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Poisoning of Gerbert and Otho.
and dive into the depths like the fishes of the sea, ye say that
It was at the time that Otho III. was contemplating a revolution in the empire and a reformation of the Church. He saw how useful Gerbert might be to his policy, and had him appointed Archbishop of Ravenna, and, on the death of Gregory V., issued his decree for the election of Gerbert as Pope. The low-born French ecclesiastic, thus attaining to the utmost height of human ambition, took the name of Sylvester II., a name fall of meaning.
But Rome was not willing thus to surrender her sordid interests; she revolted. Tusculum, the disgrace of the Papacy, rebelled. It required the arms of the emperor to sustain his pontiff. For a moment it seemed as if the Reformation might have been anticipated by many centuries — that Christian Europe inight have been spared the abominable Papal disgraces awaiting it. There was a learned and upright Pope, an able and youthful emperor; but Italian revenge, in the
person of Stephania, the wife of the murdered Crescentius, Poisoning blasted all these expectations. From the hand of that outperor and raged but noble criminal, who with more than Roman firmPope.
ness of purpose, could deliberately barter her virtue for vengeance, the unsuspecting emperor took the poisoned cup, and left Rome only to die. He was but twenty-two years of age. Sylvester, also, was irretrievably ruined by the drugs that had been stealthily mixed with his food. He soon followed his patron to the grave. His steam organs, physical experiments,
of the Em
Mutiny in the Church. mechanical inventions, foreign birth, and want of orthodoxy, confirmed the awful imputation that he was a necromancer.
The mouth of every one was full of stories of mystery and magic in which Gerbert had borne a part. Afar off in Europe, by their evening firesides, the goblin-scared peasants whispered to one another that in the most secret apartment of the palace at Rome there was concealed an impish dwarf, who wore a turban, and bad a ring that could make him invisible, or give him two different bodies at the same time; that, in the midnight hours, strange sounds had been heard, when no one was within but the Pope; that while he was among the infidels in Spain, the future pontiff had bartered his soul to Satan, on condition that he would make him Christ's vicar upon earth, and now it was plain that both parties had been true to their compact. In their privacy, hollow-eyed monks muttered to one another under their cowls, "Homagium diabolo fecit et male finivit."
To a degree of wickedness almost irremediable had things thus come.
The sins of the pontiffs were repeated, without any abatement, in all the clerical ranks. Simony and concubinage prevailed to an extent that threatened the authority of the Church over the coarsest minds. Ecclesiastical promotion could in all directions be obtained by purchase; in all directions there were priests boasting of illegitimate families. But Commenyet, in the Church itself, there were men of irreproachable test in the life, who, like Peter Damiani, lifted up their voices against against its the prevailing scandal. He it was who proved that nearly every priest in Milan had purchased his preferment and lived with a concubine. The immoralities thus forced upon the attention of pious men soon began to be followed by the consequences that might have been expected. It is but a step from the condemnation of morals to the criticism of faith. The developing intellect of Europe could no longer bear the acts or the thoughts that it had heretofore submitted to. The dogma of transubstantiation led to revolt. The early Fathers delighted to point out the agreement of Primitive
agreement doctrines flowing from the principles of Christianity with those of philo
sophy and of Greek philosophy. For long it was asserted that a corre
The Mutiny begins among the Monks. Their spondence between faith and reason exists; but by degrees, gradual alienation. as one dogma after another of a mysterious and unintelligible
kind was introduced, and matters of belief could no longer be co-ordinated with the conclusions of the understanding, it became necessary to force the latter into a subordinate position. The great political interests involved in these questions suggested the expediency and even necessity of compelling such a subordination by the application of civil power. In this manner, as we have described, in the reign of Constantine the Great, philosophical discussions of religious things came to be discountenanced, and implicit faith required in the decisions of existing authority. Philosophy was subjugated and enslaved by theology. We shall now see what were the circum
stances of her revolt. Themutiny
In the solitude of monasteries there was every inducement against theology
for those who had become weary of self-examination to enter commences on the contemplation of the external world.
Herein they monks. found a field offering to them endless occupation, and capable of worthily exercising their acuteness.
But it was not possible for them to take the first step without offending against the decisions established by authority. The alternative was stealthy proceeding or open mutiny ; but before mutiny there occurs a period of private suggestion and another of more ex
tensive discussion. It was thus that the German monk Gottion of Gotschalk, schalk, in the ninth century, occupied himself in the profound
problem of predestination, enduring the scourge and death in prison for the sake of his opinion. The presence of the Saracens in Spain offered an incessant provocation to the restless intellect of the West, now rapidly expanding, to indulge itself in such forbidden exercises. Arabian philosophy, unseen and silently, was diffusing itself throughout France and Europe, and churchmen could sometimes contemplate a refuge from their enemies among the infidel. In his extremity, Abelard himself expected a retreat among the Saracens-a protection from ecclesiastical persecution.
In the conflict with Gotschalk on the matter of predestinaagainst tion was already foreshadowed the attempt to set up reason authority.
against authority. John Erigena, who was employed by Hinc
Who sets up reason
mar, the Archbishop of Rheims, on that occasion, had already made a pilgrimage to the birthplaces of Plato and Aristotle, A.D. 825, and indulged the hope of uniting philosophy and religion in the manner proposed by the ecclesiastics who were studying in Spain.
From Eastern sources John Erigena had learned the doc. John Eritrines of the eternity of matter, and even of the creation, with into Panwhich, indeed, he confounded the Deity himself. He was, therefore, a Pantheist ; accepting the Oriental ideas of emanation and absorption not only as respects the soul of man, but likewise all material things. In his work 'On the Nature of Things,' his doctrine is, “ That, as all things were originally contained in God, and proceeded from him into the different classes by which they are now distinguished, so shall they finally return to him and be resolved into the source from which they came; in other words, that as, before the world was created, there was no being but God, and the causes of all things were in him, so, after the end of the world, there will be no being but God, and the causes of all things in him.” This final resolution he denominated deification, or theosis. He even questioned the eternity of hell, saying, with the emphasis of a Saracen, “There is nothing eternal but God.” It was impossible, under such circumstances, that he should not fall under the rebuke of the Church.
Transubstantiation, as being, of the orthodox doctrines, the The conflict least reconcilable to reason, was the first to be attacked by the transubnew philosophers. What was perhaps, in the beginning, no
stantiation. more than a jocose Mohammedan sarcasm, became a solemn subject of ecclesiastical discussion. Erigena strenuously upheld the doctrine of the Stercorists, who derived their name from the fact that they asserted a part of the consecrated elements to be voided from the body in the manner customary with other relics of food ; a doctrine which was denounced by the orthodox, who declared that the priests could “make God," and that the eucharistic elements were not liable to digestion.
And now, A.D. 1050, Berengar of Tours prominently brought Opinions of forward the controversy respecting the real presence. The of Tours.
The Doctrines of Abelard. question had been formularized by Radbert under the term transubstantiation, and the opinions entertained respecting the sacred elements greatly differed; mere fetich notions being entertained by some, by others the most transcendental ideas. In opposition to Radbert and the orthodox party, who asserted that those elements ceased to be what to the senses they appeared, and actually became transformed into the body and blood of the Saviour, Berengar held that, though there is a real presence in them, that presence is of a spiritual nature. These heresies were condemned by repeated councils, Berengar himself being offered the choice of death or recantation. He wisely preferred the latter, but more wisely resumed his offensive doctrines as soon as he had escaped from the hands of his persecutors. As might be supposed from the philosophical indefensibility of the orthodox doctrine, Berengar's opinions,
which, indeed, issued from those of Erigena, made themselves The Pope felt in the highest ecclesiastical regions, and, from the manner privately adopts in which Gregory VII. dealt with the heresiarch, there is rea
son to believe that he himself had privately adopted the doc
trines thus condemned. Peter Abe But it is in Peter Abelard that we find the representative of the insur-o the insurgent spirit of those times. The love of Heloisa seems gents.
in our eyes to be justified by his extraordinary intellectual power. In his oratory, “The Paraclete,” the doctrines of faith and the mysteries of religion were without any restraint discussed. No subject was too profound or too sacred for his contemplation. By the powerful and orthodox influence of St. Bernard, “a morigerous and mortified monk,” the opinions of Abelard were brought under the rebuke of the authori
ties. In vain he appealed from the Council of Sens to Rome; St. Bernard the power of St. Bernard at Rome was paramount. “He attacks
makes void the whole Christian faith by attempting to comprehend the nature of God through human reason. He ascends up into heaven; he goes down into hell. Nothing can elude him either in the height above or in the nethermost depths. His branches spread over the whole earth. He boasts that he has disciples in Rome itself, even in the College of Cardinals. He draws the whole earth after him. It is time, therefore, to