Thursday, January 15, 2009


This biography of James Arminius was written in Latin by Caspar Brandt, published by Gerard Brandt in 1724, and translated to English by John Guthrie in 1854.


Brandt has appended to his memoir the two Latin poems by Baud and Grotius, on the death of Arminius, to which he refers, p. 300. Baud's poem is very long, occupying twenty pages of the original, and containing some 600 lines. It is, moreover, in its tone, somewhat equivocal and temporising; and elicited, in consequence, a complaint from the true and magnanimous Uitenbogaert, to which Baud replies in a strain of profoundest respect, both for him and the deceased Arminius, — declaring that of all his old friends they were the two that stood highest in his esteem, and that he had advanced nothing in his poem which could sustain a single sinister inference in regard to Arminius. The truth is, Dominic Baud, like Daniel Heinsius, though conscious of the sincerest friendship and respect for Arminius gave way, after his death, to that violent pressure of the times to which Arminius himself had 'fallen a blessed martyr.' Baud's poem contains many bold and masterly passages, that abound in vigorous thought and lofty imagery. We had translated the larger half of it into English verse, with a view to its insertion in this appendix; but, on second thoughts, we have concluded to let that pass as labour lost. Its great length, to mention no other consideration, would make it out of all proportion.

The poem of Grotius, on the other hand, is of sufficiently moderate limits to make its insertion here consistent with the scope and symmetry of the volume; while the transcendent lustre of his name, and his well-known attachment to the Arminian cause, lend a peculiar interest and charm to his verses on Arminius. For the sake of those, accordingly, for whom this little work is specially intended, we have in this instance, also, — though profoundly sensible of the difficulty and delicacy of the task, — done our best to present the lines of Grotius in faithful English, in the following metrical version.—TR.:—


Deep searcher in the mine of truth profound;
Spirit sublime, with various learning stored;
For keen-edged perspicacious wit renowned;
Arminius, thee we mourn:— O loss deplored!

From this dark world, and from the turbid throng
Of dim-eyed mortals, thou hast winged thy flight:
And rangest now, with vision pure and strong,
The sunny fields of beatific light.

Whether for truth thou gaind'st some trophies fair,
Spurning the yoke on tamer necks that pressed;
Or erred in aught, as man may err, declare
Ye who have right to judge, and skill to test.

Yet well we know what hours by thee were spent
O'er God's own book, enslaved to no man's creed.
And now, of conscience pure, and high intent,
Thou bear'st, by heaven's award, the glorious meed.

There, filled with peace and joy, 'tis thine to know
What here thy thoughts explored with toil and pain;
Thou seest what shades enwrap all minds below;
What wears the name of knowledge here, how vain.

Yet, proud thereof, aloft we raise our head,
And spurn our fellows, who return the same.
Hence wars polemic, furious, rise and spread;
Hence hate plebeian stirs and feeds the flame.

And sacred Truth, of sacred Peace the friend,
Deigns not her presence there, but flies afar:
Ah, why does lust of strife men's bosom rend?
And will the God of peace be pleased with war?

Whence such untempered zeal, such parties new?
Hath Satan sowed these tares 'neath mask of night?
Must men's dire passions feed on aught they view,
And God's own cause afford them scope to fight?

Or does this prying world, that dares to tread
Where even to angels all access is barred,
And snatch forbidden knowledge, serpent-led,
Reap in these sad debates its due reward?

As when at Shinar, in that structure proud,
Men thought to pile a stepway to the sky;
Their thousand tongues dispersed the impious crowd,
And all their schemes in babbling strife did die.

Ah ! know we what we do? The little flock
Elected from the world, in Jesus' fold,
Each other rend, in foul and frequent shock,
While Moslems smile, and Jews with joy behold!

Happy the simple, pure, and artless faith,
From faction free, and meretricious dress;
Which sees sin put away by Jesus' death,
And trusts in his atoning righteousness:

Which sees salvation free, — all gifts above;
And doom ordained for those who doom deserve:
Which plies the gentle part of holy love,
Nor seeks to soar, so much as lowly serve.

Nor asks too far if adamantine laws
Fix all events; — How God, all sinless still,
Wills sin? — How not? — How far the Great First Cause
Bends by his sovereign nod the human will?

And happy he whom no ambitious ends,
Nor gain, nor empty plaudits turn aside;
But, fired with heavenly zeal, still heavenward tends,
And studies God where God himself doth guide.

Threading with cautious steps life's 'wildered maze,
Through fatal snares his course he daily winds;
While Freedom, tempered with Love's gentle rays,
Secures his concord with dissentient minds.

True piety and justice he maintains, —
Condemned by men, himself condemning none;
Now speaks for Truth, and now for Peace refrains,
Still watchful each presumptuous path to shun.

Oft didst thou urge these truths, Arminius dear —
In public oft, as thousands can declare;
In private, too, — yea, when thine end drew near,
Thy parting breath still urged these counsels fair.

With life's protracted ills out-worn and spent,
Tired of a world of pertinacious strife,
Though crushed thy meaner part like shattered tent,
Thy nobler part, unscathed, aspired to life.

Full spread, it longed to gain those kingdoms bright
To which to thousands thou did'st point the way;
And now arrived, another star of light,
It gems the temple of eternal day.

There dost thou pray, that to his flock below
God would such light, as here they need impart;
And curb their restless wish aught more to know;
And send them teachers after his own heart:—

Would all men's hearts (if not all tongues) unite;
And Strife dispel, before Love's ardours driven;
That Christ's whole Church, at one, may, in his light,
Approve their life to earth, their faith to heaven.

Subtle in intellect, and great in speech,
But careful most his life to regulate,
Arminius, dead, thus speaks, thus all would teach,
(Of life approved, and matchless in debate):—
'I, as in life, in death this counsel give —