Page images
PDF
EPUB

APPENDIX.

A.—Page 166. The history of these Theses is very curious. To understand it aright, the reader must previously be introduced to the hero, John MAKOWSKI, [or Maccovius, 7 of dubious celebrity

Maccovius was born in 1588, at Lobzenick in Poland. His studies were neglected in early life; but after he had seriously applied himself to them, he soon repaired that defect, by intense assiduity and the natural acuteness of his genius. He made himself acquainted with the Latin language, and passed through a course of Philosophy, at Dantzic. Under the instructions of the famous Keckerman, his progress in academic lore was considerable: Among his fellow students, he became particularly distinguished for his skill in the management of extemporaneous arguments, or regular scholastic disputations. On his return from Dantzic to his father's house, he was appointed tutor to some young gentlemen, of the name of Sieninski. With them he travelled into several parts of Europe ; and, at every opportunity, cultivated his talent for popular argumentation. At Prague, he attacked the Jesuits in a public disputation. At Lublin, he frequently entered the lists against the Socinians. While he was pursuing his studies at Heidelberg, he went to Spire to dispute with the Jesuits, instead of Bartholomew Coppenius, to whom they had transmitted a scholastic challenge, but who could not obtain leave from the Elector Palatine to make his appearance on that occasion. Beside the Universities of Prague and Heidelberg, he visited those of Marpurg, Leipsic, Wirtemburgh, and Jena. At length he arrived at Franeker in Friezland, and, upon the 8th of March, 1614, he had the degree of Doctor of Divinity conferred upon him. His peculiar talents were highly appreciated in that University ; which was then famous, if not infamous, throughout Europe, for the wrangling disposition, the dictatorial conduct, and the doctrinal vagaries of its Professors. To such men the endowments of Makowski's mind, and the volubility of his tongue, were at first considered great acquisitions. The Curators of the University therefore resolved to retain him in their service ; and accordingly presented him with the honourable appointment of Professor Exlraordinary of Divinity, on the 1st of April, 1615. In the following year he was constituted Professor in Ordinary ; and fulfilled the duties of that office nearly thirty years——till his death in June 1644. A Funeral Oration was pronounced on him by his colleague Cocceius; who relates it, as a trait of goodness in Maccovius, that he was not one of those dogs which are afraid of barking during the troubles of the Church, but that he fought valiantly for the true faith. He adds, “ As this kind of warfare, on account of human infirmity, usually produces suspicions, enmities, and discords, it is not wonderful if this weakness of the flesh caused much trouble to Maccovius. It is peculiar to people of warm dispositions, that, while engaged in defence of the good cause, they seem occasionally to throw themselves into transports of passion. It fares with them as with good dogs, that, while guarding their master's house, bark at all strangers, not excepting the best friends of the family. The defenders of the truth are commanded by the prophet Isaiah (lvi, 10,) to bark well; but while, in this manner, they attack the enemy, and have all their thoughts engrossed with fighting, they are frequently too unguarded in their sallies, and sometimes vent their spleen and animosity on the innocent.”— Nicholas Arnold, a Polish Divine, who was naturalized in Friezland, and who afterwards succeeded Cocceius in the Professor's Chair at Franeker, published several of his countryman's productions. Among the rest of his eurious compilations, is a work entitled, “ TIputov Yevdos, sive ostensionem Primi Falsi Arminianorum." It is in allusion to this title, that Bishop Womack says, in his Annotations on the Fourth Thesis, (page 177,) “ This is the First of our author's Falsehoods." Indeed, Maccovius himself published very few works, most probably for a very

grand plagiarist. Saldenus, who was one of his real admirers, gives the following relation concerning him: 'Among our Di. vines, that (otherwise) most acute man, John Maccovius, cannot be entirely acquitted of this charge. For if you have no objections to examine his ExerCITATIONS, which he 'opposed some years ago to the hypotheses of the Remonstrants, 'your own eyes will teach you, that a very large portion of • them are compiled from the famous Peter du Moulin's Anato* my of Arminianism,—not only with respect to the matter, but likewise with respect to the very words in which they are composed, and which have been translated for this purpose out of Dutch into Latin. I have often wondered at this practice in a Divine who in another respect was entitled to the greatest honour and celebrity for his extemporaneous acumen. (De Libris, p. 156.) -Saldenus has, in this last sentence, given a reason why he should not have evinced the least

wonder at Makowski's plagiarism : This Professor's excellence lay almost exclusively in his ready enunciation, and in the ability with which vivá voce he could form a syllogism or enforce an argument. How dextrous soever he might shew himself to be in the Schools, his productions, when perused in the closet, do not display any of the grand characteristics of an original genius or of an accurate and deep reasoner.

The popularity which he gained at Franeker by his ready wit, and by the violent epithets which he bestowed on all adversaries, especially on the Arminians, gave vast umbrage to that morose and bitter old Calvinist, his superficial colleague SIBRANDUS LUBBERTUS. Makowski had been made Professor of Divinity only four years prior to the meeting of the Synod of Dort; and as the Predestinarian Controversy was about that period conducted on both sides with much spirit and ability, some of the Calvinistic Professors, who had been accustomed to utter the wildest and most desecrating opinions that ever escaped from human lips, were compelled to observe greater reserve and caution, lest their adversaries should expose the irreverence or blasphemy of all such expressions. But Macco... vius, who appears to have possessed none of the subtilty of Lubbertus, continued to speak and to act in the same fearless and unguarded manner as he had always done ; and the Armi. nians, as might have been expected, quoted several of his expressions in proof of the demoralizing tendency of Calvin's doctrines.

This served as an opportunity to Sibrandus, for venting his private spleen against his colleague, while he discharged a public duty. The whole Calvinistic brotherhood throughout France, Germany, and the Low Countries, had received warning letters to be guarded in the delivery of their opinions; and, as Maccovius had disregarded this caution, the Presbyterian Class of Franeker prepared a charge against him before the States of Friezland, who, apparently desirous to preserve the purily of the Calvinistic Doctrine in their University, finally empowered the Lay Commissioners at the Synod of Dort to bring the case of the accused Professor, for adjudication, before that reverend tribunal. No doubt was entertained by the best-informed members of the Synod of Dort, that Sibrandus was the real mover in this action against his colleague ; but when he was charged with it, and publicly invited to come forward as the chief accuser, with consummate art he refused to undertake that odious service, and declared that he had acted ministerially and not personally, when, as President of the Class of Franeker, he had heard the charge against Maccovius, and, in accordance with the votes of the Class, had as their accredited organ pronounced the judgment which they decreed: That is, he wished to make it apparent, that he had been an impartial chairman.

The whole of the proceedings against Maccovius, as related by that eminent Scotch Calvinist Walter Balcanqual, are given in the Notes to the Works of ARMINIUS. (Vol. I, p. 506, &c.) Among other matters, he states, that “ a letter was read in the Synod, from the Professors of Divinity at Heidelberg, to the States of Friezland, in which that learned and reverend body exhorted their Lordships 'not to suffer such frivolous, melaphysical, obscure, and false propositions to be disputed in • their colleges, as had lately been done in the University of • Franeker, under the direction of Maccovius, in the Theses on the Traduction (or drawing) of man, as a sinner, to Life.'" These were the very Theses which, in the preceding pages, are the object of Bishop Womack's animadversions : And the character which the Heidelberg Divines here attribute to them, will not be found to be inappropriate or overcharged. The same day, the different members of the Synod gave their votes concerning the mode of proceeding to be adopted in the case of Maccovius. Balcanqual says: “When Sibrandus had to deliver his opinion, he inveighed with great immodesty against Festus, upbraiding him with the height of his ingratitude to him. He also recited a new catalogue of the opinions of Maccovius, which were of the same class with the former. Festus, having obtained the President's permission to speak, answered Sibrandus in a modest manner, and stated, that those Theses had not been composed by Macrovius, but by a certain very learned young man of the name of Parker, who was removed far above the slightest suspicion of heterodoxy. He also said, though Sibrandus might now refuse to sustain the part of a public accuser, yet he had received information, from some persons in every respect entitled to credit, that Sitrandus had pillaged, from those Theses and from some other of his lectures, all the errors which had been objected against Maccovius.When Sibrandus heard all this, he was agitated with a most violent passion, and twice invoked [ Deum vindicem,] the vengeance of God upon his soul, if there was any truth in those statements! So that the President was compelled frequently to remind him of the sacred modesty and reverence which were due to the Synod.”—In Bernard, Birch, and Lockman's edition of Bayle's Historical and Critical Dictionary, the last clause is thus translated : “ This put Sibrandus all into a fume, and he swore once and again, that it was not true.” Now, though the Latin expressions admit of being thus construed, yet it can scarcely be imagined, that a grave Professor of Divinity, and one of the greatest sticklers for Calvinism, would utter profane oaths and disgrace himself before the whole brotherhood. I am aware, that Balcan qual has represented him as a most passionate man; and, after describing one of “ his fits of madness," he adds, “ I blame him and Gomarus no more for these ecstasies, than I do

a stone for going downward, since it is both their NATURAL CONSTITUTION.” This excuse, though very charitable, is rather too extensive, and might be quoted in palliation of the most gross offences and criminal conduct. How passionate soever men may naturally be, if the grace of God be suffered to exert its proper transforming influence upon them, it will

Lay the rough paths of peevish nature even,

And open in their hearts a little heaven. Balcanqual proceeds: “ On the 27th of April, progress was made in requiring the votes and opinions of the members on the cause of Maccovius. Many persons wondered how he could possibly be accused of heresy on account of those Theses; especially since one of the members for South Holland declared, that they had formerly been seen by Mr. Ames, and had obtained his approbation : and that he was, even now, prepared to defend them." Because such a sound Calvinist as Mr. Ames could swallow and digest the blasphemies of Maccovius, the majority of the members ultimately agreed to receive the whole on the credit of his laste and digestive powers, and suffered the heretical Maccovius to escape with scarcely the semblance of a repri. mand.

Before this notice of Maccovius be dismissed, the reader may derive some faint knowledge of the glaring errors of which he was guilty, from the following favourable statement by Balcanqual, himself a member of the Synod of Dort: “On the 30th of April, was read the Report of the Synodical Committee on the case of Maccovius, the sum of which was, 'that Maccovius could not be considered guilty of any thing like Heathenism,

Judaism, Pelagianism, Socinianism, or any other kind of • heresy; and that he had been unjustly accused; but that his

offence consisted in employing certain ambiguous and obscure scholastic phrases, in endeavouring to introduce into the • Dutch Universities the scholastic mode of teaching, and in

selecting those questions for disputation which were accounted the Pests of the Dutch Churches; that he ought therefore to be admonished, no longer to employ the expressions of Bellar• mine and Suarez, but to speak in the language of the Holy • Ghost ; that these things ought to be considered as faults in • him-his assertion that the sufficiency and the efficacy of the · death of Christ is a foolish distinction,-his denying that the human race considered as fallen was not the object of predesa tination, and his maintaining, that God has both willed and decreed sins, that God has by no means willed the salvation of all men, and that there are two elections ; and that, according to their judgment, the slight quarrel between him and Sibrandus 'ought to be terminated, and no person ought hereafter to pre' fer against him any more such accusations.'”

« PreviousContinue »