Volume 3: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!


Monk, a person who wholly dedicates himself to the service of religion, in some monastery, under the direction of some particular statutes and rules.

The most probable account of the original of the monks is, that in the Decian persecution, in the middle of the IIId century, maany persons in Egypt, to avoid the fury of the storm, fled to the neighbouring desarts and mountains, where they not only found a safe retreat, but also more time and liberty to exercise themselves in acts of piety and divine contemplations; which sort of life became so agreeable, that when the persecution was over, they refused to return to their habitations again, chusing rather to continue in those cottages and cells, which they had made for themselves in the wilderness. From that time to the reign of Constantine, monachism was confined to the hermits or anachorets, who lived in private cells in the wilderness; but when Pachomius had erected monasteries, other countries presently followed the example.

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