Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/164

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him for three whole years; so that when he was dead in all his lower extremities, his upper and vital members, spared to show his patience and virtue, were employed in the midst of his sufferings in giving thanks to the Author of his being, in praises to God, and exhortations to the brethren. He urged the brethren, when they came to see him, to observe the rule which he had given them. "For," said he, "you cannot suppose that it was my own untaught heart which dictated this rule to you. I learnt it from seventeen monasteries, which I saw during my travels, and most approved of, and I copied these institutions thence for your benefit." The large and noble library, which he had brought from Rome, and which was necessary for the edification of his church, he commanded to be kept entire, and neither by neglect to be injured or dispersed. But on one point he was most solicitous, in choosing an abbot, lest high birth, and not rather probity of life and doctrine, should be attended to. "And I tell you of a truth," said he, "in the choice of two evils, it would be much more tolerable for me, if God so pleased, that this place, wherein I have built the monastery, should for ever become a desert, than that my carnal brother, who, as we know, walks not in the way of truth, should become abbot, and succeed me in its government. Wherefore, my brethren, beware, and never choose an abbot on account of his birth, nor from any foreign place; but seek out, according to the rule of Abbot Benedict the Great, and the decrees of our order, with common consent, from amongst your own company, whomever in virtue of life and wisdom of doctrine may be found fittest for this office; and whomsoever you shall, by this unanimous inquiry of Christian charity, prefer and choose, let him be made abbot with the customary blessings, in presence of the bishop. For those who after the flesh beget children of the flesh, must necessarily seek fleshly and earthly heirs to their fleshly and earthly inheritance; but those who by the