Elijah Waterman.

Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters online

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King. In his letter to Bullinger, dated May 11, 1560, he
says that he interposed his authority, to prevent the attempts
to redress themselves l^y force. In his letter to Ambrose
Blaurer, of the 2rth of May, he fully exposes the Avickedness
and impolicy of such attempts to obtain redress. He had,
from the first of his knowledge of their plans, opposed them,
and predicted the evils that would follow. Some however at
Geneva it seems encouraged the conspiracy at Amboise, who
were resolved upon appearing armed before the King, and
demanding liberty of conscience, and the removal of the
Guises from the government. At this time also, Geneva was
openly threatened with invasion. Calvin, w riting on the sub-
ject, observes, " I cannot be persuaded of this danger ; yet if
greater dangers should press us we will quietly wait the event,
relying on the protection of God. Whatever shall happen,
our heavenly father will turn it to our salvation ; and in
shewing mercy to us, will have respect to the good of the
whole church." At the close of this letter he informs Blau-
rer, that he dictated it from his bed, " where, according to
my custom, I lie down one half of my time, that I may be
able to improve with more strength the remaining hours."

In consequence of the commotions which were excited in
Provence, Languedoc and other places, the King called a
Council to be holden at Fontainbleau, about thirty-five miles
from Paris, on the 2Gth of August 15G0. The following let-
ter details the transactions of this Council.

"Calvin to Bullinger, wishes health.

** All the Nobles were lately assembled at Fontainbleau,
a place less than two days journey from Paris. A certaiti

200 LIFE OF CALVIN. 1560

Cardinal was present, who is either a wine cask or a flaggon,
for he certainl}^ bears not the figure of a man. The Guises
thought, that the splendour of this convention would be
greatly increased if they assembled, from all parts, as many
as possible of the purple habited Knights, who boast them-
selves of the order of St. Michael. Thirty made their ap-
pearance when before there were only twelve. The Chancel-
lor said much in extolling the illustrious Senate, in whom re*
sided all the authority of the kingdom. This introduction
was a piece of gross flatter3\ He afterwards discoursed upon
the state of the kingdom ; and observed that since there was
need of remedies to cure the diseases, the cause of the evils
must be investigated. Here he ended his speech as if, desti-
tute of counsel, he would implore the aid of Physicians. The
King designedly asked the opinion of the Bishop of Valence,
who was among the lowest Counsellors. The Guises were anx-
ious to awaken the private feelings of all, and that every one
should be suddenly attacked, as should appear best for theu'
purpose. The Admiral arose, contrary to their expectation,
and handed the king a petition in which those Avho desired the
pure worship of God in Normandy requested, that they should
be permitted to meet in the day time, that they might avoid
the various calumnies, to which they were exposed horn the
circumstance of their being obliged to hold secret and nightly
meetings. He was asked from whom he obtained the petition.
He answered, that he had been anxious for the publick good,
and to know more fully what the Reformers desired : That
there were fifty thousand men whose subscription might be
obtained if it should please the King. Coligni and the Arch-
bishop of Vienne were the only two who spoke on this subject
with energy. These things being heard by the Council, the
greater part of whom were silent voters, the Duke «f Guise
fully vented himself in a manner that would have been in-
tolerable any where else. Take an instance of his stupidity.

1560 LIFE OF CALVIN. 201

When the Admiral said, that he was not pleased with the
barbarian custom, that the King should be surrounded by an
army instead of being protected by his body guards ; that
this education was not worthy of France, as the young King
ought not to be brought up in the habit of guarding him-
self against his subjects, as though he was in fear of those,
whose favour he ought to secure and cherish by his good
will ; the Duke answered, that the king did not need nurs-
es and foster-fathers, inasmuch as he is educated in the plen-
itude of his own virtue, (I repeat his very words,) that if he
is to be instructed, his mother is sufticient for this oflice. He
boldly said also, that whatever a thousand Councils might
decree, he ^\ as determined to follow the institutions of his
ancestors. His brother, the Cardinal Lorrain, was more
grave and prudent. He said it was in vain to ask from Coun-
cils for any change in doctrines ; that it was unlawful to call
into controversy Avhat had before come from the Holy Spirit ;
and that if there were corruptions in morals, the Bishops
ought to be permitted to correct them fully. He was fretted
by what the Archbishop of Vienne said, that it was a re-
proach, and a shameful sign of confusion, that Bishops should
leave their Churches, to follow the Courts of Princes ; and by
his entreating the King with much earnestness, that the
Churches should not be deprived of their Pastors, under the
vain pretext of the publick good. Hence this rule was
adopted, that no one should be bound by law or necessity,
to attend the Court, but each one should act as he pleased. —
You ask, what was the result ? The Archbishop of Vienne
retired home. After four or five days were consumed in
vain consultations, it was determined, that there should be a
meeting of the States in the month of December. The
Bishops are summoned to meet on the 20th of January, not
to decree any thing, ])ut to consider what is to be proposed
fo the Conncil. They had hitherto obstinately opposed a


202 LIFE OF CALYIN. 1560

meeting of the States ; and they have now cunningly contriv-
ed to elude the hopes of those who expected some alleviation
of their evils from this assembly. This exception is added,
That each Province shall examine, before its own Prefects,
what business it is expedient to treat of in the Council.
This affords no liberty at all ; as they must choose their de-
puties under the direction of those Governours. Those flat-
terers therefore will attend, who are purchased and nominat-
ed by the Prefect. How frivolous and trifling this ostensible
Council is, you may easily learn from the formula of the edict
which convenes it, whicli some one of your friends will inter-
pret to you. In the mean time the truth of the Gospel is
breaking forth. In Normandy, our brethren now preach
publickly, for private houses will not contain three or four
thousand men. In Poictiers, Saintonge, and in all Aqui-
taine, they enjoy greater liberty. Languedoc, Provence and
Dauphine have many intrepid disciples of Christ. A^'hy the
Cardinal ceases, he has clearly professed, That he may in a
short time detect the impudence of the Fanaticks. But the
Lord, I hope, will not only bring to light his wicked pur-
poses, but also dissipate his impious endeavours. Fare-
well, most respected man and highly esteemed brother. —
May the Lord always preserve all yours in health, &c.
« Geneva, October 1, 1560."

The opinion of Osiander, that man was justified by the es-
sential righteousness of God, was at this time controverted by
Francis Stancarus, Professor at Koningsburg. Of a warm
and zealous mind, he pursued the other extreme, and main-
tained, that Jesus Christ is Mediator only according to his
human nature. His opinion was condemned as heretical by
several Synods, and confuted by Melancthon, and by Peter
Martyr. The Churches of Poland however, being much
disturbed by these disputes, made application to the Consis-


lory of Geneva for their opinion. Calvin addressed a letter
to the Poles, and in a short admonition exposed the fallacy
and pernicious nature of this errour. He also guarded
thera against the heresy of the Tritheists, as defended ])y
Blandrata and his adherents. He la])oured to confirm them
in the belief, that Christ was IMediator in both nat ures, with-
out multiplying his divinity.*

The United Brethren, commonly called W'aldenses, who
had retired into Bohemia, to enjoy liberty of worship, and
purity of doctrines, addressed a letter to Calvin by two of
their number. In consequence of the disputes in the Po-
lanese Churches, they hesitated a])out extending to them the
right hand of fellowship. They also had some difficulty
among themselves, as to the Lord's Supper, as their confession
asserted, that the bread and wine were the true body of
Christ. Calvin replied to them, that it was their duty to as-
sist the Polanese ; and so much the more, as they, in common
with other Churches, were labouring under difficulties among
themselves ; and were at the same time surrounded by the
enemies of the pure doctrines. Speaking of the Augsburg
Confession, he says, " We know, how plausible the conduct
of those is, who, under the cover of the Augsljurg Confession,f
taking their peace and quietness, escape troubles and hatreds
and even the cross itsel f. But what the author himself, Plii-
lip IMelancthon, thought on this point, is no secret with you ;
and perhaps the improbity of those j)crsons, who endeavour
to draw obscurity over the clearest light, may compel us to

• See Calvini Opuscula p. 587. Amst. Ed.

f This was the first publick confession of faith by the Protestants of
Germany. It was drawn up by Mclancthon, ;ijul presented to tlic P'mpc-
rour, Charles V. in the Diet of Augsburg-, June 25, 1530. The confession
contains 28 cliapters, 21 of which are employed in staling- the opinions of
the Protestants, on the great points of doctrine. Tlie 7 hist are an exhibi-
tion of tlie erronrp and abuses of the Romisli Church. Mosb. vol. 3 p rv71-

20]i LIFE OF CALVIN. 1500

make it known to the world. Nor yet, although we reverent-
ly cherish the memory of Melancthon, do we rest upon his
authority for confuting our adversaries ; but we Avould only
show how unjustly they cover themselves with the Augsburg
Confession, whose opinions are totally foreign from the mind
of its author." — In his letter to the Polish Princes, in 1557,
which was the ground of this application from the United
Brethren, Calvin says, " A part, as we hear, embrace the
Augsburg Confession ; others tenaciously retain the doctrine
of the Waldenses ; and others desire a pure and more simple
explanation of the mystery. As to the Augsburg Confession,
there is no just reason, why the servants of Christ should
contend among themselves, only let the genuine sense be
agreed upon." In his letter to Schalinger, Pastor of Frank-
fort, Calvin says, " I do not reject the Augsburg Confession?
which I long since subscribed, volens ac libens, rvillingly and
freely^ as the author himself explained it." The same dispo-
sition to cherish union and peace, which induced Calvin to
subscribe the Augsburg Confession himself, influenced him to
say to the Polish Princes, " That in unity of faith and agree-
ment among brethren, consisted the prosperity of the Church."
On the same principle, he urges the A\^aldenses to cherish a
mutual agreement with other Churches, as they all had one
Father in heaven, and were all united in one body under
Christ, the head ; and that the best bond, to cherish and pre-
tcrve concord among brethren was not to admit, with too
easy credulity, unfavourable reports about each other. ^'

In consequence of the persecutions in France, during the
reigns of Henry and Francis, many of the French Fteformers
took refuge in England, under tlie protection of Queen Eliza-
beth. From motives of policy, the English Coml gave assis-
tance to the Prince of Conde, and his party, in their contests

' In Epist. Calvini p. 113, 115, et p. \^B. Amst. Edit.

1560 LIFE OF CALVIN. 205

with the Guises, to secure the toleration of their principles and
worship. By dividing the French at home, they prevented
them from affordhig that aid to Mary, Queen of Scotland,
which might have enabled her to maintain and csta])Iiii-h her
claims to the dominion of that country. # jMen and money
were furnished by Elizabeth to the Reformers in France, and
those ^^ ho emigrated to England were kindly received, and
tolerated in that form of worshij), which she was at this time*
assisting their brethren at home to establish. Under such
circumstances, the Pres!)yterian form of w orsliip w^as introdu-
ced and tolerated in England. By the direction of Edmund
Grindal, Bishop of London, the emigrants ^vrote to Calvin to
send them a JMinister, who should establish a Church uj)on
the same principles of doctrine and order of worship m ith
the Genevese. Nicholas Gallasius came to London for that
purpose. Grindal and other distinguished characters at
Court procured for them the Church of St. Anthony near
merchant taylor's hall.f By Gallasius, Cahin wrote to

" Calvin to t]ie Bisnor of London.

« Most excellent and revered Sir, although you do not ex
pect that 1 should give you thanks, for the pious services you
have rendered the Church of Christ, yet I should accuse liiy-
self of unreasonable ingratitude, if I .should not acknowledge
myself under obligation to you, for so respectfully taking up-
on yourself the care of our people, who reside in the chitf
city of your diocese ; not only that, througli ihQ favour of
the Queen, liberty is given them of the pm-e worship of God,
but also that they might call from tiiis city a LilUihil Vaster.
But since you have cheerfully, of your own accord, ask^'d

* See Burnet's liist. Uefonn. Anno. Ij -TO.
t See llcvUn, Hist ric*bvt. p. 217.

206 LIFE OF CALVIN. 1560

and exhorted me to be careful to chuse a proper Pastor for
them, I need not recommend to your protection and patron-
age those for whose welfare I sec you arc so anxious. As you
hive testified already your rare and singular love of piety, in
assisting them so liberally, so it will be the part of your con-
stancy to continue your favour towards them to the end. Re-
specting ourselves, as the situation appeared to demand a
man of the most excellent gifts, and your guests expressly
wished us to send them some one of our connection, we pre-
fcned rather to deprive ourselves, than not to accommodate
them according to their pious request. We have yielded to
them accordingly, our brother Nicholas Gallasius, one of the
three whom they at first named. It is with regret, that he
suffers himself to be torn from us, by whom he knows himself
to be greatly beloved. He leaves this place with reluctance,
where his labours have been no less fruitful than faithful ;
yet overcome by your exhortations, he has accepted of this
office, hoping that he might be of more extensive service m
enlarging the kingdom of Christ. Necessity alone obliges us
to dismiss him; as we feared that without his presence,
sufficient provision would not be made for that tender and
yet unsettled Church. His departure is no small loss to this
place, where he is held in high estimation, and where he has
always conducted as becomes a servant of Christ. To me
he is a dear and familiar friend ; and I could not consent to
his departure without severe sorrow. But any thing is to
be suffered to accommodate our destitute and persecuted
brethren, with the assistance they so anxiously request. On
this account, I am the more solicitous that he may find his
situation with you so agreeable as to lighten his burdens and
.olacc him under the trials arising from this change of resi-
dence. When, by your kindness, he shall be more intimately
luiown to you, I trust, Reverend Sir, that you will find h.m
cifficientlv amiable without the recommendations of others.

1500 LIFE OF CAI.VIN. 207

And now, if I have any interest in your favour, I entreat you
again and again, to continue your kindness and benevolence
to one to "whom you see me so strongly attached. 1 am sin-
cerely grieved, that the Churches throughout the kingdom
are not yet so quietly settled as all good men wished, and
had at first expected. To overcome obstacles, indefatigable
exertions are required. It is now expedient, and therefore
the Queen ought to know it, that you should willingly dis-
miss, nay even reject whatever savours of earthly domination ;
that it may ]>e evident that your authority is lawful, and
that it is given you of God to exercise your spiritual func-
tions. This will be her true excellency and majesty. Then
she will hold, under Christ the head, the highest degree of
dignity, if she stretch forth her supporting hand to the law-
ful Pastors, to enable you to fulfil the duties which are en-
joined upon you. But as your prudence neither requires ad-
vice, nor your magnanimity excitements, I will only have re-
course to prayers, and entreat the Lord, most excellent and
revered Sir, to govern you w ith his Spirit, sustain you with
his strength, defend you with his shield, and bless your holy
labom-s. My colleagues respectfully salute you.
" Geneva, May 15, 1560."

The violent measures of Francis had driven the Reformers
Tn his kingdom almost to despair of their cause. But while
the prospect was still darkening, and severer persecutions
were expected to follow the meeting of the three Estates at Me-
lun in December, Francis died suddenly on the 5th of that
month. This event relieved them from their immediate ap-
prehensions ; and they subsequently found seasons of enlarge-
ment and comparative repose.

Francis II. was succeeded by his brother Charles IX. at
the age of ten years. Scarcely had this child mounted the,
tluronc when letters, Avritten iu his name, were brought to Gt-


neva by a herald, in w hich he complained, that persons from
that city were exciting disturbances in his kingdom. He de-
manded that they sliould be immediately recalled, or Jie
should not pass over such a just cause of revenge. Calvin,
being summoned by the Senate, answered in his own name,
and in that of his colleague?, that at the request of the
French Churches, they had sent men of sound faith and holy
life, well qualified to assist them in regulating their Churches,
and defending the sacred cause ; that they had done this,
not to disturb the kingdom, but to promote the Gospel of
peace ; and that if any other accusations were made against
them, he and his colleagues were ready to answer their accu-
sers before the King. This business was proceeded in no
farther, as the management of alTairs in France fell into the
hands of the King's mother, Catherine de Medicis, who held
the regency.

In September, Calvin dedicated his Pr^electiones on Daniel
to all the pious norshippcrs of God, who were labouring to
build the Church of Christ in France, He affectionately ad-
dressed his countrymen, reminding them that although he
had been twenty-six years in a foreign city, he had not been
unmindful of their welfare ; that he had assisted their
Churches by his publick labours, and by his private exertions
had endeavoured to awaken the drows}-, to stimulate the
slothful, to encourage the fearful, and to strengthen the wa-
vering to perseverance ; that at this critical moment, he ded-
icated to them his Lectures on the Prophecy of Daniel, to
give them new strength from the ancient examples of faitli
and constancy, that they might not be disheartened amidst
the storms and tempests which so violently assailed them.
And altliougli at no period, had the prospects of the reformed
Churches in France been so promising, yet Calvin, as with a
prophetick voice, declares to them, that contests and trials, far
more srvrre than they apprehended, awaited them.

1561 LIFE OF CALVIN. 209

The conference at Poissy between the Romish Prelates and
the reformed Ministers was now in session. In this assem-
bly Beza presented to Charles IX. the confession of faith
adopted by the French Churches. " This was the confes-
sion," says Mr. Quick in his Synodicon, " which was drawn
up by the Rev. IMr. Calvin, and was owned in their first na-
tional Synod held at Paris, in the year 1559, and presented
unto Francis II. first at Amboise^ in behalf of all the profes-
sors of the reformed religion in that kingdom ; afterwards
to Charles IX. at the conference of Foissy. It was a se-
cond time presented to Charles ; and at length published by
the Pastors of the French Churches, with a preface to all
other evangelical Pastors, in the year 1566. It was also
most solemnly ratified in the national Synod, held the first
time at Rochell, 1571, the year before the massacre of Bar-
tholomew ; and signed by Jane, ^ueen of Navarre, Henri/,
Prince of Beam, Henri/ de Bourbon, Prince of Conde, Lewis,
Count of Nassau, and Sir Gaspard de Coligni, Lord High
Admiral of France."#

Among the many distinguished persons of the Reformers,
who were present at the conference of Poissy, were Theodore
Beza from Geneva, Peter Martyr from Zurich, and Nicholas
Gallasius from the reformed Church in London. The let-
ters which Beza wrote to Calvin, during his continuance in
France, afi[brd a very interesting account of the transactions of
the conference, and the disordered state of religious matters
in that kingdom. f

During its sessions at Poissy, Francis Baldwin, a Lawyer,
who had several times changed sides in his avowed religious
opinions, being suborned by Cardinal Lorrain, oSered for
sale in the palace a book in w hich, under the mask of modera-
tion, the corruptions of Popery were artfully defended. Cal-

* Quick'g Synodicon vol. 1, p. 15. -f ^" Epist. Calvini.


210 LIFE OF CALVIN. 1562

vin, being informed by Beza of this circumstance, immedi-
ately wrote an answer, in which he exposed both the decep-
tion of the work, and the character of Baldwin.#

In the month of January, 1562, was pubhshed the first
edict which had given any tolerance to the reformed Church-
es. Notwithstanding all the persecutions they had suifered,
the number of them had increased to tivo thousand one hun-
dred andjifty.-\ After the adoption of the confession of faith
drawn up by Calvin, they were by degrees designated by the
term Calvhiistick ; and their doctrines, by their enemies,
were termed Calvinism.

The Duke of Guise, the leader of the Popish party, being
at Vassi in Champaign, his attendants " picked a quarrel"
with the reformed who Avere assembled in their meeting-
house, " sn)ging psalms, and fell upon and killed near sixty,
and wounded near two hundred." The civil animosities and
the wars which followed upon this outrage, committed
against the edict of the King, continued till march 1563.

These contentions were extremely distressing to Calvin, who
was now considered as the father of the French Churches.
His bodily infirmities were increased by his constant labours
in writing, dictating, and discharging still not only his own
official duties, but also those of the President of the College,
in the absence of Beza. The doctrine of the French Church-
es being openly attacked, and also secretly defamed to the
German Princes, by the Papists of France, Calvin, in the
name of the Prince of Conde, drew up a concise account of
their confession of faith, which was presented to the states of

* Calvlnl Opuscula, p. 304, Arnst. edit. Responsio ad Versipellem, &c.
The propriety of this appellation will appear from the fact stated by Anto-
nius Guerinius in his letter to Baldwin, You have changedyour religion seven
times -within these txventyyearS) Septies his vlginti annis religionem mutasti.
Bayle Art. Baudouin. Notes.

t Dupin 16 cent. B. 3, p. 190, B. 4, p. 400.

1563 LIFE OF CALVIN. ^ ^11

the Empire, at Frankfort, as a vindication from those calum-

Premonitory impressions are to be received with caution.
The busy and fantastick power of imagination, especially in
a disordered body, may lead to visionary apprehensions
which are by no means to be regarded as tlie premonitions
of Providence. But to reject all statements of this kind, is
contradicting the experience of some, and the belief of others,
sanctioned by the testimony of corresponding events. On
the IWi of December, which was the Sabbath, the wind
having been unusually high for two days, and Calvin con-
fined to his bed, to a number of his friends Avho were with
him, he says, / knoiv not what it i^, but I have thought that I
heard a warlike sound of drums through the night. I was not
able to persuade myself that it jvas a delusion. I beseech
you, let us pray, for something of great moment has taken place.
In a few days, the news of the battle of Dreux, which ^vas
fought between the Prince of Conde and the Duke of Guise,

Online LibraryElijah WatermanMemoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters → online text (page 17 of 34)