Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/663

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which lies between 1283 and 1381, and whose son in the spirit, Gerard Groot, gave a new and lasting significance to the school of Deventer.

That "flight of the alone to the Alone," which we call Christian mysticism, had found no unworthy expression in St Thomas Aquinas, the Angel of the Schools, who reasons by set syllogism on all things in heaven and earth. He had sealed with his authority the books, translated by Scotus Erigena, which were long attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, but which are now known to be a production of the fifth century and of the Alexandrian, or even Monophysite, metaphysics. With severe negations, not wholly foreign to Plotinus, they limit, by exceeding them, the affirmations of the School theology; in the paradoxical phrase of Cusanus, their teaching is a "learned ignorance"; but they exalt the earthly as a shadow of the heavenly hierarchy; and they leave to our adoring worship the man Christ Jesus. From the defilements of sense, the scandals of history, the misuse of holy things, they turn to an inward, upward vision and celebrate the hidden life. It is well known that Eastern hermits joined the work of their hands to prayer; that cenobites under the Rule of St Basil copied manuscripts, studied the Scriptures, and taught in schools, especially the children of the poor. Brought from the plains of the Euphrates to the wild heaths or grassy meadows of Rhine and Yssel, this secret doctrine found in Ruysbroek an Areopagite, in Gerard Groot and Florentius Radevynzon the masters of its practice, who combined meditation with handicraft, and both with sacred and secular studies.

Of these men mention has already been made in another chapter of the present volume, which deals with the Netherlands. Groot's institution, closely resembling in idea the first thought of St Francis, was at Constance opposed by the Dominican Grabo, but defended by Gerson. It may be remarked in passing, that Gerson-unfairly according to the best judges-criticised the language of Ruysbroek's Ornament of the Spiritual Marriage as tainted with pantheism. In 1431 Eugenius IV approved the Brethren of the Common Life. Pius II and Sixtus IV showed them much kindness. Florentius, after establishing his Austin Canons at Windeshem, died in 14<00; but his scheme of education prospered. Gerard Zerbold of Zutphen governed and taught in a similar spirit. The communities of Sisters fell off in some measure. On the other hand, Groot's foundation at Zwolle developed into a house of studies under John Cele, and drew scholars from every side-from Brabant, Westphalia, and even Saxony. In 1402 seven monasteries looked up to Windeshem as their mother-house. The congregation spread into Germany. In 1409 tumults at Prague, with which University Groot's leading disciples had been associated, drove out thence a multitude of students who had embraced the system of Nominalism. They flocked to Deventer, Zwolle, and the other Flemish towns where that system was upheld against the extravagances of an overbearing Realism. The convent and library of