Baius, Michael

, was born at Melun, in the territory of Ath, in 1513. The emperor Charles V. made choice of him to be professor of divinity in the university of Louvain. He was afterwards chancellor of that body, guardian of its privileges, and inquisitor-general. The university, in concert with the king of Spain, elected him deputy to the council of Trent, whiere he acquired reputation. He had already published several small pieces, but was destined to be involved in controversy. Like the other followers of Augustin, he had an invincible aversion to that contentious, subtle, and intricate manner of teaching theology, that had long prevailed in the schools; and, under the auspicious name of that famous prelate, who was | his darling guide, he had the courage to condemn, in an open and public manner, the tenets commonly received in the church of Rome, with respect to the natural powers of man, and the merit of good works.

This bold step drew upon Baius the indignation of some of his academical colleagues, and the heavy censures of several Franciscan monks. Whether the Jesuits immediately joined in this opposition, and may be reckoned among the first accusers of Baius, is a matter unknown, or at most, uncertain, but it is evident that, even at the rise of this controversy, they abhorred the principal tenets of Baius, which he had taken from Augustm, and adopted as his own. In 1567, he was accused at the court of Rome, and seventy-six propositions drawn from his writings, were condemned by pope Pius V. in a circular letter expressly composed for that purpose. The principal doctrines maintained in these propositions were, that unregenerate men have no ability to perform what is spiritually good, and that no man’s best works are meritorious of eternal life. The pope’s condemnation, however, was issued out in an artful and insidious manner, without any mention being made of the name of the author for the fatal consequences that had arisen from the rash and inconsiderate measures employed by the court of Rome against Luther, were too fresh in the remembrance of the prudent pontiff to permit his falling into new blunders of the same nature. The person and functions of Baius, therefore, were spared, while his tenets were censured. About thirteen years after this transaction, instigated by Tolet, the Jesuit doctor, Gregory XIII. confirmed the sentence, and again condemned the propositions. Dreading further severity, or more probably because his condemnation was vague and ambiguous, Baius submitted but others exclaimed against the papal decisions, as manifestly unjust. Baius’s doctrine was propagated with no inconsiderable zeal, in the flourishing universities of Douay and Louvaine. When the Jesuits Lessius and Hamelius attempted to preach a scheme of predestination, different from that of Augustin, the doctors of these universities condemned their opinions in 1587 and 1588. The bishops of the Low Countries prepared to do the same, but pope Sixtus V. suspended their proceedings, and by imposing silence on both parties, hushed the controversy. Even at this day, many“divin of the Romish communion, and particularly the Jansenists | declare openly that Baius was unjustly treated, and that the two edicts of Pius and Gregory are absolutely destitute of all authority. He died the 16th of September 1589, at the age of 76. We have his controversial tracts against Maniix, 1579 and 1582, 2 vols. 8vo. His entire works were collected in 1696, in 4to, at Cologn, and the following year were prohibited by the pope. His style is greatly superior to that of the divines of his time, being simple and close. Baius had studied the fathers with such care, that it is affirmed he read St. Augustin over nine times a proof of his patience, if not of his judgment. Baius by his will founded a college for education. His nephew, James Baius, likewise doctor of Louvain, and who died in 1614, left behind him a tract on the Eucharist, printed at that city in 1605, 8 vo, and a catechism in folio, Cologn, 1620. The opinions of Michael Baius did not die with him. Cornelius Jansenius revived a great number of them in his book, entitled” Augustinus." 1


Gen. Dict. Dupin.- Moshira, >—Moreri. Foppeo Bibl, Belj.