Offenhertzige Bekäntniss, welche Bey unlängst geschehener Verlassung eines Academischen Amtes abgeleget worden.

[N.p., n.p.]Gedruckt im Jahr Christi 1698.

12mo, ff. [47]; A2 misbound after A10, A2/A11 a little loose, a few small paper repairs to title and to lower margin of A2 and inner margin of D1, two tiny holes to title, some browning due to paper stock; else a very good copy in 18th-century stiff vellum, gilt lettering-piece to spine, red edges, 22 blank leaves bound after printed text; engraved bookplate of Christian Ernst Graf zu Stolberg (dated 1721) to front endpapers, old ink stamp and ownership inscription to title.


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Offenhertzige Bekäntniss, welche Bey unlängst geschehener Verlassung eines Academischen Amtes abgeleget worden.

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Very rare first edition of this work by the important German Protestant theologian and devotional writer Gottfried Arnold (1666-1714), written as an ‘Open-hearted confession’ following his resignation as professor of history at the university of Giessen. Having studied at Wittenberg, Arnold came under the influence of Philipp Spener, the ‘father of pietism’, and made his name in 1696 with his work Die erste Liebe der gemeinen Jesu Christi. Invited to take up a professorship at Giessen in 1697, Arnold found himself moving towards radical spiritualism, influenced by Christian Thomasius and Jakob Böhme, and, after teaching for only a short time, left his post, his resignation attracting great attention. His Offenhertzige Bekäntniss, written in June 1698, explains his decision: Arnold found his piety in disharmony with the dispersion of secular knowledge and the university system, and the holding of a secular office, a piece of this world, as impossible for a Christian. Another edition appeared in Berlin in 1699.

Following his resignation, Arnold produced perhaps his most famous work, the Unparteiische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie (‘Impartial history of the Church and of heresy’) (1699-1700), a major revision of church history.

VD17 14:072090X. OCLC finds no copies outside Germany; we have not traced any copies in auction records.

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Cannon had previously published a report of the trial, and here addresses his preface to Sir John Bailey, attacking the sentence as being inappropriate to the crime, and to the needs of the convict: ‘As a lawyer, you ought to have those celebrated foreign authors Beccaria, Filangeri, and Montesquieu. These eminent writers would have taught you the reflection which is necessary in endeavouring to proportion the punishment to the crime, and the circumstances of the individual; and to temper justice with mercy’. Wedderburn had been sent to a jail far from his friends and supporters: ‘when a poor man is imprisoned, it ought to be where his friends can reach him to throw in a morsel of victuals through the bars of his dungeon’.

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