Imatges de pÓgina
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more and more a Papist, though he never regained the confidence of the high papal party. At Paris, his books were burned, and, what is worse, his friend Berquin was burned for translating and circulating them. Still, Erasmus clung to the persecuting church, and even framed an apology for it in the case of Berquin. “It is better to err in this way," says he, “ than to permit the unbridled license which prevails in some parts of Germany, where the pope is antichrist, the cardinals the creatures of antichrist, the bishops monsters, the clergy swine, the monasteries conventicles of satan, and the princes tyrants."

The revolution which took place in England, in the year 1533, also had an effect to prejudice Erasmus the more against the Reformation. The king divorced his wife Catharine, renounced the pope, and constituted himself the bead of the English church. And not only so, he commenced persecuting, with fire and sword, all who would not admit his supremacy and sanction his violent proceedings. Among the sufferers were two of Erasmus's most valued English friends, Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More. More, like Erasmus, had been growing more papistical with advancing years. In his later writings, he had showed himself the determined apologist of all the abuses of the old system, — pilgrimages, image-worship, purgatory, monkery, — things at which he had laughed, with Erasmus, twenty years before. He had learned even to connive at palpable persecution; and now the measure which he was prepared to mete to others was meted out to him. For denying the king's supremacy, he was beheaded on Tower Hill, July 5, 1535.

The last dozen years of Erasmus's life were spent almost wholly at Basle. He had many invitations to visit Rome, and other Catholic cities and countries, but he always excused himself on the ground of ill health. The probability is, that, Catholic as he was, he dared not trust himself among bigoted Catholics.

· Erasmus came, at last, to advocate deadly persecution in certain cases. In his tract against the Evangelicals he maintains that some heretics may lawfully be put to death, as rioters and blasphemers.

He had long suffered from a disease of the kidneys, inducing gravel, or the stone, but his last sickness was dysentery. He was sensible that he was going, several weeks before his death, and spoke of his departure with entire composure. He died in a Protestant city, July 12, 1536, without craving or receiving any of those rites which Romanists think so important at the last. He was buried in the cathedral church at Basle, where his tomb, with a Latin inscription, remains to this day.

In person, Erasmus is represented as small in stature, but well shaped, of a fair complexion, with light hair, blue eyes, a cheerful countenance, and very neat in his apparel. He had a feeble constitution, a prodigious memory, and an ease and fluency of expression which rendered him a most agreeable companion. He was remarkable for his wit, of which his earlier writings furnish many examples. Some of bis sarcastic and witty expressions have been often quoted, and will be long remembered. Thus, when inquired of by the Elector of Saxony in regard to Luther and the Reformation, with an affected gravity, he replied: “Luther has committed two unpardonable offences. He has touched the pope's crown and the monks' bellies.”

When informed, at a later period, of Luther's marriage, he exclaimed: “This is just as I expected. The tragedy has ended, like a comedy, with a wedding."

In his note to Archbishop Warham, who had sent him a horse, Erasmus says: “I have received your horse, - a good creature, free from all the mortal sins, except gluttony and laziness. He has some of the qualities, too, of a holy father confessor, being modest, humble, chaste, peaceable, and never bites or kicks."

During the greater part of his life, as we have seen, Erasmus was poor and dependant. At some periods, he seems to have been a persistent beggar. But in his last years, owing to diminished expenses, or to a larger income from his works, he was enabled to lay by a comfortable estate. He left property to the amount of more than seven thousand ducats, the most of which he ordered to be dis

tributed, to relieve the poor and the sick, to furnish marriage dowers to deserving young women, and to assist young men of good character in entering upon the business of life.

The first edition of the works of Erasmus was published at Basle, by Frobenius, in 1510, in nine folio volumes. A second and more complete edition was published at Leyden, in 1706, in ten volumes folio, under the care and inspection of Le Clerc.

As to the character of Erasmus, it is needless to offer much additional remark. He was early enlightened as to the spiritual nature of religion, and the futility and danger of most of the popish ceremonies and superstitions. He opposed and ridiculed them as heartily as Luther. He loved the Bible, and spent much of his time and labor in the study of it, and in making it accessible to others. Still, he could not separate himself entirely from the church of Rome. There were ties binding him to it which he could not sever. And when he was charged with cowardice, with treachery to his own convictions, and with the vain attempt to steer between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, he indignantly repelled the charge. “I am not trying," he said, " to steer between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, but rather between Sylla and Charybdis.”

We do not say that Erasmus was not a Christian, even in the best sense of the term. We hope and trust that he

But he had many infirmities, which require to be overlooked, -faulls, even, for which we search in vain for a sufficient apology. He is chiefly to be respected as a man of letters, who, in the great period of dawning intellect, stood first among the foremost, tearing away the rubbish of the Middle Ages, and preparing for the triumphs which were soon to follow. If not directly connected with the Reformation, he was the forerunner of it, commissioned, like the Nazarite of old, to prepare the way of the Lord.

was.

ARTICLE V.

CLOSE COMMUNION.

BY REV. ALVAI NOVEY, D.D., PROFESSOR IN NEWTON THEOLOGICAL

SEMINARY.

It is our purpose in the present Article to state the chief reasons which have led the Baptists of America, with few exceptions,' to invite only Christians of their own faith and order to the Lord's table; believing that such a statement will tend to promote Christian fellowship between them and others. Should this discussion seem to be tinged in any degree with a partisan or uncharitable spirit, we beg leave to disclaim such a spirit, and to refer the evil to its proper source, inaccuracy of language. Without expecting that the following argument will be deemed conclusive throughout by the majority of our readers, we certainly anticipate their assent to a large part of it, and we bespeak for the whole a candid perusal. It will be necessary for us to mention, at the outset, a few doctrinal principles which underlie the argument for “close communion.” These principles are held to be true and fundamental by nearly all the members of Baptist churches in our land. We shall state them as briefly as comports with the design of this Article, not attempting an extended vindication of their truth.

One of these principles is, that the New Testament is our ultimate authority in respect to church order and action. Accepting without reserve the doctrine of the plenary inspiration of the Old Testament scriptures, and believing that to the end of time they will be exceedingly precious and useful to the Christian, we are nevertheless

' It is proper to say that we refer to regular, or Calvinistic, Baptists only. In this country the Free-will Baptists practise open communion, while those of England practise what is called close communion. VOL. XIX. No. 73.

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unable to discover in them any proper model or account of a Christian church. Their laws, and histories, and songs of praise bear the impress of Judaism. Even their predictions of the Messiah and his reign are expressed in language determined by the peculiarities of that dispensation. And surely it will be admitted that the Mosaic economy differed greatly from the Christian. The former had a national organization, a national temple, a national atonement; the latter has none of these. The former had an extensive and burdensome ritual, — sacrifices, oblations, purifications, to be made by those who served unto the shadow of heavenly things; the latter has almost no ritual at all. No ordinance of the earlier economy is preserved without change in the later. No rule as to meats and drinks, divers washings and carnal ordinances, imposed until the time of reformation, is taken up by the new economy and laid on the necks of believers for all time. The handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, has been blotted out. The Jewish nation may indeed have been typical of the spiritual Israel or kingdom of Christ, just as the Jewish sacrifices were typical of Christ, the Lamb of God; but it would be as unsafe to infer the organization of a Christian church from the national organization of the Israelites as it would have been to infer the manner of Christ's death from the manner of slaying a lamb by the Jewish high-priest. Bearing in mind, then, the difference between the two economies and the natural dependence of language in every age upon previous or existing usages and institutions, we are not surprised that the Old Testament fails to describe beforehand with literal accuracy the polity and working of a Christian church; much less are we surprised at the impossibility of deriving the rites of the new dispensation from those of the old. Evidently, so far as the Bible is concerned, we are remitted to Christ and his apostles for light on all questions of church order and action. And as to extra scriptural teaching, we shall hardly be expected to go far in search of it while the Word of God is intelligible, and the language of Chillingworth is

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