5. The Zwingli Literature
The general literature in § 4, especially Bullinger’s History and Egli’s Collection. The public libraries and archives in Zürich contain the various editions of Zwingli’s works, and the remains of his own library with marginal notes, which were exhibited in connection with the Zwingli celebration in 1884. See Zwingli-Ausstellung veranstaltet von der Stadtbibliothek in Zürich in Verbindung mit dem Staatsarchiv und der Cantonalbibliothek. Zürich, 1884. A pamphlet of 24 pages, with a descriptive catalogue of Zwingli’s books and remains. The annotations furnish fragmentary material for a knowledge of his theological growth. See Usteri’s Initia Zwingli, quoted below.
Huldreich Zwingli: Opera omnia, ed. Melchior Schuler (d. 1859) and Joh. Schulthess (d. 1836). Tiguri, 1828-’42. 8 vols. Vols. I. and II., the German writings; III.-VI., Scripta Latina; VII. and VIII., Epistolae. A supplement of 75 pages was ed. by G. Schulthess (d. 1866) and Marthaler in 1861, and contains letters of Zwingli to Rhenanus and others. A new critical edition is much needed and contemplated for the “Corpus Reformatorum” by a commission of Swiss scholars. Zwingli’s Correspond. in Herminjard, Vols. I. and II.
The first edition of Zwingli’s Works appeared at Zürich, 1545, in 4 vols. Usteri and Vögelin: M. H. Zwingli’s Schriften im Auszuge, Zürich, 1819 and ’20, 2 vols. (A systematic exhibition of Zwingli’s teaching in modern German.) Another translation of select works into modern German by R. Christoffel, Zür., 1843, 9 small vols.
Comp. also Paul Schweizer (Staatsarchivar in Zürich, son of Dr. Alexander Schweizer): Zwingli-Autographen im Staats-Archiv zu Zürich. 1885. (23 pages; separately publ. from the “Theol. Zeitschrift aus der Schweiz.”)
Joannis Oecolampadii et Huldrichi Zwinglii Epistolarum libri IV. Basil. 1536.
Herminjard (A. L.): Correspondance des Réformateurs. Genève, 1866 sqq. Letters of Zwingli in vol. I. Nos. 82 and 146 (and eight letters to him, Nos. 17, 19, 32, etc.), and in vol. II. No. 191 (and nine letters to him).
Briefwechsel des Beatus Rhenanus. Gesammelt u. herausgeg. von Dr. Adelbert Horawitz und Dr. Karl Hartfelder. Leipzig, 1886. Contains also the correspondence between Rhenanus and Zwingli. See Index, p. 700.
II. Biographies of Zwingli, Including Short Sketches
Oswald Myconius: De Vita et Obitu Zw., 1536. Republ. in Vitae quatuor Reformatortum, with Preface by Neander, 1840. Nuescheler, Zürich, 1776. J. Caspar Hess: Vie d’Ulrich Zwingle, Geneva, 1810; German ed. more than doubled by a literary appendix of 372 pages, by Leonh. Usteri, Zürich, 1811, 2 vols. (Engl. transl. from the French by Aiken, Lond., 1812). Rotermund, Bremen, 1818. J. M. Schuler: H. Zw. Gesch. seiner Bildung zum Reformator seines Vaterlandes. Zuer., 1818, 2d ed. 1819. Horner, Zuer., 1818. L. Usteri, in the Appendix to his ed. of Zwingli’s German works, Zuer., 1819. Several sketches of Zwingli appeared in connection with the celebration of the Zürich Reformation in 1819, especially in the festal oration of J. J. Hess: Emendationis sacrorum beneficium, Turici, 1819. J. J. Hottinger, Zuer., 1842 (translation by Th. C. Porter: Life and Times of U. Z., Harrisburg, Penn., 1857, 421 pages). Robbins, in “Bibliotheca Sacra,” Andover, Mass., 1851. L. Mayer, in his “History of the German Ref. Church,” vol. I., Philadelphia, 1851. Dan. Wise, Boston, 1850 and 1882. Roeder, St. Gallen and Bern, 1855. R. Christoffel, Elberfeld, 1857 (Engl. transl. by John Cochran, Edinb., 1858)., Salomon Voegelin: Erinnerungen an Zw. Zuer., 1865. W. M. Blackburn, Philad., 1868. *J. C. Moerikofer, Leipzig, 1867 and ‘69, 2 vols. The best biography from the sources. Dr. Volkmar: Vortrag, Zuer., 1870 (30 pages). G. Finsler: U. Zw., 3 Vortraege, Zuer., 1873. G. A. Hoff: Vie d’Ulr. Zw., Paris, 1882 (pp. 305). Jean Grob, Milwaukee, Wis., 1883, 190 pages (Engl. transl., N. York, 1884). Ch. Alphonse Witz: Ulrich Zwingli, Vortraege, Gotha, 1884 (pp. 144). Gueder, in “Herzog’s Encycl.,” XVIII. 701-706; revised by R. Staehelin in second ed., XVII., 584-635. E. Combe: U. Z.; le réformateur suisse. Lausanne, 1884 (pp. 40). H. Roerich: U. Z. Notice biographique, Genève, 1884 (pp. 40). J. G. Hardy: U. Zwingli, or Zurich and its Reformer. Edinb., 1888.
III. On Zwingli’s Wife
Salomon Hess: Anna Reinhard, Gattin und Wittwe von U. Zwingli. Zürich, 2d ed. 1820. (Some truth and much fiction.) Gerold Meyer von Knonau: Zuege aus dem Leben der Anna Reinhard. Erlangen, 1835. (Reliable.)
IV. Commemorative Addresses of 1884 at the Fourth Centennial of Zwingli’s Birth
Comp. the list in the Züricher Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1885, pp. 265-268; and Flaigg, in Theol. Zeitschrift aus der Schweiz, 1885, pp. 219 sqq. Some of the biographies mentioned sub II. are commemorative addresses.
*Alex. Schweizer (d. 1888): Zwingli’s Bedeutung neben Luther. Festrede in der Universitaetsaula, Jan. 6, 1884, weiter ausgeführt. Zur., 1884 (pp. 89). Also a series of articles of Schweizer in the “Protestant. Kirchenzeitung,” Berlin, 1883, Nos. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 26, 27, in defence of Zwingli against the charges of Janssen. Joh. Martin Usteri (pastor at Affoltern, then Prof. at Erlangen, d. 1889 Ulrich Zwingli, ein Martin Luther ebenbuertiger [?] Zeuge des evang. Glaubens. Festschrift mit Vorrede von H. v. der Goltz. Zürich, 1883 (144 pp.); Zwingli und Erasmus, Zürich, 1885 (39 pp.); Initia Zwinglii, in the “Studien und Kritiken” for 1885 (pp. 607-672), 1886 (pp. 673-737), and 1889 (pp. 140 and 141). Rud. Staehelin: Huldreich Zwingli und sein Reformations-werk. Zum vierhundertjahrigen Geburtstag Z.’s dargestellt. Halle, 1883 (pages 81). Ernst Staehelin: H. Z.’s Predigt an unser Schweizervolk und unsere Zeit. Basel, 1884. Ernst Mueller: Ulrich Zw. Ein Bernischer Beitrag zur Zwinglifeier. Bern, 1884. E. Dietz: Vie d’U. Z. à l’occasion du 400° anniversaire de sa naissance. Paris and Strasbourg, 1884 (pp. 48). Herm. Spörri: Durch Gottes Gnade allein. Zur Feier des 400 jähr. Geb. tages Zw.’s. Hamburg, 1884. Joh. (T. Dreydorff: U. Zw. Festpredigt. Leipzig, 1884. Sal. Voegelin: U. Z. Zuer., 1884. G. Finsler (Zwingli’s twenty-second successor as Antistes in Zürich): Ulrich Zw. Festschrift zur Feier seines 400 jaehr. Geburtstags. Zuer., 3d ed. 1884 (transl. into Romansch by Darms, Coire, 1884). Finsler and Meyer von Knonau: Festvortraege bei der Feier des 400 jaehr. Geburtstags U. Z. Zuer., 1884 (pp. 24). Finsler delivered also the chief address at the unveiling of Zwingli’s monument, Aug. 25, 1885. Oechsli: Zur Zwingli-Feier. Zuer., 1884. Die Zwinglifeier in Bern, Jan. 6, 1884. Several addresses, 80 pages. Alfred Krauss (professor in Strassburg): Zwingli. Strassb., 1884 (pp. 19). Aug. Bouvier: Foi, Culture et Patriotisme. Deux discours à l’occasion Du quatrième centenaire de Ulrich Zwingli. Genève and Paris, 1884. (In “Nouvelles Paroles de Fol et de Liberté,” and separately.) W. Gamper (Reform. minister at Dresden): U. Z. Festpredigt zur 400 jaehr. Gedenkfeier seines Geburtstages. Dresden, 1884. G. K. von Toggenburg (pseudonymous R. Cath.): Die wahre Union und die Zwinglifeier. St. Gallen and Leipzig, 1884 (pp. 190). Zwingliana, in the “Theol. Zeitschrift aus der Schweiz.” Zür., 1884, No. II. Kappeler, Grob und Egg: Zur Erinnerung. Drei Reden gehalten in Kappel, Jan. 6, 1884. Affoltern a. A. 1884 (pp. 27). — In America also several addresses were delivered and published in connection with the Zwingli commemoration in 1883 and ’84. Besides, some books of Zwingli’s were republished; e.g. the Hirt (Shepherd) by Riggenbach (Basel, 1884); the Lehrbuechlein, Latin and German, by E. Egli (Zuer., 1884).
V. On the Theology of Zwingli
Edw. Zeller (professor of philosophy in Berlin): Das theologische System Zwingli’s. Tübingen, 1853.
Ch. Sigwart: Ulrich Zwingli. Der Charakter seiner Theologie mit besonderer Ruecksicht auf Picus von Mirandola dargestellt. Stuttg. und Hamb., 1855.
Herm. Spörri (Ref. pastor in Hamburg): Zwingli-Studien. Leipzig, 1886 (pp. 131). Discussions on Zwingli’s doctrine of the Church, the Bible, his relation to humanism and Christian art.
August Baur (D. D., a Würtemberg pastor in Weilimdorf near Stuttgart): Zwingli’s Theologie, ihr Werden und ihr System. Halle, vol. I. 1885 (pp. 543); Vol. II. P. I., 1888 (pp. 400), P. II., 1889. This work does for Zwingli what Jul. Koestlin did for Luther and A. Herrlinger for Melanchthon.
Alex. Schweizer, in his Festrede, treats more briefly, but very ably, of Zwingli’s theological opinions (pp. 60-88).
VI. Relation of Zwingli to Luther and Calvin
Merle D’Aubigné: Le Lutheranisme et la Reforme. Paris, 1844. Engl. translation: Luther and Calvin. N. York, 1845.
Hundeshagen: Charakteristik U. Zwingli’s und seines Reformationswerks unter Vergleichung mit Luther und Calvin, in the “Studien und Kritiken,” 1862. Compare also his Beitraege zur Kirchenverfassungsgeschichte und Kirchenpolitik, Bd. I. Wiesbaden, 1864, pp. 136-297. (Important for Zwingli’s church polity.)
G. Plitt (Lutheran): Gesch. der ev. Kirche bis zum Augsburger Reichstage. Erlangen, 1867, pp. 417-488.
A. F. C. Vilmar (Luth.): Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli. Frankf. -a. -M., 1869.
G. Uhlhorn (Luth.): Luther and the Swiss, translated by G. F. Krotel, Philadelphia, 1876.
Zwingli Wirth (Reformed): Luther und Zwingli. St. Gallen, 1884 (pp. 37).
VII. Special Points in Zwingli’s History and Theology
Kradolfer: Zwingli in Marburg. Berlin, 1870.
Emil Egli: Die Schlacht von Cappel 1531. Mit 2 Plaenen und einem Anhang ungedruckter Quellen. Zuer., 1873 (pp. 88). By the same: Das Religionsgespraech zu Marburg. Zuer., 1884. In the “Theol. Zeitschrift aus der Schweiz.”
Martin Lenz: Zwingli und Landgraf Philipp, in Brieger’s “Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte” for 1879 (Bd. III.).
H. Bavinck: De ethick van U. Zwingli. Kampen, 1880.
Jul. Werder: Zwingli als politischer Reformator, in the “Basler Beitraege zur vaterlaend. Geschichte,” Basel, 1882, pp. 263-290.
Herm. Escher: Die Glaubensparteien in der Schweiz. Eidgenossenschaft und ihre Beziehungen zum Auslande von 1527-’31. Frauenfeld, 1882. (pp. 326.) Important for Zwingli’s Swiss and foreign policy, and his views on the relation of Church and State.
W. Oechsli: Die Anfaenge des Glaubenskonfliktes zwischen Zürich und den Eidgenossen. Winterthur, 1883 (pp. 42).
Marthaler: Zw.’s Lehre vom Glauben. Zuer., 1884.
Aug. Baur: Die erste Züricher Disputation. Halle, 1883 (pp. 32).
A. Erichson: Zwingli’s Tod und dessen Beurtheilung durch Zeitgenossen, Strassb., 1883 (pp. 43); U. Zw. und die elsaessischen Reformatoren, Strassb., 1884 (pp. 40).
Flueckiger: Zwingli’s Beziehungen zu Bern, in the “Berner Beitraege.” Bern, 1884.
J. Mart. Usteri: Initia Zwinglii, and Zw. and Erasmus. See above.
H. Fenner: Zw. als Patriot und Politiker. Frauenfeld, 1884 (pp. 38).
G. Heer: U. Zw. als Pfarrer von Glarus. Zürich, 1884 (pp. 42).
Gust. Weber (musical director and organist of the Grossmuenster in Zürich): H. Zwingli. Seine Stellung zur Musik und seine Lieder. Zürich and Leipzig, 1884 (pp. 68).
A. Zahn: Zwingli’s Verdienste um die biblische Abendmahlslehre. Stuttgart, 1884.
G. Wunderli; Zürich in der Periode 1519-’31. Zürich, 1888.
On Zwingli and the Anabaptists, see the literature in § 24.
VIII. In part also the biographies of Oecolampadius, Bullinger, Leo Judae, Haller, etc.
The best books on Zwingli are Moerikofer’s biography, Usteri on the education of Zwingli, Baur on his theology, Escher and Oechsli on his state and church polity, and Schweizer and R. Staehelin on his general character and position in history.
6. Zwingli’s Birth and Education
Franz: Zwingli’s Geburtsort. Beitrag zur reformator. Jubelfeier 1819. (The author was pastor of Wildhaus.) St. Gallen, 1818. Schuler: Huldreich Zwingli. Geschichte seiner Bildung zum Reformator des Vaterlandes. Zürich, 1819. (404 pp. Very full, but somewhat too partial, and needing correction.)
Illustration, H. Zwingli
From the original oil-painting of Hans Asper, in the City Library of Zurich. Reproduced from a photograph of J. Ganz.
Huldreich or Ulrich Zwingli was born January 1, 1484, seven weeks after Luther, in a lowly shepherd’s cottage at Wildhaus in the county of Toggenburg, now belonging to the Canton St. Gall.
He was descended from the leading family in this retired village. His father, like his grandfather, was the chief magistrate (Ammann); his mother, the sister of a priest (John Meili, afterwards abbot of Fischingen, in Thurgau, 1510-1523); his uncle, on the father’s side, dean of the chapter at Wesen on the wild lake of Wallenstadt. He had seven brothers (he being the third son) and two sisters.
The village of Wildhaus is the highest in the valley, surrounded by Alpine meadows and the lofty mountain scenery of Northeastern Switzerland, in full view of the seven Churfirsten and the snow-capped Sentis. The principal industry of the inhabitants was raising flocks. They are described as a cheerful, fresh and energetic people; and these traits we find in Zwingli. The Reformation was introduced there in 1523. Not very far distant are the places where Zwingli spent his public life, — Glarus, Einsiedeln, and Zurich.
Illustration, Zwingli’s Birthplace
The house where Zwingli was born at Wildhaus in Toggenburg. (From Schuler’s H. Zwingli.)
Zwingli was educated in the Catholic religion by his God-fearing parents, and by his uncle, the dean of Wesen, who favored the new humanistic learning. He grew up a healthy, vigorous boy. He had at a very early age a tender sense of veracity as “the mother of all virtues,” and, like young Washington, he would never tell a lie.
When ten years of age he was sent from Wesen to a Latin school at Basle, and soon excelled in the three chief branches taught there, — Latin grammar, music and dialectics.
In 1498 he entered a college at Berne under the charge of Heinrich Woelflin (Lupulus), who was reputed to be the best classical scholar and Latin poet in Switzerland, and followed the reform movement in 1522.
From 1500 to 1502 he studied in the University of Vienna, which had become a centre of classical learning by the labors of distinguished humanists, Corvinus, Celtes, and Cuspinian, under the patronage of the Emperor Maximilian I. He studied scholastic philosophy, astronomy, and physics, but chiefly the ancient classics. He became an enthusiast for the humanities. He also cultivated his talent for music. He played on several instruments — the lute, harp, violin, flute, dulcimer, and hunting-horn — with considerable skill. His papal opponents sneeringly called him afterwards “the evangelical lute-player, piper, and whistler.” He regarded this innocent amusement as a means to refresh the mind and to soften the temper. In his poetical and musical taste he resembles Luther, without reaching his eminence.
In 1502 he returned to Basle, taught Latin in the school of St. Martin, pursued his classical studies, and acquired the degree of master of arts in 1506; hence he was usually called Master Ulrich. He never became a doctor of divinity, like Luther. In Basle he made the acquaintance of Leo Jud (Judae, also called Master Leu), who was graduated with him and became his chief co-laborer in Zurich. Both attended with much benefit the lectures of Thomas Wyttenbach, professor of theology since 1505. Zwingli calls him his beloved and faithful teacher, who opened his eyes to several abuses of the Church, especially the indulgences, and taught him “not to rely on the keys of the Church, but to seek the remission of sins alone in the death of Christ, and to open access to it by the key of faith.”
7. Zwingli in Glarus
G. Heer: Ulrich Zwingli als Pfarrer in Glarus. Zürich, 1884.
Zwingli was ordained to the priesthood by the bishop of Constance, and appointed pastor of Glarus, the capital of the canton of the same name. He had to pay over one hundred guilders to buy off a rival candidate (Goeldli of Zurich) who was favored by the Pope, and compensated by a papal pension. He preached his first sermon in Rapperschwyl, and read his first mass at Wildhaus. He labored at Glarus ten years, from 1506 to 1516. His time was occupied by preaching, teaching, pastoral duties, and systematic study. He began to learn the Greek language “without a teacher,” that he might study the New Testament in the original. He acquired considerable facility in Greek. The Hebrew language he studied at a later period in Zurich, but with less zeal and success. He read with great enthusiasm the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, poets, orators, and historians. He speaks in terms of admiration of Homer, Pindar, Demosthenes, Cicero, Livy, Caesar, Seneca, Pliny, Tacitus, Plutarch. He committed Valerius Maximus to memory for the historical examples. He wrote comments on Lucian. He perceived, like Justin Martyr, the Alexandrian Fathers, and Erasmus, in the lofty ideas of the heathen philosophers and poets, the working of the Holy Spirit, which he thought extended beyond Palestine throughout the world. He also studied the writings of Picus della Mirandola (d. 1494), which influenced his views on providence and predestination.
During his residence in Glarus he was brought into correspondence with Erasmus through his friend Loreti of Glarus, called Glareanus, a learned humanist and poet-laureate, who at that time resided in Basle, and belonged to the court of admirers of the famous scholar. He paid him also a visit in the spring of 1515, and found him a man in the prime of life, small and delicate, but amiable and very polite. He addressed him as “the greatest philosopher and theologian;” he praises his “boundless learning,” and says that he read his books every night before going to sleep. Erasmus returned the compliments with more moderation, and speaks of Zwingli’s previous letter as being “full of wit and learned acumen.” In 1522 Zwingli invited him to settle in Zurich; but Erasmus declined it, preferring to be a cosmopolite. We have only one letter of Zwingli to Erasmus, but six of Erasmus to Zwingli. The influence of the great scholar on Zwingli was emancipating and illuminating. Zwingli, although not exactly his pupil, was no doubt confirmed by him in his high estimate of the heathen classics, his opposition to ecclesiastical abuses, his devotion to the study of the Scriptures, and may have derived from him his moderate view of hereditary sin and guilt, and the first suggestion of the figurative interpretation of the words of institution of the Lord’s Supper. But he dissented from the semi-Pelagianism of Erasmus, and was a firm believer in predestination. During the progress of the Reformation they were gradually alienated, although they did not get into a personal controversy. In a letter of Sept. 3, 1522, Erasmus gently warns Zwingli to fight not only bravely, but also prudently, and Christ would give him the victory. He did not regret his early death. Glareanus also turned from him, and remained in the old Church. But Zwingli never lost respect for Erasmus, and treated even Hutten with generous kindness after Erasmus had cast him off.
On his visit to Basle he became acquainted with his biographer, Oswald Myconius, the successor of Oecolampadius (not to be confounded with Frederick Myconius, Luther’s friend).
Zwingli took a lively interest in public affairs. Three times he accompanied, according to Swiss custom, the recruits of his congregation as chaplain to Italy, in the service of Popes Julius II. and Leo X., against France. He witnessed the storming of Pavia (1512), probably also the victory at Novara (1513), and the defeat at Marignano (1515). He was filled with admiration for the bravery of his countrymen, but with indignation and grief at the demoralizing effect of the foreign military service. He openly attacked this custom, and made himself many enemies among the French party.
His first book, “The Labyrinth,” is a German poem against the corruptions of the times, written about 1510. It represents the fight of Theseus with the Minotaur and the wild beasts in the labyrinth of the world, — the one-eyed lion (Spain), the crowned eagle (the emperor), the winged lion (Venice), the cock (France), the ox (Switzerland), the bear (Savoy). The Minotaur, half man, half bull, represents, he says, “the sins, the vices, the irreligion, the foreign service of the Swiss, which devour the sons of the nation.” His second poetic work of that time, “The Fable of the Ox,” is likewise a figurative attack upon the military service by which Switzerland became a slave of foreign powers, especially of France.
He superintended the education of two of his brothers and several of the noblest young men of Glarus, as Aegidius Tschudi (the famous historian), Valentine Tschudi, Heer, Nesen, Elmer, Brunner, who were devotedly, and gratefully attached to him, and sought his advice and comfort, as their letters show.
Zwingli became one of the most prominent and influential public men in Switzerland before he left Glarus; but he was then a humanist and a patriot rather than a theologian and a religious teacher. He was zealous for intellectual culture and political reform, but shows no special interest in the spiritual welfare of the Church. He did not pass through a severe struggle and violent crisis, like Luther, but by diligent seeking and searching he attained to the knowledge of the truth. His conversion was a gradual intellectual process, rather than a sudden breach with the world; but, after he once had chosen the Scriptures for his guide, he easily shook off the traditions of Rome, which never had a very strong hold upon him. That process began at Glarus, and was completed at Zurich.
His moral character at Glarus and at Einsiedeln was, unfortunately, not free from blemish. He lacked the grace of continence and fell with apparent ease into a sin which was so common among priests, and so easily overlooked if only proper caution was observed, according to the wretched maxim, “Si non caste, saltem caute.” The fact rests on his own honest confession, and was known to his friends, but did not injure his standing and influence; for he was in high repute as a priest, and even enjoyed a papal pension. He resolved to reform in Glarus, but relapsed in Einsiedeln under the influence of bad examples, to his deep humiliation. After his marriage in Zurich, his life was pure and honorable and above the reproach of his enemies.
Notes on Zwingli’s Moral Character
Recent discussions have given undue prominence to the blot which rests on Zwingli’s earlier life, while yet a priest in the Roman Church. Janssen, the ultramontane historian, has not one word of praise for Zwingli, and violates truth and charity by charging him with habitual, promiscuous, and continuous licentiousness, not reflecting that he thereby casts upon the Roman Church the reproach of inexcusable laxity in discipline. Zwingli was no doubt guilty of occasional transgressions, but probably less guilty than the majority of Swiss priests who lived in open or secret concubinage at that time (see § 2); yea, he stood so high in public estimation at Einsiedeln and Zurich, that Pope Hadrian VI., through his Swiss agent, offered him every honor except the papal chair. But we will not excuse him, nor compare his case (as some have done) with that of St. Augustin; for Augustin, when he lived in concubinage, was not a priest and not even baptized, and he confessed his sin before the whole world with deeper repentance than Zwingli, who rather made light of it. The facts are these: —
1) Bullinger remarks (Reformationsgesch. I. 8) that Zwingli was suspected in Glarus of improper connection with several women (“weil er wegen einiger Weiber verargwohnt war”). Bullinger was his friend and successor, and would not slander him; but he judged mildly of a vice which was so general among priests on account of celibacy. He himself was the son of a priest, as was also Leo Judae.
2) Zwingli, in a confidential letter to Canon Utinger at Zurich, dated Einsiedeln, Dec. 3, 1518 (Opera, VII. 54-57), contradicts the rumor that he had seduced the daughter of an influential citizen in Einsiedeln, but admits his unchastity. This letter is a very strange apology, and, as he says himself, a blateratio rather than a satisfactio. He protests, on the one hand (what Janssen omits to state), that he never dishonored a married woman or a virgin or a nun (“ea ratio nobis perpetuo fuit, nec alienum thorum conscendere, nec virginem vitiare, nec Deo dicatam profanare”); but, on the other hand, he speaks lightly, we may say frivolously, of his intercourse with the impure daughter of a barber who was already dishonored, and apologizes for similar offences committed in Glarus. This is the worst feature in the letter, and casts a dark shade on his character at that time. He also refers (p. 57) to the saying of Aeneas Sylvius (Pope Pius II.): “Non est qui vigesimum annum excessit, nec virginem tetigerit.” His own superiors set him a bad example. Nevertheless he expresses regret, and applies to himself the word, 2Pe_2:22, and says, “Christus per nos blasphematur.”
3) Zwingli, with ten other priests, petitioned the bishop of Constance in Latin (Einsiedeln, July 2, 1522), and the Swiss Diet in German (Zurich, July 13, 1522), to permit the free preaching of the gospel and the marriage of the clergy. He enforces the petition by an incidental confession of the scandalous life of the clergy, including himself (Werke, I. 39): “Eür ehrsam Wysheit hat bisher gesehen das unehrbar schandlich Leben, welches wir leider bisher geführt haben (wir wollen allein von uns selbst geredet haben) mit Fraün, damit wir männiglich übel verärgert und verbösert haben.” But this document with eleven signatures (Zwingli’s is the last) is a general confession of clerical immorality in the past, and does not justify Janssen’s inference that Zwingli continued such life at that time. Janssen (Ein zweites Wort an meine Kritiker, p. 47), moreover, mistakes in this petition the Swiss word rüw (Ruhe, rest) for rüwen (Reü, repentance), and makes the petitioners say that they felt “no repentance,” instead of “no rest.” The document, on the contrary, shows a decided advance of moral sentiment as compared with the lame apology in the letter to Utinger, and deeply deplores the state of clerical immorality. It is rather creditable to the petitioners than otherwise; certainly very honest.
4) In a letter to his five brothers, Sept. 17, 1522, to whom he dedicated a sermon on “the ever pure Virgin Mary, mother of God,” Zwingli confesses that he was subject to Hoffahrt, Fressen, Unlauterkeit, and other sins of the flesh (Werke, I. 86). This is his latest confession; but if we read it in connection with the whole letter, it makes the impression that he must have undergone a favorable change about that time, and concluded a regular, though secret, connection with his wife. As to temperance, Bullinger (I. 305) gives him the testimony that he was “very temperate in eating and drinking.”
5) Zwingli was openly married in April, 1524, to Anna Reinhart, a respectable widow, and mother of several children, after having lived with her about two years before in secret marriage. But this fact, which Janssen construes into a charge of “unchaste intercourse,” was known to his intimate friends; for Myconius, in a letter of July 22, 1522, sends greetings to Zwingli and his wife (“Vale cum uxore quam felicissime et tuis omnibus,” Opera, VII. 210; and again: “Vale cum uxore in Christo,” p. 253). The same is implied in a letter of Bucer, April 14, 1524 (p. 335; comp. the note of the editors). “The cases,” says Moerikofer (I. 211), “were very frequent at that time, even with persons of high position, that secret marriages were not ratified by a religious ceremony till weeks and months afterwards.” Before the Council of Trent secret marriages were legitimate and valid. (Can. et Decr. Conc. Trid., Sess. XXIV., Decr. de reform. matrimonii.)
Zwingli’s character was unmercifully attacked by Janssen in his Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, III. 83 sq.; An meine Kritiker (1883), 127-140; Ein zweites Wort an meine Kritiker (1888), 45-48; defended as far as truth permits by Ebrard, Janssen und die Reformation (1882); Usteri, Ulrich Zwingli (1883), 34-47; Alex. Schweizer, articles in the “Protest. Kirchenzeitung,” Berlin, 1883, Nos. 23-27. Janssen answered Ebrard, but not Usteri and Schweizer. The main facts were correctly stated before this controversy by Moerikofer, I. 49-53 and 128), and briefly also by Hagenbach, and Merle (bk. VIII. ch. 6).
8. Zwingli in Einsiedeln
In 1516 Zwingli left Glarus on account of the intrigues of the French political party, which came into power after the victory of the French at Marignano (1515), and accepted a call to Einsiedeln, but kept his charge and expected to return; for the congregation was much attached to him, and promised to build him a new parsonage. He supplied the charge by a vicar, and drew his salary for two years, until he was called to Zurich, when he resigned.
Einsiedeln is a village with a Benedictine convent in the Catholic canton Schwyz. It was then, and is to this day, a very famous resort of pilgrims to the shrine of a wonder-working black image of the Virgin Mary, which is supposed to have fallen from heaven. The number of annual pilgrims from Switzerland, Germany, France, and Italy exceeds a hundred thousand.
Here, then, was a large field of usefulness for a preacher. The convent library afforded special facilities for study.
Zwingli made considerable progress in his knowledge of the Scriptures and the Fathers. He read the annotations of Erasmus and the commentaries of Origen, Ambrose, Jerome, and Chrysostom. He made extracts on the margin of his copies of their works which are preserved in the libraries at Zurich. He seems to have esteemed Origen, Jerome, and Chrysostom more, and Augustin less, than Luther did; but he also refers frequently to Augustin in his writings.
We have an interesting proof of his devotion to the Greek Testament in a MS. preserved in the city library at Zurich. In 1517 he copied with his own hand very neatly the Epistles of Paul and the Hebrews in a little book for constant and convenient use. The text is taken from the first edition of Erasmus, which appeared in March, 1516, and corrects some typographical errors. It is very legible and uniform, and betrays an experienced hand; the marginal notes, in Latin, from Erasmus and patristic commentators, are very small and almost illegible. On the last page he added the following note in Greek: —
“These Epistles were written at Einsiedeln of the blessed Mother of God by Huldreich Zwingli, a Swiss of Toggenburg, in the year one thousand five hundred and seventeen of the Incarnation, in the month of June. Happily ended.”
At the same time he began at Einsiedeln to attack from the pulpit certain abuses and the sale of indulgences, when Samson crossed the Alps in August, 1518. He says that he began to preach the gospel before Luther’s name was known in Switzerland, adding, however, that at that time he depended too much on Jerome and other Fathers instead of the Scriptures. He told Cardinal Schinner in 1517 that popery had poor foundation in the Scriptures. Myconius, Bullinger, and Capito report, in substantial agreement, that Zwingli preached in Einsiedeln against abuses, and taught the people to worship Christ, and not the Virgin Mary. The inscription on the entrance gate of the convent, promising complete remission of sins, was taken down at his instance. Beatus Rhenanus, in a letter of Dec. 6, 1518, applauds his attack upon Samson, the restorer of indulgences, and says that Zwingli preached to the people the purest philosophy of Christ from the fountain.
On the strength of these testimonies, many historians date the Swiss Reformation from 1516, one year before that of Luther, which began Oct. 31, 1517. But Zwingli’s preaching at Einsiedeln had no such consequences as Luther’s Theses. He was not yet ripe for his task, nor placed on the proper field of action. He was at that time simply an Erasmian or advanced liberal in the Roman Church, laboring for higher education rather than religious renovation, and had no idea of a separation. He enjoyed the full confidence of the abbot, the bishop of Constance, Cardinal Schinner, and even the Pope. At Schinner’s recommendation, he was offered an annual pension of fifty guilders from Rome as an encouragement in the pursuit of his studies, and he actually received it for about five years (from 1515 to 1520). Pucci, the papal nuncio at Zurich, in a letter dated Aug. 24, 1518, appointed him papal chaplain (Accolitus Capellanus), with all the privileges and honors of that position, assigning as the reason “his splendid virtues and merits,” and promising even higher dignities. He also offered to double his pension, and to give him in addition a canonry in Basle or Coire, on condition that he should promote the papal cause. Zwingli very properly declined the chaplaincy and the increase of salary, and declared frankly that he would never sacrifice a syllable of the truth for love of money; but he continued to receive the former pension of fifty guilders, which was urged upon him without condition, for the purchase of books. In 1520 he declined it altogether, — what he ought to have done long before. Francis Zink, the papal chaplain at Einsiedeln, who paid the pension, was present at Zwingli’s interview with Pucci, and says, in a letter to the magistracy at Zurich (1521), that Zwingli could not well have lived without the pension, but felt very badly about it, and thought of returning to Einsiedeln. Even as late as Jan. 23, 1523, Pope Adrian VI., unacquainted with the true state of things, wrote to Zwingli a kind and respectful letter, hoping to secure through him the influence of Zurich for the holy see.
9. Zwingli and Luther
Comp. Vol. VI. §§ 68-71, and the portrait of Luther.
The training of Zwingli for his life-work differs considerably from that of Luther. This difference affected their future work, and accounts in part for their collision when they met as antagonists in writing, and on one occasion (at Marburg) face to face, in a debate on the real presence. Comparisons are odious when partisan or sectarian feeling is involved, but necessary and useful if impartial.
Both Reformers were of humble origin, but with this difference: Luther descended from the peasantry, and had a hard and rough schooling, which left its impress upon his style of polemics, and enhanced his power over the common people; while Zwingli was the son of a magistrate, the nephew of a dean and an abbot, and educated under the influence of the humanists, who favored urbanity of manners. Both were brought up by pious parents and teachers in the Catholic faith; but Luther was far more deeply rooted in it than Zwingli, and adhered to some of its doctrines, especially on the sacraments, with great tenacity to the end. He also retained a goodly portion of Romish exclusivism and intolerance. He refused to acknowledge Zwingli as a brother, and abhorred his view of the salvation of unbaptized children and pious heathen.
Zwingli was trained in the school of Erasmus, and passed from the heathen classics directly to the New Testament. He represents more than any other Reformer, except Melanchthon, the spirit of the Renaissance in harmony with the Reformation. He was a forerunner of modern liberal theology. Luther struggled through the mystic school of Tauler and Staupitz, and the severe moral discipline of monasticism, till he found peace and comfort in the doctrine of justification by faith. Both loved poetry and music next to theology, but Luther made better use of them for public worship, and composed hymns and tunes which are sung to this day.
Both were men of providence, and became, innocently, reformers of the Church by the irresistible logic of events. Both drew their strength and authority from the Word of God. Both labored independently for the same cause of evangelical truth, the one on a smaller, the other on a much larger field. Luther owed nothing to Zwingli, and Zwingli owed little or nothing to Luther. Both were good scholars, great divines, popular preachers, heroic characters.
Zwingli broke easily and rapidly with the papal system, but Luther only step by step, and after a severe struggle of conscience. Zwingli was more radical than Luther, but always within the limits of law and order, and without a taint of fanaticism; Luther was more conservative, and yet the chief champion of freedom in Christ. Zwingli leaned to rationalism, Luther to mysticism; yet both bowed to the supreme authority of the Scriptures. Zwingli had better manners and more self-control in controversy; Luther surpassed him in richness and congeniality of nature. Zwingli was a republican, and aimed at a political and social, as well as an ecclesiastical reformation; Luther was a monarchist, kept aloof from politics and war, and concentrated his force upon the reformation of faith and doctrine. Zwingli was equal to Luther in clearness and acuteness of intellect and courage of conviction, superior in courtesy, moderation, and tolerance, but inferior in originality, depth, and force. Zwingli’s work and fame were provincial; Luther’s, worldwide. Luther is the creator of the modern high-German book language, and gave to his people a vernacular Bible of enduring vitality. Zwingli had to use the Latin, or to struggle with an uncouth dialect; and the Swiss Version of the Bible by his faithful friend Leo Judae remained confined to German Switzerland, but is more accurate, and kept pace in subsequent revisions with the progress of exegesis. Zwingli can never inspire, even among his own countrymen, the same enthusiasm as Luther among the Germans. Luther is the chief hero of the Reformation, standing in the front of the battle-field before the Church and the world, defying the papal bull and imperial ban, and leading the people of God out of the Babylonian captivity under the gospel banner of freedom.
Each was the right man in the right place; neither could have done the work of the other. Luther was foreordained for Germany, Zwingli for Switzerland. Zwingli was cut down in the prime of life, fifteen years before Luther; but, even if he had outlived him, he could not have reached the eminence which belongs to Luther alone. The Lutheran Church in Germany and the Reformed Church of Switzerland stand to this day the best vindication of their distinct, yet equally evangelical Christian work and character.
I add the comparative estimates of the two Reformers by two eminent and equally unbiassed scholars, the one of German Lutheran, the other of Swiss Reformed, descent.
Dr. Baur (the founder of the Tübingen school of critical historians) says: When the two men met, as at Marburg, Zwingli appears more free, more unprejudiced, more fresh, and also more mild and conciliatory; while Luther shows himself harsh and intolerant, and repels Zwingli with the proud word: ‘We have another spirit than you.’ A comparison of their controversial writings can only result to the advantage of Zwingli. But there can be no doubt that, judged by the merits and effects of their reformatory labors, Luther stands much higher than Zwingli. It is true, even in this respect, both stand quite independent of each other. Zwingli has by no means received his impulse from Luther; but Luther alone stands on the proper field of battle where the cause of the Reformation had to be fought out. He is the path-breaking Reformer, and without his labors Zwingli could never have reached the historic significance which properly belongs to him alongside of Luther.”
Dr. Alexander Schweizer (of Zurich), in his commemorative oration of 1884, does equal justice to both: “Luther and Zwingli founded, each according to his individuality, the Reformation in the degenerated Church, both strengthening and supplementing each other, but in many respects also going different ways. How shall we estimate them, elevating the one, lowering the other, as is the case with Goethe and Schiller? Let us rather rejoice, according to Goethe’s advice, in the possession of two such men. May those Lutherans who wish to check the growing union with the Reformed, continue to represent Luther as the only Reformer, and, in ignorance of Zwingli’s deep evangelical piety, depreciate him as a mere humanistic illuminator: this shall not hinder us from doing homage at the outset to Luther’s full greatness, contented with the independent position of our Zwingli alongside of this first hero of the Reformation; yea, we deem it our noblest task in this Zwingli festival at Zurich, which took cheerful part in the preceding Luther festival, to acknowledge Luther as the chief hero of the battle of the Reformation, and to put his world-historical and personal greatness in the front rank; and this all the more since Zwingli himself, and afterwards Calvin, have preceded us in this high estimate of Luther.”
Phillips Brooks (Bishop of Massachusetts, the greatest preacher of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, d. 1893): “Of all the Reformers, in this respect [tolerance], Zwingli, who so often in the days of darkness is the man of light, is the noblest and clearest. At the conference in Marburg he contrasts most favorably with Luther in his willingness to be reconciled for the good of the common cause, and he was one of the very few who in those days believed that the good and earnest heathen could be saved.” (Lectures on Tolerance, New York, 1887, p. 34.)
Of secular historians, J. Michelet (Histoire de France, X. 310 sq.) shows a just appreciation of Zwingli, and his last noble confession addressed to the King of France. He says of him: “Grand docteur, meilleur patriote, nature forte et simple, il a montré le type même, le vrai génie de la Suisse, dans sa fière indépendance de l’Italie, de l’Allemagne. … Son langage à François 1er, digne de la Renaissance, établissait la question de l’Église dans sa grandeur.” He then quotes the passage of the final salvation of all true and noble men, which no man with a heart can ever forget.