Rome with Paulinus and Epiphanius. Here he came into close connection with the bishop, Damasus, as his theological adviser and ecclesiastical secretary,361 and was led by him into new exegetical labors, particularly the revision of the Latin version of the Bible, which he completed at a later day in the East.

At the same time he labored in Rome with the greatest zeal, by mouth and pen, in the cause of monasticism, which had hitherto gained very little foothold there, and met with violent opposition even among the clergy. He had his eye mainly upon the most wealthy and honorable classes of the decayed Roman society, and tried to induce the descendants of the Scipios, the Gracchi, the Marcelli, the Camilli, the Anicii to turn their sumptuous villas into monastic retreats, and to lead a life of self-sacrifice and charity. He met with great success. "The old patrician races, which founded Rome, which had governed her during all her period of splendor and liberty, and which overcame and conquered the world, had expiated for four centuries, under the atrocious yoke of the Caesars, all that was most hard and selfish in the glory of their fathers. Cruelly humiliated, disgraced, and decimated during that long servitude, by the masters whom degenerate Rome had given herself, they found at last in Christian life, such as was practised by the monks, the dignity of sacrifice and the emancipation of the soul. These sons of the old Romans threw themselves into it with the magnanimous fire and persevering energy which had gained for their ancestors the empire of the world. ’Formerly,’ says St. Jerome, ’according to the testimony of the apostles, there were few rich, few noble, few powerful among the Christians. Now it is no longer so. Not only among the Christians, but among the monks are to be found a multitude of the wise, the noble, and the rich.’... The monastic institution offered them a field of battle where the struggles and victories of their ancestors could be renewed and surpassed for a loftier cause, and over enemies more redoubtable. The great men whose memory hovered still over degenerate Rome had contended only with men, and subjugated only their bodies; their descendants undertook to strive with devils, and to conquer souls .... God called them to be the ancestors of a new people, gave them a new empire to found, and permitted them to bury and transfigure the glory of their forefathers in the bosom of the spiritual regeneration of the world."362

Most of these distinguished patrician converts of Jerome were women—such widows as Marcella, Albinia, Furia, Salvina, Fabiola, Melania, and the most illustrious of all, Paula, and her family; or virgins, as Eustochium, Apella, Marcellina, Asella, Felicitas, and Demetrias. He gathered them as a select circle around him; he expounded to them the Holy Scriptures, in which some of these Roman ladies were very well read; he answered their questions of conscience; he incited them to celibate life, lavish beneficence, and enthusiastic asceticism; and flattered their spiritual vanity by extravagant praises. He was the oracle, biographer, admirer, and eulogist of these holy women, who constituted the spiritual nobility of Catholic Rome. Even the senator Pammachius, son in-law to Paula and heir to her fortune, gave his goods to the poor, exchanged the purple for the cowl, exposed himself to the mockery of his colleagues, and became, in the flattering language of Jerome, the general in chief of Roman monks, the first of monks in the first of cities.363  Jerome considered second marriage incompatible with genuine holiness; even depreciated first marriage, except so far as it was a nursery of brides of Christ; warned Eustochium against all intercourse with married women; and hesitated not to call the mother of a bride of Christ, like Paula, a "mother-in-law of God."364

His intimacy with these distinguished women, whom he admired more, perhaps, than they admired him, together with his unsparing attacks upon the immoralities of the Roman clergy and of the higher classes, drew upon him much unjust censure and groundless calumny, which he met rather with indignant scorn and satire than with quiet dignity and Christian meekness. After the death of his patron Damasus, a.d. 384, he left Rome, and in August, 385, with his brother Paulinian, a few monks, Paula, and her daughter Eustochium, made a pilgrimage "from Babylon to Jerusalem, that not Nebuchadnezzar, but Jesus, should reign over him."  With religious devotion and inquiring mind he wandered through the holy places of Palestine, spent some time in Alexandria, where he heard the lectures of the celebrated Didymus; visited the cells of the Nitrian mountain; and finally, with his two female friends, in 386, settled in the birthplace of the Redeemer, to lament there, as he says, the sins of his youth, and to secure himself against others.

In Bethlehem he presided over a monastery till his death, built a hospital for all strangers except heretics, prosecuted his literary studies without cessation, wrote several commentaries, and finished his improved Latin version of the Bible—the noblest monument of his life—but entangled himself in violent literary controversies, not only with opponents of the church orthodoxy like Helvidius (against whom he had appeared before, in 384), Jovinian, Vigilantius, and Pelagius, but also with his long-tried friend Rufinus, and even with Augustine.365  Palladius says, his jealousy could tolerate no saint beside himself, and drove many pious monks away from Bethlehem. He complained of the crowds of monks whom his fame attracted to Bethlehem.366  The remains of the Roman nobility, too, ruined by the sack of Rome, fled to him for food and shelter. At the last his repose was disturbed by incursions of the barbarian Huns and the heretical Pelagians. He died in 419 or 420, of fever, at a great age. His remains were afterward brought to the Roman basilica of Maria Maggiore, but were exhibited also and superstitiously venerated in several copies in Florence, Prague, Clugny, Paris, and the Escurial.367

The Roman church has long since assigned him one of the first places among her standard teachers and canonical saints. Yet even some impartial Catholic historians venture to admit and disapprove his glaring inconsistencies and violent passions. The Protestant love of truth inclines to the judgment, that Jerome was indeed an accomplished and most serviceable scholar and a zealous enthusiast for all which his age counted holy, but lacking in calm self-control and proper depth of mind and character, and that he reflected, with the virtues, the failings also of his age and of the monastic system. It must be said to his credit, however, that with all his enthusiastic zeal and admiration for monasticism, he saw with a keen eye and exposed with unsparing hand the false monks and nuns, and painted in lively colors the dangers of melancholy, hypochondria, the hypocrisy and spiritual pride, to which the institution was exposed.368


 § 42. St. Paula.


Hieronymus: Epitaphium Paulae matris, ad Eustochium virginem, Ep. cviii. (ed. Vallarsi, Opera, tom. i. p. 684 sqq.; ed. Bened. Ep. lxxxvi). Also the Acta Sanctorum, and Butler’s Lives of Saints, sub Jan. 26.


Of Jerome’s many female disciples, the most distinguished is St. Paula, the model of a Roman Catholic nun. With his accustomed extravagance, he opens his eulogy after her death, in. 404, with these words: "If all the members of my body were turned into tongues, and all my joints were to utter human voices, I should be unable to say anything worthy of the holy and venerable Paula."

She was born in 347, of the renowned stock of the Scipios and Gracchi and Paulus Aemilius,369 and was already a widow of six and thirty years, and the mother of five children, when, under the influence of Jerome, she renounced all the wealth and honors of the world, and betook herself to the most rigorous ascetic life. Rumor circulated suspicion, which her spiritual guide, however, in a letter to Asella, answered with indignant rhetoric: "Was there, then, no other matron in Rome, who could have conquered my heart, but that one, who was always mourning and fasting, who abounded in dirt,370 who had become almost blind with weeping, who spent whole nights in prayer, whose song was the Psalms, whose conversation was the gospel, whose joy was abstemiousness, whose life was fasting?  Could no other have pleased me, but that one, whom I have never seen eat?  Nay, verily, after I had begun to revere her as her chastity deserved, should all virtues have at once forsaken me?"  He afterward boasts of her, that she knew the Scriptures almost entirely by memory; she even learned Hebrew, that she might sing the psalter with him in the original; and continually addressed exegetical questions to him, which he himself could answer only in part.

Repressing the sacred feelings of a mother, she left her daughter Ruffina and her little son Toxotius, in spite of their prayers and tears, in the city, of Rome,371 met Jerome in Antioch, and made a pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt. With glowing devotion, she knelt before the rediscovered cross, as if the Lord were still hanging upon it; she kissed the stone of the resurrection which the angel rolled away; licked with thirsty tongue the pretended tomb of Jesus, and shed tears of joy as she entered the stable and beheld the manger of Bethlehem. In Egypt she penetrated into the desert of Nitria, prostrated herself at the feet of the hermits, and then returned to the holy land and settled permanently in the birthplace of the Saviour. She founded there a monastery for Jerome, whom she supported, and three nunneries, in which she spent twenty years as abbess, until 404.

She denied herself flesh and wine, performed, with her daughter Eustochium, the meanest services, and even in sickness slept on the bare ground in a hair shirt, or spent the whole night in prayer. "I must," said she, "disfigure my face, which I have often, against the command of God, adorned with paint; torment the body, which has participated in many idolatries; and atone for long laughing by constant weeping."  Her liberality knew no bounds. She wished to die in beggary, and to be buried in a shroud which did not belong to her. She left to her daughter (she died in 419) a multitude of debts, which she had contracted at a high rate of interest for benevolent purposes.372

 Her obsequies, which lasted a week, were attended by the bishops of Jerusalem and other cities of Palestine, besides clergy, monks, nuns, and laymen innumerable. Jerome apostrophizes her: "Farewell, Paula, and help with prayer the old age of thy adorer!"


 § 43. Benedict of Nursia.


Gregorius M.: Dialogorum, l. iv. (composed about 594; lib. ii. contains the biography of St. Benedict according to the communications of four abbots and disciples of the saint, Constantine, Honoratus, Valentinian, and Simplicius, but full of surprising miracles). Mabillon and other writers of the Benedictine congregation of St. Maurus: Acta Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti in saeculorum classes distributa, fol. Par. 1668–1701, 9 vols. (to the year 1100), and Annales ordinis S. Bened. Par. 1703–’39, 6 vols. fol. (to 1157). Dom (Domnus) Jos. De Mège: Vie de St. Benoit, Par. 1690. The Acta Sanctorum, and Butler, sub Mart. 21. Montalembert: The Monks of the West, vol. ii. book iv.


Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the celebrated order which bears his name, gave to the Western monasticism a fixed and permanent form, and thus carried it far above the Eastern with its imperfect attempts at organization, and made it exceedingly profitable to the practical, and, incidentally, also to the literary interests of the Catholic Church. He holds, therefore, the dignity of patriarch of the Western monks. He has furnished a remarkable instance of the incalculable influence which a simple but judicious moral rule of life may exercise on many centuries.

Benedict was born of the illustrious house of Anicius, at Nursia (now Norcia) in Umbria, about the year 480, at the time when the political and social state of Europe was distracted and dismembered, and literature, morals, and religion seemed to be doomed to irremediable ruin. He studied in Rome, but so early as his fifteenth year he fled from the corrupt society of his fellow students, and spent three years in seclusion in a dark, narrow, and inaccessible grotto at Subiaco.373  A neighboring monk, Romanus, furnished him from time to time his scanty food, letting it down by a cord, with a little bell, the sound of which announced to him the loaf of bread. He there passed through the usual anchoretic battles with demons, and by prayer and ascetic exercises attained a rare power over nature. At one time, Pope Gregory tells us, the allurements of voluptuousness so strongly tempted his imagination that he was on the point of leaving his retreat in pursuit of a beautiful woman of previous acquaintance; but summoning up his courage, he took off his vestment of skins and rolled himself naked on thorns and briers, near his cave, until the impure fire of sensual passion was forever extinguished. Seven centuries later, St. Francis of Assisi planted on that spiritual battle field two rose trees, which grew and survived the Benedictine thorns and briers. He gradually became known, and was at first taken for a wild beast by the surrounding shepherds, but afterward reverenced as a saint.

After this period of hermit life he began his labors in behalf of the monastery proper. In that mountainous region he established in succession twelve cloisters, each with twelve monks and a superior, himself holding the oversight of all. The persecution of an unworthy priest caused him, however, to leave Subiaco and retire to a wild but picturesque mountain district in the Neapolitan province, upon the boundaries of Samnium and Campania. There he destroyed the remnants of idolatry, converted many of the pagan inhabitants to Christianity by his preaching and miracles, and in the year 529, under many difficulties, founded upon the ruins of a temple of Apollo the renowned cloister of Monte Cassino,374 the alma mater and capital of his order. Here he labored fourteen years, till his death. Although never ordained to the priesthood, his life there was rather that of a missionary and apostle than of a solitary. He cultivated the soil, fed the poor, healed the sick, preached to the neighboring population, directed the young monks, who in increasing numbers flocked to him, and organized the monastic life upon a fixed method or rule, which he himself conscientiously observed. His power over the hearts, and the veneration in which he was held, is illustrated by the visit of Totila, in 542, the barbarian king, the victor of the Romans and master of Italy, who threw himself on his face before the saint, accepted his reproof and exhortations, asked his blessing, and left a better man, but fell after ten years’ reign, as Benedict had predicted, in a great battle with the Graeco-Roman army under Narses. Benedict died, after partaking of the holy communion, praying, in standing posture, at the foot of the altar, on the 21st of March, 543, and was buried by the side of his sister, Scholastica, who had established, a nunnery near Monte Cassino and died a few weeks before him. They met only once a year, on the side of the mountain, for prayer and pious conversation. On the day of his departure, two monks saw in a vision a shining pathway of stars leading from Monte Cassino to heaven, and heard a voice, that by this road Benedict, the well beloved of God, had ascended to heaven.

His credulous biographer, Pope Gregory I., in the second book of his Dialogues, ascribes to him miraculous prophecies and healings, and even a raising of the dead.375  With reference to his want of secular culture and his spiritual knowledge, he calls him a learned ignorant and an unlettered sage.376  At all events he possessed the genius of a lawgiver, and holds the first place among the founders of monastic orders, though his person and life are much less interesting than those of a Bernard of Clairvaux, a Francis of Assisi, and an Ignatius of Loyola.377


 § 44. The Rule of St. Benedict.


The Regula Benedicti has been frequently edited and annotated, best by Holstenius: Codex reg. Monast. tom. i. p. 111–135; by Dom Marténe: Commentarius in regulam S. Benedicti literalis, moralis, historicus, Par. 1690, in 4to.; by Dom Calmet, Par. 1734, 2 vols.; and by Dom Charles Brandes (Benedictine of Einsiedeln), in 3 vols., Einsiedeln and New York, 1857. Gieseler gives the most important articles in his Ch. H. Bd. i. AbtheiI. 2, § 119. Comp. also Montalembert, l.c. ii. 39 sqq.


The rule of St. Benedict, on which his fame rests, forms an epoch in the history of monasticism. In a short time it superseded all contemporary and older rules of the kind, and became the immortal code of the most illustrious branch of the monastic army, and the basis of the whole Roman Catholic cloister life.378  It consists of a preface or prologue, and a series of moral, social, liturgical, and penal ordinances, in seventy-three chapters. It shows a true knowledge of human nature, the practical wisdom of Rome, and adaptation to Western customs; it combines simplicity with completeness, strictness with gentleness, humility with courage, and gives the whole cloister life a fixed unity and compact organization, which, like the episcopate, possessed an unlimited versatility and power of expansion. It made every cloister an ecclesiola in ecclesia, reflecting the relation of the bishop to his charge, the monarchical principle of authority on the democratic basis of the equality of the brethren, though claiming a higher degree of perfection than could be realized in the great secular church. For the rude and undisciplined world of the middle age, the Benedictine rule furnished a wholesome course of training and a constant stimulus to the obedience, self-control, order, and industry which were indispensable to the regeneration and healthy growth of social life.379

The spirit of the rule may be judged from the following sentences of the prologus, which contains pious exhortations: "Having thus," he says, "my brethren, asked of the Lord who shall dwell in his tabernacle, we have heard the precepts prescribed to such a one. If we fulfil these conditions, we shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Let us then prepare our hearts and bodies to fight under a holy obedience to these precepts; and if it is not always possible for nature to obey, let us ask the Lord that he would deign to give us the succor of his grace. Would we avoid the pains of hell and attain eternal life, while there is still time, while we are still in this mortal body, and while the light of this life is bestowed upon us for that purpose, let us run and strive so as to reap an eternal reward. We must then form a school of divine servitude, in which, we trust, nothing too heavy or rigorous will be established. But if, in conformity with right and justice, we should exercise a little severity for the amendment of vices or the preservation of charity, beware of fleeing under the impulse of terror from the way of salvation, which cannot but have a hard beginning. When a man has walked for some time in obedience and faith, his heart will expand, and he will run with the unspeakable sweetness of love in the way of God’s commandments. May he grant that, never straying from the instruction of the Master, and persevering in his doctrine in the monastery until death, we may share by patience in the sufferings of Christ, and be worthy to share together his kingdom."380  The leading provisions of this rule are as follows:

At the head of each society stands an abbot, who is elected by the monks, and, with their consent, appoints a provost (praepositus), and, when the number of the brethren requires, deans over the several divisions (decaniae), as assistants. He governs, in Christ’s stead, by authority and example, and is to his cloister, what the bishop is to his diocese. In the more weighty matters he takes the congregation of the brethren into consultation; in ordinary affairs only the older members. The formal entrance into the cloister must be preceded by a probation of novitiate of one year (subsequently it was made three years), that no one might prematurely or rashly take the solemn step. If the novice repented his resolution, he could leave the cloister without hindrance; if he adhered to it, he was, at the close of his probation, subjected to an examination in presence of the abbot and the monks, and then, appealing to the saints, whose relics were in the cloister, he laid upon the altar of the chapel the irrevocable vow, written or at least subscribed by his own hand, and therewith cut off from himself forever all return to the world.

From this important arrangement the cloister received its stability and the whole monastic institution derived additional earnestness, solidity, and permanence.

The vow was threefold, comprising stabilitas, perpetual adherence to the monastic order; conversio morum, especially voluntary poverty and chastity, which were always regarded as the very essence of monastic piety under all its forms; and obedientia coram Deo et sanctis ejus, absolute obedience to the abbot, as the representative of God and Christ. This obedience is the cardinal virtue of a monk.381

The life of the cloister consisted of a judicious alternation of spiritual and bodily exercises. This is the great excellence of the rule of Benedict, who proceeded here upon the true principle, that idleness is the mortal enemy of the soul and the workshop of the devil.382  Seven hours were to be devoted to prayer, singing of psalms, and meditation;383 from two to three hours, especially on Sunday, to religious reading; and from six to seven hours to manual labor in doors or in the field, or, instead of this, to the training of children, who were committed to the cloister by their parents (oblati).384

Here was a starting point for the afterward celebrated cloister schools, and for that attention to literary pursuits, which, though entirely foreign to the uneducated Benedict and his immediate successors, afterward became one of the chief ornaments of his order, and in many cloisters took the place of manual labor.

In other respects the mode of life was to be simple, without extreme rigor, and confined to strictly necessary things. Clothing consisted of a tunic with a black cowl (whence the name: Black Friars); the material to be determined by the climate and season. On the two weekly fast days, and from the middle of September to Easter, one meal was to suffice for the day. Each monk is allowed daily a pound of bread and pulse, and, according to the Italian custom, half a flagon (hemina) of wine; though he is advised to abstain from the wine, if he can do so without injury to his health. Flesh is permitted only to the weak and sick,385 who were to be treated with special care. During the meal some edifying piece was read, and silence enjoined. The individual monk knows no personal property, not even his simple dress as such; and the fruits of his labor go into the common treasury. He should avoid all contact with the world, as dangerous to the soul, and therefore every cloister should be so arranged, as to be able to carry on even the arts and trades necessary for supplying its wants.386  Hospitality and other works of love are especially commended.

The penalties for transgression of the rule are, first, private admonition, then exclusion from the fellowship of prayer, next exclusion from fraternal intercourse, and finally expulsion from the cloister, after which, however, restoration is possible, even to the third time.


 § 45. The Benedictines. Cassiodorus.


Benedict had no presentiment of the vast historical importance, which this rule, originally designed simply for the cloister of Monte Cassino, was destined to attain. He probably never aspired beyond the regeneration and salvation of his own soul and that of his brother monks, and all the talk of later Catholic historians about his far-reaching plans of a political and social regeneration of Europe, and the preservation and promotion of literature and art, find no support whatever in his life or in his rule. But he humbly planted a seed, which Providence blessed a hundredfold. By his rule he became, without his own will or knowledge, the founder of an order, which, until in the thirteenth century the Dominicans and Franciscans pressed it partially into the background, spread with great rapidity over the whole of Europe, maintained a clear supremacy, formed the model for all other monastic orders, and gave to the Catholic church an imposing array of missionaries, authors, artists, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes, as Gregory the Great and Gregory VII. In less than a century after the death of Benedict, the conquests of the barbarians in Italy, Gaul, Spain were reconquered for civilization, and the vast territories of Great Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia incorporated into Christendom, or opened to missionary labor; and in this progress of history the monastic institution, regulated and organized by Benedict’s rule, bears an honorable share.

Benedict himself established a second cloister in the vicinity of Terracina, and two of his favorite disciples, Placidus and St. Maurus,387 introduced the "holy rule," the one into Sicily, the other into France. Pope Gregory the Great, himself at one time a Benedictine monk, enhanced its prestige, and converted the Anglo-Saxons to the Roman Christian faith, by Benedictine monks. Gradually the rule found so general acceptance both in old and in new institutions, that in the time of Charlemagne it became a question, whether there were any monks at all, who were not Benedictines. The order, it is true, has degenerated from time to time, through the increase of its wealth and the decay of its discipline, but its fostering care of religion, of humane studies, and of the general civilization of Europe, from the tilling of the soil to the noblest learning, has given it an honorable place in history and won immortal praise. He who is familiar with the imposing and venerable tomes of the Benedictine editions of the Fathers, their thoroughly learned prefaces, biographies, antiquarian dissertations, and indexes, can never think of the order of the Benedictines without sincere regard and gratitude.

The patronage of learning, however, as we have already said, was not within the design of the founder or his rule. The joining of this to the cloister life is duel if we leave out of view the learned monk Jerome, to Cassiodorus, who in 538 retired from the honors and cares of high civil office, in the Gothic monarchy of Italy,388 to a monastery founded by himself at Vivarium389 (Viviers), in Calabria in Lower Italy. Here he spent nearly thirty years as monk and abbot, collected a large library, encouraged the monks to copy and to study the Holy Scriptures, the works of the church fathers, and even the ancient classics, and wrote for them several literary and theological text-books, especially his treatise De institutione divinarum literarum, a kind of elementary encyclopaedia, which was the code of monastic education for many generations. Vivarium at one time almost rivalled Monte Cassino, and Cassiodorus won the honorary title of the restorer of knowledge in the sixth century.390

The Benedictines, already accustomed to regular work, soon followed this example. Thus that very mode of life, which in its founder, Anthony, despised all learning, became in the course of its development an asylum of culture in the rough and stormy times of the migration and the crusades, and a conservator of the literary treasures of antiquity for the use of modern times.


 § 46. Opposition to Monasticism. Jovinian.


I. Chrysostomus: Pro;" tou;" polemou'vta" toi'" ejpi; to; monavzein ejnavgousin (a vindication of monasticism against its opponents, in three books). Hieronymus: Ep. 61, ad Vigilantium (ed. Vallars. tom. i. p. 345 sqq.); Ep. 109, ad Riparium (i. 719 sqq.); Adv. Helvidium (a.d. 383); Adv. Jovinianum (a.d. 392); Adv. Vigilantium (a.d. 406). All these three tracts are in Opera Hieron. tom. ii. p. 206–402. Augustinus: De haeres. cap. 82 (on Jovinian), and c. 84 (on Helvidius and the Helvidians). Epiphanius: Haeres. 75 (on Aerius).

II. Chr. W. F. Walch: Ketzerhistorie (1766), part iii. p. 585 (on Helvidius and the Antidikomarianites); p. 635 sqq. (on Jovinian); and p. 673 sqq. (on Vigilantius). Vogel: De Vigilantio haeretico orthodoxo, Gött. 1756. G. B. Lindner: De Joviniano et Vigilantio purioris doctrinae antesignanis, Lips. 1839. W. S. Gilly: Vigilantius and his Times, Lond. 1844. Comp. also Neander: Der heil. Joh. Chrysostomus, 3d ed. 1848, vol. i. p. 53 sqq.; and Kirchengesch, iii. p. 508 sqq. (Torrey’s translation, ii. p. 265 sqq.). Baur: Die christliche Kirche von 4–6ten Jahrh. 1859, p. 311 sqq.


Although monasticism was a mighty movement of the age, engaging either the cooperation or the admiration of the whole church, yet it was not exempt from opposition. And opposition sprang from very different quarters: now from zealous defenders of heathenism, like Julian and Libanius, who hated and bitterly reviled the monks for their fanatical opposition to temples and idol-worship; now from Christian statesmen and emperors, like Valens, who were enlisted against it by its withdrawing so much force from the civil and military service of the state, and, in the time of peril from the barbarians, encouraging idleness and passive contemplation instead of active, heroic virtue; now from friends of worldly indulgence, who found themselves unpleasantly disturbed and rebuked by the religious earnestness and zeal of the ascetic life; lastly, however, also from a liberal, almost protestant, conception of Christian morality, which set itself at the same time against the worship of Mary and the saints, and other abuses. This last form of opposition, however, existed mostly in isolated cases, was rather negative than positive in its character, lacked the spirit of wisdom and moderation, and hence almost entirely disappeared in the fifth century, only to be revived long after, in more mature and comprehensive form, when monasticism had fulfilled its mission for the world.

To this class of opponents belong Helvidius, Jovinian, Vigilantius, and Aerius. The first three are known to us through the passionate replies of Jerome, the last through the Panarion of Epiphanius. They figure in Catholic church history among the heretics, while they have received from many Protestant historians a place among the "witnesses of the truth" and the forerunners of the Reformation.

We begin with Jovinian, the most important among them, who is sometimes compared, for instance, even by Neander, to Luther, because, like Luther, he was carried by his own experience into reaction against the ascetic tendency and the doctrines connected with it. He wrote in Rome, before the year 390 a work, now lost, attacking monasticism in its ethical principles. He was at that time himself a monk, and probably remained so in a free way until his death. At all events he never married, and according to Augustine’s account, he abstained "for the present distress,"391 and from aversion to the encumbrances of the married state. Jerome pressed him with the alternative of marrying and proving the equality of celibacy with married life, or giving up his opposition to his own condition.392  Jerome gives a very unfavorable picture of his character, evidently colored by vehement bitterness. He calls Jovinian a servant of corruption, a barbarous writer, a Christian Epicurean, who, after having once lived in strict asceticism, now preferred earth to heaven, vice to virtue, his belly to Christ, and always strode along as an elegantly dressed bridegroom. Augustine is much more lenient, only reproaching Jovinian with having misled many Roman nuns into marriage by holding before them the examples of pious women in the Bible. Jovinian was probably provoked to question and oppose monasticism, as Gieseler supposes, by Jerome’s extravagant praising of it, and by the feeling against it, which the death of Blesilla (384) in Rome confirmed. And he at first found extensive sympathy. But he was excommunicated and banished with his adherents at a council about the year 390, by Siricius, bishop of Rome, who was zealously opposed to the marriage of priests. He then betook himself to Milan, where the two monks Sarmatio and Barbatian held forth views like his own; but he was treated there after the same fashion by the bishop, Ambrose, who held a council against him. From this time he and his party disappear from history, and before the year 406 he died in exile.393

According to Jerome, Jovinian held these four points (1) Virgins, widows, and married persons, who have once been baptized into Christ, have equal merit, other things in their conduct being equal. (2) Those, who are once with full faith born again by baptism, cannot be overcome (subverti) by the devil. (3) There is no difference between abstaining from food and enjoying it with thanksgiving. (4) All, who keep the baptismal covenant, will receive an equal reward in heaven.

He insisted chiefly on the first point; so that Jerome devotes the whole first book of his refutation to this point, while he disposes of all the other heads in the second. In favor of the moral equality of married and single life, he appealed to Gen. ii. 24, where God himself institutes marriage before the fall; to Matt. xix. 5, where Christ sanctions it; to the patriarchs before and after the flood; to Moses and the prophets, Zacharias and Elizabeth, and the apostles, particularly Peter, who lived in wedlock; also to Paul, who himself exhorted to marriage,394 required the bishop or the deacon to be the husband of one wife,395 and advised young widows to marry and bear children.396  He declared the prohibition of marriage and of divinely provided food a Manichaean error. To answer these arguments, Jerome indulges in utterly unwarranted inferences, and speaks of marriage in a tone of contempt, which gave offence even to his friends.397  Augustine was moved by it to present the advantages of the married life in a special work, De bono conjugali, though without yielding the ascetic estimate of celibacy.398

Jovinian’s second point has an apparent affinity with the Augustinian and Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverantia sanctorum. It is not referred by him, however, to the eternal and unchangeable counsel of God, but simply based on 1 Jno. iii. 9, and v. 18, and is connected with his abstract conception of the opposite moral states. He limits the impossibility of relapse to the truly regenerate, who "plena fide in baptismate renati sunt," and makes a distinction between the mere baptism of water and the baptism of the Spirit, which involves also a distinction between the actual and the ideal church.

His third point is aimed against the ascetic exaltation of fasting, with reference to Rom. xiv. 20, and 1 Tim. iv. 3. God, he holds, has created all animals for the service of man; Christ attended the marriage feast at Cana as a guest, sat at table with Zaccheus, with publicans and sinners, and was called by the Pharisees a glutton and a wine-bibber; and the apostle says: To the pure all things are pure, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.

He went still further, however, and, with the Stoics, denied all gradations of moral merit and demerit, consequently also all gradations of reward and punishment. He overlooked the process of development in both good and evil. He went back of all outward relations to the inner mind, and lost all subordinate differences of degree in the great contrast between true Christians and men of the world, between regenerate and unregenerate; whereas, the friends of monasticism taught a higher and lower morality, and distinguished the ascetics, as a special class, from the mass of ordinary Christians. As Christ, says he, dwells in believers, without difference of degree, so also believers are in Christ without difference of degree or stages of development. There are only two classes of men, righteous and wicked, sheep and goats, five wise virgins and five foolish, good trees with good fruit and bad trees with bad fruit. He appealed also to the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, who all received equal wages. Jerome answered him with such things as the parable of the sower and the different kinds of ground, the parable of the different numbers of talents with corresponding rewards, the many mansions in the Father’s house (by which Jovinian singularly understood the different churches on earth), the comparison of the resurrection bodies with the stars, which differ in glory, and the passage: "He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully."399


 § 47. Helvidius, Vigilantius, and Aerius.


See especially the tracts of Jerome quoted in the preceding section.


Helvidius, whether a layman or a priest at Rome it is uncertain, a pupil, according to the statement of Gennadius, of the Arian bishop Auxentius of Milan, wrote a work, before the year 383, in refutation of the perpetual virginity of the mother of the Lord—a leading point with the current glorification of celibacy. He considered the married state equal in honor and glory to that of virginity. Of his fortunes we know nothing. Augustine speaks of Helvidians, who are probably identical with the Antidicomarianites of Epiphanius. Jerome calls Helvidius, indeed, a rough and uneducated man,400 but proves by quotations of his arguments, that he had at least some knowledge of the Scriptures, and a certain ingenuity. He appealed in the first place to Matt. i. 18, 24, 25, as implying that Joseph knew his wife not before, but after, the birth of the Lord; then to the designation of Jesus as the "first born" son of Mary, in Matt. i. 25, and Luke ii. 7; then to the many passages, which speak of the brothers and sisters of Jesus; and finally to the authority of Tertullian and Victorinus. Jerome replies, that the "till" by no means always fixes a point after which any action must begin or cease;401 that, according to Ex. xxxiv. 19, 20; Num. xviii. 15 sqq., the "first born" does not necessarily imply the birth of other children afterward, but denotes every one, who first opens the womb; that the "brothers" of Jesus may have been either sons of Joseph by a former marriage, or, according to the wide Hebrew use of the term, cousins; and that the authorities cited were more than balanced by the testimony of Ignatius, Polycarp(?), and Irenaeus. "Had Helvidius read these," says he, "he would doubtless have produced something more skilful."

This whole question, it is well known, is still a problem in exegesis. The perpetua virginitas of Mary has less support from Scripture than the opposite theory. But it is so essential to the whole ascetic system, that it became from this time an article of the Catholic faith, and the denial of it was anathematized as blasphemous heresy. A considerable number of Protestant divines,402 however, agree on this point with the Catholic doctrine, and think it incompatible with the dignity of Mary, that, after the birth of the Son of God and Saviour of the world, she should have borne ordinary children of men.

Vigilantius, originally from Gaul,403 a presbyter of Barcelona in Spain, a man of pious but vehement zeal, and of literary talent, wrote in the beginning of the fifth century against the ascetic spirit of the age and the superstition connected with it. Jerome’s reply, dictated hastily in a single night at Bethlehem in the year 406, contains more of personal abuse and low witticism, than of solid argument. "There have been," he says, "monsters on earth, centaurs, syrens, leviathans, behemoths .... Gaul alone has bred no monsters, but has ever abounded in brave and noble men,—when, of a sudden, there has arisen one Vigilantius, who should rather be called Dormitantius,404 contending in an impure spirit against the Spirit of Christ, and forbidding to honor the graves of the martyrs; he rejects the Vigils—only at Easter should we sing hallelujah; he declares abstemiousness to be heresy, and chastity a nursery of licentiousness (pudicitiam, libidinis seminarium) .... This innkeeper of Calagurris405 mingles water with the wine, and would, according to ancient art, combine his poison with the genuine faith. He opposes virginity, hates chastity, cries against the fastings of the saints, and would only amidst jovial feastings amuse himself with the Psalms of David. It is terrible to bear, that even bishops are companions of his wantonness, if those deserve this name, who ordain only married persons deacons, and trust not the chastity of the single."406  Vigilantius thinks it better for a man to use his money wisely, and apply it gradually to benevolent objects at home, than to lavish it all at once upon the poor or give it to the monks of Jerusalem. He went further, however, than his two predecessors, and bent his main efforts against the worship of saints and relics, which was then gaining ascendency and was fostered by monasticism. He considered it superstition and idolatry. He called the Christians, who worshipped the "wretched bones" of dead men, ash-gatherers and idolaters.407  He expressed himself sceptically respecting the miracles of the martyrs, contested the practice of invoking them and of intercession for the dead, as useless, and declared himself against the Vigils, or public worship in the night, as tending to disorder and licentiousness. This last point Jerome admits as a fact, but not as an argument, because the abuse should not abolish the right use.

The presbyter Aerius of Sebaste, about 360, belongs also among the partial opponents of monasticism. For, though himself an ascetic, he contended against the fast laws and the injunction of fasts at certain times, considering them an encroachment upon Christian freedom. Epiphanius also ascribes to him three other heretical views: denial of the superiority of bishops to presbyters, opposition to the usual Easter festival, and opposition to prayers for the dead.408  He was hotly persecuted by the hierarchy, and was obliged to live, with his adherents, in open fields and in caves.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

259  Comp. the occasional notices of the Indian gymnosophists in Strabo (lib. xv. cap. 1, after accounts from the time of Alexander the Great), Arrian (Exped. Alex. l. vii. c. 1-3, and Hist. Ind. c. 11), Plinius (Hist Nat. vii. 2), Diodorus Siculus (lib. ii.), Plutarch (Alex. 64), Porphyry (De abstinent. l. iv.), Lucian (Fugit. 7), Clemens Alex. (Strom. l. i. and iii.), and Augustine (De Civit. Dei, l. xiv. c. 17: "Per opacas Indiae solitudines, quum quidam nudi philosophentur, unde gymnosophistae nominantur; adhibent tamen genitalibus tegmina, quibus per caetera membrorum carent;" and l. xv. 20, where he denies all merit to their celibacy, because it is not "secundum fidem summi boni, qui est Deus"). With these ancient representations agree the narratives of Fon Koueki (about 400, translated by M. A. Rémusat, Par. 1836), Marco Polo (1280), Bernier (1670), Hamilton (1700), Papi, Niebuhr, Orlich, Sonnerat, and others.

260  The Indian word for it is tapas, i.e. the burning out, or the extinction of the individual being and its absorption into the essence of Brahma.

261  Ad. Wuttke, in his able and instructive work: Das Geistesleben der Chinesen, Japaner, und Indier (second part of his History of Heathenism), 1853, p. 593.

262  See the older accounts of Catholic missionaries to Thibet, in Pinkerton’s Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. vii., and also the recent work of Huc, a French missionary priest of the congregation of St. Lazare: Souvenirs d’un Voyage dans la Tartarie, le Thibet, et la Chine, pendant les années 1844-1846. Comp. also on the whole subject the two works of R. S. Hardy: "Eastern Monachism" and "A Manual of Buddhism in its modern development, translated from Singalese MSS." Lond. 1850. The striking affinity between Buddhism and Romanism extends, by the way, beyond monkery and convent life to the heirarchical organization, with the Grand Lama for pope, and to the worship, with its ceremonies, feasts, processions, pilgrimages, confessional, a kind of mass, prayers for the dead, extreme unction, &c. The view is certainly at least plausible, to which the great geographer Carl Ritter (Erdkunde, ii. p. 283-299, 2d ed.) has given the weight of his name, that the Lamaists in Thibet borrowed their religious forms and ceremonies in part from the Nestorian missionaries. But this view is a mere hypothesis, and is rendered improbable by the fact, that Buddhism in Cochin China, Tonquin, and Japan, where no Nestorian missionaries ever were, shows the same striking resemblance to Romanism as the Lamaism of Thibet, Tartary, and North China. Respecting the singular tradition of Prester John, or the Christian priest-king in Eastern Asia, which arose about the eleventh century, and respecting the Nestorian missions, see Ritter, l.c.

263  Comp. Num. vi. 1-21.

264  Comp. the remarkable description of these Jewish monks by the elder Pliny, Hist. Natur. v. 15: "Gens sola, et in toto orbe praeter caeteros mira, sine ulla femina, omni venere abdicata, sine pecunia, socia palmarum. Ita per seculorum millia (incredibile dictu) gens aeterna est in qua nemo nascitur. Tam foecunda illis aliorum vitae penitentia est."

265  Eusebius, H. E. ii. 17, erroneously takes them for Christians.

266  H. Ruffner, l.c. vol. i. ch. ii.–ix., gives an extended description of these extra-Christian forms of monasticism, and derives the Christian from them, especially from the Buddhist.

267  So even Calvin, who, in his commentary on 1 Tim. iv. 3, refers Paul’s prophecy of the ascetic apostasy primarily to the Encratites, Gnostics, Montanists, and Manichaeans, but extends it also to the Papists, "quando coelibatum et ciborum abstinentiam severius urgent quam ullum Dei praeceptum." So, recently, Ruffner, and especially Is. Taylor, who, in his "Ancient Christianity," vol. i. p. 299 sqq., has a special chapter on The Predicted Ascetic Apostasy. The best modern interpreters, however, are agreed, that the apostle has the heretical Gnostic dualistic asceticism in his eye, which forbade marriage and certain meats as intrinsically impure; whereas the Roman and Greek churches make marriage a sacrament, only subordinate it to celibacy, and limit the prohibition of it to priests and monks. The application of 1 Tim. iv. 1-3 to the Catholic church is, therefore, admissible at most only in a partial and indirect way.

268  Comp. vol. i. § 94-97.

269  Lactantius says it was necessary to buy even the liberty of breathing, and according to Zosimus (Hist. ii. 38) the fathers prostituted their daughters to have means to pay their tax.

270  From ajnacwrevw, to retire (from human society), ajnacwrhthv", ejrhmivth" (from ejrhmiva, a desert). The word monacov" (from movno", alone, and monavzein, to live alone), monachus (whence monk), also points originally to solitary, hermit life, but is commonly synonymous with coenobite or friar.

271  Koinovbion, coenobium; from koinov" bivo", vita communis; then the congregation of monks; sometimes also used for the building. In the same sense mavndra, stable, fold, and monasthvrion, claustrum (whence cloister). Also lauvrai, laurae (literally, streets), that is cells, of which usually a number were built not far apart, so as to form a hamlet. Hence this term is often used in the same sense as monasterium. The singular, lau'ra, however, answers to the anchoret life. On this nomenclature of monasticism comp. Du Cange, in the Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis, under the respective words.

272  JHgouvmeno", ajrcemandrivth" , ajbba'", i.e. father, hence abbot. A female superintendent was called in Syriac ajmma'", mother, abbess.

273  From nonna, i.e. casta, chaste, holy. The word is probably of Coptic origin, and occurs as early as in Jerome. The masculine nonnus, monk, appears frequently in the middle age. Comp. the examples in Du Cange, s. v.

274  Hence Middleton says, not without reason: "By all which I have ever read of the old, and have seen of the modern monks, I take the preference to be clearly due to the last, as having a more regular discipline, more good learning, and less superstition among them than the first."

275  Bivo" qewrhtikov" , and bivo" praktikov", according to Gregory Nazianzen and others. Throughout the middle age the distinction between the vita contemplativa and the vita activa was illustrated by the two sisters of Lazarus, Luke x. 38-42.

276  JH kata; qeo;n orCristo;n filosofiva, hJ uJyhlhv filo"., i.e. in the sense of the ancients, not so much a speculative system, as a mode of life under a particular rule. So in the Pythagoreans, Stoics, Cynics, and Neo-Platonists. Ascetic and philosopher are the same.

277  jApostoliko;" bivo" , oJ tw'n ajggevlwn bivo", vita angelica; after an unwarranted application of Christ’s word respecting the sexless life of the angels, Matt. xxii. 30, which is not presented here as a model for imitation, but only mentioned as an argument against the Sadducees.

278  ln his famous battle poem: "The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava," first ed. 1854.

279  Comp. the truthful remark of Yves de Chartres, of the twelfth century, Ep. 192 (quoted by Montalembert): "Non beatum faciunt hominem secreta sylvarum, cacumina montium, si secum non habet solitudinem mentis, sabbatum cordis, tranquillitatem conscientiae, ascensiones in corde, sine quibus omnem solitudinem comitantur mentis acedia, curiositas, vana gloria, periculosae tentationum procellae."

280  So Jerome, Ep. 49 (ed. Ben.), ad Paulinum, where he adduces, besides Elijah and John, Isaiah also and the sons of the prophets, as the fathers of monasticism; and in his Vita Pauli, where, however, he more correctly designates Paul of Thebes and Anthony as the first hermits, properly so called, in distinction from the prophets. Comp. also Sozomen: H. E., 1. i. c. 12: Tauvth" de; th'" ajrivsth" filosofiva" h[rxato, w{" tine" levgousin, JHliva" oJ profhvth" kai; jIwavnnh" oJ baptisthv". This appeal to the example of Elijah and John the Baptist has become traditional with Catholic writers on the subject. Alban Butler says, under Jan. 15, in the life of Paul of Thebes: "Elias and John the Baptist sanctified the deserts, and Jesus Christ himself was a model of the eremitical state during his forty days’ fast in the wilderness; neither is it to be questioned but the Holy Ghost conducted the saint of this day (Paul of Thebes) into the desert, and was to him an instructor there."

281  Hence called consilia evangelica, in distinction from mandata divina; after 1 Cor. vii. 25, where Paul does certainly make a similar distinction. The consilium and votum paupertatis is based on Matt. xix. 21; the votum castitatis, on 1 Cor. vii. 8, 25, 38-40. For the votum obedientiae no particular text is quoted. The theory appears substantially as early as in Origen, and was in him not merely a personal opinion, but the reflex of a very widely spread practice. Comp. vol. i. § 94 and 95.

282  Comp. Col. ii. 16-23.

283  Comp. 1 Cor. xiii. 1-3. Comp. p. 168 sq.

284  [Aplasto", lit. not moulded; hence natural, sincere.

285  Ma; to;n jIhsou'n (per Christum, in Salvian), which now took the place of the pagan oath: ma; to;n Diva, by Jupiter.

286  In Theodoret: Hist. relig. c. (vita) 13.

287  Comp. Matt. xi. 18, 19; 1 Tim. iv. 3-5.

288  Comp. Hist. Laus. c. 33 and 95.

289  Hist. Eccles. lib. vi. cap. 34.

290  These latter themselves were not absolutely naked, but wore a covering over the middle, as Augustine, in the passage above cited, De Civit. Dei, l. xiv. c. 17, and later tourists tell us. On the contrary, there were monks who were very scrupulous on this point. It is said of Ammon, that he never saw himself naked. The monks in Tabennae, according to the rule of Pachomius, had to sleep always in their clothes.

291  Comp. Hist Lausiaca, c. 20, and Tillemont, tom. viii. p. 633.

292  Theboskoivor pabulatores. Comp. Sozom. H. E. l. vi. 33. Ephraim Syrus delivered a special eulogy on them, cited in Tillemont, Mem. tom. viii. p. 292 sq.

293  Hist. Rel. cap. (vita) xv. (Opera omnia, ed Par. iii. 843 sqq.).

294  Dial. i. c. 8. Severus sees in this a wonderful example of the power of Christ over wild beasts.

295  L. c. i. c 11.

296  See Ruffner, l.c. i. 49 sqq., and Wuttke, l.c. p. 369 sqq.

297  According to a sensuous and local conception of Eph. vi. 12: Ta; pneumatika; th'" ponhriva" ejn toi'" ejpouranivoi" ; "die bösen Geister unter dem Himmel" (evil spirits under heaven), as Luther translates; while the Vulgate gives it literally, but somewhat obscurely: "Spiritualia nequitiae in coelestibus;" and the English Bible quite too freely: "Spiritual wickedness in high places." In any case pneumatikav is to be taken in a much wider sense than pneuvmata or daimovnia; and ejpouravnia, also, is not fully identical with the cloud heaven or the atmosphere, and besides admits a different construction, so that many put a comma after ponhriva". The monastic satanology and demonology, we may remark, was universally received in the ancient church and throughout the middle ages. And it is well known that Luther retained from his monastic life a sensuous, materialistic idea of the devil and of his influence on men.

298  Athanasius says of St. Anthony, that the devil sometimes appeared to him in the form of a woman; Jerome relates of St. Hilarion, that in bed his imagination was often beset with visions of naked women. Jerome himself acknowledges, in a letter to a virgin (!), Epist. xxii. (ed. Vallars. t. i. p. 91, 92), de Custodia Virginitatis, ad Eustochium: "O quoties ego ipse in eremo constitutus et in illa vasta solitudine, quae exusta solis ardoribus horridum monachis praebebat habitaculum, putavi me Romanis interesse deliciis .... Ille igitur ego, qui ob gehennae metum tali me carcere ipse damnaveram, scorpionum tantum socius et ferarum, saepe choris intereram puellarum. Pallebant ora jejuniis, et mens desideriis aestuabat in frigido corpore, et ante hominem suum jam in carne praemortuum, sola libidinum incendia bulliebant. Itaque omni auxilio destitutus, ad Jesu jacebam pedes, rigabam lacrymis, crine tergebam et repugnantem carnem hebdomadarum inedia subjugabam." St. Ephraim warns against listening to the enemy, who whispers to the monk: Ouj dunato;n pauvsasqei ajpov sou, eja;n mh; plhroforhvsh/" ejpiqumivan sou.

299  Vita Pach. § 61. Comp. Nilus, Epist. l. ii. p. 140: Tine;" ... eJautou;" e[sfaxan macaivra/ etc. Even among the fanatical Circumcelliones, Donatist medicant monks in Africa, suicide was not uncommon.

300  Tillem. vii. 430. The abbot thereupon, as Tillemont relates, was informed by a revelation, "que Muce avait egalé par son obeissance celle d’Abraham," and soon after made him his successor.

301  Omnino monachum fugere debere mulieres et episcopos.

302  Sozom. iv. 30.

303  Hist. of (ancient) Christianity, Am. ed., p. 432.

304  Chateaubriand commends the monastic institution mainly under the first view. "If there are refuges for the health of the body, ah ! permit religion to have such also for the health of the soul, which is still more subject to sickness, and the infirmities of which are so much more sad, so much more tedious and difficult to cure!" Montalembert (l.c. i. 25) objects to this view as poetic and touching but false, and represents monasticism as an arena for the healthiest and strongest souls which the world has ever produced, and quotes the passage of Chrysostom: "Come and see the tents of the soldiers of Christ; come and see their order of battle; they fight every day, and every day they defeat and immolate the passions which assail us."

305  1 The abbot Isidore of Pelusium wrote to a slaveholder, Ep. l. i. 142 (cited by Neander): "I did not think that the man who loves Christ, and knows the grace which makes us all free, would still hold slaves."

306  The monkish miracles, with which the Vitae Patrum of the Jesuit Rosweyde and the Acta Sanctorum swarm, often contradict all the laws of nature and of reason, and would be hardly worthy of mention, but that they come from such fathers as Jerome, Rufinus, Severus, Palladius, and Theodoret, and go to characterize the Nicene age. We are far from rejecting all and every one as falsehood and deception, and accepting the judgment of Isaac Taylor (Ancient Christianity, ii. 106): "The Nicene miracles are of a kind which shocks every sentiment of gravity, of decency, and of piety:—in their obvious features they are childish, horrid, blasphemous, and foul." Much more cautious is the opinion of Robertson (Hist. of the Christian Church, i. 312) and other Protestant historians, who suppose that, together with the innocent illusions of a heated imagination and the fabrications of intentional fraud, there must have been also much that was real, though in the nature of the case an exact sifting is impossible. But many of these stories are too much even for Roman credulity, and are either entirely omitted or at least greatly reduced and modified by critical historians. We read not only of innumerable visions, prophecies, healings of the sick and the possessed, but also of raising of the dead (as in the life of Martin of Tours), of the growth of a dry stick into a fruitful tree, and of a monk’s passing unseared, in absolute obedience to his abbot, through a furnace of fire as through a cooling bath. (Comp. Sulp. Sever. Dial. i. c. 12 and 13.) Even wild beasts play a large part, and are transformed into rational servants of the Egyptian saints of the desert. At the funeral of Paul of Thebes, according to Jerome, two lions voluntarily performed the office of sexton. Pachomius walked unharmed over serpents and scorpions, and crossed the Nile on crocodiles, which, of their own accord, presented their backs. The younger Macarius, or (according to other statements of the Historia Lausiaca; comp. the investigation of Tillemont, tom. viii. p. 811 sqq.) the monk Marcus stood on so good terms with the beasts, that a hyena (according to Rufinus, V. P. ii. 4, it was a lioness) brought her young one to him in his cell, that he might open its eyes; which he did by prayer and application of spittle; and the next day she offered him, for gratitude, a large sheepskin; the saint at first declined the gift, and reproved the beast for the double crime of murder and theft, by which she had obtained the skin; but when the hyena showed repentance, and with a nod promised amendment, Macarius took the skin, and afterward bequeathed it to the great bishop Athanasius. Severus (Dial. i. c. 9) gives a very similar account of an unknown anchoret, but, like Rufinus, substitutes for the hyena of Palladius a lioness with five whelps, and makes the saint receive the present of the skin without scruple or reproof. Shortly before (c. 8), he speaks, however, of a wolf, which once robbed a friendly hermit, whose evening meal she was accustomed to share, showed deep repentance for it, and with bowed head begged forgiveness of the saint. Perhaps Palladius or his Latin translator has combined these two anecdotes.

307  Pliny counts thirty-nine different sorts of palm trees, of which the best grow in Egypt, are ever green, have thick foliage, and bear a fruit, from which in some places bread is made.

308  Jerome says of Anthony, in his Vita Pauli Theb. (c. i.): "Non tam ipse auto omnes (eremitas) fuit, quam ab eo omnium incitata sunt studia."

309  According to the common opinion, which was also Augustine’s, Anthony could not even read. But Tillemont (tom. vii. 107 and 666), Butler, and others think that this igorance related only to the Greek alphabet, not to the Egyptian. Athanasius, p. 795, expresses himself somewhat indistinctly; that, from dread of society, he would not maqei'n gravmmata (letters? or the arts?), but speaks afterward of his regard for reading.

310  Augustine says of him, De doctr. Christ. § 4, that, without being able to read from only hearing the Bible, he knew it by heart. The life of Athanasius shows, indeed, that a number of Scripture passages were very familiar to him. But of a connected and deep knowledge of Scripture in him, or in these anchorets generally, we find no trace.

311  Matt. xix. 21.

312  Matt. vi. 34.

313  Eij" parqenw'na, says Athanasius; i.e., not "un monastere de verges," as Tillemont translates, for nunneries did not yet exist; but a society of female ascetics within the congregation; from which, however, a regular cloister might of course very easily grow.

314  Jerome, in his Vita Hilarionis, c. 31, gives an incidental description of this last residence of Anthony, according to which it was not so desolate as from Athanasius one would infer. He speaks even of palms, fruit trees, and vines in this garden, the fruit of which any one would have enjoyed.

315  Athanas. c. 42: jElqovnte" ga;r (oiJ ejcqroi;)oJpoivou" ajn eu{rwsin hJma'",toiou'toi kai; aujtoi; givnontai, etc.—an important psychological observation.

316  This is not told indeed by Athanasius, but by Rufinus, Jerome, and Socrates (Hist. Eccl. iv. 25). Comp. Tillemont, l.c. p. 129.

317  Comp. the proofs in Tillemont, l.c. p. 137 sq.

318  Dion, fol. 51, ed. Petav., cited in Tillemont and Neander.

319  Hom. viii. in Matth. tom. vii. 128 (ed. Montfaucon).

320  · Comp. Aug.: Confess. l. viii. c. 6 and 28.

321  "Quanti populi," says Rufinus (Vitae Patr. ii c. 7), "habentur in urbibus, tantae paene habentur in desertis multitudines monachorum." Gibbon adds the sarcastic remark: "Posterity might repeat the saying, which had formerly been applied to sacred animals of the same country, That in Egypt it was less difficult to find a god than a man." Montalembert (Monks of the West, vol. i. p. 314) says of the increase of monks: "Nothing in the wonderful history of these hermits in Egypt is so incredible as their number. But the most weighty authorities agreed in establishing it (S. Augustine, De morib. Eccles. i. 31). It was a kind of emigration of towns to the desert, of civilization to simplicity, of noise to silence, of corruption to innocence. The current once begun, floods of men, of women, and of children threw themselves into it, and flowed thither during a century with irresistible force."

322  There were several (five or seven) anchorets of this name, who are often confounded. The most celebrated are Macarius the elder, or the Great († 390), to whom the Homilies probably belong; and Macarius the younger, of Alexandria († 404), the teacher of Palladius, who spent a long time with him, and set him as high as the other. Comp. Tillemont’s extended account, tom. viii. p. 574-650, and the notes, p. 811 sqq.

323  On Ammon, or, in Egyptian, Amus and Amun, comp. Tillemont, viii. p. 153-166, and the notes, p. 672-674.

324  Opera, tom. ii. p. 13-40.

325  Lu. xiv. 33.

326  A peculiar, romantic, but not fully historical interest attaches to the biography of the imprisoned and fortunately escaping monk Malchus, with his nominal wife, which is preserved to us by Jerome.

327  Original at least in the Christian church. Gieseler refers to a heathen precedent; the Fallobatei'" in Syria, mentioned by Lucian, De Dea Syria, c. 28 and 29.

328  Butler, l.c., however, relates something similar of a contemporary Benedictine monk, Dom Claude Leante: "In 1731, when he was about fifty-one years of age, he had fasted eleven years without taking any food the whole forty days, except what he daily took at mass; and what added to the wonder is, that during Lent he did not properly sleep, but only dozed. He could not bear the open air; and toward the end of Lent he was excessively pale and wasted. This fact is attested by his brethren and superiors, in a relation printed at Sens, in 1731."

329  The first pillar, which he himself erected, and on which he lived four years, was six cubits (phvcewn) high, the second twelve, the third twenty-two, and the fourth, which the people erected for him, and on which he spent twenty years, was thirty-six, according to Theodoret; others say forty. The top was only three feet in diameter. It probably had a railing, however, on which he could lean in sleep or exhaustion. So at least these pillars are drawn in pictures. Food was carried up to the pillar saints by their disciples on a ladder.

330  To; mevga qau'ma th'" oijkoumevnh". Hist. Relig. c. 26, at the beginning.

331  Referring to Isa xx. 2; Jer. i. 17; xxviii. 12; Hos i. 2; iii. 1; Ezek. iv. 4; xii. 5.

332  Ep. ii. 114; cited in Gieseler, ii. 2, p. 246, note 47 (Edinb. Engl. ed. ii. p. 13, note 47), and in Neander.

333  Möhler remarks on this (Vermischte Schriften, ii. p. 183): "Thus antiquity expresses its faith, that for man perfectly reconciled with God there is no enemy in nature. There is more than poetry here; there is expressed at least the high opinion his own and future generations had of Pachomius." The last qualifying remark suggests a doubt even in the mind of this famous modern champion of Romanism as to the real historical character of the wonderful tales of this monastic saint.

334  Gregory Nazianzen, in his eulogy on Basil (Orat. xx. of the old order, Orat. xliii. in the new Par. ed.), gives him the honor of endeavoring to unite the theoretical and the practical modes of life in monasticism, i]na mhvte to; filovsofon ajkoinwvnhton h|/, mhvte to; praktiko;n ajfilovsofon.

335  Comp. Neander, iii. 487 (Torrey’s translation, vol. ii. p. 250 sqq.), who esteems Nilus highly; and the article of Gass in Herzog’s Theol. Encykl. vol. x. p, 355 sqq. His works are in the Bibl. Max. vet. Patr. tom. vii., and in Migne’s Patrol. Gr. t. 79.

336  Comp. on him Tillemont, xv., and H. A. Niemeyer: "De Isid. Pel. vita, scripet doctrina," Hal. 1825. His Epistles are in the 7th volume of the Bibliotheca Maxima, and in Migne’s Patrol. Graeca, tom. 58, Paris, 1860.

337  From @ylix]lim' = Eujcivtai, from eujchv, prayer.

338  Sulpitius Severus, in the first of his three dialogues, gives several amusing instances of the difference between the Gallic and Egyptian stomach, and was greatly astonished when the first Egyptian anchoret whom he visited placed before him and his four companions a half loaf of barley bread and a handful of herbs for a dinner, though they tasted very good after the wearisome journey. "Edacitas," says he, "in Graecis gula est, in Gallia natura." (Dial. i. c. 8, in Gallandi, t. viii. p. 405.)

339  "The monastic stream," says Montalembert, l.c., "which had been born in the deserts of Egypt, divided itself into two great arms. The one spread in the East, at first inundated everything, then concentrated and lost itself there. The other escaped into the West, and spread itself by a thousand channels over an entire world, which had to be covered and fertilized."

340  Augustine, Conf. vii. 6: "Erat monasterium Mediolani plenum bonis fratribus extra urbis moenia, sub Ambrosio nutritore."

341  Ambr.: De virginibus, lib. iii., addressed to his sister Marcellina, about 377. Comp. Tillem. x. 102-105, and Schröckh, viii. 355 sqq.

342  Ambr.: Hexaëmeron, l. iii. c. 5. Hieron.: Ep. ad Oceanum de morte Fabiolae, Ep. 77 ed. Vall. (84 ed. Ben., al. 30).

343  He himself speaks of a monasterium clericorum in his episcopal residence, and his biographer, Possidius, says of him, Vita, c. 5: "Factus ergo presbyter monasterium inter ecclesiam mox instituit, et cum Dei servis vivere coepit secundum modum, et regulam sub sanctis apostlis constitutam, maxime ut nemo quidquam proprium haberet, sed eis essent omnia communia."

344  De opera monach. c. 22. Still later, Salvian (De gubern. Dei, viii. 4) speaks of the hatred of the Africans for monasticism.

345  In his Vita Martini, and also in three letters respecting him, and in three very eloquently and elegantly written dialogues, the first of which relates to the oriental monks, the two others to the miracles of Martin (translated, with some omissions, in Ruffner’s Fathers of the Desert, vol. ii. p. 68-178). He tells us (Dial. i. c. 23) that the book traders of Rome sold his Vita Martini more rapidly than any other book, and made great profit on it. The Acts of the Saints were read as romances in those days.

346  The biographer here refers, of course, to Matt. xxv. 40

347  Toward the close of his biography, c. 26, 27 (Gallandi, tom. viii. 399).

348  Comp. Dial. ii. 5 (in Gallandi Bibl. tom. viii. p. 412).

349  Vita M. c. 20 (in Gallandi, viii. 397).

350  Dial. ii. 7, which probably relates to the same banquet, since Martin declined other invitations to the imperial table. Severus gives us to understand that this was the only time Martin allowed a woman so near him, or received her service. He commended a nun for declining even his official visit as bishop, and Severus remarks thereupon: "O glorious virgin, who would not even suffer herself to be seen by Martin! O blessed Martin, who took not this refusal for an insult, but commended its virtue, and rejoiced to find in that region so rare an example!" (Dial, ii. c. 12, Gall, viii. 414.)

351  As he himself boasts in his second apology to Rufinus: "Ego philosophus(?), rhetor, grammaticus, dialecticus, hebraeus, graecus, latinus, trilinguis." The celebrated Erasmus, the first editor of his works, and a very competent judge in matters of literary talent and merit, places Jerome above all the fathers, even St. Augustine (with whose doctrines of free grace and predestination he could not sympathize), and often gives eloquent expression to his admiration for him. In a letter to Pope Leo X. (Ep. ii. 1, quoted in Vallarsi’s ed. of Jerome’s works, tom. xi. 290), he says: "Divus Hieronymus sic apud Latinos est theologorum princeps, ut hunc prope solum habeamus theologi dignum nomine. Non quod caeteros damnem, sed quod illustres alioqui, si cum hoc conferantur, ob huius eminentiam velut obscurentur. Denique tot egregiis est cumulatus dotibus, ut vix ullum habeat et ipsa docta Graecia, quem cum hoc viro quest componere. Quantum in illo Romanae facundiae! quanta linguarum peritia! quanta omnis antiquitatis omnium historiarum notitia! quam fida memoria! quam felix rerum omnium mixtum! quam absoluta mysticarum literarum cognitio! super omnia, quis ardor ille, quam admirabilis divini pectoris afflatus? ut una et plurimum delectet eloquentia, et doceat eruditione, et rapiat sanctimonia."

352  Hence called Stridonensis; also in distinction from the contemporary but little known Greek Jerome, who was probably a presbyter in Jerusalem.

353  Martianay, Stilting, Cave, Schröckh, Hagenbach, and others, place his birth, according to Prosper, Chron. ad ann. 331, in the year 331; Baronius, Du Pin, and Tillemont, with greater probability, in the year 342. The last infers from various circumstances, that Jerome lived, not ninety-one years, as Prosper states, but only seventy-eight. Vallarsi (t. xi. 8) places his birth still later, in the year 346. His death is placed in the year 419 or 420.

354  "Mentiris," said the Lord to him, when Jerome called himself a Christian, Ciceronianus es, non Christianus, ubi enim thesaurus tuus ibi et cor tuum." Ep. xxii. ad Eustochium, "De custodia virginitatis "(tom. i. p. 113). C. A. Heumann has written a special treatise, De ecstasi Hieronymi anti-Ciceroniana. Comp. also Schröckh, vol. vii. p. 35 sqq., and Ozanam: " Civilisation au 5e Siècle," i. 301.

355  Ep. xxii. ed. Vall. i. 112).

356  Ep. xxii. (i. p. 91, ed. Vallars.)

357  Ep. cxxv., ed. Vallars. (al. 95 or 4.)

358  De laude vitae solitariae, Ep. xiv. (tom. i. 28-36) ad Heliodorum. The Roman lady Fabiola learned this letter by heart, and Du Pin calls it a masterpiece of eloquence (Nouv. Bibl. des auteurs eccl. iii. 102), but it is almost too declamatory and turgid. He himself afterward acknowledged it overdrawn.

359  Gibbon says of them: "The stories of Paul, Hilarion, and Malchus are admirably told; and the only defect of these pleasing compositions is the want of truth and common sense."

360  Ep. xiv. (t. i. 29 sq.) Similar descriptions of the attractions of monastic life we meet with in the ascetic writings of Gregory, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Cassian, Nilus, and Isidor. "So great grace," says the venerable monk Nilus of Mount Sinai, in the beginning of the fifth century (Ep. lib. i Ep. 1, as quoted by Neander, Am. ed. ii. 250), "so great grace his God bestowed on the monks, even in anticipation of the future world, that they wish for no honors from men, and feel no longing after the greatness of this world; but, on the contrary, often seek rather to remain concealed from men: while, on the other hand, many of the great, who possess all the glory of the world, either of their own accord, or compelled by misfortune, take refuge with the lowly monks, and, delivered from fatal dangers, obtain at once a temporal and an eternal salvation."

361  As we infer from a remark of Jerome in Ep. cxxiii. c. 10, written a. 409 (ed. Vallars. i. p. 901): "Ante annos plurimos, quum in chartis ecclesiasticis" (i.e. probably in ecclesiastical documents; though Schröckh, viii. p. 122, refers it to the Holy Scriptures, appealing to a work of Bonamici unknown to me), "juvarem Damasum, Romanae urbis episcopum, et orientis atque occidentis synodicis consultationibus responderem," etc. The latter words, which Schröckh does not quote, favor the common interpretation.

362  Montalembert, himself the scion of an old noble family in France, l.c. i. p. 388 sq. Comp. Hieron., Epist. lxvi. ad Pammachium, de obit. Paulinae (ed. Vallars. i. 391 sqq.).

363  In one of his Epist. ad Pammach.: "Primus inter monachos in prima urbe ... archistrategos monachorum."

364  Ep. xxii. ad Eustochium, "de custodia virginitatis." Even Rufinus was shocked at the profane, nay, almost blasphemous expression, socrus Dei, and asked him from what heathen poet he had stolen it.

365  His controversy with Augustine on the interpretation of Gal. ii. 14 is not unimportant as an index of the moral character of the two most illustrous Latin fathers of the church. Jerome saw in the account of the collision between Paul and Peter, in Antioch, an artifice of pastoral prudence, and supposed that Paul did not there reprove the senior apostle in earnest, but only for effect, to reclaim the Jews from their wrong notions respecting the validity of the ceremonial law. Augustine’s delicate sense of truth was justly offended by this exegesis, which, to save the dignity of Peter, ascribed falsehood to Paul, and he expressed his opinion to Jerome, who, however, very loftily made him feel his smaller grammatical knowledge. But they afterward became reconciled. Comp. on this dispute the letters on both sides, in Hieron. Opera, ed. Vall. tom. i. 632 sqq., and the treatise of Möhler, in his "Vermischte Schriften," vol. i. p. 1-18.

366  "Tantis de toto orbe confluentibus obruimur turbis monachorum."

367  The Jesuit Stilting, the author of the Vita Hieron. in the Acta Sanctorum, devotes nearly thirty folio pages to accounts of the veneration paid to him and his relics after his death.

368  Most Roman Catholic biographers, as Martianay, Vallarsi, Stilting, Dolci, and even the Anglican Cave, are unqualified eulogists of Jerome. See also the "Selecta Veterum testimonia de Hieronymo ejusque scriptis," in Vallarsi’s edition, tom. xi. pp. 282-300. Tillemont, however, who on account of his Jansenist proclivity sympathizes more with Augustine, makes a move toward a more enlightened judgment, for which Stilting sharply reproves him. Montalembert (l.c. i. 402) praises him as a man of genius, inspired by zeal and subdued by penitence, of ardent faith and immense resources of knowledge; yet he incidentally speaks also of his "almost savage impetuosity of temper," and "that inexhaustible vehemence which sometimes degenerated into emphasis and affectation." Dr. John H. Newman, in his opinion before his transition from Puseyism to Romanism, exhibits the conflict in which the moral feeling is here involved with the authority of the Roman Church: "I do not scruple to say, that, were he not a saint, there are things in his writings and views from which I should shrink; but as the case stands, I shrink rather from putting myself in opposition to something like a judgment of the catholic(?) world in favor of his saintly perfection." (Church of the Fathers, 263, cited by Robertson.) Luther also here boldly broke through tradition, but, forgetful of the great value of the Vulgate even to his German version of the Bible, went to the opposite extreme of unjust derogation, expressing several times a distinct antipathy to this church father, and charging him with knowing not how to write at all of Christ, but only of fasts, virginity, and useless monkish exercises. Le Clerc exposed his defects with thorough ability, but unfairly, in his "Quaestiones Hieronymianae" (Amstel. 1700, over 500 pages). Mosheim and Schröckh are more mild, but the latter considers it doubtful whether Jerome did Christianity more good than harm. Among later Protestant historians opinion has become somewhat more favorable, though rather to his learning than to his moral character, which betrays in his letters and controversial writings too many unquestionable weaknesses.

369  Her father professed to trace his genealogy to Agamemnon, and her husband to Aeneas.

370  This want of cleanliness, the inseparable companion of ancient ascetic holiness, is bad enough in monks, but still more intolerable and revolting in nuns.

371  "Nesciebat se matrem," says Jerome, "ut Christi probaret ancillam." Revealing the conflict of monastic sanctity with the natural virtues which God has enjoined. Montalembert, also, quotes this objectionable passage with apparent approbation.

372  Jerome says, Eustochium hoped to pay the debts of her mother—probably by the help of others. Fuller justly remarks: "Liberality should have banks, as well as a stream."

373  In Latin Sublaqueum, or Sublacum, in the States of the Church, over thirty English miles (Butler says "near forty," Montalembert, ii. 7, "fifty miles") east of Rome, on the Teverone. Butler describes the place as "a barren, hideous chain of rocks, with a river and lake in the valley."

374  Monasterium Cassinense. It was destroyed, indeed, by the Lombards, as early as 583, as Benedict is said to have predicted it would be, but was rebuilt in 731, consecrated in 748, again destroyed by the Saracens in 857, rebuilt about 950, and more completely, after many other calamities, in 1649, consecrated for the third time by Benedict XIII. in 1727, enriched and increased under the patronage of the emperors and popes, but in modern times despoiled of its enormous income (which at the end of the sixteenth century was reckoned at 500,000 ducats), and has stood through all vicissitudes to this day. In the days of its splendor, when the abbot was first baron of the kingdom of Naples, and commanded over four hundred towns and villages, it numbered several hundred monks, but in 1843 only twenty. It has a considerable library. Montalembert (l.c. ii. 19) calls Monte Cassino "the most powerful and celebrated monastery in the Catholic universe; celebrated especially because there Benedict wrote his rule and formed the type which was to serve as a model to innumerable communities submitted to that sovereign code." He also quotes the poetic description from Dante’s Paradiso. Dom Luigi Tosti published at Naples, in 1842, a full history of this convent, in three volumes.

375  Gregor. Dial. ii. 37.

376  "Scienter nesciens, et sapienter indoctus."

377  Butler, l.c., compares him even with Moses and Elijah. "Being chosen by God, like another Moses, to conduct faithful souls into the true promised land, the kingdom of heaven, he was enriched with eminent supernatural gifts, even those of miracles and prophecy. He seemed, like another Eliseus, endued by God with an extraordinary power, commanding all nature, and, like the ancient prophets, foreseeing future events. He often raised the sinking courage of his monks, and baffled the various artifices of the devil with the sign of the cross, rendered the heaviest stone light, in building his monastery, by a short prayer, and, in presence of a multitude of people, raised to life a novice who had been crushed by the fall of a wall at Monte Cassino." Montalembert omits the more extraordinary miracles, except the deliverance of Placidus from the whirlpool, which he relates in the language of Bossuet, ii. 15.

378  The Catholic church has recognized three other rules besides that of St. Benedict, viz.: 1. That of St. Basil, which is still retained by the Oriental monks; 2. That of St. Augustine, which is adopted by the regular canons, the order of the preaching brothers or Dominicans, and several military orders; 3. The rule of St. Francis of Assisi, and his mendicant order, in the thirteenth century.

379  Pope Gregory believed the rule of St. Benedict even to be directly inspired, and Bossuet (Panégyric de Saint Benoit), in evident exaggeration, calls it "an epitome of Christianity, a learned and mysterious abridgment of all doctrines of the gospel, all the institutions of the holy fathers, and all the counsels of perfection." Montalembert speaks in a similar strain of French declamatory eloquence. Monasticism knows very little of the gospel of freedom, and resolves Christianity into a new law of obedience.

380  We have availed ourselves, in this extract from the preface, of the translation of Montalembert, ii. 44 sq.

381  Cap. 5: "Primus humilitatis gradus est obedientia sine mora. Haec convenit iis, qui nihil sibi Christo carius aliquid existimant; propter servitium sanctum, quod professi sunt, seu propter metum gehennae, vel gloriam vitae aeternae, mox ut aliquid imperatum a majore fuerit, ac si divinitus imperetur, moram pati nesciunt in faciendo."

382  Cap. 48: "Otiositas inimica est animae; et ideo certis temporibus occupari debent fratres in labore manuum, certis iterum horis in lectione divina."

383  The horaecanonicae are the Nocturnae vigiliae, Matutinae, Prima, Tertia, Sexta, Nona, Vespera, and Completorium, and are taken (c. 16) from a literal interpretation of Ps. cxix. 164: "Seven times a day do I praise thee," and v. 62: "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee." The Psalter was the liturgy and hymn book of the convent. It was so divided among the seven services of the day, that the whole psalter should be chanted once a week.

384  Cap. 59: "Si quis forte de nobilibus offert filium suum Deo in monasterio, si ipse puer minori aetate est, parentes ejus faciant petitionem," etc.

385  Cap. 40: "Carnium quadrupedum ab omnibus abstinetur comestio, praeter omnino debiles et aegrotos." Even birds are excluded, which were at that time only delicacies for princes and nobles, as Mabillon shows from the contemporary testimony of Gregory of Tours.

386  Cap. 66: "Monasterium, si possit fieri, ita debet construi, ut omnia necessaria, id est, aqua, molendinum, hortus, pistrinum, vel artes diversae intra monasterium exerceantur, ut non sit necessitas monachis vagandi foras, quia omnino non expedit animabus eorum."

387  This Maurus, the founder of the abbacy of Glanfeuil (St. Maur sur Loire), is the patron saint of a branch of the Benedictines, the celebrated Maurians in France (dating from 1618), who so highly distinguished themselves in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth centuries, by their thorough archaeological and historical researches, and their superior editions of the Fathers. The most eminent of the Maurians are D. (Dom, equivalent to Domnus, Sir) Menard, d’Achery, Godin, Mabillon, le Nourry, Martianay, Ruinart, Martene, Montfaucon, Massuet, Garnier, and de la Rue, and in our time Dom Pitra, editor of a valuable collection of patristic fragments, at the cloister of Solesme.

388  He was the last of the Roman consuls—an office which Justinian abolished—and was successively the minister of Odoacer, Theodoric, and Athalaric, who made him prefect of the praetorium

389  Or Vivaria, so called from the numerous vivaria or fish ponds in that region.

390  Comp. Mabillon, Ann. Bened. l. v. c. 24, 27; F. de Ste. Marthe, Vie de Cassiodore, 1684.

391  1 Cor. vii. 26.

392  Adv. Jovin. lib. i. c. 40 (Opera, ii. 304): "Et tamen iste formosus monachus, crassus, nitidus, dealbatus, et quasi sponsus semper incedens, aut uxorem ducat ut aequalem virginitatem nuptiis probet; aut, si non duxerit, frustra contra nos verbis agit, cum opere nobiscum sit."

393  Augustine says, De haer. c. 82: "Cito ista haeresis oppressa et extincta est;" and Jerome writes of Jovinian, in 406, Adv. Vigilant. c. 1, that, after having been condemned by the authority of the Roman church, he dissipated his mind in the enjoyment of his lusts.

394  1 Cor. vii. 36, 39.

395  1 Tim. iii. 2, 12.

396  1 Tim. v. 14; comp. 1 Tim. ii. 15; Heb. xiii. 4.

397  From 1 Cor. vii. 1, for example ("It is good for a man not to touch a woman"), he argues, without qualification, l. i. c. 7 (Opera, ii. 246): "Si bonum est mulierem non tangere, malum est ergo tangere, nihil enim bono contrarium est, nisi malum; si autem malum est, et ignoscitur, ideo conceditur, ne malo quid deterius fiat .... Tolle fornicationem, et non dicet [apostolus], unusquisque uxorem suam habeat."Immediately after this (ii. 247) he argues, from the exhortation of Paul to pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. v. 17: "Si semper orandum est, nunquam ergo conjugio serviendum, quoniam quotiescunque uxori debitum reddo, orare non possum." Such sophistries and misinterpretations evidently proceed upon the lowest sensual idea of marriage, and called forth some opposition even at that age. He himself afterward felt that he had gone too far, and in his Ep. 48 (ed. Vallars. or Ep. 30, ed. Bened.) ad Pammachium, endeavored to save himself by distinguishing between the gymnastic (polemically rhetorical) and the dogmatic mode of writing.

398  De bono conj. c. 8: "Duo bona sunt connubium et continentia, quorum alterum est melius."

399  2 Cor. ix. 6.

400  At the very beginning of his work against him, he styles him "hominem rusticum et vix primis quoque imbutum literis."

401  Comp. Matt. xxviii. 20.

402  Luther, for instance (who even calls Helvidius a "gross fool"), and Zuingle, among the Reformers; Olshausen and J. P. Lange, among the later theologians.

403  Respecting his descent, compare the diffuse treatise of the tedious but thorough Walch, l.c. p. 675-677.

404  This cheap pun he repeats, Epist. 109, ad Ripar. (Opera, i. p. 719), where he says that Vigilantius (Wakeful) was so called kat j ajntivfrasin, and should rather be called Dormitantius (Sleepy). The fact is, that Vigilantius was wide-awake to a sense of certain superstitions of the age

405  In South Gaul; now Casères in Gascogne. As the business of innkeeper is incompatible with the spiritual office, it has been supposed that the father of Vigilantius was a caupo Calagurritanus. Comp. Rössler’s Bibliothek der Kirchenväter, part ix. p. 880 sq., note 100; and Walch, l.c

406  Adv. Vigil.c. 1 and 2 (Opera, tom. ii. p. 387 sqq.).

407  "Cinerarios et idolatras, qui mortuorum ossa venerantur." Hieron. Ep. 109, ad Riparium (tom. i. p. 719).

408  Epiph. Haer. 75. Comp. also Walch, l.c. iii. 321-338. Bellarmine, on account of this external resemblance, styles Protestantism the Aerian heresy.