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LAYMAN. Since such is your firmness and readiness of mind, first, I counsel you of God's love, to be and remain always obedient to your order and superiors. For it can scarcely be but that, if you wish to enter on the better, nearer, and narrow path, you will be afflicted and vexed, and particularly by your order and brother monks. And when this happens, your subtle intellect and feelings will suggest many plans to you, will advise your going to the pope or elsewhere, or search for various modes of avoiding this cross. But against this temptation you must be strictly on your guard. You must, on the contrary, bear whatever is painful to you with patience, and persevere always in humble obedience: for you must walk in the way which our Lord pointed out to the young man of whom I spoke. You must take up your cross, and follow your Saviour and his example, and that with true, great, and patient humility. You must also renounce the acute, subtle, and proud intellect which you have got from your study of scripture. For some time you must give over reading and studies, and not even preach. And when they who are accustomed to confess to you come for that end, you must adopt a simple behaviour, and the moment you have heard their confession, must leave them, and say nothing to them,-give them no advice, but simply say, “ I will first learn how I ought to advise you, and when I know it well will then give you my advice." And if they ask when you are to preach, you may, without equivocation, say, that you have business to do; and thus, by degrees, you shall alienate yourself from society.
THAULER. If I am forbidden to preach, I have no employment left. What shall I do?
LAYMAN. Betake yourself to your cell, read your Hours, and, when you can, go through them with the others in the choir. Every day, too, unless some real hindrance arises, you shall perform divine servíce, or celebrate mass. And then, if you have any time left, you shall employ it in meditating on the life, passion, and example of our Lord, considering how unlike your life is to his
. Meanwhile you shall go over, in the bitterness of your soul, all your years and the past time, in which you sinfully loved yourself
, noting how little was your love to God, and, on the other hand, how great was his love to you. These are the things which you must diligently study; and thus it will be possible that you attain to true humility, and that you give up your old conversation and habits for better. Then, when that time comes, which will be well known to God, he will suddenly change you into a different person and a new man; so that you are born again of him, and become altogether a new man.
But before that regeneration can be effected in you, you must sell all you have, and humbly resign it to God; that is, you must wholly renounce all the curious spirit of inquiry and subtlety of your senses and intellect, and all from which you could gain honour or pleasure, and, in fine, all the satisfaction which you have hitherto possessed in your own nature, and on which, according to your nature, you have too much rested, and, with the blessed Magdalen, you must throw yourself at your Lord's feet ; for you must be wholly dead to all these things. Now, if you
undertake this course, you will present a pleasing and grateful sight to God, inasmuch as he cannot see all this without pleasure; and it is to be believed that he will not so act as not to propel and urge you forward, that you may be the more approved and purified, like gold in the fire. It may be that he will partly hold forth to you the cup of love which he gave to his only begotten Son; I mean, that all that you have ever done, or left undone, and your whole life, shall be wholly despised by every body; that they who used to confess to you shall give you up, as void of all sense and reason; that all your friends, and a good part of your brethren who live in the monastery, shall be offended and scandalized at your life, and say one to the other that you have taken up a new mode of life, which has made you almost foolish. Wherefore, when all this happens, do not be afraid, sir, but rather rejoice in your God, since your salvation is nigh. Your weak nature will, doubtless, feel some trembling; but have a full and great trust in your God; he will never forsake you. Moreover, when you are under this affliction, it can scarce be but that the thought should occur to you to ask or desire of God that he would give you some supernatural comfort, and make you experience some sweetness. When this is so, be assured that this desire does not come from God, but rather from some remnant of pride in your nature; for it is a great piece of presumption for any one to dare to ask such supernatural gifts of God. If, therefore, you feel such a desire, oppose it with all your might, and suppress it with great and humble resignation, saying, both with heart and voice, " Oh, most holy God, it much and wholly perplexes me, and I deeply grieve that I feel so strong a desire within me, when I well know that I am quite unworthy of such great gifts from thee, nay, unworthy to tread on the earth.” And when you have uttered this, do not be very much alarmed, even if you do not feel it so entirely in your heart, but rather impose this punishment on yourself, that as often as you feel this desire arise, you scourge yourself with rods. And if it does not cease upon this, you must bear it as a temptation as long as it pleases God that you should suffer it. Now, if you resolve on this course, nothing, be assured, will be more useful to you than that you should resign yourself to God with the most profound and decided resignation, whatever happen, be it pleasant or bitter, whether it gives pleasure or torment, so that you can say to God, truly, “Oh, most adorable and holy God, even if I were to remain in this life and this affliction to the last day of judgment by thy will, yet would I pot desire to desert thee, but constantly to abide with thee.” But, in truth, sir, I am clear enough (in God's grace) that there is that in your heart which makes you say inwardly, that what I have been saying is very hard and difficult; I therefore protested to you before, that if you start off from the proposed plan, as that young man did, I am not to be blamed.
THAULER. What you say is quite true; for your discourse does appear to me to be very hard.
LAYMAN. Yet you asked me to shew you the shortest road to the highest perfection in this life; and I certainly know no safer way than that is, to imitate the most sacred example of Christ in his human nature. I therefore earnestly advise you to give yourself proper time to deliberate; betake yourself to your own thoughts, and without fear enter on whatever you know that God inspires you to do.
THAULER. Your counsel pleases me, and I will do so, and see if, with the aid of divine grace, I can conquer myself.
A week passed, and Dr. Thauler again sent a messenger to call the Layman to him. When he came, Thauler thus addressed him :
THAULER. My beloved son, I can scarcely tell you what fightings, grief, struggles, and contests I have borne, day and night, before, with God's aid, I could attain to a victory over the devil and the flesh, i.e., nature. But now, by God's grace, I have got a mind wholly undaunted and ready, and a true and entire will; so that, God being my helper, I shall with joy enter on the way which you have taught me; and how troublesome soever it will perhaps be to my nature, yet it must be patiently borne, nor will I, on that account, at all shrink back, but, by God's grace, will persevere stably and constantly in my purpose.
LAYMAN. Do you remember still the words which I lately said to
THAULER. As soon as you left me, I wrote them all down carefully.
LAYMAN. I congratulate you, sir, and from my heart rejoice with you that you have got so ready, strenuous, and bold a mind; and am no less interested in you than in myself. Now, therefore, begin confidently in God's name, and act like a man.
The Layman then took his leave, and went away.
Dr. Thauler, therefore, obeying the instruction and counsels of the Layman, entered on the work enjoined him; and he at once gave up what he was ordered to give up. Whence it happened that, before one year
had passed, he was looked down upon by those who lived in the monastery with him, as much as he had been courted and honoured before. His particular friends, too, and all, both men and women, who nsed to confess to him, and, in a word, all who had known and loved him, became as estranged from him as if they had never known him, which was very painful, and annoying to his feelings. Besides, his head began to be very much weakened, which caused him great alarm. He therefore sent a person to call the Layman, and told him everything which had happened, and how his nature was giving way in strength too much, and especially how he felt no little anxiety as to the weakness of his head. The Layman answered thus :
LAYMAN. Do not be alarmed, sir, but resign yourself humbly to God, and trust much in him. Everything about you pleases me well enough. You are going on well, and will go on yet better. You yourself certainly know that he who would attain to the right path, and walk in it, must follow our Lord and Saviour through some sufferings, at least, and adversities. Be not, then, at all alarmed, but leave yourself wholly to God; for I experienced what you do. Mean
. while, do not the less, while under this suffering, take care to keep up your strength discreetly, by the use of better food. When I was suffering from the same weakness, a confection was made of aromatics, which relieved my head, and I will have the same made for you. But be assured that I gave myself up to God, that he might do as he would with
soul and body. THAULER. You teach me differently, however, in exhorting me to succour my weakness by better food.
LAYMAN. No one should tempt God. While under this weakness,
God willingly allows you to give support to your frame, especially your head. Go on then, sir, as you have begun, trusting in the divine aid, and resign yourself to God in everything, with great and true humility. Trust your God, and expect his grace, and whatever he requires of you, sweet or bitter, see that to your utmost you satisfy him. As to me, I beg of you, for God's sake, not to be grieved if I cannot be near you now any longer, for a weighty cause compels me to leave you. But if you positively will not, or cannot do without me, send to à certain place, and I shall allow myself to be found there. But if you can persevere without the aid of any mortal creature, that will be best
THAULER. Do not speak thus, my beloved son; for I shall not be able to do without you long, and your wish to leave me certainly torments me and grieves my mind vehemently. Yet, as you say that a serious affair, which relates to God, compels you to go, I will control and resign myself, and bear your absence as long as I can.
LAYMAN. Since, then, you are now under the Lord's rod and scourges, to which you willingly offered yourself, you must live with great caution. Take care that you do to yourself what is right. Be not disturbed at being left by the creature. If you want money, pledge some of your MSS., and take up money on them. Take care, however, not to sell one of them, for I think that the time will come when they will be necessary to you.
After so saying, the Layman bid Dr. Thauler farewell, and departed; Thauler weeping for his departure, and commending himself to God.
(To be continued.)
SCRIPTURE READERS IN THE DARK AGES.
If the scriptures were as little known in the Dark Ages as some writers would have us believe, it would be hard to account for one very common feature in the biography of ecclesiastics of that period, written by those who were quite, or almost, their contemporaries. Treating the history of those times as it has been too often treated, we may, indeed, whenever we meet with anything opposed to our previous opinion, set it down at once as an exaggeration, or falsehood, or some absurd fruit of inconceivable ignorance and stupidity. But in a great many cases this will not help; and at the same time will not prevent the statement from being of great value; for I need scarcely say that we may often learn nearly as much from falsehood as from truth, though the information may
very different in kind from that which it was the writer's intention to convey. It is, for instance, obvious, that if a contemporary biographer describes the subject of his memoirs as pulling down an old wooden church and building a stone one, so much to the satisfaction of the patron saint that he came himself in the night, and set up three great bells in addition to the three little ones of the old church-if, I say, we are told this, all or any part of it may be untrue, and the untruth may arise from the intention or mistake of the writer; but at least we attain a high probability that there were wooden churches and stone churches in his days, and that both might have bells. Indeed we are apt to suppose, that what a legend writer tells us of his saint is somewhat adapted to the taste and knowledge of those for whom he wrote, and that, even while we disbelieve his facts, we may gather from him some idea of the opinions and feelings of society in his time. Perhaps we are even liable to carry this too far; but when we do, the fault more commonly lies in building on single instances, or generalizing from a few particular cases, than in the original principle and ground of judgment. That ground is solid, and by these remarks I do not mean to throw suspicion on the statements of which I am about to avail myself, but only to remind the reader that for our present purpose it really matters but little, if at all, whether the biographers of the Dark Ages were scrupulously correct or not. As to the fact, I dare say that a great deal of their biography was affected by passion and prejudice, sometimes intended to deceive and sometimes written in error,—some, in short, as bad in every variety of way as anything in our days,—but I really believe that a great part of it is more simple, and therefore more credible; except on those points respecting which the writer was, from the superstition of the time, more likely to be deceived himself.
Be this as it may, it is certain that a very common subject of eulogium on the ecclesiastics of those times is that they were much devoted to the study of the scriptures, and possessed a great knowledge of them. Several instances of this have occurred already incidentally; and I will here add a few others.
The biographer of St. Luidger, bishop of Munster, who died in the year 809, tells us that he was well instructed in the sacred writings ; and did not neglect to lecture his disciples daily; and whatever he found to be enjoined in the holy books, he studied to practise and teach.* I have already, I believe more than once, cautioned the reader that even such terms as scripturæ sacræ in writers of the Dark Ages do not always mean the Bible ; but it may be well to repeat it here, and when the expression is ambiguous he will judge for himself, whether it is used with that laxity by which it sometimes includes the writings of the fathers, and ecclesiastical historians. It may probably do so here; but I should not mention St. Luidger where doubtful instances are not worth quoting, if I really doubted the fact in his case, and also (to say the truth) if it were not for a little anecdote which his biographer records, and which it is to our general purpose to mention. We may perhaps assume that the pupil of Alcuin, who after spending three years and a half with him at York, returned “ habens copiam librorum," was not unacquainted with the scriptures, especially as his
. “Erat sanctus Lutgerus in Scripturis sacris non mediocriter eruditus, sicut in libro ab eo composito......probatur...... Discipulis etiam suis mane diebus singulis tradere per se lectiones non neglexit, et quicquid in sacris codicibus faciendum invenit, illud instantissime studuit observare et docere."-Leib. Sc. Br. i. 93. See also Mab. A. SS. v. 27.