« הקודםהמשך »
by many of the reformed doctors in Switzerland, Germany, and more especially in Holland, who lament, in the most sorrowful strains, the decline of the ancient purity and strictness that characterized the doctrine and discipline of the church, and sometimes attack, with the strong. est marks of indignation and resentment,these modern contemners of primitive orthodoxy. But as the moderate party has an evident superiority in point of numbers, power, and influence, these attacks of their adversaries are, generally speaking, treated with the utmost indifference. XXII. Whoever therefore considers all these things with
due attention, will be obliged to acknowledge, Projects of re. that neither the Lutherans nor Arminians have at
this day, any furthersubject of controversy or de
bate with the reformed church, considered in a general point of view, but only with individuals, with private persons that are members of this great community.
union between the reformed and the Lutherans.
as diminishing the weight of those controversies which separate them from each other. One of the circumstances that made ine fall more easily into this mistake, was my having read, the moment before I committed it, Dr. Mosheim's insinuation with respect to the spirit of the church of England in the very next page, where he says very inconsiderately, “that we may judge of that spirit by the conduct of Dr. Wake, who formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each of the two communities should retain the greatest part of their peculiar doctrines.” This is supposing, though upon the foundation of a mistaken fact, that the church of England, at least, is making evident approaches to the church of Rome. When I had made the mistake, which turned realiy an encomium into an accusation, I thought it incumbent on me to defend the reformed church against the charge of an approximation to popery. For this purpose I observed, in note z of the 4to. edition," that the reformed churches were never at such a distance from the spirit and doctrine of the church of Rome as they are at this day; and that the improvements in science, that characterize the last and the present age, seem to render a relapse into Romish superstition morally impossible in those who have been once delivered from its baneful influence.” The ingenious author of the Confessional did not find this reasoning conclusive ; and the objections he has started against it do not appear to me unsurmountable. I have therefore thrown upon paper some far. ther thoughts upon the present state of the reformed religion, and the influence of im. provements in philosophy upon its advancement; and these thoughts the reader will find in the second appendix.
iss Granting this to be true, with respect to the Arminians, it cannot be affirmed with equal truth, in regard to the Lutherans, whose doctrine concerning the corporal presence of Christ in the eucharist, and the communication of the properties of his divine, to his human nature, is rejected by all the reformed churches, without exception. But it is not universally true, even with respect to the Arminians; for though these latter are particularly favoured by the church of England ; though Arminianism may be said to have become predominant among the members of that church, or at least to bave lent its influence in mitigating some of its articles in the private sentiments of those who subscribe them; yet the Thirty-Nine Articles of the church of England still maintain their authority; and when we judge of the doctrine and discipline of any church, it is more natural to form this judgment from its established Creeds and Confession of Faith, than from the sentiments and principles of particular persons.
So that, with respect to the church of England, the direct contrary of what Dr. Mosheim asserts is strictly true ; for it is rather with that church, and its rule of faith, that the Lutherans are at variance, than with private persons, who, prompted by a spirit of Christian moderation, mitigate some of its doctrines, in order charitably to extend the limits of its communion. But, if we turn our view to the reformed cburches in Hol
For the church, considered in its collective and general character, allows now to all its members the full liberty of entertaining the sentiments they think most reasonable, in relation to those points of doctrine that formerly excluded the Lutherans and Arminians from its communion, and looks upon the essence of Christianity and its fundamental truths as in nowise affected by these points, however variously they may be explained by the contending parties. But this moderation, instead of facilitating the execution of the plans that have been proposed by some for the reunion of the Lutheran and Reformed churches, contributes rather to prevent this reunion, or at least to render it much more difficult. For those among the Lutherans, who are zealous for the maintenance of the truth, complain, that the Reformed church has rendered too wide the way of salvation, and opened the arms of fraternal love and communion, not only to us, Lutherans, but also to Christians of all sects and all denominations. Accordingly we find that when, about twenty years ago, several eminent doctors of our communion, with the learned and celebrated Matthew Pfaff at their head, employed their good offices with zeal and sincerity in order to our union with the Reformed church; this pacific project was so warmly opposed by the greatest part of the Lutherans, that it came to nothing in a short time."
XXII. The church of England, which is now the chief and leading branch of that great community that the present goes under the denomination of the Reformed sinte of the church, continues in the same state, and is govern
church of Eng land.
land, Germany, and a part of Switzerland, the mistake of our author will appear still more palpable; for some of these churches consider certain doctrines, both of the Arminians and Lutherans, as a just cause of excluding them from their communion. The question here is not, whether this rigour is laudable; it is the matter of fact that we are examining at present. The church of England indeed, if we consider its present temper and spirit, does not look upon any of the errors of the Lutherans as fundamental, and is therefore ready to receive them into its communion ; and the same thing. may, perhaps, be affirmed of several of the reformed churches upon the continent. But this is very far from being a proof, that the Lutherans have at this day, as Dr. Mosheim asserts, no further subject of controversy or debate with these churches ; it only proves, that these churches nourish a spirit of toleration and charity worthy of imitation.
ist The project of the very pious and learned Dr. Pfaff for uniting the Lutheran and reformed churches, and the reasons on which he justified this project, are worthy of the truly Christian spirit, and do honour to the accurate and sound judgment of that most eminent and excellent divine. * And it is somewhat surprising, considering the proofs of moderation and judgment that Dr. Mosheim has given in other parts of this valuable history, that he neither mentions the project of Dr. Pfaff with applause, nor the stiffness of the Lutherans on this occasion, with any mark of disapprobation.
CF* See this learned author's Collectio Scriptorum Irenicorum ad Unionem inter Protestantes facientium, published in 4to. at Hall in Saxony, in the year 1723.
ed by the same principles, that it assumed at the revolution under the reign of king William III. The established form of church government is Episcopacy, which is embraced by the sovereign, the nobility, and the greatest part of the people. The Presbyterians, and the numerous sects of different denominations that are comprehended under the general title of Nonconformists, enjoy the sweets of religious liberty under the influence of a legal toleration. Those indeed who are best acquainted with the present state of the English nation, tell us, that the dissenting interest declines from day to day, and that the cause of Nonconformity owes this gradual decay, in a great measure, to the lenity and moderation that are practised by the rulers of the established church. The members of this church may be divided into two classes, according to their different ideas of the origin, extent, and dignity of Episcopal jurisdiction. For some look upon the government of bishops to be founded on the authority of a divine institution, and are immoderately zealous in extending the power and prerogatives of the church; others, of a more mild and sedate spirit, while they consider the Episcopal form of government as far superior to every other system of ecclesiastical polity, and warmly recommend all the precautions that are necessary to its preservation and the independence of the clergy, yet do not carry this attachment to such an excessive degree, as to refuse the name of a church to every religious community that is not governed by a bishop, or to defend the prerogatives and pretensions of the Episcopal order with an intemperate zeal." These two classes are sometimes involved in warm debates, and
each other with no small degree of animosity, of which this present century has exhibited the following remarkable example. Dr. Benjamin Hoadley, the present bishop of Winchester, a prelate eminently distinguished by the accuracy of his judgment, and the purity of his flowing and manly eloquence, used his utmost endeavours, and not without success, to lower the authority of the church, or at least to
LPu The learned and pious archbishop Wake, in a letter to father Courrayer, dated from Croyden House, July 9, 1724, expresseth himself thus : “I bless God that I was born and have been bred in an Episcopal church ; which I am convinced has been the government established in the Christian church from the very time of the apostles. But I should be unwilling to affirm, that where the ministry is not Episcopal, there is no church nor any true administration of the sacraments. And very many there are among us who are zealous for Episcopacy, yet dare not go so far as to annul the ordinances of God performed by any other ministry,
reduce the power of its rulers within narrow bounds. On the other hand, the church and its rulers found several able defenders; and, among the rest, Dr. John Potter, now archbishop of Canterbury, who maintained the rights and
pretensions of the clergy with great eloquence and erudition. As to the spirit of the established church of England, in relation to those who dissent from its rule of doctrine and government, we see it nowhere better than in the conduct of Dr. Wake, archbishop of Canterbury, who formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each of the two communities should retain the greatest part of their respective and peculiar doctrines.w
xxiv. The unbounded liberty which every individual in England enjoys of publishing, without restraint, his religious opinions, and of worshipping God in the manner he thinks the most conformable to reason and Scripture, naturally produces a variety of sects, and gives rise to an uninterrupted succession of controversies about theological matters. It is scarcely possible for any historian, that has not resided for some time in England, and examined with attention, upon the spot, the laws, the privileges, the factions, and opinions of that free and happy people, to give a just and accurate account of these religious sects and controversies. Even the names of the greatest part of these sects have not as yet reached us, and many of those that are come to our knowledge, we know but imperfectly. We are greatly in the dark with respect to the grounds and principles of these controversies, because we are destitute of the sources from whence proper information must be drawn.' At present the ministerial labours of George Whitefield, who has formed a
Various sects in England. Whitefield.
Do w Archbishop Wake certainly corresponded with some learned and moderate Frenchmen on this subject, particularly with Du Pin, the ecclesiastical historian ; and no doubt the archbishop, when he assisted Courrayer in his Defence of the validity of the English Ordinations, by furnishing him with unanswerable proofs drawn from the registers at Lambeth, had it in his view to remove certain groundless prejudices, which, while they subsisted among Roman Catholics, could not but deseat all projects of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches. The interests of the Protestant religion could not be in saser hands than archbishop Wake's. He who had so ably and so successfully defended Protestantism, as a controversial writer, could not surely form any project of peace and union with a Roman Catholic church, the terms of which would have reflected on his character as a negotiator. QP This note has been misunderstood and censured by the acute author of the Confessional. This censure gave occasion to the third Appendix, which the reader will find at the end of this volume, and in which the matter contained in this note is fully illustrated, and the conduct of archbishop Wake set in its true light.
the Dutch cburch.
community, which he proposes to render superior in sancm tity and perfection to all other Christian churches, make a considerable noise in England, and are not altogether destitute of success. If there is any consistency in this man's theological system, and he is not to be looked upon as an enthusiast, who follows no rule but the blind impulse of an irregular fancy, his doctrine seems to amount to these two propositions ; “ That true religion consists alone in holy affections, and in a certain inward feeling, which it is impossible to explain ; and that Christians ought not to seek truth by the dictates of reason, or by the aids of learning, but by laying their minds open to the direction and influence of divine illumination." xxv. The Dutch church is still divided by the contro
versies that arose from the philosophy of Des The state of Cartes and the theology of Cocceius; though
these controversies be carried on with less bitterness and animosity at present than in formertimes. It is even to be hoped that these contests will soon be totally extinguished ; since it is well known that the Newtonian philosophy has expelled Cartesianism from almost all the academies and schools of learning in the United Provinces. We have already mentioned the debates that were occasioned by the opinions of Roell. In the year 1703, Frederic Van Leenhof was suspected of a propensity toward the system of Spinoza, and drew upon him a multitude of adversaries, on account of a remarkable book, entitled Heaven upon Earth ; in which he maintained literally, that it was the duty of Christians to rejoice always, and to suffer no feelings of affliction and sorrow to interrupt their gayety. The same accusations were brought against an illiterate man, named William Deurhoff, who, in some treatises composed in the Dutch language, represented the Divine Nature under the idea of a certain force, or energy, that is diffused throughout the whole universe, and acts in every part of the great fabric. The most recent controversies that have made a noise in Holland, were those that sprung from the opinions of Mr. James Saurin, and Mr. Paul Maty, on two very different subjects. The former, who was minister of the French in the Hague, and acquired a shining reputation by his genius and eloquence, fell into an error, which, if it may be called such, was at least an error of a very pardonable kind. For, if we ex