תמונות בעמוד

Contests concerning the omnipresence

the doctors of Tubingen and Gi søen.

learned Rechenbelg, professor of divinity at Leipsic, not to mention others of less note, who appeared in its behalf. xxxvI. Among the controversies of inferior note that di

vided the Lutheran church, we shall first mention

those that broke out between the doctors of Tubinfenb. Hetween gen and Giessen so early as the year 1616. The

principal part of this debate related to the abasement and humiliation, or, to what divines call

, the exinanition of Jesus Christ ; and the great point was to know in what this exinanition properly consisted, and what was the precise nature and characteristic of this singular situation; that the man Christ possessed, even in the most dreadful periods of his abasement, the divine properties and attributes he had received in consequence of the hypostatic union, was unanimously agreed on by both of the contending parties; but they differed in their sentiments relating to this subtile and intricate question, “ Whether Christ, during his mediatorial sufferings and sacerdotal state, really suspended the exertion of these attributes, or only concealed this exertion from the view of mortals. The latter was maintained by the doctors of Tubingen, while those of Giessen were inclined to think that the exertion of the divine attributes was really suspended in Christ during his humiliation and sufferings. This main question was followed by others which were much more subtile than important, concerning the manner in which God is present with all his works, the reasons and foundation of this universal presence, the true cause of the omnipresence of Christ's body, and others of a like intricate and unintelligible nature. The champions that distinguished themselves on the side of the doctors of Tubingen were, Lucas Osiander, Melchior Nicolas, and Theodore Thummius. The most eminent of those that adopted the cause of the divines of Giessen were, Balthazar, Menzer, and Justus Feverborn. The contest was carried on with zeal, learning, and sagacity; it were to be wished that one could add, that it was managed with wisdom, dignity, and moderation. This indeed was far from being the case; but such was the spirit and genius of the age, that many things were now treated with indulgence, or beheld with approbation, which the wisdom and decency of succeeding times have justly endeavoured to dis

t See Walchius's Iniroductio ad Controversias, p. 1. cap. iv.

countenance and correct. In order to terminate these disagreeable contests, the Saxon divines were commanded, by their sovereign, to offer themselves as arbitrators between the contending parties in the year 1624 ; their arbitration was accepted, but it did not at all contribute to decide the matters in debate. Their decisions were vague and ambiguous, and were therefore adapted to satisfy none of the parties. They declared, that they could not entirely approve of the doctrine of either; but insinuated, at the same time, that a certain degree of preference was due to the opinions maintained by the doctors of Giessen." Those of Tubingen rejected the decision of the Saxon arbitrators ; and it is very probable, that the divines of Giessen would have appealed from it also, had not the public calamities, in which Germany begun to be involved at this time, suspended this miserable contest, by imposing silence upon the disputants, and leaving them in the quiet possession of their respective opinions.

XXXVII. Before the cessation of the controversy now mentioned, a new one was occasioned, in the year 1621, by the writings of Herman Rathman, mí- The controversy nister at Danțzic, a man of eminent piety, some the main learning, and a zealous patron and admirer of Arndt's famous book concerning true Christianity. This good man was suspected by his colleague Corvinus, and several others, of entertaining sentiments derogatory from the dignity and power of the sacred writings. These suspicions they derived from a book he published, in the year 1621, Concerning Christ's Kingdom of Grace, which, according to the representations of his adversaries, contained the following doctrine : “ That the word of God, as it stands in the sacred writings, hath no innate power to illuminate the mind, to excite in it a principle of regeneration, and thus to turn it to God; that the external word showeth indeed the way to salvation, but cannot effectually lead men to it; but that God himself, by the ministry of another, and an internal word, works such a change in the minds of men, as is necessary to render them agreeable in his sight, and enables them to please him by their words

writings of

u Jo. Wolf. Jaeger. Histor. Eccles. et Polii. Sæc. xvii. Decenn. iii. p. 329. Christo Eberh. Weismanni Histor. Ecclesiast. Sæc. xvii. p. 1178. Walchius, loc. cit. p. 206. See also Caroli Arnold, and the other writers, who have written the Ecclesiastical History of these times.

and actions.” This doctrine was represented by Corvinus and his associates as the same which had been formerly held by Schwenckfeld, and was professed by the mystics in general. But whoever will be at the pains to examine with attention the various writings of Rathman on this subject, must soon be convinced, that his adversaries either misunderstood his true sentiments, or wilfully mirepresented them. His real doctrine may be comprised in the four following points : “ First, that the divine word, contained in the holy Scriptures, is endowed with the power of healing the minds of men, and bringing them to God; but that, secondly, cannot exert this power in the minds of corrupt men, who resist its divine operation and influence; and that of consequence, thirdly, it is absolutely necessary, that the word be preceded or accompanied by some divine energy, which

may prepare the minds of sinners to receive it, and remove those impediments that oppose its efficacy; and fourthly, that it is by the power of the holy spirit, or internal word, that the external word is rendered incapable of exerting its efficacy in enlightening and sanctifying the minds of men. There is indeed some difference between these opinions and the doctrine commonly received in the Lutheran church, relating to the efficacy of the divine word; but a careful perusal of the writings of Rathman on this subject, and a candid examination of his inaccurate expressions, will persuade the impartial reader, that this difference is neither great nor important; and he will only perceive, that this pious man had not the talent of expressing his notions with order, perspicuity, and precision. However that may have been, this contest grew more general from day to day, and at length extended its polemic influence through the whole Lutheran church, the greatest part of whose members followed the example of the Saxon doctors in condemning Rathman, while a considerable number, struck with the lustre of his piety, and persuaded of the innocence of his doctrine, espoused his cause. In the year 1628, when this controversy was at the greatest height, Rathman died, and then the warmth and animosity of the contending parties subsided gradually, and at length ceased.


w See Mollerus’s Cimbria Literata, tom. iii. p. 559. Hartknoch's German work, entitled, Preussische Kirchen Geschichte, book iii. ch. viii. p. 812. Arnold's Kitchen und Ketzer Historie, p. iii. ch. xvi. p. 115.

Private con

xxxvII. It would be repugnant to the true end of history, as well as to all principles of candour and equity, to swell this enumeration of the controver- troversies. sies that divided the Lutheran church, with the private disputes of certain individuals concerning some particular points of doctrine and worship. Some writers have indeed followed this method, not so much with a design to enrich their histories with a multitude of facts, and to show men and opinions in all their various aspects, as with a view to render the Lutherans ridiculous or odiaus. In the happiest times, and in the best modelled communities, there will always remain sufficient marks of human imperfection, and abundant sources of private contention, at least in the imprudence and mistakes of some, and the impatience and severity of others; but it must betray a great want of sound judgment, as well as of candour and impartiality, to form a general estimate of the state and character of a whole church upon such particular instances of imperfection and error. Certain singular opinions and modes of expression were censured by many in the writings of Tarnovius and Affelman, two divines of Rostoch, who were otherwise men of distinguished merit. This however will surprise us less, when we consider that these doctors often expressed themselves improperly, when their sentiments were just; and that, when their expressions were accurate and proper, they were frequently misunderstood by those who pretended to censure them. Joachim Lutkeman, a man whose reputation was considerable, and, in many respects, well deserved, took it into his head tó deny that Christ remained true man during the three days that intervened between his death and resurrection. This sentiment appeared highly erroneous to many; hence arose a contest, which was merely a dispute about words, resembling many other debates which, like bubbles, are incessantly swelling and vanishing on the surface of human life. Of this kind, more especially, was the controversy which, for some time, exercised the talents of Boetius and Balduin, professors of divinity, the former at Helmstadt, and the latter at Wittemberg, and had for its subject the following question,“Whetherorno the wicked shall one day be restored to life by the merits of Christ.” In the dutchy of Holstein, Reinboth distinguished himself by the singularity of his opinions. After the example of Calixtus, he reduced

ed the fundamental doctrines of religion within narrower bounds than are usually prescribed to them; he also considered the opinion of those Greeks, who deny that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, as an error of very little consequence. In both these respects, his sentiments were adopted by many; they however met with opposition from several quarters, and were censured, with peculiar warmth, by the learned John Conrad Danhaver, professor of divinity at Strasburg ; in consequence of this, a kind of controversy was kindled between these two eminent men, and was carried on with more vehemence than the nature and importance of the matters in debate could well justify.' But these and other contests of this nature must not be admitted into that list of controversies, from which we are to form a judgment of the internal state of the Lutheran church during this century.

xxxix. We cannot say the same thing of certain controThe debates versies, which were of a personal rather than a

real nature, and related to the orthodoxy or un

soundness of certain men, rather than to the truth or falsehood of certain opinions ; for these are somewhat more essentially connected with the internal state and history of the church, than the contests last mentioned. It is not unusual for those, who professedly embark in the cause of declining piety, and aim, in a solemn, zealous, and public manner, at its revival and restoration, to be elated with high and towering views, and warm with a certain enthusiastic, though noble fervour. This elevation and ardour of mind is by no means a source of accuracy and precision; on the contrary, it produces many unguarded expressions, and prevents men of warm piety from forming their language by those rules which are necessary to render it clear, accurate, and proper; it frequently dictates expressions and phrases that are pompous and emphatic, but, at the same time, allegorical and ambiguous; and leads pious and even sensible men to adopt uncouth and vulgar forms of speech, employed by writers whose style is as low and barbarous as their intentions are upright and pious, and whose practical treaties on religion and mo

relating to Prætorius and Arndt.

x For an account of all these controversies in general, see Arnoldi Histor. Eccles. el Hæret. p. ij. lib. xvii. cap. vi. p. 957. That which was occasioned by Reinboth is amply, and circumstantially related by Mollerus, in his Introductio ad Historiam Chersone si C'imbrica, p. ii. p. 190, and in his Cimbria Literata, tóm. ii. p. 692.

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