Sandomir (Also Sendomir) Agreement
Sandomir (Also Sendomir) Agreement (Consensus Sendomiriensis), An accommodation reached by the Protestant churches of Poland in 1570, at a synod held at Sandomir, now the capital of the government of Radom, by which existing differences were composed and a fraternal union was established.
The Protestantism of Poland was of three types: 1, the Lutheran, introduced from Germany, and taking root chiefly in what is now Prussian Poland; 2, the Swiss, or Reformed, dating its introduction nearly to the same period as the Lutheran, and prevailing chiefly in Cracow and the surrounding country; and, 3. the Bohemian, brought in by refugees from the persecutions which raged in their native land. The language and customs of these refugees resembled those of the country in which they sought a home, and their Church possessed further advantages in its compact organization, thorough government, and rich hymnology, by which it was enabled to make rapid advances. These successes gave rise to the first disagreements with which the Polish Reformation was troubled, and furnished evidence of a wide division between the Lutherans and the Bohemian churches, the former charging the Bohemian Brethren with erroneous teaching, particularly in respect to the doctrines of justification and the Lord's supper, and with intentional neglect of scientific culture; and the latter retorting with reflections upon the absence of Church discipline and of moral restraints among their opponents. The progress of the Reformation in Strasburg in the meantime furnished the Brethren with an opportunity to enter into relations with other Protestant churches; and a delegation from Bohemia, appointed in 1540 for that purpose, having been favorably received by Bucer, Hedio, Capito, Calvin, and other Reformers, served to establish an intimacy of friendship between the respective leaders which was carefully cherished by the Bohemian Church.
The necessity of conciliating the opposing parties was apparent. The machinations of Romanism threatened them with a common danger; and it became important, after 1551, to check the progress of the antitrinitarian movement headed by Laelius Socinus; and the efficient organization of the Bohemian congregations, together with the fact that many of the foremost personages in the state were at least their friends and patrons, indicated that a closer relation with them was essential to the stability and required for the defense of the Reformation. The earliest attempt of which we have authentic information was made by Felix Cruciger, a supporter of the Swiss Confession and evangelical superintendent in Little Poland, through the medium of discussions on the state of the Church with representative Bohemians. A compromise was ultimately effected at the general Synod of Kozminek in 1555, by which the Bohemian Confession was adopted, the liturgy of the Bohemians to be introduced, and their consent to be obtained to any undertaking. This agreement secured the approval of many theologians of the Reformed confessions in other lands, and of such men as Paul Vergerius and Brenz among the Lutherans. But the provisions of Kozminek were not executed with energy. John à Lasko, the eminent Reformer, whose high birth and former services gave him an assured influence, returned from exile (December 1556) and discouraged further effort; and when, towards the close of the year 1557, opinions adverse to the proposed union were received from Calvin, Bullinger, Viret, and others of the Swiss Reformers, the compromise fell to the ground, having effected nothing that was expected from it, and leaving behind it the additional complication of excited feelings between the Reformed and the Bohemian parties. To remedy this failure, Lasko now proposed that a colloquy be held in Moravia for the purpose of discussing the objections raised against the Bohemian Confession, and the Brethren readily agreed. Leipnik was chosen as the place of meeting. Fifteen points were presented for discussion, bearing chiefly against the view of the Lord's supper taught by the Bohemian Church, and against the constitution of the Church itself, the latter presenting the more difficult problem to be solved. The constitution of the Bohemian Brotherhood had adopted the Romish principle of a clerocracy. The government of the churches was placed wholly in the hands of a regularly ordained and graded officiary; and if the lay element was recognized in the fact that the clergy were required to depend for their support, in part, on secular occupations, this was counterbalanced by the imposition of celibacy on the priesthood, thus securing to persons of that class not only a distinctive character, but also an appearance of superior sanctity. To change the constitution of the Church in this respect was impossible without giving up the principle of an organization to which the Brotherhood owed its preservation in the most trying times of persecution. The requirement of celibacy from their priests was explained as a prudential measure dictated by the greater liability of that class to persecution; but the exclusion of the, laity from the government of the Church admitted of no explanation satisfactory to a people whose nobles had been leaders in the Reformation and guides in the subsequent progress of the Church. The Conference of Leipnik closed without having effected any material result; and when a renewed effort to secure the approval of the Bohemian Confession by the Swiss theologians, Calvin and Musculus in particular, had failed, it was evident that all but hope was lost. The Synod of Xions (September, 1560), at which the Evangelical Church of Poland was constituted, did something, however, to keep that hope alive by admitting delegates from the Bohemian fraternity to its deliberations, and by adopting ecclesiastical terms peculiar to that Church, such as senior and consenior, into the new constitution.
In Great Poland, where Lutheranism predominated, the Melancthonian party, headed by the brothers Erasmus and Nicholas Gliczner, put forth earnest efforts in behalf of Protestant fraternity. A synod at Posen (1560), composed of representatives from the Evangelical and Bohemian churches, as well as of Lutherans, developed a plan of union which subsequently became the basis of the Sandomir Agreement. In the following year a discussion of doctrinal differences took place at Buzenin, the Lutherans being scantily represented, which led to the translation into Polish of the revised Bohemian Confession, and its submission for the approval of the Evangelical party; and it was resolved that delegates from either section should attend all synods without a formal invitation. The progress of the Antitrinitarian movement, headed by Laelius Socinus, together with the incursion of Anabaptist refugees from Bohemia and Moravia, likewise promoted the interests of fraternity among the Evangelicals by threatening to sweep away entire congregations from the orthodox faith. The Cracow congregation, acting under the advice of Calvin and Bullinger, met the emergency by adopting the Swiss Confession and form of government (1560), and was followed in this measure by most of the congregations in Little Poland, so that from this time the Poles must be regarded as Calvinists; and even the Lutherans of Great Poland and Lithuania took similar action by the substantial adoption of the resolutions of Xions, at a synod at Gostyn, in June 1565, reserving only the teaching of the Augsburg Confession on the Lord's supper, and certain ecclesiastical usages.
The rigid Lutherans, whose leading representative was Benedict Morgenstern, resisted the union movement at every step, and profited by the organization of the Polish Lutheran Church by the synod of Gostyn to give the opposition a more definite and vigorous form; but the matter having — apparently by an oversight on their part — been referred to the University of Wittenberg. a reply adverse to their purposes was received 4to. 1568), which rendered futile further opposition. The nobles of the land, alarmed by the successes of Romanism, now urged the cessation of strife between the factions of Protestantism. Edicts from the throne, then occupied by the vacillating Sigismund Augustus, had pointed out the real unity of belief held by the conflicting parties by exempting them from a proscription decreed against sectaries; and when the diet of Lublin (1569), at which the union of Poland and Lithuania came to pass, convened, the evangelical nobles present decided that a synod should be called to prepare the way for establishing a national Evangelical Church. After a number of preliminary conferences had been held, the synod assembled at Sandomir, April 9, 1570, and continued its session until April 15. Various attempts to establish the confession of one party as the common faith were made and set aside, until a compromise was effected by which each party was pledged to maintain fraternal relations with the others, while guarding its own confession and independent Church life.
The Sandomir Agreement was not a measure designed to secure identity of doctrinal teaching, but a provision to effect a practical comity of intercourse between separate churches. It recognizes the independence of the several churches, but removes the principal source of trouble — the doctrine of the Lord's supper — from the central position given to it by Lutheran polemics by emphasizing the agreement of the different confessions with respect to the leading doctrines of the faith. It provides that the ministry of either Church might conduct the worship and administer the sacraments in congregations of the other churches, though under restrictions intended to guard the usages and discipline of such congregations. It binds the contracting parties to avoid controversy and strife, and to make common cause against Romanism, sectarianism, and all other forces hostile to the Gospel; and it provides, in conclusion, that all important matters affecting the churches in Poland, Lithuania, and Samogitia should be regulated in common, and that deputies from all the churches should attend the general synods held by any one of them. A synod subsequently held (May 20, 1570), at Posen, and largely attended, took further measures to secure the practical operation of the Consensus Sendomiriensis; and the course of events from that time has proved that agreement as constituting the most important fact in the history of the evangelical churches in Poland. Some opposition to the compromise was manifested, and more or less uneasiness was betrayed from time to time; but the action of the general synod at Thorn, in 1595, in reenacting the Sandomir resolutions, brought the dispute to a final settlement.
See Friese, Beiträge zur Ref. — Gesch. in Polen u. Lithauen; Fischer, Vers. einer Gesch. der Ref. in Polen (Grätz, 1855); id. Kirchengesch. des Königreichs Polen; Gindely, Fontes Rerum Austriacarum; id. Fontes Rerum Historiacarum; Löscher, Historia Motuum; Hartknoch, Preuss. Kirchen-Historie; Jablonski, Historia Consensus Sendomiriensis; Cosack, Paul Speratus' Leben u. Lieder (1861); Schnaase, Gesch. der evang. Kirche Danzigs (Dantzic, 1863); Eichhorn, Der ermländische Bischof u. Cardinal Hosius (Mayence, 1854); Wengerscius, Slavonia Reformata. Also J.W. Walch, Hist. u. theol. Einl. in die Rel.- Streitigkeiten; Zorn, Hist. der zwischen den luth. u. ref. Theologis gehaltenen Colloquiorum; Beck, Symbol. Bücher der evangel. ref. Kirche; Niemeyer, Collectio Confessionum, etc., pref. p. 70; Nitzsch, Urkundenbuch der evang. Union, etc.