Page images
PDF
EPUB

alone, but I bestow the chief part of my attention on posterity; and if I should refuse to avail myself of those opportunities which are constantly occurring, a proper season for declaring the

Such were the expressions of Grotius in his Wishes for the Peace of the Church, from which we have already (page 208) given some interesting extracts. In his Discussion of Rivet's Apology, he introduces some judicious remarks on the railing to which the Calvinists had accustomed themselves. He adduces the instance of the COMMONITORY of Vincentius Lirinensis, a new edition of which and of St. Augustine on the Christian Doctrine, had then been recently published in Germany by the famous Lutheran Divine, George Calixtus, for which pacific deed he obtained a plentiful share of abuse from the doctors of the Genevan School, who were always remarkable for their aversion to antiquity. Ou this subject Grotius says: “Those persons in France, who were desirous of making such an assertion, have lately said, that Vincentius, the author of the Commonitory, was a Semi-Pelagian; but they have produced no proof except from their own judgmeut. For they account all those who do not agree with Calvin, as Pelagians; or, when inclined to a more Jenient course, they call them Semi-Pelagians. If Rivet be not terrified with the epithet Sesqui-Manicheism, no reason whatever exists for real Catholics being afraid of the term Semi-Pelagianism. The Manichees declared, that evil actions proceeded from necessity. For they were deniers of the freedom of the human will, like some other persons in this age. But since they durst not deny that God is good, they preferred to deduce tbat necessity of evil actions from some other origin than fron, the Deity. Yet men have been found, who proceeded far beyond this point; and, while they agreed with the Manichees respecting that inevitable necessity, they had the audacity to ascribe the cause of it to no other source than to our gracious God: These are the men, who, for the best reasou in the world, are called Sesqui-Manichees. It would be difficult for me to say, whether or not Rivet be one of their number: For they are accustomed to varnish over their sentiments in a marvellous manner, when they see them liable to incur odium from good men. And they manage all this with such consummate art, as never openly to condemn or to acknowledge the objec. tions made against them.

“ Baldwin has quoted, from Beza's answer to Castellio, the expressions which Beza uses when be says, that for the space of fifteen years he was neither rendered sober, liberal, nor addicted to speaking the truth, but that he still remained in the miry clay. Such a confession ought not to be considered disgraceful to those persons who suppose, that St. Paul, even after he had become an Apostle, was brought into captivity to the law of sin, by means of the law in his members; and that be was carnal and sold under sin ;' (Rom. vii, 14, 23.) and who declare, that certain sins have dominion

over the regenerate, and that the most holy persons on earth daily sin " against their own consciences.' Holy meu do not utter against themselves such calumnies as these phrases import: St. Paul declares himself to be "the chief of sinners ;' but ibis expression refers to the period before his conversion when he was a persecutor of the Church. But, after receiving the knowledge of salvation,' St. Paul and those who resemble him, do not say,

that they live without sin ;' neither do tbey say,' that they are held captive by their sins,' which, as we have before declared, are destroyed at a single blow. St. Augustine is himself a witness that such sins as sacrilege, murder, adultery, false testimony, theft, rapine, pride, envy, avarice, and even anger, itself though long cherished, and drunkenness after frequent indulgence, are all destroyed. How many of Rivet's associates, who style themselves the elect, have been detected in the commission of wicked actions and flagitious crimes! He will say, “ These evil deeds are also found among other

denominations. He will speak the truth,: But, among those others, there are likewise causes which nourish vicious conduct. Cardinal Gropper also spoke truly, when he said, in the Institution of Catechumens, 'It cannot be

denied, for facts proclaim this truth, that by the neglect of penitence all ecclesiastical discipline, which is the sole foundation of religion, is at once forgotten and grown into disuse; and that, in its stead, the foulest and

truth would never arrive. Then, since the term of life is uncertain, I act in this production and in others, so as to leave nothing to the diligence of my heirs, of whose neglect I am daily a witmost scandalous offences have in a body inundated the Church, and are

the causes of the disturbances that agitate the present times. But among the followers of Beza, no cause is more powerful than the opinion, that a man who is regenerate may fall into such sins and yet not fall from grace on that account, that his salvation is sure and certain, and that he ought to indulge in no doubts concerning it. Is it any thing wonderful, if these people are precipitately hurried into crimes, when the desh allures them, and they are restrained by no fear ? The man who admonishes others about these matters, does not hate men, but loves God and the salvation of mankind.

"The Edicts which have been published in France in favour of those who call themselves the Reformed, Grotius does not wish to see either rescinded or curtailed, but to be most scrupulously observed ; and of this fact he has numerous and great witnesses. .

66 With regard to Servetus, those who have perused him will not, I think, be persuaded that he agreed in sentiment with Paul Samosatenus. But it is true, as Melancthon states, that Servetus does not sufficiently explain his thoughts of those things which he discusses. He had undoubtedly become involved in error : But he did not go to Geneva for the purpose of instilling his own notions into the minds of the people ; nor did he remain in that city in order to collect together a new denomination. He had come with the express intention of consulting Calvin : But, long before his arrival, Calvin had predestinated him by a horrible deeree to a death of infamy. In proof of this may be cited Calvin's letter to Farel, in which he declares, that if his authority possessed any validity, he would take care that he should not depart alive. It is sufficient to have stated these things : Aud nothing need be added, except this, that magistrates are with the greatest propriety warned by Grotius to be on their guard against the men who defend these maxims, For it is only necessary to look, and instantly to discover how they destroy christian love and gentleness, and all the bonds of human society. Princes who hold erroneous opinions, do not account themselves heretics ; neither do those subjects who differ from their rulers, number themselves among the favourers of heresy. Now if Princes should believe that they ought to kill heretics, and if subjects should foster the opinion, that they ought to resist by arms tbe operation of those edicts which take away the free exercise of their religion, what shall we have but civil wars in all directions, without any hope of intermission ? Because foreigners, under the influence of the same maxims, will unite themselves either to these Princes or to their subjects, as their own sentiments may accord with the one party or the other, and will thus prevent those whose cause they espouse from being subdued by their adversaries. Grotius is

otius is easily persuaded, that Rivet's associates in France do not approve of the Genevan dogma of punishing heretics with the sword.' For they know how dangerous such a proposition is to themselves; not because they account themselves to be heretics, no more than Servetus thought himself one; but because they are conscious, that they are viewed as heretics by their sovereign, nay as blasphemers, on that point especially in which they make God to be the author of sin.

" Grotius has no wish to exasperate kings and all orders of men against Rivet and his party ; but be admonishes, them to beware of dogmas that not only disturb the peace of the church, but likewise the peace of society. If they will receive this admonition and act accordingly, they will raise themselves to a greater height in the estimation of kings and men of all ranks, than that to which they have ever yet attained. This is no triling point of safety, which Grotius is desirous to procure for them. The business of peace is the conceru of Christ himself. The light is the Holy Scriptures, understood according to their ancient meaning and interpretation : Prejudices and passions diffuse darkness over the mind. Grotius is not among the number of those who, through covetousness and with feigned words, make merchandize of the souls of men ; (2 Pet. ii, 3.) and it is not his endeavour

ness." This was courageous discourse and a noble attempt for a man that bad nearly attained to sixty years of age ; but he had to complain, that his endeavours to reconcile the great body of Protestants together, and then to effect a union between them and the Papists, was not supported by many of his friends, as, in his opinion, it ought to have been at that juncture. He says, “ If Erasmus and Cassander had waited until there had been no seditious movements of the people, they might have imposed on them

by this labour to obtain either advantage or honour. Neither is he so imprudent as not to have foreseen the odium wbieb would be excited by this pacific attempt. He wishes to see all dishonest gains removed from the church; and he will vever repent of having intreated God and admonished men, for the completion of this purpose. The dogs that lie in the manger, [in allusion to Æsop's fable,] are not only unwilling to enjoy peace them: selves, even that inequitable kind of peace wbich was established by the decrees of the Synod of Dort, but they likewise divert from peaceful observances other people that do not belong to their party. In the mean time, they view theniselves with such complacency, as to lay claim to the peculiar title of the sheep and the spouse of Christ;' they place the fact beyond all controversy, that'they are God's people and heritage ; and on these foundations, as though they were well laid, they erect grand superstructures, for trophies to themselves as the conquerors of all other people. Such a degree of confidence do these carnal weapons impart, with which they see themselves on every side defended! Their spirits swell, like the sails of a ship that have long been filled with prosperous breezes. When they obtain access to the ears of men in power, they close them against all men besides; they are not content with having imposed silence on other people, but add reproaches and insults, while they scornfully sing, Woe betide the van. quished ! They are without a single rival, and will remain so; for their conduct is such, as to cause them to indulge in self-love unto desperation, while nove, except their own dear selves, can manifest towards them any tokens of affection.

This description of the Calvinists of 1643, was drawn by the hand of one of the greatest men, and certainly the most accomplished and universal scholar, of that learned age; and the opinious avowed, in the two treaties from which it is quoted, are supported throughout hy stubborn facts. This description is the more interesting on account of the author's wishes, expressed fully in the text, (page 272,) to render these pamphlets, which were among the very last of his literary labours, a sedlative to the turbulent spirits of the Calvinists in this country. He enjoyed better opportunities of knowing the concerts of every religious denomination than any other man in Europe; his information is therefore the more valuable. On every occasion he displays a strong desire to benefit Englishmen, by infusing a better disposition into the Puritans. In the last pamphlet which he wrote, he says : * Many persons both at Paris and throughout France, in Poland and Germany, and not a few in England, who are mild men and lovers of peace, know, that the labours of Grotius for the peace of the church have not been dipleasing to several equitable and competent judges. For what man, who is not infected with the same poison, will require one to please the Brownists [Independents), who are indulging their fraritic humours to the extent which we now behold, and others that resemble them, if any such there be, with whom Rivet will enjoy more complete concord than with the English Bishops !" This great and good man died four years prior to the beheading of King Charles the First, arid was mercifully taken away from a sight of the evils which were then impending, and which would have wounded his benevolent spirit. Only a few months prior to his decease, he made the following remark in a letter to his brother: "The events which have ti England are just such as S predicted, the number of sects has increased to immensity. The English has always been esteemed by men of learning as THE BEST LITURGY."

ed in

selves an eternal silence. Those vipers always hiss, especially when they are invigorated by the gales which blow from the Lake of Geneva. Bearing these things with patience, I am unwilling to defer the completion of those labours which I consider it a part of my duty as a Christian to undertake. Life itself is not in our own hands : * Our toils will be profitable either to

* It must not be supposed that Grotius, at this juncture, began to entertain, for the first time, the godlike design of uniting the different denomibations of professing Christians into one hody. In the first edition of his treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion, published several years before his pamphlet on 'Antichrist, he closes the eleventh chapter of his sixth book, by an eloquent and pious exhortation to Christian unity and concord, and proves that the soldiers of Christ ought to employ arms of a different description to those of the Mahomedans. How well that evangelical counsel had been approved by those who were then most celebrated for their moderation, learning, and piety, may be seen in the subjoined quotation from one of his letters to his brother, in 1641 :

"I am much pleased that your business allows you leisure to go to Amsterdam ; for your presence will, I hope, cause those additions which must be made to the Annotations on the Gospels, to be correctly published. If, while I live, they do not produce the effect which I desire, and to which (if I may be permitted so to express myself) I consider myself to have been destined from my mother's womb, yet it will prove of the utmost consequence to have plavted trees that may be serviceable to a future generation.-A few days ago, a very learned Englishman called upon me: He has lived a long tine in Turkey, and has translated my book on the Truth of the Christian Religion into Arabic; and he will endeavour, if it be possible, to have his translation of it printed in England. He thinks no book can be more useful, either for the instruction of the Christians in that part of the world, or for the conversion of the Turks who reside in Turkey, Persia, Tartary, Barhary, or the East Indies. This very pious man earnestly intreated me to persist in the purpose which I had expressed at the end of that treatise, and not to suffer myself to be deterred, by any factions and calumnies whatever, from offering to the acceptance of all Christians the cup of concord. Nothing creates a greater aversion to Christianity among those who are without,' than a sight of the numerous denominations divided among themselves. I returned such answers as the occasion suggested. Beside the Christians in Turkey, there are, iu all parts of the world, many others, I do not doubt, who are under similar oppressive influence. I have fully determined, as much as in my power, to shew both the causes of these divisions and the remedies. But I beseech you not to imagine, that it concerns my reputation to render satisfaction to the Calvinists, (nearly all of whom are seditious persons,) in preference

ons,) in preference to other denominations that are not less, but perhaps are much more, Christian. God has bestowed on me this (Swedish] embassy, that I may be able to speak freely; and should I even resign this office, I would use the same freedom of speech in some other situation. I entreat you therefore, my dear brother, neither to be yourself alarmed, nor to suppose that I shall by any means be alarmed, if my enemies call me no member of the Church, a Papist, a Socinian, or whatever name they please. The French Bishops and a majority of Divines oppose superstitions, and openly profess a desire of restoring that union of the Church which we owe to Christ. Shall I shew myself a loiterer, or inactive in such a good work as this, when God has imparted to me those gifts for which I shall never be able to iender him sufficient praise and thankfulness? May I banish from my mind all such fear and indolence!”

No one can withhold the tribute of admiration from the noble frankness displayed in this acknowledgment of the talents which God had communicated. I have always viewed such an avowal, on proper occasions, to be equally distant from the effrontery of braggardism, and from the obtruding meekness of a specious humility, which often seeks, by a voluntary selfdegradation, to obtain unmerited applause.

our cotemporaries or to our successors.”-In a most interesting letter, dated Feb. 2, 1641, he thus addresses his brother: “ Those objections undoubtedly which the Lutherans make against the Calvinists, as stated in the letter of Vossius, are not empty expressions ; they have in them much truth and reality. I also con

sider his remark very just, that if the Swedish and Danish · The person whom Grotius here styles “ a very learned Englishman," was no other than the celebrated oriental scholar, Dr. Edward Pocock, the able co-adjutor of Bishop Walton in that great national undertaking, the LONDON POLYGLOTT Bible. He had been five years Chaplain to the English Factory at Aleppo; and he and the learned Greaves were, soon after his return to this country, appointed to travel in the East. They spent nearly four years at Constantinople, studying the Eastern languages, and purchasing, bv Archbishop Laud's order, all the valuable manuscripts which they could discover. Both these eminent men, as well as several of the most pious and LEARNED INDIVIDUALS that any nation ever produced in one age, were vexed and disturbed by those semi-harbarians, the Parliamentary Visitors aud the Triers and Ejectors, who, with the great majority of the Calvinian party, were decided enemies to learning. Bishop Womack has preseuted us with an excellent specimen of their Puritanic cant on this subject, in the speech of Mr. Fatality, page 70, in which he says, “ The man hath a competent measure of your ordinary unsanctified learning," &c.

The reader will be gratified by a perusal of the following quotation from Twells's Life of Dr. Pocock, which contains a circumstance that is highly honourable both to our author and to Grotius. After stating, that, early in 1641, Dr. Pocock, in his route to England, called at Paris, and visited Gabriel Sionita, the famous Maronite, and Hugh Grotius, his biographer proceeds to say : “ To the latter he could not but be very acceptable, as on several accounts, so particularly on that of the relation he stood in to a person for whom Grotius bad all imaginable esteem and reverence. the Archbishop of Canterbury. And doubtless, the troubles which had lately begun to fall on that great Prelate, and the black cloud which now bung over the Church of England in general, were the subject of no small part of their conversation.-But there were other things, about which he was willing to discourse with this great man. Mr. Pocock, while he continued in the East, bad often lamented the infatuation under which so great a

which so great a part of the world lay, being enslaved to the foolish opinions of that gravd impostor Mahumet. He had observed, in many who professed his religion, much justice and candour and love, and other excellent qualities, which seemed to prepare them for the kingdom of God; and therefore he could not but persuade himself, that, were the doctrines of the Gospel but duly proposed to them, not a few might open their eyes to discern the truth of it. Something therefore he resolved to do towards so desirable an eud, as he should meet with convenient leisure; and he could not think of any thing more likely to prove useful in this respect, than the translating into Arabic, the general language of the East, an admirable Discourse that had been pubIshed in Latin, some years before, concerning the Truth of Christianity. With this design he now acquainted Grotius, the author of that treatise;. who received the proposal with auch satisfaction, and gave him a great deal of encouragement to pursue it.-And Mr. Pocock's aim in this matter being only the glory of God and the good of souls, he made no scruple at all to mention to that learned man some things towards the end of his book, which he could not approve, viz. certain opinions, which, though they are commonly in Europe charged on the followers of Mahomet, have yet no foundation in any of their authentic writings, and are such as they themselves are ready on all occasions to disclaim. With which freedom of Mr. Pocock, Grotius was so far from being displeased, that he heartily thanked him for it; and gave him authority, in the version he intended, to expunge and alter whatsoever he should think fit.”

Dr. Pocock's esteemed Arabic translation of this treatise of Grotius was published at Oxford in 1660, immediately after the Restoration.

« PreviousContinue »