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was called the sectarian philosophy,' in that country. The first seminary of learning that adopted the measures of Thomasius was that of Halle in Saxony, where he was profressor; they were afterward followed by the rest of the German schools, by some sooner, and by others later; and from thence a spirit of philosophical liberty began to spread itself into other countries, where the Lutheran religion was established. So that, toward the conclusion of this century, the Lutherans enjoyed a perfect liberty of conducting their philosophical researches in the manner they judged the most conformable with truth and reason, of departing fronr'the mere dictates of authority in matters of science, and of proposing publicly every one his respective opinions. This liberty was not the consequence of any positive decree of the state, nor was it inculcated by any law of the church; it seemed to result from that invisible disposal of things, which we call accident, and certainly proceeded from the efforts of a few great men, seconding and exciting that natural propensity toward free inquiry, that can never be totally extinguished in the human mind. Many employed this liberty in extracting, after the manner of the ancient eclectics, what they thought most conformable to reason, and most susceptible of demonstration, from the productions of the different schools, and connecting these extracts in such a manner as to constitute a complete body of philosophy. But some made a yet more noble use of this inestimable privilege, by employing, with indefatigable zeal and industry, their own faculties in the investigation of truth, and building upon solid and unchangeable principles a new and sublime system of philosophy. At the head of these we may place Leibnitz, whose genius and labours have deservedly rendered his name immortal."
In this conflict between the reformers of philosophy and the votaries of Aristotle, the latter lost ground from day to day, and his system, in consequence of the extremes that reformers often fall into, grew so disgusting and odious, that condemnation was passed on every part of it. Hence the science of metaphysics, which the Grecian sage had
S t By the Sectarian philosophers were meant those who followed implicitly some one of the ancient philosophical sects, without daring to use the dictates of their private judgment, to correct or modify the doctrines or expressions of these hoary guides.
u The curious reader will find an accurate and ample account of this revolution in philosophy, in the learned Brucker's Historia Chritica Philosophiæ.
considered as the master science, as the original fountain of all true philosophy, was spoiled of its honours, and fell into contempt; nor was the authority and influence even of Des Cartes, who also set out, in his inquiries, upon metaphysical principles, sufficient to support it against the prejudices of the times. However, when the first heat of opposition began to cool, and the rage of party to subside, this degraded science was not only recalled from its exile, by the interposition and credit of Leibnitz, but was also reinstated in its former dignity and lustre..
XII. The defects and vices of the Lutheran clergy have The virtues been circumstantially exposed, and even exagand Letters.com gerated, by many writers, who seem to require in doctors. the ministers of the gospel a degree of perfection, which ought indeed always to be aimed at, but which no. wise observer of human nature can ever hope to see generally reduced to practice. These censurers represent the leading men of the Lutheran church as arrogant, contentious, despotic, and uncharitable; as destitute of Chris.' tian simplicity and candour; fond of quibbling and dispute ; judging of all things by the narrow spirit of party; and treating with the utmost antipathy and aversion those that differ from them ever so little in religious matters. The less considerable among the Lutheran doctors were charged with ignorance, with a neglect of the sacred duties of their station, and with a want of talent in their character as public teachers. And the whole body were accused of avarice, laziness, want of piety, and corruption of manners.
It will be acknowledged, without difficulty, by those who have studied with attention and impartiality the genius, manners, and history of this century, that the Lutheran clergy are not wholly irreproachable with respect to the matters that are here laid to their charge, and that many Lutheran churches were under the direction of pastors who were highly deficient, some in zeal, others in abilities, many in both, and consequently ill qualified for propagating the truths of Christianity with wisdom and success. But this reproach is not peculiarly applicable to the seventeenth century; it is a general charge, that, with too much truth, may be brought against all the ages of the church. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged, by all such as are not blinded by ignorance or partiality, that the whole ofthe Lutheranclergy did not consist of these unworthy pas
vident from some that during theses of the pulpita to pro
times in which
tors, and that many of the Lutheran doctors of this century were distinguished by their learning, piety, gravity, and wisdom. Nay, perhaps it might be difficult to decide, whether in our times, in which some pretend that the sanctity of the primitive doctors is revived in several places, there be not as many that do little honour to the pastoral character as in the times of our ancestors. It must further be observed, that many of the defects which are invidiously charged upon the doctors of this age, were in a great measure owing to the infelicity of the times. They were the unhappy effects of those public calamities which a dreadful war, of thirty years duration, produced in Germany; they derived strength from the influence of a corrupt education, and were sometimes encouraged by the protection and countenance of vicious and profligate magistrates,
XIII. That the vices of the Lutheran clergy were partly owing to the infelicity of the times, will appear The vices of evident from some particular instances. It must there be acknowledged, that during the greatest part of wino hube this century, neither the discourses of the pulpit they lived. nor the instructions of the schools were adapted to promote among the people, just ideas of religion, or to give them a competent knowledge of the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. The eloquence of the pulpit, as some ludicrously and too justly represent it, was reduced, in many places, to the noisy art of bawling, during a certain space of time measured by a sand-glass, upon various points of theology, which the orators understood but very little, and which the people did not understand at all; and when the important doctrines and precepts of Christianity were introduced in these public discourses, they were frequently disfigured by tawdry and puerile ornaments, wholly inconsistent with the spirit and genius of the divine wisdom that shines forth in the gospel, and were thus, in a great measure, deprived of their native beauty, efficacy, and power. All this must be confessed; but perhaps it may not appear surprising, when all things are duly considered. The ministers of the gospel had their heads full of sonorous and empty words, of trivial distinctions and metaphysical subtilties, and very ill furnished with that · kind of knowledge that is adapted to touch the heart and to reform the life; they had also few models of true elo
quence before their eyes; and therefore it is not much to be wondered, if they dressed out their discourses with fo: reign and tasteless ornaments.
The charge brought against the universities, that they spent more time in subtile and contentious controversy, than in explaining the holy Scriptures, teaching the duties of morality, and promoting a spirit of piety and virtue, though too just, yet may also be alleviated by considering the nature and circumstances of the times. The Lutherans were surrounded with a multitude of adversaries, who obliged them to be perpetually in a posture of defence; and the Roman catholics, who threatened their destruction, contributed, in a more particular manner, to excite in their doctors that polemic spirit, which unfortunately became a habit, and had an unhappy influence on the exercise both of their academical and pastoral functions. In time of war, the military art not only becomes singularly respectable, but is preferred, without hesitation, before all others, on account of its tendency to maintain the inestimable blessings of liberty and independence; and thus, in the midst of theological commotions, the spirit of controversy, by becoming necessary, gains an ascendant, which, even when the danger is over, it is unwilling to lose. It were indeed ardently to be wished, that the Lutherans had treated with more mildness and charity those who differed from them in religious opinions, and had discovered more indulgence and forbearance toward such, more especially, as by ignorance, fanaticism, or excessive curiosity, were led into error, without pretending nevertheless to disturb the public tranquillity by propagating their particular systems. But they had unhappily imbibed a spirit of persecution in their early education; this was too much the spirit of the times, and it was even a leading maxim with our ancestors, that it was both lawful and expedient to use severity and force against those whom they looked upon as heretics. This maxim was derived from Rome; and even those who separated from that church did not find it easy to throw off, all of a sudden, that despotic and uncharitable spirit that had so long been the main spring of its government, and the general characteristic of its members. Nay, in their narrow views of things, their very piety seemed to suppress the generous movements of fraternal love and forbearance; and the more they felt themselves animated with a zeal for the di-,
which suppreign was idle, whiccolid and
vine glory, the more difficult did they find it to renounce that ancient and favourite maxim, which had so often been ill interpreted and ill applied, that Whoever is found to be an enemy to God, ought also to be declared an enemy to his country." . xiv. There were few or no changes introduced, during this century, into the form of government, the The method of worship, and the external rites and ce- asticato law of remonies of the Lutheran church. Many altera- the Lulberairs. tions would indeed have been made in all these, had the princes and states of that communion judged it expedient to put in execution the plans that had been laid by Thomasius, and other eminent men, for reforming its ecclesiastical polity. These plans were built upon a new principle, which supposed, that the majesty and supreme authority of the sovereign was the only source of church power. On this fundamental principle, which these great men took all imaginable pains to prove, by solid and striking arguments, they raised a voluminous system of laws, which, in the judgment of many, evidently tended to this conclusion; that the same sovereign who presides in the state ought to rule in the church; that prince and pontiff are inseparable characters; and that the ministers of the gospel are not the ambassadors of the Deity, but the deputies or vicegerents of the civil magistrate. These reformers of Lutheranism did not stop here; they reduced within narrower bounds the few privileges and advantages that the clergy yet retained, and treated many of the rites, institutions, and customs of our church, as the remains of popish superstition. Hence an abundant source of contention was opened, and a long and tedious controversy was carried on with warmth and animosity between the clergy and civilians. We leave others to determine with what views these debates were commenced and fomented, and with what success they were respectively carried on by the contending parties. We shall only observe, that their effects and consequences were unhappy, as in many places they proved, in the issue, detrimental to the reputation of the clergy, to the dignity
I w It were to be wished that the Lutherans had not, in many places, persevered in these severe and despotic principles longer than other Protestant churches. Until this very day, the Lutherans of Francfort on the Maine have always refused to permit the reformed to celebrate public worship within the bounds, or even in the suburbs of that city. Many attempts have been made to conquer their obstinacy in this respect, but hitherto without success.