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All stretches of power by the ruling authority, over a people, ought to be cautiously guarded against by every conftitutional exertion : and the frame of the British constitution is confessedly most wisely contrived for this falutary purpose, by the confent of the representatives of the people being eflential in the formation of all the laws by which they are governed. If the conduct of these delegates displease them, the power they exercise expires, and returns into the hands of the people, who may then chuse others. Here the popular share in governing themfelves, which can never be too 'highly extolled, begins; and, from the impracticability of going farther, here it ends. To Teplace power in the fame hands that are charged with having already misused it, is a tacit acquittal from that charge ; and if we coolly appeal from the daily reproaches with which our representatives are so plenteously loaded to the ftatute-book, in which their transactions are truly and indelibly recorded, from thence, and thence only, a mature idea of their principles and conduct is to be formed.
ART. VI. The Ancient and Modern Hisory of the Brethren : or, à
succine Narrative of the Proteftant Church of the United Brethren, or Unita: Fratrum, in the remoter Ages, and particularly in the present Century. Written in German by David Crantz, Author of The History of Greenland. Now translated into English, with Emendations; and published, with some additional Notes, by Ben. jamin La Trobe. 8vo. 6s. 6 d. in boards. Robson, &c. 1780.
ORAVIANISM may not improperly be called the bright
fide of fanaticism. Its principles indeed lie very remote from common sense ; and having their origin in certain interior feelings, that have little connection with the general phenomena of Nature, or the regular fyftem of the human understanding, are very difficult to be comprehended by a mere speculative enquirer. And yet the most obscure theology of the German mystics hath a dialect peculiarly suited to it, which makes it intelligible to thofe whom a plainer system would disgust. There is a certain perversion of intellect which can relish nothing but what is dark and enigmatical; and though many of the speculations of visionary enthusiasts are, when accurately fifted to the bottom, nothing but plain and common truths ; yet the moment they are brought out of the obfcurity into which a wild and irregular imagination had thrown them, they lose all their efficacy, and that which is thoroughly comprehended, ceafes to affect. There is undoubtedly a fascinating charm in language. Poets and orators have long availed themselves of its influence; nor have the great leaders of fanaticism been less attentive to the magic of language in their own way. They have ever found their account in that species of it, which is 5
equivocal to the understanding that, to which 'no decifive. ideas can be affixed; that, which eludes all logical definition, and leaves the fancy 'to range at liberty in an unbounded wilderness, where the little light it hath a diftant glimpse of, ferves but 66 to make darkness more visible.”
Fanaticifm is not confined to one fpecies of fpiritual absurdity. Its fource may be the fame; but it hath a variety of streams branching from it. The gloomy and fombrous mysticism of Jacob Behmen affumed an appearance very different from the cheerful enthusiasm of Count Zinzendorf. The former partook of that fullen referve that afterwards diftinguished the great Jeaders of Quakerism; the latter was enlivened by that ardor of the passions, which was the ruling spirit of Methodism. The former founded religion in a certain ineffable abstraction of the foul from the objects of sense; the latter, in an enraptured elevation of the affections in devotional exercises. The one refembled the character of that uncheery being, so admirably depicted by Mr. Pope,
whose foul Still sits at Squat, and peeps not from its hole ; the other, full of the frifkinefs of the fpirit, preserves a gay smile on its countenance, and would readily subscribe, as the firft article of its creed, that truly social and good-humoured declaration of Solomon, that 'two are better than one; for if two lie together, then they have heat; but how can one be warm alone? Indeed its peculiar fondness for this maxim hath brought “ the church of the Unity” into great discredit ; and many, through fome warm expreffions of Count Zinzendorf, ill-understood, or too literally interpreted, have infinuated, that there was a carnal magic in his spiritual rhapsodies, well understood, and strongly felt by thofe who had been initiated into the interior receffes of the Moravian mysteries ; and that every song to the side-hole was nothing but a revival of certain Heathen rites, disguised by Christian names.
This reflection on the purity of Moravian worship received fome credit from the public and solemn declarations of many of its members, who pretended that their separation from the Society of the Brethren arose from the horror which they conceived at the celebration of some mystic rites, which surpassed in impurity the ancient institutions of Eleusis. There was one in particular, who bore his open testimony againft Moravianism, whose situation and character were, by many, supposed to place him above the temptation of falsehood,-such aggravated and damning falsehood, as he must have been guilty of, if his affertions had not been founded on fact. The person we allude to is RIMIUS. His folemn appeals-repeatedly made, and in terms "the most unequivocal and explicit that could be used on any
occasion, or under any conviction poffible ; appeals founded, as he avers, on a direct and personal knowledge of the facts alleged,-supported too by other, and apparently inconteftable, evidence these appeals gained the full confidence of many not naturally disposed to credulity and uncharitableness; and there were others who, though they would not permit themselves to think so ill of any class of religious protessors, as Rimius wished to have the nation in general, and the legislature in particular, think of the Moravians, yet their former good opinion of them was considerably leffened ; and though they did not openly execrate them, yet they secretly suspected them, and withdrew that countenance and favour of which they had formerly thought them deserving. The good bishop of Exeter (Dr. Lavington), measuring the honesty of others by his own upright intentions, implicitly relied on the representations that were made to him, particularly the reports of Rimius, and instituted a curious parallel between the doctrines and practices of the Moravians and those of the ancient heretics.
For our parts, we must candidly acknowledge, that however absurd Moravianism may appear to us when viewed in a speculative light, we can by no means consider it as a system of practical immorality, nor even of that licentious tendency, which its adversaries have represented it to be. That its hymns are, in general, very filly and childish, we readily acknowledge ; but that heart must be gross indeed, that can find in them any provocations to lewdness ! Nothing is perfectly secured from abuse. " The mind and conscience that is defiled" will “ turn the
grace of the gospel into wantonness." All we mean to say in excuse for these hymns is, that however extravagant and enthusiastical they are, they only become injurious to morality by accident, and not by design. They were not, we are persuaded, written with any lascivious view. As to a few exhibited by Rimius, which he pretends to have taken from the German, we greatly doubt their authenticity. They constitute no part of the established service of the Moravians. As to the hymns which are in general and approved use in the churches of the Brethren, we fincerely believe them to be very harmless, and never attended with any immoral effect.
If we were to reason a priori on the nature of society, whether political or ecclefiaftical, we should be ready to inier, that an institution fo corrupt in its fundamental principles, and so licentious in its common practice, as Rimius hath represented the Moravian church to be, must long ere this time have effected its own dissolution. The eternal laws of morality cannot long be violated by any association of men without detection. If detection did not take place from without, its destruction would be the inevitable consequence of its own inherent prin6
ciples. No femblance of piety, no efforts of devotion, could preserve the union of a church that sanctified the most detestable immoralities. At least, a fociety fo vicious in principle and practice, could not long preserve even a decent appearance in a Chrif. tian country, whatever toleration might have been afforded to such corrupt institutions in some of the æras of ancient Heathenism.
Bat reasoning on more certain grounds, we are convinced from observation and experience, that the Moravian discipline, however erroneous in a theological light, yet, in a civil and moral view, is perfe&ly innocent of the atrocious charges which malice and ignorance have alleged against it. The profeffors of the Moravian doctrine have had a long trial; and the general honesty and purity of their characters are before the public. Tis absurd to fuppose, that persons of such characters can support a profligate association ; or that those who are blameless as individuals, should as a society be abandoned.
These conceflions in favour of Moravianism may be thought to militate too much against the opinions of some of the most learned divines of the church of England, and many of the most eminent Dissenters. But to us it is evident, that these gentlemen confided too implicitly in the affeverations of Rimius. Dr. Warburton indeed condescends to quote Mr. John Wesley's authority, to corroborate the facts alleged against the Moravians. But that authority is with us very equivocal. The bitterness of sectaries against fectaries exceeds all common wrath. Their interference with each other creates a thousand jealousies; and “ who can fand before envy!” But what did Mr. Wesley allege against the Brethren? Nothing in particular. He gave his head an emphatic shake, and, like the Ghost in Hamlet, faid, that “ he could a tale unfold.” And what hindered him from doing this effential service to the church? Why did he not unfold the hideous mystery, and detect imposture and wickedness in their dark retreats, that others might take warning, and either avoid the society of thefe atrocious men, or out from amongst them, and be separate, that they might not be partakers of their evil deeds ?” Why did he not-But we forbear to ask him any more questions. We are convinced that his tale would have lost all its terror if it had been unfolded. He hath artfully thrown it into the made, that imagination might conceive strange ideas of it from not seeing its extent. But fuppofing Mr. Wesley hath some terrible story to relate of the Moravians of Bedford a story " a thousand times worse than any thing that hath yet been related of these wretches, we ask him, If the conduct of individuals is allowed, in the scale of justice ar charity, to throw a reflection on a whole fociety? Does he think that the actions of “these wretches” (as Rev. March, 1781.
he calls them) received a fanction from the principles or customs of the Moravian church ? Is then that church to be branded with infamy, becaufe fome of its members have wickedly abused its inftitutions, and others, through ignorance, exposed them to ridicule? Mr. Wesley, for his own fake, and the sake of Methodism in general, muft answer these questions in the negative.
But what becomes of Mr. Rimius? - All we shall fay of him, and his asseverations, is this--that charity would rather sup. pose that one man was abandoned, than that a whole society was fo. We think his charges have been thoroughly disproved by the best of answers :-since in the course of thirty years (for so long ago Rimius wrote his Appeal), not one circumstance hath turned out that could fairly establish the truth of his more atrocious allegations againft the general constitution of the Church of the Brethren.
We need make an apology to our Readers for detaining them fo long from the immediate object of the prefent article. We have spoken our candid and most mature sentiments on a subject that hath, we think, been greatly misrepresented by the wickedness and malice of some unprincipled apoftates, and equally mifunderstood by others, whose credulity was made the dupe of artifice, and afterwards the inftrument of detraction.
The respectable Author of the present Hiftory of the Brethren gained fome reputation by his curious and interesting account of Greenland; a country little frequented, and less known to Europeans. The Moravians attempted to establith a church in that region of dreariness and defolation; and Mr. Crantz was fent thither as a millionary. The difficulties he struggled with, and the fortitude and perseverance with which he furo mounted the moft toilsome and hazardous enterprises for the accomplishment of the pious design of his miffion, are related by him with great fimplicity in the work just referred to, and of which we gave an account when it firft made its appearance in English.
The present Work is drawn up with the same plainnefs and unaffected fimplicity which characterized his former publication. The integrity of the Author,' says Mr. La Trobe, • may be relied on. He had the most authentic materials for his Work; and his impartiality is as well known to those who were acquainted with him as his ability. He has evidently avoided painting in strong colours the beauties of the church to which he belonged : he is rather disposed to how the mif. takes and defeats of its members in many instances, than to give a flattering picture of them. ..... This book hath passed through two editions in Germany, and answered the proposed