SPENER

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SPENER, Philip Jacob, a celebrated divine of the Lutheran church in the seventeenth century, was born in 1635, at Rappolsweileiyin Upper Alsace. His piety was early awakened by his patroness, the countess of Rappolstein, and was confinned by witnessing, at the age of fourteen years, her preparation for death. In 1651, he commenced his theological studies at Strasburg, became, in 1654, tutor of the princes of the Palatinate, and delivered lectures on philosophy and history. From 1659 to 1662, he travelled in Germany, Switzerland and France, where he became acquainted with the Jesuit Menestrier, celebrated for his knowledge of heraldry, and, having been thus led to study this science, wrote several works on heraldry, still much esteemed. In 1664, he was made doctor of theology at Strasburg, and, in 1666, he received the first place among the clergy at Frankfort on the Maine. His practical sermons, which deviated entirely from the dogmaticopolemic method then universal, were received with much applause. In 1670, he instituted his celebrated collegia pietatis, which, against his will, became the origin of pietism, (q. v.) From this time, Spener's history is wholly connected with this remarkable change in the religious state of Protestant Germany, as it was chiefly owing to his example and the spirit of his writings. The Lutheran church, at that time, was fast sinking into a lifeless dogmatism. Doctrines, forms and polemics were confounded with a religious life. Spener, in his Pia Desideria and other treatises, exposed the evils of this state of things, and showed how the important office of the ministry had become alienated from its proper purposethat of instructing the people in true religion, correcting their faults, and alleviating their afflictions. He was violently opposed by the clergy, who reproached him with not making any difference between practical and theoretical theology. But posterity acknowledges his services in the restoration of catechetical instruction, which had been almost entirely forgotten. From 3686 to 1691, he was preacher to the court in Dresden, and even then occupied himself with the religious teaching of children. A representation which he made to the elector in writing, respecting his faults, brought him into disgrace. He went, in 1691, to Berlin, where he took an active part in the foundation of the university of Halle. In 1698, the court of Dresden invited him to return; but he preferred to remain in Berlin, where he was in the possession of high appointments. He died in that city, in 1705. In his letters, reports, opinions, &c, a truly Christian benevolence and zeal for the cause of goodness is perceptible. Spener may be compared with Fenelon.