Ochino (Or, As He Is Sometimes Called, Ocello), Bernardino
Ochino (Or, As He Is Sometimes Called, Ocello), Bernardino, one of the most noted of Italian reformers, who, in his generation, was reverenced almost as a saint for his piety, and by his eloquence entranced thousands wherever he preached, was born of obscure parents in 1487 at Siena, a city of Tuscany. Feeling from his earliest years a deep sense of religion, he devoted himself, according to the notions of that age, to a monastic life, and joined, while yet a mere youth; the Franciscan Observantines, as the strictest of all the, orders of the regular clergy. For the same reason he left them, and in 1534 became a member of the Capuchin brotherhood, which had been recently established according to the most rigid rules of holy living, or, rather, voluntary humility and mortification. During his monastic retirement he acknowledges that he escaped those vices with which his life might have been tainted if he had mixed with the world; and from the studies of the cloister, barren and unprofitable as they were, reaped a portion of knowledge which was afterwards of some use to him; but he failed completely in gaining, what was the great thing which induced him to choose that unnatural and irksome mode of life, peace of mind and assurance of salvation; or, as he himself put it, "I remained a stranger to true peace of mind, which at last I found in searching the Scriptures, and such helps for understanding them. as I had access to. I now came to be satisfied of the three following truths:
1, that Christ, by his obedience and death, has made a plenary satisfaction and merited heaven for the elect, which is the only righteousness and ground of salvation;
2, that religious vows of human invention are not only useless, but hurtful and wicked; and,
3, that the Roman Church, though calculated to fascinate the senses by her external pomp and splendor, is unscriptural and abominable in the sight of God." In Italy it was not the custom, as in Germany, for the secular clergy to preach: this task was performed exclusively by the monks and friars. The chapters of the different orders chose such of their number as possessed the best pulpit talents, and sent them to preach in the principal cities during the time of Lent, which was almost the only season of the year in which the people enjoyed religious instruction. Ochino attained to the highest distinction in this employment, to which he was chosen by his brethren at an early period. His original talents compensated for his want of erudition. He was a natural orator, and the fervor of his piety and .the sanctity of his life gave an unction and an ardor to his discourses which ravished the hearts of his hearers, and he soon became in the highest degree eminent for his' talents in the pulpit. Never did man preach with so much success, as well as "with so much applause. His extraordinary merit procured him the favor of pope Paul III, who, it is said, made him his father confessor and preacher; in 1538. he was elected general of the Capuchin Order at Florence, and afterwards, while at Naples, in 1541, was re-elected to the same dignity. But ubile thus the favorite of both prince and people, he fell into the company of the Reformer of Spain, Juan Valdes, who had imbibed Luther's doctrine in Germany, and Ochino became a proselyte, He was then at Naples, and began at once to preach in favor of Protestant doctrines; which being taken notice of, he was summoned to appear at Rome, and, persuaded that he had truth on his side, he at once made preparation to set out for that city. But on his way thither he met at Florence Peter Martyr, with whom it is probable he had contracted an acquaintance at Naples. This friend persuaded him not to put himself into the pope's power; and they both agreed to withdraw into some place of safety. Ochino went first to Ferrara, where he disguised himself in the habit of a soldier, and proceeded thence to Genoa, where he arrived in 1542, and married. But feeling it unsafe to remain in Italy, he set out for Switzerland, and finally passed over to Germany, and settled at Augsburg, where he preached the Reformed doctrines, and also published several sermons, some of which he had brought with — him from Italy (Prediche, s. 1. [1542-44; 2 ed. Basel, 1562, 5.vols.]; twenty of these have been translated into German [Neuburg, 1545], twenty-two into French [Gen., about 1546- 61], and twenty-five into English [Ipswich, 1548]). He remained in charge of a congregation at Augsburg until 1 547, when, the city falling into the hands of the emperor, he was obliged to flee to Strasburg, and thence he passed over into England, together with Peter Martyr (q.v.). There he preached to the Italian refugees in London, who obtained the use of a church in 1551, and he was in great favor with archbishop Cranmer and the princess Elizabeth. On Mary's accession he fled again to Strasburg, and thence to Geneva, but was obliged to leave that city on account of the opposition he made to the condemnation of Servetus. In 1555 he was in Basle, and shortly after received a call to Zurich. Here he commenced advocating some eccentric views on the doctrine of the Trinity, on marriage, and finally wrote in favor of polygamy, whereupon the authorities expelled him from the city, and in December, 1563, he went to Nuremberg. Here he wrote a justification, which is to be found in Schelhorn's Ergbtzlichkeiten (pt. 3, p. 2007 sq.), to which the inhabitants of Zurich answered, March, 1564, by the Spongia adversus aspergines B. Ochini, qua ver-e causce exponuntur, ob quas ille ab urbe Tigurina fuit relegatus (in the same work, 3:2157 sq., and probably first published in Hottinger's Historia Ecclesiae Novi Testam. 9:479). He fled into Moravia, and there joined the Socinians. Later he went on a visit to Poland, but after king Sigismund's edict, who in 1564 punished with banishment all those that were called Tritheists, Atheists, etc., he quitted that country, and shortly after his entry into Moravia died, in the beginning of 1565, of the plague, at Slakow. Ochino has been considered by some as one of the heads of the Antitrinitarians. SEE SOCINIANS.
The character of Ochino is variously represented by different authors, which is not to lie wondered at, since men like him, undecided, and constantly changing from one phase of doctrine to another, are likely to make many opponents. Bayle observes that the confession he made publicly on the change of his religion is remarkable. He acknowledged in a preface that if he could have continued, without danger of his life, to preach the truth, after the manner he had preached it for some years, he 'would never have laid down the habit of his order; but as he did not find within himself that courage which is requisite to undergo martyrdom, he took refuge in a Protestant country. Thus to criticize Ochino's conduct is, we think, hardly fair. For the times and circumstances by which Ochino was controlled should be carefully considered. Long before he had been advanced to the highest dignity in his order he had become a Protestant at heart. He did not deny his convictions, but, instead of declaring himself at variance with the Romish views, he simply suffered it to produce a corresponding change in his strain of preaching, which for some time was felt rather than understood by his hearers. He appealed directly to the Scriptures in support of the doctrines which he delivered, and exhorted the people to rest their faith on the infallible authority of the Word of God, and to build their hopes of salvation on the obedience and death of Christ alone. But a prudential regard to his own safety, and to the edification of his hearers, whose minds were not prepared for the discovery, prevented him from exposing the fallacy of Romish superstition. Only when Valdes encouraged him to take a bolder departure Ochino was led to take the decisive step, and then he was obliged to quit his native land. Besides, no one can question his piety, however greatly the extreme errors into which Ochino fell may be deprecated. He was always great and good, and there is nothing in his life to condemn, though his doctrines were gravely heterodox, and in his last years he much weakened the Protestant cause in Poland, and Southern Europe generally. Certainly his great renown as a pulpit orator was deserved, and should be remembered. "In such reputation was he held," says the annalist of the Capuchins, after Ochino had brought on them the stigma of heresy, "that he was esteemed incomparably the best preacher of Italy; his powers of elocution, accompanied with the most admirable action, gave him the command of his audience, especially as his life corresponded to his doctrine" (Bzovius apud Bock, Hist. Antitrin. 2:485). His external appearance, after he had passed middle age, contributed to heighten this effect. His snow-white head, and his beard of the same color flowing down to his middle, added to a pale countenance, which led the spectators to suppose that he was in bad health, rendered his aspect at once venerable and deeply interesting. "As a preacher," says M'Crie, "he was admired and followed equally by the learned and illiterate, by the great and the vulgar. Charles V, who used to attend his sermons when in Italy, pronounced this.high encomium on him: 'That man would make the stones weep!' Sadolet and Bembo, who were still better judges than his imperial majesty, assigned to Ochino the palm of popular eloquence. At Perugia he prevailed on the inhabitants by his discourses to bury all their animosities and bring their lawsuits to an amicable settlement; and in Naples he preached to so numerous an assembly, and with such persuasive eloquence, as to collect at one time, for a charitable purpose, the almost incredible sum of five thousand crowns. The fame of the devout and eloquent Capuchin was so great that the most respectable inhabitants of Venice, in the year 1538, employed cardinal Bembo to procure him to preach to them during the ensuing Lent. The cardinal wrote to Vittoria Colonna, marchioness of Pescaro, begging her.to intercede with 'Ochilio, over whom she had great influence, to visit Venice, where he would find all the inhabitants inflamed with the most passionate desire to hear him. He went accordingly, and was enthusiastically received" (Ref. in Italy, p. 118:sq.).
Ochino's writings are rather numerous than bulky. His principal works are, Dialogi VII:sacri, dove si contiene, nel primo dell inamorarsi di Dio, etc. (1542):Apologi nelli quali si scuoprano gli abwusi, errori, etc., della sinagora del Papa, de suoi preti; monachi e frati (Geneva, 1544;. German, Augsburg,'1559, 4to): — Expositione sopra la epistola di S. Paolo alli Roniani (1545; German, Augsburg, 1546; Latin, ibid. 1546): Expositione sopra la epistola di S. Paolo al-Galati (1546; German, Augsburg, 1546, 4to): — A Tragedy, or Dialogue of the unjust usurped Primacy of the Bishop of Rome (Lond. 1549, 4to): — Dialogo del Purgatorio (Basel, 1556; Latin by Taddeo Duno. Zurich, 1556; French, 1559): — Sincera et verce doctrince de comna Domini defensio contra libros tres J. Westphali (Zurich, 1556):Disputa intorno alla presenza del corpo di Giesu Christo nel sacramento della cena (Basel, 1561; Latin, Liber de sporis Christi prcesentia in cnce sacramento (ibid.): — Prediche del R. Padre Don 'Serafino da Piagenza, ditte Laberinti del libero over servo arbitrio, etc. (Stampato in Pavia, i.e. Basel; Latin, Labyrinthi, hoc est de libero aut servo arbitrio, de divina prcenotione, destinatione et libertate disputatio, Basel, probably printed in 1562): — II catechismo, o
vero institutione Christiana, infornma di dialogo (Basle, 1561): — 30 Dialogi in duos libros divisi, quorunmprimus est de Messia; secundus est, cum de rebus variis, tumpotissimum de Trinitate (Basel, 1563). In these "Dialogues" Ochino tries to transform the objective satisfaction theory of the Church into an act of subjective reflection, whereby man comes to see - that God is disposed to forgive him when he is penitent (see Schenkel, 2:265 sq.). See Zanchi, De tribus Elohim (Neustadt, 1589, fol.); Sandius, Bibl. — Antitrinitariorum; Bayle, Dictionnaire histor. s.v.; Struve, De vita, religione et fatis B. Ochini (in Observat. select. Halens. 4:409 sq.; v. 1 sq.); Fissli, Beitrage z. Reformationsgesch. d. Schweiz. v. 416 sq.; Treschel, Die protestant. Antitrinitarier, 2:202; Paleario, Life and Times, 1:263, 554; 2:76, 81, 92 sq., 195 sq., 345 sq., 356 sq., 571 sq., 486 sq.;' Wiffen, Life and Writings of Juan de Valdes (Lond. 1865), p. 104 sq.; M'Crie, Hist. of the Ref. in Italy, p. 116-123; Nachlese aus Ochini's Leben u. Schriften, in Schelhorn's "Ergitzlichkeiten," 3:765, 979,1141, 1219; Bock, Hist. Antitrinit. (1874); Meyer, Essai sur la vie, etc., de B. Ochin (i851); Hook, Eccles. Biogr. 7:448-450; Benrath, Bern. Ochino (Leips. 1875).