2. As regards the different errors imputed to Abaelard, there are some which he complained were wrongly attributed to him. Others, on the contrary, he recognized as his, and corrected them in his Apology, in which he represents Bernard as being his only opponent, his malignant and hasty denouncer. Two former partizans of Abaelard himself, but who had long recoiled from his errors, Geoffrey, who afterwards was the Secretary of Bernard, and "a certain Abbot of the Black Monks," whose name is unknown, attempted to justify Bernard against these calumnies. Duchesne had spoken of these two writers in his notes to Abaelard, but the Treatises of both of them were lately printed in Vol. iv. of the "Bibliotheca Cisterciensis," whose learned Editor, Bertrand Tissier, remarks that this unknown Abbot is some other person than William of Saint Thierry.
3. Of the heads of errors attributed to Abaelard, some are wanting in his printed works, which has given occasion to some writers for accusing Bernard, as if he had attributed errors to Abaelard without foundation, and so had himself been fighting against shadows and phantoms. But it is certain that most of these errors are to be found even in his printed writings, as we shall show each in its place. As for those which are no longer discoverable, William of Saint Thierry, Geoffrey, and this unknown Abbot, who had been once a disciple of Abaelard, and was perfectly acquainted with his doctrine, quote word for word statements both from his Apology and from his Theology, which do not appear in the printed editions; and certainly Abaelard himself, in Book ii. of his "Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans," p.554, reserves certain points to be treated in his Theology of which there is no mention in the printed copies, which close thus: "The rest is wanting," so that it appears that the printed copies of the Theology have been mutilated.
4. Those writers have, therefore, done a very ill service to Religion, to say nothing of the injury to Bernard, who, in order to justify Abaelard, accuse Bernard of having been hurried on by the impulse of a blind zeal. They ought at least to acknowledge, as Abaelard himself did, and also Berengarius, his defender, that he had erred in various matters. And, indeed, Abaelard himself, in his Apology, acknowledges, though perhaps not quite sincerely, that in some respects he was wrong. "It is possible," he says, "that I have fallen into some errors which I ought to have avoided, but I call God as a witness and judge upon my soul that in these points upon which I have been accused, I have presumed to say nothing through malice or through pride." It may well be that he might be able to clear himself of the reproach of malice, and even of that of heresy; but, a least, he could not deny that he had fallen into various errors -- a liking for new words and phrases, levity, and perhaps even pride and an excessive desire for disputation. However this maybe, Pope Innocent bade the Bishops by a rescript that the man was to be imprisoned and his books burned, and Godfrey declares that the Pope himself had them thrown into the flames at Rome. But Peter Abaelard at length returned to better views. He desisted from his Appeal by the advice and request of Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, who has described his last days in pleasing terms in a Letter which he wrote to Heloïse.
5. Bernard did not attack Abaelard in his discourses and writings with impunity. Not only was Abaelard impatient of his censure, but also Berengarius, his disciple and defender, dared to accuse Bernard of having spread certain errors in his books. "You have certainly erred," says Berengarius, addressing Bernard, "in asserting the origin of souls from Heaven" (p.310). And on p.315: "The origin of souls from Heaven is a fabulous thing, and this I remember that you taught in these words (Serm. in Cantica, No.17): The Apostle has rightly said, our conversation is in heaven.' These words which you have expounded with great subtilty, savour much to the palate of a Christian mind of heresy." But enough of this foolish and impudent slanderer. The unknown Abbot reports another calumny of Abaelard against Bernard at the end of his second book: "It is very astonishing to me that for such a long time no reply should have been made by so many great men whose teaching enlightens the Church, as the light of the sun is reflected upon the moon, to our Abaelard, who accused the Abbot of saying that God, and Man assumed by God, are one Person in the Trinity. Whereas Man is a material body composed of various limbs and dissoluble, while God is neither a material body, nor has any limbs, nor can be dissolved. Wherefore, neither ought God to be called Man, nor Man to, be called God," etc. Thus Abaelard shows himself a Nestorian, while petulantly accusing Bernard of error. Rightly does William of Saint Thierry reply in his 8th chapter to Abaelard with regard to this passage: "Thus we say similarly that Christ is the Son of Man in the nature of His Humanity, but not from that according to which He. has union with God, and is One of the Three Persons in the Trinity; because, as God Incarnate was made the Son of Man on account of the human nature which He assumed, so the man united to the Son of God has become the Son of God on account of the Divine Nature which has united him to itself."
6. Besides the heads of errors which Bernard refutes in these books, he groups together some others in No.10, contenting himself with exposing them; these have been refuted by other authors, viz., by William, and by the unknown Abbot. As to the Eucharistic species or the accidents, which, according to Abaelard, remain in the air after consecration, this was the view of William: "It appears to me, if you agree with me," he says, writing to Geoffrey, Bishop of Chartres, and to Bernard, "that those accidents, i.e., the form of the earlier substance, which, I believe, is nothing else than a harmonious combination of accidents into one, if they still exist, do so in the Body of the Lord, not forming it, but by the power and wisdom of God working upon them, shaping and modifying it, that it may become capable, according to the purpose of the mystery and the manner of a Sacrament, of being touched and tasted in a form different from that proper to it, which it could not do in its own." He says again in his book to Rupertus, De Corpore et Sanguine Domini, c.3: "In opposition to every conception and mode of reasoning in secular philosophy, the substance of bread is changed into another substance, and has carried with it certain accidents into the Eucharistic mystery, but without altering them from what they were, and in such a manner that the Body of the Lord is not either white or round, though whiteness and roundness are associated with it. Arid it so retains these accidents that although they are truly present with His Human Body, yet they are not in It, do not touch it, or affect it," etc.
7. It was not only with respect to the Incarnation of Our Lord that Abaelard thought, or at least expressed himself, in an erroneous manner. He was equally in error on the subject of the grace of Christ, which he reduced simply to the reason granted to man by God, to the admonitions of the Holy Scriptures, and to good examples, and thus made it common to all men. "We may say, then," he taught, "that man, by the reason which he has received from God, is able to embrace the grace which is offered him; nor does God do any more for a person who is saved before he has embraced the offered grace, than for one who is not saved. But just as a man who exposes precious jewels for sale, in order to excite in those who see them the wish to purchase; thus God makes His grace known before all, exhorts us by the Scriptures, and reminds us by examples, so that men, in the power of that liberty of will which they have, may decide to embrace the offer of grace." And a little farther on he continues: "That vivification is attributed to grace: because Reason, by which man discerns between good and evil, and understands that he ought to abstain from the one and to do the other, comes from God. And therefore it is said that he does this under the inspiration of God: because God enables him by the gift of Reason which He has bestowed to recognize what is sinful." Such were the errors William has extracted, among many others, from the writings of Abaelard, and without doubt from his Theology, which, perhaps because of these and other similar passages, was mutilated by his scholars. Nor can we refuse to credit the good faith of William, who was a learned and pious man: especially as Abaelard in his Book iv., on the Epistle to the Romans, teaches the same hurtful doctrine (p.653 and following). We learn from all these expressions of Abaelard that he thought, or at least certainly wrote, with the same impiety concerning the grace of Christ as he did on the Incarnation, and that Bernard was perfectly correct in saying (Letter 192): "He speaks of the Trinity like Arius, of grace like Pelagius, and of the Person of Christ like Nestorius." Proof of the truth of these words of Bernard as concerns the two last charges will be found in reading the letter given here; and as to the third, it will be sufficient to show that Bernard has in nowise exaggerated, to read the end of Book iii. of the Theology of Abaelard; there it will be found in his own words, « that those who abhor our words respecting the faith may be easily convinced when they hear that God the Father and God the Son are joined with us according to the sense of the words." In what manner? "Let us ask, then," he continues, i, if they believe in the wisdom of God of which it is written: Thou hast made all things with wisdom, O Lord, and they will reply without hesitation that they do so believe. But this is to believe in the Son; as for believing in the Holy Ghost, it is nothing else than believing in the goodness of God." These words seem clearly to be not only Arian, but even Sabellian, although, as I must frankly confess, Abaelard formally rejects that error in its logical consequences in another passage on p, 1069. But especially in matters of faith, it is a matter of importance, not only to think rightly, but also to speak and write with exactness. Thus it is with reason that William of Saint Thierry says in citing the very words of Abaelard with respect to the brass and the seal, and with respect to power in general and a certain power: "As for the Divine Persons, he destroys them like Sabellius, and when he speaks of their unlikeness and their inequality, he goes straight to the feet of Arius in his opinion." I only cite these passages to make those persons ashamed who, although they detest these errors, yet take up the defence of Abaelard against Bernard, and do not hesitate to accuse the latter of precipitation and of excess of zeal against him. William de Conches expresses himself in almost the same manner as Abaelard with respect to the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and Abbot William of S. Thierry confutes his errors also in his letter to Bernard. Nor is there anything worse that can happen to religion than that philosophers should attempt to explain the mysteries of our faith by the power of Reason alone.
8. Geoffrey, secretary of S. Bernard, gives an account of the whole business of Abaelard in a letter to Henry, Cardinal and Bishop of Albano: "I have heard also that your Diligence desires to know the entire truth respecting the condemnation of Peter Abaelard, whose books Pope Innocent II., of pious memory, condemned to be burned solemnly at Rome in the Church of S. Peter, and declared him by Apostolical authority to be a heretic. Some years before a certain venerable Cardinal, Legate of the Roman Church, by name Conon, once a Canon of the Church of S. Nicholas of Artois, had already condemned his Theology in the same way to be burned, during a council at Soissons in which he presided, the said Abaelard having been present and having been condemned of heretical pravity. If you desire it he will satisfy you by the book of The Life of S. Bernard, and by his letters sent to Rome on that subject. I have found also at Clairvaux a little book of a certain Abbot of Black Monks, in which the errors of the same Peter Abaelard are noted, and I remember to have seen it on a previous occasion; but for many years, as the keepers of the books assert, the first four sheets of this little book, although diligently sought for, could not be found. Because of this I have had the intention to send some one into France to the Abbey of the writer of that little book, so as, if I should be able to recover it, to have it copied, and send it to you. I believe that your curiosity will be completely satisfied in, learning in what respects, how, and wherefore he was condemned."
It is thus that Geoffrey expresses himself. (Notes of Duchesne to Abaelard.) I pass over the vision related by Henry, Canon of Tours, to the Fathers of the Synod of Sens and to Bernard (Spicileg., Vol. xii. p.478 et seqq.).
9. After I had written what precedes, our brother, John Durand, who was then occupied at Rome, sent me the Capitula Hæresum Petri Abaelardi, which were placed at the head of the following letter, taken from the very faulty MS. in the Vatican, No.663. These were, without doubt, those which Bernard, at the end of this letter, states that he had collected, and transmitted to the Pontiff. It seems well to place them here for the illustration of the letter.
HEADS OF HERESIES OF PETER ABAELARD.
I.-The shocking analogy made between a brazen seal, and between genus and species, and the Holy Trinity.
The Wisdom of God being a certain power, as a seal of brass is a certain [portion of] brass; it follows clearly that the Wisdom of God has its being from His Power, similarly as the brazen is said to be what it is from its material: or the species derives what it is from its genus, which is, as it were, the material of the species, as the animal is of man. For just as, in order that there may be a brazen seal, there must be brass, and in order that there may be man, there must be the genus Animal, but not reciprocally: so in order that there may be the Divine Wisdom, which is the power of discernment, there must be the Divine Power; but the reciprocal does not follow." And a little further on we read: "The Beneficence, the name under which the Holy Spirit is designated, is not in God Wisdom or Power."
II. -- That the Holy Spirit is not of the Substance of the Father.
"The Son and the Holy Spirit are of the Father, the One by the way of generation, the Other by that of procession. Generation differs from procession in that He who is generated is of the very Substance of the Father, whilst the essence of Wisdom itself is, as was said, to be a certain Power." And a little further on we read: "As for the Holy Spirit, although He be of the same Substance with the Father and the Son, whence even the Trinity itself is called consubstantial (homoousion), yet He is not at all of the Substance of the Father or of the Son, as He would be if generated of the Father or the Son; but rather He has of them the Procession, which is that God, through love, extends Himself to another than Himself. For like as any one proceeds through love from his own self to another, since, as we have said above, no one can be properly said to have love towards himself, or to be beneficent towards himself, but towards another. But this is especially true of God, who having need of nothing, cannot be moved by the feeling of beneficence towards His own self, to bestow something on Himself out of beneficence, but only towards creatures."
III. -- That God is able to do what He does, or to refrain from doing it, only in the manner or at the time in which He does so act or refrain, and in no other.
"By the reasoning by which it is shown that God the Father has generated the Son of as great goodness as He was able, since otherwise He would have yielded to envy; it is also clear that all which He does or makes, He does or makes as excellent as He is able to do; nor does He will to withhold a single good that He is capable of bestowing." And a little farther on we read: "In everything that God does, He so proposes to Himself that which is good, that it may be said of Him that He is made willing to do that which He does rather by the price (as it were) of good, than by the free determination of His own Will." Also: "From this it therefore appears, and that both by reason and by the Scriptures, that God is able to do that only which He does." And a little farther: "Who, if He were able to interfere with the evil things which are done, would yet only do so at the proper time, since He can do nothing out of the proper time; consequently I do not see, in what way He would not be consenting to sinful actions. For who can be said to consent to evil, except he by whom it may be interfered with at the proper time?" Also: "The reason which I have given above and the answers to objections seem to me to make clear that God is able to do what He does, or to refrain from doing it, only in the manner or at the time, in which He does so act or refrain, and in no other."
IV. -- That Christ did not assume our flesh in order to free us from the yoke of the devil.
"It should be known that all our Doctors who were after the Apostles agree in this, that the devil had dominion and power over man, and held him in bondage of right." And a little farther on: "It seems to me that the devil has never had any right over man, but rightly held him in bondage as a jailer, God permitting; nor did the Son of God assume our flesh in order to free us from the yoke of the devil." And again: "How does the Apostle say that we are justified or reconciled to God by the death of His Son, when on the contrary, He ought to have been more angry still against man, who had committed in putting His Son to death, a fault much more great than in transgressing His first precept by eating one apple; and would it not have been more just? For if that first sin of Adam was so great, that it could not be expiated except by the death of Christ; what is there which can be capable of expiating the Death of Christ itself, and all the great cruelties committed upon Him and His Saints? (See Letter V.21.) Did the death of His innocent Son please God so much, that for the sake of it He has become reconciled to us, who have caused it by our sins, on account of which the innocent Lord was slain? And could He forgive us a fault much less great, only on condition that we committed a sin so enormous? Were multiplied sins needful in order to the doing of so great a good, as to deliver us from our sins and to render us, by the death of the Son of God, more righteous than we were before?" Again: "To whom will it not seem cruel and unjust that one should have required the innocent blood, or any price whatever, or that the slaughter of the innocent, under any name or title, should be pleasing to him? Still less that God hell the death of His Son so acceptable that He would, for its sake, be reconciled to the world. These and similar considerations raise questions of great importance, not only concerning redemption, but also concerning our justification by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. But it seems to me that we were nevertheless justified by the Blood of Christ, and reconciled with God by the special grace shown to us when His Son took upon Him our nature, and in it gave us an example both by word and deed, until His Death. He has united us so closely with Him by His love for us, that we are fired by so great benefit of Divine grace, and will hesitate at no suffering, provided it be for Him. Which benefit indeed we do not doubt aroused the ancient Fathers, who looked forward to this by faith, to an ardent love of God, as well as those of more recent time." And below: "I think then that the cause and design of the Incarnation was to enlighten the world with the wisdom of God, and arouse it to love of Him."
V. -- Neither God-and-Man, nor the Man who is Christ, is one of the three Persons in the Trinity.
"When I say that Christ is one of the Three Persons in the Trinity I mean this: that the Word, who was from eternity one of the Three Persons in the Trinity, is so; and I think that this expression is figurative. For if we should regard it as literal, since the name of Christ means He who is God-and-Man, then the sense would be, that God-and-Man is one of the Three Persons of the Trinity. Which is entirely false." And a little farther on: "It should be stated that although we allow that Christ is one of the Three Persons in the Trinity, yet we do not allow that the Person who is Christ is one of the Three Persons in the Trinity."
VI. -- That God does no more for a person who is saved, before he has accepted grace offered, than for one who is not saved.
"It is frequently asked whether it is true, as is said by some persons, that all men need to be saved by the mercy of God, and that their need is such that no one is able to have the will to do good unless by the preventing grace of God, which influences his heart and inspires in him the will to do good, and multiplies it when produced, and preserves it after having been multiplied. If it is true that man is not able to do anything good by himself, and that he is incapable of raising himself up in any way whatever by his free will for the reception of Divine grace, without the help of that grace, as is asserted, it does not appear on what ground, if he sins, he can be punished. For if he is not able to do anything good of himself, and if he is so constituted that he is more inclined to evil than to good, is he not free from blame if he sins, and is God who has given to him a nature so weak and subvertible deserving of praise for having created such a being? Or, on the contrary, does it not rather seem that He merits to be reproached?" And a little farther on: "If it were true that man is unable to raise himself up without the grace of another, in order to receive the Divine grace, there does not seem to be any reason wherefore man should be held culpable; and it would seem that if he has not the grace of God the blame should be rather reflected upon his Creator. But this is not so, but very far otherwise, according to the truth of the case, for we must lay down that man is able to embrace that grace which is offered to him by the reason which has, indeed, been bestowed upon him by God; nor does God do anything more for a person, who is saved before he has accepted the grace offered to him, than for another who is not saved. In fact, God behaves with regard to men in like manner as a merchant who has precious stones to sell, who exhibits them in the market, and offers them equally to all, so that he may excite in those who view them a desire to purchase. He who is prudent, and who knows that he has need of them, labours to obtain the means, gains money and purchases them; on the contrary, he who is slow and indolent, although he desires to have the jewels, and although her may be also more robust in body than the other, because he is indolent does not labour, and, therefore, does not purchase them, so that the blame for being without them belongs to himself. Similarly, God puts His grace before the eyes of all, and advises them in the Scriptures and by eminent doctors to avail themselves of their freedom of will to embrace this offered grace; certainly he who is prudent and provident for his future, acts according to his free will, in which he can embrace this grace. But the slothful, on the contrary, is entangled with carnal desires, and although he desires to attain blessedness, yet he is never willing to endure labour in restraining himself from evil, but neglects to do what he ought, although he would be able by his free will to embrace the grace offered him, and so he finds himself passed over by the Almighty."
VII. -- That God ought not to hinder evil actions.
"In the first place, we must determine what it is to consent to evil, and what not to do so. He, then, is said to consent to evil who, when he can and ought to prevent it, does not do so; but if he ought to prevent it, but has not the power, or if, on the contrary, though he has the power, he ought not to do so, he is blameless. Much less if he neither has the power, nor ought, if he had, to prevent it, is he to be blamed. And, therefore, God is far from giving consent to evil actions, since He neither ought, nor has the power, to interfere with them. He ought not, since if an action develops by His goodness in a particular manner, than which none can be better, in no wise ought He to wish to interfere with it. He is, furthermore, not able, because His goodness, though it has chosen a minor good, cannot put an obstacle to that which is greater."
VIII. -- That we have not contracted from Adam guilt, but penalty.
"It should be known that when it is said, Original sin is in infants, this is spoken of the penalty, temporal and eternal, which is incurred by them through the fault of their first parent." And a little farther on: "Similarly it is said, In whom all have sinned (Rom. v.12), in the sense that when he (our first parent) sinned we were all in him in germ. But it does not, therefore, follow that all have sinned, since they did not then exist; for whoever does not exist does not sin."
IX. -- That the Body of the Lord did not fall to the ground.
"On the subject of this species of Bread and Wine which is turned into the Body of Christ it is asked whether they continue to exist in the Body of Christ, in the substance of bread and wine as they were before, or whether they are in the air. It is probable that they exist in the air, since the Body of Christ had its form and features, as other human bodies. As for the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, they serve only to cover and conceal the Body of Christ in the mouth." And a little farther on: "It is asked again concerning this, that it seems to be multiple . . . wherefore it is ordered to be preserved from one Saturday to the next, as we read was done with the shew bread. It seems also to be gnawed by mice, and to fall to the ground from the hands of a priest or deacon. And, therefore, it is asked, wherefore God permits such things to happen to His Body; or whether, perhaps, these things do not really happen to the Body, but are only so done in appearance, and to the species? To which I reply, that these things do not really affect the Body, but that God allows them to happen to the species in order to reprove. the negligence of the ministers. As for His Body, He replaces and preserves it as it pleases Him to do."
X. -- That man is made neither better nor worse by works.
"It is frequently asked what it is that is recompensed by the Lord: the work or the intention, or both. For authority seems to decide that what God rewards eternally are works, for the Apostle says God will render to every man according to his works (Romans ii.6). And Athanasius says: They will have to give account of their own works.' And a little farther on he says: And those who have done good shall go into life eternal, but those who have done evil into eternal fire (S. Matt. xxv.46, and S. John v.29). But I say that they were eternally recompensed by God either for good or for evil; nor is man made either better or worse because of works, at least only so far as, that while he is doing them his will towards either good or evil gathers force. Nor is this contrary to the Apostle, or to other authors, because when the Apostle says God will render to each, etc., he puts the effect for the cause, that is to say, the action for the will or intention.
XI. -- That those who crucified Christ ignorantly committed no sin; and that whatsoever is done through ignorance ought not to be counted as a fault.
"There is objected to us the action of the Jews who have crucified Christ; that of the men who in persecuting the Martyrs thought that they were doing God service; and finally that of Eve, who did not act against her conscience since she was tempted, and yet it is certain that she committed sin. To which I say that in truth those Jews in their simplicity were not acting at all against their conscience, but rather persecuted Christ from zeal for their law; nor did they think that they were acting wickedly, and, therefore, they did not sin; nor were any of them eternally condemned on account of this, but because of their previous sins, because of which they rightly fell into that state of darkness. And among them were even some of the elect, for whom Christ prayed, saying: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (S. Luke xxxiii.34). He did not ask in this prayer that this particular sin might be forgiven to them, since it was not really a sin, but rather their previous sins."
XII. -- Of the power of binding and loosing.
"That which is said in S. Matthew, whatsoever thou shall bind on earth, etc. (xvi.19) is thus to be understood: Whatsoever thou shah bind on earth, i.e., in the present life, shall be bound also in heaven, i.e., in the present Church." And a little farther on: "The Gospel seems to contradict us when we say that God alone is able to forgive sins, for Christ says to His disciples receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosoever's sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them (S. John xx.22, 23), But I say that this was spoken to the Apostles alone, not to their successors." And immediately he adds "If, however, any one shall say that this applies also to their successors, it will be needful in that case to explain this passage also in the same manner in which I have explained the preceding."
XIII. -- Concerning suggestion, delectation, and consent.
"It should be known also that suggestion is not a sin for him to whom the suggestion is made, nor the delectation which follows the suggestion, which delectation is produced in the soul because of our weakness, and by the remembrance of the pleasure which is bound in the accomplishment of the thing which the tempter suggests to our mind. It is only consent, which is also called a contempt of God, in which sin consists." And a little farther on: "I do not say that the will of doing this or that, nor even the action itself is sin, but rather, as has been said above, that the contempt itself of God in some act of the will that constitutes sin."
XIV. -- That Omnipotence belongs properly and specially to the Father.
"If we refer power as well t0 the idea of Being as to efficacy of working, we find Omnipotence to attach properly and specially to the proprium of the Person of the Father: since not only is He Almighty with the Two other Persons, but also He alone possesses His Being from Himself and not from another. And as He exists from Himself, so He is equally Almighty by Himself."