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covenant of grace; that when the Jews had provoked the Deity, by their various transgressions, particularly by the worship of the golden calf, the severe and servile yoke of the ceremonial law was added to the decalogue, as a punishment inflicted on them by the Supreme Being in his righteous displeasure ; that this yoke, which was painful in itself, became doubly so on account of its typical signification ; since it admonished the Israelites, from day to day, of the imperfection and uncertainty of their state, filled them with anxiety, and was a standing and perpetual proof that they had merited the displeasure of God, and could not expect, before the coming of the Messiah, the entire remission of their transgressions and iniquities ; that indeed good men, even under the Mosaic dispensation, were immediately after death made partakers of everlasting happiness and glory ; but that they were nevertheless during the whole course of their lives,far removed from that firm hope and assurance of salvation, which rejoices the faithful under the dispensation of the gospel; and that their anxiety flowed naturally from this consideration, that their sins, though they remained unpunished, were not pardoned, because Christ had not, as yet, offered himself up a sacrifice to the Father to make an entire atonement for them.” These are the principal lines that distinguish the Cocceian from other systems of theology; it is attended indeed with other peculiarities; but we shall pass them over in silence, as of little moment, and unworthy of notice. These notions were warmly opposed by the same persons that declared war against the Cartesian philosophy; and the contest was carried on for many years with various success. But, in the issue, the doctrines of Cocceius, like those of Des Cartes, stood their ground; and neither the dexterity nor vehemence of his adversaries could exclude his disciples from the public seminaries of learning, or hinder them from propagating, with surprising success and rapidity, the tenets of their master in Germany and Switzerland.
XXXIII. The other controversies, that divided the Belgic church during this century, all arose from the immoderate propensity that certain doctors disco
The contro versy set on
q See Baillet's Vie de M. Des Cartes, tom. ii, p. 33. Daniel's Voyage du Monde de Des Cartes. Val. Alberti Astea8V HATTI, Cartesianismus et Cocceianismus descripti et refutati." Lips. 1678, in 4to.
use of reason in religion.
foot by Roelli vered toward an alliance between the Cartesian
" philosophy and their theological system. This
will appear, with the utmost evidence, from the debates excited by Roell and Becker, which surpassed all the others, both by the importance of their subjects and by the noise they made in the world. About the year 1686, certain Cartesian doctors of divinity, headed by the ingenious Herman Alexander Roell, professor of theology in the univeruity of Franeker, seemed to attribute to the dictates of reason a more extensive authority in religious matters, than they had hitherto been possessed of. The controversy, occasioned by this innovation, was reducible to the two following questions; “1. Whether the divine origin and authority of the holy Scriptures can be demonstrated by reason alone, or whether an inward testimony of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of Christians be necessary in order to the firm belief of this fundamental point. 2. Whether the sacred writings propose to us as an object of faith, any thing that is repugnant to the dictates of right reason." These questions were answered, the former in the affirmative, and the latter in the negative, not only by Roell, but also by Vander Wayen, Wesselius, Duker, Ruardus ab Andala, and other doctors, who were opposed in this by Ulric Nuber, an eminent lawyer, Gerard de Vries, and others of inferior note.' The flame excited by this controversy spread itself far and wide through the United Provinces; and its progress was increasing from day to day, when the states of Friesland prudently interposed to restore the peace of the church, by imposing silence on the contending parties. Those whose curiosity may engage them to examine with attention and accuracy the points debated in this controversy, will find, that a very considerable part of it was merely a dispute about words ; and that the real difference of sentiment that there was between these learned disputants might have been easily accommodated, by proper explications on both sides. XXXIV. Not long after this controversy had been hushed,
of Roell alarmed the orthodoxy of his colleagues, cenu and more particularly of the learned Vitringa, by
some other new tenets, that rendered the soundness of his religious principles extremely doubtful,
Sentiments of Ruell concerne ing the gene ration of the Son of Gud.
r See Le Clerc, Biblioth. Univers. et Historique, tom. vi. p. 388.
not only in their opinion, but also in the judgment of many Dutch divines ;' for he maintained, “That the account we have of the generation of the Son in the sacred writings, is not to be understood in a literal sense, or as a real generation of a natural kind;" he also affirmed, “That the afflictions and death of the righteous are as truly the penal effects of original sin, as the afflictions and death of the wicked and impenitent;" and he entertained notions concerning the divine decrees, original sin, the satisfaction of Christ, and other points of less moment, which differed in reality, or by the manner of expressing them seemed to differ greatly, from the doctrines received and established in the Dutch church. The magistrates of Friesland used all the precautions that prudence could suggest, to prevent - these controversies from being propagated in their province; and enacted several laws for this purpose, all tending toward peace and silence. This conduct however was not imitated by the other provinces, where Roell and his disciples were condemned, both in private and in public, as heretics and corrupters of divine truth. Nor did the death of this eminent man extinguish the animosity and resentment of his adversaries; for his disciples are still treated with severity; and, notwithstanding the solemn protestations they have given of the soundness and purity of their religious sentiments, labour under the imputation of many concealed errors.
s For an account of Roell, see the Bibliotheca Bremens. Theologico Philolog. tom. ii. p. vi. p. 707. Casp. Burmanni Trajectum Eruditum, p. 306.
t Those who are desirous of the most accurate account of the errors of Roell, will find them enumerated in a public piece composed by the faculty of theology at Leyden, in order to confirm the sentence of condemnation that had been pronounced against them by the Dutch synods; this piece is entitled 'Judicium Ecclesiasticum, quo opiniones quædem Cl. H. A. Roellii Synodice damnatæ sunt laudatum a Professoribus Theologiæ in Academia Lugduno Batavia. Lugd. Batav. 1713, in 4to.
DP tt This affirmation is somewhat exaggerated ; at least we must not conclude from it, that Roell was either deposed or persecuted; for he exercised the functions of his professorship for several years after this at Franeker, and was afterward called to the chair of divinity at Utrecht, and that, upon the most honourable and advantageous terms. The states of Friesland published an edict enjoining silence, and forbidding all professors, pastors, &c. in their province to teach the particular opinions of Roell; and this pacific divine sacrificed the propagation of bis opinions to the love of peace and concord.' His notion concerning the Trinity did not essentially differ from the doctrine generally received upon that mysterious and unintelligible subject; and his design seemed to be no more than to prevent Christians from humanizing the relation between the Father and the Son. But this was wounding his brethren, the rigorous systematic divines, in a tender point; for if unthropomorphism, or the cusa tom of attributing to the Deity the kind of procedure in acting and judging that is usual among men, who resemble him only as imperfection resembles perfection, was banished from theology, orthodoxy would be deprived of some of its most precious phrases, and our confessions of faith and systems of doctrine would be reduced within much narrower bounds.
culiar sentiments of Becker.
Xxxv. The controversy set on foot by the ingenious Bal
thazar Becker, minister at Amsterdam, must not occasioned be omitted here. This learned ecclesiastic took
in occasion, from the Cartesian definition of spirit, of
the truth and precision of which he was intimately persuaded, to deny boldly all the accounts we have in the holy Scriptures, of the seduction, influence, and operations of the devil and his infernal emissaries ; as also all that has been said in favour of the existence of ghosts, spectres, sorcerers, and magicians. The long and laboured work he published, in the year 1691, upon this interesting subject, is still extant. In this singular production, which bears the title of The World Bewitched, he modifies and perverts, with the greatest ingenuity, but also with equal temerity and presumption, the accounts given by the sacred writers of the power of Satan and wicked angels, and of persons possessed by evil spirits ; he affirms, moreover, that the unhappy and malignant being, who is called in Scripture Satan, or the devil, is chained down with his infernal ministers in hell; so that he can never come forth from this eternal prison to terrify mortals, or to seduce the righteous from the paths of virtue. According to the Cartesian definition above mentioned, the essence of spirit consists in thought ; and from this definition, Becker drew his doctrine; since none of that influence, or of those operations that are attributed to evil spirits, can be effected by mere thinking." Rather therefore than call into question the accuracy or authority of Des Cartes, Becker thought proper to force the narrations and doctrines of Scripture into a conformity with the principles and definitions of this phi
Imou Our historian relates here somewhat obscurely the reasoning which Becker founded upon the Cartesian definition of mind or spirit. The tenor and amount of his argument is as follows : “ The essence of mind is thought, and the essence of matter is extension. Now, since there is no sort of conformity, or connexion between a thought and extension, mind cannot act upon matter unless these two substances be united, as soul and body are in man; therefore no separate spirits, either good or evil, can act upon mankind. Such acting is miraculous, and miracles can be performed by God alone. It follows of consequence, that the Scripture accounts of the actions and operations of good and evil spirits, inust be understood in an allegorical sense.” This is Becker's argument; and it does, in truth, little honour to bis acuteness and sagacity. By proving too much, it proves nothing at all; for if the want of a connexion or conformity between thought and extension renders mind incapable of acting upon matter, it is hard to see how their union should remove this incapacity, since the want of conformity and connexion remains, notwithstanding this union. Beside, according to this reasoning, the Supreme Being cannot act upon material beings. In vain does Becker : maintain the affirmative, by having recourse to a miracle ; for this would imply, that
the whole course of nature was a series of miracles, that is to say, that there are no miracles at all.
Dutch sects, Verschorists,
losopher. These errors nevertheless excited great tumults and divisions, not only in all the United Provinces, but also in some parts of Germany, where several doctors of the Lutheran church were alarmed at its progress, and arose to oppose it." Their inventor and promoter, though refuted victoriously by a multitude of adversaries, and publicly deposed from his pastoral charge, died in the year 1718, in the full persuasion of the truth of these opinions, that had drawn upon him so much opposition, and professed, with his last breath, his sincere adherence to every thing he had written on that subject. Nor can it be said, that this his doctrine died with him; since it is abundantly known, that it has still many votaries and patrons, who either hold it in secret, or profess it publicly.
XXXVI. The curious reader can be no stranger to the multitude of sects, some Christian, some half Christian, some totally delirious, that have started ver up, at different times, both in England and Hol- Hattemists. land. It is difficult indeed, for those who live in other countries, to give accurate accounts of these separatists, as the books that contain their doctrines and views are seldom dispersed in foreign nations. We have however been lately favoured with some relations, that give a clearer idea of the Dutch sects, called Verschorists and Hattemists, than we had before entertained; and it will not therefore be improper to give here some account of these remarkable communities. The former derives its denomination from Jacob Verschoor, a native of Flushing, who, in the year 1680, out of a perverse and heterogeneous mixture of the tenets of Cocceius and Spinoza, produced a new form of religion equally remarkable for its extravagance and impiety. His disciples and followers were called Hebrews, on account of the zeal and assiduity with which they all, without distinction of age or sex, applied themselves to the study of the Hebrew language. "
The Hattemists were so called from Pontian Van Hattem, a minister in the province of Zealand, who was also addicted to the sentiments of Spinoza, and was, on that account, degraded from his pastoral office. The Verscho
w See Lilienthalü Selecta Historia Literar. p. i. observat. ii. p. 17. Miscellan. Lipo siens. tom. i. p. 361, 364, where there is an explication of a satirical medal, struck to expose the sentiments of Becker. See also Nouveau Diction. Hist, et Eritiqué, tom. i. p. 193.