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Moreover, the furniture of the schools, in the hands of a fine genius like Anselm, adorned with solid piety, and under the control of a good understanding, stemmed the torrent of profane infidelity, and ably supported the cause of godliness in the world. Roscelin was confuted, and the common orthodox doctrine of the Trinity upheld itself in the Church. What were the precise views of Roscelin will be better understood, when we come to introduce one of his scholars, the famous Peter Abelard to the reader's notice.
Anselm, weary of an empty title of dignity, and seeing no probability of being enabled to serve the Church in the archbishopric, entreated the Pope to give him leave to resign it, but in vain, Nor does he seem to have been justly chargeable with the display of an "ostentatious humility,” when he had first refused the promotion.* The integrity, with which he had acted, ever since that promotion had taken place, ought to have rescued him from the illiberal censure. “Rufus had detained in prison several persons, whom he had ordered to be freed during the time of his penitence ; he still preyed upon the ecclesiastical benefices; the sale of spiritual dignities continued as open as ever; and he kept possession of a considerable part of the revenues belonging to the See of Canterbury.” Was it a crime, or was it an instance of laudable integrity in Anselm, to remonstrate against such proceedings? I suppose the candour and good sense of the author to whom I allude, would have inclined him to praise that upright conduct, for which Anselm was obliged to retire to the Continent, had not this same Anselm been a priest, and a priest too of sincere zeal and fervour. In justice to Anselm, it should, moreover, be observed, that one reason why he wished to resign his archbishopric was, that he believed he might be of more service to the souls of men in a merely clerical character, which was more obscure. And he was naturally led to assign this reason to the Pope, from the observation which he made of the effect of his preaching on audiences in Italy.
* See Hume, vol. i., p. 302.
Men of superior talents, however, are frequently born to drudge in business or in arts, whether they be in prosperous or in adverse circumstances. For mankind feel the need of such men; and they themselves are not apt to bury their powers in indolence. A Council was called at Bari by Pope Urban, to settle with the Greeks the dispute which had long separated the Eastern and Western Churches, concerning the procession of the Holy Ghost. For the Greek Church, it would seem, without any scriptural reason, had denied the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son; and had, therefore, thrust the words AND THE SON out of the Nicene Creed. While the disputants were engaged, the Pope called on Anselm, as his father and master, for his reply. The archbishop arose, and by his powers of argumentation silenced the Greeks.
At Lyons, he wrote on the conception of the Virgin, and on original sin; and thus he employed himself in religious, not in secular cares, during the whole of his exile : a strong proof of his exemption from that domineering ambition of which he has been accused. In the year 1100 he heard of the death of his royal persecutor, which he is said to have seriously lamented, and returned into England, by the invitation of Henry I. To finish at once the account of his unpleasant contests with the Norman princes, he, at length, was enabled to compromise them. The great object of controversy was the same in England as in the other countries of Europe, namely, “Whether the investiture of bishopries should be received from the King or from the Pope.” Anselm, moved undoubtedly by a conscientious zeal, because all the world bore witness to his integrity, was decisive for the latter; and the egregious iniquities, and shameless violations of all justice and decorum, practised by princes in that age, would naturally strengthen the
* “ Proceeding from the Father and the Son."
• prejudices of Anselm's education. To receive investiture from
the Pope for the spiritual jurisdiction, and, at the same time, to do homage to the king for the temporalities, was the only medium, which in those times could be found, between the pretensions of the civil and ecclesiastical dominion ; and matters were settled, on this plan, both in England and in Germany.
If Anselm then contributed to the depression of the civil power, and the confirmation of the papal, he was unhappily carried away by a popular torrent, which few minds had power to resist. It seemed certain, however, that ambition formed no part of this man's character. " While I am with you," he would often say to his friends, “I am like a bird in a nest amidst her
young, and enjoy the sweets of retirement and social affections; but when I am thrown into the world, I am like the same bird hunted and harassed by ravens or other fowls of prey: the incursions of various cares distract me; and secular employments, which I love not, vex my soul.” He who spent a great part of his life in retirement, who thought, spake, and wrote so much of vital godliness, and whose moral character was allowed, even by his enemies, to have ever been without a blot, deserves to be believed in these declarations.
Let us then attend to those traits of character, which were more personal, and in which the heart of the man more plainly appears. He practised that which all godly persons have ever found salutary and even necessary, namely, retired and devotional meditation, and even watched long in the night for the same purpose. One day, a hare, pursued by the hounds, ran under his horse for refuge, as he was riding. The object, bringing at once to his recollection a most awful scene, he stopped and said weeping, “This hare reminds me of a sinner just dying, surrounded with devils, waiting for their prey.” It was in this manner that he used to spiritualise every object; a practice ever derided by profane minds, whether performed injudiciously or not, but to which, in some degree, every devout and pious spirit on earth has been addicted.
In a national synod, held at St Peter's, Westminster, he forbad men to be sold as cattle, which had till then been practised. For the true reliefs and mitigations of human misery lay entirely, at that time, in the influence of Christianity; and small as that influence then was, the ferocity of the age was tempered by it; and human life was thence prevented from being entirely degraded to a level with that of the beasts which perish.
Anselm died in the sixteenth year of his archbishopric, and in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Toward the end of his life, he wrote on the Will, Predestination, and Grace, much in Augustine's manner. In prayers, meditations, and hymns, he seems to have had a peculiar delight. Eadmer says that he
“If he saw hell open, and sin before him, he would leap into the former to avoid the latter.” I am sorry to see this sentiment, which, stripped of figure, means no more than what all good men allow, that he feared sin more than punishment, aspersed by so good a divine as Foxe the martyrologist.* But Anselm was a Papist, and the best Protestants have not been without their prejudices.
used to say,
DR JOHN JORTIN.
JOHN JORTIN was a native of St Giles's, where he was born October 23, 1698; and as he was for twenty-five years minister of a chapel in New Street, Bloomsbury, and died vicar of Kensington, nearly the whole of his life was spent in London. His education, begun at the Charter-House, was completed at Jesus College, Cambridge, and he early acquired a taste for that elegant scholarship, which formed the chief business and solace of his unambitious career, and which still preserves his name from oblivion.
* Acts and Monuments, vol. i.
To a man of taste, leisure, and calm temperament, we fancy, that of all themes, the most attractive would be “A Life of Erasmus." To a large extent involving the inner history of Romanism, it would include the revival of letters in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and, whilst it gave us a glimpse of every court in Europe, it would bring us acquainted with nearly all the notabilities of the period, literary, religious, and political. Nor would the least part of the author's treat be the deliberate perusal of the ten folios which have come down to us from the pen of the clever, witty, sarcastic Hollander, so as to collect for his mosaic the best of their
manyAt the same time, Erasmus is not the sort of hero who awakens our enthusiasm, and it would require much tact and skill to interest the general reader in the long career of one whom Protestants despised as a time-server, and whom Papists detested as a traitor within their camp.
Dr Jortin made the attempt. With his sense of humour, his scholarship, and his freedom from sectarianism, it was a congenial employment; and if he had arranged his materials more skilfully, he would have produced a delightful work. But he was deficient in the art of construction, and so entirely lacked the dramatic or descriptive talent, that he has given us little more than a series of epistolary extracts, interspersed with critical remarks by himself and others; and, consequently, a lively and readable “Life of Erasmus,” still remains a desideratum in literature.
Owing to a certain desultory turn of mind, as well as the artistic deficiencies already indicated, Dr Jortin, notwithstanding all his erudition, could not have become the Gibbon or the Sismondi of the Christian Church ; but in his “Remarks on Ecclesiastical History," he has given us five volumes of ingenious criticism on detached passages in the Church's annals, and some clever and lively remarks on its more prominent per