Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/180

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Bucer
Bucer
174

towards Luther, but as yet no sounds except of ire came from Wittenberg. Meanwhile, Strassburg consummated her revolt from Rome by the abolition of the mass (20 Feb. 1529; see ‘Reds me and he nott Wrothe,’ by Roy and Barlow, Arber's English Reprints, 1871, where 'Butzer’ is mentioned among the chief adversaries of the mass). Bucer's activity was of great service in liturgical reform, not only at Strassburg, but also at numerous places in Suahia and Hesse.

The position of affairs in 1529 was so full of danger for the estates, including Strassburg, which had protested at Speier, that a close cohesion among them seemed imperative ; this, however, it seemed clear to Phiilip of Hesse, Jacob Sturm, and others, must be preceded by a theological agreement, the promotion of which now became the main object of Bucer’s endeavours. In these he was greatly aided by Œcolampadius. Bucer’s own views were substantially Zwinglian, but his plan was if possible to formulate the cardinal doctrine of the eucharist after a fashion which, without offending against the laws of logic, might prove acceptable to both Luther and Zwingli. At last the conference was brought about which opened at Marburg in 1529 between Luther and Zwingli, with Buccr and others intervening (1 and 3 Oct. 1529). Notwithstanding Bucer's efforts and concessions (Luther is said to have welcomed him with the humorous reproach ‘tu es nequam’), the one subject on which no agreement was arrived at was the crucial subject of the eucharist. Probably, however, some impression in favour of union had been made on Melanchthon; and, at all events, Bucer was more than ever marked out as the man most likely to conduct further negotiations to a successful issue. That he could hold his own when he chose is shown by his celebrated ‘Apologetic Letter' published shortly afterwards (1630), in answer to Erasmus. Bucer was concerned` in the drawing up of the ‘Confessio Tetiapolitana' presented at the diet of Augsburg in July 1530 by Strassburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, which diilered most essentially from the ‘ Augustana ' in the article on the eucharist, though goingasfar as possible in the Lutheran direction (when he published it after an intentional delay, in August 1531, he accompanied it by a most conciliatoi ‘Apology’). An interview with Melanchthon, followed by a letter to Luther, having led to no result, Bucer on 25 Sept. 1530 courageously presented himself in person before uther at Coburg, and had the satisfaction of bringing him to express a distinct hope of reconciliation with the ‘sacramentarians,’ or, at all events, with the Strassburgers. Henceforth his plan of action was so to put the desired agreement that Luther might appear to have yielded nothing (cf. Köstlin, ii. 248-9). Soon afterwards Bucer journeyed in the interest of union through a series of towns in the southwest of Germany and in Switzerland, from which he returned to Strassburg in October. Here we find him seeking to facilitate a union with the Waldensian communities, but his more important scheme still remained unaccomplished. While the Wittenbergers were now hoping through him to detach the South German towns from the Swiss, the Zürichers, with the men of Bern and Constance, and even his own Strassburgers, began to suspect his intentions. Among other things which helped to hamper his endeavours was the publication at Hagenan in Alsace of Servetus's book about the Trinity (1531), which, after he had in vain attempted to suppress its circulation, and after Servetus had left Strassburg, Bucer censured in a confutation supposed to be still extant (Tollin, 236). His efforts for union were by no means furthered by the death of Zwingli at Cappel (October 1531), but an almost heavier blow for him was the death of Œcolampadius (November), although he thereby became the acknowledged head of the South German divines. At Strassburg he now presided over the weeldy clerical board ofthe ‘servants of the Word.' He used his authority to induce the Strassburgers at a meeting of the protestant estates held at Schweinfurt (April 1532) to subscribe the Augustana without abandoning the Tetrapolitana, and to accept the articles of agreement drawn up by him, with a proviso safeguarding the maintenance of their simple ritual for ten years. This step was very ill received in Switzerland and elsewhere, and he was left with few supporters of his union polio while at this very time he was blamed at Sltrassburg for drawing too tight the reins of ecclesiastical discipline against the ‘prophets.' He succeeded, however, both in introducing during another tour a considerable measure of uniformity amongst the South German and Swiss churches, and at home in bringin about the establishment of an ecclesiastical constitution through a synod (1533) which may have averted from Strassburg the fate of Münster. The errors of the church there was one among the many subjects which about this time employed his pen. The continuation of his lectures on the New Testament (published in their first edition, 1530, and second, 1636), with Capito's on the Old, was the beginning of systematic courses of higher instruction which afterwards developed into the university of Strass-