Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

CHA P. II.

[ocr errors]

THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL IN GER

MANY AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD.

[ocr errors]

TH

[ocr errors]

THE northern parts of Europe had still re

mained in the darkness of idolatry. In this century they were visited by the Most High. The Britons, Scots, and Irish were honoured as the principal instruments in the work, and this circumstance affords an additional evidence to the account already given of the genuine spirit of godlinefs, which prevailed in the British ifles. The French had also their share in the blessed cause. I shall throw together the very imperfect hints which are preserved to us of these important tranfactions. Though the first instance more properly relates to France than to Germany, it may with no great impropriety be mentioned in this chapter. Omer, bishop of Taryanne, the old metropolis of the Morini in Artois, laboured with success in the cul. tivation of a wilderness. Vice and idolatry were very predominant in his diocese; but by the affiftance of Bertin a Swiss, his kinsman, he was enabled to eradicate inveterate evils and to civilize a race of barbarians.

The erection of many convents in Germany for the Scotch and Irish, fome of which are still extant, is to be accounted for from the ecclefiaftical connections of their ancestors. Many persons travelled from Great Britain and Ireland with the ļaudable purpose of preaching Christ in Batavia, Belgium, and Germany*. And however superstition.

might * Mosheim, Cent. 7th. C. 1,

might tarnish their labours, there must have been
a nobler principle to have induced men to undergo
so much danger, with hardly any poffible prospect
of lucre or of fame. Mere philofophers are gene-
rally but too liberal in censure and raillery: we
feldom however hear of them engaging in any
work of fo dignterested a nature. The love of
God in Christ alone can support the spirit of men
in such enterprizes.

Columban, an Irish monk, distinguished from
him of the same name, spoken of before, who was
called “the ancient,” toward the close of the fore-
going century had extirpated the remains of ex-
piring paganism in France. He also passed the
Rhine, and evangelized the Suevi*, the Boiit,
and other German nations. He laboured in the
cause to his death, which happened in the year A.D.
615. Gal, one of his companions, laboured with 615.
much zeal about the lakes of Zurich and Con.
stance. Near the latter lake, at a little distance
from Bregent, he erected a monastery, which still
bears his name.

In fortitude and laboriousness he was inferior to none of the missionaries of this age. But we find very little worthy of being recorded concerning him.

The account of Kilian, another Irish missionary, is somewhat more satisfactory. He received a commission from the bishop of Rome toward the end of the century, to preach to the infidels; and with some of his disciples he came to Wirtzbourg upon the Mayne, where a Pagan duke called Gofbert was governor. The duke received the Gospel, was baptized, and many followed his example,

But

[ocr errors]

* This people inhabited the places between the Rhine and the Elbe.

† Now Bavarians.

But he had married his brother's wife. The miffionary united discretion with zeal, and deferred his admonitions on this head, till he found that his pupil the Duke was firmly settled in the faith *. Kilian at length ventured to act the part of John the Baptist, and the event was in a great measure fimilar. Gosbert promised to obey, but delayed the execution of his promise till he should return from an expedition. The mischief of procrastination against the light of conscience was never more strongly illustrated. In his absence Geilana, for that was the name of the German Herodias, procured the

murder of Kilian and his companions. They were A.D. engaged in devotional exercises, and died with the 688. patience of martyrs in the year 688. Gosbert was

prevailed on by the artifices of Geilana to suffer the murderers to escape with impurity. But all the actors in this tragedy, Gofbert among the rest, came to an unhappy end; and there is no doubt but that in this case, as well as many others, the blood of the martyrs became the feed of the Church. Numbers of the eastern Franks had embraced Christianity, and sealed the ministry of Kilian. Barbatus, born in the territory of Benevento in Italy, in the beginning of this century, was also a great ornament to it. Meditation on the Scriptuaes was his chief delight. He was looked upon to excel in preaching. He acted as curate of Morcona near Benevento, and gave great offence

his faithfulness. By the malice of the people he was obliged to retire to Benevento. This town was poffefsed by the Lombards who were chiefly Arians; many of them were indeed idolaters, though some were of the general Church with their duke Ari, chis, a friend of Gregory I. Barbatus labouring there found the Christians so called

very idolatrouş.

They • Fleury, B. XL. 37.

They worshipped a golden viper, and a tree on which the skin of a wild beast was hung. He

. preached and prayed a long time: at length the emperor Constans besieging Benevento, the wicked inhabitants were intimidated so far, as to repent of their idolatry. Barbatus was allowed to cut down the tree, and to melt the golden viper of which he made a facramental chalice. This man was A.D. appointed bishop of Benevento in 663, and de

663. stroyed every vestige of idolatry in the whole state. He lived afterwards to bear a testimony by his prefence in the council of Constantinople against the Monothelite heresy, and died in 682. See Butler's Lives.

Toward the conclusion of the century Willibrod, an English missionary, and eleven of his countrymen crossed over the sea into Holland, to labour among the Friezelanders. But being ill treated by the king of Friezeland, who put one of the company to death*, they retreated into Denmark. Returning however into Friezeland in the A.D. year 693, they propagated divine truth with suc- 693. cess. Willibrod was ordained bishop of Wilteburgt by the Roman prelate, and laboured in his diocese to his death; while his associates spread the Gospel through Westphalia and the neighbouring countries

It was in this century, the former part of it, according to the researches of one author S, the latter part, according to those of another, that

Bavaria * Mosheim, Cent. VII. C. 1. + Now Utrecht.

Disen, an Irish monk, taught the Gospel in Ireland, France, and Germany. His labours were most remarkably crowned with success in the neighbourhood of Mentz. A. Butler.

Velserius Rerum Boicarum, B. IV. 11 Fleury, B. XLI. 31. If Fleury's chronology be right, the greatest part of the narrative before us will belong to the next century.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Bavaria received the Gospel from the ministry of Rupert, or Robert, bishop of Worms. He was invited by Theodo, duke of Bavaria. His ministry prospered, and he was appointed bishop of Saltzburg. The increasing harvest required more miffionaries : he therefore returned to his own country, and brought twelve affiftants : from that time Christianity was established in Bavaria. Corbinian, another Frenchman, watered, where Rupert had planted. Duke Theodo received him gladly. His son and successor Grimoald was induced to part with his wife, whom he had married contrary to the Levitical laws of matrimonial consanguinity; and so far as can be judged froin very imperfect accounts, the Gospel was received with great fincerity in this country*.

Some t time after, Emmeram an Aquitanian Frenchman, leaving his country and his large possessions, travelled to Ratisbon, to spread the Gospel. He was well received by another Theodo, duke.of Bavaria. He observed, that the Bavarians were, many of them at least, still addicted to idolatrous rites, which they mixed with Christianity. The old inhabitants were particularly guilty of these things. He laboured among them three years, preaching in all the towns and villages, and reserved for himself only the bare necessaries of life.

His * This missionary was remarkable for private devotion, as well as public labours, and reserved to himself a considerable portion of time every day, for prayer and meditation, But from Alban Butler's account I learn, that Grimoald persecuted Corbinian on account of his faithfulness, and that Biltrude the relict of Grimoald's brother, hired assassins to murder him. Both Grimoald and Biltrude perished miserably. If the former was induced to repentance at all, he seems to have relapsed. After the deaths of his perfecutors Corbinian returned to Frifingen, and laboured till his death, which happened in the year 730.

+ Velser. Id,'

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »