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chapters, treats,-1. Of the doctrinal system of the Brethren, according to its gradual development, since the year 1741; here it is shown in what respects Count Zinzendorf, in his discourses and hymns, had departed from Scripture, and from the Lutheran church. 2. Of the Büdingen New Testament, especially its second edition; and how far the Count had sought to accommodate his translation of the New Testament to private views, by departing from the exact meaning of the text. 3. Of the Brethren's way of interpreting the Apocalypse ; showing, that their appeal to many passages of it in support of their own sentiments, was in consequence of their not rightly understanding this sacred book. - In the second part, after noticing the Count's particular object, and the danger to be apprehended by the evangelical church from the present position of the Herrnhut community, he adds a wish that the Count might prove really serious in his late modified statements and expressions. He next notices the bands, (i. e. the arrangement of the Brethren's church into companies, under the denominations of Moravian, Lutheran, and Reformed,) and shows, that by this arrangement the medley of religious professions was remedied only in appear
For if each individual member were left to the particular and private persuasion which he had brought with him to Herrnhut, it would be needful to form besides, he knew not how many subdivisions; whereas the real object of the Count was, after all, to assimilate the whole heterogeneous mass to a mould of his own; so that the appointment of these three bands was a mere specious contrivance. Bengel concluded with expressing what he thought was likely to be the result; but recommended that no further animadversions should be made upon points which Spangenberg, in his last public explanation, had omitted or retracted; that forbearance of this kind might help to bring them round into the right direction; and that it would be well if, in framing their doctrinal system, the Brethren's church would generally prefer Spangenberg to their other advisers. The appendix contains Bengel's earlier reflections and remarks upon this church. Nor can we omit to notice, that Bengel, in his preface to the work, addresses particularly all devout members of their congregations; and adds a few words to " the children of this world.” He tells the latter, that in all these concerns there
is examined; the good parts of each distinguished from their opposites; and Spangenberg's Declaration carefully considered. By John Albert Bengel : In two parts, Stuttgard; published by John Benedict Metzler, 1751."
was nothing for them either to ridicule or to be offended with; but that their business was seriously to consider, that trials and temptations of a heavier and far severer kind might await them. He begged they would maturely reflect on that declaration in Scripture, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?' That they needed a renewed mind to enable them to judge of matters like these; and he hoped they would consider and apply what they read in this work of his to their own amendment.--To the former he says, “ Hear me, that God
you. It is not an enemy, but a sincere friend, that holds out to us the truth for its own sake. I would hope to be made manifest in your consciences, though by ever so slow degrees. Be not afraid to read and examine this · Sketch' of remarks upon your church, lest
should have to answer to God for inattention to truth which it contains. Peace and be with you! How shall I rejoice to be found hereafter to have been one of the helpers of your joy!”
As to the effect of this publication, some, even of the Brethren's church themselves, widely differed in sentiment upon its contents. Frohberger, in his " Letters upon Herrnhut,” p. 67, says__"The noblest and best deserving opponent of Count Zinzendorf was the honest and pious abbot Bengel. He drew up a treatise on the Brethren's church, with much more meekness, love, and conciliation than belong to other controversial works on the subject; and there was reason to think it was useful to the church of the Brethren." On the other hand, pastor Böttinger, in the year 1759, says of it—" Bengel's Sketch' of remarks is a very dangerous work; it goes to undermine the doctrine of Christ's atonement. Scripture, according to his showing, speaks of other means against sin, besides the sufferings and blood of Jesus."* Another, and still different opinion of the work, was expressed by Fresenius, a senior at Frankfort, and an adherent to the school of Halle. He says" The 'Sketch' of remarks is quite to the purpose, and contains many well-pointed observations; but I can hardly help thinking, that in some places it handles the Count rather too tenderly."
Neither the Count, nor Spangenberg, nor any member of the Brethren's church, undertook roundly to answer it. Here, however, it is but justice to observe, that from the year 1740 to 1750 was certainly a most critical period to that church; and that serious endeavours were made by its members gradually to return from their various aberrations. Spangenberg, in his life of the Count,* speaks of several siftings by the great adversary, against which, principally after the year 1748, the Count saw himself obliged to make his stand. He also relates, that the Count this same year resolved upon avoiding whatever was peculiar, eccentric, or at all likely to give unnecessary offence,-indeed, upon making as little display of every thing as possible :f and that he declared to the public, (in the 8th number of the “ Dresden Literary Notices," p.127,) that“ he could from this time no longer authorise his own writings hitherto published, till they had been reprinted with his amendments, remarks, and explanations." He assigned as his reason for this, that "it had been his own case, like
* This refers to p. 91 of the “Sketch,” where it is said, “ There are other efficient means for extinguishing evil and unclean imaginations, besides representing to the senses our Saviour's scourging and crucifixion; inasmuch as every beam of scripture truth carries its own influence for enlightening us in the knowledge of God and of our selves; for humbling, cheering, and invigorating us," &c.
many other writers, to publish thoughts which he was quite taken with at first, but which he was afterwards ashamed of and retracted; and that it was not in his power to correct the whole so entirely at their first revisal as he would have done." He condemned and destroyed all the copies which he could collect of the twelfth supplement to the hymns, and gave this public testimony upon the doctrine of the Trinity,—" That from the moment he saw how his expressions relative to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were taken, he was shocked at it, and abandoned every expression of the sort. He desired that wherever such were found in his writings, they might be erased, and that no one in future would repeat them. That he abhorred unscriptural speculations upon the mystery of the Godhead, and was thankful to the Saviour of all men, that he had escaped the fire uninjured." And now the Brethren's church, in a formal and solemn manner, declared to the Saxon Lutheran Commissioners deputed to its synod in 1748, to the British Government in 1749, and to that of Russia in 1762, its adherence to the Augsburg Confession ; and it published at length by Spangenberg, in 1778, what the Würtemberg divines had so often wished to see,-a particular and
* Pp. 1682, 1755, 1769, 1914, 1941. + P. 1739.
I To the same effect Spangenberg says in a letter to prelate Roos, A. D. 1781, that “Bengel's work could now prove nothing further against the Brethren, as it every where related to the writings of the Count, all of which, so far as they were left unrevised by himself. he had renounced, some years before his death; and that it was his opinion that Bengel, were he now living, would write nothing more against the Brethren.”
full confession of faith, entitled, “Idea fidei Fratrum," or " An abstract of Christian doctrine as taught in the evangelical congregations of the Brethren;" which excellent book has served in a very gratifying manner to prevent any further uncertainty as to their peculiar mode of teaching. How far Bengel himself, and how far other persons of good or bad intentions, contributed by their animadversions to bring about this happy effect, is known only to the Searcher of hearts. Crantz, however, in his History of the Brethren, (p. 161,) remarks that "it may be truly said of some of those writers, that in many and various ways they were serviceable to the Brethren; as, for instance, in showing them wherein they had deviated, though not from the one only ground of salvation, yet from a simple and scriptural mode of teaching; and how they had inconsiderately, in some of their expressions and observances, given occasion of offence to the pure minds of many, who were not accurately informed respecting them. That this had led them deeply to humble themselves before God, and to use more forethought and circumspection in all they say and do.”
But though it thus appears that Bengel was one of those who assisted in rectifying the church of the Brethren, at a very critical period of their history, and that hereby he contributed to their attainment of that manifold blessing which has crowned the labours of this church in many parts of the world very remote from each other; still it may be asked, as his opinions had such influence, especially with the religiously disposed, and as that influence, during his life-time, and for many years afterwards, almost excluded from the confines of Würtemberg the beneficial spread of a community, which has promoted so much good wherever it has made its way; whether he did not thus hinder an important blessing from accruing to his country. But, on the other hand, we may ask, whether Bengel and his associates did not abundantly make good any deficiency of this kind, by their procuring for Würtemberg more lenient enactments respecting private meetings, and more liberty of conscience for the exercise of religion in general; hereby effectually thwarting that spirit of separatism which had begun so fearfully to prevail, and obtaining free scope for a more effectual and various development of pure religion than other countries then enjoyed; whether this did not serve to promote there the kingdom of God, far more in respect of solidity, comprehensiveness and result, than if that germ of it which Providence, as it appears, had committed to their own special care, had been consigned over to the charge of the United Brethren. And again, whether Würtemberg, at a season of very general defection in other countries from the ancient doctrine, did not possess such a blessing upon its regular ministry, and in most of its churches such a plenitude of truly vital religion, that abbot * Steinmetz might well say of it as he did, "Würtemberg is the apple of God's eye.” Now had settlements of the Brethren been formed in it, and had they drawn into their own community all the friends of true Christianity found amongst us, and moulded them into their own form, especially that imperfect form which then existed, is it so likely that those eminent men of our own church who so excellently defended Christian truth at a time of such peril, would ever þave made their appearance ? How very many of those active and valuable persons who have helped to the propagation of true Christianity in Germany, and assisted in Bible and Missionary Societies, and in every good that has been effected by the revival of religion during the last twenty or thirty years, have grown up in the church of Würtemberg alone! Neither was it necessary that the kingdom of Christ should be furthered in one particular way, and by one particular instrumentality, in each and every country. Moreover, events have shown, that Bengel rightly observed of his own times, that “the period for concentrating all the good of our various churches was not yet arrived ;” and he rightly taught, that to renounce all hope of further spiritual cultivation in the national church, to pluck up the few remaining plants scattered over its general field, and to set them close together in one furrow, would be quite unwarrantable.
* “The church of Würtemberg is ruled by four superintendents, who are styled abbots, and thirty-eight rural deans. A synod is annually held in the autumn. Education, and ecclesiastical studies in particular, are favoured by laudable institutions, not to be found in any other country.”—Pinkerton's Geography.