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“ light, and giddy-headed people, to corrupt the sincere « doctrine which you have heard from me."
Then, considering the immeasurable benefits which GOD had conferred on that city, he said ; "I am a “ very good witness, out of how many great dangers the « hand of GOD hath delivered you : Moreover, you see “ in what estate you now are. Therefore, whether your « affairs be prosperous or adverse, let this thing be al« ways before your eyes, that GOD is he alone who c establisheth kingdoms and cities; and therefore will be “ worshipped by mortal men.”
And, continuing his discourse, he shewed them at large, the danger of pride and security ; the great dangers they were also in from errors in judgment, and corruptions in practice.
Then he prayed to GOD for the increase of his gifts and blessings upon them, and for the safety and welfare of the commonwealth. After which, giving his hand to each of them, they took their leave ; departing full of sorrow, and with many tears, as from their common father.
April 28. The ministers of Geneva being with him, he spake thus to them.-- Brethren, after my decease, stand * fast in this work of the Lord, and be not discouraged ; « for the Lord will preserve this church and common66 wealth against the threatenings of the enemies. When “ I came first to this city, the gospel indeed was preached, “ but the management of things, with respect to it, was “ very troublesome : Many conceiving, that Christianity " was nothing more than the demolishing of images. And u there were not a few wicked persons, from whom I “ suffered many things. But the Lord our God so con« firmed and strengthened me, who am not naturally bold, « that I gave not place to any of their atteinpts. I pro“ fess, brethren, that I have lived with you in true love 66 and sincere charity; and thus I now depart from you. « If you have found me any way pettish under my disease, “ I crave your pardon; and give you very great thanks, " that you have so borne, on your part, the burden imas posed on me in the time of my sickness.”
Having thus spoken, he gave his hand to each of them, who then took their leave, sorrowing and weeping.
A while after, Calvin hearing that Viret, who was cighty years of age, and sickly, was on his journey to visit him, wrote thus to stay him.
« Farewell, my best and sincerest brother : And seeing GOD will have you to out-live me in this world, live
Calvin, with back ; but henger was
" mindful of our friendship; for as it has been profitable " to the church of GOD here, so the fruit of it tarrieth “ for us in heaven. I would not havs you weary yourself « for my sake. I hardly draw my breath: And I expect « daily when it will wholly fail me. It is enough that I « live and die to Christ, who is gain to his both in life and « death. Again farewell.” May 11. 1564.
Yet notwithstanding this letter, the good old man came to Geneva ; and, having fully conferred with Calvin, he returned to Newcome. After which, Calvin passed his remaining time almost wholly in prayer, with his eyes towards heaven; while his voice often failed him, by reason of the shortness of his breath.
He died, as we observed before, May the 27th, A. D. 1564, aged fifty-four years, ten months, and seventeen days. Beza had but just left him, when Calvin suddenly altered for death. On which a messenger was dispatched after Beza to bring him back; but though Beza returned presently, Calvin, without a sigh or groan, was fallen asleep in Jesus before Beza could reach him.
Joseph Scaliger, who scarce thought any man worth his commending, could not forbear admiring Calvin ; and he. praised him, among other things, for not commenting on ihe Revelations, while he owned him for the happiest of all the commentators, in apprehending the sense of the prophets. And Pasquier says, · Calvin was a good writer • both in Latin and French, and our French tongue is - highly obliged to him for enriching it with so great a ( number of fine expressions.'
Calvin had such a retentive memory, that he remem. bered people he had seen but once, several years after. Whenever he was dictating any thing, and happened to be interrupted for some hours, he renewed the thread of the discourse, without having occasion to be reminded where it was he left off: And he never forgot any thing that was entrusted to his meinory.
He was a man, whose thoughts were lifted up much above the desire of worldly goods, only seeking how he might most and best promote his Master's service in the establishment of his gospel. When he took leave of the people at Strasburg (as we have mentioned above) to return to Geneva, they would have continued his freedom of the city, and the revenues of a prebend; which had been assigned him: The former he accepted, but absolutely refused the latter. He carried one of his brothers with him to Geneva, but he never laboured to promote him, as most
incn, possessed of his influence, would have done ; on the contrary, he caused him to learn the trade of a bookDinder, which he followed all his life.
When his friends would have dissuaded him, in his sickness, from dictating, and especially from writing, he answered; « What! would you have me idle when my. “ Lord comes ?”
Calvin was held in the highest veneration by the foreign Reformed churches, and not less so by our own. Witness the exalted testimonies given of him by bishop Andrews, bishop Bilson, Mr Hooker, bishop Morton, bishop Stillingfleet, and many others, cited by doctor John Edwards, for this purpose in his Veritas redux.
Dr Hoyle, who wrote under the patronage of archbishop Usher, mentioning Calvin, says, "What shall I speak of his indefatigable industry, almost beyond the power of nature, which paralleled with our loitering, will, I fear, exceed all credit? It may be the truest object of admiration, how one lean, worn, spent, and wearied body • could hold out. He read every week of the year through "three divinity lectures ; every other week, over and
above, he preached every day: So that (as Erasmus said • of Chrysostom) I know not whether more to admire his •constancy, or their’s that heard him. Some have reck'oned his yearly lectures to be one hundred and eighty-six, ‘and his yearly sermons two hundred and eighty-six. Every • Thursday he sate in the presbytery. Every Friday,
when the ministers met to confer upon difficult texts, • he made as good as a lecture. Besides all this, there • was scarce a day, that exercised him not in answering,
either by word of mouth or writing, the doubts and ' questions of different churches and pastors, yea some
times more at once ; so that he might say with Paul-'the care of all the churches lieth upon me. Not a year past, (wherein, over and above all these former employments, ' in which some great volume in folio or other came not « forth.'
There are many among the Roman Catholics, who would to justice to Calvin, if they durst speak their thoughts. Guy Patin has taught us to make this judgment; for he observes, that Joseph Scaliger said, that Calvin was the greatest wit the world had seen since the apostles. He acknowledged that no man ever understood ecclesiastical history like Calvin, who, at the age of twenty-two, was the most learned man in Europe. And he tells us, that John de Monluc, bishop of Valence, used
the conc: This life, wrote by P:
to say, that Calvin was the greatest divine in the world, Patin caused the life of Calvin, wrote by Papyrius Masso, to be made public. This life has done a great deal of mischief to the copies of Bolsec'; for who can read it, without laughing at those who accuse this minister of loving good wine, and chearful company? The Papists, at last, have been obliged to acknowledge the falsity of those infamous calumnies published against the morals of Calvin. Their best pens have been contented to say, that, though he was free from corporeal vices, he was not so from spiritual ones, such as slander, passion, avarice, and pride.
Calvin has left behind him many who imitate him in his active life ; his zeal and affection for the cause of religion. They employ their voices, their pens, their steps, and solicitations, for the advancement of the kingdom of GOD: But then they take care not to forget themselves; and are, generally speaking, a demonstration that the church is a bountiful mother, and that nothing is lost in her service. But for a man, who had acquired so great a reputation and authority, to content himself with a hundred crowns a year salary, and to leave behind him no more than three hundred crowns, is something so heroical, that it must be stupidity itself not to admire it. It is a “strong proof of his not having studied to heap up riches,
that all his effects, notwithstanding his library was sold (very dear, scarce amounted to three hundred crowns ; • so that he might very justly, as well as elegantly, in
order to wipe off this monstrous calumny, use these (words, in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms ; • If I cannot in my life time persuade some people that I am 110 “ hoarder of money, I shall convince them at my death.” The
senate certainly can witness for him, that, though his stipend was very small, he was so far from being unsa«tisfied with it, that he positively refused the offer of in
creasing it. This is one of the most extraordinary victories, the magnanimity of grace obtains over nature, even in those who are ministers of the gospel. Such a disinterestedness is a thing so extraordinary, as might make even those, who cast their eyes beyond the philosophers of ancient Greece, say of him, I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.'
The works of Calvin, published at Geneva, comprehended twelve volumes in folio; which the edition of Anisterdam, 1667, has reduced to nine. His Commentaries upon the Bible are the most considerable part of his works : But he gained most honour by his « Christian Institu
The face in
which they thin the first word
6 tion," which was wrote in defence of the Protestant religion, and has been always esteemed an incomparable work. An observation has been made, which shews that this book of Calvin has been sifted, scanned, anatomised, in all the different manners possible by the Romanists. They have taken notice, that the first word is all, and the last impiety; which they think appears very mysterious. The fact is certain in the French translation ; but not in the original Latin. The inquisition at Rome, and in Spain, condemned this piece, as being Calvin's work, falsely inscribed to Alcuin. Nor has it been thought sufficient to criticise Calvin's Institution, as a pseudonymous piece; but the very cut they pretend he ordered to be engraven for the title-page, has been commented on, and the work itself affirmed to be only a collection of plagiarisms. This cut they say, was a sword in the middle of flames, with this motto, No veni miterre pacem, sed gladium.' Mr Drelincourt says it is false, and that their proofs are impertinent: - For it is, (continues he as if any one should obs ject to me the symbolical figures which are placed
without my knowledge on the frontispiece of some of my works, and pretend them to be my proper device.' This « Institution” has not only appeared in French, but also in High Dutch, Low Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and English. Calvin intended it as a complete system, and a full idea of theology.
We may add the well-known distich concerning that excellent book.
Præter apostolicas, post Christi tempora, chartas,
Huic peperêre libró sæcula nulla parem. 'That is ; · Since the ascension of Christ, no age has pro
duced a book of equal worth, if we omit the writings r of the apostles.'
The admirable Beza wrote the following epitaph to the memory of his departed friend :
Romæ ruentis terror ille maximus,