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rality have nothing recommendable but the zeal and fervour with which they are penned. Persons of this warm and enthusiastical turn fall with more facility than any other set of men into the suspicion of heresy, on account of the inaccuracy of their expressions. This many doctors found to be true, by a disagreeable experience, during the course of this century; but it was, in a more particular manner, the fate of Stephen Prætorius, minister of Solzwedel, and of .John Arndt, whose piety and virtue have rendered his memory precious to the friends of true religion. Prætorius had, so early as the preceding century, composed certain treatises, designed to revive a spirit of vital religion, and awaken in the minds of men a zeal for their future and eternal interests. These productions, which were frequently republished during this century, were highly applauded by many, while, in the judgment of others, they abounded with expressions and sentiments, that were partly false, and partly adapted by their ambiguity to lead men into error. It cannot be denied, that there are in the writings of Prætorius some improper and unguarded expressions, that may too easily deceive the ignorant and unwary, as also several marks of that credulity that borders upon weakness; but those who peruse his works with impartiality will be fully persuaded of the uprightness of his intentions.
The unfeigned piety and integrity of Arndt could not secure him from censure. His famous book concerning true Christianity, which is still perused with the utmost pleasure and edification by many persons eminent for the sanctity of their lives and manners, met with a warm and obstinate opposition. Osiander, Rostius, and other doctors, inveighed against it with excessive bitterness, pretended to find in it various defects, and alleged, among other things, that its style was infected with the jargon of the Paracelsists, Weigelians, and other mystico chymical philosophers. It must indeed be acknowledged, that this eminent man entertained a high disgust against the philosophy, that, in his time, reigned in the schools; nor can it be denied, that he had a high, perhaps an excesrive degree of respect for the chymists, and an ill-placed confidence in their obscure decisions and pompous undertakings. This led him sometimes into conversation with those fantastic philosophers, who by the power and mi
nistry of fire, pretended to unfold both the secrets of nature and the mysteries of religion. But, notwithstanding this, he was declared exempt from any errors of moment by a multitude of grave and pious divines, among whom were Egard, Dilger, Breler, Gerhard, and Dorschæus : and in the issue the censures and opposition of his adversaries seemed rather to cast a new lustre upon his reputation than to cover him with reproach. We may place in the class now under consideration, Valentine Weigelius, a minister of the church of Zscopavia in Misnia; for though he died in the preceding century, yet it was in this that the greatest part of his writings were published, and also censured as erroneous and of a dangerous tendency. The science of chymistry, which at this time was making such a rapid progress in Germany, proved also detrimental to this ecclesiastic; who, though in the main a man of probity and merit, neglected the paths of right reason, and chose rather to wander in the devious wilds of a chimerical philosophy.
xl. There were a set of fanatics among the Lutherans, Jacob Bobmi- who in the flights of their enthusiasm far surpassus, or Buemen. ed those now mentioned, and who had such a high notion of their own abilities, as to attempt down the present form of religion, and casting a new system of piety after a model drawn from their wanton and irregular fancies; it is with some account of the principal of these spiritual projectors that we shall conclude the history of the Lutheran church during this century.
At the head of this visionary tribe we may place Jacob Behmen, a tailor at Gorlitz, who was remarkable for the multitude of his patrons and adversaries, and whom his admirers commonly called the German Theosophist. This man had a natural propensity toward the investigation of mysteries, and was fond of abstruse and intricate inquiries of every kind; and having partly by books and partly by conversation with certain physicians," acquired some knowledge of the doctrine of Robert Fludd and the Rosicrusians, which was propagated in Germany with great os
y See Arnoldi Hist. Eccles. et Heretica, p. ii. lib. xvii. cap. vi. p. 940. Weismanni Histor. Eceles. Sec. xvii. p. 1174, 1189. Godof. Balth. Scharfii Supplementum Historia, Litisque Arndtiana. Wittem. 1727, in 8vo.
2 There is an account of Weigelius, more ample than impartial, given by Arnold, loc. cit. lib. xvii. cap. xvii. p. 1088.
a Viz. Tobias Kober and Balthazar Walther.
tentation during this century, he struck out of the element of fire, by the succours of imagination, a species of theologymuch more obscure than the numbers of Pythagoras, or the intricacies of Heraclitus. Some have bestowed high praises on this enthusiast, on account of his piety, integrity, and sincere love of truth and virtue ; and we shall not pretend to contradict these encomiums. But such as carry their admiration of his doctrine so far as to honour him with the character of an inspired messenger of Heaven, or even of a judicious and wise. philosopher, must be themselves deceived and blinded in a very high degree; for never did there reign such obscurity and confusion in the writings of any mortal, as in the miserable productions of Jacob Behmen, which exhibit a motley mixture of chymical terms, crude visions, and mystic jargon. Among other dreams of a disturbed and eccentric fancy, he entertained the following chimerical notion; “ That the divine grace operates by the same rules, and follows the same methods, that the divine providence observes in the natural world ; and that the minds of men are purged from their vices and corruptions in the same way that metals are purified from their dross ;” and this maxim was the principle of his fire theology., Behmen had a considerable number of followers in this century, the most eminent of whom were John Lewis Gifttheil
, John Angelus, Werdenhagen, Abraham Franckenberg, Theodore Tzetsch, Paul Felgenharer, Quirinus Kulhman, John Jacob Zimmerman; and he has still many votaries and admirers even in our times. There was indeed a signal difference between his followers; some of them retained, notwithstanding their attachment to his extravagant system, a certain degree of moderation and good sense; others of them seemed entirely out of their wits, and by their phrensy excited the compassion of those who were the spectators of their conduct; such were Kuhlman and Gichtelius, the former of whom was burnt at Moscow in the year 1684; but indeed it may be affirmed in general, that none of the disciples or followers of Behmen propagated his doctrine, or conducted themselves in such a manner as to do honour either to their master or to his cause in the judgment of the wise."
b It is needless to mention the writers who employed their pens in stemming the torrent of Behmen's enthusiasm. The works of this fanatic are in every body's hands, and the books that were composed to refute them are well known, and to be found every where. All that has been alleged in his favour and defence has been carefully collected
of this age.
xli. Another class of persons, who deserve to be placed The prophets immediately after Behmen, were they, whom a
disordered brain persuaded that they were prophets sent from above, and that they were divinely inspired with the power of foretelling future events. A considerable number of these delirious fanatics arose during the course of this century; and more especially in that juncture when the house of Austria was employed in maintaining its power in the empire, against the united armies of Sweden, France, and Germany. It is remarkable enough, that the tribe of pretended prophets and diviners is never more numerous than at those critical and striking periods when great revolutions are expected, or sudden and heavy calamities have happened ; as such periods, and the scenes they exhibit, inflame the imagination of the fanatic, and may be turned to the profit of the impostor. The most eminent of the fanatical prophets now under consideration, were, Nicholas Drabicius, Christopher Kotter, Christina Poniatovia, who found an eloquent defender and patron in John Amos Comenio; not to mention Joachim Greulich, Anne Vetter, Mary Froelich, George Reichard, ånd several others, who audaciously assumed the same character. It is not necessary to enter into a more circumstantial detail of the history of this visionary tribe, since none of them arose to such a degree of reputation and consequence, as to occasion any considerable tumults by their predictions. It is sufficient to have observed in general, that, even in this century, there were among the Lutherans certain crazy fanatics, who, under the impulse of a disordered imagination, assumed the character and authority of prophets sent from above to enlighten the world.
by Arnold, who is, generally speaking, peculiarly eloquent in the praises of those whom others treat with contempt. For an account of Kuhlman, and his unhappy fate, see the German work, entitled, Unschuld Nachricht. A. 1748.
Behmen, however, had the good fortune to meet with, in our days, a warm advocate and an industrious disciple in the late well-meaning, but gloomy and visionary, Mr. William Law, who was, for many years, preparing a new edition and translation of Behmen's works, which he left behind him, ready for the press, and which have been published in two vols. 4to. since his decease.
c Arnold is to be commended for giving us an accurate collection of the transactions and visions of these enthusiasts, in the third and fourth parts, of bis History of Heretics ; since those who are desirous of full information in this matter may easily see, by consulting this historian, that the pretended revelations of these prophets were no more than the phantoms of a disordered imagination. A certain pious but ignorant man, named Benedict Bahusen, who was a native of Holstein, and lived at Amsterdam about the middle of the last century, was so delighted with the writings and predictions of these fanatics, that he collected them carefully and published them. In the year 1670, a catalogue of his library was printed at Amsterdam, which was full of chymical and fanatical books.
Xll. It will not however be improper to mention somewhat more circumstantially, the case of those, who, though they did not arrive at that enormous alles siidet: height of folly that leads
men to pretend to divine Paul Nagel. inspiration, yet deceived themselves and deluded others, Ly entertaining and propagating the strangest fancies and the most monstrous and impious absurdities. Sometime after the commencement of this century, Isaiah Stiefel and Ezekiel Meth, inhabitants of Thuringia, were observed to throw out the most extraordinary and shocking expressions while they spoke of themselves and their religious attainments. These expressions, in the judgment of many, amounted to nothing less than attributing to themselves the divine glory and majesty, and thus implied a blasphe. mous, or rather a phrenetic, insult on the Supreme Being and his eternal Son. It is nevertheless scarcely credible, however irrational we may suppose them to have been, that these fanatics should have carried their perverse and absurd fancies to such an amazing height; and it would perhaps be more agreeable both to truth and charity to suppose, that they had imitated the pompous and turgid language of the mystic writers in such an extravagant manner, as to give occasion to the heavy accusation above mentioned. Considering the matter even in this candid and charitable light, we may see by their examples how much the constant perusal of the writings of the mystics is adapted to shed darkness, delusion, and folly into the imagination of weak and ignorant men. The reveries of Paul Nagel, professor of divinity at Leipsic, were highly absurd, but of a much
less pernicious tendency than those already mentioned. This prophetic dreamer, who had received a light tincture of mathematical knowledge, pretended to see, in the position of the stars, the events that were to happen in church and state ; and, from a view of these celestial bodies, foretold, in a more particular manner, the erection of a new and most holy kingdom in which Christ should reign here upon earth.
XLIII. Christian Hoburg, a native of Lunenburg, a man of a turbulent and inconstant spirit, and not more Christian Ho
d See Arnold, Historia Eccles. et Hæret. p. iii. cap. iv. p. 32. Thomasius, in bis German work, entitled Historie de Weisheit und Narrheit, vol. i. p. iii. p. 150.
e Arnold, loc. cit. p. iii. cap. v. p. 53. Andr. Caroli Memorabilia Ecclesia Scc. xvii. part i. lib. iii. cap. iv. p. 513.