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PEACE TO THE STOMMS.
THERE lived in Basle one of the best of men, named Symon Grynseus, a school-fellow of Melancthon, who said that he had "a mildness of temper that was never put out, and an almost excessive bashfulness." Beza compared him "to the splendour of the sun, that overpowers the light of the stars." The papists of Spires knew his worth, for they thought it policy to attack him with such violence in 1529 that he barely escaped. He was invited to Basle to take the place of Erasmus as a professor. When Calvin was there in 1534 he met this good man and was captivated by his gentleness. They became most affectionate friends,- and often shut themselves up in their room for study. To his house Calvin went as a very damp and chilly exile from Geneva, and there he found a cheerful fire, a sympathetic heart, and a home where he remained for many months.
In the house of Oporinus, the printer, Farel was lodged, waiting for Providence to open some new door to him. Toussaint wished him and Calvin to return to Lausanne, and there labour. But in a few weeks there came a very unexpected call. Two councillors and two ministers of Neufchatel came to see him. They said their people had heard of Farel's sufferings, and their old attachment to him had revived in such strength that they must have him among them. They could not forget how he had preached on the stone in Serriere, in their streets, and in the cathedral on the hill. They had first heard from his lips the word of Grod, and his weighty voice seemed yet ringing in their ears. They had prayed fervently for Glod to send them a chief minister, and all wanted Farel. Besides, Viret and Fabri were urgent in pressing the call upon him, and so, too, were the neighbouring churches.
At first he hesitated, for the desire to be with Calvin and to engage in study was strong. Then the church at Neufchatel was sadly in want of discipline. He might have the late experience at Geneva all over again, and be exiled in less than a year. But duty began to impress his mind; conscience lifted her voice; his soul caught the old fire, and he was himself again,—bold, fearless, ready to sacrifice himself, intensely anxious to preach, and possessing an ''ambition for God's glory without bounds." His mind was made up, and at once he set out for his parish.
Soon after his arrival mournful tidings followed him. His sister had followed him to Basle, and there she saw her son die of the plague. Calvin wrote thus, in a letter to "Farel, the faithful preacher at Neufchatel, my beloved brother. Your nephew, last Sabbath-day, fell sick here of the plague. His companion and the goldsmith, who bore witness to the gospel at Lyons, immediately sent to me. As I had taken something to cure my headache I could not visit him myself. . . . Grynaeus visited him frequently. I did so as soon as my health allowed it. When our T., (Du Tailly,) saw that I did not fear the danger he insisted on sharing it with me. We spent a long time with him yesterday. When the signs of approaching death were evident, I imparted spiritual rather than bodily comfort. His mind seemed to wander; but he still had sufficient consciousness to call me back to his chamber, and to entreat me earnestly to pray for him. He had heard me speak much of the usefulness of prayer. Early this morning, about four o'clock, he departed to the Lord."*
LThere were many difficulties at Neufchatel. The ablest ministers had been sent by the Bernese lords into other cantons, and some of the old priests were in the churches, consuming the revenues and corrupting the people by their bad example. The reigning prince also had laid his hand upon the revenues of most of the churches, and it was a serious question how to support pastors in the different parishes. The neglect of pastoral attentions to the sick, the poor, the ignorant and the young was disheartening. The governor had lately adopted the reform, but he still disliked Farel. This was probably George de Rive, whom we well remember.
* In this same letter there is an unobtrusive proof of the straits of poverty through whieh Farel and his relatives had to pass. "Concerning the wearing apparel and other movables of your nephew, thus you have it:— The son-in-law of the old woman, (the nephew's nurse,) affirms that all his clothes, which, however, were not many, were left to him, but with no appearance of truth, since he could not have done so except in the intervals of delirium. He has a sword and a shirt with Wolf. I know for certain that he had no money when he fell ill. His landlord, Wolf, thinks that the story about the legacy of the clothes is a pure fable."
There were some debts incurred by the sickness and burial of this nephew, and the generous Farel seems not to have been able to easily pay them. He could not pay Oporin for his seven weeks' board when he left Basle. Calvin was to settle the matter, and, after receiving some money on Farel's account, he wrote to him,—" I yet owe you one gold crown and a half, which I will pay as soon as possible. Here, unless I would be a burden to the brethren, I must live at my own expense. . . . My outlay on account of your nephew I have received, except about ten shillings, which Claude, (probably a deacon of the French church of Strasburg,) was about to send me. I mention that lest you may think that I had received nothing."—Calvin's Letters, No. xvi., October, 1558.
There was also much to cheer his heart when he recalled the day that he first crossed the lake in his little boat. Fabri had gone into the parish of Boudry and given the papists a chance to repeat their tricks of ringing bells and shouting to drown his voice while preaching, and then fall upon and nearly kill him after the sermon was ended. But the parish finally had decided for the reformation. The young minister proved that he not only admired Farel, but took him for his model.
The shepherds and hunters of Locle often came to a little oratory, about which there was a legend which was truer, in their view, than the gospel. St. Hubert was once riding through these mountains on a hunt, when a bear met him and killed his horse. But, nothing daunted, he mounted the bear and rode safely home, to the amazement of everybody. Hubert was the hunter's patron saint, and a celebrated lover of the chase had built this oratory. The prayers offered there were probably few, and certainly very superstitious. A greater hunter was coming to Locle. John de Bely was on the way at the time of a fair, when Madame Williamette, of Yalangin, had him seized and brought into the castle. She forced him to debate for two hours with her priest. "Put him in prison," she exclaimed; but the good-natured priest interceded and he was released.- Bely found a friend in this worthy vicar, who took him by the arm, led him to the parsonage, refreshed him with bread and wine, and sent him on rejoicing. The people said that '' the mountain bears were beginning to be tamed.''
One day the people of Brenets, far up in the Jura mountains, resolved to take the images out of their church, so that they might worship God in spirit and in truth. They removed them and prepared to break them in pieces and throw them into the river as had been done at Neufchatel. They looked up and saw two fine oxen coming, driven by some villagers from a little town in France, just over the border.
"We offer you these oxen," said the villagers, "in exchange for your pictures and images."
"Pray take them," said the people of Brenets. The idols were gathered up by one party, and the oxen driven away by the other, and an old chronicler says that "each thought they had made a fine exchange." In such ways the gospel was working in the canton of Neufchatel. "With the exception of one village, the evangelical faith was established throughout the whole principality, without the aid of the prince and the lords, and indeed in spite of them. A hand mightier than theirs was breaking the bonds, removing the obstacles, and emancipating souls. The Reformation triumphed; and after God, it was Farel's work:" He had sown bountifully a few years before, and now he has returned to reap in the same fields. History dwells less upon the peaceful progress of his work than upon the disturbances raised by the foes of the truth.
There was one man who made himself such a thorn in the sides of Farel and his co-labourers that, on their account, he should be mentioned. This was Peter Caroli, whom Farel had known in Paris as a dissolute doctor of the Sorbonne. f A few of the adjectives applied to him by historians, are these, vain, fickle, frivolous, insinuating, servile, quarrelsome, hypocritical, ambitious, dangerous, insufferable, seeking to push himself forward, and unworthy of notice had he not had the honour to excite trouble among the reformers.