Martin Ruar


From Ruar to Vogler, Altdorf, c. 1613

(On the visit by Thomas Segeth, Scot, at Raków-Poland round 13-19 July 1612.)

He said that when he had taken pains to pass through Rakow, a town in Little Poland where the heresy of the Socinians flourishes greatly, he felt as though he had been transported into another world ; for whereas elsewhere all was full of wars and tumult, there all was quiet, men were calm and modest in behaviour, so that you might think them angels, although they were spirited in debate and expert in language.

( M. Ruar, Epistolarum selectorum centuriae duae, 1729, p. 379. )

by John McLachlan.
Oxford 1951, pages 26-7.


From THE STATE OF THE UNITARIAN DOCTRINE etc., 1783 by Theophilus Lindsey

I shall subjoin only one instance more out of the Letters of Ruarus, a learned and excellent person, of great note among the Socinians in Germany in the last century, and connected with the principal literary characters of his time.

He is writing to an intimate friend, who had sent him word after he had quitted Altorf in Germany, where he had read theological lectures ; that he was accused of having been a "deserter of their sacred institution, a sower of impiety, and corrupter of the youth of the place;" by which they meant, that he had been instrumental in leading them off from the received doctrines, to the belief of the Divine Unity.

In his answer, Ruarus congratulates himself, that "he had made it his great endeavour, that no one should become worse by associating with him ;" and observers, "that perhaps the principal thing his adversaries had to lay to his charge, was, that he had opposed the corrupt manners of the times ;" in which he declares, he had laboured "with all his might :" and "I rejoice, says he, (c) that I have this crime, if it be one, in common with you, my friend, and with all good men, (etc)." And he concludes his letter ;

"May the Lord Jesus . . . pardon my dulness.To whose care I heartily commend you, my dear Piccart, and all your's."
      Paris, January, 1616. (d)

It seems an idle play upon words in Socinus, in the instance alleged from him, to argue that the title of true God might be given to Christ ; when all he meant by it was, that he had a real divine power and dominion bestowed upon him, to qualify him to take care of the concerns of christians, and to hear and answer their prayers, though he was originally nothing more than a human creature.

Mr. Boyle, that honour to our country and to human nature, is reported to have always made a short pause in his conversation, very discernible to those that were acquainted with him, whenever he had occasion to mention the name of God : Certainly Unitarians ought to be more sparing and reserved in the use of a name peculiarly belonging to the unspeakably glorious creator of all things ; and which can only be figuratively given to Christ, or to any other person. Ruarus, in the way in which he joins Christ with himself and other men, plainly considers him merely as a human being ; and I can no other way account for his calling him his God, in such a familiar way, but from his having accustomed himself to pray to him. But to other Unitarians it is strange language.     (Etc.)

      (c) " Si hoc est crimen meum, fæcul contraivisse, id mihi tecum ipso commune lætor, et cum omnibus rivia probis, [etc.] ——.   M. Ruari Epistolæ, Vol. ii, p. 86.

      (d) Not long after this, viz. in the year 1619, we find Ruarus was in our own country ; where he had great offers made him to settle at Cambridge : a Professorship, with a salary of upwards of 100l. a year, together with an establishment in some college ; the liberty also of taking pupils, which would at the least bring in a 100l. more ; "A great temptation, says he to his friend, to a man like me, in indigent circumstances, and one who scarce ever felt the smiles of fortune ; especially, when there was a way pointed out to me, whereby I might make myself easy in some measure, in point of conscience, in discharging the duties of my place ; which was a circumstance I had good reason to be alarmed about. But the love of liberty got the better of all these allurements, for I saw I must be intirely fettered in many respects : or rather, it was the love of that best and greatest of Beings, which prevailed ; whom I resolved not to serve by stealth, but ingenuously and openly in the face of the world."i. e.Non mentiar, mi Dumlere ! gravis hæc fuit machina ad oppugnandam constantiam hominis egeni, [etc. etc.].——Lutetiæ, Parisiorum, 1609.     M. Ruari Epistolæ, Vol. I, p. 71. A greater liberality of sentiment this, in the Heads of Colleges, and a more ingenuous love and encouragement of the free study of the holy Scriptures, than we have seen exemplified in the same University in our own days ; when men, two persons in particular, of the most unspotted virtue, of very superior learning and abilities, instead of being countenanced in expounding the Scriptures of truth in their genuine sense and meaning, have been opposed and forced to discontinue their labours, (etc).

London : J. Johnson 1783, pages 390-394.


From A HISTORY OF UNITARIANISM : Socinianism etc., 1945 by Earl Morse Wilbur

...     Ruar,45 born in 1589, was a native of Krempe in Holstein, son of a Lutheran school Rector. Early distinguished as a student, he went to the Academy at Altdorf, where he was converted to Socinian views by Professor Soner, and became an ardent and life-long propagandist of his new faith. He traveled extensively in France and England, Italy, Holland and Germany, became a man of the broadest culture, highly accomplished in nearly half a score of languages, and was offered a professorship in history at the University of Cambridge on very flattering terms, but declined the tempting offer rather than compromise his religious freedom, (etc).46 Later for one short year he was Rector of the College at Rakó ; but the restrictions of academic life did not suit him, and he had ten years more of unsettled life, ranging like a bee, as he said of himself,47 among flowers of the classics, studying to perfect his style and enrich his mind as a preparation for practical life. Thus by the time he settled at Danzig Ruar had come to be widely known as one of the most learned men in Europe. In religion, though agreeing in general with the Socinians, he was no narrow sectarian, but was tolerant and irenic in spirit, and for many years tried to bring about union with the Remonstrants and the Mennonites. His activity, however, was that of a layman, for he was not ordained to the ministry until late in life.

Soon after his arrival in Danzig, the brethren in Poland commissioned Ruar to purchase a piece of land in a convenient location for a church, and also a house for the regular minister ; and he used to preach to the Socinian congregations in German, since the regular minister knew only Polish. These meetings were of course private assemblies ; though once or twice, being invited to do so, he took part in a public discussion, nd defended his cause against misrepresentation.48 But his more effective work was done by recommending and distributing books from the Raków press, and by cautious and skilful private conversations and discussions with individuals or small groups, mostly with common people.49 The results of this activity could not well escape the notice of the Council of the city, who since Stegmann's case had already put some pres sure upon the congregation of the Socinians ; and now that these were increasingly active, and Ruar himself, having married into one of the prominent families of the city, had converted to his faith not only his wife but her relations, the Council were aroused to drastic action. Encourage by what the Diet had done that very year in the case of Raków, they notified Ruar in 1638 to leave the city and thus free the church from further danger,50 on the ground that he not only professed the 'Arian' religion but was leader in spreading it in the city.

He answered51 that it was next to impossible for him to leave at once, since that would cause great loss to several Polish magnates whose interests there he had in charge, and he asked meantime to be heard in his own defence and legally tried before punishment. He had borne, he said, a good reputation throughout learned Europe, and had chosen Poland out of all places for its boasted golden freedom of conscience and its tolerant laws ; and he had liked Danzig the more as a place of residence because here adherents of various religions were freely allowed to dwell and to practice their religion publicly or (by connivance) secretly. He had lived here for seven years without complaint from any, and had married into an honorable family. In religion he had nothing in common with Arius,, and chose Scripture alone as the standard of his faith and life. He had never been ordained or acted as a minister, but only as a private Christian ; had never discussed religion with any student, nor forced his views on any one in private, nor persuaded any one in the city to change his religion ; had loaned religious books only when asked ; and had done nothing against the laws or customs of the city. Finally, he hoped that at a time when religious persecution of the innocent was rife elsewhere it would not be permitted in this free state to begin with him.

Ruar also asked the intercession in his behalf of some of the leading nobles in Poland whose factor he had been, of whose more than a dozen, persons of the highest standing, addressed a letter to the Danzig Council.52 The Council yielded to these influences, and suspended the decree, on condition that Ruar should not slyly spread his religious views. Five years later, finding these conditions irksome, and seeking wider liberty, Ruar through the influence of two friends at court obtained from King Ladislas an appointment as member of his court,53 which was supp0osed among other things to secure him immunity from arrest. This distinction, however, proved of little advantage to Ruar, for under the royal privilege granted to the city a certain precedence had been assured to the Lutheran Church.54 When therefore in 1643 it became known that he had again been actively m making converts, including several of note, he was again ordered to leave the city. Ruar hastened to Warsaw where he again found influential friends to intercede for him, urging that though the city might be within its rights under its charter, it would be safer policy to exercise there the same toleration that prevailed in the Republic at large ; since if the principle of general toleration were abandoned, all Protestants might soon suffer persecution from the Catholics. The Council so far yielded as to grant Ruar leave to enter the city to transact his business, but he most reside outside it and give up his propaganda, a condition that he had thus far failed to fulfil.55 He therefore removed to Straszyn, a (German) mile distant, and there spent the rest of his life, busy with the care of his flock,56 and with extensive correspondence, in which he persistently tried to promote the c cause of church union on a basis of mutual toleration in doctrine. He died in 1657, (etc).

      45cf. Chmaj, Ruar; Bock, Antitrinitar., i, 713-735.
      46cf. Ruar, Epistolae, pp. 56, 60. [Wilbur proposes the exact professorship, which John McLachlan (Socinianism in 17th-century England, Oxford 1951, page 28 note 3) states to have been impossible due to the dating. (WPT)]
      47cf. Ruar, Epistolae, p. 88.
      48cf. his Epistolae, p. 635.
      49Ruar gives a detailed and most interesting account of his method of winning converts, in a letter to an intimate friend.   cf. his Epistolae, pp. 123-126; also Bock, Socinianismus, p. 25 f.
      50cf. Hartknoch, Kirchen-Historia, p. 284 f; Bock, op. cit., pp. 26-29.
      51cf. his supplex libellus in his Epistolae, p. 622 ff.
      52cf. the extensive correspondence ensuing, Ruar, Epistolae, pp. 626-643.
      53cf. the diploma in Epistolae, p. 684. This honor was renewed by King Jan in 1649; cf. id. op., p. 686 f.
      54For the privilege granted by King Ladislas IV, in 1633, cf. Hartknoch, Kirchen-Historia, p. 820. An earlier privilege in 1558 also included the Reformed Church [Calvinist], but extended no further ; op. cit., p. 678 f.
      55cf. Epistolae, pp. 644 f, 648 f, 655 f.
      56He was at length ordained as minister of this church in 1646; cf. Szczotka, p. 87.

A HISTORY OF UNITARIANISM : Socinianism and its Antecedents
Harvard University Press 1945, pages 506-9.



...     Not till the Rakow press got really busy and made known by secret exports beyond the borders of Poland the existence of Socinian churches, was curiosity aroused. Then travellers began to make inquiries about Rakow and its inhabitants, and some even went out of their way to discover the real character of the heretical 'Polish Brethren'.

One of these, a wandering Scot, named Thomas Segeth, paid a visit to Rakow in the summer of 1612. Valentine Smalcius recorded the event in his diary.3   (Etc.)   After a short stay of a week, he went on to see an old friend of his, Martin Ruar, who was at that time a student in Altdorf. Ruar records his impressions in one of his letters.4

'He said . . . '   [etc., as at the top of page — (WPT)]

. . .   Martin Ruar . . . was sufficiently stirred to pay a visit to Rakow himself in the following year (1614), became a member of the church there, and . . . was to prove one of the leading scholars and propagandists of Socinianism.

. . . Ruar . . . eventually settled down in 1646 as the ordained minister . . . in Danzig (etc). His numerous contacts and correspondents included many of the leading Remonstrant ministers in Holland and scholars like Hugo Grotius and Marin Mersenne, (etc). His Epistolarum selectarum centuriae (two series) throw much light on contemporary men and movements.

      3 G. G. Zeltner, Historia crypto-Socinismi, p. 1196: '13 Julii Racoviam venit Nobilissimus vir, Thomas Segethus, Scotus, veritatis divinae, cuius gustum quendam Lublini conceperat, amplius investigandae cause: d. 19 Julii discessit a nobis.'
      4 Ruar to Vogler, Altdorf, c. 1613; M. Ruar, Epistolarum selectarum centuriae duae (1729), p. 379.

by John McLachlan.
Oxford 1951, pages 26-7.


From JOHN LOCKE, 1994 by John Marshall

. . . . Locke had amassed a large collection of works by all of the most important Socinian authors, several of which he had definitely purchased during the 1680s in Holland, and several more of which may have been purchased during the late 1680s or early 1690s. Locke's possessions included eight titles by Faustus Socinus himself, nine works by John Crell, . . six by Jonas Schlichting, . . five by Valentine Smaltz, joint editor of the Racovian Catechism . . . and two books by Socinus' amanuensis John Volkel, including the 716-page . . . De Vera Religione. His collection was rounded out by the ecclesiastical histories of Christopher Sand, various works by John von Wolzogen, George Enyedi, Martin Ruar and Andreas Wissowatus junior, and in the late 1690s by the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonoroum, a nine-volume collection (etc).14

      14 Library*, entries 2704-12; 876-83a; 2574-7; 1062; 3009; 2693-7; 3103-4; 2549-51; 3174; 2508-9; 1052; 3170; 331; 723.
* [The Library Catalogue of John Locke, ed. P. Laslett and J. Harrison, Oxford 1965.]

JOHN LOCKE     Resistance, Religion and Responsibility
Cambridge University Press 1994, p. 392 (and xiii).



RUAR, MARCIN Epistolae ("Letters") Amsterdam 1627 : (Dr. Williams' Library, London, England).  
( Source : )

RUAR, MARCIN Epistolarum Selectorum ("Selected Letters") Amsterdam 1677 : (Czartoryski Library, Krakow, Poland).
( Sources :
also )

M. Ruar Epistolarum selectorum centuria (1677).
( Source : J. McLachlan, p. 90).

M. Ruar Epistolarum selectorum centuriae duae (1729)
( Source : J. McLachlan, p. 26).


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