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GILDAS On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain

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GILDAS
On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain
page 16



•sc. 22.] VICES OF THE BRITONS. 309 inventors, the reception of crime in the place of virtue, the respect shown to wickedness rather than goodness, the love of darkness instead of the sun, the admission of Satan as an angel of light. Kings were anointed, not according to God's ordinance, but such as showed themselves more cruel than the rest ; and soon after, they were put to death by those who had elected them, without any inquiry into their merits, but because others still more cruel were chosen to succeed them. If any one of these was of a milder nature than the rest, or in any way more regardful of the truth, he was looked upon as the ruiner of the country, every body cast a dart at him, and they valued things alike whether pleasing or displeasing to God, unless it so happened that what displeased him was-pleasing to themselves. So that the words of the prophet, addressed to the people of old, might well be applied to our own countrymen : " Children without a law, have ye left God and provoked to anger the holy one of Israel ? * Why will ye still inquire, adding iniquity ? Every head is languid and every heart is sad; from the sole of the foot to the crown, there is no health in him." And thus they did all things contrary to their salvation, as if no remedy could be applied to the world by the true Physician of all men. And not only the laity did so, but our Lord's own flock and its shepherds, who ought to have been an example to the people, slumbered away their time in drunkenness, as if they had been dipped in wine ; whilst the swellings of pride, the jar of strife, the griping talons of envy, and the confused estimate of right and wrong, got such entire possession of them, that there seemed to be poured out (and the same still continueth) contempt upon princes, and to be made by their vanities to wander astray and not in the way. § 22. Meanwhile, God being willing to purify his family who were infected by so deep a stain of woe, and at the hearing only of their calamities to amend them; a vague rumour suddenly as if on wings reaches the ears of all, that their inveterate foes were rapidly approaching to destroy the 9 lea. i 4, 5. In most of these quotations there is great verbal variation from the authorised version : the author probably quoted from memory, if not from the Latin version.


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