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Bernard pictures the souls of the blessed in heaven as so absorbed in the love of God, and so full of the joy they have in the contemplation of it, as to be untroubled by pity for the lost who are suffering the torments of hell. It is an indication perhaps of the strength of Bernard's human affections that he makes pity an impossible emotion in heaven. Like all mediaeval Christians he believed implicitly in hell ; but the thought of those who were condemned to everlasting misery there so distressed his soul, that he could not imagine himself enjoying a state of bliss if he still retained any feeling of pity for the lost. So he concludes his book by saying : “ Assuredly where there shall be no place for misery or time for mercy, there can be no feeling of compassion.” It was not given even to the greatest of mediaeval saints to realise the depth and fulness of the Everlasting Mercy ; it was not given to him to know that as long as there is a lost soul there will be a Divine Love going forth to seek and to save it.
Bernard's treatise on Consideration is a long letter addressed to Pope Eugenius III, who had been one of his monks at Clairvaux, and had been raised to the papacy largely through his influence. In it he discusses the highest questions of theology, as well as sets forth the duties of the papal office itself. He seeks to impress upon the pope the duty of so ordering his life as to free himself from all unnecessary burdens and distractions, and thus be enabled to discharge his special responsibilities with the utmost diligence and fidelity. No doubt it is a book with which Eugenius' successors from that time to this have made themselves familiar, and there is certainly much in it that ministers of God of all ranks
and denominations might well read, mark and learn. Here is the kind of advice which Bernard gives :
“Consider before all things the Holy Roman Church, over which by the authority of God thou presidest, to be the mother of the Churches, not their mistress. Look upon thyself not as the lord of the bishops, but as one of them; moreover think of thyself as the brother of those who love God, and as a partaker with them that fear him. Consider also that thou oughtest to be a model of uprightness, a mirror of holiness, an example of piety, the assertor of truth, the defender of the faith, the teacher of nations, the leader of Christians, the friend of the bridegroom, the leader of her spouse to the bride, the ordainer of the clergy, the shepherd of the people, the refuge of the oppressed, the advocate of the poor, the hope of the wretched, the guardian of the fatherless, the renderer of justice to the widow, the eye of the blind, the tongue of the dumb, the staff of the old, the avenger of crimes, the fear of the malignant, the glory of the good, a rod for the powerful, a hammer for tyrants, the father of kings, the moderator of laws, the dispenser of canons, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the priest of the most high, the vicar of Christ, the anointed of the Lord. Understand what I say; the Lord will give thee understanding. When power is joined to wickedness, thou must be presumed to be something more than man. Thy face must be upon them that do evil. Let him who feareth not man, who dreadeth not the sword, fear the breath of thy wrath. Let him who despised thine admonition, fear thy prayer.” (Chap. vii.)
IV JOHN TAULER'S SERMONS In our time there has been a revival of interest in mysticism. It is largely due to the influence of the new psychology which has turned attention to the innermost and deepest region of the mind. The plea which William James and his school made for faith in the instinctive movements of the human spirit is in accord with the teaching of the mystic, who has always maintained that it is under such guidance, rather than by means of the senses and the reasoning faculties, that man is brought into closest relation with ultimate truth and good.
Mysticism is an old thing in Christendom and in the world. Not to know anything about it is, according to Royce, not to know anything about a large part of human nature. “ It has,” he says, “ been the ferment of the faiths, the forerunner of spiritual liberty, the inaccessible refuge of the nobler heretics, the inspirer, through poetry, of countless youths who know no metaphysics, the teacher, through the devotional books, of the despairing, the comforter of those who are weary of finitude ; it has determined directly or indirectly, more than half of the technical theology of the Church."
Mysticism is an essential element in all religion that is properly so called ; it is indeed, as Edward Caird said, 1 The World and the Individual, i. p. 85.
the mind in which exclusive form:
swallowed up in
“religion in its most concentrated and exclusive form ; it is the attitude of the mind in which all relations are swallowed up in the relation of the soul of God.” It arises oftenest as a reaction against over-attention to what Richard Baxter called the “circumstantials of religion,” that is, against ceremonialism, dogmatism, and formalism generally ; but it arises also as a revolt of the soul against the crowding out of religion by other interests, duties, business and pleasure. The mystic has stood forth on behalf of God and the soul. He has insisted that the claims of these cannot, except at our peril, be pushed aside or subordinated to anything else ; that only in so far as the love of God moves and inspires us and regulates our activities, do we attain inward peace and fulfil the great ends of our being. Religion, for the mystic, is nothing if it is not dominating, allpervasive, and worth the sacrifice of every other interest and affection. For him it is the direct communion of the soul with God; in the words of Plotinus, it is “a flight from the alone to the Alone." Like revolts generally, mysticism has often gone to extremes. In declaiming against formalism, it has sometimes assumed that forms had no value or importance whatever ; in protesting against the submerging of religion by other interests it has sometimes forgotten that these have a legitimate place in the Divine plan of our lives. Still, despite the extremes to which it has gone, mysticism has been a most wholesome influence throughout the centuries. It has been the quickening spirit in Christendom, the cause of all genuine revivals. A Church lives by the mysticism that is in it, by its sense of the invisible and eternal.
Mysticism, again, has sought to recall men to a sense of the unity that underlies all the diversity of existence. It has opposed the tendency to think in terms of the particular rather than of the universal, to see things in their separateness rather than in their union, to be so engrossed with the phenomenal world as to be forgetful of its substance and cause. “We seem," says Edward Caird,“ to move from one thing to another, while the allencompassing circle, within which all objects and interests are comprehended, can hardly be said to exist for us. Our thoughts rest on difference as the primary fact -on the difference of one thing from another, and of the self from the not self—and, if the unity be recognised at all, it is as a unity of external relation or synthesis. It is a great step in advance, nay it is like the rending of the veil under which the meaning of life is hid, when it is realised that all the differences of our consciousness presuppose its unity. ... Mysticism, as it is expressed by Plotinus, represents the first overpowering realisation of this idea, in which no place, or at least no logical place, is left for any other thought. We can, therefore, understand how it is that he dwells so much upon the conception that the one is always with us and within us, though we seldom realise its nearness. But just because we do not realise this, our life, he contends, is disorganised and at discord with itself, or rather with a principle in it which is deeper even than self. We look outward instead of inward, and we look inward instead of upward. Our first is that which ought to be last, and our last is that which ought to be first."1
What Caird says of the mysticism of Plotinus, the 1 The Evolution of Theology in Greek Philosophers, ii. pp. 222-3.