Desiderius Erasmus

Manual of a Christian Knight

We get some sense of things which were moving deeply in Erasmus' life from his “Manual of a Christian Knight.” We find here a characteristic criticism of religious forms taking the place of religious substance. We find a tremendous emphasis upon the intelligence which in no way lessens the emphasis on vital piety. Prayer and knowledge are to work together in the life of the Christian knight. The inner is to give force and power to the outer. The outer is never to take the place of the inner. The warfare and the weapons and the true wisdom of the Christian are discussed. There is many a pithy judgment: “The way to worship the saints is to imitate their virtues.” You have the sense of a clear and highly trained mind applying itself to the interests of piety. It is the work of a Renaissance scholar. But it is the work of a man of the Renaissance whose whole attitude had become profoundly Christian. Serious-minded men in many countries felt their minds stirred and their lives deepened as they read it.
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William Tyndale
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