Imatges de pÓgina

old Beghards, which was one of the sects that we do now comprehend under the name Waldenses, though the Waldenses, so called by Pilichdorf, did, as he says, * abominate the Beghards. One of the authors in Gretzer's collection of writers against the Waldenses, called Conradus de Monte Puellarum, says, that this sect was then prevalent in all Germany, and that “the men of it were called Beghards, and the women Begines;" but has nothing about their baptism. And I have heard that there are now popish monasteries in Flanders of men called Beghards, and women Beguines. I know not what signification that name may have in any language that can make it applicable to such different constitutions (for the old Beghards did, as all the rest whom we call Waldenses, abominate the Church of Rome) unless it signify the same as our English word beggar; and so they should have their name from their poverty, as some sorts both of the Friars and also of the Waldenses had. The council of Vienna, under Clement V. condemns a sort of people, then in Germany, the men called Beghards, the women Begines, as holding certain distracted opinions there recited, much the same as the wildest of our Quakers and enthusiasts. The council says nothing of their denying infant baptism, but yet they pass a decree in confirmation of it.

I said that the Antipædobaptists dispersed from Munster, some fled into several principalities of the Upper Germany, and some into the Low Countries; they that continued in Germany found but cold entertainment, partly because of their new doctrines, and partly because of the disorders they had committed during that short time of their reign. The Papists generally reproached the Protestants, that they were a sect sprung from them, and would call all Protestants, in scorn, Anabaptists; — but the Protestants disowned them, and wrote against them: and Sleidan gives several instances wherein the Protestant princes and

* See chap. 7.

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states declared against harbouring them; and made answer to the reproaches of the Papists, that they took more care to rid their countries of them than they themselves did : and there are said to be very few of them now in either the Popish or Protestant countries of the Upper Germany.

Those of them that retired into the Belgic provinces, found there more partizans than anywhere else. At Amsterdam, particularly, they were near acting the same tragedy they had done at Munster. One Jolin Geles, sent out of Munster by John of Leyden, to get supplies of men, and to stir up other cities, had formed a design to surprise Amsterdam, May 12, 1535; which, by his numbers in the town, and some froin. other places, he was like to have effected ; but they were defeated and killed. Also one John Matthew set up for a chief, and chose to himself twelve apostles, and found a great many disciples to his doctrine;

they prophesied that the end of the world would be within a year, and filled people's heads with many other enthusiastic notions : being suppressed by the magistrates, and some of them put to death, they are said to have endured it with great constancy.

Cassander [1436] mentions, also, one * John Batenburg, who, after the ceasing of the sedition of Munster, began another. There were several other disturbances of less moment, which I pass by.

But Cassander and all agree, that a little while after this, one Menno, a countryman of Friezland, a man of a sober and quiet temper, that held the doctrine of Antipædobaptism, did disclaim and protest against the seditious doctrines and practices of those at Munster, and of Batenburg, and taught that the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which they had pretended to set up by external furce, consisted in patience, meekness, and suffering quietly, if occasion should be: - that one

– Theodoric succeeded this Menno in the same doctrine. And Cassander says, that in his time, which was about

* Fræfat. ad Ducem Cliyiæ,

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140 years ago [1460), “ almost all that continued the profession of that opinion in the Belgic provinces, were followers of this Menno.” And so to this day they generally call themselves' Mennonists, or, by abbreviation, Minnists.

He gives them this character : --" Most of them do shew signs of a pious disposition; and it seems to be rather by mistake, than by any wilful wickedness, that they, carried by an unskilful zeal, have departed from the true sense of the Scripture, and the uniform agreement of the whole church ;" and says, that “they seem worthy rather of pity and due information, than of persecution, or being undone.”

One thing he says * of this Menno, that is particular; viz. that " whereas the credit of antiquity and perpetual tradition carries great authority with it, even with those that set up new doctrines,” &c. ..... And, accordingly, “ some of these men had at first endeavoured to fix the origin of infant baptism upon some pope

of Rome ; Menno had more sense [or was more wary, prudentior] than so; he was forced to own that it had been in use from the apostles' time; but he said that the false apostles were the authors of it.”

Cassander does there confute this notion with so good reasons, that I wonder he should call it a more wary one than the other ; for, as it had been indeed an unwary thing in Menno to deny that the baptizing of infants was in use in the ages next the apostles, when he might, for aught he knew, he convicted of falsehood by the remaining acts and records of those times; so to maintain, that all the books that were preserved by the Church, were such as were written by the followers of the false apostles, and none by the followers of the true, is an imagination rather more absurd than the other. There were false apostles indeed ; but they set themselves to slander, and speak, and write against the true ones, as appears by what St. Paul and St. John do say of them : but the books and writings which the

* Præfat. ad Testimonia contra Anabaptistas.


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Church has preserved, are of such as do own the authority of the apostles.

As for the present state of the Minnists [1599), a late writer of those parts, an extract of whose book is given by Mr. Boval, says, *“ Except Holland, where

, they live peaceably, they are almost extinct.” By Holland, I suppose, he means the United Provinces.

In those provinces there are considerable numbers of them, especially in Holland and Friezland; they have the repute of being very fair traders, and very sober men; they use a plainness in their garb to some degree of affectation, as the Quakers in England do; and they hold opinions, soinething like theirs, against the lawfulness of oaths, of war, &c.

The other tenets attributed to them are, – That there is no original sin ; that only the New Testament is a rule of faith; that Christ had his flesh, not of the Virgin Mary, but from Heaven; that it is possible to live without sin in this life; that departed souls sleep till the resurrection, &c.

But soine that have lived in that country say, that all these opinions are not common to them all, but that some churches of them hold some of these opinions, and other churches others of them ; for their general humour is to divide into several churches on the least difference of opinions; those of the old Flemish way keep a very strict discipline, and excommunicate people on very nice occasions ; the Friezlanders receive all; some of them allow of no baptism but by immersion, or putting the baptized person into the water; but the most part of them admit of baptism by affusion of water. In short, every congregation of them almost does espouse some particular tenets, only they do all of them renounce infant baptism.

One cannot impute this, as any peculiar fault or folly, to the Minnists, that they are apt to divide and separate from one another on any small differences of opinion; it is a humour too general, and prevailing among many other people of that country (as well as of ours) to think that they ought to separate from all that hold any thing in religion different froin what they themselves hold; whereas the great aim and interest of religion is unity and communion in the worship of God, notwithstanding different sentiments in points not fundamental, and schisms and parties are forbidden, as courses that will certainly ruin it; there is no sin that such people think to be a less sin than schism is. The Papists do upbraid the Protestants in general with this humour, as if it were the natural principle, and the mill-stone on the neck of Protestantism. It is too true that the Protestant religion and interest has been much impaired by it in many countries, where it has grown and increased in spite of the best endeavours of the ministers, in shewing and declaring to the people the sinfulness of it; about which the Papists, of all men, should make no noise, because they are the only men that get ground by it; -- they; and some few designing persons, who propose an interest hy heading of parties; but they cannot say that this is true of all, there are some Protestant coun- : tries so happy, as to keep their people in great union and uniformity.

* Hist. of Works of Learned, July 1699. + Stoup. Religion of the Hollanders.


But some of the Minnists do differ from the rest, and from all Catholic Christians, in points more material, and such as are indeed inconsistent with communion; for, about the year 1658 [1558), the Socinians, that were grown to a considerable number in Poland, were expelled thence, - many of them sought a refuge in these parts; they had most of them added the opipion of Antipædobaptism, to what Socinus had taught them against our Saviour's divinity; and the comnion name by which they had in Poland been called, was Anabaptists; so when they came to Holland, they assåyed mostly to strike in with the Minnists; and they have since brought over many of them to their opinion concerning the nature of Christ. One sort of the Minnists, called Collegians, are generally Socinians,

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