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before that period, and to the perusal of the commentators and interpreters of the sacred oracles. These commentators pursued various methods, and were unequal both in their merit and success. Some confined themselves to the signification of the words of Scripture, and the literal sense that belonged to the phrases of the inspired writers; others applied their expositions of Scripture to the decision of controverted points, and attacked their adversaries, either by refuting their false interpretations of Scripture,or hy making use of their own commentaries to overturn their doctrines; a third sort, after unfolding the sense of Scripture, applied it carefully to the purposes of life and the direction of practice. We might mention another class of interpreters, who, by an assiduous perusal of the writings of the Cocceians, are said to have injudiciously acquired their defects, as appears by their turning the sacred history into allegory, and seeking rather the more remote and mysterious sense of Scripture, than its obvious and literal signification.
XVII. The principal doctors of this century followed, at first, the loose method of deducing their theological The didactic doctrine from Scripture under a few general heads. the This method had been observed in ancient times by Melancthon, and was vulgarly called common- tevens. place divinity. They however made use of the principles, terms, and subtile distinctions of the peripatetic philosophy, which was yet in high reputation, in explaining and illustrating each particular doctrine. The first person that reduced theology into a regular system, and gave it a truly scientific and
philosophical form, was George Calixtus, a man of great genius and erudition, who had imbibed the spirit of the Aristotelian school. His design, in general, was not so much censured, as the particular method he followed, and the form he gave to his theological system ; for he divided the whole science of divinity into three parts, viz. the end, the subject, the means; and this division, which was borrowed from Aristotle, appeared extremely improper to many. This philosophical method of ranging the truths of Christianity was followed, with remarkable zeal and emulation, by the most eminent doctors in the different schools of learning, and even in our times it has its yotaries. Some indeed had the courage to depart from it, and to exhibit the doctrines of religion under a different, though still under a scientific form; but
articles of faith adopted by the Lu.
they had few followers, and struggled in vain against the empire of Aristotle, who reigned with a despotic authority in the schools.
There were however many pious and good men, who beheld, with great displeasure, this irruption of metaphysics into the sphere of theology, and never could be brought to relish this philosophical method of teaching the doctrines of Christianity. They earnestly desired to see divine truth freed from captious questions and subtilties, delivered from the shackles of an imperious system, and exhibited with that beautiful simplicity, perspicuity, and evidence, in which it appears in the sacred writings. Persons of this turn had their wishes and expectations in some measure answered, when, toward the conclusion of this century, the learned Spener and others, animated by his exhortations and example, began to inculcate the truths and precepts of religion in a more plain and popular manner, and when the eclectics had succeeded so far as to dethrone Aristotle, and to banish his phiiosophy from the greatest part of the Lutheran schools. Spener was not so far successful as to render universal his popular method of teaching theology; it was nevertheless adopted by a considerable number of doctors: and it cannot be denied that, since this period, the science of divinity, delivered from the jargon of the schools, has assumed a more liberal and graceful aspect. The same observation may be applied to controversial productions; it is certain that polemics were totally destitute of elegance and perspicuity so long as Aristotle reigned in the seminaries of learning, and that they were more or less embellished and improved since the suppression and disgrace of the peripatetic philosophy. It is however to be lamented, that controversy did not lose, at this period, all the circumstances that had so justly rendered it displeasing; and that the defects, that had given such offence in the theological disputants of all parties, were far from being entirely removed. These defects still subsist, though perhaps in a less shocking degree; and whether we peruse the polemic writers of ancient, or modern times, we shall find too few among them who may be said to be animated by the pure love of truth, without any mixture of pride, passion, or partiality, and whom we may pronounce free from the illusions of prejudice and self-love.
The state of moral science among
XIX. The science of morals, which must ever be esteemed the master science, from its immediate influence upon life and manners, was, for a long time, neglected among the Lutherans. If we except a few therans. eminent men, such as Arndt and Gerhard, who
composed some popular treatises concerning the internal worship of the Deity, and the duties of Christians, there did not appear, during the greater part of this century, any moral writer of distinguished merit
. Hence it happened, that those who applied themselves to the business of resolving what are called cases of conscience, were held in high esteem, and their tribunals were much frequented. But as the true principles and foundations of morality were not, as yet, established with a sufficient degree of precision and evidence, their decisions were often erroneous, and they were liable to fall into daily mistakes. Calixtus was the first who separated the objects of faith from the duties of morality, and exhibited the latter under the form of an independent science. He did not indeed live to finish this work, the beginning of which met with universal applause ; his disciples however employed, with some degree of success, the instructions they had received from their master, in executing his plan, and composing a system of moral theology. This system, in process of time, fell into discredit, on account of the peripatetic form under which it appeared; for, notwithstanding the striking repugnance that there is, in the very nature of things, between the beautiful science of morals, and the perplexing intricacies of metaphysics, Calixtus could not abstain from the latter in building his moral system. The moderns however stripped morality of the peripatetic garment, calling to their assistance the law of nature, which had been explained and illustrated by Puffendorf and other authors, and comparing this law with the sacred writings, they not only discovered the true springs of Christian virtue, and entered into the true spirit and sense of the divine laws, but also digested the whole science of morals in a better order, and demonstrated its principles with a new and superior degree of evidence.
xx. These improvements in theology and morality did not diffuse such a spirit of concord in the Lutheran church, as was sufficient to heal ancient divisions, the Lutheran or to prevent new ones. That church; on the con
trary, was involved in the most lamentable commotions and tumults, during the whole course of this century, partly by the controversies that arose among its most eminent doctors, and partly by the intemperate zeal of violent reformers, the fanatical predictions of pretended prophets, and the rash measures of innovators, who studiously spread among the people new, singular, and, for the most part, extravagant opinions. The controversies that divided the Lutheran doctors may be ranged under two classes, according to their different importance and extent, as some of them involved the whole church in tumult and discord, while others were less universal in their pernicious effects. Of the former class there were two controversies, that gave abundant exercise to the polemic talents of the Lutheran doctors during the greatest part of this century; and these turned upon the religious systems that are generally known under the denominations of syncretism and pietism. Nothing could be more amiable than the principles that gave rise to the former, and nothing more respectable and praiseworthy than the design that was proposed by the latter. The syncretists,' animated with that fraternal love and
pacific spirit, which Jesus Christ had so often recommended as the peculiar characteristics of his true disciples, used their warmest endeavours to promote union and concord among Christians; and the pietists had undoubtedly in view the restoration and advancement of that holiness and virtue, that had suffered so much by the influence of licentious manners on the one hand, and by the turbulent spirit of controversy on the other. These two great and amiable virtues, that gave rise to the projects and efforts of the two orders of persons now mentioned, were combated by a third, even a zeal for maintaining the truth, and preserving it from all mixture of error. Thus the love of truth was unhappily found to stand in opposition to the love of union, piety, and concord; and thus, in this present critical and corrupt state of human nature, the unruly and turbulent passions of men can, by an egregious abuse, draw the worst consequences from the best things, and render the most excellent principles and views productive of confusion, calamity, and discord.
a The Syncretists were also called Caliclines, from their chief, George Calixtus ; and Helmstadians, from the university where their plan of doctrine and union took its rise.
XXI. The origin of syncretism was owing to George Calixtus of Sleswick, a man of eminent and distin- The rise of the guished abilities and merit, and who had few neretistical or equals in this century, either in point of learning or genius. This great man being placed in a university, which, from the very time of its foundation, had been remarkable for encouraging freedom of inquiry, improved this happy privilege, examined the respective doctrines of the various sects that bear the Christian name, and found, in the notions commonly received among divines, some things defective and erroneous. He accordingly gave early intimations of his dissatisfaction with the state of theology, and lamented, in a more particular manner, the divisions and factions that reigned among the servants and disciples of the same great master. He therefore turned his views to the salutary work of softening the animosities produced by these divisions, and showed the warmest desire, not so much of establishing a perfect harmony and concord between the jarring sects, which no human power seemed capable of effecting, as of extinguishing the hatred and appeasing the resentment, which the contending parties discovered too much in their conduct toward each other. His colleagues did not seem at all averse to this pacific project; and the surprise that this their silence or acquiescence must naturally excite, in such as are acquainted with the theological spirit of the seventeenth century, will be diminished, when it is considered, that the professors of divinity at Helmstadt bind themselves, at their admission, by an oath, to use their best and most zealous endeavours to heal the divisions, and terminate the contests that prevail among Christians. Neither Calixtus, however, nor his friends, escaped the opposition that it was natural to expect in the execution of such an unpopular and comprehensive project. They were warmly attacked, in the year 1639, by Statius Buscherus, a Hanoverian ecclesiastic, a bigoted votary of Ramus, a declared enemy to all philosophy, and a man of great temerity and imprudence. This man, exasperated at the preference Calixtus and his companions had given to the peripatetic philosophy over the principles of the Ramists, composed a very malignant
b. The university of Helmstadt, in the dutchy of Brunswick, founded in the year