Page images



when developed might be exercised;" for quarter, and in a more seductive form. he was well aware," writes his friend My- The lusts of the flesh are plainly contrary conius, “how much he must know to whom to a life of faith ; the pride of life, when the fluck of Christ is intrusted.” One joined to a priestly career, is a bait that noble resolve filled his soul as he jour is far more skillfully disguised. Among neyed on:“I will be upright and true the most influential men both in Switzerbefore God in every situation of life in land and at Rome was Cardinal Schinner, which the hand of the Lord may place me. a man of no mean powers, who had raised Hypocrisy and lying are worse than steal himself from being a herd-boy to the coning. Man is in nothing brought so much dition of a temporal and spiritual prince. to resemble God as by truth. Lying is He was at this time papal nuncio in Switzthe beginning of all evil. Glorious is the erland, and labored, and not unsuccesstruth; full of majesty ; commanding even fully, to induce the Swiss to enlist under the respect of the wicked." And his the Pope's banner, and expel the French conduct accorded with this profession. from Italy. The rising fame of Zwingli, It is a fine picture, this, of his young and his poverty, marked him out as a manly heart in all the bright glow of its fitting agent to further the Papal interearly vigor. Full of a deep sense of re-ests, and Schinner told him that, in responsibility, of steady application and high turn for his exertions on their behalf, a resolve, and yet without one tinge of pension of fifty florins would be supplied affectation, without any taint of the asce to further his studies. Zwingli at once ticism so common in his day-bright repudiated the contract. But the temphearted, high-spirited, with a flow of good tation was intensely powerful. What a humor almost to gayety; at one time marked act of grace to a poor Swiss priest charmed with a new book or new branch less than thirty years old! What a of study, at another (as, indeed, his whole career seemed before him exemplified, far life long) indulging his passionate love for more strongly than words could have im. music—it would be hard to find a cha- pressed it, in the actual success of Schinracter with more amiable natural traits ner himself. But the love of truth prethan was that of the young parson of vailed! He did not, indeed, at that time, Glarus.

think it unbecoming to receive money But the picture has its dark side-why from the Pope, but he told his envoys in should we hide it? The sins of such explicit terms they were not to fancy that men are beacons to us all, and, by bring. he would for their money withhold one ing out more plainly the common weak- iota of the truth, let them give or retain ness of humanity, lead us to see more it as they pleased. The truth of his clearly the grace by which alone we can avowal was soon manifested. His voice be preserved. In Zwingli's day the rela- was raised loudly against the system then tion of the sexes was most disorderly. becoming prevalent with the Swiss, of A gross licentiousness characterized the hiring themselves out as mercenaries ; as Swiss population, and from this the clergy a Christian, he felt the wickedness of shed. were not free. Bound to a life of celi- ding blood for payment in another's bacy, the priest only swore to observe quarrel : as a patriot, he foresaw the evils chastity so far as it was possible to human that would result from the receipt of weakness, and a very liberal interpretation pensions paid by foreign sovereigns, whose was put upon this saving clause. In this interests might be opposed to that of regard, as in every other, Zwingli had Switzerland. His opposition was unpopdetermined, so he himself writes, to live ular; but no one can question his boldholily; but he fell, not grossly, as the ness or his judgment in adopting the side world then judged, but inexcusably in the he took. sight of God. “By prayer and by dili- In 1513 Zwingli began to study Greek. gent study he succeeded in subduing this He acquired it rapidly and unaided by a enemy too, after in faith he had laid hold master; but such was his application, that on Him who is mighty to save even in the he wrote out St. Paul's Epistles, and comweakest.” It is characteristic of his truth- mitted them to memory. Presently he fulness that we owe our knowledge of his followed the same course with the rest of incontinency to his own confession : he the New Testament.* And now a flood would not appear better than he really was. Yet danger was approaching in another

Myconius, cap. iv.

was a man

of light was poured in upon his soul. The place were the tenets of Romanism more great means of regeneration was em flagrantly displayed. The Convent of ployed, and it began to tell, especially as Benedictines of Einsiedeln professed to he abandoned other commentaries to owe its origin to an anchorite of the which he had been much devoted, and eighth century; and its image of the began to compare Scripture with Scrip- Black Virgin, the great object to adore ture. Learning from St. Peter that no which pilgrims assembled from every Scripture is of any private interpretation, quarter, had been the most precious poshe became earnest in prayer for the teach- session of its founder. Meinrad — such ing of the Holy Spirit; and, as he asked, was the pious hermit's name it was granted him ever more and more of noble birth, who had retired from the to understand its meaning. Thus he world to his solitary cell, but whose relearned how Rome's claim to unchangea- putation for sanctity and wisdom deprived bleness is unfounded, and that God's him of the solitude for which he longed : word alone is eternal: other indications driven from the borders of the Lake of confirmed this conviction. He found an Zurich by crowds of intrusive, though adold Liturgy, which ordered the Eucharist miring, visitors, he had selected Einto be delivered in both kinds. He fell in siedeln, which was then skirted by the with the Litany of Ambrose, once used at Black Forest, as a more inaccessible abode. Milan, and differing from the Roman. Still the fame of the monk increased, until We have been taught these truths from after a residence of six years at his new our childhood, and can hardly realize their home, passed in austerities and the coninfluence over one who had been educated templation of the mysteries and of the in the belief of Rome's infallibility. As grandeurs of Mary, he fell a victim to two the light dawned, how often he must have robbers, who murdered him under the hesitated, wondering whether it was in expectation of finding vast treasures condeed the true Sun shining out, or the cealed within his cell. But the death of glare of some destructive fire that would the holy man did not deprive the spot of consume all faith in things Divine, or the its reputation; it was but the commencefalse glitter of some will-o'-the-wisp emit- ment of a series of miracles. Unseen the ted from the quagmires of heresy, that murderers had been by human eye, but bugbear of Romanism! In the Archi- St. Meinrad, like the Fathers of the teles Zwingli has himself described the Desert, had friends among the birds of difficulty which at this period pressed on the air. Two ravens pursued the assashis mind. Persuaded as he was of the sins, followed them with cries as far as truth of Christianity, to which of its ex- Zurich, and, having even forced their way ponents should he turn? To those that through the windows of the auberge in at its origin were held to be taught in which they had taken refuge, harassed heavenly wisdom ? or to those who, claim- them without cessation, until the strange ing to be their descendants, now exhibit sight attracted attention, and the terrorfolly? “Every one who is not a fool or stricken men confessed their crime. To altogether brutish will answer to them this day the monastery has two ravens on whom the Spirit of God has enlightened.” its escutcheon. Henceforward he applied every doctrine For forty years the cell remained unto the touchstone of God's word: if he tenanted, although an object of venerafound it could bear the brightness of that tion to the surrounding people; when a stone, he accepted it; if not, he cast it canon of Strasburg, the future Saint Benaway. Here is the whole principle of non, established a fraternity of anchorites Protestant truth admitted. All subse- upon this hallowed spot. Their leader quent changes were but the result of its was indeed for a time removed to the application to the different questions that bishopric of Metz; but his holy ardor and from time to time arose.

efforts to reform the manners of his flock It is in strange contrast with the posi- so inflamed them against him that they tion which he had thus taken, that Zwingli rose in insurrection, put out his eyes, and should have been soon after summoned to expelled him from the city. Then the become preacher at the abbey of Ein- saint, now doubly venerated for his piety siedeln. "In no place throughout all Switz- and misfortunes, returned to his former erland had tradition more successfully retreat, and was soon surrounded by usurped the place of God's truth; in no numerous imitators, whose cells were


[ocr errors]


scattered about the place. Another saint and which are sold there in large numbers from Strasburg, Eberhard by name, gath- to the thronging devotees. If the story ered these dispersed hermits into a single of the abbey, taken from these authorized body, placed them under the Benedictine volumes, is so plainly promulgated in this rule, and built a house for their reception. day, how much credence must it have obTo construct the chapel was a far more tained in that more benighted time ! important work: on the very spot on Thousands, indeed, then, as now, came which Meinrad's oratory once had stood, from every quarter of Europe, their long with the very same image of black wood travels and painful endurance to reach the before which he once had knelt, was the abbey showing how fully they believed in temple raised. The day was fixed for its the pretentious and blasphemous inscripconsecration. On the eve preceding, the tion over its gateway: "Here is complete bishop of Constance arrived with a goodly absolution for the guilt and punishment body of knights, and accompanied by Ui- of sin.” , ric, prelate of Augsburg. It was Septem- Most valuable must, however, have her fourteenth, A.D. 948; all was prepared been the opportunity thus afforded to the for the morrow's solemn service. “At mid- preacher of showing to his hearers a more night the bishop and monks went down excellent way; and of this he availed himto the church, and engaged in prayer. self fully. To maintain the delusions of On a sudden they saw the chapel illumined the place was admirably calculated to en: by a heavenly light. Christ himself and rich the cloister; and the burden of most the four evangelists were at the high altar, sermons had been the efficacy of the pilperforming the service of consecration. grimage, and the miracles performed by Angels scattered a thousand perfumes on the Black Virgin. But now a new docleft and right; St. Peter and St. Gregory, trine was proclaimed. each in his pontifical robes, assisted ; and before the altar was the Virgin Mother,

"God,' the preacher cried, 'is every where resplendent as the dawn; celestial choirs, present, and wherever we call upon him in led by the archangel Michael, made the spirit and in truth, he answers us in the words : arches ring to angelic strains, and St." Here I am.” Those, then, who bind the grace Stephen and St. Lawrence, the proto- of God to particular localities, are altogether martyr deacons, performed the functions perverse and foolish; nay, it is not only foolish betitting their order.

The bishop re

and perverse to do so, but anti-Christian; for mained in prayer till eleven the next day, to be obtained and cheaper in one place than

they represent the grace of God as more easily astonished at the unusual apparition; but in another; which is nothing but to limit the those who had not been present, believed grace of God, and take it captive, not letting it him to be under the influence of a dream, be known how free it is. God is in every part and persuaded him to proceed with the of the earth where he is called upon, present consecration. The prelate yielded most and ready to hear our prayers and to help us. reluctantly, and had commenced the


Wherefore Paul says: “I will therefore that ice, whenolo! another prodigy-an unut. That is, we are to know that God is not more

men pray every where, likewise also the women." terable stupor fell on all present, as a gracious in one place than in another. Finally, superhuman voice filled the air with cries Christ calls such people as bind God to that of “ Brother, cease. The chapel has been place false Christians; that is, Antichrist. “For divinely consecrated.”

there shall arise false Christs and false prophets,' Such is the story of the place to which etc.

Wherefore, if they shall say to you, Bethe Swiss Reformer was now bending his hold, he is in the desert, go not forth : behold, steps. The legend had been recognized he is in the secret chamber, believe it not." by the Papal court, and all doubts as to the Pope, who exalts himself in the place of

O God! who else is a hypocritical Christian but its authenticity removed by a Bull of Pope Christ, and says he has his power ? So he Leo VIII., which was confirmed by several binds God to Rome and other sanctuaries. of his successors in the apostolic chair. Thus they bring money in enormous quantities Indulgences, privileges, absolution from to enrich holy places; which, in case of need, crimes and penalties, were abundantly might well be applied to our temporal advantage promised to those who should visit the And just in such places is more wantonness and shrine and confess their sins. Not many ascribes to man the power to forgive sins blas

vice perpetrated than any where else. He who months since, we were at the spot, and phemes God; and great evil has sprung from there purchased the two volumes which this source, so that some, whose eyes the Popes close the list at the head of this article, I have blinded, have imagined they had their sins

pp. 25, 26.

forgiven by sinful men. In this manner God | those that sought should surely find God, himself had been hid from them. To ascribe and peace with him, not through Mary, to man the power to forgive sins is idolatry; but through her blessed Son. So great for what is idolatry but the ascription of the Divine honor to men, or the giving to the was the impression made, that many were creature that which is God's?' '-Christoffel,

awakened to serious inquiry. Some embraced the truth as it is in Jesus, and re

turned bearing away the gifts which had Nor was Zwingli satisfied with attack- been intended for the image; others were ing the special form of error developed in arrested on their way and turned back the pilgrimages to Einsiedeln: he laid axe without completing their pilgrimage. to the root of the evil, and denounced Meanwhile the preacher's fame reached thať Virgin-worship which was then, as Rome; and even as he was denouncing now, the crying abomination of Roman- the Papacy, Zwingli received a most courism. He protested in every way, and teous and flattering letter, creating him with every kind of argument, against such an acolyte chaplain of the Papal chair; adoration. He urged that no creature and, with many expressions of approbawas intended to receive it ; that Paul and tion, counseling him, by his good offices Barnabas had warned the Lycians against to the see of Rome, to merit further testisuch a practice; that the whole tenor of monies of the Pope's favor. the Gospels, and our Lord's mode of ad- After a residence of about two years at dressing his mother, was discordant with Einsiedeln, the office of Leut priest, or any such conception ; that it must be parish minister, of Zurich became vacant, most distasteful to the Virgin herself. and Zwingli was asked by one of the She would say: “I am no goddess, nor canons if he had any desire to succeed any source of blessing;

of blessing; . . . . ye think ye him. He replied in the affirmative. His honor me by worship, ye do greatly dis- friend Myconius and others worked day honor me. Worship is to be paid to none and night to secure his election, and but the one living and true God.”

their efforts were crowned with success. It is difficult to estimate the effect of Zwingli entered on the duties of his new this preaching at such a time, and on such office towards the close of the year 1518. a spot. There were gathered there at It was no secret in the town of Zurich the fête of the angel-consecration, and, that a fresh mode of instruction would be indeed, through the whole year, great commenced by the new parish priest. In crowds of hearers from every quarter. reply to the address introductory to his Even now, when the principles of the Re- installation, Zwingli gave his hearers formation are so widely spread, nearly one plainly to understand his intention to hundred and forty thousand pilgrims visit preach the history of Jesus Christ, followannually this ancient shrine. On every ing the order of St. Matthew's Gospel. one of the many paths intersecting the Nothing can enable us better to realize plain of Einsiedeln may be seen small the state of things in Zurich than the bands of devotees clothed in every variety effect produced by this announcement. of costume, marching often painfully and One party was filled with joyous hope; wearily along to the low chant of some the other, depressed with serious alarm. penitential psalm, and telling their beads To what purpose, argued the latter, to as they wend on their journey. And make such innovations ? This exposition when they were gathered at the pulpit's of Scripture would do more harm than foot, and stood in a picturesque and mot- good. To this the other side replied, that ley crowd, what strange but heart-stirring it was not an innovation so to preach-it doctrines would they hear, and bear away was but following in the good old paths to their distant homes—to remote villages which the fathers had trod, and which the of Normandy and Picardy, to the far-away saints of the Church had commended by towns of Northern Germany! The bold their example; and they cited the hom. Tyrolese, the swarthy Bohemian, the free- ilies of Chrysostom on Matthew, and hearted Hungarian, (for all these resorted Augustine on St. John. Men's minds, to the place,) would tell, and did tell, however, were on the alert, and felt that that it was no longer to be believed that they were

the threshold of great men needed by long travel to reach the events. These half-uttered expressions of throne of grace, but in every place, with disapprobation were but the mutterings out saintly intervention or costly offering, of distant thunder that precede the storm.


The contest was likely to be a severe / voices. The French and Italians were one in every sense; and the fidelity with intriguing for support and for mercenary which Zwingli attacked all kinds of exist- troops from Switzerland, and Zwingli's ing vice was sure to raise a host of patriotic denunciations of their proposals enemies. Certain elements of popularity roused the enmity of all who were in the were not wanting to the Reformer. As pay of either party, or who expected to a preacher he had an agreeable delivery, heap a harvest of foreign gold. With a well-modulated, deep-toned voice, easy these were leagued all the idle and dissoaction. His language was simple, popular, lute, whose lives he reproved ; all the and dignified; clear in exposition, serious priests and monks who had neither piety and fatherly in reproof,' affectionate in nor learning, and felt that their livelihood warning. He spoke as one in earnest, was in danger; and besides, and more and his sermons had all the authority de- than all, the bishop of the diocese, whose rived from an ample acquaintance with authority was imperiled, supported, we the word of God. And although he may well believe, by some who were conspared neither prince nor peasant, neither scientiously fearful of the results of the secret nor open sin, he had withal a tender new teachings, and by all the authority of consideration for the intellectual and spir- the Church of Rome. It was a most unitual deficiencies of his hearers; and he equal struggle to all outward appearance, conjured more advanced Christians not waged by a single man against enemies, to be over-hasty in proposing any change, many of whom were hampered by no “if for no other reason but this that scruples in the mode of their opposition. they might prove that they were Christ- At one time they employed open violence; ians indeed, by the patience with which at another, plotted for his secret assassinathey bore, for the sake of the weak, that tion. Then, when these attempts failed, which, according to the strict law of and the Pope's sentence of excommunicaChrist, they ought not to bear.” This tion had been pronounced against Luther, union of courage with moderation and they tried to resuscitate the old prejudice delicacy of feeling was traceable through against heretics, and called him Luther's his whole career, and especially appeared imitator and scholar. in his preaching “Never,” says My- The reply to this last accusation is inconius, with a little of the exaggeration teresting, as deciding the question as to of a dear friend, “ had there been seen a what Zwingli owed to Luther, and the priest in the pulpit with such imposing ap- conflicting claims of the partisans of either pearance and commanding power; so Reformer, as to which commenced the that you were irresistibly led to believe work of Reformation. that a man from the apostolic times was standing before you."

“Before a single individual,” said Zwingli, To estimate the need there was of such “in our part of the country even heard of the an union of prudence with fidelity, it may this was in the year 1516. Who called me then

name of Luther, I began to preach the Gospel; be well to pause for a moment, and con

a Lutheran ? When Luther's Exposition of the sider the position of things at Zurich. Lord's Prayer appeared, it so happened that I The affairs of the town and canton were had shortly before preached from Matthew on ruled by a Council elected by the body of the same prayer. Well, some good folks, who the people, and greatly under the in- every where found my thoughts in Luther's fluence therefore of popular opinion in all work, would hardly believe that I had not writdomestic policy; whilst in matters foreign ten this book myself; they fancied that, being and ecclesiastic they had been wont to afraid to put my own name to it, I had set that bend to the common voice of the Con- lower of Luther? How comes it that the

of Luther instead. Who called me then a folfederation, and to the acknowledged rule Romish cardinals and legates, who were at that of the bishop of Constance. As Zwingli very time in Zurich, never reproached me with was without material authority, the re- being a Lutheran, until they had declared Luforms he desired could only be legally ther a heretic, which, however, they could never effected by the agency of the Council'; make him? When they branded him a heretic, and it was essential that some considera- | it was then for the first time they exclaimed Í ble portion of the citizens should support be a Lutheran, for you preach as Luther? I

was a Lutheran.....Do they say, 'You must him, before that body could be induced answer, I preach, too, as Paul writes ; why not to take any decisive steps. Against such call me a Paulian? Nay, I preach the word of action there were a host of opposing Christ; why not much rather call me a Christ

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »