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Erasmus Quotes

Quotes by and about Erasmus

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

Erasmus: "I am innately disposed to prefer giving to receiving."

Erasmus: "I have always had an inner temperamental horror of fighting."

Erasmus: "Luther expounds his case in all its aspects with great ingenuity and fervor of spirit."

Erasmus: "[Luther is] so uncontrollably attached to [his] own opinion that [he] cannot bear anything which dissents from it. ... [He is like a combatant] who, in the heat of a quarrel, [turns] whatever is at hand into a missile, whether it be a jug or a dish. I ask you, what sort of sincere judgment can there be when people behave in this way? Who will learn anything fruitful from this sort of discussion beyond the fact that each leaves the encounter bespattered with the other's filth?"

Erasmus: "Luther permits himself to call in question the decrees, not only of all the doctors of the Church, but of all the schools, councils, and popes; and ... he acknowledges this plainly and openly."

Erasmus: "I would willingly persuade the man in the street that in this kind of discussion it is better not to enforce contentions which may the sooner harm Christian concord than advance true religion."

Erasmus: "It is lawful to speak the truth; it is not expedient to speak the truth to everybody at every time and in every way. If I were convinced that at a certain council some wrong decision or definition had been made, I should have the right to proclaim the truth, but it would not be expedient, lest wicked men be given a handle to scorn the authority of the Fathers, even in those decisions which they have taken in a godly and devout spirit. I would rather say that they took a decision that seemed reasonable from the point of view of their own times which present needs suggest should be repealed."

Erasmus: "Life without a friend I think no life but rather death; or, at least, a friendless life, if life it may be called, is first of all unappy and, secondly fit for beasts and not men. And I am, if I may sing my own praises, so constituted that I think nothing in this life to be preferable to friendship; nothing that should be sought for more eagerly or preserved with greater care."

Erasmus: "Whenever I have looked at you carefully, dearest Franciscus, your expression has for some time seemed a little gloomy. This is an omen of some bad thing; for generally the heart's inward pain is wont to break out upon the countenance and the condition of the mind to be reflected in the face as in a mirror. Thus I understand clearly that there must be something that pains and racks you though I am not clear as to the cause. Believe me, dear Franciscus, your pain does indeed bring pain to me too, and there can be no room for rejoicing on my part when I see you fordone with sadness. So I beg you earnestly to tell me what your trouble is. If I can be of any service, I shall help you with deeds or at least with counsel."