Edmund Alexander De Schweinitz.

The history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr online

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wishes of the Brethren, Andrew Prazmowski spoke of them
"with great reverence;" said that they were a body of
Christians that, for one hundred and fifty years, since the time

implies, but a Eeformed minister formally commissioned to represent the
Unity. Why Israel and other of its leaders were not present is not known ;
its influence however was, on that account, not lost, since Turnovius, in spite
of his youth, took a very prominent part in the Synod.

'* Fischer, II. p. 181. In Poland Turnovius was often called Bogomil.


of Hus, had defended the Confession of their Faith not only
with the pen and in books, but also with their own blood ;
and earnestly commended this Confession to the favorable
notice of the Synod. In conclusion he delivered two letters
from the Bishops excusing their unavoidable absence and
giving utterance to the hope, that the Polish Confession of
their Church would be accepted as the common doctrinal

The next step which was taken showed that the men
assembled at Sendomir were determined, whatever their
decision with regard to formulated creeds might eventually
be, to fling out, at the very beginning of their deliberations,
an unspotted banner of scriptural faith. The members were
called on to confess their belief in the Holy Trinity, in order
that, if any Tritheists,^^ or Socinians, or followers of Stancarus
should prove to be present, they might be excluded from the
Synod. Such an exclusion was actually carried out in the
case of several ministers who were found to be tainted with
these heresies.

And now was broached that delicate question upon which
hinged either the success or the failure of the entire under-
taking. What basis should be given to the projected alliance ?
Gilovius urged the Helvetic Confession. It had, he said,
been recently translated into Polish.^^ Let this version,
together with the Preface specially prepared for it, be
adopted, published and presented to the king, as the common
symbol of his Protestant subjects. This proposal called forth
an animated debate. Nicholas Gliczner avowed his intention

^^ The name by which the followers of Gregory Pauli were known.

'« Lukaszewicz, p. 61, says that this was the Confessio Tigurina, but he
undoubtedly means the Confessio Helvetica posterior, (The Second Helvetic
Confession), published at Tiguri, that is, Zurich, in 1566, and written by
Bullinger. There is technically no Confessio Tigurina but a Consensus
Tigurinus, which relates only to the Lord's Supper and predestination. It
is not likely that this was translated into Polish, and less likely that it
should be adopted by the Polish Reformed. The Conf. Hel. posterior is
found in Niemeyer's Collectio Confessionum, p. 462, etc.; comp. Schaff's
Creeds of Christendom, I. p. 390, and III. p. 233, etc.


of standing by the Augustana " until death ;" and took occa-
sion to inveigh against the Brethren, because they were
Waldenses, had many Confessions, and in matters of doctrine
were altogether unstable. Erasmus Gliczner endorsed what
his brother had said, adding that there existed no Confession
which the Reformed of Poland could claim. This roused
Mysskowski, who warmly maintained the contrary and, at the
the same time, defended the Brethren. Other members also
spoke in their favor. Luther himself, it was said, had
approved of their Confession. At last Turnovius, who had
made several iueifectual attempts to speak, obtained the floor.
He delivered a long address, showing that the Brethren were
not Waldenses ; that, in Poland, they acknowledged but one
Confession ; that this Confession had been presented to the
King and ably defended against the attacks of the Roman
Catholics ; and that, for these reasons, it ought to take, in so
far as the Polish Churches were concerned, the precedence
over all other creeds.'^ He spoke modestly but with much
spirit, and his speech won general approbation, except from
Erasmus and Nicholas Gliczner. These two honest but
head-strong brothers reiterated their assertions, and began to
manifest a tendency so directly in opposition to the end for
which the Synod had been called, that the Presidents became
alarmed, and — an attempt to bring it to a vote resulting in a
new and acrimonius discussion — peremptorily ordered an
adjournment after Zborowski and Karminski had appealed to
the Lutheran delegates not to cast obstacles in the way of a

At the opening of the third session, Tuesday, April the
eleventh, Sylvius preached on the words of the Psalmist
133: 1: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for
brethren to dwell together in unity." Neither this theme nor
the appeals of the previous day seemed to have conciliated
Erasmus and Nicholas Gliczner. When the Helvetic Con-
fession was again taken up they refused to vote, which so

'' The address of Turnovius is found in full in his journal.


exasperated the other members and betrayed them into such
sharp words, that the Presidents ordered a recess until the
afternoon. On reassembling, there took place, as previously
agreed upon, a public disputation with Alexander Vitrelius,
a leading Antitrinitarian, who succumbed to the arguments of
Turnovius in particular.^^

The next morning, Wednesday, April the twelfth, Praz-
mowski having preached the introductory sermon, the fourth
session began and led to an important measure. At the
instance of the Palatine of Cracow, the Helvetic Confession
was taken out of the hands of the Synod and referred to a
committee for further examination.

This committee, consisting of the two representatives of the
Brethren's Church, the three Lutheran delegates, and six Re-
formed members, among Avhom were Mysskowski, Zborowski,
Gilovius and Sylvius, met in Zborowski's j)alace. Two
points were to be decided : first, does the Helvetic Confession
harmonize with the Holy Scriptures? second, if it does, will
the Brethren and the Lutherans unite with the Reformed in
accepting it as the basis of that confederate union which these
three Churches desire to establish ? Prazmowski and Turno-
vius were first asked for their opinion. After having con-
sulted in private, the former, while once more expressing his
strong convictions that the Confession of the Brethren would
prove to be a better common ground, declared, in their name,
that he was nevertheless willing to accept the Helvetic Con-
fession. Thereupon Turnovius, urged by all present to give
his views, spoke as follows :

" Gracious lords and beloved brethren : The Bohemian
Brethren are moved by grave and weighty reasons in proposing
that their Confession, which has been presented to the King,
should be accepted by you all. Some of these reasons have been
set forth in the letters which they sent you ; still other reasons
have been made known to me. Nevertheless, inasmuch as the

^' Trecius and Tenaudus, two divines, had been appointed to speak for the
Synod ; but their arguments were so weak that Turnovious, who happened
to sit between them, could not resist prompting them. Instead of resenting
this, Trecius asked that he be permitted to take part in the disputation.


Bohemian Brethren, at the same time, earnestly desire that the
Church of God may be built up and strengthened, and inasmuch
as they do what they can to bring about this end, — I believe that
when they will have been informed of your reasons for advocating
the Helvetic Confession as a common ground on which thus to
unite the Church and increase its power, they will interpose no
further objections. As regards myself, having, long ago, read
this Confession and convinced myself that its doctrines are pure ;
that they harmonize with our Confession ; that it is drawn up
according to the same plan as ours, but perhaps in a more com-
plete and intelligible way ; — I find no fault with it, but accept it
as correct and as our own."

These words awakened the liveliest satisfaction among the
Reformed members of the committee, and moved Myssowski
even to tears. But Turnovius, in order that he might not
be misunderstood, hastened to add : " Gracious lords, be
pleased to take notice, that I have accepted the Helvetic
Confession as our own upon this condition only, that you
will not expect the Brethren to relinquish the Confession
which they already have, but that they will be free to adhere
to that also, as they have ever done." " God forbid," replied
Myssowski, " that we should ask the Brethren to reject their
own Confession!" "Verily," added Zborowski, "we will
rather strive to imitate them by introducing among ourselves
a better church -government and discipline."

Every eye was now fixed upon the Lutherans. What
would they do? The Palatine of Cracow begged them to
yield their preferences for the Augustana and thus promote
the glory of God and further the prosperity of His Church.
The Palatine of Sendomir delivered a lengthy address
appealing to them to weigh well the incalculable importance
of the undertaking in which the Synod was engaged, and
intimating that Sigismund Augustus would become a Prot-
estant if a union would be brought about among the
Protestant churches of his kingdom. " For God's sake," he
continued, " remember what depends upon the result of our
deliberations, and incline your hearts to that harmony and
that love which the Lord has commanded us to follow above
everything else." He spoke with deep feeling, and broke off


suddenly, choked with tears. The Palatine of Cracow sobbed
aloud. All present were profoundly moved. A sudden out-
pouring of the spirit of love took place. Their hearts flowed
together and, in a moment, every obstacle vanished. They
themselves scarcely knew what was transpiring, except that
God had revealed to them the beauty and glory of a union in
His Son.^^ When they had grown calmer it was agreed, at
the instance of the brothers Gliczner, that none of the existino-
Confessions should be adopted, but that a new Confession
should be prepared to which the three Protestant churches of
Poland, without relinquishing their own creeds, should hold
in common.^'' Meauwhile a Consensus should be drawn up,
making known that a confederate union had been established
among them and setting forth the conditions of this alliance.

In the afternoon the committee reported to the Synod ; the
report was accepted with joyful unanimity ; and Trecius and
Tenaudus were appointed to draft the Consensus. A resolu-
tion which was now adopted, that no heterodox ministers
should be admitted to the union, unless they recanted, induced
seven divines to come forward and publicly renounce the heresy
of Stancarus. Immediately after the adjournment a committee,
composed of Karminski, Prazmowski, Turnovius, Erasmus
and Nicholas Gliczner, revised the draft of the Consensus.

The fifth session, Thursday, April the thirteenth, was
opened with an address by Jacob Sylvius, congratulating the
Synod that its work had not been in vain, but that an alliance
had been formed to the glory of God and the prosperity of
His Church. Thereupon the Consensus, as adopted by the
committee, was read. The Lutheran delegates having

" Turnovius says in his journal, Lukaszewicz, p. 78 : " Weiter weiss ich
hier nichts zu sagen, denn zuweilen wussten wir selber nicht was vorgehe.
Mit einem Worte, jene Vereinigung iiberraschte uns, mit wunderbarer
Schnelligkeit die Hindernisse uns dem Wege raumend."

^^ This Confession was to be prepared at Warsaw, about Whitsuntide, at
a meeting of the theologians of all the three churches ; but such a meeting
never took place, and the proposed Confession did not appear. This was
probably owing to the fact, that, in time, the Consensus was deemed to be a
sufficient doctrinal symbol.


obtained permission to retire and examine this document
privately, returned it with several emendations touching the
Lord's Supper. A warm debate instantly sprang up which,
for a time, threatened to mar the new-born harmony. At
last, however, it was agreed to adopt, in the definition of the
Lord's Supper, the words, " the real presence of Christ," and
to incorporate the entire article of the Confessio Saxonica
with regard to this sacrament.^^ This vexed question having
been finally settled, four copies of the Consensus were prepared
and signed.

On the next day, Friday, April the fourteenth, the Synod
met for the last time. The Consensus was read again and
unanimously adopted ; the members pledging themselves to a
faithful observance of all its articles. And now were heard,
on every side, hearty congratulations, earnest prayers, fervent
thanksgiving and praise. Erasmus Gliczner, remembering
his recent factiousness, spoke words that had the true ring.
The fellowship of the Lutherans with the Brethren and the
Reformed should be close, firm, enduring : the Brethren had
"always sought the welfare of the Church of God and the
glory of the Lord :" they and the Lutherans ought to meet,
ere long, in a special Synod, in order to publicly set a seal
to the alliance which had been formed. Other divines
expressed similar sentiments ; the faces of the two Palatines
were radiant with joy ; this last session grew into a jubilee of
love and peace. Before the final adjournment was ordered
the members solemnly pledged each other their right hands ;
and thus, amidst renewed thanksgiving to God, the Synod of
Sendomir was brought to a close.

A few days after Whitsuntide the Synod proposed by
Gliczner took place at Posen (May the twentieth). There
were present several magnates and a large number of divines,
including Bishop Israel, John Lorenz, Turnovius, Erasmus
and Nicholas Gliczner. Twenty articles, supplementary to

*^ The Confessio Saxonica was presented, by the Lutherans, to the Council
of Trent, in 1551.


the Consensus Sendomirensis, were reported. While this
report was under discussion, the people gathered in front of
the hall where the Synod was sitting, anxious to learn the
issue; and as soon as the articles had been adopted and
signed, Erasmus Gliczner opened the door and announced
this result.^^ Then raising, by a common impulse, the
Ambrosian Te Deum, the members of the Synod stood up,
the Lutherans advancing to meet the Brethren, the Brethren
advancing to meet the Lutherans, and both grasping each
others' hands with fervent love. The people without looked
on, deeply aifected, and joined in the hymn.

But a still more memorable and solemn evidence of this
fellowship w^as given. In the morning of the first Sunday
after Trinity (May the twenty-eighth), the Brethren moved,
in procession, from their church, in the suburbs of St.
Adalbert, to the Lutheran church, in the Gorka palace, on
Water Street. At the portal they were welcomed by the
Lutherans, and then the two congregations united in a
common worship of God ; John Lorenz preaching in Polish,
and Balthasar Eichner in German, and both wearing the
gown. In the afternoon the Lutherans formed a procession
and proceeded from their church to that of the Brethren,
where a second union service took place, Nicholas Gliczner
preaching in Polish, and Abraham Abdel in German, both with-
out the gown. At the close the Te Deum was once more sung.

The Consensus Sendomiriensis, to which a seal was thus
publicly set, reads as follows :^^

" These articles were very important, inasmuch as they carried the
alliance into practice, especially at such places where both the Brethren
and the Lutherans had established themselves; providing rules for the
mutual relations of the members and ministers, for communing in each
others' churches, for the exercise of discipline by one Church, without any
interference on the part of the others, etc. The document containing these
articles is found in Jablonski's Hist. Send., pp. 195-200, bearing the title :
Consignatio observationum necessarium ad confirmandum mutuum
Consensnm, etc. For a German version compare LuKaszewicz, pp. 84-86.

" The Consensus was originally written in Latin and translated into
Polish. It was frequently published. In 1586 Erasmus Gliczner. John


Consensus in the chief Articles of the Christian Religion betiveen
the Churches of Great and Little Poland, Russia, Lithuania
and Samogitia, which, in view of the Augsburg Confession, the
Confession of the Bohemian Brethren and the Helvetic Confes-
sion, have in some measure appeared to differ from each other.
Adopted at the Synod of Sendomir, in the year of our Lord
1570, on the fourteenth of April.

After long and frequent disputes with the sectarian Tritheists,
Ebionites and Anabaptists,^* and after having at last been deliv-
ered, by the grace of God, from such great and lamentable con-
troversies, the Polish reformed and orthodox churches, which,
according to the assertions of the enemies of the Truth and of
the Gospel, seemed not to agree in some points and formulas of
doctrine, have thought proper, induced by love of peace and
concord, to convene a Synod and to testify to a complete and
mutual agreement. We have, therefore, held a friendly and
Christian conference and have established, with united hearts,
the following points :

First, Not only we who have presented our Confession of Faith
to this Synod,^^ but also the Bohemian Brethren have always
believed, that the adherents of the Augsburg Confession teach
nothing but pious and orthodox doctrines with regard to God,
the Holy Trinity, the incarnation of the vSon of God, justification
and other fundamental articles of faith. In the same way the
followers of the Augsburg Confession have honestly testified,
that they do not find in the Confession of our churches, or in
that of the Bohemian Brethren, whom some ignorant men call
Waldenses, any doctrines with regard to God, the Holy Trinity,
the incarnation of the Son of God, justification and other funda-
mental articles of faith, at variance with orthodox truth and the
pure Word of God. We have, therefore, mutually and solemnly
promised each other, that we will, with united strength and
according to the dictates of the Divine Word, defend this our
Consensus, embracing as it does the pure and true Christian faith,
against Papists, Sectaries and all other enemies of the Gospel and
of the Truth.

Lorenz and Paul Gilovius conjointly edited the document; in 1592
Turnovius issued a new edition with the Polish version appended. The
original is found in the Appendix to Camerarii Hist. Narratio de Frat.
Ecc, pp. 9-16 ; Jablonski's Hist. Con. Send. p. 189, etc.; Niemeyer's Conf.,
p. 553, etc.; German translations are given in Fischer's Lukaszewicz, p. 75,
etc.; Fisher's Kef. in Polen, I. pp. 164, etc.; Croeger, II. p. 45, etc.; and an
English version appears in Krasinski, I. p. 383, etc. This English version
is, however, so faulty as to be often almost unintelligible.

** A name for the Antitrinitarians.

'^ The Eeformed are meant.


Next, in so far as the unhappy controversy about the Lord's
Supper is concerned, we have agreed to hold fast to the meaning,
of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, as these have been properly
interpreted by the Church Fathers, and by Irenaeus in particular,
who says that this mystery consists of two things, the one earthly
and the other heavenly. We do not assert that the elements
only, therefore mere empty symbols, are present, but teach that
these elements, at the same time and in fact, give to the believer
and impart to him through faith that which they signify. To
speak more plainly, we have agreed to believe and confess, that
they do not only signify the substantial presence of Christ, but
that to those who partake of the Communion the body and blood
of the Lord are in it represented, distributed and given, inasmuch
as the symbols come to be the thing itself, and consequently,
according to the nature of the sacraments, are not mere symbols.
In order, however, that different modes of expressing this truth
may not lead to new controversies, we have thought proper to
accept, besides the article contained in our own Confession, that
article with regard to the Lord's Supper which is found in the
Confession of the Saxon Churches as laid, in 1551, before the
Council of Trent. To this article we mutually consent. Its
words are the following :

" Baptism and the Lord's Supper are pledges and testimonials
of grace, which remind us of the promises and of the entire work
of redemption, showing that the benefits of the Gospel belong to
all those who make use of these rites," etc.

Further : " No one is admitted to the Lord's Supper who has
not been examined and absolved by his pastor, or his pastor's
assistant. At such examinations the ignorant are questioned
with regard to and instructed in Christian faith generally,
whereupon the forgiveness of sins is announced to them. We
likewise teach men that the sacraments are rites instituted by
God, and that, unless used as instituted by Him, they do not in
themselves constitute sacraments; but that in the use of the
Communion as instituted by the Lord, Christ is really and
substantially (vere et substantial iter) present, and Christ's body
and blood are distributed to the communicants; and further,
that Christ testifies that He is in them and makes them His
members and has washed them with His blood." In short all
the words of this article.

We have also thought that it would serve to establish this our
mutual and holy Consensus, if, even as the (Lutheran brethren)
have pronounced us and our churches and our Confession, com-
municated at this Synod, as also the Confession of the Bohemian
Brethren, orthodox, we, on our part, show their (Lutheran)
churches the same Christian love and pronounce them orthodox.
We will put an end to and bury in perpetual silence all those
controversies, strifes and differences by which the progress of the


Gospel has been hindered, grave offence given to many pious
souls, and an opportunity to our enemies grievously to malign us
and oppose our true aud Christian faith. We rather pledge
ourselves to promote jjeace and public tranquility, to show love
one to another, and with united hearts, agreeably to our fraternal
union, to strive to build up the Church.

At the same time we further pledge ourselves zealously to
persuade and invite our brethren, to accept and sustain and
further and strengthen this our Christian aud unanimous Con-
sensus, especially through the hearing of the Divine Word and
the use of the sacraments in each other's churches, but in such a
way that the rules of discipline and the ritual of each church be
observed. For our present agreement and union leave the ritual
and ceremonies of each church free. It is not essential what
ritual is used, if only the doctrine and the foundation of our
faith and of salvation remain pure and orthodox. This the
Augsburg and Saxon Confessions teach, and we have said the
same thing in our Confession, presented at this Synod. We
therefore promise to assist each other mutually with good advice
and the works of love, and to do our utmost, as members of one
body, to preserve and promote the growth of the pious, orthodox,
reformed (Protestant) Church throughout the whole kingdom as
also in Lithuania and Samogitia. If these (the churches in
Lithuania and Samogitia) resolve to convene General Synods,
they are to inform us, and are not to decline appearing at our
Synods, if they are invited and their presence seems necessary.
In order to give to this our Consensus and union the proper
stability, we believe that it will tend to the maintenance of our
brotherly fellowship, if we meet somewhere and deduce from our
several Confessions of Faith a short compendium of doctrine —
the wickedness of the enemies of the Truth constrains us to this
— so that, to the comfort of the godly, we may silence men that
are inimically disposed. This we will do in the name of all the
reformed (Protestant) churches of Poland, Lithuania and
Samogitia which are in harmony with our Confession of Faith.

We have mutually pledged each other the right hand of
fellowship and solemnly promised to live at peace, to further
peace more and more, to avoid all occasions for strife. And
now, finally, we covenant together not to seek our own interests,
but as becometh true servants of God, to promote the glory of
our Saviour Jesus Christ alone, and both by precept and by
works, to spread the truth of the Gospel.

And in order that all this may be auspiciously kept and
remain firm and unalterable, we fervently pray God, the Father,

Online LibraryEdmund Alexander De SchweinitzThe history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr → online text (page 32 of 64)