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The Scottish Nation

HALES, ALES, or ALESSE, ALEXANDER, a celebrated theologian and divine of the confession of Augsburg, was born in Edinburgh, 28th April, 1500, and was at first a canon in the cathedral of St. Andrews. He early entered into the controversy against Luther, and also had a dispute with Patrick Hamilton, the martyr; whose constancy at the stake, however, induced him to entertain doubts as to the Popish creed, and on the change in his sentiments becoming known, he was obliged to fly into Germany, where he became a Protestant. In 1535 he went to London, and was held in high esteem by Henry the Eighth, Cranmer, Latimer, and other Reformers. In 1540, he was appointed by the elector of Brandenburg, professor of divinity at Frankfort. In 1542 he went to Leipsic, where he held the same situation. He died in 1565. He wrote a number of theological and controversial works, of which a list is subjoined. He also wrote a description in Latin of Edinburgh in his time, which is of great interest as giving a clear and accurate account of the Scottish capital in the middle of the sixteenth century. Of the Cowgate he says, “Infiniti viculi, qui omnes excelsis sunt ornati aedibus, sicut et Via Vaccarum; in qual habitant patricii et sensatores urbis, et in qua sunt principum regni palatia, ubi nihil est humile aut rusticum, set omnia magnifica.” [Bourndless street, which are all ornamented by lofty houses, such as the Cowgate, in which reside the nobles and senators of the city, and in which are the principal palaces of the kingdom, where nothing is humble or homely, but all is magnificent.] What a contrast to this does the Cowgate present in our day! It is now one of the meanest and dirtiest of all the streets of the Scottish metropolis. Alesse’s description of Edinburgh is illustrated by the oldest and most valuable map of the ancient capital in existence, a facsimile of which is given in the first volume of the Bannatyne Miscellany. The original map is preserved in the British Museum.

      His works are:

      De Necessitate et Merito Bonorum Operum disputatio proposita, in celebri Academia Lipsica, ad 29 Nov. 1560.

      Commentaria in Evangelium Joannis, et in utamque Epistolam ad Timotheum.

      Expositio in Psalmos Davidis.

      De Justificatione, contra Osiandrum.

      De Sancta Trinitate, cum Confutatione erroris Valentini. Considered the best of his writings.

      Responsio ad Triginta et duos Articulos Theologorum Lovaniensium.

      Epistola contra Cecretum quoddam Episcoporum in Scotia, quod prohibet Legere Novi Testamenti libros Lingua Vernacula. 1533.

      The Book of Common Prayer, in Latin. Lipsiae, 1551

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