Page images
PDF
EPUB

which he remitted none of those faithful discharge of my duty ; labours which bodily strength al- and unless the unmeasurable lowed him to continue, on the bounty of God had been present, 6th of February, 1564, be preach- all my study would have been ed his last sermon. For ten vain and transient ; for which years together be had abstained causes I witness and declare, from animal food at dinner, as that I hope for no other security the only certain preventive of vi- of my salvation than this, that olent headachs, to which he had seeing God is the Father of merlong been subject. When his cy, he may shew himself such a ague left him, he was seized with Father to me, wbo acknowledge the gout in his right limb; then myself a miserable sinner.” with the cholic, and last of all He wished to meet with the with the stone. Yet, under this senators once more in public ; complication of disorders, he but on account of his state of never uttered a word expressive health, they rather waited on of murmuring or impatience ; him. He then addressed them only lifting up his eyes to heaven, in words of gratitude, admonihe used to say, “ How long tion, and consolation : “ WhethLord,” an expression to which he er your affairs be prosperous or was accustomed, when he heard adverse, let this be always before of any calamities befalling the your eyes, that God alone can church of Christ. On the 27th establish kingdoms and cities, of March, he was carried in his and that he requires mortals to chair to the senate, when he worship him in that character. presented to them a new rector I exhort the aged not to envy for the academy ; he then un. the young, who may have recovered his head, and thanked ceived from the Lord more them for all the kindness they splendid talents than themselves; had shown him, particularly in and the young I warn against his sickness : “ For I feel (said vanity and pride, beseeching he) this is the last time that I them to be modest in their behashall come into this place.” viour.” Afterwards, he set be

On the 2d of April, being Eas. fore them the great danger of ter-day, he was carried to the error in doctrine, as leading to church, and received the sacra- corruptions in practice ; and conment from the hands of Beza, cluded with a solemn prayer for his colleague, both in the minis- every blessing that might protry and the academy. He made mote their individual happiness, his will on the 25th, in which he and the best interests of the comdeclared his firm adherence to monwealth. They departed in the doctrine of salvation by the tears, as from a last interview cross of Christ, as the only with their common father. foundation of all his hopes of On the 28th, he spoke to the pardon and eternal life. “ Alas! ministers of Geneva, of the grace (says he) my study and my zeal which he had received to be faith(if worthy of that name) have ful in his trust; encouraged them been so languid and remiss, that to stand fast in the same grace, I confess innumerable things and bade them farewel, with mahave been wanting in me to the ny tears and fervent prayers to

God in their behalf. Being in- did mourn as a dove." Once formed that his old friend and also he was heard to say, “ Lord, fellow-labourer, Farel, though thy hand is heavy on me, but sickly, was on his way, from I am abundantly satisfied beNeufchatel, to see him before cause it is thy hand.” He conhis death, he thus wrote to him: tinued in life till the 27th of “ Farewel, my best, and most May, towards the evening of upright brother ; since God is which day, he quietly breathed pleased to continue you longer in out his spirit into the hands of the world than me, live mindful his Saviour and his God. of our connexion, which was Thus lived, and thus died, profitable to the church of God, John Calvin, justly styled, the and the fruit of which is await- terror of Rome, and the aposing us in heaven. I would not, tle, not of Geneva only, but of that you would fatigue yourself the reformed churches. The for my sake. I with difficulty day following his death, the breathe, and daily expect that my whole city was in the deepest respiration will cease. It is affliction. Every one lamented enough that I live and die to over their illustrious citizen ; Christ, who is gain to his own, the church deplored the decease both in life and death ; again of their faithful pastor ; the acadfarewel. May 11, 1564.

emy mourned the loss of their Farel, however, accomplished renowned teacher; in a word, all his journey, saw Calvin, renew- wept at being deprived of him, ed with bim that friendship whom, next to God, they regardwhich even death cannot dissolve, ed as their common parent and but which will be cemented with benefactor. His body was atthe perfection of bliss in the tended to the grave, by the senaheavenly world, and returned tors, the ministers, the professagain to Neufchatel. After this, ors, the students, and almost the Calvin spent his remaining days whole city ; and laid in a comalmost wholly in prayer, which mon cemetry, without any exhis difficulty in breathing pre- traordinary pomp, or parade. vented from being articulate ; According to his own request, but the frequent elevation of his no monument was erected :o his eyes, and the serenity of his memory : a plain stone only, countenance bespoke the comfort without any inscription, was laid of bis mind, and the solemnity on his grave. This called forth of his employment.

He was

a few verses from Beza, of which sometimes heard to use the the following are a translation ; words of David, “ Lord, I open- and which, though not free from ed not my mouth, because thou the partiality of friendship, are didst it :' and of Isaiah, “I worthy to be preserved. .

Why in this humble and unnotic'd tomb
Is Calvin laid, the dread of falling Rome,
Mourn'd by the good, and by the wicked fear'd,
By all who knew his excellence rever'd ;
From whom ev'n virtue's self might virtue learn,
And young and old its value may discern?

'Twas Modesty, his constant friend on earth,
That rais'd this grave, unsculptur'd with a name ;

Happy the grassy spot that marks his worth,
More lasting far than marble is thy fame!

Calvin's stature was of the God*.He has been accused of middle size, his complexion ambition. Yes, says Beza, and dark, his eye bright and penetra- he aimed at establishing a new ting. His dress was plain with- papacy, for he preferred this out being mean ; his diet simple manner of life, this republic, and and sparing. But his mind was in fine, this church, which may be what distinguished him from the well called a warehouse of poverbulk of mankind. His original ty, to every other situation and talents were great, and his pro- place. He laboured to accumugressive acquirements astonish- late wealth. Yes ! for his whole ing. His mind was acute, and effects, notwithstanding his lidiscerned almost intuitively, the brary was sold very dear, scarce connexions of reasoning, and amounted to 300 crowns, so that the relation of one subject to his own words may be justly another. His judgment was sol- used : “ If I cannot in my lifeid and perspicacious ; his mem- time persuade some people, that ory at once quick and retentive. I am not avaricious, my death His learning was so extensive will convince them.”+ The and profound, that even Scaliger, senate could testify, that though whose parsimony of praise is his salary was very small, he was well known, affirmed, that he so far from being dissatisfied was not only one of the most ex- with it, that he persisted in refusalted characters that the world ing to have it increased. His had seen since the days of the love to the truth was invincible ; apostles, but that at the age of his diligence in acquiring it unatwenty-two, he was the most bated by public duty, or private learned man in Europe. His ar- distress ; his anxiety to make it dour was invincible, and though known to others was discovered he, perhaps, discovered less when bodily strength had failed courage in his conduct than Lu- him, and ceased only with the ther, he was equally bold in his spark of life. In his sermons writings. His temper was nat- and speeches, his manner was urally irritable, and it must be grave and commanding; he adacknowledged, that it sometimes dressed the understanding of his Murried him into intemperance audience more than their affecof language. But, as he advan- tions, and convinced them by the ced in life, grace asserted its power of reasoning, rather than power over nature, and rendered by the graces of persuasion. him comparatively gentle and When Farel spoke, it was, like forbearing. Of this we have a thunder, rousing, awful, overremarkable proof, in his express- powering : Viret, liko Nestor, ions concerning Luther, who was calm, and gently persuasive : had called him by many strong

Calvin ultered sentences in aland unbecoming names, on ac- most as many words, such was count of his rejecting the doc- the strength and terseness oi trine of consubstantiation : “ If his language. Like a true sera Luther should even call me a devil, so much do I revere him,

Epist. ad Bullinger, Op. tom. in. that I should always own him to

p. 239. col. 2.

+ Prefat. ad Cominent, in Psalms, be an illustrious servant of Oper. tom. iii.

[ocr errors]

vant of God, and a faithful minis- ampie to all, of Christian conter of Jesus Christ, he devoted duct ; and his death was a proof all these talents, natural and ac- of the efficacy of the salvation for quired, all his time, and all his which he hoped, in the full posstrength, to him from whom he session of which he now rejoices received them. His life was a in the presence of the Lord. continued act of labour to him. Reader, whatever be thy talself, but of service to the church, ents, thy condition, thy occupaof exertion for the glory of God tion, or thy enjoy ments ; if thou and the honour of the Saviour, wouldst die like Calvin, animaand of benevolence and zeal for ted with the hope of glory, thou the salvation of men. Like must build on the same foundaPaul, he counted not his life tion, and, like him, transfuse the dear, that he might finish his precepts of the gospel into thy course with joy, and the ininis- temper and conduct. Be theretry which he received of the fore a follower of them, who, Lord Jesus to testify the gospel though faith and patience in heof the grace of God. Now herit the promises. rests from his labours, and his works do follow him. His wri.

N. B. In the preceding narrative, tings are a treasure of theologi- mentioned, Beza's life of Calvin, pre

where particular authorities are not cal discussion ; his life was an fixed to his works, furnishes the state. illustration of the doctrines ment of facts. which he preached, and an ex

Religious Communications.

ON

THE ACCOUNTABILITY

OF MEN FOR THEIR FAITH.

By those, who acknowledge vocated, from which it is to be the gospel to be a divine revela- feared, that many practise both tion, it will be adınitted, that on themselves and others danthis revelation contains great gerous and fatal deceptions. and inieresting truths respect. How often is it said to be very ing a dispensation of grace to immaterial what a man belieres mankind in their fallen state; concerning one doctrine or anthe provision of a Saviour, and other; and a liberality of sentithe appointment of a method for ment towards those, who differ their obtaining salvation. Here from us in doctrinal matters is, then a question arises, Are men by some, considered as one of at liberty to believe or disbelieve the fairest traits, in a Christian these truths? To receive or re- character. It will readily be ject them? This might be conceded, that one man bas no thought a singular question, right to prescribe to another; were there not evident occasion that, as it regards his fellowgiven for it by sentiments, which creatures, every man has a right we often hear expressed and ad- to think and judge for himself;

and that liberality and charity to is most unbecoming and crimia certain extent are to be exer- nal? On supposition, that men cised toward those, whose senti- are at liberty to disbelieve a part ments differ from our own. of the truths contained in divine But, when the question is asked, revelation, it may be asked, what Are men at liberty to believe or part ? Are they not all parts of disbelieve the truths contained one great system, and sanctioned in divine revelation ; the inquiry by the same authority? Is it not is, have they such liberty from then the duty of men, are they the Author of this revelation ? not under solemn obligations to When God has made known cer- attend to them, and to receive tain truths respecting the person them as a whole; indiscriminatewhom he has appointed to be the ly, as thus sanctioned ? It must Saviour of mankind, the method indeed be acknowledged, that all by which salvation was procured, men are not equally capable of and the way in which sinners understanding and receiving eve. may obtain salvation ; has he at ry revealed truth; but according the same time given men liberty to their capacity must be their to believe, or not to believe these obligation. With regard to the truths ? Surely it will not be great, essential, and most im. pretended, that men are at liber- portant truths of revelation ; ty to disbelieve the whole of those truths, on a cordial belief those truths. This would en- of which our salvation depends; tirely frustrate the design of re- with such plainness and perspivelation, which can be no other, cuity are these truths exhibited than that the truths which God and declared, that, if men do not has made known to men, be re- receive them, it cannot be owing ceived and regarded according to to want of capacity ; it must be their meaning and intention ; from some other cause ; from a and if men are at liberty to dis- temper of heart, wbich will ren. believe the whole of the truths der them objects of just concontained in divine revelation, demnation. they are not to be blamed for But let us consider the acusing this liberty ; they may do countability of men for their it with impunity.

faith, with reference to a particuIt may then be presumed, ihat lar object : I mean our blessed no one, who is a believer in di- Saviour Jesus Christ. Are men vine revelation, will assert a right at liberty bere to believe, or disto disbelieve the whole of its believe just as they find themtruths. Are any then at liberty selves disposed; just as their preto disbelieve a part of those dominant inclinations may lead truths ? to make a selection and them ? Are they under no obli. to determine, each one for him- gation as to their receiving or self, such and such truths I ad- rejecting the report of the gos. mit, others I reject? Does not pel concerning him? And will this take away and destroy all they be equally benefitted at last, due reverence for divine revela- whether they do in reality receive tion? Is it not assuming a free. or reject this report? The testidom with the truths of God, which mony of the gospel, concerning Vol. III. No. 10. Hub

« PreviousContinue »