FRESENIUS, frê'sê-nî'us, JOHANN PHILIPP: German theologian; b. at Niederwiesen (near Kreuznach, 8 m. s. of Bingen), Germany, Oct. 22, 1705; d. at Frankfort July 4, 1761. Despite his poverty, he entered the University of Strasburg in 1723, where he devoted himself especially to the study of the works of Luther. On Sept. 26, 1725 he defended a series of theses on justification, but was compelled to interrupt his studies on account of the illness of his father, whose clerical duties he assumed for a year. He was then appointed tutor in the family of the count of Salm-Grunbach, but his father died shortly afterward (May 25, 1727), and he became his successor at Oberwiesen. In 1731 he published at Augsburg his Antiweislingerus in answer to the Friss Vogel oder stirb of the Jesuit J. N. Weislinger. This pamphlet so angered the Roman Catholic clergy that an attempt was made to arrest him, but he escaped to Darmstadt, where he became acquainted with Landgrave Ernst Ludwig, who appointed him second court preacher at Giessen (1734). In 1735 he became collega primarius at the Pædagogium illustre, and also began to deliver exegetical and ascetic lectures at the university. From 1736 to 1742 he officiated as court deacon at Darmstadt, where he founded an institute for proselytes which added 400 members to the Lutheran Church. From 1742 to 1743 he was assistant professor and second city chaplain at Giessen; and from 1743 until his death he was minister at Frankfort.


Fresenius was a zealous opponent of the Moravian movement and of Zinzendorf, who called him a "devil incarnate." He also opposed the Reformed congregations of Frankfort, and thwarted their endeavors to obtain free exercise of their religion, and permission to establish churches. Among Fresenius's many works special mention may be made of the following: Beicht- und Kommunion-buch (Frankfort, 1746); Bewährte Nachrichten von Herrnhutischen Sachen (4 vols., 1747-51); Nötige Prüfung der Zinzendorffschen Lehrart (1748); Pastoral-Sammlungen (24 parts, 1748-60); Heilsame Betrachtungen über die Sonn- und Festtagsevangelien (1750, 1845, 1872); and Zuverlässige Nachrichten von dem Leben, Tode and Schriften D. Joh. Albrecht Bengels (1753).

(G. E. STEITZ†.)