תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

and all the obligations of religion, were fulfilled by an obedience to this law, republished and explained by Jesus Christ. To render this doctrine more defensible and specious, or at least to get rid of a multitude of arguments and express declarations that might be drawn from the holy Scriptures to prove its absurdity, he boldly rejected all the books of the New Testament. The small number of disciples that adopted the fancies of this intrepid innovator, were denominated semijudaizers. Had he appeared in our times, he would have given less offence than at the period in which he lived; for, if we except his singular notion concerning the Messiah, his doctrine was such as would at present be highly agreeable to many persons in Great Britain, Holland, and other countries."

CHAPTER II.

HISTORY OF THE REFORMED CHURCH.

The limits of the reformed

rended.

1. It has been already observed, that the reformed.

of church, considered in the most comprehensive, dhe reformed sense of that term, as forming a whole, composed tended. of a great variety of parts, is rather united by the principles of moderation and fraternal charity, than by a perfect uniformity in doctrine, discipline, and worship. It will therefore be proper to take, first a view of those events that related to this great body collectively considered; and afterward to enter into a detail of the most memorable occurrences that happened in the particular communities of which it is composed. The principal accessions it received during this century have already been mentioned, when, in the history of the Lutheran church, we related the changes and commotions that happened in the princi

k See Gustavi Georgii Zeltneri “Historia Crypto Socinismi Altorffini,' vol. i. p. 268, 335.

DPI We are much-at a loss to know what Dr. Mosheim 'means by this insinuation, as also the persons he has in view ; for, on the one hand, it is sufficiently evident, that he cannot mean the Deists ; and, on the other, we know of no denomination of Christians, who boldly reject all the books of the Vero Testament. Our author probably meant, that the part of Seidel's doctrine which represents Christ's mission as only designed to republish, and interpret the law of nature, and the whole religious and moral duty of man as consisting in an obedience to this law, would have been well received by many persons in Great Britain and Holland; but he should have said so; nothing requires such precision as accusations,

palities of Hessia and Brandenburg. These however were not the only changes that took place in favour of the reformed church. Its doctrine was embraced, about the commencement of this.century, by Adolphus, duke of Holstein, and it was naturally expected, that the subjects would follow the example of their prince; but this expectation was disappointed, by the death of Adolphus, in the year 1616." Henry, duke of Saxony, withdrew also from the communion of the Lutherans, in whose religious principles he had been educated; and, in the year 1688, embraced the doctrine of the reformed church at Dessaw, in consequence, as some allege, of the solicitations of his dutchess." In Denmark, about the beginning of this century, there were still a considerable number of persons who secretly espoused the sentiments of that church, and more especially could never reconcile themselves to the Lutheran doctrine of Christ's “ bodily presence with the sacrament of the eucharist.” They were confirmed in their attachment to the tenets of the reförmed by Hemmingius, and other followers of Melancthon, whose secret ministry and public writings were attended with considerable success. The face of things however changed; and the reformed in Denmark saw their expectations vanish, and their credit sink, in the year 1614, when Canut, bishop of Gottenburg, who had given too plain intimations of his propensity to the doctrines of Calvin, was deprived of his episcopal dig, nity. The progress of the reformed religion in Africa, Asia, and America, is abundantly known; it was carried into these distant regions by the English and Dutch emigrants, who formed settlements there for the purposes of commerce, and founded flourishing churches in the various provinces where they fixed their habitations. It is also known, that in several places where Lutheranism was es..

Canut, mnish, and reforme, The

Asia, and he progress of was deprins of his

m See section i. part ii. chap. i. 1 i. ii. where the History of the Lutheran Church commences with an account of the loss that church sustained by the secession of Maurice, landgrave of Hesse Cassel, and John Sigismund, elector of Brandenburg, who embraced solemnly the doctrine of the Reformed Church, the former in 1604, and the latter in 1614.

n Jo. Molleri ‘Introd. ad Histor. "Chersonesi Cimbricæ,' p. ii. p. 101. Eric. Pontoppidani · Annales Ecclesiæ Danicæ Diplomatici,' tom. iii. p. 691.

o See Moebii Selectæ Disp. Theolog. p. 1137. The duke of Saxony published to the world a Confession of his Faith, containing the reasons of his change. This piece, which the divines of Leipsic were obliged by a public order to refute, was defended against their attacks by the learned Isaac de Beausobre, at that time pastor at Magdeburg, in a book, entitled, 'Defense de la Doctrine des Reformees, et en particulier de la Confession de S. A. S. Misgr. le Duc Henry de Saxe conire un Livre compose par la Faculte de Theologie a Leipsic.' Magdeb. 1694, in 8vo. • p Pontoppidan. Annal. Eccles. Danicæ, tom. iii. p. 695. VOL. Iv.

tablished, the French, German, and British members' of the reformed church were allowed the free exercise of their religion.

II. Of all the calamities that tended to diminish the inThe decline of fluence, and eclipse the lustre, of the reformed

ed church, none was more dismal in its circumFrance. stances, and more unhappy in its effects, than the deplorable fate of that church in France. From the time of the accession of Henry IV. to the throne of that kingdom, the reformed church had acquired the form of a body politic. Its members were endowed with considerable privileges; they were also secured against insults of every kind by a solemn edict, and were possessed of several fortified places, particularly the strong city of Rochelle; in which, to render their security still more complete, they were allowed to have their own garrisons. This body politic was not indeed always under the influence and direction of leaders eminent for their prudence, or distinguished by their permanent attachment to the interests of the crown, and the person of the sovereign. Truth and candour oblige us to acknowledge, that the reformed conducted themselves, on some occasions, in a manner inconsistent with the demands of à regular subordination. Sometimes amidst the broils and tumults of faction, they joined the parties that opposed the government; at others, they took important steps without the king's approbation or consent; nay, they went so far as to solicit, more than once, without so much as disguising their measures, the alliance and friendship of England and Holland, and formed views which, at least in appearance,, were scarcely consistent with the tranquillity of the kingdom, nor with a proper respect for the authority of its monarch. Hence the contests and civil broils that arose, in the year 1621, and subsisted long, between Louis XIII. and his protestant subjects; and hence the severe and despotic maxim of Richelieu, the first minister of that monarch, that the kingdom of France could never enjoy the sweets of peace, nor the satisfaction that is founded upon the assurance of public safety, before the protestants were deprived of their towns and strong holds, and before their rights and privileges, together with their ecclesiastical polity, were crushed to pieces, and totally suppressed. This haughty minister, after many violent efforts and hard struggles, obtained at length his purpose ; for, in the year 1628, the town of Rochelle, the chief bulwark of the reformed interest in France, was taken, after a long and difficult siege, and annexed to the crown. From this fatal event, the reformed party in France, defenceless and naked, dates its decline; since, after the reduction of their chief city, they had no other resource than the pure clemency and generosity of their sovereign. Those who judge of the reduction of this place by the maxims of civil policy, consider the conduct of the French court as entirely consistent with the principles both of wisdom and justice; since nothing can be. more detrimental to the tranquillity and safety of the nation, than a body politic erected in its bosom, independent on the supreme authority of the state, and secured against its influence or inspection by an external force. And had the French monarch, satisfied with depriving the protestants of their strong holds, continued to maintain them in the possession of that liberty of conscience, and that free exercise of their religion, for which they had shed so much blood, and to the enjoyment of which their eminent services to the house of Bourbon had given them such a fair and illustrious title, it is highly probable they would have borne with patience this infraction of their privileges, and the loss of that liberty which had been confirmed to them by the most solemn edicts.

the reformed church in

q Imperium in imperio, i. e. an empire within an empire.

III. But the court of France, and the despotic views of its minister, were not satisfied with this success. Th Having destroyed that form of civil policy that and tyranical had been annexed to the reformed church as a hacer crom security for the maintenance of its religious privi- curt. leges, and was afterward considered as detrimental to the supreme authority of the state, they proceeded still further; and, regardless of the royal faith, confirmed by the most solemn declarations, perfidiously invaded those privileges of the church that were merely of a spiritual and religious nature. At first, the court, and the ministers of its tyranny, put in practice all the arts of insinuation and persua

The injurions and tyranvical treatment it receives from the French

r See Le Clerc Vie de Cardinal Richelieu, tom. i. p. 69, 77, 177, 199, 269. Le Vassor, Histoire de Louis XIII. tom. iii. p. 676, tom. iv. p. 1, and the following volumes. See also the Memoirs of Sully, the friend and confidant of Henry IV. who, though a Protestant, acknowledges frankly the errors of his party, vol. iii. iv. v.

sion, in order to gain over the heads of the reformed church, and the more learned and celebrated ministers of that communion. Pathetic exhortations, alluring promises, artful interpretations of those doctrines of popery that were most disagreeable to the protestants; in a word, every insidious method was employed to conquer their aversion to the church of Rome. Richelieu exhausted all the resources of his dexterity and artifice, and put into execution, with the most industrious assiduity, all the means that he thought the most adapted to seduce the protestants into the Romish communion. When all these stratagems were observed to produce little or no effect, barbarity and violence were employed to extirpate and destroy a set of men, whom mean perfidy could not seduce, and whom weak arguments were insufficient to convince. The most inhuman laws that the blind rage of bigotry could dictate, the most oppressive measures that the ingenious efforts of malice could invent, were put in execution, to damp the courage of a party, that were become modious by their resolute adherence to the dictates of their consciences, and to bring them by force under the yoke of Rome. The French bishops distinguished themselves by their intemperate and unchristian zeal in this horrid scene of persecution and cruelty; many of the protestants sunk under the weight of despotic oppression, and yielded up their faith to armed legions that were sent to convert them; several fled from the storm, and deserted their families, their friends, and their country; and by far the greatest part persevered, with a noble. and heroic constancy, in the purity of that religion, which their ancestors had delivered, and happily separated, from the manifold superstitions of a corrupt and idolatrous church. IV. When at length every method which artifice or per

fidy could invent had been practised in vain et or against the protestants, under the reign of Louis

XIV. the bishops and Jesuits, whose counsels had a peculiar influence in the cabinet of that prince, judged it necessary to extirpate, by fire and sword, this resolute people; and thus to ruin, as it were, by one mortal blow, the cause of the reformation in France. Their insidious arguments and importunate solicitations had such an effect upon the weak and credulous mind of Louis, that, in the year 1685, trampling on the most solemn obligations, and re

The edict or Nantes revoked.

« הקודםהמשך »