Century XII, Chapter VIII


Writers and Eminent Persons in this Century.

Bernard far outshines all the other christian characters of the age. A very brief survey, however, of some who had the greatest reputation for piety, may not be improper.

Meginher, archbishop of Treves, is a character, of whom it were to be wished, we had a more distinct account. He inveighed against the luxury and sensuality of his clergy, and so provoked their resentment, that he was obliged to undertake a journey to Rome in his own defence. By the treachery of his own clergy, he was intercepted on the road, and died in prison at Parma in the year 1130.1 If we had the particulars of these transactions, it is probable, that he would appear to have resembled Chrysostom in his integrity,

• See cent. Magd. 16. Mosheim, cent. xii. 554. The authors quoted by Mosheim are Cimbria literata of Mollerus, and the Res Hamburg- of Lambecius. f Cent. Magd. cent. xii. 23.

'as well as in his sufferings. Meginher deserves, however, to be mentioned, because his case evinces how unsafe it was in those days to defend christian piety, even in the midst of the visible church of Christ.

About the same time a presbyter named Arnulph, came to Rome, and faithfully preached against the vices of the clersrv. He was himself a man of unblamable life and conversation, and zealously laboured to induce the pastors of the church to imitate the simplicity, and disinterestedness of the primitive christians. He seems to have foreseen that he should suffer for righteousness sake. " I know," said he publicly, " that ye seek my life. Ye despise me and your Creator, who redeemed you by his only begotten son. Nor is it to be wondered at, that ye should kill me a sinful man, who speaks to you the truth, since, if St. Peter himself were to rise from the dead, and rebuke your multiplied enormities, ye would not spare him." Arnulph was secretly murdered, and appears to have been a faithful martyr.*

The orthodox sentiments of the godhead and manhood of Jesus Christ, and the influence of both natures in the redemption, were clearly and soundly vindicated by Ricardus in a treatise concerning the incarnation.f

Rupert, in this century, writing on the gospel of St. John, observes, on occasion of our Lord's declaring in the 14th chapter of St. John, that the world neither see nor know the holy Spirit; " that they see him not, arises from their unbelief; that they know him not, proceeds from their pride. Infidelity regards nothing but what is present; and pride approves not of such a comforter, nay, reckons the life of those who seek his consolations to be madness, and their end to be without honour."

Peter Alphonsus, a Jew, was converted in the year 1106, in the forty-fourth year of his age. Being severely censured by his countrymen, he published a

dialogue against the Jews, which seems to have been no contemptible defence of christianity against his countrymen.* This man was eminent for sacred and profane literature, and it is hoped, became a real ornament to christianity.t

Whoever in this degenerate age acted faithfully in the ministry, exposed himself to imminent danger. This was the case of Htinricus-, bishop of Mentz. He was a rare pattern of meekness, integrity, and charity. But, through the unjust accusation of his clergy, he was deprived of his bishopric by the authority of two cardinals at Worms. " I know," said he, " if I were to appeal to the pope, it would be in vain. I appeal, therefore, to Jesus Christ, the just judge of quick and dead, who neither accepts persons, nor receives bribes as you do." After his expulsion from his see, which he had held near nine years, he retired to a monastery in Saxony, and lived in privacy and retirement, but without taking upon him the monastic habit, and died in 11534

Vicelinus, before mentioned, was born at an obscure town on the banks of the Weser, in the diocese of Minden. Having met with a sarcastic reproof from a priest, in his youth, on account of his indolence and ignorance, he was roused to pay the greatest attention to the cultivation of his understanding. Many in that age were equally studious; but Vicelinus was singularly eminent in directing his studies to practical purposes, and to the cultivation of genuine piety, and in avoiding the miserable strife of metaphysical subtilities, to which men of learning were then generally addicted. The scene of his evangelical labours was Holstein, in the kingdom of Denmark: there he taught men to turn from idols to the living God; for the Holsatians had known nothing of christianity, but the name: they worshipped groves, fountains, and various vanities. The success of Vicelinus seems to have been solid and lasting: many pagans all around, and

, Du Pin. 170. ' + Cent. M»grl. TOf. | It!. 710.

particularly the Vandals, were induced to receive christianity. After he had laboured thirty years in Holstein and the neighbouring parts, he was appointed bishop of Oldenburgh, in the year 1128. He still continued near six years in the same course of evangelical labour, in which he had persevered so long before, but was at length confined to his bed by a palsy for upwards of two years, and died in the year 1154.*

Anselm of Havelburg was a bishop of some literary reputation, and flourished in the middle of this century. The only thing, which I find remarkable concerning him, and it gives a strong presumption in favour of his piety or understanding, or both, is this, that he saw and censured the pharisaism of the monkish institutions. He declared, that there were many in his time, successively rising up, who disapproved of the vanity and novelty f of monastic orders.

It may be proper just to mention Peter, abbot of Cluny, sirnamed the venerable. That so ignorant and so trifling a writer should have been honoured with a title so magnificent, is one of the strongest marks of the low state of religious knowledge in general at that time. He takes large pains to vindicate the manners and customs of his monastery against objections; and in doing this, he is so verbose and circumstantial, J that he may seem to have placed the essence of christianity in frivolous punctilios and insignificant ceremonies. This is he, who received Peter Abelard in his afflictions with great humanity, and who consoled Eloisa after the death of that ingenious heretic, by sending to her, at her request, the form of Abelard's absolution,^ which that unhappy woman inscribed on his sepulchre. I can only say, in the praise of Peter, that his manners were gentle, his temper very mild and humane, and that he had what in common life is concisely called A coon Heart.

I add Peter Lombard to the list of eminent persons of this century, though I know nothing interesting to

relate of him, further than what has already been mentioned. Subtilty of argumentation was his fort: I find no evidence of his genuine humility and piety.

Isidore of Madrid, a poor labourer of this century, was canonized by papal authority. The account of him is too scanty, to enable us to form a proper estimate of his real worth and qualifications. There must, however, have been something singularly striking in his character; as here we have one canonization at least, which could not be the result of interested adulation. His master, John de Vargas, allowed him daily to attend the public offices of the church; and he, by early rising, took care that the master lost nothing of his due services: he relieved the poor by the produce of his labours: he was humble, laborious and just; and died near sixty years old, in the exercises of benevolence. What a saint! if, as may be hoped, he was principled by the faith of Jesus, and renounced, from the heart, his own righteousness as filthy rags!