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Beacon Lights of History, Volume VI by John Lord

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a metaphysical divinity, a theology of the brain rather than of the
heart, a brilliant series of logical and metaphysical deductions from
established truths, demanding to be received with the same unhesitating
obedience as the truths, or Bible declarations, from which they are
deduced. The greatness of human reason was never more forcibly shown
than in these deductions; but they were carried so far as to insult
reason itself and mock the consciousness of mankind; so that mankind
rebelled against the very force of the highest reasonings of the human
intellect, because they pushed logical sequence into absurdity, or to
dreadful conclusions: _Decretum quidem horribile fateor_, said the great
master himself.

The Puritans were trained in this theology, which developed the loftiest
virtues and the severest self-constraints; making them both heroes and
visionaries, always conscientious and sometimes repulsive; fitting them
for gigantic tasks and unworthy squabbles; driving them to the Bible,
and then to acrimonious discussions; creating fears almost mediaeval;
leading them to technical observation of religious duties, and
transforming the most genial and affectionate people under the sun into
austere saints, with whom the most ascetic of monks would have had but
little sympathy.

I will not dwell on those peculiarities which Macaulay ridicules and
Taine repeats,--the hatred of theatres and assemblies and symbolic
festivals and bell-ringings, the rejection of the beautiful, the
elongated features, the cropped hair, the unadorned garments, the
proscription of innocent pleasures, the nasal voice, the cant phrases,
the rigid decorums, the strict discipline,--these, doubtless
exaggerated, were more than balanced by the observance of the Sabbath,
family prayers, temperate habits, fervor of religious zeal, strict
morality, allegiance to duty, and the perpetual recognition of God
Almighty as the sovereign of this world, to whom we are responsible for
all our acts and even our thoughts. They formed a noble material on
which every emancipating idea could work; men trained by persecutions to
self-sacrifice and humble duties,--making good soldiers, good farmers,
good workmen in every department, honest and sturdy, patient and
self-reliant, devoted to their families though not demonstrative of
affection; keeping the Sunday as a day of worship rather than rest or
recreation, cherishing as the dearest and most sacred of all privileges
the right to worship God according to the dictates of conscience
enlightened by the Bible, and willing to fight, even amid the greatest
privations and sacrifices, to maintain this sacred right and transmit it
to their children. Such were the men who fought the battles of civil
liberty under Cromwell and colonized the most sterile of all American
lands, making the dreary wilderness to blossom with roses, and sending
out the shoots of their civilization to conserve more fruitful and
favored sections of the great continent which God gave them, to try new
experiments in liberty and education.

I need not enumerate the different sects into which these Puritans were
divided, so soon as they felt they had the right to interpret Scripture
for themselves. Nor would I detail the various and cruel persecutions to
which these sects were subjected by the government and the
ecclesiastical tribunals, until they rose in indignation and despair,
and rebelled against the throne, and made war on the King, and cut off
his head; all of which they did from fear and for self-defence, as well
as from vengeance and wrath.

Nor can I describe the counter reformation, the great reaction which
succeeded to the violence of the revolution. The English reformation was
not consummated until constitutional liberty was heralded by the reign
of William and Mary, when the nation became almost unanimously
Protestant, with perfect toleration of religious opinions, although the
fervor of the Puritans had passed away forever, leaving a residuum of
deep-seated popular antipathy to all the institutions of Romanism and
all the ideas of the Middle Ages. The English reformation began with
princes, and ended with the agitations of the people. The German
reformation began with the people, and ended in the wars of princes. But
both movements were sublime, since they showed the force of religious
ideas. Civil liberty is only one of the sequences which exalt the
character and dignity of man amid the seductions and impediments of a
gilded material life.


Todd's Life of Cranmer; Strype's Life of Cranmer; Wood's Annals of the
Oxford University; Burnet's English Reformation; Doctor Lingard's
History of England; Macaulay's Essays; Fuller's Church History; Gilpin's
Life of Cranmer; Original Letters to Cromwell; Hook's Lives of the
Archbishops of Canterbury; Butler's Book of the Roman Catholic Church;
Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Biography; Turner's Henry VIII.; Froude's
History of England; Fox's Life of Latimer; Turner's Reign of Mary.


* * * * *

A.D. 1491-1556.


Next to the Protestant Reformation itself, the most memorable moral
movement in the history of modern times was the counter-reformation in
the Roman Catholic Church, finally effected, in no slight degree, by the
Jesuits. But it has not the grandeur or historical significance of the
great insurrection of human intelligence which was headed by Luther. It
was a revival of the pietism of the Middle Ages, with an external reform
of manners. It was not revolutionary; it did not cast off the authority
of the popes, nor disband the monasteries, nor reform religious worship:
it rather tended to strengthen the power of the popes, to revive
monastic life, and to perpetuate the forms of worship which the Middle
Ages had established. No doubt a new religious life was kindled, and
many of the flagrant abuses of the papal empire were redressed, and the
lives of the clergy made more decent, in accordance with the revival of
intelligence. Nor did it disdain literature or art, or any form of
modern civilization, but sought to combine progress with old ideas; it
was an effort to adapt the Roman theocracy to changing circumstances,
and was marked by expediency rather than right, by zeal rather than a
profound philosophy.

This movement took place among the Latin races,--the Italians, French,
and Spaniards,--having no hold on the Teutonic races except in Austria,
as much Slavonic as German. It worked on a poor material, morally
considered; among peoples who have not been distinguished for stamina of
character, earnestness, contemplative habits, and moral
elevation,--peoples long enslaved, frivolous in their pleasures,
superstitious, indolent, fond of fetes, spectacles, pictures, and Pagan

The doctrine of justification by faith was not unknown, even in Italy.
It was embraced by many distinguished men. Contarini, an illustrious
Venetian, wrote a treatise on it, which Cardinal Pole admired. Folengo
ascribed justification to grace alone; and Vittoria Colonna, the friend
of Michael Angelo, took a deep interest in these theological inquiries.
But the doctrine did not spread; it was not understood by the
people,--it was a speculation among scholars and doctors, which gave no
alarm to the Pope. There was even an attempt at internal reform under
Paul III. of the illustrious family of the Farnese, successor of Leo X.
and Clement VII., the two renowned Medicean popes. He made cardinals of
Contarini, Caraffa, Sadoleto, Pole, Giberto,--all men imbued with
Protestant doctrines, and very religious; and these good men prepared a
plan of reform and submitted it to the Pope, which ended, however, only
in new monastic orders.

It was then that Ignatius Loyola appeared upon the stage, when Luther
was in the midst of his victories, and when new ideas were shaking the
pontifical throne. The desponding successor of the Gregorys and the
Clements knew not where to look for aid in that crisis of peril and
revolution. The monastic orders composed his regular army, but they had
become so corrupted that they had lost the reverence of the people. The
venerable Benedictines had ceased to be men of prayer and contemplation
as in the times of Bernard and Anselm, and were revelling in their
enormous wealth. The cloisters of Cluniacs and Cistercians--branches of
the Benedictines--were filled with idle and dissolute monks. The famous
Dominicans and Franciscans, who had rallied to the defence of the Papacy
three centuries before,--those missionary orders that had filled the
best pulpits and the highest chairs of philosophy in the scholastic
age,--had become inexhaustible subjects of sarcasm and mockery, for they
were peddling relics and indulgences, and quarrelling among themselves.
They were hated as inquisitors, despised as scholastics, and deserted
as preachers; the roads and taverns were filled with them. Erasmus
laughed at them, Luther abused them, and the Pope reproached them. No
hope from such men as these, although they had once been renowned for
their missions, their zeal, their learning, and their preaching.

At this crisis Loyola and his companions volunteered their services, and
offered to go wherever the Pope should send them, as preachers, or
missionaries, or teachers, instantly, without discussion, conditions, or
rewards. So the Pope accepted them, made them a new order of monks; and
they did what the Mendicant Friars had done three hundred years
before,--they fanned a new spirit, and rapidly spread over Europe, over
all the countries to which Catholic adventurers had penetrated, and
became the most efficient allies that the popes ever had.

This was in 1540, six years after the foundation of the Society of Jesus
had been laid on the Mount of Martyrs, in the vicinity of Paris, during
the pontificate of Paul III. Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde Loyola, a
Spaniard of noble blood and breeding, at first a page at the court of
King Ferdinand, then a brave and chivalrous soldier, was wounded at the
siege of Pampeluna. During a slow convalescence, having read all the
romances he could find, he took up the "Lives of the Saints," and
became fired with religious zeal. He immediately forsook the pursuit of
arms, and betook himself barefooted to a pilgrimage. He served the sick
in hospitals; he dwelt alone in a cavern, practising austerities; he
went as a beggar on foot to Rome and to the Holy Land, and returned at
the age of thirty-three to begin a course of study. It was while
completing his studies at Paris that he conceived and formed the
"Society of Jesus."

From that time we date the counter-reformation. In fifty years more a
wonderful change took place in the Catholic Church, wrought chiefly by
the Jesuits. Yea, in sixteen years from that eventful night--when far
above the star-lit city the enthusiastic Loyola had bound his six
companions with irrevocable vows--he had established his Society in the
confidence and affection of Catholic Europe, against the voice of
universities, the fears of monarchs, and the jealousy of the other
monastic orders. In sixteen years, this ridiculed and wandering Spanish
fanatic had risen to a condition of great influence and dignity, second
only in power to the Pope himself; animating the councils of the
Vatican, moving the minds of kings, controlling the souls of a numerous
fraternity, and making his influence felt in every corner of the world.
Before the remembrance of his passionate eloquence, his eyes of fire,
and his countenance of seraphic piety had passed away from the minds of
his own generation, his disciples "had planted their missionary stations
among Peruvian mines, in the marts of the African slave-trade, among the
islands of the Indian Ocean, on the coasts of Hindustan, in the cities
of Japan and China, in the recesses of Canadian forests, amid the wilds
of the Rocky Mountains." They had the most important chairs in the
universities; they were the confessors of monarchs and men of rank; they
had the control of the schools of Italy, France, Austria, and Spain; and
they had become the most eloquent, learned, and fashionable preachers in
all Catholic countries. They had grown to be a great institution,--an
organization instinct with life, a mechanism endued with energy and
will; forming a body which could outwatch Argus with his hundred eyes,
and outwork Briareus with his hundred arms; they had twenty thousand
eyes open upon every cabinet, every palace, and every private family in
Catholic Europe, and twenty thousand arms extended over the necks of
every sovereign and all their subjects,--a mighty moral and spiritual
power, irresponsible, irresistible, omnipresent, connected intimately
with the education, the learning, and the religion of the age; yea, the
prime agents in political affairs, the prop alike of absolute monarchies
and of the papal throne, whose interests they made identical. This
association, instinct with one will and for one purpose, has been
beautifully likened by Doctor Williams to the chariot in the Prophet's
vision: "The spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels; wherever
the living creatures went, the wheels went with them; wherever those
stood, these stood: when the living creatures were lifted up, the wheels
were lifted up over against them; and their wings were full of eyes
round about, and they were so high that they were dreadful. So of the
institution of Ignatius,--one soul swayed the vast mass; and every pin
and every cog in the machinery consented with its whole power to every
movement of the one central conscience."

Luther moved Europe by ideas which emancipated the millions, and set in
motion a progress which is the glory of our age; Loyola invented a
machine which arrested this progress, and drove the Catholic world back
again into the superstitions and despotisms of the Middle Ages,
retaining however the fear of God and of Hell, which some among the
Protestants care very little about.

What is the secret of such a wonderful success? Two things: first, the
extraordinary virtues, abilities, and zeal of the early Jesuits; and,
secondly, their wonderful machinery in adapting means to an end.

The history of society shows that no body of men ever obtained a
wide-spread ascendancy, never secured general respect, unless they
deserved it. Industry produces its fruits; learning and piety have their
natural results. Even in the moral world natural law asserts its
supremacy. Hypocrisy and fraud ultimately will be detected; no enduring
reputation is built upon a lie; sincerity and earnestness will call out
respect, even from foes; learning and virtue are lights which are not
hid under a bushel. Enthusiasm creates enthusiasm; a lofty life will be
seen and honored. Nor do people intrust their dearest interests except
to those whom they venerate,--and venerate because their virtues shine
like the face of a goddess. We yield to those only whom we esteem wiser
than ourselves. Moses controlled the Israelites because they venerated
his wisdom and courage; Paul had the confidence of the infant churches
because they saw his labors; Bernard swayed his darkened age by the
moral power of learning and sanctity. The mature judgments of centuries
never have reversed the judgments which past ages gave in reference to
their master minds. All the pedants and sophists of Germany cannot
whitewash Frederic II. or Henry VIII. No man in Athens was more truly
venerated than Socrates when he mocked his judges. Cicero, Augustine,
Aquinas, appeared to contemporaries as they appear to us. Even
Hildebrand did not juggle himself into his theocratic chair. Washington
deserved all the reverence he enjoyed; and Bonaparte himself was worthy
of the honors he received, so long as he was true to the interests
of France.

So of the Jesuits,--there is no mystery in their success; the same
causes would produce the same results again. When Catholic Europe saw
men born to wealth and rank voluntarily parting with their goods and
honors; devoting themselves to religious duties, often in a humble
sphere; spending their days in schools and hospitals; wandering as
preachers and missionaries amid privations and in fatigue; encountering
perils and dangers and hardships with fresh and ever-sustained
enthusiasm; and finally yielding up their lives as martyrs, to proclaim
salvation to idolatrous savages,--it knew them to be heroic, and
believed them to be sincere, and honored them in consequence. When
parents saw that the Jesuits entered heart and soul into the work of
education, winning their pupils' hearts by kindness, watching their
moods, directing their minds into congenial studies, and inspiring them
with generous sentiments, they did not stop to pry into their motives;
and universities, when they discovered the superior culture of educated
Jesuits, outstripping all their associates in learning, and shedding a
light by their genius and erudition, very naturally appointed them to
the highest chairs; and even the people, when they saw that the Jesuits
were not stained by vulgar vices, but were hard-working, devoted to
their labors, earnest, and eloquent, put themselves under their
teachings; and especially when they added gentlemanly manners, good
taste, and agreeable conversation to their unimpeachable morality and
religious fervor, they made these men their confessors as well as
preachers. Their lives stood out in glorious contrast with those of the
old monks and the regular clergy, in an age of infidel levities, when
the Italian renaissance was bearing its worst fruits, and men were going
back to Pagan antiquity for their pleasures and opinions.

That the early Jesuits blazed with virtues and learning and piety has
never been denied, although these things have been poetically
exaggerated. The world was astonished at their intrepidity, zeal, and
devotion. They were not at first intriguing, or ambitious, or covetous.
They loved their Society; but they loved still more what they thought
was the glory of God. _Ad majoram Dei gloriam_ was the motto which was
emblazoned on their standard when they went forth as Christian warriors
to overcome the heresies of Christendom and the superstitions of
idolaters. "The Jesuit missionary," says Stephen, "with his breviary
under his arm, his beads at his girdle, and his crucifix in his hands,
went forth without fear, to encounter the most dreaded dangers.
Martyrdom was nothing to him; he knew that the altar which might stream
with his blood, and the mound which might be raised over his remains,
would become a cherished object of his fame and an expressive emblem of
the power of his religion." "If I die," said Xavier, when about to
visit the cannibal Island of Del Moro, "who knows but what all may
receive the Gospel, since it is most certain it has ever fructified more
abundantly in the field of Paganism by the blood of martyrs than by the
labors of missionaries,"--a sublime truth, revealed to him in his whole
course of protracted martyrdom and active philanthropy, especially in
those last hours when, on the Island of Sanshan, he expired, exclaiming,
as his fading eyes rested on the crucifix, _In te Domine speravi, non
confundar in eternum_. In perils, in fastings, in fatigues, was the life
of this remarkable man passed, in order to convert the heathen world;
and in ten years he had traversed a tract of more than twice the
circumference of the earth, preaching, disputing, and baptizing, until
seventy thousand converts, it is said, were the fruits of his
mission.[1] "My companion," said the fearless Marquette, when exploring
the prairies of the Western wilderness, "is an envoy of France to
discover new countries, and I am an ambassador of God to enlighten them
with the Gospel." Lalemant, when pierced with the arrows of the
Iroquois, rejoiced that his martyrdom would induce others to follow his
example. The missions of the early Jesuits extorted praises from Baxter
and panegyric from Liebnitz.

[Footnote 1: I am inclined to think that this statement is exaggerated;
or, if true, that conversion was merely nominal.]

And not less remarkable than these missionaries were those who labored
in other spheres. Loyola himself, though visionary and monastic, had no
higher wish than to infuse piety into the Catholic Church, and to
strengthen the hands of him whom he regarded as God's vicegerent.
Somehow or other he succeeded in securing the absolute veneration of his
companions, so much so that the sainted Xavier always wrote to him on
his knees. His "Spiritual Exercises" has ever remained the great
text-book of the Jesuits,--a compend of fasts and penances, of visions
and of ecstasies; rivalling Saint Theresa herself in the rhapsodies of a
visionary piety, showing the chivalric and romantic ardor of a Spanish
nobleman directed into the channel of devotion to an invisible Lord. See
this wounded soldier at the siege of Pampeluna, going through all the
experiences of a Syriac monk in his Manresan cave, and then turning his
steps to Paris to acquire a university education; associating only with
the pious and the learned, drawing to him such gifted men as Faber and
Xavier, Salmeron and Lainez, Borgia and Bobadilla, and inspiring them
with his ideas and his fervor; living afterwards, at Venice, with
Caraffa (the future Paul IV.) in the closest intimacy, preaching at
Vicenza, and forming a new monastic code, as full of genius and
originality as it was of practical wisdom, which became the foundation
of a system of government never surpassed in the power of its mechanism
to bind the minds and wills of men. Loyola was a most extraordinary man
in the practical turn he gave to religious rhapsodies; creating a
legislation for his Society which made it the most potent religious
organization in the world. All his companions were remarkable likewise
for different traits and excellences, which yet were made to combine in
sustaining the unity of this moral mechanism. Lainez had even a more
comprehensive mind than Loyola. It was he who matured the Jesuit
Constitution, and afterwards controlled the Council of Trent,--a
convocation which settled the creed of the Catholic Church, especially
in regard to justification, and which admitted the merits of Christ, but
attributed justification to good works in a different sense from that
understood and taught by Luther.

Aside from the personal gifts and qualities of the early Jesuits, they
would not have so marvellously succeeded had it not been for their
remarkable constitution,--that which bound the members of the Society
together, and gave to it a peculiar unity and force. The most marked
thing about it was the unbounded and unhesitating obedience required of
every member to superiors, and of these superiors to the General of the
Order,--so that there was but one will. This law of obedience is, as
every one knows, one of the fundamental principles of all the monastic
orders from the earliest times, enforced by Benedict as well as Basil.
Still there was a difference in the vow of obedience. The head of a
monastery in the Middle Ages was almost supreme. The Lord Abbot was
obedient only to the Pope, and he sought the interests of his monastery
rather than those of the Pope. But Loyola exacted obedience to the
General of the Order so absolutely that a Jesuit became a slave. This
may seem a harsh epithet; there is nothing gained by using offensive
words, but Protestant writers have almost universally made these
charges. From their interpretation of the constitutions of Loyola and
Lainez and Aquaviva, a member of the Society had no will of his own; he
did not belong to himself, he belonged to his General,--as in the time
of Abraham a child belonged to his father and a wife to her husband;
nay, even still more completely. He could not write or receive a letter
that was not read by his Superior. When he entered the order, he was
obliged to give away his property, but could not give it to his
relatives.[2] When he made confession, he was obliged to tell his most
intimate and sacred secrets. He could not aspire to any higher rank than
that he held; he had no right to be ambitious, or seek his own
individual interests; he was merged body and soul into the Society; he
was only a pin in the machinery; he was bound to obey even his own
servant, if required by his Superior; he was less than a private
soldier in an army; he was a piece of wax to be moulded as the Superior
directed,--and the Superior, in his turn, was a piece of wax in the
hands of the Provincial, and he again in the hands of the General.
"There were many gradations in rank, but every rank was a gradation in
slavery." The Jesuit is accused of having no individual conscience. He
was bound to do what he was told, right or wrong; nothing was right and
nothing was wrong except as the Society pronounced. The General stood in
the place of God. That man was the happiest who was most mechanical.
Every novice had a monitor, and every monitor was a spy.[3] So strict
was the rule of Loyola, that he kept Francis Borgia, Duke of Candia,
three years out of the Society, because he refused to renounce all
intercourse with his family.[4]

[Footnote 2: Ranke.]
[Footnote 3: Steinmetz, i. p. 252.]
[Footnote 4: Nicolini, p. 35.]

The Jesuit was obliged to make all natural ties subordinate to the will
of the General. And this General was a king more absolute than any
worldly monarch, because he reigned over the minds of his subjects. His
kingdom was an _imperium in imperio_; he was chosen for life and was
responsible to no one, although he ruled for the benefit of the Catholic
Church. In one sense a General of the Jesuits resembled the prime
minister of an absolute monarch,--say such a man as Richelieu, with
unfettered power in the cause of absolutism; and he ruled like
Richelieu, through his spies, making his subordinates tools and
instruments. The General appointed the presidents of colleges and of the
religious houses; he admitted or dismissed, dispensed or punished, at
his pleasure. There was no complaint; all obeyed his orders, and saw in
him the representative of Divine Providence. Complaint was sin;
resistance was ruin. It is hard for us to understand how any man could
be brought voluntarily to submit to such a despotism. But the novice
entering the order had to go through terrible discipline,--to be a
servant, anything; to live according to rigid rules, so that his spirit
was broken by mechanical duties. He had to learn all the virtues of a
slave before he could be fully enrolled in the Society. He was drilled
for years by spiritual sergeants more rigorously than a soldier in
Napoleon's army: hence the efficiency of the body; it was a spiritual
army of the highest disciplined troops. Loyola had been a soldier; he
knew what military discipline could do,--how impotent an army is without
it, what an awful power it is with discipline, and the severer the
better. The best soldier of a modern army is he who has become an
unconscious piece of machinery; and it was this unreflecting,
unconditional obedience which made the Society so efficient, and the
General himself, who controlled it, such an awful power for good or for
evil. I am only speaking of the organization, the machinery, the
_regime,_ of the Jesuits, not of their character, not of their virtues
or vices. This organization is to be spoken of as we speak of the
discipline of an army,--wise or unwise, as it reached its end. The
original aim of the Jesuits was the restoration of the Papal Church to
its ancient power; and for one hundred years, as I think, the
restoration of morals, higher education, greater zeal in preaching: in
short, a reformation within the Church. Jesuitism was, of course,
opposed to Protestantism; it hated the Protestants; it hated their
religious creed and their emancipating and progressive spirit; it hated
religious liberty.

I need not dwell on other things which made this order of monks so
successful,--not merely their virtues and their mechanism, but their
adaptation to the changing spirit of the times. They threw away the old
dresses of monastic life; they quitted the cloister and places of
meditation; they were preachers as well as scholars; they accommodated
themselves to the circumstances of the times; they wore the ordinary
dress of gentlemen; they remained men of the world, of fine manners and
cultivated speech; there was nothing ascetic or repulsive about them,
like other monks; they were all things to all men, like politicians, in
order to accomplish their ends; they never were lazy, or profligate or
luxurious. If their Order became enriched, they as individuals remained
poor. The inferior members were not even ambitious; like good soldiers,
they thought of nothing but the work assigned to them. Their pride and
glory were the prosperity of their Order,--an intense _esprit de corps_,
never equalled by any body of men. This, of course, while it gave them
efficiency, made them narrow. They could see the needle on the
barn-door,--they could not see the door itself. Hence there could be no
agreement with them, no argument with them, except on ordinary matters;
they were as zealous as Saul, seeking to make proselytes. They yielded
nothing except in order to win; they never compromised their Order in
their cause. Their fidelity to their head was marvellous; and so long as
they confined themselves to the work of making people better, I think
they deserved praise. I do not like their military organization, but I
should have no more right to abuse it than the organization of some
Protestant sects. That is a matter of government; all sects and all
parties, Catholic and Protestant, have a right to choose their own
government to carry out their ends, even as military generals have a
right to organize their forces in their own way. The history of the
Jesuits shows this,--that an organization of forces, or what we call
discipline or government, is a great thing. A church without a
government is a poor affair, so far as efficiency is concerned. All
churches have something to learn from the Jesuits in the way of
discipline. John Wesley learned something; the Independents learned
very little,

But there is another side to the Jesuits. We have seen why they
succeeded; we have to inquire how they failed. If history speaks of the
virtues of the early members, and the wonderful mechanism of their
Order, and their great success in consequence, it also speaks of the
errors they committed, by which they lost the confidence they had
gained. From being the most popular of all the adherents of the papal
power, and of the ideas of the Dark Ages, they became the most
unpopular; they became so odious that the Pope was obliged, by the
pressure of public opinion and of the Bourbon courts of Europe, to
suppress their Order. The fall of the Jesuits was as significant as
their rise. I need not dwell on that fall, which is one of the best
known facts of history.

Why did the Jesuits become unpopular and lose their influence?

They gained the confidence of Catholic countries because they deserved
it, and they lost that confidence because they deserved to lose it,--in
other words, because they became corrupt; and this seems to be the
history of all institutions. It is strange, it is passing strange, that
human societies and governments and institutions should degenerate as
soon as they become rich and powerful; but such is the fact,--a sad
commentary on the doctrine of a necessary progress of the race, or the
natural tendency to good, which so many cherish, but than which nothing
can be more false, as proved by experience and the Scriptures. Why were
the antediluvians swept away? Why could not those races retain their
primitive revelation? Why did the descendants of Noah become almost
idolaters before he was dead? Why did the great Persian Empire become as
effeminate as the empires it had supplanted? Why did the Jewish nation
steadily retrograde after David? Why did not civilization and
Christianity save the Roman world? Why did Christianity itself become
corrupted in four centuries? Why did not the Middle Ages preserve the
evangelical doctrines of Augustine and Jerome and Chrysostom and
Ambrose? Why did the light of the glorious Reformation of Luther nearly
go out in the German cities and universities? Why did the fervor of the
Puritans burn out in England in one hundred years? Why have the
doctrines of the Pilgrim Fathers become unfashionable in those parts of
New England where they seemed to have taken the deepest root? Why have
so many of the descendants of the disciples of George Fox become so
liberal and advanced as to be enamoured of silk dresses and laces and
diamonds and the ritualism of Episcopal churches? Is it an improvement
to give up a simple life and lofty religious enthusiasm for
materialistic enjoyments and epicurean display? Is there a true advance
in a university, when it exchanges its theological teachings and its
preparation of poor students for the Gospel Ministry, for Schools of
Technology and boat-clubs and accommodations for the sons of the rich
and worldly?

Now the Society of Jesus went through just such a transformation as has
taken place, almost within the memory of living men, in the life and
habits and ideas of the people of Boston and Philadelphia and in the
teachings of their universities. Some may boldly say, "Why not? This
change indicates progress." But this progress is exactly similar to that
progress which the Jesuits made in the magnificence of their churches,
in the wealth they had hoarded in their colleges, in the fashionable
character of their professors and confessors and preachers, in the
adaptation of their doctrines to the taste of the rich and powerful, in
the elegance and arrogance and worldliness of their dignitaries. Father
La Chaise was an elegant and most polished man of the world, and
travelled in a coach with six horses. If he had not been such a man, he
would not have been selected by Louis XIV. for his confidential and
influential confessor. The change which took place among the Jesuits
arose from the same causes as the change which has taken place among
Methodists and Quakers and Puritans. This change I would not fiercely
condemn, for some think it is progress. But is it progress in that
religious life which early marked these people; or a progress towards
worldly and epicurean habits which they arose to resist and combat? The
early Jesuits were visionary, fanatical, strict, ascetic, religious, and
narrow. They sought by self-denying labors and earnest exhortations,
like Savonarola at Florence, to take the Church out of the hands of the
Devil; and the people reverenced them, as they always have reverenced
martyrs and missionaries. The later Jesuits sought to enjoy their wealth
and power and social position. They became--as rich and prosperous
people generally become--proud, ambitious, avaricious, and worldly. They
were as elegant, as scholarly, and as luxurious as the Fellows of Oxford
University, and the occupants of stalls in the English cathedrals,--that
is all: as worldly as the professors of Yale and Cambridge may become in
half-a-century, if rich widows and brewers and bankers without children
shall some day make those universities as well endowed as Jesuit
colleges were in the eighteenth century. That is the old story of our
fallen humanity. I would no more abuse the Jesuits because they became
confessors to the great, and went into mercantile speculations, than I
would rich and favored clergymen in Protestant countries, who prefer ten
per cent for their money in California mines to four per cent in
national consols.

But the prosperity which the Jesuits had earned during their first
century of existence excited only envy, and destroyed the reverence of
the people; it had not made them odious, detestable. It was the means
they adopted to perpetuate their influence, after early virtues had
passed away, which caused enlightened Catholic Europe to mistrust them,
and the Protestants absolutely to hate and vilify them.

From the very first, the Society was distinguished for the _esprit de
corps_ of its members. Of all things which they loved best it was the
power and glory of the Society,--just as Oxford Fellows love the
_prestige_ of their university. And this power and influence the Jesuits
determined to preserve at all hazards and by any means; when virtues
fled, they must find something else with which to bolster themselves up:
they must not part with their power; the question was, how should
they keep it?

First, they adopted the doctrine of expediency,--that the end justifies
the means. They did not invent this sophistry,--it is as old as our
humanity. Abraham used it when he told lies to the King of Egypt, to
save the honor of his wife; Caesar accepted it, when he vindicated
imperialism as the only way to save the Roman Empire from anarchy; most
politicians resort to it when they wish to gain their ends. Politicians
have ever been as unscrupulous as the Jesuits, in adopting expediency
rather than eternal right. It has been a primal law of government; it
lies at the basis of English encroachments in India, and of the
treatment of the aborigines in this country by our government. There is
nothing new in the doctrine of expediency.

But the Jesuits are accused of pushing this doctrine to its remotest
consequences, of being its most unscrupulous defenders,--so that
_Jesuitism_ and _expediency_ are synonymous, are convertible terms. They
are accused of perverting education, of abusing the confessional, of
corrupting moral and political philosophy, of conforming to the
inclinations of the great. They even went so far as to inculcate mental
reservation,--thus attacking truth in its most sacred citadel, the
conscience of mankind,--on which Pascal was so severe. They made habit
and bad example almost a sufficient exculpation from crime. Perjury was
allowable, if the perjured were inwardly determined not to swear. They
invented the notion of probabilities, according to which a person might
follow any opinion he pleased, although he knew it to be wrong, provided
authors of reputation had defended that opinion. A man might fight a
duel, if by refusing to fight he would be stigmatized as a coward. They
did not openly justify murder, treachery, and falsehood, but they
excused the same, if plausible reasons could be urged. In their missions
they aimed at _eclat;_ and hence merely nominal conversions were
accepted, because these swelled their numbers. They gave the crucifix,
which covered up all sins; they permitted their converts to retain their
ancient habits and customs. In order to be popular, Robert de Nobili, it
is said, traced his lineage to Brahma; and one of their missionaries
among the Indians told the savages that Christ was a warrior who scalped
women and children. Anything for an outward success. Under their
teachings it was seen what a light affair it was to bear the yoke of
Christ. So monarchs retained in their service confessors who imposed
such easy obligations. So ordinary people resorted to the guidance of
such leaders, who made themselves agreeable. The Jesuit colleges were
filled with casuists. Their whole moral philosophy, if we may believe
Arnauld and Pascal, was a tissue of casuistry; truth was obscured in
order to secure popularity; even the most diabolical persecution was
justified if heretics stood in the way. Father Le Tellier rejoiced in
the slaughter of Saint Bartholomew, and _Te Deums_ were offered in the
churches for the extinction of Protestantism by any means. If it could
be shown to be expedient, the Jesuits excused the most outrageous crimes
ever perpetrated on this earth.

Again, the Jesuits are accused of riveting fetters on the human mind in
order to uphold their power, and to sustain the absolutism of the popes
and the absolutism of kings, to which they were equally devoted. They
taught in their schools the doctrine of passive obedience; they aimed
to subdue the will by rigid discipline; they were hostile to bold and
free inquiries; they were afraid of science; they hated such men as
Galileo, Pascal, and Bacon; they detested the philosophers who prepared
the way for the French Revolution; they abominated the Protestant idea
of private judgment; they opposed the progress of human thought, and
were enemies alike of the Jansenist movement in the seventeenth century
and of the French Revolution in the eighteenth. They upheld the
absolutism of Louis XIV., and combated the English Revolution; they sent
their spies and agents to England to undermine the throne of Elizabeth
and build up the throne of Charles I. Every emancipating idea, in
politics and in religion, they detested. There were many things in their
system of education to be commended; they were good classical scholars,
and taught Greek and Latin admirably; they cultivated the memory; they
made study pleasing, but they did not develop genius. The order never
produced a great philosopher; the energies of its members were
concentrated in imposing a despotic yoke.

The Jesuits are accused further of political intrigues; this is a common
and notorious charge. They sought to control the cabinets of Europe;
they had their spies in every country. The intrigues of Campion and
Parsons in England aimed at the restoration of Catholic monarchs. Mary
of Scotland was a tool in their hands, and so was Madame de Maintenon in
France. La Chaise and Le Tellier were mere politicians. The Jesuits were
ever political priests; the history of Europe the last three hundred
years is full of their cabals. Their political influence was directed to
the persecution of Protestants as well as infidels. They are accused of
securing the revocation of the Edict of Nantes,--one of the greatest
crimes in the history of modern times, which led to the expulsion of
four hundred thousand Protestants from France, and the execution of four
hundred thousand more. They incited the dragonnades of Louis XIV., who
was under their influence. They are accused of the assassination of
kings, of the fires of Smithfield, of the Gunpowder Plot, of the
cruelties inflicted by Alva, of the Thirty Years' War, of the ferocities
of the Guises, of inquisitions and massacres, of sundry other political
crimes, with what justice I do not know; but certain it is they became
objects of fear, and incurred the hostilities of Catholic Europe,
especially of all liberal thinkers, and their downfall was demanded by
the very courts of Europe. Why did they lose their popularity? Why were
they so distrusted and hated? The fact that they _were_ hated is most
undoubted, and there must have been cause for it. It is a fact that at
one time they were respected and honored, and deserved to be so: must
there not have been grave reasons for the universal change in public
opinion respecting them? The charges against them, to which I have
alluded, must have had foundation. They did not become idle, gluttonous,
ignorant, and sensual like the old monks: they became greedy of power;
and in order to retain it resorted to intrigues, conspiracies, and
persecutions. They corrupted philosophy and morality, abused the
confessional privilege, adopted _Success_ as their watchword, without
regard to the means; they are charged with becoming worldly, ambitious,
mercenary, unscrupulous, cruel; above all, they sought to bind the minds
of men with a despotic yoke, and waged war against all liberalizing
influences. They always were, from first to last, narrow, pedantic,
one-sided, legal, technical, pharisaical. The best thing about them, in
the days of their declining power, was that they always opposed infidel
sentiments. They hated Voltaire and Rousseau and the Encyclopedists as
much as they did Luther and Calvin. They detested the principles of the
French Revolution, partly because those principles were godless, partly
because they were emancipating.

Of course, in such an infidel and revolutionary age as that of Louis XV,
when Voltaire was the oracle of Europe,--when from his chateau near
Geneva he controlled the mind of Europe, as Calvin did two centuries
earlier,--enemies would rise up, on all sides, against the Jesuits.
Their most powerful and bitter foe was a woman,--the mistress of Louis
XV., the infamous Madame de Pompadour. She hated the Jesuits as
Catharine de Medici hated the Calvinists in the time of Charles
IX.,--not because they were friends of absolutism, not because they
wrote casuistic books, not because they opposed liberal principles, not
because they were spies and agents of Rome, not because they perverted
education, not because they were boastful and mercenary missionaries or
cunning intriguers in the courts of princes, not because they had marked
their course through Europe in a trail of blood, but because they were
hostile to her ascendency,--a woman who exercised about the same
influence in France as Jezebel did at the court of Ahab. I respect the
Jesuits for the stand they took against this woman: it is the best thing
in their history. But here they did not show their usual worldly wisdom,
and they failed. They were judicially blinded. The instrument of their
humiliation was a wicked woman. So strange are the ways of Providence!
He chose Esther to save the Jewish nation, and a harlot to punish the
Jesuits. She availed herself of their mistakes.

It seems that the Superior of the Jesuits at Martinique failed; for the
Jesuits embarked in commercial speculations while officiating as
missionaries. The angry creditors of La Valette, the Jesuit banker,
demanded repayment from the Order. They refused to pay his debts. The
case was carried to the courts, and the highest tribunal decided against
them. That was not the worst. In the course of the legal proceedings,
the mysterious "rule" of the Jesuits--that which was so carefully
concealed from the public--was demanded. Then all was revealed,--all
that Pascal had accused them of,--and the whole nation was indignant. A
great storm was raised. The Parliament of Paris decreed the constitution
of the Society to be fatal to all government. The King wished to save
them, for he knew that they were the best supporters of the throne of
absolutism. But he could not resist the pressure,--the torrent of public
opinion, the entreaties of his mistress, the arguments of his ministers.
He was compelled to demand from the Pope the abrogation of their
charter. Other monarchs did the same; all the Bourbon courts in Europe,
for the king of Portugal narrowly escaped assassination from a fanatical
Jesuit. Had the Jesuits consented to a reform, they might not have
fallen. But they would make no concessions. Said Ricci, their General,
_Sint ut sunt, aut non sint_. The Pope--Clement XIV.--was obliged to
part with his best soldiers. Europe, Catholic Europe, demanded the
sacrifice,--the kings of Spain, of France, of Naples, of Portugal.
_Compulsus feci, compulsus feci_, exclaimed the broken-hearted
Pope,--the feeble and pious Ganganelli. So that in 1773, by a papal
decree, the Order was suppressed; 669 colleges were closed; 223 missions
were abandoned, and more than 22,000 members were dispersed. I do not
know what became of their property, which amounted to about two hundred
millions of dollars, in the various countries of Europe.

This seems to me to have been a clear case of religious persecution,
incited by jealous governments and the infidel or the progressive spirit
of the age, on the eve of the French Revolution. It simply marks the
hostilities which, for various reasons, they had called out. I am
inclined to think that their faults were greatly exaggerated; but it is
certain that so severe and high-handed a measure would not have been
taken by the Pope had it not seemed to him necessary to preserve the
peace of the Church. Had they been innocent, the Pope would have lost
his throne sooner than commit so great a wrong on his most zealous
servants. It is impossible for a Protestant to tell how far they were
guilty of the charges preferred against them. I do not believe that
their lives, as a general thing, were a scandal sufficient to justify so
sweeping a measure; but their institution, their regime, their
organization, their constitution, were deemed hostile to liberty and the
progress of society. And if zealous governments--Catholic princes
themselves--should feel that the Jesuits were opposed to the true
progress of nations, how much more reason had Protestants to distrust
them, and to rejoice in their fall!

And it was not until the French Revolution and the empire of Napoleon
had passed away, not until the Bourbons had been restored nearly half a
century, that the Order was re-established and again protected by the
Papal court. They have now regained their ancient power, and seem to
have the confidence of Catholic Europe. Some of their most flourishing
seminaries are in the United States. They are certainly not a scandal in
this country, although their spirit and institution are the same as
ever: mistrusted and disliked and feared by the Protestants, as a matter
of course, as such a powerful organization naturally would be; hostile
still to the circulation of the Scriptures among the people and free
inquiry and private judgment,--in short, to all the ideas of the
Reformation. But whatever they are, and however much the Protestants
dislike them, they have in our country,--this land of unbounded
religious toleration,--the same right to their religion and their
ecclesiastical government that Protestant sects have; and if Protestants
would nullify their influence so far as it is bad, they must outshine
them in virtues, in a religious life, in zeal, and in devotion to the
spiritual interests of the people. If the Jesuits keep better schools
than Protestants they will be patronized, and if they command the
respect of the Catholics for their virtues and intelligence, whatever
may be the machinery of their organization, they will retain their
power; and not until they interfere with elections and Protestant
schools, or teach dangerous doctrines of public morality, has our
Government any right to interfere with them. They will stand or fall as
they win the respect or excite the wrath of enlightened nations. But the
principles they are supposed to defend,--expediency, casuistry, and
hostility to free inquiry and the circulation of the Scriptures in
vernacular languages,--these are just causes of complaint and of
unrelenting opposition among all those who accept the great ideas of the
Protestant Reformation, since they are antagonistic to what we deem most
precious in our institutions. So long as the contest shall last between
good and evil in this world, we have a right to declaim against all
encroachments on liberty and sound morality and an evangelical piety
from any quarter whatever, and we are recreant to our duties unless we
speak our minds. Hence, from the light I have, I pronounce judgment
against the Society of Jesus as a dangerous institution, unfortunately
planted among us, but which we cannot help, and can attack only with the
weapons of reason and truth.

And yet I am free to say that for my part I prefer even the Jesuit
discipline and doctrines, much as I dislike them, to the unblushing
infidelity which has lately been propagated by those who call
themselves _savans_,--and which seems to have reached and even permeated
many of the schools of science, the newspapers, periodicals, clubs, and
even pulpits of this materialistic though progressive country. I make
war on the slavery of the will and a religion of formal technicalities;
but I prefer these evils to a godless rationalism and the extinction of
the light of faith.


Secreta Monita; Steinmetz's History of the Jesuits; Ranke's History of
the Popes; Spiritual Exercises; Encyclopaedia Britannica; Biographie
Universelle; Fall of the Jesuits, by St. Priest; Lives of Ignatius
Loyola, Aquiviva, Lainez, Salmeron, Borgia, Xavier, Bobadilla; Pascal's
Provincial Letters; Bonhours' Cretineau; Lingard's History of England;
Tierney; Lettres Aedificantes; Jesuit Missions; Memoires Secretes du
Cardinal Dubois; Tanner's Societas Jesu; Dodd's Church History.


* * * * *

A. D. 1509-1364.


John Calvin was pre-eminently the theologian of the Reformation, and
stamped his genius on the thinking of his age,--equally an authority
with the Swiss, the Dutch, the Huguenots, and the Puritans. His vast
influence extends to our own times. His fame as a benefactor of mind is
immortal, although it cannot be said that he is as much admired and
extolled now as he was fifty years ago. Nor was he ever a favorite with
the English Church. He has been even grossly misrepresented by
theological opponents; but no critic or historian has ever questioned
his genius, his learning, or his piety. No one denies that he has
exerted a great influence on Protestant countries. As a theologian he
ranks with Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,--maintaining essentially
the same views as those held by these great lights, and being
distinguished for the same logical power; reigning like them as an
intellectual dictator in the schools, but not so interesting as they
were as men. And he was more than a theologian; he was a reformer and
legislator, laying down rules of government, organizing church
discipline, and carrying on reforms in the worship of God,--second only
to Luther. His labors were prodigious as theologian, commentator, and
ecclesiastical legislator; and we are surprised that a man with so
feeble a body could have done so much work.

Calvin was born in Picardy in 1509,--the year that Henry VIII. ascended
the British throne, and the year that Luther began to preach at
Wittenberg. He was not a peasant's son, like Luther, but belonged to
what the world calls a good family. Intellectually he was precocious,
and received an excellent education at a college in Paris, being
destined for the law by his father, who sent him to the University of
Orleans and then to Bourges, where he studied under eminent jurists, and
made the acquaintance of many distinguished men. His conversion took
place about the year 1529, when he was twenty; and this gave a new
direction to his studies and his life. He was a pale-faced young man,
with sparkling eyes, sedate and earnest beyond his years. He was
twenty-three when he published the books of Seneca on Clemency, with
learned commentaries. At the age of twenty-three he was in communion
with the reformers of Germany, and was acknowledged to be, even at that
early age, the head of the reform party in France. In 1533 he went to
Paris, then as always the centre of the national life, where the new
ideas were creating great commotion in scholarly and ecclesiastical
circles, and even in the court itself. Giving offence to the doctors of
the Sorbonne for his evangelical views as to Justification, he was
obliged to seek refuge with the Queen of Navarre, whose castle at Pau
was the resort of persecuted reformers. After leading rather a fugitive
life in different parts of France, he retreated to Switzerland, and at
twenty-six published his celebrated "Institutes," which he dedicated to
Francis I., hoping to convert him to the Protestant faith. After a short
residence in Italy, at the court of the Duchess of Ferrara, he took up
his abode at Geneva, and his great career began.

Geneva, a city of the Allobroges in the time of Caesar, possessed at
this time about twenty thousand inhabitants, and was a free state,
having a constitution somewhat like that of Florence when it was under
the control of Savonarola. It had rebelled against the Duke of Savoy,
who seems to have been in the fifteenth century its patron ruler. The
government of this little Savoyard state became substantially like that
which existed among the Swiss cantons. The supreme power resided in the
council of Two Hundred, which alone had the power to make or abolish
laws. There was a lesser council of Sixty, for diplomatic objects only.

The first person who preached the reformed doctrines in Geneva was the
missionary Farel, a French nobleman, spiritual, romantic, and zealous.
He had great success, although he encountered much opposition and wrath.
But the reformed doctrines were already established in Zurich, Berne,
and Basle, chiefly through the preaching of Ulrich Zwingli, and
Oecolampadius. The apostolic Farel welcomed with great cordiality the
arrival of Calvin, then already known as an extraordinary man, though
only twenty-eight years of age. He came to Geneva poor, and remained
poor all his life. All his property at his death amounted to only two
hundred dollars. As a minister in one of the churches, he soon began to
exert a marvellous influence. He must have been eloquent, for he was
received with enthusiasm. This was in 1536. But he soon met with
obstacles. He was worried by the Anabaptists; and even his orthodoxy was
impeached by one Coroli, who made much mischief, so that Calvin was
obliged to publish his Genevan Catechism in Latin. He also offended many
by his outspoken rebuke of sin, for he aimed at a complete reformation
of morals, like Latimer in London and like Savonarola at Florence. He
sought to reprove amusements which were demoralizing, or thought to be
so in their influence. The passions of the people were excited, and the
city was torn by parties; and such was the reluctance to submit to the
discipline of the ministers that they refused to administer the
sacraments. This created such a ferment that the syndics expelled Calvin
and Farel from the city. They went at first to Berne, but the Bernese
would not receive them. They then retired to Basle, wearied, wet, and
hungry, and from Basle they went to Strasburg. It was in this city that
Calvin dwelt three years, spending his time in lecturing on divinity, in
making contributions to exegetical theology, in perfecting his
"Institutes," forming a close alliance with Melancthon and other leading
reformers. So pre-occupied was he with his labors as a commentator of
the Scriptures, that he even contemplated withdrawing from the public
service of religion.

Calvin was a scholar as well as theologian, and quiet labors in his
library were probably more congenial to his tastes than active parochial
duties. His highest life was amid his books, in serene repose and lofty
contemplation. At this time he had an extensive correspondence, his
advice being much sought for its wisdom and moderation. His judgment was
almost unerring, since he was never led away by extravagances or
enthusiasm: a cold, calm man even among his friends and admirers. He had
no passions; he was all intellect. It would seem that in his exile he
gave lectures on divinity, being invited by the Council of Strasburg;
and also interested himself in reference to the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, which he would withhold from the unworthy. He lived quietly in
his retreat, and was much respected by the people of the city where
he dwelt.

In 1539 a convention was held at Frankfort, at which Calvin was present
as the envoy of the city of Strasburg. Here, for the first time, he met
Melancthon; but there was no close intimacy between them until these two
great men met in the following year at a Diet which was summoned at
Worms by the Emperor Charles V., in order to produce concord between the
Catholics and Protestants, and which was afterwards removed to Ratisbon.
Melancthon represented one party, and Doctor Eck the other. Melancthon
and Bucer were inclined to peace; and Cardinal Contarini freely offered
his hand, agreeing with the reformers to adopt the idea of Justification
as his starting point, allowing that it proceeds from faith, without any
merit of our own; but, like Luther and Calvin, he opposed any attempt at
union which might compromise the truth, and had no faith in the
movement. Neither party, as it was to be expected, was satisfied. The
main subject of the dispute was in reference to the Eucharist. Calvin
denied the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament, regarding it as a
symbol,--though one of special divine influence. But on this point the
Catholics have ever been uncompromising from the times of Berengar. Nor
was Luther fully emancipated from the Catholic doctrine, modifying
without essentially changing it. Calvin maintained that "This is my
body" meant that it signified "my body." In regard to original sin and
free-will, as represented by Augustine, there was no dispute; but much
difficulty attended the interpretation of the doctrine of Justification.
The greatest difficulty was in reference to the doctrine of
Transubstantiation, which was rejected by the reformers because it had
not the sanction of the Scriptures; and when it was found that this
caused insuperable difficulties about the Lord's Supper, it was thought
useless to proceed to other matters, like confession, masses for the
dead, and the withholding the cup from the laity. There was not so great
a difference between the Catholic and Protestant theologians concerning
the main body of dogmatic divinity as is generally supposed. The
fundamental questions pertaining to God, the Trinity, the mission and
divinity of Christ, original sin, free-will, grace, predestination, had
been formulated by Thomas Aquinas with as much severity as by Calvin.
The great subjects at issue, in a strictly theological view, were
Justification and the Eucharist. Respecting free-will and
predestination, the Catholic theologians have never been agreed among
themselves,--some siding with Augustine, like Aquinas, Bernard, and
Anselm; and some with Pelagius, like Abelard and Lainez the Jesuit at
the Council of Trent (a council assembled by the Pope, with the
concurrence of Charles V. of Germany and Francis I. of France), the
decrees of which, against the authority of Augustine in this matter,
seem to be now the established faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

After the Diet of Ratisbon, Calvin returned to Geneva, at the eager
desire of the people. The great Council summoned him to return; every
voice was raised for him. "Calvin, that learned and righteous man," they
said, "it is he whom we would have as the minister of the Lord." Yet he
did not willingly return; he preferred his quiet life at Strasburg, but
obeyed the voice of conscience. On the 13th of September, 1541, he
returned to his penitent congregation, and was received by the whole
city with every demonstration of respect; and a cloth cloak was given
him as a present, which he seemed to need.

The same year he was married to a widow, Idelette de Burie, who was a
worthy, well-read, high-minded woman, with whom he lived happily for
nine years, until her death. She was superior to Luther's wife,
Catherine Bora, in culture and dignity, and was a helpmate who never
opposed her husband in the slightest matter, always considering his
interests. Esteem and friendship seem to have been the basis of this
union,--not passionate love, which Calvin did not think much of. When
his wife died it seems he mourned for her with decent grief, but did not
seek a second marriage, perhaps because he was unable to support a wife
on his small stipend as she would wish and expect. He rather courted
poverty, and refused reasonable gratuities. His body was attenuated by
fasting and study, like that of Saint Bernard. When he was completing
his "Institutes," he passed days without eating and nights without
sleeping. And as he practised poverty he had a right to inculcate it. He
kept no servant, lived in a small tenement, and was always poorly clad.
He derived no profit from any of his books, and the only present he ever
consented to receive was a silver goblet from the Lord of Varennes.
Luther's stipend was four hundred and fifty florins; and he too refused
a yearly gift from the booksellers of four hundred dollars, not wishing
to receive a gratuity for his writings. Calvin's salary was only fifty
dollars a year, with a house, twelve measures of corn, and two pipes of
wine; for tea and coffee were then unknown in Europe, and wine seems to
have been the usual beverage, after water. He was pre-eminently a
conscientious man, not allowing his feelings to sway his judgment. He
was sedate and dignified and cheerful; though Bossuet accuses him of a
surly disposition,--_un genre triste, un esprit chagrin_. Though formal
and stern, women never shrank from familiar conversation with him on
the subject of religion. Though intolerant of error, he cherished no
personal animosities. Calvin was more refined than Luther, and never
like him gave vent to coarse expressions. He had not Luther's physical
strength, nor his versatility of genius; nor as a reformer was he so
violent. "Luther aroused; Calvin tranquillized," The one stormed the
great citadel of error, the other furnished the weapons for holding it
after it was taken. The former was more popular; the latter appealed to
a higher intelligence. The Saxon reformer was more eloquent; the Swiss
reformer was more dialectical. The one advocated unity; the other
theocracy. Luther was broader; Calvin engrafted on his reforms the Old
Testament observances. The watchword of the one was Grace; that of the
other was Predestination. Luther cut knots; Calvin made systems. Luther
destroyed; Calvin legislated. His great principle of government was
aristocratic. He wished to see both Church and State governed by a
select few of able men. In all his writings we see no trace of popular
sovereignty. He interested himself, like Savonarola, in political
institutions, but would separate the functions of the magistracy from
those of the clergy; and he clung to the notion of a theocratic
government, like Jewish legislators and the popes themselves. The idea
of a theocracy was the basis of Calvin's system of legislation, as it
was that of Leo I. He desired that the temporal power should rule in
the name of God,--should be the arm by which spiritual principles should
be enforced. He did not object to the spiritual domination of the popes,
so far as it was in accordance with the word of God. He wished to
realize the grand idea which the Middle Ages sought for, but sought for
in vain,--that the Church must always remain the mother of spiritual
principles; but he objected to the exercise of temporal power by
churchmen, as well as to the interference of the temporal power in
matters purely spiritual,--virtually the doctrine of Anselm and Becket.
But, unlike Becket, Calvin would not screen clergymen accused of crime
from temporal tribunals; he rather sought the humiliation of the clergy
in temporal matters. He also would destroy inequalities of rank, and do
away with church dignitaries, like bishops and deans and archdeacons;
and he instituted twice as many laymen as clergymen in ecclesiastical
assemblies. But he gave to the clergy the exclusive right to
excommunicate, and to regulate the administration of the sacraments. He
was himself a high-churchman in his spirit, both in reference to the
divine institution of the presbyterian form of government and the
ascendancy of the Church as a great power in the world.

Calvin exercised a great influence on the civil polity of Geneva,
although it was established before he came to the city. He undertook to
frame for the State a code of morals. He limited the freedom of the
citizens, and turned the old democratic constitution into an oligarchy.
The general assembly, which met twice a year, nominated syndics, or
judges; but nothing was proposed in the general assembly which had not
previously been considered in the council of the Two Hundred; and
nothing in the latter which had not been brought before the council of
Sixty; nor even in this, which had not been approved by the lesser
council. The four syndics, with their council of sixteen, had power of
life and death, and the whole public business of the state was in their
hands. The supreme legislation was in the council of Two Hundred; which
was much influenced by ecclesiastics, or the consistory. If a man not
forbidden to take the Sacrament neglected to receive it, he was
condemned to banishment for a year. One was condemned to do public
penance if he omitted a Sunday service. The military garrison was
summoned to prayers twice a day. The judges punished severely all
profanity, as blasphemy. A mason was put in prison three days for simply
saying, when falling from a building, that it must be the work of the
Devil. A young girl who insulted her mother was publicly punished and
kept on bread-and-water; and a peasant-boy who called his mother a devil
was publicly whipped. A child who struck his mother was beheaded;
adultery was punished with death; a woman was publicly scourged because
she sang common songs to a psalm-tune; and another because she dressed
herself, in a frolic, in man's attire. Brides were not allowed to wear
wreaths in their bonnets; gamblers were set in the pillory, and
card-playing and nine-pins were denounced as gambling. Heresy was
punished with death; and in sixty years one hundred and fifty people
were burned to death, in Geneva, for witchcraft. Legislation extended to
dress and private habits; many innocent amusements were altogether
suppressed; also holidays and theatrical exhibitions. Excommunication
was as much dreaded as in the Mediaeval church.

In regard to the worship of God, Calvin was opposed to splendid
churches, and to all ritualism. He retained psalm-singing, but abolished
the organ; he removed the altar, the crucifix, and muniments from the
churches, and closed them during the week-days, unless the minister was
present. He despised what we call art, especially artistic music; nor
did he have much respect for artificial sermons, or the art of speaking.
He himself preached _ex tempore_, nor is there evidence that he ever
wrote a sermon.

Respecting the Eucharist, Calvin took a middle course between Luther and
Zwingli,--believing neither in the actual presence of Christ in the
consecrated bread, nor regarding it as a mere symbol, but a means by
which divine grace is imparted; a mirror in which we may contemplate
Christ. Baptism he considered only as an indication of divine grace, and
not essential to salvation; thereby differing from Luther and the
Catholic church. Yet he was as strenuous in maintaining these sacraments
as a Catholic priest, and made excommunication as fearful a weapon as it
was in the Middle Ages. For admission to the Lord's Supper, and thus to
the membership of the visible Church, it would seem that his
requirements were not rigid, but rather very simple, like those of the
primitive Christians,--namely, faith in God and faith in Christ, without
any subtile and metaphysical creeds, such as one might expect from his
inexorable theological deductions. But he would resort to
excommunication as a discipline, as the only weapon which the Church
could use to bind its members together, and which had been used from the
beginning; yet he would temper severity with mildness and charity, since
only God is able to judge the heart. And herein he departed from the
customs of the Middle Ages, and did not regard the excommunicated as
lost, but to be prayed for by the faithful. No one, he maintained,
should be judged as deserving eternal death who was still in the hands
of God. He made a broad distinction between excommunication and
anathema; the latter, he maintained, should never, or very rarely, be
pronounced, since it takes away the hope of forgiveness, and consigns
one to the wrath of God and the power of Satan. He regarded the
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper as a means to help manifold
infirmities,--as a time of meditation for beholding Christ the
crucified; as confirming reconciliation with God; as a visible sign of
the body of Christ, recognizing his actual but spiritual presence.
Luther recognized the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist, while
he rejected transubstantiation and the idea of worshipping the
consecrated wafer as the real God. This difference in the opinion of the
reformers as to the Eucharist led to bitter quarrels and controversies,
and divided the Protestants. Calvin pursued a middle and moderate
course, and did much to harmonize the Protestant churches. He always
sought peace and moderation; and his tranquillizing measures were not
pleasant to the Catholics, who wished to see divisions among
their enemies.

Calvin had a great dislike of ceremonies, festivals, holidays, and the
like. For images he had an aversion amounting to horror. Christmas was
the only festival he retained. He was even slanderously accused of
wishing to abolish the Sabbath, the observance of which he inculcated
with the strictness of the Puritans. He introduced congregational
singing, but would not allow the ear or the eye to be distracted. The
music was simple, dispensing with organs and instruments and all
elaborate and artistic display. It is needless to say that this severe
simplicity of worship has nearly passed away, but it cannot be doubted
that the changes which the reformers made produced the deepest
impression on the people in a fervent and religious age. The psalms and
hymns of the reformers were composed in times of great religious
excitement. Calvin was far behind Luther, who did not separate the art
of music from religion; but Calvin made a divorce of art from public
worship. Indeed, the Reformation was not favorable to art in any form
except in sacred poetry; it declared those truths which save the soul,
rather than sought those arts which adorn civilization. Hence its
churches were barren of ornaments and symbols, and were cold and
repulsive when the people were not excited by religious truths. Nor did
they favor eloquence in the ordinary meaning of that word. Pulpit
eloquence was simple, direct, and without rhetorical devices; seeking
effect not in gestures and postures and modulated voice, but earnest
appeals to the heart and conscience. The great Catholic preachers of the
eighteenth century--like Bossuet and Bourdaloue and Massillon--surpassed
the Protestants as rhetoricians.

The simplicity which marked the worship of God as established by Calvin
was also a feature in his system of church government. He dispensed with
bishops, archdeacons, deans, and the like. In his eyes every man who
preached the word was a presbyter, or elder; and every presbyter was a
bishop. A deacon was an officer to take care of the poor, not to preach.
And it was necessary that a minister should have a double call,--both an
inward call and an outward one,--or an election by the people in union
with the clergy. Paul and Barnabas set forth elders, but the people
indicated their approval by lifting up their hands. In the
Presbyterianism which Calvin instituted he maintained that the Church is
represented by the laity as well as by the clergy. He therefore gave the
right of excommunication to the congregation in conjunction with the
clergy. In the Lutheran Church, as in the Catholic, the right of
excommunication was vested in the clergy alone. But Calvin gave to the
clergy alone the right to administer the sacraments; nor would he give
to the Church any other power of punishment than exclusion from the
Lord's Supper, and excommunication. His organization of the Church was
aristocratic, placing the power in the hands of a few men of approved
wisdom and piety. He had no sympathy with democracy, either civil or
religious, and he formed a close union between Church and State,--giving
to the council the right to choose elders and to confirm the election of
ministers. As already stated, he did not attempt to shield the clergy
from the civil tribunals. The consistory, which assembled once a week,
was formed of elders and preachers, and a messenger of the civil court
summoned before it the persons whose presence was required. No such
power as this would be tolerated in these times. But the consistory
could not itself inflict punishment; that was the province of the civil
government. The elders and clergy inflicted no civil penalties, but
simply determined what should be heard before the spiritual and what
before the civil tribunal. A syndic presided in the spiritual assembly
at first, but only as a church elder. The elders were chosen from the
council, and the election was confirmed by the great council, the
people, and preachers; so that the Church was really in the hands of the
State, which appointed the clergy. It would thus seem that Church and
State were very much mixed up together by Calvin, who legislated in view
of the circumstances which surrounded him, and not for other times or
nations. This subordination of the Church to the State, which was
maintained by all the reformers, was established in opposition to the
custom of the Catholic Church, which sought to make the State
subservient to the Church. And the lay government of the Church, which
entered into the system of Calvin, was owing to the fear that the
clergy, when able to stand alone, might become proud and ambitious; a
fear which was grounded on the whole history of the Church.

Although Calvin had an exalted idea of the spiritual dignity of the
Church, he allowed a very dangerous interference of the State in
ecclesiastical affairs, even while he would separate the functions of
the clergy from those of the magistrates. He allowed the State to
pronounce the final sentence on dogmatic questions, and hence the power
of the synod failed in Geneva. Moreover, the payment of ministers by the
State rather than by the people, as in this country, was against the old
Jewish custom, which Calvin so often borrowed,--for the priests among
the Jews were independent of the kings. But Calvin wished to destroy
caste among the clergy, and consequently spiritual tyranny. In his
legislation we see an intense hostility to the Roman Catholic
Church,--one of the animating principles of the Reformers; and hence the
Reformers, in their hostility to Rome, went from Sylla into Charybdis.
Calvin, like all churchmen, exalted naturally the theocratic idea of the
old Jewish and Mediaeval Church, and yet practically put the Church into
the hands of laymen. In one sense he was a spiritual dictator, and like
Luther a sort of Protestant pope; and yet he built up a system which was
fatal to spiritual power such as had existed among the Catholic
priesthood. For their sacerdotal spiritual power he would substitute a
moral power, the result of personal bearing and sanctity. It is amusing
to hear some people speak of Calvin as a ghostly spiritual father; but
no man ever fought sacerdotalism more earnestly than he. The logical
sequence of his ecclesiastical reforms was not the aristocratic and
Erastian Church of Scotland, but the Puritans in New England, who were
Independents and not Presbyterians.

Yet there is an inconsistency even in Calvin's regime; for he had the
zeal of the old Catholic Church in giving over to the civil power those
he wished to punish, as in the case of Servetus. He even intruded into
the circle of social life, and established a temporal rather than a
spiritual theocracy; and while he overthrew the episcopal element, he
made a distinction, not recognized in the primitive church, between
clergy and laity. As for religious toleration, it did not exist in any
country or in any church; there was no such thing as true evangelical
freedom. All the Reformers attempted, as well as the Catholics, a
compulsory unity of faith; and this is an impossibility. The Reformers
adopted a catechism, or a theological system, which all communicants
were required to learn and accept. This is substantially the acceptance
of what the Church ordains. Creeds are perhaps a necessity in
well-organized ecclesiastical bodies, and are not unreasonable; but it
should not be forgotten that they are formulated doctrines made by men,
on what is supposed to be the meaning of the Scriptures, and are not
consistent with the right of private judgment when pushed out to its
ultimate logical consequence. When we remember how few men are capable
of interpreting Scripture for themselves, and how few are disposed to
exercise this right, we can see why the formulated catechism proved
useful in securing unity of belief; but when Protestant divines insisted
on the acceptance of the articles of faith which they deduced from the
Scriptures, they did not differ materially from the Catholic clergy in
persisting on the acceptance of the authority of the Church as to
matters of doctrine. Probably a church organization is impossible
without a formulated creed. Such a creed has existed from the time of
the Council of Nice, and is not likely ever to be abandoned by any
Christian Church in any future age, although it may be modified and
softened with the advance of knowledge. However, it is difficult to
conceive of the unity of the Church as to faith, without a creed made
obligatory on all the members of a communion to accept, and it always
has been regarded as a useful and even necessary form of Christian
instruction for the people. Calvin himself attached great importance to
catechisms, and prepared one even for children.

He also put a great value on preaching, instead of the complicated and
imposing ritual of the Catholic service; and in most Protestant churches
from his day to ours preaching, or religious instruction, has occupied
the most prominent part of the church service; and it must be conceded
that while the Catholic service has often degenerated into mere rites
and ceremonies to aid a devotional spirit, so the Protestant service has
often become cold and rationalistic,--and it is not easy to say which
extreme is the worse.

Thus far we have viewed Calvin in the light of a reformer and
legislator, but his influence as a theologian is more remarkable. It is
for his theology that he stands out as a prominent figure in the history
of the Church. As such he showed greater genius; as such he is the most
eminent of all the reformers; as such he impressed his mind on the
thinking of his own age and of succeeding ages,--an original and
immortal man. His system of divinity embodied in his "Institutes" is
remarkable for the radiation of the general doctrines of the Church
around one central principle, which he defended with marvellous logical
power. He was not a fencer like Abelard, displaying wonderful dexterity
in the use of sophistries, overwhelming adversaries by wit and sarcasm;
arrogant and self-sufficient, and destroying rather than building up. He
did not deify the reason, like Erigina, nor throw himself on authority
like Bernard. He was not comprehensive like Augustine, nor mystical like
Bonaventura. He had the spiritual insight of Anselm, and the dialectical
acumen of Thomas Aquinas; acknowledging no master but Christ, and
implicitly receiving whatever the Scriptures declared. He takes his
original position neither from natural reason nor from the authority of
the church, but from the word of God; and from declarations of
Scripture, as he interprets them, he draws sequences and conclusions
with irresistible logic. In an important sense he is one-sided, since he
does not take cognizance of other truths equally important. He is
perfectly fearless in pushing out to its most logical consequences
whatever truth he seizes upon; and hence he appears to many gifted and
learned critics to draw conclusions from accepted premises which
apparently conflict with consciousness or natural reason; and hence
there has ever been repugnance to many of his doctrines, because it is
impossible, it is said, to believe them.

In general, Calvin does not essentially differ from the received
doctrines of the Church as defended by its greatest lights in all ages.
His peculiarity is not in making a digest of divinity,--although he
treated all the great subjects which have been discussed from Athanasius
to Aquinas. His "Institutes" may well be called an exhaustive system of
theology. There is no great doctrine which he has not presented with
singular clearness and logical force. Yet it is not for a general system
of divinity that he is famous, but for making prominent a certain class
of subjects, among which he threw the whole force of his genius. In
fact all the great lights of the Church have been distinguished for the
discussion of particular doctrines to meet the exigencies of their
times. Thus Athanasius is identified with the Trinitarian controversy,
although he was a minister of theological knowledge in general.
Augustine directed his attention more particularly to the refutation of
Pelagian heresies and human Depravity. Luther's great doctrine was
Justification by Faith, although he took the same ground as Augustine.
It was the logical result of the doctrines of Grace which he defended
which led to the overthrow, in half of Europe, of that extensive system
of penance and self-expiation which marked the Roman Catholic Church,
and on which so many glaring abuses were based. As Athanasius rendered a
great service to the Church by establishing the doctrine of the Trinity,
and Augustine a still greater service by the overthrow of Pelagianism,
so Luther undermined the papal pile of superstition by showing
eloquently,--what indeed had been shown before,--the true ground of
justification. When we speak of Calvin, the great subject of
Predestination arises before our minds, although on this subject he made
no pretention to originality. Nor did he differ materially from
Augustine, or Gottschalk, or Thomas Aquinas before him, or Pascal and
Edwards after him. But no man ever presented this complicated and
mysterious subject so ably as he.

It is not for me to discuss this great topic. I simply wish to present
the subject historically,--to give Calvin's own views, and the effect of
his deductions on the theology of his age; and in giving Calvin's views
I must shelter myself under the wings of his best biographer, Doctor
Henry of Berlin, and quote the substance of his exposition of the
peculiar doctrines of the Swiss, or rather French, theologian.

According to Henry, Calvin maintained that God, in his sovereign will
and for his own glory, elected one part of the human race to everlasting
life, and abandoned the other part to everlasting death; that man, by
the original transgression, lost the power of free-will, except to do
evil; that it is only by Divine Grace that freedom to do good is
recovered; but that this grace is bestowed only on the elect, and elect
not in consequence of the foreknowledge of God, but by his absolute
decree before the world was made.

This is the substance of those peculiar doctrines which are called
Calvinism, and by many regarded as fundamental principles of theology,
to be received with the same unhesitating faith as the declarations of
Scripture from which those doctrines are deduced. Augustine and Aquinas
accepted substantially the same doctrines, but they were not made so
prominent in their systems, nor were they so elaborately worked out.

The opponents of Calvin, including some of the brightest lights which
have shone in the English church,--such men as Jeremy Taylor, Archbishop
Whately, and Professor Mosley,--affirm that these doctrines are not only
opposed to free-will, but represent God as arbitrarily dooming a large
part of the human race to future and endless punishment, withholding
from them his grace, by which alone they can turn from their sins,
creating them only to destroy them: not as the potter moulds the clay
for vessels of honor and dishonor, but moulding the clay in order to
destroy the vessels he has made, whether good or bad; which doctrine
they affirm conflicts with the views usually held out in the Scriptures
of God as a God of love, and also conflicts with all natural justice,
and is therefore one-sided and narrow.

The premises from which this doctrine is deduced are those Scripture
texts which have the authority of the Apostle Paul, such as these:
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world;" "For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate;" "Jacob have
I loved and Esau have I hated;" "He hath mercy on whom he will have
mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth;" "Hath not the potter power over
his clay?" No one denies that from these texts the Predestination of
Calvin as well as Augustine--for they both had similar views--is
logically drawn. It has been objected that both of these eminent
theologians overlooked other truths which go in parallel lines, and
which would modify the doctrine,--even as Scripture asserts in one place
the great fact that the will is free, and in another place that the will
is shackled. The Pelagian would push out the doctrine of free-will so as
to ignore the necessity of grace; and the Augustinian would push out the
doctrine of the servitude of the will into downright fatalism. But these
great logicians apparently shrink from the conclusions to which their
logic leads them. Both Augustine and Calvin protest against fatalism,
and both assert that the will is so far free that the sinner acts
without constraint; and consequently the blame of his sins rests upon
himself, and not upon another. The doctrines of Calvin and Augustine
logically pursued would lead to the damnation of infants; yet, as a
matter of fact, neither maintained that to which their logic led. It is
not in human nature to believe such a thing, even if it may be
dogmatically asserted.

And then, in regard to sin: no one has ever disputed the fact that sin
is rampant in this world, and is deserving of punishment. But
theologians of the school of Augustine and Calvin, in view of the fact,
have assumed the premise--which indeed cannot be disputed--that sin is
against an infinite God. Hence, that sin against an infinite God is
itself infinite; and hence that, as sin deserves punishment, an
infinite sin deserves infinite punishment,--a conclusion from which
consciousness recoils, and which is nowhere asserted in the Bible. It is
a conclusion arrived at by metaphysical reasoning, which has very little
to do with practical Christianity, and which, imposed as a dogma of
belief, to be accepted like plain declarations of Scripture, is an
insult to the human understanding. But this conclusion, involving the
belief that inherited sin _is infinite_, and deserving of infinite
punishment, appals the mind. For relief from this terrible logic, the
theologian adduces the great fact that Christ made an atonement for
sin,--another cardinal declaration of the Scripture,--and that believers
in this atonement shall be saved. This Bible doctrine is exceedingly
comforting, and accounts in a measure for the marvellous spread of
Christianity. The wretched people of the old Roman world heard the glad
tidings that Christ died for them, as an atonement for the sins of which
they were conscious, and which had chained them to despair. But another
class of theologians deduced from this premise, that, as Christ's death
was an infinite atonement for the sins of the world, so all men, and
consequently all sinners, would be saved. This was the ground of the
original Universalists, deduced from the doctrines which Augustine and
Calvin had formulated. But they overlooked the Scripture declaration
which Calvin never lost sight of, that salvation was only for those who
believed. Now inasmuch as a vast majority of the human race, including
infants, have not believed, it becomes a logical conclusion that all who
have not believed are lost. Logic and consciousness then come into
collision, and there is no relief but in consigning these discrepancies
to the realm of mystery.

I allude to these theological difficulties simply to show the tyranny to
which the mind and soul are subjected whenever theological deductions
are invested with the same authority as belongs to original declarations
of Scripture; and which, so far from being systematized, do not even
always apparently harmonize. Almost any system of belief can be
logically deduced from Scripture texts. It should be the work of
theologians to harmonize them and show their general spirit and meaning,
rather than to draw conclusions from any particular class of subjects.
Any system of deductions from texts of Scripture which are offset by
texts of equal authority but apparently different meaning, is
necessarily one-sided and imperfect, and therefore narrow. That is
exactly the difficulty under which Calvin labored. He seems, to a large
class of Christians of great ability and conscientiousness, to be narrow
and one-sided, and is therefore no authority to them; not, be it
understood, in reference to the great fundamental doctrines of
Christianity, but in his views of Predestination and the subjects
interlinked with it. And it was the great error of attaching so much
importance to mere metaphysical divinity that led to such a revulsion
from his peculiar system in after times. It was the great wisdom of the
English reformers, like Cranmer, to leave all those metaphysical
questions open, as matters of comparatively little consequence, and fall
back on unquestioned doctrines of primitive faith, that have given so
great vitality to the English Church, and made it so broad and catholic.
The Puritans as a body, more intellectual than the mass of the
Episcopalians, were led away by the imposing and entangling dialectics
of the scholastic Calvin, and came unfortunately to attach as much
importance to such subjects as free-will and predestination--questions
most complicated--as they did to "the weightier matters of the law;" and
when pushed by the logic of opponents to the _decretum horribile_, have
been compelled to fall back on the Catholic doctrine of mysteries, as
something which could never be explained or comprehended, but which it
is a Christian duty to accept as a mystery. The Scriptures certainly
speak of mysteries, like regeneration; but it is one thing to marvel how
a man can be born again by the Spirit of God,--a fact we see every
day,--and quite another thing to make a mystery to be accepted as a
matter of faith of that which the Bible has nowhere distinctly
affirmed, and which is against all ideas of natural justice, and arrived
at by a subtle process of dialectical reasoning.

But it was natural for so great an intellectual giant as Calvin to make
his startling deductions from the great truths he meditated upon with so
much seriousness and earnestness. Only a very lofty nature would have
revelled as he did, and as Augustine did before him and Pascal after
him, in those great subjects which pertain to God and his dispensations.
All his meditations and formulated doctrines radiate from the great and
sublime idea of the majesty of God and the comparative insignificance of
man. And here he was not so far apart from the great sages of antiquity,
before salvation was revealed by Christ. "Canst thou by searching find
out God?" "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?"

And here I would remark that theologians and philosophers have ever been
divided into two great schools,--those who have had a tendency to exalt
the dignity of man, and those who would absorb man in the greatness of
the Deity. These two schools have advocated doctrines which, logically
carried out to their ultimate sequences, would produce a Grecian
humanitarianism on the one hand, and a sort of Bramanism on the
other,--the one making man the arbiter of his own destiny, independently
of divine agency, and the other making the Deity the only power of the
universe. With one school, God as the only controlling agency is a
fiction, and man himself is infinite in faculties; the other holds that
God is everything and man is nothing. The distinction between these two
schools, both of which have had great defenders, is fundamental,--such
as that between Augustine and Pelagius, between Bernard and Abelard, and
between Calvin and Lainez. Among those who have inclined to the doctrine
of the majesty of God and the littleness of man were the primitive monks
and the Indian theosophists, and the orthodox scholastics of the Middle
Ages,--all of whom were comparatively indifferent to material pleasure
and physical progress, and sought the salvation of the soul and the
favor of God beyond all temporal blessings. Of the other class have been
the Greek philosophers and the rationalizing schoolmen and the modern
lights of science.

Now Calvin was imbued with the lofty spirit of the Fathers of the Church
and the more religious and contemplative of the schoolmen and the saints
of the Middle Ages, when he attached but little dignity to man unaided
by divine grace, and was absorbed with the idea of the sovereignty of
God, in whose hands man is like clay in the hands of the potter. This
view of God pervaded the whole spirit of his theology, making it both
lofty and yet one-sided. To him the chief end of man was to glorify
God, not to develop his own intellectual faculties, and still less to
seek the pleasures and excitements of the world. Man was a sinner before
an infinite God, and he could rise above the polluting influence of sin
only by the special favor of God and his divinely communicated grace.
Man was so great a sinner that he deserved an eternal punishment, only
to be rescued as a brand plucked from the fire, as one of the elect
before the world was made. The vast majority of men were left to the
uncovenanted mercies of Christ,--the redeemer, not of the race, but of
those who believed.

To Calvin therefore, as to the Puritans, the belief in a personal God
was everything; not a compulsory belief in the general existence of a
deity who, united with Nature, reveals himself to our consciousness; not
the God of the pantheist, visible in all the wonders of Nature; not the
God of the rationalist, who retires from the universe which he has made,
leaving it to the operation of certain unchanging and universal laws:
but the God whom Abraham and Moses and the prophets saw and recognized,
and who by his special providence rules the destinies of men. The most
intellectual of the reformers abhorred the deification of the reason,
and clung to that exalted supernaturalism which was the life and hope of
blessed saints and martyrs in bygone ages, and which in "their contests
with mail-clad infidelity was like the pebble which the shepherd of
Israel hurled against the disdainful boaster who defied the power of
Israel's God." And he was thus brought into close sympathy with the
realism of the Fathers, who felt that all that is valuable in theology
must radiate from the recognition of Almighty power in the renovation of
society, and displayed, not according to our human notions of law and
progress and free-will, but supernaturally and mysteriously, according
to his sovereign will, which is above law, since God is the author of
law. He simply erred in enforcing a certain class of truths which must
follow from the majesty of the one great First Cause, lofty as these
truths are, to the exclusion of another class of truths of great
importance; which gives to his system incompleteness and one-sidedness.
Thus he was led to undervalue the power of truth itself in its contest
with error. He was led into a seeming recognition of two wills in
God,--that which wills the salvation of all men, and that which wills
the salvation of the elect alone. He is accused of a leaning to
fatalism, which he heartily denied, but which seems to follow from his
logical conclusions. He entered into an arena of metaphysical
controversy which can never be settled. The doctrines of free-will and
necessity can never be reconciled by mortal reason. Consciousness
reveals the freedom of the will as well as the slavery to sin. Men are
conscious of both; they waste their time in attempting to reconcile two
apparently opposing facts,--like our pious fathers at their New England
firesides, who were compelled to shelter themselves behind mystery.

The tendency of Calvin's system, it is maintained by many, is to ascribe
to God attributes which according to natural justice would be injustice
and cruelty, such as no father would exercise on his own children,
however guilty. Even good men will not accept in their hearts doctrines
which tend to make God less compassionate than man. There are not two
kinds of justice. The intellect is appalled when it is affirmed that one
man _justly_ suffers the penalty of another man's sin,--although the
world is full of instances of men suffering from the carelessness or
wickedness of others, as in a wicked war or an unnecessary railway
disaster. The Scripture law of retribution, as brought out in the Bible
and sustained by consciousness, is the penalty a man pays for personal
and voluntary transgression. Nor will consciousness accept the doctrine
that the sin of a mortal--especially under strong temptation and with
all the bias of a sinful nature--is infinite. Nothing which a created
mortal can do is infinite; it is only finite: the infinite belongs to
God alone. Hence an infinite penalty for a finite sin conflicts with
consciousness and is nowhere asserted in the Bible, which is
transcendently more merciful and comforting than many theological
systems of belief, however powerfully sustained by dialectical reasoning
and by the most excellent men. Human judgments or reasonings are
fallible on moral questions which have two sides; and reasonings from
texts which present different meanings when studied by the lights of
learning and science are still more liable to be untrustworthy. It would
seem to be the supremest necessity for theological schools to unravel
the meaning of divine declarations, and present doctrines in their
relation with apparently conflicting texts, rather than draw out a
perfect and consistent system, philosophically considered, from any one
class of texts. Of all things in this wicked and perplexing world the
science of theology should be the most cheerful and inspiring, for it
involves inquiries on the loftiest subjects which can interest a
thoughtful mind.

But whatever defects the system of doctrines which Calvin elaborated
with such transcendent ability may have, there is no question as to its
vast influence on the thinking of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. The schools of France and Holland and Scotland and England
and America were animated by his genius and authority. He was a burning
and a shining light, if not for all ages, at least for the unsettled
times in which he lived. No theologian ever had a greater posthumous
power than he for nearly three hundred years, and he is still one of
the great authorities of the church universal. John Knox sought his
counsel and was influenced by his advice in the great reform he made in
Scotland. In France the words Calvinist and Huguenot are synonymous.
Cranmer, too, listened to his counsels, and had great respect for his
learning and sanctity. Among the Puritans he has reigned like an oracle.
Oliver Cromwell embraced his doctrines, as also did Sir Matthew Hale.
Ridicule or abuse of Calvin is as absurd as the ridicule or abuse with
which Protestants so long assailed Hildebrand or Innocent III. No one
abuses Pascal or Augustine, and yet the theological views of all these
are substantially the same.

In one respect I think that Calvin has received more credit than he
deserves. Some have maintained that he was a sort of father of
republicanism and democratic liberty. In truth he had no popular
sympathies, and leaned towards an aristocracy which was little short of
an oligarchy. He had no hand in establishing the political system of
Geneva; it was established before he went there. He was not even one of
those thinkers who sympathized with true liberty of conscience. He
persecuted heretics like a mediaeval Catholic divine. He would have
burned a Galileo as he caused the death of Servetus, which need not have
happened but for him. Calvin could have saved Servetus if he had
pleased; but he complained of him to the magistrates, knowing that his
condemnation and death would necessarily follow. He had neither the
humanity of Luther nor the toleration of Saint Augustine. He was the
impersonation of intellect,--like Newton, Leibnitz, Spinoza, and
Kant,--which overbore the impulses of his heart. He had no passions
except zeal for orthodoxy. So pre-eminently did intellect tower above
the passions that he seemed to lack sympathy; and yet, such was his
exalted character, he was capable of friendship. He was remarkable for
every faculty of the mind except wit and imagination. His memory was
almost incredible; he remembered everything he ever read or heard; he
would, after long intervals, recognize persons whom he had never seen
but once or twice. When employed in dictation, he would resume the
thread of his discourse without being prompted, after the most vexatious
interruptions. His judgment was as sound as his memory was retentive; it
was almost infallible,--no one was ever known to have been misled by it.
He had a remarkable analytical power, and also the power of
generalization. He was a very learned man, and his Commentaries are
among the most useful and valued of his writings, showing both learning
and judgment; his exegetical works have scarcely been improved. He had
no sceptical or rationalistic tendencies, and therefore his Commentaries
may not be admired by men of "advanced thought," but his annotations
will live when those of Ewald shall be forgotten; they still hold their
place in the libraries of biblical critics. For his age he was a
transcendent critic; his various writings fill five folio volumes. He
was not so voluminous a writer as Thomas Aquinas, but less diffuse; his
style is lucid, like that of Voltaire.

Considering the weakness of his body Calvin's labors were prodigious.
There was never a more industrious man, finding time for
everything,--for an amazing correspondence, for pastoral labors, for
treatises and essays, for commentaries and official duties. No man ever
accomplished more in the same space of time. He preached daily every
alternate week; he attended meetings of the Consistory and of the Court
of Morals; he interested himself in the great affairs of his age; he
wrote letters to all parts of Christendom.

Reigning as a religious dictator, and with more influence than any man
of his age, next to Luther, Calvin was content to remain poor, and was
disdainful of money and all praises and rewards. This was not an
affectation, not the desire to imitate the great saints of Christian
antiquity to whom poverty was a cardinal virtue; but real indifference,
looking upon money as _impedimenta_, as camp equipage is to successful
generals. He was not conscious of being poor with his small salary of
fifty dollars a year, feeling that he had inexhaustible riches within
him; and hence he calmly and naturally took his seat among the great men
of the world as their peer and equal, without envy of the accidents of
fortune and birth. He was as indifferent to money and luxuries as
Socrates when he walked barefooted among the Athenian aristocracy, or
Basil when he retired to the wilderness; he rarely gave vent to
extravagant grief or joy, seldom laughed, and cared little for
hilarities; he knew no games or sports; he rarely played with children
or gossiped with women; he loved without romance, and suffered
bereavement without outward sorrow. He had no toleration for human
infirmities, and was neither social nor genial; he sought a wife, not so
much for communion of feeling as to ease him of his burdens,--not to
share his confidence, but to take care of his house. Nor was he fond,
like Luther, of music and poetry. He had no taste for the fine arts; he
never had a poet or an artist for his friend or companion. He could not
look out of his window without seeing the glaciers of the Alps, but
seemed to be unmoved by their unspeakable grandeur; he did not revel in
the glories of nature or art, but gave his mind to abstract ideas and
stern practical duties. He was sparing of language, simple, direct, and
precise, using neither sarcasm, nor ridicule, nor exaggeration. He was
far from being eloquent according to popular notions of oratory, and
despised the jingle of words and phrases and tricks of rhetoric; he
appealed to reason rather than the passions, to the conscience rather
than the imagination.

Though mild, Calvin was also intolerant. Castillo, once his friend,
assailed his doctrine of Decrees, and was obliged to quit Geneva, and
was so persecuted that he died of actual starvation; Perrin,
captain-general of the republic, danced at a wedding, and was thrown
into prison; Bolsec, an eminent physician, opposed the doctrine of
Predestination, and was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment; Gruet spoke
lightly of the ordinances of religion, and was beheaded; Servetus was a
moral and learned and honest man, but could not escape the flames. Had
he been willing to say, as the flames consumed his body, "Jesus, thou
eternal Son of God, have mercy on me!" instead of, "Jesus, thou son of
the eternal God!" he might have been spared. Calvin was as severe on
those who refused to accept his logical deductions from acknowledged
truths as he was on those who denied the fundamental truths themselves.
But toleration was rare in his age, and he was not beyond it. He was not
even beyond the ideas of the Middle Ages in some important points, such
as those which pertained to divine justice,--the wrath rather than the
love of God. He lived too near the Middle Ages to be emancipated from
the ideas which enslaved such a man as Thomas Aquinas. He had very
little patience with frivolous amusements or degrading pursuits. He
attached great dignity to the ministerial office, and set a severe
example of decorum and propriety in all his public ministrations. He was
a type of the early evangelical divines, and was the father of the old
Puritan strictness and narrowness and fidelity to trusts. His very
faults grew out of virtues pushed to extremes. In our times such a man
would not be selected as a travelling companion, or a man at whose house
we would wish to keep the Christmas holidays. His unattractive austerity
perhaps has been made too much of by his enemies, and grew out of his
unimpulsive temperament,--call it cold if we must,--and also out of his
stern theology, which marked the ascetics of the Middle Ages. Few would
now approve of his severity of discipline any more than they would feel
inclined to accept some of his theological deductions.

I question whether Calvin lived in the hearts of his countrymen, or they
would have erected some monument to his memory. In our times a statue
has been erected to Rousseau in Geneva; but Calvin was buried without
ceremony and with exceeding simplicity. He was a warrior who cared
nothing for glory or honor, absorbed in devotion to his Invisible King,
not indifferent to the exercise of power, but only as he felt he was the
delegated messenger of Divine Omnipotence scattering to the winds the
dust of all mortal grandeur. With all his faults, which were on the
surface, he was the accepted idol and oracle of a great party, and
stamped his genius on his own and succeeding ages. Whatever the
Presbyterians have done for civilization, he comes in for a share of the
honor. Whatever foundations the Puritans laid for national greatness in
this country, it must be confessed that they caught inspiration from his
decrees. Such a great master of exegetical learning and theological
inquiry and legislative wisdom will be forever held in reverence by
lofty characters, although he may be no favorite with the mass of
mankind. If many great men and good men have failed to comprehend either
his character or his system, how can a pleasure-loving and material
generation, seeking to combine the glories of this world with the
promises of the next, see much in him to admire, except as a great
intellectual dialectician and system-maker in an age with which it has
no sympathy? How can it appreciate his deep spiritual life, his profound
communion with God, his burning zeal for the defence of Christian
doctrine, his sublime self-sacrifice, his holy resignation, his entire
consecration to a great cause? Nobody can do justice to Calvin who does
not know the history of his times, the circumstances which surrounded
him, and the enemies he was required to fight. No one can comprehend his
character or mission who does not feel it to be supremely necessary to
have a definite, positive system of religious belief, based on the
authority of the Scriptures as a divine inspiration, both as an anchor
amid the storms and a star of promise and hope.

And, after all, what is the head and front of Calvin's offending?--that
he was cold, unsocial, and ungenial in character; and that, as a
theologian, he fearlessly and inexorably pushed out his deductions to
their remotest logical sequences. But he was no more austere than
Chrysostom, no more ascetic than Basil, not even sterner in character
than Michael Angelo, or more unsocial than Pascal or Cromwell or William
the Silent. We lose sight of his defects in the greatness of his
services and the exalted dignity of his character. If he was severe to
adversaries, he was kind to friends; and when his feeble body was worn
out by his protracted labors, at the age of fifty-three, and he felt
that the hand of death was upon him, he called together his friends and
fellow-laborers in reform,--the magistrates and ministers of
Geneva,--imparted his last lessons, and expressed his last wishes, with
the placidity of a Christian sage. Amid tears and sobs and stifled
groans he discoursed calmly on his approaching departure, gave his
affectionate benedictions, and commended them and his cause to Christ;
lingering longer than was expected, but dying in the highest triumphs of
Christian faith, May 27, 1564, in the arms of his faithful and admiring
Beza, as the rays of the setting-sun gilded with their glory his humble
chamber of toil and spiritual exaltation.

No man who knows anything will ever sneer at Calvin. He is not to be
measured by common standards. He was universally regarded as the
greatest light of the theological world. When we remember his
transcendent abilities, his matchless labors, his unrivalled influence,
his unblemished morality, his lofty piety, and soaring soul, all
flippant criticism is contemptible and mean. He ranks with immortal
benefactors, and needs least of all any apologies for his defects. A man
who stamped his opinions on his own age and succeeding ages can be
regarded only as a very extraordinary genius. A frivolous and
pleasure-seeking generation may not be attracted by such an
impersonation of cold intellect, and may rear no costly monument to his
memory; but his work remains as the leader of the loftiest class of
Christian enthusiasts that the modern world has known, and the founder
of a theological system which still numbers, in spite of all the changes
of human thought, some of the greatest thinkers and ablest expounders of
Christian doctrine in both Europe and America. To have been the
spiritual father of the Puritans for three hundred years is itself a
great evidence of moral and intellectual excellence, and will link his
name with some of the greatest movements that have marked our modern
civilization. From Plymouth Rock to the shores of the Pacific Ocean we
still see the traces of his marvellous genius, and his still more
wonderful influence on the minds of men and on the schools of Christian
theology; so that he will ever be regarded as the great doctor of the
Protestant Church.


Henry's Life of Calvin, translated by Stebbings; Dyer's Life of Calvin;
Beza's Life of Calvin; Drelincourt's Defence of Calvin; Bayle;
Maimbourg's Histoire du Calvinisine; Calvin's Works; Ruchat; D'Aubigne's
History of the Reformation; Burnet's Reformation; Mosheim; Biographie
Universelle, article on Servetus; Schlosser's Leben Bezas; McCrie's Life
of Knox; Original Letters (Parker Society).


* * * * *

A.D. 1561-1626.


It is not easy to present the life and labors of

"The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."

So Pope sums up the character of the great Lord Bacon, as he is
generally but improperly called; and this verdict, in the main, has been
confirmed by Lords Macaulay and Campbell, who seem to delight in keeping
him in that niche of the temple of fame where the poet has placed
him,--contemptible as a man, but venerable as the philosopher, radiant
with all the wisdom of his age and of all preceding ages, the miner and
sapper of ancient falsehoods, the pioneer of all true knowledge, the
author of that inductive and experimental philosophy on which is based
the glory of our age. Macaulay especially, in that long and brilliant
article which appeared in the "Edinburgh Review" in 1837, has
represented him as a remarkably worldly man, cold, calculating, selfish;
a sycophant and a flatterer, bent on self-exaltation; greedy, careless,
false; climbing to power by base subserviency; betraying friends and
courting enemies; with no animosities he does not suppress from policy,
and with no affections which he openly manifests when it does not suit
his interests: so that we read with shame of his extraordinary
shamelessness, from the time he first felt the cravings of a vulgar
ambition to the consummation of a disgraceful crime; from the base
desertion of his greatest benefactor to the public selling of justice as
Lord High Chancellor of the realm; resorting to all the arts of a
courtier to win the favor of his sovereign and of his minions and
favorites; reckless as to honest debts; torturing on the rack an honest
parson for a sermon he never preached; and, when obliged to confess his
corruption, meanly supplicating mercy from the nation he had outraged,
and favors from the monarch whose cause he had betrayed. The defects and
delinquencies of this great man are bluntly and harshly put by Macaulay,
without any attempt to soften or palliate them; as if he would consign
his name and memory, not "to men's charitable speeches, to foreign
nations, and to the next ages," but to an infamy as lasting and deep as
that of Scroggs and of Jeffreys, or any of those hideous tyrants and
monsters that disgraced the reigns of the Stuart kings.

And yet while the man is made to appear in such hideous colors, his
philosophy is exalted to the highest pinnacle of praise, as the greatest
boon which any philosopher ever rendered to the world, and the chief
cause of all subsequent progress in scientific discovery. And thus in
brilliant rhetoric we have a painting of a man whose life was in
striking contrast with his teachings,--a Judas Iscariot, uttering divine
philosophy; a Seneca, accumulating millions as the tool of Nero; a
fallen angel, pointing with rapture to the realms of eternal light. We
have the most startling contradiction in all history,--glory in
debasement, and debasement in glory; the most selfish and worldly man in
England, the "meanest of mankind," conferring on the race one of the
greatest blessings it ever received,--not accidentally, not in
repentance and shame, but in exalted and persistent labors, amid public
cares and physical infirmities, from youth to advanced old age; living
in the highest regions of thought, studious and patient all his days,
even when neglected and unrewarded for the transcendent services he
rendered, not as a philosopher merely, but as a man of affairs and as a
responsible officer of the Crown. Has there ever been, before or since,
such an anomaly in human history,--so infamous in action, so glorious in
thought; such a contradiction between life and teachings,--so that many
are found to utter indignant protests against such a representation of
humanity, justly feeling that such a portrait, however much it may be
admired for its brilliant colors, and however difficult to be proved
false, is nevertheless an insult to the human understanding? The heart
of the world will not accept the strange and singular belief that so bad
a man could confer so great a boon, especially when he seemed bent on
bestowing it during his whole life, amid the most harassing duties. If
it accepts the boon, it will strive to do justice to the benefactor, as
he himself appealed to future ages; and if it cannot deny the charges
which have been arrayed against him,--especially if it cannot exculpate
him,--it will soar beyond technical proofs to take into consideration
the circumstances of the times, the temptations of a corrupt age, and
the splendid traits which can with equal authority be adduced to set off
against the mistakes and faults which proceeded from inadvertence and
weakness rather than a debased moral sense,--even as the defects and
weaknesses of Cicero are lost sight of in the acknowledged virtues of
his ordinary life, and the honest and noble services he rendered to his
country and mankind.

Bacon was a favored man; he belonged to the upper ranks of society. His
father, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was a great lawyer, and reached the highest
dignities, being Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. His mother's sister was
the wife of William Cecil, the great Lord Burleigh, the most able and
influential of Queen Elizabeth's ministers. Francis Bacon was the
youngest son of the Lord Keeper, and was born in London, Jan. 22, 1561.
He had a sickly and feeble constitution, but intellectually was a
youthful prodigy; and at nine years of age, by his gravity and
knowledge, attracted the admiring attention of the Queen, who called him
her young Lord Keeper. At the age of ten we find him stealing away from
his companions to discover the cause of a singular echo in the brick
conduit near his father's house in the Strand. At twelve he entered the
University of Cambridge; at fifteen he quitted it, already disgusted
with its pedantries and sophistries; at sixteen he rebelled against the
authority of Aristotle, and took up his residence at Gray's Inn; the
same year, 1576, he was sent to Paris in the suite of Sir Amias Paulet,
ambassador to the court of France, and delighted the salons of the
capital by his wit and profound inquiries; at nineteen he returned to
England, having won golden opinions from the doctors of the French
Sanhedrim, who saw in him a second Daniel; and in 1582 he was admitted
as a barrister of Gray's Inn, and the following year composed an essay
on the Instauration of Philosophy. Thus, at an age when young men now
leave the university, he had attacked the existing systems of science
and philosophy, proudly taking in all science and knowledge for
his realm.

About this time his father died, without leaving him, a younger son, a
competence. Nor would his great relatives give him an office or sinecure
by which he might be supported while he sought truth, and he was forced
to plod at the law, which he never liked, resisting the blandishments
and follies by which he was surrounded; and at intervals, when other
young men of his age and rank were seeking pleasure, he was studying
Nature, science, history, philosophy, poetry,--everything, even the
whole domain of truth,--and with such success that his varied
attainments were rather a hindrance to an appreciation of his merits as
a lawyer and his preferment in his profession.

In 1586 he entered parliament, sitting for Taunton, and also became a
bencher at Gray's Inn; so that at twenty-six he was in full practice in
the courts of Westminster, also a politician, speaking on almost every
question of importance which agitated the House of Commons for twenty
years, distinguished for eloquence as well as learning, and for a manly
independence which did not entirely please the Queen, from whom all
honors came.

In 1591, at the age of thirty-one, he formed the acquaintance of Essex,
about his own age, who, as the favorite of the Queen, was regarded as
the most influential man in the country. The acquaintance ripened into
friendship; and to the solicitation of this powerful patron, who urged
the Queen to give Bacon a high office, she is said to have replied: "He
has indeed great wit and much learning, but in law, my lord, he is not
deeply read,"--an opinion perhaps put into her head by his rival Coke,
who did indeed know law but scarcely anything else, or by that class of
old-fashioned functionaries who could not conceive how a man could
master more than one thing. We should however remember that Bacon had
not reached the age when great offices were usually conferred in the
professions, and that his efforts to be made solicitor-general at the
age of thirty-one, and even earlier, would now seem unreasonable and
importunate, whatever might be his attainments. Disappointed in not
receiving high office, he meditated a retreat to Cambridge; but his
friend Essex gave him a villa in Twickenham, which he soon mortgaged,
for he was in debt all his life, although in receipt of sums which would
have supported him in comfort and dignity were it not for his habits of
extravagance,--the greatest flaw in his character, and which was the
indirect cause of his disgrace and fall. He was even arrested for debt
when he enjoyed a lucrative practice at the courts. But nothing
prevented him from pursuing his literary and scientific studies, amid
great distractions,--for he was both a leader at the bar and a leader of
the House of Commons; and if he did not receive the rewards to which he
felt entitled, he was always consulted by Elizabeth in great legal

It was not until the Queen died, and Bacon was forty-seven years old,
that he became solicitor-general (1607), in the fourth year of the reign
of James, one year after his marriage with Alice Barnham, an alderman's
daughter, "a handsome maiden," and "to his liking." Besides this office,
which brought him L1000 a year, he about this time had a windfall as
clerk of the Star Chamber, which added L2000 to his income, at that time
from all sources about L4500 a year,--a very large sum for those times,
and making him really a rich man. Six years afterward he was made
attorney-general, and in the year 1617 he was made Lord Keeper, and the
following year he was raised to the highest position in the realm, next
to that of Archbishop of Canterbury, as Lord Chancellor, at the age of
fifty-seven, and soon after was created Lord Verulam. That is his title,
but the world persists in calling him Lord Bacon. In 1620, two years
after the execution of Sir Walter Raleigh, which Bacon advised, he was
in the zenith of his fortunes and fame, having been lately created
Viscount St. Albans, and having published the "Novum Organum," the first
instalment of the "Instauratio Magna," at which he had been working the
best part of his life,--some thirty years,--"A New Logic, to judge or
invent by induction, and thereby to make philosophy and science both
more true and more active."

Then began to gather the storms which were to wreck his fortunes. The
nation now was clamorous for reform; and Coke, the enemy of Bacon, who
was then the leader of the Reform party in the House of Commons,
stimulated the movement. The House began its scrutiny with the
administration of justice; and Bacon could not stand before it, for as
the highest judge in England he was accused of taking bribes before
rendering decisions, and of many cases of corruption so glaring that no
defence was undertaken; and the House of Lords had no alternative but to
sentence him to the Tower and fine him, to degrade him from his office,
and banish him from the precincts of the court,--a fall so great, and
the impression of it on the civilized world so tremendous, that the case
of a judge accepting bribes has rarely since been known.

Bacon was imprisoned but a few days, his ruinous fine of L40,000 was
remitted, and he was even soon after received at court; but he never
again held office. He was hopelessly disgraced; he was a ruined man; and
he bitterly felt the humiliation, and acknowledged the justice of his

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