The disputation at Berne lasted nineteen days (from Jan. 6 to 26). It was the Protestant counterpart of the disputation at Baden in composition, arrangements and result. It had the same effect for Berne as the disputations of 1523 had for Zurich. The invitations were general; but the Roman Catholic cantons and the four bishops who were invited refused, with the exception of the bishop of Lausanne, to send delegates, deeming the disputation of Baden final.
Dr. Eck, afraid to lose his fresh laurels, was unwilling, as he said, “to follow the heretics into their nooks and corners”; but he severely attacked the proceedings. The Reformed party was strongly represented by delegates from Zurich, Basel, and St. Gall, and several cities of South Germany. Zurich sent about one hundred ministers and laymen, with a strong protection.
The chief speakers on the Reformed side were Zwingli, Haller, Kolb, Oecolampadius, Capito, and Bucer from Strassburg; on the Roman side, Grab, Huter, Treger, Christen, and Burgauer. Joachim von Watt of St. Gall presided. Popular sermons were preached during the disputation by Blaurer of Constance, Zwingli, Bucer, Oecolampadius, Megander, and others.
The Reformers carried an easy and complete victory, and reversed the decision of Baden. The ten Theses or Conclusions, drawn up by Haller and revised by Zwingli, were fully discussed, and adopted as a sort of confession of faith for the Reformed Church of Berne. They are as follows:
1. The holy Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, and abides in the same, and listens not to the voice of a stranger.
2. The Church of Christ makes no laws and commandments without the Word of God. Hence human traditions are no more binding on us than as far as they are founded in the Word of God.
3. Christ is the only wisdom, righteousness, redemption, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Hence it is a denial of Christ when we confess another ground of salvation and satisfaction.
4. The essential and corporal presence of the body and blood of Christ cannot be demonstrated from the Holy Scripture.
5. The mass as now in use, in which Christ is offered to God the Father for the sins of the living and the dead, is contrary to the Scripture, a blasphemy against the most holy sacrifice, passion, and death of Christ, and on account of its abuses an abomination before God.
6. As Christ alone died for us, so he is also to be adored as the only Mediator and Advocate between God the Father and the believers. Therefore it is contrary to the Word of God to propose and invoke other mediators.
7. Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life. Hence all masses and other offices for the dead are useless.
8. The worship of images is contrary to Scripture. Therefore images should be abolished when they are set up as objects of adoration.
9. Matrimony is not forbidden in the Scripture to any class of men; but fornication and unchastity are forbidden to all.
10. Since, according to the Scripture, an open fornicator must be excommunicated, it follows that unchastity and impure celibacy are more pernicious to the clergy than to any other class.
All to the glory of God and his holy Word.
Zwingli preached twice during the disputation. He was in excellent spirits, and at the height of his fame and public usefulness. In the first sermon he explained the Apostles’ Creed, mixing in some Greek and Hebrew words for his theological hearers. In the second, he exhorted the Bernese to persevere after the example of Moses and the heroes of faith.
Perseverance alone can complete the triumph. (Ferendo vincitur fortuna.) Behold these idols conquered, mute, and scattered before you. The gold you spent upon them must henceforth be devoted to the good of the living images of God in their poverty.
“Hold fast,” he said in conclusion, “to the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. You know how much we have suffered in our conscience, how we were directed from one false comfort to another, from one commandment to another which only burdened our conscience and gave us no rest. But now ye have found freedom and peace in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. From this freedom let nothing separate you. To hold it fast requires great fortitude. You know how our ancestors, thanks to God, have fought for our bodily liberty; let us still more zealously guard our spiritual liberty; not doubting that God, who has enlightened and drawn you, will in due time also draw our dear neighbors and fellow-confederates to him, so that we may live together in true friendship. May God, who created and redeemed us all, grant this to us and to them. Amen.”
There’s a good deal of material in Zwingli’s Works related to the Berne Disputation. Those are found in vol. VI/1 of ZW.
Read that. It’ll give you some food for thought.