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§ 14. The Open Breach. Controversy about Fasts. 1522.


Zwingli was permitted to labor in Zurich for two years without serious opposition, although he had not a few enemies, both religious and political. The magistracy of Zurich took at first a neutral position, and ordered the priests of the city and country to preach the Scriptures, and to be silent about human inventions (1520). This is the first instance of an episcopal interference of the civil authority in matters of religion. It afterwards became a settled custom in Protestant Switzerland with the full consent of Zwingli. He was appointed canon of the Grossmünster, April 29, 1521, with an additional salary of seventy guilders, after he had given up the papal pension. With this moderate income he was contented for the rest of his life.

During Lent, 1522, Zwingli preached a sermon in which he showed that the prohibition of meat in Lent had no foundation in Scripture. Several of his friends, including his publisher, Froschauer, made practical use of their liberty.

This brought on an open rupture. The bishop of Constance sent a strong deputation to Zurich, and urged the observance of the customary fasts. The magistracy prohibited the violation, and threatened to punish the offenders (April 9, 1522).7575    Egli, Actensammlung, p. 77 (No. 237). Mörikofer (I. 97) gives a wrong date (March 19, 1521); but Egli’s printer made an error in correcting him by quoting vol. II. instead of I. Zwingli defended himself in a tract on the free use of meats (April 16).7676    Von Erkiesen und Fryheit der Spysen (De delectu et libero ciborum usu). Werke, I. B. 1-30 a Latin version by Gwalter in Opera Lat. I. 324-339. It is his first printed book. He essentially takes the position of Paul, that, in things indifferent, Christians have liberty to use or to abstain, and that the Church authorities have no right to forbid this liberty. He appeals to such passages as 1 Cor. 8:8; 10:25; Col. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:1; Rom. 14:1–3; 15:1, 2.

The bishop of Constance issued a mandate to the civil authorities (May 24), exhorting them to protect the ordinances of the Holy Church.7777    Egli, p. 85; Strickler, I. 428. I give it here as a fair specimen of the semi-barbarous German of Swiss documents of that period."Dass unser vätterlicher getrüwer rat und früntlich ernstlich pitt ist, ir wöllen die ärgenuss und widerwärtigkeit by üch selbs, den üwern und andern fürkommen und üch obgemeldten der hailigen kirchen ordnungen und guoten gewonhaiten in cristenlicher geainter gehorsami verglychen, die vollziechen und solichs by den üwern zuo gesche(h)en, sovil an üch, verschaffen. Das halten wir dem Evangelio, der leer Pauli und dem hailigen unserm cristenlichen glouben glychmässig. Ir tuond ouch daran üch und den üwern wolfart, von uns gnädigklich und früntlich zuo erkennen und zuo verdienen." He admonished the canons, without naming Zwingli, to prevent the spread of heretical doctrines. He also sought and obtained the aid of the Swiss Diet, then sitting at Lucerne.

Zwingli was in a dangerous position. He was repeatedly threatened with assassination. But he kept his courage, and felt sure of ultimate victory. He replied in the Archeteles ("the Beginning and the End"), hoping that this first answer would be the last.7878    Opera, III. 26-76. He protested that he had done no wrong, but endeavored to lead men to God and to his Son Jesus Christ in plain language, such as the common people could understand. He warned the hierarchy of the approaching collapse of the Romish ceremonies, and advised them to follow the example of Julius Caesar, who folded his garments around him that he might fall with dignity. The significance of this book consists in the strong statement of the authority of the Scriptures against the authority of the Church. Erasmus was much displeased with it.



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