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Unformatted text preview: ustine had thought it prudent to inculcate. The pontiff also answered some questions, which the missionary had put concerning the government of the new church of Kent. Besides other queries, which it is not material here to relate, Augustine asked, Whether cousin-germans might be allowed to marry? Gregory answered, that that liberty had indeed been formerly granted by the Roman law; but that experience had shewn, that no issue could ever come from such marriages; and he therefore prohibited them. Augustine asked, Whether a woman pregnant might be baptized? Gregory answered, that he saw no objection. How soon after the birth the child might receive baptism? It was answered, Immediately, if necessary. How soon a husband might have commerce with his wife after her delivery? Not till she had given suck to her child: a practice to which Gregory exhorts all women. How soon a manmight enter the church, or receive the sacrament, after having had commerce with his wife? It was replied, that, unless he had approached her without desire, merely for the sake of propagating his species, he was not without sin: But in all cases it was requisite for him, before he entered the church, or communicated, to purge himself by prayer and ablution; and he ought not, even after using these precautions, to participate immediately of the sacred duties.u There are some other questions and replies still more indecent and more ridiculous.w And on the whole it appears, that Gregory and his missionary, if sympathy of manners have any influence, were better calculated than men of more refined understandings, for making a progress with the ignorant and barbarous Saxons. The more to facilitate the reception of Christianity, Gregory enjoined Augustine to remove the idols from the Heathen altars, but not to destroy the altars themselves; because the people, he said, would be allured to frequent the Christian worship, when they found it celebrated in a place, which they were accustomed to revere. And as the Pagans practised sacrifices, and feasted with the priests on their offerings, he also exhorted the missionary to persuade them, on Christian festivals, to kill their cattle in the neighbourhood of the church, and to indulge themselves in those cheerful entertainments, to which they had been habituated.x These political compliances shew, that, notwithstanding his ignorance and prejudices, he was not unacquainted with the arts of governing mankind. Augustine was consecrated archbishop of PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 40 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 Canterbury, was endowed by Gregory with authority over all the British churches, and received the pall, a badge of ecclesiastical honour, from Rome.y Gregory also advised him not to be too much elated with his gift of working miracles;z and as Augustine, proud of the success of his mission, seemed to think himself entitled to extend his authority over the bishops of Gaul, the Pope informed him, that they l...
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- Spring '08