« PreviousContinue »
read the writings of Luther, or of in religion, and by an exbibition of some of his adherents; and though the principal doctrines which they he left his native country at an early taught. These, his favourite topics, period, his works, several of which he did not hesitate to .introduce in were published in Spanish, contri- the public walks, and in other places buted greatly to the spread of the of concourse. The surprise excited Reformed opinions.
by his first addresses was soon fol. Rodrigo de Valer was a native of lowed, in most instances, by indig. Lebrixa, about thirty miles from nation and disdain. It was not to Seville, and spent his youth in those be borne, it was said, that a layman, idle and dissipated habits which and one who had no pretensions to
common among the nobility learning, should presume to instruct and gentry of Spain. His attention his teachers, and to inveigh against was engrossed by the love of dress, doctrines and institutions which horses, and sports; and at Seville, were reverenced by the Church, and which was his favourite residence, sanctioned by its highest authority. he shone in the first rank among Whence had he his pretended knowyoung men of fashion and gallantry. ledge of the Scriptures ? Who gave All of a sudden he disappeared from him a right to teach? What were those places of amusement which he the signs and the proof of his mishad frequented, laid aside his splen- sion To these questions Valer redid equipage, and, shutting himself plied, it was true that he had been up in his closet, devoted himself to brought up in ignorance of divine reading and meditation. In his things; but he had derived his youth he had acquired a slight knowledge, not from the polluted knowledge of the Latin language. streams of tradition and human inHe now procured a copy of the ventions, but from the pure foun. Latin Vulgate, the only translation tain of revealed truth, through the of the Bible allowed in Spain ; and teaching of that Spirit by whose inhaving made himself master of the fluence living waters are made to language, he soon became so well flow from the hearts of those who acquainted with the contents of the believe in Christ; that there was no Scriptures, that he could repeat reason to suppose that these influalmost any passage from memory, ences are confined to persons of the and explain it with wonderful ecclesiastical order, especially when promptitude. Thus he was led to that order was so deeply depraved; adopt a system of doctrine similar that private and illiterate men had to that of the German Reformers, convicted a learned Sanhedrim of and to lay the foundations of a blindness, and had called a whole Protestant Church in Seville. world to the knowledge of salvation;
Valer was now desirous of im- that he had the authority of Christ parting to others those impressions for warning them of their errors and of divine truth which had been vices; and that none would require made on his own mind. With this a sign from him, but a spurious and view, quitting his solitary life, be degenerate race, whose eyes could courted the society of the Clergy not bear that light which laid open and the Monks. He set before and reproved their works of darkthem the general defection from primitive Christianity, both in faith It was not to be expected that and in practice, which then pre Valer would be allowed long to purvailed among all classes ; the cor sue such a course. He was brought ruption of their own order, which before the Inquisitors, with whom had spread infection over the whole he maintained a keen dispute on the community; and the necessity of Church, the marks by which it is applying a speedy and a thorough distinguished, justification, and siremedy to these evils. His repre- milar points. On that occasion sentations were uniformly accom.
some persons of considerable authopanied by appeals to the sacred rity, who secretly favoured his sentiwritings as the supreme standard ments, exerted themselves in his
behalf. Their influence, joined to Here he became acquainted with other considerations, with the cir. Valer; who, perceiving his good cumstance that his Judges either dispositions, pointed out the defects believed, or wished it to be believed, of his mode of preaching, and ex, that he was insane, procured for horted him, as the sure remedy, to him a milder sentence than is usu- give himself to the diligent perusal ally pronounced by that tribunal; of the word of God. Egidius fol. and he was dismissed with the loss lowed this good advice, and soon of his property.
After this he became the most acceptable and yielded so far to the importunity of useful Preacher in Seville. Instead his friends, as to abstain from a of dry, abstruse, and unprofitable public declaration of his sentiments discussions, he brought forward the for a short time; during which he great truths of the Bible ; making explained in private the Epistle to powerful appeals to the consciences, the Romans, But his zeal soon and affectionate addresses to the burst through this restraint. Re, hearts, of his auditors. In this suming his former reproofs of the work of enlightening the citizens of reigning errors and superstition, he Seville, Egidius was assisted by two was a second time denounced to the men of superior talents, who had Inquisition, which condemned him been his fellow-students at the Unito wear the coat of infamy, called versity,„Dr. Vargas, and Constanthe san-benito, and to be imprisoned tine Ponce de la Fuente. These for life. When conducted to the three concerted a plan, according to church of St. Salvador, in Seville, which they might co-operate in adto attend public service on festival vancing the common cause. Vardays, instead of exhibiting the marks gas read lectures to the more learned, of sorrow expected from persons in in which he expounded the Epistle his situation, he would address the to the Romans, and the Book of audience after the sermon, and warn Psalms; while Constantine occathem against the erroneous doctrine sionally assisted Egidius in the puldelivered by the Preacher, whenever pit. Their zeal, while it awakened he thought it contrary to the word the suspicions, provoked the diliof God. To rid themselves of so gence, of the Clergy, who were still troublesome a man, the Inquisitors devoted to the ancient superstition; at length had him confined in a and the citizens were divided in monastery at San Lucar, near the their attachments between the two mouth of the Guadalquiver ; where, classes of Preachers. Those of the secluded from all society, he died at one class urged the necessity and the age of fifty, about the year 1541. importance of repeating prayers at His san-benito, which was hung up certain stated hours, of frequently in the metropolitan church of Se- hearing mass, of visiting consecrated ville, long attracted notice, on ac. places, of fasting, and making concount of its extraordinary size, and fession regularly to the Priest; while of the inscription which it bore: they exhorted those who aimed at
Rodrigo Valer, a citizen of Le- higher degrees of sanctity, to dedibrixa and Seville, an apostate and cate their property to pious uses, a false apostle, who pretended to be or, renouncing the world, to with sent of God.”
draw into monasteries and nunne. The most distinguished among ries. The Preachers of the other the converts of Valer was Juan Gil, class either passed over these things commonly called Dr. Egidius. He entirely, or showed their inefficacy ; was born at Olvera, in Arragon; exhorting their hearers to rely not educated at the University of Alcala ; on their own works, but on the and, after obtaining the highest merits of Christ; and to prove the academical honours, became Pro, genuineness of their faith by obe. fessor of Divinity at Siguenza; and dience to the commands of God'; was afterwards chosen to the office and, instead of recommending rosaof Canon-Magistral, or Preacher, in ries and scales of devotion, they the cathedral church of Seville. dwelt on the advantages to be
derived from a serious and daily points, expressed in his own words, perusal of the sacred writings. The which should be read in the catheeloquence, prudence, piety, and irre- dral at Seville, in the presence of proachable morals of Egidius and the Inquisitors. This having been his two associates, made powerful done, sentence was at length passed impressions on the multitude; and on Egidius, declaring him violently the adherents of the Reformed doc- suspected of the Lutberan heresy, trine at Seville continued to increase. and condemning him to abjure the The Inquisition, indeed, had for propositions imputed to him; to be some time fixed its jealous eyes on imprisoned for three years; to abthe three Preachers ; nor were there stain from writing and teaching for wanting persons ready to accuse ten years; and not to leave the them, especially Egidius. Surmises kingdom during that period, under unfavourable to his orthodoxy were pain of being punished as a relapsed circulated, spies were set on his con heretic. He appeared among the duct, and secret consultations held criminals condemned to penance at as to the surest method of effecting Seville, in 1552. His term of imhis ruin. About this time he was prisonment having expired in 1555, deprived of his two trusty associates, he paid a visit in the following year -Vargas being removed by death, to Valladolid, where he found a and Constantine being called into number of converts to the Reformed the Netherlands.
doctrine. His spirit was refreshed So great, however, was the repu- by what he saw of the grace of God tation of Egidius, that his enemies in that city; and, after spending were afraid to proceed against him ; some time among his brethren, and and, in 1550, the Emperor Charles exhorting them to be constant in V. nominated him to the vacant the faith, he returned to Seville, bishopric of Tortosa, which was one where he died soon after, of a fever. of the richest benefices in Spain. He left behind him several composiThis distinguished mark of royal tions in his native tongue, none of favour inflamed the resentment of which have been printed. Among his enemies, and they deterinined to them are commentaries on Genesis, proceed to estremities. They openly on some of the Psalms, and on the charged him with heresy, and pre. Epistle to the Colossians;
also a dicted that his elevation to a bishop- treatise on bearing the cross, writric would be the greatest calamity ten in prison. His bones were subthat Spain had ever known. He sequently taken from their grave, was formally denounced to the In and committed to the flames; his quisition, and very soon after was property confiscated; and his methrown into its secret prisons. The mory declared infamous, by a sencharges against him related to the tence of the Inquisitors, finding that doctrine of justification, assuranc he had died in the Lutheran faith. of salvation, human merits, plurality The progress of the Reformed of mediators, purgatory, auricular doctrine was promoted at Valladolid confession, and the worshipping of by the martyrdom of Francisco San images. He was also accused of Roman, which took place in that having favoured Rodrigo de Valer city in 1544. This young man was on his trial, and of having opposed a native of Burgos; and, being enthe erection of a crucifix in the gaged in mercantile pursuits, went place of one which had been accito the Netherlands. In 1540, being dentally burned. The friends of on business at Bremen, and being Egidius now became alarmed for his desirous of knowing something safety; and through their influence about that doctrine which was 60 the Inquisitors were induced to purmuch condemned in his native counsue a more moderate course than try, he went to one of the churches, they otherwise would have done and heard James Spreng, formerly It was arranged, finally, that he Prior of the Augustinian monastery should draw up a paper containing at Antwerp, but who had einbraced his sentiments on the disputed the opinions of Luther. The sermon
made so deep an impression on San comes to man, not by his own Roman, that he called on the works, merit, or strength, but solely Preacher, by whom he was intro from the mercy of God, through duced to some of his pious and the sacrifice of the one Mediator, learned friends; and by their con Jesus Christ; and he pronounced versation he profited greatly. In the mass, confession to the Priest, the letters which he wrote to his purgatory, the invocation of saints, employers at Antwerp, San Roman and the worshipping of images, to alluded to the change which his re be blasphemy against the living ligious sentiments bad undergone, God. His zeal continued to the and lamented the blindness of his last; and he bore a protracted imcountrymen. In consequence of prisonment with the utmost fortithis, he was arrested, on his return tude and patience. He resisted all to that city, by certain Friars, to the importunities used by the Friars whom his letters had been commu to induce him to recant. At the nicated; and several Lutheran books, place of execution he refused to and satirical prints against the purchase a mitigation of punishment Church of Rome, being found in by making confession to a Priest, or his possession, he was thrown into bowing to a crucifix. When the prison. After a rigorous confine flames first reached him, on bis ment of eight months, he was re- being fastened to the stake, he made Jeased at the solicitation of his an involuntary motion with his friends, who represented that his head ; upon which the Friars in zeal was now cooled, and that he attendance exclaimed that he was would be duly watched in his native become penitent, and ordered him country.
Going some time after. to be brought from the fire. On wards to Ratisbon, where the Ger recovering his breath, he looked man Princes were then assembled, them calmly in the face, and said, he obtained an interview with the “Did you envy my happiness ?” Emperor Charles V., and begged Whereupon he was thrust back into him to use his royal power in re the flames, and almost instantly sufstraining the Inquisitors and Priests, focated. The novelty of the crimes who sought, by every species of with which he was charged, joined violence and cruelty, to prevent the with the resolution which he disentrance of the true and saving doc- played on the scaffold and at the trine of Jesus Christ into Spain. stake, produced a sensible impresSome of the Emperor's Spanish at- sion on the spectators. Expressions tendants were so incensed at his of sympathy for his fate, or of astoapplications, that they would in- nishment at his opinions, led to stantly have thrown him into the conversations, in which those who Danube, had not their master inter- had embraced Protestant views easily posed, by ordering him to be re recognised one another. The most served for trial before the proper timid among them were now proJudges. Having been cast into voked to emulation; and, within a chains, and conveyed, in the retinue few years, they formed themselves of the Emperor, to various places, into a church, which met regularly he was at length landed in Spain, in private, for the purpose of reliand delivered to the Inquisition at gious instruction and worship.* Valladolid. When brought before
W. P. B. the Inquisitors, he frankly confessed his belief in the great doctrine of * See M'Crie's “History of the Progress and the Reformation, that salvation Suppression of the Reformation in Spain."
ON THE EARLY WRITERS AGAINST CHRISTIANITY..
The success of the Christian reli- that such a change could be effected gion, notwithstanding the many de- without a miracle, this itself, in the termined efforts which were made words of Chrysostom, would be the for its destruction, affords an argu. greatest miracle.t ment, which infidels have never been Attempts, indeed, have frequently able to answer, of its heavenly ori. been made to do away the force of gin, and of the divine power which the argument from the rapid diffu. protected and blessed 'it. In this sion of Christianity, by representing respect the Christian faith has given the early converts as alınost wholly the stamp of its divinity to the drawn from the lowest dregs of events of its early history. The society, debased by ignorance and giant power which crushed the ser vice; wbile the ornaments of the pents that insinuated themselves age-the Plinys, the Senecas, the into the cradle of the infant church, Tacituses, the Galens-overlooked betokens a more than mortal de. or rejected the Christian system, scent. Or, to have recourse to an their language or their silence illustration from Scripture, rather equally discovering their contempt than from mythology, as it was said for the growing sect which in their of our Saviour himself, in reference time was diffusing itself over the to the miracles he wrought, “ If this Roman empire. Now, in opposiman were not of God, he could do tion to this statement, it may be renothing;” (John ix. 33 ;) so it may marked, that nothing can be more be said of his religion,--that the contrary to the fact, than that the victories it achieved cannot be ex first churches were filled with indi. plained unless we suppose the author viduals of dissolute character. I was God.
And were there no other We have the testimony of the most reason, the remains of ancient Chris- determined enemies of Christianity tianity would be well worthy of our in early times, that the only crime diligent study, as making us masters of an argument which may be + Vultis atheos, rullis deistas, rullis omnc addressed to those who set them Christo al versantes, ad saniorem mentem rer
The selves against the truth.
care 9 Prestò sunt nostræ antiquitates. Præsto
sunt ipsa, tam ciui, tam lata, Christiana rei younger Turretine considers the
incrementa. Nam quod lot gentes, tamque dissirecords of Christian antiquity as tæ, tam nullis allectæ illecebris, tam multis con• presenting an unanswerable argu tra obstaculis pressce, et a patriis sacris abducia ment to the infidel. For it is im sint, et Christo Regi colla subjecerint, id sinc Lko, possible, says he, that so many and
sine miraculis, evenire neutiquam potuit. Et si
evenisse supponatur id ipsum est, teste Chrysosso distant nations, with no entice
tomo, (Ει σημείων χωρίς έπεισαν, πολλά 1ments fitted to captivate the popular μείζον το θαύμα φαίνεται. – Chrysost. 18 mind, and in the face of the most 2 Cor. ii., hom. 6.,) miraculorum longe maxi. formidable obstacles, should have
mum. (Orat. Acadern., p. 9.) renounced the religion of their an
". After the example,' you (Mr. Gibbon)
say, 'of their divine Master, the Missionaries of cestors, and submitted their necks
the Gospel addressed themselves to men, and to the yoke of Christ, without a especially to women, oppressed by the consciousmiraculous interference from hea ness, and very often by the effects, of their vices.' Or if it could be supposed This, Sir, I really think, is not a fair representa.
tion of the matter: it may catch the applause of
the unlearned, embolden many a stripling * “ Elements of Church History. Vol. I. off for ever the sweet blush of modesty, confirm Comprising the external History of the Church ny a dissolute veteran in the practice of his during the first three centuries. By David impure habits, and suggest great occasion of Welsh, D.D., F.R.S. E., Professor of Divinity merriment and wanton mockery to the flagitious and Church History, New-College, Edinburgh ; of every denomination and every age; but still it formerly Regius Professor of Divinity and will want that foundation of truth which alone Church History in the University of Edinburgh. can recommend it to the serious and judicious" Thomas Clark, Edinburgh."
(Bishop Watson's Apology, p. 62.)