That by these two characters (forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from meats) are chiefly deciphered monks and friars. —That prohibition of marriage and abstaining from meats are inseparable characters of monastic profession. —That the renouncing of possessions or the having no propriety in anything (another principle in monkery) may be included under the abstaining from meats. —That the word translated meats, implies all things needful for maintenance of life, proved from several places of Scripture.
I come now unto the last particular of the description of the means whereby the doctrine of demons was to be advanced, viz., “through the hypocrisy of such as forbid marriage, and command to abstain from meats.” Who are these? The wonderful correspondence of the event makes me verily believe that the Holy Ghost intendeth here, at least chiefly, to decipher unto us monks and doctors of monkery, by two such marks as are the chief points and grounds of that singularity of life. For prohibition of marriage and difference of meats are inseparable characters of monastical profession; and, therefore, common to all that crew of hypocrites, whether Solivagant Hermits, or Anchorites which live alone, or Cœnobites which live in society. And if we take them joined together, as our Apostle doth, I think they can befit no
other kind of men by way of rule and precept but these alone. ΄Tis true, all Antichrist’s priests are forbidden marriage generally and absolutely; but meats they are not, but only upon certain days and times; which is not their case alone, but the people also partake with them in the like restraint. But monks are bound by the vowed rule of their profession to abstain from both, absolutely and perpetually. Concerning the first, hear St. Chrysostom speak, (Hom. 7, in Matthew,)* “All the commandments of God’s law are common to us with monks, besides marriage.” Wherefrom in the Council of Chalcedon is an express Canon, cap. 16, “That no nun or monk should marry,” (Ut nec Deo dicata virgo nec Monachus nubant,) i.e. they might not forsake their profession.
For the second, the abstaining from meats, St. Benedict can tell us best, who is the father and founder of well-nigh all the monks of the west; his rule, which they all bind themselves to observe, saith, et all abstain from flesh.” (A carnibus omnes abstineant.) Again, “Let all abstain altogether from the eating of flesh, even of four-footed beasts.” (Carnium etiam quadrupedum omnino ab omnibus abstineatur comestio.) Hence is that decree of Bishop Fructuosus in Gratian, Dist. 5. “No monk hath leave granted him to take, or so much as to taste a piece of flesh.” (Carnem cuiquam Monacho nec gustandi nec sumendi est concessa
licentia.) And these were the two principle observances of the first monks, before they came to be gathered into a society of a common life, under certain set rules. Paulus Thebæus, the first pattern of this kind of life, abstained, as from marriage, whereof there is no question, so from all meats, save bread and dates. Anthony, the next, ate nought but bread and salt, and both drank no other drink but water. Epiphanius, in his Anchorato, tells us of differing observances in this kind. Some ate no flesh, but fish; some neither, but only fruits and herbs; some ate flying creatures, but abstained from all besides.
But if you will take meats in this place in a larger sense, you shall have a full definition of monkery, and take in that other monastical principle of renouncing possessions, and having no propriety in anything, which they account the second fundamental principle, next to the vow of chastity or single life. Now may not meats* be expounded in this sense? We know the word bread in Scripture signifies all things needful for maintenance of life, (omnia vitæ subsidia;) and, therefore, we ask them all in the Lord’s Prayer, under that name, —“Give us this day our daily bread.” Mark the words of David to Ziba, II Samuel , Thou and thy sons and thy servants shall till the land for him, (Mephibosheth,) and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master’s son may have food to eat. Here bread or food is taken for Mephibosheth’s whole maintenance, the whole profit of the lands which
Ziba tills. Matthew 10: 9, 10, Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip
for your journey; neither two coats, nor shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman
is worthy* of his meat. Here gold, silver, brass, cloths, and staves, all
come under the single word meat.
return to the world again.* “Monks must not return to the world,” saith the canon of a great council. Hear a story out St. Hierom, Epist. ad Eustochium: —A certain monk being dead, was found to have been so good a husband as to have had lying by him an hundred shillings, which he had gotten by weaving of linen; hereupon great doubt there was what it should be done withal, whether given to the poor, to the Church, or to what use. But Pambo, Isidorus, and the other fathers (of the monks) laying their heads together, decreed it should be buried with him, with this blessing, † “thy money perish with thee.” The like sentence gave Gregory the Great against Justus, a monk, for the like fault. Dial. l. 4. c. 55.
I conclude, therefore, that these words are a description of monkery by such notes as are fundamental, which way soever we take them; either containing single life and (discrimen ciborum,) the differencing of meats; or the two vows of chastity and poverty; or all three of them, —chastity, poverty, and abstaining from meats. As for that other vow of obedience, it was not from the beginning, nor common to all; not to Hermits and Anchorites, but such as lived in common under an head. And these are the men through whose hypocrisy, and by whose means, the doctrine of demons should be brought in and advanced among Christians in the latter times.
* Monachis non licere ad seculum redire.
† Pecunia tua sit tecum in perditionem.