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Thus we come back to the fact, that in order to learn rightly, man must become as a little child, ready to admit the fact of his having no knowledge, and ready to receive the instruction which nature will bestow. Could we all summon up courage to admit our ignorance, to lay our theories aside for a time, so that we should look at the bare facts of every case, we cannot but believe nine-tenths of the contradictions would perish out of the world, and we should come to know more of nature and of man. The greatest difficulty the reformer has to contend with is not the wickedness of man's heart, as theologians say, but the all-controlling authority of established theories. We feel it is not in men's love of evil that the power of bad systems rests, but in their foregone conclusions, which restrain them from paying attention to the facts and arguments adduced in favour of a change. The great mass of men believe themselves to be already in the right, and, consequently, that it will prove nothing more than a waste of time to pay attention to any new methods. If we conquer that conclusion, or even succeed in raising a doubt about its soundness, all is well, for then they will be ready to listen, and will be open to conviction. We have good material to work upon, although it requires very careful handling. And herein lies the great power of questioning. If we compel a man to prove his own theory to be true, we do more to prepare the way of inquiry than can be effected in


other manner, for by that method we lead him to perceive that what he calls facts are nothing more than the reflected images of his own theories, and that all the difficulties he has complained of as retarding his progress, depended more upon his own errors than on the nature of things.

The Roman Catholic Church has no monopoly of mysteries. In all lands and ages the priest has depended for a considerable share of his influence upon the magical power of the mysterious; and its power, although much has been done by way of destroying various superstitions, is as widely exercised as it was in the prouder days of Egyptian history, when millions bent down at the sacred name of Osiris, or when in Syria the people offered up their first-born to satisfy the cravings of Moloch. It is fondly supposed that in Protestant countries there are no traces of this evil; but the hope is cherished without sufficient cause, for in them, as well as in Catholic lands, we hear much of the sacred mysteries of religion, and of the incomprehensible character of its several parts. careful inquiry into this matter seldom fails in leading the student to the discovery that fully nine-tenths of the mystery lies, not so much in the nature of the subject itself, as in the theories with which it has been hedged round. The mystery is not of God's wisdom and appointment, but of man's folly and creation. We create the difficulties which retard our progress, and then turn round to make complaints of the hardness of our fate in being constrained to believe what we cannot comprehend. It is not meant, however, that there are no difficulties in the


of comprehending any fact or feature associated with Religion, for, as every reflective man must be persuaded, there are matters associated with it, as with Love, Art, Thought, and our Creative Energies, which, especially in our present condition of ignorance, must remain inscrutable. They are not absolutely insoluble. Man will grow in knowledge and wisdom until he has become quite as familiar with the nature of these, as we are with the chemical nature of various bodies which formerly enslaved our ancestors. But to achieve an end so desirable, we must first sweep away the impediments which idle imagination has thrown upon the path. As in the old time, the satyrs, and ghosts, and giants, and other fanciful beings had to be swept out of man's mind before he could march upon and conquer this planet, so the satyrs, in the shape of mysteries of human creation, which lie npon the religious path, must be removed in order that the march of mind in the world of religion may not be retarded. For while confessing the fact that there are to us insoluble mysteries which lie in the nature of things, it still remains true that their number has been largely multiplied through human folly; for many are believed as veritable truths which have no foundation save in the heated fancy and overwrought imagination of misguided men.

P. W. P.




ABELARD was born at Palais, in Brittany, in the year 1079; and may be looked upon as the father of rational philosophy. Receiving his training from the heretic Roscelin, he early learnt to bring his reason to bear upon the questions with which he occupied himself, and a spirit of free inquiry pervaded all his speculations and teachings. Early in life he obtained extraordinary celebrity as a Professor of Logic, and he stands as the most celebrated of the early Schoolmen. His spirit of free inquiry led him first to question the philosophical dogmas of his time, and afterwards to seek out some reasonable ground on which to base his theology. How boldly he did this is evinced in a work of his, entitled “ Sic et Non(Yes and No), still extant-a work justly considered the most remarkable of its age, in which we perceive at once the revolution in thought of which Abelard was the exponent, and the reason why the Church marked him as a heretic. The key note of this work is that truth is only to be arrived at through doubt and free inquirya teaching which we may well believe would scandalise the Church.

In the introduction to his work, Abelard broadly and boldly lays down the principle that only by assiduous and frequent questioning can wisdom be obtained : “For it is doubt," he says, " that leads us to inquire, and

inquiry that brings us to the possession of truth.” In this we have one of the earliest gleams of that spirit which afterwards overthrew the despotism of authority. The work itself consists of collocated passages from the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church, bearing upon the various doctrines to which the name of Christian had been given, and which appeared to be of contradictory import. It was, in fact, an attempt to set forth both sides of every doctrinal teaching—to give the 'yes' side by side with the sno.' Abelard does not seek to reconcile the contradictions, but contents himself by leaving them for inquirers to solve for themselves, quoting both the authority of Aristotle and of the Bible to prove that the surest road to truth is through doubt, adding that the Christian faith itself would be based more firmly on the conclusions of logic than on the dogmas of authority. He would have men, he said, follow the teaching of Christ, “ Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' There is not the slightest reason to suppose that Abelard was led by any sceptical spirit in this matter; in those ages of faith, that was next to impossible; but he had a firm belief in the power of logic to educe the truth. Thus while he did not say, and probably did not believe, that aught which the Church taught as truth was falsehood, he refused to place an intellectual chain on men by saying, “ Believe without inquiring;" but, on

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the contrary, said, " Inquire, and prove its truth for yourselves." inconvenient doctrine for the Church ; and he soon found to his cost that all true Churchmen regarded him as an enemy.

But it was when Abelard composed his treatise “On the Divine Unity " and Trinity” that his battle with the priesthood commenced. His purpose in this work was to illustrate, by “resemblances drawn from human reason, the “sublime mystery" of the Trinity ; to prove logically this fundamental article in the creed of the Church. And was not that a worthy aim ? He, doubtless, thought it was; but Priestcraft thought differently. What would result if this man were allowed to bring into the arena of discussion the peculiar mysteries of the faith? what might not come of this impudent attempt to bring to the test of logic that which rested on quite other grounds than rational proof? was it to be tolerated that that which was in its very nature incomprehensible should be made the subject of argument ? Such were the questions asked, and in the answer, which every “good Christian” would, of course, give, Priestcraft saw its advantage over Abelard.

From the beginning there has ever been war between the Old and the New, the New marching on to the Old, and the Old struggling for a still longer existence among men.

The present may, indeed, be likened to a bank and shoal, behind and beyond which flow the mighty Oceans of the Two Eternities -Past and To Come. The latter ever impinging and gaining on it, but the former, too, with never-ceasing recoil, washing over and seeking to submerge it. Or it may be termed the battle-ground whereon the young and vigorous new-births of Time meet, and struggle with, and vanquish the veteran forces of the time that is gone. Look where we will in history, we see this struggle going on-never ending, for it is the expression of the Eternal Law of Progress. Look where we will in the worlds of nature and of thought, no less than in the course of history, and this constant conflict of diverse forces is found; it was, therefore, to be looked for in the evolution of theological systems no less than elsewhere. This conflict has its representative men in every age, and under differing circumstances they get named Catholics and Protestants, Pagans and Christians, Realists and Nominalists, Trinitarians and Arians, Conservatives and Radicals, pass, in fact, under review in the pages of history under a host of appellations which all cover one central fact, that of progress and its accompanying reaction. In the age of which we are speaking, the theological movement was a contest between logic and faith, the representative men being Abelard and he who is known as St. Bernard in Church History. Faith in the Church and in authority found its champion in this Bernard, and the logical or questioning spirit of the times was represented by Abelard. In the conflict which ensued between them, let us not make the mistake of supposing that it was a contest between the men merely, it was a conflict of principles, the battle on a theological arena of the Old and the New. Bernard was the more dangerous opponent because he was a man really in earnest; no mere priest, but a deeply-religious soul; one who, while not blind to the moral degeneracy existent within the Church, believed that she possessed the entire truth. He would have joined heart and hand in any effort made in a reverent spirit to cleanse the moral evils away, but the logical inquiring spirit which dared to question, and would not receive with simple faith, the teachings of the Church, called forth the entire force of his indigna. tion. Alas! that such men should be found on the side of error, and should sometimes lend the aid of their earnestness and power to the perpetuation of evil systems.


Abelard had suffered from persecution at the hands of others, but no opponent so formidable had yet attacked him. Bernard felt himself strong in his character for orthodoxy and saintliness, and a degrec of arrogance was observable in the course he took of drawing up a statement of Abelard's errors, and submitting them to him with a demand that he would recant them ; Abelard indignantly repelled his officious interference. Thereupon Bernard denounced Abelard to the Pope as “a monk without a rule, a superior without care, a “ man ever varying from himself; internally a Herod, externally a Baptist :

ambiguous as a riddle, possessing nothing of a monk but the name and “ habit; one who proclaims iniquity in the streets; corrupts the integrity of “faith, and the purity of the Church ; a fabricator of lies and a worshipper “of false doctrines; a heretic, not in error only, but in obstinacy and defence of error: when he speaks of the Trinity, an Arius; when of grace, a · Pelagius ; when of the person of Christ, à Nestorius." It is but just to remember that Abelard did not fight Bernard on equal terms. As the champion of the principle of submission to authority, of course the priesthood would support Bernard, while the earnestness and eloquence of the man, which had gained him the reputation of a saint, would carry the suffrages of the multitude. Abelard, on the contrary, had the Church against him, and in appealing to reason would carry the votes only of the educated and cultivated among the people, of whom we need 'not say there were but few in those days; and the support even of these was doubtful.

The storm, long gathering, was now thickening; for other events were transpiring calculated to draw attention to the results of Abelard's teaching. Arnold of Brescia, who was one of the scholars of Abelard, had commenced his preaching in Italy, and, expelled thence by the dominant hierarchy, had taken refuge in France. The spirit of freedom which Abelard had restricted to the sphere of the intellect, had been carried further by Arnold, who attacked the hierarchy, not so much on questions of faith, as on the ground that they were despots using the substance of the people, and tyrannising over them for their own aggrandisement and selfish gratification.

These events precipitated the attack of Bernard. Abelard felt that his only chance cousisted in convincing the reason of men that he was right in his views; he determined to attempt this, and, as might be expected, failed. Condemned as a heretic, he would have suffered the fate of one but for the intercession of Peter the Venerable, the good Abbot of Cluny, and his own timely submission to authority

While, in the face of his cruel treatment of Heloise, we are compelled to acknowledge the moral depravity of Abelard, we cannot fail to admire his genius. His intellectual greatness is indisputable, and if his moral greatness had been equal thereto, Priestcraft would have found in him a more formidable enemy than, as the case was, he proved to be. His rebellion against authority was that of the intellect, and the great principle he enounced was, “Liberty of examination and discussion in matters of conscience and faith.” A noble principle, and though he failed to secure its triumph, it was one which, once announced, would be sure not to die. It is because Abelard was the first to announce it that he stands in the list of the precursors of the Reformation, which, of course, could never have been achieved until the partial triumph of this principle. Had Abelard possessed the moral courage necessary to enable the teacher of a new truth to hold his own against the opponents who ever rise up against such, he might have done more for it than be did. But of moral greatness he was destitute.

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But though silenced, Abelard was not crushed, for ere long " he lived “again” in the person of his disciple, Peter the Lombard, and through him spoke even from the professorial chair of the University of Paris. Through the centuries the principles he enunciated exercised an ever-increasing power in the Church and in the Schools. Human reason again and again claimed to be heard, and logic opened up bold speculations on even the most sacred subjects, leading to strange beliefs, and sometimes to the utter negation of all belief. Nevertheless, it did a work necessary to be done-a work without which progress was impossible, and in the absence whereof Europe must have retrogaded into utter barbarism. But its work was that of the pioneer only, it was a negative principle, it might and did destroy the Old, but could not construct the New.



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(CONFUCIUS). § 6.--SENTENTIOUS SAYINGS OF CONFUCIUS. HAVING already shown that the Chinese Philosopher was in the habit of teaching in a very condensed style, we shall, in this paper, furnish a series of specimens of his sayings, which are selected at random from his works :

Happiness arises from contentment of mind,--then cultivate content

Without this you can never be esteemed the honourable man. " In order to govern well an extensive province, you must be diligent in business, faithful to your promises, earnest in practising a discreet economy, and in efforts to love mankind.”

“ The honourable man who is not dignified in action cannot obtain " respect. Neither can his learning remain stable."

“Set the highest value on faithfulness and sincerity. Transgressing you " should not fear to return.”

“ When your sincerity is tempered with gentleness your advice may with"out danger be repeated; and when your veneration is regulated by reason, “ chame will be far from you.”

“ Tell a wise man the past, and he will know what is to come. Do not grieve that men know you not; but grieve rather for that you are ignorant 66 of men.”

“ Learning without reflection will not profit a man. Reflection with "out gradual growth in knowledge will leave the mind uneasy and miser« able.'

“Yavis, let me teach you wherein consists true knowledge. It is in “having knowledge that you apply it to good ends, and not having know

ledge, to confess your ignorance. This, indeed, is real knowledge." [Another form of the Socratic idea.]

“ Without a principle of virtue, a man in poverty cannot long remain virtuous, neither without the principle can he long remain virtuous in “prosperity. The virtuous man finds happiness in virtue alone--his knowledge then assists his virtue.”

“A man’s transgression partakes of the nature of his company. Observe the nature of his transgressions, and through this you will discover if so he have virtue or not."


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