Meth, Ezeghiel

Meth, Ezeghiel a noted leader of a mystic sect who at the beginning of the 17th century created great excitement in Thuringia. Meth was practicing medicine in the city of Langensalza, Thuringia, when his uncle, a merchant in the same town, who had become an enthusiastic mystic, presented him with his peculiar conceptions of Christian fellowship and responsibility. Meth was readily won in favor of the heretical doctrines, and became one of the leaders of a sect which soon became numerous. He afterwards moved to Leipsic, where he died in 1640. Stiefel and Meth found their first followers among their own relatives and friends at Langensalza and Erfurt. They also gained access to the house of count Hans Ludwig de Gleichen, whose wife, the countess Juliana, became so ensnared in their mystic doctrines that she was finally excluded from the Lord's table. But matters did not rest here. She imagined she was a second Virgin Mary, and was to give birth to the new Messiah. She therefore separated herself from the count, and to the day of her death (July 28, 1633) remained steadfast in her hopes that she would bring forth the Messiah. The authorities tried in various ways to bring these enthusiasts to their senses, but kindness as well as punishment proved in vain, until at last Stiefel died-Stiefel who had been considered immortal by Meth and all his followers. A change took place in Stiefel's mind, and he is said to have died a truly converted Christian.

The doctrines of Stiefel and Meth were for the most part identical with the mysticism of the Anabaptists and of Schwenkfeld, as specified and condemned in the Formula of Concord. Only Christ, the living Word, is recognised, while the revealed Word, i.e. the Bible, is despised, the ministry, with all its officers, rejected, and the sacraments-baptism and communion-are declared works of witchcraft. They further taught that as the law of God has been fulfilled by Christ, the true Church can neither sin nor err; that no resurrection can take place, nor eternal life be hoped for, as all true Christians are already dead to the world, and feel the promised joys of eternity in their lives, to the fullest extent possible. See Arnold, Kirchen u. Ketzer Historie (see Index). SEE STIEFEL.

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