The Life of the Truly Eminent and Learned Hugo Grotius
by Jean Levesque de Burigny
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Of all the tragic Poets, his favourite was certainly Euripides. We have already seen that he translated the Phoenissae in 1630. He afterwards revised and corrected it, as appears by a letter to his brother, September 3, 1639[539]. His translation of the Iphigenia in Tauris is mentioned in several letters[540]. He likewise turned into Latin the Supplicantes of Euripides, of which he speaks to his brother[541]. The learned Father Berthier[542] has lately informed us, that this translation still exists in the library of the Jesuits college at Paris. "One of the most precious pieces, and which alone would have been sufficient to give value to this manuscript, is the entire translation of Euripides's piece, entitled Supplicantes, added at the end of the volume by way of desert: the whole is in excellent Iambic verses: we would cite some part, if we had not already trespassed too far on the complaisance of the reader."

In 1629, Grotius wrote to his brother[543], that he had finished a piece, proving that the war between different Princes ought not to injure the free trade of the powers not engaged in it. This is all we know of the treatise, which is now lost: we are equally ignorant of a work, entitled, The Portrait of Zeno, which he mentions in several letters[544], and seems very desirous of having it printed. He left several manuscripts in his closet, which, after his death, were purchased by the Queen of Sweden from his wife: among these[545] were, Notes on some of the most difficult Laws; A Comparison of the Republics of Athens and Rome with that of Holland; Notes on the Hymns of Orpheus, and an Illustration of the Books of Moses by the Writings of the Pagans. The author of Vindiciae Grotianae[546] speaks of a manuscript of AEschylus with Notes by Grotius. Many of his books were filled with marginal notes. He tells us[547], that he had collected, with great care, the remains of the apostolical Fathers, and that he had thoughts of translating that part of Josephus's history, which relates to the law, and of adding notes to it. But probably the execution of this project was hindered by his other studies, and the information he received, that Samuel Petit, who was well skilled in the learned languages, had the same design.


[534] Ep. 191. p. 811.

[535] Ep. 194. p. 814. & 196, p. 113.

[536] Ep. 1627. p. 719.

[537] Ep. 683. p. 961.

[538] Fab. Bib. Graec. tom. 1. p. 471. & 472.

[539] Ep. 506. p. 885.

[540] Ep. 402; p. 869. & 595. p. 236.

[541] Ep. 683. p. 961.

[542] Art. 91. August, 1751. p. 1807.

[543] Ep. 207. p. 817.

[544] Ep. 465. & 466. p. 886. Ep. 469. p. 887.

[545] Observat. Hallenses, 24. t. 7. p. 350. Bib. Remons. p. 80. Fabricius Bib. Graeca, t. 1. l. 1. c. 19, p. 117.

[546] Vindiciae, p. 841.

[547] Ep. 391. p. 866. & 768. p. 330.

XV. His Letters may be regarded as Treatises; the collection we have of them is a treasure not only of public but of literary history, and contains many dissertations on the most important subjects. The XXXIst, to Gerard Vossius, and XXXIIId, to John Utengobard, treat of Predestination and Grace, according to the Arminian system. We have already spoken of the LIVth, addressed to Du Maurier, the French Ambassador in Holland, and containing a method of study for grown persons. The LXIId, to the Baron de Langerac, the Dutch Ambassador in France, is a formal treatise on a piece of Du Moulin concerning the government of the ancient Church; the means of reconciling Grace with Free-will; and the authority of Sovereigns in matters ecclesiastical. He treats in the XCIst, to Vossius, of the effects of Christ's death. The CCLXIVth, to the celebrated Nicholas Peyresc, Counsellor of the Parliament of Aix, is rather a book than a letter, being a collection of all that the Ancients have said of Nicholas Damascenus, which leaves us at a loss with regard to nothing that could be known concerning that celebrated writer.

The CCCXXIXth, to John Descordes, Canon of Limoges, treats of the power of Bishops over the Monks, and several other points of the ancient Church discipline. He proves, in the CCCLVIIth, to Jerom Bignon, Advocate-General, that the letter ascribed to Pope Clement, which was published in 1633, is really his. His letters to his brother treat of the Law of Nature and several points of Civil Law: and a letter, addressed to John Isaac Pontanus, contains his remarks on what Cluverius has said of the antiquities of Germany.

The most interesting literary occurrences of his time are to be found in his letters, always accompanied, with instructing reflections: in fine, his negotiations, and the great events of the last ten years of the reign of Lewis XIII, are very particularly, and, for the most part, very truly related in them.

We must not conceal that Du Maurier, the son, whose anecdotes are full of blunders, advances[548] that, when Grotius desired to be recalled, the High Chancellor readily took him at his word, because, says he, Grotius sent him only the news that every body knew. Father Bougeant repeats this passage with great complacency; but he would have done much better to have read Grotius's letters with attention, than to censure them without reason. By their assistance he might have rectified several dates in his work, which, otherwise, deserves the public esteem. Another author, whose history is written with indiscretion and partiality, but who was nevertheless well acquainted with the events of the age of Lewis XIII, sets a high value on Grotius's letters[549]: I mean Le Vassor, whose judgment deserves the more regard as he had little turn for panegyric. He refutes those who advanced that Grotius employed his fine Latin to send Oxenstiern the lies of the day; and maintains that such as say this, have either never read Grotius's letters, or are unacquainted with the history of Lewis XIII. He does not deny, that, among the many pieces of news contained in them, there are some without foundation; but he excuses him, because a Minister is obliged to write what is generally reported. He adds, "Those, who shall read Grotius's letters with a little discerning, will find in them the most secret affairs of the times of his embassy touched upon in few words, with great delicacy and moderation." Grotius himself acquaints us, that he used great circumspection in writing news to the High Chancellor[550]. "I must beg, says he, of your Sublimity, to pardon the shortness of my letter: I chuse rather to say little, than write what is false; and would fain send you nothing that is uncertain: but this is attended with much difficulty amidst so great obscurity.—Living among people, he says in another letter[551], who are very close, and receiving news which are often mixed with falshood, I am sorry to be obliged to give you my conjectures in the room of certainty; but there is nothing to apprehend from such an equitable Judge, who has regard to the good intention."

This made him easy; and what ought to give us a high idea of his Letters, is, that they greatly pleased the High Chancellor[552]; and Muller, the Swedish Ambassador, set a high value on them[553].

The author of Vindiciae Grotianae assures us[554], after Morhof, that Grotius's Letters are not all printed; and he adds, that he knew a cabinet in which were preserved upwards of two hundred and sixty, written to Queen Christina and the High Chancellor. Bunau, a Privy Counselor at Dresden, is said to have had many of them. Puffendorf saw several in cypher, to which he had a key. Among those, which are printed in the collection of Grotius's letters, there are some in cypher, relating to the general affairs and secret intrigues of the Court of France. M. de Boze has a copy of these letters in his curious cabinet, with an explanation of the cypher, given him by a Swedish gentleman, which he communicates to those who desire it, with a politeness that it were to be wished were common to all men of learning.


[548] Memoires, p. 423.

[549] Le Vassor, t. 8. 2 partie, l. 40. p. 277.

[550] Ep. 537. p. 210.

[551] Ep. 550. p. 214.

[552] Ep. 55. p. 492.

[553] Ep. 1094. p. 492.

[554] P. 846.

XVI. One of the most interesting parts of Grotius's life is the knowledge of his sentiments in religion, and the ardent zeal with which he undertook to reunite Christians in one belief. Brought up in the principles of Protestantism, he had in the former part of his life a great aversion to Popery. A letter to Antony Walaeus, Nov. 10, 1611[555], in which he opens all his mind, acquaints us, that however much he might be attached to the prevailing religion in the State wherein he lived, he was persuaded that the Roman Catholics held all the fundamental truths; but they superadded, he thought, several other articles, which he treated as new opinions. The zeal of the Jesuits for the Roman Catholic religion, and their attachment to the Pope, had rendered them extremely odious to all the enemies of the Romish church. Grotius viewed them in the same light, agreeably to the sentiments which had been instilled into him in his infancy, as we find in a letter written, April 1, 1617[556], to his brother then in France; but when he came to riper years, he did them justice, highly valuing their society, and receiving many of them into his confidence, particularly the learned Dionysius Petavius.


[555] Ep. 14 p. 4.

[556] Ep. 15. p. 759.

XVII. Even when farthest removed from the Roman Catholic Church, he paid the greatest regard to the decisions of the ancient councils, to the discipline of the primitive Church, and the authority of the Fathers. He writes, June 6, 1611, to John Utengobard[557], that he highly respected the ancient councils which condemned Manicheism and Pelagianism. He declared to Vossius, July 17, 1616[558], that none held the doctrine condemned by the ancient Church in greater detestation. "Besides the hatred, says he to Antony Walaeus, which I profess to the tenets that were unknown to pious antiquity, nothing more engages me to condemn, and overturn, as far as I can, this sort of opinions, than their being an obstacle to peace."

In the explanation of Holy Scripture he would have the sentiments of the ancient Church adhered to. This point he treated at a conference with the Prince of Conde, in the beginning of 1639[559]; in which he shewed, that to be a Christian, and have a right to the surname of Catholic, one must receive the Sacred Scriptures, and explain them not according to the interpretation of private persons, which had often given occasion to seditions, schisms, and even wars, but according to the sentiments of the ancient Churches, chiefly to be found in the Creeds, and in the acts of General Councils.

He was so persuaded of the truth of these principles, that in an advertisement, prefixed to his Commentary on the New Testament, he declares that if he had written any thing inconsistent with the interpretation of Holy Scripture by the ancient Church, which he hoped he had not, he would chuse to have it neglected, and was most ready to alter it.


[557] Ep. 28. p. 9.

[558] Ep. 77. p. 54.

[559] Ep. 1108. p. 498. See also Ep. 622. p. 943.

XVIII. This profound veneration for antiquity contributed greatly to render him more favourable to the Roman Catholics. At a time when it was looked upon by the Protestants as a kind of Apostacy, to speak with decency and temper of the sovereign Pontiffs, he ventured to commend Pope Urbin VIII in some verses made in honour of the blessed Virgin. He speaks thus of him in a Letter to his brother of the 21st of February, 1625[560]. "I send my father the Poem on the Mother of God. I would not however have it published, not only because the honour, distinct from superstition, given to the saints offends several of our people; but also because Pope Urbin is commended in it. He is an excellent Poet, as appears from his elegant Pindaric odes. God grant he may be able to unite Christians, who are too much divided, in one faith."

The Reformers were held by him in no great esteem. In 1633 he wrote to Gerard Vossius[561], "I think nothing can be truer than your judicious remark, that the best way to prevent good men from approving of so many different sects would be to shew them, without animosity or passion, from the sole motive of love to truth, that those who avail themselves so much of antiquity have it not always on their side, and that such as promised to restore the Church to its primitive state have not at all times succeeded." He no doubt meant the pretended Reformed.

"The Protestants, says he to his brother[562], go too far when they accuse the Roman Catholics of error; they attack at the same time the whole Greek and Latin Churches, those of Syria, Arabia, and Egypt, and thereby very imprudently furnish arms to their adversaries. I see, he writes to Vossius[563], that those who have erected new Churches among us, have followed their own ideas, but have not always advanced the affairs of Religion."

Salmasius was as zealous for the pretended reformed religion, as he was become indifferent to Grotius. However they visited one another, but it was with much coldness. "Salmasius (he writes to his brother[564], February 10, 1641) came to see me: he is ready to defend the most outrageous opinions; among others, that St. Peter never set foot in Italy. It is surprising what a party spirit will do."

Grotius looked upon almost all the Reformed as factious men[565]. He had no esteem for Calvin; speaking of Cassander, he says he was a very excellent, and at the same time a very able man, and therefore most worthy of Calvin's hatred: he advised James Laurentius to read, instead of Calvin's Institutions, Vincent de Lerins. "I hear[566], says he to him, that you are less seditious than most of your order (that is, the Protestant Clergy) and that you only suffer yourself to be drawn away by others: wherefore I will give you one good counsel: read the Scriptures in the original, the confessions of faith of the ancient Christians, instead of the Belgic Confession, the Catechisms of Cyril in the room of Ursinus's Catechism, and the acts of the General Councils, and not those of the Synod of Dort: you will then easily perceive that Grotius is not become a Papist, but Laurentius turned a Calvinist." Laurentius wrote against him: but Grotius took his revenge[567] by silence. He did not approve of the separation of the Protestants; he thought these new Churches, these new Rites had not at all contributed to the promoting of piety. "It is just, said he[568], to reform our manners: but would it not have been better for us, after reforming ourselves, to have prayed to God for the reformation of others; and for the Princes and Bishops, who desired a reformation to have endeavoured to procure it by general councils, without breaking the unity." A Minister called D'Or, turning Roman Catholic[569], Grotius discovered little concern at it, and speaks of it with great calmness in a letter to his brother. "What D'Or has just done, says he, the learned Pithou did before him: Casaubon was resolved to do the same had he remained longer in France, as he assured several persons, and among others Descordes. I would fain, continued he, have the abuses that have crept into the church remedied, and will always say so; but is it just, or are there any examples, that it should be done by schism? This ought to be the more weighed, as we easily perceive that those who have formed new parties had not always the Spirit of God; that they have propagated new abuses, and that this licence to separate themselves has given rise to different parties which will never be united." He speaks in another place of Casaubon's sentiments[570], and pretends that this learned man thought the Roman Catholics of France better informed than those of other countries, and came nearer to truth than the Ministers of Charenton.

He explained himself very frequently and very sharply against the schism of the Protestants. "Viretus, and the rest, says he[571], ought not to have erected new churches: yet they have done it before they were excommunicated: even an unjust excommunication would not have entitled them to erect altar against altar." He recites several passages from the Fathers on this subject, by which he pretends to confute the first reformers[572]. He came so near the Roman Catholics in the end, that in a letter to his brother he has these words: "It cannot be denied that there are several Roman Catholic pastors here who teach true religion, without any mixture of superstition: it were to be wished that all did the same." In his later works he speaks of Calvin with the highest indignation[573]: "I know, he says, with what injustice and bitterness this Calvin treated Cassander, Baudoin, and Castellio, who were much better men than himself."

In refuting the apology of Rivetus he speaks with all the zeal of a Roman Catholic Disputant, and proves that the Calvinists are Schismatics, and had no mission; that they neither had miracles for them, nor any particular command from God: that the Ministers are factious spirits, who seek only to disturb the State: that their religion is new, and has not antiquity on its side. In his youth he had commended Beza in some anapest verses; extolling him as one of the most zealous defenders of the truth: he afterwards retracted this elogium, and wished it buried in eternal oblivion.

In fine, the Jesuits, who were the objects of his aversion before he knew them, became his friends. He was reproached with this; and mentions the accusation in a letter to his brother[574]. "I am not, says he, the common defender of Jesuits; but the King looks on them as good subjects and employs them on several occasions." He publicly took their part in some of his works. He maintains in his pieces against Rivetus[575] that the Society had produced very able men of an irreproachable life, and that there were more such among them than among others. "I know many of them, he says, who are very desirous to see the abuses abolished, and the church restored to its primitive unity. The King entrusts them with his most valuable concerns." Father Petau, among others, possessed his confidence, as we have already observed, and shall see again.


[560] Ep. 85. p. 780.

[561] Ep. 935. p. 120.

[562] Ep. 487. p. 864.

[563] Ep. 1004. p. 641.

[564] Ep. 593. p. 913.

[565] Ep. 534. p. 914. 537. p. 916. & 1520, p. 689.

[566] Ep. 1570. p. 709.

[567] Ep. 1078. p. 711.

[568] Ep. 607. p. 938.

[569] Ep. 610. p. 939.

[570] Ep. 613. p. 940.

[571] Ep. 674. p. 959.

[572] Ep. 677. p. 959.

[573] Animad. in animad. Riveti, p. 640.

[574] Ep. 628. p. 915.

[575] Animad in anim. Riveti, ad Art. 6. p. 658. Discussio Rivet. Apolog. p. 694. & p. 681.

XIX. His great knowledge of antiquity and that singular veneration which he always paid to the primitive church made him even in his youth look upon the abolition of episcopacy, and of a visible head of the church, as something very monstrous. He went much farther in the sequel; shewing that[576] Melancton himself wanted the Pope to be left in the Church, and that King James of England and several able Protestants acknowledged the utility of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome: adding, "If several Protestants had made the same reflection, we should have had a church more reformed."

He thinks that this Monarchy (these are his own terms[577]) is of use in the church for maintaining its unity. In fine, in a piece against Rivetus[578], he proves the primacy of the Pope from a passage of St. Cyprian, and adds, "You see that the primacy is hereby established; and this name in every society implies some jurisdiction. The Bishop of Rome, says he[579], is Prince of the Christian Aristocrasy, as it has been called before our time by the Bishop of Fossombrone. This primacy is under Jesus Christ, and may be exercised without tyranny, and without destroying the rights which the Bishops have over the churches committed to them." He entertained favourable sentiments of the Episcopal authority even before his embassy; and thought it necessary to preserve the unity of the Church[580]. "It is a question only in name[581](says he to his brother some years after) to ask whether Episcopacy be of divine right: it is sufficient that Jesus Christ has set the example in the college of Apostles; that the Apostles have followed it, and that this establishment has been approved by the universal consent of the Church, excepting some innovators of the present age."

He handles this point in the eleventh Chapter of the treatise Of the power of Sovereigns in matters of Religion[582]; he says it is fanaticism to advance that a Bishop has nothing above a simple Priest. "Episcopacy, says he[583], that is to say the preheminence of a Pastor, is not contrary to the Divine right. It is incumbent on him who thinks otherwise, that is, who accuses the whole ancient Church of folly and impiety, to prove his opinion. That Episcopacy[584] was received by the whole Church appears from the general councils, which have always had great authority with all devout men; witness the national and provincial councils, where we find certain marks of the Episcopal precedency; witness all the Fathers without exception. Episcopacy began with the Apostles[585]: to be convinced of this we need only have recourse to the catalogues of Bishops in Irenaeus, Eusebius, Socrates, Theodoret, and others, who all make them begin with the Apostles. It would be very great obstinacy or disrespect to reject authors of so great weight, who unanimously agree in an historical fact. The history of all ages informs us of the advantages which the Church has derived from Episcopacy[586]." However he did not yet venture to say[587] that Episcopacy was of Divine establishment: he contented himself with maintaining that it was of Apostolical institution. This was sufficient to offend a party among whom there were some who carried their fury and ignorance so far, as to maintain that Episcopacy was an invention of Satan: an expression which scandalized Grotius even in his youth, as appears by a letter written in 1614 to Daniel Heinsius[588]. He became more bold afterwards; and was not afraid to maintain in the face of the pretended reformation[589], that Episcopacy was established by Christ, and that it were to be wished it were restored wherever it had been abolished.

It was in consequence of this respect for the Episcopal College, and its head, that he exposed himself to the indignation of the whole Protestant party, and the bitter invectives of the Ministers, by maintaining that nothing was more absurd than what they had written against the pretended Romish Antichrist.

One of his principal reasons for writing on this subject was a persuasion not only of the truth of his sentiments, as he writes to his brother[590], but that it was his duty to remove every obstacle that obstructed the reunion, "of which I have greater hopes than ever, he says, December 3, 1639. If it is not granted us to enjoy that great blessing (he adds) it is our duty to throw water on the flames, and not oil; and to plant trees that will bear fruit perhaps in another age." He was so pleased with himself for breaking the ice in this matter, that he tells his brother[591] in a private letter, he is persuaded God inspired him with the thought: that he returns him his most humble thanks for it, and that he thought himself in consequence obliged to labour in it with all his might, not only to support the truth, but also because he judged nothing was more capable to appease mens minds and prepare the way to the reunion. "I hope, he says to Vossius[592], to find at least among posterity equitable readers who will thank God for the light which he has been pleased to communicate to me for the understanding several obscure passages of Holy Scripture. I owe all that I have written on Antichrist[593] that is good, not to my own researches, says he to his brother, but to my prayers, and to the goodness of God, who has been pleased to enlighten me, though I did not deserve it." He flattered himself that his works on this subject had undeceived several Protestants[594], and that Rivetus, his grand adversary, was looked upon even by his collegues as a Divine of little judgment and a moderate share of erudition.


[576] Comment. ad. loca de Antichristo.

[577] Via ad Pacem, Art. 7. p. 17.

[578] Ad. Art. 7. p. 641.

[579] P. 642. & p. 695. Discussio Apolog. Rivet. & p. 696.

[580] Ep. 318. p. 115.

[581] Ep. 534. p. 914. see Ep. 739. p. 975.

[582] No 2.

[583] No 3.

[584] No 4.

[585] No 5.

[586] No 9.

[587] No 10.

[588] Burman's Collection, t. 2. Ep. 211. p. 434.

[589] Via ad Pacem, Art. xiv. p. 621.

[590] Ep. 474. p. 889.

[591] Ep. 490. p. 895.

[592] Ep. 1441. p. 653.

[593] Ep. 499. p. 898.

[594] Ep. 501. p. 899.

XX. He had been at first much prejudiced against the opinion of the Romish Church concerning the real presence. We may judge of it by the letter which he wrote June 7, 1622, to Episcopius[595]. "I think, says he to him, that you would do well to confute those who with Cassander believe that one may disapprove the errors of the Romish Church, and yet not be obliged to separate from her communion. Two points especially appear to me to deserve discussion: the first is, whether an action lawful in itself, as the adoration during the time of the supper, ceaseth to be so on account of the error of the Ministers of the Church, who would have this adoration referred to the visible signs."

In process of time he departed from the manner of speaking at least of the Ministers. He acknowledged[596] that in the Eucharistical bread some change is made, which the ancient Latin Church called Transfiguration, and the modern Transubstantiation: when Jesus Christ, being sacramentally present, favours us with his substance, as the Council of Trent speaks, the appearances of bread and wine remain, and in their place succeed the body and blood of Christ.

It is certain that he did not approve of the sentiments of the Calvinists concerning the Eucharist: he reproached them with their contradictions[597]. "The Disciples of Calvin, says he, speak very differently on this subject in their Confessions and in their disputes: you will hear them say in their confessions, that they really, substantially, and essentially partake of Christ's body and his blood; in their disputes they maintain that Christ is received only spiritually by faith. The ancients go much farther, admitting a real incorporation of Jesus Christ with us, and the reality of Christ's natural body, as St. Hilarius speaks."

Thus Grotius was persuaded the term transubstantiation, adopted by the Council of Trent, was capable of a good interpretation[598]: but it is not clear however, that, though he admitted the expressions used by the Catholic Church, he was of her opinion. After approving the term transubstantiation, he adds[599], "And because what is spiritual among the Jews is called real, the terms really, substantially, and essentially, are used in the Protestant Confessions, and by their Doctors." It is plain from what he subjoins, that he sought rather to unite different sentiments by means of equivocal expressions, than by an exact Creed, which might be susceptible of only one sense. "We must not condemn, says he, those who assure us that the Eucharist is but the sign of the body of Jesus Christ, since St. Augustine, with several other Fathers, speak in this manner; and the sacrament is defined to be the visible sign of an invisible grace."

He made a draught of a kind of Formulary, in which the Catholics and Protestants were to join: it was this. "We believe that in the use of the supper we truly, really, and substantially, that is to say, in its proper substance, receive the true body and the true blood of Jesus Christ in a spiritual and ineffable manner." Grotius informs us that this formulary was approved of by the Roman Catholic Doctors and by Protestants: which is not surprising of the Catholics, since the expressions he employs, when taken in their natural sense, comprehend the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church: it is more surprising of the Protestants; but it must be observed that Calvin himself said[600], that under the Eucharistical signs we receive truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ; that Christ's flesh is distributed in this sacrament; that it enters into us; that we are partakers not only of Christ's spirit, but also of his flesh; that we have its proper substance, and are made partakers of it; that whole Christ is united to us, and therefore is united to us in body and spirit, that we must not question our receiving his proper body, and that if there is any man upon earth who sincerely acknowledges this truth, it is he.

These expressions of Calvin were certainly favourable to the opinion of the Roman Catholics: he found himself obliged to make use of such terms, because they had been so long authorised, that he was afraid of appearing desirous to change the ancient doctrine; but the sense he gave them took away their force. The Protestants whom Grotius consulted, agreeable to the opinion of their Master, thought the expression, substantial presence, might be reconciled with their confession of faith; which, denying the real presence, teaches that Christ is united to us only in a figure in the sacrament, and in spirit by faith.

Though Grotius believed that one receives substantially Jesus Christ in the use of the supper, there is no proof of his admitting the real presence in the sense of the Council of Trent: for, besides that his Formulary scarce makes stronger mention of it than Calvin, he seems not to condemn those who admitted only the sign of Christ's body: an indulgence which will never be approved of by a Roman Catholic.


[595] Ep. 181. p. 67.

[596] Via ad pacem art. x. p. 619. & 642.

[597] Votum pro pace, p. 687.

[598] Animad. in Animad. art. x. p. 642.

[599] Via, p. 619.

[600] Variations, l. 9. p. 37.

XXI. He justifies the decision of the Council of Trent concerning the number of the sacraments in his works against Rivetus. "The word sacrament, though sometimes taken in a more general signification, may nevertheless, says he[601], be understood in a more limited one of these seven external signs, which are designed for the good of our souls, and more distinctly mentioned in Scripture; Baptism in St. Matthew xxviii. 19. Confirmation, Acts viii. 17. Penance, Matthew xvi. 19. the Eucharist, Matthew xxvi. 26. Ordination, 1 Tim. iv. 22. Extreme Unction, Mark vi. 13. James v. 14. and Marriage; Ephes. v. 32."


[601] Rivet. Apol. discussio, p. 698.

XXII. In the examination of the other articles, which divide the Roman Catholics from the Protestants, Grotius continued to lean towards the Romish Church. In 1638 he acknowledges in a letter to Corvinus[602], that pious and able men, who were well disposed towards the Protestants, owned they were mistaken in the decision of the principal controversies between the Protestants and the Romish Church.

After the year 1640 he took no offence at the use of images in churches, and prayers for the dead. He writes to his brother this year[603], "The Lutherans have images, and there are some in several places of England. Montaigue and others have proved that it is not idolatry to have recourse to the prayers of the Apostles and Martyrs."

He explains himself afterwards much more strongly in favour of the Romish Church. He was persuaded[604] that the Cherubims of Moses clearly shewed that images were not forbid. "The honour due to Martyrs, says he, in his Via ad pacem[605], is much greater than what we owe to living Saints, because the Apocalypse tells us, that the Martyrs reign with Jesus Christ: there is therefore no harm in publicly testifying our esteem for them, and celebrating their memories on days set apart for that purpose, and in the places where they suffered martyrdom. The Protestants acknowledge that they pray for the Church: they are in the wrong therefore to look on those as Idolaters; who, agreeable to the opinion of several ancients, think the knowledge of our wants and our prayers may be communicated to the Martyrs by a revelation from God, or by the ministry of Angels. Such, he says in another place[606], as think it idolatry to address, the Martyrs, that they may pray for us, accuse St. Chrysostom, and the other holy Doctors of the Greek and Latin Church, of a horrible crime. For my part, I dare not do this; neither would I blame those who abstain from praying to the Saints. I have also said that true Relics of true Martyrs deserve to be respected."

In fine, in his Votum pro pace[607], he proves by a long series of passages from the Fathers, that the invocation of saints was used by the ancient Church, and therefore cannot be treated as idolatry; that there is no law in the Gospel against the use of Images in Churches, that it cannot be said they are forbid by the law of nature, and that in the times of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine the relics of Martyrs were honoured in the Church. He defends in several places Praying for the Dead, which was practised in all the Churches of the East, as well as of the West[608]: he proves that the ancient Church prayed for the Dead, and that St. Augustine[609] regarded the opposers of this practice as heretics. He maintains[610] that every ancient liturgy has prayers for the Dead, and that as Tertullian relates, they were used in all the Churches in his time. He asserts[611], that the Jews knew and admitted of a Purgatory. One of the articles which made most noise in the beginning of the grand Schism in the sixteenth Century was that of justification, Grotius declares[612], that the more he examined the Scriptures, the greater agreement he discovered between them and the tradition of the Roman Church concerning justification. He was persuaded that it had the same idea of the Catholic Church mentioned in the Creed, as the ancients entertained. He would have men submit to the decisions of general councils[613]; and maintains that a pious and peaceable man ought not to contradict them when their decrees are received by almost all the Churches, especially those which were founded by the Apostles. He means no doubt the Council of Trent.

Grotius must have supposed that the Church could not err, when he wrote[614], "The Bishops of Rome may be in an error, but they cannot long remain, in it, if they adhere to the universal Church." He was persuaded that we run no danger in embracing a doctrine taught by the Greek and Latin Churches[615]: "For, says he, the points in which these two Churches agree have been decided by the Apostles or by general Councils." He maintains that expressions tho' new, ought to be received in Theology[616], when they are supported by the authority of General Councils. This was in opposition to the Protestants, who maintained that the term transubstantiation ought to be rejected on account of its novelty. He is positive that such as depart from what was practised by the whole Church, and confirmed by Councils[617], are guilty of a most insolent folly, as St. Augustine said. He acknowledged the utility of tradition. Had he lived in the time of the Apostles he would have believed, he tells us, what they said, as well as what they wrote[618]. He was persuaded that the goodness of God[619] had not permitted the doctrine of the universal Church to be corrupted, though the manners of the Pastors of the Church might be reprehensible. He entertained the same opinion, he tells us[620], concerning the authority of the Fathers as the illustrious Father Petavius in the Prolegomena prefixed to his most useful body of Divinity.

The works of the Apostolical Fathers were, next to the Scriptures, Grotius's favourite study. When he heard that the Epistle of St. Clement, which had been long lost to the world, was published in England by Junius[621], from a Manuscript brought from Egypt, and written about the time of the Council of Nice, he expressed his satisfaction to Descordes[622], in a letter from Hamburg, dated June 1, 1633. "You gave me great pleasure by informing me of the discovery of the Epistle of St. Clement of Rome. No pains should be spared to recover those Fragments, which partake much of the nature of the apostolical Writings: and they ought not to be wholly rejected on account of interpolations: we must do with them as with metals, separate the dross from the pure metal. Would to God that Father Sirmond, or some one of his society like him, would give us the Epistle of Barnabas, from which there are some quotations in Clement of Alexandria. I remember to have heard Father Sirmond himself say that the Jesuits have this letter."

St. Clement's Epistle was not sent to Grotius till after his departure from Hamburg, and arrival at Francfort[623]. He examined it immediately, and wrote his thoughts of it, July 17, to the famous Jerom Bignon, Advocate-General: After reading it over and over, he remained satisfied that it was the same which Photius had seen, and which St. Jerom, Clement of Alexandria, and before them St. Irenaeus, had; and which was written in the end of Nero's reign, or some years before that of Vespasian; and that it was most authentic, without the least interpolation. As to the second Epistle, ascribed to St. Clement, he did not think it written by that Pope: but at the same time did not question its being a work of the first Century. Grotius agrees in this with the most learned Critics even among the Roman Catholics[624].

He obtained a sight of St. Barnabas's[625] Epistle, of which he was so desirous; but he had not the satisfaction to see it printed. Usher undertook to publish it in 1643; but before it was finished a fire consumed at Oxford what was already printed[626]. Two years after, Father Menard's edition appeared: but this was the year of Grotius's death. To return to his opinion concerning the points controverted between the Roman Catholics and Protestants: he speaks with great contempt of the inadmissibility[627] of grace. His treatise Of faith and works is written against this error. He maintains that it is the most pernicious system that can be introduced; that it is not to be found in any of the Fathers; and was not so much as tolerated in ancient times.

He proves that fasting was very early observed in the Church, as we may be convinced by reading St. Irenaeus[628]; that Lent was always observed by the ancient Church; that the sign of the Cross has something respectable in it, and was used in the first ages, as Tertullian, and others after him, observe; that Virginity[629] is a more perfect state than marriage, as the Fathers taught; that the Romish Church preserved the ancient discipline of the Western Church with regard to the celibacy of the Priests; that Jesus Christ himself taught[630] that such as lived in celibacy were more proper for the ecclesiastical functions; that the African Church agreed in this point with that of Rome; and that, besides, the Romish Church did not refuse to communicate with Churches which permitted Priests to marry. Of all the religious orders he approved most of the congregation of the Fathers of the Oratory, and the institution of the Jesuits, because the first retired when they pleased; and the others might leave the society with permission of their Superiors.

In fine, he speaks of the Council of Trent with great respect. "Those, he says[631], who shall read its Decrees with a mind disposed to peace, will find that every thing is wisely explained in them, and agreeable to what is taught by the Scriptures and the ancient Fathers, as may be seen by the passages cited in the margin."

Such as were displeased with these pacific sentiments, objected to him that he had formerly thought otherwise. Laurentius wrote a piece on this subject, which is mentioned by Grotius in a letter to his brother[632], "Laurentius, says he, objects to me that what I have formerly written contradicts my later works: however, if they be examined by the true rules of criticism, no such contradiction will be found. Farther, if, as I have advanced in years, conversation with able men, and a more perfect examination, have made me change my sentiments, I ought not on that account to be accused of inconstancy, no more than St. Augustin, who retracted many things." He again touches on this point in his Votum pro pace[633]. "If in my youth, says he, having less knowledge than now, the prejudices of education, or a blind attachment to authors of same, carried me too great lengths, shall I not be permitted at present, when I am old, to adopt more reasonable sentiments, after long enquiry and a renunciation of all party spirit?"

It is not surprising that after such a declaration the zealous Clergy sought to render him odious. They printed a book against him, under the title of Grotius papista[634]. It is certain that he gave the preference to the Roman Catholic religion above all the others, and it has even been reported that he promised to M. Bignon, before leaving Paris, to declare himself openly a Roman Catholic[635]. It has also been said that M. Arnaud asserted, that he was informed by a man of honour, who had it from M. Bignon, that Grotius, on setting out for Sweden, declared to this last Gentleman, that as soon as he came back he would make profession of the Roman Catholic Religion. The Jesuits have published a Flemish book under the title of the Testament of Grotius[636], in which they advance that he was ready to turn Roman Catholic: the Author of Vindiciae Grotianae has pretended to confute this assertion by some passages in Grotius's earlier works: but his reasoning must appear absurd, since it was only in the latter part of his life that he preferred the Romish Religion. A Protestant, who could not deny that Grotius gave the preference to the Roman Catholic religion, has ventured to advance, that it was perhaps with a view to be made a Cardinal: this wretched conjecture is Osiander's; but besides that Grotius had a wife of whom he was very fond, he was a man incapable of embracing an opinion from motives of interest.

It is very certain that Grotius was most intimate with Father Petau, who cultivated his friendship (as this learned Jesuit tells us himself in one of his letters) in hopes of bringing him to an open profession of the Roman Catholic faith. This gave M. Varlois occasion to say, in his elogium of Father Petau[637], "What did he not do to gain over the illustrious Grotius to the Catholic Religion? He did not dislike us, he was even almost one of us, since he publicly declared his acceptance of the doctrine of the Council of Trent. One thing only was wanting to him, to resort to our Churches, which he only deferred till he could bring many with him to the unity of the Catholic faith." Father Briet says much the same in his Annals of the World for the year 1645. "This year died Hugo Grotius, the honour and glory of men of learning: his intention was to die a Catholic, but he wanted time; for, as he assured me, he believed as we do."

We read in the Menagiana[638], that when Grotius's death was known at Paris, Father Petau, persuaded that he was a Catholic at heart, said mass for his soul: it was even reported at that time, if we may believe the compiler of those Anecdotes, that Grotius wanted to declare himself before his journey to Sweden, but was advised by Father Petau to go there first, and return afterwards to Paris to settle, and fulfil his resolution. It is improbable that such a zealous Catholic as Father Petau would advise Grotius to defer for a moment the edification of all the Catholics by his return to the Church; but it is certain that Father Petau said mass for his friend. The tradition of this fact is preferred among the Jesuits, and there are people of credit alive who remember to have heard it affirmed for certain by Father Harduin and M. Huet Bishop of Avranches[639].

As Grotius's religion was a problem to many, Menage wrote an Epigram on this occasion, the sense of which is, that as many different sects claimed his religion, as there were towns which contended for the birth of Homer:

Smyrna, Rhodes, Colophon, Salamis, Argos, Athenae, Siderei certant vatis de patria Homeri: Grotiadae certant de religione Socinus, Arrius, Arminius, Calvinus, Roma, Lutherus.


[602] Ep. 966. p. 434.

[603] Ep. 489. p. 894.

[604] Ep. 622. p. 943.

[605] Via ad pacem, p. 623, art. xx.

[606] Animad. in animad. ad. ar. 19. p. 645.

[607] P. 705.

[608] Via ad pacem, p. 626.

[609] Votum pro pace, p. 916.

[610] Animad. in animad. p. 646.

[611] Via ad pacem, p. 626. Animad. in anim. p. 646

[612] Ep. 622. p. 943.

[613] Votum pro pace, p. 727.

[614] Ep. 613. p. 940.

[615] Ep. 668. p. 957.

[616] Via ad pacem art. 1. p. 615.

[617] Art. 7. p. 617.

[618] Via ad pacem, p. 628. Anim. in anim. p. 647. Votum pro pace, p. 724.

[619] Anim. in anim. p. 642.

[620] Votum pro pace, p. 681.

[621] Tillem. t. 2. p. 158.

[622] Ep. 318. p. 113.

[623] Ep. 357. p. 124.

[624] Tillemont, t. 2. n. 13. p. 567.

[625] Ep. 391. p. 866.

[626] Fabric. Bib. Graec. l. 4. p. 174. tom. 3.

[627] Commen. ad loca de Antichrist. Anim. in anim. p. 649.

[628] Commen. ad loca de Antichrist. Via ad pacem, p. 617.

[629] Votum pro pace, p. 750.

[630] Matt. xix. 12. 1 Cor. vii.

[631] Votum pro pace, p. 682.

[632] Ep. 647. p. 951.

[633] P. 702.

[634] Ep. 615. p. 944.

[635] Sent. des Theolog. de Hollande, p. 393. Menagiana, t. 2. p. 298.

[636] Vin. Grot. p. 506.

[637] Vin. Grot. p. 505.

[638] Tom. 4. p. 180.

[639] See Vie du P. Petau, Niceron, t. 37. p. 159.

XXIII. That which contributed to the removal of Grotius's prejudices against the Catholic Church was undoubtedly the project he had formed of reconciling all the different parties which divide Christendom. He saw well the necessity of having the Catholics on his side; and he flattered himself that having gained them, he would easily bring over the rest. M. Huet did not think such a project absolutely chimerical[640]: "The religious differences, says he, which have long disturbed the peace of Christians, are not impossible to be accommodated. If the parties would set about it sincerely, without obstinacy or private interest, they would soon find ways of accommodation; but some of all parties are so warm, that they censure such of their own party as seek to accommodate differences, with no less severity than they do their adversaries. With what presumptuous rigour did Rivetus the Minister treat Grotius for proposing the means of peace? Grotius, in a modest answer, humbles his pride without naming him; humorously pointing him out by that title taken from Catullus[641], Adversus quemdam opaca quem facit bonum barba."

M. Bayle differed from M. Huet concerning the attempt to unite the different religions: he thinks it as great a chimera as the Philosophers stone, or the quadrature of the circle. The truth is, to hope for success in such a project, one must suppose in all men a sincere love of truth, and a readiness to renounce their prejudices, good understandings, and upright hearts.

In this undertaking one essential thing, which must not be forgot, is, that if the Catholic Church, by a condescendance worthy of her charity and her desire that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth, should remit some point of her discipline, she cannot shew this indulgence with regard to any tenet condemned by the Council of Trent, without betraying her principles: there is therefore only one way of reunion, namely, that those who separated from the Catholic Church acknowledge that they have no argument that can justify their schism, and humbly praying to be received into the bosom of their mother, seek to obtain this favour by sacrificing their errors.

It was very common in the last age for men to busy themselves in finding out ways of reconciliation between the Protestants and Roman Catholics: the Reformed set about it; and I cannot forbear relating here the extravagance of Cregutius, Minister of Montelemar, who in a small treatise, which I have in Manuscript, on the question, Whether an union with the Romish Church is to be hoped for or not? decides it in the affirmative, provided (says he) the Church of Rome begin with renouncing the doctrine of transubstantiation: of which he doth not despair. Grotius with more good sense laboured from his youth in the grand project of reconciling all the parties into which Christians are divided. His good intentions were known to Europe before his escape from Louvestein: Du Vair, Keeper of the Seals, complimented him on his design. "God, says he, has ordered it so that you should owe your deliverance entirely to him, to the end that being delivered from worldly distractions, you may employ the rare talents with which he has entrusted you, in promoting that work which is no doubt most agreeable to him, namely the common peace of Christendom by a reunion of all the members which have separated from their spiritual mother, in whom they or their fathers were conceived. And for as much as it is the thing which many men of honour expect[642] from you, I cannot forbear rejoicing with them, and accelerating by my applause such a happy course." Grotius's answer confirmed the Keeper of the Seals in the idea he had entertained. "God is my witness, says he, how much I am afflicted when I compare the first ages of the Church with our unhappy times, in which the people, differing in articles of faith, have divided into factions, and thereby given occasion to wars of which even the nations of the heathen would have been ashamed. There are doubtless many good men, who grieve to see such a great evil; and, preserving charity for all Christians, ardently desire to see union restored; and are disposed to procure this great blessing by following the Apostle's counsel, to bear with the infirmities of others, and extend their patience and candour to their utmost length: but those rigid notions, which a party spirit has instilled into many, is a great obstacle to the obtaining of this happiness. May God pour out a spirit of charity and meekness on the heads of the Church, on Kings and Potentates, that, surmounting every difficulty, they may without delay restore to the Church her primitive beauty, and above all a solid peace, without prejudice to truth. Many thousands, of whom I am one, pray without ceasing for the execution of this pious design, and desire nothing more than to be employed in it."

Filled with this idea, he proposed to Lewis XIII, in his dedication Of the Rights of War and Peace, to compose the differences of the Churches, and direct the age in which he lived how to terminate them in conformity to the sentiments of that time, when all allow that Christianity was in its purity. He imagined the alliance between France and England would facilitate the execution of a project worthy of such mighty Kings: he had it so much at heart, that he thought himself destined to labour in it from his mother's womb[643]. "It is a vocation, says he to his brother, which God has given me.—I have many witnesses, he writes to Duraeus[644], who knew me in my native country, and can attest not only how much I have desired, but also how much I have laboured to lessen the disputes among Christians, in order to promote gradually the restoration of unity. I might even appeal to yourself, in relation to what has since been done both in Germany and Sweden.—I shall never cease, he says to his brother[645], my utmost endeavours for establishing peace among Christians; and if I should not succeed, it will be honourable to die in such a pious enterprize."

He had the consolation to be seconded in his pacific projects by Duraeus, a Clergyman in Sweden, with whom he cultivated a correspondence for advancing the coalition of Christians[646]. "What you labour in with so much zeal is precisely what I have been employed about since I began to have any relish for divine things. Experience teaches me how many difficulties we must expect both from Statesmen and Divines bigotted to their own opinions, and averse to those of others: but all these obstacles ought not to prevent our undertaking such a good work: if we do not succeed, we shall at least enjoy the satisfaction of having entertained very sublime ideas. For my part, as I have done it already, so I shall still continue to recommend to the High Chancellor your piety, your learning, your good intentions, and your zeal, to which I ardently wish success; and the accounts of your progress from time to time will give me the greatest pleasure.—Duraeus's enterprize is attended with particular difficulties at this time, he writes to Berneggerus[647]: but things as difficult have often had a happy issue: besides, it affords much satisfaction to a man's conscience to have attempted what is highly useful, even though he should fail of success."

Duraeus meeting with great obstacles, Grotius consoles him on that head, in a letter of the 21st of November, 1637. "What gives me hopes, he says, is your constancy, and the countenance of the High Chancellor. I have conferred on this subject with the two English Ambassadors, the Earl of Leicester and Lord Scudamore: they are of my opinion, that the present time, while Europe is engaged in war, is not favourable for convoking a general assembly of Protestants."

Duraeus's project regarding only a union among Protestants, Daille and the ablest men among the reformed Ministers approved of it, with some limitations: there was, however, little prospect of success[648] on account of the intollerant spirit of some turbulent Ministers, such as Voetius.

Grotius had much higher views; he proposed nothing less[649] than to reunite all Christians: in this, he said, he would not cease to labour; and, that it would yield him pleasure to die so well employed[650]; that he gave himself little pain about the hatred he might incur, for if men gave way to this fear, never any vice would be corrected.

What encouraged him farther, in this idea, was the number of great men who entertained it before him. "I am not the only one who hath conceived this project, he writes to his brother[651]: Erasmus, Cassander, Vecelius, and Casaubon had the same design. La Miletiere is employed at present in it: Cardinal Richelieu declares that he will protect the coalition; and he is such a happy man that he never undertook any thing in which he did not succeed: and even if there were no hopes of success at present, ought we not to sow the seed which may be useful to posterity[652]? Even if we should only diminish the mutual hatred among Christians, and render them more sociable, would not this be worth purchasing at the price of some labour and reproaches?"

Arminius may likewise be numbered with those who were desirous of reuniting Christians[653]. The method he proposed was to distinguish fundamental points from such as were not, and leave men at liberty to believe or disbelieve the latter. He communicated his project to Casaubon, who highly approved it: but how shall men settle what articles are fundamental? This question is a source of endless disputes. Besides, they must be able to answer the Roman Catholic Divines, who, building on the doctrine that has been always taught, justly pretend that whatever has been decided to be part of that doctrine ought to be regarded as fundamental. Men could not help approving Grotius's intention; but even those, by whom he was held in the greatest esteem, had no confidence in the success of his project. This made him write to Baron Oxenstiern on the subject[654]. "Even if religious differences, he says, had not given occasion to bloody wars, I should still think it the duty of Christians to restore the unity; since, as the Apostle of the Gentiles tells us, we ought to be all members of one body. But even those, who say they desire it, doubt whether the thing be practicable. I know well that all schism, the further it has extended, and the longer it has lasted, will be more difficult to heal; so many being employed to throw oil on the flames: however, there are examples of inveterate evils that have been cured in the Church. After the Council of Chalcedon there was a very great schism in the East, which continued an hundred years till the reign of Justinian, by whose authority, Pope Vigilius listening at last to terms of peace, an end was put to it. Charles V, Ferdinand, and Maximilian thought that the schism between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants of the Augsbourg confession was not incurable. Melancton and other learned men, whose writings are still extant, were of the same opinion. I have heard from great men, that Henry IV. of France said that he would undertake to obtain, for the King of England and his Protestant allies, such conditions of returning to the unity of the Church, as they could not handsomely refuse; and that he purposed to send some of his Bishops into England to confer on this subject with the Prelates of that kingdom: but this project, which had been concerted with several great men, was defeated by the King's death. I believe the chief difference between the tenets of the Augsbourg confession and those of the Council of Trent lies in the ambiguity of some expressions, which are understood differently; but may be explained, by men of understanding and friends to peace, in such manner, that no difference will remain but in those things which may be left to the free discussions of the Learned, without any injury to the peace of the Church. It is evident, from the examples of the Maronites and Greeks, that those who communicate in both kinds, and use a liturgy different from that of the Romish Church, provided it be susceptible of a Catholic sense, even were it in the vulgar tongue, may be received into the communion of the Apostolical See; and likewise those Churches which allow the Priests to marry. What has been done in Sweden and elsewhere, for the reformation of discipline, by suppressing simony and superstition, ought not only to be retained; but there is room to hope that when unity is restored other nations will follow this example, there being many among them who ardently desire, that the abuses which have crept in may be removed according to the ancient Canons. It is very difficult to render the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome useful, or at least not hurtful to the Church: but if one considers, that the Kings and Bishops of the Romish religion are as much concerned in this matter, as the Protestants, and reflects on the precautions taken in it by France and Spain, he will not despair of finding expedients for securing the authority of Kings, their right in the election of Bishops and the prerogatives of the Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops, agreeable to the Canons and the ancient Church discipline. If the Christian world could have rest from war, the Kings of the Romish communion, who are favourably disposed towards the Protestants, might prepare matters at Rome in such manner as to give hope of a happy issue. I grant that these things are attended with difficulties; but so is every great, and useful, and glorious undertaking; and in such a salutary work we may confide in the Almighty's aid."

After this manner did Grotius write to the Swedish Plenipotentiary, in the end of the year 1614, handling with greater delicacy, as he wrote to Protestants, the nice article of the Pope's Supremacy, in favour of which he had spoken more strongly in the pieces he had just published.

We learn from his first letters, that he communicated his pacific ideas to his father, and that he was early sensible of the great difficulties attending a reunion. He writes to his brother, Oct. 27, 1623[655], "What my father writes, of restoring things to the condition they were in before the Council of Trent, would be a great step; but transubstantiation, and the adoration ordained by the Lateran Council, and the invocation of Saints, which is received in all the liturgies, will be great stumbling-blocks to tender consciences."

Some years after, he imagined that the shortest way to a coalition of Christians would be to reduce the articles of faith to a small number. "It were well, says he[656], if Christians would reflect how few the points are, and how clearly expressed in Scripture, which constitute the Rule of Faith laid down by St. Irenaeus and Tertullian; and as it is not allowed to doubt of these, the liberty left to men in others might contribute to the peace of the Church."

Afterwards he went much farther. "I could wish, he says to his brother[657], Nov. 14. 1643, that Utengobard, when his health will permit, would write something, if he has not done it already, on the necessity of restoring the unity of the Church; and by what means it may be done. Many think that the true way would be to distinguish between what is necessary, and what is not; and to leave men at full liberty in the latter: but it is as difficult to know what is necessary, as to know what is true. The Scriptures, they say, are the rule: but interpreters vary on the passages referred to. I know not, therefore, whether it would not be best to adhere to the sentiments of the Catholic Church concerning faith and good works: for I think they hold all that is necessary to be believed in order to salvation. As to other articles which have been determined by Councils, or received by the first Christians, we must adopt the moderate interpretation, and such we shall find on every point. If any one cannot prevail with himself to be silent in relation to things, of which he has no certainty, but will disturb the unity of the Church, instead of labouring to restore it, matters will proceed from bad to worse."

Sometimes Grotius imagined he should succeed. Nov. 23, 1641, he writes to Gerard Vossius[658], that Codurus, Justellus, and Melitiere, three of the most learned Protestants, had thanked him for what he had written on the Consultation of Cassander. "I perceive, says he to his brother, by conversing with the men of most learning among the Reformed, and explaining my sentiments to them, that they are of my opinion: their number will increase if my treatises are dispersed; in which, I can truly affirm, I have said nothing from a party spirit, but followed truth as closely as I could."

He writes to his father[659], that he was not without hopes of some good effect from his incessant labours to restore peace to Christendom. "That day will at length shine forth, of which we now perceive the dawn: for many great, pious, and learned men, of both parties, begin to see how unreasonable it is to neglect the reformation of manners while we are framing new tenets, and censuring old ones, which require only a good comment. This excellent design I recommend to your prayers; it was you gave me the first hint of it."

He writes to his brother[660], June 15, 1641, "I have received a visit from some Catholic Counsellors of State, and Codurus the clergyman, who expect the coalition will quickly take place, and pay great regard to my opinion. May the God of peace direct the whole to the advancement of truth and piety."

He received the agreeable account, that the pieces he had written to promote the coalition were approved of in Denmark, Sweden, England, Germany, and Poland.

He imagined several Catholics entered into his views. Divers doctors of the Sorbonne, he said[661], thanked him for the remarks he wrote on the Consultation of Cassander. "The ablest men among the Catholics think what I have done, he tells his brother[662], is written with great freedom and moderation, and approve of it."

"We ought not, he says in another letter[663], to regard only the present age, but posterity also: yet I find some people who think they shall live to see the union restored."

He imagined his manner of handling the controversy was approved of by the ablest men of the Romish Communion, and even at Rome because there were most great men in that city.

For some time he entertained hopes that Cardinal Richelieu would favour him: Jan. 19, 1641, he writes thus to his brother[664]: "When my book is published, many Protestants will see that the reconciliation of the Churches is easier than they imagined: for the principal basis of the Reformation may subsist with the Pope's consent, provided the affair be managed with mildness and without giving him offence. I write this on good grounds: Cardinal Richelieu thinks the thing will succeed: he has said so to several."

Grotius had either been misinformed, or the Cardinal changed his language: for the former writes to his brother[665], March 24, 1642, "As Cardinal Richelieu speaks differently from what he did some time ago about the peace of the churches, I am afraid this change conceals some ill design against the Reformed."

Grotius, finding at length that the project of a coalition was impracticable without the approbation of the Catholics, contracted an intimacy with Father Petau, to whom he communicated all his works relating to religion and the reconciliation of the churches. In a letter of the 3d of December, 1640, he desires him to send him his remarks on his works, "That, says he, by your assistance I may add, suppress, or correct, as shall be most necessary for promoting truth and peace. Would to God that I had as much genius and learning as some others: I would accomplish what it is great barely to attempt."

He communicated to Father Petau the manuscript of his answer to Rivetus[666], desiring him to point out what was not agreeable to truth, or had not a tendency to promote peace. "I am resolved, says he, to publish my answer as soon as I have your opinion, to which I pay great regard."

Father Petau gives us the history of his acquaintance with Grotius, in his XIIth letter[667]. "I had, says he, a great desire to see and converse with him; we have been long together, and very intimate. He is, as far as I can judge, a good man, and of great candour. I do not think him far from becoming a Catholic, after, the example of Holstenius, as you hoped: I shall neglect nothing in my power to reconcile him to Christ, and put him in the way of salvation."

Father Petau mentions him again in another letter, written to Cardinal Francis Barberinus[668]. His Eminence had applied to that learned Jesuit for information in what state Grotius had left, at his death, his work on the Antiquities of Sweden. Father Petau makes him this answer. "I had some connection with Hugo Grotius, and I wish I could say he is now happy. Our love to learning began our acquaintance, which I kept up in hopes of being useful to him. Accordingly I saw him often, and he also visited me, and wrote to me frequently." He concludes with assuring the Cardinal, that he would enquire of his widow about his work relating to Sweden.

Grotius's several attempts to restore the peace of Christendom made him be looked upon as a good man by pacific people; but they occasioned him much uneasiness from those, who, being obstinately attached to the opinions of the first Reformers, regarded all that kept any measures with the Romish Church as Apostates. He laid his account with contradictions. Feb. 23, 1641, he writes to Israel Caski[669], "Those who had the same design that I have were generally evil-treated by both parties, and met with the fate of such as would separate combatants: but the God of peace will judge them with justice. They have also on their side pious and learned men, whose merit outweighs the number of the others.—I believe, says he to his brother[670], my Remarks on Cassander will please few, because there are not many skilled in the Scriptures and Antiquity: most people are bigotted to their opinions. I except against such Judges; I regard them not; nor have I any desire to know what they say. I have granted nothing to the Roman Catholics, but what antiquity gives them." The zealous Clergy, not content with writing against him themselves, every where stirred him up enemies: he speaks in his letters[671] of one Seyffectus of Ulm, who, instigated by Rivetus and others of that party, wrote against him.

Several learned men, who had the highest esteem and the most perfect friendship for Grotius, conceived a violent hatred to him on seeing him lean towards the Catholics. He had been extremely intimate with Salmasius: he had received letters from him filled with the most expressive testimonies of friendship[672]; and Grotius had informed him of the happy change of his fortune, because he looked upon him as one of his best friends: they had long kept up a learned correspondence by letters, in which we find a reciprocal esteem and the greatest politeness; but when Grotius set up for a Mediator, Salmasius publicly declared, that he disapproved of the way of reconciliation proposed by Grotius[673]; and from that time his friendship changed into bitter enmity.

Sarrau, Counsellor in the parliament of Rouen, who had been one of Grotius's best friends, as we may see by the letters that passed between them, withdrew his friendship when he thought him in the interest of the Romish Church. May 31, 1641, he writes[674], "What is reported for certain, that Grotius is gone over to the Popish party, is not true: but with great concern we see him every day employed in something very like it: he will not suffer us to rank him in any class of Protestants whatever, because he has used them all too ill in his Treatises on Antichrist and the Consultation of Cassander."

Sarrau also writes to Salmasius[675], that it was publicly said these projects of reconciliation had set the High Chancellor and several other Lords against Grotius. He flattered himself, however[676], that Sarrau approved of his project: for he writes to his brother, William Grotius, "Among some others of the Reformed, Sarrau, who was a Counsellor in the parliament of Rouen, and is at present in that of Paris, praises my design." But it is probable that Grotius took compliments for realities. It is certain that Grotius's schemes displeased Sarrau, and that there was a coldness between them, for the latter writes thus to Salmasius, Feb. 10, 1644[677], "I am not reconciled to the Swedish Ambassador: if I had an inclination to it I believe it might easily be done. The alteration in our friendship does not proceed from my fault, but solely from his plan of pacification, which I do not approve. I esteem him highly, on account of the great services he has done to learning; and shall even never cease to love him: but, far from commending or approving his late pieces, I am greatly dissatisfied with them: however, I would not have the many excellent things he has done slighted on that account. Every one acknowledges you to be the first man in the republic of letters; but it cannot be denied that he holds the second rank. You have no superior, nor even any equal; suffer him to be after you the first."

The celebrated Schurman, whose extensive knowledge had at that time gained her a very high reputation, signifies to Rivetus, Jan. 20, 1643[678], the general discontent of the greater number of the Reformed against Grotius. "Hitherto, says she, every one had a high idea of Grotius's genius and erudition. But since he departed from sound reason, changed the object of his studies, and insulted by gross invectives the whole body of Protestants, and the principal authors of the reformation, everyone seeks for Grotius in Grotius. Nothing can be more ridiculous or foolish than to see a man, who neither agrees with others, nor with himself, as you have well shewn, undertake, without our desire or consent, to reconcile us with the Roman Catholics, and positively decide that we may, and that we ought to come into his views."

Ruarus[679] had predicted to Grotius himself, that he would reap no other fruit of his labours, than the hatred of both parties: but he was at the same time persuaded that no worldly interest entered into Grotius's views, more honest in this respect than the zealous protestant clergy, who were ready to adopt the most gross and groundless calumnies, provided they were levelled against Grotius.

So much contradiction chagrined him greatly, and altered his temper[680]: by seeking to establish peace among men, he lost the tranquility of his own mind, which he had preserved in his deepest adversity. It is said he became suspicious, and peevish, and lost that politeness towards his friends, which had so advantageously distinguished him from other men of learning. It is even reported (but by one of his enemies, indeed) that one day he abused M. du Puis in his [Grotius's] own house, and turned him out of doors, for presuming to contradict him[681]. Yet it is evident from his letters, that he was most intimate with the two illustrious brothers, Mess. du Puis, and was under high obligations to them. "You have always been my best friends (he writes to them, Nov. 19, 1633[682]) and almost my only ones since Rigaut went to Metz, Salmasius to Leyden, and Tilenus died."

A letter to his brother[683], Nov. 1, 1641, clearly shews the change of his temper. Blondius having used Reigersberg, Grotius's friend and relation, very ill, he writes to his brother William: "If Blondius should speak to you, tell him I have a son here, who will send him a challenge, for affronting the Senator Reigersberg." This menace, which seemed to be an approbation of duelling, much surprised William Grotius, who had read in the Rights of War and Peace[684], that this doctrine was clearly condemned by the gospel. Grotius proves in another part of the same book, "That honour being nothing but the opinion we have of our distinguishing qualities, he who bears with a slight injury, thereby discovers a patience above the common; and thus, instead of lessening his honour, adds to it; and that if some people, from a wrong judgment, bestow improper epithets on this virtue and turn it into ridicule; these wrong judgments change not the nature of the thing, nor lessen its real value. This has not only been acknowledged by the first Christians, but by the ancient Philosophers, who, as we have elsewhere shewn, ascribed an impatient resentment of insults to meanness of soul. Should any one even publish things capable of hurting us with good men, that will not authorise us to kill him. If there are authors who maintain the contrary, it is an erroneous opinion which clasheth even with the principles of natural law: for killing the person who attacks our reputation is a bad way of defending it." Thus Grotius thought in his best days. We have enlarged on this head, to shew into what contradiction, and excess of weakness, great men may fall. William Grotius was no doubt astonished at his brother's vivacity, and probably gave him some check for it; for Grotius afterwards writes to him, "What I wrote to you, relating to my son and Blondius, I did it not because I approved of such things, but because that or something worse might happen."


[640] Huetiana, S. 16. p. 46.

[641] M. Huet is mistaken: it was not Rivetus whom Grotius meant by this verse of Catullus, but Laet.

[642] See Votum pro pace, p. 744.

[643] Ep. 534. A matris visceribus.

[644] Ep. 1471. p. 666.

[645] Ep 383. p. 804.

[646] Ep. 801. p. 357.

[647] Ep. 835. p 367.

[648] Ep. 411. p. 871.

[649] Ep. 477. p. 890.

[650] Ep. 487. p. 894.

[651] Ep. 491. p. 895. & 1478. p. 668.

[652] Ep. 494. p. 896.

[653] Ep. praes. vir. p. 251.

[654] Ep. 1706. p. 736.

[655] Ep. 60. p. 772.

[656] Ep. 444. p. 165.

[657] Ep. 678. p. 960.

[658] Ep. 1538. p. 696. & 573. p. 926.

[659] Ep. 496. p. 897.

[660] Ep. 551. p. 922.

[661] Ep. 1533. p. 696.

[662] Ep. 528. p. 400.

[663] Ep. 610. p. 938.

[664] Ep. 530. p. 911.

[665] Ep. 592. p. 934.

[666] Ep. 1569. p. 708. See also Ep. 1576. p. 710.

[667] P. 284.

[668] L. 3. ep. 9. p. 278.

[669] Ep. 1478. p. 668.

[670] Ep. 595. p. 929.

[671] Ep. 637. p. 948.

[672] Ep. 260. p. 88. Ep. 265. p. 99. & 368. p. 134.

[673] Ep. 525. p. 908.

[674] Ep. 42. p. 41.

[675] Ep. 83. p. 84.

[676] Ep. 579. p. 930.

[677] Ep. 111. p. 110.

[678] Ep. p. 203.

[679] Cent. 2. p. 448.

[680] See a letter from Henry Villeneuve, p. 345, after the treatise Of the truth of the Christian religion, by M. Le Clerc.

[681] Osiander. Vind. Grot. p. 464.

[682] Ep. 333. p. 119.

[683] Ep. 572. p. 928.

[684] L. 2. c. 1.

XXIV. The hatred, which his projects of reconciliation drew upon him, contributed to the revival of the invidious accusation of Socinianism, which had been formerly laid against him: they founded it on his silence concerning the Trinity in his treatise Of the truth of the Christian religion, on his praises of Crellius, his connection with the Socinians, and, in fine, on his setting aside, or weakening several passages which established Christ's divinity, particularly that in which it is said, that Christ was before Abraham; Grotius explaining it with the Socinians of Christ's existence in the eternal decrees of God.

It was not only his declared enemies, such as Desmarets, Osiander, and many others, that wanted to make him pass for a Socinian: some celebrated Roman Catholics, among whom we may number M. Bossuet, maintained that he was a favourer of Socinianism.

It is true he did not always express himself with the greatest exactness, and sometimes enlarged more on the necessity of good works, than on that of regulating our faith according to the decisions of the Church[685]: but besides that his expressions are susceptible of a favourable sense, it is evident that there are several tenets, the belief of which he thought necessary for salvation: this manifestly appears from the detail he enters into concerning these doctrines in his later works.

If even some mistakes have escaped him, of which the Socinians might take advantage, these will not authorise us to accuse him of being a favourer of that heresy. We know that never any carried a love to truth, or an abhorrence of falsehood, farther than he did: now he always expressed the greatest aversion to Socinianism: he writes to Gerard Vossius[686], in 1613, that there was no body of any authority in the republic, who held not Socinianism in abhorrence. He wrote against Socinus the book entitled A defence of the Catholic faith concerning Christ's satisfaction against Faustus Socinus of Siena, in which he proves that there is nothing contrary to justice in Christ's suffering, though innocent, for offenders; that even the Pagans believed that God punished the crimes of the fathers on the sons; and that, in the early ages of the world, the innocent children were often punished with the guilty fathers. In fine, he shews that the opinion of Socinus is repugnant to Scripture, which tells us that Christ's death has reconciled us to God, according to the expressions of St. Paul, that he died for us, and that by his death our sins are expiated.

He was very orthodox on the article of original sin; for, he says, the only true opinion on this matter is that of the ancient Church, which is well set forth by the Council of Trent.

The Socinians were far from thinking Grotius so favourable to them: Ruarus writes to one of his friends, "You have reason to think, that hitherto no body has written so learnedly against Socinus, as Grotius: he was always much attached to the doctrine of Christ's divinity, even in his earlier years." Grotius wrote to Walaeus[687], in 1611, "I do not look upon the Samosatenians, and others, like them, as Christians, nor even as heretics; for their doctrine is repugnant to the belief of all ages, and all nations. They retain Christianity in name, but destroy it in fact. I therefore make no great difference between them and the Mahometans, who even do not revile Christ." M. Bossuet, tho' far from being prejudiced in favour of Grotius, allows however that he did not deny the divinity of Christ, nor the efficacy of his sacrifice.

In several of his letters he clears himself from the charge of Socinianism in such a manner as leaves us no room to doubt his regarding it as a very dangerous heresy. "I give myself little trouble, he writes to his brother[688], June 4, 1639, about the calumnies spread against me by the worst of men, in relation to Socinianism. They may be easily confuted before equitable judges by the writings which I have already published, and by those I shall yet publish. I have defended the sentiments of the ancient Church concerning the Trinity, Christ's satisfaction, and future punishments, by Scripture and the consent of antiquity; and have confuted the contrary opinions. Calvin might more justly be[689] accused of Arianism, than I of Socinianism." Sorbiere, who had been his Secretary; discovering a great propensity to some opinions of Socinus, Grotius earnestly admonished him[690] to abstain from such dangerous innovation.

One of the principal grounds on which they went, was, as we have already seen, his silence concerning the Trinity, in his book Of the truth of the Christian religion: but he has justified his method in such a manner, that this objection cannot be sustained by an equitable judge: he seems to have foreseen it; for, writing to his brother from his prison at Louvestein whilst he was composing this treatise in Dutch verse, "My intention, he says, is not to explain the doctrines of Christianity, but to make the profane, the Pagans, Jews, and Mahometans acknowledge the truth of the Christian religion, and afterwards have recourse to our sacred books to be informed of its tenets. The Trinity, and Christ's divinity could not be introduced into my arguments; for these doctrines will never bring over unbelievers to the Christian faith, and those who attempt to demonstrate them by other arguments than such as are drawn from scripture, absolutely lose their labour: but the authority of the scriptures being once established, these doctrines ought to be held proved." He omitted therefore all mention of these points, not because he disbelieved them, but because he judged it more proper to prove first the divinity of the sacred books, and the mission of Christ: and, as we have already observed, the same method has been followed by the most successful writers on the Truth of Christianity.

He has been much reproached with his letter to Crellius. Grotius had written against Socinus, and Crellius, to vindicate his master, answered Grotius with a politeness and good-breeding seldom found in a polemical divine. Grotius thought it his duty to reply to him, and the measures he kept with this adversary were looked on by his enemies as a betraying of the truth. Here follows the letter, which has been so much talked of. "I was so far from being offended, most learned Crellius, with your book against mine that I inwardly thanked you at that time, and now do it by this letter, first, for treating me with so much civility, that the only thing I have left to complain of is your complimenting me in some places too much: next for informing me of many very useful and entertaining things, and exciting me by your example, to examine thoroughly into the sense of the sacred scriptures: you judge very rightly of me, that I bear no ill-will to any one who differs from me, without prejudice to religion; nor decline the friendship of any good man. I have found in your book of the True Religion, which I have already gone through, and shall read again, many judicious remarks: and I congratulate the present age, that there are men in it who make religion consist, not so much in subtle controversies as in amendment of life and a continual progress in holiness. God grant that my writings may produce these sentiments in the minds of my readers: I should then think my life not spent in vain. The treatise on the truth of the Christian religion I wrote more for my own satisfaction, than for the instruction of others. I don't see how it can be useful, after so many other works on the same subject, but by its brevity. If there be any thing in it that pleases you, or such as you, it is a happiness beyond my expectation. My great aim, in the Rights of War and Peace, was to suppress, as much as was in my power, that savage barbarity unworthy not only of a Christian, but of a man, which, to the misfortune of nations, is now too common, of beginning and carrying on wars by caprice. I hear with pleasure that this work has got into the hands of Princes: God grant they may retain what is good in it; for that would be the most agreeable fruit I could reap from my labour. If ever any occasion should offer of serving you, of your friends, be assured that I shall be ready to give you proofs of my high esteem. Since I can do no more, I sincerely pray that God would protect you, and those who promote religion."

There is another letter from Grotius to Crellius, which has made much noise. After thanking him for a book he had sent him, he adds, "I am resolved to read your works again and again with care, having already reaped much benefit from them. I have always loved peace, and love it still; and am grieved to see so much enmity between those, who call themselves Christians, for such trifling matters[691]."

Crellius having shewn these letters to several, the Socinians and Grotius's enemies spread a report, that he favoured Socinianism: even extracts of these letters were printed. He protested against the abuse made of them, and maintained[692] that if people would candidly read his works, they would easily be convinced of the injustice of ranking him with Socinians.

It is certain, that, notwithstanding the terms which he makes use of in writing to Crellius, he did not at bottom approve of his book: he writes thus in confidence to his brother[693], "I have read Crellius's book: he writes with candour, and doth not want learning; but I cannot see how he will promote religion by departing from the Scripture manner of speaking authorised by antiquity."

"If I have not answered Crellius, he says in another letter[694], it was for prudential reasons, and even by the advice of the Protestants of France, who think that the questions being unknown in this country, ought not to be made public by a confutation. It is easy to refute them with glory, though every one is not capable of it: but, it is still better that they should remain unknown." He speaks, in the same letter, of Socinus as a man very little versed in the sentiments of antiquity, and whose errors he had confuted in many of his works. "Must I also excuse myself, he asks, for not shutting my door against Martinus Ruarus, who desired to see me? The time was not lost that I spent in conversing with him, nor am I sorry for his visit. I acquainted him with my reasons for enquiring into the opinions of the ancient Churches, and for following them: I shewed him that the doctrine of satisfaction was no ways contrary to reason, even in the judgment of the Jews, and brought him some signal proofs of it. I did not conceal what violence it was to the Scripture, and of how dangerous consequence, to deny the eternity of hell torments; and I flatter myself I advanced more with him, than those would have done who abound in reproaches; nor do I see why I should abstain from writing to him, when I find the pillars of the Greek Church corresponding by letters even with Pagans. For my part, I am resolved and accustomed to preserve friendship for all men, particularly Christians, although erring; and I shall never blush at it."

He advances almost the same reasons to clear himself from the charge of Socinianism, in a long letter to Gerard Vossius[695], of which we shall make no extract to avoid repetitions.

In fine, those who knew Grotius best have defended him on this head. The celebrated Jerom Bignon, who lived in much intimacy with him, could not bear to [696]hear him accused of Socinianism: he said he knew him perfectly, and so far from being a Socinian, he had sometimes seen him almost in a disposition to turn Roman Catholic. His intimate connection with Father Petau, whose zeal for the orthodox faith was equal to his profound learning, is a clear evidences that the Jesuit did not think him a Socinian. No man was more exposed than Grotius to groundless accusations. An anonymous piece was written against him, accusing him of being a Semi-Pelagian: he did not think proper to publish a defence; but he mentions this accusation in a letter to his brother[697] of the 29th of May, 1618. "In my treatise De ordinum Hollandiae pietate, I have mentioned Semi-Pelagianism as a very grievous error. The sentiments of the Remonstrants are very different from Semi-Pelagianism, for the Priests of Marseilles, who were called Semi-Pelagians, or the remains of the Pelagians, in speaking of the necessity of grace, denied that grace preceded good motions in the foul, at least in some men: the Remonstrants, on the contrary, maintain, that all that is spiritually good in us, even the beginning of it flows from antecedent grace. Consult the Synod of Orange, by which the Priests of Marseilles were confuted. But those that believe predestination is a consequence of prescience, or that grace is given to all men, or in fine that it may be refilled, are certainly not Semi-Pelagians."

They carried their calumnies so far, as even to accuse him of Judaism. We read in the Patiniana[698] that M. Bignon, Advocate-General, affirmed that Grotius had acknowledged, if he would change his religion, he would turn Jew. John Mallet, in his book Of Atheism[699] has not only advanced that Grotius judaised in his Commentary on the Prophets, but that if he had lived much longer he would have become a Turk.

Even the immortality of the soul, said others, he did not believe[700]: this ridiculous tale is grounded on these words of the Chevreana[701]: "Charles Lewis, Elector Palatine, formerly told me, that having asked the celebrated Grotius, whether the immortality of the soul could be demonstrated, he answered, Not well, my Lord; not well."

It is universally known that these books in Ana are of little authority. We must be informed of all the circumstances of this pretended conversation before we can determine Grotius's meaning: one thing is certain, that he has proved the immortality of the soul by arguments drawn from reason in his treatise On the Truth of the Christian Religion[702].


[685] Theological works.

[686] Ep. 20. p. 7.

[687] Ep. 14. p. 5. See also Oper. Theol. t. 3. p. 99.

[688] Ep. 556. p. 883.

[689] Ep. 502. p. 884.

[690] Ep. 1564. p. 708.

[691] These expressions afterwards gave occasion to the accusations of Socinianism brought against Grotius.

[692] Ep. 440. p. 880.

[693] Ep. 135. p. 794.

[694] Ep. 880. p. 387.

[695] Ep. 1096. p. 492.

[696] Menag. t. 2 p. 298.

[697] Ep. 19. p. 760.

[698] Patiniana, p. 18.

[699] Vind. Grot. p. 557.

[700] Animad. Phil. & Hist. Crenii, part. 10. p. 113.

[701] T. 1. p. 168.

[702] L. 1. S. 23.

XXV. If Grotius's merit stirred up envy, and if his projects of reconciliation procured him hatred, the more irreconcilable as it was founded on a religious pretext, he had also a great number of friends and judicious persons for him, who did justice to his virtue and his talents. We shall not enter into a detail of all the testimonies in his favour, they would fill a large volume: we shall confine ourselves to the Elogiums of those whose suffrages deserve most attention. We have already seen, that even when a boy he was highly extolled by the greatest men of his age. Isaac Pontanus, Meursius, James Gillot, Barlaeus, John Dousa, M. de Thou, the great Scaliger, Casaubon, Vossius, Lipsius, Baudius, celebrated his childhood. He justified the great hopes that were so early conceived of him, and the praises he received were an additional motive to merit the public esteem. Baudius compared him to Scaliger[703], who, he said, was his favourite author. This he wrote on the third of March, 1606, when Grotius was yet much under age. In a scazon, written in his praise, he calls him [704]a great, an admirable, and an original man. "If any, says he in a letter dated October 8, 1607[705], can form a just notion of Grotius's merit, which exceeds all that can be said of it, I am one; and I think him equal to any office. Ignorant people, who judge of virtue by years and a long beard, may object to him his youth; but in my opinion that makes for him, since in his earliest youth he possesses the prudence and ripeness of understanding of the most aged."

The celebrated Peyresc having made a journey into Holland in 1606, would not leave the Hague[706] till he had made acquaintance with Grotius, already famous for universal learning. "Though he was but very young, says Gassendi[707], when Peyresc heard of his arrival at Paris, he said, that France, by gaining Grotius, had a sufficient reparation for the loss of Scaliger; and that if some others had been the ornament of the age, he was the wonder of it; and it is with reason (adds M. Mesnage, after relating this story of Peyresc) that we still consider Grotius as a prodigy of learning, since he has made a greater proficiency in most of the sciences, than many of those who have wholly applied to one of them in particular."

In the funeral Elogium of Peyresc, delivered at Rome December 2, 1637, mention is made of the learned men with whom he was connected. James Bucard, who spoke it, distinguisheth Salmasius and Grotius from the rest, styling them the Princes of literature and of the fine arts. We cannot conceive a higher idea of Grotius than the celebrated Gerard Vossius entertained, as appears from the beautiful poem written by him in honour of his friend: we would give it at length if it were not too long, but we cannot omit the last stanza:

Felici omine dicte magne, quid te Sol majus videt? o decus tuorum, Delfi gloria, Patrii Deique amores, Splendor inclute, Belgices ocelle, Orbis delicium, Deique amores!

He never mentions Grotius without admiration. "He is, says he[708], one of the greatest ornaments of our times, or rather the miracle, the eternal honour, of Holland, and of his age." He wrote to Meursius[709], "If we would do him justice, there is none we can place above him, nor even any we can compare with him."

Utengobard, who had been his master, said, that to speak after Grotius, was to expose one's self to be laughed at.

Balzac has employed his most eloquent phrases to express his thoughts of Grotius: he writes to Mesnage, "Is it true, what you tell me, of the Swedish Ambassador, and shall I be so happy to share in his esteem? I tell it you as solemnly as if I were by the altar on which we swore to be friends, that my ambition was dead, but you have revived it, and my transports would be as great as yours, if my blood were as fine and sparkling: who would not glory in the esteem of one whose birth our age ought to be proud of? he is a modern whom the President Jeannin sets in opposition to the greatest of the ancients." In another letter written to Chapelain[710], he says: "Whatever comes from Grotius is a high recommendation of him to me; and besides the solidity of his learning, the strength of his reasoning, and the graces of his language, I observe in it an air of probity, that one may put entire confidence in him, excepting in what regards our Church, to which he is unhappily a stranger."

Colomiez, in his Bibliotheque choisie[711], has collected some of the Elogiums which had been then made of Grotius: "The President Jeannin, says he, according to the relation of Balzac, opposes Grotius to the greatest men of antiquity. Salmasius, in his notes on Solinus, styles him Virum excellentissimae doctrinae in omni genere litterarum; Selden, in his Mare clausum, virum acuminis et omnigenae doctrinae praestantia incomparabilem; Gerard Vossius, in his Latin Poems, Seculi nostri grande ornamentum; Pricaeus, on the xivth of St. Matthew, Virum ingentem, quem non sine horrore mirati sumus: In fine, M. Blondel, who was not lavish of his praise, says of him in his Sibyls, that he was a very great man, whether we consider the sublimity of his genius, the universality of his learning, or the diversity of his writings; in fine, says Colomiez[712], he appears a great critic in his Martianus Capella, his Aratus, and his Stobaeus; in his Notes on Lucan and Tacitus a great historian, a great statesman, a great divine; but however excellent these different works may be, we must however acknowledge that Grotius's Letters and Poems much surpass them; and that if he appeared great in those, in these he is incomparable. But what astonishes me is, that he should have written so many letters, and made so many verses, and all should be of equal strength, that is, that all should partake of the powerful and divine genius which animated that great man." Episcopius, who was regarded as an oracle by his party, looked on Grotius as his oracle. "Your opinion, he writes to him[713], shall be to me the decision of an oracle; for I know your love to truth and friendship for me to be such, that in giving it you regard only truth."

Christian Habsoeker and Philip Limborch speak of him with raptures in the Preface to the Letters of illustrious men: "At the name of the incomparable Grotius, who is above all praise, and even all envy, we are in a sort of transport. How shall we sufficiently praise the virtues of that most illustrious hero, whom all true scholars regard as the most learned of the Learned: we shall only relate the prophecy concerning him in 1614 by Daniel Heinsius in some verses which ought to be put under his picture."

Those lines are in fact the most complete Elogium that can be made of a man.

Depositum Coeli, quod jure Batavia mater Horret, et baud credit se peperisse sibi; Talem oculis, talem ore tulit se maximus Hugo: Instar crede hominis, caetera crede Dei.

Heinsius and Grotius had been most intimate in their youth: the divisions which happened in the Republic destroyed this close union: Heinsius joined the Contra-Remonstrants, and was Secretary to the Commissioners of the Synod of Dort. Grotius had reason to complain of him on several occasions: nevertheless, talking with Cardinal Richelieu about him, Grotius greatly commended his genius and learning. He gives an account of this conversation to his brother; adding, "In this manner I am wont to revenge myself on those who hate me." Cardinal Richelieu, though not prejudiced in favour of Grotius, ranked him however among the three first scholars of the age: the other two were Claudius Salmasius, and Jerom Bignon. This famous Advocate-General said of Grotius[714], that he was the most learned man who had appeared in the world since Aristotle.

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