It is well known that there are four kinds of Monks.
The first are Cenobites, that is Monastic, living under a Rule or Abbot.
The second are Anchorets or Hermits, who, not in the first fervour of conversion, but after long probation in the monastic life, have learnt to fight against the devil, and taught by the encouragement of others, are now able by God’s assistance to strive hand to hand against the flesh and evil thoughts, and so go forth well prepared, from the army of the Brotherhood, to the single combat of the wilderness.
The third and worst kind of Monks are the Sarabites, who have never been tried under any Rule, nor by the experience of a master, as gold is tried in the furnace, but being soft as lead, and by their works still cleaving to the world, are known by their tonsure to lie to God. These in twos or threes, or perhaps singly, and without a shepherd, are shut up, not in our Lord’s sheepfolds, but in their own: the pleasure of their desires is to them a law; and whatever they like or make choice of, they will have to be holy, but what they like not, that they consider unlawful.
The fourth kind of Monks are called “Gyrovagi,” or wanderers, who travel about all their lives through divers provinces, and stay for two or three days as guests, first in one monastery, then in another; they are always roving, and never settled, giving themselves up altogether to their own pleasures and to the enticements of gluttony, and are in all things worse that the Sarabites. Of their miserable way of life it is better to be silent than to speak. Therefore leaving these, let us, by God’s assistance, set down a Rule for Cenobites, or Conventuals, who are the most steadfast class of Monks.