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stration. Under this new and respectable form it СENT. captivated the attention and esteem of the greatest part of the German philosophers, and of those in general who pursue truth through the paths of strict evidence; and it was applied with great ardour and zeal to illustrate and confirm the great truths both of natural and revealed religion. This application of the First Philosophy gave much uneasiness to some pious men, who were extremely solicitous to preserve pure and unmixed the doctrines of Christianity; and it was accordingly opposed by them with great eagerness and obstinacy. Thus the ancient contest between Philosophy and Theology, Faith, and Reayon, was unhappily revived, and has been carried on with much animosity for several years past. For many are of opinion, that this metaphysical philosophy inspires youthful minds with notions that are far from being favourable to the doctrines, and more especially to the positive institutions, of religion ; that, seconded by the warmth of fancy, at that age of levity and presumption, it engenders an arrogant contempt of Divine Revelation, and an excessive attachment to human reason, as the only infallible guide of man; and that, instead of throwing new light on the science of theology, and giving it an additional air of dignity, it has contributed, on the contrary, to cover it with obscurity, and to sink it into oblivion and contempt.

XIX. In order to justify this heavy charge The Weragainst the metaphysical philosophy, they appeal theimtransto the writings of LAURENT SCHMIDT, whom Bi

am lation of the they commonly call the Wertheim interpreter, from the place of his residence. This man, who was by no means destitute of abilities, and had acquired a profound knowledge of the philosophy now under consideration, undertook, some years ago, a new German translation of the Holy Scrip

tures,

XVII

CENT. tures, to which he prefixed a new system of theor

logy, drawn up in a geumetrical order, that was to serve him as a guide in the exposition of the sacred oracles. This undertaking proved highly detrimental to its author, as it drew upon bim from many quarters severe marks of opposition and reseniment; for, scarcely had he published the Five Books of Moses, as a specimen of his method and abilities, when he was not only attacked by several writers, but also brought be. fore the supreme tribunal of the empire, and there a cused as an enemy of the Christian religion, and a caviller at divine truth. This severe charge was founded upon this circumstance only, that he had boldly departed from the common explication of certain passages in the books of Moses, which are generally supposed to prefigure the MESSIAH (m). On this account he was cast into prison, and his errors were looked upon as capitally criminal; but he luckily escaped the vigilance of his keepers, and saved himself by

flight. The con- XX. The bare indication of the controversies troversies that have divided the Lutheran church since the tistical, and commencement of this century would make up a

: long list. The religious contests that were set gious contests, divide on foot by 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 in process

oth

an church. Palvo WII anIOSILY,

[m] Dr Mosheim gives here bụt the half of the accu, sation brought against Schmidt, in the year 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 Moses. It was by the authority of an Imperial edict, addressed by CHARLES VI. to the prince of the empire, that SCHMIDT was imprisoned.

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of time, and seem at present to be all reduced to C E N T. the following question, Whether a wicked man be capable of acquiring a true and certain knowledge 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 deci. sion, 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 happi. ness. The mild and indulgent sentiments of John FABRICIUS, professor of divinity at Helmstadt, concerning the importance of the controversy between the Lutherans and Roman-Catholics, excited also a warm debate; for this doctor, together with his disciples, went so far as to main. tain, that the difference between the two churches was of so little consequence, that a Lutheran might safely embrace popery. The famous controversies that have been carried on between certain divines, and some eminent civilians, concerning the rites and obligations of wedlock, the law. ful 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 duration, we shall pass over in silence, as the knowledge 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 The state of same external aspect under which it has been al- the reform

ed church. ready described [n]. For, though there be eve

[n] This description the reader will find above, at the beginning of the last century.

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CE N T. where extant certain books, creeds, and confes.

sions, 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 religion, and take care to avoid too great an intimacy (0) with the tenets of Socinianism and Popery, are deemed worthy members of the reformed church . Hence, in our times, this great and extensive community comprehends, in its bosom, Arminians, Calvanists, Supralapsarians, Sublapsarians,

o [0] 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 cere tain approaches towards 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 knowledge places him beyond the suspicion of an involuntary mistake in this matter. It is true, this reflection bears hard upon his candour , and we are extremely sorry that we cannot, in this place, do justice to the knowledge of that great man, without arraigning his equity.

[p] 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 have, besides their respective and particular systems of government and discipline, 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 Reforma tion, 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 govern ment and discipline. The toleration that is enjoyed by the various sects and dencminations 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,

and

XVIII.

and Universalists, who live iogether in charity CENT. and friendship (9), and unite (heir efforts in heal. ing the breach, and dimmishing the weight and importance of those controversies that separate them from each other (r). This moderation

is,

. [9] 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, indifference about truth, or 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 established Church of England has its peculiar system of doctrine and go, vernment, 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 res spective 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 more moderate members of the national church, who look upon them as their brethren.

[r] In the 4to edition of this work, I mistook, in a moment of inadvertency, the construction of this sentence in the original 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 hem 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

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