|« Prev||Meditation IV. Concerning the Redemption of…||Next »|
Concerning the Redemption of Mankind.
O CHRISTIAN soul, soul raised up from a grievous death, soul redeemed and delivered from a miserable slavery by the blood of God, arouse thy mind from sleep, bethink thee of thy resurrection, remember thy redemption and deliverance. Consider where and what is the strength of thy salvation,155155 Ps. cxl. 7. occupy thyself in meditating thereon, delight thyself in the contemplation thereof; put away thy daintiness, force thyself, give thy mind thereto; taste of the goodness of thy Redeemer, kindle within thyself the love of thy Saviour. With thy mind eat of the honeycomb of His words, with thine understanding suck out their sweetness, for they are sweeter than honey;156156 Ps. xix. 10; cxix. 103. by loving them and rejoicing therein feed thou upon them, for they are savoury and wholesome withal. Rejoice in that eating, be glad in that sucking out of the sweetness, make merry in that feeding upon them. Where then and what is the power and might of thy salvation? Surely it is Christ that hath raised thee up. He, the good Samaritan, hath healed thee; He, thy good Friend, with His own life hath redeemed and delivered thee; even Christ, I say, and none else. Therefore it is Christ that is the strength 106of thy salvation. Where is this strength that is Christ? He hath horns coming out of His hands; and there was the hiding of His power.157157 Habakkuk iii. 4. The word horns here means rays, as it is translated in the Revised Version. The traditional representation of Moses with horns on his head is due to a similar literal understanding of Exod. xxxiv. 29, where it is said that the skin of his face sent forth horns, that is, rays of light, after his converse with God in the Mount. Horns He hath in His hands, because His hands are fastened to the arms of the Cross. But what power is there in this great weakness? what loftiness in that great lowliness? what that is honourable in that great humiliation? Verily it is therefore a hiding of His power; it is hidden, because it is in weakness; concealed, because in lowliness; secret, because in humiliation. O hidden power! that a Man, hanging upon the Cross should hang up thereon that eternal death which oppressed mankind, that a Man bound to a tree should unbind the world which was made fast to death everlasting! O concealed loftiness! that a Man condemned with robbers should save men who were condemned with devils, that a Man stretched upon the Cross should draw all things unto Himself!158158 John xii. 32, acc. to the Vulgate. O secret might! that one Soul yielded in torment should draw souls innumerable out of hell, that a Man should endure the death of the body, and destroy thereby the death of souls!
Wherefore, O good Lord, O gracious Redeemer, 107wherefore didst Thou veil so great power in so great lowliness? Was it that Thou mightest thereby deceive the devil, who by deceiving man did cast him out of paradise? But of a surety the Truth deceiveth none. He who knoweth not, who believeth not the truth, deceiveth himself; and whoso seeth the truth and hateth it or despiseth it, deceiveth himself; the truth deceiveth none. Was it therefore that the devil might deceive himself? But as the Truth deceiveth none, so neither doth it go about to make any deceive himself, though, when it permitteth it, it be said to do it. For Thou didst not take upon Thyself the nature of man, to hide Thyself from those who knew Thee, but to reveal Thyself to those that knew Thee not. Thou didst call Thyself very God and very Man, and didst show Thyself such by Thy works. The thing was secret of its own nature, it was not of said purpose made secret: it was not so done as to be hid, but so as to be accomplished in due course; not to deceive any, but to be done as it ought to be done. And if it be called secret, that signified! no more than that it was not revealed to all. For although the Truth reveal not itself to all, to none doth it deny itself. Therefore, O Lord, Thou didst do thus, neither to deceive any, nor to cause any to deceive himself, but, that Thou mightest do what was to be done as it ought to be done, Thou didst throughout abide in the truth. Let him therefore that deceiveth himself in Thy 108truth, complain not of Thee, but of his own unfaithfulness to truth.
Shall we say that the devil had any just claim against God or against men, on account whereof God must first thus deal with him on man’s behalf, before He may put forth openly His mighty power, so that by unjustly slaying a just man, he might justly lose the power which he had over the unjust? But surely God owed the devil nothing but the punishment of his sins; neither did man owe him anything except to overcome sin in his turn, so that as man once through committing sin suffered himself to be easily overcome by the devil, so man should overcome the devil in the very straits of death, by keeping even therein his righteousness unimpaired. But even this too man owed not to the devil but to God only. For the sin which he committed was not against the devil, but against God; neither did man belong to the devil, but man and the devil alike belonged to God. And in that the devil afflicted men, this he did not out of zeal for righteousness, but out of zeal for wickedness; not by the command of God, but by His permission only; because it was required by the justice, not of the devil, but of God. There was therefore nothing in the devil, by reason whereof God ought to have hidden or deferred the operation of His mighty power for the salvation of man.159159 On the views of the Atonement by the death of Christ which Anselm here rejects, see the Introduction.109
Was there then any necessity that constrained the Most High so to humble Himself, and the Almighty to accomplish a work with so great labour? Nay, all necessity and impossibility is dependent upon His will. For whatsoever He willeth, must of necessity be; and what He willeth not, it is impossible should be. Therefore of His free will alone, and because His will is ever good, out of mere goodness did He do this. For God wrought thus, not that He might in this manner, and no other accomplish the salvation of men; but it was the nature of man that required it in this manner to make satisfaction to God. God had no need to suffer things so troublesome, but man had need thus to be reconciled to God. God had no need of this humiliation, but man had need of being thus delivered out of the depths of hell. Now the divine nature neither needed humiliation or toil, nor was capable thereof. But human nature must suffer all this, that it might be restored to that state for which it was created; yet neither human nature nor aught that was less than God could be sufficient to this work. For man is not restored to that state for which he was made, if he be not advanced to be like unto the angels, in whom is no sin; and this cannot be, except he have received remission of all sins, which may not be done, unless full satisfaction have been made for them. Now this satisfaction can only be made, if the sinner, or someone on his behalf, offer of 110his own to God something which is not due to God, but which surpasseth whatsoever is not God. For if sin consisteth in the dishonouring of God, and if man ought not to dishonour God, even if it were necessary that everything which is not God should perish, then the unchangeable truth and manifest reason of the thing requireth that whatsoever sinneth should render to God, for the honour whereof it hath robbed Him, something greater than that at the cost whereof he was bound not to dishonour Him. But because human nature by itself had nothing so great to offer, and yet without such satisfaction made could not be reconciled, lest the justice of God should leave within His kingdom a sin for which no satisfaction could be made, the goodness of God came to the aid of His justice, and the Son of God took the nature of man upon Him in His own person, so that in that one person there should be a God-man, who should have a sacrifice to offer, exceeding in value not only everything that is not God, but also every debt that sinners ought to pay to God, and so, owing nothing Himself, should give this in payment for others, who had not wherewith to pay that which they owed. For the life of the man who is God is more precious than everything that is not God; and surpasseth every debt which sinners owe for the satisfaction of God. For if the putting to death of this Man exceedeth all sins which can be conceived, howsoever many and great they be, so they touch not the person 111 of God, it is manifest that the goodness of His life is greater than the evil of all sins which touch not the person of God. That life this Man who had not incurred the debt of death, because He had no sin, offered freely of His own to the honour of the Father, since He suffered it to be taken from Him for righteousness sake, to give an example to all that the righteousness of God should not be abandoned by us even unto that death, which they must at some time incur as a debt due from them; since He who had not incurred that death, and might without abandoning righteousness have escaped it, yet when it was brought upon Him suffered it freely for righteousness sake. Thus in that Man human nature offered to God freely and not as of debt what was its own, that it might redeem itself in the persons of others in whom it had not that which was due as a debt to offer. In all this the divine nature was not abased, but the human was exalted; the divine was not minished but the human in mercy sustained.
Neither did human nature in that Man suffer anything through any necessity, but through free will alone. Neither was it overcome by any violence, but of its own accord, out of goodness unconstrained, it endured to God’s honour and the profit of other men those things which the evil will of others brought upon it not through the compulsion of any obligation, but through the appointment of a wisdom that had power to accomplish its purposes. For the Father did 112not by His commandment compel that Man to die, but that which He knew would be pleasing to the Father and profitable to men, that of His own free will He performed: for the Father could not compel Him to do that which He had no right to exact of Him; neither could this great act of honour but be pleasing to the Father, which His Son freely offered to Him. Thus therefore He rendered unto the Father a free obedience, in willing freely to do that which He knew would be pleasing to the Father. But because the Father bestowed upon Him this good will, though it were free, yet is it rightly said that160160 Reading quia for qui. He received it as the commandment of the Father.161161 John x. 18. In this manner therefore He was obedient to the Father even unto death;162162 Philipp. ii. 8. and as the Father gave Him commandment, even so He did:163163 John xiv. 31. and He drank the cup which His Father had given unto Him.164164 John xviii. 11. This is the perfect and free obedience of human nature, when it freely submitteth its own free will to God’s will, and hath then of its own accord carried out in deed that good purpose which God hath not exacted but accepted. Thus this Man redeemeth all others, in that He reckoneth that which He hath freely given to God, as the debt which they owed to God. And by this price man is not only once redeemed from his faults but, so often as he returneth to God in worthy penitence, he is received; yet this 113worthy penitence is not promised to the sinner. As to that which was done on the Cross, by His Cross hath our Christ redeemed us. They therefore who desire to approach unto this grace with a worthy affection are saved; but they who despise it, because they pay not the debt which they owe, are condemned.165165 In Anselm’s view the debt due to God from sinners they can never pay; it can only be paid by Christ, who does not owe the debt, but has a sacrifice to offer to the Father worthy, as ours could never be, of His acceptance. By repentance and amendment however, which are all we can do, we accept the salvation offered to us through Christ’s vicarious sacrifice: if we do not repent and amend, then we have no part in the payment of our debt by Christ; we do not acknowledge that it is our debt which He paid. It cannot be denied that there is something artificial in the whole account of the matter here given; and it will seem the more artificial the more we forget that it is to be regarded less as a commentary upon the Gospel history than as an analysis of the relations in which the converted soul finds itself towards God and towards its own sins. Of that experience I believe that Anselm’s teaching is in essentials a true representation.
Behold, O Christian soul, this is the power of thy salvation, this the cause of thy liberty, this the price of thy redemption. Thou wast a captive and in this wise wast thou redeemed. Thou wast a slave, and thus wast thou made free; an exile and thus brought home; lost and thus found; dead and thus raised up. Upon this, O man, let thy heart feed, this let it inwardly digest, sucking out the sweetness and relishing the goodness thereof, at such times as thy mouth 114receiveth the flesh and blood of Him, thy Redeemer. Make this thy daily bread and sustenance in this life, and thy provision for the way,166166 Viaticum: Anselm has doubtless in his mind the use of this word for the Eucharist, when administered to the sick and dying as a provision from the journey from this world to the next. for by this and by this alone shalt thou both abide in Christ and Christ in thee, and in the life to come shall He be thy full joy.
But, O Lord, Thou that didst endure death that I might live, how shall I rejoice in my freedom, seeing it cometh but of the chains that bound Thee? how shall I take pleasure in my salvation, since it is wrought but by Thy sufferings? how shall I be glad of my life, which cometh only by Thy death? Shall I be glad of Thy sufferings and of their cruelty that did these things unto Thee? Or if I grieve for Thee, how shall I be glad of that for the sake whereof these things were done, and which would not be, had these things not been? But indeed their wickedness could have done nothing, except by Thy free sufferance, nor didst Thou suffer them except because in Thy goodness Thou didst will it so. And thus I ought to curse their cruelty, to imitate Thy death and sufferings by fellowship therein, by thanksgiving to show my love toward the kindness of Thy purpose concerning me, and so safely to rejoice in the good things which have been bestowed upon me by those means.115
Therefore, thou poor silly man, leave their cruelty to the judgment of God, and consider what thou owest to Thy Saviour. Remember how it was with thee, and what was done for thee, and consider how worthy is He of thy love who did this for thee. Behold thy need and His goodness, and see what thanks thou shouldest render Him and how much thou owest unto His love. Thou wast in darkness, in a slippery place, in the way that goeth down into the pit of hell, whence is no returning; a huge weight as of lead hanging upon thy neck did drag thee downwards, thy back was bowed down by a burden thou wast not able to bear, invisible foes drove thee onward with all their might. Thus wast thou without all help and knewest it not, because in this state was I conceived and born. O how was it then with thee? Whither were they hurrying thee? think thereon and tremble, consider and be afraid. O good Lord Jesus Christ, when I was thus set in the midst of these dangers and knew it not nor sought for deliverance, Thou didst shine forth upon me like the sun, and show me in what state I stood. Thou didst cast away that leaden weight which dragged me downwards; Thou didst remove the heavy burden which bowed me to the earth; Thou didst drive away them that urged me forward and didst set Thy face against them in my behalf. Thou didst call me by a new name which Thou gavest me after Thine own name. I was bowed 116together, and Thou didst lift me up to look upon Thy face, saying, Trust in Me, I have redeemed thee, I have given My life for thee; if thou cleave to Me, thou shalt escape the evils which were about thee, and shalt not fall into the pit whither thou wast hastening; I will lead thee unto My kingdom, and make thee an heir of God and joint heir with Me. Afterwards didst Thou receive me into Thy care, so that nothing should harm my soul against Thy will; and behold, though I have not stuck fast unto Thee, as Thou didst bid me, yet hast Thou not suffered me to fall into hell, but still lookest that I should cleave unto Thee and Thou do what Thou didst promise. Indeed, O Lord, thus I was, and these things hast Thou done unto me. I was in darkness, and knew nothing, not even myself; in a slippery place, because I was weak and frail, and ready to fall into sin; on the road downwards into the pit of hell, because in my first parents I had fallen from righteousness into unrighteousness, whereby is made the descent into hell, and from blessedness into temporal misery, whence one must fall into misery eternal. The weight of original sin dragged me downwards, and the insupportable burden of God’s judgment bowed down my back, and mine enemies the devils pressed hotly upon me, that, so far as in them lay, they might make me to sin yet more and so bring upon myself a greater condemnation. Thus was I destitute of all help when Thou didst shine 117forth upon me and show me in what state I stood. For even when I could not yet understand it, Thou didst teach all this to others who stood in my place,167167 The allusion is to the sponsors in baptism. and afterwards to myself, before I sought for it. Thou didst cast away the leaden weight that dragged me downwards, and the burden that was heavy upon my back, and the enemies that urged me to destruction, because Thou didst take away the sin wherein I was born and conceived, and the condemnation thereof, and didst forbid the wicked spirits to do any violence to my soul. Thou madest me to be called a Christian after Thy name; as Christ I confess Thee, as a Christian Thou knowest me among my redeemed; Thou hast lifted and raised me up to know and to love Thee; Thou hast made me to trust in the salvation of my soul, for the sake whereof Thou gavest Thy life, and Thou hast promised me Thy glory if I will follow Thee. And so, though even as yet I do not follow Thee as Thou didst counsel me, but have done many new sins which Thou hast forbidden, yet still Thou waitest till I shall follow Thee and Thou give me what Thou hast promised.
Consider, O my soul, consider earnestly, all that is within me, how much my whole being oweth unto Him. Truly, O Lord, because Thou madest me, I owe unto Thy love my whole self; because Thou didst redeem me, I owe Thee my whole self; because Thou makest 118me such great promises, I owe Thee my whole self, nay more, I owe unto Thy love more than myself, insomuch as Thou art greater than I, for whom Thou didst give Thyself, to whom Thou dost promise Thyself. Make me, I beseech Thee, O Lord, to taste by love that which I taste by knowledge; to perceive by affection what I perceive by understanding. I owe more than my whole self to Thee, but I have no more than this, neither can I of myself render even all this to Thee. Draw me, O Lord, into Thy love, even this whole self of mine. All that I am is Thine by creation, make it to be all Thine by love. Behold, O Lord, my heart is before Thee; it striveth, but of itself it cannot do what it would; do Thou do that which of itself it cannot do. Bring me into the secret chamber of Thy love. I ask, I seek, I knock. Thou who makest me to ask, make me also to receive; Thou grantest me to seek, grant me also to find; Thou teachest me to knock, do Thou open to my knocking. To whom dost Thou give, if Thou deniest him that asketh? Who is he that findeth, if he that seeketh is disappointed? What dost Thou give to him that prayeth not, if to him that prayeth Thou deniest Thy love? From Thee have I my desire; from Thee may I have also the accomplishment thereof. Cleave thou unto Him, cleave unto Him right earnestly, O my soul! O good Lord, good Lord, cast her not away! She is sick with hunger for 119Thy love, do Thou cherish her, and let her be satisfied with Thy loving-kindness, enriched by Thy favour, fulfilled by Thy love; yet let Thy love lay hold upon me and possess me wholly, because Thou art with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the one only God, blessed for ever world without end. Amen.120
|« Prev||Meditation IV. Concerning the Redemption of…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version