Front Page Titles (by Subject) INTRODUCTION TO THE 1901 EDITION. - Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli
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INTRODUCTION TO THE 1901 EDITION. - Huldrych Zwingli, Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli 
Selected Works of Huldrich Zwingli, (1484-1531) The Reformer of German Switzerland, translated for the First Time from the Originals, ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1901).
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INTRODUCTION TO THE 1901 EDITION.
Huldreich Zwingli was born in the outskirts of the village of Wildhaus, forty miles east by south of Zurich, in Switzerland, on the first of January, 1484. His family on both sides were peasants, but persons of more or less prominence and of high character. His father was the village magistrate and his father’s brother the village priest. This uncle was in 1487 transferred to a higher position at Wesen, upon the Lake of Walenstadt, twelve miles to the southwest of Wildhaus, and took Zwingli with him. So there the child received his first book learning, and then he was sent by his uncle, who was providentially a friend of the New Learning, to Bern, Vienna and Basel for school and university training. In 1506 Zwingli, who had just taken the degree of Master of Arts at the University of Basel, became the priest of the parish of Glarus, about seven miles south of Wesen. There he remained ten years, and would have stayed much longer, probably, had it not been that his very vigorous attacks upon the mercenary military service of the Swiss, which service he recognized as a disgrace to his country and a sure and swift means of their moral ruin, awakened so much opposition on the part of the principal families in the Canton, who were interested in hiring out these mercenaries, that he was compelled to leave. He next appears as preacher in the famous monastery of Einsiedeln, in which is the Chapel of Meinrad, containing the wonder-working wooden image of the Virgin and Child. Thousands of pilgrims have every year for a millennium visited this sacred spot, and among them have been the most distinguished in the Church. When Zwingli went there he was already a fine scholar, an admired preacher and a recognized patriot. He inspired high and low with respect, and easily made the acquaintance of the cardinals and bishops and learned men who came in a continuous stream to the shrine. He also read diligently the books he found in the remarkably rich library of the monastery. Thus was he prepared for the prominent part he was destined to play. After two years he was called to the principal church of Zurich, and there he maintained himself as preacher and reformer and author for the rest of his life.
When he began his preaching in Zurich he had apparently no profound spiritual conceptions. He was an extremely pleasant, witty and agreeable man, and had a host of friends, for whose advantage he was ready at any time to do his best, so that he fastened them to himself as with hooks of steel. He was moreover a friend of the New Learning and felt the breath of the new era. He had been taught by Wyttenbach and Erasmus that the traditional church theology had very small basis in the Bible; had also come to the conclusion that the Bible was the great source of theology, so had been reading attentively the New Testament in the original Greek, and had even begun the study of Hebrew in order that he might get at the meaning of the Old Testament at first hand. In his zeal to drink in the water of life from the fountain he even had gone so far as to commit to memory the Epistles of St. Paul in Greek. From the beginning of his Zurich ministry he showed himself well acquainted with the text of Scripture, and able to quote it at pleasure. He began his preaching in Zurich with a continuous exposition of the Gospel of Matthew, and went on to expound other New Testament books in the same way. Living thus in the hearing of the divine oracles, thinking much upon their utterances, he was one of the first upon whom the vision of the purer, more unshackled, less hide-bound church fell. And without passing through any profound spiritual experience, entering rather as a devout scholar than as a religious enthusiast into the temple of God, he arrived at those conceptions of the truth which bear the name of Protestant. It was his exposure of the unbiblical character of much of the teachings and ceremonies of the Roman Church which roused the people of Zurich into open revolt against that church, and it was the distressing rumor of the probable defection of the Zurich people which was the occasion of the visit of the delegation from the Bishop of Constance, which is described in the first paper in this volume.
In this volume Zwingli is exhibited in various relations as leader in reform and the defense of reform. Thus the earnest petition (1522) which Zwingli wrote, to allow priests to marry, showed how enforced celibacy hindered holy living. The First Disputation (1523) showed the popularity of the proposed reforms. The Marriage Ordinance (1525) is a contribution to the history of the times. The reply to the Baptist arguments and exposure of their social disorders (1527), for the Baptists were the disturbers of the standing order in Zurich and fomenters of no one end of trouble for the Reformers there and in Germany, and the treatment they received, showed how far the Reformers were from being ready to grant to others the freedom of speech they exercised themselves. Still the Baptists were attacked on grounds of state polity rather than religiously.
The busy life of Zwingli, on whom fell the burden of directing the churches which received his leadership, was cut short by a violent death. He was involved in the struggle between the Forest cantons (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Luzern, Zug) up amid the mountains of Northern Switzerland, which were intensely Old Church, and the Reformed cantons (chiefly Zurich and Bern). The former would not grant freedom to gospel preaching, so the latter in punishment cut them off from necessary supplies, as they could do, since they commanded the commerce of the country. This brought matters to a crisis, and the opposing cantons met at Cappel, only 10 miles south of Zurich, October 11, 1531. Zwingli, as chief city pastor, went to the field as a non-combatant, although armed for defense, and perished the same day. He was a good man, a valiant fighter for the truth as he conceived it, and the Reformed churches, as contrasted with the Lutheran churches, look to him as one of their great founders.