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TRUTH AND FREE-WILL.
itself is only the instrument by which truth is known. It may almost be said that the senses are more trustworthy than the intellect, for our mistakes are more often the result of wrong inference than of wrong observation. The eye is not at fault when we think that the lower end of a stick in the water is bent, but the reason is to blame, that it does not allow for a change in the medium.1 Although, therefore, reason alone can take cognizance of intellectual truth, or the realities of existence, the will is the power by which we apprehend moral truth or righteousness. Ultimately, therefore, all depends upon the will as the motive power in man. Fortunately God has endowed us with a free will, whose essence is that we should choose righteousness for its own sake. It is true we may take evil as our good; but the being able to yield is no part of our liberty. The will is always stronger than the temptation to which the man gives way; if he falls, he is like the wrestler who can throw a bull, yet lets himself be overcome by a ram. How is it, then, that God suffers us to be tempted and fall? that he has even predestined some to evil? Anselm grapples with these insoluble difficulties by distinguishing prescience and predestination. God knows what will happen, but the frailty is man's deliberate act, not God's. In the victory over temptation lies the difference between righteousness and mere innocence. We are only fit for heaven when we have striven to enter in at the strait gate. The manliness of these theories is remarkable. As a Christian, Anselm rejects the contemptible materialism that regarded sin as a taint of blood, or a
of our character. The memory of what we have lived through and seen is our testimony to God's moral and physical laws.
1 Dial. de Veritate, c. 4., c. 6.
2 Dial. de Lib. Arbitrio. In the eighth chapter, Anselm observes that God may annul all creation, but cannot deprive any man of his freedom of will.
3 "Si in incorruptionem statim in baptismo vel in martyrio mutarentur fideles periret meritum, et homines, nisi illi qui primi sine exemplo crederent, nullo merito salvarentur. Nempe deficerent fides et spes, sine quibus nullus homo habens intellectum regnum Dei mereri potest," &c.-De Concord. Præsc. Dei cum Lib. Arbitrio, c. 9. The preference of pagans who, having not the law, were a law unto themselves, to mere professional Christians, is eminently mediæval.
SUBSTANCE AND ACCIDENT.
planetary influence. As a man, he seeks reverently to explain the will of God by his own noblest instincts. He accepts the cup and cross as the conditions of paradise.
How these semi-Platonic views re-acted upon Christian belief, is apparent from all the doctrines of the time. Men who thought to understand God in the mind, and to start from abstract laws that they might explain facts, naturally regarded thought as the only reality. The world around them was changing, but the laws of God were eternal and reason invariable. This view of the universe is reflected in their language. To us who inherit Locke's views, and who live among chemists and engineers, the word substance conveys the notion of something concrete and tangible-the wood of a table, or, speaking generally, matter without form. The schoolman of the middle ages classed everything which the senses perceive, under the head of "accidents," and reserved the word substance for that subtle individuality, which assigns a table its name, whether its material be wood or stone, whether it have four legs or two. Transfer these things from a trivial instance, like that of a table, to the nature of man, and the importance of the distinction will be seen. The schoolman recognized an abstract humanity which was independent of climate, birth, colour, and natural shape and endowments, and which constituted the family of man. In the great mediaval doctrine of transubstantiation, the schoolman would have been the first to admit that no chemical analysis would detect any change in the consecrated elements. But he asserted that the individuality of the bread (its breadness), was exchanged for the individuality of
For proof that such doctrines were not unknown in the middle ages, see Bradwardine, De Causâ Dei, lib. iii., c. 10.
2 Peter Lombard invariably confounds the words "substance" and essence."-Sentent., lib. i., dist. 2, 23. Ockham says that an "universal" cannot be a "substance," as otherwise the idea of individuality belonging to the latter would be destroyed, and Christ would have something in common with the damned. This distinction of the law in God's mind, from the law in nature (the "in naturâ naturante idia," and "in naturâ naturante lex," of Bacon), belongs to Ockham and his school; but his language shows the accepted meaning of the word substance.-Ockham, Logica, cap. 15.
REALISTIC VIEW OF HERESY.
Christ (his humano-divinity). The evil of a highly abstract doctrine lay in its liability to misconstruction. Probably most men abstained reverently from scrutinizing the great perpetual miracle of their church, and contented themselves with deducing from it the fact, that Christ, once incarnate in the flesh, was perpetually present among the faithful. But the gross legends, in which the host is represented as changing into an infant Christ, prove that an unintelligent faith might sometimes disclaim its own first principles, in the attempt to prove them. Such fables involve really a completely different doctrine, which might be called transaccidentation, but which no church has ever yet deliberately set forth.
The belief that thought was the only reality, had also its ethical aspects. The soul was regarded as a compound of will and intellect, which was acted upon by the senses, but independent of them. It followed that any false doctrine was an indelible taint upon the soul, but that moral transgressions were only dangerous, inasmuch as they degraded the better nature in man, and dimmed its perceptions of good. The fires of purgatory might purify the sinner, but not the heretic. Down to the last moment of his life, the man tainted with false opinion, had it in his power to recant and be saved, but the soul could not change its nature beyond the grave. Hence the tolerance and the bigotry of mediaval writers are alike remarkable. They could pardon the frailties of the flesh, for all were liable to these, and excess might be corrected by chastisement-the sin of the moment by the penance of years. They could hope for the salvation of pagans who had struggled towards the light by the aid of reason. There were Christians who suffered death for Christ's love before the Lord was born,1 says an early English poet; every man who has worked out truth, says Ockham, though he be a pagan in name, like Job, will be saved as a Christian. Moreover, no error, if it were not
"Many man for Christes love Was martired in Romayne, Er any Cristendom was knowe there Or any cros honoured."-Vision of Piers Ploughman, 11. 10,704, 10,708.
"Ockham, Sentent., lib. vi., part ii., c. 77.
obstinate, would be damnatory; St. Martin told the devil that he himself might be saved if he would repent. The church bells of Dewsbery that rang a knell on Christmas-day, because the devil had died when Christ was born, exhibit the same thought in a different but fancifully exquisite form. But the man who died holding error against the light, was lost irredeemably. The mercy and justice of medieval Christendom are nowhere more splendidly set forth, than in Dante's vision of the invisible world. Yet he who placed the just king, Riphæus, in heaven, and who declared that infinite mercy had arms so wide as to embrace all who return to her, condemned the chiefs of his party, Farinata, Cavalcante, and the great emperor Frederic II., to burn to all eternity in the fiery sepulchres of hell.
It has been shown that the intellect of the middle ages subordinated facts to thought, the experimental to the deductive sciences. This habit of mind of course re-acted upon history. Men regarded it as a treasury of ethical illustrations and biographies, or perhaps as a record of political rights; but those ideas of its own scientific value, which we owe to Vico and Gibbon, were impossible in the twelfth century. Malmesbury, Orderic, Eadmer, and Florence of Worcester, have high merits of a certain kind; but truthful statements, vivid personal portraitures, a diligent compilation from all sources, and a more or less classical style, are the only qualities we have a right to expect from them. The fashion of inventing speeches for the chief actors in events, was unhappily copied by Orderic and Giraldus Cambrensis from their classical models. Giraldus and Henry of Huntingdon plead guilty to the still worse offence of writing in extremes, of praising a king fulsomely during his lifetime and inveighing against him after his death. Their excuse is the weak plea that they were afraid to speak out while he lived, that they praised real virtues and attacked actual defects. Sycophancy and malice were the
1 Sulp. Sever., De Vitâ B. Martin., c. 24. 2 Collectanea Topographica, p. 167. Hen. Hunt., De Contemptu Mundi.; Ang. Sac., vol. ii., p. 699; Girald. Camb. de Inst. Princ., p. 69.
AND HISTORICAL CRITICISM.
natural taints of times when the relations of high and low were at once intimate and capricious. Want of critical power is a serious shortcoming, but must be taken relatively. False derivations of names were unavoidable, till the study of language had been based on philosophical principles. Miraculous explanations of natural phenomena only show that the writer lived in a pre-scientific age. But a man who accumulated these stories, as Giraldus Cambrensis did, from the love of telling them, or, like Matthew Paris, from want of common sense, incurred the censure of his contemporaries. A crude voracity for facts, and a disorderly tendency to refer them to causes with which they have no connection, are scarcely more characteristic of medieval chronicles than of socalled philosophies of history in the nineteenth century. Men were timid in their strictures on received tradition, when the causes of error were only imperfectly known. But the criticism that tacitly rejects an incredible story, was constantly exercised by early writers, and deserves at least to rank next after the criticism that disproves it. Even this was not always wanting. William of Newburgh's analysis of the histories of Arthur was written before the end of the twelfth century, and has left little to be added by later writers.
The interest which the Normans took in the history of Arthur and his court, has appeared to many enquirers more than natural. Some have accordingly explained it by the desire to exalt British over Saxon history, and to remind the conquered English that they were neither the first nor the noblest occupants of the soil. No doubt history then, as now, was
1 Girald. Camb., Expugn., Hibern., Præfatio.
Newburgh, Præfatio. His arguments were adopted by Higden in his Polychronicon (Gale, vol. iii., pp. 224, 225), and by Brompton; Twysden, 1153, 1154. Compare the violent attack on the Historia Britonum by Giraldus Cambrensis.-Itin. Camb., lib. i., c. 5. Except Wendover, who professed to collect narratives of interest indiscriminately, I know of no mediaval historian of any eminence in England who accepted Geoffrey's history of Arthur. I do not regard metrical narratives as serious history: they occupy the debatable ground between chronicle and romance, and the authors had the poet's eye for a good story. But even these do not always follow Geoffrey of Monmouth. Peter of Langtoft starts from the reign of Ine.