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Unformatted text preview: d not even sufficient influence to support their government.s Another inconvenience, which attended this corrupt species of Christianity, was the superstitious attachment to Rome, and the gradual subjection of the kingdom to a foreign jurisdiction. The Britons, having never acknowledged any subordination to the Roman pontiff, had conducted all ecclesiastical government by their domestic synods and councils:t But the Saxons, receiving their religion from Roman monks, were taught at the same time a profound reverence for that see, and were naturally led to regard it as the capital of their religion. Pilgrimages to Rome were represented as the most meritorious acts of devotion. Not only noblemen and ladies of rank undertook this tedious journey;u but kings themselves, abdicating their crowns, sought for a secure passport to heaven at the feet of the Roman pontiff. New reliques, perpetually sent from that endless mint of superstition, and magnified by lying miracles, invented in convents, operated on the astonished minds of the multitude. And every prince has attained the eulogies of the monks, the only historians of those ages, not in proportion to his civil and military virtues, but to his devoted attachment towards their order, and his superstitious reverence for Rome. PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 52 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 The sovereign pontiff, encouraged by this blindness and submissive disposition of the people, advanced every day in his encroachments on the independance of the English churches. Wilfrid, bishop of Lindisferne, the sole prelate of the Northumbrian kingdom, encreased this subjection in the eighth century, by his making an appeal to Rome against the decisions of an English synod, which had abridged his diocese by the erection of some new bishoprics.w Agatho, the pope, readily embraced this precedent of an appeal to his court; and Wilfrid, though the haughtiest and most luxurious prelate of his age,x having obtained with the people the character of sanctity, was thus able to lay the foundation of this papal pretension. The great topic, by which Wilfrid confounded the imaginations of men, was, that St. Peter, to whose custody the keys of heaven were entrusted, would certainly refuse admittance to every one who should be wanting in respect to his successor. This conceit, well suited to vulgar conceptions, made great impression on the people during several ages; and has not even at present lost all influence in the catholic countries. Had this abject superstition produced general peace and tranquillity, it had made some atonement for the ills attending it; but besides the usual avidity of men for power and riches, frivolous controversies in theology were engendered by it, which were so much the more fatal, as they admitted not, like the others, of any final determination from established possession. The disputes, excited in Britain, were of the most ridiculous kind, and entirely worthy of those ignorant and b...
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- Spring '08