Osterwald, Jean Frederic

Osterwald, Jean Frederic an eminent FrenchSwiss Reformed theologian, was born at Neuchatel, where his father was pastor, in 1663. In 1676 he went to Zurich to study under Prof. Ott, and in 1678 went to the University of Saumur, where he graduated in 1679. He then completed his studies at Orleans under the renowned Claude Pajon; at Paris under Pierre Alli, Jean Claude, etc.; and at Geneva under Louis Tronchin. He was ordained at Neuchatel in 1683, appointed deacon in 1686, pastor in 1699, and was repeatedly chosen dean by the clergy. He died at Neuchatel April 14,1747. Osterwald wrote, Traite

des sources de la corruption, qui irgne aujourd'hui parmi les Chretiens (Neuch. and Amst. 1700, anon.; often reprinted, and translated into English under the title of A Treatise. concerning the Causes of the present Corruption of Christians, and the Remedies thereof, 3d ed. Lond. 1711, 8vo; and in Watson's Tracts, No. 6; it was also translated into Dutch in 1703, and twice into German in 1713 and 1716). By this work Osterwald, who during his long and active life had, with Winnfels (q.v.) and Turretin (q.v.) — together called the Swiss triumvirate — labored zealously for the promotion of practical piety, sought a departure from that phase of orthodoxy which, recognizing profession as a principal obligation, had dwelt upon it so prominently as to lose sight of the holy living required of the Christian professor. Osterwald attributed the corruption of Christians to the tendency to dispute concerning certain dogmas, and considered the bad state of morals as arising from the people seeking to derive comfort, but not improvement, from Scripture. He accused them of attaching more importance to the knowledge of the word of Scripture than to a life of practical piety. To insist on morals as of paramount importance was considered a heresy. This corruption was further authorized by the doctrine that good works are unnecessary, and also that it is impossible to fulfill all the requirements of the law, as if the regenerate man remained as impotent as the natural man. Osterwald also asserted that the Reformation was not a complete work, and that the reformation of morals was yet to take place. There was also a want of unity, the Church being divided into numerous parties excommunicating each other. It was therefore necessary to lay aside all these vexatious minor points, and to adhere firmly to the essential doctrine, for fear lest religion should be still more dishonored. The teachings even of the catechisms were more doctrinal than practical. Pastoral care was deficient. This works exhibiting in bold relief the failings of the orthodox party, had great success, but awakened also considerable opposition. In 1702 Osterwald published a Catechism, which was translated into Dutch, German, and into English, under the title of The Grounds and Principles of the Christian Religion explained in a Catechetical Discourse for the Instruction of Young People, rendered into English, and revised by George Stanhope, D.D. (Lond. 1704, '8vo). Among his other works we notice Douze Sermons sur divers Textes de l'Ecriture Sainte (Geneva, 1722, 8vo): — The Arguments of the Books and Chapters of theO. and N.T., with Practical Observations, translated by John Chamberlayne, Esq. (5th ed. Lond. 1779); the arguments and reflections with which this was accompanied have been translated into most of the European languages, and are much-esteemed: — The Preliminary Discourse to the Arguments on the Books, etc. (ibid. 1722, 8vo): — The Nature of Uncleanness Considered, etc.; to which is added a Discourse concerning the Nature of Chastity, and the Means of obtaining it (ibid. 1708, 8vo): — Lectures on the Exercise of the Sacred Ministry, translated and enlarged by Thomas Stevens, M.A. (ibid. 1781, 8vo): — The Necessity and Usefulness of Reading the Holy Scriptures, and the Disposition with which they ought to be Read; translated by John Moore, A.B. (ibid. 1750, 18mo): — An Abridgment of the History of the Bible (ibid. 1750, 18mo). See Schweizer, Gesch. der ref. Centraldogmen, 2:759; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines (see Index in vol. ii); Hook, Eccles. Biog. 7:481 sq.; Hurst's Hagenbach, Ch. Hist. of the 18th and 19th Centuries, 1:113 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, 10:730 sq.; Darling, Cycl. Bibliographica, 2:2256. (J. N. P.)

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