the composition of religious and literary works. The life of such a person can admit of little variety. It was not, however, for want of opportunity, that he lived thus obscure. His character was celebrated through the western world: the bishop of Rome invited him warmly to the metropolis of the Church; but, in the eyes of Bede, the great world had no charms. It does not appear that he ever left England; and, however infected with the fashionable devotion to the Roman See, he was evidently fincere and disinterested.

Constantly engaged in reading or writing, he made all his studies subservient to devotion. As he was sensible, that it is by the grace of God rather than by natural faculties that the most profitable knowledge of the Scriptures is acquired, he mixed prayer with his studies.

He never knew what it was to do nothing. He wrote on all the branches of knowledge then cultivated in Europe. In Greek and Hebrew he had a skill very uncommon in that barbarous age; and, by his instructions and example, he raised up many scholars. Knowledge indeed in those times was more familiar in the British ifles than in any part of Europe.

The catalogue of Bede's works exhibits the proofs of his amazing industry. His Church-history is to us the most valuable, because it is the only British monument of the Church which we have for the seventh century. His expositions and homilies, however, must in that dearth of knowledge have been abundantly useful. The ignorance of the times is indeed but too visible in him; and he followed Augustine and other fathers so closely, and collected so much from various authors, that his want of original genius is more than problematical. Genuine godliness, rather than taste and genius, appear on the face of his writings. His



labours in the sciences shew a love of learning; however inconsiderable his acquisitions must appear, in comparison with the attainments of the pre

sent age.

In his last fickness he was afflicted with a difficulty of breathing for two weeks. His mind was, however, serene and cheerful; his affections were heavenly; and, amidst these infirmities, he daily taught his disciples. A great part of the night was employed in prayer and thanksgiving; and the first employment of the morning was to ruminate on the Scriptures, and to address his God in prayer.

“ God scourgeth every son whom he receiveth,” was frequently in his mouth.

Even amidst his bodily weakness he was employed in writing two little treatises. Perceiving his end to draw near, he said, “ if my Maker please, I will go to him from the flesh, who, when I was not, formed me out of nothing—My soul desires to see Christ my king in his beauty.”

He sung glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and expired with a sedateness, composure, and devotion, that amazed all, who saw and heard.

This is the account of his death by one of his disciples; and a very few quotations from his expository writings will shew on what solid grounds these religious affections were founded. In expounding Acts ii. 28. “ thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance;" he says, “ These things are not only to be understood of our Lord, who needed' no other guide to overcome the kingdom of death, but having received at once the fulness of divine strength and wisdom, was able to conquer death by himself, rise again to life, and ascend to his Father, but also of his elect, who, by his gift, find the well of life, by which they rise to the bliss, which they lost in Adam, and shall be filled with heavenly joy. This shall be our perfect bliss, when we shall see him face to face.” Philip knew this well, when he said, “ Lord, shew us the Father, and it fufficeth us. That pleasure of seeing the face of God sufficeth: there shall be nothing more; nor is there a call for any thing more, when he is seen, who is above all*.”


“ Other innumerable methods of saving men being set aside, this was selected by infinite wisdom, namely, that, without any diminution of his divinity, he assumed also humanity,and in humanity procured so much good to men, that temporal death, though not due from him, was yet paid, to deliver them from eternal death, which was due from them. Such was the efficacy of that blood, that the devil who slew Christ by a temporary death, which was not due, cannot detain in eternal death any of those, who are clothed with Christ, though that eternal death be due for their fins uju."

Such were the evangelical views, which, in a night of superstition, burst forth from the northern extremity of England. But the doctrines revived by Augustine flourished still in Europe in a good degree, though in no part more than in the British ifles. Monastic superstition grew, indeed, excessively among our fathers at the same time, and, in the end, entirely corrupted the doctrines themselves. But that was not yet the case: superstition itself, though deplorably childish and absurd, was not incompatible with sincerity and the fear of God. The


Retractat. on A&ts of the Apostles. I cannot prevail on myself to omit this passage, though the expression of Philip be not so pertinent to the purpose of the author, as some other portions of Scripture might have been. † On Rom, v.

real nature of the Gospel, and its practical exercise in faith, humility, and true mortification of fin, were understood and felt by the Saxon presbyter, whose comments on St. Paul's epistles are, in depth of understanding, and penetration into the sacred fenfe, even with all the defects of the times, greatly fuperior to several admired expositions of this, which calls itfelf an enlightened age.

The seventh chapter to the Romans may deseryedly be called a touchftone of spiritual understanding. Too many modern divines, by suppohing that the Apostle is only describing the conflict between reason and passion, after the manner of the antient philosophers, have demonstrated their own total ignorance of St. Paul's argument. He only, who feels, abhors, and sincerely struggles with indwelling fin, who is conscious of its unutterable malignity, and is humbled under this conviction, can understand the Apostle aright, and prize the real grace of God in Jesus Christ. Such was Bede: the very best expofitors in the most evangelical times do not much exceed him, in clearness and solidity, in the exposition of this chapter. I will not delay the reader by quoting largely from his explication. Suffice it to give a hint or two. He observes, from the Apostle, that the desire of sinning itself is increased by the prohibitions of the law, which therefore increases fin, without giving any strength; and the purport of this part of the divine economy is, that men groaning under the law might come to the Mediator. He strongly contends, that the wretched carnal person, sold under sin, in this chapter, was no personated character, but Paul himself, and he confirms this by observing, from the epistle to the Philippians, that the Apostle confeffed “ he was not perfect, and had not attained unto the resurrection of the dead:” and


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from another epistle, that he was even buffeted by Satan, and had a thorn in his flesh, left he should be exalted above measure. This inward warfare, our author contends, must last through life. the resurrection, every thing,” says he, “ shall be perfected. In the mean time it is a great thing to keep the field, and remain unconquered, though not discharged from war.”

But though he fully reached the scope of Auguftine, from whose labours he profited abundantly, he seems never to go beyond it. Indeed his expofitions are extracts and compilations froin the fathers, chiefly from Auguftine. In this sense they were his own, that he understood and experienced their truth and efficacy. But judgment and industry, not genius and invention, were the talents of this writer. Though the thought I am going to mention is most probably not his own, yet it gives so instructive a view of the state of all mankind ranked in four classes, that I cannot prevail on myself to withhold it from the reader. Speaking of the conflict with indwelling sin, described in Rom. vii, he observes, “ that there are those who fight not at all, and are drawn away by their lusts; others who fight indeed, but are overcome, because they fight without faith, and in their own strength; others who fight and are still in the field, not overcome, which was the case of St. Paul and all true Christians in this world; and lastly, others who have overcome and are at rest above.” Bede, like Augustine, allegorizes to excess, and is very often desultory and vague in his comnients: his views of Solomon's song are solid, though in the explication too minute: still more faulty perhaps are his expositions on the tabernacle and on Solonion's temple. His homilies, at the time, must have been very edifying, notwithstanding the puerile fancies, with which they are discoloured.

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