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A German Protestant sect which derives its name from "Michel", the popular designation of its founder Johann Michael Hahn, b. of peasant parentage, 2 February, 1758, at Altorf near Stuttgart; d. at Sindlingen near Herrenberg in Würtemberg, 20 January, 1819. Naturally of a deeply religious disposition, he claimed to have been favoured at the age of seventeen with a vision lasting for the space of three hours. From that time on he led a strictly retired life and was a regular attendant at the meetings of the Pietists. His peculiarities drew forth the energetic disapproval of his father, who even resorted to physical violence against him. But as parental opposition resulted in driving the son from home without changing his manner of life, it was soon abandoned as useless. After a seven weeks' vision, alleged to have occurred in 1780, Hahn began to proclaim his beliefs through speech and writing. Large audiences flocked to his preaching and both the ecclesiastical and the civil authorities instituted proceedings against him. He sought quiet in foreign lands, notably in Switzerland, where he met Lavater. From 1794 until his death, he devoted his time, undisturbed, to religious propaganda, living on the estate of Duchess Frances at Sindlingen. While he entertained for some time the idea of establishing a distinct community, a plan which was realized at Kornthal near Stuttgart, after his death, neither he nor his followers ever separated completely and permanently from the state Church. The Bible, interpreted not in a literal but a mystical, allegorical sense, occupies, in his religious system, the position of supreme guide in matters of faith. The Trinity of Persons in God is replaced by a threefold manifestation of one and the same deity. A double fall of man is admitted, for Adam fell first in seeking a consort for the multiplication of the human species, and again in yielding to her suggestion of disobedience. Hence the necessity of redemption by Jesus Christ, a redemption which is understood mainly in a physical sense, in as much as the Redeemer exudes, in his bloody-sweat, the coarse, sensual elements in man to whom he restores a spiritualized body. A second and proximate advent of Christ is taught; also the ultimate universal salvation of all beings, the fallen angels included. Among the sources of his belief Hahn mentions only the Bible and special personal illumination; his ideas, however, are undoubtedly related to the views of the theosophists Böhme and Ötinger. His followers, found chiefly among the rural population, are scattered over Würtemberg, Baden, and the Palatinate. Their approximate number is 15,000 souls divided into 26 districts, each of which holds semi-annual conferences. The works of Hahn, comprising 15 volumes, were published posthumously at Tübingen, 1819 sqq.
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