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Hooper, and Jewel-cannot be estimated. No small part of it may be traced to Valdés, who has been called the spiritual father of this "inaster-spirit in Israel, the arch-counsellor of the recognized founders of the English Church."
It has been said that Valdés, as a reformer, entered less than almost any other man of his time into the battle of the hierarchies. His aim was not so much to destroy error as to build up truth. He was not a controversialist, nor a speculative theologian. Without discarding the Roman Church, he seems to have quietly retired from her communion, He looked far above the mere ritual. Concerning the prevalent abuse of ecclesiastical rites he said: “Outward ceremonies breed inward vices.” He could have sympathized in the remark of Calvin: “Little will be made of ceremonies in the Day of Judgment." Certain quietists of our age have made him one of their models, and kept him aloof from the Christian church and her ordinances. This must be owing to a perversion of a few of his rather unguarded sayings : e. g., “A Christian's proper study should be in his own book. I call my mind my book. In this are contained my opinions, both true and false. In this I discover my confidence and
diffidence, my faith and my unbelief, my hope and my negligence, my charity and my enmity.” But he did not mean that a pious life consisted largely in mere inward contemplation. For he goes on to say: "When I wish to know
" whether my opinions in the Christian faith are false or true, I compare them with the doctrines held by those holy men who wrote the Sacred Scriptures. Reading the holy faith of those Christians of the primitive church, who were acknowledged to be justified and sanctified in and by Christ, I know my own faith and my unbelief, and pray God that he will increase my faith, . . . In this manner Holy Scripture serves me the better to study my own book, and to understand it.” After all, his greatest book was the Bible. He certainly differed from most of the modern Quakers in his views of its authority and the fulness of its light for the human soul.
He died at Naples, about middle age, in 1540, and there was a long remembrance of his spare body, fair and pleasing countenance, retiring disposition, courteous manners, gentle
and winning speech, benevolent heart, vigorous mind, clear logic, happy wit, devoted piety, and un blemished life. His circle of learners felt lonely in the world after he was gone. One of them, Bonfadio, thus wrote to Cainesecchi: “Would that we were now with that happy company! I hear you sigh for it. Yet where shall we go, now that Signor Valdés is dead? This has truly been a great loss for us and the world, for Signor Valdés was one of the rare men of Europe, and those writings he has left us on the Epistles of Paul and the Psalms of David most amply show it. With a particle of his soul he governed his frail and spare body: with the larger part he was always raised in the contemplation of truth and of divine things."
The writings of Valdés were not likely to escape the searching eye of the Inquisition in his native country. There, one of his own relatives, Fernando de Valdés, archbishop of Seville, was Grand Inquisitor. It was he who put the whole code of the Spanish Inquisition into the form in which those terrible laws have existed to this day. The contrast between the two men was but a type of what existed in that age.
Juan Valdés, without using his tongue as the lash upon persecutors, or noisily declaiming against intolerance, was the earnest advocate of true, religious liberty. Although “ actions speak louder than words,” the fame and
” influence of a few men rest mainly upon their conversations. Samuel Johnson and Coleridge were great talkers. They had great things to say. No one talks too much whose utterances are timely, wise, and weighty. The ancients, without a press to crowd its issues upon them, were not shallow thinkers; they talked and remembered, we read and forget. In an age when the decline of right manly conversation is lainented, it may be well to notice that Juan Valdés was a great talker, and that his influence was by no means wasted in the air. His words were deeds. Mr. Ticknor, in his History of Spanish Literature, mentions him as “a person who enjoys the distinction of being one of the first Spaniards that embraced the opinions of the Reformation, and the very first who made an effort to spread them.” The day may be coming when his long-hidden writings will hold in Spain the place which they deserved more than three hundred years ago.
Art. IV.- The Ecclesiastical IIistory of the English Nation,
from the Coming of Julius Cæsar into the Island, in the sictieth year before the Incarnation of Christ, till the year of our Lord 731. By the VENERABLE BEDE. Carefully revised and corrected from the translation of Mr. Stephens.
By Rev. J. A. GILES, LL. D. London: 1810. There are special reasons why English and American scholars should be acquainted with the history of the ancient British and Anglo-Saxon churches, for here were our own ancestorsthe fathers and mothers from whom we are lineally descended. Could we trace our lineage backward, from forty to fifty generations, we should find our progenitors either among the rude savages who so sternly resisted the invasion of their country by Julius Cæsar, or among the ruder and fiercer Saxons who conquered the ancient Britons in the fifth century.
The individual to whom we are chiefly indebted for what we know of the first introduction of Christianity into Britain and of its re-introduction, when it had been subverted by the Saxon invasion, is the Venerable Bede* He is as much the father of English church history as Eusebius is of church history in general.
Bede was born, A. D. 672, in the vicinity of Durham, in a village now called Farrow, near the mouth of the Tyne. Having early lost both his parents, he was placed, by his relatives, in a monastery at Weremonth, where he was educated with much strictness, and became in youth, it is hoped, a child of God. He was afterward removed to a monastery at Jurrow, where he spent the remainder of his life. These monasteries were of the order of the Benedictines, which, in their earliest and purest times, were useful institutions. The monks lived abstemiously, and divided their waking hours between study, devotion, and labor. Many of them were employed in transcribing books ; and we are indebted to them for much
* Gildas, sumamed the Wise, was the most ancient British historian. He is supposed to have died at Bangor (Wales), about the year 590. His only complete work now extant is Epistola de Excidio et Castigatione Ordinis Ecclesiastici, in which he graphic depicts and mourns over the ruin of his country by the Saxous. He is often referred to by Bede.
that we know of ancient sacred and classical literature. The labor performed by them was agriculture, gardening, and the various mechanical trades, by which means they made their lands productive, and supplied, in a great measure, their own personal wants.
From his earliest years Bede was a diligent student, and he soon came to be regarded as the most learned man of his time. IIe was well skilled in the Greek and Hebrew languages, while the Latin, in which most of his works are written, was to him as his mother-tongue. He was ordained deacon in the nineteenth, and presbyter in the thirtieth year of his age; and
; to higher promotion he did not aspire. Bede never knew what it was to be idle. He
himself to the study of the Scriptures, to the instruction of young men, and to the preparation of numerous literary and religious works. IIe wrote on most of the branches of knowledge at that time cultivated in Europe. His fame soon spread beyond the bounds of England, and was celebrated in the surrounding countries. He was invited by Pope Sergius to visit Rome, but the great world had no charms for him. He preferred the routine and seclusion of monastic life, and it does not appear that he ever wandered far from his cell.
The works of Bede have been published in eight folio volumes, consisting of commentaries on nearly the whole Bible, numerous homilies and letters, and a great number of tracts. But his most valuable work, and that by which he is now chiefly known, is his " Ecclesiastical History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the year 731 "-only four years previous to his death. This work was undertaken at the special request of Ceolwulph, one of the Saxon kings, to whom it was dedicated, and in whose dominions Bede's monastery was placed. He spent many years in collecting materials for his history, which he gathered from the lives and letters of particular persons, from the annals of convents, and from such chronicles as had been written before his time. He died, at the age of sixty-three, of an affection of the lungs, attended with great difficulty of respiration.
His last work was a translation of “ John's Gospel” into English. Only a sbort time before his death, his amanuensis said to him: "My
beloved master, one sentence of your translation remains to be written.”_“ Write it quickly,” replied the dying man; and summoning up all his spirits, like the last blaze of a candle, he indited the passage, and expired.
Bede's dying scene was peaceful and glorious. His body was interred in the church of his own convent, but was afterward removed to Durham, and placed in the same coffin with that of St. Cuthbert. According to the fashion of the times, his tomb was often visited, and his relics were held in the highest honor.
Bede was a sincere and devout member of the Church of Rome,—as Rome was in the eighth century,—and sympathized with the Romish clergy in their disputes with the British and Scottish missionaries of those times about Easter, the tonsure, and other matters of the like nature. Still, he bears ample testimony to the piety of the Scottish missionaries, and especially honors them for their strict adherence to the teachings of Scripture.
Various opinions have been expressed by different authors respecting the character of Bede's writings—some extolling them immoderately, and others disparaging them as much. Du Pin says: “ His style is clear and easy, but without purity, elegance, or sublimity. He wrote with a surprising facility, but without art or reflection, and was a greater master of learning than of judgment or critical taste.” On the other hand, Bayle says: “There is scarcely any thing, in all antiquity, that is worthy to be read, which is not found in Bede; and if he had flourished in the times of Augustine, Jerome, and Chrysostom, he would undoubtedly have equalled them.' And Pitts tells us that “ he was so well versed in the several branches of learning that Europe scarce ever produced a greater scholar. Even while he was living, his writings were of so great authority, that it was ordered, by a council held in England, and afterward approved at Rome, that they should be publicly read in churches."
If we would form a just estimate of Bede, we must judge of him, not by our standards, but by that of his own times. And weighed in this balance, he is entitled to a high rank, both as a scholar and a writer. That he was superstitious