תמונות בעמוד

scure than to illustrate the truths of the gospel. But in process of time a very different way of thinking began to take place; and several learned men entertained a notion, that the doctrines of Christianity could not maintain their ground, if they were not supported by the aids of philosophy, and exhibited and proved in a geometrical order.

The adepts in jurisprudence, who undertook, in the last century, the revision and correction of the body of ecclesiastical law that is in force among the Lutherans, carried on their undertaking with great assiduity and spirit; and our church government would at this day bear another aspect, if the ruling powers had judged it expedient to listen to their counsels and representations. We see indeed in several places, evident proofs that the directions of these great men, relating to the external form of ecclesiastical government, discipline, and worship, are highly respected; and that their ideas, even of the doctrinal part of religion, have been more or less adopted by many. Hence it is not at all surprising, that warm disputes have arisen between them and the rulers of the church, concerning several points. The Lutheran doctors are apprehensive that, if the sentiments of certain of these reformers took place, religion would become entirely subservient to the purposes of civil policy, and be at length converted into a mere state machine; and this apprehension is not peculiar to the clergy alone, but is also entertained by some persons of piety and candour, even among the civilians.

xvi. The liberty of thinking, speaking, and writing, concerning religious matters, which began to prevail in the last century, was, in this, still further confirmed and augmented ; and it extended so far as to encourage both infidels and fanatics to pour forth

among the multitude, without restraint, all the effusions of their enthusiasm and extravagance. Accordingly we have seen, and still see, numbers of fanatics and innovators start up from time to time, and, under the influence of enthusiasm, or of a disordered brain, divulge their crude fancies and dreams among the people, by which they either delude many from the communion of the established church, or at least occasion contests and divisions of the most disagreeable kind. We mentioned formerly several of these disturbers of the tranquillity of the church, to whom we may add here the notorious names of Tennhart, Gichtelius, Uberfeld, Rosenbach, Bredel, Seizius, Roemeling,

Intestine enemies.

and many others, who either imagined that they were divinely inspired, or, from a persuasion of their superior capacity and knowledge, set up for reformers of the doctrine and discipline of the church. Many writers drew their pens against this presumptuous and fanatical tribe ; though the greatest part of those who composed it were really below the notice of men of character, and were rather worthy of contempt than of opposition. And indeed it was not so much the force of reason and argument, as the experience of their bad success, that convinced these fanatics of their folly, and made them desist from their chimerical projects. Their attempts could not stand the trial of time and common sense; and therefore, after having made a transitory noise, they fell into oblivion. Such is the common and deserved fate of almost all the fanatical ring leaders of the deluded populace ; they start up all of a sudden, and make a figure for a while; but, generally speaking, they ruin their own cause by their imprudence or obstinacy, by their austerity or perverseness, by their licentious conduct or their intestine divisions. XVII. Many place in this fanatical class the brethren of

Herrenhut, who were first formed into a religious Horrenbutters community, in the village so named, in Lusatia, by the famous count Zinzendorff; and afterward grew so numerous, that their emigrants were spread abroad in all the countries of Europe, reached even as far as the Indies, and formed settlements in the remotest quarters, of the globe. The Herrenhutters call themselves the descendants of the Bohemian and Moravian brethren, who, in the fifteenth century, threw off the despotic yoke of Rome, animated by the zealous exhortations and heroic example of John Huss. They may however be said, with more propriety, to imitate the example of that famous community, than to descend from those who composed it; for it is well known that there are very few Bohemians and Moravians in the fraternity of the Herrenhutters; and it is extremely doubtful, whether even this small number are to be considered as the posterity of the ancient Bohemian brethren, that distinguished themselves so early by their zeal for the reformation.

If we are to give credit to the declarations of the Herrenhutters, they agree with the Lutherans in their doctrine and opinions, and only differ from them in their ecclesiastical discipline, and in those religious institutions and rules

of life which form the resemblance between the Bohemian brethren and the disciples of Zinzendorff. There are indeed many who doubt much of the truth of this declaration, and suspect that the society now under consideration, and more especially their rulers and ringleaders, speak the language of Lutheranism, when they are among the Lutherans, in order to obtain their favour and indulgence; and those who have examined this matter with the most attention, represent this fraternity as composed of persons of different religions, as well as of various ranks and orders. Be that as it may, it is at least very difficult to guess the reason that induces them to live in such an entire state of separation from the Lutheran communion, and to be so ambitiously zealous in augmenting their sect, if the only difference between them and the Lutherans lies in the nature of their discipline, and in certain rites and institutions that do not belong to the essence of religion. For the true and genuine followers of Jesus Christ are but little concerned about the outward forms of ecclesiastical government and discipline, knowing that real religion consists in faith and charity, and not in external rites and institutions.

in | It is somewhat surprising to hear Dr. Mosheim speak in such vague and general terms of this sect, without taking the least notice of their pernicious doctrines and their flagitious practices, that do not only disfigure the sacred truths of the gospel, but also sap all the foundations of morality. To be persuaded of this, the reader, beside the accounts wbich Rimius has given of this enormous sect, will do well to consult & curious preface, prefixed to the French translation of a Pastoral Letter against Fanaticism, addressed by Mr. Stinstra, an Anabaptist minister in Friesland, to his congregation, and published at Leyden in the year 1752. It may not be amiss to add here a passage, relating to this odious community, from the bishop of Gloucester's treatise, entitled The Doctrine of Grace. The words of that great and eminent prelate are as follows: “As purity respects practice, the Moravians give us little trouble. If we may credit the yet unconfuted relations, both in print and in MS. composed by their own members, the Participants in their most sacred mysterious rites, their practices in the consummation of marriage are so horribly, so unspeakably flagitious, that this people seem to have no more pretence to be put into the number of Christian sects, than the Turlupins of the thirteenth century, a vagabond crew of miscreants, who rambled over Italy, France, and Germany, calling themselves the brothers and sisters of the free spirit, who in speculation, professed that species of Atheism called Pantheism, and in practice, pretended to be exempted from all the obligations of morality and religion.” See Doctrine of Grace, 12mo. vol. ii. p. 152. As to the doctrines of this sect, they open a door to the most licentious effects of fanaticism. Such among many others are the following, drawn from the express declarations of count Zinzendorff, the head and founder of the community. That the law is not a rule of life to a believer; that the moral law belongs only to the Jews ; that a converted person cannot sin against light. But of all the singularities for which this sect is famous, the notions they entertain of the organs of generation in both sexes are the most enormously wild and extravagant. “ I consider," says count Zinzendorff, in one of his sermons, "the parts for distinguishing both seres in Christians, as the most honourable of the whole body, my Lord and God having partly inhabited them, and partly worn them himself.” This raving sectary looks upon the conjugal act as a piece of scenery, in which the male represents Christ, the husband of souls, and the female the church. “ The married brother," says he, " knows matrimony, respects it, but does not think upon it of his own accord; and thus the precious member of the covenant, i. e. the penis, is so much forgot, becomes

The state of philosophy among the Lutherans.

XVIII. It was the opinion of many, that the succours

of philosophy were absolutely necessary to stem the torrent of superstition, and stop its growing

progress, and that these alone were adapted to accomplish this desirable purpose. Hence the study of philosophy, which, toward the conclusion of the last century, seemed to decline, was now revived, established upon a more rational footing, and pursued with uncommon assiduity and ardour. The branch of philosophy, which is commonly known under the denomination of metaphysics, was generally preferred, as it leads to the first principles of things; and the improvements made in this important science were very considerable. These improvements were owing chiefly to the genius and penetration of the immortal Leibnitz, who cast a new light upon metaphysics, and gave this interesting branch of philosophy a more regular form. This science received a still greater degree of perfection from the philosophical labours of the acute and indefatigable Wolf, who reduced it into a scientific order, and gave its decisions the strength and evidence of a geometrical demonstration. Under this new and respectable form it captivated the attention and esteem of the greatest part of the German philosophers, and of those in general who pursue truth through the paths of strict evidence; and it was applied with great ardour and zeal to illustrate and confirm the great truths both of natural and revealed religion. This application of the first philosophy gave much uneasiness to some pious men, who were extremely solicitous to preserve pure and unmixed the doctrines of Christianity; and it was accordingly opposed by them with great eagerness and obstinacy. Thus the ancient contest between philosophy and theology, faith and reason, was unhappily revived, and has been carried on with much animosity for several years past. For many are of opinion, that this metaphysical philosophy inspires youthful minds with notions that are far from being favourable to the doctrines, and more especially to the positive institutions, of religion; that, seconded by the

so useless, and consequently is reduced to such a natural numbness, by not being used, that afterward, when he is to marry, and use it, the Saviour must restore him from this deadness of body. And when an Esther by grace, and sister according to her make, gets sight of this member, her senses are shut up, and she holily perceives, that God the Son was a boy.

Ye holy matrons, who as wives are about your vicechrists, honour that precious sign with the utmost veneration." We beg the chaste reader's pardon for presenting him with this odious specimen of the horrors of the Moravian theology.

The Wer

warmth of fancy, at that age of levity and presumption, it engenders an arrogant contempt of divine revelation, and an excessive attachment to human reason, as the only infallible guide of man; and that, instead of throwing new light on the science of theology, and giving it an additional air of dignity, it has contributed, on the contrary, to cover it with obscurity, and to sink it into oblivion and contempt.

xix. In order to justify this heavy charge against the metaphysical philosophy, they appeal to the writings of Laurent Schmidt, whom they com- slation of"ibe monly call the Wertheim interpreter, from the Bible. place of his residence. This man, who was by no means destitute of abilities, and had acquired a profound knowledge of the philosophy now under consideration, undertook, some years ago, a new German translation of the Holy Scriptures, to which he prefixed a new system of theology, drawn up in a geometrical order, that was to serve him as a guide in the exposition of the sacred oracles. This undertaking proved highly detrimental to its author, as it drew upon him from many quarters severe marks of opposition and resentment; for, scarcely had he published the five books of Moses, as a specimen of his method and abilities, when he was not only attacked by several writers, but also brought before the supreme tribunal of the empire, and there accused as an enemy of the Christian religion, and a caviller at divine truth. This severe charge was founded upon this circumstance only, that he had boldly departed from the common explication of certain passages in the books of Moses, which are generally supposed to prefigure the Messiah. On this account he was cast into prison, and his errors were looked upon as capitally criminal; but he luckily escaped the vigilance of his keepers, and saved himself by flight.

XX. The bare indication of the controversies that have divided the Lutheran church since the commence- The controment of this century would make up a long list. perto con led The religious contests that were set on foot by the dig den besten

a m Dr. Mosheim gives here but the half of the accusation brought against Schmidt, in the year 1737, when he was charged with attempting to prove, that there was not the smallest trace or vestige of the doctrine of the Trinity, nor any prediction pointing out the Messiah, to be found in the five books of Moses. It was by the authority of an imperial edict, addressed by Charles VI. to the princes of the empire, that Schmidt was imprisoned. VOL. IV.


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