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bure, Frederic remarkable for his violence than for his duplicity, Seidenbecher. threw out the most bitter reproaches and invectives against the whole Lutheran church without exception, and thereby involved himself in various perplexities. He deceived indeed the multitude a long time, by his dissimulation and hypocrisy; and by a series of frauds, which he undoubtedly looked upon as lawful, he disguised so well his true character that he appeared to many, and especially to persons of a candid and charitable turn, much less contemptible than he was in reality; and though the acri. mony and violence of his proceedings were condemned, yet they were supposed to be directed, not against religion itself, but against the licentiousness and vices of its professors, and particularly of its ministers. At length however the mask fell from the face of this hypocrite, who became an object of general indignation and contempt, and, deserting the communion of the Lutheran churchi, went over to the Mennonites. There was a striking resemblance between this petulant railer and Frederic Breckling; the latter however surpassed even the former in impetuosity and malignity. Breckling had been pastor, first in the dutchy of Holstein, and afterward at Zwoll
, a city in the United Provinces, where he was deposed from his ministry, and lived a great many years after without being attached to any religious sect or community. There are several of his writings still extant, which indeed recommend warmly the practice of piety and virtue, and seem to express the most implacable abhorrence of vicious persons and licentious manners ; and yet, at the same time, they demonstrate plainly that their author was destitute of that charity, prudence, meekness, patience, and love of truth, which are the essential and fundamental virtues of a real Christian, It is undoubtedly a just matter of surprise, that these vehement declaimers against the established religion and its ministers, who pretend to be so much more sagacious and sharp-sighted than their brethren, do not perceive a truth,
f Hoburg, in some of his petulant and satirical writings, assumed the names of Elias Prætorius and Bernard Baumann.
g Arnold, loc. cit. p. iii. cap. xiii. p. 130. Andr. Caroli, loc. cit. vol. i. p. 1065. Jo. Hornbeck, Summa Controvers. p. 535. Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. ii. p. 337.
h Arnuld has given an account of Breckling, in bis Historia Ecclesiastica et Hæret. part iii. p. 148, and part iv. p. 1103, he has also published some of his writings, p. 1110, which sufficiently demonstrate the irregularity and exuberance of bis fancy. There is a particular account of this degraded pastor given by Mollerus, in his Cimbria Literata, tom. fii. p. 72.
which the most simple may learn from daily observation; even that nothing is more odious and disgusting than an angry, petulant, and violent reformer, who comes to heal the disorders of a community, armed, as it were, with fire and sword, with menaces and terrors. It is also to be wondered, that these men are not aware of another consideration equally obvious, namely, that it is scarcely credible, that a spiritual physician will cure another with entire success of the disorders under which he himself is known to labour..
George Laurence Seidenbecher, pastor at Eisfield in Saxony, adopted himself
, and propagated among the multitude, the doctrine of the millennium or thousand years reign of Christ upon earth; a doctrine which scarcely ever gains admittance but in disordered brains, and rarely produces any other fruits than incoherent dreams and idle visions.Seidenbecher was censured on account of this doctrine, and deposed from his pastoral charge.
xliv. It would be superfluous to name the other fanatics that deserve a place in the class now before us, since they almost all laboured under the same disorder, and the uniformity of their sentiments and conduct was so perfect, that the history of one, a few instances excepted, may, in a great measure, be considered as the history of them all. We shall therefore conclude this
crazy list with a short account of the very worst of the whole tribe, Martin Seidelius, a native of Silesia, who endeavoured to form a sect in Poland toward the conclusion of the preceding century and the commencement of this, but could not find followers, even among the Socinians;
so wild were his views, and so extravagant his notions. This audacious adventurer in religious novelties was of opinion, that God had indeed promised a Saviour or Messiah to the Jews; but that this Messiah had never appeared, and never would appear, on account of the sins of the Jewish people, which rendered them unworthy of this great deliverer. From hence he concluded, that it was erroneous to look
upon Christ as the Messiah; that the only office of Jesus was to interpret and republish the law of nature, that had been perverted and obscured by the vices, corruptions, and ignorance of men; and that the whole duty of man,
i There is a circumstantial account of this man given by Alb. Meno Verpoorten, in his Commentat, de vita et institulis G. L. Seidenbecheri, Gedeni, 1739, 4to.
and all the obligations of religion, were fulfilled by an obedience to this law, republished and explained by Jesus Christ. To render this doctrine more defensible and
specious, or at least to get rid of a multitude of arguments and express declarations that might be drawn from the holy Scriptures to prove its absurdity, he boldly rejected all the books of the New Testament. The small number of disciples that adopted the fancies of this intrepid innovator, were denominated semijudaizers. Had he appeared in our times, he would have given less offence than at the period in which he lived; for, if we except his singular notion concerning the Messiah, his doctrine was such as would at present be highly agreeable to many persons in Great Britain, Holland, and other countries.
HISTORY OF THE REFORMED CHURCH.
be reformed cburch extended.
1. It has been already observed, that the reformed The limits or church, considered in the most comprehensive
sense of that term, as forming a whole, composed
of a great variety of parts, is rather united by the principles of moderation and fraternal charity, than by a perfect uniformity in doctrine, discipline, and worship. It will therefore be proper to take, first a view of those events that related to this great body collectively considered; and afterward to enter into a detail of the most memorable occurrences that happened in the particular communities of which it is composed. The principal accessions it received during this century have already been mentioned, when, in the history of the Lutheran church, we related the changes and commotions that happened in the princi
k See Gustavi Georgii Zeltneri 'Historia Crypto Socinismi Altorffini, vol. i. p. 268, 335.
i pol We are much at a loss to know what Dr. Mosheim 'means by this insinuation, as also the persons he has in view ; for, on the one hand, it is sufficiently evident, that he cannot mean the Deists; and, on the other, we know of no denomination of Christians, who boldly reject all the books of the Vew Testament. Our author probably meant, that the part of Seidel's doctrine which represents Christ's mission as only designed to republish, and interpret the law of nature, and the whole religious and moral duty of man as consisting in an obedience to this law, would have been well received by many persons in Great Britain and Holland; but he should have said so; nothing requires such precision as accusations,
palities of Hessia and Brandenburg:" These however were not the only changes that took place in favour of the reformed church. Its doctrine was embraced, about the commencement of this century, by Adolphus, duke of Holstein, and it was naturally expected, that the subjects would follow the example of their prince; but this expectation was disappointed, by the death of Adolphus, in the year 1616." Henry, duke of Saxony, withdrew also from the communion of the Lutherans, in whose religious principles he had been educated; and, in the year 1688, embraced the doctrine of the reformed church at Dessaw, in consequence, as some allege, of the solicitations of his dutchess. In Denmark, about the beginning of this century, there were still a considerable number of persons who secretly espoused the sentiments of that church, and more especially could never reconcile themselves to the Lutheran doctrine of Christ's “ bodily presence with the sacrament of the eucharist.” They were confirmed in their attachment to the tenets of the reformed by Hemmingius, and other followers of Melancthon, whose secret ministry and public writings were attended with considerable success. The face of things however changed; and the reformed in Denmark saw their expectations vanish, and their credit sink, in the year 1614, when Canut, bishop of Gottenburg, who had given too plain intimations of his propensity to the doctrines of Calvin, was deprived of his episcopal dig. nity. The progress of the reformed religion in Africa, Asia, and America, is abundantly known; it was carried into these distant regions by the English and Dutch emigrants, who formed settlements there for the purposes of commerce, and founded flourishing churches in the various provinces where they fixed their habitations. It is also known, that in several places where Lutheranism was es
m Sec section ii. part ii. chap. i. Si. ii. where the History of the Lutheran Church comiences with an account of the loss that church sustained by the secession of Maurice, landgrave of Hesse Cassel, and John Sigismun, elcctor of Brandenburg, who embraced solemnly the doctrine of the Reformca Church, the former in 1604, and the latter in 1614.
ni Jo. Molleri · Introd. ad Ilistor. Chersonesi Cimbricæ,' p. ii. p. 101. Eric. Poutopos pidani 'Anuales F.cclesia Danica Diplomatici,'tou. ii. p. 691.
o See Moebii Selecta Disp. Theolog. p. 1137. The duke of Saxony published to the world a Confession of his Frili, containing the reasons of his change. This piece: which the divines of Leipzic were obliged by a public order to refuir, was defended against their attacks by the learned Isaac de Beausobre, at that time pastor ut Magdeburg, in a book, entitled, “Defense de la Doctrine des Reformees, et ca particulier de la Confession de S. A. S. Misgr. le Duc Henry de Sase coniru ua Livre compose par fit Faculte de Thcologie a Leipsic.' Magdeb. 1634, iu 3vo. p Pontoppidan. Innu. Eccles. Danicæ, toin. iji. p. 695.
tablished, the French, German, and British members of the reformed church were allowed the free exercise of their religion.
11. Of all the calamities that tended to diminish the inThe decline of fluence, and eclipse the lustre, of the reformed chure formed church, none was more dismal in its circum
stances, and more unhappy in its effects, than the deplorable fate of that church in France. From the time of the accession of Henry IV. to the throne of that kingdom, the reformed church had acquired the form of a body politic. Its members were endowed with considerable privileges; they were also secured against insults of every kind by a solemn edict, and were possessed of several fortified places, particularly the strong city of Rochelle ; in which, to render their security still more complete, they were allowed to have their own garrisons. This body politic was not indeed always under the influence and direction of leaders eminent for their prudence, or distinguished by their permanent attachment to the interests of the crown, and the person of the sovereign. Truth and candour oblige us to acknowledge, that the reformed conducted themselves, on some occasions, in a manner inconsistent with the demands of a regular subordination. Sometimes amidst the broils and tumults of faction, they joined the parties that opposed the government; at others, they took important steps without the king's approbation or consent; nay, they went so far as to solicit, more than once, without so much as disguising their measures, the alliance and friendship of England and Holland, and formed views which, at least in appearance, were scarcely consistent with the tranquillity of the kingdom, nor with a proper respect for the authority of its monarch. Hence the contests and civil broils that arose, in the year 1621, and subsisted long, between Louis XIII, and his protestant subjects; and hence the severe and despotic maxim of Richelieu, the first minister of that monarch, that the kingdom of France could never enjoy the sweets of peace, nor the satisfaction that is founded upon the assurance of public safety, before the protestants were deprived of their towns and strong holds, and before their rights and privileges, together with their ecclesiastical polity, were crushed to
q Imperinm in imperio, i. e. an empire within an empire.