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ESSAY 2: The Right of Protestant Princes Regarding Indifferent Matters or Adiaphora - 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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The Right of Protestant Princes Regarding Indifferent Matters or Adiaphora
SEPTEMBER 13, 16951
Ecclesiastical Ordinances for the Duchy of Magdeburg, by the Elector of Brandenburg
As often as there is occasion to do so, and on the basis of God’s word and these Ordinances, ministers shall instruct their congregations that external ecclesiastical ceremonies and practices in themselves are not divine worship, nor an essential part of it, but that they are there only so that divine worship is conducted at an appropriate time and at an established place in an orderly and honorable fashion.
Augsburg Confession, Article 7
The true unity of the church does not require there to be a general uniformity of those ceremonies which have been introduced by man.
Augsburg Confession, Article 15
Of the ecclesiastical ordinances introduced by man, those should be taught to be observed which can be followed without sin, and which serve to preserve peace and good order in the church. But it is necessary to emphasize that consciences should not be burdened with these, as if they were necessary for salvation.
Augsburg Confession, Article 16
It is a Christian duty to obey the magistrate and his orders whenever this is possible without sin.
On the Foundations of the Right of the Protestant Prince Concerning Indifferent Matters or Church Ceremonies
§1. Man acquires knowledge of his duty, and of the honest actions he must perform in this life and the despicable ones from which he must abstain, from two sources: the light of reason and the light of revelation. Religion is thus also twofold, one part being natural and the other revealed. It is not our intention to list everything which can be put forward about the differences between these two forms of religion, mainly because we do not want to encroach on the territory of venerable theology. On this occasion it may suffice for us to consider how these two differ from each other with respect to indifferent matters, as this question pertains to a proper investigation of their origin. Here I believe it is not controversial to say that natural religion orders man to worship and revere God as the supreme legislator and express his will in our actions insofar as we are able to understand it with our reason, to further sociality with the greatest assiduity, and to cultivate peace and tranquillity in our relations with other humans. Does this natural religion require humans to perform some kind of external worship consisting in ceremonies? This is doubtful, and we know that this has recently been discussed in writing. We believe it does not, even though this may appear dubious to many or even blasphemy to certain sophists and hypocrites. For whether we look toward God or man, we will find nothing from which it can be firmly concluded that God requires this kind of worship from us; for he is the most perspicacious scrutinizer of hearts, and he has no need of external ceremonies for us to declare our will to him; and that which pleases him most in man’s worship lies entirely open to his gaze. Therefore our reason cannot but conclude that there is nothing in the nature of God that commands us to worship him in an external way. If our reason turns to human nature, it cannot see the necessity for such worship there either. For it does not see any necessary connection between life in society and the external worship of God, as human society does not suffer if we fail to perform the latter. It might be in the interests of sociality that I declare my inner reverence for the Deity before others as, so to speak, the foundation of all obligation, so that they may not consider me an atheist and shun me. Yet even here I can sufficiently indicate my inner worship by other means and by more reliable signs, that is, by observing the law of nature and performing the duties I owe to other men. Compared to this, religious ceremonies are merely fallible signs, as even a hypocrite and a fellow devoted to all vices can perform such ceremonies. And this I believe—just to mention it in passing—could have been the reason why the pagans themselves, who being without grace were very prone to hypocrisy, put so much emphasis on this external worship, and were little concerned with internal worship. It is not surprising that those philosophers who recognized the vanity of this custom were immediately declared to be atheists in those societies. This is no different from our society where, if someone wants to worship God in true humility and self-abnegation, and does not cling to outward ritual in the manner of the vulgar populace, he is as good as publicly denounced as a Quaker if not a scandalous heretic.10 Therefore I cannot help but conclude that all external worship in natural religion is an indifferent matter.11 Even if I know very well that most doctors assert the sanctification of one particular day among seven to be founded in natural law, see Major in the disputation on the Sabbath, Thesis 35; Dannhauer, in the Collegium Decalogicum on precept 3; Osiander on the Sabbath, thesis 22, cited by the illustrious and great pro-rector Mr. Stryk in his comments on Brunnemann, Jus Ecclesiasticum, book 2, chapter 1, membrum 1, §8.12 We will not spend time disproving their opinion, because they presuppose a hypothesis that we have already refuted.
§2. Indeed, the condition of humanity is such that it cannot achieve the more sublime end for which it is destined by God by means of the worship suggested by natural reason alone; for man can by his natural powers attain to some recognition of his weaknesses and miseries, but cannot find out the remedy for these and reach the door of salvation without the particular assistance of divine grace. God thus wished to open a special path to men by which he was to be reconciled with them, and by which he wanted to be revered by them. And biblical history teaches us that this worship had from the creation of the world certain external elements mixed with it. For without doubt it was at the suggestion of the Deity himself that the sacrificial slaughter of animals was introduced from the very first ages of the world, as a symbol for the Messiah, who would atone for the Fall of humanity. Otherwise, if we abstract from divine revelation and examine the matter according to the principles of reason, it is incomprehensible why the destruction of a creature should please God, as Pufendorf rightly reasons in his On the Relationship of Religion to the Commonwealth §8.13 But it is still dubious whether God immediately introduced other external ceremonies. For I know that concerning the Sabbath the theologians themselves are not in complete agreement, and that some decree that it was the Mosaic Laws which declared the seventh day to be holy before all others, but that previously the patriarchs and others performed the same worship of God on all days. Their opinion seems quite sensible to me. It is certain that after God linked himself to the Jewish people in a peculiar covenant—subjecting them to his own law after they had been liberated from the Egyptian servitude—he formed a particular religion for them with peculiar laws and countless ceremonial commandments. This was to last until the advent of the Messiah, and was in a certain sense a prefiguration of the future kingdom of Christ. But after our Savior had been sent in the fullness of time into this world, he introduced what was plainly another and different religion as far as external rites were concerned, namely, one which almost completely conformed to natural religion in terms of its external ceremonies. The pomp of sacrifices and other rituals was abolished, and all external ceremonies, with the exception of those which Christ specifically imposed on his disciples—for example, baptism, the Eucharist, etc.—became indifferent matters. The Christian religion would thus appear to be content with an internal worship, that is, with the true humility of a self-abnegating mind, which devotes itself entirely to God. And, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Christ and the apostles devoted themselves to this practical religion with all their powers, in order to take part in the kingdom of Christ, which consists in justice, peace, and joy.
§3. But the Christian religion did not remain for long in this state of simplicity, far removed from all external pomp. After various sorts of people had converted to Christianity—especially the Jews and Greeks with whom the apostles frequently came into contact14 —they directed all their efforts toward introducing those ceremonies to which they had been accustomed into this new religion of theirs, and toward making it more splendid, so to speak. There is a famous example of this in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter XV, where it is said that Christians, newly converted from Judaism, wanted to force circumcision onto the other Christians, claiming it was a necessary part of faith. This was until Paul and Barnabas called a gathering of each and every Christian in Jerusalem and in this uniquely holy council taught that Christians could leave aside this ritual as something superfluous. They pointed out that, even though the pagans had not been circumcised, the Holy Spirit had been communicated to them through the preaching of the word of God, if they listened to it with pious and ardent desire. Nevertheless, in order that the Jews be satisfied in some respect, and admit all the more willingly the company of the faithful among the Gentiles, or rather, in order that the new Christians be separated from the Gentiles by some external mark, they believed that they should abstain from anything concerning idols, from unchastity,15 from what is strangled, and from blood.16But the further the times of Christ and the apostles receded, the more that simplicity was left behind, and the more did Christians want to dress up their religion in rituals and external ceremonies, especially after the Roman emperors had given it their support. For at the time of Constantine the Great Christian affairs underwent an enormous change. Until then the church had been oppressed and subject to harsh persecutions, notwithstanding which extremely bitter disputes, envy, and rivalry between priests arose among Christians themselves, even in the second and third centuries; scandalous schisms were born from this, for which see the Gotha Ecclesiastical History, book 2, chapter 3, section 2; and Huber’s Civil History, part 2, book 2, section 4, chapter 5, §2.17 At the time of Constantine the Great, however, this storm of pagan persecution ceased, and those evils, which spread among those who live in the supreme abundance and superfluity of all things—that is, ambition, avarice, and, developing from this, hatred and persecution of dissenters—immediately infected the Christians too, especially the bishops and the clerics, who most enjoyed the favor of Constantine the Great. For this reason just as the vices of the court crept into the church—rather than Christian simplicity and piety being communicated to the court of the emperor—so it is not surprising that Christian religion also changed its character, and went over to external ceremonies and was absorbed by these, always with the exception of a kernel of pious believers, who remained concealed. It is appropriate to refer here to the words of Huber’s Civil History part 2, book 3, section 1, §7. When true devotion, he says, which is an act of the mind renouncing itself and devoting itself to God in Christ, fell into disuse, together with the internal worship of God in Spirit and in truth, efforts were made to keep the populace occupied in superstitious awe, which they called devotion,18with the help of rituals and ceremonies, taken largely from Judaism and paganism. The veneration of the cross is part of this, as are the kissing of other reliquaries, the pilgrimages to the sepulcher of the Lord, the placing of images in churches, and other examples of physical worship of this kind, which later on degenerated into hideous idolatry. That this opinion of Huber’s is not a figment of the imagination, we can learn simply from Eusebius, who, with enormous diligence, gathered everything that could serve to extol Constantine, and nevertheless measured his [i.e., Constantine’s] piety entirely in terms of his generosity toward clerics, the construction of churches, and other such deeds that are no indication of true piety at all. So, considering that the piety of the emperor consisted in external matters of this kind, it is not surprising that the populace followed the example of the monarch, and was completely beholden to external ceremonies. Even Calixt acknowledges this in his Dissertation on Baptism, §145,19 alleging that Augustine already complained about the number of ceremonies in his time, saying, that Christians were now more oppressed by man-made institutes than the Jewish people had been by the burdens of the ceremonial law. Calixt even adds his own opinion that the more piety decreased, the more rituals, ceremonies, and solemnities increased, and an effort was made to captivate the vulgar populace by the splendid pomp that bewitched their eyes. Whatever is to be said about the age of Constantine, however, it is clear that the matter finally came to this: that the true worship of God was in most cases extinguished from the minds of men, everything was filled with all kinds of superstitious ceremonies, until in the last [i.e., the sixteenth] century the matter had clearly become ripe for a Reformation. Once the corruption of the Catholic Church, which had been increasing over many centuries, had become obvious to people—above all as a result of the manifest unrighteousness of the popes and other clergymen—Luther and the other reformers toiled to liberate the church from this stain and restore it to its pristine vigor, even though they chose different ways of doing so. Luther and his followers retained some apparatus of external ritual, in order, as Monzambano argues in chapter 8, §7 to divert the minds of the simple people, whose powers of comprehension usually were not up to the bare meditation of piety.20Zwingli and others, however, threw out the rites of the Catholics completely, because they were redolent of superstition, and purged their external ceremony of all outward pomp. The result of this was discord among the reformers, though occasion for this was also provided by differences in their ways of speaking about the articles of faith. This was no inconsiderable obstacle to their enterprise and was very shameful. Protestants were divided into two factions whose hostility toward each other was no less than their hostility toward the papalists. It is therefore appropriate to discuss the prince’s right to abrogate these ceremonies and to introduce new ones. But in order that I do not seem to be interfering in someone else’s affairs, we must first see whether the matter pertains to Jurisprudence or to Theology?
§4. First the common persuasion of the Doctors seems to present a formidable obstacle to our design. On this basis they commonly imagine that the cases which they call cases of conscience belong to Theology in such a way that if jurists claim to decide such cases for themselves then they trespass on another profession.21 This argument has typically enjoyed such authority that jurisconsults on the whole have abstained from such cases, in order not to seem to be causing tumults, leaving them to the theologians. More than all others, however, Havemann urges this argument in his Treatise on the Rights of Bishops, title XIII.22 Here he puts forward his opinion that on this basis the more complex cases concerning matrimony must not be decided by jurists at all, speaking thus: Who thus would be so utterly obtuse as to keep the ministers of the church away from divine matters and cases of conscience? For they are solemnly entrusted by God with the interpretation of Scripture and the instruction of consciences with the word of God. Given that many of the cases discussed in this dissertation are commonly considered to be cases of conscience, it would appear that this argument should rightly deter us from our project, forcing us to leave it to those who want to preside over such. Here I should like to oppose this objection by pointing out that conscience is nothing other than the judgment of the intellect on human actions insofar as it is imbued with the knowledge of laws, and thus the conscience can have a role in directing human actions only insofar as it is imbued with the knowledge of laws. For to attribute to conscience some sort of peculiar force of directing actions in any other sense, would be nothing other than to attribute to random fantasies of men the force of laws and to introduce utter confusion into human affairs, as the blessed Mr. Pufendorf reasons correctly in his On the Law of Nature and Nations, book I, chapter 3, §4.23 From this it will readily be apparent that just as it would be an injury for anyone to want to exclude theologians from the determination of cases of conscience, so those people who want to leave every decision of cases of conscience to the theologians are very injurious toward jurists. For which faculty the case pertains to depends on the circumstances of the fact. If one must decide on the basis of principles of theology, which concern eternal salvation, then the case pertains to theology; if the decision must be based on those laws which concern man’s temporal welfare, it pertains to jurisprudence. As we will derive the principles of our dissertation from the law of nature and the human laws based on these, and these undoubtedly belong to the jurists, so our intention thus cannot be presented as a fault. In addition we agree with the opinion of the blessed Mr. Pufendorf. He says in the book cited above that we must confess that the common meaning of the word conscience was introduced first by the Scholastics, but in recent centuries the so-called cases of conscience were invented by cunning priests who wanted to influence the minds of humans according to their own whim. Our adversaries, however, insist firmly that the definition of indifferent matters must be sought from theology textbooks, and that theologians, the true interpreters of Scripture, thus know exactly what indifferent matters are. Thus, for jurists to discuss this matter is as unsuitable as if a baker judged a leather hide, a cobbler judged bread, an ironsmith judged a precious stone and a diamond, a tailor judged ambergris,24 which is a comparison Havemann pursues at some length in the work cited above, but which is one worthy of pity rather than refutation. Concerning this argument over the definition, we concede that this has to be sought from Holy Scripture, but we deny that it is possible to conclude from this that jurists cannot act in this matter. Who would deny that jurists can intervene in cases of incest, sodomy, simony, and other religious offenses, which are committed not contrary to natural law, but contrary either to universal divine positive law, or to Christianity? Jurisconsults also deal with heretics, and yet the definition of heresy is to be sought from Holy Scripture. (For I believe that the definition of a heretic, which exists in the second law, §1 of the title On Heretics in the Code, cannot be acceptable to Protestants.)25 It would be papist to want to exclude jurists from Holy Scripture. Theologians use Sacred Scripture and jurists use it, but for different ends: the former do so in order to dispose the minds of men to eternal salvation, the latter in order to lead them to temporal well-being. For the faculties of theology and law must not be distinguished by their books,26 but by their ends. I therefore cannot accept the fact that several theologians, such as Havemann, want to restrict jurists to Roman law, and if they wish to have an opinion on anything beyond that, immediately accuse them of trespassing on their profession,27 as if this were a barbaric crime, whereas it is merely a scholastic and pedagogical one. Therefore, and this must be carefully noted, we draw the object of our dissertation from theology. We do not, however, borrow our principles from theology but from natural law. Just as for example arithmetic does not interfere with theology, even if it applies its own principles to examples from sacred history, so we too will not be committing a sin when we apply natural-law principles of rights in religious affairs to the general subject of indifferent matters. To borrow the principles of demonstration from a different discipline is one thing, it is another to seek from elsewhere the object to which the demonstration is to be applied, as I have observed in my Divine Jurisprudence book 1, chapter 2, §§17 & 18.28 Now that we have removed these obstacles we will tackle the matter itself more directly, and we will do so first by providing a definition of indifferent matters.
§5. The term, adiaphoron [indifferent matter], however, is used in a twofold sense, one broad and one strict.The former stands for all things that are by nature neither good nor bad, or that have not been determined by divine laws, and over which the prince can dispose as the utility of the commonwealth requires. For matters which have been prohibited or commanded by God, in either natural or positive law, need no particular human determination, except insofar as the prince can add some sort of confirmation to these precepts so that the citizens are all the more bound to their observance. In the narrower sense of the word, however, which is the one we are concerned with here, adiaphora describes those rites and ceremonies that are usually practiced in the congregations of Christians for the sake of the outward worship of God, and which are neither commanded nor prohibited by either God or Christ, such as the use of certain vestments, of candles, of exorcism [in baptism], and so on. For just as in all forms of jurisprudence some matters are considered indifferent when the laws have not determined anything on them, so too in Christianity and Christian affairs some matters, which neither Christ nor the principles of true Christianity prohibit, are considered to be permitted. [See] Havemann, On the Rights of Bishops, title XI, §1, Carpzov, Ecclesiastical Jurisprudence, book 2, title 15, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4,29as well as the Formula of Concord title X.30—If only [the Formula] had not made the definition [of indifferent matters] so obscure by adding so many limitations and qualifications. For, from the time of that sacred book until today, the fractious and unruly have always used this title X as justification for resistance to the princes and for establishing the second papacy predicted by Luther. This has especially been the case when the issue concerned the abrogation of certain indifferent ceremonies—which tended, however, to incline people more to superstition—but even more so when Calvinist princes acquired Lutheran subjects.31 And he would be blind who did not see that this little book [the Formula of Concord] was for the most part written with hatred against the Calvinists, who at that time were labeled Phillipists and given other more hurtful names;32 and [he would be blind who did not see] that the said title X points in this direction, even if the formal controversy pretends otherwise; just as [this hatred] is palpably clear from the said title X of the abridgement,in the line “In this matter however, all fickleness” etc. and from the extensive explanation of the title X toward the end, in the lines “We reject and condemn their folly” etc., and from the arguments that the Wittenberg theologians have drawn from these passages to use against Calvinist magistrates. As this seems to me to contradict the Augsburg Confession, article 7 “it is not necessary” etc., article 15 “they further tranquility,” and article 16 “unless they command to sin” etc.,33 I will reserve the other comments which can be put forward here for the disputation itself.34
§6. As we have already briefly considered the general principles governing the prince’s right in religious affairs, now we will show what rights a prince has with regard to adiaphora or indifferent matters. In this issue, the more rocks there are on which one might run aground, the more cautiously one must proceed. In particular, we must take care not to veer too far to the right or to the left; that is, one should not foster principles which lead to the introduction of either Caesaro-Papalism or Papalo-Caesarism.35 Therefore those Doctors, who are always appealing to the Israelite kings on this matter, or to the examples of the first Christian emperors, seem to me to proceed in an inappropriate manner. This form of proof seems slippery and dangerous in both cases. For, as far as the examples from the Old Testament are concerned, it must be noted that the nature of the Jewish religion differed from that of Christian religion, not only in its internal matters [i.e., doctrines], but also in the regulation of its external affairs. For just as the Jewish religion was coeval with the state, and the laws concerning religious and civil matters were established at the same time and written in the same book, so the Jewish religion was so closely connected to the state that the Jewish religion could not be preserved without the Jewish state and vice versa. On this account the Jewish commonwealth was distinguished from all others in that it was a theocracy, and the Jews could not perform any action relevant to the supreme secular power without particular advice from God, as he had reserved to himself the supreme overlordship in that commonwealth—not in the [metaphorical] sense that he is called the King of Kings or the Lord of all Lords, but in the same sense as our most serene elector is the duke of this duchy [i.e., Magdeburg]. And God exercised this overlordship concerning the right to wage war, to build the Temple, and so on, not only at the time of the Judges, but during that of the Kings, as is clear from the examples cited from Holy Scripture. Therefore those people certainly do our princes an injustice, when they compare their rights with those of the Israelite kings. For our princes possess many rights not enjoyed by those kings.
§7. Concerning the examples of Constantine the Great and Theodosius, and of the other emperors, there is nothing here on which we could safely depend. For these emperors, not so much by their own fault as by that of the clerics to which they were beholden, brought about many completely indefensible changes in the right in religious matters. There is no need to list examples from ecclesiastical history. Our Code of Justinian itself sufficiently indicates the principles of ecclesiastical law at that time, to such an extent that there are but few laws concerning religious matters where Anti-Christ does not rear his head. Those who base their argument on that common slogan Cuius regio eius religio36 make poor provision for the rights of princes. This slogan seems to have been seized by Protestant princes at the beginning of the Reformation as protection against the authority of the emperor, who wanted to prevent their Reformation. They pretended that what they did in the territories under their rule was no concern of the emperor. But already others have observed that this axiom has caused much damage to Protestant religion, as pro-papal princes turned it against Protestants and under this pretext subjected them to harsh persecution. For when at the beginning of the [seventeenth] century the papalists formed the plan to extirpate the Protestants in the hereditary territories of the emperor,37 and the name of the Inquisition struck horror into everybody who heard of it, they labeled this persecution a Reformation. The Protestants’ own term and catchphrase was thus applied to themselves, and the Catholics drew on the same pretext that the Protestants had previously used in order to expel Roman Catholics from their territories. I could mention other arguments of this kind which are commonly used to ground the right in religious affairs.
§8. In order to avoid the two extremes we have noted in §6, we postulate above all that there is no sentence in the New Testament specifically directed at supreme secular rulers by which they are entrusted with a particular office concerning the church—in the way that there was a precept for the kings of Israel Deuteronomy XVII, verses 18, 19, and 2038 —or by which a rule for exercising these rights was prescribed to them. I conclude from this that all rights of Christian princes—regarded as princes39—are to be learned from the principles of natural law and the genuine nature of civil sovereignty. All those matters which have not been regulated, expressed, and determined in Holy Scripture must be derived from sound reason. For one reads nowhere that in teaching the Christian religion to the pagans Christ and the apostles brought about a change in the rights of princes, insofar as they flow from natural law. On the contrary, Christ and the apostles always inculcated obedience toward the magistracy. And thus if a pagan commonwealth adopts Christianity, the constitution of the state concerning the rights of the princes is not changed or abolished, but the supreme power remains in all its parts, and the subjects remain with all their offices and duties. For the change that occurs in citizens through Christian faith, or that should indeed occur in them, does not affect the obligation existing between prince and subjects, but refers only to the internal disposition of the mind; and to this extent the rights of the princes over their subjects remain untouched. This is also quite clear from the fact that Christ and the apostles never founded a separate commonwealth among their followers, or encouraged them to leave the commonwealth in which they had lived until then and found a new one, as Moses had done among the Jews at God’s command. Therefore Christ’s disciples were not subordinate to him in the way citizens are usually subordinate to their prince, but in the way students are subordinate to their teacher. They did not adopt his form of religion with some specific act of homage, which is what the false disciples of Christ introduced over time, but were drawn to him by love and admiration; see John chapter VI, 66, 67, 68. On this basis we must see what right therefore pertains to the prince in religious matters on the basis of natural law and the genuine nature of sovereign power. Leaving aside the fundamental laws of individual commonwealths, by which the exercise of territorial sovereignty is limited and confined within certain barriers, this question can be decided best by looking at the purpose of commonwealths and the reason for their foundation. The purpose of commonwealths, however, in this corrupt state is for subjects to provide themselves with some protection against evils and attacks with which their more powerful neighbors in the state of nature threaten them. For below God there is no more efficient instrument for coercing the malice of humans and for securing their safety than that ingenious invention whereby many humans by a mutual pact subject the direction of their will and their powers to the will of another, for the common benefit of the whole community of subjects. As a result, it is undoubtedly true that a prince accrues as much power as is required for obtaining this purpose of the commonwealth, namely, for its internal and external peace. Therefore it is the prince’s duty above all to take care, that vices liable to disturb this peace, such as greed, ambition, and lust, do not break forth, and that, if by chance they have erupted to the detriment of the commonwealth, they are again repressed, in order that they do not spread any further and the commonwealth suffer more serious damage. True religion, natural as well as revealed, must above all serve man in purging his mind from such vices and rendering himself increasingly prepared for the veneration of God. Nevertheless, the experience of all centuries testifies that religion has such a perverse effect on many humans, that they use it as a sort of instrument for perpetrating the most awful crimes; and not only for causing unrest in the commonwealth in which they live, but also for threatening, disturbing, and overthrowing neighboring states. Therefore the prince is obliged to take care that no damage is inflicted on the commonwealth by the religion of these evildoers. For, by the very fact that they stir up unrest in the commonwealth, they show sufficiently that they care nothing for true religion nor hold it close to their heart. For the true religion and Christian faith abhors quarrels, discord, and disputes which disturb the external civil peace; and it disposes minds rather toward patiently suffering injuries than toward inflicting them on others. From this it follows that they [i.e., those who stir up unrest] cannot appeal to religion, if the prince wants to punish them for these vices. He namely who sins against religion is unworthy of the privilege of religion. On account of the fact that there is nothing so holy that it cannot be abused and defiled when it is in human hands, there is no doubt that the general supervision of his subjects’ actions, both in secular and religious matters belongs to the prince and that nobody can complain of an injury because of this. For if they conduct themselves properly they have nothing to fear; but if they perform evil deeds, it is their own fault if the prince coerces them. And do not Germany and almost all the kingdoms of Europe provide sufficient testimony of the harmful effects religious disagreements and upheavals can have? If therefore we deprived the prince of the power to suppress the upheavals stirred up by religion, certainly the entire commonwealth would perish. Thus I believe that they reason truly and properly who state that all actions of subjects are subordinated to the power of the prince, as long as these actions are subordinate to the free will of the citizens both naturally and morally. For it would be cruel to command subjects to do something impossible, and impious to command them to do something immoral. For all such actions by subjects can harm the commonwealth, and the prince can prevent them by adopting preemptive measures, so that he is not forced to look around for a remedy after the damage has been done. And this opinion of ours I believe conforms more closely to right reason and is easier to understand than the opinion of those who distinguish between the internal and the external aspects of religion, arguing that the prince may regulate the latter but not the former.40 There is no doubt that the prince does not have power over internal matters, since these are not subject to the will of humans; yet if one turns to the external matters and this distinction is then applied to a controversial case, then determining which matters are internal and which external frequently gives rise to disagreement. I will illustrate the matter with a case study: some doctors are asked whether the prince can compel Jews living in his territory to attend Christian services? Those who affirm this say that it pertains to the external matters, those who deny it count it among the internal. Each side argues for its opinion with probable arguments. Our above rule decides unambiguously: because the Jews regard it as unjust and repellent to attend Christian churches and take part in their sacred rites, and because this does not contribute anything to the peace of the commonwealth, it is not admissible to coerce their conscience. And although their conscience is mistaken, this error nevertheless must not be corrected by coercion, but by amicable conversation, pious example, and other remedies, which conform more closely to reason and the precepts of Christ. And this is the way in which similar cases ought to be decided.
§9. If somebody considers all these matters justly, I believe that he will easily grant us that there is no need to rack one’s brains in order to prove that indifferent matters concerning the worship of God are also subject to the direction of the prince. Here there is no principle on the basis of which Christians could pretend that the prince’s power to command ceases in this domain. For supreme civil power extends to everything which is not determined by divine law, as Grotius proves at length in his On the Right in Sacred Affairs, chapter 3.41 For just as the prince in public law lays claim to his right over all inhabitants of his territory by virtue of his territorial overlordship [superioritas territorialis]—and indeed over all goods located in it, unless it is possible to point out an exception—so no distinction must be made between subjects who are constituted in some position of dignity, be it supreme or minor, or between subjects of the lowest and the highest estate in society. (See the illustrious von Rhez in his work on Public Law, book 2, title 2, §16, and the illustrious Gentleman from Jena in his dissertation on reason of state 19, conclusion 2.)42 As a result, all actions of citizens which are not determined by the word of God, and which are within their free will, can thus be determined by civil laws. In order that our argument may not seem paradoxical to anyone, let us hear Brunnemann, who says in his work On Ecclesiastical Law book 1, chapter 2, §34:However, as the actions of humans are either commanded or permitted by divine law, the prince can assign time, place, form, and persons to them, insofar as they are not defined either by the nature of the matter or a divine law. Further, in these matters the prince can remove obstacles and sometimes add rewards, and impose punishments for illicit actions. But the prince cannot prohibit those actions which are commanded by God, such as the salutary preaching of the word and the administering of the sacraments. The prince can command, though, that the words concerning baptism and sacred communion are proclaimed with a loud voice in public, and similar things. Let us also hear Conring in On the Authority of the Sovereign in Sacred Affairs,43thesis 15, where he says that it is not forbidden to constitute something concerning these matters, and decency requires that what is prescribed in them may be defined by human laws. As therefore our indifferent matters are of this kind it follows automatically that they depend on the will of the prince. This Brunnemann expresses more clearly in §28 of the book quoted above. He says that the right in religious matters belongs to the prince, not just in regulating external discipline, but also in regulating ceremonies, and all of this to the extent that is permitted by divine law, the fundamental laws of the provinces, pacts, and agreements. But how should we contradict those who believe that thereby the political Anti-Christ is introduced as, for example, Havemann complains in the treatise quoted above? On this see Brunnemann op. cit. §34 at the end, add Ziegler in his fifth Dissertation, on the Rights of the Sovereign, §59.44 I can easily foresee that this doctrine will not please those who believe that there must be an aristocratic government in the church; but I ask those people to suppress their passionate hostility for a bit, until we shall have responded to their doubts in §16. In the meantime they should allow us to move on to other matters.
§10. Those rights we have properly ascribed to the prince flow from the character and nature of supreme government which is itself based on natural law. Thus it also follows automatically that this power is an entitlement of all princes, without distinction, whichever religion they may adhere to. For religion, as we have already said above, does not alter the rights of government and does not affect them. For just as the subjects, be they Lutherans, Reformed, or Catholic, are, without damage to their religion, equally subject to their prince, whether he is Lutheran or Reformed so, on the other hand, does the prince have the same rights over his subjects, be they Lutheran, Reformed, or Catholic. For authority and subjection are correlates, and where there is equal subjection, there is also equal authority. I know of course that not so long ago a certain well-known author wanted to prove in a published piece that Lutheranism was more favorable to princes than Calvinism and all other religions, and therefore the princes should join the Lutheran side, for the sake of self-interest alone; but I also know that this author has already been refuted by the supervisor of this dissertation [i.e., Thomasius] in his Monatsgespräche.45 And I believe that this method of converting princes cannot recommend itself to other true Christians, as it relies too much on political interest and is contrary to the apostolic manner of conversion. Given that the apostles never used this argument to convert the pagans, it would have to be the case that one acted in a different manner in the church already established than in the church still to be established. But let us take a closer look at the princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and consider to what extent they also have power over indifferent matters and religious ceremonies. Here, however, we abstract from the pacts of the princes with their subjects, which produce a great diversity in the rights of our princes, and we will consider the matter on the basis of the general public law in Germany, which is founded in the Golden Bull,46 the decisions of the Imperial Diet, the Electoral Capitulations,47 and the Westphalian peace treaties.48 According to these principles we cannot but decide this question in the affirmative. For the right in religious matters is part of supreme authority, and therefore also of territorial overlordship [superioritas territorialis].49 For what is called majesty in the case of foreign princes, in that of the estates of the Holy Roman Empire is called territorial overlordship. This is a term which so far they have wished to use in the terminology of public law, maybe out of modesty, in order to indicate the feudal nexus through which they are tied to the emperor and the empire. And this feudal relationship certainly diminishes the supreme legal authority of the estates, so that they enjoy less than full sovereignty.50 But this territorial overlordship was not conceded to the estates in the peace treaties of Westphalia. It belonged to them long before that, and most doctors of public law trace its origin already to the era of the Ottonian emperors,51 especially as it is entirely plausible that most of the fiefs are conferred from the time of Conrad duke of Franconia, as Mr. Monzambano reasons;52 therefore also the right over religious matters belonged to the princes long before the Peace Treaty of Westphalia, even well before the Reformation. Their superstitious beliefs at that time had deprived them of the exercise of this right, but not of the right itself. Nor did the Concordats of Germany bind the princes, because these were brought about by deceit and fear, especially as even the pope himself frequently violated them. Further, it is true that the electors in the Electoral Capitulation of Charles V, article 16 approved these concordats again, because they there wanted to require the emperor to try to persuade the pope to act according to these concordats. And so they seem to have forgiven the injury inflicted on them by the pope, and to have obliged themselves by force of the renewed and repeated agreement. Nevertheless, this approval of the concordats did not add any efficacy to them. When a right is renounced erroneously as the result of deceit then this renunciation is null and void, just as when someone owes me money and I renounce the right to sue on the basis of a promised repayment [which is then not forthcoming]. For it is clear from German history how great was the superstition that blinded most of Germany in its perception of the pope. And even though in Saxony the light of the gospel had already begun to shine to some extent (for Charles V was elected in the year 1519, but Luther had begun to argue against Tetzel already in 1517) nevertheless this Reformation had not yet penetrated the minds of the electors. It is thus not surprising that this concession had been inserted into the electoral capitulations of the emperor Charles, which was however omitted subsequently. Without doubt the Protestant electors were the first to urge this, because they had sensed that the Roman pope had so far exercised his rights in Germany by force, secretly and on sufferance, and that it was high time to shake off this yoke. One might wonder how it came about that the pope exercised a greater tyranny over Germany than over all the other kingdoms of Europe. However, it can be surmised that an important reason was jurists’ success in persuading the emperor and the estates that Germany exercised supreme authority [summum imperium] over the city of Rome and the pope, and that therefore the German emperor enjoyed all the rights that Constantine the Great and the other Roman emperors had held. But this was an excuse which was not founded in any right (for Charlemagne only accepted the right of acting as the advocate [ius advocatiae] of Rome) and seemed intolerable to the pope. The pope thus never attacked any other prince more frequently with excommunication, and never irritated anyone with more frequent revolts of priests, than the German emperor. But this just by-the-by.
§11. Let us return to the argument. It is clear that according to the Peace Treaty of Westphalia article 5, §48 the Roman Catholics and the followers of the Augsburg Confession agreed that if, for example, Lutheran subjects in the territory of a Catholic prince had possessed the right to practice their religion in 1624, they should have this right in future without disturbance.53 But it is doubtful whether this convention also applies to indifferent matters or church ceremonies in such a way that a Catholic prince cannot decide something regarding indifferent matters in a Lutheran church, even if these had already been observed in 1624. I will illustrate this with a particular case. In a Lutheran church in 1624 this hymn was commonly sung: “Preserve our faith in your word O Lord, and restrain the pope’s and the Turks’ murderous ways,” etc. The question is whether the prince can command his subjects to omit the words “the pope’s murderous ways” and substitute others for them without violating the peace of Osnabrück?54 Here at first a scruple must be removed, namely that I am guilty of violating the peace of Osnabrück, as it is expressly stated in article 5, §50 “Utriusque religionis” that neither priests in preaching, nor Professors in teaching and disputing may cast doubt on the treaty, so that it might not be permissible for me to raise such a difficult question, which has not been discussed before. But I believe that in the said paragraph [of the peace of Osnabrück] there is nothing preventing us from expressing our opinion on this matter. For it only warns us not to cast doubt on the peace by discussing it, or to derive assertions contrary to the intention of the contracting parties; but it does not prohibit resolving a doubt by appealing to the mind and intention of the contracting parties and from the context itself. For the argument in Mevius, part 1, decision 67,55 that the peace treaty does not admit a doctrinal but only an authentic interpretation,56 has already been solidly refuted by the illustrious Mr. Rhez in his work on public law, book I, title 1, §§80, 81, 82.57 Here he says that just as in private law one should not resort to an authentic interpretation unless the mind of the legislator is not apparent from the words or the intention, so this is also the case in public law. Indeed, if there were no doctrinal interpretation in public law, this part of jurisprudence would not belong to jurists, because the whole office of jurists consists in the application of laws to facts through doctrinal interpretation. Having said this, it is easy to reply to the question [regarding the right of the Catholic prince to change the hymn] in the affirmative. For in all forms of law, divine and human, whatever is nowhere prohibited is permitted, and usually something is presumed to be permitted until the contrary is proved. In the above article there is nothing that could deprive the prince of this power. A Catholic prince of course is there prohibited from coercing the conscience of Lutherans, by decreeing something which is contrary to the Augsburg Confession. But the regulation of indifferent matters by the prince does not violate either the freedom of conscience or the Augsburg Confession. For things which injure conscience are no longer indifferent matters, with which our hypothesis is concerned. The question, though, whether that expression “restrain the pope’s murderous ways” is sung loudly in a public congregation or not, is an indifferent matter; because if somebody refrains from this he does not commit anything contrary to the Augsburg Confession, nor does he become a worse Christian because of this. It is not necessary to list further similar questions here, as they should be decided on the basis of the same principle.
§12. It is more contentious, though, whether a prince has the power to change those church ceremonies, such as the date of Easter, which have been determined by general councils? We intrepidly affirm this to be the case. For the councils that introduced rules on such indifferent matters received their binding force from the will of the prince. Therefore just as the prince can change other ecclesiastic regulations again and abrogate them, so he can do the same with decrees of councils. At present we do not want to discuss how much authority councils have in matters of faith, unless to say in passing that the fourth Law in the Code in the title “On the Most Exalted Trinity,” which is about the authority of councils, seems anti-Christian to us.58 But it cannot be denied that bishops assembled in council do not have the power to compel other citizens to accept their decisions without a decree of the prince. Therefore even if the prince has once approved the decrees of some council concerning indifferent matters, he can nevertheless change his will later. For by this approval the prince has not renounced his right in religious affairs, nor has he transferred it into the hands of the clerics. And so the well-known legal maxim—that nothing is more natural than for something to be dissolved in the same way that it had been bound together—does not stand in our way; since this rule is to be understood of contracts between private persons, not in those matters that pertain to the prince by virtue of his supreme territorial power [hohe Landes-Herrschaft]. Furthermore, what is even more surprising, the canonical standing of that which we read in the books of the apostles was not always acknowledged, and is not acknowledged today, because these books were believed to contain not so much an exposition of divine law, as a piece of advice appropriate to those times. This was the case when Paul warned that a deaconess should not be elected who was not yet in her sixtieth year. Justinian on the other hand permitted her to be elected if she was at least in her fortieth year, in Novels 123, c. 13.59 Similarly, although Paul enjoined that a bishop should be the husband of one wife, it is fashionable among our priests to have four or five wives.
§13. We have now seen the principles on which the right in indifferent matters is based. But already those who disagree with us attack us in hordes. Leading them are Havemann in On the Right of Bishops, title XI, §2;60 Carpzov, Consistorial Jurisprudence, book 2, definition 247;61 the Wittenberg legal reports volume 1, part 2, membrum 2, section 1;62 Meisner, Treatise on Indifferent matters, disputation 1, §§33, 34, 35;63 Schilter, Institutes of Canon Law, book 2, title 1, §8.64 By virtue of their names and authority alone, these are authors fit to terrify their opponents, and all of them deny that the prince by virtue of his supreme authority can change or abrogate church ceremonies and indifferent matters. What shall we do? We will fight, but equipped with the weapons of reason and Christianity. Therefore let us await the first blow. (1) How, these authors ask, can a power over indifferent matters belong to the prince by virtue of his supreme authority, as Christian liberty, which belongs to all Christians, is thereby violated? (2) Is it not impious and anti-Christian [they ask] to hand the power over consciences to the prince, because religion by its very nature cannot be subject to any human authority? (3) They insist that the church does not consist of the prince alone, but of the three estates, the clerical, the political, and the economic;65 and so the right to change indifferent matters is held by the entire church, not the prince alone, as he is only one member of the church. (4) Finally they appeal to the examples of the kings of Israel whom God afflicted with severe punishments because they tried to change something in the church by their own authority; that is, they refer to the examples of Gideon, Judges chapter 8; to Saul who offered a blasphemous sacrifice, 1 Samuel 15; and to Uzziah who approached the altar of the Lord to burn incense without permission, 2 Chronicles 26.66 From these they believe it is sufficiently clear that it is against the will of God if Christian princes claim the right in indifferent matters for themselves alone. And thus they say that our princes rightly abstain from its exercise, because this would smack of nothing if not of supreme tyranny, as Meisner puts it in the passage referred to above.
§14. To avoid proceeding in a sophistic fashion, we will examine each objection in turn, determining to what extent it has a solid foundation. But I am not surprised that Havemann dared to write these things, as in the said treatise he was so audacious that he did not hesitate to deprive princes of almost every right in religious affairs, leaving them only the glory of obeying the clergy. In fact he went so far as to declare it impious to leave cases concerning matrimony to the judgment of jurists, or to have them sent to faculties of law see title XIII, §4. But let us leave these matters aside and examine the first argument opposed to us, which they base on the supposed violation of Christian liberty. But I believe that Christian liberty here is only a pretext, and that this argument derives from another source. For it is widely acknowledged among us that the prince has the right to make ecclesiastic and consistorial regulations on matrimonial matters, the incomes of the clergy, visitations, consistories, the administration of alms, and similar (see Brunnemann, Ecclesiastic Law, book 1, chapter 2, §34; Schilter, op. cit., book 1, title 2, §14).67 If therefore the prince can exercise these rights without infringing on Christian liberty, why should it be violated by laws concerning other indifferent matters in the church? Unless someone wants to assert that the difference is as follows: indifferent matters (or church ceremonies) are to be observed in public congregations of Christians, the other laws outside of these. This would be absurd though. For who would imagine that Christian liberty is restricted to churches and public congregations? Place certainly cannot make any difference to Christian liberty, but wherever there are Christians, be it in the church or outside, Christian liberty accompanies them. Nor are Christians only Christians when they are in church, but outside of it, when they are occupied with other matters. And if it were the church buildings which brought about Christian liberty, which is what they pretend, the Christian citizen who wants to draw up his last will in a church, for example, would not be required to have seven witnesses.68 Meisner himself seems to have sensed this because he says in the above disputation 1, §56,69that if the church or the secular authorities promulgate legitimate laws on indifferent matters for the sake of the public good, which they by virtue of their office are entrusted with, these laws must be obeyed in every case, also for the sake of conscience. For nobody can knowingly and intentionally do what is forbidden by these, or fail to do what is commanded by them, and still have a clear conscience. Nor do the heads of the church or the commonwealth thereby assume the right to command consciences; for the internal liberty of conscience is not taken away by such laws, but the use of the external liberty is limited because of certain circumstances. But who can reconcile this with the previous utterances by Meisner?
§15.The second objection they use to attack our opinion is their belief that [in regulating indifferent matters] the prince thereby arrogates the right to command consciences, which seems a rather harsh argument to me, to put it mildly. We have already explained what conscience is above, and from this it is quite clear what rule over consciences is, namely: when a prince or someone else wants to force me to agree with something that my intellect abhors as false; for example, if a Lutheran prince wanted to force his Calvinist subjects (or vice versa) to profess the same confession as his own, and to believe in the same articles of faith as he does. For the human intellect is privileged by God to such a degree that it is not beholden to any human authority, in that the recognition of truth is the child only of those reasons which are suitable for eliciting the assent of the mind. This is especially so when the mysteries of Christian religion are concerned, which are above the comprehension of human reason, and which require a special act of divine grace in order to convince our mind. But this divine grace is incompatible with coercion. Thus I can be compelled to utter a sound without meaning, to perform some gesture, or to dissimulate the thoughts of my mind and to speak words which differ from these thoughts; but I cannot be compelled to believe. For we must believe with our whole heart Acts VIII 37.70 This divine grace will be attained, however, when the teacher sincerely and ardently desires and prays that God communicate the grace of the Holy Spirit to the listener; also when the listeners themselves are sincere, humble, and directed toward God, and desire this grace with ardent prayers. Therefore it is impossible that human coercion could produce a realization of divine truth within us, as not even those threatening and quarrelsome scholastic disputations, which seem to compel the thoughts of others, are capable of producing this realization in our mind. Poiret, On Solid Erudition, part 3, §35.71 But if only the orthodox had weighed this carefully from the time of Constantine the Great to the present; then there certainly would not have been so many sad examples of persecutions for the sake of differing articles of faith, about which the Praeses has spoken at length in his public lectures on book 1 of the Code [of Justinian]. But those who accuse princes of this crime [of coercing conscience], just because they alter indifferent matters, do them an injustice. Divine law has not set down anything concerning indifferent matters; nor do these belong to the concepts in the intellect, but to the decision of the will, which, in these external indifferent matters, is subject to the authority of the prince. Therefore, just as it cannot be said that the prince exercises authority over consciences if he prescribes to Christian citizens which formulae they must observe in contracts, last wills, and similar cases, so it cannot be said here either. Thus when learned authors distort the term authority over consciences to such a degree, seeking to cloak their stubborn resistance beneath it, there can be no excuse for such an abuse.72
§16. The third objection which they formulate, on the nature and character of the church, is no better.73 We concede that the church consists of three estates, although attention could be drawn to several matters here that we deliberately omit. But we deny that therefore anything can be concluded contrary to our opinion. The family consists of three forms of society, the conjugal, the paternal, and the domestic; similarly, the commonwealth consists of many families, hamlets, villages, towns, and so on. But who would want to argue from this that the family heads and the prince do not have the right to exercise authority over the family and the commonwealth respectively? The line of argument of the learned doctors, however, is similarly stupid. In any case, I know full well that what is suited to the commonwealth is not on that account suited to the church, since the prince is not the head of the church in the same way as he is the head of the commonwealth, as Pufendorf shows in his priceless treatise On the Relationship of Religion to the Civil State.74 But as the regulation of indifferent matters is part of the right over religious affairs undoubtedly possessed by the prince, I believe that with the following argument I have been able to dispel this objection effectively. For the right in religious affairs belongs to the prince as such, not to him as member of the church. For even if a prince were not a member of that church—if, for example, we had a Calvinist prince who was not a member of the Lutheran church—he nevertheless would have this right.75 This means, incidentally, that the authorities on public law do not seem to speak with sufficient accuracy when they ascribe a twofold persona to the Protestant princes of our empire, the one as princes, the other as bishops. See our supervisor’s Notes on Monzambano, chapter 5, §12, letter x.76 But Carpzov pesters us in definition 247, number 14—drawing on Menzer’s Exegesis of the Augsburg Confession, article 16 and Reinking, On Secular and Ecclesiastical Rule, part 1, chapter 6, number 5—that the government of the church must be neither monarchical, nor democratic, but aristocratic.77 But I do not want to oppose Carpzov to Carpzov, for since he himself declared above that the ecclesiastic, political, and economic estates within the church need to consent to a change in indifferent matters, he should not have said, on the basis of this hypothesis, that the government of the church is aristocratic. But I will rather quote the words of Pufendorf in On the Relationship of Religion to the Civil State, §32: These are absurd questions, whether the most appropriate constitution of the church is monarchical, aristocratic, or democratic. For these constitutions apply only to the political state, which is a conjunction of many human beings, who adhere to a power which exists for itself and does not depend on any other human authority. But the structure which is found in the church obviously is of a different kind.78 However, if someone asked me to what form of government does the right over religious affairs or indifferent matters belong? I reply: if the commonwealth in which the church exists is democratic, then it is democratic, and so on. For this right is part of supreme territorial authority, therefore it is exercised in the same way as the other parts of supreme territorial authority.79
§17. It is not necessary to reply to the fourth objection, because we have already shown, in §6, what is to be thought of such examples of reasoning. Nevertheless, in order that no doubt remains, we will consider this again, especially as both theologians and jurists have so far used this argument in similar cases, though its weakness is palpable. For by the very fact that God had furnished the Jewish religion and its external rites, and had commanded their observance, no mortal had the power to alter these or to add anything to them or detract anything from them. As a result, it can rightly be said that in the Jewish religion there were no indifferent matters, as everything was to be governed by express order of God. It was thus not permitted to clothe this religion, which God had established, in any other external rites, not even with the consent of the priests and the other Jews. Christ and the apostles, however, never forbade using other indifferent matters in the practice of Christian veneration. For if they had done this, not only would our princes have sinned if they wanted to introduce these, but all councils, however many there have been, and bishops assembled in these would have been guilty of a severe crime, like those priests among the Jews who wanted to introduce different rituals. We can thus see how foolish they are who pretend that Christian princes are just as worthy of punishment as the Israelite kings. If such punishment were valid, then it would apply when the prince wanted to arrogate to himself those powers which belong to ordained persons (as it is said): the right to baptize, to administer communion, and the other acts of ministry which belong to the divine ministers, from which the prince is in any case excluded. This is true to such an extent that we declare that secular authority and the priestly office cannot coincide in one person, which is a conclusion the Praeses has deduced at length in his notes on Monzambano. In any case, it is not worth the effort to discuss the other objections which exist in the writings of the learned authors, especially in the legal opinions published by the Wittenbergers,80 for they are of a similar kind. Therefore we shall progress to:
On How to Practice the Right over Indifferent Matters, and on Some Special Questions to Be Resolved on the Basis of the First Chapter
§1. In all matters concerning the rights of princes, the question whether the prince has a right to do something is not the same as that whether this is useful to him, or is a prudent course of action. In the same way, the prince very often has a just cause to wage war because of an injury he has suffered, but the condition of his state and his country do not allow him to do so at the time. It is therefore appropriate that the prince should weigh all circumstances of the fact and his means, to determine whether it is to the advantage of the commonwealth to expose itself to the danger of war, or to suffer the injury for a while and to defer the resolution of the matter to a time when it is more opportune. It is the same with our right in indifferent matters, as Grotius correctly observes in On the Right in Sacred Affairs, chapter 6, §1.84 For it can easily happen that unrest and sedition spread in a commonwealth, when the populace, which usually is superstitious, attributes a singular sanctity to external things and indifferent matters, venerates them, and therefore imagines that violence is being done to religion itself as a result of their alteration. This is especially likely if they are confirmed in this opinion by the clergy, on whose will and judgment the views of the populace usually depend. We have sufficient evidence from ecclesiastical history of the uproar caused by the removal of images from the churches under Emperor Leo Isaurus when, at the instigation of the clergy, the populace proceeded with such lack of restraint that in one place they killed workmen who were removing images of the Savior. As the emperor persevered in his plan, the pope excommunicated him and denied him the Italian tribute payments owed to him, in a rather unapostolic manner, as the Gotha Ecclesiastical History says in book 2, chapter 3, section 7, §4.85 If I am not mistaken, Hospinianus’s Discordant Concord can be consulted on the tumults which arose in Marburg for the same reason,86 not to say anything of the others, which have been stirred up by the immoderate zeal of the clergy, even the Protestant clergy. The rather untheological theological advice in Dedekennus, part 2, title 5, On Exorcism87 —where the question debated is what the pastor should do if he is commanded by the prince to omit exorcism when the parents of a child which is to be baptized desire it—provides sufficient indication of the mind of those consulted. For they do not blush to write that if the prince wants to remove such a refractory priest from his office then the entire ministry must stand by this priest; and if the prince still insists on the removal of this pastor, the ministry must nevertheless take his side, and without doubt the provincial estates will also join them, so that resistance is strengthened in order for it to become unnecessary to obey the prince. But I do not see how such advice can be given by those who profess Christianity, unless somebody wants to declare that impiety and sedition can coexist with Christianity itself. Those who have expressed the above opinion should see how to reconcile these. But, they say, if concessions are made in one point, it must be feared that this is a slippery slope toward a change of the confession itself along Calvinist lines. Brunnemann responds piously and with gravity in his On Ecclesiastical Law, book 1, chapter 2, §31. This is worldly prudence. You should act and obey in all matters that do not violate piety. All other matters are to be committed to the wisdom of divine providence, and should something be commanded that cannot be obeyed with a clear conscience, then there will be the time to follow the apostolic rule: It is appropriate to obey God more than humans. For it is wholly unworthy of a subject of a prince to say: there is a snake in the grass, that is, the prince intends something other than what he says; this comes very close to the crime of violation of majesty. For the words of the prince must be believed as much as his oath and, until something has emerged which is contrary to conscience and religious truth, one must presume all good things of him. In order to avoid this danger, we will say something about the standard by which this right is judged.
§2. In order for the prince to exercise his right in indifferent matters correctly he requires above all an understanding of religious matters so that he does not go further under the pretext of indifferent matters than the nature of Christianity permits, and does not interfere in the internal matters of religion, as they are called.88 No prudent prince can put forward an opinion in a philosophical debate if he is ignorant of this discipline. On what grounds then could he decide something concerning indifferent matters if he does not know what an indifferent matter is and which things are indifferent in theological affairs? But maybe somebody will object to us that it is morally impossible for the prince to acquire such a comprehensive knowledge of theological matters when he is overwhelmed by the burden of other affairs. For, if Mr. Conring in his work On German Courts89 has already noted that the German princes could not learn Roman law, because of the prolixity of this doctrine and the rudimentary nature of education at court (I quote the words of Conring), it is asking far too much to oblige princes to study the venerable subject of theology in depth, and to interfere in the disputes of theologians. I should like to refute this objection with the words of Gregory Nazianzus,90 which have been cited by Grotius in the said treatise, chapter 5, §9. Theology and religion, he said, are simple and unadorned and consist of divine testimonies without much artifice, which nevertheless some have perversely turned into a most difficult art. Grotius adds: For there are other matters, partly metaphysical, partly historical, partly grammatical, which are commonly debated by theologians with great controversy and with much clamor, but with which the mind of the prince need not be burdened, no more than with the subtleties of the law, although the king does need to have a complete knowledge of the first principles of law. For those matters, which, as the apostle says in 1 Timothy 1, give greater occasion for disputes than for edification, which is achieved through faith, he can leave aside with complete safety. This brilliant man hit the nail on the head, and there is no need for the purposes of our argument to add anything to this. And in this manner I think that Christian affairs are sufficiently protected against the interference of pagan princes, to whom we already above granted the right in religious matters. For if the pagan prince observes the method we have just mentioned, there is no danger of the consciences of Christians being coerced, especially if he draws on the advice of Christians and on their instruction. Even should he not want to embrace Christianity, he can nevertheless be taught easily what the Christian religion does and does not consider an indifferent matter. For although a man regenerated by the divine spirit is the most suitable judge of spiritual affairs, and all correct judgment on divine matters by a human relies on divine assistance, nevertheless there is no reason why the prince, if he draws on his common sense and natural reason, and frees his mind from prejudice just a bit, should not be able to understand easily what in Christianity is held to be an indifferent matter, and what is considered to be commanded or prohibited.
§3. Therefore it is prudent for the prince not to rely on his own judgment only, but to consult his ministers and other Christians who excel by their piety and their erudition and are endowed with a temperate mind. For one person does not see or hear everything. If this is a rule he must observe in profane and purely political matters, how much more in those matters where it is highly dangerous to err? And since the multitude is usually bewitched by religious ceremony, and tends to obey its spiritual guides rather than its princes, it is prudent to take care that the people are clearly informed in the very promulgation of the law about the right of the ruler and the nature of indifferent matters, in order that the people are not irritated by a reformation at a later point. Seneca indeed reminds us rightly, when he criticizes the preambles of laws: Law commands, it does not argue. But this can be appropriate only in purely secular laws (although our Justinian overwhelmed us with his generosity and prefaced his constitutions with their reasons and causes at great length, sometimes ad nauseam); in this matter, however, the abovementioned caution is very useful, so that the populace does not persuade itself that its religion is threatened with a reformation. Nevertheless, there is nothing more pernicious than when the prince does everything on the basis of the judgment of others; for it is clear from examples that however much princes are otherwise of an upright and mild disposition, they are led to savagery toward the innocent by people who conceal either a stupid eagerness or inhuman malice behind a mask of holiness. In other words, the prince must indeed consult others, both clergymen and politicians, but he must not acquiesce only in their judgment. For it is clear from the above, that the prince is not strictly speaking obliged to follow their advice. Those clerics who believe that their judgments on these matters are to be followed unreservedly, shamelessly render themselves suspect of striving for secular authority, from which Christ’s utterance should rightly deter them: “But you do not likewise.”91 The passages which they tend to quote for this purpose from the Old Testament are not relevant here, and have been refuted by Grotius in the said treatise chapter 6, §7, etc.
§4. But just as the welfare of his subjects is or certainly should be the supreme law of the prince,92 so he should take care of the well-being of his subjects in indifferent matters. This he does most effectively if he abolishes ceremonies which tend and dispose more toward superstition than toward edification, which the Formula of Concord itself does not consider to be properly indifferent matters in title X, and which today are widespread in Lutheran churches, as experience testifies and Brunnemann observes in his work on Ecclesiastic Law, passim. For even if the so-called indifferent matters lie somewhere between precepts and prohibitions as intermediates, nevertheless this middle position should not be understood as a single point, but with some latitude, so that it is now closer to a prohibition, now closer to a precept, roughly the way the Peripatetics explain the right mean in virtue.93 For that which is conducive to edification or which serves the purpose of Christian congregations—even if not necessarily, but by accident—is closer to the precepts of Christian religion; what, on the contrary, is an impediment to edification and worship, is closer to being prohibited, and so it is praiseworthy to introduce the former and to abrogate the latter. Here the illustrious chancellor of Jena comments elegantly in his dissertation on Reason of State, number 19, conclusion 7: Because, he says, in matters concerning external discipline and ceremonies God did not want to prescribe to us specifically what we have to do, it is here appropriate to take refuge in the general rules he has given, in order that whatever the necessity of the church requires to be taught for the sake of order and decency, is introduced accordingly. Here it is necessary to be cautious so that superstition, sorcery, empty show, corruptionof the sacraments, and suspect formulae are not introduced into the church under the cover and pretext of ceremonies.94 Therefore the prince acts correctly and prudently, if he recalls the saying of Paul Colossians 2, verses 21, 22, 23, and 1 Timothy 4, verses 3, 4,95 and takes care that Christians are not smothered by the multitude of indifferent matters; or, if they are already smothered by them, that he liberates them, and does not lend the clergy his ears, who claim that the weaker members of the congregation are scandalized and offended.96 For this is a pretext which many have used against the princes to tie their hands, to prevent them from exercising their right in indifferent matters and make them dependent on their judgment. For if we investigate the reasons for this scandal, it is certainly the fault of the clergymen that the people are imbued with such principles as lead them to be scandalized. For if they informed their congregations correctly of the nature of indifferent matters, what obstacle would there be for this scandal to cease? They should urge true piety, and nobody will then be offended. For Brunnemann in the said treatise book 1, chapter 6, part 1, §4 & following has noted that in the homilies addressed to the people, the study of piety usually is not inculcated sufficiently, and instead sermons are dressed up in fancy oratory and rhetorical figures. I leave it to others to judge whether perhaps the doctrine of indifferent matters is thus often neglected because it does not seem rewarding to priests to be able to merit the grace of God through purity of mind alone, and a scrupulously honest life.
§5. So it will also be a matter for the prince’s prudence to command the ministers of the word at the right time to inform the people frequently of the nature of indifferent matters. The most powerful Elector of Brandenburg did this most wisely in the Church Order of the Duchy of Magdeburg, title 2 at the beginning, the words of which we have already placed at the beginning of the dissertation. I do not know, though, whether these are observed diligently. However, where this admonition and the doctrine are neglected by clergymen, there I believe that the prince can command not only for the sake of prudence, but justly, that this matter is treated more diligently, so that the minds of the rude populace are purged of superstitious principles and are imbued with a concept of true piety and Christianity. There is no reason for them to oppose the prince and claim that he does not have the right to prescribe what they should preach—on the ground that sermons pertain to the internal matters of Christian religion, so that the prince acts impiously if he claims the right to regulate them. For we have already warned above, that this distinction [between internal and external religious matters] gives rise to disputes, and that all that should be considered is whether something is contrary to divine law and Christianity, or not. But this mandate of the prince is far from being contrary to Christianity, rather, it promotes it. For if the priests do not fulfill their office correctly, and conduct inane theoretical controversies rather than teaching the doctrine of Christian piety and virtues in their sermons, the prince is able to discipline them and remind them of their duty by virtue of his right in sacred matters. If he could not do this, what use would the right in religious affairs be to him? And if the prince were a mere defender and advocate of the church, the right in religious matters would be nothing but a vain name. For in truth the prince would then depend on the authority and the command of ambitious clergymen. Thus it is also a pious admonition by Brunnemann in the said treatise, book 1, chapter 6, part 1, §15, when he says that: It belongs to the office of the authorities, when they see the preachers’ office being neglected—with vices not being punished, and the true fear of God and good works not being properly encouraged—that they should remind them to properly fulfill their office. It is a most certain sign of pride to refuse to be corrected or admonished. Therefore I certainly declare that the misguided conscience of the populace must be suffered to some extent, but when there are suitable means of removing this error it is better to use these, and if the priests refuse to do so the prince can coerce them. For if they want to resist a prince who gives just commands, and do not want to teach their congregations the doctrine of indifferent matters,97 they provide enough evidence of their evil intentions. For I believe that if this matter were explained solidly in two or three sermons, the populace could easily be brought to change its mind for the better, so that they were not offended by the abrogation of useless ceremonies. If the priests themselves want to pretend that they are scandalized and say that they cannot with a clear conscience permit the prince to exercise this right, because this right to decide on indifferent matters does not belong to him, I then ask them to examine the above objections to this opinion, and to refute them; or, if they cannot refute them, to acknowledge their error. For if they do not use any better weapons to support their opinion than the authors quoted above, they have no basis on which to fight. Even if we had to admit that the scandal supposedly suffered by the populace is a fact, this it seems cannot present an obstacle to the prince. For this scandal is only taken, not given. Unless I am mistaken, the theologians themselves form the rule of the scandal taken: what is pious and honest must not and cannot be omitted because of the scandal caused. To abrogate ceremonies which are redolent of superstition is pious and honest: and good things scandalize nobody, except an evil mind. See the Catechesis of Dieterich on scandal.98 And Paul’s saying that he would never want to eat meat if a weaker brother is scandalized by it does not present an obstacle either.99 For our case and his are not comparable. To eat meat is clearly an indifferent matter, but to abrogate superstitious ceremonies is something laudable. Nowhere, however, can one read that Paul ever abstained from something which was good in itself because somebody might take offense at it. But Scripture teaches rather that when the Jews tried to force him to accept circumcision as something necessary, he refused to concede this to them, because he considered it to be something tending toward superstition. Galatians 2 verse 5. What obstacle thus is there for the prince to use his right, without paying attention to that offense which has been taken? Just as Paul did not want to gratify the Jews, the prince too is not bound to do this. Therefore it seems to me entirely probable that this pretext of an offense taken has flowed from the same source from which, as we have shown above, the abuse of the term “conscience” stems. For, if this offense taken is the real reason for the objection here, why do we not also abstain from certain ceremonies in our [Lutheran] church in order to avoid scandalizing the Calvinists? For I know several Calvinists who, because of exorcism, always refused to be godfather at the baptism of a Lutheran child. Or why did the Wittenberg theologians in the passage cited above refuse to omit exorcism for the sake of the Lutheran parents who desired it to be omitted?100 You see therefore the snake hiding in the grass and that there is something else behind this, other than the offense caused to the weaker members. And if they were to argue that the Calvinists are outside the fold of the true church, and no attention needs to be paid to their offense, I would reply that Paul also admonished his listeners not to give offense to the pagans 1 Corinthians 10 verse 32 and 33; not to mention the other responses, which can be found in the Praeses’ On the Marrige of Lutheran and Calvinist Princely Persons.101 Therefore I have reason to suspect that this doctrine smacks of the philosophy of those people in our church who say they dance out of spite for the Calvinists, which is a disgrace to them and to us.
§6. Let us now move on to specific questions, and show in certain examples how from the foundations which have so far been explained (especially in the first chapter) certain conclusions are to be drawn, which are commonly denied by the theologians of our sect. Let the first example be the Gregorian Calendar, whether a Protestant prince can accept this in his territory and celebrate church holidays according to it?102 On the basis of the above principles, we fearlessly affirm this; for whether holidays are celebrated according to the Old Calendar or the New, in either case it is equally Christian. Religion does not suffer; and the prince can do this all the more, when he rules over some territories in which the Gregorian calendar is already in use. The establishment of these holidays is thus a regalian right of the prince. Whether Easter for example is celebrated on this day or that has no effect on the veneration of God. But we are contradicted by Havemann in the work cited above, chapter XI, §4, where he tries by all means to deprive the political magistrate of this right. The prince, he says, can command that holidays are observed; but which days are holidays, when they are, and for how many days they are celebrated, this the magistrate cannot decide without taking advice from the clergy. He uses the argument based on the Council of Nicaea103 and says that at this council the day for celebrating Easter was discussed and decided upon; but this council, he writes, did not consist of princes and politicians, but of bishops. However, we have already pointed out above, that insofar as the councils take decisions on indifferent matters, they require confirmation by the prince in order to be binding on the other subjects. For bishops have no right to compel other Christians to agree with them on these indifferent matters or, if they pretend to do so, they are interfering in another person’s affairs. Then there are many doubts about the integrity of the Council of Nicaea, because it had distanced itself to an enormous extent from the manner in which the apostles conducted that holy Council of Jerusalem, so that it is not safe to appeal to the example of the Council of Nicaea. The laws which even now exist in the Code of Theodosius and of Justinian clearly show which method these bishops used in spreading the decrees of that council. Havemann insists that the New Calendar cannot be forced on any Christian because it is that of Pope Gregory, but the pope is Anti-Christ, and so if the prince wants to introduce the Gregorian calendar, he approves that which belongs to Anti-Christ. But who would not pity such an argument? In order to prove his opinion Havemann himself cites the chapter Licet, X “On feast days”104 from canon law, a book that was completed by Pope Gregory IX, who was no better than the Gregory who was the author of our calendar. Therefore in the very work that he uses to accuse the princes who introduce the Gregorian calendar of anti-Christian tendencies, he accuses himself of the same crime, and simultaneously all those Protestants who have introduced canon law in church affairs. But where does the fury of our passions not lead us? Another example is the third argument that he makes against the calendar, that in the calendar many impious people are included among the holy. But this does not even merit a refutation, and neither does his claim that according to the Gregorian calendar Easter is celebrated occasionally together with the Jews, and with the Quartadeciman heretics.105 So what? Is this impious or contrary to Christianity? The Wittenberg theologians agree with Havemann in Dedekennus, volume 1, part 6, numbers 1 & 2. But as they put forward the same arguments, we do not want to spend time refuting them.
§7. Among the indifferent matters in the church we also count the instrumental music commonly played in church, and thus we declare that this is subject to regulation by the prince. We would like to quote the words of Brunnemann, so that it becomes clear how just the cause is for the prince to regulate these. Thus he says in On Ecclesiastic Law, book 1, chapter 6, part 8, §4 that in all churches care must above all be taken that everything occurs for the edification of the church; but whatever does not contribute to the edification of the church, that is inappropriate. So, therefore, music is inappropriate, be it organ music or other instrumental music, if the human voice does not accompany it, so that the congregation knows what is being sung, and can say Amen. What does singing in Latin contribute to stimulating devotion? This music is indeed sweet to the ears, but it does not penetrate the mind. Everywhere one hears Italian concerts, Passemezzae, Villanellae,106and so on in churches, which please some people, because they delight the ears. But what is Saul doing among the prophets?107 He adds in §6: In the meantime, while the organist plays the organ, and adds variations, the members of the congregation let their eyes stray all over the place, or fall into a sweet dream, and this is the devotion of our age. So far Brunnemann. The papal jurist Duarenus makes similar comments in On Ministers of the Sacred Church book 1, chapter 14.108 He says that this sober music, closer to speech than song, causes the meaning of the words to flow more effectively into the minds of the listeners, unlike that contrived and theatrical music, which is frequent in the church at our time. And shortly after this: Nowadays this type of music is approved of everywhere, so that it is considered excellent and most necessary and is celebrated by all ministries of the church. In the meantime we do not want to interfere in the controversy, whether organs and other musical instruments are contrary to Christianity. For our purpose it is sufficient if we have only established that this music belongs to the indifferent matters, and that therefore the prince by virtue of his supreme authority can regulate it. I also believe that nobody will readily deny that in many churches there is a great abuse of this music, and that many cantors imagine that they thereby contribute a lot to the honor of God, even though their mind during the music is far from true devotion and piety, which are the true sacrifices pleasing to God. All other things are displeasing, no matter with what enormous effort they are prepared. And in this manner we can avoid the severe censure of the Wittenberg theologians in Dedekennus volume 1, book 2, part 2, section 6, number 6.
§8. Our judgment is the same on certain kinds of vestments, which ministers use, and which his Magnificenz109 Mr. Stryk in his comments on Brunnemann, ibid. §9 lists among the indifferent matters. If you consider this more closely it will become clear that these matters tend more toward the abuse than to the proper use of edification. For the usual argument that they contribute to the external splendor of the church, has little to do with Christianity, which requires the mind to detach itself from all external splendor and pomp. I will not have erred if I say that this custom was invented by the clergy, in order to acquire authority and veneration among the laity (I speak in the style of canon law), even though the papalists tend to provide other reasons for justifying these vestments, as can be read in Durandus in his Account of Divine Offices, book 3, chapter 1, Cardinal Bona, On Liturgical Matters, book 1, chapter 24.110 I think that it is more suitable and Christian to excite veneration in the minds of others in the manner of the apostles, by other means than vestments. We do indeed read about the apostles’ belts and other daily clothes, but not of the peculiar form, shape, material, and color of their clothes, by which they were distinguished from other citizens and Christians. See Voetius’ Politica Ecclesiastica Part 1, book 4, treatise 4, chapter 4.111 And it is probable that at that time the distinction between clergymen and laymen emerged and that this ritual originated at that time. But it is all the more regrettable that such clothes are included among the sacred objects even by Protestant jurists, which certainly smacks of papism or paganism. For what is Saul doing among the prophets?112 What do vestments have to do with what is sacred? And even though according to canon law and Roman law they are counted among the sacred matters, Protestants nevertheless should in all fairness abstain from this manner of speaking, and not describe any object as sacred which is not acknowledged as such in Holy Scripture. But just as Tribonian113 inserted much from pagan jurists into his Digests that was redolent of paganism, so our jurists after the Reformation retained many papalist principles in church law, so that we have in the midst of Protestantism an ecclesiastical law with papalist tendencies.
§9. By common consensus among us [Lutherans] images in churches also belong to the class of indifferent matters, although it cannot be denied that they tend more toward superstition than toward the edification of the populace. We have already pointed out above that the cause of images was defended by the Roman Catholics against the Greek emperors,114 especially because they regarded it as an extremely useful instrument for inculcating superficial rituals of piety into the rude populace. If only we did not have to utter the same complaint against our own [church]. For daily experience shows that not a few among us Lutherans are too devoted to the veneration of images, and that they are not far removed from papist superstition. Therefore it is to be wished that this precept not to venerate images were inculcated with greater care and earnestness than we usually see it done. Then minds would be more detached from these external matters and led toward the internal. And this I think is sufficient for this same precept to be contained in the Lutheran catechism by command of the Protestant prince and for this dispute over the distinction of the precepts of the Decalogue to be omitted.115 For it is not to be imputed to Luther, that he omitted this precept [from the catechism]. Because under the papacy he was accustomed to that order which Lutherans still follow today, and did not immediately see all defects of the papacy, he retained this ritual; even though he elsewhere preached and wrote with great severity against the worship of images. Therefore I do not in any way doubt that the prince can abrogate the custom of many places, according to which people habitually go up to the altar, bow, and so to speak salute the images set up there. The distinction, which the Leipzig theologians apply in Dedekennus, volume 3, page 660, between adoration and veneration, or moral and ceremonial reverence, is too subtle for the crude understanding of the populace. Therefore there is no reason why the priests should resist their abrogation, such that they are rather obliged to encourage the prince to abolish them for the sake of true piety.
§10. We have already shown above that instrumental music is something indifferent. We believe the same applies to Latin hymns, but they also seem to have more abuse in them than true usefulness. It is regrettable, said Brunnemann, in the said treatise book 1, chapter 6, part 8, §9, that the Latin tongue used in the Roman Catholic Church has been retained in sacred matters, and Mr. Stryk in his notes on the said book number 4 added after he had quoted the argument of Mengering for retaining Latin songs: It would have been better to have designated special times for such Latin songs, at which those who know Latin can attend; for in the assembled congregation itself it is more advisable to take account of the greater part of the people and to adapt the song to their understanding, than to look to the few who understand Latin. It seems that the illustrious man wanted to respond to those who, when they want to keep these songs among other things, tend to appeal to their usefulness for schoolchildren. They believe that thereby their studies and progress are not only encouraged in school, but also in church, see Meisner in his Disputation on Indifferent Matters 4, §22.116 And it certainly is astonishing, that celebrated men do not hesitate to make use of such pitiful arguments and to justify some inane rituals on that basis. Latin does not, it seems to me, deserve so much esteem that Latin songs should be used in church for the sake of learning the language, when there are far more people attending the service who do not know Latin than people who do. Another time is to be devoted to the study of Latin. Ecclesiastical congregations are instituted in order that the church pray to and praise God with one voice, and therefore it is better for this to be done in a language which is known to all. This accords with the apostle 1 Corinthians 14, verse 11, where he compares those to barbarians who speak things that are not understood by their audience, or, which is the same thing, sing such things. And so I believe that Meisner did not have sufficient reason for inveighing so vehemently against those who criticize this rite, and for then calling them by the slanderous name of crypto-Calvinists in the said disputation; as if they who wanted to abrogate these rituals immediately introduced some sort of Syncretism, and opened not only windows to Calvinism (these are the words of Meisner) but double doors, just because they do not want to accept the orthodoxy of Latin prayers. This and other even harsher opinions, which Meisner holds, reveal a very intemperate zeal, as if orthodoxy were dependent on Latin prayers, and as if everybody had to shun all doctrines of the Reformed as something diabolical, and to try, in whatever way possible, not to appear to agree with them in any respect.
§11. We will also add a few examples, which are commonly applied to the questions of baptism and communion, and we will begin with exorcism. If we had not already cleared away all opposition to the foundations of our opinion in chapter 1, and had not ascribed this right to the prince on the basis of solid principles, we would rightly abstain from controversy here and leave the matter to others who have greater powers of judgment. But as our fellow believers number exorcism among the indifferent matters, they cannot but concede to us that the prince has every right to abolish it, and I do not think that it is necessary for us to list new arguments here. For what is right in the case of one indifferent matter is right in the case of another. There is no reason for a difference here, so that it is regrettable that as a result of the abrogation of exorcism under the Elector Christian I such great unrest was stirred up in Saxony by the intemperate passion of clergymen. For when the elector wanted to use his right and abolish exorcism at the request of many Lutheran pastors, he offered the treatise of Pierius, entitled Reflection on the Abrogation of Exorcism, to the assembled Lutheran superintendents in Leipzig for them to subscribe to.117 When they refused to do so, however, the superintendents were nevertheless ordered to inform their congregations correctly about [the nature of] exorcism. They did obey this command; but when Doctors Gundermann and Salmuth on July 14, 1591, together with the assembled pastors discussed the abrogation of exorcism in the town of Zeitz, they were forced to withdraw and save themselves by flight because of the unrest, which developed as a result of the abrogation of exorcism. Nevertheless the electoral edict on the abrogation of exorcism went ahead, and it would also have been executed if the premature death of the elector had not prevented it. Then, following his death, the theological inquisitors, who abused the indulgence of the administrator Frederick William, expelled not just many theologians, but also jurists and other politicians from the academies and consistories, and deprived them of their offices and honors, which is discussed in more detail by Hospinianus in his Discordant Concord, page 260. And if what Nicolaus Blumius tells in the Funeral Sermon for the Incarcerated Nicolaus Crell is true, then the failure to complete the abrogation of exorcism was among the causes why Mr. Crell was executed on October 9, 1601.118 The historical background and an account of the execution can be found in the small book that the friends and relatives of Crell edited in 1605, which is entitled, A reply and truthful alternative report to the funeral sermon held by Nicolaus Blume at the funeral of Mr. Crell in Dresden, add the dissertation by Frederick Becmann on Exorcism, thesis 22,119 where he says several things about Crell and his trial and adds: But, in spite of that, Crell, that good man, who was beheaded, lives and will live even now after his death. We do not make this historical controversy our own, but leave it rather to the judgment of others. It is sufficient for us to know that exorcism is an indifferent matter, and that even our [Lutherans] concede that it is expressed rather harshly. Brunnemann, book 1, chapter 6,120membrum 3 §3. In addition the honorable pro-rector Samuel Stryk says: Indeed they sin, who leave nothing concerning this ceremony to the power of the prince. Thus I conclude, that this minister, who in one and the same church retains exorcism for the sake of the Lutherans, but omits it occasionally according to the mandate of the magistrate, all other things being equal, can be considered a true minister of the church of Christ, contrary to the opinion of Dedekennus volume 3, section 7, number 3 of the Wittenberg Consilia. I also conclude that the oath to observe the liturgy, which is taken at the assumption of office, presents no obstacle to doing this with a clear conscience. For an oath is not binding in iniquitous cases. In fact, the constitution of the liturgy depends on the decision of the prince, and therefore when the prince changes it he releases the pastor from the previous oath, just as his subjects are always required to observe more recent laws rather than earlier laws that have been repealed. This does not violate the oath by which they were bound to the earlier laws. It is therefore possible to see from this that some theologians at times abuse moral principles in order to conceal their pride and defend their corrupt hypotheses. This is what those people seem to me to be doing who—Dedekennus in the book referred to above, section 6, number 1, page 394—do not want to admit the Calvinists to the role of godfathers in the baptism of a Lutheran infant, under the pretext that this would be contrary to the oath by which ministers are bound to the consistorial regulation.
§12. By consensus of our theologians, one of the indifferent matters related to communion is private confession, which is common in many Lutheran churches to this day.121 For nowhere is it either prescribed or prohibited by Christ to confess one’s sins in this fashion, and so the definition of indifferent matters is applicable here too. But it will seem harsh to most people to uphold the opinion that this act too is subject to the disposition of the prince. Our above principles confirm this, however, and if the prince observes the procedure explained in chapter 2, the clergy will not be able to complain of a violation of Christian liberty, especially as this rite has already been abolished in many Lutheran churches. An alternative can be introduced for the livelihood of the ministers, instead of the confessional fee. Here we should like to add the opinion of the eminent Mr. Stryk on Brunnemann book 2, chapter 5, §6. There he says that it is certainly desirable, that this proof of gratitude is performed somewhere other than where absolution is sought; for it cannot be denied that in the very moment in which the words of absolution are pronounced by the minister of the church, the persons confessing must direct their thoughts to the coin, to have it ready, so that once absolution has been granted they can offer it to him, and so on. I could quote several examples, if what has been listed until now were not already sufficient to illustrate our principles. So I shall leave it at that. I do not doubt that there will be many to whom our principles will seem impious and contrary to orthodoxy. I myself would agree with them, if by orthodoxy they meant opinions that have been commonly accepted to date, and have been dressed up in the authority of many theologians and jurists, but which do not rest on any true principles. You have seen, dear reader, that we have everywhere fought with reasonable arguments, and have only rarely used the authority of Great Men. When we have done so, it has been in order to demonstrate to those who still adhere too much to the prejudice of authority that our viewpoint is not totally new. Further, that it is compatible with the principles which have already been put forward by others and which have been accepted by almost everyone, and that we have done nothing other than to argue against our adversaries on the basis of what is already accepted. Therefore we hope that those who do not like this will treat us in the same way, and if perhaps we have fallen into a harmful and impious error, will correct this error by peaceful conversation, and will try to return us to a sound opinion by exhorting us and teaching us. Truth indeed tolerates no coercion and allows our minds to entertain it only if it is based on true reasons.
Glory to God Alone
Most dear Mr. Brenneisen
Mr. Thomasius’s Reflections on the Preceding Disputation by Mr. Brenneisen.122I hereby send you your inaugural disputation on the Right of Protestant Princes in Indifferent Matters, which you handed to me for comments. I have read it attentively and congratulate you on an outstanding published example of the progress you have made in the recognition of the truth and the abolition of prejudices that impede the study of wisdom. You will notice that I have corrected very little, almost nothing in fact, even if I might have discussed the question in a slightly different way. But I believed that it would be better if I drew attention to those things which I wanted to point out, separately, maybe for use in your future work, rather than if some sort of incoherent and mismatched mixture of my thoughts with yours emerged. Indeed, we find nothing to be wanting in the truth of your theses, but we would wish that you had elaborated certain matters in a little more detail, both for your own sake as for that of the reader. For if you had put forward a common opinion, or one which lacked so many and weighty adversaries, there would be nothing left for me to warn you about. For I believe that you have founded your thesis and derived the conclusions which follow from it so perspicuously, that I do not know what doubt might cause anybody to disagree, if he is free from passions and from preconceived opinion. But the opinion you defend is contrary to common beliefs and is denied by many men who enjoy great authority, and by many theologians, especially those in Saxony and those who are close to us and not very favorably disposed. They will very probably use this as an opportunity to tar you and your doctrine with the brush of heterodoxy and impiety. You must therefore protect yourself in time or, rather, as this written work has shown that you are already protected and prepared, I should tell you several things to which I am obliged by our friendship, and because several eyes see more than one. I believe that you will ward off the blows of your adversaries more successfully when you develop these ideas, which will also dispel the clouds from the mind of any reader who might be prejudiced. The force of authority and of human faith in it is very strong, and it is very much to be feared that many will abuse it and cry out that your entire disputation is contrary to the symbolic books, to the Augsburg Confession, and the Formula of Concord,123 and that it breathes contempt of the clergy throughout. I wish you had contradicted these sophistic arguments a little more clearly.
2. Regarding the Formula of Concord, while you may well pay very little attention to it, since I hear that in your fatherland124 this little book has not been received—on which I heartily congratulate both your fatherland and yourself—nevertheless care needs to be taken that in future you show more distinctly, from the genuine principles of politics and jurisprudence, the secret statecraft of some among the Lutheran clergy. For by this it has been brought about that this little book has been foisted on princes and estates as if it were something absolutely necessary for salvation, even if so far it has only been the cause of disruptions of the peace, both in the church and in secular life. You may otherwise be in bad repute among the students in the vicinity, among whom we live and who are being told that the Formula of Concord is a Palladium125 of the Lutheran church (a Palladium, however, in its original meaning is a pagan idol). In order to prove this, however, you will not need a very prolix demonstration. For in his Discordant Concord Hospinianus has already proved beyond doubt that the foundations on which Hutter constructed that vast Book of Harmonious Concord126 patently contradict history and sound reason. I believe it will be possible to reduce this demonstration to a few points, as will be shown at greater length elsewhere, God willing.
3. Concerning the Augsburg Confession, however, it must be made evident that your doctrine conforms to it exactly. I see, indeed, that you have proved this already in thesis 5, chapter 1, but you did this covertly. Therefore you will not criticize me for drawing on the Augsburg Confession to show these arguments more clearly to the reader. Article 7 says that it is sufficient for the true unity of the church to agree on the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, and that it is not necessary for similar human traditions or rites and ceremonies to be established everywhere: From this you wanted to infer that these indifferent matters do not pertain to the internal power of the church, but to the care of the prince, who directs everything instituted by man in the commonwealth. In Article 15 it is said that those ecclesiastical rites are to be preserved which can be preserved without sin and are useful for upholding tranquillity and good order in the church. However, the prince can promulgate law for preserving tranquillity and order in the entire commonwealth (in which, however, the church is too). The order and tranquillity of the church cannot be exempt from this, nor can the care of this order be transferred to the clergy without an open disruption of unity, which is the soul of the commonwealth, or a diminution of majesty, as is clear from the example of the papal teachings. Finally Article 16 notes that Christians necessarily must obey their magistrates and laws, unless these command them to sin. From this it follows that, as sins are prohibited actions, but indifferent matters are indifferent actions, Christians must obey their magistrate’s laws on indifferent matters by virtue of the Augsburg Confession. From these arguments, however, it will follow automatically that all Protestant theologians and jurists who defend the opinion that the prince does not have the right to decide on indifferent matters, have diverged from the Augsburg Confession.
4. The imputation of contempt for the clergy is a common pretext, and almost obsolete as it has been misused repeatedly many times. In the meantime it will do no harm if you show that throughout the entire disputation by the term “clergymen” you do not mean pious theologians and ministers of the divine word, who teach only the gospel and live a holy life according to it—rather, you revere such ministers as being dear to God, as one should—but those people, who under the pretext of the ministry, theology, and the gospel seek power and the tyranny over consciences, and so on. At this point you will be able to show the origin in canon law of the division of all people into clergy and laity, and that this distinction was unknown in the writings of the New Testament. Further, that the canon of the Decretum 7, causa 12, quaestio 1,127 which has been excerpted from Hieronymus, shows nothing more—even to the point of being obvious—than that miserable papalist doctrine already reigned supreme at that time, and that therefore very little foundation for true doctrine or good morals is to be sought in the consensus of the first five centuries after Christ’s birth, or in this particular example.
5. You will also have to take care with the consensus of certain Lutheran theologians. Indeed you have acted prudently in founding most of your statements on the well-known testimonies of a pair of jurisconsults, who are highly esteemed and have never been suspected of heterodoxy by the Gnesio-Lutherans, that is, a father and his son-in-law.128 Meanwhile it must not be denied that you would have done better to refer to the supporting statements of certain Lutheran theologians, in order to persuade those whose minds have been bewitched by the authority of your opponents. If you had done this, certainly you would have made those young people hesitate to consider you a heretic or something similar, if they see certain theologians of our sect agree with you without diverging from Lutheranism. And in order that I may provide you with support in this matter, behold the testimony of the Helmstedt theologian Gebhard Theodor Meier in the book On the Three Initiations of Christians129§71 at the end, page 74: The ancient practice of rites does not prescribe anything for our times, because the sovereign can at one time introduce, at another, reform or abolish rites, which have not been defined by divine law, just as it seems appropriate to him for the sake of the church or the commonwealth. Here you have in three lines a synopsis of your entire disputation. And there is no reason why you should be worried about the disagreement and conflicts that took place at the time of our fathers between the Saxon and the Helmstedt theologians, and scandalized the entire church. It is already well known that the former have acknowledged the latter to be their brothers, and would not dare to criticize this testimony as an example of Syncretism.130
6. I also approve your demonstration in the first chapter that the question on the right of the prince over indifferent matters pertains to jurisprudence, thereby removing the objection which is all too frequent nowadays: What business is this of yours? It might not be inappropriate on another occasion to put forward the rule for resolving similar difficulties in a few words. Indeed, when one wants to know to which discipline a proposition or question belongs, this must be judged on the basis of the predicate, not the subject.131 So the question of the gender of Deus belongs to grammar; whether he is a substance belongs to logic; that of whether God’s sanctity is the foundation of natural law belongs to moral philosophy. So the question whether nobles are immediate estates of the empire belongs to public law; that of the declension of “nobleman” belongs to grammar, and so on. Therefore the question, whether the regulation of indifferent matters is a regalian right of the sovereign, likewise, whether it belongs to the estates of the empire, is part of jurisprudence and of politics, which is the instrument of jurisprudence.
7. You will therefore not go wrong in later editions if you add from the fundamental laws of the empire, that is, the Peace of Religion132 and the Peace of Westphalia and similar, arguments from which it can be proved superabundantly that the right over indifferent matters pertains to the estates of the empire, in order that thereby hesitant dissenters may be convinced all the more. I say, superabundantly. For it will not be strictly necessary to your aim, since in your disputation you have shown sufficiently, that there is nothing in the laws of the empire which could justifiably be opposed to your argument. If you will carefully read through articles 5 and 8 of the Peace of Münster, you will easily find the supporting arguments.
8. You have rejected as obscure the distinction between internal and external matters, which has commonly been applied in explaining the right of the prince in religious affairs. You will, however, acquire much merit concerning ecclesiastical jurisprudence if you explain this distinction in a little more detail, according to the opinion of those who use it, so that you show that once the prince has been deprived of this right over indifferent matters he is left with virtually no right in external matters. In this case if you were to examine the characteristics of the right over religious affairs, even in our sect it would be nothing other than a burden, designed to protect ecclesiastics and help them persecute dissenters and strengthen their opinions and doctrines.
9. I also approve your reference in §2, chapter 2 in support of your opinion to the authority of Gregory Nazianzus, so that it becomes apparent to the reader that your doctrine is not new but old. And there are many things in Nazianzus which are not to the taste of the adversaries. Thus the statement by which he denigrated the councils is well known. Some of our Lutherans torture themselves about this, as you will remember I have shown elsewhere, in order that this statement should not harm the pretended authority and integrity of the Nicene Council. So this week, while I was doing something else, I noticed, another elegant passage by him, which might be of use to you in further meditations. This is in oration 35, 150 “Episcopos” 592.133We use all perfect numbers: the number one through our belief in the single essence of divinity and the undivided adoration of it, the number three, however, through our belief in the hypostases,134or the persons, as some would rather have it. They who quarrel about this should stop talking ineptly about it, as if the piety which belonged to our faith consisted in names not in real things. For what do you say, who believe in three hypostases? Do you say thereby that you believe in three divine essences? I have no doubt that you would start a terrible uproar against those who believe this. For you profess the essence of these three to be one and the same. What do you say, you who speak of persons? For you pretend this one thing to be a composite, which has three faces or a wholly human form? That is not true, you will cry. He who thinks so never sees the face of God, whatever it is like. What therefore, to continue asking, will you have of your hypostases, and of your persons? Namely, that the three differ not in their natures but in their properties. Very well, and so forth. You will see whether this passage is of use to you. But this is clear, that Gregory here considers it an indifferent matter if someone denies the term “person,” as long as he acknowledges the difference between the different properties and the unity of the essence. But maybe this indifferent matter is not directly relevant to the indifferent matters that you speak about.
10. In the same paragraph you instruct the prince that he himself must learn what indifferent matters are. I should think that the prince will exercise his regalian right with no greater security than when he focuses on those things that the clergy undoubtedly considers indifferent matters. So, for example, among us it is generally taught that exorcism, auricular confession, etc. are indifferent matters. On this account, the clergy will then not be able to persuade rational and down-to-earth laymen, with any justification or probable pretext, that the prince encroaches on religious affairs. Nevertheless it should be shown to the less cautious how since the introduction of the Formula of Concord they have been deceived by the following doctrine, which is contrary to Scripture, reason, and common sense: That indifferent matters cease to be indifferent matters if a controversy arises over them. Thus Blumius says in the funeral sermon for Mr. Crell, p. 37, Exorcism is a negligible matter, but for the controversy surrounding it, and in emergency baptisms we leave it aside; but as there is such a controversy about this ceremony we cannot well leave it aside with a good conscience. He who does so is guilty of all sorts of cruelties. So Mr. Lincker, after quoting others, says in his dissertation On that which is Just concerning Communion,135chapter 4 §14, page 43, Indifferent matters do not remain indifferent if they involve scandal, or affect the confession and Christian liberty, but become necessary and have to be observed. And so frequently is this slogan repeated in the Wittenberg Consilia collected by Dedekennus that it seems a true palladium of our opponents. Once this has been taken away they are done for. Therefore the harmfulness of this doctrine must be shown, as well as the fact that it is a genuine invention to conceal unrest in the commonwealth and rebellions which have been stirred up under the pretext of piety. In this respect it is comparable therefore to the doctrine of the papalists on not keeping faith with heretics, or that of the Jesuits on mental reservations.136 For it is the same as saying we could omit them [the indifferent matters] at will. But as soon as the prince commands their omission, then the people must be persuaded that these are commanded by God, so that they need not obey the prince. Or, to put it briefly: certain indifferent matters are [supposed to be] commanded by God in order that subjects may not obey the sovereign. And yet these people write treatises about how much it is in the interest of princes to defend their doctrines with fire and sword.
11. In order to illustrate what you say more distinctly in §3, chapter 2, you could also argue a little more clearly on Theological Councils, and the great difference between them and decisions and sentences which have the force of a judgment. And this doctrine is required since, by a common mistake, the Consilia of Dedekennus and the Wittenbergers, for example, are very often cited as if they were judgments. There was once a time of jurisprudential barbarism, when in courts the quotations from the gloss enjoyed greater authority than the text of the law itself. Now we have lapsed into theological barbarism, so that in the midst of the light of the gospel, when there is a sermon on the cases of conscience, the consilia of Wittenberg, for example, are cited with greater effect than the words of the gospel. It must be shown that the Protestant princes did not want theologians to decide controversies, and that they therefore did not want theological faculties to pass sentences unless a juristic judgment had been pronounced; and that therefore they added secular advisers to the consistories, and gave them a president who was a secular political figure. It must nevertheless also be shown that especially after the time of the Formula of Concord certain clergymen tried to persuade the princes that it was part of their regalian rights to define through them the articles of faith, and that this decision would have the force of law even outside the territory. When the princes did not immediately notice the fraud, the clergymen later usurped the power of trying such things independently, and with more than papal authority, to the greatest detriment of Germany. Setting aside numerous other examples, we can take that of the remarkable unrest which had been stirred up when the Elector of Brandenburg, of most glorious memory, forbade the use of invective against other confessions in the pulpit. This is still in everybody’s recent memory. In 1655 an Ordinary gloss on the circular letter of Pope Alexander VII, which he wrote under the pretext of bringing about peace was published.137 The letter begins: We, who look around from the supreme summit of the apostolate at the entire world, that is, the matters entrusted to our care etc. The author of the gloss could not bear the phrase: matters entrusted to our care. Indeed, he says on page 16, these are entrusted to your care? How curious you are in matters which do not pertain to you! But you know, I believe, the saying of Homulus to Augustus: In another man’s house one should be blind and mute.138And: stop meddling in those matters, which are none of your business. These admonishments addressed to the pope and similar opinions could easily be applied to the unrestrained and papalizing efforts of our clergy.
12. While you rightly insist in §4, chapter 2, that one should take care rather to abrogate ceremonies than to introduce them, it would also be necessary to show that the Formula of Concord, or certainly those who make use of it, confuse these two actions when they discuss the right of the prince in indifferent matters. They often apply arguments from Scripture that could be used to cast doubt on the introduction of ceremonies, to argue against abrogation, although there is an enormous difference between the two. A similar sophism is committed, when dissenters, as is common, put forward the scandal caused to the weaker members, and the saying of Paul, on both of which you comment in §§4 & 5. Paul notably says that he wants to abstain from eating meat in order to prevent a weak member from being scandalized; not that he wants to eat meat for the sake of another who pretends to be weak. This can be easily applied to the question of who is closer to the Pauline example: someone who, let us say, omits exorcism, in order that a weak person is not scandalized; or someone who retains it, in order that another, who claims to be weak, does not take offense.
13. I believe however that there is no means more suitable to the exercise of the right in indifferent matters than that which was the occasion for your dissertation and which you point out, in §5 of chapter 2, that the populace be timely informed of the nature of indifferent matters by the ministers of the word. If only the reality always conformed to the most wise intention of the prince. Maybe it would be appropriate to subject the clergy to visitations, in order that they demonstrate their observance of this law, and to discipline those who are refractory and obstinate by using paternal admonition. In the meantime, they have no reason to complain that you have chosen to discuss this topic in your inaugural disputation. For if they themselves remain silent on this any longer, the stones must cry out in protest.
14. I have nothing to add concerning the refutation of the argument that one should not scandalize the weak brother. In any case, they here should follow the example of the Reformed. But note the malice [of our opponents]: in order that the passages of Scripture on avoiding causing offense to one’s brethren should not seem to stand in the way of their aims, they persuaded the laity that the Reformed were not brethren, a pseudopolitical clerical reason of state you should discuss in more detail on a future occasion. For even if you have already shown its insufficiency in the disputation, and have rightly insisted that even pagans must not be scandalized, yet since this reply could give occasion to further calumnies from our opponents, another reason should be explained a little more clearly (which indeed you tacitly point out by appealing to my piece on the marriage between Lutheran and Reformed princes): namely, that according to the rudiments of Christianity and its first foundations (from the discussion or indeed application of which they cannot keep us without open papal tyranny) the Christian brotherhood among the Protestants of either confession139 cannot be removed.
15. The arguments with which our opponents attack the reception of the Gregorian Calendar (which you discuss in §6, chapter 2) are such that we laymen should be ashamed that we have allowed ourselves to be blinded for such a long time by such miserable doctrines. It is a common proverb that not he who demands foolish deeds from another is to be considered a fool, but he who commits them or suffers them. It is therefore time for us to shake off our torpor. What can be more absurd than the argument that this Calendar is a thing of Anti-Christ, because the pope made it? What if the pope had written a grammar, or a work on arithmetic—would that too be a thing of Anti-Christ? What will they do about the indifferent matters that have been retained in our church, of which the popes were the authors? What will happen to Terentius, Martial, and Petronius,140 who have to a very great extent been introduced into schools by the authority of the clergy, or at least recommended to young people for their elegant Latin and their incisive observations? Why do they not consider those authors to be diabolic, though they would do so with greater justification, as all their pages are filled with devilry? Why do they prostitute the doctrine of the gospel to such an extent that entire congregations of those who want to hear the word of God defend these diabolical pagans, and so act against the evangelical admonishments of pious Christians? But regarding the dispute over the minor saints who have been inserted into the Gregorian Calendar, this is something you should later discuss further. As if the same names, the same saints were not found in both the Julian and the Gregorian Calendar, if they have been printed together; or as if the prince could not remove inappropriate names at his pleasure; or as if the issue of the reception of the Gregorian Calendar had ever been about these saints. Here too Luther’s words are relevant, who wrote on the reform of the Calendar in his Jena volumes:141One does not ask whether it is right or wrong that the Calendar is reformed and changed, but who should do it: that is, the majesties, emperors, or kings, etc. Therefore Luther also conceded this right concerning these indifferent matters to princes who held the rights of majesty. The Protestant princes have shown sufficiently that the pope does not have the authority to impose this Calendar on them, and they can without suspicion of papalism direct their attention to the political reasons in the edict of Rudolph II, dated September 15, 1583, addressed to the Augsburg Senate, which Mr. Linker—who supplies several points which are relevant here—reviews in his disputation on the Calendar held in Altdorf in 1674, chapter 4.142
16. The assertion in §8, chapter 2 will seem too paradoxical to many, namely that the vestments of ecclesiastical persons are not sacred objects. Therefore it will have to be shown that the division by Justinian of law into sacred, religious, and holy things smacks of paganism and the theology of pagans, who devoted sacred things to the upper Gods, religious things to the lower Gods, and holy things to demi-Gods. It will have to be shown that just as among Protestants religious and holy things are not matters of divine law, but of public law, or even private law, so sacred matters cannot among us be counted as matters of divine law without reflecting pagan or certainly papist superstition. And so in the New Testament there are among true Christians no properly sacred matters, for God desires the dedication of our heart: the dedication of other things is superstition. Likewise, certain comments should be made on the origins of Christian churches at the time of Constantine, that is, at the time at which Anti-Christ already occupied the hearts of Christians, which already tended toward paganism.
17. The chapter on the abrogation of images also merits further discussion. Friedrich Spanheim’s History of Images and the Restored History of Images143 will supply more material on this matter and deserves to be read by all theology students of our sect. We cannot deny that our populace is not far removed from papalist superstition in that respect, and very rarely is the genuine and innocent use of images inculcated by teachers. It is possible to provide an apt example which is well known in this duchy and in this city, where some years ago, because of a superstitious cult of an image representing the little Jesus, the prince was, for prudential reasons, compelled to abolish these superstitious ceremonies. It is evident that the papalists have omitted the precept on images in their catechism on purpose, because of their slavish veneration of them. Luther did not sense this as he was focused on other matters, for he could not take note of all defects simultaneously. Superstition grows gradually, and it must also be eradicated gradually. One man does not see everything nor does he purge everything. The disciples of Luther should follow his example, not defend his deeds and his sayings and confuse consciences.
18. On the occasion of the Latin hymns, which you discuss in §10, chapter 2, there followed a meditation by someone who interpreted the language of the dragon, which is mentioned in the Apocalypse,144 as Latin, which seems probable to me. It is a political axiom that princes must command their subjects to use the dominant language. The pope applied the same axiom to signal subjection, when he commanded all clergymen, wherever they are, to use Latin in divine services. Already at the time of Charlemagne this superstition had been introduced into Germany in order to detach universities from the jurisdiction of the prince, and all professors and students were incorporated into the clergy. For this reason as well Latin became the language of the learned, because it was the language of the clergy. Oh what miserably blind people therefore we were, who were persuaded that the prince, for example, could not accept the Gregorian Calendar because it was a thing of Anti-Christ, and did not notice that the Latin chants in our churches and the use of Latin in our schools are the true signs of Anti-Christ, which breed unrest, superstition, idolatry, and pedantry.
19. I would prefer it if you had omitted the narration of the unrest over exorcism in Saxony. I almost foresee your opponents accusing you of a crime of lèse-majesté [violation of majesty], as if you censured deeds which had been approved by the princes of the empire, or performed in their name. I know the councils of men and write this having had similar experiences. It is not necessary that I elaborate on my experiences, this is to be left to another occasion. Peucer145 experienced a similar accusation in a comparable case. Peucer had written that the Saxon elector did not know that in the Athanasian creed it was held that Christ according to his human nature was inferior to the Father, and that he turned very pale when this was shown from Athanasius. As Hutter had nothing with which to counter this quite plausible assertion, he launched an impotent attack on Peucer and accused him of the most atrocious crime of lèse-majesté. Therefore prepare yourself to provide a just explication on the abuse of the crime of lèse-majesté. Tacitus146 and Ammianus Marcellinus147 will provide you with several examples from Roman history, and Hutter in his Harmonious Concord will provide quite a few in our own modern history (examples not only of the abuse of this crime, but of the crime of lying, perjury, etc., which were imputed without reason to Hospinianus, Peucer, and others). Therefore those who cannot bear the fact that jurists speak of ecclesiastical matters will have to be told that if they do not want to leave juristic doctrines to us [lawyers] altogether, especially those concerning criminal law, they should apply them more soberly than has been done hitherto against dissenters in controversies.
20. Finally, there are also other examples relevant to the right in indifferent matters, which have been removed from the jurisdiction of the prince by the clergy, such as the oblates, as they are called, which are used in communion, the sign of the cross in consecration, the distribution of the bread, the formulae used in its distribution, and similar. See Lynker,148in the disputation quoted above On what is just concerning Communion, chapters 3 and 4. The volumes of theological consilia will provide other examples of indifferent matters which, when measured by the same norm, will allow us to reveal many similar fantasies of our opponents. In the meantime, farewell, may the Lord be with you. Reflect on this admonition of what is just and good. I wrote this on the last day of August 1695.
It is unjust to impute the crime of blasphemy to those who put forward doctrines in good faith that conflict with the doctrines of our theologians on God and Christ; for there is no crime without evil intent. So Caspar Francus and Hospinianus are unjustly accused of blasphemy by Hutter in chapter 22 at the end, page 718. What would Hutter say if someone accused him of blasphemy, because he wrote, with Selnecker,149 that the Elector Augustus [of Saxony] undertook the plan for a work of Concord not at the behest of men, or out of a human motive, but from an inspiration of the divine spirit (chapter 9, page 270)?
2. Those matters in legal procedure that are based on natural law are also to be observed by the church. But it is an injunction of natural law not to condemn an absent person without hearing him, nor to condemn men, who are not subject to our jurisdiction. By contrast, Hutter, chapter 14, pages 453 and 456, says that this would be a most inequitable situation if this injunction were included in the government of the church etc.
3. A virgin is a woman who has not admitted a man, not a woman who has a closed uterus. So it is not necessary for proving the perpetual virginity of Mary to claim that she gave birth miraculously without damaging her uterus. But since Hutter together with others believes something different, an appeal is made to the entire ancient tradition of orthodoxy,page 700, chapter 22. But our condition is miserable if we are forced to establish articles of faith as well as orthodoxy and heterodoxy in matters of natural science.
4. The crime of dishonesty is totally different from false reasoning or interpretation in argument. It is thus contrary to the principles of law that Hutter imputes the crime of dishonesty to the jurist Helphantus,150chapter 24, page 760, and to Hospinianus chapter 11, page 352 & chapter 33, page 929.
5. The crime of lèse-majesté and of the most atrocious perfidy cannot be extended without violating the principles of sound law. But Hutter does this when he accuses Peucer of these things, chapter 40, page 967, for writing that the Elector Augustus did not know some doctrine of the Athanasian symbol; and in the same chapter, page 975, [for writing] that this same elector complained about his priests, because they entangled him in perpetual doubts. But if such matters pertain to the crime of lèse-majesté, what will happen to Hutter, who accuses John the Prince Palatine of not accepting sensible admonishments chapter 33, page 930 but allowing himself to be led astray by the censures of certain Calvinist princes and theologians? Likewise he writes about Christian I, the elector of Saxony, that he was badly deceived by some of his councilors and theologians. Chapter 48, page 1233.
6. It is repugnant to the principles of natural law that the Urfehde151 forbids the accused to lay claim to a right which belongs to him in law. If therefore a prisoner were to be compelled to renounce the remedies of law in an Urfehde, I believe that such an Urfehde is void because of the fear which was inflicted on the person swearing the oath. However, the reader may judge whether Hutter justly accuses Peucer of perjury chapter 9, page 266 because of a violated Urfehde, the formula of which he provides ibid. p. 265.
7. Let us pretend that some Catholic prince had been persuaded by his clergy to take away from Lutherans their honors, dignities, and benefits because of their religion; and that when they questioned this they received this reply from some clergymen: that the adversaries suffer whatever they suffer because of their false religion. It is therefore a matter of duty not of persecution, of right not of tyranny, what has been decided for this kind of people. But what is it that these people have lost of their possessions? Those who persisted obstinately in a heretical error have been removed from ecclesiastic and academic positions. They are thrust out from public offices; they are deprived of public stipends and benefits, they, who have not done good to the magistrate, the commonwealth, and the church, either as subjects or as clergymen. But have they thereby lost anything which belongs to them? Not at all, the magistrate reclaimed public goods, that is, offices, dignities, honors, benefices, which are his property and not theirs, and does not take away anything that is the private property of anyone. What would Hutter—or the person who has most recently praised him—say to this philosophy, especially as this clergyman ended his discourse with the subject: What is to be understood by the duty of the political magistrate in reforming the church? They should apply the same comments to the philosophy of Hutter, when he defends the actions of the Lutheran clergy against the Reformed chapter 49, page 1257.
There is no space to add anything more. These matters which we have listed, however, are such that they pertain to juristic or philosophical argument. They are not part of theological questions, even if these questions have been formulated regarding the text of a theologian, as has been explained in the comments on the dissertation.
[1. ]The date is that of the public defense of the dissertation by Thomasius’s student Enno Rudolph Brenneisen from Esen in the principality of East Frisia, which had close diplomatic and military ties to Brandenburg. Brenneisen later became chancellor of East Frisia and in 1720 published a historical work on Ostfriesische Geschichte und Landesverfassung (East Frisian history and territorial constitution), which was intended as a defense of the East Frisian prince’s rights against his territorial estates. The adiaphora dissertation was written under Thomasius’s direction, if not by himself, and conforms to Thomasius’s views, as is shown by his comments at the end of the dissertation. The Latin text of 1695 includes several third-person references to Thomasius as supervisor of the dissertation (praeses). The German translation published in his Auserlesene und in Deutsch noch nie gedruckte Schriften (Selected writings, which have never before been printed in German) (Halle, 1705) replaced one of these in §4 of chapter 1 with a first-person reference, implying that Thomasius considered himself to be the author.
[2. ]Adiaphora is the plural of the Greek adiaphoron, meaning “indifferent,” for which early modern German used the term Mitteldingen (lit., middle or in-between things). The ancient Stoics had used adiaphora to refer to things they wished to treat as morally neutral, things neither good nor bad by nature. In early modern Europe, Protestant theologians used the term to refer to things that were neither forbidden nor required by Scripture, and to “external” elements of Christian worship and sacraments, which they held to be irrelevant to individual salvation. For Thomasius’s understanding of the term, see his comments in §5.
[3. ]Contrary to more traditional orthodox Lutherans, who considered Constantine the Great to be the exemplary godly prince, Thomasius argues that his rule caused the corruption of Christianity by turning it into a state religion.
[4. ]The Formula of Concord (1577) was a theological codification of Lutheranism, intended to define its differences to Calvinism and to provide Lutheran princes with an instrument for the reform of their churches.
[5. ]Roman emperor from 379 to 395, Theodosius the Great declared Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380.
[6. ]Literally, “whose country it is, his religion it is.” This stated the right of the territorial prince to impose his confession on the lands under his jurisdiction. It was a principle associated with the Augsburg Peace of Religion of 1555 in particular, though the phrase itself did not appear in the text of the treaty. Although it was conceived as a temporary measure, until religious differences had been resolved by a general council, it gave Lutheranism a degree of legal security within the Holy Roman Empire and helped to justify the right of Lutheran princes to bring the Reformation to their territories.
[7. ]This is distinct from modern sovereignty, in that superioritas territorialis is based on the accumulation of regalian rights by a territorial prince, rather than being derived from an abstract notion of state power. For Thomasius’s views on the compatibility of territorial superioritas with the “sovereignty” (in the early modern sense) of the Holy Roman Emperor, see his disputation De iniusta oppositione jurium majestaticorum superioritatis territorialis et reservatorum imperatorum (On the unjustified opposition of the rights of majesty in territorial overlordship to the rights of the emperors) (Halle, 1696).
[8. ]In return for their vote, the seven electoral princes in the empire required certain concessions, the so-called Electoral Capitulations, from the candidate for the title of Holy Roman Emperor.
[9. ]That is, as the contemporary German translation explains, “an interpretation following the rules of sound reason,” which is permitted to any jurist. It is opposed to the “authentic interpretation” (interpretatio authentica), which is the preserve of the legislator; see Johann Friedrich von Rhez, Institutiones Juris Publici Romani-Germanici (Institutes of Romano-Germanic public law) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1687), bk. I, title I, §80.
[10. ]Here the Latin text refers only to such a person being declared “an enthusiast if not something worse,” which is a pointer to the more emphatic character of the German version. In the seventeenth century, many people regarded the Society of Friends, dubbed Quakers by their enemies, as religious fanatics driven by inner revelations.
[11. ]This is an important difference between Thomasius and his friend Samuel Pufendorf, who believed natural religion required a certain measure of external worship.
[12. ]These works are Johann Tobias Major’s Disputatio Theologica de Sabbato (Theological disputation on the Sabbath) (Jena, 1647), Johann Conrad Dannhauer’s Collegium Decalogicum (Course on the Decalogue) (Strasbourg, 1638), Johann Adam Osiander’s Dissertationes de Sabbatho (Dissertations on the Sabbath) (Tübingen, 1672), and Samuel Stryk’s edition of Brunnemann’s Jus Ecclesiasticum (Ecclesiastical law) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1681).
[13. ]Pufendorf, De habitu religionis Christianae ad vitam civilem (Bremen, 1687). For a modern edition of the 1698 translation of this work, see S. Pufendorf, On the Nature and Qualification of Religion in Reference to Civil Society, trans. Jodocus Crull, ed. S. Zurbuchen (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2002).
[14. ]The clause “with whom the apostles frequently came into contact” is missing from the German text.
[15. ]The phrase “from unchastity” is missing from the German text.
[16. ]This is a reference to Acts 21:25.
[17. ]This is the Compendium Historiae Ecclesiasticae . . . in usum Gymnasii Gothani . . . deductum (Handbook of ecclesiastical history, for the use of the Gymnasium in Gotha) (Gotha, 1660). Book III, chapter III, section II is on the history of the church in the third century and up to the times of Constantine the Great. The work by Ulrich Huber is his Institutiones Historiae Civilis (Institutes of civil history) (Franeker, 1692).
[18. ]The clause “which they called devotion”: this is missing from the German translation.
[19. ]Georg Calixt (1586–1656) was a Lutheran theology professor at the University of Helmstedt. His preparedness to compromise on doctrinal strictness in seeking peace with other confessions led his orthodox colleagues to denounce him as a “syncretist.” The work referred to is a Helmstedt University disputation De Baptismo (On baptism) of 1611 that had been written under Calixt’s supervision.
[20. ]Severinus de Monzambano (pseudonym for Samuel Pufendorf), De statu imperii Germanici (On the state of the German empire) (Geneva [in fact, The Hague], 1667). In this work Pufendorf criticizes the attempts by political philosophers to fit the imperial constitution into the Aristotelian classificatory scheme, consisting of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. For a modern edition of the 1696 translation by Edmund Bohun, see S. Pufendorf, The Present State of the German Empire, ed. M. Seidler (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, 2007).
[21. ]In the Latin text Thomasius uses the Greek expression metábasis eis allò génos (literally “stepping over into another kind”). This was a term used in Logic to describe the failure to adhere to the subject of an argument. In this case it stands for the mixture of secular and theological knowledge. The term derives from Aristotle, De Caelo (On the heavens) I, 268 b.
[22. ]M. Havemann, Dissertatio Theologico-Politica De Jure Episcopali (Theological-political dissertation on episcopal law) (Hamburg, 1646).
[23. ]Samuel Pufendorf, De jure naturae et gentium (On the law of nature and nations) (Lund, 1672).
[24. ]The German has “a tailor judged musk and civet.”
[25. ]This is in book I, V of the Code of Justinian.
[26. ]That is, Scripture and works on law.
[27. ]The term used is metábasis eis allò génos (see note 21 in this chapter).
[28. ]These are Thomasius’s Institutiones Jurisprudentiae Divinae (Institutes of divine jurisprudence) (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1688). Thomasius there argues that it is legitimate to apply, for example, principles of arithmetic to sacred history.
[29. ]Benedict Carpzov, Jurisprudentia Ecclesiastica seu Consistorialis (Ecclesiastical or consistorial jurisprudence) (Leipzig, 1673). On the Formula of Concord, see note 4 in this chapter.
[30. ]Title or chapter X of the Formula of Concord deals with adiaphora. While agreeing with Thomasius’s definition that adiaphora are things neither forbidden nor commanded by God, and hence form no essential part of Christian worship, this chapter runs quite contrary to Thomasius’s viewpoint. This is especially the case where it denies that Lutherans may compromise on adiaphora in order to make peace with rival confessions, and where it denies princes the right to override the church when abrogating indifferent rites and ceremonies.
[31. ]This refers in particular to the situation in the territories of the Elector of Brandenburg, including the duchy of Magdeburg. In spite of the elector’s conversion to Calvinism in 1613, the population and nobility of Brandenburg and of the duchy of Magdeburg, acquired after the end of the Thirty Years’ War, remained largely Lutheran and, in general, very resistant to the Calvinist elector’s attempts to reform their churches.
[32. ]“Phillipists” was the term used for the followers of the Lutheran reformer Phillip Melancthon, who were criticized by the so-called Gnesio-Lutherans for corrupting Luther’s teachings. The disputes between these two factions were concentrated in the third quarter of the sixteenth century.
[33. ]Presented to Emperor Charles V in 1530, the Augsburg Confession was the earlier statement of Lutheran articles of faith. The articles to which Thomasius refers assert that Christian unity does not require agreement in ceremonies instituted by men; that the performance of such ceremonies is conditional on their not infringing peace and good order; and that Christians are obliged to obey the civil authorities insofar as this can be done without sinning. His argument is thus that in comparison with the Formula of Concord, the Augsburg Confession gives the prince and secular authorities greater freedom in dealing with religious ceremonies. Thomasius develops this argument further in §3 of his comments addressed to Brenneisen, below, p. 112.
[34. ]That is, for the oral disputation in public. The German translation here simply reads “for another occasion.”
[35. ]Caesaro-papalism was usually understood as the prince’s interference in the internal affairs of the church, although Thomasius was quite skeptical of this understanding, treating it as a device used by the clergy to block the prince’s legitimate right in such matters as the adiaphora. Papalo-caesarism refers to the subjection of church and state to the control of the clergy, which is Thomasius’s prime concern.
[36. ]This phrase was used to summarize the central principle of the Augsburg Peace of Religion (see note 6 in this chapter).
[37. ]That is, the Austrian territories of the Habsburg emperors.
[38. ]Here the king of the Israelites is commanded to observe all statutes and ordinances imposed by God in the preceding passages.
[39. ]Here Thomasius is distinguishing the prince fulfilling his duties as a prince, as opposed to his duties as a man or a Christian.
[40. ]The distinction between interna, that is, doctrinal beliefs and religious ceremonies, and externa, that is, all matters concerning the administration of the church as a human institution, was characteristic of orthodox Lutheranism. Orthodox Lutherans argued that while interna were the responsibility of the clergy, externa were that of the secular magistrate.
[41. ]Hugo Grotius, De Imperio Summarum Potestatum circa Sacra: Commentarius Posthumus (On the authority of supreme powers in sacred matters: a posthumous commentary) (Paris, 1647). E. J. Brill published a modern scholarly edition in 2001.
[42. ]Johann Friedrich von Rhez, Institutiones Juris Publici Romani-Germanici (Institutes of Romano-Germanic public law) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1687); Gottfried von Jena, Fragmenta de Ratione Status (Fragments on reason of state) (s.l., 1667), “Dissertatio Nona decima De Ratione Status” (Nineteenth dissertation on reason of state), conclusion II, p. 291. There von Jena comments that “with respect to their subjection and their status there is no difference between subjects, but, with respect to their lord, to the jurisdiction they are under, and their subjection they are and remain subjects without distinction.”
[43. ]Hermann Conring, Exercitatio Politica de Maiestatis Civilis Auctoritate et Officia circa Sacra (Political treatise on the authority and duty of majesty in sacred matters) (Helmstedt, 1645). The passage referred to is actually thesis 17.
[44. ]Johann Jakob Brunnemann, De Jure Ecclesiastico Tractatus Posthumus (Posthumous treatise on ecclesiastical law) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1681); Caspar Ziegler, De Juribus Majestatis: Exercitatio V, Quae Est De Jure circa Sacra et Religionem (On the rights of majesty: fifth treatise, which is on the right concerning sacred matters and religion) (Wittenberg, 1660).
[45. ]This is a reference to Gottfried Hector Masius, court preacher to the king of Denmark, with whom Thomasius had been involved in a dispute over the foundation of maiestas after the publication of Masius’s treatise Interesse principum circa religionem evangelicam (Interest of princes concerning evangelical religion) in 1687. Masius had argued that Lutheran religion supported the legitimate rights of rulers, while Calvinism undermined them. Thomasius’s critique appeared in his Monatsgespräche (Monthly conversations), a review journal published in Halle in 1690.
[46. ]The Golden Bull (1356) regulated the election of the Holy Roman Emperor by the seven electoral princes.
[47. ]On Electoral Capitulations, see note 8 in this chapter.
[48. ]These are the peace treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, which concluded the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 and defined the legal status of Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire.
[49. ]On superioritas territorialis, see note 7 in this chapter.
[50. ]This is the first use of the word sovereignty in the disputation, and in the German version it is printed thus—Souverainität—giving the French word a German ending and indicating Thomasius’s grasp at a synonym for his use of such terms as “supreme power,” “supreme government,” and so on.
[51. ] 919–1024.
[52. ]Monzambano (Pufendorf), De statu imperii Germanici, chap. III, sec. 3 (see note 20 in this chapter).
[53. ]Signed in 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia determined that the confessional situation of 1624—the so-called Normaljahr, or standard year—should be accepted as status quo. Therefore, even if rulers changed their confession after this date, they could not change the confession of the established church in their territories.
[54. ]One of the Westphalian peace treaties of 1648.
[55. ]David Mevius, Jurisdictio Summi Tribunalis Regii quod est Vismariae (Jurisdiction of the supreme royal tribunal at Wismar) (Stralsund, 1664), 121–22.
[56. ]On the difference between doctrinal interpretation and authentic interpretation, see note 9 in this chapter.
[57. ]See note 42 in this chapter.
[58. ]Law 4 in this chapter of Justinian’s Code asserts that general councils of the church possessed imperial legitimacy and power. Thomasius rejects this as an instance of the clerical abuse of power.
[59. ]See R. Schoell and W. Kroll (eds.), Corpus Iuris Civilis, vol. 3 (Berlin, 1954).
[60. ]M. Havemann, Dissertatio Theologico-Politica De Jure Episcopali (Theological-political dissertation on episcopal law) (Hamburg, 1646).
[61. ]Carpzov, Jurisprudentia Ecclesiastica. See note 29 in this chapter. In the passage referred to, Carpzov comments that “the prince or magistrate must not change or abolish ecclesiastical rituals, without consulting the ministers of the Word and the estates of the church assembled in a synod.”
[62. ]These appear to be the Consilia Theologica Witebergensia (Wittenberg theological opinions), a collection of writings by Martin Luther, assembled by the Wittenberg theological faculty and printed by Balthasar Christoph Wust the elder in Frankfurt am Main in 1664.
[63. ]Balthasar Meisner,Collegium Adiaphoristicum, in quo controversiae circa Adiaphora inter nos et Calvinianos agitatae, perspicue tractantur, veritasque orthodoxa defenditur (A Collegium Adiaphoristicum, in which the controversies between ourselves and the Calvinists concerning adiaphora are considered and are discussed clearly, and orthodox truth is defended) (Wittenberg, 1663).
[64. ]Johann Schilter, Institutiones Juris Canonici Ad Ecclesiae Veteris et Hodiernae Statum Accommodatae (Institutes of canon law, conformable to the condition of the ancient and present-day church) (Jena, 1681).
[65. ]This is a reference to traditional Lutheran church law and the Dreiständelehre, or the doctrine of the three estates. According to this, the church as a human institution was divided into three orders—the magistrate, the clergy, and the laity—each of which fulfilled specific functions in the regulation of the church’s affairs, and among which power was to be shared.
[66. ]Gideon, after defeating the Midianites, made a golden idol out of the spoils. Saul had offered sacrifices to God from the spoils of the war against the Amalekites but did not obey God’s command to fight against the Amalekites “until they are consumed” (1 Samuel 15:18). King Uzziah went to the temple to burn incense, although this was the prerogative of the priests, and was afflicted with leprosy as a punishment.
[67. ]Brunnemann, De Jure Ecclesiastico Tractatus posthumus; Schilter, Institutiones Juris Canonici (as above).
[68. ]These were the usual number of witnesses required for a last will, according to Roman law (see Code of Justinian, book VI, title XXIII, “De Testamentis: quemadmodum testamenta ordinantur” [On last wills: how last wills are arranged], 12).
[69. ]Balthasar Meisner, Collegium Adiaphoristicum.
[70. ]This verse is omitted in some versions of the Bible.
[71. ]Pierre Poiret, De Eruditione Solida, Superficiaria et Falsa (On solid, superficial, and false erudition), which was published in an edition by Christian Thomasius in Frankfurt in 1694.
[72. ]A reference to the resistance of the Lutheran estates in the territories of the Elector of Brandenburg to the intervention of the Calvinist elector in their ecclesiastical affairs.
[73. ]In this section Thomasius criticizes two standard doctrines of Lutheran church law, the Dreiständelehre (the three estates doctrine) and the Zweipersonenlehre (the two-persona doctrine). Each of these teaches that the prince has his rights over the church as a member of it. But Thomasius’s argument is that the prince’s right in the religious affairs of a church is independent of membership in that church.
[74. ]Samuel Pufendorf, De Habitu Religionis Christianae ad Vitam Civilem; English trans.: Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion in Reference to Civil Society (see note 13 in this chapter).
[75. ]This was the case in the territories of the Elector of Brandenburg.
[76. ]Thomasius’s comments on Pufendorf’s work on the imperial constitution were published as Scholia continua in textum Severini de Monzambano de statu Imperii Germanici (Continual comments on the text of Severinus de Monzambano’s work on the state of the German empire) (Halle, 1695).
[77. ]Thomasius is referring to Benedict Carpzov’s Jurisprudentia Ecclesiastica seu Consistorialis (see note 61 in this chapter). Carpzov drew on Balthasar Mentzer, Exegesis Augustanae Confessionis: cujus Articuli XXI breviter & succincte explicantur (Exegesis of the Augsburg Confession: the twenty-one articles of which are explained briefly and succinctly and illustrated after being subjected to the antithesis of the heterodox) (Giessen, 1613); and Theodor Reinking, De Regimine Seculari et Ecclesiastico (On secular and ecclesiastical government) (Giessen, 1619).
[78. ]Only the first sentence of the italicized quotation can be found at this point in Pufendorf’s text. The following two sentences are an interpolation. Crull’s 1698 English rendering of the original passage is broadly accurate: “Neither is it requisite to be solicitous about any particular or certain Form of Government in the Church, viz. whether the same ought to be Monarchical, Aristocratical or Democratical. For, these several forms belonging only to a Civil Government are very preposterously made use of in the behalf of the Church, which is far different from a Temporal State. And as Churches and Commonwealths are erected for different Ends: so the Offices belonging to both are altogether of a different Nature” (Pufendorf, Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, p. 68). It is not possible to say whether Brenneisen or Thomasius—or indeed a third party—is responsible for the unauthorized “statist” interpolation in the quotation. We can say, though, that the interpolated sentences are not present in this passage as it appears in Thomasius’s own edition of and commentary on Pufendorf’s text, which is faithful to the original. For the relevant passage in Thomasius’s edition, see Christian Thomasius, Vollständige Erläuterung der Kirchenrechts-Gelahrtheit (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1740), pt. I, p. 237.
[79. ]Following Pufendorf, Thomasius treats sovereignty as neutral with regard to the forms of government—monarchical, aristocratic, democratic—through which it is exercised. As a part of sovereignty, the right to supervise religious affairs is similarly independent of particular constitutional forms of government.
[80. ]See note 62 in this chapter.
[81. ]The term “scandal” (scandalum) describes an offense to fellow believers, which is a violation of Christian charity and causes others to commit a sin. This rested in particular on Matthew 18:6: “[W]hoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin [scandalizaverit], it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
[82. ]That is, scandalized, contrary to Christian charity (see previous note).
[83. ]In the 1690s Pietist reformers attempted to change confessional practice in the Lutheran church in Berlin. This was opposed by the Lutheran congregations. The changes involved the abolition of private, auricular confession and of the fee (Beichtpfennig) paid to the clergyman taking confession.
[84. ]Hugo Grotius, De Imperio Summarum Potestatum circa Sacra: Commentarius Posthumus (On the authority of supreme powers in sacred matters: a posthumous commentary) (Paris, 1647).
[85. ]Compendium Historiae Ecclesiasticae . . . in usum Gymnasii Gothani . . . deductum (Handbook of ecclesiastical history, for the use of the Gymnasium in Gotha) (Gotha, 1660). This refers to the attempts by the Roman emperor Leo III (ruled 717–41) to abolish the veneration of saints’ images. An edict in 730 ordered the destruction of these images.
[86. ]Rudolf Hospinianus, Concordia Discors, Hoc est, De Origine et Progressu Formulae Concordiae Bergensis, Liber Unus (Discordant Concord, that is, on the origin and progress of the Formula of Concord in Berg) (Zurich, 1607). The relevant passage is in chapter LVII, pp. 486–94, “On the Reformation of the Church in Upper Hessia from the Remnants of Papism.”
[87. ]This is probably Georg Dedeken, Thesauri Consiliorum et Decisionum Volumen Primum, Ecclesiastica Continens (The treasury of advice and decisions, first volume, containing ecclesiastical matters) (Jena, 1671), though the reference in that case is not quite correct. There is a section on exorcism in part II, section VII.
[88. ]The German texts adds: “For these matters, as we have said above, are not subject to his government.”
[89. ]Hermann Conring, De Iudiciis Reipublicae Germanicae (On the courts of the German commonwealth) (Helmstedt, 1647). The passage referred to is §LIX.
[90. ]Gregory Nazianzus ( 329–90): Greek theologian and defender of Nicene orthodoxy against the Arians.
[91. ]Luke 22:26.
[92. ]The Latin text here alludes to Cicero’s dictum that “salus populi suprema est lex” (the welfare of the people should be the supreme law), in his De Legibus (On laws), III.iii.8.
[93. ]See, for example, Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (London: Oxford University Press, 1925), bk. 2, 2.
[94. ]Gottfried von Jena, Fragmenta de Ratione Status (s.l., 1667), “Dissertatio Nona decima De Ratione Status.” See note 42 in this chapter.
[95. ]In the first of these passages Paul refers to unnecessary human regulations, which “are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh” (v. 23). The other, by Timothy, is a reference to prohibitions of marriage and to dietary restrictions, which are irrelevant to piety.
[96. ]“Scandal,” which violated Christian charity, was an important argument for retaining indifferent rituals, although they were not considered essential for salvation (see note 85 in this chapter). See, for example, the Formula Concordiae, chap. X, “De ceremoniis ecclesiasticis quas vulgo adiaphora seu res medias et indifferentes vocantur” (On the ecclesiastical ceremonies which are vulgarly called adiaphora or middle-things and indifferent matters), in Libri Symbolici, ed. Franke.
[97. ]The passage “and do not want to teach their congregations the doctrine of indifferent matters” is not in the German text.
[98. ]Conrad Dietericus, Institutiones Catecheticae, depromptae e B. Lutheri Catechesi & variis, recenter etiam B. Dn. Christiani Chemnitii Notis Illustratae. Editio novissima (Institutes of the Catechism, taken from the blessed Luther’s catechism and illustrated with various notes, recently also including those of Mr. Christian Chemnitz. The newest edition) (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig, 1685), p. 555, where the distinction is drawn between a scandalum datum (an offense caused by false doctrine or hostile statement) and a scandalum acceptum (an offense caused to impious people and hypocrites by true doctrine or something honest and necessary).
[99. ]1 Corinthians 8:13.
[100. ]Georg Dedeken, Thesauri Consiliorum et Decisionum Volumen Primum (see note 87, earlier).
[101. ]Christian Thomasius, Rechtmaeßige Eroerterung Der Eheund Gewissens-Frage Ob zwey Fuerstliche Personen in Roemischen Reich deren eine der Lutherischen die andere der Reformirten Religion zugethan ist einander mit guten Gewissen heyrathen koennen? (Rightful discussion of the question, which concerns marriage and conscience, whether two princely persons in the Holy Roman Empire, one of whom is Lutheran, while the other is Calvinist, can marry with a good conscience?) (Halle, 1689). In this treatise Thomasius defends the marriage of the Lutheran Duke Maurice William of Sachsen-Zeitz with Maria Amalia, the Calvinist daughter of the Elector Frederick William I of Brandenburg, who ruled from 1640 to 1688.
[102. ]The Gregorian Calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII, who proclaimed it in 1582, and now generally accepted in the Western world, was a modification of the earlier Julian Calendar and was designed to align the celebration of Easter with the time agreed to at the Council of Nicaea in 325. It required the deletion of ten days from the solar calendar. Non-Catholic countries initially refused to adopt what they considered to be a Catholic invention, only gradually doing so during the course of the eighteenth century.
[103. ]The Council of Nicaea ( 325) led to the condemnation of the Arian heresy, whose representatives had argued that God and Christ, his son, were not of the same essence or substance (homousios).
[104. ]See the Corpus Iuris Canonici, Decreti Prima Pars, book II, title IX, chap. 3.
[105. ]The Quartodecimans celebrated Easter on the same day as the Jewish Passover, whatever the day of the week, rather than on the following Sunday.
[106. ]Passamezzo was an Italian dance popular from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century. Villanella was a term for popular songs that originated in Naples in the same period.
[107. ]That is, Saul, king of Israel, was not one of the Old Testament prophets, just as Italian music is no part of devotion.
[108. ]Franciscus Duarenus, De Sacrae Ecclesiae, Ministeriis ac Beneficiis (On the ministers and benefices of the sacred church) (Paris, 1551). This was republished in several editions in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
[109. ]This is the form of address for Samuel Stryk as pro-rector of the university in Halle.
[110. ]Gulielmus (William) Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum (Account of divine offices) (Lyon, 1592); Johannes Bona, Rerum Liturgicarum Libri Duo (Two books on liturgical matters) (Rome, 1671).
[111. ]Gisbert Voetius, Politica Ecclesiastica, Pars Prima, Libri Duo Posteriores (Ecclesiastical politics, part one, the two latter books) (Amsterdam, 1666).
[112. ]See note 107 in this chapter.
[113. ]Tribonian (ca. 475–545) was the Roman jurist who directed the compilation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis at the behest of the emperor Justinian.
[114. ]See note 85 in this chapter.
[115. ]This refers to the distinction between the first and the second tables of the Decalogue, that is, between the laws concerning duties toward God and those concerning duties toward fellow humans.
[116. ]Balthasar Meisner, Collegium Adiaphoristicum, in quo controversiae circa Adiaphora inter nos et Calvinianos agitatae, perspicue tractantur, veritasque orthodoxa defenditur (A Collegium Adiaphoristicum, in which the controversies between ourselves and the Calvinists concerning adiaphora are considered and are discussed clearly, and orthodox truth is defended) (Wittenberg, 1663).
[117. ]Urban Pierius (1546–1616) had defended the Saxon elector’s chancellor Nicolaus Crell, who was executed as a crypto-Calvinist in 1601. It has not been possible to find the full reference for Pierius’s Ein Bedencken von Abschaffung des Exorcismi (A reflection on the abrogation of exorcism), but this author produced a number of treatises directed at traditional Lutheranism.
[118. ]Nicolaus Blume’s funeral sermon on Crell, the Leichpredigt uber den Custodierten D. Nicolaum Krell, welcher den 9. Octobris, wegen seiner verbrechung, auff der Römischen Kayserlichen Maiestat Endurtheil, öffentlich zu Dreßden enthauptet worden (Funeral sermon on the captive Mr. Nicolaus Krell, who was publicly decapitated in Dresden on October 9 for his crime, following the final verdict by the Holy Roman Emperor) was published in numerous locations in 1601 and 1602.
[119. ]Antwort und warhafftiger Gegenbericht auff die Leichpredigt, welche Nicolais Blum, Pfarherr zu Dona, bey der Begrebnuß Herrn Doctor Nicolai Crellens . . . am 10. Octob. Anno 1601 zu Dreßden sol gethan haben (Reply and truthful account, opposed to the funeral sermon, which Nicolaus Blum, pastor in Dona, is said to have held at the funeral of Dr. Nicolaus Crell on October 10, 1601, in Dresden) (s.l., 1605). Friedrich Beckmann, Dissertatio de Exorcismo (Dissertation on exorcism) (Frankfurt an der Oder, 1689).
[120. ]The German translation refers to chapter 5.
[121. ]See note 83 in this chapter.
[123. ]The symbolic books contained documents central to Lutheran faith, such as the Augsburg Confession and the Formula of Concord.
[124. ]East Frisia had a Calvinist population and a Lutheran prince, Christian Eberhard (ruled 1690–1708), with strong Pietist tendencies. It is therefore not surprising that the orthodox Formula of Concord was not formally accepted there.
[125. ]The German text adds the explanation “a guardian angel” to the term “Palladium.”
[126. ]Leonhard Hutter, Concordia Concors. De Origine et Progressu Formulae Concordiae Ecclesiarum Confessionis Augustanae (Harmonious Concord. On the origin and progress of the Formula of Concord in the churches of the Augsburg Confession) (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1690).
[127. ]Corpus Iuris Canonici, Decreti Secunda Pars, causa XI, quaestio I, c. vii.
[128. ]This presumably refers to Johann Jakob Brunnemann and his son-in-law Samuel Stryk, who edited Brunnemann’s De Jure Ecclesiastico Tractatus.
[129. ]Gebhard Theodor Meier, Liber Tria Novellorum Nascentis Ecclesiae Christianorum Initiamenta Baptismum, Catechesin et Manuum Impositionem continens (Three books of novels of the early church, containing the initiation of Christians in baptism, catechism, and the laying-on of hands) (Helmstedt, 1690).
[130. ]“Syncretism” implied the sacrifice of doctrinal truth to pragmatic compromise. See note 19 in this chapter.
[131. ]The German text adds the explanation: “That is, one should not examine the thing which is being discussed, but see what is being predicated of it.”
[132. ]That is, the Augsburg Peace of Religion of 1555.
[133. ]Gregory Nazianzus, Operum Gregorii Nazianzeni tomi tres (The works of Gregory Nazianzus, in three volumes) (Basel, 1571).
[134. ]The concept of hypostasis, which means “foundation” or “essence,” was part of the doctrine of the Trinity. The question, whether Christ’s hypostasis was the same as, or separate from and subordinate to that of God the Father, divided Arian heretics, who denied the divine essence of Christ, from the orthodox church in late antiquity. Arianism was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (see note 103 in this chapter).
[135. ]Nicolaus Christoph Lynker, De eo quod circa Sacram Coenam justum est (On that which is just concerning communion), 2nd ed. (Leipzig, 1690).
[136. ]The German text adds: “When they swear an oath and include an unspoken reservation.” The idea of mental reservations was part of casuistry and justified the use of misleading or equivocal expressions.
[137. ]Anon. [Hermann Conring], Glossa ordinaria ad litteras circulares Alexandri Papae septimi. Quas praetextu pacis procurandae inter catholicos principes ad patriarchas, archiepiscopos, episcopos, cleros, . . . scripsit (The ordinary gloss on the circular letter of Pope Alexander VII, which he wrote to patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, and clergymen, under the pretext of bringing about peace among the Catholic princes) (s.l., 1655).
[138. ]This is presumably a reference to the comedy Homulus by Petrus Dorlandus (Pieter Dorland van Diest, 1454–1507), which was published in translation and with additions in Bremen in 1648.
[139. ]That is, Calvinist and Lutheran.
[140. ]These are the comic dramatist Publius Terentius Afer (ca. 195–159 ), the poet and epigrammatist Marcus Valerius Martialis (ca. 40–140 and the satirical writer Petronius Arbiter (first century ).
[141. ]Martin Luther, Omnia opera Reverendi Patris D. M. L. quae vir Dei ab Anno XVII. usque ad Anni vicesimi aliquam partem, scripsit & edidit, quorum Catalogum in fine Tomi invenies (Complete works of the reverend father Martin Luther, which this man of God wrote and edited from the year 1517 to part of the year 1520, and of which you will find a catalogue at the end of the volume), 4 vols. (Jena, 1556–58).
[142. ]Heinrich Linck (praeses) and Christian Bock (respondens), De Calendario (On the calendar) (Altdorf, 1674).
[143. ]Friedrich Spanheim, Historia imaginum restituta (The restored history of religious images) (Leiden, 1686).
[144. ]“And the beast [the dragon] was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation . . .” (Apocalypse 13:5–7).
[145. ]This is probably Kaspar Peucer (1525–1602), a leading Philippist humanist and theologian, who became personal physician of the Saxon elector in 1570. He was imprisoned by his Gnesio-Lutheran opponents but was released in 1586 and entered the services of the Prince of Anhalt in Dessau.
[146. ]Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 55–120) was known for his negative portrayals of several of the Roman emperors.
[147. ]Ammianus Marcellinus (ca. 330–90) wrote a history of the Roman Empire from the death of Domitian ( 98).
[148. ]See note 135 in this chapter.
[149. ]Nikolaus Selnecker and Leonhard Hutter, Acta Formulae Concordiae (Acts of the Formula of Concord) (Frankfurt am Main, 1707).
[150. ]This possibly refers to the late-fifteenth-century humanist jurist Valentin Helfant, who came from Alsace and trained in Heidelberg.
[151. ]An Urfehde (Urpheda in Latin) was an oath by a prisoner about to be released, in which he swore not to take revenge for his imprisonment.
As already mentioned, it was normal in early modern universities for doctoral candidates to simply re-present the work of their supervisors in order to graduate. Thomasius’s attribution of authorship to Brenneisen and his corrective comments are thus part of the graduation ritual and did not prevent him from later publishing the disputation under his own signature.