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The preface to the reader.
To those that labour in the word and doctrine in these nations of England, Scotland, and Ireland, with all that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, John Owen wisheth grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
That so mean a person as I am should presume in this public manner to make address to all those comprised in the title of this epistle, I desire it may be ascribed to the business I come about and the message that I bring. It is about your great interest and concermnent, your whole portion and inheritance, your all, that I am to deal with you. If he who passes by his neighbour’s house, seeing a thief breaking up its foundations or setting fire to its chief materials, will be far from being censured as importune and impudent if he awake and call upon the inhabitants, though every way his betters (especially if all his own estate lie therein also), although he be not able to carry one vessel of water to the quenching of it, I hope that, finding persons endeavouring to put fire to the house of God, which house ye are, and labouring to steal away the whole treasure thereof, wherein also my own portion doth lie, I shall not be condemned of boldness or presumption if I at once cry out to all persons, however concerned, to take heed that we be not utterly despoiled of our treasure, though when I have so done, I be not able to give the least assistance to the defence of the house or quenching of the fire kindled about it. That of no less importance is this address unto you, a brief discovery of its occasion will evince.
The Holy Ghost tells us that we are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom we are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” Eph. ii. 20–22. And thus do all they become the house of Christ “who hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” Heb. iii. 6. In this house of God there are daily builders, according as new living stones are to be fitted to their places therein; and continual oppositions have there been made thereto, and will be, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Eph. iv. 13. In this work of building are some employed by Jesus Christ, and will be so to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20, Eph. iv. 11, 12; and some employ themselves at least in a pretence thereof, but are indeed, to a man, every one like the foolish woman that pulls down her house with both her hands. Of the first sort, “other foundation can no man lay,” nor doth go about to lay, “than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. iii. 11; but some of them build on this foundation “gold, silver, and precious stones,” keeping fast in the 12work to the form of “wholesome words,” and contending for “the faith that was once delivered unto the saints.”
Others, again, lay on “wood, hay, and stubble,” either contending about “foolish questions,” or “vain and unprofitable janglings,” or adding to what God hath commanded, or corrupting and perverting what he hath revealed and instituted, contrary to the proportion of faith, which should be the rule of all their prophecy, whereby they discharge their duty of building in this house. Those with whom I am at present to deal, and concerning whom I desire to tender you the ensuing account, are of the latter sort; such as, not content, with others, to attempt sundry parts of the building, to weaken its contexture, or deface its comeliness, do with all their might set themselves against the work [rock?] itself, the great foundation and corner-stone of the church, the Lord Jesus, who is” God blessed for ever.” They are those, I say, whom I would warn you of, in whom, of old and of late, the spirit of error hath set up itself with such an efficacy of pride and delusion, as, by all ways, means, [and] devices imaginable, to despoil our dear and blessed Redeemer, our Holy One, of his “eternal power and Godhead;” or to reject the eternal Son of God, and to substitute in his room a Christ of their own, one like themselves, and no more; to adulterate the church, and turn aside the saints to a thing of naught. If I may enjoy your patience whilst I give a brief account of them, their ways and endeavours for the compassing of their cursed ends; of our present concernment in their actings and seductions; of the fire kindled by them at our doors; of the sad diffusion of their poison throughout the world, beyond what enters into the hearts of the most of men to imagine, — I shall subjoin thereunto those cautions and directions which, with all humbleness, I have to tender to you, to guide some, and strengthen others, and stir up all to be watchful against this great, and I hope the last considerable attempt of Satan (by way of seduction and temptation) against the foundation of the gospel.
Those, then, who of old opposed the doctrine of the Trinity, especially of the deity of Christ, his person and natures, may be referred to three heads, and of them and their ways this is the sum:—
The first sort of them may be reckoned to be those who are commonly esteemed to be followers of Simon Magus, known chiefly by the names of Gnostics and Valentinians. These, with their abominable figments of æons, and their combinations, conjugations, genealogies, and unintelligible imaginations, wholly overthrowing the whole revelation of God concerning himself and his will, the Lord Jesus and the gospel, chiefly, with their leaders, Marcus, Basilides, Ptolemæus, Valentinus secundus (all following or imitating Simon Magus and Menander), of all others most perplexed and infected the primitive church: as Irenæus, lib. i.; Tertullian, Præscrip. ad Hæret. cap. xlix.; Philastrius, in his catalogue of heretics; Epiphanius in Panario, lib. i. tom. ii.; and Augustine, in his book of Heresies,55 Epiph. Hær 47. “ad quod vult deus manifeste.” To these may be added Tatianus, Cerdo, Marcion, and their companions (of whom see Tertullian at large, and Eusebius, in their respective places.) I shall not separate from them Montanus, with his enthusiastical formal associates; in whose abominations it was hoped that these latter days might have been unconcerned, until the present madness of some, commonly called Quakers, renewed their follies; but these may pass (with the Manichees), and those of the like fond imaginations, that ever and anon troubled the church with their madness and folly.
13Of the second rank Cerinthus is the head, with Judaizing Ebion;66 Ἐβίων Σαμαρειτῶν ἔχει το βδελυρὸν Ἰουδαίων τὸ ὄνομα Ναζωραίων τὴν γνώμην Καρποκρατιανῶν τὴν κακοτροπίαν — Epiph. both denying expressly the deity of Christ, and asserting him to be but a mere man; even in the entrance of the Gospel being confounded by John, as is affirmed by Epiphanius, Hær. 51. “Hieronymus de Seriptoribus Ecclesiasticis de Johanne.” The same abomination was again revived by Theodotus, called Coriarius (who, having once denied Christ, was resolved to do so always); excommunicated on that account by Victor, as Eusebius relates, Hist. Eccles. lib. 5 cap. ult., where he gives also an account of his associates in judgment, Artemon, Asclepiodotus, Natalius, etc.; and the books written against him are there also mentioned. But the most notorious head and patron of this madness was Paulus Samosatenus, bishop of Antioch, anno 272; of whose pride and passion, folly, followers, assistants, opposition, and excommunication, the history is extant at large in Eusebius. This man’s pomp and folly, his compliance with the Jews and Zenobia, the queen of the Palmyrians, who then invaded the eastern parts of the Roman empire, made him so infamous to all Christians, that the Socinians do scarce plead for him, or own him as the author of their opinion. Of him who succeeded him in his opposition to Jesus Christ, some fifty or sixty years after, namely, Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, they constantly boast. Of Samosatenus and his heresy, see Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 7 cap. 29, 30 and Hilary, De Synodis; of Photinus, Socrat. Eccles. Hist. lib. 2 cap. 24, 25. And with these do our present Socinians expressly agree in the matter of the person of Christ.77 “Injuria afficit Franken complures, qui hac de re idem ant senserunt ant sentiunt quod Socinus; et ne de iis qui hodie vivunt, quidquam dicamus, duos tantum nominabimus, quorum alter ante annos mille ducentos, alter vero nostra ærate vixit. Ille Photinus fuit quondam Sirmii episcopus, ipsorum etiam adversariorum testimonio divinarum literarum doctissimus,” etc. — Faust. Socin. Disputat. de Adorat Christi. cum Christian. Franken. p. 29.
To the third head I refer that deluge of Arianism, whose rise, conception, author, and promoters, advantages, success, and propagation; the persecutions, cruelty, and tyranny of the rulers, emperors, kings, and governors infected with it; its extent and continuance, — are known to all who have taken care in the least to inquire what was the state of the church of God in former days, that heresy being as it were the flood of water that pursued the church for some ages. Of Macedonius, Nestorius, and Eutyches, — the first denying the deity of the Holy Ghost, the second the hypostatical union of the two natures of Christ, and the last confounding them in his person, — I shall not need to speak. These by the Socinians of our days are disclaimed.88 Socin. ad Weik, cap. ix. p. 151; Smalc. Respon. ad lib. Smiglec. lib i. cap. i. p. 1.
In the second sort chiefly we are at present concerned. Now, to give an account, from what is come down unto us, by testimonies of good report and esteem, concerning those named, Theodotus, Paulus, Photinus, and the rest of the men who were the predecessors of them with whom we have to do, and undertook the same work in the infancy of the church which these are now engaged in when it is drawing, with the world, to its period, with what were their ways, lives, temptations, ends, agreements, differences among them, and in reference to the persons of our present contest (of whom a full account shall be given), is not my aim nor business. It hath been done by others; and to do it with any exactness, beyond what is commonly known, would take up more room than to this preface is allotted. Some things peculiarly seem of concernment for our observation, from the 14time wherein some of them acted their parts in the service of their master. What could possibly be more desired, for the safeguarding of any truth from the attempts of succeeding generations, and for giving it a security above all control, than that, upon public and owned opposition, it should receive a confirmation by men acted by the Holy Ghost, and giving out their sentence by inspiration from God? That, among other important heads of the gospel (as that of justification by faith and not by works, of Christian liberty, of the resurrection of the dead), this most glorious truth, of the eternal deity of the Son of God, underwent an open opposition from some of them above written, during the life of some of the apostles, before the writing of the Gospel by John, and was expressly vindicated by him in the beginning thereof, is acknowledged by all who have in any measure inquired into and impartially weighed the reports of those days. What could the heart of the most resolved unbeliever desire more for his satisfaction, than that God should speak from heaven for the conviction of his folly and ignorance? or what can our adversaries expect more from us, when we tell them that God himself immediately determined in the controversy wherein they are engaged? Perhaps they think that if he should now speak from heaven they would believe him. So said the Jews to Christ, if he would come down from the cross when they had nailed him to it, in the sight and under the contempt of many miracles greater than the delivery of himself could any way appear to be. The rich man in torments thought his brethren would repent if one came from the dead and preached to them. Abraham tells him, “If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Doubtless, if what is already written be not sufficient to convince our adversaries, though God should speak from heaven they would not believe, nor indeed can, if they will abide by the fundamental principles of their religion. Under this great disadvantage did the persuasion of the Socinians set out in the world, that Christ is only ψιλὸς ἄνθρωπος, — by nature no more but a man; so that persons not deeply acquainted with the methods of Satan and the darkness of the minds of men could not but be ready to conclude it certainly bound up in silence for ever. But how speedily it revived, with what pride and passion it was once and again endeavoured to be propagated in the world, those who have read the stories of Paulus Samosatenus are fully acquainted, who γυμνῇ τῇ κεφαλῇ, blasphemed the Son of God as one no more than a man. In some space of time, these men being decried by the general consent of the residue of mankind professing the name of Jesus Christ, and their abomination destroyed by the sword of faith, managed in the hands of the saints of those days, Satan perceiving himself at a loss and under an impossibility of prevalency, whilst the grossness of the error he strove to diffuse terrified all sorts from having any thing to do therewith, he puts on it, by the help of Arius and his followers, another gloss and appearance, with a pretence of allowing Christ a deity, though a subordinate, created, made, divine nature, which in the fulness of time assumed flesh of the virgin; — this opinion being, indeed, no less really destructive to the true and eternal deity of the Son of God than that of theirs before mentioned, who expressly affirmed him to be a mere man, and to have had no existence before his nativity at Bethlehem; yet having got a new pretence and colour of ascribing something more excellent and sublime unto him than that whereof we are all in common partakers, it is incredible with what speedy progress, like the breaking out of a mighty flood, it overspread the face of the earth. It is true, it had in its very entrance all the advantages of craft, fraud, and 15subtilty, and in its carrying on, of violence, force, and cruelty, and from the beginning to its end, of ignorance, blindness, superstition, and profaneness, among the generality of them with whom it had to deal, that ever any corrupt folly of the mind of man met withal. The rise, progress, cruelty, and continuance of this sect, with the times and seasons that passed with it over the nations, its entertainment by the many barbarous nations which wasted, spoiled, and divided among themselves the Roman empire, with their parting with it upon almost as evil an account as at first they embraced it, are not, as I said, my business now to discover. God purposing to revenge the pride, ingratitude, ignorance, profaneness, and idolatry of the world, which was then in a great measure got in amongst the professors of Christianity, by another more spiritual, cruel, subtile, and lasting “mystery of iniquity,” caused this abomination of Arianism to give place to the power of the then growing Roman antichristian state, which, about the sixth or seventh century of years since the incarnation of the Son of God, having lost all church order and communion of the institution of Jesus Christ, fell into an earthly, political, carnal combination, authorized and animated by the spirit of Satan, for the ends of superstition, idolatry, persecution, pride, and atheism; which thereby ever since [have been] vigorously pursued.
With these Arians,99 “Ariani Christo divinum cultum non.tribuerunt. Atqui longe præstat Trinitarium esse quam Christo divinum cultum non tribuere. Imo Trinitarius (meo quidem judicio) modo alioqui Christi præcepta conserver, nec ulla ratione eos persequatur, qui Trinitarii non sunt sed potius cum ipsis fraterne conferre, ac veritatem inquirere non recuset, merito Christianus dici debet. Qui vero Christum divina ratione non colit, is hullo mode Christianus dici potest: Quocirca non est dubitandum, quin Deo minus displicuerunt Homo-ousiani Trinitarii, quam vulgus Arianorum. Quid igitur mirum, si cum totus fere orbis Christianus in has duas (ut ita dicam) factiones divisus esset Deus visionibus et miraculis testari voluisset utram ipsarum viam salutis vel adhuc retineret, vel jam abjecisset. Adde Arianos acerrime tunc persecutos fuisse miseros Homo-ousianos, idque diu et variis in locis: quare merito se Deus Arianis iratum ostendit.” — Socin. ad Weik, p. 452. as was said, do our Socinians refuse communion, and will not be called after their name: not that their profession is better than theirs, or that they have much to blame in what they divulge, though they agree not with them in allowing a pre-existing nature to Christ before his incarnation; but that generation of men having made themselves infamous to posterity by their wickedness, perjuries, crafts, and bloody cruelties, and having been pursued by eminent and extraordinary judgments from God, they are not willing to partake of the prejudices which they justly lie under.
From the year 600, for divers ages, we have little noise of these men’s abominations, as to the person of Christ, in the world. Satan had something else to busy himself about.
A design he had in hand that was like to do him more service than any of his former attempts. Having, therefore, tried his utmost in open opposition to the person of Christ (the dregs of the poison thus shed abroad infecting in some measure a great part of the east to this day), by a way never before heard of, and which Christians were not exercised with nor in any measure aware of, he subtilely ruins and overthrows all his offices and the whole benefit of his mediation, and introduceth secretly a new worship from that which he appointed, by the means and endeavours of men pretending to act and do all that they did for the advancement of his kingdom and glory. And therefore, whilst the fatal apostasy of the western world, under the Roman antichrist, was contriving, carrying on, and heightening, till it came to its discovery and ruin, he stirs not at all with his old engines, which had brought in a revenue of obedience to his kingdom in no measure 16proportionable to this, which by this new device he found accruing to him. But when the appointed time of mercy was come, that God would visit his people with light from above, and begin to unravel the mystery of iniquity, whose abominations had destroyed the souls of them that embraced it, and whose cruelty had cut off the lives of thousands who had opposed it, by the Reformation, eminently and successfully begun and carried on from the year 1517, Satan perceiving that even this his great masterpiece of deceit and subtilty was like to fail him, and not to do him that service which formerly it had done, he again sets on foot his first design, of oppugning the eternal deity of the Son of God, still remembering that the ruin of his kingdom arose from the Godhead of his person and the efficacy of his mediation. So, then, as for the first three hundred years of the profession of the name of Christ in the world, he had variously opposed the Godhead of our blessed Saviour, by Simon Magus, Ebion, Cerinthus, Paulus Samosatenus, Marcus, Basilides, Valentinus, Calarbasus, Marcion, Photinus, Theodotus, and others; and from their dissipation and scattering, having gathered them all to a head in Arius and his abomination, — which sometimes with a mighty prevalency of force and violence, sometimes more subtilely (putting out by the way the several branches of Macedonianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, all looking the same way in their tendency therewith), — he managed almost for the space of the next three hundred years ensuing; and losing at length that hold, he had spent more than double that space of time in carrying on his design of the great anti-christian papal apostasy; being about the times before mentioned most clearly and eminently discovered in his wicked design, and being in danger to lose his kingdom, which he had been so long in possession of, intending if it were possible to retrieve his advantage again, he sets on those men who had been instrumental to reduce the Christian religion into its primitive state and condition with those very errors and abominations wherewith he opposed and assailed the primitive professors thereof, — if they will have the apostles’ doctrine, they shall have the opposition that was made unto it in the apostles’ times: his hopes being possibly the same that formerly they were (but assuredly Christ will prevent him); — for as whilst the professors of the religion of Jesus Christ were spiritual, and full of the power of that religion they did profess, they defended the truth thereof, either by suffering, as under Constantius, Valens, and the Goths and Vandals, or by spiritual means and weapons; so when they were carnal, and lost the life of the gospel, yet endeavouring to retain the truth of the letter thereof, falling on carnal, politic ways for the supportment of it, and the suppressing of what opposed it, Satan quickly closed in with them, and accomplished all his ends by them, causing them to walk in all those ways of law, policy, blood, cruelty, and violence, for the destruction of the truth, which they first engaged in for the rooting out of errors and heresies. “Haud ignota loquor.” Those who have considered the occasions and advantages of the bishop of Rome’s rise and progress know these things to be so. Perhaps, I say, he might have thoughts to manage the same Or the like design at the beginning of the Reformation, when, with great craft and subtilty, he set on foot again his opposition to the person of Christ; which being the business chiefly under consideration, I shall give some brief account thereof.
Those who have formerly communicated their thoughts and observations to us on this subject have commonly given rise to their discourses from Servetus, with the transactions about him in Helvetia, and the ending of his tragedy at Geneva. The things of him being commonly known, and 17my design being to deal with them in their chief seat and residence, where, after they had a while hovered about most nations of Europe, they settled themselves, I shall forbear to pursue them up and down in their flight, and meet with them only at their nest in Poland and the regions adjoining. The leaders of them had most of them separated themselves from the Papacy on pretence of embracing the reformed religion; and under that covert were a long time sheltered from violence, and got many advantages of insinuating their abominations (which they were thoroughly drenched withal before they left the Papacy) into the minds of many who professed the gospel.
The first open breach they made in Poland was in the year (something having been attempted before), most of the leaders being Italians, men of subtile and serpentine wits. The chief leaders of them were Georgius Blandrata, Petrus Statorius, Franciscus Lismaninus; all which had been eminent in promoting the Reformation.1010 “De tribus in una divina essentia personis anno 1562 controversiam moverunt, in Min. Pol. Itali quidam advenæ; præcipui autem assertores contra S. S. Trinitatem fuere, Georgius Blandrata theologus ac medicus, Petrus Statorius, Tonvillanus, Franciscus Lismaninus theologiæ doctor, quorum tamen ab initio opera reformationis valde fuit ecclesiæ Dei procliva.” — Hist. Eccles. Slavon lib. i. p. 84.
Upon their first tumultuating, Statorius, to whom afterwards Socinus wrote sundry epistles, and lived with him in great intimacy, was summoned to a meeting of ministers, upon an accusation that he denied that the Holy Spirit was to be invocated. Things being not yet ripe, the man knowing that if he were cast out by them he should not know where to obtain shelter, he secured himself by dissimulation, and subscribed this confession: “I receive and reverence the prophetical and apostolical doctrine, containing the true knowledge of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and freely profess that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, ought to be worshipped with the same religion or worship, distinctly or respectively, and to be invocated, according to the truth of the holy Scripture. And, lastly, I do plainly detest every heretical blasphemy concerning God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whether it be Arian, Servetian, Eunomian, or Stancarian.1111 “Propheticam et apestolicam doctrinam, quæ veram Dei Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti cognitionem continet, amplector ac veneror parique religione Deum Pattrem, Filium et Spiritum Sanctum distincte secundum sacrarum literarum veritatem colendum, implorandumque precibus, libere profiteor. Denique omnem hæreticam de Deo Patre, Fitio, et Spiritu Sancto blasphemiam, plane detestor, sive Ariana illa, sive Servetiana, sive Eunomiana, sive Stancariana.” — Act. Eccles. Min. Pol. Syn. Pinczov. anno 1559.”And this confession is to be seen in the acts of that convention, under his own hand, to this day; which notwithstanding, he was a fierce opposer of the doctrine here professed all his days afterward.
And I the rather mention this, because I am not without too much ground of persuasion that thousands of the same judgment with this man do at this day, by the like dissimulation, live and enjoy many advantages both in the Papacy and among the reformed churches, spreading the poison of their abominations as they can. This Statorius I find, by the frequent mention made of him by Socinus, to have lived many years in Poland, with what end and issue of his life I know not, nor more of him but what is contained in Beza’s two epistles to him, whose scholar he had been, when he seemed to have had other opinions about the essence of God than those he afterward settled in by the instruction of Socinus.
And this man was one of the first heads of that multitude of men commonly known by the name of Anabaptists among the Papists (who took notice of little but their outward worship), who, having entertained strange, wild, and blasphemous thoughts concerning the essence of God, 18were afterward brought to a kind of settlement by Socinus, in that religion he had prepared to serve them all; and into his word at last consented the whole droves of Essentiators, Tritheists, Arians, and Sabellians, that swarmed in those days in Silesia, Moravia, and some other parts of Germany.
For Blandrata, his story is so well known, from the epistles of Calvin and Beza, and others, that I shall not insist much upon it. The sum of what is commonly known of him is collected by Hornbeck.
The records of the synods in Poland of the reformed churches give us somewhat farther of him; as doth Socinus also against Weik. Being an excellent physician, he was entertained, at his first coming into Poland, by Prince Radzivil, the then great patron of the reformed religion in those parts of the world, — one of the same family with this captain-general of the Polonian forces for the great dukedom of Lithuania, a man of great success in many fights and battles against the Muscovites, continuing the same office to this day. To him Calvin instantly wrote, that he should take care of Blandrata, as a man not only inclinable to, but wholly infected with, Servetianism.1212 “De Georgio Blandrata, pro singulari suo in ecclesiam Dei amore præmonuit Polonos Cl. vir Johan. Cal. quinetiam illustrissimum principem palatinum, Vilocensem, Nicolaum Radzivilium, cujus patrocinio Blandrata tum utebatur. Subolfecerat enim vir doctus Blandratæ ingenium ad Serveti sententiam esse compositum: itaque serius principi suasor fuit, ut sibi ab eo caveret: sed homo ille facile, technis suis fallacibus, optimo principi fucum fecit, adeo ut ille iratus Johanni Calvino, Blandratam nomine suo ad Synodum Pinckzoviensem anno 1561, 25 Jun. habitam, delegaret cum literis, quibus serio postulabat in causa Blandratæ, cum ecclesia, dicebatque male et præcipitanter egisse Calvinum, quod Blandratam traduceret, et Servetismi notaret.” — Regen. Hist. lib. i. p. 85. In that, as in many other things he admonished men of by his epistles, that wise and diligent person had the fate to tell the truth and not be believed. See Calvin’s epistles, about the year 1561. But the man on this occasion being sent to the meeting at Pinckzow (as Statorius), he subscribes this confession:—
“I profess myself to believe in one God the Father, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, and in one Holy Ghost, whereof each is essentially God. I detest the plurality of Gods, seeing to us there is one only God, indivisible in essence. I confess three distinct persons, the eternal deity and generation of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, true and eternal God, proceeding from them both.”1313 “Fateor me credere in unum Deum Patrem, et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum Filium ejus, et in unum Spiritum Sanctum, quorum quilibet est essentialiter Deus. Deorum pluralitatem detestor, cum unus tantum sit nobis Deus, essentia indivisibilis. Fateor tres esse distinctas hypostases; et æternam Christi divinitatem et generationem; et Spiritum Sanctum, unum et æteruum Deum, ab utroque procedentem.” — Act. Syn. Pinckzov. anno 1561.
This did the wretched man think meet to do, that he might preserve the good esteem of his patron and reserve himself for a fitter opportunity of doing mischief; which also he did, obtaining a testimonial from the whole meeting of his soundness in the faith, with letters to Prince Radzivil and to Calvin signifying the same.
Not long after this, by the great repute of his skill in physic, he became known and physician to Stephen, king of Poland; by whose favour, having no small liberty indulged him, he became the patron of all the Antitrinitarians of all sorts throughout Poland and Transylvania. What books he wrote, and what pains he took in propagating their cause, hath been declared by others. The last epistle of Socinus, in order as they are printed (it being without date, yet evidently written many years before most of them that went before it), is to this Blandrata, whose inscription is, “Amplissimo clarissimoque viro Georgio Blandratæ Stephani invictissimi regis 19Poloniæ, etc., archiatro et conciliario intimo, domino, æ patrono suo perpetua observantia colendo; et subscribitur, Tibi in Domino Jesu deditissimus cliens tuus F. S.” To that esteem was he grown amongst them, because of his advantages to insinuate them into the knowledge of great men, which they mostly aimed at; so that afterward, when Socinus wrote his answer about magistrates to Palæologus, in defence of the Racovians,1414 “Dixit heri vir amplissimus Blandrata, librum se tuum contra Palæologum accepisse. Habes tu unum saltem cui sis charissimus, cui omnia debes, qui judicio maxime polleat: cur tantum studium, consiliique pondus neglexisti? poteras non tantum ejus censuram absoluti jam libri petere, sed consilium postulare de subeundo non levi labore. Et possum affirmare senis consilium tibi sine dubio, si petivisti, profuturum fuisse.” — Ep. Marcel Squarc. ad Faust. Socin. Marcellus Squarcialupus, his countryman, a man of the same persuasion with him, falls foully on him, that he would venture to do it without the knowledge and consent of this great patron of theirs.
But though this man by his dissimulation and falsehood thus escaped censure, and by his art and cunning insinuation obtained high promotions and heaped up great riches in the world, yet even in this life he escaped not the revenging hand of God. He was found at length with his neck broke in his bed; by what hand none knoweth. Wherefore Socinus, observing that this judgment of God upon him, as that on Franciscus David (of which mention shall be made afterward), would be fixed on in the thoughts of men to the prejudice of the cause which he favoured, considering more what was for his interest than what was decent or convenient, decries him for an apostate to the Jesuits before he was so destroyed, and intimates that he was strangled in his bed by a kinsman whom he had made his heir, for haste to take possession of his great wealth.1515 “Monendum lectorem harum rerum ignarum censui, Blandratam haud paulum ante mortem suam vivente adhuc Stephano rege Poloniæ, in illius gratiam, et quo illum erga se liberaliorem (ut fecit) redderet, plurimum remisisse de studio suo in ecclesiis nostris Transilvanicis nostrisque hominibus juvandis: imo eo tandem devenisse ut vix existimaretur priorem quam tantopere foverat de Deo et Christo sententiam retinere, sed potius Jesuitis, qui in ea provincia tunc temporis Stephani regis, et ejus fratris Christopheri haud multo ante vitam functi, ope ac liberalitate non mediocriter, fiorebant, jam adhærere aut certe cum eis quodammodo colludere Illud certissimum est, cum ab eo tempore quo liberalitatem quam ambiebat regis Stephani erga se est expertus, coepisse quosdam ex nostris hominibus quos charissimos prius habebat, et suis opibus juvabat spernere ac deserere, etiam contra promissa et obligationem suam, et tandem illos penitus deseruisse, atque omni veræ et sinceræ pietatis studio valedixisse, et solis pecuniis congerendis intentum fuisse, quæ fortasse justissimo Dei judicio, quod gravissimum exercere solet contra tales desertores, ei necem ab eo quem suum heredem fecerat conciliarunt.” — Socin. ad Weik. cap. ii. p. 43, 44.
The story I have adjoined at large, that the man’s ingenuity and thankfulness to his friend and patron may be seen. He tells us, that before the death of Stephen, king of Poland, he was turned from their profession by the Jesuits. Stephen, king of Poland, died in the year 1588, according to Helvicus. That very year did Socinus write his answer to Volanus, the second part whereof he inscribed with all the magnifical titles before mentioned to Blandrata, professing himself his devoted client, and him the great patron of their religion! So that though I can easily believe what he reports of his covetousness and treachery, and the manner of his death, yet as to his apostasy (though possibly he might fall more and more under the power of his atheism), I suppose the great reason of imputing that to him was to avoid the scandal of the fearful judgment of God on him in his death.
For Lismaninus, the third person mentioned, he was accused of Arianism at a convention at Morden, anno 1553, and there acquitted with a testimonial.1616 Act. Syn. Morden anno 1553. But in the year 1561, at another meeting at Whodrislave, he 20was convicted of double dealing, and after that wholly fell off to the Antitrinitarians, and in the issue drowned himself in a well.1717 Bez. Ep. 81.
And these were the chief settled troublers at the first of the Polonian reformed churches. The stories of Paulus Alciatus, Valentinus Gentilis, Bernardus Ochinus, and some others, are so well known, out of the epistles of Calvin, Beza, Bullinger, Zanchius, with what hath of late from them been collected by Cloppenburgius, Hornbeck, Maresius, Becmannus, etc., that it cannot but be needless labour for me to go over them again.
That which I aim at is, from their own writings, and what remains on record concerning them, to give a brief account of the first breaking in of Anti-trinitarianism into the reformed churches of Poland, and their confused condition before headed by Socinus, into whose name they have since been all baptized. This, then, was the state of the churches in those days: The reformed religion spreading in great abundance, and churches being multiplied every day in Poland, Lithuania, and the parts adjoining; some tumults having been raised, and stirs made by Osiander and Stancarus about the essential righteousness and mediation of Christ (concerning which the reader may consult Calvin at large); many wild and foolish opinions being scattered up and down, about the nature of God, the Trinity, and Anabaptism, by many foreigners, sundry being thereby defiled, the opinions of Servetus having wholly infected sundry Italians: the persons before spoken of, then living at Geneva and about the towns of the Switzers, that embraced the gospel, being forced to flee for fear of being dealt withal as Servetus was (the judgment of most Christian rulers in whose days leading them to such a procedure, how rightly I do not now determine), scarce any one of them escaping without imprisonment and abjuration (an ill foundation of their after profession), they went most of them into Poland, looked on by them as a place of liberty, and joined themselves to the reformed churches in those places, and continuing many years in their communion, took the opportunity to entice and seduce many ministers with others, and to strengthen them who were fallen into the abominations mentioned before their coming to them.
After many tergiversations, many examinations of them, many false subscriptions, in the year 1562, they fell into open division and separation from the reformed churches.1818 “Cum diutius non possint in ecclesia delitescere, manifesto schismate Petricoviæ, anno 1562, habito prius colloquio eam scindunt et in sententiam suam pertrahunt plurimos tum ex ministris, tum ex patronis. Ministri qui part em eorum.sequebantur erant in principio Gregorlus Pauli,” etc. — Hist. Eccles. Slavon. Regen. lib. i. p. 86. The ministers that fell off with them, besides Lismaninus and his companions (of whom before), were Gregorius Pauli, Stanislaus Lutonius, Martinus Crovicius, Stanislaus Paclesius, Georgius Schomanus, and others, most of whom before had taken good pains in preaching the gospel. The chief patrons and promoters were Johannes Miemoljevius, Hieronymus Philoponius, Johannes Cazaccovius, the one a judge, the other a captain, the third a gentleman, — all men of great esteem.
The year that this breach was made, Lælius Socinus, then of the age of thirty-seven years, who laid the foundations that his nephew after built upon, died in Switzerland, as the author of the life of Faustus Socinus informs us.1919 “Lælius interim præmatura morte extinctus est; incidit mors in diem parendinum id. Maii. 1562, ætatis veto ejus septimi supra trigesimum.” — Eques. Polon Vita Faust. Socin. Senens. The man’s life is known: he was full of Servetianism, and had 21attempted to draw sundry men of note to his abominations; a man of great subtilty and cunning, as Beza says of him,2020 “Fuit etiam Lælius Socinus Senensis incredibiliter ad contradicendum et varios nectendos nodos comparatus; nec, nisi post mortem, cognitus hujusmodi perniciosissimis hæresibus laborare.” — Epist. ad Eccles. Orthodox. Ep. 81. incredibly furnished for contradiction and sophism; which the author of the life of Socinus phrases, he was “suggerendæ veritatis mirus artifex.” He made, as I said, many private attempts on sundry persons to entice them to Photinianism; on some with success, on others without. Of his dealing with him, and the advantage he had so to do, Zanchius gives an account in his preface to his book “De Tribus Elohim.”2121 “Fuit is Lælius nobili honestaque familia natus, bene Græce et Hebraice doctus, vitæque etiam externæ inculpatæ, quarum rerum causa mihi quoque intercesserat cumillo non vulgaris amicitia; sed homo fuit plenus diversarum hæresium, quas tamen mihi nunquam proponebat nisi disputandi causa, et semper interrogans, quasi cuperet doceri. Hanc vero Samosatenianam imprimis annos multos fovit, et quoscunque potuit pertraxit in eundem errorem; pertraxit autem non paucos: me quoque ut dixi diversis tentabat rationibus, si eodem possit errore simul, et æterno exitio secum involvere.” — Zanch. Prefat. ad lib. de Tribus Elohim.
He was, as the author of the life of Faustus Socinus relates, in a readiness to have published his notions and conceptions, when God, by his merciful providence, to prevent a little the pouring out of the poison by so skillful a hand, took him off by sudden death; and Faustus himself gives the same account of the season of his death in an epistle to Dudithius.2222 “Cum amicorum precibus permotus tandem constituisset, atque etiam coepisset, saltem inter ipsos, nonnulla in apertum proferre.” — Socin, ad Andræum Dudithium.
At his death, Faustus Socinus, being then about the age of twenty-three years, seizing upon all his uncle’s books, after a while returned into Italy, and there spent in courtship and idleness in Florence twelve years; which he afterward grievously lamented, as shall be declared. Leaving him a while to his pleasure in the court of the great duke, we may make back again into Poland, and consider the progress of the persons who made way for his coming amongst them. Having made their separation, and drawn many after them, they at length brought their business to that height that they came to a disputation with the reformed ministers at Petricove2323 “Cum his Antitrinitariis publicam habuerunt evangelici disputationem Petricoviæ in comitiis regni Sigism. 11 Aug., rege permittente, anno 1565. Disputatores fuerunt,” etc. — Regen. ubi supra. (where the parliament of the kingdom then was) by the permission of Sigismund the king, in the year 1565, whereof the ensuing account is given by Antonius Possevine the Jesuit, in Atheis, sui sæculi, cap. xiii. fol. 15.
The assembly of states was called against the Muscovians. The nobility desiring a conference between the ministers of the reformed churches and the Antitrinitarians, it was allowed by Sigismund the king. On the part of the reformed churches there were four ministers; as many of the other side came also prepared for the encounter. Being met, after some discourse the chief marshal of the kingdom, then a Protestant, used these words, “Seeing the proposition to be debated is agreed on, begin, in the name of the one God and the Trinity.”2424 “Jam igitur constituta, propositione qua de agendum est, in nomine Dei unius et Trinitatis exordimini.” Whereupon one of the opposite party instantly cried out, “We cannot here say Amen, nor do we know that God, the Trinity.”2525 “Nos vero hic non dicimus Amen, neque enim nos novimus Deum istum Trinitatem.” ”Whereunto the ministers subjoined, “We have no need of any other proposition, seeing this hath offered itself; for, God assisting, we will, and are ready to demonstrate that the Holy Ghost doth 22not teach us any other God in the Scripture, but him only who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that is, one God in trinity.”2626 “Nulla jam alia propositione nobis opus est, cum hæc se obtulerit; nos autem, Deo volente, et volumus, et parati sumus demonstrate, quod Spiritus Sanctus non allure nos Deum in Sciptura doceat, nisi solum Patrem, Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum, id est, Deum unum in trinitæ.”
This colloquy continued three days. In the first, the ministers who were the opponents (the other always choosing to answer), by express texts of Scripture in abundance, confirmed the truth. In the beginning of their testimonies they appealed to the beginning of the Old and New Testament;2727 “Nos quidem o amici haud difficulter poterimus vobiscum earn rem transigere, nam ubi primum Biblia aperueritis, et initium veteris et novæ legis consideraveritis, statim offendetis, id ibi asseri quod vos pernegatis, sic enim Geneseos primo Scriptura loquitur, Faciamus hominem ad imaginem nostram. Nostram, inquit, non meam. Postea vero addit, Fecit Deus. Novæ autem legis initium hoc est, Verbum erat apud Deum, et Verbum erat Deus. Videtis ut in veteri lege loquatur unus Deus tanquam de tribus; hic vero quod Filius Verbum æternum (nam quod ab initio erat, ternum est) erat apud Deum, et erat idem, non alius, ut vos perperam mterpretamini, Deus.” and upon both places confounded their adversaries. The second day the testimonies of the ancient writers of the church were produced, with no less success. And on the third, the stories of Arius and some other heretics of old. The issue of the disputation was to the great advantage of the truth; which Possevine himself cannot deny, though he affirms a little after that the Calvinists could not confute the Trinitarians, as he calls them, though they used the same arguments that the Catholics did, cap. xiv. p. 366.
Possevine confesses that the ministers (as they called themselves) of Sarmatia and Transylvania, in their book of the False and True Knowledge of God, took advantage of the images of the Catholics;2828 “Mox agunt de imaginibus sanctissimæ Trinitatis, non contenti simpliciorum quorundam picturas convellere, eas item quæ ab Ecclesia Catholica rite usurpatæ sunt, scommatibus et blasphemis carminibus proscindunt.” — Anton. Possev. lib. viii. cap. xv., xvi. for whose satisfaction, it seems, he subjoins the theses of Thyreus, wherein he labours to prove the use of those abominable idols to be lawful: of which in the close of this address.
And this was the first great obstacle that was laid in the way of the progress of the reformed religion in Poland; which, by Satan’s taking the advantage of this horrible scandal, is at this day, in those parts of the world, weak and oppressed. With what power the gospel did come upon the inhabitants of those countries at the first, and what number of persons it prevailed upon to forsake their dumb idols, which in Egyptian darkness they had long worshipped, is evident from the complaint of Cichovius the priest, who tells us that “about those times, in the whole parliament of the dukedom of Lithuania, there were not above one or two Catholics,” as he calls them, “besides the bishops.”2929 “Profecto illis temporibus res catholicorum fere deplorata erat; cum in amplissimo senatu vix unus aut alter præter episcopos reperiebatur.” — Cassper Cicovius Canon. et Parock. Sardom. Alloquia. Yea, among the bishops themselves, some were come off to the reformed churches; amongst whom Georgius Petrovicius, bishop of Sarmogitia, is reckoned by Diaterieus, Chron. p. 49. Yea, and so far had the gospel influenced those nations, that in the year 1542, upon the death of King Sigismund II., during the interregnum, a decree was made in parliament, with general consent, that no prejudice should arise to any for the protestant religion, but that a firm union should be between the persons of both religions, popish and protestant; and that whosoever was chosen king should take an oath to preserve this union and the liberty of the protestant religion. — Sarricius, Annal. Pol. lib. viii. p. 403.
23And when Henry, duke of Anjou, brother to Charles IX., king of France, was elected king of Poland3030 “Neque vero hoc juramentum pro tuenda pace evangelica præstitisset, nisi eum Johannes Shirli palatinus Cracoviensis, vir plenus zeli et magnæ cum potentia authoritatis, adegisset; fertur enim cum rex Henricus jam coronandus esset nec pacem inter dissidentes se conservaturum jurasset, sed silentio eludere vellet, accepta quæ regi tum præferebatur corona exittun ex templo parasse, et in hæc prorupisse verba, ‘Si non jurabis, non regnabis’ ” — Hist Eccles. Slavon. Regen. lib. i. p. 92. (being then a man of great esteem in the world, for the wars which in France he had managed for the Papists against the Prince of Conde and the never-enough-magnified Gasper Coligni,3131 “Condæo succedit Coliguius, vir natalibus et militia clarus, qui nisi regi suo moveret bellum, dissidii fomes et caput, virtutis heroicæ exemplar erat, supra antiquos duces, quos mirata est Græcia, quos Roma extulit.” — Gramond. Hist. Gal. lib. vi. being also consenting at least to the barbarous massacre of the Protestants in that nation), and coming to the church where he was to be crowned, by the advice of the clergy, would have avoided the oath of preserving the Protestants and keeping peace between the dissenters in religion, John Shirli, palatine of Cracovia, took up the crown, and making ready to go away with it out of the convention, cried out, “Si non jurabis, non regnabis,” — “If you will not swear, you shall not reign;” and thereby compelled him to take the oath agreed upon.
This progress, I say, had the doctrine of the gospel made in those nations, so considerable a portion of the body of the people were won over to the belief of it, when, through the craft and subtilty of the old enemy of the propagation thereof, by this apostasy of some to Tritheism, as Gregorius Pauli, of some to Arianism, as Erasmus Johannes, of some to Photinianism, as Statorius and Blandrata, some to Judaism, as Seidelius (of whom afterward), the foundation of the whole building was loosened, and, instead of a progress, the religion has gone backwards almost constantly to this day. When this difference first fell out, the Papists3232 “Quid interea bonus ille Hosius Cardinalis cum suis Catholicis? Nempe ridere suaviter, et quasi ista nihil ad ipsos pertinerent, aliud quidvis agere, imo etiam nostros undique, ad extinguendum hoc incendium accurentes, probrosis libellis arcessere.” — Bez. Ep. 81. not once moved a mouth or pen for a long time against the broachers of all the blasphemies mentioned, hoping that by the breaches made by them on the reformed churches they should at length be able to triumph over both; for which end, in their disputes since with Protestants, they have striven to take advantage of the apostasy of many of those who had pretended to plead against the Papacy in behalf of the reformed churches and afterward turned Antitrinitarians, as I remember it is particularly insisted on in an English treatise which I saw many years ago, called “Micheus, the Converted Jew.” And indeed it is supposed that both Paulus Alciatus and Ochinus turned Mohammedans.3333 “Cum Gentilis de Paulo Alciato sodali suo rogaretur, ‘factus est’ inquit ‘Mahometanus.’ ” — Bez. Ep. ubi supra.
Having thus, then, disturbed the carrying on of the Reformation, many ministers and churches falling off to Tritheism and Samosatenianism, they laid the foundation of their meeting at Racovia; from which place they have been most known since and taken notice of in the world. The first foundation of what they call the “church” in that place was made by a confluence of strangers out of Bohemia and Moravia, with some Polonians,3434 “Erant alii quoque Antitrinitarii sectm Anabaptisticm per Bohsemiam et Moraviam longe lateque serpentis sectatores, qui absurdam illam bonorum communionem, observanturi ultro abjectis suis conditiouibus Racoviam se contulerunt. Novam Hierusalem ibi loci exstructuri (ut aiebant), ad hanc ineptam societatem plurimos invitabant nobiles,” etc. — Regen. lib. i. p. 90. known only by the name of Anabaptists, but professing a community of 24goods and a setting up of the kingdom of Christ, calling Racovia, where they met, the New Jerusalem, or at least professing that there they intended to build and establish the New Jerusalem, with other fanatical follies; which Satan hath revived in persons not unlike them, and caused to be acted over again, in the days wherein we live, though, for the most part, with less appearance of holiness and integrity of conversation than in them who went before.
The leaders of these men, who called themselves their “ministers,” were Gregorius Pauli and Daniel Bielenscius: of whom Bielenscius afterward recanted; and Gregorius Pauli, being utterly wearied, ran away from them as from a hard service,3535 “Quid commemorem animosi illius Gregorii Pauli insalutato suo grege fugam.” — Bez. and, as Faustus Socinus tells us, in his preface to his answer to Palæologus, in his old age left off all study, and betook himself to other employments. Such were the persons by whom this stir began.
This Gregorius Pauli, Schlusselburgius very ignorantly affirms to have been the head of the Antitrinitarians and their captain,3636 “Novi isti Ariani exorti sunt in Polonia, Lithuania, et ipsa nimirum Transylvania, ac eorum caput et ducem se profitetur Gregorius Pauli minister ecclesiæ Racoviensis, homo impius, ambitiosus et in blasphemis effutiendis plane effrænis; et ita quidem jactabundus ut adscribere sibi, cum aliis Arianis, non vereatur excisionem antichristi: ejusdem extirpationem ab imis fundamentis: Lutherum enim vix minimam partem revelationis antichristi reliquisse.” — Schlusselburg, de Antitrin. p. 3. when he was a mere common trooper amongst them, and followed after others, running away betimes, — an enthusiastical, antimagistratical heretic, pleading for community of goods. But this Gregory had said that Luther did but the least part of the work for the destruction of antichrist; and hence is the anger of Doctor Conradus, who everywhere shows himself as zealous of the honour of Luther as of Jesus Christ. So was the man, who had some divinity, but scarce any Latin at all.
Be pleased now to take a brief view of the state of these men before the coming of Faustus Socinus into Poland and Transylvania, both these nations, after the death of Sigismund II., being in the power of the same family of the Bathori. Of those who professed the reformed religion and were fallen from the Papacy, there were three sorts, — Lutherans, and Calvinists, and the United Brethren; which last were originally Bohemian exiles, but, professing and practising a more strict way of church order and fellowship than the other, had very many of the nobility of Poland and the people joined to their communion. The two latter agreed in all points of doctrine, and at length came, in sundry meetings and synods, to a fair agreement and correspondency, forbearing one another wherein they could not concur in judgment. Now, as these grew up to union amongst themselves, the mixed multitude of several nations that had joined themselves unto them in their departure out of Egypt fell a lusting after the abominations mentioned, and either withdrew themselves or were thrown out from their communion.
At first there were almost as many minds as men amongst them, the tessera of their agreement among themselves being purely opposition to the Trinity, upon what principle soever. Had a man learned to blaspheme the holy Trinity, were it on Photinian, Arian, Sabellian, yea, Mohammedan or Judaical principles, he was a companion and brother amongst them! To this the most of them added Anabaptism, with the necessity of it, and among the Papists were known by no other name. That they opposed the Trinity, that they consented not to the reformed churches, was their religion. For Pelagianism, afterward introduced by Socinus, 25there was little or no mention [of it] among them. In this estate, divided amongst themselves, notwithstanding some attempts in their synods (for synods they had) to keep a kind of peace in all their diversities of opinions, spending their time in disputes and quarrellings, were they when Faustus Socinus came into Poland; who at length brought them into the condition wherein they are, by the means and ways that shall be farther insisted on.
And this state of things, considering how not unlike the condition of multitudes of men is thereunto in these nations wherein we live, hath oftentimes made me fear that if Satan should put it into the heart of any person of learning and ability to serve his lust and ambition with craft, wisdom, and diligence, it were not impossible for him to gather the dispersed and divided opinionatists of our days to a consent in some such body of religion as that which Socinus framed for the Polonians. But of him, his person, and labours, by what ways and means he attained his end, it may not be unacceptable, from his own and friends’ writings, to give some farther account.
That Faustus Socinus, of Sienna, was born of a good and ancient family, famous for their skill in the law, in the month of December in the year 1539; that he lived in his own country until he was about the age of twenty years; that then leaving his country after his uncle Lælius, he went to Leyden, and lived there three years; that then, upon the death of his uncle, having got his books, he returned into Italy, and lived in the court of the great Duke of Tuscany twelve years, about the close of which time he wrote his book in Italian, “De Authoritate Sacræ Scripturæ;” that leaving his country he came to Basil in Switzerland, and abode there three years and somewhat more, — are things commonly known, and so little to our purpose that I shall not insist upon them.
All the while he was at Basil and about Germany he kept his opinions much to himself, being intent upon the study of his uncle Lælius’ notes, as the Polonian gentleman who wrote his life confesseth;3737 “Illic solidum triennium quod excurrit theologiæ studio incubuit, paucissimis Lælii patrui scriptis et pluribus ab iis relictis notis multum adjutus est.” — Vita Faust. Socin. whereunto he added the Dialogues of Bernardus Ochinus, as himself acknowledgeth, which about that time were turned into Latin by Castalio,3838 “Bernardini Ochini Dialogos transtuli, non ut judex, sed ut translator; et ex ejusmodi opera ad alendam familiam quæstum facere solitus.” — Castal. Apol. as he professed, to get money by his labour to live upon (though he pleads that he read Ochinus’ Dialogues in Poland,3939 “Illud certissimum est, Gregorium Zarnovecium, ministrum ut vocant evangelicum qui nominatim adversus disputationem meam de Jesu Christo Salvatore libellum Polonice edidit, in ejus præfatione asserere, me ex Ochini Dialogis annis abhinc circiter triquinta qumque editis sententiam illius meæ disputationis accepisse, nam certe, in Dialogis ms, quorum non pauca exempla jamdiu in ipsa Polonia mihi videre contigit,” etc. — Faust Socin. Ep. ad Martinum Vaidovitum Acad. Craco. Professorem. and as it seems not before), and from thence he was esteemed to have taken his doctrine of the mediation of Christ.
The papers of his uncle Lælius, of which himself often makes mention, were principally his comment upon the first chapter of St John, and some notes upon sundry texts of Scripture giving testimony to the deity of Christ; among which Faustus extols that abominable corruption of John viii. 58, of which afterward I shall speak at large, Socin. Respon. ad Eras. Johan. His comment on the first of John,4040 “Lælius in Samosateni partes clam transiit; verbo Dei ut ex quodam ejus scripto nunc liquet adeo veteratorie et plane versute depravato, ac præsertim primo evangelii Johann, caplte, ut mihi quidem videatur omnes ejus corruptores superasse.” — Bez. Ep. 81. Beza tells us, is the most depraved and corrupt that ever was put forth, its author having outgone all that went before him in depraving that portion of Scripture.
26The comment itself is published by Junius, “in defensione sanctæ Trinitatis,” and confuted by him; and Zanchius, at large, “De Tribus Elohim, lib. vi. cap. ii., et deinceps;” Faustus varying something from his uncle in the carrying on of the same design.
His book, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” he wrote, as the author of his life assures us, whilst he was in and about Basil, as also many passages in his epistles and other writings manifest.
About the year 1575 he began it, which he finished about the year 1578, although the book was not printed till the year 1594;4141 “Cum Basiliæ degeret ad annum usque 1575 dum lumen sibi exortum, ad alios prostudet, ab amicis ad alienos senmm dilapso disserendi argumento, disputationem Christo Servatore, ore primum inchoatam, postea scripto complexus est: cui anno summam manum imposuit.” — Eques. Polon. Vita Socin. for upon the divulging of it (he then living at Cracovia), a tumult was raised against him by the unruly and disorderly students, wherein he was dragged up and down and beaten, and hardly escaped with his life; [against] which inhumane precedence he expostulates at large in an epistle to Martin Vaidovita, a professor of the university, by whose means he was delivered from being murdered. But this fell out in the year 1598, as is evident from the date of that epistle, four years after the book was printed.
The book is written against one Covet, whom I know by nothing else but what of his disputes with Socinus is by him published. Socinus confesseth that he was a learned man, and in repute for learning;4242 “Et sane mirum est, cum bonis literis ut audio (et ex sermone quem simul habuimus, atque ex tuis scriptis conjicere potui), sis admodum excultus, te id non vidisse.” — Socin. de Servatore, lib. i. part i. cap. x. and, indeed, if we may take an estimate of the man from the little that is there delivered of him, he was a godly, honest, and very learned man, and spake as much in the cause as might be expected or was needful, before farther opposition was made to the truth he did defend. Of all the books of him concerning whom we speak, this his disputation, “De Jesu Christo Servatore,” is written with the greatest strength, subtilty, and plausibility, neither is any thing said afterward by himself or the rest of his followers that is not comprised in it. Of this book he was wont afterward to boast, as Crellius informs us, and to say, “That if he might have some excellent adversary to deal withal upon the point, he then would show what could farther be spoken of the subject.”4343 “Audivimus ex iis qui familiariter ipso sunt usi, eum significasse, sicut tum jactabatur, excellens sibi si contingeret adversarius, qui librum de Jesu Christo Servatore adoriretur, tum demure se totum hoc argumentum ab origine explicaturum.” — Crell. Præfat. Respon. ad Grot., p. 12.
This book, at its first coming out, was confuted by Gregorius Zarnovecius (as Socinus testifies in his epistle to Vaidovita) in the Polonian language: which was afterward translated into Latin by Conradus Huberus, and printed at Franeker, anno 1618; also by one Otho Casmannus; and thirdly, at large, by Sibrandus Lubbertus, anno 1611, who, together with his refutation, printed the whole book itself, I hope to no disadvantage of the truth, though a late apostate to Rome, whom we called here Hugh Cressey, but is lately commenced B. Serenus Cressey, a priest of the order of Benedict, and who would have been even a Carthusian (such high honour did the man aim at), tells us that some of his scholars procured him to do it, that so they might get the book itself in their hands.4444 Exomologesis of Hugh Paulin de Cressey, etc. But the book will speak for itself with indifferent readers, and for its clearness is extolled by Vossius.4545 “Post luculentas Sibrandi Lubberti commentationes adversum Socinum editas.” — Voss. Resp. ad Judicium Ravensp. Generally, all that have since written of that subject, 27in theses, common-places, lectures, comments, professed controversies, have made that book the ground of their procedure.
One is not to be omitted, which is in the hands of all those who inquire into these things, or think that they are concerned in the knowledge of them; this is Grotius’ “Defensio Fidei Catholicæ de Satisfactione Christi, adversus Faustum Socinum Senensem.” Immediately upon the coming out of that book, animadversions were put forth against it by Harmanus Ravenspergerus, approved, as it seems, by our Doctor Prideaux.4646 “In eosdem exercuoit stylum ut Ravenspergerus.” — Prideaux Lecti. de Justificatione.
The truth is, those animadversions of Ravenspergerus are many of them slight, and in sundry things he was mistaken; whereby his endeavours were easily eluded by the learned Vossius,4747 Voss. Rasp. ad Judicium Ravensp. in his vindication of Grotius against him. Not that the dissertation of Grotius is free from being liable to many and just exceptions, partly in things wherein he was mistaken, partly wherein he failed in what he undertook (whereby many young students are deluded, as ere long may be manifested), but that his antagonist had not well laid his action, nor did pursue it with any skill.
However, the interpretations of Scripture given therein by that learned man will rise up in judgment against many of the annotations which in his after-comments on the Scripture he hath divulged. His book was at length answered by Crellius, the successor of Valentinus Smalcius, in the school and society of Racovia, after which Grotius lived about twenty years, and never attempted any reply. Hereupon it has been generally concluded that the man was wrought over to drink in that which he had before published to be the most destructive poison of the church;4848 “Præsentissimum ecclesiæ venenum.” the belief whereof was exceedingly increased and cherished by an epistle of his to Crellius, who had subtilely managed the man, according to his desire of honour and regard, and by his annotations, of which we shall have causer to speak afterward. That book of Crellius has since been at large confuted by Essenius,4949 Triumphus Crucis Autore And. Essen. and enervated by a learned and ingenious author in his “Specimen Refutationis Crellii de Satisfactione Christi,” published about the same time with the well-deserving labour of Essenius, in the year 1648.
Most of the arguments and sophisms of Socinus about this business are refuted and dissolved by David Paræus, in his comment on the Romans, not mentioning the name of him whose objections they were.
About the year 1608, Michael Gitichius gathered together the sum of what is argumentative in that book of Socinus against the satisfaction of Christ; which was answered by Ludovicus Lucius,5050 “De gravissima quæstione, utrum Christus pro peccatis nostris justitæ divinæ satisfeceret necne? scholastica disputatio.” then professor at Hamburg, and the reply of Gitichius confuted and removed out of the way by the same hand. In that brief rescript of Lucius there is a clear attempt to the enervating of the whole book of Socinus, and that with good success, by way of a logical and scholastical procedure. Only, I cannot but profess my sorrow that, having in his first answer laid that solid foundation of the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ, from the eternal nature and justice of God, whereby it is absolutely impossible that, upon the consideration and supposition of sin committed, it should be pardoned without a due compensation, in his rejoinder to the reply of Gitichius, he closes with a commonly known expression of Augustine, “That God could, if he 28would, have delivered us without satisfaction, but he would not;”5151 “Gitichio itaque de absoluta Dei potentia seu potestate (de qua nulla nobis dubitatio) inaniter blateranti, elegantissimis Augustini verbis respondeo, ‘Omnia Deus potuit, sivoluisset,’ ” etc. — Lucius ad Gitich. p. 110. so casting down the most stable and unmovable pillar of that doctrine which he so dexterously built up in spite of its adversaries.
I dare boldly acquaint the younger students in these weighty points of the religion of Jesus Christ, that the truth of this one particular, concerning the eternal justice of God indispensably requiring the punishment of sin, being well established (for which end they have not only the consent but the arguments of almost all who have handled these controversies with skill and success), will securely carry them through all the sophisms of the adversaries, and cut all the knots which, with so much subtilty, they endeavour to tie and cast upon the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ; as I have in part elsewhere demonstrated.5252 Diatrib. de Justit. Divin. Vind. From this book also did Smalcius take the whole of what he has delivered about the death of Christ in his Racovian Catechism, not adding any thing at all of his own; which Catechism, as it was heretofore confuted by Frederick Bauldwinus, by order of the university of Wittenburgh, and is by several parcels by many removed out of the way, especially by Altingius and Maccovius, so of late it is wholly answered by Nicolaus Arnoldus,5353 Religio Sociniani Refutata. now professor at Franeker; which coming lately to my hands prevented me from proceeding to a just, orderly refutation of the whole, as I was intended to do, although I hope the reader will not find any thing of importance therein omitted.
To close the story of this book of Socinus, and the progress it hath made in the world: this I dare assure them who are less exercised in these studies, that though the whole of the treatise hath at first view a very plausible pretence and appearance, yet there is a line of sophistry running through it, which being once discovered (as, indeed, it may be easily felt, with the help of some few principles), the whole fabric of it will fall to the ground, and appear as weak and contemptible a piece as any we have to deal withal in that warfare which is to be undertaken for the truths of the gospel. This also I cannot omit, as to the rise of this abomination of denying the satisfaction of Christ, that as it seems to hay been first invented by the Pelagians, so in after ages it was vented Petrus Abelardus, professor of philosophy at Paris; of whom Bernard, who wrote against him, saith, “Habemus in Francia novum de vetere magtheologum, qui ab ineunte ætate sua in arte dialectica lusit, et nunc in Scripturis sanctis insanit:” and in his epistle (which is to Pope Innocent) about him,5454 Bernard. Ep. 190. he strongly confutes his imaginations about this very business; whereupon he was condemned in a council at Rome, held by the same Innocent.5555 Baroni. ad ann. 1140.
This part of our faith being of so great weight and importance, the great basis and foundation of the church, you will find it at large insisted on and vindicated in the ensuing treatise.
The author of the life of Socinus tells us (as he himself also gives in the information) that whilst he abode about Switzerland, at Basil and Tigurum [Zurich], he had a dispute with Puccius; which also is since published. This was before his going into Poland in the year 1578.5656 “Aliam interim cum Francisco Puccio ineunte anno 1578, Tiguri confecit.” — Vita Faust. Socin.
The story of this Puccius, because it may be of some use as to the present estate of the minds of many in the things of God, I shall briefly give 29from Socinus himself (Ep. 3, ad Matt. Radec.), and that as a tremendous example of the righteous judgment of God, giving up a person of a light, unstable spirit to fearful delusions, with a desperate issue. Originally he was a merchant of a good and noble family, but leaving his profession he betook himself to study,5757 “Ex nobili admodum familia, quæ etiam tres cardinales habuit, natus, mercatura relicta se totum sacrarum literarum studio tradidit.” and for his advantage therein came hither to Oxford.5858 “Quod ut commodius facere posset in Angliam se contulit, ibique in Oxoniensi gymnasio aliquandiu se exercuit,” etc. After he had stayed here until he began to vent some paradoxes in religion, about the year 1565 (being not able here to prevail with any to close with him), he went to Basil, where there was a dispute between him and Socinus, before mentioned; in the issue whereof they both professed that they could agree in nothing in religion but that there was a God that made the world. At Basil he maintained universal redemption and a natural faith, as they then termed it, or an innate power of believing without the efficacy of the grace of God, for which he was compelled thence to depart; which doing he returned again into England, where, upon the same account, he was cast into prison for a season; thence being released, he went into Holland, from whence by letters he challenged Socinus to dispute, and went one thousand miles (namely, to Cracovia in Poland) afterward to make it good. After some disputes there (both parties condescending to them on very ridiculous conditions), Socinus seeming to prevail, by having most friends among the judges, as the other professed, he stayed there a while, and wrote a book, which he styled “The Shut Bible, and of Elias,” wherein he laboured to deny all ordinances, ministry, and preaching, until Elias should come and restore all things. His reason was taken from the defection and apostasy of the church; wherein, said he, all truth and order was lost, the state of the church being not again to be recovered, unless some with apostolical authority and power of working miracles were immediately sent of God for that purpose. How far this persuasion hath prevailed with some in our days, we all know and lament. Puccius at length begins to fancy that he shall himself be employed in this great restoration that is to be made of the church, by immediate mission from God! Whilst he was in expectation of his call hereunto, there come two Englishmen into Poland, men pretending discourse with angels and revelations from God: one of them was the chief at revelations (their names I cannot learn), the other gave out what he received, in his daily converse with angels, and the words he heard from God, about the destruction of all the present frame of the worship of God. To these men Puccius joined himself, and followed them to Prague in Bohemia, though his friends dealt with him to the contrary, assuring him that one of his companions was a mountebank and the other a magician; but being full of his former persuasion of the ceasing of all ordinances and institutions, with the necessity of their restitution by immediate revelation from God, having got companions fit to harden him in his folly and presumption, he scorned all advice, and away he went to Prague. No sooner came he thither but his prophet had a revelation by an angel that Puccius must become Papist, his cheating companion having never been otherwise. Accordingly he turns Papist; begs pardon publicly for his deserting the Roman church, is reconciled by a priest, in whose society after he had a while continued, and laboured to pervert others to the same superstition with himself, he died a desperate magician. Have none in our days been led into the like maze? hath not Satan led some in 30the same circle, setting out from superstition to profaneness, passing through some zeal and earnestness in religion, rising to a contempt of ministry and ordinances, with an expectation of revelations and communion with angels? And how many have again sunk down into Popery, atheism, and horrible abominations, is known to all in this nation who think it their duty to inquire into the things of God. I have given this instance only to manifest that the old enemy of our salvation is not playing any new game of deceit and temptation, but such as he hath successfully acted in former generations. Let not us be ignorant of his deceits.
By the way, a little farther to take in the consideration of men like-minded with him last mentioned: of those who denied all ordinances, and maintained such an utter loss and defection of all church state and order that it was impossible it should be restored without new apostles, evidencing their ministry by miracles, this was commonly the issue, that being pressed with this, that there was nothing needful to constitute a church of Christ but that there were a company of men believing in Jesus Christ, receiving the word of God, and taking it for their rule, they denied that indeed now there was or could be any faith in Jesus Christ, the ministers that should beget it being utterly ceased, and therefore it was advisable for men to serve God, to live justly and honestly, according to the dictates of the law of nature, and to omit all thoughts of Christ beyond an expectation of his sending persons hereafter to acquaint the world again with his worship.
That this was the judgment of Matt. Radecius, his honoured friend, Socinus informs us;5959 Ep. ad Radec. 3, p. 87, 119. though he mollifies his expression, p. 123, ascribing it to others. Whether many in our days are not insensibly fallen into the same abominations, a little time will discover. The main of the plea of the men of this persuasion in those days was taken from the example of the Israelites under that idolatrous apostasy wherein they were engaged by Jeroboam. “In the days of Elijah there were,” said they, “seven thousand who joined not with the residue in their false worship and idolatry, but yet they never went about to gather, constitute, and set up a new church or churches, but remained in their scattered condition, keeping themselves as they could from the abominations of their brethren;” — not considering that there is not the same reason of the Judaical and Christian churches, in that the carrying on of the worship of God among them was annexed to one tribe, yea, to one family in that tribe, and chiefly tied to one certain place, no public instituted worship, such as was to be the bond of communion for the church, being acceptable that was not performed by those persons in that place: so that it was utterly impossible for the godly in Israel then, or the ten tribes, to set up a new church-state, seeing they neither had the persons nor were possessed of the place, without which no such constitution was acceptable to God, as not being of his appointment. Under the gospel it is not so, either as to the one or other. All places being now alike, and all persons who are enabled thereunto having liberty to preach the word in the order by Christ appointed, the erecting of churches and the celebration of ordinances is recoverable, according to the mind of God, out of the greatest defection imaginable, whilst unto any persons there is a continuance of the word and Spirit.
But to proceed with Socinus. Blandrata having got a great interest with the king of Poland and prince of Transylvania, as hath been declared, and making it his business to promote the Antitrinitarians, of what sort 31soever, being in Transylvania, where the men of his own abomination were exceedingly divided about the invocation and adoration of Jesus Christ, Franciscus David carrying all before him in an opposition thereunto (of which whole business I shall give a farther account afterward), he sends for Socinus,6060 “Multum illa tempestate turbarum dederat Transylvanicis ecclesiis Francisi Davidis et reliquorum de honore ac potestate Christi opinio; cui malo remedium quærens Georgius Blandrata Socinum Basilæ evocavit (anno 1578), ut præcipuum factionis ducem Franciscum Davidem, a tam turpi et pernicioso errore abstraheret.” — Vita. Faust. Socin. who was known to them, and, from his dealing with Puccius, began to be famed for a disputant, to come to him into Transylvania, to dispute with and confute Franciscus David, in the end of the year 1578; where what success his dispute had, in the imprisonment and death of David, shall be afterward related.
Being now fallen upon this controversy, which fell out before Faustus’ going into Poland, before I proceed to his work and business there, I shall give a brief account of this business which I have now mentioned, and on which occasion he was sent for by Blandrata into Poland, referring the most considerable disputes he had about that difference to that place in the ensuing treatise where I shall treat of the invocation and worship of Christ.
After way was once made in the minds of men for the farther work of Satan, by denying the deity of our blessed Lord Jesus, very many quickly grew to have more contemptible thoughts of him than those seemed to be willing they should from whose principles they professed, and indeed righteously, that their mean esteem of him did arise. Hence Franciscus David, Georgius Enjedinus, Christianus Franken, and sundry others, denied that Christ was to be worshipped with religious worship, or that he might be invocated and called upon. Against these Socinus, indeed, contended with all his might, professing that he would not account such as Christians who would not allow that Christ might be invocated and was to be worshipped; which that he was to be, he proved by undeniable testimonies of Scripture. But yet when himself came to answer their arguments, whereby they endeavoured to prove that a mere man (such as on both sides they acknowledged Christ to be) might not be worshipped with religious worship or divine adoration, the man, with all his craft and subtilty, was entangled, utterly confounded, silenced, slain with his own weapons, and triumphed over, as I shall afterward manifest in the account which I shall give of the disputation between him and Christianus Franken about this business: God in his righteous judgment so ordering things, that he who would not embrace the truth which he ought to have received should not be able to maintain and defend that truth which he did receive; for having, what in him lay, digged up the only foundation of the religious worship and adoration of Christ, he was altogether unable to keep the building upright. Nor did this fall out for want of ability in the man, no man under heaven being able on his false hypothesis to maintain the worship of Christ, but, as was said, merely by the just hand of God, giving him up to be punished by his own errors and darkness.
Being hardened in the contempt of Christ by the success they had against Socinus and his followers, with whom they conversed and disputed, some of the men before mentioned stayed not with him at the affirming of him to be a mere man, nor yet where they began, building on that supposition that he was not to be worshipped, but proceeded yet farther, and affirmed that he was indeed a good man and sent of God, but yet he spake not by the spirit of prophecy, but so as that whatever was 32spoken by him and written by his apostles was to be examined by Moses and the prophets, whereto if it did not agree it was to be rejected: which was the sum of the first and second theses of Franciscus David,6161 “Homo ille Jes. Nazarenus qui Christus appellatur, non per spiritum propheticum, sed per Spiritum Sanctum locutus est; id est, quamvis a Deo legatus fuerit, non tamen quæcunque verba ex ipsius Dei ore provenisse censenda sunt. 2. Hinc fit ut illius et apostolorum ejus verba, ad Mosaicæ legis et aliorum propheticorum oraculorum normam expendenda sint, et siquid contrarium vel diversum ab his in illis reperitur, aut reperiri videtur, id aut rejiciendum, aut certe ita in terpretandum sit, ut cum Mosis et prophetarum doctrina consentiat quæ sola morum et divini cultus regula est.” in opposition to which Socinus gave in his judgment in certain antitheses to Christopher Barthoræus, prince of Transylvania, who had then cast David into prison for his blasphemy.6262 “Theses quibus Francisci Davidis sententia de Christi munere explicatur una cum antithesibus ecclesiæ a Socino conscriptis, et illustrissimo Transylvaniæ principi Christophero Barthoræo oblatis.”
To give a little account, by the way, of the end of this man, with his contempt of the Lord Jesus:—
In the year 1579, in the beginning of the month of June, he was cast into prison by the prince of Transylvania, and lived until the end of November.6363 “Certum est illum in ipso initio mensis Junii carceri inclusum fuisse, et vixisse usquead mensem Novembris, nisi vehementer fallor, quo extinctus est.” — Socin ad Weik. cap. ii. p. 44. That he was cast into prison by the instigation of Socinus himself and Blandrata, the testimonies are beyond exception; for this is not only recorded by Bellarmine and others of the Papists (to whose assertions, concerning any adversary with whom they have to do, I confess much credit is not to be given), but by others also of unquestionable authority.6464 “Illud vero notandum, quod procurantibus Georgio Blandrata et Fausto Socino, in Transylvania exulibus, Franciscus David morti traditus fuit.” — Adrian. Regen. Hist. Eccles. Slavon, lib. i. p. 90. This, indeed, Socinus denies, and would willingly impose the odium of it upon others;6565 “Quod si Weikus intelligit damnandi verbo nostros ministros censuisse illum aliqua sfficiendum, aut vuit fallere, aut egregie fallitur: nam certum est, in judicio illo, cum minister quidam Calvinianus Christophero, Principi, qui toti actioni interfuit, et præfuit, satis longa oratione persuasisset, ut talem, hominem e medio tolleret, minitans everenter illi supplicasse, ut miseri hominis misereri vellet et clementem et benignum se erga illum præbere.” — Socin, ad Weik cap. ii. p. 90. but the truth is, considering the keenness and wrath of the man’s spirit, and the thoughts he had of this miserable wretch,6666 “Imo plusquam hæreticum eum (ecclesiæ nostræ) judicaverunt, nam talem hominem indignum Christiano nomme esse dixerunt; quippe qui Christo invocationis cultum prorsus detrahendo, et eum curam ecclesiæ gerere negando, simul reipsa negaret eum ease Christum.” — Idem ubi supra. it is more than probable that he was instrumental towards his death. The like apology does Smalcius make in his answer to Franzius about the carriage of the Samosatenians in that business of Franciscus David; where they accused one another of craft, treachery, bloody cruelty, treason.6767 “Exemplum denique affert nostrorum (thes. 108), quomodo se gesserint in Transylvania, in negotio Francisci Davidis: quomodo semetipsos in actu illo inter se reos agant vafritiæ, crudelitatis sanguinariæ, poditionis,” etc., — Smalc. Refuta Thes. de Hypocrit. Disp. ix. p. 298. Being cast into prison, the miserable creature fell into a frenetical distemper, through the revenging hand of God upon him, as Socinus confesseth himself.6868 “De phrenesi ista in quam inciderit, aliquid sane auditum est, non tantum biduo ante mortem sed pluribus diebus.” — Socin, ubi supra. In this miserable condition the devils (saith the historian) appeared unto him; whereupon he cried out, “Behold who expect me their companion in my journey,”6969 “Ecce qui me comitem itineris expectant.” — Flor. Ræmund, lib. iv. cap. xii. whether really, or in his vexed, distempered imagination, disordered by his despairing mind, I determine 33not; but most certain it is that in that condition he expired, not in the year 1580, as Bellarmine, Weik, Ræmundus, and some of ours from them, inform us, but one year sooner, as he assures us who best knew.7070 “Manifeste in eo sunt decepti, qui hoc anno 1580, accidisse scribunt, cum certissimum sit ea facta fuisse uno anno ante, hoc est, anno 1579.” — Socin. ad Weik. p. 44. And the consideration of this man’s desperate apostasy and his companions’ might be one cause that about this time sundry of the Antitrinitarians were converted, amongst whom was Daniel Bielenscius, a man afterward of good esteem.7171 “Duces hujus agminis Anabaptistici, et Antitrinitarii erant Gregorius Paulus, Daniel Bielenscius, et alii, quorum tandem aliqui fanatico proposito relicto, ad ecclesiam evangelicam redierunt, ut Daniel Bielenscius, qui Cracoviæ omnium suorum errorum publice poenitentiam egit, ibidemque, ecclesiæ Dei commode præfuit.” — Adrian. Regen. Hist. Eccles. Slavon lib. i. p. 90.
But neither yet did Satan stop here, but improved the advantage given him by these men to the utter denying of Jesus Christ: for unto the principle of Christ’s being not God, adding another of the same nature, that the prophecies of the Old Testament were all concerning temporal things, some amongst them at length concluded that there was no promise of any such person as Jesus Christ in the whole Old Testament; that the Messiah or king promised was only a king promised to the Jews, that they should have after the captivity, in case they did not offend but walk with God. “The kingdom,” say they, “promised in the Old Testament, is a kingdom of this world only; but the kingdom which you assert to belong to Jesus of Nazareth was a kingdom not of this world, a heavenly kingdom, and so, consequently, not promised of God or from God;”7272 “Ita argumentor, quoties regnum Davidi usque in seculum promissum est tale necesse fuit, ut posteri ejus, in quibus hæc promissio impleri debebat, haberent: sed regnum mundanum Davidi usque in seculum promissum est, ergo regnum mundanum posteri Davidis ut haberent necesse est: et per consequens, rex file, quem prophetæ ex hac promissione post captivitatem Babylonicam regnaturum promiserunt, perinde ut cæteri posteri Davidis, mundanum regnum debuit habere. Quod quia Jesus ille non habuit (non enim regnavit ut David et posteri ejus), sed dicitur habere coeleste regnum, quod est diversum a mundano regno; ergo Jesus ille non est rex quem prophetæ promiserunt.” — Martin Seidelius, Ep. i. ad Socin. and therefore with him they would not have aught to do. This was the argument of Martin Seidelius, in his epistle to Socinus and his companions.
What advantage is given to the like blasphemous imaginations with this, by such Judaizing annotations on the Old Testament as those of Grotius, time will evidence. Now, because this man’s creed is such as is not to be paralleled, perhaps some may be contented to take it in his own words, which are as follow:—
“Cæterum ut sciatis cujus sim religionis, quamvis id scripto meo quod habetis ostenderim, tamen hic breviter repetam. Et primum quidem doctrina de Messia, seu rege illo promisso, ad meam religionem nihil pertinet: ham rex ille tantum Judæis promissus erat, sicut et bona ilia Canaan. Sic etiam circumcisio, sacrificia, et reliquæ ceremoniæ Mosis ad me non pertinent, sed tantum populo Judaico promissa, data, et mandata sunt. Neque ista fuerunt cultus Dei apud Judæos, sed inserviebant cultui divino, et ad cultum divinum deducebant Judæos. Verus autem cultus Dei quem meam religionem appello, est decalogus, qui est æterna, et immutabilis voluntas Dei; qui decalogus ideo ad me pertinet, quia etiam mihi a Deo datus est, non quidem per vocem sonantem de cœlo, sicut populo Judaico, at per creationem insita est menti meæ; quia autem insitus decalogus, per corruptionem naturæ humanæ et pravis consuetudinibus, aliqua ex parte obscuratus est, ideo ad illustrandum eum, adhibeo vocalem decalogum, qui vocalis decalogus, ideo etiam ad me, et ad omnes populos pertinet, quia cum insito nobis decalogo consentit, imo idem ille decalogus est. Hæc est 34mea sententia de Messia, seu rege illo promisso, et hæc est mea religio, quam coram vobis ingenue profiteor.” — Martin. Seidelius Olaviensis Silesius.
To this issue did Satan drive the Socinian principles in this man and sundry others, even to a full and peremptory denial of the Lord that bought them. In answering this man, it fell out with Socinus much as it did with him in his disputation with Franken about the adoration and invocation of Jesus Christ: for granting Franken that Christ was but a mere man, he could no way evade his inference thence, that he was not to be invocated; so, granting Seidelius that the promises of the Old Testament were all temporal, he could not maintain against him that Jesus Christ, whose kingdom is heavenly, was the king and Messiah therein promised; for Faustus hath nothing to reply but that “God gives more than he promised, of which no man ought to complain.”7373 “Nam quod dicimus, si Deus mundanum regem mundanumque regnum promisit, coelestem autem regein, coeleste, regnum reipsa præstitit plus eum præstitisse quam promiserit, recte omimino dicimus, nam qui plus præstat quam promisit, suis promissis non modo non stetisse sed ea etiam cumulate præstitisse est agnoscendus.” — Socin. Ep. ad Seidelium, p. 20. Not observing that the question being not about the faithfulness of God in his promises, but about the thing promised, he gave away the whole cause, and yielded that Christ was not indeed the king and Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
Of an alike opinion to this of Seidelius was he of whom we spake before, Franciscus David; who as to the kingdom of Christ delivered himself to this purpose: “That he was appointed to be a king of the Jews, and that God sent him into the world to receive his kingdom, which was to be earthly and civil, as the kingdoms of other kings; but the Jews rejected him and slew him, contrary to the purpose of God, who therefore took him from them and placed him in a quiet place, where he is not at all concerned in any of the things of the church, but is there in God’s design a king, and he will one day send him again to Jerusalem, there to take upon him a kingdom, and to rule as the kings of this world do or have done.” — Thes. Francisei David de Adorat. Jes. Christi.
The reminding of these abominations gives occasion, by the way, to complain of the carnal apprehensions of a kingdom of Christ, which too many amongst ourselves have filled their thoughts and expectations withal. For my part, I am persuaded that, before the end of the world, the Lord Jesus, by his word and Spirit, will multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars of heaven, bringing into one fold the remnant of Israel and the multitude of the Gentiles; and that his church shall have peace, after he hath judged and broken the stubborn adversaries thereof, and laid the kingdoms of the nations in a useful subserviency to his interest in this world; and that himself will reign most gloriously, by a spirit of light, truth, love, and holiness, in the midst of them: but that he hath a kingdom of another nature and kind to set up in the world than that heavenly kingdom which he hath peculiarly exercised ever since he was exalted and made a ruler and a saviour, that he should set up a dominion over men as men, and rule, either himself present or by his substitutes, as in a kingdom of this world, which is a kingdom neither of grace nor glory, I know it cannot be asserted without either the denial of his kingdom for the present, or that he is or hitherto hath been a king (which was the blasphemy of Franciscus David before mentioned), or the affirming that he hath, or is to have, upon the promise of God, two kingdoms of several sorts; of which in the whole word of God there is not the least tittle.
To return: about the end of the year 1579, Faustus Socinus left Transylvania and went into Poland, which he chose for the stage whereon to 35act his design.7474 “Anno 1579, jam quadragenarius migravit in Poloniam.” — Vita Faust. Socin. In what estate and condition the persons in Poland and Lithuania were who had fallen off from the faith of the holy Trinity was before declared. True it is, that before the coming of Socinus, Blandrata, by the help of Franciscus David, had brought over many of them from Sabellianism, and Tritheism, and Arianism, unto Samosatenianism, and a full, plain denial of the deity of Christ.7575 “Extat apud me ipsius Blandratæ epistola, non tamen scripta sine Theseo (Statorto) si Blandratum bene novi, in qua Gregorium Paulum a Tritheismo ad Samosateni dogma revocare nititur. Incidit enim Blandrata in Transylvaniam rediens in quendam Franciscum David, paulo magis, quam superiores illi ut aiunt providum.” — Beza, Ep. 81.
But yet with that Pelagian doctrine that Socinus came furnished withal unto them, they were utterly unacquainted, and were at no small difference, many of them, about the Deity. The condition of the first man to be mortal and obnoxious to death, that there was no original sin, that Christ was not a high-priest on the earth, that he made no satisfaction for sin, that we are not justified by his righteousness but our own, that the wicked shall be utterly confined and annihilated at the last day, with the rest of his opinions, which afterward he divulged, they were utterly strangers unto; as is evident from the contests he had about these things with some of them in their synods, and by writing, especially with Niemojevius, one of the chief patrons of their sect.
In this condition of affairs, the man, being wise and subtile, obtained his purpose by the ensuing course of procedure:—
1. He joined himself to none of their societies, because, being divided amongst themselves, he knew that by adhering to any one professedly, he should engage all the rest against him. That which he pretended most to favour, and for whose sake he underwent some contests, was the assembly at Racovia, which at first was collected by Gregorius Paulus, as hath been declared.
From these his pretence for abstaining was, their rigid injunction of all to be rebaptized that entered into their fellowship and communion. But he who made it his design to gather the scattered Antitrinitarians into a body and a consistency in a religion among themselves saw plainly that the rigid insisting upon Anabaptism, which was the first principle of some of them, would certainly keep them at an unreconcilable distance. Wherefore he falls upon an opinion much better suited to his design, and maintained that baptism was only instituted for the initiation of them who from any other false religion were turned to the religion of Christ; but that it belonged not to Christian societies, nor to them that were born of Christian parents, and had never been of any other profession or religion, though they might use it, if they pleased, as an indifferent thing. And therefore he refused to join himself with the Racovians, unless upon this principle, that they would desist for the time to come from requiring any to be baptized that should join with them. In a short time he divided that meeting by this opinion, and at length utterly dissolved them, as to their old principles they first consented unto, and built the remainder of them, by the hand of Valentinus Smalcius, into his own mould and frame.
The author of his life sets it forth as a great trial of his prudence, piety, and patience, that he was repulsed from the society at Racovia, and that with ignominy;7676 “Ecclesiis Polonicis, quæ solum Patrem Domini Jesu summum Deum agnoscunt, publice adjungi ambivit, sed satis acerbe atque diu repulsam passus est, qua tamen ignominia minime accensus, vir, non tam indole quam anima instituto, ad patientiam compositus, nulla unquam alienati animi vestigia dedit.” — Vita Faust. Socin. when the truth is, he absolutely refused to join with them, unless they would at once renounce their own principles and subscribe to 36his; which is as hard a condition as can be put upon any perfectly conquered enemy. This himself delivers at large on sundry occasions, especially insisting on and debating that business in his epistles to Simon Ronembergius and to Sophia Siemichovia. On this score did he write his disputation “De Baptismo Aquæ,” with the vindication of it from the animadversions of A. D. (whom I suppose to be Andrew Dudithius), and of M. C., endeavouring with all his strength to prove that baptism is not an ordinance appointed for the use of Christians or their children, but only for such as were converted from Paganism or Mohammedanism; and this he did in the year 1580, two years after his coming into Poland, as he declares by the date of the disputation from Cracovia, at the close thereof. And in this persuasion he was so fixed, and laid such weight upon it, that after he had once before broken the assembly at Racovia, in his old days he encourages Valentinus Smalcius,7777 “Nam quod mihi objicis me communionem cum fratribus, et Christi fidelibus spernere nec cuare ut cum ipsis coenam Domini celebrem, respondeo, me postquam in Poloniam veni, nihil antiquius habuisse, quam ut me quam maxime fratribus conjungerem, licet invenissem illos in non parvis religionis nostræ capitibus, a me diversum sentire; quemadmodum multi hodieque sentiunt: quod si nihilominus aquas baptismum una cum illis non accipio, hoc præterea fit, quia id bona conscientia facere nequeo, nisi publice ante protestor, me non quod censeam baptismum aquæ mihi meique similibus ullo modo necessarium esse, etc.” — Ep. ad Sophiam Siemichoviam feminam nobilem. — Ep. 11 ad Valent. Smalc. anno 1604. then their teacher, to break them again, because some of them tenaciously held their opinion; and for those who, as Smalcius informed him, would thereupon fall off to the reformed churches, he bids them go, and a good riddance of them. By this means, I say, he utterly broke up, and divided, and dissolved the meeting at Racovia, which was collected upon the principles before mentioned, that there remained none abiding to their first engagement but a few old women, as Squarcialupus7878 “Dico secessionem Racoviensium ac delirium, esse ab ecclesia rati o sejungendum, nisi velis conciliabula quæque amentium anicularum partes ecclesiæ a Christianæ ut ecclesiam appellare.” — Mar. Squarcialup Ep. ad faust Socin. p. 8. tells him, and as himself confesses in his answer for them to Palæologus.7979 “Huc accedit, quod Racovienses isti, sive coetus Racoviensis, quem tu petis atque oppugnas, vel non amplius extat, vel ita hodie mutatus est, et in aliam quodammodo formam versus, ut agnosci non queat.” — Socin. Præfat. ad Palæolog. By this course of behaviour, the man had these two advantages:— (1.) He kept fair with all parties amongst them, and provoked not any by joining with them with whom they could not agree; so that all parties looked on him as their own, and were ready to make him the umpire of all their differences, by which he had no small advantage of working them all to his own principles. (2.) He was less exposed to the fury of the Papists, which he greatly feared (loving well the things of this world), than he would have been had he joined himself to any visible church profession; and, indeed, his privacy of living was a great means of his security.
2. His second great advantage was that he was a scholar, and was able to defend and countenance them against their opposers, the most of them being miserably weak and unlearned. One of their best defensatives, before his joining with them, was a clamour against logic and learning, as himself confesseth in some of his epistles. Now, this is not only evident by experience, but the nature of the thing itself makes it manifest that so it will be: whereas men of low and weak abilities fall into by-persuasions in religion, as they generally at first prevail by clamours and all sorts of reproaches cast on learning and learned men, yet if God in his providence at any time, to heighten the temptation, suffer any person of learning and ability to fall in amongst and with them, he is presently their head and 37ruler without control. Some testimony hereof our own days have afforded, and I wish we may not have more examples given us. Now, how far he availed himself of this advantage, the consideration of them with whom he had to do, of the esteem they had of his abilities, and the service he did them thereby, will acquaint us.
[As] for the leaders of them, they were for the most part unlearned, and so unable to defend their opinions in any measure against a skillful adversary. Blandrata, their great patron, was not able to express himself in Latin, but by the help of Statorius, who had some learning, but no judgment;8080 “Petro Statorio operam omnem suam fucandis barbarissimi scriptoris Blandratæ commentis navante.” — Beza. and therefore, upon his difference with Franciscus David in Transylvania, he was forced to send for Socinus out of Helvetia to manage the disputation with him. And what kind of cattle those were with whom he had to do at Cracovia as well as Racovia, is manifest from the epistle of Simon Ronembergius, one of the leaders and elders of that which they called their “church,” which is printed, with Socinus’ answer unto it. I do not know that ever in my life I saw, for matter and form, sense and language, any thing so simple and foolish, so ridiculously senseless and incoherent, unless it were one or two in our own days, which with this deserve an eminent place “inter epistolas obscurorum virorum.” And therefore Socinus justly feared that his party would have the worst in disputes, as he acknowledges it befell Licinius in his conference with Smiglecius at Novograde,8181 “Dolerem quidem mirum in odum si disputatio ista sic habita fuisset, ut adversarii susplcor tamen nihfiommus, quatenus diputationem ab ipsis editam percurrendo animadvertere ac consequi conjectura potui, Licinii antagonistam arte disputandi et ipso superiorem esse, et id in ista ipsa disputatione facile plerisque constitisse: nam etsi (ni fallor) Licinius noster neutiquam in ea hæresi est, in qua non pauci ex nostris sunt, non esse Christiano homini dandam operam dialecticæ,” etc. — Ep. ad Balcerovicium, p. 358. and could not believe Ostorodius that he had such success as he boasted in Germany with Fabritius;8282 “Voidovius. Ostorodi comes ea ad me scribit, quæ vix mihi permittunt ut exitum disputationis, illius eum fuisse credam, quem ipse Ostorodius ad me scripsit.” — Ep. ad Valent. Smalc. quarta, p. 522. and tells us himself a story of some pastors of their churches in Lithuania, who were so ignorant and simple that they knew not that Christ was to be worshipped.8383 “Quod totum fere pondus illius disputationis, adversus eos qui Christum adhuc ignorare dici possunt, sustinueris, vehementer tibi gratulor: nihil mihi novum fuit, ex narratione ista percipere, pastores illos Lithuanicos ab ejusmodi ignoratione minime liberos deprehensos fuisse.” — Ep. v. ad Smalc. What a facile thing it was for a man of his parts, abilities, and learning, to obtain a kingdom amongst such as these is easily guessed. He complains, indeed, of his own lost time in his young days, by the instigation of the devil, and says that it made him weary of his life to think of it, when he had once set up his thoughts in seeking honour and glory by being the head and master of a sect, as Ignatius the father of the Jesuits did8484 “Me imitari noli, qui nescio quo malo genio ductore, cum jam divinæ veritatis fontes degustassem, ita sum abreptus, ut majorem et potiorem juventutis meæ partem, inanibus quibusdam aliis studiis, imo inertiæ atque otio dederim, quod cum mecum ipse reputo, reputo autem sæpissime, tanto dolore afficior, ut me vivere quodam modo pigeat.” — Ep. ad Smalc. p. 513. (with whom, as to this purpose, he is compared all along by the gentleman that wrote his life); yet it is evident that his learning and abilities were such as easily promoted him to the dictatorship among them with whom he had to do.
It may, then, be easily imagined what kind of esteem such men as those would have of so great an ornament and glory of their religion, who at least was with them in that wherein they dissented from the rest of Christians.
38Not only after his death, when they set him forth as the most incomparable man of his time, but in his own life and to himself, as I know not what excellent person,8585 “Ad te quod attinet, amino es tu quidem ad omnem doctrinæ rationem, ac veritatis investigationem nato, magna rerum, sophisticarum cognitio, orator summus, et theologus cum proipuis totius Europæ ingeniis certare.” — Marcel. Squarcialup. Ep. ad. Faust. Socin. — that he had a mind suited for the investigation of truth, was a philosopher, an excellent orator, an eminent divine, that for the Latin tongue especially he might contend with any of the great wits of Europe, they told him to his face; such thoughts had they generally of him. It is, then, no wonder they gave themselves up to his guidance. Hence Smalcius wrote unto him to consult about the propriety of the Latin tongue, and in his answer to him he excuses it as a great crime that he had used a reciprocal relative where there was no occasion for it.8686 “Aliud interim in Latina lingua erratum, gravius quam istud sit, a me est commissum, quod scilicet relativo reciproco ubi nullus erat locus usus sum.” — Ep. 4 ad Valent. Smalc. p. 521.
And to make it more evident how they depended on him, on this account of his ability for instructions, when he had told Ostorodius an answer to an objection of the Papists, the man having afterward forgot it, sends to him again to have his lesson over once more, that he might remember it.8787 “Memini te mihi hujus rei solutioonem cum esses Racoviæ afffeerre, sed quæ mea est tarditas, vel potius stupiditas, non bene illius recordor.” — Ostorod. Ep. ad Faust. Socin. p. 456.
And therefore, as if he had been to deal with school-boys, he would tell his chief companions that he had found out and discovered such or such a thing in religion, but would not tell them until they had tried themselves, and therefore was afraid lest he should through unawares have told it to any of them;8888 “Tibi significo me ni fallor invenisse viam quomodo verum esse possit, quod Christus plane libere et citra omnem necessitatem Deo perfectissime obediret et tamen necessarium omnino fuerit ut sic obediret; quænam ista via sit, nisi eam ipse per te (ut plane spero) inveneeris, postea tibi aperiam: volo enim prius tuum hosæ iin re et Statorii ingenium experiri, tametsi vereor ne jam eam illi indicaverim.” — Ep. 4 ad Ostorod. p. 472. upon one of which adventures, Ostorodius making bold to give in his conception, he does little better than tell him he is a blockhead.8989 “De quæstione tibiproposita non bene conjecisti, nec quam affers solutioonem ea probari ullo modo potest.” — Ep. 6 ad Ostorood. p. 472. Being in this repute amongst them, and exercising such a dominion in point of abilities and learning, to prevail the more upon them, he was perpetually ready to undertake their quarrels, which themselves were not able with any colour to maintain. Hence most of his books were written, and his disputations engaged in, upon the desire of one assembly, synod, or company of them or other, as I could easily manifest by particular instances. And by this means got he no small advantage to insinuate his own principles; for whereas the men greedily looked after and freely entertained the things which were professedly written in their defence, he always wrought in together therewith something of his own peculiar heresy, that poison might be taken down with that which was most pleasing. Some of the wisest of them, indeed, as Niemojevius, discovered the fraud, who, upon his answer to Andræus Volanus, commending what he had written against the deity of Christ, which they employed him in, falls foul upon him for his delivering in the same treatise that Christ was not a priest whilst he was upon the earth;9090 “Perlecto scripto tuo contra Volanum animadverti argumenta ejus satis accurate a te refutata, locaque scripturæ pleraque examinata, ac elucidata, verum no sine mærore (ne quid gravius addam) incidi inter legendum in quoddam paradoxon, Scripturæ sacræ contrarium ac plane horrendum, dum Christum in morte sua sive in cruce, sacrificium obtulisse pernegas, miror quid tibi in mentem venerit, ut tam confidenter (ne quid aliud dicam) contra manifesta sacræ Scripturæ testimonia pugnare, contrariamque sententiam tueri non timeas.” — Ep. 1 Joh. Niemojev. ad Faust. Socin. p. 196. 39which one abominable figment lies at the bottom of his whole doctrine of the justification of a sinner. The case is the same about his judgment concerning the invocation of Christ, which was, “That we might do it, but it was not necessary from any precept or otherwise that so we should do.”
And this was nine years after his coming into Poland, as appears from the date of that epistle; so long was he in getting his opinions to be entertained among his friends. But though this man were a little wary, and held out some opposition unto him, yet multitudes of them were taken with this snare, and freely drank down the poison they loathed, being tempered with that which they had a better liking to. But this being discovered, he let the rest of them know that though he was entreated to write that book by the Racovians, and did it in their name,9191 “Rogavit me dominus Schomanus, dominus Simon Ronembergins, et alii, ut ad parænesin Andræ Volani responderem, volui ut si quid in hac respousione vobis minus recte dictum videretur, non bona conscientia tantum, sed jure etiam, eam semper ejurare possetis.” — Ep ad Mar. Balcerovicium, p. 336. yet, because he had published somewhat of his own private opinions therein, they might if they pleased deny, yea, and forswear, that they were written by their appointment.
And this was with respect to his doctrine about the satisfaction of Christ, which, as he says, he heard they were coming over unto; and it is evident from what he writes elsewhere to Balcerovicius that he begged this employment of writing against Volanus, it being agreed by them that he should write nothing but by public consent, because of the novelties which he broached every day. By this readiness to appear and write in their defence, and so commending his writing to them on that account, it is incredible how he got ground upon them, and won them over daily to the residue of his abominations, which they had not received.
3. To these add, as another advantage to win upon that people, the course he had fixed on in reference to others; which was, to own as his, and of his party of the church, all persons whatever that, on any pretence whatever, opposed the doctrine of the Trinity and forsook the reformed church. Hence he dealt with men as his brethren, friends, and companions, who scarcely retained any thing of Christians, some nothing at all; as Martin Seidelius, who denied Christ; with Philip Buccel, who denied all difference of good and evil in the actions of men; with Erasmus Johannes, an Arian; with Matthias Radecius, who denied that any could believe in Christ without new apostles; — indeed, with all or any sorts of men whatever that would but join with him, or did consent unto the opposition of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was the principal work which he engaged in.
4. Unto these and the like advantages the man added all the arts and subtilties, all the diligence and industry, that were any way tending to his end. Some of his artifices and insinuations, indeed, were admirable, though to them who now review them in cold blood, without recalling to mind the then state of things, they may seem of another complexion.9292 “Spero fore, ut, si quid ilium mecum sentire vetet intellexero, facile viam inveniam eum in meam sententiam pertrahendi.” — Ep. 2 ad Balcerovicium.
By these and the like means, though he once despaired of ever getting his opinions received amongst them, as he professeth, yet in the long continuance of twenty-four years (so long he lived in Poland), with the help of Valentinus Smalcius, Volkelius, and some few others, who wholly fell in 40with him, he at length brought them all into subjection to himself, and got all his opinions enthroned, and his practice taken almost for a rule; so that whereas in former days they accused him for a covetous wretch, one that did nothing but give his mind to scrape up money, and were professedly offended with his putting money to usury,9393 “Aliqui fratrum putant congerendis pecuniis me nunc prorsus intentum esse.” — Ep. ad Eliam Acristrium, p. 407. Vide Rp. ad Christoph Morstinum pp 503–505. for his full justification, Ostorodius and Voidovius, in the close of the compendium of their religion which they brought into Holland, profess that their “churches did not condemn usury, so that it were exercised with moderation and without oppression.”9494 “Non simpliciter usuram damnant: modo æquitatis et charitatis regula non violetur.” — Compend. Religionis Ostorod. et Voidovii.
I thought to have added a farther account, in particular, of the man’s craft and subtilty; of his several ways for the instilling of his principles and opinions; of his personal temper, wrath, and anger, and multiplying of words in disputes; of the foils he received in sundry disputations with men of his own antitrinitarian infidelity; of his aim at glory and renown, expressed by the Polonian gentleman who wrote his life; his losses and troubles, which were not many, — with all which, and the like concernments of the man and his business in that generation, by the perusal of all that he wrote, and of much that hath been written against him, with what is extant of the conferences and disputations, synods and assemblies of those days, I have some little acquaintance; — but being not convinced of much usefulness in my so doing, I shall willingly spare my labour. Thus much was necessary, that we might know the men and their conversation who have caused so much trouble to the Christian world; in which work, having the assistance of that atheism and those corrupted principles which are in the hearts of all by nature, without the infinite rich mercy of God sparing a sinful world as to this judgment, for his elect’s sake, they will undoubtedly proceed.
Leaving him, then, in the possession of his conquest, Tritheists, Sabellians, Arians, Eunomians, with the followers of Francis David, being all lost and sunk, and Socinians standing up in the room of them all, looking a little upon what ensued, I shall draw from the consideration of the persons to their doctrines, as at first proposed.
After the death of Socinus, his cause was strongly carried on by those whom in his life he had formed to his own mind and judgment; among whom Valentinus Smalcius, Hieronymus Moscorovius, Johannes Volkelius, Christopherus Ostorodius, were the chief. To Smalcius he wrote eleven epistles, that are extant, professing his great expectations of him, extolling his learning and prudence. He afterward wrote the Racovian Catechism, compiling it out of Socinus’ works; many answers and replies to and with Smiglecius the Jesuit, and Franzius the Lutheran; a book of the divinity of Christ, with sundry others; and was a kind of professor among them at Racovia. The writings of the rest of them are also extant. To him succeeded Crellius, a man of more learning and modesty than Smalcius, and of great industry for the defence of his heresy. His defence of Socinus against Grotius’ treatise, “De Causis Mortis Christi, de Effectu SS.,” his comments and ethics, declare his abilities and industry in his way. After him arose Jonas Schlichtingius, a man no whit behind any of the rest for learning and diligence, as in his comments and disputations against Meisnerus is evident. As the report is, he was burned by the procurement of the Jesuits, some four years ago, that they might be sure to have the blood of all sorts of men found upon them. What advantage they 41have obtained thereby time will show. I know that generation of men retort upon us the death of Servetus at Geneva; but the case was far different. Schlichtingius lived in his own country, and conversed with men of his own persuasion, who in a succession had been so before he was born: Servetus came out of Spain on purpose to disturb and seduce them who knew nothing of his abominations. Schlichtingius disputed his heresy without reproaching or blaspheming God willingly, under pretence of denying the way and worship of his adversaries: Servetus stuffed all his discourses with horrid blasphemies. Beza tells us that he called the Trinity tricipitem Cerberum, and wrote that Moses was a ridiculous impostor, Beza, Ep. i.; and there are passages cited out of his book of the Trinity (which I have not seen) that seem to have as much of the devil in them as any thing that ever yet was written or spoken by any of the sons of men. If, saith he, Christ be the Son of God, “debuissent ergo dicere, quod Deus habebat uxorem quandam spiritualem, vel quod solus ipse masculus femineus aut hermaphroditus, simul erat pater et mater, nam ratio vocabuli non patitur, ut quis dicatur sine matre pater: et si Logos filius erat, natus ex patre sine matre; dic mihi quomodo peporit eum, per ventrem an per latus.”
To this height of atheism and blasphemy had Satan wrought up the spirit of the man; so that I must say he is the only person in the world, that I ever read or heard of, that ever died upon the account of religion, in reference to whom the zeal of them that put him to death may be acquitted. But of these things God will judge. Socinus says he died calling on Christ; those that were present say quite the contrary, and that in horror he roared out misericordia to the magistrates, but nothing else. But arcana Deo.
Of these men last named, their writings and endeavours for the propagation of their opinions, others having written already, I shall forbear. Some of note amongst them have publicly recanted and renounced their heresy, as Vogelius and Peuschelius; whose retractations are answered by Smalcius. Neither shall I add much as to their present condition. They have as yet many churches in Poland and Transylvania; and have their superintendents, after the manner of Germany. Regenvolscius tells us that all the others are sunk and lost, only the Socinians remain;9595 “Denique Socinistæ recensendi mihi veniunt quia Fausto Socino, per Poloniam et Transylvaniam virus suum disseminante, tum nomen tum doctrinam sumpsere; atque hi soli, extinctis Farnesianis, Anabaptistis, et Francisci Davidis sectatoribus supersunt; homines ad fallacias et sophismata facti.” — Hist. Eccles. Slavon. lib. i. p. 90. the Arians, Sabellians, David Georgians, with the followers of Franciscus David, being all gone over to the confession of Socinus: which makes me somewhat wonder at that of Johannes Lætus, who affirms that about the year 1619, in a convention of the states in Poland, those who denied that Christ ought to be invocated (which were the followers of Franciscus David, Christianus Franken, and Palæologus) pleaded that the liberty that was granted to Antitrinitarians was intended for them, and not for the Socinians; and the truth is, they had footing in Poland before ever the name of Socinus was there known, though he afterward insults upon them, and says that they most impudently will have themselves called Christians when they are not so.9696 “Palæologus præcipuus fuit ex Antesignanis illorum qui Christum nec invocandum, nec adorandum esse hodie affirmant et interim tamen se Christianos esse impudenter profitentur, quo vix quidquam scelestius in religione nostra depravanda excogitari posse existimo.” — Socin. ad Weik. Ref. ad cap. iv. cap. ii. p. 42.
But what numbers they are in those parts of the world, how the poison is 42drunk in by thousands in the Papacy, by what advantages it hath [insinuated], and continues to insinuate itself into multitudes living in the outward profession of the reformed churches, what progress it makes and what ground it gets in our native country every day, I had rather bewail than relate. This I am compelled to say, that unless the Lord, in his infinite mercy, lay an awe upon the hearts of men, to keep them in some captivity to the simplicity and mystery of the gospel who now strive every day to exceed one another in novel opinions and philosophical apprehensions of the things of God, I cannot but fear that this soul-destroying abomination will one day break in as a flood upon us.
I shall only add something of the occasions and advantages that these men took and had for the renewing and propagation of their heresy, and draw to a close of this discourse.
Not to speak of the general and more remote causes of these and all other soul-destroying errors, or the darkness, pride, corruption, and wilfullness of men; the craft, subtilty, envy, and malice of Satan; the just revenging hand of God, giving men up to a spirit of delusion, that they might believe lies, because they delighted not in the truth, — I shall only remark one considerable occasion or stumbling-block at which they fell and drank in the poison, and one considerable advantage that they had for the propagation of what they had so fallen into.
Their great stumbling-block I look upon to be the horrible corruption and abuse of the doctrine of the Trinity in the writings of the schoolmen, and the practice of the devotionists among the Papists. With what desperate boldness, atheistical curiosity, wretched inquiries and babbling, the schoolmen have polluted the doctrine of the Trinity, and gone off from the simplicity of the gospel in this great mystery, is so notoriously known that I shall not need to trouble you with instances for the confirmation of the observation. This the men spoken of (being the most, if not all of them, brought up in the Papacy) stumbled at. They saw the doctrine concerning that God whom they were to worship rendered unintelligible, curious, intricate,:involved in terms and expressions not only barbarous in themselves, and not used in Scripture, but insignificant, horrid, and remote from the reason of men: which, after some struggling, set them at liberty from under the bondage of those notions; and when they should have gone to “the law and to the testimony” for their information, Satan turned them aside to their own reasonings and imaginations, where they stumbled and fell. And yet of the forms and expressions of their schoolmen are the Papists so zealous, as that whoever departs from them in any kind is presently an antitrinitarian heretic. The dealings of Bellarmine, Genebrard, Possevine, and others, with Calvin, are known. One instance may be taken of their ingenuity: Bellarmine, in his book, “De Christo,” lays it to the charge of Bullinger, that in his book, “De Scripturæ et Ecclesiæ Authoritate,” he wrote that there were three persons in the Deity, “non statu, sed gradu, non subsistentia, sod forma, non potestate, sod specie differentes;” on which he exclaims that the Arians themselves never spake more wickedly: and yet these are the very words of Tertullian against Praxeas; which, I confess, are warily to be interpreted. But by this their measuring of truth by the forms received by tradition from their fathers, neglecting and forsaking the simplicity of the gospel, that many stumbled and fell is most evident.
Schlusselburgius, in his wonted respect and favour unto the Calvinists, tells us that from them and their doctrine was the occasion administered unto this new abomination; also, that never any turned Arian but he was first a Calvinist: which he seems to make good by a letter of Adam Neuserus, 43who, as he saith, from a Sacramentarian turned Arian, and afterward a Mohammedan, and was circumcised at Constantinople. “This man,” says he, “in a letter from Constantinople to Doctor Gerlachius, tells him that none turned Arians but those that were Calvinists first; and therefore he that would take heed of Arianism had best beware of Calvinism.”9797 “Notatu vero dignissimum est hisce novis Arianis ad apostasiam seu Arianismum occasionem fuisse, doctrinam Calvinistarum, id quod ipsi Ariani haud obscure professi sunt. Recitabo hujus rei exemplum memorabile de Adamo Neusero ante paucos annos Ecclesiæ Heidelbergensis ad S. S. primario pastore nobilissimo sacramentario. Hic ex Zvinglianisimo per Ariauismum ad Mahometismum usque, cum aliis non paucis Calvinistis Constantinopolin circumcisionem judaicam recipiens et veritatem agnitam abnegans progressus est Hic Adamus sequentia verba dedit Constantinopol. D. Gerlachio, anne 1574, ‘nullus nostro tempore mihi notus factus est Arianus qui non antea fuerit Calvinista. Servetus, etc., igitur qui sibi timet ne incidat in Arianismum, caveat Calvinismum.’ ” I am very unwilling to call any man’s credit into question who relates a matter of fact, unless undeniable evidence enforce me, because it cannot be done without an imputation of the foulest crime; I shall therefore take leave to ask, —
1. What credit is to be given to the testimony of this man, who, upon Conradus’ own report, was circumcised, turned Mohammedan, and had wholly renounced the truth which he once professed? For my part, I should expect from such a person nothing but what was maliciously contrived for the prejudice of the truth; and therefore suppose he might raise this on purpose to strengthen and harden the Lutherans against the Calvinists, whom he hated most, because that they professed the truth which he had renounced, and that true knowledge of Christ and his will which now he hated; and this lie of his he looked on as an expedient for the hardening of the Lutherans in their error, and helping them with a stone to cast at the Calvinists.
2. Out of what kindness was it that this man bare to Gerlachius and his companions, that he gives them this courteous admonition to beware of Calvinism? Is it any honour to Gerlachius, Conradus himself, or any other Lutheran, that an apostate, an abjurer of Christian religion, loved them better than he did the Calvinists? What person this Adam Neuserus was, and what the end of him was, we have an account given by Maresius from a manuscript history of Altingius. From Heidelberg, being suspected of a conspiracy with one Sylvanus, who for it was put to death, he fled into Poland, thence to Constantinople, where he turned Mohammedan, and was circumcised, and after a while fell into such miserable horror and despair, that with dreadful yellings and clamours he died; so that the Turks themselves confess that they never heard of a more horrid, detestable, and tragical end of any man; whereupon they commonly called him Satan Ogli, or the son of the devil. And so, much good may it do Conradus, with his witness.
3. But what occasion, I pray, does Calvinism give to Arianism, that the one should be taken heed of if we intend to avoid the other? What offence does it give to men inquiring after the truth, to make them stumble on their abominations? What doctrine doth it maintain that should prepare them for it? But no man is bound to burden himself with more than he can carry, and therefore all such inquiries Schlusselburgius took no notice of.
The truth is, many of the persons usually instanced in as apostates from Calvinism to Arianism were such as, leaving Italy and other parts of the pope’s dominion, came to shelter themselves where they expected liberty and opportunity of venting their abomination among the reformed 44churches, and joined themselves with them in outward profession, most of them, as afterward appeared, being thoroughly infected with the errors against the Trinity and about the Godhead before they left the Papacy, where they stumbled and fell.
In the practice of the “church,” as it is called, wherein they were bred, they nextly saw the horrible idolatry that was countenanced in abominable pictures of the Trinity, and the worship yielded to them; which strengthened and fortified their minds against such gross conceptions of the nature of God as by those pictures were exhibited.
Hence, when they had left the Papacy and set up their opposition to the blessed Trinity, in all their books they still made mention of those idols and pictures, speaking of them as the gods of those that worshipped the Trinity. This instance makes up a good part of their book, “De Falsa et Vera Cognitione Unius Dei, Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti,” written in the name of the ministers of the churches in Sarmatia and Transylvania; a book full of reproach and blasphemies. But this, I say, was another occasion of stumbling to those miserable wretches. They knew what thoughts the men of their communication had of God, by the pictures made of him, and the worship they yielded to them, — they knew how abhorrent to the very principles of reason it was that God should be such as by them represented; and therefore set themselves at liberty (or rather gave up themselves to the service of Satan) to find out another god whom they might worship.
Neither are they a little confirmed to this day in their errors by sundry principles which, under the Roman apostasy, got footing in the minds of men professing the name of Jesus Christ; particularly, they sheltered themselves from the sword of the word of God, evidencing the deity of Christ by ascribing to him divine adoration, by the shield of the Papists’ doctrine, that those who are not gods by nature may be adored, worshipped, and invocated.
Now, that to this day the Papists continue in the same idolatry (to touch that by the way), I shall give you, for your refreshment, a copy of a verse or two, whose poetry does much outgo the old,
“O crux spes unica!
Auge piis constantiam,
Hoc passionis tempore,
Reisque dona veniam;”
and whose blasphemy comes not at all short of it. The first is of Clarus Bonarus the Jesuit, lib. iii. Amphitrial. Honor. lib. iii. cap. ult. ad Divinam Hallensem et Puerum Jesum, as followeth:—
“Hæreo lac inter meditans, interque cruorem;
Inter delicias uberis et lateris.
Et dico (si forte oculus super ubera tendo),
Diva parens mammæ gaudia posco tuæ.
Sed dico (si deinde oculos in vulnera verto),
O Jesu lateris gaudia male tui.
Rem scio, prensabo si fas erit ubera dextra,
Læva prensabo vulnera si dabitur.
Lac matris miscere vole cum sanguine nati;
Non possem antidote nobiliore frui.
Vulnera restituant turpem uleeribus mendicum,
Testa cui saniem radere sola potest.
Ubera reficient Ismaelem sitientem,
Quem Sara non patitur, quem neque nutrit Agar.
Ista mihi, ad pestem procul et procul expungendam;
Ista mini ad longas evalitura febres.
Ira vomit flammas, fumatque libidinis Ætna;
Suffocare queo sanguine, lacte queo.
45Livor inexpleta rubigine sævit in artus;
Detergere queo lacte, cruore queo:
Vanus honos me perpetua prurigine tentat:
Exsaturare queo sanguine, lacte queo.
Ergo parens et nate, meis advertite votis
Lac peto, depereo sanguinem, utrumque volo.
O sitio tamen! O vocem sitis intercludit!
Nate cruore, sitim comprime lacte parens.
Dic matri, meus hic frater sitit, optima mater,
Vise fonte tuo promere, deque meo.
Dic nato, tuus hie frater mi mellee fili
Captivus monstrat vincula, lytron habes.
Ergo Redemptorem monstra to jure vocari,
Nobilior reliquis si tibi sanguis inest.
Tuque parens monstra, matrem to jure vocari,
Ubera si reliquis divitiora geris.
O quando lactabor ab ubere, vulnere pascar?
Deliciisque fruar, mamma latusque tuis.”
The other is of Franciscus de Mendoza, in Viridario Utriusque Eruditionis, lib. ii. prob. 2, as ensueth:—
“Ubera me matris, nati me vulnera pascunt
Scilicet hæc animi sunt medicina mei,
Nam mihi dum lachrymas amor elicit ubera sugo
Rideat ut dulci mœstus amore dolor.
At me pertentant dum gaudia, vulnera lambo
Ut me læta pio mista dolore juvent.
Vulnera sic nati, sic ubera sugo parentis
Securæ ut variæ sint mihi forte vices.
Quis sine lacte precor, vel quis sine sanguine vivat?
Lacte tuo genetrix, sanguine hate tuo.
Sit lac pro ambrosia, suavi pro hectare sanguis
Sic me perpetuum vulnus et uber alit.”
And this their idolatry is objected to them by Socinus,9898 “Hoc tantum dicam, cum nuper Bellarmini disputationum primum tomum evolverem, supra modum me miratum fuisse, quod ad finem fere singularum controversiarum homo alioqui acutus ac sagax ea verba aut curaverit aut permiserut adscrubu; Laus Deo, virginique matri; quibus verbis manifeste Virfini Mariæ divinus cultus, aut ex sequo cum ipso Deo, aut certe secundum Deum exhibetur.” — Socin. Ad Weik. cap. i. p. 22. who marvels at the impudence of Bellarmine closing his books of controversies (as is the manner of the men of that Society) with “Laus Deo, virginique matri Mariæ,” wherein, as he says (and he says it truly), divine honour with God is ascribed to the blessed Virgin.
The truth is, I see not any difference between that dedication of himself and his work, by Redemptus Baranzano the priest, in these words, “Deo, Virglnique Matri, Sancto Paulo, Bruno, Alberto, Redempto, Francisco, Clarke, Joannæ, Catharinæ Senensi, divisque omnibus, quos peculiari cultu honorare desidero, omnis meus labour consecratus sit” (Baranzan. Nov. Opin. Physic. Diglad.), and that of the Athenians, by the advice of Epimenides Θεοῖς Ἀσίας καὶ Ἐυρώπης καὶ Λιβύης, Θεῷ ἀγνώστῳ καὶ Ξένῳ both of them being suitable to the counsel of Pythagoras:—
Ἀθανάτους μὲν πρῶτα θεοὺς νόμῳ ὡς διάκειται
Τίμα καὶ σέβου ὅρκον ἔπειθ ἥρωας ἀγανούς
Τούς τε καταχθονίους οέβε δαίμονας ἕννομα ῥέζων
Let them be sure to worship all sorts, that they may not miss. And by these means, amongst others, hath an occasion of stumbling and hardening been given to these poor souls.
As to the propagation of their conceptions, they had the advantage not only of an unsettled time, as to the civil government of the nations of the world, most kingdoms and commonweals in Europe undergoing in that age considerable mutations and changes (a season wherein commonly the envious man hath taken opportunity to sow his tares); but also, men being 46set at liberty from the bondage under which they were kept in the Papacy, and from making the tradition of their fathers the rule of their worship and walking, were found indeed to have, upon abiding grounds, no principles of religion at all, and therefore were earnest in the inquiry after something that they might fix upon. What to avoid they knew, but what to close withal they knew not; and therefore it is no wonder if, among so many (I may say) millions of persons as in those days there were that fell off from the Papacy, some thousands perhaps (much more scores) might, in their inquirings, from an extreme of superstition run into another almost of atheism.
Such was the estate of things and men in those days wherein Socinianism, or the opposition to Christ of this latter edition, set forth in the world. Among the many that were convinced of the abominations of Popery before they were well fixed in the truth, some were deceived by the cunning sleight of some few men that lay in wait to deceive. What event and issue an alike state and condition of things and persons hath gone forth unto in the places and days wherein we live is known to all; and that the saints of God may be warned by these things is this addressed to them. To what hath been spoken I had thought, for a close of this discourse, to have given an account of the learning that these men profess, and the course of their studies, of their way of disputing, and the advantages they have therein; to have instanced in some of their considerable sophisms, and subtile depravations of Scripture, as also to have given a specimen of distinctions and answers, which may be improved to the discovering and slighting of their fallacies in the most important heads of religion: but being diverted by new and unexpected avocations, I shall refer these and other considerations unto a prodromus for the use of younger students who intend to look into these controversies.
And these are the persons with whom we have to deal, these their ways and progress in the world. I shall now briefly subjoin some advantages they have had, something of the way and method wherein they have proceeded, for the diffusing of their poison, with some general preservatives against the infection, and draw to a close of this discourse.
1. At the first entrance upon their undertaking, some of them made no small advantage, in dealing with weak and unwary men, by crying out that the terms of trinity, person, essence, hypostatical union, communication of properties, and the like, were not found in the Scripture, and therefore were to be abandoned.
With the colour of this plea, they once prevailed so far on the churches in Transylvania as that they resolved and determined to abstain from the use of those words; but they quickly perceived that though the words were not of absolute necessity to express the things themselves to the minds of believers, yet they were so to defend the truth from the opposition and craft of seducers, and at length recovered themselves, by the advice of Beza:9999 “Nam ego quidem sic statuok etsi non pendent aliuude rerum sacrarum veritas quam ab unico Dei verbo, et sedul vitanda est nobis omnis κενοφωνία: tamen sublato essentiæ et hypostaseωn discrimine (quibuscumque tandem verbis utaris) et abrogato ὁμοουσίῳ, vix ac ne vix quidem istorum blasphemorum fraudes detegi, et errores satis perspicue coargui posse. Nego quoque sublatis vocabulis naturæ, proprietatis, hypostaticæ unionis, ἰδιωμάτων κοινωνίας posse Nestorii et Eutychei blasphemias commode a quoquam refelli: qua in re si forte hallucinor, hoc age, nobis demonstret qui potest, et nos illum coronabimus.” — Beza, Ep. 81. yea, and Socinus himself doth not only grant but prove that in general this is not to be imposed on men, that the doctrine they assert is contained in Scripture in so many words, seeing it sufficeth that 47the thing itself pleaded for be contained therein.100100 “Ais igitur adversus id quod a me affirmatum fuerat, in controversis dogmatibus probandis, aut improbandis, necesse esse literam adferre, et id quod asseritur manifeste demonstrare: id quod asseritur manifeste demonstrari debere plane concede; literam autem adferre necesse esse prorsus nego; me autem jure hoc facere id aperte confirmat, quod quædam dogmata in Christi ecclesia receptissima, non solum per expressam literam non probantur, sed ipsam sibi contrariam habent. Exempli causa, inter omnes fete Christiani nominis heroines receptissimum est, Deum non habere aliqua membra corporis, ut aures, oculos, nares, brachia, pedes, marius, et tamen non mode expresse et literaliter (ut vocant) id scripture in sacris libris non est: verum etiam contrarium omnino passim diserte scriptum extat.” — Faust. Socin. Frag. Disput. de Ador. Christi cum Fran. David, cap. x. p. 59. To which purpose I desire the learned reader to peruse his words, seeing he gives an instance of what he speaks somewhat opposite to a grand notion of his disciple, with whom I have chiefly to do; yea, and the same person rejects the plea of his companions, of the not express usage of the terms wherein the doctrine of the Trinity is delivered in the Scripture, as weak and frivolous.101101 “Simile quod affers de vocabulis “essentiæ,” et “personarum” a nobis repudiatis, quia in sanctis literis non inveniantur, non est admittendum, nemini enim vere cordato persuadebitis id quod per ea vocabuli adversarii significare voluerunt, idcirco repudiandum esse, quia ipsa vocabula scripta non inveniantur, imo quicunque ex nobis hac ratione sunt usi, suspectam apud nonnullos, alioquin ingenio, et eruditione præstantes viros, causam nostram reddidere.” — Idem, ubi sup. p. 62. And this hath made me a little marvel at the precipitate, undigested conceptions of some, who, in the midst of the flames of Socinianism kindling upon us on every side, would (contrary to the wisdom and practice of all antiquity, no one assembly in the world excepted) tie us up to a form of confession composed of the bare words of the Scripture, in the order wherein they are placed. If we profess to believe that Christ is God blessed for ever, and the Socinians tell us, “True, but he is a God by office, not by nature,” is it not lawful for us to say, “Nay, but he is God, of the same nature, substance, and essence with his Father?” If we shall say that Christ is God, one with the Father, and the Sabellians shall tell us, “True, they are every way one, and in all respects, so that the whole Deity was incarnate,” is it not lawful for us to tell them, that though he be one in nature and essence with his Father, yet he is distinct from him in person? And the like instances may be given for all the expressions wherein the doctrine of the blessed Trinity is delivered. The truth is, we have sufficient ground for these expressions in the Scripture as to the words, and not only the things signified by them: the nature of God we have, Gal. iv. 8; the person of the Father, and the Son distinct from it, Heb. i. 3; the essence of God, Exod. iii. 14, Rev. i. 4; the Trinity, 1 John v. 7; the Deity, Col. ii. 9.
2. Their whole business, in all their books and disputations, is to take upon themselves the part of answerers, so cavilling and making exception, not caring at all what becomes of any thing in religion, so they may with any colour avoid the arguments wherewith they are pressed. Hence almost all their books, unless it be some few short catechisms and confessions, are only answers and exceptions to other men’s writings. Beside the fragments of a catechism or two, Socinus himself wrote very little but of this kind; so do the rest. How heavy and dull they are in asserting may be seen in Volkelius’ Institutions; and here, whilst they escape their adversaries, they are desperately bold in their interpretations of Scripture, though, for the most part, it suffices [them to say] that what is urged against them is not the sense of the place, though they themselves can assign no sense at all to it. I could easily give instances in abundance to make good this observation concerning them, but I shall not mention what must necessarily be insisted on in the ensuing discourse. Their answers are, “This 48may otherwise be expounded;” “It may otherwise be understood;” “The word may have another signification in another place.”
3. The greatest triumphs which they set up in their own conceits are, when by any ways they possess themselves of any usual maxim that passes current amongst men, being applied to finite, limited, created things, or any acknowledged notion in philosophy, and apply it to the infinite, uncreated, essence of God; than which course of proceeding nothing, indeed, can be more absurd, foolish, and contrary to sound reason. That God and man, the Creator and creature, that which is absolutely infinite and independent, and that which is finite, limited, and dependent, should be measured by the same rules, notions, and conceptions, unless it be by way of eminent analogy, which will not further their design at all, is most fond and senseless. And this one observation is sufficient to arm us against all their profound disputes about “essence,” “personality,” and the like.
4. Generally, as we said, in the pursuit of their design and carrying it on, they begin in exclaiming against the usual words wherein the doctrines they oppose are taught and delivered. “They are not Scripture expressions,” etc.; “For the things themselves, they do not oppose them, but they think them not so necessary as some suppose,” etc. Having got some ground by this on the minds of men, great stress is immediately laid on this, “That a man may be saved though he believe not the doctrine of the Trinity, the satisfaction of Christ, etc., so that he live holily, and yield obedience to the precepts of Christ; so that it is mere madness and folly to break love and communion about such differences.” By this engine I knew, not long since, a choice society of Christians, through the cunning sleight of one lying in wait to deceive, disturbed, divided, broken, and in no small part of it infected. If they once get this advantage, and have thereby weakened the love and valuation of the truth with any, they generally, through the righteous judgment of God in giving up men of light and vain spirits to the imaginations of their own hearts, overthrow their faith, and lead them captive at their pleasure.
5. I thought to have insisted, in particular, on their particular ways of insinuating their abominations, of the baits they lay, the devices they have, their high pretences to reason, and holiness in their lives, or honesty; as also, to have evinced, by undeniable evidences, that there are thousands in the Papacy and among the Reformed Churches that are wholly baptized into their vile opinions and infidelity, though, for the love of their temporal enjoyments, which are better to them than their religion, they profess it not; as also, how this persuasion of theirs hath been the great door whereby the flood of atheism which is broken in upon the world, and which is almost always professed by them who would be accounted the wits of the times, is come in upon the nations; farther, to have given general answers and distinctions applicable to the most if not all of the considerable arguments and objections wherewith they impugn the truth: but referring all these to my general considerations for the study of controversies in divinity, with some observations that may be preservatives against their poison, I shall speedily acquit you from the trouble of this address. Give me leave, then, in the last place (though unfit and unworthy), to give some general cautions to my fellow-labourers and students in divinity for the freeing our souls from being tainted with these abominations, and I have done:—
1. Hold fast the form of wholesome words and sound doctrine: know that there are other ways of peace and accommodation with dissenters than by letting go the least particle of truth. When men would accommodate 49their own hearts to love and peace, they must not double with their souls, and accommodate the truth of the gospel to other men’s imaginations. Perhaps some will suggest great things of going a middle way in divinity, between dissenters; but what is the issue, for the most part, of such proposals? After they have, by their middle way, raised no less contentions than was before between the extremes (yea, when things before were in some good measure allayed), the accommodators themselves, through an ambitious desire to make good and defend their own expedients, are insensibly carried over to the party and extreme to whom they thought to make a condescension unto; and, by endeavouring to blanch their opinions, to make them seem probable, they are engaged to the defence of their consequences before they are aware. Amyraldus (whom I look upon as one of the greatest wits of these days) will at present go a middle way between the churches of France and the Arminians. What hath been the issue? Among the churches, divisions, tumult, disorder; among the professors and ministers, revilings, evil surmisings; to the whole body of the people, scandals and offences; and in respect of himself, evidence of daily approaching nearer to the Arminian party, until, as one of them saith of him, he is not far from their kingdom of heaven. But is this all? Nay, but Grotius, Episcopius, Curcellæus,102102 “Quotquot hactenus theologica tractarunt, id sibi negotii crediderunt solum dari, ut quam sive sors illis obtulerat, sive judicio amplexi erant sententiam, totis illam viribus tuerentur.” — Curcellæus Præfat. ad Opera Episcop. etc. (quanta nomina!) with others, must go a middle way to accommodate with the Socinians; and all that will not follow are rigid men, that by any means will defend the opinions they are fallen upon. The same plea is made by others for accommodation with the Papists; and still “moderation,” “the middle way,” “condescension,” are cried up. I can freely say, that I know not that man in England who is willing to go farther in forbearance, love, and communion with all that fear God and hold the foundation, than I am; but that this is to be done upon other grounds, principles, and ways, by other means and expedients, than by a condescension from the exactness of the least apex of gospel truth, or by an accommodation of doctrines by loose and general terms, I have elsewhere sufficiently declared. Let no man deceive you with vain pretences; hold fast the truth as it is in Jesus, part not with one iota, and contend for it when called thereunto.
2. Take heed of the snare of Satan in affecting eminency by singularity. It is good to strive to excel and to go before one another in knowledge and in light, as in holiness and obedience. To do this in the road is difficult. Ahimaaz had not outrun Cushi but that he took a by-path. Many finding it impossible to emerge unto any consideration by walking in the beaten path of truth (all parts of divinity, all ways of handling it, being carried already to such a height and excellency, that to make any considerable improvement requires great pains, study, and an insight into all kinds of learning), and yet not able to conquer the itch of being accounted τίνες μεγάλοι, turn aside into by-ways, and turn the eyes of all men to them by scrambling over hedge and ditch, when the sober traveller is not at all regarded.
The Roman historian, giving an account of the degeneracy of eloquence after it once came to its height in the time of Cicero, fixeth on this as the most probable reason: “Difficilis in perfecto mora est; naturaliterque, quod procedere non potest, recedit; et ut primo ad consequendos, quos priores ducimus, accendimur: ita, ubi aut præteriri, aut æquari cos posse desperavimus, studium cum spe senescit; et quod adsequi non potest, sequi desinit; et, velut occupatam relinquens materiam, quærit novam: præteritoque eo in 50quo eminere non possumus, aliquid in quo nitamur conquirimus; sequiturque, ut frequens ac mobilis transitus maximum perfecti operis impedimentum sit.” — Paterc. Hist. Rom. lib. i. cap. xvii.
I wish some such things may not be said of the doctrine of the reformed churches. It was not long since raised to a great height of purity in itself, and perspicuity in the way of its delivery; but athletic constitutions are seldom permanent.103103 Ἐν ποῖσι γυμναστικοῖσιν αἱ ἐπ’ ἄκρον εὐεξίας σφαλεραὶ ἢ ἐν τῷ ἐσχάτῳ ἔωσιν οὖ γὰρ δύνανται μένειν ἐν τῷ αὐτέῳ οὐδὲ ἀτρεμέειν ἐπεὶ δὲ οὐκ ἀτρεμέουσιν οὐδέ τι δύνανται ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον ἐπιδιδόναι λείπεται ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον. — Hippocrat. Aphoris. lib. i. sect. 11. Men would not be content to walk after others, and finding they could not excel what was done, they have given over to imitate it or to do any thing in the like kind; and therefore, neglecting that wherein they could not be eminent, they have taken a course to have something peculiar wherein to put forth their endeavours. Let us, then, watch against this temptation, and know that a man may be higher than his brethren, and yet be but a Saul.
3. Let not any one attempt dealing with these men that is not in some good measure furnished with those kinds of literature and those common arts wherein they excel; as, first, the knowledge of the tongues wherein the Scripture is written, namely, the Hebrew and Greek. He that is not in some measure acquainted with these will scarcely make thorough work in dealing with them. There is not a word, nor scarce a letter in a word (if I may so speak), which they do not search and toss up and down; not an expression which they pursue not through the whole Scripture, to see if any place will give countenance to the interpretation of it which they embrace. The curious use of the Greek articles, which, as Scaliger calls them, are “loquacissimæ gentis flabellum,” is their great covert against the arguments for the deity of Christ. Their disputes about the Hebrew words wherein the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ is delivered in the Old Testament, the ensuing treatise will in part manifest. Unless a man can debate the use of words with them in the Scripture, and by instances from other approved authors, it will be hard so to enclose or shut them up but that they will make way to evade and escape. Press them with any testimony of Scripture, if of any one word of the testimony, whereon the sense of the whole in any measure depends, they can except that in another place that word in the original hath another signification, and therefore it is not necessary that it should here signify as you urge it, unless you are able to debate the true meaning and import of the word with them, they suppose they have done enough to evade your testimony. And no less [necessary], nextly, are the common arts of logic and rhetoric, wherein they exercise themselves. Among all Socinus’ works, there is none more pernicious than the little treatise he wrote about sophisms; wherein he labours to give instances of all manner of sophistical arguments in those which are produced for the confirmation of the doctrine of the blessed Trinity.
He that would re-enforce those arguments, and vindicate them from his exceptions and the entanglements cast upon them, without some considerable acquaintance with the principles of logic and artificial rules of argumentation, will find himself at a loss. Besides, of all men in the world, in their argumentations they are most sophistical. It is seldom that they urge any reason or give any exception wherein they conclude not “a particulari ad universale,” or “ab indefinito ad universale, exclusive,” or “ab aliqno statu Christi ad omnem,” or “ab œconomia Trinitatis ad theologiam Deitatis,” or “ab usu vocis alicubi” to “ubique:” as, “Christ is a man, therefore not God; he is the servant of the Father, therefore not of the 51same nature.” And the like instances may be given in abundance; from which kind of arguing he will hardly extricate himself who is ignorant of the rudiments of logic. The frequency of figurative expressions in the Scripture, which they make use of to their advantage, requires the knowledge of rhetoric also in him that will deal with them to any good purpose. A good assistance (in the former of these especially) is given to students by Keslerus, “in examine Logicæ, Metaphysicæ, et Physicæ Photinianæ.” The pretended maxims, also, which they insist on from the civil law, in the business of the satisfaction of Christ, which are especially urged by Socinus, and by Crellius in his defence against Grotius, will make him who shall engage with them see it necessary in some measure to be acquainted with the principles of that faculty and learning also.
With those who are destitute of these, the great Spirit of truth is an abundantly sufficient preserver from all the cunning sleights of men that lie in wait to deceive. He can give them to believe and suffer for the truth. But that they should at any time look upon themselves as called to read the books or dispute with the men of these abominations, I can see no ground.
4. Always bear in mind the gross figments, that they seek to assert and establish in the room of that which they cunningly and subtilely oppose. Remember that the aim of their arguments against the deity of Christ and the blessed Trinity is, to set up two true Gods, the one so by nature, the other made so, rather one God in his own essence, the other a God from him by office, that was a man, is a spirit, and shall cease to be a God. And some farther account hereof you will meet with in the close of the ensuing treatise.
5. Diligent, constant, serious reading, studying, meditating on the Scriptures, with the assistance and direction of all the rules and advantages for the right understanding of them which, by the observation and diligence of many worthies, we are furnished withal, accompanied with continual attendance on the throne of grace for the presence of the Spirit of truth with us, to lead us into all truth, and to increase his anointing of us day by day, “shining into our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” is, as for all other things in the course of our pilgrimage and walking with God, so for our preservation against these abominations, and the enabling of us to discover their madness and answer their objections, of indispensable necessity. Apollos, who was “mighty in the Scriptures,” Acts xviii. 24, “mightily convinced the” gainsaying “Jews,” verse 28. Neither, in dealing with these men, is there any better course in the world than, in a good order and method, to multiply testimonies against them to the same purpose; for whereas they have shifts in readiness to every particular, and hope to darken a single star, when they are gathered into a constellation they send out a glory and brightness which they cannot stand before. Being engaged myself once in a public dispute about the satisfaction of Christ, I took this course, in a clear and evident coherence, producing very many testimonies to the confirmation of it; which together gave such an evidence to the truth, that one who stood by instantly affirmed that “there was enough spoken to stop the mouth of the devil himself.” And this course in the business of the deity and satisfaction of Christ will certainly be triumphant. Let us, then, labour to have our senses abundantly exercised in the word, that we may be able to discern between good and evil; and that not by studying the places themselves [only] that are controverted, but by a diligent search into the whole mind and will of God as revealed in the word; wherein the 52sense is given in to humble souls with more life, power, and evidence of truth, and is more effectual for the begetting of faith and love to the truth, than in a curious search after the annotations of men upon particular places. And truly I must needs say that I know not a more deplorable mistake in the studies of divines, both preachers and others, than their diversion from an immediate, direct study of the Scriptures themselves unto the studying of commentators, critics, scholiasts, annotators, and the like helps, which God in his good providence, making use of the abilities, and sometimes the ambition and ends of men, hath furnished us withal. Not that I condemn the use and study of them, which I wish men were more diligent in, but desire pardon if I mistake, and do only surmise, by the experience of my own folly for many years, that many which seriously study the things of God do yet rather make it their business to inquire after the sense of other men on the Scriptures than to search studiously into them themselves.
6. That direction, in this kind, which with me is instar omnium, is for a diligent endeavour to have the power of the truths professed and contended for abiding upon our hearts, that we may not contend for notions, but what we have a practical acquaintance with in our own souls. When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth; when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us; when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for, — then shall we be garrisoned, by the grace of God, against all the assaults of men. And without this all our contending is, as to ourselves, of no value. What am I the better if I can dispute that Christ is God, but have no sense or sweetness in my heart from hence that he is a God in covenant with my soul? What will it avail me to evince, by testimonies and arguments, that he hath made satisfaction for sin, if, through my unbelief, the wrath of God abideth on me, and I have no experience of my own being made the righteousness of God in him, — if I find not, in my standing before God, the excellency of having my sins imputed to him and his righteousness imputed to me? Will it be any advantage to me, in the issue, to profess and dispute that God works the conversion of a sinner by the irresistible grace of his Spirit, if I was never acquainted experimentally with the deadness and utter impotency to good, that opposition to the law of God, which is in my own soul by nature, with the efficacy of the exceeding greatness of the power of God in quickening, enlightening, and bringing forth the fruits of obedience in me? It is the power of truth in the heart alone that will make us cleave unto it indeed in an hour of temptation. Let us, then, not think that we are any thing the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel, for which we contend with these men, unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts, and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with him.
7. Do not look upon these things as things afar off, wherein you are little concerned. The evil is at the door; there is not a city, a town, scarce a village, in England, wherein some of this poison is not poured forth. Are not the doctrines of free will, universal redemption, apostasy from grace, mutability of God, of denying the resurrection of the dead, with all the foolish conceits of many about God and Christ, in this nation, ready to gather to this head?
Let us not deceive ourselves; Satan is a crafty enemy. He yet hovers up and down in the lubricous, vain imaginations of a confused multitude, 53whose tongues are so divided that they understand not one the other. I dare boldly say, that if ever he settle to a stated opposition to the gospel, it will be in Socinianism. The Lord rebuke him; he is busy in and by many, where little notice is taken of him. But of these things thus far.
A particular account of the cause and reasons of my engagement in this business, with what I have aimed at in the ensuing discourse, you will find given in my epistle to the university, so that the same things need not here also be delivered. The confutation of Mr Biddle’s Catechism, and Smalcius’ Catechism, commonly called the “Racovian;” with the vindication of all the texts of Scripture giving testimony to the deity of Christ throughout the Old and New Testament from the perverse glosses and interpretations put upon them by Hugo Grotius in his Annotations on the Bible, with those also which concern his satisfaction; and, on the occasion hereof, the confirmation of the most important truths of the Scripture, about the nature of God, the person of Christ and the Holy Ghost, the offices of Christ, etc., — have been in my design. With what mind and intention, with what love to the truth, with what dependence on God for his presence and assistance, with what earnestness of supplication to enjoy the fruit of the promise of our dear Lord Jesus, to lead me into all truth by his blessed Spirit, I have gone through this work, the Lord knows. I only know that in every particular I have come short of my duty therein, and that a review of my paths and pains would yield me very little refreshment, but that “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that even concerning this also he will remember me for good, and spare me, according to the greatness of his mercy.” And whatever becomes of this weak endeavour before the Lord, yet “he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, and this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” What is performed is submitted humbly to the judgment of them to whom this address is made. About the thoughts of others, or any such as by envy, interest, curiosity, or faction, may be swayed or biassed, I am not solicitous. If any benefit redound to the saints of the Most High, or any that belong to the purpose of God’s love be advantaged, enlightened, or built up in their most holy faith in the least, by what is here delivered, I have my reward.
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