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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tribulation, and continued instant in prayer ; so he encouraged
them to stand fast and endure, looking for the time of their
redemption. Religious services were statedly held in his
house. At the close of these services it was his custom to
offer a brief prayer and then to dismiss the assembly with the
following benedictory hymn, which he seems to have chanted
alone :

" Geht hin, die ihr gebenedeit

Und in Christo auserwiihlet seid,

Geht hin in Freude und Fried' ;

Gott richt all' eure Tritt !

" Gesegnet sei euer Ausgang,
Gesegnet sei euer Eingang,
Gesegnet all euer Thun,
Durch Christum, Gottes Sohn ! " '"

In close fellowship with Schneider were Melchior Kunz,
Andrew Beyer, Matthew Stach, John and David Zeisberger,
all of Zauchtenthal ; the Jaeschke and Neisser families, of
Sehlen ; the Grasman family, of Senftleben ; and the Nitsch-
mann family, of Kunwald."

" Samuel Schneider's fervent testimony and venerable
appearance I will never forget," writes David Nitschmann,
his nephew who as a boy of six years attended the secret
meetings, visited him during his last illness, and was present

^ Zacharias Hirschel's Narrative.

"^ " Depart ye that are blessed and chosen in Christ, depart in joy and
peace ; God direct all your steps ; blessed be your going out, blessed be
your coming in, blessed be all your works, through Christ, the Son of
God." Croeger, II. p. 438.

1' All these individuals and families became, more or less, prominent in
the history of the Renewed Unitas Fratrum.


when he died.^^ It was the fourth of March, 1710. In the
days previous Schneider had repeatedly professed his trust in
Christ, rejoiced in His grace, and longed to be forever with
the Lord. " There," he had said, " 1 will see His beloved
apostles and the prophets who foretold His coming. Yea I
will see all those who became martyrs for His sake, the whole
cloud of confessors and witnesses who loved not their lives
unto the death. — Whose end consider ! " And now he lay
calm and peaceful, waiting for the summons to depart.
Among those that visited him was Lamser, the Catholic
priest, who proposed to administer extreme unction. "The
Holy Ghost has anointed and sealed me unto eternal life,"
replied Schneider, " the unction which you wish to give me is
therefore unnecessary." In great astonishment the priest
asked whether he thought that he could be saved without
extreme unction. Pointing to the sun Schneider rejoined :
" As surely as your Reverence sees that sun shining in the
heavens, so sure am I of my salvation." " We will let
■extreme unction be, Schneider," continued the Father, " but
tell me, is it true that you are not a good Catholic and have
no respect for the saints?" "Much has been said against
me," was the answer of the dying man, " and much have I
suffered without cause; but as regards the saints, I have
always endeavored to walk in their footsteps and to follow
their example." Lamser dropj^ed the subject, took leave of
Schneider, and said to the bystanders, as he left the room,
^' Let me die the death of this righteous man !"^^

Another distinguished witness was George Jaeschke, of
Sehlen. The memory of the Church of his fathers, who in
the persecutions of the sixteenth century had been forced to
flee from Bohemia to Moravia, was enshrined in his heart of
hearts. He never ceased to pray for its resuscitation, to com-
fort the faint-hearted, to warn the careless. With the Brethren
at Fulneck, Zauchtenthal, Sch5nau, Kunwald, Senftleben,

'^ MS. in Herrnhut Archives entitled : Originale Nachricht von dem
Ausgang der fiinf Kirchenmiinner, written by David Nitschmann, suruamed
the Syndic, and Frederick Neisser.

" Ihid.


and Seitendorf, he kept up a close fellowship. They met
sometimes in one, and again in another village, edifying one
another in the Lord and consulting on the state and prospects
of the Hidden Seed.

Jaeschke's daughter Judith was married to George Neisser,
and they had five sons; Jaeschke himself married a second
time in his old age, and this union was blessed with one son,
Michael, whom he tenderly loved.

In 1707, feeling that the time of his departure was at hand,
he set his house in order and with a testimony glorious as
that of a seer of old closed the work of his life. At his sum-
mons there gathered around his bed, his son Michael, six
years old, and his five grandsons. In words instinct with
love he besought them to remain true to Christ ; and then
broke out into a prediction that thrilled their souls. He
said : " It is true that our liberties are gone and that our
descendants are giving way to a worldly spirit so that the
Papacy is devouring them. It may seem as though the final
end of the Brethren's Church had come. But, my beloved
children, you will see a great deliverance. The remnant will
be saved. I do not know positively whether this deliverance
will come to pass here in Moravia, or whether you will have
to go out of Babylon ; but I do know that it will transpire
not very long hence. I am inclined to believe that an exodus
will take place, and that a refuge will be offered in a country
and on a spot where you will be able, without fear, to serve
the Lord according to His holy Word. When that time of
deliverance comes, be ready, and give diligence that you may
not be the last, or remain behind. Remember what I have
told you. And now as to this my little son, he is to be the
property of Jesus. I commend him into your keeping, and
especially into yours, Augustin. Take care of him, and when
you go out from this country, on no account leave him be-
hind." Thereupon he laid his patriarchal blessing upon
Michael and each of his grandsons, and soon after died in
peace, aged eighty-three years.'*

" Narrative of the Neisser family. Croeger, G. E. B.,I. pp. 8 and 9.


After the death of Jaeschke, Schneider, and other fathers,
the Jesuits tried their utmost to uproot the Hidden Seed in
that part of Moravia. One means which they employed was
to bring about marriages between Catholics and the young
people of the villages where the Brethren lived. In this
way a new element was introduced ; the secret meetings were
betrayed; while such as had formed alliances with Romanists
grew indifferent. The danger was great that the coming
generation would forget the traditions of the Unitas Fratrum;
and nothing seemed more improbable than that Jaeschke's
prediction would be fulfilled. And yet he had not been a
false prophet. God's ])lan was maturing. He constrained
the few that remained faithful to seek food for their souls at
Teschen, whence they brought back to their villages a power
which made itself felt, awakening the careless and giving
courage to the despondent. He called that man through
whom the redemption of the Hidden Seed was brought about.

His name was Christian David, born on the last day of
the year 1690, at Senftleben, in Moravia ; an ignorant shep-
herd, entangled in all the superstitions of Rome, unceasing
in his invocations of St. Anthony, of Padua, his patron saint,
falling upon his knees before every image and picture of the
Virgin which he chanced to see; — but through the Son made
free indeed, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, inspired to work
for Christ with a zeal which nothing could quencli, an evan-
gelist, an apostle, " the servant of the Lord." ^^

In 1713, after having learned the trade of a carpenter, he
left Moravia, looking for work as a journeyman and seeking
Christ as an awakened sinner. He visited Hungary, Austria,
Silesia, Saxony and Prussia ; joined the Protestant Church ;
passed through many trying experiences ; at the siege of
Stralsund served as a soldier in the Prussian army ; lay sick
unto death in a hospital ; escaped from the hands of the
Jesuits — all the time growing in grace and the knowledge of

^* This is the title by which Christian David is commonly known in the
history of the Church.


God — and at last, id 1717, came to Gorlitz, in Silesia, where
he met with Melchior Schafer, the pastor of the Kloster
church, and other men of sterling piety.^" He determined to
make that city his home. But scarcely had three months
passed by when he was moved in the spirit to visit his native
country in order to proclaim the Gospel.

In the course of his journey he came to Sehlen and formed
the acquaintance of the Neissers upon whose hearts he made
a deep impression. A second but fruitless visit to Zauchten-
thal he undertook in the following year. On his return to
Gorlitz he was seized with a severe illness and again brought
to death's door. No sooner had he recovered, than he set out
a third time, in accordance with a vow which he had made,
and proceeded to Sehlen, where he proclaimed Christ with
great power, testifying what He had done both to his body
and his soul. His exposition of Christ's words, " And every
one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or
father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's
sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit ever-
lasting life," ^'' moved the Neissers to their inmost hearts.
This exposition seemed to be the echo of their grandsire's
dying charge. They begged Christian David to look for a
retreat in a Protestant country, where they could worship God
in spirit and in truth. He consented to do so ; but for three
long years they waited and hoped in vain. Steinmetz, at
Teschen, where they sought comfort, dissuaded them from
emigrating; the thought of remaining in Moravia gave them
no peace; their only refuge was unceasing prayer. And in
His own time God heard them. On Monday in Whitsun-
week, the twenty-fifth of May, 1722, Christian David arrived
at Sehlen with the intelligence that Count Nicholas Lewis von
Zinzendorf, a pious young nobleman, was willing to receive
them on his domain of Berthelsdorf, in Saxony. In the night
of the following Wednesday, soon after ten o'clock, Augustin

'^ C. David's Lebenslauf in Nachrichten aus d. B. G., 1872, p. 668, etc.
" Matthew 19 : 29.


and Jacob Neisser, their wives and four children, together with
Michael Jaeschke and Martha Neisser, ten persons in all,
leaving behind houses and farms and whatever else they pos-
sessed, took their silent way afoot through the village, and
led by Christian David turned toward the Silesian frontier.
They were the first of those witnesses that had been ordained
to go into a strange land and build unto God a city, at whose
sacred fire the dying Unitas Fratrum should renew its youth
like the eagle's.




Protestantism remained absolutely suppressed in Bohemia and
Moravia for one hundred and fifty-three years. On the thirtieth
of May, 1781, the Emperor Joseph the Second annulled that
Patent of the Roman Catholic Religion with which Ferdinand
the Second had crowned his Anti-Reformation, and on the thir-
teenth of the following October issued an Edict of Toleration.
This Edict permitted the followers of the Augsburg and Helvetian
Confessions to register, until the thirty-first of December, 1782,
as Protestants ; and granted religious liberty, although with
many restrictions, to all such as would make use of this privilege.
In spite of the fact that, as has been said in another connection,
there came forward one hundred and fifty thousand Bohemians
and Moravians who claimed to be Bohemian Brethren, the Unitas
Fratrum, by a special decree, was excluded from the benefits of
the Act.

The Lutherans and Reformed organized under the government
of a common Consistory at Vienna. In consequence of the revo-
lutionary Avave which swept over the Continent of Europe in 1848
and 1849, many of the restrictions hindering their progress were
removed ; in 1861 the Protestant Law was published establishing
the religious equality of Protestants and Catholics; in 1864 a
General Synod of Lutherans and Reformed convened, which
adopted an ecclesiastical constitution, sanctioned by the Emperor
in 1866; and in 1874 the Austrian Diet extended religious liberty
to all such Churches as would secure recognition on the part of
the Imperial Government.


Thereupon the Renewed Unitas Fratrum, which in the face of
many obstacles and great annoyances had ventured, in 1870, to
begin a missionary work in Bohemia, sought such recognition at
Vienna. The negotiations dragged wearily through six years
but were successful at last. In the spring of 1880, the Minister
of Public Worship issued a proclamation permitting the Unitas
Fratrum to establish itself in the Austrian Empire. Thus, after
the lapse of two hundred and fifty-two years, the Brethren who
had been so ignominiously driven out of Bohemia and Moravia
and so persistently debarred from returning, were authorized to
resume their work in the seats of their fathers. This work
is extending and full of promise. Its issue is in the hand of
the God of Gregory and Luke and Comeuius.



We here present a chronological list of the Confessions published
by the Brethren. The Historical Preface to the Latin and Ger-
man Confessions of 1573 treats of this subject; but in a concise
and unsatisfactory way. Nor does the lengthy discussion into
which Koecher enters, in his " Glaubensbekenntnisse der Bohm-
ischen Briider," throw the proper light upon the investigation.
Gindely's two tables contradict each other : in the first, found in
the Notes to his " Geschichte der Bohmischen Bruder," he counts
up thirty-six Confessions ; in his second, contained in the "Quel-
len zur Geschichte der Bohmischen Bruder," thirty-four; in
both he reckons as a new Confession each new edition of the same
Confession. The subject is therefore exceedingly complicated;
and we do not claim absolute accuracy for the list which follows.
It professes, however, to set forth those Confessions which, as far
as the sources at our command seem to show, the Brethren them-
selves looked upon as distinct Confessions. We add references to
our History.


Presented to Rokycana in 1648; written in Bohemian by
Gregory ; not printed ; but extant as a MS. in Lissa Folio, 11.
Herrnhut Archives. (See History, pp. 158 and 159.)



Presented to King George Podiebrad, in 1468 ; written in Bo-
hemian ; not printed ; but extant as a MS. in Lissa Folio, II.,
Herrnhut Archives. (See History, p. 159.)


Presented to those royal cities from which the Brethren were
expelled ; written in Bohemian ; not printed ; but extant as a
MS. in the library at Raudnitz, in the Schonfeld Miscellanea.
(See History, p. 164.) The Historical Preface of 1573 says: —
" When our people were driven from the royal cities, they sent
them a Confession which was more lengthy and complete " than
the two preceding ones.


Sent to King Uladislaus, at Ofen, in Hungary ; written in
Bohemian ; translated into Latin ; and printed in both lan-
guages at Nuremberg. This Confession, with the wrong title
prefixed, is found in the " Waldensia of Lydius," Tom. I., part
II., p. 1, etc. The correct title is the following: " Oratio Ex-
cusatoria atque satisfactitva Fratrum Waldensium, Regi Vladis-
lao ad Vngariam missa." It occurs also in " Freheri Rerum
Bohemicarum antiqui scriptores aliquot insignes." Hanoviae,
MDCII., p. 238, etc., and in Brown's " Fasciculus," London,
MDCXC, p. 162. (See History, p. 186.)


Sent to King Uladislaus, at Ofen, in 1504, as a supplement to
the Confession of 1503, (No. IV.); written in Bohemian;
translated into Latin ; and printed in both languages at Nurem-
berg. This Confession, with the wrong title prefixed, is found in
the " Waldensia " of Lydius, Tom. I., Part II., p. 21, etc. The
correct title is the following : " Confessio Fidei Fratrum Walden-
sium, Regi Vladislao ad Hungariam missa." It occurs also in
Freherus, p. 245, etc., and in Brown, p. 168, etc. (See History,
p. 188.)


Addressed but not sent to King Uladislaus ; written in 1507,
in Bohemian; and printed at Nuremberg. The Metropolitan


Library at Prague contains a copy of this Confession. A second
edition came out at Jungbunzlau in 1518. (See History, p. 190.)


This Confession, which forms a reply to Dr. Augustin Kase-
brot's bitter attack upon the Unitas Fratrum, appeared in two

1. Tlie Bohemian Edition of 1507, being a reprint of Kase-
brot's letters with the answers interpolated. A copy of this
edition is, says Gindely, in the library of " Herr Hanka."

2. The Latin Edition of 1508, which omits Kasebrot's letters;
gives merely the answers of the Brethren ; and was published at
Nuremberg. Its title is : " Excusatio Fratrum Waldensium,
contra binas literas Doctoris Augustini, datas ad Regem." This
Confession is found in the "Waldensia" of Lydius, Tom. I., Fart
II., p. 34, etc. ; in Freherus, p. 249, etc.; and in Brown, p. 172,
etc. (See History, pp. 190 and 191.)


The Historical Preface of 1573 reckons as the next Confession
a letter written by the Brethren to King Lewis in 1524 ; Gindely
also assigns to it the rank of a Confession, adding however that
he is not acquainted with it. The original, in Bohemian, is lost;
a German translation has been preserved, which plainly shows
that it is not, in any sense, a Confession, but a mere letter, or pe-
tition, asking the King to protect the Brethren's Church. In
pointing thisoutCzerwenka,inhis "Geschichte der Evangelischen
Kirche in Bohmen," says, that the only copy known to exist is
found in the Wallerstein Library, at Kloster Maihingen, near
Nordlingen, in Bavaria ; and that he is the first to make known
its contents. While we do not dispute this latter claim, we are
happy to add, that he is mistaken as to the former. The Malin
Library of Moravian Literature, at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
contains another copy of the same book (No. 882). We append
the title : " Eyn sende briefF der bruder aus Behem die mann
bis hieher Pickarten vnnd Waldenser genant an den grossmech-
tigen herrn herrn Luwig Vngerischen vnde Behemischen
Konig gesant ym iar 1525. Verdolmetzt vom Behmischem
yns Deutzsche. Durch Johannem Zeysinck." (s. a. et 1.) A
curious arabesque surrounds the title. (See History, p. 237.)


VIII. CONFESSION. 1532, 1533 and 1538.

This Confession was prepared for the Margrave of Branden-
burg and appeared in several editions.

1. The Bohemian original of 1532. Printed at Jungbunzlau
in 1532, and again at Leitomischl in 1536, both of which editions
are lost. (See History, p. 244.)

2. The first and incorrect German Version of 1532. Prepared
by Michael Weiss, containing errors of translations and interpo-
lations of his own ; printed at Zurich without the knowledge,
and contrary to the wishes, of the Brethren, who tried to buy un
the edition. Of this very rare work there is a copy in the Malin
Library, No. 808. (See History, pp. 244 and 245, and Note 10
for the title.)

3. The second and correct German Version of 1533. Finished
in the beginning of 1533 and printed, in the same year, at Wit-
tenberg, under the supervision of Martin Luther, who wrote the
Preface. A second edition appeared in Germany, in 1568, but
is no longer extant. This version was presented to the Margrave.
It is exceedingly rare, but the Malin Library contains two
copies, Nos. 344 and 345. (See History, p. 245, and for the title,
Note 11.)

4. The Latin Version, or the " Aj)ologia Verae Doctrinae," of
1538, published by request of the divines of Augsburg. It was
printed at Wittenberg in 1538, simultaneously with the Confes-
sion of 1535. (Vide No. IX.) This version was thoroughly re-
vised and greatly improved. (See History, pp. 252 and 253,
and for the title. Note 21.) There is an original copy in the
Malin Library, No. 198; it is found also in the " Waldensia "
of Lydius, Tom. I., Part II., p. 92, etc.


Drawn up in Bohemian by Bishops Horn and Augusta ;
translated into Latin ; signed by twelve barons and thirty-three
knights of the Unitas Fratrum ; and presented on the fourteenth
of November, 1535, by a deputation of nobles, to the Emperor
Ferdinand the First, at Vienna. This Confession came out in
various editions.

1. The Bohemian Original of 1535. Printed, but not extant;
a second edition printed at Leitomischl, but also lost.

652 ArPEjsiDix.

2. The Latin Version of 1535. This version was, no doubt,
presented to the Emperor, although Gindely asserts that a Ger-
man translation was handed him. The Latin version was printed,
in 1538, in the office of George Rhaw, at Wittenberg, under the
supervision of Martin Luther, who wrote the Preface, and was
bound up with the Apology (Vide No. VIIL, 4) in one volume.
At the same time a number of copies of both works were issued
in separate volumes. (See History, p. 251 to 254, and for the
title, p. 253, Note 21.) Of this Confession there are two copies
in the Malin Library : the one. No, 341, in a separate volume;
the other, No. 198, bound up with the Apology ; it is found also
in the " Waldensia " of Lydius, Tom. II., Part IL, p. 1, etc.,
and in " Niemeyer's Collectio Confessionium in Ecclesiis Refor-
matis Publicatarum," p. 771, etc.

3. The Second Edition of the Latin Version published at Tubingen
in 1558. This edition was edited by Vergarius who, in addition
to Luther's preface appended favorable testimonials from other
divines. (See History, p. 299, and Note 8.) It is found in
" Koecher's Glaubensbekenntnisse der Bohmischen Bruder," p. 98,
etc. ; and in"Corpus et Syntagma Confessionium,Fidei," p. 217, etc.

A third edition came out at Dort.

4. The Polish Version of 1563, printed in 1563; and presented
by a deputation of nobles to King Sigismund Augustus, in 1564.
(See History, p. 338.)


This Confession, which is based on that of 1535, was presented
to the Emperor Maximilian, at Vienna, in 1564. It appeared in
two editions.

1. The Original Bohemian, printed in 1564. According to
Gindely there is a copy in the library of " Herr Hanka.

2. The German Version, printed in 1564 ; prepared by Peter
Herbert ; and corrected by Dr. Crato. This version was pre-
sented to the Emperor. (See History, pp. 363 and 364.) There
is a copy in the Library of the Bohemian Museum at Prague.
The work is exceedingly rare.


This last Confession of the Unitas Fratrum was prepared by
Professor Esrom Rudinger, of Wittenberg ; printed in that city;


and supplied with a testimonial from the Theological Faculty of
the University. It appeared in several editions.

1. The Latin Version of 1573. It is a revised Latin transla-
tion of the German Confession of 1564 (Vide No. X., 2); was to
take the place of the Latin Confession of 1535 (Vide No. IX., 2);
and to present the faith of the Brethren in its maturity. This
Confession appeared in March, 1573, with the Historical Preface
to which we have, several times, referred. (See History, pp. 372
to 375, and for the title, p. 373, Note 37.) It is found in the
"Waldensia" of Lydius, Tom. II., Part II., p. 95, etc. A second
edition came out at Basle, in 1575.

2. The German Version of 1573. A German translation of the
preceding Latin Confession (No. XL, 1); prepared and printed
at Wittenberg, under the supervision of Professor Riidinger, in
the same year in which the Latin version appeared. (See His-
tory, p. 373 and Note 13.) The Malin Library contains two
copies. No. 810; it is found also in Koecher, p. 161, etc. Its
title is the following : " Confessio. Das ist Bekentnis des Christ-
lichen Glaubens. Dem aller Durchleuchtigsten vud Grosmechtig-
sten Romischen zu Vngeren vnd Behem, etc. Konig Ferdinando,
Von den Herreu vnd Ritterschaft der Kron Behem, welche der
reinen Lere, in den Christlichen Gemeinen, so man der Behem-
ischen Briider einigkeit nennet, zugethan vnd verwand sind, zu
Wien in osterreich aufF den 14. Nouembris im 1535. Jar vber-
antwortet vnd verdeutscht, im Jar 1564. Diese bekentnis ist
auch Keiser Maximiliano dem andern, etc., und Konig Sigemund
in Polen, etc., vbergeben. Psalm 119. Ich rede von deinen
zeugnissen fur Konigen, vnd scheme mich nicht." Wittenberg,

3. TJie Herborn Edition of 1612, being a revised edition of the
Latin version. Of this edition the Malin Library contains a
copy. No. 767.



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 58 of 64)