This book contains a compendious treatise of the soldier of Christ called Enchiridion, which Erasmus of Rotterdam wrote unto a certain courtier, a friend of his. Due to the age and scarcity of the original we reproduced, some pages may be spotty, faded or difficult to read. Written in Old English text.
Hardcover, 158 pages
August 1st 2011
by Literary Licensing, LLC
(first published December 12th 1983)
Erasmus (Desiderius Erasmus Roterdamus) was a Dutch Renaissance humanist who is famous for publishing an edition of the Greek New Testament and for his work Praise of Folly. An enigmatic figure of the Reformation period, he was considered a hero by some and an enemy by others. He was faithful to the Roman Catholic Church (he was a priest and a friend of the martyr St. Thomas More) and yet he believed that some of her ideas and practices had strayed from the purity of New Testament Christianity.Erasmus (Desiderius Erasmus Roterdamus) was a Dutch Renaissance humanist who is famous for publishing an edition of the Greek New Testament and for his work Praise of Folly. An enigmatic figure of the Reformation period, he was considered a hero by some and an enemy by others. He was faithful to the Roman Catholic Church (he was a priest and a friend of the martyr St. Thomas More) and yet he believed that some of her ideas and practices had strayed from the purity of New Testament Christianity. It was famously said of him that he “laid the egg which Luther hatched.”
Erasmus composed the Enchiridion militis Christiani or Handbook of the Militant Christian at the request of a pious woman who was unhappy with the behaviour of her husband, a likeable but boorish soldier who in her opinion needed to mend his ways. In 1501, Erasmus interrupted the work he was doing and obliged her; the work was published two years later.
"Enchiridion" is a late Latin word of Greek origin which means “handbook” or “manual” (literally “that which is held in the hand”). Accordingly, the work is a guidebook to living a good Christian life. As it was directed first of all at a soldier, the idea of the Christian life as a constant battle against the forces of evil permeates the book. Erasmus puts forward certain thought patterns and practices which are to be employed as armour or defensive weapons, always kept very close, in this spiritual warfare. Appropriately, “enchiridion” can also mean “a handy sword or dagger.”
Foremost among these weapons are prayer and knowledge. Knowledge includes both a diligent reading of the Scriptures and a “sensible” reading of pagan (i.e. Greco-Roman) authors. It also includes knowledge of self and the ability to discern between true and false wisdom.
Erasmus offers a set of twenty-one rules for living the Christian life. These focus on Christ, the Cross and the Scriptures, dealing with temptation, resisting sin, considering the rewards and consequences of choosing sides in the spiritual battle, and being prepared for all circumstances. He also proposes remedies for certain important vices.
In his analysis of the different parts and passions of the human being, the primacy of reason over appetite, and the invisible over the visible, Erasmus displays the influence of Neoplatonism, most likely absorbed through the reading of Augustine and other early Church Fathers.
There is also a certain medieval flavour to this, particularly in such things as his advice to be prepared for death which could come at any moment.
However he is keenly aware of the issues of his time. While he is careful to show his adherence to Catholicism, he criticizes certain schools of thought such as Scholasticism. Monasticism he distrusts, not because it is bad in itself, but because he believes that many of its adherents rely on this way of life as a guarantee of salvation and look down on those “in the world” as being inferior. Veneration of saints is permissible if it is done in the right spirit in a Christ-centred way, but it can be wrong if it is done for selfish reasons.
The long introductory essay provides some good context and points out that Erasmus is an unsung hero of the Renaissance. Although he gained a great number of influential admirers, strangely, they had limited success in spreading his ideas. He was misunderstood by his contemporaries and by later thinkers (Catholic and Protestant alike) up until the twentieth century. His writing, though stamped by the time in which it was written, is modern in its emphasis on spiritual warfare and an intense, personal relationship with Christ. ...more
Desiderius Erasmus (also known as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus) was doubtless born out of wedlock, well cared for by his parents till their early death, and then given the best education open to a young man of his day in a series of monastic or semi-monastic schools. All this early education is made by him in the light of later experience to appear like one long conspiracy to force him into theDesiderius Erasmus (also known as Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus) was doubtless born out of wedlock, well cared for by his parents till their early death, and then given the best education open to a young man of his day in a series of monastic or semi-monastic schools. All this early education is made by him in the light of later experience to appear like one long conspiracy to force him into the monastic life, but there is no other evidence for this, and recent criticism, has suggested ample motives for his desire to give his life-history this peculiar turn. He was admitted to the priest-hood and took the monastic vows at about the age of twenty-five, but there is no record that he ever exercised the priestly functions, and monasticism was one of the chief objects of his attack in his lifelong assault upon the evils of the Church.
Almost immediately after his consecration the way was opened to him for study at the University of Paris, then the chief seat of the later scholastic learning, but already beginning to feel the influence of the revived classic culture of Italy. From this time on Erasmus led the life of an independent scholar, independent of country, of academic ties, of religious allegiance, of everything that could interfere with the free development of his intellect and the freedom of his literary expression.
Erasmus's literary productivity began comparatively late in his life. It was not until he had made himself master of a telling Latin style that he undertook to express himself on all current subjects of literature and religion. His revolt against the forms of Church life did not proceed from any questionings as to the truth of the traditional doctrine, nor from any hostility to the organization of the Church itself. Rather, he felt called upon to use his learning in a purification of the doctrine and in a liberalizing of the institutions of Christianity. ...more