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than that of Socinians, since they do not acknowledge all the doctrines of Socinus. But, although they claim this designation, it is not generally admitted by others, because they claim it as contrasted with that of Trinitarians. It may indeed distinguish them, except from Sabellians, and from Jews, Mohammedans, and Deists, as allowing only one person in the Divine Essence; yet they can lay no particular claim to the term among Christians, for it confounds them with Arians, and even Trinitarians, who are equally strenuous for the Divine Unity, and acknowledge, as well as they, “ that there is none other God but one.*-As they are zealous advocates for the simple humanity of Christ, or maintain, that our Saviour is merely a human being, some of them have taken the name of Humanitarians ;t and we are told, that in Wales, &c. they are also known by the name of Priestleians, from Dr. Priestley, the modern Coryphæus of the sect.
RISE, PROGRESS, AND HISTORY.It is difficult to trace the origin of this denomination. Many
Unitarians, or, to dis ish ourselves from other classes of Christians who assume that name, proper, or original Unitarians; and we regard ourselves as entitled to this distinction, from prescription, from the reason of the thing, and now from the custom of the language, quem penes arbitrium est, et jus, et norma loquendi.”—Letters upon Arianism, &c. p. 25, 6.
* I Cor. viii. 4.
† This name is adopted by Mr. B. Hobhouse, in his Rea ply to Mr. T. Randolph.
are inclined to think, that the doctrines by which its members are chiefly distinguished, were first maintained by Paul of Samosata, who was bishop of Antioch about the middle of the 3d century, and by Artemon, his contemporary.
They themselves lay claim to a very high antiquity, and even venture to say, “ that there is no such thing as a Trinitarian Christian mentioned, or supposed, in the New Testament; all there named being perfect Unitarians, the blessed Jesus himself, his apostles, and all his followers."*
Their sect may doubtless be traced to a very early period of the Reformation; aud we are told by Mosheim, that they have been thought to have originated among the Anabaptists; a name by which those in Poland, who afterwards received the title of Socinians, were for some time known.t
John Campanus, and Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician whose unhappy fate is well known, who both flourished about the middle of the 16th century, were among the first of the Reformers who distinguished themselves as Anti-Trinitarians, and, according to some, in behalf of those doctrines which were afterwards embraced by L. and F. Socinus; under whom, particularly the nephew, the jarring opinions of their predecessors began to assume the appearance of a regular system.
* Mr. Lindsay's Conversations on Christian Idolatry, 8vo. 1792, p. 29.See also Mr. Belsham's bold assertion above, p. 150. Note.
+ Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Vol. IV. p. 505. 509. early as the year 1524, the Divinity of Christ was openly denied by Lewis Hetzer, one of the wandering and fanatical Anabaptists, who, about three years afterwards, was put to death at Constance."-Ibid. p. 487.
A society near Venice, to which Lælius belonged, whose members discussed many points of religion, and particularly those relating to the Trinity, with great freedom, being discovered, and its members dispersed, they sought a refuge in Switzerland, Germany, Moravia, and other countries; while he escaped into Poland, in 1551, where he sowed the seeds of his doctrine, which grew apace, and produ
, ced a rich and abundant harvest. * His followers became, indeed, so numerous and powerful, that they soon assumed almost the consequence of an establishment, under the protection of Jo. Sienienius, palatine of Podolia, who gave them a settlement in Racow, which he had just built in the district of Sendomir. *
* Such is the account of the origin of Socinianism, that is generally given by the writers of this sect, who date it from the year 1546, and place it in Italy; but Dr. Mosheim, who partly rejects it, remarks, that the Socinians first formed themselves into a distinct congregation, or sect, in Poland, in 1565, when, in consequence of some violent contests between them and the Lutherans and Swiss Calvinists, with whom they had been principally connected, they were required, by a resolution of the diet of Petrikow, to separate from those denominations. The Doctor further remarks, that, till the date of this separation, the founders of the Socinian denomination “ had not carried matters so far as they did afterwards; for they prosessed chiefly the Arian doctrine concerning the divine nature, maintaining, that the Son and the Holy Ghost were two distinct natures, begotten by God the Father, and subordinate to him."Ecclesiastical History, Vol. IV. p. 500.
In this station the Socinians enjoyed peace and prosperity, until towards the middle of the succeeding century, when, (in 1638,) owing to the imprudence of some of their students at Racow, in breaking a crucifix with stones, the terrible law was enacted by the Senate of Poland, by which, to appease the Roman Catholics, it was resolved, “that the academy of Racow should be demolished, its professors banished with ignominy, the printing-house of the Socinians destroyed, and their churches shut.”—Yet these were but the beginning of evils to this society ;-a still more terrible catastrophe awaited them; for, by a public and solemn act of the diet, held at Warsaw, A. D. 1658, they were banished for ever from the territory of Poland, and capital punishment was denounced against all those who should either profess their opinions, or harbour their persons.
In 1661 this cruel act was renewed; and all the Socinians that yet remained in Poland, were bar
* Lælius, after travelling into different countries, where the Reformation was going forward, and revisiting Poland in 1558, settled at Zurich, in Switzerland, and died there A. D. 1562, in the thiriy-seventh year of his age. His religious sentiments were propagated in a more public inanner afterwards by Faustus, his nephew and heir, who is supposed to have drawn from his papers the substance of that religious system upon which this sect is founded.
barously driven out of that country, “some with the loss of their goods, others with the loss of their lives,--as neither sickness, nor any domestic consideration, could suspend the execution of that ri
From Poland their doctrines had made their
way into Hungary; and, about A. D. 1563, into Transylvania, where they were embraced by Sigismund, the reigning prince, and by many of the nobility, chiefly by the address and industry of George Blandrata, the prince's physician; and though they afterwards met with opposition from the Batori, who were chosen dukes of that country, yet they had there acquired so deep a root, that they never could be entirely eradicated.t
Hence, some of those unhappy exiles from Poland sought for a refuge among their brethren in Transylvania, while a considerable part of them were dispersed through the provinces of Silesia, Brandenburg, and Prusssia; and in all these provinces their posterity are to be found at this day. Others went in search of a convenient settlement for themselves and their brethren, into Holland, England, Holstein, and Denmark, but with little
Several other attempts also were made, in different countries, in favour of their peculiar doctrines; but the success of those who engaged in them is said to have been still less 'considerable:
* Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. Vol. V. p. 501.
† Vide Petr. Bod. Historiam Unitariorum in Transylvania. Lugd. 1781.