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XVIII. It was the opinion of many, that the
T.I. of succours of philosophy were absolutely necessary to
stem the torrent of superstition, and stop its growing progress, and that these alone were adapted to accomplish this desirable purpose. Hence the study of philosophy, which, toward the conclusion of the last century, seemed to decline, was now revived, established upon a more rational footing, and pursued with uncommon assiduity and ardor. The branch of philosophy which is commonly known under the denomination of Metaphysics, was generally preferred, as it leads to the first principles of things; and the improvements made in this important science were very considerable. These improvements were chiefly produced by the genius and penetration of Leibnitz, who threw a new light upon metaphysics, and gave this interesting branch of philosophy a more regular form. This science received a still greater degree of perfection from the philosophical labors of the acute and indefatigable Wolff, who reduced it into a scientific order, and gave to its decisions the strength and evidence of a geometrical demonstration. Under this new and respectable form it captivated the attention and esteem of the greatest part of the German philosophers, and of those in general who pursue truth through the paths of strict evidence; and it was applied with great ardor and zeal to illustrate and confirm the great truths both of natural and revealed religion. This application of the First Philosophy gave much uneasiness to some pious men, who were extremely solicitous to preserve, pure and unmixed, the doctrines of Christianity; and it was accordingly opposed by them with great eagerness cent. xviii. and obstinacy. Thus the ancient contest between ` philosophy and theology, faith and reason, was unhappily revived, and has been carried on with much animosity for several years past. For many are of opinion, that this metaphysical philosophy inspires youthful minds with notions that are far from being favorable either to the doctrines or to the positive institutions of religion; that, seconded by the warmth of fancy, at that age of levity and presumption, it engenders an arrogant contempt of Divine Revelation, and an excessive attachment to human reason, as the only infallible guide of man; and that, instead of throwing new light on the science of theology, and giving it an additional air of dignity, it has contributed, on the contrary, to cover it with obscurity, and to sink it into oblivion and contempt. XIX. In order to justify this heavy charge against". - - - e lin the metaphysical philosophy, they appeal to the writ-translation ings of Laurent Schmidt, whom they commonly call. the Wertheim interpreter, from the place of his “” residence. This man, who was by no means destitute of abilities, and had acquired a profound knowlege of the philosophy now under consideration, undertook, some years ago, a new German translation of the Holy Scriptures, to which he prefixed a new system of theology, drawn up in a geometrical order, that was to serve him as a guide in the exposition of the sacred oracles. This undertaking proved highly detrimental to its author, as it drew upon him from many quarters severe marks of opposition and resentment; for he had scarcely published the Five Books of Moses, as a specimen of his method and abilities, when he was not only attacked by several writers, but also brought before the supreme tribunal of the empire, and there accused as an enemy of the Christian religion, and a caviler at divine truth. This severe charge was founded upon this circumstance only, that he had boldly departed from the common explication of certain passages in the books of Moses,
philosophy among the Lutherans.
• not being used, that afterwards, when he is to marry, and use it, * the Saviour must restore him from this deadness of body. And * when an Esther by grace, and sister according to her make, gets “sight of this member, her senses are shut up, and she piously per* ceives, that God the Son was a boy. Ye holy matrons, who as * wives are about your Vice-Christs, honor that precious sign with • the utmost veneration.” We beg the chaste reader's pardon for presenting him with this odious specimen of the horrors of the Moravian theology.
cent Aviii, which are generally supposed to prefigure the MesT siah". On this account he was sent to prison, and his errors were looked upon as capitally criminal; but he escaped the vigilance of his keepers, and saved himself by flight. The contro. XX. The bare indication of the controversies that :... " have divided the Lutheran church since the comand one mencement of this century would make up a long ... list. The religious contests that were set on foot by inde the the Pietists were carried on in some places with ...” animosity, in others with moderation, according to the characters of the champions, and the temper and spirit of the people. These contests, however, have gradually subsided, and seem at present to be all reduced to the following question, whether a wicked man be capable of acquiring a true and certain knowlege of divine things, or be susceptible of any degree or species of divine illumination. The controversy that has been excited by this question is considered by many as a mere dispute about words; its decision, at least, is rather a matter of curiosity than importance. Many other points, that had been more or less debated in the last century, occasioned keen contests in this, such as the etermity of hell torments; the reign of Christ upon earth during a thousand years; and the final restoration of all intelligent beings to order, perfection, and happiness. The mild and indulgent sentiments of John Fabricius, professor of divinity at Helmstadt, concerning the importance of the controversy between the Lutherans and Catholics, excited also a warm debate; for this doctor and his disciples went so far as to maintain, that the difference, between those churches, was of so
so " Dr. Mosheim gives here but one half of the accusation brought against Schmidt, in 1737, when he was charged with attempting to prove, that there was not the smallest trace or vestige of the doctrine of the Trinity, nor any prediction pointing out the Messiah, to be found in the Five Books of Moses. It was by the authority of an edict addressed by Charles VI. to the princes of the empire, that Schmidt was imprisoned.
little consequence, that a Lutheran might safely cent, win. embrace popery. The warm controversies that have been carried on between certain divines, and some eminent civilians, concerning the rites and obligations of wedlock, the lawful grounds of divorce, and the nature and guilt of concubinage, are sufficiently known. Other disputes of inferior moment, which have been of a sudden growth, and of a short duration, we shall pass over in silence, as the knowlege of them is not necessary to our forming an accurate idea of the internal state of the Lutheran church. XXI. The reformed church still carries the same The state of external aspect under which it has been already.” described "; for, though there be every where extant” certain books, creeds, and confessions, by which the wisdom and vigilance of ancient times thought proper to perpetuate the truths of religion, and to preserve them from the contagion of heresy, yet, in most places, no person is obliged to adhere strictly to the doctrines they contain; and those who profess the main and fundamental truths of the Christian religion, and take care to avoid too great an intimacy" with the tenets of Socinianism and popery, are deemed worthy members of the reformed church ".
sor." This description the reader will find above, at the beginning of the preceding century.
for * Nimiam consuetudinem. The expression is remarkable and malignant; it would make the ignorant and unwary apt to believe, that the reformed church allows its members certain approaches toward popery and Socinianism, provided they do not carry these approaches too far, even to an intimate union with them, . This representation of the reformed church is too : glaringly false to proceed from ignorance; and Dr. Mosheim's extensive knowlege places him beyond the suspicion of an involuntary mistake in this matter. It is true, this reflexion bears hard upon his candor; and we are extremely sorry that we cannot, in this place, do justice to the knowlege of that great man, without arraigning his equity.
P Nothing can be more unfair, or at least more inaccurate,
than this representation of things. It proceeds from a supposition that is quite chimerical, even that the reformed churches in England, Scotland, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, &c., form one general body, and, beside their respective and particular
cenr. ovin. Hence, in our times, this great and extensive commu- nity comprehends, in its bosom, Arminians, Calvinists,
Supralapsarians, Sublapsarians, and Universalists, who live together in charity and friendship", and unite their efforts in healing the breach, and diminishing the weight and importance of those controversies that separate them from each other". This moderation is,
systems of government and discipline, have some general laws of religious toleration, in consequence of which they admit a variety of sects into their communion. But this general hierarchy does not exist. The friends of the Reformation, whom the multiplied horrors and absurdities of popery obliged to abandon the communion of Rome, were formed, in process of time, into distinct ecclesiastical bodies, or national churches, every one of which has its peculiar form of government and discipline. The toleration that is enjoyed by the various sects and denominations of Christians, arises in part from the clemency of the ruling powers, and from the charity and forbearance which individuals think themselves bound to exercise one toward another. See the following note. (or q If the different denominations of Christians here mentioned live together in the mutual exercise of charity and benevolence, notwithstanding the diversity of their theological opinions, this circumstance, which Dr. Mosheim seems to mention as a reproach, is, on the contrary, a proof, that the true and genuine spirit of the Gospel (which is a spirit of forbearance, meekness, and charity,) prevails among the members of the reformed churches. But it must be carefully observed, that this charity, though it discovers the amiable bond of peace, does not, by any means, imply uniformity of sentiment or indifference about truth, or lead us to suppose that the reformed churches have relaxed or departed from their system of doctrine. Indeed as there is no general reformed church, so there is no general reformed Creed or Confession of Faith. The church of England has its peculiar system of doctrine and government, which remains still unchanged, and in full force; and to which an assent is demanded from all its members, and in a more especial, solemn, and express manner from those who are its ministers. Such is the case with the national reformed churches in the United Provinces. The dissenters in these countries, who are tolerated by the state, have also their respective bonds of ecclesiastical union; and such of them, particularly in England and Ireland, as differ from the establishment only in their form of government and worship, and not in matters of doctrine, are treated with indulgence by the moderate members of the national church, who look upon them as their brethren. (or,” In the 4to edition of this work, I mistook, in a moment of inadvertency, the construction of this sentence in the original