תמונות בעמוד

eloquence and

experience, in these latter times, furnishes daily instances of the salutary effects of these important discoveries on the state of the Christian church, and on the condition of all its members. Hence flow that lenity and moderation that are mutually exercised by those who differ from one another in their religious sentiments; that prudence and caution that are used in estimating opinions and deciding controversies; that protection and support that are granted to men of worth, when attacked by the malice of bigotry; and that visible diminution of the errors, frauds, crimes, and cruelties, with which superstition formerly embittered the pleasures of human life, and the enjoyments of social intercourse. XxvII. Many of the doctors of this century applied

themselves, with eminent success, to the study of The study Hebrew and Greek literature, and of the oriental the languages. languages and antiquities. And, as their progress in these kinds of erudition was rapid, so, in many instances, was the use they made of them truly excellent and laudable. For, by these succours, they were enabled to throw light on many difficult passages of the sacred writings that had been ill understood and injudiciously applied, and which some had even employed in supporting erroneous opinions, and giving a plausible colour to pernicious doctrines. Hence it happened, that many patrons and promoters of popular notions, and visionary and groundless fancies, were deprived of the fallacious arguments by which they maintained their errors. It cannot also be denied, that the cause of religion received considerable benefit from the labours of those, who either endeavoured to preserve the purity and elegance of the Latin language, or who, beholding with emulation the example of the French, employed their industry in improving and polishing the languages of their respective countries. For it must be evidently both honourable and advantageous to the Christian church to have always, in its bosom, men of learning, qualified to write and discourse upon theological subjects with precision, elegance, ease, and perspicuity, that so the ignorant and perverse may be allured to receive instruction, and also be able to comprehend with facility the instructions they receive.

xxix. The rules of morality and practice, which were The law of laid down in the sacred writings, by Christ and his de tensiunii apostles, assumed an advantageous form, received

new illustrations, and were supported upon new

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and solid principles, when that great system of law, that results from the constitution of nature, and the dictates of right reason, began to be studied with more diligence, and investigated with more accuracy and perspicuity than had been the case in preceding ages. In this sublime study of the law of nature, the immortal Grotius led the way in his excellent book Concerning the Rights of War and Peace ; and such was the dignity and importance of the subject, that his labours excited the zeal and emulation of men of the most eminent genius and abilities, who turned their principal attention to this noble science. How much the labours of these great men contributed to assist the ministers of the gospel, both in their discourses and writings concerning the duties and obligations of Christians, may be easily seen by comparing the books of a practical kind that have been published since the period now under consideration, with those that were in vogue before that time. To There is scarcely a discourse upon any subject of Christian morality, how inconsiderable soever it may be, that does not bear some marks of the improvement which was introduced into the science of morals by those great men, who studied that science in the paths of nature, in the frame and constitution of rational and moral beings, and in the relations by which they are rendered members of one great family, under the inspection and government of one common and universale Parent.] It is unquestionably certain, that since this period the dictates of natural law, and the duties of Christian morality, have been more accurately defined; certain evangelical precepts, whose nature and foundations were but imperfectly comprehended in the times of old, more clearly illustrated ; the superiority which distinguishes the morality of the gospel from that course of duty that is deducible from the mere light of nature more fully demonstrated; and those common no. tions and general principles, which are the foundations of moral obligation, and are every way adapted to dispel all doubts that may arise, and all controversies that may be started, concerning the nature of evangelical righteousness and virtue, established with greater evidence and certainty.

c See Adam. Frid. Glafey, Historia Juris Naturæ ; to which is subjoined his Bibliotheca Juris Nature et Gentium.

d This sentence, beginning with There is scarcely a discourse, and ending with Universal Parent, is added by the translator.

The state of the Aristolelian and Paracelsistic pbilosoplay.

It may also be added, that the impiety of those infidels who have had the effrontery to maintain, that the precepts of the gospel are contrary to the dictates of sound reason, repugnant to the constitution of our nature, inconsistent with the interests of civil society, adapted to enervate the mind and to draw men off from the business, the duties, and enjoyments of life, has been much more triumphantly refuted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, than in any other period of the Christian church. XXX. To these reflections upon the state of learning and

of science in general, it may not be improper to add line Acdstorie a particular and separate account of the progress pacelsistic and reyclutions of philosophy in the Christian

schools. At the beginning of this century, almost all the European philosophers were divided into two classes, one of which comprehended the peripatetics, and the other the chymists, or fire philosophers, as they were often styled. These two classes contended warmly for many years which should have the pre-eminence; and a great number of laboured and subtile productions were published during the course of this philosophical contest. The peripatetics were in possession of the professorships in almost all the schools of learning, and looked upon all such as presumed either to reject, or even amend the doctrines of Aristotle, as objects of indignation, little less criminal than traitors and rebels. It is however observable, that the greatest part of these supercilious and persecuting doctors, if we except those of the academies of Tubingen, Altorf, Juliers, and Leipsic, were less attached to Aristotle himself than to his modern interpreters and commentators. The chymists spread themselves through almost all Europe, and assumed the obscure and ambiguous title of rosecrucian brethren,' which drew at first some degree of respect, as it seemed to be borrowed from the arms of Luther, which were a cross placed upon a rose. They inveighed against the peripatetics with a singular degree of bitterness and animosity, represented them as corrupters both of religion and philosophy, and published a multitude of treatises against them, which discovered little else than their folly and their malice. At the head of these fanatics were Robert Fludd, a native of England, and a man of surprising genius; Jacob Behmen, a shoemaker, who lived at Gorlitz; and Michael Mayer." These leaders of the sect were followed by John Baptist Helmont, and his son Francis, Christian Knorrius de Rosenroth, Kuhlman, Nollius, Sperber, and many others of various fame. A uniformity of opinion, and a spirit of concord, seem scarcely possible in such a society as this. For as a great part of its doctrine is derived from certain internal feelings, and certain flights of imagination, which can neither be comprehended nor defined, and is supported by certain testimonies of the external senses, whose reports are equally illusory and changeable; so it is remarkable, that among the more eminent writers of this sect, there are scarcely any two who adopt the same tenets and sentiments. There are nevertheless some com. mon principles that are generally embraced, and that serve as a centre of union to the society. They all maintain, that the dissolution of bodies, by the power of fire, is the only way through which men can arrive at true wisdom, and come to discern the first principles of things. They all acknowledge a certain analogy and harmony between the powers of nature and the doctrines of religion, and beIn the ention Als, then the tre is

e Rouss. Contr. Soc.

f The title of rosecrucians evidently denotes the chymical pbilosophers, and those who blended the doctrines of religion with the secrets of chymistry. The denomination itself is drawn from the science of chymistry; and they only, who are acquainted with the peculiar language of the chymist can understand its true signification and energy. It is not compounded, as many imagine, of the two words rosa and crur, which signify rose and cross, but of the latter of these words, and the Latin word ros, which signifies dew. Of all natural bodies, dew is the most powerful dissolvent of gold. The cross in the chymical style, is equivalent to light; because the figure of the cross + exhibits at the same time, the three letters of which the word lux, i. e. light is compounded. Now lux is called by this sect the seed or menstruum of the red dragon ; or, in other words, that gross and corporeal light, which, when properly digested and modified, produces gold. From all this it follows, that a rosecrucian philosopher is one, who, by the intervention and assistance of the dew, seeks for light, or in other words, the substance called the pbilosopher's stone. All other explications of this term are false and chimerical. The interpretations that are given of it by the chymists, who love on all occasions, to involve themselves in intricacy and darkness, are invented merely to deceive those who are strangers to their mysteries. The true energy and meaning of this denomination of rosccrucians did not escape the penetration and sagacity of Gas. sendi, as appears by his Examen philosophiæ Fluddana, $ xv. tom. iii. opp. p. 261. It was however still more fully explained by kenaudot, a famous French physician, ia bis Conferences Publiques, tom. iv. p. 87. There is a great number of materials and anecdotes relating to the fraternity, rules, observances, and writings of rosecrucians, who made such a noise in this century, to be found in Arnold's Kirchen und Ketzer Historie, part ii. p. 1114.

g See for an account of this singular man, from whose writings Jacob Bebmen derived all his mystical and rapturous doctrine, Wood's Athenæ O.roniensis, vol. i. p. 610, and Histor. et Antiq. Academic Oxoniensis, lib. ii. p. 308. For an account of Helmont, father and son, see Hen. Witte, Memor. Philosoph. Joach. Frid. Feller, in Miscellan. Leibnitian. Several writers beside Arnoldi have given an account of Jacob Behmen. *

h See Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. i. p. 376. * See for a further account of Jacob Behmen, sect. ii. part ii. chap. i. $ xl. of this history. pri The title of his book against the Aristotelians is as follows; “ Exercitationum paradoxicarum adversus Aristoteleos Libri VII. in quibus præcipua totius Peripateticæ Doctrinæ fundamenta executiuntur, opiniones vero, aut ex vetustioribus obsolete, stabiliuntur.

lieve that the Deity governs the kingdom of grace by the same laws with which he rules the kingdom of nature; and hence it is that they employ chymical denominations to express the truths of religion. They all hold, that there is a sort of divine energy, or soul, diffused through the frame of the universe, which some call Archæus, others the Universal Spirit, and which others mention under different appellations. They all talk in the most obscure and superstitious manner, of what they call the signatures of things, of the power of the stars over all corporeal beings, and their particular influence upon the human race, of the efficacy of magic, and the various ranks and orders of demons. In fine, they all agree in throwing out the most crude, incomprehensible notions and ideas, in the most obscure, quaint, and unusual expressions.

XXXI. This controversy between the chymists and peri

philosophy patetics was buried in silence and oblivion as soon ví Gassendi. as a new and more seemly form of philosophy was presented to the world by two great men, who reflected à lustre upon the French nation, Gassendi and Des Cartes. The former, whose profound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy was accompanied with the most engaging eloquence, and an acquaintance with all the various branches of solid erudition and polite literature, was canon of Digne, and professor of mathematics at Paris. The latter, who was a man of quality and bred a soldier, surpassed the greatest part of his contemporaries in acuteness, subtilty, and extent of genius, though he was much inferior to Gassendi in point of learning. In the year 1624, Gassendi attacked Aristotle, and the whole sect of his commentators and followers, with great resolution and ingenuity ;' but the resentment and indignation which he drew upon himself from all quarters by this bold attempt, and the sweetness of his natural temper, which made him an enemy to dissension and contest, engaged him to desist, and to suspend an enterprise that, by opposing the prejudices, was so adapted to inflame the passions of the learned. Hence no more than two books of the work he had composed against the Aristotelians were made public; the other

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