« הקודםהמשך »
The state of
xix. The science of morals, which must ever be esteemed the master science, from its immediate influence Th upon life and manners, was, for a long time, ne- moral, sendo glected among the Lutherans. If we except a few therans. eminent men, such as Arndt and Gerhard, who composed some popular treatises concerning the internal worship of the Deity, and the duties of Christians, there did not appear, during the greater part of this century, any moral writer of distinguished merit. Hence it happened, that those who applied themselves to the business of resolving what are called cases of conscience, were hield in high esteem, and their tribunals were much frequented. But as the true principles and foundations of morality were not, as yet, established with a sufficient degree of precision and evidence, their decisions were often erroneous, and they were liable to fall into daily mistakes. Calixtus was the first who separated the objects of faith from the duties of morality, and exhibited the latter under the form of an independent science. He did not indeed live to finish this work, the beginning of which met with universal applause; his disciples however employed, with some degree of success, the instructions they had received from their master, in executing his plan, and composing a system of moral theology. This system, in process of time, fell into discredit, on account of the peripatetic form under which it appeared ; for, notwithstanding the striking repugnance that there is, in the very nature of things, between the beautiful science of morals, and the perplexing intricacies of metaphysics, Calixtus could not abstain from the latter in building his moral system. The moderns however stripped morality of the peripatetic garment, calling to their assistance the law of nature, which had been explained and illustrated by Puffendorf and other authors, and comparing this law with the sacred writings, they not only discovered the true springs of Christian virtue, and entered into the true spirit and sense of the divine laws, but also digested the whole science of morals in a better order, and demonstrated its principles with a new and superior degree of evidence.
xx. These improvements in theology and morality did not diffuse such a spirit of concord in the Lutheran com church, as was sufficient to heal ancient divisions, and contests in or to prevent new ones. That church, on the con- church.
trary, was involved in the most lamentable commotions and tumults, during the whole course of this century, partly by the controversies that arose among its most eminent doctors, and partly by the intemperate zeal of violent reformers, the fanatical predictions of pretended prophets, and the rash measures of innovators, who studiously spread among the people new, singular, and, for the most part, extravagant opinions. The controversies that divided the Lutheran doctors may be ranged under two classes, according to their different importance and extent, as some of them involved the whole church in tumult and discord, while others were less universal in their pernicious effects. Of the former class there were two controversies, that gave abundant exercise to the polemic talents of the Lutheran doctors during the greatest part of this century; and these turned upon the religious systems that are generally known under the denominations of syncretism and pietism. Nothing could be more amiable than the principles that gave rise to the former, and nothing more respectable and praiseworthy than the design that was proposed by the latter. The syncretists, animated with that fraternal love and pacific spirit, which Jesus Christ had so often recommended as the peculiar characteristics of his true disciples, used their warmest endeavours to promote union and concord among Christians; and the pietists had undoubtedly in view the restoration and advancement of that holiness and virtue, that had suffered so much by the influence of licentious manners on the one hand, and by the turbulent spirit of controversy on the other. These two great and amiable virtues, that gave rise to the projects and efforts of the two orders of persons now mentioned, were combated by a third, even a zeal for maintaining the truth, and preserving it from all mixture of error. Thus the love of truth was unhappily found to stand in opposition to the love of union, piety, and concord; and thus, in this present critical and corrupt state of human nature, the unruly and turbulent passions of men can, by an egregious abuse, draw the worst consequences from the best things, and render the most excellent principles and views productive of confusion, calamity, and discord.
ac spirit, whos animate, hat was respectables
a The Syncretists were also called Calixtines, from their chief, George Calixtus; and Helmstadians, from the university where their plan of doctrine and union took its rise.
The rise of the
XXI. The origin of syncretism was owing to George Calixtus of Sleswick, a man of eminent and distin- tu guished abilities and merit, and who had few syncretistical or equals in this century, either in point of learning troversies. or genius. This great man being placed in a university, which, from the very time of its foundation, had been remarkable for encouraging freedom of inquiry, improved this happy privilege, examined the respective doctrines of the various sects that bear the Christian name, and found, in the notions commonly received among divines, some things defective and erroneous. He accordingly gave early intimations of his dissatisfaction with the state of theology, and lamented, in a more particular manner, the divisions and factions that reigned among the servants and disciples of the same great master. He therefore turned his views to the salutary work of softening the animosities produced by these divisions, and showed the warmest desire, not so much of establishing a perfect harmony and concord between the jarring sects, which no human power seemed capable of effecting, as of extinguishing the hatred and appeasing the resentment, which the contending parties discovered too much in their conduct toward each other. His colleagues did not seem at all averse to this pacific project; and the surprise that this their silence or acquiescence must naturally excite, in such as are acquainted with the theological spirit of the seventeenth century, will be diminished, when it is considered, that the professors of divinity at Helmstadt bind themselves, at their admission, by an oath, to use their best and most zealous endeavours to heal the divisions, and terminate the contests that prevailamong Christians. Neither Calixtus, however, nor his friends, escaped the opposition that it was natural to expect in the execution of such an unpopular and comprehensive project. They were warmly attacked, in the year 1639, by Statius Buscherus, a Hanoverian ecclesiastic, a bigoted votary of Ramus, a declared enemy to all philosophy, and a man of great temerity and imprudence. This man, exasperated at the preference Calixtus and his companions had given to the peripatetic philosophy over the principles of the Ramists, composed a very malignant
b. The university of Helmstadt, in the dutcby of Brunswick, founded in the year.
book, entitled, Crypto Papismus novæ Theologicæ Helmstadiensis, in which Calixtus was charged with a long list of errors. Though this production made some small impression on the minds of certain persons, it is nevertheless probable, that Buscher would have almost universally passed for a partial, malicious, and rash accuser, had his invectives and complaints rendered Calixtus more cautious and prudent. But the upright and generous heart of this eminent man, which disdained dissimulation to a degree that bordered upon the extreme of imprudence, excited him to speak with the utmost frankness his private sentiments, and thus to give a certain measure of plausibility to the accusations of his adversary. Both he and his colleague Conrad Horneius maintained, with boldness and perseverance, several propositions, which appeared to many others beside Buscher, new, singular, and of a dangerous tendency; and Calixtus more especially, by the freedom and plainness with which he declared and defended his sentiments, drew upon him the resentment and indignation of the Saxon doctors, who in the year 1645, were present at the conference of Thorn. He had been chosen by Frederic William, elector of Brandenburg, as colleague and assistant to the divines he sent from Koningsberg to these conferences; the Saxon deputies were greatly incensed to see a Lutheran ecclesiastic in the character of an assistant to a deputation of reformed doctors. This first cause of offence was followed by other incidents, in the course of these conferences, which increased the resentment of the Saxons against Calixtus, and made them accuse him of leaning to the side of the reformed churches. We cannot enter here into a circumstantial account of this matter, which would lead us from our main design. We shall only observe, that when these conferences broke up, the Saxon doctors, and more especially Halseman, Weller, Scharfius, and Calovius, turned the whole force of their polemic weapons against Calixtus ; and, in their public writings, reproached him with apostacy from the principles of Lutheranism, and with a propensity toward the sentiments both of the reformed and Romish churches. This great man did not receive tamely the insults of his adversaries. His consummate knowledge of the philosophy that reigned in the schools, and his perfect acquaintance
ci. C. Popery disguised under the mask of the nero Theological system of Helmstadt.
with the history of the church, rendered him an able disputant; and accordingly he repelled, with the greatest vigour, the attacks of his enemies, and carried on, with uncommon spirit and erudition, this important controversy, until the year 1656, when death put an end to his labours, and transported him from these scenes of dissension and tumult into the regions of peace and concord.
XXII. Neither the death of Calixtus, nor the decease of his principal adversaries, were sufficient to ex- 7 tinguish the flame they had kindled ; on the con- lien ausd issue. trary, the contest was carried on, after that peri- bates. od, with more animosity and violence than ever. The Saxon doctors, and more especially Calovius, insulted the ashes, and attacked the memory of this great man with unexampled bitterness and malignity; and, in the judgment of many eminent and worthy doctors, who were by no means the partisans of Calixtus, conducted themselves with such imprudence and temerity, as were every way adapted to produce an open schism in the Lutheran church. They drew up a new kind of creed, or confession of the Lutheran faith, which they proposed to place in the class of what the members of our communion call their symbolical books, and which, of consequence, all professors of divinity and all candidates for the ministry would be obliged to subscribe, as containing the true and genuine doctrine of the Lutheran church. By this new production of intemperatelzeal, the friends and followers of Calixtus were declared unworthy of the communion of that church; and were accordingly supposed to have forfeited all right to
The continua. lion and issue of these de
d Those who desire to be more minutely acquainted with the particular circumstances of this famous controversy, the titles and characters of the books published on that occasion, and the doctrines that produced such warm contests, and such deplorable divisions, will do well to consult Walchius, Carolus, Weisman, Arnold, and other writers; but above all, the third volume of the Cimbria Literata of Mollerus, p. 121, in which there is an ample account of the life, transactions, and writings of Calixtus. But, if any reader should push his curiosity still further, and be solicitous to know the more secret springs that acted in this whole affair, the remote causes of the events and transactions relating to it, the spirit, views, and characters of the disputants, the arguments used on both sides ; in a word, those things that are principally interesting and worthy of attention in controversies of this kind, he will find no history that will satisfy him fully in these respects. A history that would throw a proper light upon these important matters, must be composed by a man of great candour and abilities; by one who knows the world, has studied human nature, is furnished with materials and documents that lie as yet concealed in the cabinets of the curious, and is not un. acquainted with the spirit that reigas, and the cabals that are carried on in the courts of princes. But were such a historian to be found, I question very much, whether, even in our times, he could publish without danger all the circumstances of this memorable contest. e The title of this new creed was Consensus repetiti Fidei veræ Lutherand. VOL. IV,