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§ 17. The Sixty-seven Conclusions.
On the Sixty-seven Conclusions and the Three Disputations see Zwingli: Werke, I. A. 105 sqq.; Bullinger: I. 97 sqq.; Egli: 111, 114, 173 sqq.; Mörikofer: I. 138 sqq., 191 sqq. The text of the Sixty-seven Articles in Swiss-German, Werke, I. A. 153–157; in modern German and Latin, in Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, III. 197–207.
Zwingli’s views, in connection with the Lutheran Reformation in Germany, created a great commotion, not only in the city and canton of Zurich, but in all Switzerland. At his suggestion, the government—that is, the burgomaster and the small and large Council (called The Two Hundred)—ordered a public disputation which should settle the controversy on the sole basis of the Scriptures.
For this purpose Zwingli published Sixty-seven Articles or Conclusions (Schlussreden). They are the first public statement of the Reformed faith, but they never attained symbolical authority, and were superseded by maturer confessions. They resemble the Ninety-five Theses of Luther against indulgences, which six years before had opened the drama of the German Reformation; but they mark a great advance in Protestant sentiment, and cover a larger number of topics. They are full of Christ as the only Saviour and Mediator, and clearly teach the supremacy of the Word of God as the only rule of faith; they reject and attack the primacy of the Pope, the Mass, the invocation of saints, the meritoriousness of human works, the fasts, pilgrimages, celibacy, purgatory, etc., as unscriptural commandments of men.
The following are the most important of these theses: —
1. All who say that the gospel is nothing without the approbation of the Church, err and cast reproach upon God.
2. The sum of the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has made known to us the will of his heavenly Father, and redeemed us by his innocence from eternal death, and reconciled us to God.
3. Therefore Christ is the only way to salvation to all who were, who are, who shall be.
4. Whosoever seeks or shows another door, errs—yea, is a murderer of
souls and a robber.
7. Christ is the head of all believers who are his body; but without him
the body is dead.
8. All who live in this Head are his members and children of God. And this is the Church, the communion of saints, the bride of Christ, the Ecclesia catholica.
15. Who believes the gospel shall be saved; who believes not, shall be damned. For in the gospel the whole truth is clearly contained.
16. From the gospel we learn that the doctrines and traditions of men are of no use to salvation.
17. Christ is the one eternal high-priest. Those who pretend to be highpriests resist, yea, set aside, the honor and dignity of Christ.
18. Christ, who offered himself once on the cross, is the sufficient and perpetual sacrifice for the sins of all believers. Therefore the mass is no sacrifice, but a commemoration of the one sacrifice of the cross, and a seal of the redemption through Christ.
19. Christ is the only Mediator between God and us.
22. Christ is our righteousness. From this it follows that our works are good so far as they are Christ’s, but not good so far as they are our own.
24. Christians are not bound to any works which Christ has not commanded. They may eat at all times all kinds of food.
26. Nothing is more displeasing to God than hypocrisy.
27. All Christians are brethren.
28. Whatsoever God permits and has not forbidden, is right. Therefore marriage is becoming to all men.
34. The spiritual [hierarchical] power, so called, has no foundation in the Holy Scriptures and the teaching of Christ.9191 Zwingli means the worldly power and splendor of the pope and the bishops, and quotes against it the lessons of humility, Matt. 18:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-3: "Die Höhe nach der die päpst und bishof strytend, hat keinen Grund." See his Uslegung or defence of the Articles, Werke, I. 346 sq.
37, 38. All Christians owe obedience to the magistracy, provided it does not command what is against God.9393 In the Uslegung (I. 352 sq.) he explains Rom. 13:1: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers." "Every soul," he says, "means every living man, and includes popes, bishops, priests, monks and nuns. Every power is from God; consequently, also, a bad magistracy, with which God punishes our sins (Isa. 3:4). Then we must also obey the pope, even a bad one, because he is set over us by God for punishment. This I believe firmly, but I believe also that God will lead us out of this captivity, as he led Israel out of Egypt through his servant Moses."
49. I know of no greater scandal than the prohibition of lawful marriage to priests, while they are permitted for money to have concubines. Shame!9494 "Pfui der Schande," is added in the German text. In the Swiss dialect, "Pfuch der Schand!" (I. A. 156). In the defence of this article (I. 378 sq.), Zwingli strongly illustrates the evil effects of the lewd life of the unmarried clergy upon the morals of the laity. "It is easy," he says, "to command chastity; but no one is able to keep it without the grace of God." Concerning his own case, See § 7, p. 27.
50. God alone forgives sins, through Jesus Christ our Lord alone.
57. The Holy Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life.
58, 59. God alone knows the condition of the departed, and the less he has made known to us, the less we should pretend to know.
66. All spiritual superiors should repent without delay, and set up the cross of Christ alone, or they will perish. The axe is laid at the root.
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