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Decades of Henry Bullinger, Minister of the Church of Zurich (Volume 1 & 2) online

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Henry Bullinger


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Advertisement ........ vii

The Preface 3

Of the Four General Synods or Councils .... 12

The First Decade.

The First Sermon ....... 36

The Second Sermon ...... 57

The Thii-d Sermon 70

The Fourth Sermon ...... 81

The Fifth Sermon 97

The Sixth Sermon . . . . . . 104

The Seventh Sermon . . . . . .122

The Eighth Sermon 140

The Ninth Sermon ...... 157

The Tenth Sermon 180

The Second Decade.

The First Sermon 193

The Second Sermon ...... 209

The Third Sermon ....... 237

The Fourth Sermon ...... 263

The Fifth Sermon 267

The Sixth Sennon ...... 208

The Seventh Sermon .... . . 323

The Eighth Sermon ...... 345

The Ninth Sermon 370

The Tenth Sermon ... . . 393

Errata and Addenda .... 436


One of the Parker Society ""s objects, as stated in the
first of its Laws, is " the printing, as may appear desirable,
of some of the Early EngUsh translations of the Foreign
Reformers." Accordingly, the re-publishing of the English
Version of the Decades of Bullinger was announced, as in
the contemplation of the Council of the Society, in a List
which was appended to the Second Annual Report ; and the
first volume is now, at length, presented to the subscribers.
The edition, which is here reprinted, is that of 1587, which
scarcely differs at all, in any material respects, from the
former edition of 1584, and very little from that of 1577 ;
but any important variations between the translation and the
original Latin are carefully specified in the notes. The Ver-
sion was made, as stated in the title-page, "by H. I. Student
in Divinitie," — " a person," according to Strype's testimony,
"of eminency in the Church ^"

These Decades, it is conceived, possess a peculiar claim
on the regard of the members of the Church of England.
For not only was Bullinger " well-deserving of this nation for
his kind entertainment and harbour of our divines and scho-
lars that fled abroad in Queen Mary's reign, and of note
for that friendship and correspondence ever after maintained
between him and them^;" but several of his writings, as they
became known here, were eminently appreciated by our theo-
logians and religious persons of the era of the Reformation^.

1 Strype, Ann. book ii. chap. 10, p. 145, Vol. ii. part 2. ed. Oxf.

2 Strype, Ann. ibid. p. 144. See also Strype, Mem. ii. 1, pp.
531, 532, and Zurich Letters, Parker Soc. ed. pp. 41, 111, 127, 205,
&c. 2nd ed.

3 See Original Letters, Parker Soc. ed. pp. 5, 9, 54, 70, 618,
620, &c. Zurich Letters, 2nd ed. pp. 39, 110, 205, 468. Strype, Ann.
chap. 21, p. 383, Vol. i. part 1, and part 2. chap. 46, p. 195, and
chap. 48, p. 221. Jewel styled Bullinger, " oraculum ecclesiarum."
Zurich Letters, No. Lxx. 1st series, p. 156. The University of Oxford,
also, selected BuUinger's Catechism, as one of those books which the
Tutors there were required to use, for the purpose of impai'ting sound
religious principles to their pupils : — " ad informundum in vera reli-



And, above all, in the Convocation of the province of Canter-
bury, held in 1586, among the " Orders for the better increase
of learning in the inferior Ministers," introduced by Whitgift,
Archbishop of Canterbury, the following direction stands fore-
most : — " Every minister having cure, and being under the
degrees of master of arts, and batchelors of law, and not
licensed to be a public preacher, shall before the second day
of February next provide a Bible, and Bullinger's Decads in
Latin or English, and a paper book, and shall every day read
over one chapter of the Holy Scriptures, and note the prin-
cipal contentes thereof briefly in his paper booke, and shall
every weeke read over one Sermon in the said Decads, and
note likewise the chief matters therein contained in the said
paper ; and shall once in every quarter (viz. within a fort-
night before or after the end of the quarter) shewe his said
note to some preacher nere adjoyninge to be assigned for that
purpose^." And, agreebly with this order, it is recorded
by Strype, Dr. Theophilus Aylmer, Archdeacon of London,
acted in his visitation in the early part of the year 1587, —
" the Bishop's pious and painful son^."

Although a Memoir of BuUinger (together with indexes to
the whole work) will be given in the last volume, it may be
useful here to state briefly, that he was born at Bremgarten,
near Zurich, on July 18, 1504 ; commenced his studies at
the University of Cologne in 1519; began to unite himself to
the divines of the Reformation in the course of 1524 ; was
chosen pastor of Zurich, on the decease of GEcolampadius, in
the close of 1531 ; dedicated to Rodolph Gualter and. others
his first volume of the Decades, March 1, 1549 ; ^Jid died
September 17, 1575, in the 71st year of his age^.

N. B. The editing of these Decades having been com-
menced by the Rev. Steuart A. Pears, the notes which
have the initial (P) affixed to them, are due to his research.

gione juventutem." Wood. Hist, et Ant. Univ. Oxon. Lib. i. p. 29(5.
•luoted in Preface, p. iv. to " Sermons on the Sacraments by Henry
BuUinger." Cambridge, 1840.

1 Cardwell's Synodalia, Vol. ii. p. 562. Oxf. 1842. Strype's
Whitgift, Vol. ni. p. 194. App. No. 32. Oxf. ed.

2 Strype's Aylmer, p. 83. Oxf. ed.

3 See Adami V'it. Germ. Theol. in vita BuUiugeri ; and "Bullinger,"
in Chalmers' Biograph. Diet.







■p T p rp T -p



chiefe and principall points of Christian Religi-
on, written in three severall Tomes or Sections,
by Henrie Bvllinger Minister
of the Church q/" Tygvre in



Author concerning the Apparell of

Ministers and other indiffe-
rent things.


Table verie fruitfull and ne-

Translated out of Latine into English, by

H. I. Student in Diuinitie.


This is my belotied Sonne in whom I am well pleased : Heare him.

Imprinted at London by Ralph Newberie, dwelling
in Fleete street a little aboue the Conduit,

Cum gratia ^ priuilegio Regice Maiestatis.

15 87.

\} N.B. Notwithstanding what is here stated, the edition of 1587
has not this Table prefixed to it.]





That just cause there is that all spiritual shepherds, and
specially these of our time, should see carefully to the feeding
of the flocks committed to their charge, may easily appear to
him that shall but a little stay his consideration upon this
matter. For first, the commandments of the Almighty touch-
ing this thing are very earnest, the authority of which should
greatly enforce. Secondly, the rewards which he proposeth
to vigilant and careful pastors are large and bountiful, the
sweetness of which should much allure. Thirdly, the plagues
and heavy judgments, which he denounceth against slothful
and careless shepherds, are grievous and importable ^ the
terror whereof should make afraid. Then the nature and
condition of the sheep over whom they watch, the vigilancy
of the wolf against whom they watch, the conscience in taking
the fleece for which they watch, and this time and age
wherein they watch, being rightly considered, will give them
to understand sufficiently, that they have good occasion to

How earnestly God commandeth, appeareth, Esay Iviii.
where he saitli, " Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice hke
a trumpet, shew my people their transgressions, and the isai. iviii.
house of Jacob their sins." And Esay Ixii. " I have set
watchmen upon thy walls, O Hicrusalem, wliich all the day isai. ixu.
and all the night continually shall not cease : ye that are
mindful of the Lord, keep not silence." And John xxi. "Feed
my lambs, feed my sheep, and if ye love me, feed." And John xxi.
2 Tim. iv. " Preach the word : be instant in season, out of
season, improve ^ rebuke, exhort, &c." How sweetly with2Tim. iv.
rewards he allureth, doth appear in the xii. of Daniel : " They
that bo wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, Dan xii.

[^ i.e. unsupportable : " importable power." — Sponser. P.]
[2 i. e. reprove.]



and they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the
stars for ever and ever." And 1 Tim, iv. " Take heed to
thyself and to doctrine ; in them occupy thyself continually.
For in so doing thou shalt save thyself and them which hear
thee." How fiercely also he urgeth and driveth on the
sluggish and careless shepherds with terrible plagues and
whips threatened unto them, appeareth, Ezechiel iii., where
he saith, " Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto
the house of Israel : therefore hear the word of my mouth,
and give them warning from me : when I shall say unto the
wicked, thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warn-
ing, nor speakest to admonish the wicked of his wicked way
that he may live ; the same wicked man shall die in his ini-
quity, but his blood will I require at thy hand." And
leremie i. ver. 17 : " Thou therefore, truss up thy loins, and
arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee : be not
afraid of their faces, lest I destroy thee before them." And
1 Cor. ix. ver. 16 : " Though I preach the gospel, I have
nothing to rejoice of^ ; for necessity is laid upon me, and woe
is unto me, if I preach not the gospel : for if I do it wiUingly,
I have a reward : but if I do it against my will, notwithstand-
ing the dispensation is committed unto me."

Now the sheep, whereof spiritual shepherds have under-
taken charge, are not beasts, but men : the very images of
God himself endued with overliving souls, citizens with the
saints and blessed angels, clothed with God's livery, beautified
with his cognizance and all the badges of salvation, admitted
to his table, and to no meaner dishes than the body and blood
of the undefiled Lamb Christ Jesus ; bought also and redeemed
out of the wolf's chawes^ with no less price than of that same
blood more precious than any gold or silver. Sheep also of
that nature they are, that, being carefully fed and discreetly
ordered, they prove gentle and loving towards their shepherds,
and serviceable towards the chief Shepherd Jesus Christ : but
being neglected and left to themselves, they degenerate into
bloody wolves, watching ever opportunity when they may
rent in pieces their shepherds, and all other sheep which are
not degenerated into their wolfish nature.

As for the spiritual wolf, against whom they watch, which

[1 So Tyndale's Versions, and Cranmer's Bible, 1539.]
[2 Chawcs: jaws. P.]


is Satan, "He," as the apostle Peter witnesseth, 1 Epistle, i pct. v.
cap. V. "never resteth, but as a roaring lion walketh about,
seeking ever whom he may devour." And for that cause also
is he called, Apoc. xx. ver. 2, " a dragon," which beast is Rev. xx. j^
naturally very malicious crafty, and watchful : so then, if the
spiritual shepherd must watch whiles the spiritual wolf doth
wake, he can pi-omise unto himself no one moment of security,
wherein he may be careless. ^

God by his prophet Ezechiel, cap, xxxiv. saith : " Woe Ezeu. xxxiv.
be unto the shepherds of Israel that feed themselves: should
not the shepherds feed the flocks ? Ye eat the fat, and yo
clothe you with the wool ; ye kill them that are fed, but ye
feed not the sheep." This sentence should awake the sleepy
and careless consciences of many shepherds. For as the priest
that serveth the altar is worthy to live upon the offerings,
and the soldier that ventureth is worthy his wages, and the
husbandman that toileth is worthy the harvest, and the
shepherd that feedeth the flock is worthy to be fed with
the milk, and clothed with the wool ; so, questionless, the
priest that serveth not is worthy no oiFerings, the soldier
that fighteth not is worthy no wages, the husbandman that
loitereth is worthy of weeds, and the shepherd that feedeth
not can with no good conscience require either the milk or
the fleece : but his due reward and just recompence is punish-
ment, for that through his default the sheep are hunger-
starved and destroyed of the wolf.

But let the ministers of our time well weigh the condition
and manner of the time; and then, no doubt, they shall sec
that it is high time to bestir them to the doino; of their
duties. This time succeedeth a time, wherein was extreme
famine of all spiritual food, so that the sheep of this time can
never recover themselves of that feebleness whereinto they
were brought, but by some great and extraordinary diligence.
This time succeedeth a time, wherein the multitude of wolves
and ravenous beasts was so great, and their rage and fury so
fell in every shcepfold, that the good shepherds were either
put to flight, or pitifully murdered ; so that the sheep, being
committed to wolves, did either perish, or degenerate into
wolves : so that to regenerate them again into sheep requireth
no small labour. The church in this time is like land that
hath lain, time out of mind, unmanured, uncompassed, untilled;


by reason whereof it is so out of heart, that it requireth
arms of iron and legs of brass to recover it again : or like a
ship so worn with winds and tempests, so rent with rocks, so
crackt and utterly decayed, that it seemeth a rare piece of
cunning to make her take the seas again.

No remedy, then, but the ministry of this time, if there
be any love or fear of God in them, if they would not have
all things run to ruin, if they i;egard either God, themselves,
or their brethren, must forthwith, without further delay, set
themselves to feed their flocks, to teach, to exhort, to
strengthen, to bind up, to build, to plant, to water, to set,
to graff, to leave nothing undone that appertaineth to the
feeding and fatting of the Lord's flocks, to the planting of the
Lord's paradise, tilling of the Lord's husbandry, dressing of
the Lord's vineyard, raising and rearing up of the Lord's
temple. What great want there is in many to discharge
their duties in this behalf, is very lamentable, and by some
means (as much as is possible) to be supplied and remedied,
rather than to be made a common theme and argument of
railing, which at this day many do : wherein they shew
themselves like unto those which find fault at other men's
garments, not for that they love them, or mind to give them
better, but for that they are proud of their own, and would
scornfully shame and vex other. The cause of this great
want needs not here to be disputed : but in very deed, any
man may judge how unpossible it was for so populous a king-
dom, abounding with so many several congregations, to be all
furnished with fit and able pastors ; and that, immediately after
such a general corruption and apostasy from the truth. For
unless they should have suddenly come from heaven, or been
raised up miraculously, they could not have been. For the
ancient preachers of king Edward's time, some of them died
in prison, many perished by fire, many otherwise ; many also
fled into other countries, of whom some there died, and a few
returned, which were but as an handful to furnish this whole
realm. The universities were also at the first so infected,
that many wolves and foxes crept out, who detested the mi-
nistry, and wrought the contempt of it everywhere : but very
few good shepherds came abroad ^ And whereas, since that

[^ See Zui-ich Letters, reign of Q. Elizabeth, 2nd ed. Parker Soc.
pages 24, 38, 42, 55, 61, 101, 104, 115, 427. J


time, now eighteen years, the universities being well purged,
there was good hope, that all the land should have been over-
spread and replenished with able and learned pastors ; the
devil and corrupt patrons have taken such order, that much
of that hope is cut off: for patrons now-a-days search not the
universities for a most fit pastor ; but they post up and down
the country for a most gainful chapman. He that hath the
biggest purse to pay largely, not he that hath the best gifts
to preach learnedly, is presented. The bishops bear great
blame for this matter, and they admit (say they) unworthy
men. See the craft of Satan, falsely to charge the worthiest
pillars of the church with the ruin of the church, to the end
that all church-robbers, and caterpillars of the Lord's vine-
yard, may lie unespied. There is nothing that procureth the
bishops of our time more trouble and displeasure, than that
they zealously withstand the covetousness of patrons in re-
jecting their unsufficient clerks. For it standeth them upon
of all other, that the church of God doth prosper, in the decay
and fall whereof they cannot stand, but perish. But howsoever
it Cometh to pass, certain it is, that many are far behind in
those gifts which are necessary for their function ; and small
likelihood is there yet that the church shall be served with
better, but rather with worse : for it seemeth not that patrons
hereafter will bate one penny, but rather more and more raise
the market.

The case standing thus, their labour surely is not worst
bestowed, neither do they promote the glory of God or profit
the church least, which to that end apply their endeavour,
that the ministry which now is in place may come forward,
and be better able to do their duties : I mean such as either
set forth godly and learned treatises, or expositions of the
holy scriptures, compiled by themselves in our mother tongue ;
or else such as translate the worthy works of the famous
divines of our time. Both these sorts of men, no doubt, do
much edify the godly, and do greatly help forward all those
ministers which either not at all, or very meanly, understand
the Latin tongue : so that amongst them are found many,
which, by painful industry and diligent reading of such books,
do God good service in the church ; and so might all the rest
of them do also, if sloth and worldly affairs did not hinder
them. Some of that sort complain, that Calvin's manner of


writing in his Institutions^ is over deep and profound for
them : Musculus also, in his Common Places, is very scholas-
tical ; the Commentaries of Marlorat^ upon John, of Peter
Martyr upon the Judges, of Gualter upon the small Prophets,
and other many are translated and extant^; which altogether
do handle most points of christian doctrine excellently well :
but this sort of ministers for the most part are so bare bitten
of their patrons*, that to buy them all would deeply charge
them. Therefore, questionless, no writer yet in the hands of
men can fit them better than master Bullinger in these his
Decades ; who in them amendeth much Calvin's obscurity
with singular perspicuity, and Musculus' scholastical subtlety
with great plainness and even popular facility. And all those
points of christian doctrine, which are not to be found in one,
but handled in all, Bullinger packeth up all, and that in good
order, in this one book of small quantity. And whereas
divers of the ministry which lack knowledge, and some also
which have knowledge but yet lack order, discretion, memory,
or audacity, cannot, by reason of their wants, either expound,
or exhort, or otherwise preach, but only read the order of
service ; the Decades of master Bullinger in this respect may
do more good than shall perhaps at the first be conceived.
For in very deed this book is a book of sermons ; sermons
in name, and in nature ; fit to be read out of the pulpit unto
the simplest and rudest people of this land: the doctrine of
them very plain, without ostentation, curiosity, perplexity,
vanity, or superfluity; very sound also, without popery, Ana-

[1 An English translation of this work. The Institution of the Chris-
tian Religion, appeared for the first time in 1561. See Introductory
Notice to Calvin's Institutes, ed. Calv. Soc. p. lii.]

[^ Marlorat was a Protestant minister born in Lorraine : he wrote
commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, and the New Testament, and
was executed at Rouen by order of the Duke of Guise in 1562. — Mo-
reri. P.]

[3 Cf. Zurich Letters, Second Series, Parker Soc. ed. p. 148.]

[■t " Burton similarly complained, in his odd way, that if our
greedy patrons hold us to such hard conditions as commonly they
do, they will make most of us work at some trade, as Paul did ; at
last turn taskers, maltsters, costermongers, grasiers, sell ale, as some
have done, or worse." — Anatomy of Melancholy, Preface, quoted in
Sermons on the Sacraments, by Hem-y Bullinger, Preface, p. v. note 6.
Cambridge, 1840.]


baptism, Servetianism^, or any other heresy ; and in number
fifty, every Decade containing (as the word importeth) ten ;
so that they may easily be so divided as there may be for
every Sunday in the year one. Neither is it material what
those fanatical fellows say, which can away with no homilies
or sermons, be they never so sound, pithy, and effectual, to
be read in churches. They are like physicians which forbid
their patients all those meats which they may have and would
do them good ; and appoint them only such, as by no means
they can obtain : for it will not yet be, that every parish
shall have a learned able preacher resident and abiding in it.
And in the mean time it cannot be denied, but that an homily
or sermon, penned by some excellent clerk, being read plainly,
orderly, and distinctly, doth much move the hearers, doth
teach, confirm, confute, comfort, persuade, even as the same
pronounced without the book doth.

Perhaps some hearers, which dehght more to have their
eyes fed with the preacher's action, than their hearts edified
with his sermon, are more moved with a sermon not read :
but to a good christian hearer, whose mind is most occupied
on the matter, there is small odds. Better is a good sermon
read than none at all. But nothing (say they) must be read
in the open congregation, but the very canonical scriptures^
That rule is somewhat strait and precise. Then may not
either the creed, called the Apostles' creed, or the Nicene
creed, or the creed called Athanasius' creed, or any prayers
which are not word for word contained in the canon of the
scriptures, nor any contents of chapters, be read in the con-
gregation. The church and congregation of the Colossians
were enjoined by St Paul, Col. iv. ver. 16, to read amongst
them the epistle written from Laodicea ; which epistle (as
Calvin thinketh'^) was not written by Paul, but by the church
of Laodicea, and sent to Paul, and is not contained in the
canon of the scriptures. The church of Corinth also, and
other churches of the godly, soon after the apostles' times (as

[5 Michael Servetus published his heretical work on the Trinity in
1631 ; he was burnt at Geneva in 1553. P.]

[6 See Hookci-'s Ecdes. Pol. book v. § 20,]

[■^ Falso putarunt a Paulo scriptain esse. Non dubito quin cpis-
tola fuerit ad Paulum missa. — Calvin. Comment, in loc]


appearetli out of Eusebius, Lib. iv. cap. 23 ^ and the writers
of the Centuries 2, Cent. ii. cap. 10) did use to read openly,
for admonition sake, certain epistles of Clement, and of Dio-
nysius, bishop of Corinth. Master Bucer, in his Notes upon
the Communion Book in king Edward's time, 'writeth thus :
•' It is better, that where there lacks to expound the scrip-
tures unto the people, there should be godly and learned
homilies read unto them, rather than they should have no
exhortation at all in the administration of the supper^." And
a little after he saith : " There be too few homilies, and too
few points of religion taught in them : when, therefore, the
Lord shall bless this kingdom with some excellent preachers,
let them be commanded to make more homilies of the prin-
cipal points of religion, which may be read to the people by
those pastors that cannot make better themselves^." And

Online LibraryHeinrich BullingerDecades of Henry Bullinger, Minister of the Church of Zurich (Volume 1 & 2) → online text (page 1 of 45)