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ESSAY 1: On the History of Natural Law Until Grotius - Christian Thomasius, Essays on Church, State, and Politics 
Essays on Church, State, and Politics, edited, translated, and with an Introduction by Ian Hunter, Thomas Ahnert, and Frank Grunert (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007).
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On the History of Natural Law Until Grotius
Common human misery1. All men by nature are in the same miserable shape.1 All demand to live long and happily, that is, cheerfully, well-off, and honored. In spite of this, every thought and desire they have had since their youth leads them to do things that make their lives unhappy, wretched, or both. Thus, the natural end of life is cut short. Man becomes the agent of his own misfortune.
General means against it2. Few recognize this misery. Even fewer use their knowledge of this misery to seek the reasonable means of saving themselves from it. Fewest of all, however, when investigating these means, take the necessary care or muster up the strength to grasp these means. Everywhere it is not the Creator but man himself who is thus to blame, despite the fact that God has bestowed upon him and presented him with partly natural, partly supernatural teachings, means, and powers. It lies thus in man’s obstinacy and negligence if he neither recognizes nor utilizes such teachings and means, nor wants to accept those offered, but rejects them willfully and pushes them away with his feet, so to speak.
Careful use of the natural and supernatural lights, so that they will not be confused3. This misfortune can be ascribed, among other causes, to the fact that man confuses the natural and supernatural lights, reason and divine revelation, thereby bringing disorder to all knowledge. As a result, man regards true teachings as errors and passes off errors for truths. He attempts to assert them by force. In doing so, he misses the right path and, while intending to help, seduces others, plunging them and himself into misery. Thus sincere lovers of truth have always recognized that the light of reason and divine revelation, as well as nature and grace, should be clearly distinguished. Recently, not only in France but also in Germany, learned men have published treatises about this, some scholarly, others polemical.2
Simple difference between natural and supernatural lights4. Truth is simple. There is thus no great need to rack one’s brains or for quarreling if one seeks truth in the simplest way. The light of reason and of divine revelation are expressed by intellect, nature, and grace, but also by the will. Often, both are generally understood in such a way that the light of reason is needed for the natural powers and grace for supernatural knowledge. In this broad sense, we are able to grasp the difference between natural and supernatural lights most clearly in the following way: the natural light comprehends the miserable condition of mankind in this temporal life by means of sound reason, without any particular divine revelation. Especially, though, it requires each person to concern himself first with his own misery. The natural light thus shows man the means and ways by which he can get out of this misery using his natural powers and without any special supernatural grace, so that he can place himself in a happy state as far as temporal life is concerned. The supernatural or immediate divine light, however, is concerned with the eternal happiness which man lost by his Fall. Thus it first teaches the condition of man after his loss of innocence and how he ended up in temporal and eternal misery through his Fall. It shows how after this temporal life there will be a different life and a resurrection of the dead. It also shows what difference there is between the state of the eternally blissful or chosen and the state of the hapless or damned. It shows the means determined by God for attaining eternal bliss and avoiding eternal damnation. It also teaches whence come the supernatural powers needed to apply these means, and how man must behave in regard to them. All of this goes beyond the boundaries of the natural light, since reason by itself knows nothing about the state of innocence, nor about the Fall, nor about the immortality of souls, nor about eternal life or the eternal torments of hell, nor about Christ and his merits or the belief in Christ as the only means of grasping these merits. Neither, by themselves, are the powers of the will capable of obtaining this eternal bliss. With regard to his reason, man thus needs a special divine revelation, while with regard to his will he needs supernatural divine assistance. At the same time, this shows the simple but clear difference between theology and philosophy or between theology and the other three faculties: theology has to do with the light of grace; jurisprudence, medicine, and philosophy have to do with the natural light and should teach accordingly.
Errors of the scholars who depart from this simple conception5. Considering how simple is the difference of this double light, and how easily it can be understood by even the least educated, it is all the more astonishing that it is neglected, or even contested and challenged by the most educated. This comes about because people readily know what to say in general about these two lights and their boundaries. When it comes to an exact investigation of this, however, then no one can give a clear explanation to those eager to learn. Much controversy then arises from ignorance of the boundaries of the two lights. One party accuses the other of turning naturally good or evil things into supernatural, divine or diabolical effects. The other party, however, tries to pass off divine and diabolical matters for natural ones, which were caused by human powers or malice. Others seek to abandon the difference entirely and want to accept only the natural light and natural powers. They want to abolish all supernatural matters. Still others recognize only the supernatural light as the true light. They reject the natural light and sound reason, as well as the natural powers of the human will, even in temporal matters, or else pass them off as something diabolical.
Two main causes for these errors6. The causes that have led scholars into these errors and quarrels are numerous and varied. I consider the following two to be the most important ones: (1) either through their comparison of the two lights they wished to examine the matter all too exactly; or (2) in investigating the difference between the two lights, they made no use of a formal method.
The unreasonable view, as if these two lights were opposed to each other7. According to our simple teaching on the difference between the two, it can easily be understood that temporal happiness and eternal happiness do not oppose each other, that they are rather similar in many respects, and that their difference primarily depends on the degree of perfection and on the degree of duration or immutability. So the two forms of happiness differ in several ways, similar to the differences between the two lights given to man by God, but they never oppose each other and nor can they. There is rather perfect harmony between them. The understanding in fact knows nothing about these supernatural matters, but after Holy Scripture has revealed them finds nothing in these revelations that would contradict sound reason. Rather, through revelation, reason recognizes the wisdom, justice, and omnipotence of God all the more clearly. The light of nature provides reason with various arguments—for example, the doctrine of God’s trinity, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, of the resurrection of the flesh—to show at least that there is nothing counternatural in these and similar supernatural mysteries. Man also needs the natural light for interpreting the Bible, in the sense that God and the men driven by God have written the Holy Scriptures for reasonable people and not for irrational beasts. The rules of reasonable explanation should thus be applied to the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. One should refrain from all unreasonable interpretation, which would result in something contradictory, impossible, and obviously foolish. Even though the supernatural light should have precedence over the natural light, on account of the eternal happiness to which it leads man, the natural light should never be tossed away, but must always be maintained. Otherwise no subordination between the two would be possible. For instance, a subordination does exist between two straight parallel lines, but there is no opposition. If one took away the lower line, one could not talk about subordination and parallelism. Since it is certain that as divine gifts the supernatural and the natural lights will never be opposed to each other, so the controversies which have arisen among scholars—when they rack their brains over whether the natural light should be preferred to the supernatural one—are completely in vain and unnecessary. This question presupposes an unreasonable condition, as if the two lights contradict each other. Thus, on the one hand, they must err who place the natural light above the Scriptures in such a way that they will not believe anything which cannot be proven by rational natural arguments. On the other hand, of course, they also grossly err who impute an irrational interpretation to Holy Scripture, cutting short those who reasonably point this out, and even persecuting them under the vain pretext that the natural light is inferior to the supernatural. This concerns those who are wont to say that reason needs to be captured by faith.
Negligence in investigating natural matters and in beginning with the most difficult supernatural ones8. First, there is a practical rule in the standard teaching method: when investigating the differences or boundaries between different things, one should begin with the easiest and most familiar. But the natural light deals with the things that are easiest and most familiar to man. On this basis, the supernatural light gives rise to faith, not to a science in the human understanding. In supernatural matters the human understanding gropes in the dark, even after divine revelation, recognizing everything only as in a mirror. Therefore, both the rules of good teaching as well as the designation of supernatural things require that one begins first with natural things and learns to understand their limits before trying to understand supernatural things. Of course, it would be unreasonable for someone to label as supernatural that which others can explain as natural, by means of causes that are reasonable and even open to the senses of commonsense people. But how few there are who apply this method, beginning with the natural light and philosophy and then leading their audience to the boundaries where the teaching of supernatural matters begins. It is quite true that most teachers of the supernatural light have themselves studied little or nothing of the natural sciences. (The natural sciences also include moral philosophy and all sciences that deal with human conduct or with the difference between good and evil). As a result, these scholars, whose irrational teachings regarding supernatural things arise from their ignorance of natural things, pass them off as articles of faith, and attempt to uphold them with cunning and force.
Common corruption of the moral sciences among the pagans9. Once someone who has searched honestly for the truth carefully recalls these cardinal errors, it will not be difficult for him to recognize whence so many common mistakes in moral philosophy and natural law emerged and how they could have lasted such a long time. With regard to the pagans, a scholarly man of letters recently noted and proved thoroughly that the pagan priests concerned themselves little about these sciences, so necessary for the human race.3 Rather, on account of their reputation and other interests, they vigorously persecuted those philosophers who did concern themselves with these things. Until Socrates, the philosophers either completely neglected moral philosophy or focused only on the study of nature.4 When they did deal with moral philosophy in their works they did not derive it in an appropriate way—from their own reasonable observation of the human soul and the natural powers—but grounded it instead in common palpable errors. In knowledge of good and evil, it is true that the understanding is clouded by the desires of the will. As long as he is in this state, where the natural light turns into a will-o’-the-wisp, man must nonetheless strive for correct use of the natural light, for the improvement of the understanding, and the correct arrangement of knowledge. Daily experience shows, however, that this is not enough for obtaining true wisdom, but that one should also be concerned with the peculiar inclinations and desires of the human will. For every day one sees in oneself and in others that man fails to do things recognized as good by his own reason, and that he does other things which his understanding regards as evil. In treating an ulcer caused by impure blood, a decent doctor will first attempt to use a plaster, but he will not therefore refrain from cleansing the impurities of the blood with the help of internal medications.5 Nonetheless, the pagan philosophers, even the wisest of all, Socrates, taught that to attain a virtuous life it was enough for the human understanding to be instructed in the difference between good and evil. Plato, a student of Socrates, departed from the laudable but simple teachings of his master, introducing in their place a supersubtle way of disputing over useless things. Overall, not only were his teachings grounded in the need all men have to secure an inner approval, but many ostensibly uncontroversial and credible things were derived from the fraudulent revelations of supposedly divine pagan oracles.6 Many of Plato’s listeners thus took it into their heads to doubt everything and to treat as the only certainty that everything is uncertain and dubious. At first glance, the Stoics possess many wonderful teachings regarding virtue and the difference between good and evil. Nevertheless, the abovementioned general error [regarding the sufficiency of mere moral knowledge] causes them to say extremely overblown things about the character of their sages and extremely detrimental things about the shortcomings of divine goodness and wisdom; yet they typically foolishly insist that their virtuous sage cannot be found anywhere in the world and is a mere chimera.7 If one were to talk impartially about this issue, then Epicurus—so hated and so often slandered by the Stoics and Platonists—in fact has many good things to say in his teachings regarding the character of a wise man. But how can one find something healthy in the moral philosophy of a person who introduced such dangerous teachings about the nature of God and of divine Providence, about the origin of the world, about matter and the corporeality of the human soul?8 For his part, Aristotle reworked and changed much in the moral philosophy and teachings of his master, Plato, without, however, improving moral philosophy.9 Even the most modest of Aristotle’s current followers admit that he neither introduced nor sufficiently explained the doctrine of the means by which a virtuous life is to be attained through rational advice and laws. Afterward, all these errors in moral philosophy passed from the Greeks to the Romans and then from both to the Jews. Among the latter, the sects of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes10 spread these errors in such a way that during the time of Christ blatant errors were in full swing among the Greeks, the Romans, and Jews—and, yes, throughout the entire world.
The short duration of the Christian-apostolic teachings10. In fact, one would have hoped that through the teachings of Christ and the apostles the proper use of natural light would rise again, even though Christ and his disciples primarily dealt with the supernatural light and its proper use. It is not our opinion that Christ and his disciples ever intended to write a philosophical system, neither with regard to nature nor to ethics. But it is certain that, except for the Holy Scriptures, no other philosopher rejected so clearly the basic errors of pagan philosophy, in particular the confusion of the will and the understanding and the foolish improvement of the understanding alone. Nor did any so clearly advise mankind on the proper use of the natural light in improving the will, or delineate the three main vices of lust, ambition, and avarice. Despite all of this, soon after the death of Christ and even during the lifetime of the apostles, the old errors and confusions about the natural and supernatural light reemerged. After the death of the apostles, it is apparent from church history that these errors again captivated the minds of all so-called Christians, although a few were worried about the reason for this sudden change. This is not the place to investigate this matter in detail, although it will serve our purposes if we discuss it briefly.
Old pagan errors were soon reintroduced by scholars up to the time of Constantine11. The wisdom of the natural as well as the supernatural light is simple. Most errors come from hairsplitting scholars. As long as the teaching of Christ remained in the simple hearts of fishermen and unlettered people, it remained good and pure. But this teaching was not to the liking of the pagan-educated Pharisees until, with his resurrection, Christ finally converted the Pharisee Paul through an extraordinary miracle.11 Paul then had to endure persecutions both by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but also by the Stoics and Epicureans when, following his [apostolic] appointment, he strove to spread the simple teachings of Christ among the pagans as well—teachings that were to the learned Jews an irritation and to the Greeks stupidity. Since among the Jews there were many of a Pharisaical disposition, and among the pagans many scholars, in particular Stoics and Platonists, who professed Christianity, they falsified the pure teachings with their pagan principles. They began anew to hone the understanding solely by hairsplitting and useless questions, which provided the occasion for the Jewish and pagan scholars to begin to quarrel. The bitterness arising from this discord, which had broken out during the lifetime of Paul at the Council of Jerusalem, became ever more widespread after his death.12 As long as the Jews constituted the strongest party, they suppressed the pagans, so that the first heresies were mostly hairsplitting questions arising from the Jewish Kabbalah.13 But after those who had formerly been pagans became the strongest party, it was their turn, and they made those of a Jewish persuasion pay for the earlier persecution. The latter is easily traced during the time of Constantine the Great.14
From the time of Constantine onward, through Plato’s teachings the natural light is elevated too high12. Together with the history of the controversies and heresies, the pamphlets of the most famous teachers published during that time reveal the condition of the learned world under the rule of the so-called Christians and show that it did not improve for several centuries, but in fact worsened. The use of the natural light was cultivated to excess. These teachers sought to use it to scrutinize the most incomprehensible secret of the divine being, not happy with the fact that Christ and his apostles presented the secret of the divine will by means of a doctrine simple enough to be also understood by the unlettered. They employed useless Platonic philosophy, initially under the pretext that through this they could better combat the pagan Platonic philosophers, who had chiefly persecuted and defamed the Christians. But they soon fell all too much in love with Platonic philosophy, wanting to use its false light to give the divine light a greater clarity. When honest souls complained that in this way the light of divine revelation was obscured, they were called heretics and the Platonist esoterica were forced upon them as articles of faith. Thus the true old apostolic Christianity, while not in fact exterminated, was suppressed, and Platonist Christianity generally gained the upper hand. Were anyone to doubt this he should carefully read what the great Augustine—who is usually known as the greatest of all the so-called Fathers of the Church—wrote in his books on the City of God praising and glorifying Plato.15 One should also read the glosses on Augustine written by Ludovicus Vives [Juan Luis Vives] and Leonardus Coquaeus.16
In other domains the proper use of natural light is completely neglected, partially in logic13. Soon the proper use of the natural light was abandoned in all three main areas of sound philosophy, namely, logic [Vernunftlehre], natural philosophy, and moral philosophy. By the time of Constantine the Great the learned pagans had already introduced into Christianity a verbose and pleasant-sounding, yet also a sophistic, pompous, quarrelsome, impassioned way of teaching. Rather than striving to purge the lies of pagan philosophy from the truth of Christian teachings in an honest, gentle, clear, and simple way—thereby tangibly shaming and removing pagan errors—all kinds of pagan and fraudulent paths were followed. Soon the pagans were attributed false opinions that had never entered their heads, followed by the wrathful and vehement refutation of these chimeras. In the place of reasonable refutation, a rhetoric of exclamations, questions, objections, or learned invective was employed, which did not advance the matter. Soon doubt was no longer answered at all. The presentation of doubt initiated not an answer but long-winded exaggerations, to prove good sound Christian teachings with inadequate reasons. In this way the upright minds among the pagans were only made more puzzled, suspicious, or bitter. I remember that when he was a professor in Leipzig my blessed father explained to his audience in public lectures several of Lactantius’s disputations with the pagans,17 applying the rules of sound logic, and thereby frequently pointing out these above-mentioned flaws. The thoughts he dictated at that time are in my house among his manuscripts. Lactantius had been the teacher of Constantine, and his good and honest intentions radiate from his writings. It was not his fault that he was led into making such a mistake, but that of the miserable state of logic prevailing among the pagans and Christians. Since this happened to this famous church teacher, it can easily be inferred that in subsequent times things did not get better but worse, as the more scholarship declined, the more quarrels, controversies, and passions increased, day by day. Also relevant here is the question of how the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments should be understood according to the rules of a reasonable interpretation. Through the allegories of the evangelists and apostles against the Jews, it became normal to reject the sensible and literal understanding of the Bible as carnal, and to make the interpretation of Christianity taken from Stoic and Platonic philosophy into its foundation. Many famous theologians—among them Luther and Chytraeus,18 and also Catholic writers—have complained about this way of reading found in the works of Philo, Ambrose, and Origen.19 For a better understanding, all truth-loving people should refer to the work of Samuel Werenfels: De logomachiis eruditorum.20
The correct use of natural light in natural philosophy14. What should one say about natural philosophy? One can find little that is sound about it in the most famous church teachers. It cannot be denied that they contested with laudable intent the central error of pagan natural philosophy, regarding the eternity of the world and its two coeternal origins, God and prime matter; nor that they were committed to combating this error by laying the basis of Mosaic natural philosophy in the creation of invisible and visible things. It would take us too far afield to examine whether this was done with sufficient prudence and in an honest way, or whether many and diverse Platonist fictions were often mixed in. It is enough to say that in the doctrine of the condition, difference, and nature of the invisible and visible creatures, we find little that is well grounded and properly purged of the old corrupt Jewish and Platonic philosophy. Rather, pagan and Jewish superstitions lurk behind everything. It was not enough that Christians were presented with errors contrary to sound reason and the common sense of reasonable men. These errors had to be forced on people as necessary articles of faith, through heretic-mongering and the coercion of conscience. Those who objected had their mouths shut by force, because it could not be done via reason. For an explanation of this, one should check what Servatius Gallaeus and Johannes Blaucanus have written about the roundness of the earth and the existence of the antipodes, in their commentaries on Lactantius or Juan Luis Vives or Leonardus Coquaeus or Augustine’s The City of God.21 In his book III, Aventin thus mentions how in the eighth century the so-called German apostle Boniface branded the good priest Virgilius as a heretic for claiming that the antipodes existed.22 This seemed to endanger the true teachings of the Lord Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Pope Zachary approved of this unreasonable action by Boniface, and poor Virgilius had to remain a heretic per force. All of this indicates blindness and the confusion of natural light with divine revelation, since in our times even pupils in the lower classes know that Boniface and the pope Zachary committed the greatest injustice against Virgilius in front of God and the entire world.
The use of natural light in moral philosophy15. If their negligence had arisen from an eager and honest desire to learn more about human nature, one could excuse the fact that the teachers of the church did not care very much about the nature of higher beings and earthly creatures. But their writings indicate the opposite. They do not investigate human nature on the basis of their own judgment. Instead, through the consideration of useless things and the retailing of received opinion they investigate human happiness in accordance with pagan doctrine. In doing so, they completely forget to think for themselves. If these teachers occasionally engage in self-reflection, then it only ends up in Platonist deification and enthusiasm rather than in an assured sensible perception. Thus it is easy to understand the barren appearance of moral philosophy and what was then called natural law. It is not surprising that many Protestants cannot stand it if one says the slightest thing about the teachings of the Fathers of the Church that might diminish their holiness and reputation in even the slightest way. They immediately erupt into abusive words and brand others as heretics, misuse the Holy Scriptures, and curse all who, from love of truth, warn the inexperienced of errors. They completely extinguish the natural light and prefer to rob themselves and others of one of the most noble gifts—God-given sound reason—rather than give in to inopportune and unreasonable love of those who are weak or easily deceived. As I know full well the abuses and slanders suffered by several learned men who attempted this [warning of the inexperienced], I will not permit myself to elaborate the matter in more detail or to translate into our mother tongue what others have presented. But a desirous reader will know how to find the necessary things without my help. The previous suppression of sound reason has been one of the most secretive stratagems of political papalism, which the reformers of the Protestant church were not immediately able to discern. Neither could the politicians see this for quite some time, as they were not instructed in a true and reasonable politics at the universities, looking only for theological errors in papalism but not for the most cunning political statecraft. But fortunately day is breaking. No struggling and unruliness will hinder the breakthrough of truth. Thanks to divine Providence, a hundred years ago a famous reformer, the theologian Abraham Scultetus, wrote a book on the Core of the Theology of the Church-Fathers.23 Here, besides their good but generally morose and long-winded teachings, he also uncovered their errors. This book is written in a such way that even politicians, who otherwise do not have time to read the Fathers of the Church, can observe the miserable condition of these times as if in a mirror. After the mystery-mongering had been exposed, even reasonable Catholic writers realized that it was futile to avoid these things, for example, the famous Frenchman Du Pin in his Library of the Ecclesiastic Teachers.24 The numerous writings cleared a path that can no longer be hidden. Now the truth can no longer be concealed. Unfortunately one may not mention the astute, but much-loathed Pierre Bayle who has also dealt with these matters very effectively.25 To those who have neither the time nor opportunity to consult the above-mentioned authors, I recommend the very learned preface of Monsieur Barbeyrac to his French translation of Pufendorf’s book.26 He took laudable pains to compile everything he could find from the above-mentioned writers—a task which cannot be praised highly enough by politicians and jurists. Evidently he proved that there were many among the Fathers of the Church—Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertulian, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Hieronymous, Augustine, Leo, Gregory the Great—who understood little or nothing of moral philosophy. In fact, in the course of interpreting Holy Scripture or on other occasions, they spread among their listeners sundry damaging and erroneous teachings, which were contrary to the bright light of the Gospel and to the natural law.
Two of the most prominent types of Christian teaching: theorthodox and the esoteric, and their opposition to each other16. In order to better understand the political secrets of the papacy we recommend the study of church history and its commentaries to all lovers of the truth. This will permit Protestants to better protect themselves against such secrets and to grasp more clearly the occasions on which the natural light—in particular moral philosophy, state-theory, and natural law—became increasingly corrupted. Among the large number of church teachers, who are known in part through their writings and in part through their actions, there have always been two types. The first kind saw the path to eternal bliss in rarefied concepts of the secrets of the divine nature. In accordance with the idea that the improvement of the will follows automatically from the improvement of the understanding, one need no longer strive for a Christian, God-pleasing life because, proverbially, God will care for all. With regard to living, they fooled their audience into believing that God is a pious, kindly father, who is not too particular with his dear children who call themselves Christians, but gently tolerates their corrupt flesh and blood as a human weakness. This is why Jesus was sent to earth, to deliver these dear children from the yoke of Mosaic law. With regard to his divine nature, however, and its eternal emanations and effects—which concern the operation of salvation through Christ—God is a strict and fervent God. He wants all Christians to be of one opinion in accordance with a particular formula. These formulas, though, were prepared by the highest teachers following the custom of decision-making in the Imperial Diet, through majority vote. But those not satisfied with these formulas who wish to alter even the tiniest detail, regardless of whether they trust in God and fervently attempt to live in accordance with his son, Christ’s, commandments, not only be punished by God with the eternal torment of hell, without mercy or forgiveness as the worst of malefactors, but the secular authorities should also reinforce the holy bishops in such cases. The thorities should let themselves be guided by the bishops as the spiritual leaders and fathers, and they should persecute such people as the most harmful misbegotten monsters with fire and sword, gallows and wheel.
The second group, however, had a completely different viewpoint. [They argued that] such a way of dealing with God and Christ utterly contradicts not only the truth of the Old Testament but also that of the New and the teachings of Christ. Christ did not abolish the Ten Commandments, but commanded his disciples to follow the Commandment of Love, which includes all the others. He gave them emphatic advice that in this they should follow his model and example. Neither in the teachings of Christ nor in those of the apostles does one find much in the way of theological formulas. These arose a few hundred years later, when the passion and honesty of the first love had become rather lukewarm and dull. [According to this second group], the Lord Christ would not examine what people believed about the mysteries of God’s nature. Instead, given that he had himself purged the mystery of God’s will from the corrupt statutes of the Pharisees and had impressed [this] on his disciples, so he would much rather inquire into the works of love that he had commanded and would separate those who practiced these as sheep from goats, regardless of whether they could rehearse correct views about God, or prophesies, or miracles. Thus, they argued, it is not necessary to concern oneself with the improvement of the understanding, but one should much rather strive to improve the will. In accordance with the freedom bestowed by God, one must seriously and willfully and with true zeal attack the thing itself. One must renounce and rid oneself of the three vicious main desires: lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the haughty life. One must oppose and subdue those evil desires with vows of spiritual poverty, chastity, and of humble obedience. One must fortify the spirit by crucifying the flesh with all its lusts and desires, carefully arranging one’s life according to certain beautiful rules of living, carefully crafted by experienced minds. In addition, the inexperienced should choose a certain person from the skilled and experienced who would be charged with the direction of their conscience, and whose teaching and good advice they should obey with all simplicity, even when the advice sounds strange. All evil comes from Satan or from the corrupted reason, whose sly advances are no better avoided than by repudiating blind reason and making it a captive of faith. To summarize, we will call the first approach the dogmatic, which is the one most influential in orthodoxy and which is much given to heretic-mongering. But the other approach, which aims at the purification of the heart, while insisting on the secret and concealed exegesis of the Scriptures, we will call the esoteric or mystical approach.
Differences and similarities between the two groups17. The two groups were bitterly opposed and persecuted each other wherever they could. When they were persecuted, each complained about the other and claimed that it is unjust to coerce someone simply because of differing opinions. But whenever the secular authorities were on their side and they were too powerful for the other party, both groups defended the view that it is just to persecute others with such coercion of conscience and to force the others to side with them. (This is confirmed by the example of the Donatists27 in church history and by two well-known letters by St. Augustine.) The main difference lies only in the fact that the orthodox were lucky in having the secular authorities on their side more often than the esoterics. The doctrines of the orthodox were more to the taste of the court than the doctrines of the esoterics, who were far too strict and melancholic or, in a word, too monkish for courtly life. Both groups praised kings who were often not praiseworthy according to the natural light, but would be blessed if they did everything their spiritual advisers wanted. They bestowed golden words and great titles on kings; such epithets, for example, as the Great, the Pious, the Holy (although one knows why so many kings have received the epithet of the Great, fewer though the epithet of the Pious, and even fewer the epithet of the Holy). If kings or secular authorities failed to live exactly in accordance with their principles, or failed to approve sight-unseen everything that they did and said, then both groups in turn cursed and damned the kings and the authorities, even if they were not impious; but they only did this when they had the power to wreak their revenge. In this way the two groups obtained power and dominion over the powerful and the secular authorities, and turned them into vassals. The two groups of teachers are thus the most preeminent pillars of papalism. Each has accused the other of seducing innocent people and of defending false teachings maliciously and contrary to their better conscience; and yet amongst both bunches there were malicious, cunning people. Both groups have tried to control the minds and the will of the people, the orthodox under the pretense of orthodoxy and the esoterics under the pretext of spiritual direction. In each bunch there were also good, honest, simple people whom the cunning led up the garden path and who, in their simplicity, believed that they were serving God if they spread in any way possible the doctrines previously instilled in them. The orthodox invoked the tradition of the church, yet did not want to get a name for teaching against the Scriptures. The esoterics argued that their teachings were based on the Holy Scriptures and claimed that they were much closer to the church’s way of life. Both interpreted the Scriptures by way of their doctrines rather than orientating their doctrines to the Scriptures. Both elevated the powers of the human soul much too high: the orthodox elevated the understanding, the esoterics the freedom of the will. Both thus abused the natural light. The orthodox did so by overstepping the boundaries of reason, using its powers to fathom matters that God did not deem necessary to reveal, and thereby egregiously neglecting the will and its improvement. The esoterics, on the other hand, made the powers of the will greater than they are, and belittled the light of reason too much. Both scolded the pagans and pagan philosophy, and yet both originated in pagan wisdom and its students. The orthodox originated in rarefied Platonic disputations about the divine being, while the esoterics originated from the Platonic doctrines on the goal of true wisdom, namely, union with God through the path of purification and illumination. Thus everything led either to vain speculation or to enthusiasm, and simple, active Christianity was forgotten.
Both parties impressed on the laity that it is more blessed to give than to receive, only for them this meant that it is more blessed to receive than to give. Both sought to substantiate the claims of their teachings with pious deceptions, the fabrication of many evidently false stories, and with false miracles. Both began on opposing paths, but they ended up in the same place. The orthodox had tasted too much of the sweetness of worldly honor and splendor, wealth too, so that initially they laughed at the shy and melancholic esoterics. But later on, when they saw that this had accomplished as little as their persecutions, and that the esoterics were followed by ordinary people, the orthodox came closer to their teachings and accepted their three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. They also prescribed certain maxims for their disciples and afterward called them Canons or Regulars, that is, those who live according to a rule of life. In the long run, however, the disciplined life did not suit them, and they began to take the tender souls into consideration and to absolve them, so that the Canons were divided into the Regulars and the Irregulars. Of course, none among the laymen were allowed to laugh or to carp at these contradictory things. The esoterics, on the other hand, at first taught that one should separate oneself from the world and choose the life of a hermit or monk, living alone outside the cities. First they gathered in monasteries, then they moved to the cities, and soon they involved themselves in all kinds of secular affairs. Both groups had finally found the secret of obtaining objectionable things through objectionable means: all lusts through the vow of chastity, all treasures through the vow of poverty, and through the vow of obedience to enjoy, arrogate, and possess all power and honor in the world. Both groups thus became central supports of papalism, with the only difference being that the pope freed the esoterics from the supervision of the orthodox and adopted them as if they were his bodyguards, in order to ensure his safety against the power and reputation of the orthodox. However, he did not entirely suppress the orthodox, so that the esoterics in turn could not get beyond his control. Who could finally explain the similarities of these two objectionable doctrines! These brief remarks may suffice for our orientation. Those who want to know more should read the learned book about the origin and development of monasticism by Rudolf Hospinianus, so important for church history.28 There they will find enough material to continue these comparisons. It should be added that both parties robbed their audience of their God-given proper use of reason: the orthodox by tying reason to their formulas, the esoterics by binding it to inner inspirations. In this way were spread abroad the two worst prejudices of human reasoning: in the former case, human authority, and in the latter, untimely haste.
General ignorance and slavery among Christians, which originated through the suppression of common sense and of the certainty of sensibility18. Under these circumstances a coarse ignorance and lack of learning rose among those who called themselves Christians. This ignorance was so bombastic and presumptuous that it could not tolerate even the slightest indication that someone knew something about the proper use of the natural and supernatural lights or the investigation of truth, especially in the theory of human conduct or the doctrine of good and evil. Since Constantine’s time all of Christendom has been divided into clergy [Geistliche] and laity [Weltliche], albeit on the basis of a clear misuse of the Holy Scriptures. According to the Holy Scriptures both teachers and listeners have spiritual [geistliche] dispositions, that is, live in this world but not in the foolish way of most people in the world. Yet the teachers alone arrogated the title of the spiritual and labeled the listeners with the scornful title of the laity or profane. Apparently the latter, from the king down to the lowest beggar, are so inept that in their conduct, as well as in their understanding and their will, they are capable of nothing reasonable or pleasing to God, when they want to use their understanding by themselves or read the Holy Scriptures for themselves. If the goal of the laity is to be blessed or to lead a happy life in this world, they would have to believe and to do what the clergy or clerisy prescribed and prompted them to believe and do. For this reason they were excluded from that in which the supernatural light is found: the Holy Scriptures and their use. As for the natural light, they were told that the truths discovered through this would be harmful even in this life, unless they were previously examined and approved by the clergy who alone possess supernatural light. Now it can be understood why we said above that the suppression of the natural light was one of the central pillars of papalism. Once the laity were convinced that they should do and believe everything that the clergy had ordered, and imagined that their temporal and eternal happiness depended on this conviction, then it is easy to see that they fell into blind obedience, and thus willingly entered into the greatest slavery. As soon as the clerisy had achieved this, it needed no great deliberation or study to bring the laity under their yoke. The clerics increasingly fell ever more deeply into ignorance, to such an extent that they could hardly read and write Latin, let alone engage in useful arts and sciences. If one or other of the laity wanted to use the light of his mind or of the Holy Scriptures to oppose this ignorance and lust for power, he could not do so for fear of his property and his honor or even of being executed as the worst of villains. This became even more pressing after the clergy began to destroy emperors, kings, and princes by excommunication, deposing them from office, and other similar political acts, all because the rulers wanted to use their reason and did not want to be made fools anymore. Most of the laity did not even think about using their sound reason during their military or court service, or in the course of their daily work and agricultural labor. This is partially due to the fact that by nature people live in unreason and foolishness, and it is rare that someone finds the path toward wisdom on his own, if the example and deeds of others do not guide him. This was absent at that time because of the corrupted condition of the clergy. Sound reason was also lacking because the clergy was bent on supporting the desires of the most powerful, the richest, and the most cunning, turning a blind eye toward them no matter what they did. The main thing was that they worshipped the clergy, that they bequeathed them charitable goods, monasteries, hospitals, poorhouses, orphanages, and generous endowments; and that they helped to denounce, drive away, persecute, and even burn the other party that opposed the clergy. The clergy went so far as to deprive the laity of the common certainty of their external senses. If someone induced me so far as to not believe what my senses see, hear, and so on, and if that someone talked me into believing the opposite, then he could make me jump into water or fire at his pleasure. Or he would make me do the most dangerous and adverse things by fooling me into believing that they were the most reasonable, graceful, and useful. If the clergy had not enchanted the senses of the laity in this way, how could they make them believe in the most elevated and most foolish superstitions and idolatry; for example, that real bread—that can be seen by the eyes of all men and which all hands can touch, all noses smell, all tongues taste—is not real bread, but has been changed into someone else’s body. John,29 who proved the honesty of his teaching to his listeners by nothing more powerfully convincing than simply preaching what his eyes had seen, his hands had touched, and his ears had heard, stands in stark contrast to that which the clergy will have us believe; namely, that the only certain thing is that of which my eyes see nothing, my hands cannot touch, but rather in which they feel everywhere the opposite.
Miserable condition of the higher and lower schools. Origin of the four faculties19. One would not be astonished about all of this if one took a look at the appearance and condition of schools in Christendom during those times. Here is a brief sketch of the state of affairs. After the western empire had been destroyed by several German and Scythian peoples and the oriental empire by the Saracens, public schools were devastated. From the sixth century onward in the western empire they suffered ruin in Italy, France, England, Spain, and Africa; and from the seventh century also in the oriental empire, in Asia, Greece, Egypt, and so on. It is true that in the fifth century St. Benedict had established in Italy many new cloisters and monasteries as well as the rules of life belonging to them, and that he had arranged for schools in them.30 But these were not public schools, being dedicated solely to monks. So, after the decline of public schools, only monks were regarded as learned people, until King Alfred reestablished public schools at Oxford in England and Charlemagne at Paris in France, after which more and more public schools began to appear.31 But there is a story behind this: the teachers for the public schools were taken from the monasteries. At that time the greatest ignorance reigned in the monasteries, and anyone who knew something about philosophy, natural philosophy, and mathematics was regarded as a sorcerer. Nobody then knew anything about today’s four faculties; that is, the faculties of theology, medicine, law, and philosophy. In the lower and, as we say today, common schools the divisions of rhetoric or today’s Donat were taught.32 In the higher and upper schools there was instruction in the so-called seven liberal arts: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, and the four mathematical sciences: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. For the most part they stayed with the first three, and one struggled with them for most of one’s life, more than was actually necessary. A more precise investigation of the mathematical sciences was mostly absent, since it was inconvenient for the clergy and monks to train laymen in sciences which do not particularly respect any person’s authority, possessing instead confirmation through the senses or reason. These so-called liberal arts were already being taught in the schools of St. Augustine, who had a particular liking for Plato. At that time [during the period of monastic education] nothing was known about metaphysics or ethics. When Aristotle, who had been ignored for a long time, was taken up again by the Saracens and translated into Arabic and then brought to Spain by them, several French professors also acquired a taste for him.33 These professors also tried to introduce Aristotle into the schools of Paris. But this proved very difficult since, through a decision of the Council of Paris, the older professors forced the pope to ban Aristotle’s books together with several works by his first devotees, Peter Abelard and Peter Lombard.34 Abelard and Lombard were considered to be dangerous and suspicious types. In particular St. Bernard helped to make Abelard into a heretic.35 When the pope and the clergy realized, however, that Aristotle’s metaphysics, physics, and ethics did not damage their dignity—since Aristotelian philosophy contains little or nothing about the true use of natural light and seemed rather to increase clerical authority—then the first harsh decrees were very soon changed. In fact, to the degree that it was separated from the liberal arts, Real-philosophie—or physics, metaphysics, and ethics—was taught publicly in accordance with the Aristotelian teachings.36 Theology faculties, in particular the still well-known Sorbonne, were first founded under the Capetian dynasty.37 Afterward the faculties of law were created, first dealing with imperial and shortly afterward with canon law, until finally the faculty of medicine was founded, which emerged from the monasteries where it had been hidden for several hundred years. For those who want to know more, it would do no harm if they carefully read the wonderful dissertation on academic antiquities by the blessed Conring, my father’s Meditationes de philosopho Artista (which have been included in the sixth volume of the Halle Observationes selectas), and the treatise on the choice and order of study by the learned Frenchman Claude Fleury.38 The various documents and diplomas by Johannes Launoius39 are no less helpful. One may also find many useful, pertinent things in Johannes Filesaco, in that he wrote a treatise on the origin of the statutes of the theological faculty in Paris.40 In any case, one finds a lot about these issues in the notes of my blessed father.
The useless ethics of Aristotelian philosophy and of the schoolmen in the faculty of philosophy20. The monks who were supposed to teach the youth at the universities were ignoramuses. They were incapable of using their own basic reason. These people, who were supposed to set the minds of others into motion, had to be given certain books as crutches so that their own intellects could be trained. But a secret state-interest was also involved; for if it had been left to the teachers to use their own solid reason on the issues of concern to them, then they would have soon discovered the secret of clericalist and papalist power and its idolatrous standing, and they would have imparted this realization to the laity. Clerical prudence thus required that the teachers be bound to certain books, for if these books were themselves mired in the prejudice of human authority, this prejudice could be more virulently spread to the audience, as the foundation of papalism. The philosophers had so far only taught the seven liberal arts according to Augustine or Cassiodor.41 Now they also began to explicate Aristotle’s books on metaphysics, physics, and ethics. Soon it appeared that Aristotle’s Organon, as well as the discourses of the philosophy professors were given to the teachers. But since Aristotle had not written anything about mathematics, mathematical studies became increasingly neglected. The theologians took up Peter Lombard’s Sentences,42 the lawyers the two juristic corpora [imperial and canon],43 and the physicians Galen.44 Thus each faculty was given as it were its own space in which to exercise its understanding, across whose borders, though, nobody could step (like slaves chained to the galleys).
Let us now see how things stood with moral philosophy and natural law at the universities, and let us begin with the philosophers at that time. Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics and his Magna Moralia are not absurd. However, they are filled with unnecessary subtleties and a useless wordiness in the Aristotelian way. Epictetus’s small compendium45 thus contains more about relations and realities than Aristotle’s long-winded works. Aristotle, like all pagan philosophers, believed in the principle that correcting the understanding was sufficient for improving the will. In fact he does teach about virtues; yet regarding what they actually consist in, and how true virtues can be distinguished from pseudovirtues, he says little or nothing. Moreover, he says little or nothing about the means of becoming virtuous. It is a fact that he did not write any books on the prudence required to give counsel or on the laws of nature. Theology thus soon usurped ethics, leaving the philosophers with nothing to work with. It is certain that ethics was so poorly taught by the first philosophers at the universities established by the pope that it could not attract anybody. The profession of the politician [Politiker] did not develop until much later. Mr. Pufendorf has remarked in his treatise on papal monarchy that it was one of the secrets of the papalist state to refrain from teaching politics at the universities, or else to do so only according to the interests of the clergy.46 That is why even the term politics has become tarnished and suspect. We will talk more about this elsewhere, since politics and natural law and also moral philosophy—which are remarkably different from each other—are frequently confused.
The miserable condition of natural law among the jurists21. The Corpus juris received by the lawyers contains a lot of fine things about the natural law, but it was of little use to law professors at law schools.47 First of all, Roman jurists had touched on natural law only slightly, in their occasional discussions of the law of nature and nations. The Corpus juris thus did not contain satisfactory advice on how to distinguish between natural law and specifically Roman law. The lawyers themselves disagreed about this, and the Corpus juris was thus patched together from conflicting opinions, regardless of differences in levels of learning among the jurists. Even if not all of the jurists who compiled the Pandects were deeply learned, still, most of them were, and they were quite familiar with natural law.48 The jurists who lived during the time of the Roman emperors, however, and whose laws are included in the codes, were no longer as learned as their predecessors, since at this time the era of the uneducated had already begun in the Roman Empire. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the Corpus juris itself contains teachings which confuse the general law of nations with the Roman law. This occurs, for example, in the chapters on paternal authority, on the authority of masters over their servants, on the ways of acquiring property according to law of nations, on imprisonment, and on the right [of exiles or refugees] to return. I have already shown in a separate treatise that the good lawyers—who had advised Diocletian49 to reverse contracts of sale if someone was injured by more than half—understood neither moral philosophy nor the law or nature, and still less the nature of buying and selling. Nor did they understand that this law of Diocletian’s was unjust and had not found practical application, indeed, could not find practical application. But let the Corpus juris be as it may, the professors of the newly established faculty of law were supposed to explain it, and they were such people who had a lot of perseverance and diligence and had even memorized the Corpus juris by heart. But this did not help the cause. They lacked the basic means for interpreting the Corpus juris, namely philosophy,50 and through it ethics and politics, as well as knowledge of Roman history. The smartest and the most notable among them wrote plenty of commentaries on the Corpus juris, and these glosses soon attained the same standing as the laws themselves. We can find signs everywhere, though, that ethics and natural law were not the forte of these good people, not through any fault of theirs but because of the circumstances of their period. Even though many followed who wanted to combine Roman history and other congenial studies with jurisprudence, nevertheless, they became for the most part addicted to grammatical disputations or got stuck within the limits of Roman law and only very rarely engaged with natural law and the law of nations. Both classes51 maintained the general view that disputes between crowned heads like kings and princes could and should be solved according to the Corpus juris. Thus, they tried to act accordingly whenever there was an opportunity, as was the case with the Spaniards Didacus Covarrubias and Ferdinand Vasquius or, among the Frenchmen, François Hotman and Jean Bodin.52 Concerning this matter there might be more to say about the canon lawyers, since the pope had given the Corpus juris canonici, as it is known, to the canonists with the aim of them further undermining the legists, who were beginning everywhere to defend the rights of secular authority against the tyranny of the clerics. The Corpus juris canonici considers natural law as little as the imperial Corpus juris [civilis] considers divine laws. But the Corpus juris canonici contains more and it is arranged in a such way that a credulous person would swear that everything was only of a divine and suprarational character. However, anyone who scrutinizes the secrets of the papalist clergy will quickly see that canon law aims only at subverting all principles of sound reason concerning the true difference between good and evil, as well as the fundamental principles of government and secular authority. Under the guise of zeal for the glory of God and with much chatter, clerical power attempts to arrogate these principles to itself. It is much to be wished that Protestant lawyers would show in even more detail the politically erroneous state-secrets of papalist law. I am certain that not a single title can be found in either Gratian’s Decretum or in the Decretals53 to which such political maxims of the clergy have not been added.
Similar condition of the university theologians who at the same time continued the old sect of the orthodox22. The faculty of theology seems to have originated in the following way: The school in Paris was unhappy with Peter Abelard and Peter Lombard, because they began to teach Aristotle instead of Augustine. But it happened soon afterward that Peter Lombard, who had been the teacher of the prince, became bishop of Paris. As such, he used his authority to give great weight to Aristotelian teachings, obtaining permission from the kings of France to establish a separate faculty of theology at the university. Instead of explaining the Holy Scriptures, the professors of theology then explained Peter Lombard’s Sentences. This work consisted of four books. In the first he dealt with the unity of God and with the Holy Trinity. In the second he dealt with creation, with angels and humans, and with God’s grace; in the third with the incarnation of Christ, with virtues and vices; and in the fourth with the sacraments, death, the Day of Judgment, eternal life, and the torments of hell. It is likely that in these books Lombard tried to unite the teachings of Augustine with those of Aristotle. The entire work contains a mishmash of theology and philosophy. The Holy Scriptures are explained with the principles of pagan philosophy, while in moral philosophy and natural law the old ignorance is perpetuated. Lombard’s book represented the basis for the faculty of theology, and the professors of theology competed in writing glosses on it, just as the lawyers did with their Corpus juris. William of Auxerre, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, William Durandus, John Duns Scotus, Ockham, Estius, and many others teach about Lombard in their commentaries.54 Since they were not of the same opinion in their explanations and since each one of them wanted to be right, various sects consequently came into being among these orthodox Scholastics, such as the Albertists, the Thomists, the Scotists, and the Ockhamists, among which the reputation of Thomas Aquinas prevailed over all others. The latter had not only written a commentary on Lombard, but had also composed a new system of theology. Many thus forgot Lombard in order to write about Thomas’s commentary, including Thomas de Vio Cajetan, Bartholomew Medina, Gabriel Vasquez, and Francisco Suárez.55 One should not expect anything reasonable from any of them, since everything issues in subtleties, authority, and dogmatism. Even teachings belonging to moral philosophy and natural law began to be appropriated by the theology faculty, under various titles. These included such titles as the Summulas of Sylvester Prierias, Relectiones morales by Francisco de Vitoria, the Resolutiones morales by Antonius Diana, the Theologiam moralem of Antonius de Escobar, Casus conscientiae by Bartholomew Medina, the same by Johannes Azorius, books called de justitia & jure by Dominic de Soto, Ludovicus Molina, Leonard Lessius, and others.56 The Jesuits in particular aimed to teach the most damaging and most dangerous moral principles drawn from many periods. They continue to do so today, for example, Gabriel Vasquez, Francisco Suárez, Johannes Azorius, Ludovicus Molina, Leonard Lessius, Antonius de Escobar, all of whom were Jesuits.57 In addition to that which has been briefly sketched here, one can read a learned book by Adam Tribbechov, written in Latin in Giessen in 1665, dealing with the Scholastics and the way they ruined the sciences of divine and human things.58 In it he diligently compiled everything concerning this matter, and this book deserves to be published anew. Rudolf Hospinianus has also written much concerning the origin and advance of Jesuits in his books.59
Scholars who had discovered this miserable condition even before the Reformation23. In all times one finds various men who contradicted the confusion and blindness propagated by the orthodox Scholastics. But the strongest party eventually suppressed and persecuted them as heretics in the time-honored way, so that little testimony concerning them has reached us. With regard to their works, several were published right before and around the time of the Reformation. In his chronicle Aventin complained much about the corruption of true scholarship brought by scholastic theology.60 Similarly, in several books on the causes of the corruption of the disciplines, Juan Luis Vives dealt with this theme in the most varied parts of philosophy.61 The aim of Cornelius Agrippa’s book on the vanity of the sciences is specifically to show this vanity of the sciences as they were then undertaken by the professors in the universities.62 Johannes Reuchlin lanced this boil very artfully in his Epistolis obscurorum virorum, after the orthodox had earlier irritated him sufficiently and attempted to label him a heretic.63 However, no one damaged the Scholastics more severely than Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus not only revealed the errors of scholastic theology and philosophy in his writings, but also painted a vivid portrait, in sharp and biting tones, of the malice, foolishness, and ignorance of the monks and professors, partly in his Colloquies and partly in his book called the Praise of Folly.64 The blessed chancellor Esaias von Pufendorf often took these two books by Erasmus on his trips as a diversion.65 When I saw the Colloquies on his desk while I was traveling through Leipzig twenty years ago, I asked him what he was doing with it. He told me that even the cleverest would find instruction in this book by Erasmus and in the other one, the Morias Enkomion. Since that time I found this to be true through frequent reading, and I offer this good advice to all those striving to recognize the masked papalism of our times in places where one would least expect to find it.
On the origin of esoteric theology24. But we should not forget the esoterics or mystics. We have already seen that their teachings contradicted those of the orthodox, but that they fell into the same abuse as the orthodox and became a pillar of papalism. In his Schediasmata historico—which I republished several years ago under the title Origines historiae philosophicae et ecclesiasticae—my blessed father has compiled many remarkable things regarding the origin and progress of mystic theology.66 Reflective people who want to read about this will find this little treatise very helpful indeed. Briefly, the state of affairs is as follows: It is known that the Jews had a secret doctrine called Kabbalah, which they claim God had given to Moses alongside the commandments. Moses had passed on this Doctrina cabbalistica through oral revelation to Joshua or to the seventy-two elders, and they passed it on to others in the same way.67 There is no doubt that many of the learned Jews who converted to Christianity were fond of this kabbalistic doctrine and that it was probably the initial foundation for the esoteric theology. But it is equally certain that pagan philosophers like Plato and the Stoics contributed their share. Even during the times of the apostles, Simon Magus introduced an abominable heresy into Christianity.68 As the basis of his sect he took Zoroaster’s teachings of the two gods, a good and an evil one,69 and from the common pagan philosophy he took two eternal principles, God and prime matter, on which he later framed a wicked and dissolute life. The heretics who descended from Simon spread under various names in the first and second centuries. Following his doctrines and his way of life, they called themselves the “spiritually discerning” (Gnostics) and the “perfect ones,” despising all those who did not side with them. Since at that time the teachers of the Christian church had to engage with these people, they allowed that true Christians should also be perfectly spiritually gifted with knowledge of holy things, although they showed Christians a quite different way of attaining this knowledge, perfection, and spirituality. Clement of Alexandria developed this, writing a book about it and striving for it in all his writings.70 Yet the dear man was unfortunate in that he could write neither clearly nor properly. Mixing everything together in a disorderly way, he earnestly strove to render his writings unintelligible, so that only the “perfect ones” could understand these secret things. This otherwise famous teacher of the church fell much in love with pagan, Stoic, and Platonic philosophy and grafted parts of it onto apostolic Christian doctrine wherever possible. He transferred entire Stoic paradoxes to Christian doctrine. He borrowed from Plato the doctrine of the emanation of the human soul from the divine being, together with the doctrine of the four degrees of virtue (namely, that through certain virtues man would turn from beast to human, through others from human to angel, then from angel to god, and finally from a god to the highest god). He also copied the (later so-called) threefold way of mystical theology, which the falsely named Dionysius the Areopagite presented at great length.71 A lot of the Jewish Kabbalah was also mixed into these Platonist fictions, as is clear if we compare Dionysius’s teachings on the classes of angels with those of the Jewish Kabbalists. During the lifetime of Clement of Alexandria, at the end of the second century, this esoteric doctrine with its suppression of sound reason had already progressed so far that by the fourth century it had given rise to a particular kind of heretic, the Messalians.72 They did no work of any kind apart from begging or, as we would say today, they went with pious souls from one prayer meeting or spiritual exercise to the next, thereafter boasting of secret revelations. That is why they were also called enthusiasts. Monasticism contributed much to this. In fact, in the fifth century this esoteric monastic doctrine, that man can live in this world free of all passions, finally gave birth to Pelagianism.73
The state of esoteric theology among schoolmen25. As we have already explained above, the esoterics and the orthodox cultivated opposing doctrines, but they united in order to support the power of the clergy and the papacy. There was a similar situation when Aristotle’s teachings were used as the foundation of theology and philosophy in the universities. Initially, there could not have been much unity between the orthodox Scholastics and the esoterics, because Aristotle and Plato were not bosom friends. The orthodox Scholastics tried to elevate their Aristotle and to push Plato aside, but the latter returned as the foundation of the esoteric theology. It is known from church history that the monk Bernard of Clairvaux, ranked by scholars of mysticism as a leading figure, vehemently persecuted the first orthodox Scholastic, Peter Abelard, simply on account of his Aristotelianism, even labeling him a heretic.74 Of course, nothing good came out of these two teachers and their followers. Nonetheless, the two varieties agreed in this: just as the orthodox began to turn dogmatic theology into an art form or into certain systems or compendia of maxims, so too Richard of St. Victor began at the same time to turn esoteric theology into a system.75 This happened in the twelfth century. Soon thereafter John Scotus Eruigena translated the work of Dionysius on the lordship of the clergy into Latin and promoted Dionysius’s mystical doctrines.76 At the beginning of the thirteenth century, these doctrines gave rise to the heresy of Almaric, whose teachings nearly resemble those of today’s Spinozism.77 The two great minds among the orthodox Scholastics, Albertus Magnus78 and Thomas Aquinas, flourished during the thirteenth century. They began to unify the otherwise opposing lines of thought by commenting on Lombard’s Sentences while also writing numerous mystical books. They confirmed once again that the two ways of writing and teaching agreed in robbing men of their sound reason and therefore of their freedom, and forced their souls, bodies, and conscience under the yoke of tyranny.
The reasons why the often-discussed misery could not be eliminated during and after the Reformation. Revival of the orthodox doctrine26. One might have thought that in addition to other good works, the reformers Luther and Zwingli79 together with other instruments of God, would have introduced the difference and the proper use of the natural and supernatural light into both the church pulpit and the university podium. In their writings and books against the papacy, one finds many fine sentences dedicated to this end. Thus they readily rebuke Aristotelian philosophy, vividly portraying its uselessness, which leads only to strife. In their conflict with the papal doctrine of transubstantiation they show that the natural light cannot be completely set aside in theological questions, and that the words of the Holy Scriptures cannot be explained in an unreasonable way. However, the transformation of such deeply rooted errors can be achieved neither by the work of a single person nor in a single lifetime. The unfortunate quarrel that arose and then escalated between the two reformers was thus one of the major reasons why this very necessary investigation made no progress. This quarrel was over the article of faith dealing with the Eucharist and the central question of the use of natural light in explaining the Holy Scriptures. Through this dispute the two doctrines of the orthodox Scholastics and the esoteric theologians made their way back into the two Protestant communities. Scholastic doctrine recommended itself under a similar pretext to that by which Platonist doctrine was adopted by the Christians after Christ’s ascent; namely, that by using such doctrine one could more readily do battle with the papalist theologians—who fought with the sword of Scholasticism—and thereby counter the charge of ignorance in theological matters. For many centuries after Christ’s birth orthodox and then scholastic teaching had thus equipped theologians with spiritual weapons needed to keep the wolves away from the sheepfold of the Christian churches, by means of Platonic, and then Aristotelian arts of disputation. It was thought that if the denunciation of heretics did not proceed apace, then the professors would have nothing to dispute about at the universities. Polemical theology would thus fall by the wayside, and the cost of maintaining theology professors would be in vain. This restless and fractious theology served to perpetuate the quarrel between the papalist and the Protestant theologians, as well as preventing peace between the two Protestant churches. Yes, if they had nothing better to do, these theologians fought amongst themselves and denounced each other as heretics year after year, as church history attests with innumerable examples throughout the centuries and, especially, in each decade following the Reformation.
Revival of esoteric theology27. Nonetheless, esoteric theology also spread among the Protestants. Many causes contributed to this fact. First of all, the blessed Luther had the German Theology, a mystical booklet, republished and provided a preface for it.80 Luther’s entire doctrine and his life show that he was not a mystical theologian. Vexation with the scholastic teaching, with whose intrigues and tricks he was familiar from the monastery, led him to do this [publication]. He also found that the mystical writings pressed for a holy Christian life and that the sharpening of the understanding for its own sake was not prized by them, as it had been in scholastic doctrine. Many Christian theologians felt sorrow in their hearts that Protestant Christianity should be continuously kept in discord through the theological quarrels. They witnessed the oafish and dissolute character of the university students, especially the students of theology, and saw that if such dissolute people were appointed to churches and schools, an unchristian dissolute life would spread through all ranks of Protestant Christians. They believed that it would be better if they taught a peaceful theology instead of theological polemics, because Christ was called the Prince of Peace and had left peace and love as a sign to his disciples and students. But they could not readily speak of all this, owing to the power and standing of scholastic doctrine. Johannes Valentin Andreae was a clever and thoughtful theologian who wrote at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and his writings can be recommended to all impartial lovers of the truth.81 In various ways—sometimes in short conversations, sometimes in instructive and pregnant fables and poems, and also in other ways—Andreae vividly portrayed the misery and the general corruption of Christendom, especially with regard to the universities, providing advice on how to remedy this ill. It is highly regrettable that this learned and Christian man fell into the hands of the mystical theology of those ignorant times, for he fared like all mystics. In their discovery of general corruption and misery, and in their exposure of the folly of scholastic teaching, they are incomparable, they are great and to be praised for upholding a virtuous Christian life. When it comes to how this is to be implemented, however, their counsels are inadequate. The writings of the good Andreae, especially those dealing with the creation of a Christian republic, show that this was also the case with him.
Summary condition of moral philosophy and the natural law at the beginning of the seventeenth century28. So, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, moral philosophy, ethics, natural law, and the like were in a pitiful and terminal condition, among both Catholics and Protestants. In their books called On Justice and Right (or whatever other titles they used), the Catholic schoolmen taught everything needed to buttress the standing of the pope and the clergy and to keep the secular authorities and other laity under their thumb. When it suited their purposes, they mixed natural and international law, Mosaic, Judaic, Greek, Roman, imperial, and papal laws, copying happily from each other. They drove kings into illegitimate wars under the pretense of spreading the name of Christ and bringing the infidels under the yoke of the Christian religion. Drawing on the works of Aristotle and their own books, they knew how to present such wars as lawful and laudable. Everything the laity did out of obedience to the clergy was supposed to be good and right, even deserving of heaven. The things that the laity did according to their sound reason, however, or according to the clear words of the Holy Scriptures, were supposed to be evil, unjust, and deserving of hellfire, if this was not in accord with the purposes of the Scholastics. The Jesuit Mariana even defended the notion that kings who followed the wrong religion could be murdered.82 The jurists supported the Scholastics, partly for fear of being branded heretics if they failed to do so, and partly because the Scholastics frequently cited and praised imperial law in their treatises. But this also happened because when they dealt with justice and injustice, the jurists were accustomed to deriving everything from imperial and canon law, as if the two corpora provided the core of natural law and the law of nations, from which conflicts between great rulers had to be settled. Never less than astute, the Jesuits supported both sides of the theological divide. Some of them spread the doctrines of the Scholastics, while others sought to unify esoteric theology with scholastic. Not only the founder of the society, Ignatius Loyola,83 known for his esoterica, but also Francisco Suárez84 at the beginning of the seventeenth century and soon thereafter Maximilian Sandaeus85 began to present mystical theology using scholastic method. As a result of the fact that the Augsburg Confession86 is oriented around a theological system and not around moral philosophy, natural law, or the Corpus juris, Protestant theologians, jurists, and philosophers (the ones concerned with the difference between good and evil, justice and injustice) allowed themselves to follow Catholic writers on these questions without any embarrassment. In their disputations, treatises, compendia, and systems, the Protestant philosophers thus copied the Catholic authors to their heart’s content, depending on whether they felt drawn toward theology or to scholastic philosophy, toward the mystics or toward the imperial or canon laws. Thus it happened in Protestant universities that ethics and jurisprudence were thrown together from many, sometimes opposed writers, without a proper basis. In questions of law and of conscience, many words and opinions from various authorities were compiled, but with precious little grounding or understanding. If a mystic had dealt with the topic, then reason was cast away and faith installed in its place, or whatever the spirit had just delivered to this kind of esoteric teacher.
Divine Providence uses Hugo Grotius as its instrument to bring natural law into the light29. Who could imagine that this general corruption among Christians, Protestant and Catholic—that this confusion, abuse, and suppression of the light of nature so deeply rooted for thousands of years—could be purged and rectified? But nothing is impossible for Providence. It does everything in its time, and when error rose highest, the breakthrough of truth was nearest. Specious nonsense came from the teachers of the pulpit and the podium. All three faculties—theology, jurisprudence, and philosophy—were taken in by the glitter. But divine wisdom stirred a man who taught neither from the pulpit nor the podium, who was no professor of theology or law or philosophy, but who was a profound theologian, an excellent jurist, and a solid philosopher. The evil had been spread abroad by scholastic orthodoxy and esoteric theology, so he who would begin to root out this evil could be neither scholastic nor mystic. However, he had to understand the Scholastics and grasp the inadequacy of their doctrine. (No one can understand the mystics because they strive to write in an incomprehensible way and want to eradicate reason completely.) He had to have experienced the persecution of the Scholastics and also had to be urged by other scholars, who were not Scholastics, to undertake this endeavor. He had to deal carefully with the moral philosophy of the Scholastics, in order to avoid exciting their wrath too strongly against the reasonable moral philosophy that he was developing. On the other hand, he did not have to fear their hatred too much because he could expect protection from elsewhere. This was the incomparable Hugo Grotius who can never be praised enough.87 Everything we have said so far is true of him. One could expand at length on this portrayal if the pen were not already exhausted and drawing near to the conclusion. To put it briefly, he was already more learned in his youth than many professors will ever become. Early on he was appointed to important political offices in his homeland. His misfortune or, rather, his fortune caused him to side with the weakest party during the emerging internal unrest in his country. For this reason he was condemned to lifelong imprisonment. Through the loyalty of his wife he was liberated in a wondrous way.88 France offered him refuge, and the famous parliamentary adviser Peiresc encouraged him to purge the vain glitter from the truth in moral philosophy, and to compose a law of nations in accordance with the true natural light.89 This Grotius did. In order to show that conflicts among princes, which commonly give rise to wars, should not be decided by Justinian or canon law, but by the natural law alone, he entitled his book On the Right of War and Peace.90 He proceeded very cautiously, however, and even if he sought to isolate and to separate those laws that the Scholastics had previously confused—the divine law, the universal, the Mosaic, and all human laws—he did not want to fall out with them completely and immediately. Therefore he praised them in his preface and tried to unite their obscure and partially false principles of natural law with Cicero’s viewpoint.91 He thus avoided being attacked as viciously as others later would be when they dropped the mask and openly impugned the scholastic obsessions. In a word, Grotius was the tool which God’s wisdom used to lift the natural light’s long-standing confusion with the supernatural light and to provide it with a new beginning. I say beginning, for just as God does not suddenly change night to day, so it is with errors and truth. Dawn glows before the day breaks, and between the break of day and the brightness of noon there is also a great difference. However, the glory belongs to Grotius, who broke the ban first and who showed others the way to separate truth from errors.
Particular benefit of the German translation of Grotius30. In rendering this wonderful book of Grotius’s in the German language, the translator has thus performed a truly useful service.92 Until now, even in Protestant universities the common error persisted that learned works could not be presented in the German language. We did not notice that this error originates in the secret political machinations of the pope. Were it to become the fashion to teach wisdom at the universities in the mother tongue, then the Scholastics might lose their authority. Is there anything that habit cannot contribute to the prejudice of human authority? Even if those in authority at the universities quarrel over the most trivial things, the poor students imagine them to be the most secret treasures of wisdom, just because they are in Latin and the unlettered cannot understand the substance. If one presented these magnificent things in the German language, and if reasonable soldiers, countrymen, noblemen, merchants, and artisans, even reasonable peasants, heard these things and wanted to know what their children are studying at such great expense, then they would cross themselves more often and show even more hostility toward the scholars than, unfortunately, is already happening in many places. Thank goodness that God has already begun to remedy this error. For about twenty years many noble minds have been endeavoring to publish in German numerous useful works of true wisdom, especially political, moral, and historical writings. On account of his great diligence and his unpedantic scholarship, as well as his rare judgment, the translator has become known through many pleasing and useful works. Lovers of wisdom are now very much indebted to him for translating Grotius into German. What Grotius has written is so reasonable and well expressed that it is a pure pleasure to read, but he has often lacked impartial readers. The minds of most educated people, afflicted by the jaundice of the Scholastics, receive many good and sound teachings of Grotius as if they were bad and dangerous. These teachings would be better judged if they were read by those who had not studied but were gifted by God with a sound understanding—and there are as many of these among all estates as there are among the Latinate—because the prejudices of the Scholastics do not blind them to the simple truth.
End of this preface31. If I wanted to continue this nascent German history of natural law, then I should report on the following things: the life of Grotius and his writings; the fate of this book; on the many remarks that various kinds of people made about it; on Selden and Thomas Hobbes who soon thereafter produced similar works; and on those who lent a hand to defend Hobbes.93 I would have to report on the blessed Baron Pufendorf and his opponents,94 when he attacked the irrational opinions of the scholastics, and also on the continuation of the scholastic moral philosophy after Grotius and how shamefully the Jesuits abused it. It would also be necessary to record the similar continuation of mystical doctrine after Grotius, which now acts insolently, gouging out its eyes in order to see better, and believing—just like little children who cover their eyes with their hands—that everyone else is blind and incapable of seeing their folly just because they cannot. I would have to report on how today this mystical doctrine shamelessly reviles and vilifies the doctrine of natural law as a hopeless and dangerous doctrine. Further, I would have to write about common revealed divine law, about the occasion and the manner in which I myself attempted to bring this into order, and about the grumbling and hostility this provoked. This would then mean discussing why I abandoned this doctrine that I had first elaborated, why many did not understand this and wanted to quarrel with me, and why I have written so little that is positive about mystical doctrine when I had earlier praised and honored it in my writings.95 All of this would be dealt with if I wanted to continue the history of the natural law that I have begun. However, this is not my endeavor, as I was asked to write a preface to the present translation of Grotius. The issues mentioned above may suffice or are, perhaps, too much, because I had planned to frame everything that has been said more briefly. Hopefully everyone knows that I have more in store than I have written, and that I presented as much as possible as briefly as possible. The matter is so rich, though, that the preface grew longer than I had intended. In any case, I held this to be an indispensable treatment of the history of natural law, which has so far been studied only superficially by myself and others. If one takes a closer look, however, as we have done here, then new light is shed on many otherwise obscure things, not only on church history but also the development of the history of natural law, and one sees everything with other eyes.
[1. ]This essay on the history of natural law was published as the foreword to the first German translation of Grotius’s De jure belli ac pacis (The right of war and peace), which appeared under the title Drei Bücher vom Recht des Krieges und des Friedens in 1707. For a modern edition, see The Rights of War and Peace, 3 vols., edited by Richard Tuck (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2005).
[2. ]Here Thomasius is referring to such late-seventeenth-century works as Samuel Pufendorf, De officio hominis et civis (1673), translated as The Whole Duty of Man, According to the Law of Nature, edited and with an introduction by Ian Hunter and David Saunders (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2003), 16–26; Pierre Bayle, Various Thoughts on the Occasion of a Comet, trans. R. C. Bartlett (New York: SUNY Press, 2000); Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique (An Historical and Critical Dictionary) (Rotterdam, 1697).
[3. ]Perhaps a reference to Pierre Bayle, who comments on this in his Dictionnaire historique et critique (An Historical and Critical Dictionary).
[4. ]During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Socrates (ca. 470–399 ) was esteemed as a nonspeculative philosopher dealing in a practical way with the moral question of how to live one’s life. This is the way he is seen in François Charpentier’s Vie de Socrate (The life of Socrates), published in his Les Choses memorables de Socrate (Memorable things from Socrates) (Paris, 1650). Thomasius translated Charpentier’s book in 1693, with a second edition of this translation appearing in 1720.
[5. ]In other words, even if he corrects the understanding, a moral philosopher must still treat the underlying cause of moral pathologies, in the impure condition of the will.
[6. ]See, for example, Plato’s dialogue Socrates’ Defence (Apology), where the character of Socrates speaks of his daemon, a divine inner voice that prevents him from doing anything unjust.
[7. ]The Stoic school was founded by Zeno in Athens in 300 Here Thomasius is somewhat uncharitably alluding to the fact that Zeno and his followers did not claim to be sages, owing to their inability to attain the state of complete inner equanimity or absence of passion.
[8. ]These remarks capture something of Thomasius’s ambivalent attitude toward Epicurus (341–271 ), whose moral focus on earthly happiness he applauded but whose materialistic and nonprovidential cosmology remained a scandal for most seventeenth-century philosophers and theologians.
[9. ]Despite his continuing preeminence in early modern academic philosophy, Aristotle (384–322 ) was regarded skeptically by Thomasius. In particular, Thomasius regarded Aristotle’s ethics as overly intellectualist and incapable of actually teaching people how to become virtuous and live a good life.
[10. ]Rival Jewish sects that were founded respectively in 200 and 150
[11. ]For the conversion of Paul, see Acts of the Apostles IX, 1ff.; XXII, 6ff., and XXVI, 12ff.
[12. ]The Council in Jerusalem took place in 48. The reason for the meeting between the apostles of the original parish in Jerusalem and the emissaries of the parish in Antioch (Paul and Barnabas) was a conflict between the pagan (Greek) Christians and the Jewish Christians of the original parish.
[13. ]Jewish esoteric mysticism, which appeared in the thirteenth century in the north of Spain and the south of France. Thomasius’s claim that the heresies of apostolic times first arose from disputes over the Kabbalah is thus anachronistic.
[14. ]Constantine the Great was Roman emperor from 306 to 337. He promoted the Christian religion in his empire and prepared the political conditions for its development into a state church.
[15. ]Augustine of Hippo (354–430), who began his intellectual life as a Neoplatonist, was converted to Christianity but then used Neoplatonic philosophy to elaborate Christian doctrine, particularly in his seminal The City of God against the Pagans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
[16. ]Thomasius seems to refer to the following text: S. Aurelii Augustini Hipp. Episcop. de civitate Dei libri XXII . . . cum commentariis novis & perpetuis R.P.F. Leonardi Coquaei . . . et Joanni Ludovici Vivis (St. Aurelius Augustine, bishop of Hippo. On the city of God book XXII with new and complete commentaries by Leonardus Coquaeus and Juan Luis Vives) (Paris, 1651).
[17. ]Jacob Thomasius, Analysin Dispp. Lactantii adversos Ethnicos (Analysis of Lactantius’s disputations against the pagans). Christian Thomasius’s father, Jacob Thomasius (1622–84), taught ethics, logic, and rhetoric at the University of Leipzig where he was also rector of the Thomasschule. He is regarded as an important pioneering historian of philosophy. Lucius Caelius Lactantius lived from ca. 250 to ca. 335. His Divinae Institutiones (Divine institutions), written between 304 and 313, marks the first attempt to develop a system of the Christian doctrine.
[18. ]David Chytraeus (1531–1600), a Lutheran theologian who taught theology, philosophy, and history at the University of Rostock, played an important role in the internal organization of the Lutheran church.
[19. ]Philo, a Jewish philosopher who lived between ca. 20 or 15 and 42 in Alexandria, and Origen (ca. 185–253/54), one of the most influential fathers of the church, were famous for their allegorical interpretations of Holy Scripture. See Origen, Peri archon sive de principiis libri 4 (Peri archon or four books on principles), where he developed his doctrine of the threefold meaning of Scripture.
[20. ]Samuel Werenfels (1657–1740) was professor for theology at the University of Basel. His Dissertationes VII. de Logomachiis eruditorum (Seven dissertations on the nonsense of learned men) was first published in 1688, later editions in 1692 and 1742.
[21. ]Servatius Gallaeus (1627–1709) was a Dutch philologist who published Lucii Caecilii Lactantii Firmiani opera, quae extant cum selectis variorum commentariis (Genuine works of Lucius Caelius Lactantius, presented with selected diverse commentaries) (Leiden, 1660). Lactantius defended the idea of a flat earth, and Gallaeus republished his works in order to attack the new heliocentric astronomy of Kepler and Galileo. “Johannes Blaucanus” was probably Josephus Blancanus, the author of Sphaera mvndi sev Cosmographia demonstratiua, ac facili methodo tradita: in qva totivs mvndi fabrica, vna cvm novis, Tychonis, Kepleri, Galilaei, aliorumque astronomorum adinuentis continetur (The globe of the world or demonstrative cosmography, related in an easy method, which contains the construction of the whole world according to Tycho, Kepler, Galileo, and the inventions of other astronomers) (Bologna, 1620). Blancanus was a Jesuit at Parma who also opposed the new astronomy. (We are grateful to Michael Seidler for helping us to avoid the red herring thrown out by Thomasius’s misleading reference to “Blaucanus.”)
[22. ]Johannes Aventinus (1477–1534) was a Bavarian historian. Thomasius is referring to book III of his Annalium Boiorum libri VII (Annals of the Bavarians in seven books), completed in 1521 and published posthumously in 1554. Bonifatius (672/73–754), “the apostle of the Germans,” thought that Virgilius’s (d. 784) doctrine of the antipodes entailed the existence of another world with a different mankind and without the redemption of Christ. Pope Zachary threatened Virgilius, who was at that time bishop of Salzburg, with excommunication and removal from office. Since the pope died in 752, it seems that the threat was inconsequential. Virgilius in fact remained as bishop until 754 and received the posthumous satisfaction of canonization in 1233.
[23. ]Abraham Scultetus (1566–1624) was a Calvinist theologian whose Medulla theologiae patrum (Kernel of the theology of the fathers of the church) appeared for the first time in 1598.
[24. ]Louis Ellies Du Pin was a Catholic theologian and philosopher who taught at the Collège Royal in Paris. His Nouvelle Bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques (New-library of ecclesiastical authors) was published between 1686 and 1714, during which time sixty-one volumes appeared.
[25. ]Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), one of the most famous partisans of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. His Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697) teaches the fundamental contradiction between sound reason and religious belief.
[26. ]Le droit de la nature & des gens, ou systeme general des principes les plus importans de la morale, de la jurisprudence & et de la politique. Traduit de latin de feu monsieur le baron de Pufendorf, avec des notes du traducteur & une preface, qui sert d’introduction a tout l’ouvrage (The law of nature and nations, or general system of the most important principles of ethics, jurisprudence, and politics. Translated from the Latin of the late Baron Pufendorf, with the translator’s notes and a preface serving as an introduction to the whole work) (Amsterdam, 1706). Later editions: 1712, 1713, 1732, 1734. Jean Barbeyrac’s translation of Pufendorf’s De jure naturae et gentium, first published in 1672, was very influential for the development of natural jurisprudence across the whole of learned Europe.
[27. ]The Donatists, followers of Bishop Donatus of Carthage, were a religious group whose doctrines caused a schism in the African church in the fourth century. They controversially denied the possibility of valid baptism outside the visible institutional church. Augustine’s theology played a leading role in resolving this conflict.
[28. ]See Rudolf Hospinianus (1547–1626), De origine et progressu monachatus ac ordinum monasticorum, equitumque militarium omnium, libri VI (Six books on the origin and the progress of monks and monastic orders, and on all military knights) (Zurich, 1588).
[29. ]See 1 John 1:1.
[30. ]St. Benedict established twelve monasteries, each containing twelve monks, not far from Subiaco in Italy. In 530 he founded the monastery of Montecassino, where he wrote his influential Rule of St. Benedict.
[31. ]After his successful campaigns against the Normans and the Vikings, King Alfred (849–99) promoted public culture and education. He also supported the school of Oxford, which was a precursor of the later university. He followed the example of Charlemagne (768–814), who prescribed that in every cathedral town a school should be established. One of these schools later became the Sorbonne in Paris.
[32. ]Thomasius is referring to the divisions or parts of a discourse in classical rhetoric (exordium, propositio, narratio, tractatio, peroratio). In ca. 350 the Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus wrote two Latin grammars that were frequently used during the Middle Ages. For this reason elementary Latin grammar was often called the “Donat.”
[33. ]The works of Aristotle were translated into Arabic by Al-Farabi (ca. 950) and later commented on by the Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna (i.e., Ibn Sina, 980–1037), whose works were influential in Islamic-dominated Spain. Because of his influence the works of Aristotle were translated into Latin in Toledo. Another Spanish Islamic scholar, Averroës (i.e., Mohammed ibn Ruschd, 1126–98), played a central role in introducing Aristotle’s works into Christian Europe.
[34. ]Peter Abelard (1079–1142) was one of the most famous and independent philosophers of early Scholasticism. In his Theologia he tries to harmonize faith and reason, and he argues against the claim that salvation can be obtained only through the church’s articles of faith. Peter Lombard (1095/1100–1160) taught at the cathedral school in Paris, becoming a bishop 1159. His compilation Sententiae in IV libri distinctae (Four books of sentences) was the most influential medieval textbook for studies in theology.
[35. ]Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) participated in the condemnation of Abelard. Bernard argued that Abelard’s theology led to God being dominated by reason. See Thomasius’s remarks on this in paragraph 25 below.
[36. ]That is, philosophy dealing with real things as opposed to the arts of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic.
[37. ]Founded by Hugh Capet, who became king of France in 987, the Capetian dynasty lasted until 1328. The college of Sorbonne was established in the 1250s.
[38. ]Thomasius is referring to De Antiquitatibus Academicis Dissertationes (Academic dissertations on antiquity) (Helmstedt, 1651) by the influential political jurist Hermann Conring (1606–81); to his own father, Jacob Thomasius’s, Meditationes de philosopho Artista (Thoughts on the philosopher’s art), also in Observationes Selectae ad rem litterariam spectantes, tomus VI (Select observations on considered literary matters, vol. 6) (Halle, 1706); and to Claude Fleury’s Traité du Choix & de la Methode des Etudes (Treatise on the choice and method of studies) (Brussels, 1687).
[39. ]See Jean de Launois, Academia Parisiensis illustrata (The academies of Paris illustrated) (Paris, 1682ff.).
[40. ]See Jean Filesac, Statutorum sacrae facultatis theologiae parisiensis origo prisca (The ancient source of the statutes of the holy theology faculty of Paris) (Paris, 1620).
[41. ]The seven liberal arts are grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Cassiodor (ca. 477–ca. 565/70), statesman and theologian in the service of the Ostrogoth monarchy, wrote an influential textbook, De artibus ac disciplines liberalium litterarum (On the arts and disciplines of liberal letters).
[42. ]Peter Lombard, Sententiae in IV libri distinctae, see note 34.
[43. ]Thomasius refers to the Roman Corpus iuris civilis (Body of civil law), codified in 533 and 534 by the Roman emperor Justinian, and the laws of the Roman Catholic Church, the Corpus iuris canonici (Body of canon law).
[44. ]Galen was the most important physician during Roman antiquity. In his numerous books he made a synthesis of the different medical doctrines and constructed a uniform system of medicine that remained influential until the seventeenth century.
[45. ]Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher who lived between 55 and 135. The “small compendium” is his Encheiridion, which contains his main doctrines as compiled by his student Arrian.
[46. ]See Samuel Pufendorf, Basilii Hyperetae Historische und politische Beschreibung der geistlichen Monarchie des Stuhls zu Rom (Basilius Hypereta’s historical and political description of the clerical monarchy in Rome), published for the first time in 1679; a Latin version appeared in 1688. In 1714 Thomasius published a new edition accompanied by his commentary.
[47. ]That is, the Corpus juris civilis, the body of Roman law, also known as Justinian law or civil law, which provided the legal framework for the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and was also adapted for a similar use by the early modern territorial states of continental Europe.
[48. ]The Pandects are the second part of the Corpus juris civilis.
[49. ]Diocletian (243–313) was Roman emperor from 284 to 305.
[50. ]Here Thomasius is using philosophy in the broad sense, to refer to the disciplines of the philosophy or arts faculty, as the rest of the sentence makes clear.
[51. ]That is, both the strict glossators and also the jurists who had taken an interest in Roman history.
[52. ]Didacus Covarruvias (1512–77) and Fernando Vazquez de Menchaca (1512–69) were exponents of Spanish “Second Scholasticism,” whose jurisprudence influenced the development of early modern natural law thought. François Hotman (1524–90) was professor of Roman law at the universities of Strasbourg, Valence, Bourges, and Genf. Nevertheless he criticized the Roman law in his Anti-Tribonianus and argued for national law codifications. Jean Bodin (1529/30–1596), in his Six livres de la République (Six books of the republic), developed a modern concept of sovereignty that was based on the Roman law’s idea of “imperium.”
[53. ]Gratian’s Decretum refers to the collection of church laws compiled by the twelfth-century canonist Gratian that eventually formed the first part of the Corpus juris canonici. The Decretals refer to the papal decrees that were added subsequently.
[54. ]These philosophers and theologians are leading representatives of high and late Scholasticism: William of Auxerre (early thirteenth century), Albert the Great (1206–80), Thomas Aquinas (1224/25–1274), Giovanni Fidanza Bonaventure (1221–74), Gulielmus (William) Durandus (the Elder, ca. 1237–96), John Duns Scotus (1265/66?–1308), William of Ockham (1290/1300?–1349), Willem Hessels van Estius (1542–1613).
[55. ]Thomas Aquinas (1224–74) wrote his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard around 1254–56 and his Summa theologiae between 1266 and 1273. The latter aimed to synthesize Augustine’s Platonic theology with Aristotelian philosophy. During the sixteenth century Aquinas’s Summa replaced Lombard’s Sentences as the central text for theological training in universities, and commentaries on Aquinas were central to the Spanish “Second Scholasticism,” which emerged at this time. Cajetan (1469–1534) and Medina (1527–81) were Dominicans, Vasquez (1549/51–1604) and Suárez (1548–1617) Jesuits.
[56. ]Sylvester Prierias (1456–1523) was a Dominican inquisitor in Lombardy, a witch-hunter, and one of Luther’s early opponents. Antonino Diana (1586–1663) belonged to the Theatine order and was a noted casuist. The Spanish Jesuit Antonio Escobar y Mendoza (1589–1669) was also a casuist and moral theologian. Azorius or Juan Azor (1535–1603) also belonged to the Spanish Jesuits and was an influential moral theologian. Francisco de Vitoria (1492–1546) was a Spanish Dominican theologian instrumental in the form of Thomist natural law and political theology known as the School of Salamanca. Bartholomew Medina (1527–81) and Dominico de Soto (1494–1560)—both Dominicans—were active in the Salmanca school, as was the Jesuit Ludovicus Molina (1535–1600), while Leonard Lessius (1554–1623) was a Jesuit in the low countries.
[57. ]Founded in 1534 by Ignatius Loyola, the Society of Jesus spearheaded the Catholic church’s attempt to turn back the Protestant Reformation. The Jesuit order sought to tighten Catholic doctrine and enforce theological discipline within the church, becoming the dominant force in Catholic universities across Europe and playing a leading role in Second Scholasticism.
[58. ]See Adam Tribbechov (1641–87), De doctoribus scholasticis et corrupta per eos divinarum humanarumque rerum scientiae (On the scholastic doctors and their corruption of the divine and human sciences) (Giessen, 1665).
[59. ]See, for example, Rudolf Hospinianus, Historia iesuitica, Hoc est, De origine, regulis constitutionibus, privilegiis, incrementis, progressu et propagatione ordinis Iesuitarum (History of the Jesuits, that is, on the origin, rules, constitutions, privileges, growth, progress, and propagation of the Jesuit order) (Zurich, 1619).
[60. ]See note 22 in this chapter.
[61. ]Born in Spain and teaching in England and the Netherlands, Juan Luis Vives (1492–1540) was a well-known humanist and philosopher. For examples of the works to which Thomasius refers, see his De disciplines Libri XII (Twelve books on the disciplines) (Bruges, 1531); De initiis, sectis et laudibus philosophiae (On the beginnings, sects, and merits of philosophy) (Leuven, 1518); and Introductio ad veram sapientiam (Introduction to true wisdom) (Bruges, 1524).
[62. ]Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486–1535), De incertitudine et vanitate omnium Scientiarum et artium et de excellentia verbi Dei (On the uncertainty and vanity of all sciences and arts and on the excellence of the word of God) (1530).
[63. ]Johannes Reuchlin (1455–1522) was one of the most important humanists in Germany. The Epistolae obscurorum virorum (Letters of obscure men) (Hagenau, 1515/16) were written by supporters of Reuchlin and contained a satirical attack on scholastic method.
[64. ]Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469–1536), theologian and leading humanist. The two works mentioned here are: Morias Enkomion sive Laus Stultitiae (Basel, 1511) and Familiarum colloquiorum formulae (Basel, 1518). In English: Desiderius Erasmus, Praise of Folly, translated with an introduction and notes by B. Radice (London: Folio Society, 1974); and Desiderius Erasmus, Colloquies, translated and annotated by C. R. Thompson. Collected Works of Erasmus, vol. 40 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997).
[65. ]Esaias von Pufendorf (1628–89), secretary of state in Sweden, brother of Samuel Pufendorf.
[66. ]Jacob Thomasius, Origines Historiae philosophicae et ecclesiasticae (Origins of philosophical and ecclesiastic history) (Leipzig, 1665).
[67. ]Joshua, Moses’s successor, led the Israelites over the Jordan River. The seventy-two elders were representatives of the Israelites and are mentioned several times in the Book of Exodus.
[68. ]Simon the Magician was the leader of the Gnostics and in the view of the Fathers of the Church the author of all heresies. See, for example, Acts of the Apostles 8:9–24.
[69. ]Zoroaster, who lived in Persia around 600 , founded a religion based on the dualism between good and evil.
[70. ]Titus Flavius Clemens, called Clement of Alexandria, lived at the beginning of the third century. Thomasius seems to be referring to Clement’s Stromateis (Miscellanies).
[71. ]The name Dionysius the Areopagite is a pseudonym used by an unknown author of Neoplatonic texts written at the beginning of the sixth century. The real Dionysius the Areopagite, who is mentioned in Acts of the Apostles 17:34, was a member of the areopag (court of justice in Athens) and was converted by Paul.
[72. ]The Messalians were an ascetic movement that arose in Mesopotamia around 360. Its followers wanted to expel the inner demon by permanent prayer as a way of reaching the Holy Ghost.
[73. ]Pelagianism denies original sin and emphasizes humanity’s freedom of will and moral abilities, thereby downplaying Augustinianism’s insistence on the necessity of divine grace for salvation. The term goes back to Pelagius, a British theologian who lived and taught in Rome until ca. 410 when he went to North Africa, following the fall of Rome. His teachings were condemned at the Council of Carthage in 418.
[74. ]Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153). For Abelard, see note 34 in this chapter.
[75. ]Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173) became prior at the abbey of St. Victor in Paris in 1160. As a student of Hugh of St. Victor he argued for an encyclopedic concept of science, which led to a theology based on Scripture.
[76. ]Johannes Scotus Eriugena (ca. 810–77) taught liberal arts at the palace school of Charles II in Paris. Apart from his Latin translation of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite (see note 71 in this chapter), he also translated Greek authors (e.g., Gregory of Nyssa). He saw the unity of true religion and true philosophy in their common origin in God.
[77. ]Almaricus of Bena (d. 1206) taught liberal arts in Paris. His central aim was to synthesize the cosmological and historical revelation of God with the help of the dialectical argument that God is everywhere and God causes everything. These arguments indeed have a certain similarity to the pantheism of Baruch de Spinoza (1632–77) and the Spinozists.
[78. ]Albert the Great maintained the compatibility of Christian belief and Aristotelian philosophy.
[79. ]Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531) was a leader of the Swiss Reformation who had begun as a follower of Erasmus but was radicalized under the influence of Luther.
[80. ]See Martin Luther, Eyn deutsch Theologia. Das ist eyn edles Buchleyn von rechtem verstand, was Adam und Christus sey, und wie Adam yn uns sterben, und Christus ersteen sall (A German theology. That is a noble booklet showing rightly what Adam and Christ are, and how Adam should die and Christ be resurrected in us) (Wittenberg, 1518).
[81. ]Johann Valentin Andreae (1586–1654) was a Lutheran theologian who criticized the science of his times in his writings on the Rosicrucians. In his Rei publicae christianopolitanae descriptio (Description of the republic Christianopolis) (1619) he presented a utopian image of a Christian community whose devotion to science and erudition precluded social and theological conflict.
[82. ]In his De rege et regis institutione (On the king and the institution of the king) (1599), Juan de Mariana S.J. (1536–1624) developed a theory of tyrannicide by purporting to distinguish tyrants from kings.
[83. ]See note 57 in this chapter.
[84. ]Francisco Suárez S.J. (1548–1617) was one of the most important exponents of Spanish Second Scholasticism, writing influential treatises on metaphysics and natural law.
[85. ]Maximilian Sandaeus S.J. (1578–1656) was famous for his Theologica mystica (1627).
[86. ]The Augsburg Confession is the declaration of the Lutheran articles of faith. It was written by Philipp Melanchthon and presented to Emperor Charles V in January 1530.
[87. ]Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) was a Dutch humanist scholar active in philology, history, jurisprudence, and theology, and the author of a natural-law theory based on human sociality. He was also a poet and a politician. As a syndic of Rotterdam, he was a member of the Dutch Estates and closely allied with Jan van Oldenbarnevelt, the de facto prime minister of the Dutch Republic. When van Oldenbarnevelt fell, Grotius’s support of liberal Calvinist religion and politics led to his jailing by the strict Calvinist political faction. After escaping, he lived in exile in Paris, becoming a Swedish ambassador to the French court in 1634. In 1644 he was recalled by the Swedish queen. He died the following year on his way from Sweden to Holland after a shipwreck on the Baltic Sea.
[88. ]With the help of his wife, Grotius escaped, hidden in a chest of books.
[89. ]Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580–1637) was one of the great humanist scholars of the time and the center of an international network of correspondence.
[90. ]The full Latin title is De iure belli ac pacis libri tres in quibus Jus naturae et Gentium, item Juris Publici praecipua explicantur. The book was first published in 1625 and became the most important early modern text on law in general and natural law in particular. “Iure” in the title is translated either as “law” or as “right,” according to one’s interpretation of Grotius’s theory.
[91. ]Marcus Tullius Cicero’s (106–43 ) book De officiis (On duties) was an important source for Grotius and generally played an influential role as a mediator between the natural law of antiquity and modern natural law.
[92. ]The translator of De iure belli ac pacis was Philipp Balthasar Sinold von Schütz (1657–1742), a well-known journalist and Pietist poet. The translation was published in 1707, when Sinold von Schütz was a tutor at the court of the Duchess of Sachsen-Merseburg.
[93. ]John Selden (1554–1654) was an English jurist and politician whose theory of natural law is developed in his De jure naturali & gentium juxta disciplinam Hebraeorum, Libri VII (Seven books on the law of nature and nations according to the teachings of the Hebrews) (London, 1640). In the early modern period, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was commonly seen as a natural-law thinker. He had a significant influence on continental, including German, political theory and natural jurisprudence, not least through Samuel Pufendorf’s critical reception of his work.
[94. ]Pufendorf was vehemently attacked by Protestant theologians and jurists seeking to defend a Christian version of natural law against what they took to be Pufendorf’s profane Hobbesian version.
[95. ]Thomasius wrote two quite different books on natural law: first the Institutiones iurisprudentiae divinae (Institutes of divine jurisprudence) (1688), which seeks to harmonize biblical law and Pufendorf’s natural law; then the Fundamenta iuris naturae et gentium (Foundations of the law of nature and nations) (1705), in which biblical law is dropped in favor of a naturalistic theory. Between these works Thomasius was temporarily open to the influence of mysticism and asserted that human morality is completely dependent upon the grace of God. Later he changed his mind and developed a theory of natural law based on the passions and the primacy of the will over reason.