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blinded the minds of unbelievers." After some time Edwin was very near being murdered by an assassin whom the king of the West-Saxons fent against him, and the fame night his queen was delivered of a daughter. While the king was thanking his gods for the birth of a daughter, Paulinus began to give thanks to the Lord Christ. Edwin told him, that he himself would worship Christ and renounce all his gods, if he would give him victory over the king of the West Saxons, who had attempted to murder him, and, for the present, he gave the young infant to Paulinus to be baptized. She was the first Northumbrian who was admitted into the visible Church by the ordinance of baptism; and twelve of the king's family were baptized on that occasion. Edwin collecting his forces vanquished the West Saxons, and killed or reduced into subjection all who had conspired against him. Returning victorious, he determined no longer to ferve idols. He was, however, in no hurry to be baptized, but resolved to examine seriously the grounds and reasons of Christianity. He attended Paulinus's instructions, held conferences with
prudent and knowing persons, and was himself observed, frequently to commune with his own heart, in filence, and anxiously to enquire what was true religion. All who use his methods will not fail to know the truth.
Edwin was doubtless in good earnest, and at length held a consultation with his intimate friends and counsellors. “What is,” says he,“ this hitherto unheard of doctrine, this new worship?" Cofti, che chief of the priests answered,
" See you, O king, what this is, which is lately preached to us? I declare most frankly what I have found to be true, that the religion we have hitherto followed is of no value. If the gods could do any thing, they would more particularly distinguish me with their favours, who have served them so diligently. If the new doctrine be really better, let us embrace it." Another of the nobles, observed, that he had taken notice of a swallow, which had rapidly flown through the king's house, entering by one door and going out at the other. This happened, he said, when the king was sitting at supper in the hall: a fire burning in the midst, and the room being heated, a tempest of rain or snow raged without : the poor swallow felt indeed a temporary warmth, and then escaped out of the room. “Such," says he, " is the life of man; but what goes before, or comes after, is buried in profound darkness. Our ignorance then, upon such principles as hitherto we have embraced, is confessed; but if this new doctrine really teach us any thing more certain, it will deserve to be followed." These and similar * reflections were made by the king's counfellors. Coifi expressed also a desire to hear Paulinus preach, which, by the king's order, was complied with. The Chief Priest, having heard the sermon, exclaimed, “ I knew formerly, that what we worshipped was nothing; because the more ftudiously I fought for truth, the less I found it. Now I openly declare, that in this preaching appears the truth, which is able to afford us life, salvation, and eternal bliss. I advise that we instantly destroy the temples and altars, which we have served in vain." The king feeling the conviction with no less strength, openly confessed the faith of Christ, and asked Coifi, who should be the first man that should profane the idolatrous places. “ I ought to do it,” replied the Priest * I, who worshipped them in folly, will give an
example to others in destroying them, by the wil. dom given me from the true God. He immediately went to the temple and profaned it, rejoicing in the knowledge of the Most High, and ordered his companions to burn the building with its inclofures. The place was still shewn in our author's time, not far from York to the east of the Derwent.
In the eleventh year of Edwin's reign, this prince with all his nobles and very many of the commonalty was baptized, 180 years after the
arrival of the Saxons in Britain, and in the year of 627.
Christ 627. This was performed at York in a wooden oratory, in which Edwin had been first pro. posed as a catechumen for baptism. By the advice of Paulinus he afterwards began to build on the fame spot a church of stone, which however he did not live to finish, but it was completed by Oswald his succeffour. Paulinus, first bishop of York, continued for six years, till the death of Edwin, to preach the Gospel ; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed *. Edwin's children were afterwards baptized, and fo strong was the desire of his subjects for Christianity, that Paulinus coming with the king and queen to a royal villa, called Adregin, spent there thirty-six days in teaching and baptizing, from morning till night. At another time he baptized, in the river Swale *, which flows near Catterick, a number of persons who resorted thither. Many of these conversions may be supposed to have been the result of mere complaisance to the court. But there is every reason to believe, that there was a real effusion of the Spirit at this time. And, in this age, when men profess much to think for themselves, it will not be easy to find a
perfon • They are Bede's words; the scriptural reader knows whence he borrowed them. Id. 14
+ Sualva, qui vicum juxta Cataractam præter Agit.
person in high life attending with so cool and reasonable a spirit to the nature and evidences of true religion, as Edwin and his nobles did at a time which we call extremely barbarous. They thought impartially, and they had the indispensable qualification of being serious in their researches.
Edwin induced also Carpwald, king of the East Angles, to embrace the Gospel. Redwald, the father of this prince, had been baptized in Kent, but had been seduced by his wife into idolatry. Carpwald was succeeded by his brother Sibert, a man of fingular zeal and piety, whose labours for the spiritual benefit of his subjects were much affisted by Felix, a Burgundian Christian. This perfon had received a commission from Honorius, the successor of Juftus at Canterbury, to preach among the East Angles, which he did with great success, and lived and died Bishop of Dummock*.
The zealous Paulinus preached also in Lincolnshire, the first province south of the Humber +, where the governor of Lincoln with his house was converted to God. Bede informs us that a friend of his heard an old person make this declaration, “ I was baptized, together with a multitude of others, in the river Chanta ş by Paulinus, in the presence of Edwin.” Wonderful things are told us of the perfect peace, order, and justice which prevailed during the reign of the wife and pious king of Northumberland.
Attempts were made all this time by the bishops of Rome to induce the Irish to unite themselves to the English Church, but in vain. John, the bishop of Rome, wrote letters also into Ireland against the Pelagian heresy, which was reviving there.
Edwin, • Now Dunwich in Suffolk.
+ Id. 16 C. 1 Lindocolina, § Now Trent.
Edwin, after having fix years ferved the cause of Christ, was sain in a battle, which he fought with Carduella, a British prince, a Christian by profession, and with Penda, king of the Saxon principality of Mercia, a professed Pagan. It is remarkable that the British prince used his victory with favage barbarity, and our author complains that, to his times, the British Christians looked on the English only as Pagans. Paulinus after this mournful event retired with Edwin's queen into Kent, whence he had brought her. There being a vacancy at Rochester, he was by Eadbald, who still reigned in Kent, fixed in that See, which he held to his death. His deacon James, whom he had left in Northumberland, preferved still some remains of Christianity in a province now
overrun by Pagans. Such are the viciffitudes of the Church in this world: her perfect rest is above.
The situation of the north was, after this, deplorable. Cedwalla, a British king, tyrannized with the fiercest barbarity over the subjects of Edwin, till at length Oswald, his nephew, vanquished and flew Cedwalla, and established himself in the kingdom. He had, in his younger days, lived an exile in Ireland, and had there been baptized. Desirous of evangelizing his people, he sent for a pastor out of Ireland, who, after he had made some fruitless attempts, returned into hisown country,complaining of the intractable disposition of the Northumbrians. “ It seems to me,” said Aidan, a monk, who was present at his complaints," that your austere manners and conduct toward them was unsuitable to their state of extreme ignorance. They should be treated like infants with milk, till they become capable of stronger meat.” The consequence was, what probably Aidan little expected; he was himself deputed by an Irish council to enter on the million.