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Church of England Magazine.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
who conceived the liveliest hopes,
from the, quickness of conception, PETER MARTYR, born at Florence retentiveness of memory, ardour of on the Sth of September, 1500, application, modesty of deportment, was the son of Stephen Vermigli. and sweetness of temper, which he and Mary Fumantini, both of patri-. observed in his young pupil. cian descent in that republic. His As he advanced towards manpeculiar name was given him in hood, his virtuous feeling and conconsequence of a vow, made to scientious character were discovered Peter of Milan, said to have been by his resolution to withdraw from martyred in the early age of the the temptations abounding in a rich , church, for his opposition to the and luxurious capital, to the secluArian heresy, to whose, honour a sion of a convent: and as the order church was dedicated near their of canons regular of St. Augustine residence. As it had pleased God to was at that time in high repute deprive his parents of all their other among the Italians, he made his children, of whom there were many, election in its favour, entering, in in their infancy, except this son, and his sixteenth year, one of their cola daughter named Gemina Felicitas, leges, built on the ruins of the anit is probable they had a fond hope, cient city of Fesulæ, near Florence, that this sainted appellation would with the sincerest welcome of the conciliate the Divine favour on their fellows, to whom his genius and offspring, and that they watched disposition were not unknown. his rising years with proportional. Drawn by the affectionate force of interest and tenderness. Having his example, his sister entered, at ample resources, no expense was the same time, the nunnery on the spared to procure him the best foundation of St. Peter the Martyr. means of tuition which their neigh Stephen Vermigli did not approve bourhood afforded, while they were the step which his children had not wanting themselves in forward- taken, whether as desirous of pering his improvement by the most petuating his family, so respectable careful discipline. His mother in in Tuscan annals, or as feeling a particular, who was well skilled in disgust at the sanctimonious prethe writers of the Augustan age, tensions and superstitious observmade him construe to her the co- ances of the recluses, which had medies of Terence. He was after.. been exposed in the popular writings wards sent to study under Mar-' of Dante and Petrarch, as well cellus Vergil, a learned man, as in the sermons of Savonarola distinguished by a translation of which he may be presumed to Dioscorides, with a commentary, have attended. His dissatisfaction Noy. 1825.
was apparent in the testamentary doctorate. His first course of serdisposition of his property; the bulk mons was delivered in Brescia ; but of which he bequeathed to a lady he afterwards lectured at Rome, whom he married on the decease of Bologna, Firmio, Pisa, Venice, their mother, leaving the remainder Mantua, Bergamo, and Monferrat to a public charity, subject to the Nor did he confine himself to preachpayment of an annuity to his son ing, but taught philosophy and diof fifty golden pieces.
vinity, in the schools of his order He passed three years in this at Pavia, Ravenna, Bologna, and college, and applied diligently to Vercelli; in which latter city, at the his studies, taking advantage of a urgent request of Cusani, he comvaluable library presented by the mented on the poems of Homer. Medici, consisting not only of works Having a great desire to become from other parts of Italy, but from acquainted with the Old Testament Greece and the East. He was in the original, during his contiassiduous in reading the Scriptures ; nuance at Bologna, where he was for it was creditable to the society appointed Vicar to the Prior, he with which he had fraternized, that overcame by a liberal offer the prethey accustomed their associates and judice entertained, in common with junior members to commit to me those of his nation, by Isaac, a mory portions of the word of God. Jewish physician, against teaching At the termination of this period, it him, as a Christian, the Hebrew was judged expedient by his col- language. He was now raised, by leagues to send him to Pavia for the general consent of the brotherfurther information, in which was hood, to the abbacy of Spoleto, another convent of the order, called where he gained universal esteem, St. John of Verdara ; where he con- not only by reforming the vicious tinued about eight years under conduct which had brought scandal Father Albert, a respectable and on the Augustinians, but also by liberal abbot. He shewed his reconciling the contending factions natural strength of mind during his in that republic, a mediation vainly stay, by his determination to study undertaken by his predecessors. Aristotle in the Greek, because the After a session of three years he Latin translation in use gave the was preferred, in an assembly of the sense of the original very imper- principals of his order, to the gofectly, though he had no good pre- vernment of the Neapolitan college ceptors to lend him assistance. He of St. Peter, ad aram, a dignity was known frequently to spend the much esteemed for pleasantness of whole night in the library with Be- situation and amount of revenue. nedict Cusani, a native of Vercelli, Here his understanding became and an industrious fellow-student, more enlightened on divine topics. where they mutually read and in-, From the scholastic theology, and terpreted. He was now deemed a the study of the Fathers, he turned fit subject for the office of a preacher, more frequently to the Scriptures at that season chiefly sustained by and modern writers. He read Bu· the order of Dominicans; those of cer's commentaries on the Gospels
other fraternities giving only the and Annotations on the Psalms; Advent and Lent discourses, on the treatise of Zuinglius on true and which occasions there was generally false Religion, and the Providence a great concourse of hearers. This of God, together with some pronomination was considered honour. ductions of Erasmus; and held conable, as, by a special grant of the versations on religion with three popes to the society to which he intelligent friends, Cusani, Flamini,
belonged, their preachers were ad- and Valdez. The latter was a pious · mitted to all the privileges of the noble, who devoted his talents and influence to the glory of God, and that at a meeting held at Mantua he the benefit of his fellow-creatures. was elected Priorof St.Fridian of LucHe laid the foundation of a Re- ca. Some of the electors were inviformed Church at Naples, and was dious enough to hope that he would ably seconded by Martyr, who ear- prove obnoxious to his neighbours, nestly desired to impart to others from the political differences existing the knowledge he had himself re- between Lucca and Florence: but ceived; and for this purpose ex- his prudence, affability, and general pounded the First Epistle to the Co- excellence of character secured him rinthians, not only to the friars, but the good will of the inhabitants of to the chief clergy and laity. But the former commonwealth, while he when he came to that passage in pursued his plans of reform ; proch. iii. ver. 13, 14; “ Every man's vided adequate tutors, and daily work shall be made manifest : for expounded Scripture both to civithe day shall declare it, be- lians and collegians, preaching on cause it shall be revealed by fire; Sundays to the common people. and the fire shall try every man's The fruit of his ministry appeared work of what sort it is. If any afterwards in the readiness with man's work abide which he hath which many of his hearers subbuilt thereupon, he shall receive a mitted to exile from their country reward. If any man's work shall for the sake of evangelical truth. be burned, he shall suffer loss; but A party of opponents at length he himself shall be saved, yet so endeavoured to undermine his inas by fire"_which the Papists ex. influence, and endanger his person. plained of purgatorial flame, to the As they could not lower him in the great emolument of the priests, he estimation of the Luccese nobility. displeased many of his hearers by they brought secret accusations giving a different interpretation against him at the court of Rome, They consulted together, and forbad formed cabals in their respective attendance on his lectures ; but the colleges, and contrived to assemble expositor, feeling their injustice, at Genoa all who envied his auappealed to the pope, and, through thority or desired a relaxation of the interest of Cardinal Gonzaga his discipline. They then required and other acquaintance, obtained a his attendance; but, as he was not reversal of their interdict. He was without some knowledge of their however soon after hindered from intrigues, after advising with his inpreaching, by severe illness, while timates, he resolved to avoid an inhis trial was increased by the loss terview, and take precautionary of his friend Cusani. As it appeared measures. Committing some choice that the climate of Naples did not books to the care of a friend to be suit his constitution, he was ap- sent after him, he left the rest of pointed on his recovery General his library to the foundation ; and Visitor of the Order. There was having instructed his Vicar in matan integrity and consistency in his ters of internal economy, privately conduct, which forced even those quitted the city with three of his to admire him who were adverse to most attached associates. the strictness of his doctrine and He entertained thoughts of passdiscipline, as he reformed many ing into Germany, but, wishing to abuses, and with the approbation of pay a previous visit to his native Gonzaga, Protector of the Order, country, took the road for Pisa, deprived some principal characters where he was comforted by parof their dignities for an unworthy taking of the Lord's Supper with course of life, and sent them to some enlightened and godly indiviprison. Notwithstanding this seve- duals, and also wrote some letters rity, he was still so much esteemed to Reginald Pole, and other friends, at Lucca, which were to be de. the usage of these terins for a more livered a month after his departure, plain and simple formulary. As containing his reasons for that mea- soon as he was settled at Strasburg, sure; pointing out some grievous he addressed an affecting epistle to errors in the Romish persuasion, and the congregation of Lucca, in which, particularly in the monastic life, in after giving some account of his which he could no longer continue journey, and the kindness he had with a safe conscience; exposing experienced from Bucer, he apolothe snares laid for him by his ene- gized for his flight, declaring his mies; declaring his sincere endea- conviction, however they might obvours for the good of the order, ject, that he was justified from the but lamenting his deficiency as a necessity of the case. teacher; and sending back the ring He resided for some time in a which he had worn by virtue of his private dwelling with the friends office, as a sign of his intention to who accompanied him from Italy, subsist on his own scanty patrimony, and in such a frugal style that, and prefer no claim on the monas- though his income was narrow, he tery for his support. At Florence had a superfluity for the purposes he found Bernardin Ochino, 'who of benevolence or charity. But had been summoned to Rome for when he considered a state of celihis opinions. After consulting with bacy objectionable, he united himtheir mutual friends Ochino de- self in marriage to Catharine Dampparted for Geneva, and in the course martin, a religious and pleasing lady, of two days was followed by Martyr, who had come from Metz to reside who passed through Bologna, Fer- at Strasburg. Maimbourg has had rara, and Verona, into the Helvetic the audacity to assert, that « after territory. Arriving at Zurich he the example of Doctor Martin Luwas kindly welcomed by Bullinger, ther, he took for wife à nun whom Pellican, and Walter, with other he had seduced *.” This slander is supporters of reformed principles; well refuted by the author of the but no vacancy occurring in their Apology for the Reformers, the schools for a teacher, he passed on celebrated Jurieu t. to Basle, and, having stayed there Archbishop Cranmer requesting about a month, was invited by Bucer him to visit England, that he might to Strasburg. This excellent friend have the benefit of his counsel and negotiated with the Senate to allow erudition in the great work of ReMartyr a stipend as successor to formation, he obtained the consent Capito, in their university, where he of the Senate for his departure, at. daily interpreted Scripture, and tended by Ochino, who had receivturned the Hebrew into Latin, for ed a similar invitation. After a the benefit of the students. He hospitable entertainment by the entered on his labours in November metropolitan, he was, by command 1542, and continued them for five of King Edward VI. sent to Oxyears, enjoying the society of the ford, where he began a course of amiable Bucer, with whom he only divinity lectures, by expounding the differed on the subject of celebrating First Epistle to the Corinthians, the holy communion. Bucer, in the which embraced topics at that pefirst instance, persuaded him, that riod much disputed among theoloby using certain ambiguous. terms gians. Some of the popish party he might conciliate the more perti- attended his lectures, but a great nacious Lutherans ; but Martyr, number absented themselves, and finding on experiment that such persons were still dissatisfied, and * Hist. du Calvinisme, L. 3. ann.