Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/164

This page needs to be proofread.


THE THRONE OF THE WORLD

ment of restrained and hesitant comment on his own innermost ex- periences, he helps us to understand his sense of power and also his persistence in standing aside a true "splendid isolation." As a mystic he knew "the sweet wounds of love." It was not from books alone that he derived the comparison between the man who awakes from a realization, a startling realization, of having been given divine Grace, and a boiling kettle taken from the fire. His own later confes- sion that to him, too, the Word had come, explains everything. To him any theology, that did not speak to the heart was unintelligible. His personality and preaching of the imitation of Christ, his subjective piety, which for that time was "modern" and not just accidentally contemporaneous with the first stirring of the Gothic impulse in the style of the choir erected by his friend Suger in Saint-Denis these introduced into young Scholasticism an insistence upon inner mystical experience and thus also upon the whole man, who acquires knowledge also through his feelings.

Bernard, to whom it was more important to feel ardently than to know, was a mystic not because of weariness, but because of an excess of energy. He wished to set the whole world afire with the sacred flame he sensed so marvellously in his own life. A hot glimmer lies on the rushing lava which as an orator and a writer of letters he poured down on Christendom in the form of meditations and political tracts. A half century before the beginnings of the Inquisition, he was driven by his impulse to convert men by overwhelming rhetoric and burning, apostolic zeal; to adopt the principle that faith must be instilled by persuasion, not by force. Nevertheless the passion with which he opposed men who would not be persuaded for instance, Abelard the rationalist, and Arnold of Brescia, the heretical social demagogue showed him at odds with the wisdom of his own maxim. What he could least endure was the self-esteem of the human mind, and its frivolous penetration into the world of religious mystery. What could philosophy mean to Christendom? What purpose would be served by Plato and Aristotle? Does not the believing heart receive counsel from a higher world, and learn all that is needful from being alone with its God? What other purpose can human effort serve except that, dwelling in a living communion with the God-man, it should garner from the fields of the world the harvest of eternal values?


MYSTICISM