Every Slough of Carnal Pollution

Detail of frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan by Abraham Bosse (1651).
Detail of frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan by Abraham Bosse (1651).

Of the law established in those days among the Cambrian people concerning Girls who committed fornication.

There was among that barbarous people a law, promulgated of old, that a girl who committed fornication in her father’s house, and was found with child, should be cast down from the top of the highest mountain, and that her paramour should be beheaded. Similarly among the ancient Saxons, almost down to these modern times, the law continued that every virgin deflowered of her own will in her father’s house should, without any remission, be buried alive, and her violator be hanged over her tomb. What shall we say to these things, or what can we conjecture concerning them? If such zeal for chastity burn in the heathen, who are ignorant of the divine law, solely for the sake of integrity, and out of respect for the traditions of their fathers, what shall the Christian do who is constrained to the preservation of chastity by the divine law, which promises as the reward of it the joy of heaven, and likewise, on the other hand, metes out for the transgression of it eternal punishment?

Behold, both sexes and every condition are now plunged in every slough of carnal pollution almost as boldly as willingly, because with impunity and not only is the vilest herd polluted with the contagion, but those who are maintained by ecclesiastical benefices and attached to divine offices deem themselves happier, the more filthy they are. But now the Hammerer of the whole earth, even the Spirit of Fornication, passes through them. They who exhibit outwardly a certain fancied form of godliness, but deny the power thereof by their works, paying allegiance to this present world, are known by their impure life to lie before God by their sacred habit and tonsure. Verily they ought to fear that which the Lord threatens by His prophet, saying: “He who hath done iniquity in the land of the saints shall not look upon the glory of God.” Even now what is to be bewailed with every river of tears? That sin of sins, which is now committed with impunity, than which nothing more detestable can be conceived, on account of which the sulphurous flame, a heavenly judgment, destroyed the guilty in the Five Cities of the Plain. Nor can he easily be found who will willingly reprove the perpetrator. For if any one, however rarely, be found whom the zeal of the Lord’s house consumeth, and who burneth with the love of justice and integrity, so that he should seem to censure such monstrous sins, he is straightway resisted to his face as a sycophant, and denounced by all as a traducer; his mouth is closed, as of one speaking wickedly, his tongue is decreed to be tied up.

Why is this? Plainly because the body of Leviathan, as it is written, is shut close up with scales, pressing upon one another, and the shadows cover his shadow; because the criminous and guilty, who are members of the devil, are mutually protected by others who labour in the same vice, that the arrow of correction cannot pierce them. Verily, as I think, this is done as a proof of their inexcusable damnation, that such men, being given over to a reprobate mind, neither receive nor accept the rod of correction. And the multitude, labouring in the same vice, mitigates not in the least their punishment because the many, not less than they themselves, individually burn, as if cast into a furnace. But what shall we say of those on whom the duty is conjoined of binding and loosing, of shutting and opening, who are placed upon a candlestick, that in the House of the Lord they may shine by word and example? Do not the greater number in the present represent smoke rather than flame, and stench rather than brightness? Are they not dumb dogs, not able, yea, not willing, to bark? When they see manners more than bestial, they do not dare to rebuke them, especially since they themselves are conformed to their habits, yea, are worse deformed. For, as the people, so the priest; as the subject, so the prelate; yea, as the first in dignity, so the worse in iniquity, and they who excel in office excel also in vice. What the Scripture mystically says of such is to be feared for them: “If so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned.” The beast touches the mountain when any one of bestial life mounts to the chair of prelacy, and lays an impure hand on purifying sacrifices. Yet such is he who is commanded to be stoned, since it is clearly taught in the opinions of the holy Fathers that he ought to be subjected to a hard and heavy condemnation. That I have said these things by way of digression will, I trust, be burdensome to none. The zeal of this pagan man who spared not his own daughter, but for the fault of simple fornication delivered her to such a doom, ought to cause great shame to the worshippers of Christ to the planting and propagating of modesty.

— Jocelin of Furness, Life of St. Kentigern, Chapter II.

The Sustenance of Life and the Example

Ancient Seal of City of Glasgow, Depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.
Ancient seal of City of Glasgow, depicting St. Mungo. Mitchell Library, Glasgow City Council.

He established the seat of his cathedral in the town called Glesgu, which is translated “Beloved Family,” and is now called Glasgow. And there he gathered together many servants of God, a family beloved and well known to God, who lived in abstinence following the pattern of the primitive church under the Apostles, without possessions and in holy discipline and divine service.

And the diocese of that episcopate extended to the borders of the Cambrian kingdom, and that kingdom stretched continuously from sea to sea, just like the earthen wall built by the Emperor Severus. After the advice and counsel of the Roman legions, in order to prevent the Picts from rushing into the country, a wall was constructed in this same place that was eight feet wide and twelve feet tall, and it reached up to the river Forth, and divides Scotland from England as a boundary line. And this Cambrian region over which Kentigern now was placed with episcopal honor, had received the Christian faith (as had the whole of Britain) during the time of Pope Eleutherius, when King Lucius ruled. But when the pagans had attacked the island during various times, and having dominion over it, the islanders had thrown away the faith they had received by falling into apostasy. Many also were not yet washed in the health-giving water of baptism, and many were stained by the contagion of manifold heresies. Many, only Christian in name, were wrapped up in the hog pool of multiple vices. Very many had been taught by ministers inexperiened in and ignorant of the law of God. And for these reasons, all the inhabitants of the province had a need for the counsel of a good shepherd, and the cure of a good ruler. Therefore God, the Disposer and Dispenser of all good things, provided, preferred, and proposed Saint Kentigern as a healing remedy, as the sustenance of life and the example, for all the diseases of all the people.

— Jocelin of Furness, Life of St. Kentigern, Chapter XI.