« PreviousContinue »
against all our learned men.' John Gropper, likewise, ambassador of the archbishop of Cologne, said of him, after the assembly at Regenspurg, "That he was the fittest
man in the world to reform religion, because he was not only very learned and exemplary in his life, but a great lover of
and concord The Sacramentarians presented their confession of faith at the diet of Augsburgh, in 1530. It was drawn up by Bucer and Capito, and approved by the senate of Strasburgh. They held, that men are only justified by the merits of Jesus Christ, and faith ; but that faith ought to be attended with charity : And they allowed only of two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
The Lutherans and Zuinglians differed about the Lord's Supper, and were separated as to communion. The Lutherans denied having any union with the Sacramentarians; and they were not able to bear the opinion of Luther : But there was a third party gathered out of both, who were sensible that they were not obliged to hold
up their divisions, and laboured to persuade them that their opinions were not so different, as was commonly thought, and that they might easily re-unite. Bucer, then a minister at Strasburgh, was at the head of this party, and undertook, purely out of a desire of uniting the Lutherans and Zuinglians, to draw up a confession of faith, which both sides might approve. The task was difficult to perform. Luther, and his followers, had always asserted, that the body and blood of Christ were really with the bread and wine in the Eucharist. Zuinglius, and his adherents, on the contrary, held, that the bread and wine were only signs of the body and blood of Christ.
These two propositions were directly contrary. Bucer found out a medium, which he thought might satisfy both parties; namely, that the bread and wine remained the same substance, that they ever were, without any alteration; but by receiving them, they received the substance of the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, spiritually, and by faith. He made use of the same sort of expressions, as were made by the four imperial cities, Strasburgh, Constance, Memminghen, and Lindau, and presented to the diet at Augsburg. He made also the same declaration to Luther, to persuade him that the Sacramentarians were not of a contrary opinion to him about the Eucharist : But Luther knew the opinions of the Zuinglians, and gave no credit to Bucer. He wrote a letter to the senate of Francfort upon this occasion, in which having clearly shewn the difference between his own doctrine and the Zuinglian, he says, that the Zuinglians play after a strange manner with the words of Jesus Christ: That they are a double-tongued generation, who say that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are really in the sacrament; but, when they explain themselves, say, that it is spiritually not corporeally; and so continue in the error, that there is nothing but bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. The ministers of Francfort made an apology against this letter, and made use of Bucer's expressions, affirming that believers receive the true body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Lord's Supper, and do really eat and drink it for the nourishment of their souls : That though the bread and wine are not changed in their own nature, yet it cannot be said, that there is nothing in the Lord's Supper except the bread and wine, but that it is the sacrament of the true body and blood, which God has given us for the nourishment of our souls. The Zuinglians suspected, on the other side, that Bucer was departed from their opinion; so that in his journey to Zurick, which he made in May, 1533, he was forced to remove that suspicion, by assuring them, that he was of the same opinion which he maintained in the conference of Bern. He added, that he certainly knew, and could prove, that the opinion of Luther did not differ from Zuinglius, but in terms; and that the presence of the body of Jesus Christ, which he asserted in the Lord's Supper, was not contrary to the doctrine of Zuinglius.
The ministers of Augsburg also complained of Bucer, and accused him of having changed his opinion, by acknowledging that the body of Jesus Christ was eat corporeally and substantially in the Lord's Supper, and exhorting others to subscribe the confession of Augsburg, and the apology. They plainly told him, that they
would acknowledge no other presence of Jesus Christ in the Lord's Supper, than that of which he speaks in the sixth chapter of St John. Bucer replied, that the imperial cities had not, in the assembly of Schweinfort, departed from the confession of faith, which they had given into the diet at Augsburg; and that, by subscribing to the confession of Augsburg, they had not asserted a corporeal eating, but only promised to teach nothing contrary to that confession, which, in the article of the Lord's Supper, might agree with the doctrine of Zuinglius.
The ministers of Strasburgh importuned the Switzers to draw up a confession of their faith about the Lord's
Supper. It was composed at Basil in these words. “We
acknowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted his holy Supper in remembrance of his passion, to publish * his death with thanksgiving, to shew our Christian
charity, and union in the true faith. And as in bap• tism the water retains its own nature ; so in the Lord's
Supper, in which the true body and true blood of Jesus * Christ is signified and tendered to us with the bread and ir wine by the minister of the church, the bread and the
wine remain. Now we firmly believe, that Jesus Christ 5 is the nourishment of faithful souls to eternal life, and is that our souls are nourished and watered by true faith in
Jesus Christ, with his flesh and his blood.' They acided, in the margin of that confession, some words, by which they restrained what they seemed to say, in favour of the real presence, to a sacramental and spiritual presence by faith.
What opposition soever there was between the Luthe-rans and Zuinglians, Bucer would not despair of effecting an union; and, to that end, he obtained that a synod of the ministers of the cities of Upper Germany, should meet at Constance, in 1534. The ministers of Zurick were invited ; but not being able to come, they sent a confession of their faith, in which they expressed their sense of the sacrament in the same words they had used at the conference at Bern; where they had declared, that they could not re-unite with Luther, unless he would acknowledge that they eat the flesh of Jesus Christ, no otherwise, than by faith; for, according to his human nature, he is only in heaven, and is only in the eucharist by faith after a sacramental manner, which makes things present not carnally and sensibly, but spiritually, and to be received by faith. This form, approved by the churches of Basil, Schaffhausen, and Gall, was received by the synod of Constance, and put into the hands of Bucer for him to communicate to Luther and Melancthon. Bucer had a conference with the latter at Cassel, in the presence of the Landgrave, and told him, “that we received truly “ and substantially the body and blood of Jesus Christ,
when we receive the sacrament : That the bread and - wine are exhibiting signs; and, by receiving them, “ the body and blood of Jesus Christ are given to us, " and received by us : That the bread and body of Jesus “ Christ are united, not by a mixture of substance, but « because it is given with the sacrament.” Melancihon was inclinable enough to accept this exposition : But
because he acted in the names of others, he would not conclude any thing, and obliged himself to give a fair account of Bucer's words. Luther also began to be more tractable, after Bucer had made this declaration ; and, in several letters, shewed great inclination for an agreement, and to confer about the means of coming to an union.
The ministers and magistrates of the reformed cantons of Switzerland, met at Basil in January 1536, to draw up a confession of faith. Bucer and Capito went thither, and propounded an union with the Lutherans, assuring them that Luther was much mollified as to the Zuinglians, and desired nothing more than to come to an agreement with them; and therefore prayed them, so to moderate the expressions of their confession of faith, which they were about to draw up, especially in the articles about the eucharist, and the efficacy of the sacraments, as that they might forward the union, by omitting such words, as might occasion à contest.
This they partly obtained of the ministers of Switzerland, from the confession of faith which they had composed. They owned, that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper were not mere signs, but made up of signs, and things signified. That the water was the sign in baptism, and the thing signified was regeneration and adoption : That, in the eucharist, the bread and wine are the signs, and the thing signified is the communion of the body of Christ received by faith : That the body and blood of Christ is offered to the faithful in the Lord's Supper, that Jesus Christ may live in them, and they in Jesus Christ ; not that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are naturally united to the bread and wine, or included in the elements, or carnally present; but because they are symbols, by which we have a real communion with the body and blood of Jesus Christ to nourish the soul spiritually. This confession of faith was also approved in a second assembly of the magistrates and ministers of the protestant cantons of Switzerland, held at Basil in March of the same year.
The ministers of Strasburgh gave notice to those of Basil and Zurick, that they had appointed a synod to meet at Eisenach, on the fourteenth of May, where Luther would be present to treat of an union about the article of the Lord's Supper; and intreated them to send some of their divines. The Switzers thought it inconsistent to send any persons from them; but sent their confession of faith to Bucer and Capito, that they might present it to the synod. Bucer and Capito carried it to Eisenach, where
the ministers, sent by the chiefs of Upper Germany, were assembled. Luther could not be there; and therefore they went to him at Wittenberg, where they arrived on the twenty-second of May, and had a conference with him. Luther required of them, that they would plainly acknowledge, that the bread and wine in the sacrament were the body and blood of our Lord, and that the good and bad receive them alike. When they met again, the next day, Luther asked them whether they would not revoke their opinion ? Bucer answered them, that their faith and doctrine concerning the sacrament was, that, by the institution, and the operation of our Lord, and according to the natural sense of the words, the true body and true blood of Jesus Christ were made present, given, and received with the visible signs of bread and wine : That they also believed, that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are offered by the ministers of the church to all those that receive them: And that they are not only received by the heart and mouth of the godly for salvation, but by the mouth of the unworthy for their condemnation ; which
be understood of the members of the church. Luther replied, he did not believe the body and blood of Christ were united with the bread and wine by any natural union, nor that they were locally included in the bread and wine ; but he admitted a sacramental union of the bread and body, and wine and blood. Then having consulted privately with the Saxon divines, he returned to Bucer and his brethren, and told them, that if they did believe, and would teach, that the true body and true blood of Jesus Christ, were offered, given, and taken in the Lord's Supper, and not mere bread and wine ; and that this perception and exhibition were made really, and not after an imaginary manner, they were agreed among themselves, and he would acknowledge and embrace them as brethren in Jesus Christ.
This confession of faith was signed by the ministers of the cities of Upper Germany. Afterwards, on the twentyfifth of May, they conferred with Pomeranus about images, the ceremonies of the mass, priests vestments, tapers, the elevation and adoration of the sacrament, which were yet used in Saxony. Pomeranus said, that Luther confessed these things were amiss : But that he had hitherto continued them up on account of the weak, and was thinking to abolish them on the twenty-seventh of the same month. Bucer and Capito delivered to Luther the confession of faith of the churches of Switzerland, that he might examine it.