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In church history, a sect of Christians, who reject the moral law as a rule of conduct to believers, disown personal and progressive sanctification, and hold it to be inconsistent for a believer to pray for the forgiveness of sins. Although these principles will, by some, be thought to lead to mischevious consequences and practice, yet there are unquestionably, worthy men and virtuous Christians, who avow Antinomian tenets. To the young, the giddy, and the thoughtless, such sentiments might, if acted upon, be the source of much evil; but these, like the doctrine of ne. cessity, are rarely believed but by persons who have already at. tained to virtuous habits,
In church history, heretics of the first century, so called from their leader Ebion. They held the same errors with the Nazarenes; united the ceremonies of the Mosaic institution with the precepts of the Gospel; observed both the Jewish Sabbath and Christian Sunday, and in celebrating the Eucharist made use of unleavened bread. They abstain from the flesh of animals, and even from milk. In relation to Jesus Christ, some of them held that he was born, like other men, of Joseph and Mary, and acquired sanctification only by his good works. Others of them allowed that he was born of a virgin, but denied that he was the Word of God, or had any existence before his human generation. They said he was, indeed, the only true prophet; but yet a mere man, họ by his virtues had arrived at being called Christ and the Son of God. They also supposed that Christ and the devil were two principles, which God had opposed to each other. Of the New Testament they only received the Gospel of St. Matthew, which they called the Gospel according to the Hebrewş. See the article NAZARENES,
In church history, a sect of Christians so called from their pretentions to be more enlightened than others, and from their af fecting to be able to bring back mankind to the knowledge of the true God. The opinions held by these people have not been completely ascertained. They were fond of speculation, and like many of the Gnostics of modern times, held public worship and positive institutions in little esteem.
In church history, a sect of Christians who derived their name from Jacob Behmen, a German mystic and enthusiast, whose distinguishing tenets were, that man has the immortat spark of life which is common to angels and devils, that divine life of the light and spirit of God makes the difference between an angel and deyil; the latter having distinguished this divine life in him self; but that man can only attain to the heavenly life of the second principle, through the new birth of Jesus Christ; that the life of the third principle is of the external and visible world. Thus, the life of the first and third principles is common to all men, but the life of the second principle only to a true Christian or child of God." Behmen was a pious man, and his principles were adopted by our countryman William Law, a worthy divine of the church of England, but in General, to a bye-stander, the Behmenites seem to try how they can talk on religion so as not to be intelligible.
In church history, a sect of the Roman Catholics in France who followed the opinions of Jansenius (bishop of Ypres, and doctor of divinity of the universities of Louvain and Douay,) ip relation to grace and predestination,
In the year 1640, the two universities just mentioned, and particularly father Molina and father Leonard Celsus, thought fit to condemn the opinions of the Jesuits on grace and free will. This having set the controversy on foot, Jansenius opposed to the doctrine of the Jesuits the sentiments of St. Augustine, and wrote a treatise on grace which he entitled Augustinus. This treatise was attacked by the Jesuits, who accused Jansenius of maintaining dangerous and heretical opinions; and afterwards, in 1642, obtained of Pope Urban VIII. a formal condemnation of the treatise wrote by Jansenius; when the partizans of Janseniys gave out that this bull was spurius, and composed by a person entirely devoted to the Jesuits. After the death of Urban VIII, the af fair of Jansenism began to be more warmly controverted, and gave birth to a great number of polemical writings concerning grace; and what occasioned some mirth, were the titles which each party have to their writings: one writer published the Torchi of St. Augustine ; another found Snuffers for St. Augustine's Torch; and father Vernon formed a A Gag for the Jansenists, &c. In the year 1650, sixty-eight bishops of France subscribed a letter to pope Innocent X. to obtain an inquiry into and condemnation of the five following propositions, extracted from Jansenius's Augustinus: 1. Some of God's commandments are impossible to be observed by the righteous, even though they endeavour with all their power to accomplish them. 2. In the state of corrupted nature, we are incapable of resisting inward grace.3. Merit and demerit, in a state of corrupted nature, do not de pend on a liberty which excludes necessity, but on a liberty which excludes constraint. 4. The Semi-pelagians admitted the necessity of an inward preventing grace for the performance of each particular act, even for the beginning of faith; but they were heretics in maintaining that this grace was of such a nature that the will of man was able either to respect or obey it. 5. It is Semi-pelagianism to say, that Jesus Christ died, or shed his blood, for all mankind in general.
A GEOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF RELIGION IN EUROPE, ASIA, AFRICA AND
HAVING closed our account of the different creeds of the principal sects, we will now proceed to give a geographical account of the different sects tolerated, and established in these countries; beginning with
The only religion tolerated in Iceland is Lutheran. The churches on the east, south, and west quarters of the island, are under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Skalholt (the capitol of the island) and those of the north quarter are subject to the bishop of Hoolum. The island is divided into 189 parishes, of which 127 belong to the see of Shalholt, and 62 to that of Hoo. lum. All the ministers are natives of Iceland, and receive a yearly salary of four or five hundred rix dollars from the king, exclusive of what they have from their congregations.
In Sweden, Christianity was introduced as early as the 9th century. Their religion is Lutheran, which was propagated among them by Gustavus Vasa, about the year 1523. The Swedes are surprisingly uniform and unremitting in religious matters; and have such an aversion to popery, that castration is the fate of every Roman Catholic priest discovered in their country. The archbishop of Upsal has a revenue of about £400 a year; and has under him 13 suffragans, besides superintendants, with moderate stipends. No clergyman has the least direction in the af fairs of state; but their morals and sanctity of their lives endear them so much to the people, that the government would repent making them its enemies. Their churches are neat and often ornamented. A body of ecclesiastical laws, and canons direct their religious oeconomy. A conversion to popery, or a long continuance under excommunication, which cannot pass without the king's permission, is punished by imprisonment and exile.
In Russia the established church is the Greek, the tenets of which are quite too numerous and complicated to be discussed here. It is sufficient to say, that they deny the pope's suprema. cy;. (though in principal and practice they are catholics,) and though they disclaim image-worship, they retain many idolatrous and superstitious customs. Their churches are full of pictures of saints, whom they consider as mediators. They observe a number of fasts and lents, so that they live half the year very abstemiously: an institution which is extremely convenient for their soil and climate. They have many peculiar notions with regard to the sacraments and Trinity. They oblige their bishops, but not their priests to celibacy. Peter the Great shewed his profound knowledge in government in nothing more than in the reform of his church. He broke the dangerous powers of the patriarch and the great clergy. He declared himself the head of the church; and preserved the subordination of metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops. Their priests have no fixed salary, but depend for subsistence on the benevolence of their flocks and hearers. Peter after establishing this great political reformation, left the clergy in full possession of all their idle ceremonies: nor did he cut off their beards; that impolitic attempt was reserved for the late emperor, and greatly contributed to his fatal catastrophe. Before his days, an incredible number of both sexes were shut up in convents: nor has it been found prudent entirely to abolish those societies. The abuses of them, however, are in a great measure removed; for no male cau become a monk till he is turned of thirty; and no female a nun till she is fifty; and even then not without permission of their superiors.
The conquered provinces as already observed, retain the exercise of their own religion; but such is the extent of the Russian empire, that many of its subjects are Mahometan; and more of them no better than Pagans, in Siberia and the uncultivated countries. Many ill judged attempts have been made to convert them by force, which has only tended to confirm them in their infidelity. On the banks of the river Sarpa, is a flourishing colony of Moravian brethren, to whom the founders have given the name of Serepta; the beginning of the settlement was in 1765, with distinguished privileges from the imperial court,