After the productive period of the Zwinglian Reformation, which embraced fifteen years, from 1516 to 1531, followed the period of preservation and consolidation under difficult circumstances. It required a man of firm faith, courage, moderation, patience, and endurance. Such a man was providentially equipped in the person of Heinrich Bullinger, the pupil, friend, and successor of Zwingli, and second Antistes of Zuerich. He proved that the Reformation was a work of God, and, therefore, survived the apparent defeat at Cappel.
He was born July 18, 1504, at Bremgarten in Aargau, the youngest of five sons of Dean Bullinger, who lived, like many priests of those days, in illegitimate, yet tolerated, wedlock.1 The father resisted the sale of indulgences by Samson in 1518, and confessed, in his advanced age, from the pulpit, the doctrines of the Reformation (1529). In consequence of this act he lost his place. Young Henry was educated in the school of the Brethren of the Common Life at Emmerich, and in the University of Cologne. He studied scholastic and patristic theology. Luther’s writings and Melanchthon’s Loci led him to the study of the Bible and prepared him for a change.
He returned to Switzerland as Master of Arts, taught a school in the Cistercian Convent at Cappel from 1523 to 1529, and reformed the convent in agreement with the abbot, Wolfgang Joner. During that time he became acquainted with Zwingli, attended the Conference with the Anabaptists at Zuerich, 1525, and the disputation at Bern, 1528. He married Anna Adlischweiler, a former nun, in 1529, who proved to be an excellent wife and helpmate. He accepted a call to Bremgarten as successor of his father.
After the disaster at Cappel, he removed to Zuerich, and was unanimously elected by the Council and the citizens preacher of the Great Minster, Dec. 9, 1531. It was rumored that Zwingli himself, in the presentiment of his death, had designated him as his successor. No better man could have been selected. It was of vital importance for the Swiss churches that the place of the Reformer should be filled by a man of the same spirit, but of greater moderation and self-restraint*
*History of the Christian church (Vol. 8, pp. 205–206).