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VII. appeared in the character of legate, and opposed the new doctrine with the utmost vehemence. Berengarius was also present at this assembly, and overawed, by threats rather than convinced by argument, he professed to abandon his opinions, solemnly abjured them in the presence of the council, and made his peace with the church. In this, however, he appears to have been insincere, for soon after this period he taught anew, though with more circumspection, the opinions he had formerly professed. The account of his perfidy reaching Rome, he was summoned to attend a council which was convened there in 1059, and on this occasion, so terrified was Berengarius, that he declared his readiness to embrace and adhere to the doctrines which that venerable assembly should think proper to impose upon him. A confession of faith was accordingly drawn up, which he publicly signed and ratified by an oath. In that confession the following declaration was contained,- that the bread and wine after consecration were not only a sacrament, but also the real body and blood of Jesus Christ; and that this body and blood were handled by the priests, and consumed by the faithful, not sacramentally, but in reality and truth, as other sensible objects are. This doctrine was so monstrously absurd; it was such an impudent insult upon common sense and the very first principles of reason, that it is impossible it should impose upon the acute mind of Berengarius for a moment, nor could it possibly become the object of his serious belief, and his conduct, almost immediately after, proved that his profession of it was an odious act of dissimulation; for no sooner was he returned into France, than he expressed the utmost detestation and abhorrence of the doctrines he had been obliged to profess at Rome, solemnly abjured them in his discourse and writings; and returned zealously to the profession and defence of his former real opinion.
The controversy, however, was still prolonged during many years, and a multitude of writings on both sides of the question, were continually issuing, and the followers of Berengarius every where increasing. His adversaries now bad recourse to the seducing influence of soft and friendly expostulation, to engage him to dissemble anew; or, in other words, to return from his pretended apostacy; but these proved ineffectual. At length, Gregory VII. was raised to the papal chair, a man whose enterprising spirit no difficulties nor opposition could discourage. This prelate, resolving to put an end to this wide-spreading controversy, sent an order to Berengarius to repair to Rome in the year 1078. Gregory had a high esteem for the latter, and though to silence the clamours of the multitude he found it necessary to oppose him, he did it with all possible mildness. He permitted Berengarius to draw up a new confession of his faith, and to renounce that which he had formerly sworn to abide by.
This new confession not proving satisfactory to his enraged adversaries, though Gregory himself approved it, a second was drawn up, which was indeed less vague and equivocal, but then it contained all the quintessence of absurdity which characterized the original one; for he now professed to believe that “the bread and wine were, by the mysterious influences of the holy prayer, and the words of Christ, substantially changed into the true, proper, and vivifying body and blood of Christ.” No sooner had he made this strange declaration than the pope loaded him with caresses and sent him back to France, graced with the most honourable testimonies of his liberality and friendship. Solemn however as the declaration had been at Rome, Berengarius had no sooner returned to his residence than he began to compose an elaborate refutation of his last confession, which excited afresh the flames of theological contro
versy. Berengarius, however, amidst the clamours of his enraged adversaries, from this time observed a profound silence. Disgusted with a controversy in which the first principles of reason were so impudently insulted, and exhausted by an opposition which he was unable to overcome, he abandoned all his worldly concerns and retired into solitude, to pass the remainder of his days in fasting, prayer, and the exercise of piety. In the year 1088 death put a period to the affliction which he suffered in his retirement, occasioned by a bitter reflection upon the dissimulation he had been guilty of at Rome; leaving behind him, in the minds of the people, a deep impression of his extraordinary sanctity, and his followers were as numerous as his fame was illustrious."* This controversy was too remarkable to be wholly passed over in this place, but having said thus much of it, I now pass on to a more pleasing and profitable subject.
A little before the year 1140, Evervinus of Stainfield, in the diocese of Cologne, in Germany, addressed a letter to the celebrated Saint Bernard, concerning certain heretics in his neighbourhood. This letter has been preserved by Mabillon, and the learned Dr. Allix has furnished us with a translation of it in his Remarks on the Antient Churches of Piedmont, p. 140. A few extracts from it, will enable us to form some judgment concerning this class of men. Evervinus was much perplexed in his mind about them; and to obtain a solution of his doubts, he wrote as follows, to the renowned Bernard, whose word, at that time, was as law throughout Christendom.
“ There have lately been some beretics discovered among us near Cologne, of whom some have with satis
• Mosheim, vol ii. Cent. xi. part 2.
faction returned again to the church. One that was a bishop among them and his companions, openly opposed us in the assembly of the clergy and laity, the lord archbishop himself being present, with many of the nobility, maintaining their heresy from the words of Christ and his apostles. But finding that they made no impression, they desired that a day might be fixed, upon which they might bring along with them men skilful in their faith, promising to return to the church, provided their teachers were unable to answer their opponents; but that otherwise they would rather die than depart from their judg. ment.' Upon this declaration, having been admonished to repent for three days, they were seized by the people in their excess of zeal, and burnt to death; and, what is most astonishing, they came to the stake, and endured the torment of the flames, not only with patience, but even with joy. In this case, O holy father, were I present with you, I should be glad to ask you, how these members of Satan could persist in their heresy with such constancy and courage as is rarely to be found among the most religious in the faith of Christ.
“Their heresy is this :—They say that the church is only among themselves, because they alone follow the ways of Christ, and imitate the apostles, not seeking secular gains, possessing no property, following the pattern of Christ, who was himself perfectly poor, nor permitted his disciples to possess any thing. * Whereas ye, say they to us, join house to house and field to field, seeking the things of this world,-yea, even your monks and regular canons possess all these things-describing themselves as the poor of Christ's flock, who have no certain abode, fleeing from one city to another, like
* We shall see reason hereafter to believe that in this particular Evervinus misrepresented them.
sheep in the midst of wolves--enduring persecution with the apostles and martyrs; though strict in their manner of life, abstemious, laborious, devout and holy, and seeking only what is needful for bodily sustenance, living as men who are not of the world. But you, say they, lovers of the world, have peace with the world because ye are of it. False apostles, who adulterate the word of God, seeking their own things, have misled you and your ancestors. Whereas we and our fathers having been born and brought up in the apostolic doctrine, have continued in the grace of Christ, and shall continue so to the end. “ By their fruits ye shall know them” saith Christ; and our fruits are the footsteps of Christ. The apostolic dignity, say they, is corrupted by engaging itself in secular affairs, while it sits in the chair of Peter. They do not hold the baptism of infants, alleging that passage of the gospel, “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” They place no confidence in the intercession of saints; and all things observed in the church which have not been established by Christ himself or his apostles, they call superstitious. They do not admit of any purgatory fire after death, contending that the souls as soon as they depart out of the bodies, do enter into rest or punishment, proving it from that passage of Solomon, “ Which way soever the tree falls, whether to the south or to the north, there it lies,” by which means they make void all the prayers and oblations of believers for the deceased.
“We therefore beseech you, holy father, to employ your care and watchfulness against these manifold mischiefs; and that you would be pleased to direct your pen against these wild beasts of the reeds, not thinking it sufficient to answer us that the tower of David, to which we may betake ourselves for refuge, is sufficiently fortified with bulwarks, that a thousand bucklers hang on VOL. I.