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He took notice of some words, which, as he said, might offend the weak. Nevertheless he declared, that he would acknowledge them for his brethren, if they would sign the form of the union, which had been drawn up. Bucer, having undertaken to cause it to be received by them, returned to Srasburgh, and made such an explication of the words, by softening them, that he reduced them to a sense, which was not contrary to the doctrine of the Sacramentarians. These articles were successful at Strasburgh; yet they had not the same fate in Switzerland, where Bucer had sent this form of union. It was there thought obscure, doubtful, and captious; and they would not subscribe to it; so that Bucer and Capito were obliged to go themselves to an assembly of the protestant cantons, which was held at Basil in September. Bucer there related, that Luther had not disapproved the confession of the Switzers : But both parties judged it convenient to draw
a form of union; and he undertook to shew, that the doctrine of it was not different from their confession of faith ; and he exhorted them to sign it, that the union might be complete. The Switzers could not be prevailed on to do it; and all that Bucer could obtain was, that they would draw up a declaration of the opinions of the churches of Switzerland, in which they would explain the articles of the agreement, and send them to Luther.
In this declaration, which is very long, the articles of the form of union about the Lord's Supper are delivered in such expressions, as wholly favour the judgment of Zuinglius, and are opposite to the real presence. They there say, that Jesus Christ is the food of our souls, and that his body is really eaten, and his blood really drank, not carnally, substantially, and corporeally, but spiritually, and by faith, by believing the promises of God, that the elements of the bread and wine, in the administration of the Lord's Supper, are signs which represent Jesus Christ to us, and put us in mind of his mysteries : That his presence in the Supper is not a corporal presence, but a celestial one, and that his body is united to the bread only in a sacramental manner : That the bread and wine are figures of the body of Christ, which is discerned by the mind in the sacrament: That those who eat the bread at the Lord's Supper, by a sincere faith, receive the benefits which God hath promised ; but that they, who cat without faith, receive their own judgment and condemnation. This declaration was composed in a synod at Zurick, held in October, and approved in mother assembly, which met in November following at Basil, from whence it was sent to Luther, and presented by Bucer, at the assembly at Smalkald, in 1537. Luther approved all the articles, excepting that which contained the Lord's Supper.
The Switzers called a synod on purpose, in March 1538, to consult about an answer to Luther's letter; and Bucer and Capito were sent thither, to deliver his judgment. The ministers of Zurick alledged, that Luther, in his writings, and in the confession of Augsburg, had maintained the real presence, and positively condemned the opinion of the Zuinglians. That these writings of Luther were public, and the words clear ; nor could they allow of his doctrine, unless they were certain he had altered his opinion, and embraced the truth. Bucer was much amazed at this objection, and answered, that it was very unfit to press it at this time, since they had long known what was contained in Luther's writings, and had never urged it before in the whole course of the treaty : That, now things were near an end, they had contrived to propound it, and revive the old quarrel to prevent the conclusion of the whole affair. The ministers of Zurick replied, they never desired the ministers of Strasburgh to concern themselves with the treaty : That Bucer and Capito came to find them, and assured them, that Luther's opinion about the sacrament agreed with theirs, and that they might unite with him, if they would frame a confession of faith, which should contain their opinion, and the conditions on which they would come to an agreement with Luther : That they had drawn up a confession at Basil, and delivered their opinion about the Lord's Supper fully: That if Luther had approved of their confession of faith, there would have needed no more to be done towards an agreement ; but, instead of that, Bucer had brought them other articles from Wittenberg, anel prayed them to sign thereto : That they had offered to do it, provided Luther liked the explication which Bucer gave of them : That at last, they had sent a declaration of their opinions, which they were resolved to abide by, and would not consent to any thing new or obscure. Bucer, the next day, made a long discourse in which he laboured to prove, that there was no other difference between the Lutherans and Zuinglians, about their opinion concerning the Lord's Supper, but in words, and expressions. However, the ministers of Zurick continued to declare, that they would keep clese to the confession
of Basil, and the dispute at Bern; that the words, which Luther had always used, were directly contrary to their opinions ; that they could not explain themselves in any other terms without force, because they were clear and without ambiguity. That it was not reasonable to judge of the opinion of any man, rather by the declaration of another, than from his own words : That Luther, in his last letter, had named Bucer and Capito, for his interpreters ; but it was to be feared that in the issue he would blame them for being too easy; and going too far, and so would not consent to the declaration they should make. Then the ministers of Zurick came to debate the matter. with Bucer, and brought him to grant, that these words, this is my body, were figurative : That the sacramental union of the body of Christ with the bread, consisted only in this, that the bread signified the body: That the body of Jesus Christ is essentially at the right-hand of the Father, and after a spiritual manner in the sacrament: They disputed upon this question : Whether the presence of Jesus Christ, in the Lord's Supper, was miraculous ? Luther had said, in his last letter, that the presence was inexplicable, and an effect of the divine omnipotence. The ministers of Zurick would not allow any miracle to be in the Lord's Supper, and maintained that it was easy to explain after what manner Jesus Christ was spiritually present by operation and efficacy. They urged Bucer to sign the articles, on which they were agreed : But he desired time; and drew up a long instrument, in form of a verbal process, containing what had been said on both sides, which was disapproved by the assembly.
The chancellor of Zurick, being sensible if they went on disputing there would be no end, turned his speech to the ministers of Zurick, and said ; Do you believe that ( we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the
sacrament, or no ?' They all answered, " We believe • it.' Then turning himself to Bucer and Capito, he said to them ; · Do you own that the body and blood of Jesus « Christ is received into the souls of believers by faith - and spirit?' They answered ; “ We believe, and con“ fess it.” “To what purpose then, (replied the chan(cellor) are all your disputes, which have lasted these <three days ?" The ministers of Zurick added, that they held no other doctrine, than that which they had expressed in their confession of faith, and their declaration : And the ministers of Strasburgh solemnly declared, that they would not oblige them to embrace any thing con
trary to it; much less draw any person from that doctrine.
Upon these declaracions it was agreed, that an answer should be sent to Luther, which was drawn up and read two days after in the assembly. The Switzers were very careful it should be expressed, that, in their joining with Luther, they would not change their opinion about the Lord's Supper; for they declared, they did not enter into that union, till they were assured, by Bucer and Capito, that Luther approved their confession of faith made at Basil, with the exposition they had given of it ; and because he had declared to them, that Jesus Christ was at the right hand of his Father, and did not come down in any manner into the Lord's Supper ; and that he did not grant any presence of Jesus Christ in the eucharist, nor any manducation contrary to the Christian faith. They also declared, that the body and blood of Jesus Christ were received and eaten in the Lord's Supper ; but only so far as they were truly taken and received by faith, and that they would not recede from their confession of faith and their declaration : That as Luther was of the same opinion, they were filled with extreme joy, that they might live in peace and union with him, and keep up this agreement, and avoid all discord. This let ter was dated the fourth of May, 1538.
Bucer was embarrassed between the opinions of Luther and Zuinglius concerning the Eucharist : One appeared to him too strong, the other too weak. The doctrine of the Lutherans seemed to him to attribute too much reality, to the presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the eucharist. He could not digest the consequences of it: But he also thought that the opinion of the Zuinglians was too narrow, and did not come up to the ideas which the scripture and ancient tradition imprint on our minds. They gave him great uneasiness ; and he wrote to John à Lasco, overseer of the churches of East Frieseland, to enquire, whether à Lasco, besides a power of signifying, acknowledged a power of exhibiting Christ himself; and that the Lord, in the communion of his body and blood, is given and received; whereby we are members of him in part, and flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone ; whereby we abide in him, and he in us; and that it is given and perceived, when the Lord himself operates in his ministry, and when the words and symbols are received as the Lord's, and as it were from the Lord himself, by free dispensation through his ministers, which
they call an union, not sensual, local, or natural'; but sacramental, and of the covenant on account of these texts of scripture, which speak of the mystery of the incorporation of the church, and of the communion, and eating and drinking of the flesh and blood of Christ.
Bucer also said, that Luther was satisfied, if the Zuinglians owned in the holy supper any thing more than bare signs of Christ absent. “ I am grieved, says he, and not « without reason, that we, to whom the Lord hath so 6 bountifully revealed the other mysteries of his king“ dom, have not been able, now in thirty-four years, to “ agree concerning this most sacred and most general “ mystery, which all Christians ought to understand, as " well as use.”
The Lutherans said, that Bucer died in the Calvinistical faith. Josias Simler, professor at Zurick, in an oration on the life and death of Peter Martyr, testifies that Bucer studied such expressions throughout the whole contest, as nothing certain could be concluded from, that so, pleasing both parties, he might gradually compose the difference. However, Bucer and Martyr continued good friends, and were fully persuaded of each other's ortho. doxy.
Bucer has been accused of approaching too near the papistical doctrine of the merit of good works *; but this
* The late Mr Toplady, in his Historic Proof, has defended Bucer from this imputation. See p. 363. His words are : . It has been affirni• ed, that. Bucer held the doctrine of justification by works, and believed • human obedience to be meritorious in the fight of God. "That he
was once of this opinion, is not at all wonderful, when we confider that • he was born and educated in the bosom of the Romih charch, with · whom the tenet of legal justification is a fundamental principle.
And, for a considerable time after God had called him out of papal dark
nefs, his improvements in divine knowledge were progressive. His fpi• ritual growth resembled the gradual vegetation of an oak; not the rapid • proficiency of a mushroom. Bucer seems to have exprelled himseli che • most incautiously, in the disputation at Leiplic, A. D. 1539; yet, ever? • then, he roundly declared, that“ thele GOOD WORKS, to which so “ a reward is given, ARE THEMSELVES THE GIFT OF GOD." And that
passage, which Voll: u; quotes from Bucer, falls extremely short of proving that the latter was, even at the early period in which he penned it, an affertor of justification by performances of our own. Impartiality obliges me to subjoin that celebrated paffage, which fo many Arminians and merit-mongers have since caught at, as if it