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[B^itfadrawn lioiix 

These Lectures have, in substance, been delivered on 
Sabbath evenings from a provincial pulpit by Lecturers 
who are ministers of the same branch of our Scottish 
Church, and graduates of the same University. It 
was deemed seasonable, as the five hundredth anni- 
versary of the death of Wyclif was approaching, thus^ 
to commemorate the service which he and his suc- 
cessors rendered to spiritual Christianity, and to the 
cause of civil and religious liberty. 

The selection made from among the Eeformers was 
determined by the desire to trace the general history 
of the Eeformation, from its distant beginnings in Wyclif 
and Hus, down to its accomplishment by Luther and 
its formulation by Calvin, taking account by the way of 
kindred upheavals as represented by Savonarola, and 
of the influence of the Kenaissance as represented by 
Erasmus ; and then to sketch the peculiar history of 


the Scottish Reformation from its earlier and later 
precursors, through its two most illustrious martyrs, 
to its consummation under John Knox. 

Each Lecturer, in dealing with the subject assigned 
to him, has been left free to select his standpoint and 
method of treatment, and is responsible only for his 
own lecture. 

St. James' Manse, 
Paisley, 8th December, 1884. 



y. WYCLIF, 1 

By JOSEPH CORBETT, D.D., Glasgow. 

//. HUS, 49 



By JOHN P. MITCHELL, M.A., Cupar-Fife. 


By JOHN MEIKLEJOHN, M.A., KirkmuirhiU. 

r. LUTHER, 191 

By MATTHEW MUIR DICKIE, B.D., Haddington. 


By JAMES ORR, B.D., Hawick. 




By JAMES KIDD, B.D., St. Andrews. 


By JAMES BROWN, D.D., Paisley. 

JKichdraWQ Irum Li 


John EStfidif. 

He Would be a bold man, thoiigli Iiardly a wise onp, 
wlio should undertake to say exactly when aud where 
lliat momentoua movement origmated which, in the 
"iKeenth century, startled the whole civilized world of 
Kurope, and shook to its very foundation the time- 
'lonoured ecclesiastical fabric of the Papacy. The 
Reformation was a series of events of so complex 
" character as to bid defiance to the most resolute 
•iiideavoura made to trace its history back to ita 
fountain-head. It was the resultant of well-nigh 
numberlesa forces, political and religious, many of 
woioJi had been in operation even for ages before their 
effects took shape in the revolution with which the 
"MDes of Luther and Melanchthon, Calvin and Zwingli 
•"B identified. In periods and localities far apart 
'ffia each other, the surface of society had been again 
'^^ again disturbed by phenomena that witnessed to 
lUidercurrents of thought which, flowing along various 
channels, were all converging to the one sure issue, 
Slid foretelling, with no uncertain voice, of a deter- 
"lined, victorious revolt from intellectual and spiritual 


despotism. It would betray, therefore, an utter lack 
of historic sense, a complete misunderstanding of the 
spirit and significance of the movement were we to 
claim for any country or for any man the honour of 
having really begun the work of which it was the 
completion, and, certainly, we have no wish to inter- 
pret in this absolute sense the title so often given 
to John Wyclif, as " The morning star of the Eeforma- 
tion." For even he had his predecessors both abroad 
and at home. 

To confine our view to our own country, his was 
not the first English voice to make itself heard in 
eloquent protest against the arrogant usurpations of 
Kome. As near as may be a century and a half 
before Wyclif s birth, the famous Robert Grosseteste 
had been bom at the little village of Stradbrook, and 
of his character and work Matthew Paris gives this 
summary : " He was a manifest confuter of the Pope 
and the King, the blamer of prelates, the cor- 
rector of monks, the director of priests, the instructor 
of clerks, the support of scholars, the preacher to the 
people, the persecutor of the incontinent, the sedulous 
student of all Scripture, the hammer and the despiser 
of the Komans." ^ In Wyclif s eyes it was one of the 
many crimes of the Papacy that it had no honours of 
saintship to bestow on a man whose fervent zeal for 
the purity of the Church compelled him to denounce 
the sins that were eating away its strength and poi- 
soning its influence, and were still, in his own day, 
as virulent as before. Not fifty years had elapsed 
after Grosseteste's death before another English hamlet 
had given to the world the boy who subsequently be- 

^ Qnoted in H. Money's English Writers, book i. chapter 22. 


came the " invincible doctor," the " dear Muster Ockliam" 
of Martin Luther, a paragon of philosophical acumen, 
and, at the same time, a doughty champion of national 
independence as opposed to the political supremacy of 
the Pope. To him, 83 to Wyclif after him, the doc- 
trine of the Papal infallibility was a delusion only to be 
latched at by reasonable men, nor was it beyond the 
bounds of possibility that the Roman Pontiff might be 
the veriest heretic under the sun, as he shrewdly sus- 
pected was actually the case in the persou of his 
particular enemy, John XXII. Mucli about the same 
time, at Hartfield in Sussex, Thomas Bradwardin was 
bom, destined to be known as the " doctor profundus," 
who was himself what he describes the great Augustin 
as having been, a " splentUd and strenuous champion 
of grace," and affirmed the all-sufficiency of that divine 
principle with an uncompromising effectiveness and 
eloquence on a par with those of Luther himself. In 
these and others like tiiem the very spirit moved that 
asserted itself with more commanding power still in 
the greater Englishman whom his continental followers 
did not scruple to designate the lifth evangelist, and 
who is the subject of the present lecture. 

Bom, not later than 1 S24, in quiet Teesdale, Wyclif 
spent his childhood and early youth amid scenes whose 
natural loveliness is enhanced to the modem visitor 
because of the glamour cast over them by the wizard 
hand of Sir Walter Scott, who, in hia romance of 
Kokeby, celebrates the very hills and streams frequented 
by our young Reformer. The family he belonged to 
owed their name to the peculiar features of the locality 
in the heart of which the ancestral mansion stands 
overlooking the river, and there may still be seen the 


little, simple church, within whose walls, with boyish 
faith yet undisturbed, Wyclif was wont to kneel. 
Little is told us, practically nothing indeed, of the 
home in which he was reared. We search in vain 
through his writings for such reminiscences of early 
days as abound in Luther's works, nor do the family 
records throw any light upon the domestic influences 
by which the man was " fashioned in his youth." No 
echoes can we catch of the sounds either of merriment 
or trouble that issued from his childish lips, nor any 
signs of the inevitable pains that accompanied his first 
attempts to pluck the fruit of the tree of knowledge. 
Whether he gave early indications of the sceptical 
spirit that, in later years, drove him so far away from 
the traditional Christianity of his family, or showed 
himself a loyal and unquestioning son of the Church 
till he went forth to breathe the perilous air of Oxford, 
we have no means of deciding. This only appears to 
be tolerably certain, that he came of a stock marked 
by a jealous conservatism of the staunchest and most 
orthodox type. The fact is a noticeable one that 
Eomanism has always held its own in that secluded 
Yorkshire parish, and that no other member of the 
Wyclif family seems to have regarded with aught but 
utter repugnance the revolutionary tenets of their 
greatest representative. There is, indeed, one passage 
in his writings which reads like a page out of his own 
experience, and may imply that his assaults upon the 
established order of things had alienated from him the 
affection and good-will of those nearest to him. It 
occurs in a wise and pithy tract entitled "Of wedded 
men and wives, and of their children also," ^ and reads 

1 Select English Works of Wyclif (Edit. Aruold.) vol. 3, p. 188. 


thus— weddeil men and women often say " that if their 
child draw hira to meekness and poverty, and flee 
covetousness and pride, for dread of sin and for to 
please God, he shall never he man, and never coat them 
penny, and curse him, if Le live well and teach other 
men God's law, to save men's souls. For by this do- 
ing, the child getteth many enemies to his elders, and 
tliey say that he slandereth all their noble kin tl at 
ever were held true men and worshipful." Even this 
unitxue reference to his own circumstances, if such it is, 
is loo meagre to permit any biographer, however 
cunning, to weave out of it a narrative of the early 
joys and sorrows of young Wyclif, and we must be con- 
tent to leave his boyhood in the obscurity that has 
hitherto enveloped it. 

Some compensation for this misfortune is to be 
found in the fact that it is not impossible to form a 
fairly satisfactory idea of the social conditions that pre- 
vailed in the country whilst Wyclif was advancing 
towards manhood. The England to which he belonged 
was that which still lives and moves before us in 
Cbaucer's bright, unfading page. In the ordinary 
society of the day were to be found in abundance re- 
presentatives of all the characters delineated with such 
infinite grace and skiU hy the father of English poetry. 
The travelled knight who, meek as he is brave, has 
fought on every field of battle where a strong arm and 
a etout heart can be of service ; the gentle squire who 
has not yet lost youth's predilection for a dainty coat ; 
the nut-headed, short-haired yeoman, who is skilled in 
the use of the weapon that wrought such havoc at 
Creasy and Poitiers ; the solid merchant whose well-to- 
do comfort shines out in liis costly raiment and his 


solemn speech ; the weather-beaten sailor, better able 
to handle a ship than to ride a horse ; the sage doctor, 
learned in astronomy and fond of gold ; and the ready 
lawyer, full, like Shakespeare's Justice, of " wise saws 
and modem instances," all figure on Chaucer's stage, 
only because they were every day playing their part 
on the English soil trodden by John Wyclif s feet. How 
women dressed and gossiped in their pithy mother- 
tongue or the French of Stratford-le-Bowe ; how goat- 
voiced pardoners exhibited their relics to gaping, 
superstitious crowds ; how threadbare students spent 
their little all on the purchase of their meagre store of 
books ; how jolly friars lisped and sang and harped 
the money out of people's pockets, may all be seen on 
the rich canvas painted for us by the author of the 
Canterbury Tales. The subtle spirit of that wonder- 
ful poem, too, reveals better far than any prosaic 
history the temper of the time. There is a strange 
lack of earnestness and true sobriety. As has been 
well remarked, it is the life rather of children than of 
men and women that we are spectators of. The 
gaiety that loves bright surfaces, however thin, and 
hates a preacher with all its small apology for a soul, 
is the common characteristic of the actors in the pano- 
ramic drama. In almost equally distinct relief the 
extravagance stands out which contemporary annals 
delitieate with hardly less force of language, and which 
was not to be repressed even by the sumptuary laws 
that forbade a third course at dinner or the use of 
furs for trimming. It is, indeed, not too much to say 
that there was prevalent a " desire to make life one 
long holiday, dividing it between tournaments and the 
dalliance of courts of love, or between archery meetings 

(skilfullj' substituted by royal command for less useful 
exercises) and the seductive company of " tumblers," 
" fruiterers," and " waferers."^ 

To take a somewliat deeper and broader view than 
is furnished by the poet, Wyclifs lot was cast in times 
of singular interest and importance, But a few years 
afler his birth, Edward III., a prince of fourteen, was 
proclaimed king, and began a reign iu the course of 
which good and evil, honour and shame, were almost 
equally distributed. While "VVyclif was yet a boy there 
broke out the disastrous coutlict with Prance which 
" dragged its slow length along " for a weary hundred 
years. Vast changes were passing over the social con- 
ditions of the people. Serfdom was giving token of 
very speedily becoming a thing only of the past. The 
question of the poor, which ever since has so severely 
taxed the wisdom alike of statesmanship and phOan- 
thropy, was beginning to force itself imperiously upon 
the thoughts of men. The stern conflict between 
capital and labour, which rages so fiercely still, was 
entering upon its earliest stages and provoking attempts 
at pacification that, like many later ones, were pregnant 
alike with good intentions and evil consequences, 
Vagabondage and mendicancy were assuming dimensions 
ominous of disaster. The rapid dissolution of those 
restraints on freedom of movement that were insepar- 
able from feudalism, was being followed, on the part 
especially of the poorer classes, by a restlessness quite 
new in English history. The tongue of the common 
people was at last triumphantly asserting itself against 
the foreign language that had hitherto been regarded as 
the only honoui-able medium of intercourse, and the 
' Ward's Chaucer, in English Men of Letters, p. 42. 


real birthday both of English poetry and English prose 
is to be found in this epoch, in the chronicles of which 
the names of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Wyclif stand 
side by side. So far, indeed, as regards the strong, 
solid framework of the national life, the England of this 
fourteenth century was essentially modem rather than 
mediaeval, despite unglazed windows and unchimneyed 
houses, narrow and filthy streets, rough and perilous 
roads, rush-strewn floors and morning-dinners, and 
despite the lack of forks and the plethora of 

This last feature was singularly characteristic of 
Wyclif 's age as compared with our own. Ecclesiastics 
were ubiquitous. There was, on the average, one priest 
for every eighty of the population. Monks and friars, 
, abbots and bishops swarmed like bees. They crowded 
about the steps of the throne and clutched greedily at 
offices of state, and they crept into the hovels of the 
poor, and cajoled or threatened them out of their scanty 
earnings. They were of every type and character. 
There were black friars and grey ; th^re were sum- 
moners, liniitors and pardoners ; there were priests that 
played the mountebank, and priests that played the 
tyrant ; there were priests that feigned a poverty to 
which they were utter strangers, and priests that made 
no attempt to hide their predilection for horses and 
hounds, for furs and jewellery, for good fellowship and 
dainty fare. Others, certainly, there were of nobler 
mould, and the poet has not neglected to adorn his 
canvas with the figure of the poor parson of the town, 
who was " rich of holy thought and work," who failed 

" Not for either rain or thunder 
In sickness nor mischance to visit all — 


The furtheHt in hJa pariah, great and anuill, 
TTpon his feet, and in his hand a staff. 

He put not out hia benefice on hire, 

Aud left liis sheep encumbered in the mire, 

And rati to London unto Saints Paul's, 

To seek himself a chantery for souls. 

Or maiuteiiance with a. brotherhood to hold, 

Dut dwelt at liome, aud keptS irell his fold ; " 

ffliile, to all his other virtues, be added this, that he 
would " sharply snub at once " any " obstinate " person 
eitlier of " high or low estate." This, however, was all 
too Barely a comparatively rare type of ecclesiastic, and 
't is not improbable that the exc[uisite figure would 
Wt have been found at all in Oiiaucer's gallery had 
"jclif not been among his contemporaries. 

With many of these features of the period our young 
Yorkshire scholar may have been little familiar whilst 
lie still lingered in remote, secluded Teeadale, but hia 
J^^moval to Oxford, when he was, in all likelihood, about 
fiftean or sixteen years of age, would vastly enlarge hia 
iorizon, and would necessarily bring him face to face 
''ith characters and movements full of interest aud 
novelty to Jiis quick, observant intellect. An almost 
WWildering change it would be from the quiet country 
"ome to the thronged, restless university town, with its 
SIX or seven thousand students, for many of whom there 
i^ss but scanty, uncleanly accommodation. Of the five 
ftilleges that then existed, one had a special interest Ibr 
%dif, as it had been founded in 1269 by the widow 
of Sir John de Balhol of Barnard Castle, a lordly man- 
sion only five miles distant fram our student's native 
parish ; and there can be little doubt that it was to this 
college he attached himself on his arrival at Oxford. 


It was a troubled and tumultuous world into which 
he now entered, not by any means distinguished by the 
calm, dignified repose popularly associated with the idea 
of intellectual and philosophical pursuits. The air of 
Oxford was full of the spirit of strife. There was 
rivalry and contention, sometimes fierce and deadly, 
between the Australes and the Boreales, the southerns 
and the northerns, as the two nations were called into 
which the students were divided. There was war 
still, even after long ages of battle, between the Realists 
and the Nominalists, whose contests, marked by a 
vehemence strangely disproportioned to the intrinsic 
insignificance of the questions discussed, recall the 
poet's question, " Dwells such dire wrath in minds 
divine ? " And there were conflicts between gown and 
town, to use modern phraseology, where the combatants 
were counted by , thousands, and in one of which, 
occurring in Wyclif s own time, no fewer than forty 
students were killed. Notwithstanding these elements 
of unrest Oxford was, " during the fourteenth century, 
by far the greatest theological and philosophical uni- 
versity in Europe,"^ and the young Yorkshire student 
was destined to add not a little to the lustre already 
belonging to her famous schools. 

For the first four years of his curriculum he would 
attend lectures on logic, rhetoric, grammar and arith- 
metic, and would then attain his Bachelor's degree, 
provided he passed with Mat through a nine days* 
ordeal, in the course of which he was expected to settle 
all manner of subtle dialectical conundrums flung at 
him in a mvd voce examination. Three years more, 
spent in mastering geometry, astronomy, and philosophy^ 

' Creasy's History of England, vol. ii. chap 5. 


would prepare him for the higher clegi'ee that secured 
the right of lecturing, of which at a later date, at 
all events, Wyclif largely availed hunself.'- It is im- 
possible, unfortunately, to follow his career with any 
minuteneas throughout tlie greater portion of his student 
life, and he must have beea at the university for some 
sixteen years or more before the occunence of a cliange 
in his position which witnesses to the reputation lie had 
then achieved. 

In the interval, Iiowever, occurred one terrible inci- 
dent which must have left its impress upon a man of 
Wyclifa temperament as it certainly did upon the 
Mstory of the nation as a whole ; I refer to the first of 
tile four epidemica of the black death that occurred 
dming hifl lifetime. For fourteen years inimours had 
reached England of a fell plague that was raging in 
Central Asia, and in 1347 it made its appearance at 
Constantinople. Before a few months had gone it 
buiat upon Avignon, and carried ofi' no fewer tiian 
S0,0OO, for whom burial could be secured only in the 
Khone, which was duly consecmted for that purpose by 
lie Pope. In August, 1348, it swooped down on 
Iteraetahire, and thence spread over the length and 
lireadth of the land, working appalling desolation and 
ilin wherever it came, and utterly disorganizing the 
Hole fabric of society. In Norwich, where seven out 
of every ten were canied off, no fewer tlian " 15,374 
*lied besides religious and beggars, and twenty cliurches 
fell into ruins " ; and in Bristol " grass grew several 
iflches high on the High Street and Broad Street." - 
'Canon Pennington'a Jolui Wyclif, chap. 2 
'LonBnittti's Life arid Times of Edward III., voi. i. p. 30fi. 
Hecfeei^ EpidemioB of the Middle Ages. Seebohm, FortnigMy 
Smew, vol. i. 


In the West Eiding of Yorkshire two-thirds of the 
priests fell victims to its power. In London, after all 
the existing burial places had been filled, 50,000 
corpses were laid in a graveyard specially provided by 
Sir Walter Manny, and at least half the population of 
the country was swept away in the course of a few 
months. The rural districts were as fiercely scourged 
as the towns, and there were whole villages in which 
no sound of life was to be heard either from man or 
beast. This, too, was but a specimen of what was 
taking place over the entire continent of Europe, where 
it is calculated that the enormous number of twenty- 
five millions were destroyed. It is impossible that 
Wyclif learnt nothing from a calamity so overwhelming. 
His was not the ear to be deaf to, nor was his the heart 
to be proof against the lessons that were being imparted 
in this visitation by a higher teacher than any whose 
scholastic disquisitions were to be heard in Oxford's 
lecture-halls. We can hardly be wrong in thinking 
that to this agony of distress something was due of the 
passionate earnestness of the man, and of the vivid 
sense he had of the supreme importance of spiritual 

The first distinct discoverable token of the high place 
Wyclif occupied in the esteem of the university is the 
occurrence of his name in 1356 as one of the Fellows 
of Merton College, to which both Ockham and Brad- 
wardin had belonged. The significance of this fact is 
all the greater that Merton and Balliol were, in some 
respects, antagonistic, and the election of Wyclif to this 
office cannot well be explained except on the ground of 
his acknowledged preeminence. Four years afterwards 
he appears as the Master of Balliol, a position he held 



only for a short time, and tlie last liunour of this kiiid 
bestowed upon him waa the Wardetiship of the new 
(Janterbury Halt with which lie was invested at the 
close of 1365. From this he was dismissed by Arch- 
liiahop Langham on grounds it is unnecessary to specify, 
but which were of such a nature that Wyclif appealed 
to the Pope, though without eflect.' These dignities 
bestowed upon him witness to the fact that liis learning 
anil power were such as to make him one of the very 
foremost men of the university, if, indeed, there were 
*tty at all to be put in the same rank. " He made hia 
fiffifU; aim," says an opponent who lived in liia own 
day, "with learned subtlety, and by the profundity of 
bia genius, to surpass the genius of other men," and he 
13 constrained to allow that " as a theologian "Wyclif 
was the most eminent iu the day, as a philosopher second 
ton One, and aa a schoolman incomparable."^ A similar 
jinlgnient is passed upon him by Professor Shirley, who 
'Aligns to Wyclif a place with Duns Scotus, Ockham, 
flHd Bmdwardin aa the " four great schoolmen of the 
fourteenth century." ^ 

It has, indeed, become the fashion to laugh at the 
"jptesentatives of scholasticism as though they were 
little better than earnest quibblera who spent their 
Wwngth in splitting hairs and spinning cobwebs, " They 
Mnatrticted monstrous books," writes one brilliant critic, 
"iu great numbers, cathedrals of syllogism of unheai'd-of 

' The doubts raiaed by the late Pnifessor Sliirley aa to the 
identity of the Fellow of Merton and the Warden of Canterbury 
*ith the Reformer appear to be dispelled by later researches ; 
•W^ Pennington's John Wiclif, Warburton's Edwanl IlL, and 
•a able article in the Church Quartedi/, October, 1877. 

•Vanghan's John de Wycliffe, cli. 7. 

'Faaciculi Zizanioruni, Introduction, p. SI. 


architecture, of prodigious finish, heightened in effect 
by intensity of intellectual power, which the whole sum 
of human labour has only twice been able to match. 
These young and valiant minds thought they had found 
the temple of truth, they rushed at it headlong, in 
legions, breaking in the doors, clambering over the 
walls, leaping into the interior, and so found themselves 
at the bottom of a moat. Three centuries of labour at 
the bottom of this moat added not one idea to the 
human mind. Each one in turn mechanically traversed 
the petty region of threadbare cavils, scratched himself 
in the briars of quibbles, and burdened himself with 
his bundles of texts, nothing more."^ A higher and 
truer estimate of the schoolmen than M. Taine's will be 
formed by all who are not oblivious of the simple fact 
that the philosophy of which they are the exponents 
was " the philosophy which created the universities of 
Europe,"^ an achievement which a whole army of 
sparkling critics could neither appreciate nor accomplish, 
though their glib pens should run on till doomsday. 
There is doubtless much in the aims and methods of 
scholasticism that strikes the modem student with utter 
amazement, so plainly does it carry in itself the doom 
of barrenness and failure. Numberless questions are 
discussed the very mention of which provokes a smile 
and brands them as mere ingenious but absolutely im- 
practical speculations. But there is at the same time 
a most impressive grandeur about the earnestness and 
hungry zeal with which the mighty intellects of the 
schoolmen press forward to the furthest verge of the 

1 Taine's English Literature, translated by Von Laim, book i, 
ch. 3. 

2 Shirley's Scholasticism, p. 9. 



on^ world of thought they felt at liberty to exploru, 
and there are names aasociateil with this stage of philo- 
sophy which will bear an untarnialied gloiy so long as 
tie wodd sets any valne on suhlety, acuteness, ajid 
accuracy of thought. Nor can we fail to see that, even 
whilst indulging in the^e wild, fanciful speculations, 
the intellect was but passing laboriously across the 
wiMemess in unconscious search of a rich land of pro- 
nii», and was there undergoing the very discipline 
necessary to fit it for the conquest and enjoyment of a 
Woitliier heritage. Many of the qualities developed in 
the arid soil and in the dry air of scholasticism were to 
aland humanity in good stead when once a breach had 
heen made in the stone boundary-waUs beyond wliich 
it Ws, for centuries, counted heresy to peep. 

Itianot, therefore, to be regretted that Wyclif passed 
witi saeh signal success through tills scholastic dis- 
cipline, and it may well bo doubted whether he would 
ever have been so resolute and so incisive a reformer 
W he not first achieved fame as a prince among the 
schoolmen. Wlien he had taken hia degree of Doctor 
of Theology, he was at liberty to expound not merely 
the "Sacred Page," as the Bible was called in aca- 
demical circles, but also the great university text- 
book of the age, " The Sentences of Peter the Lombard," 
a "series of extracts from the Latin Fathers and the 
Popes, so tesselated together as to construct a system 
of theology out of the most unsystematic of all possible 
materials."' In all probability, however, Wyclif did not 
take this degree tUl after his removal from the Warden- 
ship of Canterbuiy Hall, and after the occurrence of a 
criaia in his career which brought him to the very front 
Shirley's Scholasticism, p. 21. 


of the national life and committed him virtually to the 
path he pursued throughout his subsequent history. 

This happened in 1366, when Pope Urban V. de- 
manded from Edward payment of arrears of an annual 
tribute of 1000 marks which, promised by King John, 
had not been transmitted to the papal treasury for the 
last thirty years. There were many circumstances that 
made this demand peculiarly offensive and exasperat- 
ing. Very shortly before, statutes had been framed 
and enacted asserting most emphatically the independ- 
ence of the empire, and imposing severe penalties upon 
all who should aflBrm the supremacy of the Pope in any 
such way as infringed the rights of the people or the 
King. Urban's insolent demand, therefore, was 
ominously like an intentional defiance, and a formal 
declaration that all such enactments would be treated 
by him as null and void. The claim, too, came not 
from Eome but from Avignon, where the head of the 
Church was bearing his share of what was termed the 
" second Babylonian captivity." He was himself a 
Frenchman and a slave of the French monarch, and it 
was quite reasonably suspected that the money was 
needed, not to meet the wants of the Church, but to 
swell the resources of the nation's rival and enable him 
to carry on the war with this country. If ever Eng- 
land might have been expected to play a part so 
suicidal as that the Pope enjoined upon her, it was not 
like an infallible Pontiff to ask her to do so when just 
at the zenith of her power, and when she had won 
victory after victory in the open field. 

It might have been conjectured beforehand how 
Parliament would deal with the foolish and impertinent 
demand when the matter was referred to them by 

Edward, With one voice, Lords spiritual aiid temporal, 
aa well 83 the members of the lower chamber, indig- 
nantly denied the obligation, and witlj no " bated breath 
nr wbispered humbleaess " let it be known after what 
fashion they would shape their reply, were any attempt 
made to enforce the claim. Challenged by an anony- 
mous monk to vindicate the attitude of the King and 
Parliament, Wyclif, not without manifest delight in the 
work, published a most vigorous statement, professedly 
teiirodueing the arguments used by certain of the 
Lords. " Let the I'ope get the money if he can ; 
England iB not afraid," says one. " Christ was no 
civil governor," affirms another, " neither should the 
Pope lie ii' lie is Christ's follower." " Wages are for 
wotk," ai^ues a third, "but popes and cardinals do 
18 no good either in body or soul, therefore, give them 
BO pay, say L" " If King John undertook to pay in 
ail^r and gold for spiritual blessings," another insists, 
"tlie King was a fool and the Pope a simoniat." " If, 
M is maintained, the Pope gave the King this country 
of England, then," a fifth declares, " the Pope either 
gave what was not liis ami so could not have been 
given, or he gave what was his only for the Church, 
iuid so should not have been given." Thus with strong, 
sturdy strokes, the reply is shaped into a form there 
could he no mistake about, and wluch pretty well 
settled the matter for all time to come. Speaking in 
hia own name, Wyclif emphatically repudiates the 
opinion that the State has no right to touch or meddle 
with ecclesiastical persons and possessions, though, 
trhtlst broaching this most pernicious heresy, he claims 
to be " a lowly and obedient son of the Eoman Church," 
and to " assert nothing that may appear unjust towards 



the said Church, or that may reasonably offend pious 

The next important step in Wyclif s career was the 
publication in 1367 or 1368 of his treatise on "Divine 
Dominion," the preface to which is regarded by Pro- 
fessor Shirley as " the true epoch of the beginning of 
the English Eeformation."^ The fundamental principle 
of the work is that all dominion belongs to God alone, 
and that others — ^popes, priests, emperors, kings, and 
individual men — hold whatever authority they possess 
only and directly from Him on condition of loyal ser- 
vice and obedience, and that to Him each is immediately 
responsible. Into any examination of this striking 
theory it is impossible to enter here, but it is evident 
that this one simple principle struck at the very root 
of sacerdotal supremacy, and must have provoked the 
ire of the ecclesiastical world, apart altogether from 
Wyclif *s assertion of the startling paradox, at which 
his adversaries clutched with jubilant avidity, that 
" God must obey the devil." 

Another opportunity for the affirmation of his bold 
radicalism with regard to the relative power of Church 
and State arose out of the national disgrace and hu- 
miliation which followed so swiftly upon the noon-day 
of England's glory. After a period of almost uninter- 
rupted successes, there came a time when disaster after 
disaster robbed the kingdom of all the fruits of her 
toil, bravery, and sacrifice. " It was a time of shame 
and suffering such as England had never known. Her 
conquests were lost, her shores insulted, her fleets anni- 
hilated, her commerce swept from the sea ; while within 
she was exhausted by the long and costly war, as well 

^ Fasc. Ziz., Introd. p. 40. 

M ij tha ravages of the pestilence."^ The interests of 
tile country demandeil that most strenuous efforts 
should be made to utilize all lior resources for the 
mamtmauce of her integrity. The comTuunity in 
general were already overburdened, but there was cue 
orgonizatiyn that still rolled in riches and whose mem- 
bers managed to keep themselves well out of the straits 
ill which aU besides were pressed ; that organization 
WM tlie Church. Hitherto its representatives had been 
allowed to tax themselves, and, being human, and es- 
pecially ecclesiastically human, they had not made too 
Bevere demands upon their excheq^uer. Now, however, 
1u hour was come for them to bear a heavier yoke, 
and no sooner was it proposed that taxes should be 
levied upon Hvings hitherto exempt, auJ that the 
Church should bleed a little for the nation's good, than 
Uie dergy were up in arms. The thought of such 
BMrilege stung their noble souls to tlie quick, and the 
Afflhbishop of Canterbury fainted, either from pious 
horror or pliysical exhaustion, whilst denounciug the 
enormity from the pulpit of St. Paul's Cathedral. A 
uoWer voice than the Archbishop's chainpionei.1 the 
cause of the patriot as against the ecclesiastic, and in 
hia work on Civil Dominion, pubUshed probably in 
1371, WycUf quotes, with marked approval, a fable 
Mcribed to a certain peer who ai-gued that the tempo- 
nlities should be taken from the clergy, as being the 
property of the realm, and so the kingdom should be 
wisely defended with its own possessions. 

The appearance of a Papal emissary called Gamier 
kupt the fire burning in WycMfa soul. He came, of 
oouise, to gather funds, travelled in great style, with 
Gtms'b Short Hiatory at the English People, chap. 5, aec 3. 


a large retinue, netted . a considerable amount of ill- 
spared gold, and, after two years and a half of pleasant 
harvesting, withdrew to Eome resolved in a few 
months to return for fresh spoil. This new illustration 
of Papal greed called forth from Wyclif a. tractate in 
which he demonstrates the falsehood of this rapacious 
foreigner, who had secured permission to prosecute his 
work in England only by taking an oath of which his 
whole procedure was a violation. For he had sworn 
to do nothing hurtful to the interests of the kingdom 
when his very mission was to rob it of resources most 
urgently required for its own necessities. Such pro- 
cedure should be withstood, Wyclif insists, by every true 
patriot, even though sanctioned by the Head of the 
Church himself, for even our Lord Pope, he dares to 
say, is " sufficiently peccable." Evidently he is mov- 
ing fast, and not without the sympathy and approval 
of some at least who are high in power. Of this proof 
is given in the appointment of Wyclif to act on a 
Commission sent to Bruges in 1374, to confer with 
representatives of the Pope about questions of procedure 
and jurisdiction. The meeting was productive of little 
good, and a curious illustration of the subtle power of 
the Church is furnished in the anomaly that a reward 
for his services was given to the chief of the English 
commissioners, the Bishop of Bangor, not by the King, 
but by the Pope. 

This visit to Bruges, however, was not without 
result, as it would appear to have brought our Eeformer 
into close relationship with the famous John of Gaunt, 
who was in the city at the same time on a political 
mission. " Time-honoured Lancaster " had no love for 
the grasping, ambitious ecclesiastics that kept so firm a 



hoLl upoa the liighest offices of State, and was as eagerly 
deairoos to humble the Church as Wyclif waa to exalt 
it Strangely enough, though apparently antagonistic, 
these aims were, so the two men thoi^'ht, to be fulfilled 
liy pursuing one single path. Hence, whilst no actors 
in the eventful history could be more unlike in spirit, 
they were dniwn together, and were, to some extent, 
sympathetic. The alliance was not of much real bene- 
fit to Wyclif. John of Gaunt had, by his anti-ecclesi- 
istical policy, incurred the bitter enmity of Courtenay, 
the Bishop of London, who had his revenge in an 
aoousittion of heresy he brought against Wyclif, 
Ifincaster's friend and ally. The patience of the clergy 
Ws by this time fairly exhausted, and their desire to 
otonoe the Reformer's voice was intensified by the action 
^"The Gcod Parliament," which made it patent to all 
Mat the leaven of liis principles waa working effectively 
W the popular mind, Wyclif, therefore, was summoned 
towiswerforhimselfbefore the Archbishop, and appeared 
Mcompanied on one side by John of Gaunt, and on the 
other by Lord Percy, the Earl Marshal. An unseemly 
squabble between Lancaster and Courtenay opened the 
pioceedings, which terminated in something Hke a riot, 
Wydif standing calmly by and needing not even to 
nnoloae his lips. 

Bat higher dignitaries than Courtenay were now 
aftrmed, and, three months after this memorable fiasco, 
lie Pope himsell' issued no fewer than five separate 
bulls, in wliich the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 
Bishop of London, the University of Oxford, and even 
the King himself were all enjoined to take immediate 
steps to muzzle the heretic of Lutterworth. After some 
Allay, occasioned by the death of Edward and the 


accession of liichard II., "Wjclif received another siuo- 
moDS, and appeared before another tribunal in the early 
spring of 1378. He had laid npon him the formidable 
duty of vindicating or repudiating nineteen different 
errors which he was alleged to have propounded in his 
writings; but, though ho handed in to his judges a 
written defence of hia teaching, this fresh attempt to 
arrest hia influence ended in a manner as pointless as 
the preceding one. The King's mother forbade the 
prosecution of the case, and the people of London 
assumed a threatening attitude, whereupon, in Wal- 
eingham's angry and scornful language, the champions 
of orthodoxy were " like reeds shaken with the wind, and 
their words were softer than oil." They retained only 
courage enough to give the vexatious Eefoiiuer a cautioQ, 
to which he paid practically no attention. 

Almost immediately after this, Pope Gregory XL 
died, and then occurred the great schism in the Church, 
and the ediiying spectacle was presented to the world 
of two rival Pontifl's, each claiming to he the vicegerent 
of Christ, the one at Home thundering forth anathemaa 
against his brother at Avignon, and the other at 
Avignon proving himself quite as good at hating and 
cursing as his brother at Rome, At first Wyclif was 
in hopes that Urban VL, the Italian Pope, would in- 
trodiice beneficial changes and prove himself in sympathy 
with the spirit of the gospeL But he was doomed^to 
disappointment, and as, from hia peaceful home at 
Lutterworth, he watched the progress of the wretched 
quarrel he came to the common-sense conclusion that 
the Church would not lose much even if it lost both 
its heads, 

A few months more, and our Reformer, less and less 


able to rest content with a system so utterly disorgan- 
iidi found himaelf compelled to take a great step foi^ 
ward, and to surrender the doctrine of transubstantiation, 
which is of the very essence of the Papacy. To his 
repudiation of this dogma he gave formal expression in 
a oeries of twelve theses, which he undertook to i3efen<l 
against all comers. This bold utterance set even Ox- 
ford on fire, reluctant as its authorities liad been to take 
actjon against their ablest and most influential gi'aduate. 
The Chancellor of the university called together instantly 
Bjadicial committee, largely composed of monks, who 
branded WycHf's statements as erroneous and heretical. 
On the basis of this decision, an ordinance was published 
prohibiting all students from liatening to such revolu- 
tionary teaeliing, and forbidding Wyclif from any 
farther academical promulgation of his opinions. This 
inj'imction, which practically terminated his connection 
with the university, was brought to the Eefonner whilst 
lecturing to his students on the very doctrine in dispute, 
and evoked from him the immediate declaration that 
neither the Chancellor nor any similar authority could 
make him alter his opinion. 

There were other methods of promulgating the truth 
than that from which he was thus debarred, and whilst 
for scholars he published a treatise on the sacrament of 
the altar, written in his not too clasBical I-atin, he sent 
fo|tii for the people generally his famous tract entitled 
" The Wicket," of which the English is full as usual 
of nervous force. His adversaries, however, were not 
done with him, and hie old antagonist Courtenay, now 
Archbishop of Canterbury, summoned a large council 
consisting of ten bishops, sixteen doctors of law, thirty 
doctoraof divinity, thirteen bachelors of theologj', and four 


bachelors of law, reliable men all of them, and of un- 
impeachable orthodoxy, who would not find it hard to 
agree upon a verdict. They assembled in the Domini- 
can Chapter House at Blackfriars, but hardly had they 
begun their deliberations when an earthquake startled 
them, and made them dubious as to the wisdom of their 
action. Courtenay was not, however, to be thus bafifled, 
and interpreted the omen as a sign of Heaven's approval, 
and an indication that, following the trembling earth's 
example, the Church must purge herself of the evil 
humours that were distressing her. After this ingenious 
piece of exegesis, things moved on comfortably, and a 
most satisfactory issue was reached. A long catalogue 
of damnable errors and heresies was drawn up, some 
twenty-four in all, and these were duly condemned. 
A mandate was sent to Oxford ordering that steps 
should be taken to prevent the dissemination of these 
obnoxious tenets. An imposing penitential procession 
of barefooted priests and others paraded the streets of 
London, and a Carmelite monk wound up the demon- 
stration with a sermon denouncing the heresies of 
Wyclif, and threatening with severe ecclesiastical penal- 
ties all who might teach them or adopt them. The 
authorities at Oxford resented the interference with 
their right of self-government, but, after a little 
restiveness, they found themselves under the necessity 
of virtually pronouncing sentence of exile upon their 
famous "Doctor Evangelicus." 

So only Lutterworth remains to him as the sphere 
of his labours, and thither he finally withdrew, but two 
or three years before his death, with health already 
shattered by incessant toil. Eetirement, however, was 
not rest. Message after message he sent out into the 



world, wliilst diligently fultilling his fluty to the 
parialiioaers he loved most truly. What hLs idea of 
a clergyman's life was we may gather i'rnm a jmssage 
in " A Short Eule of Life," oiie of his English writings, 
" It thou be a priest," he says, " live thou holily, 
passing others in holy prayer and holy desire and 
flunking, in holy speaking, counselling, and true 
tfflclung, and ever that God's commands and His . 
gMpel be in thy mouth, and ever despise sin, to draw 
fflsn therefrom. And that thy deeds be so rightful 
tkt ao man shall hlame them with reason, but thine 
open deeds be a true book to all subjects, and lead 
men to ser^'e God and do His commands thereby. 
For example of God, and open and lasting, stirreth 
mde men more than true preaching by naked word. 
And waste not thy goods in great feasts of rich men, 
uat live a mean life of poor men's alms and goods, 
Iw^i in meat and drink and clothes ; and tlie remnant 
give truly to poor men that have nought of their own, 
ftnd may not labour for feebleness or sickness, and then 
shalt thou be a true priest both to God and man." A 
beautiful picture fitted to stand alongside of Chaucer's, 
to which reference has been already made, and the 
first of a notable series of similar portraits of the ideal 
Kagliah clergyman with which our literature has been 
MJiiched. Nor was Wyclifs only a fancy sketch, but 
fsflier a model he did his best to realize in his several 
{Wishes of Fylingham, Ludgershall, and Lutterworth, 
tlloiigh it was impossible for him to confine his work 
to tile comparatively little sphere of the quiet Lincoln- 
*ire village. 

Even after his witlidrawal to its retirement, he was 
not left alone by those who imagined they could silence 


his fearless voice. He was again cited to appear before 
an imposing array of bishops in November, 1382, at a 
time when he was sorely discouraged by the cowardly 
retractations of more than one of his most intimate 
associates, and in 1383 he was ordered to betake 
himself to Eome to answer before the Pope himself 
for the heresies he had so persistently propounded. 
Whether he actually responded to the former summons 
is a matter involved in considerable uncertainty, but 
his reply to the last citation, which he did not obey, 
is still extant. Pleading his inability to take so long 
a journey, he uses the opportunity for a renewed and 
impressive assertion of some of the convictions he had 
already reiterated in many forms. Before this incident 
took place, moreover, his fierce indignation had been 
enkindled by the proceedings of Spencer, Bishop of 
Norwich, who headed a crusade and went forth to wage 
war in the interests of Pope Urban, and against those of 
Pope Clement. Every kind of spiritual bribe was held 
out to induce people to join the army by which this holy 
war was to be prosecuted, and Wyclif, burning with 
wrath as he heard of the blasphemous allurements, 
denounced in keen, uncompromising words the guilt 
incurred by such gross departure from the law of 

The most absorbing and momentous work of these 
last few years was, however, beyond all question, that 
of preparing, completing, and revising the first Bible 
ever issued in our mother tongue, and, indeed, the first, 
by a century, in any living European language.^ It 
was the grandest work of his life, a most fitting close 
to his splendid service, and when once that priceless 

1 Wyclif s Place in History, by Prof. Burrows, p. 20. 



sift lifld been bestowed upon iiia coimtry, it might well 
seem thnt there was Kttle left for Mm to do but die, 
and entsr into rest. No premature summons, there- 
fore, w,is that which came to him while attending 
32ti-ice iji his church at Lutterworth, and was obeyed 
wien, two days after, on 31st December, 1384, he 
° fell asleep in Jesus." " Eequiescat iu pace " was, 
Vfe may be sure, the tender prayer breathed by many 
48 they took farewell of a master and a friend who 
i»d endeared himself to them, not more by his untiring 
fflal than by the purity aud grace of hia personal 
<iwacter. The loving wiaJi was vain, indeed, so far 
ss the poor mortal dust of him was concerned. For 
fctty years it lay undisturbed beneath the atones of 
Intterworth Church ; but then, in obedience to one of 
the countless irrational and inhuman decrees of whicli 
Chnrch Courta have been guilty, the innocent bones 
Were rudely disinterred, borne to tlie village bridge, 
finmed to ashes, and Hung in contemptuous triumph 
into the waters of the Swift. And there waa an end 
of Wyclif — at leaat, so some men thought. 

A very meagre sketch this is of the life of one of 
lie grandest Englishmen that ever breathed. The 
outline needs filling up as it cannot be filled up here. 
The years over which we have run so swiftly were 
packed to the uttermost with diligent toil. " Man is 
bom to work," Wyclif says in one passage, " as the 
bird for flight," and the principle is one to which ho 
rendered most constant homage. His writings are a 
library in themselves, numbering, according to different 
methods of estimating them, from 150 to 200 separate 
compositions. The larger proportion of them are in 
laUn, and the others, in English, belong, most of them 


to the last few years of his life, when he made liis 
appeal directly to the people, one of those daring, 
original, aud patriotic acts that threw great light upon 
his character and spirit, and elicited the bitter animad- 
veraiou of big opponents. In 1410 two hundred 
volumes of his works were burned by order of the 
Archbishop of Pmgue, and there are atill extant 
some four hundred of his sermons.^ Of the theolo- 
gieo-philosopbical system expounded in his writings no 
survey can be attempted in this lecture, and it will 
be hardly possible to do more than indicate even his 
fundamental positions as a lieformer. 

One fact to be constantly borne in mind, if our 
estimate of hia character is to be fair and intelligent, 
is that Wyclif'a was eminently a progressive life. He 
has been often charged with inconsistency, and the 
accusation was plausible enough so long aa no attempt 
had been made to discover the sequence of his writings. 
It is now manifest that tbe inconsistency ia only such 
as is inseparable from growth. He declares honestly 
that he has changed, and that he is ready to change 
again should that be necessitated by loyalty to truth 
and conscience. He was not the man to see any beauty 
in the metallic immobility that, with so many, passes 
current for faithfulness, when it is nothing better than 
an amalgam of indolence and cowardice. 

Another point with reference to which censure has 
been passed upon him ia the part he took in the poli- 
tics of his day. Milner laments that " a political spirit 
deeply infecta Wyclif's conduct," and for that and other 
reasons he cannot "rank him among the Jiighest wor- 
thies of the Church," and a greater critic than Milner 
' Shirle/a Catalogue of Wyclif a Works. 



iaa spoken of politics as the rock ou which Wyclif 
split. Sueh a judgment ia jiossible only when a mere 
fiagment of his work is kept in view, and wlien there 
luB been an entire failure to appreciate the spirit that 
snimated him when hearing his part in the settle- 
Diflnt of national problems. Happily, he was not 
Uiamed to be a patriot. He had enough of the old 
prophet's faith in hira to he convinced that a man ia 
little likely to do any divine work in the world who is 
50 eiceedingly cosmopolitan that his fatherland is no 
luore to him than any other eonntry on the face of the 
arth. He was jealous, with a godly jealousy, tor 
tile lionour and welfare of the nation. There was 
noHiiiig in him of the sickly other-worldliness that sur- 
wndera the reins of civic and political government 
into any hands, however dirty, and regards such 
matters as too secular to have any claim upon the 
Utention of a pious soul. All houour to his memory, 
tkt any attempt to trample on the independence of 
England provoked him to passionate protest aud resist- 
ance, and that his very faith in God made it simply 
lEiposaible for hJTn to sit tamely by, " a dumb dog," 
wMlat the people were being wronged by foreign 
Usurpation or domestic iujustice. "Wyclif was, to his 
praise he it said, an Englishman, every inch of him, 
not unworthy of a place in the very front rank of 
those whose names, " familiar in our ears as household 
words," suggest the memory of glorious battles ibught 
and won in the cause of Britain's hbertiea. Besides, 
it was impossible that Wyclif could steer clear of 
politics if he were to be a Eeformer at all. The 
Church itself was more political than anything else. ■ 
It claimed to be the supreme civil power in Europe. 


It arrogated to itself the right to dethrone kings and 
instruct parliaments. Its dignitaries were at the 
bottom of every intrigue that sought to arrest the 
nation's march to freedom. If, therefore, Wyclif was 
political, the fault lay not with the Reformer but with 
the system he laboured to reform ; if he wrote much 
about Church and State, it was only because the 
former was intent upon devouring the latter, or 
degrading it into a mere puppet of. ecclesiastic am- 

What, essentially, Wyclif's aim was, there can be 
little doubt about. It was just to bring back Christianity 
to its original character as portrayed in the New Testa- 
ment. He was a reformer because he was, first and 
above everything else, a student of the " Sacred Page." 
The early Apostolic records he had pored over year 
after year, until the one fact that, more "than any 
other, bulked largely in his intellectual horizon, was 
the absolute disparity between the Christianity of the 
first and that of the fourteenth century. " Back to 
the Bible," the so-called formal principle of the six- 
teenth century movement, was the scroll he blazoned on 
his banner from the outset, and in the elevation of this 
principle, as has been truly said, he is without a com- 
peer throughout the history of the English Reforma- 
tion.^ Authority which, with the Church, meant the 
whole heterogeneous mass of ecclesiastical tradition, 
meant, with Wyclif, simply and alone the Word of 
God. That constituted, he maintained, the sole 
tribunal whose verdict was final and without appeal in 
matters of doctrine, worship, and practice. " If there 
were a hundred popes, and all the monks were to be 

^ Boehringer's Vorref ormatoren, Johannes v. WyklifFe, p. 3. 



transformed into canlinals, we ought not," ho saiJ, " tu 
ascribe to their opinion in matters of faith any other 
™lae than they have as founded on the Scriptures." 
Eia convictions as reganla tlie supreme glory and 
ewellency of the Biljle were intense. It is " the 
inimutahle Testament of God the Father." " God and 
Hii Word is all one and they may not he separated." 
° To le ignorEint of the Scriptures is to be ignorant of 
Christ," Who, in these writings, " has given a law 
Buffidait for the government of the whole militant 
Clmich," ' the one Magna Charta of the kingdom of 

This single principle once adopted, all else, in 
Wydif'a procedure as a reformer, followed by natural 
aad necessary sequence, In Apostolic duys he could 
finfl nothing answering to the haughty, grasping 
priasthood. " Theae brokers of the city of Eome," as 
th^ are styled in the Complaint of the " Good Tar- 
liasnent," who sold benefices to the highest bidder, 
wiioae income was as large again as the royal revenue; 
who had turned the Church into a huge banking con- 
cera, and who haggled and bargained about the very 
giace of God as if it were an ox or an asa, these 
were no successors of the men who had said, " Silver 
nuii gold have we none." "Wretched " penny priests " 
they were who bartered to the devil the souls 
t^hrUt had redeemed by His precious blood." " Ah, 
Lard God, where is there reason," he exclaims in a 
Petition to King and Parliament, " to constrain the 
P^or people to find a worldly priest, sometimes unable 
liotli of life and cunning, in pomp and pride, covetous- 

" ffohann v, Wicklif (Lechler), Bucli 2, Kap. 7. 
' Cf. Boeliringer, Lc. p, 445. 


ness and envy, gluttony and drunkenness and lechery, 
in simony and heresy, with fat horse, and jolly and 
gay saddles, and bridles ringing by the way, and him- 
self in costly clothes and furs, and to suffer their wives 
and children and their poor neighbours perish for 
hunger, thirst, and cold, and other mischiefs of the 
world." ^ And the case was in no way better that 
at the head of this priesthood was a Pope who, in life 
and teaching, was " most contrary to Christ," not 
Peter's successor but Christ's enemy, " poison under 
colour of holiness," the " root and groimd of all the 
misgoverning of tlie Church," ^ and nothing else, indeed, 
than Antichrist, and if a \dcar at all, then a vicar 
only of Satan. As Wyclif scanned the features of the 
organization represented by this priesthood he could 
discover there no resemblance to the " Church of poor 
confessors " described in the New Testament. There 
was clamant need of reform, and the measures he 
advocates are sufficiently drastic. He is a champion 
of the principles of " Thorough." His plea is for a "root 
and branch" re-organization. He does not hesitate 
to cry out even for disendowment, strange as such a 
method may appear amid the old-fashioned manners 
and customs of the fourteenth century. The Church 
is being suffocated by its wealth, he argues, and the 
State should restore to it its original poverty, unde- 
terred by any denunciations of sacrilege and spoliation, 
or any predictions of calamity and retribution. Wyclif 
even appeals to the clergy themselves, with what suc- 
cess need hardly be said, to forego their riches and 
return to the wholesome use-and-wont of earlier days. 
He quotes with emphatic approval St. Bernard's famous 

1 English Works (Arnold), iii. 519. ^Ih. p 278. 


iayiiiir, " Wliatsoever thou lakeat to tliee of tithes ami 
(ilferings besides simple livelihood and straight cbtli- is uot thine, it is theft, ravine, and sacrilege"; 
imJ aigues that all prieata of whatsoever rank Bhoidd 
li'e " of alms, freely and wilfully given." ^ There 
TOO have a reformer indeed, and one who approaches 
™[)' Hear tiie furthest extremes even of voluntaryism 

We Lave already aeen how absolutely he denies the 
right of Pope or priest to possess temporal lordnhip or 
to ie independent of civil authority. The State must 
assert its rule, he avers, over all citizens alike without 
tfednctiou of class or person. This he holds to be 
indiapensiible to the welfare both of the nation and the 
•Church, and, curious, unaccountable soul that ha is, he 
lets it be plainly aeen that he has little faith in the 
6ocleaiastieal administration of justice, and that, if he 
Iwd to be tried at all, he would prefer, as hia judges, a 
l)eaGii of civil magistrates to a bevy of tonsured 

With equal emphasis did he challenge the Pope's 
"Upremacy in spiritual things. The " power of the 
Keys" was a figment of sacerdotal assumption. Es- 
"umwunication he did indeed believe in as a terrible 
iMlity, but not one in the control of any but Go<l 
ffimself, "Who is alone able to discern the trae character 
'rf men. Hence he affirmed that " no man could be 
saommunicated at all who had not first and cliiefly 
Mooinmunicated himself";® and that "man's curse 
tiaimeth notliing, neither interdicting, nor any censures 

' English Works (Aniold), III. 518, 
* Boehringer, l.c, 494. 
■' li'asr, Ziz, p. 2.J0. 


that Satan may feign." ^ Just as little could the Pope 
grant remission of sins, and indulgences he brands as 
worthless and wicked mockeries, " a subtle merchandise 
of Antichrist's clerks," which tempt men to wallow in 
sin like hogs.^ Christ, and Christ alone, is the true 
custodier of heavenly grace. 

Whilst Wyclif condemns so unsparingly the wealth 
and luxury of the clergy, he is not less vehement in 
his denunciation of the mendicant orders who professed 
to have adopted poverty as their rule of life. His 
assault upon the friars was not, as has often been sup- 
posed, one of the earliest exhibitions of his zeal as a 
reformer, though even in his Oxford days he must 
have grown suspicious of the Franciscans, who exer- 
cised a pernicious influence over the youthful students 
at the university. As he approached the close of his 
career, however, his wrath boiled over, and he scourges, 
with overwhelming scorn, these able-bodied and strong- 
handed beggars who were robbers alike of the rich 
who willingly gave and of the poor who had need to 
receive. He tramples upon their appeal to the ex- 
ample of Christ, Who, he indignantly protests, was no 
mendicant, as they aSirmed, even though (to refer to 
the incidents they founded on) He had asked a drink 
of the woman of Samaria, cast Himself upon the hospi- 
tality of Zacchseus, and borrowed the ass on which He 
rode into Jerusalem.^ He accumulates proof upon 
proof of their falsehood, dishonesty, and blasphemy, 
and never, in the whole history of the Church, has so 
conclusive a demonstration been given of the utter cor- 

1 English Works (Arnold), iii. 218. 

2 " Of Prelates," quoted by Pejinington, John Wiclif , p. 262. 

3 Bloehringer, I.e. 542. 


ruptiori oi" the orders that began their career in a spirit 
"flioly enthnsiasm and magnificent promise. 

Tlie wrath enkindled by his assault upon tlie friara 
i,Tew into white heat when Wyclif repudiated the 
d("f,'ma of Trauaubstautiation, of which they especially 
were tlie acknowledged champions. In defence of hia 
puMion on this matter (which, as already seen, was 
absolutely antagonistic to that of the Cliurch), he ap- 
pealsd to Scripture, to the testimony of the senses, to 
theaiioms of philosophy, and even the poor ehurcli- 
ttwnae is called into court as an unprejudiced witness 
fliose testimony ia more to be depended on tlian that 
of any nmnber of bigoted bishops and popes. The 
nrthodox doctrine, he insisted, cast an unpardonable 
bIqi upon the truthfulness of tlie evangelists and 
iipostles, and even of Olirist Himself ; it involved the 
lilaspiiemy of believing that a creature can create its 
Creator.; it imposed upon men the necessity of disci'c- 
diting and contradicting the clearest e\'idence of the 
fecolties of taste and touch ; and it posited the utterly 
impossible absurdity of "accident without subject," 
qualities without an underlying substance, " the most 
lieresy that God suffered to come to Hia Church,"^ It 
is not easy to gather from Wyclif s writings an alto- 
jetiier satisfactory idea of his position with regard to 
this matter, his language not appearing quite self-con- 
ustent, and lacking the clear-cut precision which ia 
deaimble in theological and philosophical formulie. 
He certainly does not adopt the somewhat baldly em- 
Ueioatic interpretation that subsequently found favour 
with Zwingli, and has come to be the popular doctrine 
in our Presbyterian Churches. The bread was with 
EngliBh Works, tii. ri02. 


him something more than a mere figure of the body of 
Christ. That body itself is there, though only 
spiritually and sacramentally, not essentially, substan- 
tially, or corporeally. At the same time his departure 
from the idea of any change answering to the phrase 
" transubstantiation " is absolute and final, and there is 
no sufficient ground for ascribing to him any such com- 
promise as that with which Luther was satisfied. His 
position is rather Calvinistic than Lutheran, though it 
cannot fairly be identified with the interpretation put 
upon the sacrament either by the German or the 
French reformer.^ He believed, however, that by his 
assault upon this dogma he had done much to emanci- 
pate the people from a pernicious superstition, and to 
wrest from the hands of the clergy a weapon by the 
use of which they had too long enslaved and tyran- 
nized over a credulous Church. 

For Wyclif s battle was, all through, in the interests 
of the people. It was no mere strife of theological 
opinion or for speculative victory. His concern was, 
pre-eminently, for the men and women who had for 
ages been denied their rights and privileges, and, very 
especially, had been kept in ignorance of the truth of 
God. How intensely he pursued this aim appears from 
the methods he adopted for the dissemination of his 
principles. He was not content to proclaim his faith 
to amazed students in the Oxford lecture-rooms, nor 
satisfied either with his enunciation of them in the 
pulpit. He did preach with all the efiFectiveness of a 

1 Cf. "The Wicket," The "Confessio Magistri Johannis Wyclif," 
Fasc. Ziz. 115. Two Short Papers " Concerning the Eucharist," 
English Works, iii. 499-503 ; and many passages in the Sermons, 
English Works, i. 



insii who believes strougly in the power of a livin}" 
voice proclaiming living convictions. His fititli iu this 
iiialliixi of influencing men was very fimi, as it cer- 
tainly could not have been had not his idea of preach- 
ing been widely different from that illustrated by the 
j,Teat mass of sermons to which people listened in those 
ilays. Very pungently he ridicules the pitiahle maun- 
Jerings that, passing current as sermons, might make 
iJiota laugh, but could only malse wise men weep. 
No patience had he with the long-robed quacks who 
served up to their hearers, instead of the simple truth 
of God, a despicable medley of pagan mythologies and 
hagiologieal incredibilities. HartUy a greater sinner 
wiflld he conceive of than the preacher whose whole 
aiin, as often happened, was to amuse his audience and 
put them into so good a humour that they would be 
willing to pay liberally for the spicy entertainment. 
"Wyolif resolutely set himself to redeem this ordinance 
from the desecration to which it had been subjected, 
and his sermons, though many of them are but out- 
lines, throb still, as we road them, with the earnestness, 
directness, passion, and spirituality of the preacher. 
Tliere is a boldness and simplicity about them that at 
once explain the influence his eloquence had not only 
OFBT the residents of Lutterworth but also over the 
citizens of London. 

But his single voice was an instrument by no means 
adequate to the resiilts he was anxious to achieve, and 
hence an institution in which he anticipated a method 
ndopted, with signal success, by John Wesley, in 
modem times. Wyclifs "poor priests," as he styled 
ihem, were men whom he had drawn to himself 
^lohably during his Oxford days, and whom, afte 


special training, he sent out to proclaim, in simple 
language, the good tidings of the grace of God. There 
is no reason to suppose he meant to originate a per- 
manent order, or to supersede the parochial system 
and replace it by a ministry of itinerant and unendowed 
evangelists. These " true men " were rather a tempo- 
rary expedient, suited to the present need and designed 
only to awaken in the people an interest in spiritual 
realities, and to secure their co-operation in the work of 
reform. As they wandered about the country in pilgrim 
guise, bare of foot and with staff in hand, clad in long 
russet robes, their appearance excited alternately the 
ire and the ridicule of the clergy. Whether, however, 
priests laughed or raged, despised or persecuted, these 
evangelists, ordained and unordained, held upon their 
way preaching anywhere and everywhere, and not with- 
out result. The statement that before long every second 
man in the country was a Lollard is manifestly 
an exaggeration, but it witnesses to the sagacity of the 
lleformer in originating the institution, and to the 
attention these " poor priests " excited and the accept- 
ance they secured. 

A yet more startling appeal to the people was that 
made by Wyclif in his translation of the Bible into the 
common tongue, which, as we have seen, was the splen- 
did culmination of his career. The attempt has been 
made to rob our Eeformer of the crown of honour 
that belongs to him in this respect, and even a man 
so learned as Sir Thomas More maintained that the 
Scriptures had been translated into English before 
Wyclif 's day. It has, however, been conclusively proved 
that his statement rests upon a manifest blunder, and 
the fact may be accepted as established that " down to 



ISGO tlie Psalter was the only took of Scripture which 
Iittd been entirely rendered into English." But "witli- 
inlesstLan twenty-five years from that date a prose 1 
vaision of the whole Bible, including as well the 1 
Apocryphal as the Canonical books, had been completed, 
and was in circulation among the people. For tiiis in- 
iiiiitiable gift England ia indebted to John 'Wyclife."' 
Jfot that the actual work of translation was all done by 
"tir Reformer, He was assisted, to a very considerable 
Hitent, by Nicholas Hereford, though the rendering of 
the New Testament appears to be all his own. As was 
to be expected, the first edition was not quite satisfactory, 
and before Wyclif's death a revision was begun which 
was earried on by John Purvey and published about ; 
1388. The work was rapidly disseminated, as is de- 
monstrated by the large number of manuscript copies, 
some 150, that are still extant, and that were issued 
within a very shoit period after the first publication. 
Hiis bold adventure was, of course, the rankest heresy 
in the eyes of the ecclesiastical authorities. How they i 
regarded the matter may be inferred from Knyghton's 
uften-quoted language — " This Master John "WycliiJe 
tiaimlated it out of Latin into the Anglican, not the 
angehc tongue, and thus laid it more open to the laity 
and to women who could read than it had formerly 
hfien to the most learned of the clergy, or even to tliose of 
Ihein tliat had the best understanding. And in this way 
llifi Gospel pearl is cast abroad and trodden under foot of 
swine, that which was before precious both to clei^gy 
imd laity is rendered as it were the common jest of 
Iwlli. The jewel of the Church is turned into the 
«oiimmn sport of the people, and what was hitherto the 
'ForBhall Mid Madden'a Preface to Wjcliffe's Bible, p. 6. 


principal gift of the clergy and divines is made for ever 
common to the laity ."^ A reluctant but most emphatic 
testimony on the part of his antagonists to the wisdom 
displayed and the success achieved by Wyclif in the 
use of these sacred weapons. 

And yet the fact must be conceded that, despite his 
choice of the aptest methods and the most effective in- 
struments, this great man did not accomplish the 
Eeformation for which he worked with such unsparing 
diligence. The yoke was not broken for more than a 
whole century which he strove so hard to destroy, and 
the question has often suggested itself, Was Wyclif's 
life a failure ? Certainly no such results followed upon 
his labour as crowned with almost immediate success 
the kindred toil of Martin Luther. The light he 
kindled, instead of steadily spreading and deepening 
tiU the whole horizon was filled with its beauty, speedily 
faded into almost utter darkness, and the ecclesiastical 
powers he had sought to overthrow scarcely lost aught 
of their supremacy, and, before long, appeared to have 
attained to more absolute and tyrannic rule than 
before. To account for this apparent futility of Wyclif's 
labours, we must remember how great were the dis- 
advantages under which he laboured as compared with 
his great German successor. Wyclif stood practically 
alone against the world and the Church. His few 
political allies deserted him so soon as he assailed the 
fundamental doctrinal positions of the Papacy. He 
had no colleagues of intellectual calibre approaching his 
own to aid him with their weapons. He lacked the in- 
valuable help of the press, and was able to publish his 
writings only by the slow and limited processes of the 

^ Eadie's English Bible, vol. 1, ch. 4. 



He was accused, especially in connectiun 
with Uie Revolt of tlie Peasants, of fostering anil pro- 
mnlgating wild revolutionary tenets, and of advoc-atiiig 
a poliqr of rebellion, and the mero suspicion of such 
piirpoaa was enough to imperil and wreck his cause ; 
and ilia followers, thanks partly to their own extrava- 
gance, were combated with the dread instruments of 
peraecution, and among these, the monstrous statute 
wnceming the burning of heretics, which " asserted the 
Orthodoxy of the Faith of the Chui-cli of England." In 
te, it ia one of the distinctions of Wyclif that his work 
SnlfereJ from the verj- grandeur of his personality. He 
WM not really a man of his age, but rather a man full a 
oentury and more in advance of his time. England was 
Hot ready for him, and the under-cun-ents of thought and 
ffieliag that in the sixteenth century had gathered the 
force necessary to carry forward the vessel of the Re- 
fiirmation, were, in Wyclif'a day, too sluggish and too 
isolated to serve his cause. In some aspects, indeed, 
flespite the antique garb in which his thoughts are 
arrayed, Wyclif strikes the student of his history as being 
the most modern of all the Reformers, really toucliing 
iM nineteenth century life more directly than any of hia 
successors, and this very peculiarity explains, in some 
ineasuie, the fact that the immediate effects produced 
hy lum were not larger and more permanent. 

IVe must not, however, exaggerate this apparent 
failure. His work told at home to a much greater 
■legree than is generally recognised. It is not my 
pUce to trace the history of Lollardism, but its repre- 
Mntfttives smrived ail down the fifteenth century, and 
'fBTe to he found in every class of the community, 
last, on the less extreme side, into 



" the Eefornied Church of the age of Ehzaheth," 
and, on the more extreme side, " mto the Puri- 
tanical party of the same period." ' The obnoxious 
tenets of Wyclif lingered on at Oxford, too, for many 
a loug year, notwitlistandiny repeated attempts to 
extirpate the heresy ; and if the followers of the 
Reformer, the " Lollard Bible-meu," did nothing else, 
they did certainly not a httle to disseminate among 
the people a knowledge of, and love for, the sacred 
Scriptures,^ and so to perpetuate the work of their 
great Master. This was done, too, on a larger scale 
and with vaster results, on Continental soil, where 
the Bohemian movement was, beyond all question, 
largely inspired and fashioned by the influence of 
our English Reformer. Whether this was a mere 
" echo " of Wyclif, as has been maintained by a 
German historian,^ is a question the settlement of 
which belongs to my successor in this lectureship, 
but Hus himself made no secret of the impulse and 
instruction he had received from his English prede- 
cessor. Thus Wyclif, dead, yet speaking, contributed 
not a little to the great European movement of the 
sixteenth century, prepared the way for Luther's work, 
and helped to make it the success which so remarkably 
fulfilled a prophetic dream in which he had indulged. 
For even in the midst of his fierce conflict with the 
Friars he cbeiished the conviction that, in days to 
come, there would arise among them men who would, 

' Mr. Babingtoii'a Introduction to Peacock'a " Eepreasor," cited 
by Canon Peunington. 

* ProfeHHor LindBaj^H " Lollarda," Bncyd. Brit. 

^Boehringer, I.e. Einleitung; cf. also, Losertli'M Widit and 



by their ser\*ice, atone for the evil witli which the 
inendicaut Orders were chargeable, return freely to 
tlie original religion of Christ, and then build up the 
Clinreh E9 the Apoatle Paul had done,^ Tlie great 
liemim monk, in whom this anticipation was realized, 
ilid, indeed, hut little justice to Wyclif, whom, strangely 
Miough, he charges with bringing too much logic and too 
little grammar to bear upon his interpretations, and with 
luving attacked the life rather than the doctruie of 
tile Papacy.* Luther'a acquaintance with the English 
Geformer could only have been meagre and, probably, 
ftecond-band, otherwise he would have done frank 
liomage to one of the healthieat, noblest natures that 
ever did battle for God and the world. 

For such, indeed, we hold Wyclif to ha\u been. 
Our hurried and fragmentary review nf bia doctilnal 
position and his methods of reform must have been 
a sheer failure if it has not presented him as a man 
of transcendent originality. Give all the credit tliat 
is due to those who preceded bun in opposing the 
^vpS. claims, and the fact still ren;iiins that there is 
a oimprehensive sweep in Wyclif a assault, a massive 
l^jesty in his grasp of the questions involved, aud a 
teen, subtle diseemment of the root princijiies requiring 
to be afBrmed, to which we find no parallel at all in 
sM the previous history of England, and which give 
Him some right to he called the first of the Eefonners. 
This originality is nowhere more signally displayed 
ttan in his bold, unprecedented appeal to the common 
people to bear their part in casting off the oppi-essive 
ynke of the clergy. It was a new thing that the laity 
should be credited with a right to think and act in- 
'LeclUer, l.c Buch. ii, Kap, 7. ' Boehringer, I.e. 605. 


<lependently in ecclesiastical and spiritual affairs, and 
greatly must they have marvelled at the intrepid 
eccentricity of a priest who thus trusted ordinary 
men and women, and flung himself with confidence 
upon their sympathy. It was a gi*and conception that 
of flooding the country with his short, telling, pungent 
tracts, and originating a method of influencing the 
national thought, which has since proven a mighty power 
in England's political and religious history. And the 
most daring act of all was performed by this first 
of pamphleteers when he put into the people's hands 
his noble translation of the Bible and bade them read 
it for themselves, and fashion their own creed and 
their own conception of life and duty. Therein, cer- 
tainly, he was a true Protestant, and affirmed a principle 
which, for many an age, was branded only as rankest 
blasphemy. It was the inevitable penalty of this 
originality that throughout the chief part of his life 
" his soul was like a star, and dwelt apart." There is 
something approaching sublimity in the loneliness of 
the man. Hus had his Jerome, and Luther his 
Melanchthon, but Wyclif had no such equal and sym- 
pathetic nature to walk by his side. The compara- 
tively very feeble voices that echo his utterances are 
only the echo, and nothing more. The mine he works 
is one within whose dark galleries he is cheered by the 
presence of no fellow-labourer with indomitable will 
and iron arm like his own. At best those nearest him 
are content to wait till he brings to bank the treasures 
he has toiled for on bended knee and with aching brain, 
and to bid him God-speed as he betakes himself again 
to his solitary labour. In his heart, too, all the while 
was a vivid sense of the risk he ran, and of the possi- 


liility there was of his being o^'ertalcen by some Lcrribli; 
cslsmity. It was not given him, indeed, to wear the 
martyr's crown, but within the tali, spare frame there 
liumed die martyr spirit, and through the clenr eye 
tliere shone the dauntless soul, all whose care was — 

" To ataiid approved ill sigbt of God, though worlds 
Judged him perverse." 

That tliere are deficiencies in his doctrinal statements 
cwnot be denied, and it is well known that Melau- 
tJitlioii maintained Wyelif had no conception of the 
crucial truth of justification by faith. The assertion 
tieeii not be vehemently disputed, if it means that he 
Ikiled to apprehend and formulate that doctiine with 
UiB precision of the later Eeformers. There was 
eomething left for them to do in recovering tht- 
I'auline conception, aud reatoi-ing it in a wortliy form 
W the eonsciona possession of Chriateudoui. But the 
Kssence of the truth is enshrined unmistakeably in 
W^olifa teaching, and no language has ever affirmed 
inare emphaticjilly than his, the sinner's absolute 
ilependonce upon the grace of God, and the imdivided 
prerogative and glory of Christ as the Saviour of men. 
"Christ," he aifiTms, "is all manner of meat auil 
drink";' Heia"our Patron"; He is "the Trior of 
•U His religion, the Abbot of the best order that can 
be";* He is "the liighest Pope,"" "our ever august 
ttesar, and the saint of saints, who is at once priest 
and prophet, law-giver and king,"' It is true, indeed, 
that Wyelif frequently presents evangelical truth in 
somewhat legal phraseology. He designates Christ as 
'English Works (Edit. Arnold), vol. i. 4, 
" \ pp. 28, 77. ' lb. p. 283. * Lechler, l.o. Bui:h. ii. Kap. 7. 


our Legifer, our Law-bringer, and he habitually speaks 
of the Gospel as the law of Christ. But this is neither 
surprising nor inexcusable. In an age when, even in 
ecclesiastical circles, religion was to so large an extent 
divorced from even common decency and morality, 
Christianity divested of its ethical significance and 
degraded into mere ceremonial conformity, it was 
urgently necessary to enforce this special side of truth, 
to insist upon the fact that " faith without wjorks is 
dead," and that Christianity means nothing if it does 
not mean holiness of life. 

It would have been little short of a miracle had none 
of the old dross been found adhering to the rich 
gold which Wyclif made his own and the world's, but 
its existence is hardly to be spoken of in presence of 
the fact that " to Wyclif we owe, more than to any 
one person who can be mentioned, our English lan- 
guage, our English Bible, and our reformed religion." 
It was honour enough for one man to win and ser- 
vice enough for one man to render, that he fought 
the battle of his comitry's freedom with a power, 
persistency, and courage never surpassed and seldom 
equalled ; that he broke the might of huge super- 
stitions that, for almost untold ages, had lain like a 
nightmare on immortal souls ; that he taught men to 
repudiate the disastrous, paralysing delusion that the 
clergy are the Church, and lords of the human con- 
science ; and that, securing for himself the foremost 
place in the long heroic succession of the Reformers, he 
won also, for his country and ours, the honour of serving 
as the advanced guard of the noble army whose efforts 
resulted at last in the triumph of truth over error, of 

1 Professor Montagu Burrow's Wyclif s Place in History, p. 6. 



liglit over darkness, of freedom over slavery, and uf 
tnfflamty over priestcraft. And liia riglit to our fer- 
vent admiration and tliankfulnesa is all the greater 
that, despite the terrible fierceness of the battle, his fair 
fame is untarnished by auf^ht in life or character un- 
worthy of the cause in which he fought. As has been 
already remarked, indeed, we do not get into any close 
iniimacy with hia personal experience. We cannot follow 
liiiiiinto tlie humble homes in wliidi he spent his days, 
imblest by either wife or children, those " hoatagea to 
fortune " and " impediments to great enterprises," as 
Bacon terms them. We seldom catch the smile upon 
fiis face, for his humour, at its best, is somewhat stem 
widgrim, and we are not permitted to see him on those 
mre occasions when he was able to unstring hia bow 
iiHEi forget the hard conditions of liis aervice, Now 
and again we are privileged to hear the prayers that 
IJHist from his burdened heart, and whicli, breathing 
the spirit of a beautiful humility, reveal the deep sense 
lie had of the risk he ran of being betrayed into un- 
boly passion and unseemly speech ; but these are 
Mly rare occasions. But one fact speaks most 
sloqaently for the purity and nobleness of his per- 
Mnal character. Though his years were spent in the 
a light as fierce as that 

"Which beats upon a thixme. 
And blackens every blot," 

1 of blame issued from the lips of his bitterest 
They pelt liim with abundance of hard 
isniea, but there is never even so much as an insinu- 
alion Utat he did not wear 

" The white flower of a blameless lite." 


Among his friends he had the reputation of being " sr 
perfect liver," and his enemies had grace enough not toi 
challenge his right to praise so rare.^ A negative, it is said,, 
proves nothing, but the silence of such angry critics 
as watched Wyclif 's course is worth more, a thousand 
times, as a testimony to his character than the most 
elaborate eulogium of interested admirers. " It was," 
says Professor Burrows, " the goodness of the man that 
made him formidable," and there can be no question 
that one real secret of his power is to be found in the 
fair illustration he gave, in liis own hfe, of the earnest- 
ness and simplicity of his faith, the sanctifying strength 
and sincerity of his convictions. This, taken with all 
besides, makes it the more amazing that England has 
been so strangely ignorant of, and indifferent to, the 
man whom Milton styles "the divine and admirable 
Wyclif," and that we have to go to Germany to find 
scholars, such as Lechler, Boehringer, Buddensieg and 
Loserth, eager to render full justice to our great Re- 
former, and, in works distinguished for their Teutonic 
thoroughness, vindicating for him the high place he 
is entitled to. He was a true prophet, meeting with 
the prophetic fate, but, happily, undisturbed by antici- 
pations of neglect, able to keep alive within his heart 
the prophetic fire, and to impart to the world the divine 
impulse the force of which has never been arrested and 
never will die out until Wyclif's confident expectation 
is fulfilled, and the truth of God has won its final 
triumph, and proved its inherent, invincible omnipotence. 

1 Eadie's English Bible, vol. i. p. 57. 


a picture set in a framework nf hills, '. 
liBs on the nortli-weat frontier of Auatria, and may 
(.'enBrally l)e described as the haaiu of tlie Elbe, with 
'■rague as tiie centre of its converging streams. As a 
luition, Bohemia emerges from pre-historic times in a 
straggle between the Boii and a branch of the Sla- 
ranic race ; but it comes distinctly on the horizon of 
liistory as a Slav province, speaking the Czech lan- 

Daring the ninth century, Christianity was intro- 
■iHced into Bohemia. Its upland valleys felt the 
Iducli of that missionary age, as the inlets of the sea 
reapoatl to the tidal wave. Yet they showed their 
inaular character by a stubborn resistance to ecclesias- 
ti«al auiformity ; for, while accepting the leading 
ilootrines of the Church of Eome, they refused to 
xiopt the Latin language in the liturgy, and were 
flowed to retain their mother tongue. Through the 
'l*ii ages, therefore, the Czesko-SIavonic fire burned 
"n their altar and heartli ; and the native dialect — 
like our Gaelic and Welsh — became in the hands of 
^i preachers the mesmeric touch of patriotic brother- 
lifiod. Gradually, however, the astute leaders at Kome 



were able to introduce the Latin liturgy, aa well iis 
other details of order ; slUl the true-bom Czeclis pro- 
tested against the use of a tbreign tongue in theit 
religious service ; and this was one of the burning 
questions in the time of Hus. 

But, throughout tlie secenturies, the Papal genius wai 
working on more ambitious lines of policy. The bold 
determination of Hildebrand to rescue the Churcli 
from feudal power, was carried out with mar\'ellou( 
persistence by his successors, until the Papal chair wm 
erected on the top of the world,' and the kings ol 
Europe crouched before the So\'ereign Pontiff of Rome 
Then, apparently on the principle of making the mosj 
of both worlds, purgatorj- was aimexed to the Fapaj 
dominions, and the Church readied the giddy height 
of absolute temporal and spiritual power. 

But her succesa was won at great cost. As tht 
apotheosis of Cieaar marked the decline of pagan Rome 
so this self-deification became the caput mortuttni a 
I'apal Eome and the back stroke of the two-edged swore 
^tally wounded the life of the Church. " The fish roti 
j^flten the head downwards." The avaricious examplt 
of the Popes was soon imitated by the priests ; and tlw 
rate of progress in degeneracy among the lower orden 
of the clei^y increased by the natural law of accelera' 
tion. The prostration of moral and spiritual enei^ 
was followed by various kinds of corruption, until tlii 
unbhishing sliamelessneas of the priesthood shocke( 
the more thoughtful friends of the Church. Thi 
monastics arose in alarm at the prevailing abuses, ani 
a stem protest was uttered from the Alpine valleys 
but the noise of the Simoiiists in their unhallowet 
' Eoger Bacon. 

HUS. 51 

traffic, and of the Sensiialista iii the haunts of vice, 
completely drowned the voice of the mystic brother- 
boods and tlie warning of the WaJdensea. Samson slept 
la the lap of Delilah, and awoke at last, shorn of 
tongth, to become the slave of the Pliiliatiue. 

The crisis came with a rude suddenness at tlie 
hegiiming of the fourteenth century. I'liilip tlie Fair 
of France resented the imperious claims of Boniface 
VIII, on his kingdom, and the contest ended in the 
defeat of tlie Pope, with the transference of the Papal 
seat to Avignon (1305-76). Petrarch called this 
"tie Babylonish Captivity." It may also be regarded 
M one of those liistoric satires on human ambition 
which illustrate the action of a moral principle in the 
government of the universe. " Whom the gods wish 
to lieatroy they first make mad." 

During this period of Papal conquest and captivity, 
Doheraia was developing qualities of character well 
suited to give her weight in the councils of Europe 
Jie[ mountains were a barrier against envious neigh 
twnrs and avaricious priests, and also a cohesive girdle 
Wand the native energy. She was less affected by the 
nnmbiug touch of Rome than moat other countries, and 
Wis left free to develop her national resources accord- 
ing to her own genius. Hence, she rose to a ilrst 
jpliCe among the nations, about the middle of the 
lourt^Bnth century, when Charles IV, was created 
Homan Emperor. He was the Augustus of Bohemia, 
snd his reign is tlie golden age of progress and pros- 
pBrity. He was the founder of the University of Prague 
(1348), the defender of religions liberty, and the patron 
(I tie Czech language and literature. He is, therefore, 
the fa.ther of Bohemia, and as one of 


the liriglitest ornaments among the crowned heads of 
Europe. He died iu 1378, and waa succeeded by liis 
son Wenzel the Lazy, in whose hands the kingdom fell 
into disorder, and lost ita prestige among the nations. 
His whole reign was a fruitless efibrt to gain the crown 
of the Roman Empire; it is not otherwise distinguiahed 
in " the equilibrium of weaknes,? " ' among the leading 
powers of Europe. There was neither statesmanship 
nor steadfastness of purpose in the domestic policy of 
Wenzel, and Iiis accession to the throne is chiefly 
remembered for the schi.sra in the Papacy, and tlie rise 
of a new power in the government of the Church. 

This split in the Popedom forms one of tlie great 
epochs in ecclesiastical history. It arose out of a dis- 
pute about the true seat of Papal power. The Italian 
cardinals insisted on restoring the ancient glory of 
Home, — the French cardinals had a natural preference 
for Avignon ; and out of this contention came the 
Papal schism, in which the outward unity of the 
Church was sacrificed to the self-interest of two parties 
in the hierarchy. The rival Popes, Urban VI. and 
Clement VII., hurled their anathemas at each other 
with great violence, and disorders of every kind swept 
ill full tide through the gap between Avignon and 
Home. " The chair of St. Peter was like to be brokeji 
by two sitting down on it at once,"^ and Charles \X., 
the one" man able to reconcile the difference, died in 
the year of the rupture. This state of self-contradic- 
tion lasted for forty years — it practically covered the 
active life of Hus — and it suggested the deeper con- 
troversy about the true headship of the Church, which 
issued in an appeal to sacred Scripture, 
1 Palacky. ' Fuller. 

it liiis juncture, the ITuiv" 

appear a 


^er in the public life of Europe. From their free 
winstitution, as so far independent of both civil and 
^eaiastical jurisdiction, and also as the nurseries of 
''le best thought of their age, they were well (|ualiiietl 
'ti act the part of umpire in this contest, and to gaiir 
''he respect of hotii claimants to the Papal throne. 
**Wbciii, the Chancellor of Paris University, proposed 
*<• bridge the gidf hy a {;encral council, Ht which the 
Whole case sliould he discusseil. As a preliminary 
^■lesaiire, it was agreed to ask the two Popes to resign 
in fevour of "a new single, supreme head of the Church," 
— uid it was a great gain for freedom wlien both aides 
consented to accept the decision of the Council 
Hallam calls this the inauguration of a Whig policy 
mthe Papacy, hy which an absolute became a limited 
monarchy, subject to review and reform.' The Council 
"wtat Pisa (1409), and, although it failed m its imme- 
liiate object of healing the breach, and even increased 
4b confusion by the election of a tldi'd Pope, it 
nevertheless put the balance of power theoretically on 
!> broader representative basis than either kings or 
'anliaals, and it also asserted the right of the Church 
'n eoimcil to reform abuses in its head and members. 
(■WBon was a reformer on constitutional principles, who 
*i*bed to restore discipline without disturbing doc- 
Wne, but the vested interests of the clei:gy were too 
''"Hig for abstract theories of molality, and more 
'''Mtic measures ware required to cleanse the life of 
tiie Church. 

In Oxford a more radical idea of reform had taken 
■W through the teaching of Wyclif. He went back to 
' Eullam's Midille Ages, 4th eitition, p. 394. 


the original charter for the principlea of doctrine and 
duty. He brought from tlie teaching of Christ and 
his Apostles the ethics of religious life, and applied 
the truth of Gwl with unflinching logic to the expul- 
sion of error and corniption. The Excalibur of Jjigland 
flashed in the eye of France, where feudal tendencies 
were strongest, and excited in Gerson the fear of 
revolution; hut, notwithstanding his timidity, the genius 
of history has owned the method of Wyclif in the 
progress of reform, rather thau the negative theory 
of the merely critical school. Both currents of reform 
united in the movement identified with Hua, and it is 
easy to recognise, in the progress of his work, traces of 
mental conflict between the principles of Gerson and 
Wyclif; indeed, Hus never seemed consciously to real- 
ize that his plea for intelligent faitli was fatal to blind 

But, long before his day, the same symptoms were 
evident in the religious life of Bohemia, and earnest 
minds were engaged in efforts to stem the tide of 
wickedness in society and in the Church. This spirit 
of renaissance expressed itself in two main directions, 
— in a revived interest in the mother tongue, and in an 
assertion of religious freedom. In the retirement of the 
University of Prague, Aldbertiis Eaneonis (1360) was 
engaged in the attempt to mould his native speech 
into more flexible forms of expression in sympathy with 
the new thought. He was a renowned scholar of Paris, 
the most distinguished Bohemian of his day, and a 
great friend of national education. He founded a 
travelling scholarship for gifted Czechs, at Paris or 
Oxford University, and left his library to nati-ve 
students at Prague. Kanconis represents the scientific 

and literary side of Bohemiait reform. Stitny^-callecl 
" Ike prose Chaucer of Boliemia " — was also labouring 
in the same field with great success ; hence, at the 
Itginnbg of the fifteenth century, the language of the 
l«id of Hus was, next to Italian, the best literary 
medium in Europe. Bohemia had the greater portion 
of the ScripturCiS in the vernacular even before Eng- 
land, and some of the genus of reformation-thought 
were sown by unseen hands among its hills before the 
»<iil of the Saxon race was ploughed, 

Oa the more direct side of Church reform, the im- 
mediate precursors of Hus are distinguished by the 
suue patriotic feeling ; and the native dialect is the 
magic charm for reaching the heart of tlie people, 
Koamd foimd it a powerful weapon in his crusade 
^■ainst vice in Prague, and his popular discourses in 
the Czechian speech glowed with the warmth of prac- 
tical piety and the robust force of sanctified common- 
seaae. Militz the Moravian aciiuired the vernacular hi 
orfer to reach the national conscience, and ultimately 
became the centre of a school of itinerant preachers 
like the Lollards, who transformed the hot-beds of vice 
ill Prague into the nurseries of virtue, 

Konrad died in the birth-year of Hus, Militz ii^'e 
yeaia afterwards ; but the work of reform was carried 
forward into fidler statement by Matthew of Janow. 
Ha ia said to have been the most profound Bohemian 
blinker of his time, and, without knowledge of Wyclif, 
to have thought out the leading doctrines of the new 
theology. He rejected the clay-mould type of uni- 
flffliiity; be advocated the miity of difference as the 
ndust result of a living faith; he taught the priest- 
luKid of believers with or without orders; and based 



tlie wbole idea of the Clmrcb on the revchition of tlu 
Scriptures. He also revived the old controveray ii 
Bohemia about the use of the cup in the sacrament o 
the altar, and insisted on the right of all to both kind 
in the supper. He was forced to retract on this aub 
.ject ; still, though perhaps wanting in moral couragt 
his spiritual insight and his efforts to restore a bette 
tone to the life of the clergy, undoubtedly lift him inti 
the front rank of Eeformers before the Reformation 
He died in 1389. lamenting the state of religious da 
generacy, regretting Iiw recantation, and predicting i 
brighter dawn for Bohemia, without being aware thai 
already the hour and the man were near who shouI( 
fulfil the prediction. 

John Hus was bom at Husinetz in 1369. H:3 
parents called him John, but, according to the custoq 
of that age, he afterwards adopted the surname Hua 
from the place of his birtii. He was the child d 
simple peasants. Like Luther, he was educated as i 
choir-boy, and was evidently familiar with the peas< 
porridge of the convent school. He thus refers t( 
it in later life, — " Wlien I was a poor scholar I usee 
to make a spoon of a piece of bread tiU 1 had dom 
eating my pease porridge, and then I ate the spoon." ■ 
The plain fare of Scotland was once supposed t< 
account for the mental and moral vigour of oui 
students. So perhaps the severe discipline of youtl 
helped to develop the manly virtues which fitted Hm 
for the duties of after-life. Before hw educatioi 
was finished his father died, but his mother 3pare( 
no sacrifice in assisting him towards the profession o 
the priesthood, for which, by ear!}'- choice and homa 
' Wiatislaw, p. 67. 


oinseiit, !j« wilh destined. His personal motive at 
lint ffas rather a. boyish eiivy of the luxury and 
iKiness of the clergy, tlian auy love for the work 
uf tlie ministry ; and at a later date he somewhat 
severely judged the irreverunce of his service in the 
fboir. StToog lights cast deep shadows, intense 
lameatnesa is apt to exaggerate defects, so possibly 
tliese reflections on hia former conduct at the close of 
life are lai^ely due to the keener vision reached 
ihrough conflict. " Tlie remembrance of youth is a 

Hna matriculated at the University of Prague at the 
^ of twenty-one ; he became Bachelor of Divinity at 
twenty-five; and obtained priest's orders about thirty- 
"ae. Little is known of hia earlier student daya ex- 
'■ept his ■' loss of time in playing chesa " ; ^ but there is 
''lidence at least of a fair knowledge of classics and 
wiiolastic philosophy. His intellect was of a practical 
csst, with little taste for abstract speculations or logical 
fiiEriea, and therefore, throughout his arts curriculum 
hfi does not seem to have attained to any great dis- 
linction. During his divinity course, however, the 
Icnch of the Oxford thought opened his eyes to the 
^ue of philosophy in theology, and transformed him 
"ito an earnest student of Eealism. His ability was 
•ecognised in the university by an appointment as es- 
suiiner in philosophy, then as a lecturer, and last of all 
M Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In theology, he 
Mlacted the notice of Stanislas, and retained hia friend- 
wip Until the charge of heresy alarmed his old teacher 
Ud drove him into an attitude of opposition, Tliese 
' Sayings of AH. 
* Letter to Martin from Coustanw. 


facts prove that Jolin of Husinetz was above an aver- 
age student, and left his university with some reputa- 
tion for ability and eminence in study. 

But the great era of his history opened in his ordi- 
nation to the priesthood, and through direct contact 
with the people in preaching. He set himself earnestly 
to acq^uire the art of popular discourse, and soon found 
in the pulpit a congenial sphere for all his latent talent. 
His inherited sympathies drew him towards the native 
population, and his fame as a Czech preacher so rapidly 
rose, that in two years after taking orders, he was one 
of the leading spiritual forces in the city of Prague. 
Through this distinction as a popular teacher Bus was 
unconsciously led into the great arena of Bohemian re- 

About 1390 a merchant named Kreiiz or Cross, a 
friend of Eanconis, resolved to found a chapel for 
purely native preaching, to be consecrated to the Inno- 
cents and called Bethlehem. Through the inHuenceat 
Court of John of Milheim, a royal charter was obtained 
from Wenzel, granting certain privileges to the rector 
and congregation. The high renown of Hits as a 
preacher attracted the attention of the founder of 
Bethlehem Chapel, who invited him to become its 
rector, within three years after his ordination. The 
chapel was foimded in the year Hus entered the uni- 
versity, but its renown dates from the time he began 
his work within its walls. Brought face to face with 
the practical duties of his office, the mind of the young 
preacher began to recoil from the indifference of the 
parochial clergy, and he determined to discharge his 
sacerdotal function conscientiously to society and the 
Church. Aa in the early dawn of the Christian era a 

star guided tlie Magi to the cradle of the greatest 
Jfefonner in the historj' of the world, so, in leas degree 
find over a smaller area, a new attractive force drew the 
Wise men of the age to this chapel, named after the 
Wrthplace of Christ — a voice, as from heaven, was 
heard by the faithful shepherds watching their flocks 
m the midst of darkness, and a strange excitement 
pervaded society, which terrified the Herod-hieraroliy 
Uito measures for the suppression or slaughter of the 
tonocents. But Hus was charged with a divine mes- 
aage, and could not he diverted from declaring it ; so 
he continued to preach the gospel of truth and right- 
eousness in the calm consciousness of duty. Crowds 
came to Betlilehem Chapel — even Queen Sophia was 
fescinated by the eloquence of the preacher, and made 
lihn her private chaplain ; but neither popular applause 
hm Court favour turned him aside from Uie serious 
purpose of his mimstry. Balhinus the Jesuit said — 
' Hus was even more remarkable for his acuteneas than 
his eloquence ; but the modesty and severity of his 
wndiict, . . . hia pale and melancholy features, his 
S^ntleuess and affability, persuaded more than the 
SKaleat eloquence." ^ Tlirough conflict with error 
»nil superstition, a strong element of puritan earaest- 
Msa was developed in his character, which gave edge 
ft hifl preaching. He had no language too severe for 
"the shepherds who sheared the sheep,"' caring more 
fM the fleece than the flock ; and he was specially in- 
%iaat at the mendicant friars who peddled their par- 
WH18 from house to bouse, concealing avarice under the 
garb of sanctity, Chaucer's pen and ink portraits of 
' Ref'iniiei-a before the Eeforniation, Bonnechose, p. 71. 
' Letter to Zawyssius. 



these fraternities easily explain the invective of Hiis, 
" It ia not the stole that makes the priest." 

By the regular and secular clergy a strong remon- 
strance was uttered against these attacks of Hus, and 
an appeal for protection was presented to the Arch- 
bishop, who either thought the case too glaring for 
defence or was afraid to interfere. He died without 
taking notice of the complaint; and his successor, 
Zybnek, was evidently at first in sympathy with the 
earnest priest of Betldehem Chapel. Zybnek (1403) 
consulted Hua on the best means of restoring discipline 
in the diocese, and invited him to examine a reputed 
discovery of the real blood of Christ in a ruined 
church in the neighbourhood. Hus denied the reputed 
miracle in a tract on " Tlie glorified blood of Christ," 
in which he uiged a more faithful preaching of the 
truth of God as the best cure for traffic in relics, for pil- 
grimages to sainted shrines, and for the whole machinery 
of superstition. His pamphlet checked the excitement in 
onedirection,butawokeitinanother. The priests were mad 
withrageat the prohibition of their lucrative trade. Even 
the Archbishop was alarmed at the commotion ; and, 
for politic reasons, withdrew from the extreme position 
of Hus, whde still retaining some admiration for his 
heroic defence of religious morality. But the preacher 
in Bethlehem Chapel was undaunted by the clamour 
of these religious monopolists, and became still more 
a^ressive in attack upon the sacrilegious tendency 
among the authorities of the Church. Hence another 
memorial was sent to the Archbishop, charging Hus 
with slanderous attacks in the vulgar tongue against 
the clergy, " which were undermining their influence 
and threatening imtold evils in the diocese. Zybnek 



13 reluctant as his predecessor to take up the case; 
sn llie coiaplaiut was forwarded to Itome, with tlie re- 
■"uit that inatmctions were sent down " to use all dili- 
gence in the extirpation of heresy and disorder." In 
*iow of this Papal edict, forty-five articles were extracted 
^Mi the writings of Wyclif for tli« judgment of the 
ilioceean synod. By tlie condemnation of these aa 
1 leretical, it was intended to strike a blow at Hub, 
■vJiose chapel was beginning to be called the Wyclif 
^-'ava It was also gradually becoming the Eaabab of 
Itohemian reform. 

Zybnek, in this emei^ency, asked the advice of the 
inirersity, whicli, from this point, became an important 
Rctor in the history of reform. The University of Prague 
"^founded on the model of the University of Paris, and 
wifl intended by Charles IV. to rival it as a centre of 
culture. It was divided into four nations in voting on 
luy public or constitutional question, and the vote of 
tie majority of nations was the decision of the univer- 
sity. At first Bohemia held three of these votes, but, 
111 the course of time, the German inttuence gained the 
Wendeucy, and absorbed three votes, leaving only one 
to the (Czechs, There was nothing unjust in this 
irnuigement on the principle of proportion, but it was 
* ooQBtant source of irritation to the Slavonic minority, 
'wause it -i-irtually silenced their voice in the govem- 
iMnt of a native institution. Tlie ancient feud between 
lie Teuton and the Slav (which is not yet dead) appeared 
"1 tliis seat of learning on everj' debated question. 
^ »lid vote of the Germans was given in favour of 
"ominalisra and Papal absolutism ; whereas the one 
™te of the Bohemians went in the direction of Kealism 
_"0 'i reform. This swamping of their opinions in 



philosophy and theology was a standing grievance to 
the Czechs. Such a dividing line was certainly inju- 
rious to truth and freedom, and it declared itself most 
clearly in this case of reference on the doctrines of Wyclif. 
Stanislas, the teacher of Hua, and Paletz, his fellow- 
student, argued a general defence of the writings of 
Wyclif, and refiised to accept the forty-five extracts as 
a true statement of his position ; nevertheless, even 
without argument, the mechanical majority voted down 
the heretic, and deci'eed that all such teacliing should 
be forbidden in the university or diocese. Zybnek 
issued an edict to this effect. However, the condemna- 
tion only increased the interest in the study of WycUf, 
and intensified the enthusiasm of Hus in the defence 
of the Oxford Doctor, whom he was accustomed to call 
" the master of deep thoughts." 

[By the broad movements of history, and the more 
subtle affinities of learning, England and Bohemia had 
been drawn very close together. In 1382, Anne, the 
sister of Wenzel, was married to Eichard II., and stu- 
dents passed between Oxford and Prague in the pro- 
secution of their studies, so that the two nations united 
by marriage also clasped hands in thought. It is im- 
possible to examine the numerous traditions about tlie 
introduction of Wyclif literature into Bohemia, and 
perhaps tlie story of English students exhibiting a 
cartoon of Christ and of the I'ope as Antichrist in their 
lodgings at Prague, or of their carrying a forged certifi- 
cate of Wyclif a imiversity attesting his orthodoxy, may 
be set aside in view of the imdoubted facts that Jerome 
was a student in Oxford, and that an interchange of 
students had gone on for many years. Such a leaven- 
ing as existed at tliis time must have been the work of 



I'arious agencies, and cannot with any safety he asso- 
rted with a name or any single incident. While the 
tnought of Wyclif was in process of incubation in 
■Bohemia, it attracted no special attention ; it was when 
'a the act of taking wing it caused anxiety, and all 
efforts to kill the dangeroua brood at this stage only 
succeeded in enlarging the area of flight. The spent 
shot fell harmless in the region of truth and conscience, 
The controversy about the doctrines of Wyclif went 
on with increasing vitidence after their condemnation, 
and stirred up a strong antagonism in the university 
Istween the Teuton and the Slav sections. At first the 
■Archbishop leaned to the side of Hus, and selected 
Ho as the synod preacher in 1405 and 1407. This 
Inference offended the other dignitaries of the diocese, 
»!io seexetly conveyed the information to Eome that 
linesy was becoming defiant in Prague, under a too 
laid episcopal rule^ and that strong measures were needed 
fer ita suppression. Innocent VTI. at once issued a 
bull c-iUing upon Zybnek to use energetic means for 
the wiping-out of aU schism and heresy. The Axch- 
tiishop recognised in this edict the intiigning spirit of 
tile offended prelates, and, in resentment at their 
wtion, left the edict unfulfilled in ita strictest reading. 
Au instruction was published on the sacrament of the 
"liar, which touched the central doctrine of Wyclif, 
without in any way affecting the modified position of 
His on that subject. A conference was held with the 
whemian nation in the university, at which all that 
*M heretical in Wyclif was unanimously disallowed, 
without any real definition being given of heresy. 
This open verdict greatly displeased the aggrieved 
pwlotea and the German party in the theological 


faculty ; so, on the acctiaaion of the new Pope, Gregory 
Xn., much more stringent injunctions were laid upon 
the Arclibishop, to protect tlie clergy from abusive 
attacks, aud to root out the revolt from Cliurdi 
authority. Tlie fear of the Pope now overcame the fear 
of the King in the mind of Zybnek, and forced him to 
more severe methods of action against Hus. He for- 
bade all references to the evil lives of the clei^ 
in sermons to the people ; he forbade all preaching in 
the diocese without episcopal sanction, and ordered 
those in possession of Wyclif books to give theni 
up immediately. Both the prohibitive and preventive 
instructions were generally ignored by the reform 
party, while, to the great consternation of the clei^-, 
Hus became even more bold in lashing the vices ram- 
pant among the dignitaries of the Church. 

The year 1409 brought this movement to a crisis. 
The Council was about to meet at Pisa to accept 
the resignation of the rival Popes Gregory XII. and 
Benethct XIII,, and the King agreed to assist Gersou in 
the attempt to heal the scliism in the Papacy, by the 
election of " a single, supreme head of the Church." 
Wenzel invited the University and Archbishop of 
Prague to support him in this decision — in which he 
was lookuig mainly to his own imperial prospects ; 
hut the Bohemian nation alone sustained his position, 
wliile the three German nations and Zybnek resolved 
to cling to Gregory as the duly elected Pope. This 
opposition awoke the resentment of the Court, and 
offered a great opportunity to Hus for reversing the 
voting power in the university, and for gaining the 
protection of the King in the growing struggle with 
the local authorities in the Church. Jerome, the 

NCS. 65 

"terarj' genius of reform, assisted Hus in this attempt 
'■" tMke the native influence ascendant xxi the national 
*liool. Home rule was the party cry ; it stirred the 
jaeiDory of the old feud, and unseated the more sober 
JQdgment of its advocates ; for it lost siglit of the 
^Vantages of federation, and sacrificed imperiEil to 
pan)chial views of education. The German majority 
*Gre indignant at the attempted coercion, and at the 
threat of being deprived of their ascendency, and they 
*^soIved, in the event of the movement being succeas- 
'll, to leave Prague in a body. Tlirough the Court 
Influence of Hus, the constitution of the university 
Vas restored to its original idea, giving three votes to 
^liemia, and one to foreign residents. Thereupon an 
wodns of German professors and students took place, 
Wrying with it the intellectual glory of Prague. This 
•iisruption caused a great commotion in the city, and 
rjised among the shopmen and citizens, dependent on 
tlie university, a reaction against the movement of 
Bform, Besides, the Bohemians, hitherto held together 
W lieir standing grievance, soon began to show signs 
if dissension among tliemaelves, and the University 
never regained the influence of its former days. Hua 
»iM elected rector under the new regime, but he 
Dswhere appears less worthy of admiration than in the 
'Mtorial chair of a narrow Slavonic school. The right 
"Ht ignores duty is iBtolerance ; the patriotism that 
fwgets justice outrages the sanctities of human freedom; 
and the spirit that would crush conviction into weak 
''oDcurrence contradicts the first principle of the Gospel. 
Has undoubtedly made a mistake in this matter, 
^ Nemesis avenges mistakes as well as misde- 


Till' \in.«oh with the Archhiahop occun-ed in the 
Mttine year. One cause of alienation was the refusal 
iif Zybnek to support the policy of the King iu relation 
to tli« Cuuncil of Pisa ; but there was a deeper reason 
in the defiant attitude maintained by Hua in his 
nxiKauni of clerical abuses, and in his hold remon- 
Mtranco against certain judicial acts in the episcopal 
IXmction of the Archbishop. Tlie temper of Zybnek 
unite broke down under such interference, and he was 
roused into fury by a citation to Kome through the 
combined influence of Wenzel and Hcs. Therefore, 
lie at once gave in his adherence to the new Pope, 
Bcnt ft serious counter-charge to the Papal Court, and 
nHkod increased powers to deal effectively with the 
I'ising revolution. Immediately on his submission, the 
bonotlictiou of the Pisan Pope (j\lex, V.) was conferred 
(in the Archhiahop in a bull of 20th Dec, 1408, 
nuthorixing him " to remove the writings of WycUf 
ftvni the eyes of the faithful, and to forbid all preach- 
ing t'xoept in cathedral, conventual, or parish churches, 
iukI to procood in its execution without the right of 
ftppofti," Hua protested agaiuat this attempt to silence 
him at Bethlehem Chapel, and, on the ground of its 
froo clmrtor, continued to preach as before to even 
hit^or iiudiiincos. He denied the imputation of heresy, 
and called on the excited people to sustain him in the 
dotormi nation to stand by the truth of God even to the 
defttli. Tho process of crushing was generating dan- 
gerous heat, and symptoms of explosion were very 
Houu evident. 

The Papal edict was at once put into force against 
the writings of Wyclif, All in possession of these 
writings were ordered to surrender them under severe 



pains auil penalties, and about two Imndred volumes 
of mannscript were delivered up to the Archbishop. 
'When it became known that these books were to be 
baraed, a strong representation was made by the Uni- 
versity and by the King; but, although Zybnek promised 
to do nothing without consulting Weuzel, tlie glare of 
the burning in the palace yard at the cathedral soon 
intimated to all concerned tlie arbitrary destruction o£ 
iJifl forfeited writings. Like a prairie fire, the popular 
eadtement ran beyond all control. It expressed itself 
in satirical ballads, howled by long processions in the 
streets, and it greatly helped to recover the popularity 
lost to reform by the University schism. Hus said of 
it~" I call the burning of books a poor business. 
Sudi burning never yet removed a single sin from the 
hearta of men, but only .... midtiplied among the 
people disturbances." ^ The King, as the guardian of 
the public peace, forbade all social disorder under pain 
Bt death. At the same time he was greatly enraged 
W the duplicity of Zybnek, in casting such a stigma 
On the kingdom, and thus spoiling his imperial pro- 
speota at Rome. He therefore wrote to the newly 
elected Pope, Belthassar Cossa (Jolm XXIII.), denying 
the existence of heresy in Bohemia, and inviting him 
either to investigate the case or remove the gratuitous 
ciaxge, Hus also appealed against the infringement 
"Ethe charter of Bethlehem Chapel, and in defence of the 
Bi,^t8 of the University so seriously injured in the burn- 
ing of its books ; but the only answer to such represeuta- 
tiuns was a more furious bull against prevailing heresy, 
anil a direct citation of Hus to appear at the Papal 
Court. The king protested; the C[ueen interceded; Hus 
1 Neander, vol. ix. \i. 3-'i6. 


petitioned to be released from personally appearing 
before the Pope, and even sent a deputy to plead his 
case ; nevertheless, the cruel Cossa was inexorable, 
and, in due course, a sentence of excommunication was 
published against the Eeformer. The court and 
cathedral, long in a state of tension, now fell into open 
rupture, and the King made reprisals on the tem- 
poralities of the Church, to recoup the loss caused 
by the burning of the books, and to recover some of 
the property for his own exchequer. 

The university interposed in favour of compromise 
between the temporal and spiritual rulers. A council 
of arbitration was appointed, and, during its delibera- 
tions, the interdict on Hus was removed ; but no final 
decision was reached, as in the midst of this strife and 
confusion the Archbishop died on 28 th September, 141 1. 

Up to this point, Hus had no idea of leaving the 
Church or of founding a new sect. He was rather bent 
on reforming abuses, and on rousing the conscience of the 
priesthood to a truer sense of moral obligation ; still, 
while he protested his freedom from Wyclif heresy in 
all good faith, it is easy to see the influence of the 
more doctrinal aspects of Oxford teaching on his mind, 
as the movement continued to widen, and as the 
conflict with Eome deepened. We come now to a stage 
in the struggle where the controversy is less about 
Wyclif heresy than papal authority, and where the battle 
is fought with weapons directly borrowed from the 
armoury of Lutterworth. 

At the installation of Albik (1412), the successor of 
Zybnek, the Papal legate preached a crusade against 
the King of Naples for protecting Gregory XII., one of 
the Popes deposed at Pisa. Indulgence was ofifered to 



ttU RsaiBting in this holy war^ by personal service or 
money contributions, Tlie treasury of the saints was 
"pened to all comers, and the drum of the pardon-monger 
everywhere called the faithful to buy in the Church 
laiaars. Hua waa roused by this profane traffic, and 
8t ouee declared war to the death with the wicked iu- 
rention of Hildebrand, He assailed the doctrinal 
principle of indulgence, as subversive of the divine pre- 
ngative and of social morality, and declared that he 
"would resist it though the stake were staring him in 
tie fece." He announced a public disputation in the 
univeraity, which the authorities in vain tried to prevent. 
Hia old allies Stanislas and Paletz began to feel the 
danger of being further identified witli hia view3,and they 
fetired into the safer position of obedience, on the plea 
of honouring the will of the Pope who had issued the 
M, and the wish of the King, who liad sanctioned its 
promulgation. Hus greatly regretted this retrograde 
sction, and compared his old profesaor and friend to 
iMbwalkers, who, afraid of the Pope, were willing to 
lenoonee conscieuce. " Paletz is my friend, truth is 
117 friend ; and both being my friends, it is my sacred 
''% to give the first honour to truth," ' 

This rupture in the reform party is an important 
landmark in the history of Hus. It accelerated the 
ipeeii of the impact and recoil, and gave a tone of 
Dittemesa to his further aasaulta on Papal authority ; 
«8ides, it brings into view Ms greatest enemies in the 
fiituie development of the movement. Jerome, the 
lailiaut Uhlan of reform, skirmishing on the outer 
fWrgin of the area of conflict, came to the assistance of 
II08 iu this crisis, and made a defence of his position 
' Eeply to Paletz ; " Eetrocedeiis sicut cniieer." 


with SO great power on the popular lumd, that a public 
ovation by the studenta aud citizens was given him o^ 
leaving the university hall His intellectual and ora- 
torical triumph aet the whole population in a blaze 
iind, a few days afterwards, the excited mob of PragW 
Uumed the Papal bull, in answer to the bonfire aj 
Wyclifs writings, and in defiance of Papal authority 
The logic of enthusiasm is rarely a syllogism — reason 
and order seldom rule the actiou of a panic-atrickei 
crowd, and there was undoubtedly much in this riotouj 
outbreak that it would be difficult soberly to defend 
Hus behaved with studied moderation, evidently avreC 
by the popular excitement, and anxious to restrain hi 
followers from contlict with another proclamation of tl« 
King, just issued, threatening death to disturbers of th( 
peace. In spite of his moderation, three youths attemptet 
to stop the sale of indulgences by force in one of tin 
churches, and came under the lash of the law. Hm 
interposed in their favour, aud obtained a promise d 
their release; but a few liours thereafter they wert 
executed at tlie instigation of the German party in th( 
city council. This first blood was the consecration d 
the cause of reform- — it placed the wreath of mortyp 
dom on the brow of its victims — it welded the rising 
force into stubbom resistance, and transformed Beth' 
lehera Chapel into the " church of tlie three saints." ^ 
As soon as the news of the action of Hus with r& 
gard to indulgences reached Eome, it roused the wratl 
ofthe Pope, and immediately thehejiviest artillery of fchi 
Church was levelled at him, A bull of the gi'sater e» 
communication was published in 1412, forbidding sJ 
intercourse with the arch-heretic, ordering the demolii 
' Abbot of Kola. 



tion of the chapel, and interdicting all religious service 
in tlie place of liis residence, imlesa he submitted to 
I'apa! authority withiii twenty days. 

There was a solemn pause in the battle after tliis 
Bdict was read at Pi'agne. Both sides held their breatli 
to hear the reply of Hua. He threw his scabbard in 
Uie face of the foe, and, refusing to surrender, appealed 
froiQ the Pope to Christ, as the only true head of the 
Chureh. This defiant attitude greatly pleased the 
local priesthood ; for, besides enjoying a happy holiday 
(luiing the ban on Prague, they saw, in this burning of 
tbe boats and cutting of the bridge, the inevitable 
tapitulation of their inveterate enemy. On the oxpir- 
stion of the days of grace, the arrest of Hua was 
onlered, with all the fulminations of apostolic wrath; 
imd the necessity arose of considering whether to fight 
ftt freedom to the bitter end or retire into seclusion, 
After consultation with his friends, Hus agreed, at their 
wiueat, to leave the scene of his labours for a time, and 
cBsappoint the immediate hopes of the elated clergy. 

This period of exile opens the last chapter in the life 
rfHufl, aa it also brings into view the more Hterary 
Mde of hia work. Hitherto, the exigencies of duty 
Wk fatal to any serious efforts at writing, beyond his 
Bohemian discourses on current questions, and a few 
P«liq)hleta on special aspects of the controversy in which 
lie was involved ; but now, from his retreat among his 
"WiTe hills, and in view of the wider bearing of the 
lUMtion at issue, he endeavoui-ed to consolidate hia 
pwitdon by a more systematic statement of its main 
contentions. His letters- — 5ome personal, some pas- 
''fal — offered an outlet for his large-hearted affection, 
itid revealed one of the great secrets of his power over 


the congregation at Bethlehem Chapel. Luther was 
greatly charmed with these exile and prison letters, 
and published an edition of them in Latin, d,s evidence 
to his age of how a noble, heroic soul could sufifer for 
conscience and truth. It would be as impossible to 
convey an idea of " the inflexible sweetness " of this 
correspondence by analysis, as to present the fragrance 
of a flower in a dissection chart. The letters present a 
picture from within of the various stages in the develop- 
ment of the closing chapter of the Eeformer's history. 
His mental conflict is expressed to Martin — '' My soul 
is sad, for I know not what to resolve on ; " his calm 
faith to the rector of the university — " I have never 
felt myself overwhelmed by persecution ; " and his 
counsel to the congregation — " Be not shaken in your 
faith, and regard not those, who, having placed only an 
uncertain foot in the path, have tilmed aside elsewhere, 
and have become the most violent enemies of God and 
of his disciples."^ 

His principal controversial writings also belong to this 
season of retirement, as well as the greatest of all his 
works, the Latin treatise on " The Church." This was 
the Novum Organum of reform, first conceived by the 
master mind of Wyclif, then adopted in the main by 
Hus, and more or less borrowed by later reformers. 
Its principles are drawn directly from Scripture, with 
variations in application according to circumstances, 
and its essential idea is that which has found expression 
in the accepted summaries of the various Protestant 
Churches. It was an answer to an attempt at com- 
promise between the Papal authorities of the Church 
and the representatives of Bethlehem Chapel ; and it 

^ Luther's edition. TraDslated by Bonnechose. 


most conclusive, for its first principles and wlioit; 
spirit are such as to show quite clearly that Hus was 
outside the then received idea of the Church. 

During this exile, Sigismund, hi'other of Wenzel, was 
created Eoraan Eiuperor ; and, with tlie assistance of 
Geison, urged the Pope to call another General 
Coimcil, to close the state of triangular tension in the 
Papacy, to reform tlie Church, and to put down 
heresy. John XXIII. had sufficient reason to dread 
sach a threatened infringement of his absolute power, 
or any inquiry about the uses he had made of his 
•Tithority; and, with the casuistry of an expert, 
eraded any decision, until, under severe pressure, lie 
was at last compelled to summon a Council at Con- 
stance on 1st November, 1414. 

With a good deal of diplomatic adroitness, Sigis- 
mund also prevailed on Hus, under promise of a safe 
conduct, to appear at this Council for the pui-pose of 
explaining his principles before the best minds of the 
Church. Confiding in the promise, and confident in 
the justice of his cause, Hus consented to appear, in 
the behef that he would gain a victory for truth, 
Some of his friends shook their heads, others openly 
predicted danger ; yet they failed to alter his deter- 
iniiiation to defend his faith before the highest 
fiodeBiastical tribunal of the day. Under a vague pre- 
"entiment of death, he left in the hands of one of his 
fisciples a valedictory address to Lis followere, includ- 
iBg a disposition of his little property. He began his 
prepirations for the Council by getting a certificate of 
orthodoxy from the local inquisitor, and a similar 
iwnunent liom the Archbishop, on the plea that he 
W never been convicted of heresy. The documents 


were readily granted, because his opponents were 
playing a subtle game, and did not wish to discount 
Ma hopes in the Council, in which they saw the best 
means of finally crushing this revolt from tlie autho- 
rity of the Church. 

In complete ignorance of their scheme, Hus started 
for Constance, leaving Jerome in charge of Bethlehem 
Chapel. Everywhere on the journey he was well 
received by sympathizers with religious freedom, and 
wrote to his friends that " his worst enemies 
were Bohemians." On 3rd Nov. be reached Con- 
stance, a few days after the entry of the I'ope ; and 
the interdict, already a dead letter, was formally 
removed. Before his arrival, however, Paletz was busy 
among the leading members of this greatest of all 
Councils, endeavouring to prejudice their minds 
against Hus, on the grounds of heresy, contumacy, and 
revolutionary action. The French Nominalists were 
urged to suppress this Realist ; the Germans were 
incited to avenge the insult offered to their nation 
in their expulsion from the University of Prague \ 
the English were instigated to crush the disciple of 
Wyclif ; and the Italians were advised to stand by the 
authority of their Pope. The treatise on "The Church " 
was also put in process, and every agency was set in 
operation calculated to rouse the passions of the priest- 
hood. Several ingenious attempts were made to settle 
the case " in camera " before the wrival of the 
Emperor ; 6ut these were successfully resisted on the 
plea of the safe conduct, with its promise of a fair 
hearing in the open Council. But, under pretence of a 
conference with a commission appointed by the Pope, 
Hus was taken into custody, and, a week after, was 

HUS. 7-5 

sent as a prisoner to the Blackfriara' Convent on the 
side of the lake. By whose orders he was arrested 
has never been determined ; yet the fact remains that 
he was a prisoner in a Dominican monastery when the 
Emperor came to Constance on Christmas-day. Sigis- 
mund professed to be greatly displeased at this breach 
of honour, and severely assailed the Pope for his vio- 
lence, and accompanied his reproof with a threat that 
if Hua were not liberated he would leave the Council. 
He was soon pacified by the cardinals on the assur- 
ance that " no promise made to a heretic was binding 
in law or conscience," and, to his indelible disgrace, 
the Emperor left Hub to the mercy of an assembly, 
who began by prejudging tlie case, and putting out of 
court the elementary principles of justice. From this 
point the fate of the Bohemian was practically sealed, 
though a long series of formal investigations took place, 
Uie prisoner meantime undergoing a process of slow 
poisoning in his unwholesome cell. The letters of 
his prison life shed a lurid light on these dark pro- 
ceedings, and reveal the inner history of an indomitable 
spirit undergoing martyrdom. At one time, like 
an untamed bird, dashing against the bars of its cage, 
Uifl iieart rebels against injustice and imprisonment. 
At another time, like a domestic fowl, as he says, 
playing on his name,' his soul is resigned to the 
will of heaven ; but never once in the most extreme 
sufleiing does he lose sight of the interests of truth. 
His prison letters are a manifesto of faith worth all 
fiB creeds. They show the secret of his heroic 
Wirage, and sweeten the tragic surroundings of his 
deafli with the sunshine of God, 

» Tha woiil Hus meana giioae. 



The programme of the Council was drawn oo a plau 
L whicli had the condemnatioE of Hus for its culminat- 
I iag point, and all its acts were grouped on this prin- 
ciple. The first public decision directly affected the 
Popes. The two absent pretenders were formally- 
deposed ; and, as the peace of the Church was more 
important than the interests of an individual, Juhn was 
called on to resign. He resisted for a time without 
improving Ms case, and at last, under threats of prose- 
cution for immorality, the infamous Cossa thought it 
\ wise to abscond and thus escape from being deposed. 
1 Hus, as the prisoner of the Pope, was now taken over 
I into the custody of the Council and was transferred to 
the castle of Gottlieben to endure the exquisite pain of 
starvation in fetters. 

The second stage of procedure was tlie examination 
of the writings of Wyclif, which were condemned again 
with all the anatliemaa of the Church, and given over 
to the public executioner to be burned. This was a 
foregone conclusion ; it was now intensified bj the 
further instruction to exhume his bones and remove 
them by fire from the dust of the faithful. This 
settled tlie question of principle, and the severity of 
the sentence was a bad omen for the cause of Hus. 
News of these cruelties created great excitement in 
Bohemia, and a strong remonstrance was sent to 
Sigismund, with the result of arousing the wmth of 
the Council, and of hastening the activity of Paletz in 
preparing the accusation against Hus. 

The trial more resembled a gladiatorial show than a 
judicial proceeding, and reflected little credit on the 
accusers and judges ; for it was only in the hands of Ger- 
"--1 and D'Ailly that it rose above the level of a farce. 

The charge against Hiia was based nu extracts from his 
own writings in Latin, which in their constructive 
form he repudiated as garbled ; and also on acts 
of his life which were greatly misrepresented ; still 
there can be little doubt that, from the standpoint of 
the cardinals, Hus was the direct antithesis of ortho- 
doxy. He professed himself a true son of the Church, 
seeking to free it from abuses, and desiring to be 
instructed in auy truth on which he might seem to 
have erred ; hut the Council was bent on suppressing 
discussion and laughed at the idea of debate. It was 
a conflict between rational freedom and slavish sub- 
mission to authority. 

On 5th June, 1415, Hns was called before the 
open Council to hear the libel read, on which already 
the draft of his sentence was prepared. His exceptions 
to the various points were hissed down, and, on per- 
sisting in iiis defence, the tumult became so great that an 
adjournment was made to allow the disorder to subside. 
This clamour forced Hus to exclaim — " I thought there 
was to be found in this Council more decency, more 
piety, and more discipline." ' 

On 7th June began the second sederunt. The 
writings of Wyclif, specially the defence of the forty- 
five articles, were made the ground of the charge of 
heresy. It was contended by D' A illy that a Kealiat 
could not accept the doctrine of the sacrament in the 
Church sense, but tliis was a point on which Hus 
never could follow Wyclif, although it is somewhat 
difficult to grasp his modifled position. He denied 
that he supported any error of Wyclif, and insisted 
that his defence of the forty-live articles was baaed on 
' Letters from Canstance. 


the wholesale character of the condemnation, and uot 
on agreement with each in detail. His work in Beth- 
lehem Chapel was also charged with revolutionary 
tendencies. To this he replied with an affirmation of 
loyalty to the throne, to the best interests of social 
morality, and to the Church as based on Apostolic 
truth. His appeal to conscience and revelation was 
ridiculed, and a general finding was come to in the 
line o£ the chaise. 

On 8th June the contiict gathered round his treatise 
on " The Church " along with his other polemical pam- 
phlets — and Paletz was the principal accuser. Gerson 
held that the teaching of this treatise was subversive of 
all Church order, and averred, that while anxious for 
reform, he could see nothing but revolution in the doc- 
trine of Hus. There are worse things than revolution, 
as this good man lived to know; in the meantime, bow- 
ever, he could recommend nothing hut recantation as a 
safe course out of the difficulty. Hus appealed to Apos- 
tolic principles in vain, even urged that the Church, 
without a Pope was an argument for the true head- 
ship, hut the Council refused to listen to hia pleadings 
for liberty. So he at last gave up the uneq^ual contest 
in a prayer for hia persecutors. 

A solemn charge was then read, offering Hus the 
alternative of an unqualified recantation of heresy, with 
a full surrender to the mercy of the CouncQ ; or, the 
unanimous condemnation of the Church. Ecclesiastical 
law and ethical principle were thus in antagonism, 
and to the mind of Hus the authority of conscience 
left hmi no choice. Death was the only escape, and 
he resolved to die rather than deny the truth. With 
less equanimity did the Emperot and CouncQ look on 

HUS. 79 

the result of tlie trial, and several efforts were made to 
induce Hus to yield. Friends ui^ed him ; even Paletz 
pleaded with tears, and several deputations were sent 
to argue down his douhta ; but the love of truth was 
stronger than the love of life, and lie preferred death 
to dishonour. The letters to Prague at this supreme 
moment are lull of calm resolution, and urge a similar 
faithfulness on those still left in the field of straggle. 

On 6tli July, the Council met in full court. The 
shadow of death was over it, and the last scene of the 
tragedy was opened with solemn mass. The sentence 
of degradation from the priesthood, with death, was pro- 
nounced on Hus ; his tonsure was disfigured, his official 
robes were removed, then his soul was handed over to 
the devil and his body to the flames. 

His Latin and Bohemian writings were already burn- 
ing as he passed to the place of execution. The faggots 
were lighted as he breathed hia prayer for all hia enemies 
and friends, and the smoke choked his utterance as he 
commended his soul to God. Thus, in a chariot of fire, 
the Elijah spirit of Bohemia was translated to heaven, 
leaving his mantle to Jerome and a consecrated memory 
to his country. Hus died a martyr's death— contend- 
ing for a rational faith, a pure conscience, a Scriptural 
Church — exposing the fallacy of force in religious Hfe, 
as exemplified in the Cross,in the Catacombs, and in the 
Inquisition ; and lifting into view again the old saying of 
Tertullian — " The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the 

The tire that was intended to burn ont heresy only 
burned it more deeply into the heart of Bohemia. Ou 
30th May, 1416, Jerome, having recovered from hia 
temporary eclipse in the conflict with material force, also 



stood at the stake to wituesa for the truth iii death, and 
passed across the atage of Constance in another blaze 
of light. Hub and Jei-ome — united in life and death — 
remind us of Latimer and Kidley, the twin martyrs of 
Jiigland. One was the moral fibre, the other the in- 
tellect and culture of the Bohemian revival in the 
fifteenth centuiy ; aud their immortality on the page 
of history provea beyond dispute, that great ideas in 
moral or mental life cannot be destroyed by any material 
weapon. " Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it 
shines." The voice of Antigone,' which is the voice of 
Conscience, is heard in Hua and Jerome- — 

" Nor did I deem thy heralding ao mighty 
That thou, a. mortal man, could'at tramplfi on 
The unwritten and unchanging- lawa of heaven. 
They are cot ai to-day nor yesterday. 
But ever live, and no one knows their birth-tiile. 
These, from the dread of any human anger, 
I vaa not minded to annul, and so 
Incut the punishment which heaven enacts." 

In the afterglow of these fires of martyrdom, a weird 
lament rose from the native heart of Bohemia ; it pene- 
trated into the upland valleys like the coronach of a 
Highland funeral, aud it crept in a subdued wail into 
the most distant households among the hills. The 
Czech spirit for the moment was stunned — wounded 
in its patriotism and in its rel^dous freedom — and took 
some time to recover the blow thus struck at its chiefs. 
The issue of the edict of the Council to suppress the 
Hussite cause awoke a deep resentment in reforming 
circles, aud acted like oil on the smouldeiing fire of 
rebellion. Their nobles were ordered to restore all 
property taken from the Church, their leaders in re- 
• Sophoclea (Dr. Donaldson's translationj. 


HUS. 81 

form were uited to Rome, and all adlierents of Hus 
were required to openly abjure the priuciplea of his 
leaching. Clamour greeted this proclamation on all 
sides; it rose into a wild shriek in some quarters, and a 
general movement began among the nobles to resist 
this invasion of popular rights. It waa aa if the iiery 
oross had been sent among the hilhnen. Watchfires 
were lighted in all directions, and the scattered forces 
of reform gathered into solid mass. The weak King 
was placed in a serious dilemma — with the Emperor 
and Pope on one side, with signs of social revolution 
on the other— and his habitual indolence increased the 
(liiBcalty of decision until the opportunity waa gone. 

The advent of the Papal legate to enforce the 
decision of the Council roused the cry of revenge, 
which drove him out of Prague with all his 
bqnisitorial apparatus. The Emperor then brought 
pressure to bear on his brother, which still further in- 
creased the confusion, for it drove Ziaka from the 
Court of "Wenzel, and made biin the head of the Hua- 
■ites. The personal dignity and military genius of 
fiaka gave cohesion to the imdisciplined army of re- 
form; and, like Cromwell, he was soon surrounded by 
Ironsides whom nothing could resist. The old ques- 
Ooti of the cup in communion had been re^'ived during 
ilie prison life of Hus, and had gained his sanction on 
scriptural grounds. This, therefore, was made a lead- 
iug doctrine of the party. Their watcliword was 
" Ziaka of the cup," their standard bore a chaUce aa its 
'yialiol, and one of the features of the ninth century 
Church of Bohemia was again restored. 

Ziska set up his standard at Tabor, a few miles from 
I*r>gue, quite in the spirit of Deborah and Barak, and 


began to driU the rustic sokliera to the use of their 
primitive weapons, for the defence of the ancient 
Hbertiea of Bohemia, Very soon they swept the coun- 
try with fire and sword, crying vengeance on the 
priests and on the German domiEation. They e 
attacked the palace of the vacillating king and threw 
liim into a fit of apoplexy, from which he died. They 
also, in wild fanaticism, sacked the cathedral palace and 
drew the Archbishop (Konrad) over to their side. An. 
intense republican feeling then laid hold of Ziska'a fol- 
lowers, feebly opposed by the nobles, and social disin- 
tegration threatened to ruin both Church and State, 
when the Emperor ajid Pope joined in a crusade 
against the revolutionists. Signs of internal dissension 
already beginning to appear amoug the Hussites were 
at once lost sight of in this crisis, and the again 
united ranks of Ziska defeated and routed the 
forces of Sigismund. Ziska lost hoth eyes in the con- 
flict, but his intrepid spirit could not be broken by 
blindness. He still led on in an unbroken aeries of 
victories. The Emperor tried to buy him over with the 
promise of his being made heutenant-govemor, and had 
so far succeeded when the veteran was stricken with 
the plague and died in 1424, On an altar near hia 
tomb, on which Hus and Ziska are represented, is found 
this scroE — " Hus, here reposes John Ziska, thy 
avenger, and the Emperor himself has quailed before 

The Hussites were called " The Orphans " after tlie 
death of Ziska, and soon fell into family feud— one 
section more moderate, the other more extreme in it 
demands for concessions from the authorities of the 

^ Boimechose, vol. ii, p. 311. 


CTiiircli, while both wore loyal to the principle of 
commimion in botli Icinda. The Taborites, as 
distinct from the chalice men, rejected all outward 
ceremonial in worship, denied the doctrine of the real 
presence in the sacrament, and refused to acknowledge 
a hierarchy. This sectarian tendency increased in the 
after-history of the movement ; yet these sporadic 
genns, thrown off at different times, had all the living 
principle of truth within them, and home on the 
breeze to various parts of Central Europe, they took 
toot and grew into seed, which, sown again by other 
causes, gradually ripened into a more glorious harvest. 
LuthOT said, on his way to Worms, " They could 
burn Hub but they could not burn the truth." A 
dentnry after the death of Hus another illustration 
was given of the truth of hia saj-ing, " Pharisee, 
pontiif, ud priest have formerly condemned the Trutli 
and hurim it, but it has risen from the tomb and van- 
Uniflhed them all " ; ^ or perhaps Luther ia the histori- 
cal reading of the prophecy of Hus- — " The cackle of the 
goose will awake the eagle " ; for, on the strong wing 
of the far-seeing monk of Erfurt, the work of WycUf 
and Hus was lifted into a clearer atmosphere before the 
6ye of Europe, in the greater Eeformation of the six- 
teenth century. 

This review of the life and work of Hus has already so 
&r indicated his relation to Wyclif ; yet, as tiiat rela- 
tion haa excited a good deal of discussion, it may be 
WeU, in conclusion, to offer a broad, general statement 
of the controversy. 

The natural desire to discover the origin of life, or 
tlie banning of great movements of thought, is like 
' Letter to the believers in Prattle. 


tlie ancient sigh of Egypt, to gaze upon the fountains 
of the Nile, or to solve the riddle of tlie Sphinx. 
Histoiy ia a divine plan unfolding through human ex- 
perience, with a distinct law of continuity, with an 
equally evident variety in its forms of manifeatation, 
and, working on large areas, and through long periods 
of time, it brings into view phases of thought which 
ilely analysis. The spirit of an age ia an inspiration, 
not an invention, and the historian comes too late into 
the field to discover tlie subtle relation of its motive 
powers. Stdl, there are great epochs, with clearly 
marked characteristics, and one of tliese is represented 
by Wyclif and Hus, when the chrysalis of the middle 
ages was breaking into the winged life of modem his- 
tory by the natural development of inherent vitaHty. 

The very success of the Papacy, in its stniggle against 
the temporal powers, awakened in the Church the spirit 
.of freedom, which showed itself in religious questionings 
and social upheavals. The moral law is constant, and 
wherever it comes into antagonism with eri'or and cor- 
ruption in the Church, struggle ia inevitable ; and more 
or less of resemblance will he discernible among those 
who lend the conflict. Froude says — " A man is great 
as he contends best with the circumstances of his age, 
and those who fight best with the same circumstances, 
of course grow like each other."' Similar plants are 
found under the same conditions of soil and climate in 
the most distant zones ; volcanic disturbance moves in 
magnetic circuit over wide areas, and throws up signs of 
its action in places far separated, yet in sympathy with 
each other ; ao also in mental and moral life, similar 
causes working under like conditions will produce 
' Short atudies, vol i, p. 682. 

iii's. «5 

corresponding effects. " Nature ia full of a sublime 
family likeness throughout her works; and delights in 
startling us with reseinhlancea in the most unexpected 

Thus, England and Bohemia, outlying provinces ol' 
the Koman Empire, with an inborn love of independence. 
were most sensitive to this spirit of freedom, therefore, 
they rose with spontaneous impulse to the loading 
place in reform, and presented many features of hke- 
neas in their general history, and also in their out- 
standing figures. 

The spirit of independeuco among the Czechs had 
never quite submitted to the rule of papal uniformity, 
and its protest was at least as early as that of England ; 
Imt the mind of the Saxon took a deeper grasp of the 
jxaitive aide of reform tlian the Slav, and it was this 
conatructive principle that gave it permanence. Abao- 
Inte originality belonged to neither Wyclif uor Hus ; 
tJiey were comparatively late vforki-rs in the field of 
remonstrance, but the Oxford Doctor was not content 
with JK^miads on the state of the Church, he suggested 
curative treatment through doctrinal reform. This 
unitoubtedly made him a greater dynamio force in the 
movement, and this also gave him influence over the 
practical mind of Hus. The teaching of Wyclif found 
Hub in the University entangled in the intricacies of 
the schoolmen ; it gave hirn the clue with which to 
thread the labyrinth, so the grateful student followed 
lille philosopher into the region of theology, and in- 
creasmgly found him " the master of deep thoughts." 
"^^ is the principle ou which schools are founded, 
and it is this affinity of complementary natures which 
EmerHon'a Easay on Hiatory. 


really explains the relation between the two early Ke- 
formers. No teacher or system of education will give 
insight to a superficial mind; the facility to recognise 
profound statements of truth is neat akin to the power 
that originates them, just as the next thing to being 
great is the ability to admire greatness. " The mute, 
inglorious Miltons," the artistic instinct even without 
technical skill, the appreciative sense of qualities not 
our own, are beautiful traits of character; and we do 
not admire Wyclif tlie less but Hus the more for this 
unity of difference. It is no fair objection to the moon 
that it is not the sun. 

Stokes, an English priest, accused Hus at Prague 
in 1411 of direct plagiarism from WycUf. Theanswer 
is a frank confession of indebtedness, running into a 
noble panegyric of the gi-eat master, towards whom he 
had been drawn by instinct and conviction.^ If Car- 
]yle can so justly refute the imposture theory as an 
explanation of the work of Mohammed and the forging 
of the sword of Islam, it becomes easy to feel that the 
fanaticism of Ziska was not warmed at a painted fire, 
nor his sword unsheathed to defend the fame of a pro- 
fessional tragedian, Nothing less than a great mora! 
force in society will cover the facts of the Hussite re- 
bellion, and the cause must be equal to the effect. The 
spirit of the life of Hus refutes the charge of pious 
fraud, and in the fire at, Constance the insult is con- 

Milton, in the Areopagitica, says, "Had it not been 
the obstinate perverseness of our prelates against the 
divine and admirable spirit of Wycliffe, to suppress Jiim 
aa a schismatic and innovator, perhaps neither the Bo- 
'Neaader, ix. p. 329. 



uan Husse and Jerome, no, nor the name of Luther 
of Calvin had ever been known. Tlie glory of re- 
j^ning all our neighbours had been completely ours.'" 
Tie laws of human history are not conceraed with 
i glory of a nation so much as the good of the world, 
1 Milton's resret is simply an admission that Hus 
Hftee essary to WycUf in the evolution of events. A 
^^yclif woidd have been less powerful than Hua, 
sad of attempting to rival the thinker of Ox- 
^ himself to carry out his theory into a practi- 
Ijlt, until he had made Wyclif more powerful on 
btiuent than at home. Through the life anil 
|E Hus, Wyclif was called the fifth evangelist in 
History, therefore, has not lost in any de- 
f the admission that more than one man was 
1 for the reformation of Europe. 
lie Continent the keenest controversy has raged 
I' this subject in more recent times, and the efforts 
imize the work of Hus almost suggest 
!nt of feeling against the Slav which still par- 
U Auatro-Germau minds. At the one extreme, 
r urges a heroic defence of the independence of 
I him the direct offspring of Bohemian 
The law of heredity is very apparent on the 
3 side. It explains to some extent the points of 
e between Wyclif and Hus on the doctrine of 
ntiation, and on the value of tradition ; as alao 
thetic clinging of Hus to the hope of reforming 
nit leaving the Church. Still, in view of his own 
, and his undoubted leaning to the side of 
Bydif, such a claim for Hus cannot be fairly raain- 
At the opposite extreme Eoliringer calls Hus an 
^Milton'a Proae Works, Bohn's edition, vol. ii. p. 91. 



^'eclio" of Wyclif, and Loserth endeavoura to establish 
thia charge by direct quotation.^ It is possible that the 
very choice of such a task unconsciously assists in its 
performance, as it is easy to select extracts from writers. 
on the same theme, about the same time, of similar 
tenour or diction, which, while true in detail, may be 
misleading in their general impression. Tlie points of 
divergence in method and thought may be unduly left 
in the background, and thus a tone of special pleading 
given to the argument. 

It is granted that Bohemian reform in the earlier 
days of Hus was associated with the name of Wydif ; 
it ia also true that the name of Hus came more to the 
front in the later stages, aa hia personal courage trans- 
formed doctrinal belief into moral energy. It is also 
admitted that the Latin tracts bear strong evidence of 
borrowing Iai;gely from Wyehf ; and, if this is not ac- 
knowledged by their author, it is not therefore necessary 
to accept the chaige of plagiarism. Even Shakspeare 
would BufTer if the same teats were applied to his his- 
torical plays. 

But Hus was less a school divine than a native 
preacher ; and it has never been shown, scarcely even 
suggested, that in his regular sermons there was any- 
thing more than a general hkeness to Wyclif, such 
as any disciple would bear to an admired master, The 
life of active Jabour laid upon Hus so soon, was fetal to 
leisured thought ; the voices that visit tlie solitudes 
and whisper to meditative minds were little heard by 
him in the over-pressure of pastoral duty and prelatic 
debate. Like the average Presbyterian minister, his 
whole capacity required to be coucentrated on duty 
■Loaerth'a Wyclif and Hus. 1884, 



lying to hanil, ani! his literary talent was given up to the 
feeding of his flock. Besides, Hiis died in his forty- 
sisth year, about the age when ripe fruit generally 
begins to fall for the benefit of thinking men, and, like 
a wise man, he was content to leave his immortality to 
the t«st of practical work. Hia expositions in Czech of 
the Church service, his homilies on the Commandments, 
the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Scripture lessons, 
are fiUl of spiritual insight and moral earnestness ; while 
his letters unite the qualities of a Boanerges and Bar- 
nabas in a true Pauline combination. If, therefore, a 
Uring is the sum of its relations, an em the resultant 
of its forces, and a man the equivalent of all bis 
tboughta and deeds, then it may be allowed to 
claim for Hus, in the work of reform, a place scarcely 
less honourable than his more renowned and greater 

A fair statement of the case seems to be some- 
thing like this. The thought of the great theologian 
found and educated the great preacher — the prophet of 
England inspired the patriot of Bohemia, who, thinking 
less of literary fame than of the cause of truth, used the 
instruments already provided with the skill of a suc- 
cessful workman. Hns is a man lost in his work, 
obHvioEs of the ambitions of self-conscious men, and 
totally removed from the jealous rivalry of the partizan. 
Wydif is like Moses on Pisgah sketching the plan of 
conquest, Hus is like Joshua carrying it out intfl 
practical effect, while both are really one in the spirit 
of the enterprise. The one had mental power, the 
otiier moral courage ; and, .just as Calvin was a greater 
dieologian than Luther, yet vastly his inferior as a re- 
ligioos reformer, so the intellectual thought of England, 


polarized into the moral energy of Bohemia, produced 
its greatest result on the Continent of Europe. Wyclif 
and Hus are twin stars of different magnitude shining 
in the dawn ; they are the reason and conscience of 
mediasval times breaking into the spiritual freedom of 
modern history, and they represent the revolt from 
blind authority to the inherent right of private judg- 
ment. The real contribution of Hus to the advent of 
the Eeformation was moral or spiritual more than intel- 
lectual ; and after all, it is character transfigured by 
conscious communion with God that is the strongest 
force in moral and religious regeneration. Hus is an 
example of ordinary ability under extraordinary con- 
viction, and even his weaknesses reveal the intense 
earnestness of his purpose. He was before all things a 
Christian patriot, he bore to the stake a stainless repu- 
tation, and he died in the heroic efifort to restore 
revelation, reason, and conscience to the throne of 
religious life. An echo will not explain that commo- 
tion at Bethlehem Chapel ; an inspiration is needful to 
account for his courage — an inspiration which is more 
than verbal likeness or dogmatic agreement, and which 
comes from a source beyond Wyclif. That crown of 
martyrdom at Constance has lifted'Hus into the sacred 
galaxy of heroic men who have fought the battles of 
humanity in the name of God ; and in letters of fire 
this confession may for ever be read in his name, 
" God alone is Lord of the conscience." 


This man has been denounced as a demagogue, sneered 
*t as u fanatic, enraed as a heretic. On tliU otlier 
hand, im has been extoUetl for liia patriotism, reverenced 
for his earnestness, and deemed worthy of a place in the 
calendar uf the Church of Home. Finally, he has been 
clumed as a precursor of the Kefoniiatioii. SjTupathy 
with this last estimate haa, it appears to ua, solid 
etbmgh foundation on which to rest. 

He stands somewhat apart. There is an evident kind 
between Hus and Wyclif. The Bohemian was obviously 
u disciple of the English Eefonner ; imd if he did not 
make an advance upon the stand taken by his master 
mch as would have brought him nearer to the position 
w!uch Luther was urged eventually to assume, if it be 
f.ven admitted that, while later in time, his work was 
net so far forward in tendency, yet the fact is incon- 
tetable that the lalwurs of Hus cannot be studied 
nitlifiut explicit reference to the teaching of Wyclif. 
Eitemally, however, Savonarola is related to neither of 
these. We have found no indication of acquaiutance 
"U his part with their lives, nor is there any trace of 
hia having been consciously inftuenced by their labours. 
His work, the result in measure of like forces bearing 


upon a man in whom there was kinship of soul, is as 
independent as it is unique. 

We are brought to the latter half of the fifteenth 
century, a period of history pregnant with interest to 
every student of the progress of humanity. Essenti- 
ally an era of transition, an age of becoming, it is 
the morning-dawn of the modem world. Long ere 
this, it is true, there had been signs of restlessness 
under the yoke of authority, dogma, and scholasticism, 
and already the spirit of freedom was stirring to its 
resurrection. As it is impossible to trace the religious 
movement back to its first beginning, so it is futile to 
attempt to fix any date as the origin of the intellectual 
unrest without which the Eeformation could not have 
been. Still, it cannot be denied that while the events 
which occurred in this epoch did not call into exist- 
ence the new life, they gave such an impulse to its 
development as that it seemed like a fresh creation. 
In no previous age was growth so signal, so great, so 
general Gutenberg had invented printing five years 
before this half-century began ; four years before it 
closed, Columbus discovered America ; and in its third 
year Mahomet II. captured Constantinople. The mo- 
ment of these three events as forces acting on thought 
becoming conscious of its liberty, there can be no danger 
of exaggerating, and it is not without reason that the 
era on which they wrought so mightily is distinguished 
as that of the Eenaissance. 

With the import of the last of these we are here 
most immediately concerned. From one point of view 
the capture of Constantinople can be regarded only as 
a dire disaster whose baleful results remain till this day. 
It meant the downfall of Christian rule in the East, and 


the substitution of an empire Lasetl on a relif,'ion8 
g«tem of whose falsity the fruita are at least one tell- j 
ing testimony. On its occurrence, however, the cata- 
strophe involved nearer consequences of Another kind. 
In one direction the Western world gained by the loss ' 
which the Eastern world suffered. For the loouasteriea 
in the East were rich in classic lore, and the scholars 
there were imbued with the leamin;^ of the past. Ex- 
iled, they crossed the Adriatic seeking an asylum in 
Italy. All the principal Courts of Europe extended a 
welcome to the refugees, but nowhere could the welcome 
have been warmer than in the land on which the 
majority of them first set foot. Italy was ready with 
a deeper sjTopathy than that which feels for distress. 
Petrarch in the past had sung of the beauties of the 
olden time and had wistfully sighed for the repose of 
the antique culture ; Boccaccio had bidden men see life 
In be sunny and free ; and before them lioth, Dante had 
awakened his countrymen to think of things that widen 
thought. The study of Plato, too, giving movement to 
speculation and quickening aspiration for knowledge, 
had been revived, and in some centres bade fair to rival 
dfiTOtion to the rigid logic of Aristotle. And this spirit 
»aa fostered by the patronage of enlightened princes 
who, Mfecenas-like, were glad to place their palaces and 
wealth at the disposal of scholars and teachers, poets 
and philosophers, painters and sculptors, that they 
might pursue their labours free from too much care. 
hi these circumstances the advent of so many ex- 
[lOnmiB of the old-world literature and ait was haded 
with almost rapturous delight. The classic revival set 
ill with full tide. Its energy was intensified to passion 
which dominated wherever it took liold. Blind old 


Bardo di Bardi, taxing the patience otMs gentle daughter 
in the library, and greeting Tito Melema with eager- 
ness when he learned of the country whence he came 
and of tlie dispositions he professed to cherish,-^ may 
well enough be believed to represent hundreds of his 
day and spirit over whom the fascination of the Ee- 
naissance had cast its spelL 

At the same time it has to be borne in mind that 
the very nature of the mental culture of this period did 
nothing to stem the flood of its moral corruption. It 
is on all hands admitted that iniquity never so abounded 
as at the time of the revival of the humanities — ^that, 
far from tending to pureness, the learning of the Ee- 
naissance served only to add an outward polish to the 
license that prevailed and which had infected all 
political and social life. The historians are unanimous 
in their witness, " neither public nor private morality 
in our sense of the word existed." ^ The most refined 
classic tone was quite compatible with the coarsest 
vices, their coarseness only covered by the haze of a 
corrupt ^stheticism. The abominations of Paganism 
were side by side with its elegancies. Popes, princes, 
prelates, priests, people, were all unrestrained in their 
courses of incest, murder, falsehood, gambling, and 
every conceivable form of wickedness, which has led to 
a comparison of this age with the days of Nero. As to 
the relation in which it stood to Christianity, perhaps 
no more suggestive illustrations can be adduced than 
the counsel of Cardinal Bembo to his friend Sadolet not 
to read the Epistles of St. Paul, whose barbarous style 
might corrupt his taste, and the fact that when on his 

^ Bomola, chap. v. vi 
2 J. A. Symonds. Eenaissance in Italy, vol. i 



return from Mantua, after a vain endeavour lo raise a 
cmsade against the infidels, Pius II. stepped ashore 
from his galley at Ferrara, the Innding-plnee waa 
adomed in honour of his Holiness by statues of the 

It can easily be anticipated that in such a condition 
of society the man fitted to do a reiigioiia work must 
be one who breatlied freely the spirit of its culture, so 
that he might commend liimself to its intelligence; who 
loathed utterly the atmosphere of its sin, so thai with- 
out suspicion he might denounce its corruption ; who 
had a firm faith in the truth which was travestied or 
treated witli neglect ; a fearlessness of any personal 
«rasequence for his genuine devotion, aiid in whose 
nature, for consecration to God and man, self must no- 
niere he. There was such a man, and it is of his 
liGToio endeavour, his almost incredible but short- 
lived success, his most touching failure, that it falls to 
M now to speak. 

Girolaino Savonarola was born at Ferrara on the 
Slat of September, 1452.^ His family was originally 
'it Padua, but on the invitation of Nicolas III., Marquis 
d'Este, Michele Savonarola, a celebrated physician, and 
nathor of several works on medicine, had come from 
hia native city to add lustre to his patron's Court. He 
was still alive when his grandson was bom, and during 
the first ten years of his life the boy, designated from 
infancy for bis profession, enjoyed a lai^e measure of 
lliB old man's regard. Of his father, Niccolo, but little 
is known. It would appear that he was not without 
good parts, inasmuch as on the death of Michele he 
lie principal authority followed is the work of Villari. 
"■'■iOBB are taken from the French, translation by Guatave 
r, PiiriH, 1874. 


was able to superintend the studies of hia son in 
scholtistie science, a subject then considered necessary 
as a preliminary to any professional calling. Beyond 
this, however, he was for the most part a hanger-on at 
the palace, and succeeded in dissipating a not incon- 
Biderable patrimony in the festivities of the CourL 
The memory of Ms mother, Elena di Buonacorsi, 
Savonarola cherished with the tenderest affection. To 
her he wrote amid the heavy triida of after-life as to 
hia only confidant, and in terms which prove how 
pure and noble he knew her to be. He was the 
lliird of seven children, but of them tdl he alone liyea 
iu history. 

Life iu Ferrara was of the gayest for aU who could 
afford to be gay, and for those who were poor, it bread 
was not provided of charity to keep them from starving, 
entertainments were furnished to give for the hour a 
sense of excitement. Borao, who swayed the city 
dui-iug the youth of Savonarola, held its people in sub- 
jection by his very munificence. To see the town eii 
fHx one would have thought that if there was anywhere 
where sorrow was not it was here. Had he gone to 
the homes of the poor, or into the cells of the fortress. 
he would have speedily recognized tlie vastness of the 
misery which lay concealed from sight. None that 
was clothed in sackcloth might enter the King's gate. 
There was no gentle sensibUity, no fellow-feeling 
geuerousness in Perrara, where there was splendour so 
lavish and luxury so ample. And there were occasions 
when extra\'agance really deceived those who shared in 
it and made them forget their constant woes. One 
such occasion fell when Savonarola was but six years 
old. It was incident to that mission of Pius IL to 


wliich allusion has already been made. Going and 
reluming the Pope rested in the city of the Est&. 
Never was spectacle more gorgeous, never emperor was 
iintre royally received, never were halls merrier and 
j'titag more brilliant and carousals cheerier than while 
(■hi! vicar of Christ tarried in the town ! Wliat matter 
ihe lavish outlay if there was a sufficient iiopreaaion of 
(ffandeur made ; what matter a dchauch for a week if 
the people were pleased and cried " Viva il Duco ! " 
IVrhaps that child saw the cavalcades from a window, 
and, us he looked, his face perliaps heamed with glee. 
We do not know how it was with him then, but this is 
certain, that scenes such as this were indelibly {^ven 
m his heart, and that the memory of them made him 
wirrowfuL As evidence of the revulsion of Ids soul 
baax all such, we have it that ha\ing onee been taken 
II/ lu8 father to a great Court festival, instead of being 
ikzded he vowed he would never again cross the 
threahold of the palace, and that at the age of twenty 
Ije had never walked on the fashionable promenade of 
Korrara, which was on the citadel where the dungeons 
Wffle down below. 

It was early evident that the purpose of bia pai-ents 
»s to his career was alien to his disposition. When he 
Wight to have been giving the energies of hia mind to 
Umj study of medicine, he was deep in thought upon 
St, Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle. Soon as the fixed 
hours of study were over (and amongst Ms fellows he 
apiiroved himself a careful, competent scholar) he 
Ititoolc himself to the paths by the river side to read 
wid muse alone. The writings of the "Angelic Doctor" 
specially won his aoul, and so thoroughly did he imbibe 
Ws teaching that in one of his sermons, lonj,' after he- 


had joined the order of the great schoolman, he can 
aay: " I am almost nothing, and even that little whicl 
I am I posaesa hecauae I have kepi within the influenc* 
of hia doctrine. He waa tnily profound, and when j 
want to become amall in my own eyes I read his worki 
and then it appears to me that he is a giant and i 
nothing." Not that he confined himself to nietaphysi* 
and theology. " He read with eagerness the anciei 
authors, wrote verses, studied drawing and muaics." ' 
Devout, too, ha prayed much in secret, and learnt b] 
heart passage after poBsage of the Scriptures, a practice 
which he continued to follow in after-daya until, ( 
several of hia hiocp-aphers attest, he had committer 
almost the whole Latin Bible to memory. Little, how- 
ever, can be said of the inward development of i 
which marked his youth. The true history of tha( 
period of any great life reduces itseK to hidden thought^ 
secret impressions, unutterable struggles of the spin) 
which we can never know. Only what we do see is a 
quiet, serioua, meditative man, melancholy as he survey! 
his surroundings, but laying, in his learning and hii 
moral tone, the basis of force for a work to which f 
higher Will than that of his parents has appointed hint 
There was a of sunshine shot athwart the 
solemn sadness of these days — only a gleam. The 
daughter of Filippo Strozzi surely forgot not only thai! 
she waa an exile in Ferrara, but that her mother had 
not been her father's wife, when she haughtily spumed 
the generous advances of young Girolamo. Poor, proud 
flutterer, in thy disdaining of ao pure a love! Yet 
methinka that thou wert even used by God to give thy 
noble lover to hia immortality. 

' Villari, i. 34. 


Savonarola felt keenly tlie unexpected rejection of 
his suit, but the mmiiier of refusal only revealed to 
him more clearly than ever the lack of true-heartedneas 
which he diBcemed eveiy where in the world, and 
renewed more strongly the incliniitiun, which had only 
been weakened for the little while, to seek elsewhere 
than in its intercourse a rest, which to him it could not 
give. That tendency gi'ew as he was caat hack upon 
himself. The line of the poet iK^au to seem as though 
it was a voice to him, 

*' Heu 1 ftige crudelea ten'ius, fugu lituH avaniin." ' 
uul as he i-epeated the words he prayed the prayer of 
another poet — 

Doiuine, iintaiu fac niihi viam in i(i:& ambuleni, 

It was at Faenza, aometimii in the year 1474, that lie 
heard the answer to the cry of his heart. Listening to 
1 sermon preached by a disaijlute monk of the order of 
Sl Augustine, he cauf^ht a wonl — -a word wliich he 
un-er spoke to auother — but wliich fixed his lesolve. 
Not till the year following did he feel ready to take 
lii6 way revealed. Sitting one evening alone witii his 
nothor, he played a plaintive melody upon his lute. 
The strain stin'ed a strange presentiment. She looked 
up hnm her work at the face so caJm and yet so sad, 
Miii said, " My son, that ia a sign iif parting." Girolamo 
eoloared, controlled himself, hut did not answer. The 
nett day, the 24th of April, 1475, Savonarola left 
hume whilst all the family were taking part in the 
feslivftl of St. George, and was received into the mona- 
Hkry (if the Dominicans at Bologna, 

iVirg. Mil, iii- 44. " Ps. txliii. 8. 


Enough lias probably been said tu indicate that this 
step was taken under no sjiaamodic impulse. It waa 
the decision of a full and mature deliberation. Were 
it possible to question this, any doubt is set at rest by 
a letter of apology ivhicli he wrote to his father two. 
days after liis admission to the convent. That letter 
gives the reasons for the choice he had made. " The 
motives which determine me are these : the great 
misery of the world, the iniquity of men, the rapes, the 
adulteries, the robberies, the pride, idolatry and awful 
blasphemy. The age is so depraved that good is 
nowhera , . . From one end of Italy to the other I' 
saw vii-tue in contempt, vice in honour."^ Similar 
sentiments found expi-ession in a short poem whict^ 
bears the title " De Jiuind Muiidi," and the date of the 
previous year. 

From the very outset, however, he seems to havrf 
liad another conviction than that of the teixible degra^- 
dation of his native land — to have had, indeed, a measure 
of the prophetic consciousness which became the veiy 
inspiration of his future life. In that same letter ha' 
tells his father that in a spot near the window of his 
room he will find some papers upon which he has 
written the record of his thoughts. One of these cl 
thus — " The righteous are oppressed, and the Italians 
are become like the Egyptians, who kept in bondage the 
people of God. Already dearths, floods, plagues and. 
many other signs forebode evils to come, announce the 
wrath of God. Open, Lord, open anew the waters 
of the Ued Sea and gulf the godless in the waves erf 
Thine anger." 

Thus, then, at the age of twenty-three, recoiling from 
'Vilhri, ii. 447. Appendix. 


tie scandalous wickedntas of the world, not a nmiu 
moody misanthrope, but a hater only of men's Bin, a 
nmn^with discernment of the signs of the times, a man 
Osgood intellectual calibre, of imhIeniiBheil moral char- 
acter, of a profoundly religious disposition, enters upon 
his noviciate, and little more than twelve months froui 
Uie day of his coming to the cloisters vows to be poor, 
chaste, and obedient. 

It can scarcely have been in ignorance of the 
cwmptions of the Church that Savonarola sought this 
rest from the evil of the vforld. Or if it was so, that he 
lioped to find holiness here, the delusion must have been 
sam dispelled. For very shortly after he took on him 
■nonaatic vows he told out his horror of the abysm of 
moral depravity in which it was sunk. The verses Di- 
Itnijid Ecclesiae are cast in the form of a dialogue. The 
poet demands of a chaste virgin — the Church — where 
be the saints, the teachers, the love, the learning of tlaytt 
bygone? The maiden takes him by the hand, leads 
Mm to a cave, and speaks: "When I saw pride and 
ambition get to Eome's heart, soiling all, I distanced 
far, and shut me here that I may pass my life in 
weeping." Then she shows him the scars and bruises 
•m hex breast, and after further collof[uy concerning 
tlie proud harlot who has so disfigured her, Savonarola 
Mtere an apostrophe so suggestive, when read in the 
Tefle«ted light of his later labour : " God, could these 
great wings be broken I " " Weep and be silent, for 
this is best," bids the maiden. Weep the monk might : 
wleni he could not always remain, though for a time be 

U such were the emotions of the young friar they 
must have been made yet more intense by an event of 



llie year 1478, We refer to the Pazzi conspiracy. 
Of its causes nothinf; need here be said. The facta 
(ire briefly tliose ; Death was decreed for the brothers 
Medici. At w/as in Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence 
Uiuliano was stabbed. Lorenzo escaped, wounded, tw 
the sacristy, for the stiletto wliich the priest was to; 
plungti to his heart did not go home. It was a 
cardinal wiio Imd plaiineil the assassination. It was' 
Pope Sixtua IV. who, ui the liopu of advancing hia family 
interests, had more than sanctioned the sacrilego. 
Ijorenzo took a terrible revenge. More than two 
hundred conspirators, actual and suspected, 
executed. The Archbishop of Pisa swung in hia 
clerical robes from a window in the Palazzo Vaechia 
Then the Pope replied by hurling his anathema against 
the city where his scheme of nepotism had failed. Tba 
tidings of all this sped throughout Italy, and one caa 
conceive how they must have afleeted a man who 
already knew and felt the iniquity of those evil times 
as he pondered in his cell Savonarola, however, v 
not yet prepared for his endeavour. His convent lifef 
in Bologna extends over a period of seven years— years 
of sustained study in Aristotle and Plato and the 
Bible — years during wluch he wrote several of those 
treatises on science and philosophy which disclose the 
grasp and aubtdty of his intellect — during wliich, too, 
he covered the maigin of his copies of the Seripturea 
with notes in a hand so cramped and in eontractiong 
so ill^ble, that for tlie most part they bear a dumb 
witness to hia devotion, but which also, so far as they 
can be deciphered, evince a fine union of critical faculty 
with spiritual feebug. They were years, also, during 
which, for that his superiors were quick to discern 1 



fitness, lie taught the novicea, diacharcpng so ahly tiie 
functions pf " lettore " as lo command the respect of 
his pupils for his genius, and to win theii- affection by 
his gentleness. He began, ti:io, to preach on occasions 
■luring this period, only, however, to pass through a 
not isolated experience of a fire burning within, while no 
warmth seemed to glow in kindled utterance. The 
iiionntain had not yet been touched that it might 
smoke.' For the rest, it must suffice Co say that lie 
kept faithfully the vows lie had taken on liini, and that 
not from the outward restraint of their imposition, but 
from the inward imperative of his moral nature. 
Physically he was constitutionally delicate and suffered 
(mm his asceticism ; not a stain of unpurity was con- 
tacted ; his submission was worthy of l>etter superiors 
^lan those to whom it was huplicitiy rendered. He 
lisd conceived a high ideal of the true son of the 
Qiuich, the servant of Christ, and, even though he saw 
Ihe miserable contradiction of it in others who professed 
til cherish it, his aim was that for himself he might 
nalize it ever more fully, as, when afterwards he 
(loquired his influence, he strove to raise all over whom 
lie was set to a like consistency. 

It was not in sombre Bologna that Fra Girolamo 
*as destined to fulfil his mission, but in the bright 
rapital of Tuscany, beyond the Apennines. He came 
Ui Florence for the first time in 1482. It was the 
"lily kingdom in the north of Italy in which there was 
then no political embroilment, for, while Venice, 
Penura, Genoa, and Milan were in arms, Florence, 
lluoks to the prudent poHcy of her prince, was able 
to maintain an honourable neutrality. Hither, then, 
^Psalm csliv. 5. 


for persoiiiil safety, Savonarola waa sent, warmly cota- 
mended by the Dominicans of Bologna to their 
brethren in San Marco. The commendation, indeed, 
was not needed except as a formal introduction of one 
whose name was already well esteemed as that of aa 
umaiuent of the order. 

The monastery, from whose inmates he received- 
cordial greeting, waa famous. Given to the Dominicans 
by the illuatrioua Cosimo de' Medici, it had been designed 
hy Miehelozzi, one of the most celebrated architects of his 
day. The valuable collection of MSS. made by Niccolo 
Niccoli had been purchasetl by the same prince, and 
retaining some of these for himself, he made over the 
larger number to the convent, thus entitling it to the 
claim of possessing the first public library in the land, and 
in the age of the Renaissance attracting to its cloiatera 
the foremost scholars of the tima San Marco had been 
dignified, also, by the piety of Antonino, its first prior, &■ 
man who with his early disciples approached very near 
to the ideal of monastic life which Padre Marcheae had 
expressed in his words : " What is the use of the 
cloister in the midst of society M it is not a focus and 
centre of morality and religion, diffusing and planting 
deep in the hearts of the people ideas of honesty, 
justice and virtue, in order to temper and hold in 
balance the brutal force of the passions which threaten 
continually to absorb all the thoughts and affections of 
men ? " It is to this good prior that Florence owes 
the institution of the " Good Men of S. Martin," who 
to this day gather the offertories at the street-corners 
and distribute the charity amongst the city poor. 
There was another noble name early identified with the 
monastery — the name of I'ra Angelico, His marvelloua 




are not jet too fajled to speak their silent 
eloquence of the aulierings and triumphs of the Go<l- 
tn&n, and when Savonarola first came they were all in 
flieir early freshness. 

Coming from the gloomier environments of Bologna 
to lake up Me ahode in this Athens of Italy — from the 
drearier precincts of the monastery there to the bright 
dfiisters of this convent — from the society of ruder 
monks to intercourse with the brelhrun who were 
Etndents of letters, and who in their converse revered the 
memoiy of holy Antoniiio — Savonarola, we ai'e told, was 
charmed. As he came to know Florence and San Marco 
better the charm was dispelled. Hia new home was soon 
to be liis field of conflict, of victory, and of defeat. 

All that has already been said regarding the con- 
dition of Italy in general, and of Ferrara in particular, 
applies with special force to Florence. We are not called 
upon to trace the steps of her history as t!ie freest of 
ill the old Italian republics, Venice only excepted, 
walked into a willing bondage so thorough that she 
inbmitted to the despotism of one house for three 
generations, so wonderful that she was all the wfiile 
nnconscioua of her loss of liberty. It was by the 
lavish use of his wealth that Cosimo de' Merlici forged 
ihe fetters with which he bound her to his sway — a 
sway albeit wise and righteous. For although he 
gradually secured the monopoly of everj' appointment 
to civil office which had formerly lain with the citizens 
convened in " Parlamento," it may freely be allowed 
Uiat his judgment was quite as politic for conserving 
the interests of the State as his ambition was resolute 
to aecnre the supremacy of his family. It was not 
possible, however, to pursue political ambition after 



the fashion of liberal patronage without ilepraving 
those whose suhjection was solicited ; and tho result, if 
not so apparent in the days of the founder of the 
tyranny, had become terribly evident wheji Lorenzo > 
" the Magnificent," in the third generation, was able as 
though by hereditary right to asatime the despotism 
without .1 whispL^r of dissent Of his character, it can 
only be said that it combined the best and worst 
features of Ida time. The partiality of hia English 
biograplier' lias led hiia to pronounce a panegyric which 
caimot stand the criticism of history. With very much 
of it no fault can be found. Of Lorenzo's sagacity as 
a statesman there is no doubt ; the peace and prosperity 
of his princedom in an era when constant feuds were 
elsewhere prevalent, were in large measure due to his 
clear-sighted policy. Himself a scholar (trained in 
early days under Ficiuo, the exponent of Flatonism in 
the Florentine Academy), he did all that wealth and 
sympathy could do to encourage learning. A fine 
artistic taste set him to secure the services of the best 
paintei's and scidptoi-a of the age to enrich his halls ■ 
and gardens. All this and much more in like direction 
can he admitted. But that does not complete the true 
portrait of the man. There are ample gi'ounds upon 
which the following description can be demonstrated 
as not more vivid by its few strokes than correct in its. 
general tenor : " A man of superb health and phy- 
sical power, who can give himself up to debauch all 
night without interfering with his power of working ' 
all day, and whose mind is so versatile that he 
can .sack a town one morning and discourse upon 
the beauties of Plato the next, and weave joyous 
' RoacoB, Life of Lorenzo de Medici. 



ballads through lifith occupations." ' We venture 
to add : who can write a letter full of pious 
eonnsels to his son in the morning, and at iiiglitfall 
bead a band of boon i-evellers through the streets of 
Florence, and who is probably quite as conseientions 
when he does the former aa he is abandimeil when Ue 
does the latter. It is quite necessary tc) insist upon 
this, for Koseoe's estimate of Savonarola ia darkened 
in line just iu proportion to the brilliancy of colour 
vfith which he paints Lorenzo de' Medici. The testi- 
mony is convincing that, with no lack of culture, with 
A true perception of the beautifid in art, with a certain 
iiiagnanimity, with a cautious faculty of control, witJi 
fiven a tinge of emotionalism, he was destitute of all 
steadfast moral principle, not to aay of religious faith. 
On»s needs only to read some of the lewd CaiUi 
Oamaleschi which he wrote, to be ahnckeil at the 
IPTOStitution of hjs genius. And if it be held to be too 
gntve a charge to prefer against him that he was 
'liiectly responsible for the degi'sdation of his subjects, 
[or their gross sensualism, their luiblushing profligacy, 
their sheer disregard of moral sanctions, their rusted 
infideUty beneath the smooth enamel of refined 
religionism, still it must be a valid indictment that 
not only (lid he in nowise use the influence at liis 
rommand to keep the flood within baniers closer than 
W respect to pohtical security, but that his personal 
countenance of iniquity was a force to the popular 
license, which it is hard to call other than an encourage- 
ment. The fact at least is estabhsbed that, under his 
wle, Florence, not merely inteEectually and assthetically, 
Imt not less morally, was paganized. 

•Mrs Oiiphaut, The Makers of Florence. 



Savonarola's tirst pulpit iippeai'aiicbs in the gay 
metropolis were disappointing to the Dominicans and 
disheartening to himself. Little more than a score of 
hearers were found willing to listen to him in San 
Lorenzo, while San Spirito could not accommodate the 
crowds that flocked to hear Fra Mariano, a clerical 
"browser in the Medicean I'ark."^ The polished stylB 
of the Court preacher, as he treated with all the aids of 
studied oratory some theme as far removed from men's 
consciences as possible, who sympathized with the con- 
ception of preaching aa one of the fine arts, and waa 
careful beyond all else to avoid giving offence to deli- 
cate senaibihtiea, pleased the ilitc, and those who aped 
the tone of the ilHe. followed the fashion. Fra Giro- 
lamo'a ponderous expositions, spoken with harsh voice 
and ungainly gesture, loaded, too, at this time with a 
burden of scholastic " fivefold sense," fell flat upon 
the cultured society of Florence ; for still the inspira^ 
tion tarried that should make his words penetrate the 
crust of complacency to reach the passions of the heai't 

For the moment Savonarola seems to have questioned 
his call and to have been so crushed by his failure that 
he resolved to confine himself to the work of teachii^, 
in which he had achieved conspicuous success. The 
consciousness of a mission, however, could not be re- 
pressed. It strengthened while he kept vigUa, fasted, 
prayed, and, concentrating the forces of Ms soul upon 
the Bible, waited for the vision. 

It came at last. Humours reached Florence of a 

revival of religion in San Gemigniano and Brescia and 

other villages and towns where the less sophisticated 

nioimtaineers and the more impressionable provincials 

' Komola, c. vii, 



wure being moved by the fervent predictions of tlie 
Wother of San Marco, who declared that, as God haii 
i)f old dealt Bore chaatiseraent upon His people for their 
wickedness. His judgments upon Italy were near at 
tuuid. Then Giovanni Fico della Miiandola, tliat 
" prodigy of intelligence," " Phcenix of geniuses," ' it 
man who, at the age of twenty-tliree, had mastered not 
imly Latin 'and Greek, hut several of the Eastern 
languages, and whose nauu! for learning was acknow- 
tolged beyond the bounds of Tuscany, came from lieggio 
U) tell Lorenzo that at a chapter tliere he had heard a 
luonk whose words had stirred strange springs of 
thought in him, and to b^ the Prince to bid the fiiar's 

That Dominican chapter at Eeggio is virtually the 
turning-point in Savonarola's career. It is interesting 
ill learn of the part he took in the deliberations. 
Whfle dogma was discussed his lips were sealed. To 
iiiiu doctrinal precision was not the clamant need of 
llie age. But when tlie debate turned on discipline lie 
rase. " His voice trembled, and, like thunder, terrified 
ihe auditots, silent and spell-bound. He stigmatized 
llie corruption of the clergy, and so let himself be 
larried away by the impetuosity of Ids words that lie 
liaj difSculty in coming to a close. Everyone gazed 
uii him as an extraordinary man, animated by a liigher 
npirit." ' 

Nor is it less interesting to think of the significance 
ut the impression made upon Pico, an impression which 
'Wpened aa intimacy became closer, and wliich was so 
fwil that only a premature death prevented the scholar 
from becoming a monk. For " it was, so to speak, the 
'Villari, i. 116. "Villari, i. 120. 



first point at which tlie Frate had touchetl the men of 
the new learning/'^ And to the last Savonarola hail 
Menda like him who were able to appreciate the union 
of religious enthusiasm anfl intellectual cidture in the 
man they admired. 

For the present, however, aa we tracfi the course of 
external events, the importance of this crisia lies in 
this, that it prepared the way for a favourable reception 
to Savouarola, invited by Lurenzo, and esteemed by Pico. 

This waa in 1486, and there is a gap in the history 
containing the record of no events of much moment. It 
extends over four years, during which he seems to have 
been almost entirely absent from the monastery. It is 
impossible that these years can have been other thfi.ii 
amongst the most fruitful of force to himself, but we 
can read anytlung of their aecreta only in the light of 
the work that was done after tliey closed. 

In 1490 he returned to San Marco, only, liowever, 
at first to resume his lectures within its walla. Pressed 
to open his prelections to others than the inmates, he 
foimd ere many weeks had passed that the raom in 
which he taught was mucli too smaR for Ida increasing 
audience, and, imder a damask roac-tree in the garden 
of the convent, he began his exposition of the Apoca- 
lypse to a circle of bearers, who stood or sat ixiimd hini 
riveted by tlie teacher's power. They implored him 
to preach, and, at length, overcoming a diffidence, due, 
probably, to the memory of the past, he yielded to their 
entreaties. At the close of lecture on the first 
Saturday in August he intimated simply, " To-morrow 
we shall speak in the church ; our discourse will be at 
once a lesson and a aermon." 

'Prebendary Clark, Savotiarola, His Life and Times, p, 75. 



The next day the capficity of the convent i.liiirch 
was taxed to the utmost to contain the crawd. Tlie 
motives, donbtless, were various. Many were already, 
as we have seen, devotedly attached to the leitffre — 
mgre, perhaps, were urged by curiosity to see and hear 
the nian that Mirandola had praised ; some, perhaps, 
were prompted by the tidings of the provincial revival, 
and were desirous to learn, Uke the Athenians, what 
new doctrine was disturbing men's tranquillity. Con- 
jecture is easy when the mobile temper of the Floren- 
tines is considered. Be this aa it may, none wlio 
came that morning could ever forj^et the scene or tlie 

What like was the preacher ? Not lidl, hut erect ; 
iinely-liinbed, but not robust; sallow and ^vuu with 
jmars of anxious waiting. But it is a wonderful face. 
Tlie forehead would be high but for the fun'ows ; the 
iBshea are long and dark ; the deep-set blue eyes are large, 
like windows of a great, pure soul ; the nose is heavy, 
md like that of the sons of Israel ; and the wide 
MoatL, with its broad lips, silently tells of power. 
When the massive features are in repose there seems 
the mip^on of a smile about them.' But when tite lips 
part and the eyes gleam and the thin transparent hand 
points its long tapering fingers, one coidd imaguie that 
it was as though they were piercing an entrance for the 
words and looks into the hearers' conscience. Effort 
lifter oratorical effect there was no more now than there 
was years ago, but there was the free eloiiueuce of a 
laan possessed by his theme commanding tlie submis- 
sion which no rhetoric without conviction can secure. 
Savonarola's sermon on that day insisted upon 
' See the portrait in The Makers of Florence, p. S43. 



tliree propositions, the earnest enforcement of which 
liad been the cause of hia success in the highlands of 
Tuscany and elsewhere iluring liis preaching tours, and 
whicli were at the foundation of all his future achieve- 
ments in Florence. They were as follows : — 

1. The Church is to be renewed in our tima 

2. God will bring a great scourge on Italy before 

this renewal. 

3. Both these things will happen very soon, 
Tliat was the Inirden of Iiis message to Italy, and when 
Florence first heard it in 1490 she began already to 
believe it. Villari says of the immediate effect: "The 
success was complete. In every circle Florentine 
society spoke only of Savonarola ; the learned as in an 
instant abandoned Plato, to discuss the merits of the 
Christian preacher." These last words indicate the 
natiu-e of this initial complete success. Fra Girolamo 
had awaltened interest and criticism. It remained to 
win moral consent. 

Aa he had had to pass from the lecture-room to the 
garden, from the garden to the ehnrcb, so now he was 
soon compelled by the popular excitement to pass to the 
CfithedraL There, beneath Eninelleschi's splendid dome, 
which one of his hearers and afterwards one of his 
most ardent followers declared to be aa noble, if not so 
large, as the vastest in the world which he himself 
designed,^ Savonarola, fired with prophetic certainty, 
cried aloud to Florence, "The kingdom is at hand; 
repent, repent, repent!" And as ho exposed the vices 
of the land and pictured in language all aglow with 

'Michel Aiigelo'a comparison of tlie dome of S, Peter's at 
Rome with that of the Duomo ot Florence: "Ka grande, ma 
lion pin belin." 


passion the acl\eiit of Di\-iiie puiifyiiif; \ i.'iigettnci!. 
Florence was fasciuated iii anxiety. The am]ienc«s in 
Son Spirito dwindled when the elegant Mariaiici aii'ed his 
iwmonizing talents, the Duomo was densely packed its 
the earnest monk denounced luxury and sin, preached 
tighteousnees and tenipurancu and judgment, and then, 
softening his sharp tones, with tearful tenderness com- 
mended the loie of Christ 

In endeavouring to account for thb quickening of 
iiitoiiat it has to be kept in mind that iniciuity had 
"Mttined startling proportions in the last years of the 
century. We \\&\% not space to enlarge on the fact, 
Uil one incident is worth volumes of platitude. luno- 
wnt VIII. filled the Pontifical chair, and he was 
uo purist. Yet even be was forced to think of reform. 
And this is the reform he attempted. He re\'ived 
•n edict of Pius II. forbidding " priests to keep 
avems, playhouses or brothels, or to act as paid 
«renl« of courtesans." Men wei'e sunken, indeetl, but 
Tl»D evil had j;(aie lengths like that, it would be 
"Inuige if, wlien it was laid hare, there should be 
i» fear, however ^agiia Beyond this it must be 
Uliced that Savonarola proclaimed the imminence 
*'' the cleansing judgments. He was not the first 
Vi lift a warning voice. Vincent Ferrier, Bernardino 
uf Siena, Bussolari, Capistrano and others hud preached 
wisades against sin in various parts of Italy, and had 
pmlicted disaster as sure to hefaL Fra Girolamo, 
Wevor, lifted foreboding out of the mist of iudefinite- 
MW. The catastrophe and the cure were Imth to 
liippen " very soon " " in our time," and thus by 
'Wiaring the nearness of these he wielded a power 
*hich their indiatmct assertions lacked. Just when 


evil was at its woi'st his words proclaimeJ that doom. 
waa at the door, adding to the force of fear the influ- 
ence of hope that when the atorm waa over thera 
woidd he the wreck only of corruption. 

Moreover, we cannot join liands with those who 
seek to minimize the claim winch Savonarola advanced 
to have received revelationa from t!od. No doubt 
many special predictions have been attributed to him 
which are obviously to be discredited and relegated t 
the category of legend. No doubt, also, he did not e 
the very outset of his career explicitly maintain th 
certainty of hia three assertions as other than cihi 
elusions from hia study of Bible hiatory and thi 
exercise of hia reason. But that these three propoBi' 
tions were believed by him to be (Ind-given, thtf 
as he continued to unfold and illustrate them he ii 
the most unqualified language so averred, no one cai 
deny. And to place that fact in the background is b 
<ieprive us of one aid to the explanation alike 
his success and hia failure. It has only to be adde( 
that while cynicism must perforce write down one wIk 
makes such a claim a fanatic,^ the evidence 

Savonarola's work is to the end that it was consiate 

with the most rational views of human life, and tin 
most pi-actical endeavours for the good of men. 

When in 1491 the Prior of San Marco died, th( 
brethren with one conseat chose Fra (Jirokmo 
be their Superior, This election at once brought hi 
into contact with Lorenzo, who, as some say, hai 
already evinced some uneasmesa at the hold which t 
preacher was nbtainuig on the people. The evidenc 
(if tins, however, is not sufficiently cleai-, imd, 
■ B.'iyle, Critical Dictionary. 

SA voNA/wiA. i : r% 

wmtiniiwl hy oil thnt fulluws, it is at least quite as 
probable that " The Magnificent " had even oonceived 
no incipient respect for the leameil aiitl intereBtinf; 

It Jiad been the ciiatoni of fill fonrier priors to go to 

.otmrt on their election to ottice Uy ilii nheisaiK'e. 

■Sftvonarola, on lieing reiiiiudcc] of bis duty by the 

elders of the order, bluntly replieil, " I owe my election 

Ut God ; to Him alone shall I pi-omise siibiiiission." 

Lorenzci, leaminj^ fif the refusal, saitl to aonie of his 

cunrtieTs in a half-amused tone which (mvered his 

chagrin, " See, a stranger has come to my house 

and does not deign even to visit uie," The vexation. 

nevertheless, whs due not so mucli to a feeliuft of 

insalt as to a sense of tlisappointniejit, and to the 

credit of Lorenzo it nnist be said ihnt instead iif 

ttiinking of retaliation he wiis prompted to seek ac- 

tiuuntance with the monk who had so set use and 

wmt at defiance. He went to mass at San Marco 

and tlien after service hovered about the gardens of 

Uie uiouaatery. Savonarola, infonued of the fai'l, 

iiji|uireil, " Has he asked for me?" "No," "Then 

!■ I him enj()y his walk." The convent coHers began to 

-.IiUlt with golden pieces. The prior sent the Prince's 

I'ii.^ents to the " good men " to be given to the poor. 

<\ all the while that Lorenzo was thus devising 

win reganl, the preacher preached, hurling his 

uivi^ctives with uncompromising plainness of utterance 

Kittinat tlie iiunioralities of court and clei'gy, not in 

*ilil aimless declamation, but with definite exposure of 

iu'Uvidnal vices, and with a directness of referenct! 

*lach not unreasonably excited alarm, Still Lorenzii 

Wiw not iiiiaded to declare war. A deputation was 



w.miuii.'Miyniiil, caiitiiiiietl to coiicenl whouce they cRiiie 
It waa ciniJiToaed of five noble citizens of Florence, wht 
havinv sought and obtainet! audience, b^ged Savonaiolt 
1L3 lie cared for the peace of the city to moderate Ii 
tone, insiiiuatin{i that by ao iloing he wotild com 
also Ids personal safety. They failed to deceive 1 
perception. " J fear not your threats. Go, t 
Lorenzo that thoufjli I lie a strai^r in the 1 
while he is its chief citizen I must stay; lie must ga"; 

In spite of tliia dauntless attitude with r^ 
to personal peril it is worthy to be noticed I 
Savonarola at this jH>int (.lalmly i-eviewcd the positioi 
to which hia outspokeunesa was surely leading, and d' 
so with a momentary misgiving as to the issue. Bl 
even considered with himself whether he might no 
remain true to his mission, while in some measure Iw 
yielded to the re(]uest which had lieen prefer 
He told the people, in a senuou, preached about thi 
tijue, that he hail endeavoured to perauade himsel 
to this effect, but that even aa he prayed be seomcd b 
hear the rebuke : " Fool ! dnst thi>u not see that Go( 
wills thee to follow the same path 'i " Sucli an inoideil 
deserves to have a place given tn it in any testimoii] 
which enables us to determine our verdict as to th( 
Mobriety of judgment which ciaimiterized hia iutensi 

Foiled in tins effiji't, with the same denunciations of 
wickedness ringing in bis ears, and aware of the 
increasing ascendancy of the preacher, Lorenzo tool 
action in another directitju which was not noble, 
Mariano was ordered to combat Savonarola's teacliin) 
in tlie pulpit of San Gallo. Nothing loth to make t 
attempt for the resuscitation of his waning popularitj* 


tiie Franciscan complied. The fact, was 8t»iii kiidwii, 
and the church was fiill Takiup as hia tost tlio 
words, " It is not for you to know the times ut tlitr 
seasons," he attacked the doctrine of the three proposi- 
tions, but with so much acrimony, euch evident per- 
sonal anvBius, such palpable miarepreaentatiou, that 
even the partizans of the Medici were (lisgusted, and 
amnbers who had cherislied some suspicion of 
Savonarola's integrity were induced to esp<juae his 
taioae. It only rerpui'ed that the Prior should dis- 
omirse upon the same text to convert, what wan 
designed to be a crushint,' humiliation intii a signal 
vicUiry. Mariano, smart infj under defeat, invited 
Savonarola tii celebrate mass with him. The cele- 
Imtion took place, but soon afterwards Mariano left 
Flnrence for Rome, and there restlessly wrought to 
cumpnss the ruin of the man he hated with fiendish 
^te, and whom he did not hesitate to call an agent of 
the devil. 

There is but one more scene between the Prior and 

(he Prince of which to tell. Tjoreuzo knows that he is 

Jying. The gem-potion of Lazzaix) da Ficiuo cannot 

Stoy the disease; the philosophic comfort of Poliziano 

twuut eahu his fears; mi cleric sycophant can slirive 

lii give him peace. " Send ftjr tlie prior of Han Marco ; 

be B the only true monk I kiii.iw." .Sn whispering, as 

h* lay on his death-berl, Ix)renao de' Me^liei reveals the 

nal esticera which for months he had silently clierished 

Itt the man who had challenged his wickedness. 

Hsving been assureil of the gotnl fnith of a summons 

l«) TOiild scarcely creiht, Savonarola came to tlie 

tpkiidiil villa of ('areggi and into the rjcldy furnished 

thaniln?r of death. I^irenzo confessed, and askeil ab- 


solution for the sack of Vultorra, the eonfisentioii of tlie 
fiiiida banked tu urovide dowries for tlie poorer ttii'ls of 
Florence, and the massacre of tlie inuiKJeiit with the 
jfiiUty iu the revenge which followed the Pazzi con- 
spiracy. Savonarfjla demanded three things of the 
]ieniteut — First, faith in the infinite mercy of God; 
Ijorenzo avowed his utter confidence. Second, the 
restitution of all iE-gotten gains ; after a pause, the 
prince consented. " Snvonarola raised himself to \as- 
full height, and, while the dying man cowered 
trembling on liis couch, the austere UtmiinJcan added, 
' Lastly, liberty must be restored tfi Flnrenca' " LtMs 
enzo tiu'ned his back to the confessor and was silent 
SiivMiarula left without bestowing the l.ioom Soon 
after he left " The Magnitieent " waa no more.' 

The attitude of Savonarola seems harsh and unfeel- 
ing. But full accoimt must be made of the fact that 
he held the despotism which Liirenzct had exercised 
to be not oidy a jiolitical wrong but a moral injury. 
And we have already indicated our sj-mpathy with that 
estimate. He read the histniy of Florence during tb« 
past years as it told not of the nsurpation of a people's 
civil rights alone, but as it showed also the wreck o 
religions sentiment. In his ^'iew the two were indis- 
solubly joined, and he eoukl not have been tnie to his 
deepest cnnvietions had he given tlie faintest semblance 
of countenance to the continuance of a tyranny which 
sapped the foundations of pure social life, and which 
so long as it existed presented an insunnoimtable 
barrier to the salvation of men'.s souls. Ere thif 
course of lectures closes, the story will be ttdd iA 

'Thia account ia prefened after Hitting of eviileiice. 



another reformer who would not liend beffirc ii boaiili- 
ful but imperious Queen. If a parallel in mure 
familiar histoiy to this less known intercourse of the 
Florentine Prior and Prince may be suggested, let some 
features of sucli be sought in the relations of John 
Kaox to Mary Queen of Scots. 

Our apace forbids more tlian a few sentences re- 
counting the events in the history of Florence wiiich 
led tu the utmost of Savonarola's success. Lorenzo 
■lied ill 1492, He was succeeded by his son Piero, 
as incompetent to govern as his father had been 
capable, as imprudent as he had been cautious, as 
vacillRting as he had been firm, aud with all the love 
n( doniiuion, aU the longing for di3|)lay, all the passion 
for self-indulgence which had marked Ixirenzci's char- 
acter. The citizens became conscious of a despotism 
tJiey had not felt before, while the sermons of Fra 
liirolamo, daily more pointed and fei-vid in the interests 
of rigliteousness and freeiloin, gained to their own in- 
herent power fi'om the sense of oppression and the 
spectacle of the tjTant's sin. The visitation of God 
WM drawing nigh, and as he proclaimed its advent, the 
people began eagerly to lorjk for its coming. Two 
jeara of endurance, and then Savonai'ola declared that 
the instrument of divine anger was Charles VIII. of 
France. He had crossed the Alps to undertake that 
lanious expedition in furtherance of his title, as a scion 
(it the house of Anjou, to the throne of Naples, that 
"excursion " of which one wishes that the historian of 
Ifce "Decline and Fall of the Eoman Empire" had 
been spared to write. Piero had at first resolved to 
ade with the claims of Arragon, but on the approach 
'J the French anny he changed his mind and hastened 



to the canip tn surrender five of the fortresses of T 
cany that Florence might be spared, On receipt of th 
tidings of these terms the smouldering passions of th 
citizens burst. In a few days I'iero de' Medici 
biased owt of the town, saved from a worse fate by 
crninselB of Savonarola, who assuaged the jiopular fur 
by reminding the people that the hand of God was 
the mission of the monarch. 

Piero Capponi had spokeu bravely the AviU 
Florence when he had declared for the deposition 
the traitor-tyrant, and now he spoke their will agai 
when, recoimuen<linfi an embassy to Charles, he addei 
" And above all tilings let us not fail to send along wil 
the other ambassadors Father (jirolamo Savonarola, wh 
now possesses the entire affection of the people." Thi 
counsel was followed, and the preacher solenml 
charged the king to be faithfid to the divine con 
mission with which he was entrusted. So profoun 
was the impression made by the earnest appeal, thi 
(Jhai'les pledged himself not only to pass throng 
Florence in peace, but on his return to restore to hi 
her own — a pledge the latter portion of which 1 
never redeemed. Then when, having entered the citj 
the invacier seemed loth to leave, when he threatene 
to exact harder conditions, and if they were not accedt 
to, to " sound hia trumpets," Capponi fairly cowed th 
little blusterer by his inamortal retort, " And we wi 
ring our bells " ; but it was the persuasion of Savoni 
rola that induced the God-sent nuui to depart. 

And so the crisis passed. The strong despotism \ 
more than sixty years was at an end ; the danger i 
conquest by France was averted ; Florence was fra 
and not a drop of blood, Medicean, French, or Florei 


121 ' 

tine, hart been shed. Nor tain it be rti'iiiml that all ihm 
IimI been mainly accomplished by the patriotism, the 
intrepidity, the calmness, the religious foree of the 
Doininican monk. 

Much, however, remained to be done. A new con- 
Mtitution bail to be established. Of wliat kind shoidd 
it be ? A limited democracy, aaid the voice in the 
cathedral pulpit, and the vast majority coneurred. 
A Christoeracy ! cried Savonarola, and Jesus (Jhrist 
was proclaimed King of Florence. Tliis last licautiful 
idealism must not be confounded with any lliuuHht of 
wdeeiastical domination. To the mind of the man 
who expressed it, civil authority did not belong to the 
'Jhurch to seek. In one passage he ajiaiks in language 
uhogether remarkable. " That which lias so thoroughly 
Rimipted the Church ia the temporal power. When 
Bie Church was poor she was holy ; when the temporal 
power was given to her the spiritual piwer crnmbled 

Nor, again, was it at all inconsistent with ([iiiet, 
piactical sagacity in the direction of affairs of the State. 
. Four principles of the new Itepublic were, propoundeil 
bj the preacher — ^firat, the fear of God and tfie refor- 
naiion of manner.?; second, the care of the public 
wed rather than of private interests ; third, an amnesty 
bt bH political offenders ; fourth, a General Cmmcil on 
Ihe model of that of Venice, without a Uoge, consisting, 
however, only of those whose ancestors had filled some 
civil office. Then a law of appeal in capital cases was 
enacted, an equitable system of taxation was introduced, 
nieaaurea prohibiting vice were passed, woi'k wns pro- 
videil for the poor — everything, inileed, was dune that 



w:is pnssilile tri x>roteet the liberty that had Iieeii 
secured aiiil tu conserve purity iu the free city. And 
for B time the historj' of the pahuy diiys of the past 
seemed to he repeated in the experience of the people, 
and they reverenced the great, good man who had 
broken their cliaius. For in all Savonarola did it was 
not of himself he thought ; not for pay or power did 
he labour, but only for Florence. Never did he 
come to a meeting of tlie Siijuoria except 1 
was requested ; he did all by the power of hia preach- 
ing, and prompted alone by the ambition to see the 
citizens living pnrely and peaceably. We feel safe in 
affirming that Savonarola was absrdutely unselfish in 
hia patriotiBnL A demagogue, if you will, but only in 
the sense that he had the cause of the people at heart, 
and by hia wise eoimsel sought to win them tu the 
adoption of an order of government, which he deemed 
the best to promote their well-being, anxious, above all, 
that political conditions might be such as to advance' 
the kingdom of Christ iu the hearts of men. 

Meanwhile the monastery had undergone a thorough 
refonn. In the year 1492 Savonarola succeeded in 
securing a brief which separated the Dominican con- 
gregations in Tuscany from those in Lonibardy, to 
whose Vicar- Geuei^al they had hitherto beeu subject. 
This severance, accompanied by his election to be Vicar 
of the Florentine congregation, placed the Prior of Saa 
Marco iji a position of authority, whiuh enabled him to 
correct the abuses that prevailed. Ho gently did he 
deal with the brethren, and with earnestness so singlo' 
that they obeyed under the constraint of lova His 
own monastery was his tirst care. It had amassed con- 
siderable wealth, and though the words tif Antonino 


were inscribed on its walls, "May luy curse uiiil 
that ot God fall oii hiiu who shall briiiy posaessioiis 
into this onler," the muiiastic vow of jxjverty had 
come to be regarded aa a mere form of iiiitiatioii. 
Property had fostered luxury, luxury bred iuduleuce 
and vauity and cleclinijig spirituality. In a letter 
to his mother, which bears date 1 0th September, 
1493, Savonarola speaks of the reformation which was 
in progress, and tells her of the general inconsistencies 
which call for refonii. It is no innovation the monks 
cpf San Marco are making. " What ia r novelty is for 
men making iirofeasion of beggHr}' to rear convents, 
which with tlieii- pillars and their marbles resemble 
palaces, to have rooms fit for lords, to piiasess goods 
contrary to the rales of the Onler, because tliey have 
Ml confidence in this word ot Jesus Christ, ' Seek first 
the kingdom of God and the rest wUl be added to yon.' 
It is a novelty to clothe oneself not in the usual coni- 
Mfa stuffs but in the finest and most choice, to pray 
little, to gad about, to be willing to be poor without 
wanting anything," etc. It was with such abuses that 
Saronarola set himself to deal. The superfluous weitlth 
WIS surrendered, and they who insist on this monk's 
iconudasm must face the fact that the treasures were 
ilevuted in part to the purchase of the remainder of 
the MSS. of Niccoli which Cosimii de' Medici had 
nserved for his own library, and which, after the 
baiiisLmcnt of Piero, the Signoria proposed to bring to 
the iinmuier. Then, the example always set by the 
Prinr himself, a rigid r^nu was appointed. Plain 
fere, simple dress, and profitable work for the mainten- 
ance of the always necessary, but never lavish, exijenses 
of the institution marked the routine. The study of 



the Hcrijitures was revived, this classic authors were 
read, the monks painteil and carved, copied MSH. and 
illuminated them. They hecame devout an(] charitable. 
For recreation they desired nothing better than to walk 
with their Prior and enjcjy discourse of reason. Savona- 
rola had this joy at least of seeing piety at home, and 
wf finding that San Marco heeamc a centre of influence 
whicli e.\tendetl to all the invents under Iiis control. 
If true, useful, cultured monks were anywhere they 
were in the Dominican monasteries upon whose Vicar 
the mantle of Antonmo had fallen. 

Aa for Florence, this is in brief the testimony. For 
nearly three years there was a revivtd of religion and 
morals. The aspect of the whole city seemed to be 
changed. Intlulgence gave place to simplicity. Hymns 
were heard instead of lewd bacchanalian songa. Work- 
raeu read the Bible at meal times. Public worship 
was regular. Almsgiving was generous and ready. 
Usury seemed an extortion of the commercial pest 
Ant] when Savonarola sent his httle anny of children 
(to whose instruction he gave liiinself with kindly 
heart, when he must not preach because of the order of 
the Pope) to beg the citizens to give up their " vanitiea " 
for a carnival lionfire, there was forthcoming such ar 
milange of wigs, and obscene tapestries, and boxes of 
face powder, and bad pictures, etc, etc., that never 
was there a finer blaze. For it was only evil things 
that Frn (jirolamo would wish to be bimied. 

During these years he preached not to Florence only 
but to Italy. He proclaimed unfalteringly that God 
had sent hiiu, that God spoke to liini, and that what he 
spoke he spoke as having received it from ( Ird. There 
was no .scholasticism in his senuons now. He had 



his aoul ill liie Bible. He luu! stooil in idea 1 
■with Nuah befure the Flood, with Aiiios and Hitggai I 
find Malachi in fat'e of the initiiiity of Israel, with John I 
in Patmos, antl the voities ami the visions liad been 1 
heard and seen by him to tell to the priests nnd people J 
of hia age. With inci'easing vehemence, in which | 
oaastic aarcasm was blended with fiei-ce invective, Wth J 
combined with searching appeal, he kept depicting the 1 
abomiualious of the Church which demanded the Di\'ine I 
scouige that it might be roused to righteousness. His I 
message never varied. " Repent, lest ye ]ierish " was I 
ita siun. " Behold the anger of God and retuiii to I 


B«foi'e tlie ilaya of chaiige, still \i 
B; a. Diviue iustinct, meii'a minda n. 
Eiisiiiiig (Ituigtv ; as by proof -wn »&e 
Tlie waters swell before a, boiateroiia stomi.' 

This was the consciousness of Savonarola even when I 
Hi the height of his success. In several of his sermons 
in which he exhorts Florence tu remain free and piuxh 
ie strikes the cliord of sad foreboding. " Before my 
ej'es I see tiibulation and tempests appearing; behind 
we the harbour is lost, and the wind drives me foith 
into the deep." That is but one sentence, spoken 
shortly after his reform had been aclueved, represeuta- 
Uyb of many utterances of an ever-present anxiety. 
He had c^use indeed fi-om the beginning to be feaifid. I 
It was impossible that eo radical a revolution, political I 
and moral, could be effected without awakening aoiue ( 
liostihty. There were factious from the iirst. Even I 
when the character wiiich tlie new constitution should ( 
Msuuie had been openly discussed, "\'espiicci Imd com- 
1 Kichard HI. act 3, sc. 4. 


iiniuikil nil oligarchy, and mtli him inany of tlie 
upper classes naturally sjinpathized. They retained 
their sympathy despite their defeat, aiid furmed the 
party of the Arrabiati. Then at the opposite ex- 
treme were the BUmcki, impatient of the restric- 
tion which excluded them from the Grand Council. 
The amnesty permitted partizaus of the Medici, like 
old Bernardo del Nero, Giaiinozzo Pucci, Lorenzo 
Tornabnoni, Niceolo llidolfi, and Giovanni Cambi 
to remain in Florence secretly plotting with Piero 
for his restomtion. There were still " fast " youths — 
Dolfo Spini and his Compagnacd — who were im- 
patient of the resti'aiiit put upon their revelry. There la 
idways a class of indiff'erenta — Tepitli — who keep aloof 
from any study of principles. And that the Frateschi, 
the followers of Savonarola, could be nick-named ^'a- 
gnom (weepers) is proof that, though far the most numer- 
ous, tliey were not omnipotent. It is easy to see tliat 
a combination of all these parties and a defection from 
the ranks of the loyal might avail to secure a hostile 
majority in tlie annually elected Signoria, BesideB, the 
commercial interests of pemiquiers, and tavern-keepers, 
and purveyora suffeiBd Ijy the abolition, or at least 
the diminution, of masquerades, and dehauclieries, and 
banquets. Beyond Florence, too, princes could not 
regard with e(iu;ininuty such a eliange as hml been 
wrouglit. And Mariano was at Rome, and so was 
I'ierri de' Medici, while, to crown all, the Spaniard 
Rodrigo Borgia liad purchased his election to the Fapol 
throne. The death of Innocent VIII., one who, like 
most of the Popes of the Eenaiasance, was a disgrace 
li] humanitj', not to saj' to the Christian Church, fell 
but a fortnight after the death of Lorenzo. " Then, as 


he liiSBpiiears, a din of iienda iis lieai'd, sind a triumphal 
chariot drawn \\j the seven deadly sins leads Belial 
himself iipou the stage. Murder and Treacheiy and 
Fraud and Fear, and all the shapes of Death and Lust, 
are dancing round this car. At the side of Belial 
smile his two children — his daughter Incest, white as 
leprosy, ami his son Fratricide, subtle-featured, smooth 
aud tortuous as a snake. That is Alexander VI." ' 
Let that not too strong figurative language stand in 
room of plain details of the monster's crimes. No soph- 
iatiy can serve to drag the Borgia from the nadir of 
tnhumaD cruelty and brutish sensualism in which he lay. 

Such a Pope was not one to remain uidiflerent to 
the staithing criticism of ecclesiastical corruption wliich 
was thundering forth from Florence, and, when some 
of Savonarola's sermons exposing the enormity of sins 
of which he was consciously guilty came into his hands, 
il hardly needed the falsehoods of the malicious Fi'an- 
dscan and the solicitations of the exiled Prince to 
determine the doom of the man who wielded so mighty 
an influence. 

While Charles VIII. remained in Italy, however, no 
action could safely he taken. It was well known that 
the King hel<l the friar high in favour, and that 
Florence of all the Italian states had alone refused tfj 
join the league against him. But wlieu the monarcli 
ijoitteil Naples on being warned of the gathering peril, 
when he left Florence, having even taken Piero de' 
Medici to its gates, and having fulfilleil not one of his 
]>Tomi8ea, then though Savonai'ola spoke his condem- 
nation of such perfidy to his very face and nuce more 
nverted danger, his influence received a check, for 
' Symonda' EeiiaisBaiipe in Italy. 


Ills ])redicti'^iis nf iiltimRte ^oad. to the HcpuLilic we 
uurealiz€!d. Capjioiii fell before Piaa. The ti\'e uo 
apiratora were executed, and some said that 
Savouorola had not sanctioned the penaltj' exactet 
from Bernardo del Nero, who liad done ser\'ice to tin 
State and whone white hairs moved compassion^ 
his refusal to interfere on behalf of him and hia 
comrades in the plot was virtually to approve thfl 
severity of the sentence. These and other incident^ 
well enough known at Itome, gave encouragement I 
the course of injustice which the Pope pursued to th( 
hitter end. To follow the narration of that cours 
is out of the ipiestion here. The main points are the« 
Inhibitions to pi-each Savonarola at first obeyed, 
Vague chai'ges of heresy he boldly repelled by refer- 
ence to his written works, and a Papal conmiission 
failed to detect any deviation from Catholic dogm 
which could ^vn colour to the indictment. Bribed bjf 
the offer of a Oiirdiiial's hat, he indignantly declined; 
(ieclarintt that the only red hat he desired was the re«J 
hilt of nmrtynloni ; commanded to reform the 
between the Tuscan and Lombard congregations, he 
positively refused; exconnnimicated at length in 1497; 
he kept silence for six months, and then, implored by 
the Signoria, he returned to the pulpit, declared the 
Cope illegally elected, and the excommunication to ba 
null and void. The ground of his apology was that of 
his own entire harmony with Cathohc dogma and thtj 
notorious character of the man who assumed the 
prerogative of the Vicar of Christ. He avowed I 
i-eadineas to submit to any decision of the Chureh, bat 
he would not submit to the iniquitous decree of this 
son of perdition. 


Tliu limi'a, huwi'ver, liait a liiflnfiliinis utt'i!t:l upciii 
Savonanda's influence with llie people of Florence. 
Dnring the intervals iif ids silence Fra Umniuico hail 
taben his place iu the pulpit, but he coutil not citnt- 
miuul the force of his suj>t.ri(ir'8 pei'sonality, and in Ihh 
DOmparative set'lusinn Fra ttirolaino heard, with feeliu^'M 
ahotist uf despair, that all the <j;ri<xl he hiul aceiim- 
plislicd was slowly beii^ uuilout!. The AiToMati. 
and the CompaunacA took full advantage of hia witli- 
dmwal, Hnd not only succeedeil in comiptinfj tlic 
populace, but in ^'aining the majority in the Sij^noria. 
An outbreak nf the plf^jue at a tiiue wlien the Prior 
helpless under ban to discharge his priestly 
Eonctions, suid the political intrigues of other States 
'during the same i>eriod aided their determined t'jidea- 
s. "We f.annot enlarge upon these points. It 
t lie sutticient to say that when Savouaroia was 
{Kohibited to preach by the civil government on the 
I7th of March, 1498, he could count upon com- 
paiBtively few devoted followera lieyond the walls of 
Sm Marco. 

He had (im; hope. The (.Council of (.Viustance liad 
deposed iTolin XXIII., why might not a (Jeneral 
Council detlirone Alexander VI.? It was an o|jen 
ttcret that t'harles of France hail even expressed to 
ifae CanUnal of San I'ietro in Viiicola liis readiness to 
tiqiport such a project, and it was believed that not 
in Italy only but in other parts of Europe the wicked- 
Ken of Bor^a was causing unrest. So Savonarola 
mole his memorable " Letter to the Princes," 
to Charles VIIL, Maximilian of Germany, Ferdinand 
ami laaWla of Spain, and Henry VII. of England, 
^td£i^ them that the Church was full of al>omina- 


tions and chiding them for worshipping " the cause of 
evil wliich is undermining her. I tell you that this 
Alexander is not Pope, nor can he be retained as such. 
For not to speak of his most heinous sin of simony by 
which he bought the Holy See, and the fact that he 
sells to bidtlers the benefices of the Church, not to 
speak of his other flagrant vices, I affirm that he is not 
a Christian, that he does not believe in God, and that 
he has passed the summit of infidelity." ^ 

But in the life of men there is sometimes an hour 
when the course of events is rolled back by a secret, 
irresistible force. That hour had struck for Savonarola. 
It is useless to conjecture what might have resulted 
had the Council been convened. It never met. A 
preliminary note despatched to the French King fell 
into the hands of the Duke of Milan, who promptly 
forwarded it to Home. 

Meanwhile incidents happened in Florence to 
precipitate the impending issue. We must content 
ourselves by referring to the historical romance 
for a graphic account of the " Ordeal." ^ The 
factions filled the square eager to see two men 
walk along the platform between the walls of fire. 
Florence was fond of spectacles, and this contest of 
the flames between the champion of the Dominicans, 
implicit believer in the Divine mission of his great 
superior, and him of the Franciscans who had chal- 
lenged that mission to the test of miracle, seemed one 
which would not only settle the question, but which, 
however it ended, would be a splendid scene. Savona- 
rola was there with Fra Dominico, who was to risk hi&. 

1 The whole letter is quoted by Villari, ii. 312. 

2 Romola, Ixv. 

Sj4 rOA'.4f;OL.-J. 


life to vmdicale his master, and tlif iTflhren of Sim 
Marco were there with hopehil hearts, yavouarulii 
hhil done what he ciiuhl to ihssiiade his brother from 
the trial, but, when the Signoria appointed il, fie could 
rot but iicipiiesce and pray. The}' wiiited for the 
Franciscan, but lie tame not. Pretext iifter prettjxl, 
prolonged delay. The feverish impatience t»f the mob 
rose to frenzy, imd they eliimoureii tliat Uominiwi 
ahnnUI pass thKnyh the fire alone. Savonarola forbade. 
Then the rain fell, and at length raine a mandate 
fmtn the Sij^ioiia to prevent the ordeal, which it had 
never intended to take place, FiJi well had foes 
^■auged the mood of the Florentines, The rabble 
howled in fury, Iwvulked of the sating tbey hail been 
ar^I to expect, deceived by the prophet who woidd 
DCPt prove his claims, anil as tlie monks of San Marco 
Inline down from their gallery, the ]v»]iiilace, spiirretl hy 
the gibes and angry cries that rent the air, surged 
Tuuiid Marcuecio Salviati'e gallant little escort that 
slowly took them to the convent. Wliile tiavonarobv 
kuelt in his cell in sorrowful prayer he could hear 
ihu vengeful shrieking of the crowd that filled the 

The attack was made upon San Marco the following 
'lay. Every entreaty to arm the brethren the Prior 
refu-sed. The church was soon forced. Francesco 
Vidori went to rouse the Fratcadd. He was stabbed 
liefore the eyes of his wife, and she was shot as slie 
saw her hnshond slain. The sohhers of the Republic 
tsinu" to help the fissailants. Savtniarolu retired to the 
librar)' to prepare for the end. (lathering round him 
tiiose of the brotherhood who coulii respond to his 
Mimmous he addressed them thu.s: "My chddren. 


before (Tod, l>efore the sacred host, at this hour when 
our enemies liave made entrance to tlie convent, 1 
affirm anew the truth of my doctrine. What I have 
s]K)ken is what (rod has revealed to me, and he is my 
witness in heaven that I lie not. I did not know that 
all the city was so soon to turn against me ; but the 
will of the Lord be done. This is my last counsel : 
let faith, patience, and prayer be your armour. I 
leave you in anguish to give me to mine enemies. 
L know not if they will take my life, but sure I am 
tliat, dead, I shall be able to help you more in 
heaven than, living, I have been able to do on earth. 
l)e brave, clasp trustingly the Cross, and by it you 
shall reach the haven of salvation." 

The demand of the Signoria was that Fra Dominico^ 
Fra vSalvaestro, and Fra Girolamo should l)e sur- 
rendered. There was a Judas, called Malatesta, and 
he whispered, " Should not the shepherd give his life 
for tlie sheep ? " Savonarola kissed the traitor and the 
other brethren, and then he and Fra Dominico, amid 
hooting and jeering, were led away to prison. Fra 
Salvaestro was in hiding, but the next day he too was 
in a cell ; Malatesta told the soldiers where lie was. 

If the joy of the Pope, on being informed of what 
had transpired, was great, other tidings not less 
welcome must have enlarged it beyond measure. On 
the very day of the ordeal Charles VIII. died at 

The trial (?) was protracted for six weeks. The one 
cjharge which the Signoria resolved to formulate was 
that Savonarola was an impostor. To establish tliis 
tliey had recourse to the most awful tortures with the 
view of eliciting from him a confession of deceit. At 

tlie sauie Ciiiit tlicy hired ii uutiuy, Ser Cti'uuiie, In 
fiihricate a jtioceas that might be circ.iilatetl in the city. 
There seems no tooih to doubt that physical ngoiiy 
WTuiig some ambiyuous utteninoes from Ids lips, but it 
IB certain that the cndy true cimfiiasion lie made was tiii 
tJiis ett'ect— " Now hour me, iiifif^stratea of Floreiica 
I ha^-e denied my light tliniuj^Ii fear iif torture. If I 
Imve til suffer, I seek to sufler for tlie truth. That 
whicli I have spoken I hnve ren-ived fii)]ii (.loil." Tlic 
concoction of Ceceoue, howevei', deftly mibstitiiteil for 
anotlier scroll, upon which were writteu the prisouer'M 
aiiawers to his iiiijiiisitors, was signed by Savoiiamlii. 
aud tbe Dominieans believed that their prior hail nd- 
miUed the falseness of his claims. It was uuwardly 
lit tbem to crave idiaolutiou for haA-iiij,' put faith in 
bini — an absolution at'conled at ouee on tlieir dis- 
owning "the head of the whole error, Fni (iii-olanio 

There was one voice i-aised iji the Signoria in noble 
protest iipainst a capital seutenue. " IJo not," pled 
Agnolo Pandolfini, " inflict an irreparable loss on the 
tnaU by putting to death a man ao remarkable 
tlut one scarce sees his like in a century. This nuin 
.might not only restore faith on the point of perishing, 
hat might render the greatest servieea to the sciences 
irttidt he has eidtivnted with success so signal Keeji 
"him in prison, then, if you will, only I counsel you to 
qnre his life and to give him the means uf writing 
diat the world may not lose the fruit.s of Iiis genius." 
Dilt uumly appeal, a magnificent witness to the im- 
imedon which Savonarola had made upon the cidtiU'e 
of his day, was greeted with the course rejoinder, " A 
tleai) enemv makes no war." 


The Papal commissioners, Komolino and Turriano, 
arrived in Florence on the 19th of May, armed with 
instructions to expedite the sentence, even though 
Savonarola were John the Baptist. Another examina- 
tion was held, another false process was penned, and 
then judgment was pronounced. On the 23rd of May, 
1498, in the Piazza of the Palazzo Vecchio, the three 
martyrs finished their course. Pronouncing the formal 
sentence of anathema against Savonarola, the Bishop 
of Vasona in his confusion made an addition to the 
formula. He said — '' Scparo te ab Ecclcsia militante 
atque triumphantc" Calmly the martyr corrected 
him — ''Militante, non triumphante, Jioc eni7ii tuum 
non est!' The tire soon finished the hangman's work, 
and when it was dark they carted away the ashes and 
tumbled them into tlie Arno. 

Such is tlie plain story of the life of Girolamo Sav- 
onarola He was a patriot and his people killed him. 
He did a prophet's work and he met a prophet's end. 
He was a pure man and tlie wicked slew him. There 
is an exquisite pathos in these simple words spoken in 
his adieu to San Marco — "I did not know that all 
the city was so soon to turn against me." They 
breathe the melancholy of disappointed hope, the 
sad consciousness of ill-requited sacrifice, the plaint 
of fell ingratitude. Yet, as he speaks them, we can 
almost believe that that noble, disinterested soul wjis 
crushed in sorrow far more for the ruin which 
Florence had chosen for herself than for the destruction 
she was dealing upon him. He would have saved her, 
but she would not have the salvation for which with 
passionate love he had laboured to the last. 

In the course of the centuries he has received his due, 


ffliich ilie luen of liis own ilfiy iJenieil him. "Evfii in Hit- 
dty iif Diuile no greater figure has its dwelling. Tlit- 
shatlow of liim alill ties acixjss those suniiy squares ami 
the streets through which iu triumph and in agony he 
went u]Hiu his lofty way, and consecmtes alike the 
little eel! in San Marco, and the little prison in the 
tower, and the great hall built for hia great Council, 
wliich iu a beautiftil poetical justiee received tlie firBt 
Italian Parliament, a greater Council still. Thus, only 
fonr hundiwl years too late, his nolile patriotism had 
ite rewanL"' 

Savonarola's relation to the progressive culture nf 
fhe Eenaissance was one of cordial symputliy. That 
h«B been more than once indicated in our sketch of liia 
laiBer. With all that was pure iu art he was in full 
consent, and, not to cite the testimony of his writingfi. 
lei the devotion of Michel Angelo to his memory be 
mflicieiit witness. For that devotion was determined 
not only by regai'd for his wisdom iu politics and his 
camestneas in religion, but also by his instruction on 
the true principles of beauty, expressed in a treatise 
which the great sculptor used often to read in his old 
tigi. The siiuic holds good of hia esteem for heathen 
•riters. There is something touching iu the advice he 
Jive, that in school boys sliould read only the authors 
whowertr "clean," and that "Jupiter" or "Zeus" should 
ilways by them be translated " God." ■ Restrictions 
mch as these were the outcome of his single aim, that 
kuimig should go hand in hand with purity. But in 
Qu» matter Savonarola's attitude recalls very strikingly 
the position of Origen, as it anticipates remarkably the 
liearuig of Erasmus. Christianity was no foe to 
'The Makers of Florence, pp. 327-8. 


liberal culture, but should find a handiuaid in all 
learning. We submit only one quotation taken from 
his work, " The Triumph of the Cross " — a work in 
which Savonarola undertakes to demonstrate the 
truth of Cluistianity by arguments from reason. 
" Despise no good works nor reasonable laws of pagan 
peoples, of philosophers, and emperors. In their 
doctrines and in theu* books gatlier what is true and 
good, atiirming that all which is true and good comes 
from God and has been given specially for His elect." ^ 

We are more immediately concerned in this lecture, 
however, with his relations to the reform of the Church. 
And, here, while conceding willingly tlie warrant which 
the Church of Rome of to-day has in claiming Savonarola 
as a faithful son, we not tlie less claim to regard him 
as in many respects deserving well to be ranked as 
unconsciously l)ut really preparing for the work of 

We have seen the impression which ecclesiastical 
con-uptions made upon him at the very outset of his 
career, and we have alluded in general terms to his un- 
compromising antagonism to these iniquities. But, 
when we read such of his sermons as have been edited, 
then we feel that not even WycKf was severer in his 
censures. Hear him on the prelates — " They speak 
against pride and ambition, in which they are them- 
selves plunged up to the eyes ; they preach chastity 
and keep concubines." ^ " With their rich chasubles 
and their brocaded copes they chant vespers and 
admirable masses before the altar, and they seem full 
of solemnity and holiness." " See him, this priest, 
who struts along so spruce, with his fine locks, his 

^Triiimphiis Crucis, iii. 13. 'Sermon iiL p. 209. 



l>ur8e, and his perfitnies. Go to lii.t lioiiw, you will 
tiud his table laden with plate, liis chnmbtirs j,'iiriusheil I 
with tapcstiies. They hiive so ninny dojjs, so im 
miiles, so many horses, so many oniaments, ao much J 
.tilk, so many servants. Tliink ye that tliese fine lords I 
will open to you the kiiigdnm of Cioil?"' The s 
rasm of this is inimitable. " Heai' wliat I aaj'. 
the primitive Church the chjilieea wei* of wood e 
the prelates were of jjohl. To-daj' thi; I'hurch has j 
j^lden chaliL-ea and wooden prelates." '^ These are 
mnples of the doughty Hail-blows with which Fra 1 
Oipolamo lashed the clerical ctiafl' of his famished age. 

A^n, Savonarola recognized the i-laniant evil of a J 
wullei^ externaliam which whs fostered. He scofl's at I 
thesiimmons, "Come from tins side and that; eover with 
kisses Saint Peter and Saint I'aid, such and such a saint. | 
Oime, come, ring bells, deck altais, giimisb chiirehes." 
"0 preachers and monks," lie cries, " ye have burie<l I 
tbis people ill the sepulchre of cereiniiiiicB. I tell 
y<iu this sepulchre must Ih; broken, for Christ 
wisbes the resurrection of His (.'Inirch to spiritual 
life,"* Countless such citittious can be adduced 
in which the dead ritualism of the I 'hurcli is exjiosed 
wiEliout sparing. 

But Fra Oirolaiiio was not content with denuncia- 
tion of abuse. He proelaiined the remedy, anil that 
lie ileiJared to consist in the pnyii^hing nnd reviving of 
Bible truth. He was himself a priest, and he does 
Bot discountenance the right observance of ceremony. 
But it belongs to him in that era of empty formalism 
■e given to the pulpit its true place and t<j liai'e 


asserted for the Word of God its place iu the pulpit. 
" I shall preach the Scripture," he maintains, and the 
most cursor}" perusal of his sermons testifies how true 
he was to that resolve. True, the Old Testament pro- 
phecies have, from the very character of his genius, by 
far tlie largest space; but there are expositions of the 
Gospels and of the Epistles of St. John which are full 
of tlie ver}' spirit of the evangel. Few sermons in 
any age can excel in eloquence and solemn appeal that 
on the visit of the Magi to the cradle of Christ, in 
which he contrasts the seK-denial of the Eastern sages 
hastening from their distant homes that they might do 
homage to the child Jesus with the chill indifference 
of tlie men and women of the fifteenth century to the 
worship of a glorified Redeemer. Often words seem 
to fail hmi when he would utter all his thoughts of 
the love of God in Christ. " pity ! O charity ! 
infinite love ! I have grievously sinned, and Thou, Jesu, 
wert the sufferer. I have been Thine enemy, and Thou, 
Jesu, for my sake wast nailed to the Cross." To our 
mind it is beyond question that Savonarola based all 
his hope of moral reform upon a return to Christian 
faith. Granted that in so far as distinctive dogma is 
concerned he was, as he himself averred, in perfect 
accord with the Church of Eome, still it is as obvious that 
it was to the exhibition of the fundamental doctrines 
of a common Christianity that he always turned for 
moral power. Personal holiness through the know- 
ledge and love of God gained by devout obedience 
to the precepts of the Word was the imperative which 
he ceaselessly uttered from the pulpit. "Justification 
by faith " or " Justification by works " was not an 
alternative which occurred to him to consider. That a 


I 'liristiiiii must be triit* Jiiwl pure was tlie ussL-iitial <if 
Ids teac.-hiiig, u il<jclriue which had lieeu utt«rlj' lost 
sight of in the peiinntic sermonizing of the age. 

His contlict with the Pope was nltimatelj' A I'ou- 
Itancr. When first he learned of the charges hrouglit 
against him, he could not bring himself to believe that 
they were conceived by his Holiness. With a gener- 
osity wbioli is quite pathetic, he attributes them all to 
the machinations of his enemies. Even when he has 
canae to siisped that in this he has erred, he writes a 
letler of condolence to Alexander upon tlie occasion of 
the murder of bis eldest son, the Duke of Candiii. 
Then, when suspicion becomes certainly, he discusses 
Uie question of infallibility, and avers that lie can- 
not submit to the injustice which is prompted by 
liate. Tins is the position he defends — " It must be 
maintained that the Pope qiid Pope cannot be de- 
wived .... because bis veij" function preserves him 
from error : but when he is deceived, he is not Pope, 
uul if he commands injustice, he does not command it 
jud Pope, but qud man." ^ It has then to lie reckoned 
that it was with the ma?i, not with the o0cp, thiil 
Savonarola did battle. He says : " When the power 
ecclesiastical is utterly corrupted, one must address 
bimself to Christ, who is the first cause, and say, 
' Thou art my Confessor, my Bishop, ray Tope. See 
Thj- chnrcb which is falling to ruins, begin to avenge 
Thyself.' But, my brother, thou dost weaken the 
puwer ecclesiastical. That is not true, I have always 
submitted, and I submit to-day to the correction of the 
Roman Church ; far from weakening it, I strengthen 
it. Only 1 am not willing to obey the power infernal, 
' Sertnon xi ou Exodus 


and all power wliich is against goodness conies not 
from God, but from the devil." ^ To the idea of 
the outward unitv of the Church under the autho- 
rity of a successor of St. Peter he was conscientiously 
loyal, while at the same tune he could as conscien- 
tiously obey liis conscience rather than bow to a 
<lecree oi Alexander VI. We have not a word to say 
against his sincerity, though the casuistry wliicli seems 
to straightforward common-sense to surround the 
Catholic j^rinciple renders it rationally somewhat in- 
^jtcmiprehensible. It must be left, too, to the decision of 
the theologians of the Church of Home to say whether, 
in view of the enunciation of the dogma of Pio Xono, 
Savonarola, condemned ex catludrdy can consistently be 
<leclared orthodox. One thing, however, is clear, that 
])rotests such as he and others before him raised, 
iigainst the supremacy of bad men were altogether in 
tlie line of tendency to schism from the system which 
bad men continued to dominate. 

Perhaps, however, on the whole, the surest gi'ound 
we can take in support of our claim is the failure of 
.so nobly desperate an endeavour to achieve a reform. 
The reasons of that failure we have striven to indicate. 
Certainly his close identification witli Florentine 
politics had not a little to do with it, inasmucli as it 
not only brought ultimate disaster to himself, but, from 
its very nature, isolated him from the wider sphere. 
The Church was more than Florence, and though 
Savonarola might seek to revive the Church, it could 
<mly too easily find an apology for refusing to hear him 
in the determination to regard the Republican ratlier 
than the Eeformer. His claim to inspiration, likewise, 

^ Savonarola's Farewell Sermon. 



whil(^ it <;itve lliroe to lim preiliclivLi pVL-Hrliiii^, vuiilil ' 
uut prevHil when several ul' his priiit!i(iiil )iri-iliction» I 
were unrealized. Nor baa it to lie for;;otteii tliat Italy, ] 
politii.-ally (Usmemlierecl though it was, felt some pride 
ht that it lia<l within itself the centre of Christendom. 
and that some scion of almost every ducal house was 
nffieially eomiected with the Uftmnu See. On the other 
liand, hey<ind Horence and Italy, rulei-a and iieople were 
liw'omiug .'^nsihle of the comiption which liaJ i-eaohwl ' 
imch Fearful magnitude, and they cniil<l not he in iguor- 
Wice of tlie endeavour which the stern, stahiless monk 
■ffM making for reform. When he fidled accordingly, his 
fniliire WHS lo the world a witness that eilbrt, to he 
_ miecessfid, must find some uiori; decided methfiil, i 
Matters could not rest as they were. And aa refonii 
ti the Churcli from within ha*l l>een wi eiiii\*iiK-iugly 
duiwu to lie hopeless, it remained for one with 
Jdearer perception of the doctrinal roots of the mond | 
■ erfl and a freer individualism in face of its ecclesias- 
Tical countemince, with external conditions also in e\'ery 
w^ more favourable, hut with no mure earnest desiri' 
(ui the accomplishment (tf the end, to take the way that 
mast he taken. And it will he alhiwcd us ttj say that 
tile Church of Kome, by all the witness of historj'. 
■wcs ihe loagnaiiimous estimate which she lias set 
iipdD tlirolumo Savonarola in no small measui'e lo the 
work of Martin Luther. 

It is not altc^'ether witliout interest to retieet, a.'* 
Iiimishitig slender links of external connection, thai 
Leo X. was a son of Lorenzo Je' Medici ; that Tetzel 
ami Ciyetano were both of the order of St. Dominic; and 
that the indu^nces tliey prea^ed for sale were ofiei-ed 
to piwure funds to finish the work of Michel Angelo. 

r ^ m u 0. 

Erasmus, though not usually ranked amongst the 
Keformers, and not regarding himself as one of them, 
rightly enough finds a place in a course of lectures 
dealing with those whose life and work influenced 
the great ecclesiastical and religious movement of the 
sixteenth centurv. 

That event, like some others in history involving 
interests numerous and varied, and issuing in results 
momentous and far reaching, was due less to the 
circumstances of the time in which it took place, 
and less to the influence of those whose names have 
become associated with it, than is perhaps generally 
supposed. In that sphere of human action which 
forms the province of civil and religious history, as 
among phenomena of a material kind, causes are 
oftentimes long at work before they reveal themselves 
in the effects that follow them. For days before the 
electric force discharges itself in fire the thunder- 
storm has been gathering ; and it is not until the 
moon is on the wane that the tidal wave reaches 
high-water mark along our shores. And that con- 
vulsion that ruptured the Eoman Church and sent 
a wave of blessing over the face of so many nations, 

ERASXfUS. 1+3 

was the result of the co-operation of many eiuises, 
some of which, at leiist, had been long at work. One 
of these causes was iinJoubtecUy the intellect iial 
moveineiit that specially chanicterized the sixteenth 
century, and found at the time of tlie Ifelbniintion 
its brightest ornament in Erasmus. 

To sliow how tliis movement originated, grew, and, 
as represented by Erasmus, helped to fulfil tliose 
DOndilioiiB without which the cause in which Wyclif 
laboured and Hus perishetl, could not but fall short 
of its dim, is the duty that has been specially nssigned 
me b connection wiUi your course of lectures. 

To say, indeetl. when the movement begiui is not 
easy, any more than it is easy to say when night 
breaks into ilay, or self-conscious life awakens in the 
thild. Far hack in what are called the Middlii Ages 
there are manifest tokens of an awakened intellectual 
liUtJYity, and of a renewed interest in learning. As 
the Church has never been so corrupt as to he without 
those in wliose hearts the Gospel shone with some- 
ihing of its pristine purity — pioa? soiUs that realized 
ihat religion was something else and something higher 
Uuin a mere observance of outward fonns — men and 
WQtnen who, like Anna the prophetess or Simeon the 
igcd, mourned the desolation that had come upon 
Israel, and longed for the advent of a better time, 
« no age has been so dark as to be without those 
who sought knowledge for its own sake, and found 
the ileepest satisfaction in its possession. Even in 
the darkest of those ages that have, through com- 
parison with some that went before and all that have 
aane after, been designated the Dark Ages, truth of 
an intellectual kind — as distinguished from that which 


is theological — has shone ; and from a period as 
remote at least as the eleventh century this light be- 
came more diffused. But though the ignorance which 
brooded over the nations of Christendom began at 
this time to get dispelled, the interest in intellectual 
pursuits which this implied did not grow, like the 
breaking day, steadily and uniformly, but fluctuated, 
rose and fell, and as in the flowing tide, the advancing 
wave reached the shores of different countries only 
at different times. 

Though the re\'ivaLs of learning which took place be- 
tween the eleventh and fourteenth centuries were but 
partial, they were not unproductive of a good that was 
permanent. During this time the modem languages of 
Europe began to be formed, and a literature that 
embodied thein to accumulate. The study of Eoman 
law revived, and schools and universities were 
founded. And in this way preparation was made 
for the special movement to which we have referred 
— a movement so deep and wide-spread, so steady 
and continuous, so distinct from any that went before, 
that it has been designated by a special name — the 
" Renaissance " it has been called, as indicating a time 
of renewing — the awakening of the European mind 
to a consciousness of its own nature and capacities, 
and the value of that intellectual inheritance wliich 
had been treasured up in ages and in countries the 
glory of which had for ever passed away. 

The country to which we have to look as that in 
which this movement took its rise is Italv — beautiful 
then as now in its skies and the tideless seas that 
sweep its shores ; in its fertile plains, and the lakes 
that lie embosomed among its mighty hills ; but far 


lom beiiig beautiful at the time of which we speak 
ly tlie moral corruption and political disorder that 
characterized it. And yet even its political state, its 
foreign wars, and internal troubles ; its dissensions 
and its dismemberment ; its despotisms and city- 
npublics, could not in some respects prove otherwise 
than fevourable to the growth of the new movement. 
The streiigtli whicli springs from self-reliance, the 
activity which comes from jealouay and mutual con- 
flict, could not but help to make this Queen of countries 
sU the fitter for becoming the nursing mother of the 
child of tlie new intellectual era. 

The time which tlioae who have studied this move- 
Diiait regard as that in which it took its rise, is nearly 
the same as that which gave birth to Wyclf ; and in 
fc fer as it was helpful to the Reformation, the men 
•ho took part in it, though separated from him not 
inly by geographical distance, but by intellectual 
dnmcter and moral aims, may be said to have 
ken fellow-labourere with him. 

"The old order chiuigetli, jieldiiig place to new, 
And God fulQla Himself lii many wa,ys, 
Lest one good custom should corrupt the worlii." 

The individual to whom we are asked to look as the 
uie who furnished the motive power that gave this 
new movement birth and direction is the poet Petrarch. 
And in so far as a movemeut which was so genial to 
the inteUectual life of man, and for which so much 
had been done by others that helped to prepare the 
way, could be said to take its rise in any single mind, 
U is to hJTn rather than to any other to whom we 
iave to look. What seems clear is that if be was not 
the first who tried to awaken a general interest in the 


works of those who had lived in a classic age, lie \ 
at least the first to succeed in doing ao. A poet bom 
and schooled by a greater master of poetry than 
himself, he was able to appreciate " the best that hac 
been thought and written " by those whose worka 
through the indolence and indifference of some who 
had every opportunity of obtaining a knowledge i 
them, and a mistaken notion on the part of otben 
whose minds were active and inquiring, as to the plac* 
which that learning that goes by the name of seculai 
has in farthering man's development and promoting 
man's chief end, were allowed to lie in all but utta 
neglect. Of a knowledge of Greek literature, or eve] 
of the Greek language, in which we have to remembei 
in considering this subject, were written not merely thl 
poems of Homer and the philosophy of Plato, bol 
the story of the Evangelists and the letters of Paul 
there was throughout Western Europe, at this time 
according to those who can apeak with authority oi 
the subject, hardly any ti-aoe. Witli I^tin indeed i 
was different. Latin was the language used in thi 
service of the Church, and ecclesiastics, for the sake 
a knowledge of the language, if for no other end 
cuuld not fail to make some acquaintance with Latii 
authors. And yet so little was Vii^il known in tbi 
Middle Ages, so little heed was given to the though 
and melodious words witli which " the Prince of Latii 
poets" could charm tlie men of his own time, am 
awaken so general an interest in ours ; that Dantt 
writing before the dawn of the new era, speaks in tb 
opening canto of the Inferno of him who was 
" master and his guide " as " by long silence dumb. 
But this could no longer be said after the time of 

ERASMUS, 14,7 

Petrarch. Partly through his labours, partly tlirough 
the labours of those on whom his iufluence moile 
it^f felt, a passionate desire was awakeucd iu the 
minds of mauy of the eilucated sons of Italy to under- 
Bland the thought and imitate the style of those who, 
possessed of genius, had long ago spoken ami written 
in the languages of Greece and Home, Not to pro- 
dnce what was new, hut to imitate what was old ; to 
resuscitate an age that was thought to be golden, 
and reflect the hght that glowed in the spirits of 
the men who lived in it, became the ambition of the 
Scholars of the time. In tlieir eagerness to come into 
Ike possession of a treasure which men who had long 
been dead had be(|ueathed to the world, ami that at 
the time of which we speak found uo better repositorj' 
tiian the cell, or sometimes the dungeon of a monastery, 
wholara travelled o\'er sea and laud, and the recovery 
of a manuscript written by one whose name was 
believed to shed a lustre on the age hi which he lived 
ires welcomed by the members of the literary fratcr- 
aiy more than the spoils of war or than the news of 
the discovery of an unknown laud. 

The movement thus begun deepened and widened. 
Sdiolara multiplied, and princes, and even popes- — 
little conscious at the time how great an influence the 
Work in which the men of letters were engaged was 
calculated to exercise in undermining their authority 
ajid shaldiig their throne — patronized them and shared 
their labours. 

In that strange intermingling of causes we see so 
fifUn in human experience, and of which history 
famishes ub with so many examples, in which the 
citctuustances of the time seem to develop the means 


THE n&fonM^s. 

^vhich are needful for its exigencies, two event! 
occurred in the middle of the fifteenth century whicl 
greatly i'urtliGred the new intellectual movement. Oni 
of these was the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 
Before that event, indeed, " wise men " had come fixin 
the East carrying with them treasures iu tiie form i 
Greek manuscripts, and a knowledge of the languagi 
iu which they were written, the value of whidi 1 " 
scholars of Italy were learning to appreciate, and thi 
possession of which they were eager to secure. But o 
the downfall of Constantinople, many more Greek 
speaking refugees sought the hospitality which tl 
educated sons of Italy were so willing to afford i 
return for the educational services that could I 
rendered them. 

The other event was the invention of printing, thl 
influence of which, in promoting the cause of literato) 
and preparing the way for the Eefoimation, it woul 
be difficult to estimate, and perliaps he hardly possilili 
to examrerate. By it copies of books were moi 
rapidly made and their prices greatly reduced. By ii 
not only was a previously existing demand mon 
readily met, but as in the introduction to a civilixet 
country of a root, or fruit, good for food and pleasani 
to the taste, the supply helped to create the demand 
By it the inner shrine of knowledge was opened 
so that not only the high priests of literature coulc 
enter, but so too could those whose approach had beM 
barred by poverty and ignorance. 

It was not in Italy, however, this invention ^ 
made, but in Germany ; and this fact is itself an evid 
ence that the light which had now been shining so 
long among the Italians was beginning to make its in- 


fiaence felt elsewhere. When Gutenberg mdeed estab- 
lished his press at Meiitz, and consecrated it and all its 
produce by issuing somewhere between 1452 and 
1455, as the first book printed from its types, the 
Uazarin Bible, the prevailing condition iii his own 
country, as in other countries on this side the Alps, 
was one of ignorance and superstition. The study of 
physical science could hardly be said to have begun, 
and classical learning was possessed only by the few. 
In Germany and the Low Countries, it is true, schools 
had been established about the beginning of the fifteenth 
tentury, where Latin was taught to banils of peasant 
ycmtlis, who formed a kind of reHgious brotherhood 
aud supported themselves mainly by the labours of their 
bands. These, combined with others of a more pubUc 
Knd that were founded shortly afterwards, became the 
nurce whence emanated ere many years had gone much 
tf the light that enlightened Germany. Scholars issu- 
ing from them, inflamed with a desire to leom more 
"dm any in their own land could leach them, went to 
Italy that they might ait at the feet of some of those 
whose fame was spreading thraughout the whole of 
Ohrietcndom. Returning with the histruction they 
leceived, and with a zeal which those with whom they 
ume into contact could enkindle in minds already 
pussessed of a desire to leani, they laboured hard to 
ndeem their country from the ignorance and barbarism 
with which in comparison with Italy tliey felt it could 
Im reproached. The hardy Teutonic mind, with its 
Iteadiness and patience, its hidustry and earnestness, 
fctiaed a soil more favourable for the growth of know- 
ledge than the Italian ; and the seeds which these 
scholars of the fifteenth century sowed upon it yielded 



fruit more vuiunlile unci more enduring than any i 
which Italy could boast. 

Of those on thia side the Alps whose spirits caughl} 
tire from tht; light that shone beyond them, tliere \ 
none stimulated to the same degree of eaniestnesa, oi 
iiccomplishecl tlirough his labour the same measure oI 
good, aa he of whom we wish specially to speak. 

Erasmus indeed was not a Gei-man, but a native ol 
Kotterdam, though for few biographies is the counti^ 
to whieli their subjecta belonged a matter of as littl( 
moment. If it be true, as has been said, " tliat Greec 
or Enme never prodiiced a great man but only a greffl 
Greek or a great Roman," that is not true of Holland 
Of anytliing peculiarly Dutch there was nothing i 
tained by Erasmua — hardly even a knowledge of th* 
language ; for in after years we tind him apologizing t 
a friend for writing to him in Latin, on the ground of hi 
being unable to do so freely in liis own tongue. Hi 
Dutch name, Gerard, too was dropped, and the I 
and Greek languages — after the fashion of the time- 
fumished lum with the one by which we best knov 
him— Desideriua Emsmiis, The languagea of thi 
claasica were regarded as those which are best suited 
to man as man, and in so far as they are so, there wa 
a special fitness in naming young Gerard by worct 
found in them ; for of all that was apeeially clian 
istic of humanity there was much in Erasmua. Grea 
he was not in having in any pre-eminent degree tha 
which is best in men — ]uoral force or eamestnesa — bu 
his spirit was broad and human — many-sided, and s 
truth in aspects to which greater men were blinc 
Whatever concerned man as an intellectual or apiritufl 
being afTorded him tlic deepest interest ; and those o 



any nation who devfited titemselvfs tu literai'v pursuils 
were regarded by him aa kia friends. He claimed iit> 
country as liis uwn, but found a home, as lie said. 
" wherever he had his books." In the wandering life 
lie led he could say, lijte Dante in liia exile — "Tlie 
whole world is my kijigdoin." 

In his career there is nothing to record of trajiif 
incident or heroic suffering for righteousness' sake — - 
none of the elements which give to the lives of the 
others who have found a place in youj ayUahus of 
ledures much of the interest that belongs to them — 
and we shall deal with that career only in so far as il 
may help us to understand the nature and the measure 
nt the influence Erasmus exercised on the Reformation 

Like others whose names are more closely associated 
with that event than his own, he grew up a baptized 
(on of the Church ; and one of the first view.s we get of 
Mm from bis biographers is when he is four years of 
age, and in the year 1471, singing as a chorister in 
the cathedral at Utrecht. In the school to wliicli he 
efletwards went, despite the disadvantages wliich the 
Udn language presented to learners at the time, 
fcough the imperfect helps that were then in use, he 
took so readily to Ids lessons and progressed so 
ispidly in them that at the age of thirteen, we are 
Io]d, he had the whole of the poems of Horace on his 
memory. About this time his parents died, and he 
was left in the hands of guardians, who, in so far as 
tiiey interested themselves in liim, seem to have done 
W specially for the sake of his small patrimony. To 
dispossess him of his claim, and get his portion into 
their own liands, they tried to induce him to devote 


himself to the Church. And uotwithstaniling a re- 
sistance which showed a measure of wisdom unusual 
in one of hia years, through threats and entreaties he 
was persuaded at the age of fifteen to enter a monas- 
tery of the Auguatinian order. Though he remained 
here for eight or nine years, he did so involuntarily, 
and it was only in his helplessness he in course of 
time took the vows of a monk. 

Very different was the experience of Erasmus as a 
monk from that of another of the same order who was 
bom into the world sixteen years after him, and for 
whose work he did so much to prepare the way. Of 
that darkness and unrest, of that loug and earnest 
stru^le through which the soul of Luther passed, 
Erasmus never knew anything, and he never felt 
accordingly as Luther did with regard to those con- 
ceptions of truth in which he found light and peace. 
Different, too, was the life of Erasmus as a monk from 
that of those with whom he was associated in the 
house of Steyn. For a time, indeed, he seems not to have 
heen altogether untainted hy their vice, hut he had 
little sympathy with them in their habits of idleness, 
immoral ways, or religious practices. Even as a 
monk he was studious, and found more interest in his 
Horace and Terence than in his psalter or missal. 

Though in this house he breathed an atmosphere he 
found neither genial nor wholesome ; though he had 
duties to perform and company to associate with he 
could not tind agreeable, the time seems to have heen 
spent not altogether unpleasantly. Having a nature 
in which there was much natural buoyancy, and an 
element of mischievous trickery, he lightened hy its 
indulgence time that might otherwise have heen dulL 



Nor was it altogether improfitablc ; for lie here not 
only acquired that intimate kuowledye of monks and 
monkeiy that helped to lead him in after years into 
so direct antagonism to them, and give point to the 
missiles he so vigorously discharged against them ; but, 
despite the disadvantages, such a place could not but 
afford for the acquisition of learning ; tlirough reading, 
and essays in composition, he laid the foundation of 
that vast erudition and acquired the elements of that 
literary skill for which he became so famous. 

Though the monastery seems to have provided tlie 
young scholar with plenty of books, yet a house whose 
numerous inmates almost without exception had no 
interest themselves in literature, and held all in suspi- 
cion who had, and where, as one of his biographers has 
said, " one could get drunk quite openly, but had to 
carry on study in secret," could not at any time aftbrd 
bini much satisfaction ; and he very readily took 
advantage of the first favourable opportunity that 
was given him of leaving it. This he had when he was 
twenty-four years of age through the Bishop of Cain- 
bray offering to appoint him, on the reputation of his 
scholarship, as his secretary. The Bishop had in- 
tended taking him to Italy- — whither Erasmus had 
the strongest desire to go, — but he changed his mmd, 
and sent him, after he had been ordained as priest, to 
the University at Paris. The funds with which his 
master and patron pi-ovided him were too limited to 
enable him to keep himself with comfort, and he had 
to take up his abode in one of the colleges that were 
intended for the poorer class of students. 

Of the kind of life led here, Erasmus in one of the 
&mous dialogues in his "P'amiliar Colloquies," gives what 


lias usually lieeii regarded as a description; but he makes 
fun of it, and probably exa^erates its hardship. If it is 
to be trusted as giving in any measure a faithful account 
of liis esperienee, however unpleasant his life at the 
house of Steyn had been, it must have been more 80 
at the College of Mniitaguc — -" Vinegar College " 
he nicknames it. Tliraugh false notions prevalent at 
the time, and heartily imbibed and acted on by tha 
rector or president under whose supei-vision Erasmus 
found himself, as to the best way of practising self-* 
denial, and the manner in which it stands related to 
the development of spiritual life, the students were 
subjected to the severest discipline. They had 1 
beds to sleep on, and menial work to do. The drinlc 
was unwholesome, and " rotten eggs " furnished part of 
their meals. There were " immerciful whippings, too, 
even of innocent persons " ; though, he says, he n 
tions these things not " nut of any ill-will to the 
College," but to give a warning lest the young i 
inexperienced should be injured " through severity 
being practised in the name of religion." The treat- 
ment Erasmus underwent in this, his first trial 
college life, was too much for his Iiealth — which at all 
times was delicate — and he returned to the Bishop, 
taking back nothing with him, he says, but " disease 
in his body and vermin in his clothes." 

But there was another reason for Erasmus disliking 
this College of the " Scotists," which, if we woultE 
understand him and liis relation to the Reformation 
movement, it is needfid we look at with some care. 
And that was, that the studies in which he had i 
80 much interest wei-e held in little favour there. 
Though Paris had one of the most famous universities 

Europe, it was only willuu rucviit years it yiivo 
the slightest evidence of beiuf; influeiuietl by tlit; 
literary movement that had been so long at work iii 
Italy, Here, as in most other seats of learning, 
sabject to the authority of the Church, Scholasticism 
was dominant, and with Scholaslieism Erasmus had, 
even at this period of his life, hut little sympathy, 
■nd had still less as time went on. And it coiiM 
not he otherwise, for with its method and aims tlit 
movement wliicli was now carrj-ing Erasmus alonft 
vrith it had nothing in common. To its assumption 
liiat the truth of the Creed was to be received on thf 
anthority of the Church, ami that other truth had 
value as it stood related to that Creed, the spiiit of 
the £enaissance was entirely opposed. And thouf^h 
sharp disputes arose, and rival schools were foiiued 
I7 those who sought, in fulfilment of the end of 
Echolaaticiam, to systematiKe the doctrines of the 
Chttteh and vindicate them at the bar of reason; 
tliongh questions in endless number were put, and 
COiiflicting answers returned ; though diiferent leaders 
viewed the relation in wluch faith stands to reason 
in different lights ; though Anaelm differed from 
Abehrd, and Duns Scotus from both, they were all 
•greed that the truth of the doctrines of the Church 
TOs unquestionable, and that all things else had value 
only as they stood related to them. Philosophy, it 
fw supposed, had its value, but only as " the hand- 
maid of Faith " ; Logic had its use, but only as 
its formulas and cat^ories could be pressed into 
tlie service of truth of a different kind. 

This system, which for centuries engaged the attention 
anil exercised the ingenuit}- of the ablest minds in 



Europe, was not altogether a wasteful or profitless 
expenditure of thought ; for not only did it keep 
alive an intellectual interest in the Church, bat 
Uiough opposed to the " New Learning," it helped to 
prepare the way for it. In trying to make clear to 
the understanding what had pre\-iously been received 
by faith ; ^ in seeking to rationaUze the dogma, 
prepared the way for that freer movement of mind 
which attaches value to and finds interest in every- 
thing that is rational — everything, that is to say, that 
hears in itself the evidence of being the expressioa 
of mind or reason, whether human or divine, in nature 
or the Bible, in art or science, in literature or politios 
^and that is tlie spirit of the Renaissance — a spirit 
which finds its legitimate issue in our own time in 
the twin processes of criticism and physical science— 
^ spirit which, though opposed to Scholasticism am 
that ecclesiasticism which found its development ii 
the Eoman Catholic Church, as the history of science 
in relation to the action of the Church so clearly 
shows, is not opposed to that religion we have been 
taught by Christ, which affords not only a controlling 
principle for the conduct of life, but seeks, too, to ■ 
hallow all hiiman knowledge by leading the mind 
to regard its increase as an evidence and manifestatioo 
of the growth of human intelligence, and a widening 
of human thought by a further participation in that 
Divine wisdom whicli underlies and gives unity to all 
the varied phenomena of the universe. 

Of this general movement of mind it will be i 

the Ee\'ival of Letters was but a phase. Ai-t, liV« 

literature, had suffered through being subjected to 

' " Credo ut iiit«lligam." — Aosebn. 


schukadc metlioiLs. Tlie activity of niiiiil wliicli tlio 
jrarsuit of art implies had been triimiueled Uirougli 
another end heiiig sought than that wliich art aeeb» 
for itself. The importance was attached to the object 
ami not in the least to the form in wliidi it was 
tiresented. The less the form diverted the attention 
from the saint or vii^rin, or whatever other object 
poBaeaBing the element of sacredness, was pictni'ed, 
the more completely it was snpposed it had fulfilled 
its end. But iu the new impidse imder which thir 
mind was working, the beautiful was sought for its own 
sake, and its search thought to be justified by the 
Btisfactioii which its conception or realization could 
tffitnl. And it was in that bygone age of which we 
have been speaking that the educated mind of Europe 
fimnd beauty and truth expressed as they had not 
teen during the centuries that intervened. Believii^', 
too, they saw in it the human spirit in its richest 
Jevelopment, the interest in them, and the intiuencc 
over them, tlie knowledge of it was capable of exer- 
eiang, were reganled as being of a very human kind. 
And there was a special appropriateness accordingly 
in the name of " Humanist " which those concerned in 
this movement both took and received. Very terrible 
indeed was " Humanism " in its moral conseiiuences. 
Nearly all of those who were carried away by the 
movement as it developed itself in Italy sought to 
iiiingle, as had been done centuries before, Christianity 
anil Greek Philosophy ; and in seeking to lay hold 
rf both they missed what was best in each. Ficino, 
the Lead of the Platonic Academy in Florence, was 
said' to keep a lamp burning before the shrine of 
' Seebohm's Oxford Eef ormera, p. 10. 


the Virgin, and one before the bust of Plato ; but in 
thus seeking to pay adoration to the old and the new, 
to combine the lights issuing from two diverse systems, 
as in a process known in physical science as the 
intei*vention of waves, the result was darkness — amoral 
disorder and confusion. Heathen vice was practised 
without any of the restraints which many of the 
heathen knew. This immorality — the selfishness and 
worldliness which characterized the lives of so many 
of the Humanists, and stiiTed up noble hearts like that 
of Savonarola to a fierce and holy antagonism — ^made 
Erasmus, in after years, fear " lest, under the pretence 
of a revival of ancient literature, paganism should 
again rear its head." But the immorality to which 
the Kenaissance led in so many cases was not an 
essential feature of it, and it was in the end to which 
Erasmus and those who acted like him made it sub- 
servient, it found its justification. The Humanisms 
for the most part sought to live in the past, and 
finding Christianity rather a barrier in the way, took 
from it only what was considered to be compatible 
with thought which had received expression before 
Christianity began. But Erasmus sought to lay hold 
of what in itself was good in the past, and make it 
helpful in supplying the intellectual and moral needs 
of man in the present. And how he did so we shall 
see by looking further at the life he led and the work 
he did. 

Unable at the time to go to Italy through want of 
money and enfeebled health, Erasmus returned to Paris, 
and spent there the most part of several years in hard 
and congenial labour. Books afforded him not only 
work but pastime. " At dinner," he wrote to a friend, 

ERASMUS. 15!) 

quoted by one of hia biogntphers, " we talk ul' noth- 
ing but books ; and our suppers ure uiude palatable 
with literature, Wlien we go to walk our conversation 
still about books, anil even in our games we cannot 
(l-uitfi forget them. We converse about thorn till sleep 
~& over lis, and then our dreams are learned. When 
waken in the morning we begin tlie day with 
lelteTB." -And the habits of industry and interest in 
learning to which this bears witness continued with 
Erasmus throughout his life. Already was he suffi- 
oently well known for his scholarly ac'iuiremeuts to 
make his services as tutor solicited by students who 
bill been drawn from other countries to Paris through 
tliB fame of its university ; and it was through the 
wnolnments he received in teaching some of these he 
■raa able at this time to maintain himself. One of 
itiese pupils — an Englishman, named Lord Moimtjoy 
— lielped him in after years freely with money, and re- 
nained throughout life his friend. Through his infln- 
«M, and in his company, Erasmus, now thirty-one 
THUS of age, set foot on English soil, 

Hia fame had gone before luui ; and there may be 
Inth in the story so often re]ieateil, that on meeting 
with Sir Thomas More — -who was some years younger 
4m liimeelf — at the dinner-table of the Lord Mayor, 
w ex-Lord Mayor, of London, and getting into friendly 
iiscnasion with Iiira, each was so much struck with 
the ability of the other, that Erasmus, who had heard 
of his antagonist, but had not been introduced to him, 
adahned : " Either thou art Sir Thomas More, or no- 
bwiy ;" on which Sir Thomas replied : " Either thou 
WEraflmus, or the deril." Whatever truth there may 
M in this, the famous lx)rd Chancellor, with his great 



intellectual gifts, combiueil with a disposition 
as we know from Erasmus' own account of him, b 
great gentleness and strong afi'ection, quickened 
Erasmus, as he did in many others who became 
quainted with him, a feeling of the keenest interef 
and warmest attachment. But there were others beside 
him whom Erasmus got to know on this visit to Enj 
land wliose frientlship was, throughout life, helpful I 
him and a source of the greatest satisfaction. Thes 
he fouud at Oxford. Though the University thes 
like that of Paris, was still under the control of tli 
Scholastics, there were men in it who had gone to Ital; 
and were teaching — tliougli with little favour frw 
Ihoat! in authority— the Oreek they had learned thi 

Among the scholars with whom Erasmus becam 
iicquainted at Oxford, there was one who perhaps 
ercised in course of time a greater influence upon 1 
tlian any other. A man-^acconliug to all we are tolj 
of him — of deep and fervent piety ; of unselfish wa; 
and religious earnestness; of great ability and vari© 
learaing ; and one who did more perhaps than any othei 
since the days of Wyclif, to prepare the way for tlie Ka 
formation in England. Tliat was John Colet — -aftei 
wards the JJean of St Paul's. He, too. had been ii 
Italy, and may hi Florence have heard Savonaroli 
pour out the fiery eloquence that quickened new IK 
and new interest ui many hearts that were 
and deadened through worldlineas and unbelief; 
on his return to OxfoKl, Colet showed the infli 
the Kew Learning had exercised over himself, in b 
that was not only novel, but calcidated to excite op 
position on the part of those in authority, and who w 
still regarding the Greek language — the language 



'pagans and heretica" — -with t!ie greatest suspicion, 

Bid were affording even less freedom for the study of 

Hoi Scriptures than had been enjoyed iu days before 

ffyclif began his work. Despite tlie danger he ran, 

Colet began to lecture on tlie Epiatle of Paul to the 

and in doing so, rejected the Scholastic 

method of treating the Bible as an annoiiry of texts, 

which those possessed of logical skill might find 

weapons either for offending each other or defending 

the dt^^mas they held in common ; and in the use of 

which they were led iu theii- interpretutiou of Scripture 

tomcftiiings that were fanciful and absurd. To (Jolet, 

,ti» Bible was a book of vital truth — of truth that 

•tood in the closest relation to the hearts and welfare 

((loea, To him the Christ of the Epistles was real, 

tlie apostle in writing about Him was rational. 

ft him, as much perhaps as to Luther, " Paul's words 

not dead words, but living creatures that have 

Wi hands and feet " ; and in so treating tlie book, 

'to was led, and led others, into direct opposition not 

fc!y to the corruption that characterized the liomau 

■Hmrcli, but to much that was regarded as an essential 

put of the system it had reared. From this man, it 

'Wnlfl appear, Erasmus got not a. little of that materia! 

"ueh in after years he fasluoued with so much skill 

Uioae shafts he levelled at the abuses of the 

and which, pointed as they were with a wit 

fl taillery peculiarly his own, did so much to injure it. 

Erasmus was not only charmed with Colet, Colet was 

(iinaad with Erasmus, and finding in him one who 

W only shared his tastes and aims, but an apt pnpil 

was already prepared to receive his views, Colet 

hope of finding in Erasmus a fellow-labourer at 


Oxforil ; and on seeking to realize that hope urged him 
to deal with some hook or part of the Old Testament 
in the way in which he himself had Ijeen dealing with 
the New. But Erasmus, now aud always, waa 
unsettled in hia views and restless in his habits ; not 
without ambition either, and looking perhaps at the 
time elsewhere and in other ways for rewards such as 
Oxford had not then in its power to bestow upon him. 
That was not the reason, however, lie gave to liis friend 
for refusing hia appeal. This he found in his imper- 
fect knowledge of Greek, and in tlie fact that though 
he approved of Colct's opposition to the Schoolmen, he 
did not believe that he himself " bad strength of mind 
sufficient to enable him to sustain the ill-will of so 
many men stoutly maintaining theii oivn ground." 

From Oxford Erasmus went to London, where, 
unrestrained by any of the Puritanic notions that gave 
to the life of his friend Colet a serious earnestness, 
he lived merrily, yet, so far as evidence goes, also 
morally. His scholarly reputation gave him free access 
to the best society, and his affable ways and ready 
wit made him a favourite with all. Of those away 
from Oxford to whom he was introduced there was 
none whose acquaintance was regarded by him with 
the same measure of interest, or held as so great an 
honour, aa that of a lad of nine years into whose 
presence bis friend Sir Thomas More brought him in a 
quite unexpected way. This was Prince Henry, after- 
wards Henry VIII. of England. 

Gratified by this and other introductions, and 
dehghted with England and the scholarly men he 
had met — of whom he specially mentions Grocyn and 
Linacre, Colet and More, ha returned to the Continent, 




some years, partly through want of 
Honey and partly through want of health, life pressed 
mnewliat heavily upon him ; and there is a touch of 
{■athos iu this earnest student, though not actually 
pifferty-stricken, crying out for money, and declaring 
that as soon as he gets some " he will buy first Greek 
Ixoks and then clothes." Poor he really waa not, but 
lie liked to live comfortably, and believed that the deli- 
ate state of his health required him to be more than 
otdinarily careful with regard to his food and drink, 
snil whatever else may be thought to furnish an 
il condition of human comfort. To attain tliia 
Bid he dunned his friends for money and presents ; 
ml though he always did so in the best of humour. 
f6t he did it iu tenns so plain and direct tliat it would 
B difficult to understand how one so sensitive as 
■twa coidd write as he did, if we foi^Tot that he had 
*s, and was still, a monk, and that begging and 
■^gary were in a monk if not a virtue, at least 

But we shall not seek to follow this little fair-haired 

toi— as he was painted by his contemporary and friend 

Mbein — ^with his delicate health and restless brain, 

4 his sparkKng eye and subtle mind, as he wanders 

to place, shunning the plague or seeking 

with the learned ; editing old books or 

[ new ones ; composing as he rides and writ- 

. he rests ; penning the cleverest letters, and 

I, in after-life at least, as many as forty in a 

pis enough for our purpose to notice that during 

Erasmus carried out his long-cherished 

? of going to Italy and seeing the capital of the 

em world. 



Very diifereiit was the manner m which Erasmus 
entered Home from that of Luther, who went 
there a year or two after liim. Tlie Monk of 
Erfurt, iu the company of another, goes on foot 
depending for board and lodging upon tlie charity 
shown him at the variona religious houses that lie in 
the way. Erasmus ridea, is clothed comfortably— 
having received a dispensation to abandon his monkish 
dress— and lives on the best that money can command. 
Different, too.were the feelingswhich possessed the hearts 
of these two men, who were afterwards so closely related 
in their work, as they approach the same destination. To 
Luther, Rome was interesting, specially as the city 
where the blood of so many martyrs had been shed ; 
to Era.9mus, as the city where so many men of genius 
had lived. Here poeta had sung and omtors had 
spoken, whose ver}' names excited in the breast of the 
scholar of Rotterdam feelings of admiration and even 
affection ; and did so, because he was able to say with 
regard to them, as he wrote years afterwards in his 
collofiuies:' "I find some things said by some of them" — 
among whom he specially mentions Cicero — "so chastely, 
50 holily, and so divinely, that I cannot persuade 
myself but that when they wrote they were divinely 
inspired, and perliaps the Spirit of Ciirist diffuses itself 
further than we imagine, and that there are more 
saints than we have in our calendar," 

The interest Erasmus felt iu the writers of a classic 
^e was shared by some of those he met in Rome, and 
to whose society he found a ready entrance. But hi 
Home — the citadel of the Church, as throughout Italy 
the Renaissance was not developing as it was in some 
■ ColloquieB. Tlie Eeligioua Treat. 



luntries through traiisformiug and iissimilatinK 
thought of the time, and already was its strength 
all but exhausted. The Pope, Julius II., though a 
patron of men of letters, had, according to Haoke, " as 
tlie rnling passion of his life " an " innate love of war 
snil conquest " ; and Erasmus found him, as lie wrote, 
" wining, conqueiing, triumphing, and openly acting the 
Caaar " ; and of war Erasmus had throughout his life 
the greatest horror, and again and ogaiu ilenounced 
it in the strongest language. " I often wonder," lie 
aays un one occasion, " what it is tliat urges, I will 
nut say Christians, but men to such a pitch of madness, 
that they will make every effort, incur any expense, 
md meet the greatest dangers for their mutual de- 
Bniction .... Can we who glory in the name of 
Oiiist, whose precepts and example taught ua only 
gwtleness, we who are members of one body, who are 
ooe flesh and grow up by the same Spirit, who are 
Bunrislied by the same Sacraments, attaclied to the 
ame Head, and called to the same immortality, and 
*lw liope for that highest Coiiununion, that as Cliiist 
tad the Father are one, so we may be also one in 
ffiin, — can we, I say, think aiiythmg in this world of 
iDdi value that it should provoke us to war ? — a thing 
» ruinous, so hateful, tliat even when it is moat just 
iht tnily good man can approve of it." 

Thcpugh Erasmus found much in hia experience at 
Botne that tempted him to remain; though he was 
iHwived with favour by those wliose acquaintance he 
•as most anxious to make ; tliough prospects of high 
Kdesiastical preferment were held out to him by 
(Iwise who had influence enough to secure it ; and an 
lumoimible position in liis court was actually offered 


him by the Pope, after a few months' stay in Rome 
he left it at the iuvitation of friends in England. 

To ecclesiastical preferment, or honours in Church 
or State ; to the friendship of popes and princes and 
the worldly advantage that might hring, Erasmus was 
far from being indifi'erent ; and tlie prospect of reaping 
reward more speedily in England than in Eome would 
seem from his own account of the matter to have had" 
something to do with his going there. There he had 
many friends, and amongst them one at least who 
had it in his power to do him service — Henry VIII., 
who had shortly hefore this time sueceede< 
throne. And though the King conferred no special 
favour upon Erasmus, he believed he had ground f 
the expectation he entertained in the fact that before 
his accession the King, with his own royal fingers, 
ha*l penned a most friendly letter to him. 

Of this letter, as of others he received from I 
who were Iiigh in authority in Church and State; 
Erasmus was proud an<l inclined to boast. And yet 
we shoidd mistake the character of the man if we s 
posed he did so through that "puerile vanity" with which 
he was so freely charged in liis own day, and by 
D'Auhigne at least in ours. The impulse under which, 
he acted in speaking or writing as he did, of some o4' 
the letters sent him and honours bestowed upon him, 
was not that feeling wliieh so often leads a man to 
affect the possession of gifts, or ostentatiously display 
those he has, for the supposed advantage this may; 
secure, Erasmus had at no time an exaggerated fe^ingr 
of his own importance, or immoderate desire for t' 
applause of his fellows. He was not, it is true, alto- 
gether insensible to his own merit.'i, or without a feeling 

ERAS.\fUS. 1(57 

uf gratification ii! their recei^^iiig acknowledgment fi-oiu 
those in high places. Possessed of a nature that was 
quick and sensitive, and that felt praise and blame as 
men of coarser mould do not, tliis poor scholar of 
Rotterdam, who was hy the sheer force of his own 
exertions quickly raising himself to the foremost place 
amoug the men of letters, found no little gratification 
in the testimony that was home to his merits and 
influence in the notice taken of him and the favours 
)>e3towed npon liim by those, around whose names 
worldly greatness had thi-own a halo of glory ; and with 
that frankness that chai-acterized him and led liim to 
open his heart to all the world, and make everyone 
who would a partaker of its secrets, he readily gave 
expressiun to it, A truer estimate indeed of himself 
and of the intlnence he exercised, a clearer perception 
of the value of his work and the principles that were 
guiding him ui it, would have made him less anxious 
for the applause of popes and princes, and afforded him 
the satisfaction of knowing that his name had a lustre 
which their favour could not increase, and would yet 
sliine with a splendour such as theirs would never have. 
Ambitious, too, Erasmus was, as his conduct on this 
and other occasions, and his letters with regard to them, 
clearly show, and yet his ambition was not of that 
^noble kind which finds its end in mere self-gi'atifica- 
tion. Wisdom he placed above wealth, and all the 
honours of the world he thought were not to be com- 
pared in value with the culture which learning brings ; 
and though he found and felt the highest satisfaction 
in excellence of an intellectual kind, yet his pursuit of 
literature hatl not merely that as its end, but the pro- 
motion of a general good to be attained through the 


(iiffiisiou of a knowledj^e in the benefits of which nil 
might share. 

Of liis desire to further useful enda, through the 
application of the knowledge he hod been acquiring 
during years of hard and continuous work, he 
had already, before this visit to Ent^land, given 
abundant proof. Besides other books he had published, 
there was issued in 1500 the first edition of his 
" Adages " — a collection of " the wise and witty say- 
ings " of those who in former days had written in the 
langiiagea of Greece and Rome. To this he appended 
notes, explanatory and practical, which are interesting 
— if for nothing else — as showing that the age of mere 
collecting and editing had gone, and that one of criti- 
cism and exposition had begun. In suhser[uent editions 
we are informed by the accounts we get of the book, not 
only was the number of the Proverbs greatly increased, 
but Erasmus took advantage of some of them when 
explaining and applying the principle they contained, to 
attack many of the abuses of the time in Church and 
State, and as exemplified ui the conduct of popes and 
princes, priests and monks. 

But another book Ei'asmus published shortly after 
his first edition of the " Adages," though leas interesting 
in a hterary point of view, is more so for our present 
purpose, as giving us a clearer indication of the relation 
in which he st^iod to the Romish Church, and the 
views he held of religious truth in its application to 
daily condiict. The occasion of the book is interesting 
and is worth mentioning. 

A lady whom Erasmus met at the Castle of Tomen- 
hens, though herself manifesting a apiilt of true piety 
nnd religious earnestness, had as a husband a soldier 

F.RASMUS. 160 

of licentious life, (.'(.iiicenied about him, and ! 
to do iiiin good, slie asked Erasmus to write a few 
thoughts on the subject of religion, such as he supposetl 
calculated to ett'ect the end she liad in view. 
Erasmus complied, afterwards expanded his notes, and 
publislieil tliem under the title nf " Enchiridion," or the 
" LTirislian Soldier's Uagjjer," or " Manual." 

Thougli Ignatius Loyola, in his cflnsuining zi^al, found, 
we are told, no " unction " in the treatise, and forhade 
lus Order to read it, ere many years had gone it became 
I favourite with the Eeformei-s. Of much in the book, 
bearing more particularly on the subjects of human 
dgnavity and the relation of faith to works, they could 
Mt approve ; hut they liked it because of the manner 
n which it condemned tlie superstitious of the Church, 
ud commended a piety that was practical. " The 
Biust acceptable worship," he wrote, "whicli you can 
(ifer to the Virgin Mary is to endeavour to imitate her 
ImmiUty." "If you must adore the bones of Paul 
loeked up in a casket, adore also the spirit of Paul 
cliicli shines forth from his writings." " You gaze 
wilJi mute wonder on a tunic or Imndkereliief which is 
lud to liave belonged to Christ, and yet when you read 
tie oracles of Christ your eyes droop with sleep." 

But with monks and monkerj', and the abuses gener- 
% which in the course of eeiitiiries had grown up in 
ifce Christian Olnirch and marred its beauty, Erasmus 
iJwlt in a different manner, and with more effect, in a 
bortt published in 1510, and aliortly after he arrived 
in England from Italy. ' Sitting in the house of his 
frieml Sir Thomas More, ill, anrl waiting for his books, 
Ih l)ug«iled his leisure by writing from notes he had 
fflmle on his travels, his " Praise of Folly " — or " En- 



cijiiiiuin Moriif " — suggested to him, he tells iia in its 
dedication, by the fact that his wise friend had a name 
whose literal meaning was " Folly." In the book. Folly 
is represented aa mounting the rostrum, and, 
Holbein's illustration, with cap and bells, i 
terms of the highest self-laudation. This she finds 
ground for doing in the conviction that all men are 
more or less under her influence, and it is because they 
are so happiness is so generally enjoyed. In a vd 
of the ricliest satire, men of all classes are attacked^ 
and abuses of all kinds exposed. The ^ 
in his time ascribed to shrines and rehcs, fasts and 
pilgrimages, pardons and indulgences, is freely ridiouledj 
and kings and princes, popes and cardinals, schoolmen! 
and divines, priests and monks are freely chastised, and 
chastised aU the more severely that raillery and bantei 
give directness and force to the serious purpose tha 
writer has in view. " Erasmus," it lias been said, 
" injured the Pope more by joking than Luther by 

Of the Popes, amongst much more, he says : " They 
think to satisfy the Master they pretend to serve, our 
Lord and Saviour, with the gi-eat state and magnificence, 
with the ceremonies of instalments, with tlie titles o 
reverence and holiness, and with exercising their epiaco 
pal function only in blessing and cursing. . . , . Thei 
only weapons ought to be those of the spirit ; and o 
these indeed they are mighty liberal, as of their inters 
diets, their suspensions, then' denunciations, their a, 
vations, their greater and lesser excommunications, i 
their roaring bulls whomever they are thundered againsti 
and these most holy fathers never issue them mor4 
fre«|uently than against those who at the instigation ( 


the devil, and uot having the fear of God hefore their 
eyes, do feloniously and maliciously attempt to lessen 
and impair St. Peter's patrimony ; and thongh that 
Apostle tells our Saviour in the gospel in the name of 
ail the other disciples, we have left ail and followed 
thee, yet they cliallenge as his inheritance, fields, towns, 
treasures, and large dominions; for the defending where- 
of, inflamed with a holy zeal, they fight with fii'e and 
sword, to the great loss and effusion of Christian hlood; 
thinking they are apostohcal maintainers of Clirist's 
spouse, the Church, when they have murdered all such 
as they call her enemies ; though indeed the Church 
has no enemies more bloody and tyrannical than such 
bloody popes, who give dispensations for the not preach- 
ing of Christ ; evaciiate the main design and effect of 
our redemption by their pecuniary bribes and sales ; 
adulterate the gospel by their forced interpretations 
and undermining traditions ; and, lastly, by their lusts 
and wickedness gi'ieve the Holy Spuit and niake their 
Savioui^s wounds to bleed anew." 

Of the monks, amongst other things, he says : " Most 
of them place their greatest stress for salvation on a 
strict conformity to thek foppish ceremoides, and a 
behef of their legendary traditions : wherein they fancy 
to have acquitted themselves with so much supereroga- 
tion, that one heaven can never be a condign reward 
for their meritorious life ; httle tbiuking that the Judge 
of all the earth at the last day shall put them off with 
a — ^Who hath required these things at your hands ? and 
call them to account only for the stewanlship of his 
l^ftcy, which was the precept of love and charity. It 
will be pretty to hear their pleas before the great 
tribunal : one will brag how he mortified liis carnal 


appetite by feeding tiuly upon tisli ; anafclier will urge 
that he spent iiiuat of liis time in the liivina exBrciae of 
singing psalma ; a tliird will tell how many days he 
fasted, and what severe penance he imposed ou liimself 
for the bringing the body into subjection ; another will 
produce in his own behalf as many cereinonie.? (i.s woidd 
load a fleet of merchantmen ; a fifth will plead tliat in 
three score years he never so much as touched a piece 
of money, except he fingered it through a thick pair of 
ji;Ioves ; the next that comes to answer for himself shall 
plead that for fifty years together he iiad Uved like a 
sponge upon the same place, and was content never to 
change his habitation. But amidst all their fine ex- 
cuses our Saviour shall intenmpt them with this answer: 
Woe unto you, scribes and Pliarisees, liypocrites, verily 
I know yon not : I left you but one precept of loving 
one another, which I do not hear any plead lie has 
faithfully di.scharged ; I told you plainly in my gospel, 
without any parable, that my Father's kingdom was 
prepared, not for such as should lay claim to it by 
austerities, prayei'S, or fastings, but for those who should 
render themselves worthy of it by the exercise of faitli 
and the offices of charity ; I cannot own such as depend 
on their own merits witlicmt a reliance upon my mercy; 
as many of you therefore as trust to the broken reeds 
of your own ileserts, may even go search out a new 
heaven, for you shall never enter into that which from 
the foundation of the world was prepared only for sufh 
as are true of heart." 

yeven years I>efore Luther publicly attacked the '^ili, 
of indidgences, Erasmus wrote : " Wliat '<hall I si} f 
such as cry up and maintain the cheat of paidons and 
indidgencies that by these compute the time f each 



wol's residence in purgatorj', and as-siyii tlieni (i longer 

shorter continuance according as they purehase more 

te fewer of these paltry pardons and saleable ex- 

anptJons By this easy way of purchasing pardou, 

wy notorious highwayman, any plunderiny aoldier, or 
mj liribe-lakiug .jtidge sliall diahurse some part of tlieir 
gains, and ao think all their grossest impieties 
aiflidently atoned for; so many perjuries, lusts, drunken- 
wees, quarrels, liloodsheds, cheats, treacheries, and all 
Wis of dehaucheries. shall all lie, as it were, struck a. 
^Kgaiu for, and such a conti-act made as if they paid 
liffJIan'ears and might now begin a new score." 

A buok, much of which is written after tliia manner, 
aiwl&ting rapidly and widely — and no less tlitm scveu 
ifitiona, we are told, were sold out in a few inontlis of 
i*fint pahiication — could not but pi'nve an effectual 
**n9 of preparing the way for those who in virtue of 
to ilefiniteness of their aim, and the success that at- 
"ftlrf their work, have by special emphasis been 
■■Wed the Reformers. 

It is not merely, however, through his puhUcation of 
flraftaiso of Folly we aee the relation in which he at 
'^ time stood to the Church, Paying a visit one day 
hlhe alirine of " Our Lady of Walsiiigham," and being 
'"*ii a gate in the churchyaid wall so small tliat one 
*■! to stoop to enter, through which, he was assured, 
I bight on horseback pursued by an enemy, on reconi- 
-todiag liimself to the Holy Viryui, managed to go ; a 
™ge joint, wliich lie was told belonged to the Knger of 
^feter; some uf the Virgin's milk, and other curiosities, 
" expressed liis scepticism so freely that the " shewer 
(f relics" got indignant, and was only pacified by the 
WrtOwal of a small sum of money. 


From t!ie same dialogue in wliieh, after liis biimor- 
0118 way, he records a description of tliia visit we learn 
that in the company of his friend Colet he paid a visit 
to the shrine of St. Tlionias k Becket at Canterbury. 
Through the favour of Archbishop Wareham, with 
whom Erasmus was on terms of friendship, and to 
whom be dedicated one of his greatest works — Iiis 
ethtion of St. Jerome — there was not a httle shown 
them that was r^arded as too sacred, or too precious, for 
ordinary eyes to see; and on Colet suggesting that much ' 
of the wealth they saw in the form of jewels and gold 
might be devoted to the good of the poor, and that one 
who was kind to them in Ms hfetime was more hkely 
to be gratified by its being put to that use than allowed 
to he where it was, " the shewer of rehcs," Ei-asmus 
says, got angry, and but for the Archbishop's recom- 
mendation " would have taken them by the shoulders 
and turned them out of the Cliurch." 

During the period in which these and other excur- 
sions were made, Erasmus was engaged part of the 
year teaching Greek at the University of Cambridge ; 
and nothing he did helped the Eeformation movement 
so much as his labours in connection with this lan- 
guage. As early as 1505 he had edited and published 
some annotations on the New Testament by Laurentius 
Valla, and in doing so prefaced tiie book with a letter 
in wliieli he publicly vindicated " the right and neces- 
sity of a free criticism, as m many passages the 
Vulgate was manifestly at fault, was a bad rendering of 
the original Greek, or had been coiTupted." But 
Erasmus took a step in advance of tiiis, and believed 
in doing so he was doing, as he said, " a work accept- 
able to the Lord, and necessary to the cause of Clirist," 



vhsu SB the friiit of a labour so great that Le was al.'lti 
M saj of it ; " If I told you liow much sweat it cost 
DM j'ou would not believe ine." He superintended in 
1516 at the famous printing press at Basle the issuing 
(illis " Novum lustnimentum," or " Greek New Testa- 
mettt with a new Latin Translation," a liook the 
impoRaace of which we shall acknowledge all the mon; 
wuiilj' as we recognize as a main element of tliii 
principle involved in the Eefomiation movement the 
UBrtion uf the right of the individual conscience to 
k tiKraght into direct contact witli the Eternal, or any 
■Wnifestation He may have made of Himself. 

Not only did the Church put itself between the 
fern of man and the Bible, hut it was by no means 
SMfol to see that the truth it received was in the 
powst form attainable. For centuries the Vulgate, or 
I*lia translation of the Scriptures, had been tlie only 
*s in use, and, imperfect as it was, the Church of 
Manila' time received it as having an authority that 
iJsbflolute. And all the translations that had beeu 
J»de of the Bible into the vernacular tongues of 
fiiiope, Wj'clif' s included, had been made from this. 

Thongh not a few translations had been made, t(J 
liia great bulk of the people the Bible was an unknown 
Iwk, and many ecclesiastics knew nothing more of it 
Wn was contained in the cliurcb service. But tlie 
■wk Erasmus did, put the New Testament into the 
iWids of scholars in the language in which it was 
*ritteii, and stimidated men like Tyndale in our own 
pnt the truth, as they found it at its source, 
into tlie hands of the people in the tongue they spoke. 
fc much did D'Aubigne think the Eeformation in 
I fiigUjid was due to this that he was led to say : " Tlie 



principle of the lleformatiou at Oxford, Cambridge, and 
London was the Greek New Testament published by 

That Erasmus contemplated in the work he wag 
doiny not merely the good of scholars but that ( 
others as well, is manifest from much that waa sEud i 
the lengthy and remarkable preface with which the book 
was issued. "The sun itself," he says," is not more atyoi 
mon to all than the teaching of Christ. For I utterlj 
dissent from those who are unwilling that the Scripture 
should be read by the unlearned translated into theii 
vulgar tongue, as though Christ liad such subtleties 
that they can scarcely be understood even by a few 
theologians, or as though the strei^th of the Christian 
reUgion consisted in men's ignorance of it. Tha 
mysteries of kings it may be safe to conceal, but 
Christ wished his mysteries to be published as openly 
as possible. I wish that even the weakest woma^ 
should read the Gospel — should read the Epistles of 
Patil. And 1 wish these were translated into all 
languages, so that they might be i-ead and understood, 
not only by Scots and Irishmen, but also by Turks 
and Saracens, To make them understood is surely the 
first step. It may be that they might he ridiculed by 
many, but some would take them to heart. I long 
that the husbandman sliould sing portions of them to 
himself as he follows the plough, that the weaver 
should hum them to tlie tune of his shuttle, that the 
traveller should beguile with their stories the tedium of 
his journey." 

These words are not only interesting aa showing the 
feeling with which Erasmus regarded the truth of the 
Bible, but remarkable as being expressed and pub- 


iiahed at a time when the Church wa3 in no way 
favourable to the general and indiscrimiiiatc reading 
and teaching of the Scripturea. While, however, 
Erasmus had a good end in view in the pubhcation of 
this book, he liked, at the same time, it has to be 
said, to be on the aafe side, and took the precaution 
in this ease of dedicating his scholarly work to the 
scholarly man who was then at the head of the Churuh, 
Pope Leo X. 

The introduction to this New Testament is not, 
however, the only feature of it that is remiirkable, and 
that makes it worth wliile for our present purpose to 
iiofice it. Several of the hooka and many of the 
passages that had hitherto been received without 
(juestion on the authority of the Vulgate were chal- 
leDL;r3d, and handled in a spirit that was free and 
(riiiual. Tlie Epistle to the Hebrews, e.g,, he main- 
lAiiis, was not written by Paul ; and he questions the 
jpTiuineness of the 2nd Epistle of Peter. The famous 
]iLs~age of the three witnesses in the Ist Epistle of 
-I>'lin, wHcIi our Revised Version omits, was rejected by 
tim on the authority of the MSS, he collated. Even 
ihe Pope's authority had doubts thrown upon it, or at 
Iftist found to have no good ground in the celebrated 
passage, now done in purple and gold in six-feet letters 
oil the interior of the dome of St. Peter's at Borne : 
° Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my 

The critical work, indeed, of Erasmus in this book 

ius been superseded by the labours of others, and is held 

I liy scholars to be of no value. But not only was its 

pnblieation a bold step for this man with his nervous 

ibinldng from opposition to take, but it was one that 


was not without value, and that not merely in pre- 
paring the way for those who would follow up his 
work, but as affording, too, a protest against an 
authority that was external and traditional 

What Copernicus did not many years afterwards in 
a different sphere of thought, Erasmus may be said to 
have done in the sphere of Biblical criticism. The 
labours of Copernicus were not perfect, and ere long 
had to give way to those of Kepler. But in shatter- 
ing the cycles and epi-cycles of an older theory, and 
taking his stdnd on the sun aa the centre of the 
solar system, his protest was no leas strong against 
that view of things which the Church maintained had 
an authority that was divine. And Erasmus, in carry- 
ing out his work in the spirit he did, and writing 
aa he wrote, showed he beheved that truth was 
greater than the Church, and the spirit of man en- 
dowed with an authority which to him who was 
faithful to it was superior to that of Pope and Cmmeil. 
" He who is spiritual, as Paul says," he wrote in 
closing liis New Testament, " judgeth all tlungs, and is 
judged by no one," And thus, may we not say, in 
the spirit of the Eenaissance, as that had manifested 
itself in Erasmus, and more particularly in liis labours 
in connection with the New Testament, the sacred 
and the secular, which the Church in the Middle Ages 
had kept so far apart, " had met together " ; intel- 
lectual enlightenment and truth divine " had kissed 
each other." 

Erasmus, indeed, did not break away from the 
Cfhurch or shake off its authority, and felt all the less 
inclined to do so aa time went on and the Reformation 
movement developed. It was not given him to see the 


full (irift and value of the priuciples he liad been 
so usefully applying, any more thau those who first 
apphed steam as a motive power or electricity to the 
practical purposes of life saw how rich the discovery waw 
in the issues to which in its development it would leail. 
Erasmus believed that the Church had an origin that 
was divine, and, corrupt thougii it was, the Pope was 
still its head. " I am not so impious," he wrote, when 
the Eeformation had really begun, " as to dissent from 
the Catholic Church nor so ungrateful as to differ from 
IiBo, from whom I have experienced no common favour 
and kindness." " If the corrupt manners of the Eoman 
Court call for some great and immediate remedy, 
certainly it is not for me, or the like of me, to usurp 
this office." 

And ifc was through such work as that in which lie 
had been so long and so earnestly engaged — through 
disseminating hterature and attacking the abuses that 
prevailed in the Church, that he hoped to be helpful in 
purifying and strengthening it. But not only was the 
disease too serious, too deeply rooted and of too long 
standing thus to be cured, but the principle of the 
movement which had been carrying Erasmus along 
with it demanded in its appUcation to the Church a 
reconstruction of its form. "No man putteth a piece 
of new cloth unto an old garment . . . Neither do 
men put new wine into old bottles." But this wa*! 
what Erasnms was seeking to do. The seed he planted 
had its natural outcome in Uberty- — in a measure of 
freedom of thought that is incompatible with the 
authority exercised by the Roman Catholic Church, and 
to that authority he continued to how. 

To shake it off, indeed, and seek the reforniation of 


llie system that asserted it, needed a different kind of 
iitan from Erasmus — one of iiitenser conviction and 
stronger self-assertion ; one who feared death less, and 
loved truth more ; one who could not only influence 
the learned, hut move the heaits of the people; one 
who would not sacrifice principle for peace, and dared 
answer Rome's thiiiider with thunder. And such a 
one was at hand girding on his armoiu- and all but 
ready for the fray. The year after Erasmus published 
the first edition of hi,? New Testament, Lutlier nailed 
his famous propositions to the church door at Witt- 
enhei^ — a deed which may be said to have first 
made visible, as the first flash of lightning does the 
coming storm, the commotion and revolution which the 
meeting of concurrent forces that had been long at 
work produced in the Protestant Beformation. 

Though not associating himself with the Informers, 
Erasmus continued to he helpful to them through 
carrying on the very same kind of work by which 
he had done so much to prepare the way for them. 
Before the memorable day on which the Pope's Bull 
was burned by Luther, Erasmus had sought to popu- 
larize the Bible by issuing a paraphrase of some of 
Paul's Epistles, and a few years afterwards he did the 
same for the whole of the New Testament — the Apoca- 
lypse excepted, Tlie fame of the author helped the 
book to sell, and ere long it found a place in every 
parish church in England. 

Previous to the publication of this there appeared a 
second edition of the " Famihar Colloquies "- — the book 
which, of all Erasmus wrote, became the most popular, 
and contains so much that is opposed to the Eoman 
Catholic system that it waf condemned some years 


after it was issued by the Theological Faculty of the 
University of Paris, and placed by the Iiiquiaition 
among " the first-class " of prohibited books. 

But Erasmus, though he continued to help the 
Reformation movement in this indirect wny, believing 
that he saw in it an influence that was adverse to the 
cauae of learning, in wldch he had so deep an interest, 
regarded its progress with a feeling akin to dismay. 
And though the Reformation was ultimately favourable 
to literature — though it quickened intellectual activity 
and stimulated research ; though it spread information 
among the people and awakened them to a sense of 
their interests ; though it circulated the Bible and 
sowed principles the development of which helped to 
usher in the brightness of that day that hurst upon the 
world in " Great Eliza's golden time," yet its immediate 
effects were different. So much so, in the opinion of 
GJoethe, that he was led to say, as quoted by Froude, 
that " Luther thi-ew back the intellectual progress of 
mankind for centuries by calling in the passions of the 
multitude to decide on subjects which ought to have 
been left to the learned." And as Erasmus saw 
this^ — saw religious zeal and the questions of the day 
absorb the attention of the ablest minds — saw the 
movement which Luther was heading carry away in 
its sweep such men as Von Hutten, and Melanethon, 
and Heuchhn — Saint Eeuchlin as after his death he 
called him — and who had been doing for Hebrew what 
Erasmus had been doing for Greek, he regarded it as 
nothing short of a calamity. 

But another reason Erasmus had for deprecating the 
new movement was the disturbances both in Chiirch 
and State to which it g^-e rise. The unsettling of the 


"Id-established order led, as it could hardly otherwise 
ilo, to violent controversy and political rebellion. But 
to Erasmus, in Ids way of looking at things, it was 
better to tolerate error and injustice than seek their 
renaoval if that could be effected only through the 
application of means that were violent. He declared 
" he hated discord so much that he woidd dislike the 
truth itself if it were seditious." " By a natural 
instinct," he wrote, " I so abhor all kinds of quarrels 
that if I had a large estate to defend at law I would 
sooner lose it than litigate." 

Feeling in this way, and seeing the commotion that 
was likely to arise from a man of Luther's strength and 
temperament opposing himself to the head of the 
Church, shortly before the burning of the Pope's Bull 
he sent him a letter, in reply to one he had received, 
in which he addressed liim as " My dearest brother in 
Christ," and exhorted him to moderation. But he 
might as well have tried to curb the wind, or alter the 
stars in their course, for Luther believed that, in what 
he was doing in relation to the Pope's authority, he 
was possessed by a divine impulse, and as much called 
upon freely to fulfil the divine purpose as the wind, or 
the stars, or other objects of God's creative power, 
that have no wiU of their own to refuse compliance 
with the divine behests, but are and do as God com- 

These two men were different, entirely different, and 
it was only in an indirect way they could co-operate. 
Great as Erasmus was in his power of acquisition, and 
in the measure of his knowledge, he was not like Luther 
— a spiritual force that could shape the history of aJl 
coming time through moulding by its inherent strength 


opposing circumstances so far to its own nature as to 
make them subserve its purpose, but was pliable enough, 
through his sensitiveness and dread of conflict, to have 
even his conceptions of truth and duty affected in his 
seeking to fall in comfortably with his surroundings. 
What was in itself right did not always seem to him , 
specially perhaps in later years, the first consideration 
in determining the course of conduct he would pur- 
sue, but what was safe or prudent. " Tliere was a cer- 
tain pious craft and innocent time-ser^Tug," he thought, 
" could be used without doing injury to the interests of 
true religion." As for the truth, " he had," he said, 
" no inclination to liie for it. Every man has not the 
courage to be a mart3T, and I am afraid if I were put 
to the trial I should imitate St. Peter." 

And yet there was a limit to the meastire in which 
his conception of duty could be affected, and in so far 
as he heard the voice of conscience he seemed willing 
to obey it. And though, in his frankness, he speaks 
of himself as he has done, there is no saying how much 
he would have been willing to suffer had he thought 
that through his suffering the interests of humanity or 
of true rehgion would have been promoted. It \s not 
those who have boasted of their fearlessness and devotion 
to truth that have shewn in a righteous cause the 
greatest powers of endurance, or the greatest readiness 
to suffer ; and had Erasmus believed there was good 
occasion for it, he might have proved himself — as many 
a woman has done in the hour of extremity — possessed 
of a courage that was invincible. It was probably a 
very genuine feeling, and more than a mere passing one 
to which he gave expression when he said that though 
be had " no wish to be martyr for Luther, he was ready 


to be a martyr for Christ, if He gave him strength to 
be one." 

Rel%ion on its practical side — religion viewed aa 
"morality touched by emotion" that had its exciting 
cause in a belief of the Holy One — had the greatest 
interest for him, and he " could honour piety," he 
said, " wherever it was found, provided only it 
was genuine." But for mere theological truth, or 
religion viewed as a system of dogmas, he eared very 
little, regarding it as valuable, like rites and cere- 
monies, only as it tended tc promote " a pious disposi- 
tion of the heart." 

Had he been asked to formulate a creed, in comply- 
ing with the request he would have drawn out a very 
short one, " Formerly," he wrote in his introduction 
to his edition of St. Hilary's works, " faith consisted in 
the life rather than in the profession of a multitude of 
articles. By-and-by it became necessary to impose 
articles of faith, but these were at first few in number, 
and of apostolic simplicity. Then the perverseness 
and malice of heretics caused the Holy Scriptures to be 
more diligently discussed, and points of doctrine to he 
determined by the authority of synods. At length 
faith ceased to he a matter of the heart, and was 
wholly transferred to written documents ; and there 
were almost as many confessions of faith as there were 
persona capable of drawing them up. Articles in- 
creased, but sincerity decreased. Contention waxed 
worm, charity wajced cold. The doctrine of Christ, 
which at first repudiated aU strife of words, bi^an to 
look to the schools of the philosophers for protection ; 
this was the first step in the decline of the Church. 
Wealth increased, and power too. The interference of 


the authority (»f the Emperors, moreover, was not very 
conducive to sincerity of faith," And elsewhere he 
says : " It would he better for the Church not to de- 
cide so dogmatically upon so many speculative points 
and make them articles of faith, but only require assent 
to those doctrines which are manifestly laid down in 
the Holy Scriptures as necessary for salvation. These 
are few." What these are, however, he does not seem 
inclined to inquire. Theological truth had too little 
interest for him to tempt him often, or far, it would. 
appear, in its investiffation, and when he enters upon it 
he majiifeats a sceptical tendency in the indulgence of 
which he is restrained through fear of differing from 
the Church and giving ground for a ehaiT^e of heresy. 
Possessed of a mind that was keen and quick in its 
movement, but broad rather than deep, receiving many 
impressions rather than any one with intenseness, he 
saw difficulties and felt doubts in connection with theo- 
logical truth of which men with less true piety than 
himself had no experience : and finding he was apt to 
get unsettled on points that the Church had settled, and 
regarding the form which these assumed as a matter of 
comparatively little moment, he satisfied himself, as 
so many have done, with that spurious rest that is 
found in bowing to the authority of the Church. So 
much did that authority weigh, with him, he said, that 
he " could be of the opinion of the Arians and Pelagi- 
ans if the Church had approved their doctrine." To 
leave the Church and join the Reformers he regarded as 
a mere change of masters, and as he honestly differed 
from their leaders in some of their views, he was con- 
tent to remain where he was. 

His opposition to Luther showed itself speciaUy in 


bis cLiutrDVersy with him ou the subject of Free Will. 
Thouj,'h Luther's view that the ^vill of man was in 
bondage by reason of sin, and that he could will freely 
only in so far as divine grace enabled him to do so, 
was to iiim, as lie said : " a matter serions, necessary 
and eternal, of sucli momentous interest that it must 
be defended at the lisk of life itself," the whole 
question to Erasmus had an interest of a merely 
speculative kind, and he was only led to deal 
with it to gratify his friends in the Church, and 
to satisfy them that he was not, as he was so much 
blamed for being, either with the Reformers or one of 

Though he did not join them, and protested often, 
and strongly, against his name being associated with 
theirs, he had, as he could not but have, after all 
he had done that tended to prepare the way for them, 
much true sympathy with them in the work in which 
they where engaged. Luther, Era.smiis regarded as a 
remedy " bitter and drastic," wliicli the unliealtliy 
condition of the Church required ; and while he de- 
precated his violent temper and thorough -going ways, 
he had a true admiration for his character ; and it 
was only after frequently excusing himself, and much 
delay, that he took up his pen to write against liim. 
No good came of the controversy. Erasmus charged 
Luther with unworthy motives, and Luther, in bad 
temper, called liis opponent, " that enraged viper, 
Erasmus of Rotterdam, the vainest creature in all the 

Luther was not the only one of the Eeformers who 
got angry with Erasmus. With some of them, indeed, 
specially with Melancthon, whom Luther loved, he 

_k I 


remained on tenna of friemlly intercourse. But the 
majority of them could not understand how one who 
had done so ranch to promote the cause into which 
they had thrown their strength, should have refused to 
join them when they hroke away from the Eomish 
Church and put themselves in opposition to it ; 
and the moi-e violent of them attacked him with 
violent language and applied to him opprobrious 

But Erasmus had to suffer attacks from another 
side. The priests and monks were enraged at him, 
and could not hut he after having written ahout them 
in the way he had, and done so much that tended 
not only to weaken their influence and blast their 
reputation, hut undermine the system the interests of 
which they regarded as boimd up with their own, "With 
more truth than he was willing to acknowledge they 
declared : " Erasmus had laid the ej^ and Luther had 
hatched it." And the monk of whom Erasmus tells us 
who took his picture and hung it up in liis chamber 
" that he might get spitting upon it," is an indication of 
the bitterness of feeling with which many of them 
regarded him. " And thus," he says, " I am well 
rewarded for all my labours by being pelted on both 
sides. Among ourselves I am universally accused of 
being a Lutheran, while among the Germans I am 
evil-spoken of as aai adversary to the Lutlieran faction. 
I would, however, give not only my good name, but 
life itself, to calm this most iUsastrous storm." 

Despite these troubles, Erasmus did not lose his 
merry - heartedness, nor did his vigour grow dulL 
During these years, while the Eeformation controversy 
was raging, and he was defending liimself for the 



middle course he seemed to be pursuing of sympathizing 
with much in the spirit of the Reformation, and yet 
keeping friendly witli Rome, he continued to pursue 
in his own pe^cefu! way, and with as much earnestness 
as ever, the kind of work in which he had been so 
long engaged. For eight years, beginning in 1521, he 
worked at " Froben's mill," as he termed the printing 
press of his friend, issuing now a new edition of one 
of hia own books, or writing an introduction to one 
by somebody else ; publishing a commentary on part 
of the Bible, or editing one of the classics or fathers ; 
No longer entreating his friends for money or presents, 
but receiving many, and as acknowledged to be the 
brightest luminary of his age, making the greatest of 
those who sent them feel honoured if they received a 
letter in return. 

The troubles in Basle arising from the Eefonnation 
movement, and the suspicion in which he was there 
held by those who were favourable to it, induced him to 
seek refuge for a time in Fribmg. But he returned; and 
here in 1536, beside the swift-flowing Rhine, and near 
the printing press from which had issued the first pub- 
lished New Testament in Greek, Erasmus died, " sine 
lux, sine crux " — ^without candle, without crucifix — 
so years before an ignorant monk bad reported to his 
friends he had died, thinking apparently it would be 
an i^?reeable piece of news to know that one who had 
spiiken about them as Erasmus had done, had departed 
without the consolations of the Church, or the hope 
which the Church could give. And it was better that 
this man who had sought to direct human faith to a 
higher source of help than that which the ceremonies 
of the Ohtirnh could aJTord, should have died without 


any priest or priestly rite intervening,' between Ms 
spirit and Him to whom he prayed with his departing 
breath the prayer, " O Jesus, have mercy " ; " Lord, 
have mercy " ; " Lord, make an end." 

Thus passed away Desiderius Erasmus — the amiable. 
80 his name means, and in the signification we have an 
index to one of the special features of his character, 
tor whate^'pT else he was, he was amiable. And if we 
conld wish that with Ids gentleness and kindness he 
had had more Gminess and force of will ; that with liis 
keen intellect he had had a clearer perception of the 
value of truth even in its fonnal expression ; that with 
hia hatred of discord he had hated more all manner 
(if unrighteousness ; that with his humanistic breadth 
he had had greater evangelistic zeal, we can still esteem 
him for what he was and admire him for what he did. 
I'oflseaaed of the greatest abilities, he devoted them to 
the best of ends. Though he delighted in peace, his 
life was one of continual conflict, and the foes he did 
'iiltle with were ignorance and supei-atition. If the 
tmth and freedom which have come down to us as the 
(ruit of the Heformation movement are valued by us, 
then we have reaaon to be grateful to him; for without 
liim the Eeforraers of his time would not have been 
whdt Ihey were, or have accomplished what they did. 
It was he, more than any anyone else, who 

" Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age, 
And drove those holy vandals off the stage." 

And now, in leaving him, though we may difler in 
opinion as to the excellence of bis character or the 
Value of hia work, as those have done who were best 
sble to estimate both, we may all at least join in 



the prayer with which he closed ^ his most popular 
book : " May that Spirit which is the pacifier of aU, 
who uses His instruments various ways, make us all 
agree and consent in sound doctrine and holy manners, 
that we may all come to the fellowship of the New 
Jerusalem that knows no discords. Amen." 

DuBiNG a luidsummer afternoon of the year 1415, oil 
the bank of the beautiful lake of Constance, a memor- 
able scene was witnessed. In pursuance of the sentence 
of condemnation paased by the Church Council as- 
Eembled in the town, and in defiance of the imperial 
safe-conduct, John Hua was burnt at the stake. For 
many years he had laboured and written in his native 
Bohemia, for the reformation of the Church. But, 
although he had gathered round him a lai^e party of 
his countrymen Hke-niinded with himself, the autho- 
rity of Pope and Council was against him, and he tUcd 
the heretic's death. There is a tradition to the efFet't 
that in the hour of death's approach — that hour when 
sometimes the soul has seemed to be gifted with a 
prophetic power, and the dying eyes have seen intti 
the future with more than mortal vision — the martyr, 
playing with the meaning of his own name, declared 
to his judges that now they burnt a goose, but that in 
an hundred years a white swan would come whom m 
one would be able to destroy. 

Never had prophetic word seemed less likely of ful- 
filment : and as the years wore on there was little 
indication that the hope which it breathed would he 




realized. The ashes of the faithful ainfessor wei-e i 
into the river Hhiue, which here isauea from the laic* 
His martyrdom became the watchword of a long am 
dreadful war between the people of Bohemia and tb* 
German Empire. In this war the Hussites were ib- 
peatedly and decisively victorious. But success proved 
more dangerous than might have been defeat; for 
through internal discords, the indulgence of carnal 
passions, and the imperfect apprehension of ChristiaB 
doctrine, the reforming movement, which had been so 
full of promise in the hands of Hua, lost its strong 
impulse, and fell into a languishing condition. 

The worst effect, however, of this great religious 
feud was the alienation of the German mind from all 
doctrines akin to those whicli were inscribed on the 
banners of the men who had put to disgraceful rout 
the imperial aiToies. The national honour had already 
been touched by a dispute in the University of Prague 
in which Hus's party remained masters of the situation;; 
and the feeling of soreness was intensely aggravated by 
the bitter and bloody war which proved so humbling to 
the military reputation of the Germans. The Hussite 
victories had shut and sealed the mind of Europe 
against the Hussite doctrine; and there was no thin g 
from which a German, whether ecclesiastic or lay, 
shrank with greater horror than any suspicion of being _ 
t-ainted with the Bohemian poison. Even Luther him- [ 
self was at first cautious in admitting kinship or sym- 
pathy with the Reformer of Prague. 

No doubt there were voices in the night which gave 
unmiatakeable, though fragmentary, utterance to some 
parts of the truth which became full-voiced in Luther 
and the later Reformers. Thus, for instance, John 

LUTHER. 103 

ffesael, who taught in Paris during the latter part of 

Ibe centuiy, attached such importance to faith na the 

tntning-poiiit between the natural and the spiritual 

lifti tliat Lutlier calls liim a rare and lofty spirit, and 

»J^ "If I had read Weaael first, my adversaries might 

i«Te imagined that Luther bad taken everything from 

Hul" So, too, such men as .lohu of Uoch, in Germany, 

Savonspola in Italy, and others, amid much that was 

defective, emphasized the great central truth that 

iriigion consists in a direct and immetliate relation 

between the soid and the work of Christ. These teach- 

il^, however, never became rallying centres of fresli 

t and life. And although, along with many of 

the secular influences of the century — such as the 

reiival of classical learning, the decay of Scholasticism, 

iriiich fell in great part by its own weight, leaving a 

want which llie culture of Humanism could not satisfy. 

the invention of printing, which was to the Iteforma- 

tion what the universal diffusion of the Greek language 

was to primitive Christianity, the widening of tlic 

norimn of common life by geographical discovery and 

commercial enterprise — they combined to predisposf 

ninds for the reception of new truth, yet their 

lisible effect was very limited. 

On the other hand, the Church of Rome appeared to 
renew and consolidate her power. Councils met which, 
l^ their mild and utterly insufficient attempts at out- 
ward reform, gave a further sanction and fixity to the 
alinses of the Papal systeuL Towards the close of the 
century the Inquisition seems to have been established 
■wMi renewed vigour in Germany. The Roman Court, 
Iwcoming supremely confident in its apparently impreg- 
nable security, set no bounds to its excesses, and the 


Papal chair was repeatedly occupied by iiieii whose 
lives were stained with tlie foulest worldliness and im- 
morality. Wlien, ou the 16th day of March, 1517,Leo 
X. brought the tiftli Lateran Council to a triumphant coa- 
cluaion, not a wliisper of revolt was to be beard through 
the wide realm of his spiritual sovereignty. There was 
scarcely an indication that Europe was on t!ie eve of 
the mightiest change in her hist-ory which has taken 
place since the day when an apostle landed on her 

Yet even then, almost in the same hour, an unknown 
hand came forth and wrote strange words of destiny 
witliin sight of all. Little more than seven months 
liad elapsed since the close of the Lateran Council, 
when, on the last day of October, an Augustinian monk, 
without informing anyone of what he was about to do, 
appeared at the Castle Church of Wittenberg among a 
crowd of relic-worshippers, and, standing under the 
arched doorway, posted on the door of the church a 
paper containing ninety-five short Latin theses con- 
cerning indulgences, which in a prefaratory note he 
offered as subjects of a public disputation to be held 
under his own presidency. While Leo was devoting 
himself to those autumn pleaaurea of which he was 
passionately fond- — hawking and fishing and hunting, 
Ijeing splendidly entertained by the princes of the 
Church in their country palaces — a writing was written, 
although he lUd not at once see it; and the interpretation 
of it was, that the vast system of religious worship and 
life of which he was the head, had been weighed in the 
balances and was found wanting. These theses, which 
remain to this day, graven in brass, on the spot where 
they were first set up, formed the beginning of the 

LUTHER. 195 

llefonuatioii, and were the edj^e of the axe laid to the 
huge and inonatroua growtli of inedLeval superstition- 
Even before this, just the one liundred years from 
the very day on which the martyr's spirit ascended in 
its chariot of fire at Constance, this monk, who was 
also a doctor and professor, was finding in the Bible, 
and in his university lectures was declaring to others, 
the truth which had been hidden for long ages, and 
which Hus had but dimly descried. The white swan 
was indeed come, and a new and glorious doctrine — 
the true message of the everlasting Gospel itself — was 
being unfolded, out of the heart of a deep experience 
and Scriptural knowledge, to the roused intelligence 
and spiritual consciousness of the hearers. 

It was by no rapid process that Martin Luther had 
become capable of such teaching, and of such an act. 
The vehemence of hia language has somtimes led people 
to think of him as reckless and revolutionary, self-confi- 
dently assuming the rSlt of Keformer, Nothing could 
be further from the fact. He was a man whose con- 
victions ripened slowly ; and it is remarkable that 
almost all the great crises of his life had their occasion, 
though doubtless not their deepest cause, in outward 
compelling circumstances. At this time he was 34 
yeai-B of age, and the publication of his theses was the 
outcome and climax of a distinct experience of 14 
years' duration — from the day on which he found a 
Latin Bible in the University Library at Erfurt, till 
the time when liis penitents came to him seeking 
absolution on the authority of Tetzel's letter of indul- 
gence. Let us mark the steps of this progress. 

Bom almost under the shadow of the Harz moun- 
tains at the town of Eisleben, to the copper mines near 


which his father had come in search of work, he early 
learnt the meaning of poverty. Blessed with excellent 
and kind parents, he seems, however, to liave been sub- 
jected to a somewhat stem discipline. In his schools 
he was unfortunate, till he went to Eisenach, where his 
young heart expanded under the sweet motherly influ- 
ence of Ursula Cotta, and the instruction of the wise, 
far-seeing Treboniua ; so that he ever afterwards looked 
back to his " dear " Eisenach as a green spot in the 
journey of his life. At the age of 18 he is a student 
at the TJuiversity of Erfurt, remaining there for foui- 
years, and in the middle of that period making his 
momentous discovery of a copy of the Vulgate — the 
first complete Bible he had seen. And although his 
readings in this book were, as yet, but hke the drift- 
wood which Columbus saw, revealing the existence of 
a new world yet undiscovered, they quickened in him 
those spiritual fears and longings which had already 
begun to make themselves felt. 

By what looks an accident, and in consequence of a 
vow uttered in a moment of terror, and which he him- 
self said that he for a time regretteil after it was made, 
he enters the convent at Erfurt. Kot seldom God 
deepens the darkness ere he leads to the light ; and it 
was needful that Luther should know to the uttermost 
the hard yoke from which he was to be God's instru- 
ment for liberating the bodies and souls of men. The 
student, whose work had been full of promise, and for 
whom his father and his friends were anticipating a 
brilliant career in the profession of the law, at first 
tells no one of his new resolve. A fortnight after- 
wards, on a July evening, he invites a number of his 
college friends to supper ; after a few pleasant hours 



hare tieeQ spent, before the merry party breaks «p, 
informs them that this is liia farewell to the world ; 
tnd, notwithstanding their entreaties, that very night 
ioiiKks for admittance at the door of the Augustinian 

For the young graduate there was at first total and 
Wtte disappnintment He entered with devotion into 
lie life which he liad chosen. He made full proof of 
™ momistic discipline. But the thought of sin. 
•lieh had become a reality to hiin even wliile he was 
■It tie University, deepened, and overspread his whole 
Msdousnese ; while, on the other hand, the chai-- 
iSo of God seemed equally terrible. He brooded 
Wr the word " righteousness," but in the Divine 
li^teousneBs," or "justice," he could find no com- 
wt He felt the intense need which the Mystiea 
wtte liim had felt, of commuuiou with God ; hut in 
kis tase there was interposed a tremendous conviction 
*sfai, which had been almost wanting to them. An 
gulf yawned between God's holiness and him- 
™aa a sinner — a gulf wliich seemed only to widen 
*lie strove, by all the prescribed methods, to narrow 
^ He sought carefully in fastings, and vigils, and 
[WjerB, and all kinds of penances and mortifications, 
fefte secret of peace ; but he could not find it. " I was 
pous monk," he said ; " if ever a monk came to 
"toTsn though a monkish life, I would have come 

Gradually, however, a change takes place, He 
pores over the Word of God — first the red-leather 
BDvent Bible, chained to the wall, and then a copy 
'liich he obtains as a present. He reads the pages of 
Occam and Aiigustine. And, above all, he is brought 


into contact witli Stflupitz, the Viciir-Geueral of his 
Order, who at this time paid a visit to the couveut, 
and through whose means it was largely that the 
hlindness was at last taken from his eyes, and he saw, 
as he tells us, the light of the Gospel dawning ont of 
the darkness in his heart. The young monk, who 
had at once attracted the eye of his superior, un- 
bosoms to him all his difficulties — his experience of 
the mastery of sin, his fear of the Divine justice. 
" Why torment thyself with these things ? " says this 
spiritual father. " Look to the wounds of Jesus 
Christ : then shalt thou see the grace of God. In- 
stead of making a martjT of thyself for thy faults, 
throw thyself into the arms of the Redeemer." 
" But," ohjects Luther, " I must be changed before 
God can receive me." '■ No repentance is true," replies 
Staupitz, " save that which begins with the love of 
God and of righteousness. K thou wouldst be con- 
verted, dwell not upon all these macerations and 
tortures : love Him who first loved thee." He finds, 
to his intense surprise, that the word " penitentia." 
which had seemed so bitter to him as he read it in 
his Vulgate, does not mean the penance which he has 
deemed so necessary, but repentance. He comes to 
see that the righteousness of God is not to be de- 
served, but to he received as a gift by faith. Accord- 
ingly he is able to write, in one of his letters, that all 
the passages of Scripture which " used to frighten him, 
now seemed to rise up from all sides, smiling and 
leaping, and sporting with him." " As I had pre- 
viously," he says, " hated the words ' righteousness of 
God," so from that time I began to esteem and love 
them, as words most sweet and most consoling. In- 

LUTHER. 199 

deed they were tu me the true gate of I'ai-adise," The 
Vicar-General was deeply impressed hy his conversa- 
tions with Luther, and he predicted for him a great 
future. " It is not without cause that God exercises 
you by bo many combats : be assured He will employ 
you in great things as His minister." 

The enlightening process goes on. During the second 
year of hia stay at the convent, while he is piostrate 
imder a severe illness, and is again shaken with spiritual 
terrors, an old monk repeats to him the article of the 
Apostles' Creed, " I believe in the forgiveness of sina," 
impressing upon him the fact that we must believe not 
only that David's or Peter's sins, but that our own sina, 
are forgiven; and the words become a rock in the surg- 
ing sea of his troubled thoughts. While he is pur- 
suing his studies in the University of Wittenberg, to a 
chair in which he had been appointed by the Elector, he 
18 struck with the sentence in the Epistle to the 
Romans, " The just shall live by faith," which became 
the heart of his religion and his theology, and which 
has proved to be one of those fontal texts from which 
truth, for a time condensed and sealed, has flowed forth 
in a mighty stream, showing itself to possess an infinite 
significance and power of expansion. Again and again 
during his life these words sounded in his ears — at 
Bologna, where he lay dangerously sick ; at Rome, while 
climbing up Pilate's staircase on his knees, and else- 
where. Forming first one of the practical means of liis 
personal salvation, they became the basis and starting- 
point of the great doctrine of Justification by Faith, 
which he framed into a scientific expression in after 

One eveut happened duiing those years which exerted 



an important influence upon him aa ii reformer of the 
Church — his visit to Iteiue. He approached the city 
in a spirit of deep devotion, falling upon his knees, and 
exclaiming, " Hail to thee, holy Rome ! " but he left it 
with the dream of its sanctity rudely broken. In the 
Holy City fifteen centuries of Christianity had brought 
men raunil again to the cooilition of pagan Honae, io 
which, according to a celebrated testimony, two augurs 
could scarcely meet without laughing. At ecclesiastical 
dinner- tables, and elsewhere, he heard the holiest; 
mysteries of his religion made a jest of, and he 
utterly shocked by the wickedness and unbelief whidt 
abounded on every side. And although he was careful 
to distinguish between the religion and its unworthy 
ministers, the facts of which he had been an eye-witness 
sank deeply into liis mind. " I would not have m 
seeing Rome for a hundred thousand florins," he after- 
wards declared ; " for I might then have felt that I haA, 
done some injustice to the Pope." 

The years which followed his return fmm Rome show 
him to us still quietly engaged at his studies and lec- 
tures. During all this time he seems to have had no 
presentiment of the great work which was awaiting 
hira. Far from counting it a prize to be eagerly grasped, 
that he should change the thoughts of men about re- 
ligion which had served thera in the past, the strong 
language which lie used in the midst of later labours 
gives evidence of the intellectual modesty and spiritual 
reserve with which he j-iclded to the fulfilment of his 
mission. " Had I linown what I now know," 
said afterwards, "not ten horses would ever have 
dragged me into it." " God hurries, drives me. I 
not master of myself. I wish to be quiet, and 

LUTHER. 201 

Unnied into the midst of tumults," Staupitz liad the 
utmost difficulty in persuading him to preach. " In 
asking me to do this," he exclfiimed to hia chief, " you 
wish to kill me. I shall not live for three months, if 
you make me go on." " Very well," was the reply, " eo 
be it, in God's name ; it would be a noble offering to 
make. And up yonder, too, our Lord lias need of able 
and devoted men." And so, first, in a small wooden 
chapel, thirty feet long, temporarily used as the convent 
church, and then in the town church, that voice began 
to speak which was afterwards to be heard in tones of 
liiimder by the world. The touching reluctance, thus 
npeatedly struggled with and overcome, is the highest 
modem rendering of the apostolic " Necessity is laid 
upon me." 

At length a flagrant abuse confronts him in his ordi- 
nary work. Among his duties was that of confessor. 
In the year 1517 Tetzel, Chief Commissioner of Indul- 
Eences for Germany, under the Cardinal-Archbishop of 
Mayence, set up his establishment at Jiiterbok, a few 
nilea from Wittenberg; and Luther, who had already 
b^un to feel an aversion to the system of indulgences, 
becuue fully alive to its enormity when some persons, 
Mnting to the confessional, claiming from him, as priest, 
imoonditional absolution for their sins, and being re- 
fiised the Church's foi^veness except after promise of 
amendment, at once produced Tetzel'a paper bearing the 
Mthority of the Pope. According to the terms of this 
Axmment they had received the remission of all penal- 
^ for sin. including the pains of purgatory, and had 
l«en re-established in the purity of the first hour of 
flieir baptism. 
^Rie chief means by which this writing had been ob- 


tained was the payment of a sum of money. It was 

the custom of the Commissioner to enter the town, 
which from time to time he fixed as his head-quarters, 
in a grand procession, with the Papal brief carried in 
front on cloth of gold. Before the altar a large red 
cross, on which hung a silk banner bearing the Papal 
arms, was set up ; and before this cross was placed a 
great iron chest, to hold the money. Before the money 
could be received, confession had to be made, and con- 
trition felt. But it was frequently arranged that con- 
fession should be made wholesale, while the contrition 
deemed satisfactory was of the vaguest kind. The chief 
stress was laid on the gi\'ing of the money ; all else was 
practically lost sight of in regard to the living, while the 
tinkling of the coin in the box was declared to achieve 
the instantaneous deliverance of the dead from purga- 
tory. All ihe bad features of this system were ren- 
dered doubly bad through its management by a man 
like Tetzel, a vidgar and shameless bra^art, distin- 
guished by incredible effrontery and license of speech. 
With stentorian voice and brazen audacity he recom- 
mended his wares, in the style of an auctioneer or a 
quack, urging the people not to lose such a splendid 
opportunity of buying their salvation. In Tetzel's ap- 
peals we have the loudest and most unblushing contra- 
diction to the language of the New Testament and the 
ancient prophets, which offers the gifts of God without 
money and without price. 

These indulgences were no new thing in the Church ; 
and it is important to get a clear understanding of what 
they mean, for in them Luther's whole controversy with 
the Church is illustrated, and brought to a focus. As 
the subject was discussed in all its bearings, and when 



be found that his theses, instead of being appruved by 
the Pope, as calling attention to the gross mismauage- 
meut in tlie administration of indulgences, were con- 
Jetuned, he was led to re-considBr the whole question 
of Christian doctrine and authority. Little more than 
tliree years had elapsed when the same hand which 
fiierf the theses on the church door committed the 
Pope's iiidl to the flames. 

We must remember, then, that the effect of an in- 
Mgence was supposed to extend to the temporal 
juiiiahment of sin, whether in this world or the next, 
1«t 13, all punishment till the day of judgraeut, whicli 
WstiU to be borne after its eternal punishment was 
Emitted. This temporal punishment was twofold, con- 
"ting, on the one hand, of penances imposed by the 
''liurch, and, on the other hand, of the chastisements 
bii, eapecially in the future life, on the sinner bj' 
S*i, notwithstanding the forgiveness of the guilt of his 
"ii. Now it was these penances and chastisements 
"bioh in early centuries the Church, and in later times 
''pecidly the Pope, had claimed the power of remitting, 
^ is no doubt that the existence of such a claim 
Ms its explanation in the overwhelming sense of sin 
wliich dominated the mind of the early Church, together 
"itli a partial obscuration of the meaning and value 
OtChrist's atonement. The effect of that atonement 
W8 practically more and more confined to the eternal 
"specl of sin — the removal of its guilt and of its re- 
liole penalty in the eternal future ; while as to its 
Iwipotal aspect there was, under the management of 
the Church, what can be called nothing less than a 
sopy or imitation, on the scale of human merit, of the 
wpreine work of the Saviour, It was granted that 


Christ's sacrifice was an absolute and complete atone- 
ment for the guilt and eternal punishment of sin ; but 
these severe penances, which were imposed originally on 
those who had committed great offences, were regarded 
as having an expiatory effect for the temporal penalty. 

The burden was too great to be borne. Accordingly, 
relaxations were gradually introduced. At first these 
were bestowed at the request of the martyrs and con- 
fessors, whose superabundant merit was held to have a 
vicarious vahie, and who were in the habit of granting 
letters of commendation on behalf of those who were 
undei:^oing penance, whose penalty was on this ground 
remitted to them. Certain good works, however, were 
still imposed on the penitent before he was restored to 
the communion of the Church, partly as a test of sin- 
cerity, and partly for the reason that the meiits of the 
martyrs were not regarded as an absolute equivalent 
for the whole temporal penalty. In subsequent times 
these good works were commuted for contributions of 
money towards some religious object, such as the build- 
ing of a church. The danger of such a system is un- 
miatakeable; and it had reached its grossest develop- 
ment in the time of Luther. The full-blown theory 
then was, that the Pope had authority over an inexhaust- 
ible treasure consisting of the merits of Christ and the 
supererogatory works of the saints, and that he could 
dispense this treasure for the benefit of those who were 
wilHng to give money for so good a purpose as the 
building of St. Peter's Church. In the case of the 
living this contribution was to be made by each indi- 
vidual ; while in regard to the souls in purgatory, it 
coidd be made by others on their behalf. 

No doubt it may be said that in the original con- 


ception of indulgences, as thus historically traced, 
there is nothing inherently ignoble, or necessarily of a 
corrupting tendency ; and the practice may be ideal- 
ized by sophistical reasoning. But it rested upon an 
absolute fiction. There is no such treasure of martyrs 
and saints ; and such a conception of Christ's work as 
the theory involved is entirely without foundation. 
Cardinal Cajetan, before whom Luther appeared at 
Augsburg, maintained that " one drop of the blood of 
Christ being sutficlent to redeem the whole human 
race, the remaining part was left as a legacy to the 
Church, and might be distributed by indulgences from 
the Eomau pontiff." It is obvious that on such a fan- 
tastic principle of the interpretation of Christian facts 
as this, any doctrine whatever might be framed. 
Moreover, it was practically inevitable that a system 
which made the remission of sins and the assurance of 
peace with God obtainable, in however refined and 
indirect a way, by means of money, should become an 
encouragement, rather than a preventive, of sin. The 
refinements of subtle thought, especially when founded 
on an ecclesiastical figment, were lost sight of, aud the 
bare result, stripped of all disguise, amounted to this, 
that a tax, according to a graduated scale, was levied 
on sins, which thus became luxuries which all might 
©"joy who could afford to pay for them. 

With Tetzel's proceedings there was a widespread 
dissatisfaction, and the matter had become a pubHc 
scandal. No one, however, dared to raise a voice in 
opposition to what was going on, for excommuni- 
cation had been threatened against all who obstructed 
the indulgences. But Luther's conscience was set on 
flame. And when the matter is brought home to his 


own reaponsibility aa a pastor of souls, lie feels tliat he 
must do wiiat he ean to drive these vile and profnne 
traffickers in sin out of the temple of God; he will 
heat a hole in Tetzel's drum. And ao he appears with 
his remarkable theses, which were the trumpet-hlaat to 
waken Europe to a new life. 

Yet it is remarkable how cautious and conservative 
Luther is in this celebrated protest. He does not even 
commit himself to maintain any of the propositions ; 
but according to a custom of the age, which allowed 
the utmost latitude in public discussion, he simply 
offers them aa matters to be inquired into, in order 
that the truth on each point may be reached. More- 
over, if we regard each of the theses as expressing 
Luther's own opinion, what he retains is almost as 
remarkable as what he rejects. He upholds the valid- 
ity of the Papal pardon, although at the same time 
he says that the Pope has no power to remit sin except 
in declaring it to have been remitted by fJod. Wliat 
he protests against is the abuse of the Pope's commis- 
sion by those who sold the indulgences. All through 
he appeals from the Pope's agents to the Pope himself. 
He denies that there is any such thing as purgatorial 
penance imposed by the Church, although he believes 
in the existence of purgatory ; so that, since the Pope 
can remit no penalties except those which he has him- 
self imposed, indulgences have no value for the dead. 
He declares further that every Christian who feels true 
repentance has a full absolution from punishment and 
guilt, even without letters of pardon (Thesis 36). 
And, although the remission imparted by the Pope is 
not to be despised (Tliesis 38), although he even goes 
the length of saying that God never remits any man's 




guilt without at tlia same time eulijecting him to the 
authority of His representative, the priest (Thesis 7) ; 
yet he afiirras that works of inercy, and even necessary 
household expenses, are far more acceptable to God 
than the buying of pardons (Thesis 45, 46). The in- 
dulgence, therefore, being not commanded (Thesis 47), 
seems to become a spiritual luxury which it is allow- 
able to possess ouly after the more important duties of 
life and religion have been performed. He protests 
against the " errors " and " dreams " of those who 
preached the pardons, and declares that if the Pope 
were acquainted with what they did, he would prefer 
that the basilica of St. Peter should be burnt to ashes 
rather than that it should be built up with the skin, 
flesh, and bones of liis sheep (Thesis 50). The prac- 
tical and distinct result of the wliole document is, 
that the true treasure of the Church is the gospel of 
the glory and grace of God (Thesis 62) ; that true 
repentance, which is life-long and ia not to be con- 
founded with outward penance, obtains a plenary 
remission ; and that it is better to give to the poor, or 
to provide for common necessities, than to purchase an 

Although some of the propositions seem, and perhaps 
were meant, to be contradictory, although much of the 
old error is bound up with the new truth, yet such 
statements aa those last quoted, when received by the 
popular mind, could not but have the effect of par- 
alyzing the whole system ; and no long time elapsed 
before Luther himself saw that the stroke which he 
had aimed against the abuses of the indulgence went 
much further than he had thought ol', gathering momen- 
tum OS it travelled. The impulse which enabled Mm 


to write the ninety-five theses cuiTied liiin onward to 
the denial of many tliinga which are enshrined in 
them as undoubted truth, and tlie affirmation of many 
other things which left the controversy concerning 
them far in the distance. But the study of their 
phraseology and meaning will always possess a living 
interest. In their contents we behold together, the 
darkness and the light, phantoms and facts. The 
ghosts that were vanishing at day-dawn strangely 
mingle with the shapes of the great world of truth 
and reality. These theses form the rubieon between 
the medifeval and the modem world ; and the master- 
spirit who takes us across them, became tlie hero, 
mightier than CEesar, who, by the grace of God, con- 
quered for us the wide and glorious realm of Christian 
freedom and faith. 

The effect produced in Germany was instantaneous 
and profound. The public conscience, wliich had been 
juried, was satisfied by this utterance of truth and 
soberness. The matter was at first treated lightly by 
the Pope ; but at the Roman court there never peems 
to have been the ahghtest idea of giving a favourable 
reply to the obscure monk's appeal. When at last 
Leo roused himself to see the true state of the case, 
one effort after another was made to dislodge him from 
the position he had taken up, but with the result only 
■of convincing hiivi more entirely that he was right 
At Augsburg, where, in Cardinal Cajetan, he encoun- 
tered the calm impaasiveness of authority which would 
accept nothing short of a simple retraction, he appeals 
from the Pope ill-informed to the Pope better-informed. 
And when a bull sanctioning the whole doctrine and 
practice of indulgences was published in December, 


1J18, he had already appealed tii a CounciL At 
Altenburg, in the interview with Miltitz, he parries 
lis Hiidly but keen diplomacy which souglit to 
im to snliniiasion. At Leipzig he engages in 
»pblic Latin disputation of nine daya' duration with 
w, Eek, who seems to have been, what Tetzel was in 
I lower rank, a clever but shallow and blatant 
luibbla. While, at Augaburg, he had set the Scrip- 
t^Ws above the Pope, he now strenuously denied that 
It* primacy of the Pope was of divine appointment; 
^ in declaring that four of Hus's propositions, con- 
wiffied at Constance, were perfectly ortliodox, he 
"tnolly asserted that Councils might err. At each 
be scales dropped from Ms eyes, one error after 
•""fe was put aside : and although for a time he saw 
■ Bs trees, walking, yet his position became more 
fflore clear to liimself, and lie rapidly attained to a 
WJfJete understanding of the truths, both negative 
"■J positive, wliich were henceforth written deep on 
"lieiirt of the new movement. 

il length the rent in the unity of past ages became 
*'tiiitward fact. But it was the doing, not of Luther, 
'"'ftifthe Pope and his Roman advisers, who would 
*""* DO place to the work of purification within the 
of the unbroken Church. A bull published on 
tlelStli of June, 1520, rejected forty-one of Luther'.s 
P^pOsitions, sentenced his books to be burnt, aud 
'"'dared him excommunicated if he did not recant 
"Hiiii sixty days. And the Reformer, having been 
tos oast out from the Church, at length himself took 
**6 final step, after which no return was possible. At 
;lock on a winter morning, at a spot outside the 
te of Wittenberg, still marked by an oak tree, 



he, with his uwn hands, cast the Papal bull into a 
blazing pile, kindled by one of the Masters of Arts, i. 
sight of a great crowd from the University and th< 
town. It was the boldest act of his life — one of th« 
boldest acts ever done by man ; and lie who wa^ 
capable of it was fitted to be the leader of his country 
and of Europe into a new era. 

These years, till the close of his stay at the "Wart- 
bnrg in 1522, were tlie most fruitful period of Luther'i 
life. Uiiring their course he produced his three greaj 
Reformation treatises, his first Commentary on 
Epistle to the Galatiana, and his trajislation of the New 
Testament. Yet, although he thus steadily advance^ 
it is interesting and touching to notice with what hesi- 
tation the great mind turns away from the institutions 
and thoughts of the past. There are moments whffii 
he seems almost willing to stop. He promises to Milti^ 
that he will be silent, and let the aftair, as he saya 
" bleed itself to death." He writes letters to the PojH 
in which, though declaring his inability to retract, hk 
uses expressions of profound humility and reape&' 
And, in his subsequent opposition to the iconoe 
proceedings of Carlstadt, he shows himself fearful « 
laying a rude hand on any of the old usages of worshi] 
"While Carlstadt and the more thorough-going parC 
held that everything should be abolished which "so 
not commanded in Scripture, Lnther laid down tb 
principle that everything might be retained which w^ 
not directly contrary to Scripture. With regard, indee 
to these earlier pauses and indications of a spirit ' 
submission to the Church and the Pope, he has beCJ 
accused of dissimulation ; his inconsistencies of langu&g 
have even been interpreted as part of a deep schel 


for oatwitting Italian policy, and ]iro\'ing that a rude 

(lerman could meet Koman finesse witli its own 

weapons. And it has heen too much the fashion foi' 

Lather's biographers to represent him as possessinj; 

from the first an unwavering eonaciousness and ftill- 

mrbed conception of the work he had to do. We 

l)e!ieve such a view to be the very opiKiaite of a correct 

iotecpretation of the facts ; for it is in entire contradic- 

tiffli to the essentially and manifestly progressive char- 

sctCT of Luther's mind. His new creed was as far as 

powble from emerging, hlie Minerva from the hiuin of 

Jupiter, perfect and complete. For a long period it 

ms continually growing and expanding, and receiving 

'WW elements. His expreasionfi of attaeliment to the 

;flld ajstem of belief and pitictice are nut irony, but the 

ttuks of a sinceiB mind in a state of transition. And, 

uthe poet tells how the windiug Tweed turns and 

'"OS i^ain, as loath to leave the lands through which 

'liWaters have Sowed: so, as we watch the course nf 

a* great Eeformer's thought, while we behold it 

Wlening and deepening, now flowing majestically, 

•inl now hurryiug forward, and now letting itself break 

fflto a foaming cataract, wo see also the yearning regret, 

"Btaniiugs of a noble reluctance, which are precious 

1*M as indications that we have here the procedure 

•■d career not of a reckless enthusiast, blinded to the 

Wellence of what he was leaving, but of a reasonable 

BbDjSIow to change, willing to yield to the ancient 

Kthority, if that be possible, and only niovii^ onward 

1^ the irresistible power of the truth of God, 

It was during this period that he brought into full 
Wd definite statement the doctrine of Justification by 
What ia the meaning of this great principle 



which in modeiTi times lias been identified with the 
Eeformatiou ? aud how far was the expression given to 
it by Luther satisfactory ? 

It may be said that religion lies in a connection 
between tlie seen and the unseen, between that which 
is material, temporal, bodily, and that which is moral, 
eternal, spiritual, between the human and the divine. 
And the truest reaUzation of religion consists in the' 
complete subordination of the lower element to the 
iiigher. When God is supreme, and man is the' 
obetlient creature, the holy child, of God, when the 
material is made the perfect instrument of the spiritual,. 
when the human ia the image of the divine, there ia 
an attainment of the ideal condition, which was the 
purpose of creation. Now in religion, as in all l 
departments of human interest, one of the moat 
widely-spread tendencies has been to make the material, 
in some of its manifold forma, encroach upon thea 
spiritual ; so that the lower becomes first the princips 
organ of, and then a substitute for, the higher. ^ 
memorable and beautiful expression of tiiis tendencj^ 
has been preserved for us in Greek mythology, i«: 
which the divhie and spiritual world is a copy an«: 
reflection of tlie natural. And for all worship an.* 
religious life there is a right relation between the 1 
a relation which is recognized in the Christian Sacre*. 
nients and means of graca But the history 
Ghristianity proves how great a danger there is th^ 
the spiritual shall not be allowed its due and suprem.* 
place. In the system of the mediaeval Church — Has^A 
system whose greatest representative is Gregory VIL— 
we see the fullest endeavour which has ever bee 
made tti realize man's highest life by the direct mea 

LUTHER. 213 

and instnunentality of what is outward, aensaoiis, 

BiateriaL By the theory of ordination which brought 

into existence a distinct class of men gifted with 

mysterious supernatural power, together with the 

theory of the opu^ operaium in the administration of 

the rites of the Church, grace and linlineas became 

nnspiritual and external. The sacrifice of the mass 

attached an extraordinary importance to an outward 

act of man, through wliich both the living and the 

dead were supposed to be benefited. A like fictitious 

TOlue was given to inniunerable ceremonies and 

pMutncea, Good works, even in the barest form, and 

ihnoat apart from the motive, were held to possess an 

lli8o!ute merit. The chaiucter of God was obscured, 

tte aignifieance of Christ's salvation defaced, by the 

Wmliip of saints and the introduction of a thousand 

BiediatiDg influences, which largely undid in men's 

p&ttical experience what had been accomplished 

l? the incarnation and the atonement. Images and 

wlics were holy things. The worship of the con- 

p8gation was conducted by the priest in a dead 


The climax and ciJmination of this system was 
•sticlied in tJie extreme development of indulgences, 
'urtlier than this it was impossible for the material- 
lOO); process to go. One of its highest expressions 
"M the episode of the Crusades, in which the whole 
fflUiagiasm of the Church was concentrated upon an 
Mtward objeet^an object of interest to Christian 
feJing, but never, during the pure ages, itself a centre 
* Iiilgrimage and devotion. But, whether in its 
''ighBr or its lower forms, the development of this 
l^idtaicy led to a distinct, and often gross, materializ- 


ing of the spiritual. I'racticftlJy, in all but the heat 
minds, the tiigher eleiiieut was almost altogether super- 
seded by the lower, in regard to every aspect of religious 

Now, from all this tlie Saxon Reformer delivered the 
minds of men. He restored the spiritual, which had 
been obstructed nnd oppressed, to its true place in the 
estimation of the Church. He made inward faith 
once more the regal, all-controlling principle of the 
Christian life. When the body crushes the soul, we 
have, iu natiu^l life, the animal nature ; in religious 
life, superstition. This superstition Luther swept 
away; and the spiritual life, which liad been all hut 
smothered, breathed freely again. He made faith, 
what the New Testament makes it, the beginning and 
centra of all else, the heart and pulse of the whole 
body of religion. Nothing need come between the 
soul and the divine object of its worship. No hiimau 
nor creaturely mediator. — -neither priest, nor pope, nor 
council, nor saint, nor angel, nor weary round of 
lienance, nor long list of meritorious works — shall stand 
in the way, when man seeks his God. Faith alone is 
needed — the believing of the heart, the clinging of the 

This was in itself a far-reaching reformation. The 
true value of faith, however, depends on what its ob- 
ject is. In those ceremonies and rites, those continual 
masses and penances, there was the distorted perception 
and the stammering utterauce of a grand truth — a 
truth which was sometimes dimly prefigured in heathen 
religions, but has been in a complete and unique way 
revealed through the gospel — the truth, namely, that 
God must do simidMng on behalf of sinful man, if the 

purpose of maii'a being is to be reached. The idea 
latent in all the sacramental and ceremonial acta, un- 
spiritual aa they were, was that God produced some 
effect, for the beneUt of the worshippers, which was in- 
dependent of all qualifications on their part, except the 
external act of submission or reverence ; and further, 
that tliis effect depended on on historical act done by 
God long before, for all the sacrifices of the mass, ficti- 
tious as tliey really wei-e, would have been valueless 
apart from the first sacrifice offered on Calvary. And 
tiie Koman doctrine may be described as a compromise 
between the human, sensuous, materiahzing tendency 
and the truth that a work of absolute grace and atone- 
ment has been accomplished by God on onr behalf. It 
is the element of sin which so frightfully complicates 
the problem of the relation between the spiritual and 
the natural. Both instinct and experience teach that 
the only effectual way of dealing with sin is, that God 
shall forgive it — that he shall put it away and implant 
within us a new nature, a holy character. The utmost 
which the popular system, prevailing at the commence- 
ment of the sixteenth centurj', attained, was a mere 
fragment or caricature of this truth. But it is this 
which, according to Luther, is the object of faith — 'the 
word of God declaring that this has been done in 
Christ. The sole object of faith is the merit and 
righteousness and mediation of Christ, and this ao 
accepted as to be distinguishable in thought, yet really 
inseparable from a holy life, as its consequence. The 
sinner is justified by the act of God for Christ's sake ; 
and the faith which receives this justifying act ia not 
a barren thing, it produces right action. Thus the 
doctrine, as stated by Luther, is twofold. In virtue of 


the faith which is commanded we draw near to God, 
free from all interposing obstacles whataoever — wheUier 
our sins themselves, or supposed means of our own 
for putting them away ; while, on the other hand, 
there is the still more important truth, that God has 
already drawn near to us in Christ, for whose sake 
He is willing at once to absolve us from guilt, and 
give us power to be good and to do good. 

Luther's doctrine has been charged with Antinom- 
iajiism, and his faith has been accused of being in- 
distinguishable from a mere abstract confidence. It 
cannot he denied that he occasionally uses exaggerated 
and paradoxical language. He sometimes speaks con- 
temptuously of the law ; and, in many passages, he 
seems to exalt trust in Clirist's merits and the divine 
forgiveness to a solitary and giddy pinnacle of eleva- 
tion. The very fact of his well-knowQ depreciation 
of the Epistle of James, — a depreciation which is, how- 
ever, less than it is often supposed to be, — is an indica- 
tion of a shrinking consciousness that his conception 
did not absolutely square with the whole language of 
the New Testament. But there is overwhelming evi- 
dence, in the rest of hia writings, that such language 
is to be explained as due to the reaction from Roman 
materialism, and to the enthusiastic desire to hold up 
in tmdimmed splendour of illumination the truth which 
had been so long concealed. The momentary, inci- 
dental exaggeration was amply corrected by the whole 
mass of the reformer's teaching. Faith, he calls " a 
living, busy, active, mighty thing," and declares that 
" it is aa impossible to separate works from faith as 
heat from fire." The great sentence which he places 
in the fore-front of his treatise " Concerning Christian 

LUTHER. 217 

Liberty" — " a Cliristiau man is the most free lord of nil, 
and subject to none: a Christian man is the most duti- 
ful servant of all, and subject to everyone ;" as well as 
that inscribed on the bronze pedestal of his statue at 
Worms—" Faith is but the right and true life in God," 
iniHcales that his real doctrine did not halt in a one-sided 
feilure to fjive their due place to yood works as the 
lecessary fruits, and imfftiling evidences, of a true faith. 
And just as the amusing pmctical errors respecting 
quantity and magnitude which are recorded of the 
aathor of the " Principia," do not disprove his mathe- 
matical genius or discredit the law of gravitation, but 
indeed were rather due to the very peri'ectness of his 
Mthumatical conceptions ; so these expressions of 
Luther, when fairly int«rpi-eted and when due allowance 
a made for the exigencies of the immense controversy 
ffi which he was engaged, do not invalidate the moral 
Ttricctiou of his doctrine ; nor do they carry in them 
fe least design to loosen the indissoluble link which 
I ill true religious teaching must ever bind together 
Wiefand practice, the iiiwai-d and the outwan.1, the 
wth wliich justifies and the works which are the body 
"d tight hand of the justified life. 

Aflother objection made to Luther's statement i.'^ the 
Im objective character he gives to faith. At times 
«feiIsto distinguish it from assurance. Moreover, his 
"^ioQ to tlie Word of God seems to be made too de- 
P^flnt on his own interpretation of that Word, as is 
'''owtiin his language about several books of the Oauon, 
'^ in the unreasoning tenacity with which he clung 
^ Wa own rendering of the Eucharistic words. We 
■SOst acknowledge that there is some truth in this 
'''iige. It ig interesting to notice how Luther's ori- 


giual ^ruBp of justification by faith was & thing indi- 
■v-idual and personal — so much so that for years the 
idea ne\'er occurred to him that it involved a recon- 
struction of the whole of Christian doctrine. And 
even wlien lie was able to give it au independent dog- 
matic form, there was a tendency to make the subjective 
phase predominate. 

In Luther's character the contemplative, self-intro- 
spective side was always very strong. This is observ- 
able in his intensely reahstic conception of sin. Pro- 
bably few men ha\'e apprehended with such extraordin- 
ary vividness the idea of temptation. The tempter was 
a continual presence to him. Yet it ia imquestionable 
that many of his statements on this subject, though 
having in tliem an element of reahty, as giving expres- 
sion to his beUef in a personal power of e\il, were in 
great measure simply the reflections of his own state of 
mind. The same subjective bias is observable, though 
not to the same extent, in his language with regard to 
justification. " Be in any way sure that you are saved, 
and you are saved ; only feel yourself safe, and you are 
certainly safe." Nothing short of this absolute assur- 
ance, this exercise of simple confidence, is, he implies, 
of any real avail The emphasis was practically laid 
on the inward feeling rather than on the absolute and 
divine object, on the subjective, and not the objective, 
element in justification. This is the weak side of much 
of Luther's language. And under such a representation 
the spiritual life was too apt, as was proved by some 
of the social phenomena of the new movement, to "sink, 
like a sea- weed, into whence it rose." However, 
I in Luther but an occasional and passing phase of 
exaggeration. It was perhaps unavoidable in one who 

LUTHER. 219 

t escaped from tlie ahyss of unrealilj', in which 
Basorance was attached to what was little more than im 
eilenijd bodily act ; while the antidote was contained 
the Reformer's owii complete and sober doctrine. 
One other remark may he made on this aubject, 
lather, taking the ceremonial observances, with which 
be had been so fauuliar, as the type of all works. 
tnquently appears obhvious of the fact that there may 
fe in Bome works a spiritual element, a something which 
Sfleaaing to God and is akin to faith, even apart from 
H previous to the great act of confidence, in which the 
lioie word and work of Christ ia accepted. .Tuat as, 
ma subsequent controversy, to those wiio asserted that 
"*ie ia nothing in the knowledge of the intellect which 
Bnntalready contained in the knowledge of the senses, 
■Wbnitz added by way of reply — " Except the intellect 
«lf.' So, when it is said that there is no spiritual 
■jWiflTiig element or instrument in works, this ^ quite 
■"8 in regard to the works as sneh, and in regard to 
MOiaii merit ; it ia quite true, except ui so far as it 
*i be Bhown that some worka nre complex things, and 
""nlain in them faith itself. It is a fact of spiritual 
''psrience that a single act of obedience to Christ, one 
!N work done as the commandment of God, may be 
"s TEty occasion ami birthplace of faith in the soul, or 
•* lesat may be attended by the faint stirring of the 
Pttt principle. Within the outer sliell of the actual 
W work there may be that which makes the whole 
"Keptahle to God for Christ's sake. The earnest per- 
™iiiflQce of a new duty is often a channel in which 
^ng to run the thin, tliread-like stream of a liigher 
'fMt and devotion. Clood habits may be, in the order 
w Providence and of Grace, practically the provocatives 


and suggestera of faith, themselves already \ 
something of its secret essence. There are acts which 
are anticipatory or prophetic of faith, and have in them 
a latent virtue and a light reflected from its cogiing 
glory. It is quite true that, as Luther says, " Good 
wtjrks never make a good man ; hut a pious, good man 
does good works." Yet good works may have a provi- 
sional, educative value, and may contain the minute 
germ implanted by the Divine Spirit, which, if un- 
checked, subsequently becomes a fully-developed trust 
in the whole person and work of Christ. There is a 
Light that lighteth every man, and a Spirit who worketh 
in all. 

It ia this aspect of the subject which is not suffici- 
ently allowed for in many of Luther's statements, and 
especially in his fref[uently extreme language against 
the law. A perception of this fact would have pre- 
vented Augustine from going far beyond the language 
of St. Paul in his description of the good works of the 
heathen as spUndiAa, ^eccata, and would have saved 
Luther from making his polemic against works occa- 
sionally short-sighted. Too absolutely he made faith a 
thing of explicit consciousness, and complete acquaint- 
ance with the whole doctrine, depri%'ing of spiritual 
value every good act which did not come up to this 
standard, and putting it beyond the pale of acceptance 
with God. He makes what is the best condition of 
religious life to be the only true one. No work, how- 
ever, which is anything more than a mere external 
observance, ia to be despised, for it may contain within 
itself, though in a dim and crude way, the root of a 
living faith. Faith alone justifies, on the ground of the 
perfect merit and righteousness of Christ ; hut a "work," 

s being the diatdnct result of faith, may be, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, a means and organ for its 

Luther, however, was called not only to words, but 
to deeds. In the spring of 1521, when he is in the 
thirty-eighth year of his age, he is cited to appear 
before the Diet at Worms. Although he lay under the 
ban of the Papal excommunication, a safe-conduct was 
sent from the Emperor, and an Imperial herald, in coat- 
of-arms, rode in front of him on the long and memorable 
journey. Hus's fate is before his eyes ; but, notwith- 
standing the dissuasion of friend and of foe, he goes 
calmly on, speaking here and there grand utterances of 
cotirage, which have ever since been household words, 
and trumpet-colla to self-sacrificing duty. Leaving his 
home on the 2nd of April, in a carriage provided by 
the magistrates, at ten o'clock on the morning of the 
16th of April he enters Worms. It is probable that as 
he came within sight of the towers and tiled roofs of 
the ancient city, he formed the idea of liis great hjonn, 
the " Marseillaise," as it has been called, of the Kefor- 
mation, though the whole hymn was not published till 
nine years afterwards. We see him surrounded by the 
eager crowds, who throng to meet him when his appear- 
ance has been signalled by the sentinel stationed in the 
Cathedral tower. We see the poor miner's son, the 
excommunicated monk, thin and pale, with the marks 
still upon him of an illness with which he had been 
seized during his journey, appear on the evening of the 
next day, amid the glory of a bright sunset, before the 
august assembly, which represented the highest spiritual 
and temporal power on earth — ^Emperor, and princes, 
and nobles, nuncio, and cardinals, and bishops, knowing 


that among them lie had a few who were frieiidly, but 
well aware that most were coldly indifferent, or bitterly 
hostile. We see him agitated and nervous, seeming to 
hesitate, asking a day's respite to consider hia answer. 
We overhear the wonderful words of prayer, fragments 
of which have been preserved for us, wliich broke from 
hia lips when, left alone in the silent night, he wrestled 
with God and was bowed down in a great agony, in 
listening to wliich we seem to enter the holy place of 
a human soul, where it Iiaa immediate access to the 
Most High. On the next evening he made a noble 
speech, first in Latin and then in German, worthy of 
the great occasion, to the delight and admiration of his 
friends, in which he modestly but firmly refused to 
retract, unless he were refuted from Holy Scriptura 
When further pressed, his reply was — " Here I stand : 
I can do no otherwise : God help me. Amen " — 
words which have been ever since one of the grand 
texts of rel^ous liberty, and a very fountain-head of 
quickening influence for devotion to truth and for all 
the noblest life of man. They were spoken amid the 
lights and shadows that flickered in the great ball of 
the bishop's palace, for the April evening was now well- 
advanced, and torches had been lighted. The noble 
speaker is conducted to hia lodging amid the congratu- 
lations of his friends and the scornful liisses of the 
Emperor's Spanish attendants. He feels all the glad- 
ness of victory, stretching out his bands when he 
arrives at the house, and joyfully exclaiming — " I am 
through, I am through." Hud Luther jielded then, the 
new movement would have been incalculably weakened. 
The period was one of crisis ; and liia highest praise is 
that in this ThermopylBe of the Eeformation, himself 


I.UTHF.R. 223 

more tliim the Leonidas of the nioinentous struggle, he 
ilood stfiadfuBt, defending the new-won reohn of a 
purified Christiauit}', and bidding limiible but sublime 
ifefianee to the gathered might of (.'hurcli and Empire. 
If the Eeformer's life risea at Wornia into epical 
pandenr, his concealment at the Wartburg, amid its 
Kfinea ff sylvan beauty, is one of the romances of reli- 
poiis liistory. Indeed, if the record were to atop here, 
« do not know where a grander or more perfect life 
Otnl^ be found. It was, of wjurse, marked by human 
fflfenity; but, after this allowance has been mode, 
fere is almost nothing to Hini the moral admiration 
w feel regarding it. Moat of the things that we 
*oaId wish away come afterwards. They are of 
*liiparatively slight importance, and only one of them 
''in be referred to in this lecture with auy luluess. 

Hough the ban of the empire was pronounced 
*gainst bim after liia departure from Worms, 30 power- 
'dwas now the induence in his favour, that it remained 
*deaii letter; and after Ids return to Wittenberg, he 
Wiliimed to work unmolested. His task was laboii- 
'"WIt to build up a new system of Church life and 
Joctene, and to this liia whole strength was devoted 
•■tid the countless difficulties and hindrances created 
^J lie very principle of private judgment which he 
■•m so successfully asserted. He was grieved beyond 
liBasure to see the new cause compromised by what 
to him the too sudden and radical changes 
by Carlstadt (towards whom he acted some- 
'bearingly). and especially by tlie excesses of 
ibaptists and of the Peasants' War. With regard 
the latter, he at first took up the attitude of peace- 
"■ttker, rebuking the lords and urging the peasants 

to desist from violence. But when the insun'ection 
had heconie a terrible fact, aod the subversion of eQI 
authority was threatened, he pressed the uoblea to 
adopt the severest measures, though, as he afterwards 
explaiued, he had spoken not against the conijuered, 
but only against those engaged in actual rebellion. 
It was in many respects an hon tune in which Luther 
lived ; and something of its hardness, perhaps, entered 
on this occasion into his feelings. 

In 1525 he was married tfl Catherine von Bora, 
a yoimg lady of noble family, who, having escaped 
from the convent hi which she was placed at nine 
years of age, had taken refuge at Wittenberg. One 
of the motives of this marriage undoubtedly was to 
break, by so decisive an act as the union of a monk 
and a nun, the hard and evil yoke which the Church 
had ao long laid on her ministers ; and the result of 
it was to set again the happy home close to the very 
heart of the highest rehgious life. 

The hnming question referred to in his controversy 
with Erasmus has now become, to a large extent, an 
extinct volcano, at least in the form in which it 
presented itself to Luther and Erasmus alike. In 
the dispute, each combatant aims formidable blows 
which strike the air ; and prohably Luther's bondage 
of the will is as little contmdicted by Erasmus's free- 
dom, as St. Paul's faith is contradicted by St. James's 
works. Throughout this passage of his history, Luther 
shows in several ways to disadvantage, although the 
strong moral motive by which he was animated raises 
him far above his gifted opponent. 

That which in the Reformer's conduct we would most 
desire to see blotted out, is the advice he gave in 


I'Wgard to tlie matter of the Landgrave of Hesse. The 
Wist that can be said is, that it ■was an honest error 
*i judgment, and that Luther, by the way in which 
K Bulijeeted the whole matter to the test of iScripture, 
•ttpplied the corrective of the mistake lie made. 
In his doctrine concerning the Lord's Supper, the 
lences, peculiarities, and defects of Luther's type 
thought are strikingly concentrated. We 
the new element of the Reformation truth 
into imion with other parts of his theological 
■his Scholasticism, his Mysticism, his aur- 
"nug Eoman doctrine— and formed into a strange 
while as to his personal advocacy of his 
"W view, his warmest admirers can but deplore witli 
""wement the narrow and uncharitable disposition 

His piocediire in regard to the whole inediieval 
™*inB of the Eucharist was, in the lirst place, 
^firnttive. That tendency to substitute the material 
**' the himian for the spiritual and the divine, to 
^ reference has already been made, may be ex- 
I^sed by saying, that in eccJesiaatical history it is 
'tedency to substitute the Church for Christ, to put 
""lilioii, to a greater or leas extent, in the place of 
*™iatign. Perhaps the moat stupendous example of 
"^ is to be found in the almost total inversion of 
""iSlit which gradually took place in regard to the 
""i's Supper. Its purely sacramental function was 
%I7 obscured by the new sacrificial character given 
"'It. Instead of being looked on as something coming 
ll™ God to man, as a means of gi-ace in which 
I'a blessings and presence were brought to His 
I, it came to be actually regarded as something 


brought to God by rann, as nothing lesa than a pro- 
pitiatory offering from man to Gotl. The Sacrament 
became the Mass, and every mass was supposed to be 
a veritable renewal of the sacrifice on the Crosa 
Although, doubtless, it was held that Christ offered 
Himself anew by the hands of His minister, the priest, 
yet practically it was the Church, in the priest, 
which had the power, at will, of repeating the one 
supreme act of atonement which had been accom- 
plished in the death of the Saviour, the object of 
this repetition being the direct application of its efficacy 
to the whole body of the people, as well as to indi- 
vidual souls, whether living or dead. Thus, in the 
most directly gross and material way, the value of 
Christ's sacrifice was supposed to be appropriated. 
The deepest cause of this distortion of Christian doc- 
trine was the strong conviction of sin, which was 
compelled to seek in this strange way the satisfaction 
for which it craved, because it was prevented by other 
causes from understanding adequately the absolute 
worth, and eternal spiritual significance, of Christ's 
atonement ; but it was all the more firmly upheld, 
since payment for masses, especially masses said for 
the benefit of the souls in pui^tory, was the source 
tif an immense revenue to the Church. 

This utter mistake and abuse Luther swept away. 
To the place occupied by the mass he restored the truth 
which it had so largely concealed. He set the one 
supreme sacrifice in its true position of solitary 
.Lp'andeur and sufficiency; so that every other pro- 
pitiatory offering was felt to be worse than useless. 

The Lord's Supper was thus seen to be a means of 
grace provided by Christ for the Church. Its sacrificial 



ijiaracter being (ieuiolisbeil, it became tiie uiuuiorial of 
the infinite sacriUce; and, thus disenciiuibered and 
simplified, it assumed its full value as a true sacrament. 
Dere emerges Luther's second divei^ence from the 
fioffian doctrine. According to that doctrine the 
elemfints of the Eucharist conveyed grace to the com- 
oimicaiit in conseq^uence of their consecration by the 
priest. The chief condition of this sacramental etBcacy 
na intention on the part of the priest ; wliile the 
ftaa! administration of the sacrament was iield to 
Eonfer grace through an inherent virtue belonging to 
il But it was distinctly held that faith was not a 
Wfflaary qualification on the part of the recipient. 
Now, it was this qualification which Luther asserted 
B iteohitely necessary. Without a living faith the 
"timent was inoperative, no grace was conveyed. He 
•iilindeed so far keep to the position of the Roman doc- 
wHeaa to assert strongly that there was in the Eucha- 
nilic elements themselves an inherent power, a virtue 
*iiicli exists independently of faith, a virtue which is 
Btavfiiired to them by the power of the Word of Christ, 
id which, he says, belongs to them as truly as the 
wiling virtue resided in Christ before the woman 
lulled the hem of His garment. Indeed, Luther 
attributes not only to the Sacrament, but to the whole 
Nnrd of God, a peculiar supernatural virtue, a power 
itol it possesses absolutely in itself, as truly as fire 
ses heat. But whether for receiving the power 
is in the Word, or the power which is in the 
Iflrd's Supper, the only tme and beneficial medium of 
Womunication on man's part is Faith. The feeling of 
4fl communicant, not the consecration by the priest, is 
[be vital human element of the sacramental act. Faith, 


then, here, ag eveiywlieie else in the relation between 
Christian doctrine and Christian life, delivers men from 
a hard, unspiritual, material relation to divine truth, 
and is the open secret whereby possession is obtained 
of all the riches of God's grace. And thua was removed 
nt a stroke, by the one mighty principle, all that world 
of attperatitious feeling which in the great majority of 
cases, and in the average popular mind, made spiritual 
safety and holiness dependent on the due performance 
of an external rite. 

The question remains, How is the grace of the Lord's 
Supper conveyed ? in what manner does Christ through 
the Sacrament bring blessing to His people ? what 
distinguishes it as a meaus of grace from every other 
means ? wherein lies its unique character ? The 
teaching of the Roman Church was that the whole 
substance of the bread, as well as of the wine, is changed 
into the body and blood of Christ, nothing of the 
elements remaining except the " accidents," or appear- 
ances. Luther, on the other hand, holds that the body 
of Christ is present " in, with, and under " the elements. 
While, however, according to the Eoman theory, the 
change is effected by a direct and ever-repeated miracle. 
Lather explains the supposed corporeal presence of 
Christ by means of a peculiar dogma, which he held 
before making this application of it, and which, though 
up to that time it had been a mere speculation enter- 
tained by some of the Fathers and of the Schoolmen, 
and not sanctioned by any creed, seemed to him to 
furnish a philosophical or theological basis for the 
doctrine of the Eeal Presence : he said this Presence 
was due to the ubiquity, or omnipresence, of Christ's 
body. According to the view embodied in this word 

LUTHER. 229 

the liuraan and divint: natures were so united in Christ, 
that the q^ualities of the divine nature, and among those 
qualities ubiquity, were communicated to Hia body. 
If, then, Cliiiat was present in the ^iacrament, he was 
ao, not only spiritually, but corporeal!}-. In virtue of 
its ubi([uitj', the body of Christ was everywhere; and in 
virtue of the Word of Christ pronounced by a minister 
of the Church it came into manifestation in the sacra- 
mental act, in connection with the bread and the wine, 
though outwardly indistinguishable from them. And 
Luther did not shrink from expressing in the strongest 
possible language tlie physical reception and oral man- 
ducation by all the communicants, believers and un- 
believers alike — the partaking with the very mouth of 
the body of the Saviour. It is precisely at this point 
that he introduces Faith. The body was present to all. 
Only, however, to the communicant who had faith did 
it convey any graf;e ; while, in the case of a communi- 
cant who was without faith, its effect was that of spirit- 
ual injury and condemnation. Thus in so complete, 
extraordinary, and memorable a way, in contradiction 
to ordinary reason and the evidence of the senses, did 
Faith, according to Luther, prove its unique power. 

It seems strange, unless we take into account the 
varied intellectual and spiritual influences to which he 
was subjected, that the Eeformer, who had so tlioroughly 
emancipated himself in most ways from the materializ- 
ing tendency of Eoman doctrine and worship, should 
in this particular have adhered so closely and uncom- 
promisingly to the old view. He himself admits that 
there was a time when he had a leaning to a far simpler 
yiisv, and would gladly have had it proved to him that 
there was " nothing but bread and wine in the Supper." 


No ckiiibt his doctrintt represented powerfully oue side 
of the trutli in regard to the Sacrament, a aide which 
it cannot be denied was too much overlooked by 
Zwingli and his friends ; and it was, moreover, quite 
in accorrlance with the deep inyatical character of 
Luther's feehug. In the form, however, which it 
iissumea under hia treatment, it reats on a hollow basis 
of aasumptions and contradictions. Perhaps it was a 
recrudescence of Koman dogma in his mind. It may have 
been a reaction from the too subjective character he 
was sometimes inclined to give to faith — a reaction from 
the spirit which was ready to put aside books of Scrip- 
ture, to a condition of absolute bondage to the letter of 
Scripture. Or perhaps the strange and unalterable attrac- 
tion it possessed for him lay in the secret intellectual and 
spiritual delight wliicJi he had in subjecting everything 
to the great spiritual principle he liad asserted, and in 
being conscioua of tliis most signal triumph of Faith 
over, aa he said to Zwingh, " reason, common sense, 
carnal arguments, and mathematics." Faith which 
justifies the soul, which makes the Word of God itself 
operative, which is the impulse and guarantee of all 
works, finally accomplishes even this, — that the believer 
receives into himself the real body and presence of the 
Saviour. However, whatever be the psychological ex- 
planation, the marked and specific importance he assigns 
to beheving goes far to rob such a doctrine of its power 
for injury. Conceived unspirituaUy, as in the Eoman 
system, its inevitable tendency is to deaden the inward 
life ; but depending for its practical value and operation 
altogether on Faith, it escapes the heaviest part of the 
condemnation under which any development of super- 
stitious thought and feeling must lie. 

The matter was tiie subject of a famous discussion 

'i^d at the castle of Marburg in tbe autumu of 1529. 

"D the urgent invitation of tbe Landgrave of Hease. 

tutiier and Zwingli, witU tlieir friends, met face to 

fece nnder the sumptuous hospitality of the Landgrave, 

fio was anxious to see tbe schism which waa dividing 

the Reformation healed. Zwingli had on this point 

gone to the furthest extreme from the German 

fiefonner, iiolding the Lord's Supper to be no more. 

Or little more, than a simply commemorative rite ; 

although, at tbe same time, he was exceedingly desirous 

to approximate, as far as possible, to tbe other \ievf, 

and to aid in framing a harmonious statement which 

Maightforma meeting ground for botli parties. Luther 

Consented to come very unwillingly, having no hope of 

any good result. 

The scene of the conference was a large apartment 
in the castle, and it was held in presence of tlie 
Xjuidgrave and a considerable assemblage of nobles and 
tifiologiaus. The four theologians who conducted the 
dehite sat together at a table. Before the speaking 
commenced, Luther took a piece of chalk and wrote iu 
Wge letters on tbe velvet cloth which covered the 
table, the words of institution, " This is my body : " 
Slid during the whole conference he always returned 
l« Uie absolutely literal interpretation of these words. 
fEeoIampadius and Zwingli urged the figurative mean- 
ing of the verb in other passages, and the significance 
if such a text as, " The flesh profiteth nothing ; " but 
tlifl German Reformer exclaimed, " ' This ia my body.' 
To seek to understand it is to fall away from tbe faith. 
Ood speaks: men, worms, listen. Let us fall down, 
Kid humbly kiss the Word:" and kept laying bia finger 


on the chalkyd text before him. Zwingli, appealing to 
the article of the creed, ■' He ascended into heaven," 
urged that, since it is against the nature of a body to 
be in several places at once, Christ's body, which is 
in heaven, cannot be in the bread. To this Luther'a 
reply was that Christ's body was not in the bread £is 
in a place. When, however, (Ecolampadiua wished to 
take advantage of this admission, and to look for 
ii link of agreement in an inquiry as to the nature of 
Christ's twn-local bodily presence in the Sacrament, 
I.uther, seeing the design, exclaimed, " You shall not 
take me a step further ; " and seizing the velvet table- 
cover, he held it up, with the chalked words, in the 
fuce of his opponents. " I abandon you to God's judg- 
ment," he said, " and pray that He will enlighten you." 
Jiwingli, deeply afl'ected, burst into teara. 

At this point, on the evening of the second day, the 
news was brought that the fearful epidemic called the 
sweating sickness, which was desolating Germany, had 
broken out in the town ; and this hastened the break- 
ing-up of the conference, though it was practically 
terminated already. On the following day Zwingli 
held out the hand of brotherhood to Luther, who rejected 
it, saying repeatedly, " You have a different spirit from 
ours:" and his friends concurred with him in declaring 
that they could not receive the Swiss as brethren in 
Christ, or as belonging to the communion of the 
Christian Church. At last, Luther was induced 
to offer " the hand of peace and charity," which 
did not, however, imply a recognition of Christian 
brotherhood : and all the members of the opposing 
parties shook hands. Before they separated fifteen 
Articles were drawn up by Luther and signed by the 

tlieologians, which affirmed agreement in doctrine to 
exist in all pciints except the corporeal Presence. This 
point of difference is confined to the second part of 
the fifteenth Article, which also contains a recom- 
mendation that the two parties should show Christian 
charity to each other "as far as conscience permits." 
This, however, was but a momentary relenting on 
Luther's part, and he soon afterwards gave evidence, in 
different ways, that he recoiled from the mild state- 
ment of the doctrine in the Marbui^ Articles, as well 
as fi'om the kindly spirit they inculcated. 

In regard to the doctrine itself of which he was the 
champion at this conference, the imperious dogmatism 
with which he defended it, and, especially, the cold and 
unbrotherly spirit he showed towards hia antagonists, 
Luther appears in a very unfavourable light. However, 
althon<!h we are compelled deeply to regret the position 
he took up, nevertheless — remembering that there was a 
sharp contention even between apostles — remembering 
that a greater man than Luther, the leader out of an ear- 
lier bondage, was provoked at the waters of strife and 
spake unadvisedly with his lips — remembering that God 
gives not all His gifts, either of fortime or of grace, to any 
one of His servants — remembering that there is some 
ground for believing a report that he said to Melauc- 
thon long afterwards, " Dear Philip, I confess to have 
gone too far in the affair of the Sacrament " — remember- 
ing that the highest charity is that which thinks charit- 
ably of the uncharitable — we can surely be generous to 
forgive, for his intolerance on this occasion, the repre- 
sentative of a system which treats its adversaries with, 
at worst, hard words and cold looks, and which, histori- 
cally, has delivered Europe from the terrible sway of 


that other system whose unfailing arguments were the 
prison, the rack, and the stake. 

Thus in mingled light and shadow, amid polemical 
warfare, and with the care upon him of all the 
Churches, amid private joys and sorrows, amid frequent 
joumeyings and tlie severe attacks of disease, Luther's 
life passed on tUl, " spent, worn, weary," as he describes 
himself, with his hair white and having lost the sight 
of one of his eyes, he reached his sixty-third year. 
The end came while he was on a visit, at the close of 
an inclement winter, to his native town of Eialeben; 
and he was buried in the Castle Church of Wittenberg, 
on the doors of which he had nailed his theses twenty- 
eight years before. 

As we look back over his wonderful life, we catch 
sight of him, almost at every turn, in some scene wMch 
touches our imtigination or our heart. We see Man 
lying on the Hoor of the cell at Erfurt, and restored 
from his death-like swoon by the sweet voices of the 
choristers ; facing the venomous Eek, in the great hall 
of the Pleissenburg, with a bouquet of flowers in 
his hand ; to Serra Longa's sneering question, " Wlere, 
then, do you mean to take refuge?" replying with 
imtrouhled serenity, "Under heaven;" at his "Patmos," 
the Warthurg, laboriously translating the New Testa- 
ment ; at Cohurg, writing gaily about the diet of the 
rooks, who flapped their wings, and sent their mandates 
through the air, in front of his windows. We see him 
kneeling beside his little daughter Lena, as, at fourteen 
years of age, she lay on her death-bed, and writing 
afterwards in a letter, "Although my wife and 1 ought 
only to thank God for her happy departure, yet so 
strong is natural love that we cannot bear it without a 

LUTHER. 2a5 

tiilter sense of death in ourselves. So deeply printed 
01! our hearts are her ways, her worda, her features, 
when she was with us and when she was leaving iia, 
liiaUveii Christ's death cannot drive away this agony." 
^e see him rise from hia dinner-table, which -^as 
UBQiiliy well-furniBhed with guests, and touch, with 
stil/iil hand, his favourite lute, or take part with the 
nfera in aong or hymn. We see hiiu watching the 
jWnes of hia cliildren, and walldiig with Catherine 
miller the starlight in hi.t warden. We see him in the 
Ujiow of conversation, grave or humorous^ — for he was 
"leDoctor Johnson of his time, and was attended by n 
while army of Boswells. We see Iiiin now bursting 
Wlfl merriment, now weighed down with melancholy — 
' deep vein of whicli lay in liia character ; now enjoy- 
'H to the full the innocent pleasures of life, and now 
M^ed in stem, quaintly-expressed conflict with Satan. 
"8 see him with his portly presence — tliouj^h in his 
Wlier years, and even when he was at Leipzig and at 
fformB, his body was thin and wasted ; with his face 
"^My upturned, according to his habit, and bearing 
lo its expression a mingled pathos and kindliness and 
wIbi; with his deep, dark eyes, which "sparkled like 
ttus." According to the testimony of his contempo- 
Iries, his voice was clear and melodious, his conversa- 
'Wi was agreeable and witty, he was never at a loss, 
*iid had the art of pleasantly adapting himself to every- 
e in whose company he happened to be. 
He had his failings, and does not belong to that 
pfini, self-conscious type of character wliich is "faultily 
Mtless." In his greatest \'ioIence, and seeming coarse- 
"6*3, of language, there are no doubt pure flashes of 
fiwt righteous indignation which has found it^ highest 



cxpressimi iu tlie deuunciationa of the book of Psalma 
aud oiir Saviour's rebukes, yet tbe smoke often mingles 
thickly with the Hame. Wheu we hear him say that 
" he wrote best when he was anf^," we regret the 
want of a more judicial tone in the great Eeformer's 
writings, even when we moke allowance for such a say- 
ing as the mere hasty half-truth of conversation, "Ria 
perceptions of truth were intuitive and penetrating, 
but often lacking in breadth; while he saw one 
principle with extraonlinary vividness, and though his 
character was broad and many-sided, he not seldom 
failed to discern some aspect which was necessary to a 
complete view. Yet these and other defects are noth- 
ing more than the small dust of the balance, when we 
estimate the influence of his character and Ins work. 

Under Luther, as q^uictened and guided by the Divine 
Spirit, there took place a regeneration of religious 
thought and life, a new beginning of Christianity, the 
liberation of the human mind from the shackles of 
man's authority. He breathed into the awaiened 
intellect of Europe a spirit of religion, and did more 
than anyone else to prevent the revival of letters from 
becoming, as it seemed only too ready to become, a 
new paganism. He, largely without assistance, trans- 
lated the Bible, being thus in himself a Tj-ndale and 
company of Translators, united. He brought forth again 
into fullest light and life the great doctrine which had so 
long lain crashed under mountains of untruth, though, 
like the buried giant Enceladus, it had at intervals 
made the incumbent mass shake above it. He stood 
at Worms, in t!ie face of Europe, the very embodiment 
and impersonation of the Christian conscience. In his 
marriage and home he broke down that middle wall of 

LVTHER. 237 

partilion which had been built up in the name i>f i\w 
lioliest rehgion between man and woman. 

In Ms principle of the universal priesthood of 
Qiriatians — a priesthood conferred, as he lield, in 
tuptism — he cloaecV that wide and uimatural gulf 
iiliitih made an absolute separation of the clergy from 
lie laity. In his famous hynm he sang the battle-song 
of hiB Church and of his countrj'. Adommg with ii 
pii, all his own the least thing he touched, he wrotu 
Wilis little boy, Hans, what an eminent historian haa 
lEeil " perhaps the prettiest letter ever addressed by ii 
Miar to a child." In addition to these varied acliieve- 
lienta, he formed the German language ; he wa-s a 
ttiliiHiinous letter- writer ; he was almost ceaselessly 
Qg^ in composing books, which, as he says, "rained, 
fliiled, and anowed " from his pen. He was a 
pofcasor, a pastor, a great orator. He was thus not 
'Mmac, hut many men; his life-work resembling bis 
"11 river Elbe, close to whose waters at Wittenberg 
M lived during so many years, which, in its long pro- 
IfffiSE from the mountains to the sea, pays toll to near 
* score of diiferent govenunents, through whose terri- 
iMiw its vessels pass. 

The Reformer was a patriot, and, in a sense as full 
" Would be true concerning any similar assertion of 
•ft influence of an individual upon a nation, it may 
w said that Luther is Germany, his influence an 
""fitting irapidse in the German Church, as it has been 
' powerful prompting towards a united empire. Yet 
'" "as a true patriot, because he was mucli more, a 
''^oufl leader, being at once the Wallace and the 
woi of his coimtry. While, further, notwithstanding 
■•ii intensely national character, more than any other of 


the Eefomiers of the, sixteenth century, he has rommanded 
the symjiathies of other peoples, and given his name to 
be the common inheritance of all the Churches. That 
name, not Graecized, like those of many of hia contem- 
poraries, but reniainiug the simple German, has become 
for everyone a very synonym for freedom and for faith. 
Through all, and in addition to all, he has shown us 
a noble type of character, which, as it is distingnished 
by the possession, in fullest measure, of spiritual genius, 
so it was thoroughly honest — honest with itself, honest 
with every question of moral and theological truth, 
honest with opponents ; which, aa it ^vas deeply religious, 
was also simple and natural ; as it was learned in 
Scripture, so could find delight in nature, and recrea- 
tion, and amusement ; as it was heroic, was at the same 
time gentle, and pitiful, and plaj-ful ; as it was capable 
of great self-assertiou, was so because it was stUl more 
deeply capable of great self-surrender, and therefore 
could be no less modest and humble than it was 
decided and confident, and was no less characterized 
by sobriety of judgment and practical discernment than 
by courage and devotion. There was in him no hard, 
granite stoicism ; his nature, while it was strong, was 
deeply sympathetic, and, in the fall round and sweep 
of his experience, resembled rather the oak tree, with 
its play of varied movement, now standing serene and 
grand, and now bending to the earth, in seeming weak- 
ness almost rent asunder, yet rooted more firmly by 
the storms which shake it. From the night on 
which he fixed his destiny by knocking at the door 
of the Erfurt convent, his life was " a battle and 
a march." He came onward " like a spectre-ship, sail- 
ing right against the wind," yet no spectre, but a 



divina life, and mighty, spiritual movciiient. He had a 
great, in mauy respects an awt'ul work to do, a work 
wbidi was largely against the natural bent of his 
fflixlerate and deeply reverent cliaracter, a work which 
•wma easy since it has heen successful, yet was essen- 
tinllj the struggle of a minority ; this work was given 
luE to do, and he did it. If, as has been said, the 
Ibiee highest titles which can be given to man are 
•Iw of martyr, hero, saint, there is not one of them 
"liidi does not of right belong to the great Itelbrmer 
»f the sixteenth century. 

It has been remarked that, amid all his jourueyings, 
W never meet with Luther by the sea-side. Yet 
%e ia no place, in nature, in which we could more 
"'If imagine that we see him, than on the border of 
^ great deep, where we think that he might have 
"fitched " the children sport npon the shore," and heard 
"the mighty waters rolling evermore." The ocean, 
™li its unfathomable depths and its sunny ripples, in 
il* loud tempests and the gentle lapse of its wavelets, 
' » type of Luther's whole spirit and varied disposition, 
Bs himself was not only many-sided, but belonged to 
'^ class of characters which surest to us the infinite 
Bid the eternal. 

ffe do not call him Master ; we do not give to his 
'™^t9 the seal of infallibility, or the reverence due only 
1* inspiration: we do not allow even him to stei'eotype, 
"111 fa finally for all ages, the expression of Christian 
^th. But we feel the almost unexampled greatness 
** hia service to the Church and to the world. He 
*Sioyed, but he also built up. He was emphatically 
^ tni of thunder, but he was no less really an apostle 
"' love. He looked wistfully on the past, with its 


thousand years of Eoman authority and teaching, 
he resolutely put his hand to the plough of the 1 
which belonged to the present and the future. 
spoke of an inward invisible faith, yet his life wj 
giant's labour. He was finely and most lovef 
human ; yet, more than anyone, since the last of 
Twelve fell asleep, he has brought God's truth 
God's presence near to men. 

^ohtt (Calbin. 

The place deserveiUy assigned tu the commanding 
personality of Luther in connection with the sixteenth 
century Eefonnatioii should not blind us to the fact 
that the spiritual Tuovement which bears this name 
had not one, but several distinct origins, Zwiugli in 
Switzerland, and Lefevre and Fare] in France, were 
already preaching a pure Gospel, ere yet Luther's name 
had been heard of. It was natural that, once Luther 
had spolien, his name should overshadow those of 
pioneers in other countries. The inherent gi'eatness of 
the man, his open rupture with the Papacy, the con- 
spicuous stage on which he figured — in conflict with 
Pope, EmperoT, and princes — above all, the hold, fresh, 
original character of his utterances — shaking Europe as 
with thunder-claps, and rousing men's hearts as by 
the sound of a trumpet — gave him, in the eyes of 
Christendom, a representative position in relation to 
the whole movement. But both in Switzerland and 
France, notwithstanding Luther's influence, the Eeforma- 
tions retained very much of their indigenous character. 
Distinct in origin, the streams were kept still further 
distinct in their after flow by the disputes which early 
arose between the German and Swiss Befonners on 


the subject of the Sacraments. Luther had, properly 
speaking, no succesaor. At a later period, the Swiss 
and French Reformations found a point of meeting 
in John Calvin, who, a Frenchman by hirth, and a 

Swiss in virtue of hia world-famous connection with 
Geneva, fitly represented both. 

From another point of \'iew, in France, Switzerland, 
and Germany alike, the Beformation movement was 
one. It took its origin in all three countries from the 
same general cauaea ; it was characterized by the same 
return to Scripting, as the li't'ing fountainhead of truth, 
in distinction from Papal dogma and the philosophy of 
the schools ; it expressed the same revolt of the human 
conscience against hierarchical domination, and the 
superstitions and abuses by which that domination was 
maintained ; it gave the same prominence to the 
cardinal truths of justification by faith, and the sole 
mediatorship of Christ. On closer inspection, no doubt, 
different standpoints reveal themselves. In Germany 
the personal^ in Switzerland the Biblical, element pre- 
dominates. With Luther, the central point is the 
certainty of salvation ; with ZwingH, the chief place is 
given to the outward Word. Luther moves among 
dignitaries and princes ; in Switzerland the Eeforma- 
tion is on democratic ground, and Zwingli, with his 
ardent patriotism and love of freedom, is its appropriate 
apostle. But in essence, spirit, aim, the movements 
are ona The imanimity of the Eefonners is the more 
remarkable that, in most cases, their views were reached 
by independent study of the Scriptures. Even in 
regard to Predestination, it may be noted that Zwingli 
and Luther were as strenuous upholders of this doctrine 
as Calvin himself. 



ffheu Calviii entered on his work aa Eefoiiuer, the 

fawaveof theKeformatiun raoveiaent had already spent 

!<«]£ Luther's views had taken root not only m lai^e 

pWa of Germany, hut in Sweden, Denmark, and the 

Ifsiherlancis, and were rapidly leavening Europe. Most 

of the Sffisa Cantons had embraeetl the Reformation, 

"1 Zwingli had fallen on the fatal field of Cappel. 

w fervid Farel was evangelizing with singular success 

IS 4b neighbourhood of Lausaniie, Morat, Neuchatel, 

iftJ Geneva. On the other hand, Fmncia I. had 

Wed for Catholicism, and Paris was blazing with 

"Wt^ fires. Politically, Europe was rent witli divisions. 

■d distracted with the intrigues of Pope, King, and 

SajHiror. The Eeformation itself had let loose 

■Difeal and anarchic tendencies which, at different 

pWj, threatened its destruction. The time liad 

iarly come for a new order of man to arise, an ecj^ual 

Luther in genius, but differently endowed — -not an 

*fenator, but a consolidator, a thinker and organizer, 

"to than a man of action — one who, to those gifts 

wMnl which must appear in every great Reformer, 

•d Kith full devotion to the objects of Reformation, 

•niild unite the highest power of intellect, and a rare 

wiltyof construction and syatematization — in short, a 

1 capable of being a spiritual leader and adviser of 

age, and of recasting in forms that would endure 

fi the theology and the polity of tlie Church. Such 

*liiaii was Calvin — the subject of our present lecture — 

*b4 this, as we shall see, was the nature of the service 

fcieadered to the Reformation. 

John Chauvin or Calvin was bom at Koyon, in 

on the 10th of July, 1509. He was the second 

ily o£ sis — four sons and two daughters. His 


father, Gerard Chau^"m, was Procumtor-Fiscal for the 
county and Secretary to the Bishop of the Diocese. He 
is descrihed as a man of excellent business capacity, 
but withal of somewhat severe character. Calvin's 
mother, on the other hand, is spoken of as a lady 
not less distinguished for her beauty than her pietj-. 
From the former parent the Reformer may have 
inherited, besides his methodical habits, that gravity 
of disposition, tinctured with cenaoriousness, which 
led even Ms schoolmates to fasten on him the 
nick-name of the " Accusative." From the latter he 
probably derived his fine nervous oi^nization, his 
delicately chiselled features, his native coiirtesy of 
manner, and perhaps, also, that constitutional shyness 
and timidity which to the end of his life he never 
wholly overcame. Calvin's boyhood can only be briefly 
sketched. Thoughtful and gra\'e, the light of a pene- 
trative intellect already shone in those burning eyes of 
which all his biographers speak, and his gifts could not 
long be hid. Soon we find him taken under the 
patronage of the great, and pursuing his studies in 
company with the children of the noble house of 
Mommor, the most honourable in the neighbourhood. 
This intimacy had important results for Calvin, both aa 
imparting to him that air of good-breeding and refine- 
ment which never afterwards left him , and as securing 
for him the advantages of a thoroughly liberal education. 
How different with Luther, coming from the miner's 
hut, and fighting his hard battle with poverty by singing 
on the streets for bread ! Meanwhile, Calvin's father 
was exerting himself to lay the foundation of prefer- 
ment for a son of so much promise. A chaplaincy 
had become vacant in Noyon Cathedral. This, through 

•yOHN CALVIN, 245 

(Jerard's uitlueuce, was given to Calvin, then a boy of 
twelve years of age, a step which necessitated his 
receiving the tonsure, or shaving of the crown. The 
transaction startles us, but it was no uncommon one 
in these times of secularization of sacred things. It 
may he added that this and other preferments which 
he received were volimtarily auirendered by Calvio 
in 1534 

From Noyon, in 1523, Calvin proceeded, still in 
company with the Momniors, to study in the University 
of Paris. Here he remained for four years, perfecting 
himself in Latin under Corderius, and faniiharising 
himself with logic and philosophy. Then liis studies 
took a different turn. Of this change he liimself gives 
the following account in that won<lerful piece of 
autobiography which foniis the Preface to his Com- 
mentary on the Psalms—" When I was yet a very 
little boy, ray father had destined rae for the study of 
theology. But afterwards, when he considered that 
the legal profession commonly raised those who followed 
it to wealth, tlua prospect induced him suddenly to 
change liia purpose. Thus it came to pass that I was 
withdrawn from the study of philosophy, and was put 
to the study of law." Calvin himself does not seem to 
have been consulted in this step, but, goveraed in all 
things by a sense of duty rather than by inclination, 
he lost no time in giviug effect to his father's will. 
Leaving Paris, he repaired first to Orleans, tfien to 
Bouiges, where distinguished teachers of jurisprudence 
were lecturing, and applied himself with incredible 
industry to his new study. His success may be 
estimated by the fact that, when yet a youth of nine- 
teen, he was frequently called to conduct the claaa in 


tlie absence or illness of the Professor; and, when 
leaving Orleans, had bestowed upon him, unsought, the 
highest honours which the f^niversity had ta give. 
At Eourges, in addition to his l^al studies, he availed 
himself of the presence of "VVolmar, a German Pro- 
testant, to acqidi'e a knowledge of Greek, and thus had 
opened to him, for the first time, the Scriptm-es of the 
New Testament in the tongue in which they were 

Looking back on thia period of training, extending 
to the death of Calvin's father in 1531,^ it is not 
difficult to discern in the direction given to eventfl 
the secretly guiding hand of Providence, preparing the 
Eeformer for his future work. At Paris, Calvin's 
mind was brought into contact with the best know- 
ledge of his time. He beheld there the old and the 
new in conflict. The Sorbonne, watchful of its 
orthodoxy, might thunder forth its anathemas, but 
there could be no question with any thoughtful on- 
looker that the times were big with change. From 
the throne downwai-ds, a new taate for letters was 
diffusing itself; the fountains of classic learning were 
unsealed ; the Scriptures were circulating in the ver- 
nacular ; new opinions were freely discussed ; persecu- 
tion had begun, and martjTS for the truth of Chiist 
were marcliing grandly to the stake. Calvin profited 
in this new learning above many liis equals. TTtr 
attenuated frame bore witness to the dil^ence of his 
studies. The old Roman literature he devoured with 
avidity. It formed hia taate and style, and he never 
afterwards lost bis love for it. His first work, pub- 
lished in 1532, was a commentaiy on Seneca's treatise, 
' The date is fixed by registere iii Noyon, 



"J)e Qemeutda." Ciceitt's writings he ia said to have 
md through every year till a late period of liia life. 
Wrin'a Latinity has often been extolled, but it is not 
» »ell known that, through the strength, grace, flexi- 
Mty, precision, and fire of his compositions, he 
ttniJBred a service to his native tongue not unlike that 
"iiich Luther, by his translation of the Bible, rendered 
lo German — in short, became one of the creators of 
fflodera French, This power over language, consecrated 
If him to give weiglity and elot^uent expression to 
Cbistian tnith, ia doubtless attributable in pait to his 
rije acquaintance with the Roman olassica. Not less 
filiable as a discipbne was Calvin's laborious study of 
Hie principles of jurispmdence. The knowledge ac- 
quired from his teachers in this department proved 
sf incalculable sei-vice to liim in his later attempts at 
feing a satisfactoiy constitution for Church and 
Site at Geneva. 

W'e Dome now to the great crisis in our Keformei's 
Kle — that which changed Idiu fi'om a devoted adherent 
if the Eomisb faith into a not less uncompromising 
Ssfimder of the Reformed dochines. The steps in this 
fibsnge can otdj- Ije hurriedly indicated. Calvin's life, 
fcai his boyhood, had been marked by a sincere moral 
om His youtli was irreproachably pure — so pure as to 
It a sort of marvel to his gayer and less earnest com- 
Jfidons. But his mind at this time was tenaoionsly 
*edded to the beliefs in which lie had been brought 
^ "I was obstinately addicted," be tells us," to Papal 
SttietBtitions." It goes without saying that whatever 
of beliefs Calvin adopted, he would adopt it 
■ith his whole soul, and would not be readily moved 
BWay from it. At Paris, he must have been perfex;tly 


aware of the new doctrines that were being taught, 
hut, ahsorbed in other studies, he prohably gave tliem 
little attention. Yet the yoimg student was not 
at peace. Hia experience during these years reaemhled 
that of Saul the Pharisee. Hia caiTectneaa of moral 
conduct did not satisfy him, and his assiduity in the 
practices of piety failed to as.sure hiui of Di^'ine for- 
giveness. The law which he strove so faithfully to 
obey entered into his conscience, and convinced him 
ever more deeply of sin. Absolutions, penances, 
intercessions, proved mefl'ectual for relief. " I tried 
all these methoda," he says,' " but without obtaining 
relief or peace of mind. As often as I looked into 
myself, or attempted to lift my eyes to Thee, God, I 
was filled with a dread which no penances or satisfac- 
tions of mine could mitigate. The more narrowly I 
inspected myself, the deeper did the sting enter 
into my conscience, so that at last I could find 
no ease but by steeping my mind in forgetfulness." 
Considerable influence seems to have been exerted on 
his mind by his kinsman Olivetan, a disciple of 
Lefevre's, and futiu-e translator of the Bible into 
Frencli, who directed him to the study of the 
Scriptures. But it was not till a later period that 
the light broke, and he was brought, as he expresses 
it, by "a sudden conversion"" to a subdued and 
teachable frame of mind. This was the decisive 
turning-point. The idea of the Church occasioned 
liim some difficulty, but only till he was able to dis- 
tinguish between tlie Church as a visible society, and 
the true, invisible Churcli of Christ, consisting of all 



toilful aouls, whether in coiiiunmiuii with ihe Hsible 
01617 or not. 

The precise date of C'alXTu's couversioii is uncertain. 

Somi! place it as early as 1529. while L'ijvin was yet 

a student of law at Orleans tir Bom^^ ; olLera as late 

*alo32, after tlie publication of his first work. It 

&TOiLra the earlier date that we ha\'e ilistipct accounts 

*^ his teaching and evangtiliziug in Boui^es and ita 

■iagbbourhood about this periocK But. whenever or 

fawever the change was brought about, its effects were 

*3niiiediate on the young acliolar's plans of life. Earthly 

ictiong stood awaiting him, but these lie was 

ig to renounce for Christ's sake and the Gosirel's. 

«ia place henceforward was with the fiiends of the 

^Heformatiou, and his powers were to be ilevoted to the 

Wnice of the God who had been graciously pleased to 

*weal His Sun in him. Not yet, however, had Calvin 

Wy tiouglit of mmiig witli jmblie atfaJis, or even of 

*M!iing forward as a regular preacher. On the con- 

^'By, he shrank from such work, and desired only to 

■UVe opportunity nf pursuing his studies in retirement, 

w^, perhaps, as Providence might guide, to be able 

''wrve tlie Eefomiation with his peiL Man proposes, 

wIGod disposes. The retirement wliieh Calvin sought 

to tiee from him. Now we get glimpses of liim 

now at Nojon, now at Orleans, now at Augou- 

the chateau of his friend Bu TiUet, now at 

now again at I'aris, but wheiever he went, 

sought him out, so that, he says, " All ray 

'^tWata were like pubhc schools." At Paris he taught, 

Jfwelied, and evangelized, encouraging many who were 

"Mil to glorify God by martyrdom. Here, in 1533, an 

nwdent occiured which shows that Calvin's name was 



becoming kiinwii. Nicholas Cop, rector of the Univer- 
sity, took occaaioii of au inaugural address to deliver an 
oration on " Cliristian Philosophy," which, it turned out 
afterwards, had been composed for him by Calvin. The 
boldness of the ideas, and tbo evangelical character of the 
sentiments, excited a storm of disapprobation. C!op had 
to flee, and suspicion falling at once on Calvin, his house 
was searched, and papers were discovered implicating him- 
self and several of his friends. The Reformer had barely 
time to make bis escape, disguised, it is said, as a vine- 
dresser. At Orleans, in 1534, be published his first 
theological work, a treatise entitled " Psyehopannychia," 
directed against the Anabaptist tenet of the sleep of 
the soul after death. At Poitiers be formed a small 
congregation, and the Lord's Supper was administered 
in a cave nenr the city, known to this day as " Calvin's 
Grotto." Cal^'in revisited Paris in 1534, then, still 
seeking seclusion, betook himself first to Strassburg, 
afterwanls to I'asle. Here an event took place which 
raised bim at one stroke to the position of foremost 
influence among the I'efomiers. We refer to the 
publication of the "Institutes of the Christian Religion." 
The " Institutes " of Calvin is one of those epoch- 
making books, like Bacon's "Novum Organum" or 
Newton's " Principia " in science, or Kant's " Kritik of 
Pure Reason " in philosophy, tiie interest of which ia 
enduring. Hitherto no book had appeared which took 
commanding rank as an exhiliition of the doctiines of 
the Reformed Churches in their systematic unity and 
connection. Melancthon's " Commonplaces " appeared 
in 1521, but hardly served the purpose. Yet this 
was a work necessary to be done, both as a satisfaction 
to the mind of the Church, and that the Reformation 

JOHN C4LVm. 251 

might have something to oppose to the imposing and 
compact systems of the Middle Ages. Calviu under- 
took the task, and accomplished it with decisive 

The motive which led to the compositiou of the 
hook was, however, anything but a dogmatic one. The 
" Institutes " have been compared to various works — to 
Aquinas'a " Summa Theologia," to Augustine's " City of 
God," to those noble " Apologies " presented by the 
early Christians to the heathen emperors, asking justice 
for their cause, and vindicating it from the calumnies 
of theii' enemies. The last comparison is as true as 
any. A fresh outbreak of persecution had taken place 
in France. Calvin's soul was stirred by tidings brought 
him of holy persons — many of them members of his for- 
mer flock — burned and tortured for their adliereuce to 
the Reformed views. Still more was it stirred to hear 
them denounced as enemies of civil ordei-. Hitherto 
he had cc^ntemplated nothing higher than the preparation 
of an elementarj- manual of doctrine for the instruction 
of his countrymen. Now his work was to take the 
grander shape of a vindication of hia wronged brethren- 
He would plead their cause in the ears of Christendom; 
he would state and defend the doctrines for wliich they 
suflfered ; he would vindicate their principles from the 
aspersions cast upon them. This being the purpose of 
the book, we can imagine the spirit that reigns in it. 
It is anything but a drj- compendium of doctrine. Its 
motive raises it almost to the dignity of a prose poem. 
On some points in the theologj' of the " Institutes " 
we may remark hereafter ; meanwhile it will suffice to 
^ve a general idea of its method and contents. The 
book, as published at Basle in 1536, was a small volume. 



wliich aubaequenl editions enlarged to many times its 
original size. It was wiitten in Latin, and afterwo^'ds 
tranxlated into French. Prefixed to it is a PrefaCT, 
addressed to Francis I., whiuh is justly regarded as one 
of the cliffs iTceuores of literature. It is eomposed in » 
strain of noble eloquence ; reminds the Sovereigrx o' 
his responsibilities as iniuister itf God; asks Lina. to 
undertakti the investigation of a cause unjustly coa- 
denuied; and I'cplies to the objections urged against 
the liefoniied doctrines as being new, unsuppnrtetl hy 
miracles, opposed to the teaching of the Fathers, de- 
Btmctive of tlie idea of the Church, and provocative of 
sedition. The adciitions subsequently made to ^"^ 
body of the work gave it architectural completeEiess, 
but wrought no eliange ui its essential contents. Tnfl 
plan is simple, following the onler of the Cre™- 
Treiituig first of the k-nowtedge of God as Cre&tor. 
C'al\'in shows that the minil is naturally imbued ■Wi'" 
tliis knowledge, yet needs Scripture as a guide ^^'^ 
teacher in coming tu God as a Creator. Here "^ 
investigates the grouiKis of our confidence in Script^i'*' 
jHisaing from this to the consideration of the Tri'^**^ 
nature of God, tlie creation and original eonditioU- 
man, and the doctrine of Djvnte Providence. ^^^ 
doctrine of Providence gives equal prominence to the i*^ 
of God, as the last groxmd of explanation of all that ^ 
and to human volition as the means by which t*^ 
purposes nf God are carried out. The second hoOf 
treats of the Icnowledge of God as Redeemer, tf^^ 
portion of the work discusses the doctrine of the F**^ 
man's corrupt and enslaved eonfUtion througli sin, it*-^ 
gradual steps in the revelation of the purpose of salv^" 
tion, and, finally, the person, offices, and work *^' 


Christ. lu the tliirJ Book, ive proceed to the work 
of the Holy Spirit. Here Calvin treats of faith and 
i-epenteuce, of sratuitriiis jiiatiiication, and the saoctifi- 
catioii of the heliever, combating Komish eiTors on 
each of these suhjects. He sketches in heautiful lan- 
^niage the life of the Christian man, and towards the 
close of the Book unfolds his doctrine of eternal 
election to salvation, with its logical counterpart, the 
reprobation of the wicked. It ought to he noticed 
that, however fundamental this doctrine i.? in Calvin, it 
is brought in, not at the head of his system — not, t.g., 
in the place it holds in the Westminster Confession — 
but rather as a corollary from what has been .shown 
of the dependence on Divine grace of all that is 
good in man. The last Book treats of the Churcli, of 
Church government, of the Sacraments, and of the 
province of the Civil ruler. It is well known that in 
his views on the Sacraments, Calvin steers a middle 
coui'se between the High Church Lutheran \-iew, which 
affirms baptismal regeneration and a corporeal presence 
of Christ in the Supper, and the lower view, which 
would degrade the Sacraments into mere signs. The 
Sacraments, with Calvin, are connected with a real 
presence of Christ and a real work of the Spirit, 
but the presence is spuitual, aud the reception of 
blessing is conditioned by the faith of the recipient. 
All this may seem familiar enough and trite enough to 
ua, but it was diffei-ent with the Eeformera, to whom 
the Scriptures had newly been opened, and on whose 
minds these doctrines hail burst with the power of 
a grand discovery. Now tliey saw them set in their 
relation to each other, and expounded and defended 
with constant appeal to Scripture, by a mind that 



perhaps hiul no etiual in Europe. Tliey siiw this 
done, mortjover, not in the stiff, repellent phraseology 
of the schools, hut in language of surprising force and 
freshness, largely free from technicalities, aiid glowing 
with the fervour of personal conviction. The great- 
ness of the " Institutes " lies in its combination of 
tliese two sets of qualities. It is great in constructive 
power. It took the matter of the lieformed doctrine, 
and reduced it once for all to coherence — gave it com- 
pactness, unity, system. It grasp is wonderful, especi- 
ally in those parts where Calvin puts forth his full 
original strength. Men cavil at Calvin, but it is 
easier to cavil than to meet the Eefonuer on his 
own ground, and solidly refute him. Not less great 
is the book in the fire, force, and freshness with which 
its ideas are expressed. Considering that Calvin was 
at this time but twenty-six years of age, his work must 
be regarded as one of the most surprising examples in 
literature of early intellectual maturity. 

The toil of these months of seclusion in Basle 
was not to remain unrewarded. The sensation pro- 
duced by the publication of the " Institutes " was 
immense. The book was speedily translated into the 
languages of Europe, and passed through innumerable 
editions. As if a meteor had appeared in the sky, 
men's attention was everywhere arrested by it. Calvin 
published his work anonymously, but his was a name 
not easily concealed. Triends felt that a new David 
had risen to do battle for them with the PhUis- 
tine, and were correspondingly overjoyed. Enenues 
wreaked their rage on the book by bumiag it. Aa 
evidence of its popularity we may mention that ver- 
sions of it exist in modem French, Italian, Spanish, 


Dutchj German, English, and even in the laiii,iiaye o£ 
Hungary, in Greek, and in Arabic But the effects 
of the " Institutes " were not confined to Calvin's 
eontemporariea. Its influence on posterity was yet 
more remarkable. It passed througli the creeds into 
the thoughts of men, moulded the life of nations, 
became the soul of Puritanism in England, of Eepub- 
licanism in HoUand, of Democratic institutions in 
America, identifying itself in every land to whicli 
it went witli the undying principles of civil freedom, 

Calvin haa published his great work — what shall 
he do next ? Far from hijn as ever is the thought of 
entering upon pubhc life. Rather, with the bookish 
man's love of retirement growing upon lum, he is in- 
creasingly captivated with the idea of some quiet 
retreat, where he may pursue his studies uninter- 
ruptedly, and use his pen in the interest of the cause 
for which he had taken it up. Besides, has he not 
proved his strength in this department of service, and 
may he not reasonably infer tliat it is in this way, 
mther than by a life of action, that the Master, who 
giveth " to every man his work," intends liim to take 
his part in the battle of the time. Whither shall he 
go ? We find him for a space in Italy, at the Court of 
the httle deformed daughter of Louis XII., Een^e, 
Duchess of Ferrara, whose love of the Gospel forms a 
bright spot in tlie dark ambition-stained records of 
the houses with which she was related. We get a 
trace of him at Piedmont ; we see him recalled to 
Noyon by the death of his elder brother Charles, an 
ecclesiastic, but also, alas, a sceptic and a Ubertine ; we 
find him, ultimately, resolving on return to Basle, that 
fair city on the Ehine, whose reformed government. 


fiourishiug University, busy priutiog-preases, and 
learned society, made it so tempting an abode for a 
man of letters. But again the hand of Destiny seems 
on our Reformer. Other work is to be found for him 
than that which he contemplates. Yonder, under the 
shadow of the Alps, on the banks of Lake Leman, at 
the junction of its waters with tlie Ehone, stands a 
brave, liberty-loving little Republic, whose citizens, 
having fouglit and won the liattle of their independ- 
ence, have just opened their gates to the Reformation. 
This was the place Providence had chosen as a new 
centre and nursery of the truth, and to it, by circum- 
stances apparently fortuitous, the Reformer's steps were 
guided. War had broken out between Charles V. and 
Francis I., and the direct route to Basle throi^h 
Lorraine was blocked. The agitated condition of the 
country com])elled Cal^dn to make a long detour, and 
thus, late in August, 1536, we find him at Geneva. 
He entei^ed the city, intending to remain only a single 
night ; with the exception of a short inter\'al of banish- 
ment, he never afterwards quitted it Before, how- 
ever, describing Cal\Tn's connection with Geneva, it 
will be proper to bestow a glance or two on recent 
events in the history of the city itself. 

From an early pe.riod the Oteneveae people had been 
distinguished for their love of Kberty. Their Bishop 
was also their ruler, but tlie constitution was popular. 
There were ancient franchises and customs, which the 
Bishop on his accession took an oath to respect. The 
management of affairs was in the hands of a Council 
of Twenty-Five, consisting of four Syndics or Magis- 
trates, elected by the people, twenty councillors, and a 
treasurer. Over this was a Council of Sixty ; over thifl 



again a Council of Two Hundred ; aad above all was a 
General Aasembly of the whole body of the citizens. 
Thtse liberties of the Genevese had not been maintained 
without a atniggle. The neighbouring lords of Savoy, 
jealous of the independence and covetous of the ter- 
ntories of the little liepuhlic, had long sought to 
iwuM it unjej. their jiower. Tliey received aid from 
% Martjn V., who, in 1513, having deprived the 
pK^iie of the right of electing their own Bishops, 
"•^i^Steii to the vacant see a creature of the House 
'" Savoy, The new Bishop made over the temporal 
*'^ignty to the DiUie, and a struggle commenced, 
"™g over twenty years, in which much patriotic 
"Wii mia spilt. The citizens themselves were divided 
1 two parties — one, the patriotic party, known ob 
' Edgenossen, and the other, adhering to the Duke, 
-jwn aa the Mamelukes. The fact that in this con- 
™ Pope and Bishop were on the side of the enemies 
■feir liberties, naturally tended to inflame the minds 
'' te Gronevesc against their ecclesiastical superiors ; 
"W Ilie hostility with which they regarded them was 
by the scandalously dissolute lives of all 
""^as of the clergy, and by the refusal of the latter to 
"I any part of the expenses of the patriotic contest. 
Ilia was the state of matters when, in X532, Wil- 
■""iFarcI, who had been labouiing in the neighbour- 
"lod, first entered Geneva, preaching the Reformed 
**Wnea He did not meet with immediate success, 
"■l the word took root, and, furthered by the teaching 
« Aotliony Fronient, whom Farel, when compelled to 
sent to fill his place, the new ideas 
"sifl rapid progress. From this point the struggle 
wtfeen liberty and despotism becomes inextricably 


intertwined with the deeper struggles between Evrh- 
gelical tmth and Popish error and superstition, the 
Reformers drawing their chief strength from the 
patriotic party, while the Mamelukes lent their utmost 
support to the priesthood. The Ma^strates, mean- 
while, fearful of offending powerful allies, temporized, 
hut the movement was growing with a volume they 
could not resist. A church was conceded to the 
Protestant preachers ; a disputation, after the usual 
fashion of the times, was held before the Council, in 
which the defenders of Pome were worsted; in 1534 
the Bishop, having left the city, was deposed by the 
Council as an enemy of the piihhc peace ; finally, in 
1536, the worst danger heing over, a General Assembly 
of the people was convened, and the citizens, " lifting 
up their hands, promised and sware to God that by His 
help they would live according to the holy Evangelical 
religion and Word of God lately preached to them, 
renouncing the mass, idols, images, and every other 
Papal abuse, and that they would Hve in union and 
obedience to justice." ^ Immediate steps were taken to 
apply the ecclesiastical revenues to purposes consonant 
with the reformed faith — to the support of an hospital 
and public school, and to the payment of the 

Thtia far had the Eeformation advanced in Geneva 
on that memorable evening when Calvin might 
have been descried entering its gates. The city was 
impoverished and disorganized by its long struggle ; 
men's blood was still hot with the spirit of faction ; 
morals, owing to the absence of all effective restraints, 
the bad example of the great, and the long unsettled 
' M'Crie'a "Early Years of John Calvin," p, 168. 


.1>B (ondilion of public affairs, were exceedingly corrupt 

I Jfot a few had accepted tlie Gospel from the heart, but 

I fcfi niassea had embraced the Refonnation more from 

Westiition of the priests and love of change, than from 

:iDy intellifjent understanding of Cliristian doctrines, or 

■raire for the kind of life to which the Gosjjel con- 

uosmen. There were immense congregations, but 

IE was no proper orgiuiization of churches, or pro- 

on for exercising church discipline. Laws had been 

i against vice and profaiieness, but there was 

j^nately to enforce these laws. Affairs in 

111! cilf, in short, were largely in a condition of chaos ; 

involution had taken place, but the actors in it had 

^M jet had time to comprehend what it involved, or 

nltt new forms of life it would impose. 

Caliin, as we have seen, had not intended to remain 

B Geneva longer than a single night. Providence, 

er, had ordained otherwise. Hw presence, which 

8 IimJ thought to keep secret, was discovered, and 

"pwted to Farel, who, feeling deeply Ms own inabdity 

fectpe with the elements of disturbance around him. 

Who time in waitii^ on the Iteforraer, and implored 

lo to come to his assistance. The scene that follows 

■diamatic in its interest. Calvin, shrinking with his 

lole soid from the task sought to be forced upon 

D, made every excuse he coidd think of. He was a 

idioas man ; he did not wish to bind himself to one 

Bnreh, but would endeavoiir to serve aU ; he was 

J and loved retirement. But Farel was not to be 

hunted. "With something of the energy of lui old 

Hebrew prophet, he suddenly placed himself before 

Uvin, and proceeded to pronounce a curse on the 

; held so dear, if they kept him from coming 


to tlii3 help of the Lord against the mighty. " I declare 
unto thee," he said, " on the part of God, that if thou 
refuse to lahour with us here in God'a work, He will 
curse thee ; for iii pleading thy studies as an excuse 
for abandoning U3, thou seekest thyself more than God." 
This " fearful obtestation," Calvin tells us, filled him 
with such terror that he felt powerless to resist any 
longer. He recognized that the call of God had come 
to him, and, laying aside his own preferences, prepared 
at once to obey. He commenced by periidssion of the 
Magistrates to give lectures in theology, and soon after- 
wards was formally appointed past-or. 

Calvin's entrance into Geneva falls exactly midway 
in his life, and it marks also a natural division in his 
history. Henceforward we are to see the Reformer in 
a different hght from any in which we have hitherto 
considered Iiim. He remains as before the man of 
thought and learning, but it ia now to be discovered 
that the timid, retirmg student, anxious only to be 
left alone with his books, is no less extraordinarily 
endowed with the faculty of ride, that the genius of 
organization and control exists in him in as powerful a 
degree as the genius of dogmatic construction. His 
labours to attain his ends involved him, as we shall 
see, in long protracted conflicts, but the principles he 
fought for ultimately triumphed, and made Geneva the 
astonishment of Cliristendom for civil order, administra- 
tion of justice, pure morals, liberal learning, generous 
liospitality, and the flourishing .state of its arts and 
industries. We shall best review this period of Calvin's 
life, interrupted, after about two years, by a temporary 
banishment from the city, by considering first, in con- 
nection with a sketch of his polity, his conflicts with 



tbe Liliertine party in Geneva ; second, his much mia- 
nnderstood share in the trial and condemnation of 
Servetua ; and, la-stly, the period of the triumph of hia 

He Btormy events of Calvin's earlier residence in 
Geneva — that which ended in hia expulsion from the 
cilj — can be briefly narrated. Hardly had he com- 
Qenceil his labours before his reforming activity began 
tt Biiow itself. It went out in the three directions of 
^c Church, education, and the reform of public morala. 
One of his first tasks was to draw up, in conjunction 
»iiii Farel, a short Confession of twenty-one articles, to 
»iiich, after it had been ratified by the Council of Two 
fliindred, the citizens, in parties of ten each, solemnly 
Jive in their adhesion. This laid the basis of that 
(Woratic constitution which Calvin afterwards toiled 
* iealously to perfect. At the same time ho prepared 
'lliort form of discipline. He next directed attention 
lo the schools, and sought to establish throughout the 
■ftnton a system of compulsory education, Calvin 
Iptly felt, however, that if the Tlepublic was to be 
Qiristian at heart as well as iu name, a reform was 
"fioded more urgent than any of these — to which these, 
Uuteed, were but means — a reform of the manners and 
suirals of the State, and to this, also, he earnestly 
ifeaaed himself. The agencies which presented 
Hinnselves for the accomplishment of such rei'orm were 
BitM-fold — preaching, exhortation, and reproof in the 
pilpit ; a rigorous enforcement of the laws of the State 
M the Magistrates ; but, above all, the right inherent 
the Church of excluding moral offenders from the 
Iwd'a table. 
Uwa were alreadv in force in Geneva when Calvin 


entered it, not only forbidding vice, but laying down 
regulations in regard to dress, food, and ornament, and 
recLuiring attendance at the services of public worship ; 
to which, therefore, no objection could be taken on the 
score of want of strictness. As respects these, Calvin 
could only use his influence with the Magistrates to 
put them in execution ; but the power of excom- 
munication was with himself, and he did not hesitate 
to employ it against notorious evil-livera. The Magis- 
trates, however, warmly seconded his efforts. These 
measures could not be carried oiit without encountering 
strong opposition, and a party soon developed itself bit- 
terly hostile to the new regimen. This party received 
the name of " Libertine," and not unjustly, for obviously 
the beat portion of the community was with Calvin, 
and the soul of the opposition consisted of men of 
profligate and abandoned character. Jomed with it, 
however, may have been members of the old patriot 
party, naturally jealous of Calvin's influence, and resent- 
ful of what they regarded as a new attempt to deprive 
them of their liberties. In course of time, the party of 
opposition gained an ascendancy in the Council, and 
then the contest began in earnest. A point of even 
greater soreness with the malcontents than the rigour 
of the laws, was the power claimed by Calvin to debar 
the unworthy persons among them from the Sacra- 
ment ; but on this point, a vital one for the purity of 
the Church, the Heformer stood finn, notwithstanding 
that his conduct exposed him and his associates to the 
coarsest public insults. The dispute was still pro- 
ceeding, when a message came,. from Berne urging the 
Genevese to restore certain holidays, and to keep the 
Sacrament with unleavened bread. The Eeformers op- 



posed these changes, and immediately the Libertines 
were inflamed with an eager deaire to see the Holy 
Supper observed without leaven. Matters reached a 
01813 OQ Easter Day, 1538. During the preTious week, 
liie city had been torn with dissensions, and when the 
Ws Day came, the churches were filled with armed 
Kid riotous men. Under these circumstances, Farel 
(ltd Calvin announced that the Lord's Supper would 
IW be dispensed that day. Furious tumults ensued, 
isd the lives of the Heformers were tlireatened. Next 
47 the Council met, and pronounced sentence of banish- 
Bwit on the two preachers. Calvin received the de- 
BHon with calmness, remarking, "Had we been the 
Mvants of men, we would now be ill repaid ; but we 
terve a great Master, who never lets those who serve 
Him go uni'ewarded, and who even pays them what He 
does not owe them." Then, in company with Farel. 
le left the city. 

5 disputes with the Libertines were not his only 

tttnUes during this residence in Geneva, He had 

ady to oppose the Anabaptists, whose extravagant 

■ipnions tended to subvert Church and State alike. 

ipeciidly was he annoyed by the attacks made on hi m 

tj one Caroli, who impeached Ins orthodoxy, and even 

isd him brought before a synod to clear himself of the 

(i«tge of Arianism. It is curious to see Calvin — hard 

dogmatist as we are apt to think him — called to ac- 

ocRmt for not using the terras " Trinity " and " Person " 

his teachings on the Godhead, and having to defend 

tdmself for his preference for simple Scriptural exprea- 

Wlien blamed by Caroli for not accepting the 

BJicient creeds, he " rejoined," say* the Genevese preach- 

• In a letter to Berne. 



ers, " that we had sworn to the bolief in one God, and 
not to the creed of Athanasius, whose symbol a true 
Church would never have atlinitted." 

The next three years of the Eeformer's life were 
spent tranquilly at Straashurg in ministering to a 
congregation of French refugees. Save for interrup- 
tions of bodily sickness— the effects of toil and anxiety 
upon a frame not naturally stronff — these quiet years 
of exile were perhaps the happiest Calvin ever knew. 
He did not indeed permit himself repose. He preached, 
lectured, wrote incessantly. But the labour was con- 
genial. Here, in 1639, he revised and recast his " In- 
stitutes," giving the book substantially its present form. 
Here also, in the same year, he issued from the press 
his Commentary on the Epistle to the Eomans — the 
first of that noble series of Commentaries which, in 
their sober regard for the historical and grammatical 
sense of Scripture, in their skill in detecting and apt- 
ness in expressing the meaning of the sacred writers, 
and, generally, in their depth and penetration — ^bear so 
remarkably modem a character, and are to the present 
day aids in the interpretation of Scripture which no 
exegete can afford to despise. The Emperor Charles 
V. was at this time enga^jed in scheme.? of mediation 
between Protestants and Eomanists, and Calvin went 
as delegate to several conferences in Germany, where 
be made the acquaintance of Melancthon, and of other 
leaders of the German Reformation. A yet more tender 
interest attaches to this sojourn in Strassburg. It was 
here that Calvin married. The lady who won his affec- 
tions was Idelette de Bure, a widow, distinguished for 
discretion, virtue, piety, and a cultivation and elevation 
of mind which made her a iit helpmate for the Reformer. 

The imiua lasted for but iiiiiti years. Idelette seems 
to liave been devoted to her husband's interests. " She 
was," says Calvin, " the best of companions, who, if 
mytbing harder uould have happened to me, would 
willingly have been my companion, not only in exile 
and in want, but in death itself."' Calvin, on his part, 
eherished for his wife not only high esteem, hut tender 
love. His letters show that her death in 1549 left him 
well-nigh inconsolable. The fruit of the union was 
one son, who died in infancy. 

Wlat, meanwhile, of Geneva? Bitterly by this 

Sine had it repented of its treatment of the preachers. 

Only disorder had reigned since their departure. The 

itizens had had a taste of Libertine rule, and did not 

iBlish it. Laws were set at nought. Tfie grossest 

Wendousness prevailed. Of the four Syndics who 

Spelled Calvin, one " was found guilty of promoting 

"1 insurrection, and endeavouring to escape through a 

"Tcdow, fell and broke his neck. Another was 

*ccnsed of murder, and beheaded. Two others, guilty 

"f treason, were obliged to flee."- Ko power existed 

*0 the city itself capable of restoring order, and soon 

Uie cry arose to bring Calvin back. 

The Eeforuier, however, had too vivid a recollection 
^ his Genevan experiences to be easily persuaded to 
'Wum. " Why not rather submit to be crucified ? " 
ue Says in one of his letters, " It would be better to 
parish at once than to be tormented to death in that 
"ianber of torture." At length he consented, and 
wintered Geneva on the 13th September, 1641, 
ffiiidst general popular enthusiasm. The magis- 
Hstea provided him with a house and garden, gave 
Letter to Viret, 1649. ■' Beza. 



him cloth for a coat, and settled on him a salary 
of 500 florins, twelve measures of wheat, and two tuna 
of wine. His conflicts were not over — the worst, 
indeed, lay before him — but for the moment lie was 
in honour. The next five years of his life might be 
described as peaceful, but for a dispute with Castellio, 
tutor of his school, whom Calvin, for some acrimo- 
nious attacks made on him in public, had removed 
from his office. 

The time had now come for a complete remodelling 
of the constitution of Church and State in Geneva, 
and before proceeding further, some account must be 
given of the new polity thus introduced. It may 
seem a bold thing to say, but we think it true, that 
the logical consequence of Calvin's principles would be 
the entire separation of Chtireh and State. Civil and 
spiritual government he holds to be distinct. However 
friendly may be the relations of the two powers, how- 
ever freely they may co-operate in matters of common 
interest, they yet represent distinct jurisdictions, each 
has its own responsibility, and neither is subject to the 
control of the other. The spiritual is not at liberty to 
control the civil, and as little is the civil entitled to 
control the spiritual. This perfect independence of the 
two jurisdictions can only be secured by keeping them 
apart. Even granting to Calvin that the Magistrate 
should profess the Christian rehgion, and that his care 
extends to both tables of the law, the conclusion 
based on the distinctness of the jurisdictions is not 
affected. The more numerous the points which 
the jurisdictions touch in common, the greater 
the need that each should be left free to act on its 
own responsibility. Calvin, however, did not thus 


conceive of his principles in practice. Starting from 
the duty of the Magistrate to put himself at the head 
of a work of Eeformation, and from the consent of the 
citizens to the articles of the Christian faith, he thinks 
he finds a basis for a Christian Eepublic — a theocracy. 
The model constituticwi figures itself to his mind as one 
in which tlje two powers do not remain apart, but are 
united for mutual support, and for the attainment of 
common ends. 

Constructing the Genevan Republic under this idea, 
Calvin began with the Church. The city was divided 
into parishes, and a minister was allotcd to each ; 
elders were appointed ; rules of Church government 
were drawn up; order was introduced into the services, 
including a liturgy, and congregational singing. In 
the civil department, Calvin undertook the revision of 
the laws. Under his superintendence, the laws and 
edicts of the State were collected, such changes were 
made on them as was necessary, and the whole was 
reduced to a well-digested code. 

But in a theocracy, Church and State are so far 
identified that the whole body of the people are by 
profession Christians — the two jurisdictions apply to 
the same body of people. Accordingly, the third part 
of Calvin's work, and that by which he is best known, 
was the drawing up of a code for the joint use of the 
civil and ecclesiastical authorities in those matters 
which, on the theocratic principle, came under tlie 
cognizance of both. This code — the famous " Eccle- 
siastical Ordinances " — was properly a code of morals. 
It laid down rules for the regulation of the life of the 
citizens of Geneva, entering minutely into social, and 
even domestic details, but specially aiming at the 


suppression of the darker vices — profanity, drinkin.L;, 
gaming, lewdness, and the like. On tlie ecclesiastical 
side, it was a code of discipline. Aa such, it was 
administered by the Consistory, a court composed of 
ministers and elders, which sat weekly to hear and to 
dispose of cases. If eccleaiaatical discipline did not 
produce amendment, the case wag reported to the 
Council, which dealt with the ofl'ence as against civil 
order, and punished it accordingly. The laymen — 
twelve in number — who sat iu the Consistory, were 
chosen from the Councils, and formed the link 
between the two jurisdictions. 

This polity of Calvin's has been the subject of much 
animadversion. It is no easy matter to do it justice. 
Viewing it theoretically, it is ob\dously not without 
grave faults. Its fundamental idea — that of making 
Christian profession the basis of civil privilege — modern 
society justly rejects as incompatible with the full 
recognition of the rights of conscience. On the 
other hand, the idea of theocracy — of a fair Divine 
order in society, of an earthly state oi^anized in all 
respects in obedience to, and in perfect harmony with, 
the Divine will, of a kingdom of God among men, is 
surely in itself a noble one, a conception which human 
society cannot forego, but must ever keep before it as 
its goal. Yet Calvin errs in the shape he gives to 
his conception. Two juriBdietions are recognized, but 
their spheres are not kept distinct. Tlie civil ruler is 
invested with functions which do not properly belong 
to him. The Church invites his aid in matters with 
which he has no right to interfere. 

Viewing it as a practically working system, the 
Genevan polity is not less open to criticism. It 


"Dileniaiilj' went too Ear in interference witli individual 
■'ifcert}-, and tended to confound the follies of BOCJety 
*ith its vices. When, however, we find fault with its 
"etails, it ia important to remember that the liiisscs- 
fiHre doctrine of government ia essentially a modem 
Ode, and that sumptuary laws were not pecuHar to 
Geneva-^ It ia to be pointed out, further, that most of 
lie provisions of the " Ordinances " were based on 
existing enactments, " It can be shown," says Dr. 
fiagenbach, " that strict prohibitions against cursing 
and blaspheming, against games of chance, masquerades, 
dances, munificence in dress, &c., had been issued by 
tile Geneva Government as early as the fifteenth ami 
tile beginning of the sixteenth century, and that 
Oalvin, consequently, cannot be regardetl as the 
ojTgiiiator of such laws." ^ Calvin drafted the code, 
l*tit the Councils revised and amended it, and, says the 
*IiOTe-quoted writer, " It has been proved that not 
<*K»ly in puUtical affairs, but even in ecclesiastical 
^Hatters, the civil authorities of Geneva insisted jeal- 
ondy upon their rights, and reserved to themselves 
■the prerogative of final decision ; and that there were 
Hot lacking instances when their opinions confiictod 

' " Sumpluary laws were in great favour in the legislfttion of 
Kngknd &om the time of Edward III. down to the Beforma- 

tJon. Statute 10, Edward III enacts that no man, of 

whatever condition or estate, ahail be allowed more than .two 
oontsea at dinner or supper, or more than two kinds of food in 
<sch course, except on the principal feativala of the year, when 
*»M rauraea at the utmost are to be allowed. All who did not 
wiuya free estate of £100 per annum were prohibited from 
during fur, akina, or ailk, and the use of foreign cloth was 
•llwedtothe Rojal Family alone."— Chambers's Eaoycloptedia, 
^ "Sumptuary Lawa." See alao Hallam'a "Hiatory of 
Kiitope (lunng the Middle Ages," chap. is. 
'"Hiat. of the Eeformation," vol ii. p. 313 (Eiig. trans). 


with tliose of the Consietory." ^ Calvin, therefore, 
cannot fairly he held responsihle for everything the 
code contains. Valuing it mainly as an instrument in 
repreaiiing vice, there is no evidence that he attached 
much importance to its pettier details. 

The code, once enacted, waa administered with 
wholesale rigour. Tlie highest fauuliea in the Re- 
puhlic were required to yield obedience to it, or if 
they did not, were aninmoned before the Consistory. 
This rigour had its reprehensible, but it had also its 
salutary sid& A system is best judged of by its 
moral fruits, and Calvin's need not shrink the applica- 
tion of this test. The moral state of Geneva was such 
that drastic treatment was necessary. The Consistory 
had a sufficiently high idea of its functions ; both 
Consistory and Coimcil occasionally erred in the severity 
of punishments meted out to small offences ; ' but the 
effect of their work was to recover Geneva o\it of the 
hands of a lawless and flagitious faction, whose vices 
were destroyir^ it, and to raise it to the first rank in 
Europe as a city of pure morals, of enhghtenment, 
peace, and order. 

Libertinism reared its head again in Geneva in 1546, 
this time in darker colours than befora It now 
appeared in connection with Pantheistic and Atheistic 
doctrines, breathing a fierce hatred of Christ, and 
openly justifying the most shameless immorality. 

' " Hist, of the Eetonnation," p. 323. 

'It ia ■worth observing that the inatancea eommonly quoted 
of exceaaive aeverityin the punishment of minor offencea mostly 
belong to a period subsequent \a Calvin's death, A boy, for 
example, \raB beheaded for etriking bis parenta in 1568. Yet 
the Gfenevan code fairly enough reflect* Calvin's severely judicial 


" The Libertines or ' Spirituals,' " says Dr. Philip 
Schaff, " combined a Pantheistic creed with licentious- 
ness and free-lovism, and anticipated the worst forma 
of modem infidelity to the extent of declaring the 
Gospel a tissue of lies of less value than jEsop's 
Fables." ^ This party, with which the ribaldry of the 
city speedily associated itself, found a leader in Amy 
Perrin, tlie Captain- General, a fonuer friend of Cal^Tn's, 
but now, on account of some proceedings taken 
against his wife's relations, the Reformer's bitterest 
enemy. Perrin demanded that the Council should 
deprive the Consistory of its power of excommunica- 
tion, and assume the power into its own hands. He 
waa not at first successful, but in 1549, hia party 
having gained in numbers and iiiiluenee, he was elected 
First Syndic, and the old conflict was renewed. Calvin 
behaved with great courage. He presented himself in 
1647 before the Council of the Two Hundred, and 
facing the drawn sworda of his enemiea, said, " If it 
is my life you desire, I am ready to die. If it is my 
banishment you wish, I shall exile myself. If you 
desire once more to save Geneva without the Gospelj 
you can try." This ended the matter for the time. 

A second crisis in the struggle was in 1553. 
Calvin's influence in this year was at its lowest ebb. 
Popular feeling ran strongly against him. Hia 
enemies, insolent in their triumph, " resorted to per- 
sonal indignities and every de\'ice of intimidation ; 
they named the very dogs of the street after him ; 

I they one night fired fifty shots before his bed-chamber; 

I they threatened him in the pulpit." ^ At this juncture, 


one Beithelier appeared before the Council, asking it to 
rescind a sentence of excommunication passed upon him 
by the Consistory. Calvin withstood him, but I'errin's 
influence prevailed, and the Council reversed the sen- 
tence as desired- It went further, and transferi-ed the 
power of excommunicating from the Consistory to 
itself. This (lecisinn was ratified in the popular 
assembly. The next Sabbath was the day of Com- 
munion in St. Peter'a Curiosity was strung to its 
highest pitch, for Berthelier was expected to present 
himself, .bearin<j the warrant he had received from the 
Council. Calvin, however, was resolute. When the 
moment arrived to dispense the sacred elements, and 
the Libertines raa<le a move forward as if to seize the 
bread and cup, he covered the symbols with his 
hands and cried, " You may break these limbs and 
shed my blood ; I would rather die than dishonour the 
table of my God," His opponents were awed, and 
retreated in silence. The serrice was then quietly 
proceeded with. 

The final conflict was in 1555. The spiritna] 
supremacy had by this time been restored to the Con- 
sistory. But the enemies were untiring in their 
opposition. So far at length did tlielr rage carry 
them, that a tavern-house plot was formed for the 
massacre of refugees resident in the city. The plot 
failed, and its authors were brought to justice. Four 
persons were beheaded, Perrin bad to flee, others were 
banished. From this period Geneva had rest. 

Thus ended the conflict with the Libertines. In 
justice to Calvin's enemies, it should be remembered 
how tmbearably galling it must have been to freer 
spirits in the Eepublic — many of them belonging to old 



""iK'ii tiimiiies, and accusLomed tu lioUl their heads 
%fi among tlie citizens — to find themselves suddenly 
'^Yi^ii in II career of pleasure, and put under 
f^vifl'a Jiotd moral yoke — forhidden the wine-sliup, 
tlf card-table, the revel, rigorously limited in dresB 
>d manner of living, compelled to attend sermons in 
''i'd tlieir vices were unsparingly castigated, and 
isinired, on pain of humiliation, to yield unquestioning 
'Mienee to the dictates of a Consistory. Tiiey saw, 
" lliey thought, a new Popedom estahUahed in their 
"iiifll; they found themselves put under a yoke more 
^irom than that from which they had escaped ; they 
nWed that they, the children of the soil, should be 
"Ajeuled to this hateful tyranny hy an alien ; they 
^M the city iilling up with refugees, and they 
<)^iired tliat the native influence was hemg illegi- 
'i'litely swamped. Fiesh and blood would not Im 
WW it ia if such nile had been endured in quietness. 
flW is it wonderful that the Magistrates were jealous 
*l 8 jiower which they saw growing up in the State 
Ewlling their own, which they thought bore hardly on 
•^ life of the people, and which kept them embroiled 
wi leading citizens. We will uot dispute that the 
•illiience of the Council on the Consistory was on the 
'liole u moderating one. Yet it must be repeated that 
*vin'8 discipline proved wholesome for Geneva.' It 
"o no Popedom, but rale .in accordance with a Con- 
*liition which hod been established by the free votes 
« the citizens, and which, it must be said for them. 
•"Mat all the heat of their disputes, they never seem 
wiave desired to alter. 

IjB'wkm' somewhere aaya, '' This device I see not how the beat 
^^liTiug coulil have bettered, if we consider duly what the 
""■-' gtttte 1)1 the Geneveae did then require." 


Passing by other controversies of this period, as 
those with Pighiiia nnil Eolsec, both on the subject of 
Predestination, and other labours, as those for the 
union of the Swiss Churches, we come without further 
delay to that episode in Calvin's life which more than 
any other has left a stain of reproach upon hia memory ; 
we refer to the episode of the trial and burning of 
Servetus. Of this mournful transaction — so im- 
possible to justify at the bar of the modem conscience 
—we shall endeavour to speak impartially, not 
screening Calvin from the share he actually took 
in it, but at the same time endeavouring to show 
that this share has popularly been verj- much exag- 

To his own age Servetus was a monster aud blas- 
phemer ; we may be permitted to give a ca,lmer 
account of him. He was a Spanish physician, who, 
in 1531, had published a work against the Trin- 
ity, and, again, in 1553, had printed clandestinely a 
book entitled " Christianismi Restitutio," in which he 
further developed his views of a perfectly reformed 
Christianity.' He was a man of undoubted talent 
and accomplishment. His genius, however, was 
erratic, his mind restless and speculative, and bis 
manner of dealing mth Divine things daring and 

It is not easy in short compass to give a coherent 
account of his doctrines. They were of a very crude 
order. With a denial of the distinction of persons in 
the Godhead, and consequently of the eternity of 
Christ's Sonship, he seems to have combined Pan- 

^Hevasbom in the same year as Calvin (1509), and, like 
Calvin, had studied both theology and law. 



Melstic notions of the relation of UoJ to the universe, 
line pftssage-at-aniis between hiiu and Calvin in the 
™ M Geneva will serve to illustrate the character of 
lis iiews, as well as frfve au example of the levity 
wiis manner of treating sacreil sulijeels. " Wien lie 
'*il«l," says Calvin, " that all creatures were produced 
fi* llie proper essence of God, and that tlierefore all 
^^ filled with gods, I was so hurt by this wTetehed 
•wUnlitj that I assailed him with these woiJa — 
'nkl, nnhappy man! if anyone treading on this 
wwabotild say to you tliat he was treading your (iod 
""fler Ilia feet, would you not be seamlalized at such 
liisaertion ?' He answered,'!, nn the contrary, do 
W ilouht hut that this footstool, or anything else 
'Itoi you may point out, is the substance of God.' 
'•"iffli it was again objecteil to him, 'Then will the 
•"il actually be God ? ' iie answered, with a peal of 
wighter, ' And can you doubt it ? This, however, is 
'? general iirinciple, that out of the substance of God 
li! things have arisen, and that the nature of things 
ijctnaJly the Spirit of God."" 

Sentiments like these, iu Cahin's day, were not only 
"gsrded with abhorrence, but by both Protestants and 
wtholics were held to be justly punishable by the 
•foril of tlie Magistrate. In separating from the 
thnreh of Rome, the Heformers had ]io idea of chal- 
Wgiiig the principle of that Church, that heresies 
^^t to be restrained and suppressed by the civil 
Tliey upheld that principle. Their own 
waice, when the secular sword was unsheathed 
(gsinst them, was not that the Magistrate ought not 
H punish error, but this, that what they taught was 
Heury'B "Life and Timee of Calvin," vol. ii. p. 196. 


not error, but mauifest truth. Thej' !i]ipearerl Iiefore 
their judges ready to suppurt thi;ir doctrine by appeal 
to the Scriptures. If what tliey taught was en'or, by 
all means let the ci^'il rider correct them for their 
error, but if it could be shown to be truth according to 
(real's AVord, they oiight not, they held, to be made to 
sutfer for it. In two ways only this principle of 
Home was modified. First, mere opinion was not to 
lie punished, but ouly the active diffusion and dis- 
semination of errors ; and second, forbearance was 
to be shown to minor aberrations. But attacks on 
OBCumeuical doctrines, such as those of Servetus, 
were supposed to be beyond all bounds of toleration. 
" The more we reflect on it," said the Church of Berne, 
sjieaking of the eiTors of Bolsec, " the more we are con- 
vinced that it is not necessaiy to proceerl with too 
much severity against those who are in eiTor, lest in 
seeking at all hazarils to maintain purity of doctrine, 
we come short of the measure of the Spirit of Christ." 
Yet this same Church, when considted two years later 
about the heresy of Servetus, replied, " In effect he has 
reckoned himself free to call in question all the 
essential points of our rehgion, wholly to overthrow 
it by new explanations, and utterly to con-upt it by 
reviving the poison of the ancient Iieretics. We pray 
the Lord that he may give you a spirit of prudence 
and counsel and strength, that you may put your own 
and other Churches beyond reach of this jicst ; and 
that in the meantime you may do nothing which might 
appear unseemly in a Christian Magistrate."* The 
one charge that can be brought against Calvin is, that, 
sharing this all but uruveraal opinion of his age, he 
' Quoted by Eilliet, Henry, &u. 


dirt not Imsitiite, with the ci insistency lA a logical 
*md, Ifl give effect to it,' 

The connection of Servetiis witli Calvin b^an as 
sarlyas 1534. Calvin was then at Paris. A meeting 
^•aa arranged for, but Servetns (lid not keep hia 
^Ptmintnuint. In 1,546, he sent to Calvin the niann- 
s«ript of his " Christ! nnismi Eestilutio." The Heformer 
^ave him his opinion of the \vTiting, and in reply to an 
ixpressed wi?h of Ser\etus to uome to (Seneva, very 
Tilfliuly hinted to hun that if he did, he would not be 
*"fiSponsible for his .safety.^ In 1553, he was appre- 
liBnded at Vienne, and would have suffered death at 
tiie hands of the Roman Catholic authorities of that 
place, bnt for a timely escape from prison. Servetus 
^ways regarded C'alvin ns tha cause of tliis arrest, 
^e accusation, however, has no fmther truth in it than 
that the real accuser, one De Trie, a French refugee. 
^Taiding at Geneva, succeeded, after much pressure, in 
obtaining from Calvin certain dociuneuts incriminating 
Servetus, and establishing his identity with the author 
of the " Restitutio." ^ 

This leatls to the remark that, deeply as we deplore 

^(Wvin was Dot in apirit a persecutor. This is shown by his 
wioidly relations witli Lteliua Soeinua, aiid others of f ree-think- 
Ug teiidetiL-iea. in whom he thought he discerned an earnest 
^Ijwmtiuii for the truth. 

'He wrote to Farel at this time, " If he come, I shall not 
»lSer him to depart aiive, as far as uiy iufluence can avail." To 
BMVBtns himself he wrote, " ] neither hate you nor despise you, 
■iw do I wish to persecute you ; hut I would be hard as iron 
*l«ti I behold you insulting sound doctrine with such audacity." 
1 must, however, pMnly eonfesB to you that I have had 
P^t trouble in obtaining fmiii Mr. Calvin what I now send 
!^ . . . But I so wore aim with my importunities, showing 
^t the charge of levity would be cast npoii me it I had not hia 
™p, that at last he yielded, and gave me what you see."— De 
•ne'i letter in forwarding the documents. 


the fate of Servetus, unjustly as we thiuk him to 
liave been treated, he is not a man for whose character 
it is possible to feel much respect. At Vienne Ida 
career was one of long-continued dissimulation. In 
his trial in that city, he did not hesitate to avail luiu- 
self of the weapons of falsehood — palming ofl' upon his 
judges false statements in regard to almost everj' par- 
ticular in his history. At Geneva, the same arts of 
deception were resorted to. He was plausible or 
defiant, humble or insultinp; in turns, according as he 
thought it woidd beat serve his purpose. A man of 
this stamp, whatever other qualities there may be 
about him to interest us, is without genuine moral 
backbone ; he may win our sympathy, but cannot com- 
mand our esteem- 

Servetus escaped from Vieiine in April, and came 
to Greneva in August. Why, of all places on earth, he 
should have come to this one, it is difficult to con- 
jecture, unless he had the hope of finding friends 
among the eneraie-s of Calvin. It was the year 1553, 
when the conflict with the Libertines was at its height, 
and Calvin's influence was at its lowest point. The 
Council was hostile to him. It was during the trial of 
Servetus that those events occurred wliich we have 
already described — the reversal of the sentence of ex- 
conmiuuication on Berthelier, the stripping of the 
Consistory of its power of debarring from the Lord's 
Supper, the memorable scene in St. Peter's. Calvin's 
spirits were so depressed at this time that he some- 
times felt as if he could wish to cUe. On the evening 
of that day when he made his stand in St. Peter's, 
he had an affectionate farewell meeting with his flock, 
expecting fully to be banished on the morrow. 


On the other liimd, it was the libertines who stoml 

'^2i Serretus. Tlieir temporary triumphs in the Couucil 

**«iirly turned his head, and led him, confident of 

"*^ctoiy, to indulge in unmeasured invtictive against the 

-•^former, who, warmly aroused, did not spare injurious 

^^"pitlieta in reply. 

Calvin, hearing of Sei'vetus' arrival, and dreading 

*».i3 iuduence in the city, had him at once arrested, 

^*-3iii, through his secretary, La Fontaine, instituted pro- 

*^*edings against him. The Magistratea, whatever their 

;^*rivate sentiments, had no alternative but to investi- 

^^■flte the charge. Some days were occupied with pre- 

iiiainary examinations, then La Fontaine and his 

^VUow-pursiiers were discharged from their connection 

"■^^th the case, and the trial passed into the hands of the 

*lJouucil, and was conducted by the public prosecutor. 

^■^e need not recount its different stages. The services 

*^f the ministers were sometimes required to east light 

*^n points of doctrine ; in particular, Calvin was ordered 

to extract, and give in, without note or comment, a 

lit of the passages in Servetua' hook which he thought 

objectionable, and to this Servetus replied. But the 

Council jealously kept the trial in its own hands, and 

KH^e attention less to the abstract theological error of 

Servetus' opinions than to tlieir supposed hearings on 

tile peace and good order of society." Servetus, on his 

Psit, showed exceptional adroitness in turning the 

t*hles on his accusers, and though he often quibbled 

^ evaded, many of his answers to the charges brought 

*S™st biiTi were solid and well reasoned, He was 

specially keen in his attacks on CaUin, against whom 

ns brought counter articles nf charge, and whom he 

nie writings of Servetua were at tliia time widely circulated. 



wished to pursue "till," as he said, "the cause he ter- 
minated by the death of him or me." 

We hasten to the end. Before finally deciding, the 
Council resolved to take the opinion of the Swiss 
Churches on the case, and accordingly sent copies of 
the documents to the Churches of Berne, Zurich, 
Schaffhauaen, and Basle, requesting their advice. The 
rephes they received were unanimous as to the guilt 
ijf Servetus. Nothing remained hut to pronounce 
sentence, and on the 26th October it was decreed that 
the unhappy man should expiate his errors in the 
the ilames. 

Was the verdict challenged ? Yes, one man chal- 
lenged it — one whose name does not readily occur to us 
in anieh a connection— this man was Calvin. Cal- 
vin agreed with the Council that the errors of Servetus 
were such as deserved death, but he shrank with 
horror from the infliction of a death by burning, and, 
with hia colleagues, did his best to induce the Council 
to substitute a nulder form of execution. The Magis- 
trates would not enter into his views. " It is to him, 
notwithstanding," as one has said, " that men have 
always imputed the guilt of that funeral pile which he 
wished had never been reared." ^ 

Servetus was puhlicly burned on 27th October, 
1553. The first announcement of his doom utterly 
unmanned him, but he afterwards recovered some 
composure, and died in protracted agony, calling on 
" Jesus, Son of the Eternal God." It is a moumiiil 
spectacle, yet perhaps the pile of Servetus waa needed 
fully to awaken the conscience of Protestantism to the 
])Crception of the error of the principle which, in 
I Rilliet. 

JOHy CA/J'fX, 281 

iucimsisteiiey with its own gi-.iinl Irnlli ihiil '■ (!oii 
alone is Loni of the conscience," it had uutfiiiikingly 
adopted. Servetns was right in maintniiiing that a 
•ora ought not to be punished iVir error in his 
^ijiniuDs, and his avowal of this principle, however 
iitlle we may respect himself otherwise, ntakes him a 
SEartjT for liberty of conscience. The shock which 
VKm. received at seeing this burning pile raised by 
■ftotestant hands was itself an indication that there 
^•m something wrong, and only a little retiection was 
*»eeiJed to discover wliat it was. To condemn Ser- 
"Vetiis for opinions arriveti at in the exercise of Ms 
^Mdoubted right to search the Word of God for him- 
■*lf, — or, generally, hia right of thought and inquiry, 
—was, foi' Protestants, to go in the teeth of their own 
<2laim — ^to outrage in hia person the very principles for 
■^liich, in their own ease, they were nobly contend- 
ing. The defence, of course, was, " Ours are true 
"^news ; his are pernicious en-ors." But this is to 
omlook that the concession of the right of inquiry 
involves the right to form an independent judgment 
«ii the truth of the matters submitted. It is clearly 
lUogical first to grant a man the right of judging 
of what is tnie, then to punish him I'or the use 
he makes of it. Nor, pondering the nature of the 
ttibnnal before which grave tlieological questions of 
tbe Trinity and Sonship of Christ were debated — a 
secular tribunal, presided over by Perrin the Libertine, 
^Od composed of men all unversed in such subtleties— 
Wild thoughtful niinda fail to be struck by the 
"Iwiniity of entrusting to such tribunals the final 
'Iwision of what was to be held true and false in 
'Wlrina In fine, the stake of Ser\-etus brought 


better home to men'a minds than a hundred arguments 
could do, the unteiiableness of the fundamental assump- 
tion that it belongs to the civil Magistrate to restrain 
and punish heresy — showed it to be alien to the 
Grospel, a confounding of civil and spiritual jurisdic- 
dictions, inimical to free inquiry, and destructive of 
rights of conscience. 

Calvin's share in this painful transaction can now 
be fairly appraised. Witli the later stages of the 
trial of Ser\'etUB he had really little to do. His influ- 
ence on the final decision was all but %il. The 
Magistrates had taken the matter into theii' own 
hands, and Calvin at the time was the object of their 
distrust. " Their folly and rage have increased to 
such a degree," wk hear liim saying, " that all which 
we state ia received with distrust. Were we to say it 
is light at noon-time, they would immediately begin to 
doubt it." ' It was against Calvin's wishes that the 
Swiss Churches were consulted. It was against his 
will that Servetus died by fire. 

On the other hand, there can be no question that 
Calvin, in common with most of his age, held that 
blasphemies such as those of Servetus were punishable 
by death ; that he instituted proceedings against Ser- 
vetus in Geneva ; that he anticipated and desired a 
capital sentence ; and that he held the decision of the 
Council to be just, though he could not approve of the 
manner in which death was inflicted. And this, be it 
owned, is a heavy enough indictment. 

Nine years yet remained to Calvin after the expul- 
sion of the Libertines, and this was the period of tlie 
triumph of his principles. More than ever, acting on 
' Letter to Bullinger, 1563. 

Aia (oDuttion tbat Hit- 

wiuicL another, he wii 

^U<1 devoted himself ^' 

***" him by the Cuun'^. 

!n-^^sj, aud people and 
^**- liis efforts. Mativ i 
which Cahiu w^.- 
''otk he got il'- 
f«*ia weak yhy 
k.aladies whii' 
»-«us. He ] 
■^s«tUTed evtar 
•K>Si!e. His t. 
•>cx)kB, reiTsiii. 
^^'^sapondence, "l- 
time.' Hi' -. 
ia» ihe Chan 1 
^Imope we* 
a-v^r ; UDsnc ui^ :>-^ 
I and [Kz&cif i^ Iusik'- 
H liu ad^-ke v» *^^ 

■ ^iB 

ing, and piety, found refuge witliin its walls, mHiiy of 
whom were admitted to the riRhts of citizens. One 
such refugee was .John Knox, who resided in Geneva 
at intervals between 1554 and 1559, He became 
intimate with Calvin, and throughout life revered 
him as a father. As the city opened its gates to the 
distressed, so out of it again, in bands of Evangelical 
labourers, trained by Calvin, and despatched to spread 
the Gospel in neighbmiring kingtlnina, went forth a 
renewing power on other countries. Specially did he 
interest himself in the progress of the Church of 
France, which, from a single congregation in 1566, 
had, notwithstanding furious persecutions, increased by 
1561 to 2150. Calvin had the satisfaction of seeing 
tills Church consolidated, and his polity set up in it in 
an even purer fonu than at Geneva. He strongly 
deprecated the religious wars, telling the leaders that 
" if they wished to establish their rights by the sword, 
they would prevent God from helping thenu" " One 
single drop of blood," he said, " shed by you will over- 
flow all Franca" ^ 

One work on which Calvin had long set his heart 
was the founding of an Academy in Geneva, which, 
uniting the interest of letters with that of religion, 
would make the city still further a centre of enlighten- 
ment. This work, in 1559, he saw accomplished. A 
building was reared dedicated to learning ; Theodore 
Beza was appointed Eector ; and provision was made 
for instruction in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, philosophy, 
and even law, in addition to divinity. This institute 
gave new glory to Geneva. In the train of culture, 
and pure moral living, came the arts. The city had 
' Quoted by Henry, vol. ii. p. 409. 


''iuls, but fi^ugalitj- and indiistrj' enabled it to siir- 
ttmont these, and it steadily ruse tu influence. The 
citjzena, too, had learned to trust and lionoui- the man 
through whom this greatness had cijiiic to them — who, 
to apply the Ijoast of Augustus ahnut Home, had found 
tlieir city brick, and left it marble. In the midat of 
oJI, Calvin was sometimes very poor. His expenses 
great, ejercisiiig hospitality, assisting refugees, 
aJding churches abroad, relieving the necessitous at 
boine, and he had often little left for liimself. " That 
■wiiicii made the strength of that heretic," said Pius 
IV,, after his deatli, " was that money was nothing to 

The time now approached that Calvin should lay down 

tie Weapons of his earthly warfare. His body, the seat 

of many disorders, some of them inflicthig on him ex- 

tSnuaatiug agony, was rapidly breaking up. For years, 

Bea says, he took only one meal a day, and that a 

"Very sparing one. Only his indomitable will carried 

faiiD throngh the multitudinous labours, fiom which, in 

Spite of exhaustinfT physical weakness, he could not 

ue persuaded to desist. In 1558, he was prostrated by 

tie quartan-ague, and never afterwai-ds was free from 

pun. In his sorest anguish he was often heard to 

ttnrmur, "O Lord, how long!" His last sermon was 

preached on 6th Pebruarj', 1564. The delivery of it 

^ interrupted by \'ioleut coughing and spitting of 

Woud. After this, he caused himself to be carried on 

Kroml occasions to Church, and on Easter Day partook 

'or the last time of the Sacrament, joining with 

trembling voice in the concluding 'hymn, "Lord, let 

'bj servant depart in peace." On 27th March, he 

WM borne to the Council Chamber, and took an 



affectionate farewell of the memberfi ; and a month 
later, on 30th April, he received a deputation irom the 
Council in his own chamber, and, solemnly addressing 
them on their duties, bade them a yet more formal 
adieu. Two days previously, he had summoned and 
taken farewell of the ministers of the city. On 19th 
May, when the miiiisteis met in his house at a com- 
mon meal, he bad himself carried into the chamber 
where they were, and ate a little food with them, but 
he hod to leave before the meal was concluded. The 
few days that remained to him were spent almost 
wholly in prayer. His fonn was so wasted that it 
seemed as if only the spirit were left ; but his eyes, 
witnesses tell us, biimed with their old lustre till the 
close. He had made his will in due form, and on 27th 
May, peacefully breathed his last. Great was the mourn- 
ing at Geneva, and intense the excitement which the 
news of his death thrilled through the (^'hristian world. 
Professors, clergy, citizens, all classes of the population, 
many of them in tears, followed his dust to its i^uiet 
resting-place in the city church-yard. It was Calvin's 
own wish that he should be buried without pomp, and 
that no stone should be raised to hia memory. The 
exact spot where he sleeps is accordingly unknown.' 

The intellectual and moral qualities of the dis- 
tinguished man who, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, 
was thus called to his repose, will he sufficiently ap- 
parent from the review we have given of the events of 
his chequereil career, Cahin's inteUeetual and moral 
build is entirely different from Luther's. The contrast 
of the two men is seen in their portraits — the one, 

'A smalt Btone, marked with the simple lett^ra " J.C.," has for 
about twenty years marked the auppoaed place of liia interuient, 
but the identification ia conjectural. 


^Pnre, fleshless, thin and refined in feature ; the other, 

*timij', strong, masculine, almost coarse in face and 

">nD. Calvin wants Luther's geniality, his rich, over- 

«*jmtig humour, his human maay-sidedness. But he is 

t-Tither'a equal in imhending loyalty to conscience, and 

**i {frandeur of intellect is incoutestably his superior. 

ATie three powers that appear in him in almost naked 

s«?erity are intellect, conscience, and will. To a mind 

*^«lin, lofty, and comprehensive in its views of truth ; 

*^ltar and logical in its processes of thought ; endowed 

■^^th singular penetration into men's chiiractera and 

*xiotives ; and statesmanlite in its yrasp of the complex 

features of an involval situation, ho unitetl a strength 

**1 moral conviction, a straightfiJi'wardness of aim, and 

^Ji inflexihility of purpose, which, whatever the sphere 

^■ihis action, made him a force in that sphere. Calvin 

•>.ai been compared with the Apostle Paul in his early 

struggles of conscience, his experiences of sin and grace, 

^Jidhis soaring hahit of contemplating all tliin<^s in the 

lifil of the Divine counsel They may be compared 

'•Jso in the purity of their motives and the singleness 

*>f lieir aims. But, above all, Reformer and Apostle 

^Je alike in the union they present of logical, argu- 

'^lentative powers of mind, with intense fervour of 

I>raetieaJ piety. Perhaps, after Paul, Calvin is the 

S^test example of this union. 

Ciil\Tn was not withoiit faults. His disiiosition 
denied to severity. He specially blames himself for 
■•npfttiiosity of temper, and begs forgiveness of those 
whom he may have wounded by harsh and nncharitahle 
^teaaions. Like every man of strong convictions 
""u decided will, he was apt to have little sympathy 
™li tlioae who set themselves in opposition to his 


views and wishefs. I'pright in motive liinisell', he felt 
only scorn for duplicity or meanueaa in othera. Whea 
roused, he could express himself with great vehemence. 
His writings contain passa{,fes of keen sarcasm, 
biting, caiiatic \vit. His character, as has heen said, 
had in it inoi-e of the Old Testament than of the New^ 
reilecteil more the holiness than the love of God. 

Yet Calvin wa.s not cold. Those wlio speak of hiW 
in thia way have not gone far down into his inner lifa 
His letters show that beneath the resei-ved exterior; 
there beat a warm, true, lo\ing heart. His intimato 
friends luved him as few men are loved, t^n the deaUt 
of his infant son he writes : — " The Lon! lias indec 
inflicted a grievous wound on us by the death of OUJ 
little son, and we feel it bitterly. But He is a Fathei 
aud knows what is necessary for His children," What 
his wife was removed from liia aide, he teUa — " If \ 
had not exercised the whole force of my spirit to e 
my agony, I could not have home it." " I do what ] 
can not to sink under the weight of this misfortune.' 
His spirit went on mellowing as years advanced. How 
touching his sigh for rest on hearing of the death r 
Melancthon — "() Phihp Melancthon, for I appeal t 
thee who art now lining in the boaom of God, whei 
thou waitest for us till we be gathered together with tl 
to a holy rest ' A hundred times hast thou said, when 
wearied with labiiur and oppressed with sadness, thm 
didst lay thyself familiarly on my breast, ' Woidd t 
1 could die on this breast ! ' Since then I have 3 
thousand times wished that it had been our lot to 1: 
tc^ether." ^ 


In truth, these letters of the Reformer, admitting us 
to the inmost recesses of his soul, reveal to the reader 
a very different man from the Calvin of traditional 
Opinion. Accused of pride, we find in these letters a 
man of very humhle heart ; accused of arrogance, we 
find that the terms Calvin most constantly applies to 
himself are shy, timid, bashful, pusiUanimous ; accused 
of tyranny, he was able to write — " How groundless 
the slander is that I am a tyrannical ruler, I leave my 
colleagues to judge, for they certainly have never com- 
plained that they felt themselves oppressed by my 
power; on the contrary, they frequently object to me 
that I am too shy, and do not act freely enouffh when 
there is need of the exercise of my authority, which all 
regai'd as beneficial," ' Stem where the honour of Giod 
^13 involved, he was quick to forgive where the 
injury was personal ; prone to anger, he was ready to 
confess his fault, and ask pardon for it. Still, he 
had not the genial, popular qualities of Luther ; his 
mttiiners were those of the well-bred gentleman, 
;;nive and courtly, rather than those of the man of 
iliB people ; his interests and work naturally with- 
drew his affections from tlie ordinary channels, and 
iibaorbed them in the good of the Church at large; 
^il"| that it ia not wonderful that those outside 
Ilia immediate circle admired biin at a respectfiil 
distance rather than regarded liim with warm lova 
This is not, however, the want of sympathy, but a 
cosmopolitan sympathy swallowing up the personal 
qdJ local. 

Calvin has been blamed for want of love of nature. 

Nature's fairest scenes were stretched around him, yet 

' Heurj, vol. i. p. 347. 


his letters take no more notice of them than if he had 
hved in a desert. The same objection has been taken 
to the letters of the Apostle Paid. Of both men it 
may he said that with their hands full of the work they 
had to do, they were not likely to get much time to 
sestheticise. Yet passages might be quoted to show 
that Calvin was far from insensible to the grandeur of 
Clod's works in the natural world. "Wbither could 
men turn," he wrote, " without hearing vocal testimonies 
to the existence and glory of the Great Architect in the 
admirable mechanism of the universe, proclaiming all 
around with loud and swelling voice the majesty of the 
(>ne Supreme. There were as many heralds of Hia 
boundless glory as there were beings He had made, 
and even those ereatiu-es which were dumb had in this 
i-espect a tongue for man. The birds in their warblings 
sang of God, and the lowing steers more loudly told of 
Him, while the heavenly bodies moved on in silent 
adoration ; the mountain resounded His praise, and 
fountain and flood pointed to Him with their glemce, 
and every herb and flower seemed to woo man to Hia 
maker."^ Whatever may be said of the feeling for 
natural beauty — which is a modem taste — Calvin does 
not fall under the reproach of the man " that hath not 
music in himself," and " is not moved witli concord of 
sweet sounds," for he had a genuine appreciation of 
both poetry and music. He promoted a metrical version 
of the Psalms, had appropriate tunea composed for 
them, introduced congregational singing at Geneva, and 
himself wrote a few pieces, including a hymn of praise 
to Christ, which, says SchafF, " are worthy of Clement 

^Preface to Olivetan'a New Testament, 1535. See aIao"Inati- 
tutea," Book I., sect. 6. 


1 unexpected vein of poetic fervour 

Marot, and reveal a 
and tenderness."'' 

The Eeforiner has been called narrow. But Calvin's 
mind, whatever its defects, was not a narrow one. 
"While not free from the inevitable limitations of his 
age, it was vast, capacious, comprehensive. It was not 
narrow as despising eultiu-e. What could breathe a 
juster spirit than the following remarks on heathen 
wisdom- — " It la granted by all that truth, of what 
kind soever it is, is precious. But as the Deity is the 
fountain of all that is good, you should think with 
yourself that you incur the charge of deep ingratitude 
if you do not welcome every portion of truth, iu what- 
ever channel it may come to you, as proceeding from 
God, and receive it as if it were spoken to you by 
a voice from heaven. For if it is criminal to despise 
the gifts of God, to ascribe to men what properly be- 
longs to God is flagrant impiety. MTierefore philosophy 
ia to be viewed as a rare gift from heaven, and those 
wise men who have appeared in every age were raised 
np by God to poiut the world to the knowledge of 
truth." ^ It was not narrow as overridden by dogma. 
This is shown by the Commentaries, which anticipate 
the best modern works of their class in their freedom 
from dogmatic prejudice, and honest desire to discover 
the exact sense of Scripture. It was not narrow as 
unable to stretch across mde gulphs and embrace men 
of very different opinions. The Reformer had a friend- 
ship with Lffihus Socimis, and wrote of Luther that 
though the latter should call him a devil, he would 

^ Creeds of Christendom, p. 440, and Ouizofs St, Lonia anii 
Oalvin, p. S64. 

'Quoted by M'Crie, p. 23. 


still regard him as a chosen minister of God. Luther, 
however, had a high respect for Cahdn, Finally, it 
was not narrow as stickling for trifles and accessories 
Himself favouring a particular form of government, he 
freely recognized the advantages of other forms ; a 
Presbj-terian in Church polity, he was not hostile to 
Episcopacy ; he witliheld the Sacrament from the 
Libertines, hut he defendeii charity in judging of men's 
characters, as against the narrowness of the Ana- 
liaptists; he had his own opinion of holidays and 
ceremonies, but he constantly held such things to be 
indilferent ; the Lord's Day was strictly observed at 
(ieneva, but Calvin's views on the Simday question are 
what would be called broad. His au,9terity was not 
such, that of an evening he could not unbend to a 
"[uiet game with the Magistrates at the pastime of "the 
Key," or permit himself the gentle exhilaration of the 
bowling green. 

Calvin's system is the reflection of his mind — severe, 
grand, logical, daring in the heights to which it ascends, 
>'et humble in its constant reversion to Scripture as 
its basis. Mounting to the throne of God, Calvin 
reads everything in the light of the eternal Divine 
decree. Man in his state of sin has lost his spiritual tree- 
dom, and the power to do anything truly good, though 
Calviu freely admits the existence of natural virtue, 
and attributes it to a working of Divine grace, even in 
the unr^enerate. God's jirovidence is all-governing 
and all-embracing, taking up into itself every act of 
man, and every event, natural and spiritual. Every- 
thing that happens is thus the bringing to hght of part 
of an eternal counsel. Whoever is brought into the 
liingdom of salvation is brought there by a free act of 



psce, and even the passing iiy of the unsaved, how- 
ever myaterions, must be traced back to an urigin in 
tbe eternal Divine wiU. The will of God thus con- 
tains in itself the ultimate reasons of all that is. It is 
a arbitrary, but a holy and good will, though the 
KMons for what actually takes place in the government 
the world are to us insciTitable. We will not ask 
law much in this grand scheme belongs to Paul, how 
Bnich lo Augustine, how much to Calvin himself. It 
conlains great truths, but it may be questioned whether, 
fa farrjing his theology to such heights, following 
" Kuowledge like a sinking star 
Beyond tlie utmost boond of humau thought," ' 

^^timk has not placed these truths in a light which 
■'Hioiisly imperils the plain Scripture doctrine of the love 
'^ fiod to humanity at lai^e. A system, however, to 

* criticiaed, must be imderstood, and many popular 
'^jMtioas apply, not to the theology of Calvin, but to 
■tauitelligent carieatiires of it, and have their origin in 
Miie to rise to Calvin's own point of view. The 
llffieiilty in ever>' doctrine of predestination is, how to 
Bwdle it with free-will and responsibUity ; but the 
[Q is as much a philosophical as a theological one. 
Usehdependsonhowwedefinefreedomon theonehand, 

ill on how we connect predestination with the free act 
"B the other, The real knot of the difficulty hes farther 
wci — ^tiow a free act can even be foreknown. A free 
**, in ihe sense of the objector, is one which springs 
»lely from the will of the creature ; it has no causes 
wjond that will ; it rests with the agent alone to say ■ 
»6at it shall be. This raises the difficulty of sup- 
posing it to Vie foreknown what an action shall be 
' Tennyson's Ulyssea. 


before even the creature who is to determine what it 
shall he has so mucli eis heen hronght into existence. 
On the other hand, granted unerring foreknowledge of 
how the individual will act in any position in which 
he may he placed, and it is not difBeidt to see that a 
plan may be formed consistently with freedom, yet 
shaping the coui-se of the world's history down even to 
its minutest details ; taking up free action into itself 
as the means of rcahzing its purposes ; and so giving 
actuahty to the free actions of men, otherwise regarded 
m bare possibilities. One thing is certain, that neither 
the materialist nor the idealist of oui' day can logically 
take up the stone against Calvin. Not the school of 
Huxley, Tyndall, Maudsley, or Galton, who deny free 
agency from the physical side ; not the school of Mr. 
Spencer or Mr. Bain, who are necessitarian on the 
metaphysical side ; not even the H^elian school, 
which, with a higher aim, yet sees in all things the 
working out of an eternal necessity. 

We have not left ourselves space to speak, as 
we would have wished of the influence of Calvin. 
TTia Church politj' extended itself to may countries. 
His system, passing hke iron into the blood of the 
nations which received it, raised up in the Trench 
Hugi-ienots, the English Puritans, the Scotch, the 
Dutch, the New Englanders, brave, free. God-fearing 
peoples. Abasing man before God, but exalting him 
again in the consciousness of a new-bom Uberty in 
Christ, teacliing him his slavery through sin, yet 
■ restoring to him his freedom through grace, leading 
him to regard all things in the light of eternity, it 
contributed to form a grave, but very noble Mid 
elevated type of character, reared a race not afraid 



lo lift up the head before kings, Mr. rroude may 
Fell ask " how it came to paea that if Calvinism is 
indeed tlie hard and unreasonable creed which modem 
ffllightenment declares it to be, it has possessed such 
singular attractions in past times for some of the 
Sffiitest men that ever lived; how — being, as we are 
■old, fatal to morality, because it denies free-wUl^ — 
Uie first symptom of its operation, wherever it estab- 
liahed itself, was to obliterate the distinction between 
sins and crimes, and to make the moral law the rule of 
life for States as well as persons ; why, if it be a creed 
*f intelleetual servitude, it was able to inspire and 

the bravest efforts ever made by man to break 
of unjust authority." ' Since Calvin's day, 

fid has not stood still. Men's thoughts have 
Other forms of society have taken the place 
those with which he was famiUar ; new q^uestiona 
He agitating the Church ; infidehty has extended its 
line, and is showing a different front. Scripture 
itself is cast into the crucible, and is being tried by pro- 
the Reformer would have shrunk from. Yet was 
lis battle essentially the same as ours — the battle with 
Bioral disorder, the battle with Antichristian error, the 
latlle with Atheistic unbelief. His work will stand 
scrutiny of the ages. To the end it will be 
teetified of him — " He served his generation by the 
»ill of God." 

Calviniam " tu Short Studiea, 2ad Seriea, p. 6. Mr, 
Cwuie, however, ia wronK in saying that Calviniam denieB £ree- 
^ See " Calvinism and the Doctrine of Philoaophical Neoea- 
Cuiiningham's Eeformera and the Theology of the 
" p. 471. 

« intellec 

ICollnrbs Af $j)U anh othet IJrccnteots of Iht 
^cottisit ^cfoimiitioii. 

No picture of the Scottish Eeformatiou can be com- 
plete in which the three great figures— Hamilton, 
Wishart, and Knox- — are represented only aa standing 
out against the common background of the conventional 
portrait-painter. History demands more. They must 
be set in the midst of their times. The distance and 
the middle-distance must be rubbed in with breadth 
and boldness, so as to bring out the historical per- 
spective of events. The salient features of the past 
must be restored upon the canvas, so as to intenaiiy tJia 
interest which must necessarily be focused on the three 
principal figures of the foreground. 

Our duty is simply to sketch the background of 
the historical picture, and to introduce into the middle 
distance the few, though by no means unimportant. 
Reformers who assisted in preparing the times for the 
Reformation. Others will paint in the three great 
figures who lived in " the fulness of the time ", and 
stamped it with their personahty. 

The Reformers of whom we treat appeared for the' 
most part in the fifteenth century. That century, 
however, was the resultant of forces long in opera- 
tion, and can only be understood by tracing these 


a to their origin. The history of the Scottish 
Cliurch dates back at least a thousand yaars from the 
Reformation, and is divided almost equally into two 
epoehs-^the Columban and the Roman. From the 
sixth till the sixteenth century, from C'olumba to 
Knox, there is a historical development which neces- 
sitates at least a brief reference to the remoter and 
nearer past. 

Let lis look for a moment to the sixth century. 
In 563, when Columba set his foot on the shore of 
lona. the dawn broke over Scotland, and the Scottish 
Church may be said to have been born. Against the 
horizon only a few figures are discernible other than 
I'y name ; and even these few seem for the most part 
only like " men as trees, walking." They are majestic 
and real, however, in spite of the mist of tradition in 
which they move. We see Columba austere and ener- 
detic, as visionary as a crusader, but as practical as 
a poUtician — a preacher and organizer, busy, ubiquitous, 
foil of that contagious enthusiasm which made his 
numerous monasteries brilliant light-centres that smote 
the darkness of the age ; St. Mungo, Oolumba's con- 
temporary^ sweetening the rude life of Pict and Briton 
with the amiability of his own character ; St. Aidan, 
4iE Ijndisfame, redeeming the fortunes of Northumbria ; 
Slid St. Guthbert, the gentle-hearted Prior of Melrose, 
the ChrysoBtom of the early Scottish Church, preaching 
tn tie rude chieftains and the cheerless peasantry of 
the Cheviots, The lives of theae early saints cover a 
memorable century, the golden age of the Church. As 
yet the Church was poor and pious, fired with the un- 
*Jfi9h zeal of youth. The Bible was venerated and 
put to use. The monks were missionaries, whose 


spiritualitj was not yet cnishsd out by inachiaery nor 
emasculated by luxury. The influence of that age 
never wholly died out, Columba reappeared in John 

" Every beginning is cheerful ; the threshold is the 
place of expectation." Tlie golden age of the early 
saints soon degenerated into braea. The expectation 
perished ahuost at the threshold of the new era. The 
next four hundred years, during which the Culdee 
Church feebly existed, are almost a historical blank. 
The monasteries became religious only in name. The 
ashes of young enthusiasm lay cold upon the altars. 
The offices of the Church became hereditary, and the 
wives and children of the priests claimed a share in 
the ofl'eriugs made to God, whilst the abbots not in- 
frequently were laymen who plundered the endowments 
of the monasteries.^ Eeform soon became imperative. 

In the middle of the eleventh century a brilliant 
though superficial reformation was inaugurated. But 
in the very effort to reform, the seeds of a worse de- 
formation were sown. It is here we find the nearer 
beginning of the evils that called for the thorough, 
radical, evangelical Eeformation of the sixteenth cen- 

If Ireland gave us Columba, England gave us Mar- 
garet. In 1066 she sailed up the Forth an exile, but 
remained a queen and a conqueror. The influence of 
t can scarcely be overestimated. Like Columba, 
she introduced a century of brilliant reform, which may 
B culminated in the reign of her son, the 
" Sair Sanct," David I. During that century Teutonic 
and Norman influences did much to civilize the wild 
' Jjiing's Lindorea Abbey, p. 30. 



Celtaiidtodiivelwp liolliliia individuality anil liiapatriot- 
M- With the south wind tliere appeared signs of re- 
Inraing spring. The old Oultlee Church was peaceably 
tuippianted by the Roman. That of England was taken 
16 Uie model for the Scottish reconstruction, The 
Cnldee monasteries were restored and gradually filled 
with monks, native and foreign. The various onlera 
»ere imported according to the fashion of the day. Tlie 
indiHientary parochial system of the Oultlees was per- 
iMted, and parochial clergy were stationed over the 
wmtry. New bishoprics were founded. Cathedmls, 
lltbeya, and monastic houses beautified the wild land- 
iape. Ic was an age of crusades, of Ireautiful fanati- 
'Mni and visionary romance, effectual in this at least, 
unit men's purses opened wide as their hearts, and un- 
Wi treasures were poured, not without great and in- 
tf«sing injury, into the monasteries and other eccleai- 
•stioal foundations. 

Although Margaret's Reformation was not the best, it 
iws tile best possible. The times were not ready for 
iHicil remedies and uitemal upheavals. The revival 
"f learning, printing, maritime discovery, and democracy 
W to appear before a radical doctrinal reformation 
Wild be attempted with the hope of success. Mean- 
^iiile the reconstruction offered a temporary remedy to 
"nuy of the national grievances. Vast tracts of soil 
*He brought under monastic government. The pea- 
Wnts, who had been alternately plunderers and 
llnndered, could till the ecclesiastical lands with 
SBcurity and in peace. Agriculture was encouraged, 
*iid the fields around the monasteries were browned by 
'^i plongh rather than reddened by battle. " Repose 
"^ the one thing most wanted, and the people found 


it under the protection of the crosier." ' Learning, too, 
waa fostered, and men who, many of them, loved the 
pagan classic loi-e more thau their Bihles, were content 
to tolerate the grossest superstitions in order to secure 
an asylum for study not elsewhere to he found.^ Yet 
the Eeformation of Margaret and her sons was super- 
ficial, spite of all its re^ splenrlour. It waa only a 
reorganization of the eflete Culdee Church. " The 
Church had risen from its Culdee tomh with more 
than Columban vigour."* There was " more than 
Columban vigour," hut it lacked Columhan spirituality. 
The Columban movement was essentially dynamical, 
as Carlyle would term it. In the sixth century 
religion " was spread abroad by the ' preaching of 
the Word,' by simple, altogether natural and indi- 
vidual efforts ; and flew, like hallowed fire, from 
heart to heart," ^ In the eleventh and twelfth cen- 
turies the Keforraation was mechanical, external, 
superficially splendid. The Church got a new suit 
of costly armour, but she eventually fell beneath its 
resplendent weight. 

When James Eesby, the protomartyr of Scotland, 
ventured across the Border into our country at the 
beginning of the fifteenth century, he found the people 
labouring under political and ecclesiastical oppression. 
Scotland was just recovering, under the House of 
Stuart, from the eft'ects of its long struggle for inde- 
pendence. Wallace and Bruce had bought our 
nationality at an inamense price. It took a long 

' Cosmo InneH, quoted in Laing'e Lindores Abbey, p. 32, 

' Pinkerton'H History, vol. i. bk. v, 

' Boss's Bcottisb History and Literature, p. 39, 

* Carlyle's Signs of the Times, 


time to licLuidate the account. But even after our 
nationality was won against the English it had to 
he preserved against the barons, whose power aoon 
increased to a dangerous enonnity. The people felt 

Froissai't," who visited Scotland about ten years before 
Eeahy, shudders at the penury and barbarity of 
the country. The handicrafts were so little known 
that the Scots could not make a horse-shoe nor a 
saddle. Nor did the Church do much to alleviate the 
people's thraldom. Europe was scandalized by tlie 
exasperating intrigues und shameless vices of a long 
series of Popes. Wheu the fifteenth century opened 
two rival successors of Peter — a Roman and a Preneh 
— were entertaining the Christian world with their 
conflicting claims and their reciprocal anathemas. A 
locust-plague of monks infested Europe. Scotland, too, 
was visited and eaten up. Indulgences for sins committed, 
and for sins contemplated, were hawked about by the 
Mars and sold to the highest bidder. Eepentance was 
not requisite. The Pope was needy, his emissaries 
were willing, and the consciences of the people de- 
manded the only rehef which money could buy. Nor 
is it surprising that in such an age the grossest super- 
stition should prevaU, Even the sober, voluminous 
Bower of Inchcolm devotes a chapter to a miracle 
wrought by the mass. Tlirough having previously cele- 
brated the mass, three of his brother monks were 
saved from shipwreck in a storm which overtook them 
in Aberdour Bay when returnhig from the shore with a 

' Barbour'a Bruce. 

' Pittkerton'a History, vol. i. p. 148. 



coDifortable eargo uf barrels of beer.^ Eelica were vended 
at the market-placea Bauds of pilgrims set out to "Whit- 
hom inarching to the bagpipes, the wild mnsic of which 
was varied hy the moat wanton sfiiigs,* Salvation waa 
hoiight and sold. But the price waa works — money 
pilgrimages, adoration of relics, and almost every fom 
of self-redemption. Faith and grace were imknowi 
terms. Christ — the LTiriat of the Bible — -had become 
stranger to prieat end people "and he could there dj 
no more mighty work." 

James Heahy was only the local exponent of a mova 
ment which soon l)ecame European. The Councils a 
Pisa, Constance, and Eaale had failed in their attempt 
at mechanical refonn. The correction of abuses wonli 
no longer suffice. What was wanted was not nei 
machinery but new motive power. The appear 
ance of Wyclif on the scene was epoch-making. H< 
was not the fir.'^t, but the tirst great, Keformer. Twt 
things characterized his efforts. He attacked doctrina 
error and appealed to the common people.^ This hj 
did hy empliasizing the need of faith and by translati 
ing the Bible into the people's language. Wyclif diei 
in 1384. "Inspiration," says Alexander Smith, "no 
unfrequently has travelled, like summer, from sout] 
northward." The breath of reform blew gently ova 
Scotland and gave it the first quickening of hopefi] 

It was probably about six years after Wyclif '3 deatJ 
when James Eesby came to Scotland. In the yea; 
1400, Henry IV., son of that Duke of Lancastei 

' Scotichronicon a Goodall, lib. xv. cap. 

»Pict. Hist. Scot., vol. i. p. 275. 

' Kurtz, Church Hist., vol i. p. 476. 


Tho had BO often befriended Wyclif, houglit tlie 
fefoui of the Churcli by renoimeing his father's 
policy and polluting tht; English statute-book for 
ihe first time with an Act " De Haeretico Com- 
burendo." Eeaby, who was probably one of WycUf'a 
"Poor Priests," may have corae north to escape 
peraecution ; but he remained to preach the Gospel 
and suffer for it. Little is known of this protomartyr 
save what is found in Walter Bower's continuation 
of Fordoun's Scotiehronicon. " Tradition tells us that 
Eeaby was extremely tall, spare, of commanding aspect, 
and with an eye which burned with earnestness and 
enthusiaam." ' But Bower is so overcome witli the 
horror of heresy tliat he does not even give iia a eide- 
glimpse of the noble heretic's personality. That he was 
Bot an unlettered man is, however, evident His writ- 
ings were loug cherished during these dark times in 
many a Scottish home, " at the instigation of the 
devil," says the orthodox Bower, who adds with 
palhafic na'ivet^, that to the'^e Lollards " stolen waters 
ftte sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." 

But Eesby's power was in his preaching. At last 
tt dynamic force was at work. The Word of God 
Was brought out of the dull, damp monasteries, and 
(anied over the breezy Scottish heather to speak in 
Ui8 rude vernacular in the turf-huta of the people. 
K*sby made his appearance at a favourable time. 
England and Scotland were at peace. The Border 
waa quiet. The peasant had laid down his weB-used 
Sffonl and battle-axe, and was ready to listen. When 
we picture in our imagination the tall, spare priest 
of the tradition 



ill russet guwii und with bare feet, gathering fcj 
crowds around him in the fields of Kyle or in fclij 
little burghs of I'etth or Fife, exposing the festeT^inj 
sores of the Churcli, the wounded Body of Christ, o.ini| 
pouring into them the forgotten balm of the Gosjiet 
we can understand how Eesby merited the sneering 
commendation of the chronicler, " for his preadnJnf 
he enjoyed a very high repute among the simple." It 
was a new thing in STOtland to appeal to the people 
as the Church of Christ. Hitherto the clergy were 
the Church. The people were only the source wh- 
the priesthood deiived its wealth. The shepherds 
tured the sheep for the sake of the wool. When reform 
waa attempted, the voice of the people was not he«ri. 
Deputations to Eome, a change of order of monis, nn 
episcopal remonstranco, were the extremeat measures 
adopted. But fiesby, like Wyclif, appealed to the 
people and preached the radical doctrine of salvation 
by grace, and thus became the first precursor of the 
Keformatiou of John Knox. 

Had James Eeahy only thundered against the clergy 
the minor charges of simony, laziness, and unoleaunesS, 
he might have passed through Scotland unnotice«i 
These were small matters. But when he ventur©^ 
upon doctrinal reform, he had touched the Ark of tti* 
Covenant, and must die, Eesby waa heard by tT** 
conunon people gladly. " Enough for the disciple t><^ 
be as his Master." The old history was repeate*^ 
in miniature. The chief priests and Pharisees 
council and said among themselves, " Perceive _ 
ye prevail nothing ? Behold, the world is gone afte^ 
him ! " Lawrence of Lindores, " a most solid ani^- 
famous ecclesiastic, especially blessed for the sanctity^ 


of liis life,"^ played the role of Caiaphaa and counselled 
deatli- "The Inquisitor of Hipretical depravity," as 
Lawrence was called, found a willing coadjutor in the 
Duke of Albany, who acted then as Kegent during the 
exile of young Kin g James I. Much less coiJd a 
Eegent than a hereditary king dispense with the favour 
of the Church when he found himself surrounded by 
a host of " Butcher- Barons." Arundel's coronation- 
whisper to Henry IV. seems to have reached Albany's 
ear — " To consolidate your throne, conciliate the clei^y 
and sacrifice the LoUai-da." Perhaps instinct taught 
Albany what Arundel learned by experience. Albany, 
at least, was not unwilling to make the purchase 
at any price — even the Ufe of an English " Poor 
Priest." Lindores, whose sympathies weut with France 
rather than with England," and who feared the new 
dangerous li^ht of Wyclif that had sent tliia stray 
flash piercing through the Scottish darkness, was will- 
ing to negotiate, James Eesby escaped the fires of 
Smithfield, which Archbishop Arundel fed so assidu- 
ously with English Lollards, but he met a like fate 
in the land of his exile. Being consigned, along with 
his writings, to the flames at Perth in the year 1407,* 
he attained the proud distinction of dying as Scotland's ■ 
first martyr for tlie cause of Christ. 

Lawrence's refutation of Eesby affords an interesting 
glimpse into the theology and logic of the age. Eesby 

' Scotichrontcoii, lib. xv. cap. xx. 

^ Tytler's Hiatory of Scotland, vol. iiL p. 282. 

' The date is uncertain. The Scotiohronieou reada^" Eodem 

anno die combuatuB eat Jacobus Beaby," etc, Tbe KiTnB 

year may refer to 1406 or 1407, cited at the close of the pre- 
ceding cliapter. Spotiawood gives 1407. 


was acciisfd of forty heretical conchisioiis. against which 
Lawrence of Lindores tried liis dialectic skill. If the 
patient, prosy monk of Inchcolm has faithfully reported 
Lawrence's refutations in the two folio pages devoted 
to that purpose, they re\'eal a wonderful zeal without 
knowledge, Tlie only two heretical tenets cited are 
these — " That the Pope is not rfc fado the Vicar of 
Christ," and "that no one can be Pope or Vicar of 
Christ unless he be holy," — two theses which gained 
pungency fi-om the Papal scandals of Eesby's times. 
The refutation begins with a pathetic remark upon 
the hopelessness of the heretic. " Tliey who are im- 
bued with and jxmted in the teaching of this most 
pernicious doctrine seldom or never reach the unity 
of the faith. Earely also, or never, do I remember 
to have seen such fall asleep in the Lord in a Christian 
manner." The Lollards are then described in a series 
of curious pictorial epithets, which Lawrence or Bower 
seems to have mistaken for ailments. We can only 
give a few. Tlieyare, "Gog and Magog," "worshippers 
of Antichrist," " dragons," *' the seed of Canaan," 
" wicked, lying, inveterate children, wavering from the 
patlis of Uie law." The epithets being exhausted, the 
artillery of Scripture and of the saints is made to 
do duty, Tjiwrence, however, was more telling in epi- 
tliet tliaii in quotation. One almost fancies he sees a 
smile pass over the face of the tall, pale heretic as 
lie hears such fatal verses as these made to do 
servieo in Itesby's condemnation — " So I aware in my 
wratli they shall not enter into my rest." " I know 
thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot ; I would 
thou wert cold or hot. So, then, because thou art 
lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee 



•"It fpf ray luoutli." ■' 111 the latter times, soiue shall 
'fepart from the faith, giving heed to seducing epirita 
Md iloctrines of devils." Tlie Intniisitor then, by 
flracribing a series of logical cireles, in which we caii- 
W iiope to follow iiim, proves to his own satisfaction, 
"iii endently to that of the (Joimcil, that the Pope w 
fttt Vicar of Christ ; and closes triumphantly with a 
^oolation fi'oui the Revelations of St. Bridget, the 
%al Swedish Nun, which are warranted to confute 
llw Lollards and all such. We should like to 
fave heard something of James Itesby's reply. But 
tliB chronicler is silent Who was Hesby in com- 
isrison with the mighty Lawrence that his words 
'Wii he eliroiucled ? We suspect that the only 
"ijumeut which told effectually was that to which the 
"tes offered only an ingenious pretext — -the argument 
ttliie fire at Perth. 

The cause of evangelical truth suffered little by 
"ii< first martyrdom. Tlie Scottish peasantrj- had 
the new wine, and, spite of all the specious 
Weitipte to demonstrate that the old was better, an 
"i^nictible remnant of the people helii to their 
•friction. Tlie enemies of the new heresy them- 
did much to prepare the soil for the detested 
*«i Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of St. Andrews, upon 
^8e memory, otherwise blameless, the death of 
"Wby, says Sputiawood, " lieth heavily," has the un- 
«ring honour of founding the first university in Scot- 
llBi He had studied at Oxford, where Baliol College 
been founded about a hundred and fifty years 
"fore this time. Three years after Keshy's martyrdom, 
■feprovided lectures at St. Andrews on various subjects 
Uie Scottish youth — a venture which received the 



Papal confirmation in 1413 amidst great rejoicings.* 
Nor is Lawrence of Lindores without a merited meed 
of praise. He helped the Eeformation in other ways 
than by martyr-making. He encouraged that genuine 
love of learning which is the iconcKilast of all priestly 
superstition. That " great tlieologian and man of 
venerable life,"* being the first to assist Wardlaw in 
his memorable undertaking, like a faithful "inquisitor 
of heretical depravity," lectured upon Peter Lombard's 
" Sentences," which formed, during the close of the 
middle ages, the supreme standard of orthodoxy. 
Lawrence's zeal for orthodoxy seems, however, not to 
have entirely accomplished its end. Lollardism had 
evidently become a popular phase of belief In 1416, 
rumours of the great Bohemian movement being abroad 
in the land, his hand is seen at work in the records 
of the new university enacting that all Masters of 
Arts should swear the following : — " You shall defend 
the Church against the assaults of the Lollards, and, 
according to your ability, shall resist all those who 
adhere to that sect." ' 

But the movement indicated by this oath was not 
confined to the Eaat. Outside the university and in 
the West of Scotland, where Lawrence's influence could 
scarcely be felt, Lollardism was agitating the mind 
of the people. It seems to have become necessary in 
these quarters to make another public example of the 
detested sect. A heretic, whose name even is unre- 
corded in the martyr-roll of our country, and of whom 
absolutely nothing but his death is known, was com- 
' Scotichronicon, lib. xv. cap. xxii. 

' Knox's Hist, of the Eefarmation, Ed. Laiiig, append, vol. ii. 


initled to the flames at Glasgow in 1422.' Two years 
after tliis event, which is the only iadicatioii of the 
pii^Tess of the new opinions in Uie West, James I. 
lEtamed from his long exile, and a new era began in 
lU history of Scotland. 

It has been well said by one of the old historians* 
lliat "James was one of the worthiest of all the Kii^s 
flf Scotland till his Times. Of the fonner Kings it 
might have Ireen said the Nation them Kings, but 
^ King made that People a Nation." The thirteen 
)fata of his active reign fill one of the brightest pages 
O Scottish history. He was a man of Protean accom- 
plishments — statesman, pliilosopher, musician, linguist, 
poet — "much obliged to the gifts of nature." He left 
iiii impression upon Scotland whicli neither the minor- 
itiM of future sovereigns nor the baronial feuds 
wer wholly extinguished James had a great work 
wbre him, and he set about it with more than 
"1^ earnestness. Whether to begin with Church 
w State must have been the question that presented 
Wf to such a king. Tliere was little to choose 
between them. The one was as corrupt as the other. 
The barons, however, were politically the more 
'"'ublesome. During Ids exile they had risen into 
'I'ngerous power ; but during his exile he had by his 
"Wacter and education accumulated a force tliat would 
Mid them in check at least during liis Hfetime. To 
isfonn the State became the object of James, and for 
tlmt purpose he had to become the patron of the Church. 
Mt he did more good by elevating the material condi- 
'ion of tlie people than he would have done by reform- 


iiig the corruption of the (.-lergj'. He did for democracy 
what Wardlaw and Lawrence had douti for leaiiiinf,'. 
The state of civilization which he found ou his arrival 
in Scotland was deplorahle. Scotland was far hehind 
tlie land of his fortunate exile. Enea Sil\-io, who hecame 
afterwards Pious II., gives an interesting glimjBe into 
the domestic history of the land. " The towns are 
unwalled," he writes, " tlie lioHses commonly huilt with- 
out lime, and in villages roofed with turf, while a cow's 
hide supplies the place of a door. Tlie commonalty are 
poor and uneducated, have ahundance of flesh and fish, 
but eat bread as a dainty."* Somers, he^ars, fools, and 
jesters vied with the friars in amusing and plundering 
the people. " Everywhere we behold a barbarous scorn of 
law, savage insolence, sanguinary feuds, and cjruel trage- 
<lies." ^ Jamesventured to crush these e^■il3. He encour- 
aged honest labour by laying a strong hand upon the beg- 
gar. He attempted to make property more secure. The 
statute-hooks were rapidly filled with laws, which, had it 
been possible to enforce them, would have prevented a 
hundred years of fruitless national struggle. 

But James was more than an iron-handed legislator. 
He loved and encouraged good society ; and his queen, 
so romantically wooed and won, " turned new-fangle the 
(Jourt " with English fashiona and the foibles of the 
day. Even the Church began to rebuke the king. The 
good Henry "VVardlaw and " the severer sort of the clergy 
began to carp," and forbade furs and ermine, gold and 
silver lace, pearls, jesters and buffoons. ^ But we may 
still follow the King in his lighter moods, and enjoy his 

'Quoted ill Pinkerton'a Hist. Scot., vol. i. book v. 
^Eoas'a Hiatory and LitBrature of Scotland, p. 110. 
^ Dnimiuond of Hawtborudeii, Hiat. of JaraeB I. 


Immely, humane interest in tlie coiumou pfojile uf liis 
clay. We Cftn accompany Mm iu his jVjiimeya amongst 
Ihe simple folk, and can see liim laugli at their follies, 
and take notes of their rollicking aniiisements. We 
call go with the royal poet to " I'elilis to the play," (ind 
Hiiuiire " the wenches of the West," with their ciu'ches 
and hoods ant! tjppeta; and the men of Tweed dale, with 
" birfcen hats " on their heads, danciuy tu the slirill 
music «f the bagpipe. We meet on the road the typical 
fish-cadger and his wife, with their creels and their 
"jjTeat grey mare"; or we can go with tliein to "Christ's 
Kirk on the Green," the antitype of Bums' Holy Fair, 
and learn more of the flesli and blood of the history of 
bia reign than we will find in aU the learned chronicles. 
There we see the priest-riddeu, baron-ridden peasantry 
Bojoying themselves in theii- own loiile fnslnon. Wc 
meet Tarn Liitax the minstrel, and llobin Roy, and the 
"fiasty hensure"' Harry, anil Lowiy the arrowmaker, 
«ld the town soutar with " full gowden " hah', and the 
iiiller " of manly mak",'' and the sturdy herdsmen of 
file tlieviots. ^ We cannot but rejoice in their wild 
Wae-play. The indomitable spirit of the Seotehmau 
*a8 not to be equalled out by adversity. Here are the 
taen who made history, or htdped to make it — if liistory 
^ more than a game at backgammon between kings 
and nobility. 

But James [had no favour, or at least showed none, 
Iw tie new light. He had seen the rosy dawit of 
"tters in England, but he was bhnd tu the jinrallel 

'GMiiy fellow, 

'little text we have accepted the tradition which osciibeK ti) 
™' aotlior of the King's Quhair ttie miuoi- poema refeniid to, 
"Wngh their aiil.Uorahip is di8].iituti. 


awakening in religion. He introduced Chancer to his 
counLrymen, but not Wyclif. His training under 
Henry IV. and Henry V., whose statecraft he made 
the model of liia own, was fatal to the Lollard 
cause. The English kings had adopted a policy of 
extennination, and James found it easy and politic to do 
likewise. Accordingly in his first Parliament, in 1424, 
seventeen years after Itesby's martjTdom, a law waa 
passed "Anentis Heretikia and Lolla.rdia," to the efl'ect 
that every bishop, wherever any heretics be found, 
should cause inquiry to be made by the inquisition of 
heresy, and that the heretics be punished as the law of 
the Holy Kirk requires ; and, if necessarj', that the 
secular power be caEed in for the support and help of 
the Holy Kirk.^ 

It is not to be supposed, however, that James was 
wholly blind to the evils of the Church, which policy, 
if not inclination, induced him to conciliate. He was 
too keen-sighted to imagine that the State could be 
healthy when the Church was corrupt. Bower^ has 
preserved a characteristic letter of the King to the 
Benedictine and Augnstinian monks, in which the King 
uses " great plainness of speech." He complains of the 
"rapid decay and threatening ruin of holy religion," 
which, he says, is daily degenerating from its ancient 
foundation, and feels constrained to arouse somewhat 
sharply their "torpid minds," and to awaken them out 
of the " sloth of their drowsiness," that they might live 
more consistently with their profession. In order to 
set before the other Orders in Scotland an example 

' Acta Pari. Bcotiie, vol ii. p. 7 Quoted in Laiug'a Appeiidis 
to Knox. Cf. Tytler, vol. iii. p. 231. 
' Scotidironicon & Goodall, lib. xvi cap. xiiiL 



in preeiseness of living, lie introdiicpil the Cartliusian 
monks, for whom he built and endowed a beautiful 
monastery at Pertb.^ 

But a fresh impulse was given to evanfjelical reform 
by tile appearance in Scotland of another martyr — 
Paul Crawar. Little is known of the personal history 
of this adventurous Reformer, save tliat he was a 
Bohemian and a physician. Onr imagination, how- 
ever, can without historical anachroniam picture him as 
1 lioy listening in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague to 
JohnHns, of "pale and meagre coiintenance,"' whUst 
the pious orator preached the old Gospel which was new 
to Prague, both to its priests and its people, or as a 
JOuth catching a boly zeal for Cbrist from the martyr- 
pile of the same dauntless Reformer. At any rate he 
liiid drunk the new wine of Bohemia, and, driven 
llence by persecution or by the impulse to head a 
lew movement in Scotland, he had aet himself to 
evangelize oiu' country. 

It is not known when Paul Crawar came to Scot- 
Iwid. In 1433, however, a new zeal for orthodoxy had 
Sprung up in the Church. Columba Dunbar, Bishop 
of Moray, and John Cameron.^ Bishop of Glasgow, had 
been sent to Basle aa delegates from the Scottish 
Church to the Council held there that year. One of 
tiie exciting questions of the Council was that of the 
BuBsite doctrine. The four Calistine Articles — the 
"Eucharist under lx)th forms, the free preaching of the 
*iwpel in the vernacular, strict discipline among the 

'Bpotiawood'a Hist., p. 57 (ed. 1655). 


clergj-, ami that tlie t-leryy should not poasesa secular 
property— were discussed for fifty lUvys, aud at 
last nominally conceded to lie afterwords ignored-' 
The Taborites, nuotlier aect of tlie Hussites, stood 
out against this temporizing policy of the Ualix- 
tines and argued for a thorough and Scriptural 
reform. Feeling ran high, aud we may justly suppose 
that the Scottish bishops caught the contagion of the 
persectiting policy and brought it home. It was not 
difficult for them to induce the doughty Lawrence of 
Lindores, " inqiusitor of heretical depravity," to buckle 
on his armour once iigaiu for the fray, and all the less 
diflicult wlien it was known that the Scottish move- 
ment was being headed by one of these turbulent 
Hussite Bohemiaus,* I'aul Crawar, the heretical 

We may tell the storj' of the only day of the 
martyr's life of which anything is known in the quaint 
vemaciilar of Bellenden's translation of Hector Boece. 
" Nocht lang efter was tane in Sanct Androis ane man 
of Eeiim uamit Paule Craw, precheand new and vane 
superstitionis to the pepyl, specially aganis the sacra- 
ment of the alter, veneration of Sanctis, and confession 
to be maid to I'riestis. At last he was brocht afore 
the Theologis, and al his opinionis condampnit. And 
because he perseuerit obstinatly to the end of his pley, 
he was condampnit and briut. He confessit afore his 
deatli that he was send out of Beiuu to preiclie to 
Scottis the heresyia of Hua and Wiccleif. The King 

' Kurtz, vol. i. p. 488. Cf, Scotichronicou tL Goodall, lib. xvi. 

'"'Qui iinni; iu nialefiuiiB uimiiini prae valebant." StotitLr., 



ioiiimeu(tit mekyl tliis panition," ' A few siigyestive 
loaclies may be added to this narrative of the scliolarlj- 
I'riiieiitfil of Abenleen from the earliest reconl of the 
eveut — ^that of Bower. The very title of the chapter 
in tiie Scotichronicon which records the mart)T'8 death 
19 indicative in iteelf of the promineut part which 
Crawar lias played in Scottish religious historj'. Resby 
Has enlitleil a heretic, Crawar an "arch-heretic."* 
Itesby was said to l)e held in hi{;h repute for his 
preaching hy the simple, Crawar ia recognized aa a 
Wan of learning worthy of Lawrence's steel, " prompt 
and practised in sacred letters and in adduciug the 
Scriptures." He had come, it is added, with com- 
fflfmdatory letters from I*rague to practise the art of 
medicine, in wliich lie excelled. But lindorcs, "who," 
saj-3 the admiring Bower, " never gave rest to the 
heretics or Lollards within the kingdom," discovered 
iim and hroiighb him to bay, and confuted him by 
Mch invective and a bonfire in St. Andrews on the 
SSrdJuIy, 1433. 

To which of the Hussite sects Crawar belonged is 
lint certainly known. From the minute description 
Tfhicli Bower gives of the Taborites, we may imagine 
, tbat Crawar was a follower of that party which was led 
^ Procopius the Great. The Taborites were demo- 
Witic. They had adopted the policy of no surrender, 
lid despised the Calixtiues for their comiiromiao with 
tt* Church, which they considered rotten, root and 
•wncli. At once the strength and weakness of the 
Mt was its severe spirituality which rejected forms 
'laii^B Knox, Append, ii. 



ami liuman aids of every kind. They threw off all 
tlie fetters of rule aad ordiuance, cleared away images, 
indulgences, relics, saint worship, pUgrimf^es; advocated 
the abolition of ecclesiastical possession of secular pro- 
perty, and gave the people the sacrament in both kinds, 
Bower,' whose vivid description argues that he had hia 
information from the records of an eye-witness — pro- 
bably of one of the delegates to Basle — tells with 
honor how Procopius, dressed in a long tunic with 
sleeves, marched with his followers to celebrate the 
mass without being furnished with the holy veatmenta, 
the Epistles, or Gospels, or any of the usual adjuncts of 
that occasion ; and liow, after a stirring Dominican ora- 
tion, he served the company of common people with 
wine out of a common bowl and with common bread 
ciim magna quantUaie. But the strength of the Taborit«s 
was their weakness. They became visionary, and for- 
got that the Church wrs still militant. They cleared the 
<leck and the hold of the ship not only of the ecclesias- 
tical rubbish, but of the needed ballast and steering 
gear and other necessary appliances ; and so in the 
end out-puritaned the Puritans and "virtually con- 
demned all the literature, education, offices, and law as 
then existing." * To this democratic and radical sect 
it is very probable that Paul Crawar belonged. Bower's' 
description of Procopius becomes significant only when 
we apply it to the Bohemian Taborite in Scotland. 

In what manner Paul Crawar was tried and con- 
demned is not known. Knox, indeed (upon what 
anthority we do not know), gives one interesting and 
graphic detail of the scene. It is said that the martyr 

' Scotichronicon, lib. xvi. cap. xx. 

' Kurtz, vol. i. p. 49a 


was delivered over tx) the secular judge by the Bishops, 
who followed Pilate, " who both did conderuu and also 
wash his hands." " To declare tliemselves to be the 
generation of Satan, who, from the beginning, hath 
been enemy to the truth aud he that desireth the same 
to be hid from the knowledge of men, they put a ball 
of brass in his month, to the end that he should not 
give confession of his faith to the people, neither yet 
that they should understand the defence whieh he had 
against their unjust accusation and condemnation." ' 
In the Scotichronicon there are two folio pages of 
allegorical abuse in which heaven and earth are almost 
exhausted of all evil imagery by way of refutation. 
We need only cull a few of the choice phrases. These 
Lollards are " wolves in sheep's clothing," " foxes of 
Samson," " a brood of vipers," " homed serpents," 
" pigmies," " erratic stars moving against the motion 
of the firmament," " hypocritical Pharisees," " Sad- 
dueees," " Sboica and Epicureans," " clouds without 
water," " walkers in the way of Cain and the errors of 
Balaam," " homed owls," " sowers of the devil's seed," 
" apostates from the faith," " shameless dog flies and 
locusts with long spikes and winged locusts whose end 
is the destruction of the fi'uit of the Church," * etc. 
But enough. The chronicler might have enriched the 
martyrology of our country had he condescended to 
write ten lines of plain history in lieu of these folio 
pages of harmless vituperation. Yet there is historical 
value even in all this invective. The chronicler im- 
mortalizes the intellectual condition of his time. He 
takes us into the monastery and lets us hear the 

• Laing's Knox, vol. i. p. 6. 

' Scotichronicoa, lib. svi, cap. isi, xxii. 


loonts speakuig of the new liylit that was breaking; 
so slowly and so intermittent]}' over the land. We 
hear their exclamations of horror, their hopeless 
attempts at refutation by inappropriate texts and 
garbled Scripture and uncharitable jargon, and we 
understand somewhat whence the Are came that 
Idudled the inartjT-pCe at St. Andrews for the adven- 
turous Bohemian. 

The munler of Jamea I. in 1437 was the greatest 
national calamity of the century. The hopes of polit- 
icnJ and social reform were suddenly crushed under th« 
feet of the assassins ; and, although the King's influ- 
ence was never effaced from the annals of our coimtry, 
the evils of the minorities and the tmpatriotic ambi- 
tion of the nobles did much to hinder the progress of 
civiEzation so happily begun. James II. was only six 
years old at the death of liis father. One needs only 
glance over the mournful pages of Lindsay of Pit- 
seottie's Chronicles to learn wliat a tragic calamity a 
minority was to Scotland in these days. The wild 
hunt for priwer liegan. Murder became the chief pas- 
time of the nobles. Laws were haughtily despised. 
The ami of State authority was paralysed. No regent 
had sufficient power to enforce a law against a Douglas 
or a Livingston. The brutality of the times is wit- 
nessed, for instance, in the bloody encounter between 
the Ogilvies and the Crawfords at Arbroath in 1445, 
narrated in such tragic matter-of-fact detaO by Pit- 
scottie, who thereafter makes the naii^ remark, which 
he more than justifies in the course of his history — 
" Efter this thair followed nothing but slaucbter in tliis 
realme. In everie pairt ilk ane laid wait for otheris, 
as they had been settand themselffis for slauchter of 


Wjld Ijeaslis." ' The House of Douglas especially be- 
tame the scourj'e of Scotland, and we see how hope- 
Itas the struggle for progi'eas must liiive been when it 
could be said of the most powerful noble of the realm, 
"tfltheife and traytoiir he was ane sieker targe, and 
be ihe contrair, ane plains enemy to good men."^ Nor 
Was this lawlessness confined to the minority of James 
II. The battle of the kites and crows re^dved during 
the minorities of tlie next three kings, and during the 
ra^'Drity of each was only varied, more or less, by the 
monarch liimself hecoming a new party in the struggle, 
litapect for property had almost ched out. Burning 
became the fashionable revenge of the nobility. Within 
a few yeai-s Stirling, Strathbogie, Forres, and luver- 
>MSS were laid waste by fire in the rude settle- 
tlement of private feuds. The voice of justice was 
Smothered; her arm, which was partially released by 
•Tames I., was again bound by the lawless nobility. 
" Even so late as Mary's reign," says Pinkerton, " the 
Iwlanee of justice was commonly used in weigiiii^ 
■which bribe waa heaviest," How grievously these 
•Calamities oppressed the commonalty and exhausted 
tie resources of the country may be seen from the old 
clironicle at the end of Wyntoim. Against the year 
1^82 we find the following snggestive entry, which 
giTBs the otlier side of the picture — how it fared with 
tie commons whilst the nobles were playing at knightly 
Wwrder:— " Thar was ane gret hungyr and deid in 
Scotlaiid, for the boll of meill was for foiu: pounds; for 
tour was blak cunye (coinage) ui the realm, strikkin 

Md ordinyt be King James the Thred And 

'KtMottie'a Clironiclea, voL i. p. 55 (Ed, Eiluibiu-gh, ]ai4). 
'Idem, p. 68. 


ab WM gRt ws (««r) betwis Smdnd aal Ii^jand. 
Mii gneC dntivcliovB Umnr the ««is («xis) was of 
eonie and estdL AaA tlni tn t^Tngs nosTt bajth 
IdtD^v and doih, aad mnqr par Calk dcst of hangar." ' 
Under audi imJ"**^' aad axial eonditins it is not 

' to be expected that the eaase of religioD ooold thme. 

I Ibe conuaonaltT- had not leisoic to kad or be kd in 
woij new idigJooB moreanetit. The priests bad the 

[ kisure bat not the desire to advance the claims of 
tmth and r^teousDess in times which demanded 
tbein both. So lazy became tbe habits, so base the 
lives, so shameless the extartion of tbe rank and file of 
the clerg}', that tbe censure and excommunication of 
the Church were despised by the common people, and 
had to be enforced by the secular power. But its 
enonuous wealth was the Church's corse. The world 
was too much with it. So vastly had its endowments 
iucreuBud that its property was equal to that in the 
hands of the whole laity.* But this princely affluence 
ex]i08ed the Church to the intriguo of avarice, sacred 
and secular. Its prizes were vehemently competed for 
by Hie I'ope and the King. Bishoprics had long been 
sold to tliG highest bidder by the Pope, who would not 
give hia covtited bull for nothing. But in 1471 
Janiea III. enacted that it was treasonable to purchase 
a boiieflce or other office at Rome, and gradually 
assiinied to bimaelf the right of nomination to idl 
vacant offices in the Church. 

The effect of this unwise legislation, which simply 
transferred the evils of simony from tbe Pope to the 
King, was to fill the parishes and the monasteries 
' Vide Pinkerton, vol. i. Append, xxi. 
' Pinkerton's Hist., vol. i. p. 414. 



with royal hirelings, who loved leiaure and the larder 
more than the cure of aoula. "When the recruits 
among the clergy were enlisted from a nohnity which 
was as infamous in its Crimea as notorious for its 
ignorance, we muat grant that the Church, when it 
escaped the plunder of the Pope, suffered much at the 
hands of the ayaricioua King. Many of the rich 
livings were held by mere hoys, some even by infants, 
and not a few by men imbecile in mind.^ The evils of 
simony were felt even by the clergy themselves, who, 
however, would rather have been fleeced by the Pope 
than by the King, and find expression in the lines of a 
poem of the times. The Tlu'ee Priests of Peebles, in 
which the royal simony is blamed for the loss of the 
Church's spirituality — 

For now on daya, ia neither rich nor poor 
Shall set ane kirk, all throngh his literature. 
For science, tor virtue or for blood, 
Gets DaJie the Kirk, but baith for gold and good. 
Thus, great excellent King ! the holy Ghaist 
Out of your men of good away is cliast. . . . 
Sic wickedneaa there ia this world witliin, 
Tliat simony is counted uotv ncie sin. 

Between the martyrdom of Paul Crawar and the 
trial of the LoUards of Kyle there elapsed a period of 
sixty years. During that long period of baronial feuds, 
ecclesiastical lethargy, and national adversity, the evan- 
gelical reforming spirit was quiescent, if not quenched. 
If there was a noble remnant left it was hidden. The 
times were too insecure to admit of agitation in favour 
of evangelical reform. Tet it must not be understood 
that nothing was done to remedy the abuses of the 
clergj'. If the Church as a whole was corrupt, there 
I Vide Laing'a Iiindores Abbey, p. 111. 


were within its pale a few conspicuoiia exceptions, 
whose probity, purity, imd patriotism redeem it from 
sweeping obloquy. 

Lawrence of Lindorea, even, " the inquisitor of heret- 
ical depravity," was in his own way a reformer, and 
stands out from the common priesthood with unstained 
character, and disinterested, though misdirected zeal for 
the welfare of the Church and the glory of God. One 
would rather remember him gratefully as one of the 
founders of the first university than for his martyr- 
making. Bishop Henry Wardlaw, too, the iirst of 
three successive Bishops of St. Andrews who attempted 
to allay the worst symptoms, if not to cure the disease 
of the Church, must not be forgotten in speaking of 
the Church's internal reformers. Though so unhappily 
aaaoeiated with the death of Eesby and Crawar, he is 
to be patriotically remembered as the founder of om' 
first university, who, by his learning, unselfish gener- 
osity, and faithfulness to the duties of his distinguished 
ofiiee, adorned for thirty-five years the ancient see of 
St. Andrews, and did much to banish ignorance and 
evil from the Church. 

But Bishop James Keimedy stands without an equal 
in Church or State diiring his times, and has left an 
indelible impression upon both. During the reign of 
.Tames II., and part of the reign of James III., he stood 
at the helm in the height of the storm — almost the 
only man of his day for whom history has a word of 
enthusiastic praise. As a Churchman he did not 
attempt to destroy the germs of the Church's disease, 
but he closed, at least for the time, her putrid sores. 
Historians have only good to say of Xennedy. He re- 
paired with some success the broken-down ecclesiastical 


machinery, auil set the Uhui-cli somewhat in order. 
Spotiswood says that " upou his translation to S. 
Andrews he did put all things in such order as no man 
then living did remember to have seen the L'hnrch in 
so good an estate.'" But we have to turn to the pages 
(if Pitscottie to know the nature of the good Bishop's 
work. The histoi-ian's magnificent eulogy ia invaluable 
not only as a portrait of a noble historical figure, but, 
by implication, as a su^eattve picture of the average 
clerical life of the times, to which Kennedy was at once 
an exception and an example. "This bischop Ken- 
nedie was vondrous godlie and wyse, and was weill 
learned in divine aeienees, and practised the same to 
the glorie of God, ami weill of his Church ; for he 
oauseil all persoues and vicares to remaine at tliair 
paroche kirkis, for the instructions and edifieing of thair 
Hock, and caused thame preach the Word of God to the 
people, and visit thame that war seik ; and also the said 
biachope visited every kirk within the diocie, four tymes 
in the yeir, and preached to the said parochin him selfe 
the word of God, and inquyred of thame if they war 
dewlie instructed be thair persone and viccar, and if the 
poore war susteaned, and the youth brought vp, and 
learned aecoi-ding to the ordom' that was taine in the 
kirk of God ; and r[uhaii- he found not this ordour 
keipit, he maid great punischment, to the effect that 
(fodia glorie might shyne in his diocie ; leiving guid 
example to all arehbischopis and kirk men to cans the 
patrimonie of Gofl's word to be vsed to his awin glorie, 
and to the commounweill of the poore." ^ 

Bishop Kennedy died in 1466, having been Bishop 

' Spotiewood, p. BT. 

-Pitscottie'a Chronicles, vol. i. p, 170. 


of St -Aodtews for twenty-two years. He was scc- 
ce«ded I7 his half-brotbeT, Patrick Graham, who inher- 
ited many of the qnalitiea which distingnished Ken- 
nedy. Patrick Graham may tank also amoi^ the 
ReformeiB and, in certain respects, as a heretic and a 
maityr. He suffered much by Kennedy's greatness. 
Soch a man as Kennedy, on account of his probity, 
made many enemies among the nobles, and they, in the 
fashion of the times, determined to avenge themselves 
npon his kinsman Graham. Graham's appointment 
a« first Archbishop of St. Andrews was received with 
mtich disfavour. It excited the spite of the bishops, 
who refused to tolerate a superior whom they were not 
prejxired to imitate. " He came among them with the 
odious commission of an Apostolic Nuncio, to extort a 
tithe of their benefices tor a war against the Turks. 
In their indignation they taxed themselves in 12,000 
marks, and, making common cause with the King and 
tlie Court, precipitated a conflict which proved fatal to 
Archbishop Patrick Graham."' Nor was the Papal 
appointment acceptable to the common clergy, who be- 
came alarmed at the well-known reforming propensities 
of the new Archbishop. His commission from Kome 
authorized him to reform the abuses in the Church 
and to correct the dissoluteness of the clergy. It was 
not difficult for the derical party to enlist the sympa^ 
thies of the nobles, who themselves had a large interest 
in the ecclesiastical maladministration. Graham's spirit 
was foreign to the Church and the nobility. Few, if 
imy, desired reform. The abuses were too splendid 
and profitable to be so lightly remedied. Graham was 
accused of heresy, schism, and, among other things, of 
' Gordon's Scotichronicon, voL i p. 224. 



raying three masses in the day, " whereas in those thues 

•■t ffas difficile to find a Bialiop that in three months 

•Jid say one mass." ^ The noble and pious Graham Le- 

«iame the subject of a tedious persecution. He was 

stripped of his honours, imprisoned in varioiia places, 

^wd at last, his reason having given way, he died in 

Sit Serfs and was buried there, and with him passed 

^way a brilliant but abortive attempt at reform from 

'Vrithin the Church itself. Although these bishops can- 

*]ot be classed among the Evangelical Reformers of our 

«2oimtry, no account of pre-1'eformation Eeformers could 

tie complete which ignored their noble services on be- 

*Mlf of Church and State. 

On the death of Patrick Graham the Church went 

I "' daily from ill to worse." The few internal Eeformers 

"Whom he represented retired hopelessly into private 

life. But the leaven of reform began to work in 

another sphere, outside the universities and the ecclesi- 

a^cal circles — among the common people of the West, 

^*hti became known aa the Lollards of Kyle. The fire 

ol Lollardiam had never been quite quenched ; but 

l»ow it suddenly burst into flame in 1494 remains still 

a mystery. There was at this time no outstanding 

movement in England nor on the Continent. In the 

Xow Countries John Eiichrath and John Wessel, the 

" Ik mundi " so much admired by Luther, had been 

ailvocating a reform which was mainly theological, 

^iiiet and local. Savonarola had begun to illuminate 

' florence with his bold enthusiastic oratory. But his 

I appearance was meteoric, strange, brilliant, evanescent. 

of the contemporaneous movements spread 

[ the localities in which they originated. The 

' Spotiflwood, p. 69. 


Kyle movement seems to have been indebted to do 
foreign intiuence. One little incident, indeed, may be 
supposed to throw a tbin ray of light upon the subject. 
About this time the study of the Bible in the verna- 
cular in manuscript seems to ba^'e been not uneonunon 
in the AjTshire district. This is evident from a letter 
wliieb was written sometime afterwards to Jamea V. 
by Alexander Alesiua.' In that letter, in which it is 
argued that the Scriptures should be read in families 
at home, the pious example of John Campbell of Cess- 
nock is cited. He, it is said, bad a priest in bis own 
house who read to the family, to their great edifica- 
tion, the New Testament in the vernacular. Being a 
hospitable and tolerant gentleman he entertained the 
monks to dinner and to after-dinner dissertations on 
theology. But the monks, " passing ■ by the eating- 
table and the salt," reported to the bishop, and 
Campbell and his lady were accused of heresy. 
Campbell being a very modest man, and, like Moses, of 
" uncircumcised lips," found a vigorous advocate in his 
wife, who by appropriate Scripture and sound mother- 
wit so successfully disposed of the monkish vagaries 
that King James IV., before whose tribunal they were 
aiimmoned, "rising up, caressed the woman, and extolled 
her diligence in Christian doctrine." To this custom 
of reading the Scriptures, probably introduced long 
before this time by followers of WyeKf, may be traced 
the effort at refonn made by the Lollards of Kyle. 
The Kyle movement was not confined to any one family. 
It seems to have been popular over the greater part of 
Ayrshire. The leaders in the movement were drawn 
neither from the nobles nor from the common people, 
' Annals of the English Bible, voL ii. quoted Piot, His. of Soot. 

whose wara and feudal relations fiave theiu little leisuru, 
l>ut from the intermediate class, the comparatively inde- 
pendent gentry of the shire. That the movement was 
canied on with some success and determination is seen 
from the fact that no less than thirty of the leadei-s 
^ere summoned hy the Archbishop of Glasgow to 
appear before the Great Council of the King. The 
lanoes of six of these are given by Knox and are 
Worthy of remembrance — George Campbell of Ceasnock, 
Adam Reid of Barskimming, John CampbeU of New- 
Juilns, Andrew Shaw of Polkeimnet, Helen Chalmonrs 
lady Polkellie, and Marion Chalmonrs lady Stair.' 

The trial was conducted in the presence of King 
•Tames IV., who was then in the sixth year of his reign, 
•l^ames was a gifted monarch, beloved of nobles and 
commons, not hated by priests. He had much of the 
IttiUiant talent of James I,, but little of his eameatneas 
and love of learning. By turns he was a sensualist 
and an ascetic, a humble pilgrim and a reckless free- 
liver. His curiously mixed character may be summed 
Mp in the couplet of a poet and the epigram of a 
historian — 

" For lie -was myrrour of humilitie, 
Lode stenie aiid lamp of liberalities ; " ^ 

" A monarch whose faults were few but fatal, whose- 
virtues were many but useless." ° But James was not 
V any means priest-ridden. Notwithstanding all his 
1*11 spasmodic penances and eccentric pilgrimages he 
Vnew the hollowness of the priestly life and the insin- 
'*nty of much of their doctrine. To him the trial of these 

' Vide Knox's Ref. by Laiiig, vol. i. pp. 6-12. 
' Sir David Lindsay. 
' Pinkerton. 


Lollards had little gravity. He treated it in the Gallio 
fashion. Robert Blacader, who acted aa inquisitor, had 
only lately won for Glasgow the honour of an axch- 
biahopric.^ He is said to have been noble and wise, a 
good diplomatist in State affairs, superstitious, however, 
and morose, known during his fatal pilgrimage to the 
Holy Land as the " rich Scottish bishop." But in his 
attempt to signalize his archiepiscopal zeal by perse- 
cution, he incurred alike the ridicule of the witty 
heretics and the laughter of the good-natured king. 

The articles of which the Lollards were accused by 
Blacader are interesting as an indictment against the 
life of the clergy and the policy of the Church. Knox. 
who copied them from the Glasgow records, which are 
not known to be now extant, enumerates thirty-tour, of 
which the following are the most important :- — That 
images are not to be had nor yet to be worshipped; 
that the relics of saints are not to be worshipped ; that 
Christ gave power to Peter only, and not to his succea- 
aors, to bind and loose within the kirk ; that after the 
consecration in the mass there remains bread, and 
that there is not the natural body of Christ ; that 
tithes might not be given to ecclesiastical men ; that 
every faithful man or woman is a priest ; that the 
Pope is not the successor of Peter, but where He said, 
" Go beliind me, Satan " ; that the Pope deceives the 
people by his bulla and indulgences ; that the Pope 
cannot remit the pains of puigatory; that the priests 
might have wives according te the constitution of the 
law ; that the Pope forgives not sins, but only God. 

In these sweeping accusations it is not difficult to 
perceive the influence of Wyclif and his followers, the 
• In 1491, vide Sootichronicon by Dr. Gordon, vol. ii. p. 515. 

rS^J^i^^, £TC. 


li Lollards, Almost every one of these ohargea 

<2oQld have been quoted against the Eeforniera across 

tie Border, But they were not aimed by the LoUania 

<3f Kyle against imaginary evils. Scotland knew more 

<3f priestly pride, imposition, and scandal than even Enj;- 

land. As regards the evil of the worship of images 

J^uiil of relics, the extent to which it had developed may 

te seen by glancing over an inventory, made in the 

^«:3iiddle of the fifteenth century, of the ornaments, relics, 

^*iid jewels in the church of Glasgow.' Among other 

"■stings we notice—" Four Precious Clasps for Copes, 

'^^Karing the embroidered Image of the Aimimciation of 

■fche Blessed Virgin ; ftnother, more precious, represent- 

^■jg her coronation ; a third with the image of the 

<3nicifix; a fourth with the image of our Lord seated 

<=>n a Throne with the Four Evangelists, one or either in 

fche four comers : all of silver richly gilt. A cross, or 

■fcle image of the crucifix, with two collatei-al Figures of 

■^5tiod size, of Silver." The vestments of the bishop and 

^tiis ministers are of brown velvet, white silk or red 

^ilk ornamented with flowers of gold and images of 

^it There are several altar cloths with golden 

**iBgea. In fact images are represented as appearing 

*^E almost everything under the care of the sacristan. 

«ut the list of relics in the inventory reveals a still 

Swaser credulity and superstition. There is, of course, 

' a small piece of the true cross of our Lord" ; a phial 

'^^itti the hair of the blessed Virgin ; portions of the 

siiut shirts of Saints Kentigem and Thomas of Canter- 

•^"ry; a particle of the skin of St. Bartholomew the 

■Apostle ; a bone of St. Ninian ; " a small portion of 

^ girdle of the blessed Virgin Mary" ; a small por- 

'Scotichronicon, bj Dr. Giordon, vol. if. pp. 451-457. 



tion of the crib of our Lord; and four bags of bones of 
various saints. There ia little wonder that the en- 
lightened people of Kyle revolted against the image 
and relic worship which had grown to such dimensions 
in the diocese of the very bishop who was now their 

Nor were the other Articles framed against vices 
and superstitions that would shock only fanatics. The 
monks and priests winked at the vows of their order.' 
Their richly dowered daughters competed more than 
favourably with the daughters of the nobles in securing 
the prizes of matrimony. Indulgences were sold like 
common merchandise at markets and fares. Goods and 
lands were bequeathed by almost every one who had 
property for founding altars, in order to " assuage and 
terminate the pains of purgatory" for the donor.^ The 
Pope had made liimself so hateful by the practices to 
which he resorted in order to extract money from the 
people, that his pardon and blessing and excommunica- 
tion were despised. But the Lollards of Kyle, with 
their Bible in their heart, met the arrogance and pomp 
of the priests by advocating the priesthood of the 
faithful people, and cut themselves adrift from work- 
righteousness and fictitious remedies by proclaiming 
with Lutheran boldness " that the Pope forgives not 
sins, but only God." 

But turn for a moment to the scene in the Great 
Council. The heretics were more than a match for 
their accusers. There is an enjoyable Scotch pawki- 
ness in the manner in which Adam Eeid of Barskini- 

'Cf. Register of the Collegiate Chureli of Crail, by Dr. 
Rogers, p. 23. Ross's Hist, and Lit., pp. 401, 402. 
SEegifltBr of the Coll. Ch. of Crail, p. 31. 

r^ic'r'iff, ETC. 351 

,_, ilefended the cause of himself and his coinra*.les. 

-•Snax's narrative of the trial is too happy to lie 

Unproved upon. " Albeit that the accusation of the 

fc»sIiop, anil hia accomplices, was very grievous, yet God 

^0 assisted His servants, partly by incUnmy the King's 

Ineart to gentleness (for divers of them were his great 

familiars), and partly by giving bold and godly answers 

fco their accusators, that the enemies in the end were 

frustrate of their purpose. For, while the bishop, in 

Xxockage, said to Adam Eeid of BarskjTuing, ' Eeid, 

"txilieve ye that God is in heaven ? ' He answered, 

" Not as I do the sacraments seven,' Whereat the 

luisbop, thinking to have triumphed, said, ' Sir, lo, he 

•denies that God is in heaven,' Whereat the King, 

"Wnmdering, said, ' Adam Eeiil, what say ye ? ' The 

<*tliiir answered, ' Pleaseth your Majesty to hear the 

^Mid betwixt the churl and me.' And therewith he 

turned to the bishop, and said, ' I neither thhik nor 

telieve as thou thinkest that God is ui heaven ; but I 

^wn most assured that He is not only in heaven but 

»-tso in the earth. But thou and thy faction declare 

bj your works, that either ye think that there is no 

t^ at all, or else that He is so set up in heaven that 

Ee regards not what is done upon the earth ; for, if 

tlou firmly behevedest that God were m heaven, thou 

sliouldest not make thyself checkmate to the King, and 

allogether forget the chai^ that Jesus Christ the Won 

•^ God gave to His Apostles, which was to preach His 

Gospel, and not to play the proud prelates, as all the 

■^IiMb of you do this day. And now, Sir,' said he to 

the King, ' judge ye whether the bishop or I believe 

i^at that God is in heaven.' While the bishop and 

^ land could not well revenge themselves, and while 


miuiy taunts were given them in their teeth, the King, 
willing to put an end to further reasoning, said to the 
said Adam Reid, ' Wilt thou bum thy bill ? ' He 
answered, ' Sir, ajid the bishop, an yo will.' With 
these and the lite scoffs the bishop and bis band were 
so dashed out of countenance that the greatest part of 
the accusation was turned to laughter."^ 

The trial, which under a more fanatic or leas indepen- 
dent Icing might have ended in martyrdom, was hushed 
up in mockery. The Lollards returned home, hut we 
hear no more of the progress of their agitation, Knox 
saya that "aft€r that diet, we find almost no question 
for matters of religion, the space of nearly thirty 
years." The reason may be found in the fact that the 
attempts at reform were yet, to a great extent, only 
negative. They were made against abuses rather than 
in favour of the great truths of the Christian religion. 
What was needed to give vitality to the movement 
was a few cardinal truths to fight for. But the doc- 
trines of justification by faith alone, and of redemption 
by the merits of Christ, not having been fully dis- 
covered, were not fully and freely insisted upon. Till 
the radical Reformation inaugurated by Luther gave a 
new direction and a fresh force to the movement in 
Scotland, Christ did not receive His position as chief 
comer-stone in the doctrinal edifice. There is a great 
advance even from the thirty-four articles of the 
LoUards of Kyle to the Brief Treatise of Mr. Pat- 
rike Hamelton, called Patrike's Places. In the latter 
" Christ is all and in all," and the Gospel receives at 
last a distinct evangelical utterance Yet, till Hamil- 
ton and Knox came, there was work to he done — 
' Knox's History, vol. i (Paisley : David Gardner, 1791.) 


^-tie work of still further demolition prepai'atory to 

The work of dwnolition was to a great extent 

effected by two men, William Dunbar and Sir David 

^t^dsay, the former of whom, at least, manifested no 

^jmpathy with the evangelical movements of the past 

Xaor of his own day. If they cannot be called Eeformei-s, 

"fchey certainly were forerunners of reform. They did 

^■zflueh to make the rough places smooth for the more posi- 

"fcivework of John Knox byrendering the priests ridiculous 

^wid the Church suspected by the conunon peopla Dun- 

Ijor and Lyndsay were, however, assisted in their work of 

«3amohtion by the circumstances of their times. Edu- 

<2iition was at last being looked upon as something 

^KDOre than a monkish accomplishment. On the very 

^eai in which the Lollards of Kyle were tried, ' a 

■third university was founded in Scotland. Two years 

after that, the first compulsory education Act was 

Ifissed, to the effect that the eldest sons of barons 

Is aent to school when they were nine years of age. 

The reign of James IV., spite of its licentiousness, was 

OM of prosperity. Scotland began now to feel the 

impulse of the so-called revival of learning, which in 

Western Europe was maturing vast changes, in which 

Scotland also was destined to participate. Quite a 

galaxy of poets had suddenly appeared. Dunbar's 

lAment of the Makaris makes the patriotic Scotchman 

hoth proud and sorrowful. Only one of the number 

lot whom the bard laments is well known — the gen- 

^hearted. sententious schoolmaster of Dunfermline, 

d Maister Robert Henrisoun." The others have 

Appeared, or have left behind them only fr^ments 

"Itioh are indicative of the great works we have lost. 


But the beginning of the century witnessed a re- 
vival uf letters unprecedented in Scotland. The classic 
Bishop of Dnnlceld, Gavin Douglas, who forfeited a 
larger fame as a poet by Ms notoriety as a political 
prelate, had introduced Virgil to his countrymen in a 
translation iu which the fienaisaance first finds distinct 
expression in the Scottish tongue. Hector Tioece, the 
studious IVincipal of Aberdeen, whom Pinkerton so 
imceremoniously dismissed as " one of the most egr^- 
ous impostors that ever appeared in any country," was 
husy with his Lives of the Bishops of Aberdeen, in whicli 
we have a pleasing proof of his own (juiet industry, 
and a noble tribute to the otherwise scarcely known 
virtues and excellencies of the godly remnant of the 
clergj', .Toannes Major, tlie far-seeing radical profeseoi' 
of theology, teacher of Hamilton and Knox, was im- 
consciouslj" leavening tlie youth of the country with 
new ideas about democracy, divine right of kings, and 
excommunication ,1 which could not but bear fruit in 
the hour of action when the hour and the man had 
come. He did for the Scottish religion what Socrates 
did for the Greek mythology, superseded it without 
open opposition. In this, like Socrates, he became a 
corrupter of the youth. "Although not a heretic 
himself," says Dr. lioss, " he was singularly successful 
in breeding heretics." ' 

But in commerce as in letters there were vast 
changes at work prophetic of some still vaster. The 
passion for maritime discover)-, which between 1492 
and 1497 led to the discovery of America by Colum- 
bus, the doubling of the Cape by De Gama, and the 

' Cf. Eoas'a Hiatnry aiirl Literature, 233, etc. 

"Id., p. 237. 


>iiacovery of Newfmuidland by Cabot, was I'eit in Scot- 
'■and, ami led to the building of the " Great Michael " 
ajiii the " Flower " and the " Yellow Carvel." Iii Sir 
-Amirew WLiod of Largo, and Sir Andrew Barton, the 
Sprit of maritime adventure found a chivalrous expres- 
which made Scotland a formidable rival to all 
others on the sea. Commerce now began to flouriah. 
Eeaporta rose into importance, and towns gi-adually 
itldned an independence which helped to check the 
^resumptuoua selfishness of the nobles. The spirit of 
clmocnioy waa being nourished by healthy remunera- 
teve labour. Intercourse with other nations Ijroadened 
men's sympathies. The old feudal relations were being 
nidely questionetl, and men began to look with be- 
"wilderraent and disgust upon the childish fables and 
the shamefaced imposture of the Church which they 
tad so long toleratetl. 

It was in the midst of these times that Dunbar 

Bppearerl to assist Lyudsay in exposing the spiritual 

<»Tmption wliieh overshadowed this material prosperity. 

having been clerk to some of the numerous embassies 

employed by James IV., he knew the world, and he 

Jidnot hate it. He was a keen-sighted miui, with a 

■wurm love for nature aud a penetrative insight into 

tumanity, but not moral enough to detest tlie pleasures 

fif the clergy which providence did not permit him to 

Wijoy. When we read the Golden Targe, or The Thistle 

sod the Kose, we feel at once that we are walking 

'ihwugh well-known Scottish scenes with a companion 

I *ho intensely loves the landscape which his genius has 

B pMntfid with an artist's colouring and a poet's insight. 

■ Hid he written no more than these two healthy alle- 

I goriea we might have called him the pure, the gentle- 



refined. But Dunbar had been a 
Dominican monk. He knew the inaincerity and in- 
delicacy of his order. He was versed in the spiritual 
anatomy of the priests, whom he dissected unniBrci- 
fiilly but without disgust. He was a courtier but alao 
a place-hunter, hungering hopelessly for a good fit 
benefice that would take the satiric sting out of his 
mouth and make him comfortable like others. Dis- 
appointment made him a satirist and kept him so; but 
his love of natiiral scenery, combined with his miaan- 
thropic indifference to the foibles and vices of humanitj, 
saved him from becoming a pessimist. He certainly 
deserved a benefice, if not for his own virtues, for tii* 
exposure of the vices of others. In him, as in Lyndaay, 
we get the history of the times presented to ua in Hesh 
and blood. We are introduced to veritable prieats and 
people by a humorist who, with dismal realism and 
fierce wit, smote the vices of both without merey or 
without indignation. 

But the priests are the special object of ridicule to 
this unintentional reformer of abuses. We need only 
turn for proof to one of his poems. The Dance of the 
Seven Deadly Sins is a weird, grotesque, and someffbit 
ghastly satire upon the priestly vices of the age. Tt* 
poet has a dream in which he sees " baith heaven and 
hell." In the latter region " Mahoun gart cry hub 
dance " of the wretches " that were never Bhrivfln> 
We see the " holy harlots " trooping in haughtily 
" with mony sundry guise," yet there is never a amil^ 
upon the face of the fiendish master of ceremonies as 
they prepare for the dauce. But immediately "tlifl 
priests come in with bare shaven necks " to bt 
xS the infernal scene, there is a wild clioWi 



of laughter and mockery that fills the nameless place 
with impious joy. The fact that a poet, who was 
himself a priest, could venture to offer to hia country- 
men a satire in which their religious instructors were 
brought into such irreverent juxtaposition with harlots 
and in such a place, argues that the priests were doubly- 
dyed in guilt, the Church blind to her vices, the people 
jffepared either to laugh or weep over the tragic farce 
of religion. 

Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, though not so 

great a poet, was a more popular and more humane 

satirist than Dunbar. He was a lover of righteousness 

and of men, and hated cant and vice with a fierce 

hatred that burst through all the canons of delicacy 

and testheticism in its irresistible expression. The 

blunt but kindly squire was the poet of the people. 

He created and expressed their opinions in popular 

langu^e and memorable form with a plainness which 

the people could enjoy, and for which we marvel that 

he escaped the bonfire or the axe. But Lyndsay was 

in earnest : so earnest that he did not shrink from 

exposing the obacenitiea of his times with a coarse 

ehemence which itself is only redeemed from the 

charge of obscenity by its healthy scorn. Dryden 

says he " lashed vice into reformation." We certainly 

not expect such work to be done by a kid-gloved 

It needed one who was not afraid of the 

<Uit he would encounter in hia ungenial task. Such 

Lyudsay, who did so much for the cause of reform, 

™ withal pure-aoided, righteous, "a man of unsuspected 

pwbity and veracity," says Buchanan, not to be judged 

tij any modem standard of taste but by that of his 

I inm am. 


No luau, till Knox and his coadjutors appeared on 
the scene, did more for the Reformation than this 
honest country squire, the Lyon King of Arms. " If 
we Jo not reckon him as one of the Protestant 
lieformers," says Laing, " it would be a greater mistake 
should we hesitato for one moment in asserting that 
his satirical writings had a powerful effect in preparing 
the minds of his countrymen, hy his exposure of the 
manifold corruption and eiTors of Popery, for the final 
triumph of the Eeformation, accomplished mainly by the 
dauntless energy of our great Eeformer, John Knox.'" 
Lyndsaj's picture of his times is sadder because more 
serious than that of Dunbar. The times of James V. 
seem to have waxed worse than those of his chivalrous 
father who fell at the fatal Flodden. Although the Act 
passed in 1525 against the Lutheran heresy boasted 
that the country had ever been " elene of all sic tilth 
and vice," there were " filth and vice " as of an Augean 
stable to be cleaned out of the Church so soon as 
a Hercules was found. Before the Hercules came 
Lyndsay created the needed popular disgust which 
made the cleansing imperative. Tliis he did by his 
satires, which were the popular literature of his times. 

We may examine briefly the chief of these historical 
pictures of Scotland in the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. In The Dreme which he addressed with such 
pathos to James V., whom, as a child, he had carried 
in his arms and amused with the lute and fairy-like 
dances and ghost-stories and improvised farces, he gives 
a vision of the infernal regions as hideous if not so 
extensive as that of Dante : — 

' Poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay, by Laing, vol. i. 
p. 60. Cf, the exquiait* chapter on Lyndsay in Hobh's Hiatory 
and Literature. 


" The men of kirk lay bounden into binga ; 
There saw we many careful cardinal, 
And archbishops, in their pontifical ; 
Proud and perversed prelat«8 out of niunber, 
Priors, abbots, and false flatteraud friers."'- 

The " lady of portraiture perfite," who acts as Beatrice 
to this Scottish Dante, reveals the cause of their 
" puiiition" generally as " eovetice, lust, and ambition." 
But more specific charges are brought against them. 
His gentle guide informs him that they are in " this 
painful poiaoned pit " 

" Ala they did not uistnict the ignorant, 
ProTocaiit tlieiii to penitence by prencking." 

But still worse sins than those of neglect were laid to 
their charge. They had abused and squandered the 
" Holy Kirkis patrimony " on " cards and dice, on 
harlotry," content to see 

" Their kirkis riven, their ladies cleanly cled." 
lu The ComplajTit, so tender and fearless, the King 
is exliorted to reform the spirituality, which is the only 
tiling in the land " without good order." Lyndsay had 
a deep concern in the education of the poor, and looked 
to the Church for that help wliich in later times it did 
not withhold. The terms of his appeal are as radical 
and even more evangelical than any used by the 
Lollards, whose work he was indirectly carrying on. 
There is a ring of Lutheran doctrine in the Hnes in 
which he urges the duty of the priests — 

" To preach with unfeigned intents, 
And truly use tlie Sacraments, 
After Christ's institutions. 
Leaving their vain traditions. 
Which do tlie Hilly sheep illude, 

' The ijuotationa are given in somewhat modernized spelling. 


For whoni Clrist Jeaua shed His blood : 
As euperatitioUH pilgnmages, 
Praying to graven iniagoB, 
Bxpreaa agajnat the Lord's command." 

But another phase of shame-faced priestcraft is ex- 
posed with a dehcate humour that casts a lurid light 
upon many a death-hed scene of the times, in The 
Testament and Complaj-nt of our Soverane Lordis Pa- 
pyngo. The Papyngo, the king's favourite parrot, is dying 
and holds a commujiing with her " holy executors," 
the Pye, the Haven, and the Gled — a canon regidar, a 
black monk, and a holy friar. They are deeply a 
about her " goodis natural," that she m 
her gear to them who have the power to bring her 
" quite to heaven." The poor parrot listens to the 
counsels and promises of the pious plunderers to this 

" And we shall sing abont your sepulture 

Sa^ct Mmigo's matins, and the meikle creed ; 
And ayne devoully aaj, I you assure, 
The auld Placebo backwards and the beid ; 
And we ahall wear, for you, the mourning weed. 
And, though your ap'rit with Pluto was professed. 
Devoutly snaD your Diregie be addressed." 

But the pawky parrot, though dying, is quite a match 
for them. Not without humour does she remind them, 
in the midst of their priestly offices for her eternal 
welfare, that she saw them one day 

" pyke 
Ane chicken from ane hen under ane dyke," 

but she receives the unabashed reply, which confirms 
her suspicion that their conscience " be nocht gude " : — 



Tie ffholii picture is painted from life under the thin 
guise of allegory. One almost sees the figures in flesh 
and Mood becking and whispering around the bedside 
of tJieir wealthy victim. At last the PapjTigo tells 
into their ears the history of the decliiie and fall of the 
prieathood, and dies, ojid the clerical harpies pounce 
upon her and part her body among them while the 
poor [arrot is still hot. 

But if The Papyngo introduces us to the death-bed, 
Tile Monarcliy takes us to church, where 

" XJnleamed people on the holy clay 

SolemjieiDy ihey hear the Evaugel simg, 

Not knowing what the priest doth m\g or say, 

But as a bell when that they hear it rung." 

'file Bight of the simple folks listening to the Gospel 
in a foreign language made Lyndsay a brave advocate 
for the use of his mother-tongue in church. He loved 
tia own language and knew its power. People knew 
Biuffi of Lyndsay than of any of the Apostles. He 
wmders why the " heavenly wark " should be unknown 
to common men, and he argues well that it had been a 
's&vourleas jest" had God given the law to the 
Jews in Greek or Latin ; and adds with homely 
pathos — 

" He gave the law on tables hard of stone 
In their own vulgar tongue, Hebrew, 
That aU the baims of Israel, every one, 
Might know the law and ho the same pursue." 

It is, however, in the Pleasant Satyre of the Thrie 
"^lia that the vices of nobles, clergy, and commons 
ore most severely impugned. It was acted for the 

' Vide Laiug's Memoir of Lyudsay. 


first tiine in Linlithgow^ in 1539-40 before the Kiy»S 
Queen, ladies of the Court, and nobility, between nLut 
in the morning and six in the evening. It is h^re 
that the state of the Cliurch is revealed at its woirs' 
It is, indeed, a sickly revelation, almost unbelievable 
The Church has scarcely a rag of virtue left to c 
its nakedness. We cannot quote. Nuns, monks, friora, 
priors, and prelates monopolize the cardinal vices and 
relate their shameless practices mth a raatter-o 
indifference that shocks every finer feeling and makes 
us stand aghast at the coi-ruption. It seems as if b 
thousand voices became, at the bidding of Lyndsay, 
clamant for reformation. 

But let us leave his works and look at the roan. 
He is not a Eeformer in the common acceptation of 
the term ; but we may question if John Knox's work 
would have been so successful if Sii' David Lyndsay 
had not lived before him. He did much by his 
negative work of demohtion to make Knox's work 
of construction possible. The people knew from Lynd- 
say the disease and were ready to accept the remedy 
from Knox. He did not live to see the full day ( 
the Eeformation. He saw only the first glimmering! 
of the dawn. His wtirk was that of the iconoclast 
He was a redresser of wrongs, Spite of all hia houest 
coarseness, Scotland shall never liquidate her debt i 
the fearless righteous Sir David Lyndsay, trom whoa* 
godly heart shot 

" The flaali of tliat aatirio rage, 
WLicii, bursting on the early stage, 
Branded the vices of tlie &a6 

And broke tlie keys ofBonie.'' i 

' Scott's Marmiou, 


But our work is done. We have filled in roughly 
the historical background of the picture of the Scottish 
lleformation. We leave the unfinished cdnvas for 
others to complete it by painting in the three great 
figures of the foreground — Hamilton, Wishart, and 

Satnck Hamilton Hiib (SeotQe SStiehntt. 

What Lollarilism attempted in the fifteenth century 
John Knox achievetl in the latter part of the sixteenth. 
Between the attempt and the achievement, Unking them 
together as parta of one great movement, stand Patrick 
Hamilton and George Wishart There were others, 
indeed not a few, who during the iuterveniog period 
laboured strenuously and suffered nobly for the truth, 
but these, so far as history is concerned, must take a 
subordinate place. Tlie praminent parts in that act of 
the drama were played by Hamilton and Wiahart. On 
them the Iiistorian necessarily fixes hia thoughts, for 
round them the figures and incidents of the time 
naturally group themselves. Like the loftiest peaks of 
a moimtain range, they arrest the eye and cast thfl 
shadow of their commanding altitude on the lower 
heights. In them the Eeformation succession waa 
continued ; through them the Reformation force ■ 
moved onward, deepening and e.-^panding aa it 
moved ; by them the Iteformation impulse, weai 
and wavering at first, but becoming ever stronger 
and more intense, was transmitted to that shrewi 
vigorous, brave man who, by the strength of God, 
was to complete the overiihrow of the kingdom ot 



error, and to secure the establishment of the kingdom 
of truth in our country. 

Unfortunately, we know little of the history of either 
Hamilton or Wishart. Much we shoulil have heen 
glad to know tiaa been lost, apparently beyond recovery; 
■while not a little has come down to us in a foi-m so 
vague and fragmentary as to leave room for opinions 
the moat diverse regarding its value and bearing. This 
18 disappointing and oftentimes perplexing. We can 
only endeavour by careful investigation to arrive at 
the actual facts and to gain a just estimate of their 

Patrick Hamilton was bom about the year 1504, 
More definitely than this we cannot fix the date. For 
tlua approximation to it we axe indebted to Francis 
lambert, who tells us that in 152V, when attending 
tile University of Marburg, his young friend was twenty- 
three years of age. The place of his birth is as uncertain 
aa the date. In the records of the University of Paris 
lie is designated " Glasguensis," which seems to imply 
ttat he was born within the diocese of Glasgow ; and 
as Stonehouse, near Hamilton, was the only property 
Iwlonging to his father in that diocese, it has heen 
upon by some writers as the scene of the event. 
But in the album of the University of Marburg he 
fMered himself " Litgoviensis," and this pomts to the 
puiah of Linlithgow as his native district, and gives 
mpport to the view that at Kincavel, which was near 
Kie town of Linlithgow, and was also owned by his 
™ier, the future martyr first saw the light. With 
nie mformation which we at present possess it is 
Unpoesible to decide between those two places. 
Happily we are in no doubt as to his descent ; it was 


noble, even royal His father was tiir Patrick Hamil- 
ton of Stonehoiiae and Kincavel, who was the eldest of 
three illegitimate sons home by MiasWitherspoon of Brig- 
house, to James, first l-ord Hamilton, before he married 
Princess Mary, sister of James III. and Countess of 
Arran, by whom he had one son, James, afterwards 
second Lord Hamilton and first Earl of Arran. His 
mother was Catherine Stewart, daughter of Alexander 
Duke of Albany, second son of James IL, and Catherine 
Sinclair, daughter of William Earl of Orkney. Though 
of high parentage, Catherine was, like her husband, 
illegitimate ; this was the result of a divorce obtained 
by Alexander on the grounil of propinf[uity, though 
only of the fourth degree. Her maternal grandmother 
was Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of Archibald, 
fourth Earl of Angus, and Mai^ret Stewart, eldest 
daughter of Eobert III., and therefore aunt of the 
famous Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld. Tims in 
the veins of the first Scottish martjT there fiowed royal 
blood, and round him there fell a faint reflection of the 
hght that " beats upon the throne "; he was the great- 
great-grandson of Eobert III., the great-grandaon of 
James II., and by his grandfather's marriage he was 
virtually related to James IV., who was King at the 
time of hia birth. 

Kegarding his early education no information has 
come down to us, but that it would be carefidly 
attended to admits of no doubt. From his infancy, 
indeed, he would breathe a cidtured atmosphere. 
Among his relatives, both paternal and maternal, there 
were many who were remarkable for their refinement 
and courtesy, for their polish and accomplislunents, for 
their love and pursuit of learning. Wliether he was 



sent lo one of tlie gi-ainuinr sclioola that witc thou 
making their appearance in Scotliuid or eomuiitteil to 
tlie care of his friends, we cannot say, hut tliat every- 
thing was done that could be done to secure for hiui 
the best possible instruction we may he sure : uay, 
that this was the case we have proof iu the Hhdity and 
attainments by which he was distinguished in after 

The school is not, however, the only educating 
influence under wliich a youth comes. He has otlier 
teachers than those that guide liim in his studies, Tlie 
events of the time, his social and political surroundings, 
these do their part, often a very important part, in 
moulding his character and fitting hiin for the work 
that lies before him ; and the general character of the 
events witnessed by Hamilton and of the suiToundings 
amidst which he grew up we can easily discover. 
The times were troublous ; the political sky was often 
overcast; violent storms frequeutly swept across the 
country, and to the Hamilton family could not 
remain indifferent: in the issue they had not seldom 
the deepest interest. In 1513, when Patrick was u 
l)oy of ten years of age, the battle of Hodden, with its 
crtishing defeat, filled the land with woe and lamentation ; 
iu that fell disast«r many of the wisest and bravest and 
liest of Scotland's sons were Biiutt^n and slaiu by the 
side of their Kin". The niiiinriiy tliat followed j^ve 
ample opportunity for intrigu« and treachery tin 
one hand, and fr^r hiiii'iur and patriutixm ou the 
other. The French and EuKlisb pattiot in Sc>tti»h 
politics were then takiu^ "Iwpe. Tlift hoiwfw <rf 
Hamilton and of Ifouglaii, too, were settUnK dowu into 
matual jealffiMy and liate, Htirrinjf tiim« ilM-y were; 



aud to all that was being said and done the young 
Patrick must have been fully alive ; in every incident 
he must have taken a keen int-erest. It was 
indeed impossible for him to act otherwise. The 
fortunes, the very existence of the family, often 
depended on the residt of atru^e and negotiation. 
Sir Patrick was more than once in imminent 
danger, and did eventually lose his life in the well- 
known encounter in the High Street of Edinbuigh 
with Angus and his followers, called " Cleanse the 
Causeway." Thus, inheriting his father's brave and 
chivalrous spirit, he was reared in circumstances the 
most congenial for its development, and, by the experi- 
ences of his boyhood and youth he was prepared for 
exhibiting a bravery and a elilvalry that wovdd win for 
hiTTi fame and glory greater far than had been won 
by his father in the tournament and in tlie battle- 

Of the domestic circle and the spirit that reigned 
there we are ignorant. Concerning his mother only one 
item of information has reached us, hut it is most valu- 
able, supplying, as it does, strong and touching testi- 
mony to the purity of her character and the beneficial 
influence exercised by her on her children. When 
bound to the stake, and face to face with death, her 
son spoke of her with tenderness and atlection, recalling, 
doubtless, not only the care with which she had nursed 
and tended him in early years, but also, aud most of 
(dl, the high principles she had incidcated, the spiritual 
truths with which she had familiarized and impressed 
his young mind, and the noble, holy life she had led, 
confirming and illustrating by her example tlie 
she taught. 



He was early directed by hia parents to the Church 
as the sphere within which he muat seek place and 
promotion. At that time there were many rich and 
enviable ecclesiastical appointments, and these were 
eagerly soi^ht after and easily gained by the sons of 
the nobility. Such appointments, while in themselves 
honourable and lucrative, did not demand the exclusive 
attention and effort of those who held them ; they in no 
way interfered with activity, either in politics or in war. 
The ecclesiastic might take hia fidl share — often took 
more than his share — in the government of the 
country ; he also might, and often did, exchange the 
mitre and the crosier for the helmet and the aword, and 
not a few Chm-oli dignitaries signaHzed theniaelvea more 
by their martial akill and valour than by their evan- 
gelical fervour and activity, by their exploits in the 
field of battle tlian by their proclamation of the Goapel 
of Peace. At the very time when young Hamilton's 
mind was directed to it, the Church was betraying 
marked signs of weakness and corruption. Worldliness 
waa blighting ita spirituality, vice was stifling ita morality, 
hypocriay waa diseretiiting the truth, of which it pro- 
claimed itself the repository and the teacher. The 
most shamefid devices were resorted to to gain rich 
benefices, and the revenues thus gained were diverted 
to the moat shameful oaea. Bishops stooped to any 
artifice in order to secure an archbiahopric. The c[uali- 
ficationa demanded or ap(>ealed to were not those of the 
New Testament — they were power to brilie a superior, 
skill to outwit or force to crush an opponent. With 
carnal weapons men fought for spiritual positions, and, 
having secured tln-'Ui, they employed tliem for carnal 


Of the precise state of aflairs Patriek tiuniiot liuve 
l)eeu ignorant. The disgraceful scramble and strugH'*' 
for the Archbishopric of St. Andrews, rendered vacant 
by the death nf jUexander Stewart at Floddeu, he must 
have watched closely. Like most sncli transactions, it 
was aa much political as ecclesiastical in its Ijearings. 
On the one side or the other the nobles ranged them- 
selves, accortUujt as the leanings of the eautUdate were 
towards them or their opponents in the State. One of 
the candidates was (Javin Douglas, his mother's cousin; 
but with their relative the members of the Kincavel 
household could .show little sympathy, for ho belonged 
to the Angus party, with which, at this time, the Airau 
party, to which the Haniiltons belonged, were at vari- 
ance. Of the feelings with which the future maityr 
watched the contest we liave no reconi, but, if the boy 
was father to the man, lie must have been deeply 
wounded and greatly scandahzed. In harmony, though 
it unhappily was, with the ideas of the f^e, the glaring 
inconsistency it presented must have struck — and struck 
forcibly and painfully — the youth who in a few years 
was to display an acute intellect touched by a pure 
morality and a high spirituality. 

Shortly after the settlement of this dispute he him- 
self received an appointment in connection with the 
Church : he was named titular Abbot of Feme, in Eoss- 
sliire. This appointment was received in 1517 — pro- 
bably the summer of 1517, as his predecessor died on 
l7th Jime of that year. It appears aa if tliis office 
was sought in order that the emoluments attached to it 
might enable him to prosecute his study in a manner 
that would qualify him for the highest offices and 
honours in the ecclesiastical sphera Nor did liis duties 


as aijbot inwrfere with his study; it was not needful 
tliat he should at once attend at the ahljey, and we do 
not know that he ever even saw the religions house 
wheaice he took his title and gainei^l his income. Indeed 
there is good ground for believing that at this period 
the abbey was in a dilapidated state, so that the ap- 
pointment was in the fullest sense a sinecure. 

In this same year he went to Pai-is, attracted by the 
fame of its university. la all probability he attached 
himself to the Scots' College, which had been founded 
there in the time of Robert the Bruce for the benefit of 
those going from this country to France to complete 
their education. But whatever college he entered, the 
transition from Scotland to Paris would be, in an intel- 
lectual respect, great and important. The imiversity 
of the French capital was then the most illustrious 
school of philosophy and theology in Europe. More 
valuable, however, than the lectures delivered by its 
profeasoi-s was the spirit of inquiry and investigation 
that was abroad in this centre of learning and cidtui'e. 
At once the student, who took tip his residence there, 
experienced the quickening influence of the new life 
that was pulsing in every member of the body intellec- 
tual of the civilized world. The dreary night of Schol- 
asticism had b^un to yield slowly and reluctantly to 
the dawn of free and vigorous thought that was heralded 
by the Renaissance, and on Paris the first beams of the 
coming day had fallen with a brigiitness that gladdened 
some, while it startled and terrified others. The voice 
of Erasmus had been heaiil, and bad awakened a sympa- 
thetic response. The result of his appeal was distinctly 
seen in a deepening dissatisfaction with the barren 
subtleties of the old systems, and a deepening desire for 


the liviug and life-giving truits of past civilization. 
Peter the Lombard and Thomas Aquinas were being 
forsaken for Plato and Aristotle. The " Sentences " 
ceased to prove attractive when the " Dialogues " were 
exposed to view and offered to alL 

But another voice besides that of Erasmus had been 
heard in Paris ; another appeal, more vigorous and 
thrilling even than that of the gentle, timid humanist 
had been addressed to the thoughtful and the devout in 
that city as elsewhere. That same year in which 
Hamilton went abroad, Luther nailed his theses to the 
door of the church at Wittenberg, and the strokes of 
his hammer were echoed in the French capitaL Much 
consternation, too, did those echoes cause; much dis- 
putation did they occasion. For a whole year the 
Sorbonne was occupied considering the writings of the 
Saxon monk ; and in their work the liveliest interest 
was manifested. Luther's reply, hurled at the learned 
doctors of this famous school, quickened this interest, 
and impelled those in whom it had been excited to 
investigation — investigation for which they had been 
prepared by Erasmus, but of which Erasmus was not 
always ready to approve. Under siich influences as 
these the young Scotchman came — he could not escape 
them, nor did he desire to do so. His open, candid 
mind, thirsting for truth, received communications 
from every quarter, and accepted whatever was valu- 
able, by whomsoever offered. The ordinary course of 
study pursued by him was such as he would have 
followed had he gone to Glasgow or St. Andrews, but 
this was a less fruitful element in his education at the 
French capital than his contact with the spirit of the 
age. Indeed, the prescribed curriculum yielded biTn 


negative rather than positive gain. It revealed to him 
the poverty of the ayatems and the teaching that were 
offered in the name of philosophy and theology, and 
coiiATneed him that, if satisfaction were to he enjoyed, 
he must turn to the new treasiires that were heing dis- 
covered and unsealed. 

In 1520 he took his degree. On 30th April of 
that year his father was kiUed, but this event did not 
hasten his return home. After his graduation be went 
to Louvain. There Erasmus was living, and there the 
Trilingual College had heen founded. Hia object in 
going thither was doubtless to see and hear Erasmus, 
and to reap the fruit of the new learning as that was 
presented in the college. While there, therefore, his 
Erasmian tendencies must have been confirmed ; his 
thirst for truth would be intensified, and his deter- 
mination to reach the fountain at which alone it could 
be quenched would he strengthened. 

We next meet with him at St. Andrews. When he 
returned home we cannot tell; we only know that 
on the 9th June, 1523, he was incorporated in the 
University of that ancient city. This act made him a 
member without admitting him to any of the Faculties ; 
but on 3rd October, 1524, he gained admission to the 
Faculty of Arts. We need not be surprised that he 
should have resolved to settle for a time in St. 
Andrews. For a youth of his tastes and attainmenta 
no spot in the country could present stronger attrac- 
tions. It was the ecclesiastical capital of the kingdom, 
the seat of the oldest university, and the centre of learn- 
ing. Connected with its cathedral, its colleges, and it« 
monasteries, there were many men of elevat«d tastes 
and wide cultora There more than anywhere else in 


his native land was the graduate of Paris, " iwjtma 
summo et erudUione si-ngulari" likely to find congenial 
society and to experience quickening impulses. 

With wliich of its three colleges he connected him- 
self we have no certain knowledge. His leanings, 
however, were most in accord with the spirit that 
animated the heads of St. Ifionard'a. Not that in r 
the new systems had been adopted and the new learning 
gladly received. Though founded in 1512, only twelv( 
years before Hamilton's admission, it had in ii 
ments more affinity with the old than with the i 
methotls and pursuits. But in St. Andrews, aa 
Paris, there was a movement outside the recognizw 
course which was stirred and sustaineil by the intd- 
lectual revival that was now affecting even the " Ultimf) 
Tliule " ; and that movement found ampler 
amongst the members of this institution than amoi: 
the members of the Pedagogy or of St. Stdvi- 
tor's. To it, then, rather than to either of 
other two he would go. And tliis conclusion, drawn 
from a general view of tlie circumstances, is confirmed 
by some facts that are known to us. While til St 
Andrews he composed a mass, arranged in parts for 
nine voices, which was sung in the cathedral under Us 
leadership. This is a proof of his refinement i 
aceompKshment ; it also indicates the liigh respeot i 
which he was held by those in authority. But n 
important of aR in the present reference, it pointBl 
connection with St. Leonard's, for the Canona of V 
Priory with which St. Leonard's was associated "vrt 
the Canona of the Cathedral, and singing was C 
of the regular prescribed exercises in that coll£( 
for those who displayed an aptitude for music. 




iliose connected wit]i the I'riory, indeed, seenia to have 
devolved the care of the choral part of the service in 
the cathedral ; only, therefore, in all prohiibility, to a 
iber of the Priory College would pemUssion have 
been granted to euperintend the execution of his own 
imposition. Amongst those, too, who were Canons of 
the Priory and members of St. Leonard's, Hamilton 
'fcmid in after years Ids warmest friends, and more 
than one became conspicuous by tlieir profession of and 
adherence amidst difficulties to Eeformation principles. 

Hamilton doubtless sought admission to this univer- 
aly in order that he might study theology, As an 
4Sjdrant to ecclesiastical honours this subject would 
ilemand attention, and his residence at Paris, tend- 
JBgi as it evidently did, to give him a high idea of the 
Wffli of a priest, would ui^e him to seek the best 
.guidance in his study that was available. At St. 
Andrews there was at this period one who had already 
■icqBired fame as a teacher in this department — viz., 
John Major, who was a Doctor of the Sorbonne. He 
•as lecturing in Paris during the first year at least of 
Bnoilton's stay there, so that in all likelihood the two 
■lid met in France. It is interesting, also, to note 
lIlM both were incorporated in the University of St. 
Andrews on the same day ; and it ia at least permis- 
^ to suppose that the incorporation of the student 
*ia due 80 far to the incorporation of the professor. 
■After leaving the French capital. Major had gone to 
Hasgow, and thither his name liad ilrawn students from 
*11 q^uarters. Among those who sat at his feet in the 
feat was John Knox ; and now in the East Patrick 
Hamilton was to listen to his prelections. Soon both 
ffete to outstrip their leader in the search for truth — 



the one to die in it3 defence, and the other to suffer 
and at length to conquer in its name. 

John Frith, in his preface to " Patrick's Places," 
tells us that Hamilton hecame a priest when at St 
Andrews; his statement is, "To testifie the tnitfi, 
he sought all meanes and tooke upon hira prieadiode 
(even as Paule circumcised Timothy to wyime the 
weake Jews) that he might be admitted to preache tho 
pure Word of God." Could this statement be acceptfid 
by us as true, it would be most valuable and instrnE- 
tive ; it would indicate the point which the future 
martyr had reached, and would illustrate the gradual 
nature of his advance to lleformation ground. Bat 
there are several weighty objections to its accept- 
ance. In the first place, at the time refened to 
Hamilton was too young to be admitted in ordinuy 
course to the priesthood, and there was no reason wl 
in Ms case, the ecclesiastics should take advantage of 
the pennission granted them to set aside the rule^ 
when by so doing the interests of the Church would 1* 
served ; there was indeed very good reason why they 
should refuse so to act, considering the foreign 
pernicious influences under which the applicant had 
come. In the second place, there is no reference what- 
ever to his ordiaation in the doeuroenta relating t* 
his trial He is called magister, but not presbyitT, m 
the summons issiied and in the sentence pronomicedl 
and he was not, as were the law and practice of th*' 
Church, divested of his sacerdotal authority and dignity 
before he was handed over to the secular power to b8 
punished. Laxity and haste might, as has been urgedt 
account for the latter omission, but not for the fonner. 
In the third place, Alexander Alesius, to whom V 


are indebted for nearly all the trustworthy informa- 
tion we possess regarding him at this period, does not 
mention liis taking upon himself the priesthood. This 
silence is all the more significant since he is careful to 
tell ns that " such was his hatred to monkish hypocrisy 
that he never assumed the monkish habit." Reference 
to his attitude toward the abbacy would naturally, we 
may even say certainly, have led to a reference to his 
attitude toward the priesthood, had he taken orders. 
And of the step Alesius could not possibly have been 
ignorant, as he was in St. Andrews throiighout 
Hamilton's residence at St. Leonard's, and was evidently 
on terms of the closest intimacy with him. Jor these 
among other reasons the assertion made by Frith must 
be looked upon as at least doubtful — in all probabdity a 
mistaken inference on the writer's part from the Kefor- 
mer's general position. Could we be certain that Frith, 
as is alleged, met Hanulton at Marburg and enjoyed bis 
fellowship for some months, his testimony would gain 
in value, but evidence on this point is wanting; authori- 
ties, indeed, seem to point in the opposite direction 

Whether ordained or not, he did not conceal his 
views on religious matters. Before the beginning of 
1527 he had made his theological position quite clear 
to those with whom he came into contact. That it 
was a position that exposed bitn to danger he knew 
full well. In 1525 an Act was passed by Parliament 
condemning Lutheranisra, and forbidding strangers to 
" bring with them any books or works of Luther or his 
disciples," or " to rehearse his opinions unless it be to 
the confusion thereof." This Act was due to the exer- 
tions of the bishops, due especially to David Beaton, 
who had lately come from France to Arbroath, and 


who from the date of his arrival till hia death controlled 
in a large measure the action of the Church. But 
despite the condemnation and the warning, which it 
published, the new opinions and the heretical books 
found their way into the country, and with them came, 
in large quantities, Tyndale's New Testament. And 
the way was prepared for these by the state of the 
Church. Those who filled its offices and wore its titles 
did not preserve its purity or commend its truths; 
they were often ignorant of the Scriptiu-es, stained by 
profligacy, more deeply concerned with politics than 
with religion. So rapidly did the proscribed volumes 
and pernicious doctrines spread that in 1527 it was 
found needful to extend the provisions of the Act of 
1525 so as to embrace the King's liegea ; they were to 
be punished in the same way as strangers, should they 
be proved to be " assiaters to such opinions," and only 
" clerks in schools" were granted permission to dispute. 
Before this, however, the Archbishop had dealt with 
Hamilton. While in residence at St. Leonard's he did not 
attempt to hide his liking for the truths proclaimed by 
Luther: in discussion and in conversation lie declared 
his approval of them with all the energy and fervour 
of one who had experienced their power. This was 
more than the Church dignitaries could permit; what- 
ever else they did or faileil to do, they must show 
themselves zealous for the truth as that had been 
defined by the Fathers and the Councils. J'or some 
time, indeed, Hamilton was left free to set forth hia 
opinions and to argue in their defence. This liberty 
of speech was due to the civil complications in wliich 
Beaton was involved. These diverted his attention 
from the events that were taking place in his diocese ; 

lliey even brought him into diagi'aee aud exposed 
hiiu to danger, so that he deemed it needful to seek 
safety in disguise. In the giirb of a shepherd he 
tended sheep on the hills of Pife until his money and 
tbe efforts of his friends secured his return to power. 
During that period no action could be taken against 
heresy or heretic ; and thus, notwithstanding the coii- 
Jeumation and the penalty proclaimed by authority of 
Pathament, the heresy spread and the heretic laboured. 
But the restoration of the Archbishop to place and 
fiUiTjur was the signal for vigorous effort. During Lent, 
1527, that effort waa directed against Hamilton. 
Beaton, having made inquiry, found him " iufanied 
with the heresy of Luther," and summoned him to 
appear and answer the charges that were to be brought 
against him. Hearing of the danger that threatened 
liim, Pati'ick left St. Andrews and betook himself to 
(lennany. He was not yet fully c[ualified for the 
Diartyr's work and the martyr's crown. He must have 
1 firmer grasp, a clearer view, a richer experience of 
Divine truth than he yet had before he could suffer for 
ila sake. And he went where he was likely to gain 
Iteae — to the land of Luther, 

Apparently his destination was Wittenberg. Thither 
lie waa attracted by the fame of the great Eeformer 
Md of those who had gathered round him in the uni- 
l^ty ; from their lips he was desu-ous of hearing the 
words of Life. But his desire was not to be gratified. 
At that time the plague was raging violently in the 
tflWn, and he either, on hearing this, turned aside before 
reaching it, or else, because of the danger, left it earlier 
\haa he had intended. Certainly he did not enrol 
Mmself aa a student. 


At Marljiirg he settled. The University there haii 
just been founded by the Landgrave of Hesse, 
the distinguished teachers who had joinecl it wae 
Francis Lambert, the famous theologian. For the young 
Scotchman he would have special attraction, and tc 
him he would afford much help. Listening to hii 
lectures, Hamilton's convictions would be deepened anc 
hia zeal would be c^uictened. The whole surroundings 
indeed, woidd contribute to this result; the air wai 
charged with Reformation principles and Reformatioi 
fervour, Tfiat be reaped much benefit, and made con' 
siderable progress, we have conclusive proof in the onlj 
work from his pen that has come down to us. It 
written during Ids stay in Marburg, and contains 
put forth Emd defended by him at the university. Il 
was published at the request of I^mhert, and thui 
testifies to the high esteem in which the student 
held by the professor. 

At tbis university he remained only o 
That short period sufficed so to expand his views 
Divine truth, and to strengthen his devotion to hil 
" good and gentle Lord," that he felt himself prepare! 
to meet the difficulties and dangers from which he ha£ 
iled. He was persuaded that it was his duty to d( 
what lay within his power to enlighten his countrymen 
and he resolved, at whatever cost, to discharge thai 
duty. Leaving the two companions wlio had travelled 
with him to Marburg, he returned to Scotland. Oi^ 
his arrival he went to Kincavel, now the property ani 
residence of liis brother, James, Sherifl' of Linlithgow 
There he remained for some time. At once he 
to preach " alse weal in pubbct as in seereat," and hi 
continued to do so until prevented by the action of tht 


.^rchbjaliop. His preaching was much appreciated and 
highly beneficial uot only to the members of his 
brother's household, but also to the inhabitants of the 
adjoining districts. He had " a great following," and 
those who listened to his fervent preseatatiou of evan- 
gelical truth, experienced quickening, enhghtenment 
and comfort. 

Shortly after his return he married. Who the lady 
Was who became his bride we do not know : indeed 
the fact of hia marriage was only lately discovered. It 
■Was known that he had left a daughter, but it was 
Supposed that she was illegitimate, and the supposition 
Cast a shadow on his otherwise pure and noble char- 
acter. That the supposition was incorrect we learn 
from Alesiua, who states distinctly that Hamilton 
"shortly before his death married a young lady of 
>3Cible rank." 

Not long did the pair enjoy the happiness and the 

■Cmuforta of married lil'e ; not long was Hamilton per- 

taitted to proclaim the Gospel of Jesua Christ. His 

*etum and hia activity in disseminating heresy were 

<3iily reported to Beaton. Of these the Archbishop 

Urast take account ; even if ho were willing to treat 

them lightly, there were those by his side, notably his 

nephew David, who were determined to proceed to the 

«xtreme8t measures in order to stamp out the evil 

-And by his conduct the Reformer had thrown down a 

challenge which the ecclesiastics must take up if they 

"wished to retain their hold on the people. When 

Bummoned to appear before the Court of the Primate 

and meet grave accusations of doctrinal error, he had 

iflade his escape, and, after a few months' absence in that 

eoimtry the very atmosphere of which was tainted with 





heresy, he hail come hack to set himself even more 
openly and more distinctly than before in opposition to 
the aiithorities. In his utterances he did not after his 
return confine himself to the statement of evangehciQ 
principles; he did more than preach salvation by faith ; 
he attacked the institutions, denied the authority, and 
defied the power of the Church. Once more, then, he 
is cited to appear at St. Andrews. The terms of the 
citation are important, shedding hght, as they do, on 
the position taken up by the Reformer. He is charged 
with teaching that neither the laws, the canons, the 
ordinances and decrees of the Fathers, nor human in- 
stitutions are to be obeyed ; that the keys and censures 
of the Church are to he despised ; that no reliauce is 
to be placed on the Sacraments of the same ; that 
churches are not to be attended ; that images are not 
to be worshipped ; that prayei's are not to be offered 
for the souls of the dead ; that tithes are not to be 
paid to God and the Church ; that good works do not 
of merit secure salvation, and that evil deeds do not of 
desert entail punishment ; that our ancestors, trusting 
in the Church of God and in the Sacraments of the 
same, died in a corrupt and false faitli and were buried 
in heU.^ 

It was easy for Beaton to issue his summons ; it 
was not BO easy for him to carry it into effect ; he 
must act with the utmost caution. The heretic had 
many powerful relatives who were ready to defend him. 
The Hamiltona and the Douglases, too, were then on 

' Citatio Patricii Hamilton e Fornmlari Vetere Andreano. This 
document was rei^ntlj discovered in the library of St. Andrews 
University by Prof. Mitchell, to whom I am indebted for a 
copy. On its issue I base my arrangement of the events con- 
nected with his ELpprehenaion. 


friendly terms, so that if the Archbishop actei.1 hastilj- 
nnd carelessly he might array against himself their com- 
bmed opposition. Most important of all, the yoimg 
King was interested in the young preacher, and might 
exercise his authority on his hehiili". Tlie two must 
have met frequently. In the palace o£ Linlithgow, 
"the Versailles of the period," James often hved, and 
Bt Kincavel, ia its vicinity, Hamilton resided mth his 
Imther when not attending the university ; the two 
families were also closely connected. It is therefore ini- 
poasible to suppose that they were not acquainted with 
each other, even though no definite statement to this 
effect remains. In any case James might be ap- 
pwached either by tlie Eeformer or hy his friends ; 
iMd he was. When the citation was issued, an appeal 
was made to him. And anxious to shelter one for 
^bom he had a high regard, but unwilhng to offend 
the clergy by taking a decided stand, he recommended 
Itoick to endeavour to eome to terma with the Arch- 
tiahop, and with the liew of helping on this result 
ho suggested a conference. To tliis suggestion Beaton 
'■fisdily agreed ; in all probability it was his own. At 
3By rate, since the conference was to be held at St. 
■Andrews, it would further his plan, for it would 
'•ring his victim within his power, so that should he 
f^fuse to recant he could be easily seized ; it would 
^tso afford him and those associated with him longer 
^Une to negotiate with Angus, and in this way to 
^6cure not only his favour, but also that of the King, 
*ho was practically under his control. Knox saya 
*Qat the Archbishop " so travailled with Maister 
"fttrick that he gat him to Sanctandrosse." And this 
*ould be true if, as is likely, he strove to give to the 


conference a plausible look, and to hold out hope 
that by means of it a reconciliation might be effected. 
In harmony with this view was the conduct of the 
Primate. For the suspected preacher he provided 
lodgings ; after his arrival lie met with him more than 
once, discussed the need for certain changes, and even 
professed agreement with many of the points urged by 
him. Indeed, his whole bearing toward him had at 
first the appearance at least of friendship. He allowed 
him to enjoy perfect freedom ; he permitted him to 
receive at his lodgings all who visited him, and to 
move about amongst his former acquaintances without 
let or hindrance. 

But Hamilton was not deceived by the conduct of 
Beaton. He yielded to the King's wish, and expressed 
himself willing to confer with the Primate. But he 
entertained not the faintest hope of either securing his 
own release, or bringing about reform. He saw pre- 
cisely how matters stood in the civil sphere. The 
recommendation of James, to seek peace with the 
Archbishop, taught him that neither he nor Angus 
could or would shield him from harm. This they 
could only do at the risk of breaking with the clergy, 
and that was a step neither waa prepared to take. 
Each was anxious to retain the favour of the Church, 
and so to ensure its aid when that might prove 
helpful ; hence the King's reluctance to interfere, and 
Angus's readiness to acquiesce. Fully aware of the 
state of the case, Hamilton left Kincavel convinced 
that he was going to his doom. While stiR at liberty 
in St Andrews he was urged both by his friends and 
opponents to flee ; he was even assured on the best 
authority that the Archbishop would be pleased if he 

accepted the advice offered. But he steadily refused 
Code so; he as steadily sought to dissuade his friends 
from having recourse to physical force on hia behalf. 
He had fled before, but he would not do so again; he 
would remain at his post, and, if need be, by Ms death 
prove the sincerity of iiis profession and the power 
of Divine truth to strengthen foi' duty and sustain 
tmder trial 

For a month he was allowed to enjoy perfect freedom. 
^Hat inter\-al he employed in presenting Eeformation 
doctrines to all whom he met. The conviction that 
had taken possession of him that his time was short 
influenced his teaching. It not only rendered him 
more ardent in his endeavours to impress his hearers, 
tut it led him to confine himself more particularly to 
the exhibition of saving truth. While at Kincavel he 
lid dealt with the externals of the Catholic system, as 
"Well aa with the great essential doctrines of Christianity; 
at St Andrews he followed a different course ; he was 
aarious to teach men and bring them within the benign 
and vivifying influence of the Gospel, feeling assured 
that if he succeeded in thus affecting them he would 
prepare eflicient instruments for accomplishing the work 
*hich he had been compelled to abandon. And bis 
fifforta were not altogether fruitless ; some who came to 
converse with him in the hope that they might bring 
tiffl back to the orthodox faith were, by his cogent 
'fiasoning, themselves drawn away and led to accept 
the new system. This was strikingly the case 
^th Alexander Alane, afterwards called Aleaius, 
*ho conceived a strong affection for Hamilton, an 
^flection that led him, a few years after his death, to 
^^body in his Commentary on the 37th Psalm a brief 


iiarmtive of the martyr, which contains much informa-! 
tion not to he found in any other volume. And th< 
depth of his nfiection for tlie Keformer was an indica. 
tion of the depth of the impression made on his hearl 
hy the Reformer's utterances ; though he scaped death 
he passed through much suffering because of hia attache 
ment to the Lutheran doctrines taught him hy HamHton 
jind lie only preserved his life by flight. 

Not a few, however, sought an audience with hin 
from another and entirely different motive. They can» 
as emissaries from the " chief priests " to catch him ii 
his words, or rather, to extract from him hia opinions 
and report them to those that sent them, in order tha 
material for weighty accusations might be gatherei 
and witnesses might he secured to prove the chargei 

At length all was ready. It was notified to HamiV 
ton that, in terms of the citation served upon him, \» 
must attend on tlie day named therein to explain hi 
position with regard to certain statements contraiy t( 
the orthodox faith, said to have been made hy him 
He did attend ; he even anticipated the hour of meet 
ing, so eager was he to face his accusers and declare ir 
llieir presence his convictions. Thirteen articles o( 
heresy were read over, and these he was charged witt 
having taught and defended. Six of tlie thirteen h( 
admitted to he disputable, but he refused to condemi 
them tmtil stronger reasons against them than he hae 
yet heard had been adduced. The remaining seven h< 
confessed having taught and defended ; and he declare* 
himself prepared to defend them still further, absolutelj 
refusing to recant or modify his utterances. These 
chaises, with the ai-giiments advanced by him in su] 



port of tht!in, were referred to a tody of theoloj;ians for 
eiamination. The result was, as might have been 
apected, that they were condemned ; all the pointa 
submitted were declared to be at variance with the 
teaching of the Church. It was arranged that this 
condemnation should he presented to an ecclesiastical ' 
fitrart, to he held in the cathedral on the last day of 
February, and by it ratified. 

After his examination, Hamilton was permitted to 
letum to his lodgings, and, pending the report of the 
theologians, he was to he allowed to enjoy the freedom 
hitherto accorded. Such at least was the intention of 
ihe Archbishop, but he saw cause to alter his plans. 
Hamilton's friends had determined to accomplish his 
release, and for this purpose they decided to call out 
md arm all the men at their command. Patrick's 
brother, the Sheriff of Linlithgow, did gather his forces 
together, and was only prevented marching on St. 
Andrews by a violent storm that rendered the passage 
of the Firth of Forth impossible until too late. Duncan, 
ot Airdrie, also collected his few retainers, and was on 
the way to attack the Primate when he was met and 
Werpowered by the Primate's soldiers. 

Learning that such attempts at a rescue were being 
WQtemplated, Beaton deemed it desirable to secure his 
victim, and gave orders for his apprehension. His 
orders were at once carried out. At night the captain 
of the Castle drew a body of armed men round the 
house in which Hamilton was living. He at once 
BOtiendered himself, beseeching the friends who were 
*ith him to offer no resistance. He was conveyed to 
"le Castle, and kept there till tlie day fixed for the 
^iaL On the day appointed a vast concourse of 



Church dignitaries aaaembled in the cathedraL T 
Friar Campbell was assigned the task of condncting th 
case. Thia task he greatly disliked ; secretly, a 
Hamiltou reminded him, he BjTnpathized with th 
heretical opinions which he had to denounce. In pri 
vate he had often acquiesced in the views expressed b 
the Eeformer, and it required not a little effrontery t 
accuse in public the man with whom he had agreed J 
private. Campbell first read over the \vritten charge 
which Hamilton had already admitted, and which ha 
been adjudged heretical These the accused met a 
firmly and defended so ably that it was thought need 
ful to add others in order that those present might b 
convinced that be was indeed worthy of heavy punisi 
ment. Campbell being instructed to do ao, took ni 
points which, though of minor importance, were mor 
serviceable than the others, because they were withii 
the comprehension of the audience. These concemei 
the lawfulness of reading the Word of God, of worship 
ing images, of praying to saints, and in particular b 
the Virgin Maiy, and the existence of purgatorj 
With regard to these matters the accused stated hi 
opinions clearly and courageously ; and those opinioni 
were distinctly at variance alike with the views of thi 
judges and the behefs of the people. Knowing this 
Campbell turned triumphantly to the tribunal and said 
" My Lord Archbishop, you hear he denies the institu- 
tions of the holy Xirk and the authority of our hoi] 
Father the Pope. I need not to accuse him any more.' 
Unanimously he was condemned, and sentenced to b{ 
delivered to the secular power for punishment. Hii 
condemnation seemed to rest on " trifles," but it reaJlj 
rested on the weightiest matters of the law, though fo 


tbe sake of gaining popular apprtu al the former wtre 

The sentence was carried out that very day. The only 
I'ivil warrant obtained was one signed by the Archbishop's 
"Wn bailiff. No time was allowed for an appeal to the 
King ; indeed such an appeal would have been useless. 
Tlie King, as we have already aaeu, had been approached 
when the citation was issued, but without success ; and, 
lest any subsequent application mi<;iit be successful, 
lli6 Church authorities had arranged with Angus that 
•lanies, who was under his control, should visit the 
shrine of St. Duthac in Eoss-shire. Wlieu the sentence 
vras pronounced, then, he was far beyond tbe reach of 
Hmiilton or of his friends ; and that no opportunity 
1^ reaching him might be afforded theiu, the sentence 
was executed with most unseemly haste. 

At noon the stake was prepared in the area in 
front of St. Salvator's College. Hauultou calmly awaited 
Ihe fetal hour in one of the rooms of the Castle, and 
"hen the captain intimated that the pile was ready he 
"oJked forth with a quick, firm step. To a friend he 
Wve his copy of tbe Evangelists, and to bis sen'ant 
m cap and gown, and other upper garments. He was 
liged to recant, but refused to do so. Having been 
Iwind by a chain to the stake, he sought in prayer 
"tfength for himself and enlightenment for his country. 
His sufferings were severe and prolonged. The fire 
*hen first applied only exploded the gunpowder, but 
''id not ignite the faggots ; partly burned, he asked 
utem to fetch more gmipowder and wood. While 
"aitmg for these his agony was intense, but he sliowed 
10 sign of impatience ; on the contrary, he spoke com- 
■Mting words to those who were present. At lei^h 


llie Humes kiiRlliiil ruiiuci him, but so slowly (ii([ lliey 
du tlieir work that it was six o'clock before his body 
w«8 consumed. Thus foi six hours the execution lasted, 
but during all this time, says Alesius, who was an eye- 
witness of the scene, " the martyr never <,'Jive one sign 
of impatience or anger, nor ever called to heaven tor 
vengeance upon hia persecutors, so great was hia faith, 
so strong his confidence in God." 
' Of Hamilton's theological position we have a clear 
indication in " Patrick's Places." This work is 
teresting as the first statement of doctrine that was 
called forth in connection with tlie Scottish Eeforma- 
tion. It is distinctly evangelical in tone and scope. 
It has been called Lutheran, but that term, su^estive 
as it is of the later peculiarities of German theology, 
is somewhat misleading when applied to Hamilton's 
theses. They present a lucid and pointed summary 
of the vital truths that the Wittenberg monk had, by 
hia own experience, been led to set before his fellow- 
countrymen. Tliey deal with such fundamental ques- 
tions as the diflerence between the law and the gospel, 
faitli and works, justification and holiness. And the 
ease ajid matmity vrith which he discusses these matters 
is truly remarkable when his circumstances are fairly 
considered. With a steady hand he traces the dividing 
line between truth and error ; with singular precision 
he marks off the respective spheres of law and gospel ; 
with striking accuracy and rare felicity he expounds 
and illustrates the relation between faith and works. 
The key-note of the whole is faith ; faith as the ground 
of justification and sanctihcation ; faith as the root 
whence spring hope and charity ; faith as the bond 
linking us to Christ, and so enabling us to keep the 

I'.ITRICK' Jf.lMlf.TO.X. 371 

''uniiuandiiicnts. Th(?se wcru l!ic (kiftriiies he jiro- 

iJairaed iu his preaching and upheld in his discussions : 

•Joctrines tliat were vastly difiVarait frtira those to whicli 

Ihe people had been so long accustomed ; that were 

instinct with life, aglow with love, imd hright with 

faope ; that stnick a death-blow at the system of empty 

rites and dead ceremonies with which the country had 

hitherto had to be satisfied ; that, by setting forth the 

fKjBsibility of Balvatiou apart from sacerdotal instni- 

Oientality, undermined the ])retensions of priest imd of 

I*<)pe ; that, by proving the necessary connection be- 

*^reen a Christian profession and purity of life, brought 

out into striking prominence the inconsistencies that 

'■narked the lives of the clergy. When we appreciate 

aright the nature of Hamilton's teaching, and remember 

the condition of the country and the (.'hurch, we shall 

Hot wonder that when he spoke men listened and re- 

*p«nded to his appeal, and the Cartlinal trembled .ind 

felt compelled to silence his voice. 

When we read " Patrick's Places " we perceive the 

ilistinctiou between Hamilton and the LfjUards. The 

latter dealt with the fruits, the fonner went down to 

IW root John Kesby and those who followed him 

pointed out and attacked many evils and errors, setting 

lorth at the same time the truth as it bore upon the 

iBatters referred to ; but they failed to reach, or at least 

tosee distinctly, the ground and source of all these evils 

Wd errors. This, Hamilton, following Luther, did. 

Sfflant; firmly the spiritual aspect of religion, discerning 

wly that the act by which we become Christian is a 

"W'ement of the heart, he understood fidly the fallacy 

'""which the Church of Rome had reared its system. 

i^jiiBtification was by faith, and by faith alone, then 




it was folly, worse than folly, to iilentify sal\'atiuii with 
Bxtemal processes, to permit any man to iiiter\'ene be- 
tween the indiridual soul and God, to believe that one 
who was vicious in life was, or could be, the channel 
of Divine grace. When tliis doctrine was distinctly ap- 
prehended and emphntically declared, the pretensions 
of Rome were proved tt) be unfounded, arrogant, aye 

" The reik of Maister I'atrick Hamilton has infected 
as many as it blew upon : " so said Johnnie Lyndsay to 
James Beaton, and there was more truth in the saying 
than the Archbishop was ready to admit. The extreme 
measures resorted to, so fai' from arresting the spread 
of the new doctrines, us was intended, gave them a 
wider currency. Meu of all classes felt constrained to 
ask why one so pure and gentle, so noble and good, 
should have suffered martyrdom, and the inquiry 
wrought in them the belief that the martjT was right 
and that his persecutors were wrong. Thus he exercised 
a more powerful iniluence by his death than by his 
life : many were affected by the pains he endured who 
woiild have paid httle heed to the words he uttered. 
Indeed, until Wishart Ijegan his work, the teaching of 
Hamilton continued the moring spring of the Eeforma- 
tion in Scotland ; so far as we can gather, those who, 
in the intervening period stood forth to bear witness to 
the truth, and, if called upon to seal their testimony 
with their blood, assumed substantially his doctrinal 
Naturally the first and most decided effects of 
Hamilton's influence appeared in St. Andrews — the 
scene of his earher and later teaching and the place of 
his martyrdom. Those li\'ing in that ancient city ad 


saen the aian, had listened tn his words, liad felt the 
charm of his aweot aiid heautilid (^hai'atter, had heeu 
UHpreased by the calm heroism with which he met 
his fate. This was spocially trinj of the canons of the 
priory, mauy of whom, both when he was in residence at 
St Leonard's aud when he ninved amongst them under 
suspicion, had recognizeil and admitted the force of his 
ippeals and arguments. Of these, several now ranged 
themselves on the aide of Lutheraniam. 

But the leaven was not confined in its working \a 
St Andrews ; it spread throughout the land, maldiig 
its presence and operation manifest in many directions 
Rnd in many forma. In the circumstances it cxiuld not 
^dl be otherwise. On St. Andrews no fewer than 
twenty-eight religions houses were dependent ; between 
these institutions and their head there was frequent 
«»Dmiuiii cation ; a movement at the centre coidd not 
til to make itself felt at every point in the circum- 
ference. These religious houses again had their de- 
pendencies — their members doiiiff parocliial work in 
«(iimection with the chuiWies of the sm-rounduig dis- 
tritts. In this way the lit,'ht that had been kindled l.ij' 
Hamilton and faunwl into brittht ^low by the fury of 
Iiis adversaries shetl its guiding and cheering radiance 
fu and wide. 

Nor was its iUfliision limited to the monasteries ; it 
timched also the laity,and especially those occupying high 
positions in the social and intellectual spherea. Many of 
the anus of the noliility were studying at the University 
'^f St. Andrews when the Church pronounced and carried 
W ita cruel sentence, and. like the others who were in 
the eity, they turned their attention to the matters in 
™*pute, with the result that some accepted the heresy 



di' Luther 113 llin inuli iiC God. AVhtiii they visited 
their homes they earrietl with them the doctrines they 
had received and commended them to their friends. 
Apart from this, however, the death of Patrick Hamil- 
ton would have excited interest aiaongst the titled 
classes. He was relatud to those who hore honourable 
names; he could clitim kinship with some of the nohleat 
in the land, even with the King himself. It was tliere- 
fore impossihle that his death could be passed by 
without notice o]- coiiiuient. The prelates did not desire 
that it should ; it was designed to act as a warning to 
those who wera tempted to stray from the path of 
nrthodoxy. In mauy eases, e\'en amongst the nobility, 
it had the very opposite efi'eet. Men thought, and 
thought rightly, that if one so devout and holy as 
Patrick Haiuiltuu had heeu, had not walked in the 
path of orthodoxy that path could not be the way of 

Thus, despite the death of the Keformer, the Kefox- 
mation went on, taking an ever-wider sweep and an 
ever-atronger hold on the nation. It is, however, no 
easy task to mark accurately t!ie course it took or the 
extent of its operation during tlie period that elapsed 
between the martyrdom of Hamilton and the preaching 
<.)f Wishai't. ITiat it was advancing there is abundant 
eridence — evidence frequently of a sad and painful 
land, but the advance itself we cannot trace or estimate 
with certainty. Tliis is due in great measure to the 
political troubles and complications of that epocli, and 
to the relations, oftentime.-i sulitle and intiicate, between 
the two parties in the civil and the two parties in the 
religious sphere. Tlie maintenance of the Church 
became associntcil with one faction in the State, its 



ifrormation with another ; and it is well-nigh iiiipossiliU- 
10 nnravd the wub and set forth accurately what was 
flue to zeal for the truth and what to baser and less 
wnithy motives. 

The main features of the period may, however, with- 
"iit difficulty he briefly sketehed. It runs practically 
piimllel with the reign of Jauie.s V., from his escape 
Imin the power of Ang;us till hia deatii. His flit;ht 
I'niiu Falkland to Stirling took place a few montlis 
"ftfr Hamilton was burned, and he died in December, 

As a result of the restraints imposed on him during his 
minority the King entertained feeluiga of keen eimuty 
toward the barons and of bitter hatred toward thu 
-Ibuglases- He thought that tlie nobility liad been 
Stowing in importance, and had been invading the 
possessions and the prerogatives of the Crown, and he 
'leterrained to humble them and to regain what he liad 
'Ost. But if he separated himself from the aristocracy, 
t" whom coidd he look for support ? Thei-e was but 
"Be party — the clei^', and into their arms he threw 
Wniself. James had no special love for the Church or her 
iiiinisters. He was fully aware that there was need for 
Inform in the manners of the clergy, and he often urged 
them to mend their ways ; but he required their aid in 
'tder to oppose the nobihty, whom be reckoned his 
•^Hemies, and consequently he could not deal hardly 
with them, or compel them to make the changes which 
'le saw clearly were necessary. Thus the two parties 
111 the State became more shai-ply defined than they 
had been before. Behind each stood a foreign power ; 
oelund tlie Church, France, and sometimes the Emperor : 
^hind the nobility, England. France was ready ti> 



support tlii3 t.'liuivli, always because of its devotion td 
the I'ope, and sometimes because of its opposition to 
England. England, on the otlier hand, anxious for 
political reasons to gain a share in the management of 
Scottish affairs, and perceiving that the clergy were its 
most detenuined opponents, offered support to those 
who were willing, for whatever reason, to crush the 
ecclesiastics, at the same time pressing upon James the 
desirability of canying forward without delay the work 
of reform. It is easy to understand how difficulties 
and complications arose ; easy to understand, too, the 
vacillations of the King — at one moment showing 
himself determined to suppress the heresy, at another 
appearing altogether indifferent on the subject. He 
was being wooed by two different suitors, and he was 
daj;zled in turn by the charms and possessions of 
each. But on the whole the Church was able to offra" 
the strongest attractions ; not only could she confer 
high titles and bestow rich gifts, she could also promise 
military aid from France in eases of emergency. To 
the Scottish Court there came a Papal legate ; witli 
him he breught a cap and a sword that had been 
consecrated by the Pope on the anniversary of tlie 
Nativity, and as he laid them at the feet of the 
King he addressed him as " Defender of the Faith "- — 
a title that had been conferred upon Henry VIII., hut 
of which he hnd proved hiinself altogether unworthy. 
His illegitimate sons also, infants though they were. 
received from His Hohness pennissioii to hold offices in 
the Church, and the revenues drawn from these sotircea 
! to be augmented by a year's revenue, which he 
was authomed to demand from all vac^ant benefices. 
Considering the efforts and sacrifices winch the Church 


was ready to make, we need not wonder that the power 
«f the clergj- increased, and that Jaiiies felt himself 
iltawii to tliein in ever closer union. His French mar- 
riages also added new links to the clmins that bound 
iim to the ecclesiastical faction. He liad sold himself 
l^i the Chnrcli that he might gain independence. For 
a time he apparently deluded himself with the idea 
that he had gained what he sought. Now and again he 
stood apart and thought and acted for himself, and he 
mistook this for liberty : hia delusion was soon to be 
iTadely dispelled. 

Turning from the politicaJ to the religious aspect of 
events, we discover that notwithstanding the general 
Confusion and strife of parties it is possible to note a 
definite advance in the dissemination of Reformation 
principlea. Of this we have proof in the Acts that 
Were passed for the purpose of suppressing the heresy 
and in the martyrdoms that took place at difl'erent 
times during this period. In 1532 the sale, possession, 
or use of tlie Scriptui-es was prohibited by the bishops; in 
1535 the enactment of 1525 was made more stringent, 
all who had heretical books being required to dehver 
them up within forty days; and in 1541 all religious 
'Uscnssion was forbidden. In 1534 and 1539 there 
Were numerous instances of persecutions, and in each 
of these years men and women suffered for their 
attachment to " the truth as it is in Jesus." This last 
(late is important, as it marks the accession to full 
power of David Beaton, who had been acting for a few 
nxonths as colleague to his uncle. Previous to this, 
as we have seen, his hand may be detected in the 
govenunent of the country, but for the next seven years 
he becomes the chief actor in Scottish aflairs. A deadly 


Ene to Henry, because of liis aimstacy, thi- ^Vrclibishop 
exerted his extraordiiiai^- powers to frustrate all eudea- 
voura to bring Scotland under English mle, to outwit 
the supporters and agents nf the £iiiy, and to crush 
those who, l>ecau8e of their desire for Church refonu, 
might lend him their countenance. 

James had long found it ditficnlt to maintain his 
position between the two parties in the State, and at 
length he fell a ^-ictim to the division. The defeat 
of Solway filled liim ivith despair, inider which lie 
sank and to which he speedily succumbed. After his 
death there was found in his pofket a hst of one 
liundred noblemen, all friendly to the Eeformation, 
whom the Cardhial had advised hiui to put to death. 
The roll had been offered to him once before by 
Beaton; he had rejected it then with scorn and anger, 
but the necessities of tlie case had later become too 
strong for him, and he had yielded. This diabolical 
plan, had the King lived to execute it, would at once 
have been a death-blow to the Enghsh influence in 
Scotland, and have rendered the Church safe from 
spoliation. More than once Henry, through his 
ambassadors, had advised .fames to follow his example 
in the destruction of the monasteries and the appropria- 
tion of their wealth, and more than once when his 
treasury was empty .Tames had been tempted to follow 
ills advice. The design of the Archbishop was intended 
to deprive such a suggestion of all force by supplying 
the King with riches sufficient to gratify even his 
extravf^nt tastes. 

Immediately after the Khig's death, Beaton claimed 
the r^ency in virtue of a testament whicli he pro- 
duced bearing the King's signature. The claim was 



reftiiieil, tlie testament being declnred a forgery, iiml 

-imm waa appointeil. His Hii[>niiitment j;ave uiiicii 

'Mitisfaction to the lieformers, for he was iiiulerstnocl 

['> be favourable to the new doctiines. Indecii, he 

liati attached to his household Eoiigh and Williaiiis, 

^^^■o preachers of Lulheran views. The aitisfaction 

^vbs, however, of short duration. Iniiueueeil by his half- 

•*i.-other, the Abbot of Paisley, Arran recauted at Stirliuj,' 

'-»«j 3rd Sept., 1543, and became i-ecoiicileil to Beaton, 

^'v-Jiom a few months before he had cast into prisou- 

-i^liia act caiTied with it the most serions conseiiueuces 

^Or the eoimtry ; it was a violation of the treaty coii- 

*^liided with Henry regarding tlie marriage of Edwanl 

**-nd Maiy, and Henry was not slow to take revenge, 

"iTivajiing the land with Are and sword. 

The Acts passed from time to time, the martyrdoms 
^Viat tfiok place, the roll of annlcnnied reforming nobIeK 
'liuwn up by Beaton, and the temporary favniir shown 
•-*y AiTan to the movement, all furnish evi<lence that 
tlie Reformation was gaining ground in the country, 
und that the number of its ailherenta was increasing. 
1'lie most signal proof, lir>wever, of it« advance is 
'Jflered by an Act passed in March, ln43, which 
I«rovided that " all men and women should be free to 
•^tiid the Holy Scriptures in their own tongue or in 
tlie English tongue, and that all Acts pa.ssed to tho 
•^ntrary should be abolished." Well might the Ai*ch- 
liishop of Glasgow protest against this enactment, for 
l>y it the way waa paved for the o\-ei-throw of Papal 
*»uthority and the downfall of the Catholic (.'hnrch. 

But this brin^ ns almost to the time when Wishart 
'-•egau his labours ; we nmst therefore pause, tha( we 
inay trace his early career. 



tleorye Wialiart wiis the only aon of James Wisli- 
art of I'itfirrow, micl Elizabetli Learmont, liia seeom 
wife. Of the jihiue and date of Ma birth no recon 
remains. It seems, however, fair to conclude that hi 
■was born at Pitarrow, the family seat, which is sitiiatet 
fifteen miles from Montrose, and an inscription oi 
wliat is said to be a painting of the Reformer fixo 
1513 as the year in wliicli the event oeciirred. Thi 
testimony of the inscription harmonizes with what w( 
ffatlier from two legal documents connected with thi 
family: the one is dated 38th Oct., 1510, and is ii 
favour of .lames Wishart and Janet Lindsay, his spousH 
the other is date*l 30th April, 1512, and is in favou; 
of James Wiahart and Elizabeth Learmont, his sirouse 
As it follows from thbse dates that James WishaP 
must have married Elizabeth Learmont shortly befon 
30th April, 1512, we may, without hesitation, accep 
1513 as the year in wliich their only son was bom. 

The Wisharta were an ancient and distinguish^ 
family. Li the afl'airs of their country tJiey ha« 
always taken a deep interest, and more than one o 
their number had filled places of honour and import* 
ance in tlie State, (jieoijre'a father was no exceptiol 
to the rule; he was appointed, by James IV., Jnatio 
(.'lerk and King's Advocate, and was a member of thi 
<Jonucil that assembled at Perth in November, 1513, b 
meet the ambassadors from Louia XII. 

Elizabeth Learmont was the daughter of Learmon 
of Balcomie, in Fifealiire, who was descended from tbi 
Learraonts of Ercildoune or Earlston, of which -hous< 
Thomas the Ehymer was the most illustrious membei 
Her brother was James Learmont, who played a soma 
what prominent part in civil affairs about the tim^ 


wlieii Wisliiirt came to the front ; \w wiis Master ul" 
Ihe Houaehold in tlie reign of James \'., and was one 
(if the Commissioners who went to England to treat 
ivith Henry about the marriage of Marj- and I"^lward ; 
lie was also Provost of St. Andrews when Beaton was 

Eegardiug George Wishart's childhood and youths 
no inlbrmation has reached us. Not until he is twenty- 
three years of age do we meet with any authentic 
references to liim. These tell ns that he taught Greek 
in a school that had been founded in Montrose by 
'lohn Erakine of Dun when Provost of that burgh; 
tliey also tell us that not only did he teach Greek, he 
s^Jso supplied his pupils with a text-book — the beat 
*"»f all test-books, the New Testament. Of his doings, 
■J'ohn Hepburn, Bishop of Brechin, heanl, hut did not 
J-O the least approve. So far from being pleased with 
tlie attempt being made to spread cidture in his 
^Jiocese, he was angry, and resolved to put a stop to 
it at once. He summoned Wiahart to appear before 
liis court. But Wishart did not obey the summons; 
lie fled. He was not yet ready to take his stand and 
Suffer for the truth ; he was only gi-oping his way out 
Into the light, guided by his stiidy of the sacred 

We next catch a glimpse of him at Bristol, where 
lie has been preaching. How he cajue to be there, 
and there in the capacity of a preacher, is involved in 
mystery. It would seem as if in some way he had 
lieen introduced to Latimer, who was then Bishop of 
"Worcester, and by him had been sent to that part of 
his diocese to labour ; but in what way that intro- 
duction was brought about we cannot say, The sug- 


jiestiou hius liwu matin that he went to Cauibridge iunl 
ihei'e came under the notice of the Bisliop, but of hi'* 
reaUleinie iii Caiahritlfje at this period of his history we 
have uo notice. 

Ill lettera written in connection with his >Tsit to 
ISriatol he ia called " tlie reader," and by Bishop Lesley, 
who was a contemporary, be ia i-eferred to as " a clerk." 
These statements appear to imply that he bad beeii 
admitted, by I,atimor probably, to one of the inferior 
orders, and thus furnished with authority to preach. 
Ill any case he did preach, and in tlie course of his . 
prencliiiiff he gave expression to erroneous views. 
While otficiatiug in the Church of St. Nicolas lie de- 
clared that " Christ iiother bathe nor coulde merite for 
him nor yett for " his hearers. It has been contended 
that in this sentence we should read " mother " for 
" nother," and understand that Wishart was attacking 
Mariolatry, but this cannot be allowed ; the statement 
is plain and definite, and all the circumstances of the 
case go to prove that he had accepted and was teaching 
mistaken opinions regaiiiing the Atonement. His 
heretical utterances were made the subject of complaint 
by the clergy. In consequence of this he was arrested 
by the Mayor, and subsequently sent to London to be 
tried by a court over which Uranmer presided. He 
was condemned, and was sentenced to bum his fa^ot. 
'ITiis he did in St. Nicholas' Church on Sunday, 1 3Ui 
■Inly, and in CUirist's Church on Simday, 20tb July, 
1539. His conduct in this matter was in every way 
creditable to him, and forashadowed the noble course 
he was to pursue later. His love of truth compeIle<I 
him at once to recant, when convinced of liis error, 
<ieapite the humiliation entailed by doing so; thnt 


saiui! love of tnitli was in after years to preseire him 
from recanting, when no aucli conviction w.ia produced, 
althoiiyh by his refusal to do so he had to face not 
only humiliation but aJso sufieriny— even death itself. 

AFt«r burning his faggot he went to Germany and 
Switzerland. On the Continent he remained two or 
three years, but no account of hia journey or ids resid- 
ence abroad has been preserved. Returning to England, 
he entered Bennet's or Christ's College, Cambridge, 
intending both to study and to teach. Emery Tylney, 
one of his pupils, who knew him well and loved hiin 
intensely, has supphed us with a simple but graphic 
description of -hia appearance and character. By him 
he is represented as earnest, sober, at times even stem, 
yet tender, amiable, charitable ; a man of simple habits 
and elevated tastes ; longing to grow in knowledge and 
willing to impart to others what he had himself ac- 
ijiiired ; devout in tone, pure and gentle and good. 

From Cambridge he came to Scotland. The state- 
ments regarding the date of his return which we possess 
are, imfortunately, indefinite, and capable of more than 
one interpretation. As the point is of prime import- 
ance, because of its bearing on other questions regard- 
ing the conduct and character of the Eefonuer, it 
demands close attention and careful treatment. 

Our two authorities on the subject are Jolm Knox 
and Emery Tylney. The former says ; " In the 
myddest of all the calamities that came upoun the 
isalme after the defectioun of the Govemour from 
Christ Jesus came in Scotland that blisaed martyre of 
God, Maister George Wisharte, in company of the Com- 
missionaris before mentionat, in the year of God 1544." 
In this statement there are three notes of time: (1) 

ihe oalatiiities. (2) the retiim of tlie Commbsiunere, (3) 
the year of GuJ 1544. Of these, the first and third 
agree with each other, but from both the secoinl appeais 
to differ. Let us look at each, that we may understand 
both the agreement and the apparent difference. 

Knox speaks first of aJl of certain " calamities." 
What these calamitieB were there can be no doubt. 
He has just given a long account of them. Their* 
beginning and cause, indeed, he marks very distinctly 
in tlie passage quoted : " They came," he says, " after 
the defectioun of the Guvemour from Christ Jesiia." 
That defection took place, as we have already seen, in 
September, 154^1. Xnos, having written fully regard- 
ing it, proceeds to narrate the uivasion of Scotland by 
Henry iu May, 1 544, adding, " This was a parte of the 
punishment which God toolc upoun the realme for infi- 
delitie of the Governour and for the violatioun of his 
solempned oath." He then relates the arrival of the 
Frencli troops in June, 1545, and only after having 
done so does he speak of Wishart's return. From this 
it is clear that in the sentence under review he points 
to a period not earlier than May, 1544. In conform- 
ity with this reference is the third note, " The year 
of God 1 544." And in dealing with this, as with other 
dates, we have to remember that the year began then 
on 25th March, and not as now on 1st Jaunary. 

Trora these we turn to the second clause, " in 
company with the Commissionaris before mentionat" 
The only " Couimissiouaris before mentionat " are thoaa 
that were appointed to negotiate with Henry at>out ih» 
marriage of Edward and Mary, and these left Scotlack.'t 
in March and returned in July, 1543. This statement 
then, seems to contradict the other two, and that thea 


ia a difficulty occasioned by it caunot be denied. The 
ijuestiou naturally su^ests itself, Were there any 
Commissioners sent to England at a later date with 
whom Wiahart might return, and with whom Knox 
naight confound those " mentionat " by him ! The 
answer is, tliat there were none of precisely the same 
kind, but that tliere were others who went on a 
different footing and for a different purpose. By the 
English faction in Scotland, at the Lead of which were 
Lennox and Glencaim, representatives were sent across 
the Border in 1544, and in connection with their visit 
a treaty was concluded with Henry on 17th May of 
that year. It is quite possible that Kuox might be 
thinking of these (Jommissioners, and might through 
ignorance or inadvertency identify them with those to 
whom he had previously referi'ed And there are two 
considerations that favour this view. First, those who 
went up in March, 1543, representing the Governor 
and Parhament are called in the State papers 
" Ambassadors." while those who went up from the 
F.ngH nh party ore called "Commissioners." Second, 
the former were sent on a purely political errand ; the 
points in the treaty concluded bore solely on civil 
al&Jrs, but the latter demanded and secured as one of the 
heads of the arrangement entered into that the people 
should be left free to read the Bible in their own 
tongue : they had thus a religious side to their 
f^tiations. And the presumption is surely in favour 
of Wishart's returning with those who dealt with the 
ecclesiastical as well as with the political offaira of the 
Country, rather than with those wlio dealt solely with 
^e political 

It ia true that in support of the earlier date it may 

380 Tff^ REFORMERS. 

1)0 in>,'etl llial wlit^u tlie Couimissioners from Porliameat 
act out for England Arran was professedly favourable 
lu tliu Reformation, so that circiiDistances seemed to 
invite the exiled UeEonner to come north and render 
help to the cause he hail so nuieh at heart ; also, that 
Wishnrt'a uncle, Sir -lataea Lennuont, was one of the 
Comuiissionera, and that he, as a supporter of the 
Keformaiion, would doubtless emphasize the in^-itatioa 
presented hy the circumstances and endeavour to 
peraundo his nephew to act^mpany him to Scotland. 
But these contentions imply that Wishsirt would only 
ruiuru to his Ilati^-e country when there were no dangers 
to Iw fncetl. and this is not in accord with his conduct 
At other time&. 

Knox has t-eitainly run into error ; and in deeding 
where the error lies we must consider in what directioa 
he w:is most likely to err. Taking his statement as it 
stnuds, the lialance is in favour of a late date, since two 
okuses point to 1544. while only one points to 1543. 
And looking at the matter generally we reach the same 
condustou. We may p^ieseut the matter thus — ^If 
^^^^ Wishaxt wtnraed with '"the Commissioaans befcie 
^^^^L luenUonat," then he neither cante in the ** myddett of 
^^^^1 the ndamities' cor in 1544: but if he came in "As 
^^^^B ajddest of the calamities" then be m^t eome in 1544. 
^^^^1 Pnttii^ it thus, we perreive that the qnaBtioB itUiifc 
^^^^H we h«XT lo answer is: Eegaidii^ wfaie^ pasDt ni 
^^^H Kttoxi&aetlike^h> make a mistake; i^aiding tike OoM-, 
V nbaoBots vith when Vtdwit Rtniwdl the eoaditilii 

■ ofdweovBtiyat tin tJiMcC hisntan,or the ynriK 
I irioeh l« Mtomed. In da oa ain g tbe qweboa 

■ WBSt nmemhcr that Ksox was teaa^ boa d 
I COMMt «Ah WislMat in tlie ad of lS4o. and tb> ht 


Imd therefore ample opportunity of gaiuiiig information 
regarding his earlier movements. He wrote, too, onlj' 
twenty years after the event he was recording took 
place, and wrote with a distinctly rehcpons aim, dealing 
with political matters, as he constantly tells ua, only 
ID so tar as these touched closely the history of the 
Chiircli, In such circumstances he was surely much 
more likely to err regarding the people with whom the 
Reformer returned than r^arding the date of his return 
Or the state of the country at the moment. Wliat 
^■oiild fix itself in hia memory would he the defec- 
tion of the Grovemor, with the evils following, all 
**f which had for him a religious significance, and 
'lie sudden illiimination of the darkness that had 
^^ttled on the land by the appearance of a bright and 
^Hlning light. He might readily forget in whose 
*^*^pany Wishart travelled north, especially as there 
^^■ere then frequent deputations passmg between England 
^*id Scotland; he might even forget the year, though 
''Ais 13 not likely, seeing that it was a year that was 
^Ventful in the history of the nation ; hut he would not 
*^adily forget the circumstances of the time — <drcum- 
so sad and painful that tliey must have indelibly 
themselves on the mind of one who was alike 
^ ardent patriot and a fervent Reformer. 

In so far as the statement of Tylney bears on the 
*^bject, it confirms the conclusion reached. He says, 
'About the year of our Lord a thousand five himdredth 
*ortie and three there was in the Uiiiversitie of Cam- 
otidge one Maister George Wishart." He speaks of 
" the whole year of my being with him" ; and he states 
" that he went into Scotland with diuers of the nobilitie 
tiiat came for a treaty to King Henry the Eight." The 




phrase " about the year a thoiisaud five hundredth forlie 
and three," taken in connection with the expression, 
" the whole year of my being with hini," sufgjeate that 
1543 was the ycai- in wliich the pupil enjoyed the 
benefit ut' this tutor's friendship and instniction — ^the 
year, therefore, witli whicli he moat naturally asaociated 
his stay at Cambridge. Had he left in July, 1543, he 
would have lived in Cambridge only one quarter of that 
year, according to the reckoning then in use, and, had 
this been so, Tylney would scarcely have written as he 
has done. 

Once more, the terms in which he refeira to those 
with whom he went away suggest rather the represen- 
tatives of the English faction than the ambassadors from 
the Governor and Parliament : " He went into Scotland 
with diuers of the nobilitie that came for a treaty with 
Henry the Eight" 

Despite, then, the difficulty occasioned by Knox's 
statement as to the " Commissionaris," we seem forced 
to accept the later date, and to understand that 
Wishart returned either in May, 1544, or subsequent 

This is not the general opinion. Tytler says, "AH 
are agreed that Wishart arrived with the Commissioners, 
and they certainly arrived in the interval between 1 6th 
and 31st July, 154.'3;" he says, further, that the date 
"has been. mistaken by Knox and all our ecclesiastical 
historians." That Knox has made a mistake is clear; 
but that the ecclesiastical historians, who accept a later 
date than July, 1543, have not made such a serious 
mistake as Tytler's statement implies, is as clear. He 
himself is at faidt in the matter. He takes one part 
of a statement and rejects two, although, as haa been 



shown, the two are more reliable thaii tlie one, and must 
he rtllowetl to a certain extent to interpret it. 

After his return from England Wishart taught 
for a time in Montrose in a house tiired by hini 
for the purpose. Thence he went to Dundee, where 
lie expounded the " Epistle to the Romans " to large 
audiencea, drawn together by his fame as a preacher. 
There he continued to labour tiE forbidden to do 
80 by the municipal authorities. Prior to their 
interference, two attempts had been made to in- 
timidate him and brmg his expositions to a close. 
The Governor, instigated doubtless by the Primate, had 
cliaiged him to cease holding public meetings, but this 
charge he had refused to obey. In order to compel obedi- 
bnce, the Church lent the force of its censures to the 
menaces of the civil power. Because of his refusal 
the Bishop of Brechin cursed' him and delivered him 
into the Devil's hands, and gave him commandment 
that he should preach no more. But the ecclesiastical 
malediction proved as powerless to arrest him as the 
civil injunction had done ; notwithstanding, he did 
"continew obstinatlye." Frustrated in their attempts 
to terrify into silence the preacher of righteousness and 
grace, the clergy sought to work on the fears of the 
ma^strates, who had hitherto afforded him protec- 
tion and enabled him to defy all the threats hurled at 
him. At lengt.h they succeeded. And, at the close of 
one of his services, Wishart was inhibited from addresa- 
ing congregations in the burgh. This inhibition was 
delivered to him by Eobert Myln, a magistrate, who 
had formerly professed attachment to Lutheranism, and 
had even suffered because of his profession. Wishart 
' I'.a., excommuuicated. 


was iiiucli afl'ected when lie heai'd the praclanm- 
tion, biit it woulil have been folly for l>im to disn;- 
gard it He had not hesitated, aa he reminded them, 
to remain amonfjst theni. even at the hazard of liis life, 
30 long aa they had been willing to listen to his words, 
hut now that they were forsaking him and withdrawing 
from liim tlieir coimteuance lie must leave tliem and 
seek opportunities of usefulness elsewhere. Hcj how- 
ever, warned them that since they were rejecting God's 
message, afraid of the trouble its proclamation might 
bring upon them, God would send upon them other 
troubles that would be unaffected by " homing and 

Driven out of Dundee by priestly macliinations, he 
betook himself to Kyle, " that ancient receptacle of 
God'a people." The efforts of Lollardism in that dis- 
trict had not been altogether fruitless ; there were still 
some who had come under its quickening influence, 
and who were yearning for fidler and clearer views of 
Divine truth. Aware of this, Wishart felt sure that in 
the West he would find many willing to listen to liiiu. 
He also knew that in Ayrahii-e there were several 
gentlemen of position who sympathized heartily with 
his views, and would be ready to defend Iiim if he were 

In Ayr he preached at the Cross ; this he did because 
he was prevented entering the church by Dunbar, 
Archbishop of Glasgow, who was alarmed by this evan- 
gelical invasion of his diocese. At Mauchline, where 
the church was also closed against him, lest the crowds 
that assembled to hear him should destroy a valuable 
shrine which it contained, he preached from a dyke, 
and preached with great power and effect. Galston, 



however, was the cliief scene of his labours. There ht! 
remained for soiue weeks, under the protection of John 
Lockhart, of BaiT, and during his stay he preached 
regularly in the surrounding districts. Wlierever he 
went crowds gathered to hear him, aiid of those who 
came not a few by their profession and conduct testified 
to his success in presenting the truth so as to (ouch the 
heart and influence the life. 

But, inviting though this sphere wa.?, the time came, 
and came soon, when he must leave it. In Dundee 
the plague was raging ; it liad begun four days after 
his departure, and its ravages were so terrible that "it 
almost passed credibilitie to liear what number departed 
everie foiire-and-twenty houris." The infoiinatiou which 
he received regarding the condition of the people, in 
whom, despite their harsh ti-eatment of him, he had still 
a deep interest, seemed a call to return and resume 
amongst them the work that had been so suddenly 
brought to a close ; and this call he obeyed without 
hesitation or delay, "to the regreate of many." His 
appearance in the plague -stricken city was hailed 
with joy by the "faytMul" At once he addressed 
himself to the work that lay to his hand, minister- 
ii^ in many ways to the comfort of the diseased. 
Shortly after his aiTival lie preached from the East 
(Jate. This place was resorted to on account of 
the pestilence, enabling as it did the preacher to 
address two congregations at the same time; " the whole 
sat or stood within, the seik and suspected without the 
porte." His text on the occasion was, " He sent His 
word and healed them," from which he discoursed in a 
manner fitted to comfort and guide the inhaljitants in 
their peculiar circumstances. And the place s 



as a pulpit gave point to the words choeen as a t€xt, 
for in its iiiunediate vicinity was tlie monastery of St,- 
Roque, the saint who was invoked in times of sickness. 
Thus by imphcation, if not by actual statement, the 
preacher turned the thoughts of his hearers from the 
false to the true source of health and heahng. 

Wishart remained in Dimdee till the pestilence had 
almost passed away, and was unwearied in his en- 
deavours to aid, both in things temporal and in things 
spiritual, those who were in affliction. Rut he was 
not permitted to continue undisturbed his labour of 
love. The Cardinal had heard of his return, and had 
determined to silence him. He however knew well that, 
in the circumstances, it would be folly to attack hira 
directly, since the people would defend him from any 
force sent to take him, and would be estranged from the 
Church by any attempt made to arrest him. But what 
he feared to do openly he sought to do secretly. He 
employed a priest, John Wightone by name, to carry 
out his design. Stationed at the foot of the stair, with 
" hia whinger drawin into hia hand under his gown," 
he intended to stab Wishart as he came down from the 
pulpit, but Wishart, who was " most scbarpe of eie and 
judgment," suspecting li'in of some foul purpose, seized 
him by the hand that held the da^er. When he saw 
that he was discovered and overpowered he made full 
confession. The crowd were so enraged that they 
would fain have taken summary vengeance on hira, but 
Wishart embracing him, cried out, " Who troubles him 
troubles me," and so saved him from the danger to 
which he had exposed himself. 

When the plague had well nigh ceased, Wishart went 
for a short time to Montrose. His aim in going thither 


was to secure rest and leisure for lueditation. He liad 
been invited to Edinburgh by the Earls CUencaim and 
Oaasilis, who had promised iiiin that at a meeting of 
the Provincial SJ^lod to be held in January he shoultl 
have an opportunity of discussing pubhcly with the 
bishops various matters requiring reformation ; and for 
this he was anxious to prepare liimself fully. 

But the ma,liee of the Corilinal followud him into 
his retirement. Sending him si message tliat his friend 
Kinneir, of Kinneir in Fifeshire, was Ul, he sought, 
by inducing him to travel thither, to bring him 
within the reach of a body of soldiers which he had 
{daced in ambush. His plan almost succeeded. The 
Eeformer set out in lia.ste to visit hia sick friend, but 
suddenly he stopped and refused to proceed, declaring 
that evil was intended by his enemies ; thus he was 
saved by his ".scharpeness and wisdom." 

Thus fai' I have sketcheil the career of Wishart 
after bis return from England, without reference to 
dates. This omission has not been accidental I have 
purposely abstained from marking off definitely the 
severaJ periods embraced in tliis section of his life be- 
cause of the acknowledged difficulty that has to be 
faced in the attempt to do so. To the subject we 
mast, however, now devote our attention. And it may 
be veil to begin by considering the views of those wlio 
accept July, 1543, as the date of his arrival in Scot- 
land ; these are varietl and diverse, and demand exanun- 
ation, because of their bearing on the character of the 
Iteformer. * 

One view is that he remained in obscurity at 
Ktarrow till the spring of 1545 ; and that consequently 
hifl activity on behalf of the Reformation lasted for 

oiily I 


iiitlis. His retiremeut i 

ited for by 1 

the change thai took place in the Eegent's rel^io 
eonvictionB, or rather profession. But apart from the 
fact that nine months is much too brief a period for all 
that was accomplished, the shrinking from service and 
danger which such a retirement would imply is alto- 
gether antagonistic to the character of the Reformer. 
He waa ever eager to teach, and when prevented from 
doing so he looked upon himself as " nothing better than 
a dead man, except that Jie ate and drank " ; he was alao 
brave, willing to risk his life in the attempt to instruct 
those who would listen to him. Surely a man ani- 
mated by such a spirit could not remain quietly in 
concealment for abuost two years, no matter how 
serious the difficulties to be overcome, and how terrible 
the dangers to he faced ui the discharge of duty. 

Another view is as foUows: Immediately on his ar- 
rival in Scotland he began to preach in Montrose, and 
shortly thereafter he went to Dundea Evidence of hi*' 
early appearance and efforts in the latter town is furnished 
by the popular demonstrations which took place there 
ill September, 1543, in connection with whicli most of 
the monasteries were destroyed. After these demon- 
strations he continued his labours till the Governor and 
the Cardinal came thither in January, 1544, to makd- 
inquisition and to punish those found guilty of heresy. 
At their approach he and hia congregation tied and re- 
mained in hiding till the danger was past ; thereafter 
he returned and continued some months till, in conse- 
quence of the interference of the magistrates, he was 
ohhged to cease teaching, and to leave the town. He 
then set out for the West, where he lived and 
taught till, on hearing that the plague had broken out 


ill Dundee, be felt called upon to return to the Eiisl ; 
and the plague visited Dundee in the auimuer of 1544. 
From the date of his return till the autumn of 1545, 
he continued in that town preachhig and comforting 
the afflicted, ceasing to do so only when hia arrangement 
with Glencaim and Caasilis called him to Edinburgh. 

Now this \iew is not only at variance with the 
facts, it does the Eefomier serious injustice ; it makes 
him responsible for disorderly riots and wanton destruo- 
tion of property ; and it implies that he was cowardly 
enough to flee from the Governor and Oardinol when 
they came to Dundee to hold inquisition. That it is 
a mistaken view may, however, be easily proved. It 
can be satisfactorily shown that Wishart had and could 
have no connection with the disturbances that led to 
the demolition of the monasteries, even admitting that 
lie reached Scotland in July, 1543; that be was not in 
Dundee in January, 1544, and therefore did not flee 
when the Governor and Cardinal idsited the town; and 
tiiat after hia return from Kyie he did not remain so 
long in Dundee as is required by this theory. 

As to the riots, these took place before 3rd Septem- 
ber, 1543; a more exact date cannot be given, but this 
la sufficient for our present purpose. Wliat, then, does 
tliifl view imply when fully stated ? It impHes that within 
a month Wishart visited his friends, liired a house in 
Montrose and preached in it, left Montrose and went 
to Dundee, where he expounded the Epistle to the 
Romans, and by his exposition so excited the populace 
tliatthey attacked the sacred buildings. We may truly 
*sy that if, in such a brief period, and, it may be added, 
with such an unpromising theme, Wishart eould so iu- 
Sneiice his audience, he must have been a much greater 



man than the most enthusiastic martyrologist has ever 
ventured to suggest. But he did not ; his name is not 
even hinted at by the writers of the period who refer 
to the disturbances ; and it would undoubtedly have 
been mentioned had he been the instigator and moving 

If further proof be required on this point it will be 
furnished by what we learn regarding his suppoeed 
presence in Dundee in the beginning of 1544, One, 
if not the chief object which Arran and Beaton had in 
visiting Dundee in January of that year, was to puniah. 
those who were responsible for the demonstrations that 
had proved so disastrous to the monasteries. Where 
tlien was Wisbart ? We are told that he had fled., 
We at once reply that this is not the conduct we 
should have expected from one who was so conscientioua 
and courageous. But, apart from this, we are con- 
strained to ask, even if he had fled would not the civil 
power, impelled by the ecclesiastical, have sought him 
out and brought him to trial ? Would it not, at any 
rate, on his resumption of work in the town, have ap- 
prehended and punished him ? In the course of the 
following month some were cited to answer for their 
share in the riots, but amongst these we do not find 
the Reformer, prime mover though he is said to have 
been. At this very time, too, others were seized be- 
cause they continued to teach the new doctrines. Of 
these the most notable was John Rogers, wlio was taken, 
imprisoned, thrown ii'om the Castle wall and drowned 
in the sea at St. Andrews; and his oSfenee was that lie 
persisted in preaching in Angus and Mearns. kai 
yet we are to believe that, while all this was taking 
place, Wishart was left undisturbed, and permitted U 



complete liis exposition of tlie " Epistle to the Koinans," 
When all the facts are considered hy us, we are forced to 
the conclusion that wherever he was in the beginning of 
1544 he was not in Dundee, and his absence from 
Dundee at tliis period coiifirma the result already 
reached that he was in no sense responsible for the 
destruction of the religious houses in that town. 

The nest point requiring consideration is the asser- 
tion that, as the pl^ue began in Dundee in the sum- 
mer of 1544, and as Wishart returned from Kyle imme- 
diately after its outbreak and continued till the autumn 
of 1545, he must have been there at this time fully 
a year. This assertion is not home out by the terms in 
which Knox speaks of the subject. He says, "When 
the plague was ceased that abuost thare was none seak, 
he tooke his leave of them." These words imply 
that, when he left, the effects of the pestilence had 
not quite passed away ; there were still some |" seak." 
And this tella against such a lengtliened residence as 
is neceasitsted by the theorj' which we are discussing. 
The promise, too, that Glencoim and Cassilis gave 
Wishart before he left Ayrshire, that they would 
arrange a public discussion when the Provincial Synod 
met in January, points in the same direction. It is 
not distinctly stated that this Synod was to he held in 
the January following the date of the promise, but that 
ia the natural inference : it would be strange if the 
jffomise had been given in reference to a Synod that 
waa not to meet for eighteen months. Once more, 
though the exact date is doubtful, there is good autho- 
lity for saying that the plague visited Dundee in the 
aanuner of 1545 and not of 1544. 

And this brings us to the arrangement that suggests 



itsfilf till tKis siippoaition that he did not return 
fnjra England before May, 1544. Going to Mon- 
trose, he hireti a house and taught for a few months, 
living the while at Pitarrow. Lea\Tng Montrose 
about the close of the year, he came to Dundee, 
where he laboured till the following summer. On 
beiug prohibited by the magistrates of that burgh, 
he betook himself to the West. A month or so 
later, he returned to preach and tend the " seak." 
When all were nearly recovered — probably in the 
month of October — he went to Montrose to meditate, 
30 that in November he might be ready to set out for 
Edinburgh. According to this disposition he would 
labour in Dundee six or nine months before the inhibi- 
tion was served upon him by Robert My In; and this 
would leave ample time for the injtmction of the 
Gtovemor, the cursing of the Bishop of Brechin, and 
the negotiations of the cloi^ with the municipal 
authorities, which resulted in his expulsion. He would 
also spend two months, or thereby, ministering to the 
diseased after his return from Kyle ; and some such 
period is in harmony with the statejuent of Knox. 

In whatever way we deal with the interval between 
his arrival in Scotland and his journey from Montrose 
to Edinburgh, it is quite certain that the latter was 
undertaken in November, 1545. It was imdertaken, 
too, in opposition to the wishes of his friends, especially 
of his early Mend, John Erakine of Dim. Despite 
their earnest entreaties he was determined to go. and 
determined to go notwithstanding his firm conviction 
that troubles awaited him. Duty called him, and the 
call of duty he dared not disobey. But though his 
response was willing and immediate, he did not com- 


ply without a struggle. His frequent references to the 
shortness of hia time, his sleepleasuess and midnight 
walks, his request for the prayers of his friends that he 
might remain firm to the end, all iinjily that he ex- 
perienced the full intensity of his trial, find that only 
after severe inner conflict and victory through grace 
WH3 he enabled to pursue his course witli joy. 

On his way to Edinburgh he used due precaution ; 
he did not take the direct route through Fife, since 
that would have brought him within the power of the 
Cardinal, but went by Perth, Kinross, and Kinghom. 
He reached the Capital before his friends Glencabn 
and Cassilis, and was advised by those who received 
him to remain silent till they arrived. For a time he 
yielded to their wish, but becoming sorrowful in spirit, 
he was allowed to preach. He did so in Leith on the 
second Sabbath of December, and afterwards at Inver- 
esk, Tranent, and Haddington. At Haddington his 
audiences were small, owing to the influence exercised 
in tlie district by the Earl of Bothwell. Before enter- 
ing the pulpit the second time, he received intimation 
that Glencaim and Cassilis were not coming to Edin- 
bui^h to meet him. By this he wa-s much troubled, 
aayittg to Knox, whom he had met at Longniddry, and 
who was constantly with him bearing a sword before 
him, that he " weryed of the world," for " men begane 
to weary of God." lu his discourse he bewailed the 
Iwk of interest on the part of the people in Gospel 
truth, and prophesied that evil times would come on 
them because of their indifference. That night he was 
apprehended in Ormiston House, the residence of 
Cookburn, who, along with Crichtone and Douglas, 
Iiad taken him under their protection, by the Earl of 


llothwell, who gave iiis word that he would pi-eserve him 
I'roin harm, and m particular that he would hinder the 
Governor aud the Cardinal from having " thare will of 
Iiim." He was taken to Elpliinstone Tower aud shortly 
after, despite the promise given hy the Earl, he waa 
delivered over to the (Jardinal, who sent him to St 
Andrews and confined him in the sea-tuwer or bottle 
dungeon of the castle, a dismal cell i;ut down into the 
soHd rock. Here he was kept for a month. Thia 
period was requisite for the needful arrangements. 
The Cardinal iirst sought the assistance of the civil 
power ; he asked " a commiaaioun and aue judge 
criininall to {rfve doom on Maister George if the eleigy 
fand him guiltie." This request the Governor refused, 
in the hope that lie might lie able to prevent Beaton 
doing Wishart serious injury ; but Beaton was at the 
moment too powerful to be hindered by the Govemor'a 
refusal ; he resolved to act on his own responsibility. 
But, before he could proceed, he must sunnount 
another obstacle ; he was not on friendly terms with 
Dunbar, Archbishop of Gla^ow. Shortly before 
this an unseemly quarrel liad taken place between 
them at the door of the Cathedral in Glasgow, 
because each claimed the chief place, and the 
" enemitie " that resulted " waa judged mortall and 
without all hope of reconsiliation." But much as the 
Archbishop of Glasgow disliked tlie Axchbishop of SU 
Andrews, he disliked heretics still more — disliked this 
heretic in particular, because he bad invaded his diocese. 
Heartily, therefore, he responded to the invitation sent 
him, and on the day appointed, 28th February, he took 
his place by the side of the Cardinal and gave his voice 
against the troubler of the Church. 


Wishart, wlieii brought before the trilniunl whidi 
had been assembled in ihe Cathedral, asked tliat he 
should be judged by the Governor whose priaouer he 
was; this renuust was treated with contempt, and he 
waa bidden answer the charges ttiat were brought 
E^inst him by Lauder, who acted the jmrt of accuser. 
These were eighteen in number, and for the most pari 
bore on the Sacraments. Wiahart having prayed for 
guidance, answered sweetly, but his answers only 
increased the wrath of hia judges. He would neither 
recant mir modify hia utterances, unless eonvinced of 
their error from the Word of God ; to the Scriptures 
he made his appeal, and on them he grounded all his 
itatements. But those ecclesiastics had not come 
together to discuss with a heretic the Scriptural char- 
acter of the Churcli's faith ; they had come ti.' condemn, 
m* to convince. When the trial, if trial it coidd be 
railed, was over, the people were excluded and sentence 
WES pronounced. The prisoner was ordered to be 
burneii on the following day, and the order was carried 
ont in front of the Castle. From a window in the 
eastern tower, Beaton and Dunbar watched the exe- 
cution of the sentence they had been in audi haste 
to pronounce ; and lest there should be any attempt 
at a rescue the ordnance of the Castle was directed to 
the spot and " the gunnaris ready and standing by 
[hare gunnis." Wishart was first strangled and then 
burned. His death was in harmony with his life. 
He willingly forgave his executioner, on being aaked 
to do so ; he spoke kindly and cheerfully to tliose who 
were standing by; he submitted bravely and calmly to 
hia fate. Having with childlike trust committed his 
spirit into his Father's hands, he assured his friends 




Lhat he would " sup wilL Cliriat " that night, autl went 
home to the " rest that remaineth I'or the people of 
(>otl," and to the reward that awaits those that are: 
" faithful unto death." 

Three mouths aftei' Wishart was burned, Eeatoa 
WHS murdered. Into the details of the bloody deed v 
are not called upon to enter, hut to the deed itself w6 
iinist refer, Imcauae it haa been asserted that the act 
had been lony meditated, and that Wishart was privy 
to the plot, nay, was largely responsible for it. In 
order that we may investigate the matter carefully and 
satisfactorily, we must discover on what ground this 
assertion is based ; and in order that we may under- 
stand the ground of the aaaertion. we must recall tha 
position of atlaivs in the sphere of politics. At the 
time with which we are concerned, Henry VIII. 
was anxious to conclude a marriage between his. 
son Edward and Mary, the infant daughter of James 
v.; but all his attempts to do so proved futile, and 
ho was fuUy aware that the chief opponent to hi& 
scheme was the Cardinal. Naturally he was desir^ 
ous that he should be removed — either apprebendecj 
or slain. Sadler, the English ambassador, through 
whom Henry was negotiating with the Scottisli 
authorities, was compelled in November, 1543, to 
leave Ediubui^h. It was of course necessary that bs 
should have full information of all that waa being 
done if he were to carry out his master's wishes, oodi 
with the view of gaining this, he employed, as hift 
secret agent and spy, Criehtone of Bruiistone. In a 
letter dated 17th April, 1544, from the Earl of 
Hertford to Henry, that nobleman says, " This daya 
nixyved here with me the Erll of Hertford, a Scottish- 


loan cfilleil Wyshert, ami brought iiiu a lettur from the 
lArde of Brunatone;" and then he proceeds to state 
that the "said Wyshert" has two proposals to lay be- 
fore His Majesty, one of which is "that the Larde of 
Grainge, late threaaurer of Scotlaiide, the nir. of Eothes, 
the EtI of Rothes' eldest son, and John (Jharter's eldest 
sou wolde attempt eyther to apprehend or slee the 
tairdynall at some tyme when he sliall passe thorouhge 
the Fyf lande, as he doth sundry times, to Sanct 
Andre wes," if they knew His Highness' pleasure. 
At intervals between this date and the death of the 
Cardinal letters appear in the State papers which 
clearly prove tiiat the conspiracy, thoiigh delayed, was 
not forgotten : now these letters are from Crichtone, 
now from Glencairn and Cassihs, but all deal more or 
less distinctly with the same subject As in none of 
them, liowever, does the name " Wyshert " occur, we 
liave no special concern with them. The point, the 
'fue point, requiring consideration ia, was the " Seot- 
lishman called Wyshert " in the Earl of Hertford's 
letter George Wishart the martyr. Tins is the ques- 
tion on the answer to which aU turns, for, had this 
name not appeared in this communication, the martyr 
would never liave been chained with having a share in 
lbs plot. Now this question ha^ practically been an- 
Wered in tlie negative ; it has been shown that Wishart 
•Hoot return to Scotland before May^ 1644, and the 
I«tteT referred to is dated IVth April, 1544; it is 
therefore impossible that he could be the person spoken 
"f. Not being in Scotland, he could not be the bearer 
"f a letter from the " Laixle of Brunstone " to the Earl 
of Hertforfl. 
But it may be maintained that the date of Wishart's 


return luia not been conclusively settled ; it may be 
well, therefore, to deal with the matter generally. 
And our discussion of the (question will be most satis^ 
factory if we begin by asking what those who charge' 
him with complicity have to say in support of their 

Hill Burton aaya, " To the observer from ■without^ 
Wishart the martyr is port of the group occupied w 
the afi'air ; removing him from that group breaks it up 
almost more than the remoA'al of any other." A mors 
unwarrantable statement it would scarcely be possible 
to conceive ; though it must be admitted that it ia in 
perfect harmony with Burton's general account of the 
Reformer. AVhat are the facta of tlie case ? For two- 
years, at intervals, longer or shorter according to cir- 
cumstances, letters were passing between a party 
Scotland and Henry VIII. as to the disposal of the: 
Cardinal ; in only one of these, and that the ^■ery first, 
does the name "Wyshert" occur. He who bore the 
name, whoever he was, was a trusted agent employed 
to carry the letter in which the proposal to remove the 
Cardinal was contained, and to discover the King's 
raind on the subject ; and that is all. Never a; 
throughout the correspondence is that name t 
referred to. Now, admitting for the moment that the. 
" Wyshert " mentioned was the Keforraer, what have 
we ? We have the fact that he was employed to cany 
a communication from one who had been retained a& 
an Enghsh spy — the earliest, too, of many communica- 
tions tliat were forwarded on the subject — and we 
have nothing more ; and yet, because, eighteen months 
after the date of that communication, this spy ia 
named, along with Glencairn and Cassilia, as friendly 


ami aa affonliiiy prutection to the martyr^ it is declured 
that the niitrtyr wua the central figure of the group, aud 
that ou hiui it depended for existence and cohesion. 
But it may be replied that all concerned in the plot 
were professed Iteformers, and that Wishart, as the leader 
for the time being of the Refbniiation, formed the con- 
necting link. To apeak in this way is to overlook the 
character of tlie plot. The Cardinal was to be removed, 
not because he held fast tlie old doctrine and ritual, 
but because he opposed the advance of the English 
power. The conspiracy was distinctly political in its 
basis and aim. The death of Wishait undoubtedly 
gave to the murder sonietldng of a religious aspect, 
but that was by no means the main, certainly not tlie 
original reference of the scheme. It is true that while 
preacliing in Ayrshire Wishart met botli Glencairu 
and Cassilis, and enjoyed their protection. What the 
extent of their intimacy was it is diiJicuIt to say. 
Knox's statement seems to imply that the Iteformer 
went to Kyle of his own free will, and apart altogether 
from their knowledge. But, if our supposition as to 
the circumstances in which he came from England be 
correct, it would follow that he had made then- 
acquaintance at the time of his return. Even if this 
were the case it would not prove that he was informed 
of their design. A man may be associated with other 
men and yet not be privy to all their schemes. In 
any case, putting Wisliait's stay in the West at the 
earliest possible date, it was two or three months sub- 
sequent to the despatch of the letter in question, and 
supplies no evidence whatever that he was involved in, 
still less that he was the moving spirit of the plot. We 
may safely say that whatever Wishart the martyr was. 



lie was not the centre of the gixiup ocfupieJ in ihe 
iiflair. Intimate witli some of the inenibers of the 
group he unquestionably was, but it is altogethe-T 
unwarrantable to infer fi-om tliis that, he was the 
" Scottishmaii " referred to in Hertford's letter. 

Vet Burton is not alone in thus arguing — ^Tytler 
luid taken the same line. He asserts that from the date 
of Wishart'a return, Bruustone was Lis great friend. 
This assertion is totally unsupported by evidence. "We- 
do not know that Wishart ever even saw Brunstone till 
within a few weeks of his death. Tytler's statement, 
like that of Burton, ia a vicious ■pdiiw jirinrApii. From 
the occuiTCDce of the name " Wyahert " in the letter 
from Brunstone, the early intimacy of the Eeforraer 
with Brunstone ia infen-ed, and then by this the identity 
of George Wishart with the "' Seottishman " is proved. 
But Brunstone's interest in Wiahart can be sufficiently 
accounted for without assiuniug a long and intiiuaie 
&'iendship. He was anxious to ingratiate himself wili 
the party who were opposetl to the Cardinal, so Umt, 
even if we suppose him to have l>een nothing more thaiL 
a " dark intriguer," as Tytler calls him, we can easily; 
understand why he should be ea^-er to do a favour U> 
the man whom many were ready to receive with acclft' 
mation and to obey with alacrity. 

It thus appears that, even mlmittiug that ha 
returned in July, 1543, there is no ground for 
holding that the Reformer was specially iiitimatn 
with CVichtoue and his associates ; that, on the con* 
trary, the facts support the opposite condnsion. This 
being so, the only basis that remains for the accusa- 
tion is the name; the Seottishman was called "Wysliert", 
and the martyr was called "Wishart." a slender aud 

CKOh'GE l!'fS//.1/rr. 40T 

insufficient basis surely 1 Ilespite Hurtoii's sneer it 
may with force be urged that there were otlier 
" Wisharts," even other " Geor^je Wisliarts," in Scotland 
at that period ; and it may be aiiiled that tlie designa- 
tion of the Keformer was " Maister " George Wiahart, a 
designatioii that would scarcely have been omitted in 
a letter from the " I,arde of Tlriinstone " to tlie King 
of England. 

There are, however, other considerations of a positive 
kind that may be adduced in support of the conten- 
tion that the Scottiahman Wyshurt was not the future 

A man's character may with justice be appealed to 
iu deciding such a point as that under discussion ; and 
Wialiart's character is known to us. It is presented in 
detail by Tylney, and his portraiture suggests a tempera- 
ment far enough removed from deeds of violence. But 
we are not dependent on the warm eulogy of a devoted 
pupil; we have many indications of his disposition in 
his conduct. On all occasions he oppo-sed strenuously 
the use of force either on his own Ijebalf or on behalf 
of the cause he had at heart. During Ids stay in 
Ayrshire, he moi-e than once prevented a riot 
by dissuading his friends from breaking into the 
whurches that were closed against him. And when 
the assassin was caught by him in Dundee, and would 
have been visited with swift and severe pimishment 
by the enraged congregation, he pleaded on his behalf, 
nay, positively forbade them, to lay hands on him : 
and he did so fully aware that this same man might, 
in a few days, be employed and be willing to act in 
the same capacity. Indeeil. all that we 1 
Wiahart testifies to a spirit the very opposite of that 



which woiiUl be implifii in active participation in a 
conspiraey to commit miiMer, even according to the 
ethical code of the sixteenth century ; hia whole action 
and bearing spoke of a tender and peaceable disposi- 
tion ; alike in word and in deed he breathed the spirit 
of Him who said, " Pnt up again thy sword." 

But there is another aiw;umeat tliat may to some 
minds carry greater weight tlian tliat juat nrged. It 
is, tliat Wisharl was not the kUid of man to be used as 
a confidential messenger in connection with a con- 
spiracy, not even the kind of man likely to be admitted 
to the knowledge of a plot by those concerned in 
it. Tliis is the view that is supported by the 
record of liia career which we possess. What does 
Hill Burton say of hiin ? He says, " He had little or 
none of the political activity and worldly sagacity of 
John Knox." In this he is right, and yet he does not 
hesitate to declare that this man, devoid of " political 
activity and worldly sagacity," was entrusted with a 
secret and important proposal, nay, was the centre, the 
binding thread, the heart and soul of the group whence 
the communication emanated ! To my mind it would 
be much more in harmony with the circumstances lo 
say that, recognizing the simplicity and purity of 
Wishart's character, the conspirators were careful to 
hide from him the design they had formed and were 
seeking encouragement to carry out. 

Another aigument on the same side may be ilrawn 
from the silence of John Knox on the whole subjecU 
Had Wiahart been in East Lotliian in April, 1544, ns 
ho must have been if he were the Scottiahuian called 
" Wyshert," Knox must have been aware of it, for he 
was then tutor at Longniddry and Ormiston ; or, bad 


he later hatl anytliing to do witli the plot, Knox eoiild 
not have lieen igniirimt of it. But lie says nothing 
about it in his Historj- ; and there was no reason at all 
why he slionid not have stated everything he knew con- 
cerning it. He does not think or speak with horror or 
regret of the murder ; he writes of it with a savage 
glee that somewhat offends us as we read his recital nf 
the details. Tytler says, and says truly, that " he con- 
sidered the deed justifiable and praiseworthy." Had 
he, then, been aware of the plot and of Wishart's 
alleged connection witli it, he would most undoubtedly 
have mentioned them. His silenee proves that he 
was not, and this ignorance can mean only one or 
other of two things ; either that Wishart had nothing 
to do with it, or that lie had to do with it but 
that his connection with it was kept secret from 
Knox. And the latter supposition seems to me 
to be a simple impossibility. If Brunstone and 
his associates felt it needful to conceal the matter 
from Knox, who, tliough he had yet taken no part 
in political matters, waa thoroughly cajKiVile of under- 
Standing these, how much more ueeiiful must they 
have felt it to be to conceal it from Wishart, who was 
without guile. Without hesitation I accept the former 
alternative, and regard tlie Refoniier's innocence as 
fiilly and conclusively established, 

WisharC left no original work, and the parts of his 
sermons that have come down to us are too fragmen- 
tary to enable us to discover Jus standing gromid. 
Fortunately, however, when on tiie Continent, lie 
executed a translation of the Helvetic Confession, 
and from his having done so we may infer with 
Wirtainty that in it we have an accurate expression 



■>l' liis ilrx'triiiHl jiosition. A atuily nf it praves Iiiiii to 
have lieen iii substantinl agreeuienl with Hjviuiltoii. 
in mlvnnce of him mily in fulness and aticuraey of 
fltatenient. He has considered " the yacrameiits," " the 
Cunstitiition and Power of the Church," " the C'hosyngo 
and Duties of Ministers and OfBcera," and other such 
matters not dealt with in " Patrick's Places," not 
raised, indeed, when that work was pnhlished. Wish- 
art has only kept pace with the Protestant Churches 
abroad in their efforts to develop and apply Scriptoral 
principles, and of the two main lines along which this 
effort moved he chose the Reformed rather than the 
Lutheran. In making this choice he prepared the 
way for his great successor, who was to carry forward 
the work of reform, and to present to Scotland a com- 
plete and carefullj- aiTangeil system of Divine truth. 

At Dundee he expounded the " Epistle to the 
Itnuians," and the selection of this part of the New 
Testament aa tlie subject of exposition confirms the 
lielief that in the " Confession " we have a true reflection 
of hia creed. This being so, we need not be surprised 
that lai^e congregations flocked to hear him, and that 
his preaching was with power. For bia work the 
country had been undergoing preparation. Since 
Hamilton taught, the Scriptures Iiad been widely cir- 
cidated ; men's minds had been directed to the truth ; 
dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements had heeu 
deepening : the people were ready to listen with joy to 
the Evangel when it was proclaimed, and proclaimed it' 
was hy Geoi^e Wishart. 

(rod took the workmen, but He continued the 
work. PatricU Hamilton and Geoi^e "VVishart were 
suutclicd away in the beginning of their days, hefort^ 



to liumau view, they had fully entered on their labuurs ; 
hut the good cause did not suffer by their remuval, it 
mther benefited. The firea in wliiehthey perished kindled 
enthusiasm for the Goapel in hearts that previously 
had been cold or lukewann ; and this enthnsiasui 
proved contagious, tciuchinj; with its fervour an ever 
expand in <f circle, and deepen infj in intensity as it 
spread, till it burst forth into fiei'ce tianie. and with its 
glowing heat consumed the falsehood that had been 
permitted to usurp the place of truth. The results of 
Ibis refining process we enjoy. Reeogniiiing their 
™iue, we should lionour highly those who, when there 
were few to applaud or syinpatliize with theii' act of 
self-soerifice, heroically surrendered themselves, tliat 
the spark which was to ignite the mass might he 
struck, or when well nigh extinguished, he fanned into 
bright blaze. When we review the past we should 
not permit ourselves to he so tlazzled hy the glare 
of tlie great conflagration by which the Church was 
purified, as to foi^et the feeble flickerings from which 
it grew. And while we recall and revere those who 
struggled and sufi'orcd, we should emidate them in 
their determination to bold fast only " the faith once 
delivered to the saints." Animated by this spirit we 
shall prove ourselves worthy of such noble ancestors 
as Patrick Ilainiltrjn and (ieorge Wishart. 

John l^itox. 

To tlie east of the White Cart, and about a mile to the 
iKjrtli of Paisley, tlie level plain which skirts the Clyde 
is broken by a rising ground near the summit of which 
stands a farmhouse called to this day the Knock. Here 
in former times was a lairdship, and the owners, as the 
custom was, took the name of their lairdship, and were the 
Knocks of that ilk.^ This, we believe, is the origin of 
the surname Knox, so illustrious in our Scottish annals; 
for it is a long-received tradition that the Reformer's 
" father was a brother's son of the house of Ranfurlie"^ 
— a neighbouring estate in possession of the proprietors 
of the Knock. There is nothing inconsistent with the 
tradition in the Reformer's statement to the Earl of 
Bothwell that his " grandfather, goodsher, and father " 
had served under his lordship's predecessors, and some 
of them had died under their standards;' nay, the 
statement rather confirms the tradition, for it seems to 

^A History of the Shire of Renfrew, by Greorge Crawford 
(1710), pp. 41 and 68. 

2 Life, by David Buchanan, prefixed to his edition of Knox's 
History (1644). 

3 Knox's History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 323. Thin 
and all subsequent references to the History and to Knox's other 
works are to Laing's edition. 


iutUcate that it was only in tlie time of the liefornier's 
grandfatlier that iiia family hail settled in the Lothiaiis. 

The district of which the Knock is the centre is thus 
of singular interest. At Elderslie, nhout two miles to 
the south-west, William Wallace was bom; and King's 
Inch, about two miles to the north-east, was the home of 
the Stewai-ds of Scotland, who became the Royal Family. 
The three great rivera of southern Scotland, the Clyde, 
the Annan, and the Tweed, all rise on the same hiU ; 
and we have a parallel to this in the fact that three of 
the greatest forces in our history had their springs within 
a circuit of a few miles. It is specially striking that 
the ancestors of John Knox and of Mary Stuart should 
have been so near neigbboui-s. Doubtless there were 
old coutendings between the sturdy lairtls of the Knock 
and the powerful founders of Paisley Abbey, to fore- 
shadow the conflicts of a later day between their re- 
spective descendants, the preacher and the Queen, at 

Thoiigh Knox came of a western stock, lie was bom 
in East Lothian — not indeed at the tillage of Gifford 
—though Beza styles him Giffordiens'ts — for that vil- 
l^e did not exist till the latter half of the seventeenth 
century;* but at Giflbrdgate, a suburb of Haddington, 
connectiid with the county-town by the old stone 
hridge across the Tyne. There, in a bouse opposite 
the eastern end of the Abbey Church, Knox first saw 
the light in 1505 — the year in winch Luther entered 
the Auguatinian convent at Erfurt. His mother's 
name was Sinclair, and often in troublous times he 
used that name in signing his letters. 

He received a liberal education in the ancient 
' I^iiig. Knox's Works, vol. vi., Preface, p. xiiii. 


I mimieatu 


ymininai' selioiil of Haddington; and we may proli.'i- 
lily recognize Iiis sensB of iiidelttednesa to that founda- 
tion, iu the provision of the First Book of Discipline, 
that tlie schoolmaster be " siiclie a one as is able, ab 
least, to teauhe grammar and the Latine toung, yf the 
toiiu 1«! of any reputatioun."^ 

At the age of seventeen Knox entered the University 
of Glasgow, ill the "Auualea" of which Lis name appears 
iiiiioug the " Iiicorporati" for the year 1522,' It ia 
jKJseible that his (;h(iif,e of tliia University, instead of 
tliat of St. Andrews, to which a native of Haddington 
would naturally ha\'e gone (Edinburgh not having 
Ixjen fouiide*! till sixty years later), is dne to his family 
i/onnection with the West ; hut it is more probable that 
he was attracted by the fame of Jolin Major, who was 
then Principal and Professor of Philosophy 
Tlieology at CUaJ^gow, If, as some have supposed, lie 
followed Major to St. Andrews, when the Professor 
was transferred to the older seat of learning in 1523, 
there is no direct evidence of the fact. But whether 
iie was a longer or shorter time under him, it hardly 
admits of doubt that he was powerfully influenced by 
liis teaching. Major was a disciple of Ger9on, of the 
University of Paris, the able defender of the liberties 
of the Gallican Church against the absolute authority 
of the Popes ; and in his Commentaries on Petrna 
Lombardua, liis Exposition of St. Matthew, and his 
History of the Scottish Nation, Major comes to the 
same conclusion with regard to the Bishop of 
claim to supremacy and the validity of Papal excom- 
munications as those of which Knox was the vehement 

' Hifltorj, vol. ii. p. 209. 

^ M'Crie'fl Idf e of Knox, Note B. 



assertor ; lie speaks of t.lio mpiu^ity, amhitinii, ami 
worldlincss of popes, cartUnals, and bishops in turiUH 
that might have Imen uaeii hy the Reformer himself; 
and he asserts the right of a iieciple to " depose a kiny 
for his offeuces and exeludB liig family from the tlu'one " 
with a boldness which his pupil hardly sur-passed.' 

No evidence can be found that Knox tonk his 
degree at the University. Indeed, there is evidence to 
the contrary in the fact that when he was a priest he 
was designated " Scldr" John Knox^ — a title given to 
the priesthood as knights of the Pope, but given only 
to those of them who had not the right to the then 
exclusively academic title of " Mr." '^ Since he had 
no degree it is certain that he could not have taught 
philosophy at St. Andrews and improved on the dia- 
lectic of Ilia master, as Beza and Melchior Adam 
say he did.' The fact is that, after we see him as an 
entrant at Glasgow in l;i22, lie disappeai-s front view 
till we have glimpses of him in the garb of the priest- 
hood at the market-cross of Haddington, acting on 
behalf of James Ker in Kamuelstoii, December 13th, 
1540 ; again two years later as one of two lunpires in 

I ' See M'Crie'a Life, Period I. aiiJ Note D ; aud fioss'a Scottish 
History and Literature tu tlie peHud of tbe Befi)rniatioi), pp. 

' We have his own testimony in 1C50 to the fact that he was 

ignorant of Hebrew — " Vindication," Woi'ka, vol. iii.p, 47 — thougli 

he then avows " u. forvent thriat to iiave sum entrance thairin," 

Whether he actjuired this language in middle-life, when it is 

L Iwlieved he learned Greek, we cannot tell. From the many 

I referencea to, and long qucitatioiia from, tlie Hebrew prophets iu 

I hJa writings during bia exiie at Dieppe and Geneva, when he 

had abundant leisure, we are diaposrai to conclude that he did. 

A refereuce to the original in his Sermon on Isaiah xzvi. 13 

IWorks, voL vi. p. 221), preached in 1665, seeroa t« point to this 





Ji dispute regjtrdiuf! a clialder of \ictuBl ; and jet again 
itn 27tli March, 1543, when he sigiieil as notary an 
assignation by Elizabeth Home, Lady Harnmilton of 
Samuelstou,' In the peculiar attestation which he 
affixed to hia signature on this deed — " Testis per 
Cliristum fidelis, cni gloria, Amen " — we have an 
indication that, though still doing duty as a priest, 
he had already embraced the Reformed faith; and we 
have other evidence that it must have been before 
that date, that he came under the influence of one of 
the preachers to the governor, the Eurl of Arran, who 
was then professing the Keformed doctrine. 

Tliis preacher was a Black Friar, named Thomas 
Gnlliannie. C'alderwood tells us that " He was the 
first man from whom Mr. Knox received any taste of 
the truth." * Knox himself testifies that " the man 
was of solid judgment, reasonable letters (as for that 
a^), and of a prompt and good utterance ; his doctrine 
was holsome, without great veheniency against super- 
stition." It would be interesting if we knew more of 
Knox's spiritual father, and of the nature of the teach- 
ing which gave the Eeformer a " taste of the truth." 
We learn from his dying words that it was in the 
17th chapter of St, John's Gospel that he " first cast 
anchor " ; and we can believe tliat the preacher who 
gtiided his earliest experiences, being " without great 
vehemency against superstition," would often choose his 
themes from those chapters of the fourth Evangelist 
wiiicli vehemency has given place to gentleness, as 
of one who lay in Jesus' bosom. Since it was in the 

History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol i. p. 15(!. 



gentleness wliich pervades the upper room that Kuox 
cast aiichur, we must attribute it to the storms he had 
to ride that iie iiianifeated iii his life so much of tlie 
earlier vehemeiicy of St. John, and resembled the Son 
of Thunder more than the reclining disciple. The 
first time we see him openly enlisted on the side of 
l*rotestantism, the vehemency which characterized 
him to the end had already appeared. In 1545, 
when Wishart came to East Lothian, Knox at- 
tached himself to the ferrid preacher, whose life was 
known to he in peril, and carried a two-handed sword 
before him. By tliis time he had become tutor to two 
sons of the Laird of Longniddry, and to a son of the 
Laird of Omiiston ; and when he proposed to go with 
Wishart on the night on which he was taken, Wishart 
said to liim, " Nay, retiuii to your haims, and God 
bless you. One is sufficient for one sacrifice." ^ 

It will be observed that at this period Knox had 
reached his fortieth year. We have a noteworthy 
coincidence in the fact that the destined leader in the 
exodus of his nation from bondage, had attained that 
age before he in any public way identified liimself with 
their struggle. These years of obscurity were the best 
preparation for liw peculiar work. It is not without 
regret that we have been couati-ained to give up as 
iinliistorical the pictures, drawn by the hands of fond 
biographers, of the brilliant young teacher of philosophy 
at St. Antlrewa, surrounded by admiring students and 
eclipsing the reputation of liis master ; but the leas 
romantic labours of a " Rood Priest," with no univer- 
sity distinction and belonging to none of the monastic 
establishments, quietly doing his work according to his 
' Knox's History, vol. i, p. 139. 
3 D 



light — settling diaputcs almut chaJders of victual, sign- 
ing deeds in behalf of bigh-boni ladii?s to whom the 
art of writing was unknown, and then, when the new 
light had dawned upon him, instructing his " bairns," 
"nourishing them in godliness," he called it, in Uie 
chapel of Longniddrj", in pi-esence of eager rustics who 
aime to listen t-n unaccustomed truth- — were after all 
the best training for the part he liad to play, as the 
stem resister of courtly influences tirrayed against the 
Hospel and the liberties of tlie nation, and as the 
legislator for a Church which had to set itself to 
the task of civilizing a rude and barbarous people. He 
was of the people, and by long intercourse with them 
he learned their needs. 

His open adherence to Wishart at last brought Knox 
under the sun'eillanee uf those in authority. He tells 
us that he was " wearied of removing from place to 
place by reason of the persecution that came upcju 
him," and had made up his mind to leave Scotland and 
visit "the schools of Germany" ; but he yielded to the 
solicitation of the fathers of his pupils that he would 
not desert his charge; and so he and the young men,al 
Easter, 1547, took refuge in the Castle of St. Andrews, 
which was held by the conspirators who had avenged 
the martyrdom of Wishart by the slaughter of Cardinal 
Beaton, He sought this refuge in common with a 
lai^ number of the more earnest adherents of the 
Reformation; liecause, since the defection of the Eegent, 
it was the only place in Scotland where they coulii 
safely maintain the profession of their faith. Their 
going there did not necessarily involve approval of the 
deed whicli had been done by those who held the 
stronghold ■ though it is evident, from the terms in 



whieli Kuox wriies of that deed, tliat he did not reckon 
it an aesaBsination, but a vindication of outraged law 
agaiust a notorious offender, who would in ordinary 
course of justice have been put to death, if he had not 
himself had control of the executive authority. While 
fully recognizing the peril of approvuig audi vindica- 
tions, we are unable to share the " extreme pain and 
disgust " with which a recent historian of the Scottish 
Church reads Knox's graphic record of this event. ^ 
Knox could not reasonably be expected to pity Beaton, 
whose hands were red with imiocent blood, and if, as 
was his wont, he saw the comedy that mingled with 
the tragedy of the persecutor's death, we cannot greatly 
blame him. 

Knox's residence in the Castle was very short — ^less 
than four months ; yet during that time he made his 
influence powerfidly felt in the ecclesiastical capital 
and beyond it. The prominence he obtained was not 
of his seeking. He resumed in the chapel of the 
Castle the instruction of his pupils in the Gospel of St. 
Jolm at the point he had reached when he left Loi^- 
niddry, and the garrison and refugees gathered in to 
listen to his teaching. Amoiig the listeners were John 
Rough, who with Oulliaunie had been one of the Eegent's 
chaplains, and was now preacher in the Castle ; Henry 
Balnaves, a Lord of Session, whose treatise on Justifica- 
tion was so higldy conmiendal by Knox; and Sir David 
Lyndsay of the Mount, satires had done so much 
to prepare the Keformer's way. Tlie two first named 
" perceaving the nianer of his doctrin, begane eaniesthe 
to travaill with liini, that he wold tack the preaching 


place upouii hiiu. But lie utleiiie refuissed, alledgeing 
' that he wold nott lyne whare God had nott called 
him,' meanyiiy that he wold do nothing without a 
liiuchfull vocatiouu." ^ In this ground of refusal we 
recognize the (irat gei-m of that principle wliich has 
provetl so fruitful during all the after liistorj- of our 
Scottish Church — the principle that no one is entitled 
to assume the preaciier's office without the "lawful call" 
of those to whom he is to minister. 

Koufth and Baliiavea took steps to provide the 
necessaiy call. They consulted with Lyudaay, and in 
the plan they devised we see the hand of the Lyon 
King of Ann.s, accustomed to study dramatic efl'eets. 
The scene they arranged can be best described by 
quoting the wonis of Knox himself, whose dramatic 
power waa hardly inferior to that of his foreninner. 
" Thei concluded that they wold geve a charge to the 
said Johnue, and that publiotlie hy the mouth of thare 
preacheai". And so iipoim a certaue day, a sermone had 
of the electioun of niinisteris, What power the con- 
gregatioun (bow small that ever it waa, passing the 
nomber of two or three) bad above any man, in whome 
thei supposed and eapyed the giftes of God to l>e, and 
how dangerous it was to refuiae, and not to bear the 
voce of such as desyre to be uistnicted. These and 
other headis (we say) declaired, the said .Tohnne l^^wgbt, 
preacliear, directed his words to the said Jolmne Knox, 
saying. "Brotlier, ye shall nott be otfended, albeit that I 
speaic unto yow that wliich I have in chaise, evin from 
all those tliat ar heai- present, which ia tliia: In the naiiif 
of Clod, aud of his Sone .lesiis Christ, and in the name of 
these that presenthe c-alles yow by my mouth, I charge 
' HisUiry, voL i. p 186. 


w, that ye refiiise nut this holy vocatioim, but that 
as ye tender the glorie of God, the eucrease of Christ 
hia kingdome, the edificatiouii of yonr hrethrene, and 
tlie conforte of me, whome ye understand weill yneuch 
to be oppressed by the multitude of lahouris, that ye 
tak iipoim yow the pubKct office and charge of preacliing, 
evin as ye looke to avoid Uoddia heavye tUspleasur, and 
disyre that he shall nniltiplye his graces with yow.' 
iVnd in the end he said to those that war present, 
' Was not this your charge to ine ? And do ye not 
approve this vocatioun?' Thei answered, 'It was; and 
we approve it.' Wliairat the said Johnne, abashed, 
byrst furtli in moist abuudand tearis, and withdrew 
iiimself to Ms chalmer. His eonteanance and behave- 
our, fra that day till the day that he was compelled to 
present himself to the publict place of preaching, did 
sufficiently declair the greaf and tnible of Ids hearte ; 
for no man saw any sign of loyrth of Iiim, neyther yitt 
had he pleasur to accumpany any man, many dayis 
togetther." ^ 

The scene is memorable and instnictive. It is the 
way of prophets thus to slu'ink from the speaking of 
God's Word, aud from tlie baptism with which they 
are baptized who speak it faithfully. "Who am I 
that 1 should go ? I am not elotiuont, but I am slow 
of speech." "I am a man of unclean lips." "All, 
Lord God 1 behold I cannot speak, for I am a child."^ 
By and by the Word, from speaking which they at 
first shrink, is in their hearts as a burning fire shut up 
in their bones, and they are weary with forbearing 
and they cannot stay, -Very soon it was so with John 

1 History, vol. i. pp. 186-8, 

* Moses, Isaiah, Jereiaiah. 



Knox. "Tlie necessitie that caused hira to enter in 
the publict place, besytlis the vocatioun foirsaid," was 
the position taken up by " Deane .Tohne Annan (a 
rottiii Papist)." To a man of apostolic spii-it, not only 
a great door and effectual, but many adversaries, are 
needed to constitute an irresistible coll, Annan, 
Knox tells us, having long troubled Rough in liis 
preaching, and being beaten in argument at last in the 
parish kirk of St, Andrews, fell back on the authority 
of the Clmrch, " which authoritie (said he), damned nU 
Lutherianes and heretikes ; and tliai'efoii- he nedith no 
farther diaputatioun." This was more than Knox could 
bear, and so on tlie following Sunday he momited the 
pulpit and chose hia text from the prophecy of Daniel, 
concerning the other king who should arise, and "speak 
great words against the Most High and should wear out 
the saints of the Most High." Haidng " aufficientlia 
declared " three heads of positive truth, " he entered to 
the contrar," and hurled argument and invective against 
the Papacy — showing that its doctrine and its laws 
alike are " contrare to ChrLtt," and that therefore it is 
Anticliriat; and he closed by addressing a cliallenge to his 
audience, in which were his old master John Major, the 
Uaiversity, the sub-prior and many canons, with some 
friars black and grey, to controvert his argument if 
they could. 

The delivery of this, John Knox's first sermon, 
marks an epoch in the history of Scottish Beformation. 
His hearers recognized that it did so, for some of them 
said. " Otheris sued the branches of the Papistrie, but 
lie sttj'kis at tlie roote to destroy the hole." It was 
tnie. Other leaders of the Reformation came slowly 
nud sorrowfully to the conclusion that the system of 



Popery, the eiTors and defects of which they would fain 
have corrected, was itself essentially evil, and that no 
reform short of uprootal would avail. The aasertion of 
this was the very hi-at public utterance of our clear- 
eyed, practical Scottish Reformer. 

The excitement produced by the sermon culminated 
in a public disputation, in which Knox held hia own 
against Wynrarae, the sub-prior, and Arbuckle, a Pran- 
ciscan, whom in the end Wyurame found rather an 
inconvenient ally, for when they were driven from 
Scripture to Scripture by the remorseless logician, the 
friar " whill be wanderis about in the myst, he faUes in 
a fowll myre ; for alledgeing that we may nott be so 
bound to the woord. he affirmed that the Apostles Iiad 
not receaved the Holy Ghost, when tbei did write tliare 
epiatles ; but after thei receaved lum, and then thei did 
ordeyn the Ceremonies." The anb-prior deemed it 
necessary to wash hia hands of that ai^ument ; the 
friar was fain to flee to the authority of tlie Church ; and 
when Knox, summarizing in a sentence the funda- 
mental position of the Reformation, repHed, " That the 
spouse of Christ had neither power nor authority against 
the word of God," his opponent exclaimed, " If so ye will 
leave us no kirk ; " and Knox, with the humour with 
which tliia healthful soul nevei' failed to lighten grave 
debate, answered, "Indead in David I read that thare is a 
Church of the malignantis, for he sayis, Odi ecclesiam 
'nudigna'niium. That church ye may have without the 

Though the authorities took care that Knox should 
not preach a^n on a Sunday, but confine his ministra- 
tions to week-days, the effect of the Beformer's teaching 
was such that not only all the refugees in the Castle 



but many of the inhnbitaata o£ the to\vu openly pro- 
fessed the Kefonned faith. Towards the end of July a 
French fleet cast anchor in the hay, the siege by land 
waa made more stringent, the plague broke out in the 
garrison, and by the last day of the month the Castle 
had capitulated, and Knox, in flagrant violation of the 
terms of capitiilation, found liimself chained to the oar 
as a galley-slave. For nineteen weary months, tlirough 
winter cold and summer heat, now on French rivera 
and now on the open sea, did he toil uu ; but nothing 
could break his spirit. He and his companions, though 
" threatened with tormentia yf thei wold not give rever- 
ence to the Messe," stood firm. When the S(dve Jicffina 
was sung " the hole Scotishmen putt on thare cappes, 
thare hoodis, or such thing as thei had to cover thare 
headia " ; and on one memorable occasion " a paynted 
brod (which thei called ' Nostre Dame ') was brought in 
to he kissed, and, amongis otheris, waa presented to 
one of the Scotishmen then cheyued. He gentillye 
said, ' Truhle me nott ; such ane idole is accursed ; and 
tharefoir I will not tuich it,' The Patron and the 
Arguesyn, with two officeris, having the cheaf chai^ 
of all such materis, said, ' Thow salt handill it ; ' and 
so they violentlie thrust it to his face, and putt it 
betwix his handis ; who, seeing the extremitie, took the 
idole, and advisitiie looking about, he caist it in the 
rivare, and said, 'Lett our Lady now saif liirself: sehe is 
lycht aneuch; let liir leanie to awyme.' After that was 
no Scotish man ur^ed with that idolatrie.'" Though 
Knox modestly conceals his name, no one can doubt 
that it was he who wrought this happy deliverance for 
his fellow -captives. By wasting fever he was brought 
'History, vol. i p. B27. 



to tlie very gates of death ; yet he never lost heart or 
hope. Once when the gaEeys were lyinjj hetween 
Dundee and St. Andrews he, thougii he was " bo ex- 
treamlye sick that few hoped Ida lyeff," said cheerily, " I 
see the stepill of that place, wLare God first in publict 
opened my mouth to his glorie, and I am fiillie per- 
suadetl, how weak that ever I now appear, that I shall 
nott departe this lyif till that my toung shall glorifie 
his godlie name in the same place." He never during 
the dark days of his servitude forgot his " best beloved 
brethren of the congregation of the Castle of St. 
Andrews." His first literary effort, like liis first 
sermon, was for their helioof. It was an essay intro- 
ductory to a treatise written by Heni'y Ealnaves in 
his prison at Eoiien, oil the Eefbnnation doctrine of 
Justification, which Knox deemed sn valuable that 
he sent it home to Scotland, accompanied with a 
summary of it wliich he made in the form of a 
Confession of Faith. 

During these months matters were going ill in Scot- 
land for the cause of reformation. The EngUsh Pro- 
tector, Somerset, who had weakly abandoned the garri- 
son of St. Andrews to theii" fate, and thus let the 
firmest upholders of the English alliance he made exiles 
and prisoners, resolved on an invasion to enforce the 
fulfilment of the engagement, into which tlje Scottish 
Parliament had entered, for the marriage of their young 
Queen to King Edward VI. He entered Scotland at 
the head of a great army, attended hy a fleet, and 
gained at Pinkiecleugh a victorj', which proved more 
disastrous than any defeat to the pohcy he sought to 
further. He awakened the spirit of Bannockbum ; and 
the whole Scottish nation. Catholic and Protestant, 



Highlander and Lowlander, united to maintain the 
independence of their coimtrj- against their " auld 
enemies " of England. They were thus thrown into 
the arms of France ; and finally at the Convention of 
Haddington, when the Eegent Arran had been bribed 
by the Duchy of Chatelheraiilt and a pension of twelve 
thousand crowns, it was arranged that Mary should be 
at once transferred to France as the affianced bride of 
the liaiiphin. It is of interest to note that the galley. 
of whicii Knox was one of the rowers, was in the fleet 
sent to support the besiegers of Haddington, but whose 
admiral, whenever the Convention was over, weighed 
anchor and, sailing by the Orkneys, came to Dumbarton, 
and taking Mary Stuart on hoard conveyed her to 
Brest ; " and so," says Knox, " was she sold to go to 
France, to the end that in hir youth she should drink 
iif that lycoiu', that should remane with hir all 
hir lyfetyme, for a plague to this realme, and for 
hir flnall destructiouu," This took place in June, 

Early the following year Knox obtained his liberty ; 
but the way not being open for his retiim to Scotland, 
he sfjught asylum in England and was appointed 
preacher at Berwick. There, and over all the North, 
in which till now the old doctrines had been compara- 
tively undisturbed, it was speedily recognized that a 
man whose word Wiis with power had appeared. Ton- 
stall, Bishop of Durham, took alarm at his bold denun- 
ciation of the Mass, and summoned liim before the 
Council of the North for Public Affairs in April, 1550. 
Knox at once obeyed the summons and delivered in 
presence of the Bishop and his doctors, with the whole 
Council, his famous " Vindication," beginning with the 



words, " This clay I do appeir in your pveseiioti, Honour- 
able AudientMi, to gif a reasoue why so constantlie I do 
ftffimie the Mass to be, and at all times to Itaif been, 
Idolatrie, and aborainatioiui befoir God."^ From the 
moment these words were spoken it was evident that a 
new force was about to make itself felt in the English 
Reformation. Till now, in the history of tliat move- 
ment, men had not been accustomed to so clear and 
unfaltering utterance. And the speaker, who main- 
tained his thesis with keen logic, varied scholarship, 
scathing satire and deep-toned earnestness, was soon 
tTansfen'ed to Newcastle, aa a wider and more influentinl 

At the close of the year 1551 he was appointed 
one of the eliaplains to King Edward VI. ; and in that 
h^h position he exercised large and enduring influence, 
not only as a royal preacher going ixom place to place 
kindling men's hearts by hia burning words, but as 
one officially consulted in the revision of the Prayer 
Book and iu the framing of the Articles of Belief. By 
his influence an important change was made in the 
Communion service, aa it appeared iu the revised edition 
of the Prayer Book which was issued in 1552, and a 
rubric was introduced explaining that by the act of 
kneeling no adoration of the bread or wine was meant, 
"for that were idolatory to be abhorred of all faithftill 
Christians." It was unquestionably to Knox that 
Dr. Weston alluded when, in his disputation witli 
Latimer at Oxlbrd in 1554, he said, "A runnagate 
Scot dyd take away the adoration or woralupping of 
Christ in the sacrament ; by whose procurement that 
I put into the last Communion Booke : so 
1 Works, vol. iii. p. 33. 



nmcli prevailed that one nian's authority at that 
tyme." ' 

We have abundant evidence of " how painfullie and 
powerfully," as Calderwood expresses it, the Scottish 
Itefonner laboured in England. It waa arranged that 
in a^ldition to their service at the Court, King Edward's 
chaplains should go among the churches in the varioua 
districts of the country. Accordingly we find Knox 
now a Court preacher nnd now an itinerating evan- 
gelist. In the fonner of those positions he was bold 
and fearless. He tells us that in his last sermon be- 
fore the King, " and even to the faces of suche as of 
whom he ment," when preaching from the text, "He 
that ealeth bread with me hath liftetl up his heel 
against me," he " made tliis affirmacion. That com- 
monlye it was sene, that the most godly pi-inces hadde 
officers and chief counseilours most ungodlye, con- 
jumed enemies to Gnddes true religion and traitours 
to their princes." After illustrating his affirmation by 
reference to Achitophel and Shebna, who "had hyglie 
offices and promociona, with great authoritie, under the 
nioste godly princes David and Ezeehias," and to 
Judas, who " was purse-maister with Christ Jesus," he 
held the mirror up to three great officers of the State, 
by adding, "What wonder ia it, then, that a yonge 
and innocent kinge be deceived by craftye, covetouse, 
wycked and ungodly counselours ? I am greatly afrayd 
tliat Achitophel be counsailer, that Judas beare the 
purse, and that Sobna be scribe, comptroller, and 
treasurer." Knox has supplied us with the means of 
knowing that by " Sobna " he meant to indicate the 

'Fose'a Acts and Monuments, vol. ii. p. 1388, wl. 1576, quot«il 
by Ifling. Knox's Works, voL iii. p. 80. 


s of Wiuclieater (Sir WUliaio Paulet), who was 
successively Comptroller, Secretary, and Lonl Treasurer 
to Edward VI., and that hy "Achitophel" he meant 
the Duke of Noithmnberland.^ In lookuig back on 
liis work in England from amid the gloom of hia exile, 
Knox lamented that he had " in the hegyniiyng of this 
battell appeired to play the faynt-heartit and febill 
Bouldeour," ^ and that he " was not so fervent in rebuk- 
ing manifest iniquitie " as it became him to have been.' 
But if this be a fair specimen of his style of preaching 
it is difficult to see any good ground for the self- 

In the passage we have last quoted he uidicates one 
reason why he was dissatisfied with the retrospect of liis 
work. He says : " In preaching Chmtes Gospel .... 
the love of frendes and carnal affection of some men 
with whom I was most familiar, allured me to maie 
more residence in one place than in another, liaviiig more 
respect to the pleasure of a fewe than to the necesaitie 
of many." It is probable tliat he here alludes to the 
fact that even after liis appointment to the chaplaincy 
he spent much of his time in Newcastle, where his 
ministry was so powerful that large numbers of his 
fellow-countrytaen were drawn across the Border.* 
Tliis could not but be pleasing to the exiled Scot, and 
possibly kept Inm longer in the north than be would 

'A FaythfoU Admonitiou — Works, vol. iii. p]>. 281-3, and'a Note. Froude'a History, cli. 29. 

* An Expoaitioii of tlve Sixth pBaliu. Works, vol. iii. p. 154. 

* Faytiifull Admonition, p. 270. 

'It seems reaeoiiaLle to recognize in the Htrengtli which the 
Presbyterian Cliurch haa always maintained in Newcastle a 
result of Knox's ministry ther& 



" lia\e rtiuaiuul But tlie nurtheni luca- 
lion hatl a j et ""trdugtr attraction. When he 
first visited England and was preaching in Berwick, 
he met Marjorj Bowes daughter of tlie Captain 
of Norham Castle, and Rrand-daughter of Sir Robert 
Bowes of Streatlam, and of Sir Rodger Aske of Aske. 
The inotlierly kinthieas of good Mrs. Bowes, and the 
maidenly love of her daughter, mnst have been 
peculiarly sweet to tlie liberated galley-slave, who for 
at least nineteen months had known no gentle ministry, 
and so Marjory won his heart. Newcastle was 
convenient Imse of operations for prosecuting his suit ; 
and in 1553, in spite of the opposition of her father, 
Marjory became his affianced bride. 

Whatever waa the secret of hia preference for 
Newcastle, it was not pleasing to the great magnate of 
the northern shire. The Duke of Northumberland 
wrote a letter, dated 27th October, 1552, to Secretary 
Cecil, strongly recommending that Knox should he ap- 
pointed to the vacant Bishopric of Eochester, While 
naively hinting " tliat he would not only be a whetstone 
to quicken and sharp the Bishop of Canterbury, whereof 
he hath need; but he would be a great confounder of 
the Anabaptists lately sprung up in Kent," the Duke 
was honest enough to assign as his second reason that 
"he should not continue the ministration in the North"; 
and for his third, that " tlie family of the Scots, now 
inhabiting in Newcastle chiefly for his fellowslup, 
woidd not continue there, wherein many resorts unto 
them out of Scotland, which is not requisite." ' It does 
not appear whether Knox was actually offered the 
vacant bishopric ; it is certain that he would not have 
' TytleHs E.!wBrrl VI., etc., voL iu p. 142. 


accepted it, for the Duite of Nortlnimlierlandj who Iwd 
an interview with him on the subject found him 
"neither grateful nor pleasable," but a little disposed to 
indicate an opinion which, as we have seen, he after- 
wards indicated more publicly, that the Dnke was " a 
dissembler in relifjiou." While f;]adly serving the 
Lliurch of England as a preacher, he did not, on 
account of his objection to the polity and ritual of that 
Cliurch, feel free to accept even of an oi-dinaiy bene- 
fice. He was not only offered the living of AU-haUowa 
in London, but summoned before the Privy Council 
and dealt with because he refused it. Among other 
difficulties in the way, kneeling at the Lord's table was 
discussed, and the interview between him and the 
Lords of Council had this characteristic ending ; 
" They were sorry to know him of a contrary 
mind to the common Order. He answered that be 
was more sorry that a common Order sbouM iio con- 
trary to Christ's institution." ' 

During the years of Knox's ministry in England the 
sweating sickness — the records of whose ravage'^ 
mingle with all the history of the Reformation — was 
desolating the land. Its presence must have given 
peculiar power to the words of doom spoken by this 
Court preacher ; the biu-den of whose message was the 
judgment surely coming. His keen grey eye had 
looked into the face of the young King, and had read 
the writing there which foretold an early death ; it had 
looked into the characters of his chief councillors, and 
had seen that most of them were " dissemblers in 
religion," who, when Edward was gone, would transfer 
their allegiance to Mary and turn against the Refor- 
' Calilerwood'a MS, History, quoted by laing. 



mittirjii ; and so he paaaed tlirowgh the IttUti like a 
prophet, calling on men to regard the time of their 
merciful visitatiou ami to cast out the evil leaven 
wliich remained in the C'hureli. He learnt to love 
the couutry which he served so faithfully, and after 
he was driven from it he writes thus : " My dailie 
praier ia for the sore afflicted in those quarters. Som- 
tyme I have thought that impossible it had bene, so 
to have removed my affection from the Realme of 
Scotland, that eny Kealme or Nation eoulde luive been 
equall deare unto me. But God I take to recorde in 
lay conscience, that the troubles present (and appearing 
to be) in the Iteahne of England are double m{ffe 
ilolorous unto my hert than ever were the troubles of 
Scotland." ^ 

Though he foresaw the changes which would inevit- 
a.bly follow the King's death, he still hoped the best. 
Edward died on 6th July, 1553, but the Reformer 
continiied his labours till October, drawing large con- 
gregations, which he exhorted to steadfastness, and 
using a form of prayer in which these petitions occur: 
" Illuniinate the harte off oiu: Soveraigne Lady CJuene 
Maiie with pregnant giftes of thy Holy tlhoste, And 
inflame the hartes of her Counsayl with thy trew feare 
and love. Represse thou the pryde of those tiiat wold 
rebelle ; and remoi^e from all hartes the contempte of 
thy Worde." This form was published, with a "De- 
claration of the true nature and object of Prayer,"' 
which gives a clear exposition of the Reformation doc- 
trine on the subject, sounds the Protestant watchword 
that " the haill earthe creatit be God is eq^uallie holie," 

' All Expoaitiim of the Sixtli Psaliri. Works, vol. iii. p. 13.^ 

" Works, vol. iii. p. 77. 




and yet " condempiieth all sic as contempnetli the 
congr^atioun gatherit in his name." At last the 
preacher was put to aiience, and amid the increasing 
horrora of persecution the prayer for the Queen would 
have seemed a mockery. Early in 1554, Knox con- 
sented to seek a refuge abroad and landed at Dieppe, 
where he lingered for a month, writing his Exposition 
of the Sixth Psalm and his "Godlie Letter too the 
feyethfuE in London, NewcaateE, Barwyke, &c," both of 
which had been begun in England. The fonner was 
addressed to his future mother-in-law, Mrs. Bowes. Of 
this good lady Knox says : " Her company to me was 
comfortable (yea, honorable and profitable, for she 
waa to me and myne a mother) ; but yet it was not 
without some croce ; for besydes trouble and fasherie 
of body susteyned for her, my mynde was seldome 
q^uyet, for doing somewhat for the comfort of her 
troubled conseienci!." ^ She was a woman of a sor- 
rowful countenance. " Sathan did continually buffette 
her that remission of sinues in Clmst Jesus apperteyned 
nothing unto her."* She was haunted with feara that 
she had sinned the sin unto death for which there is 
no forgiveness ; ^ and with suspicions lest Knox and 
others should jndge her not to be one of their number.^ 
The Reformer was constantly receiving letters from 
her, " the piteous complayntis whairof pierced his 
heart," * but he was very sympathetic ajid rarely lost 
patience. He turned her case to good account for the 
help of others. He tells her on one occasion that the 

^ Preface to Letter puliliahed in 1572, with his Answer to 
Tyrie, Works, vol. vi. p. 514. 

* Ibiti. 3 Letters— Works, vol iii. p. 369. *Ibid., p. 370. 
'Ibid., p. 376, 



very instant her letter came he was dealing with " thria 
honest pure women " who were similarly atllieted, to 
whom it was a comfort to hear of her trouble. ' It is 
very heautifnl to see this mau who chid rulers and 
moulded natioiial histories occupying hiiiwelf with the 
doubts and fears and spiritual sorrows of trembling 

The " Oodlie Letter," which is subscribed as " From 
ane snro trubillit heart upon uiy departure from Dieppe 
whither God knaweth," is a most urgent appeal tft 
resist the defections of the time and not to shrink from' 
the sufferings involved in faithfulness. After writi 
it Knox visited Geneva and the Swiss churches, con- 
sulting the bretliren there as to certain politico-religiouft 
question.^,* of some of which we shall hear presently. 
His intercourse with like-minded men, and especially 
with the master-mind of Calvin, seems to have revived 
hia heart, for the " Two Comfortable Epistles ° which, 
after his return to Dieppe in May of the same year, 
he addressed to the sufferers in England, breathe a very 
different spirit from the gloom and sadness of the 
" Godlie Letter." They are full of light, and of antici- , 
pation of victory for the cause which was meanwhile J 
passing through its baptism of blood and fire. These I 
epistles were followed in July by the " Faythfull ' 
Admonition," which is based on the Gospel story of 
the Disciples in the storm and of Christ coming to 
them. It was written with the double object of strength- , 
ening the English Protestants and of protesting against \ 
the marriage of the Queen with Philip of Spain. Ita ( 

' Letters — Works, vol. iii, p. 379. 
'Certain Queations concerning Obediei 
i. p. 217. 

, etc — Works, to). 



tone is uii con iproini sing, and its language strong iigniuat 
Mary and her creatures, Gardiner, Bonner, and Tonstall; 
but its tenderness and its faith that all will come right 
are even more noteworthy than ita invective, though 
that is 80 strong that it is said to have stimg the 
Queen into frenzy, and thus to have hastened the 
death of Ridley and Latimer. 

The moat interesting feature of all these letters, 
epistles, and admonitions, is their application of ancient 
Scripture to the actual world of the writer's tima The 
long-sealed Book had been opened, no longer to furnish 
the tiny portions read in strange language and un- 
natural tone as part of a pompous ritual ; but to be 
studied as a true guide of life, in which men may iind 
their politics as well as their religion, and to be used 
as an armoury from which they may draw weapons 
for the battle of truth and righteousness in whatever 
land or age it baa to be fought. This manner of using 
Scripture was cboi-acteristie of Knox to the close. In 
the pulpit of St. Gdes, in his interviews with the 
Queen at Holyiwid, and in Iiis conferences with the 
Lords of her Coiincil, he freely quoted the facts of 
Hebrew history and the Iniming words of Hebrew 
prophecy when denouncing Mary and her flatterers. 
"Thay wer singular motiotmis of the Spirit of God," 
said Maitland of Lethington at one of the conferences, 
" and appertene nothing to this our aige." To whom 
Knox replied, " Then hes the Scriptour far dissavit me, 
for Sanct Paule teichis me that ' whatsoevir is wrj'ttin 
within the Holie Scriptouris, the same is \vrittin for our 
instructioim.' And my Maister said, that ' eveiie 
and wyise scribe bringis furth bis tresour baith thingis 
auld and thingis new.' " 



, ICnox, ■ 

I ill the interval 
gone back to Geneva, accepted an invitation to become 
the pastor of a congregation of English exiles in Frank- 
fort. We cannot here enter on the details of the un- 
happy disputes betweeB him and some zealous ritualists 
who insiated on the use of those forms which, as we 
have seen, were so distasteful to liim. His opi>oneuts in 
this congregational dispute were so bitter agaiuat him 
that thej denounced their pastor to the mt^stratea a^ 
having in hia references to the royal marriage in the 
" Faythfull Admonition " east reflections on the Em- 
peror, the father of Philip of Spain. Knox was 
constrtuned to leave the city, and in March, 1555, be 
returned to (leueva. 

Meanwiiile the way was being opened for his visit- 
ing Scotland, Events, in themselves untowai-d, had 
been over-ruled for the furtherance of the caiise of 
Reform in that coiintrj'. The death of Edwani, and 
the terrors of the Marian persecution had sent into the 
northern kingdom some of the Eughsh refugees, whose 
teaching, accompanied as it was by stories of the faith- 
fulness of the martyrs and the cruelty of their perse- 
cutors, was influential In evoking sympathy with the 
Eeformed doctrine. The elevation of Mary of Guise to 
tlie Eegency was intended by the Cardinal of Lorraine 
to strengthen the French alliance, aud in the end to 
crush the CAUse of Protestantism, This intention was 
clearly discerned by the Proteatajits. Knox, in record- 
ing how she had " a croime putt upone liir Jiead," adds 
that it was " als seimlye a sight (yf men had eis), as 
to putt a sadill upoun the hack of ane uni'ewly kow. 
But the first effect of her elevation was in the direction 
of religious liberty. Tlie Uuke of Chatelherault, whom 



she siiperaetleil, liatl been entirely under the i 
of his infammts brother the Archbishop of St. Andrews ; 
and it was Mary's poKcy to show herself to some ex- 
tent independent of the clerical party. Knox, who 
never forgot the land of hia birth, and in whom the 
desire to be more dirw^tly identified with the Ohureli 
that was stru^linff into existence there, had probably 
been stirred by his experience of English ritualism at 
Frankfort, resolved to visit Scotland, and left Geneva 
in August, 1555. 

In addition to the public motive which at this time 
drew him to liis native country, he had the natural 
desire to see Ids affianced bride and, if eh-cumstancea 
proved favourable, have Ms marriage cuusimmiateil. 
Indeed, in a letter to Mra. Bowes, he acknowledges 
that God had made her the instrument to draw him 
" from the den " of his own ease. " Yow allane," he 
says, " did draw me from the rest of quyet studie, to con- 
teinplat and behald the fervent tlirist of our brethrene, 
nyght and day sobbing and gronying for the breid of 
lyfe." ' Accordingly, Berwick, which was still the 
home of Mrs, Bowes and her daughter, was liia 
landing-place. He did not linger long there, but 
passed on to EtUnburgh, where he put himself in com- 
munication with those who seemed beat affected to 
the Reformed doctrines. Proniijient among them were 
John Erskine of Dun, and William Maitland of Letli- 
ington, who, attracted by his discourse, brought their 
acquaintances in ever increasing numbers to his lodg- 
ing, so that he had to address them in successive assem- 
blies, and WHS occupied day and night in dealing with 
inquiries after tnitii. 

I Works, vol. iv. p. 217. 


He found that the aiiSierents of the liefonuatioii 
had hitherto deemed it expedient to attend the services 
of the Church of Route. With this temporizing spirit 
Knox could have- uo ajTiipathy, and he set himself 
" alsweall in privj- conference as in doctrine, to schaw 
tlie hnpiete of the Messe, and how dangerous a tiling it 
was to poinnmnicat in an)' sort with idolatrie." His 
remonstrances led to a discussion at a supper-party in 
Erskine's lodging, the i-esnlt of which was that e^'un 
Maitland said : " I see perfytlye that our schiftis will 
serve nothing before God, seing that thei stand as in 
so small stead befoir man." From that time Scottish 
Protestantism occupied a worthier attitude. 

Knox's ministrations were not confined to the me- 
tropolis. He spent a montli at Dun, in Forfarshire, iis 
Lhe guest of Mr. Erskine, and preached daily to the 
neighbouring gentry and their followei"s. He next 
resided at Calder, the seat of Sir James Sandilands, 
where such men as Lord Ei'skine, afterwards Earl of 
Mar ; Lord Lome, afterwards Earl of Argj'le ; and Lord 
James Stuart, afterwards Earl of Murray, waited on liis 
instructions and approved his doctrine. In mid-winter 
he returned for a time to Edinburgh, and after Chriat- 
niae passed to Kyle; a great comet, which men named 
" The fyrie boosome," all the while blazing in the 
heaven.^ In the old seat of Lollardism Knox found 
a specially hearty welcome, and remained for several 
months, preaching in the town of Ayr and in tlie 
country houses of Earr, Camell, Kingyeandeiicli, 

' Hiaton', vol. i. p. 254. We introduce the coniat at tliig ] 
point ou Knox'a authoritj, tliougli thei'e aeeius to he some cm- ' 
maioii in his notice of conteDijrarRueous events ; and it U poBsiI)t(f 
that he aaaigus to this memorable winter a ptienonieuon wliicli 
did not appear till a later date. Vide Laing'a note. 

JOHN KNOX. 439 ' 

Ocliiltree, and Gadgirtli. It seeiu3 to have been in 
AyrahirB that he first took the bold step of admmis- 
teiing the Lord's Supper, according to the Genevau order, 
to those whom he had persuaded no longer to attend 

From Ayrshire he passed into Kenfrewshire — the 
home of his ancestors — where he was the guest of the 
Earl of Glencaim at Finlayston. There, under the 
sombre shadow of a yew tree, amid woods bright with 
fieah buds — for it was " befoir the Pasche," which in 
that year fell on the 6 th of April — he administered 
the Sacrament, giving to the laity the long-forbidden 
wine in silver cups, which in after years were nsed in 
the parish kirk of Kilmalcolm. Besides the Earl and 
his lady, who was a danghtei of the late Regent, two of 
liis sons and certain of his friends " war parttakaris." It 
is pleasant to reaHze the scene, and to picture the guise 
of that little company of Christ's Sacramental host, 
seated on the tender grass, with the motions of the 
spring around them, and the ah' filled with sounds of 
the green-leaved eartL We can well believe that the 
worn exile would he glad, and that as the Sacramental 
hymn was sung, " My saule praise thow the Lord 
alwyes," ^ the words of another song woiild be making 
music in his heart, " Lo, the winter is past, the rtdn is 
over and gone ; the flowers appear on the earth ; the 
time of the singing of birds is come." 

' Thia line does not correspond with any of the known 
veraiona of the 103rd Paahn— which, from the first, was the 
" hyniii" lliey aung in Scotland before the j went oot from the 
table ; but it must have been in use in Knox's time, for in 
the account of the death of Elizabeth Adamson, which he gives 
ill Ilia History, the liue is quoted aa the beginning of the 103rd 
Psalin, which "a litti! befoir hip depaxtuyre" she desired her 
eister to aing. 



Leaving Renfrewshire he ret\imed to Calder, " whare 
iliverae frome Edinburgh, and frome the countrey ahout, 
ijonvened, asweall for the doctrin as tor the rycht use 
of the Loniis Table which befoir thei had never 
practised," We find him next on a second visit to 
Dun, where " the moist parte of the gentihnen of the 
Memse " whom he taught " id grettar Hbertie," having 
asked that they might enjoy the new privilege accorded 
to their brethren in the South, received the Lord's 
Supper at his hands. It was from one or other of 
these places that he wrote to Mrs, Bowes : " The 
trumpet blew the aid souuil thrie dayis together, till 
privat housaia of indifferent largeness ciild not con- 
teane the voice of it. ... ! sueit war the death that 
(iuld follow sic fourtie dayia in Edinburgh, aa heir I 
have had thrie." ^ 

The tidings of the work which the Reformer was 
doing, and of the welcome that was given him by high 
and low in all the districts to which he went, alarmed 
the bishops ; and they summoned him to appear at their 
Convocation in the Church of the Greyfriara, on the 15th 
May, 1556. This assembly, if Knox had stood before 
it, would have at least equalled in interest any subse- 
quent gathering of the clergy in the month of May at 
Edinburgh ; and it was not his faidt that the " dyet 
held nott." He welcomed the opportunity of bearing 
hia testimony and prepared to appear. But the bisliopa 
took fright and, on the Saturday before tlie day ap- 
pointed, cast their summons. Knox came to the me- 
tropolis notwithstanding, and for ten days taught morn- 
ing and afternoon at the Bishop of Dunkeld'a lodgings 
to larger audiences than on hia former visit. 
' Familiar Letters — Worka, vol. iv. p, 218. 


Among those who came to him was the Earl Mari- 
schal, introduced by the Earl of Glencaim. These 
two noblemen prevailed on the Refoimer to address a 
letter to the Queen Regent, urging her, as she loved 
her own salvation, to regard and protect the true re- 
ligion. The letter was written in courtlier style than 
Knox was wont to use, but in matter it was faithful, 
and in spirit deeply earnest. Lord fllencaim under- 
took the ilelivery of the letter, and it was probably he 
who reported to Knox that Mary, after running her 
eye contemptuously down its pages, handed it to the 
Archbishop of Glasgow, saying, " Please you, my lord, 
to read a pasquil." AVho was this bold preacher who 
presumed to lecture her about her soul's salvation and 
her public policy ? Was she not the sister of a car- 
dinal, and had she not her high officers whose duty it 
was to watch for her soul ; and what had the latter 
subject to do with the former 1 She had not been 
studying the Hebrew prophets like Knos, and had not 
learned that the eternal destiny of nJers ia affected by 
the manner in which they rule — that Tophet is or- 
dained of old ; yea, for the king it is prepared : He 
hath made it deep and large. It was not wonderful, 
tlierefore, that she hardly deemed the writing serious 
that spoke to her, on the one hand, of recompense for 
righteous government and for protection of t)ie innocent, 
from Him " who pronounceth mercy to apperteyn to 
tiie mercifull, and proniisetli that a cuppe of cold water 
geven for hys name's sake shfdl not lacke rewarde " ; 
and ou the other hand, of " dejection to torment and 
payn everlasting," as the result of a " i-eguuent and 
using of power " after the manner of " the multitude of 
princes and head rulers." The writing seemed to her 


a pasquil. Her " wciordia eiiim'ng to the earis of the 
aiiid Johne," as he tells us in his History, " was tJie 
occasion that to his letter he made his additionis." 
Two years later, when, in Geneva, he had tidings which 
convinced hiin that she had not only sneered at, hut 
utterly disregarded his warnings. He expanded aud 
published his letter, kindling hia old words as with 
burning fire.' 

Yet another of his writings- — an exposition of the 
Temptation of Christ — belongs to the period of this 
visit to Scotland. It Ijad evidently done duty in some 
of his preachings, for it has all the vividness and life 
of hia spoken utterance. It reveals dramatic powei\ 
The dialogues between our Lord and the Tempter are 
as life-like as his i-eeords of hia own interviews with 
Queen Mary, or of his reasoning with the Ahhot of 

Xnox having received an urgent call to return to the 
Enghsh congregation at Geneva to which he had been 
ministering, and deeming it wiser to retire and let the 
leaven work, left Scotland in July, 15 56, joining Marjory 
Bowes, to whom he was now married, and her mother. 
at Dieppe, whither he had sent them on before him. 
He left behind him a "Letter of wholesome counsel 
addressed to his brethren in Scotland." ^ No sooner 
had he gone than the bishops resumed proceedings 
against him. He was at a safe distance. In the un- 
likely event of his obeying their summons, it was open 
to them as before to execute a retreat on the eve of 
the conflict. If he did not appear, they could condemn 
' Letter to the Queeii Dowager, Hegent of Scotlauil ; and tlio 
Sftnie augnieuted and explained bv the Author. Works, voL iv. 
p. 6» and p. 433. 

> Works, vol. iv. p. 129. 

yOHN KNOX. 443 

hini as coutumacioua. It was this easy triumpli they 
won. They pronounced sentence of excommunication, 
depriving him of his priest's orders, delivering his soul 
to damnation, and his hody to the secular power for 
the punishment of death, The sham sentence was 
followed hy a sham execution. Hia effigy was hnmed 
at the Cross of Edinburgh, Knox tells t!ie story thus ; 
"Me as an heretic and this doctrine as lieretical, have 
your false bishops and luigodly clergy damned, pro- 
nouncing against me a sentence of death, in testification 
whereof they have burned a picture." 

After this cowardly action of the clergy, Knox im- 
mediately addressed " An AppeUation to the Nobilitie 
and Estates of Scotland," in which, iiaving set fortli 
the leading articles of the faith which the clergy had 
condemned, he urges, from manifold Scripture precept 
and example, the duty which lies upon rulers and 
magistrates to protect the upholders of the true faith, 
and to overturn the idolatrous system of the Papacy, 
He makes short work of the objections which he sup- 
poses may be advanced against this use of the secular 
arm. " Seing," he says, " that Moses was so far pre- 
ferred to Aaron that the one connuamided and tlie other 
did obey ; who dar esteme tliat the ci\'ile power is 
now hecomed so prophane in God's eyes, that it is 
sequestred from all intromission with the matters of 
religion ? The Holie Ghost in divers places declareth 
the eontrarie." To Knox the fact that the kingdom 
from which he took his examples was a theocracy did 
not in the least diminish their practical value. He 
held it to be " evident tliat the Eulers, Magistrals, 
and Judges, now in Christes kingdome, are no lesse 
bound to obedience unto God than were those under 



thi- law." ' The battle of freedom is fought bit by 
bit, and the full doctrine of civil and religious liberty 
is only spelled out throng the experience of cen- 

Of that doctrine Knox laid the foundation. At the 
same time as he sent the Appellation to the Nobility 
and Estates, he addressed " A Letter to the Common- 
alty of Scotland,"* in which he pleads with them to 
realize their responsibility in relation to the work of 
reformation. Hia far-seeing instincts taught hiiii that, 
argue as he might from Hebrew precedents of the duty 
of rulers to advance the truth by the power of the 
sword, it is to the sympathy of the people we mnst 
look fur thi! fiu^herance of the righteous cause. It was 
Knox, as we shall see presently, who made the com- 
mons of Scotland a power in the land ; and it was by 
that power that he .defeated the machinations of the 
Court and saved the Eeformation,* 

In addition to those writings there are other two 
belonging to this period which specially refer to 
Scottish affairs- — "A Letter to his Brethren,"* written 
in May, 1557, in answer to an invitation to return ; 
and " A Letter to the Professors of the Truth,"" written 
in December of the same year, when he had found 
it expedient to prolong hia absence, and exhorting to 
patience, courage, and obedience meanwhile to the con- 
stituted authority. During the same time of com- 
parative rest he prepared a form of service for the 

' The Appellation. Works, voL iv. pp. 461-520. 
='A Letter, etc., Ibid., pp. 521-638. 

•The Influence ot the Beformation on Stottiah Character, in 
Froude'a Short Studies, vol i- p. 154. 

■Works, vol, iv. p. 261. " Ibid., p, 276. 

English Cliurch at Geneva. It became the model 
from which his Book of Common Order was framed for 
the Church of Scotland. Knox's fimdamental prin- 
ciple with regard to ritual was that nothing should 
enter iato divine service which has not the authority 
of Scripture. This principle is recognized in the 
Genevan Liturgy by the marginal references to 
Scripture texts in support of each successive clause in 
the various parts of the service. A translatiou, with a 
preface, of an Apology for imprisoned Protestants in 
France/ made when, towards the close of 1557, he 
had, in response to a letter from the Scottish Lords, 
gone to Dieppe on his way to Edinburgh, but was 
arrested by less favourable intelligence ; a long treatise 
on Predestination ; ^ an Epistle and Exhortation to the 
inhabitants of Newcastle and Berwick f Ida share in 
the preparation of the Geneva version of the English 
Bible ; and his world-famous First Blast of the 
Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women * 
— complete the catalogue of his literary labours during 
his Geneva pastorate. 

We can only refer more particularly to the last- 
named of these works. It was written in support of 
the thesis that it is unnatural and unscriptural for a 
woman to reign. In none of Knox's writings is the 
style more vigorous, or the e\'idence clearer that the 
author's whole soul was in the doctrine he promulgated. 
The "Blast" was published early in 1558, and there- 
fore it was probably written when he was in Dieppe 
at the close of the previous year. We can hardly 
wonder at the vehemence with which he maintains 

87. * Ibid., vol, V. p. 7. 
" Ibid., vol. iv. p. 349. 

s ■ 



his thesis. His indignation was stirred by the 
tidings which reached him of the atrocious cruelties 
still perpetrated under Mary of England ; and though 
the Queen Kegent of Scotland was meanwhile restrained 
by considerations of policy from sanctioning severe 
persecution, yet her attitude was one of uncompro- 
mising hostility to the Eeformed faith, and Knox knew 
well that she only bided her time. The massacre and 
imprisonment of French Protestants, in connection with 
which the Apology just referred to was written, had 
taken place under the royal house with which, through 
the marriage of Mary Stuart, Scotland had been brought 
into alliance. The risk of alien influence and foreign 
domination, to which the marriages of female sovereigns 
exposed the countries they ruled, was one of Knox's 
chief grounds of opposition to the "regiment" of 
women. And to a patriotic Protestant it was indeed 
galling that the liberties of England should be laid at 
the feet of the Spaniard, and the liberties of Scotland 
at the feet of the Frenchman. Knox wrote in no 
honied words, but spoke out in the bitterness of his 
soul against all " wicked Jesabels." 

Yet withal the publication of the " Blast " was a 
serious blunder. Its argument is an example of too 
liasty generalization. For once the keen grey eyes 
that so often pierced the future were at fault. Knox 
could not have seen so far down the centuries as to 
forecast the liberty and peacefulness of the reign of 
Queen Victoria ; but if he had been in more hopeful 
mood "the spacious times of Great Elizabeth" need 
not have been wholly hid. That Princess — a Protes- 
tant and a sufferer for her Protestantism — was the 
heir to the English throne, and circumstances made it 



even theu not improbable that she would aooii come to 
it. Had Knox been able to divine what was to be, and 
withheld his ill-tiined " Blast," liis subsequent work in 
Scotland would have been easier than it proved. As 
it was, he had to contend with Elizabeth's bitter resent- 
ment against himself, even when her cleat jndgraent 
told her that the policy to which he exhoited her was 
mse. That resentment extended to his associates at 
Cieneva Calvin, in testimony of his joy at her acces- 
sion, dedicated some of his Commentaries to the English 
Queen, He learned that the act of homage was not 
well received, and had to write to Sir William Cecil 
disavowing all sympathy with the Scottish Reformer's 
position. In hia letter he naavely admits that the 
government of women " was a deviation from the 
original and proper order of nature ; it was to be 
ranked no less than slavery among the puniahmenta 
consequent upon the fall of man." ' 

In December, 1557, at the very time when Knox 
was waiting in despondency at Dieppe, the Protestant 
Lords were subscribing a bond at Edinburgh, and 
renewing their invitation to the Reformer to coma to 
their aid. The letter they addressed to luin did not 
reach Geneva till Noveraber, 1558 — the very month 
in which Mary of England died. Knox prepared to 
obey the summons. Tlie times were hopeful. The great 
door and effectual had been gradually opening, and 
the many adversaries were more decidedly declaring 
theii' hostility. The Protestant Lords had adopted 
measures for establishing the purer worship in all parish 
churches, were taking the few available preachers 
of the Eeformed doctrine under their direct pro- 
'Zlirich Lattere, Second Series, p. 35, quoted by Laing. 


tectiihii, aiiJ wore boldly laying their demands for 
reformation before the (ioveminent. On the other 
hand the (Jueen Kegent was throwing ofl' the 
mask ami encouraging the Primate to do his worst 
against heretics. He waa not slow ro take advantage 
of her changing policy. Having failed to wrest a more 
prominent teacher from the hands of the Earl of 
Ai^le. who had made him his chaplain, he took his 
revenge on an old priest named Walter Mill, who 
had been condemned for heresy in Beaton's time, but 
escaped execution. Discovering his retreat, the 
Primate had him an-aigned before his Court at iSt. 
Andrews. He appeared there bowed with the burden 
of eighty-two years, and worn with a Hfe of hardship 
and of fear ; but hia grey haira moved no pity in the 
churchman's heart, and he was consigned alive to the 
flames on the 28th August, 1558. The"i-eik" of this 
old man's burning proved as infectious as that of young 
Patrick Hamilton. The whole nation was moved 
with horror, thousands crowded to the Eeformed wor- 
ship, and the preachers were emboldened to speak 
God's word and dispense the Sacraments with greater 
publicity than heretofore. The way was clearly open 
for the return of the man who alone was able to give 
coherence to the party of Heform and lead it on to 

Tliough Knox left Geneva in January, 1559, he did 
not reach Edinburgh till May. He waited at Dieppe 
for liberty to pass through England, which Elizabeth 
refused to the author of the " Blast." But the montlis 
he spent in France were not wasted. In troublous times 
men become quick of hearing, and birds of the air 
carry matters of highest import. Knox contrived son: 


Iiow to inform liimseK tlioroughly of the plots which were 
even tbeu being laid to dethrone Elizabeth and destroy 
the Reformation, through the Scottish Queen who waa 
heir presumptive of the English Crown. It is one of 
tlioae strange coincidences of whicb history is full, 
that " the ship in which be crossed carried a seal to 
the Eegent engraved with tbe arms of England, and 
carried with it also in himself the person who, above 
aU others, bafBed the conspiracy and saved Elizabeth 
and the Eeformation." ^ 

When the Eeformer reached Edinburgh a council of 
Churchmen was in seasion. On the morning after his 
landing some one entered tbe monastery of the Grey- 
friars where tliey sat aad announced that John Knox 
bad come. It is said that the panic-stricken clei^y 
stood not upon the order of their going, but dispersed 
in coldfusion. Even if this story be in the letter 
apocryphal,- it is in spirit historically true. The 
ndvent of this aobtary man was at that crisis — and 
Churchmen knew it well — of more moment than if an 
Englisli army liad crossed tbe Border. 

Immediately after he landed, Knox learned that 
the preachers Paul Methven, John Christison, William 
Hadaw, and John Willock were under summons to 
appear before the Justiciary Court at Stirling eight 
days later. He praised God that be had come " even 
in the brunt of the battell," and at once resolved to 
stand by the aide of liis brethren, "be life, be death, 
or els be both, to glorifie His godlie name, who tiius 
mercifully bath beard my long cryea." ^ 

After bis coming, events, eacli one of whidi is a 

'Froude's History, ah. 37. * See M'Crie's note id locd. 
* Letters^Worka, vol. vi. p, 21. 



landmark in the history, followed in rapid succession. 
At a conference in Dundee to which Knox hurried, it 
was resolved "that the whole multitude and number of 
of brethrein sould accompanie their preachers "^ to Stir- 
ling, as before they had threatened to do when the 
summons was to St. Andrews. For that purpose they 
advanced to Perth : and the Laird of Dun went on be- 
fore to apprise the Queen Eegent that the object of 
their coming "was onlie to geve confessioun with thare 
preachearis, and to assist thame in thare just defence."'^ 
The crafty daughter of the House of Guise received him 
with her most winning smile, and gave promise that if 
the Congregation would remain in Perth the sum- 
mons should be "continued till farther advisement." 
Though not without suspicion of guile, the leaders 
deemed it best to accept the assurance. They were 
shamefully deceived. When the 10th of May 
arrived and the preachers did not appear they were 
outlawed and put to the horn : and the gentlemen 
who had become sureties for their appearance were 

The tidings of the Eegent's perfidy reached the 
Congregation the following day. We can well believe 
that Knox would be in his most fervid mood when he 
entered the pulpit and thundered forth God's curse 
against idolatry ; but nothing unusual would have hap- 
pened, for the greater part of the audience had quietly 
dispersed, had not a priest advanced to the high altar, 
and, as if in defiance of the doctrine which had just 
been proclaimed, begun to celebrate mass. A boy cried 
out, " This is intolerable, that when God by His Worde 

1 Letters — Works, vol. vi. p. 22. 

2 History, vol. i. p. 317. 


hittli plauelie daiiiiied idolatrie. we slml! staod and see 
it uaed in despyte." The priest struck the boy, whu 
after the manner of his kind tlirew a stone at his 
assailajit, which miasing its mark shattered to pieces an 
image on the altar. The iconoclastic spirit is infectious, 
and in a few minutes all the madonnas and saints and 
angels and crucifixes in the building were lying on the 
floor broken into a thoiisand fragments. Some one hav- 
ing raised the cry, "To the (jreyfriars," there was a rush 
from the dismantled church, and in a very short time, spite 
of gates and bars, the monasteries of the Grey and Black- 
friars, and the Charter-house — the burial-place of the 
first of the Jameses— were completely wrecked ; " the 
walles onlie did remnne of all these great edificationis." 

Though Knox is careful to exculpate the gentlemen 
and the "' earnest profeasouria " from all share in this 
outrage, which he attributes to " the raschall multitude," 
yet it is not without touches of sympathetic glee that 
he tells, for example, of how "in verray deid the Grey 
Frieris was a place so weall provided, that oneles 
honest men had sein the same, we wold have 
feared to have reported what provisioun tliei had. 
Thare scheittis, blaneattis, beddia, and covertouria wei' 
auche, as no Erie in Scotland hath the bettir. Thair 
naiprie was fyne. Thei wer hot awght personis in 
comment, and yitt had viii punscheonis of salt beafi* 
(considder the tyme of the yeare, the elle\int day of 
Mali), wyne, beare, and aiU, besydia stoare of victuallie 
etfeiring thareto. The lyik hahoundance was uott in 
the Blak Frearia ; and yitt thare was more then becani 
men professing povertie.'" 

Tht! Queen Eegent saw in the riot an opportimity 
' History, vol. i. pp. 322-3. 



for carrying out more boldly than heretofore the French 
policy. She summoned the foreign troops garrisoned 
at Leith, and entirely disregarded the counsels of 
moderation addressed to her by Argyle and Lord 
James Stuart, who were still with her. The news of 
her determination to march on Perth spread like wild- 
fire, and soon Glencaim, at the head of an army of 
two thousand five hundred Westland men, was on his 
way to the defence of the menaced city. The Kegent 
was fain to secure its peaceable surrender by once more 
making promises which she never meant to keep. 

It is at this point that Knox comes to the front as 
the avowed leader of the Congregation. We can trace 
liis hand in the series of manifestoes issued from Perth, 
addressed to the Queen Eegent, to the nobility of Scot- 
land, and to " the generatioun of Antichrist, the pesti- 
lent Prelattis and thare schavellingis," which are in a 
firmer tone and show deeper insight into all the issues 
involved in the conflict, than the documents which had 
been drawn up before his return. Nor did he slirink 
from the responsibilities of leadership. He waited on 
Argyle, Lord James Stuart, and Lord Sempill, who had 
come as Commissioners from the Eegent, and he sent 
to her by them two solemn warnings which, said he, 
" I require of yow, in the name of the etemall God, m 
from my m/Mth, to say unto hir Grace." 

No sooner had the Eegent obtained possession of 
Perth than the terms on which the Congregation had 
surrendered it were flagrantly violated. The mass was 
re-established. Knox, who failed not to see the humor- 
ous side of any incident, tells us that "becaus the 
altaris war nocht so easy to be repaired agane, thay 
provided tables, whairof sum befoir used to serve for 



drunkanUs, djsaris, aaid caiteris ; hot tliay wai' holy 
aneuch for the Preast and his padgetm." A gan-iaoD, 
if not of French soldiers, at least of soldiers paid witli 
French money^ was placed in the city " to maynteane 
idolatiie, and to resist the Conjp^gatioun," 

The Earl of Argyle, Lord James Stuart, and others 
of the uohility who had till now heen on the aide of 
the He^-ent, in the interests, as they supposed, of good 
order, were so shocked hy her violatioii oi' the word 
they had plighted in her name that they withdrew from 
her standard and joined the Congregation, which at 
their summons convened at St. Andrews. The Primate 
in alarm gathered as many followers as he could, 
and threatened the Ixird.^ that if John Knox were 
allowed to preach in his cathedral church, he should 
" be saluted with a dosane of culveringis, quherof the 
most part should lyght upoun his nose." The more 
timid counselled that some other preacher should 
occupy the pulpit, but the Reformer was resolute. In 
this place God had first called liim to speak publicly 
in His name. He had been reft from it by the 
tyranny of France and by procurement of the bishops ; 
when he was wasted and weary in the galleys he had 
seen the steeple of this church through the mist, and 
tliere had been given to bim then an " assured houp " 
" in oppin audience, to preache in Sanctandrois befoir 
he depairted thya lyuff." Since ttoil had brought him 
to the place, nothing should hinder him from doing 
his duty. Of what were they afraid ? Is not his 
" lyef in the custody of Him whose glorie he aeaks." 
Clearly tliis is not a man with whom counsels of 
prudence woidd much avail ; and so he had his way, 
and " did entreat of the ejectioun of the byaris and the 


scUariB furth of tlie Tempill of Jerusalem " tii such 
{;ao(i purpose, that not by public tumult, but in on 
onlerlj- manner, ajid under the sanction of the magis- 
tmtes, " all nionunientis of idolatrie " in the city were 

Theu followed the muster on Cupar Moor, at which 
" men seemed rained from the clouds " ; the withdrawn! 
of the Itegent, first to Edinburgh and then to Dunbar; 
the relief nf Perth from the hated garrison ; the sack 
of Scone ; the march on Stii'ling and deatruetiou of its 
alibe3's, till at last the Congregation took possession of 
Edinburgh on the 29th of Jime. It was on the 2nd 
of May that Knox had landed at Leith. Within the 
space of two sliort months the battle had been fought 
and won ; the mediieval Church of Scotland was already 
lying in niius. Save for the blood of niartyra, it was 
up to this point an all but bloodless victory. It had 
cost, indeed, the sacrifice of many a fair abbey, the 
levelling of many a goodly pillar, and the shattering of 
many a storied window. We regret these accidents of 
the war, as in celebrating any triumph we fail not to 
mourn the thousands slain ; but we venture to assert 
that the religious and pohtical freedom of Scotland 
was in these months cheaply purchased. It is not at 
all certain that Knox ever said that " the beat way to 
keep the rooks from returning was to puE down their 
nests " ; but if he did he was probably right. 

Before the work of destruction thus accomplished 
could be pronounced permanent and the work of re- 
construction begun, costher sacrifices had to be made. 
The Eeformers were magnanimous in the hour of their 
triumph, and hastened to the Queen Eegent with the 
assurance that in what they had done they meant no 

yOHX KNOX. 455 

disloyally to her Goveimuent. They found her in a 
conciliattiry mootL She was ready to promise to recall 
the sentence of oiitlawrj- that had been prononnced 
against the preachers, and to concede almost any reason- 
able demand. All the while she was labouring ia 
disunite the Congregation and U> gain time till the 
mnltitude which had hurriedly gathered to the stan- 
dard of Eefonu shotdd have dispersed. Her device 
was so far successful that when at last she marched on 
Edinburgh, the remnant of the Congregation who held 
it were fain to come to terms, and give up the city on 
condition that the Beformed worship should not be 
disturbed. It was deemed expedient that Knox, who 
had been already elected ministtr of Edinbuigh, should 
not remain when the surrender took efi'ect His place 
in St. Gilbs' was filled by John WiUock, while he occu- 
pied himself by preaching in almost all the districts of 
the Lowlands, thus doing more to extend and consoli- 
date the Reformation than if he had remained in the 

It soon became evident that the Congr^tion were 
not, if left unaided, equal to the task of overcoming 
the Eegent. The unfortunate delay which followed 
their triumphant march to Edinburgh led not only to 
the dispersion of a large part of their forces, but to an 
accession of strength to the other side. The peace be- 
tween France and England concluded at Cambray on 
Mareh 12th, 1559, enabled the Eegent to obtain re-in- 
foreements of French troops, which entrenched them- 
selves at Leith. The Castle of Edinburgh was held 
by Lord Erskine, and maintained a position of 
neutrality, wliich, however, might any day be changed 
into one "f hostility to the Congi-egation. The deposi- 



tion of the Regent, after consulting Knox and Willock, 
and obtaining from them a declaration that there was 
scriptural warrant for the deed, was in the circumstances 
an empty form. The Duke of Chatelherault was once 
more on the side of Protestantism, but what could he — 
a waverer at the best — do against the power of France, 
guarded by strong fortifications. He had at his back 
only an undisciplined and ill-armed host, consisting of 
the barons and their household retainers, with a motley 
company of civilians who had been attracted to their 
standard ; and there was no money to provide food for 
his army, even if it had been otherwise hopeful for that 
army to attempt a siege. 

All eyes were turned to England, whose Protestant 
Queen was the natural ally of the Scottish Congrega- 
tion. But altogether apart from her dislike of Knox, 
and her queenly disinclination to interfere in behalf of 
subjects nominally in rebellion against their lawful 
sovereign, there were acknowledged difficulties in 
Elizabeth's way. She had just concluded a treaty of 
peace with France ; and even if she had been disposed 
to risk the renewal of hostilities with that country, the 
attitude of Philip of Spain made it very doubtful 
whether he would not in that event ally himself with 
her enemies. If she interfered in Scotland she thus 
ran the risk, for the sake of a cause with which she 
only half sympathized — for the Scottish Reformation 
was taking a form that was not pleasing to her — of 
having all the Catholic powers arrayed against her. 
The best evidence that those dangers were not imag- 
inary, is that even Knox — who of all men loved a 
straightforward policy — brought himself in the des- 
perate case to suggest dissimulation. In a letter 



yf 25th October, 1559, signed ".lohn Sinclair," 
and addressed to Sir James Crofts, Governor of Ber- 
wick, he says: " If you list to craft with thanie, the 
sending of a thousand or mo men to ua can hreake 
no league nor point of peace contracted hetwix you 
and Fraunce : For it is free for your subjects to serve 
in warr any prence or nation for thare wages. And yf 
ye fear that such excusses shall not prevaile, yon may 
(leclayr thame rebells to your Eeahne when ye shal 
be assured that thei be m our companye." ^ 

On the other hand it would clearly ha in the end 
fatal for Elizabeth tfl permit the Protestantism of 
Scotland to be stamped out iinder the heel of the 
Fraichman, and thus to give to those who sought to 
overturn her throne, and with it the Knglish Eefor- 
mation, the very fulcrum on which of all others they 
most wished to rest their lever. This the clear-eyed 
Cecil, who was in constant communication with Knox, 
saw well ; but he was only able to obtain the consent 
of his mistress to unavowed and intermittent help. At 
length, after the ^v^eck, by a storm as timely as that 
wliich scattered the Spanish Armada, of a French fleet 
which had sailed for Leith ; after the death of Mary of 
Guise, whieb took fi-om the French party the chief in- 
spiration of tlieii' courage; and after Ehzabeth had come 
to see that her devices to conceal the assistance she 
was rendering were too transparent, and that by half 
measures she was losing much and gaining little, the 
beleagured and half-ataxved Frenchmen in Leith were 
brought to terms and sent home in EngKsh transports. 
The treaty of peace was proclaimed at the Cross of 
1 on the 8th of July, 1560. The deliverance 
' Letters, etc., Works, vol. vi, p. 90. 


had come so suddenly at last that the Congregation 
were like men that dreamed. They gathered in St. 
Giles*, and Knox rendered solemn thanks in their name. 
The words of thanksgiving, which he has preserved in 
his History, are simple, some may think them prosaic ; 
but surely no Te Deum that ever pealed out the praises 
of a triumphant nation was the utterance of a more 
heartfelt gratitude. On August 1st the estates of 
Parliament that had been adjourned, re-assembled. It 
was remitted to Knox and his colleagues to prepare the 
Confession of Faith. They did their work in four days. 
Creed-making was easy then ; when in revolt against 
the authority of Popes and Councils, men had laid 
hold of a few simple truths of Scripture, and the age of 
speculation had not yet come. It was specially easy 
in Scotland, where there was one master-mind to guide 
deliberation. On the 17th of August, all necessary pre- 
liminaries having been gone through, the Confession 
was ratified and the Eeformation was established. 

During the session of Parliament, Knox " taught 
publiclie the prophet Haggeus" — ^that part of him 
clearly in which he chides those who say the time is 
not come, the time that the Lord's house should be 
built. He spoke so vehemently of the duty which now 
devolved on the delivered nation to make provision 
for the maintenance of the Eeformed Church, that 
Maitland of Lethington, the ablest, but not the most 
spiritual of the leaders of the Congregation, exclaimed, 
" We mon now forget our selffis, and beir the barrow 
to buyld the housses of God." The rest of Ejiox's 
life-work was a contention with the spirit which these 
words reveal, and which was more or less the spirit of 
all the barons who had joined the Congregation. With 


some of Llieiii the only motive, with lufvny of them a 
cLiaf motive, of their reforming zeal, was that they 
might share tlie spoil of the dispossessed monks. They 
were ready enough to ratify a Confession of Faith, but 
when it came to the Book of Discipline, with its pro- 
vision for the superintendents, ministers, and readers, 
and its liberal arrangements for secondary and primary 
schools, they hesitate<l and delayed. With them, and 
with another who is now to come more du'ectly on 
the scene, Knox had unresting conflict to the close. 

That other was Mary Stuart, who, now a widow, 
returned to her native country to take the reins of 
government into her own hands. Knox specifies not 
only the day when she landed — the 19th August, 
1561 — but the hour, "hetwix sevin and aught houria 
befoir noon," and adds, " The verray face of heavin, 
the time of Mr arryvall, did manifestlie speak what 
confort was brought into this contry with liir, to wit, 
Borow, dolour, darknes, and all impietie. . . . The sun 
was not seyn to sehyne two dayis befoir nor two dayis 
after." ^ It was in no churlish spirit that he thus wrote. 
He did not grudge the cordiality of the welcome she 
received, or that the Protestants joined in it — " thair- 
intill thai war not to he blamed." But it was his delibe- 
rate judgment as a historian — and the verdict of sub- 
sequent history has confinned it — that it was a dark 
day for Scotland that 19th of August, 1561. 

The collision between the preacher and the Queen 
camu very soon. On the first Sunday after her landing, 
mass was privately celebrated at Holyrood, Great was 
the commotion among the Congregation at the setting 
up of " that idoU " which Parliament had so recently 
'History, vol. ii. pp. 268-9. 




linnislied, iimkiiig its Testoration a capital oti'ence. Loud 
were the mutteriaga to the effect that " the idolater 
preast should dye the death " ; biit Lord James Stuart 
took his stand at the chapel door to secure for the 
tjueen the liberty of worship he had promised lier 
when be conveyed the invitation to return. One after 
another of the fiery lords came spiimng ui* to Edin- 
burgh as the tidings reached them ; hut like the riders 
I'orth from Jezreel at Jehu's advance, they had hardly 
put tlieir indignant question when they submissively 
I'ell silent Robert Campbell of Kingyeancleiigb said to 
bis Ayrshire neighbour, Lord Ochiltree, when tlie latter 
appeared upon the scene i " My Lord, now ye are come, 
and abiiost the last of all the rest ; and I perceave by 
j'our anger that the fyre-edge is nott of- you yit ; but 
1 fear that after that the holy watter of the Courte be 
sprinckled upoun you, that ye sail become als tem- 
perat as the rest: For I have been here now fyve 
dayis, and at the first I hard everie man say, 'Let 
us hang iho Preast,' but after thai had bene twyse or 
thrise in the Abbay all that fervency was past. I 
think thair he some inchantment whareby men ar 
bewitched." ^ 

It was even so. The girl-widow of nineteen, with 
that peculiar beauty which so bafHed painters that 
no two of them gave the same rendering of it, charmed 
the rough Lords of the Congregation, if not into ap- 
proval of her ways, at least into sullen acquiescence. 
And those of them who had seen the world, and were 
withal too strong to be wheedled out of their prin- 
ciples by a woman's smile, were no less "bewitched" by 
the hope of making Mary the instrument of the policy 
' Historj', vol. ii. pp. 275-e. 


of uiiiuii with England, which sad experience of the 
fruits of the French alliance had now taught them was 
the one true policy for Scotland. Some of thein — Mait- 
land notably — cared uotliir^ for relijrion, deeming it " a 
bogle of the nursery," nad only worthy the attention of 
grown men when it could be made an instrument of 
statecraft. Others of them, such as Lord James Stuart, 
who were sincere in their attachment to tlie principles 
of the Reformation, believed that by forbearance they 
could gain the political end they sought withont sacri- 
ficing the liberties thej' had fought for- — nay, they 
were not without^ hope that Mary might even be found 
willing to secure the English succession at the coat of 
sacrificing her (Catholicism. 

There was one man in the land who was proof 
against either witchery. His keen grey eye could look 
into Mary's face and not be blinded by her smile ; it 
could see into her poUcy aud lUvine the schemes which 
that smile was meant to conceal. And so, on the very 
first Sunday he mounted the pulpit of St. Giles', and 
"inveighing against idolatrie, schew what terrible 
plagues God had tacken upon realmes and nationis for 
the same ; " and added, " That one messe (thair war no 
mpir suffered at the first) was more fearful to him then 
gif ten thousand armed enemyes war landed in any 
pairte of the realnie, of purpose to suppress the hoill 
religioun." These are not the words of ignorant 
fanaticism. Tliey express the deliberate conviction of 
the moat enlightened man in the Scotland of that day. 
Recent research into loug-buried State papers has 
brought to light the fact that when Mary Stuart 
resolved to return to Scotland, it was of deliberate 
purpose to destroy the Reformation. From the day of 


Iier liiuJiny that purpose wa9 avowed in letters to her 
uncle, Cai-dinal IxiiTaine, and the French ministers, lo 
the Spanish King and the Duke of Alva, and to the 
i'ope Itimaelf. At the very time, in 1566, when she 
iasned a proclamation to her subjects assuring them of 
her determination to uphold the established religion and 
]-ebutting as calumnies all assertions to the contrary, 
we find lier writing to Pliilip of Spain telling him that 
the hour had come for him to send assistance to restore 
Scotland to the Catholic Church.^ 

In the same letter she reveals that the ultimate 
design was on England aa well, k If that which 
tlie Lords uf the Congregation, in their zeal for 
the union of the Crowns, joined with her in impor- 
tunately asking — ^the formal recognition of her claim 
to the Englisli succeaaion — had been conceded, it does 
not admit of doubt that Elizabeth's throne would very 
soon have been vacant; that Mary would have ascended 
it over the ruins of both the Churches; and that the 
Smitbfield fires would have been once more lighted. 
Bacon and Cecil saw this and laboured, with a ma- 
jority of the English Council against them, to prevent 
even an interview between Elizabeth and the Scottisli 
Queen, Knox alone on the north of the Border had 
Ms eyes open to the danger, and it was therefore tliat he 
reckoned one mass at Holyrood to be more fearful than 
ten thousand armed men. 

The sermon in which the words were used led to 
the first of his famous interviews with the Queen. In 

' Labanoff, referrerl to and quoted in au admirable lecture on 
t.lie Influence of Knox and the Scottish Reformation on Ei^land, 
delivered in 1860 by the Bicht Honoumble Lord Moncriefl, then 
the Lord- Advocate for Scotland. See also Froude's History, aBd 
Influence of the Reformation, in Short Studies, vol. i. 



that long '■ reasoning," Mary Stuart beard from tlie 
lips of Knox, with an amazement which struck her 
dumb " more than tlie quarter of iine liour," words 
aneiit the rights of subjects ou occasion to resist tlieii' 
princes " even by power " — words wluch were used 
in the next century to justify the action of those who 
brought her grandson tn the scaffold. But all is spokeu 
with the truest courtesy, and when they were patting 
he said, " I pi"ay God, madam, that ye may be als 
blessed within the Commounwealth of Scotland, yf it 
be the pleasur of God, as ever Debora was in the 
Uoramoimwcalth of Israeli" Though in subsequent in- 
terviews there were stronger words on his part and 
storrnier behaviour on hers, he never forgot the respect 
due to her sex and to her oftice. Hut he, too, had an 
office widch he deemed as sacred as hers. Wlien she 
sent for him anent his sermon, preached when there 
liad been dancing at the Court, after evil tidings had 
come from France of successes against the Huguenots, 
she proposed in concdiatory tone that if he had aught 
to complain of, he sliould come to herself and tell her. 
He rephed courteously but firmly that he was " called to 
to ane publict function within the Kirk of God," that 
he was " appointed by God to rebidce the sinnes and 
vices of all." " I am not," said he, " appointed to 
cum to everie man in particular to schaw him his 
offense ; for that laubour war infinite." If her Grace 
would come to the Kirk she would fully understand both 
what he likes and raislikes, " als weall in your Majiatie 
as in all others." Finally, if she would assign him a 
day and hour when it would please her to hear "the forme 
and substance of doctrin " he was publicly teaching, he 
should wait upon her Grace, " But to waitt upon your 


chabiier-doore or ellis wliair, and then to have no farther 
libertie but to whisper my mynd in your Grace's eare, 
or to tell you what others think and speak of you, 
neather will my conscience nor the vocatioun whairto 
God hath called me suffer it." . It was at the close 
of tliis interview that he was going out " with a 
reasonable meary countenance ; whairat some Papistis 
offended said, ' He is not efifrayed/ Which heard of 
him he answered, ' Why should the pleasing face of a 
gentill woman eSr^j me ? I have looked in the faces 
of many angrie men, and yet have nott been efiPrayed 
above measure.' " ^ 

At another interview — that following his sermon 
against the Spanish marriage — when she asked him 
angrily, " What have ye to do with my mariage ? or 
what ar ye within this Commoun Wealth ? " he an- 
swered, and in his reply we seem to hear the far-off 
tread of the advancing democracy : " A subject borne 
within the same, madam. And albeit I be neather 
Erie, Lord, nor Barroun within it, yitt hes God maid 
me (how abject that ever I be in your eyes) a profit- 
able member within the same." At the plain but 
still courteous words that followed she burst into 
passionate tears. Good John Erskine of Dun tried 
to comfort her, as one not over- wise might comfort a 
petulant cliild, by gi>Tng " unto hir many pleasing 
wonlis of hir beautie, of hir excellence, and how that 
all the Princes of Europe wold be glaid to seak hir 
favouris ." Xot so the other John. It is a fine picture 
wo have given us in the old chronicle. He " stood 
still, without any alteratioun of countenance for a long 
soi\ssou, whill that the Queue gave place to hir in- 

* History, voL iL p. 334. 


(ii-dinat passioun ; and iu thf. end lie aaid ; ' Madam, 
in Goddia presence I speak; I never delyted in the 
weaping of any of Goddis creatures; yea I can skaralie 
Weill abyd the tearia of my awin hoyea whome uiy awiu 
hand correctia, mnch less can I rejoiae in your Majestie's 
weaping. But seeing that I have offered unto you no 
just occasioun to he offended, hut have spocken the 
trueth, as my vocatioun craves of me, I man susteau 
(albeit unwillinglie) your Majeatiea tearis, rather then 
I dar_ hurte my eonacJence, or betray my Commoun- 
wealth throiigh my silence," I ask you to judge which 
of theae two ways of speaking to the (Jueen was the 
niore truly respectful ? 

But it was in St Giles' that Knos's power was 
felt. He was the imcrowned, but real king of Scot- 
land, and hia pulpit was his throne. Around it he 
gathered the forces that saved tlie Keformation — the 
Commons of Scotland, whom he so taught to see with 
his own inteUigence the issues of the conflict which 
he was waging against the Court, and so nerved with 
his own courage that they etood firm, when the Lords 
—even those of them who still remained true to Pro- 
testantism — were tempted to waver. Every one knowa 
that picture drawn for us hy James Melville,^ of the 
old man " mth a furring of martricks about his neck, a 
staff in the an hand, and guid godhe liichart Ballan- 
den, his aervand, halding upe the uthcr oxtar from the 
Abbey to the paroche kirk " of St. Andrews, " and 
be the said Eichart and another servant lifted upt 
to the pulpit, whar he behovit to lean at hi.a first 
entrie; bot or he haid done with his sermont, he 

' Antohiogmpliy iiiul Diary of Mr. Jaiiitw Mi^lville (WunJrow 
.. Snoy. ed,) p. 33. 


was sa active and vigorus that he was lyk to ding that 
pulpit in blads, and fly out of it." It is not so well 
known that this was at an important crisis, when his 
voice, " like ten thousand trumpets braying in the 
ear of Scottish Protestantism," averted a disastrous 

Only one of his sermons has been preserved in full. 
Its subject is the first nine verses of the 26th chapter 
of Isaiah. The circumstances in which it was preached 
are memorable. Poor Damley, finding that his attend- 
ance at the Queen's mass was exciting suspicion that 
he had abjured his Protestantism, resolved to appear 
at St. Giles' in state. He had a throne set up in 
the Church on which he sate himself down, doubtlsse 
expecting that the preacher would be duly grateful 
for this evidence of his loyalty to the established 
order in religion. Little did he know that preacher's 
character. No smooth words flattered the vanity of 
the poor kingling. Sharp arrows flew about his 
head — words quoted from the Geneva version of the 
prophet's oracle, concerning God's dealings with the 
land, "from whom he taketh away the strong man," 
and to whom he will appoint "children to be their 
princes, and babes shall rule over them. Children are 
extorcyoners of my people and women liave rule over 
them." "^ We do not wonder that Darnley returned to 
the palace in great wrath, nor that it was deemed 
advisable that Knox should retire from Edinburgh for 
a little after tliis incident. 

His labours were not confined to the capital, nor did 
he occupy himself only with politics. We find him in 
1562, for example, answering a challenge sent him by 

1 A Sermon, etc., Works, vol. vi. p. 242. 



Abbot Keuiiedy of Ciossraguel, aud " ressoniug " for 
three days in the house of the Provost of the Collegiate 
Church at Maybole, on the doctrine of the Mass. The 
reconl of the " ressoning" has been preserved by Knox, 
and the house in which it took place is standing still, 
in a steep, narrow street of the old feudiil town, so 
that we are able to realize the scene. In presence of 
the lords and gentry of the west, who, forty on either 
side, were crowded into au upper room, and looked on 
as at a tournament — for the age of chivalry has given 
place to the age of " reasoning," and the conflict of 
ideas has begun — the two combatants, the stem 
preacher on the one hand, the son of an Earl and of 
an Earl's daughter, the lordly Abbot on tlie other, enter 
the lists. There is all the fine courtesy nf the old 
chivalry. Knox calls his opponent " My Lord," 
though he is careful to protest that he does so " by 
reason of blood and not of office." For three days 
the battle rages round one single point. The Abbot, 
who opens the debate, contends that Christ could 
not be a priest after the order of Melcliizedek unless 
he offered a propitiatory sacrifice of bread and wine, in- 
asmuch as Melchizedek offered such a sacrifice. Knox 
replies that there is no evidence that the bread 'and 
wine brought forth by Melcliizedek were offered in 
propitiatory sacrifice. He suggests, but with true 
Scotch caution is careful to protest that the sug- 
gestion is in no wise essential to his argiuaeuts, 
that the bread and wine were brought forth for the 
refreshment of Abraham and his men. And ao on 
from day to day the contention proceeds between 
two men who both understand the art of intellectual 
fencing. At the end of the third day Knox, always 


priictical uiul iilwiiya limuan, suggests that " the aoble- 
mtm hcfe aasemljled are altogether destitute of all 
provision botli for hors and man," and that the reason- •; 
ing might be adjourned to Ayr, " whair that better 
easmeijt might lie had for all estates." But to this 
Kennedy, who has probably bad enough of it, w-ill nut 
agree, and so the battle ends. 

In Knox's record of the debate we have a fine 
example of his liumour, hia grim, Semitic humour, as of 
Elijali mocking the priests of Baal, or Isaiah making 
mii-tli of idolaters. He says : "The poore god of bread is 
moat miserable of all other idoles ; for, according tu 
there matter whereof thay are made, they will reniane 
without coiTUption many yeares. Bat within one year , 
this god will putrifie, and then he must be burnt ; 
they can abyde the vehemencie of the wind, frost, rain, 
or snow. Bnt the wind will blow that god to the sea, 
the rain or the snow will make it dagh again ; yea, 
which is most of all to be feared, that god is a pray 
(if he be not wel kept) to rattes and mise ; for they 
will desire no better deuner than wliite rounde gods 
jTiew. But then, what becometh of Chriates natn- 
ral bodie ? By myraekle, it flies to the heaven 
i^ine, if the Papists teach treulie ; for how sone 
soever the mouse takes hold, so sone flieth Christ 
away, and letteth hir gnaw the bread, A bold and 
puissant mouse, but a feble and miserable god : yet 
wold I ask a i^uestion ; whether hath the priest or the 
raonse greater power ? By his words it is made a gotl: i 
by hir teeth it ceaseth to be a god : let thera avise, i 
and tlien answer."^ Humour such as this — and 
sometimes of a kindlier type — -were an unfailiufi 
' Works, vol. vi. pp. 172, 3. 


characteristic of Kiiox. It served to keep him from! 
be<;omiug morbid amid the stem conllicta of his life. 
It saved him from being one-sided, and helped tti 
preserve the balance of mind by virtue of which he 
united to the most burning earneatnesa, a Scoto 
fnution, and a statesmanlike prudence. 

His humour gives its peculiar charm to his Historj 
of the Reformation, with the preparation of which he 
occupied himself at intervals during tlie busy years of 
his Edinburgh ministry. His authorship of this work 
has been disputed, hut the internal evidence that his 
hand and no other drew those graphic pictures seems 
to us conclusive. K Knox did not write the first 
four hooka of the History, then another man of appar- 
ently equal intellectual power, but of whose existence 
we have no other trace, lived in Scotland in the latter 
part of the sixteenth century. 

But the time came when John Knox must lay down 
the burden of mortal life. We have pleasant picttirea 
of the closing scenes in that old house in the Canon- 
gate, where he was lovingly ministered to by his young 
wife; for Marjory Bowes was dead, her poor mother had 
also gone out from among the shadows which encom- 
passed her, and Knox had wedded a daughter of Lord 
Ocliiltree. When some of his old friends came to see 
him he " caused peirce ane hoggeid of wine " wliich 
was in his cellar, that they and he might have happy 
fellowship before they parted. His dying request to 
his wife that she should read to him the 17th chaptei- 
of St. John, where he "first cast anchor," is verj' 
beautiful. That anchor he cast had held, thougli 
storms had been loud and long ; and he would cast 
it anew that he might ride out the last storm of 


all. When the end was at hand, and the voice 
before which rulers had trembled had gone silent, they 
asked him to indicate that faith failed not, and he did 
so by lifting his hand upward. And thus on Monday, 
24th November, 1572, he entered into rest, of whom 
Regent Morton said at his burial, that he never feared 
the face of man. 

His grave in the courtyard of the Parliament House, 
under the shadow of his own St. Giles', is not desecrated 
though the busy crowds pass over it, and hardly note 
it as they hurry on : 

" Let the sound of those he wrought for, 
And the feet of those he fought for, 
Echo round his bones for evermore.'* 

If our civil and religious liberties have made our nation 
great and strong, it is to him we owe them. He is the 
father of his countrj'. He saw much that was hidden 
from his generation, and many things he indicated in 
his Book of Discipline are still unrealized. Shall we 
complain that the man who won for us our freedom 
often used rough words ? The complaint is surely un- 
reasonable — as unreasonable as it would be to detract 
from the glory of Bannockburn because the men who 
fought our battle there did not fight it with Armstrong 
guns and Martini rifles, but with the spears and the 
battle-axes that were laid to their hands. John Knox 
spoke the word that was given him to speak; he spoke 
it in the dialect of his time ; and by speaking it he 
saved his land. 


Th'-. Second MUion, iu Crown Sm., /trke 7s. Gtl. 


^^^L Being the Memoir of THOMAS DAVIDSON. 


f "Aw 

With hia P0EM3 and LETTERS. 
By JAMES BROWN, D.D., St. James's 


Dr. John Brown, 

"A worthy n 

Blackwood's MaKa^ine. 

''TliiB life of an unknown Sootoh probfttioner ia equn 

anting of the kind we liave bad aiDOB CarlylB'a ' Life of StsrU 
written. Thomaa Doiviii»on, aa i. poet, »» a humouritt, Bi ■.■implc, loving, 
hdiiBBt, reticent, valiant aonJ, demands adei^nnte recognition at tlie bands 
of the critio— a career kind and unoatentatioua, glorjBed. however, in it* 
uneventful homelineja by a rare vein of poetry and a rich vein of humour. 
Tbs key-Dote of the cb>iracter is its sound aud healthy but modeit manli- 
uetu. Tlie mem aana is a most precioua pomeuiion. Davidson begnn to 
■icken o{ the disease of wbicii he died before be was eigbt-nnd -twenty, 
but siclcnesA did not unsteady the even balance of bis mind. Tt is after 
bo ia laid aside from active work that his hnoiour is at itB best and brightenl^ 

anrl his lyrical faculty in its finest mood. The whole picture is ' 

bnt tbe Qnbhing touobes make it nearly if oot altogetber uuii 
The poetry ii genuine, the humour is genuine, and tbe oiiarai 
whicb underlies both) as genuiue B> the poetry and the humour- 
humour, indeed, went deep into the life." 

le of tboae rn 



!r weary of warMng tbrot 

trIinE thr 

B to come UDeipectedly oi 

Dundee Advertiser. 

"Davidson's letter! and poema prove him iDCOmparablj t 
geaiua, wit, snd hamonr to any Border poet of tbis century, 
may be, Thomas Aird. Apart from 'Ariatlne," with its exquiiitd 
Snuhed and claHical pathos, and the ' Hobgobliiiade,' which ranlu w^ 
Boms's '£>»th anil Dr. Hornbook,' tbe line* on 'The Cheviuta'ure 
finest deMSDt on those famona bill* w« ever heard, and pauses over tl: 
like tbe mott delicious and spiritual gUam of a dying ai ' " ' " "" 
them ■ lustre not of this earth." 

Glasgow : J.lxzs MjicLeuMS k Sofcn, Publiahen t« the UiiiviniM 
LoxDOX : aUcKitLAX k Co. 




By JOHN M. ROS.^, LL,D. 
Edited, with Memoir, by JAMES BROWN, J 

Hemy&vo, 450p/i.,.14a, 


■ deeply versed in Old flrotch liCemtuni i h 
itenae, but dalj oontrollBd in enirassion by 
leiue of huDiDUr. Hii biwh n not a, drj oonjpendiiun of fBotf, b 
iKCount of the DAtionst life of Sootlnnil vioweil now froo 
iiow from the litemry point*of view," 


"This volorae U 'thorougli Mid lionest,' in written in 
Hnd forms a maiterly and complete lurvev of " 
with whioh it dnli. The whole work is chn 
knowleilge. a cloeeneU of etudy, a breadth of 
and a shrewdnen df observation, together with 
oloquenoe of eipressif- "---—=" — -'-- '^ -^ -- 

tr and ■atistncl 

kcterized by a, f alneu it ', 
sioD, a firmceBB of g ~ ' 
II elegance and somel 
>plea»>nt tothecon 

k of quite eioen- 

! of ScDtlun 

•J to the eKacting oritic/' 


"Dr. KosBg volume must be pronounced U 

tional literary and historical value. It SIIb a 

the litenu-y history and in the hiiturioal litomt 


"There IB nO trano in this volume of mental weaiiness or perfouctoty J 

oram. It is tiothing abort of masterly. The stylo is full, ner' -' "■ 

Hi>ionous, vitalized b" "~ — ■■*---" ^— - ■ -. .^ . » 

humour and good & 

entbuBiasm, in his thorough mustery of d 
energy of hu style, lie reminds ua of Air. Giei 


"This ii the best manual of the two sabjccts of which it 
preBent in eiistenue. Dc. Ross 1ms evidently had a paasina U 
ject, and baa gone atraight to the andent reoords, botJi S 
English, aa the fountain head of all available knowledge. ' 
teen at bis beat when dealing with the legends that have { 
the memories of Scotland's national heroes. He Bepnratei 

from theobnff in Barbour's Brmjand we have never seen am 

exposition than thnt which he gives of the brutalities aod ekrouj 

abaurditicB of Blind Harry's ^yallBce Nothing if 

literature shows the intensity of the Scotch national spirit loi 

ling short of masterly. The etylo is full, nervous, pp- 1 
d by on cntbuaiasTn alwnys kept on the safe aide Vf I 
d Bcnae. In the warmth of hit pstriotio and monil . 1 
IB well a ' 


British Quarterly Review. 

at once papular and descriptive, teitusl w 



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liiiiiiii ~ 


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