Crovicius Martin, (Polon. Krowicki,) was a Polish Knight, who presided successively as Pastor over the Churches of Pinczow and Piaski, near Lublin, in the last of which situations he died, in the month of December, 1573. He was originally a Catholic Priest ; but after the Reformation had extended itself to Poland, he officiated as a Minister of the Evangelical Church at Pinczow, and not only joined the Reformed party, but became himself an active and zealous reformer. Even while he remained in communion with the Catholic Church, he preached against the worship of saints and images; and denounced it as an innovation, and a practice unknown to the primitive Church. He also discontinued the use of the Latin language in the public services of religion, and began to say mass in the vernacular tongue, before he passed over to the ranks of the reformers.
In 1555, when an attempt was made to visit him with the severest penalties which it was in the power of the Church to inflict, for having married, he was patronized, and protected from the insidious attacks of Andrew Zebridowski, Bishop of Cracow, by Nicholas Olesnicki, governor of Pinczow. The wily Prelate, when he found his schemes frustrated, and was unable to retain possession of the person of his intended victim, attacked him with his pen; and in reply, Crovicius published a vindication of his opinions in the Polish language, entitled, "A Defence of the true and ancient Christian Doctrine, against the false modern Roman Discipline, which Andrew, Bishop of Cracow, defends by Force instead of Scripture." Pinczow, 4to.
In a letter, addressed to John a Lasco, from Petricow, and dated January 26th, 1559, Crovicius, after alluding to the political events of the day, says, "We preach, and collect Christian audiences, but are forbidden by Trzebochowski, in the King's name, to assemble any longer for public prayer and preaching. This has been done to please the Bishops, who, however, have not been able to accomplish their object: for we preach even to this very day freely and publicly." He adds, "We have not yet resisted unto blood: what will be the issue, Your Excellency shall shortly know."
Crovicius composed some lines in the Polish language, which were replete with the most terrible accusations against the bloody persecutions, carried on against the Protestants in Poland. Count Valerian Krasinski gives a copy of these lines, in his "Sketch of the Reformation in Poland," (Vol. I. Pt. ii. Chap. iii. p. 177,) and subjoins the following literal translation of them. "If the dungeons of Cracow could speak, if the tortures of Lipowiec dared to talk, every body would know how people were starved, beaten, and tormented in a pagan manner. Ye shall have to answer before God for the death of the Priest Michel ; but, although you will burn all his books, you shall never destroy the divine truth, which proves that ye are scribes, pharisees, and condemned people ! "Who the Priest Michel was, or what kind of death he suffered, the author of these lines does not inform us, and his translator professes his inability to discover.
The Apology above mentioned was written about the year 1557, but not published till 1560. Soon after its publication, Crovicius composed "A larger Apology, or Defence of the true Doctrine concerning the most ancient Christian Faith, which the holy Prophets, Christ the Son of God, and his Apostles taught, in Opposition to the false Doctrine and new Faith, which the Roman Pontiff teaches in his Churches." This was written in the Polish language, and appears to have been printed in 1584. A German translation of it, by James Markovitz, appeared in 1602 ; and the original was reprinted at Wilna, in 1604, in 4to. Bock supposes it to have been written in the year 1562, before the author had renounced the Trinity ; because Crovicius professes his belief in the doctrine of the two natures in the person of Christ, and contends that he is of the same essence with the Father, according to his divine nature. At what precise time he joined the Antitrinitarian party is not known.
He is mentioned, along with Alciati, George Schomann, and Socin, by Andrew Dudithius, as one who, both by his writings and teachings against the commonly received doctrines of the Trinity, and the twofold nature of Christ, had contributed to throw great light upon those subjects.
In addition to the works already mentioned, he addressed a letter to Stanislaus Budzinius, from Piaski, in 1573, (the year of his own death,) in which he blamed the Racovians for excluding the Magistrate from the communion of the Church. In this letter, which Budzinius inserted in his manuscript "Commentaries," so often alluded to in this work, Crovicius not only contended that the Magistrate was necessary for the public safety, but allowed the use of arms.
In his last Will, he recorded the transactions in which he had been engaged, and the persecutions which he had undergone. Sandius tells us, (B. A. p. 46,) that the autograph of this curious document was once in the possession of James Milius, Pastor of the Reformed Church at Belzyce, in Poland, by whom Andrew Wissowatius was favoured with the sight and perusal of it.
In the Synodical Acts of the Unitarian Church in Poland, mention is sometimes made of a Martin Polonus. (Bock, Hist. Ant. T. I. P. ii. p. 646.) Might not this have been Martin Crovicius, who was probably a Pole by birth ; and might he not sometimes have been called Martin Polonus, or Martin the Pole, to distinguish him from Martin Cellarius, who was a German, and Rudolph Martin, or Adam Pastoris, who was either a Dutchman, or a Westphalian ? There was a Martin Polonus, an author of the thirteenth century ; and another, who became a student in the university of Konigsberg, at its first establishment, in 1544, during the Rectorship of Sarinus, and whose name is inserted in the academical roll for that year. But whether it was the latter of these, who afterwards joined the Antitrinitarians, cannot with certainty be determined. There is no chronological improbability in the supposition, that Martin Crovicius and Martin Polonus were the same person.
(Vidend. Sandii B. A. pp. 45, 46. Bock, Hist. Ant. T. I. pp. 205— 209. 646. Gabbema, Epistolar. ab Illustr. et Clar. Viris Scriptar. Cent. Tres. Harling. Fris. 1663, Cent. i. N. 59. Krasinshi's Hist. Sketch of the Ref. in Poland, Vol. I . Pt. ii. Chap. i. p. 142; Chap. ii. pp. 176, 177. Bayle, Diet. Hist, et Crit. Art. Polonus.)
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