HotFreeBooks.com
The Life and Times of Ulric Zwingli
by Johann Hottinger
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

It is easy to imagine how such a zealous discharge of the duties of his calling should more and more attract the attention of the public authorities. Wintherthur was anxious to see him in the place of its deceased pastor. He had to decline, because the citizens of Glarus were not willing to release him from his former engagement. In Zurich even, wither he had come on a visit, the number of his admirers continually increased. The burgomaster Roist and his brethren-in-arms at Marignano were acquainted with him since the Italian campaign. To the senator, Jacob Grebel, he was introduced by his son Conrad, at that time one of his warmest admirers. The canons Utinger, Erasmus, Schmied and Engelhart knew and honored his scientific attainments, and even the hostile disposition, which, then already, some of the most resolute defenders of every kind of wickedness cherished toward him, might well have proved a recommendation to all well-disposed people. Thus the way was prepared for a translation to the scene of his future labors, but before this, Einsiedeln was yet to see him coming out boldly against one of the cardinal sins of the Papal Court.

Samson, the auctioneer of writs of indulgence, came to Switzerland, as Tetzel to Saxony. The shameless trade, carried on by both, in the pretended remission of sins, is well known. We will not revive these scandalous scenes, confidently believing, that their repetition in our age would be impossible. Even Zwingli paused a moment, before he ventured to attack openly the corrupter of the people, who was backed, as he asserted, by a commission from the Pope. It was the bishop of his country, who strengthened him for the undertaking. "Hugo, Bishop of Constance"—says he in the letter to Compar already quoted from—"has informed me by his Vicar Johansen Faber, since the Franciscan monk Samson would sell indulgences amongst us, and since he, the bishop had learned that I preached against it, and confirmed me therein, he was willing to stand by me in all fidelity. How could I act otherwise? Had I not to obey a bishop of Constance, whose vicar wrote to me,—even if I had not intended to do the same thing before—to make war on the ensnaring system of indulgences?"

He uttered warnings from the pulpit in Einsiedeln and the natural result was, the monk found so little encouragement in the neighboring Schwyz, that he the more quickly passed on to richer and more willing hearers in Bern.

But now, with this last act, the ministerial labors of the Reformer in Einsiedeln must be brought to a close. Erhard Battman, people's priest at Zurich, was elected a member of the monastery of that place and resigned his post as preacher. The choice of a successor lay with the canons. A majority of the most influential of them, together with several officers of state urgently desired that Zwingli should be chosen. Oswald Myconius, properly Geisshausler, who is since known as the biographer and friend of Zwingli, became an agent in the matter. He was born at Luzern, four years later than Zwingli, and had received a careful education, particularly in the Latin language at Rothweil under an eminent teacher, and afterwards in the High School at Basel. He early became acquainted with the accomplished Glareanus and thanked him especially for his perception of every beautiful and noble tendency in life, and for an introduction to Zwingli, who once came from Glarus to Basel on a visit. It was the learned Netherlander Erasmus chiefly, around whom, all who strove after culture and science with genuine zeal, united themselves in Basel. Even Art found in this genial man recognition and encouragement. The celebrated painter Holbein was his friend, and had furnished spirited illustrations for a book, in which Erasmus had hit off the various follies of the time with wit and humor. This memorial is preserved to this day in the library of the city. In the society of such distinguished men Myconius found his sphere of knowledge enlarged, his judgment corrected and his will strengthened. Three beautiful traits appear prominent in his character—Earnestness, Thoroughness, (by which, not content till he had rightly apprehended the smallest details, he rose higher, step by step, but ever the more securely, for thus Platter, afterwards his scholar, has portrayed him with grateful affection), and then, that which only belongs to pure endeavor, a Modesty, that is not concerned about its own praises but only about the propagation of truth, and springing from this and connected with it, the most cordial esteem and the most devoted friendship, where he discovered true merit in others, and an acknowledgment without envy, where he found in them a greater talent than his own. For this reason he became so intimate with Zwingli and remained so true to him, through all changes, to the end of his life. About the same time that his friend went to Einsiedeln, he himself received a call as teacher in the foundation school at Zurich. Here he soon gained influence and consideration, and it was owing to his efforts that the present invitation was extended to Zwingli, who answered him thus, "See that you tell me of the course of duties, the persons, who are at the head of affairs, the salary and whatever else you can find out. On Wednesday I will dine in Zurich and then we can talk over the matter. I will take no step without your advice. Congratulate, according to usage, in my name the newly elected Provost Frei, as one who is a friend to learning."

Myconius confirmed him in his resolution to offer himself as a candidate for the post; and, some days after, Zwingli laid open his heart to his friend. "A fable"—writes he—"reaches my ears; that Lorenzo Fable, so the Swabian from Graubuenden is called, has preached once before your congregation, and is not wholly unacceptable to the prudent people of Zurich; yet a letter from Michael, the private secretary of the Cardinal, assures me of the contrary. How, said I to myself, is it thus true, that the prophet has the least honor in his own country? Can a Swabian even be preferred to a Switzer, who, on his own territory, would not be regarded as inferior? Yes, indeed! I see well how he strives to gain the applause of the multitude by flattery. I know too that the whole endeavor of the vain man is after that—this Jack Smoke, as I, with our Glareanus, will call fellows of his kidney. Keep this scornful effusion of mine to yourself, dear friend, and continue to work for me, for I will freely confess, the place appears now doubly desirable, since I know, that he hankers after it. Yes, what I would otherwise have borne patiently, would now seem a real disgrace. Indeed I must go against the warning of Paul, who accuses them, that covet, of worldly-mindedness. Already I had proposed to myself, to expound the whole Gospel of Matthew, an undertaking hitherto unheard of in Germany. Let them choose him and they will soon see what he will bring out of his goose-stall. Take this hasty letter in good part. It is more warm than prudent."

Myconius answered, that his friendly letter was welcome, and the more so, because he had given in it a true picture of himself. About Fable he set his mind at ease. Unfavorable reports of him had since arrived; and there was no one in Zurich, who did not laud Zwingli's attainments to the skies. But his life offered another difficulty. A minority at least found fault with it. A part of them saw in his fondness for music a worldly disposition; others said that he had not confined himself in Glarus to good society; and at a very recent date a rumor began to spread abroad, that he had been guilty of too familiar intercourse with a daughter of a citizen of that place. A further examination of his fitness for the office was committed to the Provost Frei and two members of the canonicate, Utinger and Hofmann. The latter, an aged, severe man, formerly a zealous preacher against the mischief of foreign pensions, was particularly anxious to know what might be in the affair. "Write to me about it"—concludes he—"not, because you need first prove to me the falsehood of the charge, but because I wish to contradict those who are ill-disposed."

A letter from Zwingli to the canon Utinger immediately followed, in which he honorably confessed the crime, yet affirmed that he had not been the seducer, but the seduced. With shame and anguish he made this confession, and vowed that, for the future, by daily and nightly searchings and labors, he would keep himself free from stains of this sort. "Nevertheless"—continued he—"if such charges are spread abroad by my enemies, your people must have a poor opinion of me, and if I should be elected, the preaching of the Gospel must suffer damage. It is advisable, therefore, for you to consider well beforehand, what the public sentiment may be, and to listen rather to God than men. Speak frankly about me, with whomsoever you may find it necessary. Show my scrawl," (for that it is and no vindication) "to Myconius, and to any one else you please. I lay my fate in your hands. Whatever the result may be, withdraw not your love; mine for you always remains."

That, after all this, Myconius and Utinger pushed on matters with redoubled zeal; that Hofmann came out on his side; that of the twenty-four canons seventeen cast their votes for him; that in Zurich, and among all the sons of Zurich in foreign lands, the liveliest joy prevailed, shows us that the favorable opinion, held of him, did not suffer much by his confession. It was the same case in the scene of his former labors. The inhabitants of Glarus, to whom he had gone, towards the close of December, in order to resign his post, which he had retained till this time, respected him so highly, that, on the strength of his recommendation, they passed themselves over to the care of Valentine Tschudi. At Einsiedeln, Geroldseck acted in the same way. He chose Leo Judae, the friend of Zwingli, as his successor in that place. The guardian power of the monastery, the Council at Schwyz, wrote to him, "Although we in part regret that you must leave us at Einsiedeln, yet, on the other hand, we rejoice with you in everything that contributes to your profit and honor." Through Glareanus the tidings came from Paris, "All the Swiss youth, who are here, were delighted; they exulted, particularly the sons of Zurich. What concerns me is, that I have less reason to wish you happiness than to pity my friends in Glarus." Thus then, he who was taking leave, stands in his true image before us, exhibited in his weakness as well as in his prepondering virtue; no saint—only a man; but a man full of courage and faith. Well! let us accompany him to the enlarged sphere of that ministry of his, whose results will endure for ages.

FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER FIRST:

Footnote 1: Dinner was eaten at ten, or at the furthest eleven o'clock.

Footnote 2: Gaston of Foix, Duke of Nemours.

Footnote 3: The Mincio.

Footnote 4: Over the Oglio.

Footnote 5: He confounds it with the Adda, which empties into the Po.

Footnote 6: Again a change of names. The Ticino is meant.

Footnote 7: Even in representations designed for the people such malevolent charges are found. These exaggerations are to be corrected not by concealment, but by a candid statement of the facts.

Footnote 8: This could scarcely have taken place, as may be supposed, during his ministry at Einsiedeln.

Footnote 9: He seems to have made his first open attack on the whole system of pilgrimages in the year 1522, when at the invitation of Geroldseck, he preached once more at Einsiedeln, since, in this year, the 14 September fell on a Sunday, the time of the greater festival of the Consecration of the Angels. The government of Schwyz, which had hitherto favored it, now first opened its eyes.



CHAPTER SECOND

ZWINGLI IN ZURICH. BEGINNING OF THE REFORMATION. POLITICAL AND ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS UP TO THE FIRST RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE.

Just as Zwingli began his reformation in Switzerland, Martin Luther made his appearance in the German Empire. Many in those times tried to disparage the work of Zwingli by asserting that he only took the words out of Luther's mouth.—Learned men are since divided, some attributing the first step to the one and some to the other. As far as religion is concerned the question is of little consequence. The corruption of the church was the same in Switzerland as in Germany. Both were men of independent character. Each was developed in his spiritual peculiarities, according to his own nature and the custom of his people. But since Zwingli himself has set forth his relation to Luther, it may be worth our while to listen to his own language: "The great and powerful of this world have begun to proscribe and render odious the doctrine of Christ under the name of Luther; so that they, by whom it is preached, are called Lutherans. Thus it happened also to me. But before any one in our country ever heard the name of Luther, I had commenced to preach the Gospel in the year 1516, since I never went into the pulpit without placing before me the words, read in the Gospel of the mass for that day, in order to explain them from the Holy Scripture alone. In the beginning of the year, when I came to Zurich, no one yet knew anything of Luther, except that a book was published by him on indulgences, but it taught me little, for I had already been instructed concerning the fraud of indulgences by a disputation, which my beloved teacher, Thomas Wittenbach of Biel, held at Basel, although during my absence. Who then shall give me the nick-name of Lutheran? And when Luther's little book on the Paternoster appeared, and I had shortly before explained the same Paternoster in Matthew, I well knew, that many pious people suspected me of making that book and adding Luther's name to it. Who then could nick-name me a Lutheran? I point out this with all the circumstances, so that every one may learn, what the base intentions of several noblemen are, when they venture to tack the name of Luther to all, who preach the Gospel, so as thereby to make the doctrine odious to men, by giving you the name of a man, which is truly nothing else than a gross blasphemy, and a sure sign of a corrupt, godless conscience. Luther is, as it strikes me, an excellent soldier of God, who with great earnestness has looked through the Scripture as no one has ever done in a thousand years on earth, and with manly, undaunted spirit, has attacked therewith the Pope of Rome, as no one has ever done like him, as long as the Papacy has endured, yet without receiving abuse from others. But of whom is such an act? of God, or Luther? Ask Luther himself and, I well know, he will say, 'Of God.' Why then do you ascribe the doctrine of other men to Luther, when he himself ascribes it to God? Does Luther preach Christ? Then he does just what I do; although, God be thanked, by him a countless world more will be led to God, than by me and others, whose measure God makes greater or smaller, as he will. Nevertheless I will bear no name but that of my captain, Christ, whose soldier I am, who will give me office and pay as much as seems to him good. Now, I hope, every body will understand, why I do not wish to be nicknamed Lutheran; although I esteem Luther as highly as any man living." He proved by his actions that he spoke the truth, for when the Papal Bull of excommunication against Luther was already sent out, though not yet made known, he strove as far as it was in his power, first by representations to the acting attorney of the Legate in Zurich, and afterwards, by an anonymous publication, to hinder it as much as possible. So Zwingli stood then, acknowledging the high merit of the Saxon Reformer, supporting him, at his side; but now let us turn back to his national career.

The destructive influence of foreign mercenary service and pensions on the character of the people was no less visible in Zurich than in other States of the Confederacy, and the number of families, who were able to resist the charms of gold, displayed freely on all sides, was small, especially in the city. Indeed, the councils and people had, in the year 1513, executed a solemn oath against "Wages and Bribes," as it was called, and two years later, at the rumor of a high-handed breach of it, the people of the lakes rose up and by threats produced the flight of some of the bribed, and the dismissal and punishment of others; but the oath was taken on one day, uproar followed on the second, and then new transgressions on the third. When Zwingli came to Zurich, a suspicion, that had more or less foundation, rested on some of the first men in the government. This was increased by the notorious intrigues of the many foreign embassies, who were present, and their followers also not seldom helped on the demoralization of the city. In Bern the state of morals was better than in Zurich. "The Bernese"—wrote Sebastian Wagner to Zwingli—"appear to me not so morally corrupt as our people of Zurich. Their dress and their manners have a certain air of ancient Swiss simplicity." Bullinger also says, "Before the preaching of the Gospel Zurich was almost like Corinth in Greece. Much lewdness and frivolity prevailed, because diets were held there and many strangers flocked in, where the embassies of lords and princes were staying." George Mangolt of Constance tells us that he heard Zwingli himself say from the pulpit in the year 1520, that on a former visit to Zurich "he found so much wickedness there, that he silently resolved never to become a pastor in that city and prayed God to prevent it," and some years later, when reform began to gain ground, one of his friends, Anthony Dublet, wrote to him from Leyden, "I cannot tell you, what joy possessed me, what comfort stole into my heart, when I heard, that the first state of the Confederacy, your men of Zurich, till now, it seemed, born only for war and murder, more beasts than men, have laid aside their godless avarice joined to a godless cruelty, and in good faith pledged themselves to the simple Gospel and Christ, the Lord, the true Mediator. Truly, God is mighty, who can from such stones raise up children to Abraham!" The number of executions, one of which occurred nearly every month, was not able to keep down outbreaks of the lawless spirit, which ruled the nation, and the sentences of the judges on the bench not seldom bore marks of the rudeness of the age. In the second year of Zwingli's ministry, a witch was burnt, because she confessed on the rack, that she had sold herself to the Devil, had enjoyed connection with him, had ridden on a stick to Schaffhausen, and to an assembly of wicked spirits on the Heuberg, lamed cattle, and conjured up a frost and five hail-storms. New saints also were wantonly manufactured. The journeyman-tailors proclaimed St. Goodman as their patron, left off work, and went dancing about to the music of a drum. The authorities were compelled to interfere with sternness. All this shows the difficulties, that met the Reformer, on the part of the people, to whom he was sent.

And as it regards the government and the clergy his path was in no degree smoother. That some of the most distinguished members of the council were honestly and decidedly national in their feelings cannot be doubted. There is no evidence to show, that the burgomaster Mark Roist ever preferred his private advantage before the public weal, and his son Diethelm also, who sat next his father in the council, was an acknowledged man of honor. The deputy Rudolph Thumeisen had likewise maintained an unspotted reputation, and George Berger and Hans Effinger, even in Italy, among so many degraded characters, proved themselves incorruptible. Hans Edlebach, the treasurer Werdmueller, the banneret Schweizer, and of the younger men, Ulric Funk and Lavater, landvogt at Kyburg, enjoyed universal esteem. But besides these, there was another party, composed of men, who as the crowd says, meant well, though they were weak, and not inaccessible to the corrupting influences of the time, and hence undecided in moments of peril. The second burgomaster Schmied, his successor, the deputy Walder, and the senator Jacob Grebel may be pointed out as belonging to this class. On the other hand, there was yet a third class, who, were ready to desert any cause, and to help on and take part in any bold, disorderly proceeding. Accustomed to splendor and good-living, they had been reduced to poverty by idleness and prodigality, and hence were always in the market for the highest bidder. And yet by reason of their noble descent, and their extensive connections they were able to wield a considerable influence, for most of them were members of the aristocracy. Among these appear the G[oe]ldins, the Stapfers, the Landenbergs, some of the branches of Zieglers and the Rahns, and bold men, like Onofrion Setzstab, who were prepared for any undertaking. Zwingli could foresee in them all, his deadly, and at a later period perhaps his powerful enemies.

Among the clergy, the new people's priest was brought into direct intercourse with the canons, who elected and had control over him. Although they had his kind wishes, he yet resolved, to act freely according to his convictions, supported by a feeling of spiritual superiority. He could scarcely have rejected good counsels from the trustee Utinger, and the canons Erasmus Schmied, Walder, Bachofen and some others perhaps, who at the very first extended to him the hand of friendship. His beginning will appear more difficult when we consider, that they acted by authority, and whoever, supported by it, ventured to come out into more decided opposition against him, could be certain of a strong support. That he therefore had to look for cold respect, but no hearty co-operation from one portion of the circle of his ministerial associates, and secret dislike, yea, even burning hatred from another, might be inferred from the nature of the human passions and the circumstances of the case.

In this way, his position had already become suspicious to the higher, and much more to the lower clergy, on account of their general dislike. The reputation, which had preceded him, made the race of monks tremble, for by their degeneracy, they had fallen into deserved contempt with the mass of the people. Still, distinguished patrons, and adherents in public and private remained true to him. Zwingli could not at least expect skillful opponents from this quarter. Their gross ignorance left them at his mercy. But just in the very consciousness of his superiority lay a temptation, so much the stronger to rash and premature action, and by this the Reformer was threatened with the greatest danger. Thus affairs stood in Zurich, when Zwingli began to teach. He arrived there on the 27 December, 1518, and immediately presented himself to the convent of the canons. Here he was made acquainted with the duties of his office. Of the fourteen articles of direction, the two shortest were those relating to the pulpit. Twice in a year he had to read aloud longer passages from the Gospels, to preach on Sundays, to announce the festivals, and to notify the chapter of the so-called anniversaries, or to see that it was done by one of his two assistants. The other articles treated of his presence in the choir, obedience, style of dress, the reading of the mass, baptism, simony (the selling of benefices or obtaining them by fraud), but especially the care of the revenues of the chapter. All his duties were detailed therein with the greatest precision and minuteness. An article was afterwards added, which made it the duty of the people's priest not to leave the city during seasons of pestilence.

At this meeting Zwingli declared that he regarded preaching as his chief business. First of all, the people must be taught to understand the Holy Scriptures. So it had been in ancient times. But now nothing was heard, except solitary extracts, and even these in a foreign language. He did not pass by the remark, that the church thus orders it, but appealed on the contrary to its oldest statutes, and proved clearly the modern origin and ruinous consequences of the change.

What he had told the canons, he made known to the congregation on the first of January, 1519, and on Sunday the second, began to expound the Gospel of Matthew. It is easy to imagine, that, when he first came out in this unwonted manner, a large number of hearers would be collected to-gether; but to retain them, demanded an inward call, combined with a vast range of knowledge. The applause, which he drew forth, continually increased, for he knew how to attract both the high and the low. His sermons were life-pictures; and this gave them their charm, their power, their practical effect. The doctrine of Christ, designed for all nations and all ages, is so simple, and can be traced back to such a few principles, that by a mere repetition, paraphrase, or exclusive explanation of these only, the most dexterous orator, obliged to appear so often, must become dull and cold; but infinitely rich, and ever new, is life surveyed in the light of this same doctrine. The appearance of Zwingli, not only every week, but almost every day, was, for this reason, always welcome. Now, when the occasion called for it, there were representations of the fate of Jesus and of the apostles; and then again, narratives or pictures from Christian or Jewish, and sometimes even heathen history, events of the day, and praise or blame, which, without fear of offence, he wove into his discourses. "Take it not to yourself, O pious man!" he was accustomed to say. Indeed this mode of preaching raised an excitement nearly like the press in our times. Yet one difference between the old and the new teachers of the people is not to be overlooked. The former employed throughout the rule of the Gospel, and was concerned for the advancement of religious truth and not mere party views.

In proportion, meanwhile, as his knowledge of the people of Zurich and their circumstances increased, his sermons became more direct and pointed. If any one found fault with them, and it came to the ears of the preacher, he might be sure of an answer at the first opportunity. He did not hesitate to speak of them by name, and sometimes gave free play to his wit. Whatever was done, in convent-walls, bar-rooms, and even in the hall of the council, contrary to truth, reason and sound morals, was exposed without mercy from the pulpit. Just then, 1519, the throne of the German Empire became vacant by the death of Maximilian I. Intrigues in regard to the choice of a successor kept the diet assembled in Zurich, in constant employment. Envoys were repeatedly sent to Italy in the service of the Pope; France attempted once more to bring about a closer alliance, and towards the north, in spite of all the dissuasion of the allied powers, whole troops of deserters streamed to the banner of Duke Ulric of Wirtemberg, who, driven from his own capital, was engaged in war against the Swabian League. Amid these circumstances Zwingli took occasion to speak sometimes a word from the pulpit concerning politics. In this, the Gospel gave him less countenance, than the example of those Jewish prophets, who formerly made bold to bring the rule of kings under their examination, warning, or censure. But the times were no longer the same, and such a transgression of the bounds marked out by prudence, might well awaken concern in the bosoms of individual statesmen, who were not deserving of reproach.

And yet amid all, he still gained firmer footing in Zurich. Every man of unbiased feeling was obliged to confess, that he was inspired by religion, and had the welfare of the state as well as the church truly at heart. Moreover, it could not escape any one, familiar with history, that only the most decided measures can eradicate deep-seated corruption. The universal abhorrence of the traffic of indulgences came to his aid. The miserable Samson, after filling his pockets at Bern, had ventured to approach Zurich. Both the spiritual and secular authorities approved of the attacks, which Zwingli made against him. He was prevented from riding into the city. Even the Diet, to which he appealed, would have nothing to do with him, and went so far as to give Felix Grebel, who was setting out for Rome, a commission to lay complaints of him before the Pope. Immediately the monk received evidence of Leo's displeasure. "The thirteen cantons of the Confederacy"—was written to him—"have complained to His Holiness, that, in the promulgation of indulgences, you have fallen into errors, which it were out of place here to enumerate. The Holy Father is much astonished at this, and has given orders, to enjoin upon you in his name, to be subject in all things to the will of the aforesaid lords of the Confederacy. You shall remain there, for the execution of your commission, if they demand it, but in no way oppose them, if they desire you to return to Italy; for it is the will of the Holy Father, that you be entirely obedient to these lords, his well-beloved sons, in all things that can contribute to the welfare of their souls. You will also show this letter to them."

There was great rejoicing over this conclusion of the matter, especially on the part of the General-vicar of the Bishop of Constance, Faber, who had formerly been Zwingli's fellow-student in Vienna, and had since then kept up a certain intimacy with him. Indeed at Zwingli's first bold debut the general-vicar seemed to wish it still closer. "Why"—wrote he to him—"do you make so careful and sparing a use of my friendship? Why do you seem to mistrust me? Do not doubt! Begun under favorable auspices, it will last forever." Still later he invited him to his house, communicated his plans to him, asked his judgment concerning books, and proclaimed aloud his praise, especially where he knew that it would reach Zwingli's ears. But the Reformer looked deeper. Modesty was a prominent trait in his character from youth upwards. In the one appeared the love of the world, the struggle to elevate himself by any means in his power, the vain fancy that he could hood-wink others by the assumption of a mask; in the other, a strong love for truth. Nevertheless, Zwingli wished to avoid a breach with his former friend; and now, especially, when he and the bishop seemed not unwilling to favor further reforms. In reference to this he thus expresses himself in the letter to Valentine Compar already quoted from: "I have sent humble and dutiful letters to the Bishop of Constance, and pointed out to him publicly and privately and in every way, how he ought to apply himself to spreading abroad the light of the Gospel; and that it would redound to the honor of the whole race of Landenberg, if he were the first bishop, who would cause the Gospel to be freely preached; but I do not know how the weather has changed. They, who were so prompt before, have given me no answer, either by mouth, or pen, except, what they have done in general. But this was unlike the former, because (in consequence of it) the vicar let me understand orally and by writing, the Bishop would not endure too much urging from the Pope."

Amid such signs of a storm gathering on all sides, the plague broke out in Zurich towards the close of the summer of 1519. Spreading in almost all the neighboring countries, it reached Switzerland from the east, and penetrated into the secluded vallies of the mountains. Zwingli received the news of its near approach in a bath at Pfeffers, and, mindful of his duty as people's priest, immediately hurried back to Zurich. Seeing the peculiar danger, he sent several young men, who were living in his house, particularly his young brother Andrew, to their homes; but he himself unterrified began to discharge the duties of his office. The result, that was foreseen, followed. He also was laid upon a bed of sickness.

Not for harmony of rhythm, but for the deep inward feeling, which they manifest, the verses composed by him, after he had become convalescent, in two different periods of sickness, are truly remarkable. They show us the sources of his faith and activity, and a character, which even in view of what appeared to be his last hour, remained true to itself. An admirer of Zwingli in modern times, still keeping faithfully to the thoughts, has altered the language to that of our century, and in this form they may also be admitted here.[1]



In the beginning of sickness:

Lo! at my door Yet, if to quench Gaunt Death I spy; My sun at noon, Hear, Lord of life, Be thy behest, Thy creature's cry. Thy will be done!

The arm that hung In faith and hope Upon the tree, Earth I resign, Jesus, uplift— Secure of heaven— And rescue me. For I am thine!

When the disease gained strength.

Fierce grow my pains: In Satan's grasp, Help, Lord, in haste! On Hell's dark brink, For flesh and heart My spirit reels,— Are failing fast. Ah! must I sink?

Clouds wrap my sight No, Jesus, no! My tongue is dumb, Him I defy, Lord tarry not, While here beneath The hour is come! Thy cross I lie.

But his vigorous constitution surmounted the disease. About the end of autumn signs of convalescence began to appear, and he gave vent to his joy, at the prospect of restoration to life and activity, in the following stanzas:

My Father God, Though now delayed, Behold me whole! My hour must come, Again on earth Involved, perchance, A living soul! In deeper gloom.

Let sin no more It matters not My heart annoy, Rejoicing yet But fill it, Lord, I'll bear the yoke With holy joy. To Heaven's bright gate.

Thus sickness did not cause him to waver in his settled convictions, but filled him, on the contrary, with new courage. Yet the last poem shows us that a foreboding of a darker fate in the future was by no means strange to him. Indeed, not long after his recovery, he expressed himself still more clearly in a similar strain to his friend Myconius. After a glance at the dangers which surrounded Luther, he continued: "Whatever may befall me, I, already marked out as a victim, look for every thing evil from the clergy and the laity. I only pray Christ for courage to bear all with a manly heart, and that he may crush or strengthen me, his laborer, as may seem good to him, and, should I even fall under excommunication, I will think of Hilary, that learned and holy man, who was banished from Gaul to the deserts of Africa, and of Lucius, who was driven from the Roman See, and afterwards brought back with honor. I will not liken myself to such men, who though greater than I, still endured the greatest evils. But should one glory await me; may it be, to suffer shame for Christ! Yet, let him, who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."

That he could thus express himself to his best friend only by letter and no more see him in person at his side, belonged to the bitter trials of his life at this time. Myconius had just then accepted a call to the highest professorship in his native city Luzern, and Zwingli found himself deprived of half his support, "like an army"—he said—"one of whose wings is cut off in the presence of the enemy." This man, by reason of his moderation, had great influence with the clergy and the laity, and often became a useful mediator between them and the impetuous Zwingli. There was no one now to persuade the Reformer to use milder measures; and the complaints of the canons, summed up in a letter to his superior, the Provost Frei, only provoked him to a repulsive answer. These related chiefly to the imposition of tithes, the main source of revenue to the church, and an unjust burden in the eyes of the majority of the nation. The people's priest was expressly pledged by the statutes, to take care of the conscientious disposition of the tithe, and to insist upon it as a religious duty in his discourses. "Instead of which"—says the letter of the canons—"he denies the divine origin of the tax, and seems to regard it as tyranny, if it be strictly enforced. Is it any wonder that the people stick to him? He makes us odious to the laity, calls the monks 'theologians of the cowl,' and whatever he hears bad of them, he talks about it in the pulpit." It is almost certain, that the Provost, when Zwingli had conversed somewhat earnestly with him concerning these charges, was ashamed of the memorial of his subordinates. At least he cherished no hatred toward his person. On the contrary, some months later, he exerted his utmost influence to induce the chapter of the canons, without consulting a higher spiritual court, to simplify their worship and alter the breviary of the cathedral, "because it is impossible in this age to keep up any longer the multitude of holidays, ceremonies and ecclesiastical customs, which have been accumulating for centuries." In the same manner Zwingli was afterwards, upon his own request, admitted into the number of the canons.[2]

Thus far in Zurich the external condition of the church remained the same. The agitation was confined to the souls of men. In the mean time this was little felt beyond the limits of the canton. Neither the Confederates, nor the Bishop, nor the Pope, nor his legates found any occasion to interfere; and now again it was from political events, that the first general movement took its rise.

The Perpetual Peace was concluded by Francis I, in the hope of paving the way for a closer alliance with the Confederates. He needed and sought after their soldiers; he wished to take them away from his enemies. He, therefore, sent to them some of his men of business, who were best acquainted with our country and its inhabitants; lavished gold in abundance, and held in his employ some of the most active Swiss as recruiting officers. Among these, Albert von Stein, a Bernese, was the boldest and most indefatigable. He was well known in the canton of Zurich. He had relations and connexions there. His appearance always gave rise to an excitement, and in some districts of the country at least, the youth did not lend an unwilling ear to his voice. When by the election of Charles V. to the throne of the German Empire in the year 1519, the French King saw his hopes vanish, he redoubled his efforts to secure the wished for defensive alliance, and a favorable hearing first of all in Bern and Luzern. Most other places joined with them. Only Zurich, Schwyz, Basel, and Schaffhausen stood out against it. At length, in April 1521, the three latter were also won over. On the 5th of May, the treaty was subscribed in Luzern by twelve states and all the places subject to them, and at the same diet the resolution was passed, to make a last general endeavor, to prevent Zurich from withdrawing by herself.

It is mentioned by Bullinger and all his contemporaries that Zwingli spoke out decidedly against this treaty from the pulpit and whenever he found opportunity; and they seem to infer from the strength and clearness of papers concerning it issued from Zurich, that he had the chief hand in their composition. But the Confederates worked against him with just as much zeal. Not only did envoys from Bern, Luzern, Uri, Unterwalden, Zug and Solothurn, along with the French ambassador Lameth, present, in the name of all the others, petitions, expressions of regard, and even hints at grievous consequences in case of a refusal, but written letters came also from the rural districts and congregations, demanding a subscription of the treaty. Albert von Stein and others like him, were seen traveling repeatedly from place to place throughout the canton.

Under these circumstances the government resorted to a natural expedient. It declared that it must first hear the voice of the people, and then the great council would decide.

Members of the council were sent into all the bailiwicks, to lay before the assembled commons, first the treaty itself, and then, a written explanation of its several articles, and ask their patient examination of it, and also a communication of their views, in writing, to the government. With the league and its significance to the Confederacy the more circumstantial history of the country begins. On the contrary, the real voice of the people ought to be plain to us from the answers of the commons. The records may be quoted in the true-hearted language of the time, and a beginning made with Winterthur.

"On notice brought by our worthy lords, the knight Felix Grebel, Younker Conrad Engelhard and Master Henry Wegmann, who as ambassadors of our gracious, loving lords, the burgomaster, and the Small and Great Councils of the city of Zurich, have sufficiently informed, by written instructions, my lords, the Schultheiss, and the Small and Great Councils of the city of Winterthur concerning the alliance—it is true: my lords, the Schultheiss, and the Small and Great Councils, would have thought advice from them unnecessary, since they have already given it to our lords, the burgomaster, and the Council of the city of Zurich, by their deputy and member. But since they could not be excused and found themselves included with others in the letters of instruction, they have sat upon the business and framed an answer to be given to the twelve cantons, in the hope that it may serve to further peace and unity. And the humble, earnest answer and prayer of my lords, the Schultheiss and the Small and Great Council, is, that some way may be devised, so to arrange matters, that our lords, the burgomaster and the Council of the city of Zurich, may be and remain one with the twelve cantons and the other Confederates, with the further offer, that, if it happen so or not, they will none the less act, as becomes pious, honest people, and place their lives and property at your disposal."

"The four Wards, together with Wipkingen, Seebach, Schwamendingen, and Oerlikon, also Wiedikon and Wollishofen, give answer to the paper read before them concerning the French alliance: first of all, that they thank my lords for their distinguished honor and friendship in laying open before them their cares and trials; therefore, be it their general will and opinion, and urgent desire and prayer, that my lords will be very slow to enter into union and alliances with the French, as well as other foreign princes and lords, since they would have nothing at all to do with the French aforesaid. For each honest man can scarcely raise children enough to send to the French King. Besides, be it also their desire, that the treaties and what they grant, be maintained among the Confederates; and thereto, as pious, true people and subjects, they pledge their lives and property and all else, that God has given them."

"An assembly at Hirslanden and Riespach have with one accord resolved on the cross, that they fervently, earnestly, and with the highest zeal, thank our lords of Zurich for their pious, friendly notice, and for telling them so truly the misery, troubles and dangers of the alliance with the king, brought about and subscribed to by the twelve cantons, and therefore, earnestly beseech our lords aforesaid to remain firm in their honest purpose and intention, and give the go-by to all princes and lords; then will they also pledge to them their souls, honor, lives and property without any reserve, since they would have nothing at all to do with this alliance, as far as lies in their power."

"A general assembly convened at Zollikon have, with great determination and unanimity, given answer, that they are well-pleased with the notice of our lords and their opinion, and that their reason is too weak to praise enough the pious, honest resolution of our lords; therefore they pressingly and earnestly pray our dear lords aforesaid to hold fast to their good resolution and not let themselves be moved therefrom by anybody, and not enter into this French alliance; then will they all together and without exception pledge their souls, honor, lives and property to our lords and stand by them till death."

"A general assembly at Kuessnacht, with one accord make answer: Your community has been sore wondered at and annoyed by the other confederates, who have brought themselves and their posterity into a danger, which will last for a long while, and may result in great damage to their people and cantons. Yet as for all, so the entire assembly with one accord, and with the greatest zeal, thank our lords for the true, friendly commands, brought by our two lords Walter Hans Berger and Thomas Spruenglin of the Small and Great Council, and also for the pious, honorable, just and Christian resolution, to suffer grievance themselves rather than mischief should befall us and our posterity in the course of time. Therefore, the assembly offer the earnest and friendly prayer to our lords, that they will stick to their resolution to give the go-by to all lords, so that they who belong to them can remain unhampered, and every father also be aided by his sons, if he has need to use them for himself. In this, the entire assembly dares to pledge to our lords their lives and property and all that they have, wishing them also to help to punish their own sons, when they will not remain true, and act in a rebellious manner. The assembly also desire our gracious lords, when troublesome persons stray into their city or canton, and act in an unbecoming way, striving to seduce the young men, that they will drive them off by authority, to prevent greater disturbance, which might arise from their overbearing dispositions."

Meila replied in a similar strain; and Maenedorf likewise.[3]

"A meeting at Staefa has agreed on this: Because, for several years past it has unfortunately happened, that many honest people have been lost and killed, it ought to be plain now, that it came by treachery, and by means of the same lights, which burn in one confederacy at this day. Therefore they agree that these lights ought to be put out. For such cause it is to be feared, if our people unite with the people of the twelve cantons, that they will be brought to dishonor by them, for it is the common talk, that the twelve cantons wish to appoint the Duke of Wurtemberg, and, if it then go well or ill with the Confederates, that it would be little to the credit of our lords of Zurich and their honest people (it would not redound to their honor to have separated themselves). Therefore, they do not the less think, that the alliance would be neither godly nor right and altogether against the welfare of the soul, and they beseech our lords to withdraw themselves therefrom, if they can, and set the hearts of their honest people at rest, when they can bring it about. Then will they pledge to you their lives and property as far as they can. The assembly at Staefa would commend themselves to your regard, since they more than others will have to meet with reproaches."

"A general assembly in the department of Grueningen have unanimously resolved to give this answer to our envoys, saying: Worthy lords, to come to us for counsel was not needful, for the reason that we own you as our lords and superiors and willingly esteem you as such. Hence we ought to be rightly obedient to you in all your plans, and cheerfully aid you. But since you desire to know our wishes and feelings, great praise and honor are given on all sides to our gracious, loving lords, who have hitherto pleased us so well, for their excellent management; and it gives us great satisfaction, that you have so faithfully remembered your own, and are not willing, for the sake of money, that they should be bound; and we beseech you by the Most High God to stick to your resolution and give the complete go-by to foreign lords, and foreign wars and foreign money, as clearly shown in the contents of the paper concerning its removal, sworn to, years ago, in Zurich and all its dependencies. So we hope it will be adhered to and followed up. But if any one acts contrary thereto, or has acted, then you, our lords, well know, what punishment is due to him, and therefore we desire that you will consider the profit and honor of our country: so will we pledge to you our lives, honor, goods and everything else, God has given us, as a true child to his father; and will stand by you, like pious, honest people. Further, it is our urgent petition, that by some means you will drive Albert von Stein and others, who serve the French for pay, from your city and canton, so that honest folk be not corrupted and good comrades brought to sorrow, for it would not be to the credit of the city and our lords to have an honest man and his children stirred up to sedition and led astray. And it is also our prayer and desire, that our lords warn the several cantons of the dangers of such an alliance. And to this and all the articles, as here written, and whatever else it may please our lords to add, the honest people of this bailiwick, pledge their lives and goods, as poor folks ought to do to their lords and masters."

"Greifensee is not at all pleased with the alliance, since the up-shot of it would be, to make the king of France our master instead of our gracious, loving lords of Zurich."

Duebendorf, Dietikon and Rieden declare themselves in the same way, thanking, agreeing and resolving; H[oe]ngg likewise, the department of Old Regensperg and New Regensperg, Neuamt; the Schultheiss, Council and general assembly at Buelach; the burgomaster, councils and general assembly of the department of Eglisau; the bailiwicks of Maschwander, Freiamt and Hedingen; Waedenschweil also, and Richtenschweil with the addition: "If our dear lords thus hold fast and keep always in the right way, it is our prayer, though they have heretofore eaten and drunk with the French, that they still drive them off; and that it be done by the Councils in the city and in the country, and finally, that they maintain the hereditary union of His Imperial Majesty, all as they have written."

Horgen adds this request: "Even though it should result in suffering and trial to our lords, to expel the foreign and German French from their city and canton, yet they would then be, neither French nor Imperial, but good Zurichers and Confederates."

"A general assembly at Thalweil has resolved firstly, that the paper which has reached them from Luzern is in no wise acceptable, for they do not believe that such a letter has been prepared honestly and at the command of delegated ambassadors, lords and rulers, but suspect that it has been hatched in corners and is chiefly the production of the German French. Accordingly it is their will and opinion, and very urgent prayer, that our lords will stick to their praiseworthy design not to enter into alliances and treaties either with the French or other foreign lords and ever boldly keep to their honest way—and then, that judgment and authority be immediately exercised, in the city of our lords, against certain German French, who travel about here and there, using haughty and improper language in order to stir up your own and other people—it is the friendly petition of this whole assembly that my lords will drive off such seditious characters, and should this not be done, persons can be found perhaps, who will themselves undertake to drive them off and restore quiet, for the reason that heretofore and now every disturbance has arisen from these German French—so will they place body and blood at the disposal of my lords."

Kilchberg, Altorf, in the upper part of the county of Kyburg, and Kloten give thanks and vote decidedly in favor of declining.

Upper Winterthur, having heard the paper read, resolved to return this answer: "Our lords have hitherto acted honorably and well in other similar affairs, hence, in good hope they will do so in the future, we confide in our lords as honorable men. Therefore it is their humble prayer and desire, that, as far as may be, our lords will not separate themselves from the Confederacy, but continue one with it; so will they ever act as dutiful subjects and pledge to our lords their lives and property and whatever else God has given them."

"The bailiff, council and general assembly at Elggau thus answer, that, not having understanding and skill enough to speak and advise in this or in matters of much less moment, they leave the business in the hands of our lords; yet it is their prayer, that our lords hold the Confederacy in friendship and favor, but none the less will they pledge to our lords their lives and fortunes."

"The burgomaster, bailiff, council and general assembly at Stein vote for declining the alliance, since, if it should be accepted, they would be afraid lest it should prove a great disadvantage and injury to the inhabitants of Stein and cause them sensible loss if war should arise therefrom, namely in their tolls, licenses, market-monies, quarter-dues, pasturing and watches, for lying on the borders they would have to bear the first brunt, and hence wish our lords to care for them in the most faithful manner."

Upper and Lower Stammheim and Marthalen leave the business in the hands of their lords.

"Andelfingen has framed this answer: As our lords have hitherto managed well for us, they are wise and prudent enough to act in this affair. Yet finally, they pray that our lords may remain in peace and quiet and continue one also with the common confederates, and, in case it may be reasonably effected, that our lords do not separate themselves from the Confederacy, desiring which, they place at their disposal their lives and property, and will be found as faithful and obedient subjects."

The opinion of the citizens was altogether the same as that of the great majority of the country-people. Everywhere the heads of corporations were commissioned to make this known to the Council, so that it was resolved in the end, after deliberating a long time yet with little opposition, to give a decided refusal to the alliance. But the answer was sent to the twelve cantons and Francis I., couched in moderate language, that Zurich would honestly hold to the Perpetual Peace with France, faithfully maintain all the treaties sworn with the Confederates, and not separate herself from them but place life and property at their disposal, that she also begged for the continued good will of France and allegiance to the Confederation on the part of the Swiss; and yet at the same time was firmly resolved henceforth to renounce the pensions of princes and foreign alliance, trusting in the help of God.

From now on every public voice in favor of foreign mercenary service was compelled to silence, and its avowed or secret promoters hid their resentment or left the canton. In fact the most notorious among them threw up their citizenship in Zurich. But the entire party of those, who remained in their native country, conceived the fiercest hatred toward Zwingli. "He was blamed," says Bullinger, "most of all for having prevented the union by his preaching and divided a brave confederacy. The distinguished pensioners and soldiers, as well as others, who had heretofore run after him and praised his sermons, now reviled Zwingli as a heretic. Many, to whom religion had never any special charms before, now pretended a great interest on its behalf, saying, they would defend the old, true faith against the heretic Zwingli, yet the secret of their zeal was not in their faith, but in the bags of the royal exchequer. Hence there arose among the other confederates a strong hostility against Zurich and abuse and slander against Zwingli." Still the cause of the people and the uprightness and fidelity, which maintains an oath, triumphed in the end.

The ground-pillar of all national prosperity is confidence, faith on the part of the people in their government, and on that of the government in the sound and just sense of the people. No constitution or laws, sacred as they may be in the eyes of the honorable citizen, no so-called policy, which rests on a system of deceptions, no rude strength of a dominant party, can ever supply the place of faith—faith, which alone inspires to nobler action. Hence the necessity in the state for religion also, which is the same as faith purified In every wise government therefore it will be a chief concern that the religion of the people be a sound one, i.e. one that will be justified by its practical results, for in regard to these only can we look for unanimity of opinion.

Christianity, freed from all the unwarranted additions with which national prejudice, narrowness and love of spiritual domination have striven for centuries to disfigure it, has no reason to shun this trial, out of which it can only come forth more glorious and divine. Of this Zwingli had been fully persuaded by his zealous study of the Holy Scriptures. Hew naturally the idea rose in his mind, to make this trial before the people themselves, who had hitherto been bound in the fetters of a religion, which addressed them only by authority, instead of before councils exclusively composed of clergymen and lords! Still it was a great venture. The weakened eye, when suddenly brought forth from the darkness, is blinded even by the purest light; the healthy one alone can endure the splendor of the sun. And yet upon this very power in a decided majority of his countrymen Zwingli relied, and the memorials, which we have just read, might have fully convinced him that sound sense was really at hand. But ought this claim to be preferred in political matters, and not in ecclesiastical also? Thus much is clear, that from this time forward Zwingli's endeavors took this direction.

If the bishop would deny him a hearing or condemn him contrary to justice, he intended to appeal not to ultra-montane Rome, ignorant of the German language and the German character, but to the judgment of his own nation, to the decision of an independent government entitled to act in the case, and the rule should be the Holy Scriptures, an unassailable code of laws acknowledged by all. And thus the fundamental idea of the Reformed Church naturally arose, which in its development has been more clearly defined rather than corrupted,—limited rather than extended. To follow out and discuss this subject is not our business; hence we turn back to Zwingli.

He had now preached for three whole years in Zurich, and the agitation, as we have seen, was certainly great. Still no one had as yet violated existing church-usages or actually assailed them. No opportunity for public interference on the part of the temporal and spiritual authorities had yet occurred. Indeed it was the policy of the Nuncio to keep in with the influential Reformer, since, as the deputy of a prince then at war with France, he was proscribed by the other twelve cantons, and could only hope for protection in neutral Zurich, where he anxiously sought it.

During Lent in the year 1522 several individuals ventured for the first time to transgress the episcopal ordinance in regard to the eating of meat, in a dissimilar manner it is true. Christopher Froschauer, a printer, having in the course of his business visited the Frankfort Fair, and become thus acquainted with Luther's writings and a witness of the spiritual awakening in Germany, had, when compelled by labor severer than usual, partaken along with his workmen of more strengthening food than was allowed, yet without concealment on the one hand and without seeking publicity on the other. For quite different reasons William Roubli, an outlawed clergyman from Basel, whom Zwingli himself has styled a rash and foolish babbler, and Hans Gunthelm, an impudent deserter, had not only done the same with great parade and loose talk, but had attempted also to induce other families to join them. Gladly did Zwingli's enemies seize this opportunity to lodge complaints before the Council. An investigation was held and Froschauer defended himself with dignity. The Council desired the opinion of the chapter of canons, the three people's priests in the two cathedrals and at the church of St. Peter, and thus the battle began in the very midst of the authorities. The parties were nearly balanced, more talent on the one side, greater numbers on the other.

The result was an affirmation of the rights of the Pope and the bishops, and a feeble explanation, which left the government free scope to act for itself—and it all ended in a simple reprimand to the transgressors. But Zwingli's opponents were by no means satisfied. They applied now to the bishop, and a few days after, Melchior Vattli, suffragan of Constance, John Wanner, cathedral-preacher, and Doctor Brendlin appeared with an embassy to the chapter of canons. At this very first interference of the high ecclesiastical dignitaries, the affair took a direction, which it retained in every step that followed. "What Zwingli himself has to say in regard to this event deserves careful attention.[4]

"When"—he writes to his friend, the canon Erasmus Fabricius, then pastor at Stein—"on the seventh of April the ambassadors, of whose approach I had already been apprized, had reached Zurich, I wished much to learn what their purpose might be. But night had set in, before my faithful assistant, Henry Luethy, came with the news, that the notarius (as he is called) had an order to summon all the priests to attend early in the morning in the hall of the convent. I esteemed it a good omen, that the business was to be opened by a courser so dull and limping. Scarcely had we assembled on the morrow, when the bishop began in a fashion, which I will portray further on in the conduct of affairs before the Council. The whole speech was violent, threatening and haughty, although he carefully abstained from any personal allusions to myself and even avoided calling me by name. His declamation over, I stepped out, thinking it unbecoming and pusillanimous not to neutralize an address, that might do so much injury, especially because I could perceive by their smothered sighs, and read in the paleness of their faces the strong impression it had made on several priests, who shortly before had been won over to the Gospel and were not yet firm as rocks. Concisely and boldly I replied to the suffragan, in what sense and spirit, let the valiant ones, who have heard me, judge. The most important part of it you will learn meanwhile, when I come to describe the session of the Council. The speakers withdrew from this wing, as though he were beaten or put to flight, and hastened to another field of combat, namely the hall of the Council, where, as some of the members informed me, they brought it forward, likewise sparing my name, yet with the declaration, lest I might perhaps be called in, that they had nothing to do with me. After a short discussion, it was resolved to have as full a meeting of the Great Council as possible on the following day, and also to guard against the admission of the people's priests, as there was no dependence to be placed on them and their language, so unexceptionable, could not be contradicted. Through the whole day I tried my utmost to gain admission for us, but in vain. The burgomasters refused me, falling back on the resolution of the Council. I was now compelled to retire, but besought Him, who hears the sighing of the prisoner, that he would not leave the truth helpless, and that he would protect His Gospel, which he had commissioned me to preach. On the ninth the Great Council came together. 'It is unfair,' many were heard to say, 'if the people's priests are not allowed to appear;' but the Small Council protested, holding firmly to its resolution. Nevertheless the vote was carried against its protest, and the majority decided in favor of our presence with the privilege at the same time of making replies, if we should find it necessary. Thus, as Livy says, the greater number did not overcome the better; no, the greater and the better triumphed. Not in the least degree do I permit myself to censure the Small Council for this; no: I wish only to show how powerless intrigues are. Now, after the ambassadors had been introduced, they suffered us also to enter, the bishops of Zurich, Henry Engelhart, doctor and people's priest at the cathedral of the Virgin—Rudolph R[oe]schli of St. Peter, and me Ulric Zwingli.

"After the exchange of salutations and the episcopal benediction the suffragan began with a voice so mild that I never heard a sweeter, so that if head and heart had only been in unison, Orpheus and Apollo would have been obliged to yield to him in grace, and Demosthenes and the Gracchi in eloquence. In vain would I attempt to communicate to you the discourse entire. It was confused and much too long. Meanwhile I had noted down the chief points in my tablets. It is greatly to be deplored—said he—that there are some who teach in a perverse and rebellious spirit that we are no longer bound to observe human precepts and ceremonies. Thus not merely the civil laws, but the faith of all Christendom also must go to the ground. Yet ceremonies are a manuduction (he employed this word, instead of the German 'introduction,' before men, who did not understand Latin) to virtue. Indeed ceremonies are a source (he afterwards denied having used the word) of virtues. We may teach that fasting is superfluous, because some have dared to separate themselves from other Christians and from the Church by the eating of meat. We may appeal to the Holy Scriptures whilst they contain no direct expressions bearing on the subject, go against the decrees and Councils of the Holy Fathers of the Church, against most venerable usages, which without the aid of the Holy Ghost could not possibly have endured so long, for Gamaliel once said: If the work be of God, it will stand. Then he reminded the Council that outside of the Church no one can be saved, and as though he had not talked enough, he came back once more to ceremonies. At last he concluded with a neat peroration and rose up to retire along with his companions.

"Sir Suffragan—said I, (I, peasant, ought to have used 'Gracious Lord')—may it please you and your associates to stay, till I have justified myself in my own name and in that of my colleagues? He replied—We have no commission to dispute. I do not intend to dispute but to utter publicly and freely what I have hitherto taught in presence of these honest men, before you, learned scholars and ambassadors present with a commission from the bishop, so that it will be deemed the more worthy of belief if you yourself are obliged to find it true; if not, then let the contrary happen. We have not—said the saffragan—spoken against you, hence there is no need of your vindication. You have indeed kept back my name; but your speech was none the less aimed at me. As the combatant in the water said to his antagonist, you say to me: My blow is not aimed at you, it is aimed at the fish. For this reason you were not to use my name, because you could thus charge me, who am called Zwingli, with the greatest crime in the safest manner. Whilst we were contending in this style, the burgomaster Roist tried to induce the deputies from Constance to give us a hearing. The saffragan answered, that he knew very well whither this thing would lead; that Ulric Zwingli was too violent and rude, so that he could not meddle with him honorably and keep the path of moderation. By what then—I asked—have I ever injured you? Or according to what law must I, an innocent man, zealous for the cause of Christ, be so heavily and bitterly assaulted, and yet not be allowed to defend myself? Indeed—or do I deceive myself? I would have ventured to hope, that the Bishop of Constance, though opposition to the pure doctrines of the Gospel had found foothold elsewhere, before he took the words of others instead of mine, would make himself acquainted with the whole affair, especially through you, whom he has now chosen as his legates on account of your learning. What would you do if in your absence I would turn to the Council and refuse to hear you as judges? And now, since I wish your presence so much, in order to be able to give in an account, how dare you deny me? The deputies repeated what they had said before. If I wished to lay anything before the bishop, in regard to his doctrine, I could write to him. Now—said I—if no arguments can persuade you to show me this favor, I beg you by our common faith, our common baptism, for the sake of Christ our Lord and Saviour, if you durst not listen as ambassadors, do it then as Christians. Here arose an indignant murmur among the councillors and at last, being exhorted by the burgomaster, and feeling themselves the unworthiness of the opposition, they took possession of their former places."

The people's priest began now by referring to the internal harmony of Zurich and her peaceful position toward foreign countries. He asked whether these could be a result of seditious doctrines, and such especially as were derived from the Gospel, which commands us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and obey our rulers? He showed what human ordinances were, and denied that he rejected them without discrimination. Their beneficial tendency ought to be proven, and they, who enjoin them, ought to observe them also. He had never encouraged a violation of the rules of fasting, but rather advised them to be kept, in order to spare the weak. Yet he esteemed such restraint pharisaical and in conflict with the letter and spirit of the Gospel. Vattli was about to make objections, when Engelhart drew out his Greek Testament, and, having opened it at the beginning of the fourth chapter of the first epistle to Timothy, handed it to Zwingli. Zwingli translated the passage. Then the suffragan said nothing on this point, but exhorted the Council to respect the decrees of the Fathers and their usages, and not to sunder themselves from the Church. "Do not suffer yourselves to be persuaded, my dear lords"—replied Zwingli—"that anything permitted by us can produce such an effect. Among all people, he who does righteousness and loves God, he who believes the words of Jesus and follows Him, belongs to his Church."—This was succeeded by many speeches on one side and the other, which gradually became so warm that the burgomaster dissolved the meeting. But a unanimous resolution was passed by the Great Council, to request the Bishop, so to influence the highest authorities that by means of a council of learned men and synods an opportunity should be afforded for explanation and reply in regard to the point in dispute. The people's priests were to be exhorted meanwhile to enforce obedience to the rules of fasting.

By this important event, happening in the midst of the highest authorities of the canton, the fire, which had hitherto existed only in scattered sparks was now suddenly fanned into a clear blaze. The laity and priests, the bishop, the government and even the Confederates took steps, which compelled Zwingli, in the course of the same year to vindicate himself on all sides, to buckle on his armor for the conflict and declare himself openly.

The canon Hoffman, stirred up by the legation of the Bishop, was the first to take the field. A good scholar of the old type, pure in his morals, in former years a frank and fearless orator of the people, devoted, as was natural for an old man, to the forms in which he had moved during a long life, he esteemed it a duty to defend them, and that so much the more, because he was summoned to the task by the other clergy. He was lacking, however, in two particulars. According to his own confession he had heard Zwingli but seldom. Still he received as truth what was reported to him about his sermons, and boasted too much of his riper experience against a man scarce forty years old. Making skillful use of these weak points, the armed warrior advanced the more resolutely against the rusted weapons of his antagonist. The old man could not maintain his position. At a later period he once more regained his courage, and certainly it must be said to his honor, that, though vanquished, he did not shun the knightly combat.

With great bluntness, and not to a limited circle of associates like Hoffman, the monks poured out their wrath from the convent-pulpits. The more tasteless, silly, and ridiculous their revilings were, the more did they expose themselves to the edge of Zwingli's keen argument and wit. Without mercy he fell upon these people, among whom, as far as the monasteries of the city are concerned, not a single one is known, to whose praise anything can be said. We need only read his writings to see how, dealing blow upon blow, he pursued them into every corner, and brought out the truth in the clearness of sunlight against their loose harangues. But then, in the pride of victory he suffered himself to run perhaps into an extreme, which did not comport well with the earnestness of the pulpit or of controversy conducted in a dignified manner, and zealous use was made of this fact to his reproach.[5]

Remarkable phenomena began to develop themselves from this pulpit-battle against the monks. Hot-headed characters, old and young, impelled sometimes by a conviction of the truth, but oftener by conceit and a desire to make a noise in the world, interrupted the awkward preachers in the midst of their discourses, and accused them of teaching error and even lies. A tumult arose in the church. It might easily become a theatre of dishonorable strife. The Council arrested several of the most violent of these stormers and forbade all such disorderly behavior in future. Already the monks were in hopes they had won the day; but Zwingli did not suffer them to escape, and probably at his suggestion the preachers of the three orders were unexpectedly summoned to the house of the provost, where with a deputation from the government, the burgomaster Roist at its head, the three people's priests, the commander Schmied and all the canons were assembled, and Zwingli, being called on, began to read aloud from a written document to each individual, the errors which he had taught. They were greatly amazed, and denied some things, but admitted others. An attempt was now made to have the chapter of canons appointed as umpire and mediator, but Zwingli instantly opposed it with all his might: "I"—said he—"am bishop and pastor in Zurich; to me the care of souls is committed, and I have given my oath thereon, the monks not. They should hear me, not I them. Indeed, if they ever again preach lies, I will mount the pulpit and rebuke them publicly." Only in the conviction of his own strength durst he venture to use such language. Only their felt weakness struck his opponents dumb. Dr. Engelhart and the Commander Schmied also sided with Zwingli. The Councils saw themselves obliged to follow the men of learning, and the burgomaster concluded the act with the words: "Yes, Masters of the Orders, this is also the opinion of my colleagues, that henceforth vi u must preach the Gospel, Paul and the Prophets, and let Scotus, Thomas[6] and such stuff lie."

The monks, compelled now to restrain themselves somewhat in the pulpit, renewed their attacks the more stubbornly in private houses, confessionals, drinking-gardens and wherever else they could do so with safety. From Bunden, Constance, Luzern and Schwyz reports of their calumnies reached him through his friends. Nothing pained him so much as that he should be charged with distorting the Gospel. "Though I had firmly resolved"—so he says in a sermon—"not to answer those, who invented stories as to how many children were born to me this year, and as to how much money I got from princes and lords, yet I never could bear that such slander should be believed concerning me. Any one may say what he pleases about my morals, but blasphemy I will not tolerate." But then, the best citizens of Zurich roused to the highest pitch of enthusiasm clung to him, especially the younger generation, who trooped around him like a body-guard; and besides these, friends sprang up beyond the canton on all sides, who came out boldly, or watched over him in secret, were active on his behalf, and sympathized in his struggles. In Luzern, Myconius and the canon Kilchmeier advocated his cause even against statesmen and envoys of the Confederacy with danger to themselves, holding out as long as it was possible. In St. Gall, the same thing was done by Vadianus, who had returned from Vienna and settled in his native city; in Constance by the prebendary Wanner, who, when a member of the Episcopal embassy, had been won over by the weight of his arguments; in Bern by the Franciscan, Sebastian Meier, and in Freiburg by the youthful organist Kother, who expressed his love for him in verses after the manner of a capuchin-sermon. Martin Saenger, a native of Graubunden, sent him a poem against his and Luther's enemies, from the fictitious pen of the Abbot von Pfaeffers, with the request that he would revise and prepare it for publication. He also received an evidence of faithful friendship in an anonymous letter of a more serious kind, written half in Latin and half in Greek. "Keep a special guard over thy health and life"—so it runs—"for it is high time. Verily thou art everywhere begirt by snares and spies; sharp poison is ready for thee. The knaves durst no longer rail against thee openly. But in secret they are plotting to mingle poisonous mushrooms with thy food, as was done for the Emperor Claudius. Hence take as much care of thyself as possible. If thou art hungry, then eat at home bread, which thine own maid has baked. Abroad thou canst eat nowhere with safety. There are persons living within your walls, who will venture everything to destroy thee. Who they are, from what oracle I have learned their design, I cannot write thee; but it utters more truth than that of the Delphian Apollo; yet it were a gross sin in a priest to give names either by mouth or pen. Thou art sharp-sighted, and able to guess with ease, whence that has come, which, out of brotherly love, could not be withholden from thee. Preserve thyself for thine own sake, for thy followers, for the cause of Christ, whose Gospel is proclaimed by you with such blessed results. Whoever I may be, I am thine. Thou wilt find out hereafter." This was the case. The writer was Michael Hummelberg, preacher at Ravensburg. Of the same import were the warnings of others, to guard the approaches to his dwelling, to take care, if he should be called from home, the breaking of his windows by stones hurled at them, and the attack, which was actually made one night on his assistant as he was about to go forth at the feigned call of a sick person, instead of the people's priest, who was expected by the bandits.

How little power all this had to frighten Zwingli from the course he had marked out for himself, is seen in a yet bolder step, which he took the same year—the sending of a petition to the Bishop of Constance in the Latin language and to the governments of the Confederacy in German, asking them to approve the marriage of priests. No proof is needed to show that the noblest endeavor of man is after self-rule, spiritual purification, the attainment of the supernatural. A few rarely-gifted individuals press up this steep path with ease; by far the greater number follow slowly and with toil. Before deliverance from the fetters of earth, no one achieves a complete victory. This world is a school not the home of perfection. They, who are nearest the goal, know best how far they are yet distant from it. The following reflections are suggested by this subject.

The statesman, zealous for the good of his country, as well as the thinker, busied with the higher interests of mankind in general, must both acknowledge in the difference and mutual wants of the sexes, in their union by marriage, the chief source of all civilization, the ground-pillar of all domestic, social and political well-being. Far be it from us to oppose merely natural impulses to purity of heart, endeavors after improvement, struggles for self-dominion; nay rather, marriage requires and makes all these the more easy. What victories over ease and self, what offerings of renunciation do not our duties to husbands, wives and parents demand? They are only the purer and nobler, because they spring from love, not compulsion. Still more—it is proved by all experience, that just in proportion as the marriage tie is worthily apprehended and held sacred, the heart is at the same time expanded with love for all men, and the sharing of common joys and sorrows in our own families teaches us to understand and share those of others also.

Hence Christianity has declared marriage to be pure and by no means placed him, who feels called to it by God and nature, below another, who has the power or inclination to remain independent in order to labor for the good of his brethren. The latter ought to be highly esteemed, but the choice left free to each one according to his own will, or necessity.

This is not the place to quote the passages, in which the Holy Scriptures speak of marriage, even in the case of preachers of the Gospel, the shepherds of the congregation. They are too numerous, too decided, too striking for any one to overthrow or weaken. Laying hold of these, Zwingli had drawn up the papers just mentioned. Ten of his associates signed with him the one addressed to the Bishop. Others approved of the thing, but did not yet venture to avow it openly. The concluding words of the memorial to the Confederates will here exhibit the character of the author in the clearest light:

"These and many other reasons, derived from the Holy Scriptures, have moved us, O honorable Lords, to petition Your Worships in regard to marriage, which we design to enter into, yea to make known several among us, who have entered into it, that Your Worships may not be adverse thereto, seeing the great scandal thus given to all men; seeing our wounded consciences, with which we daily attend to the administration of God's Word and the sacraments, though everywhere our continual weakness is acknowledged and no peace is left to us. Therefore we exhort Your Worships as our Fathers (for we have all sprung from one glorious Confederacy, and are yours and of yours); by God, our Creator, who made us all of one clay, so that we recognize each other as brethren; by the blood of Jesus Christ, which he shed for all alike, so that no one can claim for himself more than another; by the Holy Ghost, who is God, and in all his illuminations and inspirations has never forbidden marriage to the priesthood, but rather enjoined it: Take pity on us your true and willing servants, so that, though it be not sinful for us before God, it may not be shameful for us before men. And since we have been faithfully devoted to your honor all our lives long at home and abroad, grant us deliverance from this disgrace of unchastity, that we may lead honorable lives among you. For it were indeed unkind, if they, whose honor we have increased, would not at once place us in an honorable position, not only before friends and associates, but strangers also. Not in one hour of calamity only, have we shared love and sorrow with you, and ever adhered to you as good, honest people. We have not been prompted to bring this before Your Worships by a spirit of wantonness, but by a desire after pious, conjugal purity. For had it been by wanton desires, these might have been better gratified by having no wives. We also know well that troubles, cares and labors attend the married estate. We know well how very easily we can, any day, abandon the women with whom we have taken up. Therefore it has not been suggested by wanton desires, but by shame and love for the souls, committed to our care, that they do not become eternally polluted. The greater part of us have worn out our children's shoes, and are nearer 40 than 30 years of age. You should not listen to those who may cry out and cast up unjustly many things against us on the other side. 'How dare they marry? Have they not taken an oath of chastity?' Hear this, gracious Lords! No one has promised chastity in other words than those I will now write. The Bishop, when about to consecrate a priest, asks if he will remain pure; the candidate answers: 'Yes, as far as human frailty can bear and suffer.' See, gracious Lords! with this condition have we sworn and not otherwise. This we can prove by the Lord Bishop himself, but there is no need of it. No one, we hope, will deny it. Since now, neither oath nor promise binds us, and St. Paul speaks as above quoted, suffer yourselves to be moved by this public confession, which we make before you, for, were not the desire of honor so great, we would not have uncovered our shame."

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse