Ulrich Zwingli Part 1 -- By: Edward Ulback

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:372 (Oct 1936)
Article: Ulrich Zwingli Part 1
Author: Edward Ulback


Ulrich Zwingli
Part 1

Edward Ulback

Member of the Archeological Institute of America.

It is of no small moment to the knowledge of any important epoch, that we should be thoroughly acquainted with the lives of the principal actors on the scene. Great and energetic men give an impulse to the events of their times; and this was especially true in the case of Zwingli. Yet although he commenced preaching the Gospel at so early a period as to make it doubtful whether he or Luther sounded the first note of war against Rome-although his views on the sacraments, and other most important subjects, are identical with those held by a vast body amongst ourselves-and although the town of Zurich, of which he was pastor, became united to the English Reformers by closer ties than any other city on the continent of Europe, we believe that the facts of Zwingli’s life are very little known in this country, as compared with the fame of Martin Luther.

Zwingli was born at Wildhaus, in the valley of Toggenburg, on the first of January, 1484. His father was magistrate of the village; his mother, Margaritha Meili, came of an honorable family. Eight sons and two daughters sprang from this worthy pair, of whom Ulrich was the third in order of birth. The house of Zwingli was in good repute amongst its neighbors, and to their free election Zwingli senior owed his magisterial rank; whilst two uncles, whose kindness greatly influenced our hero’s future career, were respectively dean of Wesen and abbot of Fischingen, in the Canton Thurgau.

The little village of Wildhaus lies high beneath the summit of the snow-clad Alps. In the summer season its inhabitants drive their cattle to the loftiest regions, and, leaving them under the charge of a few attendants, hasten to gather in their scanty harvest. In the winter, round the blazing log fire, they recount the perils borne in defense of their freedom, or while away the long dark hours with the strains of rustic music. Such was the mode nearly four hundred years ago, such is their habit at the present day. The effects of such an early training may be traced in Zwingli’s career. We are told that when he heard how their liberty had been won against the hosts of Charles the Bold, the young child eagerly seized a weapon, and vowed to fight for home and freedom; we know that he never showed any lack of boldness; that his heaviest cares in future life were soothed by his great musical skill; and we may readily believe that, as he owed these traits to his early associations, so also (as Oswald Myconius writes), from those sublime mountain heights, which stretch upwards towards heaven, he took something heavenly and divine. Certain it is, that at an early age the boy showed a grea...

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