« הקודםהמשך »
latitude in their system of religious doctrine, which consists in such vague and general principles, as render their communion accessible to Christians of almost all denominations. And, accordingly, they tolerate, in fact, and re
persons of every sect, even Socinians and Arians; nor do they reject any from their communion who profess themselves Christians, and receive the holy Scriptures as the source of truth, and the rule of faith. They agree with the particular baptists in this circumstance, that they admit to baptism adult persons only, and administer that sacrament by dipping or total immersion; but they differ from them in another respect, even in their repeating the administration of baptism to those who had received it, either in a state of infancy, or by aspersion, instead of dipping; for if the common accounts may be believed, the particular baptists do not carry matters so far. The following sentiments, rites, and tenets, are also peculiar to the former; 1. After the manner of the ancient Mennonites, they look upon their sect as the only true Christian church, and consequently shun, with the most scrupulous caution, the communion of all other religious societies. 2. They dip only once, and not three times, as is practised elsewhere, the candidates for baptism, and consider it as a matter of indifference, whether that sacrament be administered in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or in that of Christ alone. 3. They adopt the doctrine of Menno with respect to the millennium, or thousand years' reign of the saints with Christ upon earth; and 4, many of them embrace his particular opinion concerning the origin of Christ's body.". 5. They look upon the precept of the apostles, prohibiting the use of blood, and things strangled," as a law that was designed to be in
1 This appears cvidently from their Confession of Faith, which appeared first in the year 1660, was republished by Mr. Whiston, in the Memoirs of his Life, vol. ii. p. 561, and is drawn up with such latitude, that with the removal and alteration of a few points, * it may be adopted by Christians of all denominations.t Mr. Whiston, though an Arian, became a member of this baptist community, which, as he thought, came nearest to the simplicity of the primitive and apostolic age. The famous Mr. Emlyn, who was persecuted on account of his Socinian principles, joined himself also to this society, and died in their communion.
Pm To wit, that the body of Jesus was not derived from the substance of the blessed Virgin, but created in her womb by an omnipotent act of the Holy Spirit. x Acts xv. 29.
* Viz. Those relating to universal redemption, the perseverance of the saints, election and reprobation, which are illustrated entirely on Arminian prin ciples, and consequently cannot be embraced by rigid Calvinists ; not to mention the points relating to baptism, which are the distinctive marks of this sect.
of Our author does not certainly mean to include Roman catholics in this large class, for then his assertion would not be true.
ists or David Georgians.
force in all ages and periods of the church. 6. They believe that the soul, from the moment that the body dies until its resurrection at the last day, remains in a state of perfect insensibility. 7. They use the ceremony of extreme unction. And, to omit matters of a more trifling nature, 8, several of them observe the Jewish as well as the Christian sabbath." These baptists have three different classes of ecclesiasticalgovernors, bishops, elders, and deacons; the first of these, among whom there have been several learned men," they modestly call messengers," as St. John is known to have styled that order in the book of the Revelation. xxiv. Before we conclude the history of the anabaptists,
it may not be improper to mention a very singular The Davida and ridiculous sect that was founded by David
George, a native of Delft, and a member of that community. This enthusiast, after having laid the foundation of the sect of the Davidists, or David Georgians, deserted the anabaptists, and removed to Bazil in Switzerland, in the year 1544, where he changed his name, and by the liberality and splendour that attended his opulence, joined to his probity and purity of manners, acquired a very high degree of esteem, which he preserved till his death. The lustre of his reputation was however but transitory; for soon after his decease,
which happened in the year 1556, his sonin-law, Nicholas Blesdyck, charged him with having maintained the most blasphemous and pestilential errors. The senate of Basil, before whom this accusation was brought, being satisfied with the evidence by which it was supported, pronounced sentence against the deceased heretic, and ordered his body to be dug up and to be publicly burnt. And indeed nothing more horridly impious and extravagant can possibly be conceived, than the sentiments and tenets of this fanatic, if they were really such as they have been represented, either by his accusers or his historians. For he is said to have given himself out for the Son of God, the Fountain of divine wisdom, to have denied the existence of angels, good and evil, of heaven and hell, and to have rejected the doctrine of a future judgment ;
o These accounts of the doctrine of the baptists are taken from Wall's History of Infant Baptism ; and from the second volume of Whiston's Memoirs of his Life, p. 465, &c.
p See Whiston's Memoirs of his Life, tom. ii. p. 466, as also Crosby's History of the English Baptists, published in four volumes Svo. in the year 1728.
q St. John calls them the angels of the churches ; the word angel,. in Greek ayoles, signifies properly an envoy or messenger.
and he is also charged with having trampled upon all the rules of decency and modesty with the utmost contempt." In all this, however, it is very possible, that there may be much exaggeration. The enthusiast in question, though a man of some natural genius, was nevertheless totally destitute of learning of every kind, and had something obscure, harsh, and illiberal in his manner of expression, that gave too much occasion to an unfavourable interpretation of his religious tenets. That he had both more sense and more virtue than is generally imagined, appears manifestly not only from his numerous writings, but also from the simplicity and candour that were visible in the temper and spirit of the disciples he left behind him, of whom several are yet to be found in Holstein, Friesland, and other countries. He deplored the decline of vital and practical religion, and endeavoured to restore it among his followers; and in this he seemed to imitate the example of the more moderate anabaptists. But the excessive warmth of an irregular imagination threw him into illusions of the most dangerous and pernicious kind, and seduced him into a persuasion that he was honoured with the gift of divine inspiration, and had celestial visions constantly presented to his mind. Thus was he led to such a high degree of fanaticism, that, rejecting as mean and useless
the external services of piety, he reduced religion to contemplation, silence, and a certain frame or habit of soul, which it is equally difficult to define and to understand. The soaring mystics and the visionary quakers may therefore, if they please, give David George a distinguished rank in their enthusiastical community.
xxv. Henry Nicholas, a Westphalian, one of the intimate companions of this fanatic, though somewhat different from him in the nature of his en- ed by henry thusiasm, and also in point of genius and charac- Nicholas ter, founded a sect in Holland, in the year 1555, which he called the family of love. The principles of this sect were afterward propagated in England, and produced no small confusion in both nations. The judgment that has been formed with respect to David George may be applied with truth, at least in a great measure, to his associate Nicholas, who perhaps would have prevented a considerable part of the heavy reproaches with which he has been loaded, had he been endowed with a degree of genius, discernment, and knowledge, sufficient to enable him to express his sentiments with perspicuity and elegance. Be that as it may, the character, temper, and views of this man may be learned from the spirit that reigned in his flock. As to his pretensions, they were indeed visionary and chimerical; for he maintained that he had a comunission from heaven, to teach men that the essence of religion consisted in the feelings of divine love ; that all other theological tenets, whether they related to objects of faith, or modes of worship, were of no sort of moment; and consequently, that it was a matter of the most perfect indifference, what opinions Christians entertained concerning the divine nature, provided their hearts burned with the pure and sacred flame of piety and love. To this his main doctrine, Nicholas may have probably added other odd fancies, as always is. the case with those innovators, who are endued with a warm and fruitful imagination; to come however at a true notion of the opinions of this enthusiast, it will be much wiser to consult his own writings, than to depend entirely upon the accounts and refutations of his adversaries."
r See Nic. Blesdyckii Historia Davidis Georgii a Jacobo Revio edita ; as also the life of the same fanatic, written in the German language, by Stolterforth. Among the modern writers, see Arnold's Kirchen und Ketzer Historie, tom. i. p. 750, tom. ii. p. 534 and 1183, in which there are several things that tend to clear the character of David. See also Henr. Mori Enthusiasmus Triumphatus, sect. xxxiii. p. 23. And the documents I have published in relation to this matter, in the History of Servetus, p. 425.
s See Jo. Molleri Introduct. in Histor. Chersonens. Cimbricæ, part ii. p. 116, et Cimbria Literatce, tom. i. p. 422.
HISTORY OF THE SOCINIANS.
1. The Socinians are said to have derived this denomiThe denomi- nation from the illustrious family of the Sozzini,
which flourished a long time at Sienna in Tus
na tion and origin of this sect.
t See Jo. Hornbeck, Summa controvers. lib. vi. p. 393. Arnold Kirchen und Ketzer Historie, p. 746. Bohm's History of the Reformation in England, written in German, book iv. ch. v. p. 541.
u The most learned of all the authors who wrote against the family of love, was Dr. Henry More, in his Grand Explanation of the Mystery of Godliness, &c. book vi. chap. 12-18, George Fox, the founder of the sect of Quakers, inveighed also severely against this seraphic family, and called them a motley tribe of fanatics, because they took oaths, danced, sung, and made merry. See Sewel's History of the Quakers, book iii. p. 88, 89, 344.
cany, and produced several great and eminent men, and among others Lælius and Faustus Sozinus, who are commonly supposed to have been the founders of this sect. The former was the son of Marianus, a famous lawyer, and was himself a man of uncommon genius and learning ; to which he added, as his very enemies are obliged to acknowledge, the lustre of a virtuous life, and of unblemished manners. Being forced to leave his country, in the year 1547, on account of the disgust he had conceived against popery, he travelled through France, England, Holland, Germany, and Poland, in order to examine the religious sentiments of those who had thrown off the yoke of Rome, and thus at length to come at the truth. After this he settled at Zurich, where he died in the year 1562, before he had arrived at the fortieth year of his age. His mild and gentle disposition rendered him averse from whatever had the air of contention and discord. He adopted the Helvetic confession of faith, and professed himself a member of the church of Switzerland; but this did not engage him to conceal entirely the doubts he had formed in relation to certain points of religion, and which he communicated, in effect, by letter, to some learned men, whose judgment he respected, and in whose friendship he could confide. His sentiments were indeed propagated, in a more public manner, after his death ; since Faustus, his nephew and his heir, is supposed to have have drawn, from the papers he left behind him, that religious system upon which the sect of the Socinians was founded.
11. It is however to be observed, that this denomination does not always convey the same ideas, since the termsoit is susceptible of different significations, and is, ciniere being in effect, used sometimes in a more strict and nifications. proper, and at others in a more improper and extensive
For, according to the usual manner of speaking, all are termed Socinians, whose sentiments bear a certain affinity to the system of Socinus ; and they are more especially ranked in that class, who either boldly deny, or artfully explain away, the doctrines that assert the divine na
w Cloppenburg, Dissertatio de origine et progressu Socinianismi. Jo. Hornbeck, Summa Controversiarum, p. 563. Jo. Henr. Hottinger, Hist. Eccles. tom, ix. p. 417.
x Zanchius, Præf. ad Libr. de tribus Elohim. Beza, Epist. Volum. ep. Ixxxi. p. 167. Certain writings are attributed to him by Sandius, in his Bibliotheca Antitrinitar. p'ri but it is very doubtful whether he was the real author of them or not. VOL. II.