Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 44

The Extension of Reform in Switzerland

The Reformation was now established in the three principal cantons, Zurich, Berne, and Basle. The example of these powerful states, greatly influenced a considerable part of German Switzerland. In many places the citizens, who had been inclined to the Reformation but were undecided, now boldly declared their faith in the new doctrines. Schaffhausen, St. Gall, Glarus, Bienne, Thurgau, Bremgarten, Tockenburg, Wesen, and other parts of less consideration, were entirely or partially reformed. The effect of the discussions, followed by the zeal of those great centres, was also felt in French Switzerland, "lying at the foot of the Jura, or scattered amid the pine-forests of its elevated valleys, and which up to this time had shown the most absolute devotion to the Roman pontiff."

The Mingling of Spiritual and Political Affairs

But here we must pause for a moment and draw attention to the great and common mistake of Protestantism from the beginning-that of looking to the secular arm for protection in place of simply witnessing for the truth, and trusting in the living God. No sooner had the Reformers broken with Rome, than they, as if terrified by her remaining power, stretched out their hands to the civil governments and sought the shelter of their armies.

Luther, it is true, objected to the force of arms in the furtherance of the truth, and looked for the triumphs of the gospel through the faithfulness of its friends; yet, as we have seen, he agreed to the princes assuming the entire control over ecclesiastical and spiritual affairs from an early period of the Reformation. But Zwingle went much farther in this dangerous course. When troubles arose, and dangers beset the vessel of the Reformation, through the treachery of the Catholic cantons, he thought it his duty, like a true republican or a christian patriot, to examine federal questions, to counsel the senate, and to sanction an appeal to arms. But the end of these unscriptural proceedings, as we shall soon painfully see, was the inglorious death of the illustrious Reformer, and an almost fatal blow to the evangelical cause in Switzerland.

From the time that the Reformed states assumed, or rather usurped the functions of the church, and the ministers of the gospel interfered with politics, the clouds began to lower and the storm to gather. Desirous no doubt to strengthen the good work within their cantons, and of extending it without, the magistrates of Zurich and Berne published several edicts prohibiting their subjects from attending mass and from speaking unfavourably of the recent changes, and ordered a better attendance on evangelical services: and also, for the purification of morals, they issued a general proclamation against festivities, drunkenness, and blasphemy. But while the civil authorities were thus enforcing their religion by edicts, Zwingle descended from his sacred vocation to that of a political diplomatist. From this time the almighty arm of a divine providence, which had sheltered the great Reformer and the Swiss Reformation, seemed to be withdrawn, and the council of Zurich, though for a time boastful, was smitten with indecision, weakness, and folly.

The First False Step-"A Confederacy"

Influenced, or rather misled, as we believe, by his republican education, Zwingle thought it but right for the Reformers and the Reformation to form a league of self-defence. Having long foreseen that the Reform movement would eventually divide his beloved country into two camps he thought himself perfectly justified in promoting an alliance with the evangelical states. In the year 1527 he proposed what was called a Christian Co-Burghery, in which all the professors of the gospel might be united in a new Reformed confederation. Constance was the first to intimate her approval of the new league; Berne, St. Gall, Mulhausen Basle, Schaffhausen, and Strasburg followed. "But this Christian Co-Burghery," says D'Aubigné, "which might become the germ of a new confederation, immediately raised up numerous adversaries against Zwingle, even among the partisans of the Reformation." The pastor of Zurich was now on dangerous ground, which the end too speedily proved. As a citizen he had been taught to consider the regeneration of his country as a part of his religion, and the church in which he was cradled had for centuries wielded two swords. Even in the present day we are surprised to find how much Continental Christians are governed by what is national.

Luther, who was an imperialist, was entirely opposed to the policy of carnal resistance. "Christians," he said, "ought not to resist the Emperor, and if he requires them to die they are to yield up their lives."

The Five Cantons Form a League with Austria

The Roman Catholics, on hearing of this new alliance of the Protestants, were filled with alarm and indignation. The five, or forest cantons, Lucerne, Zug, Schweitz, Uri, and Unterwalden, remained firm in their fidelity to Rome. The herdsmen of those mountains, long wedded to their habits, their traditions, and their religion, heard with grief and dismay of the terrible wickedness of the heretics in the plains below. As priests and monks arrived in the Oberland from those scenes of daring impiety, and told their wondrous stories to the excited mountaineers, they were inflamed to madness. This cannot be borne with! this pestilent heresy must be exterminated by fire and sword, was their first thought; and they burned with desire to light the faggots.

Almost entirely ignorant of the meaning of the word Reform, we can easily imagine their feelings when messenger after messenger came running to tell them that the altars at which their fathers had worshipped were being cast to the ground, that the images were ignominiously burnt in the public squares, that mass was abolished, and that the holy priests and monks were driven into exile. Their fanatical zeal being thus raised to the highest pitch, and fanned by the artful monks, they were ready for anything desperate; and they were only restrained from proceeding immediately to open violence by the superiority, both in numbers and power, of the Protestant cantons. The bishop of Constance also appealed to them by letter, entreating them to act with firmness, or all Switzerland would embrace the Reform.

What is to be done? was now the important question. We can sit still no longer! To form an alliance with a foreign power without the consent of all the other cantons would be a violation of the fundamental principles of the Helvetic Confederation, and of the league of brotherhood. Nevertheless, allies we must have, and the claims of the church are higher far than fidelity to the nation. And knowing that Ferdinand, brother of Charles V., and Archduke of Austria, was distinguished for his hatred of the Protestants, they entered into an alliance with this prince for the extirpation of Reform, and the maintenance of Romanism.

This was unconstitutional, unnatural, and cruel. Austria was the ancient oppressor and the natural enemy of the Swiss nation-the last quarter from which a Swiss canton might have been expected to seek help. "Had they forgotten," exclaims a modern writer, "the grievous yoke that Austria made them bear in other days? Had they forgotten the blood it cost their fathers to break that yoke? Were they now to throw away what they had fought for in the gory fields of Morgarten and Sempach? They were prepared to do this. Religious antipathy overcame national hatred. Terror of Protestantism suspended their dread of their traditional foe."* The alliance was so contrary to all national feeling and prejudice, that the Austrians had some difficulty in believing it to be in good faith. "Take hostages," said the mountaineers, "write the articles of treaty with your own hands; command, and we will obey!" The league was concluded, and sworn to on both sides, the 23rd of April 1529, at Waldshut. It decreed, "that all attempts at forming new sects in the five cantons should be punished with death And in case of emergency, Austria shall send into Switzerland six thousand foot soldiers, and four hundred horse, with all requisite artillery. And if necessary, the Reformed cantons shall be blockaded, and all provisions intercepted."

{*Wylie's History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 76.}

The report of these negotiations excited great distrust and alarm even among the enemies of the Reformation. By leaguing themselves thus with a foreign power, it was said they were compromising the independence of Switzerland and, instead of an ally, they would find a master. But these feelings, as the first blush of their patriotism, were soon extinguished by their hatred of the Zwinglians. The men of Unterwalden and Uri, in their fanatical zeal, suspended the arms of Austria with their own, and decorated their hats with peacocks' feathers-the badge of Austria. This gave rise to the following lines which expressed the national feeling:

"Wail, Helvetians, wail,
For the peacock's plume of pride
To the Forest-canton's savage bull
In friendship is allied."

The eight cantons not included in this alliance, with the exception of Friburg, united in sending deputies to their mountain confederates, with a view to reconciliation. But they were everywhere disrespectfully treated. Feeling that they had the imperial army to fall back upon, the papists offered every kind of insult to the doctrines and persons of the Reformers. "No sermon, no sermon!" they cried, "would to God that your new faith was buried for ever!" The deputies, retiring in astonishment, were still further shocked in passing the door of the secretary of state, where they saw the arms of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Strasburg, hanging from a lofty gibbet.

The Romish Cantons Persecute the Reformed

Thus war seemed inevitable. All things were tending to an open and immediate rupture. The men of the mountains became violent. In order to defend the religion of their fathers, and to exclude the new doctrines from their subjects, they began to fine, imprison, torture, and put to death the professors of the Reformed faith. One of these cases, however, was so atrocious, that it roused the feelings of mankind, and speedily brought matters to a crisis.

James Keyser, a pastor of the canton of Zurich, and a father of a family, was making his way on Saturday, 22nd May, to Oberkirk, in the parish of Gaster, where he was to preach on the Sunday. When quietly and confidently walking along a woody part of the road, which he had often gone before, he was suddenly seized by six men, posted there to surprise him, and carry him off to Schweitz. He was brought before the magistrates, tried, and condemned to be burnt alive, on no other pretence than that he was an evangelical minister. The remonstrance of Zurich, to whose territory he belonged, was treated with derision, and the barbarous sentence was carried into execution. When first the pious man heard his sentence, he burst into tears; but before the hour of his martyrdom arrived, the grace of God had so revived his courage, and filled him with joy, that he walked cheerfully to the stake, fully confessed his faith, and thanked the Lord Jesus in the midst of the flames, even to his latest breath, that He had counted him worthy to die for the gospel. "Go," said one of the Schweitz magistrates, with a sarcastic smile, to the Zurich deputies, "Go, and tell them at Zurich how he thanks us!" This was a defiant challenge to the men of Zurich, and so they understood it.

War Declared

The Zurichers, exasperated at this outrageous conduct, and regarding it as an affront to themselves, declared war against the five cantons. While it is the duty of the magistrates to defend the oppressed against the oppressor, it is the duty of the minister of Christ, to abide by his sacred calling, and only bring into the field the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. But here alas! impartial history has recorded the sad departure of the great Reformer from the gracious precepts of his Master, of which he ought to have been a living witness. The burning pile of his brother minister kindled the strongest passions of his soul as a citizen and a patriot. He raised a cry against the bigotry and intolerance of the Forest-cantons which resounded through all the Confederation.

He called for the most energetic measures on the part of the authorities. In the council, in the pulpit, he exhorted them to take up arms, to be firm and fear not. Identifying himself with the army, of which he was chaplain, he exclaimed, "We thirst for no man's blood, but we will clip the wings of the Oligarchy; if we shun it, the truth of the gospel and the lives of ministers will never be secure among us. We must trust in God alone; but when we have a just cause, we must also know how to defend it, and, like Joshua and Gideon, shed blood in behalf of our country and our

Had Zwingle been a magistrate in the council, or a general in the army, his appeals would have been consistent and inspiring; but he had forgotten that he was a minister of the Prince of peace, and that the weapons of his warfare were not to be carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through the power of God. At the same time we must remember that it was against political abuses, and not against a difference of faith that he called for force. "As for the mass, rites, idols, and superstitions," he said, "let no one be forced to abandon them. It is for the word of God alone to scatter with its powerful breath all this idle dust. Let us propose to the five cantons to allow the free preaching of the word of the Lord to renounce their wicked alliances, and to punish the abettors of foreign service."*

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 4, p. 477.}

Military Preparations

Meanwhile the popish cantons were not idle. They knew what they had done, and what they had to expect. The war of religion was begun. The sound of the warhorn re-echoed in the mountains and the valleys: men were arming in every direction; messengers were sent off in haste to Austria; but Ferdinand, having been attacked by the Turks, could not furnish them with the troops he had promised. Nevertheless, firmly united among themselves, the men of the five cantons marched under the great banner of Lucerne, on the 8th of June, to join battle with the Reformers. Zurich saw there was not a moment to be lost. Four thousand men, on the 9th of June, well armed, issued from the gates of Zurich to meet the foe. The walls and towers were crowded with spectators to witness the departure, among whom was Anna, the wife of Zwingle. At nine in the evening they arrived at Cappel, a village on the frontiers of Zurich and Zug. At day-break, on the morning of the 10th, the Zurich warriors sent a herald with a formal declaration of war, and of the rupture of the alliance. Immediately the small town of Zug was filled with cries and alarm. The sudden march of the Zurichers had taken them by surprise; great consternation prevailed: men hasting to put on their armour, and women and children in tears.

But just as the first division of the Zurich army, consisting of two thousand men, was preparing to cross the frontier, a horseman was observed spurring his steed up the hill at full gallop. It was OElbi, Landamman of Glaris. "Halt!" he cried, with great emotion; "I am come from our confederates. The five cantons are prepared, but I have prevailed upon them to halt if you will do the same. For this reason I entreat my lords and the people of Zurich, for the love of God and the safety of the Confederation, to suspend their march at the present moment. In a few hours I shall be back again. I hope, with God's grace, to obtain an honourable peace, and to prevent our cottages from being filled with widows and orphans."*

{*D'Aubigné, vol 4, p. 480. Wylie, vol. 2, p. 82.}

OElbi was thought to be an honourable man, and friendly to the gospel; therefore the Zurich captains suspended their march. Many believed his embassy to be peace, but Zwingle suspected treachery. Troubled and uneasy in his camp, he beheld in OElbi's intervention the subtlety of Satan. Unable to obtain assistance from Austria at that moment, they feigned a desire for peace in order to gain time. With something like a prophetic vision, Zwingle went up to OElbi, whom he knew well, and earnestly whispered in his ear, "Godson Amman, you will have to answer to God for this mediation. Our adversaries are in our power; this is why they give us sweet words. By-and-by they will fall upon us unawares, and there will be none to deliver us." No prophecy was ever more literally fulfilled, as we shall soon see. "My dear godfather," replied OElbi, "let us act for the best, and trust in God that all will be well." So saying, he rode off to Zug, leaving Zwingle in deep thought, anticipating a dark and terrible future. "Today they beg and entreat," said he, "and in a month, when we have laid down our arms, they will crush us."

The Treaty of Cappel

The deputies of Zurich and of the Romanists, with the exertions of the neutral cantons, were sixteen days in drawing up and agreeing to the articles of peace. During this time the soldiers of both armies behaved in the most orderly and friendly manner. They seemed to remember only that they were all Swiss. In the camp of Zurich, Zwingle, or some other minister, preached every day. "No oath or dispute was heard; prayers were offered up before and after meals; and each man obeyed his superiors. There were no dice, no cards, no games calculated to excite quarrels; but psalms, hymns national songs, and bodily exercise, were the military recreations of the Zurichers. At length a treaty was concluded on June 26th, 1529, which, as Zwingle thought, was only a suspension of the storm. The warriors now struck their tents and returned to their homes. "

The terms of this treaty, though not all that the Protestants desired, were nevertheless favourable to Reform, yet not unfavourable to the Catholics. It was agreed that the Forest-cantons should abandon their alliance with Austria that liberty of conscience should be guaranteed to all subjects; and that the smaller parishes should decide by a majority of votes which religion they would profess. The people of Zurich-not Zwingle-were elated with the success which had crowned their warlike demonstration. The Bernese, who had contributed nothing towards this bloodless victory, were becoming jealous of the growing influence of Zurich, and, unhappily, a spirit of disunion sprang up between those powerful states, which led to the great catastrophe of 1531.

Zwingle's Christian Confederation

Just at this time, when the mind of Zwingle was too much occupied with politics, he fell into the snare of the enemy. Satan knew his weak point as a Christian, and tempted him with grand ideas of the unity of all Switzerland, and of the Reformed Christendom, by a unity of faith. His motives, no doubt, were of the purest and loftiest character. Meditating day and night how he might advance the Reformation, and overthrow that terrible power which had held the nations of Europe so long in bondage, the idea of a holy confederation consisting of all the Protestant states and nations of Europe filled his active mind. All Christendom was under his eye. No man of his day had such a comprehensive grasp of its condition-political, military, and religious. But not seeing the difference between the principle of law in the Old Testament, and of grace in the New, he honestly thought that it was the duty of the Protestant states to put forth their military power in defence of the gospel. "Why should not," he said, "all the Protestant powers unite in a holy confederation for the purpose of frustrating the plans which the pope and the Emperor are now concocting for the violent suppression of the Reformation?"*

{*Wylie, vol. 2, p. 86.}

This colossal scheme of the Reformer led him into many negotiations to which we need not refer. While they would have done honour to a statesman, they were a reproach to a christian minister. But whatever were his projects, or whatever his mistakes, his object was one, and a noble one-the spread and establishment of the pure gospel all over his native land. This to Zwingle was dearer far than life; and the Master knows how to give His servant credit for a good motive, even though He cannot approve of his work. Besides, it is positively affirmed that Zwingle never abated for a moment his pastoral labours; that he was present on all occasions when his duty called him.

The Five Cantons Violate the Treaty

The popish cantons, enraged at the progress of the Reformation, and its near approach to their own gates, were eager to find some pretext for ridding themselves of the treaty of Cappel. This was not difficult to find. They had never really kept it. What was called in the treaty "liberty of conscience," or what was beginning to be called by the Protestants "the rights of conscience," the Catholics never acknowledged. They knew no distinction between religious and civil obedience. With this fundamental position of the Protestants, the Catholics never could for a moment agree. It necessarily became a principal matter of contention, and the source of innumerable local jealousies and controversies, which daily increased the irritation, and determined the mountaineers openly to violate the treaty.

The cup of Catholic indignation was at length full. Blood! blood! was the cry. Nothing but the blood of living Christians could atone for the destruction of the dumb idols; nothing but the burning piles of God's saints could answer for the ashes of their altars and images. Oh Rome! Rome! when wilt thou be satisfied with the blood of God's redeemed? Thy thirst is unquenchable. The oceans which thou hast shed have only inflamed it. On every possible occasion during thy usurped dominion we see thee thirsting for blood. But what will it be when thy reign is ended, and no more blood to shed? That awful word "remember" will throw thee back over the past and fill thee with visions of blood, visions of the dungeons of the Inquisition, and of the flames of thy innocent but helpless victims. Then all will be changed. Unmingled, unending blessedness, shall be their happy portion; but what of that place where the flames shall never be quenched, where the worm shall never die, where the visions of the past shall ceaselessly flit before thy sleepless restless soul, and where one drop of cold water shall never be procured to cool thy burning tongue? There we must leave thee to the fruitfulness of thy memory, the accusations of thy conscience, and the upbraidings of those whom thou didst deceive by thy sorceries, and drag down by thy delusions to those regions of endless woe.

The Flames of Persecution Rekindled

Switzerland was now divided into two camps, and the gulf which separated them was daily widening. The Forest cantons, backed by the Emperor of his brother Ferdinand, recommenced the persecution of the Protestants with more fury than ever. They indulged in the most atrocious barbarities. The preachers and the professors of the Reformed faith wherever they could find them, they imprisoned, confiscated their goods, cut out their tongues, beheaded, and burned them alive. Those who escaped their intolerance implored the protection of Zurich. Under these circumstances, Zwingle thought it his duty to raise his voice and arouse the confederate cantons. He visited many places in person, addressed large assemblies, appealed to everything that could stimulate the zeal of the people for the defence of the gospel and the liberty of the subject. "These are Swiss," said he, "whom a faction is attempting to deprive of a portion of their liberty transmitted to them from their ancestors. If it would be unjust to attempt to force our adversaries to abolish the Romish religion from among them, it is no less so to imprison, to banish, and to deprive citizens of their property, because their consciences impel them to embrace opinions which are obnoxious to their oppressors."

On the 5th of September, 1530, the principal ministers of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Strasburg-OEcolampadius, Capito, Megander, Leo Juda, and Myconius, assembled at Zurich, and addressed to their popish confederates an earnest and christian remonstrance, but it was utterly disregarded. In a general diet held the following April at Baden, the disputes were renewed with more than their former violence. In vain did the mediating cantons entreat the two parties to banish every cause of discord. The papal party, having made ample preparations, were now determined to make open war. The Zurichers were importunate in their complaints, and even called for a direct appeal to arms. Zwingle thought this the speediest way to bring the mountaineers to reasonable terms. The men of Berne were more temperate; while they admitted that the five cantons had broken the treaty of Cappel, and shamefully violated their own promises, they urged that a milder expedient should be tried.

The Blockade

"Let us close our markets against the five cantons," said the Bernese, "let us refuse them corn, wine, salt, steel, and iron; we shall thus impart authority to the friends of peace among them, and innocent blood shall be spared." This resolution was adopted, duly published, and rigorously carried out. Situated, as these cantons were, on the mountainous part of Switzerland, the measure was one of extreme severity. From the nature of their country, the greater part of the people had little native produce besides their flocks. They were dependent for their daily supplies upon the harvests and markets of the plain. But now those markets were closed, and roads leading to the towns were blockaded. The consequences of this pitiless decree were most disastrous. Bread, wine, and salt, suddenly failed from the chalets of the poor. Famine, with its invariable attendant, disease, spread dismay and death among the inhabitants. The cry of distress which arose from the mountains moved many hearts, and many voices were raised against the interdict, both within the confederate cities, and outside the limits of Switzerland; but it roused those who suffered from it to the highest pitch of indignation and resentment.

Zwingle's Policy

As the part which Zwingle took in the political affairs of Zurich at this time, has been much criticized by historians, and, we think, severely so by D'Aubigné, we quote the opinion of Dean Waddington, who will not be suspected of any leaning towards republicanism.

"It must here be mentioned, that Zwingle expressed his decided opposition to these measures. Doubtless he too maintained that just principle, so constantly asserted by Luther, that the cause of reason and truth, when contending with proscriptive oppression, has no enemy so dangerous as the sword. He even ascended the pulpit and preached against the publication of the interdict. He argued, that the insulting slanders of the papists ought to be endured with christian forbearance; that an example of that great evangelical virtue was especially required from those who professed the gospel. But his fellow-citizens closed their ears for once against his admonitions, and hastened whither their inauspicious passion led them."*

{*History of the Reformation, vol. 3, p. 236.}

As a matter of policy, Zwingle maintained that, if the Catholic cantons were to be punished as evil-doers, the means apparently the most violent, were nevertheless the surest to bring them to a more submissive and reasonable temper, and the most humane in the end. But to reduce a whole population to famine would fill the land with the wail of suffering, and the cry of indignation. He also clearly saw that delay would be ruinous to Zurich. "By this measure," he said, "we give the five cantons time to arm themselves, and to fall upon us first. Let us take care that the Emperor does not attack us on one side, while our ancient confederates attack us on the other; a just war is not in opposition to the word of God; but this is contrary to it-taking the bread from the mouths of the innocent as well as the guilty: straitening by hunger the sick, the aged, children, and all who are deeply afflicted by the injustice of our adversaries. We should beware of exciting by this means the anger of the poor, and transforming into enemies many who at the present time are our friends and our brothers!"* But notwithstanding these truthful and powerful appeals of the Reformer, the cantons, Berne in particular, were immovable.

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 4, p. 536.}

The indignant mountaineers, on seeing themselves surrounded by a formidable power, alone with barrenness and famine between their lakes and their mountains, determined on violent measures. "They block up our roads," said they, "but we will make a way with our swords." They first had recourse to the observances of their religion. Prayers were directed to be offered up, pilgrimages to be made, paternosters repeated, and hymns to be sung. War would immediately have broken out, had not the Catholic leaders found their advantage in delay. They knew that the Protestants were not agreed among themselves, and by delaying the attack, they hoped to widen their divisions.

The Mediators Renew Their Exertions

Several attempts were made at reconciliation, but without effect. Zurich and Berne demanded that the preaching of the word of God should be permitted, not only in the common parishes, but also in the five cantons. This was asking too much under the circumstances; and as they persisted in their demands, they only exasperated the proud and inflexible Catholics. "No," they replied, "we will not listen to any proposition before the raising of the blockade." Deputies from all the cantons met on five different occasions between June 14th and August 23rd. The neutral cantons continued their exertions, with the assistance of ambassadors from foreign powers, until all the expedients that prudence and humanity could suggest were exhausted, yet they were unable to advance the parties a single step towards reconciliation.

The situation of the Reformer was becoming every day more painful and perplexing. It is impossible to contemplate his position at this moment, without sharing the agonies of his broken heart. But alas! he was off the direct line of the word of God, and without His divine guidance. In the troubled state of affairs, as the senate could not move without him, he allowed his natural feelings as a citizen, to displace those of the Christian and the Reformer. But however well intentioned these services may have been, they were inconsistent with his high and holy calling. The unnatural union of church and state, which had corrupted Christianity from the age of Constantine, was spreading confusion everywhere, and hastening the ruin of the Reformation. The tendency of Zwingle's policy, without doubt, was to weld them together; still the word of the Lord remains the same: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." And if this divine precept, this ever-abiding christian principle, be neglected, we may have to reap the bitter fruits of disappointment and disaster. So it was with this great and noble man. He mixed the Reformation with the strife of politics, and it was now far beyond his power to avert the fearful consequences.

The Position of Zurich and the Reformation

Zwingle was anxious, disquieted, and filled with the most painful forebodings as to the future. He saw the storm gathering on all sides. Those who had been his friends turned against him; his enemies, taking courage from the ebbing tide of affairs, beset and tormented him; for there were many at Zurich whose hearts still clung to the hereditary despotism, though they had professed some zeal for the principles of Reform. The partisans of the monks, the friends of foreign service, pensioners, and the malcontents of every class, united in pointing out Zwingle as the author of all the sufferings of the people. Seeing his actions were misrepresented, and the measures he had counselled were rejected, he felt he had only to withdraw from public life.

The magistrates were dismayed. Both Zurich and the Reformation are in danger if Zwingle cease to pilot the ship; they were now in the same vessel, and on the stormy waters of religious contention. Immediately the council sent to him a deputation of honour, and entreated him not to forsake them at so critical a moment. Three days and three nights he spent in prayer, earnestly seeking divine guidance. All the tenderness of friendship, and all the ardour of patriotism were employed in vain by the deputies; but when they represented to him the blow that the Reformation would sustain if he left Zurich, he yielded and consented to retain his post.

By thus consenting to remain at the head of affairs, he had thought to recover all his former influence and restore harmony and courage to Zurich; but he was bitterly disappointed. A strange infatuation seemed to possess both rulers and people. They daily became more and more indisposed towards the war which they at first so importunately demanded, and identified themselves with the passive policy of Berne. But as the Conference still professing pacific objects was held at Bremgarten, Zwingle, attended by two ecclesiastics, secretly repaired thither. He endeavoured to persuade his friends to raise the blockade; representing to them the many evils which it had occasioned, and the fatal catastrophe in which it was likely to terminate. But his pleadings, though with tears and anguish of heart, were all in vain. On this occasion he took a mournful and last farewell of his young friend Bullinger, the pastor of the place, and commended to his charge the tottering church of God.

War Declared against Zurich

During the course of the negotiations the Forest-cantons remained intractable and warlike. Indeed the final proposals of the mediators would probably have been received by the Protestants, but they were decidedly rejected by the Catholics. Matters were now so much involved that war became inevitable. The preparations of the five cantons being completed, they-took the field on the 6th of October 1531. They were the first in arms. The defence of the church and the holy see were their real objects for waging war, though the interdiction of commerce was the ostensible grievance. The chiefs were closely united together, and the people, burning with indignation against those who had taken away their food, and were seeking to take away their religion, powerfully supported them. Their common faith and sufferings, united them as by one spirit for one object, which could not fail to impart resolution and courage in action. But no alarm had yet been given: Zurich was asleep. All the passes were seized, all communication between Zurich and the five cantons had been rendered impossible. "The terrible avalanche," says our Swiss historian, "was about to slip from the icy summits of the mountain, and to roll over the valleys, even to the gates of Zurich, overthrowing everything in its passage, without the least forewarning of its fall."

In the hope of dividing the Reformed, the Catholics declared war, not against the body of the Reformers, but against Zurich only. The eye of Jezebel was set upon the blood of Zwingle. Whoever may be saved, he must be slain. So long as he lives, there can be no peace for holy mother church in Switzerland. Let the battle be against the arch-heretic. Thus inspired by the papal demon of war, the mountain warriors assembled in their chapels, heard mass, and then, to the number of eight thousand, began their march toward the Protestant frontier. A papal army, twelve thousand strong, marched into the free parishes. The soldiers having entered the deserted churches, and seeing the images and the altars broken down, their anger was kindled to madness. They spread like a torrent over the whole country, inflicting all the horrors of war wherever they came. The country people, terrified, and running from chalet to chalet, calling aloud for help, failed to arouse the bewitched Zurichers; yet in four days was the ruin of Zurich accomplished.

The Infatuation of the Council of Zurich

On the evening of the 9th, the council was called together by the assurance that war was begun. Only a small number assembled; and instead of sounding the tocsin, or calling the people to arms, they despatched two councillors to Cappel and Bremgarten to ascertain what was going on. "The five cantons," said they, "are making a little noise to frighten us, and to make us raise the blockade." But at daybreak, on the morning of the 10th, they were aroused from their slumbers by the positive intelligence, that the enemy had crossed the frontier and seized upon Hytzkilch. Still, the council was but partially aroused. The day was spent in making speeches and lengthened tedious debates. A vanguard of six hundred men with artillery was sent on to Cappel to oppose the invaders; the main body was to follow. At seven in the evening the tocsin was sounded in all the country districts.

It was a fearful night, as if nature herself shuddered at the blood that was about to be shed. "The sun went down behind the Albis," says Wylie; "the city, the lake, and the canton were wrapped in darkness; with the darkness came trembling and terror. The bells were rung to summon to arms. They had hardly begun to toll when a tempest burst forth, and swept in terrific fury over Zurich and the surrounding country. The howling of the wind, the lashing of the waves of the lake, the pealing of the steeple-bells, the mustering of the landsturm, and the earthquake, which about nine o'clock shook the city and canton, formed a scene of horror such as had seldom been witnessed. Few eyes were that night closed in sleep. In the dwellings of Zurich there were tears, and loud wailings, and hasty and bitter partings of those who felt that they embraced probably for the last time."*

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 93; see also D'Aubigné, vol. 4, p. 568.}

The Evil Forebodings of the People

This dreadful night was to be followed by a still more dreadful day. The morning came, the tempest was past, but a bright dawn could not dispel the gloom that had settled in the hearts of the Zurichers. The sound of trumpets, and the beating of drums, were calling the inhabitants to arms; but hours passed away before a few hundred soldiers could be mustered. "The irresolution of the council," says Hess, "filled the citizens with uneasiness, and lessened their submission; for the vacillation of a government destroys all confidence, and orders given with hesitation are ill obeyed." Instead of an army of four thousand men, which the council had decreed should march to Cappel, only seven hundred were under arms at ten o'clock, and these were disorderly and agitated, without uniform and inefficiently armed. Zwingle, at the command of the council, and in conformity with the customs of his country, accompanied the army as chaplain. With a broken and a bleeding heart he embraced his beloved wife and his beloved children for the last time on earth. "I know," he said, "what all this means-it is all about me-all this comes to pass, in order that I may die. " He did not deceive himself as to the issue of the expedition, but he thought it his duty to obey the orders of his superiors, without urging any objections. Calm himself in the midst of friends who trembled for his life, he endeavoured to comfort them. "Our cause is good," said he, "but ill defended. It will cost my life, and that of a number of excellent men who would wish to restore Christianity to its primitive simplicity, and our country to its manners. No matter! God will not abandon His servants; He will come to their assistance when you think all lost. My confidence rests upon God alone, and not upon men; I submit myself to His sovereign will."

The Battle of Cappel

At noon, under the drooping banner of Zurich, only seven hundred passed through the gates. The affectionate Anna was seen on the ramparts following her husband with her eyes so long as he was visible. But she had also in that ill-omened army, a son, a brother, a great number of near relations, and many intimate friends, of whose return she had no hope. She shared the forebodings of her husband, and like him, believed that it was for the holy cause of God and His truth that they thus exposed themselves to danger and to death-it was martyrdom.

Zwingle was observed to fall behind his troops. Those who were near him could hear that he was engaged in prayer. He thus rode mournfully alone, praying for the welfare of the church of God, until he reached Mount Albis.

Cappel is only three leagues from Zurich, but the road crosses Mount Albis. On its summit they halted; and some proposed that they should wait for reinforcements; but the roaring of distant cannon announced that the battle had begun. This sound awoke the native feelings of Zwingle. "Hear ye not the roar of the cannon beneath us?" he exclaimed, "they are fighting at Cappel; let us hasten forward to the aid of our brethren." The words of Zwingle prevailed with the leaders, filled them with enthusiasm, and they pushed forward.

Early on the morning of that day, the soldiers of the five cantons attended divine service, heard mass; the host was offered up for the sins of the people, and the army, eight thousand strong, began their march at nine o'clock. The division posted at Cappel was attacked by this army at one o'clock, but being ignorant of their force contended themselves with keeping up a constant fire of artillery. In two hours the Zurichers bearing the "great banner," reached their comrades and joined in battle.

The Catholics, not knowing the extent of this reinforcement, would not hazard a general engagement. The artillery of the Zurichers being advantageously posted and well served, greatly disconcerted the Catholics, who were spread out on a morass beneath them. It was four o'clock; the sun was sinking rapidly. Loud murmurs were heard in the ranks of the Catholics because of the tardiness of the chiefs. During this altercation, an experienced and brave warrior of the canton of Uri, at the head of three hundred volunteers, silently entered a wood on the left flank of the Zurich army, which they had neglected to occupy, and perceiving the weakness of the Protestant army, he immediately resolved to attack them. The mountaineers coming to the knowledge of this oversight, climbed the hill, and under cover of the beech-trees, opened a deadly fire on the men of Zurich. They were within a short distance of them, and ordered to pick out the men they desired to bring down. Having discharged their fire, they rushed out of the wood, sword in hand, and furiously charged the bewildered Zurichers, crying, "Heretics! image-breakers! we have you at last!"

The Death of Zwingle

The weakness manifested and the errors committed by the Zurich leaders, can only be accounted for on the principle of judicial blindness. They had gone far away from the narrow path of the word of God, and He was no longer with them. The church had become the state, and the state the church and the present army was composed of congregations and their ministers rather than of Swiss soldiers. This was failure which God must judge; and the Catholics were the rod in His hand to chastise the children of His love. But what a moral! What a lesson for Christians in all ages!

Finding themselves ensnared and surrounded, the men of Zurich fought desperately; but, being only as one to eight they were overpowered. And to increase the confusion, some of the enemies' spies joined the rear-guard and raised the cry of treachery, which ended in a general flight; but all those who fought in the first ranks, being thus deserted, were cut down. The carnage was great; the Alps were echoing and re-echoing the wild roar of battle, when the curtain of night fell, closed the scene of blood, and more than five hundred of the flower of Zurich slept the sleep of death: "the wisest of its councillors, the most christian of its citizens, and the ablest of its pastors, were left on that fatal field."

But it is with shame and sorrow that we have to record the melancholy fact, that among the slain there were twenty-five christian ministers, who had marched at the head of their flocks. In this respect, we doubt not, the battle of Cappel stands alone in the history of battles. Surely this was expression enough of God's sore displeasure against the unholy mixture of the church and the world, of the theologians and the politicians, which obtained to such an extent in the Swiss Reformation.

But there was one death which affected Zurich and the Reformation in Switzerland more than all the others-the death of Ulric Zwingle. Scarcely had the action begun, when, stooping to console a dying man, he received a wound on the head and fell to the earth. He attempted to rise, but he was thrice overthrown in the press, and received several wounds. He had not drawn his sword, but he had raised his voice, which was heard above all the uproar, to inspire the troops with courage, and to prevent confusion. Exhausted, he lay with clasped hands in the attitude of prayer, and was heard to say, "Alas, what a calamity is this! Well, they can indeed kill the body, but they cannot touch the soul. " These were his last words.

The Camp Followers

When the field of Cappel was in the possession of the Catholics, the camp-followers, with lighted torches, began to prowl over the battle-field. In fuming over the bodies-for the purpose of stripping or robbing them-when they found any who were still sensible, they said, "Call upon the saints and confess to our priests." If the Zuricher refused, he was instantly despatched as a vile heretic with oaths and curses. Among those heaps of slain was one, whose eyes and hands were raised to heaven;-"Do you wish for a priest to confess yourself?" said one of those slayers of the slain, holding the glimmering light of his torch against his expiring features. He shook his head. "If you cannot speak," said they, "invoke the mother of God, and the other saints for their intercession." He again shook his head, keeping his eyes fixed on heaven. "This man too is an obstinate heretic," cried they. But a soldier, moved with curiosity, turned the head in the direction of a fire that had been lighted on the spot and exclaimed, "I think it is Zwingle!" whereupon, a Captain Tockinger, of Unterwalden, who came up at that moment, hearing the name, drew his sword, struck Zwingle on the throat, uttering many curses, and thus extinguished what remained of that remarkable life. And thus too was that scripture fulfilled: "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matt. 26:52)

The night was cold; a thick hoar-frost wrapped, as in a winding-sheet, the bodies of the dead and the dying. At length the day appeared, the body of Zwingle was recognized, and then the full hatred of his enemies-especially the foreign service men-broke out against him. After offering many indignities to the lifeless body, they held the mockery of a council, and summoned it before them. It was condemned, on the double charge of treason and heresy, to be burnt to ashes. The public executioner of Lucerne carried out the sentence, and the fanatical pensioners flung the ashes to the four winds of heaven.

The condition of Zurich, when a few wounded men found their way home to tell what had happened, was beyond description terrible. But we dwell not on the agitation, confusion, sorrow. We only refer to it for the purpose of introducing one chief mourner-Anna Zwingle. She had heard from her own house the repeated discharges of artillery. She feared the worst. What hours of anguish! But at length she knows all: her husband, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, and almost all her dear friends, lie cold on the heights of Cappel. But though a woman, a wife, and a mother, she was a true Christian, and committed herself and her young children to God's tender care, and sought to rejoice in the midst of her tears, that so many whom she loved had received the crown of martyrdom.

Reflections on the Life of Zwingle

As we have discussed pretty freely, in passing, the character and principles of the great Swiss Reformer, we have little to add by way of reflection. But we cannot bid farewell to this sad scene, without offering our tribute of grateful respect to one whom God raised up and so wonderfully used and of expressing our deep sorrow that so great a light should have deviated from the narrow path, and led so many after him.

In tracing his steps from the herdsman's cottage in the Valley of the Tockenburg, we have seen much to admire and imitate, for which also posterity must be ever thankful. He pursued with constancy and fearlessness the convictions of his own mind, as to the teaching of the word of God, so far as he understood its spiritual meaning and application. We can never forget nor undervalue the noble stand he frequently made for the absolute authority of the word of God, and that at a time, when its existence was scarcely known, and had never been read, even by the priests and monks. In those halls of public disputation, when he placed his Hebrew Bible and his Greek New Testament on the table before him, and appealed to these books as the only standard of faith and practice, God was glorified, His power was manifested, and the Catholics were utterly confounded, and driven back into the darkness of their superstitions.

Zwingle, as the representative man of his time, stood triumphant. The light of the Reformation progressed rapidly, and seemed as if it would soon shed its radiance over every mountain and valley in Switzerland. All but the Forest-cantons had received the truth, either wholly or partially, and had he gone on in simple dependence upon the living God and the word of His grace, even the Oberland might soon have submitted to the new faith. But from the time that Zwingle counselled Zurich to punish the persecutors with the sword, he assumed the character of the politician. And though he was still the sincere Christian and the earnest Reformer, he thought it was his duty to study the cabinets of kings, the councils of the people, and the movements of armies. This was the rock on which the vessel of the Reformation struck, and struck with all sails set, and Zwingle at the helm. We have seen the wreck; and surely it ought to be as a beacon-light to all Christians in all ages. But instead of that there are many of the Reformed ministers so-called, even in the present day, who commend the zeal of Zwingle as a patriot and a politician; and argue that he suffered from the rashness of others.

True, he strongly objected to the blockade which led to the war; but he advocated a direct appeal to arms, which is as far from the spirit of Christ as a commercial interdict. And the two things for which the Reformer urged the government of Zurich to take up arms were the slanders and the persecutions of the papists. But what does the blessed Lord say? "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." And again, "Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not." And knowing the state of irritation which slander and persecution would naturally produce, the gracious Lord condescends to approach the oppressed in terms of the greatest endearment. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Surely both the blockade and the appeal to arms meet their utter condemnation in these divine precepts of our Lord and Master. (Matt. 5:11-12; Rom. 12:14, 19, 20)

The Christian is saved by grace, he stands by grace, and he ought to be the witness of grace, and that, under all circumstances. The last of these the great Reformer never understood. He never saw the truth of the Christian's separation from the world by the death and resurrection of Christ, or the heavenly relations of the church as the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Still, the word of God is plain enough, and we can find no shelter for our ignorance. At the same time, more allowance must be made for Zwingle than for many ministers of the gospel in our own day, who take a leading part in the political affairs of the world. Emerging from the darkness of popery which has no argument but the sword, and nurtured in the midst of Swiss liberty, and in the histories of the ancient republics, he honestly believed from his earliest days that tyrants should be opposed, and that Christians should unite with the government in resisting them. From not seeing, after his conversion, the heavenly calling and character of the Christian, he acted on these principles as the leader of the Reformed party.

D'Aubigné, we are glad to find, so far agrees with the views we have expressed; thus he writes-"Zwingle observing how all the powers were rising against the Reformation, had conceived the plan of a co-burghery or christian state, which should unite all the friends of the word of God in one holy and powerful league. This political phase of his character is in the eyes of some persons his highest claim to glory; we do not hesitate to acknowledge it as his greatest fault. The Reformer, deserting the paths of the apostles, allowed himself to be led astray by the perverse example of popery. The primitive church never opposed their persecutors but by the dispositions of the gospel of peace. Faith was the only sword by which it vanquished the mighty ones of the earth." But Zwingle himself appears to have had some conflict in his mind on this subject, as he says, "No doubt, it is not by human strength, it is by the strength of God alone that the word of the Lord should be upheld. But God often makes use of men as instruments to succour men. Let us therefore unite, and from the sources of the Rhine to Strasburg let us form but one people and one alliance."

As to his great intellectual powers, his literary and his theological works, we will allow a competent witness to bear his testimony. Dean Waddington, speaking of Zwingle, says, when we regard the many ingenious and elaborate compositions, polemical, exegetical, hermeneutical, which he produced in little more than twelve years-years, too, distracted by a thousand other cares and occupations-and which will remain an everlasting memorial of an extensive erudition, a sound judgment, a temper, upon the whole candid and charitable, a calm, considerate, earnest faith; it is a matter of serious sorrow, even now, that he was cut off thus unseasonably. . . .

"Together with several just and profound views of scriptural interpretation, his works contain many noble sentiments, flowing from an enlarged and elevated spirit. Gifted with much penetration, incited by an honest zeal, regulated by consummate prudence, firm and forbearing, he did not stain these great qualities by a single fault. He showed great sagacity in accomplishing his purposes; he was never guided, either in his acts or in his writings, by any factious spirit; and he was never suspected of any unworthy motive."*

{*History of the Reformation, vol. 3, p. 242.}

Zwingle was not forty-eight years old when he died. He was in the full vigour of life and the maturity of his understanding. With gifts so rich and varied, what might he not have done for the Reformation in Switzerland, and even in Europe, had he restricted himself to the ministry of the word of God' But if we fail to do the Lord's work in His way, it may be taken from us and given to another. "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man strive also for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." (2 Tim. 2:4-5)

Treaties of Peace

The news of the disgraceful treatment of the remains of Zwingle, aroused the indignation and anger of Zurich. She rallied her forces, and the Bernese gathered from all quarters for the support of their ally. The combined army was very formidable; they assumed the offensive, and invaded the canton of Zug; but the Lord was not with them. They again exhibited every form of incapacity. With no combined plan of operation, they commenced in rashness and disunion, and insubordination prevailed, while the Catholics were orderly, united, and resolute. The victory was easy and complete.

These successes, which far surpassed the expectation of the five cantons, inspired them with religious confidence as to the holiness of their cause; and the Reformers, from their reverses, became dispirited and disposed to treat for peace. Negotiations were renewed; two treaties were drawn up and signed by the Zurichers and the Bernese, on the 16th and 23rd of November, which annulled the treaty of 1529, and gave decided advantages to the enemies of the Reformation. These treaties are of great historical importance, as they affixed a permanent boundary to the Reformation of German-Switzerland; and no important change has been wrought among the cantons from that day even until now.

It is said that Zwingle, on his departure for Cappel, in the mournful conviction that he would never return, designated as his successor, the younger Bullinger of Bremgarten, who, after a short interval, was appointed chief pastor and professor of divinity, and filled the double charge for forty years, with undisputed distinction, and rendered extensive service to the church of Christ. The same calamitous autumn witnessed the extinction of another of the brightest lights of the Reformation. The meek and gentle, the learned and devoted OEcolampadius, on hearing of the death of his friend, and the indignities which were cast upon his memory died shortly after of a broken heart, at the age of forty-nine. When he perceived that his own departure was at hand, he assembled his friends and colleagues around him, and exhorted them in the most pathetic and affectionate manner to be stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, that God might be glorified, and the blessed cause of Christ become more resplendent through the light of their purity. Thus fell asleep the pacific OEcolampadius. His death was like his life, full of light and peace. He was succeeded at Basle by the learned and pious Oswald Myconius. *

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 4, pp. 465-621. John Scott, vol. 3, pp. 104-120, with quotations from Ruchat. Life of Zwingle, by J.G. Hess. Waddington, vol. 3, pp. 236-252. Wylie, vol. 2, pp. 77 - 95.}

The history of the Reformation in French Switzerland which was somewhat later, and in which the names of William Farel and John Calvin bear a prominent part, we must pass over for the present, and return to Germany, that we may examine the last years and the closing scenes of the life of the great German Reformer.