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tion of the errors that had crept into the Lutheran church, and particularly of those that were imputed to the followèrs of Melancthon, to be drawn up with care, to be promulgated by authority, and to be placed among the other religious edicts and articles of faith that were in force in their dominions. But this pernicious design of dividing the church proved abortive; for the other Lutheran princes, who acted from the true and genuine principles of the reformation, disapproved of this seditious book, from a just apprehension of its tendency to increase the present troubles, and to augment, instead of diminishing, the calamities of the church.
XXXII. This theological incendiary kindled the flame of The contest discord and persecution even in the church of
b. Saxe Weimar, and in the university of Jena, to gelius. which he belonged, by venting his fury against Strigelius,' the friend and disciple of Melancthon. This moderate divine adopted, in many things, the sentiments of his master, and maintained, particularly in his public lectures, that the human will, when under the influence of the divine grace, leading it to repentance, was not totally inactive, but bore a certain part in the salutary work of its conversion. In consequence of this doctrine, he was accused by Flacius of synergism, at the court of Saxe Weimar; and by the order of the prince was cast into prison, where he was treated with severity and rigour. He was at length delivered from this confinement in the year 1562, and allowed to resume his former vocation, in consequence of a declaration of his real sentiments, which, as he alleged, had been greatly misrepresented. This declaration, however, did not either decide or terminate the controversy ; since Strigelius seemed rather to conceal his erroneous sentiments under ambiguous expressions, than to renounce them entirely. And indeed he was so conscious of this himself, that, to avoid being involved in new calamities and persecutions, he retired from Jena to Leipsic, and from Leipsic to Heidelberg, where he spent the remainder of his days; and appeared so unsettled in his religious opinions,
between Fincius and Stri
e Salig, Historia. August. Confess, vol. iji. p. 476.
f See the writers ciled in the preceding notes; and also Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Strigelius.
Tg The sentiments of Strigelius were not, I have reason to believe, very erroneous in the judgment of Dr. Mosheim, nor are they such in the estimation of the greatest part of the Lutheran doctors at this day.
puty carried on by Flacius at
that it is really doubtful whether he is to be placed among the followers of Luther or Calvin.
XXXIII. The issue however of this controversy, which Flacius had kindled with such an internperate zeal, proved highly detrimental to his own repu- some particu.. tation and influence in particular, as well as to the interests of the Lutheran church in general. For Saxe Weimar. while this vehement disputant was assailing his adversary with an inconsiderate ardour, he exaggerated so excessively the sentiments, which he looked upon as orthodox, as to maintain an opinion of the most monstrous and detestable kind; an opinion which made him appear, even in the judgment of his warmest friends, an odious heretic, and a corrupter of the true religion. In the year 1560, a public dispute was held at Weimar, between him and Strigelius, concerning the natural powers and faculties of the human mind, and their influence in the conversion and conduct of the true Christian. In this conference the latter seemed to attribute to unassisted nature too much, and the former too little. The one looked upon the fall of man as an event that extinguished, in the human mind, every virtuous tendency, every noble faculty, and left nothing behind it but universal darkness and corruption. The other maintained, that this degradation of the powers of nature was by no means universal or entire; that the will retained still some propensity to worthy pursuits, and a certain degree of activity that rendered it capable of attainments in virtue. Strigelius, who was well acquainted with the wiles of a captious philosophy, proposed to defeat his adversary by puzzling him, and addressed to him, with that view, the following question : “ Whether original sin, or the corrupt habit which the human soul contracted by the fall, is to be placed in the class of substances or accidents.” Flacius answered with unparalleled imprudence and temerity, that it belonged to the former; and maintained, to his dying hour, this most extravagant and dangerous proposition, that original sin is the very substance of human nature. Nay, so invincible was the obstinacy with which he persevered in this strange doctrine, that he chose to renounce all worldly honours and advantages rather than depart from it. It was condemned by the greatest and soundest part of the Lutheran church, as a doctrine that bore no small affinity to that of the Manicheans. But, on the other hand the merit, erudition, and credit of Flacius procured him many respectable patrons and able defenders among the most learned doctors of the church, who embraced his sentiments, and maintained his cause with the greatest spirit and zeal; of whom the most eminent were Syriac Span. genberg, Christopher Irenæus, and Cælestine." XXXIV. It is scarcely possible to imagine how much
the Lutheran church suffered from this new dispute The consiar in all those places where its contagion had reached, a rose from the and how detrimental it was to the progress of LuFlacius. theranism among those who still adhered to the religion of Rome. For the flame of discord spread far and wide ; it was communicated even to those churches which were erected in popish countries, and particularly in the Austrian territories, under the gloomy shade of a dubious toleration; and it so animated the Lutheran pastors, though surrounded on all sides by their cruel adversaries, that they could neither be restrained by the dictates of prudence, nor by the sense of danger. Many are of opinion, that an ignorance of philosophical distinctions and definitions threw Flacius inconsiderately into the extravagant hypothesis he maintained with such obstinacy, and that his greatest heresy was no more than a foolish attachment to an unusual term. But Flacius seems to have fully refuted this plea in his behalf, by declaring boldly, in several parts of his writings, that he knew perfectly well the philosophical signification and the whole energy of the word substance, and was by no means ignorant of the consequences that would be drawn from the doctrine he had embraced, Be that as it may, we cannot but wonder at the senseless and excessive obstinacy of this turbulent man, who chose rather to sacrifice his fortune, and to disturb the tranquillity of the
b Schlussenburg. Catalog. Hæreticor. lib. ii. The Life of Flacius, written in German by Ritter, and published in 8vo. at Franckfort, in the year 1725. Salig, Histor. Aug. Confession, vol. iii. p. 593. Arnoldi Histor. Ecclesiast. lib. xvi. cap. xxix. p. 829. Musæi Prælect in Formul. Concordiæ, p. 29. Jo. Georgii Leuckfeldii Historia Spangenbergensis. For a particular account of the dispute, that was held publicly at Weimar, see the German work, entitled Unschuld. Nachricht, p. 383.
i See a German work of Bern. Raupach, entitled Zwiefache Zugabe zu dem Eougelisch Oesterrich. p. 25, 29, 32, 34, 43, 64. The same author speaks of the friends of Flacius in Austria ; and particularly of Irenæus, in his Presbyterol. Austriace, p. 69. For an account of Cælestine, see the German work mentioned at the end of the preceding note.
k This will appear evident to such as will be at the pains to consult the letters which Westphal wrote to his friend Flacius, in order to persuade him to abstain from the use of the word substance, with the answers of the latter. These Letters and Answers are published by Arnold Grevius, in his Memoria Jo. Westphali, p. 186.
The disputes kindled by
church, than to abandon a word, which was entirely foreign to the subject in debate, and renounce an hypothesis, that was composed of the most palpable contradictions.
xxxv. The last controversy that we shall mention, of those that were occasioned by the excessive lenity of Melancthon, was set on foot by Osiander in the T year 1549, and produced much discord and animo- Osiander. sity in the church. Had its first founder been yet alive, his influence and authority would have suppressed in their birth these wretched disputes ; nor would Osiander, who despised the moderation of Melancthon, have dared either to publish or defend his crude and chimerical opinions within the reach of Luther. Arrogance and singularity were the principal lines in Osiander's character; he loved to strike out new notions ; but his views seemed always involved in an intricate obscurity. The disputes that arose concerning the interim, induced him to retire from Nuremberg, where he had exercised the pastoral charge, to Konigsberg, where he was chosen professor of divinity. In this new station he began his academical functions, by propagating notions concerning the divine image, and the nature of repentance, very different from the doctrine that Luther had taught on these interesting subjects; and, not contented with this deviation from the common track, he thought proper, in the year 1550, to introduce considerable alterations and corrections into the doctrine that had been generally received in the Lutheran church, with respect to the means of our justification before God. When we examine his discussion of this important point, we shall find it much more easy to perceive the opinions he rejected, than to understand the system he had invented or adopted; for, ás was but too usual in this age, he not only expressed his notions in an obscure manner, but seemed moreover perpetually in contradiction with himself. His doctrine however when carefully examined, will appear to amount to the following propositions : “ Christ, considered in his human nature only, could not, by his obedience to the divine law, obtain justification and pardon for sinners; neither can we be justified before God by embracing and applying to ourselves, through faith, the righteousness and obedience of the man Christ. It is only through that eternal and essential righteousness, which dwells in Christ considered as God, and which resides in his divine nature that is united to the human, that mankind can obtain complete
justification. Man becomes a partaker of this divine righteousness by faith; since it is in consequence of this uniting principle that Christ dwells in the heart of man, with his divine righteousness; now, wherever this divine righteousness dwells, there God can behold no sin, and therefore, when it is present with Christ in the hearts of the regenerate, they are, on its account, considered by the Deity as righteous, although they be sinners. Moreover, this divine and justifying righteousness of Christ excites the faithful to the pursuit of holiness, and to the practice of virtue.” This doctrine was zealously opposed by the most eminent doctors of the Lutheran church, and in a more special manner, by Melancthon and his colleagues. On the other hand, Osiander and his sentiments were supported by persons of considerable weight. But, upon the death of this rigid and fanciful divine, the flame of controversy was cooled, and dwindled by degrees into nothing.' XXXVI. The doctrine of Osiander, concerning the me
thod of being justified before God, appeared so es absurd to Stancarus, professor of Hebrew at acar us. Konigsberg, that he undertook to refute it. But while this turbulent and impetuous doctor was exerting all the vehemence of his zeal against the opinion of his colleague, he was hurried, by his violence, into the opposite extreme, and fell into an hypothesis, that appeared equally groundless, and not less dangerous in its tendency and consequences. Osiander had maintained that the man Christ, in his character of moral agent, was obliged to obey, for himself, the divine law, and therefore could not by the imputation of this obedience, obtain righteousness or justification for others. From hence he concluded that the Saviour of the world had been empowered, not by his character as man, but by his nature as God, to make expiation for our sins, and reconcile us to the favour of an offended Deity. Stancarus, on the other hand, excluded entirely Christ's divine nature from all concern in the satisfaction he made,
The debates excited by
I See Schlussenburgii Catalogus Hæreticor. lib. vi. Arnoldi Histor. Eccles. lib. xvi. cap. xxiv. p. 504. Christ. Hartknoch. Preussische Kirchen Historie, p. 309. Salig, llistoria August. Confession. tom. ii. p. 922. The judgment that was formed of this controversy, by the divines of Wittemberg, may be seen in the German work, entitled Unschuldige Nachrichten, p. 141, and that of the doctors of Copenhagen, in der Danischen Bibliothec. part vii. p. 150, where there is an ample list of the writings published on this subject. To form a just idea of the insolence and arrogance of Osiander, those who understand the German language will do well to consult Éischius, Nitremberg Interims Historie, p. 44, 59, 60, &c.