« הקודםהמשך »
Such was the fanatical extravagance of Daniel Hoffman, professor at Helmstadt, who discovered, in this controversy, an equal degree of ignorance and animosity; and such also were the followers of Robert Fludd, Jacob Behmen, and the Rosecrucians, who boasted of having struck out, by the assistance of fire and divine illumination, a new, wonderful, and celestial system of philosophy, of which mention has already been made. These adversaries of the stagirite were divided among themselves, and this dimi-, nished the strength and vigour of their opposition to the common enemy. But had they been ever so closely united in their sentiments and measures, they would not have been able to overturn the empire of Aristotle, which was deeply rooted in the schools through long possession, and bad a powerful support in the multitude of its votaries and defenders.
xi. The peripatetic system had still more formidable adversaries to encounter in Des Cartes and Gassendi, whose writings were composed with that per- calaquina spicuity and precision that rendered them singu- sains ground. larly agreeable to many of the Lutheran doctors of this century, and made them look with contempt on that obsolete and barren philosophy of the schools, which was expressed in uncouth terms and barbarous phrases, without taste, eleganoe, or accuracy. The votaries of Aristotle beheld with envy these new philosophers, used their most zealous endeavours to bring them into discredit, and, for this
purpose, represented their researches and principles as highly detrimental to the interests of religion and the growth of true piety. But when they found, by experience, that these methods of attack proved unsuccessful, they changed their manner of proceeding, and, like a prudent general, who, besieged by a superior force, abandons his outworks and retires into the citadel, they relinquished much of their jargon, and defended only the main and essential principles of their system. To render these principles more palatable, they began to adorn them with the graces of elocution, and to mingle with their philosophical tenets the charms of polite literature. They even went
They even went so far as to confess that Aristotle, though the prince of philosophers, was chargeable with errors and defects, which it was both lawful and
s See above, in the General History of the Church, F xxx VOL. IV.
expedient to correct. But these concessions only served to render their adversaries more confident and enterprising, since they were interpreted as resulting from a consciousness of their weakness, and were looked upon as a manifest acknowledgment of their defeat. In consequence of this, the enemies of the stagirite renewed their attacks with redoubled impetuosity, and with a full assurance of victory; nor did they confine them to those branches of the peripatetic philosophy which were allowed by its votaries to stand in need of correction, but levelled them, without distinction, at the whole system, and aimed at nothing less than its total dissolution. Grotius, indeed, who marched at the head of these philosophical reformers, proceeded with a certain degree of prudence and moderation. Puffendorf, in treating of the law of nature, and of the duties of morality, threw off, with more boldness and freedom, the peripatetic yoke, and pursued a method entirely different from that which had been hitherto observed in the schools. This freedom drew upon him a multitude of enemies, who loaded him with the bitterest reproaches; his example was nevertheless followed by Thomasius, profes
or of law in the academy at Leipsic, and afterward at Halle, who attacked the peripatetics with new degrees of vehemence and zeal. This eminent man, though honourably distinguished by the excellence of his genius and the strength of his resolution, was not perhaps the properest person that could be pitched upon to manage the interests of philosophy. His views nevertheless were vast; he aimed at the reformation of philosophy in general, and of the peripatetic system in particular; and he assiduously employed both the power of exhortation and the influence of example, in order to persuade thè Saxons to reject the Aristotelian system, which he had never read, and which most certainly he did not understand. The scheme of philosophy that he substituted in its place, was received with little applause, and soon sunk into oblivion; but his attempt to overturn the system of the peripatetics, and to restore the freedom of philosophical inquiry, was attended with remarkable success, made, in a little time, the most rapid progress, and produced such admirable effects, that Thomasius is justly looked upon, to this day, as the chief of those bold spirits who pulled down philosophical tyranny from its throne in Germany, and gave a mortal blow to what
was called the sectarian philosophy,' in that country. The first seminary of learning that adopted the measures of Thomasius was that of Halle in Saxony, where he was profressor; they were afterward followed by the rest of the German schools, by some sooner, and by others later; and from thence a spirit of philosophical liberty began to spread itself into other countries, where the Lutheran religion was established. So that, toward the conclusion of this century, the Lutherans enjoyed a perfect liberty of conducting their philosophical researches in the manner they judged the most conformable with truth and reason, of departing from the mere dictates of authority in matters of science, and of proposing publicly every one his respective opinions. This liberty was not the consequence of any positive decree of the state, nor was it inculcated by any law of the church; it seemed to.result from that invisible disposal of things, which we call accident, and certainly proceeded from the efforts of a few great men, seconding and exciting that natural propensity toward free inquiry, that can never be totally extinguished in the human mind. Many employed this liberty in extracting, after the man'ner of the ancient eclectics, what they thought most conformable to reason, and most susceptible of demonstration, from the productions of the different schools, and. connecting these extracts in such a manner as to constitute a complete body of philosophy. But some made a yet more noble use of this inestimable privilege, by employing, with indefatigable zealand industry, their own faculties in the investigation of truth, and building upon solid and unchangeable principles a new and sublime system of philosophy. At the head of these we may place Leibnitz, whose genius and labours have deservedly rendered bis name immortal."
In this conflict between the reformers of philosophy and the votaries of Aristotle, the latter lost ground from day to day, and his system, in consequence of the extremes that reformers often fall into, grew so disgusting and odious, that condemnation was passed on every part of it. Hence the science of metaphysics, which the Grecian sage had
iQ t By the Sectarian philosophers were meant those who followed implicitly some one of the ancient philosophical sects, without daring to use the dictates of their private judgment, to correct or modify the doctrines or expressions of these hoary guides.
• The curious reader will find an aceurate and ample account of this revolution in philosophy, in the learned Brucker's Historia Chritica Philosophiæ.
considered as the master science, as the original fountain of all true philosophy, was spoiled of its honours, and fell into contempt; nor was the authority and influence even of Des Cartes, who also set out, in his inquiries, upon metaphysical principles, sufficient to support it against the prejudices of the times. However, when the first heat of opposition began to cool, and the rage of party to subside, this degraded science was not only recalled from its exile, by the interposition and credit of Leibnitz, but was also reinstated in its former dignity and lustre. xi. The defects and vices of the Lutheran clergy have
been circumstantially exposed, and even exagled Lutheran gerated, by many writers, who seem to require in
the ministers of the gospel a degree of perfection, which ought indeed always to be aimed at, but which no wise observer of human nature can ever hope to see generally reduced to practice. These censurers represent the leading men of the Lutheran church as arrogant, contentious, despotic, and uncbaritable; as destitute of Christian simplicity and candour; fond of quibbling and dispute ; judging of all things by the narrow spirit of party; and treating with the utmost antipathy and aversion those that differ from them ever so little in religious matters. The less considerable among the Lutheran doctors were charged with ignorance, with a neglect of the sacred duties of their station, and with a want of talent in their character as public teachers. And the whole body were accused of avarice, laziness, want of piety, and corruption of manners.
It will be acknowledged, without difficulty, by those who have studied with attention and impartiality the genius, manners, and history of this century, that the Luthefan clergy are not wholly irreproachable with respect to the matters that are here laid to their charge, and that many Lutheran churches were under the direction of pastors who were highly deficient, some in zeal, others in abilities, many in both, and consequently ill qualified for propagating the truths of Christianity with wisdom and success. But this reproach is not peculiarly applicable to the seventeenth century; it is a general charge, that, with too much truth, may be brought against all the ages of the church. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged, by all such as are not blinded by ignorance or partiality, that the whole of the Lutheran clergy did not consistof these unworthy pas
The vices of
tors, and that many of the Lutheran doctors of this century were distinguished by their learning, piety, gravity, and wisdom. Nay, perhaps it might be difficult to decide, whether in our times, in which some pretend that the sanctity of the primitive doctors is revived in several places, there be not as many that do little honour to the pastoral character as in the times of our ancestors. It. must further be observed, that many of the defects which are invidiously charged upon the doctors of this age, were in a great measure owing to the infelicity of the times. They were the unhappy effects of those public calamities which a dreadful war, of thirty years duration, produced in Germany; they derived strength from the influence of a corrupt education, and were sometimes encouraged by the protection and countenance of vicious and profligate magistrates.
XIII. That the vices of the Lutheran clergy were.partly owing to the infelicity of the times, will appear evident from some particular instances. It must ehere Luparing be acknowledged, that during the greatest part of into hich this century, neither the discourses of the pulpit they lived. nor the instructions of the schools were adapted to promote among the people, just ideas of religion, or to give them a competent knowledge of the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. The eloquence of the pulpit, as some ludicrously and too justly represent it, was reduced, in many places, to the noisy art of bawling, during a certain space of time measured by a sand-glass, upon various points of theology, which the orators understood but very little, and which the people did not understand at all; and when the important doctrines and precepts of Christianity were introduced in these public discourses, they were frequently disfigured by tawdry and puerile ornaments, wholly inconsistent with the spirit and genius of the divine wisdom that shines forth in the gospel, and were thus, in a great measure, deprived of their native beauty, efficacy, and power.
All this must be confessed; but perhaps it may not appear surprising, when all things are duly considered. The ministers of the gospel had their heads full of sonorous and empty words, of trivial distinctions and metaphysical subtilties, and very ill furnished with that kind of knowledge that is adapted to touch the heart and to reform the life; they had also few models of true elo