Neuser, Adam

Neuser, Adam a German Socinian theologian, was born in Swabia in the 16th century. Educated in Lutheranism by his parents, who belonged to that communion, he entered the Reformed Church, after having finished his studies, probably because he sought greater liberty of thought than he could find in the Lutheran Church. He then established himself in the Palatinate, and soon gained the good-will of the elector, who appointed him pastor of St. Peter's Church of Heidelberg, and who even formed the project of giving him h professor's chair in the university of that city. But this prince wishing in 1569 to introduce into his states the ecclesiastical discipline of the Church of Geneva, Neuser strongly resisted the innovation, perhaps not so much because it departed from the civil power as because this discipline, by an excessive rigor, would have caused an intolerable weight of ecclesiastical despotism over the Reformed Church of the Palatinate. This bold opposition deprived him of the good graces of the elector, and he was dismissed from the pastorate. Neuser now openly espoused Socinianism, to which he had long inclined, and he exerted himself to spread its principles among his friends. Syivanus, pastor at Ludemburg, joined him in this design, which was communicated to Georg Blandrata, physician of the vaivode of Transylvania, and to some other ministers who professed the Socinian opinions. It is related that Neuser and Sylvanus sought to assure themselves of the protection of the sultan Selim, but that they were betrayed by the ambassador of the vaivode of Transylvania, whom they had charged with this negotiation, and that he delivered their letters to the elector palatine. Whatever may be the true history of it, they were certainly arrested, and conducted to Amberg. Sylvanus was decapitated in 1572; Neuser succeeded in escaping from his prison, and, after having wandered over the country for some time, arrived in Constantinople, where he became a Mussulman, and died in the Mohammedan faith, October 11, 1576. As might be expected, the memory of this restless and adventurous man has not been spared. He has been accused, though without apparent ground, of all vices, among others of drunkenness. It is just to add that those who have painted him in black colors recognise, however, by a singular contradiction, that there never was anything to reprimand in his conduct except his departure from orthodoxy, and this, of course, must be regretted. We are assured that he obtained a great ascendency over the people of the Palatinate, and that he owed this extraordinary consideration as well to his religious zeal as to his eloquence. It is a. pity that a man of his ability should have suffered himself to be led away from his moorings to land finally in Mohammedanism. The biographical Lexikons of Jocher assures us that he has left no printed work; the Biographie Universelle, on the contrary, pretends that his writings are numerous, and that they have been collected by the Socinians. The Bibliotheque des Anti-Trinitaires, which calls him Neusner, quotes but one — Scopus Septini Capitis ad Romanos (Ingolstadt, 1583, 8vo). His letter to Selim, if it be authentic, is found in the collection of Meg —Monumenta pietatis et litteraturae (Frankfort, 1702, 4to), part 1, page 318; volume 3 of the Melanges tires de la Bibliotheque de Wolfenbuttel has another letter of Neuser, containing the apology for his conduct, dated at Constantinople the Wednesday before Easter of the year 1574. See Jicher, Gelehrten Lexikon, s.v.; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.; Gass, Dognengesch. 2:21. (J.H.W.)

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