Page images
PDF
EPUB

ro 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 have 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 o 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 the 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 remembered 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 inen, possessed of his influence, would have done ; on the contrary, he caused him to learn the trade of a bookbinder, which he followed all his life.

n men,

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 Stil. Jingfleet, 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 reckoned his yearly lectures to be one hundred und eighty-six, • and his yearly sermons two hundred and eighty-six. Every • Thursday he sate in the presbytery. Every Friday, 5 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 tieth 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

fet Besides in anubes ante

to

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 spi. ritual 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 reli•gion. 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 no hoarder of money, I shall convince them at my death.The 6 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 Amsterdam, 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

« tion,” u 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 susficient 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 ob"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 peperére libro sæcula' nulla parem. That is ; · Since the ascension of Christ, no age has produced a book of equal worth, if we omit the writings of the apostles.'

The admirable Beza wrote the following epitaph to the memory of his departed friend :

Romæ ruentis terror ille maximus,
Quem mortuum lugent boni, horrescunt mali,
Ipsa à quo potuit virtutem discere virtus,
Cur adeò exiguo ignotoque in cespite clausus
Calvinus lateat, rogas ?
Calvinum assiduè comitata modestia vivum
Hoc tumulo manibus condidit ipsa suis.
() te beatum cespitem tanto hospite !
O cui in videre cuncta possint marmora !

The following translation, taken (with a slight alteration or two) from an old author, is tolerably close, and not inelegant.

• If any ask, why Reverend Calvin, whom
“We justly style the dread of falling Rome,
• (Whose death the Good, with gushing Tears bewail,
• And who, though dead, makes all the bad look pale;
• From whom e'en Virtue might more Virtue learn,
• And in his Life all heav'nly Grace discern,)
• Lies hid within so mean and strait a Grave,
• While worthless Mortals splendid Tomb.stones have ?
• Know ye, That Modesty, which was allied
' Always to Calvin living, when he dy'd
• With her own Hands this Mansion did provide.

O happy Grave, enrich'd with such a Guest, • As proudest Marbles envy, not possest!'.

CONRADE PELLICAN.

THIS great Hebræan and eminent divine was born at

Rubeac, in Sweden, in the year 1478. His parents (whose family-name was Kursiner, or, in English, Skinner), brought him up at school till he was thirteen years of age, and then sent him to Heidelberg, where he studied sixteen months ; after which he returned home, and entered into a monastry. After some time, he went again to Heidelberg, and from thence to Tubingen, where he studied with great success, and was much admired for the pregnancy of his parts. Melchior Adam relates very prolixly the most uncommon pains which Pellican took to acquire the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, and the great proficiency he attained in it without any instruction from others. His own and his parents' circumstances were but low; so that he got all his erudition in a manner out of the fire. While he was at Tubingen, the bookseller there had purchased an Hebrew Bible in a very small type, imprinted at Pisa, but complete, which nobody seemed to care for. Pellican, after examining it well for a few days, wrote to his uncle for money, and bought it for a Florence and a half, then believing himself to be a richer man than Creesus. He immediately applied himself to the diligent

reading

« PreviousContinue »