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Dort, in Hollandaian churches, to doctors of the r
worship that was observed at Geneva. This plan was not executed without some difficulty; but it acquired a complete degree of stability and consistence in the year 1619, when deputies were sent by this prince to the synod of Dort, in Holland, with express orders to consent, in the name of the Hessian churches, to all the acts that should be passed in that assembly. The doctors of the reformed church, who lived at this period, defended strenuously the measures followed by Maurice, and maintained, that in all these transactions he observed the strictest principles of equity, and discovered an uncommon spirit of moderation. Perhaps the doctors of modern days may view this matter in a different point of light. They will acknowledge, perhaps, without hesitation, that if this illustrious prince had been more influenced by the sentiments of the wisest of the reformed doctors, concerning the conduct we ought to observe toward those who differ from us in religious matters, and less by his own will and humour, he would have ordered many things otherwise than he actually did.
II. The example of the landgrave of Hesse was followThe new refor- ed, in the year 1614, by John Sigismund, elector macion batars of Brandenburg, who also renounced Lutheranism denburg. and embraced the communion of the reformed churches, though with certain restrictions, and without employing any acts of mere authority to engage his subjects in the same measure. For it is observable, that this prince did not adopt all the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism. He introduced, indeed, into his dominions the form of public worship that was established at Geneva, and he embraced the sentiments of the reformed churches concerning the person of Christ, and the manner in which he is present in the eucharist, as they appeared to him much more conformable to reason and Scripture than the doctrine of the Lutherans relating to these points. But, on the other hand, he refused to admit the Calvinistical doctrine of divine grace, and absolute decrees; and, on this account, neither sent deputies to the synod of Dort, nor adopted the deci. sions of that famous assembly on these intricate subjects. This way of thinking was so exactly followed by the successors of Sigismund, that they never would allow the opinion of Calvin, concerning the divine decrees, to be considered as the public and received doctrine of the reformed churches in their dominions. It must be particularly mentioned, to the honour of this wise prince, that he granted to his subjects an entire liberty in religious matters, and left it to their unrestrained and free choice, whether they would remain in the profession of Lutheranism, or follow the example of their sovereign; nor did he exclude from civil honours and employments, or from the usual marks of his protection and favour, those who continued in the faith of their ancestors. This lenity and moderation, which seemed so adapted to prevent jealousy and envy, and to satisfy both parties, did not however produce this natural and salutary effect; nor were they sufficient to restrain within the bounds of decency and charity several warm and inconsiderate votaries of Lutheranism. These over-zealous persons, who breathed the violent spirit of all age, in which matters of consequence were usually carried on with vehemence and rigour, looked upon it as intolerable and highly provoking, that the Lutherans and Calvinists should enjoy the same honours and prerogatives; that all injurious terms and odious comparisons should be banished from religious debates; that the controverted points in theology should either be entirely omitted in the sermons and public discourses of the clergy, or explained with a spirit of modesty and Christian charity ; that certain rites which displeased the Calvinists should be totally abolished; and that they who differed in opinions, should be obliged to live in peace, concord, and the mutual exchange of good offices. If it was unreasonable in them to be offended at injunctions of this nature, it was still more so to discover their indignation, in a manner that excited not only sharp and uncharitable debates, but also civil commotions and violent tumults, that disturbed considerably the tranquillity of the state, and nourished a spirit of sedition and revolt, which the labour of years was employed to extinguish in vain. In this troubled state of things, the divines of Saxony, and more especially those of Wittemberg, undertook to defend the Lutheran cause ; but if it be acknowledged, on the one hand, that their views were good, and their intentions
place in Bran
• The reader will find a more ample account of this matter in the controversial writings of the divines of Cassel and Dermstadt, published at Cassel, Marpurg, and Giessen, in the years 1632, 1636, 1647; and of which Salig speaks largely in his Hist. Aug. Confess. tom. i. lib. iv. cap. ii. p. 756. Those who understand the German language may also consult Garth's Historischer Bericht von dem Religions Wesen in FursLenthum Hessen, 1706, in 4to. Cyprian's Unterricht von Kirchlicher Vereinigung der Protestanten, p. 263, and Appendix, p. 101. As also the Acts published in the Una schuldigen Nachrichten, A. 1749, p. 25.
Attempts made toward a union 'etween the Lutheran and reformed cburches,
upright; it must be owned, on the other, that their style was keen even to a degree of licentiousness, and their zeal warm beyond all measure. And indeed, as it generally happens, their want of moderation hurt, instead of promoting, the cause in which they had embarked; for it was in consequence of their violent proceedings, that the Form of Concord was suppressed in the territories of Brandenburg, and the subjects of that electorate prohibited, by a solemn edict, from studying divinity in the academy of Wittemburg. III. It was deplorable to see two churches, which had
discovered an equal degree of pious zeal and formade toward titude, in throwing off the despotic yoke of Rome, fween the divided among themselves, and living in discords
that were highly detrimental to the interests of re
ligion, and the well-being of society. Hence several eminent divines and leading men, both among the Lutherans and Calvinists, sought anxiously after some method of uniting the two churches, though divided in their opinions, in the bonds of Christian charity and ecclesiastical communion. A competent knowledge of human nature and human passions was sufficient to persuade these wise and pacific mediators, that a perfect uniformity in religious opinions was not practicable, and that it would be entirely extravagant to imagine that any of these communities could ever be brought to embrace universally, and without limitation, the doctrines of the other. They made it therefore their principal business to persuade those, whose spirits were inflamed with the heat of controversy, that the points in debate between the two churches were not essential to true religion; that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity were received and professed in both
d The edicts of Sigismund and his successors, relating to this change in the state of religion in Brandenburg, have been several times republished in one collection. Beside these, there are many books, treatises, and pamphlets, which give an account of this remarkable transaction, and of which the reader will find a complete list in the German work, entitled, Unschuldigen Nachrichten, An. 1745, p. 34, A. 1746, p. 326. compared with Jo. Carol. Kocheri Bibliotheca Theologicæ Symbolica, p. 312. The reader who desires to attain to a perfect acquaintance with this controversy, and to be able to weigh the merits of the cause, by having a true state of the case before him, will do well to consult Arnoldi, Histor. Eccles. et Hæret. p. ii. lib. xvii. c. vii. p. 965. Cyprian's Unterright von der Vereinigung der Protestant,' p. 75, and in • Append. Monum.' p. 225. Unschuldigen Nachrichten,' A. 1729, p. 1067, and A. 1732, p. 715. They who affirm that the elector's ultimate end, in changing the face of religion in his dominions, was not the prospect of augmenting and extending his authority, found their opinion rather on conjecture than on demonstration; nor do they confirm this assertion by testimonies that are sufficient to bring full conviction. It must, however, be acknowledged, on the other hand, that their conjectures have neither an absurd nor an improbable aspect.
communions; and that the difference of opinion between the contending parties, turned either upon points of an abstruse and incomprehensible nature, or upon matters of indifference, which neithertended to render mankind wiser nor better, and in which the interests of genuine piety were in no wise concerned. Those who viewed things in this point of light, were obliged to acknowledge, that the diversity of opinions between the two churches was by no means a sufficient reason for their separation ; and that of consequence they were called, by the dictates of that gospel which they both professed, to live not only in the mutual exercise of Christian charity, but also to enter into the fraternal bonds of church communion. The greatest part of the reformed doctors seemed disposed to acknowledge, that the errors of the Lutherans were not of a momentous nature, nor of a pernicious tendency: and that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity had not undergone any remarkable alteration in that communion; and thus on their side an important step was made toward peace and union between the two churches. But the greatest part of the Lutheran doctors declared, that they could not form a like judgment with respect to the doctrine of the reformed churches; they maintained tenaciously the importance of the points which divided the two communions, and affirmed, that a considerable part of the controversy turned upon the fundamental principles of all religion and virtue. It is not at all surprising, that this steadiness and constancy of the Lutherans was branded by the opposite party with the epithets of morose obstinacy, supercilious arrogance, and such like odious denominations. The Lutherans were not behind hand with their adversaries in acrimony of style; they recriminated with vehemence, and charged their accusers with instances of misconduct, different in kind, but equally condemnable.
They reproached them with having dealt disingenuously by disguising, under ambiguous expressions, the real doctrine of the reformed churches; they observed further, that their adversaries, notwithstanding their consummate prudence and circumspection, gave plain proofs, on many occasions, that their propensity to a reconciliation between the two churches arose from views of private interest, rather than from a zeal for the public good.
iv. Among the public transactions relative to the pro
ject of a union between the reformed and Lutheran of the synud churches, we must not omit mentioning the at
tempt made by James I. king of Great Britain to accomplish this salutary purpose, in the year 1615. The person employed for this end by the British monarch, was Peter du Moulin, the most eminent among the Protestant doctors in France;" but this design was neither carried on with spirit, nor attended with success. Another attempt of the same pacific nature was made in the year 1631, in the synod of Charenton, in which an act was passed by the reformed doctors of that respectable assembly, declaring the Lutheran system of religion conformable with the spirit of true piety, and free from pernicious and fundamental errors. By this act, a fair opportunity was offered to the Lutherans of joining with the reformed church upon honourable terms, and of entering into the bonds both of civil and religious communion with their Calvinistical brethren. But this candid and charitable proceeding was attended with very little fruit, since few of the Lutherans were disposed to embrace the occasion that was here so freely offered them, of terminating the dissensions that separated the two churches. The same year a conference was held at Leipsic between the Saxon doctors, Hoe, Lyser, and Hopfner, on the one side, and some of the most eminent divines of Hesse-Cassel and Brandenburg, on the other; to the end that, by exposing with fidelity and precision their respective doctrines, it might be more easily seen what the real obstacles were that stood in the way of the union projected between the two churches. This conference was conducted with decency and moderation, and the deliberations were neither disturbed by intemperate zeal, nor by a proud spirit of contention and dispute; but that openness of heart, that mutual trust and confidence, which are so essential to the success of all kinds of pacification, were wanting here. For though the doctors of the reformed party exposed, with the utmost precision,
e See La Vassor, Hist. de Louis XIII. tom. ii. p. ii. p. 21.
Tf King James, who would have abandoned the most important and noble design, at any time, to discuss a point of grammar or theology, or to gain a point of interest for himself or his minions, neglected this union of the Lutheran and reformed churches, which he had begun to promote with such an appearance of piety and zeal.
& Benoit, Histoire de l’Edit de Nantes, tom. ii. p. 544. Aymon, Actes des Synodes Nationaux des Eglises Reformées de France, tom. ii. p. 500. Ittigii Dissert. de Synodi - Carentoniensis indulgentio erga Lutheranos, Lips. 1705, 4to.