« Bull, Papal Bullinger, Heinrich Bunbury, Thomas »

Bullinger, Heinrich


Conversion to Protestantism (§ 1).

Friendship with Zwingli (§ 2).

The Successor of Zwingli (§ 3).

Political Activity (§ 4).

Pastoral and Educational Activity (§ 5).

Eucharistic Teachings (§ 6).

The Helvetic and Zurich Confessions and the Concensus Tigurinus (§ 7).

His Part in the Second Helvetic Confession (§ 8).

Views on the Relation of Church and State (§ 9).

The Works of Bullinger (§ 10).

1. Conversion to Protestantism.

Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss Reformer; b. at Bremgarten (14¼ m. e.s.e. of Aargau) July 18, 1504; d. at Zurich Sept. 17, 1575. He was the son of a priest, who looked after his bringing up. After receiving 300his elementary education in the schools of his native town, he was sent to Emmerich on the Lower Rhine to the Brethren of the Common Life, and in 1519 he went to Cologne. There, in the seat of opposition to the Reformation, Bullinger gradually became a convert to the new doctrines. When he began the study of theology, his text-books were the Sententiæ of Peter Lombard and the Decretum of Gratian, but noting that these were based on the Church Fathers, he resolved to study the latter more closely, thus learning from Chrysostom, Ambrose, Origen, and Augustine how widely the scholastics had diverged in their treatment of Christian truths. At the same time he came into possession of some pamphlets of Luther which convinced him that the Wittenberg Reformer marked an advance over the scholastics. Since, however, Luther like the Church Fathers, appealed to the Scriptures, Bullinger obtained a New Testament, which nourished his opposition to Roman doctrine. He was also strongly influenced by Melanchthon's Loci communes, and by 1522, despite a bitter inward struggle, he had broken definitely with the Roman Catholic Church. Being thus debarred from an ecclesiastical career, he resolved to become a teacher, and after nine months he secured a position in the Cistercian monastery at Kappel, where he remained from Jan., 1523, to Pentecost, 1529. Not only did he introduce his pupils to the classics, but he also interpreted a portion of the Bible to them daily, in addition to lecturing on other theological subjects in the presence of the abbot, the monks, and many of the residents of the city. Through his preaching of a reformation of doctrine and life the movement was completed in 1525–26, although Bullinger's life was imperiled by the hostility of the adherents of the ancient faith. In the early part of 1527 the monastery was transferred to the authorities of Zurich and the monastery church became the parish church of the community, with Bullinger as the preacher.

2. Friendship with Zwingli.

In close harmony with Zwingli, whom he had known since the end of 1523, and in consultation with Leo Jud, he began the active preparation of a large number of tracts designed to work for the Reformation in central Switzerland. After being invited by Zwingli in Jan., 1525, to attend a conference with the Anabaptists, he combated them, and in 1528 he accompanied Zwingli to the Disputation of Bern, where the leading Reformers of Switzerland and South Germany became acquainted with each other.

3. The Successor of Zwingli.

In June, 1529, Bullinger succeeded his father as pastor of Bremgarten, but his position was a perilous one, and the Reformed strongholds were fortified in expectation of the war between the Confederates, which threatened to break out in 1529. Despite the so-called "land-peace" and the sermons delivered by Bullinger at the diets held at Bremgarten in the summer of 1531, in which he urged upon his hearers the horrors of civil war and sought to reconcile the adherents of both creeds by the weapons of the spirit and the word of God without the effusion of blood, the Reformation had long been political rather than religious, and on Oct. 11, 1531, the battle of Kappel was fought, in which the leaders of the Zurich Reformation fell. The progress of the entire movement was checked and at Bremgarten at heavy cost a peace was made from which the clergy were excepted. In the night of Nov. 20 Bullinger fled to Zurich. The difficult task of the reconstruction of the Reformed Church and the maintenance of Zwingli's life-work now devolved upon him, and on Dec. 9, 1531, he was chosen pastor of the Grossmünster to succeed the great Swiss Reformer. At the same time, however, a controversy arose between the adherents of the ancient conditions, who advocated peace at any price, and the evangelical party, resulting in a decision to prohibit the clergy from touching on political questions in their sermons.

4. Political Activity.

After consultation with his colleagues, Bullinger declared himself ready to promote peace, but declined to refrain from political problems which were connected with religion. The liberty which he demanded was granted him after long deliberation, and the clergy accordingly placed themselves in opposition to the reactionaries. The sermons of Bullinger and Jud, however, resulted in their being cited before the council. They were honorably discharged, but were requested in future to lay their political complaints before the council on the chance that they might be settled without the necessity of publicity. Through this recognition of the spheres of Church and State as distinct but not opposed, Bullinger sustained a more healthy relation to the political body than Zwingli, and he also avoided the struggles made by Calvin to make the State subservient to the Church. A still more difficult task was the stemming of the Catholic reaction, and it was chiefly due to him that the disaster of Kappel had no worse results. The evangelical communities, however, suffered severely, and turned to Zurich for help, and the council, in their eagerness to refute the charge of Roman tendencies, unwisely inserted in their manifesto words which the Catholics claimed were an insult to the mass. In the controversy which ensued, Zurich was cited before the council of the Confederation, whereupon Bullinger, while blaming the city for its folly, advised the mutual surrender of the old letters of confederation, the peaceable division of the common territories, and the formation of a new union with such bodies as held to the word of God. Although it proved possible to preserve peace without this dissolution of the Confederation, the result was a partial humiliation of Zurich.

5. Pastoral and Educational Activity.

In the earlier years of his pastoral activity Bullinger was an indefatigable preacher, delivering between six and eight sermons each week, nor was it until 1542 that his labors were lessened to two addresses, on Sunday and Friday. Like Zwingli, he was accustomed to interpret entire books of the Bible in order, and his sermons were esteemed far and wide, especially in England. He was also active in education, and brought the schools of 301 Zurich to a high standard of excellence, proposing an admirable scheme, which comprised both teachers and pupils and prescribed their duties. He likewise promoted theological training by the establishment of scholarships and secured the canons' fund for the maintenance of the schools, in addition to preparing regulations for preachers and synods. The first of these, drawn up by him and Leo Jud, remained unchanged for almost three centuries. The synod met twice annually, and had as representatives of the State a non-officiating burgomaster and eight members of the great council. The chief duty of the synod was a complete report of the activity, qualifications, and conduct of each and every pastor. Bullinger was highly esteemed as a pastor, especially in time of pestilence, while his Quo pacto cum ægrotantibus et morientibus agendum sit parænesis (1540) is a work of unusual excellence. A generous friend and patron of fugitives from Germany, Locarno, and England, he also wrote an enormous mass of letters, numbering among his correspondents Lady Jane Grey, Henry II. and Francis II. of France, Henry VIII. and Edward VI. of England, Elizabeth, Christian of Denmark, Philip of Hesse, and the palsgrave Frederick III.

6. Eucharistic Teachings.

Bullinger took part in the controversy over the Lord's Supper as the chief representative of German-Swiss doctrine. After the death of Zwingli both the Romanists, headed by Johann Faber, and Luther assailed the doctrines of his followers, only to be answered by Bullinger in his Auf Johannsen wienischen Bischofs Trostbüchlein tröstliche Verantwortung (Zurich, 1532) and in the introduction to Leo Jud's translation of the treatise De corpore et sanguine Domini of Ratramnus, a monk of Corvey. Even in these earlier works he emphasized the objective side of the sacrament, the work of Christ in the faithful, whereas Zwingli had taught rather the subjective aspect as a memorial. The controversy involved the Protestant party in Germany, and in the ensuing efforts for reconciliation Butzer and Bullinger were active figures, the latter preparing a confession for the former, showing how far a union with Luther was possible. This confession was sent in Nov., 1534, to the remaining Swiss cities and was gladly accepted by the majority, Bern alone refusing to subscribe to it until after the Conference of Brugg in Apr., 1535. This was, however, little more than an agreement of the clergy, and the desirability of an understanding with Luther, as well as the expectation of a general council, rendered it advisable for the Swiss Church to make an official formulation of its creed.

7. The Helvetic and Zurich Confessions and the Consensus Tigurinus.

The result was the First Helvetic Confession (see Helvetic Confessions), framed at Basel in 1536, Bullinger being one of its authors. Meanwhile Butzer had framed the Wittenberg Concord, which was accepted by the cities of Upper Germany, but was opposed by Bullinger in Zurich and rejected by Bern. The Swiss responded with an elucidation of the Helvetic Confession prepared by Bullinger and addressed directly to Luther (Nov., 1536), seeking the middle way between transubstantiation and the concept of a mere memorial meal. The reply was conciliatory, but the peace was soon broken by Luther, who bitterly attacked the Zwinglian doctrines of the Lord's Supper in 1544. Bullinger replied in the Zurich Confession of 1545, and, though no understanding was reached between the Swiss and the Lutheran churches, the French and German sections of the Swiss Church were drawn together all the closer, a matter which was the more momentous since the Reformed had found a second center in Geneva, thus giving rise to the danger of a schism like that headed by Luther and Melanchthon in Germany. The peril was averted, however, by the Consensus Tigurinus, which was quietly prepared by Bullinger and Calvin in 1549 and which was in complete harmony with the previous views of Bullinger on the Lord's Supper, while it emphasized the divine work of grace, though it restricted it to the elect. In his later years he was involved in a controversy with Brenz, who defended the doctrine of the ubiquity of the sacraments but reached no definite conclusion. The views concerning the Lord's Supper were closely connected with the doctrine of predestination.

8. His Part in the Second Helvetic Confession.

While still in Kappel, Bullinger had maintained that free will was incompatible with the foreknowledge of God, but later he was gradually led to accept the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, his views finding their ultimate expression in the famous Second Helvetic Confession, which he prepared in consultation with his friend Peter Martyr to serve as a posthumous testimony of his own belief and that of his church. It was published, however, in 1566, when Frederic III., who was accused of Calvinism, wished to defend himself before the Diet of Augsburg. At his request Bullinger sent him the confession, which he printed and which was accepted not only by all Swiss churches with the exception of Basel, but also by the Reformed in France, Scotland, and Hungary and highly praised in Germany, England, and Holland. It was, strictly speaking, the bond uniting the scattered members of the Evangelical-Reformed churches.

9. Views on the Relation of Church and State.

In the controversies concerning the relation of Church and State, Bullinger regarded the two as united, Christian citizens forming both Church and State, and temporal officials being likewise the servants of God. The chief duty of the Church was the unrestricted preaching of the word, and the power of admonishing the authorities, when necessary, of their obligations. Neither Church nor State, however, should interfere in each other's affairs. External administration of the property of the Church, on the other hand, was to be left to the State, which was also to execute ecclesiastical punishments. With this was closely connected his attitude toward heretics. While in his earlier career he had expressed the utmost tolerance, he later reached the conclusion that preaching and writing against 302heresy must be supplemented by state punishment. Roused by Anabaptism, he urged in 1535 that no heretics should be admitted to the city and that, if all efforts at conversion proved fruitless, they should be punished by the secular arm, though with due consideration of the circumstances of each individual case. This position did not exclude capital punishment, and while Bullinger did not avail himself of it in the case of the Anabaptists, it is easy to see how he could counsel the execution of Servetus and the exile of Ochino.

The years 1564–65 were marked with sorrow for Bullinger, who lost many of his relatives and closest friends by death, and was himself so seriously ill with the plague that his life was despaired of. Even after his apparent recovery his health was shattered, and his sufferings from calculi increased until he was repeatedly near death. His last sermon was delivered on Whitsuntide, 1575, and four months later he died.

10. The Works of Bullinger.

Bullinger's works are extraordinarily numerous but have never been published in collected form and some are extant only in manuscript. The catalogue of the municipal library of Zurich lists about 100 separate works, and this number is raised to 150 by J. J. Scheuchzer. Especially noteworthy are his Latin expositions of all the books of the New Testament with the exception of the Apocalypse, which were prepared up to 1548, when their place was taken by collections of sermons, the majority also in Latin, comprising 100 on the Apocalypse, sixty-six on Daniel, 170 on Jeremiah, and 190 on Isaiah. His sermons on the decalogue, the Apostles' Creed, the sacraments, etc., were highly esteemed and published under the title, Sermonum decades quinque (Zurich, 1557; translated into Dutch and French; Eng. transl., The Decades, London, 1577, ed. for the Parker Society by T. Harding, Cambridge, 1849–1851). Among his theological works special mention may be made of his De providentia (Zurich, 1553); De gratia Dei justificante, and De scripturæ sanctæ auctoritate et certitudine deque episcoporum institutione et functione (1538, Eng, transl., Woorthynesse, authoritie, and sufficiencie of the holy Scripture, London, 1579). He was likewise the author of a drama on Lucretia and Brutus and of a hymn beginning: "O holy God, have mercy now!" Bullinger also wrote a chronicle and description of Kappel, and later prepared a similar work entitled Antiquitates aliquot ecclesiæ Tigurinæ, which is preserved in manuscript in the municipal library. An important source for the history of the Anabaptists is found in his Der Wiedertaüfern Ursprung, fürgang, Sekten (Zurich, 1560), but his chief historical work was his detailed chronicle of the Swiss, the most valuable part being the history of the Reformation up to 1532 (ed. J. J. Hottinger and H. H. Vögeli, 6 vols., Frauenfeld, 1838–40).

(Emil Egli.)

Bibliography: Sources: Bullinger's autobiography was printed in Miscellanea Tigurini, iii. 1–171, Zurich, 1722; valuable also is his Reformationsgeschichte, 3 vols., Frauenfeld, 1838–40. Other early sources are; J. W. Stucki, Oratio funebris, Zurich, 1575; J. Simmler, De ortu, vita, et obitu Heinrici Bullingeri, ib. 1575; Archiv für die schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte, vol. i., Solothurn, 1868. For his life consult: J. F. Franz, Merkwürdige Züge aus dem Leben des . . . H. Bullinger, Bern, 1828; S. Hess, Lebensgeschichte Bullingers, 2 vols., Zurich, 1828–1829; G. Friedländer, Beiträge zur Reformationsgeschichte. Sammlung ungedruckter Briefe des Bullinger, Berlin, 1837; C. Pestalozzi, Heinrich Bullinger, Elberfeld, 1858; R. Christoffel, H. Bullinger und seine Gattin, Zurich, 1875; G. R. Zimmermann, Die Zürcher Kirche und ihre Antistes, ib. 1877; Schaff, Christian Church, vii, 206–214, 514, 618; Moeller, Christian Church, vol. iii. passim.

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