Illyricus, Matthias Flacius

, but who Latinized his name into Flaccus Illyricus, because a native of Albona or Albana in Illyria, was born March 3, 1520. He was instructed in grammar and the classics b.y Egnatius at Venice, and gave the preference to divinity as a profession. Not being able, however, to maintain the cxpences of university education, he intended to throw himself into a monastery, but happening to consult with a relation of his mother’s, who was provincial of the | Cordeiiers, and who had begun to see through the errors of popery, this person prevailed with Flacius to lay aside all thoughts of the monastic life, and go into Germany, where his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew would procure him a maintenance until he had completed his theological studies. Flacius accordingly took this advice, went to Basil in 1539, and, after a few months stay, went to Tubingen, where he remained until 1541, and theft removed to Wittenberg, to complete his studies under Luther and Melancthon, the latter of whom found him some employment in the university, and was the means of relieving his mind from anxious doubts respecting some of the fundamental principles of the reformed religion, respecting the nature of sin, the wrath of God, and predestination.

He was thus employed when all the schools of Saiony were dispersed by the war, on which, Flacius went to Brunswick, where he acquired great reputation by his lectures. In 1547 he returned to his former employment at Wittenberg, and here first began his differences with his brethren on the subject of the Interim, that famous edict of Charles V. which was to be observed with the articles of religion then in dispute, until they should be determined by a council, and therefore was called interim. But as it retained most of the doctrines and ceremonies of the Romanists, though expressed for the most part in the softest words, or in scriptural phrases, or in terms of studied ambiguity, excepting that of marriage, which was allowed to priests, and communion, which was administered to th6 laity under both kinds, most of the Protestants rejected it, and none with more warmth than Flacius. This involved him also with Melancthon, against whom he wrote with so much intemperance, that the latter called him “Echidna Illyrica,” the Illyrian viper. Flacius, however, that he might be at liberty to oppose popery in his own way, retired, in 1549, to Magdeburg, which town was at that time proscribed by the emperor. Here he published several books, and began that ecclesiastical history which we have mentioned in the article Judex, called the “Centuries of Magdeburg,” of which he had the chief direction. Of this work the first four centuries, and part of the fifth, were composed at Magdeburg. The fifth was finished at Jena. The sixth was written in the place to which the authors had retired on account of the persecution of their two coadjutors, Gallus and Faber. The seventh was | composed in the country of Mecklenburgh, and the remaining in the city of Wismar, in the same country. The first three centuries were published in 1559, though dated in 1560, according to the booksellers’ custom, with a dedication to queen Elizabeth, earnestly exhorting her to establisn the pure, uncorrupt religion, and particularly the doctrine of the corporal presence in the sacrament. The best edition of this work is that of Basil, 1624, 3 vols. folio. This is the most considerable of Flacius’s works, and employed him during the whole of his lite, at such times as he could spare from his public employments and controversies, which last he carried on with too much violence.

In 1557 he accepted the offer made to him, of the Hebrew and divinity professorship in the new university of Jena, where he had read lectures for five years, and where he engaged in a dispute with his colleague, Strigelius, on the nature of original sin, which Strigelius held to be accidental of the soul, and Flacius maintained that it was of the soul’s substance and essence. This dispute was held before the duke of Saxony at Weimar, and carried on to thirteen meetings, the acts of which were published, with a preface by Musaeus, one of Flacius’s followers. His opinion on this subject, however, was so unpalatable, that he was obliged to leave Jena and go to Ratisbon, where he published some more works, and was in such reputation among the adherents to the Au^sburgh confession, that, in 1567, he was called into Brabant, to establish churches there according to that rule of faith; but these new churches were soon dispersed by the persecution arisen in that country, which obliged him to fly to Antwerp and Strasburg, and finally to Francfort. Here he maintained his opinion on original sin with such rigid adherence as to be charged with Manicheism on this point, which greatly injured his reputation, and deprived him of many of his followers. He died in this city, March 11, 1575. He is said to have been a man of extensive learning, but of a controversial turn, which frequently embroiled him with his brethren; but on the other hand he must be allowed to have been a powerful agent in promoting the Reformation. His works were numerous. Teissier, in his “Eloges des homines savans,” has given the titles of seventy-eight treatises, the greater part of which are also enumerated by Niceron. The principal are his “Clavis Scripturae,” 2 vols. fol. of which there have been seven editions, the last | at Leipsic in. 1695; no inconsiderable test of its merit. To this may be added his “Catalogus testium veritatis,” of which there have been several editions in 4to and fol.; and an edition of the “Ancient Latin Mass,Strasburg, 1557, 8vo. He thought this work would assist the common cause; but the Lutherans, perceiving the contrary, did all they could to suppress it, which is the reason of its scarceness; nor has the republication in P. le Cointe’s “Annals,” and in cardinal Bona’s “Liturgies,” reduced the very high price. In the edition of Sulpicius Severus, published by him ut Basil, 1556, 8vo, there is an “Appendix to the Latin Mass,” which may be added to it. There is another very rare work of his, entitled “Varia doctorum piorumque virorum de corrupto ecclesise statu, Poemata,Basil, 1557. 1


Melchior Adam.—Nieeron, vol. XXIV.—Gen. Dict.—Clement Bibl. Curieuse.—Moreri.