Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/162

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156
MELANCHTHON.

regards the church as a society with accumulated property for the use of its officers; the former regarded it as a community of communities, each possessing a preaching-house which ought to be made commercially successful. Saving influences must emanate from it of course, but Dissenting saving influences.

His mother was a partisan to a hideous extent. To hear her talk you would have thought she imagined the apostles the first Dissenters, and that the main duty of every Christian soul was to battle for the victory of Congregationalism over episcopacy, and voluntaryism over State endowment. Her every mode of thinking and acting was of a levelling commonplace. With her, love was liking, duty something unpleasant — generally to other people — and kindness patronage. But she was just in money matters, and her son too had every intention of being worthy of his hire, though wherein lay the value of the labor with which he thought to counterpoise that hire it were hard to say.




From Fraser's Magazine.

MELANCHTHON:

A CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF EDUCATION.

It has hitherto been common in England to view Melanchthon only as one of the coryphæi of the German Reformation, as the mere παραστάτης of Luther, as the principal theologian and the amiable controversialist of that great struggle. In the following remarks it is proposed to regard him as a distinguished humanist, as one of the chief promoters of the Renascence; to consider his claims to the proud title which he bears among his countrymen of "Præceptor Germaniæ;" and to make an estimate of the grounds of the high eulogium passed upon him by Hallam, when he says that the fanaticism of the followers of the leaders of the Reformation would have crushed the rising humanities in Europe, "if one man, Melanchthon, had not perceived the necessity of preserving human learning as a bulwark to theology itself against the wild waves of enthusiasm." This side of his character is, indeed, not overlooked by Cox in his excellent biography; but it admits of fuller exposition than was consistent with the plan and limits of that work; and since Cox's day several German works have appeared, in which Melanchthon's work as an educator and a humanist is specially considered, and his claim recognized to one of the highest places in the history of European culture.

He was born at Bretten in the year 1497, when Luther, a youth of fourteen, was begging his bread from door to door to support himself at school at Magdeburg; and when Erasmus, then in his thirty-second year, was enjoying himself with More and Wolsey and the best society of Oxford. He was instructed in Latin in his native town, but was soon removed to Pforzheim, where he began the study of Greek under George Simler, from whom he afterwards listened to lectures on civil law at Tübingen. Of Simler he retained to the last most pleasing recollections. He says: —

He compelled me to study grammar; he suffered me to omit nothing; as often as I blundered he punished me, yet with suitable moderation; and so he made me a grammarian. He was a most excellent man; he loved me like a son, I loved him like a father; and shortly, I trust, we shall meet in heaven. I loved him, although he practised severity towards me; it was in fact not severity but fatherly castigation. The discipline then was much stricter than now.

While attending Simler's school he boarded with a relative of his own who was the sister of Reuchlin, the celebrated restorer of Hebrew literature — "the first who rendered possible a correct exegesis of the Old Testament Scriptures," and consequently not the least of the Reformers before the Reformation. Reuchlin, while visiting his sister, was not slow to discern the budding ability of her youthful protégé: he encouraged him in his studies; converted his name, as was then the fashion, from Schwartzerd to Melanchthon; presented him with a Greek grammar — probably a copy of his own μικροπαιδεία — a Greek lexicon, a Bible, and, by way of stimulus it may be supposed, a doctor's red hat. His after-life proved what use he made of the grammar, lexicon, and Bible; but the doctor's red hat Melanchthon never wore. Whether in sport he ever donned that presented by Reuchlin we are not informed; but certain it is that Melanchthon, the famous theologian, the "Pen of the Reformation," was too modest ever to accept the doctor's degree. "Nobody," he writes, "could ever induce me to allow that honor to be decreed to me. Not that I esteem these degrees of small value: they imply great burdens and are necessary to the State; but I think they ought to be sought after and conferred with moderation. Let oth-