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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his fellow men and the honor of God in view. Well may
Herder call him "a noble priest of humanity." His was a
sublime purpose — to bring mankind to a consciousness of it-
self, of what it is, of its unity and dignity ; and in harmony
with the Divine will to lead the whole race, and every indi-
vidual member of it, to happiness enduring forever.'" In
some respects he was in advance of his time ; some of his as-
pirations are yet to be fulfilled. Indeed, as Criegern correctly
says, the grand principles which he enunciated may well serve
to instruct and admonish all ages. Protestants and Catholics
unite in honoring him. Even the Jesuit Balbin recognizes
his worth and speaks in his praise. It is left to writers like
Pierre Bayle, in his Historical and Critical Dictionary ; Ade-
lung, in his History of Fools ; and others of the same class ;
to defame Comenius and turn his loftiest aims into ridicule.^"

What he did for the Church of his fathers has been set
forth in the course of our narrative, but may be summed up in
these words : he was the Jeremiah of the Ancient and the John
the Baptist of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum.

Comenius was a man of patriarchal appearance and imposing

the Domine, fifteen florins for his services at the funeral of Comenius.
Naarden is situated on the Zuyder-Zee, twelve miles south-east of Amster-
dam ; it constitutes the key to the water communications of Holland and is
strongly fortified.

^^ Zoubek, p. xliii.

"^^ As a specimen of Adelung's treatment of Comenius the following may
serve : He says, that Comenius was a charlatan, of very limited understand-
ing and equally limited learning, who did not really mean to improve the
system of education, but to make himself prominent through his chimerical
Pansophia and use it as a bait for catching money. Adelung's Geschichte
der menschlichen Narrheit appeared at Leipsic, in 1785.


'' ' rH


joh:\" ajvios comeniits.


figure. His chin was long ; his forehead high ; his eye soft
and sad ; his whole countenance showed that he never forgot
the sufferings of his people and that as regarded himself he
felt what he once wrote : " My whole life was merely the visit
of a guest ; I had no fatherland." His character is beauti-
fully outlined by Palacky : '' In his intercourse with others
Comenius was in an extraordinary degree friendly, conciliatory
and humble ; always ready to serve his neighbor and sacrifice
himself. His writings as well as his walk and conversation
show the depth of his feelings, his goodness, his uprightness
and fear of God. He never cast back upon his opponents
what they meeted out to him. He never condemned, no
matter how great the injustice which he was made to suffer.
At all times, with fullest resignation, whether joy or sorrow
was his portion, he honored and praised the Lord." ^^

In the period following the Anti -Reformation to the death
of Comenius, a "Hidden Seed" of the Unitas Fratrum re-
mained in Bohemia and Moravia. This seed consisted of such
Brethren as, for various reasons, did not emigrate. The
bigotry of Ferdinand the Third, who reigned from 1637 to
1657, was intense ; and he continued to suppress every vestige

'•'' Comenius, nach Palacky, pp. 40 and 41. His literary activity was as
tonishing. He Avrote at least one hundred works ; probably more. A correct
list of them has not yet been produced.

With his wife, Elizabeth Cyrill, Comenius had five children, one son,
Daniel, and four daughters. His wife died in 1648. On the seventeenth
of May, 1649, he married Johanna Gaiusowa, at Thorn, with whom he ap-
pears to have had no children. This, according to our narrative, was his
third marriage ; according to Gindely and the Lissaer Gymnasium, he was
married but twice. From the union of his daughter Elizabeth with Peter
Figulus, sprang Daniel Ernst Jablonsky, his grandson, through whom the
episcopal succession was transferred to the Renewed Unity. Gindely's
Comenius, pp. 535 and 536 ; Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XXXV.

Several pictures exist of Comenius. A very fine portrait adorns the wall
of the room in which the Chief Executive Board of the Unitas Fratrum
meets, at Berthelsdorf, in Saxony. This portrait was secured from his
grandson. Bishop D. E. Jablonsky. It has been engraved. Another picture
of him is the work of the celebrated English-Bohemian artist Wenzel
Hollar. A good bust of Comenius has recently been produced by Reichel,
of Neuwied in Prussia.


of Evangelical religion. His successor, Leopold the First,
walked in his footsteps, forbidding even family-worship in
such houses as were suspected of Evangelical tendencies, and
allowing no Protestant to settle and acquire property in any
part of Bohemia or Moravia. Nevertheless, in secret, espe-
cially among the peasantry, the faith of the Brethren was
maintained. To extinguish absolutely the spark of life which
still glowed, both the government and the Romish clergy
found to be impossible.^^ A detailed history of this Hidden
Seed, in the first fifty years of its existence, can not, however,
be given. We can only say, in general, that religious worship
was, as far as possible, kept up by stealth, sometimes in the
cottages of peasants or castles of lords, and sometimes in the
recesses of forests or mountains.^^ The Brethren of the
Hidden Seed were, moreover, visited by ministers of their
Church from Silesia and Hungary, who dispensed the sacra-
ments. Such ministers came, in particular, from Skalic.
Comenius too did what he could to foster the Hidden Seed, by
secretly sending to Bohemia and Moravia copies of his Cate-
chism, Hymnal, and other works relating to the Unitas Fra-
trum. For this service, which was exceedingly perilous, he
employed, about 1663, John Kopulansky.^^ The offerings
transmitted by the Brethren in Bohemia to their exiled friends,
formed another bond of union between the two.^^

In 1650, 1652 and 1670, new emigrations took place.

^^ Church Register of Augustin Schulz, minister of the Bohemian parish
in Berlin, in the eighteenth century.

^^ Holyk has described religious meetings held by secret Lutherans, at
which he was himself present ; the meetings of the secret Brethren were
conducted in the same way. Daum's Verfolgungen, p. 77, etc.

2* Cranz, pp. 88 and 89.

^^ Lukaszewicz, p. 150, who mentions among the means of support upon
which the exiles had to depend, " das was ihnen heimlich ihre Glaubens-
briider in Bohmen und Miihren dann und wann zusandten."



The Polish, Hungarian and Silesian Remnant in the Half

Century prior to the Renewal of the Unitas Fratrum.

A. D. 1671-1722.

John Casimir resigns.— Michael Korybut and John Sobieski. — Death of
Figulus and Nicholas Gertich.— Bishop Hartmann.— Bohemian Ele-
ment disappears at Lissa. — Death of Bythner. — Bishop Zugehor. —
Elector of Brandenburg favors the Brethren.— Scholarships at Berlin,
Frankfort, and Heidelberg.— Bishop Hartmann in England.— Scholar-
ships at Oxford.— A Bishop proposed for England.— Death of Hart-
mann.— Bishop Jiilich.— Death of Zugehor.— Bishops Daniel Ernst
Jablonsky and John Jacobides.— Jablonsky's Work.— The State of
Poland.— Lissa's second Destruction.— Struggle of the Protestants for
their Rights.— Jablonsky publishes these Eights. — A General Union
Synod agreed on.— Synods of the Brethren at Heiersdorf and Zullichau.
— Bishops Opitz and Cassius.— Synod at Thorn.— Jablonsky and the
Archbishop of Canterbury.— Collections in England ordered by the
Privy Council.— General Union Synod at Dantzic— Other Synods.—
The Tragedy at Thorn.— Lissa rebuilt.— The Brethren in Poland,
Hungary and Silesia disappearing.— The Unitatsgemeinden and their

The peace with Sweden, as well as that with Russia and
the Cossacks, cost John Casimir a part of his territory. He
grew weary of reigning, laid aside the crown and retired to
France. His successor was Michael Korybut. As usual the
rights and privileges of the Evangelical party were ratified at
the Diet of Election (1669) ; but this was an empty form of
which neither the Catholic clergy nor the royal tribunals took
any further notice. For four brief years Korybut occupied
the throne and then died (1674). He was followed bv John


Sobieski, whose brilliant achievements against the Turks
made him the hero of his time. Although averse to religious
persecutions and desirous of giving the Protestants their full
due, he could neither put a stop to the Romish reaction nor
hinder the unjust oppression which it produced.

Amidst such circumstances the Polish Brethren endeavored,
in the years following the decease of Comenius, to maintain
their Church.

Figulus having died at Memel, on the twelfth of January,
1670, and hence preceded Comenius to eternity — whose heart
was deeply stricken by this loss which frustrated his hope of a
successor in the Bohemian-Moravian episcopate — and Nicholas
Gertich having passed away at Liegnitz, on the twenty-fourth
of May, of the following year ; the sole Bishop who survived,
was John Bythner. In 1673 the Synod gave him a colleague
in the person of Adam Samuel Hartmann. He was conse-
crated by Bythner, at Lissa, on the twenty-eighth of October.^

Hartmann was an eminent scholar and labored with singular
zeal to preserve the remnant of the Unitas Fratrum. Born
at Prague, on the seventh of September, 1621, the son of that
incumbent of the Bethlehem Chapel Avhom Leichtensteiu had
banished, he studied at the Universities of Frankfort, AVitten-
berg and Leipzig, was ordained to the priesthood and installed
as Rector of the College at Lissa, in 1653. In addition to his
classical and theological lore, he had mastered five modern
languages. On his elevation to the episcopacy he resigned the
rectorship, in order to devote himself entirely to the interests
of the Church.^

Meanwhile Lissa went on prospering. In one respect, how-
ever, its character began to change. The Bohemian element
disappeared more and more, and the German prevailed. Sub-
sequent to the year 1700 the language of the exiles was no
longer used in public worship. The last clergyman who
preached in that tongue was John Tobian.^

^ Jablonsky's De Ordine et Successione, Acta Fratrum, p. 114.
^ Fischer, II. pp. 345 and 346 ; Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XV.
^ Lissaer Geschichte, p. 15 ; Fischer, II. pp. 160 and 161.


It was at Lissa that the two Bishops had their seat. Their
associated work came to an end in 1675, in which year Byth-
ner died, on the second of February, at the age of seventy-
three years. A learned man ; set to govern the Church in a
time of sore tribulations; he maintained his position with
heroic courage, and never grew weary of traveling from parish
to parish, often amidst great dangers, encouraging the Brethren
and strengthening them in the faith. To his efforts chiefly
the renewed Unitas Fratrum owes that unbroken succession
which it has inherited.^

It was with the object of keeping up this succession that, on
his death-bed, he nominated John Zugehor for the episcopacy.
This nomination found favor with the Synod. On the occa-
sion of its meeting at Dantzic in the following year (1676),
Zugehor was elected and consecrated by Bishop Hartmann,
August the thirteenth, in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul.^

For the next fifteen years these two Bishops conjointly
stood at the head of the Unity, laboring for its welfare, striv-
ing to establish its churches, and endeavoring to promote the
cause of its College and schools.

Hartmann was successful in enlisting the aid of foreign
princes. In 1674 the Elector of Brandenburg instructed his
ambassador at the Polish court to give the Bretliren financial
support; in 1683 he commissioned his councilor Ursiuus to
come to an understanding with Hartmann in relation to four
scholarships which had been created, for students of the Unity,
in a gymnasium at Berlin and in the University of Frankfort-
on-the-Oder ; and in the following year he induced the Elector
of the Palatinate to institute four additional scholarships in
the University of Heidelberg.^

* Fischer, II. p. 345. Bythner's principal literary work was a postil in
Polish, now one of the rarest books in that language.

^Jablonsky's De Ordine et Successione, Acta Fratrum, p. 114. John
Zugehor was born at Lissa and ordained to the priesthood prior to the
Swedish War, in the course of which he fled to Silesia. On his return he
labored at Lissa and subsequently at Zychlin. In 1673 he was ordained to
be an Assistant Bishop.

* Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XXXVII.


No less encouraging was Hartmanu's success in rea waking
the sympathies of England. He visited that country in 1680,
bearing a commission from the Synod, and appealed for aid.
This appeal was commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury
and the Bishop of London, and resulted in the creation, for
the benefit of students of the Unity, of three scholarships in
the University of Oxford ; which ancient seat of learning con-
ferred upon Hartmann himself the degree of Doctor of

In 1657, when coming to England for the first time, his
brother Paul accompanied liira and remained in that country,
Paul rose to be chaplain of Christ Church College at Oxford,
and subsequently became rector of the parish of Shellingford,
near Farrington. Now the idea was broached, that this Paul
Hartmann might be invested with the episcopate of the Unitas
Fratrum, and superintend, in addition to his other duties, the
Brethren who had made England their home. Bishop Hart-
mann had several consultations on the subject with the An-
glican prelates ; " but through some impediments, the thing
did not come to pass." ^

On his return he transferred his seat to Memel and took
charge of the Bohemian parish at that place. In 1690 he set
out again for England, in order to visit his brother. At Rot-
terdam he fell ill and died on the twenty-ninth of May, 1691.

His death was a heavy blow to the Unity. When Bishop
Zugehor received the sad intelligence, he took steps to have a
successor appointed. The Synod responded to his wish, and
elected Joachim Jiilich, whom he consecrated, at Lissa, on the
twenty -sixth of June, 1692.^ Jiilich made that town liLs seat;

' Lissaer Gymnasium ; Fischer, II. p. 346 ; Rieger, VI. p. 738. In the di-
ploma Hartmann was fully acknowledged as a Bishop of the Unitas Fra-
trum. During the reign of James the Second the scholarships came to an
end, in 1685 ; Charles the Second seems to have favored the Unity in many
ways. Benham, p. Ill, speaks of what seems to be a second appeal made
by Paul Hartmann in 1683.

^ Jablonsky's De Ordine et Successione, Acta Fratrum, p. 114.

^ Ihid. Jiilich was born at Weissholz, in Silesia. His father, Dr. John
Jiilich, fled to Poland in the Thirty Years' War. Jiilich graduated at the


Zugehor continued to reside at Zychlin until his death, Novem-
ber the twenty-ninth, 1698.

The Synod which met at Lissa in the following year
adopted Jiilich's proposition to elect two bishops. Daniel
Ernst Jablonsky and John Jacobides were chosen. On the
tenth of March, 1699, they received consecration at the hands
of Bishop Jiilich.

Jablonsky deserves a more extended notice. He was the
son of Bishop Peter Figulus and the grandson of Amos
Comenius, and was born at Nassenhuben, on the twenty-sixth
of November, 1660. After having received a preparatory
training at the College of Lissa, he entered the University of
Frankfort-on-the-Oder and, in addition to a theological and
classical course, took up the study of the oriental languages
with great enthusiasm. In 1680 he accompanied Bishop
Hartmann to England, and spent three years at Oxford,
enjoying the privileges of one of the scholarships of the
Unity. His first charge was a newly organized Reformed
church at Magdeburg. In 1686 he accepted a vocation to
the German parish at Lissa and, in the same year, was
installed as the Rector of its College. The fame of his learn-
ing, eloquence and zeal spread far and wide. In 1691 he
was appointed court-preacher at Kdnigsberg and, two years
later, called to fill the same position at Berlin, where he
enjoyed the favor of King Frederick the First and of his son,
Frederick William the First. Jablonsky's labors in the latter
city embraced a period of forty-eight years, until his death.
He rose to be a councilor of the consistory, a church-councilor,
and president of the Royal Academy ; and received from the
University of Oxford the degree of Doctor of Divinity. His
efforts, in which he was supported by Leibnitz, to bring about
a union between the Lutherans and Reformed, were unsuc-
cessful. He died on the twenty-fifth of May, 1741, in the

University of FVankfort ; was ordained to the priesthood in 1657 and took
charge of the German church at Lissa. In 1675 he was ordained to be an
Assistant Bishop.


eighty-first year of his age, the fifty-eighth of his ministry,
aud the forty-second of his episcopate.^"

When he was asked to accept the episcopate, he had scruples
touching his residence in a foreign country and his consecra-
tion by only one bishop ; and under date of January the
second, 1699, wrote to his friend, Doctor John Ernst Grabe,
of the Anglican Church, in London, asking his advice. In
regard to the latter point Doctor Grabe satisfied him fully ;
in regard to the former he found that two bishops would
reside in Poland ; that his brethren would be satisfied with
whatever part he could take in the oversight of their phurches;
and that he was to be consecrated chiefly in order to prevent
the succession from dying out." And yet, after the death of
Bishop Jiilich (November the fourteenth, 1703), Jablonsky
became the virtual head of the remnant of the Unity, and
with great zeal and untiring faithfulness promoted its interests
in Poland, Hungary and Prussia.'"

This he did in various ways. He held frequent Synods to
strengthen the things which remained, that were ready to die.
He endeavored to bring about, for mutual protection, a closer
union among the Protestants of Poland. He exerted his
influence at the Prussian court to such a degree that Frederick
the First, following the example of his father, the Great
Elector, became an ardent supporter of the Brethren, helped
them financially, and secured for them four scholarships at
the University of Ueyden, in addition to those founded at

^^ Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XVI., etc. At one time Jablonsky suggested
the Anglican episcopacy and liturgy as a bond of union between the
Lutherans and Reformed; and corresponded with the Archbishop of
Canterbury on the subject. "When this became known in Germany, it gave
great offence. In addition to his Historia Consensus Sendomiriensis, and
the work mentioned in Note 16, he published a new edition of the Hebrew
Bible (1699) and of the Talmud (1715-1721), as also a Collection of Ser-
mons in five volumes.

" Eieger, VI., pp. 752, etc. ; Acta Fratrum, p. 114.

^^ The Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XVIL, says : " Er benutzte die Gelegen-
heit (of his being court-preacher at Berlin) fiir die B5hmischen Beformlrten
aller Orten in Polen, Preussen und Ungarn in jeder VVeise zu wirken."


Frankfort, Heidelberg and Berlin/^ At the same time he
was the connecting link through which the episcopal succes-
sion of the Ancient Unitas Fratrum was transferred to the

While Jablonsky labored, in these ways, for the Church of
his fathers, the immediate superintendence of its parishes was
committed to Bishop Jacobides, who had his seat at Lissa.

Momentous events were transpiring in Poland. After the
death of Sobieski (1696), Frederick Augustus, Elector of
Saxony, a Lutheran, secured the crown by becoming a
Romanist. But Charles the Twelfth, the young hero of
Sweden, snatched it from his head and gave it to Stanislaus
Leszcynski, lord of Lissa (1704). Under the mild sway of
this new monarch the Confederation of Warsaw was estab-
lished, which granted the Protestants full liberty to found
churches and schools, and exempted them from the jurisdiction
of Romish tribunals. Unfortunately, however, Stanislaus was
not acknowledged by the entire nation. To the calamities
entailed by the invasion of the Russians and Saxons were
added the horrors of civil strife. A time of dire tribulation
began. Many a fair domain was laid waste ; many a village
made desolate; many a town sacked. Upon Lissa the demon
of war again laid a merciless hand. Twice it was spared
through the intervention of the King of Prussia whose sym-
pathy Jablonsky succeeded in rousing ; on several other
occasions it escaped by paying a heavy ransom ; at last its fate
could no longer be averted and the day of its second destruc-
tion came on. It was the twenty-ninth of July, 1707. Early
in the morning a body of Russians, under command of Colonel
Schultz, attacked the town, pillaged its houses, abused its in-
habitants most barbarously, and then rode through the streets

'^ Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XXXVII. These scholarships continued until
the nineteenth century.

1* On the thirteenth of March, 1735, Jablonsky, with the concurrence of
Bishop Sitkovius, his colleague in Poland, consecrated David Nitschmann ;
and on the twentieth of May, 1737, Jablonsky and Nitschmann, again with
the concurrence of Sitkovius, consecrated Count Zinzendorf


throwing about balls of burning pitch. In a short time the
whole place was wrapped in flames. This conflagration was
even more fearful than the first. In four hours Lissa was
swept from the face of the earth. Not a few of its people
perished in the flames ; the rest fled saving nothing but their
lives. Stretched on the grass, near the charred remains of a
windmill, lay Schultz enjoying the horrible spectacle.^^

However appalling this new catastrophe was, the Brethren,
encouraged by Jablonsky and Jacobides, did not lose heart.
In unison with their fellow Protestants they began a persistent
and manful struggle for their rights. It was a struggle
which excites unqualified admiration ; at the same time it led
them to lean upon the Reformed more heavily than ever, and
helped to put an end to their independence.

In 1708 Bishop Jablonsky published a work setting forth
the rights and privileges of the Polish Protestants.^^ Its
purpose was, to let the world see the ground upon which
they stood, and thus to excite a general interest in the cause
which had, for so many years, been upheld by the Evangelical
party and antagonized by the Roman Catholics. The defeat
of Charles the Twelfth at Pultawa, in the following year
(1709), and the consequent return of Frederick Augustus to
the throne, although an unexpected disaster, did not quench
the courage of the Protestants.

In April, of 1710, representatives of the Brethren and the
Reformed met at Warsaw and agreed to call a Union Synod.
To this convocation the former, assembled at Heiersdorf in
the following June, chose six delegates and instructed them to
bring about, if possible, a confederation among the Evangelical
churches of Poland and to devise means by which they could
regain their civil and religious liberties.^'^ Other meetings of
the Synod, under the presidency of Jablonsky, took place.

^^ Lissaer Gymnasium, p. XXXVIII.; Lissaer Geschichte, pp. 16 and 17.

^* Jura et Libertates Dissidentium in Eeligione Christiana in Regno
Polonise et M. D. Lithuaniae ex Legibus Regni et aliis Monumentis
authenticis excerpta. Anno Christi 1708. Berolini. Ex typographia regia.

^'' Lukaszewicz, pp. 182 and 183.


In 1712, he convened it at Ziillichau, iu Brandenburg, be-
cause tlie bitter feud which had broken out between the King
and the nobles rendered a meeting in Poland impracticable.
On that occasion — Bishop Jacobides having died in 1709 —
Solomon Opitz was elected to the episcopacy and, on the
eleventh of July, consecrated by Jablonsky.^^ In the autumn
of the same year the Synod met at Thorn, and chose a third
bishop, in the person of David Cassias, who was consecrated
by Jablonsky and Opitz, on the fourth of November.^^

At this convocation representatives both of the Reformed
and Lutherans were present, so that it assumed the character
of a Union Synod preparatory to the General Synod. The
steps to be taken in order to secure the rights of the Prot-
estants were discussed ; Jablonsky was commissioned to pre-

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 56 of 64)