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for their founder exhibited, in his own conduct, a most austere model of sanctity and obedience, 'which his disciples and followers were obliged to imitate ; and they were taught to look for the communion of saints, not only in the invisible church, but also in the visible one, which, according to their views of things, ought to be composed of none but such persons as were distinguished by their sanctity and virtue, and by a pious progress toward perfection. There are still extant several treatises composed by Labbadie, which sufficiently discover the temper and spirit of ' the man, and carry the evident marks of a lively and glowing imagination, that was not tempered by the influence of a sober and accurate judgment. And as persons of this character are sometimes carried, by the impetuosity of passion and the seduction of fancy, both into notions and licentious pursuits, we are not perhaps to reject, in consequence of an excessive charity, the testimonies of those who have found many things worthy of censure, both in the life and doctrine of this turbulent enthusiast.
iv. Among the fanatical contemporaries of Labbadie, was the famous Antoinette Bourignon de la Porte, Bourignon a native of Flanders, who pretended to be divine- and Poiret. ly inspired, and set apart, by a particular interposition of #eaven, to revive the true spirit of Christianity, that had been extinguished by theological animosities and debates. This female enthusiast, whose religious feelings were accompanied with an unparalleled vivacity and ardour, and whose fancy was exuberant beyond all expression, joined to these qualities a volubility of tongue, less wonderful indeed, yet much adapted to seduce the unwary. Furnished with these useful talents, she began to propagate her theological system, and her enthusiastical notions made a great noise in Flanders, Holland, and some parts of Germany, where she had resided some years. Nor was it only the ignorant multitude that swallowed down with facility her visionary doctrines ; since it is well known that several learned and ingenious men were persuaded of their truth, and caught the contagion of her fanaticism. After
e See Mollerus's Cimbria Literatu, tom. iii. p. 35, et Isagoge ad Histor. Chersones. Cimbricæ, p. ii. cap. v. p. 121. Arnold, Histor. Ecclesiast. vol. i. p. ii. lib. xvii. cap. xxi. p. 1186. Weisman, Hist. Eccles. Sæc. xvii. p. 297. For an account of the two famous companions of Labbadie, viz. Du Lignon and Yvon, see Mollerus's Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 472, 1020.
experiencing various turns of fortune, and suffering much vexation and mockeries on account of her religious fancies, she ended her days at Franeker, in the province of Friesland, in the year 1680. Her writings were voluminous; but it would be a fruitless attempt to endeavour to draw from them an accurate and consistent scheme of religion. For the pretended divine light, that guides people of this class, does not proceed in a methodical way of reasoning and argument; it discovers itself by flashes, which shed nothing but thick darkness in the minds of those who investigate truth with the understanding, and do not trust to the reports of fancy, that is so often governed by sense and passion. An attentive reader will however learn something by perusing the writings of this fanatical virgin; he
; will be persuaded, that her intellect must hạve been in a disordered state ; that the greatest part of her divine effusions were borrowed from the productions of the mystics; and that, by the intemperance of her imagination, she has given an additional air of extravagance and absurdity to the tenets she has derived from these pompous enthusiasts. If we attend to the main and predominant principle that reigns throughout the incoherent productions of Bourignon, we shall find it to be the following; “ That the Christian religion neither consists in knowledge nor in practice, but in a certain internal feeling and divine impulse, that arises immediately from communion with the Deity.i" Among the more considerable patrons of
' this fanatical doctrine, we may reckon Christian Bartholomew de Cordt, a Jansenist, and priest of the oratory at Mechlin, who died at Norstrandt, in the dutchy of Sleswick; and Peter Poiret, a man of a bold and penetrating genius, who was a great master of the Cartesian philosophy. This latter has shown, in a striking manner, by his own example, that knowledge and ignorance, rea
Pr See for an ample account of Bourignon, the following writers; Moller. Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 85. Introductio in Histor. Chersonesi Cimbricæ, p. ii. p. 151. Bàyle's Dictionaire, tom. i. at the article Bourignon. Arnold, Historia Eccles. et Hæret. vol. ij.
See also Poiret's Episl. de Auctoribus Mysticis, sect. xiv. p. 565. This treatise of Poiret is inserted at the end of his book, De Eruditione Solida et Superficiaria, vol. ii. edit. 4to. g Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 149.
Poiret dressed out in an artificial manner, and reduced to a kind of system, the wild and incoherent fancies of Bourignon, in bis large work, entitled 'L'Oeconomie Divine, ou Systeme Universel,' wbich was published, both in French and Latin, at Amsterdam, in the year 1986, in seven volumes 8vo. For an account of this mystic philosopher, whose name and voluminous writings bave made guch a noise, see Bibliotheca Brem. Theolog. Philol. tom. iji. p. i. p. 75.
son and superstition, are often divided by thin partitions ; and that they sometimes not only dwell together in the same person, but also, by an unnatural and unaccountable union, lend each other mutual assistance, and thus engender monstrous productions.
v. The same spirit, the same views, and the same kind of religion that distinguished Bourignon, were the philadelobservable in an English, and also a female fana- phian Society. tic, named Jane Leadley, who, toward the conclusion of this century, seduced by her visions, predictions, and doctrines, a considerable number of disciples, among
whom there were some persons of learning; and thus gave rise to what was called the Philadelphian Society. This woman was of opinion that all dissensions among Christians would cease, and the kingdom of the Redeemer become, even here below, a glorious scene of charity, concord, and felicity, if those who bear the name of Jesus, without regarding the forms of doctrine or discipline that distinguish particular communions, would all join in committing their souls to the care of the internal guide, to be instructed, governed, and formed by his divine impulse and suggestions. Nay, she went still further, and declared in the name of the Lord, that this desirable event would happen ; and that she had a divine commission to proclaim the approach of this glorious communion of saints, who were to be gathered together in one visible universal church, or kingdom, before the dissolution of this earthly globe. This prediction she delivered with a peculiar degree of confidence, from a notion that her Philadelphian Society was the true kingdom of Christ, in which alone the divine Spirit resided and reigned. We shall not mention the other dreams of this enthusiast,among which the famous doctrine of the final restoration of all intelligent beings to perfection and happiness held an eminent place. Leadley was less fortunate than Bourignon in this respect, that she had pot such an eloquent and ingenious patron as Poiret to plead her cause, and to give an air of philosophy to her wild reveries. For Pordage and Bromley, who were the chief of her associates, had nothing to recommend them but their mystic piety and contemplative turn of mind. Pordage, more especially, was so far destitute of the powers of elocution and reasoning, that he even surpassed
Jacob Boehmen, whom he admired, in obscurity and nonsense; and, in stead of imparting instruction to his readers, did no more than excite in them a stupid kind of awe by a high-sounding jingle of pompous words
i See Jo. Wolf. Jaegeri Historia Sacra et Civilis Sæc. xvii. Decenn. I. p. 90. Petri Poireti Bibliotheca Mystycor. p. 161, 174, 283, 286.
1. The history of the Christian church, during the present age, instead of a few pages, would alone require a volume, such are the number and impor. observation. tance of the materials that it exhibits to an attentive inquirer. It is therefore to be hoped that, in due time, some able and impartial writer will employ his labours on this interesting subject. At the same time, to render the present work as complete as possible, and to give a certain clue, to direct those who teach or who study ecclesiastical history, through a multitude of facts that have not yet been gathered together, and digested into a regular order, we shall draw here a general sketch that will exhibit the principal outlines of the state of religion since the commencement of the present century. That this sketch may not swell to too great a size, we shall omit the mention of the authors who have furnished materials for this period of church history. Those that are acquainted with modern literature must know, that there innumerable productions extant, from whence such a variety of lines and colours might be taken, as would render this rough and general draught a complete and finished piece.
11. The doctrines of Christianity have been propagated in Asia, Africa, and America, with equal zeal, both by the Protestant and Popish missionaries. the perspectie But we cannot say the same thing of the true spi- renerur choda rit of the gospel, or of the religious discipline and an inte institutions that it recommends to the observance in particular. of Christians; for it is an undeniable fact, that many
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