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Unformatted text preview: themselves useful to it. They were employed in the education of youth:c They had the disposal of their own time and industry: They were not subjected to the rigid rules of an order: They had made no vows of implicit obedience to their superiors:d And they still retained the choice without quitting the convent, either of a married or a single life.e But a mistaken piety had produced in Italy a new species of monks, called Benedictines: who, carrying farther the plausible principles of mortification, secluded themselves entirely from the world, renounced all claim to liberty, and made a merit of the most inviolable chastity. These practices and principles, which superstition at first engendered, were greedily embraced and promoted by the policy of the court of Rome. The Roman pontiff, who was making every day great advances towards an absolute sovereignty over the ecclesiastics, perceived, that the celibacy of the clergy alone could break off entirely their connexion with the civil power, and depriving PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 76 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 them of every other object of ambition, engage them to promote, with unceasing industry, the grandeur of their own order. He was sensible, that, so long as the monks were indulged in marriage, and were permitted to rear families, they never could be subjected to strict discipline, or reduced to that slavery under their superiors, which was requisite to procure to the mandates, issued from Rome, a ready and zealous obedience. Celibacy, therefore, began to be extolled, as the indispensible duty of priests; and the pope undertook to make all the clergy throughout the western world renounce at once the privilege of marriage: A fortunate policy, but at the same time an undertaking the most difficult of any, since he had the strongest propensities of human nature to encounter, and found, that the same connexions with the female sex, which generally encourage devotion, were here unfavourable to the success of his project. It is no wonder therefore, that this master-stroke of art should have met with violent contradiction, and that the interests of the hierarchy, and the inclinations of the priests, being now placed in this singular opposition, should, notwithstanding the continued efforts of Rome, have retarded the execution of that bold scheme, during the course of near three centuries. As the bishops and parochial clergy lived apart with their families, and were more connected with the world, the hopes of success with them were fainter, and the pretence for making them renounce marriage was much less plausible. But the pope, having cast his eye on the monks as the basis of his authority, was determined to reduce them under strict rules of obedience, to procure them the credit of sanctity by an appearance of the most rigid mortification, and to break off all their other tyes which might interfere with his spiritual policy. Under pretence, therefore, of reforming abuses, which wer...
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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