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and actions." This doctrine was represented by Corvinus and his associates as the same which had been formerly held by Schwenckfeld, and was professed by the mystics in general. But whoever will be at the pains to examine with attention the various writings of Rathman on this subject, must soon be convinced, that his adversaries either misunderstood his true sentiments, or wilfully mireprésented them. His real doctrine may be comprised in the four following points : “First, that the divine word, contained in the holy Scriptures, is endowed with the power of healing the minds of men, and bringing them to God; but that, secondly, cannot exert this power in the minds of . corrupt men, who resist its divine operation and influence; and that of consequence, thirdly, it is absolutely necessary, that the word be preceded or accompanied by some divine energy, which may prepare the minds of sinners to receive it, and remove those impediments that oppose its efficacy; and fourthly, that it is by the power of the holy spirit, or internal word, that the external word is rendered incapable of exerting its efficacy in enlightening and sanctifying the minds of men."" There is indeed some difference between these opinions and the doctrine commonly received in the Lutheran church, relating to the efficacy of the divine word; but a careful perusal of the writings of Rathman on this subject, and a candid examination of his inaccurate expressions, will persuade the impartial reader, that this difference is neither great nor important; and he will only perceive, that this pious man had not the talent of expressing his notions with order, perspicuity, and precision. However that may have been, this contest grew more general from day to day, and at length extended its polemic influence through the whole Lutheran church, the greatest part of whose members followed the example of the Saxon doctors in condemning Rathman, while a considerable number, struck with the lustre of his piety, and persuaded of the innocence of his doctrine, espoused his cause. In the year 1628, when this controversy was at the greatest height, Rathman died, and then the warmth and animosity of the contending parties subsided gradually, and at length ceased.
w See Mollerus’s Cimbria Literata, tom. iii. p. 559. Hartknocli's German work, en. titled, Preussische Kirchen Geschichte, book iii. ch. viii. p. 812. Arnold's Kirchen und Ketzer Ilistorie, p. iii. ch. xvi. p. 115.
XXXVIII. It would be repugnant to the true end of history, as well as to all principles of candour and Priva equity, to swell this enumeration of the controver- troversies. sies that divided the Lutheran church, with the private disputes of certain individuals concerning some particular points of doctrine and worship. Some writers have indeed followed this method, not so much with a design to enrich their histories with a multitude of facts, and to show men and opinions in all their various aspects, as with a view to render the Lutherans ridiculous or odious. In the happiest times, and in the best modelled communities, there will always remain sufficient marks of human imperfection, and abundant sources of private contention, at least in the imprudence and mistakes of some, and the impatience and severity of others; but it must betray a great want of sound judgment, as well as of candour and impartiality, to form a general estimate of the state and character of a whole church upon such particular instances of imperfection and error. Certain singular opinions and modes of expression were censured by many in the writings of Tarnovius and Affelman, two divines of Rostoch, who were otherwise men of distinguished merit. This however will surprise us less, when we consider that these doctors often expressed themselves improperly, when their sentiments were just; and that, when their expressions were accurate and proper, they were frequently misunderstood by those who pretended to censure them. Joachim Lutkeman, a man whose reputation was considerable, and, in many respects, well deserved, took it into his head to deny that Christ remained true man during the three days that intervened between his death and resurrection. This sentiment appeared highly erroneous to many; hence arose a contest, which was merely a dispute about words, resembling many other debates which, like bubbles, are incessantly swelling and vanishing on the surface of human life. Of this kind, more especially, was the controversy which, for some time, exercised the talents of Boetius and Balduin, professors of divinity, the former at Helmstadt, and the latter at Wittemberg, and had for its subject the following question, “Whether or no the wicked shall one day be restored to life by the merits of Christ.” In the dutchy of Holstein, Reinboth distinguished himself by the singularity of his opinions. After the example of Calixtus, he reduced
ed the fundamental doctrines of religion within narrower bounds than are usually prescribed to them; he also considered the opinion of those Greeks, who deny that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, as an error of very little consequence. In both these respects, his sentiments were adopted by many; they however met with opposition from several quarters, and were censured, with peculiar warmth, by the learned John Conrad Danhaver, professor of divinity at Strasburg ; in consequence of this, a kind of controversy was kindled between these two eminent men, and was carried on with more vehemence than the nature and importance of the matters in debate could well justify. But these and other contests of this nature must not be admitted into that list of controversies, from which we are to form a judgment of the internal state of the Lutheran church during this century.
. XXXIX. We cannot say the same thing of certain controThe debates versies, which were of a personal rather than a
real nature, and related to the orthodoxy or unand Arndt. soundness of certain men, rather than to the truth or falsehood of certain opinions ; for these are somewhat more essentially connected with the internal state and history of the church, than the contests last mentioned. It is not unusual for those, who professedly embark in the cause of declining piety, and aim, in a solemn, zealous, and public manner, at its revival and restoration, to be elated with high and towering views, and warm with a certain enthusiastic, though noble fervour. This elevation and ardour of mind is by no means a source of accuracy and preci. sion; on the contrary, it produces many unguarded expressions, and prevents men of warm piety from forming their language by those rules which are necessary to render it clear, accurate, and proper; it frequently dictates expressions and phrases that are pompous and emphatic, but, at the same time, allegorical and ambiguous; and leads pious and even sensible men to adopt uncouth and vulgar forms of speech, employed by writers whose style is as low and barbarous as their intentions are upright and pious, and whose practical treaties on religion and mo
relating to Prætorius
x For an account of all these controversies in general, see Arnoldi Histor. Eccles. et Hæret. p. ii. lib. xvii. cap. vi. p. 957. That which was occasioned by Reinboth is amply and circumstantially related by Mollerus, in his Introductio ad Historiam Chersonesi Cimbricæ, p, it. p. 190, and in his Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 692.
rality have nothing recommendable but the zeal and fervour with which they are penned. Persons of this warm and enthusiastical turn fall with more facility than any other set of men into the suspicion of heresy, on account of the inaccuracy of their expressions. This many doctors found to be true, by a disagreeable experience, during the course of this century; but it was, in a more particular manner, the fate of Stephen Prætorius, minister of Solzwedel, and of John Arndt, whose piety and virtue have rendered his memory precious to the friends of true religion. Prætorius had, so early as the preceding century, composed certain treatises, designed to revive a spirit of vital religion, and awaken in the minds of men a zeal for their future and eternal interests. These productions, which were frequently republished during this century, were highly applauded by many, while, in the judgment of others, they abounded with expressions and sentiments, that were partly false, and partly adapted by their ambiguity to lead men into error. It cannot be denied, that there are in the writings of Prætorius some improper and unguarded expressions, that may too easily deceive the ignorant and unwary, as also several marks of that credulity that borders upon weakness; but those who peruse his works with impartiality will be fully persuaded of the uprightness of his intentions.
The unfeigned piety and integrity of Arndt could not secure him from censure. His famous book concerning true Christianity, which is still perused with the utmost pleasure and edification by many persons eminent for the sanctity of their lives and manners, met with a warm and obstinate opposition. Osiander, Rostius, and other doctors, inyeighed against it with excessive bitterness, pretended to find in it various defects, and alleged, among other things, that its style was infected with the jargon of the Paracelsists, Weigelians, and other mystico chymical philosophers. It must indeed be acknowledged, that this eminent man entertained a high disgust against the philosophy, that, in his time, reigned in the schools; nor can it be denied, that he had a high, perhaps an excesrive degree of respect for the chymists, and an ill-placed confidence in their obscure decisions and pompous undertakings. This led him sometimes into conversation with those fantastic philosophers, who by the power and mi
nee of resy that he had reigned is
nistry of fire, pretended to unfold both the secrets of nature and the mysteries of religion. But, notwithstanding this, he was declared exempt from any errors of moment .by a multitude of grave and pious divines, among whom were Egard, Dilger, Breler, Gerhard, and Dorschæus : and in the issue the censures and opposition of his adversaries seemed rather to cast a new lustre upon his reputation than to cover him with reproach. We may place in the class now under consideration, Valentine Weigelius, a minister of the church of Zscopavia in Misnia; for though he died in the preceding century, yet it was in this that the greatest part of his writings were published, and also censured as erroneous and of a dangerous tendency. The science of chymistry, which at this time was making such a rapid progress in Germany, proved also detrimental to this ecclesiastic; who, though in the main a man of probity and merit, neglected the paths of right reason, and chose rather to wander in the devious wilds of a chimerical philosophy.
XL. There were a set of fanatics among the Lutherans, Jacob Bohmi who in the flights of their enthusiasm far surpassus, or Boemen. ed those now mentioned, and who had such a high notion of their own abilities as to attempt melting down the present form of religion, and casting a new system of piety after a model drawn from their wanton and irregular fancies; it is "with some account of the principal of these spiritual projectors that we shall conclude the history of the Lutheran church during this century,
At the head of this visionary tribe we may place Jacob Behmen, a tailor at Gorlitz, who was remarkable for the multitude of his patrons and adversaries, and whom his admirers commonly called the German Theosophist. This man had a natural propensity toward the investigation of mysteries, and was fond of abstruse and intricate inquiries of every kind; and having partly by books and partly by conversation with certain physicians, acquired some knowledge of the doctrine of Robert Fludd and the Rosicrusians, which was propagated in Germany with great os
y See Arnoldi Hist. Eccles. et Heretica, p. ii. lib. xvii. cap. vi. p. 940. Weismanni Histor. Eccles. Sæc. xvii. p. 1174, 1189. Godof. Balth. Scharfii Supplementum Historie, Litisque Arndtianæ. Wittem. 1727, in 8vo.
z There is an account of Weigelius, more ample than impartial, given by Amold, loc. cit. lib. xvii. cap. xvii. p. 1088. a Viz. Tobias Kober and Balthazar Walther,