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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Zell, Matthew

the earliest Reformed preacher of Strasburg, was born in 1477 at Kaisersberg, in Upper Alsace, and graduated in theology at Freiburg. In 1518 he became pastor to the cathedral of Strasburg, having already been strongly influenced by Luther's Theses, and in 1521 he took decided ground as an evangelical preacher, while engaged in the exposition of the epistle to the Romans. Some persons traduced him for his course, but others became his supporters. and even the magistracy of the city pledged themselves in his defence against the chapter. In 1523 his bishop formulated a series of charges against him, to which Zell replied with a refutation, which was at the same time a Scriptural authentication of the evangelical doctrines. In the same year two clergymen publicly renounced their allegiance to the papacy and entered into wedlock, and Zell improved the occasion by :publishing a sermon in defence of the marriage of priests. Soon afterwards he was himself married.

On December 1, 1523, the magistracy directed all preachers "to proclaim, freely and in public, to the people nothing but the Holy Gospel and the doctrines of God, and whatever may tend to the promotion of love for God and our neighbor." A few months later all the married priests were excommunicated by the bishop, but the measure proved ineffective. Zell replied with an Appellation, and the citizens continued in increasing numbers to turn away from Romanism. Zell was as liberal towards all who believed in Christ as he was firm in his own convictions. He gave hospitable entertainment to the fugitive Schwenkfet, and refused to anathematize the Swiss because of their opinions respecting the sacraments. He attached no great importance to formulated creeds, and took no part in current disputes, nor vet in Bucer's attempt at union. In 1534 he published, in the name of the Strasburg clergy, a catechism (Kurtze christliche Erbauung fur die Kinder u. Angohnden, etc.) for beginners; which seems suited rather to teachers than to children. He also wrote for the latter class an exposition of the Lord's Prayer. In 1542 he united with his colleagues in sending an opinion respecting images, etc., to the preachers of Frankfort, which decided them to be adiaphora, and which asserted the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, but in a heavenly and not bodily manner. Zell died in 1548. His widow, Catharine, was a skilful disputer, and maintained a correspondence with Schwenkfeld during many years, besides issuing a defence of her association with him. She also wrote a brave defence of her husband's memory, in 1557, against an attack made by Louis Rabus. She obtained the reputation of a pious benefactor of the afflicted, and especially of "poor scholars" and such as had fled for refuge to Strasburg on account of their religious convictions, not excluding even Anabaptists. See the biographies of Zell and his wife in Rhlirich, Mittheil. aus d. Gesck. d. Evang. Kirche d. Elsasses (Strasburg, 1855), 3:89 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Zell, Matthew'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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