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Scriptures, and occasionally preached at Ligniers, a small town in the Province of Berri, in the presence, and with the approbation of the head of that department. (c)
The intelligence of the sudden death of his father recalled Calvin from Bourges to his native country. Not long after he removed from Noyon to Paris, and in his twenty-fourth year published his excellent Commentary on Seneca's Epistle concerning Clemency. Calvin was certainly very much delighted with this very serious author, whose sentiments evidently harmonized with his own moral character. (d)
Calvin, during the few months he was at Paris, became acquainted with all the zealous supporters of the reformed religion; and we have frequently heard him afterwards praise, among the rest, Steven de la Forge, a distinguished merchant, subsequently burned for the name of Christ, on account of his remarkable piety. He has also eulogized this martyr in his treatise against the libertines. Calvin, from that time, abandoning all other studies, devoted himself to the service of God, to the very great satisfaction of all those pious characters, who then held their meetings privately in Paris.
Not long after this an opportunity presented itself for the display of his strenuous efforts in the cause of the reformed religion. Nicholas Cop, son of William Cop, physician to the king, and a citizen of Basle, was at that time appointed in the usual manner rector of the University of Paris. Calvin prepared for him an oration to be delivered according to custom on the 1st of November, when the Roman Catholics celebrated the feast of All Saints; and in this he discussed the subject of religion with greater purity and more boldness, than the hierarchy had before experienced. This excited the displeasure of the Sorbonne, and the parliament was so much offended as to cite the rector to appear. At first the rector prepared, with his officers, to attend the summons, but being admonished by friends, as he was on his way, to avoid his adversaries, he returned home, left the kingdom, and retired to Basle. A party proceeded to Calvin's lodgings in the College
de Fortret, but happily not finding him at home, they seized among his papers a considerable number of letters from his friends, and the lives of several of them were thus exposed to very imminent danger. Such was the severity of the judges against the church of Christ at that period, and the violence of John Morin was peculiarly striking, whose name is yet distinguished for uncommon cruelty. The queen of Navarre, only sister of Francis 1st, a princess of extraordinary talents, afforded the reformer on this occasion marked protection, and the Lord dispelled the storm by her intercession. She invited Calvin to her court, received him with great honour, and gave him an audience. (e)
Calvin left Paris, went to Saintonge, and assisted one of his friends, at whose request he composed some short Christian exhortations, which were presented to certain parishes to be read as homilies, that the people might gradually be enticed to a zeal in the investigation of the truth. About this time he came to Nerac in Gascony, on a visit to James le Fevre, of Estaples, now far advanced in years, who had been defended by the same queen of Navarre, when in danger of his life from the vain and foolish doctors of the Sorbonne, for his having introduced great improvements in mathematics and other branches of philosophy in the University of Paris, after a long and very violent opposition, and for his assisting to rout out the scholastic theology. She had also provided for him in Nerac a town within her jurisdiction. The good old man received and saw young Calvin with great kindness, and predicted that he would become a distinguished instrument in restoring the kingdom of heaven in France. (ƒ)
Not long after Calvin returned to Paris, as if called there by the hand of God himself; for the impious Servetus was even then disseminating his heretical poison against the sacred Trinity in that city. He professed to desire nothing more earnestly than to have an opportunity for entering into discussion with Calvin, who waited long for Servetus, the place and time for an interview having been appointed, with
great danger to his own life, since he was at that time under the necessity of being concealed on account of the incensed rage of his adversaries. Calvin was disappointed in his expectations of meeting Servetus, who wanted courage to endure even_the_sight of his opponent.
The year 1534 was distinguished by many horrid cruelties inflicted upon the reformers. Gerard de Rousel, Doctor of the Sorbonne, affording at that time great assistance to the study of religion, and Couraut, of the order of St. Augustin, who, having been for two years under the patronage of the queen of a Navarre, promoted very much the cause of the gospel in Paris, were not only dragged out of their pulpits, but thrown into prison. The indignation of the infatuated Francis 1st, a was so much enraged on account of certain papers against the mass dispersed through the city, and affixed to his chamber door, that having appointed a public procession, he walked in uncovered before it, bearing a lighted torch, as if in expiation of the crime, accompanied by his three sons. He ordered eight martyrs to be burned alive in four principal quarters of the city, and declared with a solemn oath that he would not spare his own children, if by any chance infected with these, as he called them, most execrable heresies. (g)
Calvin, beholding with grief such a spectacle of woe, determined to leave France, after he had first published at Orleans an excellent little work, intitled " Psychopannychia," against an error which commenced in the earliest ages of the church, and was again revived by those who taught that the soul sleeps when in a state of separation from the body.
With an intention of leaving France he went by way of Lorraine towards Basle with the young gentleman at whose house, as already stated, he resided at Saintonge. Near Metz he was plundered by a servant, who saddled one of the strongest horses, and fled with so much speed that he could not he apprehended, after he had perfidiously robbed his masters of all things necessary for their journey, and reduced them to great difficulties. The other servant, however, lent
them ten crowns, which enabled them to proceed with considerable inconvenience to Strasburgh, and thence to Basle. He formed an intimate friendship in this city with Simon Grinée, and Wolfgang Capito, men of the greatest celebrity, and devoted himself to the study of the Hebrew language. Though very desirous to do his utmost that he might remain in obscurity, as appears from one of Bucer's letters to Calvin the following year, he was under the necessity of publishing what he called the Institutes of the Christian Religion, and the rudiment of much the largest of his works. For when the German princes, who had supported the gospel, and whose friendship he then courted, were indignant at Francis 1st, for the murder of his Protestant subjects, the only wise remedy proposed by Bellay-Langé, which he resolved to adopt, was his declaration that he had merely punished the Anabaptists, who boast only in their own spirit as the divine word, and despise all magistrates. Calvin, feeling indignant at the calumny with which the new religion was branded, seized this opportunity for publishing what I consider an incomparable work. He prefixed also an admirable preface to the king himself, and if he could from any circumstance have been induced to read it, I am either very much mistaken or a great wound would, even at that period, have been inflicted on the whore of Babylon. For the king differed in many respects from his successors; he was a very acute judge of the situation of affairs, possessed an excellent talent in detecting the truth, was a patron of learned men, and his inclination did not lead him to hate persons of the reformed religion. But neither his own sins, nor the sins of his people, which were even then menaced with the speedy arrival of God's indignation, allowed him to hear, much less to read this work.
After completing his Institutes, and faithfully performing the duties he owed his native country, he felt a desire to pay, as if at a distance, his respects to Italy, and to visit Renée, the Duchess of Ferrara, and daughter of Louis 12th, king of
France, whose piety was at that time very much praised. He, therefore, waited upon her, and at the same time so confirmed her in a sincere zeal for religion, to the utmost of his abilities according to the existing state of affairs, that she continued ever after to entertain a sincere affection for him during his life; and now also, as his survivor, exhibits striking marks of her gratitude after his death. (h)
From Italy, whose territories he entered, to use his own language, only that he might leave them, Calvin returned to France, where he settled all his affairs, and brought along with him Anthony Calvin, his only surviving brother. His intention was to return to Basle or Strasburgh, but the wars compelled him to make his route through Dauphiny and Savoy, all other countries having been completely closed against his passage. This was the cause of his coming without his own intention to Geneva, where, as future events proved, he was conducted by a divine hand. For the Gospel had a short time before been wonderfully introduced into that city by the joint exertions of two very distinguished characters, William Farel, a gentleman of Dauphiny, educated, not in a monastery, as was reported by some, but in the academy of James Fabre, of Estaples, and Peter Viret, of Orb, in the Territory of Berne, and Friburgh, whose labours were afterwards most abundantly blessed of the Lord. Calvin, passing through Geneva, visited these good men as a matter of course, on which occasion Farel, with his usual heroic spirit, after urging him at some length to continue, and share their labours at Geneva without going farther, thus addressed Calvin, when he manifested no disposition to comply with the proposal: "I denounce unto you, in the name of Almighty God, that if, under the pretext of prosecuting your studies, you refuse to labour with us in this work of the Lord, the Lord will curse you, as seeking yourself rather than Christ." Calvin, terrified by this dreadful denunciation, surrendered himself to the disposal of the presbytery and magistrates, by whose votes, and the consent of the people, he was chosen not only preacher, which at first he