Imagens da página

energies to denounce the sacrilegious disturber of the Church's peace. He addressed impassioned appeals to the Pope, and Cardinals, against his several monstrous errors and his general hostility to the established faith. He agreed to confront him openly1 at a council which the Archbishop of Sens had summoned to meet in his archiepiscopal city, on the occasion of the translation of the relics of its patronsaint, (Whitsuntide, 1140.) The King of France was present, and a great number of bishops and ecclesiastics; and thither went Abelard with a long retinue of disciples, and Bernard attended only by two or three monks. The two foremost men of the age, the representatives of the two great antagonistic schools of thought, stood face to face, and began that obstinate contention between Religion and Science, which even in our own time has not come to a termination. The first day of the council was occupied in the inspection and adoration of the sacred relics. On the second the question of Abelard's heresies was taken up. The king, girt round by his knights and nobles, and the Archbishop of Sens, attended by his suffragans, in full pontifical pomp, met in S. Stephen's Church. Between the double row of warriors and courtiers, bishops, priests, and monks, the famous scholar strode into the centre of the sacred building. There, opposite to him, in a pulpit, which existed down to the epoch of the French Revolution, stood the Abbot of Clairvaux, the one man whose influence extended over a wider world than his own. He held in his hand the incriminated book of Abelard, and read, or caused to be read, the passages which he had marked as erroneous and dangerous. The reading had scarcely begun when Abelard, discouraged, it is supposed, by the hostile faces around him, or sensible of the overwhelming influence of his adversary, rose suddenly, and to the disappointment and surprise of the audience, appealed to the Pope. Such an appeal, before sentence, was unusual and contrary to the law of the Church; but the bishops remembered the depth of the Papal jealousy, and forbore to excite a prejudice in favour of the appellant by condemning his person. They continued,

1 At first, however, with reluctance, in the belief that he was no competent antagonist for a skilled dialectitian like Abelard, who had been "a man of war from his youth."

however, to discuss the propositions imputed to him, and fourteen out of the seventeen they pronounced heretical and false.1 This condemnation they reported to the Pope, requesting him to confirm it, and to prohibit Abelard from teaching; and Bernard wrote to the Pope and the Cardinals in similar terms. "His yet unpractised hearers," he says, "mere tyros, but newly weaned from the milk of logic, and as yet scarcely capable of receiving even the elements of the faith, he leads into the mysteries of the Holy Trinity, to that which, shrouded in darkness, hides itself from human eyes; and not only in the schools, but in the public places, and in the streets, the Catholic faith, the conception of the Virgin, the sacrament of the Altar, the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity, are made subjects for disputation, not for the learned alone, but for boys, for ignorant men, and for fools. He has taken measures also for transmitting his poisonous doctrines to posterity, to the injury of all future generations. The faith of the simple-minded is derided; the highest themes are degraded by bold and audacious questions; and our fathers are held up to laughter, and contempt, because they considered it wiser to dismiss these questions than to attempt their solution. There are no bounds to the presumption of human reason; it leaves nothing to faith,

1 Berenger of Poitiers, in his "Apology for Abelard," draws an amusing satirical picture of the conclave at Sens. It must not, of course, be accepted as even approximating to the truth. He treats Bernard as "a mere idol of the multitude, as a man gifted with a plentiful flow of words, but destitute of liberal culture and of solid abilities; as one who by the solemnity of his manner imposed the tritest truisms on his votaries as if they were profound oracles. He ridicules his reputation for miraculous power; he tells him that his proceedings against Abelard were prompted by a spirit of bigotry, jealousy, and vindictiveness, rendered more odious by his professions of sanctity and charity. Of the opinions imputed to his master, he maintains that some were never held by Abelard, and that the rest, if rightly interpreted, are true and catholic. The book, he says, was brought under consideration at Sens when the bishops had dined, and was read amidst their jests and laughter, while the wine was doing its work on them. Any expression which was above their understanding excited their rage and curses. As the reading went on, one after another became drowsy; and when they were asked whether they condemned his doctrines, they answered in their sleep without being able fully to pronounce their words."—Robertson, History of the Chrislia* Church, v. 119.

and wills that men should not see anything through a glass darkly, but all things face to face. Better had it been for him if, in accordance with the title of his work," (his treatise on Ethics entitled' Nosce Teipsum,') " he had known himself: for he treats of sin and virtue without moral rectitude; of the sacraments of the Church without faith; of the mystery of the Trinity without simplicity, and without unction."

Abelard found no favour at Rome. At Lyons, when on his way thither, he was met with the information that Innocent, without waiting for his defence, had condemned him absolutely, and sentenced him to seclusion in a monastery. In this sore strait he found a good Samaritan in the person of Peter, Abbot of Cluny, who, while he abhorred Abelard's heresies, admired his genius, respected his frankness, and pitied his misfortunes. He offered him an asylum at Cluny, which was gladly accepted; and there, with the sanction of the Pope, Abelard spent the few remaining years of his stormy life in repose. Through the good offices of the Abbots of Cluny and Citeaux he was reconciled to Bernard, and in a confession which he drew up, he expressed his acceptance of the Catholic faith, and disowned some of the doctrines imputed to him, "the words in part, and the meaning altogether." He died in 1142.

An eloquent writer, referring to Bernard's various works, pronounces him to be one of the great active minds of his age; commanding kings, compelling nations, swaying the minds of all with whom he came in contact; in a word, one of the statesmen of history. And certain it is that, had he never lived, the twelfth century, so far as we can judge, would have assumed a totally different aspect. It is now the fashion with the modern philosophical school to underrate the influence of a great man upon his age; yet the reality and extent of that influence is demonstrated by history itself. No doubt the power of a great man largely consists in this, that he represents and embodies the tendencies, intellectual and moral, of his time, and is its exponent as well as its director. Such was the case with S. Bernard, in whom we see the highest manifestation of the great need of the twelfth century, the need of a higher spiritual life, the need of a profounder recognition of the unstability of things human and the permanency of things divine. But while Bernard was a statesman, a ruler of men, an adviser of kings and princes, he was also, and pre-eminently, a monk. "He was, by intuition and inclination, a prayerful monk, doubtful and anxious about the state of his soul, striving to work out his salvation with fear and trembling here on earth. The highest good he knew of, the ideal of Christian faith as he had been taught it—this was what inflamed his heart, nerved his will, and braced his energies of mind and body to the extremest tension. To him and to his contemporaries this ideal was realised in the life of a pious monk. And a pious monk it was his desire above all things to be; that he failed to obtain the perfection at which he aimed, no one would have been more ready to acknowledge than himself. But that he also succeeded better than most, is proved by the almost concurrent testimony of his own and after ages."1

In a sketch like the present, however, we must necessarily regard him chiefly in those aspects of his character with which history deals; but we may record that, in 1142, he pronounced against the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, a dogma which has recently been accepted by the Roman Church as an article of faith. In the following year his immense influence was exerted in effecting a reconciliation between Louis VII. of France and Thibaut, Count of Champagne; and in procuring the deposition, by Pope Eugenius III.,3 of Archbishop William of York, whom he considered to have been wrongfully intruded into that see. We pass on to consider the illustrious Abbot in the last great work of his laborious life, in the part which he had in initiating and organising the Second Crusade. It was in December, 1144, that Zenghis, the Mohammedan prince of Mosul and Aleppo, made himself master of the Christian city of Edessa. Its capture was followed by a terrible massacre of the Christian inhabitants, which was checked by the command of Zenghis, and a number of captives were sold as slaves. Shortly afterwards Zenghis was assassinated; and during the absence of his son Noureddin, the Christians recovered Edessa through an agreement with the Armenian inhabitants. But they had held it

1 J. C. Morison, "Life and Times of S. Bernard," pp. 367, 368. 3 Eugenius III. was consecrated Pope on the 18th of February, 1145. only a few days, when Noureddin invested it with an overwhelming force, captured it with great slaughter, and after plundering it of everything valuable, razed it to the ground. That the city of King Abgarus, who was supposed to have been the honoured recipient of a letter from the SaViour Himself; the city where the miraculously-impressed image of the Saviour's countenance had for centuries been preserved, and had acted as a talisman and safeguard against the attacks of the infidel; that the city where the Apostle S. Thaddeus had preached, and where his remains and those of S. Thomas, the Apostle of the Indies, reposed in their consecrated shrines; that the city where the lamp of Christianity had burned with glorious lustre when all the rest of Syria lay in the darkness of Mohammedanism; that this city of precious memories and associations should have fallen into the hands of unbelievers, was a sore grief and trouble to Western Christendom. Moreover, the warriors of the Crescent were pressing forward with ruthless vigour, and the Latins, unless they were speedily succoured, would soon be driven out of the Holy Land. In these circumstances, Pope Eugenius resolved upon a new Crusade; and on the i st of December, 1i45, he addressed to the King, nobles, and people of France, a letter, calling upon them to take up the Cross, and engage in a Holy War.1 Louis VII., then in his twenty-second year, was by no means indisposed to gratify the Pope's wishes. The capture of Vitry, three years before, when a terrible massacre of the innocent population had taken place, rested heavily on his conscience. He felt himself partly bound by a promise which his brother Philip had been prevented from fulfilling; and, doubtlessly, he was also stimulated by a desire to emulate the achievements and rival the renown of the heroes of the First Crusade. At the Christmas festival of 1145, he summoned to

1 To those who responded to his appeal the Pope offered the same privileges which Urban II. had bestowed upon the first Crusaders: remission of sins for all directly engaged in the expedition; the protection of the Church for their families and property; no suits were to be brought against them until their return ; those who were in debt were released from payment of interest; while the possessors of fiefs were allowed to pledge them in order to raise money for defraying the costs of the war.—Robertson, v. 132.

« AnteriorContinuar »