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Enfan's Histoire de la Guerre des Hussites et du Concile de Basle. T. 2, p. 119, 132. A confession of the Bohemians is inserted in the
Harmony of the Confessions of the Faith of the Christian and Reformed Churches, published at Cambridge in 1580."
The taborites, however, after their retirement from the war, persisted, but with greater moderation, in their projects of reform: and in 1522, having heard of Luther's reformation, sent a considerable number of deputies to him, to solicit his friendship and good offices. On many subsequent occasions, they shewed an attachment to the Saxon churches.
Previously to their signing the Confession of Faith which has been mentioned, they had signed one in 1532, in the Bohemian language. This is extremely rare: it was afterwards translated into Latin, with the title, Confessio Fidei ac Religionis Baronum ac Nobilium regni Bohemiæ, Serenissimo ac invictissimo Romanorum, Bohemiæ, &c. regi; Vienna, Austria, sub anno domini 1535, oblata. It is to be found in the Corpus et Syntagma Confessionum Fidei, Pars II. Luther prefixed to it a preface, not approving it entirely, but approving the greatest part of it; and considering that the rest might be tolerated. Two editions of it were published by them, one in German, in 1572, the other in Latin, in 1612.
After the death of Luther, most of the Bohemians veered to calvinism. They then became dissatisfied with their former creed; and, it is said, destroyed all the copies of their confession, which fell into their hands.
The disputes increasing, and Poland and Switzerland being equally disturbed by them, a congress was held, of the Bohemian brethren, the Lutherans, and the Switzers, in 1570, at Sendomir. There they agreed on a formulary, generally called the Consent of Faith at Sendomir. This document, and a curious account of the congress, at which it was framed, was published by Jablonski, at Berlin, in 1731, with the title, Historia Consensus Sendomirensis.
But the agreement was of short duration; and almost immediately after it was signed, the majority of the Bohemians entered into communion with the Helvetic churches. In the year 1620, a general union of all the Bohemian churches was effected at Astrog, under the name of the Church of the United Brethren. By the terms of this agreement, the external form of the church was nearly lutheran, the articles of faith, nearly calvinistic.
THE ARTICULI VISITATORII OF THE ELECTORATE OF SAXONY.
THE articles, which are the subject of this chapter might, with propriety, have immediately followed the account which has been given of the symbolic books of the lutheran churches; but, as these articles were formed in consequence of the feuds between the lutheran and reformed churches, and were designed to serve as a test for the discovery of concealed calvinists, the writer thought the object and import of them would be better understood if they were preceded by an account of the symbolic books both of the lutheran and of the reformed churches.
The strong terms, in which Luther reprobated the sacramentarians, have been mentioned. Several, however, of his most distinguished disciples were, even in his life-time, favourably disposed towards them. After his decease, they made no secret of those sentiments. Melancthon was at their head; and his intimacy with Calvin, the chief of the sacramentarians, frequently led them to amicable discussions on the points in dispute. Melancthon died before any progress in the attempt at conciliation was made, but his spirit of moderation descended to his disciples.
The principal point in difference between the parties, turned on the doctrine of the real presence, in the eucharistic sacrifice. In 1570,
Peucer, the son-in-law of Melancthon, endeavoured to introduce the doctrine of Calvin on this article, into the Saxon churches. At first, his endeavours seemed to be attended with success; but, having published a catechism, in which the doctrine of Calvin on the eucharist was plainly insinuated, the Saxon divines took the alarm. Augustus, the elector of Saxony, assembled them at Dresden, propounded to them a formulary of doctrine on the real presence, and ordered them to sign it. On the refusal of Peucer and his adherents, the elector, in 1574, held the famous convocation at Torgau, and committed Peucer and several of his adherents to prison. Peucer was treated with particular severity, and was not released till 1585.
Still, the favourers of the doctrine of Calvin persisted in their opinions. They did not dare to make an open profession of them; but were known to retain them, and, from their secret attachment to them, obtained the appellation of crypto-calvinists, or secret abettors of calvinism. Augustus was succeeded by Christian the first. Under him, the crypto-calvinists emerged from their obscurity, and openly propagated their doctrines. In 1591, they distributed a new calvinistic catechism, and a translation of the Bible into the German language, accommodated to calvinistic principles.
By degrees, the crypto-calvinists were openly tolerated; and at length so much countenanced by Christian, as to threaten the lutheran ascendancy; but his death, in 1591, put an end to their hopes. Christian the second, a minor, succeeded him; Frederic William, duke of Saxe-Altembergh, was his guardian, and the regent of the electorate, during his minority. Being warmly attached to Luther, he committed many of the crypto-calvinists to prison, and, in 1681, Crellius, their principal encourager and patron, was, by his orders, put to death. A general persecution of the crypto-calvinists ensued, and articles, generally called articuli visitatorii, were formed, and tendered for the signature of all, who were suspected of calvinism, as a test to discover their principles. They are not numbered among the symbolic books of the lutherans, but are singularly regarded by them. As the persons, by whom they were framed, were much esteemed, and as they professed to state in them, with brevity and precision, the principal points in difference between the lutherans and calvinists, a literal translation of them is inserted in the Appendix*. It is made from the edition of them at the end of Dr. Semler's Apparatus ad Libros Symbolicos Ecclesiæ Lutheranæ,
Appendix, Note II.