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    Chapter 2

    State—Religion in Berne—Irresolution of Berne—Almanac of Heretics—Evangelical Majority—Haller—Zwingle’s Signal—The radicals in Berne—Victory of the Gospel—Papist Provocations—The City Companies—Proposed Disputation—Objections of the Forest Cantons—The Church, the Judge of Controversies—Unequal Contest—Zwingle—A Christian Band—The Cordelier’s Church—Opening of the Conference—The sole Head—Unity of Error—A Priest converted at the Altar—St. Vincent’s Day—The Butchers—A strange Argument—Papist bitterness—Necessity of Reform—Zwingle’s Sermon—Visit of the King of Kings—Edict of Reform—Was the Reformation political?

    Of all the Swiss cantons, Berne appeared the least disposed to the Reformation. A military state may be zealous for religion, but it will be for an external and a disciplined religion: it requires an ecclesiastical organization that it can see, and touch, and manage at its will. It fears the innovations and the free movements of the Word of God: it loves the form and not the life. Napoleon, by restoring religion in France in the Concordat, has given us a memorable example of this truth. Such, also, was the case with Berne. Its government, besides, was absorbed in political interests, and although it had little regard for the pope, it cared still less to see a reformer put himself, as Zwingle did, at the head of public affairs. As for the people, feasting on the “butter of their kine and milk of their sheep, with fat of lambs,” they remained closely shut up within the narrow circle of their material wants. Religious questions were not to the taste either of the rulers or of their fellow-citizens.HRSCV4 602.1

    The Bernese government, being without experience in religious matters, had proposed to check the movement of the Reform by its edict of 1523. As soon as it discovered its mistake, it moved towards the cantons that adhered to the ancient faith; and while that portion of the people whence the Great Council was recruited, listened to the voice of the reformers, most of the patrician families, who composed the Smaller Council, believing their power, their interests, and their honor menaced, attached themselves to the old order of things. From this opposition of the two councils there arose a general uneasiness, but no violent shocks. Sudden movements, repeated starts, announced from time to time that incongruous matters were fermenting in the nation; it was like an indistinct earthquake, which raises the whole surface without causing any rents: then anon all returns to apparent tranquillity. Berne, which was always decided in its politics, turned in religious matters at one time to the right, and at another to the left; and declared that it would be neither popish nor reformed. To gain time was, for the new faith, to gain everything.HRSCV4 602.2

    What was done to turn aside Berne from the Reformation, was the very cause of precipitating it into the new way. The haughtiness with which the five primitive cantons arrogated the guardianship of their confederates, the secret conferences to which Berne was not even invited, and the threat of addressing the people in a direct manner, deeply offended the Bernese oligarchs. Thomas Murner, a Carmelite of Lucerne, one of those rude men who act upon the populace, but who inspire disgust in elevated minds, made the cup run over. Furious against the Zurich calendar, in which the names of the saints had been purposely omitted, he published in opposition to it the “Almanac of Heretics and Church-robbers,” a tract filled with lampoons and invectives, in which the portraits of the reformers and of their adherents, among whom were many of the most considerable men of Berne, were coupled with the most brutal inscriptions. Zurich and Berne in conjunction demanded satisfaction, and from this time the union of these two states daily became closer.HRSCV4 602.3

    This change was soon perceived at Berne. The elections of 1527 placed a considerable number of friends of the Reform in the Great Council; and this body, forthwith resuming its right to nominate the members of the Smaller Council, which had been usurped for twenty years by the Bannerets and the Sixteen, removed from the government the most decided partisans of the Roman hierarchy, and among others Gaspard de Mulinen and Sebastian de Stein, and filled the vacancies with members of the evangelical majority. The union of Church and State, which had hitherto checked the progress of the Reform in Switzerland, was now about to accelerate its movements.HRSCV4 602.4

    The reformer Haller was not alone in Berne. Kolb had quitted the Carthusian monastery at Nuremberg, in which he had been compelled to take refuge, and had appeared before his compatriots, demanding no other stipend than the liberty of preaching Jesus Christ. Already bending under the weight of years, his head crowned with hoary locks, Kolb, young in heart, full of fire, and of indomitable courage, presented boldly before the chiefs of the nation that Gospel which had saved him. Haller, on the contrary, although only thirty-five years old, moved with a measured step, spoke with gravity, and proclaimed the new doctrines with unusual circumspection. The old man had taken the young man’s part, and the youth that of the graybeard.HRSCV4 602.5

    Zwingle, whose eye nothing escaped, saw that a favorable hour for Berne was coming, and immediately gave the signal. “The dove commissioned to examine the state of the waters is returning with an olive-branch into the ark,” wrote he to Haller; “come forth now, thou second Noah, and take possession of the land. Enforce, be earnest, and fix deeply in the hearts of men the hooks and grapnels of the Word of God, so that they can never again be rid of them.”—“Your bears,” wrote he to Thomas ab Hofen, “have again put forth their claws. Please God that they do not draw them back until they have torn everything in pieces that opposes Jesus Christ.”HRSCV4 602.6

    Haller and his friends were on the point of replying to this appeal, when their situation became complicated. Some of the radicals, arriving at Berne in 1527, led away the people from the evangelical preachers “on account of the presence of idols.” Haller had a useless conference with them. “To what dangers is not Christianity exposed,” cried he, “wherever these furies have crept in!” There has never been any revival in the Church, without the hierarchical or radical sects immediately endeavouring to disturb it. Haller, although alarmed, still maintained his unalterable meekness. “The magistrates are desirous of banishing them,” said he; “but it is our duty to drive out their errors, and not their persons. Let us employ no other weapons than the sword of the Spirit.” It was not from popery that the Reformers had learned these principles. A public disputation took place. Six of the radicals declared themselves convinced, and two others were sent out of the country.HRSCV4 603.1

    The decisive moment was drawing near. The two great powers of the age, the Gospel and the Papacy, were stirring with equal energy; the Bernese councils were to speak out. They saw on the one hand the five primitive cantons taking daily a more threatening attitude, and announcing that the Austrian would soon reappear in Helvetia, to reduce it once more into subjection to Rome; and on the other they beheld the Gospel everyday gaining ground in the confederation. Which was destined to prevail in Switzerland—the lances of Austria or the Word of God? In the uncertainty in which the councils were placed, they resolved to side with the majority. Where could they discover a firm footing, if not there? Vox populi, vox Dei. “No one,” said they, “can make any change of his own private authority: the consent of all is necessary.”HRSCV4 603.2

    The government of Berne had to decide between two mandates, both emanating from its authority: that of 1523, in favor of the free preaching of the Gospel, and that of 1526, in favor “of the sacraments, the saints, the mother of God, and the ornaments of the churches.” State messengers set out and traversed every parish: the people gave their votes against every law contrary to liberty, and the councils, supported by the nation, decreed that “the Word of God should be preached publicly and freely, even if it should be in opposition to the statutes and doctrines of men.” Such was the victory of the Gospel and of the people over the oligarchy and the priests.HRSCV4 603.3

    Contentions immediately arose throughout the canton, and every parish became a battle-field. The peasants began to dispute with the priests and monks, in reliance on the Holy Scriptures. “If the mandate of our lords,” said many, “accords to our pastors the liberty of preaching, why should it not grant the flock the liberty of acting?”—“Peace, peace!” cried the councils, alarmed at their own boldness. But the flocks resolutely declared that they would send away the mass, and keep their pastors and the Bible. Upon this the papal partisans grew violent. The banneret Kuttler called the good people of Emmenthal, “heretics, rascals, wantons;” but these peasants obliged him to make an apology. The bailiff of Trachselwald was more cunning. Seeing the inhabitants of Rudersweil listening with eagerness to the Word of God, which a pious minister was preaching to them, he came with fifers and trumpeters, and interrupted the sermon, inviting the village girls by words and by lively tunes to quit the church for the dance.HRSCV4 603.4

    These singular provocations did not check the Reform. Six of the city companies (the shoemakers, weavers, merchants, bakers, stone-masons, and carpenters) abolished in the churches and convents of their district all masses, anniversaries, advowsons, and prebends. Three others (the tanners, smiths, and tailors) prepared to imitate them; the seven remaining companies were undecided, except the butchers, who were enthusiastic for the pope. Thus the majority of the citizens had embraced the Gospel. Many parishes throughout the canton had done the same; and the avoyer d’Erlach, that great adversary of the Reformation, could no longer keep the torrent within bounds.HRSCV4 603.5

    Yet the attempt was made: the bailiffs were ordered to note the irregularities and dissolute lives of the monks and nuns; all women of loose morals were even turned out of the cloisters. But it was not against these abuses alone that the Reformation was levelled; it was against the institutions themselves, and against popery on which they were founded. The people ought therefore to decide.—“The Bernese clergy,” said they, “must be convoked, as at Zurich, and let the two doctrines be discussed in a solemn conference. We will proceed afterwards in conformity with the result.”HRSCV4 603.6

    On the Sunday following the festival of Saint Martin (11th November), the council and citizens unanimously resolved that a public disputation should take place at the beginning of the succeeding year. “The glory of God and his Word,” said they, “will at length appear!” Bernese and strangers, priests and laymen, all were invited by letter or by printed notice to come and discuss the controverted points, but by Scripture alone, without the glosses of the ancients, and renouncing all subtleties and abusive language. Who knows, said they, whether all the members of the ancient Swiss confederation may not be thus brought to unity of faith?HRSCV4 604.1

    Thus, within the walls of Berne, the struggle was about to take place that would decide the fate of Switzerland; for the example of the Bernese must necessarily lead with it a great part of the confederation.HRSCV4 604.2

    The Five Cantons, alarmed at this intelligence, met at Lucerne, where they were joined by Friburg, Soleure, and Glaris. There was nothing either in the letter or in the spirit of the federal compact to obstruct religious liberty. “Every state,” said Zurich, “is free to choose the doctrine that it desires to profess.” The Waldstettes, on the contrary, wished to deprive the cantons of this independence, and to subject them to the federal majority and to the pope. They protested, therefore, in the name of the confederation, against the proposed discussion. “Your ministers,” wrote they to Berne, “dazzled and confounded at Baden by the brightness of truth, would desire by this new discussion to hide their shame; but we entreat you to desist from a plan so contrary to our ancient alliances.”—“It is not we who have infringed them,” replied Berne; “it is much rather your haughty missive that has destroyed them. We will not abandon the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Upon this the Roman cantons decided on refusing a safe-conduct to those who should proceed to Berne. This was giving token of sinister intentions.HRSCV4 604.3

    The Bishops of Lausanne, Constance, Basle, and Sion, being invited to the conference under pain of forfeiting all their privileges in the canton of Berne, replied that, since it was to be a disputation according to the Scriptures, they had nothing to do with it. Thus did these priests forget the words of one of the most illustrious Roman doctors of the fifteenth century: “In heavenly things man should be independent of his fellows, and trust in God alone.”HRSCV4 604.4

    The Romanist doctors followed the example of the bishops. Eck, Murner, Cochloeus, and many others, said wherever the went: “We have received the letter of this leper, of this accursed heretic, Zwingle. They want to take the Bible for their judge; but has the Bible a voice against those who do it violence? We will not go to Berne; we will not crawl into that obscure corner of the world; we will not go and combat in that gloomy cavern, in that school of heretics. Let these villains come out into the open air, and contend with us on level ground, if they have the Bible on their side, as they say.” The emperor ordered the discussion to be adjourned; but on the very day of its opening, the council of Berne replied, that as every one was already assembled, delay would be impossible.HRSCV4 604.5

    Then, in despite of the doctors and bishops, the Helvetic Church assembled to decide upon its doctrines. Had it a right to do so? No;—not if priests and bishops were appointed, as Rome pretends, to form a mystic bond between the Church and our Lord; Yes—if they were established, as the Bible declares, only to satisfy that law of order by virtue of which all society should have a directing power. The opinions of the Swiss reformers in this respect were not doubtful. The grace which creates the minister comes from the Lord, thought they; but the Church examines this grace, acknowledges it, proclaims it by the elders, and in every act in which faith is concerned, it can always appeal from the minister to the Word of God. Try the spirits—prove all things, it says to the faithful. The Church is the judge of controversies; and it is this duty, in which it should never be found wanting, that it was now about to fulfil in the disputation at Berne.HRSCV4 604.6

    The contest seemed unequal. On one side appeared the Roman hierarchy, a giant which had increased in strength during many centuries; and on the other, there was at first but one weak and timid man, the modest Berthold Haller. “I cannot wield the sword of the Word,” said he in alarm to his friends. “If you do not stretch out your hands to me, all is over.” He then threw himself trembling at the feet of the Lord, and soon arose enlightened and exclaiming, “Faith in the Saviour gives me courage, and scatters all my fears.”HRSCV4 604.7

    Yet he could not remain alone: all his looks were turned towards Zwingle: “It was I who took the bath at Baden,” wrote Oecolampadius to Haller, “and now it is Zwingle who should lead off the bear-dance in Berne.”—“We are between the hammer and the anvil,” wrote Haller to Zwingle; “we hold the wolf by the ears, and know not how to let him go. The houses of De Watteville, Noll, Tremp, and Berthold are open to you. Come, then, and command the battle in person.”HRSCV4 604.8

    Zwingle did not hesitate. He demanded permission of the Council of Zurich to visit Berne, in order to show there “that his teaching was full of the fear of God, and not blasphemous; mighty to spread concord through Switzerland, and not to cause troubles and dissension.” At the very time that Haller received news of Zwingle’s coming, Oecolampadius wrote to him: “I am ready, if it be necessary, to sacrifice my life. Let us inaugurate the new year by embracing one another to the glory of Jesus Christ.” Other doctors wrote to the same effect. “These, then,” cried Haller with emotion, “these are the auxiliaries that the Lord sends to my infirmity, to aid me in fighting this rude battle!”HRSCV4 605.1

    It was necessary to proceed with circumspection, for the violence of the oligarchs and of the Five Cantons was well known. The doctors of Glaris, Schaffhausen, St. Gall, Constance, Ulm, Lindau, and Augsburg assembled at Zurich, to proceed under the same escort as Zwingle, Pellican, Collin, Megander, Grossman, the commander Schmidt, Bullinger, and a great number of the rural clergy, selected to accompany the reformer. “When all this game traverses the country,” said the pensioners, “we will go a-hunting, and see if we cannot kill some, or at least catch them and put them into a cage.”HRSCV4 605.2

    Three hundred chosen men, selected from the companies of Zurich and from the parishes within its precincts, donned their breastplates and shouldered their arquebuses; but in order not to give the journey of these doctors the appearance of a military expedition, they took neither colors, fife, nor drum; and the trumpeter of the city, a civil officer, rode alone at the head of the company.HRSCV4 605.3

    On Tuesday the 2nd of January they set out. Never had Zwingle appeared more cheerful. “Glory by to the Lord,” said he, “my courage increases every day.” The burgomaster Roust, the town-clerk of Mangoldt, with Funck and Jaekli, both masters of arts, and all four delegated by the council, were on horseback near him. They reached Berne on the 4th of January, having had only one or two unimportant alarms.HRSCV4 605.4

    The Cordeliers’s Church was to serve as the place of conference. Tillmann, the city architect, had made arrangements according to a plan furnished by Zwingle. A large platform had been erected, on which were placed two tables, and around them sat the champions of the two parties. On the evangelical side were remarked, besides Haller, Zwingle, and Oecolampadius, many distinguished men of the Reformed Church, strangers to Switzerland, as Bucer, Capito, and Ambrose Blarer. On the side of the Papacy, Dr. Treger of Friburg, who enjoyed a high reputation, appeared to keep up the fire of the combat. As for the rest, whether through fear or contempt, the most famous Roman doctors were absent.HRSCV4 605.5

    The first act was to publish the regulations of the conference. “No proof shall be proposed that is not drawn from the Holy Scriptures, and no explanation shall be given of those Scriptures that does not come from Scripture itself, explaining obscure texts by such as are clear.” After this, one of the secretaries, rising to call over the roll, shouted with a loud voice that re-echoed through the church,—The Bishop of Constance! No one replied. He did the same for the Bishops of Zion, Basle, and Lausanne. Neither of these prelates was present at this meeting, either in person or by deputy. The Word of God being destined to reign alone, the Roman hierarchy did not appear. These two powers cannot walk together. There were present about three hundred and fifty Swiss and German ecclesiastics.HRSCV4 605.6

    On Tuesday, 7th January 1528, the burgomaster Vadian of St. Gall, one of the presidents, opened the disputation. After him the aged Kolb stood up and said: “God is at this moment agitating the whole world; let us, therefore, humble ourselves before him;” and he pronounced with fervor a confession of sins.HRSCV4 605.7

    This being ended, the first thesis was read. It ran thus: “The holy christian Church, of which Christ is the sole head, is born of the Word of God, abideth in it, and listeneth not to the voice of a stranger.”HRSCV4 605.8

    Alexis Grat, a Dominican monk.—“The word sole is not in Scripture. Christ had left a vicar here below.”HRSCV4 605.9

    Haller.—“The vicar that Christ left is the Holy Ghost.”HRSCV4 605.10

    Treger.—“See then to what a pass things have come these last ten years. This man calls himself a Lutheran; that a Zwinglian; a third, a Carlstadtian; a fourth an Oecolampadist; a fifth, an Anabaptist”HRSCV4 605.11

    Bucer.—“Whosoever preaches Jesus as the only Saviour, we recognize as our brother. Neither Luther, nor Zwingle, nor Oecolampadius, desires the faithful to bear his name. Besides, you should not boast so much of a mere external unity. When Antichrist gained the upperhand throughout the world, in the east by Mahomet, in the west by the pope, he was able to keep the people in unity of error. God permits divisions, in order that those who belong to him may learn to look not to men, but to the testimony of the Word, and to the assurance of the Holy Ghost in their hearts. Thus then, dearly beloved brethren, to the Scriptures, the Scriptures! O Church of Berne, hold fast to the teaching of Him who said, Come unto me, and not, Come unto my vicar!HRSCV4 605.12

    The disputation then turned successively on Tradition, the Merits of Christ, Transubstantiation, the Mass, Prayer to the Saints, Purgatory, Images, Celibacy, and the Disorders of the Clergy. Rome found numerous defenders, and among others, Murer, priest of Rapperswyl, who had said: “If they wish to burn the two ministers of Berne, I will undertake to carry them both to the stake.”HRSCV4 606.1

    On Sunday the 19th of January, the day on which the doctrine of the mass was attacked, Zwingle, desirous of acting on the people also, went into the pulpit, and reciting the Apostles’ Creed, made a pause after these words: “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” These three articles,” said he “are in contradiction to the mass.” All his hearers redoubled their attention; and a priest, clothed in his sacerdotal vestments, who was preparing to celebrate the holy sacrifice in one of the chapels, stopped in astonishment at Zwingle’s words. Erect before the consecrated altar on which lay the chalice and the body of the Saviour, with eyes fixed upon the reformer, whose words electrified the people, a prey to the most violent struggles, and beaten down by the weight of truth, the agitated priest resolved to give up everything for it. In the presence of the whole assembly, he stripped off his priestly ornaments, and throwing them on the altar, he exclaimed: “Unless the mass reposes on a more solid foundation, I can celebrate it no longer!” The noise of this conversion, effected at the very foot of the altar, immediately spread through the city, and it was regarded as an important omen. So long as the mass remains, Rome has gained everything: as soon as the mass falls, Rome has lost all. The mass is the creative principle of the whole system of Popery.HRSCV4 606.2

    Three days later, on the 22nd January, was the feast of St. Vincent, the patron of the city. The disputation that had been continued during Sunday was suspended on that day. The canons asked the council what they were to do. “Such of you,” replied the council, “as receive the doctrine of the theses ought not to say mass; the others may perform divine worship as usual.” Every preparation was accordingly made for the solemnity. On St. Vincent’s eve the bells from every steeple announced the festival to the inhabitants of Berne. On the morrow the sacristans lit up the tapers; incense filled the temple, but no one appeared. No priests to say mass, no faithful to hear it! Already there was a vast chasm in the Roman sanctuary, a deep silence, as on the field of battle, where none but the dead are lying.HRSCV4 606.3

    In the evening it was the custom for the canons to chant vespers with great pomp. The organist was at his post, but no one else appeared. The poor man left thus alone, beholding with sorrow the fall of that worship by which he gained his bread, gave utterance to his grief by playing a mourning-hymn instead of the majestic Magnificat: “Oh, wretched Judas, what hast thou done, that thou hast thus betrayed our Lord?” After this sad farewell, he rose and went out. Almost immediately, some men, excited by the passions of the moment, fell upon his beloved organ, an accomplice in their eyes of so many superstitious rites, and their violent hands broke it to pieces. No more mass, no more organ, no more anthems! A new Supper and new hymns shall succeed the rites of popery.HRSCV4 606.4

    On the next day there was the same silence. Suddenly, however, a band of men with loud voices and hasty step was heard. It was the Butchers’ Company that, at this moment so fatal to Rome, desired to support it. They advanced, carrying small fir-trees and green branches, for the decoration of their chapel. In the midst of them was a foreign priest, behind whom walked a few poor scholars. The priest officiated; the sweet voices of the scholars supplied the place of the mute organ, and the butchers retired proud of their victory.HRSCV4 606.5

    The discussion was drawing to a close: the combatants had dealt vigorous blows. Burgauer, pastor of St. Gall, had maintained the real presence in the host; but on the 19th January he declared himself convinced by the reasonings of Zwingle, Oecolampadius, and Bucer; and Matthias, minister of Saengen, had done the same.HRSCV4 606.6

    A conference in Latin afterwards took place between Farel and a Parisian doctor. The latter advanced a strange argument. “Christians,” said he, “are enjoined to obey the devil; for it is said, Submit unto thine adversary (Matthew 5:25); now, our adversary is the devil. How much more, then, should we submit to the Church!” Loud bursts of laughter greeted this remarkable syllogism. A discussion on baptism and other subjects terminated the conference.HRSCV4 606.7

    The two councils decreed that the mass should be abolished, and that every one might remove from the churches the ornaments he had placed there.HRSCV4 606.8

    Immediately twenty-five altars and a great number of images were destroyed in the cathedral, yet without disorder or bloodshed; and the children began to sing in the streets (as Luther informs us): By the Word at length we’re saved From a God in a mortar brayed.HRSCV4 606.9

    The hearts of the adherents of the Papacy were filled with bitterness as they heard the objects of their adoration fall one after another. “Should any man,” said John Schneider, “take away the altar of the Butchers’ Company, I will take away his life.” Peter Thorman compared the cathedral stripped of its ornaments to a stable. “When the good folks of the Oberland come to market,” added he, “they will be happy to put up their cattle in it.” And John Zehender, member of the Great Council, to show the little value he set on such a place of worship, entered it riding on an ass, insulting and cursing the Reform. A Bernese, who chanced to be there, having said to him, “It is by God’s will that these images have been pulled down,”—“Say rather by the devil’s,” replied Zehender; “when have you ever been with God so as to learn his will?” He was fined twenty livres, and expelled from the council. “What times! what manners!” exclaimed many Romanists; “what culpable neglect! How easy would it have been to prevent so great a misfortune! Oh! if our bishops had only been willing to occupy themselves more with learning and a little less with their mistresses.”HRSCV4 607.1

    This Reform was necessary. When Christianity in the fourth century had seen the favor of princes succeed to persecution, a crowd of heathens rushing into the church had brought with them the images, pomps, statues, and demigods of paganism, and a likeness of the mysteries of Greece and Asia, and above all of Egypt, had banished the Word of Jesus Christ from the christian oratories. This Word returning in the sixteenth century, a purification must necessarily take place; but it could not be done without grievous rents.HRSCV4 607.2

    The departure of the strangers was drawing near. On the 28th January, the day after that on which the images and altars had been thrown down, while their piled fragments still encumbered here and there the porches and aisles of the cathedral, Zwingle crossing these eloquent ruins, once more ascended the pulpit in the midst of an immense crowd. In great emotion, directing his eyes by turns on these fragments and on the people, he said: “Victory has declared for the truth, but perseverance alone can complete the triumph. Christ persevered even until death. Ferendo vincitur fortuna. Cornelius Scipio, after the disaster at Cannae, having learned that the generals surviving the slaughter meditated quitting Italy, entered the senate-house, although not yet of senatorial age, and drawing his sword, constrained the affrighted chiefs to swear that they would not abandon Rome. Citizens of Berne, to you I address the same demand: do not abandon Jesus Christ.”HRSCV4 607.3

    We may easily imagine the effect produced on the people by such words, pronounced with Zwingle’s energetic eloquence.HRSCV4 607.4

    Then, turning towards the fragments that lay near him: “Behold,” said he, “behold these idols! Behold them conquered, mute, and shattered before us! These corpses must be dragged to the shambles, and the gold you have spent upon such foolish images must henceforward be devoted to comforting in their misery the living images of God. Feeble souls, ye shed tears over these sad idols; do ye not see that they break, do ye not hear that they crack like any other wood, or like any other stone? Look! here is one deprived of its head (Zwingle pointed to the image, and all the people fixed their eyes upon it); here is another maimed of its arms. If this ill usage had done any harm to the saints that are in heaven, and if they had the power ascribed to them, would you have been able, I pray, to cut off their arms and their heads?”HRSCV4 607.5

    “Now, then,” said the powerful orator in conclusion, “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1). Fear not! That God who has enlightened you, will enlighten your confederates also, and Switzerland, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, shall flourish in righteousness and peace.”HRSCV4 607.6

    The words of Zwingle were not lost. The mercy of God called forth that of man. Some persons condemned to die for sedition were pardoned, and all the exiles were recalled. “Should we not have done so,” said the council, “had a great prince visited us? Shall we not much more do so, now that the King of kings and the Redeemer of our souls has made his entry among us, bearing an everlasting amnesty?”HRSCV4 607.7

    The Romish cantons, exasperated at the result of the discussion, sought to harass the return of the doctors. On arriving before Bremgarten, they found the gates closed. The bailiff Schutz, who had accompanied them with two hundred men-at-arms, placed two halberdiers before Zwingle’s horse, two behind him, and one on each side; then putting himself at the reformer’s left hand, while the burgomaster Roust stationed himself on the right, he ordered the escort to proceed, lance in rest. The avoyers of the town being intimidated, came to a parley; the gates were opened; the escort traversed Bremgarten amidst an immense crowd, and on the 1st February reached Zurich without accident, which Zwingle re-entered, says Luther, like a conqueror.HRSCV4 607.8

    The Roman-catholic party did not dissemble the check they had received. “Our cause is falling,” said the friends of Rome. “Oh! that we had had men skilled in the Bible! The impetuosity of Zwingle supported our adversaries; his ardor was never relaxed. That brute has more knowledge than was imagined. Alas! alas! the greater party has vanquished the better.”HRSCV4 608.1

    The Council of Berne, desirous of separating from the pope, relied upon the people. On the 30th January, messengers going from house to house convoked the citizens; and on the 2nd February, the burgesses and inhabitants, masters and servants, uniting in the cathedral, and forming but one family, with hands upraised to heaven, swore to defend the two councils in all they should undertake for the good of the State or of the Church.HRSCV4 608.2

    On the 7th February 1528, the council published a general edict of Reform, and “threw for ever from the necks of the Bernese the yoke of the four bishops, who,” said they, “know well how to shear their sheep, but not how to feed them.”HRSCV4 608.3

    At the same time the reformed doctrines were spreading among the people. In every quarter might be heart earnest and keen dialogues, written in rhyme by Manuel, in which the pale and expiring mass, stretched on her deathbed, was loudly calling for all her physicians, and finding their advice useless, at length dictating with a broken voice her last will and testament, which the people received with loud bursts of laughter.HRSCV4 608.4

    The Reformation generally, and that of Berne in particular, has been reproached as being brought about by political motives. But, on the contrary, Berne, which of all the Helvetic states was the greatest favorite of the court of Rome—which had in its canton neither a bishop to dismiss nor a powerful clergy to humiliate—Berne, whose most influential families, the Weingartens, Manuels, Mays, were reluctant to sacrifice the pay and the service of the foreigner, and all whose traditions were conservative, ought to have opposed the movement. The Word of God was the power that overcame this political tendency.HRSCV4 608.5

    At Berne, as elsewhere, it was neither a learned, nor a democratic, nor a sectarian spirit that gave birth to the Reformation. Undoubtedly the men of letters, the liberals, the sectarian enthusiasts, rushed into the great struggle of the sixteenth century; but the duration of the Reform would not have been long had it received its life from them. The primitive strength of Christianity, reviving after ages of long and complete prostration, was the creative principle of the Reformation; and it was erelong seen separating distinctly from the false allies that had presented themselves, rejecting an incredulous learning by elevating the study of the classics, checking all demagogic anarchy by upholding the principles of true liberty, and repudiating the enthusiastic sects by consecrating the rights of the Word and of the christian people.HRSCV4 608.6

    But while we maintain that the Reformation was at Berne, as elsewhere, a truly christian work, we are far from saying that it was not useful to the canton in a political sense. All the European states that have embraced the Reformation have been elevated, while those which have combated it have been lowered.HRSCV4 608.7

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