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

. (page 39 of 64)
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 39 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

There follows a preface iu which the Bishops inform their
clergy why this Bible is published. A second preface is ad-
dressed to the reader and contains an account of the origin and
arrangement of the entire work. At the end of the volume
are five synoptical tables. The first treats of the division of
the divine laAV into the moral, ceremonial and civil ; the second
sets forth those passages iu the Pentateuch which contain the
commandments of the moral law ; the third presents, accord-
ing to Origen, such passages as relate to the worship of God,
to priests and sacrifices, and to whatever else is embraced in
the ceremonial law ; the fourth contains, again according to
Origen, the various statutes belonging to the civil law ; and
the fifth gives passages encouraging men to prize and diligently
keep the entire law of God. " I find these five tables," says
Eisner, " to be very good. They serve an intelligent reader

'•* The title pages of the books published by the Brethren were frequently
ornamented with an Agnus Dei, because it constituted the device on tlieir
episcopal seal, with the legend : Vicit agnus nosier, eum sequamur. Tliis
seal was made over to the Renewed U. F., when it obtained the episcopal
Buccessiou througli .Jablonsky, and is still in use.


as a compendious Concordance to the Pentateuch and enable
him to ffain a clear idea of the Mosaic law in all its various

Volume II. — Biblj Ccske Djk druhy, w nowe loydany Leta

" The Second Part of the Bohemian Bible, published anew in
the year of the Lord 1580."

On the reverse side of the title-page is given a list of the
Books, from Joshua to Esther, contained in this volume.

Volume III. — BibJj Ceske Djk tretj, w wydany Leta Pane

"The Third Part of the Bohemian Bible, published anew in
the year 1582."

On the reverse side of the title-page we find a list of the
Books, from Job to the Song of Solomon, embraced in this
volume. The Book of Job is supplied with a preface holding
him up as an example of patience ; and an introduction to the
Psalms treats of their importance, of their titles and authors,
and of the order in which they are given. It is that of the
Hebrew Bible and not that of the Septuagint, which latter
order was observed in the other Bohemian versions ; but the
ninth Psalm is divided into two parts, while the one hundred
and forty-sixth and the one hundred and forty-seventh are
combined into one. At the head of each Psalm the numbers
according to the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint are both given.

Volume IV. — Biblj Ceske Djk divrty, w nowe wydany Leta


" The Fourth Part of the Bohemian Bible, published anew in
the year 1587."

On the reverse side of the title-page is a list of the Pro-
phetical Books, from Isaiah to Malachi ; the next page begins
with a preface treating of the importance and excellency of
these writings, and of the rules to be observed in reading them.

Volume V. — Biblj Ceske Djk paty, w neniz se Knihy ty,
kterez sau nazioany Apokryfi'a, pokladagj. W nowe wydany


" The Fifth Part of the Bohemian Bible, in which those Books
which are called the Apocrypha usually stand. Published anew
in the year 1588."

Ou the reverse side of the title-page is found a list of the
Apocryphal Books ; a lengthy preface treats of their impor-
tance and of the way in which they ought to be read.

Volume VI. — Bihij Ceske JDjk ssesty, totiz Noioy Zahon.
W nowe wydany Leta Pdne MDXCIII.

" The Sixth Part of the Bohemian Bible, that is, the New
Testament. Published anew in the year of the Lord 1593."

On the reverse side of the title-page is a list of the Books
of the New Testament ; to each Book is prefixed a summarv
of its contents. At the end of the volume is a Table of the
Pericopes appointed for the ecclesiastical year.

These six volumes are quarto in form, and printed on good,
stout paper, in beautiful Latin type ; the outer margin of each
page contains annotations ou the text, and the inner, references
to parallel passages, as also brief summaries of the contents.
Nemcansky and Ariston furnished the greater part of the
commentary. In order to give an idea of its character we
here present a few extracts translated into English from the
German of Czerwenka, who has rendered them from the
original Bohemian : ^^

Matthew 26 : 26. ''And as they were eating, Jesus took bread,
and Messed it, (or gave thanks,) — He gave thanks to His Father
for the work of redemption which was soon to be finished, in re-
membrance of which He instituted the sacrament of His body
and blood : — or He blessed ordinary bread to this particular
purpose, so that it might become the sacrament of His body, and
thus be distinguished from all other bread — and brake it, — not
only in order that it might the more easily be distributed among
His disciples, but also as a symbol and testimony, that He would
himself be broken on the Cross for our sins, that He would give
himself as a ransom for all believers so that, through His merits,
there would be a communion among them — and gave it to the dis-
ciples, — as a sign and an assurance, that He gave to them Him-
self, the true bread of life, for the strengthening of their fellow-
ship and for the nourishment of their souls, — a7id said. Take, eat;
this is my body, — this bread, which I break, or this sacrament,

" Czerwenka, II. pp. 501 and 502.


which I institute, is a mighty testimony and proof, that my body
is given for you unto death, that it is crucified, broken as it were,
and prepared as delicious food for your souls ; this body is given
unto death for the life of the world, laid as it were upon the
table, that it may be partaken of in faith.

Romans 9 : 8-11. That is, They which are the children of the
flesh, — begotten according to the flesh, as there still are many
false Christians, who indeed have a name, but not the truth —
these are not the children of God : but the children of the proniise —
who have been chosen by* God through free grace as His children
— are counted for the seed, — such are those to whom God has pro-
mised that He would be their gracious God. For this is the word
of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. —
Some one might perhaps think, that Isaac was chosen on account
of his mother, a believing and righteous woman, and that Ish-
mael was rejected on account of his proud and perverse mother.
But the example of Jacob and Esau shows the contrary ; for
although they were the children of the same father and mother,
Esau, and he the first-born, was rejected, while Jacob, through
grace, was chosen of God— ^nd not only this; but when Rebecca
also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac ; for the children
being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, — whereby
they might have merited the wrath or the grace of God — that the
purpose of God, — according to which He ordained whom, through
grace. He would save, and whom, in consequence of His justice.
He would condemn — according to election, might stand, not oj
works, but of him that calleth;—the purpose of God rests upon His
electing and rejecting ; for those whom He has elected unto eternal
life. He has also purposed to save, and those whom He has rejected.
He means to condemn.

1 Peter 3: 19, 20. By which also he went and preached —
through Noah, the preacher of righteousness, that which served
to awaken repentance and faith. Or as others interpret the words:
Christ came and preached, and thus caused the power of His
death and merits to be experienced not only by the living but also
by those long dead, in that He made known to them that power
— fmfo the spirits in prison; — those who had long ago died, whose
spirits however, separated from their bodies, had come, on account
of their unbelief and impenitent lives, into the prison of everlast-
ing damnation. Which sometime were disobedient, when once the
long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah,— not in vain has
the Spirit of the Lord made use of the word " once ;" He meant to
show that the time which God has fixed, is limited ; whoever
neglects this time, has no other for repentance.

Revelation 11 : 3. And I urill give power unto my two wit-
nesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-
score days, clothed in sackcloth. — In comparison with the number
of Antichrist's deceivers, I will intrust my city and the temple of


my holy Church, to but a few iusignificant and despised ones
among my servants, as it were to but one or two of them ; never-
theless they shall, in unity, accomplish my work and mutually
support each other ; and shall prove themselves sufficient as wit-
nesses unto the truth, which shall be established in the mouth of
two or three witnesses, so that in the presence of wisdom like unto
theirs the enemies will not be able to lift up their heads. Such
servants, in ancient times, were Elijah, Micha, Zerubbabel, Josiah,
and those disciples of the Lord who went out " two and two;" in
later times. Master John Hus, Jerome of Prague and others."

In 1596 a second and cheajDer edition of the Kralitz Bible
was published, in one quarto volume. The title reads as
follows :

Biblj Swata, to gest, Kniha, w niz se wssecka Pjsma Swata
Stareho y Noweho Zakona Zdrzugj; w nowe wytissiena a wydana.
Leta Pane MDXCVI.

" The Holy Bible, that is, the Book in which all the Holy
Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are contained : printed
and published anew in the year of the Lord 1596."

The title-page is highly ornamented. At the top appears
the name Jehovah in Hebrew characters ; at the bottom Christ
is represented in a triumphal chariot, leading captive death
and hell ; on the left side Moses with the tables of the law, on
the right, Aaron as high-priest ; within these devices an oval
encircling the title which, with the exception of the two words
to gest, is printed in red letters.

On the reverse side of the page we find the following pas-
sages of Scripture :

"And Abraham saith unto them : They have Moses and the
prophets; let them hear them." (Luke 16 : 29.)

"And he said unto him. If they hear not Moses and the pro-
phets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the
dead." (Luke 16 : 31.)

"And he said unto them. These are the words which I spake
unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be ful-
filled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets,
and in the psalms, concerning me." (Luke 24 : 44.)

" Search the Scriptures ; for in them ye think ye have eternal
life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5 : 39.)

On the next page follows the preface addressed to the minis-
ters of the Unity ; the second preface is omitted ; but a com-


plete Table of all the Books of the Bible is given. The six
divisions of the first edition are kept up, there being, at the
beginning of every new part, an ornamented title in red.
There are eleven hundred and forty pages and each page has
two columns ; on the margins are references to parallel pas-
sages ; between the columns appear the numbers of the verses,
which are not, as in the first edition, distinguished by a new
line but by the sign |. The annotations are omitted. At the
end of the book we find, first, a list of the passages of the Old
Testament cited in the New by Christ and the Apostles ;
second, an alphabetical Register of Hebrew and Chaldee
proper names, with their signification in Bohemian ; third, a
Table of the Pericopes appointed for the ecclesiastical year.

The sixth volume of the first edition, that is, the New Tes-
tament, revised by Zacharias Ariston, was republished in 1601 ;
and a new edition of the entire work, on the plan of the second
edition and again without the commentary, appeared in a folio
volume in 1613.

The Kralitz Bible is not only the first Bohemian version
rendered from the original, but also the first which divided
the chapters into verses and separated the apocryphal from the
canonical books. As a translation, it forms a master-piece ;
its style is pure, idiomatic and beautiful, a standard even at
the present day.

With regard to this point there is but one voice.

Gindely says : "As long as the Bohemian tongue will be
spoken, there can never die the memory of this great work.
It is the type of the development which the Bohemian lan-
guage reached in the sixteenth century." ^^ ''God," writes
Comenius, " has laid such a blessing on this work, that we
have the writings of the prophets and apostles translated into
our own language in a style as beautiful as that found in any
other European version." ^^ When the work first appeared, a
Roman Catholic Bishop openly expressed his profound admira-

ls Gindely, II. p. 309.
'3 Comenii Hist. | 117.


t'on. At a later time, in 1668, the Jesuits of Prague published
an Orthographical Tract, in which occurs the following passage :

" Here is given an excellent method of writing and printing
the Bohemian language correctly, drawn from that Bohemian
Bible which is divided into several parts, furnished with marginal
annotations, and highly esteemed among Protestants. It is true
that this Bible, on account of its heretical errors, is not to be read
or kept by Catholics ; nevertheless because, according to the unan-
imous testimony of all scholars, it presents the Bohemian tongue
in words more idiomatic, beautiful and chaste than other books,
its style deserves to be praised above all measure." "

And yet the Kralitz Bible, more than any other work of the
Brethren, was sought out and destroyed in the time of the
Anti-Reformation. Thousands of copies perished ; but few
remain at the present day.'^ In 1722 the third edition was
reprinted, in a handsome volume, at Halle, for the descendants
of the exiled Bohemians ; and again at Brieg, in Silesia, in
1745. This latter reprint, however, says Malin, "was so in-
ferior that none but the poorest people would purchase it."
The New Testament was frequently republished, between the
years 1709 and 1752, at Halle, Zittau, Lauban, Brieg and
Berlin ; but for a period of two hundred and sixty years,
neither the Old nor the New Testament appeared in Bohemia.
Mere extracts from the latter were issued at Prague, in 1861
and the follovying years. In 1873, however, the "Amos Com-
enius Association," of that city, began the republication, in
beautiful style, of the entire New Testament, with the original
annotations. This work was completed in 1875. It forms a
splendid quarto volume of eight hundred and ninety-two
pages. Moreover the Kralitz version has furnished, word
for word, the text of the Bohemian Bible published by the
British and Foreign Bible Society.

" Kleich's Preface to the N. T. of 1720, cited by Eisner in his Versuch,
etc., pp. 36, 37, Note.

^^ There is a well-preserved copy of the first edition, in six vols., in the
Archives at Herrnhut ; another in the Bohemian Museum at Prague. The
Malin Library, No. 100, contains the third volume, 1582, of the first edition;
a complete copy, No. 350, of the second edition, of 1596, probably the only
one in the U. S.; and a complete copy, No. 36, of the third edition of 1613.



Further History of the Brethren^ Church in Bohemia
and Moravia. A. D. 1594-1607.

Deatlk of Bishops Zacharias, Aeneas and Jessen. — Synod of 1594. — New
Bishops. — Members of the Council. — Enactments of the Synod. — Its
Convocation in 1598. — Doctrine of the Lord's Supper discussed by
Turnovius. — Death of Ephraim. — New Bishops. — Charles von Zerotin.
— His Home and Career. — Accused of trencon and heresy. — His Ac-
quittal. — Plots against the Unity. — Renewal of the Edict of St.
James. — The Brethren lose Jungbunzlau. — Wenzel Budowa. — His
Speech at the Diet. — New Reactionary Measures.

Death was reaping a harvest among the leaders of the
Unity. In 1590, after a faithful service of thirty-eight years,
Bishop Zacharias, the President of the Council, finished his
course;^ in 1594, on the fifth of February, his successor,
Bishop John Aeneas, was called to rest. At New Year,
while on the road from Kauuic to Eibenschiitz, he was at-
tacked and robbed by a party of marauding soldiers. The
shock brought on an illness of which he died, aged fifty-six
years. In him the Unity lost one of its most illustrious rep-
resentatives. A scholar, the Kralitz Bible the splendid
memorial of his fame — he led a life exemplary through its
piety and showed himself to be " a prudent watchman over
the household of God."^

• He died at Slezan, on Wednesday previous to the fourth Sunday in
Lent, not quite sixty-eight years old. Daniel Boreas preached the funeral
sermon, on 2 Tim. 4 : 6-8. Todtenbuch, p. 84.

* Todtenbuch, p. 87.


A few months later, ou tlie twenty-foiirtli of May, Bisliop
Paul Jesseu followed him into eternity. He, too, was a
learned man, mighty in word and deed, of keen understand-
ing, never at a loss for an answer, and very eloquent. But
God had given him a thorn in the flesh, so that he was often
hindered in his public ministrations.'^

In order to fill the vacancies thus created the Synod met at
Prerau and elected to the episcopacy Jacob Narcissus and John
Nemcansky, one of the translators of the Kralitz Bible. They
were consecrated on the fourteenth of July, 1594, by Turnovius
and Ephraim, the only surviving bishops.* jSTarcissus was
eloquent and sagacious ; Nemcansky, distinguished for his learn-
ing, his conscientiousness, his humility before God and man.^

The Synod constituted Turnovius Ecclesiastical Judge for
the Polish churches and President of the Council ; Ephraim
Ecclesiastical Judge for Bohemia and Moravia; Narcissus,
histoi-ian ; and Nemcausky, archivist. Associated with these
Bishops in the Council were the following Assistant Bishops ;
Jacob the Great; John Slavon — elected in 1572, died in 1600,
at Jungbunzlau, a pious, diligent and exemplary man, but
an enemy of learning and bitterly opposed to the marriage of
priests ; Luke Andronik — elected in 1572, died in Poland,
in 1595, surnamed Smelaus, a man of very small stature,
zealous in the work of God ; Paul Sperat — died at Straznic,
in 1601, an earnest laborer in the Lord's vineyard ; Samuel
Susicky — a distinguished scholar, subsequently elevated to the
episcopacy; John Popel ; Zacharias Ariston — elected in 1592,
eventually a leading bishop ; John Albin ; Jacob Alpheus ;
Matthias Ryba ; and Andrew Kolsky.^

' Todtenbuch, p. 88. Jessen was ordained to tlie priesthood at Austerlitz,
in 1576, and elected to the Council in 1584. He died at Bezauchow and
was buried at Drewohostic. The thorn in the flesh, of which the Todten-
buch speaks, was probably some chronic and painful disease.

* Jaffet's S. G., I. p. 22, etc., and II. p. 38, E.'s Z., p. 435.

^ Narcissus was ordained to the priesthood in 1574; Nemcansky in 1584,
and elected to the Council in 1589. Kegenvolscius, p. 320 ; Todtenbuch, p. 91.

« Todtenbuch, pp. 94, 89, 96, 92, 101. A number of the above names are
not mentioned in the Todtenbucli.


Subjects of iniportauce discussed at the Synod Avere : the
publication of a Concordance, the revision of the Kralitz
Bible, and the introduction, in public worship, of instrumen-
tal music. Such music Avas permitted, but moderation in the
use of it was strongly recommended/

At a later convocation, Avhich took place at Jungbunzlau
on the third of June, 1598, the doctrine of the Lord's Supper
received attention. Turuovius introduced this topic and
earnestly contended for the tenet of the fathers : that the
Lord's body is present sacrameutally and spiritually, but that
all further explanations are to be avoided. From this point
of view, he said, the Brethren occupied a middle ground be-
tween the Lutherans and the Calvinists. He added, in words
that have the true ring : " The Unity is not an old woman.
It has grown strong, perfected its doctrines, and reached that
point in its apprehension and explanation of the truths of the
Holy Scriptures which renders it unnecessary that it should
be learning of other churches, but rather gives it the right
to be their teacher."^

The principle urged by Turnovius Avas ancAv accepted ; and
he received permission to publish an elaborate Avork, Avhich he
had prepared, on the Lord's Supper. Gindely asserts that,
six years later, in 1604, the Synod forsook the old position,
formally adopted the Calvinistic doctrine and engrafted it
upon the Brethren's Church.^ This Ave deem to be an incor-
rect view of the case. That a majority of the Synod declared
in favor of the Reformed dogma, is true ; but that Bishop
Ariston protested against this declaration, that the tenet of the
fathers was not condemned, and that the definition of the
Lord's Supper as set forth in the Confessions Avas not changed,
all this is equally true. The course pursued by the majority
formed one of those doctrinal fluctuations which occasionally
took place among the Brethren, but Avhich, as Turuovius Avell

"< Deki-ete d. B. U., p. 260, etc., cited by Czerwenka, II. pp. 504, 505.
8 Gindely, II. pp. 328, 329, based upon the Dekrete d. B. U.
" Gindely, II. pp. 344, 345.


said in his address at the Synod of 1598, affected individuals,
not the Unity as such.

On the seventeenth Sunday after Trinity, 1598, Bishop
John Nemcansky died at Drewohostic, after having filled the
episcopal office for but four years. An election was held at
the Synod of 1599, which convened again at Jungbunzlau,
and Samuel Susicky and Zacharias Ariston were chosen.
They received consecration at the hands of Turnovius, Eph-
raim and Narcissus, on the sixth of July, this day being fixed
upon in memory of the martyrdom of John Hus.'" Four
weeks later, Susicky died; on the ninth Sunday after Trinity ;
and in the following year, 1600, John Ephraim passed away,
at Prague, on the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity. Both
these Bishops were buried in Augusta's grave, at Jungbunzlau.

Ephraim was a learned scholar, amiable and fatherly in
his intercourse with men of every rank, but timid and apt
to borrow trouble. The exercise of discipline invariably
caused him a struggle. On such occasions he would seclude
himself, and spend hours in mourning and weeping, as though
he were to do penance instead of imposing it. Of this tender-
heartedness the guilty often took advantage."

The new vacancies in the episcopate were filled, in 1601, by
the election of John Lanetius and Bartholomew Nemcansky,
who was a brother of the deceased Bishop of the same name.
They were consecrated, on the fifth of May, by Turnovius,
Narcissus and Ariston.^^

About this time Baron Charles von Zerotin became prom-
inent. He was born at Brandeis on the Adler, on the four-
teenth of September, 1564. His father was John von Zero-
tin, through whose liberality the Kralitz Bible was published
and who died on the twenty-fifth of February, 1587 ; his
mother, Marianna von Zerotin, belonged to the ancient house
of Bozkowic. After having been carefully trained in the

'» Jaffet's S. G., I. p. 22, etc., II. pp. 38, etc., E.'s Z., p. 437.

1' Todtenbuch, p. 94.

'2 Jaffet's S. G., I. p. 22, etc., and II. p. 38 etc., R.'s Z., p. 437.


schools of the Brethren, he completed his studies at the Uni-
versities of Basle and Geneva. A tour through France,
England, the Netherlands and Germany, brought him into
connection with many distinguished soldiers, statesmen and
theologians. Henry of Navarre excited his deepest admira-
tion and the war which he was carrying on against the Cath-
olics filled him with enthusiam. He looked upon this Prince
as the champion of the true faith and joined his banner.

Zerotin's military career was brilliant ; but his ideals were
shattered. Out of heart, the sacrifices which he had made for
the cause scarcely appreciated, he returned to Moravia in the
same year in which Henry abjured the Protestant religion
(July, 1593). There, in the service of his king, his coun-
try, and his God, he hoped to find a sphere of usefulness.
Accomplished, an eloquent speaker, a graceful writer, a sol-
dier, a statesman, and an earnest Christian, attached with his
whole heart to the Church of the Brethren — he seemed or-
dained to accomplish great things. His exalted rank was

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 39 of 64)