FREE METHODISTS. See Methodists, Iv.,5.

FREE RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATION: An association established in Boston May 30, 1867, aiming at the emancipation of religion from sectarian limitations, the reconciliation of faiths, and the ap= plication of scientific methods to the study of religion, and emphasizing practical morality. Octavius Brooks Frothingham was the first president, and for many years Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the vice-presidents. Members axe allowed the utmost liberty of opinion. The elastic nature of the organization-" any person desiring to cooperate" is "considered a member"-renders exact statistics impossible. The association has not attempted to , organize local societies, but has contented itself with holding conventions and distributing publications. An annual report is usually issued in pamphlet form.

Edwin D. Mead.


Meaning and Origin (ž 1).
Mystic Pantheism Wide-spread (ž 2).
Various Groups (ž 3).

Brethren of the Free Spirit is a name under which the heresiologists of the Middle Ages classed,.various extreme developments of quietistic and pantheistic mysticism. Modern scholars also have accepted the existence of a pantheistic sect, sharply marked off from the fellowship of the Church, usually recruited from the laity, and handing down


its doctrines practically unaltered from the thir teenth to the sixteenth century. It is possible to show, however, that the phenomena classed under this title have points of such radical difference as to destroy the conception of one single pan theistic tradition reproducing itself i. Meaning through more than one century by and means of an actual sect; and that the Origin. origin of this pantheistic quietistic mys ticism is found not among the ordi nary laity but in the monasteries and among the Beghards and Beguines, who came so strongly under monastic influence; also that in the follow ing centuries the boundaries between monastic mysticism and sectarian pantheism were never very stable. There is no adequate ground for be lieving that the teachings of Amalric of Bena (q.v.) found acceptance among a section of the French Waldenses, and then about 1215 spread from east ern France into western and southern Germany. The earliest authentic information about the ap pearance of this sort of mysticism on German soil shows certain Swabian heretics about 1250 teach ing a radical pantheism and determinism. Start ing from the belief in the divine essence of the soul and of all earthly things, they considered the as cension of the soul to God the goal of all religion. This was to be attained by abstraction from all earthly activity and also from moral and religious commandments which distracted the soul from its purpose of union with the Godhead. The " per fect man " who has reached this goal is sinless; his will is God's will; the Church's laws and means of grace are without significance for him. All value was taken both from moral effort and from ecclesiastical ordinances by the belief that every human act had been predestined from eternity. All this points to these doctrines being'a straggling offshoot of the monastic mysticism of the school of Saint-Victor, as drawn by its adherents from Dio nysius the Areopagite. When Richard of Saint Victor (q.v.) says of the soul united with God (De prepar. dnimi ad contempl., ii. 13) "Here first the soul recovers its* ancient dignity, and asserts its claim to the innate glory of its own freedom," he uses expressions only too easily misunder stood by extravagant mystics, and serving them as a foundation for their doctrine of spiritual freedom. The decrees of the Council of Vienne (1311) against the Beguines and Beghards shows that the church authorities of that time were disposed to tax these communities throughout Germany with similar pantheistic heresies. The consequences of this view have been that up to the present day it has been usual to attribute a. much wider exten sion than the facts justify to the pan s. Mystic theistic doctrines, and. to consider the Pantheism characteristics of the orthodox Beg Wide-spread. uines and . Beghards, e.g., their es teem for poverty and mendicancy, as distinguishing the heretical mystics. The fact is, however, that it is (difficult to draw a sharp line of demarcation between orthodox and heretical mys ticism. How true this is. may be seen not only from the complaint of David of Augsburg that the friends of mysticism were persecuted on no other ground than as heretics or as possessed by demons, but also from the accusations of spreading alleged heresies which were brought against Tauler, Suso, and Ruysbroeck, to say nothing of Eckhart. Among the cloistered women of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the line of demarcation was even more fluctuating. The ecstatic-mystical life and the visionary condition of many of them produces frequent expressions from which to pantheism is but a short step. It can scarcely be denied that this pantheism won many adherents through the influence of the great German mystics of the fourteenth century. The theory that close personal relations existed between Eckhart and the "Free Spirit" heretics at Strasburg and Cologne is unproved and unlikely; but the sectarian pantheistic mysticism was unquestionably aided and influenced by his speculations. In a well known passage of Suso's B├╝chlein der Wahrheit (ch. vi.), in which he is arguing with the leaders of the pantheistic mystics, the latter quote Eckhart as a high authority. This attempt to show him as on their side, however unjustifiable, throws light on the close correspondence between the propositions condemned as his by John XXII. in 1329 and the extracts given by Mosheim from a lost sectarian book De novem ruptTbua; apparently the papal censure was based not upon Eckhart's authentic writings but upon this pantheistic treatise which was given out as his.

The opponents of the teaching of the "Free Spirit," e. g. Tauler, Rulman Merawin, Gerson, Ruysbroeck, and Geert Groote, give the impres-

sion that they are combating, not an 3. Various organized sect, but a morbid tendency Groups. and an exaggeration of mystical piety. The confusion frequently found in writers of that period between the adherents of this pantheistic mysticism and the Fraticelli and Apos tolic Brethren springs partly from ignorance of the points in which they differed widely, and partly from the use of the expression "sects spiritus libertatis" as a common designation for quite dis tinct heresies. This has led some modern writers into the supposition that the teachings of the Ger man heretical mystics had been spread in the four teenth century among the Italian Fraticelli and Apostolicals, as well as through the so-called "Turlupins" (q.v.), in France. It is clear that the at tempt to trace the development and organization of a single definite pantheistic sect in the Middle Ages must be unsuccessful. The records of the tribunals, however, make us acquainted with vari ous groups of this kind and with a whole series of individual representatives of heretical mysticism. The condemnation of Margareta Porete, a Beguine of Hainault, who was executed in Paris in 1318, precedes the Council of Vienne. In her writings the soul, "annihilated" in God, is released from the obligation to practise virtue, which, however, comes naturally to the soul united with God. Probably similar to hers was the teaching of the mystical work of Marie de Valenciennes, contro verted by Gerson, which, appealing to an alleged Biblical counsel "Ama et fac quod vis," denied


the binding force of the moral law for those who were filled with the mystical love of God. With the Flemish poetess and visionary Hadewich Blommaerdine (q.v.), the pantheistic element is not prominent. About the same time in Cologne, a Netherlander, Walther, burned c. 1322, was the center of a wide-spread pantheistic movement, in the contemporary descriptions of which we meet for the first time with the nocturnal Adamite orgies (see Adamites). In southern Germany Berthold of Rorbach (q.v.), burned 1356 at Speyer, and Hermann Kachener of Nuremberg, who recanted at W├╝rzburg in 1342, were the apostles of a similar movement. Another interesting group is that of the "Friends of God" (q.v.), whose leader, Nicholas of Basel was burned at Vienna in 1396. Pantheistic-antinomian elements are mingled with apocalyptic views of the Joachim type in the "Homines intelligentim" (q.v.). The sources for the history of these heresies in the fifteenth century are so confused that little can be made of them. That pantheistic ideas still had power in the Reformation period is shown by the rise of the Loist sect at Antwerp (1525-1545), and the Libertine or Spiritual party (see Libertines,3) which after 1529 spread from the Netherlands through France, western Germany, and Switzerland, as well as by certain developments of the Anabaptist movement.

(Herman Haupt.)

Bibliography: Sources are: P. Fredericq, Corpus documentorum inquisitionis Neerlandicle, vols. i.-ii., Ghent, 1889-96; Ulanoweki, in Scriptures rerum Polonicarum, xiii. 233-250, Cracow, 1889. Consult: H. C. Lea, Hist. of Inquisition, vol. ii., passim, New York, 1888; C. U. Hahn, Geschichte der Ketzer, ii. 470, Stuttgart, 1847; J. C. L. Gieseler, Kirchengeschichte, II. ii. 642 sqq., Bonn, 1849, Eng. transl., ed. H. B. Smith, ii. 590 sqq., New York, 1871; W. Moll, Kerkgeschiedenis van Nederland, II., iii. 59 sqq., Utrecht, 1869; W. Preger, Geschichte der deutschen Mystik, vols. i.-iii., Leipsic, 1874-93; H. Haupt, ZKG, v. 478, vii. 503, xii. 35; H. Reuter, Geschichte der religidsen AufklBrung, ii. 240 sqq., Berlin, 1877; W. Wattenbaeh, in Sibunpsberichte der Berliner Akademie, 1887, pp. 517 sqq.; J. J. I. von D├Âllinger, Sektengeschichte, ii. 378 sqq., 702 sqq., Munich, 1890; Neander, Christian Church, iv. 633, v. 393, 401, 408.


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