• Crellius John

    Crellius Johannes

    Crellius John


    Crellius John, (Germ. Krell,) was born July 26th, O. S., 1590, on a farm, called Heimetzheim, between Nuremberg and Frankfort, and not far from the town of Kitzingen. His father, John Crellius, was a Lutheran Minister, who exercised the pastoral office during a period of twenty years, first at Helmetzheim, where the subject of this article was born, and afterwards at Winterhausen, on the Maine. His mother, whose maiden name was Anne Grinewald, was of a good family ; and a woman of singular accomplishments, and great excellence of character. Their son was blest with superior talents, and a good memory, which induced them to bestow particular attention on his education; and on the 15th of June, 1600, at the early age of ten, he was sent to a public school at Nuremberg. Here he spent three years very profitably, and succeeded in gaining the approbation of his Tutors, and his relation, John Klingius, with whom he lived, and who held the office of public Secretary. He afterwards studied two years at Stolberg am Hartz, a town of Prussian Saxony; and after spending a short time at Marienberg, in the circle of Meissen, returned, on the 27th of August, 1606, bringing back with him, from both these places, satisfactory testimonials of his proficiency and good conduct.

    Crellius had now attained the age of sixteen ; and his relative and patron, John Klingius, thinking him sufficiently advanced to enter upon his collegiate studies, sent him to the University of Altorf, which at that time afforded peculiar literary advantages, from the number and eminence of its Professors. Here his capacious mind ranged over the wide field of literature and science. His first care was to acquire a competent knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, and to perfect himself in the Latin. He then proceeded to study the higher branches of Philosophy ; and when he had made more than common proficiency in the different branches of academical study, he turned his attention to the Scriptures.

    He had become gradually more and more dissatisfied with the theological system in which he was educated, and could never thoroughly reconcile himself to some of its doctrines; but now, assisted by the hints which he received from Ernest Sohner, and Michael Gittichius, two of his fellow-students, he pursued his inquiries on religious subjects with greater freedom.

    About the year 1610, the Senatus Academicus nominated him to the office of Inspector of Youth ; but this office he declined, from a deliberate conviction, that it would operate as a restraint upon the freedom of his inquiries. Some of his fellow-students, who were candidates for the same office, threw out suspicions, that he was tainted with Calvinism ; and endeavoured, by this means, to lower him in the estimation of the Senators and Curators of the University. They were not aware, that there were grounds for fixing upon him a still more unpopular name than that of Calvinist, and one which would have operated far more to his disadvantage. It happened, at that time, to be debated among the theological students of the University, whether Christ, as man, was an object of adoration. Crellius took the affirmative side of this question ; but some of the arguments, which he employed on this occasion, were such as the Lutherans were not in the habit of using, and were intended to serve what he esteemed a better cause than theirs. His real views, however, being known only to those, who held the same opinions as himself, he was acquitted of the charge of Calvinism ; and the Curators of the University resumed the design of making him President of the Youth, which office he again respectfully declined.

    One obstruction to the wishes of Crellius was now removed, but not the fear of others ; for he had attained to that point, at which other titles of honour, customary in the Universities of Germany, awaited him, and his learning opened the way for him to various public offices, which he nevertheless thought it his duty to avoid, as he knew that he could not accept them, without swearing to human Formularies, or Confessions of Faith. Other impediments to the enjoyment of liberty arose from the entreaties and remonstrances of his family connexions, particularly of his mother, and of that relation, whose patronage he had enjoyed from his childhood, and whose anxiety and care respecting his young protege would seem to be rendered fruitless, if, after all, he should abandon the Lutheran Church, for which he had been expressly educated. It greatly distressed the mind of this excellent youth, to find that he could not please both God, and those friends, to whom, next to God, his attachment and obedience were due. He thought it wrong, however, to yield to man the freedom of his mind, which ought to be dedicated to God alone ; and therefore came to the conclusion, that the favour or resentment of his dearest friends was, in such a case, to be disregarded, and that every objection was either to be deliberately set aside, or resolutely combated.

    When he saw that he could not remain where he was, and continue to enjoy liberty of conscience, he began to consider, to what other place he could go, where he might be allowed to think as he pleased, and to give utterance to his thoughts. Poland appeared both to himself, and those of his fellow-students who enjoyed his confidence, to offer the most eligible retreat, although he had never seen that country, and knew that he had no friends there, except that he thought those might in time become his friends, who were already the friends of truth. Accordingly he left Nuremberg about the 1st of November, 1612, and travelled on foot, through the most inclement weather, and unattended by a single companion, to beguile the tedium of his journey, till he arrived at Cracow. There he was hospitably entertained by an illustrious Italian exile, John Baptist Cettis, to whom he brought letters of recommendation from John George Leuchsner, a legal friend residing at Nuremberg. On the 13th of December, in the same year, he reached Racow, where he fixed his residence, and spent the remainder of his life.

    About a fortnight after his settlement at Racow, Crellius was formally received into the communion of the Unitarian Church, and admitted to an intimate friendship with some of its most eminent Pastors. Nor did any long time elapse, before he was introduced to the Court of James Sieninius, Palatine of Podolia. But he did not abuse the liberality of this Nobleman, by indulging in luxury and idleness, nor did he busy himself at all about courtly matters ; but whatever time he had, (and he always had as much as he pleased,) he devoted to theological studies, to an attendance on the lectures of Valentine Smalcius, and to personal intercourse with Jerome Moscorovius, who was not less distinguished by his varied erudition, than by the attractiveness of his conversation.

    In the month of May, 1613, Crellius was appointed, by a resolution of the Synod of Racow, corrector of the press for German and Latin publications, and Professor of Greek in the College of that town. He preached privately, for two years, in the German, Latin and Polish languages. In the year 1615, Smalcius introduced him in a public character ; and in the month of July in that year, he preached his first sermon in the Church, in a language which was vernacular to the majority of his audience, but which he had not acquired without hard labour. In 1616, he was chosen Rector of the College. Paul Krokier, his predecessor in this office, had retired for the purpose of travelling, and was expected to resume his professional duties on his return ; but failing to do this, and no person being better fitted for the vacant office than Crellius, he consented to undertake it, and retained it for the space of five years, to his own improvement, and the public advantage.

    In the same year in which he undertook the office of Rector, Crellius married Rosina, daughter of Simon Pistorius, Minister of the Church at Czarcow, by whom he had three sons, and three daughters, who survived him. The names of his sons were Theophilus, Christopher and John ; of whom Christopher, the second, and John, the youngest, were not altogether unknown to fame.

    In 1621, Crellius resigned the Rectorship of the College, and resumed the ministerial character ; but an infectious disease breaking out about this time, which carried off a great number of the inhabitants of Racow, he retired from the town with many others, and, during this temporary absence, prepared his celebrated work on Christian Ethics, and began his Explanations of the more difficult Passages of Scripture.

    On the death of Smalcius, which took place towards the end of the same year, he was chosen colleague in the government of the Church at Racow, with his successor, Christopher Lubieniecius. It is unnecessary to follow him through the occurrences of the next ten years, during which he faithfully discharged the duties of the pastoral office. He was so assiduous in the performance of these duties, that he scarcely allowed himself lawful recreation; and his friends found it necessary to lay some restraint upon his labours. Scarcely a day passed, in which he did not preach, or was not engaged in giving advice ; or administering comfort; or encouraging some to virtue ; or reproving others; or clearing up some difficult passage of Scripture. These labours might have been easily discharged, by one free from other engagements. But to Crellius these duties were only a change of his usual, and daily employment. He expounded the Scriptures to Students in Divinity ; and his lectures were often attended by persons, well skilled in theological subjects, who, if the lecturer was desirous that they should renew their attendance, were not to be dismissed with trite and common-place remarks. But these hearers were so well pleased with what they learnt from Crellius, that they deemed it worthy of the public eye. Hence, whatever he expressly unfolded, or even briefly touched upon, they digested, and committed to writing on their return home. In this manner originated his Commentaries on the Epistles to the Galatians, and to the Hebrews ; the former published during his life, and the latter after his death, from the notes of Schlichtingius, his colleague. The Commentary upon the two Epistles to the Thessalonians were prepared, in the same way, from notes taken by Peter Morscovius. He expounded all the other books of the New Testament in the same manner ; and the Expositions were afterwards published from the notes of those who attended his class. Indeed, very few of his works were published from manuscripts, which he had drawn up with his own hand; but most of them were dictated from memory, or the suggestion of the moment, without the assistance of notes, or memoranda of any kind.

    Death removed this great man, in the full vigour of his age, and amidst his varied schemes of usefulness. On the 2nd of May, 1633, when, on the festival of Whitsuntide, there were assembled, from the remotest parts, the principal members of the Unitarian Church, after having preached by request from 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18, he began to complain of illness. It soon appeared, that he was seized with an infectious fever, then prevalent at Racow, with which one of his sons was at the time confined to his bed. At the beginning of his sickness, as though he had a presentiment of his approaching death, in the presence of one of his friends, he fervently prayed to God, entreating him, with many tears, to forgive his sins, and to preserve him from the delirium attendant on that kind of fever. In the progress of his disorder, his respiration was impeded, and his articulation often rendered, indistinct, by an accumulation of phlegm, with which he found it difficult to part ; but his friends were able to collect, from his indistinct and broken sentences, that he was perfectly resigned to the will of God, and full of pious and holy aspirations. On the 11th of June, when there remained no prospect of a continued existence in this world, his friends assembled round his dying bed, to take their last farewell. On their entrance, he was raised up, to express, as well as he could, his gratitude for this proof of their affection, and to bestow upon them his last blessing. The whole company, including the Minister, then fell upon their knees ; and, while they were engaged in the act of prayer to God, he calmly breathed his last, in the forty-third year of his age.

    A short time before his death his sight began to fail, and it was resolved, by a vote of the Synod, that the Brethren should assist him in writing out his works, and, at stated hours every day, take down what he should dictate. With this view, Krzyskievicius was appointed, by the Synod, to act as amanuensis to him. This office he undertook ; but as dispatch was required, he was superseded by Ruarus, whom the Racovian Elders thought better adapted for this employment than any one else.

    Underneath the portrait of Crellius, prefixed to his works, are these Latin verses.

    Crellius hos oculos, haec ora modesta gerebat:

    Sic animo mitis cum pietate fuit.
    Hunc cito mors rapuit nimis; at per viva manebit Scripta, quibus vivos post sua fata docet.
    Heec lege, qui mores, qui Sacra volumina nosse, Qui cupis accenso ccelitus igne frui.

    The allusions in the last distich are to his Ethics, his Commentaries, and his Treatise on the Holy Spirit. His works, which fill four volumes of the "Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum," are usually bound in three. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd comprise his exegetical, and the 4th his didactic and polemical writings. The contents of these volumes are as follow.

    Vol. I.—1. Commentary on Matthew i—v. 4, dictated by Crellius. (Fol. 1—64.)

    2. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, taken down by Jonas Schlichtingius from the Lectures of Crellius ; but not revised by their author beyond Chap. iv. 4. (Fol. 65—-202.) This Commentary and the preceding one were first printed by S. Sternacki, and published in 1636, 8vo., with a Preface by John Stoinski.

    3. Paraphrase on the Epistle to the Romans. (Fol. 203—246.)

    4. Commentary on the first ten Chapters of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, written by Crellius ; and on the fifteenth Chapter, dictated by him. (Fol. 247—371.) The Commentary on 1 Cor. xv. was his last work, and was printed by Paul Sternacki, in 1635, 8vo. Crellius entered upon it, at the repeated and earnest solicitations of his friends, to give them satisfaction on the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. He had begun to revise it a short time before his death.

    5. Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, written down by Jonas Schlichtingius from the Lectures of Crellius. (Fol. 372—450.) This Commentary was first printed at the press of S. Sternacki, Racow, 1628, 8vo.

    6. Paraphrase on the Epistle to the Galatians. (Fol. 451 —471.)

    7. 8. Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians ; and Paraphrase on the same. (Fol. 472—500.)

    9, 10. Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians ; and Paraphrase on the same. (Fol. 501—524.)

    11, 12. Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians ; and Paraphrase on the same. (Fol. 525—543.) These three Commentaries and Paraphrases were written down from the dictation of Crellius.

    13. Commentary on the first and second Epistles to the Thessalonians, (Fol. 544—604,) prepared from the Notes of Peter Morscovius, and first printed by Paul Sternacki at Racow, in 1636, 8vo.

    14. Declaration of the Opinion of John Crellius on the Causes of the Death of Christ. (Fol. 605—615.) This treatise contains a summary of Crellius's answer to Grotius, and was first published at Racow in 1618, 8vo. After the author's death, it was revised by Stoinius and Schlichtingius, and published a second, and a third time, in the years 1635 and 1637. It was translated into Dutch; and mention is also made of a French translation.

    Vol. II.—1. Commentary on the first Epistle of Paul to Timothy. (Fol. 1—40.) This Commentary is imperfect; but the parts which are wanting here are inserted in Vol. III.

    2. Commentary on the Epistle to Titus. (Fol. 41—54.)

    3. Commentary on the Epistle to Philemon. (Fol. 55— 59.) These three Commentaries were taken down from the lectures of Crellius by Peter Morscovius.

    4. Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Fol. 60 —230.) This was the work of Schlichtingius, but he says, in the Preface to the Reader, "in investigating the sense of this Epistle, Crellius was associated with me, and that too in such a way, that I am bound to ascribe the chief merit to him."

    5. Paraphrase on the Epistle to the Hebrews, dictated by Crellius. (Fol. 231—267.)

    6. Commentary on the first and second Chapters of the first Epistle of Peter, written out by Crellius. (Fol. 268— 284.)

    7. Explications of difficult Passages of the New Testament, also written out by him. (Fol. 285—321.)

    8. Answers to certain Questions. (Fol. 321—327.) Vol. III.—

    1. Explanation of various Passages of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; and a great Part of that of John. (Fol. 1—122.)

    2. Commentary on a great Part of the Acts of the Apostles, and numerous Passages of the Epistles of Paul ; with Fragments upon the first Epistle to Timothy, which were omitted in Vol. II. (Fol. 123—264.)

    3. Commentary on the second Epistle to Timothy ; also upon Passages in the Catholic Epistles, and the Book of Revelation; and a Synopsis of Sermons on various Texts. (Fol. 265—416.)

    Vol. IV.—1. Reply to Grotius's "Work on the Satisfaction of Christ," (Fol. 1—231,) first printed at the press of Sternacki, Racow, in 1623, 4to. Subjoined to this Reply, in the Bibl. Fratr. Polon., is Grotius's own work, with two letters addressed by him to Crellius. (Fol. 232—234, 1— 34.)

    2. Two Books concerning the One God, the Father. (Fol. 1—110.) This treatise was first printed at Racow, by Seb. Sternacki, in 1631, 8vo. It was reprinted, with a Refutation, by John Henry Bisterfeld, at Leyden, in 1639, 4to. Wolzogenius translated it into German, in 1645, 4to. A Dutch version of it was printed at Racow, in 1649, 4to.; and an English version appeared in 1665, 4to. The latter professes to have been "printed in Kosmoburg, at the Sign of the Sun-beams." Dr. Toulmin supposes Kosmoburg to mean Amsterdam (Memoirs of F. Socinus, p. 422) ; but he probably had no other reason for this supposition, than the fact, that Cosmopoli frequently appears on the titlepages of works, printed in that city, during the seventeenth century. A correspondent, in the Monthly Repository, (1808, p. 142,) says, that he has "a copy, with the titlepage printed in red letters;" but in other copies the titlepage is in black. A translation of this work of Crellius into Greek was repeatedly determined upon at different Synods, and sums of money were voted to defray the expense of printing it ; but the design appears not to have been carried into execution.

    3. A Book on God and his Attributes. (Fol. 1—16.) This valuable work was originally published, as a kind of introduction to Volkelius's treatise "On true Religion." Racow, Seb. Sternacki, 1630, 4to.

    4. The Elements of Ethics, for the Use of Students, (Fol. 117—148,) first printed at Racow, in 1635, 8vo. This edition is extremely rare.

    5. Christian Ethics, preceded by the Ethics of Aristotle, amended after the Standard of Scripture. (Fol. 149—454.) This work was begun at the desire of a noble and ingenious friend ; but Crellius's various engagements prevented him from revising and completing those notes, which were taken from his lips as he dictated, without any previous composition. In his last illness he expressed a wish that they might be transcribed. A learned friend, at the request of many, procured and collated different copies of the work, to form one that should be as correct as, under all the circumstances, it was capable of being made. Ruarus, Stoinius and Stegmann, by the direction of the Synod in 1635, had the charge of publishing it. The first edition, which was in 4to., was without date, and purports to have been printed "at Selenoburg, at the expense of the Asterii." By Selenoburg is probably meant Amsterdam; and the Asterii appear to have been the brothers Blaeu. The printers were John and Henry Sterns, of Lunenburg ; and Curcellaeus is said to have corrected the press. Another edition made its appearance in 1681, 4to. To this was prefixed a life of the author by Joachim Pistorius, M.D.; and in the same volume was printed a new edition of the Catechism of the Polish Churches, revised, amended, and illustrated with Notes, by John Crellius, Jonas Schlichtingius, Martin Ruarus, and Andrew Wissowatius. It purports to have been printed at Cosmopolis, by Eugenius Philalethes; but was really printed at Amsterdam, by Christopher Pezold.

    6. A Treatise on the Holy Spirit, (Fol. 455—520,) first published at Frankfort in 1640, and afterwards in Holland, 1650, 8vo. But the place of publication is not mentioned in either of these editions. A Dutch translation of it appeared in 1664, 8vo.

    7. A Vindication of Religious Liberty, (Fol. 521—532,) first published under the feigned name of Junius Brutus Polonus, Eleutherop. 1650, 4to., and again, 1681, 4to. A Dutch version of it appeared in 1649; and a French one by Le Cene in 1687, 12mo.

    8. Problems with Solutions. (Fol. 533, 534.)

    9. Extracts from Letters. (Fol. 534—542.)

    10. A Treatise on Piety, (Fol. 542—551,) of which a Dutch translation was printed in 1673, 12mo., which came to a second edition in 1678, 12mo.

    11. A Discourse on Happiness. (Fol. 551, 552.) The above are all the writings of Crellius, which were inserted in the " Bibl. Fratr. Polon." The titles of a few others, of minor importance, might perhaps be gleaned from Sandius and Bock. These consist principally of letters to his friends. He is also said to have assisted in translating the books of the New Testament into German ; and to have written Latin complimentary verses to his friends, John George Fabricius, Frauenburger, Hanlein and others, which shew that he was no contemptible Latin poet.


    (Vidend. Vita Joh. Crellii Franci a Joachim Pistorius, M. D. descripta. Sandii B. A. pp. 115—121. Bock, Hist. Ant. T. I. pp. 116— 138. Toulmin's Mem. of F. Socinus, App. ii. pp. 408—423. Zeltneri Hist. Crypto-Socin. Altorf. pp. 77, 78. 188—198. Smalcii Diarium, A.D. 1612, apud Zeltn. p. 1197. Buari Epist. Cent i. N. 2. 8. 33; Cent. ii. N. 13. T. Crenii Anim. Philol. et Hist. P. v. C. iii. § ix. Moreri, Diet. Hist. Art. Ceellixjs.)


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