Samuel Przypkowski




From ON PEACE AND CONCORD IN THE CHURCH, etc., 1628 by Przipcovius

"   .   the things necessary to be known unto Salvation are few and very simple, and easie to be understood by the simplest.  "

( DISSERTATION DE PACE : translated by John Bidle, 1653.  )
Oxford 1951, p. 91


From SOCINIANISM IN POLAND, 1957 by Stanislas Kot

The sectarian views of Brenius must have spread devastation among the thoughtful if, independently of Szlichtyng, the most highly talented writer of the Polish Brethren, Samuel Przypkowski, undertook to confute them. His Animadversiones in Libellum cui titulus De qualitate Regni Domini nostri Jesu Christi, ubi inquiritur, an Christiano sive Regni eius subdito terrenae dominationes conveniant1 (written probably in 1650) in the arrangement of its chapters and contents follows step by step the work of Brenius.   (Etc.)

      1 Pp. 619-81 in the collection of Przypkowski's works entitled Cogitationes sacrae . . . nec non tractatus varii momenti, praecipus De jure Christissimi magistratus (Eleutheropoli-Amsterdam : 1692).

(page 183)


There cannot exist in the same society two State organs, independent of each other, if one does not have jurisdiction above the other ; for both possess authority of the same sort, that is, coercive, and from their rivalry war must result. But kingdoms so different in kind as a spiritual one without compulsion and a secular one with coercive authority may exist in the same nation without conflict of jurisdiction ; if both authorities, so separate, remain within their own limits, each may exercise its functions without hindrance. The spiritual authority with gentle bridle guides the thoughts, the consciences, and the inner man toward the most perfect kind of virtues. But authority endowed with compulsion with harsh bridle leads the outer man not to virtue, which it is impossible to compel, but to refrain from offenses and to observe the political order. Another object, a different method of direction, ensures that neither authority can get in the other's way. On the other hand, it is not at all necessary that they should have no points of contact or that one should not in a measure be dependent upon the other. It is true that because the spiritual authority, even if only in consequence of the nature of its object, is more noble, it is fitting that the political should serve it, just as in a man the outward acts and powers of locomotion should be subject to the orders of the spirit and the reason. The political authority does not, however, have to be subject to the spiritual in that which would destroy it, that is, in the application of compulsion to outward acts, nor in that which would undermine the spiritual authority itself, whose essence it is to direct the inviolable freedom of minds. But political authority can be of service in this, that restraining coarser offenses by a coarser bridle, it makes it easier for men to avoid those which are less flagrant; further, by securing to each his rights, it safeguards the precious goods of the human spirit, peace and liberty, especially of conscience, and the defense of the noble against the oppression and injury of evil men, finally, by the fact that, in secular legislation, it admits of nothing opposed to spiritual laws, (etc). On the other hand, it is inconsistent with the nature of spiritual jurisdiction that the secular authority should command anything (etc) ; in this respect religion not only does not ask help from the State, but defends itself against it by every means, as against the interference of an outsider in another's sphere.   (Etc.) 3

      3 P. 634 [Animadversiones, etc. by Przpicovius}.

(pages 186-87)

Translated by Earl Morse Wilbur
Beacon Hill     Boston : Starr King Press 1957.



The earlier of the two tracts [translated by Bidle in 1653], the Dissertatio de pace et concordia ecclesiae, was the work of Samuel Przipcovius (1592?-1670), a Polish knight, one-time counsellor to Prince Radziwill of Königsberg, and Socinian theologian whose works were collected and published in 1692 to form a ninth volume of the famous Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum. The work is attributed to him by Christopher Sand in his Bibliotheca anti-trinitariorum (p. 123), and is included in the B.F.P. (folios 369-86). Decisive, however, is the testimony of Martin Ruarus, in a letter to Hugo Grotius on 12 December 1631, where he says 'Dissertationem de pace et concordia Ecclesiae nescio an videris: auctor eius vir elegantissimi ingenii, qui nonc Radzivilio principi a consiliis est, nominis tui perquam est studiosus.'1

The Dissertatio was originally published under the name of Irenaeus Philalethes, at Eleutheropolis (i.e. Amsterdam), by 'Godfridus Philadelphus' in 1628 (12o). A second edition, emended and enlarged by the author, was printed in 1630,2 which John Bidle translated and published in 1653. (The work appears also to have been printed in German, though Sand does not give the date). 'There is no doubt', says Wallace,3 'that Przypcovius was the author of the original.' In Holland it was attributed to Simon Episcopius. Dealing with this tract in his Development of Religious Toleration in England, W. K. Jordan states that 'it was to exert an important influence on English religious thought and . . . made a substantial contribution to the theory of toleration'.4 He also says that 'it was condemned by Parliament in 1654', though he is probably confusing it with Bidle's The Apostolical and True Opinion concerning the Holy Trinity (condemned in December 1654). He adds: 'The book served to introduce a restrained Socinian point of view into England and may be regarded as having laid the foundations for the rapid development of Socinian thought during the Interregnum.'

1   M. Ruar, Epistolarum selectarum centuria (1677), p. 162. In a list of pseudepigraphs contained in a seventeenth-century manuscript commonplace book (Bodley MS. CCC E. 208) the Dissertatio is similarly attributed to Przipcovius.

2   T. Lyon, The Theory of Religious Liberty in England, 1603-39 (1937), p. 160, makes the mistake of saying the two tracts were published in England. The Bodleian contains both editions, and a reprint of the second, also dated 1630. The copy of the 1628 edition bears the words 'Jo. Hales' in manuscript on the title-age. The reprint of the 1630 edition (with slightly different title-page) was the property of Thomas Barlow.

3   Antitrinitarian Biography, iii. 25.

4   W. K. Jordan, The Development of Religious Toleration in England, ii. 431.

5   Ibid. 403.

Little evidence for the latter assertion is forthcoming, and in view of the currency of other Socinian works of a much more solid nature, it would be unwise to lay so much stress on this single and rather slight piece.

Bidle's translation of it in 1753, however, made it available to a much wider circle of readers. In this form,1 with its introduction ('The Publisher to the Reader') and 'Post script', both anonymous, but from Bidle's pen, it helped to encourage the growth of a broad religious tolerance and simplicity of belief. Bidle comments on the irenical intention of the author, whose hope it is 'to abate the hatred of certain zealots against the Socinians' on the principle that if 'harsh judgements' are once mitigated concerning 'the most odious Opinion of all', religious persecution in general would by degrees disappear. The work is 'not Heretical but Peaceable'.

At the outset, the author makes it plain that he considers metaphysical speculation about the Deity unnecessary to salvation. 'A Christian may arrive at the promised goal of happiness although he be ignorant of those things or . . . in an error or mistake about them.'2 Intellectual differences are no barrier to spiritual unity. Faith is 'obedience to God under a certain hope and confidence of his promises' (i.e. the view of faith set forth by the writer to the Hebrews rather than that of St. Paul) and 'bare errors of the minde are not disobedience.'.3 What makes a man a Christian is the measure and sincerity of his love towards God and Christ, not any confession of faith. This is the plea of one who places life before creed and would reduce the essentials of religion to a minimum. In his sixth chapter, he argues in favour of the proposition 'That the things necessary to be known unto Salvation are few and very simple, and easie to be understood by the simplest.  [etc]'   (etc: pp. 90-91)

* * *

In the following year (1653) Richard Moone, who, we have reason to think, published the English version of the Racovian Catechism, issued three more translation of Socinian tracts. The first was probably the Life of Socinus, a translation of Przipcovius's Fausti Socinin Senensis vita which Bidle had intended to accompany the Latin edition of the Racovian Catechism of the previous year.6 Here again Bidle left no stone unturned in his effort to present the Socinian case to the English public : the Latin reprint of 1651 was followed by the English translation of 1653.

The first four pages of the tract consist of an address 'To the Reader' over the signature 'J. B.' The aim of the work, says Bidle, is to dissolve prejudice against 'the man, whom Ministers and others traduce by custome, having (for the most part) never heard anything of his conversation, nor seen any of his works, or if they have, they were either unable or unwilling to make a thorow scrutiny into them, and so no marvel if they speak evil of him'.   [Life of Socinus, p. i.]

6   The Life of That Incomparable Man, Faustus Socinus Senensis, Described by a Polonian Knight, Whereunto is added An Excellent Discourse, which the same Author would have had premissed to the Works of Socinus ; Together with a Catalogue of those Works. London. Printed for Richard Moone, at the seven Stars in Pauls Churchyard, neer the great North-doore, 1653. 12o, pp. [iv] 61 [vi]. Thomason obtained his copy on 29 June. The original Latin edition by Samuel Przipcovius was published in Holland in 1636.   (pp. 193-4)

Oxford 1951.


Bibliographic ( University of California )

Author Przypkowski, Samuel, 1592-1670.
Title The life of that incomparable man, Faustus Socinus Senensis : described by a Polonian Knight : Whereunto is added An excellent discourse, which the same author would have premised to the Works of Socinus : together with a catalogue of those works.
Publisher London : Printed for Richard Moone, 1653.
Description [8], 35, [3], 38-61, [7] p. ; 15 cm. (8vo) Note Wing P4136.
Translated by John Biddle.
Moone's device as frontispiece. "An excellent discourse ..." has special t.-p. "A catalogue of the works of Socinus": [4] p. at end.
Clark Library copy bound with Biddle, John. The apostolical and true opinion concerning the Holy Trinity ... London, 1653; and 5 other and anti-Trinitarian tracts.
Language English

Author Przypkowski, Samuel, 1592-1670.
Title Dissertatio de pace, &c.; or, A discourse touching the peace & concord of the Church : wherein is elegantly and acutely argued, that not so much a bad opinion, as a bad life, excludes a Christian out of the kingdom of heaven; and that the things necessary to be known for the attainment of salvation, are very few and easie: and finally, that those, who pass amongst us under the name of Hereticks, are notwithstanding to be tolerated.
Publisher London : Printed by Ja: Cottrel for Rich. Moone, 1653.
Description [8], 64, [6] p. 15 cm. Note Wing P4133.
"These books are to be sold by Richard Moone ...": p. [69]-[70].
Clark Library copy bound with Biddle, John. The apostolical and true opinion concerning the Holy Trinity ... London, 1653, and 5 other anti-Trinitian tracts. CLU-C
Language English

Author Przypkowski, Samuel, 1592-1670.
Title Dissertio de pace, &c, or, A discourse touching the peace and concord of the Church [microform] : wherein First, is elegantly and accurately argued, that its not so much a bare error in opinion ... secondly, that the things necessary ... Lastly, that those who pass amongst us ...
Publisher London : Printed and sold by Andrew Sowle ..., 1688. Description [6], 42 p.
Series Early English books, 1641-1700 ;1043:8.
Note First 3 words on t.p. in Latin. Attributed by Wing to Samuel Przypkowski. Imperfect: pages stained, with loss of print. Errata: following p. 42.
Reproduction of original in the Union Theological Seminary Library, New York.
Language English

Author Przypkowski, Samuel, 1592-1670.
Title Vita Fausti Socini Senensis / descripta ab equite polono, anno MDCXXXVI ; with English annotations by E.S.
Publisher Manchester [Lancashire] : J. Galt ; H. Rawson, 1912.
Description 65, vii p. : geneal. table ; 19 cm.
Note Cover title: Vita Socini.
Added t.p. in English: The life of Faustus Socinus of Siena, the Unitarian reformer.
Language Latin

Author Przypkowski, Samuel, 1592-1670.
Title Samuelis Przipcovii Dissertatio de pace et concordia ecclesiae / recensuit, in linguam Polonam vertit Miecislaus Brożek ; praefatione instruxit, versionem Polonam recognovit Sbigneus Ogonowski.
Edition Wyd. 1. Publisher Varsoviae : Państwowe Wydawn. Nauk., 1981.
Description 111 p., [2] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
Series Biblioteka pisarzy reformacyjnych ;nr. 13.
Note Text in Latin and Polish.
Title on added t.p.: Rozprawa o pokoju i zgodzie w Kościele.
On p. facing t.p.: Instytut Filozofii i Socjologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk. Reprint.
Originally published: Eleutheropoli : Typis Godfridi Philadelphi, 1628.
Note Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 8301012439


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Last updated 16 October 2003

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