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tentation during this century, he struck out of the element of fire, by the succours of imagination, a species of theology much more obscure than the numbers of Pythagoras, or the intricacies of Heraclitus. Some have bestowed high praises on this enthusiast, on account of his piety, integrity, and sincere love of truth and virtue ; and we shall not pretend to contradict these encomiums. But such as carry their admiration of his doctrine so far as to honour him with the character of an inspired messenger of Heaven, or even of a judicious and wise philosopher, must be themselves deceived and blinded in a very high degree; for never did there reign such obscurity and confusion in the -writings of any mortal, as in the miserable productions of Jacob Behmen, which exhibit a motley mixture of chymical terms, crude visions, and mystic jargon. Among other dreams of a disturbed and eccentric fancy, he entertained the following chimerical notion; “ That the divine grace operates by the same rules, and follows the same methods, that the divine providence observes in the natural world ; and that the minds of men are purged from their vices and corruptions in the same way that metals are purified from their dross ;” and this maxim was the principle of his fire theology. Behmen had a considerable number of followers in this century, the most eminent of whom were John Lewis Gifttheil, John Angelus, Werdenhagen, Abraham Franckenberg, Theodore Tzetsch, Paul Felgenhaver, Quirinus Kulhman, John Jacob Zimmerman; and he has still many votaries and admirers even in our times. There was indeed a signal difference between his followers; some of them retained, notwithstanding their attachment to his extravagant system, a certain degree of moderation and good sense ; others of them seemed entirely out of their wits, and by their phrensy excited the compassion of those who were the spectators of their conduct; such were Kuhlman and Gichtelius, the former of whom was burnt at Moscow in the year 1684 ; but indeed it may be affirmed in general, that none of the disciples or followers of Behmen propagated his doctrine, or conducted themselves in such a manner as to do honour either to their master or to his cause in the judgment of the wise."
d It is needless to mention the writers who employed their pens in stemming the torrent of Behmen's enthusiasm. The works of this fanatic are in every body's hands, and the books that were composed to refute them are well known, and to be found every where, All that has been alleged in his favour and defence has been carefully collected
of this age.
XLI. Another class of persons, who deserve to be placed The propbets immediately after Behmen, were they, whom a
disordered brain persuaded that they were pro, phets sent from above, and that they were divinely inspired with the power of foretelling future events. A considerable number of these delirious fanatics arose during the course of this century; and more especially in that juncture when the house of Austria was employed in maintaining its power in the empire, against the united armies of Sweden, France, and Germany. It is remarkable enough, that the tribe of pretended prophets and diviners is never more numerous than at those critical and striking periods when great revolutions are expected, or sudden and heavy calamities have happened ; as such periods, and the scenes they exhibit, inflame the imagination of the fanatic, and may be turned to the profit of the impostor. The most eminent of the fanatical prophets now under consideration, were, Nicholas Drabicius, Christopher Kotter, Christina Poniatovia, who found an eloquent defender and patron in John Amos Comenio; not to mention Joachim Greulich, Anne Vetter, Mary Froelich, George Reichard, and several others, who audaciously assumed the same character. It is not necessary to enter into a more circumstantial detail of the history of this visionary tribe, since none of them arose to such a degree of reputation and consequence, as to occasion any considerable tumults by their predictions. It is sufficient to have observed in general, that, even in this century, there were among the Lutherans certain crazy fanatics, who, under the impulse of a disordered imagination, assumed the character and authority of prophets sent from above to enlighten the world.
by Arnold, who is, generally speaking, peculiarly eloquent in the praises of those whom others treat with contempt. For an account of Kuhlman, and his unhappy fate, see the German work, entitled, Unschuld Nachricht. A. 1748.
La Behmen, however, had the good fortune to meet with, in our days, a warm advocate and an industrious disciple in the late well-meaning, but gloomy and visionary, Mr. William Law, who was, for many years, preparing a new edition and translation of Behmen's works, which he left behind him, ready for the press, and which have been published in two vols. 4to. since his decease.
c Arnold is to be commended for giving us an accurate collection of the transactions and visions of these enthusiasts, in the third and fourth parts of his History of Heretics ; since those who are desirous of full information in this matter may easily see, by consulting this historian, that the pretended revelations of these prophets were no more than the phantoms of a disordered imagination. A certain pious but ignorant man, named Benedict Bahusen, who was a native of Holstein, and lived at Amsterdam about the middle of the last century, was so delighted with the writings and predictions of these fanatics, that he collected them carefully and published them. In the year 1670, a catalogue of his library was printed at Amsterdam, which was full of chymical and fanapical books:
xlii. It will not however be improper to mention somewhat more circumstantially, the case of those, who, though they did not arrive at that enormous Ezekiel saileth height of folly that leads men to pretend to divine Paul Nagel. inspiration, yet deceived themselves and deluded others, by entertaining and propagating the strangest fancies and the most monstrous and impious absurdities. Sometime after the commencement of this century, Isaiah Stiefeland Ezekiel Meth, inhabitants of Thuringia, were observed to throw out the most extraordinary and shocking expressions while they spokeof themselves and their religious attainments. These expressions, in the judgment of many, amounted to nothing less than attributing to themselves the divine glory and majesty, and thus implied a blasphemous, or rather a phrenetic, insult on the Supreme Being and his eternal Son. It is nevertheless scarcely credible, however irrational we may suppose them to have been, that these fanatics should have carried their perverse and absurd fancies to such an amazing height; and it would perhaps be more agreeable both to truth and charity to suppose, that they had imitated the pompous and turgid language of the mystic writers in such an extravagant manner, as to give occasion to the heavy accusation above mentioned. Considering the matter even in this candid and charitable light, we may see by their examples how much the constant perusal of the writings of the mystics is adapted to shed darkness, delusion, and folly into the imagination of weak and ignorant men. The reveries of Paul Nagel, professor of divinity at Leipsic, were highly absurd, but of a much less pernicious tendency than those already mentioned. This prophetic dreamer, who had received a light tincture of mathematical knowledge, pretended to see, in the position of the stars, the events that were to happen in church and state ; and, from a view of these celestial bodies, foretold, in a more particular mannér, the erection of a new and most holy kingdom in which Christ should reign here upon earth.
XLII. Christian Hoburg, a native of Lunenburg, a man of a turbulent and inconstant spirit, and not more Christian Ho
d See Arnold, Historia Eccles. et Hæret. p. iii. cap. iv. p. 32. Thomasius, in his German work, entitled Historie de Weisheit und Narrheit, vol. i. p. iii. p. 150.
e Arnold, loc. cit. p. iii. cap. v, p. 53. Andr. Caroli Memorabilia Ecclesiæ Sæo. xvii. part i, lib. iii. cap. iv. p. 513.
hurg, Frederic remarkable for his violence than for his duplicity, Seidenbecher. threw out the most bitter reproaches and invectives against the whole Lutheran church without exception, and thereby involved himself in various perplexities. He deceived indeed the multitude a long time, by his dissimulation and hypocrisy; and by a series of frauds, which he undoubtedly looked upon as lawful, he disguised so well his true character that he appeared to many, and especially. to persons of a candid and charitable turn, much less contemptible than he was in reality ; and though the acri.. mony and violence of his proceedings were condemned, yet they were supposed to be directed, not against religion itself, but against the licentiousness and vices of its professors, and particularly of its ministers. At length however the mask fell from the face of this hypocrite, who became an object of general indignation and contempt, and, deserting the communion of the Lutheran church, went over to the Mennonites. There was a striking resemblance between this petulant railer and Frederic Breckling ; the latter however surpassed even the former in impetuosity and malignity. Breckling had been pastor, first in the dutchy of Holstein, and afterward at Zwoll, a city in the United Provinces, where he was deposed from his ministry, and lived a great many years after without being attached to any religious sect or community. There are several of his writings still extant, which indeed recommend warmly the practice of piety and virtue, and seem to express the most implacable abhorrence of vicious persons and licentious manners; and yet, at the same time, they demonstrate plainly that their author was destitute of that charity, prudence, meekness, patience, and love of truth, which are the essential and fundamental virtues of a real Christian.. It is undoubtedly a just matter of surprise, that these vehement declaimers against the established religion and its ministers, who pretend to be so much more sagacious and sharp-sighted than their brethren, do not perceive a truth,
f Hoburg, in some of his petulant and satirical writings, assumed the names of Elias Prætorius and Bernard Baumann.
8 Arnold, loc. cit. p. iii. cap. xiii. p. 130. Andr. Caroli, loc. cit. vol. i. p. 1065. Jo. Hornbeck, Summa Controvers. p. 535. Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 337.
h Arnold has given an account of Breckling, in his Historia Ecclesiastica et Hæret. part iii. p. 148, and part iv. p. 1103, he has also published some of his writings, p. 1110, which sufficiently demonstrate the irregularity and exuberance of his fancy. There is a particular account of this degraded pastor given by Mollerus, in his Cimbria Literata, tom. lii. p. 72.
which the most simple may learn from daily observation; even that nothing is more odious and disgusting than an angry, petulant, and violent reformer, who comes to heal the disorders of a community, armed, as it were, with fire and sword, with menaces and terrors. It is also to be wondered, that these men are not aware of another consideration equally obvious, namely, that it is scarcely credible, that a spiritual physician will cure another with entire success of the disorders under which he himself is known to labour.
George Laurence Seidenbecher, pastor at Eisfield in Saxony, adopted himself, and propagated among the multitude, the doctrine of the millennium or thousand years reign of Christ upon earth; a doctrine which scarcely ever gains admittance but in disordered brains, and rarely produces any other fruits than incoherent dreams and idle visions. Seidenbecher was censured on account of this doctrine, and deposed from his pastoral charge.
XLIV. It would be superfluous to name the other fanatics that deserve a place in the class now before us, since they almost all laboured under the same Martin Seidel. disorder, and the uniformity of their sentiments and conduct was so perfect, that the history of one, a few instances excepted, may, in a great measure, be considered as the history of them all. We shall therefore conclude this crazy. list with a short account of the very worst of the whole tribe, Martin Seidelius, a native of Silesia, who endeavoured to form a sect in Poland toward the conclusion of the preceding century and the commencement of this, but could not find followers, even among the Socinians; so wild were his views, and so extravagant his notions. This audacious adventurer in religious novelties was of opinion, that God had indeed promised a Saviour or Messiah to the Jews; but that this Messiah had never appeared, and never would appear, on account of the sins of the Jewish people, which rendered them unworthy of this great deliverer. From hence he concluded, that it was erroneous to look upon Christ as the Messiah, that the only office of Jesus was to interpret and republish the law of nature, that had been perverted and obscured by the vices, corruptions, and ignorance of men; and that the whole duty of man,
i There is a circumstantial account of this man given by Alb. Meno Verpoorten, in his Commentat. de vita et institutis G. L. Seidenbecheri, Gedeni, 1739, 4to.