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Theological contests among the
return sincerely to the true church, from which they have departed."m XXVIII. It will now be proper to change the scene, and
ical to consider a little the state of the reformed church condescebe in Holland. The Dutch Calvinists thought themDutch. selves happy after the defeat of the Arminians, and were flattering themselves with the agreeable prospect of enjoying long, in tranquillity and repose, the fruits of their victory, when new scenes of tumult arose from another quarter. Scarcely had they triumphed over the enemies of absolute predestination, when, by an ill-hap, they became the prey of intestine disputes, and were divided among themselves in such a deplorable manner, that, during the whole of this century, the United Provinces were a scene of contention, animosity, and strife. It is not necessary to mention all the subjects of these religious quarrels ; nor indeed would this be an easy task. We shall therefore pass over in silence the debates of certain divines, who disputed about some particular, though not very momentous points of doctrine and discipline; such as those of the famous Voet and the learned Des Marets ; as also the disputes of Salmasius, Boxhorn, Voet, and others, concerning usury, ornaments in dress, stage-players, and other minute points of morality; and the contests of Apollonius, Trigland, and Videlius, concerning the power of the magistrate in matters of religion and ecclesiastical discipline, which produced such a flaming division between Frederic Spanheim and John Vander Wayen. These and other debates of like nature and importance rather discover the sentiments of certain learned men, concerning some particular points of religion and morality, than exhibit a view of the true internal state of the Belgic church. The knowledge of this must be derived from those controversies alone in which the whole church, or at least the greatest part of its doctors, have been directly concerned. xxix. Such were the controversies occasioned in Hol
land by the philosophy of Des Cartes, and the The Carician theological novelties of Cocceius. Hence arose
the two powerful and numerous factions, distin
m See Whiston's Memoirs of his Life and Writings, vol. i. p. 30. Hickes's Memoirs of the Life of John Kettlewell, printed at London in 1718. Nouveau Diction. Histor. et Critiq, at the article Collier Ph. Masson, Histor. Critique de la Repub, des Lettres, tom. xiii. p. 298.
and tipposition, equarsaries of the com
guished by the denominations of Cocceians and Voetians, which still subsist, though their debates are now less violent, and their champions somewhat more moderate, than they were in former times. The Cocceian theology and the Cartesian philosophy have indeed no common features, nor any thing, in their respective tenets and principles, that was in the least adapted to form a connexion between them; and, of consequence, the debates they excited, and the factions they produced, had no natural relation to, or dependence on each other. It nevertheless so happened, that the respective votaries of these very different sciences formed themselves into one sect; so far at least, that those who chose Cocceius for their guide in theology, took Des Cartes for their master in philosophy." This will appear less surprising when we consider, that the very same persons who opposed the progress of Cartesianism in Holland, were the warm adversaries of the Cocceian theology; for this opposition, equally levelled at these two great men and their respective systems, laid the Cartesians and Cocceians under a kind of necessity of uniting their force in order to defend their cause, in a more effectual manner, against the formidable attacks of their numerous adversaries. The Voetians were so called from Gisbert Voet, a learned and eminent professor of divinity, in the university of Utrecht, who first sounded the alarm of this theologico-philosophical war, and led on, with zeal, the polemic legions against those who followed the standard of Des Cartes and Cocceius.
xxx, The Cartesian philosophy, at its first appearance, attracted the attention and esteem of many, and Cartesian seemed more comformable to truth and nature, as controversy. well as more elegant and pleasing in its aspect, than the intricate labyrinths of peripatetic wisdom. It was considered in this light in Holland; it however met there with a formidable adversary, in the year 1639, in the famous Voet, who taught theology at Utrecht with the greatest reputation, and gave plain intimations of his looking upon Cartesianism as a system of impiety. Voet was a man of uncommon application and immense learning; he had made an extraordinary progress in all the various branches of erudition and philology ; but he was not endowed with a large portion of that philosophical spirit, that judges with
n See Frid, Spanhemii Epistola de novissimis in Belgio dissidiis, tom. ii. opp. p. 975.
follow their mhand, Vore the mos the south Mast
acuteness and precision of natural science and abstract truths. While Des Cartes resided at Utrecht, Voet found fault with many things in his philosophy; but what induced him to cast upon it the aspersion of impiety, was its being introduced by the following principles; “ That the person who aspires after the character of a true philosopher must begin by doubting of all things, even of the existence of a Supreme Being; that the nature or essence of spirit, and even of God himself, consists in thought ; that space has no real existence, is no more than the creature of fancy, and that, consequently, matter is without bounds." · Des Cartes defended his principles, with his usual acuteness, against the professor of Utrecht; his disciples and followers thought themselves obliged, on this occasion, to assist their master; and thus war was formally declared. On the other hand, Voet was not only seconded by those Belgic divines that were the most eminent, at this time, for the extent of their learning and the soundness of their theology, such as Rivet, Des Marets, and Mastricht, but also was followed and applauded by the greatest part of the Dutch clergy. While the flame of controversy burned with sufficient ardour, it was considerably augmented by the proceedings of certain doctors, who applied the principles and tenets of Des Cartes to the illustration of theological truth. Hence, in the year 1656, an alarm was raised in the Dutch churches and schools of learning, and a resolution was taken in several of their ecclesiastical assemblies, commonly called classes, to make head against Cartesianism, and not to permit that imperious philosophy to make such encroachments upon the domain of theology. The states of Holland not only approved of this resolution, but also gave it new force and efficacy by a public edict, issued out the very same year, by which both the professors of philosophy and theology were forbidden either to explain the writings of Des Cartes to the youth under their care, orto illustrate the doctrines of the gospel by the principles of philosophy. It was further resolved, in an assembly of the clergy, held at Delft the year following, that no candidate for holy orders should be received into the ministry before he made a solemn declaration that he would neither promote the Cartesian philosophy, nor disfigure the divine
o See Baillet's Vie de M. Des Cartes, tom. ii. chap. v. p. 33. Daniel, Voyage du Monde de Des Cartes, tom. i. de ses Oeuvres, p. 84.
The senti. timents of Coc. ceius concerning the Holy
simplicity of religion, by loading it with foreign ornaments. Laws of a like tenor were afterward passed in the United Provinces, and in other countries. But, as there is in hu- . man nature a strange propensity to struggle against authority, and to pursue, with a peculiar degree of ardour, things that are forbidden, so it happened, that all these edicts proved insufficient to stop the progress of Cartesianism, which, at length, obtained a solid and permanent footing in the seminaries of learning, and was applied, both in the academies and pulpits, and sometimes indeed very preposterously, to explain the truths and precepts of Christianity. Hence it was, that the United Provinces were divided into the two great factions already mentioned; and that the whole remainder of this century was spent amidst their contentions and debates.
xxxi. John Cocceius, a native of Bremen, and professor of divinity in the university of Leyden, might certainly have passed for a great man, had his vast in erudition, his exuberant fancy, his ardent piety, come se and his uncommon application to the study of the Scriptures. Scriptures, been under the direction of a sound and solid judgment. This singular man introduced into theology a multitude of new tenets and strange notions, which had never before entered into the brain of any other mortal, or at least had never been heard of before his time ; for, in the first place, as has been already hinted, his manner of explaining the Holy Scriptures was totally different from that of Calvin and his followers. Departing entirely from the admirable simplicity that reigns in the commentaries of that great man, Cocceius represented the whole history of the Old Testament as a mirror, that held forth an accurate view of the transactions and events that were to happen in the church under the dispensation of the New Testament, and unto the end of the world. He even went so far as to maintain, that the miracles, actions, and sufferings of Christ and of his Apostles, during the course of their ministry, were types and images of future events. He affirmed, that by far the greatest part of the ancient prophecies foretold Christ's ministry and mediation, and the rise, progress, and revolutions of the church, not only under the
p Frid. Spanheim, De novissimis in Belgio dissidiis, tom. ii. opp. p. 959. The reader may also consult the historians of this century, such as Arnold, Weismann, Jager, Caroli, and also Walchius's Histor, Controvers. Germanic. tom. iii.
figure of persons and transactions, but in a literal manner, and by the very sense of the words used in these predictions. And he completed the extravagance of this chimerical system, by turning, with wonderful art and dexterity, into holy riddles and typical predictions, even those passages of the Old Testament that seemed designed for no other purpose than to celebrate the praises of the Deity, or to convey some religious truth, or to inculcate some rule of practice. In order to give an air of solidity and plausi. bility to these odd notions, he first laid it down as a fundamental rule of interpretation, “ That the words and phrases of Scripture are to be understood in every sense of which they are susceptible; or, in other words, that they signify, in effect, every thing that they can possibly signify;" a rule this, which, when followed by a man who had more imagination than judgment, could not fail to produce very extraordinary comments on the sacred writings. After having laid down this singular rule of interpretation, he divided the whole history of the church into seven periods, conformable to the seven trumpets and seals mentioned in the Revelation. XXXII. One of the great designs formed by Cocceius,
was that of separating theology from philosophy, the doctrinal and of confining the Christian doctors, in their exology. plications of the former, to the words and phrases of the Holy Scriptures. Hence it was, that, finding in the language of the sacred writers, the gospel dispensation represented under the image of a covenant made between God and man, he looked upon the use of this image as admirably adapted to exhibit a complete and well-connected system of religious truth. But while he was labouring this point, and endeavouring to accommodate the circumstances and characters of human contracts to the dispensations of divine wisdom, which they represent in such an inaccurate and imperfect manner, he fell imprudently into some erroneous notions. Such was his opinion concerning the covenant made between God and the Jewish nation by the ministry and the mediation of Moses, of which he affirmed to be of the same nature with the new covenant obtained by the mediation of Jesus Christ.” In consequence of this general principle, he maintained, “ That the Ten Commandments were promulgated by Moses, not as a rule of obedience, but as a representation of the
part of the