« הקודםהמשך »
banism, when's and ring
of life which form the resemblance between the Bohemian brethren and the disciples of Zinzendorff. There are indeed many who doubt much of the truth of this declaration, and suspect that the society now under consideration, and more especially their rulers and ringleaders, speak the language of Lutheranism, when they are among the Lutherans, in order to obtain their favour and indulgence; and those who have examined this matter with the most attention, represent this fraternity as composed of persons of different religions, as well as of various ranks and orders. Be that as it may, it is at least very difficult to guess the reason that induces them to live in such an entire state of separation from the Lutheran communion, and to be so ambitiously zealous in augmenting their sect, if the only difference between them and the Lutherans lies in the nature of their discipline, and in certain rites and institutions that do not belong to the essence of religion. For the true and genuine followers of Jesus Christ are but little concerned about the outward forms of ecclesiastical government and discipline, knowing that real religion consists in faith and charity, and not in external rites and institutions.'
La I It is somewhat surprising to hear Dr. Mosheim speak in such vague and general terms of this sect, without taking the least notice of their pernicious doctrines and their flagitious practices, that do not only disfigure the sacred truths of the gospel, but also sap all the foundations of morality. To be persuaded of this, the reader, beside the accounts which Rimius has given of this enormous sect, will do well to consult a curious preface, prefixed to the French translation of a Pastoral Letter against Fanaticism, addressed by Mr. Stinstra, an Anabaptist minister in Friesland, to his congregation, and published at Leyden in the year 1752. It may not be amiss to add here a passage, relating to this odious community, from the bishop of Gloucester's treatise, entitled The Doctrine of Grace. The words of that great and eminent prelate are as follows: “As purity respects practice, the Moravians give us little trouble. If we may credit the yet unconfuted relations, both in print and in MS. composed by their own members, the Participants in their most sacred mysterious rites, their practices in the consummation of marriage are so horribly, so unspeakably flagitious, that this people seem to have no more prétence to be put into the number of Christian sects, than the Turlupins of the thirteenth century, a vagabond crew of miscreants, who rambled over Italy, France, and Germany, calling themselves the brothers and sisters of the free spirit, who in speculation, professed that species of Atheism called Pantheism, and in practice, pretended to be exempted from all the obligations of morality and religion.” See Doctrine of Grace, 12mo. vol. ii. p. 152. As to the doctrines of this sect, they open a door to the most licentious effects of fanaticism. Such among many others are the following, drawn from the express declarations of count Zinzendorff, the head and founder of the community. That the law is not a rule of life to a believer; that the moral law belongs only to the Jews; that a converted person cannot sin against light. But of all the singularities for which this sect is famous, the notions they entertain of the organs of generation in both sexes are the most enormously wild and extravagant. “I consider,” says count Zinzendorff, in one of his sermons, “the parts for distinguishing both sexes in Christians, as the most honourable of the whole body, my Lord and God having partly inhabited them, and partly worn them himself.” This raving sectary looks upon the conjugal act as a piece of scenery, in which the male represents Christ, the husband of souls, and the female the church. “ The married brother,” says he, “knows matrimony, respects it, but does not think upon it of his own accord; and thus the precious member of the covenant, i, e. the penis, is so much forgot, becomes
XVIII. It was the opinion of many, that the succours · The State of of philosophy were absolutely necessary to stem hoe Lu. the torrent of superstition, and stop its growing
progress, and that these alone were adapted to accomplish this desirable purpose. Hence the study of philosophy, which, toward the conclusion of the last century, seemed to decline, was now revived, established upon a more rational footing, and pursued with uncommon assiduity and ardour. The branch of philosophy, which is commonly known under the denomination of metaphysics, was generally preferred, as it leads to the first principles of things; and the improvements made in this important science were very considerable. These improvements were owing chiefly to the genius and penetration of the immortal Leibnitz, who cast a new light upon metaphysics, and gave this interesting branch of philosophy a more regular form. This science received a still greater degree of perfection from the philosophical labours of the acute and indefatigable Wolf, who reduced it into a scientific order, and gave its decisions the strength and evidence of a geometrical demonstration. Under this new and respectable form it captivated the attention and esteem of the greatest part of the German philosophers, and of those in general who pursue truth through the paths of strict evidence, and it was applied with great ardour and zeal to illustrate and confirm the great truths both of natural and revealed religion. This application of the first philosophy gave much uneasiness to some pious men, who were extremely solicitous to preserve pure and unmixed the doctrines of Christianity; and it was accordingly opposed by them with great eagerness and obstinacy. Thus the ancient contest between philosophy and theology, faith and reason, was unhappily revived, and has been carried on with much animosity for several years past. For many are of opinion, that this metaphysical philosophy inspires youthful minds with notions that are far from being favourable to the doctrines, and more especially to the positive institutions, of religion; that, seconded by the
so useless, and consequently is reduced to such a natural numbness, by not being used, that afterward, when he is to marry, and use it, the Saviour must restore him from this deadness of body. And when an Esther by grace, and sister according to her make, gets sight of this member, her senses are shut up, and she holily perceives, that God the Son was a boy. Ye holy matrons, who as wives are about your vicechrists, honour that precious sign with the utmost veneration.” We beg the chaste reader's pardon for presenting him with this odious specimen of the horrors of the Mo ravian theology:
The Wertheim tran
warmth of fancy, at that age of lévity and presumption, it engenders an arrogant contempt of divine revelation, and an excessive attachment to human reason, as the only infallible guide of man; and that, instead of throwing new light on the science of theology, and giving it an additional air of dignity, it has contributed, on the contrary, to cover it with obscurity, and to sink it into oblivion and contempt.
XIX. In order to justify this heavy charge against the metaphysical philosophy, they appeal to the The Werwritings of Laurent Schmidt, whom they com- slation of be monly call the Wertheim interpreter, from the place of his residence. This man, who was by no means destitute of abilities, and had acquired a profound knowledge of the philosophy now under consideration, undertook, some years ago, a new German translation of the Holy Scriptures, to which he prefixed a new system of theology, drawn up in a geometrical order, that was to serve him as a guide in the exposition of the sacred oracles. This undertaking proved highly detrimental to its author, as it drew upon him from many quarters severe marks of opposition and resentment; for, scarcely had he published the five books of Moses, as a specimen of his method and abilities, when he was not only attacked by several writers, but also brought before the supreme tribunal of the empire, and there accused as an enemy of the Christian religion, and a caviller at divine truth. This severe charge was founded upon this circumstance only, that he had boldly departed from the common explication of certain passages in the books of Moses, which are generally supposed to prefigure the Messiah. On this account he was cast into prison, and his errors were looked upon as capitally criminal; but he luckily escaped the vigilanc ce of his keepers, and saved himself by flight.
xx. The bare indication of the controversies that have divided the Lutheran church since the commence. The controment of this century would make up a long list. The religious contests that were set on foot by the ligious coure
versies called pietistical,
D m Dr. Mosheim gives here but the half of the accusation brought against Schmidt, in the year 1737, when he was charged with attempting to prove, that there was not the smallest trace or vestige of the doctrine of the Trinity, nor any prediction pointing out the Messiah, to be found in the five books of Moses. It was by the authority of an imperial edict, addressed by Charles VI. to the princes of the empire, that Schmidt was imprisoned. VOL. IV.
tests: dividen pietists were carried on 'in some places with ani. church. mosity, in others with moderation, according to the characters of the champions, and the temper and spirit of the people. These contests however have gradually subsided in process of time, and seem at present to be all reduced to the following question, " Whether a wicked man be capable of acquiring a true and certain knowledge of divine things, or be susceptible of any degree or species of divine illumination.” The controversy that has been excited by this question is considered by many as a mere dispute about words; its decision, at least, is rather a matter of curiosity than importance.' Many other points, that had been more or less debated in the last century, occasioned keen contests in this, such as the eternity of hell torments; the reign of Christ upon earth during a thousand years ; and the final restoration of all intelligent beings to order, perfection, and happiness. The mild and indulgent sentiments of John Fabricius, professor of divinity at Helmstadt, concerning the importance of the controversy between the Lutherans and Roman Catholics, excited also a warm debate; for this doctor, together with his disciples, went so far as to maintain, that the difference between the two churches was of so little consequence, that a Lutheran might safely embrace popery. The famous controversies that have been carried on between certain divines and some eminent civilians, concerning the rites and obligations of wedlock, the lawful grounds of divorce, and the nature and guilt of concubinage are sufficiently known. Other disputes of inferior moment, which have been of a sudden growth, and of a short duration, we shall pass over in silence, as the knowledge of them is not necessary to our forming an accurate idea of the internal state of the Lutheran church. . XXI. The reformed church still carries the same external
aspect under which it has been already descriThe state med bed. For though there be every where extant church. certain books, creeds, and confessions, by which the wisdom and vigilance of ancient times thought proper to perpetuate the truths of religion, and to preserve them from the contagion of heresy; yet in most places, no personis obliged to adhere strictly to the doctrines they contain; and
nd guilt inferior mor duration,
In This description the reader will find above, at the beginning of the last century,
those who profess the main and fundamental truths of the Christian religion, and take care to avoid too great an intimacyo with the tenets of Socinianism and popery, are deemed worthy members of the reformed church. Hence, in our times, this great and extensive community comprehends, in its bosom, Arminians, Calvinists, Supralapsarians, Sublapsarians, and Universalists, who live together in charity and friendship, and unite their efforts in healing the breach, and diminishing the weight and importance of those controversies that separate them from each other." This moderation is indeed severely censured
i n o Nimiam consuetudinem. The expression is remarkable and malignant; it would make the ignorant and unwary apt to believe, that the Reformed Church allows its members certain approaches toward popery and Socinianism, provided they do not carry these approaches too far, even to an intimate union with them. This representation of the Reformed Church is too glaringly false to proceed from ignorance ; and Dr. Mosheim's extensive knowledge places him beyond the suspicion of an involuntary mistake in this matter. It is true, this reflection bears hard upon bis candour; and we are extremely sorry that we cannot, in this place, do justice to the knowledge of that great man, without arraigning his equity.
MP p Nothing can be more unfair, or at least more inaccurate, than this representation of things. It proceeds from a supposition that is quite chimerical, even that the Reformed Churches in England, Scotland, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, &c. form one general body, and have, beside their respective and particular systems of government and discipline, some general laws of religious toleration, in consequence of which they admit a variety of sects into their communion. But this general hierarchy does not exist. The friends of the Reformation, whom the multiplied horrors and absurdities of Popery obliged to abandon the communion of Rome, were formed, in process of time, into distinct ecclesiastical bodies, or national churches, every one of which has its peculiar form of government and discipline. The toleration that is enjoyed by the various sects and denominations of Christians arises in part from the clemency of the ruling powers, and from the charity and forbearance which individuals think themselves bound to exercise, one toward another. See the following note.
p q If the different denominations of Christians here mentioned live together in the mutual exercise of charity and benevolence, notwithstanding the diversity of their theological opinions, this circumstance, which Dr. Mosheim seems to mention as a reproach, is, on the contrary, a proof, that the true and genuine spirit of the gospel, which is a spirit of forbearance, meekness, and charity, prevails among the members of the Reformed Churches. But it must be carefully observed that this charity, though it discovers the amiable bond of peace, does not, by any means, imply uniformity of sentiment, indifference about truth, or suppose that the reformed churches have relaxed or departed from their system of doctrine. Indeed, as there is no general reformed church, so there is no general reformed Creed or Confession of Faith. The established church of England has its peculiar system of doctrine and government, which remains still unchanged, and in full force ; and to which an assent is demanded from all its members, and in a more especial, solemn, and express manner from those who are its ministers. Such is the case with the national reformed churches in the United Provinces. The dissenters in these countries, who are tolerated by the state, have also their respective bonds of ecclesiastical union; and such of them, particularly in England and Ireland, as differ from the establishment only in their form of government and worship, and not in matters of doctrine, are treated with indulgence by the more moderate members of the national church, who look upon them as their brethren.
E r In the 4to. edition of this work, I mistook, in a moment of inadvertency, the construction of this sentence in the original Latin, and rendered the passage as if Dr. Mosheim had represented the reformed churches as diminishing the weight and importance of those controversies that separate them from the church of Rome; whereas he represents them, and indeed what he says is rather an encomium than a reproach,