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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 51



possessing the houses of the church, but obtaining them for filthy lucre's sake ; instructing the laity, but showing withal most depraved examples, vices, and evil manners; seldom sacrificing, and seldom with clean hearts, standing at the altars; not correcting the commonality for their offences, while they commit the same sins themselves ; despising the commandments of Christ, and being careful with their whole hearts to fulfil their own lustful desires, some of them usurping with unclean feet the seat of the apostle Peter ; but for the demerit of their covetousness falling down into the pestilent chair of the traitor Judas; detracting often, and seldom speaking truly; hating verity as an open enemy, and favouring falsehoods, as their most beloved brethren; looking on the just, the poor, and the impotent, with stern countenances, as if they were detested serpents, and reve-f rencing the sinful rich men without any respect of shame, as if they were heavenly angels, preaching with their outward lips that alms are to be disbursed upon the needy, but of themselves not bestowing one halfpenny ; concealing the horrible sins of the people, and amplifying injuries offered unto themselves, as if they were done against our Saviour Christ ; expelling out of their houses their religious mother, perhaps, or sisters, and familiarly and indecently entertaining strange women, as if it were for some more secret office, or rather, to speak truly, though fondly (and yet not fondly to me, but to such as commit these matters), debasing themselves unto such bad creatures ; and after all these seeking rather ambitiously for ecclesiastical dignities, than for the kingdom of heaven; and defending after a tyrannical fashion their achieved preferments, nor even labouring with lawful manners, to adorn the same ; negligent and dull to listen to the precepts of the holy saints (if ever they did so much as once hear that which full often they ought to hear), but diligent and attentive to the plays and foolish fables of secular men, as if they were the very ways to life, which indeed are but the passages to death ; being hoarse, after the fashion of bulls, with the abundance of fatness, and miserably prompt to all unlawful actions; bearing their countenances arrogantly aloft, and having nevertheless their inward senses, with tormenting and gnawing consciences; depressed down to the bottom or


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