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ed by the church. These enthusiasts also asserted, that the millennium, or thousand years reign of the saints on earth, mentioned by St. John, was near at hand. They endeavoured to overturn the wisest establishments, and to destroy the best institutions, and desired that the power of preaching and administering public instruction might be given promiscuously to all sorts of persons. Thus was the Lutheran church torn asunder in the most deplorable manner, while the votaries of Rome stood by and beheld, with a secret satisfaction, these unhappy divisions. The most violent debates arose in all the Lutheran churches; and persons, whose differences were occasioned rather by mere words and questions of little consequence, than by any doctrines or institutions of considerable importance, attacked one another with the bitterest animosity; and, in many countries, severe laws were at length enacted against the pietists. xxix. These revivers of piety were of two kinds, who,
by their different manner of proceeding, deserve The contantes to be placed in two distinct classes. One sect of
these practical reformers proposed to carry on vines of Halle. their plan without introducing any change into the doctrine, discipline, or form of government that were established in the Lutheran church. The other maintained, on the contrary, that it was impossible to promote the progress of real piety among the Lutherans, without making considerable alterations in their doctrine, and changing the whole form of their ecclesiastical discipline and polity. The former had at their head the learned and pious Spener, who, in the year 1691, removed from Dresden to Berlin, and whose sentiments were adopted by the professors of the new academy at Halle ; and particularly by Franck
carried on with Speper and tbe di
m This whole matter is amply illustrated by the learned Jo. George Walchius in his Introductio ad Controversias, vol. ii. and iii. who exhibits, successively, the various scenes of this deplorable contest, with a view of the principal points that were controverted, and his judgment concerning each, and a particular account of the writers, that displayed their talents on this occasion. It would indeed be difficult for any one man to give an ample and exact history of this contest, which was accompanied with so many incidental circumstances, and was, upon the whole, of such a tedious and complicated nature. It were therefore to be wished, that a society of prudent and impartial persons, furnished with a competent knowledge of human nature and political transactions, and also with proper naterials, would set themselves to compose the history of Pietism. If several persons were employed in collecting from public records, and also from papers that lie yet concealed in the cabinets of the curious, the events which happened in each country where this controversy reigned ; and if these materials, thus carefully gathered on the spot, were put in the hands of a man capable of digesting the whole, this would produce a most interesting and useful history,
ius and Paulus Antonius, who had been invited thither from Leipsic, where they began to be suspected of pietism. Though few pretended to treat either with indignation or contempt the intentions and purpose of these good men, which indeed none could despise without affecting to appear the enemy of practical religion and virtue, yet many eminent divines, and more especially the professors and pastors of Wittemberg, were of opinion, that, in the execution of this laudable purpose, several maxims were adopted, and certain measures employed, that were prejudicial to the truth, and also detrimental to the interests of the church. Hence they looked on themselves as obliged to proceed publicly, first against Spener, in the year 1695, and afterward against his disciples and adherents, as the inventers and promoters of erroneous and dangerous opinions. These debates are of a recent date; so that those who are desirous of knowing more particularly how far the principles of equity, moderation, and candour influenced the conduct and directed the proceedings of the contending parties, may easily receive a satisfactory information.
xxx. These debates turned upon a variety of points; and therefore the matter of them cannot be com- The subject of prehended under any one general head. If we these deintes. consider them indeed in relation to their origin, and the circumstances that gave rise to them, we shall then be able to reduce them to some fixed principles. It is well known that those who had the advancement of piety most zealously at heart, were possessed of a notion, that no order of men contributed more to retard its progress than the clergy,
whose peculiar vocation it was to inculcate and promote it. Looking upon this as the root of the evil, it was but natural that their plans of reformation should begin here; and, accordingly, they laid it down as an essential principle, that none should be admitted into the ministry, but such as had received a proper education, were distinguished by their wisdom and sanctity of manners, and had hearts filled with divine love. Hence they proposed, in the first place, a thorough reformation of the schools of divinity; and they explained clearly enough what they meant by this reformation, which consisted in the following points; that the systematical theology, which reigned in the academies, and was composed of intricate and disputable doctrines, and obscure and umusual forms of expression, should be totally abolished; that polemical divinity, which comprehended the controversies subsisting between Christians of different communions, should be less eagerly studied, and less frequently treated, though not entirely neglected; that all mixture of philosophy and human learning with divine wisdom was to be most carefully avoided ; that, on the contrary, all those who were designed for the ministry, should be accustomed, from their early youth, to the perusal and study of the Holy Scriptures; that they should be taught a plain system of theology, drawn from these unerring sources of truth; and that the whole course of their education was to be so directed, as to render them useful in life, by the practical power of their doctrine, and the commanding influence of their example. As these maxims were propagated with the greatest industry and zeal, and were explained inadvertently by some, without those restrictions which prudence seemed to require; these professed patrons and revivers of piety were suspected of designs that could not but render them obnoxious to censure. They were supposed to despise philosophy and learning, to treat with indifference, and even to renounce, all inquiries into the nature and foundations of religious truth, to disapprove of the zeal and labours of those who defended it against such as either corrupted or opposed it, and to place the whole of their theology in certain vague and incoherent declamations concerning the duties of morality. Hence arose those famous disputes concerning the use of philosophy and the value of human learning, considered in connexion with the interests of religion; the dignity and usefulness of systematic theology; the necessity of polemic divinity; the excellence of the mystic system; and also concerning the true method of instructing the people.
The second great object that employed the zeal and attention of the persons now under consideration, was, that the candidates for the ministry should not only, for the future, receive such an academical education as would tend rather to solid utility than to mere speculation; but also that they should dedicate themselves to God in a peculiar. manner, and exhibit the most striking examples of piety and virtue. This maxim, which, when considered in itself, must be acknowledged to be highly laudable, not only gave occasion to several new regulations, designed to restrain the passions of the studious youth, to inspire them
with pious sentiments, and to excite in them holy resolutions; but also produced another maxim, which was a lasting source of controversy and debate, viz. “That no person, that was not himself a model of piety and divine love, was qualified to be a public teacher of piety, or a guide to others in the way of salvation.”
This opinion was considered by many as derogatory from the power and efficacy of the word of God, which cannot be deprived of its divine influence by the vices of its ministers; and as a sort of revival of the long exploded errors of the Donatists ; and what rendered it peculiarly liable to an interpretation of this nature was, the imprudence of some pietists, who inculcated and explained it, without those restrictions that were necessary to render it unexceptionable. Hence arose endless and intricate debates concerning the following questions: “Whether the religious knowledge acquired by a wicked man can be termed theology;" “whether a vicious person can, in effect, attain to a true knowledge of religion;" “how far the office and ministry of an impious ecclesiastic can be pronounced salutary and efficacious ; " " whether a licentious and ungodly man cannot be susceptible of illumination ?" and other questions of a like nature.
xxxi. These revivers of declining piety went yet further. In order to render the ministry of their pastors as successful as possible in rousing men from their indolence, and in stemming the torrent of corruption and immorality, they judged two things indispensably necessary. The first was, to suppress entirely, in the course of public instruction, and more especially in that delivered from the pulpit, certain maxims and phrases which the corruption of men leads them frequently to interpret in a manner favourable to the indulgence of their passions. Such, in the judgment of the pietists, were the following propositions : "no man is able to attain to that perfection which the divine law requires; good works are not necessary to salvation; in the act of justification, on the part of man, faith alone is concerned, without good works.” Many however were apprehensive that, by the suppression of these propositions, truth itself must suffer deeply; and that the Christian religion, deprived thus of its peculiar doctrines, would be exposed, naked and defenceless, to the attacks of its adversaries. The second step they took, in order to give efficacy
to their plans of reformation, was to form new rules of life and manners, much more rigorous and austere than those which had been formerly practised; and to place in the class of sinful and unlawful gratifications several kinds of pleasure and amusement, which had hitherto been looked upon as innocent in themselves, and which could only become good or evil in consequence of the respective characters of those who used them with prudence, or abused them with intemperance. Thus, dancing, pantomimes, public sports, theatrical diversions, the reading of humorous and comical books, with several other kinds of pleasure and entertainment, were prohibited by the pietists, as unlawful and unseemly; and therefore by no means of an indifferent nature. Many however thought this rule of moral discipline by far too rigid and severe; and thus was revived the ancient contests of the schoolmen, concerning the famous question, whether any human actions are truly indifferent, i. e. equally removed from moral good on the one hand, and from moral evil on the other; and whether, on the contrary, it be not true, that all actions, whatever, must be either considered as good or as evil. The discussion of this question was attended with a variety of debates upon the several points of the prohibition now mentioned; and these debates were often carried on with animosity and bitterness, and very rarely with that precision, temper, and judgment that the nicety of the matters in dispute required. The third thing, on which the pietists insisted, was, that beside the stated meetings for public worship, private assemblies should be held for prayer and other religious exercises. But many were of opinion, that the cause of true piety and virtue was rather endangered than promoted by these assemblies; and experience and observation seemed to confirm this opinion. It would be both endless and un. necessary to enumerate all the little disputes that arose from the appointment of these private assemblies, and, in general, from the notions entertained, and the measures pursued by the pietists." It is nevertheless proper to observe,
n These debates were first collected, and also needlessly multiplied, by Schelgvigius, in his Synopsis Controversiarum sub pietatis prætextu motarum, which was published in the year 1701, in Svo. The reader will also find the arguments, used by the contending parties in this dispute, judiciously summed up in two different works of Langius, the one entitled, Antibarbarus ; and the other the Middleway; the former composed in Latin, the latter in German. See also the Timotheus Verinus of Val. Ern. Loscherus.