A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Familists

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FAMILISTS, or family of Love, a denomination which appeared in Holland about the year 1555, and derive their origin from one Henry Nicholas, of Westphalia. He pretended that there was no knowledge of Christ, nor of the scriptures, but in his family. He quoted 1. Cor. xiii. 9, 10. For we know but in part, and we prophecy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away; and hence inferred that the doctrine of the apostles was imperfect, and be superseded by the more perfect revelation made to The Family of Love.

This denomination taught, (1.) That the essence of religion consisted in the feelings of divine love; and that it was a matter of indifference what opinions Christians entertained concerning points of faith, provided their hearts burned with the sacred flame of piety and love. (2.) That the union of the soul with Christ transforms it into the essence of the Deity. (3.) That the letter of the scripture is useless; and those sacred books ought to be interpreted in a spiritual or allegorical manner. (4.) That it was lawful on some occasions to prevaricate in evidence.[1]

This sect appeared in England about the year 1580; where, when their founder was discovered, their books were ordered to be publicly burnt, and the society was dispersed.

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. Mosheim, vol. iv. p. 165. Broughton, vol. ii. p. 60. More's Mystery Godliness, p. 356. Fulfilling of the Scriptures, vol. i. p, 166.