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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/179

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Bucer
Bucer
113

gestion, undertook one or two journeys in the interests of the reformation, falling into peril in the Netherlands. Soon, however, he was generously dismissed by his patron, and on passing through Weissenburg in Lower Alsace accepted an invitation from Motherer, parson in that town, to fill the post of preacher at his church. Here he in a series of sermons advanced Lutheran views, and recommended the study of the German Bible. Great excitement ensued, and both Motherer and Buwr, having declined to appear before the Bishop of Speier, were excommunicated by him. Eucer hereupon made a pnblic profession of his doctrine, but finally both he and his friend, with their wives, were obliged to ily to Strassburg, where they arrived at the end of April 1523, and at first took refuge in the house of Bucer's father, now a citizen of the town.

In Strassburg the reformation had many sympathisers, and Matthew Zell was already preaching ‘the gospel’ to the people in the nave of the minster. Capito, who had recently assumed a dignified ecclesiastical position in the city, still observed a hesitating attitude. Bucer’s arrival and hold announcement of his marriage to the spiritual authorities therefore created much interest, and he was at first only allowed to lecture, as it were, privately in Zell's house. As a citizen‘s son, however, he was protected by the town council against the bishop, who demanded his surrender, and was allowed to plead his cause both by word of mouth and in writing. His lectures on the New Testament, some of which he gave in the cathedral, were numerously attended, and in December 1523 he was appointed a salaried daily lecturer on the scriptures. He was now one of the seven prenchers recognised at Strassburg as the representatives of the cause of the reformation. Jacob Sturm, in the town council, and Capito's, who had by this time declared for the reformation, were, with Bucer and Zell, its chief promoters. In March 1524 the hishop excommunicated several married priests, among whom, however, there is no mention of Bucer; and in the same month the guild of gardeners, whose religious views were of an advanced character, elected him priest at St. Aurelia’s, a parsonage in Capito's provostsbip. Though much drawn to Zwingli, he continued for a time to maintain an independent attitude as to the use of images and pictures, and his view of the eucharist was not as yet wholly divergent from Luther's. But the difficulties of the Strassburg reformers increased as the city became the refuge of victims of religious persecution. Both Capita and Bucer showed hospitality to French and Italian refugees, through whom Bucer in particular set on foot schemes for the propagation of protestantism. Less welcome to him were the anabaptists who took refuge in the city and Carlstadt, whose dispute with Luther was already notorious. In October 1524 the images were removed out of Bucer’s church, and St. Aurelia’s wonder-working grate was closed; and in the following month Bucer, while giving an account to Luther of the simple reformed worship in use at Strassburg, requested in the name of his brethren a more explicit statement of Luther's dogma conoeming the eucbarist. Probably Bucer had been alienated from the Lutheran view on this head through the induence of Rodius (Rode, of Utrecht), who visited him about this time (Köstin, i. 717; cf. Baum, 304-5). Luther's reply was his ‘Address to all Christians in Strassburg,’ warning them against the errors of Carlstadt. Soon after this Bucer, with Capito and Zell, bravely attempted in a personal interview to persuade a large band of insurrectionary peasants to abstain from violence.

The hardest and most thankless task of Bucer's life began when in 1525 the conflict between Luther and Zwingli which turned mainly, though not altogether, on the encharist, declared itself. The Strassburg preachers, who distinctly placed themselves on the side of the Swiss reformer, were roughly handled by Melanchthon, and sarcastically criticised by the Erasmians, against whom guest did his best to defend his position. Luther, having in November declined a friendly overture from the Strassburgers, was further irritated by observations on the eucharist introduced by Bucer into his Latin translation of Luther's ‘Church Postil’ (1525), and Luther’s follower, Bugenhagen, had a similar grievance against the same translator`s version of his ‘ Commentary on the Psalms.' Meanwhile, the friendliness between the Strnssburg and the Swiss reformers increased, Bucer also placing himself decisively on Zwingli’s side against anabaptism, with certain milder phases of which his friend Capito was not altogether out of sympathy (1527). At the great Bern disputation (January 1528) he distinctly declared in favour of the Zwinglian doctrine. Soon afterwards he dedicated to the Bern town council his ‘Commentary on the Gospel of St. John,' prefaced by a summary of the proceedings at the disputation. In March 1528 appealed the amplest ‘ Confession' ever put forth by Luther concerning the eucharist, and in June Bucer published a reply in dialogue form, in which he proposed a personal conference between the leaders of the two parties. He had already entreated Zwingli ,to adopt as conciliatory as possible a tone