Blandrata George, (Ital. Biandrata,) was a native of Saluzzo, in Piedmont. He followed the profession of a Physician; and, by means of his great talents, and insinuating address, became a favourite with many persons of eminence, both in his own, and in foreign countries.
In the year 1553, we find him and Alciati paying a visit to their Unitarian friends in the country of the Grisons, on their way from Italy into Switzerland. But, if we are to credit the account of Bock, it was not till about the year 1556 that Blandrata settled at Geneva. It appears that he was in Poland during the preceding year ; and had already practised there as a Physician.
On revisiting Italy, he was thrown into the prison of the Inquisition at Pavia, but contrived to make his escape, and fled to Geneva. There he joined the religious society, which had been formed by the Italian refugees; and which contained, among the number of its members, several, who had renounced the doctrine of the Trinity. While at Geneva, he often conversed with Calvin, in whose works may be seen the answers which Calvin returned to his questions. He professed himself under great obligations to Calvin ; but when his heretical tendencies began to develop themselves, Calvin caused him to be apprehended, and would probably have doomed him to the fate of Servet, if he had not subscribed to the Confession of the Church of Geneva.
Finding his situation at Geneva attended with some danger, he left that city in 1558, and went again into Poland, where he took an active part in the religious discussions, by which that kingdom was agitated. An attempt was made at a Synod, held during that year at Pinczow, to silence the Unitarian party, of which Blandrata was one of the leaders; and the doctrine of the Trinity met with able defenders in John a Lasco, and Stanislaus Sarnicki, Chaplain of Bonar, Castellan of Biecz. But the efforts of these zealous champions were unsuccessful ; and that Synod, instead of silencing the Unitarians, was mainly instrumental in the development of their opinions. Blandrata took particular care to clothe his sentiments in scriptural language ; and by not shocking the prejudices of his opponents, but appearing rather to agree with them in all that was essential, gradually brought many of them round to his own views. Calvin, who carefully watched his movements from a distance, was mortified to find in what high estimation Blandrata was held by the Polish reformers ; and urgently admonished them not to trust him. Blandrata now discovered, as Bayle observes, that Divines of Calvin's eminence have long arms. But notwithstanding the opposition of the Calvinistic party, the opinions of Blandrata continued to gain new adherents. Jerome Ossolinski, on hearing this letter, broke out into these words. "Would that writings concerning the Trinity were not disseminated!" meaning such writings as attempted to explain that doctrine by terms of mere human invention. Lismaninus is reported to have joined with Blandrata in saying, at this Synod, " Let all the Doctors leave me one God, and not divide him ; and then they may have what Mediator they please." Before the Synod broke up, Blandrata was ordered to commit to writing a Confession of his Faith, which he did, and presented it at the next Synod, held at Xionx, in March, 1562, when it was privately read, and met with the approbation of some, and the disapprobation of others. But so powerful had his party now become, that, at the following Synod, held at Pinczow, April the 21st, in the same year, and consisting of twentyeight Ministers, and twelve lay patrons, a resolution was passed, which amounted to a virtual abandonment of the contest, on the part of the orthodox. "All researches about the Trinity, Mediation, Incarnation," says Krasinski, "were to be abandoned: all expressions unknown to the primitive Church were prohibited. The Ministers were to preach the pure words of the Gospel, unadulterated by any human explanations. The decisions of the Councils held after the apostolical times were declared not binding. Sarnicki, who perceived that this resolution was passed in order to conceal the real opinion of its framers, proposed that all the Ministers maintaining the supremacy of the Father over the Son should resign their offices, but his proposition was rejected, by which the anti-Trinitarian bias of the Synod became evident." (Historical Sketch of the Reformation in Poland, by Count Krasinski, Vol. I. pp. 356, 357.) At this Synod Blandrata's Confession was publicly read ; but being expressed in the words of Scripture, it excited little discussion.
He attended the seventeenth Synod, at Xionx, in the month of September, 1560 ; and was at that time appointed one of the Superintendents of the Helvetic Church, in Little Poland. He was also present at the nineteenth Synod, at Pinczow, in January, 1561, as the delegate of Prince Nicholas Radzivil, when Peter Statorius is reported to have said, that all the friends of Blandrata, by some means or other, fell under a suspicion of heresy. At the twentieth Synod, which was held at Cracow, on the 16th of September, in the same year, Martin Czechovicius produced a letter of Calvin's, in which he exhorted the Cracovians and Pinczovians to beware of Blandrata.
Having now sown the seeds of Unitarianism in Poland, he determined, in the year 1563, to accept an invitation, which had been sent him by John Sigismund, Prince of Transylvania, to whom he thenceforward acted in the capacity of Physician, and who soon became a convert to his religious opinions. His office, as Court Physician, afforded him peculiar facilities for extending his influence, and propagating his doctrines, among the principal families in Transylvania; and he was not slow to avail himself of these facilities. The result was, that not only the Prince himself, but the chief Nobles of the country, adopted his views, and cooperated with him in their diffusion.
After the death of John Sigismund, Blandrata returned to Poland, and held the office of Physician to Stephen Bathory, when that Prince obtained the crown of Poland. He had taken Francis Davidis with him into Transylvania, and was not a little indebted to that learned and excellent man, for the success which attended his efforts to obtain proselytes to his opinions. But he was much disturbed at the objections made by Davidis to the worship of Jesus Christ; and being anxious that this worship should be maintained in the Churches of Transylvania, but unable, by argument or entreaty, to bring Davidis over to his own views, he called in to his assistance the celebrated Faust Socin, who was then at Basle, in Switzerland. With this object he prevailed upon Davidis to accommodate F. Socin as his guest, that they might debate the matter between themselves, Blandrata undertaking to repay Davidis all the expenses of board and lodging. This was in the year 1578.
In 1579, Blandrata again joined Alciati in a tour through the Rhaetian Alps ; but after this we hear little of him.
He was a man of uncommon penetration and address, and was well acquainted with all the arts and intrigues of Courts. In the end, however, he became a melancholy example of the pernicious effects of ambition and worldly mindedness; for, at the close of his life, he deserted the cause, of which he had been so zealous an advocate, and took part with the Jesuits, who were received into favour during the reign of Stephen Bathory.
His profession had enabled him to realize an ample fortune ; and as age advanced, his love of money increased. But he had no children to inherit his property, for he lived and died a bachelor. He resolved, therefore, to adopt a nephew as his heir, who, eager to come into possession, caused his uncle to be strangled in his bed.
In what year the death of Blandrata occurred, cannot, with any degree of certainty, be determined. He was living, according to Sandius, about the year 1585, but did not survive the year 1592. Some say, that his death took place in 1586; others make him to have died on the 14th of May, 1588.
According to Bock, the writings in which Blandrata was more or less concerned, are twenty-seven in number: but some of these are mentioned in connexion with his name, only because they were published in Transylvania in his time, or under his auspices. The following is an abridged account of them.
1. Questions, to which Calvin has replied in the Acts of Valentine Gentilis. Fol. 50—56.
2. A Confession of Faith concerning the Holy Trinity, which Blandrata exhibited at the Synod of Pinczow, A. D. 1562.
3. A Letter to Gregory Pauli, dated Weissenburg, Nov. 30th, 1565.
4. A Letter to the Churches of Little Poland, written Jan. 27th, 1568, and inserted by Lubieniecius in his " History of the Polish Reformation." (L. iii. C. xi. p. 229.)
5. A Catechism, which was read at a public or general Synod held at Radnothin, in 1558.
6. Nine Theses concerning God and his Son Christ.
7. Thirty other Theses opposed to three Theses of F. Davidis, printed in 1578, 8vo.
8. Some remarkable Passages of Scripture in Defence of the Invocation of Christ.
9. Objections to F. Socinus's Refutation of the Theses of F. Davidis, written in 1579, and printed in 1595.
10. Three Letters to James Palaeologus, dated Weissenb., Aug. 3rd, 1578; March 18th, 1579; and Jan., 1580.
11. A Letter to Gregory Pauli, George Schomann, Martin Czechovicius, Alexander Vitrelinus, and other Ministers of the Polish Churches of Jesus Christ crucified, by George Blandrata and Faustus Socinus, in the Name of the Transylvanian Church of the same Confession. A. D. 1579.
12. The first Disputation held at Weissenburg, Feb. 24th, 1566. This was printed in the same year at Clausenburg.
13. A Demonstration of the Falsity of the Doctrine of Peter Melius and others. 1567.
14. Two Books on the false and true Knowledge of the One God the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by the Ministers of the Churches of Poland and Transylvania. Weissenburg, 1567, 4to. To this work references are made by Sandius, in his accounts of John Valdez, Martin Cellarius, and other Antitrinitarian authors. The same writer also gives the heads of the principal topics discussed in this volume. (Bibl. Ant. pp. 30—32.)
15. A Brief Narrative of the [second] Disputation concerning the Triune God and the twofold Nature of Christ, held March 8th, 1568. This was printed at Weissenburg, in 4to., during the same year.
16. Antitheses to Peter Melius's Interpretation of John i.; to which, according to Sandius, (B. A. p. 33,) were added, Seventeen Theses, and Thirty-six Arguments against Infant Baptism.
17. Antithesis of Pseudo-Christ with the true Christ born of Mary. Weissenb. 1568, 4to.
18. Synonymous Scriptural Phrases concerning Christ, the Son of God, born of Mary. Weissenb. 1568, 4to.
19. On the Divinity and Equality of the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus. Weissenb. 1568, 4to.
20. Refutation of a Writing of Peter Melius, in which he teaches, in the name of the Synod of Debreczin, a Jehovality, and a Trinitarian God, unknown to the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles. This and No. 13 were prepared before the second Disputation at Weissenburg. The date of its publication was somewhere about the year 1568.
21. Refutation of a Writing of George Major, in which he has endeavoured to prove, that God is three in Person, and one in Essence. This was written jointly by F. Davidis and G. Blandrata; and is supposed to have been printed at Weissenburg in 1569.
22. Refutation of the Confession of Peter Melius. This may have been written by F. Davidis.
23. Antitheses opposed to the sixteen Theses of F. Davidis, which were exhibited at the General Synod of Thorda, April 26th, 1579.
24. Antithesis on the first Chapter of John according to the Doctrine of the Sophists. This appears to be the same as No. 16.
25. A Letter of the Transylvanian Churches to those of Poland on the Subject of Baptism, written in 1566, and intended to prove, that this rite is no longer obligatory upon Christians. Badzinius inserted a copy of this Letter in the 45th Chapter of his MS. History ; but it is doubtful whether it was written by Blandrata, Davidis, or James Palaeologus.
26. Seven Theses with Antitheses concerning the Trinity, presented to the Synod at Thorda, in the year 1566.
27. The outline of a work, in two parts, on the Reign of Christ and Antichrist. Weissenb. 1569, 4to. Bock, who gives the contents of this book, says, that a comparison of it with the " Christianismi Restitutio" of Servetus, clearly shews, that it is little more than an abridgment of that work.
(Vidend. Sandii B. A. pp. 28—34. Bock, Hist. Ant. T. I. pp. 55— 66; T. II. pp. 470—481, et passim. Bayle, Diet. Hist, et Crit. Art. Blandbata. Lubieniecii Hist. Ref. Polon. L. ii. C. vi. et passim. Joh. Stoinii Epitome Hist. Orig. Unitarior. in Polonia : passim. Lindsey's Hist. View, Ch. iii. Sect. i. pp. 155—161. KrasinskFs Hist. Sketch of the Ref. in Poland, Vol. I. Pt. ii. Ch. viii. p. 351, etc.)
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