« הקודםהמשך »
budy of the Holom their early.ed for the minis: on
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 ininistry, 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 it. self, 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 he pronounced salutary and efficacious;" whether a licentious and ungodly man cannot be susceptible of illumination ?" and other questions of a like nature. i .
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 band, 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 8vo. The reader will also find the arguments, used by the contend. ing 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.
ers of vital religion endes. viiur to promote piety at the expense of truth.
that the lenity and indulgence shown by these people to persons whose opinions were erroneous, and whose errors weré, by no means, of an indifferent nature, irritated their adversaries to a very high degree, and made many suspect, that the pietists laid a much greater stress upon practice than upon belief, and separating what ought ever to be inseparably joined together, held virtuous manners in higher esteem than religious truth, Amidst the prodigious numbers that appeared in these controversies, it was not at all surprising, if the variety of their characters, capacities, and views, be duly considered, that some were chargeable with imprudence, others with intemperate zeal, and that many, to avoid what they looked upon as unlawful, fell injudiciously into the opposite extreme. · XXXII. The other class of pietists already mentioned, whose reforming views extended so far as to change the system of doctrine and the form of These restar: ecclesiastical government that were established in higiene endeaia the Lutheran church, comprehended persons of various characters and different ways of thinking. Some of them were totally destitute of reason and judgment; their errors were the reveries of a disordered brain ; and they were rather to be considered as lunatics than as heretics. Others were less extravagant, and tempered the singular notions, they had derived from reading or meditation, with a certain mixture of the important truths and doctrines of religion. We shall mention but a few persons of this class, and those only who are distinguished from the rest by their superior merit and reputation.
Among these was Godfrey Arnold, a native of Saxony, a man of extensive reading, tolerable parts, and richly endowed with that natural and ủnaffected eloquence, which is so wonderfully adapted to touch and to persuade. This man disturbed the tranquillity of the church toward the conclusion of this century, by a variety of theological productions, that were full of new and singular opinions; and more especially by his Ecclesiastical History, which he had the assurance to impose upon the public, as a work composed with candour and impartiality. His natural complexion was dark, melancholy, and austere ; and these seeds of fanaticism were so expanded and nourished by the perusal of the mystic writers, that the flame of enthusiasm was kindled in his breast, and broke forth in his conduct
Perusal of the man were so expanded austere ; and these
and writings with peculiar vehemence. He looked upon the mystics as superior to all other writers, nay, as the only depositaries of true wisdom; reduced the whole of religion to certain internal feelings and motions, of which it is difficult to form a just idea ; neglected entirely the study of truth; and employed the whole power of his genius and eloquence in enu nerating, deploring, and exaggerating, the vices and corruptions of human nature. If it is universally allowed to be the first and most essential obliga. tion of an historian to avoid all appearance of partiality, and neither to be influenced by personal attachments nor by private resentment in the recital of facts, it must be fairly acknowledged, that no man could be less fit for writing history than Arnold. His whole history, as every one must see who looks into it with the smallest degree of attention, is the production of a violent spirit, and is dictated by a vehement antipathy against the doctrines and institutions of the Lutheran church. One of the fundamental principles that influences the judgment, and directs the opinions and decisions of this historian, throughout the whole course of his work, is, that all the abuses and corruptions, that have found admittance into the church since the time of the apostles, have been introduced by its ministers and rulers, men of vicious and abandoned characters. From this principle, he draws the following goodly consequence; that all those who opposed the measures of the clergy, or felt their resentment, were persons of distinguished sanctity and virtue ; and that such, on the contrary, as either favoured the ministers of the church, or were favoured by them, were strangers to the spirit of true and genuine piety.. Hence proceeded Arnold's unaccountable partiality in favour of almost all that bore the denomination of heretics ;" whom he defended with the utmost zeal, without having always understood their doctrine, and, in some cases, without having even examined their arguments. This partiality was highly detrimental to his reputation, and rendered his history peculiarly obnoxious to censure. He did not however continue in this way of thinking ; but, as he advanced in years and experience, perceived the errors into which he had been led by the impetuosity of his pas
Qpo Arnold's history is thus entitled, Historia Ecclesiastica et Heretica. Dr. Mom sheim's account of this learned man, is drawn up with much severity, and perhaps is not entirely destitute of partiality. See the life of Arnold in the General Dictionary.