Imatges de pàgina
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rhetoric of the Greeks, either because he was naturally abhorrent to them, or because he thought the use of those showy appendages and adscititious ornaments unworthy the Majesty of Divine Things, when naked Truth is amply sufficient for its own defence. Yet we may perceive, by his letters to Drusius, that he placed a high value on the knowledge of Hebrew and Oriental Literature ; by which he considered it possible not only to discover and explain the phrases of the Sacred Language, but likewise the antiquities of the ancient Jewish Church, and the rites, manners and customs of that people both in their sacred and civil concerns: He thought such knowledge useful and necessary for forming a perfect divine, and exhibited no small displeasure against those persons who lightly esteemed these and similar studies. A smart disputant on those subjects which appertain to religion, and skilful in turning the subtleties of his adversaries against themselves, in other respects he shewed himself averse to discussions of an abstruse description except in cases of necessity; and he endeavoured to devote all his learning, and all the powers of his mind and genius, to such a course of living as might be worthy of a christian man. In teaching, he displayed no superciliousness; in interpreting his own thoughts, he was complaisant, mild, and perspicuous; in argumentation, he was circumspect; and he had such slight confidence in himself, that he refused to gratify the wishes of his friends, who urged him to publish some of the works which he had written. In reference to this, he was accustomed to charge his famous colleague, Trelcatius junior, with no small degree of imprudence for having published in his youthful days, “A Body of Christian Divinity," in which Arminius thought he had written some things well, but several others in a manner not sufficiently agreeable to the Sacred Writings.

Not only during the life of Arminius, but also after his death, various were the judgments passed on him. Scarcely had Peter Bertius pronounced over him a Funeral Oration, when Gomarus attacked his deceased colleague and the man who celebrated his virtues; and, in a pamphlet which he published against Arminius, he detracted much from the commendations bestowed on him and Bertius. But the eyes of Gomarus smarted greatly at the sight of a poem, with which the honourable Grotius had honoured the memory of Arminius ; and he blamed particularly the following lines in it :

Indigniore parte fractus et languens,
Meliore sospes, illa millibus multis
Monstrata per te regna Solus arderes.

This word solus, “ alone,” had procured much ill-will to this very celebrated poet and to Arminius himself; though the offensive word had crept in by the negligence of the printer or of some other person who superintended the publication, and the word totus, “ entirely,” should have been substituted in its place. Grotius informed Gomarus of this unpleasant mistake in the following letter, which has never before been published, and in which he proved himself to be an appropriate defender of his own Funereal Verses:

" To that reverend and most famous man, Francis GOMARUS,

Professor of Divinity in the University of Leyden. “ REVEREND Sin,

“ I suppose you will have already seen my Iambics on the death of Arminius ; in which if you found any thing that pleased you, I should feel much gratified. But the very thing which, I understand, has excited your displeasure, is likewise displeasing to me. I had written, that your colleague, while labouring for things of the highest importance, was entirely inflamed in all his powers with the desire of obtaining (for himself and others) a better life in heaven. I know not whose evil hand it is, that has transformed the word Totus, entirely,' into solus, alone;' a substitution that appeared to me so foolish, as to be incapable of receiving any good meaning. Whoever the man may be, I wonder at his audacity and stupidity in making himself so unhappily critical and busy in the productions of another person. But if it was necessary to make any emendation, I ought to have been consulted. Immediately after the publication, I complained to the very learned Heinsius and other friends, that I had reasons for complaining in this particular of the fidelity of the publishers, and of their diligence in several others.

“ But, in praising Arminius after his decease, my purpose was, to give to him, to whom while alive I could refuse no kind of service, this testimony—which from the sentiments of my heart I seemed enabled to give,-that he possessed a genius which was by no means of a common description and a certain kind of eloquence, both of which I always admired in him : For I had known the man, though it was only as I knew several others, by no connection of intimate friendship. I also added, that, not only in those things in which he most ably defended the Truth against the Papacy, but likewise in those things in which it was possible for him to be in error, he had done nothing contrary to the dictates of bis conscience at the suggestion of

any perverse humour : Such was the judgment which charity dictated. Besides I had declared, that Arminius had directed his wishes to the peace of the Church, especially when he was in the immediate prospect of death.

“ With regard, however, to those things in which Arminius was at disagreement with you and other good men, I have not a sufficient knowledge of them; and if I had, I would not rashly intermeddle. That 'disagreement has its own judges. By the good grace of God, I think it is allowable to us, who are occupied about other matters, to remain in ignorance of many things,*

• Grotius fell into the same mistake as that into which some of our modern statesmen have fallen, who, in attempting to grant increased facilities for the Roman Catholic religion to spread its paralyzing influence more completely over the most ignorant part of the British populace, have wished to separate the religious consideration of that question from the political,-but this is impossible, as Milton long ago most ably demonstrated, and as Grotius found it in the case of Arminianism and Calvinism.

In the letter already quoted in page 297, he manifests his impartiality in those controversies, if not his leaning towards the followers of Junius,- the milder race of Dutch Calvinists. Describing the Conference between Arminius and Gomarus before the States of Holland in 1608, he says to his relative Reygersbergen : “ We came afterwards to the Perfection of Saints: I know not whether I should call the view which Arminius has of this subject an opinion, or a doubt and question. I had some conversation with Uitenbogardt about it after the Conference with Gomarus; and the result of what I then learnt and had formerly known, was, that the opinion of Arminius scemed to me repugnant to the definition of the Catechism, in the negative answer which is given to this interrogatory, "Is it possible for the Saints in this life to fulfil the law ? vor does the remark which Arminius makes appear true, that the interrogatory regarded POSSIBILITY, but that the answer had reference to ACTUAL PRACTICE. For the negative reply is a denial of what is stated in the question ; although, I confess, the reason which is given, [in the reply,) and the scriptural authority which is subjoined, have a more special regard to action : Yet I do not perceive what that power or ability can be which is never brought forth into action.”_Grotius was only a raw Theologian when he made this remark ; as will be evident to every one who is acquainted with the disputes between very learned and accomplished divines of the Church of England, respecting the import of particular Articles : Thus, for instance, in the Article on Original Sin, the expression, “far gone from original righteousness," is explained in a different manner by those divines who prefer the reading of the Latin copies, quam longissime. The same observation will apply to the Heidelberg Catechism, which was then extant both in Latin, Dutch, French, and German.

In his letter to John Rutgersius of Leyden, in Dec. 1609, Grotius requests that learned man to “ lend him his eyes" while his verses on the death of Arminius were passing a second time through the press, “ that a similar mistake" to the one which is noted in the text "might not again occur.” After giving a summary of his letter to Gomarus, he says, “I ingenuously confess, that I do not understand a great part of these controversies : Nor indeed do they appertain to the duties a Pensionary. A moderate share of Theology is sufficient for us.”_But his own conscience soon told him, that he could not properly legislate on subjects which he did not completely understand ; and having in his very boyhood evinced his aptitude to receive know. ledge of the most abstruse description almost by intuition, he was easily prevailed upon by the most illustrious statesmen in Holland, to apply his great mind to the

and about several others to withhold our consent. But though I do not suspend my faith on human authority, yet I gladly i confess that, on those topics on which I entertain any doubts, I

attainment of a correct acquaintance with the subjects then in dispute among the ecclesiastics. The first fruits of his theological studies were displayed in his Ordinum Hollandiæ ac West Frisiæ Pietas, &c. vindicating the conduct of the States of Holland in i their guarded proceedings with respect to the call of Vorstius, &c., against the animad. versions of Sybrands Lubbertus. He proceeded with great regularity in these studies, and soon found to which side the Ancient Fathers inclined. In a letter to his friend Vossius in 1613, he says, “I do not profess to be a Divine, except so much of one as is necessary for a Christian ; and I know far less than is demanded by the necessity of my office and of the times in which we live. I have hitherto been engaged in reading the Fathers, to assure myself that the doctrine of an enslaved Will, and of the Necessary Perseverance of those who believe, is not very ancient. You act a friendly part in praying, that I may possess fortitude of mind and strength of body: I also besecch God, to endow me with his gifts, and speedily to recal me into the right way if on any point I have strayed.”_The result of his extensive course of reading in Divinity was exhibited, the next year, 1614, in his famous Decree concerning Tole. ration, (see p. 412,) and in his able defence of it, entitled, Defensio Decreti Ordinum, fc.

But the most ingenuous and interesting account of the origin and progress of his thcological studies, is that which he gives in a letter to the famous Thuanus, dated June 5, 1615, of which the following is an extract: “I have entered on a controversial species of writing, not by the direction of my own disposition which is not in the least inclined to strife, but I have been impelled by a force of a superior description,-by the advice of prudent men, and by an intense desire to assist my country and the Church ; the Church indeed more than my country. For, to declare the truth to you, most illustrious Thuanus, (and in fact what man is there, who is more worthy to hear the truth than yourself?) from the period when I began to think with deeper attention about religious matters, I found, that the complaints had been exceedingly just of those who requested to obtain some amendment (to the existing system,] Dot only in the explanation of doctrines, but likewise in rites and government; but that as is usual on such occasions, some offence had been committed through an excess of contradiction : Thus while they (the early Reformers) abandoned the dangerous faith in Merits, they insensibly contracted sentiments contemptuous of Good Works ; through a disgust at Superstition, all Forms of public service (liturgies were blasted with wonderful frigidity; and from a fear of Tyranny, which had been intol. erable, they had proceeded to the very confines of Anarchy. Wherefore I was always of opinion, that the good men who are [in nostra parte) of our party, the Protestants, ought to employ their utmost exertions to bring back again by degrees to a Golden Mean whatever might have erred from a right course [had been exorbitant]: This consideration, I perceive, was fixed deeply on the mind of Melanchthon. But no objection produced, I will not say against our Churches, but against the most ccle. brated divines of our Churches, is more scandalous than this that by urging too strongly certain rigid dogmas, which savour more of the Portico of Zeno than of the Porch of Solomon, they ascribe to God the causes of sin, and by their unedifying dis. course subvert all regard for godliness. This also was perceived by the same Me. lanchthon ; but, at the warning of Erasmus, being called off and drawn away from those rocks against which Luther had been impetuously driven, he afterwards cor. rected his course. When certain pastors among us followed in the footsteps of Me. lanchthon, but, being oppressed by the impetuosity of their colleagues, found their sole refuge in the kindness of the magistrates, I united myself to those who thought it a matter past all endurance, that a thing most pernicious in its nature at the very commencement (of the Reformation should pass for a precedent, and that it should

cannot easily be moved from the sentiments of those whom the Church has hitherto acknowledged as standard-bearers in the pure Reformation. But my mind is particularly attached to many of the precepts of Francis Junius, whose memory I highly revere. Besides, in all controversies, I am always inclined towards that party which ascribes the most to Divine Grace, and the least to ourselves. I am grieved at these dissensions : But the Church never yet was long without them, and never will be. It remains, that we bear one with another; and that, amidst the many things which human infirmity renders uncertain, we may hold those certain things on which the hopes of our salvation are founded.

“ But I pray God, Reverend Sir, to direct your labours to this object, to which without doubt you have regard,—to the

be openly declared concerning such as pursued moderate counsels, They cannot be (olerated in our churches. When some violent divines in our vicinity fiercely opposed themselves to this pious design, and connected with it such matters as obviously did not belong to it, solely to excite hatred against the Magistrates while adopting pacific mcasnres; it was deemed proper to shew one of these pragmatical doctors, who far surpassed the rest in violence, and who in a most wicked manner had implored the aid of a foreign power, how those turbulent clamours had no foundation either in law or in equity. I was chosen to execute this task, not because there were not several persons who could have performed it with more correctness, but because that province seemed to belong to the office which I then sustained. Neither was I ignorant of the consequences of irritating wasps; but relying on the consciousness of an honourable purpose, I ventured to offer myself to calumny, from which those persons will never escape who attempt to oppose mature and strong vices.

“But I return you thanks, illustrious man, and at the same time I acknowledge your abundant good-will towards me and your eminent wisdom, for having advised me to abstain in future from contentions of this description. Influenced therefore both by your authority, and entirely inclined by my own choice to practise such prudent counsel, I will anxiously avoid all contests that are not absolutely necessary : The adoption of this course is, I see, of the greatest consequence, as you justly observe, to my tranquillity of mind, and to the health of my body, which is not sufficiently established as I find by experience.”

It was after a long and cautious investigation which commenced at the early Christian Fathers, and was continued through the productions of the most eminent modern divines, that Grotius became attached to the principles of the deceased Arminius, and avowed himself the patron of the prudent and tolerant views of his early followers. This great man always admired the moderation displayed by the venerable Reformers of the Church of England; and often mentioned them in his published writings and in his private correspondence, as examples worthy of general imitation. One great object of the long digression about this illustrious individual in my Calvinism and Arminianism Compared, was, to vindicate his beloved memory from the unjust atracks of his Popish and Puritanic slanderers. Among those of the former class may be reckoned, his French biographer Burigny, who, contrary to all historic evidence, wishes on every occasion to represent him as Papistically inclined ; and the bold yet insidious Bishop of Meaux, who, like the most forward and ill-informed defenders of that corrupt church in our days, audaciously maligncd Grotius as a Semi-pelagian, _“ a man,” as Dr. Jortin sententiously observes, “infinitely superior to an hundred Bossuets !"

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