EBEL, ê'bel, JOHANN WILHELM: German preacher; b. at Passenheim (75 m. s.s.e. of Königsberg), East Prussia, Mar. 4, 1784; d. at Hoheneck, near Ludwigsburg (9 m. n. of Stuttgart), Württemberg, Aug. 18,1861. After his graduation at Königsberg, he became acquainted with Johann Heinrich Schönherr (q.v.), and espoused his views of relative dualism. His pronounced evangelical views, and eloquent advocacy of practical Christianity, were distasteful to the rationalistic and dead orthodox clergy of the province, who tried, from the beginning of his ministerial career at Hermsdorf (1807-09), to awe him into submission, and, upon his removal to Königsberg as preacher and teacher (1810), resented his growing popularity by charging him with heresy. The charge, however, was dismissed as unfounded, while Ebel was chosen preacher of the Old Town Church at Königsberg, the largest in the city, in 1816, and filled that high position until his deprivation in 1842.
In 1826 a ministerial rescript, directed against mysticism, Pietism, and separatism, was eagerly seized by Schön, the provincial governor, an unchristian and unprincipled man, and other opponents of Ebel and Heinrich Diestel, his brother minister and friend, as an opportunity for the trumped-up charge of having founded a sect which held secret meetings and advocated tenets of perilous and immoral tendency. The consistory decided the case against the accused, and, in 1835, arbitrarily and illegally suspended them ab officio. On appeal the action of the consistory was canceled, but Ebel, though acquitted of the charge of having founded a sect, was not reinstated, on the alleged ground of neglect of duty. The prosecution, originating in theological hatred, took place at a time when the judicial process in Prussia was still private. To-day it would be impossible to bring such a case to the cognizance of a jury. After his deprivation, Ebel lived at Grünefeld (1842-48), at Meran in the Tyrol (1848-50), and at Hoheneck (1850-61).
J. I. MOMBERT.
Bibliography: The most important of the works of Ebel are: Die Weisheit von Oben, Königsberg, 1823; Gedeih liche Erziehung, Hamburg, 1825; Die apostolische Predigt ist zeitgemäss, Hamburg, 1835; Die Treue, Königsberg, 1835; Verstand and Vernunft (in company with G. H. Diestel), Leipsic, 1837; Zevgniss der Wahrheit (by the same), ib. 1838; Grundzüge der Erkenntniss der Wahrheit, ib. 1852; Die Philaophie der heiligen Urkunde des Christenthums, Stuttgart, 1854-56. For his life consult: J. I. Mombert, Faith Victorious, being an Account of the Life and Labours and of the Times of J. Ebel, London, 1882; H. Wagener, Ueber J. W. Ebel, Ludwigsburg, 1861. Consult also: E. Hahnenfeld, Dú religiöse Bewegung zu Königsberg, Braunsberg, 1858; E. Kanitz, Aufkiärung nach Actenquellen über den Königsberger (1835-42), Religionsprozess, Basel, 1862; Bibliotheca Sacra, vol, xxvi., 1869.