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Having not as yet* publicly adopted a , Communion, (Koinonia,) and perform printed compendium of essential doctrines the rites of marriage, when called on, and to which every one, it would be expected satisfied that no valid objections can be to subscribe-appealing as they profess to made as to the parties about entering into do, to the Sacred oracles as their only this important relation. guide in matters of Faith and probity- The duty of Deacons, or Armon.Die. their distinctive doctrines cannot be pre- ner, is to take care of the secular affairs sented in this brief article. They believe, of the church; keep an oversight of the that their system of church government is indigent members, widows, and orphans, taught in the Bible, and sanctioned by the provide them with such things as they usages of the apostles and primitive Chris- severally need, from the common charity tians.
fund of the church. The River Brethren recognize three As a body, like the Mennonites, Friends, orders of clergy: Bishops, Elders, and German Brethren, and several other de. Deacons. 1 Tim. iii. 1, 2; Acts xx. 28; nominations, they are opposed to war in 1 Tim. v. 17; 1 Pet. v. 1; Phil. i. 1; 1 all its features, as being at variance with Tim. ii. 8, 12, 13. Their ministers are the peace-breathing precepts of the Sachosen by votes; and in some instances, viour, contrary to the teachings of the when the votes for the several candidates apostles, and incompatable with the pracare equally divided, they decide by casting tise of primitive Christians. In support lots. For this practice they refer to the of their views on this subject, they cite Scriptures—Prov. xvi. 33, xviii. 18; Esth. the following Scriptures : iii. 7; Acts i. 26. None of their clergy “I say unto you, that ye resist not receives a stipulated salary, or any pecu. evil.” niary remuneration, for services rendered “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, in official capacity. In some instances, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate where the circumstances of the minister thine enemy : But I say unto you love require it, the expenses incident in travel- your enemies, bless them that curse you, ing, while visiting congregations and mem- do good to them that hate you.”—Matt. bers, are borne by the congregations, but | v. 39., &c. usually raised by voluntary contributions. “ Blessed are the peace-makers : for
Bishops, or as they are sometimes they shall be called the children of God.” called in their vernacular tongue, Volle.
9. Diener, have the general supervision of “Have peace one with another.”—Mark congregations within certain geographical ix. 50. “See that none render evil for limits, which they visit at least once a year. evil to any man.”—1 Thess. v. 15. “God They labor in word and doctrine: attend hath called us to peace.”—1 Cor. vii. 15. at their Agapea, or Feasts of Charity, “ Follow after love, patience, meek. (Jude xii.) and their Koinonia, or Com- ness.”—“Be gentle, showing all meek. munion. 1 Cor. x. 16. Conduct the elec- ness unto all men.”—“Live in peace.” tion of elders and deacons-perform all “Let all bitterness and wrath, and ministerial acts, baptize, ordain, and are anger and clamor, and evil speaking, be present at the excommunication of church put away from you, with all malice." officers. In cases of emergency, and in “Avenge not yourselves.”_" If thine the absence of a Bishop, these duties de enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, volve upon Elders. Bishops and Elders, give him drink.”—“Recompense to no or Mit-Helfer, preach, baptize, minister man evil for evil.”—“Overcome evil with the Lord's Supper, (Kuriakon Deipnon,) good.”
They have, in support of their views, * Rising thirty years ago, a Compendium of examples from history. doctrine had been drawn up by some of the “ Maximilian, as it is related in the ministers, and proposed for adoption; but it Acts of Ruinart, was brought before the was rejected by a majority of the meeting at tribunal to be enrolled as a soldier. On which it had been proposed. Copies, in MSS., of this Compendium, it seems, are extant the proconsul's asking his name, Maxi. among some of the ministers.
milian replied, “I am a Christian and
cannot fight.” It was, however, ordered the followers of peace used none of the that he should be enrolled, but he refused implements of war.” Lactantius, another to serve, still alleging that he was a early Christian, says expressly, “ It can Christian. He was immediately told never be lawful for a righteous man to go that there was no alternative between to war.” About the end of the second bearing arms and being put to death. century, Celsus, one of the opponents of But his fidelity was not to be shaken :- Christianity, charged the Christians with “I cannot fight,” said he, “ if I die.” He refusing to bear arms even in case of continued steadfast to his principles, and necessity. Origen, the defender of the was consigned to the executioner. Christians, does not think of denying the
“ The primitive Christians not only re- fact; he admits the refusal, and justifies fused to be enlisted in the army, but when it, because war was unlawful. Even any embraced Christianity while already after Christianity had spread over almost enlisted, they abandoned the profession, the whole of the known world, Tertullian, at whatever cost. Marcellus was a cen- in speaking of a part of the Roman turion in the legion called Trajana. armies, including more than one-third of While holding this commission, he be the standing legions of Rome, distinctly came a Christian ; and believing, in com- informs us that “not a Christian could be mon with his fellow Christians, that war found among them.” was no longer permitted to him, he threw During the first two centuries, not a down his belt at the head of the legion, Christian soldier is found upon record. declaring that he had become a Christian, Not till the third century, when Chris. and that he would serve no longer. He tianity became partially corrupted, are was committed to prison; but he was still Christian soldiers found."* faithful to Christianity. “It is not law. The church ordinances among the ful,” said he, "for a Christian to bear River Brethren, are Baptism, Feet-wash. arms for any earthly consideration;" and ing, the Lord's Supper, and the Commuhe was in consequence put to death. Al- nion. They reject infant baptism; bapmost immediately afterward, Cassian, tizing none but believing adults. Baptism who was notary to the same legion, gave they perform by trine-immersion, differing up his office. He steadfastly maintained in this respect, from some other Baptists, the sentiments of Marcellus, and like him who dip, or immerse the subject, once. was consigned to the executioner. Martin, Feet-washing, they confess to be an of whom so much is said by Sulpicius ordinance of Christ, which he himself ad. Severus, was bred to the profession of ministered to his disciples, and recomarms, which, on his acceptance of Chris- mended by his example, to the practice tianity, he abandoned. To Julian the of believers, in these words : "If I then, Apostate, the only reason that we find he your Lord and Master, have washed gave for his conduct was this :—“I am a your feet, ye also ought to wash one Christian, and therefore I cannot fight." another's feet; for I have given you an
“ These were not the sentiments, and example, that ye should do as I have this was not the conduct, of insulated done to you.”—John xüi. 14, 15. individuals who might be actuated by in- The Lord's Supper— Kuriakon Deipdividual opinion, or by their private inter- non, or Agape, is a meal or Feast, held pretations of the duties of Christianity. by them previously to the Koinonia, i. e., Their principles were the principles of the Communion. The Agapa, or Feasts of body. They were recognized and de- Charity, they maintain were practised fended by the Christian writers their con- among the first Christians, with a view of temporaries. Justin Martyr and Tatian cultivating mutual affection and friendly talk of soldiers and Christians as distinct intercourse among the participants.f characters; and Tatian says that the Christians declined even military com
• Dymond. mands. Clemens of Alexandria calls his
f It is customary among the River Brethren to
invite members of good standing of other deChristian contemporaries the “ followers nominations, to participate with them on this of peace,” and expressly tells us “ that occasion.
"They maintain that this custom is derived from the fact that the Saviour instituted the Communion, after the Supper, or the feast in which he had been engaged with his disciples, and that thence the early Christians derived the custom of observing such a festival, or supper, before the communion."
After supper, and immediately preceding Communion, they wash each others feet, according to the words and example of Christ.-John xii. 14, 15.
The Communion - Koinonia,* they view as an ordinance instituted by Christ in remembrance of himself, which all baptized believing persons should commemorate till the coming of Christ, in remembrance, set forth by broken bread, and poured out wine, of the sufferings and death of Christ.-Matt. xxvii. 25; Luke xx. 19; 1 Cor. xi. 23, 24, 25.
Annual Conferences are held in the Spring, at Easton, in Pennsylvania-a month or two later in Canada, at which Bishops, Elders, Deacons, and Lay-members attend, and take part in the transaction of the ecclesiastical affairs of the Church. All their meetings for the transaction of church business, as well as for worship, except in a few places, are held in dwelling houses; and, if the season
The Lord's Supper, as generally understood by Theologians, is known by several scriptural names, as found in the original: Kuriakon deipnou, 1 Cor. xi. 20; Trapeza Kuriou, 1 Cor. x. 21; Koinonia, rendered Communion, 1 Cor. x. 16.
The ecclesiastical names of this sacrament are: Eulogin Eucharistia, as used by Ignatius, Justin the Martyr, and Tertullian. Theodoret calls it Leitourgian. It is also called Sunaxis agia a collection of persons; hence a holy collection for celebrating the Lord's Supper; and finally the Lord's Supper itself. Musterion, thusia, prosphora, &c., were applied to it. Knapp's Christian Theol., Sec. CXLIII, p. 437, London Ed. B. Haug's Allerthuemer der Christen, p. 428., Stuttgart Ed., 1785.
admit, in barns, fitted up with appropriate seats for the occasion.
Their ministers officiate usually in the German language; though a few of them preach in either language, if required. Several of them preach exclusively in English. Their ministry, in the parlance of the day, is by no means an educated ministry-still, they are devoted, laborious and useful men-apparently, given much to self-denial. Their habits, of both ministers and lay-members, are simple and unostentatious. It is customary among them to wear their beards unshorn.
The writer cannot conclude this brief article without here noticing, what struck him, in the intercourse with this people, as a distinctive peculiarity of theirs from many other denominations. They are simple, plain and unassuming in their deportment; zealous in maintaining, as all should, what they believe to be truth, they still manifest an unusual degree of kindness and Christian forbearance towards those who differ very essentially from them in matters of faith. They reduce to practice, at least in respect to diversity of sentiment on minor points of religion, towards others, what the doctrines of Christ enjoin upon all his disciples
-forbearance; for all have, if we are in the right, a claim upon our compassion. They avoid, what appears to have been forgotten by many, harshness and denunciation towards fellow Christians-for harshness, instead of closing the breach occasioned by diversity of religious sentiment, widens it. It has been well said"Amidst the din of controversy, and the jarrings of adverse parties, the opinions of the head are often substituted for the virtues of the heart, and thus is practical religion neglected." "May all cherish in their minds a spirit of moderation and love towards their fellow Christians.
BY ISAAC SCHULTZ, BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA.
SCHWENKFELDERS are a denomination He differed from Luther and other of Christians, and are so called after friends of the Reformation, in three points. Casper Schwenkfeld von Ossing, a Sile. The first of these points related to the docsian knight, and counsellor to the Duke of trines concerning the Eucharist. SchwenkLignitz. He was born (seven years after feld, inverted these words: “Touso cori to the Saxon Reformer, Martin Luther, first owpa pov” (Matt. xxi. 26,) “ This is my beheld the light, in Eisleben) in Lower body," and insisted on their being thus Silesia, A. D. 1490, in the principality of understood : “My body is this," that is, Lignitz. He studied several years at Co-such as is this bread which is broken and logne and other universities; he was well consumed; a true and real food, which read in the Latin and Greek classics, as nourishes, satisfies, and delights the soul. well as in the Fathers. He was a man of “ My blood is this," i. e., such in its effects eminent learning. After finishing his uni. as the wine, which strengthens and reversity course, he was taken into service freshes the heart. The second point on by the Duke of Munsterberg and Brieg, which he differed from Luther, was in his until he was disabled by bodily infirmities hypothesis relating to the efficacy of the from attending to the business of the court. divine word. He denied, for example, He then applied himself to the study of that the external word, which is comtheology, About this time Luther com- mitted to writing in the scriptures, was menced the Reformation in Germany, endowed with the power of healing, illuwhich attracted Schwenkfeld's whole at minating, and renewing the mind; and he tention. Every circumstance in his con ascribed this power to the internal word, duct and appearance was adapted to give which, according to his opinion, was him credit and influence. His morals were Christ himself. His doctrine concerning pure, and his life in all respects exem- the human nature of Christ, formed the plary. His exhortations in favor of true third subject of debate between him and and solid piety were warm and persuasive, the Lutherans. He would not allow Christ's and his principal zeal was employed in human nature, in its exalted state, to be promoting piety among the people; he called a creature, or a created substance, thus acquired the friendship and esteem as such®denomination appeared to him in. of many learned and pious men, both in finitely below his majestic dignity, united the Lutheran and Helvetic churches ; as it is, in that glorious state, with the among these were Luther, Melancthon, divine essence. &c., whom he held in high esteem, but On the first point of difference, Schwenkwas decided in his opinion that they still feld wrote Luther twelve questions, con. held several relics of Popery in their doc- cerning the impanation of the body of trines.
Christ. These Luther answered laconi.
cally, but "in his usual rough style," told Schwenkfeld he should not irritate the Church of Christ; that the blood of those he should seduce would fall upon his head. Notwithstanding this, he still ex1. postulated with Luther, and desired a candid examination of his arguments, which so irritated Luther that he wrote a maledictory letter to Schwenkfeld.
Schwenkfeld was an indefatigable writer; he produced some ninety treatises and pamphlets, in German and Latin, on religious subjects, most of which were printed, and are yet extant, though whole editions were confiscated and destroyed. He had an extensive correspondence all over the empire, with persons of every rank and description. The principal part of his letters was printed, and three large folio volumes thereof are still left. In his writings, he displayed a penetrating discernment and good judgment, with a true Christian moderation. He often declared, in his writings, that it was by no means his object to form a separate church, and expressed an ardent desire to be serviceable to all Christians, of whatever denomination; but his freedom in giving admonition to those whom he thought erroneous in doctrine, brought on him the enmity, not of Papists only, but of some Protestants. His writings were prohibited to be printed, and such as had been printed were either confiscated or destroyed; and he was obliged to wander from place to place, under various turns of fortune, to escape danger, and to flee from his persecutors, till death put an end to all his trials upon earth; he died in the city of Ulm, 1562, in the 72d year of his age. His learning and piety are acknowledged by all; and even his most bitter antagonists award him this praise.
After his death many, on having read and heard his views, and having embraced them, were known and called Schwenkfelders, and persecuted nearly as much as had been the deceased Schwenkfelder
Luther, in his reply, said: "Kurtzum, entweder ihr, oder wir, mussen des Teufels leibeigen seyn, weil wir uns beyderseits Gottes Worts ruhmen," i. e. " In short, either you or
we, must be in the bond-service of the devil, because we, on both sides, appeal to God's
himself. The greatest number of them were in Silesia, particularly in the principalities of Lignitz and Tour. The estab lished clergy there, being Lutherans, resorted to various devices, and used every intrigue, to oppose them; in particular, if they assembled for religious worship, they were thrown into prisons and dungeons, where many of them perished. Such was often their unhappy fate. This was especially their lot in 1590, in 1650, and at a later period.
In 1719, the Jesuits thought the conversion of the Schwenkfelders an object worthy of attention. They sent missionaries to Silesia, who preached to that people the faith of the emperor. They produced imperial edicts, that all parents should attend public worship of the missionaries, and bring their children to be instructed in the holy Catholic faith, under severe penalties. The Schwenk felders sent deputies to Vienna to solicit for toleration and indulgence; and though the emperor apparently received them with kindness and condescension: yet the Jesuits had the dexterous address to procure another imperial edict, ordering that such parents as would not bring every one of their children to the missionaries for instruction, should at last be chained to the wheel-barrow, and put to hard labor on the public works, and their children should, by force, be brought to the missionaries. Upon this, many families fled, in the night, into Lusatia, and other parts of Saxony, in 1725, sought shelter under the protection of the Senate of Gorlitz, and also of Count Zinzendorf-leaving behind them their effects real and personal, (the roads being beset, in day time, to stop all emigrants.) They dwelt unmolested in their "late sought shelter" about eight years; when, this protection being withdrawn, they resolved to seek a permanent establishment in Pennsylvania. A number of them, in 1734, emigrated to Altona, a considerable city of Denmark, and Holland, thence to Pennsylvania, as will be seen from the sequel.
The last mentioned edict was not put in its fullest rigor by the missionaries till after the death of Charles VI., when another edict was published threatening the total extermination of the remaining