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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in September, a commission proceeded to Poseu in order to
carry out this sentence. The elders of his church begged that
time might be given him for reflection. Accordingly the
commission retired ; but came again in December, when the
same request was made. In January of the following year
several nobles arrived with the determination of putting an
end to such evasions. They sent for Erasmus Gliczner, who
convened the Polish congregation and deposed Luperian ; but
when he attempted to depose Gerike, the German congrega-
tion rose in a body and threatened him with death. He
barely escaped from their hands. Thus Gerike, defiant to
the last, braved the whole Synod. Soon after, however, he
resigned of his own accord and went to Breslau. His place was
filled with a minister favorable to the Consensus and the con-
troversies between the Lutherans and Brethren came to an end.

The -deputation appointed to lay before Sigismund the
grievances of the Protestants, effected nothing. Although it
comprised magnates of the highest rank, he refused to grant
them an audience. Nevertheless the Synod of Thorn served
to awaken among the Protestants the consciousness of strength,
and to convince the Catholics that the reaction which they
were pushing forward, had been but partially successful.
Many Lutheran divines of Germany blamed Gliczner for the
course which he was pursuing; but he remained faithful
to the confederation.

' The enactments were printed'at Thorn in 1596, with the title: Acta
et conclusiones Synodi Generalis Toruniensis A. D. 1595 ruenbe Augusto.
Fischer, II. Anhang, No. 1, p. 395, etc., gives them in full.



Negotiations with the Greek Church and further History of the
Polish Branch of the Unity. A. D. 1595-1607.

The Greek Church in Poland. — Its Union with the Roman Catholic. —
Protest of a Majority of the Adherents of the Greek Faith. — Prince
Ostrogski's Overtures to the Synod of Thorn. — The Yilna Conference. —
Bishop Turnovius its Leader. — His Articles. — First Meeting of the
Conference. — Second Meeting. — Doctrinal Articles. — Projected Union
of Greeks and Protestants fails. — Political Confederation of Vilna. —
Withdrawal of the Lutherans from the Sendomirian Confederation. —
Civil War in Poland.

The Polish dominions contained many followers of the
Greek Church. These Sigisraund the Third determined to
unite with the Church of Rome. His first step in this direc-
tion was unsuccessful ; after a time, however, by the aid of
Possevinns, a wily Jesuit, four Greek bishops, and finally the
Metropolitan of KiefF himself, who had been deposed by the
Patriarch of Constantinople, were induced to favor the project.
A Greek Synod held in 1 594, at Brest, in Lithuania, resolved
on union with Rome and sent delegates to Clement the Eighth.
These delegates, in the name of their constituents, swore
allegiance to' the papal see.^ At a subsequent Synod the

^ At the Council of Florence, in 1438, the Emperor John Paleologus
placed the Eastern Church under the papal see, but the great majority of
the clergy and members of that Church refused to acknowledge the Pope.
Of the project of uniting the National Bohemian Church with the Greek we
have given an account. In the second half of the sixteenth century the
divines of Tubingen carried on a correspondence with the Patriarch of Con-
stantinople and sent him a Greek version of the Augsburg Confession.
Sources for the negotiations set forth in this chapter are: Krasinski, II.
chap. 6 ; Lukaszewicz, pp. 134-144 ; Fischer, II. p. 91, etc. ; Eegenvolscius,
Lib. quartus, Cap III, p. 478, etc.


articles of agreement were signed and all opponents of the
union excommunicated (1596).

But this measure unchurched a majority of the adherents
of the Greek faith. The union did not meet with general
favor. Prince Constantine Ostrogski, Palatine of Kieff, fol-
lowed by the greater part of the magnates and inferior nobles
of that persuasion, protested against the acts of the Synod
of Brest. A large and influential convocation was held at
which the Bishops who had brought about the union were,
in their turn, excommunicated. Thus occurred a schism in
the Greek Church of Poland, nmch to the King's displeasure
who persecuted the schismatic Greeks, as he chose to call them,
and the Protestants alike.

In view of such circumstances Prince Ostrogski made
overtures to the Synod of Thorn, proposing a political and
relig-ious confederation between the Greek and Protestant
bodies. The Synod favored this project and agreed with his
commissioner that representatives of both parties should meet
and arrange the details. More than three years passed by
before such a meeting took place. At last, in the beginning
of 1 599, Count Andrew Leszcynski, a distinguished noble ot
the Brethren's Unity, sought an interview with Prince Os-
trogski and Count Radziwill. These three magnates deter-
mined on Vilna as the place, and the month of May as the
time, for the proposed council. In it were to be represented
the Brethren's Unity, the Lutheran and Reformed Churches,
and the Greek persuasion.

On the thirtieth of April Bishop Turnovius, although he
had but just recovered from a severe illness, left Ostrorog and
proceeded to Radziejow. There he was joined by Daniel
Mikolajewski, the Reformed superintendent, and at Elbing
by Erasmus Gliczner. From that town the three traveled in
company, by way of Konigsberg, to Vilna. They arrived on
the fourteenth of May after having, on the previous evening,
entered into a formal compact to maintain unanimity, as the
common representatives of the Consensus Sendomiriensis, in
their negotiations with the Greek divines. This compact was


suggested by Turnovius, who, true to the principles of his
Church which never lost an opportunity of promoting unity
among Christians, was the soul of the undertaking. He also
drew up, as the basis of the negotiations, twelve articles, which
were approved by Gliczuer and Mikolajewski and laid before
Ostrogski. To the Greek clergy was sent au extract of the
articles, in substance as follows :

The Evangelical Divines desire to ash the Greek Divines :

1. Whether, in their judgment, the pure Word of God as con-
tained in the Old and New Testament, is sufficient for salvation ?

2. Whether they give credence, in all things, to the old
teachers (Church-fathers), on account of their reputation, even
though these teachers may not, in some particulars, agree with
the AVord of God ?

3. Whether, in case anything should be found in their doctrine
and worship contrary to the Word of God and the teaching of
the Apostles, they would deem it their duty to introduce a change
in accordance with the Divine Word ?

4. Whether they are ready to recognize as fellow servants ot
God and brethren, those who order their worship and all their
other religious affairs according to the Divine Word in its purity
and who look upon the adversary of the Lord Christ and of His
Gospel as Antichrist ?

5. Whether, following the precepts of the Lord Christ, they
will unite in love, and for mutual advice and assistance, over
against Antichrist and his servants, with those who deem the pure
Word of God to be sufficient for salvation, implicitly submit to
its rule and doctrine, accept the Lord Christ as their Shepherd
and the only Head of the Church, administer the sacraments
according to His instruction, acknowledge the seven oldest
CEcumenical Councils, and recognize those holy Church-fathers
whose writings agree with the Word of God, as men given by
Him for the building up of His Church and instruction in divine
things ?

Although Leszcynski and Radziwill had not yet arrived, a
preliminary consultation took place on the twenty-fourth of
May, in the palace of Ostrogski, The Greek Church was
represented by Luke, the Metropolitan of Bialogrod, Isaac,
Abbot of Dubin, and the Archdeacon Gideon. The salutation
which Isaac gave the Protestant divines augured ill success to
the negotiations. Extending his hand to Turnovius, he said :
" I greet you, although the Scriptures forbid us to greet


heretics." With that gentle dignity which characterized him
the Bishop expressed his surprise that a stranger, who had
never before seen him and his companions, should take for
granted that they were heretics.

When all were seated Ostrogski opened the proceedings
with an addi-ess in which he gave utterance to the hope that
a mutual understanding would be reached. " If God the
Lord," he said in conclusion, " would permit a union between
our Greek and your Evangelical Church, I would be ready
to-morrow to leave this world with joy." Gliczner replied,
that the Polish Protestants were prepared to come to such an
understanding and even, if this should prove possible, to effect
a union with the Eastern Church. Before he could say any-
thing more the Metropolitan interrupted him, exclaiming :
" Vain are your expectations that we will relinquish our faith
and accept yours ! You must give up your religion and unite
with us. There is no other way." This roused Prince
Ostrogski. He rebuked Luke and turning to the Protestants,
said : " If our clergy decline a union, let the devil take
them ! AVe will maintain peace and exercise mutual love
without them."

Turnovius was the peace-maker. In courteous language
he showed : that errors had crept into the Greek Church, but
that nevertheless, in many points, it agreed with the Protestant,
notably in not acknowledging the Romish Antichrist, but
Jesus Christ alone, as the Head of the Church ; and that a
closer fellowship was possible. He continued on this wise :

" Through the persecutions of our enemies, the followers of
Antichrist, God incites us to engage in these mutual deliberations.
I deem this to be an auspicious day, because He permits me to
come hither with my brethren, in order to commune and negotiate
with members of the Eastern Church in relation to things which
tend to a mutual understanding and produce brotherly love. I
therefore declare, in my own name and that of my brethren, that
we are ready to unite not only with you in the kingdom of
Poland, but also with those who live in Moscow, and even in
Greece, so that we may come, upon the basis of the Holy Scrip-
tures, to an agreement in all articles of faith and offices of worship.
Should you point out to us any article in our doctrine not in
harmony with the Word of God, we are prepared to reject it.


The same thing we hope of you : that should we find in your
faith any tenets not in accordance with, or contrary to, the Divine
Word, you will lay them aside and giving honor to the truth, will
in the truth unite with us. As to the mode and manner in
which this can be brought about, you must, I presume, apply to
him who has the rule over you, the Patriarch of Constantinople,
and hence can not, at this time, consummate a union with us.
But by the aid of God, you and we can, as soon as more repre-
sentatives of both sides will be present, begin to prepare and lay
the foundation for this holy undertaking. We will be very glad,
therefore, to hear in what way you mean to receive these our '
brotherly overtures, and what your views are with regard to the
proposed union." ^

Mikolajewski spoke in the same conciliatory strain. Both
addresses were well received. Ostrogski thanked the two
divines for what they had said ; Isaac and Gideon expressed
their gratitude to God that He had afforded them this oppor-
tunity to be witnesses of the love existing between Greek and
Protestant believers, by which Christ's disciples, according to
His own words, were known. At considerable length Isaac
proceeded to show in what particulars the Eastern Church
agreed with the Protestant, but added, that the Greek clergy
had no authority to consummate a union except by permission
of the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, who,
however, he was convinced, would not withhold their consent.
At the close of the conference the divines pledged each other
their right hands in token of amity and fellowship. While
thus fraternizing one of the Greeks said : " Would to God,
honored sirs, that for the sake of good order, you would sub-
mit to the authority of our Patriarchs ! "

"What!" exclaimed Ostrogski, "they refuse obedience to
the Pope, with his supreme authority, and do you expect
them to be subordinate to the Patriarchs, with their inferior
authority ? "

On the twenty-eighth of May the negotiations were resumed,
seven nobles of the Evangelical and Greek faith, ten Evan-
gelical and ten Greek clergymen being present.^ There were

^ The above part of Turnovius' address is given in full by Lukaszewicz.
^ Of the Protestant clergymen several, besides Turnoyius, were connected
with the Brethren.


read the following articles in whicli the Protestant Church
agreed with the Eastern :

We believe and confess in common :

1 . That the Holy Scriptures of the Prophets and Apostles are
the source of truth and of that doctrine which saves.

2. That God, in His being, is one, but triune in person.

3. That the three persons of the Godhead are different, but
one in substance, according to the Nicene Creed.

4. That the Apostolic /Symbolum contains the essence of true
worship and of a true confession of faith.

5. That Christ, the Son of the living God, is the true God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds, in a way inexpressible,
and true man, born of the Virgin Mary for our redemption.

6. That this Christ, in that by His death He offered Himself to
God the Father for us, has made an all-sufficient atonement for
our sins.

7. That God is neither the cause nor the author of sin.

8. That all men are conceived and born in original sin.

9. That all those who repent and are truly converted, receive
the forgiveness of sin.

10. That baptized believers must do good works.

11. That Christ Himself is the one only Head of His Church,
both of the visible and the invisible.

12. That in the Church of God the office of the ministry is
necessary for the dispensation of the Word and the sacraments.

13. That the clergy are not forbidden to marry.

14. That infants are to be baptized.

15. That the Lord's Supper is to be administered under both
kinds to all believers.

16. That the Holy Scriptures know nothing of purgatory.

17. That Christ having bodily ascended into heaven now sits
at the right hand of the Father, from whence He will come to
judge the quick and the dead.

18. That as the bliss of believers is everlasting, so the punish-
ment of the damned is without end.

After these articles had been read Bishop Turnovius pro-
posed, that such doctrinal points as the two Churches did not
hold in common should be discussed at annual Synods to be
convened alternately in Greek and Protestant parishes. But
the fraternal sentiments expressed by the Greek divines at the
first conference had strangely changed. They manifested no
inclination to take up religious questions ; and, at last, in spite
of the urgency of Ostrogski, declined all further negotiations
until they h;i(l heard from their Patriarchs. It was with no


little difficulty that a promise was exacted from them to take,
meanwhile, no steps in oj)p()sition to a union. On the sixth
of June the Protestant divines wrote to the Patriarchs, after
Bishop Turnovius, on the fourth, htid sent a lettei- of his own
to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

The nobles present at the conference now proceeded to
oro-anize a political confederation. Having for its object the
maintenance of the act of 1573, which had never been
repealed and guaranteed religious liberty, this confederation
was not revolutionary but legal. In order to give it efficiency,
a large number of so-called Provisors were chosen. It be-
came their duty to defend, by ev^ery constitutioaal means, the
religious liberty of the nation, and in case of necessity, to
repel force by force. The articles of agreement were subse-
quently signed by several hundred noblemen. For a time the
Catholics were overawed and the persecution of Protestants
and Greeks ceased.

There exists no little uncertainty with regard to the character
of the answers sent by the Patriarchs to the letters of the
Evangelical divines, except that both prelates declined to
permit a union.^ Hence the negotiations were never resumed.

Far more unfortunate was the experience which the Sendo-
mirian confederation made. On the twenty-sixth of January,
1603, Erasmus Gliczner died at Brodnica, or Strassburg, in
West Prussia. Although he had several times vacillated, and,
subsequently to the conference at Vilna, written a paper
retracting his adhesion to the Consensus, yet in general he had
been its main stay among the Lutherans and, on his death-bed,
had torn that paper to pieces and urged his brethren to uphold

* Friese says, that tlie answer of the Patriarch of Constantinople was
intercepted by the Jesuits, but that the reply of the Patriarch of Alexander
readied its destination ; of tlie contents he says nothing. Eegenvolscius
relates that, out of fear for the Catholics, the answer of the Patriarch of
Constantinople, sent by the Abbot Cyrill, was communicated only to certain
individuals and not made public. A short letter from this Patriarch to
Turnovius is given in Eegenvolscius, p. 497, but it merely refers him to the
reply sent by the Abbot. The letters of Turnovius and the Protestant
divines are found in the same work, pp. 491 and 495.


the confederation. His admonitions were not heeded. The
Lutherans withdrew from it and declined to send delegates to
the Synods.

In 1606, owing to a general dissatisfaction with the king's
religious and civil policy, disturbances broke out all over
Poland and eventually ripened into a civil war. This war,
whatever advantages it, at first, seemed to confer upon the
Protestants, in the end brought them nothing but disasters.
At the beginning of the century they had again been out-
stripped, in point of numbers, by the Catholics; and now, in
its first decades, the llomish reaction reached its height.



The Bohemian Charter. A. D. 1608-1609.

Matthias declared Head of the House of Hapsburg. — Confederacy against
Rudolph. — Tiie Bohemian Diet. — Protestant States determined to
secure Religious Liberty. — Envoys of Matthias in the Diet. — Zerotin's
Speech. — Pi-omises of Rudolph. — Pacification with Matthias. — Diet of
1609. — Prorogued. — Independent Meeting of the States. — Diet Re-
opened. — States present Draft of a Charter. — Directors appointed. —
Troops raised. — Rudolph signs the Charter. — Its Provisions. — Agree-
ment between Catholics and Protestants. — Thanksgiving Festival. —
Agreement between the Unity and the other Protestants. — Election of
Consistory and of a Defenders.— Their Instructions.

The striking figure in which the Prophet foretold the
downfall of Israelis line of kings may be applied to the
Emperor Rudolph : he sowed the wind and reaped the whirl-
wind. It swept over all his dominions. Hungary, under the
leadership of Stephen Boeskay, broke out into open revolt
and made common cause with the Turks, its ancient enemies
(1604). Rudolph's own brothers and nephews met at Lintz
and subsequently at Vienna (April, 1606), declared him unfit
to govern, and constituted the Archduke Matthias the head
of their House. Matthias, after having concluded peace, in
the Emperor's name, both with Boeskay and the Turks,
(1606) induced Hungary and Austria to unite in a confederacy
against the Emperor (1608). Moravia, bleeding at many
wounds, prepared to shake off his yoke. So great was the
crisis that it brought Charles von Zerotin forth from his
retirement. At Rositz he consulted with the Hungarian and
Austrian leaders ; at Eibenschiitz a Diet convened, of which
he was the moving spirit. Berka, whom Rudolph liad


appointed Governor, was deposed and a provisional govern-
ment instituted ; Moravia joined the confederacy and recog-
nized Matthias as its sovereign (April, 1608).

The Archduke had gathered an army and now advanced
into Bohemia. Rudolph was overwhelmed with fear. He
would have fled, if the ministers of the crown had not, almost
by force, prevented him. His effort to convene representa-
tives of all his dominions in a General Diet, had proved a
failure ; his negotiations with his brother had been equally
unsuccessful. But now, on the twenty-third of May, the
Bohemian Diet met. For the first time in many years he
opened it in person. A man prematurely aged, with a
shriveled face, bleached hair, a bent back and wavering step,
tottered into the chamber. This was the Emperor.^ He
greeted the Diet and, soon after, pleading weakness, retired.
The states were moved with pity. But pity could not induce
them to relinquish the great purpose they had in view. They
were determined to secure religious liberty. That they took
advantage of his unfortunate position, is certain ; that their
past experiences justified them in adopting this course, no
candid mind will deny. Budowa drew up twenty-five
articles, setting forth the grievances of the Protestants,
demanding absolute religious liberty for all estates and condi-
tions of the kingdom, and claiming, in every other respect,
the same rights for Protestants as for Catholics.

Meantime Matthias had advanced to within ten miles of
Prague, and his envoys, led by Zerotin, appeared in that city.

^ Rudolph had not yet reached the age of fifty-six years. Many of the
nobles had not seen him for years. He had become more and more inert
and morose. His mind was imjiaired. Haunted by the idea that he was
to be assassinated by a monk, he secluded himself, so that the highest
officials and his own brothers were refused an audience. Pliilip Lang, his
favorite servant, exercised an unbounded influence in the palace and secured
enormous bribes. No one could see the Emperor except through liis inter-

Authorities for this chapter are: Gindely, II. Viertes Bucli; Gindely's
Majestiitsbrief; Gindely's Rudolf, II, Part I, chapters 5, 6 and 7; Czer-
wenka,II, chapter 14 ; Chlumecky, chapters 7-13.


On the twenty-fifth of May they were admitted to the Diet.
In an eloquent speech Zerotin urged the states to join the
confederacy, bring about Kudolph's abdication and elect
Matthias as his successor. Partly out of pity for their
monarch, but chiefly because they resented the interference of
the Archduke, they declined these overtures. The envoys left
Prague ; and on the twenty-eighth the Protestant states, in a
body, presented Budowa's articles to the Emperor. Overawed
by this demonstration and the determined bearing of the
nobles he promised to remove all grievances and prevent
persecution in every form, but begged that the question of
religious liberty might be deferred to the next Diet. He
gave a written pledge that this question should, at that Diet,
be taken up first of all and finally settled. The states con-
sented to wait, although not without reluctance.

By this time Matthias and his army were almost before the
walls of Prague. The Emperor sent a commission to treat
with his brother. This effort proved successful. A pacifica-
tion was concluded at Liebeu (June the twenty-fifth), on the
following terms: Eudolph acknowledged Matthias as his
successor to the Bohemian throne and ceded to him Hungary,
Austria and Moravia; Matthias promised to withdraw his
army and engage in no further hostile demonstrations against
Rudolph. This compact was carried out at once. The Hun-
garian regalia were sent, with great pomp, to the Archduke,
who thereupon retired with his troops ; the Protestant and
Catholic nobles in attendance went back to their domains. At
Stierbohol the former had secretly entered into an agreement to
stand up for religious liberty at all hazards. In bringing about
this agreement Zerotin had again been active. On his return to
Moravia the Diet appointed him Governor of that margraviate.

Through the advice of such intolerant councilors as Slawata,^

^ Count William von Slawata was born and educated within the pale of
the Brethren's Church. In order to gain the hand of a Catholic heiress he
embraced the Romish faith. He wrote very complete and valuable
Memoirs, which have been published in the Third Part of the Monumenta
Historise Bohemica, edited by Gindely, Prague, 18G4-1870.

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 41 of 64)