The Third Day At Marburg

Day Three

The next day, Sunday, Oct. 3, [the discsussion] was renewed.

Zwingli maintained that a body could not be in different places at once. Luther quoted the Sophists (the Schoolmen) to the effect that there are different kinds of presence. The universe is a body, and yet not in a particular place.

Zwingli: Ah, you speak of the Sophists, doctor! Are you really obliged to return to the onions and fleshpots of Egypt? He then cited from Augustin, who says, “Christ is everywhere present as God; but as to his body, he is in heaven.”

Luther: You have Augustin and Fulgentius on your side, but we have all the other fathers. Augustin was young when he wrote the passage you quote, and he is obscure. We must believe the old teachers only so far as they agree with the Word of God.

Oecolampadius: We, too, build on the Word of God, not on the fathers; but we appeal to them to show that we teach no novelties.

Luther, pointing again his finger to the words on the table: This is our text: you have not yet driven us from it. We care for no other proof.

Oecolampadius: If this is the case, we had better close the discussion. The chancellor exhorted them to come to an understanding.

Luther: There is only one way to that. Let our adversaries believe as we do.

The Swiss: We cannot.

Luther: Well, then, I abandon you to God’s judgment, and pray that he will enlighten you.

Oecolampadius: We will do the same. You need it as much as we.

At this point both parties mellowed down. Luther begged pardon for his harsh words, as he was a man of flesh and blood. Zwingli begged Luther, with tearful eyes, to forgive him his harsh words, and assured him that there were no men in the world whose friendship he more desired than that of the Wittenbergers.

Jacob Sturm and Bucer spoke in behalf of Strassburg, and vindicated their orthodoxy, which had been impeached. Luther’s reply was cold, and displeased the audience. He declared to the Strassburgers, as well as the Swiss, “Your spirit is different from ours.”

The Conference was ended. A contagious disease, called the English sweat (sudor Anglicus), which attacked its victims with fever, sweat, thirst, intense pain, and exhaustion, had suddenly broken out in Marburg as in other parts of Germany, and caused frightful ravages that filled everybody with alarm. The visitors were anxious to return home. So were the fathers of the Council of Trent, when the Elector Moritz chased the Emperor through the Tyrol; and in like manner the fathers of the Vatican Council hurried across the Alps when France declared war against Germany, and left the Vatican decrees in the hands of Italian infallibilists.

But the Landgrave once more brought the guests together at his table on Sunday night, and urged upon every one the supreme importance of coming to some understanding.*

*History of the Christian church (Vol. 7, pp. 642–644).

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