« הקודםהמשך »
pense of truth.
that the lenity and indulgence shown by these people to persons whose opinions were erroneous, and whose errors were, by no means, of an indifferent nature, irritated their adversaries to a very high degree, and made many suspect, that the pietists laid a much greater stress upon practice than
upon belief, and separating what ought ever to be inseparably joined together, held virtuous manners in higher esteem than religious truth. Amidst the prodigious numbers that appeared in these controversies, it was not at all surprising, if the variety of their characters, capacities, and views, be duly considered, that some were chargeable with imprudence, others with intemperate zeal, and that many, to avoid what they looked upon as unlawful, fell injudiciously into the opposite extreme.
xxxii. The other class of pietists already mentioned, whose reforming views extended so far as to change the system of doctrine and the form of These restorecclesiastical government that were established in ligirno orden the Lutheran church, comprehended persons of people various characters and different ways of thinking. Some of them were totally destitute of reason and judgment; their errors were the reveries of a disordered brain ; and they were rather to be considered as lunatics than as heretics. Others were less extravagant, and tempered the singular notions, they had derived from reading or meditation, with a certain mixture of the important truths and doctrines of religion. We shall mention but a few persons of this class, and those only who are distinguished from the rest by their superior merit and reputation.
Among these was Godfrey Arnold, a native of Saxony, a man of extensive reading, tolerable parts, and richly endowed with that natural and unaffected eloquence, which is so wonderfully adapted to touch and to persuade. This man disturbed the tranquillity of the church toward the conclusion of this century, by a variety of theological productions, that were full of new and singular opinions; and more especially by his Ecclesiastical History, which he had the assurance to impose upon the public, as a work composed with candour and impartiality. His natural complexion was dark, melancholy, and austere; and these seeds of fanaticism were so expanded and nourished by the perusal of the mystic writers, that the flame of enthusiasm was kindled in his breast, and broke forth in his conduct
and writings with peculiar vehemence. He looked upon the mystics as superior to all other writers, nay, as the only depositaries of true wisdom; reduced the whole of religion to certain internal feelings and motions, of which it is difficult to form a just idea ; neglected entirely the study of truth ; and employed the whole power of his genius and eloquence in enumerating, deploring, and exaggerating, the vices and corruptions of human nature. If it is universally allowed to be the first and most essential obligation of an historian to avoid all appearance of partiality, and neither to be influenced by personal attachments nor by private resentment in the recital of facts, it must be fairly acknowledged, that no man could be less fit for writing history than Arnold. His whole history, as every one must see who looks into it with the smallest degree of attention, is the production of a violent spirit, and is dictated by a vehement antipathy against the doctrines and institutions of the Lutheran church. One of the fundamental principles that influences the judgment, and directs the opinions and decisions of this historian, throughout the whole course of his work, is, that all the abuses and corruptions, that have found admittance into the church since the time of the apostles, have been introduced by its ministers and rulers, men of vicious and abandoned characters. From this principle, he draws the following goodly consequence; that all those who opposed the measures of the clergy, or felt their resentment, were persons of distinguished sanctity and virtue; and that such, on the contrary, as either favoured the ministers of the church, or were favoured by them, were strangers to the spirit of true and genuine piety. Hence proceeded Arnold's unaccountable partiality in favour of almost all that bore the denomination of heretics ;" whom he defended with the utmost zeal, without having always understood their doctrine, and, in some cases, without having even examined their arguments. This partiality was highly detrimental to his reputation, and rendered his history peculiarly obnoxious to censure. He did not however continue in this way of thinking ; but, as he advanced in years and experience, perceived the errors into which he had been led by the impetuosity of his pas
Iso Arnold's history is thus entitled, Historia Ecclesiastica et Heretica. . Dr. Mosheim's account of this learned man, is drawn up with much severity, and parhaps is not entirely destitute of partiality. See the life of Arnold in the General Dictionary.
sions and the contagious influence of pernicious examples. This sense of his mistakes corrected the vehemence of his natural temper and the turbulence of his party spirit, so that, as we learn from witnesses worthy of credit, he became at last a lover of truth and a pattern of moderation.”
XXXIII. Arnold was far surpassed in fanatical malignity and insolence by John Conrad Dippelius, a Hessian divine, who assumed the denomination of the Dippelius. Christian Democritus, inflamed the minds of the simple by, a variety of productions, and excited considerable tumults and commotions toward the conclusion of this century. This vain, supercilious, and arrogant doctor, who seemed formed by nature for a satirist and a buffoon, instead of proposing any new system of religious doctrine and discipline, was solely employed in overturning those that were received in the protestant church. His days were principally spent in throwing out sarcasms and invectives against all denominations of Christians; and the Lutherans, to whose communion he belonged, were more especially the objects of his raillery and derision, which, on many occasions, spared not those things that had formerly been looked upon as the most respectable and sacred. It is much to be doubted, whether he had formed any clear and distinct notions of the doctrines he taught; since, in his view of things, the power of imagination domineered evidently over the dictates of right reason and common sense. But, if he really understood the religious maxims he was propagating, he had not certainly the talent of rendering them clear and perspicuous to others; for nothing can be more ambiguous and obscure than the expressions under which they are conveyed, and the arguments by which they are supported. A man must have the gift of divination to be able to deduce a regular and consistent system of doctrine from the various productions of this incoherent and unintelligible writer, who was a chymist into the bargain, and whose brain seems to have been heated into a high degree of fermentation by the fire of the elaboratory. If the rude, motley, and sarcastical writings of this wrong-headed reformer should reach posterity, it will be certainly a just matter of surprise to our descendants,
p Sec Coleri Vita Arnoldi. Noureau Diction. Hislor. et Critique, tom. i. p. 485. VOL. IV.
that a considerable number of their ancestors should have been so blind as to choose for a model of genuine piety, and a teacher of religion, a man who had audaciously violated the first and most essential principles of solid piety and sound sense." xxxiv. The mild and gentle temper of John William
Petersen, minister and first member of the eccletions and resiastical consistory of Lunenburg, distinguished
him remarkably from the fiery enthusiast now mentioned. But the mildness of this good-natured ecclesiastic was accompanied with a want of resolution, that might be called weakness, and a certain floridness and warmth of imagination, that rendered him peculiarly susceptible of illusion himself, and every way proper to lead others innocently into error. Of this he gave a very remarkable specimen in the year 1691, by maintaining publicly that Rosamond Juliana, countess of Asseburg, whose disordered brain suggested to her the most romantic and chimerical notions, was honoured with a vision of the Deity, and commissioned to make a new declaration of his will to mankind. He also revived and propagated openly the obsolete doctrine of the millennium, which Rosamond had confirmed by her pretended authority from above. This first error produced many; for error is fertile, especially in those minds where imagination has spurned the yoke of reason, and considers all its airy visions as solid and important discoveries. Accordingly, Petersen went about prophesying with his wife,' who also gave herself out for a kind of oracle, and boasted of her extensive knowledge of the secrets of heaven. They talked of a general restitution of all things, at which grand and solemn period all intelligent beings were to be restored to happiness, the gates of hell opened, and wicked men, together with evil spirits, delivered from the guilt, power, and punishment of sin. They supposed that two distinct natures, and both of them human, were united in Christ ;
q His works were all published, in the year 1747, in five volumes in 4to. and his memory is still highly honoured and respected by many, who consider him as having been, in his day, an eminent teacher of true piety and wisdom. No kind of authors find such zealous readers and patrons as those, who deal largely in invective, and swell themselves, by a vain self-sufficiency, into an imagined superiority over the rest of mankind. Beside, Dippelius was an excellent chymist and a good physician; and this procured bim many friends and admirers, as all men are fond of riches and long life, and these two ciences were supposed to lead to the one and to the otuer.
i lier name was Johana Eleonora a Merlall.
one assumed in heaven before the reformation of this globe, the other derived upon earth, from the Virgin Mary. These opinions were swallowed down by many among the multitude, and were embraced by some of superior rank; they met however with great opposition, and were refuted by a considerable number of writers, to whom Petersen, who was amply furnished with leisure and eloquence, made voluminous replies. In the year 1692, he was at length deposed; and, from that period, passed his days in the tranquillity of a rural retreat in the territory of Magdeburg, where he cheered his solitude by epistolary commerce,
and spent the remainder of his days in composition and study.
xxxv. It is not easy to determine, whether John Caspar Schade and George Bosius may be associated properly with the persons now mentioned. They Bosius. were both good men, full of zeal for the happiness and salvation of their brethren ; but their zeal was neither directed by prudence, nor tempered with moderation. The former, who was minister at Berlin, propagated several notions that seemed crude and uncouth; and, in the year 1697, inveighed, with the greatest bitterness, against the custom that prevails in the Lutheran church, of confessing privately to the clergy. These violent remonstrances excited great commotions, and were even attended with popular tumults. Bosius performed the pastoral functions at Soraw; and to awaken sinners from their security, and prevent their treating, with negligence and indifference, interests that are most important by being eternal, denied that God would continue always propitious and placable with respect to those offenders, whose incorrigible obstinacy he had foreseen froin all eternity; or that he would offer them beyond a certain period, marked in his decrees, those succours of grace that are necessary to salvation. This tenet, in the judgment of many grave divines, seemed highly injurious to the boundless mercy of God, and was accordingly refuted and condemned in several treatises; it found nevertheless an eminent patron and defender in the
s Petersen wrote his life in German, and it was first published in Svo. in 1717. His wife added her life to it by way of supplement, in the year 118. These pieces of biography will satisfy such as are desirous of a particular account of the character, manners, and talents, of this extraordinary pair. For an account of the troubles they excited at Lunenburg, see Jo. Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 639, the l'n schuldige Nachrichten, A. 1748, p. 974. A. 1749, p. 30—200 et passim.