The Resignation of Heinrich Bullinger

bullinger4On the 2nd of August in 1575 Heinrich Bullinger resigned his position as Pastor of the Great Minster in Zurich.  He had served the City since 1531 when Zwingli had been viciously murdered by the Catholic troops at Kappel-am-Albis (where, incidentally, Bullinger had served the Church prior to his move to Zurich).  Unfortunately, Bullinger’s ‘retirement’ was short lived.  He died the same year.

Philip Schaff writes

His last days were clouded, like those of many faithful servants of God. The excess of work and care undermined his health. In 1562 he wrote to Fabricius at Coire: “I almost sink under the load of business and care, and feel so tired that I would ask the Lord to give me rest if it were not against his will.”

The pestilence of 1564 and 1565 brought him to the brink of the grave, and deprived him of his wife, three daughters, and his brother-in-law. He bore these heavy strokes with Christian resignation. In the same two fatal years he lost his dearest friends, Calvin, Blaurer, Gessner, Froschauer, Bibliander, Fabricius, Farel. He recovered, and was allowed to spend several more years in the service of Christ. His youngest daughter, Dorothea, took faithful and tender care of his health. He felt lonely and homesick, but continued to preach and to write with the aid of pastor Lavater, his colleague and son-in-law.

He preached his last sermon on Pentecost, 1575. He assembled, Aug. 26, all the pastors of the city and professors of theology around his sick-bed, assured them of his perseverance in the true apostolic and orthodox doctrine, recited the Apostles’ Creed, and exhorted them to purity of life, harmony among themselves, and obedience to the magistrates. He warned them against intemperance, envy, and hatred, thanked them for their kindness, assured them of his love, and closed with a prayer of thanksgiving and some verses of the hymns of Prudentius. Then he took each by the hand and took leave of them with tears, as Paul did from the elders at Ephesus.

A few weeks afterwards he died, after reciting several Psalms (51, 16, and 42), the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers, peacefully, in the presence of his family, Sept. 17, 1575. He was buried in the Great Minster, at the side of his beloved wife and his dear friend, Peter Martyr. According to his wish, Rudolph Gwalter, Zwingli’s son-in-law and his [that is, Bullinger’s] adopted son, was unanimously elected his successor. Four of his successors were trained under his care and labored in his spirit.