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Jewish religion which he taught ; neither was it the religion of the Pagan neighbourhood ; but a religion infinitely superior to both. One sees in it the most striking marks of Divinity. The Christians, who followed, were incapable of imagining any thing so beautiful. Add to this, that the Christian religion is so excellently calculated for the good of society, that, if we did not derive so great a present from heaven, the good and safety of men would absolutely demand for them an equivalent.' – Throughout the conversation, M. Le Clerc reproached the Deists strongly, for the hatred which they showed to christianity. He proved, that by banishing it from the world, they would overturn whatever was most holy and respectable among men ; break asunder the surest bonds of humanity; teach men to shake off the yoke of law; deprive them of their strongest incitement to virtue; and bereave them of their best comfort. What, he asked them, do you substitute in its place? Can you flatter yourselves that you will discover something better? You expect, no doubt, that men will erect statues to you, for your exertions to deprive them of their religion. Permit me to tell you, that the part you act, makes you odious and despicable in the eyes of all honest men. He finished the conversation by requesting Mr. Collins to bring him no more such visitors.”
From the close of the 17th century, till the present time, Arminianism has been continually on the increase. It is a just observation of Mr. Gibbon, that “ the disciples of Arminius must not be computed by their separate congregations.”
. CHAPTER X.
The Symbolic Books of the Socinians-Distinction
between them and the Unitarians.
Not long after the commencement of the Reformation, several persons began to deny the Trinity of persons in the Deity, and the divine authority of the Old and New Testament. From these the Modern Unitarians descend directly; the Socinians are more properly a sect which has branched from them, than their descendants. We shall first mention the Socinians, and then show the difference between the Socinian and Unitarian creeds.
Against the Unitarian impugners of the Trinity and the divine authority of the Scriptures, the Roman Catholics and Protestants made a common cause. To avoid their hostilities, the maintainers of such opinions settled themselves in Poland; and insensibly formed distinct congregations. Great contests taking place between them and the Protestant communities of Poland, they were ordered, by a resolution of the Diet of Petrickow, in 1565, to separate themselves into a distinct congregation. This was done; and from the town in which the chief of them resided, they received the name of Pinczovians. In this state they published, in 1574, their first Catechism; Catechismus et Confessio Fidei cætus per Poloniam Congregati, in nomine Jesu Christi Domini nostri crucifixi et resuscitati, MDLXXIV. Typis Alexandri Turobini, 12mo.
This catechism is reckoned among the greatest typographical curiosities. It expresses, unequivocally, that Jesus Christ is subject to the Father, and seems to exclude mystery from its creed. It is ascribed to Gregory Paul, an eminent Lutheran divine of the principal reformed church of Cracow, who, about the year 1556, became a convert to Socinian principles. It is probably the work noticed by Sandius, Biblioth. Anti-Trinitariorum, p. 44.; and by Mosheim (Cent. XVI. § 3. Pars 11. note). He gives an interesting account of its contents, and ascribes it to the celebrated George Schoman.
The advocates of its doctrines established congregations at Cracow, Lubin, Pinczow, Luck and Smila. But their most flourishing settlement was at Racow, a city in the district of Sendomer. Before their settlement at Racow, they composed two versions of the sacred writings, one in 1565, while they lived in communion with the Helvetic churches; the other in 1572, after their separation.
In the mean time, similar opinions had been propagated in Italy, by Lælius Socinus. Being obliged, on this account, to leave it, he travelled into most countries of Europe, and finally settled at Zurich. Ostensibly he adopted the Helvetic Confession, but retained his particular opinions; and, at his death, bequeathed several writings in support of them to Faustus Socinus, his nephew; his inferior in learning, but his superior in genius and energy. The religious opinions of Faustus Socinus becoming generally known, he was obliged to quit Zurich. After much wandering, he settled at Racow. There he was received by the new communion with open arms; and he completed their system of theology. From him they derived their appellation of Socinians. The Polish churches committed to him and Peter Statorius, the task of revising the existing catechism, and printing it, in an improved form. Both died before they had completed the undertaking. It was then delegated to Valentine Smalcius and Jerom Moscorovius. By them it was finished, and published in 1605, in the Polish language. It is the work now known by the title of the Racovian Catechism and is considered to be the Confession of Faith of the Socia
nians. In the year 1609, Moscorovius published a new edition of it; he prefixed to it a Dedication to James the First of England. An edition in the German language, dedicated to the Academy of Wittemberg, followed in 1612. Soon afterwards, John Cornelius, or Knoll, published a Dutch edition, but on account of some deviations from the original, and particularly the omission of the Articles relating to Baptism and the Lord's Supper, it was generally disowned. An English translation of the edition of 1605, was published at Amsterdam in 1652. Doctor Toulmin, in his Life of Socinus, ascribes it, seemingly by conjecture, to Mr. John Biddle.
Some years subsequently, this Catechism received considerable additions, as well as alterations, from the pens of Crellius and Schlichtingius. This enlarged edition was published in 12mo. in 1665, with a Prefatory discourse, on the right of private judgment in religion. A Dutch translation of it was published in 1666. In 1680, Andrew Wissowat republished, the work in 4to., with some notes of his own, and some alterations, chiefly verbal and generally unímportant, of the text.
Another edition appeared in 12mo. in 1684. This contained all the notes given in 1680, with the addition of others by Benedict Wissowat, and an anonymous writer, who signs himself F. C., perhaps Florianus Crusius, a Socinian physician of some eminence. The body of this edition is, unquestionably, a part of the impression of the edition of 1665, the pages corresponding, and the errata being identically the same. The new part consists of the title-page, the notes of the two Wissowats, and F. C., which are printed at the end. Doctor Rees is now engaged on a translation of this edition.
In 1739, the edition of 1609 was reprinted at Frankfort, with copious notes, designed as an answer to its doctrines, by G. L. Oeder, a Lutheran divine : they are said by Mosheim to be successfully executed. He mentions a work, Commentatio de Catechesi Racoviensi, published in 1757, by S. A. Schmidius, and like the rest of that learned author's writings, now become extremely scarce.
The first Catechism of Racow ranks among the greatest ty
pographical rarities : the second is nearly as rare ; all the other editions, which we have mentioned, are scarce. A curious history of Socinianism was published at Paris, with the title, “ Histoire du Socinianisme, divisée en deux parties, ou l'on voit son origine et les progrès que les Sociniens ont fait dans differens Royaumes de la Chretienté, avec les characteres, les avantures, les erreurs, et les livres de ceux qui sont distinguez dans la Secte des Sociniens : à Paris 1723, qto.” The best account of the Socinian Catechisms, which has fallen into the hands of the writer, is in the Bibliotheca Theologica of Walchius, tom. I. cap. iv. $ 5. p. 533.
“ The first principles of Socinianism,” says Mr. Alban Butler, in his concise and learned account of it in his · Moveable Feasts, Fasts, and other annual Observances of the Catholic Church,' (page 620), “ are, that all scriptural doctrines are so to be understood, as to contain nothing above reason; no mystery; and that all the expressions, which seeni to imply such things, are to be looked upon as lofty exaggerated phrases of the Oriental languages: for they pretend, that nothing is to be allowed in Faith or Religion, which our reason does not fully comprehend. Hence it follows, that Articles of Faith vary in proportion to men's capacities. Secondly, the Socinians teach, that Christ was formed by God; that he was an extraordinary man, born of the Virgin Mary ; taken up to Heaven; and imbued with that portion of divine power and knowledge, which is called the Holy Ghost; and sent again on earth, God's ambassador to men, to teach them his will and law. They deny his death to have been a satisfaction for our sins; but say, that those who obey his precepts, which all men can do by the strength of their own nature, will rise again in their own bodies, and enjoy a happy life in that blessed place, in which God possesses his own beatitude: but the wicked shall be condemned to temporary torments, for a certain term ; after which, they will be reduced to a state of annihilation. Some among them condemn all swearing, wars, and magistrates, and all capital punishments. Their form of church government differs little from that of the Calvinists. They baptize only the adults, and that by immer