« PreviousContinue »
to grant to the rulers of the Church, to Kings and to Supreme
Such was the prudent and pious answer of the illustrious
* The following anecdote, from Dr. Bates's Life of our author, deserves to be recorded : While Grotius resided in Paris," he always shewed himself intent on performing all possible good offices to his native land and to his countrymen, when there was any busiuess to be transacted with the Court of France in which his services could be available, by his advice and assistance, or by the favour and influence which he possessed among some of the King's ministers. Yet he was not ignorant of the evil machinations of those who were entrusted at Paris with the management of the affairs of the United Provinces, and wbo left nothing unattempted by which they might exasperate the King's mind against him : But their labours were ill-bestowed on a Prince [Louis XIII] who was well acquainted with the transactions of Holland in 1618 and 1619. For that monarch is reported to have declared, on more occasions than one,' that he admired the virtue of the man, who, after having endured such cruel treatment in his own country, could not cease from wishing well to it and its inhabitants, and from conferring upon it all the benefits which he
could devise !'"-Of this fact innumerable instances occur in the letters of Grotius.
containing the King's portrait. Before his return to Holland, Grotius became acquainted with Casaubon, and several of his learned co-temporaries, who caused the honorary degree of DOCTOR OF Laws to be conferred upon him, with other Hattering distinctions. In the subsequent troubles which agitated the United Provinces, the Remonstrant party received countenance from the French Court; while the Contra-Remonstrants were powerfully supported by King James of England.* During that turbulent period, Grotius evinced the greatest moderation towards both the contending parties; and, though his predilections for the Arminians were well known, yet no public man ever manifested less of the meanness of a party spirit. There can be no doubt, that the French assisted him in obtaining his freedom from perpetual imprisonment, to which he had been most iniquitously doomed; and he was ready, on all proper occasions, to give proofs of his gratitude for this favour. Finding himself neglected by the French ministers, he applied his mental energies to the composition of various useful treatises which he published during the first eleven years of his banishment from Holland.
Dr. Bates tells us, “ The first work published by Grotius after he had regained his liberty, was an Apology or Defence, not so much for himself, (who could have committed no offence, in executing those commands which had issued from his superiors, as for those magistrates who, after having been lawfully created, had, in the years 1618 and 1619, managed the affairs of the province of Holland according to its fundamental laws and constitution. When the deputies of the United Provinces had discovered this publication, they perceived the complete exposure of their disgraceful artifices which it contained, and of the violence which they had offered to the constitution of their country; and since they had nothing by which they could effectually weaken or refute the true account of affairs which it gave, they employed their former violence, and attempted again to persecute him by proscriptions. But all their efforts were rendered impotent, through the protection afforded by his Most Christian Majesty, who had received him under his immediate patronage,” &c.—At that period too, he translated out of Dutch verse into Latin prose, with large additions, his book On the Truth of the Christian Religion,t which he had originally
* Some of the politic considerations which 'swayed the conduct of the two Courts, will be found in the succeeding Appendix ť.
t I have said something in praise of this book, in page 279. Perhaps there is not another religious publication in the world, with the exception of the Bible itself, that has been translated into so many languages, or has been so extensively circulated among different denominations of Christians, as GroTIUS on the Truth of the Christian Religion. Amoug ourselves, this excellent work is now studied as a text-book, pot only by all
those who intend to pre sent themselves before the Examining Chaplains of the Right Reverend' the English Bishops, as candidates for holy orders, but by all ihe scholars in the
composed principally for the instruction of the Dutch seamen, who, captivated with the charms of the poetry, might be tempted to the further study of that noble subject, and thus be furnished with arguments in favour of Christianity for the confutation of infidels and heathens.-In 1625 he published his incomparable work De Jure Belli et Pacis, and dedicated it to his Majesty Louis the Thirteenth. For this production he was applauded by the greatest literary characters in Europe ;* but it experienced the fate of many of the best books that have been written for the benefit of mankind,—it was inserted two years afterwards in the Index Expurgatorius at Rome, and thus became a prohibited book and of little utility in Popish countries.
These were the principal works composed by Grotius during his residence in Paris, in which he advocated the same pacific and liberal principles as appear in his subsequent publications ; indeed on this point he was throughout life the patron of unity and concord. But those works were not produced without much care, vexation and anxiety, as will be apparent to those who
peruse his letters to his friends at that period. His invincible attachment to the Protestant religion was no recommendation to official employment in those days of real bigotry and confusion. He wished to free himself from the irksome situation of a dependant on the French Court, and to practise at the bar as a counsellor in some of the Protestant States of Germany. It
appears, that soon after his escape from confinement, he had been invited to accept some public office in Denmark; for, in a letter addressed to his father, in February, 1624, he says:
For your extreme diligence, my most excellent father and brother, I return you my best acknowledgments. I remain confirmed in the persuasion, that no better plan can be adopted than this, I must sit down in some corner or other among the evangelical professors of the Augsburgh Confession, where I may
most celebrated Dissenting Academies in the kingdom. This fact is in itself no slight commendation, and may be quoted as a good proof of the Catholic and tolerant principles of itë admirable author.
* “ The rules of morality and practice, which were laid down in the sacred writings by Christ and his Apostles, assumed an advantageous form, received new illustrations, and were supported upon new aud solid principles, when that Great SYSTEM OF Law, that results from the constitution of nuture and the dictates of right reason, began to be studied with more diligence and investigated with more accuracy and perspicuity than had been the case in preceding ages. In this sublime study of the law of nature the IMMORTAL Grotius led the way in his excellent book Concerning the Rights of War and Peace ; and such was the dignity and importance of the subject, that bis labours excited the zeal and emulation of men of the most eminent genius and abilities, who turned their principal attention to this noble science. How much the labours of these great men contributed to assist the ministers of the Gospel, both in their discourses and writings concerning the duties and obligations of christians, may be easily seen by comparing the books of a practical kind that have been published since the period now under consideration, with those that were in vogue before that time."-Mosheim's Eccl. Hist.
indulge the hope of maintaining my family in a frugal manner without consuming more of my private property, and there await the return of brighter days, if such a change should ever occur. For I am fatigued with the frequent solicitations which I have received to attend Mass; and the state of uncertainty in which the affairs of this kingdom stand, adds much to my mental disquietude. Besides, I perceive nothing here upon which my concerns can securely depend. But this business must be managed with the greatest prudence, lest I should suffer in my reputation both in France and in other countries. It will be quite sufficient if my well-wishers know, that I am not so firmly settled here as to be rendered incapable of being easily removed. Should any situation offer itself, we can deliberate about it. In the meantime I desire you to continue your enquiries about Spires --what description of men are admitted into the
faculty of Advocates,-what hopes of success may be indulged if I there apply myself to pleading,” &c.*_At the close of the same year, 1624, he utters the following complaint to his brother respecting his Annotations on the Gospels, which he could not publish in France : “ It is an occurrence greatly to my injury, that, when I have interpreted every thing according to the sentiments of primitive antiquity, and when I have proved myself free from party-influence, I cannot find a place in which my labours can be printed: And if I could find one, I am afraid I should be rendered still more vile [to the Papists] by the pains I have taken in explaining certain passages on which particular [Popish] dogmas are founded, and which, though publicly
* In a preceding letter of Jan. 16, he thus describes his situation and feel. ings : “Since I last wrote to you I have seen the new Keeperof the Seals, who will hereafter become Chancellor, if he survive the present occupant of that high situation. He made far larger promises than I had expected. But I have now become hardened at the repetition of these verbal services : we shall soop perceive what kind of performances will follow. Nothing must be done in the Danish affair, except through friends of approved tidelity; and it must on no account be iniimated, as though it originated with me. Some friends advise me to repair to the city of Spires, and to devote my talents to the legal profession ; for the pleadings are there conducted in the Latin language, and ihe old Roman jurisprudence is in great request and reduced to practice : Equal toleration is likewise extended to the Lutherans and to the Roman Catholics. If you can gain any information respecting the expences of living in that city, either from some of the inhabitants whom you know, or from those who have been there, I beg you will acquaint me with the particulars. For I must come to some determination about myself, as this state of uncertainty consumes all my family property.”
On the 12th of July, 1623, he thus expressed himself : “ The payment of all pensions is here suspended : This circumstance, and the design of being more frugal of the King's treasure, create me much anxiety. Should any potentate be desirous of engaging my services,--for instance, the King of Denmark, the Duke of Saxony, or any one who is competent to grant me his patronage and an honorable maintenance, I should account it a matter worthy of consideration. At present, all seem to have forgotten me, because they consider me in the employment of this potent monarch. I have lost some great friends. Those who are now in office wish me well ; but they have too many claims on their attention, and I am no teasing parasite."
approved in this kingdom, I cannot persuade myself ever to have been pleasing to christian antiquity.”—In January, 1630, the same causes of dissatisfaction existed, for he thus unbosomed himself to his brother: “ As to my own affairs, my attention will be principally directed to obtain that liberty which is the most valuable object with regard to religious matters: And, of those princes who have signified their pleasure to engage me in their service, there is no one who has not made large promises to me of such a liberty, and of other privileges considerably more important than
I have ever had in France, or can possibly expect. May God inspire us with salutary counsels! I will not become a suppliant to any man living. You are aware that the Emperor of Germany employs many noblemen who are Lutherans, in his own Council, in the Senate at Spires, and at other places. Buchovius, who is a decided Calvinist, openly teaches the civil law at Heidelberg under the Duke of Bavaria. What reason therefore can be given why we [Arminians] can obtain no situation, when all the Universities that adhere to the Augsburgh Confession have expressed their approbation of our sentiments by condemning those of the Synod of Dort?"
* The first of the following extracts from the Letters of Grotius was written in April the same year, and proves, that all his literary labours after his exile were directed to a pacific object : “ There are conclusions in the Canons of the Synod of Dort, of which, if good Melancthou were again to make bis appearance, he would express his disapprobatiov, and with which Bullinger would be no less grieved; there are others which alienate all the Lutherans from the Calvinists, although amity and concord between them and us is desirable at this juncture. There are some points in them which forbid the Greek Churches from uniting with us, although in many more particulars they are very favourable to us; but there are others of the Dórt Canons whích admit of no controversy, that is, such of them as agree with the second Council of Orange, in which the whole matter concerning Grace and the Liberty of the human will was treated with the greatest prudence. Those persons who are acquainted with these distinctions, have their minds in a state of preparation for peace, and will easily discover an equitable method of laying a foundation. It is possible that they may recal to mind my labours for unity ; even those writings, which I published after my calamity, have not been diverted from the same peaceful object.”
The necessity of pacific counsels at that period, among all those who were reforined from Popery, will appear to every one who recollects the brief account of the state of Europe in 1630, which is recorded in page 248. The great Protestant powers began to perceive the folly of their mutual contentions, wbich were most artfully fomented under various disguises by the Papists; and when they saw several of the smaller States fall into the hands of their arch-enemy, they awoke from their supineness, and seemed inclined to imitate the noble intrepidity of Gustavus Adolphus, who, by a series of wonderful successes in Germany, gave a severe check to the ambitious projects
of the Emperor Ferdinand.-Tothis state of public affairs Grotius refers in the preceding letter; and the subjoined extract
will convey its own meaning on the same subject : “ St. Augustine says, ' Preceding Councils have been fre
quently corrected by those which were afterwards convened, as that of Ephesus which received the appellation of robber from the Council of Chalcedon.' Under the auspices of Great Britair, Denmark and Sweden, a convention might now be summoned to establish peace among all Protestants : when this is once effected, our coutroversies will all subside. If this affair be trausacted with those who are entirely Lutherans, no subject of contest will remain between them and the Remonstrants, who are, in reality, Semi