Hoffman, Daniel

, a Lutheran minister, superintendant and professor at Helmstad, was the author of an idle controversy towards the end of the sixteenth century. He started some difficulties about subscribing the concord, and refused to concur with Dr. Andreas in defence of this confession. He would not acknowledge the ubiquity, but only that the body of Jesus Christ was present in a great many places; this dispute, though laid asleep soon after, left a spirit of curiosity and contradiction upon people’s minds, so that in a little time they began to disagree and argue veiy warmly upon' several other points, Hoffman being always at th.e head of the party. Among other things in an academical disputation, he maintained that the light of reason, even as it appears in the writings of Plato and | Aristotle, is averse to religion; and the more the human understanding i s cultivated by philosophical study, the more perfectly is the enemy supplied with weapons of defence. The partiality wh;ch at this time universally prevailed in favour of the Aristotelian philosophy was such, that an opinion of this kind could not be advanced publicly, without exciting general dissatisfaction and alarm. A numerous band of professors, though they differed in opinion among themselves, united to take up arms against the common enemy. At the bead of this body was John Cassel; whence the advocates for philosophy were called the Casseiian party. They at first challenged Hoffman to a private conference, in expectation of leading him to a sounder judgment concerning philosophy; but their hopes were frustrated. Hoffman, persuaJed that interest and envy had armed the philosophers against him, in his reply to his opponents inveighed with great bitterness against philosophers, and acknowledged, that he meant to oppose not only the abuse of philosophy, but the most prudent and legitimate use of it, as necessarily destructive of theology. This extravagant assertion, accompanied with many contumelious censures of philosophers, produced reciprocal vehemence; and Albert Graver published a book “De Unica Veritate,” which maintained “the Simplicity of Truth;” a doctrine from which the Casseiian party were called Simplicists, whilst the followers of Hoffman (for he found means to engage several persons, particularly among the Tbeosophists, in his interest) opposing this doctrine, were called, on the other hand, Duplicists. John Angel Werdenhagen, a Boehmeiu’te, who possessed some poetical talents, wrote several poems against the philosophers. In short, the disputes ran so high, and produced so much personal abuse, that the court thought it necessary to interpose its authority, and appointed arbitrators to examine the merits of the controversy. The decision was against Hoffman, and he was obliged to make a public recantation of his errors, acknowledging the utility and excellence of philosophy, and declaring that his invectives had been only directed against its abuses.

Hoffman and Beza wrote against each other upon the subject of the Holy Eucharist. Hoffman accused Hunnius, an eminent Lutheran minister, for having misrepresented the book of the Concord; for here, says Hoffman, the cause of election is not made to depend upon the | qualifications of the person elected but Hunnius, says he, and Mylius assert, that the decree of election is founded upon the foresight of faith. Hunnius and Mylius caused Hoffman to be condemned at a meeting of their divines in 1593, and threatened him with excommunication, if he did not comply. The year following, Hoffman published an apology against their censure. Hospinian gives the detail of this controversy: he observes, that some divines of Leipsic, Jena, and Wittemburg, would have had Hoffman publicly censured as a Calvinist, and such a heretic as was not fit to be conversed with; others who were more moderate, were for admonishing him by way of letter before they came to extremities: this latter expedient was approved, and Hunnius wrote to him in the name of all his brethren. Hoffman’s apology was an answer to this letter, in which he gives the reasons for refusing to comply with the divines of Wittemburg, and pretends to shew that they were grossly mistaken in several articles of faith. At last he was permitted to keep school at Helmstadt, where he died in 1611. He must not be confounded with Melchior Hoffman, a fanatic of the sixteenth century, who died in prison at Strasburgh. There was also a Gasper Hoffman (the name being common), a celebrated professor of medicine at Altdorf, who was born at Golha in 1572, and died in 1649; and who left behind him many medical works. 1

1 Gen. Dict. —Moreri, Btucker.