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History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
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PREFACE.



This volume concludes the history of the productive period of the Reformation, in which Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were the chief actors. It follows the Protestant movement in German, Italian, and French Switzerland, to the close of the sixteenth century.

During the last year, the sixth-centenary of the oldest surviving Republic was celebrated with great patriotic enthusiasm. On the first day of August, in the year 1291, the freemen of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden formed, in the name of the Lord "a perpetual alliance for the mutual protection of their persons, property, and liberty, against internal and external foes. On the same day, in 1891, the great event was commemorated in every village of Switzerland by the ringing of bells and the illumination of the mountains, while on the following day—a Sunday—thanksgiving services were held in every church, Catholic and Protestant. The chief festivities took place, from July 31 to Aug. 2, in the towns of Schwyz and Brunnen, and were attended by the Federal and Cantonal dignitaries, civil and military, and a vast assembly of spectators. The most interesting feature was a dramatic representation of the leading events in Swiss history—the sacred oaths of Schwyz, Brunnen, and Grütli, the poetic legend of William Tell, the heroic battles for liberty and independence against Austria, Burgundy, and France, the venerable figure of Nicolas von der Flue appearing as a peacemaker in the Diet at Stans, and the chief scenes of the Reformation, the Revolution, and the modern reconstruction. The drama, enacted in the open field in view of mountains and meadows and the lake of Luzern, is said to have equalled in interest and skill of execution the famous Passion Play of Oberammergau. Similar celebrations took place, not only in every city and village of Switzerland, but also in the Swiss colonies in foreign lands, notably in New York, on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of September.22   The celebration has elicited some valuable contributions to the authentic history of Switzerland, which may be added to the literature on p. 3. I mention Dr. W. Oechsli: Die Anfänge der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft. Zürich, 1891.—Jos. Ig. von Ah: Die Bundesbriefe der alten Eidgenossen von 1201 bis 1513. Einsiedeln, 1891—Pierre Vaucher: Les Commencements de la Confédération suisse. Lausanne, 1891.—Prof. Georg von Wyss: Rede bei der Bundesfeier der Eidgenössischen polytechn. Schule, und der Hochschule Zürich am 25 Juli 1891. Zürich, 1891.—Denkschrift der historischen u. antiquarischen Gesellschaft zu Basel. Zur Erinnerung an den Bund der Eidgenossen vom 1. Aug. 1291. Basel, 1891.—The second volume of Dierauer’s Geschichte der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft appeared at Gotha, 1892, but goes only to the year 1516, when the history of the Reformation began.

Between Switzerland and the United States there has always been a natural sympathy and friendship. Both aim to realize the idea of a government of freedom without license, and of authority without despotism; a government of law and order without a standing army; a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, under the sole headship of Almighty God.

At the time of the Reformation, Switzerland numbered as many Cantons (13) as our country originally numbered States, and the Swiss Diet was then a loose confederation representing only the Cantons and not the people, just as was our Continental Congress. But by the revision of the Constitution in 1848 and 1874, the Swiss Republic, following the example of our Constitution, was consolidated from a loose, aristocratic Confederacy of independent Cantons into a centralized federal State,33    Bundesstaat, as distinct from a Staatenbund.with a popular as well as a cantonal representation. In one respect the modern Swiss Constitution is even more democratic than that of the United States; for, by the Initiative and the Referendum, it gives to the people the right of proposing or rejecting national legislation.

But there is a still stronger bond of union between the two countries than that which rests on the affinity of political institutions. Zwingli and Calvin directed and determined the westward movement of the Reformation to France, Holland, England, and Scotland, and exerted, indirectly, a moulding influence upon the leading Evangelical Churches of America. George Bancroft, the American historian, who himself was not a Calvinist, derives the republican institutions of the United States from Calvinism through the medium of English Puritanism. A more recent writer, Douglas Campbell, of Scotch descent, derives them from Holland, which was still more under the influence of the Geneva Reformer than England. Calvinism breeds manly, independent, and earnest characters who fear God and nothing else, and favors political and religious freedom. The earliest and most influential settlers of the United States—the Puritans of England, the Presbyterians of Scotland and Ireland, the Huguenots of France, the Reformed from Holland and the Palatinate,—were Calvinists, and brought with them the Bible and the Reformed Confessions of Faith. Calvinism was the ruling theology of New England during the whole Colonial Period, and it still rules in great measure the theology of the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Baptist Churches.

In the study of the sources I have derived much benefit from the libraries of Switzerland, especially the Stadtbibliothek of Zürich, which contains the invaluable Simler collection and every important work relating to the Reformation in Switzerland. I take great pleasure in expressing my obligation to Dr. G. von Wyss, president, and Dr. Escher, librarian, for their courtesy and kindness on repeated visits to that library.

The sources on the Reformation in French Switzerland are now made fully accessible by the new critical edition of Calvin’s works, by Herminjard’s collection of the correspondence of the French-speaking Reformers (not yet completed), and by the publications of the documentary history of Geneva during the period of Calvin’s labors, including the registers of the Council and of the Consistory.

I have freely quoted from Calvin’s works and letters, which give us the best insight into his mind and heart. I have consulted also his chief biographers,—French, German, and English: his enthusiastic admirers,—Beza, Henry, Stähelin, Bungener, and Merle D’Aubigné; his virulent detractors—Bolsec, Galiffe, and Audin; and his impartial critics,—Dyer, and Kampschulte. Dr. Henry’s work (1844) was the first adequate biography of the great Reformer, and is still unsurpassed as a rich collection of authentic materials, although not well arranged and digested.44   The first and second volumes of Dr. Henry’s larger biography are sometimes quoted from the English translation of Dr. Stebbing; but the third volume always from the original, as Dr. Stebbing omits the appendices and nearly all the original documents. Dr. Merle D’Aubigné’s "History of the Reformation" comes down only to 1542. Thomas H. Dyer, LL. D, the author of the "History, of Modern Europe," from the fall of Constantinople to 1871, and other historical works, has written the first able and readable "Life of Calvin" in the English language, which is drawn chiefly from Calvin’s correspondence, from Ruchat, Henry, and, in the Servetus chapter, from Mosheim and Trechsel, and is, on the whole, accurate and fair, but cold and unsympathetic. The admirable work of Professor Kampschulte is based on a thorough mastery of the sources, but it is unfortunately incomplete, and goes only as far as 1542. The materials for a second and third volume were placed after his death (December, 1872) into the hands of Professor Cornelius of Munich, who, however, has so far only written a few sections. His admiration for Calvin’s genius and pure character (see p. 205) presents an interesting parallel to Döllinger’s eloquent tribute to Luther (quoted in vol. VI. 741), and is all the more valuable as he dissented from Calvin’s theology and church polity; for he was an Old Catholic and intimate friend of Reusch and Döllinger.55   Professor Reusch of Bonn kindly informed me by letter (Sept. 8, 1891) that Kampschulte first studied for the priesthood and was an orthodox and pious Catholic, but opposed the Vatican decree of papal infallibility in 1870, and may therefore be considered as having been virtually excommunicated. He administered to him the last sacrament (which the ultramontane priest was prohibited from doing by the Archbishop of Cologne). The first volume of Kampschulte’s work was fully and favorably reviewed in Reusch’s Literatur-blatt for 1869, No. 662, by Dr. Hefele of Tübingen, shortly before he became bishop of Rottenburg. Hefele, as a member of the Vatican council, was one of the most learned opponents of papal infallibility, but afterwards submitted for the sake of peace. A biographical notice of Kampschulte by Cornelius is to be found in the fifteenth volume of the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie.

The sole aim of the historian ought to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I have dedicated this volume to my countrymen and oldest surviving friends in Switzerland, Dr. Georg von Wyss of Zürich and Dr. Fréderic Godet of Neuchâtel. The one represents German, the other French Switzerland. Both are well known; the one for his historical, the other for his exegetical works. They have followed the preparation of this book with sympathetic interest, and done me the favor of revising the proof-sheets.66   I take the liberty of quoting a few passages from recent letters of these Swiss scholars which will interest the reader. Dr. von Wyss writes: "Ihr Vaterland in Amerika und die englische Sprache geben dem Werke ein Gepräge, welches dasselbe von deutschen ähnlichen Schriften eindrücklich unterscheidet—es liegt ein so unmittelbares Auffassen und Erfassen der Hauptsache, auf die es ankömmt, ein so bestimmtes Losgehen auf das Leben, das Praktische, darin—dass mich dieser charakteristische Zug Ihrer gewaltigen Arbeit ungemein anzieht. Wie verschieden sind doch die Anlagen und die Bedürfnisse der Völker! Wer wollte deutsches, französisches, englisches, amerikanisches Blut und Wesen (ich nenne sie nach der historischen Reihenfolge) zusammenschmelzen können! überall ein eigenthümlicher Zug! Jeder werthvoll und lieb, wenn er nicht übertrieben wird! Wer soll die Einheit bilden? Darüber sind wir, mein hochverehrter Freund (ich bin glücklich, so sagen zu dürfen), einig. Aber was wird es einst sein, wenn wir diese Einigung in ihrer vollen Verwirklichung, über dieser Erde, erblicken werden!"—"Ich lese die Probebogen allezeit mit dem grössten Vergnügen. Die Klarheit, Bestimmtheit und Genauigkeit Ihrer Darstellung (bis in’s Einzelnste) und der Geist von dem sie getragen ist, gewähren mir die grösste Befriedigung.... Was Zwingli in seiner Expositio Fidei an König Franz I. über die Weit jenseits des Grabes sagt, ist mir von allen seinen Aeusserungen stets das Liebste, und in nichts fühle ich mich ihm mehr verwandt als gerade darin,—sowie in der Liebe, die ihn zu Bullinger zog."—Dr. Godet (Dec. 3, 1891): "Du scheinst zu fürchten, dass die Druckbogen mir eine Last seien. Im Gegentheil, sie sind mir eine Freude und Belehrung gewesen. Ich habe nie etwas so Befriedigendes über den Gegenstand gelesen. Calvin tritt hervor mit seinem wahren Gesicht und in seiner hehren Gestalt. Ich danke Dir herzlich für diese Mittheilung." The same, in a more recent letter: ..."Qu’il nous soit donnéàtous deux avant de quitter cette vie de pouvoir terminer nos travaux commencés,—toi, ton Histoire ... moi, mon Introduction au Nouveau Testament.... Le premier volume, les épitres de Paul, sera, j’espère, terminéet impriméavec la fin de Pannée (1892) si ..." The venerable author is now in his eightieth year.

I feel much encouraged by the kind reception of my Church History at home and abroad. The first three volumes have been freely translated into Chinese by the Rev. D. Z. Sheffield (a missionary of the American Board), and into Hindostani by the Rev. Robert Stewart (of the Presbyterian Mission of Sialkot).

I have made considerable progress in the fifth volume, which will complete the history of the Middle Ages. It was delayed till I could make another visit to Rome and Florence, and study more fully the Renaissance, which preceded the Reformation. Two or three more volumes will be necessary to bring the history down to the present time, according to the original plan. But how many works remain unfinished in this world! Ars longa, vita brevis.


June, 1892.




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