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and authority of religion, and to the peace and prosperity of the Lutheran church. The present state of that church verifies too plainly this observation. It is now its fate to see few entering into its public service, who are adapted to restore the reputation it has lost, or to maintain that which it yet retains. Those who are distinguished by illustrious birth, uncommon genius, and a liberal and ingenuous turn of mind, look upon the study of theology, which had so little external honours and advantages to recommend it, as below their ambition ; and hence the number of wise, learned, and eminent ministers grows less considerable from day to day. This circumstance is deeply lamented by those among us who consider with attention the dangerous and declining state of the Lutheran church; and it is to be feared, that our descendants will have reason to lament it still more bitterly. xv. The eminent writers that adorned the Lutheran
church through the course of this century, were
ain many in number. We shall only mention those writers whom it is most necessary for a student of ecclesiastical history to be more particularly. acquainted with; such are Ægidius and Nicholas Hunnius; Leonard Hutter; Joseph and John Ernesti Gerhard ; George and Frederic Ulric Calixtus ; the Mentzers; the Oleariuses ; Frederic Baldwin; Albert Grawer; Matthias Hoe; the Carpzoviuses; John and Paul Tarnovius; John Affelman ; Eilhart Luber; the Lysers; Michael Walther; Joachim Hildebrand; Jolin Valentine Andreas ; Solomon Glassius; Abraham Calovius; Theodore Hackspan; John Hulse-, man; Jacob Weller; Peter and John Mausæus, brothers; John Conrad Danhaver ; John George Dorschæus; John Arndt; Martin Geyer; John Adam Shartzer; Balthazar and John Meisner; · Augustus Pfeiffer; Henry and John Muller; Justus Christopher Schomer; Sebastian Schmidt; Christopher Horsholt; the Osianders; Philip Jacob Spener; Geb. Theodore Meyer; Fridem. Bechman, and others.
The inost eminent Lutheran
K x It has been the ill hap even of well-designing men to fall into pernicious exo, tremes, in the controversies relating to the foundation, power, and privileges of the church. Too few have steered the middle way, and laid their plans with such equity and wisdom as to maintain the sovereignty and authority of the state, without reducing the church to a mere creature of civil policy. The reader will find a most interesting view of this nice and important subject, in the learned and ingenious bishop of Gloucester’s Alliance between Church and State, and in his Dedication of the second volume of his Divine Legation of Moses, to my lord Mansfield.
v. For an account of the lives and writings of these authors, see Witte's Memorice
XVI. The doctrine of the Lutheran church remained entire during this century ; its fundamental principles received no alteration, nor could any doctor in bistorical of that church, who should have presumed to re- sligioos.docnounce or invalidate any of those theological Lutherans. points that are contained in the symbolical books of the Lutherans, have met with toleration and indulgence. It is however to be observed, that, in later times, various circumstances contributed to diminish, in many places, the authority of these symbolical oracles, which had so long been considered as an almost infallible rule of faith and practice. Hence arose that unbounded liberty which is at this day enjoyed by all who are not invested with the character of public teachers, of dissenting from the decisions of these symbols or creeds, and of declaring this dissent in the manner they judge the most expedient. The case was very different in former times; whoever ventured to oppose any of the received doctrines of the church, or to spread new religious opinions among the people, was called before the higher powers, to give an account of his conduct, and very rarely escaped without suffering in his fortune or reputation, unless he renounced his innovations. But the teachers of novel doctrines had nothing to apprehend, when, toward the conclusion of this century, the Lutheran churches adopted that leading maxim of the Armenians, that “ Christians were accountable to God alone for their religious sentiments; and that no individual could be justly punished by the magistrate for his erroneous opinions, while he conducted himself like a virtuous and obedient subject, and made no attempts to disturb the peace and order of civil society.” It were to be wished, that this religious liberty, which the dictates of equity must approve, but of which the virtuous mind alone can make a wise and proper use, had never degenerated into that unbridled licentiousness that holds nothing sacred, but with an audacious insolence tramples under foot the solemn truths of religion, and is constantly endeavouring to throw contempt upon the respectable profession of its ministers.
XVII. The various branches of sacred erudition were cultivated with uninterrupted zeal and assiduity Sacred puilulo
Theologorum, and his Diarium Biographicum; as also Pipingius, Goesis, and other writer's of literary history.
mont wheeu among the Lutherans, who, at no period of time,
were without able commentators, and learned and faithful guides for the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. It is natural to mention here Tarnovius, Gerhard, Hackspan,. Calixtus, Erasmus, Schmidt; to whom might be added a numerous list of learned and judicious expositors of the sacred oracles. But what appears more peculiarly worthy of observation is, that the very period which some look upon as the most barren of learned productions, and the most remarkable for a general inattention to the branch of erudition now under consideration, produced that inestimable and immortal work of Solomon Glassius, which he published under the title of Sacred Philology, and than which none can be more useful for the interpretation of Scripture, as it throws an uncommon degree of light upon the language and phraseology of the inspired writers. It must, at the same time, be candidly acknowledged, that a considerable part of this century was more employed, by the professors of the different universities, in defending, with subtilty and art, the peculiar doctrines of the Lutheran church, than in illustrating and explaining the Holy Scripture, which is the only genuine source of divine truth. Whatever was worthy of censure in this manner of proceeding, was abundantly repaired by the more modern divines of the Lutheran communion; for no sooner did the rage of controversy begin to subside, than the greatest part of them turned their principal studies toward the exposition and illustration of the sacred writings; and they were particularly animated in the execution of this laborious task, by observing the indefatigable industry of those among the Dutch divines, who, in their interpretations of Scripture, followed the sentiments and method of Cocceius. At the head of these modern commentators we may place, , with justice, Sebastian Schmidt, who was at least the most laborious and voluminous expositor of this age. After this learned writer, may be ranked Calovius, Geier, Schomer, and others of inferior note. The contests excited by the persons called pietists, though unhappy in several respects, were nevertheless attended with this good effect, that they engaged many to apply themselves to the study of the Holy Scriptures, which they had too much neglected
2 See J. Franc. Budæi Isagoge in Theologiam, lib. i. cap, viji, p. 1686
before that period, and to the perusal of the commentators and interpreters of the sacred oracles. These commentators pursued various methods, and were unequal both in their merit and success. Some confined themselves to the signification of the words of Scripture, and the literal sense that belonged to the phrases of the inspired writers; others applied their expositions of Scripture to the decision of controverted points, and attacked their adversaries, either by refuting their false interpretations of Scripture,orby making use of their own commentaries to overturn their doctrines; a third sort, after unfolding the sense of Scripture, applied it carefully to the purposes of life and the direction of practice. We might mention another class of interpreters, who, by an assiduous perusal of the writings of the Cocceians, are said to have injudiciously acquired their defects, as appears by their turning the sacred history into allegory, and seeking rather the more remote and mysterious sense of Scripture, than its obvious and literal signification.
XVIII. The principal doctors of this century followed, at first, the loose method of deducing their theological doctrine from Scripture under a few general heads.
This method had been observed in ancient times by Melancthon, and was vulgarly called common- tier place divinity. They however made use of the principles, terms, and subtile distinctions of the peripatetic philosophy, which was yet in high reputation, in explaining and illustrating each particular doctrine. The first person that reduced theology into a regular system, and gave it a truly scientific and philosophical form, was George Calixtus, a man of great genius and erudition, who had imbibed the spirit of the Aristotelian school. His design, in general, was not so much censured, as the particular method he followed, and the form he gave to his theological system; for he divided the whole science of divinity into three parts, viz. the end, the subject, the means; and this division, which was borrowed from Aristotle, appeared extremely improper to many. This philosophical method of ranging the truths of Christianity was followed, with remarkable zeal and emulation, by the most eminent doctors in the different schools of learning, and even in our times it has its votaries. Some indeed had the courage to depart from it, and to exhibit the doctrines of religion under a different, though still under a scientific form ; but
The didactic theology, or articles of faiti adopted liy ibe Lutherells.
they had few followers, and struggled in vain against the empire of Aristotle, who reigned with a despotic authority in the schools.
There were however many pious and good men, who beheld, with great displeasure, this irruption of metaphysics into the sphere of theology, and never could be brought to relish this philosophical method of teaching the doctrines of Christianity. They earnestly desired to see divine truth freed from captious questions and subtilties, delivered from the shackles of an imperious system, and exhibited with that beautiful simplicity, perspicuity, and evidence, in which it appears in the sacred writings. Persons of this tum had their wishes and expectations in some measure answered, when, toward the conclusion of this century, the learned Spener and others, animated by his exhortations and example, began to inculcate the truths and precepts of religion in a more plain and popular manner, and when the eclectics had succeeded so far as to dethrone Aristotle, and to banish his philosophy from the greatest part of the Lutheran schools. Spener was not so far successful as to render universal his popular method of teaching theology; it was nevertheless adopted by a considerable number of doctors : and it cannot be denied that, since this period, the science of divinity, delivered from the jargon of the schools, has assumed a more liberal and graceful aspect. The same observation may be applied to controversial productions; it is certain that polemics were totally destitute of elegance and perspicuity so long as Aristotle reigned in the seminaries of learning, and that they were more or less embellished and improved since the suppression and disgrace of the peripatetic philosophy. It is however to be · lamented, that controversy did not lose, at this period, all the circumstances that had so justly rendered it displeasing; and that the defects, that had given such offence in the theological disputants of all parties, were far from being entirely removed. These defects still subsist, though perhaps in a less shocking degree; and whether we peruse the polemic writers of ancient or modern times, we shall find too few among them who may be said to be animated by the pure love of truth, without any mixture of pride, passion, or partiality, and whom we may pronounce free from the illusions of prejudice and self-love.