The Protestants on the continent of Europe were divided, about the middle of the 16th century, into two main bodies, known as the Lutheran church and the Reformed church. Though these designations are insufiicient to include all the subsequent divisions and sects, yet they mark two distinct types of theology and polity, which have been ever since perpetuated. The so-called Reformed churches are those nurtured under the influence of what is popularly known as the Calvinistic system. This system is contrasted with Lutheranism in several marked particulars. Its keynote is in the doctrine of the divine sovereignty, held not as a philosophical speculation, but as a religious tenet. Luther indeed agreed with Calvin, using even stronger forms of statement, as to the servitude of the fallen human will, and the doctrine of election. But the Lutheran theology, under Me-lanchthon's influence, and in the Formula Concordia, renounced the decree of unconditional election; nor did its divines defend the supralapsarian scheme. Another theological difference was upon the theory of the Lord's supper.
Luther, though denying transubstan-tiation, affirmed a supernatural union of the body and blood of Christ with the consecrated elements, and advocated a literal interpretation of the words, "This is my body," holding to the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, in such a sense that the communicant, worthy or unworthy, actually receives the body of Christ into the mouth, "in, with, and under the form of the bread." The Lutheran divines asserted the ubiquity, though not in the common sense, of Christ's body, resulting from the union of the divine and human natures in his person. Calvin, on the contrary, maintained the real presence of Christ in the supper only in a spiritual sense, and a spiritual reception on the part of the communicant, the body of Christ meanwhile remaining in heaven, and imparting its virtue by a wonderful spiritual process. (See Julius Müller, Lutheri et Cal-vini Sententioe de Sacra Coena inter se comparatoe, Halle, 1858.) But in contrast with Zwingli, Calvin held that the sacraments were seals and pledges, and not merely signs, of divine grace.
Montesquieu says that the Lutheran and Reformed communions each believed itself to be most perfect: "The Calvinists believe themselves to be most conformed to what Jesus has said, the Lutherans to what the apostles have done." "The Calvinists," says Schweizer, "contended against the paganism of Rome, and the Lutherans against its Judaism." The latter have been more practical, the former more speculative; the one communion most absorbed in the reconciliation of sovereignty with free will, the other most devoted to the problem of the relation of the divine to the human, especially in the person of Christ. The Lutheran paid more deference to tradition, the Calvinist relied more on the exclusive authority of Scripture, often not distin guishing between the Old and New Testaments. Both adopted the presbyterian polity; but the Lutherans insisted more on the territorial rights of princes, while the Reformed emphasized the rights of the people. - The Reformed movement began in Switzerland, under the lead of Zwingli, the hero of Zürich, as early as 1516; in Basel it was headed by Oecolam-padius; Geneva was aroused by the intrepid Farel, and taught and organized by Calvin, who came thither, a refugee from France, in 1536. Switzerland was revolutionized by a grand popular movement.
The same form of faith was planted in the Palatinate, where was formed the German Reformed church, under the elector Frederick III., combining the spirit of Melanchthon with that of Calvin. It was accepted in Bremen, 1561-81; in Nassau, 1582; in Anhalt, 1596; in Hesse-Cassel, 1605; and even the elector of Brandenburg, John Sigismund, adopted it in 1614. Its churches were also scattered in Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland. The first reforms in Spain and Italy, soon suppressed, were nourished in part under its teachings. In France it attained such vigor that in 1559 a general synod was formed at Paris, and its churches numbered about 2,000. But here they were decimated by religious wars, and by the massacre of St. Bartholomew's, 1572, and enfeebled by the abjuration of Protestantism by Henry IV. The revocation of the edict of Nantes, Oct. 22, 1685, deprived 2,000,000 French Protestants of their religious security, and drove out half a million into all parts of Europe and America before the close of the century. The Reformed system was also introduced into Holland, where the reformation found martyrs as early as 1523. The fierce struggle of the United Netherlands with Philip II. of Spain (1555-'98) was both for civil and religious freedom.
The peace of Westphalia in 1648 confirmed the rights and liberties of the Dutch church. In England the reformation at first advanced more slowly. Cranmer gave it shape, mainly in the sense of the Reformed symbols, under Edward VI. The persecutions under Mary sent the most ardent of England's reformers to Zürich and Geneva, whence they brought back the seeds of Puritanism. But the Anglican church, though allied to the Reformed faith in its articles of religion, retained the episcopate, and in its prayer book taught the elements of the sacramental system. The act of uniformity (1559) led to a strong Puritan resistance; and the conflict passed over into the 17th century, coming to its height in the civil war of 1642-9, and the beheading of Laud and of King Charles. But the success under Cromwell was of short duration; and the strength of the Reformed influence was removed from England to America. In Scotland it was firmly established under Knox's influence after his return from the continent in 1559, and organized by the "Solemn League and Covenant;" and this land has never swerved from its loyalty to the faith of Geneva. In the form of Congregationalism, the same system of faith was transplanted to the new world by the pilgrims who landed on Plymouth rock, and by large subsequent immigrations; in the form of Presbyterianism (including the German and Dutch Reformed churches), it was established in the middle and southern colonies by emigrants from Scotland, Ireland, England, and Holland; and at no period since has it ceased to exert a strong and vital influence upon the principles and history of this country.
The Baptist churches of England and America adopt in the main the same system of faith. In other parts of the world, by colonization and emigration, the Reformed church is also widely diffused. - In correspondence and harmony with this wide geographical diffusion, the Reformed church has also shown great productive power in respect to confessions of faith and systems of theology, which, while retaining the same essential features, have set forth different types of doctrine. In this respect it is distinguished from the Roman Catholic and the (orthodox) Lutheran communions. At the very beginning of the Reformed movement we find Zwingli and Calvin differing in their modes of expounding the common faith, the former resolving original sin into a natural defect, and cultivating theology more in the spirit of the man of letters. Even in Switzerland, besides the stricter traditional and scholastic method, exemplified by Heidegger, and brought to its consummation in Tur-retin, Stapfer also taught, in his able "Polemics," the mediate and not exclusively immediate imputation of Adam's sin.
The famous school of Saumur in France, under the impulse of the Scotchman Cameron and the guidance of Amyraut, abandoned the dogma of a limited atonement in favor of the scheme of a hypothetical universalism of divine grace. But the most fruitful seminary of these Calvinistic systems in the 17th century was Holland. Its divines were at first divided between the supralapsarian and the infra-lapsarian schemes. The great Arminian controversy led to the convocation of the synod of Dort, 1618-'19, at which representatives attended from the English church as well as from other reformed communions; and where, against the Remonstrants, the five points of Calvinism were articulately defined, viz.: 1, unconditional election; 2, particular redemption; 3, total depravity; 4, grace irresistible; 5, the perseverance of the saints. Three prominent types of theology were represented in the subsequent religious development in the Netherlands: 1, the scholastic, advocated by Maresius, Wendelin, Gomarus, and Voetius; 2, the federal theology, or the theology which takes the idea of covenants as its central conception, which received its fullest exposition in the works of Cocceius and Witsius, modifying the rigidity of the scholastic formulas by a more Biblical and historical method; and 3, the Cartesian type, which made use of the principles of the philosophy of Descartes to expound and vindicate the Christian system, and rendered good service in giving a more systematic form to natural theology as the logical basis of revealed theology, and in the attempt to harmonize the rights of reason with the demands of faith.
The Reformed theology of the Palatinate found its best expression in the Heidelberg catechism (1563) drawn up by Ursinus and Olevianus, and adopted as a symbol by the German Reformed and Dutch churches. In England, Scotland, and America this system of faith is expressed in the Westminster confession of faith and catechisms, adopted by the long parliament in 1646, by the kirk of Scotland in 1647, by the Cambridge synod of New England in 1648, and by the Presbyterian church of America in 1729. The subsequent divisions in the Scotch church were chiefly upon the question of the relation of the church to the civil power (Associate presbytery, 1733; Covenanters, 1743; Burghers and Anti-Burghers, 1747; Relief Secession, 1761). In the "marrow controversy" (Fisher's "Marrow of Modern Divinity") live propositions were condemned in 1720, which were supposed to have an Antinomian tendency. The Scottish orthodoxy was upheld in the last half of the 18th century by Erskine, Hill, and others; though somewhat enfeebled by the lukewarmness of the Robertson administration, 1758-82. It has been revived in the present century, chiefly through the zealous advocacy of Chalmers. In the Anglican church there have always remained some able advocates of the fundamental principles of the Reformed system, as Da-venant, Leighton, Ezekiel Hopkins, and John Edwards; but it has chiefly flourished among the nonconformists of England, represented by such men as Thomas Watson, Baxter, Owen, Howe, Ridgeley, Matthew Henry, and Isaac Watts, not to name men of later date.
In the writings of Tobias Crisp it is Antinomian in its tendency. - Nearly contemporaneous with the decline of the Calvinistic system in its productive vigor upon the continent of Europe, was the rise of its most elaborate and philosophical defender in our own land, in the person of the elder Edwards. (See Edwards, Jonathan.) He stands at the head of a school, that of the so-called New England theology, which may well vie with any European type of this system in ingenuity, comprehensiveness, and moral vigor. Denying a limited atonement, insisting upon the distinction between natural ability and moral inability, making the essence of virtue to consist in holy love., and opposing the dogma of immediate imputation, it has exerted a prevailing influence upon the tone of theological speculation, and borne permanent fruits in the writings of Bellamy, Hopkins, Smalley, the younger Edwards, and Emmons. The later representatives of the Reformed dogmatics upon the continent of Europe, as Schleiermacher, Ebrard, Schnecker-burger, Schweizer, and Vinet, have advocated it in a historical and philosophical, rather than a traditional and scholastic spirit. - In estimating the influence of this system, we ought not to pass unnoticed the fact that a large portion of the denominations and sects of modern Christendom have sprung into being from its impulse, or in opposition to it.
This was the case with the Arminians; in part also with the Unitarians of Poland, Transylvania, England, and New England; with the Baptists in their various ramifications; and with the Wes-leyans or Methodists of England and America. The Reformed church has been fruitful in sects. The Lutheran church of Europe has always been under bonds to the state; the Reformed churches have more frequently claimed their own rights, and demanded a relative independence. The presbyterian polity was essentially a representative system; its lay elders (chosen for life in Scotland and Geneva, and for a limited period in Holland, France, and Germany) gave it vitality. Its presbyterial and synodal constitution, aristocratic in France and Geneva, and more democratic in Holland and Scotland, has made it efficient. It has also been zealous in administering discipline. The power of the laity was still further enhanced in the congregational or independent form of polity, so largely adopted in England by the nonconformists, including the Baptists, and prevalent in New England. Thus fitted to be a working church, it has in most of its branches been zealous in domestic and foreign missions, and has led the way to the progressive reforms that characterize modern society.