Century VII, Chapter IV

CHAP. IV.
Authors of this Century.*

ISIDORE, of Seville, flourished in the former part Of it: he governed the church of Seville for forty years, having succeeded his brother Leander, of whom we have made honourable mention already. This writer was voluminous, and, with all due allowance for the superstition of the age, appears to have been sincerely

• Du Pin, Cent. 7.

Vol. HI. 18

pious. But perhaps the most useful part of his works is his collection of sentences out of Gregory. He seems to have been providentially given to Spain, in order to preserve some of the ancient learning, and to prevent men from sinking into total ignorance and rusticity.

Colomban must be mentioned also as an author, though we have already celebrated him in the character in which he shone far more, namely, of a missionary. He was, no doubt, pious and fervent: he wrote monastic rules, and while every part of his writings is infected with the servile genius of the times and the spirit of bondage, which had seized the church, one sentence retrieves his character, and with it I shall dismiss him. " We must have recourse to Christ the fountain of life." Sophronius of Jerusalem wrote a synodical letter to confute the monothelites. His part in that controversy has been stated already. He asserted that we shall rise with the same body, and that the punishments of hell are eternal. The most remarkable thing in him, is the soundness of his doctrine, which he adorned with genuine piety and purity of life.

Martin, bishop of Rome, whose sufferings from the tyrant Constans have been succinctly described, was one of the greatest men of the age. Some of his letters are extant, and they indicate both strength of mind and zeal in religion. Amandus, bishop of Utrecht, in writing to him, declared, that he was so grieved to find some clergymen to have lived lasciviously after their ordination, that he was tempted to quit his bishopric. Martin dissuaded him; and at the same time exhorted him to exercise salutary discipline on the offenders, declaring, that such clergymen should be deposed intirely from the sacerdotal function, that they may repent in a private condition, and may find mercy at the last day. He exhorts Amandus to undergo patiently all trials for the salvation of the sheep, and the service of God. This Roman prelate, doubtless, was sincere, and he appears to have defended evangelical truth with much firmness. And it was for a' branch of scriptural doctrine, that he suffered with consistency and integrity.

I mention Maximus, his fellow sufferer in the same cause. His writings are too scholastical to merit much attention, though he was, doubtless, a very able reasoner, and, what is infinitely better, a pious and upright man.

I might swell the list, with the names ofiwriters little known, and of little use. Learning was very low: the taste of the age was barbarous: we have seen however that Christ had then a church; and the reader, if he pleases, may travel through still darker scenes; yet I trust some glimmerings of the presence of Christ will appear.