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tion of Church property, was no new thing, but a practice which had come down to them from their ancestors, even in the most palmy days of the Bishop of Rome.
MING LED PIETY AND SUPERSTITION, The following anecdote of Simon, Earl of Amiens, who had completed his education in the court of William the Conqueror, and who was the husband selected for Adela, the Conqueror's youngest daughter, will show how the developments of sound principle and genuine religious feeling are warped from their right and scriptural direction by the errors of the Papal creed, and thus forin a mixture so painfully heterogeneous. No wonder that St. John expresses his desire so energetically, that his “children should walk in truth.”
“Bred in the court of the pious Matilda of Flanders, Simon had imbibed an early reverence for justice and humanity; and was greatly shocked to find that his father,” (who had died not long before, in 1074) " of whom he had seen so little, had been guilty of many cruel acts of oppression ; and that even his burial-place, the castle of Montdidier, had been wrongfully and fraudulently obtained.
“ Full of pious concern for the soul of his parent, he consulted Pope Gregory on the subject; and the Pontiff commanded that his body should be removed from such unhallowed ground, and masses daily said for his soul. The son hastened to comply; a tomb was prepared in consecrated ground, and the remains disinterred from their resting-place in the castle of Montdidier. When the coffin was brought above ground, a strong desire possessed the mind of Simon to gaze once more upon the face of his buried sire; but the Earl had now occupied the house appointed for all living upwards of three years, and decay had made rapid progress. The ghastly spectacle presented before the eyes of the terrified youth, when the lid of the coffin was raised, produced such an effect on his mind, that, from that moment, it took a completely new bias.
“ His splendid dominions, his noble exploits, his young betrothed, were all forgotten in the horrid spectacle of the final destiny of our frail mortality ; and he resolved, from that hour, to devote himself exclusively to preparation for a world where death and decay are no more. Just in the crisis, when his mind was struggling beneath the weight of these emotions, he was summoned to the court of King William, to consummate his marriage with the Lady Adela, who had reached the mature age of fifteen. Thither, accordingly, he repaired, -not to fulfil his engagements, but to request that, on account of the plea of consanguinity which he urged, he might be permitted first to take a journey to Rome, to sue for a dispensation. This was willingly granted; but no sooner had he passed the limits to which the power of his intended father-in-law might be supposed to extend, than he turned aside to a German monastery, and immediately took the decisive vows. Here he gave himself up to the most rigorous fasting and penance ; but, still not satisfied, he shortly afterwards resolved to lead the life of a hermit; and, during the remainder of his existence, a single meal a day, composed of bread and water, with wild apples or a few vegetables, formed his sole sustenance. His conduct, however, excited no displeasure in the minds of William and Matilda ; for, in the year 1081, when the object of his once passionate attachment had left her father's court as the bride of another, the lonely hermit, now celebrated over half Europe for his sanctity and austerity, paid a visit to these his early friends, and endeavoured to reconcile the dissensions which had sprung up between King William and his eldest son Robert. The following year terminated the life of this singular character : he died at Rome, where he had gone on an important mission. In honour of his sanctity, he was allowed a burial in the vault of the Popes; and Queen Matilda showed her respect for his memory, by making a munificent present of gold and silver for the erection of his tomb, which, to the present day, is an object of curiosity for travellers.” (Page 38.)
ANCIENT METHOD OF CURING A FEVER.
“ Towards the beginning of the following year, 1098, Adela was seized with a violent fever, which was so obstinate, that for some time her recovery was despaired of. The anxiety of her attendants summoned to her bed-side the most celebrated Physicians of France and Normandy, and even from beyond the seas ; but all their multitudinous potions were in vain : the disease still continued to increase. In this extremity, recourse was had to the miraculous power of a certain St. Agiles, who was buried at the monastery of Resbac, in La Brie, and whose reputation for wonderful cures had spread far and wide. Hither, accordingly, the Lady Adela was conveyed ; and for two days and nights her feverish couch was spread in the chapel of Resbac, immediately before the tomb of the saint, and at night she was permitted neither food nor drink. During these hours of stillness, we are told that she felt the divine virtue coming upon her; the burning fever-heat passed gradually away; and what could not be obtained by the aid of medicine, was obtained through the intercession of the blessed St. Agiles.'
“Whatever share in her recovery the sceptics of the present day may be disposed to attribute to the coolness and repose of the place, and still more to the absence of all the hosts of Physicians and their quackeries, the Countess” (she had married the Earl of Blois, by whom she had Stephen, afterwards King of England) “herself ascribed it solely to the intercessions of the saint ; and testified her gratitude by the offering of a splendid altarcloth, richly embroidered; which,' says the monkish historian from whom we have derived these particulars, is still preserved in the monastery, and on festival-days is always behind the sacred cross.?" (Page 48.)
THE SUPERNATURAL DREAMS OF MONASTIC LIFE.
“Of the private conventual life of the Countess-Nun,” (for Adela took the veil in her old age, some time after the death of her husband,) ► few details are preserved, beyond the allusions to her humility and diligence in fulfilling even the more menial offices of her situation. One incident, however, occurred in her convent, in which she was a party concerned, which affords a curious illustration of the prevailing superstitions of the times. One of the Nuns of Marcigny, Alberca by name, had a nocturnal vision, which greatly alarmed and perplexed her. She dreamed that Geoffry, the Prior of the convent, lately deceased, appeared to her, and related that, on his recent departure from the body, his spirit was seized by an innumerable multitude of demons, who were dragging him away as their prey, when St. Bede came to his rescue; whereupon a long discussion took place between the good and bad angels, in reference to the disposal of him. The chief sin which was found difficult to get over was that, in his early life, before he entered upon his monastic seclusion, he had been arbitrary and unjust in the exaction of unlawful taxes; but the saint
overruled this objection on the convenient plea, that his assuming the cowl was a sufficient compensation for all his former crimes; and on this ground, at length, he was admitted into paradise. But even in the realms of bliss he was troubled with the idea that his son Geoffry was pursuing the very course which had so nearly proved the cause of his own perdition; and he had therefore obtained permission to revisit the world, and to reveal these circumstances to Alberca, whom he solemnly charged to take care that his son might be informed of the danger threatening him. Why he should have chosen to make his revelation to another, rather than the individual immediately concerned, he did not say ; but this supernatural commission was the occasion of much terrified perplexity to the poor Nun. In her distress, she had recourse to the Lady Adela, as the most illustrious of the sisterhood, and to her she repeated her wondrous tale. The Countess received it with implicit eagerness, and immediately undertook the affair. She sought out young Geoffry, and solemnly interrogated him as to whether he still continued his unlawful practices. His surprise at such a challenge was very great ; for the secret of these guilty deeds had been scrupulously kept by his father and himself, and he much marvelled how they could have been divulged. Whether he profited by the warning thus given, we are not informed. The whole tale, however, was carefully preserved by a monkish chronicler of the day, as affording indubitable testimony to the occurrence of supernatural dreains.” (Page 67.)
These pious frauds were so commonly used, that their true character, as most unholy violations of truth, had come to be completely overlooked. And not often were they employed with so good a design. Wrong in itself, this plan of working on superstitious fear, where there was no conscience to be wrought upon, was, in the present case, designed to check the oppressor, and to terrify the proud man in his contumely. Still, the contrivance is plain enough. These supernatural dreams were well enough understood by the parties concerned ; and too frequently their object was in keeping with their moral character.
We shall embrace an early opportunity of furnishing the reader with a few more illustrative extracts.
MISS SARAH WESLEY TO ONE WHO SEEMED TO HAVE
IMBIBED INFIDEL PRINCIPLES.
Sir,—The most interesting intelligence you can convey to me is, an assurance that you adore a gracious Providence, which has preserved your life to this day ; that you receive the truths of the Christian religion, obey its precepts, and associate with good people.
It is in vain to expect friendship, justice, or honour, from others. When a man casts away the fear of God, how can we expect of him even humanity to his fellow-creatures? You, alas ! have lived much among infidels and libertines. You have seen the disorders and wretchedness which they spread throughout their baleful sphere. You have seen the peace of families which they destroy, the confidence of innocence which they betray : and all must have convinced you that such persons are no less injurious to society than miserable in themselves. Libertines, indeed, seem less incorrigible than infidels : as they are less obtuse, they are more
vulnerable to pain; and pain (of which they commonly secure a good portion in their youth) may operate salutarily * on such natures, as they advance in age. As we advance in life, the importance of morality (which has no basis but religion) rises in our estimation. An immortal being, grown old in vice, is a shocking spectacle. I have witnessed the death of one of these ; and it has made an ineffaceable impression. I wished every infidel and every libertine I knew to have stood by the wretched object; and I contrasted it with the end of the just, which I have often been so happy as to attend. I thought, if they would be present at such scenes, the consequence must be virtue.
The worthy Dr. Gregory departed this life two years ago, universally regretted. He has left his amiable wife in good circumstances, and I am so happy as to spend much of my time in her beloved society. She always knows my direction when I am in the country. My brother Charles has arrived at much honour. He is a striking proof of the happiness attending a virtuous life ; even his countenance being as cheerful and fresh as it was seventeen years ago.
Farewell !-As I said before, the most interesting communication you could convey to me would be, that you were a Christian.
The eternal welfare of my fellow-creatures I sincerely wish to promote ; and this interest proves the best friendship.
I am, Sir,
The last time, the last words, however unimportant, are commonly remembered.
Notwithstanding your intentions of re-visiting this country, I consider it as very unlikely. The distracted state of your own, the various events which may take place, a thousand circumstances which may happen, lead me to consider this opportunity as the last I may ever have of conversing with you ; and I wish it to be worthy your recollection.
The length of our acquaintance, indeed, will not authorise the subject of this letter. Let the interest I take in your welfare excuse it ; or, should you ascribe this interest to the weakness of superstition or the folly of enthusiasm, deem it not the impertinence of zeal.
I have often thought of you,—thought of you as possessing everything which the world calls enviable or delightful ;-youth, friends, leisure, fortune. Permit me, with the solicitude more properly belonging to a matron than to myself, permit me to intreat you to look beyond all these for happiness. Anticipate that period which takes from us our capacities of enjoyment and our taste for pleasure, and leaves us nothing but our reflections and our virtues.
The dangers of prosperity are great; and you seem aware of them. If poverty contracts and depresses the spirit, riches sap its fortitude, destroy its vigour, and nourish its caprices.
But the chief disadvantage of an elevated station is this : it removes us from the scenes of misery and indigence. We are apt to charge the wealthy and great with want of feeling ; but I am persuaded it is, rather, want of consideration. The wretched are taught to avoid, and the poor fear to
* Only by the grace of God. Pain cannot sanctify.-T.M.
accost, them; and, in the circles of perpetual gaiety, they forget that these exist.
You need not be reminded that there is no situation which exempts us from disappointment and sorrow, in some kind or degree. But I must remind you that there is but ONE BELIEF which can support us under it.
Neither hypocrisy nor bigotry, neither the subtle arguments of infidels nor the shameful lives of Christians, have yet been able to disprove the truths of Revealed Religion. They contain all that is cheering, all that is consoling to the heart of man. You admit their importance ; you revere their mysteries : cherish their influences.
I am, &c.,
S. WESLEY. P.S.—The book which I have taken the liberty to enclose is written in a style which alone ought to recommend it. The author was distinguished by taste and literature, as well as piety. You will find in it none of the cant and narrow-mindedness of sects and parties. Give it (it is my last request) one serious perusal.
EARLY CURRENCY OF NEW-ENGLAND. Such coin as the emigrants to New-England brought with them, quickly went back again in payment for imported goods; but, so long as the emigration was kept up, the inconvenience was little felt......... The sudden stop put to immigration, occasioned by the political changes in England, caused a great fall of prices, and a corresponding difficulty in paying debts. Taxes had all along been paid in grain and cattle, at rates fixed by the General Court; and grain, at different prices for the different sorts, was now made a legal tender for the payment of all new debts. To prevent sacrifices of property in cases of inability to pay, corn, cattle, and other personal goods,—or, in defect of such goods, the house and lands of the debtor, when taken in execution, were to be delivered over to the creditor, at such value as they might be appraised at by“ three understanding and indifferent men,” one chosen by the creditor, another by the debtor, and a third by the marshal......... Beaver-skins were also paid and received as money; and, from their value as a remittance, they held the next place to coin. Musket-balls, at a farthing each, were at one time a legal tender to the amount of a shilling. A more available currency was found in the wampum or peage-cylindrical beads, half an inch long, of two colours, white and bluish black, made by the Indians from parts of certain sea-shells. The people of Plymouth first learned the use and value of this article from the Dutch of Manhattan, and they soon found it very profitable in trade with the Eastern Indians,—the shells of which it was made not being common north of Cape Cod. Presently it came to be employed as a circulating medium, first in the Indian traffic, and then among the colonists generally, Three of the black beads, or six of the white, passed for a penny. For convenience of reckoning, they were strung in known parcels—a penny, threepence, a shilling, and five shillings, in white; twopence, sixpence, two-andsixpence, and ten shillings, in black. A fathom of white was worth ten shillings, or two dollars and a half; a fathom of black, twice as much ; but, as the quantity in circulation increased, the value presently depreciated, and the number of beads to the penny was augmented.-Hildreth's History of the United States of America.