Oecolampadius, John

, a German divine, and eminent among the reformers of the church, was born in 1482, according to Dupin at Auschein in Switzerland, but others say at Weinsberg in Francouia, which is more probable, as it is only five miles from Heilbrun, where he went to school. His father intended to breed him a merchant; but, changing that resolution, devoted him to letters. He was sent first to the school of Heilbran, and thence removed to the university of Heidelberg, where he took the degree of bachelor of philosophy, at fourteen years of age. He went next to Bologna; but, the air of Italy not agreeing with him, he returned in six months to Heidelberg, and applied himself diligently to divinity. He turned over the works of Aquinas, Richard, and Gerson; but did not relish the subtleties of Scotus, and the scholastic disputations. He soon, however, acquired a reputation for learning, which, with his personal virtues, induced prince Philip, the elector Palatine, to chuse him preceptor to his youngest son: after discharging which office some time, he became tired of the gaieties of a court, and resumed his theological studies. On his return home, he was presented to a benefice in the church; but, not then thinking himself sufficiently qualified for such a charge, he quitted it, and went to Tubingen, and afterwards to Stutgard, where he improved himself in the Greek under Reuchlin, having learned Hebrew before at | Heidelberg, and after this ventured to take possession of hte living.

He was afterwards invited to Basil in 1515, where his 6 erudition procured him so high a reputation, that they honoured him with the degree of D. D. About the same time Erasmus came to Basil to publish his annotations on the New Testament, and confesses that he profited by the assistance of Oecolampadius, who, when Erasmus’s work was finished, went to Augsburgh, but did not remain there long, for having conceived a favourable opinion of the reformation, partly to avoid the necessity of declaring his sentiments before they should be fully matured, and partly from theTlove of retirement and study, in 1520, when he was thirty-eight years old, he entered into a convent near Augsbourg. Here, in the first instance, he stipulated with the brethren to have liberty both for his faith and studies, and then informed Erasmus of his change of life. Erasmus, in his reply, wished his new situation might be answerable to his hopes, but was afraid he would find himself disappointed; and such indeed proved to be the case, when Oecolampadius began to speak his sentiments with freedom. He had not been there long, before he wrote a letter to a friend, in which he says, “I will now speak my mind freely of Martin (Luther), as I have often done before. I am so fully persuaded of the truth of several of his doctrines, that I should not be driven from my opinion, even though an angel of heaven should contradict it.” He proceeded even to publish a book on “Confession,” containing such doctrines as were not well relished by his fraternity; and he had not been among them much more than a year, when the stipulated liberty was denied him. Upon this, he quitted the convent *, and arrived safe at Basil m 1522.

Here he translated “St. Chrysostom’s Commentaries upon Genesis” into Latin, and was made professor of divinity and city-preacher by the council; by whose consent he began the execution of his trust, with abolishing several usages of the Roman church. In particular, he commanded the sacrament of baptism to be administered in the mother-tongue, and that of the Lord’s supper to be


Capito tells us, that his book of “Confession” gave particular offence to Glassio, a Franciscan, and chaplain to the emperor Charles V. who brought him into great danger and upon that account, at the solicitation of his friends, and by the consent of his fraternity, he departed in safety.

| received in both kinds, He taught that the mass was not a sacrifice for the living and the dead, or for those who were in purgatory, hut that perfect satisfaction was made for all believers by the passion and merits of Christ. He dissuaded them from the use of holy water, and other superstitious observances, and was thus employed when the dispute about the Eucharist commenced between Luther and Zuinglius. In that controversy, he strenuously defended the opinion of the lat.ter, in a piece entitled, “De vero intellectu verborum Domini, Hoc est corpus meum,” which did him great honour. But although he agreed with Zuinglius in the nature of the doctrine, he gave a different sense of our Lord’s words. Zuinglius placed the figure of these words, “This is my body,” in the verb is, which he held to be taken for signifies. Oecolampadius laid it upon the noun, body, and affirmed that the bread is called, the body, by a metonymy, which allows the name of the thing signified to be given to the sign. Such were the arguments by which transubstantiation was combated at that distant period. The Lutherans in Suabia and Bavaria, decried the doctrine of Oecolampadius in their sermons, which obliged him to dedicate a treatise upon the words of the institution of the Lord’s supper to them, printed at Strasburg in 1525. Whether this was a different work from the “De vero, &c.” or only a new edition, does not appear, as his biographers have not affixed dates to all hispublications. Erasmus, however, speaking of this book, says, “That it was written with so much skill, such good reasoning, and persuasive eloquence, that, if God should not interpose, even the elect might be seduced by it.” As soon as it appeared, the magistrates of Basil consulted two divines and two lawyers, to know whether the public sale of it might be permitted. Erasmus, who was one of these divines, says, “That, in giving his answer upon the point, he made no invectives against Oecolampadius” and so the book was allowed to be sold. The matter, however, did not rest so. The Lutherans answered our author’s book in another, entitled “Syngrarnma;” to which he replied in apiece called “Antisyngramnra.” In proceeding, he disputed publicly with Eckius at Baden, and entered also into another dispute afterwards at Berne.

In 1528 he entered into the matrimonial state, and the same year entirely finished the reformation of the church at Basil ) as he did also, jointly with others, that of Ulm. In | 1529, he assisted in the conference at Marspurg; and, returning thence to Basil, fell sick, and died, December 1, 1531, aged 49. His disorder was the plague; and, from the moment he was seized, he shewed sentiments of solid and consistent piety, in the presence of many ministers, who attended him at his dissolution. He was interred in the cathedral of Basil, where there is a monument to his memory. He died in poor circumstances, leaving a son and two daughters. His wife, who had been the widow of Cellarius, according to Hoffman’s account, was afterwards married to Wolfgangus Capito, and to Martin Bucer, all men of great eminence.

His writings evince a vast compass of learning. Among the principal are, “Annotations on many books of the Holy Scriptures.” His controversial treatises “on the real presence.” An exhortation to the reading of God’s word.“” Of the dignity of the Eucharist.’ 1 “Of the joy of the Resurrection.” “A speech to the Senate of Basil.” t A Catechism.“” Annotations on Chrysostom.“” Enchiridion to the Greek tongue.“” Of Alms-deeds.“”Against Julian the Apostate.“” Of tnle faith in Christ.“”Of the praises of Cyprian.“” Of the life of Moses.“”Against usury" with many controversies against the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anabaptists, who appeared in his time under Stork and Muncer, and created not only a controversy, but a rebellion attended with desolation and bloodshed. He published also a great many translations from the Fathers; and his own works, originally in Latin, were translated by his friends into German. He left several manuscripts behind him, which are probably in some of the German libraries. His exposition of Daniel, and two or three small tracts, were translated into English in the sixteenth century. He appears to have been held in high estimation even by some of his adversaries, as he had the proper temper as well as the abilities and zeal of a reformer. 1