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in addition to other offices, that of chancellor to two of the dukes of Saxony. When he chose to resign that station, he was appointed by the elector of Brandenburg his ecclesiastical counsellor, and chancellor of the university of Halle. He has been pronounced, “not only a great statesman, but one of the brightest ornaments of the republic of letters." He was also a man of the strictest uprightness and piety; and, having applied himself much to the study of divinity and ecclesiastical history, when he retired from public life in the year 1682, he was solicited by the duke of Saxony to write the history of the reformation, at least as far as related to that country. On his assenting to this proposal, the archives and the libraries of most of the German princes were opened to him, and learned men were ready to tender him their assistance. His great work is entitled, “ Commentarius Historicus et Apologeticus de Lutheranismo " &c. The particular form which it assumed was owing to the popular but fallacious “ History of Lutheranism,” then recently published in the French language by Maimbourg the Jesuit ; which Seckendorf translates into Latin, and then examines from section to section, detecting its errors and misrepresentations, and amply supplying its deficiences from the rich stores of original papers to which he had access. -This excellent work comprises the period of Luther's public life, from the year 1517 to 1546. The author would have carried it further had not age and infirmities forbidden the attempt. It is attended especially with the four following advantages : 1. It presents the papal as well as the protestant accounts, in the very words of a leading advocate of the party : 2. It details to us the sentiments and proceedings of the protestant princes and divines from the original documents,
in great part previously inaccessible to the public : 3. It furnishes us with a review of all Luther's successive writings, and with copious extracts from the most material of them : 4. It gives us Seckendorf's own excellent judgment upon every transaction. It consists of three books, all separately paged: and to the pages of the several books my references are accordingly made. The first book was published by itself in 1688; and afterwards the whole together, in folio, at Leipsic in 1692, and again in 1694. The two last, though actually distinct editions, appear to correspond page for page throughout. -The learned author died the very year that the first complete edition of his work appeared.-Bayle (himself an acute and learned sceptic,) says of it:
of it: “ Whoever is desirous of being thoroughly acquainted with the history of this great man, (Luther,) needs only to read the extensive work of Seckendorf. Of its kind, it is one of the best books that have ever appeared."
2. Next to Seckendorf, Sleidan is to be ranked. He was a contemporary historian, concerned in many of the transactions which he records. He was born at Sleidan, near Cologne, 1506, and died at Strasburg, 1556. He was
He was employed by the protestants on several important missions, one of which was into England in the year 1545. The work of his with which we are concerned is entitled, “ De statu Religionis et Reipublicæ, Carolo V. Cæsare, Commentarii,” extending from the year 1517 to 1556. It in fact forms a history of the author's own times.-Anxious attempts have been made on the part of the Roman Catholics to impeach the veracity of Sleidan ; in order to which one of them tells us that the emperor Charles V. always called for his book under the appellation of “ His Liar ;
” and it cannot indeed be supposed that the view given by Sleidan of that prince's measures and designs could be agreeable to him. Sleidan, however, still maintains his character as “ one of the most judicious and dispassionate of historians.” Indeed his work in great measure consists of abstracts of original documents, which he strings together into a continued narrative. Seckendorf says, “ Sleidan has left all the writers of his own age, who have treated of these subjects, far behind him:” and Thuanus (himself a Roman Catholic, but one of whom I should gladly have given some account in this preface, had he only furnished me with more occasion for doing it at the present period of my progress,) remarks, that, “ being by his own public employments well informed of the progress of affairs, Sleidan added, to what he had seen, what he learned from men worthy of credit, and thus wrote his commentaries-bringing down his history to the year of his death with an exact fidelity and diligence.” 2
I have principally referred to the pages of the English translation of Sleidan, with a continuation by Edmund Bohun, Esq. London, 1689, folio; because that volume happened to be at hand, and I found it to be the same which Dr. Robertson had used and commended. Where, however, I have made quotations, I have for the most part compared them with the best Latin edition, Francfort, 1785, 3 vols. 8vo.; and, in this and other instances, have not felt myself bound to adhere to the very words of the translator, as I should have done to those of an original author.
3. Abraham Scultetus is a valuable annalist belonging to the age immediately succeeding that of which he writes. He was a learned and pious divine of the “reformed” church, and professor
Opus hoc meum confectum est totum ex actis magnâ diligentiâ collectis," &c.-Sleid. in Præf. * Thuan, xvii.
of divinity at Heidelberg, the capital of the Palatinate of the Rhine. He visited England with the elector Palatine (who married the daughter of our James I,) in 1612; was subsequently a deputy to the Synod of Dort; and accompanied the elector, his master, in his unfortunate expedition to take possession of the crown of Bohemia. He wrote
Annales Evangelii seculo xvi renovati: but only two Decades of them, extending from the year 1516 to 1536, remain ; what he had subsequently written having perished in the partial sack of Prague, which followed the famous battle of that place in the year 1620. The work was first published at Heidelberg, 1618, in 8vo.: but I refer to its pages as it stands reprinted in Von der Hardt's Historia Literaria Reformationis,” folio, Francfort, 1717.–After the overthrow of the elector Palatine, Scultetus accepted the place of a preacher at Embden, and died there in 1625, at the age of seventy years.
4. The name of Fra Paolo Sarpi, or Father Paul, the historian of the council of Trent, is known to every one. He was born at Venice in the year 1552, made provincial of the order of Servites, to which he belonged, in 1579, and died in 1623. He has been called “ the greatest genius of the age” in which he lived. Considering him as to the last a member of the Roman Catholic church, the reader will be surprised at the extraordinary freeness of his sentiments. So little satisfaction did his history of the Council afford to the court of Rome, that Pallavicini was employed to write another, which might counteract it, and was rewarded with the cardinalate for his trouble. Yet even Du Pin (himself a Roman Catholic,) declares that the two histories “ agree well concerning the principal facts, and differ little but in things of no moment." F. Paul, he says, is chiefly to be cen
sured for the “malicious turn" which he gives to the “views and reasonings ” of the fathers of the council, and the “satirical strokes” which he has scattered throughout his work.--Bossuet, indeed, goes so far as to call him “a protestant and a Calvinist under a friar's frock ;” but Dr. Campbell observes on this, “ That he was no Calvinist is evident from several parts of his writings. I think it also fairly deducible from these, that there was no protestant sect then in existence, with whose doctrine his views would have entirely coincided.. ... The freedoms, indeed, which he used would have brought him early to feel the weight of the church's resentment, had he not been protected by the state of Venice, of which he was a most useful citizen.”] This protection, however, did not screen him from the repeated attempts of hired assassins, from one of which he suffered so severely that his life was despaired of.
F. Paul having written in Italian, I avail myself of Sir Nathaniel Brent's translation, London, 1676, folio-the same which Dr. Robertson and Dr. Milner appear also to have used.2
5. Another of my authors is Melchior Adam, a “ reformed” divine, who died in the year 1622. He compiled the lives of eminent divines, lawyers, statesmen, physicians, and philosophers, chiefly those of Germany. The best edition is that of Francfort, 1706, two vols. folio, divided into four separate series of pages, to which my references are made.
i Campbell on Eccl. Hist. Lect, 3.
2 From a correspondence between the parties, published by Dr. Lewis Atterbury, in 1705, it appears that Sir N. Brent was deputed by Abp. Abbot to receive from F. Paul, at Venice, the sheets of his History, as they were written, and to transmit them weekly to the archbishop. When they had all safely reached England, Brent came over, and translated and published the work, in 1619. The original Italian appeared the same year.