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The progress and decline of Socinian
endeavour to render themselves popular, and to begin by gaining the multitude to their side; but the disciples of Socinus, who are perpetually exalting the dignity, prerogatives, and authority of reason, have this peculiarity in their manner of proceeding, that they are at very little pains to court the favour of the people, or to make prosefytes to their cause among those who are not distinguished from the multitude by their rank or their abilities. It is only among the learned and the great that they seek for disciples and patrons with a zealous assiduity.
II. The effect of the missions now mentioned, though they were conducted and executed by persons in of whom the greatest part were eminent, both on and account of their rank and abilities, was neverthe- ism atd less far from answering the views and expectations of the community. In most places their success was doubtful, at best but inconsiderable; in some however they were favourably received, and seemed to employ their labours to purpose They had nowhere a more flattering prospect of success than in the academy of Altorf, where their sentiments and their cause were promoted with dexterity by Ernest Sohner, an acute and learned peripatetican, who was professor of physic and natural philosophy. This subtile philosopher, who had joined the Socinians during his residence in Holland, instilled their principles into the minds of his scholars with much greater facility, by his having acquired the highest reputation both for learning and piety. The death indeed of this eminent man, which happened in the year 1612, deprived the rising society of its chief ornament and support; nor could the remaining friends of Socinianism carry on the cause of their community with such art and dexterity, as to escape the vigilant and severe eye of the other professors. Their secret designs were accordingly brought to light, in the year 1616; and the contagion of Socinianism, which was gathering strength from day to day; and growing imperceptibly into a reigning system, was all of a sudden dissipated and ex
tinguished by the vigilant severity of the magistrates of · Nuremberg. The foreign students, who had been infected with these doctrines, saved themselves by flight; while the natives, who were chargeable with the same reproach, accepted of the remedies that were presented to them by the VOL. IV,
Socinianism, and the sufferings of its votaries in Poland.
lished, is that the acadacted at Warsaute solic
healing hand of orthodoxy, and returned quietly to their former theological system.m
111. The establishment of the Socinians in Poland, though The decline of it seemed to rest upon solid foundations, was never
for theless of a short duration." Its chief supports vo were withdrawn in the year 1638, by a public
decree of the diet. It happened in this year that some of the students of Racow vented, in an irregular and tumultuous manner, their religious resentment against a crucifix, at which they threw stones, till they beat it down out of its place. This act of violence excited such a high degree of indignation in the Roman catholics, that they vowed revenge, and fulfilled this vow in the severest manner; for it was through their importunate solicitations that the terrible law was enacted at Warsaw, by which it was resolved, that the academy of Racow should be demolished, its professors banished with ignominy, the printing house of the Socinians destroyed, and their churches shut. All this was executed without the smallest alleviation or the least delay, notwithstanding the efforts made by the powerful patrons of the Socinians to ward off the blow.' But a catastrophe, still more terrible, awaited them; and the persecution now mentioned was the forerunner of that dreadful revolution, which, about twenty years afterward; brought on the entire ruin of this community in Poland; for by a public and solemn act of the diet held at Warsaw, in the year 1658, all the Socinians were banished for ever from the territory of that republic, and capital punishment was denounced against all those who should either profess their opinions, or harbour their persons. The unhappy exiles were, at first, allowed the space of three years to settle their affairs, and to dispose of their possessions ; but this term was afterward abridged by the cruelty of their enemies, and reduced to two years. In the year 1661, the terrible edict was renewed; and all the Socinians that yet remained in Poland, were barbarously driven out of that country, some with the loss of their goods, others with the loss of their lives, as neither sickness, nor any domestic consideration, could suspend the execution of that rigorous sentence. · IV. A part of these exiles, who sought for a refuge among their brethren in Transylvania, sunk under the burden of their calamities, and perished amidst the best the hardships to which they were exposed. A exiles. considerable number of these unhappy emigrants were dispersed through the adjacent provinces of Silesia, Brandenburg, and Prussia ; and their posterity still subsist in those countries. Several of the more eminent members of the sect, in consequence of the protection granted them by the duke of Breig, resided for some time at Crossen, in Silesia.' Others went in search of a convenient settlement for themselves and their brethren, into Holland, England, Holstein, and Denmark. Of all the Socinian exiles, none discovered such zeal and industry for the interests and establishment of the sect as Stanislaus Lubieniecius, a Polish knight, distinguished by his learning, and singularly esteemed by persons of the highest rank, and even by several sovereign princes, on account of his eloquence, politeness, and prudence. This illustrious patron of Socinianism succeeded so far in his designs, as to gain the favour of Frederic III. king of Denmark; Christian Albert, duke of Holstein ; and Charles Lewis, elector palatine; and thus had alınost obtained a secure retreat and settlement for the Socinians, about the year 1662, at Altena, Frederickstadt, and Manheim; but his measures were disconcerted, and all his hopes entirely frustrated by the opposition and remonstrances of the clergy established in these countries; he was opposed in Denmark by Suaningius, bishop of Zealand, in Holstein by Reinboth, and in the palatinate by John Lewis Fabricius, Several other attempts were made, in different countries, in favour of
m The learned Gustavus George Zeitner, formerly professor of divinity in the academy of Altorf, composed an ample and learned account of this theological revolution, drawn principally from manuscript records, which was published at Leipsic, in the year 1729, in two volumes, in 4to. by Gebauer, under the following title ; Historia Crypto Socinianismi, Altorfinc quondam Academiæ infesti, arcana.
n We have a circumstantial account of the flourishing state of the Racovian academy, while it was under the direction of the learned Martin Ruarus, in the Cimbria Literata of Mollerus, tom. i. p. 572, where we learn that Ruarus was a native of Holstein, who became a proselyte to the Socinian system
o Epistola de Wissowatii vita in Sandii Biblioth. Antitrinitar. p. 233. Gust. Georg. Zettrreri Historia Crypto Socinianismi Altorfini, vol. i. p. 299.
The fate of
p Stanislai Lubieniecii Historia Reformat. Polonicæ; lib. iii. c. xvii. xviii. p. 279. Equitis Poloni Vindiciæ pro Unitariorum in Polonca Religionis libertate apud Sandium, in Biblioth. Antitrinitar. p. 267.
q Lubieniecii Historia Reformat. Polon. cap. xviii. p. 285, where there is a letter writ. ten by the Socinians of Crossen.
r See Sandii, Bibliotheca Antitrinitar. p. 165. Historia Vitæ Lubieniecii, prefixed to his Historia Reformationis Polonicæ, p. 7, 8. Molleri Introductio in Histor. Chersones. Cimbricæ, p. ii. p. 105, and his Cimbria Literata, tom. i. p. 487. Jo. Henr. Heideggeri Vita Joh. Lud. Fabricii, subjoined to the works of the latter, p. 38.
Socinianism ; but their success was still less considerable; nor could any of the European nations be persuaded to grant a public settlement to a sect, whose members denied the divinity of Christ.
v. The remains therefore of this unfortunate community are, at this day, dispersed through different countries, particularly in the kingdoms of England and Prussia, the electorate of Brandenburg, and the United Provinces, where they lie more or less concealed, and hold their religious assemblies in a clandestine manner. They are indeed said to exercise their religion publicly in England, not in consequence of a legal toleration, but through the indulgent connivance of the civil magistrate. Some of them have embraced the communion of the Arminians; others have joined with that sect of the Anabaptists that
r rr The Socinians in England have never made any figure as a community, but have rather been dispersed among that great variety of sects ihat have arisen in a country where liberty displays its most glorious fruits, and at the same time exhibits its most striking inconveniences. Beside, few ecclesiastics, or writers of any note, have adopted the theological system now under consideration, in all its branches. The socinian doctrine, relating to the design and efficacy of the death of Christ, had indeed many abettors in England during the XVIIth century; and it may be presumed,, without temerity, that its votaries are rather increased than diminished in the present but those divines who have abandoned the Athanasian hypothesis, concerning the Trio nity of persons in the Godhead, have more generally gone into the Arian and Semiarian notions of that inexplicable subject, than into those of the Socinians, who deny that Jesus Christ existed before his appearance in the human nature. The famous John Biddle, after having maintained, both in public and in private, during the reign of Charles, and the protectorship of Cromwell, the Unitarian system, erected an independent congregation in London, which is the only British church we have heard of, in which all the peculiar doctrines of Socinianism were inculcated; for, if we may give credit to the account of Sir Peter Pett, this congregation held the following notions : “ That the fathers under the old covenant had only temporal promises; that saving faith consisted in universal obedience performed to the commands of God and Christ; that Christ arose again only by the power of the Father, and not his own; that justifying faith is not the pure gift of God, but may be acquired by men's natural abilities, that faith cannot believe any thing contrary to, or ahove reason; that there is no original sin ; that Christ hath not the same body now in glory, in which he suffered and rose again ; that the saints shall not have the same body in heaven which they had on earth; that Christ was not Lord or King before his resurrection, or Priest before his ascension; that the saints shall not, before the day of judgment, enjoy the bliss of heaven; that God doth not certainly know future contingencies; that there is not any authority of fathers or general councils in determining matters of faith ; that Christ, before his death, had not any dominion over the angels, and that Christ, by dying, made not satisfaction for us." See the preface to Sir Peter Pett's Happy Future State of England, printed at London in 1688.
s The Socinians, who reside at present in the district of Mark, used to meet, some years ago, at stated times, at Koningswald, a village in the neighbourhood of Francfort on the Oder. See the 'Recueil de Lit. rature, de Philosophie et d'Histoire,' published at Amsterdam in the year 1731, in 8vo.* p. 44. They published, in the year 1716, at Berlin, their confession of faith, in the German language, which is to be found, with a refutation thereto annexed, in a book entitled 'Den Theologischen Heb. Opfern.' part
X. p. 852.
* The author of this collection was one Jordan, who was pastor of a church in the neighbourhood of Berlin.
are distinguished by the name of Galenists; and in this there is nothing at all surprising, since neither the Arminians nor anabaptists require from those that enter into their communion an explicit or circumstantial declaration of their religious sentiments. It is also said, that a considerable number of this dispersed community became members of the religious society called Collegiants. Amidst these perpetual changes and vicissitudes, it was not possible that the Socinians could maintain a uniform system of doctrine, or preserve unaltered and entire the religious tenets handed down to them by their ancestors. On the contrary, their peculiar and distinctive opinions are variously explained and understood both by the learned and illiterate members of their community, though they all agree in rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, and that also of the divinity and satisfaction of Jesus Christ.“
VI. After the Socinians, as there is a great affinity between the two sects, it is proper to mention the Arians, who had several celebrated writers in this Arians. century, such as Sandius and Biddle. Of those who also passed under the general denomination of Antitrinitarians and Unitarians, there are many that may be placed in the class of the Socinians and Arians; for the term Unitarian is very comprehensive, and is applicable to a great variety of persons, who, notwithstanding, agree in this common principle, that there is no real distinction in the divine nature.” The denomination of Arian is also given in general to all who consider Jesus Christ as inferior and subordi
Ft This community, of which there is an account given in the beginning of the following chapter, called their religious meetings collegies, a Dutch word, which signifies congregation or assembly, and hence they were denominated collegiants.
u Many examples might be alleged in proof of this; it will be sufficient to mention that of the learned Crellius, who, though he was professor of theology among the socinians, yet differed in his opinions, about many points of doctrine, from the sentiments of Socinus and the Racovian catechism, and would not be called a Socinian, but an Artemonite.* See the Journal Literaire, tom. xvii. p. i. p. 150, and the account I have given of this celebrated man in my Syntagm. Dissertationum ad sanctiores Disciplinas pertinentium, p. 352. Unschuld. Nachricht, 1750, p. 942. Nouveau Diction. Historique et Critique, tom. ii. p. ii. p. 88. Do This last citation is erroneous; there is no account of Crellius in the place here referred to.
w For an account of Sandius, father and son, see Arnold and other writers. The life of Biddle is to be found in the Nouveau Diction. Historique et Critique, tom. i. p. ii. p. 288.
T Dr. Mosheim places Biddle improperly among the Arians; it is manifest that he belongs to the Socinians, since, in the third article of his confession of faith, he professeth to believe that Christ has no other than a human nature. See the Socinian Tracts, entitled 'The faith of one God,'&c. published at London, in 4to. in 1691. See also above, note rr.
D * After Artemon, who lived under the reign of the emperor Severus, and denied the pre-existence and divinity of Jesus Christ.