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(This is a continuation of an editing of Cotton Mather’s The Right Way to Shake off a Viper. The previous post on this may be found here.)

Commend me to the sweet spirited Melanchthon[1]. Osiander[2], a hot [angry, emotional] man, had preached against Vitus Theodorus.[3] Osiander made the pulpit the stage to on which he acted and vented his dissatisfaction to that servant of God. What shall I do? Says Vitus Theodorus. I know what passion would have done; come up make the pulpit a cock-pit [a place for roosters to fight[. No, says dear Melanchthon to him, I beg you for the love of God, & I charge you, that you do not answer Osiander again. Hold your peace; go on in your ministry. Make as if you heard nothing. Anon[shortly thereafter Osiander had fond that he not lsot himself among the People of God, and Vitus Theodorus was no loser by his conduct.

If it would not be too much a contradiction to the very design which I am upon; too much of an encouragement to passion, the very least ebullitions [a sudden outburst, display] whereof I would have to be discountenanced, I would say, You cannot more certainly revenge yourself upon your defamers, than by a resolution to take little notice of them. You cannot more gratify them than by bestowing much notice upon their spiteful folly, and being must discomposed at it.[4] Be sure, it is for the most part a point of prudence to let the tongue-squibs [those speaking sharp, sarcastic things] go out of themselves [go their own way].  Do you forget them, and the will soon be forgotten by all the world. Irritation will do no good. Chrysippus[5] being told that one privately reproached him, replied, Say nothing, else he would go on to do it publicly, too.

But I throw aside this consideration, and in the room of it [in place of it], I will bring in what brave old Marquis of Argyle[6] observed, Men would seem, says he, to be very jealous of their honor, when for words spoken in prejudice or diminution of it they commence suits or processes [start legal proceedings] against the speakers of them. But there is nothing so below a generous spirit, and which argues more weakness of mind, than that they cannot contemn words, that are vain and uttered in haste. I can set my approbation to this, that I never knew any man that got advantage by so doing. Thus, that noble person.

The truth is, Omnis injuria est in sensu patientis. The injury is in the sense of the suffering, that is, it is suffering only because you feel it to be so. Let the sun say, nothing, but only shine on when owls or snails complain of him.[7] I still advise, take little notice of impertinent stories. Be as a great man once among would often advise all wise men to be tattle-proof.[8]

Indeed conscience of the Ninth Commandment [Do not bear false witness], may oblige us to confute some sorts of slanders with vindications.[9] [Such instances are] When religion [Christianity, not a negative term] is like to suffer by our silence. Or, when many of our godly brethren are in danger of taking up a false character of us if we be silent.[10] Then ‘tis time to speak.

But for the most part, we shall enjoy most peace by holding our peace.


[1]

MELANCHTHON, PHILIP (1497–1560)

Scholar and theologian; associated with Martin Luther in the German reformation.

Born in Bretten, Baden, the son of George Scharzerd, Philip was given the Greek name “Melanchthon” (meaning “black earth”) by his great-uncle John Reuchlin, the famous Hebraist, when he showed signs of academic ability. He graduated at the age of fourteen (1511) and received an M.A. from Tübingen the following year. On Reuchlin’s recommendation he came to Wittenberg University as professor of Greek in 1518, took his B.D. in 1519, and published his Rhetoric and Dialectics the same year. He married Katherine Krapp in 1520, and the pair had four children.

G. Bromiley, “Melanchthon, Philip,” ed. J.D. Douglas and Philip W. Comfort, Who’s Who in Christian History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1992), 466.

[2]

Osiander, Andreas (1496/8–1552), Reformation theologian. Ordained priest in 1520, he joined the *Lutherans c. 1524 and took part in the *Marburg Colloquy of 1529 and the *Augsburg Diet of 1530. He collaborated with J. *Brenz and others in the Ansbach-Kulmbach-Nürnberg Church Order, adopted in 1533. In the same year he published his influential Kinderpredigten on the Catechism. He left Nürnberg in 1548 as a result of the *Augsburg Interim and soon afterwards became professor at Königsberg, where he published his De Justificatione (1550). A violent and bitter controversialist, he opposed M. *Luther’s doctrine of *justification by faith, maintaining that justification was not a mere imputation of Christ’s merits, but a substantial transference of His righteousness to the believer. His other writings include a revised edition of the *Vulgate and a ‘Harmony’ of the Gospels, the first of its kind. His niece, Margaret Osiander, became the wife of T. *Cranmer (1532).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1207.

[3] Veit Deitrich:

The most important human contact for Luther in the loneliness liness of the fortress was Veit Dietrich.6 Born in 1506 the son of a Nuremberg shoemaker, Dietrich had come to study in Wittenberg in 1522. Presumably lie was one of the students who lived in the Black Cloister after 1528 and had thus become more closely acquainted with Luther. As mentioned above, he had probably previously accompanied Luther to Marburg. In November 1529 he became a master. Dietrich (lid not actually function as Luther’s famulus (servant). Ile has been described as his “amanuensis” (in contemporary rary terms, something like Luther’s secretary), for not only did he perform important writing tasks and take care of Luther’s papers, but he also engaged in significant theological dialogues with him. Moreover, he functioned not least as an intermediary and contact person for those outside-for Katy and for Luther’s friends in Augsburg-informing them objectively about Luther’s health and, conversely, providing a way for them to bring matters to Luther’s attention.

Martin Brecht. Martin Luther 1521-1532: Shaping and Defining the Reformation (Kindle Locations 5937-5942). Kindle Edition.

[4] The desire of the slanderer is that you will be upset. If you show yourself to be upset, you give them the most pleasure.

[5]

Chrysippus (c. 405–79), ‘of Jerusalem’, ecclesiastical writer. A native of Cappadocia, he accompanied his two brothers, Cosmas and Gabriel, to Jerusalem c. 428 and became a monk at the laura of St *Euthymius. He was ordained priest c. 455 and later succeeded Cosmas as guardian of the Holy Cross at the Church of the *Holy Sepulchre (‘staurophylax’).

F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 344.

[6] “Archibald Campbell, 1st marquess and 8th earl of Argyll, in full Archibald Campbell, 1st marquess and 8th earl of Argyll, Lord Campbell, Lord Lorne, and Lord of Kintyre, (born 1607?—died May 27, 1661, Edinburgh, Scotland), leader of Scotland’s anti-Royalist party during the English Civil Wars between King Charles I and Parliament. He guided his country to a brief period of independence from political and religious domination by England.” britannica.com/biography/Archibald-Campbell-1st-Marquess-and-8th-Earl-of-Argyll

[7] Owls cannot bear the sun. Snails would die in the sunlight.

[8] Be impervious to, be armored against false stories and gossip.

[9] While we may often ignore slanders, there may be times where it is necessary to correct the falsehood.

[10] If many Christians will be the falsehood against us.