Knutzen, Matthias

, who was born in the country of Holstein, acquired some celebrity in his day for an attempt to propagate atheistical tenets, and for undertaking long journeys on purpose to make proselytes. He first broached his impious notions at Koniugsberg, in Prussia, about 1673. He boasted that he had a great many followers in the chief cities of Europe; at Paris, at Amsterdam, at Leyden, in England, at Hamburgh, at Copenhagen, at Stockholm, at Rome; and that he had even seven hundred at Jena. His followers were called conscienciaries, because they asserted, that there is no other God, no other religion, no other lawful magistracy, but conscience. He gave the substance of his system in a short letter dated from Rome the contents of which may be reduced to the following heads “First, there is neither a God nor a devil; secondly, magistrates are not to be valued, churches are to be despised, and priests rejected; | thirdly, instead of magistrates and priests, we have learning and reason, which, joined with conscience, teach us to live honestly, to hurt no man, and to give every one his due; fourthly, matrimony does not differ from fornication; fifthly, there is but one life, which is this, after which there are neither rewards nor punishments; sixthly, the holy scripture is inconsistent with itself.” The letter may be found in the edition of “Micraclii Syntagma Historitc Ecclesiastic, 1699.” Knutzen dispersed also some writings in the German tongue, but his opinions were amply refuted, in the same language, by a Lutheran professor, named John Musacus, who undertook that task in order to remove the suspicions that might be entertained to the prejudice of the university of Jena. When he died is not mentioned, nor does his history appear now of much importance. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri. —Chaufepie.