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§ 41. Zwinglianism in Germany

The principles of the Helvetic Reformation spread also to some extent in Germany, but in a modified form, and prepared the way for the mediating (Melanchthonian) character of the German Reformed Church. Although Luther overshadowed every other personality in Germany, Zwingli had also his friends and admirers, especially the Landgrave, Philip of Hesse, who labored very zealously, though unsuccessfully, for a union of the Lutherans and the Reformed. Bucer and Capito at Strassburg, Cellarius at Augsburg, Blaurer at Constance, Hermann at Reutlingen, and Somius at Ulm, strongly sympathized with the genius and tendency of the Zürich Reformer.253253    See the correspondence of Zwingli, in his Opera, vols. VII. and VIII. His influence was especially felt in those free cities of Southern Germany where the democratic element prevailed.

Four of these cities, Strassburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, handed to the Diet of Augsburg, 11th July, 1530, a special confession (Confessio Tetrapolitana) drawn up by Bucer, with the assistance of Hedio, and answered by the Roman divines, Faber, Eck, and Cochlaeus. It is the first symbolical book of the German Reformed Church (Zwingli’s writings having never acquired symbolical authority), but was superseded by the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and the Second Helvetic Confession (1566). It strikes a middle course between the Augsburg Confession of Melanchthon and the private Confession sent in by Zwingli during the same Diet, and anticipates Calvin’s view on the Lord’s Supper by teaching a real fruition of the true body and blood of Christ, not through the mouth, but through faith, for the nourishment of the soul into eternal life.254254    See VI. 718-721.

The Zwinglian Reformation was checked and almost destroyed in Germany by the combined opposition of Romanism and Lutheranism. The four cities could not maintain their isolated position, and signed the Augsburg Confession for political reasons, to join the Smalcaldian League. The Reformed Church took a new start in the Palatinate under the combined influence of Zwingli, Melanchthon, and Calvin (1563), gained strength by the accession of the reigning dynasty of Prussia (since 1614), and was ultimately admitted to equal rights with the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches in the German Empire by the Treaty of Westphalia.

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