Whatever may be our opinion of this affair, it must be admitted that Zwingli did not wish to appear better than he really was. Nothing was more foreign to him all his life long than hypocrisy. For this we ought not to honor him, but the Lord and blaster, whose word he proclaimed. Wholly unconcerned about the reproach it might occasion, the author took the position we have represented. A noble spirit was never yet injured by candor; but hypocrisy has ruined millions weaker. Truth no less than love is a fundamental requirement of the Gospel.
The astonishment, to which this step gave rise on all sides, can readily be imagined. It was so much the greater, because Zwingli had purposely provided for a wider circulation of the Latin and German memorials, and sent copies of them to his friends for gratuitous distribution. Neither from the Bishop nor the governments did he receive any answer. The decision in the department of Zurich was very decided and of the most favorable character as might be expected. From Luzern, Myconius wrote to him: "Only a few give their approval to your petitions. Many express neither praise nor blame. They say: 'You attempt a thing you can never carry out. The Bishop, yea the Pope cannot grant your request. Only a Council can do it.' The priests are dissatisfied. How the people think, I do not know. This much only I can see, that they neither know, nor wish to know anything about the Gospel. The demon of war has laid hold of them. They are blind to all that is higher." The prebendary Botzheim of Constance informed Vadianus that there was a powerful movement among the people. The canon Kilchmeier at Luzern, and Trachsel, pastor at Art, who had signed with Zwingli, as well as John Zimmerman of Luzern and the assistant Bernhardin of Cham put their lives in jeopardy by betrothing themselves, and were compelled to prepare for flight. Even in Zurich, though individuals gave Zwingli a firm support, there was yet a wide gulf between approval and simple permission of public marriage by the authorities.
Just then the Government of Zurich was obliged to be particularly prudent in its relations to the other Confederates. An immediate result of this step of Zwingli was, that ecclesiastical innovations were for the first time discussed at the diet, in the summer of the year 1522. Urban Weiss, pastor at Fislispach, in the bailiwick of Baden, though a member of the Zurich chapter, as he returned from a meeting of his associates, declared from the pulpit, by their unanimous resolution, that henceforth nothing should be preached, except it could be proven by the Holy Scriptures—hence, that the saints ought to be no longer invoked, that the marriage of priests was in no wise contrary to the commandments of God, and as soon as it was approved, (and he hoped it would be shortly), he intended to take a wife himself. The Bishop complained of him to his superiors at the diet, and new indignation broke loose in their midst. The pastor would have been led off immediately to prison, had not several of the clergy in connection with the congregation prevented it by heavy bail. But, on their return home the deputies found the petition of Zwingli, and this made the prospects of the pastor rather worse, so that at the next sitting of the diet, in the beginning of winter, it was actually resolved to send him to Constance.
But the Confederates gave matter for serious thought to the Council of Zurich not by this act alone. In spite of every refusal of the French alliance, in spite of all the vigilance of the authorities, there were still seventeen captains in that service, who succeeded by cunning arts in enticing to themselves several troops of inveterate deserters and disobedient youth, partly citizens of Zurich and partly of other places, and leading them to the army, for which so severe a chastisement was kept in store at Biocca. Justly indignant, the Council ordered all its officers to bring these seducers captive to Zurich, whenever they would again enter the canton; only if they came of their own accord, to answer for their deeds, a safe conduct should be promised to them. The Confederates declared this proceeding to be a violation of the compact. Zurich appealed to the fourth article of the treaty of Stanz, which was certainly in her favor. But the exasperation increased the more. It rose to a still higher pitch, when Zwingli took occasion from the defeat at Biocca to address a written exhortation "to the oldest Confederates at Schwyz, to beware of foreign lords and to get rid of them." He counted on the aid of his friends there at Einsiedeln, and the clerk of the court, Balthasar Staffer, was his devoted adherent, having at an earlier period received assistance from him during a season of trial in his family. With a perception at once intuitive and full of power he contrasts in this letter the strength of even a small nation, that trusts in God and a good conscience, with the windy boasts of the reigning corruption. "Our ancestors"—says he—"overcame their enemies and established their liberty, by no other power, than that of God. For this end they never slew Christian people for pay, but fought for freedom alone, that their persons, lives, women, children might not be so painfully subject to a licentious nobility. Therefore has God multiplied to them on all sides victory, honor and fortune, so surely, that no lord has ever conquered them, though never so strong; which, without doubt, is not to be attributed to human ability, but to the power and grace of God. Yea, when they defended their fatherland and freedom at Morgarten, Sempach and Naefels, where three hundred and fifty men attacked fifteen thousand for the twelfth time in one day and at last beat them, among whom ye good people of Schwyz had thirty, and in many other places, when they went to battle and returned home always with joy and honor, then they rested in peace, stained by no disgrace. But now, since we are lifted up in our own conceit, and think ourselves wise; since we have become filled with pride and boasting, though it is nothing but air; how should we escape not having shame and loss imputed to us by God, though we have spread our names so far with such vainglory: We have done this; we will do this; we can do this; no one is able to withstand us; as if we had a covenant with death; although a heavy scourging and punishment passes by, may it not yet come over us; since we place our hope in lying and tricks and are protected thereby—just as if we were iron and other men gourds; just as if no one could harm us like the heroes, who saved themselves from the deluge by that enormous pile, the tower of Babel. It is very certain that our pride is not His gift. He waits long, and that only, for us to do better. If we do not, then it will be done unto US as it was done unto Sodom and Gomorrah." This letter alone, or in connection with other reasons, which may have brought it about, actually prevailed at Schwyz, after a stormy meeting, over the national inclination toward the French, and it was resolved for the next 25 years to reject foreign alliances and pensions; Nidwalden also joined in the resolution. As may easily be imagined, this greatly strengthened the hatred against Zwingli. "Thy truly Christian summons to the people of Schwyz"—writes Berthold Haller from Bern—"is severely condemned among us, indeed in the highest degree." Embassies were sent to Schwyz and Nidwalden, to warn them back, and one also to Zurich with the request, that if they wished always to keep apart, they would at least abstain from influencing other members of the Confederacy, and keep careful watch over the seditious libels that issued from their city. The government remained firm to the principles laid down for its guidance in political affairs. Transgressors of the prohibition against desertion and pensions were punished with severity and even executed; in ecclesiastical measures it was at variance and wavering.
Zwingli felt more and more, that, though many individuals on all sides were proud of his course and defended his cause, he yet in reality stood alone; that many mad-caps, coming out far more rudely than he, did him more injury by their eccentricities than they gave him help; that his true friends, unless he continually kept them in breath, informed them and encouraged them, were in danger of yielding to faint-heartedness. Even his faithful Myconius wrote to him in such a moment: "What canst thou do, when the whole world speaks against thee, yea, opposes thee with all its powers?" When some, who, on account of his extraordinary acquirements, had ranged themselves among his most prominent supporters, began to draw back, Vadianus became cooler and Erasmus put into his scanty and formal letters expressions of ill-humor. How worthy of all honor did the man stand here, who did not suffer himself to be bowed by all this!
It was evident to him, notwithstanding that his work, in order to have stability, needed a firmer basis, that the acknowledgment and protection of the government of the canton was indispensable to its success. But the authorities, far more than Zwingli, thought themselves bound to the existing church-order, and no support from them could be counted on against the protest of the bishop. Thus the Reformer had first to come to a clear understanding with them, and the Bishop himself opened the way. He had carefully abstained from instituting an examination of the erroneous doctrines said to be preached in Zurich, after the Council had invited him so to do, and only exhorted the government in general terms to allow no changes in church matters amongst them; on the contrary he addressed a pastoral letter to the collective clergy of his diocese, complaining of manifold heretical teachings, warning against them, yea, condemning them, as well as a special admonition at the same time to the convent of canons at Zurich not to suffer them in their midst. Not less than sixty nine points of complaint and wishes for amendment were contained in it. When the letter was read before the assembly every eye was turned toward Zwingli. "You find yourselves"—said he—"indebted to me for all these accusations. I desire that they be placed in my hands, so that I can answer." This was done, and now he was determined to battle for life and death against the spiritual powers. Hence a glance at their present condition and influence becomes necessary.
On the 1st of December, 1520, Pope Leo X. died, and on the 9th of January the Cardinals had elected his successor Adrian VI. But he did not come to Rome before the 29th of August. Till then, he staid in Spain as vicegerent of Charles V., who was also king of that country. The College of Cardinals, empowered to rule in the interim, had pursued the policy of the deceased Pope in regard to Swiss affairs. Ecclesiastical matters were kept in the background, and Zurich, although verging toward revolt, was treated with special favor, because she not only continued averse to the French alliance, so hated by Rome, but besides this, faithful to former treaties, had dispatched a body of troops for the immediate protection of the Papal government. The short reign of Adrian (he died on the 13th of September, 1523) brought about no change. On the contrary, even by him, who, as Grand Inquisitor in Spain, had seized on Luther's collective writings, brilliant offers were made to Zwingli. Franz Zingg, his friend and the same time chaplain of the Pope, received a commission to treat with him, and expressed himself thus scornfully against Myconius: "In Rome everything will be granted to a bold preacher except the Papal Chair." During the following year, 1523, two letters from Adrian, addressed to Mark Roist and Zwingli, were delivered by the legate Ennius. In the first the burgomaster was assured, that the Pope, fully aware of his public and private services in behalf of the Roman See, would exhort him to persevere in his friendly disposition, that he also was mindful of it, as the legate would detail at large. In the second, to Zwingli, this passage occurs: "Although our legate is enjoined to conduct our affairs with your nation in a public manner, yet, because we have a certain knowledge of thy distinguished merits, and especially love and prize thy loyalty, and also place particular confidence in thy honesty, we have commissioned our chosen Nuncio to hand over to thee separately our letter, and bear witness to our most favorable intentions. We exhort thee also, reverend and faithful in the Lord, to give all credit to it, and with the same disposition, in which we are inclined to remember thy honor and thy profit, to bestir thyself also in our affairs and those of the Apostolic See, wherefore thou wilt be gladdened by our very special grace."
It is not to be doubted that Adrian had been informed by his legates of the condition of the church in Zurich; still we may be allowed to conjecture at least, why he made another attempt upon Zwingli. Of German descent and himself a friend and judge of German science, conscious moreover of an honest purpose, he might perhaps have cherished the hope, that he would be better able to exert a reconciling influence upon the Germans than his Italian predecessor. On the Saxon Reformer, over whom ban and outlawry had already been pronounced, such a thing was no longer possible; but the Switzer was untouched as yet. Still the Pope was greatly mistaken in regard to him. It was not the person but the court, which Zwingli would avoid. Let us hear what he has to say in regard to the relation in which he stood to the latter, as it appears in the 'Explanation of the Final Discourse:'
"For three whole years now I have preached the Gospel in Zurich with earnestness, for which the Papal Cardinals, Bishops and Legates, whilst the city has not been well spoken of, have often sought to blind me by their friendship, prayers, threats, and promises of large gifts and benefices; these I did not wholly reject, having accepted a pension of 50 florins, which they paid me yearly (indeed they would have given me 100, but I would not be enticed); I had declined it in the year 1517, though they would not stop it till three years after in 1520, when I refused it in my own hand writing. (I acknowledge my sin before God and all men; for prior to 1516 I adhered too closely to the authority of the Pope, and deemed it becoming to receive money from him, although I always gave the Roman envoys to understand in plain language, when they exhorted me not to preach anything against the Pope: they should not at all expect me to suppress a single word of the truth for the sake of money, on which account they might either take it back or not, as it pleased them). When now I had laid down the pension, they saw well I would have nothing more to do with them, and then they made public my refusal and receipt, both of which stood in one letter, through a spiritual father, a preacher-monk, for the purpose of driving me off from Zurich by it. But in this they failed, because the honorable Council knew well that I had not spared the Pope in my teachings; that I had not been wrought upon by money; that I had not aided them in their plans, and now for the second time refused a pension; and also, since it was the doctrine of former ages, that I could not be convicted of a violation of honor or my oath. And thus the above-named honorable Council has acknowledged my innocence.—So each and every one may see, if I had wished to enrich myself with the gold of foreign lords, I would not have refused the pension of the Pope, for to receive it from him would have been disgraceful in the least degree to one in clerical orders. But I declare it before the Judge of all men, God, that I have never received pension or wages from prince or lord, or been bribed in any way. And what I do to-day I do alone, because my office demands it of me. I pray also that it may aid in checking the evil. For I would be ever a murderer in the eyes of pious people, if I did not continue to rebuke it severely. I am ready also at all times to give answer to all men for my teachings, my writings and my actions, and dare take it on my soul, that hereafter I will use all diligence to bring the word of God clearly before all men, yet not I will do it, but God, and therefore it deeply concerns me that our glorious Confederacy may remain in existence. Although every one may think of me, as seems good to him, yet I am conscious of innocence in regard to my teaching and actions in that whereof my enemies accuse me. Moreover, though I exceed many men in other faults, yet shall they not injure the truth of God and a pious government. Let each for God's sake regard in the best light my simple explanation of the affair of the foreign lords, which I might have presented with far greater lustre to my reputation, had I desired it. For, a few days back, I received a letter from the Pope and mighty verbal commands, which I have answered by God's grace in a Christian manner, without being moved; since I do not doubt, I would become greater than any other man, if the poverty of Christ were not dearer to me than the splendor of the Papists. Let every one regard it in the best light. Since I must look to the wants of many, who have claims on me elsewhere, I ought not to conceal my innocence of the thing in my own spirit, but reply, after the example of Paul, in a becoming manner; for the enemies of Christ often injure his doctrine through my name, against which they utter falsehood; whom I have followed now and to whom, as I hope, done no injustice."
With this we have enough about Zwingli's relation to the Papal See. That he had broken with it decidedly will be inferred from what has been quoted. By the government also Rome was not particularly feared. It seemed to set more value on its connection with the Bishop, which leads us now to take a glance at affairs in Constance.
Since the year 1496 the episcopal chair in that place was occupied by Hugo of Hohenlandenberg. History has a great deal to tell about his legations in the name of the Emperor, his treaties with the Confederates, his synodal constitutions, his ordinances and his pastoral letters. He was, particularly in his old age, an active, grasping man, restlessly employed in the maintenance and extension of his cathedral chapter, especially of its revenues. Scandalous facts could be adduced to prove the latter. The knowledge of his character made the Confederate governments shy of him, so that he was not always successful in his negotiations with them. In regard to scientific culture he needed foreign support, and when with the beginning of reform circumstances became more difficult, he was forced to a greater dependence on his general-vicar.
In the latter, who was at an earlier period Zwingli's friend, we now find his most bitter and decided enemy. John Heigerlin, son of a smith in the village of Leutkirch, had, according to the prevailing custom, assumed the Latin name of Faber (Smith). To the clerical estate, to which he devoted himself, after completing his studies in Vienna, he brought talent of no common order, and ambition to turn it to the best account. First a popular preacher in Linden, and esteemed likewise as an author, he afterwards accepted a call from the Bishop of Constance, who, as well as the Diocesan of Basle, wished to have him in his service. At the same time the degree of Doctor of the Common Law was conferred on him by the University of Freiburg. With all the better minds of the age he took a lively interest in the awakening of science, which immediately preceded the Reformation. He it was, who chiefly prevailed on the Bishop to declare against the wretched trade in indulgences, and encouraged Zwingli in his battle against it. Every improvement was altogether right in his eyes, if it only proceeded from the priesthood; every light, so long as it remained under its patronage. But nothing is more foreign to the spirit of caste than the fundamental idea of the Gospel, and between Christianity as represented by it and priestdom (by no means to be confounded with churchdom) the antagonism is irreconcilable. Hence all priestdom is in absolute need of supplements to the Gospel; it must have tradition; it cannot give it up without self-destruction. This is not the place to pursue this observation further; but it could not be wholly overlooked, because thus only are we able to account for the sudden change of feeling in a man liberal in other respects. As late as May 1521, he had ridiculed Doctor Eck, Luther's opponent, and accused him of traveling to Rome to offer his services to the Pope against Luther, and yet at the end of the very same year, he himself took the very same road. The extensive circulation of Luther's writings had stirred him up, because by this means religious questions were dragged down to the circle of the people, skillful and unskillful speakers arose among them, individual princes and governments sought to extricate themselves from the fetters of the spiritual power, and against all ordinances of the church, which were not clearly warranted by the Holy Scriptures, a growing indifference prevailed. He himself also wrote from Rome against Luther. "You cunningly strive"—he says in his book—"to subject the spiritual to the worldly, but the Lord will not suffer his anointed (Christos suos) to go to the ground." He came back to Constance completely transformed, and his influence was very soon observable here.
In the abduction of the pastor of Fislispach he had a hand, and the pastoral letter of the Bishop, to which we have alluded, as well as the address to the Zurich chapter of canons had, according to the universal opinion, proceeded from him. We saw that Zwingli put off answering the letter. He took some time for it. But then an ample vindication appeared. "May your Highness, illustrious Chief Shepherd"—-he thus begins—"pardon, if I trouble you with this paper in your manifold labors. The Lord procure it a hearing! For six years I have preached the Gospel, and am now represented to thee not as a dutiful guardian, but as a robber and destroyer in the sheep-fold. By their continual, unwearied outcries they have prevailed on you to send an admonition, as illiterate as it is unbecoming, to the chapter of our convent. Thou wouldst have done nothing of the kind of thine accord; thou couldst not have written, of thyself, anything so vain and boasting; thou wouldst also have made known thy thoughts to us in the German language. Therefore I send thee this epistle called Archeteles, because I hope it is the beginning and end of my quarrel with thy counsellors." After this somewhat diffuse introduction follow the sixty-nine points of complaint, again printed, and an answer appended to each one separately. As he proceeds in the letter we see his courage and assurance increase; the style becomes bolder, his judgment more decided, and the interwoven sallies of wit more cutting, till here again in a feeling of triumph, and prompted by the lugubrious tone of the last point of the Bishop, he gives a mock-review of it somewhat in the manner of the litany:
That we may remain in the unity of our Holy Mother, the Church;—for this we beseech thee, O Lord, hear us.
That we may obey our Superiors, i.e. the pious governments;—for this we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wilt teach the false bishops humility enough not to think themselves supreme lords but co-pastors, according to the word of Peter; for this we beseech Thee.
That Thou wilt enlighten them with thy light, first to acknowledge Thy true Church itself;—for this we beseech Thee, hear us.
That Thou wilt open for them the fountains of living water;—for this we beseech Thee, hear us.
From the troubled fountains, which they have dug, out of which no wholesome water flows;—set us free, O Lord.
From the intolerable burdens, which they have piled upon the shoulders of christians;—deliver us, O Lord.
Command them to bear and to do what they require from others.
And if they cannot be brought by other means to make Thy yoke easy to us and Thy burden light—force them to it, O Lord.
From his continued good-will toward Erasmus, Zwingli had sent him a copy of this production. But the tone of it did not please the elder and more considerate friend, although he himself in former years had made sparing use neither of ridicule nor censure. "I adjure thee"—he wrote—"by the honor of the Gospel, to which, as I know, thou hast consecrated thy whole heart, as we are all bound to do, that thou wilt treat serious things in a serious manner, and not forget evangelical modesty and prudence. Take counsel first from thy learned friends, before thou makest anything public. I fear thy apology will bring thee into great danger and be prejudicial to the Gospel." Though Zwingli felt the warning and returned thanks, it was not able to change his mind. For directly after the appearance of the Latin Archeteles he lent a helping hand in the publication of an address designed for the people, which was still more rough in its language. It consisted of comments on the above-quoted pastoral letter of the Bishop, and was edited anonymously and scattered everywhere by the Franciscan, Sebastian Meier of Bern, and his friends. A single passage, and that not one of the most severe, may serve to show its spirit:
"Dost thou see, dear Christian, where the shoe pinches them? They complain that Paul is preached. He pictures them so near to the life, and points out the office of the true bishop. When we preach up this, then a sheep can see, that those horned idols are not bishops but carnival-spectres, and such as the children make on St. Claus' day. Would to God they were as harmless! Why has it not vexed them that Aristotle, Cicero, fables, examples, Scotus, Thomas and silly stories are preached? I will tell thee. It does not injure them in their pomp. But Paul, who is now by common consent preached in many places, is consistent with himself, and pierces them in their princely splendor, voluptuous wantonness, and insatiable avarice. Hence they complain. Dear younkers, because you deal thus with facts and Paul teaches the contrary, what shape will you take, if we preach St. Peter? He snatches off your hoods and shows as well as St. Paul what horned cattle you are."
It is easy to see that writings like these must have made the breach incurable, and we durst suppose, that Zwingli himself perceived the possibility of it, and in such an event was clear in his resolves. The end of the subordinate relation of Zurich to the Bishop, as well as the beginning of a changed order, was closely connected with the Archeteles. For the origin and founding of this new church-government we pass on to the following chapter.
FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER SECOND:
Footnote 1: [Instead of putting these altered versions into our own language, we give the poems as found in the English translation of Merle D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation, because the German of Zwingli has there been followed, and their original form and spirit better preserved.—Trans.]
Footnote 2: This was the only means, as a letter, sent by Francis Zink from Einsiedeln to the government of Zurich, clearly shows, of keeping him in the city; for it was impossible any longer to pay the two assistants, whom he was bound to maintain, out of his own salary, without the pension of the Pope; nevertheless, in order to gain perfect freedom of speech, instead of accepting the doubling of the Romish allowance just then promised, he declined receiving from the legate what had hitherto been paid. Under these circumstances his friend Henry Engelhart came to his assistance, since, he having also a benefice in the church of Notre Dame (Frauen-Muenster), resigned his post in the cathedral, in Zwingli's favor.
Footnote 3: To avoid repetition in the answers, we will hereafter give those only, which contain something new, or characteristic.
Footnote 4: Only the first and shorter part of Zwingli's Latin letter is here translated; the second and larger, which, based on numerous passages of Scripture, contains Zwingli's vindication and belongs more to theology than history, will be quoted again merely in its leading features.
Footnote 5: Thus, for example, after some cutting expressions, he uses the words:
"Very learned Father, Full and plump, Open the swollen syllogism. Or the foul hoof Must give way."
Footnote 6: Obscure teachers of a former age.
RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE IN ZURICH. THE GOVERNMENT TAKES THE PLACE OF THE BISHOP FOR THE PROTECTION AND SUPERINTENDENCE OF THE NATIONAL CHURCH.
The breach, between the government of Zurich and those, who, up to this time, stood at the head of ecclesiastical affairs, was as yet by no means so decided as in the case of Zwingli. He doubtless wished it might become so. Public conferences on religious subjects had already taken place in Germany, and Zwingli himself had conducted such an one, held between him and Francis Lambert, a Franciscan monk, to a triumphant issue, though only before a narrow circle and in the Latin language. But now he determined to venture battle with his enemies before all the clergy and theologians, and compel them to an open acknowledgement that his doctrine was in conformity with Scripture. With this idea he first of all made his hearers familiar in several sermons. Then, sure of the approval of his design by the majority, he turned to the Great Council with the prayer, that, in the deliberate and entire neglect to act on the part of the Bishop, they would appoint such a public convocation. This gave rise to a lively and earnest debate. It could not escape the older statesmen how readily results, not to be foreseen, flow from a violation of forms, whilst others, looking at events in Germany, the humor of the people, and the growing in difference toward the ordinances of ecclesiastical courts, trembled less at the approaching transformation; nay, the boldest and most decided ardently wished it. In fact, the resolution to grant Zwingli's petition was at last carried. Besides, the Council could justify itself with the Bishop by his own inactivity, by his refusal of the just prayer to institute a synod or convocation of learned men for the examination of the Reformer's doctrine. Thus he had only himself to blame, if part of the power, which he might yet have been able to secure, was already taken from him by the public proclamation of Zurich, dated January 3d, 1523. The substance of this paper is contained in the following extract:
"We, the burgomaster and Small and Great Councils of the city of Zurich, to all the clergy in our diocese our salutation and favorable regard. Discord and dissension have sprung up among us between the preachers. Some believe they have proclaimed the Gospel faithfully and fully; on the contrary others affirm that these same persons sow error, mislead their hearers, and are heretics, whilst they on their part at all times and to every one declare themselves ready to be judged by God's Word. Therefore with the best intentions and for the sake of God's honor, peace and Christian unity, it is our will that ye ministers, pastors and preachers, all in general and each in particular, or even other priests, who may have a mind to speak, to inveigh against or else to instruct the opposite party, appear before us on the day succeeding Emperor Charles' day at early council-time at our council-house, and when ye dispute, to do it with appeal to the genuine Scripture in the German tongue and language. With all diligence will we, with the aid of several learned men, note down, whether it seems good to us, and, if it accord with the Holy Scripture, send each one home with the command to go on or leave off; so that every one may not preach from the pulpit without warrant, only what seems good to him. We will also point out this to our gracious Lord of Constance, so that your Grace or your deputies, as you wish, may be there also. But if any one should be so perverse as not to produce the real Divine Scripture, we will call him to account—of whom we would rather be rid. We hope God will illumine us with the light of his truth, that we may be able to walk as children of the light."
Thus it was no longer the Bishop, nor those, who were spiritual lords heretofore, nor even the Pope, who should declare whether the doctrine preached in Zurich was that of the church. Whether it agreed with the Holy Scripture, this alone should be proven, and whether Zwingli or his opponents had justified themselves as its true interpreters, on that would the government decide—a view indeed directly opposed to the Roman Catholic stand-point. It was a real violation of rule in the Bishop not to lay an interdiction, and, if Zurich still persevered, to break off all ecclesiastical intercourse with her. But revenues were due in the Zurich district; worldly relations existed with its government; these appeared to him to require indulgence. Besides, the number of faithful adherents was still considerable. Should they be abandoned? Might not affairs in some unexpected way take a more favorable turn? Could not the envoys succeed in one thing, if not to prevent a complete revolt, at least to postpone it? Hence the resolution of the Bishop to send notwithstanding an embassy to Zurich. This was composed of John Faber, Fritz von Anwyl, steward of the Bishop, and Doctor Bergenhaus, to whom was yet added Doctor Martin Blausch of Tuebingen.
In the mean time Zwingli, who by no means lost sight of the fact that the government, which was about to assume the place of the Bishop, ought to show itself worthy of the post by its actions and opinions, began more earnestly than ever to watch over the improvement and maintenance of good morals, and with unwearied zeal wove into his sermons to the Councils exhortations to this effect. These were not in vain. Ordinances were passed for the better control of the taverns, of the young people, and the hordes of traveling scholars; singing girls were banished from the city, and even four members of the Small Council, who lived in notorious adultery, were excluded from all its sessions for half a year, in order to reclaim them.
But now Charles' day had come, and universal attention was directed to the grave assembly about to meet on the next morning. The Council had sent a letter of invitation to the diet held at Baden on the first day of the year. This was simply noticed in the recess, without further action, because the matter was thought to concern Zurich alone. No one came, with the exception of Doctor Sebastian Hoffmeister from Schaffhausen, and the Franciscan Sebastian Meier from Bern; the latter, however, of his own accord, without public commission. A few days before, Zwingli had compiled and written down in haste, seventy-six propositions, which contained the sum of what his opponents objected to, and the substance of his doctrines. He concluded this small paper with these words: "Let no one undertake to contend here with sophistry or trifles, but let him come with the Scripture. It is to be regarded as the judge; by it we may find the truth; or rather it has thus been found, as I hope and maintain."
It was the second false step of Faber, that, after such a condition laid down by Zwingli, and approved by the Council, he yet came to Zurich, or did not from the first emphatically protest against it. The very practices of the Roman Church, which were most conspicuous and vulnerable, stood in such direct contradiction to the letter and spirit of the Gospel, that he, who would defend them from the Holy Scriptures, even with the greatest skill, was already beaten beforehand. Not only Zwingli and the more thoroughly instructed of his associates were convinced of this, but, taught by his preaching, the greater part of those present also; among whom were a numerous host of youth, ready for the combat, who had zealously read the Holy Scriptures for themselves. In their varying looks were seen expectation, confidence, and contempt of their enemies. The judicial demeanor of the Councils, the confused behavior of those, who, by their boasting and thoughtless speeches, betrayed their ignorance, the excitement among the mass of the people gave the assembly a peculiar expression. "I thought"—says Faber in a letter describing it—"I had come to Picardy."
Meanwhile, arming himself with as much firmness as possible, he and his co-deputies took the places assigned them. A hundred and eighty members of the two Councils had arrived. Of the public teachers, doctors, canons and the other clergy few were wanting; and the number of strangers present was also considerable. All the spaces before the open doors, where anything was to be seen or heard, were filled with citizens and country people. In a vacant circle, reserved in the middle, sat Zwingli alone by a table, on which lay copies of the Bible in different languages.
The burgomaster Roist began: "Very learned and worthy Lords, hitherto dissension has frequently arisen in the city and canton of Zurich in regard to the doctrines of our preacher, Master Ulric Zwingli. By some he is reviled as a seducer of the people, by others as a heretic. The disturbance among the priests and laity increases, and every day complaints are laid before my fellow-councilors. From the open pulpit Master Ulric has offered to justify his doctrine, if it be granted him to hold a public disputation in the presence of all, both of the clergy and the laity. We have permitted him to do this in the German language before the Great Council. We have summoned thereto all the people's priests and pastors of our Canton, and entreated also the Very Reverend Lord and Prince, the Bishop of Constance. We thank him particularly for sending us his worthy legation. So, to whomsoever it is displeasing or doubtful, what Master Ulric has uttered in the pulpit here at Zurich; whoever may be able to show, that his preaching and doctrine are seditious or heretical; let him prove his error to him here present from the Divine Scripture, so that my fellow-councilors may be relieved henceforth of the daily complaints about disunion and discord, with which they are troubled by clergy and laity."
The steward of the Bishop now rose up. "My gracious Lord"—said he—"is well aware that at present, in all parts of his princely Grace's diocese, strife and discord, touching doctrines or sermons have sprung up, and since he never has refused, and does not now refuse, to show himself gracious, kind and willing, in all that promotes peace and unity, he has sent us hither as his ambassadors, at the special request and information of an honorable, wise Council at Zurich, where disunion chiefly reigns. Having listened to the reasons of this discord, we are to give them the best advice in the case; nothing else than may redound to the welfare of an honorable Council at Zurich, as well as an estimable priesthood. Therefore we are willing, for the sake of peace and unity, to aid in composing the discord; so that friendship may continue among a worthy priesthood, till my Lord, together with his theologians and prelates, has further considered and decided in regard to the matter."
Thus had the adroit courtier wisely marked out the only position which the episcopal embassy could maintain with honor. Affirming simply the power of the Church to judge and her duty to reconcile those at variance, they ought in no wise to take sides, but rather join with the government as umpire, and at all hazards, have the last word reserved for the Bishop. How much humiliation would not Faber have been spared, if he had not suffered himself to be enticed away from this standpoint by Zwingli!
The latter now took occasion to say: "Of old has God made known his will to the human race. Thus speaks the revelation of his word. In and of itself it is light and clear, but for many years, and still more in our times, it has become so dimmed and obscured by the additions and doctrines of men, that the greater part of those, who now call themselves Christians, know less of nothing than of the Divine will, and are only occupied with a worship of their own devising and a fancied holiness resting on outward works. Into such delusion have they been misled by those, who ought to be their leaders, whilst the truth lies in the Word of Christ, as we learn it from his Gospel and the writings of the Apostles. And since some rise up to proclaim this once more, they are not regarded as Christians, but as corrupters of the Church; yea, reviled as heretics, of which I also am counted one. And, although I know, that, for five years now, I have preached in this city nothing else than the glad message of Christ, this has not yet been able to justify me, as is well known to my Lords of Zurich. Therefore have they, and thanks to them for it! instituted for me a public disputation. I have drawn up a summary in writing, which contains all I have hitherto taught. That it is in conformity with the Gospel, I hope, moreover, in presence of our gracious Lords, to prove to the Bishop of Constance or his deputies. The Spirit of God has prompted me to speak; He also knows why he has chosen one so unworthy. Well then; in His name: Here am I."
Still the vicar-general, Faber, did not give up the hope of winning over a part of the Council at least, by friendly words, warnings, and promises, and warding off the decisive blow. "My esteemed brother, Master Ulric Zwingli"—he began—"assures us that he has always preached the Gospel in Zurich. Indeed I do not doubt it; for what preacher, called of God, ought not so to do? He wishes also to justify himself before the Bishop, in regard to his doctrines. The fact is, I desired him to visit Constance. I would have received him into my own house, shewn him all friendship, and treated him like a brother. But hither I have not come, to discuss evangelical or apostolical doctrines, but to listen, to decide in case of strife, and in general, to aid in guiding everything toward peace and unity, not rebellion; for this is the will of Paul as well as the Gospel. But if we are to touch praiseworthy usages and customs of long standing, then I declare, as ambassador of my Lord of Constance, that I have a command not to appear. Such things, in my judgment, belong only to a universal council of the nations, the bishops, and the theologians; for, what another place will refuse to receive, cannot be decided here, and hence divisions would spring up in the Church. It, therefore, is my honest advice, to postpone, for a while yet, disputations concerning the Papal or Ecclesiastical Constitutions, now so many centuries old; especially since my Lord, the Bishop, is informed, that the Estates of the Empire have determined to hold, within the space of twelve months, a general council at Nuremberg. For, in the end, who would be the judge in such a disputation? At the Universities of Paris, Cologne or Louvain only, could the necessary learning be found."
"And why not"—Zwingli asked in derision—"at Erfurt, or Wittemberg? Good brethren, the Lord Vicar makes use of much art, to divert you from your purpose by his rhetorical flourishes. We inquire not how long a thing may have been in use? We would speak of the truth as it presents itself in the Divine Law. To this, mere usage ought to give way. We are told of a Christian assembly, though I hope there is one such here in this chamber. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, said our Lord, I am in their midst. There are also bishops enough here among us; for the overseers and teachers of congregations have been so styled by the Apostles, not powerful princes, ruling far and wide, as we have them now-a-days. And wherefore should we need judges, when we have the Holy Scripture itself here in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages, and scholars, who understand these languages as well as any at those universities? But even were this not the case, there are at least so many Christian spirits amongst us, that with the help of God it should become plain to us, which party interprets the Scripture truly, and which falsely. And lastly, touching the Nuremberg business, I may tell you, dear Lords, that I can produce, if necessary, three letters, received from there very lately, but they contain not one word about a decree actually published. Pope, bishops, prelates would indeed, for the most part, be adverse to any meeting of the kind. And you of Zurich ought to esteem it a great favor and a call of God, that such a thing has happened among you."
A long pause ensued, till the burgomaster rose up, and once more exhorted the opponents to come forth. No body stirred. "For the sake of Christian charity"—said Zwingli—"I beg every one, who thinks my doctrine erroneous, to speak out his thoughts. I know there are several here, who have accused me of heresy; I may be compelled to call them out by name." No one ventured to confront the powerful champion, whose thorough knowledge they feared, whose attack on the episcopal ambassador they had just witnessed, and whose unsparing mode of combat they knew.
"Where now"—cried a voice from the door—"are the boasters behind the wine-bottle and on the streets? Here is the man for you." It was Gutschenkel of Bern, one of those knaves, who, because fools by profession, escape the censure which their unbecoming speeches deserve. Already it seemed, that with the laughter of Zwingli's friends, and the inglorious flight of his opponents, the whole thing would come to an end, when Jacob Wagner, pastor of Neftenbach, by a question cunningly thrown out, in regard to the offence of the pastor of Fislispach imprisoned at Constance, induced the Vicar-General to say something about this man. With an assumed air of pity Faber spoke of his ignorance, and how he himself, by explaining passages of Scripture, had brought him to acknowledge his former errors. But these very same errors Zwingli had also taught, and immediately he challenged Faber to quote the victorious passages. "Good reason"—replied the Vicar General—"had the wise man in the Old Testament, when he said: 'The fool is easily taken in his speech.' I had firmly declared I would not dispute." This beginning, certainly unexpected by the majority of the audience, was followed by a prolix homily on the origin of heresies; the battles of the Pope and Christendom against them; words of Roman historians on the value of unity; the rareness of the gift of interpreting languages, of which he himself could not boast; in short, every thing but that which was demanded. Yet even here Zwingli never suffered him to wait for an answer, but just as often as the Vicar, with unwearied volubility renewed his digressions, he brought him back to the passages demanded. Doctor Sebastian Hofmeister also began to press Faber, and Leo Judae likewise. The latter, for a short time back people's priest at St. Peter's, was again united with his friend Zwingli in Zurich. Sorely perplexed, the Vicar cried out: "A Hercules could not stand against two;" but the simple method of defeating them all, by a quotation of the passages, was still far from his thoughts. Then rose up his companion. Doctor Martin Blausch, to secure for him a retreat, if possible; but he also only dwelt on generalities, the doctrines of the church, fathers, and the right of decision by the church. "The good Lord fails to speak; the good Lord has not rightly looked at the words," and similar gibes fell from Zwingli's lips—proofs rather of confidence in the truth of his cause and contempt of his opponents, than of the clemency, which lends to victory a higher worth. After the silencing of the embassy of Constance, the burgomaster called once more for other combatants, but in vain. Zwingli had the last word. The crowd dispersed at noon.
The interval was used by the Council for drawing up its decision, which was published to the meeting, again called together in the afternoon, and ran thus: "All ye, who, answering our summons for the purposes assigned, have appeared before us today, we give to understand. A year is now gone, since an embassy of our gracious Lord of Constance was here at our council-house, before the burgomaster and the Small and Great Councils, on business of a similar kind. Then the request was preferred by us to our gracious Lord, to call together in his diocese learned men and preachers for the examination of the prevailing doctrines; so that a unanimous resolution might be passed, by which every one might be guided. But since, up to this time, perhaps for obvious reasons, nothing special has been done by him in the matter, and the dissension among the clergy and laity continually increases, the burgomaster. Council and the Great Council of the city of Zurich, have again taken the case in hand; and since now; after the offer of Master Ulric Zwingli to render an account, no one has risen up, no one has dared to refute by the Sacred Scriptures the articles he his furnished, although he has repeatedly called on those who revile him as a heretic—we, after mature counsel, have decided, and it is our earnest opinion, that Master Ulric Zwingli shall go on and continue, as heretofore, to proclaim the Holy Gospel and the real Sacred Scripture, according to the Spirit of God and his ability. Also, all the other priests of the people, pastors and preachers, in our city, canton and dependencies, shall not do otherwise, nor preach, except what they may be able to prove by the Holy Scripture. Likewise, they shall not henceforth call each other hard names, nor use other words of reproach. For they who act personally in this, we will deal with in such a manner, that they shall see and find that they have done wrong."
"God be praised!"—said Zwingli—"He will have his Word rule in heaven and on earth, and to you, my Lords of Zurich, he will doubtless grant strength and power to establish his truth in your canton."
Once more the Vicar General essayed to speak. Now, for the first time, it became possible for him to read the articles of Zwingli, and of course he had to find several that were not sustained by the Holy Scriptures. "Well then—prove it, Sir Vicar General," said Zwingli. It can be seen in works on church-history, how Faber, with no little adroitness and a blinding flow of words, endeavored to point out a contradiction between several of the syllogisms and some points of Holy Scripture. Perhaps, too, this would have succeeded before hearers less instructed; but with the greatest ease his superior antagonist shewed to the assembly, where in one place he tore words from their connection, in another distorted the plain sense, sought to give the later expressions of the Fathers a scriptural sound, and even employed the arts of a lawyer, in which he himself was evidently conscious of deceit. "You knew"—said Zwingli—"Sir Vicar General, that we, formerly, at the university, practised in common such dazzling tricks of logic, and that I am skilled in them as well as you; but it truly grieves me, that you as a serious man come still armed with such sophistries."
Anger began to appear in the assembly. The speeches of the opposing parties became shorter and more bitter. In order to keep them from degenerating into abuse, the Councils rose. The assembly dissolved, and the burgomaster Roist took leave of the by-standers with a smile, saying: "The sword, with which the pastor of Fislispach was stabbed, would not come out of its sheath to-day."
Faber by his behavior had fallen low in the estimation of the Zurichers. The monks alone, whose courage again revived, since the close of the battle, tried among those with whom they associated, to point out the circumstance, that the Vicar General had kept the last word, as a sign of victory. He himself also boasted of it in Constance after his return, and wherever Zwingli's rough manner or vehement language afforded an opportunity for censure, it was heaped up and spread on all sides. "In short"—writes Salat of Luzern, clerk of the court—"Zwingli pours down far too many scornful words on the head of the Lord Vicar, that excellent man of honor. Now he calls him Sir Hans, Sir John, Sir Vicary, plucks the vicar-bonnet off, and this times without number, and without shame. This was his mode of disputing."
Calmly and with a manifest endeavor, as far as it lay in his power, to form an unbiassed judgment, an old schoolmaster, Erhard Hegenwald, has described the transaction; and his narrative is the more worthy of credence, for the very reason that Faber was so provoked by it, that he attempted to refute it by a statement of his own. The distinguished air, which he assumed, the haughty treatment of Hegenwald, the importance, which he strove to give to his trifling mistakes, the mixture also of unfounded assertions contained in this production roused the indignation of the young men of Zurich, six of whom, members then already for the most part of the Great, and afterwards of the Small Council, joined in the publication of an answer to Faber, which they entitled "Hawk Plucking." The rude castigation, the biting and often also tasteless wit, and the entire absence of all the respect, which they formerly paid to age and official position, sorely wounded the Vicar General, who, but that it seemed useless, would have complained of the "libelous little book" to the government of Zurich.
Thus the hostility of Faber toward Zwingli and his friends soon extended itself to Zurich also. This champion against the doctrines of the Reformer became a persecutor of all his adherents—an inexorable judge to those, who fell into his power. In the end he even laughed at the tears, which the torture of the rack wrung from one of his victims, and rejoiced to see him burning at the stake.
Zwingli, although satisfied with the decree of the government, that he should continue unmolested in his way of teaching, was by no means so with the turn, which the conference took in the afternoon, through the tricks of Faber and the sort of protest against his syllogisms as anti-scriptural, with which the Vicar General had left Zurich. He resolved to append to each one of these points a detailed explanation and proof, in a work, which is even now considered the basis of his system of Christian doctrine, as well as his views in regard to church and state. "Day and night"—he wrote to his friend Werner Steiner—"do I labor at this work." It consisted of a volume of 300 closely-printed pages, and was finished in five months, amid daily preaching and a crowd of other business. New and still more violent enemies were awakened by its appearance, and, although many boasting promises of a refutation were made, none ever saw the light.
But with the rapid spread of this work the time had come, when the influence of the Reformer, hitherto confined mostly to Zurich and its territory, flowed out in all directions beyond these limits. The Zurich ambassadors had to witness a prelude of this in a riot at Luzern, where a disorderly rabble, instigated by several deputies of the diet sitting at that place, carried past their lodging an effigy of Zwingli with scoffs and curses, and burnt it with all the formalities used by the Inquisition. Two months later, in June, Caspar G[oe]ldi, who had been obliged to leave Zurich on account of mercenary service, complained before a second diet at Baden, that his daughter had willfully eloped from the convent of Hermatschweil and married one Schuster at Bremgarten, and the landvogt of Sorgans likewise, that a priest of that place had taken to himself a wife. Zwingli's sermons became still more severe against deserters and pensions. "Confederates,"—said Caspar of Muelinen—"check Lutheranism in the bud. The preachers at Zurich have already become masters of their rulers, so that they are no more able to withstand them. A man is no longer safe there in his own house. The peasantry refuse to pay their rents and tithes, and great discord reigns in the city and canton." The resolution was carried in the Recess, to communicate the complaints to all the governments, in order to agree if possible on a remedy; especially since the pastor had meddled also in political affairs, and preached among other things: "Confederates sell Christian blood and eat Christian flesh."
At Zwingli's request, the articles of the Recess were given to him, so that he might draw up a vindication. This vindication, which was also laid before the Great Council at Zurich, shows the undaunted courage of the man, as well as his assurance of being in the path of duty.
"Wise and gracious Lords,"—wrote he—"I believe indeed that complaints against me are rife; but to show the justice of them is, as I hope in God, in the power of no one. I will indeed confess, that I earnestly rebuke the prevailing vices, in chief that of perfidious bribe-taking, which is in vogue in nearly all courts and countries. But of my Lords, the Confederates, I have never spoken improperly. I have named them perhaps, though not rudely; for, from youth up, nothing has been more foreign to my nature, except when my fatherland has been evil spoken of. When obliged to rebuke severely and bear down against vices, then I have mentioned neither Dalmatians nor Englishmen; and this is my constant custom. Moreover, by no means do I agree with them, who say, no body ought ever to be called by name from the pulpit. God has never commanded this; perhaps the Pope has; but none the less am I of opinion, that we should not make the Word of God hateful by our rashness. When, during Lent in the past year, I preached about eating flesh, I uttered these, among other words: Many a one reviles flesh-eating as evil and thinks that a great sin, which God has never forbidden; but to butcher and sell human flesh, he thinks no sin. But in this I called neither Confederates, nor landsknechts, by name. That I said nothing more, the Great Council of Zurich will bear me witness. In general, for some time back I have had to endure incredible lies against me; they have caused me little sorrow, for I thought: The disciple is not above his master; they lied against Christ, hence it is no wonder, they lie against thee also. Thus my enemies once said of me, that I abused the mother of God our Lord, Jesus Christ. I answered them with a suitable little book. Again they say, I have declared that neither rents nor tithes should be paid. Item, that I have no regard for Christ's holy body, and have preached an opinion about it so scandalous, that I will not repeat it, lest the hearts of pious Christians might be shocked. And much other stuff of the like sort, they swear I have preached; but all these, saving your Honors' presence, are pure lies. Then they tell of me that I have had four children this year; that I wander about the streets at night; that I am a gambler; that I am hired by pensions from princes and lords; yet these also, saving your Honors' presence, are pure lies. Now I would not again set right these points, touching my morals, if they were not prejudicial to the good city of Zurich; for, since it would be a great disgrace to so glorious a city, if it suffered such vices even in a boy, I need not speak of one, who is devoted to God's Word and the common salvation of men. As to this, wise and gracious Lords, let it be far from you to put faith in any one, who speaks what he pleases against others or myself; for the times are perilous. The devil, who is an enemy of the truth, has used all his arts to cast down and destroy it. Therefore it is my humble prayer to Your Worships, that, as heretofore, if they have somewhat to say to me, or any one somewhat against me, he or they seek me before my Lords at Zurich, where I am a citizen and a canon; besides a born Toggenburger and a countryman at Schwyz and Glarus. Bat, as for as regards the doctrine of Christ, I ask no other protection from any one, than may serve to prevent interference against the pure word of God; and each and every one shall see, if God will, that since I laid hold of the Gospel of Christ, I have never taught anything, whose ground I did not search into beforehand, as far as God permitted. Understand this my plain, hasty letter in the best sense; for it is written without deceitful cunning. Let it also be made public, so that each and every one can see my innocence. And may Almighty God keep your State in his grace and honor! Amen."
There is nothing in the records of the Recesses to show, whether this vindication was really read before the Diet. It is certain, however, that it was known to the individual members, among whom, as well as among the States, opinions concerning Zwingli already began to be divided, and his adherents were treated with far more mildness in Bern, Solothurn, Basel and Schaffhausen, than in Luzern, Freiburg and the three Forest Cantons. In Glarus several of the most influential members of the government continued to keep up a correspondence with him, or a friendly feeling toward him; indeed, the government of Bern, as early as June, 1528, issued a decree, that that only, which could be proved by the Holy Scripture, should be taught in the pulpit; and, at the close of the same year, the nuns of K[oe]nigsfeld received permission to leave the convent, if they desired it.
In this respect, the Council of Zurich had already taken the lead in the month of June, by doing the same thing for the Sisters at [OE]denbach. The wealth of this convent was considerable; the nuns, whose number was rather large, belonged, for the most part, to distinguished families. It was no easy undertaking, in a time of such excitement, to keep peace among them, especially because the fiercest enemies of reform, the Dominican monks, who were devoted to the same rule of order, had abundant access to them as preachers, as confessors, and under all possible pretences. The Council, sorry to find this influence, and tracing it in the quarrels, which already began to arise in many families, through the instigation of the spiritual sisters, invited Zwingli to preach in the convent. This had never yet been done by a so-called secular priest. A part of the nuns refused to hear the unwelcome speaker. Zwingli therefore printed the discourse, which he delivered, and sent it to them. Requests were now sent to the government by one for release from her vows; prayers by another for the return of their former confessors and preachers. Strife arose in the convent. Here parents saw with displeasure the resolution of their daughters to go back into secular life, whilst others were dissatisfied, because theirs refused to do this. For some time the Council tried to help matters by rendering access to the convent difficult, and by obliging Leo Judae to preach there regularly; but when the discord was not allayed thereby, permission to leave was granted to all those who desired to go, with the privilege of taking whatever they had brought, besides their clothing and furniture. The rest were allowed to remain in the convent, but were obliged to lay aside the habit of the order and listen to Leo Judge's preaching. For the management of the revenues and general control a court of magistrates was instituted. The number of those, who went back to secular life, still increased; the aged gradually died off in the convent. Similar ordinances were passed in relation to the other nunneries in the territory of Zurich.
It is enough to show, that in these arrangements, the government was prompted neither by a blind zeal for tearing down, nor a base desire for the property of the convents. He who looks over the writings of Zwingli, will soon find, that the Council followed closely the path marked out by him, and indeed throughout, in the consciousness that they acted in full harmony with the Holy Scriptures. As another proof of the bold thinking and fearless language of the Reformer, we will here quote, if it be only what he says, in the Explanation of his Final Discourses as to the right disposition of the property of the suppressed establishments: "The simple-minded shudder at this, because they think it not right to change the last will of any body; but a greater fraud lies in this than in other abuses. See: What motive swayed those, who founded the benefices? Nothing else than because they were falsely taught, that the mass is a sacrifice. Therefore they dreamed they were bestowing their possessions on the poor, when they gave to this object. But now, since we are conscious of the deceit, that the mass is not a sacrifice, but the food of him, who eats with faith and spiritual hunger, we may divert the property to the poor, and withdraw it from idle bellies; yet we do this after their departure. But here they cry out; See, thus they undertake to do away with testaments, legacies and last wills! Answer: Here lies the rogue behind the hedge. Has not every government its own right and custom in the making of legacies? Who meddles with the appointment of heirs? Who wishes to act falsely here? You have falsified more than any one else; for you have tampered with last wills, so that that has been given to you, which belonged to other lawful heirs, and you have done it by your parables and false doctrines. Thus what the people have as a civil right, you claim as a divine right.... See, here we find the real forgers of wills, who have foisted in their avarice, by pretending that it was kindly done for the salvation of souls. But they say, if one of his own free-will gives us his property on his death-bed, is it not right for us to take it? Answer: no, for thou shouldst have before given a right Christian understanding to the donor, representing things thus: Consider not thy temporal property thine own; thou art only a steward over it. Thou shouldst divide it among the poor, which is pleasing to God, and shouldst not give it to those, who do not need it. Thou seest that such property is often used, only to foster pride and vanity in the temples, even though it is not squandered wantonly. God has commanded, to give to the poor; do it then; and no one shall be scandalized, if that which has hitherto been misused, is turned to the Christian advantage of the poor. For were they who, unknowingly have contributed to their bellies, still here, they would snatch it again out of their hands. But no appropriating hand should be laid on it; for that would be acting the thief, or the robber. The authorities should wait till the jointures are without a possessor (till the present incumbents are dead, or have voluntarily relinquished their rights), and then arrange it with God himself; so that common justice be maintained and no one led into wickedness."
Why should a people, accustomed to form free judgments on human affairs, as well as to express their opinions freely concerning them, oppose with violence such views, founded as they were by Zwingli, at all points, on the Holy Scriptures? Did not experience also teach that the Church of Christ has become great in poverty, and straightway been corrupted by riches? Willingly or unwillingly, the government had to yield to public opinion, and awaken to a still more lively consciousness, that, if it would not continually oscillate, without character, between the old and the new, no escape remained, except in the way which the welfare and honor of the country pointed out; by making common cause with the bold and progressive Reformer.
From this feeling, it no longer threw any obstacles in the way of the public marriage of the clergy in the churches, even that of Leo Judae, people's priest at St. Peter's. William R[oe]ubli, then preacher at Wytikon, anxious to set a striking example, had made a beginning, by wedding the daughter of a wealthy countryman, amid a concourse of joyful guests, on the 28th of April, 1523.
A letter came from the Emperor, accompanied by a decree of the Bishop, in which the prohibition of such marriages, the punishment of those who broke their monastic vows, as well as a severer watchfulness against innovating teachers, were strongly enjoined; but it was all in vain. The Council decided, against the wish of the Bishop, that this "mandate" should neither be complied with, nor even acknowledged, and wrote to him; "in the city of Zurich, its courts and its territories, the Gospel and the Divine Word shall be truly proclaimed, but if any one thinks that heretical matters and articles are preached, let him point them out, whereupon fitting action will be taken in the case."
Just in proportion as Zwingli's position became more secure, his views were transferred to the system of government, and the Reformation taking hold thus of political life, new embarrassments were prepared for him by the very men, who originally supported him, and the first traces of dangerous movements from below upward began already to appear.
The time was ripe for his great work. Boldness only was needed, to give the first utterance to that of which the majority were more or less conscious: The deceit, the abuses that have poisoned our civil as well as our religious life must be put down. In such moments, the feeling of deliverance was awakened in every heart: nobler powers, intellectual activities were stirred up; but mingled at the same time with hereditary weakness, seductive vices and passions, whose charms he, who is born of earth, can not wholly resist; and the brave man, who called the movement into life, had soon to contend less with old enemies, already half conquered, than with the new ones rising up on all sides.
This was the prospect which unfolded itself to the Reformer, as early as the year 1523, soon after the first Religious Conference. William R[oe]ubli, the above-mentioned preacher at Wytikon, Simon Stumpf, pastor at H[oe]ngg, and even Zwingli's former scholar, friend and admirer, Conrad Grebel, are known as the first by whom the congregations were disturbed and seduced into dangerous measures. Among several points, based on the Gospel as they pretended, none was more readily seized on by the people than these—that the tithe, according to the Divine Word, should go exclusively to the benefit of the poor, and that the taking of interest for money loaned was forbidden. In fact, deputies from several congregations in the neighborhood of the city appeared before the Council, on June 22d, with the petition, that, since the tithe was eleemosynary under the Gospel, and theirs was uselessly squandered by the canons of the Great Minster, they might be released from the burden. They were plainly rebuked by the Council in a scaled letter. It was not right in the government to support error. But the flame was not in the least smothered by this act; the bait was too tempting—-to free themselves, under the shield of religion, from a tax, which often before had been resisted. Rude sermons, for and against the justice of the thing, were multiplied. A book, called "Chief Articles of Christian doctrine against unchristian Usury," written by a Doctor Strauss, and another, entitled "Balaam's Little Ass," were circulated. It was also asserted that Zwingli rejected tithes and interest. Grebel even ventured to write to his brother-in-law, Vadianus, in St. Gall: "You wish for news about the tithe-business. I can say nothing in accordance with sincerity and the Gospel, if I do not say, that the people in our world of Zurich defraud in this matter like tyrants and Turks. 'People of this world' I style the tyrants of our fatherland, who go by the name of 'the assembled fathers,' Decimating fathers they ought to be called. Thou art not perhaps willing to believe me, and yet T see it with my own eyes. Only ask Zwingli, who can tell thee everything better than I can."
Such assertions as this, which were echoing already through the whole Confederacy, the prayers of his friends and the wishes of the government induced Zwingli to declare himself publicly on the subject. This was done in a sermon, which was given to the press under the title: "On Divine and Human Righteousness."
In earlier moments of enthusiasm over the rich fruits of his struggle, from a feeling of the wide difference between evangelical freedom and the pressure of the numerous burdens imposed by a degenerate church, a word may have escaped him, which, joyfully laid hold of, distorted and magnified, gave some color to the reproach, that he wished also to attack civil order and guaranteed rights. This sermon, prepared with mature deliberation and assured confidence, shows how safe his standpoint here was, and that his system did not rest on fragments of knowledge, dark feelings and a mere negative spirit of contradiction, but was based on a profound understanding of the Holy Scriptures, in their entire connection.
In seeking to bring the sense of human justice into harmony with the fulfillment of religious duty, the lower position was assigned to the citizen, in his relations to the state, where, in order to escape just punishment, he is obliged to obey; and the higher to the Christian, in the spiritual kingdom of his Lord and Master, where he is bound to aspire after the noblest things, in a spirit of faith, love and freedom. This will be plain from several passages, taken out of this sermon.
"There are two laws, as well as two kinds of righteousness; a human and a divine. One part of the law regards the inner man alone, for we must love God and our neighbor. But no one can fulfill this command; hence no one is righteous, because God only and He by grace, the pledge of which is Christ, can make us righteous through faith. The other part of the law regards the external man alone, and hence we may be outwardly pious and righteous, and still none the less wicked within. For example: 'Thou shalt not steal,' is a command for external life and piety. 'Thou shalt not covet the property of thy neighbor,' is a command for inward, divine life and righteousness; yet both have respect to one thing, taking. So, if one only does not steal, he is pious in the eyes of men, but may at the same time be unjust before God; for he has a stronger desire and temptation perhaps to seize foreign property, than one who has stolen. He, who does not practise usury, is pious before men; for he may be restrained by force from doing it; but nevertheless he is not pious before God; for he must sell all his goods and give to the poor. Indeed, the rich man is bound to give to the poor, that is, to God. But, though no man can ever fully attain this divine righteousness, yet believers have special delight in conforming to it more and more, and the desire is greater in one than in another, according as God has kindled his fire in our hearts; for he works all things in us. Therefore, the divine righteousness ought to be made known and preached to all men without ceasing, else godliness will vanish, and all men content themselves with lame, human righteousness, and all righteousness be turned into an allegory; for then no one would respect God, but look out only as to how he might be shielded from punishment before men, as for some time back we have grieved to see happen in many cases.
"We have now seen, as I hope, how widely the divine righteousness differs from what is merely human. Although this human righteousness is not worthy to be called a righteousness, yet we examine it in comparison with that which is divine; yet has God also commanded it, because he has seen in our fallen estate, that our temptations and desires could not follow or do his will. Christ tells us to be obedient to this human righteousness; for he says: Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. He does not mean to say that the whole world should obey Caesar, but only that portion of mankind, which was subject to him. Had he found the Jewish nation under the king of Babylon, he would have spoken: Render unto the king of Babylon what is due to the king of Babylon. We must understand this of every several government. If you live under the king of France, then render to him what is due to him; and so on, through the whole catalogue."
After this strict separation of the kingdom of God, revealing itself only in freedom and love; and national life, founded on law, order and obedience, he refers interest and tithes to the province of severe human righteousness. Beyond dispute, it would aid the government in disposing of this matter; but just as resolutely did he warn against misuse in the application, against the encouragement of usury, and against the sanction of unfair contracts by sign and seal; for though written guarantees must be kept inviolate according to human order, yet durst you as little forget that the law of kindness and Christian love toward men is written by God himself in the soul. If wantonly violated, they are waked up in the end, and help themselves, in spite of records and parchments. Then you have the decree and your own folly to thank for it. "This brief opinion"—he adds—"I am ready to maintain by the Holy Scripture."
"In short"—he concludes—"the Divine Word ought to rule over all men, be set before them and truly made known; for we are bound to follow it. But in this, the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ alone can aid our weakness. For the more we discover our guilt, the more we discover the beauty and the almightiness of God, and the love and assurance of his grace, which makes us more pious than we can be in any other way. Besides, though some will be found, who do not release the ungodly and unbelievers from the duty of living according to God's Word, yet God has given us also as the lowest command, not that, living only therein, we may be pious, but that human society may be upheld and protected, and guardians appointed, who may earnestly look to it, that the last vestige of human righteousness also be not swept away. Such guardians are the powers that be, who are no other than they that bear the sword, whom we call worldly authorities. These authorities must not indeed trample on the Word of God; for they punish outward transgressions only, but cannot make righteous or unrighteous inwardly; for that God alone does in the hearts of men."
The weight of such language, uttered from the pulpit and spread abroad by the press, bore heavily on those, who derived advantage from the burdens, which prevailing abuses heaped upon the people. And the canons of the Great Minster were especially concerned in this. Indeed, some were found among them, who not only led a life of idleness, but of debauchery and wanton dissipation, and instead of attending to divine worship, wont out hunting with falcons, leaping over the hedges of the farmers, or dared even to hold carousals in the sacristy itself. It is true, that, since Zwingli's arrival, they had been obliged to change, in so far as scarcely ever to venture on such things in public, and, that the number of those, who clearly perceived the need of a remedy, was increasing; and at last they induced Zwingli, as he had given advice, before it would be too late, to stretch out a powerful hand for their reformation.
The result was, a resolution of the monastery to bring the matter to the notice of the government. The latter met them with joy; and by a commission from both parties, a revised order was prepared, in conformity with the progress of religious knowledge and theological science, as it certainly agreed also with the original spirit of the foundation, and that of its most distinguished patron, Charlemagne.
In the introduction of a document relating to this subject, drawn up on the 29th of September, 1523, it runs thus: "The reverend Clergy, Provost and Chapter of the Monastery of St. Felix and Regula make known; since, from a good motive, encouraged thereto by the Divine Word, which lays open everything, they see and acknowledge the abuses, of which they are not the authors, having received them by tradition—with the help of God they will exchange them for the better rules of a good Christian life, and cause them to be practised in another and better fashion than heretofore. Besides, they find that the common people, rich and poor, who support them by their toilsome labor, be it by interest or tithes, have had indeed no pleasure in their prevailing customs and misusages, but felt great discontent at the manifold burdens laid upon them." The improvement consisted in the remission of a considerable sum of dues, which were hitherto drawn for ecclesiastical purposes; in the establishment of professorships for the better education of the clergy; in the greater demands made on those, who wished to come forth as preachers; and in the anxiety manifested for suitable religious instruction among congregations under the care of the Canonical Chapter. Among the present canons and chaplains, whose number, exclusive of the people's priest and his assistants, amounted to 60, whoever was fitted for such purposes, him they would commission, but suffered the others, under pledge, of course, to lead a retired life and attend preaching regularly, to retain their benefices till death, when their revenues were to be transferred to the hospital and the poor of that congregation, which paid the tithe to the Chapter.
But affairs had already come to such a pass, that even well-meant and judicious changes, if not immediately carried out, no longer gave satisfaction. A wild zeal for innovation also found vent in frequent brutish expressions and disorderly scenes. If unpopular canons or chaplains appeared at mass in the church, they were publicly derided; their chronicles were stolen; leaves were torn from a guide-book for the celebration of festivals put up in the choir, and then scattered at the door of the provost's house; and one night the stocks and gallows, emblems of the temporal jurisdiction of the monastery were partly destroyed and partly erected in a different place. By others the lamps in the Church of the Virgin were broken, and the oil spilled, whilst they mutually sprinkled themselves with the holy water. Similar things happened in St. Peter's Church. In the country, a priest even ventured to read mass in slippers and red breeches. They began to call pictures idols, and the examples of the kings and prophets of the East, who contended against the idolatry of their age in every possible way, were arrayed as worthy of imitation before the imaginations of fanatics, who grew more excited, especially as they became acquainted with the Old Testament. A production, composed in this spirit by Lewis Haetzer, under the title of "Decree of God, as to how we ought to deal with Images," was at that time widely circulated.
From this disposition of mind proceeded an event, which attracted attention and aroused indignation throughout the Confederacy, and prepared trouble for the government in Zurich. Directly before the city, in Stadelhofen, there stood on a pedestal of stone, an immense image of the Savior on the Cross, carved out of wood. It was put up by one family, as a monument of devotion, and was now under the care of a miller dwelling in the neighborhood. Many passers-by still did reverence to it. This was a source of great provocation to a number of enthusiasts, who afterwards went over to the Anabaptists, and especially to Nicholas Hottinger, a shoemaker by trade, a man not without culture, possessed of some property, versed in the Scriptures and of a decided character, which, in connection with his natural eloquence, gave him great influence over his associates. It is told of him, that he offered a bucket of wine to the hospital, if he would be allowed to destroy the images and votive paintings in the Water Church; and that he intended to give a banquet in honor of Zwingli at Lindenhof, amid a large assembly of country-people. He had often rebuked the possessor of the crucifix for not casting away the object of idolatry; he had even done it in presence of members of the Council, so that the man at last declared he was tired of the business, and though he would never do such a thing himself, Hottinger had the privilege of doing it, as soon as he had made over to him his right to the image. This was effected, and on a clear day Hottinger came with his companions. They threw down the crucifix, and even digged out the pedestal. The wood, they declared should go to the poor.
Although the actors in this scene appealed to the express command of God; although many approved of the deed, and even a portion of the preachers spoke in their favor from the pulpit, it was still in the eyes of others, perhaps of the majority, especially beyond the canton, an act as rebellious as horrible, yea worthy of death; and they threatened, in case the perpetrators were not dealt with in this way, according to their will and confused ideas, such dangerous consequences, that the government was obliged to cast the so-called "Idol Stormers" into prison for a while. The result of an investigation, conducted in common with the three people's priests, convinced the Council, that the quieting of the people, and the introduction of rules of law for the abrogation of customs, which were no longer tenable, could only be looked for, in the way of a conference, as public and thorough as possible, on the doctrine of Scripture concerning images and the mass also, as connected with this subject.
Hence the collective clergy and laity of the canton were invited, in case they were ready to throw any light on the subject, to appear at the council-house on the 26th of October. Similar invitations were sent to the bishops of Constance, Chur and Basel, as well as to the University at the latter place, to the twelve Cantons of the Confederacy, and to the city and abbot of St. Gall.
The call of Zurich for the first religious conference, nine months before, had scarcely been heeded by her sisters of the Confederacy. But now this actual invitation was received in a different manner. With the exception of Schaffhausen, no canton, it is true, ventured to comply with it formally; but from the answers, yet to be quoted, it may be gathered that, having generally deliberated over the matter, they were decidedly averse to the proposal. Bern, and, by her advice, Solothurn also, declined the invitation, with the prayer, that it might not be taken ill on their part; but as injury as well benefit could grow out of events of this kind, not to a single canton merely, but to the whole Confederacy, the general interest ought to have induced them to confer beforehand in common about the topics to be treated of, as well as about those who were to be invited to the conference. The invitation made a disagreeable impression on Luzern. "You inform us"—so runs the letter from this city—"that quarrels and ill-will about spiritual things are rife among you. This we are sorry to hear, and still more sorry that you have not rooted them up long ago, for which neither right nor might were wanting; and even ha it been so, we as pious Christians would have willingly lent you aid. Now you invite us to a conference; but along with our clergy, whom we think pious, we have found in spiritual and temporal affairs, that such insignificant assemblies are wholly unfit to deal with matters pertaining to faith. We do not wish to attack images, far less the mass, upon which our whole faith is founded. We wish to tread in the footsteps of our fathers—to stand by that, which we have inherited from them and been taught by them; for we do not regard them as seducers, but sainted and pious people. We are willing also to have abuses put away; but by them to whom it belongs. Therefore we send no one, and beg you to accept our reasons in the best spirit."
Still more bitter was the refusal of Obwalden: "To serve you we are at all times ready. But now you invite our learned men to you. Hence we speak thus: We have no particularly learned people amongst us; only pious, reverend priests, who expound to us the Gospel and the other Holy Scriptures, as they were expounded to our forefathers; in which we will trust as long as we live, unless the Pope or a Council revoke the doctrine, and are ready to suffer death therefor. We also can not bring ourselves to believe that the Lord God has given more grace to Zwingli, than to the dear saints and teachers, who have suffered martyrdom and death for the faith. We can not see that he leads such a spiritual life, nay, that he is rather inclined to disturbance, than to peace and quiet. Therefore we desire to send no one to him, nor to any like him. Indeed, if we had him, and would find that true, which is told us about him, we would give him such a reward, that he would never do it again."
Basel, where Zwingli's intimate friend [OE]colampadius (Hausschein) was now a preacher, and in the year following became a professor, returned no answer. The University looked with disdain on popular theological conferences, where unlearned men even usurped the seat of judgment, and the Council found itself embarrassed between the friends of the old order and the new. Zurich complained of its silence.