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History of the Christian Church, Volume VII. Modern Christianity. The German Reformation.
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§ 122. Zwingli’s Confession to the Emperor Charles.


Ad Carolum Boni. Imperatorem, Germaniae comitia Augustae celebrantem Fidei Huldrychi Zwinglii Ratio (Rechenschaft). Anno MDXXX. Mense Julio. Vincat veritas. In the same year a German translation appeared in Zürich, and in 1543 an English translation. See Niemeyer, Collect. Conf., p. XXVI. and 16 sqq. Böckel: Bekenntnissschriften der reform. Kirche, p. 40. sqq. Mörikofer: U. Zwingli, vol. II. p. 297 sqq. Christoffel: U. Z., vol. II. p. 237 sqq. Schaff: Creeds, I. 366 sqq.


Zwingli took advantage of the meeting of the Diet of Augsburg, to send a confession of his faith, addressed to the German Emperor, Charles V., shortly after the Lutheran princes had presented theirs. It is dated Zürich, July 3, 1530, and was delivered by his messenger at Augsburg on the 8th of the same month; but it shared the same fate as the "Tetrapolitan Confession." It was treated with contempt, and never laid before the Diet. Dr. Eck wrote in three days a refutation, charging Zwingli that for ten years he had labored to root out from the people of Switzerland all faith and all religion, and to stir them up against the magistrate; that he had caused greater devastation among them than the Turks, Tartars, and Huns; that he had turned the churches and convents founded by the Habsburgers (the Emperor’s ancestors) into temples of Venus and Bacchus; and that he now completed his criminal career by daring to appear before the Emperor with such an impudent piece of writing.

The Lutherans (with the exception of Philip of Hesse) were scarcely less indignant, and much more anxious to conciliate the Catholics than to appear in league with Zwinglians and Anabaptists. They felt especially offended that the Swiss Reformer took strong ground against the corporal presence, and incidentally alluded to them as persons who "were looking back to the flesh-pots of Egypt." Melanchthon judged him insane.

Zwingli, having had no time to consult with his confederates, offered the Confession in his own name, and submitted it to the judgment of the whole church of Christ, under the guidance of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

In the first sections he declares, as clearly as and even more explicitly than the Lutheran Confession, his faith in the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the Person of Christ, as laid down in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds (which are expressly named). He teaches the election by free grace, the sole and sufficient satisfaction by Christ, and justification by faith, in opposition to all human mediators and meritorious works. He distinguishes between the internal or invisible, and the external or visible, church. The former is the company of the elect believers and their children, and is the bride of Christ; the latter embraces all nominal Christians and their children, and is beautifully described in the parable of the ten virgins, of whom five were foolish. The word "church" may also designate a single congregation, as the church in Rome, in Augsburg, in Leyden. The true church can never err in the foundation of faith. Purgatory he rejects as an injurious fiction, which sets Christ’s merits at naught. On original sin, the salvation of unbaptized infants, and the sacraments, he departs much farther from the traditional theology than the Lutherans. He goes into a lengthy argument against the corporal presence in the eucharist. On the other hand, however, he protests against being confounded with the Anabaptists, and rejects their views on infant baptism, civil offices, the sleep of the soul, and universal salvation.

The document is frank and bold, yet dignified and courteous, and concludes thus: "Hinder not, ye children of men, the spread and growth of the Word of God. Ye can not forbid the grass to grow. Ye must see that this plant is richly blessed from heaven. Consider not your own wishes, but the demands of the age concerning the free course of the gospel. Take these words kindly, and show by your deeds that you are children of God."


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