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our forefathers, by the it was done without the obation, of the governe have so much liberty, bitrary power over us.
done nothing without e established the Refors this show their respect also the religious liberty by his example and his chains of mental bondght freedom of religious
ply a powerful preacher, ; and when he must face of the promises of God. or him. In his letters and into thanksgivings, prayers, nt was fellowship with God.
lifted up his commanding me from on high. His ferus hearers. When from the ed the divine power, Christ e hearts of the hearers; the upon the assembly and stilling When they were in rage against nto silence. In his preface to hearty tribute to the eloquence se thunders of the word by which Geneva.' In a letter cautioning f his sermons, he refers also to and says, 'You are mistaken if ardour equal to your own.'
Teplice been my tempenjoy
desired me to inform you,' said the unknown, 'that he does not entirely approve of certain passages in your book 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 rewritten my book.'
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 do not hesitate to quote it. Calvin writes thus to Farel about his colleague :
... 'As 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 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 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.
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.'
The new pastor, Fabri, could join with the people of his charge in holding sacred the memory of their muchloved father, and in carrying forward their enterprises after the plans which he had adopted. Elisha was content to follow in the steps of the ascended Elijah. When the ministers met for deliberation, years afterwards, it was often said of certain measures proposed, 'So it was in our Father Farel's time;' or, “So Father Farel would have ordered it.'
The church at Neufchatel was very zealous for the doctrines which Farel had taught them, and they also insisted that they were more indebted to him than to the government. When the Helvetic Confession appeared, and a French edition was published at Geneva, the ministers of Neufchatel were notified that their church—that planted by Farel—had been overlooked. They had not been asked to sign it. They translated the slight to mean that they were not considered sound in doctrine.
Therefore they wrote to the clergy of Zurich, assuring them that they still held to the doctrines avowed by them in Farel's time. And if it was supposed that they could not adopt the Confession with the consent of their government, they have this to say: "When our forefathers, by the grace of God, received the gospel, it was done without the consent, and even with the disapprobation, of the government. For, in religious matters, we have so much liberty, that no one can exercise any arbitrary power over us. If our departed friend Farel had done nothing without such consent, he would never have established the Reformation among us.' Not only does this show their respect for the devoted missionary, but also the religious liberty he had introduced among them by his example and his doctrines. He had broken the chains of mental bondage, and, with Calvin, had brought freedom of religious opinion and worship.
This Swiss Elijah was not simply a powerful preacher, he was a man mighty in prayer ; and when he must face opposition, he firmly laid hold of the promises of God. He felt that they were meant for him. In his letters and writings he often breaks forth into thanksgivings, prayers, and intercessions. His element was fellowship with God. At the altars of Baal' he lifted up his commanding voice to heaven, and help came from on high. His fervent prayers carried away his hearers. When from the pulpit he earnestly implored the divine power, Christ came down and touched the hearts of the hearers; the Holy Dove came brooding upon the assembly and stilling the tumult of the people. When they were in rage against him, he could pray them into silence. In his preface to the Psalms, Calvin paid a hearty tribute to the eloquence of his friend, and to those thunders of the word by which he had been enchained at Geneva.' In a letter cautioning him against the length of his sermons, he refers also to the fervency of prayer, and says, “You are mistaken if you expect from all an ardour equal to your own.'