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abbeys of Glastonbury and Abingdon were dissolved, and the monks expelled from them. Edwin continued his connexions with Ethelgiva : the Wittenagemot, which was both the supreme council, and the supreme judicial tribunal of the nation, took cognizance of it, and threatened Ethelgiva with ignominious punishment, if she should persist in her scandalous conduct. She paid no attention to their representations, and the scandal continued. By the direction of the Wittenagemot, she was branded with a hot iron, and conveyed out of the kingdom. The public discontent increased: all the provinces on the north of the Humber revolted, and transferred their allegiance to Edgar, the brother of Edwin..
A civil war ensued : Ethelgiva returned from her banishment, and was seized and murdered by a party of the insurgent soldiers. To put an end to the distraction of the nation, the Wittenagemot interfered, and divided the kingdom between the two brothers. On the death of Edwin, which happened soon after this event, Edgar became the sole possessor of the Anglo-saxon throne. Modern historians have worked the misfortunes of Ethelgiva and Elgiva into a very tragic tale, and described Dunstan as the author of their calamities; but must not all, who read doctor Lingard's account of them, and examine his authorities, acknowledge that the tale is considerably embellished, and wholly acquit Dunstan of having acted any part in it? During the whole of these proceedings, Dunstan was in Flanders.
The Conduct of St. Dunstan towards King Edgar. From the time of his being sent into banishment, till the death of Edwin, Dunstan remained abroad. One of the earliest acts of king Edgar, after the death of his brother, was to recal Dunstan. After his return, he was successively promoted to the bishoprics of Worcester and London, and to the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury.
Edgar uniformly displayed great talents for government; but he too often yielded to his pas. sions. It is a strong argument in favour of the historical fidelity of the monastic writers, that, although Edgar was one of their greatest benefactors, all of them have represented his vices and follies in the strongest colours. On one occasion Edgar violated, in a convent, a lady of noble birth, who resided among the nuns.
After the first ferment of his passion had subsided, Dunstan waited on the monarch, and pointed out to him the enormity of his crime : Edgar submitted both to the prelate's admonitions, and to the penance which he imposed. The prelate enjoined him to abstain, during ten years, from wearing his crown; and to observe a rigorous fast during two days in every week; to distribute large alms among the poor ; to publish a code of laws for the more impartial administration of justice ; and to transmit, at his own expense, to the different counties of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy, copies of the holy scriptures. These salutary severities restored the monarch to a sense of his duty, and to the esteem of his people. It seems difficult to contend with success, that the conduct of Dunstan, on this occasion, is not entitled to unqualified commendation.
St. Dunstan's Regulations for the Celibacy of the
Clergy. ONE of the first measures adopted by St. Dunstan, to effect a reformation of the discipline of the Anglo-Saxon church, was to restore the celibacy of
The roman-catholic church considers the married state to be honourable ; but, in conformity to the doctrine repeatedly announced by Christ and his apostles, prefers to it the state of virginity. She also considers, that many things in the married state are impediments to the perfect discharge of the duties of the sacred ministry, and has, therefore, enjoined, that the clergy should observe continence. It is always better to cite one than many authorities : I beg leave, therefore, to refer you, and all my readers who wish for complete information on this subject, to the dissertation upon it, which doctor Milner has inserted in his excellent “ History of Winchester.” I believe that, if they peruse it impartially, they will think it abundantly demonstrates, that bishops, priests, and deacons were obliged, from the very infancy of the church, to
observe the law of continency; and that, towards the end of the sixth century, this law was introduced, with christianity itself, by St. Augustine and his companions, among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. How can those, who contest this fact, get over, either the unanimous resolution of the fathers assembled at the second council of Carthage, in favour of this article of catholic discipline? Or their unanimous testimony, that it was taught by the apostles ? The clergy of the established church of England were first allowed to marry by an act passed in the second year of the reign of Edward VI. It is not a little remarkable, that the preamble to this very act states,
act states, “ that it would be better for the “ estimation of priests, and also for the administra“tion of the gospel, for them to live chaste.” Queen Elizabeth's dislike of the marriages of priests is known to you, and every person of learning. They, therefore, who express themselves harshly upon this doctrine, should a little consider, that the catholic doctrine, which they now so strongly reprobate, was favoured by many, who are actual objects of their incessant praise.
But, although the dissertation, to which we have referred, should fail to prove to our readers the very high antiquity, or the universal prevalence which it assigns to the law for the celibacy of the clergy, can any dispassionate person blame St. Dunstan for enforcing it, if he considers the great length of time, during which it has been not only approved, but thought an essential point of christian discipline in every age, and in every country, by
persons of distinguished character; and that, before the doctrines of the reformation were propagated, neither the doctrine itself, nor the manner, in which it was established, was ever a subject even of the slightest obloquy ? Generally speaking, the characters of eminent persons should be estimated, not by the maxims of another age, but by the maxims of their own; and, where their conduct cannot be wholly approved of, great indulgence should be shown to it, when it appears to have been approved by the good and the wise of their own time.
St. Dunstan's Substitution of the Benedictine Monks
to the Secular Canons. You, and other protestant writers, represent this as a deed of extreme injustice; as a crafty design to increase the power of the sovereign pontiff, by. placing the whole ecclesiastical economy of the kingdom in the hands of the regulars, a body of ecclesiastics pre-eminently devoted to the pontiff, and absolutely subject to his control.
Archbishop Parker and those, who join him in this representation, describe the secular clergy of these times as honourable men, respectable ministers of the church, and guilty of no crime, but that of living 'piously in legitimate marriage. The description given of them by their contemporaries, and by the writers in the period which immediately followed it, is very different. You yourself represent, the clergy of Dunstan's age as