Vernigli (Lat Vermuliuis)
Vernigli (Lat. Vermuliuis)
ordinarily known as Peter Martyr from his baptismal names, was the most learned and celebrated of Italian' Protestants in the 16th century. He belonged to a patrician family of Florence, where he was born Sept. 8,1500. He entered the Augustine convent at Fiesole in 1516. His father had destined him for the service of the State, and disinherited him when he entered the monastery. In 1519 he went to Padua to complete his studies. He studied Greek without a teacher, made himself acquainted with the Aristotelian philosophy, and developed considerable dialectical ability. In theology he passed beyond the narrow limits of the scholastic curriculum, and read several of the Church fathers. When twenty-six years of age, he was sent out to preach in different towns of Italy. He also lectured on literature and philosophy in various convents: of his order. He read the New Test. in the original, and employed a Jewish physician at Bologna to teach him the Hebrew language. He became abbot of Spoleto and prior of St. Peter's ad Aram in Naples. Here he was introduced into the circle which Juan Valdes (q.v.) had gathered about him; and the evangelical influence of that association and of the eloquent Ochino (q.v.), whom he met in 1539, decided his future course. He attained to faith in the justification of man through Christ, and taught this and other doctrines of the Reformers in the school and the convent. In 1541 he was elected visitator of his order. His strictness in the performance of the duties of that office drew upon him the dislike of the monks, and led to his being transferred to Lucca as prior of San Frediano. He now invited a number of scholars who were inclined to accept the Gospel to aid in training the novices joined with them in the study of the writings of the Reformers in Germany and Switzerland, preached and taught in the same spirit-as did also his vicar and Don Constantine, the prior of Fregionara-and organized a congregation of evangelical Christians. At this juncture the Inquisition interfered; several of Martyr's friends were apprehended, and he fled to Switzerland, pausing at Pisa to write a letter of separation from the papacy, which he couched in the form of an exposition of the Apostles' Creed. After a brief delay he obtained the situation of professor of the Old-Test. Scriptures, and speedily obtained a high reputation as a teacher. He was learned, acute, clear, and precise in expression, mild and amiable in his manners; he possessed a pure and classical Latin style and a vivid eloquence. In theology he became a pronounced predestinarian; with respect to the sacraments, he adopted the prevailing (Swiss). view.
In 1547 Vermigli went to England with a view to assist Cranmer in establishing the Reformation. He was given a professorship at Oxford, and began his work with a course of lectures on 1 Corinthians, which he published in 1551. In this work he discussed controverted questions, like the right of priests to marry and the nature of the sacrament of the Lord's supper; on the latter question assuming a mystical union With the substance of Christ, effected by faith and involving no physical contact, and yet so complete that even the flesh, man's physical nature, is strengthened, and the whole man brought into fellowship with the Lord. In the advocacy of this view he carried on an extensive correspondence with Calvin, and engaged in repeated discussions with the other Oxford professors, particularly Richard Smith. In 1550 he lectured on the Epistle to the Romans, laying out his strength on the demonstration of the doctrine of predestination, particularly as against the objections of Albert Pighius. These lectures were published in 1558 at Basle, and afterwards repeatedly. The confession formulated by the Synod of London in 1552 stated the doctrines of original sin, election by grace, and justification, substantially in harmony with his presentation of them. Bucer having in the meantime been appointed to Cambridge, both he and Peter Martyr participated in the discussions of the time respecting the liturgy of the English Church. Vermigli lost his wife by death in 1553, and he was only restrained from returning to Strasburg after that event by being charged with a participation in the revision of the laws of the Church. On the accession of Mary to the throne, he escaped to the Continent with difficulty, and was restored to his former position at Strasburg, though the growing Lutheran narrowness obliged him to declare his readiness to receive the Augsburg Confession, rightly interpreted, and his determination to avoid controversy respecting the Lord's supper. In 1555 he wrote to the Church at Lucca to encourage it to firmness under the tyranny of the Inquisition, and to the Church in Poland an opinion respecting the conflicting teachings of Osiander and Stancarus (q.v.). The Lord's-supper controversy eventually compelled him to seek a new home in Zurich. He preached there occasionally in the Italian Church, and corresponded with the leaders of the Anglican Church on matters of worship and Church government. In 1559 he published against bishop Gardiner a large work entitled Dejensio Doctrince Veteris et Apostolicce de S. Eucharistice Sacramento; and also against Richard Smith a Defensio de Celibatu Sacerdotum et Votis Monasticis. In 1560 and 1561 he sent two circular letters, on the Trinity and the two natures in Christ, to Poland. He defended predestination against Bibliander at Zurich; wrote a Dialogus de Utraque Christi Natura against Brentius and the doctrine of Christ's ubiquity in the body; and was successful in each essay. In 1561 he received, for the second time, an invitation to Heidelberg, which he declined; but he attended the Colloquy of Poissy, and spoke in defense of the evangelical doctrines and attitude. After his return to Zurich he gave an opinion sustaining Zanchi (q. .) at Strasburg, in a dispute on predestination and the Lord's supper, which has been justly regarded as the confession of Zurich respecting these docrines. He was engaged on a new refutation of Brentius when he died, Nov. 12, 1562. After his death his friends published his commentaries on Samuel, Kings, part of Genesis, and Lamentations, and on Aristotle's Ethics; also a collection of prayers taken from the book of Psalms. In 1575 Robert Massov, French preacher in London, collected four books of Loci
Communes from Vermigli's published works, i.e. passages having a bearing upon dogmatics, ethics, and polemics (Lond. fol.). In a revised and enlarged form, this work became one of the most important sources for the Reformed theology of the 16th century. See Simler, Oratio de Vita et Obitu D. Petri Martyris (Zurich, 1562, 4tp); Schlpsser, Leben des Theodor Beza u. P. M. Vermigli (Heidelberg, 1807); Leben d. Vdter u. Begriainder d. reformirten Kirche (Elberfeld, 1858), vol. 7; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.