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Do. MARCO ANTONIO DE DOMINIS,
DISCESSUS SUI AD ROMAM DISSUASORIA.
TO THE MOST REVEREND
MARK ANTHONY DE DOMINIS,
DISSUASIVE OF HIS DEPARTURE FOR ROME.
NOW FIRST TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH,
REV. PETER HALL, M. A.
Mark Anthony de Dominis, Archbishop of Spalato, in Dalmatia, was born at Arba, in the Gulf of Quarnero, about the year 1561. He wrote a variety of treatises on philosophical and theological matters, both in the Italian and Latin languages, including several that relate to the subject of the ensuing letter; among the rest, "De Pace Religionis, Epistola ad Josephum Hallum, Archipresb. Vigorn." On his departure from England, the Archbishop was kindly entertained at Rome by Pope Gregory XV.; at whose decease, however, he was thrown into prison, and died soon after, not without suspicion of poison. Some days afterward, his body was disinterred, and, with his work "De Respublicâ Ecclesiasticâ," burnt, by sentence of the Inquisition.-H.
NOLI gravatè ferre, Reverendissime Præsul, candidam hanc, et animi et calami, devotissimi tibi utriusque, libertatem. Sanè expressit mihi, vel renitenti, verba hæc priùs sincerus quidam et religionis zelus, et tui.
Fama est, te discessum à nobis meditari; neque tam loco cedere velle, quàm fide.
Strenuâ profectò suspicione non caret hoc ipsum proficisci. Neque enim cujusquam subire mentem potest, hominem senem velle animi causâ peregrinari. Deferbuit, proculdubio, jamdiu juvenilis ille ardor relictas pridem oras curiosè revisendi: nec ita crassi sumus insulares, ut credere possimus cœlum te mutare velle, nisi animum priùs quadamtenus mutare decrevisses; multò verò minùs Septem illos, invisos Cœlo, totiésque tuo fulmine ictos, Colles repetere.
Novimus et nos sat benè ingenium Romæ. Ecquem latere potest, nedum hominem cordatum, quàm infida sit illa statio superbæ Hierarchiæ expugnatori? Moneat te olim vester Fulgentius, quàm nihil ita tutum sit Pontificiæ Majestatis tantillo violatori; etiam post fidem, si qua famæ fides, sanctè datam, post promissa munera, post benignissimæ invitationis blanditias. Viderit tua prudentia, ut te vel propudiosissima palinodia, tactæque, quas dejerasti priùs, aræ liberaverint.
O tuam, si, quem modò profiteris, sanus et orthodoxus Romam remeare audeas, miram animi confidentiam, piámque martyrii sitim, dignam stupore nostro, dignam immortalitate! Quin nobis istic liceret, et hanc tibi gloriam invidere, et gratulari fœlicitatem; sed quàm te parùm provehat ambitio, est quod non immeritò timeamus.
TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF SPALATO.
BE not displeased, most Reverend Prelate, with the honest liberty assumed both by my mind and by my pen, which are both devoted to your service. The truth is, an unaffected zeal for religion, as well as for yourself, has extorted from me expressions which I was otherwise reluctant to utter.
There is a report abroad, that you think of leaving us; and that it is not so much from your situation, as from your faith, that you wish to retire.
Certainly, the very circumstance of your journey affords no slender ground of suspicion. No one can suppose that a person of your age would choose to travel, merely for recreation. The desire of exploring once more, with labour and research, the countries which you left in youth, has doubtless ceased long since to glow within your bosom: nor are we islanders so simple as to imagine, that you would wish to change your climate, unless you had first seen fit, in some degree, to change your mind; much less to pay another visit to the City of the Seven Hills, abhorred of heaven, and struck so often by your lightning.
We likewise know too well the disposition of Rome. Who is there that knows not, particularly if he be a man of observation, how dangerous a place it is for one, who attacks her haughty Hierarchy, to dwell in? Let the example of your countryman Fulgentius remind you, how little safety is to be expected there for one who has impugned, to the smallest extent, the dignity of the Pope; and that too, after a solemn pledge of honour, (if honour may be identified with report,) after a promise of gifts, after the persuasives of a most friendly invitation. Let your prudence take due notice, that a recantation, however shameful, and a return to the altars which you once abjured, must constitute your only hope of escape.
O, should you dare revisit Rome, the sound and orthodox divine you still profess yourself, most wonderful must be your confidence of mind, most pious your thirst of martyrdom; worthy indeed of our astonishment, worthy of immortality! Well might we envy you your honour, and wish you joy of your happiness; but that we cannot help fearing your ambition may tend but moderately to your advantage.
Quid, ergo? Ægrè profectò monuerim, opus esse novas profectionis tuæ rationes exponat Reverentia vestra. Quas verò tandem illas? Si ex fassis liceat, uti plebeis semper licuit, conjectari, sanctum quoddam uniendæ Ecclesiæ studium te Romam, discordiæ hujusce sacerrimam sedem, propellit; machinaturum demum aliquid, quo funestissimæ Christiani Orbis lites aliquando sopiantur: ad quod quidem opus instructiorem te aliis omnibus produxisse visus est ille Pacis Author.
Animus certè quàm non desit, memini te alicubi palam profiteri. Alicubi inquis; "A primis clericatûs mei annis, in me innatum penè desiderium videndæ unionis omnium Christi Ecclesiarum. Separationem Occidentis ab Oriente, in rebus fidei, Austri ab Aquilone, æquo animo ferre nunquam poteram. Cupiebam anxie tot tantorúmque schismatum causam agnoscere ac perspicere; num possit aliqua excogitari via, omnes Christi Ecclesias ad veram antiquam unionem componendi. Idque videndi ardebam desiderio; dolore interno animi, ex tot dissidiis inter Christianæ Religionis professores, ex odiis acerrimis inter nobilissimas Ecclesias inflammatis, ex tunicâ Christi fœdè scissâ et laceratâ, concepto, excruciabar. Qui me dolor et nimia tristitia mirum in modum conficiebat, (et indies magis conficit!) indeque ad fervens studium invitabat."
Dignam sanè piissimo Præsule, lapsóque è cœlis, pacis piλoTiuíav! Quis non hunc unà et animi candorem et ardorem zeli pronus exosculetur? Pereat certè, quisquis est; pereat pessumè, qui discerptissimæ Ecclesiæ redintegrationem suo ipsius sanguine redemptam iri noluerit!
Sed parce, si me audis, colendissime Præsul, parce huic labori. Novimus nos istic, quid possint humanæ vires. Votis nos unà tecum, si lubet, usque contendemus, ut, Dei beneficio, beet aliquando Christianam Rempublicam pax alma; respiciénsque ab alto, dissipet tandem omnes errorum inimicitiarúmque procellas, quibus hodierno die miserrimè conflictamur.
Sed mortalium quisquis se hoc effectum dare posse sperat, nimiò quàm frustrà est! Aut enim exuat se prorsùs oportet
What, then? Unwillingly should I venture to suggest, that your Reverence must needs assign new reasons for your excursion. Yet what may one presume them to be? If it be lawful, as it ever has been lawful for common men, to deduce conjectures from acknowledgments, it is some righteous scheme for effecting the unity of the Church that carries you to Rome, the detestable seat of the very discord you deplore; where, however, you meditate a plan for composing at length the deadly strifes of Christendom: a work for which the Author of Peace appears to have provided you with more ample qualifications than any other.
That you lack not the inclination to attempt this object, I remember that you somewhere openly profess. "From the first years of my ministry," you observe, "I felt a desire, that seemed almost to have been naturally engendered, of beholding an union of all the Churches of Christ. I never could patiently endure a separation of East from West, and of North from South, in matters of faith. I anxiously desired to investigate and comprehend the cause of so many and so great divisions; whether any way could be devised, for settling all the Churches of Christ on the true and ancient principles of union. And while I burnt with a desire to witness this result, I was tormented inwardly with the sorrow which I had at heart, while contemplating so great a multitude of dissentions among professors of the Christian religion, animosities so fiercely blazing between the noblest Churches, the robe of Christ so miserably cut and torn. And this my grief, and this the abundance of my sorrow, began at that time, and now continues daily, to prey upon me in a remarkable manner, and to urge me on to fervent anxiety for the accomplishment of my desires."
An ambition for peace, well worthy of a Bishop, the most pious of his order, sent down from heaven! Who would not stoop to kiss such openness of mind, united with such earnestness of zeal? Evil betide him, whosoever he may be; evil betide him to the uttermost, who would not hail the restoration of a rent and wounded Church, though purchased at the cost of his own blood!
Yet spare yourself, if you have any regard, most honoured Prelate, for my advice, spare yourself this trouble. We have learnt, on this point, what the strength of man can accomplish. We will strive with you, if you like, in prayers, that, through the kindness of God, sweet peace may one day bless the Commonwealth of Christ; and looking down from above, may scatter at length the storms of error and hostility, by which we are so sadly dashed about at the present day.
But whoever be the man on earth, that hopes to give effect to this desire, how is his labour lost! For either the Roman Church must utterly renounce herself, (and who is he that ima