« AnteriorContinua »
of doctrinal errors than had ever before been made by one who most inconsistently remained in other respects “ a thorough-paced Calvinist.”
Gomarus possessed considerable skill in the Oriental languages; and, like some other learned men, imagined that he had discovered the true rhythmus of the Hebrew Psalms. In reference to this matter, Rivet, one of his greatest admirers, has said : “ Not long ago, the very famous and learned Francis Gomarus published his Lyra Davidis, in which he thought he had so far reduced the verses of David's Psalms to Horace's metres, and to others of that kind, that he had discovered the true nature of the poetry of the Hebrews. But Lewis Capellus, in his book of Animad versions, has endeavoured to confute that whole work of Gomarus.”—The famous Scaliger had no esteem for Gomarus. In the Scaligerana it is said :
“ If any one shall ask Gomarus and Snellius, whether the present age will produce greater men than the preceding, they will undoubtedly answer Yes, because they think themselves the greatest scholars in the world. Gomarus is of Bruges: He is learned on this account-he has a fine library ; he has a great number of Ramists, for he is a good master of Analytic, which is the characteristic of a Ramist. He imagines himself to be the most learned of all the divines. He understands Chronology, as much as I do how to make false money.”—The mild and excellent Junius, whose praise is in all those churches in which moderation is valued, was accustomed to say of Gomarus: “ That man pleases himself most wonderfully by his own remarks. He derives all his stock of knowledge from others; he brings forward nothing of his own: Or, if at any time he varies from his usual practice, he is exceedingly infelicitous in those occasional changes.”-In some animadversions on the unmanly attack which Gomarus made on Arminius immediately after his decease in his Warning, Taurinus alludes to the expression of Bertius, respecting Gomarus being an Atlas, in the following words: “When I read that bitter production, at first I was astonished at the scoffing and the malevolence of the man ; but I afterwards congratulated myself and friends, when I had perused his frigid arguments and inappropriate solutions. What explanations, utterly unworthy of a divine, does not this man invent! And with what confidence, not to say impudence ! Such explanations, indeed, as learned interpreters never saw, even during sleep! Do. these proceed from that Atlas who was alone capable of sustaining heaven? What tyro, I pray, who had only just entered on ihe threshold of Theology, would not have given as good a reply. as this out of Ursinus and Bucanus, with the exception of some
acute inventions and the explanation of certain passages, such as Isaiah the Fifth ?"
0.–Page 32. In the preceding Appendices, (L and M,) it will be seen, the two Professors of Divinity, Trelcatius, sen. and Francis Junius, became victims to the dreadful plague which has been described in Appendix K. When the University was deprived of these powerful props and required a new Atlas as successor to each of the mighty deceased, the wisest men in Holland scarcely saw how any adequate remedy could be applied to this recent wound. Arminius himself was much affected with the mournful condition of the University; and in a letter to Uitenbogaert, dated Nov. 3, 1602, he informs his friend, that, in what direction soever he cast his eyes, he could see exceedingly few among the foreign divines who were competent to the undertaking, or who could occupy the places of the deceased Professors according to their dignity. From France no hope seemed to dawn, since there was scarcely any prospect, in the churches of that kingdom, of obtaining even persons of mediocrity in that department of sacred literature. When he extended his thoughts into Germany, not more than one or two could be found who were men of any reputation. Pezelius was worn out with age ; Grynæus likewise had passed beyond his sixtieth year. Paræus was considered as being too closely bound to the Palatinate. But Arminius thought, that, among all the German divines, no one was better qualified to undertake this province than the famous John Piscator, who, in his judgment, was deservedly eminent for erudition, diligence and perspicuity, and who, by his writings, had procured for himself no small degree of celebrity and reputation.
The thoughts, however, of the most honourable the Curators of the University, on this subject, were very different from those which Arminius had entertained : For they were of opinion, that no reference in this matter was to be had to the foreign divines, and spontaneously turned their entire attention to Arminius and Trelcatius, jun. as the most suitable persons to succeed the two deceased Professors. The Rev. John Uitenbogaert, who was at that time chaplain to that valorous hero, Prince Maurice, and in attendance at the camp at Grave in Brabant, had, soon after the death of Trelcatius, been informed, by the letters of friends, of this benevolent feeling towards Arminius, on the part of those most honourable individuals, and of the greatest part of the students. The first intimation which he received of this kind partiality,* was from the letters of the celebrated Hugh
• Uitenb. Hist. Eccles. p. 312.
Grotius, (then a young man,) and of Anthony Thysius, both of whom were profuse in their praise of the extraordinary endowments of Arminius, and most earnestly besought Uitenbogaert, that he would not refuse to interpose his good offices, and to exhort Arminius to accept that situation, if it should be offered to him. In the letter of Thysius, Arminius is extolled to the skies, and styled (Lumen Belgarum, et ad Scholas natum] THE LUMINARY OF THE NETHERLANDS, AND BORN FOR (THE GOOD OF] THE UNIVERSITIES.
After Uitenbogaert had returned from the camp to the Hague, and was present at a public entertainment, fresh and honourable mention was made before him concerning the call of Arminius to the Professor's chair, by those most honourable Senators, Neostadius, Franckius, and R. Hogerbeets; the first of whom was one of the Curators of the University, and the very famous John Dousa, Lord of Norderwick, was the other: Franckius and Hogerbeets had, in their youthful days, been fellow-students with Arminius.* When this conversation commenced, Uitenbogaert was silent; but, being interrogated by the noble company, he willingly gave his opinion in favour of their proposition, and added his vote to their honourable suffrages.—A few days afterwards, Nicholas Zeystius, the Syndic of Leyden, addressed a letter to Neostadius, in which he said, that nearly all the students in the University had turned their eyes towards Arminius, and that it was their intention earnestly to urge his call to the vacant Professorship, by a humble petition, which was to be presented at the next meeting of the Curators.
When Arminius had been informed of all these propitious circumstances by Uitenbogaert, he was so far from evincing any ambition for the situation which many persons had designed for him, that, on the contrary he daily revolved in his mind the strong reasons which ought entirely to deter him from accepting it.-Such is the account given by the younger Brandt, of the commencement of this call to the Professor's chair.
The reasons of Arminius are so justly and elegantly described in the following letter to his friend Uitenbogaert, as to induce me to present it to my readers without abridgment. The conclusion is the only part which contains his views respecting the proposed call to Leyden: But the earlier parts of it, which relate to his conduct as an affectionate Christian Pastor, and as a sound divine, are highly worthy of distinct notice on account of the connection in which they are placed.
Uitenb. Vita, cap. v.
“ JAMES ARMINIUS wishes Health, and Welfare through
Christ, to his friend John UITENBOGAERT. “ Your letters are always most agreeable and acceptable to me; but that written by you on the 22d of September, which I received on the 27th, was in our present circumstances more than usually longed-for and esteemed. For it administers great comfort to me, by the bare mention of your solicitude concerning me and mine, and of your prayers to God, which I know to be most fervent and effectual. Indeed, I am fully persuaded, that, through your prayers principally and those of our Church, I have to the present moment remained uninfected by the pestilence which still dreadfully rages and spreads its devastations, and which I have been among the first to bring down from heaven upon our devoted heads. I also feel a confidence that I shall still be free from it, through the great mercy of God, if he know that my safety will in that case conduce to his glory, to the edification of the Church, and to my own salvation as well as to that of my family. But I have now for a long time offered myself and my life to Him; and I am daily waiting till he require it of me, and [meliorem cum fænore reponat) bestow upon me a better life with interest: I do this with a mind that is calm, tranquil, and undismayed. I mention with confidence my freedom from terror, that I may cause you to rejoice. And I beseech Him who is the God of all consolation, to preserve in me to the end the same tranquillity of spirit. I most earnestly request, nay I command you, to unite in this entreaty with me, who am ready on my part to perform for you the same office of friendship. When this fatal distemper first began to hurl desolation all around, and to raise its immense piles of victims, my mind was much affected with anxious thoughts about my wife and children: For, the small portion of substance which I should be able to leave them, was a subject of serious concern. But, by the goodness of God, I overcame that temptation ; and I now entertain no doubt that they will be objects of special regard to the Lord God, who is the Father of widows and of orphans. I did not arrive at this conclusion because I had conducted myself towards Him in such a manner, as to be enabled [confidere] to be confidently assured that his favour would be continued towards those who are dear to me after my decease; no, but because I dare hope for it [præfidente fiducia] with a believing trust.
66 The consideration of those trifles of mine which I have at intervals committed to paper, has pestered me greatly, and is
even now a source of uneasiness. While standing on the brink of the grave, I have not been bold enough to order them to be burnt, because, it is possible, they might be useful to me, if, beyond human probability, I should survive this general calamity. I find much greater difficulty in bringing my mind to the resolution of suffering them to remain as posthumous papers after my decease. For I know them to be unworthy of inspection, or to be submitted to the judgment of even such a very friendly man as yourself. I rejoice indeed, that I
such a place in your esteem as I now do; and it is my wish to be equally high in your esteem after I am dead. This station in your affections, however, I shall not be able to hold, if these productions should manifestly declare, that I have been most unworthy of it, and this is sure to be the consequence as soon as they are inspected. But I make this communication to
and I desire it may stand in the place of my last Will, that I wish my papers to fall into the hands of no one, except James Bruno and yourself, both of whom, I know, will use them with equity and indulgence, and would correct them for the benefit of my heirs, if any part of them, after a slight degree of correction, might see the light.
“ I will here add some further particulars concerning my studies. I have now, for some time past, turned my attention to the Providence of God, to the consideration of which subject I have indeed been constrained by the peculiar exigences of these times; and I am of opinion, that some things are yet among the desiderata for a more ample and accurate explanation of it, in addition to those which have been delivered in a most learned and accurate manner by our authors. I have perused Ursinus, Zanchius, and Gomarus, all of whom have professed to discuss this topic. I frequently ponder, according to the slenderness of my capacity, upon each (of the arguments which they advance.] I animadvert on a few things in Gomarus, because his production is brief; and I shall probably make some remarks on the others : These I will communicate to you when I have finished,—not for the purpose of teaching you, but of obtaining your judgment, which I have ever highly valued. I gladly enter upon studies of this kind according to the inclination of my nature, which always evinces a propensity for a further search into truth, and does not know how to leave off, till it has gone completely through with the search, or, at least, till it supposes that it has
But in the present lamentable condition of our Republic, various important duties operate as hindrances : Some of those duties are to be performed to friends and neighbours, in