« AnteriorContinuar »
He was successor. In pro Treland, and W
were held with a view to adjust differences; but in vain. The missionaries from Rome were bigoted and overbearing. Those from Iona had learned their religion from the Bible, and could be convinced on no other authority. The kings, however, rather inclined to the customs of Rome, as being the more fascinating and imposing; and the Scots were obliged, after a time, to yield. Colman, the third bishop from Iona, left his diocese in the year 662, and returned, with many of his adherents, into Scotland. Bede informs us that “the Catholic institution daily increasing, all the Scots who resided among the Angles either conformed to it or returned to their own country.”
But to return from this contest to Iona. I have said that Columba presided over the institution till his death, in the year 597. He was succeeded by Adamnanus, who wrote the life of his illustrious predecessor. In process of time several other establishments grew up in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, constituted substantially after the model of Iona. One was founded at Abernethy, another at Dunkeld, another at St. Andrews, and others at Dunblane, Monimusk, and Scone. It is thought by some writers that not less than a hundred different establishments, constituted after the model of Iona, and growing up under its influence, came into being in the next four hundred years. The missionaries from these establishments were the Culdees. They were found in every part of the British islands and beyond them, and constituted a numerous and powerful body of preachers and teachers. They were distinguished for their love of the Bible, for the simplicity of their faith and worship, and for their steady and persevering opposition to the usurpation and superstitions of the Church of Rome.
Of their controversy with the Romish missionaries in England I have given some account. The contest was longer and more severe in Scotland and Wales. In what detestation the arrogant claims of Rome were held in Wales we learn from the poems of Talliessin, who is supposed to have flourished about the year 620 :
“Woe be to that priest 'yborn
And preach his charge among;
Woe be to that shepherd, I say,
As to his office doth belong.
With staff and weapon strong." In Scotland the influence of the Culdees continued with little abatement until the beginning of the thirteenth century. At this period Queen Margaret, the wife of Malcolm III., exerted a strong influence in favor of the religion of Rome. She was an Anglo-Saxon princess, who had been educated in the Romish religion; and being a fascinating and gifted woman, she did much to control the counsels of her husband and his court. Besides, she was the mother of the four succeeding Scottish kings, namely, Edmund, Edgar, Alexander I., and David I. This David succeeded, about the commencement of the fourteenth century, in breaking down the Culdee establishments and subjecting them to the Catholic bishops.
It is said that the very year in which we have the last mention of the Culdees in Scotland was the same in which the Lollards made their appearance in Germany—perhaps through the influence of the Culdees there. Shortly after this, Wiclif began to hold up a light in England, which was not extinguished until the dawn of the Reformation. It would seem from this view that God had witnesses to the reality and power of spiritual religion through all the dark ages, not only among the fastnesses of the Alps, in the south of Europe, but also among the rugged cliffs of Scotland and Wales.
But to return again to Iona. After the erection of similar establishments on the main land, especially those at Abernethy, Dunkeld, and St. Andrews, the influence of that at Iona necessarily declined. This, however, was not the principal cause of its decline. Attempts were repeatedly made to corrupt this fountain-head of Culdee influence, and poison it with the superstitions of Rome. For this purpose Egbert, a Saxon monk and emissary of Rome, was stationed here near the commencement of the eighth century by Nectan III., king of the Picts. At the same time Nectan banished those members of the school at Iona who would not submit to the Romish customs, especially in regard to the time of observing Easter. After the death of Egbert and Nectan the exiles returned to
their beloved seats, and remained there undisturbed to the close of the century.
In the beginning of the next century the Danish pirates ravaged the island, and committed extreme cruelties on its defenseless inhabitants. They burned such of the buildings 28 were combustible, and murdered about seventy of the inmates.
Some seventy years later the Danes again invaded Iona, when most of the brethren fled into Ireland, carrying the bones of Columba with them. Still a considerable number continued to cleave to the hallowed spot, though now sadly shorn of its ancient splendor.
But in subsequent years their perils and sufferings were renewed upon them, and from the same source. In the year 905 the Danes again pillaged Iona, and killed the principal and many of the brethren. In 1059 they were visited with an extensive conflagration. Still the devoted Culdees continued to linger among the scathed ruins of their ancient seats. They had other institutions, as I have said, in different places, but Iona continued to be their favorite retreat until the beginning of the thirteenth century. Then a Romish monastery was established on the island, and the Culdees were driven from it to return no more.
In the year 1773 Iona was visited by Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his tour to the Hebrides. He describes the ruins which he saw, which were chiefly those of Romish edifices, built after the monks obtained possession of the island. He represents the soil as fertile and fruitful, but the inhabitants as degraded and neglected. “This island,” says he, “which was once the metropolis of learning and piety, has now no school for education nor temple for worship. It has only two inhabitants who can speak English, and not one that can read or write. I know not that it is visited by any minister of religion.” Snch was the moral condition of Iona almost a hundred years ago. We hope it has experienced some improvement since.
In ancient times this little island was not only–what Johnson calls it—"the great school of theology,” “the instructress of the western regions,” but it was the ordinary place of sepulture for the surrounding nobles and kings. It was thought to be a sacred place. It was consecrated and holy
ground: and kings and nobles were careful to provide that their dust might be here deposited. Indeed, several monarchs are said to have abdicated their thrones, and retired, in the evening of life, to the cloisters of Iona, that they might here prepare for death, and secure for themselves a place of burial. It is related by the older historians that forty-eight kings of Scotland, four of Ireland, eight of Norway, and one of France lie interred on this little island.
In view of the great and just celebrity of the establishment at Iona, it is matter of wonder that so little should be known and said of it in modern times. With the catechetical school at Alexandria every scholar is familiar, but the institution at Iona was scarcely less celebrated in its day than that at Alexandria. It may not have produced as distinguished scholars, but it sent out more faithful and laborious ministers. If in point of critical learning it failed to do as much good, it certainly did far less hurt. While the school at Alexandria exerted, on the whole, a corrupting influence on the Church, introducing false principles of interpretation, and adulterating the simple doctrines of the Gospel with the minglings of a proud Pagan philosophy, the school at Iona effectually resisted for a time the foul current of superstition and corruption which was setting in upon the British Islands from the Church of Rome.
Unfortunately for Iona, its history has become involved in one of the perplexing ecclesiastical controversies of the day; I mean that respecting the apostolical succession of bishops. It is certain that the school at Iona was governed by presbyters. Its principal and his twelve assistants were all of them presbyters. On this point the testimony of Bede and others is explicit. After the same model, too, all the other Culdee establishments seem to have been formed. It is certain that the Faculty at Iona ordained and sent out several bishops, who, with their assistants and successors, were instrumental in converting the Anglo-Saxons through the northern and central parts of England. It is certain that these Soottish bishops ordained other bishops and a great many presbyters, and that the results of their ordinations and other labors continue in England to the present time.
To all this the High Church Episcopalian replies, that though we have no account of any bishops residing at Iona, and taking part in the ordinations there, still it is altogether probable that there was one, since the distinction between bishop and presbyter generally prevailed in the sixth and seventh centuries, and bishops were found everywhere else.
I have no occasion to disturb this mooted question here. Suffice it to say that through the connection of the presbyter establishment at Iona with the hierarchy of England, the subject of the apostolical succession of bishops is considerably embarrassed, and the difficulty of establishing it to the satisfaction of all concerned is increased.
I conclude by suggesting to American Christians who make the tour of Europe, that they should not fail (if circumstances permit) to set their feet on the shores of Iona. I scarcely know a place on the other side of the Atlantic which, to my own mind, stands connected with so many pleasing and sacred associations. If it is interesting to visit the Isle of Wight, and stand by the tomb of Elizabeth Walbridge, (the Dairyman's Daughter,) it surely cannot be less so to visit the sacred classic grounds of Iona, survey its ruins, and tread upon the ashes of the illustrious dead who are there entombed.
ART. VI.-BRAHMINISM: ITS HISTORY AND CLAIMS.
WITH the exception of Parseeism, Brahminism is probably the oldest of living faiths : older, indeed, than most of those which have passed away, since from it Greece received many of its dogmas, and the other Asiatic forms of paganism, present and past, can, with few exceptions, be traced back to it. It could hardly have been later than the time of Abraham when a portion of the Aryas, dwellers on the lofty table lands of Persia, and at that time holding the monotheistic creed, which is still preserved in tolerable purity by the Parsees, emigrated southward, toward the plains and fertile valleys of India, then occupied by the Dasyus, a warlike and not wholly uncivilized race, the progenitors of the Khonds, Bhils, Shyans, and Karens of Northern India and Burmah. The contest between the invaders and these tribes was a long and wearisome one, for