Century VIII, Chapter II

CHAP II.

Miscellaneous Particulars.

A LITTLE after the beginning of this century, Lambert, bishop of Maestricht, was murdered. He ' had succeeded Theodard, under whom he had been educated, and, for forty years, had adorned the gospel by a life of piety and charity. He had been seven years deprived of his see amidst the civil confusions of France, but had been reestablished about the year 681. This prelate had exerted himself with much zeal in his diocese, and laboured with success in the conversion of the pagans, who were in his neighbourhood. His patience as well as his doctrine, had a salutary effect. It is not, however, in the power of the wisest and best of men, to restrain the tempers of their friends and relations. Two brothers, Gallus and Riold, were intolerably violent in plundering the church of Maestricht, and infesting the neighbourhood. Lambert's relations, particularly two nephews, returned evil for evil, and slew them, much against the will of the bishop.

Doubtless, the brothers ought to have applied to the civil magistrate, though justice was at that time very ill administered in France. Dodo, a powerful baron of the neighbourhood, a relation of the robbers, was determined to revenge their deaths upon the bishop himself; and he attacked him with armed men at Leodium* upon the Meuse. Lambert, in his first agitation upon the news of their approach, seized a sword, but recollecting himself, and lifting up his heart to God in prayer, he laid aside the sword, and composed himself to suffer. Two of his nephews began to make resistance. " If you love me truly," said Lambert, " love Jesus Christ also, and confess your sins to him. As for me, it is time for me to go to live with him." " Do you not hear," said another nephew, " how they call out to set fire to the house, to burn us all alive?" Remember, replied the bishop calmly, the guilt of the murder is yours: submit to receive the due recompence of your deeds. He continued in fervent prayer, and the armed men put all, whom they found, to the sword, and Lambert himself among the rest. A man of a christian spirit surely, and worthy of a more enlightened age, in which his humility, piety, and charity might have shorie with a brighter lustre!

Ceolfrid, in the early part of this century, governed the two monasteries of Weremouth and Jerrow, which had educated Bede. Through his influence, the Picts, who inhabited North Britain, were brought over to the Roman mode of celebrating Easter, and of course to the Roman communion.f But I can find no account of any progress in piety in the British isles. As the Roman church itself grew more corrupt in this century, our ancestors were infected with a larger portion of its superstitions.

In the year 713, the mahometans passed over from Africa into Spain, and put an end to the kingdom of ' the Goths, which had lasted near three hundred years.

• Now Liege. Fleury, xli. 16.

f Egbert, an Englishman, not long after, effected the same change among many of the Irish.

The christians were there reduced to slavery; and thus were scourged those wicked professors, who had long held the trutli in unrighteousness, called ort the name of Christ, while in works they denied him, and buried his faith under an enormous heap of superstitions. A remnant, however, preserved their independency in the Asturian mountains, who chose Pelagius for their king, a person descended from the royal family. He expressed his hope, that after God had chastised them for their sins, he would not give them up wholly to the mahometans. His confidence in God was not disappointed. Under circumstances extremely disadvantageous, he defeated the enemy, repeopled the cities, rebuilt the churches, and, by the pious assistance of several pastors, supported the gospel in one district of Spain, while the greatest part of the country was overrun by the Arabians. But the successors of Pelagius, by degrees, recovered more cities from the enemy.

Christendom, at this time, afforded a very grievous and mournful spectacle. Idolatry itself was now spreading widely both in Europe and in Asia, among the professors of the gospel:* men had very commonly every where forsaken the faith and the precepts of Jesus, in all those countries, which had been long evangelized. The people, who served the Lord in the greatest purity and sincerity, seem to have been Our ancestors,f and the inhabitants of some other regions, which had but lately received the gospel. So true is the observation, which our history constantly gives us occasion to make, namely, that there is a perpetual tendency in human nature to degeneracy and corruption. Such, however, was the goodness of God, that he still exer

• This important event will be explained in the next chapter.

-f Ireland, which Prideaux calls the prime seat of learning in all Christendom, during the reign of Charlemagne, was peculiarly distinguished in this century. Usher has proved the name of Scotia to have been appropriated to Ireland at this time. Eginhard, the secretary of Charlemagne, calls Ireland, Hibemia Scotorum insula. Several of these Scots (Irish) laboured in the vineyard in Charlemagne's time, and were made bishops in Germany. Both sacred and profane learning were taught by them with success.

cised much longsuffering amidst the most provoking enormities; and after he had removed the candlestick from some churches, he carried it to other places,* so that the light of his gospel was never removed from the earth. The most marvellous event in such cases, is, that men seem not at all conscious of their crimes, nor perceive the avenging hand of God upon them. For the nominal christians of the day were insensible of their condition; and, though the Arabians were evidently making large strides toward universal dominion, it was not till they had advanced into the heart of France, and ravaged that country in a dreadful manner, that any strong efforts were made to withstand them. In the year 732, however, they were totally defeated near Poictiers, by the heroic Charles Martel. An event memorable in history, because by it the providence of God stopped the progress of the Arabian locusts. It is astonishing, that all the civil-4 ized nations had not long ago united in a league, which would have been equally just and prudent, to stem the torrent, which threatened the desolation of mankind. Those who had, for ages, trusted more in relics, altars, austerities, pilgrimages, than in Christ crucified, and had lived in deceit, avarice, and uncleanness, were suffered to yield themselves a prey to devouring invaders. Adored be that providence, which, in the crisis, preserved Europe from complete deso lation, and, by saving France from those barbarians, has still left a people to serve God in these western rcgions.f

• This will be illustrated in chap. iy.

| The plague of the locusts, Rev. ix. continued five months, that is. 150 years, a day being reckoned for a year in prophetical language. It may be difficult to reckon exactly the time of the extension of the Arabian conquests, because of the inaccuracy and confusion of historians. But divine truth was ex&ct no doubt; and under every possible way of computation, the period of about 150 years will properly limit the duration of the Saracen conquests.