תמונות בעמוד

The contro


Lutheran church.

CENT, avili. which are generally supposed to prefigure the Mes

siah m. 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.

XX. The bare indication of the controversies that versiescalled have divided the Lutheran church since the comPietistical, and other mencement of this century would make up a long religions

list. The religious contests that were set on foot by divide 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 eternity 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

Hm Dr. Mosheiin 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 Ňoses. It was by the authority of an edict addressed by Charles VI, to the princes of the empire, that Schmidt was imprisoned.


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little consequence, that a Lutheran might safely
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 dura-
tion, 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 the reformed
described n; 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 reli-
gion, and take care to avoid too great an intimacy o
with the tenets of Socinianism and popery, are
deemed worthy members of the reformed church .

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Kn This description the reader will find above, at the beginning of the preceding century.

A 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 bear3 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.

HP 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

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CENT. xvin. 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 9, 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.

o 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.

6 r. In the 4to edition of this work, I mistook, in a moment of inadvertency, the construction of this sentence in the original

indeed, severely censured by many of the reformed CENT. XVII. divines in Switzerland, Germany, and more especially in Holland, who lament, in the most sorrowful strains, the decline of the ancient purity and strictness that characterised the doctrine and discipline of the church, and sometimes attack, with the strongest marks of indignation and resentment, these modern contemners of primitive orthodoxy. But, as the moderate party have an evident superiority in point of number, power, and influence, these attacks of their adversaries are, in general, treated with the utmost indifference.

Latin, and rendered the passage as if Dr. Mosheim had represented the reformed churches as diminishing the weight and importance of those controversies that separate them from the • church of Rome;' whereas he represents them (and, indeed, what he says is rather an encomium than a reproach) as diminishing the weight of those controversies which separate them • from each other.' One of the circumstances that made me fall more easily into this mistake, was my having read, the moment before I committed it, Dr. Mosheim's insinuation with respect to the spirit of the church of England in the very next page, where he says, very inconsiderately, that we may judge of that spirit by the conduct of Dr. Wake, who formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each community should retain the greatest part of its peculiar doctrines. This is supposing, though upon the foundation of a mistaken fact, that the church of Eng. land, at least, is making evident approaches to the church of Rome.—When I had made the mistake, which turned really an enconium into an accusation, I thought it incumbent on me to defend the reformed church against the charge of an approximation to popery. For this purpose, I observed (in note 2 of the 4to edition), “ that the reformed churches were never at such a “ distance from the spirit and doctrine of the church of Rome

as they are at this day; and that the improvements in science, " that characterise the last and the present age, seem to render “ a relapse into Romish superstition morally impossible in those << who have been once delivered from its baneful influence.” The ingenious author of the Confessional did not find this reasoning conclusive ; but the objections he has started against it, do not appear to me insurmountable. I have, therefore, thrown upon paper some farther thoughts upon the present state of the reformed religion, and the influence of improvements in philosophy upon its advancement; and these thoughts the reader will find in the third part of the Appendix.


re-union between the

XXII. Whoever considers all these things with

due attention, will be obliged to acknowlege that Projects of

neither the Lutherans nor Arminians have, at this Reformede day, any farther subject of controversy or debate

with the reformed church, considered in a general point of view, but only with individual members of this great community ; for the church, considered in its collective and general character, allows now to all its members the full liberty of entertaining the

and the Lutherans.

K : Even if we grant this to be true with respect to the Arminians, it cannot be affirmed, with equal truth, in regard to the Lutherans, whose doctrine concerning the corporal presence of Christ in the eucharist, and the communication of the properties of his divine to his human nature, is rejected by all the reformed churches, without exception. But it is not universally true, even with respect to the Arminians; for, though the latter are particularly favored by the church of England; though Arminianism may be said to have become predominant among the members of that church, or at least to have lent its influence in mitigating some of its articles in the private sentiments of those who subscribe them; yet the thirty-nine Articles of the same church still maintain their authority; and, when we judge of the doctrine and discipline of any church, it is more natural to form this judgement from its established creeds and confessions of faith, than from the sentiments and principles of particular persons ; so that, with respect to the church of England, the direct contrary of what Dr. Mosheim asserts is strictly true; for it is rather with that church, and its rule of faith, that the Lutherans are at variance, than with private persons, who, prompted by a spirit of Christian moderation, mitigate some of its doctrines, in order charitably to extend the limits of its communion. But, if we turn our view to the reformed churches in Holland, Germany, and a part of Switzerland, the mistake of our author will still appear more palpable; for some of these churches consider certain doctrines both of the Arminians and Lutherans, as a just cause of excluding them from their communion. The question here is not, whether this rigor is laudable; it is the matter of fact that we are examining at present. The church of England, indeed, if we consider its present temper and spirit, does not look

upon any of the errors of the Lutherans as fundamental, and is therefore ready to receive them into its communion; and the same thing may, perhaps, be affirmed of several of the reformed churches upon the continent. But this is very far from being a proof, that the . Lutherans have at this day (as Dr. Mosheim

asserts) no farther subject of controversy or debate with these • churches ;' it only proves, that these churches nourish a spirit of toleration and charity worthy of imitation.

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