Bucer, Martin

, an eminent German reformer, was born in 1491, at Schelestadt, a town of Alsace. At the age of seven he took the religious habit in the order of St. Dominic, and with the leave of the prior of his convent, went to -Heidelberg to learn logic and philosophy. Having applied himself afterwards to divinity, he made it his endeavour to acquire a thorough knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew. About this time some of Erasmus’s pieces came abroad, which he read with great avidity, and meeting afterwards with certain tracts of Luther, and | comparing the doctrine there delivered with the sacred scriptures, he began to entertain doubts concerning several things in the popish religion. His uncommon learning and his eloquence, which was assisted by a strong and musical voice, and his free censure of the vices of the times, recommended him to Frederick elector palatine, who made him one of his chaplains. After some conferences with Luther, at Heidelberg, in 1521, he adopted most of his religious notions, particularly those with regard to justification. However, in 1532, he gave the preference to the sentiments of Zuinglius, but used his utmost endeavours to re-unite the two parties, who both opposed the Romish religion. He is looked upon as one of the first authors of the reformation at Strasburg, where he taught divinity for twenty years, and was one of the ministers of the town. He assisted at many conferences concerning religion; and in 1548, was sent for to Augsburg to sign that agreement betwixt the Protestants and Papists, which was called the Interim. His warm opposition to this project exposed him to many difficulties and harships; the news of which reaching England, where his fame had already arrived, Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, g av e him an invitation to come over, which he readily accepted. In 1549 an handsome apartment was assigned him in the university of Cambridge, and a salary to teach theology. King Edward VI. had the greatest regard for him; being told that he was very sensible of the cold of this climate, and suffered much for want of a German stove, he sent him an hundred crowns to purchase one. He died of a complication of disorders, in 1551, and was buried at Cambridge, in St. Mary’s church, with great funeral pomp. Five years after, in the reign of queen Mary, his body was dug up and publicly burnt, and his tomb demolished; but it was afterwards set up again by order of queen Elizabeth. He married a nun, by whom he had thirteen children. This woman dying of the plague, he married another, and, according to some, upon her death, he took a third wife. His character is thus given by Burnet: “Martin Bucer was a very learned, judicious, pious, and moderate person. Perhaps he was inferior to none of all the reformers for learning; but for zeal, for true piety, and a most tender care of preserving unity among the foreign churches, Melancthon and he, without any injury done to the rest, may be ranked apart by themselves. He | was much opposed by the Popish party at Cambridge; who, though they complied with the law, and so kept their places, yet, either in the way of argument, as if it had been for dispute’s sake, or in such points as were not determined, set themselves much to lessen his esteem. Nor was he furnished naturally with that quickness that is necessary for a disputant, from which they studied to draw advantages; and therefore Peter Martyr wrote to him to avoid all public disputes.” His writings were in Latin and in German? and so numerous, that it is computed they would form eight or nine folio volumes. His anxiety to reconcile the Lutherans and Zuinglians led him to use many general and perhaps ambiguous expressions in his writings. He seems to have thought Luther’s notion of the sacrament too strong, and that of Zuinglius too weak. Verheiclen in Latin, and Lupton in English, have given a list of his works, but without size or dates. 1


Melchior Adam in vitis Theologorum. Batesii Vitae, p. 250. —Strype’s Life of sir John Cheke. Gen. Dict. —Mosheim and Milner. Verheiden’s Effigies. Lupton’s Lives. Fuller’s Abel Redivivus. Burnet’s Hist, of the Reformation, and —Strype’s Lives of the Archbishops, Annals and Memorials. Several Mss. respecting him are in the library of C. C. College, Cambridge, the British Museum, &c.