Ales, Alexander

, a celebrated divine of the confession of Augsbourg, was born at Edinburgh, April 23, 1500. He soon made a considerable progress in schooldivinity, and entered the lists very early against Luther; this being then the great controversy in fashion, and the grand field in which all authors, young and old, were accustomed to display their abilities. Soon after he had a share in the dispute which Patrick Hamilton maintained against the ecclesiastics, in favour of the new faith he had imbibed at Marpurgh: he endeavoured to bring him back to the catholic religion; but this he could not effect, and even began himself to doubt about his own religion, being much affected by the discourse of this gentleman, and more still by the constancy he shewed at the stake, where David Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrew’s, caused him to be burnt. The doubts of Ales would perhaps have been carried no further, if he had been left unmolested to enjoy his canonry in the metropolitan church of St. Andrew’s; but he was persecuted with so much violence by the provost of St. Andrew’s, whose intrigues he preached against that he was obliged to retire into Germany, where he became at length a perfect convert to the Protestant religion, and persevered therein till his death. In the different parties which were formed, he sometimes joined with those that were least orthodox; for, in 1560, he maintained the doctrine of George Major, concerning the necessity of good works. The change of religion, which happened in England after the marriage of Henry VI IL with Anna Boleyn, induced Ales to go to London, in U35, where he was highly esteemed by Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, Latimer, and Thomas Cromwel, who were at that time in favour with the king. Upon the fall of these favourites, he was obliged to return to Germany, where the elector of Brandenburg appointed him professor of divinity at Francfort upon the Oder, in 1540. Two years afterwards he had a dispute there, upon the question | Whether the magistrate can and ought to punish fornication” and he maintained the affirmative with Melancthon. He was greatly offended at their not deciding this dispute, and perhaps his discontent was the reason of his quitting Francfort precipitately; and it is certain that the court of Brandenburgh complained of him, and wrote to the university of Wittemberg to have him punished. He retired, however, to Leipsic; and while he was there, he refused a professor’s chair, which Albert duke of Prussia intended to erect at Koningsberg, and which was erected the year following. Soon after, he was chosen professor of divinity at Leipsic, and enjoyed it till his death, which happened on the 17th of March 1565. The following are the titles of his principal works: 1. “De necessitate et merito Bonorum Operum, disputatio proposita, in celebri academia Lipsica ad 29 Nov. 1560.” 2. “Commentarii in evangelium Joannis, et in utramque epistolam ad Timotheum.” 3. “Expositio in Psalmos Davidis.” 4. “De Justificatione, contra Osiandrum.” 5. “De Sancta Trinitate, cum confutatione erroris Valentini.” 6. “Responsio ad triginta et duos articulos theologorum Lovaniensium.

While at Leipsic, he was employed to translate the first liturgy of Edward VI. into Latin, for Bucer’s use, who did not understand English. He appears to have been highly esteemed for probity and learning. Henry VIII. familiarly called him “his scholar,” and Cranmersaid he was “virum in theologia perductum.” Melancthon and Ales were inseparable companions, and Beza pronounced him one of the greatest ornaments of his country. He wrote with most spirit on the doctrine of the Trinity, against Valentine Gentilis; and on the divinity of Jesus Christ against Servetus. 1


Mackenzie’s Scotch writers, vol. II. a very prolix life. Bale. Tanner. Gen. Dict. —Strype’s Cranmer, p. 204, 402. —Strype’s Memorials, vol. II. p. 69.