Gildas’

‘On the Ruin of Britain’
Translated by J. A. Giles and T. Habington
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On the Ruin of Britain
Table of Contents
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5
Gildas
Acknowledgements
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On the Ruin of Britain
Introduction
Of Gildas the su##osed author of the third *or+ contained in this volu"e little or nothing is
+no*n. 9r. 1tevenson in the #reface to his edition of the original 4atin lately #ublished by the
/nglish Historical 1ociety says( :;e are unable to s#ea+ *ith certainty as to his #arentage his country
or even his na"e the #eriod *hen he lived or the *or+s of *hich he *as the author.< 1uch a state"ent
is surely sufficient to e!cuse us at #resent fro" saying "ore on the sub=ect than that he is su##osed to
have lived and to have *ritten *hat re"ains under his na"e during so"e #art of the si!th century.
There are t*o legends of the life of 1t. Gildas as he is ter"ed but both of the" abound *ith such
absurdities that they scarcely deserve to be noticed in a serious history. Of the #resent translation the
first or historic half is entirely ne*> in the rest consisting al"ost entirely of te!ts fro" 1cri#ture the
translator has thought it ?uite sufficient to follo* the old translation of Habington correcting *hatever
errors he could detect and in so"e degree relieving the ?uaint and obsolete character of the language.
-t has been re"ar+ed by $olydore @irgil that Gildas ?uotes no other boo+ but the Bible> and it "ay be
added that his ?uotations are in other *ords than those of the @ulgate or co""on authoriAed
translation. The title of the old translation is as follo*s( :The /#istle of Gildas the "ost ancient British
Author ( *ho flourished in the yeere of our 4ord 0.B. And *ho by his great erudition sanctitie and
*isdo"e ac?uired the na"e of 1a#iens. Faithfully translated out of the originall 4atine.< 4ondon
75"o. 7B,3.
.
Gildas
I. THE PREFACE
7. ;HAT/@/R in this "y e#istle - "ay *rite in "y hu"ble but *ell'"eaning "anner rather by
*ay of la"entation than for dis#lay let no one su##ose that it s#rings fro" conte"#t of others or that -
foolishly estee" "yself as better than they> Cfor alasD the sub=ect of "y co"#laint is the general
destruction of every thing that is good and the general gro*th of evil throughout the land>C but that -
*ould condole *ith "y country in her distress and re=oice to see her revive therefro"( for it is "y
#resent #ur#ose to relate the deeds of an indolent and slothful race rather than the e!#loits of those
*ho have been valiant in the field.
7
- have +e#t silence - confess *ith "uch "ental anguish
co"#unction of feeling and contrition of heart *hilst - revolved all these things *ithin "yself> and as
God the searcher of the reins is *itness for the s#ace of even ten years or "ore E
5
"y ine!#erience as
at #resent also and "y un*orthiness #reventing "e fro" ta+ing u#on "yself the character of a censor.
But - read ho* the illustrious la*giver for one *ord8s doubting *as not allo*ed to enter the desired
land> that the sons of the high'#riest for #lacing strange fire u#on God8s altar *ere cut off by a s#eedy
death> that God8s #eo#le for brea+ing the la* of God save t*o only *ere slain by *ild beasts by fire
and s*ord in the deserts of Arabia though God had so loved the" that he had "ade a *ay for the"
through the Red 1ea had fed the" *ith bread fro" heaven and *ater fro" the roc+ and by the lifting
u# of a hand "erely had "ade their ar"ies invincible> and then *hen they had crossed the Jordan and
entered the un+no*n land and the *alls of the city had fallen do*n flat at the sound only of a tru"#et
the ta+ing of a cloa+ and a little gold fro" the accursed things caused the deaths of "any( and again the
breach of their treaty *ith the Gibeonites though that treaty had been obtained by fraud brought
destruction u#on "any and - too+ *arning fro" the sins of the #eo#le *hich called do*n u#on then
the re#rehensions of the #ro#hets and also of Jere"iah *ith his fourfold 4a"entations *ritten in
7 Fot*ithstanding this re"ar+ of Gildas the Britons "ust have sho*n great bravery and resolution in their battles against
the 1a!ons or they *ould not have resisted their encroach"ents so long. ;hen Gildas *as *riting a hundred years had
ela#sed and the Britons still #ossessed a large #ortion of their native country.
5 All that follo*s enclosed *ithin brac+ets u# to #age 0 is o"itted in so"e co#ies.
0
On the Ruin of Britain
al#habetic order. - sa* "oreover in "y o*n ti"e as that #ro#het also had co"#lained that the city had
sat do*n lone and *ido*ed *hich before *as full of #eo#le> that the ?ueen of nations and the #rincess
of #rovinces Gi. e. the churchH had been "ade tributary> that the gold *as obscured and the "ost
e!cellent colour G*hich is the brightness of God8s *ordH changed> that the sons of 1ion Gi. e. of holy
"other churchH once fa"ous and clothed in the finest gold grovelled in dung> and *hat added
intolerably to the *eight of grief of that illustrious "an and to "ine though but an ab=ect *hilst he had
thus "ourned the" in their ha##y and #ros#erous condition :Her FaAarites *ere fairer than sno*
"ore ruddy than old ivory "ore beautiful than the sa##hire.< These and "any other #assages in the
ancient 1cri#tures - regarded as a +ind of "irror of hu"an life and - turned also to the Fe* *herein -
read "ore clearly *hat #erha#s to "e before *as dar+ for the dar+ness deaf and truth shed her steady
light C- read therein that the 4ord had said :- ca"e not but to the lost shee# of the house of -srael>< and
on the other hand :But the children of this +ingdo" shall be cast out into outer dar+ness> there shal7 be
*ee#ing and gnashing of teeth(< and again :-t is not good to ta+e the children8s "eat and to give it to
dogs(< also :;oe to you scribes and #harisees hy#ocritesD< - heard ho* :"any shall co"e fro" the
east and the *est and shall sit do*n *ith Abraha" -saac and Jacob in the +ingdo" of heaven(< and
on the contrary :- *ill then say to the" 8%e#art fro" "e ye *or+ers of ini?uityD8< - read :Blessed are
the barren and the teats *hich have not given suc+>< and on the contrary :Those *ho *ere ready
entered *ith hi" to the *edding> after*ards ca"e the other virgins also saying 84ord 4ord o#en to
us(8 to *ho" it *as ans*ered 8- do not +no* you.8< - heard forsooth :;hoever shall believe and be
ba#tiAed shall be saved but *hoever shall not believe shall be da"ned.< - read in the *ords of the
a#ostle that the branch of the *ild olive *as grafted u#on the good olive but should nevertheless be cut
off fro" the co""union of the root of its fatness if it did not hold itself in fear but entertained lofty
thoughts. - +ne* the "ercy of the 4ord but - also feared his =udg"ent( - #raised his grace but - feared
the rendering to every "an according to his *or+s( #erceiving the shee# of the sa"e fold to be
different - deservedly co""ended $eter for his entire confession of &hrist but called Judas "ost
*retched for his love of covetousness( - thought 1te#hen "ost glorious on account of the #al" of
"artyrdo" but Ficholas *retched for his "ar+ of unclean heresy( - read assuredly :They had all
things co""on(< but li+e*ise also as it is *ritten :;hy have ye cons#ired to te"#t the 1#irit of
God I< - sa* on the other hand ho* "uch security had gro*n u#on the "en of our ti"e as if there
*ere nothing to cause the" fear. These things therefore and "any "ore *hich for brevity8s sa+e *e
B
Gildas
have deter"ined to o"it - revolved again and again in "y a"aAed "ind *ith co"#unction in "y
heart and - thought to "yself :-f God8s #eculiar #eo#le chosen fro" all the #eo#le of the *orld the
royal seed and holy nation to *ho" he had said 89y first begotten -srael8 its #riests #ro#hets and
+ings throughout "any ages his servant and a#ostle and the "e"bers of his #ri"itive church *ere
not s#ared *hen they deviated fro" the right #ath *hat *ill he do to the dar+ness of this our age in
*hich besides all the huge and heinous sins *hich it has in co""on *ith all the *ic+ed of the *orld
co""itted is found an innate indelible and irre"ediable load of folly and inconstancy I< :;hat
*retched "an G- say to "yselfH is it given to you as if you *ere an illustrious and learned teacher to
o##ose the force of so violent a torrent and +ee# the charge co""itted to you against such a series of
inveterate cri"es *hich has s#read far and *ide *ithout interru#tion for so "any years. Hold thy
#eace( to do other*ise is to tell the foot to see and the hand to s#ea+. Britain has rulers and she has
*atch"en( *hy dost thou incline thyself thus uselessly to #rateI< 1he has such - say not too "any
#erha#s but surely not too fe*( but because they are bent do*n and #ressed beneath so heavy a burden
they have not ti"e allo*ed the" to ta+e breath. 9y senses therefore as if feeling a #ortion of "y debt
and obligation #reoccu#ied the"selves *ith such ob=ections and *ith others yet "ore strong. They
struggled as - said no short ti"e in a fearful strait *hilst - read :There is a ti"e for s#ea+ing and a
ti"e for +ee#ing silence. At length the creditor8s side #revailed and bore off the victory( if Gsaid heH
thou art not bold enough to be "ar+ed *ith the co"ely "ar+ of golden liberty a"ong the #ro#hetic
creatures *ho en=oy the ran+ as reasoning beings ne!t to the angels refuse not the ins#iration of the
understanding ass to that day du"b *hich *ould not carry for*ard the tiara8d "agician *ho *as
going to curse God8s #eo#le but in the narro* #ass of the vineyard crushed his loosened foot and
thereby felt the lash> and though he *as *ith his ungrateful and furious hand against right =ustice
beating her innocent sides she #ointed out to hi" the heavenly "essenger behold the na+ed s*ord and
standing in his *ay though he had not seen hi".J
;herefore in Aeal for the house of God and for his holy la* constrained either by the reasonings
of "y o*n thoughts or by the #ious entreaties of "y brethren - no* discharge the debt so long e!acted
of "e> hu"ble indeed in style but faithful as - thin+ and friendly to all &hrist8s youthful soldiers but
severe and insu##ortable to foolish a#ostates> the for"er of *ho" if - a" not deceived *ill receive
the sa"e *ith tears flo*ing fro" God8s love> but the others *ill sorro* such as is e!torted fro" the
indignation and #usillani"ity of a convicted conscience.
K
On the Ruin of Britain
2. - *ill therefore if God be *illing endeavour to say a fe* *ords about the situation of Britain
her disobedience and sub=ection her rebellion second sub=ection and dreadful slavery C of her religion
#ersecution holy "artyrs heresies of different +inds C of her tyrants her t*o hostile and ravaging
nations C of her first devastation her defence her second devastation and second ta+ing vengeance C of
her third devastation of her fa"ine and the letters to Agitius
,
C of her victory and her cri"es C of the
sudden ru"our of ene"ies C of her fa"ous #estilence C of her counsels C of her last ene"y far "ore
cruel than the first C of the subversion of her cities and of the re"nant that esca#ed> and finally of the
#eace *hich by the *ill of God has been granted her in these our ti"es.
II. THE HISTR!
". The island of Britain situated on al"ost the ut"ost border of the earth to*ards the south and
*est and #oised in the divine balance as it is said *hich su##orts the *hole *orld stretches out fro"
the south'*est to*ards the north #ole and is eight hundred "iles long and t*o hundred broad
.
e!ce#t
*here the headlands of sundry #ro"ontories stretch farther into the sea. -t is surrounded by the ocean
*hich for"s *inding bays and is strongly defended by this a"#le and if - "ay so call it i"#assable
barrier save on the south side *here the narro* sea affords a #assage to Baltic Gaul. -t is enriched by
the "ouths of t*o noble rivers the Tha"es and the 1evern as it *ere t*o ar"s by *hich foreign
lu!uries *ere of old i"#orted and by other strea"s of less i"#ortance. -t is fa"ous for eight and
t*enty cities and is e"bellished by certain castles *ith *alls to*ers *ell barred gates and houses
*ith threatening battle"ents built on high and #rovided *ith all re?uisite instru"ents of defence. -ts
#lains are s#acious its hills are #leasantly situated ada#ted for su#erior tillage and its "ountains are
ad"irably calculated for the alternate #asturage of cattle *here flo*ers of various colours trodden by
the feet of "an give it the a##earance of a lovely #icture. -t is dec+ed li+e a "an8s chosen bride *ith
divers =e*els *ith lucid fountains and abundant broo+s *andering over the sno* *hite sands> *ith
trans#arent rivers flo*ing in gentle "ur"urs and offering a s*eet #ledge of slu"ber
0
to those *ho
recline u#on their ban+s *hilst it is irrigated by abundant la+es *hich #our forth cool torrents of
refreshing *ater.
, Or Aetius.
. The descri#tion of Britain is given in very nearly the sa"e ter"s by Orosius Bede and others but the nu"bers
denoting the length and breadth and other di"ensions are different in al"ost every 91. co#y.
0 L1o#ore"< in so"e 911.< sa#ore" : in others> it is difficult fro" the turgidity and su#erabundance of the style to
deter"ine *hich is the best "eaning.
3
Gildas
.. This island stiff'nec+ed and stubborn'"inded fro" the ti"e of its being first inhabited
ungratefully rebels so"eti"es against God so"eti"es against her o*n citiAens and fre?uently also
against foreign +ings and their sub=ects. For *hat can there either be or be co""itted "ore
disgraceful or "ore unrighteous in hu"an affairs than to refuse to sho* fear to God or affection to
one8s o*n country"en and G*ithout detri"ent to one8s faithH to refuse due honour to those of higher
dignity to cast off all regard to reason hu"an and divine and in conte"#t of heaven and earth to be
guided by one8s o*n sensual inventionsI - shall therefore o"it those ancient errors co""on to all the
nations of the earth in *hich before &hrist ca"e in the flesh all "an+ind *ere bound> nor shall -
enu"erate those diabolical idols of "y country *hich al"ost sur#assed in nu"ber those of /gy#t and
of *hich *e still see so"e "ouldering a*ay *ithin or *ithout the deserted te"#les *ith stiff and
defor"ed features as *as custo"ary. For *ill - call out u#on the "ountains fountains or hills or u#on
the rivers *hich no* are subservient to the use of "en but once *ere an abo"ination and destruction
to the" and to *hich the blind #eo#le #aid divine honour. - shall also #ass over the bygone ti"es of
our cruel tyrants *hose notoriety *as s#read over to far distant countries> so that $or#hyry that dog
*ho in the east *as al*ays so fierce against the church in his "ad and vain style added this also that
:Britain is a land fertile in tyrants.<
B
- *ill only endeavour to relate the evils *hich Britain suffered in
the ti"es of the Ro"an e"#erors and also those *hich she caused to distant states> but so far as lies in
"y #o*er - shall not follo* the *ritings and records of "y o*n country *hich Gif there ever *ere any
of the"H have been consu"ed in the fires of the ene"y or have acco"#anied "y e!iled country"en
into distant lands but be guided by the relations of foreign *riters *hich being bro+en and interru#ted
in "any #laces are therefore by no "eans clear.
#. For *hen the rulers of Ro"e had obtained the e"#ire of the *orld subdued all the neighbouring
nations and islands to*ards the east and strengthened their reno*n by the first #eace *hich they "ade
*ith the $arthians *ho border on -ndia there *as a general cessation fro" *ar throughout the *hole
*orld> the fierce fla"e *hich they +indled could not be e!tinguished or chec+ed by the ;estern Ocean
but #assing beyond the sea i"#osed sub"ission u#on our island *ithout resistance and entirely
reduced to obedience its un*arli+e but faithless #eo#le not so "uch by fire and s*ord and *arli+e
engines li+e other nations but threats alone and "enaces of =udg"ents fro*ning on their countenance
B Gildas here confuses the "odern idea of a tyrant *ith that of an usur#er. The latter is the sense in *hich Britain *as said
to be fertile in tyrants viA. in usur#ers of the i"#erial dignity.
M
On the Ruin of Britain
*hilst terror #enetrated to their hearts.
$. ;hen after*ards they returned to Ro"e for *ant of #ay as is said and had no sus#icion of an
a##roaching rebellion that deceitful lioness GBoadiceaH #ut to death the rulers *ho had been left a"ong
the" to unfold "ore fully and to confir" the enter#rises of the Ro"ans. ;hen the re#ort of these
things reached the senate and they *ith a s#eedy ar"y "ade haste to ta+e vengeance on the crafty
fo!es
K
as they called the" there *as no bold navy on the sea to fight bravely for the country> by land
there *as no "arshalled ar"y no right *ing of battle nor other #re#aration for resistance> but their
bac+s *ere their shields against their van?uishers and they #resented their nec+s to their s*ords *hilst
chill terror ran through every li"b and they stretched out their hands to be bound li+e *o"en> so that
it has beco"e a #roverb far and *ide that the Britons are neither brave in *ar nor faithful in ti"e of
#eace.
%. The Ro"ans therefore having slain "any of the rebels and reserved others for slaves that the
land "ight not be entirely reduced to desolation left the island destitute as it *as of *ine and oil and
returned to -taly leaving behind the" tas+"asters to scourge the shoulders of the natives to reduce
their nec+s to the yo+e and their soil to the vassalage of a Ro"an #rovince> to chastise the crafty race
not *ith *arli+e *ea#ons but *ith rods and if necessary to gird u#on their sides the na+ed s*ord so
that it *as no longer thought to be Britain but a Ro"an island> and all their "oney *hether of co##er
gold or silver *as sta"#ed *ith &aesar8s i"age.
&. 9ean*hile these islands stiff *ith cold and frost and in a distant region of the *orld re"ote
fro" the visible sun received the bea"s of light that is the holy #rece#ts of &hrist the true 1un
sho*ing to the *hole *orld his s#lendour not only fro" the te"#oral fir"a"ent but fro" the height
of heaven *hich sur#asses every thing te"#oral at the latter #art as *e +no* of the reign of Tiberius
&aesar by *ho" his religion *as #ro#agated *ithout i"#edi"ent and death threatened to those *ho
interfered *ith its #rofessors.
'. These rays of light *ere received *ith lu+e*ar" "inds by the inhabitants but they nevertheless
too+ root a"ong so"e of the" in a greater or less degree until nine years8 #ersecution of the tyrant
%iocletian *hen the churches throughout the *hole *orld *ere overthro*n al7 the co#ies of the Holy
K The Britons *ho fought under Boadicea *ere anything but :crafty fo!es.< :Bold lions< is a "uch "ore a##ro#riate
a##ellation> they *ould also have been victorious if they had had half the "ilitary advantages of the Ro"ans.
76
Gildas
1cri#tures *hich could be found burned in the streets and the chosen #astors of God8s floc+ butchered
together *ith their innocent shee# in order that not a vestige if #ossible "ight re"ain in so"e
#rovinces of &hrist8s religion. ;hat disgraceful flights then too+ #lace C *hat slaughter and death
inflicted by *ay of #unish"ent in divers sha#es C*hat dreadful a#ostacies fro" religion> and on the
contrary *hat glorious cro*ns of "artyrdo" then *ere *on C*hat raving fury *as dis#layed by the
#ersecutors and #atience on the #art of the suffering saints ecclesiastical history infor"s us> for the
*hole church *ere cro*ding in a body to leave behind the" the dar+ things of this *orld and to "a+e
the best of their *ay to the ha##y "ansions of heaven as if to their #ro#er ho"e.
(). God therefore *ho *ishes all "en to be saved and *ho calls sinners no less than those *ho
thin+ the"selves righteous "agnified his "ercy to*ards us and as *e +no* during the above'na"ed
#ersecution that Britain "ight not totally be envelo#ed in the dar+ shades of night he of his o*n free
gift +indled u# a"ong us bright lu"inaries of holy "artyrs *hose #laces of burial and of "artyrdo"
had they not for our "anifold cri"es been interfered *ith and destroyed by the barbarians *ould have
still +indled in the "inds of the beholders no s"all fire of divine charity. 1uch *ere 1t. Alban of
@erula" Aaron and Julius citiAens of &arlisle
3
and the rest of both se!es *ho in different #laces
stood their ground in the &hristian contest.
((. The first of these "artyrs 1t. Alban for charity8s sa+e saved another confessor *ho *as
#ursued by his #ersecutors and *as on the #oint of being seiAed by hiding hi" in his house and then
by changing clothes *ith hi" i"itating in this the e!a"#le of &hrist *ho laid do*n his life for his
shee# and e!#osing hi"self in the other8s clothes to be #ursued in his stead. 1o #leasing to God *as
this conduct that bet*een his confession and "artyrdo" he *as honoured *ith the #erfor"ance of
*onderful "iracles in #resence of the i"#ious blas#he"ers *ho *ere carrying the Ro"an standards
and li+e the -sraelites of old *ho trod dry'foot an unfre?uented #ath *hilst the ar+ of the covenant
stood so"e ti"e on the sands in the "idst of Jordan> so also the "artyr *ith a thousand others o#ened
a #ath across the noble river Tha"es *hose *aters stood abru#t li+e #reci#ices on either side> and
seeing this the first of his e!ecutors *as stric+en *ith a*e and fro" a *olf beca"e a la"b> so that he
thirsted for "artyrdo" and boldly under*ent that for *hich he thirsted. The other holy "artyrs *ere
tor"ented *ith divers sufferings and their li"bs *ere rac+ed in such unheard of *ays that they
3 Or &aerleon.
77
On the Ruin of Britain
*ithout delay erected the tro#hies of their glorious "artyrdo" even in the gates of the city of
Jerusale". For those *ho survived hid the"selves in *oods and deserts and secret caves *aiting
until God *ho is the righteous =udge of all should re*ard their #ersecutors *ith =udg"ent and
the"selves *ith #rotection of their lives.
(2. -n less than ten years therefore of the above na"ed #ersecution and *hen these bloody
decrees began to fail in conse?uence of the death of their authors all &hrist8s young disci#les after so
long and *intry a night begin to behold the genial light of heaven. They rebuild the churches *hich
had been levelled to the ground> they found erect and finish churches to the holy "artyrs and
every*here sho* their ensigns as to+en of their victory> festivals are celebrated and sacra"ents
received *ith clean hearts and li#s and all the church8s sons re=oice as it *ere in the fostering boso" of
a "other. For this holy union re"ained bet*een &hrist their head and the "e"bers of his church until
the Arian treason fatal as a ser#ent and vo"iting its #oison fro" beyond the sea caused deadly
dissension bet*een brothers inhabiting the sa"e house and thus as if a road *ere "ade across the sea
li+e *ild beasts of all descri#tions and darting the #oison of every heresy fro" their Ja*s they
inflicted dreadful *ounds u#on their country *hich is ever desirous to hear so"ething ne* and
re"ains constant long to nothing.
(". At length also ne* races of tyrants s#rang u# in terrific nu"bers and the island still bearing
its Ro"an na"e but casting off her institutes and la*s sent forth a"ong the Gauls that bitter scion of
her o*n #lanting 9a!i"us *ith a great nu"ber of follo*ers and the ensigns of royalty *hich he bore
*ithout decency and *ithout la*ful right but in a tyrannical "anner and a"id the disturbances of the
seditious soldiery. He by cunning arts rather than by valour attaching to his rule by #er=ury and false'
hood all the neighbouring to*ns and #rovinces against the Ro"an state e!tended one of his *ings to
1#ain the other to -taly fi!ed the seat of his unholy govern"ent at Treves and so furiously #ushed his
rebellion against his la*ful e"#erors that he drove one of the" out of Ro"e and caused the others to
ter"inate his holy life. Trusting to these successful atte"#ts he not long after lost his accursed head
before the *alls of A?uileia *hereas he had before cut off the cro*ned heads of al"ost all the *orld.
(*. After this Britain is left de#rived of all her soldiery and ar"ed bands of her cruel governors
and of the flo*er of her youth *ho *ent *ith 9a!i"us but never again returned> and utterly ignorant
as she *as of the art of *ar groaned in a"aAe"ent for "any years under the cruelty of t*o foreign
75
Gildas
nations C the 1cots fro" the north'*est and the $icts fro" the north.
(#. The Britons i"#atient at the assaults of the 1cots and $icts their hostilities and dreadful
o##ressions send a"bassadors to Ro"e *ith letters entreating in #iteous ter"s the assistance of an
ar"ed band to #rotect the" and offering loyal and ready sub"ission to the authority of Ro"e if they
only *ould e!#el their invading foes. A legion is i""ediately sent forgetting their #ast rebellion and
#rovided sufficiently *ith ar"s. ;hen they had crossed over the sea and landed they ca"e at once to
close conflict *ith their cruel ene"ies and sle* great nu"bers of the". All of the" *ere driven
beyond the borders and the hu"iliated natives rescued fro" the bloody slavery *hich a*aited the".
By the advice of their #rotectors they no* built a *all across the island fro" one sea to the other
*hich being "anned *ith a #ro#er force "ight be a terror to the foes *ho" it *as intended to re#el
and a #rotection to their friends *ho" it covered. But this *all being "ade of turf instead of stone
*as of no use to that foolish #eo#le *ho had no head to guide the".
($. The Ro"an legion had no sooner returned ho"e in =oy and triu"#h than their for"er foes li+e
hungry and ravening *olves rushing *ith greedy =a*s u#on the fold *hich is left *ithout a she#herd
and *afted both by the strength of oars"en and the blo*ing *ind brea+ through the boundaries and
s#read slaughter on every side and li+e "o*ers cutting do*n the ri#e corn they cut u# tread under
foot and overrun the *hole country.
(%. And no* again they send su##liant a"bassadors *ith their gar"ents rent and their heads
covered *ith ashes i"#loring assistance fro" the Ro"ans and li+e ti"orous chic+ens cro*ding under
the #rotecting *ings of their #arents that their *retched country "ight not altogether be destroyed and
that the Ro"an na"e *hich no* *as but an e"#ty sound to fill the ear "ight not beco"e a re#roach
even to distant nations. N#on this the Ro"ans "oved *ith co"#assion as far as hu"an nature can be
at the relations of such horrors send for*ard li+e eagles in their flight their une!#ected bands of
cavalry by land and "ariners by sea and #lanting their terrible s*ords u#on the shoulders of their
ene"ies they "o* the" do*n li+e leaves *hich fall at the destined #eriod> and as a "ountain'torrent
s*elled *ith nu"erous strea"s and bursting its ban+s *ith roaring noise *ith foa"ing crest and
yeasty *ave rising to the stars by *hose eddying currents our eyes are as it *ere daAAled does *ith
one of its billo*s over*hel" every obstacle in its *ay so did our illustrious defenders vigorously drive
our ene"ies8 band beyond the sea if any could so esca#e the"> for it *as beyond those sa"e seas that
7,
On the Ruin of Britain
they trans#orted year after year the #lunder *hich they had gained no one daring to resist the".
(&. The Ro"ans therefore left the country giving notice that they could no longer be harassed by
such laborious e!#editions nor suffer the Ro"an standards *ith so large and brave an ar"y to be
*orn out by sea and land by fighting against these un*arli+e #lundering vagabonds> but that the
islanders inuring the"selves to *arli+e *ea#ons and bravely fighting should valiantly #rotect their
country their #ro#erty *ives and children and *hat is dearer than these their liberty and lives> that
they should not suffer their hands to be tied behind their bac+s by a nation *hich unless they *ere
enervated by idleness and sloth *as not "ore #o*erful than the"selves but that they should ar" those
hands *ith buc+ler s*ord and s#ear ready for the field of battle> and because they thought this also
of advantage to the #eo#le they *ere about to leave they *ith the hel# of the "iserable natives built a
*all different fro" the for"er by #ublic and #rivate contributions and of the sa"e structure as *alls
generally e!tending in a straight line fro" sea to sea bet*een so"e cities *hich fro" fear of their
ene"ies had there by chance been built. They then give energetic counsel to the ti"orous native and
leave the" #atterns by *hich to "anufacture ar"s. 9oreover on the south coast *here their vessels
lay as there *as so"e a##rehension lest the barbarians "ight land they erected to*ers at stated
intervals co""anding a #ros#ect of the sea> and then left the island never to return.
('. Fo sooner *ere they gone than the $icts and 1cots li+e *or"s *hich in the heat of "id'day
co"e forth fro" their holes hastily land again fro" their canoes in *hich they had been carried
beyond the &ichican
M
valley differing one fro" another in "anners but ins#ired *ith the sa"e avidity
for blood and all "ore eager to shroud their villainous faces in bushy hair than to cover *ith decent
clothing those #arts of their body *hich re?uired it. 9oreover having heard of the de#arture of our
friends and their resolution never to return they seiAed *ith greater boldness than before on all the
country to*ards the e!tre"e north as far as the *all. To o##ose the" there *as #laced on the heights a
garrison e?ually slo* to fight and ill ada#ted to run a*ay a useless and #anic'struc+ co"#any *ho
cla"bered a*ay days and nights on their un#rofitable *atch. 9ean*hile the hoo+ed *ea#ons of their
ene"ies *ere not idle and our *retched country"en *ere dragged fro" the *all and dashed against
the ground. 1uch #re"ature death ho*ever #ainful as it *as saved the" fro" seeing the "iserable
sufferings of their brothers and children. But *hy should - say "oreI They left their cities abandoned
M The "eaning of this e!#ression is not +no*n. O8&onnor thin+s it is the -rish 1ea.
7.
Gildas
the #rotection of the *all and dis#ersed the"selves in flight "ore des#erately than before. The ene"y
on the other hand #ursued the" *ith "ore unrelenting cruelty than before and butchered our
country"en li+e shee# so that their habitations *ere li+e those of savage beasts> for they turned their
ar"s u#on each other and for the sa+e of a little sustenance i"brued their hands in the blood of their
fello* country"en. Thus foreign cala"ities *ere aug"ented by do"estic feuds> so that the *hole
country *as entirely destitute of #rovisions save such as could be #rocured in the chase.
56. Again therefore the *retched re"nant sending to Aetius a #o*erful Ro"an citiAen address
hi" as follo*s(C :To Aetius
76
no* consul for the third ti"e( the groans of the Britons.< And again a
little further thus(C :The barbarians drive us to the sea> the sea thro*s us bac+ on the barbarians( thus
t*o "odes of death a*ait us *e are either slain or dro*ned.< The Ro"ans ho*ever could not assist
the" and in the "eanti"e the disco"fited #eo#le *andering in the *oods began to feel the effects of
a severe fa"ine *hich co"#elled "any of the" *ithout delay to yield the"selves u# to their cruel
#ersecutors to obtain subsistence( others of the" ho*ever lying hid in "ountains caves and *oods
continually sallied out fro" thence to rene* the *ar. And then it *as for the first ti"e that they
overthre* their ene"ies *ho had for so "any years been living in their country> for their trust *as not
in "an but in God> according to the "a!i" of $hilo :;e "ust have divine assistance *hen that of
"an fails.< The boldness of the ene"y *as for a *hile chec+ed but not the *ic+edness of our
country"en( the ene"y left our #eo#le but the #eo#le did not leave their sins.
57. For it has al*ays been a custo" *ith our nation it is at #resent to be i"#otent in re#elling
foreign foes but bold and invincible in raising civil *ar and bearing the burdens of their offences they
are i"#otent - say in follo*ing the standard of #eace and truth but bold in *ic+edness and falsehood.
The audacious invaders therefore return to their *inter ?uarters deter"ined before long again to return
and #lunder. And then too the $icts for the first ti"e seated the"selves at the e!tre"ity of the island
*here they after*ards continued occasionally #lundering and *asting the country. %uring these truces
the *ounds of the distressed #eo#le are healed but another sore still "ore veno"ous bro+e out. Fo
sooner *ere the ravages of the ene"y chec+ed than the island *as deluged *ith a "ost e!traordinary
#lenty of all things greater than *as before +no*n and *ith it gre* u# every +ind of lu!ury and
licentiousness. -t gre* *ith so fir" a root that one "ight truly say of it :1uch fornication is heard of
76 Or Agitius, according to another reading.
70
On the Ruin of Britain
a"ong you as never *as +no*n the li+e a"ong the Gentiles.< But besides this vice there arose also
every other to *hich hu"an nature is liable and in #articular that hatred of truth together *ith her
su##orters *hich still at #resent destroys every thing good in the island> the love of falsehood together
*ith its inventors the rece#tion of cri"e in the #lace of virtue the res#ect sho*n to *ic+edness rather
than goodness the love of dar+ness instead of the sun the ad"ission of 1atan as an angel of light.
Oings *ere anointed not according to God8s ordinance but such as sho*ed the"selves "ore cruel than
the rest> and soon after they *ere #ut to death by those *ho had elected the" *ithout any in?uiry into
their "erits but because others still "ore cruel *ere chosen to succeed the". -f any one of these *as of
a "ilder nature than the rest or in any *ay "ore regardful of the truth he *as loo+ed u#on as the
ruiner of the country every body cast a dart at hi" and they valued things ali+e *hether #leasing or
dis#leasing to God unless it so ha##ened that *hat dis#leased hi" *as #leasing to the"selves. 1o that
the *ords of the #ro#het addressed to the #eo#le of old "ight *ell be a##lied to our o*n country"en(
:&hildren *ithout a la* have ye left God and #rovo+ed to anger the holy one of -sraelI
77
;hy *ill ye
still in?uire adding ini?uityI /very head is languid and every heart is sad> fro" the sole of the foot to
the cro*n there is no health in hi".< And thus they did all things contrary to their salvation as if no
re"edy could be a##lied to the *orld by the true #hysician of all "en. And not only the laity did so but
our 4ord8s o*n floc+ and its she#herds *ho ought to have been an e!a"#le to the #eo#le slu"bered
a*ay their ti"e in drun+enness as if they had been di##ed in *ine> *hilst the s*ellings of #ride the
=ar of strife the gri#ing talons of envy and the confused esti"ate of right and *rong got such entire
#ossession of the" that there see"ed to be #oured out Gand the sa"e still continuethH conte"#t u#on
#rinces and to be "ade by their vanities to *ander astray and not in the *ay.
55. 9ean*hile God being *illing to #urify his fa"ily *ho *ere infected by so dee# a stain of
*oe and at the hearing only of their cala"ities to a"end the"> a vague ru"our suddenly as if on *ings
reaches the ears of all that their inveterate foes *ere ra#idly a##roaching to destroy the *hole country
and to ta+e #ossession of it as of old fro" one end to the other. But yet they derived no advantage
fro" this intelligence> for li+e frantic beasts ta+ing the bit of reason bet*een their teeth they
abandoned the safe and narro* road and rushed for*ard u#on the broad do*n*ard #ath of vice *hich
leads to death. ;hilst therefore as 1olo"on says the stubborn servant is not cured by *ords the fool
77 -sa. i. . 0. -n "ost of these ?uotations there is great verbal variation fro" the authorised version( the author #robably
?uoted fro" "e"ory if not fro" the 4atin version.
7B
Gildas
is scourged and feels it not( a #estilential disease "ortally affected the foolish #eo#le *hich *ithout
the s*ord cut off so large a nu"ber of #ersons that the living *ere not able to bury the". But even
this *as no *arning to the" that in the" also "ight be fulfilled the *ords of -saiah the #ro#het :And
God hath called his #eo#le to la"entation to baldness and to the girdle of sac+cloth> behold they begin
to +ill calves and to slay ra"s to eat to drin+ and to say 8;e *ill eat and drin+ for to"orro* *e
shall die.<8 For the ti"e *as a##roaching *hen all their ini?uities as for"erly those of the
A"orrhaeans should be fulfilled. For a council *as called to settle *hat *as best and "ost e!#edient
to be done in order to re#el such fre?uent and fatal irru#tions and #lunderings of the above'na"ed
nations.
2". Then all the councillors together *ith that #roud tyrant Gurthrigern E@ortigernJ the British
+ing *ere so blinded that as a #rotection to their country they sealed its doo" by inviting in a"ong
the" Gli+e *olves into the shee#'foldH the fierce and i"#ious 1a!ons a race hateful both to God and
"en to re#el the invasions of the northern nations. Fothing *as ever so #ernicious to our country
nothing *as ever so unluc+y. ;hat #al#able dar+ness "ust have envelo#ed their "inds C dar+ness
des#erate and cruelD Those very #eo#le *ho" *hen absent they dreaded "ore than death itself *ere
invited to reside as one "ay say under the selfsa"e roof. Foolish are the #rinces as it is said of
Thafneos giving counsel to un*ise $haraoh. A "ultitude of *hel#s ca"e forth fro" the lair of this
barbaric lioness in three cyuls as they call the" that is in three shi#s of *ar *ith their sails *afted
by the *ind and *ith o"ens and #ro#hecies favourable for it *as foretold by a certain soothsayer
a"ong the" that they should occu#y the country to *hich they *ere sailing three hundred years and
half of that ti"e a hundred and fifty years should #lunder and des#oil the sa"e. They first landed on
the eastern side of the island by the invitation of the unluc+y +ing and there fi!ed their shar# talons
a##arently to fight in favour of the island but alasD "ore truly against it. Their "other'land finding her
first brood thus successful sends forth a larger co"#any of her *olfish offs#ring *hich sailing over
=oin the"selves to their bastard'born co"rades. Fro" that ti"e the ger" of ini?uity and the root of
contention #lanted their #oison a"ongst us as *e deserved and shot forth into leaves and branches.
The barbarians being thus introduced as soldiers into the island to encounter as they falsely said any
dangers in defence of their hos#itable entertainers obtain an allo*ance of #rovisions *hich for so"e
ti"e being #lentifully besto*ed sto##ed their doggish "ouths. 2et they co"#lain that their "onthly
su##lies are not furnished in sufficient abundance and they industriously aggravate each occasion of
7K
On the Ruin of Britain
?uarrel saying that unless "ore liberality is sho*n the" they *ill brea+ the treaty and #lunder the
*hole island. -n a short ti"e they follo* u# their threats *ith deeds.
5.. For the fire of vengeance =ustly +indled by for"er cri"es s#read fro" sea to sea fed by the
hands of our foes in the east and did not cease until destroying the neighbouring to*ns and lands it
reached the other side of the island and di##ed its red and savage tongue in the *estern ocean. -n these
assaults therefore not unli+e that of the Assyrian u#on Judea *as fulfilled in our case *hat the
#ro#het describes in *ords of la"entation( :They have burned *ith fire the sanctuary> they have
#olluted on earth the tabernacle of thy na"e.< And again :O God the gentiles have co"e into thine
inheritance> thy holy te"#le have they defiled< Pc. 1o that all the colu"ns *ere levelled *ith the
ground by the fre?uent stro+es of the battering'ra" all the husband"en routed together *ith their
bisho#s #riests and #eo#le *hilst the s*ord glea"ed and the fla"es crac+led around the" on every
side. 4a"entable to behold in the "idst of the streets lay the to#s of lofty to*ers tu"bled to the
ground stones of high *alls holy altars frag"ents of hu"an bodies covered *ith livid clots of
coagulated blood loo+ing as if they had been s?ueeAed together in a #ress>
75
and *ith no chance of
being buried save in the ruins of the houses or in the ravening bellies of *ild beasts and birds> *ith
reverence be it s#o+en for their blessed souls if indeed there *ere "any found *ho *ere carried at
that ti"e into the high heaven by the holy angels. 1o entirely had the vintage once so fine
degenerated and beco"e bitter that in the *ords of the #ro#het there *as hardly a gra#e or ear of corn
to be seen *here the husband"an had turned his bac+.
50. 1o"e therefore of the "iserable re"nant being ta+en in the "ountains *ere "urdered in
great nu"bers> others constrained by fa"ine ca"e and yielded the"selves to be slaves for ever to
their foes running the ris+ of being instantly slain *hich truly *as the greatest favour that could be
offered the"( so"e others #assed beyond the seas *ith loud la"entations instead of the voice of
e!hortation. :Thou hast given us as shee# to be slaughtered and a"ong the Gentiles hast thou
dis#ersed us.< Others co""itting the safeguard of their lives *hich *ere in continual =eo#ardy to the
"ountains #reci#ices thic+ly *ooded forests and to the roc+s of the seas Galbeit *ith tre"bling
heartsH re"ained still in their country. But in the "ean*hile an o##ortunity ha##ening *hen these
"ost cruel robbers *ere returned ho"e the #oor re"nants of our nation Gto *ho" floc+ed fro" divers
75 These are the *ords of the old translation> the original is obscure and. #erha#s corru#t.
73
Gildas
#laces round about our "iserable country"en as fast as bees to their hives for fear of an ensuing
stor"H being strengthened by God calling u#on hi" *ith all their hearts as the #oet saysC
L;ith their unnu"bered vo*s they burden heavenL
that they "ight not be brought to utter destruction too+ ar"s under the conduct of A"brosius
Aurelianus a "odest "an *ho of all the Ro"an nation *as then alone in the confusion of this
troubled #eriod by chance left alive. His #arents *ho for their "erit *ere adorned *ith the #ur#le had
been slain in these sa"e broils and no* his #rogeny in these our days although sha"efully
degenerated fro" the *orthiness of their ancestors #rovo+e to battle their cruel con?uerors and by the
goodness of our 4ord obtain the victory.
2$. After this so"eti"es our country"en so"eti"es the ene"y *on the field to the end that our
4ord "ight this land try after his accusto"ed "anner these his -sraelites *hether they loved hi" or
not until the year of the siege of Bath'hill *hen too+ #lace also the last al"ost though not the least
slaughter of our cruel foes *hich *as Gas - a" sureH forty'four years and one "onth after the landing
of the 1a!ons and also the ti"e of "y o*n nativity. And yet neither to this day are the cities of our
country inhabited as before but being forsa+en and overthro*n still lie desolate> our foreign *ars
having ceased but our civil troubles still re"aining. For as *ell the re"e"brance of such a terrible
desolation of the island as also of the une!#ected recovery of the sa"e re"ained in the "inds of those
*ho *ere eye*itnesses of the *onderful events of both and in regard thereof +ings #ublic
"agistrates and #rivate #ersons *ith #riests and clergy"en did all and every one of the" live orderly
according to their several vocations. But *hen these had de#arted out of this *orld and a ne* race
succeeded *ho *ere ignorant of this troubleso"e ti"e and had only e!#erience of the #resent
#ros#erity all the la*s of truth and =ustice *ere so sha+en and subverted that not so "uch as a vestige
or re"e"brance of these virtues re"ained a"ong the above'na"ed orders of "en e!ce#t a"ong a very
fe* *ho co"#ared *ith the great "ultitude *hich *ere daily rushing headlong do*n to hell are
accounted so s"all a nu"ber that our reverend "other the church scarcely beholds the" her only
true children re#osing in her boso"> *hose *orthy lives being a #attern to all "en and beloved of
God inas"uch as by their holy #rayers as by certain #illars and "ost #rofitable su##orters our
infir"ity is sustained u# that it "ay not utterly be bro+en do*n - *ould have no one su##ose -
intended to re#rove if forced by the increasing "ultitude of offences - have freely aye *ith anguish
7M
On the Ruin of Britain
not so "uch declared as be*ailed the *ic+edness of those *ho are beco"e servants not only to their
bellies but also to the devil rather than to &hrist *ho is our blessed God *orld *ithout end.
For *hy shall their country"en conceal *hat foreign nations round about no* not only +no* but
also continually are casting in their teethI
III. THE EPIST+E.
2%. BR-TA-F has +ings but they are tyrants> she has =udges but unrighteous ones> generally
engaged in #lunder and ra#ine but al*ays #reying on the innocent> *henever they e!ert the"selves to
avenge or #rotect it is sure to be in favour of robbers and cri"inals> they have an abundance of *ives
yet are they addicted to fornication and adultery> they are ever ready to ta+e oaths and as often #er=ure
the"selves> they "a+e a vo* and al"ost i""ediately act falsely> they "a+e *ar but their *ars are
against their country"en and are un=ust ones> they rigorously #rosecute thieves throughout their
country but those *ho sit at table *ith the" are robbers and they not only cherish but re*ard the">
they give al"s #lentifully but in contrast to this is a *hole #ile of cri"es *hich they have co""itted>
they sit on the seat of =ustice but rarely see+ for the rule of right =udg"ent> they des#ise the innocent
and the hu"ble but seiAe every occasion of e!alting to the ut"ost the bloody'"inded> the #roud
"urderers the co"bined and adulterers ene"ies of God *ho ought to be utterly destroyed and their
na"es forgotten.
They have "any #risoners in their gaols loaded *ith chains but this is done in treachery rather
than in =ust #unish"ent for cri"es> and *hen they have stood before the altar s*earing by the na"e of
God they go a*ay and thin+ no "ore of the holy altar than if it *ere a "ere hea# of dirty stones.
2&. Of this horrid abo"ination &onstantine
7,
the tyrannical *hel# of the unclean lioness of
%a"nonia
7.
is not ignorant.
This sa"e year after ta+ing a dreadful oath G*hereby he bound hi"self first before God by a
sole"n #rotestation and then called all the saints and 9other of God to *itness that he *ould not
contrive any deceit against his country"enH he nevertheless in the habit of a holy abbat a"id the
7, $robably &ystennyn of the Bards. &onstantine is a na"e often occurring in the British royal fa"ilies. The &onstantine of
Gildas is su##osed to have been +ing of &orn*all *ho abdicated his throne and after*ards #reached the gos#el to the
$icts and 1cots. 1o"e account of hi" *ill be found in the Aberdeen Breviary in the Acta 1anctoru" 9arch vol ii. #.
B. and in ;hita+er8s &athedral of &orn*all i. ,50.
7. The #resent counties of %evon and &orn*all.
56
Gildas
sacred altars did *ith s*ord and =avelin as if *ith teeth *ound and tear even in the boso"s of their
te"#oral "other and of the church their s#iritual "other t*o royal youths *ith their t*o attendants
*hose ar"s although not eased in ar"our *ere yet boldly used and stretched out to*ards God and
his altar *ill hang u# at the gates of thy city O &hrist the venerable ensigns of their faith and #atience>
and *hen he had done it the cloa+s red *ith coagulated blood did touch the #lace of the heavenly
sacrifice. And not one *orthy act could he boast of #revious to this cruel deed> for "any years before
he had stained hi"self *ith the abo"ination of "any adulteries having #ut a*ay his *ife contrary to
the co""and of &hrist the teacher of the *orld *ho hath said( :;hat God hath =oined together let
not "an se#arate< and again( :Husbands love your *ives.< For he had #lanted in the ground of his
heart Gan unfruitful soil for any good seedH a bitter scion of incredulity and folly ta+en fro" the vine of
1odo" *hich being *atered *ith his vulgar and do"estic i"#ieties li+e #oisonous sho*ers and
after*ards audaciously s#ringing u# to the offence of God brought forth into the *orld the sin of
horrible "urder and sacrilege> and not yet discharged fro" the entangling nets of his for"er offences
he added ne* *ic+edness to the for"er.
2'. Go to no* - re#rove thee as #resent *ho" - +no* as yet to be in this life e!tant. ;hy standest
thou astonished O thou butcher of thine o*n soulI ;hy dost thou *ilfully +indle against thyself the
eternal fires of hellI ;hy dost thou in #lace of ene"ies des#erately stab thyself *ith thine o*n s*ord
*ith thine o*n =avelinI &annot those sa"e #oisonous cu#s of offences yet satisfy thy sto"achI 4oo+
bac+ G- beseech theeH and co"e to &hrist Gfor thou labourest and art #ressed do*n to the earth *ith this
huge burdenH and he hi"self as he said *ill give thee rest. &o"e to hi" *ho *isheth not the death of
a sinner but that he should be rather converted and live. Nnloose Gaccording to the #ro#hetH the bands
of thy nec+ O thou son of 1ion. Return G- #ray theeH although fro" the far re"ote regions of sins unto
the "ost holy Father *ho for his son that *ill des#ise the filthy food of s*ine and fear a death of
cruel fa"ine and so co"e bac+ to hi" again hath *ith great =oy been accusto"ed to +ill his fatted
calf and bring forth for the *anderer the first robe and royal ring and then ta+ing as it *ere a taste of
the heavenly ho#e thou shalt #erceive ho* s*eet our 4ord is. For if thou dost conte"n these be thou
assured thou shalt al"ost instantly be tossed and tor"ented in the inevitable and dar+ floods of endless
fire.
57
On the Ruin of Britain
,6. ;hat dost thou also thou lion8s *hel# Gas the #ro#het saithH Aurelius &onanusI
70
Art not thou
as the for"er Gif not far "ore foulH to thy utter destruction s*allo*ed u# in the filthiness of horrible
"urders fornications and adulteries as by an over*hel"ing flood of the seaI Hast not thou by hating
as a deadly ser#ent the #eace of thy country and thirsting un=ustly after civil *ars and fre?uent s#oil
shut the gates of heavenly #eace and re#ose against thine o*n soulI Being no* left alone as a
*ithering tree in the "idst of a field re"e"ber G- beseech theeH the vain and idle fancies of thy #arents
and brethren together *ith the unti"ely death that befell the" in the #ri"e of their youth> and shalt
thou for thy religious deserts be reserved out of all thy fa"ily to live a hundred years or to attain to
the age of a 9ethusale"I Fo surely but unless Gas the #sal"ist saithH thou shalt be s#eedily converted
unto our 4ord that Oing *ill shortly brandish his s*ord against thee *ho hath said by his #ro#het :-
*ill +ill and - *ill cause to live> - *ill stri+e and - *ill heal> and there is no one *ho can deliver out of
"y hand.< Be thou therefore sha+en out of thy filthy dust and *ith all thy heart converted to Hi" *ho
hath created thee that :*hen his *rath shall shortly burn out thou "ayst be blessed by fi!ing thy
ho#es on hi".< But if other*ise eternal #ains *ill be hea#ed u# for thee *here thou shalt be ever
tor"ented and never consu"ed in the cruel =a*s of hell.
"(. Thou also *ho li+e to the s#otted leo#ard art diverse in "anners and in "ischief *hose head
no* is gro*ing grey *ho art seated on a throne full of deceits and fro" the botto" even to the to# art
stained *ith "urder and adulteries thou naughty son of a good +ing li+e 9anasses s#rung fro"
/Aechiah @orti#ore thou foolish tyrant of the %e"etians
7B
*hy art thou so stiffI ;hatD do not such
violent gulfs of sin G*hich thou dost s*allo* u# li+e #leasant *ine nay rather *hich s*allo* thee u#H
as yet satisfy thee es#ecially since the end of thy life is daily no* a##roachingI ;hy dost thou heavily
clog thy "iserable soul *ith the sin of lust *hich is fouler than any other by #utting a*ay thy *ife
and after her honourable death by the base #ractices of thy sha"eless daughterI ;aste not G- beseech
theeH the residue of thy life in offending God because as yet an acce#table ti"e and day of salvation
shines on the faces of the #enitent *herein thou "ayest ta+e care that thy flight "ay not be in the
*inter or on the sabbath day. :Turn a*ay Gaccording to the #sal"istH fro" evil and do good see+
#eace and ensue it< because the eyes of our 4ord *ill be cast u#on thee *hen thou doest
righteousness and his ears *ill be then o#en unto thy #rayers and he *ill not destroy thy "e"ory out
70 Oing of $o*island *hich for so"e ti"e for"ed a distinct +ingdo".
7B -nhabitants of the counties of &ardigan $e"bro+e and &ar"arthen.
55
Gildas
of the land of the living> thou shalt cry and he *ill hear thee and out of thy tribulations deliver thee>
for &hrist doth never des#ise a heart that is contrite and hu"bled *ith fear of hi". Other*ise the *or"
of thy torture shall not die and the fire of thy burning shall never be e!tinguished.
"2. And thou too &uneglasse
7K
*hy art thou fallen into the filth of thy for"er naughtiness yea
since the very first s#ring of thy tender youth thou bear thou rider and ruler of "any and guider of the
chariot *hich is the rece#tacle of the bear thou conte"ner of God and vilifier of his order thou ta*ny
butcher as in the 4atin tongue thy na"e signifies. ;hy dost thou raise so great a *ar as *ell against
"en as also against God hi"self against "en yea thy o*n country"en *ith thy deadly *ea#ons and
against God *ith thine infinite offencesI ;hy besides thine other innu"erable bac+slidings having
thro*n out of doors thy *ife dost thou in the lust or rather stu#idity of thy "ind against the a#ostle8s
e!#ress #rohibition denouncing that no adulterers can be #arta+ers of the +ingdo" of heaven estee"
her detestable sister *ho had vo*ed unto God the everlasting continency as the very do*er Gin the
language of the #oetH of the celestial ny"#hsI ;hy dost thou #rovo+e *ith thy fre?uent in=uries the
la"entations and sighs of saints by thy "eans cor#orally afflicted *hich *ill in ti"e to co"e li+e a
fierce lioness brea+ thy bones in #iecesI %esist - beseech thee Gas the #ro#het saithH fro" *rath and
leave off thy deadly fury *hich thou breathest out against heaven and earth against God and his floc+
and *hich in ti"e *il7 be thy o*n tor"ent> rather *ith altered "ind obtain the #rayers of those *ho
#ossess a #o*er of binding over this *orld *hen in this *orld they bind the guilty and of loosing
*hen they loose the #enitent. Be not Gas the a#ostle saithH #roudly *ise nor ho#e thou in the
uncertainty of riches but in God *ho giveth thee "any things abundantly and by the a"end"ent of
thy "anners #urchase unto thyself a good foundation for hereafter and see+ to enter into that real and
true state of e!istence *hich *ill be not transitory but everlasting. Other*ise thou shalt +no* and see
yea in this very *orld ho* bad and bitter a thing it is for thee to leave the 4ord thy God and not have
his fear before thine eyes and in the ne!t ho* thou shalt be burned in the foul enco"#assing fla"es of
endless fire nor yet by any "anner of "eans shalt ever die. For the souls of the sinful are as eternal in
#er#etual fire as the souls of the =ust in #er#etual =oy and gladness.
"". And li+e*ise O thou dragon of the island *ho hast de#rived "any tyrants as *ell of their
+ingdo"s as of their lives and though the last'"entioned in "y *riting the first in "ischief e!ceeding
7K His do"inions *ere north of &a"bria bet*een the 1evern and the ;estern 1ea.
5,
On the Ruin of Britain
"any in #o*er and also in "alice "ore liberal than others in giving "ore licentious in sinning strong
in ar"s but stronger in *or+ing thine o*n soul8s destruction 9aglocune
73
*hy art thou Gas if soa+ed
in the *ine of the 1odo"itical gra#eH foolishly rolling in that blac+ #ool of thine offencesI ;hy dost
thou *ilfully hea# li+e a "ountain u#on thy +ingly shoulders such a load of sinsI ;hy dost thou sho*
thyself unto the Oing of +ings G*ho hath "ade thee as *ell in +ingdo" as in stature of body higher
than al"ost all the other chiefs of BritainH not better li+e*ise in virtues than the rest> but on the
contrary for thy sins "uch *orseI 4isten then a*hile and hear #atiently the follo*ing enu"eration of
thy deeds *herein - *ill not touch any do"estic and light offences Gif yet any of the" are lightH but
only those o#en ones *hich are s#read far and *ide in the +no*ledge of all "en. %idst not thou in the
very beginning of thy youth terribly o##ress *ith s*ord s#ear and fire the +ing thine uncle together
*ith his courageous bands of soldiers *hose countenances in battle *ere not unli+e those of young
lionsI Fot regarding the *ords of the #ro#het *ho says :The blood'thirsty and deceitful "en shall not
live out half their days< and even if the se?uel of thy sins *ere not such as ensued yet *hat retribution
couldst thou e!#ect for this offence only at the hands of the =ust Judge *ho hath said by his #ro#het(
:;oe be to thee *ho s#oilest and shalt not thou thyself be s#oiledI and thou *ho +illest shalt not
thyself be +illedI and *hen thou shalt "a+e an end of thy s#oiling then shalt thou thyself fall.<
,.. But *hen the i"agination of thy violent rule had succeeded according to thy *ishes and thou
*ast urged by a desire to return into the right *ay night and day the consciousness of thy cri"es
afflicted thee *hilst thou didst ru"inate on the 4ord8s ritual and the ordinances of the "on+s and then
#ublish to the *orld and vo* thyself before God a "on+ *ith no intention to be unfaithful as thou
didst say having burst through those toils in *hich such great beasts as thyself *ere used to beco"e
entangled *hether it *ere love of rule of gold or silver or *hat is stronger still the fancies of thy
o*n heart. And didst thou not as a dove *hich cleaves the yielding air *ith its #inions and by its ra#id
turns esca#es the furious ha*+ safely return to the cells *here the saints re#ose as a "ost certain #lace
of refugeI Oh ho* great a =oy should it have been to our "other church if the ene"y of all "an+ind
had not la"entably #ulled thee as it *ere out of her boso"D Oh *hat an abundant fla"e of heavenly
ho#e *ould have been +indled in the hearts of des#erate sinners hadst thou re"ained in thy blessed
estateD Oh *hat great re*ards in the +ingdo" of &hrist *ould have been laid u# for thy soul against the
day of =udg"ent if that crafty *olf had not caught thee *ho of a *olf *ast no* beco"e a la"b Gnot
73 $robably 9aelg*n G*ynedd +ing of Forth ;ales.
5.
Gildas
"uch against thine o*n *illH out of the fold of our 4ord and "ade thee of a la"b a *olf li+e unto
hi"self againI Oh ho* great a =oy *ould the #reservation of thy salvation have been to God the Father
of all saints had not the devil the father of all casta*ays as an eagle of "onstrous *ings and cla*s
carried thee ca#tive a*ay against all right and reason to the unha##y band of his childrenI And to be
short thy conversion to righteousness gave as great =oy to heaven and earth as no* thy detestable
return li+e a dog to his vo"it breedeth grief and la"entation( *hich being done :the "e"bers *hich
should have been busily e"#loyed as the ar"our of =ustice for the 4ord are no* beco"e the ar"our of
ini?uity for sin and the devil>< for no* thou dost not listen to the #raises of God s*eetly sounded forth
by the #leasant voices of &hrist8s soldiers nor the instru"ents of ecclesiastical "elody but thy o*n
#raises G*hich are nothingH rung out after the fashion of the giddy rout of Bacchus by the "ouths of thy
villainous follo*ers acco"#anied *ith lies and "alice to the utter destruction of the neighbours so
that the vessel #re#ared for the service of God is no* turned to a vessel of dirt and *hat *as once
re#uted *orthy of heavenly honour is no* cast as it deserves into the botto"less #it of hell.
"#. 2et neither is thy sensual "ind G*hich is overco"e by the e!cess of thy folliesH at all chec+ed
in its course *ith co""itting so "any sins but hot and #rone Gli+e a young colt that coveteth every
#leasant #astureH runneth headlong for*ard *ith irrecoverable fury through the intended fields of
cri"e continually increasing the nu"ber of its transgressions. For the for"er "arriage of thy first *ife
Galthough after thy violated vo* of religion she *as not la*fully thine but only by right of the ti"e she
*as *ith theeH *as no* des#ised by thee and another *o"an the *ife of a "an then living and he no
stranger but thy o*n brother8s son en=oyed thy affections. N#on *hich occasion that stiff nec+ of thine
Galready laden *ith sinsH is no* burdened *ith t*o "onstrous "urders the one of thy aforesaid
ne#he* the other of her *ho once *as thy *edded *ife( and thou art no* fro" lo* to lo*er and
fro" bad to *orse bo*ed bent and sun+ do*n into the lo*est de#th of sacrilege. After*ards also
didst thou #ublicly "arry the *ido* by *hose deceit and suggestion such a heavy *eight of offences
*as undergone and ta+e her la*fully as the flattering tongues of thy #arasites *ith false *ords
#ronounced it but as *e say "ost *ic+edly to be thine o*n in *edloc+. And therefore *hat holy "an
is there *ho "oved *ith the narration of such a history *ould not #resently brea+ out into *ee#ing
and la"entationsI ;hat #riest G*hose heart lieth o#en unto GodH *ould not instantly u#on hearing
this e!clai" *ith anguish in the language of the #ro#het( :;ho shall give *ater to "y head and to "y
eyes a fountain of tears and - *ill day and night be*ail those of "y #eo#le *ho are slaughtered.< For
50
On the Ruin of Britain
full little GalasDH hast thou *ith thine ears listened to that re#rehension of the #ro#het s#ea+ing in this
*ise( :;oe be unto you O *ic+ed "en *ho have left the la* of the "ost holy God and if ye shall be
born your #ortion shall be to "alediction and if ye die to "alediction shall be your #ortion all things
that are fro" the earth to the earth shall be converted again so shall the *ic+ed fro" "alediction #ass
to #erdition(< if they return not unto our 4ord listening to this ad"onition( :1on thou hast offended>
add no further offence thereunto but rather #ray for the forgiveness of the for"er.< And again :Be not
slo* to be converted unto our 4ord neither #ut off the sa"e fro" day to day for his *rath doth co"e
suddenly.< Because as the 1cri#ture saith :;hen the +ing heareth the un=ust *ord all under his
do"inion beco"e *ic+ed.< And the =ust +ing Gaccording to the #ro#hetH raiseth u# his region.
,B. But *arnings truly are not *anting to thee since thou hast had for thy instructor the "ost
elo?uent "aster of al"ost all Britain. Ta+e heed thereof lest that *hich 1olo"on noteth befall thee
*hich is :/ven as he *ho stirreth u# a slee#ing "an out of his heavy slee# so is that #erson *ho
declareth *isdo" unto a fool for in the end of his s#eech *ill he say ;hat hast thou first s#o+enI
;ash thine heart Gas it is *rittenH fro" "alice O Jerusale" that thou "ayest be saved.< %es#ise not G-
beseech theeH the uns#ea+able "ercy of God calling by his #ro#het the *ic+ed in this *ay fro" their
offences( :- *ill on a sudden s#ea+ to the nation and to the +ingdo" that - "ay root out and dis#erse
and destroy and overthro*.< As for the sinner he doth in this *ise e!hort hi" vehe"ently to re#ent.
:And if the sa"e #eo#le shall re#ent fro" their offence - *ill also re#ent of the evil *hich - have said
that - *ould do unto the".< And again :;ho *ill give the" such an heart that they "ay hear "e and
+ee# "y co""and"ents and that it "ay be *ell *ith the" all the days of their lives.< And also in the
&anticle of %euterono"y :A #eo#le *ithout counsel and #rudence - *ish they *ould be *ise and
understand and foresee the last of all ho* one #ursueth a thousand and t*o #ut to flight ten thousand.<
And again our 4ord in the gos#el :&o"e unto "e all ye *ho do labour and are burdened and - *ill
"a+e you rest. Ta+e "y yo+e u#on you and learn of "e because - a" "ee+ and hu"ble of heart and
ye shall find re#ose for your souls.< For if thou turn a deaf ear to these ad"onitions conte"n the
#ro#hets and des#ise &hrist and "a+e no account of us hu"ble though *e be so long as *ith sincere
#iety and #urity of "ind *e bear in "ind that saying of the #ro#het that *e "ay not be found :%u"b
dogs not able to bar+>< Gho*ever - for "y #art "ay not be of that singular fortitude in the s#irit and
virtue of our 4ord as to declare :To the house of Jacob their sins and the house of -srael their
offences>LH and so long as *e shall re"e"ber that of 1olo"on :He *ho says that the *ic+ed are =ust
5B
Gildas
shall be accursed a"ong the #eo#le and odious to nations for they *ho re#rove the" shall have better
ho#es.< And again :Res#ect not *ith reverence thy neighbour in his ruin nor forbear to s#ea+ in ti"e
of salvation.< And as long also as *e forget not this :Root out those *ho are led to death and forbear
not to redee" the" *ho are "urdered>< because as the sa"e #ro#het says :Riches shall not #rofit in
the day of *rath but =ustice delivereth fro" death.< And :-f the =ust indeed be hardly saved *here
shall the *ic+ed and sinner a##earI -f as - said thou scorn us *ho obey these te!ts the dar+ flood of
hell shall *ithout doubt eternally dro*n thee in that deadly *hirl#ool and those terrible strea"s of fire
that shall ever tor"ent and never consu"e thee and then shall the confession of thy #ains and sorro*
for thy sins be altogether too late and un#rofitable to one *ho no* in this acce#ted ti"e and day of
salvation deferreth his conversion to a "ore righteous *ay of life.
"%. And here indeed if not before *as this la"entable history of the "iseries of our ti"e to have
been brought to a conclusion that - "ight no further discourse of the deeds of "en> but that - "ay not
be thought ti"id or *eary *hereby - "ight the less carefully avoid that saying of -saiah :;oe be to
the" *ho call good evil and evil good #lacing dar+ness for light and light for dar+ness bitter for
s*eet and s*eet for bitter *ho seeing see not and hearing hear not *hose hearts are overshado*ed
*ith a thic+ and blac+ cloud of vices>< - *ill briefly set do*n the threatenings *hich are denounced
against these five aforesaid lascivious horses the frantic follo*ers of $haraoh through *ho" his ar"y
is *ilfully urged for*ard to their utter destruction in the Red 1ea and also against such others by the
sacred oracles *ith *hose holy testi"onies the fra"e of this our little *or+ is as it *ere roofed in
that it "ay not be sub=ect to the sho*ers of the envious *hich other*ise *ould be #oured thereon. 4et
therefore God8s holy #ro#hets *ho are to "ortal "en the "outh of God and the organ of the Holy
Ghost forbidding evils and favouring goodness ans*er for us as *ell no* as for"erly against the
stubborn and #roud #rinces of this our age that they "ay not say *e "enace the" *ith such threats
and such great terrors of our o*n invention only and *ith rash and over'Aealous "eddling. For to no
*ise "an is it doubtful ho* far "ore grievous the sins of this our ti"e are than those of the #ri"itive
age *hen the a#ostle said :Any one transgressing the la* being convicted by t*o or three *itnesses
shall die ho* "uch *orse #unish"ent thin+ ye then that he deserveth *ho shall tra"#le under his
foot the 1on of GodIL
"&. And first of all a##ears before us 1a"uel by God8s co""and"ent the establisher of a la*ful
5K
On the Ruin of Britain
+ingdo" dedicated to God before his birth undoubtedly +no*n by "arvellous signs to be a true
#ro#het unto all the #eo#le fro" %an even to Beersheba out of *hose "outh the Holy Ghost
thundereth to all the #otentates of the *orld denouncing 1aul the first +ing of the Hebre*s only
because he did not acco"#lish so"e "atters co""anded hi" of our 4ord in these *ords *hich
follo*( :Thou hast done foolishly neither yet hast thou +e#t the co""and"ents of our 4ord thy God
that he hath given thee in charge> *hich if thou hadst not co""itted even no* had our 4ord #re#ared
thy reign over -srael for ever but thy +ingdo" shall no farther arise.< And *hat did he co""it *hether
it *ere adultery or "urder li+e to the offences of the #resent ti"eI Fo truly but bro+e in #art one of
God8s co""and"ents for as one of our *riters says :The ?uestion is not of the ?uality of the sin but
of the violating of the #rece#t.< Also *hen he endeavoured to ans*er Gas he thoughtH( the ob=ections of
1a"uel and after the fashion of "en *isely to "a+e e!cuses for his offence in this "anner( :2ea -
have obeyed the voice of our 4ord and *al+ed in the *ay through *hich he hath sent "e>< *ith this
rebu+e *as he corrected by hi"( :;hatD *ill our 4ord have burnt offerings or oblations and not rather
that the voice of our 4ord should be obeyedI Obedience is better than oblations and to hear+en unto
hi" better than to offer the fat of ra"s. For as it is the sin of soothsaying to resist so is it the offence of
idolatry not to obey> in regard therefore that thou hast cast a*ay the *ord of our 4ord he hath also
cast thee a*ay that thou be not +ing.< And a little after :Our 4ord hath this day rent the +ingdo" of
-srael fro" thee and delivered it u# to thy neighbour a "an better than thyself. The Triu"#her of
-srael truly *ill not s#are and *ill not be bo*ed *ith re#entance neither yet is he a "an that he should
re#ent>< that is to say u#on the stony hearts of the *ic+ed( *herein it is to be noted ho* he saith that
to be disobedient unto God is the sin of idolatry. 4et not therefore our *ic+ed transgressors G*hile
they do not o#enly sacrifice to the gods of the GentilesH flatter the"selves that they are not idolaters
*hilst they tread li+e s*ine the "ost #recious #earls of &hrist under their feet.
"'. But although this one e!a"#le as an invincible affir"ation "ight abundantly suffice to correct
the *ic+ed> yet that by the "ouths of "any *itnesses all the offences of Britain "ay be #roved let us
#ass to the rest. ;hat ha##ened to %avid for nu"bering his #eo#le *hen the #ro#het had s#a+e unto
hi" in this sortI Thus saith our 4ord( :The choice of three things is offered thee choose *hich thou
*ilt that - "ay e!ecute it u#on thee. 1hall there befall thee a fa"ine for seven years or shalt thou flee
three "onths before thine ene"ies and they #ursue thee or shall there be three days8 #estilence in thy
landI< For being brought into great straits by this condition and *illing rather to fall into the hands of
53
Gildas
God *ho is "erciful than into those of "en he *as hu"bled *ith the slaughter of seventy thousand of
his sub=ects and unless *ith the affection of an a#ostolic charity he had desired to die hi"self for his
country"en that the #lague "ight not further consu"e the" saying :- a" he that has offended - the
she#herd have dealt un=ustly( but these shee# *hat have they sinnedI 4et thy hand - beseech thee be
turned against "e and against the house of "y father>< he *ould have atoned for the unadvised #ride
of his heart *ith his o*n death. For *hat does the scri#ture after*ards declare of his sonI :And
1olo"on *rought that *hich *as not #leasing before our 4ord and he did not fill u# the "easure of his
good deeds by follo*ing the 4ord li+e his father %avid. And our 4ord said unto hi" Because thou hast
thus behaved thyself and not observed "y covenant and #rece#ts *hich - have co""anded thee
brea+ing it asunder> - *ill divide thy +ingdo" and give the sa"e unto thy servant.<
*). Hear no* li+e*ise *hat fell u#on the t*o sacrilegious +ings of -srael Geven such as ours areH
Jeroboa" and Baasha unto *ho" the sentence and doo" of our 4ord is by the #ro#het in this *ay
directed( :For *hat cause have - e!alted thee a #rince over -srael in regard that they have #rovo+ed "e
by their vanities. Behold - *ill stir u# after Baasha and after his house and - *ill give over his house as
the house of Jeroboa" the son of Febat. ;hoso of his blood shall die in the city the dogs shall eat hi"
and the dead carcass of hi" that dieth in the field shall the fo*ls of the air eat.< ;hat doth he also
threaten unto that *ic+ed +ing of -srael a *orthy co"#anion of the for"er by *hose collusion and his
*ife8s deceit innocent Faboth *as for his father8s vineyard #ut to death *hen the holy "outh of /lias
yea the selfsa"e "outh that *as instructed *ith the fiery s#eech of our 4ord thus s#a+e unto hi"(
:Hast thou +illed and also ta+en #ossession and after this *ilt thou yet add "oreI Thus saith our 4ord
in this very #lace *herein the dogs have lic+ed the blood of Faboth they shall lic+ u# thy blood also.<
;hich fell out after*ards in that very sort as *e have certain #roof. But lest #erchance Gas befell Ahab
alsoH the lying s#irit *hich #ronounceth vain things in the "ouths of your #ro#hets "ay seduce you
hear+en to the *ords of the #ro#het 9icaiah( :Behold God hath suffered the s#irit of lying to #ossess
the "ouths of all thy #ro#hets that do here re"ain and our 4ord hath #ronounced evil against thee.<
For even no* it is certain that there are so"e teachers ins#ired *ith a contrary s#irit #reaching and
affir"ing rather *hat is #leasing ho*ever de#raved than *hat is true( *hose *ords are softer than oil
and the sa"e are darts *ho say #eace #eace and there shall be no #eace to the" *ho #ersevere in
their sins as says the #ro#het in another #lace also :-t is not for the *ic+ed to re=oice saith our 4ord.<
5M
On the Ruin of Britain
*(. AAarias also the son of Obed s#o+e unto Asa *ho returned fro" the slaughter of the ar"y of
ten hundred thousand /thio#ians saying :Our 4ord is *ith you *hile you re"ain *ith hi" and if you
*ill see+ hi" out he *ill be found by you and if you *ill leave hi" he *ill leave you also.< For if
Jehosa#hat for only assisting a *ic+ed +ing *as thus re#roved by the #ro#het Jehu the son of Ananias
saying :-f thou givest aid to a sinner or lovest the" *ho" our 4ord doth hate the *rath of God doth
therefore hang over thee< *hat shall beco"e of the" *ho are fettered in the snares of their o*n
offencesI *hose sin *e "ust of necessity hate if not their souls if *e *ish to fight in the ar"y of the
4ord according to the *ords of the $sal"ist :Hate ye evil *ho love our 4ord.< ;hat *as said to
Jehora" the son of the above'na"ed Jehosa#hat that "ost horrible "urderer G*ho being hi"self a
bastard sle* his noble brethren that he "ight #ossess the throne in their #lace by the #ro#het /lias
*ho *as the chariot and charioteer of -sraelI :Thus s#ea+eth the 4ord God of thy father %avid.
Because thou hast not *al+ed in the *ay of thy father Jehosa#hat and in the *ays of Asa the +ing of
Judah but hast *al+ed in the *ays of the +ings of -srael and in adultery according to the behaviour of
the house of Ahab and hast "oreover +illed thy brethren the sons of Jehosa#hat "en far better than
thyself behold our 4ord shall stri+e thee and thy children *ith a "ighty #lague.< And a little
after*ards :And thou shalt be very sic+ of a disease of thy belly until thy entrails shall together *ith
the "alady itself fro" day to day co"e forth out of thee.< And listen also *hat the #ro#het Qachariah
the son of Jehoiades "enaced to Joash the +ing of -srael *hen he abandoned our 4ord even as ye no*
do and the #ro#het s#o+e in this "anner to the #eo#le( :Thus saith our 4ord ;hy do ye transgress the
co""and"ents of our 4ord and do not #ros#erI Because ye have left our 4ord he *ill also leave you.<
*2. ;hat shall - "ention of -saiah the first and chief of the #ro#hets *ho beginneth his #ro#hecy
or rather vision in this *ay( :Hear O ye heavens and O thou earth conceive in thine ears because our
4ord hath s#o+en - have nourished children and e!alted the" but they the"selves have des#ised "e.
The o! hath +no*n his o*ner and the ass his "aster8s crib but -srael hath not +no*n "e and "y
#eo#le hath not understood.< And a little further *ith threatenings ans*erable to so great a folly he
saith :The daughter of 1ion shall be utterly left as a tabernacle in the vineyard and as a hovel in the
cucu"ber garden and a city that is sac+ed.< And es#ecially convening and accusing the #rinces he
saith :Hear the *ord of our 4ord O ye #rinces of 1odo" #erceive ye the la* of our 4ord O ye
#eo#le of Go"orrah.< ;herein it is to be noted that un=ust +ings are ter"ed the #rinces of 1odo" for
our 4ord forbidding sacrifices and gifts to be offered to hi" by such #ersons and seeing that *e
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greedily receive those offerings *hich in all nations are dis#leasing unto God and to our o*n
destruction suffer the" not to be besto*ed on the #oor and needy s#ea+ thus to the" *ho laden *ith
riches are li+e*ise given to offend on this head( :Offer no "ore your sacrifice in vain your incense is
abo"ination unto "e.< And again he denounceth the" thus( :And *hen ye shall stretch out your hands
- *ill turn a*ay "ine eyes fro" you and *hen ye shall "ulti#ly your #rayers - *ill not hear.< And he
declareth *herefore he does this saying :2our hands are full of blood.< And li+e*ise sho*ing ho* he
"ay be a##eased he says :Be ye *ashed be ye clean ta+e a*ay the evil of your thoughts fro" "ine
eyes( cease to do evil learn to do *ell( see+ for =udg"ent succour the o##ressed do =ustice to the #u#il
or or#han.< And then assu"ing as it *ere the #art of a reconciling "ediator he adds :Though your
sins shall be as scarlet they shall be "ade *hite as sno*( though they shall be as red as the little
*or"
7M
they shall be as *hite as *ool. -f ye shall be *illing to hear "e ye shall feed on the good
things of the land> but if ye *ill not but #rovo+e "e unto *rath the s*ord shall devour you.<
*". Receive ye the true and #ublic avoucher *itnessing *ithout any falsehood or flattery the
re*ard of your good and evil not li+e the soothing hu"ble li#s of your #arasites *hich *his#er
#oisons into your ears. And also directing his sentence against ravenous =udges he saith thus( :Thy
#rinces are unfaithful co"#anions of thieves all love gifts hunt after re*ards( they do no =ustice to the
or#han the *ido*8s cause entereth not unto the". For thus saith our 4ord God of hosts the strong one
of -srael Alas - *ill ta+e consolation u#on "y foes and be revenged u#on "ine ene"ies> and the
heinous sinners shall be bro+en to #o*der and offenders together *ith the" and all *ho have left our
4ord shall be consu"ed.< And after*ards :The eyes of the lofty "an shall be brought lo* and the
height of "en hath bo*ed do*n.< And again :;oe be to the *ic+ed evil befall hi" for he shall be
re*arded according to his handy'*or+.< And a little after :;oe be unto you *ho arise early to follo*
drun+enness and to drin+ even to the very evening that ye "ay fu"e *ith *ine. The har# and the
lyre and the tabor and the #i#e and *ine are in your ban?uets and the *or+ of our 4ord ye res#ect
not neither yet consider ye the *or+s of his hands. Therefore is "y #eo#le led ca#tive a*ay because
they have not had +no*ledge and their nobles have #erished *ith fa"ine and their "ultitude hath
*ithered a*ay *ith thirst. Therefore hath hell enlarged and dilated his s#irit and *ithout "easure
o#ened his "outh and his strong ones and his #eo#le and his lofty and glorious ones shall descend
do*n unto hi".< And after*ards :;oe be unto you *ho are "ighty for the drin+ing of *ine and
7M @er"ilion the /nglish version see"s derived fro" vermes, a *or".
,7
On the Ruin of Britain
strong "en for the #rocuring of drun+enness *ho =ustify the *ic+ed for re*ards and de#rive the =ust
"an of his =ustice. For this cause even as the tongue of the fire devoureth the stubble and as the heat of
the fla"e burneth u# so shall their root be as the ashes and their branch shall rise u# as the dust. For
they have cast a*ay the la* of our 4ord of hosts and des#ised the s#eech of the holy one of -srael. -n
all these the fury of our 4ord is not turned a*ay but as yet his hand is stretched out.<
**. And further on s#ea+ing of the day of =udg"ent and the uns#ea+able fears of sinners he says
:Ho*l ye because the day of our 4ord is near at hand Gif so near at that ti"e *hat shall it no* be
thought to beIH for destruction shall #roceed fro" God. For this shall all hands be dissolved and every
"an8s heart shall *ither a*ay and be bruised> tortures and dolours shall hold the" as a *o"an in
labour so shall they be grieved every "an shall at his neighbour stand astonished burned faces shall be
their countenances. Behold the day of our 4ord shall co"e fierce and full of indignation and of *rath
and fury to turn the earth into a desert and brea+ her sinners in s"all #ieces fro" off her> because the
stars of heaven and the brightness of the" shall not unfold their light the sun in his rising shall be
covered over *ith dar+ness and the "oon shall not shine in her season> and - *ill visit u#on the evils
of the *orld and against the *ic+ed their o*n ini?uity and - *ill "a+e the #ride of the unfaithful to
cease and the arrogancy of the strong - *ill bring lo*.< And again :Behold our 4ord *ill dis#erse the
earth and he *ill stri# her na+ed and afflict her face and scatter her inhabitants> and as the #eo#le so
shall be the #riest> and as the slave so shall be his lord> as the hand"aid so shall be her lady> as the
#urchaser so shall be the seller> as the usurer so shall be he that borro*eth> as he *ho de"andeth so
shall he be that o*eth. ;ith dis#ersing shall the earth be scattered and *ith sac+ing shall she be
s#oiled. For our 4ord hath s#o+en this *ord. The earth hath be*ailed and hath flitted a*ay> the *orld
hath run to nothing she is *ea+ened by her inhabitants because they have transgressed la*s changed
right brought to ruin the eternal truce. For this shall "alediction devour the earth.<
*#. And after*ards :They shall la"ent all of the" *ho no* in heart re=oice the delight of the
ti"brels hath ceased the sound of the gladso"e shall be silent the s*eetness of the har# shall be
hushed they shall not *ith singing drin+ their *ine bitter shall be the #otion to the drin+ers thereof.
The city of vanity is *asted every house is shut u# no "an entering in> an outcry shall be in the streets
over the *ine all gladness is forsa+en the =oy of the land is transferred solitariness is left in the to*n
and cala"ity shall o##ress the gates because these things shall be in the "idst of the land and in the
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Gildas
"idst of the #eo#le.< And a little further :1*erving fro" the truth they have *andered out of the right
*ay *ith the straggling of transgressors have they gone astray. Fear and intra##ing falls and a snare
u#on thee *ho art the inhabitant of the earth. And it shall co"e to #ass( *hoso shall flee fro" the voice
of the fear shall tu"ble do*n into the intra##ing #it> and *hoso shall deliver hi"self out of the
do*nfall shall be caught in the entangling snare( because the food'gates fro" aloft shall be o#ened
and the foundations of the earth shall be sha+en. ;ith bruising shall the earth be bro+en *ith
co""otion shall she be "oved *ith tossing shall she be sha+en li+e a drun+en "an and she shall be
ta+en a*ay as if she *ere a #avilion of one night8s #itching and her ini?uities shall hang heavy u#on
her and she shall fall do*n and shall not atte"#t to rise again. And it shall be that our 4ord in the
sa"e day shall loo+ on the *arfare of heaven on high and on the +ings of the earth *ho are u#on the
earth and they shall be gathered together in the bundle of one burden into the la+e and shall there be
shut u# in #rison and after "any days shall they be visited. And the "oon shall blush and the sun be
confounded *hen our 4ord of hosts shall reign in 9ount 1ion and in Jerusale" and be glorified in the
sight of his seniors.<
*$. And after a *hile giving a reason *hy he threateneth in that sort he says thus( :Behold the
hand of our 4ord is not shortened that he cannot save neither is his ear "ade heavy that he "ay not
hear. But your ini?uities have divided bet*een you and your God and your offences have hid his face
fro" you that he "ight not hear. For your hands are defiled *ith blood and your fingers *ith ini?uity(
your li#s have s#o+en lying and your tongue uttereth ini?uity. There is none *ho calleth on =ustice
neither is there he *ho =udgeth truly but they trust in nothing and s#ea+ vanities and have conceived
grief and brought forth ini?uity.< And a little after :Their *or+s are un#rofitable and the *or+ of
ini?uity is in their hands> their feet run into evil and "a+e haste that they "ay shed the innocent blood>
their thoughts are un#rofitable thoughts s#oil and confusion are in their *ays and the *ay of #eace
they have not +no*n and in their ste#s there is no =udg"ent their #aths are "ade croo+ed unto the"
every one *ho treadeth in the" is ignorant of #eace> in this res#ect is =udg"ent re"oved far off fro"
you and =ustice ta+eth no hold on you.< And after a fe* *ords :And =udg"ent hath been turned bac+
and =ustice hath stood afar oft because truth hath fallen do*n in the streets and e?uity could not enter
in> and truth is turned into oblivion and *hoso hath de#arted fro" evil hath lain o#en to s#oil. And our
4ord hath seen and it *as not #leasing in his eyes because there is not =udg"ent.<
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On the Ruin of Britain
*%. And thus far "ay it suffice a"ong "any to have recited a fe* sentences out of the #ro#het
-saiah.
But no* *ith diligent ears hear+en unto hi" *ho *as fore+no*n before he *as for"ed in the
belly sanctified before he ca"e out of the *o"b and a##ointed a #ro#het in all nations( - "ean
Jere"iah and hear *hat he hath #ronounced of foolish #eo#le and cruel +ings beginning his #ro#hecy
in his "ild and gentle "anner.
LAnd the *ord of God *as s#o+en unto "e saying Go and cry in the ears of Jerusale" and thou
shalt #ronounce Hear the *ord of our 4ord thou house of Jacob and all ye +indred of the house of
-srael( Thus saith our 4ord> ;hat ini?uity have your fathers found in "e *ho have been far re"oved
fro" "e and *al+ed after vanity and are beco"e vain and have not said ;here is he *ho "ade us go
u# out of the land of /gy#tI< And after a fe* *ords :Fro" the beginning of thine age thou hast bro+en
"y yo+e violated "y bands and said - *ill not serve - have #lanted thee "y chosen vine all true
seed. Ho* art thou therefore converted into naughtinessI O strange vineD -f thou shalt *ash thee *ith
nitre and "ulti#ly unto thee the herb borith thou art s#otted in "y sight *ith thine ini?uity saith our
4ord.< And after*ards :;hy *ill ye contend *ith "e in =udg"entI 2e have all forsa+en "e saith our
4ord in vain have - corrected your children they have not received disci#line. Hear ye the *ord of our
4ord. A" - "ade a solitariness unto -srael or a late bearing landD *hy therefore hath "y #eo#le said
*e have de#arted *e *ill co"e no "ore unto theeI %oth the virgin forget her orna"ent or - the
s#ouse her gorgetI "y #eo#le truly hath forgotten "e for innu"erable days. Because "y #eo#le are
foolish they have not +no*n "e they are un*ise and "ad children. They are *ise to do evil but to do
*ell they have been ignorant.<
*&. Then the #ro#het s#ea+eth in his o*n #erson saying :O 4ord thine eyes do res#ect faith thou
hast stric+en the" and they have not sorro*ed thou hast bro+en the" and they have refused to receive
disci#line they have "ade their faces harder than the roc+ and *ill not return.< And also our 4ord(
:%eclare ye this sa"e to the house of Jacob and "a+e it to be heard in Judah saying Hear ye foolish
#eo#le *ho have no heart *ho having eyes see not and ears hear not. ;ill ye not therefore dread "e
saith our 4ord and *ill ye not conceive grief fro" "y countenance *ho have #laced the sand as the
bound of the sea an eternal co""and"ent *hich she shall not brea+ and her *aves shall be "oved
and they cannot and her surge shall s*ell and yet not #ass the sa"eI But to this #eo#le is fra"ed an
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incredulous and an e!as#erating heart they have retired and gone their *ays and not in their heart said
4et us fear our 4ord God.< And again :Because there are found a"ong "y #eo#le *ic+ed ones
fra"ing *iles to entangle as if they *ere fo*lers setting snares and gins to catch "en( as a net that is
full of birds so are their houses filled *ith deceits. Therefore are they "agnified and enriched they are
beco"e gross and fat and have neglected "y s#eeches "ost vilely the or#hans8 cause they have not
decided and the =ustice of the #oor they have not ad=udged. ;hatD shall - not visit these "en saith our
4ordI or shall not "y soul be revenged u#on such a nationIL
*'. But God forbid that ever should ha##en unto you that *hich follo*eth :Thou shalt s#ea+ all
these *ords unto the" and they shall not hear thee> and thou shalt call the" and they shall not ans*er
thee> and thou shalt say unto the" This is the nation that hath not heard the voice of their 4ord God
nor yet received disci#line faith hath #erished and been ta+en a*ay fro" out of their "outh.< And
after so"e fe* s#eeches :;hoso falleth doth he not arise again and *hoso is turned a*ay shall he
not return againI *hy therefore is this #eo#le in Jerusale" *ith a contentious aversion alienatedI they
have a##rehended lying and they *ill not co"e bac+ again. - have been attentive and hear+ened
diligently no "an s#ea+eth *hat is good. There is none *ho re#enteth of his sin saying ;hat have -
doneI All are turned unto their o*n course li+e a horse #assing *ith violence to battle. The +ite in the
s+y hath +no*n her ti"e the turtle and s*allo* and stor+ have +e#t the season of their co"ing but
"y #eo#le hath not +no*n the =udg"ent of God.< And the #ro#het being s"itten *ith fear at so
*onderful a blindness and uns#ea+able drun+enness of the sacrilegious and la"enting the" *ho did
not la"ent the"selves Geven according to the #resent behaviour of these our unfortunate tyrantsH
beseecheth of our 4ord that an aug"entation of tears "ight be granted hi" s#ea+ing in this "anner :-
a" contrite u#on the contrition of the daughter of "y #eo#le astonish"ent hath #ossessed "e( is there
no bal" in Gilead or is there no #hysician thereI ;hy therefore is not the *ound of the daughter of
"y #eo#le healedI ;ho shall give *ater unto "y head and to "ine eyes a fountain of tears and - *ill
day and night be*ail the slaughtered of "y #eo#leI *ho *ill grant "e in the *ilderness the inn of
#assengersI and - *ill utterly leave "y #eo#le and de#art fro" the"> because they are all of the"
adulterers a root of offenders and they have bent their tongue as the bo* of lying and not of truth
they are co"forted in the earth because they have #assed fro" evil to evil and not +no*n "e saith
our 4ord.< And again( :And our 4ord hath said Because they have forsa+en "y la* *hich - have
given the" and not heard "y voice nor *al+ed thereafter and have *andered a*ay after the
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On the Ruin of Britain
*ic+edness of their o*n heart in that res#ect our 4ord of hosts the God of -srael saith these *ords
Behold - *ill feed this #eo#le *ith *or"*ood and give the" to drin+ the *ater of gall.< And a little
after Gs#ea+ing in the #erson of GodH :1ee therefore thou do not #ray for this #eo#le nor assu"e thou
for the" #raise and #rayer because - *ill not hear in the ti"e of their outcry unto "e and of their
affliction.<
#). ;hat then shall no* our "iserable governors do these fe* *ho found out the narro* *ay and
left the large *ere by God forbidden to #our out their #rayers for such as #ersevered in their evils and
so highly #rovo+ed his *rath against *ho" on the contrary side *hen they returned *ith all their
hearts unto God Ghis divine 9a=esty being un*illing that the soul of "an should #erish but calling
bac+ the casta*ay that he should not utterly be destroyedH the sa"e #ro#hets could not #rocure the
heavenly revenge because Jonas *hen he desired the li+e "ost earnestly against the Finevites could
not obtain it. But in the "ean*hile o"itting our o*n *ords let us rather hear *hat the #ro#hetic
tru"#et soundeth in our ears s#ea+ing thus( :-f thou shalt say in thy heart ;hy have these evils
befallenI For the "ultitude of thine ini?uities. -f the /thio#ian can change his s+in or the leo#ard his
sundry s#ots ye "ay also do *ell *hen ye have learned evil< ever su##osing that ye *ill not. And
after*ards( :These *ords doth our 4ord say to this #eo#le *ho have loved to "ove their feet and have
not rested and not #leased our 4ord Fo* shall he re"e"ber their ini?uities and visit their offences>
and our 4ord said unto "e $ray thou not for this #eo#le to *or+ their good *hen they fast - *ill not
hear their #rayers> and if they offer burnt sacrifices and oblations - *ill not receive the".< And again
:And our 4ord said unto "e -f 9oses and 1a"uel shall stand before "e "y soul is not bent to this
#eo#le cast the" out a*ay fro" "y face and let the" de#art.< And after a fe* *ords( :;ho shall
have #ity on thee Jerusale" or *ho shall be sorro*ful for thee or *ho shall #ray for thy #eaceI Thou
hast left "e Gsaith our 4ordH and gone a*ay bac+*ard and - *ill stretch forth "y hand over thee and
+ill thee.< And so"e*hat after( :Thus saith our 4ord Behold - i"agine a thought against you let every
"an return fro" his evil course and "a+e straight your *ays and endeavours *ho said *e des#air
*e *ill go after our o*n thoughts and every one of us *ill do the naughtiness of his evil heart. Thus
therefore saith our 4ord As+ the Gentiles *ho hath heard such horrible "atters *hich the virgin -srael
hath too often co""ittedI 1hall there fail fro" the roc+ of the field the sno* of 4ibanusI or can the
*aters be dra*n dry that gush out cold and flo*ingI because "y #eo#le hath forgotten "e.< And
so"e*hat also after this #ro#ounding unto the" an election he s#ea+ing saith :Thus saith our 4ord
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Gildas
%o ye =udg"ent and =ustice and deliver hi" *ho by #o*er is o##ressed out of the hand of the
"alicious accuser> and for the stranger and or#han and *ido* do not #rovo+e their sorro* neither
yet *or+ ye un=ustly the grief of others nor shed ye forth the innocent blood. For if indeed ye shall
acco"#lish this *ord there shall enter in through the gates of this house +ings of the lineage of %avid
sitting u#on his throne. But if ye *ill not hear+en unto these *ords by "yself - have s*orn Gsaith our
4ordH that this house shall be turned into a desert.< And again Gfor he s#o+e of a *ic+ed +ingH :As -
live Gsaith our 4ordH if so be that Jechonias shall be a ring on "y right hand - *ill #luc+ hi" a*ay and
give hi" over into the hands of the" *ho see+ his life.<
#(. 9oreover holy Abraha" crieth out saying :;oe be unto the" *ho build a city in blood and
#re#are a to*n in ini?uities saying Are not these things fro" our al"ighty 4ordI and "any #eo#le
have failed in fire and "any nations have been di"inished.< And thus co"#laining he begins his
#ro#hecy( :Ho* long O 4ord shall - call and thou *ilt not hearI 1hall - cry out unto thee to *hat end
hast thou given "e labours and griefs to behold "isery and i"#ietyI< And on the other side :And
=udg"ent *as sat u#on and the =udge hath ta+en in regard hereof the la* is rent in #ieces and
=udg"ent is not brought fully to his conclusion because the *ic+ed through #o*er treadeth the =ust
under foot. -n this res#ect hath #assed forth #erverse =udg"ent.<
#2. And "ar+ ye also *hat blessed Hosea the #ro#het says of #rinces( :For that they have
transgressed "y covenant and ordained against "y la* and e!clai"ed *e have +no*n thee because
thou art against -srael. They have #ersecuted good as if it *ere evil. They have reigned for the"selves
and not by "e> they have held a #rinci#ality neither yet have they ac+no*ledged "e.<
#". And hear ye li+e*ise the holy #ro#het A"os in this sort threatening( :-n three heinous
offences of the sons of Judah and in four - *ill not convert the" for that they have cast a*ay the la*
of our 4ord and not +e#t his co""and"ents but their vanities have seduced the". And - *ill send fire
u#on Judah and it shall eat the foundations of Jerusale". Thus saith our 4ord> -n three grievous sins of
-srael and in four - *ill not convert the" for that they have sold the =ust for "oney and the #oor "an
for shoes *hich they tread u#on the dust of the earth and *ith buffets they did beat the heads of the
#oor and have esche*ed the *ay of the hu"ble.< And after a fe* *ords :1ee+ our 4ord and ye shall
live that the house of Jose#h "ay not shine as fire and the fla"e devour it and he shall not be that
can e!tinguish it. The house of -srael hath hated hi" *ho rebu+eth in the gates and abhorred the
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On the Ruin of Britain
u#right *ord.< ;hich A"os being forbidden to #ro#hesy in -srael *ithout any fa*ning flattery saith
in ans*er :- *as not a #ro#het nor yet the son of a #ro#het but a goatherd> - *as #luc+ing syca"ores
and our 4ord too+ "e fro" "y herd and our 4ord said unto "e Go thy *ay and #ro#hesy against "y
#eo#le of -srael( and no* hear thou the *ord of our 4ord Gfor he directed his s#eech unto the +ingH
thou sayest do not #ro#hesy against -srael and thou shalt not asse"ble troo#s against the house of
Jacob. For *hich cause our 4ord saith thus thy *ife in the city shall #lay the harlot and thy sons and
daughters shall die by the s*ord and thy ground be "easured by the cord and thou in a #olluted land
shalt end thy life but for -srael she shall be led fro" his o*n country a ca#tive.< And after*ards
:Hear therefore these *ords ye *ho do outrageously afflict the #oor and #ractise your "ighty #o*er
against the needy of the earth *ho say *hen shall the "onth #ass over that *e "ay #urchase and the
sabbaths that *e "ay o#en the treasuries.< And *ithin a fe* *ords after :Our 4ord doth s*ear against
the #ride of Jacob if he shall in conte"#t forget your actions and if in these the earth shall not be
disturbed and end every inhabitant thereof fall to la"entation and the final end as a flood ascend and
- *ill turn your festival days into *ailing and cast haircloth on the loins of every one and on the head
of every "an baldness and "a+e hi" as the "ourning of one over beloved and those *ho are *ith
hi" as the day of his sorro*.< And again :-n the s*ord shall die all the sinners of "y #eo#le *ho say
evils shall not a##roach nor yet shall light u#on us.<
#*. And listen ye li+e*ise *hat holy 9ichah the #ro#het hath s#o+en saying :Hear+en ye
tribes. And *hat shall adorn the cityI 1hall not fireI and the house of the *ic+ed hoarding u# un=ust
treasures and *ith in=ury unrighteousnessI -f the *rongful dealer shall be =ustified in the balance and
deceitful *eights in the scales by *hich they have hea#ed u# their riches in ungodliness.<
##. And hear also *hat threats the fa"ous #ro#het Qe#haniah thundereth out( saith he :The great
day of our 4ord is near> it is at hand and very s*iftly a##roacheth. The voice of the day of our 4ord is
a##ointed to be bitter and "ighty that day a day of *rath a day of tribulation and necessity a day of
clouds and "ist a day of the tru"#et and outcry a day of "isery and e!ter"ination a day of dar+ness
and dirtiness u#on the strong cities and high corners. And - *ill bring "en to tribulation and they shall
go as if they *ere blind because they have offended our 4ord and - *ill #our out their blood as dust
and their flesh as the dung of o!en and their silver and gold shall not be able to deliver the" in the day
of the *rath of our 4ord. And in the fire of his Aeal shall the *hole earth be consu"ed *hen the 4ord
,3
Gildas
shall acco"#lish his absolute end and bring solitariness u#on all the inhabitants of the earth. &o"e
together and be =oined in one thou nation *ithout disci#line before ye be "ade as the fading flo*er
before the *rath of our 4ord falleth u#on ye.<
#$. And give ear also unto that *hich the #ro#het Haggai s#ea+eth( :Thus saith our 4ord - *ill
once "ove the heaven and earth and sea and dry land and - *ill drive a*ay the thrones of +ings and
root out the #o*er of the +ings of the Gentiles and - *ill chase a*ay the chariots of those *ho "ount
u#on the".<
#%. Fo* also behold *hat Qacharias the son of Addo that chosen #ro#het said beginning his
#ro#hecy in this "anner( :Return to "e and - *ill return unto you saith our 4ord and be not li+e your
fathers to *ho" the for"er #ro#hets have i"#uted saying Thus saith our al"ighty 4ord Turn a*ay
fro" your *ays and they have not "ar+ed *hereby they "ight obediently hear "e.< And after*ards
:And the angel as+ed "e *hat dost thou seeI And - said - see a flying scythe *hich containeth in
length t*enty cubits. The "alediction *hich hath #roceeded u#on the face of the *hole earth> because
every one of her thieves shall be #unished even to the death and - *ill thro* hi" a*ay saith our
al"ighty 4ord and he shall enter into the house of fury and into the house of s*earing falsehood in "y
na"e.<
#&. Holy 9alachy the #ro#het also saith :Behold the day of our 4ord shall co"e infla"ed as a
furnace and all #roud "en and all *or+ers of ini?uity shall be as stubble and the a##roaching day of
the 4ord of hosts shall set the" on fire *hich shall not leave a root nor a bud of the".<
#'. And hear+en ye also *hat holy Job debateth of the beginning and end of the ungodly saying
:For *hat #ur#ose do the *ic+ed live and have gro*n old dishonestly and their issue hath been
according to their o*n desire and their sons before their faces and their houses are fruitful and no fear
nor yet the scourge of our 4ord is u#on the". Their co* hath not been abortive their great *ith young
hath brought forth her young ones and not "issed but re"aineth as an eternal breed> and their children
re=oice and ta+ing the #saltery and har# have finished their days in felicity and fallen #eaceably aslee#
do*n into hell.< %oth God therefore not behold the *or+s of the *ic+edI Fot so truly :But the
candle of the ungodly shall be e!tinguished and destruction shall fall u#on the" and #ains as of one in
childbirth shall *ithhold the" fro" *rath> and they shall be as chaff before the *ind and as the dust
*hich the *hirl*ind hath carried a*ay. 4et all goodness fail his children> let his eyes behold his o*n
,M
On the Ruin of Britain
slaughter nor yet by our 4ord let hi" be redee"ed.< And a little after he saith of the sa"e "en :;ho
have ravenously ta+en the floc+ *ith the she#herd and driven a*ay the beast of the or#hans and
engaged the o! of the *ido* and deceiving have declined fro" the *ay of necessity. They have
rea#ed other "en8s fields before the ti"e> the #oor have laboured in the vineyards of the "ighty
*ithout hire and "eat they have "ade "any to slee# na+ed *ithout gar"ents> of the covering of their
life they have bereaved the".< And so"e*hat after*ards *hen he had thoroughly understood their
*or+s he delivered the" over to dar+ness. :4et therefore his #ortion be accursed fro" the earth> let
his #lantings bring forth *itherings> let hi" for this be re*arded according to his dealings> let every
*ic+ed "an li+e the unsound *ood be bro+en in #ieces. For arising in his *rath hath he overthro*n the
i"#otent. ;herefore truly shall he have no trust of his life> *hen he shall begin to gro* diseased let
hi" not ho#e for health but fall into languishing. For his #ride hath been the hurt of "any and he is
beco"e decayed and rotten as the "allo*s in the scorching heat or as the ear of corn *hen it falleth
off fro" its stubble.< And after*ards :-f his children shall be "any they shall be turned to the
slaughter and if he gather together silver as if it *ere earth and li+e*ise #urify his gold as if it *ere
dirt all these sa"e shall the =ust obtain.<
$). Hear ye "oreover *hat blessed /sdras that cyclo#aedia of the divine la* threateneth in his
discourse. :Thus saith our 4ord God( 9y right hand shall not be s#aring u#on sinners neither shall the
s*ord cease over the" *ho s#ill the innocent blood on the earth. Fire shall #roceed fro" out of "y
*rath and devour the foundations of the earth and sinners as if they *ere infla"ed stra*. ;oe be unto
the" *ho offend and observe not "y co""and"ents saith our 4ord - *ill not forbear the". %e#art
fro" "e ye a#ostatiAing children and do not #ollute "y sanctuary. God doth +no* *ho offend against
hi" and he *ill therefore deliver the" over to death and to slaughter. For no* have "any evils #assed
over the round co"#ass of the earth. A s*ord of fire is sent out against you and *ho is he that shall
restrain itI shall any "an re#ulse a lion that hungereth in the *oodI or shall any one ?uench out the fire
*hen the stra* is burningI our 4ord God *ill send out evils and *ho is he that shall re#ress the"I and
fire *ill #ass forth fro" out of his *rath and *ho shall e!tinguish itI it shall brandishing shine and
*ho *ill not fear itI it shall thunder and *ho *ill not sha+e *ith dreadI God *ill threaten all and *ho
*ill not be terrifiedI before his face the earth doth tre"ble and the foundations of the sea sha+e fro"
the de#ths.<
.6
Gildas
$(. And "ar+ ye also *hat /Aechiel the reno*ned #ro#het and ad"irable beholder of the four
evangelical creatures s#ea+eth of *ic+ed offenders unto *ho" #itifully la"enting beforehand the
scourge that hung over -srael our 4ord doth say :Too far hath the ini?uity of the house of -srael and
Judah #revailed because the earth is filled *ith ini?uity and uncleanness. Behold - a" "ine eyes shall
not s#are nor *ill - ta+e #ity.< And after*ards :Because the earth is re#lenished *ith #eo#le and the
city fraughted *ith ini?uity - *ill also turn a*ay the force of their #o*er and their holy things shall be
#olluted #rayer shall a##roach and sue for #eace and it shall not be obtained.< And so"e*hat after
:The *ord of our 4ord ?uoth he *as s#o+en unto "e saying Thou son of "an the land that shall so
far sin against "e as to co""it an offence - *ill stretch forth "y hand u#on her and brea+ in #ieces
her foundation of bread and send u#on her fa"ine and ta+e a*ay "an+ind and cattle fro" her> and if
these three "en Foah %aniel and Job be in the "idst of her they shall not deliver her but they in
their =ustice shall be saved saith our 4ord. -f so be that also - shall bring in evil beasts u#on the land
and #unish her she li+e*ise shall be turned to destruction and there shall not be one *ho shall have
free #assage fro" the face of the beasts and although these three "en are in the "idst of her as - live
saith our 4ord their sons and daughters shall not be #reserved but they alone shall be saved and as for
the land it shall fall to confusion.< And again :The son shall not receive the unrighteousness of the
father neither the father the son8s unrighteousness. The =ustice of the =ust shall be u#on hi"self. And
the un=ust "an if he turneth hi" a*ay fro" all the ini?uities *hich he hath done and +ee#eth all "y
co""and"ents and doth =ustice and abundance of "ercy he shall live in life and shall not die. All his
sins *hatsoever he hath co""itted shall have no further being> he shall live the life in his o*n =ustice
*hich he hath #erfor"ed. %o - *ith "y *ill voluntarily *ish the death of the unrighteous saith our
4ord rather than that he should return fro" his evil *ay and liveI But *hen the =ust shall turn hi"self
a*ay fro" his =ustice and do ini?uity according to all the ini?uities *hich the unrighteous hath
co""itted all the =ust actions G*hich he hath doneH shall re"ain no further in "e"ory. -n his offence
*herein he hath fallen and in his sins in *hich he hath transgressed he shal7 die.< And *ithin so"e
*ords after*ards( : And all nations shall understand that the house of -srael are led ca#tive a*ay for
their offences because they have forsa+en "e. And - have turned "y face fro" the" and yielded the"
over into the hands of their ene"ies and all have #erished by the s*ord> according unto their unclean
sins and after their ini?uities have - dealt *ith the" and turned "y face a*ay fro" the".<
$2. This *hich - have s#o+en "ay suffice concerning the threats of the holy #ro#hets( only - have
.7
On the Ruin of Britain
thought it necessary to inter"ingle in this little *or+ of "ine not only these "enaces but also a fe*
*ords borro*ed out of the *isdo" of 1olo"on to declare unto +ings "atters of e!hortation or
instruction that they "ay not say - a" *illing to load the shoulders of "en *ith heavy and
insu##ortable burdens of *ords but not so "uch as once *ith "ine o*n finger Gthat is *ith s#eech of
consolationH to "ove the sa"e. 4et us therefore hear *hat the #ro#het hath s#o+en to rule us. :4ove
=ustice< saith he :ye that =udge the earth.< This testi"ony alone Gif it *ere *ith a full and #erfect heart
observedH *ould abundantly suffice to refor" the governors of our country. For if they had loved
=ustice they *ould also love God *ho is in a sort the fountain and original of all =ustice. :1erve our
4ord in goodness and see+ hi" in si"#licity of heart.< AlasD *ho shall live Gas a certain one before us
hath saidH *hen such things are done by our country"en if #erchance they "ay be any *here
acco"#lishedI :Because he is found of those *ho do not te"#t hi" he a##eareth truly to the" *ho
have faith in hi".< For these "en *ithout res#ect do te"#t God *hose co""and"ents *ith stubborn
des#ite they conte"n neither yet do they +ee# to hi" their faith unto *hose oracles be they #leasing
or so"e*hat severe they turn their bac+s and not their faces. :For #erverse thoughts do se#arate fro"
God< and this in the tyrants of our ti"e very #lainly a##eareth. But *hy doth our "eanness
inter"eddle in this so "anifest a deter"inationI 4et therefore hi" *ho alone is true Gas *e have saidH
s#ea+ for us - "ean the Holy Ghost of *ho" it is no* #ronounced :The Holy Ghost verily *ill avoid
the counterfeiting of disci#line.< And again :Because the 1#irit of God hath filled the globe of the
earth.< And after*ards Gsho*ing *ith an evident =udg"ent the end of the evil and righteousH he saith
:Ho* is the ho#e of the *ic+ed as the do*n that is blo*n a*ay *ith the *ind and as the s"o+e that
*ith the blast is dis#ersed and as the slender froth that *ith a stor" is scattered and as the "e"ory of
a guest *ho is a #assenger of one day. But the =ust shall live forever and *ith God re"aineth their
re*ard and their cogitation is *ith the Highest. Therefore shall they receive the +ingdo" of glory and
the cro*n of beauty fro" the hand of our 4ord. Because *ith his right hand he *ill #rotect the" and
*ith his holy ar" defend the".< For very far unli+e in ?uality are the =ust and ungodly as our 4ord
verily hath s#o+en saying :The" *ho honour "e - *ill honour and *hoso des#ise "e shall be of no
esti"ation.<
$". But let us #ass over to the rest( :Hear+en Gsaith heH all ye +ings and understand ye> learn ye
=udges of the bounds of the earth listen *ith your ears *ho +ee# "ultitudes in a*e and #lease
yourselves in the troo#s of nations. Because #o*er is given unto you fro" God and #uissance fro" the
.5
Gildas
highest *ho *ill e!a"ine your actions and sift your thoughts. For that *hen ye *ere "inisters of his
+ingdo" ye have not =udged u#rightly nor +e#t the la* of =ustice nor yet *al+ed according to his *ill.
-t shall dreadfully and suddenly a##ear unto you that a "ost severe =udg"ent shall be given on the"
*ho govern. For to the "eaner is "ercy granted but the "ighty shall "ightily sustain tor"ents. For he
shall have no res#ect of #ersons *ho is the ruler of all nor yet shall he reverence the greatness of any
one because he hi"self hath "ade both s"all and great and care ali+e he hath of all> but for the
stronger is at hand a stronger affliction. Nnto you therefore O +ings are these "y s#eeches that you
"ay learn *isdo" and not fall a*ay fro" her. For *hoso observeth *hat things are =ust shall be
=ustified and *hoso learneth *hat things are holy shall be sanctified.<
$*. Hitherto have *e discoursed no less by the oracles of the #ro#hets than by her o*n s#eeches
*ith the +ings of our country being *illing they should +no* *hat the #ro#het hath s#o+en saying
:As fro" the face of a ser#ent so fly thou fro" sins( if thou shalt a##roach unto the" they *ill catch
thee their teeth are the teeth of a lion such as +ill the souls of "en.< And again :Ho* "ighty is the
"ercy of our 4ord and his forgiveness to such as turn unto hi".< And if *e have not in us such
a#ostolical Aeal that *e "ay say :- did verily desire to be anathe"atiAed by &hrist for "y brethren<
not*ithstanding that *e "ay fro" the botto" of our hearts s#ea+ that #ro#hetic saying :AlasD that the
soul #erisheth.< And again :4et us search out our *ays and see+ and return unto our 4ord( let us lift
our hearts together *ith our hands to God in heaven.< And also that of the a#ostle :;e covet that every
one of you should be in the bo*els of &hrist.<
$#. And ho* *illingly as one tossed on the *aves of the sea and no* arrived in a desired haven
*ould - in this #lace "a+e an end Gsha"e forbidding "e further to #roceedH did - not behold such great
"asses of evil deeds done against God by bisho#s or other #riests or cler+s yea so"e of our o*n
order *ho" as *itnesses "yself "ust of necessity first of all stone Gaccording unto the la*H *ith the
hard blo*s of *ords lest - should be other*ise re#roved for #artiality to*ards #ersons and then
after*ards the #eo#le Gif as yet they +ee# their decreesH "ust #ursue *ith their *hole #o*ers the sa"e
e!ecution u#on the" not to their cor#oral death but to the death of their vices and their eternal life
*ith God. 2et as - before said - crave #ardon of the" *hose lives - not only #raise but also #refer
before all earthly treasure and of the *hich if it "ay be yet before "y death - desire and thirst to be a
#arta+er( and so having both "y sides defended *ith the double shields of saints and by those "eans
.,
On the Ruin of Britain
invincibly strengthened to sustain all that arise against "e ar"ing "oreover "y head in #lace of a
hel"et *ith the hel# of our 4ord and being "ost assuredly #rotected *ith the sundry aids of the
#ro#hets - *ill boldly #roceed not*ithstanding the stones of *orldly rioters fly never so fast about "e.
$$. Britain hath #riests but they are un*ise> very "any that "inister but "any of the" i"#udent>
cler+s she hath but certain of the" are deceitful raveners> #astors Gas they are calledH but rather *olves
#re#ared for the slaughter of souls Gfor they #rovide not for the good of the co""on #eo#le but covet
rather the gluttony of their o*n belliesH #ossessing the houses of the church but obtaining the" for
filthy lucre8s sa+e> instructing the laity but sho*ing *ithal "ost de#raved e!a"#les vices and evil
"anners> seldo" sacrificing and seldo" *ith clean hearts standing at the altars not correcting the
co""onality for their offences *hile they co""it the sa"e sins the"selves> des#ising the
co""and"ents of &hrist and being careful *ith their *hole hearts to fulfil their o*n lustful desires
so"e of the" usur#ing *ith unclean feet the seat of the a#ostle $eter> but for the de"erit of their
covetousness falling do*n into the #estilent chair of the traitor Judas> detracting often and seldo"
s#ea+ing truly> hating verity as an o#en ene"y and favouring falsehoods as their "ost beloved
brethren> loo+ing on the =ust the #oor and the i"#otent *ith stern countenances as if they *ere
detested ser#ents and reverencing the sinful rich "en *ithout any res#ect of sha"e as if they *ere
heavenly angels #reaching *ith their out*ard li#s that al"s are to be disbursed u#on the needy but of
the"selves not besto*ing one half#enny> concealing the horrible sins of the #eo#le and a"#lifying
in=uries offered unto the"selves as if they *ere done against our 1aviour &hrist> e!#elling out of their
houses their religious "other #erha#s or sisters and fa"iliarly and indecently entertaining strange
*o"en as if it *ere for so"e "ore secret office or rather to s#ea+ truly though fondly Gand yet not
fondly to "e but to such as co""it these "attersH debasing the"selves unto such bad creatures> and
after all these see+ing rather a"bitiously for ecclesiastical dignities than for the +ingdo" of heaven>
and defending after a tyrannical fashion their achieved #refer"ents nor even labouring *ith la*ful
"anners to adorn the sa"e> negligent and dull to listen to the #rece#ts of the holy saints Gif ever they
did so "uch as once hear that *hich full often they ought to hearH but diligent and attentive to the
#lays and foolish fables of secular "en as if they *ere the very *ays to life *hich indeed are but the
#assages to death> being hoarse after the fashion of bulls *ith the abundance of fatness and "iserably
#ro"#t to all unla*ful actions> bearing their countenances arrogantly aloft and having nevertheless
their in*ard senses *ith tor"enting and gna*ing consciences> de#ressed do*n to the botto" or rather
..
Gildas
to the botto"less #it> glad at the gaining of one #enny and at the loss of the li+e value sad> slothful and
du"b in the a#ostolical decrees Gbe it for ignorance or rather the burden of their offencesH and sto##ing
also the "ouths of the learned but singularly e!#erienced in the deceitful shifts of *orldly affairs> and
"any of this sort and *ic+ed conversation violently intruding the"selves into the #refer"ents of the
church> yea rather buying the sa"e at a thigh rate than being any *ay dra*n thereunto and "oreover
as un*orthy *retches *allo*ing after the fashion of s*ine in their old and unha##y #uddle of
intolerable *ic+edness after they have attained unto the seat of the #riesthood or e#isco#al dignity
G*ho neither have been installed or resident on the sa"eH for usur#ing only the na"e of #riesthood
they have not received the orders or a#ostolical #ree"inence> but ho* can they *ho are not as yet fully
instructed in faith nor have done #enance for their sins be any *ay su##osed "eet and convenient to
ascend unto any ecclesiastical degree Gthat - "ay not s#ea+ of the highestH *hich none but holy and
#erfect "en and follo*ers of the a#ostles and to use the *ords of the teacher of the Gentiles #ersons
free fro" re#rehension can la*fully and *ithout the foul offence of sacrilege underta+e.
$%. For *hat is so *ic+ed and so sinful as after the e!a"#le of 1i"on 9agus Geven if *ith other
faults he had not been defiled beforeH for any "an *ith earthly #rice to #urchase the office of a bisho#
or #riest *hich *ith holiness and righteous life alone ought la*fully to be obtained> but herein they do
"ore *ilfully and des#erately err in that they buy their deceitful and un#rofitable ecclesiastical
degrees not of the a#ostles or their successors but of tyrannical #rinces and their father the devil> yea
rather they raise this as a certain roof and covering of all offences over the fra"e of their for"er
serious life that being #rotected under the shado* thereof no "an should lightly hereafter lay to their
charge their old or ne* *ic+edness> and hereu#on they build their desires of covetousness and gluttony
for that being no* the rulers of "any they "ay "ore freely "a+e havoc at their #leasure. For if truly
any such offer of #urchasing ecclesiastical #ro"otions *ere "ade by these i"#udent sinners G- *ill not
say *ith 1t. $eterH but to any holy #riest or godly +ing they *ould no doubt receive the sa"e ans*er
*hich their father 1i"on 9agus had fro" the "outh of the a#ostle $eter saying( :Thy "oney be *ith
thee unto thy #erdition.< But alasD #erha#s they *ho order and advance these a"bitious as#irers yea
they *ho rather thro* the" under foot and for a blessing give the" a cursing *hilst of sinners they
"a+e the" not #enitents G*hich *ere "ore consonant to reasonH but sacrilegious and des#erate
offenders and in a sort install Judas that traitor to his 9aster in the chair of $eter and Ficholas the
author of that foul heresy in the seat of 1t. 1te#hen the "artyr it "ay be at first obtained their o*n
.0
On the Ruin of Britain
#riesthood by the sa"e "eans and therefore do not greatly disli+e in their children but rather res#ect
the course that they their fathers did before follo*. And also if finding resistance in obtaining their
dioceses at ho"e and so"e *ho severely renounce this chaffering of church'livings they cannot there
attain to such a #recious #earl then it doth not so "uch loath as delight the" Gafter they have carefully
sent their "essengers beforehandH to cross the seas and travel over "ost large countries that so in the
end yea even *ith the sale of their *hole substance they "ay *in and co"#ass such a #o"# and such
an inco"#arable glory or to s#ea+ "ore truly such a dirty and base deceit and illusion. And after*ards
*ith great sho* and "agnificent ostentation or rather "adness returning bac+ to their o*n native soil
they gro* fro" stoutness to stateliness and fro" being used to level their loo+s to the to#s of the
"ountains they no* lift u# their dro*sy eyes into the air even to the highest clouds and as Fovatus
that foul hog and #ersecutor of our 4ord8s #recious =e*el did once at Ro"e so do these intrude
the"selves again into their o*n country as creatures of a ne* "ould or rather as instru"ents of the
devil being even ready in this state and fashion to stretch out violently their hands Gnot so *orthy of
the holy altars as of the avenging fla"es of hellH u#on &hrist8s "ost holy sacrifices.
$&. ;hat do you therefore O unha##y #eo#leD e!#ect fro" such belly beastsI Gas the a#ostle
calleth the"H. 1hall your "anners be a"ended by these *ho not only do not a##ly their "inds to any
goodness but according to the u#braiding of the #ro#het labour also to deal *ic+edlyI 1hall ye be
illu"inated *ith such eyes as are only *ith greediness cast on those things that lead headlong to vices
Gthat is to sayH to the gates of hellI Fay truly if according to the saying of our 1aviour ye flee not
these "ost ravenous *olves li+e those of Arabia or avoid the" as 4ot *ho ran "ost s#eedily fro" the
fiery sho*er of 1odo" u# to the "ountains then being blind and led by the blind ye *ill both
together tu"ble do*n into the infernal ditch.
$'. But so"e "an #erchance *ill ob=ecting say that all bisho#s or all #riests Gaccording to our
for"er e!ce#tionH are not so *ic+edly given because they are not defiled *ith the infa"y of schis"
#ride or unclean life *hich neither *e ourselves *ill deny but albeit *e +no* the" to be chaste and
virtuous yet *ill *e briefly ans*er.
;hat did it #rofit the high'#riest Hely that he alone did not violate the co""and"ents of our
4ord in ta+ing flesh *ith for+s out of the #ots before the fat *as offered unto God *hile he *as
#unished *ith the sa"e revenge of death *here*ith his sons *ereI ;hat one - beseech you of the"
.B
Gildas
*hose "anners *e have before sufficiently declared hath been "artyred li+e Abel fro" "alicious
=ealousy of his "ore acce#table sacrifice *hich *ith the heavenly fire ascended u# into the s+ies since
they fear the re#roach even of an ordinary *ordI ;hich of the" :hath hated the counsel of the
"alicious and not sat *ith the ungodly< so that of hi" as a #ro#het the sa"e "ight be verified *hich
*as said of /noch :/noch *al+ed *ith God and *as not to be found< in the vanity GforsoothH of the
*hole *orld as then leaving our 4ord and beginning to halt after idolatryI ;hich of the" li+e Foah
in the ti"e of the deluge hath not ad"itted into the ar+ of salvation G*hich is the #resent churchH any
adversary unto God that it "ay be "ost a##arent that none but innocents or singular #enitents ought to
re"ain in the house of our 4ordI ;ho is he that offering sacrifice li+e 9elchisedec+ hath only blessed
the con?uerors and the" *ho *ith the nu"ber of three hundred G*hich *as in the sacra"ent of the
TrinityH delivering the =ust "an have overthro*n the deadly ar"ies of the five +ings together *ith
their van?uishing troo#s and not coveted the goods of othersI ;hich of the" hath li+e Abraha" at the
co""and"ent of God freely offered his o*n son on the altar to be slain that he "ight acco"#lish a
#rece#t of &hrist agreeable to this saying Thy right eye if it cause thee to offend ought to be #ulled
out> and another of the #ro#het That he is accursed *ho *ithholdeth his s*ord fro" shedding bloodI
;ho is he that li+e Jose#h hath rooted out of his heart the re"e"brance of an offered in=uryI ;ho is
he that li+e 9oses s#ea+ing *ith our 4ord in the "ountain and not there terrified *ith the sounding
tru"#ets hath in a figurative sense #resented unto the incredulous #eo#le the t*o tables and his
horned face *hich they could not endure to see but tre"bled to behold I ;hich of the" #raying for
the offences of the #eo#le has fro" the very botto" of his heart cried out li+e unto hi" saying( :O
4ord this #eo#le hath co""itted a grievous sin *hich if thou *ilt forgive the" forgive it> other*ise
blot "e guilty out of thy boo+IL
%). ;hich of the" infla"ed *ith the ad"irable Aeal of God hath courageously risen to #unish
fornication curing *ithout delay by the #resent "edicine of #enance the affection of filthy lust lest
the fire of the *rath of God should other*ise consu"e the #eo#le as $hineas the #riest did that by
these "eans =ustice for ever "ight be re#uted unto hi"I ;hich of the" hath in "oral understanding
i"itated Joshua the son of Fun either for the utter rooting forth even to the slaughter of the last and
least of all the seven nations out of the land of #ro"ise or for the establishing of s#iritual -srael in
their #lacesI ;hich of the" hath sho*ed unto the #eo#le of God their final bounds beyond Jordan that
it "ight be +no*n *hat *as suited to every tribe in such sort as the aforena"ed $hineas and Jesus
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On the Ruin of Britain
have *isely divided the landI ;ho is he that to overthro* the innu"erable thousands of Gentiles
adversaries to the chosen #eo#le of God hath as another Je#htha for a votive and #ro#itiatory
sacrifice slain his o*n daughter Gby *hich is to be understood his o*n #ro#er *illH i"itating also
therein the a#ostle saying :Fot see+ing *hat is #rofitable to "e but to "any that they "ay be saved><
*hich daughter of his "et the con?uerors *ith dru"s and dances by *hich are to be understood the
lustful desires of the fleshI ;hich of the" that he "ight disorder #ut to flight and overthro* the
ca"#s of the #roud Gentiles by the nu"ber of three hundred Gbeing as *e before said the "ystery of
the blessed TrinityH and *ith his "en holding in their hands those noble sounding tru"#ets G*hich are
#ro#hetical and a#ostolical senses according as our 4ord said to the #ro#het :/!alt thy voice as a
tru"#et>< and the #sal"ist of the a#ostles :Their sound hath #assed throughout the *hole earthLH and
bearing all those fa"ous flagons shining in the night *ith that "ost glittering fiery light G*hich are to
be inter#reted the bodies of saints =oined to good *or+s and burning *ith the fla"e of the Holy Ghost
yea having as the a#ostle *rites :This treasure in earthen vesselsLH hath after he*ing do*n the
idolatrous grave Gby *hich is "orally "eant dar+ and foul desireH "arched on li+e Gideon *ith an
assured faith in the evident sign of the fleece *hich to the Je*s *as void of the heavenly "oisture but
to the Gentiles "ade *et *ith the de* of the Holy GhostI
%(. ;ho is he a"ong the" that Gearnestly *ishing to die to this *orld and live to &hristH hath as
another 1a"#son utterly cut off such innu"erable lu!urious ban?ueters of the Gentile *hile they
#raised their gods Gby *hich is "eant *hile the senses of "en e!tolled these earthly riches according
to the a#ostle s#ea+ing thus( :And covetousness *hich is idolatryLH sha+ing *ith the #o*er of both
his ar"s the t*o #illars Gby *hich are to be understood the *ic+ed #leasures of the soul and bodyH by
*hich the house of all *orldly *ic+edness is in a sort co"#acted and under#ro##edI ;hich of the"
li+e 1a"uel *ith #rayers and the burnt sacrifice of a suc+ing la"b hath driven a*ay the fear of the
$hilistines raised une!#ected thundercla#s and sho*ering clouds established *ithout flattery a +ing
de#osed hi" *hen he dis#leased God and anointed another his better in his #lace and +ingdo"> and
*hen he shall give to the #eo#le his last fare*ell shall a##ear li+e 1a"uel in this sort saying :Behold
- a" ready s#ea+ ye before our 4ord and his anointed *hether - ever too+ a*ay the o! or ass of any
"an if - have falsely accused any one if - have o##ressed anybody if - have received a bribe fro" the
hands of anyI< Nnto *ho" it *as ans*ered by the #eo#le :Thou hast not *rongfully charged us nor
o##ressed us nor ta+en anything fro" the hands of any.< ;hich of the" li+e the fa"ous #ro#het /lias
.3
Gildas
*ho consu"ed *ith heavenly fire the hundred #roud "en and #reserved the fifty that hu"bled
the"selves> and after*ards denounced *ithout flattery or dissi"ulation the i"#ending death of the
un=ust +ing Gthat sought not the counsel of God by his #ro#hets but of the idol AccaronH hath utterly
overthro*n all the #ro#hets of Baal Gby *hich are "eant the *orldly senses ever bent as *e have
already said to envy and avariceH *ith the lightning s*ord G*hich is the *ord of GodHI And as the
sa"e /lias "oved *ith the Aeal of God after ta+ing a*ay the sho*ers of rain fro" the land of the
*ic+ed *ho *ere no* shut u# *ith fa"ine in a strong #rison as it *ere of #enury for three years and
si! "onths being hi"self ready to die for thirst in the desert hath co"#laining said :They have
"urdered O 4ord thy #ro#hets and under"ined thine altars and - alone a" left and they see+ "y
lifeIL
%2. ;hich of the" li+e /lisha hath #unished his dearly beloved disci#le if not *ith an everlasting
le#rosy yet at least by abandoning hi" if burdened too "uch *ith the *eight of *orldly covetousness
for those very gifts *hich his "aster before Galthough very earnestly entreated theretoH had des#ised to
receiveI And *hich of these a"ong us hath li+e hi" revealed unto his servant G*ho des#aired of life
and on a sudden tre"bled at the *arli+e ar"y of the ene"ies that besieged the city *herein he *asH
through the fervency of his #rayers #oured out unto God those s#iritual visions so that he "ight
behold a "ountain re#lenished *ith a heavenly assisting ar"y of *arli+e chariots and horse"en
shining *ith fiery countenances and that he "ight also believe that he *as stronger to save than the
foe to hurtI And *hich of the" li+e the above'na"ed /lisha *ith the touch of his body being dead to
the *orld but living unto God shall raise u# another *hose fate had been different fro" his na"ely
death to God but life to his vices so that instantly revived he "ay yield hu"ble than+s to &hrist for
his une!#ected recovery fro" the hellish tor"ents of his "ortal cri"esI ;hich of the" hath his li#s
#urified and "ade clean *ith the fiery coals carried by the tongues of the cherubi" fro" off the altar
Gthat his sins "ay be *i#ed a*ay *ith the hu"ility of confessionH as it is *ritten of /saias by *hose
effectual #rayers together *ith the aid of the godly +ing /Aechias a hundred fourscore and five
thousand of the Assyrian ar"y through the stro+e of one angel *ithout the least #rint of any a##earing
*ound *ere overthro*n and slainI ;hich of the" li+e blessed Jere"iah for acco"#lishing the
co""and"ents of God C for denouncing the threats thundered out fro" heaven and for #reaching the
truth even to such as *ould not hear the sa"e hath suffered loathso"e stin+ing #risons as "o"entary
deathsI And to be brief *hat one of the" Gas the teacher of the Gentiles saidH hath endured li+e the
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On the Ruin of Britain
holy #ro#hets to *ander in "ountains in dens and caves of the earth to be stoned to be sa*n in
sunder and assailed *ith all +inds of death for the na"e of our 4ordI
%". But *hy do *e d*ell in e!a"#les of the Old Testa"ent as if there *ere none in the Fe*I 4et
therefore those *ho su##ose they can *ithout any labour at all under the na+ed #resence of the na"e
of #riesthood enter this strait and narro* #assage of &hristian religion hear+en unto "e *hile - recite
and gather into one a fe* of the chiefest flo*ers out of the large and #leasant "eado* of the saintly
soldiers of the Fe* Testa"ent. ;hich of you G*ho rather slee# than la*fully sit in the chair of the
#riesthoodH being cast out of the council of the *ic+ed hath after the stri#es of sundry rods li+e the
holy a#ostles fro" the botto" of his heart given than+s to the blessed Trinity that he *as found
*orthy to suffer disgrace for &hrist8s true deityI ;hat one for the undoubted testi"ony of God having
his brains dashed out *ith the fuller8s club hath li+e Ja"es the first a bisho# of the Fe* Testa"ent
suffered cor#oral deathI ;hich of you li+e Ja"es the brother of John has by the un=ust #rince been
beheadedI ;ho li+e the first deacon and "artyr of the gos#el Ghaving but this only accusation that he
sa* God *ho" the *ic+ed could not beholdH has ungodly hands been stoned to deathI ;hat one of
you li+e the *orthy +ee#er of the +eys of the heavenly +ingdo" has been nailed to the cross *ith his
feet u#*ard in reverence for &hrist *ho" no less in his death than in his life he endeavoured to
honour and hath so breathed his lastI ;hich of you for the confession of the true *ord of &hrist hath
li+e the vessel of election and chosen teacher of the Gentiles after suffering i"#rison"ent and
shi#*rec+ after the terrible scourges of *hi#s the continual dangers of seas of thieves of Gentiles of
Je*s and of false a#ostles after the labours of fa"ine fasting and *atching after incessant care over
all the churches after his trouble for such as scandaliAed after his infir"ity for the *ea+ after his
*onderful travels over al"ost the *hole *orld in #reaching the gos#el of &hrist lost his head at last by
the stro+e of the descending s*ordIL
%*. ;hich of you li+e the holy "artyr -gnatius bisho# of the city of Antioch hath after his
"iraculous actions in &hrist for testi"ony of hi" been torn by the =a*s of lions as he *as once at
Ro"eI *hose *ords as he *as led to his #assion *hen you shall hear Gif ever your countenances *ere
overco"e *ith blushingH you *ill not only in co"#arison of hi" estee" yourselves no #riests but
not so "uch even as the "eanest &hristians> for in the e#istle *hich he sent to the church of Ro"e he
*riteth thus( :Fro" 1yria even unto Ro"e - fight *ith beasts by land and sea being bound and
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Gildas
chained unto ten leo#ards - "ean the soldiers a##ointed for "y sustody *ho for our benefit besto*ed
u#on the" beco"e "ore cruel but - a" the better instructed by their *ic+edness neither yet a" - in
this =ustified> ohD *hen shall those beasts co"e the *or+ers of "y salvation *hich are for "e
#re#aredI *hen shall they be let loose at "eI *hen shall it be la*ful for "y carcass to en=oy the"I
*ho" - do "ost earnestly *ish to be eagerly enraged against "e and truly - *ill incite the" to devour
"e> "oreover - *ill hu"bly #ray lest #erchance they should dread to touch "y body Gas in so"e
others they have before doneH yea also if they hesitate - *ill offer violence - *ill force "yself u#on
the". $ardon "e - beseech you - +no* *hat is co""odious for "e even no* - begin to be the
disci#le of &hrist> let all envy *hether of hu"an affection or s#iritual *ic+edness cease that - "ay
endeavour to obtain &hrist Jesus> let fires let crosses let cruelty of beasts let brea+ing of bones and
rending of li"bs *ith all the #ains of the *hole body and all the tor"ents devised by the art of the
devil be together #oured out on "e alone so that - "ay "erit to attain unto &hrist Jesus.< ;hy do you
behold these things *ith the slee#y eyes of your soulsI *hy do you hear+en unto the" *ith the deaf
ears of your sensesI 1ha+e off - beseech you the dar+ and blac+ "ist of slothfulness fro" your hearts
that so you "ay see the glorious light of truth and hu"ility. A &hristian and he not "ean but a #erfect
one and a #riest not base but one of the highest a "artyr of no ordinary sort but one of the chiefest
saith( :Fo* - begin to be the disci#le of &hrist.< And you li+e the sa"e 4ucifer *ho *as thro*n
do*n out of heaven are #uffed u# *ith *ords and not *ith #o*er and after a sort do che* under the
tooth and "a+e #resence in your actions as the author of this your *ic+edness hath thus e!#ressed( :-
*ill "ount u# into the heavens and be li+e unto the Highest.< And again( :- have digged and drun+
*ater and dried u# *ith the ste#s of "y feet all the rivers of the ban+s.< 2ou *ould "ore rightly have
i"itated hi" and hear+ened unto his *ords *ho is *ithout doubt the "ost true e!a"#le of all
goodness and hu"ility saying by his #ro#het :- a" verily a *or" and not a "an the re#roach of "en
and the outcast of the #eo#le.< Oh uns#ea+able "atterD that he called hi"self :the re#roach of "en<
*hen he *ashed a*ay the re#roaches of the *hole *orld. And again in the gos#el> :- a" not able to do
any thing of "yself< *hen at the sa"e ti"e he *as co'eternal *ith the Father coe?ual *ith the Holy
Ghost and consubstantial *ith both and created not by the hel# of another but by his o*n al"ighty
#o*er the heaven and earth *ith all their inesti"able orna"ents> and ye nevertheless have arrogantly
lifted u# your voices not*ithstanding the #ro#het saith :;hy do earth and ashes s*ell *ith #rideIL
%#. But let us return unto our sub=ect. ;hich of you - say li+e $olycar# the fa"ous bisho# of the
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On the Ruin of Britain
church of 1"yrna that *itness of &hrist hath courteously entertained as guests at his table those *ho
violently dre* hi" out to be burnedI and *hen for the charity *hich he did bear unto &hrist he *as
brought to the sta+e said :He *ho gave "e grace to endure the tor"ent of the fire *ill li+e*ise grant
"e *ithout fastening of nails to bear the fla"es *ith #atience.< And no* #assing over in this "y
discourse the "ighty ar"ies of saints - *ill yet touch on one only for e!a"#le8s sa+e Basil the bisho#
of &aesaria *ho *hen he *as thus by the unrighteous #rince threatened that unless he *ould on the
ne!t day be as the rest defiled in the dirty dunghill of the Arian heresy he should be #ut to death
ans*ered as it is re#orted :- *ill be to'"orro* the sa"e as to'day and for thee - do not *ish thee to
change thy deter"ination.< And again :;ould that - had so"e *orthy re*ard to besto* on hi" that
*ould discharge Basil fro" the bands of this breathing bello*s.< ;hich one of you doth endeavour to
daunt the "enaces of tyrants by inviolably +ee#ing the rule of the a#ostolical s#eech *hich in all
ti"es and ages hath been observed by all holy #riests to su##ress the suggestion of "en *hen they
sought to dra* the" into *ic+edness saying in this "anner> :-t behoveth us to obey God rather than
"en.<
%$. ;herefore after our accusto"ed "anner ta+ing refuge in the "ercy of our 4ord and in the
sentences of his holy #ro#hets that they on our behalf "ay no* level the darts of their oracles at
i"#erfect #astors Gas before at tyrantsH so that thereby they "ay receive co"#unction and be a"ended
let us see *hat "anner of threats our 4ord doth by his #ro#hets utter against slothful and dishonest
#riests and such as do not both by e!a"#les and *ords rightly instruct the #eo#le. For even /li the
#riest in 1hilo because he did not severely #roceed *ith a Aeal *orthy of God in #unishing his sons
*hen they conte"ned our 4ord but as a "an overs*ayed *ith a fatherly affection too "ildly and
re"issly ad"onished the" *as sentenced *ith this =udg"ent by the #ro#het s#ea+ing unto hi"( :Thus
saith our 4ord> - have "anifestly sho*ed "yself unto the house of thy father *hen they *ere the
servants of $haraoh in /gy#t and have chosen the house of thy father out of all the tribes of -srael for
a #riesthood unto "e.< And a little after :;hy hast thou loo+ed u#on "ine incense and u#on "y
sacrifice *ith a dishonest eyeI and hast honoured thy children "ore than "e that thou "ightest bless
the" fro" the beginning in all sacrifices in "y #resenceI And no* so saith our 4ord( Because *hoever
honoureth "e - *ill honour hi" again> and *hoso "a+eth no account of "e shall be brought to
nothing. Behold the days shall co"e and - *ill destroy thy na"e and the seed of thy father8s house.
And let this be to thee the sign *hich shall fall u#on thy t*o sons Ho#hni and $hineas in one day
05
Gildas
shall they both die by the s*ord of "en.< -f thus therefore they shall suffer *ho correct the" that are
under their charge *ith *ords only and not *ith condign #unish"ent *hat shall beco"e of those *ho
by offending e!hort you and dra* others unto *ic+ednessI
%%. -t is a##arent also *hat befell unto the true #ro#het *ho *as sent fro" Judah to #ro#hesy in
Bethel and forbidden to taste any "eat in that #lace after the sign *hich he foretold *as fulfilled and
after he had restored to the *ic+ed +ing his *ithered hand again being deceived by another #ro#het as
he *as ter"ed and so "a+e to ta+e but a little bread and *ater his host s#ea+ing in this sort unto hi"(
88Thus saith our 4ord God( Because thou hast been disobedient to the "outh of our 4ord and hast not
observed the #rece#t *hich the 4ord thy God hath co""anded and hast returned and eaten bread and
drun+ *ater in this #lace in *hich - have charged thee that thou shouldest neither eat bread nor drin+
*ater thy body shall not be buried in the se#ulchre of thy forefathers. And so Gsaith the scri#tureH it
ca"e to #ass that after he had eaten bread and drun+ *ater he "ade ready his ass and de#arted and a
lion found hi" in the *ay and sle* hi".<
%&. Hear ye also the holy #ro#het -saias ho* he s#ea+eth of #riests on this *ise. :;oe be to the
ungodly "ay evil befall hi"> for the re*ard of his hands shall light u#on hi". Her o*n e!actors have
s#oiled "y #eo#le and *o"en have borne s*ay over her. O "y #eo#le they *ho ter" thee blessed
the"selves deceive thee and destroy the *ay of thy footste#s. Our 4ord standeth to =udge and standeth
to =udge the #eo#le. Our 4ord *ill co"e unto =udg"ent *ith the elders of the #eo#le and her #rinces.
2e have consu"ed "y vine the s#oil of the #oor is in your house. ;hy do ye brea+ in #ieces "y
#eo#le and grind the faces of the #oorI saith our 4ord of hosts.< And also> :;oe be unto the" *ho
co"#ose ungodly la*s and in their *riting have *ritten in=ustice that they "ay o##ress the #oor in
=udg"ent and *or+ violence to the cause of the lo*ly of "y #eo#le that *ido*s "ay be their #rey
and they "a+e s#oil of the or#hans> *hat *ill ye do in the day of visitation and cala"ity a##roaching
fro" afar offI< And after*ards( :But these also in regard of *ine have been ignorant and in res#ect of
drun+enness have *andered astray> the #riests have not understood because of drun+enness and have
been s*allo*ed u# in *ine they have erred in drun+enness they have not +no*n hi" *ho seeth they
have been ignorant of =udg"ent. For all tables are filled *ith the vo"it of their uncleanness in so "uch
as there is not any free #lace to be found.<
%'. :Hear therefore the *ord of our 4ord O ye deceivers *ho bear authority over "y #eo#le that
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On the Ruin of Britain
is in Jerusale". For ye have said ;e have entered into a truce *ith death and *ith hell *e have "ade
a covenant. The overflo*ing scourge *hen it shall #ass forth shall not fall u#on us because *e have
#laced falsehood for our ho#e and by lying *e have been defended.< And so"e*hat after( :And hail
shall overthro* the ho#e of lying together *ith the defence. ;aters shall overflo* and your truce *ith
death shall be destroyed and your covenant *ith hell shall not continue *hen the overflo*ing scourge
shall #ass forth> ye shall also be trodden under foot *hensoever it shall #ass along through you it shall
s*ee# you a*ay *ithal.< And again( :And our 4ord hath said( Because this #eo#le a##roacheth *ith
their "outh and *ith their li#s glorify "e but their heart is far fro" "e> behold therefore - *ill cause
this #eo#le to *onder by a great and stu#endous "iracle. For *isdo" shall decay and fall a*ay fro"
her *ise "en and the understanding of her sages shall be concealed. ;oe be unto you that are
#rofound in heart to conceal counsel fro" our 4ord *hose *or+s are in dar+ness and they say *ho
seeth usI And *ho hath +no*n usI for this thought of yours is #erverse.< And after*ards( :Thus saith
our 4ord Heaven is "y seat and the earth "y footstool. ;hat is this house that ye *ill erect unto "e
and *hat #lace shall be found for "y resting'#laceI all these things hath "y hand "ade and these
universally have been all created saith our 4ord. On *ho" truly shall - cast "ine eye but on the
hu"ble #oor "an and the contrite in s#irit and hi" that dreadeth "y s#eechesI he that sacrificeth an
o! is as he that +illeth a "an> he that slaughtereth a beast for sacrifice is li+e hi" *ho beateth out the
brains of a dog> he that offereth an oblation is as he that offereth the blood of a hog> he that is "indful
of fran+incense is as he that honoureth an idol( of all these things have they "ade choice in their *ays
and in their abo"inations hath their soul been delighted.<
&). Hear also *hat Jere"y that virgin #ro#het s#ea+eth unto the un*ise #astors in this sort( :Thus
saith our 4ord ;hat ini?uity have your fathers found in "e because they have re"oved the"selves far
off fro" "e and *al+ed after vanity and are beco"e vainI< And again( :And entering in ye have
defiled "y land and "ade "ine inheritance abo"ination. The #riests have not said ;here is our 4ordI
and the rulers of the la* have not +no*n "e and the #astors have dealt treacherously against "e.
;herefore - *ill as yet contend in =udg"ent *ith you saith our 4ord and debate the "atter *ith your
children.< And a little after*ards( :Astonish"ent and *onders have been *rought in the land. $ro#hets
did #reach lying and #riests did a##laud *ith their hands and "y #eo#le have loved such "atters.
;hat therefore shall be done in her last and final endsI To *ho" shall - s#ea+ and "a+e #rotestation
that he "ay hear "eI Behold their ears are uncircu"cised and they cannot hear. Behold the *ord of
0.
Gildas
our 4ord is uttered unto the" for their re#roach and they receive it not( because - *ill stretch out "y
hand u#on the inhabitants of the earth saith our 4ord. For *hy fro" the lesser even unto the greater
all study avarice and fro" the #ro#het even unto the #riest all *or+ deceit and they cured the
contrition of the daughter of "y #eo#le *ith igno"iny saying $eace #eace and #eace there shall not
be. &onfounded they are *ho have *rought abo"ination( but they are not *ith confusion confounded
and have not understood ho* to be asha"ed. ;herefore they shall fall a"ong those *ho are falling in
the ti"e of their visitation shall they rush headlong do*n together saith our 4ord.< And again( :All
these #rinces of the declining sort *al+ing fraudulently being brass and iron are universally
corru#ted the blo*ing bello*s have failed in the fire the finer of "etals in vain hath "elted their
"alicious acts are not consu"ed call the" refuse and re#robate silver because our 4ord hath thro*n
the" a*ay.< And after a fe* *ords( :- a" - a" - have seen saith our 4ord. Go your *ays to "y #lace
in 1hilo *here "y na"e hath inhabited fro" the beginning and behold *hat - have done thereunto for
the "alice of "y #eo#le -srael. And no* because ye have *rought all these *or+s saith our 4ord and -
have s#o+en unto you arising in the "orning and tal+ing and yet ye have not heard "e and - have
called you and yet ye have not ans*ered - *ill so deal to*ards this house *herein "y na"e is no*
called u#on and *herein ye have confidence and to this #lace *hich - have given unto you and to
your fathers as - have done to 1hilo and - *ill cast you a*ay fro" "y countenance.<
&(. And again( :9y children have de#arted fro" "e and have no abiding and there is none *ho
any "ore #itcheth "y tent and advanceth "y #avilion( for the #astors have dealt fondly and not sought
out our 4ord. ;herefore they have not understood and their floc+ hath been dis#ersed.< And a little
after( :;hat is the "atter that "y beloved hath in "y houses co""itted "any offencesI shall the holy
flesh ta+e a*ay thy "aliciousness fro" thee *herein thou hast glorifiedI our 4ord shall call thy na"e
a #lentiful fair fruitful goodly olive> at the sound of the s#eech a "ighty fire hath been infla"ed in
her and her orchards have been ?uite consu"ed there*ith.< And again( :&o"e ye to "e and be ye
gathered together all ye beasts of the earth "a+e haste to devour. 9any #astors have thro*n do*n "y
vine they have tra"#led "y #art under foot they have given over "y #ortion *hich *as *ell *orthy
to be desired into a desert of solitariness.< And again he s#ea+eth( :Thus saith our 4ord unto this
#eo#le *hich have loved to "ove their feet and not rested nor yet #leased our 4ord> no* shall he
re"e"ber their ini?uities and visit their offences. $ro#hets say unto the" 2e shall not see the s*ord
and there shall be no fa"ine a"ong you but our 4ord shall give true #eace unto you in this #lace. And
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On the Ruin of Britain
our 4ord hath said unto "e The #ro#hets do falsely foretell in "y na"e> - have not sent the" nor laid
"y co""and"ent on the"> they #ro#hesy unto you a dying vision and divination together *ith
deceitfulness and the seduce"ent of their o*n hearts. And therefore thus saith our 4ord( -n s*ord and
fa"ine shall those #ro#hets be consu"ed> and the #eo#le to *ho" they have #ro#hesied shall by "eans
of the fa"ine and s*ord be cast out into the streets of Jerusale" and there shall be none to bury the".<
&2. And "oreover( :;oe be to the #astors *ho destroy and rend in #ieces the floc+ of "y #asture
saith our 4ord. Thus therefore saith our 4ord God of -srael unto the #astors *ho guide "y #eo#le 2e
have dis#ersed "y floc+ and cast the" forth and not visited the". Behold - *ill visit u#on you the
"alice of your endeavours saith our 4ord. For the #ro#het and the #riest are both defiled and in "y
house have - found their evil saith our 4ord and therefore shall their *ay be as a sli##ery #lace in the
dar+ for they shall be thrust for*ard and fall do*n together therein for - *ill bring evils u#on the"
the year of their visitation saith our 4ord. And in the #ro#hets of 1a"aria - have seen foolishness and
they did #ro#hesy in Baal and deceived "y #eo#le -srael and in the #ro#hets of Jerusale" have - seen
the li+e rese"blance adultery and the *ay of lying and they have co"forted the hands of the vilest
offenders that every "an "ay not be converted fro" his "alice( they have been all "ade to "e as
1odo" and the inhabitants thereof as those of Go"orrha. Thus therefore saith our 4ord to the
#ro#hets( Behold - *ill give the" *or"*ood for their food and gall for their drin+. For there hath
#assed fro" the #ro#het of Jerusale" #ollution over the *hole earth. Thus saith our 4ord of hosts
4isten not to the *ords of #ro#hets *ho #ro#hesy unto you and deceive you for they s#ea+ the vision
of their o*n heart and not fro" the "outh of our 4ord. For they say unto those *ho blas#he"e "e
Our 4ord hath s#o+en #eace shall be unto you> and to all that *al+ in the *ic+edness of their o*n
hearts they have said evil shall not fall u#on the". For *ho *as #resent in the counsel of our 4ord
and hath seen and heard his s#eech *ho hath considered of his *ord and hear+ened thereuntoI
Behold the *hirl*ind of the indignation of our 4ord #asseth out and a te"#est brea+ing forth shall
fall u#on the heads of the *ic+ed> the fury of our 4ord shall not return until the ti"e that he *or+eth
and until he fulfilleth the cogitation of his heart. -n the last days of all shall ye understand his counsel.<
&". And little also do ye conceive and #ut in e!ecution that *hich the holy #ro#het Joel hath
li+e*ise s#o+en in ad"onish"ent of slothful #riests and la"entation of the #eo#le8s suffering for their
ini?uities saying( :A*a+e ye *ho are drun+ fro" your *ine and *ee# and be*ail ye all *ho have
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Gildas
drun+ *ine even to drun+enness because =oy and delight are ta+en a*ay fro" your "ouths. 9ourn ye
#riests *ho serve the altar because the fields have been "ade "iserable. 4et the earth "ourn because
corn hath beco"e "iserable and *ine been dried u# oil di"inished and husband"en *ithered a*ay.
4a"ent ye #ossessions in regard of *heat and barley because the vintage hath #erished out of the
field the vine *ithered u# the figs di"inished> the #o"egranates and #al" and a##le and all trees of
the field are *ithered a*ay in res#ect that the children of "en have confounded their =oy.< All *hich
things are s#iritually to be understood by you that your souls "ay not *ither a*ay *ith so #estilent a
fa"ine for *ant of the *ord of God. And again :;ee# out ye #riests *ho serve our 4ord saying
1#are O 4ord thy #eo#le and give not over thine inheritance unto re#roach and let not nations hold
do"inion over the" that Gentiles "ay not say ;here is their GodI< And yet ye yield not your ears
unto these sayings but ad"it of all "atters by *hich the indignation of God8s fury is "ore vehe"ently
infla"ed.
&*. ;ith diligence also attend ye *hat holy Hosea the #ro#het hath s#o+en unto #riests of your
behaviour. :Hear these *ords O ye #riests and let the house of -srael together *ith the +ing8s house
"ar+ the"> fasten ye the" in your ears for unto you #ertaineth =udg"ent because ye are "ade an
entangling snare to the es#ying *atch and as a net stretched over the toils *hich the follo*ers of
hunting have fra"ed.<
&#. To you also "ay this +ind of alienation fro" our 4ord be "eant by the #ro#het A"os saying
:- have hated and re=ected your festival days and - *ill not receive the saviour in your sole"n
asse"blies because albeit ye offer your burnt sacrifices and hosts - *ill not acce#t the" and - *ill not
cast "ine eye on the vo*s of your declaration. Ta+e a*ay fro" "e the sound of your songs and the
#sal" of your organs - *ill not hear.< For the fa"ine of the evangelical "eat consu"ing in your
abundance of victuals the very bo*els of your souls rageth violently *ithin you according as the
aforesaid #ro#het hath foretold saying :Behold the days shall co"e saith our 4ord and - *ill send
out a fa"ine u#on the earth> not the fa"ine of bread nor the thirst of *ater but a fa"ine in hearing the
*ord of God and the *aters shall be "oved fro" sea to sea and they shall run over fro" the north
even unto the east see+ing the *ord of our 4ord and shall not find it.<
&$. 4et holy 9icah also #ierce your ears *ho li+e a heavenly tru"#et soundeth loudly forth
against the deceitful #rinces of the #eo#le saying :Hear+en no* ye #rinces of the house of Jacob -s it
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On the Ruin of Britain
not for you to +no* =udg"ent *ho hate goodness and see+ after "ischief *ho #luc+ their s+ins fro"
off "en and their flesh fro" their bonesI /ven as they have eaten the flesh of "y #eo#le and flayed
their s+ins fro" the" bro+en their bones to #ieces and he*ed the" s"all as "eat to the #ot they shall
cry to God and he *ill not hear the" and in that season turn his face a*ay fro" the" even as they
before have *ic+edly behaved the"selves in their inventions. Thus s#ea+eth our 4ord of the #ro#hets
*ho seduce "y #eo#le *ho bite *ith their teeth and #reach against the" #eace and if a "an giveth
nothing to sto# their "ouths they raise and sanctify a *ar u#on hi". Fight shall therefore be unto you
in #lace of a vision and dar+ness unto you in lieu of divination and the sun shall set u#on your
#ro#hets and the day shall *a! dar+ u#on the" and seeing drea"s they shall be confounded and the
diviners shall be derided and they shall s#ea+ ill against all "en because there shall not be any one
that *ill hear the" but that - "yself shall do "ine utter"ost and strongest endeavour in the s#irit of
our 4ord in =udg"ent and in #o*er that - "ay declare unto the house of Jacob their i"#ieties and to
-srael their offences. Hear+en therefore unto these *ords ye ca#tains of the house of Jacob and ye
re"nants of the house of -srael *ho abhor =udg"ent and overthro* all righteousness *ho build u#
1ion in blood and Jerusale" in ini?uities( her rulers did =udge for re*ards and her #riests ans*ered for
hire and her #ro#hets did for "oney divine and rested on our 4ord saying And is not the 4ord a"ong
usI /vils shall not fall u#on us. For your cause therefore shall 1ion be #loughed u# as a field and
Jerusale" as the *atch'house of a garden and the "ountain of the house as the #lace of a *oody
*ilderness.< And after so"e *ords ensuing( :;oe is "e for that - a" beco"e as he that gathereth
stubble in the harvest and a cluster of gra#es in the vintage *hen the #rinci#al branch is not left to be
eaten. ;oe is "e that a soul hath #erished through earthly actions the reverence of sinners ariseth even
*ith reverence fro" the earth and he a##eareth not that shall use correction a"ong "en. All contend in
=udg"ent for blood and every one *ith tribulation afflicteth his neighbour for "ischief he #re#areth
his hands.
&%. 4isten ye li+e*ise ho* the fa"ous #ro#het Qe#haniah debated also in ti"es #ast concerning
your revellers Gfor he s#a+e of Jerusale" *hich is s#iritually to be understood the church or the soulH
saying :O the city that *as beautiful and set at liberty the confiding dove hath not hear+ened to the
voice nor yet entertained disci#line she hath not trusted in our 4ord and to her God she hath not
a##roached.< And he sho*eth the reason *hy :Her #rinces have been li+e unto roaring lions her
=udges as *olves of Arabia did not leave to*ards the "orning her #ro#hets carrying the s#irit of a
03
Gildas
conte"#tuous des#ising "an> her #riests did #rofane *hat *as holy and dealt *ic+edly in the la* but
our 4ord is u#right in the "idst of his #eo#le and in the "orning he *ill not do in=ustice in the
"orning *ill he give his =udg"ent.<
&&. But hear ye also blessed Qachariah the #ro#het in the *ord of God ad"onishing you( :For
thus saith our Al"ighty 4ord Judge ye righteous =udg"ent and *or+ ye every one to*ards his brother
"ercy and #ity and hurt ye not through your #o*er the *ido* or or#han or stranger or #oor "an and
let not any "an re"e"ber in his heart the "alice of his brother> and they have been stubborn not to
observe these and have yielded their bac+s to foolishness and "ade heavy their ears that they "ight
not hear+en and fra"ed their hearts not to be #ersuaded that they "ight not listen to "y la* and
*ords *hich our Al"ighty 4ord hath sent in his 1#irit through the hands of his for"er #ro#hets and
"ighty *rath hath been raised by our Al"ighty 4ord.< And again> :Because they *ho have s#o+en
have s#o+en "olestations and diviners have uttered false visions and deceitfu7 drea"s and given vain
consolations> in res#ect hereof they are "ade as dry as shee# and are afflicted because no health *as to
be found> "y *rath is hea#ed u#on the she#herds and u#on the la"bs *ill - visit.< And *ithin a fe*
*ords after( :The voice of la"enting #astors because their greatness is beco"e "iserable. The voice of
roaring lions because the fall of Jordan is beco"e "iserable( thus saith our Al"ighty 4ord( They *ho
#ossessed have "urdered and yet hath it not re#ented the" and they *ho sold the" have said Our
4ord is blessed and *e have been enriched and their #astors have suffered nothing concerning the".
For *hich - *ill no* bear no s#aring hand over the inhabitants of the earth saith our 4ord.<
&'. Hear ye "oreover *hat the holy #ro#het 9alachi denounceth unto you saying( :2e #riests
*ho des#ise "y na"e and have said( ;herein do *e des#ise thy na"eI in offering on "ine altar
#olluted bread( and ye have said> ;herein have *e #olluted itI -n that ye have said( The table of our
4ord is as nothing and have des#ised such things as have been #laced thereon> because if ye bring
*hat is blind for an offering is it not evilI -f ye set and a##ly *hat if la"e or languishing is it not evilI
Offer therefore the sa"e unto thy governor if he *ill receive it if he *ill acce#t of thy #erson saith
our Al"ighty 4ord. And no* do ye hu"bly #ray before the countenance of your God and earnestly
beseech hi" Gfor in your hands have these things been co""ittedH if ha##ily he *ill acce#t of your
#ersons.< And again( :And out of your ravenous theft ye have brought in the la"e and languishing and
brought it in as an offering. 1hall - receive the sa"e at your hands saith our 4ordI Accursed is the
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On the Ruin of Britain
deceitful "an *ho hath in his floc+ one of the "ale +ind and yet "a+ing his vo* offereth the feeble
unto our 4ord because - a" a "ighty +ing saith our 4ord of hosts and "y na"e is terrible a"ong the
Gentiles. And no* unto you a##ertaineth this co""and"ent O ye #riests if ye *ill not hear and
resolve in your hearts to yield glory unto "y na"e saith our 4ord of hosts - *ill send u#on you
#overty and accurse your blessings because ye have not settled these things on your hearts. Behold -
*ill stretch out "y ar" over ye and dis#erse u#on your countenances the dung of your sole"nities.<
But that ye "ay in the "eanti"e *ith "ore Aeal #re#are your organs and instru"ents of "ischief to
be converted into goodness hear+en ye Gif there re"ain ever so little dis#osition to listen in your
heartsH *hat he s#ea+eth of a holy #riest saying :9y covenant of life and #eace *as *ith hi" Gfor
historically he did s#ea+ of 4evi and 9osesH( - gave fear unto hi" and he *as ti"orous of "e he
dreaded before the countenance of "y na"e> the la* of truth *as in his "outh and ini?uity *as not
found in his li#s he *al+ed *ith "e in #eace and e?uity and turned "any a*ay fro" unrighteousness.
For the li#s of the #riest shall +ee# +no*ledge and fro" out of his "outh they shall re?uire the la*
because he is the Angel of our 4ord of hosts.< And no* again he changeth his style and ceaseth not to
rebu+e and re#rove the unrighteous saying( :2e have de#arted fro" the *ay and scandaliAed "any in
the la* and "ade void "y covenant *ith 4evi saith our 4ord of hosts. -n regard *hereof - have also
given you over as conte"#tible and ab=ect a"ong "y #eo#le according as ye have not observed "y
*ays and acce#ted countenance of "en in the la*. ;hat is there not one Father of us allI ;hat hath
not one God created usI ;hy therefore doth every one des#ise his brotherI< And again :Behold our
4ord of hosts *ill co"e and *ho can conceive the day of his co"ing and *ho shall endure to stand to
behold hi"I For he shall #ass forth as a burning fire and as the fuller8s herb and shall sit "elting and
trying silver and ye shall #urge the sons of 4evi and cleanse the" as gold and as silver.< And
so"e*hat after*ards( :2our *ords have gro*n strong against "e saith our 4ord and ye have s#o+en
thus( He is vain *ho serveth God and *hat #rofit because *e have +e#t his co""and"ents and
*al+ed sorro*fully before our 4ord of hosts. ;e shall therefore no* call the arrogant blessed for
because they are erected and builded u# *hile they *or+ ini?uity they have te"#ted God and are
"ade safe.<
'). But hear ye also *hat /Aechiel the #ro#het hath s#o+en saying :;oe u#on *oe shall co"e
and "essenger u#on "essenger shall be and the vision shall be sought for of the #ro#het and the la*
shall #erish fro" the #riests and counsel fro" the elders.< And again( :Thus saith our 4ord( -n res#ect
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Gildas
that your s#eeches are lying and your divinations vain. For this cause behold - *ill co"e unto you
saith our 4ord> - *ill stretch out "y hand on your #ro#hets *ho see lies and the" *ho s#ea+ vain
things> in the disci#line of "y #eo#le they shall not be and in the 1cri#ture of the house of -srael they
shall not be *ritten and into the land of -srael they shall not enter and ye shall +no* that - a" the
4ord because they have seduced "y #eo#le saying The #eace of our 4ord and there is not the #eace
of our 4ord. Here have they built the *all and they anointed it and it shall fall.< And *ithin so"e
*ords after*ards( :;oe be unto these *ho fashion #illo*s a#t for every elbo* of the hand and "a+e
veils u#on every head of all ages to the subversion of souls and the souls of "y #eo#le are subverted
and they #ossess their souls and conta"inated "e unto "y #eo#le for a handful of barley and a #iece
of bread to the slaughter of the souls *ho" it behoved not to die and to the delivery of the souls that
*ere not fit to live *hile ye tal+ unto "y #eo#le that listeneth after vain s#eeches.< And after*ards(
:1ay thou son of "an thou art earth *hich is not *atered *ith rain neither yet hath rain fallen u#on
thee in the day of *rath in *hich thy #rinces *ere in the "idst of thee as roaring lions ravening on
their #rey devouring souls in their #otent "ight and receiving re*ards and thy *ido*s *ere
"ulti#lied in the "idst of thee and her #riests have des#ised "y la* and defiled "y holy things.
Bet*een holy and #olluted they did not distinguish and divided not e?ually bet*een the unclean and
clean and fro" "y sabbaths they veiled their eyes and in the "idst of the" they defiled.<
'(. And again( : And - sought a"ong the" a "an of u#right conversation and one *ho should
altogether stand before "y face to #revent the ti"es that "ight fall u#on the earth that - should not in
the end utterly destroy it and - found hi" not. And - #oured out u#on it the *hole design of "y "ind
in the fire of "y *rath for the consu"ing of the"( - re#aid their *ays on their heads saith our 4ord.<
And so"e*hat after( :And the *ord of our 4ord *as s#o+en unto "e saying( O son of "an s#ea+ to
the children of "y #eo#le and they shalt say unto the"( The land *hereu#on - shall bring "y s*ord
and the #eo#le of the land shall ta+e so"e one "an a"ong the" and ordain hi" to be a *atch"an over
the" and he shall es#y the s*ord co"ing u#on the land and sound *ith his tru"#et and signify unto
the #eo#le *hoso truly shall then hear the sound of the tru"#et and yet hearing shall not be*are( and
the s*ord shall co"e and catch hi" his blood shall light u#on his o*n head because *hen he heard
the sound of the tru"#et he *as not *atchful his blood shall be u#on hi" and this "an for that he
hath #reserved his o*n soul hath delivered hi"self. But the *atch"an if he shall see the s*ord
co"ing and not give notice *ith his tru"#et and the #eo#le shall not be a*are and the s*ord co"ing
B7
On the Ruin of Britain
shall ta+e a*ay a soul fro" a"ong the" both the soul itself is caught a ca#tive for her ini?uities and -
*ill also re?uire her blood at the hand of the *atch"an. And thou O son of "an - have a##ointed thee
a *atch"an over the house of -srael and if thou shalt hear the *ord fro" out of "y "outh *hen -
shall say to a sinner Thou shalt die the death and yet *ilt not s#ea+ *hereby the *ic+ed "ay return
fro" his *ay( both the un=ust hi"self shall die in his ini?uity and truly - *ill re?uire his blood also at
thy hands. But if thou shalt fore*arn the *ic+ed of his *ay that he "ay avoid the sa"e and he
nevertheless *ill not *ithdra* hi"self fro" his course this "an shall die in his i"#iety and thou hast
#reserved thine o*n soul.<
'2. And so let these fe* a"ong a "ultitude of #ro#hetical testi"onies suffice by *hich the #ride
or sloth of our stubborn #riests "ay be re#elled to the end they "ay not su##ose that *e act rather of
our o*n invention but by the authority of the la*s and saints denounce such threats against the".
And no* let us also behold *hat the tru"#et of the gos#el sounding to the *hole *orld s#ea+eth
li+e*ise to disordered #riests> for as *e have often said this our discource tendeth not to treat of the"
*ho obtain la*fully the a#ostolical seat and such as rightly and s+ilfully understand ho* to dis#ose of
their s#iritual food Gin ti"e convenientH unto their fello* servants if yet at this ti"e there re"ain any
great nu"ber of these in this our country> but *e only tal+ of ignorant and une!#ert she#herds *ho
leave their floc+ and feed on vain "atters and have not the *ords of a learned #astor. And therefore it
is an evident to+en that he is not a la*ful #astor yea not an ordinary &hristian *ho re=ecteth and
denieth these sayings *hich are not so "uch ours G*ho of ourselves are very little *orthH as the
decrees of the Old and Fe* Testa"ent even as one of ours right *ell doth say :;e do e!ceedingly
desire that the ene"ies of the church should also *ithout any "anner of truce be our adversaries( and
that the friends and defenders thereof should not only be accounted our confederates but also our
fathers and governors.< For let every one *ith true e!a"ination call his o*n conscience unto account
and so shall he easily find *hether according to true reason he #ossesseth his #riestly chair or no. 4et
us see - say *hat the 1aviour and &reator of the *orld hath s#o+en. :2e are< saith he :the salt of the
earth if that the salt vanisheth a*ay *herein shall it be saltedI it #revaileth to no #ur#ose any farther
but that it be cast out of doors and tra"#led under the feet of "en.<
'". This only testi"ony "ight abundantly suffice to confute all such as are i"#udent> but that it
"ay be yet by the *ords of &hrist "ore evidently #roved *ith *hat intolerable bonds of cri"es these
B5
Gildas
false #riests entangle and o##ress the"selves so"e other sayings are also to be ad=oined> for it
follo*eth( :2e are the light of the *orld. A city #laced on a "ountain cannot be hid( neither do they
light a candle and #ut it under a bushel but u#on a candlestic+ that it "ay shine unto all *ho are in
the house.< ;hat #riest therefore of this fashion and ti"e *ho is so #ossessed *ith the blindness of
ignorance doth as the light of a "ost bright candle shine *ith the la"# of learning and good *or+s in
any house to all that sit in the dar+so"e nightI ;hat one is so accounted a safe #ublic and cons#icuous
refuge to all the children universally of the church that he "ay be to his country"en a defensible and
strong city situated on the to# of a high "ountainI 9oreover *hich one of the" can acco"#lish one
day together that *hich follo*eth( :4et your light so shine before "en that they "ay see your good
*or+s and glorify your Father *ho is in heaven(< since rather a certain "ost obscure cloud of theirs
and the blac+ night of offences hang over the island in such a "anner that they all turn al"ost a*ay
fro" the righteous course and "a+e the" to *ander astray through un#assable and cu"berso"e #aths
of *ic+edness and so their heavenly Father is not only by their *or+s not "agnified but also by the
sa"e intolerably blas#he"ed. These testi"onies of holy scri#ture *hich are either already cited or
hereafter to be inter"i!ed in this e#istle - *ould gladly *ish to inter#ret in so"e historical or "oral
sense as far as "y "eanness *ould allo*.
'*. But for fear lest this our little *or+ should be i""easurably tedious unto those *ho des#ise
loathe and disdain not so "uch our s#eeches as God8s sayings - have already alleged and "ean
hereafter to affir" these sentences #lainly *ithout any circu"stance. And to #roceed *ithin a fe*
*ords after( :For *hoever shall brea+ one of the least of these co""and"ents and so instruct "en
shall be called the least in the +ingdo" of heaven.< And again( :Judge ye not that ye "ay not be
=udged> for in *hat =udg"ent ye shall =udge ye shall be =udged.< And *hich one - #ray you of your
co"#any *ill regard this sa"e that follo*eth( :But *hy dost thou see< saith he :the "ote in thy
brother8s eye and considerest not the bea" in thine o*n eyeI or ho* dost thou say to thy brother
suffer "e to cast the "ote out of thine eye and behold the bea" re"aineth still in thine o*n eyeI< Or
this *hich follo*s( :%o not give *hat is holy to dogs neither yet shall ye cast your #earls before
s*ine lest #erchance they tread the" under their feet and turn again and rend you< *hich hath often
befallen you. And ad"onishing the #eo#le that they should not by deceitful doctors such as ye be
seduced he saith( :Oee# yourselves carefully fro" false #ro#hets *ho co"e unto you in shee#8s
clothing but in*ardly are ravenous *olves( by their fruit shall ye +no* the". %o "en gather gra#es of
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On the Ruin of Britain
thorns or figs of thistlesI 1o every good tree beareth good fruit and the evil evil fruit.< And so"e*hat
after*ard( :Fot every one *ho saith unto "e 4ord 4ord shall enter into the +ingdo" of heaven> but
*hoso doeth the *ill of "y Father that is in heaven he shall enter into the +ingdo" of heaven.<
'#. And *hat shall then beco"e of you *ho as the #ro#het hath said believe God only *ith your
li#s and do not adhere to hi" *ith your heartsI And ho* do ye fulfil that *hich follo*eth( :Behold -
send you forth as shee# in the "idst of *olvesI< ;hereas you act ?uite contrari*ise and #roceed as
*olves against a floc+ of shee#( or the other follo*ing sentence( :Be ye *ise as ser#ents and si"#le as
dovesI< since ye are only *ise to bite others *ith your deadly "ouths and not *ith the inter#osition
of your *hole body to defend your head *hich is &hrist *ho" *ith all the endeavours of your evil
actions you tread under foot> neither yet have ye the si"#licity of doves but the rese"blance rather of
the blac+ cro* *hich ta+ing her flight out of the ar+ that is the church of God and finding the carrion
of earthly #leasures did never *ith a #ure return bac+ thither again. But let us loo+ on the rest. :Fear
not< saith he :the" *ho +ill the body but are not able to slay the soul> but fear hi" *ho can
overthro* both soul and body in hell.< Revolve in your "inds *hich of these ye have #erfor"edI And
*hat one of you is not *ounded in the very secrets of his heart by this testi"ony follo*ing *hich our
1aviour uttereth unto his a#ostles of evil #relates saying :%o ye suffer the" the blind leaders of the
blind but if the blind be a guide to the blind both shall fall into the ditchI< But the #eo#le doubtless
*ho" ye have governed or rather beguiled have =ust occasion to listen hereunto.
'$. 9ar+ ye also the *ords of our 4ord s#ea+ing unto his a#ostles and to the #eo#le *hich *ords
li+e*ise Gas - hearH ye yourselves are not asha"ed to #ronounce often in #ublic( :N#on the chair of
9oses have the scribes and #harisees sat observe ye therefore and acco"#lish all that they shall s#ea+
unto you but do not according to their *or+s. For they only s#ea+ but of the"selves do nothing.< -t is
truly to #riests a dangerous and su#erfluous doctrine *hich is overclouded *ith sinful actions. :;oe
be unto you hy#ocrites *ho shut u# the +ingdo" of heaven before "en and neither yourselves enter
in nor yet suffer those that *ould to enter in. :For ye shall *ith horrible #ains be tor"ented not only
in res#ect of your great offences *hich ye hea# u# for #unish"ent in the *orld to co"e but also in
regard of those *ho daily #erish through your bad e!a"#le *hose blood in the day of =udg"ent shall
be re?uired at your hands.
2ield ye also diligent attention unto the "isery *hich the #arable setteth before your eyes that is
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s#o+en of the servant *ho saith in his heart :9y 4ord delayeth his co"ing< and u#on this occasion
#erchance :hath begun to stri+e his fello* servants eating and drin+ing *ith drun+ards. The 4ord of
the sa"e servant therefore saith he *ill co"e on a day *hen he doth not e!#ect hi" and in an hour
*hereof he is ignorant and *ill divide hi" a*ay fro" his holy #riests and *ill #lace his #ortion *ith
the hy#ocrites Gthat is *ith the" *ho under the #resence of #riesthood do conceal "uch ini?uityH
affir"ing that there shall be *ee#ing and gnashing of teeth>< such as they have not e!#erienced in this
#resent life either for the daily ruin of the children of our holy "other church or for the desire of the
+ingdo" of heaven.
'%. But let us see *hat $aul the true scholar of &hrist and "aster of the Gentiles *ho is a "irror
of every ecclesiastical doctor :/ven as - a" the disci#le of &hrist< s#ea+eth about a *or+ of such
i"#ortance in his first e#istle on this *ise( :Because *hen they have +no*n God they have not
"agnified hi" as God or given than+s unto hi"> but vanished in their o*n cogitations and their
foolish heart is blinded> affir"ing the"selves to be *ise they are "ade fools.< Although this see"eth
to be s#o+en unto the Gentiles loo+ into it not*ithstanding because it "ay conveniently be a##lied to
the #riests and #eo#le of this age. And after a fe* *ords :;ho have changed< saith he :the truth of
God into lying and have reverenced and served the creature rather than the &reator *ho is blessed for
ever> therefore hath God given the" over unto #assions of igno"iny.< And again :And even as they
have not a##roved the"selves to have God in their +no*ledge so God hath yielded the" u# to a
re#robate sense that they "ay do such things as are not convenient being re#lenished *ith all ini?uity
"alice uncleanness of life fornication covetousness naughtiness full of envy "urder Gi.e. of the
souls of the #eo#leH contention deceit *ic+edness bac+biters detractors hateful to God s#iteful
#roud #uffed u# devisers of "ischief disobedient to their #arents senseless disordered *ithout
"ercy *ithout affection *ho *hen they had +no*n the =ustice of God understood not that they *ho
co""it such things are *orthy of death.
'&. And no* *hat one of the aforesaid sort hath indeed been void of all theseI And if he *ere yet
#erha#s he "ay be caught in the sense of the ensuing sentence *herein he saith( :Fot only those *ho
do these things but those also *ho consent unto the"< for none of the" truly are free fro" this
*ic+edness. And after*ards :But thou according to thy hardness and i"#enitent heart cost lay u# for
thyself *rath against the day of *rath and revelation of the =ust =udg"ent of God *ho *ill yield unto
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On the Ruin of Britain
every one according unto his *or+s.< And again :For there is no acce#tation of #ersons *ith God. For
*hosoever have offended *ithout the la* shall also *ithout the la* #erish> *hosoever have offended
in the la* shall by the la* be =udged. For the hearers of the la* shall not *ith God be accounted =ust
but the doers of the la* shall be =ustified.< Ho* severe a sentence shall they therefore sustain *ho not
only leave undone *hat they ought to acco"#lish and forbear not *hat they are forbidden but also
flee a*ay fro" the very hearing of the *ord of God as fro" a ser#ent though lightly sounding in their
ears.
''. But let us #ass over to that *hich follo*eth to this effect( :;hat shall *e therefore say shall
*e continue still in sin that grace "ay aboundI God forbid for *e *ho are dead to sin ho* shall *e
again live in the sa"eI< And so"e*hat after*ards :;ho shall se#arate us< saith he :fro" the love of
&hrist tribulation or distress or #ersecution or fa"ine or na+edness or danger or the s*ordI< ;hat
one - #ray you of all you shall *ith such an affection be #ossessed in the in*ard secret of his heart
since ye do not only labour for achieving of #iety but also endure "any things for the *or+ing of
i"#iety and offending of &hristI Or *ho hath res#ected this that follo*ethI :The night hath #assed
and the day a##roached. 4et us therefore cast off the *or+s of dar+ness and #ut on the ar"our of light
even as in the day( let us honestly *al+ not in ban?ueting and drun+enness not in couches and
*antonness not in contention and e"ulation> but #ut ye on our 4ord Jesus &hrist and "a+e no care to
besto* your flesh in concu#iscences.<
()). And again in the first /#istle to the &orinthians he saith( :As a *ise *or+"aster have - laid
the foundation another buildeth thereu#on but let every "an consider ho* he buildeth thereon. For no
other "an can lay any other foundation besides that *hich is laid even &hrist Jesus. But if any "an
buildeth u#on this gold and silver #recious stones hay *ood stubble every one8s *or+ shall be
"anifest> for the day of our 4ord shall declare the sa"e because it shall be revealed in fire and the fire
shall #rove *hat every "an8s *or+ is. -f any "an8s *or+ shall re"ain all by the fire shall be ad=udged.
;hoso shall build thereu#on shall receive re*ard. -f any "an8s *or+ shall burn he shall suffer
detri"ent. Ono* ye not that ye are the te"#le of God and that the 1#irit of God d*elleth in youI But
if any "an violate the te"#le of God God *ill destroy hi".< And again :-f any "an see"eth to be
*ise a"ong you in this *orld let hi" be "ade a fool that he "ay beco"e *ise. For the *isdo" of this
*orld is foolishness *ith God.< And *ithin a fe* *ords after*ards :2our glorying is not good. Ono*
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ye not that a little leaven corru#teth the *hole "assI $urge ye therefore the old leaven that ye "ay be
a ne* s#rin+ling.< Ho* shall the old leaven *hich is sin be #urged a*ay that fro" day to day *ith
your utter"ost endeavours is increasedI And yet again :- have *ritten unto you in "ine e#istle that ye
be not inter"ingled *ith fornicators not truly the fornicators of this *orld or the avaricious ravenous
or idolatrous other*ise ye ought to de#art out of this *orld. But no* have - *ritten unto you that ye
be not inter"ingled if any one is na"ed a brother and be a fornicator or avaricious or an idolator or a
slanderer or a drun+ard or ravenous *ith such an one ye should not so "uch as eat.< But a felon
conde"neth not his fello* thief for stealing or other o#en robbery *ho" he rather li+eth defendeth
and loveth as a co"#anion of his offence.
()(. Also in his second e#istle unto the &orinthians> :Having therefore< saith he :this
ad"inistration according as *e have obtained "ercy let us not fail but let us cast a*ay the secrets of
sha"e not *al+ing in subtility nor yet corru#ting the *ord of God< Gthat is by evil e!a"#le and
flattery.H And in that *hich follo*eth he thus discourseth of *ic+ed teachers saying( :For such false
a#ostles are deceitful *or+"en transfiguring the"selves into the a#ostles of &hrist. And no *onder(
for 1atan hi"self transfigureth hi"self into an angel of light. -t is not "uch therefore if his "inisters
are transfigured as "inisters of =ustice *hose end *ill be according unto their *or+s.<
()2. Hear li+e*ise *hat he s#ea+eth unto the /#hesians> and consider if ye find not your
consciences attainted as cul#able of this that follo*ethI *here he denounceth thus( :- say and testify
this in our 4ord that ye do not as no* *al+ li+e the Gentiles in the vanity of their o*n sense having
their understanding obscured *ith dar+ness alienated fro" the *ay of God through ignorance *hich
re"aineth in the" in regard of the blindness of their heart *ho des#airing have yielded the"selves
over to uncleanness of life for the *or+ing of all filthiness and avarice.< And *hich of ye hath
*illingly fulfilled that *hich ne!t ensuethI :Therefore be ye not "ade un*ise but understanding *hat
is the *ill of God and be ye not drun+ *ith *ine *herein there is riotousness but be ye fulfilled *ith
the Holy Ghost.<
()". Or that *hich he saith to the Thessalonians. :For neither have *e been *ith you at any ti"e
in the s#eech of flattery as yourselves do +no*> neither u#on occasion of avarice neither see+ing to be
glorified by "en neither by you nor any others *hen *e "ight be honoured as other a#ostles of
&hrist. But *e have been "ade as little ones in the "idst of you> or even as the nurse cherisheth her
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On the Ruin of Britain
s"all tender children so desiring you *e *ould very gladly deliver unto you not only the gos#el but
also our very lives.< -f in all things ye retained this affection of the a#ostle then "ight ye be li+e*ise
assured that ye la*fully #ossessed his chair. Or ho* have ye observed this that follo*ethI :2e +no*<
saith he :*hat #rece#ts - have delivered unto you. This is the *ill of our 4ord your sanctification that
ye abstain fro" fornication> and that every one of you +no* ho* to #ossess his o*n vessel in honour
and sanctification not in the #assion of desire li+e the Gentiles *ho are ignorant of God> and that none
of you do encroach u#on or circu"vent his brother in his business because our 4ord is the revenger of
all these. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness but unto sanctification. Therefore *hoso
des#iseth these doth not des#ise "an but God.< ;hat one also a"ong you hath advisedly and *arily
+e#t this that ensueth( :9ortify therefore your "e"bers *hich are u#on the earth fornication
uncleanness of life lust and evil concu#iscence for *hich the *rath of God hath co"e u#on the
children of diffidenceI< 2e #erceive therefore u#on *hat offences the *rath of God doth chiefly arise.
()*. -n *hich res#ect hear li+e*ise *hat the sa"e holy a#ostle *ith a #ro#hetical s#irit
foretelleth of you and such as yourselves *riting #lainly in this sort to Ti"othy( :For +no* you this
that in the last days there shall be dangerous ti"es at hand. For "en shall be self'lovers covetous
#uffed u# #roud blas#he"ous disobedient to their #arents ungrateful *ic+ed *ithout affection
incontinent un"ee+ *ithout benignity betrayers fro*ard lofty rather lovers of sensual #leasures
than of God having a sho* of #iety but renouncing the virtue thereof.< Avoid thou these "en even as
the #ro#het saith( :- have hated the congregation of the "alicious and *ith the *ic+ed - *ill not sit.<
And a little after he uttereth that G*hich in our age *e behold to increaseH saying( :/ver learning and
never attaining unto the +no*ledge of truth> for even as Jannes and 9a"bres resisted 9oses so do
these also *ithstand the truth( "en corru#ted in "ind re#robate against faith but they shall #ros#er no
further> for their folly shall be "anifest unto all as theirs li+e*ise *as.<
()#. And evidently doth he also declare ho* #riests in their office ought to behave the"selves
*riting thus to Titus( :1ho* thyself an e!a"#le of good *or+s in learning in integrity in gravity
having thy *ord sound *ithout offence that he *ho standeth on the adverse #art "ay be afraid having
no evil to s#ea+ of us.< And "oreover he saith unto Ti"othy :4abour thou as a good soldier of &hrist
Jesus> no "an fighting in God8s ?uarrel entangleth hi"self in *orldly business that he "ay #lease hi"
unto *ho" he hath a##roved hi"self> for *hoso striveth in the lists for the "astery receiveth not the
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Gildas
cro*n unless he hath la*fully contended.< This is his e!hortation to the good. Other "atter also *hich
the sa"e e#istles contain is a threatening advertise"ent to the *ic+ed Gsuch as yourselves in the
=udg"ent of all understanding #ersons a##ear to beH. :-f any one< saith he :teacheth other*ise and
doth not #eaceably assent to the sound sayings of our 4ord Jesus &hrist and that doctrine *hich is
according to #iety he is #roud having no +no*ledge but languishing about ?uestions and contentions
of *ords out of *hich do s#ring envies debates blas#he"ies evil sus#icions conflicts of "en
corru#ted in "ind *ho are de#rived of truth estee"ing co""odity to be #iety.<
()$. But *hy in using these testi"onies here and there dis#ersed are *e any longer as it *ere
tossed u# and do*n in the silly boat of our si"#le understanding on the *aves of sundry
inter#retationsI ;e have no* therefore at length thought it necessary to have recourse to those
lessons
56
*hich are gathered out of Holy 1cri#tures to the end that they should not only be rehearsed
but also be assenting and assisting unto the benediction *here*ith the hands of #riests and others of
inferior sacred orders are first consecrated and that thereby they "ay continually be *arned never by
degenerating fro" their #riestly dignity to digress fro" the co""and"ents *hich are faithfully
contained in the sa"e> so as it "ay be #lain and a##arent unto all that everlasting tor"ents are
reserved for the" and that they are not #riests or the servants of God *ho do not *ith their ut"ost
#o*er follo* and fulfil the instructions and #rece#ts. ;herefore let us hear *hat the #rince of the
a#ostles 1aint $eter hath signified about this so *eighty a "atter saying( :Blessed be God and the
Father of our 4ord Jesus &hrist *ho through his "ercy hath regenerated us into the ho#e of eternal
life by the resurrection of our 4ord Jesus &hrist fro" the dead into an inheritance *hich can never
corru#t never *ither neither be defiled #reserved in heaven for you *ho are +e#t in the virtue of
God>< *hy then do ye fondly violate such an inheritance *hich is not as an earthly one transitory but
i""ortal and eternalI And so"e*hat after*ards( :For *hich cause be ye girded in the loins of your
"ind sober #erfectly ho#ing in that grace *hich is offered to you in the revelation of Jesus &hrist(<
e!a"ine ye no* the de#ths of your hearts *hether ye be sober and do #erfectly #reserve the grace of
#riesthood *hich shall be duly discussed and decided in the revelation of our 4ord. And again he saith(
:As children of the benediction not configuring yourselves to those for"er desires of your ignorance>
but according unto hi" *ho hath called you holy be ye also holy in all conversation. For *hich cause
it is *ritten Be ye holy because - a" holy.< ;hich one of you - #ray hath *ith his *hole "ind so
56 Gildas in this and the follo*ing section evidently alludes to the Ordination Ritual of the Ancient British &hurch.
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On the Ruin of Britain
#ursued sanctity that he hath earnestly hastened as "uch as in hi" lay to fulfil the sa"eI But let us
behold *hat in the second lesson of the sa"e a#ostle is contained( :9y dearest< saith he :sanctify
your souls for the obedience of faith through the 1#irit in charity in brotherhood loving one another
out of a true heart #er#etually as born again not of corru#tible seed but of incorru#tible through the
*ord of God living and re"aining for ever.<
()%. These are truly the co""and"ents of the a#ostle> and read in the day of your ordination to
the end ye should inviolably observe the sa"e but they are not fulfilled by you in discretion and
=udg"ent nay not so "uch as duly considered or understood. And after*ards( :4aying therefore aside
all "alice and all deceits and disse"blings envy and detractions as infants ne*ly born reasonable
and *ithout guile covet ye "il+ that ye "ay thereby gro* to salvation because our 4ord is s*eet.<
&onsider ye also in your "inds if these sayings *hich have sounded in your deaf ears have not often
li+e*ise been trodden by you under foot( and again( :2e truly are the chosen lineage the royal
#riesthood the holy nation the #eo#le for ado#tion that ye "ay declare his virtues *ho hath called you
out of dar+ness into his "arvellous light.< But truly by you are not only the virtues of God not declared
and "ade "ore glorious but also through your *ic+ed e!a"#les are they Gby such as have not #erfect
beliefH des#ised. 2e have #erchance at the sa"e ti"e li+e*ise heard *hat is read in the lesson of the
Acts on this *ise( :$eter arising in the "idst of the disci#les said( 9en and brethren it is e!#edient
that the 1cri#ture be fulfilled *hich the Holy Ghost hath by the "outh of %avid foretold of Judas.<
And a little after( :This "an therefore #urchased a field of the re*ard of ini?uity.< This have ye heard
*ith a careless or rather bloc+ish heart as though the reading thereof nothing at all a##ertained unto
yourselves. ;hat one of you G- #ray youH doth not see+ the field of the re*ard of ini?uityI For Judas
robbed and #illaged the #urse and ye s#oil and *aste the sacred gifts and treasures of the church
together *ith the souls of her children. He *ent to the Je*s to "a+e a "ar+et of God ye #ass to the
tyrants and their father the devil that ye "ay des#ise &hrist. He set to sale the 1aviour of the *orld for
thirty #ence and you do so even for one #oor half'#enny.
()&. ;hat need "any *ordsI The e!a"#le of 9atthias is a##arently laid before you for your
confusion *ho *as chosen into his #lace not by his o*n #ro#er *ill but by the election of the holy
a#ostles or rather the =udg"ent of &hrist *hereat ye being blinded do not #erceive ho* far ye run
astray fro" his "erits *hile ye fall *ilfully and headlong into the "anners and affection of Judas the
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traitor. -t is therefore "anifest that he *ho *ittingly fro" his heart ter"eth you #riests is not hi"self a
true and *orthy &hristian. And no* - *ill assuredly s#ea+ *hat - thin+( this re#rehension "ight have
been fra"ed after a "ilder fashion but *hat availeth it to touch only *ith the hand or dress *ith
gentle oint"ent that *ound *hich *ith i"#osthu"ation or stin+ing corru#tion is no* gro*n so
horrible that it re?uireth the searing iron or the ordinary hel# of the fire if ha##ily by any "eans it
"ay be cured the diseased in the "ean*hile not see+ing a "edicine and the #hysician "uch erring
fro" a rightful re"edyI O ye ene"ies of God and not #riestsD O ye traders of *ic+edness and not
bisho#sD O ye betrayers and not successors of the holy a#ostlesD O ye adversaries and not servants of
&hristD 2e have certainly heard at the least the sound of the *ords *hich are in the second lesson
ta+en out of the a#ostle 1aint $aul although ye have no *ay observed the ad"onitions and virtue of
the" but even as statues Gthat neither see nor hearH stood that day at the altar *hile both then and
continually since he hath thundered in your ears saying( :Brethren it is a faithful s#eech and *orthy
of all acce#tance.< He called it faithful and *orthy but ye have des#ised it as unfaithful and un*orthy.
:-f any "an desireth a bisho#ric he desireth a good *or+.< 2e do "ightily covet a bisho#ric in res#ect
of avarice but not for s#iritual convenience and for the good *or+ *hich is suitable to the #lace ye
*ant it. :-t behoveth therefore such a one to be free fro" all cause of re#rehension.< At this saying *e
have "ore need to shed tears than utter *ords> for it is as "uch as if the a#ostle had said he ought to be
of all others "ost free fro" occasion of rebu+e. :The husband of one *ife< *hich is li+e*ise so
conde"ned a"ong us as if that *ord had never #roceeded fro" hi"> :1ober *ise>< yea *hich of ye
hath once desired to have these virtues engrafted in hi" :using hos#itality.< For this if #erchance it
hath been found a"ong you yet being nevertheless rather done to #urchase the favour of the #eo#le
than to acco"#lish the co""and"ent it is of no avail our 4ord and 1aviour saying thus( :@erily - say
unto you they have received their re*ard.< 9oreover :A "an adorned not given to *ine> no fighter
but "odest> not contentious not covetous(< O la"entable changeD O horrible conte"#t of the heavenly
co""and"entsD And do ye not continually use the force of your *ords and actions for the
overthro*ing or rather over*hel"ing of these for *hose defence and confir"ation if need had
re?uired ye ought to have suffered #ains yea and to have lost your very lives.
()'. But let us see *hat follo*eth( :;ell governing< saith he :his house having his children
sub=ected *ith all chastity.< -"#erfect therefore is the chastity of the #arents if the children be not also
endued *ith the sa"e. But ho* shall it be *here neither the father nor the son de#raved by the
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On the Ruin of Britain
e!a"#le of his evil #arent is found to be chasteI :But if any one +no*eth not ho* to rule over his o*n
house ho* shall he e"#loy his care over the church of GodI< These are the *ords that *ith a##arent
effects should be "ade good and a##roved. :%eacons in li+e "anner that they should be chaste not
doubled tongued not overgiven to "uch *ine not follo*ers of filthy gain having the "ystery of faith
in a #reconscience and let these also be first a##roved and so let the" ad"inister having no offence.<
And no* tre"bling truly to "a+e any longer stay on these "atters - can for a conclusion affir" one
thing certainly *hich is that all these are changed into contrary actions in so "uch that cler+s G*hich
not *ithout grief of heart - here confessH are sha"eless and deceitful in their s#eeches given to
drin+ing covetous of filthy lucre having faith Gor to say "ore trulyH unfaithfulness in an i"#ure
conscience "inistering not u#on #robation of their good *or+s but u#on fore+no*ledge of their evil
actions and being thus defiled *ith innu"erable offences they are not*ithstanding ad"itted unto the
holy office> ye have li+e*ise heard on the sa"e day G*herein ye should *ith far "ore right and reason
have been dra*n to #rison or #unish"ent than #referred unto #riesthoodH *hen our 4ord de"anded
*ho" his disci#les su##osed hi" to be ho* $eter ans*ered :Thou art &hrist the 1on of the living
God>< and our 4ord in res#ect of such his confession said unto hi"( :Blessed art thou 1i"on Bar'
=onas because flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but "y Father *ho is in heaven.< $eter
therefore instructed by God the Father did rightly confess &hrist> but ye being taught by the devil your
father do *ith your le*d actions *ic+edly deny our 1aviour. -t is said to the true #riest :Thou art
$eter and u#on this roc+ *ill - build "y church(< but ye rese"bled :the foolish "an *ho hath builded
his house u#on the sand.< And verily it is to be noted that God =oineth not in the *or+"anshi# *ith the
un*ise *hen they build their house u#on the deceitful uncertainty of the sands according unto that
saying( :They have "ade +ings unto the"selves and not by "e.< 1i"ilarly that G*hich follo*ethH
soundeth in li+e sort s#ea+ing thus( :And the gates of hell G*hereby infernal sins are to be understoodH
shall not #revail.< But of your frail and deadly fra"e "ar+ *hat is #ronounced( :The floods ca"e and
the *inds ble* and dashed u#on that house and it fell and great *as the ruin thereof.< To $eter and his
successors our 4ord doth say :And - *ill give unto thee the +eys of the +ingdo" of heaven.< But unto
you :- +no* you not de#art fro" "e all ye *or+ers of ini?uity< that being se#arated *ith the goats of
the left hand ye "ay together *ith the" go into eternal fire. -t is also #ro"ised unto every good #riest
:;hatsoever thou shalt loose u#on earth shall be li+e*ise loosed in heaven( and *hatsoever thou shalt
bind u#on earth shall be in li+e sort bound in heaven.< But ho* shall ye loose any thing that it "ay be
K5
Gildas
loosed also in heaven since yourselves for your sins are severed fro" heaven and ha"#ered in the
bands of your o*n heinous offences as 1olo"on saith :;ith the cords of his sins every one is tiedI<
And *ith *hat reason shall ye bind any thing on this earth that above this *orld "ay be li+e*ise
bound unless it be your only selves *ho entangled in your ini?uities are so detained on this earth
that ye cannot ascend into heaven but *ithout your conversion unto our 4ord in this life *ill fall do*n
into the "iserable #rison of hellI
((). Feither yet let any #riest flatter hi"self u#on the +no*ledge of the #articular cleanness of his
o*n body since their souls Gover *ho" he hath govern"entH shall in the day of =udg"ent be re?uired
at his hands as the "urderer of the" if any through his ignorance sloth or fa*ning adulation have
#erished because the stro+e of death is not less terrible that is given by a good "an than that *hich is
inflicted by an evil #erson> other*ise *ould the a#ostle never have said that *hich he left unto his
successors as a fatherly legacy :- a" clear and clean fro" the blood of all( for - have not forborne to
declare unto you all the counsel of God.< Being therefore "ightily drun+en *ith the use and custo" of
sins and e!tre"ely over*hel"ed *ith the *aves Gas it *ereH of increasing offences see+ ye no*
forth*ith the utter"ost endeavours of your "inds Gafter this your shi#*rec+H that one #lan+ of
re#entance *hich is left *hereby ye "ay esca#e and s*i" to the land of the living that fro" you "ay
be turned a*ay the *rath of our 4ord *ho saith :- *ill not the death of a sinner( but that he "ay be
converted and live.< And "ay the sa"e Al"ighty God of all consolation and "ercy #reserve his fe*
good #astors fro" all evil and Gthe co""on ene"y being overco"eH "a+e the" free inhabitants of the
heavenly city of Jerusale" *hich is the congregation of all saints> grant this O Father 1on and Holy
Ghost to *ho" be honour and glory *orld *ithout end. A"en.
K,

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