« AnteriorContinuar »
ought to dedicate this, my labour. It will, at least, afford those of our own times, and, perhaps, even those who come after us, some indication of our friendship and holy communion. There never have been, I think, two friends, who lived together in such friendship, in the common intercourse of the world, as we have in our ministry. I have exercised the office of a pastor here with you two, and with such entire freedom from any appearance of envy that you and I appeared but as one."
The subject is worthy of D'Aubigne's enthusiasm, and when writing of the different work of the scholar and of the missionary, he says "Calvin was the greaj) doctor of the sixteenth century, and Farel the great evangelist; the latter is one of the most remarkable figures in the Reformation." "Farel had the riches of nature, of art and of grace. His life was a series of battles and victories. vEvery time he went forth, it was conquering and to conquer."
The scholar of the Swiss reform is now dead; the missionary must gird himself, old as he is, for another march and another triumph. His burning zeal must have vent, and he cannot rest at home. If he cannot go into the heart of that France whose invitation just missed him, when he first entered among the Alps, he will cross the border and try to see the glorious gospel established in Metz before he dies. This city has given him the good chevalier Esch, and Toiissaint, who has reaped what he had sown at Montbeliard, besides giving him many honourable scars to signalize his courage, and touch the hearts of those among whom he has sought aid for its suffering protestants.
The ministers consented to his plan, and the senate of Neufchatel commissioned one of their number to attend him, lesl their very aged father should fall into danger. There was extraordinary joy on his arrival in the city. On that very day he preached with such energy and power Hhat the church took fresh courage. But it was too much for him; the light was cast at the expense of the lamp. He sank down upon his couch after his return from the pulpit, and with difficulty was carried back to Neufchatel. His room became his church, and he was visited by people of all ranks. He exhorted them to obey the laws of the state and of the church, and to hold fast their profession of faith. Like an apostle he counselled them; like a brother he shared in their sympathies, and like a father he comforted them. All were, astonished at his love and zeal in coming to them when so feeble, and at his patience and resignation. "See," said they to one another, "this man is the very same that he has always been! We never knew him depressed, even when our hearts were failing us for fear. When we were ready to give up everything in despair, he was full of hope, and he cheered us by his Christian heroism!"
He lingered a few weeks, proved to all, who came in tears to his bedside, the power of the Lord to give life to the dying, and gently fell asleep in Christ. He died, September 13th, 1565, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, about fifteen months after Calvin's departure. He was buried in a church-yard of Neufchatel, where he had seen most marvellous changes since the day that he had boldly preached in the streets. The churches of the whole canton lamented his death. The ministers felt that his merits should be known to posterity, and, at once, proposed to collect materials for his biography.
Who should be his successor at Neufchatel? Viret was chosen, but he declined, for he was engaged in France, probably then at Lyons. A school of theology was rising in Navarre, where the influence of Margaret, the queen, had so favoured protestantism that it had been a refuge and a stronghold. Viret was called thither and died two years before the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day crushed the glorious church in France and filled all Christendom with horror.
The next choice fell upon Christopher Fabri, long before sent into the field by Farel from his couch at Morat. Farel had been so earnest for labourers in the great harvest that he had sometimes put forward young and untried men, who proved unworthy of the trust, but in this brother he was not disappointed. He testified that, during the thirty-one years Fabri had assisted him at Morat, Orbe, Grandson, Thun and Geneva, and during the three different periods in which they were colleagues at Neufchatel, no grievous misunderstanding had ever arisen between them. \
He also was loved hy Calvin, who had first heard of him in a strange way. When Calvin was at Basle, before he dreamed of ever living in Geneva, a total stranger one day called. He came to deliver a message from a medical student of Montpelier, who had lately entered the ministry, and had been reading a new book of Calvin's, that was having a wide popularity. "FabrLhas desired me to inform you," said the unknown, "that he does not entirely approve of certain passages in your hook on the Immortality of the Soul"* Brave message, certainly, furnishing a hope that, if the young Fabri should be on the right side, he might prove a courageous reformer. With touching humility Calvin afterwards replied,—"Far from being offended at your opinion, I have been much delighted with your simplicity and candour. My temper is not so crabbed as to refuse to others the liberty I enjoy myself. You must know, then, that I have almost entirely re-written my book.''
*This was Calvin's first theological work, published in 1534. The title was unfortunately changed to that of Psychopannychia, or the sleep of the soul. He showed from Scripture that the soul knows no sleep between death and the judgment. 30 *■
Few of the many young men, whom the illustrious missionary was the means of putting into the ministry, had so much of his independence as Fabri. As he had been free with Calvin's book in his younger days, he probably had, in older years, been frank with Farel's opinions. Once this caused a slight difference between the two pastors at Neufchatel. It.was shortly after Farel's severe illness in 1553, and after Fabri had taken to himself a new wife. What the misunderstanding was, we know not, but a letter of Calvin shows so much of the spirit of the two pastors and the writer, that we hope it wilj secure a fresh reading. Calvin writes thus to Farel about his colleague,—
. . . . 'cAs you are well aware that there are many things which we must endure, because it is not in our power to correct them, I need not spend many words in exhorting you to show yourself gentle and moderate in a contest which is evidently not embittered by personal hostility, if, indeed, that should be called a contest in which your colleague differs from you, without any malevolent feeling or desire to breed disturbances. In what points *I think him defective, as you yourself are my best authority on that subject, I shall for the moment forbear to mention; but one thing we know, that the man is pious and zealous in the discharge of his duty. Add to that, he loves you, is anxious to have your approbation, and both considers and respects you as a parent. Now, if he sometimes carries himself rather more forwardly than he ought, the chief cause seems to me to be this: he fancies that you are too rigid and morose, and so he aims at a certain popularity which may smooth down offences. Thus the good man, while he is consulting your tranquillity and guarding against ill-will, which he believes neither of you can stand against, forgets the firmness and dignity which should belong to a minister of Christ; and, while he imposes on you the necessity of resisting him, he furnishes the gainsayers with arms to assail your common (mutual) ministry. I see how vexatious and provoking a proceeding this is, nor am I ignorant how much blame his fault deserves. But your own prudence and love of fair-dealing will suggest to you that you ought to number up the good qualities which counterbalance his defects. . . . . You bore with Chaponneau, not only a man of no mark, but one who seemed born for kindling strife. . . . With how much greater reason, then, should you strive to foster . peace with a man who both desires to faithfully serve the Lord along with you, and abhors all rancorous dissensions! If you bear in mind how few tolerably good ministers we have in the present day, you will be on your guard how you slight a man who is both honest and diligent, endowed, moreover, with other most estimable gifts. Let him only feel that you love him, and I answer for it, you will find him tolerably docile."
This balm healed the wound, and at death Farel could look back on the past and declare that no misunderstanding had ever arisen between them, so completely was this affair forgotten. In this Farel proved how worthy he was of the titles so often found in Calvin's letters, such as "my sound-hearted brother," "my very honest friend," "my excellent and upright brother," "my guide and counsellor."
rThe new pastor, Fabri, could join with the people of his charge in holding sacred the memory of their much-loved father, and in carrying forward their enterprises after the plans which he had adopted. Elisha was content to follow in the steps of the