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Unformatted text preview: d him a habitation in the Isle of Thanet; and soon after admitted him to a conference. Apprehensive, however, lest spells or enchantments might be employed against him by priests, who brought an unknown worship from a distant country, he had the precaution to receive them in the open air, where, he believed the force of their magic would be more easily dissipated.o Here Augustine, by means of his interpreters, delivered to him the tenets of the Christian faith, and promised him eternal joys above, and a kingdom in heaven without end, if he would be persuaded to receive that salutary doctrine. “Your words and promises,” replied Ethelbert,p “are fair; but because they are new and uncertain, I cannot entirely yield to them, and relinquish the principles, which I and my ancestors have so long maintained. You are welcome, however, to remain here in peace; and as you have undertaken so long a journey, solely, as it appears, for what you believe to be for our advantage, I will supply you with all necessaries, and permit you to deliver your doctrine to my subjects.”q Augustine, encouraged by this favourable reception, and seeing now a prospect of success, proceeded with redoubled zeal to preach the gospel to the Kentish Saxons. He attracted their attention by the austerity of his manners, by the severe pennances to which he subjected himself, by the abstinence and self-denial which he practised: And having excited their wonder by a course of life, which appeared so contrary to nature, he procured more easily their belief of miracles, which, it was pretended, he wrought PLL v5 (generated January 22, 2010) 39 http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/695 Online Library of Liberty: The History of England, vol. 1 for their conversion.r Influenced by these motives, and by the declared favour of the court, numbers of the Kentish men were baptized; and the king himself was persuaded to submit to that rite of Christianity. His example had great influence with his subjects; but he employed no force to bring them over to the new doctrine. Augustine thought proper, in the commencement of his mission, to assume the appearance of the greatest lenity: He told Ethelbert, that the service of Christ must be entirely voluntary, and that no violence ought ever to be used in propagating so salutary a doctrine.s The intelligence, received of these spiritual conquests, afforded great joy to the Romans; who now exulted as much in those peaceful trophies, as their ancestors had ever done in their most sanguinary triumphs, and most splendid victories. Gregory wrote a letter to Ethelbert, in which, after informing him that the end of the world was approaching, he exhorted him to display his zeal in the conversion of his subjects, to exert rigour against the worship of idols, and to build up the good work of holiness by every expedient of exhortation, terror, blandishment, or correction:t A doctrine more suitable to that age, and to the usual papal maxims, than the tolerating principles, which Aug...
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- Spring '08