• Czechovicius Martin

    Czechovicius Martin


    C zechovicius Martin, (Polon. Czechowicz,) was a Pole or a Lithuanian, and author of a schism in the Socinian Church, occasioned by his vehement opposition to Infant Baptism. The first mention which we find of him is on the 16th of September, 1561, as the bearer of a letter from Calvin to the Synod of Cracow, warning the members of the Reformed Church to beware of Blandrata. At this time he was Chaplain to the Prince Radzivil, Palatine of Wilna ; but he afterwards officiated publicly, in his ministerial capacity, at Cujavia, and at Lublin. While at the latter place, he was deposed by the Synod, March 8th, 1598, for exciting disputes on the subjects of Arianism and Baptism. He is represented, in the Synodical Acts, as seeking to be exempted from the duties of the ministerial office, on account of his want of strength to discharge them in an efficient manner: but it has been supposed, that he made this request, in anticipation of the Synod's sentence of deposition. Christopher Lubieniecius, who had previously been Minister at Levartow, was appointed his successor, with Valentine Smalcius as a coadjutor.

    Czechovicius was at first a believer in the pre existence of Christ ; but about the year 1570, he abandoned that doctrine, with Niemojevius and several others, and embraced the opinion of the Pinczovians. The following account of his opinions is given by Count Krasinski, in his "Sketch of the Reformation in Poland."—" He maintained that it was not God who was made man, but that man was made God, and that Jesus Christ did not exist before he was born of the Virgin ; that he was a man similar to the rest of mankind, except that he was without sin ; that he was conceived like other men, but was called the 'Son of God' because he was prepared by God through the Holy Ghost in the womb of his mother ; and that he was made Lord of all things, that he might save and give eternal life to such as he pleased. Jesus Christ was therefore to be worshiped. Czechowicz attacked those who refused to adore Jesus Christ, and designated them by the appellation of half-Jews, 'semi-Judaizantes,' a term which has since been generally adopted. He admitted miracles and the evidence of the prophets who predicted the advent of our Saviour, as also that justification was only to be obtained by faith, and that works had but a subordinate merit. His opinions respecting worldly authorities were moderate, and he only recommended the refusal of obedience to them when they commanded actions contrary to the word of God. He recommended a patient endurance of injuries, and abstinence from seeking redress, either personally or by recurring to the authorities, and maintained that a Christian should neither accept worldly offices nor make use of arms." Ruarus, in a letter addressed to Abraham Calovius from Dantzic, in the year 1638, says, "Martin Czechovicius thought with us," (that is, with the Socinians,) " concerning God and Christ ; with the Mennonites on the subject of Baptism ; and on other subjects, if I mistake not, with the school of Calvin." He wrote much, and laboured in various ways to found a school of his own, but did not succeed in establishing a complete religious system.

    Sandius was in error, in supposing that he died at Lublin, in 1608 ; and the error has been repeated by Lauterbach. We learn from Smalcius's Diary, that the death of Czechovicius took place in the month of November, 1613 ; and the statement is accompanied by a memorandum to the effect, that his followers had greatly diminished in numbers before that time. Wben near his end, he exhorted those, who still clung to him, to remain steadfast to the Minor Church, by which Lubieniecius supposes him to mean the Unitarian, as opposed to the Calvinistic, from which they had originally separated. But Bock thinks, that he meant his own section of the Unitarian Church, as opposed to that of Socin, from which it principally differed on the subjects of Baptism and Justification. On this point, however, Bock was unquestionably mistaken ; for the Minor Church, among writers on ecclesiastical affairs connected with Poland and Lithuania, always means the Unitarian, as opposed to the Calvinistic, or to that branch of the Reformed Church, which received the Helvetic Confession, and which, on account of its superior numbers, was called the Greater Church.

    The following is a list of Czechovicius's writings.

    1. On the Origin of the Errors of the Paedobaptists, &c. Printed by Theophilus Adamides (a feigned name for Alexius Rodecki) ; 4to. pp. 201. This work has no date, or place of publication, or author's name ; but the Dedicatory Epistle to John Kiszka was written at Lublin, April 7th, 1575. The number of presumed errors which the author points out is fourteen. In an Appendix, he endeavours to shew, how grievous an error it is, to contend that Baptism is useless and unnecessary for those, who have already believed, or who were born of Christian parents ; and strives to refute those, who deem an observance of the Lord's Supper unimportant, as well as those, who say, that to persons who partake of it, there is no need of external Water Baptism.

    2. A Translation of the New Testament into the Polish Language, with Various Readings in the Margin. Alex. Rodecki [Racow]. 1577.

    3. Explanation of the First Chapter of John. Polon.

    4. Objections to Faustus Socinus's Explanation of the Beginning of John's Gospel.

    5. Christian Conversations, or Dialogues. Alex. Rodecki. 1575, 4to. These Dialogues relate to what their author deems the primary articles of the Christian faith; and were intended, by him, to serve as a kind of larger Catechism. It was in reply to them, that the Canon Powodowski published his work, entitled "Wenzidlo," or "The Curb." Both were in Polish ; and John Niemojevius undertook a defence of Czechovicius in the same language.

    6. Decision against Paul Gilowski's Explanation of the Catechism. Alexander Turobinczyk (that is, Alexius Rodecki). 1581, 4to. This also is in Polish. It is preceded by a Dedication, from the pen of Stanislaus Taszycki, addressed to Stanislaus Szafraniec, Castellan of Sandomir, and dated Lislawice, January 20th, 1581. The charges which the author brings against Gilowski are, that he accuses others of that of which he is himself guilty ; that he labours to establish that of which he confesses himself ignorant ; that he does not understand the Hebrew names of God ; that he unreasonably charges the newly-baptized with error respecting God ; that he is inconsistent with himself ; and that he quotes Scripture falsely and imperfectly. Against these charges Gilowski defended himself in a work, the third edition of which was printed in 1605.

    7. Reply to a Piece of Stanislaus Farnovius, in which that writer endeavours to set aside the Pacification of Luclavice. 1581, 4to. Polon. This little work is ushered in by a Preface from the pen of Florian Morstinius ; and was intended to serve as an Appendix to No. 6. Its author proposes to weaken the arguments of Farnovius in favour of the existence of Christ before his conception of Mary. On John i. 14, he remarks, that it is an old papal figment, that God became man ; because if he had been truly God before, but afterwards became truly man or flesh, he would have ceased to be what he was before.

    8. A Conference of three Days on certain Articles of Faith, but especially on Infant Baptism ; written at Nieswiez, and dedicated to Prince Nicholas Radzivil, January 6th, 1565. Rabbi Isaac Ben Abraham quotes this "Conference" in " Chissuk Emuna."

    9. On Pedobaptism, a brief Narrative concerning the Origin of the Dispute, and the Attempt to gloss over the first Sacrament, that is the Sacrament of Baptism, in the Grand Dukedom of Lithuania, and afterwards in Poland. [1565.]

    10. A Vindication of his Dialogues against James, the Jew, of Belzyce. 1581. Polon.

    11. A small Mirror for Christian Women, in which they may see themselves, as regards the Discharge of their Christian Duties. 1582, 4to. Theoph. Adamowitz. Polon. The name of the author does not appear in the title-page, but is disclosed in the Dedication, which is addressed to two young women of noble family. Sandius has not noticed this work, which is divided into three parts. The first relates to the Word of God, its preeminence, certainty and perfection; the second, to the One God, and his only Son, the man Christ Jesus; and the third, to the duties of Christians towards God, and Christ, and their fellow-men. On the work of Redemption considered in itself, of which the author treats in the third part, he writes like one of the orthodox, so that Daniel Clementinus appeals to Czechovicius on this subject, against the rest of the Socinians.

    12. The Disputation of John Niemojevius and Martin Czechovicius, held at Lublin, in the Church of the Jesuits, with the Priests, Warszycius and Jodocus, &c, in the year 1581. Polon. MS.

    13. Explanation of the seventh Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, which Czechovicius proposed first to the Brethren at Dantzic, and afterwards to the Synod assembled at Wengrow in 1584.

    14. A Letter, written in the Name of the whole Synod of Chmielnik, September 13th, 1586, to the Magistrate of Goslar, in the Cause of Ostorod, and signed by Czechovicius, Rebnicius, Paul ab Orgente, John Laurentius, and others.

    15. Illustration of the Lublin Articles, which P. Radziminski exhibited about the year 1592. Polon. In this treatise, as Dan. Clementinus informs us, Czechovicius says, that "Christ did not receive his power, and supreme dominion, till he had accomplished the will of God, and was raised from the dead, and placed at God's right hand;" and that "the glory of Christ was in the Father's keeping, but that he received it at the appointed time."

    (Vidend. Sandu B. A. pp. 50—52. Bock, Hist. Ant. T. I. pp. 217— 237. Ruari Epistolse, Cent. i. N. 46. Smalcii Diarium, apud Zeltneri Hist. Crypto-Socinismi Altorf., pp. 1169.1200. De Typographiis Unitariorum in Polon. et Lithuan., apud Sandii B. A. p. 201. Stoinii Epitome, p. 185. Krasinshi's Hist. Sketch of the Ref. in Poland, Vol. H. Ch. xiv. pp. 360—362.)


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