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§ 10. Zwingli called to Zurich.


The fame of Zwingli as a preacher and patriot secured him a call to the position of chief pastor of the Great Minster (Grossmünster), the principal church in Zurich, which was to become the Wittenberg of Switzerland. Many of the Zurichers had heard him preach on their pilgrimages to Einsiedeln. His enemies objected to his love of music and pleasure, and charged him with impurity, adding slander to truth. His friend Myconius, the teacher of the school connected with the church, exerted all his influence in his favor. He was elected by seventeen votes out of twenty-four, Dec. 10, 1518.

He arrived in Zurich on the 27th of the month, and received a hearty welcome. He promised to fulfil his duties faithfully, and to begin with the continuous exposition of the Gospel of Matthew, so as to bring the whole life of Christ before the mind of the people. This was a departure from the custom of following the prescribed Gospel and Epistle lessons, but justified by the example of the ancient Fathers, as Chrysostom and Augustin, who preached on whole books. The Reformed Churches reasserted the freedom of selecting texts; while Luther retained the Catholic system of pericopes.

Zurich, the most flourishing city in German Switzerland, beautifully situated in an amphitheatre of fertile hills, on the lake of the same name and the banks of the Limmat, dates its existence from the middle of the ninth century when King Louis the German founded there the abbey of Frauemünster (853). The spot was known in old Roman times as a custom station (Turicum). It became a free imperial city of considerable commerce between Germany and Italy, and was often visited by kings and emperors.

The Great Minster was built in the twelfth century, and passed into the Reformed communion, like the minsters of Basle, Berne, and Lausanne, which are the finest churches in Switzerland.

In the year 1315 Zurich joined the Swiss confederacy by an eternal covenant with Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden. This led to a conflict with Austria, which ended favorably for the confederacy.4646    On the early history of Zurich, see Bluntschli, Geschichte der Republik Zürich, 2d ed. 1856; G. v. Wyss, Zürich am Ausgange des 13ten Jahrh., 1876; Dierauer, Geschichte der Schweiz. Eidgenossenschaft, vol. I. (1887), 171-217.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century Zurich numbered seven thousand inhabitants. It was the centre of the international relations of Switzerland, and the residence of the embassadors (sic) of foreign powers which rivalled with each other in securing the support of Swiss soldiers. This fact brought wealth and luxury, and fostered party spirit and the lust of gain and power among the citizens. Bullinger says, "Before the preaching of the gospel [the Reformation], Zurich was in Switzerland what Corinth was in Greece."4747    Mörikofer (I. 430 sqq.) gives a disgusting example of the rudeness and licentiousness of the Zurichers of that time.



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