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BEING at length returned safe and well to Florence from Leghorn and Pisa, where, through the intemperateness of the air, I was very near contracting a fever; the first thing I had to do. most excellent Barcellinus, being furnished with the most noble library of the illustrious Magliahechius, was to discharge my promise concerning that great man HUGO GROTIUS, and to shew from his writings, particularly his 294letters, in which truth, candour, integrity of heart, and the inward thoughts of his mind are discovered, how highly he thought and wrote concerning us all his life-time, and a little before his departure, and when death and immortality were in his view. I know what was said of him by that principal man of his rank, Petavius, and also Brietius and Valesius, and many other celebrated men of your communion, who wished well and favourably to a man born for the public good of Christianity. It is known to all how greatly he suffered in goods, honour, and report, from the Calvinists, both in his own country and in his banishment, even after he was advanced to a higher rank by foreigners; and how much the heats of controversy (whilst he set his mind upon this one thing, to establish peace in the commonwealth and between the churches, which highly displeased many; a strange and grievous thing!) fretted that disposition which was otherwise peaceable and modest, after he saw himself treated in such an unworthy manner by his own friends; and sometimes prevailed over that meek wisdom which was in him both by nature and judgment. Yet these did not hinder his son, who was also a great man, from saying those things which I shall presently add concerning his father, to that great prince, Charles the second of Great Britain, to whom he dedicated his father’s works, and in him to all others, and this when he had no reason to flatter or fear him, because, in the commonwealth, he was of the contrary part to Charles’s sister’s son; and because he was a private man, wedded to a country and learned life, and an old man, not far from death, nor consequently from liberty: for he published his father’s works but saw them not after they were published; and his own life is to be seen and read with the life of his father in the same volume. “For thou,” says Peter Grotius, “art he alone, whom, if not the greater, yet the wiser part of the Christian world have for a long time acknowledged for their protector. Thou art he to whose protection or defence the Christian faith willingly commits itself; in whose kingdoms principally that knowledge of the sacred writings, that worship of the Deity, that moderation of the too free exercise of liberty, in disputing concerning the secret doctrines 295of faith, is established; whose agreement with which the author, my father, has long since declared, and publicly professed in his writings.”

Here now Hugo Grotius’s own words, how he expresses his own sense, in his epistle to Johannes Corvinis, dated ix the year MDCXXXVIII, who was not an English, but a Dutch divine, of another church, and also a lawyer, and consequently skilled in matters both divine and human; concerning the reformation of religion made amongst us in the last age:—“You see how great a progress they have made in England, in purging out pernicious doctrines; chiefly for this reason, because they who undertook that holy work admitted of nothing new, nothing of their own, but had their eyes wholly fixed upon another world.” Then was it in a flourishing condition, before a civil war broke out, before the king was vanquished, taken captive, condemned, and beheaded; and it afterwards sprung up and flourished again, contrary to all human hopes, when his son returned to the throne of his ancestors, to the surprise of all Europe, and, after various turns, threats, and fears, continues still to flourish secure and unhurt.

Nor had he only a good opinion of the church of England himself, but also advised his friends in Holland, who were of his party, and, which was no small thing, who joined with him in partaking of the same danger and losses, to take holy orders from our bishops; whom it is certain he did not believe, nor would have others believe, to be schismatical, or heretical, upon that account. He addressed his brother in these words: “I would persuade them (that is, the remonstrants) to appoint some amongst them in a more eminent station, such as bishops; and that they receive the laying on of hands from the Irish archbishop who is there, and that when they are so ordained, they afterwards ordain other pastors;” and this in the beginning of the year MDCXLV, which was fatal to him, and unfortunate to learning itself. The bishop he here speaks of is, if I be not mistaken, John Bramhall, who was at that time bishop of Londonderry in Ireland, and, at the restoration of king Charles II. archbishop of Armagh, and next to the most learned Usher, primate of Ireland, and who afterwards in 296that country published a vindication of our church against Miletorius. See also what is said to the same person, April 8, in the year MDCXLV, concerning the public worship of God amongst us: “The English liturgy was always accounted the best by all learned men.”

It seems very probable that this man, who calls the reformation of the church of England a most holy work; who believed that the holy orders given and received from the bishops of that church, and the rites appointed about holy things, and the prescribed form of worshipping the Supreme Deity, exceeded all other churches in the Christian world; world have joined himself to that church, as well in outward worship, as in the judgment of his mind; and so have become now really, what he before was in wish, a member of the Catholic church. But he was never able to effect the thing, because death immediately after overtook him; for in the same year he went from France to Stockholm to resign his ambassadorship, and returning from thence home, and having suffered shipwreck, he departed this life at Rostock, on the 28th of August; a man never enough to be lamented, because study and learning decayed with him; and never enough to be praised, upon the account of what he began and finished in all parts of learning. He was a great lover of peace, if truth was not injured, (always having regard to times and differences), and of the ancient church-government, (freed from abuses), as it was settled from the beginning in England, and as it was from the very apostles’ time, if we may believe ecclesiastical annals. He always studied and consulted the peace of empires and churches, both in his discourses, and by his example, and in his writings. May he be rewarded with God and our common Lord! and may the memory of him be ever grateful to posterity Farewell.

Florence, XII. of the Kalends of May,.


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