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guide of our thoughts and actions has been the occasion and the cause of more suffering, and persecution, and misery, than almost all other causes put together. To this we must trace the error and the sin of the disciples John and James, when they wished to call down fire from heaven, and beloved Saviour told them that they knew not what spirit they were of. To this we must attribute the persecution of pagan and papal Rome; and the first reformers themselves derived from this extensive source of error, of sin, and of crime, the persecuting principles by which they were all influenced. Although Calvin had escaped from the deep abyss of popish darkness, he still continued to be enthralled and awfully deluded by the horrid principle of persecution which he placed in the hands of the civil magistrate, as the church of Rome vested it in their ruinous, ignorant, and corrupt hierarchy. Had the church of Geneva been separated from the state, Calvin would never have thought of placing in the hands of the clergy of that city the power of punishing the blasphemy of Servetus as a capital crime, since simple excommunication was the extreme punishment, which the consistory could inflict. Our reformer was so thoroughly convinced of the power of the magistrates extending to blasphemy against God, that he declares the apostles themselves, had the government under which they lived been Christian, would have abetted and sanctioned persecution. The true follower of the meek and lowly Jesus must be compelled to shed tears over this pernicious and altogether with less principle, which was adopted and maintained by all the great leaders of the reformation. Nay, the very same persecution has been continued in England until the other day, when Taylor and Carlile were liberated from prison. May no Briton ever again have cause to lament over this antichristian conduct on the part of a government, which is professedly in league and alliance with the ecclesiastical establishment of the country. The great and peculiar glory of Christianity is love to God and love to man, founded on the principle of faith in a dying, risen, and interceding Saviour, who will finally come in the character of a Judge to separate the goats from the sheep, and to assign to each their portion in endless happiness or misery. It does not confide in the arm of man, in the power of emperors or of kings for success, but looks up with unbounded confidence to the Lord of Sabaoth for final victory and triumph.
Calvin was not influenced by any feelings of private revenge, or of personal malevolence against Servetus, as many, contrary to all the evidence of the truth of history and biography, have asserted. He was anxious to remove all heretical opinions, and to watch over the purity of the faith of the church at Geneva, as well as of all the protestant churches. This was one cause of his bringing Servetus to trial, and his desire to convince him of the error of his opinions, and to convert him to the belief of the truth as it is in Jesus, was another. All the Swiss Protestant churches concurred with that of Geneva in sanctioning the punishment of the Spanish physician. Calvin was desirous that his punishment should have been less ignominious, and not burning, but the magistrates of Geneva opposed this measure.
It is unfair, uncandid, and ungenerous, to lay the whole weight of persecution, as many Englishmen do, upon the shoulders of Calvin. * Lambert and
* The following extract from a letter of the mild Melancthon to Calvin proves what his opinions were concerning persecution. “I have read your clear refutation of the horrid blasphemies of Servetus, and I thank the Son of God who awarded you a crown of victory in this combat. The Askew were burnt in the reign of Henry VIII.; Vane Pare and Joan of Arc, by Edward VI., at the instigation and urgent solicitation of Archbishop Cranmer, a pattern of humility, meekness, and charity, at Smithfield, London, three years before Servetus suffered at the Champel of Geneva. Two Anabaptists were capitally punished under Elizabeth, and sixty Roman Catholics : Legate and Wightman, two Arians, under James I. Cold must the heart that does not feel, and tearless the eyes that do not sympathize with all the victims of persecution under Charles I. and II.
The distinction which Servetus has attained for his various writings, particularly as the discoverer of the pulmonic circulation of the blood before our illustrious Harvey, has contributed to make his trial and punishment more conspicuous, while those who suffered in England have been little noticed in consequence of their ignorance and want of celebrity. Our reformer has been calumniated without mercy and justice, and with all the rancour of malevolence and fury, by many of our anonymous compilers of biographical Dictionaries. Even Dr. Lampriere, in his Universal Biography, makes the most unfounded assertion, contrary to all the authentic evidence of history, that two long hours elapsed while Servetus was burning at the stake. Is such conduct worthy of the generosity for which my countrymen are so justly renowned ? church owes you a debt of- gratitude even at the present moment, and will owe it to the latest posterity. I perfectly assent to your opinion. Your magistrates did right in punishing, after a regular trial, this blasphemer.” In this very letter Melancthon speaks of Calvin “as a lover of truth, and as having a mind free from hatred and other unreasonable passions." Melancthon, in a letter to Bullinger, writes, “I wonder at those who disapprove of the severity of the sentence of the Genevese senate against Servetus, for they were perfectly right, since he could never cease blaspheming.
What has Calvin done to merit such treatment from any of the natives of the British isles, or of Ireland herself? We are indebted for all our psalmody in the church of England to Calvin, who fostered with parental care the English exiles under the persecution of Queen Mary; and these refugees annexed the Psalms, versified and set to music, to a translation of the Scriptures in the English language, made chiefly by Coverdale, Goodman, Knox, Gibbs, Sampson, Cole, and Whittingham. This Version of the Psalms soon superseded the Te Deum, Benedicite, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, which had been retained until that time in the church of England from that of Rome. Had Calvin done nothing else for us than this, he deserved at least to have received fair treatment at our hands.
Not satisfied with this, Calvin used every effort in his power, by correspondence with Peter Martyr, Bucer, Fagius, Cranmer, Sir William Cecil, Sir John Cheke, the Lord Protector of England, and others, to have the liturgy of that church improved. He dedicated also his Commentary on Isaiah, and the Canonical Epistles, to Edward the Sixth, who is justly compared with King Josiah ; and he points out to him the great value and importance of the Scriptures, as the only certain means for subverting the kingdom of antichrist. He dedicates also one Edition of his Commentaries on Isaiah to Elizabeth. In his letter to the Protector, he strongly approves of a liturgy, since it would establish a more certain agreement of all the churches among themselves, check the instability and levity of innovators, and detect the introduction of new opinions by an immediate appeal to such a standard. He objects against prayers for the dead, the use of chrism, and extreme unction. “Religion,” he writes, “ cannot be restored to its purity while the spurious and counterfeit Christianity of popery, that
sink of pollution, is only partially drawn off, and a frightful form of the religion of Jesus is embraced for the pure and original faith." In the concluding part of his letter he points out the necessity of maintaining the honour of God in punishing fornication, adultery, cursing, and drunkenness.
Does not Calvin merit the praise of every truehearted Englishman, for recommending such reformation to the uncle of King Edward ? Nay, is it not high time that something more effectual be at present done by the state, in checking drunkenness, if it takes any interest either in the religious or moral improvement of our country ? In some parts of the kingdom, there is a public-house or a tavern for a population of one hundred inhabitants ; and, if we allow one for every three hundred, the places as receptacles for drinking will amount to seventy thousand, which is more than three times the number of all the clergymen belonging to the Established Church in Great Britain and Ireland. Have we a right to consider that government as paying the least regard to the morals or religion of a country, which sanctions and licenses such a disproportionate and unnecessary number of abodes for the drunkard, or the licentious ? Surely it is high time that something else be done for our native land, than the continued following up of a system, which raises so large a portion of the taxes of the country, by encouraging drunkenness, which destroys the health, the morals, the religion of the country, and is more effectual in destroying domestic comfort and happiness, than all other schemes of demoralization combined. How many families are there among us, which can produce some husband, brother, or son, who have fallen martyrs to this most degrading and brutalizing of all vices. When will a reformed parliament be able to