15 MAY 1936, Page 22

SI R,—

" I came not to send peace on earth but a sword."

If you will accept Erasmus as a competent exegete then here is what Erasmus wrote :

" And now when the summe of all that Christ taught prest onely Meekness, Suffering and Contempt of life, who does not clearly perceive what He means in this place ? To wit, that He might the more disarm His ministers, that neglecting not onely Shoos and Scrip but throwing away their very coat, they might, being in a manner naked, the more readily and with less hindrance take in hand the work of the Gospel, and provide themselves of nothing but a sword : not such as Thieves and Murtherers go up and down with, but the Sword of the Spirit, that piereeth the most innard parts, and so cute off as it were at one blow all earthly affections, that they mind nothing but their duty to Gc:d. But see, I pray, whither this famous Theologue wrests it. By the Sword he inter- prets defence against persecution . . . As if Christ had alter d His' mind in that He sent out His Disciples not so royally attended as He should have done, repenting Himself of His former instructions . . . so far now from having them go forth without a Sword, He com- manded 'em to get one."

Erasmus : "The Praise of Folly" 1509. Translated by John Wilson 1668. (Ed. Allen, Oxford: Clarendon Press.)

—Yours faithfully, C. RIVERS.

Belmont, Redruth, Cornwall.