Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

6 for having departed from the doctrine of St Augustin, concerning original sin, predestination, and grace.

Pelagius, a Briton, was the author of that heresy which bore his name, and began in the fifth century. He maintained, That man may be well inclined without the assist- . ance of the grace of GOD; and that grace is given in proportion to our merit: That man may arrive at such a state of perfection, as to be no longer subject to passions or sin. That there is no original sin ; and that children who die without baptism are not damned. Manichæus, or Manes, was the author of that sect, which was called after him in the fourth century ; the foundation of whose , doctrine was, that there are two principles of all things, the one good, and the other evil ; both of them eternal, sovereign, immortal, and independant. Those who are desirous of knowing the nature and propagation of these heresies, may consult Dupin's History of the Church, vol. 2. p. 111 to 118. for the Manichees; and cent. 5. chap. 2. for the Pelagians, from p. 176 to 181.'' As also Fuller's Church History, cent. 5. And in Bayle's Dictionary, vol. 4. p. 90. under the article Manichees; and in vol. 5. p. 815. where he explains, 'how what he has said concerning the

objections of the Manichees ought to be considered." I shail only make this farther observation, that the treatises which Pyghius wrote concerning free-will against Calvin, and about original sin, have been placed among the books prohibited by the Spanish inquisition. Pyghius was so provoked at a book which Bucer wrote against him, that it hastened his death, in drawing up an answer, which he left unfinished.

In 1544, Calvin declared his opinion about the power of the church of Neufchatel in ecclesiastical censures. The same year he displeased Sebastian Castalio, because he disapproved of the translation which Castalio had made of the New Testament into French and Latin. Castalio was skilled in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. · He published a Greek poem on the life of St John the baptist; and a Latin poem, which is a paraphrase on the prophet Jonas. He acquired the esteem and friendship of Calvin, during his abode at Strasburg, in 1540. Calvin procured for him the place of teacher in the college of Geneva, which Castalio exercised till he was compelled to leave the city, for having maintained some particular opinions. Castalio began his Latin translation at Geneva, in 1542, which he finished at Basil in 1550, and dedicated to Edward VI. king of England. The French translation was printed at

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Basil in 1555, and was dedicated to Henry II. His transJation of the scripture is variously spoken of; some blame it much, others speak very well of it. The fault which was most generally condemned in his Latin translation, is the affectation of using classic Latin only, which made him say Genius instead of Angelus, Lotio instead of Baptismus, and Respublica instead of Ecclesia. Vossius, and other learned persons, censured him for it with reason. He is accused of running into another extreme in his French translation, where he made use of low and mean terms. Bayle, indeed, wonders at the impudence of Garasse, and says, If another than Castalio had made that translation of the scripture, they would not have complained so much against his language : For he died of poverty, if we believe Scaliger; and his misfortune has given him no author to pity him but Montaig!, who is remarkable for the solidity of his reflection on this curious and melancholy fact, which is worthy to be consulted, and may be found in his elegant essays, book 1. chap. 34, p. 353. But we have it from a great authority, that many persons judged, that Castalio applied his impure hands to the translation of the scriptures with an insolent temerity. And Beza says, that the jargon of Poictou, the grossest of all the jargons of France, may appear less barbarous than the epistle of Castalio. We, are told, that Castalio aspired to the ministry, and had sometimes preached: But he was no minister at Geneva. He was so vexed, 'ihat he could not make Calvin approve of the impertinences of his French translations of the New Testament, that he begun to spread some errors; and to maintain, that the Song of Songs was an obscene piece, which ought to be left out of the canon of the scriptures. He inveighed against the ministers who opposed his intention ; for which he was cited before the senare, where he was heard on the first of June, when he was declared convicted of calumny, and was ordered to leave the town. Beza farther says, to the Genevese, that "Satan endeavoured to shake them and r their faith, by the means of Sebastian Castalio, a man of « pretended piety. The blow, though seemingly light, 6 was a dangerous one: However, your city was purged - from the latent poison in the year forty-five, by ex6 polling the man himself.' This recital seems overstrained, when compared with an attestation, that Calvin gave to Castalio; which imports, that he laid down his office voluntarily. Doctor Spon does not say that he was expelled the city; but only that he was deposed,


[ocr errors]

Castalio told Calvin as follows: In your testimonial, you testify, that the only reason of my leaving you was, my different notion of the Song of Songs ; and your interpretation of the article of faith, concerning the descent of Christ into hell. Your words are these : « We briefly « attest this, that such was our opinion of him, that, by « common consent, he was designed for the pastoral ofm « fice: And that no one may suspect there was any other 6 cause of Sebastian Castalio's leaving us, we certify this “ wherever he comes ; Hie voluntarily resigned his place “ of teacher in the school : He behaved himself so in it, “ that we judged him worthy of this sacred charge. Nor " was it any blemish in his life, or any impious tenet, “ but the reason above mentioned alone, which prevented * his admission.”

Castalio retired to Basil, where he obtained the professorship of the Greek tongue, and died there in 1563. This man was a great instance of learning and poverty: But if he had kept within the bounds of his profession, he would have done greater services than he did to the commonwealth of learning; and would have secured him, self from many vexations; instead of which, he set up for a mystic, and a devotee, and concerned himself with the nice and obscure questions of divinity.

A diet was held at Spires in 1544. Upon this occasion, Calvin published his book « Of the necessity of reforming “ the church ;" which was more solid and nervous than any other book, that had appeared on that subject among his cotemporaries. He answered the insolent letters which the pope wrote to the emperor, on his promising the Protestants to hold a general council; which the pope said was thrusting his sickle into another man's harvest. And he also wrote two books, wherein he confuted the Anabaptists and Libertines, who had revived the monstrous heresies of former ages. The libertines were a sect of heretics who sprung up in Holland in 1525, whose heads were Quintin and Copin. They maintained, that whatever was done by men, was done by the Spirit of GOD; and thence concluded there was no sin, but to those who thought it so. They also asserted, that to live without any doubt or scruple, was to return to the state of innocency. They allowed their followers to call themselves Catholics, or Protestants, according to the company they feli in. They pretended, that the soul died with the body; that heaven was a dream, hell a phantom, and re

ligion a mere trick of state ; with many other monstrous opinions.

The queen of Navarre was offended with Calvin's book against the Libertines, because he had censured Quintin and Pocques, whom she admitted into her house. They were two desperate Libertines, whose errors and blasphemies were confuted by Calvin. Quintin had embraced the reformed religion : But he fell off, and was made professor of the canon law at Paris in 1536. He afterwards demanded, that the protestants should be proceeded against with the utmost severity : But though that bloody spirit had so long prevailed, it was thought strange that a clergyman should take upon himself to solicit such a thing. His speech, upon delivering the memorial of the clergy, to the king, proved, that the most humble and devout orators of the clergy were for shedding blood, if it was necessary; since they reminded his majesty of the order and threatenings of Moses. Besides, Quintin said, that the king being armed with the sword, ought to oppose the heretics : That GOD had put the sword into his hands to protect the good, and punish the wicked: And that none can deny that a heretic is capitally wicked, and consequently ought to be punished capitally, and be subject to the sword of the magistrate.

Most of the grandees of France began, (says Beza,) ( at this time, to suit themselves to the humour of the • king; and, by degreos, grew such strangers to the study < of the scriptures, that at last they became worse than all 6 others. Nay, even the queen of Navarre began to < behave herself in a quite different manner, falling into • idolatry like the rest ; not that she approved such su• perstitions in her heart, but because Ruffi, and others

like him, persuaded her they were indifferent things.' But Beza also says, that the queen of Navarre was disa < pleased at Calvin's book against the Libertines, because • she was so incredibly fascinated with Quintin and Poc

ques, that, though she did not profess their opinions, ( yet she took them to be good men; and therefore, in ( some measure, thought herself wounded through their • sides.' Her charity induced her to protect them ; and is it not much to be wondered at, if she was provoked against Calvin, who with that cutting stile, peculiar to him, had severely handled the persons whom she had protected and maintained. She complained to him of it; which made an impression on him, as she was still acknowledged the protectress of the reformed. T'or a prin


cess, or any other woman, to do good to those whom she takes to be the household of faith, is no extraordinary thing, as it is the common effect of a moderate piety. But for a queen to grant her protection to people persecuted for opinions which she believes to be false ; to open a sanctuary to them, to furnish them with a subsistence, liberally to relieve the troubles and inconveniences of their exile, is an heroical magnanimity which has hardly any precedent.

Calvin, on the twentieth of April, 1545, wrote a respectful letter to this queen, to justify his conduct; wherein he says, “ immediately on the receipt of your letters, I “ dispatched this answer, that I might give you full satiss faction on this account, lest you should abate any thing “ of that zeal, of which hitherto you have made profession, “and expressed in reality.” Beza speaks favourably of this queen in his Icones : And Brantome says, she was suspected of Lutheranism, which was then the name in France of what has been since called Calvinism.

Calvin so far prevailed, that the Libertines were checked in France, and confined themselves to Holland.

The year 1545 was rendered infamous by that cruel and abominable edict which the parliament of Aquitain issued against the poor Waldenses, whereby the most unparalleled barbarities were exercised upon these unhappy people, without any distinction of age or sex, even to the very burning of their towns. The Waldenses, or Vaudois, were a sect established by Peter Vaud, or Valdo, a rich merchant of Lyons in France, in 1160, who found out several errors in the church of Rome, and began a reformation. The clergy excommunicated him, and persecuted some of his disciples, which occasioned them to quit Lyons, and fly into the vallies of Piedmont, which have been ever since inhabited by their descendants, who have adhered to their doctrine.

Calvin was greatly afflicted for the sufferings of the Waldenses, to whom he had wrote consolatory letters a short time before, and sent them faithful pastors for instructing them in the gospel precepts. He wrote to the reformed in France, to convince them they acted in a pernicious manner, who pretended it was no sin to be present at the popish services, if they kept the true religion in their hearts. He told them, it was an error condemned by the ancient fathers : Anch, because some of them might think him too rigid, he adjoined to his own the opinions


« PreviousContinue »