Monasticism (Gr. μονάζειν, — to dwell apart in solitude; whence μοναχός, a monk), a state of religious retirement, more or less complete, accompanied by contemplation and by various devotional, ascetical, and penitential practices, is in truth Asceticism (q.v.), with the elements of religious solitude superadded. Monasticism, until the beginning of the study of comparative religion, was regarded as a strictly Christian institution, but recent researches reveal it as having entered into various religious systems. both ancient and modern. Indeed, it is now clearly apparent that the Western theory of the ascetic life travelled from the East to the West, but the question of the. time when it originated in the East is still clouded in mystery. "The origin of monasticism," writes Mr. Johnson in his little work on the: Monks before Christ, "will always be enveloped in mystery. 'Its history is shrouded in the same obscurity as the source of the mighty stream upon the banks of which the first ascetics commenced the practice of their austerities'" (pages 51, 52). The probability is that monachism is a strictly Asiatic institution, and originated among heathen nations. We certainly do not think that monasticism can prove a Christian or even Jewish origin; it is not heavenly, but earthly. Yet do we not desire to have our development theorists infer that we agree with them that it is one of the early religious forms of man. Says one, "The older the religion, the older its ascetic practices; for they were among the first forms assumed by the religious impulse, and not among the later and better ones. They belong to the religion of the passions and emotions, and not to the religion of reason;" and then he logically infers that therefore "monasticism is as old as religion itself; for it does not gain favor with the progress of new ideas, but is gradually falling in the estimation of all." We are far from believing that monasticism is a primitive institution, and is forsaken by modern civilization. Quite the contrary, we hold that ascetic practices prevail largely among semi-civilized or civilized nations, and only after a clear conception has been formed of man's dependence on a higher Being, and a desire is manifest for future existence. The inspired religion prepares the way for these, and from religious excesses or alienation spring the ascetic practices. In the far East the very notion of the supreme Lord faded for ages from the grasp of philosophy, and became too subtle and refined a conception for any to retain it in their knowledge; but the inherent evil of matter, of flesh, of sense, and of human life has remained to stimulate the curiosity, to exhaust the efforts of the melancholy victims of the grim delusion, and to shape in various forms the fact that man's incumbent duty .has ever been to escape from the contamination, and rise above the conditions of the flesh. Indeed, we believe that ascetic tendencies in general, and monasticism in particular, are the outgrowth of a religious enthusiasm, seriousness, and ambition likely to be pursued only by those who have once believed in revealed religion and have retrograded, having. gone from the presence of their God to the idol they reared to represent him. But, whatever may be the differences of opinion as to the relation of the heathen religions to the revealed, it is generally conceded that monasticism cannot prove its heavenly origin, nor honestly identify itself with the Christian religion, as it is known to be much older than Christianity. In times far anterior to the Gospel, prophets and martyrs, "in sheepskins and goatskins," wandered in the Oriental world over mountains and deserts; and dwelt in caves and dens of the earth, as have likewise evangelical monks.
I. Pagan Monachism. —
1. Its Monumental History. — In examining the inscriptions which have been discovered in South-western Asia and Egypt, we find an abundance of representations of priests and religious ceremonies. We learn from these that many of the priests shaved the head, and always wore a peculiar habit, which in historic times, we are told, was white. We learn furthermore that these priests taught that the body must be kept pure by fasting and other ascetic observances. No doubt, as our knowledge in hieroglyphics shall progress, our information on this subject will be greatly enriched. In Arabia and India thei modern traveller comes across numberless "rock-cut temples." We now know that nearly 600 years B.C. the artificial caves of India were occupied by Buddhistical monks, and there is conclusive evidence that they had served the Brahmins for a like purpose long before that. (Comp. the occasional notices of the Indian gymnosophists in Strabo [lib. 15, c. 1, after accounts from the time of Alexander the Great], Arrian [Exped. Alex. lib. 7, c. 1-3; and Hist. Ind. c. 11.], Pliny [Hist. Nat. 7:2], Diodorus Siculus [lib. 2], Plutarch [Alex. c. 64, Porphyry [De abstinent. lib. 4], Lucian [Fugit. c. 7], Clemens Alex. [Strom. lib. 1 and 2], and Augustine [De civit. Dei, lib. 14, c. 17: "Per opacas Indiae solitudines, quum quidam nudi philosophentur, unde gymnosophistae nominantur; adhibent tamen genitalibus tegmina, quibus per eetera membrorum carent;" and lib. 15, c. 20, where he denies all merit to their celibacy, because it is not " secundum fidem summi boni, qui est Deus"]. With these ancient representations agree the narratives of Fon Koueki [about A.D. 400, transl. by M.A. Remusat, Paris, 1836], Marco Polo , Bernier , Hamilton , Papi, Niebuhr, Qrlichn Sonnerat, and others.) The manner of the construction of these caves of India and Arabia leads to the Supposition that they were originally intended for monkish abodes, and, if so, the exceeding great antiquity of monasticism can no longer be doubted. These temples and caves are the oldest monuments of the countries in which they are found.
2. Earliest written History of Monachism. — If from these monuments we descend to an examination of the written books of the ancients, and search in "The Nabatean Agriculture," which is believed to have been written about the time of Nebuchadnezzar (or B.C. 600) we find in this history of Chaldsea, reaching back several thousands of years before .the beginning of the Christian Vera, that in the very earliest history of which this work gives any account there flourished Azada, an apostle of Saturn, who "founded the religion of renunciation or asceticism," and that "his partisans and followers were the subjects of persecution by the higher and cultivated classes; but that to the mass of the people, on the contrary, they were the objects of the highest veneration." Another ascetic whom it mentions flourished about B.C. 2000. He is said to have inveighed against the godliness of those who believed it possible to preserve the human body from decay, after death, by the employment of certain natural agents. "Not by natural means," warmly replies Dhagrit, "can man preserve his body from corruption and dissolution after death, but only through good deeds, religious exercises, and offering of sacrifices — by invoking the gods by their great and beautiful names — by prayers during the night, and fasts during the day." Then Dhagrit goes on, in his monkish zeal, to give the names of various saints of Babylonian antiquity whose bodies had long been preserved, after death, from corruption and change, and says: "These men had distinguished themselves by piety, by abstemiousness, and by their manner of life, which resembled that of angels; and the gods, therefore, by their grace, had preserved the bodies of these men from corruption; whereby those of later times, in view of the same, were encouraged in piety, and in the imitation of those holy modes of life." See Chwolson, Ueber die Ueberreste der altbabylonischen Literatur (St. Petersburg, 1859); M. le Baron de St. Croix, Recherches Historiques et Critiques sur les Mysteres du Paganisme (Paris, 1817).
Turning from these written sources, still the subjects of much discussion as to their authenticity, to the well established records of India, Persia, and China, the oldest written records in existence aside from the sacred Scriptures (viz. the Veda [q.v.] and the Laws of Manu [q.v.] — the sacred books of the Brahmins; the Zend Avesta [q.v.] — the sacred book of the Persians or Zoroastrians; and the Shu-King, SEE CONFUCIUS — the sacred book of China), we find the hoary parent of monastic rule dwelling in the far East, and gathering obedient millions, under her ample folds, long before the introduction of Christianity, even if we should trace Christian monasticism back to St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas.
Among the Hindus (q.v.), we learn from the Brahminical writings especially the Rig-Veda, portions of which are assigned to a period as far back as B.C. 2400, the Laws of Manu, which were certainly completed before the rise of Buddhism (that is, six or seven centuries before our sera), and the numerous other sacred books of the Indian religion — that there was enjoined by example and precept entire abstraction of thought, seclusion from the world, and a variety of penitential and meritorious acts of self-mortification, by which the devotee assumes a proud superiority over the vulgar herd of mortals, and is absorbed at last into the divine fountain of all being. Says Spence Hardy, "The practice of asceticism is so interwoven with Brahminism, under all the phases it has assumed, that we cannot realize its existence apart from the principles of the ascetic." (Compare Wilson, Asiatic Researches, 16:38; Pavie, in Revue des deux Mondes, 1854; — Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, 1:315.)
3. Probable Origin of Eastern Monachism. — "At an early period of the present era of Brahminic manifestation," the legend goes, in the Rig-Veda, "Dhruva, the son of Uttanapada, the son of Manu Swayambhuva, who was 'born of and one with Brahma,' began to perform penance, as enjoined by the sages, on the banks of the Yamuna. While his mind was wholly absorbed in meditation, the mighty Hari, identical with all natures, took possession of his heart. Vishnu being thus present in his mind, the earth, the supporter of elemental life, could not sustain the weight of the ascetic. The celestials called Yamas, being excessively alarmed, then took counsel with Indra how they should interrupt the devout exercises of Dhruva; and the divine beings termed Kushmandas, in company with their king, commenced anxious efforts to distract his meditations. One, assuming the semblance of his mother, Suniti, stood weeping before him, and calling in tender accents, 'My son, my son, desist from destroying thy strength by this fearful penance! What hast thou, a child but five years old, to do with rigorous penance? Desist from such fearful practices, that yield no beneficial fruit. First comes the season of youthful pastime, and when that is over it is the time for study; then succeeds the period of worldly enjoyments; and, lastly, that of austere devotion. This is thy season of pastime, my child. Hast thou engaged in these practices to put an end to existence? Thy chief duty is love for me; duties are according to time of life. Lose not thyself in bewildering error — desist from such unrighteous actions. If not, if thou wilt not desist from these austerities, I will terminate my life before thee.' But Dhruva, being wholly intent on seeing Vishnu, beheld not his mother weeping in his presence, and calling upon him; and the illusion, crying out, 'Fly, fly, my child; the hideous spirits of ill are crowding into this terrible forest with uplifted weapons,' quickly disappeared. Then advanced frightful rakshasas, wielding terrible arms, and with countenances emitting fiery flame; and nocturnal fiends thronged around the prince, uttering fearful noises, and whirling and tossing their threatening weapons. Hundreds of jackals, from whose mouths gushed flame as they devoured their prey, were howling around to appall the boy, wholly engrossed by meditation.' The goblins called out, 'Kill him! kill him! — cut him to pieces! eat him! eat him!' and monsters, with the faces of camels and crocodiles and lions, roared and yelled with horrible cries to terrify the prince. But all these uncouth speeches, appalling cries, and threatening weapons made no impression upon his senses, whose mind was completely intent on Govinda. The son of the monarch of the earth, engrossed by one idea, beheld uninterruptedly Vishnu seated in his soul, and saw no other object." How like the legends of Christian monachism are these pagan descriptions! The desert has always been the abode of asceticism, whose devotees, in their struggle against the flesh, peopled its sands with horrible monsters of every kind — with devils, hobgoblins, and giants, who (in the minds of the people) have held possession ever since. The Vedas also command that the tonsure be performed, but, so far as known, they prescribed no rules with regard to the monastic life. Their teachings seem to be confined solely to asceticism. On the other hand, in the Laws of Manu rules are given for the conduct of monastics; and, as these rules were in the possession of the people of India long before they were committed to writing, it is no wonder that monasticism is believed to have been practiced for thousands of years before the time of Christ. Hardwick, by no means a superficial student, is led even, in the face of these conditions, to say that "India was the real birthplace of monasticism"
(Christ and other Masters, 1:351). A large portion of the Laws of Manu are taken up by regulations to be observed by those who wish to attain to the ultimate good by the practice of monastic observances. The rule of St. Benedict itself does not afford a more decided proof of the existence of the ascetic life. The work is divided into twelve books. The sixth book is entitled "Duties" of the Anchorite and of the Ascetic Devotee." The subject of the eleventh book is "Penitences and Expiations." The Dwijas, for whom these rules are principally laid down, are described as a sort of monks, who practiced tonsure, wore girdle, carried staff, asked alms, fasted, lacerated the body, and dwelt for the most part in the deserts and forests. We have space but for a few illustrations, which will suffice, however, to show the character of this work. From the sixth book, "Duties of the Anchorite and of the Ascetic Devotee," we quote as follows:
"¶24. The' Dwija, who dwells. alone, should deliver himself to austerities, increasing constantly in their severity, that he may wither up his mortal substance.
"¶ 27. Let him receive from the Brahminical anchorites, who live in houses, such alms as may be necessary to support his existence." (The case was similar in early Christian times: Simon the Stylite, and a host of others, were thus provided for.)
"¶ 49. Meditating with delight on the supreme soul, seated, wanting nothing, inaccessible to all. sensual desire, without other society than his own soul, let him live here below in the constant expectancy of the eternal beatitude.
"¶ 75. In subduing his organs, in accomplishing the pious duties prescribed by the Vedas, and in submitting one's self to the most austere practices, one is able to attain here below to the supreme end, which is to become identified with Brahma." ("Their whole doctrine of spirit, of the supreme-Being, and the relation of man to God, must have made the Brahmins ascetics from the very first. So that, when the origin of this religion can be ascertained, we may say, without further examination, monasticism was there, and gave birth to it?' [Johnson Monks before Christ. page 70].)
"¶ 87. The novice, the marled man, the anchorite, and the ascetic devotee form four distinct orders, which derive the origin from the superior of the house.
"¶ 91. The Dwijas, who belong to these four orders, ought always to practice with. the greatest care the ten virtues which compose their dutiy.
"¶ 92. Resignation, the act of rendering good for evil, temperance, probity, purity, the subjugation of the senses, the knowledge of the Shastras, that of the supreme soul, veracity, and abstinence from choler — such are the ten virtues in which their duty consists." From the eleventh book, "Penitences and Expiations," we make the following extracts:
"¶ 211. The Dwija, who undergoes the ordinary penitence called Prajapatya, ought to eat during three days only in the morning; during the next three days, only at night; during the following three days, he should partake only of such food as persons may give him voluntarily, without his begging for it; and, finally, let him fast three days entirely.
"¶' 214. A Brahmin, accomplishing the severe penitence (Taptakrichra), ought to swallow nothing but warm water, warm milk, cold clarified butter, and warm vapor employing each of them three days in succession.
"¶ 215. He who, master of his senses and perfectly attentive, supports a fast of twelve days, makes the penitence called Paroka, which expiates all of his faults.
"¶ 216. Let the penitent who desires to make the Chandrayana, having eaten fifteen mouthfulls on the day of the full moon, diminish his nourishment by one mouthful each day during the fifteen days of obscuration which follow, in such a manner that on the fourteenth day he shall eat but one mouthful, and then let him fast on the fifteenth, which is the day of the new moon; let him augment, on the contrary, his nourishment by one mouthful each day during the next fifteen days, commencing the first day with one mouthful.
"¶ 239. Great criminals, and all other men guilty of divers faults, are released from the consequences of their sins by austerities practiced with exactitude.
"¶ 251. By reciting the Hovichyantiya or the Natamanha sixteen times a day for a month, or by repeating inaudibly the hymn Porucha, he who has defiled the bed of his spiritual master is absolved from all fault." "The ascetic system," says Schaff, "is essential alike to Brahminism, SEE HINDUISM, and Buddhism (q.v.); the two opposite and yet cognate branches of the Indian religion, which in many respects are similarly related to each other as Judaism is to Christianity, or as Romanism to Protestantism. Buddhism is a later reformation of Brahminism... But the two religions start from opposite principles. Brahminic asceticism proceeds from a pantheistic view of the world — the Buddhistic from an atheistic and nihilistic, yet very earnest view; the one is controlled by the idea of the absolute but abstract unity, and a feeling of contempt of the world — the other by the idea of the absolute but unreal variety, and a feeling of deep grief over the emptiness and nothingness of all existence; the one is predominantly objective, positive, and idealistic — the other more — subjective, negative, and realistic; the one aims at absorption into the universal spirit of Brahma — the other constantly at an absorption into nonentity." "Brahminism,' says Wuttke, "looks back to the beginning, Buddhism to the end; the former loves cosmogony, the latter eschatology. Both reject the existing world; the Brahmin despises it because he contrasts it with the higher being of Brahma; the Buddhist bewails it because of its unrealness; the former sees God in all, the other emptiness in all" (Des Geistesleben der Chinesen, Japaner, und Indier, 1853, page 593, constituting part 2 of his History of Heathenism). "Yet," adds Schaff, "as all extremes meet, the abstract all — entity of Brahminism and the equally abstract non-entity or vacuity of Buddhism come to the same thing in the end, and may lead to the same ascetic practices. The asceticism of Brahminism takes more the direction of anchoretism, while that of Buddhism exists generally in the social form of regular convent life." The Hindu monks, the Vanaprastha, or Gymnosophists (q.v.), as the Greeks called them, are Brahminical anchorites (q.v.), who live in woods or caves, on mountains or rocks, in. poverty, celibacy, abstinence, contemplation: sleeping on straw or the bare ground, crawling on the belly, macerating the body, standing all day on tiptoe, exposed to the, pouring rain or scorching sun with four fires kindled around them, presenting a savage and frightful appearance, yet greatly revered by the multitude, especially the women. As procreation of at least one child is strictly enjoined by Brahminism, some take their wives along, but never have intercourse with them except at such times as they are most likely to conceive. They are reputed to perform miracles, and not unfrequently complete their austerities by suicide on the stake or in the waves of the Ganges. Thus they are described by the ancients and by modern travellers (see Dubois, Description of the Character, Manners, and Customs of the People of India [Philadelphia, 1818]).
The Buddhist monks are less fanatical and extravagant than the Hindu Yogis (q.v.) and Fakirs (q.v.). They depend mainly on fasting, prayer, psalmody, intense contemplation, and the use of the whip, to keep their rebellious flesh in subjection. SEE BUDDHISM; SEE GOTAMA. They have a fully developed system of monasticism in connection with their priesthood, and a large number of convents; also nunneries for female devotees. The laws of Buddha, it is true, are often .purely moral, and they do: not profess to be the transcript of a higher than a human mind. Yet they aimed at reducing the entire company of the faithful to strictly monastic rule, to the mortification of all human passion, to the separation and isolation of the sexes, to mendicancy, and to the cessation and relinquishing of all personal and individual rights. Hence India, though she expelled Buddhistic rule, and princes and professors from her soil, yet shows at a hundred points the deep furrow which Buddhist monasticism has drawn across the more hoary superstitions and more agonizing asceticism of Hindu philosophy; and her monuments and literature bear witness to the brave, self-sacrificing devotion of these sons and daughters of Buddha, and to the fact that they went into all Eastern lands to preach the faith of their sires, to build monasteries, to organize worship, to multiply their sacred books, to perform pilgrimage to holy shrines of their faith, to adore the relics of saints and martyrs, and work miracles by their aid, and to adapt themselves to such varying populations as the cultivated philosophers of Nepaul, the ingenious and susceptible Japanese, the Cingalese, and Burmese, to say nothing of the pontifical empire of Tibet (q.v.), intentions, the young prince said, 'Let us turn back: I must think how to accomplish deliverance.' A last meeting put an end to his hesitation. He was driving through the northern gate, on the way to his pleasure gardens, when he saw a mendicant, who appeared outwardly calm, subdued, looking downwards, wearing with an air of dignity his religious vestment, and carrying an alms-bowl. 'Who is this man?' asked the prince. 'Sir,' replied the coachman, 'this man is one of those who are called bikshus, or mendicants. He has renounced all pleasures, all desires, and leads a life of austerity. He tries to conquer himself. He has become a devotee: without passion, without envy, he walks about asking for alms.' 'This is good and well said,' replied the prince. 'The life of a devotee has always been praised by the wise. It will be my refuge, and the refuge of other creatures: it will lead us to a real life, to happiness and immortality.' With these words, the young prince turned his chariot, and re-entered the city" (translated in Muller's Essays on the Science of Religion). Buddha then declared to his father and wife his determination to become a recluse, and soon after escaped from his palace in the night while the guards had fallen asleep. The religion which he established is now, after a lapse of 2000 years, professed by one third of the inhabitants of the entire globe. One king is said to have founded 84,000 monasteries for his order, that being the number of discourses which Buddha pronounced during his lifetime. The "Law" which he gave to his order is contained in the first of the three Pitakas, and was orally handed down until about B.C. 100, when it was committed to writing in the island of Ceylon. It is called the Winaya Pitaka. and contains rules for every conceivable monastic observance. It is composed of 42,250 stanzas. To alms-giving Buddha attached an extraordinary importance. He declares that "there is no reward either in this world or in the next that may not be received through almsgiving." Ten centuries later, Chrysostom wrote, '"Hast thou a penny? purchase heaven. Heaven is on sale, and in the market, and yet ye mind it not! Give a crust, and take back paradise; give the least, and receive the greatest; give the perishable, and receive the imperishable; give the corruptible, and receive the incorruptible. Alms are the redemption of the soul... Alms-giving, which is able to break the chain of thy sins... Alms-giving, the queen of virtues, and the readiest of all ways of getting into heaven, and the best advocated there" (comp. Taylor, Anc. Christianity). According to the Winaya Pitaka, "The wise priest never asks for anything; he disdains to beg: it is a proper object for which he carries the alms-bowl; and this is the only mode of solicitation." Celibacy, poverty, the tonsure, a particular garb, confession of sins, etc., are made compulsory. The vows, however, are not taken for life; and a monk may retire from the order if he finds it impossible to remain continent. A novitiate is provided for; and there are "nuns" or "sisters" who live in houses by themselves. The novice usually begins her connection with the order in the school, where she is sent while yet quite young. Foundlings were often given to the early Christian monasteries, by whom they were reared for the ascetic life. No Buddhist
can attain to Nirvana unless he has served a time as an ascetic. There are five modes of meditation specified by the Pitaka: 1, Maitri; 2, Mudita; 3, Karuna; 4, Upeksha; 5, Asubha. We read of a monk who was so profoundly sunk in contemplation that he did not wash his feet for thirty years; so that at last the divine beings called dervas could smell him a thousand miles off. The monk refrains from severely injuring his body, so that he may practice as long as possible his ascetic rites. Their mode of reasoning on this subject is illustrated by the following quotation from the Milinda-prasna, a work in Pali and Cingalese: "Milinda. Do the priests respect the body? — Nagasena. No. — Milinda. Then why do they take so much pains to preserve it? Do they not by this means say, 'This is me, or mine?' —Nagasena. Were you ever wounded by an arrow in battle? — Milinda. Yes. — Nagasena. Was not the wound anointed? Was it not rubbed with oil? And was it not covered with a soft bandage? — Milinda. Yes. —Nagasena. Was this done because you respected the wound, or took delight in it? — Milinda. No; but that it might be healed. — Nagasena. In like manner, the priests do not preserve the body because they respect it, but that they may have the power required for the keeping of the precepts."
(2.) Persian Monachism. — The Zend-Avesta, written, it is generally agreed, about B.C. 500, contains no allusion to ascetic rites; but this fact would go no further to disprove the existence of monastic life among the Persiais than the absence of such allusion from the N.T. would disprove the existence of Jewish monks. The Avesta is not of a historical character; and what was said about the Vedas is particularly true of it — prayers and hymns make up almost its entire contents. Zoroaster originally dwelt with the Brahminical or Sanscrit branch of the Aryan family; and we know that monasticism was rife among them before the separation took place. It is not likely that they ever shook off this institution, which is as universal as religion or intemperance. We are told that there was a class of "solitaries" among them. According to the Desatir, the Dobistan, and the old Iranian histories, "there was a great king of that branch of the Aryan people known as Kai-Khuero, who was a prophet and an ascetic. He had no children; and. after a 'glorious reign of sixty years,' he abdicated in favor of a subordinate prince, also an ascetic, who, after a long reign, resigned his throne to his son Gushtasp. It was during the reign of Gushtasp that Zoroaster appeared. Gushtasp was succeeded by Bohman, his grandson." These were not kings of Persia, but they reigned at Balkh, and lived many centuries before Persia became an independent kingdom. This would place the origin of asceticism anterior to Zoroaster, who lived, the Greeks said, 5000 years before the Trojan war, or 6000 before Plato — an antiquity greater than that assigned to it by the "Nabatmean Agriculture."
(3.) Chinese Monachism. — An examination of the Chou-King, the sacred book par excellence of China, is without fruit for our purpose. It is a significant fact, however, that the word "priest" is written in Chinese "Cha- men," or "Sang-men," which mean, respectively, one who exerts himself,* or one who restrains himself. The Chou-King was transcribed by Confucius (Life and Teachings of Confucius, by James Legge, D.D. [Phila. 1867]) about B.C. 480, and to him we owe its preservation. It is only one out of a large number of books upon religious topics which must have existed in his time. Lao-Kiun, who lived several generations before Confucius, was a great ascetic, advocated perfect freedom from passion, and passed much of his time in the mountains. Of Confucius, it is known that he taught no new doctrines, but insisted upon a more faithful observation of the ancient law. He flourished in the 5th century B.C. (551-479). At nineteen years of age he divorced himself from his wife, after she had given birth to a son, to devote himself to study and meditation; and his last days were passed in a quiet valley, where he retired with a few of his followers. He fasted quite frequently, and advocated many other monkish observances: such as retirement, contemplation, and agricultural employment. (See Schott, Werke. des chinzesischen Weisen Kong-Ftu-Dsi [Halle, 1826]. Comp. also Meng Tseu, ed. Stanislaus Julien, lib. 1, c. 5, par. 29; c. 6, page 29; and article CONFUCIUS SEE CONFUCIUS.) Mencius, an apostle of Confucius, who flourished in the 3d. century B.C., says, "Though a man may be wicked, yet, if he adjust his thoughts, fast, and bathe, he may sacrifice to God." (Compare Johnson, Monks before Christ, their Spirit and their History [Bost. 1870, 18mo], chapter 2).
* There is a remarkable similarity between the derivation of this word and that of ascetic (from ἀσκεῖν, to exercise, or practice gymnastics).
(4.) Greek Monachism. — The Hellenic heathenism was less serious and contemplative, indeed, than the Oriental. The first monastic society of which we have any knowledge are the Pythagoreans (q.v.), who, no doubt, are an importation from Egyptian or even from Indian soil (see Clement Alexandrinus, Stromat. lib. 3; Ueberweg, list. Philos. 1:42 sq.) "The mysteries of Bacchus and Ceres were copied after those of Osiris and Isis. These latter, in some respects, resembled Freemasonry more than they did monastic orders. They forbade, however, all sensuous enjoyment, enjoined contemplation, long-protracted silence, etc. Moreover, it is probable that Pythagoras found here many of those ascetic observances which he afterwards introduced into his own order" (Johnson, Monks before Christ, page 87). Bunsen says that the rules for the conduct of Egyptian priests, as described by Chaeremon and preserved by Porphyry, remind one of the Laws of Mann and the Vedas; so that if the conjectures of this Egyptologist be accepted, we are forced to conclude that Hellenic monasticism came from the Hindus through the Egyptians. unless the theory be accepted that the Greeks borrowed it directly from the Indians during their intercourse in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. But whatever our opinion on this point, certain it is that more than 2000 years before Ignatius Loyola assembled the nucleus of his great "society" in a subterranean chapel, in the city of Paris there was founded at Crotona, in Greece, an order of monks whose principles, constitution, aims, method, and final end entitle them to be called the "Pagan Jesuits" (see Zeller, Pythagoras u. die Pythagora-Saga. in his Vortrige u. Abhandlungen [Leips. 1865]; Johnson, Monks before Christ, pages 87, 88). The extinction of Pythagoreanism (soon after B.C. 400) by no means did away with asceticism in Greece. The philosophical mantle of the Pythagoreans fell upon a new school, among whom Epimenides and Plato are usually reckoned; and the Platonic view of matter and of body not only lies at the bottom of the Gnostic and Manichsean asceticism, but had much to do with the ethics of Origen and the Alexandrian school.
(5.) Jewish Monachism. — The origin and extent of Jewish monasticism is shrouded in much uncertainty and doubt. Yet it is clearly manifest from the records that have come down to us that Judaism was not altogether alien to asceticism. As far back as the days of Moses, while the Israelites were yet in the wilderness, a special law was made for those who should seek an ascetic life; and the Nazarites (q.v.), though, they did not separate themselves from the other people, yet did set themselves apart for special divine worship (Nu 6:1-21; Jg 13:5; 1Sa 1:11; Lu 1:15). Later, in Palestine, the Jews had their Essenes (q.v.), and in Egypt their Therapeute (q.v.), though it must be confessed that these betray the intrusion of foreign elements into the Mosaic religion, and so receive no mention in the New Test., unless the allusion in Mt 19:12 refers to these ascetics, which is believed, however, by only a few Biblical scholars. (See, besides the works quoted in the article ESSENES SEE ESSENES , Zeller, Griech-Philos. volume 3, part 2, page 589; and Theol. Jahrb. 1856, 3:358; Keim, Der Geschichtliche Christus [Zurich, 1865], page 15; Langen, Das Judenthum in Palistina zur Zeit Christi [Freib. 1866], page 186.)
(6.) Mohanmmedan Monachism. — "The two most successful religious impostures," says Cunningham, "which the world has yet seen are Buddhism and Mohammedanism. Each creed owed its origin to the enthusiasm of a single individual, and each was rapidly propagated by numbers of zealous followers. But here the parallel ends; for the Koran of Mohammed was addressed wholly to the 'passions' of mankind, by the promised gratification of human desires both in this world and in the next; while the Dharma of Sakya Muni was addressed wholly to the 'intellect,' and sought to wean mankind from the pleasures and vanities of this life by pointing to the transitoriness of all human enjoyment... The former propagated his religion by the merciless edge of the sword; the latter by the persuasive voice of the missionary. The sanguinary career of the Islamite was lighted by the lurid flames of burning cities; the peaceful progress of the Buddhist was illuminated by the cheerful faces of the sick in monastic hospitals [for the crippled, the deformed, the destitute], and by the happy smiles of travellers reposing in Dharmasalas by the road-side. The one was the personification of bodily activity and material enjoyment; the other was the genius of corporeal abstinence and intellectual contemplation" (Bhilsa Topes, pages 53, 54). These words of Cunningham may apply to the early history of the two religions, but they are hardly in place in their history of more modern times. It is true, indeed, that Mohammedanism was the religion of the sword, but, its conquests over, it has studied the religions of the world, and today Islam embodies much from every creed in the universe. Its founder had been especially careful to rigidly exclude monasticism, and himself declared "no monachism in Islam," yet today the dervishes of the East are to be met almost wherever Islam has its adherents. SEE DERVISHES. Celibacy is not likely to get a great hold in Mohammedan nations, but ascetic practices, hermitage, and mendicancy prevail to a large extent among them. Mr. Ruffner, in his Fathers of the Desert (N.Y. 1850, 2 volumes, a work popular in form, and full of valuable and curious information), has furnished an extended description of Mohammedan monasticism, and goes so far as to assert that the Christians derived it largely from them, who in turn, borrowed from the Buddhists (see volume 1, chapter 2-9); but such a view can hardly be reconciled with the great place of the phenomenon in history, and would, moreover, stamp as heretics many of the Christian fathers who were among the greatest and best representatives both East and West. (See below.) The probability is that monachism, so far as it exists in the Mohammedan world, was introduced either direct from the heathen world around it, or came from the Christians of the Post Nicene age, especially the churches of Africa, and Egypt in particular.
II. Christian Monachism. —
1. Origin of Monasticism in the Church. —The advocates of Christian monasticism claim for it an evangelical origin. They think they find at once its justification and primitive form in the Gospel exhortation to voluntary. poverty (the instance in which Christ charged the rich young man to sell all he had, that; as a follower of his, he should receive a hundred-fold more, "with persecution," Mt 19:21). "But this monastic interpretation of primitive Christianity," as Dr. Schaff has well said, "mistakes a few incidental points of outward resemblance for essential identity, measures the spirit of Christianity by some isolated passages, instead of explaining the latter from the former, and is upon the whole a miserable emaciation and caricature. The Gospel makes upon all men virtually the same moral demand, and knows no distinction of a religion for the masses and another for the few." Monachism, in this light, is at variance with the pure spirit of Christianity, inasmuch as it impels men, instead of remaining as a salt to the corrupt world in which they live, outwardly to withdraw from it, and to bury the talent which otherwise they might use for the benefit of the many. "Jesus, the model for all believers, was neither a cenobite nor an anchoret, nor an ascetic of any kind, but the perfect pattern man for universal imitation. There is not a trace of monkish austerity and ascetic rigor in his life or precepts, but in all his acts and words a wonderful harmony of freedom and purity, of the most comprehensive charity and spotless holiness. He retired to the mountains and into solitude, but only temporarily and for the purpose of renewing his strength for active work. Amid the society of his disciples, of both sexes, with kindred and friends, in Cana and Bethany, at the table of publicans and sinners, and in intercourse with all classes of the people, he kept himself unspotted from the world, and transfigured the world into the kingdom of God. His poverty and celibacy have nothing to do with asceticism, but represent, the one the condescension of his redeeming love, the other his ideal uniqueness and his absolutely peculiar relation 'to the whole Church, which alone is fit or worthy to be his bride... The life of the apostles and primitive Christians in general was anything but a hermit life; else had not the Gospel spread so quickly to all the cities of the Roman world. Peter was married, and travelled with his wife as a missionary. Paul assumes one marriage of the clergy as a rule, and notwithstanding his personal and relative preference for celibacy in the then oppressed condition of the Church, he is the most zealous advocate of evangelical freedom, in opposition to all legal bondage and anxious asceticism." As little as we find in the life of Christ or his apostles any authority for the. monastic life, so little do we find it represented in the life of primitive Christians generally. It is true in the infant Church, for a time, all things were in common, but even in this community of life, certainly the oldest or, rather, earliest phase of Christianity, monasticism finds no authority; for if it had been intended to serve as such, it would have been perpetuated. It failed because it was a social impossibility. "It gives a beautiful picture of what Christianity might be, when all are of one mind and one spirit;" but it was incompatible with the general course of human affairs, and it ceased to be. While, therefore, not even the Christian primitive communism can have been the germ from which monachism in the Church started, the theory of the monastic institution may possibly have been thereby suggested. Not even the asceticism of the infant Church can be made to account for this institution. Severe asceticism, it is true, was the religion of thousands throughout the Christian world, but those who practiced it neither separated themselves from the world nor from its social and political duties. They were simply a standing memorial of the solemn nature of the Christian baptismal vow in the heart of the families of the people. The most rigid. monastic rule could have added neither severity to their self- discipline nor higher temper to their chastened spirit (see Neander, Ch. Hist. 2:223 sq.).
But though monasticism was not a form of life that sprang originally and purely out of Christianity, yet there can be no doubt that by Christianity a new spirit was infused into this foreign mode of life, whereby with many it became ennobled and converted into an instrument of effecting much which could not otherwise have been effected by any such mode of living. Unless this view is taken, it would, as Dr. Schaff has well said, "involve the entire ancient Church, with its greatest and best representatives both East and West — its Athanasius, its Chrysostom, its Jerome, its Augustine in apostasy from the faith." And, as he aptly adds, "no one will now hold that these men, who all admired and commended the monastic life, were antichristian errorists, and that the few and almost exclusively negative opponents of that asceticism, as Jovinian. Helvidius, and Vigilantius, were the sole representatives of pure Christianity in the Nicene and next following age" (comp. Kingsley, Hermits, pages 14, 15). We shall come to consider the good and evil influences in another part of this article. Here we have to deal simply with its origin and relation to primitive Christianity. In the article ASCETICISM SEE ASCETICISM it has been shown that a distinction must be made between it and the monastic life, which was not known until the 4th century. That class of ascetics known as Hermits flourished probably as early as the age succeeding Christ's stay on earth; indeed, it is barely possible that its origin may be traced to John the Baptist and his surroundings. There were, no doubt, many in the early Church who, with a view to more complete freedom from the cares, temptations, and business of the world, withdrew from the ordinary intercourse of life, and took up their abode in natural caverns or rudely formed huts in deserts, forests, mountains, and other solitary places. The pagan depravation of manners must have in no small degree contributed to it. Then there must naturally have been multitudes of outwardly professing Christians, especially in large cities, who sickened the heart of those earnest souls whose spirit and disposition led to a nearness with Christ. Hence we find that hermits are generally spoken of as emanating from large cities, which were seats of corruption, thereby indicating clearly that in the primitive Church the ascetic desire was prompted by man's noblest impulses. In the writings of the Church fathers we can trace these germs of Christian monachism back to the middle of the 2d century. Thus writes Ricaut, when speaking of Mount Athos (Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches [A.D. 1678], page 218): "Though St. Basil was the first author and founder of the order of Greek monks, so that before his time there could be none who professed the strict way of living in convents and religious societies — I mean in Greece — yet certainly, before his time, the convenience of the place, and the situation thereof, might invite Hermites, and persons delighting in solitary devotions, of which the world, in the first and second century, did abound" (comp. Origen, Ep. ad Rom. c. 3; Mohler, Gesch. d. Monchthums in sersten Entstehung, etc., in Vermzischte Schriften, 2:165 sq.). Yet it is as late as the middle of the. 3d century, in which falls the Decian persecution (A.D. 249-251), that there are first brought to light numerous instances of a retirement of devoted Christians to the desert (comp. Sozomen, Hist. Ecclesiastes lib. 6 cap. 43). But even these hermits were not monastics in the modern sense of the word. They were accustomed to live singly, each according to his own inclination, without any specific form of union, and that within the precincts of the Church to which they severally belonged, unless personal safety required removal to more distant parts. It was reserved for the 4th century — the very age which gave state aid and perpetuity to Christianity — to develop that branch of asceticism which has ever since continued to flourish in a part of the Church, and to this day figures in the history of Christian civilization, sometimes to advantage, and oftentimes to great disadvantage.
2. Development of Monachism. — In what has preceded it is clearly foreshadowed that the historical development of the monastic institution was neither sudden nor rapid, but that it passed through several stages before it finally took the shape under which it is now known to us. Dr. Schaff distinguishes four stages — the first three complete in the 4th century; the remaining one reaches maturity in the Latin Church of the Middle Ages.
(a) The first stage covers the ascetic life, neither organized nor separated from the Church. It comes down from the ante-Nicene age, and is noticed in the article ASCETICISM SEE ASCETICISM (q.v.). In the 4th century it took the form, for the most part, of either hermit or cenobite life, and continued in the Church itself, especially among the clergy, who might be called halfmonks.
(b) The second stage, which is hermit-life or anchoretism, SEE ANACHOLRETS, arose in the beginning of the 4th century, gave asceticism a fixed and permanent shape, and pushed it even to external separation from the world. It took the prophets Elijah and John the Baptist for its models, and went beyond them (comp. Lond. Qu. Rev. April 1855, page 164). Not content with partial and temporary retirement from common life, which may be united with social intercourse and useful labors, the consistent anchoret secluded himself from all society, even from kindred ascetics, and came only exceptionally into contact with human affairs, either to receive the visits of admirers of every class, especially of the sick and the needy (which were very frequent in the case of the more celebrated monks), or to appear in the cities on some extraordinary occasion, as a spirit from another world. His clothing was a hair shirt and a wild-beast's skin; his food bread and salt; his dwelling a cave; his employment prayer, affliction of the body, and conflict with satanic powers and wild images of fancy. They were, as Montalembert says, "nais comme des enfants, et Torts comme des greants;" though Villemain, forming a more unimpassioned estimate of monasticism and its results, says, "De cette rude ecole du desert ilsortait des grands hommes et des fous;" heroes and madmen (Melanges Elog. Chrat. page 356). The anchorets maintained from choice, after the cessation of the persecutions, the seclusion to which they had originally resorted as an expedient of security; and a later development of the same principle is found in the still more remarkable psychological phenomenon of the celebrated Pillar Saints (q.v.).
The founder of the anchoretic mode of life is supposed to have been one certain Paul of Thebes, but St. Anthony is generally looked upon as "the father of monasticism" (Neander, 2:229); and though this is perhaps going a little too far, he must certainly be regarded as the principal influence in the anchoretic movement. 'Says Neander (Ch. Hist. 2:228, 229), "In the 4th century men were not agreed on the question as to who was to be considered the founder of monasticism, whether Paul or Anthony. If by this was to be understood the individual from whom the spread of this mode of life proceeded, the name was unquestionably due to the latter; for if Paul was the first Christian hermit, yet he must have remained unknown to the rest of the Christian world, and without the influence of Anthony would have found no followers. (Before Anthony, there may have been many who, by inclination or by peculiar outward circumstances, were led to adopt this mode of life; but they remained, at least, unknown.) 'The' first whom tradition — which in this case, it must be confessed, is entitled to little confidence, and much distorted by fable cites by name is the above- mentioned Paul. He is said to have been moved by the Decian persecution, which no doubt raged with peculiar violence in his native land, the Thebaid, in Upper Egypt, to withdraw. himself, when a young man, to a grotto in a remote mountain. By degrees he became attached to the mode of life he had adopted at first out of necessity. Nourishment and clothing were supplied him by a palm-tree that had sprung up near the grotto. Whether everything in this legend, or, if not everything, what part of it, is historically true, it is impossible to determine. According to the tradition, Anthony (q.v.) having heard of Paul, visited him, and made him known to others. But as Athanasius, in his life of Anthony is wholly silent as to this matter, which he certainly would have deemed an important circumstance — though he states that Anthony visited all ascetics who were experienced in the spiritual life — the story must be dismissed as unworthy of credit." It was really Anthony who gave to his age a pattern, which was seized with love and enthusiasm by many hearts that longed after Christian perfection, and which excited many to emulate it. Like Paul, Anthony was a native of Egypt, and being himself of a noble family, his influence was considerable, and he persuaded many members of the old Egyptian families to join him, and' spread his ascetic views and practices throughout all Egypt; even the deserts of this country, to the borders of Lybia, were sprinkled with numerous anachoretic societies. Hence the institution spread to Palestine and 'Syria, and Anthony, indeed, was visited not only by Egyptian ascetics, but also by those coming from Jerusalem (see Palladii Lausiaca, c. 26, Biblioth patrum Parisiensis, t. 13, fol. 939). Thus it was that Anthony, "without any conscious design of his own" (Neander), became the founder of this new mode of Christian living; for it in truth happened of its own accord, without any special efforts of his, that persons of similar disposition attached themselves to him, and, building their cells around his, made him their spiritual guide and governor, and thus constituted the first societies of Anachorets, who lived scattered, in single cells or huts, united together under one superior — demonstrating, moreover, that in monasticism prevailed the same law as in every other intellectual movement. An idea exists long in a state of free solution, till the mastermind is revealed, destined to give it fixity and permanence; and from that time it becomes a nucleus around which system gathers and crystallizes. Thus the recluses of the desert continued to gain in strength and number until gathered by Anthony; the connecting tie being a triple vow of chastity, poverty, and manual labor for the common good. Thenceforth the attention of Christendom was attracted to the Thebaid; all who needed it found there an asylum. But it was. after all, only for the East, and not for the world. Christianity had proved itself adapted to the wants of all; this form of asceticism could prevail only where the climate favored a hermit's life. It was too eccentric and unpractical for the West, and hence less frequent there, especially in the rougher climates. To the female sex it was entirely unsuited. An order of widows, employed in charitable works, and supported from the offerings of the faithful, was apparently one of the primitive institutions of the apostles (Lea, Celibacy, page 100); yet they were not separated from the world, but moved in it.
SEE DEACONESSES. There was, to be sure, a class of hermits, the Sarabaites (q.v.) in Egypt, and the Rhemoboths (q.v.) in Syria; but their quarrelsomeness, occasional intemperance, and opposition to the clergy brought them into ill-repute.
(c) The third step in the progress of the monastic life brings us to Cenobitism or cloister life — monasticism in the ordinary sense of the word. The necessities of the religious life itself — as the attendance at public worship, the participation of the sacraments, the desire for mutual instruction and edification — naturally enough led gradually to modifications of the degree and of the nature of the solitude. First came the simplest form of common life, which sought to combine the personal seclusion of individuals with the common exercise of all the public duties; an aggregation of separate cells into the same district, called by the name Laura, with a common church, in which all assembled for prayer and public worship. From the union of the common life with personal solitude is derived the name conobite, i.e., common life, by which this class of monks is distinguished from the strict solitaries, as the anchorets or eremites. In this, too, is involved, in addition to the obligations of poverty and chastity, which were vowed by the anchorets, a third obligation of obedience to a superior, which, in conjunction with the two former, has ever been held to constitute the essence of the religious or monastic life. SEE MONASTERY.
Like all the other ascetic institutions, the monastic life also found its home in Egypt. The country was certainly favorable to the production and expansion of just such an institution. "The land where Oriental and Grecian literature, philosophy, and religion, Christian orthodoxy and Gnostic heresy, met both in friendship and in hostility," was in every way adapted to be "the native land" of the monastic life. We may add also that "monasticism was favored and promoted here by climate and geographic features, by the oasislike seclusion of the country, by the bold contrast of barren deserts with the fertile valley of the Nile, by the superstition, the contemplative turn, and the passive endurance of the national character, by the example of the Therapeutae, and by the moral principles of the Alexandrian fathers; especially by Origen's theory of a higher and lower morality, and of the merit of voluntary poverty and celibacy." Even back in the days of Elian we are told by him that the Egyptians bear the most exquisite torture without a murmur, and would rather be tormented to death than compromise truth. Such natures, once seized with religious enthusiasm, were certainly very eminently qualified for saints of the desert.
No wonder, then, that the monastic life soon gained general favor. Pachomius (292-348), a disciple of Anthony, is recognized as the founder of this peculiar, ascetic life. Palladius, himself a convert in these early days to this institution, furnishes an account of its progress in connection with an account of its author, which Neander thus presents: "Pachomius, at the beginning of the 4th century, when a young man, after having obtained his release from the military service, into which he had been forced, attached himself to an aged hermit, with whom he passed twelve years of his life. Here he felt the impulse of Christian love, which taught him that he ought not to live merely so as to promote his own growth to perfection, but .to seek also the salvation of his brethren. He supposed unless this is a decoration of the legend — that in a vision he heard the voice of an angel giving utterance to the call in his own breast — it was the divine will that he should be an instrument for the good of his brethren, by reconciling them to God (Vita Pachom., § 15). On Tabennae, an island of the Nile, in Upper Egypt, betwixt the Nomes of Tenthyra and Thebes, he founded a society of monks, which during the lifetime of Pachonlius himself numbered three thousand, and afterwards seven thousand members; and thus went on increasing until, in the first half of the 5th century, it could reckon within its rules fifty thousand monks (Lauriaca, 6:1, c. 909; also c. 38, fol. 957; Hieronymi Profat. in regulan. Pachomii, § 7)." We are told that when Athanasius visited Pachomius three thousand monks passed before him in procession, chanting hymns, and exhibiting practical proofs of direct piety under the monastic rule. Nor was the new movement confined to the Tabenus region. The development in the Nitrian and Thebaid deserts was equally rapid; so that Rufinus (V. Patr. 2:7) affirms that the monastic population of Egypt equalled the inhabitants of the towns. In the single district of Nitria, we are told, there were no fewer than fifty monasteries (Sozomen, Ecclesiastes Hist. 6:31) and the civil authorities even found it expedient to place restrictions on their excessive multiplication. Neither was the movement confined to Egypt. Arabia, Syria, Palestine, and more especially the region of Mount Sinai, soon swarmed with recluses, and were thickly studded with monasteries. "We daily receive monks," says Jerome (346-420), writing at Bethlehem, "from India, and Persia, and Ethiopia." The entire Eastern Church gave this practice confidence, and the greatest teachers of the Church — as Gregory Nazianzen (329-389). Basil the Great (328-379), and the golden-tongued Chrysostom (342-407) became its enthusiastic admirers and promoters. Nor did the desert remain the home of the new life. Monastic institutions were soon transplanted to the towns, and in agitated times these places became safe houses of refuge from the troubles of the world. Indeed, it must be conceded by all honest students of early ecclesiastical history that the example of the monasticism of the early Eastern Church had a powerful influence in forwarding the progress of Christianity; although it is also certain that the admiration which it excited occasionally led to its natural consequence among the members, by eliciting a spirit of pride and ostentation, and by provoking, sometimes to fanatical excesses of austerity, sometimes to hypocritical simulations of rigor. The abuses which arose, even in the early stages of monachism, are deplored by the very fathers who are most eloquent in their praises of the institution itself. These abuses prevailed chiefly in a class of monks called Sarabaites (q.v.), who lived in small communities of three or four, and sometimes led a wandering and irregular life.. Yet though many took exception to any abuses growing out of the institution, but few were found, like Jovinian, to assail the principle. And even emperors, as, e.g., Valens and his successors, sought in vain to arrest the too rapid increase of monachism. A picture is drawn by Theodoret, in his Religious Histories, of the rigor and mortification practiced in some of the greater monasteries, which goes far to explain the assertion of Protestant writers that the monks were commonly zealots in religion; and that much of the bitterness of the religious controversies of the East was due to their unrestrained zeal; and that the opinions which led to these controversies originated for the most part among the theologians of the cloisters. (Most famous among these was an order called Acemetce [Gr. sleepless], from their maintaining the public services of the Church day and night without interruption. SEE IMAGE-WORSHIP; SEE MONOPHYSITES; SEE MONOTHELITES; SEE TORIANS.)
Under the growing influence of the Byzantine emperors, the Eastern Church, and with it Eastern monachism, lost all vitality and became petrified. No attempts were made to revive its declining vigor by creating new organizations, and though there have indeed been occasional examples of splendid benevolence in Oriental monachism, these are after all isolated instances. "As a general rule," says Stanley, "there has arisen in the East no society like the Benedictines (see below), held in honor wherever literature or civilization has spread; no charitable orders, like the Sisters of Mercy, which carry light and peace in the darkest haunts of suffering humanity" (Eastern Church, page 114). Traditionally all the Eastern monks have followed up to the present day the so-called rule of Pachomius, or, as they prefer, of St. Anthony.. They remain numerous in all the Eastern churches, and some of their establishments, as the convents of Mount Athos, are still celebrated for their literary treasures or political influence, SEE MONIS, EASTERN; but they have ceased to be powerful agencies of religious influence. This is of course easily to be accounted for on general-principles. The Eastern Church is by us of the West recognised as stationary and immutable, while our own motto is progress and flexibility. Hence active life is, on the strict Eastern theory, an abuse of the system. And while the monastic life, as we shall presently examine it in detail, in the Western world is characterized by literary and agricultural activity, the Eastern monks, whether in Egypt or Greece, have always passed a passive life, turning aside, and that only occasionally, simply to secure the necessaries for their subsistence. Some monks, it is true, devoted a portion of their time to mechanical trades, among which we find ship-building, and to agriculture; but all their occupations and rules were after all designed to overcome the desires of the body, and to make it a willing servant and instrument of the soul in its excessive religious aspirations. Annihilation of individualism was aimed at, in order to be wholly possessed and owned by God. The wildest individual excesses of a Bruno or a Dunstan seem poor beside the authorized national, we may almost say imperial, adoration of the pillar saints of the East. Thus also, e.g., amid all the controversies of the 5th century, on one religious subject the conflicting East maintained its unity — in the reverence of the hermit on the pillar. The West certainly has never had a Simeon Stylites (q.v.).
It is clearly apparent, then, to the careful student of ecclesiastical history that monasticism proper, in its first stage, was developed in the Eastern Church. But we shall see presently that monasticism was early transplanted to the West also. We will see it, however, in a modified form, really constituting the fourth and last stage of asceticism, or the second stage of monasticism proper. Before we pass to its consideration, it may not be amiss to regard here the third stage in its relation to the other two that preceded it. Pachomius himself, as we have seen, was originally a hermit. It will be found upon examination that all other ascetics who are marked as the most celebrated order — founders of later days were also originally hermits. Cloister life, indeed, is a regular organization of the ascetic life on a social basis, recognising as it does, at least in a measure, the social element of human nature, and representing it in a narrower sphere secluded from the larger world. Hence hermit life led to cloister life, and the cloister life became not only a refuge for the spirit weary of the world, but also in many ways a school for practical life in the Church. We must certainly confess that it formed the transition from isolated to social Christianity; for it consists in an association of a number of anchorets of the same sex for mutual advancement in ascetic holiness. The coenobites, living somewhat according to the laws of civilization, under one roof, and under a superintendent or abbot, divide their time between common devotions and manual labor, and devote their surplus provisions to charity; except the mendicant monks, who themselves live by alms.
In this modified form monasticism became available to the female sex, to which the solitary desert life was utterly impracticable; and with the cloisters of monks there appear at once cloisters also of nuns. Anthony and Pachomius, we are told by their biographers, were tended by their sisters; Ammonius by his wife; and crowds of heroic women confided their honor to the wilderness rather than to the caprices of fortune in times of trouble. Hence this germ of nunneries developed their growth even as rapidly as the monasteries, and, though the cause no longer exists, cloisters for female ascetics abound to this day in the East and in the West. SEE NUNNERIES.
(d) Fourth Stage of Monasticism. — The same social impulse, finally, which produced monastic congregations, led afterwards to monastic orders, unions of a number of cloisters under one rule and a common government. In this, the fourth and last stage, monasticism. presents itself in the West, and played no little part, we gladly confess, for the diffusion of Christianity and .the advancement of learning, becoming in one sense even the cradle of the German Reformation (comp. Schaff, Ch. Hist. 2:158, 176).
We have seen above that Athanasius, one of the Western Church fathers, was in the East, and enjoyed a personal association with Anthony and Pachomius. When Athanasius returned to Rome (about A.D. 341), he determined to introduce the practice of the monastic life into the Western Church. He brought home with him some Egyptian monks for the purpose of initiating the Romans, and in order to exhibit to them living evidence of the sanctifying principles of the new "religion." Their uncouth and savage appearance, however, excited disgust and ridicule, and for a time the effort failed. But Athanasius, in nowise disconcerted, published a biographical account of St. Anthony, which, being early translated into Latin, had great influence on the people. Besides, respectable bishops of the West, who had been banished to the East during the Arian controversies, brought back with them, on their return, an enthusiasm for the monastic life. In Rome especially the feeling of ridicule gave way to enthusiastic admiration, and men and women of rank were impelled by the ascetic spirit which was spread by Jerome (346-420) during his residence in that city to retire from the great world, in which they had shone, and devote themselves to the. monastic life. Patricians, rich merchants, and men of letters adopted the distinctive dress of the anchorite, and with it the three self-denying vows of the ascetic life. Senators and matrons transformed their palaces and country-seats. Villas, bearing the names of Gracchus, Scipio, Camillus, and Marcellus, were converted by the representatives of these great names into monasteries (the ruins of the Anician palace, of vast extent, were still to be seen in the middle of the 8th century at the gate of Nursia [comp. Montalembert, 2:8]; and the family from whence it had its name is renowned in the annals of monasticism as the stock of which Benedict and Gregory the Great were descendants). From Rome the movement spread through the provinces, and established itself in the isles of the Mediterranean; chiefly through the energetic action of Eusebius of Vercelli who, like Athanasius, had obtained a temporary resting-place in the Thebaid when driven from his see. Men possessing such great influence as Ambrose of Milan, John Curianus, Martin of Tours, the presbyter Jerome (q.v.), also contributed subsequently, in the course of the 4th century, still further to awaken and diffuse this tendency of the Christian spirit in Italy and in Gaul.
Everywhere the institution now spread rapidly, in the same general forms in which the monasteries were built up in the East. Pachomius had started some of these and given them monastic shape, but it was reserved for Basil the Great (328-379) to give perfect organization to the vast army of monks, and to bind them by a formal vow of chastity, poverty (involving the duty of self-support by manual labor), and obedience to authority. But even Basil's work was vague and desultory, and St. Augustine was not a little tried in his endeavors to diffuse monasticism in North Africa and Italy. He condemned the idleness of the monks ever fearing the danger which would spring from affording too great freedom to men who had been accustomed to severe corporeal labor and to rigid restraint. Many there were who would be right well disposed to exchange a needy, sorrowful, and laborious life for one free from all care, exempt from labor, and at the same time enjoy the pleasure of being looked up to with universal respect .
Those who discarded the obligation to manual labor ventured, in defending their principles, to pervert many passages of the New Testament. When that precept of the apostle Paul in 2Th 3:12, was objected to them, they appealed, on the other hand, to those misconceived passages in the Sermon on the Mount in which all care for the wants of the morrow, hence all labor to, acquire the means of sustenance for the morrow, were forbidden. Christian perfection was made to consist in this-that men should expect, without laboring for their support, to be provided for by the hand of God, like the fowls of the air. This precept of Christ, they contended, Paul could not mean to contradict; the laboring, accordingly, as well as the eating, in those words of Paul, must be understood not in the literal, but in a spiritual sense — as referring to the obligation of communicating the nourishment of the divine Word, which men had themselves received, to others also — an example of the perversion of Scripture worthy to be noticed. But not only Augustine other friends of monasticism soon came to apprehend the obstacles likely to face Christian activity, and a Church, Council, that of Chaledon (A.D. 451), found it necessary to pass canons for the regulation of monks. Yet these changes could affect only the East, the West having no part in its deliberations, and having as its representatives only four papal legates. Hence, while in the East some provisions. were made for the safety of Christian asceticism, in the: garb- of monasticism, the Western Church was constantly and considerably modifying the Eastern practices, until the relaxations of Western monastics threatened apostasy and heresy unlimited. The inmates of different cells under the same head varied in their observance, each recluse retaining his accustomed usage when admitted into the community. And, in truth, no rule could well be universal. In Gaul the monks declaimed against the severe rule of fasting imported from the East. A discipline that was practicable under a burning Syrian sun required modification to suit the colder latitude of Gaul. Discontent and laxity were taking hold everywhere, and monachism would perhaps have been unable to withstand the destructive influences which, in this and the following times, were spreading far and wide;, and the irregularities prevailing in the spiritual order would have become more widely diffused in Western monachism, which had a still laxer constitution, had not a remarkable man introduced into the monastic life a more settled order and a more rigid discipline, and given it the shaping and direction of a hierarchical religious order, by which it became so influential an instrument to Christianity, particularly for the conversion and the culture of rude nations (Neander, 2:259). This remarkable man was Benedict, an Italian monk of the early part of the 6th century. His religious rules were at first intended and framed merely for the government of the convent Monte Cassino (q.v.). over which he presided, but they afterwards were adopted by or forced upon a very great number of monasteries. His rule was founded on that of Pachomius, though in many respects it deviated from it. His great object seems to have been to render the discipline of the monks milder, their establishment more solid, and their manners more regular than those of other monastic establishments. "Benedict," says Neander, "aimed to counteract the licentious life of the irregular monks who roamed about the country, and spread a corrupting influence, both on manners and on religion-by the introduction of a severer discipline and spirit of order." The dominant principles of Benedict's rule are obedience and labor; being administrative rather than creative in its origin, and presupposing the existing rules of chastity and poverty. The founder speaks of his rule as merely a beginning, a tentative ordinance — "Hanc minimam inchoationis regulam," etc. (c. 73). The principal of every establishment was enjoined to take counsel, either of the whole house in capitular assembly, or of the decanal body chosen from the different decades of the community. A candidate for the novitiate was long kept without the walls to try his constancy... When admitted within, he was placed for two months under the tuition and surveillance of an experienced monk, and warned daily with respect to the hardships and discipline of the monastery. If the novice still wished to take the vow, the laws of the society were read over to him, and permission given him to return to the world if he so pleased. The same opportunity was three times repeated during the year of novitiate, at the expiration of which time he was admitted as a member of the community. The sixty- three heads under which the rule is arranged refer to the relative duties of the principal and subordinate members — divine worship, discipline, household economy, and various ordinances referring to hospitality, missions, nursing, etc. The prescribed dress was in all probability that which had always been adopted by recluses, for it is almost the .same. coarse garb as that which Columella (De Re Rustica, 11:1) recommends for the farm serf in all kinds of weather. The whole time of the monks of his order he .directed to be divided between prayer, reading, the education of youth, and other pious and learned labors. All who entered his order were obliged to promise when they were received as novitiates, and to repeat their promise when they were admitted as full members of the society, that they would in no respect and on no account attempt to change or add to the rules which he had instituted. Doubtless aware that the ascetic severity of many of the monastic orders in the East was unsuited to the rude men of the West, and also to the more unfriendly climate, Benedict did not require of his monks many of the mortifications which were sometimes imposed upon those of the East, and allowed them several indulgences which were there sometimes forbidden. His rule was consequently embraced by nearly all the monks of the West. In some of the more isolated churches, as, for instance, that of Britain, it would seem that the reformations of St. Benedict were not introduced until a late period; and in the churches of that country, as well as those of Ireland, they were a subject of considerable controversy.
Benedict admitted both the learned and unlearned into his order; it was the duty of the first to assist at the choir, of the latter to attend to the household economy and temporal concerns of the monastery. At this period, it may be observed, the recitation of the divine office at the choir (as it is called by the Roman Catholics) was confined to the monks; afterwards it was established as the duty of all priests, deacons, and sub- deacons. The Benedictines at first admitted none into their order who were not well instructed how to perform it; but it was not necessary that they should be priests, or even in holy orders. Afterwards many were admitted who were ignorant of the duty of the choir; they were employed in menial duties: hence the introduction of Lay Brothers into the Benedictine order. When first introduced, they were not considered as a portion of the monastic establishment, but as merely attached and subordinate to it; but in course of time both the order and the Church acknowledged them to be, in the strictest sense of the word, professed religious. All other religious orders, both men and women, following the example of the Benedictines, have admitted lay brothers and sisters. In 1322 the Council of Vienna ordered all monks to enter into the order of priesthood. The monks of Vallombrosa, in Tuscany, are the first among whom lay brothers are found under that appellation. SEE LAY BROTHER; SEE PRIESTHOOD. One of the most important modifications of monachism in the West, it will be noticed by the careful reader, regarded the nature of the occupation in which the monks were to be engaged during the times not directly devoted to prayer, meditation, or other spiritual exercises. In the East, manual labor formed the chief, if not the sole external occupation prescribed to the monks; it being held as a fundamental principle that for each individual the main business of life was the sanctification of his own soul. In the West, besides the labor of the hands, mental occupation was also prescribed, not, it is true, for all, but for those for whom it was especially calculated. From an early period, therefore, the convents of the West became schools of learning, and training-houses for the clergy and the missionary. At a later period, most monasteries possessed a scriptoriun, or writing-room, in which the monks were employed in the transcription of MSS.; and though- much of the work so done was, as might naturally be expected, in the department of sacred learning, yet it is to the scholars of the cloister we owe the preservation of most of those masterpieces of ancient classic literature .which have reached our age (comp., however, Leckey, Hist. Europ. Morals, 2:220 sq.), Thence also went out those who became founders of Christianity in heathen countries. In this way Germany and Switzerland were converted. In these, as well as in the Slavic countries, it was not only by preaching, but still more by the establishment of convents. having the character of agricultural establishments, that conversion was advanced (comp. Maclean, Hist. of Christian Missions in the Middle Ages, page 406 sq.).
3. Degeneracy of Monachism, and its Extension. — The irruption of the Lombards into Italy and of the Saracens into Spain, and the civil wars in France after the death of Charlemagne, as well as the many favors received from the Church, which had come to regard recluses as a higher class of Christians, having facilitated the growth of moral corruption among the monastics, and having introduced great disorder also among the Benedictines, several attempts at reform were made, and for many centuries the history of monachism now comes to present a continual struggle of reformers with the laxity, indifference, or immorality obtaining in a larger or lesser number of the convents of those times. The first and most noted of the reformers was Benedict of Aniane (1821), whose commentary on the rule of Benedict of Nursia obtained later an equally authoritative character. Next in order stands Berno, the founder of the Clugny C'ongregation (q.v.), afterwards reformed by his- successor, St. Odo. Several monasteries adopted Odo's reforms; but it was Clugny alone that enjoyed the greatest privileges, and it was generally looked upon as the main pillar of the reformatory party. It controlled nearly all the important convents of Gaul and Italy. In the 11th century the Benedictine order again fell from its original purity and strictness. This gave rise to many attempts to restore it to its pristine form and object; hence arose the Carthusians, the Camaldules, the Celestines, the Cistercians, the monks of
Grammont the Congregation of St. Maur, and the celebrated monks of La Trappe.
In the 8th century a kind of middle order between the monks and the clergy had been formed, called the canons regular of St. Augustine. Their dwellings and table were in common, and they assembled at fixed hours for the divine service. In these respects they resembled the monks; but they differed from them in taking no vows, and they often officiated in churches committed to their care. Having degenerated in the 12th century, pope Nicholas II introduced a considerable reformation among them. At this period they seem to have divided into several branches of the original order; some formed themselves into communities, in which there was a common dwelling and table, but each monk, after contributing to the general stock, employed the fruits of his benefices as he deemed proper. At the head of another union was the bishop of Chartres. They adopted a more rigid and austere mode of life, renounced their worldly possessions, all private property, and lived exactly as the strictest order of monks did. This gave rise to the distinction between the secular and regular canons. The former observed the decree of pope Nicholas II; the latter followed the bishop of Chartres, and were called the regular canons of St. Augustine, because they were formed on the rules laid down by St. Augustine in his Epistles. They kept public schools for the instruction of youth, and exercised a variety of other employments useful to the Church. A reform was effected in the Augustines by St. Norbert; and, as he presided over a convent at Prinontre, in Picardy, those monks who adopted his rule were called Premonstratenses. They spread throughout Europe with great rapidity.
Other orders also arose, mainly devoted to special benevolent or religious purposes. Thus, e.g., the Order of St. Anthony (1095) and the Hospitallers (1078) devoted themselves to the nursing of the sick, the Order of Fontevraud (1094) to the correction of lewd women, and the Trinitarians (1198) to the redeeming of Christian prisoners. Even the warlike tendencies of those times sought a union with the monastic spirit by the establishment of several orders of knights, such as the Knights of St. John, the Templars, the Teutonic Knights, the orders of St. Jago, Calatrava, Alcantara, Avis, and St. Maurice. SEE KNIGHTHOOD. During this period convents of nuns were also established, the institutes and regulations of which were similar to. those adopted by the Benedictines and Augustines, or to the reformed branches springing from those' two. great orders.
We see in all this that in the remarkable religious movement which characterized the Church of the 12th century the principle of monachism underwent considerable modification; and yet, however active and consistent these different orders might be, they were still too imperfectly adapted to the wants of the fast approaching 13th century. There was yet too much self-indulgence in the inhabitants of the cloister, and .too little for the general want in the semi-monastic orders of the knights. The latter were too much confined to special wants in life only; the former, as men who had renounced the business of this world to make themselves another in the cloisters where they lived and died, kept too far aloof from secular concerns; and even where they had been most assiduous in the duties of their convent, their attachment to it often indisposed them to stand forward and do battle with the numerous sects that threatened to subvert Christianity itself. Something ruder and more practical, less wedded to peculiar spots and less entangled by superfluous property, was needed if the Church was to repair its rigid and monastic form (comp. Hardwick, Ch. Hist M.A. page 230). The want was made peculiarly apparent when thee Albigenses began to lay unwonted stress on their own poverty and to decry the self indulgence of the monks; and the Church itself, fearing for its safety, declared against the further extension of the monastic power in the Lateran Council of 1215.
At this juncture arose the two mendicant orders, (1) the Minors or Franciscans (q.v.), and (2) the Preachers or Dominicans (q.v.), both destined for two centuries to play a leading part in all the fortunes of the Church. SEE MENDICANTS. They aimed at being the best soldiers of the Church militant, and they had therefore a marked influence on subsequent Church history. They renounced every kind of worldly goods and founded what was termed an "order of penitence" (the third estate of friars), composed of the laity (especially the working classes), who, while pledged to do the bidding of the pope and to observe the general regulations of the institute, were not restricted by the vow of celibacy, nor compelled to take their leave entirely of the world. We thus see that the spiritual egotism, so to speak, of the early monachism, which in some sense limited the work of the cloister to the sanctification of the individual, gave place to the more comprehensive range of spiritual duty, and made the spiritual and even the temporal necessities of one's neighbor, equally with if not more than one's own, the object of the work of the cloister. But more than that. The mendicants thus created for themselves a numerous and influential party among the laity by these territories, and the Church, prizing this hold on the community, stood ready to give place to such aids. They wandered over all Europe, instructing the people, both old and young, and exhibiting such an aspect of sanctity and self-denial that they speedily became objects of universal admiration. Their churches were crowded, while those of the regular parish priests were almost wholly deserted; all classes sought to receive the sacraments at their hands; their advice was eagerly courted in secular business, and even in the most intricate political affairs; so that in the 13th and two following centuries the mendicant orders generally, but more especially the Dominicans and Franciscans, were intrusted with the management of all matters both in Church and State. They also secured many of the chairs of the theological schools in spite of the secular clergy, and the most illustrious representatives of the 13th and 14th centuries (Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, Albertus Magnus, Alexander of Hales, etc.) were either Dominicans or Franciscans. Several of their number filled the highest ecclesiastical positions, even the papal chair. They certainly raised monachism to the zenith of its power, influence, and prosperity. Besides the Franciscans and the Dominicans, there were the Carmelites and the. ermits of St. Augustine, but both of these were much inferior in number, reputation, and influence to the Franciscans and Dominicans. Having thus become both important and powerful, the mendicants rapidly multiplied, and the most serious results were likely to arise, as they were generally independent of episcopal jurisdiction, and were rivals to bishops and priests. The high estimation, moreover, into which monachism had risen, more particularly through the wide-spread influence of the begging friars, awakened a spirit of bitter hostility, not simply in all orders of the clergy, but also in the universities. In England the University of Oxford, and in France the University of Paris, arduously labored to overthrow its now spreading power. Pope Gregory X, with a view to check the overgrown-evil, went so far even as to issue a decree prohibiting all the orders which had originated since the time of Innocent III (A.D. 1200), and reduced the mendicants to four orders — the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Augustinians. The Church of Rome, says Butler, "has acknowledged only these four orders to be mendicant," and the reason given is that "an order is considered to be mendicant, in the proper import of that word, when it has no fixed income, and derives its whole subsistence from casual and uncertain bounty, obtained by personal mendicity. To that St. Francis did not wish his brethren, to have recourse till they had endeavored to earn a competent subsistence by labor, and found their earnings insufficient. But soon after the decease of St. Francis, the exertions, equally incessant and laborious, of his disciples for the spiritual welfare of the faithful appeared, in the universal opinion of the Church, to be both incompatible with manual labor and much more than a compensation to the public for all they could possibly obtain from it by mendicity. This opinion was unequivocally expressed by St. Thomas' Aquinas, and sanctioned by a bull of pope Nicholas III; since that time the friars have not used manual labor as a means of subsistence, but resorted in the first instance to mendicity." Mendicity seems to have made no part of the original rules of the Dominicans, Carmelites, or Hermits of Augustine; and, in consequence of the evils attendant on it, the Council of Trent confined mendicity to the Observantines and Capuchins, allowing the other Franciscan establishments, and almost all the establishments of the three other orders, to acquire permanent property.
In the 14th century, though partly checked by the mendicant orders, a general degeneracy of monachism commenced, and the corruption, from which hardly a single order kept itself entirely free, became so overwhelming that towards the close of the Middle Ages the name monk was often used by writers as synonymous with rudeness and ignorance. "The monks," says Hardwick, "gorged with the ecclesiastical endowments, lost the moral elevation they had shown throughout the early periods of the Church, and with it forfeited their hold on the affections of the people. Except the Order of Carthusians, none of them adhered to the letter of their institute. Their intellectual vigor at the same time underwent a corresponding deterioration, insomuch that few if any works of merit, either in the field of science or in that of theology, proceeded in this age from the cloisters of the West" (Ch. Hist. M.A. page 343; comp. Gieseler, Ecclesiastes Hist. 3:85 sq., 286 sq.). The monks, like a swarm of locusts, covered all Europe, proclaiming everywhere the obedience due. to the holy mother Church, the reverence due to the saints (and more especially to the Virgin Mary), the efficacy of relics, the torments of purgatory, and the blessed advantages arising from indulgences. Reformatory attempts were vainly made in every century. Different new orders — as the Jesuits, Brigittines, Servites, Hieronymites, and others — were founded; but their influence was weak in comparison with that of their predecessors, and frequently, after an existence of fifty or one hundred years, they themselves were as far astray from the primitive standard of rigid asceticism. "The progress of monasticism," says Cramp, " was distinguished for several centuries by unexampled prosperity and its ordinary attendant, corruption. Replenished with wealth, which the ignorant and superstitious people lavished upon them, thinking to gain favor with God thereby, the monks indulged in every kind of licentious excess, till they were as infamous for vice as their predecessors had been renowned for piety. Reformation was frequently attempted, and many new orders arose, professing at first great zeal for purity, and adopting the strictest modes of discipline, verging sometimes to the extremity of human endurance. But these also soon shared 'the general fate, and sank to the same low level of shameless sensuality" (comp. Concil., Labbe et Cossart, ed. Mansi, tom. 18:270; Gieseler, Ecclesiastes Hist. 2:120). The councils of Constance (A.D. 1415) and Basle (A.D. 1431), in their endeavors to brace up monastic discipline afresh, devised reformatory measures; but they produced only transitory changes, and those only in few places. As a whole, it was daily more apparent that monasticism was growing almost incorrigible, and was ripening daily for the scythe. One of the strongest evidences of such a tendency was the formation of four spiritual associations to take the place of the monastic orders. Thus flourished, in spite of the indiscriminate denunciation of pope and priest and persecution by the Inquisition, the Beguards or Beguines, who must be regarded as an offshoot of monasticism, though they exhibited a freer and less hierarchical spirit. They flourished mainly in Germany and the Netherlands; but other groups, in which the Beguard influence was apparent, began to spread rapidly throughout the West. They were religious brotherhoods and sisterhoods, distinguished for their zeal in visiting the sick, or, as in the case of those to whom the name of Lollards (q.v.) was popularly given, for singing at funerals, and for otherwise assisting in the burial of the dead. This associational principle was further developed by the Brethren of the Free Spirit, a confraternity which owed their origin to Gerhard Groot (middle of the 14th century), and who for some time seemed to be preparing the way for an entirely new phase of monachism. In their reformatory labors they frequently came into collision with the highest Church authorities, especially the Inquisition, though this did not prevent their spread. Their numerous societies were equally distinguished for their mysticism and their usefulness. Some of the brethren were engaged in instruction, others employed themselves in various kinds of handicraft for their livelihood. One of their chief objects was always to advance the religious education of the common people, and especially to raise up from them a pious clergy, so that they soon became fruitful nurseries for monks. This activity, and the respect in which the brethren were held by the people, excited powerfully the envy of the mendicants, but they gradually slackened their opposition when they found their own numbers increasing through the labors of these Fratres communis vitae. The most remarkable of the new orders established in this period was that of the Minimi. Their founder, Francis of Paula, a small town in Calabria, after having lived for a short time in an unreformed Franciscan convent, established himself as a hermit in the neighborhood of his native city, and from 1457 gathered around him a society of those who shared his views. The fame of his miraculous power soon extended his society, which was confirmed by Sixtus IV (1474), under the name of the Eremities. Francisci, first in Italy, and afterwards in France, where the superstitious Louis XI had summoned the founder of the order to his aid in the last extremity (1482); and at a later period in Spain. The order, distinguished always from the rest of the Franciscans b)v the observance of the vita quadragesimalis, received afterwards a rule from its founder, and, to distinguish themselves from the Fratres Minores, and to go one step beyond them, assumed the name of "Ordo minimorum fratrum eremitarumn Fratres Francisci de Paula." SEE MINIMAS.
The Reformation of the 16th century may well be called the Revolutionary period in the history of monachism. The deep decline which this institution had suffered during and immediately following the Crusades, a period in which, as we have seen, even the knights and barons subjected their profession of warriors to the forms of monkish laws, had been, it is true, to a very great extent relieved by a period of spiritual activity, ushered in by the mendicants. At their commencement they undoubtedly contributed to the restoration of primitive simplicity, their avowed object, but gradually most of them also became disorderly and worldly; and a leading feature in the corruption of the Church was perceived to be in those very orders founded to promote apostolic simplicity in the Christian Church. The best and most influential men in the Church cordially joined in the demand for a thorough reformation; they willingly and frankly admitted that the crisis had been in part occasioned by the corruption of the clergy, secular as well as monastic, and they urged, in particular, the imperious necessity of a reformation of the religious orders (comp. Gieseler, Ecclesiastes Hist. 4:131-156). The protest of the Reformers met with a cordial response in the breasts of multitudes whose attachment to the Church of Rome. was warm and almost inextinguishable. In Italy attempts were made to renovate their youth; but on the Continent, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, the people would be satisfied with nothing short of the dissolution of monkery (Ranke, Papacy, 1:129, 384): they were determined that no monasteries or convents should longer subsist. This opposition had been engendered partly by a gradual alienation of all monastics from the people, but even more by the attacks that had been made upon it by many of the leading Reformers, who sought reformation within the Church. Foremost among them was that declared foe of all superstition, the immortal Erasmus (q.v.). In his early days he had tasted, by constraint, something of monkish life, and his natural abhorrence of it was made more intense by his bitter recollection, and by the trouble it cost him, after he had become famous, to release himself from the thraldom to which his former associates were inclined to call him back. He was very competent, therefore, to bear testimony for or against the monkish life, and when he became its opponent his opinions commanded the attention of all the thoughtful. And not only became he now an opponent, but a lifelong warfarer against the monks and their ideas and practices. His tongue and his pen also were used freely. His Praise of Folly, and, in particular, the Colloquies, in which the idleness, illiteracy, self-indulgence, and artificial and useless austerities of "the religious" were handled in the most diverting style, were read with infinite amusement by all who sympathized with the new studies, and by thousands who did not calculate the effect of this telling satire in abating popular reverence even for the Church establishment as a whole. It is not to be wondered, then, that popes, bishops, and councils urged upon the reformers within the religious orders to speed the day of transformation. Indeed, the internal history of nearly every order records, at this point of time, strong resolutions in favor of an enforcement of the rigorous primitive rules. "As early as 1520," says Ranke, "and since, in proportion to the advances made by Protestantism in Germany, there arose in countries which had not yet been reached by' it, a feeling of the necessity of a new amelioration of the hierarchical order. This feeling made its way even in the religious orders themselves; sometimes in one, sometimes in another of them." Even the Order of the Camaldoli, secluded as they were, owned themselves implicated in the general corruption, and instituted reforms, by founding in 1522 a new congregation, that of Monte Corona (comp. Helyot, Hist. des ordres monastiques, 5:271). Its leader, Paul Giustiniani, held, in order to the attainment of Christian perfection, three things to be essential, viz. solitude, vows, and the separation of the monks into separate cells. Those small cells and oratories, such as are yet to be found here and there, on the highest hills, in charming wilds, such as seem to conduct the soul at once to sublime flights and to more profound tranquillity, are spoken of by him in some of his letters with special satisfaction. The reforms of the hermits of Monte Corona extended to all parts of the world. But not only in the smaller orders did this spirit of reform bear fruit. In the most numerous and powerful order, that of the Franciscans, who had perhaps become the most profoundly corrupt of any, yet another new effort at reformation was attempted, in addition to the many that had been made before. The more rigorous party achieved a complete success over those inclined towards laxity, and several new reformed congregations branched off from them, among which the Capuchins were the most prominent. These friars contemplated the restoration of the regulations of their original founder- divine service at midnight, prayers at appointed hours, discipline, and silence; in short, the whole severe rule of life laid down in the original institution. One cannot but smile at the importance which they attached to things of no consequence; but, setting that aside, it must be acknowledged that they again behaved with great courage, as, for example, during the pestilence of 1528.
Besides the reformation of the old orders, the Church showed itself most prolific in producing new ones, and the character of the times is clearly apparent in many of these new organizations. The monastic institutions of former days had been, as religious communities, essentially contemplative; the new ones were predominantly operative, the mendicant orders forming, so to speak, a connecting link between the two. Preaching, teaching, visiting the sick and poor, and similar objects, formed the chief occupations of the new orders, to which the greatest energy was 'directed. Thus arose the Theatines (q.v.) in 1524, started by Cajetan of Thiene; "a man," says Ranke, "of a peaceful, quiet, and soft temper, of few words, and prone to indulge in the ecstasies of a spiritual enthusiasm; of whom it was said that he wanted to reform the world, but without its being known that he was. in the world" (Papacy, 2:131). The Theatines did not call themselves monks, but regular clergy; they were priests bound by monkish vows, but expressly declared that neither in life nor worship should any mere custom oblige the conscience. Their desire, no doubt, was to prevent the spread of reformatory opinions leading to alienation from the Church of Rome; and, themselves Italians, they sought, in the resumption of clerical duties under the monastic vow, to raise up a new supply for the priesthood free from the objections of the times. They became pretty numerous, not only in Italy, but also in Spain, South Germany, and in France. Another of these orders was that of the Barnabites (q.v.), also founded in Italy in 1532, suggested at Milan by the ravages of war and the consequent sufferings of the people, which the order was intended to mitigate by active beneficence, as well as to remove the disorderly habits which it had brought in its train, by instruction, preaching, and good example. Somewhat later, St. Philip Neri, an active and remarkable devotee of the papacy at Florence, founded the order Fathers of the Oratory, which was confirmed by pope Gregory XIII in 1577, and spread not only in Italy, but to this day continues to flourish, especially in France.
But whatever might be accomplished by all these congregations in their own circles, either the limited extent of their object, as in the instance we have last mentioned, or that circumspection of their means, which was involved in the nature of the case, as on the part of the Theatines, hindered their exercising a general and thoroughly efficient influence. They are remarkable as signalizing, in the spontaneity of their origin, a powerful tendency, which contributed immensely to the restoration of Roman Catholicism; but other forces were requisite in order that the bold advance of Protestantism might be effectually withstood. These forces developed themselves in a similar, but in a very unlooked-for and extremely peculiar manner; and as heretofore, so even now, monasticism proved Rome's strongest ally, and the papacy once more leaned on the new-born babe of the monastic spirit. Leo X had died, leaving the fierce flame of insubordination untrammelled, and Paul III had vainly tried to subdue the indomitable will of that fierce monster, the Reformation, when suddenly there arose in the Iberian peninsula a semi-monastic organization, which, growing out of the Capuchin order, laid the foundation for the strongest religious society the world has ever known. The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, as it is generally called, took a middle rank between monks and the secular clergy, approaching nearer to the regular canons than to any other order. They lived separate from the multitude, and were bound by religious vows; but they were exempt from stated hours of worship, and other strict observances, by which the monks were bound. In short, instead of spending their time in devotion and penance and fasting, they gave themselves to the active service of the Church. Their principal duty was to direct the education of youth and the consciences of the faithful, and to uphold the cause of the Church by their missions, and their pious and learned labors. They were divided into three classes, the first of which were the professed members. These, besides the ordinary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, bound themselves to go, without murmur, inquiry, deliberation, or delay, wherever the pope should think fit to send them: they were monastics without property. The second class comprehended the scholars: these were possessed of large revenues; their duty was to teach in the colleges of the order. The third class comprehended the novices, who lived in the houses of probation. SEE JESUITS. The constitution of the Jesuits was controlled, more than that of any other order before or after, by the principle of an absolute submission to the Church and the pope. The order was to be an instrument in the hands of the Church; the individual, therefore, was advised to become, with regard to the commands of his superior, as destitute of self-will "as a corpse," or "as a cane in the hands of an old man." No order ever carried out its fundamental principle more faithfully, and in subsequent battles of the Roman Catholic Church the Jesuits stood in the front rank. Other orders also were founded which proved more or less valuable supports of the papacy. There arose even several female orders among them the Elizabethines (q.v.), the Ursulines (q.v.), and the Sisters of Charity. SEE CHARITY, SISTERS OF. One of the strongest orders which arose in the 17th century was the Lazarist (q.v.).
The culture of literature, against which in the Middle Ages some founders of monastic orders had expressly warned their members, showed itself, after the 16th century, so great a necessity that it was practically observed by all orders, though but few gave it special attention. Among those orders which thus greatly distinguished themselves, the French Oratorians and the Benedictines of St. Maur hold by universal consent not only the most prominent position, but they are even assigned a distinguished place among the great literary societies of the world. Indeed the cause of education, especially the cause of primary instruction, became gradually a subject of more or less interest to all the religious orders. Many congregations, both male and female, were instituted for the special purpose of controlling primary instruction, especially in France, and a large number of schools have ever since been under the direction of monastics.
If the Romish Church sought to strengthen itself by the new measures adopted by monasticism in providing such education for the coming generations as the Church could endorse, another measure was still needed to give the Church strength abroad. Great loss of territory and numbers had been suffered in consequence of the reformation. This want also the monastics soon provided for. They became very extensively missionary organizations. Instead of confining their labors; as was their wont to do, to the home work, they now directed their attention to the foreign missionary 'cause. Most of the larger orders, especially the mendicants and the Jesuits, engaged in it with great zeal and emulation. The latter even took, besides the usual three vows, a fourth obligation, viz. to go without hesitation as missionaries to any country where it might please the pope to send them. In consequence, the extent of their missionary operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America excelled anything the Roman Catholic Church had done in this field before. SEE MISSIONS. Indeed, the great majority of the Roman Catholic missions in all pagan countries have ever since been conducted by the members of religious orders (see Harper's Monthly for February 1875).
4. Present Condition of Roman Catholic Monachism. — In the 17th century the attention of many monastics was more specially directed towards the necessity of bringing back their institutions, as far as possible, to the rules and laws of their order, and the monks of the Roman Catholic churches now became divided into the Reformed and the Unreformed, and some real effort to restore the monasteries and nunneries to their original state was attempted. But whatever necessity existed for these institutions in an age of barbarism and violence, it had now ceased. The printing-press was proving a more powerful preservative of the Bible and religious literature than the cells of the monks, and long experience had demonstrated that to shut one's self out from the world was but a sorry way to keep unspotted from it. Such a time was not likely to give life to new monastic institutions, and hence we find the productivity of the Church as regards monachism very greatly decreased. In the 18th century only one larger order, the Redemptorists, or the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, founded by St. Alfonso di Liguori, sprang up. Most of the orders, indeed, in the second half of this century, relapsed either into torpor or corruption, and made but a very feeble resistance when the rationalistic views which became so prevalent among the educated classes in every European country, Catholic as well as Protestant, declared against them a war of destruction. Hence in many countries the state authorities interfered anew to destroy conventual life. In Austria, Joseph II suppressed as useless all convents of monks not occupied in education, pastoral duties, or the nursing of the sick; and many Roman Catholic writers demanded the extirpation of monasticism altogether, after stamping it as both an outgrowth and a promoter of fanaticism. Even the papacy was influenced, and the incumbent of St. Peter's at Rome had no other alternative left him than to yield to the general pressure. The consequence was the abolishment of the most powerful of the orders, the Jesuits. The French Revolution threatened the very life of monachism, and had that movement proved successful the monastic institutions would have passed out of existence probably in all Europe.
The downfall of the Napoleonic rule gave brighter prospects to the friends of monasticism, and as an evidence of its revival may be cited the re- establishment of the Jesuits by Pius VII in 1114. These now rapidly rose again to considerable strength and influence wherever they were not forcibly suppressed. SEE JESUITS. In the countries of the Latin races, both in Europe and America, the fate of monachism was closely allied with the political strife of the conservative and the liberal or progressive parties, the former patronizing it, together with all other ecclesiastical institutions; the latter subjecting it to prohibitive rules, or suppressing it altogether. In consequence of the successes of the liberals, monachism was greatly reduced in South America, and in Italy (in 1848, and again in 1859, 1860, 1866, and 1870, until it is now on the eve of complete suppression by law of the state, 1875). SEE MONASTERY. It was also wellnigh extinguished in Spain (1835), and especially in Portugal (1834). In France alone the vicissitudes of political rule have thus far failed to affect monasticism — indeed, the rapid growth of monastic institutions in that country have not been in point of zeal, activity, and general prosperity behind what they had been during the golden sera of their existence. Under the Bourbons, and under Louis Philippe, the liberal party. occasionally demanded coercive measures against them; but since the establishment of the. republic in 1848 even the liberals, having given a wider interpretation to religious liberty than Americans have ever dared to give, have accustomed themselves no longer to refuse the free right of association to the members of religious orders. Nearly every one of the old orders established itself in France, and a number of new congregations were formed, and there is at present a greater variety of monastic institutions in that country than any state has possessed at any previous period. In July, 1860, M. Dupin, in a speech before the senate of France, stated that there were then in the country 4932 authorized and 2870 unauthorized establishments and since then their number has somewhat increased. Next to France, they are most numerous, wealthy, and influential in Belgium, where, as in France, public instruction is very largely under their control.
Among the Teutonic nations the monastic establishments have, throughout the British possessions, Holland, and North America (see below; see also Sisters of Charity), partaken more or less of the blessings of liberal institutions, and can hardly be accused of departure from their rules except in isolated, instances. Public opinion, however, has provided for one measure in their constitution not known elsewhere, viz. that any member wishing to leave their establishments shall have liberty to do so. Austria protected monasticism, but kept the inhabitants of convents under a bureaucratic guardianship until 1848, when it was changed into a zealous support and encouragement. Since 1866, however, the monasteries have been under a shadow, and it is more than likely that ere long monastic institutions will be done away with in that Roman Catholic country. In many of the other German countries, the revolution of 1848 has procured for monasticism a favorable position; and in lands where formerly it was either proscribed or but barely tolerated, it has since flourished. Even those states whose codes retain laws against their admission in general, as Saxony and the neighboring countries of Sweden and Denmark, have admitted the Sisters of Charity. SEE DEACONESSES and SEE SISTERHOODS. In Russia the monastics suffered severe losses, but in Turkey they have as missionaries done much to build up the Christian faith.
The number of monastic associations founded in our century is so considerably in advance of any former period of equal length, that to a superficial observer it would indicate a growth of the monastic spirit. This is, however, due solely to the concentration of Romanism in this direction, the papacy finding these its best and perhaps only never-failing support. A peculiar feature which characterizes. them as the offspring of the present age, and distinguishes them from the preceding orders, is easily discovered in all of them; the marks which externally distinguish them from the non- monastic world are less visible, and the social wants of ecclesiastical and civil society stand pre-eminently forth as the primary cause of their origin and the chief object of their labors. A large number of them are devoted to the instruction of youth. Such are several congregations of school-brothers and schoolsisters, Brothers and Sisters of St. Joseph, Brothers and Daughters of the Holy Cross, etc. Many others bind themselves to the service of the sick and the poor, as the Little Sisters of the Poor, the most numerous and popular among them. Not a few cultivate the mission field; either the foreign missions, as the Picpus Society, the Oblates, the Brothers
and Daughters of Zion (both for the conversion of the Jews, the latter consisting exclusively of converts), or the home missions, as the Paulists.
In the United States, monachism, because modified to suit the nature and exigencies of the times, is a flourishing and important institution, and serves as the great feeder of the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the Roman Catholic schools are more or less directly connected with these institutions, and under the care of "fathers" or "sisters." The rigor which characterized the monasteries and nunneries when they were devoted wholly or chiefly to devotional uses is somewhat relaxed here, and they are simply working institutions. "In the schools connected with these monastic establishments, especially in those for girls," says a contemporary, "secular branches are taught, but commingled with the Romish theology; and the pupils are brought under influences, both strong and subtle, upon the imagination and the feelings, in favor of the Romish communion; while the effect of the education (we speak of the result both of personal observation and of inquiry among pupils in these schools) is to divert the mind from the more solid to the more superficial branches-from mathematics and the sciences, to painting, drawing, music, and needle-work; and to base such studies as are taught rather upon authority than upon any habits of personal and individual investigation. It is impossible to obtain the statistics of these conventual schools, for they are carefully concealed; we have, however, instituted some inquiries upon this point, with the following results: There are in the United States today, at the very least, 300 nunneries and 128 monasteries, besides 112 schools for the education of girls,, and 400 for the education of boys. Of the nunneries and monasteries (as such) we have found it impossible to obtain any trustworthy information, either as to discipline or number of inmates; but the 112 girls' schools acknowledge the charge of 22,176 young women, and this we have excellent reasons for believing to be far below the real number, for the disposition to conceal the actual work done is so marked that even their own official organs admit the impossibility of obtaining statistics. Thus, there are known to be 400 Roman Catholic schools for boys: but there are only returns from 178 procurable. The archdiocese of Baltimore alone contains 21 convents — one of colored sisters — in all of which education is carried on. Besides these, there are in Baltimore at least a dozen colleges and young girls' seminaries under Roman Catholic spiritual direction; also 50 pay and free schools taught by the "brothers and sisters of Christian schools," "Sisters of Notre Dame," "Sisters of Mercy," etc., who also have charge of 13
orphan asylums, and various other charitable and pious sodalities. And the archdiocese of Baltimore only represents what is done all over the country. These figures and they are far from complete — certainly underrate rather than overrate the work." The Reverend Samuel W. Barnum, a learned and careful writer, and the latest Protestant author on Romanism in this country (Ronanisnm as it is, page 332), has brought together the scattered and incomplete statistics of monasticism in the United States of America, and comes to the conclusion that there are "about 30 religious orders and congregations for men, and about 50 for women, the whole numbering more than 2500 males (including Jesuits) and more than 8000 females, and having under their care considerably more than 200,000 children and youth in the process of education. More than one half of the male religious are priests, and more than 300 Jesuits." In a literary point of view monastics do not at present share the reputation of their predecessors in former centuries. though men like Lacordaire, Ravigna, Gratry, and Hyacinthe in France, Rosmini and Secchi in Italy, and Haneberg in Germany, occupy a high place in the annals of contemporaneous literature. In respect to their present moral condition, Roman Catholics admit the existence in some places, particularly in Central and South America, of considerable corruption and ignorance in many convents of the older orders. In some of them, also, the ancient constitutions have fallen more or less into disuse. The regular connection of the general superiors with their subordinates has been in great part interrupted, and the holding of general, assemblies has ceased. The present pontiff at the commencement of his reign proclaimed' it as one of his chief tasks to carry out a thorough reform of monastic orders; and in some orders, as the Dominicans, an extensive reformation has since taken place. The whole number of monastic institutions in the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world was estimated by the Catholic Almanac for 1870 to be 8000 establishments for males, with an aggregate of 117,500 members, and 10,000 for females, with an aggregate-membership of 189,000, making a grand total of 306,500 members. It is beyond the scope of this work to give in this place a list of all the monastic organizations; they are severally treated under their respective names. It may not be out of place, however, to call the reader's attention to the fact that the different monastic institutes of the West are almost all offshoots or modifications of the Benedictines (q.v.); of whom the most remarkable are the Cartlesians Cistercitus, Grammonites, Clugniacs, Praemonstratensians, and above all the
Maurists, or Benedictines of St. Maur (q.v.). Among the eremitical orders are the Hermits of St. Augustine, who trace their origin to the early father of that name, but are subdivided into several varieties, which had their rise in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries; also the Camaldolese, founded by St. Romuald in 1012; the Celestines, a branch of the Franciscans, established by Peter Murrone, afterwards pope Celestine V; the Hieronymites (q.v.), established first in Castile in the 14th century, and thence introduced into other parts of Spain and into Italy by Lope d'Olmeda in 1424; and the Paulites, so called from St. Paul, the first hermit, but an institute of the 13th century, which had its origin in Hungary, and attained to a wider extension and a greater popularity than perhaps any other among the eremitical orders.
5. Monasticism in the Protestant Church. — The Reformation of the 16th century rejected monachism, as supported by the papacy and the patriarchate, as being based on the false principle of the meritoriousness of good works. One small denomination, the Dunkers, have retained nearly the whole of the monastic organization. Solitary voices among the Protestant theologians of the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries, and even of our own more advanced age, have expressed a regret that, with the monachism of the old churches, the principle of forming religious communities of men and women for the more efficient fulfilment of the duties of charity had been altogether discarded. Since the beginning of this century both the "Evangelical" and "High Lutheran" schools of Germany have approved the establishment of houses of deacons (q.v.) and deaconesses (q.v.), also called brother-houses and sisterhouses, the inmates of which associate for the purpose of teaching, of attending the sick, of taking charge of public prisons, and for other works of Christian charity. Institutions of this kind are rapidly spreading in Germany and the adjacent countries. In the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, sisterhoods (q.v.) have been formed at various times, and have recently greatly multiplied. There have also started in England, under the auspices of what is commonly called the High-Church party, several male monastic organizations, but they have not found favor generally, and are not likely to continue long in existence. The principal leader in this Protestant monastic establishment in Britain is Mr. Lyne, better known as Father Ignatius, who assumes the monkish dress, and, with shaven crown and sandalled feet, reminds one of the monastics of the Middle Ages (see St. James's Magazine, March, 1870).
6. Nature and Effect of Monasticism. — We have already indicated in some measure the character of monachism, as we have traced its origin and progress. It remains to consider briefly the spirit as well as the results of monasticism. In surveying monasticism as an institution coming down from the 4th century till the Reformation, we freely admit that, in the circumstances in which the world found itself placed during that period of time, it was far from being an unmitigated evil. In its origin, at least, it was a great human effort to remedy the moral disorder by which mankind in all ages are infected. When children raise a ladder upon the hill-top with the: design that upon it they may climb upwards, and thus draw near to God, we cannot make light of their motives, even though we should smile at their plans ; and so every attempt of man to eradicate the selfishness of his nature, to turn back the tide of the world's corruption, and to elevate himself in the scale of morality, is so far praiseworthy, even though we have no faith that this is to be done by men and women entering voluntarily into a prison, shutting themselves up, and barring the world out. "It was the spirit of monachism," says Neander, "which gave special prominence to that Christian point of view from which all men were regarded as originally equal in the sight of God; which opposed the consciousness of God's image in human nature, to the grades and distinctions flowing out of the relations of the state... The spirit of contempt for earthly show, the spirit of universal philanthropy, revealed itself in the pure appearances of monachism, and in much that proceeded from it" (2:251; comp. page 238). In the darkest of the ages, souls truly pious, there can be no doubt, often withdrew to such places that they might without distraction prepare for another world. In times of lawless force and bloodshed, every one knows that the monastery was an asylum where weak. and timorous spirits, ill able to cope with the rude society in which they found themselves, could retire for shelter and safety. The old monks, in their earliest and best days, before their indolence was fostered by wealth and luxury, were often the only examples of peaceful industry in a district, and taught their less skilful neighbors how to till the earth, and draw from the reluctant soil a more generous return for their labor. In their lonely cells they often spent their leisure in copying valuable manuscripts and. producing original works, which, though seldom. rising to the rank of classics, have preserved many valuable facts, and are true photographs of the bright and the dark, the comely and ungainly features of their times. "The cloisters, moreover," says Neander, "were institutions of education, and, as such, were the more distinguished on account of the care they bestowed on religious and moral culture, because education generally in this period had fallen into neglect" (2:252). Perhaps it is not too much to say that in the deluge of barbarism that overflowed the civilization of Christendom in the early mediaeval ages, the Scriptures and the classics must have perished had it not been that they were deposited in those monastic edifices, for which the wildest pagans, in many instances, entertained a superstitious respect. Moreover, in cases without number, the monastery was a missionary training-school, planted within the limits of some heathen land, from which the monks went forth courageously and devotedly to propagate the religion of the age, such as it was, in the surrounding districts to be the pioneers of civilization and the advance-guard of Christianity among a rude and idolatrous population. The conversion of the pagan English, and particularly of the southern kingdoms, to the faith of Christ, was mainly due to the energy and sacrifice of the monks and bishops of Rome, and it was accompanied by a parallel conversion to the authority of St. Peter. It was at that time a vast and unspeakable blessing to England to be brought in this way into association with other people, and to become thus an integral part of the Christian commonwealth. The ideal of the divine life which was set before the young and crude converts was impressive, and upon the whole beneficial, even though it lacked the freedom and naturalness of true life, and cramped and resisted the grace of God. Dean Milman tells us that the calm example of the domestic virtues in a more polished but often, as regards: sexual intercourse, more corrupt state of morals, is of inestimable value, as spreading around the parsonage an atmosphere of peace and happiness, and offering a living lesson on the blessings of conjugal fidelity. But such Christianity would have made no impression on a people who still retained something of their Teutonic severity of manners, and required, therefore, something more imposing-a sterner and more manifest self-denial — to keep up their religious veneration. The detachment of the clergy from all earthly ties left them at once more unremittingly devoted to their unsettled life as missionaries. It is probable that the isolation and the self-torture of the monks did produce a deep impression on those who had neither moral energy nor mental concentration equal to such a task. It is possible that the claims of a hierarchy were more rapidly introduced by these means, so that it became more easy to create new institutions, to organize Christian worship, to build vast ecclesiastical edifices, to promote literature, to divide the labor of Christian workmen, as soon as the available strength of young Christendom was all brought under severe drill, taught to monopolize the highest grace, and invested with preternatural powers. In old feudal times. when the strong were so ready to domineer over the weak, and society had so little thought of providing for the unfortunate, in the monastery, spirits bruised and bleeding found advice, the sick found medicine, the hungry poor found bread, and the benighted and Storm- stayed traveller entertainment and rest. It would be uncandid not to admit, with very little exception indeed, the statement of count Montalembert that the monasteries "were for ten centuries and more the schools, the archives, the libraries, the hostelries, the studios, the penitentiaries, and the hospitals of Christian society." But while acknowledging the great services which the monks have rendered to the world in the mediaeval period, there is another view of the case to which we cannot close our eyes. Monasticism, instead of being "one of the greatest institutions of Christianity," has no claim whatever to be divine in its origin; Christ and his apostles were not monks, neither did they enjoin upon their followers to renounce the society of their kind, and immure themselves in the solitude of a cloister. On the contrary, the leaven was to be put into the meal; the true religion was to come in contact with humanity, and strive to gain, to direct, to improve it. Asceticism is a mere human attempt to perform upon human nature a work which the Gospel has made ample provision for performing in a more effective way. "Monasticism," says Schaff, "withdrew from society many useful forces; diffused an indifference for the family life, the civil and military service of the state, and all public practical operations; turned the channels of religion from the world into the desert, and so hastened the decline of Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and the whole Roman empire. It nourished religious fanaticism, often raised storms of popular agitation, and rushed passionately into the controversies of theological parties; generally, it is true, on the side of orthodoxy, but often, as at the Ephesian 'council of robbers,' in favor of heresy, and especially in behalf of the crudest superstition. For the simple, divine way of salvation in the Gospel, it substituted an arbitrary, eccentric, ostentatious, and pretentious sanctity. It darkened the all-sufficient merits of Christ by the glitter of the over-meritorious works of man. It measured virtue by the quantity of outward exercises instead of the quality of the inward disposition, and disseminated self-righteousness and an anxious, legal, and mechanical religion. Monasticism, indeed, lowered the stands and of general morality in proportion as it set itself above it, and claimed a corresponding higher merit; and it exerted in general a demoralizing influence on the people, who came to consider themselves the pro fanum
vulgus mundi, and to live accordingly" (comp. Neander, 2:255-257). Grant that the cloister has often sheltered the helpless and unfortunate; it has often sheltered, too, the ignorant, the superstitious, the criminal, the polluted, the despot, the knave. Brigands have been known to use abbeys as the storehouse of their plunder, and kings have used their rich revenues for pensioning their mistresses, supporting their bastards, and rewarding the most unscrupulous of their tools. The education received in the cloisters was essentially of a narrow kind, dwarfing the intellect, and robbing it of that expansiveness and freedom essential to high culture and to real progress. If they opened their door to the feeble and innocent in days of oppression and danger, .it cannot be pretended that there is the same need for them now, when law and order are established, when society provides ample means for alleviating every want and woe that it is possible to relieve, when the printing-press has given a perpetuity to literature which neither Goth nor Vandal can destroy, and when the claims of the poor and the defenceless meet with favorable consideration from every government in Christendom.
It is not, however, monasticism, as such, which. has proved a blessing to the Church and the world; for the monasticism of India, which for three thousand years has pushed the practice of mortification to all the excesses of delirium, never saved a single soul, nor produced a single benefit to the race. It was Christianity in monasticism which has done all the good, and used this abnormal mode of life as a means for carrying forward its mission of love and peace. In proportion as monasticism was animated and controlled by the spirit of Christianity, it proved a blessing; while separated from it, it degenerated and became a fruitful source of evil. Monasticism, moreover, seems even to have lost its power of propagating Christianity in any type; there is no instance since the Reformation of any pagan nation being Christianized by monks. Indeed we cannot concede that it should be the aim of the Christian missionary to create a well-organized society under the dictation of one great ecclesiastical rule, such as monasticism, if it labored at all, would make its object and end. We indignantly repudiate the position that, in order to teach men to become Christians, to recommend the law of Christ, convert the untutored savage, stem the fierce passions of a pagan world, recreate the springs of national and social life, any such methods were necessary, or even peculiarly adapted to the purpose; as monasticism .employed in its missionary work. The Western monks accepted, as the Eastern monks had done before them, an antisocial theory which strikes at the very heart of the providence of God, and which sprang first of all, and springs still, from a dualistic scepticism of the love of the supreme Father, from a jaundiced estimate of the world, from a grievous mistake as to the seat of evil and the nature of sin. They ennobled the theory; they consecrated it to higher issues than any of which paganism ever dreamed; they hallowed it as they hallowed other things, hiding its evil root with the influence of their virtues, but they did not change the character of the root. It always had led to spiritual pride, and fostered the very propensities it professed to hold in abeyance. True, it provided for ages an asylum for broken hearts; it stood in its corporate capacity and strength between forces of the state; it furnished opportunities for great intellectual and artistic feats; it quickened and subtilized the faculties of men to encounter the difficult problems of pure thought, and furnished various agencies of a civilizing character; .but it contained within itself the seeds of its own dissolution.
It perished finally, not from sacrilegious hands nor Protestant animosities, but from its own inherent vices.
M. de Montalembert, the latest and perhaps ablest defender of monachism, breaks ground with a vindication of monasteries from the charge of being the asylums of broken hearts; for weak, exhausted, and disappointed energies; for men. and women tired of the world, and unfit for the strife and battle of life; maintaining that they were peopled rather by the young and the brave, and by those who, as far as this world is concerned, had everything to lose in assuming monastic vows; by those who had a large surplusage of dauntless energy for the conquest of nature, for industrious grappling with the barrenness of the desert, or the riotous prodigality of the primaeval forest. He also asserts that these mysterious precursors of civilization and order, these men of prayer and faith, solved the mystery of life, and showed to a barbaric and selfish world the secret of real happiness; and urges that, so far from wishing to escape from their vows, or from the fellowship of the cloister, they conceived a passionate attachment for each other and to their self-imposed restraints; that their mutual affection was stronger than death; and, that, instead of morose and hopeless abnegation of humanity — benignitis, simplicitas, hilaritas — gayety and songs of joy transformed their exile from the world into the paradise of God. But "monasticism," Dr. Schaff has well said, "M is not the nominal form of Christian piety. It is an abnormal phenomenon, a humanly devised service of God (comp. Col 2:16-23), and not rarely a sad enervation and repulsive distortion of the Christianity of the Bible. It is to be-estimated, therefore, not by the extent of its self-denial, not by its outward acts of self-discipline" (which may all be found in heathenism, Judaism, and Mohammedanism as well), but by the Christian spirit of humility and love which animated it. For humility is the groundwork, and love the all-ruling principle of the Christian life, and the distinctive characteristic of the Christian religion. Without love to God and charity to man, the severest self-punishment and the utmost abandonment of the world are worthless before God (comp. 1Co 13:1-3)... Even in the most favorable case monasticism falls short of harmonious moral developments and of that symmetry of virtue which meets us in perfection in Christ, and next to him in the apostles. It lacks the finer and gentler traits of character, which are ordinarily brought out only in the school of daily family life and under the social ordinances of God. Its morality is rather negative than positive. There is more virtue in the temperate and thankful enjoyment of the gifts of God than in total abstinence; in charitable and well-seasoned speech than in total silence; in connubial chastity than in celibacy; in self-denying practical labor for the Church than in solitary asceticism, which only pleases self and profits no one else." Believing this, we are constrained to maintain further that, although the monastic orders have done much to promote the good of man, the ideal which they have proposed to themselves is no more that of genuine sacrifice than a collection of probable statements is history. The highest forms of self-surrender are those of which the world knows nothing, and whose beauty is derived not from the halo of sacerdotal sentiment, but from the quiet discharge of unromantic and, it may be, irksome duties.
Montalembertalso makes light of the charges brought against monasticism, even in its decline, and repudiates the right of any layman to cast a stone at the accumulations of wealth and luxury under which at length it succumbed. In an introductory chapter on the decline of monastic institutions, he admits that their corruption and abuses were denounced by the monks themselves, that the shield which religion had thrown over them was pierced and shattered from within, and that the most effective instrument in their downfall was what he, terms the infamous "commende" by which the title of abbot was conferred on those who were ignorant of monastic institutions; albeit this step, so loathsome in his judgment, was the work of infallible popes and Catholic kings. Catholics have their own institutions and the great dignitaries of their own Church to blame for the most conspicuous illustrations and examples of spoliation and robbery. The enormous wealth accumulated by these monasteries was too tempting a prize to be resisted, first by rapacious abbots, then by bishops hungering for temporal power as well as ecclesiastical influence, then by needy kings, and at last by unprincipled popes. They turned from one to the other for protection, and found the spoiler rather than the friend. The utter and ignominious fall of more than three thousand monasteries in Europe, and the ruthless destruction even of their ruins in countries which had never repudiated the authority of the Roman See, is a startling fact, which, although our author recounts, he fails to explain on his own theory of the supreme and God-given claims of the Church; while the jeremiad that he wails over the base uses to which these gorgeous buildings have returned is out of harmony with his vivid appreciation of modern ideas of progress. One might suppose that on the fall of the monastery the spirit of humanity, all care for the sick and dying, all science, art, and literature, all brave adventure, all subjugation and replenishing of the earth, and missionary enterprise had utterly vanished; while, on the contrary, the fact of the case is that the mighty spirit generated by the contact of Christianity with modern thought was too strong to be retained in the crisp and worn-out skins of monastic orders; and when these burst, neither the spirit nor the fragrance was lost. New life demanded new institutions, and it is too late in the day to prove that modern civilization is only a feeble parody on that which we readily allow took its origin in the cloister. Grand and even worthy attempts, to be sure, have been made at various times to recover the ancient prestige of monasticism, and there is a kind of work that none perhaps can do so well as the Society of Jesus; but the fuel which even now promotes the flame of monastic piety is that morbid view of the nature of the human will which is fostered by materialistic, science, that mischievous estimate of human life which proceeds from the scepticism of the Fatherhood of God, and that neo-Platonic or Gnostic repudiation of the true brotherhood of all mankind which is perpetual, dishonor to the word and spirit of Jesus Christ. We do not wonder that in the light of these truths a celebrated English savant writes. that the continued violation of the most distinctive attributes of human nature is the recorded secret of the failure of monachism. "Its principle of poverty has ever outraged man's original conception of property; as a celibate, it is directly opposed to the social nature of man; and its law of solitary striving for religious perfection is antagonistic to the first principle of Christian communion. and spiritual intercourse. The profession of poverty frequently ended in the most insatiable avarice and cupidity, while vows of perpetual virginity resulted in unbounded licentiousness. That which began with a sincere desire for perfect purity, ended in the diffusion of licensed corruption." For these reasons we do not feel justified in dissenting from the general opinion, which is that, "however serviceable the monastery may have been as an institution in the mediaeval ages, preserving, as in an ark, the treasures of religion and learning from the waves of barbarism which in rapid succession broke over Europe, it has lost to a great extent its beneficial power, and in the present state of society has no peculiar functions of a useful nature to discharge; and that the truly good of both sexes would better serve the end of their being by mixing in society, and trying to improve it, than by turning monks and nuns, and looking out on the world from behind the bars of a prison,; within which they have by their own consent submitted to be encaged" (Brit. and For. Rev. 1868, page 450).
(1.) Greek writers: Socrates, H. Ecclesiastes lib. 4, cap. 23 sq.; Sozomen, H.E. lib. 1, cap. 12-14; 3:14; 6:28-34; Palladius, Historia Lausiaca (Ι᾿στορία πρὸς Λαῦσον, a court-officer under Theodosius II, to whom the work was dedicated), composed about 421, with enthusiastic admiration, from personal acquaintance, of the most celebrated contemporaneous ascetics of Egypt; Theodoret (t 457), Historia religiosa, seu ascetica vivendi ratio (φιλόθεος ἱστορία), biographies of thirty Oriental anchorets and monks, for the most part from personal observation; Nilus the elder (j about 450), De vita ascetica, De exercitatione monastica, Epistolae 355, and other writings.
(2.) Latin writers: Rufinus (1410), Hist. Eremitica, s. Vite Patrum; Sulpicius Severus (about 400), Dialogi III (the first dialogue contains a lively and entertaining account of the Egyptian monks, whom he visited; the two others relate to-Martin of Tours); Cassianus (1432), Institutiones cenobiatis, and Collationes Patrum (spiritual conversations of Eastern monks). Also the ascetic writings of Athanasimus (Vita Antonii), Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, and Isidore of Pelusium among the Greek; Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome (his lives of anchorets, and his letters), Cassiodorus, and Gregory the Great among the Latin fathers.
(3.) Later literature: Holstenius (a Roman convert), Codex regularum monastic. (Rom. 1661; enlarged, Paris and Augsb. 6 volumes, fol.); the older Greek Menologia (μηνολόγια) and Mencea (μηναῖα), and the Latin Calendaria and Martyrologia — i.e. Church calendars or indices of memorial days (days of the earthly death and heavenly birth) of the saints, with short biographical notices for liturgical use; Herbert Rosweyde (Jesuit), Vitac Patrum, sive Historic Eremiticae, lib. 10 (Antwerp, 1628); Acta Sanctorum, quot quot'toto orbe coluntur (Antwerp, 1643-1786, 53 volumes fol. begun by the Jesuit Bollandus, continued by several scholars of his order, called Bollandists, down to October 11 in the calendar of saints' days, and resumed in 1845, after long interruption, by Theiner and others); D'Achery and Mabillon (Benedictines), Acta Sanctorum ordinis S. Benedicti (Paris, 1668-1701, 9 volumes folio [to 11003); Helyot (Franciscan), Histoire des ordres monastiques ireligieux et militaires (Par. 1714-19, 8 volumes, 4to; new ed., with an additional volume on the modern history of monachism by Migne, 1849, 4 volumes); Butler (R.C.), The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and other principal Saints, arranged according to the Catholic calendar, and completed to December 31 (1745, and often since best ed. Lond. 1812-13, 12 vols.; another, Baltimore, 1844, 4 volumes); Gibbon, chapter 37 ("Origin, Progress, and Effects of Monastic Life;" very unfavorable, and written in lofty philosophical contempt); Henrion (R.C.), Histoire des ordres religieux (Par. 1835); Biedenfeld, Ursprung sammutlicher Monchsordens im Orient Occident (Weimar, 1837, 3 volumes); Schmidt (R.C.), Die: Minchs, Nonnen, u. geistlichen Ritterorden nebst Ordensregeln u. Abbildungen (Augsb. 1838 sq.); Paul Lacroix, Military and Religious Life in the Middle Ages and at the Period of the Renaissance; Day, Monastic Institutions: their Origin, Progress, etc. (Lond. 1846, 2d ed.); Milman (Anglican), History of Ancient Christianity (book 3, chapter 11), and his Latin Christianity; Ruffner (Presbyterian), The Fathers of the Desert (N.Y., 1850, 2 volumes), full of curious information, in popular form; Montalemerto (R.C.), Les Moines d'Occident depuis St. Benoit jusqua St. Bernard (Paris, 1860 sq.; translated into English, The Monks of the West, etc., Edinb. and Lond. 1861 sq.); another extensive work has been in preparation for some time by the Benedictine Dom Gueranger, of France; Zockler, Kritische Geschichte der Askese (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1863); comp. also Hefele, Conciliengeschichte (the several volumes); Wessenberg, Kirchen versammlungen, 1:119 sq. (see Index in volume 4); Ozanam, Etudes Germaniques.; Guizot, Hist. Civilization, 2:279 sq.; and the relevant sections of Tillemont, Fleury, Schrockh (vols. 5 and 8), Neander, Schaff, and Gieseler. Regarding Christian monasticism as compared with other
forms of asceticism, see Hospinian, De origine etprogressu monachatus, lib. 6 (Tig. 1588; enlarged, Geneva, 1669, folio); Mohler (R.C.), Geschichte des Monchthums is der Zeit seiner Entstehung u. ersten Ausbildung (1836; collected works, Regensb. volume 2, page 165 sq.; Taylor (Independent), Ancient Christianity (Lond. 1844), 1:299 sq.; Vogel, "Ueber das Monchthum" (Berlin, 1858), in the Deutsche Zeitschriftf. christl. Wissenschaft, etc.; Schaff, "Ueber den Ursprung und Charakter des Monchthums," in Dorner's etc., Jahrbucherfur deutsche Theologie (1861), page 555 sq.; Cropp, Origines et Causea monachatus (Gott. 1863); Lea, Hist. Sacerdotal Celibacy, chapters 7, 30; Lecky, Hist. Rationalism (see Index); id., Hist. European Morals (see Index); Gould, Origin of Religious Belief (N.Y., 1871, 2 volumes, 8vo), 1:339 sq.; Edinburgh Review, January 1849; Eclectic Magazine, April 1849; English Review, 2:77, 424; [Lond.] Quar. Rev. 127, July 1861; Eclectic Review, July 1859; Brit. and For. Ev. Rev. July 1868; British Quar. Rev. art. 8 July 1868; Edinb. Rev. April 1868; St. James's Magazine, March 10, 1870.