FOLLOWERS OF SERVETUS AT ZURICH:
LÆLIUS SOCINUS AND OCHINO
DURING THE SAME PERIOD at which the effort for greater freedom of conscience and more liberty in speech in religion of which this chapter has spoken was going on at Geneva and Bern, a similar movement was taking place at Zurich, though attracting less attention because it went on much more privately and quietly. The two most conspicuous figures in it were first Sozini and then Ochino. Laelius Socinus (Lelio Sozini)1 is of particular interest to us in this work because he has been called ‘the patriarch of Socinianism’, the movement whose history we are soon to follow. Laelius was born March 25, 1525 at Siena,2 of one of the most distinguished families in the city. His ancestors for several generations had been celebrated jurists whose fame extended over Europe. His father, Mariano Jr., was called princeps jurisconsultorum, and taught jurisprudence successively in the universities at Siena, Pisa, Padua and Bologna. 3 Laelius passed his childhood at Padua whither his father had now been called, and here he studied at the University, expecting to follow the family tradition of the law. Conceiving that he ought to trace the laws of men to the law of God as their source, 4 he was led to a diligent study of the Scriptures. Thus he soon discovered that many of the commonly received dogmas of the Church were plainly opposed to the teaching of the Bible as well as inconsistent with reason. Consequently he became interested in the efforts for the reform of the Church that were then coming to the front in Italy. At the age of twenty-one, therefore, he abandoned the study of the law and went to Venice, under whose freer government the reform movement was further advanced, and where the writings of Servetus were already known. Tradition connects his name, as we have seen, with the more or less legendary meetings of free reforming spirits at Vicenza in 1546.
Whether for fear of the Inquisition or for other reason, Socinus left the Venetian territory in 1547 and went among the refugee communities in the Grisons. He was for some time at Chiavenna, at the very time when the heated controversy over the sacrament was at its height between Mainardo and Camillo; and though he did not take sides, but kept friendship with both, there are strong indications that his thought and method were much influenced by Camillo. 5 As he was amply supplied with funds from his father, he now improved his opportunity for extensive travel in the lands where the Reformation was taking root, and for forming acquaintance with many of the reformers. He seems first to have gone to Geneva and to have had interviews with Calvin, next to Basel, thence to the court of the Protestant Marguerite of Navarre for some time, and on to England early in 1548. There he will have found Vermigli as Professor at Oxford, and Ochino who had arrived at London with him late in the preceding year. By the end of the year he was back in Switzerland, at Geneva where Calvin received him kindly, and at Zurich where the way had been prepared for him by a letter addressed to the Swiss churches by Nikolaus Maier, ambassador in Italy from the Prince of Wurttemberg, 6 and where, having now surveyed the Protestant world so widely, and become acquainted with so many of its leaders, he settled and found henceforth his second home.
He lodged with Pellikan, Professor of Hebrew, and applied himself with great diligence to Hebrew and Greek that he might understand the Scriptures more perfectly, and he even attempted Arabic. At the same time he contracted warm friendships with the reformers there, above all with Bullinger, who became to him as a father to whom he could confide his doubts and with whom he could discuss his problems. Wherever he went, Socinus inevitably won friends by his courtly manners, his breadth and depth of culture, his frank and attractive character, crowned by irreproachable morals and a deep and sincere piety. At the same time he was a lawyer turned theologian, and in his intellectual approach to the problems of religion he was by temperament a reverent skeptic, always looking for the fundamental reasons of doctrines before he could accept them as his own. Modest and undogmatic in his spirit, he would seldom express his convictions save to his intimate and trusted friends; while to others he was the eager and unwearied inquirer, veiling his doubts under the form of questions. It was not until later that others chose to interpret his habitual reserve as deliberate hypocrisy by which he concealed his heresies while secretly trying to spread them among others. 7 It is quite as likely that it sprang from an instinctive caution about expressing tentative views while still trying to construct a doctrinal system satisfactory to himself.
During the following year (1549), Socinus was in correspondence with Calvin on various doctrinal questions. He inquired about whether one might marry a Catholic woman, whether Catholic baptism of infants were valid, whether one might be present at the Mass, whether one must believe in the literal resurrection of the flesh. 8 Calvin at first answered patiently and fully, but afterwards, when Socinus pressed his questions too insistently, Calvin, busy man that he was, began to suspect idle intellectual curiosity about speculative details of minor importance, and broke off the correspondence in impatience, 9 though their friendship continued. Meanwhile Socinus had spent the summer semester at Basel, where he met many important persons, and pursued his Hebrew studies under Münster with whom he lodged. Having now for the present exhausted the resources in Calvin’s quarter, Socinus was desirous of knowing the other great Protestant leader, Melanchthon at Wittenberg. He therefore left Zurich at midsummer, 1550 and arrived at Wittenberg a month later, bearing flattering introductions from his friends at Zurich, Nurnberg and Basel. He was received cordially by Melanchthon, and lodged with Professor Forster, with whom he continued his studies in Hebrew. In the autumn he regularly matriculated at the University, and he remained there until the next summer,10 making hosts of friends, enjoying intimacy with Melanchthon, 11 and keeping up a constant correspondence with Bullinger and other friends in Switzerland. While here he formed acquaintance with numerous Polish students at Wittenberg, and thus his attention was drawn to that country and the promising outlook for reformation there. His wanderlust therefore next led him in that direction, and after just less than a year he departed via Prague and Breslau for Kráków. He bore with him a general testimonial from Melanchthon to all and several, commending him as his intimate friend, learned, honest, discreet, a lover of public peace, faithful and upright in every respect, and commending him to the hospitality of good men everywhere. 12 The Polish capital had long been a seat of Italian culture, and Socinus found old friends among his countrymen there, especially the Queen’s confessor, Lismanino, who was destined a decade later to be prominent in the early antitrinitarian movement. Socinus’s stay in Poland was comparatively brief, and he returned through Moravia, where there were already Italian Anabaptist refugees, to Zurich where he arrived toward the end of the year.
He found Geneva wrought up over the doctrine of predestination, and Bolsec in prison for opposing it, and he felt called upon to urge Calvin to use milder measures. 13 Concerning his questions about predestination, Calvin in reply admonished him not to waste his time in airy speculations about questions of no importance, and concluded by warning him as a friend that unless he soon cured his itch for questionings, he was likely to bring serious trouble upon himself. 14 Socinus now turned his questions upon Bullinger, asking for a written answer, which Bullinger obligingly gave at some length, 15 adding however his own counsels against indulging his curiosity in season and out. He then turned to Bullinger’s colleague Waither with a series of anxious questions about repentance, and received another extended answer. 16 In the spring of 1552 Socinus undertook a journey after five years’ absence to visit his father who had just been called to a chair at Bologna. On the way he visited Vergerio in the Grisons for several weeks, and they traversed the whole of the Valtellina together. 17 Socinus then continued on his perilous journey alone, 18 having failed to receive in time a warning letter from his father. 19 He dared not pass the winter at Bologna as he had hoped, for fear of the Inquisition, but he spent considerable time at his native Siena. The next autumn he revisited Padua, the home of his youth, where he was for two months the guest of Gribaldi, but lately returned from Geneva. 20 He did not reach Zurich until the very end of the year. 21
During the year after Socinus returned to Zurich the air of all Switzerland was tense over the case of Servetus. The letters exchanged between the reformers during this period constantly recur to it. Socinus had not yet fallen under suspicion of heresy, but though declaring that he did not share Servetus’s opinions, he freely expressed disapproval of his execution. He soon went to Basel for some time, lodged with Castellio, and was on such intimate relations with the liberal circle there that Beza, who by now had come to regard him as a dangerous heretic, charged him with having been in large measure responsible for the work De Haereticis.22 His relations with Calvin, who had also grown suspicious, became strained, though they were never quite broken off. 23 To Bullinger Vergerio wrote from Tubingen, Gallicius from Chur, and Martinengo from Geneva, all complaining of Socinus’s heresies, especially as to the Trinity. 24 Yet Bullinger’s confidence remained unshaken. Socinus carried on an extensive correspondence with the leaders of the Reformation, and continued to prosecute his inquiries about grace, predestination, the sacraments, and above all the Trinity. Besides the letters just mentioned, further suspicion was aroused by a letter from Giulio Milanese, minister at Poschiavo in the Valtellina, to Bullinger, warning him to guard lest Socinus spread Arian or Servetian doctrines. Bullinger reported to Socinus the rumors that were repeatedly coming to him. Socinus felt aggrieved by this backbiting, and denied having said anything that should be construed as heresy, unless perhaps that he had not liked it that Servetus was put to death so soon, and that he would rather have had him set right than burned; but as for the Trinity, etc., he felt and professed the doctrine taught in Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed. Bullinger, after questioning a little further, professed himself satisfied, and asked only that Socinus should put his faith in writing, to make it a matter of record. 25
The confession of faith that Socinus accordingly composed and presented to Bullinger is an exceedingly interesting document. 26 Bullinger, reading it from the standpoint of confidence in Socinus and faith in his essential soundness of belief, accepted it without suspicion as a convincing answer to the charges that had been made against Socinus. But one reading it with close attention to precisely what it says, and also what it avoids saying, discovers that while making generous use of orthodox phraseology it is one of the most remarkable documents on record for the skill with which, while giving the casual reader the impression of its being free of all heresy, it yet leaves the door open to a wide range of heretical views.27 He does not declare his belief in either of the three great creeds, but only says that he honors them as far as he ought. He does not express belief in the Trinity, though allowing that the doctrine has been current for many centuries. He says he avoids the errors of the Catabaptists (Anabaptists), but does not say what those are. Finally he says he accepts all the things necessary for salvation, but does not name one of them. In short, while veiling the subject in vague and equivocal phrases, he studiously refrains from revealing either what he believes or what he disbelieves on any of the disputed points. But the unsuspecting Bullinger was reassured, and he begged Giulio to absolve Socinus from further suspicion. Giulio accepted his judgment, and promised to comply with his wish, though it was with evident misgivings. 28
Henceforth we hear no more of Socinus’s heresies. He heeded the cautions given him, and was reserved in his questionings. When the church of Protestants exiled from Locarno in 1555, for whom he had expressed deep sympathy in their afflictions, 29 settled at Zurich, he found in its members and their minister opportunities for the intimacy he craved. Midway of the next year, however, his father died at Bologna, and his worldly affairs were thrown into confusion. For his father had disinherited him, and the Inquisition had sequestered the fugitive heretic’s share of his father’s estate, and left him without means of support. He therefore determined to return to Italy in order if possible to recover his patrimony. That he might be safe from arrest while doing this, he must go as the representative of a foreign power. He therefore went first to Melanchthon to seek his intervention, and from him received letters commending him to the King of Poland, the King of Bohemia, and the latter’s court preacher. 30 Returning to Switzerland, and supported by Bullinger’s request, he got from Calvin a strong letter to Prince Nicholas Radziwill, after the King the most important person in Poland, and an influential supporter of the reform movement in the Church.31 Bullinger also recommended him heartily to Laski (a Lasco), who was then at the head of the Reformation in Poland. 32 Thus armed with these and other credentials Socinus set out for Poland, where the Reformation had made great progress since his previous visit. He was received with honor in the houses of magnates, was the guest and became the intimate friend of Radziwill, had frequent private conversations with the King and most kind treatment from him, 33 and will undoubtedly have met Biandrata and Alciati and have quietly encouraged the beginnings of the antitrinitarian movement. Returning to Vienna he had conversation with King Maximilian, 34 and thence, bearing the desired commissions from both kings, proceeded to Venice and Florence. The Doge Luigi Priuli at Venice and the Duke Cosimo de’ Medici at Florence failed to accomplish anything for him; and his patrimony remained in the hands of the Inquisition. Worst of all, the Socinus family had fallen under persecution, two of his brothers and his nephew had fled the country, others lay long in prisons, and only the letters he bore saved him from a like fate. His long mission had utterly failed, and he returned to Zurich, whence he wrote Calvin interesting accounts of the progress of the Reformation in Poland. 35 In the autumn he had the opportunity of returning to Italy to live in safety under the protection of Cosimo, 36 but he finally decided not to embrace it. He continued at Zurich to live a life more and more withdrawn within itself. A brother and a nephew shared his exile there, 37 and on May 14, 1562, he died, at the early age of thirty-seven. His nephew Faustus, who a year before had removed from Siena to Lyon, was informed of his uncle’s death by one of Socinus’s Italian friends at Zurich, and came at once and took possession of his books and manuscripts, of which he was to make fruitful use, as will be later seen.
During the last quiet years of Socinus at Zurich, in which he was more and more withdrawn from association with others, he seems to have given himself increasingly to reducing to form the results of his years of reading, inquiry and thought. He was at length beginning to yield to the entreaties of his friends to give them, at least in brief compass, some fruit of his studies,38 when his premature death occurred. Little of what he wrote therefore ever appeared in print, 39 but his manuscripts that fell to his nephew Faustus seem to have given direction to the latter’s thought, 40 and thus to have laid a foundation for the system of Socinian doctrine in Poland, where we shall follow it in the chapters immediately following.
Socinus was too reserved in his communications, and left too little in published form, for us to speak definitely of his doctrines; while the verdict of contemporary opponents was too much colored by theological prejudice, and that of his friends and followers too much warmed by admiration, to be relied upon. But it may at least be said that as he attempted by incessant inquiry to frame for himself a new system of doctrine in place of that which he had discarded, he relied upon the verdict of reason equally with the teaching of Scripture; and in this he brought into prominence an element hitherto largely neglected. When this principle was applied to the restatement of such doctrines as the Trinity, the nature of Christ, redemption, the sacraments and others, the effect was bound to be revolutionary. But he was not fitted by temperament to be a constructive theologian; and with his method of cautious inquiry, and his reluctance to offend the weak, there was lacking that strong and positive conviction which gives vitality to a system of doctrine. This was to be supplied later when the seed-thoughts that Laelius had planted came to fruitage in the fully developed system of his more famous nephew Faustus.
During the latter part of the period just spoken of, there was at Zurich another Italian who had an interesting and influential relation to our movement. This was Bernardino Ochino, whose earlier career in Italy has been related in a previous chapter. 41 In his flight from Italy he crossed the Alps by the usual route of the refugees through the Grisons, coming first to Zürich, 42 and thence passing on to Geneva, where a numerous company of Italians had been gathering since persecutions began to thicken in Italy. He reached Geneva about the twentieth of September. Calvin was well impressed by the venerable old man,43 declared that the better he knew him the more he liked him, and hoped that if he could learn the language he would in time be of great service; while all that knew him thought him a great accession to the cause of the Reformation. His old friends made great efforts to get him back, but he remained stedfast, and burned the bridges behind him by publishing a volume of sermons in which he openly professed his unqualified adherence to the new religion. He was supported by gifts from his noble friend Ascanio Colonna at Ferrara, and in his three years at Geneva he published five volumes of sermons in Italian for circulation among his fellow-countrymen, as his contribution to reform in the land he had had to leave. 44 After a month the Council granted him the chapel of the Cardinal of Ostia (chapel of the Maccabees) adjoining the cathedral of St. Peter, for services in Italian, and voted him a modest stipend and a colleague. 45 The churches in the Venetian territory wrote the ministers of Geneva to express their gratitude for the kindness shown the refugee. 46 Early the next year Paleario wrote Calvin highly recommending Ochino, and Calvin wrote Melanchthon of him as a great and famous man who had stirred Italy not a little by his departure. One of the friars of Ochino’s order tried to rouse Calvin’s suspicion of Ochino as heretical concerning the Trinity and the nature of Christ; but after searching doctrinal conversation his confidence remained unshaken. 47
After two years and a half the Council assigned Ochino a 48 as recognized pastor of the Italian congregation; but at midsummer he left Geneva for Basel, bearing a cordial letter to Myconius, 49 the pastor there. Here he stayed with Castellio, whom he had doubtless known before the latter left Geneva, and who may perhaps have stimulated the course of his thought. Henceforth they were intimate friends, and Castellio translated most of his writings from Italian into Latin. Thence he proceeded by way of Strassburg, where he visited his old friend Verinigli, to Augsburg. There he soon received from the Council an appointment as preacher in St. Anne’s church to the numerous Italian congregation, at a handsome stipend, and remained for between one and two years (1545—1547), very happy in his work, which included the publishing of several volumes of sermons and of commentaries; 50 but here a bare year and a quarter was permitted him. The Emperor won the Schmalkaldic war, and Augsburg was forced to surrender. One of his conditions was that Ochino should be delivered over to him; but timely warning was given, and before the Emperor arrived Ochino had fled late in January to Zurich, Basel and Strassburg. Butzer tried again to secure a post for him at Geneva, but at that time none was available.51
Fortunately for Ochino, he had not many months to wait with his friend Vermigli at Strassburg; for Archbishop Cranmer in England, whose scheme for the Reformation then in progress there included bringing foreign theologians to England, ere long invited Vermigli to a chair at Oxford, and Ochino to accompany him. They arrived at London in December, 1547. Ochino seems to have been Cranmer’s guest at Lambeth palace until his wife arrived four months later, when he took a house in London. He devoted himself more actively than ever to writing, being supported by a pension from the crown and a non-resident prebend at Canterbury; though he was not appointed preacher to the Italian congregation in the Strangers’ Church, as is often said on the basis of a mistaken inference. 52 He enjoyed over five years of busy life here, and published several more volumes of sermons in English, and a polemic of unusual dramatic power against the Papacy, entitled Tragoedie, which he dedicated to the young King. The Princess Elizabeth read his sermons, and sought his counsel in her religious doubts; and when she later ascended the throne he dedicated to her his important work, the Labyrinthi. Edward VI. unexpectedly died in the middle of 1553, and was succeeded by the reactionary Catholic Mary. All foreign Protestants were driven from the country, and for the third time Ochino, now sixty-six years old, was forced into exile. He returned to Strassburg, made visits to Chiavenna and Zurich, and arrived at Geneva the day after Servetus’s death, 53 waiting there long enough to publish a volume of Apologhi, an anecdotal attack on the abuses of the Papacy. But the atmosphere of Geneva, in the tense period following the burning of Servetus, cannot have been congenial to Ochino. He therefore returned to Basel, where he occupied himself with literary work for something more than a year, when an unexpected opportunity offered for him to take an interesting post at Zurich, as pastor of a newly-arrived congregation of Italian exiles, to whom reference has already been made.
There had for some ten years been a Protestant congregation at Locarno on Lago Maggiore, but the opposition on the part of the Catholic government had grown so severe that early in 1555 the members were forced to choose between renouncing their faith and going into exile. 54 They chose the latter, and having been assured of a welcome at Zurich they emigrated in a body, and early in the spring, before the passes were free of deep snow, they crossed the Alps. Some stopped on the way, but about sixty families reached Zurich where they were welcomed and assigned a place of worship in St. Peter’s church. As their pastor did not think himself competent in comparison with the pastors of the Zurich church, he made way for another, and the choice easily fell upon Ochino.55 Socinus was one of those sent to Basel to bear him the invitation. He gladly accepted, and began his new labors in June. His salary was paid by the city, and as the demands of his little congregation were light he continued to publish sermons and controversial writings more industriously than ever. Of these the most noteworthy were a Dialogue on Purgatory, which by its manner of treatment gave offence even to some of the Protestants; Labyrinthi, an acutely reasoned treatise on the freedom of the will, predestination, and related themes;56 and a Catechism in Italian which, being now near the end of life, he meant to bequeath to his flock for their instruction and guidance after he should be taken from them. He was happy in his associations with his young friend Socinus, and with his old friend Vermigli, who had succeeded to Pellikan’s chair at Zurich, and he is said to have led Francesco Lismanino to forsake the Roman Church, who had lately been confessor to the Queen of Poland, and was soon to be active in promoLing the hberal movement among the reforming party in that country. Ochino himself seems to have made a brief visit to Poland in 1559, and to have associated with Biandrata in the growing liberal circle there. 57 Thus far, however, his orthodoxy had been entirely free from suspicion. Bullinger had stood sponsor for his child, and Ochino had written affectionately to Calvin after coming to Zürich. 58 Several of his works had, indeed, been unfavorably criticized in Protestant circles, 59 though not as being seriously heretical; but although the Blandratists in Poland were already boasting of his adherence to their view, the orthodox denied this as a slander. 60 Nevertheless, a certain measure of distrust was more and more felt toward the Italian refugees in general, and some of this will naturally have attached also to him. It was reported that there was a plot of the Pope to send assassins against the Italian religious exiles, and some Spaniards were said to have tried to poison Ochino. 61
Like the Italian reformers in general, Ochino was less disposed than most of the northern reformers to accept the traditional dogmas without criticism, and more inclined to subject them to free inquiry. This tendency had already aroused some misgiving, but now came a book in which he laid himself more than ever open to criticism. In his two volumes of Dialogues, 62 he employed the then popular method of presenting both sides of the questions under discussion, and this so successfully that it was not always clear which side he himself espoused. The first volume treated in the main of Jesus as Messiah, the second of the Trinity, polygamy and other topics. The work was published in the spring of 1563, and for six months or so attracted no marked attention. Beza indeed early heard evil reports of it, and wrote Bullinger that it was said to favor the heresies of Servetus and his followers; but though Bullinger had had no time to read it, he did not in the least believe the charge. 63 It was not until November that the storm suddenly burst. At the public table of an inn at Basel at the time of the fair, 64 it was stated that a book had been printed at Basel, by a Zurich minister, which justified polygamy and thus put Zurich to open shame. Some Zürichers present resented the statement and challenged it. Proof was soon forthcoming. The matter was at once reported to the Council at Zurich, and an investigation was ordered. A copy of the Dialogues was obtained and examined by the ministers and professors, and report was made to the Council that in the dialogue on polygamy Ochino had indeed attacked the practice, but with obviously weak arguments; and had put far stronger ones into the mouth of the defence, at the end practically confessing defeat. The book had been published without passing the censors, 65 despite the fact that Ochino had two years before been ad monished for not regarding the ordinance in this respect. Public and private remonstrances had been received, and the good name of the Zurich church was suffering reproach. Polygamy had in fact been a sore subject with Protestants, and the object of heavy reproaches by Catholics, ever since Philip of Hesse had in 1539 contracted a polygamous marriage and been defended in it by Luther himself.
The Council acted without hesitation or delay. The very suspicion of heresy or of questionable morals was feared, like the plague, no less by churches and communities than by individuals. Without even granting Ochino a hearing they removed him from office and banished him from their territory.66 They also wrote to Basel, urging that further sale of the Dialogues be stopped, though it was too late, as the last copy had been sold. The sentence was based on two grounds: that the book had been published without legal permission, and that its teaching as to polygamy was scandalous. There was no reference to theological heresy. The Council must have had misgivings for having taken such hasty action, for they now went through the empty form of giving Ochino a hearing, in which he declared that his book had been duly passed by the censor at Basel, and defended its teachings as sound. They only confirmed their sentence; but to make their case the stronger they now directed the ministers to examine all the dialogues in search of offensive matter. It was not until now that the taint of theological heresy was discovered, for thus far the complaint had been solely on civil and moral grounds. Now they discovered errors as to justification, the atonement, baptism, and above all the Trinity. He begged that, as it was now winter, he and his four small children67 might be allowed to stay the winter out. The Council were inexorable, and granted him a respite of only two, or at the most three, weeks. 68 Bullinger refused his request for a letter of recommendation. 69 In severe weather at the beginning of December the old pilgrim of seventy-six set forth with his young children on his fourth exile, again not knowing whither he went. Fearing he might venture the attempt to cross the Alps in winter with his children, Bullinger at once wrote to Chur to prevent his doing so. 70 But Ochino turned rather toward Basel. 71 The ministers there were willing to intercede for him, 72 if he would give a written explanation of what he had written; but the Council had been beset by bitter letters of reproach from Strassburg, felt that he had disgraced their city, and would not listen to him. 73 Leaving his children here he sought Mühlhausen, only to be repulsed, but finally found shelter at Nürnberg, where he lay hidden until spring. 74
While at Nurnberg Ochino wrote his final work, a dialogue entitled La Prudenza Humana e Ochino, in which he defended himself against the charges on which he had been banished from Zürich. 75 The writing begins in a lofty tone, but it later falls into bitter invective and unfair charges against the Council and the ministers, especially Bullinger. The final impression left is unfavorable. This apology was intended for circulation among the Italians in the Grisons, but a copy soon found its way into Bullinger’s hands, 76 who had it translated into Latin. The ministers at Zurich at once prepared a reply, answering Ochino’s charges and justifying the action taken against him. 77 The answer was temperate in manner, and placed the action of Zurich in strong light, even if it did not justify the passionate haste in which it was taken. Bullinger and Beza were more than ever convinced that justice had been done. After examining the Dialogues, the former wrote to Beza that the whole book was nothing but wicked perverseness; while Beza wondered that so much was made of the dialogue on polygamy, when there was scarcely a page in the book that did not swarm with foul errors. 78 But Andreas Dudith, who after having been councilor to three Emperors, and bishop of three successive sees, had gone over to the Reformation as perhaps its most distinguished convert, criticized the severity of Ochino’s punishment as not at all Christian, and a serious blot on the character of the reformed religion. 79 At the very time of Ochino’s banishment the implacable Beza was pressing charges against Castellio before the Basel Council, as being a Libertine, Pelagian, defender of all vicious, heretical, adulterous, thievish men, a Papist and blasphemer, a skeptic and Anabaptist, adding to all the rest that he had translated the Dialogues for Ochino from the original Italian into Latin. The last charge he frankly admitted, as translating was one of his means of livelihood, though he had not passed judgment on the work. 80 Before the case was determined, at the very end of the year, death rescued Castellio from the hand of his accusers.
Early in the spring Ochino went to Frankfurt to get his children, and set out with them for Poland. At Lismanino’s request81 he had dedicated the second volume of his Dialogues to Prince Nicholas Radziwill, 82 and doubtless hoped for a friendly reception. Of course he would find friends among the liberal Italians already there. But the Catholics had been keeping track of Ochino, and while he was still at Nurnberg Cardinal Borromeo wrote from Rome to Cardinal Commendone, the papal nuncio in Poland, that Ochino was proposing to seek refuge there, and urged in the Pope’s name that the King be informed and measures be taken to prevent his spreading his heresies. 83 Commendone took the matter in hand, and Cardinal Hosius addressed to the Diet a letter on the subject, 84 so that at the Diet at Parczow in August the King was induced to issue an edict banishing from the kingdom within four months all foreign Protestant refugees who were in any way venturing to spread their doctrines. 85 Ochino had mean while for some time been preaching in the capital to the Italians residing at Kráków, and a nobleman had given him a small estate at Alexandrowice, near Krakow. 86 Several of the nobles sought permission from the King for him to stay in the country, and offered him hospitality and protection on their estates, but in vain. To all their entreaties he himself replied that he must and would obey the magistrate, even if he must die on the road or be devoured by wolves in the forest. 87 Before he could leave, he was smitten by the plague, which carried off two sons and a daughter. He was faithfully cared for by his noble host Filipowski at Pinczow, and when recovered, toward Christmas, he made his way with his daughter to Moravia, where he found refuge with Nicola Paruta 88 in the Anabaptist colony at Slavkov (Austerlitz), where after three weeks he too died. His daughter Aurelia survived him, married Lorenzo Venturini, an Italian of Lucca, and died a widow at Geneva in 1624. 89 His refugee church at Zurich did not long survive his departure from it. The members petitioned for another preacher, but enthusiasm over Italian Protestants had somewhat cooled, and their request was denied, on the ground that by now most of them knew German well enough to join in the worship of the other city churches. 90
It is difficult to say with any approach to definiteness what Ochino’s doctrinal system was. 91 His heresies were slow in developing, and were cautiously expressed. Like most of the liberal spirits of his generation he employed conventional terminology which appeared to be orthodox, but was susceptible of considerable latitude of meaning, unless one carefully observed what he omitted to say. But in the Catechism published near the end of his life he used language to which any Socinian could subscribe. The early Antitrinitarians of his age laid claim to him; 92 and Giorgio Negri is said to have brought to Italy the report that Ochino had openly declared himself a Servetian and Anabaptist. 93 His two dialogues on the Trinity, though they ostensibly defend the doctrine as both true and necessary for salvation, furnish a complete arsenal of arguments against it drawn from both Scripture and reason, which were later adopted by the Socinians with little change or addition. His influence on the doctrinal development of our movement was therefore marked; and it was felt a full century later, even in England. 94 Apart from particular doctrines, however, as to which some doubt might be felt, in his general temper of mind, his readiness to conduct free inquiry into religious questions, and his tolerance of competing views, Ochino was perhaps better entitled than any other that we have mentioned, to be regarded as a pioneer of the movement whose history we are following.
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