Anselm’s Doctrine Of The Incarnation And Atonement -- By: James Gardiner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:44 (Oct 1854)
Article: Anselm’s Doctrine Of The Incarnation And Atonement
Author: James Gardiner

Anselm’s Doctrine Of The Incarnation And Atonement

James Gardiner

[In presenting a translation of this work, it may be proper to give a brief account of the career of its author, and of the manner in which he developed the monastic life and discipline.

Paul of Thebes and Anthony of Alexandria have each been called the father of monasticism. Yet neither the one in his lonely grotto, nor the other in the devout community gathered around him, could have foreseen the system which here had its

faint beginnings. Doubtless at this earlier period of monasticism, there was much in it that was irrational. The influence of eastern superstitions, habits of life and feeling, was doubtless far greater than we can easily trace. Yet there was also a basis for monachism in true Christianity. The corruptions of the church, so painfully manifest, called for a new consecration among its more devout members, which should divide them as naturally from formal religionists, as before they had been separated from the world. Monasticism was instituted to supply this profound want. It was, as it has been truly called: “The Church within the Church.” From the first monks to Anselm of Canterbury, seven centuries had intervened, in which the system had been fully matured. The evils springing from its own weakness, and the still greater evils attaching themselves to it as a convenient instrument from without, had been abundantly revealed. They had been felt within the cloister, and already had Odo and Berno, with many more, equals in zeal if not in intellect, assayed the work of reformation. There was a return, as it were, to the spirit of the earlier ages, and if, among many of the older monks, the abuses of the system still remained, many more now sought its sacred order for the better hopes of holiness that it held out. “The Hildebrandian epoch of reform,” says Neander, “was accompanied with the outpouring of a spirit of compunction and repentance on the western nations. It was the same spirit which, in different directions, promoted the crusades, monasticism and the spread of sects, which contended against the hierarchy.” 1 Of all, who at that period sought the conventual life, none did it with simpler views than Anselm. Trained under the guidance of a mother, who plied him with every loving and pious motive, and wrought upon by that celestial influence, which alone is more powerful than this, it was not strange that he should early imbibe that devout enthusiasm which led him irresistibly to the monastic order. The dreams of his childhood foreshadow the course of his history. In visions he toiled up the steep ascent of the neighboring Alps to gain audience with God, and...

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