Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/181

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Bucer
Bucer
175

hurg; and it was he who in 1538 brought John Sturm into the city which owed so much to his labours. Bucer's interests were not confined to Strassburg or Alsace, though nothing came of his efforts to further the design of a reformation in France, in which both he and Melanchthon were to some extent involved (Köstlin, ii. 371, 462; cf Michelet, Histoire de France (2nd ed. 1857), viii. 406-417). Nearer at home he successfully exerted himself for the institution of the church at Augsburg (1531-5).

Meanwhile, he continued intent upon his scheme of finding a basis for a formulated agreement for concordia, between the Lutherans and the South Germans and Swiss; and after holding a preliminary conference at Constance, he met Melanchthon at Cassel (Christmas 1534). Their meeting was cordial, but led to no definite result, and Bucer's labours continued at Augsburg and elsewhere. In April 1536, soon after his return from Basel, where he had aided in drawing up the enchsristic portion of the so-called First Helvetic Confession, he learned that Luther was prepared to discuss in person the question of a concordia. The meeting, which was to have taken place at Eisenach, was actually held at Wittenberg 22-29 May. The concession on the part of Bucer and his companions that the body in the eucharist is received hy the unworthy brought matters to a conclusion; Luther saluted them as his ‘dear brethren in the Lord,’ and articles drawn up by Melanchthon were signed by all (or nearly all) present. Bucer’s work was accomplished, though he well knew what bitterness was to follow, His ‘Retractatio de Cœna Domini’ was in the same year appended to the new edition of his Gospel ‘Commentaries.' The concordia was not approved at Zürich, and in February 1537 Bucer presented to Luther at Smalcald a statement of doctrine which had been drawn up at Basel. Though it is said (Baum, 518) that Luther, whom a most dangerous illness obliged to take his departure to Gotha, whither Bucer afterwards followed him, committed to the latter the general care of the poor church, in the event of his own death, is ‘Smalcald Articles' again went beyond the Wittenberg concordia, and Bucer`s work seemed nearly lost. again. A conference at Zürich in April 1538 proved to him that he had alienated the Swiss, while he only with difficulty obtained the adhesion of the South Germantowns, and all this in order that Luther in some of his last writings might inveigh more vehemently than ever against the ‘sacramentarians.' At least, however, Melanchthon's views had been materially modified, and the Calvinistic development of Zwinglian doctrine had been prepared. With Calvin himself Buoer first came into friendly contact at a synod held in Bern May 1537, and again during the stay of the former at Strassburg, 1538-41. There was much sympathy between them on the subject of church discipline. Among the German reformers Bucer now took a leading position. His signature is appended to the memorable opinion furnished by Luther and others in justification of resistance to the emperor on the question of religion (Köstlin, ii. 411). And in a similar capacity he became involved in the scandal of the Landgrave Philip of Hesse’s ‘second' marriage (March 1540), which he promoted, witnessed, and even helped to defend. A far nobler, though an intellectual work, was his share in the endeavours to bring about a reunion between the contending religions in the empire. Bucer's interview with Witzel was followed in 1540 by the meeting of princes at Hagenau, at which he and other protestant theologians attended, and of which he published an account. Another meeting at Worms was likewise broken up by the catholic side; but the most important of the series was held at Ratisbon on the occasion of the diet of 1541, where on the catholic side the legate Contarini and Julius Pflug, with Eck and Gropper, on the protestant Melanchthon, Bucer, and the Hessian Pistorius, were the leading representatives. Of this interesting and, as it seemed, not wholly fruitless meeting, Bucer likewise put forth a narrative. On his return he found the plague raging at Srassburg ; among its victims were several (three ?) of his children, his wife, and his faithful associate Capito. A twelvemonth later he married Capito's widow.

In 1541 and the following years Bucer was much occupied in assisting the archbishop-elector of Cologne (Hermann von Wied) in his attempt to introduce reformed doctrines and worship into his territories. With Melanchthon he drew up a ‘Book of Reformation’ (1543), to which Luther made objections. From this work, of whichan English version was printed in London in 1547 (see Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, ii. i. 41-4), and which itself largely borrowed from a liturgy previously established in Nürnberg and Anspach, the services of the church of England are occasionally derived. Bucer defended his proceedings in the Cologne electorate in two treatises published in 1543, but the collapse of Hermann von Wied's attempt is well known. Before the catastrophe of the Smalcaldic war Bucer attended one more conference on reunion held at Ratisbon in