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'I altogether and utterly dissent from those | tery-one of bribery-of persnasion, of who are unwilling that the Holy Scriptures, menace, of compulsion, to compass the translated into the vulgar tongue, should be read invaluable proselyte. Could he maintain by private persons (idiotis), as though the teachings of Christ were so abstruse as to be intelli
a stately neutrality ? approve each party gible only to a very few theologians, or as though so far as it seemed right, condemn it where the safety of the Scripture rested on man's it seemed wrong? Could he offer a friendly ignorance of it. It may be well to conceal the mediation, soften off the fierce asperities, mysteries of kings; but Christ willed that his mitigate the violence of the collision ? mysteries should be published as widely as possi- Alas ! such days were passed. Those terble. I should wish that simple women (mulier- rible texts, Who is on the Lord's side, culæ) should read the Gospels, should read the who?' Cursed be he that doeth the work Epistles of St. Paul. Would that the Scriptore of the Lord deceitfully,' were become the were translated into all languages, that it might be read and known, not only by Scots and Irish- battle words on either banner. On the men, but even by Turks and Saracens.'- application of that other text, • Thou canst (Paraclesis in Nov. Testamentum.)
not serve Christ and Belial,' there was per
fect agreement; the two parties only difIV. If the amazement was great with fered as to which cause was Christ's, which which we surveyed the labours of Erasmus Belial's. There was no escape from the as editor of the classical authors, as com conscription, exercised with as little scruple pared with those of the most industrious of or mercy on one side as the other; he scholars in our degenerate days, what is it must take up arms; he must provoke when we add his editions of the early fierce unforgiving hostility ; he must break Fathers? It is enough to recite only the ties of friendship; he must embrace a names of these publications, and to bear in cause, while he was firmly convinced that mind the number and the size of their neither cause had full justice on its sidemassy and close-printed folios, some of that, according to his views, there were them filled to the very margin. They were errors, faults, sins on both, that neither was -St. Jerome, his first and favourite in possession of the full, sincere, unalloyed author ; Syprian ; the pseudo-Arnobius ; truth. And this terrible alternative was Hilary, to which was affixed a preface of forced upon Erasmus in the decline of life, great learning, which excited strong ani- when the mind usually, especially a mind madversion ; Irenæus, St. Ambrose, St. vigorously exercised, yearns for repose ; Augustine ; some works of Epiphanius, and when a constitution naturally feeble Lacantius ; some treatises of St. Athana- had been tried by a painful, wasting, in sius, St. Chrysostom, and others; St. those days irremediable, malady. The man Chrysostom, St. Basil (not the complete of books, who had thought to devote the works). At his death Erasmus had ad- rest of his days to his books, must be vanced far in the preparation for the press dragged forth, like a gladiator, to exhibit of the whole works of Origen.
his powers, himself with no hearty interest But in the fatal year of 1520-21 the on either side. It is true that he had been awful disruption was inevitable : from the involved in much controversy, and was not the smouldering embers of the Papal Bull wanting in the gall of controversy--but it burned at Wittemberg, arose the Reforma- had been in self defence; his was personal tion. The great Teutonic revolt, which at resentment for personal attacks. He had that time seemed likely to draw with it not spared the Lees and the Stunicas, or even some nations of Latin descent, France, the Louvain divines, who had set upon him with Italy and Spain, was now inevitable; with malignant rancour-rancour which he the irreconcilable estrangement between retorted without measure and without the two realms of Western Christendom scruple. was to become antagonism, hostility, war. The Utopian vision of Erasmus, no On which side was Erasmus, on which side doubt, had been a peaceful Reformation. was the vast Erasmian party to be found He had fondly hoped that the progress of —that multitude of all orders, especially polite letters would soften and enlighten of the more enlightened, whose allegiance the general mind; that the superstitions of to the established order of things, to Papal the middle ages would gradually be exdespotism, to scholasticism, to monkery, to ploded by the diffusion of knowledge ; mediæval superstition, had been shaken by that biblical studies would of themselves his serious protestations, by his satires, by promote a pure and simpler religion ; that his biblical studies ? Both parties acknow- obstinate monkhood would shrink into its ledged his invaluable importance by their proper sphere, the monasteries become restrenuous efforts to enrol him among their treats for literary leisure. He had imagined followers; both used every means of flat- that Leo X., the patron of arts, letters, and
whose reign of peace had not yet yielded by the Lutherans before his signature had
pages of Luther's writings, and those hastily, Up to this time he had stood well with but even in that basty reading he had discerned the heads of both parties. The Pope (Leo rare natural qualities and a singular faculty for
discerning the intimate sense of the sacred X.), the Cardinals, the most distinguished writings. I heard excellent men of approved prelates, still treated him with honour and doctrine and tried religion, congratulate themrespect. His enemies-those who cared selves that they had met with his writings. I not to disguise their suspicions, their jea- saw that in proportion as men were of uncorlousies, their animosities; who assailed rupt morals, and nearer approaching to Evanhim as a covert, if not an open heretic, gelic purity, that they were less hostile to Luwho called for the proscription of his tber; and his life was highly praised by those books, who branded him as an Arian, a profane scoffer
- were men of a lower class, He had endeavoured to persuade Luther some manifestly eager to make themselves to be more gentle and submissive, to mitia fame for orthodoxy by detecting his la- gate his vehemence against the Roman tent heterodoxy, some moved by sheer Pontiff. He had admonished the other bigotry, into which the general mind had party to refute Luther by fair argument, not been frightened back; monks and fri- and from the Holy Scriptures. Let them ars who were still obstinate Thomists or dispute with Luther; let them write against Scotists. The pulpits were chiefly filled Luther. What had been the course purby Dominicians and Carmelites—and from sued? A judgment of two universities the pulpits there was a continual thunder
came forth against Luther. A terrible of denunciation, imprecation, anathemati. Bull, under the name of the Roman Pontiff, sation of Erasmus.I
came forth against Luther. His books Of Luther he bad hitherto spoken, if were burned ; there was a clamour among with cautious reserve (he professed not to the people. The business could not be have read his writings, and had no personal conducted in a more odious manner. knowledge of him), yet with respect of Every one thought the Bull more unmerhis motives and of his character. Of him ciful than was expected from Leo, and yet Luther still wrote with deference for the those who carried it into execution aggra. universal scholar, of respect for the man. vated its harshness.' In Luther's letters up to 1520 there are On the accession of his schoolfellow at many phrases of honour, esteem, almost of Deventer, Adrian of Utrecht, to the Papal friendship, hardly one even of mistrust or throne, Erasmus commenced a letter urging suspicion.
concessions to Luther, and a gentler policy Even after this time Erasmus ventured to his followers ; he urges the possibility, more than once on the perilous office of the wisdom of arresting the course of relimediation. In bis famous letter to the gious revolution by timely reform. The Archbishop of Mentz, which was published
* Read the splendid passage in the 'Adagia,' * De Wette, i. p. 247, 396. Where he speaks of where he contrasts the Italy avd Rome of Leo with the letter to the Archbishop of Mentz: Egregia Italy and Rome under Julius II., under the title, epistola Erasmi ad Cardinalem Moguntinum, de • Dulce Bellum Inexpertis.'
me multum solicita .... ubi egregie me tutatur, + Bonas literas degravarunt invidia.— Epist. ad ita tainen ut nihil minus quam me tutari videatur, Bilibald. Quid rei bonis studiis cum fidei negotio ! sicut solet pro dexteritate sua, ii. 196. He has Deinde quid mihi cum causa Capnionis et Lutheri ? discovered hostility in Erasmus, but this is in 1522. Sed hæc arte commiscuerunt, ut communi invidia See also Melancthon's Letter, 378. gravarent omnes bonarum literarum cultores. - + Not the less did Wolsey proceed to prohibit Alberto, Espisc. Mogunt.
them in England. Erasmus even then protested | Epist. ad Campegium.
against burning Luther's books, Epist. 513.
letter broke off abruptly, as if he had re- with truth which was seditious; he had ceived a hint, or from his own sagacity rather surrender some portion of truth than had foreseen, how unacceptable such doc- disturb the peace of the world. He feared, trines would be even to a Teutonic Pope. as he said later, if tried like Peter, he Still later he broke out in indignant re- might fall like Peter.* monstrance on the burning of the two Au- 'Tis well that the world had men of gustinian monks at Brussels. On their fate, sterner stuff-men who would lay down and on their beautiful Christian fortitude, their own lives for the truth, and would not Luther raised almost a shout of triumph, even shrink from the awful trial of imperilas foreseeing the impulse which their mar- / ling the lives of others. But let us not too tyrdom would give to his cause. Erasmus severely judge those whom God had not veiled his face in profound sorrow at the gifted with this sublimer virtue ; let us not sufferings of men so holy and blameless, wholly attribute the temporising and less and not less clearly foreboded that these rigid conduct of Erasmus to criminal weakwere but the first-fruits of many and many ness, or more justly, perhaps, to constitubloody sacrifices to Him whom Erasmus tional timidity-still less to the sordid fear would have worshipped as the God of of losing his favours and appointments. mercy; and that, as of old, the martyr's Erasmus, from his point of view, could not blood would be the seed of the New fully comprehend the awful question at Church,
issue-that it was the great question of But neither, on the other hand, was he Christian liberty, or the perpetuation of prepared either by his honest and con- unchristian tyranny; that it was a question scientious opinions, by his deliberate judg- on which depended the civilization of manment on Christian truth, we will not say kind, the final emancipation of one-half of to go all lengths with Luther, though he the world from the sacerdotal yoke, the alcould not but see their agreement on many leviation of that yoke even to those who vital questions, but to encourage him in would still choose to bear it. Compare the disturbing the religious peace of the world. most Papal of Papal countries, even in our In truth, of men embarked to a certain ex- own days of strange reaction, with Papal tent in a common cause,t no two could Christendom before the days of Luther, be conceived in education, temperament, and calmly inquire what the whole world habits, character, opinions, passions, as far owes to those whom no buman consideraas Erasmus had passions, so absolutely an- tions-not even the dread of unchristian tagonistical; and add to all this the age war, could withhold from the bold, upcomand infirmities of Erasmus, as compared promising, patient assertion of truth. Let with the robust vigour and yet unexhaust- us honour the martyrs of truth ; but let us ed power of Luther.
honour—though in a less degree-those Erasmus had a deep, settled, conscien- who have laboured by milder means, and tious, religious hatred of war; not Penn or much less fiery trials, for the truth, even Barclay repudiated it more strongly or ab. if, like Erasmus, they honestly confess that solutely, as unevangelic, unchristian. He they want the martyr's courage. had declared these opinions in the teeth of Nothing can more clearly show how enthe warlike Pontiff Julius. The triumph tirely Erasmus mis-apprehended the depth of truth itself, at least its immediate tri- and importance of the coming contest, and umph, was not worth the horrors of a san- his own utter disqualification for taking an guinary war; he disclaimed all sympathy active part in it, than a fact upon which no
stress has been laid. It was to be a TeuQuid multis ! Ubicunque fumos excitavit tonic emancipation; not but that there was Nuncius, ubicunque sævitiam exercuit Carmelita, to be a vigorous struggle among the races ibi diceres fuisse factam hæreseon sementem, Epist. of Latin descent for the same freedom. In 1163. The whole of this most remarkable letter; France, in Italy, even in Spain, there were in which he describes the course of events, should be read. He speaks out about the still more offen
men who contended nobly and died boldly
But it sive and obtrusive pride, pomp, and luxury of the for the reformation of Christianity. clergy, especially of the Bishops. “It does not be- was to be consummated only in Teutonic come him to speak of the Pope.' But how has countries—a popular revolution, wrought Clement treated Florence!! + Nam videor mihi fere omnia docuisse, mille through the vernacular language.
in the minds and hearts of the people and popes.
But docet Lutherus, nisi quod von quodque abstinui a quibusdam ænigmatibus et
Erasmus was an absolute Latin-an obstiparadoxis. So wrote Erasmus to Zuinglius. The nate, determined Latin. He knew, he paradoxes were no doubt the denial of Free Will, would know, no languages but Latin and and the absolute sinfulness of all human works bebefore grace, and justification by faith without works.
* Epist. 654, repeated later.
Greek. We have seen him in Italy, al- | tion, the strife of centuries downwards from most running the risk of his life from his the Thirty Years' War, for emancipation disdainful refusal to learn even the com- not yet nearly won, may pity the ignorance monest phrases. To French he had an ab- of mankind, the want of sagacity and even solute aversion— It is a barbarous tongue, of common sense in Erasmus;
we may with the shrillest discords, and words bardly shake our knowing heads at the argument human.'* He gave up his benefice in Eng which he propounded in simple faith, that land because he would not learn to speak it was not a greater triumph than that English. We know not how far he spoke achieved at the first promulgation of bis native Dutch, but Dutch can have been Christianity' of no extensive use. He more than once Yet blinded-self-blinded, it may bedeclined to speak German.t Of the Swiss- for a time by this, dare we say pardonable, German, spoken at Basil, where he lived so hallucination, Erasmus stood between the long, he knew nothing. In one passage, two parties, and could not altogether close indeed, he devoutly wishes that all lan- his eyes. He could not but see on one side guages, except Greek and Latin, were the blazing fires of persecution, the obstiutterly extirpated; and what bears more nate determination not to make the least directly upon our argument, we think that concessions, the monks and friars in posseswe remember a passage in which he ex- sion of pulpits, new enemies springing up presses his deep regret that Luther conde in all quarters against himself and against scended to write in any tongue but Latin. polite letters, which were now openly
We, according to our humour, may branded as the principal source of all smile with scorn or with compassion at the heresy; the dogs of controversy—the Sorillusion which, as we have before said, pos- bonne, men of rank and station, like Albert, sessed the mind of Erasmus of a tranquil re- Prince of Carpi, Frenchmen, Germans, formation, carried out by princes, and kings, Spaniards, Italians,—let loose upon him
Yet it was his fond dream self, or bursting their leashes, and howling that Churchmen, as Churchmen then were, against him in unchecked fury. On the might be persuaded to forego all the su- other hand, tumult, revolt, perhaps-and perstitions and follies on which rested their too soon to come-civil war; the wildest power and influence, and become mild, excesses of language, the King of England holy, self-denying pastors ;£ that sove treated like a low and vulgar pamphleteer, reigns, like Charles, and Francis, and the Pope branded as Antichrist ; excesses Henry_each a bigot in his way; Charles of conduct, at least the commencements of a sullen, Francis a dissolute, Henry an iconoclasm; threatening schisms, as on the imperious bigot-should forget their feuds, Eucharist ; polite letters shrinking back and conspire for the re-establishment of a into obscurity before tierce polemics ; the pure and apostolic church in their do-whole horizon darkened with things more minions; that Popes, like the voluptuous dark, more awful, more disastrous. Leo; the cold and narrow Adrian of But the man of peace, the man of books, Utrecht; the worldly, politic, intriguing could not be left at rest. The unhappy Medici, Clement VII., should become the conflict with Ulric Hutten, forced upon him apostles and evangelists of a simple creed, against his will, not merely made him lose a more rational ritual, a mild and parental his temper, and endeavour to revenge himcontrol; that the edifice of sacerdotal self by a tirade, wbich we would most power, wealth, and authority, which had willingly efface from bis works, but combeen growing up for centuries, should mitted him at least with the more violent crumble away before the gentle breath of of the Lutheran party. Erasmus, in more persuasion. We, who have read the whole than one passage of his letters, deplores the history of the awful conflict for emancipa- loose morals, as well as the unruly conduct,
of many who called themselves Lutherans. A German child will learn to speak French All revolutions, especially religious revoluQuod si id fit in linguâ barbard et' abnormi. quæ tions, stir up the dregs of society ; and aliud scribit quani sonat, quæque suos habet most high-minded and dauntless Reformers, stridores et voces vix humanas, quanto id facilius who find it necessary to break or loosen fieret in lingnâ Græcâ seu Latina.—De Pouris the bonds of existing authority, must look educandis. Compare Hess, i. 133. | Epist, 655. See also Jortin, i. p. 246.
to bear the blame of men who seek freedom † Optabam illuc sic tractare Christi negotium, only to be free from all controlyt ecclesiæ proceribus, aut probaretur aut certe jou reprobaretur.—Jodoco Jonæ, Epist.
• Who licence mean when they cry liberty.' At ego libertatem ita malebam temperatam, ut Pontifices etiam et monarchæ ad hujus negotii consortium pellicerentur.—Melancthonii, Epist.
Of a far higher cast and rank than such men, but of all the disciples of Luther the gests to Erasmus to take refuge in Basil.* one in some respects most uncongenial to Erasmus did retire to Basil, but retired to Erasmus, was Ulric Hutten. Of Hutten's place himself in connexion with his printer. literary labours, his free, bold, idiomatic Two years after, Ulric Hutten, in wretched Latinity; his powers of declamation, elo- health, in utter destitution, almost an outquence, satire ; his large share in the law, hunted down, it might seem, as one of famous • Epistolæ Obscororum Virorum' Franz Sickengen’s disbanded soldiers, who (now, thanks to Sir W. Hamilton and to could find no refuge in Germany, appeared Dr. Strauss, ascertained with sufficient in Basil. The intercourse between Hutten accuracy), no one was more inclined to and Erasmus took place, unfortunately, judge favourably, or had expressed more through the busy and meddling, if not freely that admiring judgment, than Eras- treacherous, Eppendorf. This man, by mus. He had corresponded with him on some said to have been of high birth, was friendly terms. But Hutten's morals cer- studying theology at Basil, at the cost of tainly were not blameless. He was a tur. Duke George of Saxony, the determined bulent, as well as a dauntless man-restless, enemy of Lutheranism. The unpleasant reckless, ever in the van or on the forlorn quarrel which afterwards took place hope of reform ; daring what no one else between Eppendorf and Erasmus, in which would dare, enduring what few would Eppendorf tried to extort money from endure, provoking, defying hostility, wield- Erasmus on account of an imprudent and ing his terrible weapon of satire without ungenerous letter of Erasmus to the disadscruple or remorse, and ready, and indeed vantage of Eppendorf, gives but a mean notoriously engaged, in wielding other not opinion of this man. On the instant of his bloodless weapons. The last that was arrival, Hutten sent Eppendorf to Erasmus, heard of him had been in one of what we it might seem expecting to be received with fear must be called the robber bands of open arms, if not taken under his hospitable Franz Sickengen. Already Ulric Hutten roof. But Erasmus was by no means dishad taken upon himself the office of com- posed to commit himself with so unwelcome pelling Erasmus to take the Lutheran side. a guest, who was still suffering under a În a letter written (in 1520), under the loathsome malady; or to make his house guise of the warmest friendship, he had the centre, in which Hutten would gather treated him as an apostate from the com- round him all the most turbulent and desmon cause. In the affair of Reuchlin, perate of the Lutherans. He shrunk from Erasmus, in Hutten's judgment (a judg- the burthen of maintaining him. Hutten, ment which he cared not to conceal), acted if we are to believe Erasmus, was not timidly and basely. He bad at first bighly scrupulous in money matters, ready to burlauded the Epistola Obscurorum Virorum,' row, but unable to pay. Erasmus repelled afterwards treacherously condemned them. his advances with cold civility, but there is He had endeavoured to persuade the a doubt whether even his civil messages adversaries of Luther that the Reformation reached Hutten. There were negotiations, was a business in which he (Erasmus) had no doubt insincere on both sides. One no concern. In a second letter, Hutten could not bear the heat of a stove, the had endeavoured to work on the fears of other could not bear a chill room without Erasinus. He urged upon bis adorable one. In short, they did not meet. The friend' that he could not be safe, since indefatigable Hutten employed his time at Luther's books had been burned : will they Basil, sick and broken down as he was, in who have condemned Luther, spare you? his wonted way, in writing two fierce Fly, fly, and preserve yourself for ns ! Fly pamphlets; one against the Elector Palawhile you can, most excellent Erasmus, tine, une against a certain physician, who lest some calamity, which I shudder to probably had been guilty of not curing think of, overtake you. At Louvane, at him, to distract his mind, as Eppendorf Cologne, you are equally in peril.' He sug- said, from his sufferings. After two months
Hutten received cold but peremptory orders
from the magistrates to quit Basil. He Erasmus is said to have owed his life to this retired to Mulbausen, to brood over the publication. He laughed so violently while readfor the letters, as to break a dangerous imposthume. coolness and neglect of one from whom a He, bowever, not only disclaimed, but expressed man of calmer mind would hardly have strong disapprobation of the tone and temper of expected more than coolness and neglect. the book.
This letter, recently published in two theological journals in Germany, we know only as cited * Opera Hutteni, Munch. 4. 49. 53. by Dr. Strauss; it is addressed Des Erasmo Rot. + The account in Dr. Strauss's Life of Hutten' Tbeologo, amico summo.
is on the whole fair and candid.