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Unformatted text preview: astics, in those days of ignorance, made rapid advances in the acquisition of power and grandeur; and inculcating the most absurd and most interested doctrines, though they sometimes met, from the contrary interests of the laity, with an opposition, which it required time and address to overcome, they found no obstacle in their reason or understanding. Not content with the donations of land made them by the Saxon princes and nobles, and with temporary oblations from the devotion of the people, they had cast a wishful eye on a vast revenue, which they claimed as belonging to them, by a sacred and indefeizable title. However little versed in the scriptures, they had been able to discover, that, under the Jewish law, a tenth of all the produce of land was conferred on the priest-hood; and forgetting, what they themselves taught, that the moral part only of that law was obligatory on Christians, they insisted, that this donation conveyed a perpetual property, inherent by divine right in those who officiated at the altar. During some centuries, the whole scope of sermons and homilies was directed to this purpose; and one would have imagined, from the general tenor of these discourses, that all the practical parts of Christianity were comprized in the exact and faithful payment of tythes to the clergy.y Encouraged by their success in inculcating these doctrines; they ventured farther than they were warranted even by the Levitical law, and pretended to draw the tenth of all industry, merchandize, wages of labourers, and pay of soldiers;z nay, some canonists went so far as to affirm, that the clergy were entitled to the tythe of the profits, made by courtezans in the exercise of their profession.a Though parishes had been instituted in England by Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury, near two centuries before,b the ecclesiastics had never yet been able to get possession of the tythes: they therefore seized the present favourable opportunity of making that acquisition; when a weak, superstitious prince filled the throne, and when the people, discouraged by their losses from the Danes, and terrified with the fear of future invasions, were susceptible of any impression, which bore the appearance of religion.c So meritorious was this concession deemed by the English, that, trusting entirely to supernatural assistance, they neglected the ordinary means of safety; and agreed, even in the present desperate extremity, that the revenues of the church should be exempted from all burthens, though imposed for national defence and security.d ETHELBALD AND ETHELBERT
Ethelwolf lived only two years after making this grant; and by his will he shared England between his two eldest sons, 857. Ethelbald and Ethelbert, the west being assigned to the former; the east to the latter. Ethelbald was a profligate prince; and marrying Judith, his PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 58 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 mother-in-law, ga...
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This note was uploaded on 02/12/2011 for the course CHIN 101 taught by Professor Dr.yu during the Spring '08 term at University Of Southern Mississippi .
- Spring '08