« AnteriorContinuar »
tions. They were allowed to visit the houses of Romanists and point the sick to the Saviour. Fabri wrote, "Neither life, nor wife, nor children are so dear to me as my Lord Jesus and his church."
) While Farel was absent, Neufchatel was favoured with a visit from the duchess of Longueville—whether the same Joanna who had so long been trifling at the court of Francis I., we cannot say, but it seems that she was the one, and that she was greatly changed. Her son was with her. The ministers counselled with her in settling several church questions. A synod was held, and the custom of letting the churches choose their pastors was confirmed. Much was done to promote better discipline and to found schools in destitute parishes. She corresponded with Calvin, and he praises her courage and steadfastness in the faith. In France her house had been a refuge for the persecuted.
She visited Landeron, a town in her canton. The papal party had only one vote in their majority over the reformed party. The duchess wished to have Protestant service performed, the next morning after her arrival, by a preacher who attended her and the young duke. The people were assured that no allusion would be made to popery, nor any one be compelled to attend, as the service was for her and her retinue. It was intimated that she, being the ruler of the land, had a right to the free exercise of her religion, especially as she gave her subjects the same liberty. But all this was in vain. The authorities were the first to take up arms, and, with covered heads, they rudely threatened to throw the preacher from the pulpit. She again urged that their sovereign should not be thus prevented from hearing the gospel, which they need not hear unless they chose; but her condescension availed nothing. The alarm-bell was rung, the inhabitants armed themselves, surrounded the chapel, and compelled the duchess to put a stop to the preaching. Farel, on his return, was greatly annoyed by this outrage; but he thought the priests more to blame than the people.
THE CALL TO GLOMT.^
JOHN CALVIN was dying near the age of fifty-five, and the dear old man of seventy-five was very anxious about him. Farel wrote thus to one of his friends,—"I have not yet heard any certain report of the departure of our brother, Calvin, so dear and so necessary to us; but the current- rumours and the state in which I left him afflict me greatly. Oh that I could be put in his place, and that he might be long spared to serve the churches of our Lord, who, blessed be his name, caused me to meet with him when I little expected it, and retained him, against his own purpose, at Geneva, to employ him there in his service, and ordered other things in a most wonderful manner, and, strange to say, by my instrumentality, for I pressed him to undertake affairs harder than death. And sometimes he besought me, in the name of God, to have pity on him, and to let "him serve God ardently in the way in which he had always been employed. But, seeing that what I demanded was according to God's will, he did violence to his own will, and has accomplished more and more rapidly than any one else, and has even surpassed himself. How glorious a course he has run! God grant that we may run as he has, according to the grace given unto us!" It seems Farel heard more definitely that his friend was still alive, and expressed his intention to visit him. Calvin knew what an effort this would cost the aged pastor, and thus wrote to him,—"Farewell, my best and truest brother. Since it is the Lord's will that you should survive me in this world, never forget our friendship, which, so far as it has been useful to the church of Grod, will bear fruit for us in heaven. Pray do not weary yourself by coming hither on my account. My breath is weak, and I expect that every moment will be the last. I am contented that I live and die in Christ, who is the reward of the people, both in life and in death. To you and the brethren, still once more, farewell."
This letter could not stay the feet of the good old man. He went to Geneva with the feeling,—" Oh that I might die for him!" He wept, prayed, spent his last night and took his last leave of him, whom he ever regarded too great for him to call a son, and the next day returned home. Not many days after Calvin had fallen asleep in Christ,—May 27, 1564. It is not probable that Farel stood with the multitude who followed him to his burial, when the republic was laying in the grave one of its wisest counsellors, the city one of its truest guardians, the church its chief pastor, the academy its highest teacher, and many of the people their faithful comforter. One may now stand in the very pulpit of St. Peter's, from which his commanding voice was heard; but we seek in vain for any monument to his memory. There is a doubt about the very place where his body was laid, although later hands have set upon a small level grass-plot a little square stone, about a foot high, and having cut on its top theJetters J. C. It was his wdsh to be buried without pomp, without a monument. His name is upon an enduring system of doctrine and polity in the Christian church, and unon the civilization of the past three centuries,,which have recognized him as one of the great fathers of civil and religious liberty.
The close and undisturbed friendship of Calvin, Farel and Viret has been the pleasing theme of all writers, who have sought to do justice to their excellence. The first two seemed unfitted by nature for such a holy brotherhood, for each was firm and stern in his opinions, strong in his will, bold in his temper and mighty in his power to rule. The wonder is that they did not wish to rule over each other. But neither was jealous nor envious; neither wished to exalt himself, nor to prevent the other from having an* influence for the good of the church and the glory of God. Both gave their thoughts, their time and their energies to the work of that Master, in whose service they were brothers. An unlimited confidence bound them together. Calvin was the great thinker, Farel the great worker of the Beformed church. By nature Calvin was weak for battle, cautious and reserved, but conflict made him strong. Farel was bold enough from birth, always in advance, venturing where others would hardly dare to go, fearless of consequences, and often checking the first good movements by his very bravery, but often conquering by making himself a terror to his adversaries. Conflict subdued him, and while Calvin admired his inexpressible activity and courage, it pleased him to see his "best and truest brother" becoming more gentle and tender in his ways. It might be said of each of them, as of a celebrated crusader, "He was a lamb in his own affairs, but a lion in the cause of God."
Calvin dedicated his Commentary on the Epistle to Titus to Farel and Yiret, in these touching words, "As the condition of my charge resembles that which St. Paul committed to Titus, it seemed to me that it was you, above all others, to whom I