Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 49

The Reformation in French Switzerland

In tracing the silver line of God's grace, in the operations of His Spirit, we are arrested by the different forms it takes in different countries. We have just left a land where the sky was reddened with the flames of martyrdom, and the earth soaked with the blood of God's saints. Such is the history of every land where the Inquisition was established. In Germany-and where it never gained a footing-the struggle was with the princes and the imperial power; but in Switzerland the question of retaining the Romish, or adopting the Reformed faith, was not infrequently decided by vote. This mode of determining the religion of a state strikingly illustrates the popular, or republican character of the Swiss government.

In German Switzerland, the principal Reformers-Zwingle, OEcolampadius, Bullinger, Haller, Wittenbach, and others, were natives; while the agents used of God for the conversion of French-Switzerland, with a single exception, were foreigners. William Farel, a French-man, and almost single-handed, had accomplished the overthrow of popery in several French districts, before he reached Geneva or saw John Calvin. D'Aubigné speaks of Farel as the Luther of French Switzerland, and of Calvin as the Melancthon.

This remarkable man-William Farel-was born of a wealthy and noble family at Gap, in Dauphiny, in the year 1489, and diligently instructed by his pious parents in the faithful observance of the devout practices of the Romish church. Naturally sincere, upright, full of ardour, and true to his convictions, he invoked the Virgin and the saints night and day, as he has himself related. He scrupulously conformed to the fasts prescribed by the church, held the pontiff of Rome to be a god upon earth, saw in the priests the sole channel of all celestial blessings, and treated as infidels whoever did not exhibit an ardour similar to his own.*

{*Felice, p. 18.}

The Early History of William Farel

After attending school for some time in Dauphiny, he obtained the permission of his parents to finish his education at the university of Paris-said to be the mother of all learning, the true light of the church which never knew eclipse. James Lefevre, doctor of Etaples, then the most renowned doctor of the Sorbonne, was professor of divinity. His genius, piety, and learning greatly attracted the young Dauphinese. From the centre of the Sorbonne he fearlessly proclaimed, "That true religion has but one foundation, one object, one head-Jesus Christ, blessed for evermore. Let us not," he continued, "call ourselves by St. Paul, Apollos, or St. Peter. The cross of Christ alone openeth the gates of heaven, and shutteth the gates of hell." Thus, as early as 1512, the leading doctrines of the Reformation were proclaimed in the presence of the most learned of the Sorbonnists. The university was in a ferment; some applauded, some condemned; and, daily, groups of men met, most anxious to discuss the new doctrines.

But there was one amongst the listening crowds in the lecture room, whose heart the Lord had prepared for the word of life. This was William Farel. His soul was deeply agitated when he heard that salvation comes through faith of Jesus Christ alone, and that works without faith are futile. He thought of the lessons and the habits of his home; his early associations, his tender recollections, his prayers, his hopes. But the declarations of scripture had produced convictions, both deeper and firmer. In his search after truth he studied the word of God in the original tongues, light broke in upon his mind; he saw that it was Jesus only, Jesus only. "Now," he exclaimed, "everything appears to me in a new aspect; scripture is cleared up; prophecy is opened; the apostles shed a strong light upon my soul. A voice, till now unknown, the voice of Jesus, my Shepherd, my Master, my Teacher, speaks to me with power. Instead of the murderous heart of a ravening wolf, He has given me one of meekness and quietness, so great is the change that has come over me. Now my heart is entirely withdrawn from the pope, and given to Jesus Christ."

William Farel, so far as we know, was the first person who professed the Reformed religion in France, and was converted in the university at Paris, so renowned for its Romish orthodoxy. Farel and Lefevre conceived for each other the closest friendship, which lasted through life, but we shall meet with them again, when speaking of the Reformation in France. When persecuted in Paris because of their doctrines, William Brissonnet, bishop of Meaux, a pious and pure-minded man, invited them to visit him, and preach the gospel to his people. Numbers came to hear, and when they heard the preachers pressing them to give, not their money to the church, but their hearts to Christ, the surprise and excitement of the inhabitants became extreme. The priests and monks of the diocese, seeing their credit weakening, and their revenues diminishing, aroused the demon of persecution, and the preachers had to preserve their lives by a speedy flight. Farel, on quitting Meaux, went to preach in Dauphiny. "Three of his brothers," says Felice, "shared his faith. Encouraged by this success, he went preaching from town to town, and place to place. His appeals agitating the whole country, the priests sought to excite the people against him; but he was neither of an age nor of a character to be stopped by persecution; his ardour increased with the danger. Wherever there was a place to plant his foot-on the border of the rivers, on the points of the rocks, in the bed of the torrents-he found one to preach the gospel. If he was threatened, he stood firm; if surrounded, he escaped; if thrust from one spot, he reappeared in another. At last, when he saw himself environed on all sides, he retreated by mountain paths into Switzerland, and arrived at Basle in the commencement of the year 1524."

Farel's Preaching in Switzerland

Having formed an intimate friendship with Bucer, Capito, OEcolampadius, and others, which death only interrupted, he was obliged to leave Basle on account of the hostility of the Roman Catholic clergy. He proceeded to Montbeliard, where he laboured with so much zeal and success under the protection of the duke of Ulric, that within two years, the whole principality professed the new opinions; and to this day the inhabitants in general are Protestants. At Neuchatel the opposition was so violent that he remained only a short time. Aigle was the next scene of his labours. The town at that time was under the jurisdiction of Berne, and the Bernese government, being favourable to the Reformation, sent him a patent constituting him pastor of Aigle. Thus sanctioned by the powerful government of Berne, he instantly commenced preaching, to the great consternation of the monks, and the delight of many of the people who heard him. "Though he had dropped from the clouds," says history, "the priests could not have been more affrighted, nor the people more surprised. His bold look, his burning eye, his voice of thunder, his words, rapid, eloquent, and stamped with the majesty of truth, reached the conscience, and increased the number of those in the valley of Aigle, who were already prepared to take the word of God for their guide."*

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 248.}

The priests, and the lower classes who followed them, raised a great tumult, being secretly supported by the Syndic. Farel was insulted in every way in their power, they refused to obey the Bernese in these matters, and were determined to maintain their ancient religion. Many, by this time however, had received the gospel, professed themselves one with Farel, and were ready to defend him. But to prevent the effusion of blood, to which matters were fast tending, Farel quietly withdrew, and preached the gospel in other places which were under the government of Berne. The question however, as usual, came to the vote, and Aigle had a majority in favour of Reform.

In the spring of 1531 Farel returned to Neuchatel, determined to complete his conquests there. Since his first visit the Reformed doctrines had made great progress among the people. The priests clamoured as usual and did all in their power to raise a tumult. They sounded the tocsin to rouse the magistrates and the people, as if an invading army had reached their gates. But many gathered round Farel, and forced him to ascend the pulpit of the cathedral in spite of all opposition. His sermon was so powerful, that all the people cried out at its close, "We will follow the Protestant religion both we and our children; and in it we will live and die." The priests and monks were furious, and sought the life of Farel. But the people, determined to have the matter lawfully settled, presented themselves before the governor and deputies of Berne, to vote on the question, whether Romanism or Protestantism should be the religion of Neuchatel. A majority of eighteen votes gave the victory to the Reformation. No one was compelled to abandon popery but the Reformation was legally established.

Such was the character of Farel's work in the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, at the foot of the Jura, and on the shores of its lakes. But this was no easy work in those days. Everywhere he met with violent opposition from the Catholics; and the mob, instigated by the priests, frequently raised tumults. This was an excuse for sounding the tocsin and ringing the alarm-bells, causing the inhabitants to rush from their houses to the scene of uproar. On such occasions it fared hard with Farel, and with those who helped him in his work. At Vallengin he was seized, beaten, struck with stones, forced into a chapel and asked to kneel before the images of the saints. On his refusing he was again beaten with such violence, that the stains of his blood were long to be traced on the walls of the chapel. He was then thrown into a dungeon, but afterwards released through the intercession of his friends at Neuchatel. At St. Blaise he met with similar treatment. He was so disfigured with bruises as scarcely to be recognized by his friends; but after some care and nursing at Morat, he set out for Orbe to evangelize.

On the other hand, those who had embraced the new opinions, were often in too great haste to destroy the symbols of the old religion. This practice generally assumed the character of popular vengeance. Churches were entered, altars dismantled, images broken, pictures torn down, priceless statues, precious relics, all fell before the fury of the multitudes. But there was no Inquisition in that primitive country, no Familiars amongst the simple people who were occupied in feeding their cattle on the mountains, or in cultivating corn and the vine within their fertile valleys; and no Alva, with his ruthless Spaniards, to slay, burn, and ravage. Their tumults generally ended without bloodshed, the Reformed generally being the stronger party.*

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 3, p. 496. Scott, vol. 3, p. 70. Wylie, vol. 2, p. 247.}

Farel Reaches Geneva

But Farel had Geneva before him; he was working his way to what he considered the centre of his operations. The Genevese had been contending for some time with the duke of Savoy, and their unprincipled bishop for political freedom. And in the struggle, Berthelier, Bonevard, and Levrier, names of famous memory, suffered as martyrs of liberty. Now they were to be drawn into a fresh contest, but for a higher and holier liberty.

Farel arrived in Geneva in the autumn of 1532, accompanied by Anthony Saunier, like himself a native of Dauphiny, and recommended by letters from the government of Berne. As Geneva becomes, from this time, the second centre in Reformed Christendom, we will favour the reader with an extract from the copious pen of the historian of Protestantism as to its situation and ecclesiastical condition. "There is no grander valley in Switzerland than the basin of the Rhone, whose collected floods, confined within shining shores, form the Leman. As one looks towards sunrise, he sees on his right the majestic line of the white Alps; and on his left, the picturesque and verdant Jura. The vast space which these magnificent chains enclose is variously filled in. Its grandest feature is the lake. It is blue as the sky, and motionless as a mirror. Nestling on its shores, or dotting its remoter banks, is many a beautiful villa, many a picturesque town, almost drowned in the affluent foliage of gardens and rich vines.... Above the forests of chestnuts and pine-trees soar the great peaks as finely robed as the plains, though after a different manner-not with flowers and verdure, but with glaciers and snows.

"But this fertile and lovely land, at the time we write of, was one of the strongholds of the papacy. Cathedrals, abbacies, rich convents, and famous shrines, which attracted yearly troops of pilgrims, were thickly planted throughout the valley of the Leman. These were so many fortresses, by which Rome kept the country in subjection. In each of these fortresses was placed a numerous garrison. Priests and monks swarmed like the locust.... In Geneva alone there were nine hundred priests. In the other towns and villages around the lake, and at the foot of the Jura, they were not less numerous in proportion. Cowls and shaven crowns, frocks and veils were seen everywhere. This generation of tonsured men and veiled women formed the church. And the dues they exacted of the lay population, and the processions, chants, exorcisms, and blows which they gave them in return, were styled religion."*

{*Wylie, vol. 2, p. 256.}

Such was the moral and ecclesiastical condition of Geneva when Farel and Saunier entered it. And if we add to this account of its ecclesiastical swarms, that the population at that time numbered only about twelve thousand, we may well wonder how such a ravenous host could be sustained. But a still greater wonder is, how could an evangelist, almost single-handed, venture to assail such a host, and that on their own ground-the region of darkness and wickedness? Only through faith in the living God, we answer. Doubtless Farel was a great preacher, one of the greatest in the sixteenth century. Still he required faith in the presence of God, and in the power of His Holy Spirit through the word preached.

Farel's First Preaching in Geneva

The subject of Farel's first sermon was the Holy Scriptures; he maintained that they were the only source of divine knowledge, and the only authority on earth to which the conscience of man was subjected. He denounced the traditions of the Fathers and the decrees of Councils as having no authority over the conscience in the sight of God. His second subject was the full and free forgiveness of all sin, on the ground of the work of Christ on the cross. This pardon was free to the chief of sinners, through faith in Christ; papal pardons had to be bought with money or with penance. We can imagine the burning zeal of the preacher, placing the absolute truth of God in striking contrast with the mere superstitions of the papacy, and many through grace believing.

When the canons and priests gained information of his proceedings, they were in a state of great dismay. They had heard of his desolating work in the Pays de Vaud. He was instantly arrested and carried before the council. As usual on all such occasions, it was alleged that he was an enemy to the civil government, a trumpet of sedition. Farel replied: "That he was no instrument of sedition, but only a preacher of the truth; that he was prepared to lay down his life for the divine doctrine; that the patronage of Berne was a sufficient guarantee for his honesty; that he had a right to a public and impartial trial; and that this could not be refused him without offence to God, and to the gospel, and to the lords of Berne." This last consideration had weight with the council, as Geneva was in alliance with Berne; so Farel was dismissed with an admonition to refrain from further preaching.

But the clergy were not so easily satisfied as the town council. Farel and Saunier were summoned to appear before the episcopal tribunal, under the pretext of discussing the question in dispute. And then, indeed, William Farel at least might have perished from private violence, had not two magistrates accompanied them as deputies from the council. Some of the clergy had arms concealed under their sacerdotal robes. But Farel was undaunted, notwithstanding the unbridled fury of the clergy. He demanded that his doctrines should be heard, assailed, and defended in public disputation. This was, of course, refused. Farel, then, with great boldness defended his doctrine, concluding with these words: "I have no authority but that of God, whose messenger I am." "He hath spoken blasphemy," exclaimed one of the judges, "What further need have we of witnesses? he is guilty of death. Away with him! to the Rhone! to the Rhone! Better that the wicked Lutheran die, than live and trouble the people." "Speak the words of God," Farel quickly replied, "not the words of Caiaphas!" On which all the assembly cried aloud with one voice, "Kill the Lutheran, kill him!" They closed round the two evangelists, the priests were pulling out their arms, and both must have perished, but for the interposition of the two magistrates. They were ordered forthwith to leave the city.

But it was now too late. The Reform movement was really begun, God was working and the priests were impatient to arrest the progress of His grace. Nevertheless they were allowed to manifest the spirit of their leader. When the evangelists left the episcopal tribunal, they were with difficulty preserved from the fury of a mob of women, instigated by the priests, who would have consigned the preachers, without trial or mercy, "to the Rhone;" but as the Lord would have it, at the critical moment, a military band came up which rescued the Reformers, and escorted them to their lodgings.

It was now thought by the friends of Reform, that the preaching of Farel was too powerful and his name too formidable, to begin the work in Geneva, that he should retire for a time and that some unknown name should carry on the work, now manifestly begun, in a quieter way. Farel agreed, left the place, feeling he had done so little; but he had accomplished more than he at that moment knew. Meanwhile several other preachers had arrived, but we hear only of one Froment, or Fromentius, who turned schoolmaster, seeking to introduce his doctrines to the parents through the children and by means of classes, New Testaments, and books, which he distributed. Still the Lord was working, and a number of influential people were brought to the knowledge of the truth.

Farel Returns to Geneva

In the December of 1533 Farel re-entered the gates of Geneva, determined not again to leave it till the Reformation had been consummated there. Peter Viret, of Orbe, arrived about the same time. Thus there were three of the most powerful preachers of that period in Geneva-Farel, Viret and Froment. The internal struggle had been excited afresh by the Reformers observing the Lord's supper, according to its original institution. Some of the rich and honourable of Geneva had united with them, which caused great sensation. A fierce sedition was the consequence.

But the Catholics, still the stronger party, would listen to nothing but the complete suppression of the new movement. They assembled with the deliberate purpose of perpetrating a general massacre of the Reformers. "It is affirmed," says Waddington, "that they were conducted by no fewer than five hundred armed priests; and that they were fortified by a carte blanche from the bishop, expressing his approbation of every act that, under any circumstances, they might be led to perform against the enemies of the Catholic faith." A number of women, with their aprons filled with stones helped to swell the Roman Catholic host. The tumult was allayed, however, before much mischief was done. It happened that several merchants from Friburg were in Geneva at that moment, and seeing the Catholics brandishing swords and other weapons, they boldly interfered and prevented them from carrying out their purpose. Two days afterwards an edict of peace was issued by the Council of Sixty, which rather favoured liberty of conscience. Among other things they said, "It is forbidden to preach anything that cannot be proved from Holy Writ."

But these terms of pacification lasted but a short time. In less than six weeks the Catholics broke forth again into a still ruder commotion, attended by more serious consequences. Its instigator appears to have been Canon Werali, a man of great strength, and a great warrior. It is said that he could wield his battle-axe as he could fling about his breviary. He headed the tumult, clothed in complete armour, and brandishing a two-edged sword. After nightfall rumours of war were heard in the street, the tocsin was sounded, and according to the habits of those times, most of the inhabitants rushed into the street armed; but the darkness made it difficult to distinguish between friend and foe. In the confusion, however, the great papal champion was slain, and the Catholics dispersed. Werali being a member of a noble and powerful family of the popish canton of Friburg, that state had now a plausible pretext for interfering in the troubles of Geneva by demanding the prosecution of the murderers of her citizen, and for a general intervention in favour of the established religion. Thus were the enemies of the Reformation greatly multiplied, and fresh troubles arose through the violence of the Duke of Savoy, and the treachery of the bishop.*

{*For lengthy details, see D'Aubigné's History of the Reformation in Europe, vols. 1 and 2.}

A Public Disputation

Many eyes, from all quarters, were now turned to the small town of Geneva. Clement VII. and Charles V. were anxiously watching the struggle; but God's purpose was to bless, and He overruled all these commotions for the accomplishment of His gracious object. After a great deal of menacing and remonstrance between Berne and Friburg, the grand question came to a public disputation.

On the 30th of May, 1535, the disputants met in the grand hall of the Convent de Rive. Caroli, a doctor of the Sorbonne, and Chapius, a Dominican of Geneva, appeared as the champions of the church, while one Bernard, a newly converted Franciscan, took the lead in defence of the Reformed doctrines, supported by Farel, Viret, and Froment. Eight members of council were appointed to preside, and four secretaries were to take down all that was said on both sides. The disputation lasted four weeks. Victory, as usual on such occasions, rested with the Reformers. Indeed, it was so complete that both Caroli and Chapius acknowledged themselves vanquished, and declared, in presence of the vast assembly their conversion to the Reformed faith. Multitudes professed their faith in the truth as brought forward by the Reformers and many ecclesiastics and monks followed the stream.

But Rome's resources were not yet exhausted; she had not given up hope. The anathemas of the pope, the armed priests the furious women, had all failed; but to uphold the Catholic faith a darker deed was yet to be perpetrated. It so happened at the three ministers, Farel, Viret, and Froment, lodged in the house of Bernard, which gave a favourable opportunity to cut off the three at once by poison. A woman was induced to leave Lyons, on pretence of religion, and come to Geneva She was received into the house of Bernard as a servant Shortly after she mixed her poison with the dinner prepared for the ministers. Happily, however, Froment dined elsewhere that day, and Farel, being indisposed, did not dine but Viret tasted the drugged dish, and was brought to the point of death. He recovered, but the effects of the poison remained with him till the end of his days. The wretched woman confessed the crime, but accused a canon and a priest of having bribed her to commit the offence. They denied the accusation by oath and were released, but the poor woman was executed.

The miscarriage of this and several other cruel plots of the Catholics opened the eyes of many, and tended greatly to hasten the downfall of the Romish superstition in Geneva The feeling of the public was now in favour of Reform, but the council was disposed to check, rather than to encourage the popular zeal. At length, however, after the sense of the great majority of the citizens had been ascertained, the council of Two Hundred was assembled, and the celebration of the mass was officially suspended. This decree was followed by a general edict to the effect: "That the services of God were thenceforward to be performed according to the statutes of the gospel; and that all acts of papal idolatry were to cease altogether." Ever after that day the evangelical ministers preached with perfect freedom. The monasteries were next invaded; and there were some startling revelations of the frauds by which the people had been so long and so grossly deluded, and the vast superstition upheld.

How the Monks Deceived the People

Many of these secret machinations and impostures are too vile to be transferred to our pages; but one, which is more amusing than revolting, we may quote. A number of strange lights, or small flames of fire, would sometimes be seen moving about the churchyard at night, to the utter amazement of the people. What could they be? was the question. "These," answered the priests gravely, "are souls from purgatory. They have come to excite on their behalf the compassion of their living relatives. Will fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, not freely give of their money for prayers and masses that we may not have to return to the place of torment? was their pitiful cry." The effect of this imposture was another golden harvest to the priests. But what were these livid lights and blue flames really? They were simply a number of crabs with little bits of candle stuck on their backs, the heat of which may have propelled their movements. The enlightened public, indignant at having been so long deceived, relieved the crabs of their fiery burdens, and threw them back into the cool waters of the lake.*

{*Waddington, vol. 3, p. 275. Wylie. vol. 2, p. 273.}

Thus far the triumph of the Reformation was confined to the city of Geneva. The next step was to extend it to the rural clergy. Ministers were commissioned to instruct them, and to preach the new doctrines to their congregations; and so effectual was this reasonable plan, that all the dependent villagers speedily adopted the creed of the metropolis.

The Reformation Established at Lausanne

Lausanne and its territory are also to be included among the places in which the Reformation was now established. In popish times this was a city of great importance. It was the resort of pilgrims who flocked thither to pray before the image of Our Lady, and to purchase indulgences; a traffic which added greatly to the riches of the church. This city could boast, besides its bishop, a chapter of thirty-two canons, a convent of Dominicans, and another of Franciscans, and a numerous staff of priests; but, with all the provision thus made for its religious instruction and improvement, it was sunk even below the habitual ignorance, superstition, and vice of the times. Farel's first visit to Lausanne in 1529, was unsuccessful; but the current of ecclesiastical affairs had been running strongly since then in favour of Reform; and when Viret visited the place in the spring of 1536, the effect of his preaching was so great, that some images were broken by the popular indignation, amidst the clamour of priests and canons. After various negotiations between Berne and Lausanne, a public disputation was called for by the Reformers. It lasted eight successive days, and ended much the same as the one at Geneva had done. Thus the triumph of the Reformation was also complete in Lausanne.

The two chief results which generally followed these great religious changes, and which were especially pursued by the Swiss Reformers, were the purification of morality, and the advancement of education. Being much in the spirit of Old Testament saints, the most rigid laws were enacted against gambling, against blasphemous oaths, against farces, lewd songs, dances, masquerades, and against every form of intemperance. We find the enactment of such laws immediately following the triumphs of Reform in all important places. It was particularly so at Geneva. There, the citizens struck a new coin to commemorate the foundations of their Protestantism, and adopted a new civic motto-"After darkness, light."

The Arrival of Calvin in Geneva

During the August of 1536, amongst the crowds of exiles who were daily arriving at the gates of Geneva, one presented himself, a Frenchman, a native of Picardy, young, being only in his twenty-eighth year, of slender figure, and pale face; he had come to rest for the night and depart on the morrow. This man was John Calvin. But though young, and of a modest bearing, he was not without celebrity, both as a scholar and a divine, nor untried as a friend of the Reformation. He was on his way from Rome, with the intention of fixing his permanent residence at Basle or Strasburg, but the war, which was then raging between France and the Empire compelled him to take a circuitous route by Geneva. But the energetic Farel thought that the author of the Christian Institutes was just the man for Geneva, and urged him to remain. The God of all goodness, he thought, had sent him at that critical moment.

Calvin replied that his education was yet incomplete; that he required still further instruction and application before he should be qualified for so difficult a position as the state of Geneva presented, and begged to be allowed to proceed to Basle or Strasburg. On this, Farel raised his voice as with the authority of a direct messenger from God, and said, "But I declare to you on the part of God, that if you refuse to labour here along with us at the Lord's work, His curse will be upon you; since, under the pretence of your studies, it is yourself that you are seeking, rather than Him." Calvin had hitherto thought that his proper sphere was his library, and the main instrument of work his pen; but feeling overwhelmed by so authoritative a declaration of the will of God, proceeding from so illustrious an apostle of the Reformation, he did not dare to decline the yoke of the ministry evidently imposed on him by the Lord. He gave his hand to Farel, and his heart to the work of the Lord in Geneva. "He was immediately appointed professor of theology, and soon afterwards minister of one of the principal parishes. This double occupation afforded space enough for the display of his great qualities, and opened the path to that singular influence, which he afterwards acquired, both in church and state."* Here he laboured for twenty-eight years-with the exception of a brief banishment-and became the great leader in the cause of Protestantism, and the most illustrious chief of the Reformation.

{*Waddington, vol. 3, p. 278.}

The Early History of Calvin

As the celebrated French Reformer is now established at Geneva, and will be henceforth the central figure in the great Reform movement, it will be interesting to the reader to know something of his early history. He was born at Noyon in Picardy, July 10th, 1509. His parents were of moderate fortune, but much respected by the people among whom they lived. His father, Gerard, was secretary to the bishop, and was so esteemed by the neighbouring gentry, that his son John received his early education with the children of a family of rank-the Momors.

At the age of fourteen Calvin went to Paris, and had there for his Latin tutor, in the college de la Marche, the celebrated Mathurin Cordier. One of his books is still well known in some of our schools as Cordier's Colloquies. But he was more than an eminent teacher; he was a man of true piety. Having embraced the Reformed faith, he ultimately removed to Geneva, where he continued to labour as a teacher in the public college to the end of his days. He died in 1564, about six months after his distinguished pupil, at the advanced age of eighty-five.

Calvin, having fulfilled his course under Cordier, passed in 1526 to the college of Montaigu, a seminary for the training of priests. As it was the manner of those times for very young persons to hold even high ecclesiastical offices, his father solicited, and obtained for him at the age of twelve years, the chaplaincy of la Gesine, a small church in the neighbourhood. He had his crown shaven by the bishop, and although not yet admitted into priest's orders, he became a member of the clergy.

Calvin's Conversion

It is with no small interest that we trace an intimate connection between the conversion of Calvin and the Sorbonne of Paris. Lefevre, as we have already seen, was the means of Farel's conversion. It now appears that another young man was listening to the lectures about the same time, and brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. This was Peter Robert Olivetan, born at Noyon, cousin to Calvin and a few years older. It was this same Olivetan who afterwards translated the Bible into French from Lefevre's version. When his cousin arrived in Paris, he made known to him the gospel he had embraced. The young Calvin at that time was a firm Romanist, and fortified himself against his cousin's arguments by the rigid observance of all the rites of his church.

"True religion," said Olivetan, "is not that mass of ceremonies and observances which the church imposes upon its followers, and which separates souls from Christ. O my dear cousin, leave off shouting with the papists, The fathers! The doctors! The church! and listen to the prophets and apostles. Study the scriptures." "I will have none of your new doctrines," answered Calvin, "their novelty offends me. I cannot listen to you. Do you imagine that I have been trained all my life in error? No! I will strenuously resist your attacks." Olivetan put the Bible into his hands, entreating him to study the word of God.

The Reformation at that time was agitating all the schools of learning. Masters and students occupied themselves with nothing else-some, no doubt, from mere curiosity, or to throw discredit upon the Reformers and their new doctrines but there was a general awakening of conscience, and a readiness to believe the true gospel of the grace of God. Happily for Calvin he was among the latter class. The Holy Scriptures, by the blessing of God, separated him from Roman Catholicism, as they had done his cousin Olivetan.

It is supposed that Calvin was under deep exercise of soul for more than three years-from 1523 to 1527. D'Aubigné who is the best authority on this point, says, "Yet Calvin whose mind was essentially one of observation, could not be present in the midst of the great movement going on in the world, without reflecting on truth, on error, and on himself. Oftentimes, when alone, and when the voices of men had ceased to be heard, a more powerful voice spoke to his soul, and his chamber became the theatre of struggles, as fierce as those in the cell at Erfurt. Through the same tempests, both these great Reformers reached the haven of rest." But the conversion of Calvin lacks the thrilling interest which all have found in the conversion of Luther, and chiefly from the absence of details. The letters which he wrote to his father at this time, and also those of Olivetan to his friends, have not been found. Theodore Beza, his most intimate friend, says, "Calvin having been taught the true religion by one of his relations named Peter Olivetan, and having carefully read the holy books, began to hold the teaching of the Roman church in horror, and had the intention of renouncing its communion." Here it is only the intention of leaving Rome; but his own words in after life are positive: "When I was the obstinate slave of the superstitions of popery," he says, "and it seemed impossible to drag me out of the deep mire, God by a sudden conversion subdued me, and made my heart more obedient to His word."

Thus we see the various spiritual links between the Sorbonne and the first and greatest Reformers. "Farel," says D'Aubigné, "is the pioneer of the Reformation in France and Switzerland. He rushes into the wood, hews down the giants of the forest with his axe. Calvin came after, like Melancthon, from whom he differs indeed in character, but whom he resembles in his part as theologian and organizer. These two men built up, settled, and gave laws to the territory conquered by the first two Reformers." And Beza speaks of Lefevre as the man who "boldly began the revival of the pure religion of Jesus Christ; and that from his lecture room issued many of the best men of the age and of the church."*

{*D'Aubigné's Calvin, vol. 1, chap. 7, 8. D'Aubigné's Luther, vol. 3, p. 501.}

Calvin a Student of Law

The divine light which now filled the soul of Calvin, showed him the midnight darkness of the church of Rome. That which once possessed to his mind the most dazzling splendour, the weight of antiquity, and which he believed to be the habitation of God and the very gate of heaven, was now to his newly opened eyes the temple of idols and the very gate of perdition. This we gather from the fact that he could no longer minister at her altars, and he resigned his sacred office. Happily this was with the consent of his father; and he immediately turned his attention to the study of civil law at Orleans and at Bourges. But the lessons of the law, to which he had now to listen, must have ill-suited the taste of one who had just fled from the flames of martyrdom in Paris. "It is the magistrate's duty," said his teacher, "to punish offences against religion as well as crimes against the state." "What!" he would exclaim, "shall we hang a thief who robs us of our purse, and not burn a heretic who robs us of heaven?" The effect of such a maxim on the minds of the people, when taught and amplified by the priests, would certainly destroy their sympathies, and lead them to approve of the death of heretics. Such was the teaching of Calvin and of Frenchmen at that time, and as it had an appearance of justice, and professed to be applied for the protection of the true religion, it took a firm hold of the superstitious mind, and may have left deeper traces on Calvin's own mind than he was aware of.

Calvin Gives Up the Study of Civil Law

When at Bourges Calvin seems to have abandoned the study of the law, and turned again to the church as he now saw it in the holy scriptures. He applied himself to the study of the Greek language, and also to Hebrew and Syriac, in order to the better understanding of the Old Testament, for theology was still the favorite object of his attention. He was also most willing to make known the truth to others in which he now believed and delighted. Listeners flocked around him, and the solitude he loved became impossible to him. "As for me," he says, "inasmuch as being naturally diffident and retiring, I have always preferred repose and tranquility; I began to seek for some hiding-place, and means of withdrawing myself from the world, but, so far from obtaining my wish, every retreat and every secluded spot were to me so many public schools." But he was not of those who are silent on what they believe. He preached in the secret meetings at Bourges and at Paris. Theodore Beza says "He advanced wonderfully the cause of God in many families, teaching the truth not with an affected language, to which he was always opposed, but with a depth of knowledge and so much gravity of speech, that no man heard him without being filled with admiration."

Calvin once more ventured to Paris. He had fondly hoped that France might be the sphere, and Paris the centre of his work; but the violence of the persecution compelled him to conceal both himself and his intentions. He was now about twenty-four years of age, and full of zeal and activity. One of his friends, Nicholas Cop, son of a citizen of Basle, who was first physician to the king, and rector of the university of Paris, had to deliver an oration according to custom on All Saints' Day. What an opportunity, suggested Calvin to his friend Cop, of having the gospel preached in the most public of all the pulpits of Christendom! But, Cop feeling unequal to the task of composing such an address, it was agreed that Calvin should write and that Cop should read the oration. On the 1st of November, 1533, in the midst of the learned men of Paris, the rector delivered his address to a silent and surprised audience. Calvin had forgotten to say anything about the saints, though it was "All Saints' Day," but extolled the grace of God as man's only hope of pardon and salvation through the precious sacrifice of Christ.

When the assembly rose, the storm burst forth. It was denounced as treason against the saints, and a blow struck at the very foundations of Rome. But Cop was the king's first physician and a great favourite; what was to be done? He was denounced by the Sorbonne to the parliament, and to the executioner of heretics. Cop saw his danger in time, fled to Basle, and so escaped the flames of martyrdom. Cop was gone, but his friend Calvin was suspected of being the real author of the oration. The lieutenant-criminal, the notorious John Morin, had orders to apprehend him. While sitting safely, as he thought, in his obscurity, a fellow-student rushed into his chamber, begging him to flee that instant; the sergeants were at the outer gate. Dropping from the window by means of a sheet, he escaped; and under the name of Charles Heppeville, clothed in a peasant's dress, with a garden hoe on his shoulder, he reached Angouleme, and was received into the house of the Canon Louis du Tillet, where he stayed for some time, and had a rich library at his service.

The Institutes Published

Calvin was already occupied with his great work on the christian religion, and may have collected some of his materials from Du Tillet's library. But being in peril of his life, he removed to Basle, the city of refuge for the French exiles at that time. Here he completed and published the most celebrated of all his writings, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. The work appeared in the month of August, 1535.

"This was the first theological and literary monument of the French Reformation," says Felice. "Spreading abroad in the schools, the castles of the gentry, the houses of the burghers, even the workshops of the people, the Institutes became the most powerful of preachers. Round this book the Reformers arrayed themselves as round a standard. They found in it everything-doctrine, discipline, ecclesiastical organization; and the apologist of the masters became the legislator of their children." In his dedicatory epistle to Francis I., he supplicated the king to examine the confession of faith of the Reformers, so that, beholding them to be in accordance with the Bible, he might treat them no longer as heretics. "It is your duty, sire," he says to the king, "to close neither your understanding nor your heart against so just a defence, especially when the question is of such high import, namely, how the glory of God shall be maintained on earth .... a matter worthy of your ears, worthy of your jurisdiction, worthy of your royal throne." But there is too good reason to believe that the king never deigned to read the preface to the Institutes.

Calvin was now the acknowledged leader of the French Reformation. Luther was too distant; Farel was too ardent; but Calvin had the solid character and the lively sympathies suited to the French. He paid a visit about this time to the justly celebrated Renee of France, daughter of Louis XII., and duchess of Ferrara, one of the first provinces of Italy that received the Reformation. Like her cousin, Margaret of Valois, she had embraced the true gospel, and became the patroness of the persecuted Reformers in Italy, for which she afterwards suffered severe persecution though she was the daughter of a king. This visit established a friendship which was never interrupted: we find Calvin addressing a letter to her when on his death-bed.*

{*Dr. McCrie gives many interesting details of this amiable and accomplished princess in his History of the Reformation in Italy.}

In 1536 Calvin was appointed pastor and professor at Geneva. The religious, moral, intellectual, and even political revolution he brought into that city with him, is beyond the limits of our "Short Papers." His life and labours have been often written. We will notice that which enters into the plan of this history.

Calvin soon found that it was no easy post that he was called to occupy. The people were just emerging from a state of ignorance, superstition, and immorality, in which the city had been sunk for ages; and the corruption of her "nine hundred" priests, had no doubt produced its own likeness in the manners of the citizens. But all laxity of morals, and all amusements which had that tendency, were sharply and sternly rebuked by Calvin and Farel both publicly and privately. They were not only the avowed enemies of the least vestige of popery, but they were strict disciplinarians. The majority of the people were not yet prepared for such self-denial. They had fought hard to cast off the yoke of Rome and the yoke of the Duke of Savoy, and they were determined to resist what they thought the hardest yoke of all-to give up all their pleasures and live according to a rigid ecclesiastical discipline. Even many of those who had outwardly embraced the Reformation doctrines were not in heart prepared for Calvin's system. His idea was to treat the state as a theocracy and compel the citizens to conform to the law of God, under the threatened judgments of the Old Testament.

Calvin and Farel Banished from Geneva

The Reformed ministers, as might have been expected, were soon involved in stormy contests with their congregations. They were evidently mistaken in seeking to bind a people, who had been accustomed to live according to their own pleasure, to so rigid a system, without sufficient moral training and preparation of heart by the grace of God. Immediately after his settlement at Geneva, Calvin drew up a "Formulary of Christian Doctrine and Discipline," and set himself with the other ministers to induce the citizens at large, in their popular assembly, to abjure popery, and swear to observe the scheme of doctrine and order thus prepared for them. Many objecting to do this, troubles arose, party spirit began to run high; but as the ministers were unyielding, it resulted in their refusing to celebrate the Lord's supper among the people; and the citizens, on their part, resolved to banish the ministers, and forbade them the use of their pulpits.

In the year 1538, the two banished ministers, with sad hearts, left the city on which they had bestowed much labour; but, as they have not informed us, we will not conjecture their feelings as they turned their backs upon Geneva. Farel went to Neufchatel, where he had formerly laboured, and where he remained till the end of his days. He there succeeded in establishing the system of discipline which was opposed in Geneva; and sought to serve the Lord and His church with all diligence till the year 1565, when he fell asleep in Jesus at the advanced age of seventy-six.

Calvin at Strasburg — His Work and Marriage

Calvin proceeded to Basle and thence to Strasburg, to which he had been earnestly invited by the pastors of that city, Bucer and Capitol. He was immediately appointed a professor of divinity, and pastor of a congregation composed of French refugees. Nothing could speak more solemnly of the fierceness of the persecution which was at that time raging in France than the fact that about fifteen thousand French exiles gathered around Calvin to hear the gospel in their native tongue. And if fifteen thousand were found in Strasburg alone, what numbers besides must have fled to England, Germany, and other places! Here Calvin laboured in preaching and writing for three years. The advanced state of society, a more polished congregation than the one he had left in Geneva, suited his taste, and was as balm to his wounded heart. He republished his Institutes, much enlarged, wrote his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, and a treatise on the Lord's supper.

So happy was the stern severe disciplinarian in Strasburg, that he consented to marry if his friends could find for him a suitable wife. The first lady that was named was of noble birth and richly dowered; but Calvin objected to marry one above his own degree, still, if the lady would consent to learn the French language, he would give his final answer; but this the lady refused to do, and that was the end of the first nomination. Another lady was proposed, and Calvin, in this case, made certain advances himself, but, happily, he discovered in time sufficient reasons for not going farther. At last, by the advice of his friend Bucer, he married Idolette de Bure, a widow of deep piety and christian courage. The reader will readily recall and contrast the impulsive, hasty, and unseasonable marriage of Luther, with the matrimonial negotiations of Calvin, so characteristic of the two great Reformers.*

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 303.}

Calvin's Return to Geneva

But while Calvin was thus happily employed at Strasburg, everything was falling into great disorder, both political and religious on the banks of the Leman. The libertines, Anabaptists, and papists, now that the stern Reformers were gone, became riotous and ungovernable, while some of the magistrates, who had made themselves leaders in the violent proceeding against the ministers, came to a most tragic end. These troubles and these judgments, led the people to believe that they had sinned against God in banishing His faithful ministers, and to cry aloud for their return. The council of two hundred resolved in 1540, "in order that the honour and glory of God may be promoted, to seek all possible means to have Master Calvin back as preacher." And it was ordered in the general council, or assembly of the people, "to send to Strasburg to fetch Master Jean Calvinus, who is very learned, to be minister in this city."

Besides these assurances of a warm welcome, an honourable deputation was sent to him from the council to solicit his return. But the very thought of going back to Geneva greatly troubled him. He dreaded the coarse rough abuse which he had received from his rude opponents-especially the libertines. And was he again to leave his peaceful and happy situation in Strasburg, and plunge into that sea of troubles. Yet he wished to do the will of the Lord and to follow His guidance. Besides his official invitations, he had letters from private christian friends urging him to return. One of them, pressing his return, assures him "that he will find the Genevese a new people-become such by the grace of God, and through the instrumentality of Viret." The pastors of Zurich also pressed his return, urging the vast importance of the situation of Geneva, as situated on the confines of Germany, Italy, and France.

At length he consented to return, but in real subjection of heart to what he believed to be the will of his Lord and master. "There is no place under heaven," he said, "that I more dread than Geneva, yet I would decline nothing that might be for the welfare of that church." And writing to Farel, informing him of his decision, he says, "Since I remember that I am not my own, nor at my own disposal, I give myself up, tied bound, as a sacrifice to God." His departure took place on the 13th of September, 1541. A mounted herald from Geneva rode before him, and the proceedings which accompanied his reception were highly honourable to all parties concerned.*

{*Scott's History, vol. 3, p. 200. D'Aubigné's Calvin, vol. 6, chaps. 15-17. Wylie's Protestantism, vol. 2, chap. 14.}

Calvin and Servetus

The condemnation and death of Michael Servetus, the arch-heretic, at Geneva, have always been spoken of, both by Romish and Protestant writers, as a deep stain on the otherwise unsullied reputation of the great Reformer. But, in judging of Calvin's connection with this melancholy affair we must bear in mind the mighty difference between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Many of the leading Reformers, both in Germany and Switzerland, believed it a duty to punish heresy with death. Yet notwithstanding these considerations, Calvin's conduct in the matter must be utterly condemned by every enlightened Christian. And we are apt to wonder, in the nineteenth century, why such a student of scripture did not see the grace which shines throughout the New Testament. The Christian is saved by grace, stands in grace, and ought, surely, to be the witness of grace in an evil world. Besides, we have the example and teaching of our Lord, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." And in his sermon on the Mount, he thus teaches his disciples-"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.... Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect:" which simply means, Be ye perfect according to the perfect pattern of grace which is here shown by your heavenly Father.

But, strange to say, Calvin not only overlooked all such scriptures, but considered "Nebuchadnezzar as highly honoured in scripture for denouncing capital punishment against any who should blaspheme the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and doubts not that, had a pious and zealous christian magistrate been at hand, St. Paul would willingly have delivered over Hymenaeus and Alexander to him, to receive the chastisement they deserved." But while charity is ready to grant that these were more the errors of the age than of the man, we must bear in mind, that unless we have Christ before us as our example and rule of life, we shall not be effectually delivered from such legal thoughts in any age. Moses and Elias must disappear, and Jesus be found alone. If we say that we abide in Him, we ought also to walk even as He walked.

The Character and Execution of Servetus

Michael Servetus was a Spaniard, born in the same year with Calvin; of an active, vigorous mind; capable of applying himself to various pursuits; but, unfortunately, too speculative in divine things. He had studied medicine, law, and theology, in the latter, he was led away by a daring, self-confident spirit, into the wildest extravagances of pantheism, materialism, and a virulent opposition to the doctrine of the Trinity. But under all this heresy, like the Anabaptists-the celestial prophets-he was seditious and revolutionary. Such men generally aim at the overthrow of existing governments, as well as Christianity. This was the great sin, and the real cause of the persecution of the Anabaptists in those days. They followed the Reformers into every country, and sought to upset their work by affirming that they only went half way, and that Christians-like themselves-should rule the state as well as the church-that the time was come for the saints to take the kingdoms of this world.

Just before Servetus came to Geneva, he had escaped from the prison at Vienna, where he had been confined for the publication of an offensive and blasphemous work, and where he was afterwards burned in effigy, with five bales of his books. Calvin, who knew him well, and had exposed his heresies years before this affair at Vienna, is represented as saying, "If Servetus came to Geneva, and his influence could prevent it he should not go away alive." Servetus did come, and Calvin informed the council of his arrival, and drew up the articles of indictment from his writings, which led to his condemnation and death. These charges he was required by the council to retract, deny, explain, or defend, as he should see good. For this preparation he was allowed all the time he demanded. But in place of conciliating enemies, or making friends by a spirit of sobriety and moderation when he made his defence he conducted himself in the most insolent manner. He gave to Calvin the lie direct over and over again, and called him by such names as "Simon the sorcerer." Particulars of this case were sent to several other states for an opinion, and it was said, "With one consent they all pronounced that he has revived the impious errors with which Satan of old disturbed the church; and is a monster not to be endured." With these concurring opinions, and the council of Geneva being unanimous, he was condemned to be led to Champel, and there burned alive.

The wretched man, up to the last, showed no signs of repentance, but the most dreadful fear of death. When Calvin heard the sentence, he was greatly affected, and interceded with the council, not that Servetus might be spared, but that his sentence might be mitigated; he prayed that the sword might be substituted for the fire-decapitation for burning. But this was refused; and on 27th of October, 1553, he was led to the summit of Champel, where the stake had been fixed. At the first glare of the flames, it is said, Servetus gave a shriek so terrible, that it made the crowd fall back and was heard at a great distance. His books were burned with him, but the fire burned slowly, and he lived half-an-hour at the stake.*

{*See the original records of the trial of Servetus before the "Little Council of Geneva," discovered by M. Albert Rilliet, and published in 1844, with a short treatise on the subject, translated from the French, by Dr. Tweedie. The production of these records, though at this late hour, will go far to soften public opinion as to Calvin's share in the death of Servetus.}

Calvin's Work

In the midst of the many conflicts in which Calvin was engaged, he was unwearied in his pastoral labours, and in his endeavours to expose and to counteract errors both in church and state, and to diffuse light and truth in all the churches. "Through the fame and the influence of this distinguished theologian, the Geneva church rapidly increased in numbers, and was looked upon as the centre of the Reformed cause. At his suggestion a college was established by the senate in 1558, in which he and Theodore Beza, along with others of great erudition and high talents, were the teachers. This seat of learning soon acquired so great fame that students resorted to it from England, Scotland, France, Italy, and Germany, in pursuit of sacred as well as secular learning." By this means, the principles of the Reformation spread widely over the various countries of Europe. "To John Calvin the Protestant churches must ever owe a deep debt of gratitude, and, among Presbyterians in particular, his memory will be embalmed, as having given to their system of church polity the weight of his influence and name." Along with this beautiful notice from "Faiths of the World," we are bound to add a line from the very solid Mr. Fry, an episcopalian historian: "Geneva soon sunk in estimation with the church of England, because of the countenance she gave to the Presbyterian form of church government, and of the violent attack by some of her divines upon the ancient episcopal government, which was still retained with considerable splendour in England and in Ireland."-Page 487.

The published works of Calvin are most voluminous. The Geneva edition amounted to twelve volumes, folio. The Amsterdam edition-said to be the best-by using larger paper, and printing closer, was reduced to nine volumes. A translation has also been published by the "Calvin Society," in fifty-four volumes octavo. These contain his commentaries, expository lectures, miscellaneous pieces, the Institutes, and the author's correspondence. The commentaries, no doubt, have formed the foundation on which the young divines of the Calvin school, from that day until now, have built up their studies, and in this respect, who can speak of the greatness or the effects of his work? But besides these works that have come down to us, we must bear in mind that a considerable amount of time is spent with such public men in seeing visitors from all parts of the world. Then there is the daily public ministration of the word, and public business of every kind. His advice or counsel by letter, for the help of other churches, is also expected. "When we think of his letters," says one of his admirers, "written on the affairs of greatest weight, addressed to the first men of position and intellect in Europe; so numerous are they, that it might have been supposed he wrote letters and did nothing besides. When we turn to his commentaries, so voluminous, so solid, and so impregnated with the spirituality, and fire, and fragrance of the divine word, again, it would seem as if we had before us the labours of a lifetime."*

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 2, p. 346.}

Calvin and Calvinism

Whether we agree with the doctrinal teaching of Calvin, and the style in which he treated some of his subjects, we must give him full credit for zeal, devotedness, and industry. In a feeble and sickly body, and in a comparatively short lifetime he accomplished a great work. It is to be feared, however, that some of his extreme statements, and his harsh language as to "reprobation," and "the reprobate," unsanctioned, we believe, by scripture, have done much harm to many precious souls. "But the fact, I believe is," says Scott, "that there was a coldness and hardness about Calvin's mind, which led him sometimes to regard as objects of mere intellect those things which could not but deeply move the feelings of minds differently constituted; and hence, I cannot but concur, he did not duly appreciate the effect of the language he was using upon other persons. And to these extreme statements and this obnoxious language, I must think, is to be traced a considerable portion of that storm of obloquy and odium which has not ceased to beat upon the head of Calvin and Calvinism to this day."*

{*Vol. 3, chap. 26.}

The Closing Days of Calvin

But, though we may not be able to follow the learned theologian in his vast researches, or to receive the doctrines which he taught, we shall feel that he is of one heart and one mind with us, as we gather around his death-bed. His old and faithful friend, Farel, hearing of the serious illness of Calvin, wrote to say he must come and see him. He was then seventy-five, and in feeble health. Calvin wishing to save him the fatiguing journey, immediately dictated the following brief and affectionate reply: "Farewell, my best and most faithful brother; and, since it is God's pleasure that you should survive me in this world, live in the constant remembrance of our union, which, in so far as it was useful to the church of God, will still bear for us abiding fruit in heaven. Do not expose yourself to fatigue for my sake. I respire with difficulty, and continually expect my breath to fail me; but it is enough for me that I live and die in Christ, who to His people in life and death is gain. Once more, farewell to thee, and to all the brethren, thy colleagues.-Geneva, May 2nd, 1564."

The good old man, however, a few days afterwards, came to Geneva, and spent a little time with his friend in his sick-chamber; but history has not recorded what passed between them. Unlike Luther, who was always surrounded with admiring friends, who immediately chronicled all he said or did, and thereby gave a dramatic character to every incident of his life; we know nothing of the homely, familiar social life of Calvin, which greatly detracts from the interest of one who is made a central figure.

Having seen the members of the senate, and the ministers under the jurisdiction of Geneva, and having faithfully and affectionately addressed them, he felt that his work was done. The remainder of his days he passed in almost perpetual prayer. As he was repeating the words of the apostle, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to be ...." without being able to finish, he breathed his last, May 27th, 1564.

"He lived," says Beza, "fifty-four years, ten months, and seventeen days; half of which time he passed in the sacred ministry. His stature was of a middle size, his complexion dark and pale, his eyes brilliant even unto death, expressing the acuteness of his understanding. He lived nearly without sleep. His power of memory was almost incredible; and his judgment so sound, that his decisions often seemed oracular. In his words he was sparing, and he despised an artificial eloquence; yet was he an accomplished writer, and, by the accuracy of his mind, and his practice in dictating to an amanuensis, he attained to speak little differently from what he would have written.... Having given with good faith the history of his life and of his death, after sixteen years' observation of him, I feel myself warranted to declare that in him was proposed to all men an illustrious example of the life and death of a Christian, so that it will be found as difficult to emulate as it is easy to calumniate him."*

{*Beza's narrative, quoted by Scott, vol. 3, p. 485.}