Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/217

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145
OF VENERABLE BEDE.

burden of the whole Israelitish people, moved by Divine inspiration, appointed and consecrated seventy Elders, whose aid and counsel might aid him in discharging his heavy duties. Who is there that does not see how much better it would be to divide the weighty load of ecclesiastical rule among several, who can the more easily bear each his portion, than for the whole weight to be laid on one,—a burden greater than he can bear? Pope Gregory's letter to St Augustine ordains twelve bishoprics, under the the see of York. For the holy Pope Gregory, in his letters to the blessed Arch bishop Augustine concerning the faith of our nation, which was still future and required their exertions to sustain it, ordered him to ordain twelve bishops therein, as soon as they should have embraced the faith, and that the Bishop of York should receive the pallium from the Apostolic See, and become their metropolitan. Wherefore, holy Father, I would wish that you should, under the holy guidance of the above-named king, whom God loveth, endeavour, to the best of your judgment, to make this number of bishops complete, in order that the number of ministers may abound, and the church of Christ be the more fully instructed in those things which pertain to the duties of our holy religion. And, indeed, we know that, by the negligence and foolish donations of preceding-kings, it is not easy to find a vacant place where a new episcopal see may be erected.

§ 10. I should therefore consider it expedient,He recomends a general council for the creation of episopal sees. that a general council should be held, and the consent both of kings and bishops be obtained, that, by a proclamation, a place may be provided among the monasteries, where an episcopal see may be created. And, lest any abbot or monks may endeavour to contravene or oppose this decree, licence should be given them to choose some one from among themselves to be ordained bishop, and to rule with episcopal authority, over the adjoining country belonging to the same diocese, as well as the monastery itself: or, if no one can be found in that monastery fit to be ordained bishop, yet that it shall depend upon their