Weigel, Valentine

Weigel, Valentine a mystic of the 16th century, was born in 1533 at Hayn, in Misnia, where his father was then pastor. He studied at Leipsic and Wittenberg from 1554 to 1567; he was ordained pastor of Zschoppau, in the diocese of Chemitz, Nov. 16, 1567, by Paul Eber (q.v.). He remained in that position till he died, June 10, 1588. He was married, but remained childless. He was beloved by his parishioners, who were not capable of discovering his heterodox views, more especially as he did not publish them to the world, and contented himself with privately elaborating them. He was not wholly successful, however, in preventing reports of his unsound opinions from being circulated, according to which he was tainted with Osiandrian and Schwenkfeldian errors. His cantor, Weikert, collected a band of mystical adepts; who undertook the multiplication, and subsequently the publication, of Weigel's works; and who issued them at Halle, Magdeburg, and elsewhere, in 1612, and afterwards in repeated editions. It is possible that interpolations of foreign matter into these writings took place, as the editors assumed pseudonymous names.

The sum and substance of Weigel's theorizing may be comprehended in the words of his epitaph at Zschoppan (see Arnold, Kichen u. Ketzerhistorie. 2, 17, 17), "O man, learn to know thyself and God; this is sufficient for thee!" His argumentation proceeds within the range of the subjective consciousness, objective proofs being regarded by him as the demonstration of a bondage to the letter, which is opposed to all true spiritual wisdom. He teaches that man is a microcosm, which embodies within itself the potentiality of salvation equally with other elements. Nature and grace are not in contrast with each other, even in an ethical sense, but are simply different degrees of the same state. Man is furthermore a threefold principle-his body being taken from the limus terra, his soul from the stellar spirit or firmament, and his spirit from the spiraculum vitae in God. This spirit is also the Holy Divine Spirit; or, more strongly expressed, man comprehends in himself by nature not only the world, but also God and Christ. Man is consequently both a microtheos and a microcosms, and constitutes the point at which the world, which emanated from God, returns to God. Weigel's pantheism is undeniable. The idea of emanation appears in his cosmology, and the thoughts of eternity and time, the invisible and the visible, are everywhere regarded by him as correlated, so that none of them can exist without its counterpart. The: creature is considered essential to the unfolding of the divine nature. The personality of the Son and the Holy Spirit is not necessary to the immanent being of God but originates in connection with the emanation of the world from God. The Son is the center in which God and the creature come together. Through him God becomes corporeal and temporal. It will be noticed that this does not effect the emanation of the creature from God, but is a mere impossible reduction of the divine and the eternal to the measure of time and sense; nor does Weigel anywhere succeed in achieving the completeness essential to the consistency of his system which the establishing of a distinct creature-nature would involve. Angels were created by the word of God, and in them the invisible world; but when Lucifer fell, God desired to have man, and therefore created the earth. Yet man is called the eye, ear, foot, hand, instrument of God, through which everything must be recognized and wrought; and it is said that this could not have come to pass had Adam remained in Paradise. In brief, all externality is but a reflex of the internal, and an idealism exists in which the distinction between the world and God is altogether subjective, and Whose result is that man lacks personality. All effect is the result of the divine action, and yet the human will is said to be unnecessitated in the fall into sin a contradiction — which Weigel nowhere explains. Sin is not a substance, but an accident assumed by the will, though it may be considered a substance in view of its effect on human nature, which involves the loss to man of his whole body being equivalent to all that is objective. Original sin is a necessary condition of the creature nature, which involves the departure of man from Eden, that he may till the soil and learn to know himself. Redemption consequently has no objective signification. Christ and the new life exist naturally in man. The kingdom of God is so in man that all the potencies of salvation exist in him, and it is actualized by the attainment of the soul to a knowledge of itself, and thereby to a knowledge of the Eternal and of God. The key to the whole of Weigel's system is his postulated opposition between the internal, which is the divine in man, and the external, which is the product of the interval. The Scriptures, as the outward letter, are depreciated and accounted incapable of revealing eternal life, which, according to Weigel is made known by the subjective spirit alone; and yet they are said to be necessary in another direction, because of our blindness and weakness. The duty of man is fulfilled in a simple surrender to the operations of the immanent Christ. It remains to be observed that while, in his opposition to the literalism of the Church, Weigel was at one with the sects of the time of the Reformation, he was utterly at variance with them in his advocacy of a fully developed quietism, and in his denunciation of war, lawsuits, etc., as he was also with the gross materialism which characterized the early Anabaptists in the unqualified intellectualism of his views. His mysticism afforded no aid whatever towards the thorough regeneration of theology. His significance probably extends no further than his influence contributed to the renewal of philosophical methods in theological inquiry, and as he antagonized the supranaturalism then current with his principle that nothing can be true which does not impress itself immediately upon the consciousness as being true.

See Arnold, Kirchen 2. Ketzerhistorie, 2, 17, 17, where a complete list of Weigel's works is given; Unschuldige Nachrichten, 1115; Hilliger, a dissertation entitled Fata et Scripta M.V. Weigel, etc. (Wittenberg, 1721); comp. also Roth, Nothiger. Unterricht von d. prophet. Weissagungen (1694), § 24. Arnold has stated Weigel's peculiar tenets in an apologetical way, while Hilliger has furnished a somewhat extended list of his heresies. His importance to philosophy is set forth in Ritter, Gesch. d. Philophie, 10, 77-100; Standenmayer, Philos. d. Christenthunis, , 72-3 sq.; Carriere, Philosoph. Weltanschauung d. Reformationszeit, p. 203-209; further, Walch, Einl. in d.'Rel. — Streitikeiten, 4:1024-1066; Planck, Gesch. d. piaot. Theolgie, p. 72 sq.; Hagenbach, Vorles. üb. d. Ref-Gesch. 3, 337 sq.; Dorner, Christologie, 2, 853; Baur, Trinitatslehre, 3, 255-260; id. Versohniungslehre, p. 463. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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