Savonarola -- By: Edward Ulback

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 096:382 (Apr 1939)
Article: Savonarola
Author: Edward Ulback


Edward Ulback

Those fields of truth which, since the Reformation, have been so perpetually travelled, that their various footpaths seem commonplace, presented themselves to Savonarola’s mind with the same distinctness with which they meet our own. A Dominican monk, in an age when the trumpets of the Reformation had not begun to sound, when the Scriptures were sealed, when the Church was not only everything, but that Church presided over by one of the most enormous criminals that ever lived, to remind men of the possibility of human nature debasing itself to the form of a satyr, Alexander VI; in this time, when even what might be regarded as excellent in the Church was yielding itself to the seductive influences of the newly discovered learning, the classical voluptuousness, of Renaissance,-in those years in his cloister and cell, surrounded by the strife of tongues, his life then in imminent danger, as it soon had to be crowned with the honors of the martyr,-he wrote The Triumph of the Cross.

This little volume might almost even now serve as a sort of hand-book, a vade-mecum, of Christian evidence and thought; there are few things with which the mind of the reader, enlightened by the study of the New Testament, will not find himself in accord. The Scriptures are the important rule of the Christian’s life, the Church is made to fall into an inferior place. Savonarola must be regarded from the point of view this book opens up as a Protestant, before Protestantism. He was indeed far ahead of multitudes who, either in our own or in other countries have borne the name of Protestant; and we feel certain that this volume must in some

minds increase the reverent affection with which the name of the illustrious martyr should always be mentioned.

It is perhaps true, that he was an enthusiast; clearly, he perceived and was prepared to stake his life upon something which was true to him; that truth, which he perceives to be in Christ and Christianity, he could not separate and cast out from the whole phenomena of life. As a reformer he meddled with the whole business of things around him; he insisted, not only on teaching ecclesisastics what were the foundation principles of Christian faith, but he would talk to artists, and at a time when painting and statuary were emulating pagan depravity in their colors and designs, he taught that art also was divine, and should be used for divine purposes. Such a course of preaching and feeling would naturally influence him in dealing with other departments of life; we know not where to find in the history of preaching another such a preacher. In Florence he did very effectually change the face, if not the heart, of Florentine soci...

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