Elijah Waterman.

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

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This intimate of Perrin, who is ahnost the very shadow of
the man, repeated this testimony four times.

Let those men deny that they were justly condemned, who
proposed to butcher, in the midst of tlie assembly of the peo-
pie, and in the holy place, two of the Syndicks, some of the
Senators, and some of the most wortliy ^nd innocent of the
citizens. I say nothing of myself, as they take it for grant-
ed that. I am their enemy. What Perrin said, about my
conspiring tlieir ruin, is not worthy of an answer.

The Senate have not as yet pronounced sentence against
VandelJius. But his guilty conscience has driven him from
the city. From these facts it will be inanifest, that in this
great tumult, the same moderation has been regarded, as is
usual in the most quiet state of affairs ; and that nothing
has been done against those wicked men, either artfully or
without due consideration. If you were here, you would
say, that our Senate have proceeded with too much forbear-
ance and remissness. But it is better to err on this side
than on the other, lest any one absurdly complain, that it
was cruel, and done in the heat of passion. God grant, that
the remembrance of so great a deliverance may awaken us to
unremitting gratitude, and bind us with diligent assiduity
to the duties of our office. When I began to write this hU
ter, I had no expectation of its being carried by our brother
Othoman. I or although he had spoken of his journey, he
was then uncertain, whether he should go directly to Zurich,
and I had determined to procure another messenger. It hap-
pens wdl, and affords me much pleasure, as he will be able
to explain more fully any circumstance which I may have
expressed with too much obscurity, from endeavouring to be
concise. You have twice exhorted me to patience in my sta-
tion ; but I think I have borne very patiently so many indig-
nities, and passed them in silence, that while I restrained my


passions, ,1 appeared to be wanting in resolution. I wish
by my silence, and apparent indifference, I could have pacifi-
ed those who do not cease to hate me, nor to rage against all
our good citizens. But although they are the more enraged
on account of my moderation, I am determined to pursue
one steady course. I am happy to hear that N has ob-
tained an office in which he may be useful. I\Iay the Lord
grant him grace to discharge its duties with faithfulness.
Salute, in my name, your fellow Ministers, your wife and fa-
mily. Farewell, illustrious man and respected brother.
May the Lord continue to direct you by his Spirit, and
bless your labours.


Geneva, June 15, 1555.


John Calvin to Sir William Cecil, Secretary to the
Queen of England.

For writing to you familiarly, most accomplished man, I
shall not make a long apology, although I am personally un-
known to you. Relying on the testimony of some pious per-
sons, who have declared to me your generosity of heart, I
trust that you will be disposed to receive my letter with
pleasure ; especially when you shall discover from the peru-
sal my intention in Avriting. Since the awful darkness a\ hich
had almost stupified the minds of pious men is dispersed, and
the clear light has suddenly shone forth beyond all hope, it is
reported that you, possessing distinguished favour with hei-
Majesty the Queen, have endeavoured diligently to remove
the profligate superstitions of Popery, which had accumula-
ted through four years in England,^ so that tlie sincere

* This period embraces the persecuting reign of Queen Mary, who suc-
ceeded Edward VI. October, 1553, and died November, 1558. Cecil was



doctrines of the Gospel, and the pure and entire worship of
God, again flourish. I have now therefore to exhort you
freely and openly to commence your warfare for Christ.
This one thing however remains, that what you do you
should proceed to do with the greatest activity and most in-
vincible constancy. Your lioly labours should neither be
broken by any troubles, difficulties, contests or terrours, nor
even in the least degree retarded. I doubt not, indeed, but
that obstacles sometimes encounter you ; and that dangers
rise full before your eyes, which would dishearten the most
resolute, unless God should sustain them by the most won«
derful power of his Spirit. This is the cause, for the defence
of which it is not lawful for us to decline the most arduous
labours. During the time that the publick place of execu-
tion was appropriated for burning the children of God, you
yourself remained silent among others. At least then, since
greater liberty is restored by the singular and incredible fa-
vour of God, it becomes you to take courage ; and if you
was, during that period, too timid, you may now compensate
that loss by the ardour of your zeal. I know very well, that
a preposterous haste is injurious ; and that many retard their
progress by an inconsiderate and precipitate zeal, with which
they would leap in a moment to the end of their race. But
on the other hand, it is faithfully to be considered, that to
maintain the whole truth and pure devotion of the Gospel, is
the work which God assigns us, and which must not be sloth-
fully undertaken. From the present state of things, you are
better able to judge, what steps are proper to be pursued, and
what degree of moderation is to be exercised. But you will
remember, that all delay, with however specious colours it
may be covered, ought to excite your suspicion. One fear, I

first promoted by the Duke of Somerset, and became a distinguished Law-
yer ; and by his moderate and temporizing conduct, during Mary's bloody
reign, he escaped punishment, and continued in England, till, on the acces^
sion of Elizabeth, he was made Secretary of State.


conjecture, is from popular tumults, since among the no])le3
there are many who would kindle up the fire of sedition ;
and if the English become tumultuous among themselves,
their neighbours are at hand, >\ ho anxiously watch for \\ hat-
ever opportunity may oifer for their purpose. But as her
most serene Majesty has been wonderfully raised to the
throne, by the hand of God, she cannot otherwise prove her
gratitude, than by shaking oil all delays by her prompt ala-
crity, and surmounting all impediments l^y her magnanimi-
ty. Since it can hardly be otherwise, but that, in the pre-
sent turbulent and confused state of things, her attention
should be suspended among important affairs, her mind per-
plexed and sometimes wavering ; I have ventured to exhort
her, that, having entered the right course, she should perse-
vere with constancy. Whether I have done this prudently
or not, let others judge. If, by your endcavouj:s, my admo-
nition produces the desired effect, I shall not repent of hav-
ing given her that counsel. Consider also, most illustrious
3ir, that God has placed you in that degree of favour and
dignity which you hold, that you might be wholly atten-
tive to this concern, and stretch every nerve to the accom-
plishment of this work. And lest slothfulness by any means
creep upon you, let it now and then come into your mind,
of what great moment are these two things: First, in what
manner that religion, which was miseral^ly fallen away ; that
doctrine of salvation, which Avas adulterated by abominable
falsehoods ; that worship of God, which was polluted w ith
defilements, may recover their lustre, and the Church be
cleansed from this a])omination ? Secondly, how the chil-
dren of God among you may be free to invoke his name in
sincerity ; and how those who are dispersed may be again
collected ? Farewell, most excellent man, sincerely respected
by me. May the Lord guide you by his Spirit, protect and
enrich you with all good gifts.
Geneva, January ^9, 1559.

39j6 life of CALVIN. betters,


Calvin to Olevianus.#

As it may perliaps be of some assistance to you, I will give
you a summary of our mode of government in this Church.

1. The Ministers are chosen from our College. A pas-
gage of scripture is given them, by the interpretation of
which they exhibit a specimen of their abilities ; then an
examination is held upon the principal heads of doctrine ;
after this they preach before us, as though they were in the
presence of the people. Two Senators are also present. If
their qualifications are approved, we present them to the
Senate with the testimony. It is in the power of this
body not to admit them, if they judge them to be unqua-
lified. If tliey are received, (as they have been always hi-
therto,) their names are published coram populo^ in presence
of the people ; and any one who knows any thing against
them is at liberty to object to them within eight days.
Those who are approved by the tacit sufi'rages of ztll, we
recommend to God and to the Church.

2. We baptize infants only at publick meetings ; because
it is absurd that this solemn reception of them by the Churchy
should have only a few witnesses. The parents, unless some-
thing prevents, are directed to be present, that they may
answer in the covenant together with the fdejussoribus, sure-

* Caspar Olevlanus, pf Treves, first studied jurisprudence ; but in at-
tempting to save from drowning some rash young men, who had upset their
boat, he fell into extreme danger, and made a vow, that if God would deli-
ver him, he would, if called to it, preach the Gospel. ' He escaped, and be-
gan first to read the Commentaries of Calvin ; he then went to Geneva, and
studied theology under the instruction of that eminent Divine. ; In 1560, he
was Professor at Heidleberg, in the University of Wisdom, from which place
he wrote to Calvin for the laws of tlie Genevese Consistory. The above letter
Is the answer of Calvin. Olevianus died Minister of Herborn in Germany,
158r, aged 57. Melchior Adams, in Vita Oleviani, p. 596.



iics.^ No one, however, is admitted as a surety/, unless of
the same religious profession ^\ith us. Excommunicated
persons are also prohibited this honour.

3. No one is admitted to tlie holy Supper of Christ, ])e-
fore making a pubhck profession of his faith. For this pur-
pose, we have annually four examinations, at Mliich the
youth are interrogated, and the proficiency of each one is
known. For although at the Catechism on each Lord's day,
they begin before to give some testimony, ytt it is not law-
ful for them to come to the holy table, until it is knoM n, by
the opinion of the Minister, that they have made some to-
lerable proficiency in the principal doctrines of religion. As
it respects those who are older, we repeat annually the in-
spection of each family. We distribute among ourselves the
different parts of the city, so that we can examine in order eve-
ry ward. The Minister is accompanied by one of the Church
Elders. At this time the new inhabitants are examined.
Those who have been once received, at the Supper , are omitted ;
except that we examine whether their families are in peace and
good order; whether they have contentions with their neigh-
bours ; whether they are given to intemperance ; and ^\■hethcr
they are indifferent and slothful in attending publick worship.

4. For the discipline of morals, this method is observed :
Twelve Church Elders are annually chosen ; two from tlie

* St. Augustine, who died A. D. 430, says that this custom was adopted
In the Church, on account of infant slaves presented by their masters;
of infants whose parents were dead ; and of those whom tlieir parents
abandoned. In all ordinary cases, parents answered for their chiklren.
Wall's Hist. Rap. vol 1. In the reformed Churches, as tlierc was no com-
mandment from God for sureties at baptism, they made no rule io bind pa-
rents to have them, except in cases where one or both parents were Papists,
or when children of Saracens, or of the Gypsies, were oilercd. So also it
ivas required, that a motlier, or a woman, in presenting a child, should have
a surety, to secure the rclij^ious education of Uie child. The Trcsbyterian
and Congregational Ciuuches now consider the Church, whicli receives a
child, to be tlie surety, together wiUx the parent or presenting person, for
rhe religious education of the child. See Quick's Synod, vol. 1. p. 45.

a9S LIFE OF CALVIN, i:etteks-

upper Senate ; the other ten from the Council of two hun-
dred, either natives or naturalized citizens. Those who
honestly and faithfully perform their duty are not remov-
ed from office, unless when occupied by other concerns of the
Republick. After the election, before they take their seats,
their names are published to the people, that if any one
should know them to be unworthy, he may declare it in season.

5. No one is summoned to the ecclesiastical tribunal, un»
less by the general opinion of all the board ; therefore each
one is asked, whether he has any thing to offer ? No one is
summoned, unless he has refused compliance with private
admonitions, or brought scandal on the Church by an evil
example. For instance, blasphemers, drunkards, fornicators,
strikers, quarrellers, dancers, who lead in balls, and such like,
are called before the Censura Morwn, Those who commit light-
er offences are dismissed with the correction of mild reproof.
Greater sins are reproved with sharper severity ; for the Mi-
nister excludes them, at least for a short time, from the
Supper, until, upon their asking forgiveness, they are recon-
ciled to the Church. If any one obstinately despises the au-
thority of the Church, unless he desist from his stubbornness
before a year is past, he is thrown into exile by the Senate
for a year. If any one proves more perverse, the Senate
takes up the cause and inflicts the punishment. Those who,
for the sake of redeeming their lives from the Papists, have
abjured the doctrines of the Gospel, or attended mass, are
ordered to appear before the Church. The Minister from
the pulpit sets forth the matter. Then the excommunicat-
ed person falls on his knees, and humbly implores forgive-
ness. Such is the procedure of the Consistory, that it in no
way interferes with the course of civil jurisdiction. And
that the people may not complain of any unreasonable ri-
gour, the Ministers are not only subject to the same punish-
ments, but if they commit any thing worthy of excommuni-
cation, they are also at the same time deposed.

Geneva, November 5, 15G0.




NO. 1— PAGE 1.

MaThurin Cordier, or Corderius, was a man of distin-
guished erudition and probity. Eminently skilled in the Latin
language, he taught it with singular success, and with affec-
tionate address, laboured to impress on the minds of his pu-
pils the principles of true wisdom. He spent a long life in
teaching youth at Paris, Nevers, Bordeaux, Geneva, Neuf-
chatel, Lausanne, and again at Geneva, where he died, Sep-
tember 8th, 1564, aged 85. Such was the vigour of Corde-
rius, that he instructed the scholars of the sixth form, till
within three or four days of his death. Calvin highly re-
spected Corderius, and dedicated to him his Commentary on
the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, in the year 1550. Cal-
vin speaks of him as a man of excellent piety and learning.
After mentioning the circumstance of his father's sending
him to Paris, and the strict discipline of Cordier in laying
the foundation of the Latin correctly and thoroughly, he
says, I'hia I would testify to fiosterityy that if any benefit
shall flow to them from my ivritings^ they jnust^ in a great
measure^ acknowledge it to be derived from your instructions.
Corderius studied divinity for some time at Paris, in the
College of Navarre, about 1528. He however returned to
his former profession of Grammarian ; and became exten-
sively Useful in promoting the study of the Latin, in the
School of the Reformers. At this period, the Latin lan-
guage was cultivated and advanced to a degree of purity
which has been rarely equalled by any writer since. The
true friends of the Gospel have been ever anxious to have tht •

400 LIFE OF CALVIN. uotes.

minds of people enlightened, and the scriptures diffused.
The Reformers were the strenuous supporters of literature.
They were master workmen in the temple of theology.
Their labours were immense, and the effects produced as-
tonishing. And the familiar Colloquies of Corderius
were then a stepping stone to that ascent of knowledge, by
which Calvin and others reached the highest elevation, to
the benefit of the Church of Christ.

NO. 2— PAGE 2.

The Tonsure in the Romish Church may be received after
the age of seven years. — It is the first part of the ceremony
of ordination. The candidate presents himself in a black
cassock before the Bishop, with a surplice on his right
arm, and a lighted taper in his hand. He kneels, and the
Bishop, standing covered with his mitre, repeats a prayer
and several verses from the scripture. The Bishop then sit-
ting, cuts five different parcels of hair from the head of the can-
didate, who repeats these words — The Lord in my inheritance.
Putting off his mitre, the Bishop then says a prayer over the
person tonsured — an anthem is sung by the choir ; then a
prayer, in the middle of which the Bishop puts the surplice
on the candidate for orders, and says, may the Lord clothe thee
with thy new name. The ceremony is closed by the candi-
date's presenting the wax taper to the Bishop, who gives
him his blessing. Dr. Hurd's Rites and Cerem. p. 282.

NO. 3— PAGE 3.

Peter Robert Olivetan was the first who translated
the scriptures from the Hebrew into the French language.
The Preface to the Old Testament, addressed to all the Em-
perours, Kings, Princes and nations, subject to the dominion
of Christ, was written by Calvin, and bears date at Neufcha-
tel, 1535. The Preface to the New Testament was also writ-
ten by him, and bears the same date. They were originally
"Written in French. They are to be found in the Latin,
among Calvin's Epistles, in the 9th Vol. of his works. Oli-
vetan's translation is known among the learned by the title
of the Bible of Neufchatel. Olivetan died in 1536, at Rome,
and was supposed to be poisoned by the Papists, on account
«f this translation of the scriptures from the Hebrew.


NO. 4— PAGE 4.

Melchior Wolmar was a native of Switzerland. Like
Corderius in the Latin, Wolmar was eminent as an instruc-
tor in the Greek language. He wrote Commentaries on the
first two books of the Iliad of Homer. While he continued
at Bourges, he not only instructed Calvin in the Greek, bul.
was, for several years, the instructor of Theodore Bczu.
Calvin dedicated to Wolmar his Commentary on the 2d Epis-
tle to the Corinthians, dated 1546. In this he expresses his
great obligation to him for his assistance in the study of the
Greek, and also in the acquisition of religious knowledge.
Calvin also mentions, that he should have continued his
course of studies at the University of Bourges, if he had not
been recalled by the death of his father. After leaving
France, Wolmar was Professor of Law at Tubingen in Ger-
many, and died at Eisenach in 1561, aged 64.

NO. 5— PAGE 6.

Margaret de Valois, Queen of J\'<2T'crre.— This learned
and illustrious woman, the decided friend and patroness of
the early Reformers, died at the Castle Odos, Dec. 2d, 1549,
aged 57. She left a daughter by the name of Jane, who
had imbibed her religious principles, and succeeded to her
title, and was an unwavering friend to the reformed Church.
Jane, Queen of Navarre, signed the confession of faith
drawn up by Calvin, and which had been adopted by the re-
fovmed Churches of France, in 1559. She was mother of
Henry IV. of France, and died June 10, 1572, about two
months before the horrid massacre of St. Bartholomew V
day, which was August 24th.

NO. 6.— PAGE 7.

James Fader, Stapulensis, of Estaples, a small borough.
upon the sea coast of Picardy. He was of small stature and
low extraction, but of great genius and extensive learning.
He was educated in the university of Paris ; and from inde-
pendency of mind laboured to improve the course of studies,
and to revive the pursu" of solid learning purified from the
barbarism of the schools. After studying philosophy and
the mathematicks, he applied himself to divnuiy, and took
his degree of Doctor ; but being suspected of favouring the
new doctrines, he was obliged to leave Paris. Tie retired to




Meaux, where lie was patronized by the Bishop, William
Bii90Rnet, who was a friend to science and to the Reformers.
But persecution drove Faber to Blois and to Guienne, till
Margaret of Navarre took him under her patronage. He
lived atNerac, and died in 1537, aged about 100. During his
residence with the Queen, she sent him to 3trasburg, to con-
fer with Capito and Bucer relative to the reformation of the
Church. The day before his death he is said to have lament-
ed, that he had not taught the truth at the fieril of his Ufe-^ as
others had do7ic ; and that he had had the weakiiess to stay in that
place of refuge. She endeavoured to comfort him ; but he
said, I have nothing to do now, after I have made my will,
but to die and go to God. He informed the Queen that he
had made her his heir, on condition that she should give all
he had to the poor. He retired to his bed and expired with-
out a struggle. Dupin, 16 Cent. Book 3, p. 426, and Bayle.
and Rces' Cyclo.

NO. 7— PAGE 8.

Gerard Roussel of Picardy, William Farel of Dau-
phiny, James Faber, Stapulensis, and Arnoldus Roussel,
brother of Gerard, first preached the doctrines of the Refor-
mation in France, under the patronage of IVilliam Bri^onnety
Bishop of Meaux, in 1523. These Divines, as Dupin calls
them, gathered the first reformed Church at Meaux, and or-
dained Peter le Clerk, who preached and administered the
Sacrament till their numbers being increased to about 400,
they were discovered. Le Clerk was, by the Papists, whip-
ped, branded and banished, and after preaching at Metz, was
burnt. The four Divines were banished. All which took
place in the year 1523.

NO. 8-.PAGE 11.

Clement Marot, through the means of the Princess Re-
nee, obtained leave of Francis I. to return from Ferrara into
France. He was a favourite of the King's, and in his day
was called " the Poet of Princes, and the Prince of Poets."
He versified 30 of the Psalms in the French language, and
dedicated them to the King, who was highly pleased, and re-
quested Marot to proceed in the version. The Doctors of the
Sorbonne, however, censured the translation, and remonstrat-
ed \vith the King against the publication, and eventually it was
prohibited. This was about 1540. The prohibition excited
publick curiosity, and they were culled for faster than the


printers could work them off. They were sun,q; in the tunes
of the common ballads by the people, Courtiers and Princes.
Marot was hated by the Papists, and beintj apprehensive of
imprisonment, he retired to Geneva, and in I5i;> completed
the versification of 20 more of the Psalms, which were pub-
lished with die thirty which had been printed at Paris. Cal-
vin wrote the preface to this edition in behalf of the Church
of Geneva, which is dated June 10th (1543.) These were
introduced into the publick service of the Churc h. Calvin
took care to procure the Psalms to be set to musick, by tiie
most distinguished musicians. Beza came to Cieneva iu
1548. He says, the first time he attended publick worshij),
he heard the 9 1st Psalm sung, and was so ravished with it
that he ever after carried it engraven on his heart. About

1552, Beza, at Lausanne, versified the Psalms omitted by
Marot, (viz. 100,) and these were set to musick by William
Franck, and published together with those of Marot at Geneva,
and the avails of them appropriated to the support of poor
refugees at Geneva Thus the whole collection of Psalms,
together with the musick, was first printed at Geneva in

1553. In this edition, the Psalms were printed with Calvin's
Catechism. This excited the aversion of the Papists, who
had before used those of Marot. But now to sing them was
a mark of heresy in their estimation. About the time of the
conference of Poissy, a license was obtained from Charles IX.
for printing Marot's and Beza's version of the Psalms, for the
use of the reformed Churches. Editions of them were printed
at Paris and at Lyons, 1661.

The mode of singing Psalms in measured verse, as now

Online LibraryElijah WatermanMemoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters → online text (page 32 of 34)