Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm Of Canterbury (commonly called St. Anselm) was born at Aosta, a town of the Alps, in Savoy, A.D. 1033. He was treated harshly by his father, and traveled early into France, and afterward into Normandy,where he took the monastic habit in 1060, at Bec, where Lanfranc, afterward archbishop I of Canterbury, was prior. Three years after, when Lanfranc was promoted to the abbacy of Caen, Anselm succeeded him as prior of Bec, and became abbot in 1078. Anselm came to England while prior of Bec, and afterward in 1092 by the invitation of Hugh Lupus, earl of Chester, who requested his aid in sickness. Soon after his arrival William Rufus also required AnIselm's assistance, and finally nominated him (though with great difficulty of acceptance on Anselm's part) to the see of Canterbury, which had lain vacant from Lanfranc's death in 1089. Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity December 4, 1093. In the following year a stinted offer, as the king thought it, of £500 from the archbishop, in aid of the war which William was carrying on against his brother Robert, was the first cause of the royal displeasure toward Anselm, followed by further discontent when Anselm desired leave to go to Rome to receive the pall from Pope Urban II, whom the king refused to acknowledge as pope. Anselm proposed a visit to Rome to consult the pope, but was refused permission. He went a second time to court to ask for leave, and was again refused, but gave his blessing to the king, and embarked at Dover. The king seized upon the archbishopric, and made every act of Anselm's administration void. The archbishop got safe to Rome, and was honorably received by the pope. He lived quietly, at Rome and other places, and finished his treatise Cur Deus Homo at a monastery in Champagne. He assisted the pope at the synod or council of Bari, where he prevented Urban from excommunicating the king of England for his various and frequent outrages upon religion. The king, however, finally bribed the court of Rome to desert Anselm, who retired to Lyons, where (with the interval of an attendance at a council at Rome in 1099) he continued to reside till he heard of William Rufus's death, with that of Pope Urban shortly after. Henry I, immediately upon his accession, invited Anselm to return. The archbishop was received in England with extraordinary respect both by the king and people, but refusing to be reinvested by the king, and to do the same homage with his predecessors, he again fell under the displeasure of the court. In 1103, at the request of the king and barons, Anselm went to Rome to arrange an accommodation the king at the same time, in distrust, dispatching an agent of his own, who arrived before the archbishop. The pope still continued inexorable, but wrote to the king, premising compliance in other matters if the king would but waive the matter of investiture. Anselm in chagrin again took up his residence at Lyons, while a fresh embassy to Rome from the king was still more unsuccessful than the former. Anselm now removed to the court of Adela of Blois, the king's sister, who, during a visit which Henry I made to Normandy, contrived an interview between him and Anselm July 22, 1105, when the king restored to him the revenues of the archbishopric, but refused to allow him to return to England unless he would comply with the investiture. Anselm remained in France, retiring to the abbey of Bec. At length the pope, adopting a middle course, refused to give up the investitures, but was willing so far to dispense as to give leave to bishops and abbots to do homage to the king for their temporalities. This was in 1106. The king now invited Anselm to England; but the messenger finding him sick, the king himself went over into Normandy, and made him a visit at Bec, where all their differences were adjusted. Anselm, being recovered, embarked for England, and, landing at Dover, was received with extraordinary marks of welcome. From this time little that is remarkable occurred in his life, except a dispute with Thomas, elected archbishop of York in 1108, who, wishing to disengage himself from dependency upon the see of Canterbury, refused to make the customary profession of canonical obedience. Before the termination of this dispute Anselm died at Canterbury, April 21, 1109, in the seventy-sixth year of his age (Penny Cyclcpedia, s.v.).

The intellect of Anselm was of the highest order; Neander calls him the Augustine of the twelfth century. His speculations impressed their character not only upon the theology and philosophy of his own age, but also upon all subsequent ages to the present time. He is generally named as the "father of scholasticism." Though his faith was always sincere and undoubting, his profoundly inquisitive intellect made it necessary for him to philosophize upon the grounds of that faith. Opposing himself to Roscelin, his philosophy was a thorough-going Realism; and in applying his philosophy to theology, he sought to demonstrate the being and attributes of God by the ontological method, of which, in fact, he was substantially the inventor (Proslogium, de Dei existentia; Monologium, de Divinitatis essentia). Remusat (Vie d'Anselm, p. 473) ascribes a Pantheistic tendency to Anselm's uncompromising Realism. Does not the following passagre in the Proslogium appear to involve the Pantheistic theory? Speaking of the divine nature, "It is," he says, "the essence of the being, the principle of the existence of all things . . . . Without parts, without differences, without accidents, without changes, it might be said, in a certain sense, to alone exist, for in respect to it the other things which appear to be have no existence. The unchangeable Spirit is all that is, and it is this without limit, simpliciter, interminabiliter. It is the perfect and absolute existence. The rest is come from nonentity, and thither returns, if not supported by God: it does not exist by itself. In this sense the Creator alone exists; the things created do not" (p. 473, 474). It is plain that these dependent and merely relative existences must be conceived as an emanation from the supreme and substantial essence — must, like the qualities of bodies, be in fact identical with the supposed substrata. In his treatises on free-will and predestination he followed the Augustinian doctrine, and sought acutely, but vainly, to reconcile it with human freedom. He was the first also to treat the doctrine of redemption, SEE SATISFACTION, in a scientific way, and to seek a rational demonstration of it (in his treatise, Cur Deus Homo). He propounds the question, Why is it necessary that God should have humbled himself so far as to become man and suffer death? His process of reasoning, in reply to this question, is as follows. Man has by sin deprived God of the glory which properly belongs to him, and must therefore give satisfaction for it, i.e. he must restore to God the glory which is his; for the divine justice would not al low of forgiveness out of pure compassion, apart from such reparation. This reparation must be commensurate with the enormity of the sin; yet it is not in the power of man to give such, because, apart from this, he is God's debtor. Such a satisfaction cannot be given unless some one is able to offer to God sonmething of his own of more value than all which is not God, for the whole world should not have tempted man to sin (Mt 16:26, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?)" Since, however, he has sinned, he must offer to God more than the whole world, i.e. more than all outside of God. Consequently none can have this to give but God himself. But since it is man who owes it, it must also be given by a God- man, i.e. by a person possessing the two natures, divine and human. This could be no other than the second person of the Trinity, the Son; for otherwise there would be two Sons in the Trinity; and, had the Father become man, two grandsons (namely, the Father, grandson of himself by human descent, and the Son, grandson of the Virgin, as son of the Virgin's son). It was fitting that the man with whom God united himself should be lorn of a woman without the co-operation of man, and even from a virgin; for as sin and the ground of condemnation were brought about by that sex, it is just that the remedy should also have come from it alone. Thus Christ was then born without original sin; he could sin if he willed it, but he could not will it; consequently he died without owing death and of his own free will. His death, therefore, outweighed the number and magnitude of all sins. He gave unto God, for the sins of mankind, his own life unsullied by any sin of his own, thus giving what he did not owe, when considered as both God and man. But in consequence of his offering voluntarily so great a sacrifice, and inasmuch as to him no equivalent for it could be given, it was necessry, in order that the sacrifice should not be vain, that others at least should be benefited thereby in some way, namely, humanity in the forgiveness of sin. Anselm affirms the doctrine of a satisfactio vicaria activa (an active vicarious satisfaction), but not of a satiefactio passiva (passive satisfaction); for he nowhere says that Christ endured the actual punishment of men's sins (Neander, Drgmnengeschichte, 2, 516). Dr. Shedd (Hist. of Doctrines, 2, 282) questions this statement of Neander's, but on what appear to be insufficient grounds.

The fundamental principles of Anselm's doctrine of satisfaction are found in the writings of many fathers before Anselm, e.g. Athanasius, Gregorius of Nazianzen, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria; but Anselm is the first who collected and arranged them into a systematic whole. Dr. Shedd has treated the relation of Anselm to theology (Hist. of Doctrines, bks. 4 and 5) more skillfully than any other modern writer in short compass. In concluding his analysis. of the Cur Dens Homo, he remarks that it "exhibits a depth, breadth, and vigor of thinking not surpassed by any production of the same extent in theological literature. Such a view of the atonement as is here exhibited is thoroughly Biblical, and thoroughly Protestant. There may be incidental views and positions in this tract with which the modern theologian would not wholly agree; but certainly, so far as the general theory of vicarious satisfaction is concerned, this little treatise contains the substance of the reformed doctrine; while, at the same time, it enunciates thssc philosophical principles which must enter into the scientific construction of this cardinal truth of Christianity. On both the theoretic and the practical side, it is one of the Christian classics" (vol. 2, p. 283). As to the claim of absolute originality for Anselm's system, "it may be admitted that Anselm first used the term satisfaction to express the method in which a solutio could be effected of a debituam which had been incurred by sin; but the same fundamental idea is found in the sacrificial theory, to which so frequent referehce is made by many earlier writers. Sacrifices were appointed in the mosaic economy by which violated laws might be appeased, and the offerer preserve his forfeited life by something other than obedience. Satisfaction expresses a wider group of considerations, of which sacrifice is a particular illustration. We may grant to Ansellll the dignity of having set forth, in more forcible light than earlier writers, the nature and responsibilities of sin, and the need of reconciliation with God. We may allow that his sense of the justice of God appears to have been more profound and comprehensive than those of earlier fathers; and the basis was doubtless laid for the quantitative and mercantile aspects of the subject which characterized the speculations of later divines" (Brit. Quarterly, April, 1865, p. 355). As to Anselm's deficiencies, Dr. Thomson (Bishop of Gloucester) remarks that "the passages of Scripture that speak of the wrath of God against man are not explicable by Anselm's system. The explanation of the Baptist, that Jesus is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world; the prophecy of His sufferings by Isaiah (ch. 53); the words of Peter, that He "his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree;" and passages of like import in St. Paul's writings, can only find place with Anselm by a very forced interpretation. His scheme is mainly this, that the merit of the perfect obedience of Jesus was so great as to deserve a great reward, and that, in answer to the prayer of the Lord, this reward was given in the form of the salvation of His brethren. But Christ does not appear in this system as groaning and suffering under the curse.of the world, as He does in Holy Scripture. Until the time of Anselm the doctrine of the Atonement had, within certain limits, fluctuated with the' change of teachers; the doctrine itself was one and the same, but this or that aspect of it had been made prominent. Anselm aimed at fixing in one system the scattered truths; and the result has been that he, like his predecessors, made some parts of the truth conspicuous to the prejudice of the rest" (Aids to Faith, Essay 8).

Anselm is commemorated as a saint in the Church of Rome on the 21st of April. His life, by Eadmer, his friend and companion, is given in the edition of his works named below. The best edition of his works is that entitled Opera omnia necnon Eadmeri monachi Cantuariensis Historia (Venet. 1744, 2 vols. fol.). A selection of the most important theological and philosophical works of Anselm has been published by C. Haas (S. A nselmi opuscula philosophico-theologica selecta, vol. 1, containing the Monologium and Proslogium, Tubingen, 1862). 'Special editions of the book Cur Deus Homo were published at Berlin, 1857, and at London, 1863. Anselm has been much studied of late years: a beautiful monograph by C. Romusat (Saint Anselme de Canterbury, 8vo, Paris, 1852); a study by Bohringer (Die Kirche Christi und ihre Zevgen, 2, 224); and a copious treatise by Hasse (1. Das Leben Anselm's; 2. Die Lehre Anselm's, 2 vols. Leipzir, 1843-1852; an abridged translation by Turner, Lond. 1860, l2mo) give ample facilities for the study of his history and writings. Translations of the Proslogium and of the Cur Deus Homo are given in the Bibliotheca Sacra, vols. 8, 11, and 12. See also Gieseler, Ch. Hist. 3, 175; Dogmengeschichte, p. 510; Neander, Ch. Hist. 4, 237, and Hist. of Dogmas, 2, 516, et al; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines (Smith's ed.), § 180; Bushnell, Vicarious Sacrifice (N. Y. 1866); Meth. Quar. Review, Oct. 1853, art. 6; Haureau, Philos. Scholast. 1, ch. 8; Mohler, Anselm's Leben u. Schriften (Tib. Quartalschrift, 1827, 1828); Franck, Anselm von Canterbury (Tibing. 1842, 8vo); Shedd, Hist. of Doctrines, 1. c. SEE ATONEMENT.

 
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