Joris, David

Joris, David (really JORISZOON, i.e. Georg'sson, hence also called Georgii), DAVID, founder of an Anabaptist sect of the 16th century, known under the name of Davidists, or more generally under that of Jorists, himself altogether a most extraordinary character was born either in 1501 or 1502, at Delft, in Holland, or, as Nippold thinks, at Ghent. He has generally been spoken of as of low parentage, but Nippold holds that David's father was originally a merchant, and afterwards the head of a company who went about acting the play of the life of David the psalmist, but that his mother was of noble origin. David was early placed at school, but the boy's inclination was more to a roving life, like that of his father, than to books. He early evinced a particular fondness for the art of glass painting. He was therefore finally taken from school and apprenticed to a glass painter, and soon displayed great aptitude in his profession. To perfect himself in this art he set out on a journey to neighboring countries, and traveled through Belgium, France, and England, until a dangerous disease hastened his return to Holland. He now (1524) settled at Delft, and married. Hitherto the young painter had displayed no extraordinary religious zeal; it is true he had been strict in all his religious observances, and had frequently declared himself in favor of vital piety, but this, at a time when the reformatory movement was in its infancy, was not remarkable. Even now he continued his attention to his business, and only on a few public occasions during the religious commotions of this time he dropped a word against the fanatic zeal of the Romish clergy, and the religious excesses of the Romish Church. In 1530, however, he appears more prominently on the stage. It is true he had previously written a few pamphlets against Romanism, but these had failed to provoke reply, or a demand for interference on the part of the authorities. But this year, while a procession of Roman Catholics was moving through the streets of Delft, he stopped the priests and accused them of the crime of deceiving the people by false teachings; he especially reproached them for their worship of images and pictures. The burgomaster of Delft favored Joris not a little, being a friend of his; but this daring action could not go unpunished, and Joris was arrested and imprisoned for some time. After a trial, however, he escaped, no doubt by the aid of his friend, without any severe punishment. He quitted Delft for six years, and it was during his wanderings at this time that he became estranged from the true Reformation principles and an adherent to Anabaptist views, and finally even the founder of an independent sect. His roving life, so vary much akin to that of all the Anabaptist leaders, inclined him to their cause; but, being as yet more moderate than they, and opposed to their tumultuous proceedings, especially to their views of establishing their authority by the sword, it was not until 1534 that he actually joined them by rebaptism. At this time the Anabaptists were at the zenith of their success, especially, at Munster. SEE ANABAPTISTS. Being requested to preach and espouse their cause before the people, he at first hesitated, and pleaded incompetency; but at last was prevailed upon, and was consecrated by Dammas, Ubbo, and others as bishop of Delft. The same zeal which he had. manifested in the cause, of the Lutherans he now displayed in behalf of the Anabaptists, and we may infer from the hesitancy of the authorities to interfere with Joris that his influence had become quite extended and his followers very numerous. Certainly Joris himself was quite conscious of the extent of his power, and he hesitated not to use it for the accomplishment of the one great object that seemed to be nearest his heart, the union of all Anabaptist forces under one common leader, the secure establishment of the principles which he himself espoused, and which no doubt he as yet believed to be based on the Scriptures and indorsed by divine favor. But his course soon, aroused suspicion among the other Anabaptist leaders. They were not slow to recognize in Joris an. able and. determined leader, and, jealous of the success he had already achieved, and fearful of their own position, they, openly disavowed him. Such a course was adopted, especially, by Batenburg himself, the founder of an Anabaptist sect, a determined ruffian, void of all feelings who, under the garb of religion, sought the enjoyment of wealth and power. He preached the extinction of all non-Anabaptists by the sword. Strangely enough, however, his very followers, after his decease, became the most faithful adherents of Joris. Opposed within the camp of the Anabaptists, Joris, in 1536, at the Convocation of Anabaptists. held at Bocholt, assumed a still more independent position, and proudly declared himself divinely appointed as leader. This further provoked, the jealousy of the other leaders; and as, immediately after the Convocation of Bocholt, Joris issued a pamphlet calling all parties to a peaceful union, the wrath of the different leaders was stimulated anew, and resulted in an entire estrangement of most of the Anabaptists. Those who now continued to espouse his cause were hereafter known as Jorists or Davidists. Providence, seemed to favor his effort. Letters came to him from all directions urging him to stand firm in this trying hour; to these were added visions and revelations which he fancied he had. Even the persecutions to which his followers were now subjected by the authorities were interpreted by him as a further proof of the divine favor. Was it not gain for them to die? From Holland we see him hasten to Westphalia, and thence back again to his native state to comfort his suffering adherents, and to attend and animate them in their dying hours. Nor did he waver when he saw his own mother led to the scaffold (at Delft, 1537), attesting in her dying hour the doctrines which her son was propagating. The extent of his influence may be inferred from the number who at this time became the subjects of persecution. At Delft thirty-five persons were executed for their adherence to Joris; at Haarlem, Amsterdam, Leyden, Rotterdam, and other cities also many suffered likewise. In the space of two years more than two hundred betokened their faithfulness to Anabaptist views at the expense of their life. Nor was Joris himself safe from persecution. He was obliged to leave Delft, where he had lived for a while secretly, and, after fleeing from place to place in his native country, he at last quitted Holland. Admonitory letter which he dispatched to the senate of his native land cost the bearer, his head. To return to Holland then became for Joris a hazardous undertaking; he therefore sought a home within the dominions of the landgrave of Hesse, but the latter also refused the weary wanderer a resting place unless he came as a Lutheran. Of course Joris was not now likely to yield up a that his imagination had fancied to be divine truth, and he continued his rovings until he felt safe nowhere. Suddenly we meet in Switzerland, in the city of Basle, a person by the name of John of Bruges, the owner of real estate in the town and in the country, a peaceable and good citizen, a communicant in the Reformed Church, who had come to Basle with his family in the spring of 1544. This man was none other than David Joris, the celebrated Anabaptist leader, who, tired of years of wandering, preferred a life of safety and comfort under a fictitious name to a life of celebrity and danger as the leader of a large religious sect. No one ever suspected under the garb of John of Bruges the form of David Joris, and he ended his days peacefully, in the midst of his family, in 1556. By the people of Basle, John of Bruges, alias David Joris, was highly esteemed while he lived among them, for, being a man of wealth, he united magnificence with virtue and integrity. But they thought differently after his death, when his son-in-law, Nicholas Blesdyck, a Reformed preacher in the Palatinate, an avaricious and unprincipled man, charged the deceased with the most blasphemous errors. However much David's family might remonstrate and deny the serious charges, the university and the clergy were called upon to pronounce Joris's opinions as heretical, and. his body was ordered to be dug up forthwith and committed to the common hangman to be burned. Thus, strangely enough, the Basle people actually brought to pass what Joris himself had told some of his disciples before his decease, that he would rise again at the end of three years. Respecting the character and opinions of Joris, Mosheim says (Eccles. Hist. bk. 4, cent, 16, sec. 3, pt. 2, ch. 3), "He possessed, more sense and more virtue than is commonly supposed, as is evinced not only by his books, of which he published a great many, but also by his disciples, who were persons by no means base, but of great simplicity of manners and character.... In the manner of the more moderate Anabaptists, he labored hard to revive languishing piety among his fellow men; and in this matter his imagination, which was excessively warm, so deceived him that he falsely supposed he had divine visions; and he placed religion in the exclusion of all eternal objects from the thoughts, and the cultivation of silence, contemplation, and a peculiar and indescribable state of the soul. The Mystics, therefore, of the highest order, and the Quakers, might claim him if they would. and they might assign him no mean rank among their sort of people." He believed that the true word of God is no external letter, but God himself, his word, and his voice in man himself. He opposed the doctrine of the Church concerning the Trinity on the ground that God is impersonal. "Is it not contrary to the manifestations of God in the creature to believe him to be three, and to call all three one?" he asks; and then replies, "God reveals himself in three periods, following each other successively — the periods of faith, hope, and love, all of them headed by a Godman appearing in God's stead." The second commenced with Jesus Christ, but the third and higher period, the period of perfect manhood, was inaugurated with the appearance of David Joris. The true Christ is the spiritual, the eternal word, eternally hid in the Father, the heart and the nature of God. This spiritual Christ has by no means really become flesh, but Jesus took the form of Christ in the flesh to make himself manifest. All that was done on or by Jesus in the body was a shadow (type) of what man will do and suffer in the spirit. Hence also there. was no power for salvation in Christ's external (i.e. bodily) sufferings and death, but we of our own accord must save ourselves by the sufferings and death of our old man. This deeper and more complete revelation is made to the world by David Joris, the true David, the Christ, not by descent in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and not in the spirit of the crucified and deceased, but of the resurrected and living Christ. With Joris's appearance must terminate the announcement of Christ after the flesh. Joris himself is to establish, both. internally and externally, the eternal kingdom of Christ, which hitherto was the kingdom of Christ only internally. He who has reached the perfection of this kingdom [which, of course, could also be done in this world, his external kingdom] is freed thereafter from all law, be it human or divine. Evidently Joris's doctrine was nothing but a fully developed system of Montanism (q.v.). He denied the doctrine of future judgment, as he declared that perfection is attained in this world, and thereafter the dependence of the subject on the Creator ceases. Of course he also ruled out of existence angels, both good and bad. He held, with Manes, that the body only, and not the. soul, was defiled by sin; and he took a most impolitic step when he adopted the principles of the Adamites with respect to marriage.

Of his 250 books and 1000 letters, the most important is his Book of Miracles, which appeared at Deventer in 1542, under the title of Wonderboeck, etc. (2d ed. 1551, folio). A list of all his. writings, and a very elaborate. statement of his life and work, were written by Prof. Nippolt, of Heidelberg University, in the Zeitschrift fur. hist. Theol; 1863, p. 389; 1864, p. 483 sq.; 1868, p. 476 sq. See also Arnold, Kirchen u. Ketzerhistomrie, pt. 2, bk. 16, ch. 21, § 36. p. 873 sq.; Trechsel, Protest. Antitrinit. 1, 36, 55; Escher, in Ersch. und Gruber, Allem. Encylop. 23; 36- 47; Schröckh, Kirchengesch. s. d. Reformation, 5, 442 sq., 469 sq.; Henke, Kirchengesch. 3, 148 sq.; Cramer, in the Archiv. of Kist en Royaards, 5, 1 sq.; 6, 291 sq. SEE ANABAPTISTS. (J.H.W.)

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