• Francken Christian

    Francken Christian


    Francken Christian was a native of Gardeleben, a town of the Old Mark of Brandenburg. Bock calls him "homo omnium partium planus ;" and in these few words we have an exact delineation of his character. He was once a Jesuit at Rome ; but in the year 1580, he avowed himself a Protestant of the Evangelico-Lutheran persuasion, and went to the University of Altorf, where he became a public lecturer. But he was dismissed from Altorf, and in 1583, after much wavering and indecision, joined that section of the Antitrinitarian body, which regarded the Father only as the proper object of religious worship, and of which Francis David was the ostensible head. There exists a copper-plate portrait of Francken, with a brief account of his life, in which he is called Rector of the School of Schmidnik, an evident mistake for Chmielnik ; and is said to have died at Clausenburg, in the year 1590. But Bock informs us, that he left the Antitrinitarians, and died a Roman Catholic at Prague, towards the close of the sixteenth century. Our concern with him, however, is as an Antitrinitarian, which he first professed himself, as was before stated, in 1583. In the year following, he was appointed to the Rectorship of the School at Chmielnik ; and at a Synod, held in that town during the same year, he challenged any of the Ministers present to a discussion of the question, "Whether, since Christ is not God in the highest sense, he ought to be worshiped with religious adoration?" This challenge was thrown out in a very haughty and supercilious manner; and accompanied by an expression of contempt for the erudition and capacity of the Ministers present. That he might, by the number of his arguments, confound and overwhelm any one who should have the temerity to accept his challenge, he framed no less than fifty consecutive reasons, which he had premeditated, against the Invocation of Christ. The boldness of the challenge created some uneasiness, as well as surprise ; and Faust Socin, although his repeated applications for admission to the communion of the Church had till that time been rejected, was urged by the Ministers present to accept the challenge. Francken commenced the disputation in so abrupt and impetuous a manner, that Socin, though he listened with attention, was advised to note down the heads of his adversary's arguments, lest, in the heat of the moment, he should overlook some of them. But trusting to his memory he would not avail himself of the use of his pen; and having patiently heard the whole of Francken's arguments, he proceeded to answer all of them precisely in the order in which they had been put. This he did so fully and satisfactorily, that his opponent was silenced ; and not being able to retort a single word, was under the necessity of pleading, that he had not come to the discussion duly prepared, and, to the surprise of all present, withdrew from the assembly, in a state of the utmost confusion.

    The following list probably comprises the whole of Christian Francken's writings.

    1. An Answer to three Speeches of Warcowicki the Jesuit, in which he urges King Stephen, and the Senators, to persecute the Protestants: under the name of Nicholas Regius.

    2. A short Jesuitical Conference, very useful to the whole Christian World, but more particularly to the Imperial City of Vienna, for rightly apprehending the Religion of the Jesuits, which has not yet been sufficiently understood: held by Paul Florenius, Doctor and Professor of Theology, with Christian Francken, Professor of Philosophy, in the Imperial Gymnasium of the Jesuits at Vienna, January 20th, 1578. Leipzic, 1580, 8vo.; Basle, 1580, 8vo.; 1581, 8vo. Placcius mentions an English version of this Conference by W. C, London, 1580. Another appears to have been published in London, A.D. 1630, which is mentioned in the Catalogue of the Bodleian Library.

    3. A Letter bewailing the Author's Departure from the Society of Jesus and the Church, &c. Wirtzburg, 1583, 4to.

    4. A Disputation with Faust Socin on the religious Worship of Jesus Christ. Francken published his own account of this Disputation: but, as he himself acknowledged to several persons, he rather endeavoured to give a representation of what Socin ought to have said, agreeably to his own sentiments, than a statement of the arguments actually advanced by him in the debate on the Invocation of Christ. This induced Socin to draw up an account of the Disputation, of which a description has already been given under Article 90, pp. 336, 337.

    5. A Letter to the Synod of the Polish Brethren held at Wengrow, 1584. The subject of this Letter was the same as that of the preceding Disputation. It was answered by Andrew Vitrelinus in the name of the Synod, May, 1584 ; but neither the Letter nor the Reply was published.

    6. Some Books against the Trinity, printed at Cracow by Alexius Rodecki, about the year 1585. Gorscius replied to this work, and in his Preface exhorted the King of Poland to defend the Catholic Religion, and severely reproved the Poles for having received Christian Francken, after he had been driven out of France and Germany. This appeal was not made in vain: for Francken immediately became an object of persecution, and his printer was involved in great trouble and expense. The latter was cast into prison, and deprived of his types and his press. (Vide Art. 94.) The former, who fled into Transylvania, was appointed to the office of Reader at Clausenburg, which office he held till 1590.

    7. A Recital of the principal Causes, why Christians, though fickle and fluctuating in many Doctrines of Religion, are yet constant in professing their Belief of that of the Trinity.

    8. The remainder of Francken's writings are as follow. On the War against the Turks ; The Tub of Diogenes ; A Type of the Truth of Consciences ; An Analysis of Christian Strife, etc. Prague, 1595, 4to. On the Idolatry of the Jesuits in the Adoration of Bread and Wine. Basle, 1580, 8vo. A Dispute between a Theologian and a Philosopher on the Uncertainty of the Christian Religion. Clausenb. 1593, 4to.


    (Vidend. Sandii B. A. pp. 86,87. Bock, Hist. Ant T. I. pp. 360— 364. 1090. Buari Epist Cent. i. N. 46. Toulmin's Mem. of F. Socinus, Chap. i. p. 13; Chap. iv. pp. 332, 333.)


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