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from Pope Innocent. This surrender of the ancient privilege of their church, which they had hitherto jealously preserved, is a striking testimony to the power he personally wielded.
Having thus successfully striven to compose the dissensions and heal the wounds of the Church in Italy, Bernard set out on his return to Clairvaux, of which he had seen but little in four busy years. The news of his coming spread before him; and on his crossing the Alps, crowds of shepherds and peasants came down from their heights to greet him, and receive his blessing (1135). Soon after his arrival at Clairvaux, he undertook the rebuilding of the monastery, which was no longer capable of containing the numbers who sought admission within its walls. At first he felt a natural hesitation. "Remember," he said to his monks, "remember the labour and cost of our present house; with what infinite pains did we at last succeed in constructing the aqueducts which supply our offices and workshops with water; and what will be said of us if we now destroy our own work? We shall be counted fools, and rightly, for we have no money. Let us not forget the warning of the Gospel, that 'he who would build a tower, must first sit down and count the cost.'" The brethren replied :—" You must either repulse those who are sent to you by God, or you must build lodgings for them; and surely it would be a miserable thing if through fear of the expense we opposed any obstacles to the development of God's work." This consideration decided him; and the labour of building was begun. Abundant offerings poured in from all parts. Many labourers were hired; many gave their services without payment. The monks themselves plied axe and hammer lustily; while some squared the stone, others felled the timber, and others raised the walls. The waters of the river were distributed into several channels, which were made to feed the various mills. "The fullers and the millers, the tanners and the carpenters, and other artificers erected the machines and appliances necessary to their respective trades; and the obedient water, brought by subterranean pipes throughout the offices, afforded a plentiful and gushing spring wherever it was wanted. At last, having fulfilled its various duties, it retired to its original bed,
and swelled to its ancient size. The walls were completed with unexpected celerity, enclosing the whole extent of the spacious monastery. The abbey rose from the earth; and, as if animated by a spirit of life, the new church seemed to grow and increase."1
Bernard was soon called from his peaceful duties at Clairvaux to act again on a wider stage. Gerard, Bishop of Angouleme, had been employed by several popes as legate for Aquitaine and the adjoining provinces of Spain. When the schism took place, he espoused the cause of Innocent; but that pope having refused to renew his legation, he joined the party of Anacletus, and was rewarded with a fresh commission. In his efforts to engage the support of Henry of England, and of the princes of Spain and Brittany, for Anacletus, he had failed; but he was more successful with William IX., Count of Aquitaine, and, with his consent and assistance, he filled the see of Bourges, and various abbacies and benefices, with his own partisans, men whose sole recommendation was that of noble birth. The learned and devout Geoffrey, Bishop of Chartres, was Pope Innocent's legate, and he now applied to Bernard to join him in reclaiming Count William from the error of his ways. They all met at Parthenay, where Bernard found it easy to engage the Count in the cause of Innocent, as he neither understood the merits of the dispute, nor cared for one competitor more than the other; but he found him resolute not to restore the bishops and abbots ejected by Gerard, protesting that they had deeply offended him, and moreover that he had solemnly sworn never to forgive them. Bernard abandoned all attempt at argument, and repaired to the church to celebrate mass. The Count, as a schismatic and excommunicate, durst not assist at the ceremony, and remained standing outside the door; until Bernard came forth with a stern countenance, and flashing eyes, and an air of solemn command which had in it something more than human.2 Holding the consecrated host in his hands, he addressed the Count in awful words: "Often have we solicited thee, and thou hast treated us, the servants of God, with contempt. Lo, here cometh to thee the Blessed
1 J. C. Morison, " Life and Times of S. Bernard," pp. 188, 189.
2 "Jam non se agens ut hominem."—S. Bernard, ii. 38.
Son of the Virgin, He Who is the Head and the Lord of the Church which thou persecutest. Behold thy Judge, at Whose Name every knee is bowed both in heaven and in earth, the Judge into Whose hands thou must one day surrender thy soul. Wilt thou reject Him too, as thou hast rejected His servants?" A breathless silence fell upon the spectators, who, with tears, and with inward prayer, awaited some miraculous sign from heaven. Overpowered by Bernard's enthusiasm, and believing that in his hands at that very moment rested his Lord and Judge, the Count, stricken in every limb, fell suddenly to the ground. His knights hastened to lift him up, but he could neither see nor speak, and foaming at the mouth, he again fell with his face upon the grass. Bernard then approached, touched him with his foot, and bade him arise and receive the command of God. "Here," he said, "is the Bishop of Poitiers, whom you have driven from his church; go and be reconciled to him with the kiss of peace. Lead him back to the episcopal throne from which you wrongfully expelled him. Give glory to God instead of contumely, and exhort all the separatists in your dominions to return to the unity of the Church." The Count could not speak, but he heard and obeyed; and Bernard's mission was fulfilled. Bishop Gerard of Angouleme, it is true, persisted in his schism; but he was soon afterwards found lifeless in his bed, having died excommunicate, and without the last Sacraments.
Bernard once more returned to Clairvaux; where, in a bower garlanded by wreaths of pease-blossoms, erected in the most secluded angle of the Bright Valley, he gave himself up for hours to meditation on divine things. To the monks he preached daily or almost daily; at morning, noon, or evening, as his own avocations or those of the monks permitted; always with a fervid eloquence and a profound earnestness that touched the souls of his hearers. It was at this time he composed and delivered his famous sermons on the Canticles; making that mystic book the text of his discourse, because he was so deeply convinced of the force of divine love as a motive of action. We have space only for a few brief extracts.
"Remember that no spirit can by itself reach unto our minds, that is, supposing it to have no assistance from our body or its own. No spirit can so mingle with us, and be poured into us, that we become in consequence either good or learned. No angel, no spirit can comprehend me; none can I comprehend in this manner. Even angels themselves cannot seize each other's thoughts, without bodily organs. This prerogative is reserved for the highest, the unbounded Spirit, Who alone, when He imparts knowledge either to angel or man, needs not that we should have ears to hear, or that we should have a mouth to speak. By Himself He is poured in; by Himself He is made manifest. Pure Himself, He is understood by the pure. He alone needs nothing; alone is sufficient to Himself and to all by His sole omnipotent will."
"I must not pass over in silence those spiritual feet of God, which, in the first place, it behoves the penitent to kiss in a spiritual manner. I well know your curiosity, which does not willingly allow anything obscure to pass by it; nor indeed is it a contemptible thing to know what are those feet which the Scripture so frequently mentions in connection with God. Sometimes He is spoken of as standing on them, as 'We will worship in the place where Thy feet have stood.' Sometimes as walking, as * I will dwell in them and will walk in them.' Sometimes even as running, as ' He rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.' If it appear right to the Apostle to call the head of Christ God, it appears to me as not unnatural to consider His feet as representing Man; one of which I shall name mercy, and the other judgment. Those two words are known to you, and the Scripture repeats them in many places. On those feet, fitly moving under one divine head, Christ, born of a woman, He Who was invisible under the law, then made Emmanuel (' God with us'), was seen on the earth, and conversed with men."
"As regards creatures devoid of sense and reason, who can doubt that God needs them much less? but when they concur in the performance of a good work, then it appears how all things serve Him Who can justly say: 'The world is Mine, and the fulness thereof.' Assuredly, seeing that He knows the means best adapted to ends, He does not in the service of His creatures seek efficacy, but suitability."
The repute of his eloquence as well as of his sanctity drew men from all parts of Christendom to the leafy shades and secret tranquillity of Clairvaux. There they could find rest from action, and peace in a world of tumult, and by the holy example of the man of God could confirm themselves in their feeble endeavour after the truth. They felt emotions never felt before, and were conscious of thoughts such as had never before elevated their minds, while they listened to the flood of glowing words that poured from his hallowed lips, or marked the purity and devotion of his daily life. But for Bernard himself there was neither rest nor tranquillity. The Church depended for its right government on the monk of Clairvaux. And not only was his advice urgently requested by bishops, and abbots and ecclesiastics of all ranks, but by princes and rulers, who desired the benefit of his calm judgment and penetrating sagacity. He was equal to every need. His counsel always suited the occasion, and was always what the applicant had required. He could direct the Head of the Church, reprove an archbishop, or give sound advice to a young abbot. Nowhere does he appear to greater advantage than in his frank and cordial letters to his humbler correspondents, and from this advice to the young abbot we gladly quote some admirable sentences, which show that the Monk of Clairvaux was a man of wide sympathies as well as of masculine intelligence.
"Do not," he says, "put forward the empty excuse of your rawness or want of experience; for barren modesty is more pleasing, nor is that humility praiseworthy which passes the bounds of moderation. Attend to your work; drive out bashfulness by a sense of duty, and act as a master. You are young, yet you are a debtor; you must know you were a debtor from the day you were bound. Will youth be an excuse to a creditor for the loss of his profits? Does the usurer expect no interest at the beginning of his loan? But, say you, I am not sufficient for these things. As if your offering were not accepted from what you have, and not from what you have not! Be prepared to answer for the single talent committed to your charge, and take no thought for the rest. 'If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little.' For he that is unjust in the