HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH*
CONSTITUTION AND DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH OF GENEVA.
§ 98. Literature.
I. Calvin’s Institutio Christ. Religionis, the fourth book, which treats of the Church and the Sacraments.—Les | ordinances | ecclésiastiques de | l’église de Genève. | Item | l’ordre des escoles | de la dite cité.| Gen., 1541. 92 pp. 4°; another ed., 1562, 110 pp. Reprinted in Opera, X. fol. 15–30. (Projet d’ordinances ecclésiastiques, 1541). The same vol. contains also L’ordre du College de Genève; Leges academicae (1559), fol. 65–90; and Les ordinances ecclésiastiques de 1561, fol. 91–124. Comp. the Prolegomena, IX. sq., and also the earliest document on the organization and worship of the Church of Geneva, 1537, fol. 5–14.
II. Dr. Georg Weber: Geschichtliche Darstellung des Calvinismus im Verhältniss zum Staat in Genf und Frankreich bis zur Aufhebung des Edikts von Nantes, Heidelberg, 1836 (pp. 872). The first two chapters only (pp. 1–32) treat of Calvin and Geneva; the greater part of the book is a history of the French Reformation till 1685.—C. B. Hundeshagen: Ueber den Einfluss des Calvinismus auf die Ideen von Staat, und staats-bürgerlicher Freiheit, Bern, 1842.—*Amédée Roget: L’église et l’état à Genève du vivant de Calvin. Étude d’histoire politico-ecclèsiastique, Genève, 1867 (pp. 92). Comp. also his Histoire du peuple de Genève depuis la réforme jusqu’à l’escalade (1536–1602), 1870–1883, 7 vols.
III. Henry, Part II. chs. III.–VI. Comp. his small biography, pp. 165–196.—Dyer, ch. III.—Stähelin, bk. IV. (vol. I. 319 sqq.).—Kampschulte, I. 385–480. This is the end of his work; vols. II. and III. were prevented by his premature death (Dec. 3, 1872), and intrusted to Professor Cornelius of Munich (a friend and colleague of the late Dr. Döllinger), but he has so far only published a few papers on special points, in the Transactions of the Munich Academy. See p. 230. Merle D’Aubigné, bk. XI. chs. XXII.–XXIV. (vol. VII. 73 sqq.). These are his last chapters on Calvin, coming down to February, 1542; the continuation was prevented by his death in 1872.
§ 99. Calvin’s Idea of the Holy Catholic Church.
During his sojourn at Strassburg, Calvin matured his views on the Church and the Sacraments, and embodied them in the fourth book of the second edition of his Institutes, which appeared in the same year as his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1539). His ideal was high and comprehensive, far beyond what he was able to realize in the little district of Geneva. "In no respect, perhaps," says a distinguished Scotch Presbyterian scholar,648 "are the Institutes more remarkable than in a certain comprehensiveness and catholicity of tone, which to many will appear strangely associated with his name. But Calvin was far too enlightened not to recognize the grandeur of the Catholic idea which had descended through so many ages; this idea had, in truth, for such a mind as his, special attractions, and his own system mainly sought to give to the same idea a new and higher form. The narrowness and intolerance of his ecclesiastical rule did not so much spring out of the general principles laid down in the Institutes, as from his special interpretation and application of these principles."
When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, chained to a heathen soldier, and when Christianity was confined to a small band of humble believers scattered through a hostile world, he described to the Ephesians his sublime conception of the Church as the mystical "body of Christ, the fulness of Him who filleth all in all." Yet in the same and other epistles he finds it necessary to warn the members of this holy brotherhood even against such vulgar vices as theft, intemperance, and fornication. The contradiction is only apparent, and disappears in the distinction between the ideal and the real, the essential and the phenomenal, the Church as it is in the mind of Christ and the Church as it is in the masses of nominal Christians.
The same apparent contradiction we find in Calvin, in Luther, and other Reformers. They cherished the deepest respect for the holy Catholic Church of Christ, and yet felt it their duty to protest with all their might against the abuses and corruptions of the actual Church of their age, and especially against the papal hierarchy which ruled it with despotic power. We may go further back to the protest of the Hebrew Prophets against the corrupt priesthood. Christ himself, who recognized the divine economy of the history of Israel, and came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets, attacked with withering severity the self-righteousness and hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat, and was condemned by the high priest and the Jewish hierarchy to the death of the cross. These scriptural antecedents help very much to understand and to justify the course of the Reformers.
Nothing can be more truly Catholic than Calvin’s description of the historic Church. It reminds one of the finest passages in St. Cyprian and St. Augustin. After explaining the meaning of the article of the Apostles’ Creed on the holy Catholic Church, as embracing not only the visible Church, but all God’s elect, living and departed, he thus speaks of the visible or historic Catholic Church:649
"As our present design is to treat of the visible Church, we may learn even from the title of mother, how useful and even necessary it is for us to know her; since there is no other way of entrance into life, unless we are conceived by her, born of her, nourished at her breast, and continually preserved under her care and government till we are divested of this mortal flesh and become I like the angels’ (Matt. 22:30). For our infirmity will not admit of our dismission from her school; we must continue under her instruction and discipline to the end of our lives. It is also to be remarked that out of her bosom there can be no hope of remission of sins, or any salvation, according to the testimony of Isaiah (37:32) and Joel (2:32); which is confirmed by Ezekiel (13:9), when he denounces that those whom God excludes from the heavenly life shalt not be enrolled among his people. So, on the contrary, those who devote themselves to the service of God are said to inscribe their names among the citizens of Jerusalem. For which reason the Psalmist says, ’Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the prosperity of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance’ (Ps106:4, 5). In these words the paternal favor of God, and the peculiar testimony of the spiritual life, are restricted to his flock, to teach us that it is always fatally dangerous to be separated from the Church."650
So strong are the claims of the visible Church upon us that even abounding corruptions cannot justify a secession. Reasoning against the Anabaptists and other radicals who endeavored to build up a new Church of converts directly from the Bible, without any regard to the intervening historical Church, he says:651
"Dreadful are those descriptions in which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Habakkuk, and others, deplore the disorders of the Church at Jerusalem. There was such general and extreme corruption in the people, in the magistrates, and in the priests that Isaiah does not hesitate to compare Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah. Religion was partly despised, partly corrupted. Their manners were generally disgraced by thefts, robberies, treacheries, murders, and similar crimes.
"Nevertheless, the Prophets on this account neither raised themselves new churches, nor built new altars for the oblation of separate sacrifices; but whatever were the characters of the people, yet because they considered that God had deposited his word among that nation, and instituted the ceremonies in which he was there worshipped, they lifted up pure hands to him even in the congregation of the impious. If they had thought that they contracted any contagion from these services, surely they would have suffered a hundred deaths rather than have permitted themselves to be dragged to them. There was nothing, therefore, to prevent their departure from them, but the desire of preserving the unity of the Church.
"But if the holy Prophets were restrained by a sense of duty from forsaking the Church on account of the numerous and enormous crimes which were practiced, not by a few individuals, but almost by the whole nation, it is extreme arrogance in us, if we presume immediately to withdraw from the communion of a Church, where the conduct of all the members is not compatible either with our judgment or even with the Christian profession.
"Now what kind of an age was that of Christ and his Apostles? Yet the desperate impiety of the Pharisees, and the dissolute lives everywhere led by the people, could not prevent them from using the same sacrifices, and assembling in the same temple with others, for the public exercises of religion. How did this happen, but from a knowledge that the society of the wicked could not contaminate those who, with pure consciences, united with them in the same solemnities.
"If any one pay no deference to the Prophets and the Apostles, let him at least acquiesce in the authority of Christ. Cyprian has excellently remarked: ’Although tares, or impure vessels, are found in the Church, yet this is not a reason why we should withdraw from it. It only behooves us to labor that we may be the wheat, and to use our utmost endeavors and exertions that we may be vessels of gold or of silver. But to break in pieces the vessels of earth belongs to the Lord alone, to whom a rod of iron is also given. Nor let any one arrogate to himself what is the exclusive province of the Son of God, by pretending to fan the floor, clear away the chaff, and separate all the tares by the judgment of man. This is proud obstinacy, and sacrilegious presumption, originating in a corrupt frenzy.’
"Let these two points, then, be considered as decided: first, that he who voluntarily deserts the external communion of the Church where the Word of God is preached, and the sacraments are administered, is without any excuse; secondly, that the faults either of few persons or of many form no obstacles to a due profession of our faith in the use of the ceremonies instituted by God; because the pious conscience is not wounded by the unworthiness of any other individual, whether he be a pastor or a private person; nor are the mysteries less pure and salutary to a holy and upright man, because they are received at the same time by the impure."
How, then, with such high churchly views, could Calvin justify his separation from the Roman Church in which he was born and trained? He vindicated his position in the Answer to Sadolet, from which we have given large extracts.652 He did it more fully in his masterly work, "On the Necessity of Reforming the Church," which, "in the name of all who wish Christ to reign," he addressed to the Emperor Charles V. and the Diet to be assembled at Speier in February, 1544. It is replete with weighty arguments and accurate learning, and by far one of the ablest controversial books of that age.653 The following is a passage bearing upon this point:654
"The last and principal charge which they bring against us is, that we have made a schism in the Church. And here they fiercely maintain against us, that for no reason is it lawful to break the unity of the Church. How far they do us injustice the books of our authors bear witness. Now, however, let them take this brief reply—that we neither dissent from the Church, nor are aliens from her communion. But, as by this specious name of Church, they are wont to cast dust in the eyes even of persons otherwise pious and right-hearted, I beseech your Imperial Majesty, and you, Most Illustrious Princes, first, to divest yourselves of all prejudice, that you may give an impartial ear to our defence; secondly, not to be instantly terrified on hearing the name of Church, but to remember that the Prophets and Apostles had, with the pretended Church of their days, a contest similar to that which you see us have in the present day with the Roman pontiff and his whole train. When they, by the command of God, inveighed freely against idolatry, superstition, and the profanation of the temple, and its sacred rites, against the carelessness and lethargy of priests,—and against the general avarice, cruelty, and licentiousness, they were constantly met with the objection which our opponents have ever in their mouths—that by dissenting from the common opinion, they violated the unity of the Church. The ordinary government of the Church was then vested in the priests. They had not presumptuously arrogated it to themselves, but God had conferred it upon them by his law. It would occupy too much time to point out all the instances. Let us, therefore, be contented with a single instance, in the case of Jeremiah.
"He had to do with the whole college of priests, and the arms with which they attacked him were these: ’Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet’ (Jer. 18:18). They had among them a high priest, to reject whose judgment was a capital crime, and they had the whole order to which God himself had committed the government of the Jewish Church concurring with them. If the unity of the Church is violated by him, who, instructed solely by Divine truth, opposes himself to ordinary authority, the Prophet must be a schismatic; because, not at all deterred by such menaces from warring with the impiety of the priests, he steadily persevered.
"That the eternal truth of God preached by the Prophets and Apostles, is on our side, we are prepared to show, and it is indeed easy for any man to perceive. But all that is done is to assail us with this battering-ram, ’Nothing can excuse withdrawal from the Church.’ We deny out and out that we do so. With what, then, do they urge us? With nothing more than this, that to them belongs the ordinary government of the Church. But how much better right had the enemies of Jeremiah to use this argument? To them, at all events, there still remained a legal priesthood, instituted by God; so that their vocation was unquestionable. Those who in the present day have the name of prelates, cannot prove their vocation by any laws, human or divine. Be it, however, that in this respect both are on a footing, still, unless they previously convict the holy Prophet of schism, they will prove nothing against us by that specious title of Church.
"I have thus mentioned one Prophet as an example. But all the others declare that they had the same battle to fight—wicked priests endeavoring to overwhelm them by a perversion of this term Church. And how did the Apostles act? Was it not necessary for them, in professing themselves the servants of Christ, to declare war upon the synagogue ? And yet the office and dignity of the priesthood were not then lost. But it will be said that, though the Prophets and Apostles dissented from wicked priests in doctrine, they still cultivated communion with them in sacrifices and prayers. I admit they did, provided they were not forced into idolatry. But which of the Prophets do we read of as having ever sacrificed in Bethel? Which of the faithful, do we suppose, communicated in impure sacrifices, when the temple was polluted by Antiochus, and profane rites were introduced into it?
"On the whole, we conclude that the servants of God never felt themselves obstructed by this empty title of Church, when it was put forward to support the reign of impiety. It is not enough, therefore, simply to throw out the name of Church, but judgment must be used to ascertain which is the true Church, and what is the nature of its unity. And the thing necessary to be attended to, first of all, is, to beware of separating the Church from Christ, its Head. When I say Christ, I include the doctrine of his gospel which he sealed with his blood. Our adversaries, therefore, if they would persuade us that they are the true Church must, first of all, show that the true doctrine of God is among them; and this is the meaning of what we often repeat, viz. that the uniform characteristics of a well-ordered Church are the preaching of sound doctrine, and the pure administration of the Sacraments. For, since Paul declares (Eph. 2:20) that the Church is ’built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,’ it necessarily follows that any church not resting on this foundation must immediately fall.
"I come now to our opponents.
"They, no doubt, boast in lofty terms that Christ is on their side. As soon as they exhibit him in their word we will believe it, but not sooner. They, in the same way, insist on the term Church. But where, we ask, is that doctrine which Paul declares to be the only foundation of the Church? Doubtless, your Imperial Majesty now sees that there is a vast difference between assailing us with the reality and assailing us only with the name of Church. We are as ready to confess as they are that those who abandon the Church, the common mother of the faithful, the ’pillar and ground of the truth,’ revolt from Christ also; but we mean a Church which, from incorruptible seed, begets children for immortality, and, when begotten, nourishes them with spiritual food (that seed and food being the Word of God), and which, by its ministry, preserves entire the truth which God deposited in its bosom. This mark is in no degree doubtful, in no degree fallacious, and it is the mark which God himself impressed upon his Church, that she might be discerned thereby. Do we seem unjust in demanding to see this mark? Wherever it exists not, no face of a Church is seen. If the name, merely, is put forward, we have only to quote the well-known passage of Jeremiah, ’Trust ye not in lying words, saying, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these’ (Jer. 7:4). Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?’ (Jer. 7:11).
"In like manner, the unity of the Church, such as Paul describes it, we protest we hold sacred, and we denounce anathema against all who in any way violate it. The principle from which Paul derives unity is, that there is ’one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,’ who hath called us into one hope (Eph. 4:4–6). Therefore, we are one body and one spirit, as is here enjoined, if we adhere to God only, i.e. be bound to each other by the tie of faith. We ought, moreover, to remember what is said in another passage, ’that faith cometh by the word of God.’ Let it, therefore, be a fixed point, that a holy unity exists amongst us, when, consenting in pure doctrine, we are united in Christ alone. And, indeed, if concurrence in any kind of doctrine were sufficient, in what possible way could the Church of God be distinguished from the impious factions of the wicked? Wherefore, the Apostle shortly after adds, that the ministry was instituted ’for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God: that we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ’ (Eph. 4:12–15). Could he more plainly comprise the whole unity of the Church in a holy agreement in true doctrine, than when he calls us back to Christ and to faith, which is included in the knowledge of him, and to obedience to the truth? Nor is any lengthened demonstration of this needed by those who believe the Church to be that sheepfold of which Christ alone is the Shepherd, and where his voice only is heard, and distinguished from the voice of strangers. And this is confirmed by Paul, when he prays for the Romans, ’The God of patience and consolation grant you to be of the same mind one with another, according to Christ Jesus; that, ye may with one accord and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 15:5, 6).
"Let our opponents, then, in the first instance, draw near to Christ, and then let them convict us of schism, in daring to dissent from them in doctrine. But, since I have made it plain that Christ is banished from their society, and the doctrine of his gospel exterminated, their charge against us simply amounts to this, that we adhere to Christ in preference to them. For what man, pray, will believe that those who refuse to be led away from Christ and his truth, in order to deliver themselves into the power of men, are thereby schismatics, and deserters from the communion of the Church?
"I certainly admit that respect is to be shown to priests, and that there is great danger in despising ordinary authority. If, then, they were to say, that we are not at our own hand to resist ordinary authority, we should have no difficulty in subscribing to the sentiment. For we are not so rude as not to see what confusion must arise when the authority of rulers is not respected. Let pastors, then, have their due honor—an honor, however, not derogatory in any degree to the supreme authority of Christ, to whom it behooves them and every man to be subject. For God declares, by Malachi, that the government of the Israelitish Church was committed to the priests, under the condition that they should faithfully fulfil the covenant made with them, viz. that ’their lips should keep knowledge,’ and expound the law to the people (Mal. 2:7). When the priests altogether failed in this condition, he declares, that, by their perfidy, the covenant was abrogated and made null. Pastors are mistaken if they imagine that they are invested with the government of the Church on any other terms than that of being ministers and witnesses of the truth of God. As long, therefore, as, in opposition to the law and to the nature of their office, they eagerly wage war with the truth of God, let them not arrogate to themselves a power which God never bestowed, either formerly on priests, or now on bishops, on any other terms than those which have been mentioned."
When the Romanists demanded miracles from the Reformers as a test of their innovations, Calvin replied that this was "unreasonable; for we forgo no new gospel, but retain the very same, whose truth was confirmed by all the miracles ever wrought by Christ and the Apostles. The opponents have this advantage over us, that they confirm their faith by continual miracles even to this day. But they allege miracles which are calculated to unsettle a mind otherwise well established; for they are frivolous and ridiculous, or vain and false. Nor, if they were ever so preternatural, ought they to have any weight in opposition to the truth of God, since the name of God ought to be sanctified in all places and at all times, whether by miraculous events or by the common order of nature."655
Luther had the same Catholic Church feeling, and gave strong expression to it in his writings against the radicals, and in a letter to the Margrave of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia (1532), in which he says: "It is dangerous and terrible to hear or believe anything against the unanimous testimony of the entire holy Christian Church as held from the beginning for now over fifteen hundred years in all the world."656 And yet he asserted the right of conscience and private judgment at Worms against popes and Councils, because he deemed it "unsafe and dangerous to do anything against the conscience bound in the Word of God."
§ 100. The Visible and Invisible Church.
Comp. vol. VI. § 85, and the literature there quoted.
A distinction between real and nominal Christianity is as old as the Church, and has never been denied. "Many are called, but few are chosen." We can know all that are actually called, but God only knows those who are truly chosen. The kindred parables of the tares and of the net illustrate the fact that the kingdom of heaven in this world includes good and bad men, and that a final separation will not take place before the judgment day.657 Paul distinguishes between an outward circumcision of the flesh and an inward circumcision of the heart; between a carnal Israel and a spiritual Israel; and he speaks of Gentiles who are ignorant of the written law, yet, do by nature the things of the law," and will judge those who," with the letter and circumcision, are transgressors of the law." He thereby intimates that God’s mercy is not bounded by the limits of the visible Church.658
Augustin makes a distinction between the true body of Christ, which consists of the elect children of God from the beginning, and the mixed body of Christ, which comprehends all the baptized.659 In the Middle Ages the Church was identified with the dominion of the papacy, and the Cyprianic maxim, "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus," was narrowed into "Extra ecclesiam Romanam nulla salus," to the exclusion not only of heretical sects, but also of the Oriental Church. Wiclif and Hus, in opposition to the corruptions of the papal Church, renewed the distinction of Augustin, under a different and less happy designation of the congregation of the predestinated or the elect, and the congregation of those who are only foreknown.660
The Reformers introduced the terminology "visible" and invisible" Church. By this they did not mean two distinct and separate Churches, but rather two classes of Christians within the same outward communion. The invisible Church is in the visible Church, as the soul is in the body, or the kernel in the shell, but God only knows with certainty who belong to the invisible Church and will ultimately be saved; and in this sense his true children are invisible, that is, not certainly recognizable and known to men. We may object to the terminology, but the distinction is real and important.
Luther, who openly adopted the view of Hus at the disputation of Leipzig, first applied the term "invisible" to the true Church, which is meant in the Apostles’ Creed.661 The Augsburg Confession defines the Church to be "the congregation of saints (or believers), in which the Gospel is purely taught, and the sacraments are rightly administered." This definition is too narrow for the invisible Church, and would exclude the Baptists and Quakers.662
The Reformed system of doctrine extends the domain of the invisible or true Church and the possibility of salvation beyond the boundaries of the visible Church, and holds that the Spirit of God is not bound to the ordinary means of grace, but may work and save "when, where, and how he pleases."663 Zwingli first introduced both terms. He meant by the "visible" Church the community of all who bear the Christian name, by the "invisible" Church the totality of true believers of all ages.664 And he included in the invisible Church all the pious heathen, and all infants dying in infancy, whether baptized or not. In this liberal view, however, he stood almost alone in his age and anticipated modern opinions.665
Calvin defines the distinction more clearly and fully than any of the Reformers, and his view passed into the Second Helvetic, the Scotch, the Westminster, and other Reformed Confessions.
"The Church," he says,666 "is used in the sacred Scriptures in two senses. Sometimes when they mention ’the Church’ they intend that which is really such in the sight of God (quae revera est coram Deo), into which none are received but those who by adoption and grace are the children of God, and by the sanctification of the Spirit are the true members of Christ. And then it comprehends not only the saints at any one time resident on earth, but all the elect who have lived from the beginning of the world.
"But the word ’Church’ is frequently used in the Scriptures to designate the whole multitude dispersed all over the world, who profess to worship one God and Jesus Christ, who are initiated into his faith by baptism, who testify their unity in true doctrine and charity by a participation of the sacred supper, who consent to the word of the Lord, and preserve the ministry which Christ has instituted for the purpose of preaching it. In this Church are included many hypocrites, who have nothing of Christ but the name and appearance; many persons, ambitious, avaricious, envious, slanderous, and dissolute in their lives, who are tolerated for a time, either because they cannot be convicted by a legitimate process, or because discipline is not always maintained with sufficient vigor.
"As it is necessary therefore to believe that Church which is invisible to us, and known to God alone, so this Church, which is visible to men, we are commanded to honor, and to maintain communion with it."
Calvin does not go as far as Zwingli in extending the number of the elect, but there is nothing in his principles to forbid such extension. He makes salvation dependent upon God’s sovereign grace, and not upon the visible means of grace. He expressly includes in the invisible Church "all the elect who have lived from the beginning of the world," and even those who had no historical knowledge of Christ. He says, in agreement with Augustin:, According to the secret predestination of God, there are many sheep without the pale of the Church, and many wolves within it. For God knows and seals those who know not either him or themselves. Of those who externally bear his seal, his eyes alone can discern who are unfeignedly holy, and will persevere to the end, which is the completion of salvation." But in the judgment of charity, he continues, we must acknowledge as members of the Church "all those who, by a confession of faith, an exemplary life, and a participation in the sacraments, profess the same God and Christ with ourselves."667
§ 101. The Civil Government.
On civil government see Institutes, IV. ch. XX., De politica administratione (in Tholuck’s ed. II. 475–496).
Calvin discusses the nature and function of Civil Government at length, and with the ability and wisdom of a statesman, in the last chapter of his Institutes.
He holds that the Church is consistent with all forms of government and social conditions, even with civil servitude (1 Cor. 7:21). But some kind of government is as necessary to mankind in this world as bread and water, light and air; and it is far more excellent, since it protects life and property, maintains law and order, and enables men to live peaceably together, and to pursue their several avocations.
As to the different forms of government, Calvin discusses the merits of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. All are compatible with Christianity and command our obedience. All have their advantages and dangers. Monarchy easily degenerates into despotism, aristocracy into oligarchy or the faction of a few, democracy into mobocracy and sedition. He gives the preference to a mixture of aristocracy and democracy. He infused a more aristocratic spirit into the democratic Republic of Geneva, and saw a precedent in the government of Moses with seventy elders elected from the wisest and best of the people. It is safer, he thinks, for the government to be in the hands of many than of one, for they may afford each other assistance, and restrain arrogance and ambition.
Civil government is of divine origin. "All power is ordained of God" (Rom. 13:1). "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice" (Prov. 8:15). The magistrates are called "gods "(Ps. 82:1, 6; a passage indorsed by Christ, John 10:35), because they are invested with God’s authority and act as his vicegerents. "Civil magistracy is not only holy and legitimate, but far the most sacred and honorable in human life." Submission to lawful government is the duty of every citizen. To resist it, is to set at naught the ordinance of God (Rom. 13:3, 4; comp. Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13, 14). Paul admonishes Timothy that in the public congregation "supplication, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for kings and for all that are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity" (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). We must obey and pray even for bad rulers, and endure in patience and humility till God exercises his judgment. The punishment of evildoers belongs only to God and to the magistrates. Sometimes God punishes the people by wicked rulers, and punishes these by other bad rulers. We, as individuals, must suffer rather than rebel. Only in one case are we required to disobey,—when the civil ruler commands us to do anything against the will of God and against our conscience. Then, we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).668
Calvin was thus a strong upholder of authority in the State. He did not advise or encourage the active resistance of the Huguenots at the beginning of the civil wars in France, although he gave a tacit consent.
Calvin extended the authority and duty of civil government to both Tables of the Law. He assigns to it, in Christian society, the office,—"to cherish and support the external worship of God, to preserve the true doctrine of religion, to defend the constitution of the Church, and to regulate our lives in a manner requisite for the social welfare." He proves this view from the Old Testament, and quotes the passage in Isaiah 49:23, that "kings shall be nursing-fathers and queens nursing-mothers" to the Church. He refers to the examples of Moses, Joshua and the Judges, David, Josiah, and Hezekiah.
Here is the critical point where religious persecution by the State comes in as an inevitable consequence. Offences against the Church are offences against the State, and vice versa, and deserve punishment by fines, imprisonment, exile, and, if necessary, by death. On this ground the execution of Servetus and other heretics was justified by all who held the same theory; fortunately, it has no support whatever in the New Testament, but is directly contrary to the spirit of the gospel.
Geneva, after the emancipation from the power of the bishop and the duke of Savoy, was a self-governing Republic under the protection of Bern and the Swiss Confederacy. The civil government assumed the episcopal power, and exercised it first in favor, then against, and at last permanently for the Reformation.
The Republic was composed of all citizens of age, who met annually in general assembly (conseil général), usually in St. Peter’s, under the sounding of bells, and trumpets, for the ratification of laws and the election of officers. The administrative power was lodged in four Syndics; the legislative power in two Councils, the Council of Sixty, and the Council of Two Hundred. The former existed since 1457; the latter was instituted in 1526, after the alliance with Freiburg and Bern, in imitation of the Constitution of these and other Swiss cities. The Sixty were by right members of the Council of Two Hundred. In 1530 the Two Hundred assumed the right to elect the ordinary or little Council of Twenty-Five, who were a part of the two other Councils and had previously been elected by the Syndics. The real power lay in the hands of the Syndics and the little Council of Twenty-five, which formed an oligarchy with legislative, executive, and judicial functions.
Calvin did not change these fundamental institutions of the Republic, but he infused into them a Christian and disciplinary spirit, and improved the legislation. He was appointed, together with the Syndics Roset, Porral, and Balard, to draw up a new code of laws, as early as Nov. 1, 1541.669 He devoted much time to this work, and paid attention even to the minutest details concerning the administration of justice, the city police, the military, the firemen, the watchmen on the tower, and the like.670
The city showed her gratitude by presenting him with "a cask of old wine" for these extra services.671
Many of his regulations continued in legal force down to the eighteenth century.
Calvin was consulted in all important affairs of the State, and his advice was usually followed; but he never occupied a political or civil office. He was not even a citizen of Geneva till 1559 (eighteen years after his second arrival), and never appeared before the Councils except when some ecclesiastical question was debated, or when his advice was asked. It is a mistake, therefore, to call him the head of the Republic, except in a purely intellectual and moral sense.
The code of laws was revised with the aid of Calvin by his friend, Germain Colladon (1510–1594), an eminent juris-consult and member of a distinguished family of French refugees who settled at Geneva. The revised code was begun in 1560, and published in 1568.672
Among the laws of Geneva we mention a press law, the oldest in Switzerland, dated Feb. 15, 1560. Laws against the freedom of the press existed before, especially in Spain. Alexander VI., a Spaniard, issued a bull in 1501, instructing the German prelates to exercise a close supervision over printers. Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic established a censorship which prohibited, under severe penalties, the printing, importation, and sale of any book that had not previously passed an examination and obtained a license. Rome adopted the same policy. Other countries, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, followed the example. In Russia, the severest restrictions of the press are still in force.
The press law of Geneva was comparatively moderate. It put the press under the supervision of three prudent and experienced men, to be appointed by the government. These men have authority to appoint able and trustworthy printers, to examine every book before it is printed, to prevent popish, heretical, and infidel publications, to protect the publisher against piracy; but Bibles, catechisms, prayers, and psalms may be printed by all publishers; new translations of the Scriptures are privileged in the first edition.673
The censorship of the press continued in Geneva till the eighteenth century. In 1600 the Council forbade the printing of the essays of Montaigne; in 1763 Rousseau’s Emile was condemned to be burned.
It should be noted, however, that under the influence of Calvin Geneva became one of the most important places of publication. The famous Robert Stephen (Etienne, 1503–1559), being censured by the Sorbonne of Paris, settled in Geneva after the death of his father, Henri, as a professed Protestant, and printed there two editions of the Hebrew Bible, and an edition of the Greek Testament, with the Vulgate and Erasmian versions, in 1551, which for the first time contains the versicular division of the text according to our present usage. To him we owe the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (third ed. 1543, in 4 vols.), and to his son, Henri, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (1572, 4 vols.). Beza published several editions of his Greek Testament in Geneva (1565–1598), which were chiefly used by King James’ translators. In the same city appeared the English version of the New Testament by Whittingham, 1557; then of the whole Bible, 1560. This is the so-called "Geneva Bible," or "Breeches Bible" (from the rendering of Gen. 3:7), which was for a long time the most popular English version, and passed through about two hundred editions from 1560 to 1630.674 Geneva has well maintained its literary reputation to this day.
§ 102. Distinctive Principles of Calvin’s Church Polity.
Calvin was a legislator and the founder of a new system of church polity and discipline. He had a legal training, which was of much use to him in organizing the Reformed Church at Geneva. If he had lived in the Middle Ages, he might have been a Hildebrand or an Innocent III. But the spirit of the Reformation required a reconstruction of church government on an evangelical and popular basis.
Calvin laid great stress on the outward organization and order of the Church, but in subordination to sound doctrine and the inner spiritual life. He compares the former to the body, while the doctrine which regulates the worship of God, and points out the way of salvation, is the soul which animates the body and renders it lively and active.675
The Calvinistic system of church polity is based upon the following principles, which have exerted great influence in the development of Protestantism: —
1. The autonomy of the Church, or its right of self-government under the sole headship of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church likewise claims autonomy, but in a hierarchical sense, and under the supreme control of the pope, who, as the visible vicar of Christ, demands passive obedience from priests and people. Calvin vests the self-government in the Christian congregation, and regards all the ministers of the gospel, in their official character, as ambassadors and representatives of Christ. "Christ alone," he says, "ought to rule and reign in the Church, and to have all preeminence in it, and this government ought to be exercised and administered solely by his word; yet as he dwells not among us by a visible presence, so as to make an audible declaration of his will to us, he uses for this purpose the ministry of men whom he employs as his delegates, not to transfer his right and honor to them, but only that he may himself do his work by their lips; just as an artificer makes use of an instrument in the performance of his work."676
In practice, however, the autonomy both of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and of the Protestant Churches is more or less curtailed and checked by the civil government wherever Church and State are united, and where the State supports the Church. For self-government requires self-support. Calvin intended to institute synods, and to make the clergy independent of State patronage, but in this he did not succeed.
The Lutheran Reformers subjected the Church to the secular rulers, and made her an obedient handmaid of the State; but they complained bitterly of the selfish and arbitrary misgovernment of the princes. The congregations in most Lutheran countries of Europe have no voice in the election of their own pastors. The Reformers of German Switzerland conceded more power to the people in a democratic republic, and introduced synods, but they likewise put the supreme power into the hands of the civil government of the several cantons. In monarchical England the governorship of the Church was usurped and exercised by Henry VIII. and, in a milder form, by Queen Elizabeth and her successors, and acquiesced in by the bishops. The churches under Calvin’s influence always maintained, at least in theory, the independence of the Church in all spiritual affairs, and the right of individual congregations in the election of their own pastors. Calvin derives this right from the Greek verb used in the passage which says that Paul and Barnabas ordained presbyters by the suffrages or votes of the people.677 "Those two apostles," he says, "ordained the presbyters; but the whole multitude, according to the custom observed among the Greeks, declared by the elevation of their hands who was the object of their choice … . It is not credible that Paul granted to Timothy and Titus more power (1 Tim. 5:22 Tit. 1:5) than he assumed to himself." After quoting with approval two passages from Cyprian, he concludes that the apostolic and best mode of electing pastors is by the consent of the whole people; yet other pastors ought to preside over the election, "to guard the multitude from falling into improprieties through inconstancy, intrigue, and confusion."678
The Presbyterian Church of Scotland has labored and suffered more than any Protestant Church for the principle of the sole headship of Christ; first against popery, then against prelacy, and last against patronage. In North America this principle is almost universally acknowledged.
2. The parity of the clergy as distinct from a jure divino hierarchy whether papal or prelatical.
Calvin maintained, with Jerome, the original identity of bishops (overseers) and presbyters (elders); and in this he has the support of the best modern exegetes and historians.679
But he did not on this account reject all distinctions among ministers, which rest on human right and historical development, nor deny the right of adapting the Church order to varying conditions and circumstances. He was not an exclusive or bigoted Presbyterian. He had no objection to episcopacy in large countries, like Poland and England, provided the evangelical doctrines be preached.680 In his correspondence with Archbishop Cranmer and Protector Somerset, he suggests various improvements, but does not oppose episcopacy. In a long letter to King Sigismund Augustus of Poland, he even approves of it in that kingdom.681
But Presbyterianism and Congregationalism are more congenial to the spirit of Calvinism than prelacy. In the conflict with Anglican prelacy during the seventeenth century, the Calvinistic Churches became exclusively Presbyterian in Scotland, or Independent in England and New England. During the same period, in opposition to the enforced introduction of the Anglican liturgy, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists abandoned liturgical worship; while Calvin and the Reformed Churches on the Continent approved of forms of devotion in connection with free prayer in public worship.
3. The participation of the Christian laity in Church government and discipline. This is a very important feature.
In the Roman Church the laity are passive, and have no share whatever in legislation. Theirs is simply to obey the priesthood. Luther first effectively proclaimed the doctrine of the general priesthood of the laity, but Calvin put it into an organized form, and made the laity a regular agency in the local congregation, and in the synods and Councils of the Church. His views are gaining ground in other denominations, and are almost generally adopted in the United States. Even the Protestant Episcopal Church gives, in the lower house of her diocesan and general conventions, to the laity an equal representation with the clergy.
4. Strict discipline to be exercised jointly by ministers and lay-elders, with the consent of the whole congregation.
In this point Calvin went far beyond the older Reformers, and achieved greater success, as we shall see hereafter.
5. Union of Church and State on a theocratic basis, if possible, or separation, if necessary to secure the purity and self-government of the Church. This requires fuller exposition.
§ 103. Church and State.
Calvin’s Church polity is usually styled a theocracy, by friends in praise, by foes in censure.682 This is true, but in a qualified sense. He aimed at the sole rule of Christ and his Word both in Church and State, but without mixture and interference. The two powers were almost equally balanced in Geneva. The early Puritan colonies in New England were an imitation of the Geneva model.
In theory, Calvin made a clearer distinction between the spiritual and secular powers than was usual in his age, when both were inextricably interwoven and confused. He compares the Church to the soul, the State to the body. The one has to do with the spiritual and eternal welfare of man, the other with the affairs of this present, transitory life.683 Each is independent and sovereign in its own sphere. He was opposed to any interference of the civil government with the internal affairs and discipline of the Church. He was displeased with the servile condition of the clergy in Germany and in Bern, and often complained (even on his death-bed) of the interference of Bern with the Church in Geneva. But he was equally opposed to a clerical control of civil and political affairs, and confined the Church to the spiritual sword. He never held a civil office. The ministers were not eligible to the magistracy and the Councils.
Yet he did not go so far as to separate the two powers; on the contrary, he united them as closely as their different functions would admit. His fundamental idea was, that God alone is Lord on earth as well as in heaven, and should rule supreme in Church and State. In this sense he was theocratic or christocratic. God uses Church and State as two distinct but co-operative arms for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom. The law for both is the revealed will of God in the Holy Scriptures. The Church gives moral support to the State, while the State gives temporal support to the Church.
Calvin’s ideal of Christian society resembles that of Hildebrand, but differs from it on the following important points:
1. Calvin’s theory professed to be based upon the Scriptures, as the only rule of faith and practice; the papal theocracy drew its support chiefly from tradition and the Canon law.
Calvin’s arguments, however, are exclusively taken from the Old Testament. The Calvinistic as well as the papal theocracy is Mosaic and legalistic rather than Christian and evangelical. The Apostolic Church had no connection whatever with the State except to obey its legitimate demands. Christ’s rule is expressed in that wisest word ever uttered on this subject: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s" (Matt. 22:21).
2. Calvin recognized only the invisible headship of Christ, and rejected the papal claim to world-dominion as an anti-christian usurpation.
3. He had a much higher view of the State than the popes. He considered it equally divine in origin and authority as the Church, and fully independent in all temporal matters; while the papal hierarchy in the Middle Ages often overruled the State by ecclesiastical authority. Hildebrand compared the Church to the sun, the State to the moon which borrows her light from the sun, and claimed and exercised the right of deposing kings and absolving subjects from their oaths of allegiance. Boniface VIII. formulated this claim in the well-known theory of the two swords.
4. Calvin’s theocracy was based upon the sovereignty of the Christian people and the general priesthood of believers; the papal theocracy was an exclusive rule of the priesthood.
In practice, the two powers were not as clearly distinct at Geneva as in theory. They often intermeddled with each other. The ministers criticised the acts of the magistrates from the pulpit; and the magistrates called the ministers to account for their sermons. Discipline was a common territory for both, and the Consistory was a mixed body of clergymen and laymen. The government fixed and paid the salaries of the pastors, and approved their nomination and transfer from one parish to another. None could even absent himself for a length of time without leave by the Council. The Large Council voted on the Confession of Faith and Discipline, and gave them the power of law.
The Reformed Church of Geneva, in one word, was an established Church or State Church, and continues so to this day, though no more in an exclusive sense, but with liberty to Dissenters, whether Catholic or Protestant, who have of late been increasing by immigration.
The union of Church and State is tacitly assumed or directly asserted in nearly all the Protestant Confessions of Faith, which make it the duty of the civil government to support religion, to protect orthodoxy, and to punish heresy.684
In modern times the character of the State and its attitude towards the Church has undergone a material change in Switzerland as well as in other countries. The State is no longer identified with a particular Church, and has become either indifferent, or hostile, or tolerant. It is composed of members of all creeds, and should, in the name of justice, support all, or none; in either case allowing to all full liberty as far as is consistent with the public peace.
Under these circumstances the Church has to choose between liberty with self-support, and dependence with government support. If Calvin lived at this day, he would undoubtedly prefer the former. Calvinists and Presbyterians have taken the lead in the struggle for Church independence against the Erastian and rationalistic encroachments of the civil power. Free Churches have been organized in French Switzerland (Geneva, Vaud, Neuchàtel), in France, Holland, and especially in Presbyterian Scotland. The heroic sacrifices of the Free Church of Scotland in seceding from the Established Church, and making full provision for all her wants by voluntary contributions, form one of the brightest chapters in the history of Protestantism. The Dissenters in England have always maintained and exercised the voluntary principle since their legal recognition by the Toleration Act of 1689. In the British Provinces and in North America, all denominations are on a basis of equality before the law, and enjoy, under the protection of the government, full liberty of self-government with the corresponding duty of self-support. The condition of modern society demands a peaceful separation of Church and State, or a Free Church in a Free State.
§ 104. The Ecclesiastical Ordinances.
Comp. § 83 (352 sqq.) and § 86 (367 sqq.). Calvin discusses the ministerial office in the third chapter of the fourth book of his Institutes.
Having considered Calvin’s general principles on Church government, we proceed to their introduction and application in the little Republic of Geneva.
We have seen that in his first interview with the Syndics and Council after his return, Sept. 13, 1541, he insisted on the introduction of an ecclesiastical constitution and discipline in accordance with the Word of God and the primitive Church.685 The Council complied with his wishes, and intrusted the work to the five pastors (Calvin, Viret, Jacques Bernard, Henry de la Mare, and Aymé Champereau) and six councillors (decided Guillermins), to whom was added Jean Balard as advisory member. The document was prepared under his directing influence, submitted to the Councils, slightly altered, and solemnly ratified by a general assembly of citizens (the Conseil général), Jan. 2, 1542, as the fundamental church law of the Republic of Geneva.686 Its essential features have passed into the constitution and discipline of most of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches of Europe and America.
The official text of the "Ordinances "is preserved in the Registers of the Venerable Company, and opens with the following introduction: —
"In the name of God Almighty, we, the Syndics, Small and Great Councils with our people assembled at the sound of the trumpet and the great clock, according to our ancient customs, have considered that the matter above all others worthy of recommendation is to preserve the doctrine of the holy gospel of our Lord in its purity, to protect the Christian Church, to instruct faithfully the youth, and to provide a hospital for the proper support of the poor,—all of which cannot be done without a definite order and rule of life, from which every estate may learn the duty of its office. For this reason we have deemed it wise to reduce the spiritual government, such as our Lord has shown us and instituted by his Word, to a good form to be introduced and observed among us. Therefore we have ordered and established to follow and to guard in our city and territory the following ecclesiastical polity, taken from the gospel of Jesus Christ."687
The document is inspired by a high view of the dignity and responsibility of the ministry of the gospel, such as we find in the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians and Ephesians. "It may be confidently asserted," says a Catholic historian,688 "that in no religious society of Christian Europe the clergy was assigned a position so dignified, prominent, and influential as in the Church which Calvin built up in Geneva."
In his Institutes Calvin distinguishes three extraordinary officers of the Church,—Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists,—and four ordinary officers—Pastors (Bishops), Teachers, Ancients (Lay-elders), and Deacons.689
Extraordinary officers were raised up by the Lord at the beginning of his kingdom, and are raised up on special occasions when required "by the necessity of the times." The Reformers must be regarded as a secondary class of Apostles, Prophets, and Evangelists. Calvin himself intimates the parallel when he says:690 "I do not deny that ever since that period [of the Apostles] God has sometimes raised up Apostles or Evangelists in their stead, as he has done in our own time. For there was a necessity for such persons to recover the Church from the defection of Antichrist. Nevertheless, I call this an extraordinary office, because it has no place in well-constituted Churches."691
The extraordinary offices cannot be regulated by law. The Ordinances, therefore, give directions only for the ordinary offices of the Church.
1. The Pastors,692 or ministers of the gospel, as Calvin likes to call them, have "to preach the Word of God, to instruct, to admonish, to exhort and reprove in public and private, to administer the sacraments, and, jointly with the elders, to exercise discipline."693
No one can be a pastor who is not called, examined, ordained, or installed. In the examination, the candidate must give satisfactory evidence of his knowledge of the Scriptures, his soundness in doctrine, purity of motives, and integrity of character. If he proves worthy of the office, he receives a testimony to that effect from the Council to be presented to the congregation. If he fails in the examination, he must wait for another call and submit to another examination. The best mode of installation is by prayer and laying on of hands, according to the practice of the Apostles and the early Church; but it should be done without superstition.
All the ministers are to hold weekly conferences for mutual instruction, edification, correction, and encouragement in their official duties. No one should absent himself without a good excuse. This duty devolves also on the pastors of the country districts. If doctrinal controversies arise, the ministers settle them by discussion; and if they cannot agree, the matter is referred to the magistracy.
Discipline is to be strictly exercised over the ministers, and a number of sins and vices are specified which cannot be tolerated among them, such as heresy, schism, rebellion against ecclesiastical order, blasphemy, impurity, falsehood, perjury, usury, avarice, dancing, negligence in the study of the Scriptures.
The Ordinances prescribe for Sunday a service in the morning, catechism—that is, instruction of little children—at noon, a second sermon in the afternoon at three o’clock. Three sermons are to be preached during the week—Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. For these services are required, in the city, five regular ministers and three assistant ministers.
In the Institutes, Calvin describes the office of Pastors to be the same as that of the Apostles, except in the extent of their field and authority. They are all ambassadors of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). What Paul says of himself applies to them all: "Woe is to me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16).
2. The office of the Teachers694 is to instruct the believers in sound doctrine, in order that the purity of the gospel be not corrupted by ignorance or false opinions.
Calvin derived the distinction between Teachers and Pastors from Eph. 4:11, and states the difference to consist in this, "that Teachers have no official concern with discipline, nor the administration of the sacraments, nor admonitions and exhortations, but only with the interpretation of the Scripture; whereas the pastoral office includes all these duties."695 He also says that the Teachers sustain the same resemblance to the ancient Prophets as the Pastors to the Apostles. He himself had the prophetic gift of luminous and convincing teaching in a rare degree. Theological Professors occupy the highest rank among Teachers.
3. The Ancients or Lay-Elders watch over the good conduct of the people. They must be God-fearing and wise men, without and above suspicion. Twelve were to be selected—two from the Little Council, four from the Council of the Sixty, and six from the Council of the Two Hundred. Each was to be assigned a special district of the city.
This is a very important office in the Presbyterian Churches. In the Institutes, Calvin. quotes in support of it the gifts of government.696 "From the beginning," he says,697 "every Church has had its senate or council, composed of pious, grave, and holy men, who were invested with that jurisdiction in the correction of vices … . This office of government is necessary in every age." He makes a distinction between two classes of Elders,—Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders,—on the basis of 1 Tim. 5:17:, Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching."698 The exegetical foundation for such a distinction is weak, but the ruling Lay-Eldership has proved a very useful institution and great help to the teaching ministry.
4. The Deacons have the care of the poor and the sick, and of the hospitals. They must prevent mendicancy which is contrary to good order.699 Two classes of Deacons are distinguished, those who administer alms, and those who devote themselves to the poor and sick.700
5. Baptism is to be performed in the Church, and only by ministers and their assistants. The names of the children and their parents must be entered in the Church registers.
6. The Lord’s Supper is to be administered every month in one of the Churches, and at Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas. The elements must be distributed reverently by the ministers and deacons. None is to be admitted before having been instructed in the catechism and made a profession of his faith.
The remainder of the Ordinances contains regulations about marriage, burial, the visitation of the sick, and prisons.
The Ministers and Ancients are to meet once a week on Thursday, to discuss together the state of the Church and to exercise discipline. The object of discipline is to bring the sinner back to the Lord.701
The Ecclesiastical Ordinances of 1541 were revised and enlarged by Calvin, and adopted by the Little and Large Councils, Nov. 13, 1561. This edition contains also the oaths of allegiance of the Ministers, Pastors, Doctors, Elders, Deacons, and the members of the Consistory, and fuller directions concerning the administration of the sacraments, marriage, the visitation of the sick and prisoners, the election of members of the Consistory, and excommunication.702
A new revision of the Ordinances was made and adopted by the General Council, June 3, 1576.
§ 105. The Venerable Company and the Consistory.
The Church of Geneva consisted of all baptized and professing Christians subject to discipline. It had, at the time of Calvin, a uniform creed; Romanists and sectarians being excluded. It was represented and governed by the Venerable Company and the Consistory.
1. The Venerable Company was a purely clerical body, consisting of all the pastors of the city and district of Geneva. It had no political power. It was intrusted with the general supervision of all strictly ecclesiastical affairs, especially the education, qualification, ordination, and installation of the ministers of the gospel. But the consent of the civil government and the congregation was necessary for the final induction to the ministry. Thus the pastors and the people were to co-operate.
2. The Consistory or Presbytery was a mixed body of clergymen and laymen, and larger and more influential than the Venerable Company. It represented the union of Church and State. It embraced, at the time of Calvin, five city Pastors and twelve Seniors or Lay-Elders, two of whom were selected from the Council of Sixty and ten from the Council of Two Hundred. The laymen, therefore, had the majority; but the clerical element was comparatively fixed, while the Elders were elected annually under the influence of the clergy. A Syndic was the constitutional head.703 Calvin never presided in form, but ruled the proceedings in fact by his superior intelligence and weighty judgment.704
The Consistory went into operation immediately after the adoption of the Ordinances, and met every Thursday. The reports begin from the tenth meeting, which was held on Thursday, Feb. 16, 1542.705
The duty of the Consistory was the maintenance and exercise of discipline. Every house was to be visited annually by a Minister and Elder. To facilitate the working of this system the city was divided into three parishes—St. Peter’s, the Magdalen, and St. Gervais. Calvin officiated in St. Peter’s.
The Consistorial Court was the controlling power in the Church of Geneva. It has often been misrepresented as a sort of tribunal of Inquisition or Star Chamber. But it could only use the spiritual sword, and had nothing to do with civil and temporal punishments, which belonged exclusively to the Council. The names of Gruet, Bolsec, and Servetus do not even appear in its records.706 Calvin wrote to the ministers of Zürich, Nov. 26, 1553: "The Consistory has no civil jurisdiction, but only the right to reprove according to the Word of God, and its severest punishment is excommunication."707 He wisely provided for the preponderance of the lay-element.
At first the Council, following the example of Basel and Bern, denied to the Consistory the right of excommunication.708 The persons excluded from the Lord’s Table usually appealed to the Council, which often interceded in their behalf or directed them to make an apology to the Consistory. There was also a difference of opinion as regards the consequences of excommunication. The Consistory demanded that persons cut off from the Church for grievous offenses and scandalous lives should be banished from the State for a year, or until they repent; but the Council did not agree. Calvin could not always carry out his views, and acted on the principle to tolerate what he could not abolish.709 It was only after his final victory over the Libertines in 1555 that the Council conceded to the Consistory the undisputed power of excommunication.710
From these facts we may judge with what right Calvin has so often been called "the Pope of Geneva," mostly by way of reproach.711 As far as the designation is true, it is an involuntary tribute to his genius and character. For he had no material support, and he never used his influence for gain or personal ends. The Genevese knew him well and obeyed him freely.
§ 106. Calvin’s Theory of Discipline.
Discipline is so important an element in Calvin’s Church polity, that it must be more fully considered. Discipline was the cause of his expulsion from Geneva, the basis of his flourishing French congregation at Strassburg, the chief reason for his recall, the condition of his acceptance, the struggle and triumph of his life, and the secret of his moral influence to this day. His rigorous discipline, based on his rigorous creed, educated the heroic French, Dutch, English, Scotch, and American Puritans (using this word in a wider sense for strict Calvinists). It fortified them for their trials and persecutions, and made them promoters of civil and religious liberty.
The severity of the system has passed away, even in Geneva, Scotland, and New England, but the result remains in the power of self-government, the capacity for organization, the order and practical efficiency which characterizes the Reformed Churches in Europe and America.
Calvin’s great aim was to realize the purity and holiness of the Church as far as human weakness will permit. He kept constantly in view the ideal of "a Church without spot or wrinkle or blemish," which Paul describes in the Epistle to the Ephesians 5:27. He wanted every Christian to be consistent with his profession, to show his faith by good works, and to strive to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. He was the only one among the Reformers who attempted and who measurably carried out this sublime idea in a whole community.
Luther thought the preaching of the gospel would bring about all the necessary changes, but he had to complain bitterly, at the end of his life, of the dissolute manners of the students and citizens at Wittenberg, and seriously thought of leaving the city in disgust.712
Calvin knew well enough that the ideal could only be imperfectly realized in this world, but that it was none the less our duty to strive after perfection. He often quotes Augustin against the Donatists who dreamed of an imaginary purity of the Church, like the Anabaptists who, he observes, "acknowledge no congregation to belong to Christ, unless it be in all respects conspicuous for angelic perfection, and who, under pretext of zeal, destroy all edification." He consents to Augustin’s remark that "schemes of separation are pernicious and sacrilegious, because they proceed from pride and impiety, and disturb the good who are weak, more than they correct the wicked who are bold." In commenting on the parable of the net which gathered of every kind (Matt. 13:47), he says: "The Church while on earth is mixed with good and bad and will never be free of all impurity … . Although God, who is a God of order, commands us to exercise discipline, he allows for a time to hypocrites a place among believers until he shall set up his kingdom in its perfection on the last day. As far as we are concerned, we must strive to correct vices and to purge the Church of impurity, although she will not be free from all stain and blemish till Christ shall separate the goats from the sheep."713
Calvin discusses the subject of discipline in the twelfth chapter of the fourth book of his Institutes. His views are sound and scriptural. "No society," he says at the outset, "no house can be preserved in proper condition without discipline. The Church ought to be the most orderly society of all. As the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the Church, so discipline forms the nerves and ligaments which connect the members and keep each in its proper place. It serves as a bridle to curb and restrain the refractory who resist the doctrine of Christ; or as a spur to stimulate the inactive; and sometimes as a father’s rod to chastise, in mercy and with the gentleness of the spirit of Christ, those who have grievously fallen away. It is the only remedy against a dreadful desolation in the Church."
One of the greatest objections which he had against the Roman Church of his day was the utter want of discipline in constant violation of the canons. He asserts, without fear of contradiction, that "there was scarcely one of the (Roman) bishops, and not one in a hundred of the parochial clergy, who, if sentence were to be passed upon his conduct according to the ancient canons, would not be excommunicated, or, to say the very least, deposed from his office."714
He distinguished between the discipline of the people and the discipline of the clergy.715
1. The discipline of members has three degrees: private admonition; a second admonition in the presence of witnesses or before the Church; and, in case of persistent disobedience, exclusion from the Lord’s Table. This is in accordance with the rule of Christ (Matt. 18:15–17). The object of discipline is threefold: to protect the body of the Church against contamination and profanation; to guard the individual members against the corrupting influence of constant association with the wicked; and to bring the offender to repentance that he may be saved and restored to the fellowship of the faithful. Excommunication and subsequent restoration were exercised by Paul in the case of the Corinthian offender, and by the Church in her purer days. Even the Emperor Theodosius was excluded from communion by Bishop Ambrose of Milan on account of the massacre perpetrated in Thessalonica at his order.716
Excommunication should be exercised only against flagitious crimes which disgrace the Christian profession; such as adultery, fornication, theft, robbery, sedition, perjury, contempt of God and his authority. Nor should it be exercised by the bishop or pastor alone, but by the body of elders, and, as is pointed out by Paul, "with the knowledge and approbation of the congregation; in such a manner, however, that the multitude of the people may not direct the proceeding, but may watch over it as witnesses and guardians, that nothing be done by a few persons from any improper motive." Moreover, "the severity of the Church must be tempered by a spirit of gentleness. For there is constant need of the greatest caution, according to the injunction of Paul concerning a person who may have been censured, ’lest by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow’ (2 Cor. 2:7); for thus a remedy would become a poison."
When the sinner gives reasonable evidence of repentance he is to be restored. Calvin objects to "the excessive austerity of the ancients," who refused to readmit the lapsed. He approves of the course of Cyprian, who says: "Our patience and kindness and tenderness is ready for all who come; I wish all to return into the Church; I wish all our fellow-soldiers to be assembled in the camp of Christ, and all our brethren to be received into the house of God our Father. I forgive everything; I conceal much. With ready and sincere affection I embrace those who return with penitence." Calvin adds: "Such as are expelled from the Church, it is not for us to expunge from the number of the elect, or to despair of them as already lost. It is proper to consider them as strangers to the Church, and consequently to Christ, but this only as long as they remain in a state of exclusion. And even then let us hope better things of them for the future, and not cease to pray to God on their behalf. Let us not condemn to eternal death the offender, nor prescribe laws to the mercy of God who can change the worst of men into the best." He makes a distinction between excommunication and anathema; the former censures and punishes with a view to reformation and restoration; the latter precludes all pardon, and devotes a person to eternal perdition. Anathema ought never to be resorted to, or at least very rarely. Church members ought to exert all means in their power to promote the reformation of an excommunicated person, and admonish him not as an enemy, but as a brother (2 Cor. 2:8). "Unless this tenderness be observed by the individual members as well as by the Church collectively, our discipline will be in danger of speedily degenerating into cruelty."
2. As regards the discipline of the clergy, Calvin objects to the exemption of ministers from civil jurisdiction, and wants them to be subject to the same punishments as laymen. They are more guilty, as they ought to set a good example. He quotes with approval the ancient canons, so shamefully neglected in the Roman Church of his day, against hunting, gambling, feasting, usury, commerce, and secular amusements. He recommends annual visitations and synods for the correction and examination of delinquent clergymen.
But he rejects the prohibition of clerical marriage as an "act of impious tyranny contrary to the Word of God and to every principle of justice. With what impunity fornication rages among them [the papal clergy] it is unnecessary to remark; emboldened by their polluted celibacy, they have become hardened to every crime … . Paul places marriage among the virtues of a bishop; these men teach that it is a vice not to be tolerated in the clergy … . Christ has been pleased to put such honor upon marriage as to make it an image of his sacred union with the Church. What could be said more in commendation of the dignity of marriage? With what face can that be called impure and polluted, which exhibits a similitude of the spiritual grace of Christ?... Marriage is honorable in all; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13:4). The Apostles themselves have proved by their own example that marriage is not unbecoming the sanctity of any office, however excellent: for Paul testifies that they not only retained their wives, but took them about with them (1 Cor. 9:5)."
§ 107. The Exercise of Discipline in Geneva.
Calvin succeeded after a fierce struggle in infusing the Church of Geneva with his views on discipline. The Consistory and the Council rivalled with each other, under his inspiration, in puritanic zeal for the correction of immorality; but their zeal sometimes transgressed the dictates of wisdom and moderation. The union of Church and State rests on the false assumption that all citizens are members of the Church and subject to discipline.
Dancing, gambling, drunkenness, the frequentation of taverns, profanity, luxury, excesses at public entertainments, extravagance and immodesty in dress, licentious or irreligious songs were forbidden, and punished by censure or fine or imprisonment. Even the number of dishes at meals was regulated. Drunkards were fined three sols for each offence. Habitual gamblers were exposed in the pillory with cords around their neck. Reading of bad books and immoral novels was also prohibited, and the popular "Amadis de Gaul "was ordered to be destroyed (1559). A morality play on "the Acts of the Apostles," after it had been performed several times, and been attended even by the Council, was forbidden. Parents were warned against naming their children after Roman Catholic saints who nourished certain superstitions; instead of them the names of Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Zechariah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah became common. (This preference for Old Testament names was carried even further by the Puritans of England and New England.) The death penalty against heresy, idolatry, and blasphemy, and the barbarous custom of the torture were retained. Adultery, after a second offence, was likewise punished by death.
These were prohibitive and protective laws intended to prevent and punish irreligion and immorality.
But the Council introduced also coercive laws, which are contrary to the nature of religion, and apt to breed hypocrisy or infidelity. Attendance on public worship was commanded on penalty of three sols.717 When a refugee from Lyons once gratefully exclaimed, "How glorious is the liberty we enjoy here," a woman bitterly replied: "Free indeed we formerly were to attend mass, but now we are compelled to hear a sermon." Watchmen were appointed to see that people went to church. The members of the Consistory visited every house once a year to examine into the faith and morals of the family. Every unseemly word and act on the street was reported, and the offenders were cited before the Consistory to be either censured and warned, or to be handed over to the Council for severer punishment. No respect was paid to person, rank, or sex. The strictest impartiality was maintained, and members of the oldest and most distinguished families, ladies as well as gentlemen, were treated with the same severity as poor and obscure people.
Let us give a summary of the most striking cases of discipline. Several women, among them the wife of Ami Perrin, the captain-general, were imprisoned for dancing (which was usually connected with excesses). Bonivard, the hero of political liberty, and a friend of Calvin, was cited before the Consistory because he had played at dice with Clement Marot, the poet, for a quart of wine.718 A man was banished from the city for three months because, on hearing an ass bray, he said jestingly: "He prays a beautiful psalm."719 A young man was punished because he gave his bride a book on housekeeping with the remark: "This is the best Psalter." A lady of Ferrara was expelled from the city for expressing sympathy with the Libertines, and abusing Calvin and the Consistory. Three men who had laughed during the sermon were imprisoned for three days. Another had to do public penance for neglecting to commune on Whitsunday. Three children were punished because they remained outside of the church during the sermon to eat cakes. A man who swore by the "body and blood of Christ" was fined and condemned to stand for an hour in the pillory on the public square. A child was whipped for calling his mother a thief and a she-devil (diabless). A girl was beheaded for striking her parents, to vindicate the dignity of the fifth commandment.
A banker was executed for repeated adultery, but he died penitent and praised God for the triumph of justice. A person named Chapuis was imprisoned for four days because he persisted in calling his child Claude (a Roman Catholic saint) instead of Abraham, as the minister wished, and saying that he would sooner keep his son unbaptized for fifteen years.720 Bolsec, Gentilis, and Castellio were expelled from the Republic for heretical opinions. Men and women were burnt for witchcraft. Gruet was beheaded for sedition and atheism. Servetus was burnt for heresy and blasphemy. The last is the most flagrant case which, more than all others combined, has exposed the name of Calvin to abuse and execration; but it should be remembered that he wished to substitute the milder punishment of the sword for the stake, and in this point at least he was in advance of the public opinion and usual practice of his age.721
The official acts of the Council from 1541 to 1559 exhibit a dark chapter of censures, fines, imprisonments, and executions. During the ravages of the pestilence in 1545 more than twenty men and women were burnt alive for witchcraft, and a wicked conspiracy to spread the horrible disease.722 From 1542 to 1546 fifty-eight judgments of death and seventy-six decrees of banishments were passed.723 During the years 1558 and 1559 the cases of various punishments for all sorts of offences amounted to four hundred and fourteen—a very large proportion for a population of 20,000.
The enemies of Calvin-Bolsec, Audin, Galiffe (father and son)—make the most of these facts, and, ignoring all the good he has done, condemn the great Reformer as a heartless and cruel tyrant.724
It is impossible to deny that this kind of legislation savors more of the austerity of old heathen Rome and the Levitical code than of the gospel of Christ, and that the actual exercise of discipline was often petty, pedantic, and unnecessarily severe. Calvin was, as he himself confessed, not free from impatience, passion, and anger, which were increased by his physical infirmities; but he was influenced by an honest zeal for the purity of the Church, and not by personal malice. When he was threatened by Perrin and the Favre family with a second expulsion, he wrote to Perrin: "Such threats make no impression upon me. I did not return to Geneva to obtain leisure and profit, nor will it be to my sorrow if I should have to leave it again. It was the welfare and safety of the Church and State that induced me to return."725 He must be judged by the standard of his own, and not of our, age. The most cruel of those laws—against witchcraft, heresy, and blasphemy—were inherited from the Catholic Middle Ages, and continued in force in all countries of Europe, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, down to the end of the seventeenth century. Tolerance is a modern virtue. We shall return to this subject again in the chapter on Servetus.
§ 108. Calvin’s Struggle with the Patriots and Libertines.
Contre la secte phantastique et furieuse des Libertins qui se nomment Spirituelz. Geneva, 1545; 2d ed. 1547. Reprinted in Opera, vol. VII. 145–252. Latin version by Nic. des Gallars, 1546. Farel also wrote a French book against the Libertines, Geneva, 1550.
The works of J. A. Galiffe and J. B. G. Galiffe on the Genevese families and the criminal processes of Perrin, Ameaux, Berthelier, etc., quoted above, p. 224. Hostile to Calvin. Audin, chs. XXXV., XXXVI., and XLIII. Likewise hostile.
F. Trechsel: Libertiner, in the first ed. of Herzog’s Encykl., VIII. 375–380 (omitted in the second ed.), and his Antitrinitarier, I. 177 sqq.—Henry II. 402 sqq.—Hundeshagen in the "Studien und Kritiken," 1845, pp. 866 sqq.—Dyer, 177, 198, 368, 390 sqq.—Stähelin, I. 382 sqq.; 457 sqq. On the side of Calvin.
Charles Schmidt: Les Libertins spirituels, Bâle, 1876 (pp. xiv. and 251). From a manuscript autograph of one J. F., an adept of the sect, written between 1547 and 1550. An extract in La France Protest. III. 590 sq.
It required a ten years’ conflict till Calvin succeeded in carrying out his system of discipline. The opposition began to manifest itself in 1545, during the raging of the pestilence; it culminated at the trial of Servetus in 1553, and it finally broke down in 1555.
Calvin compares himself in this controversy with David fighting against the Philistines. "If I should describe," he says in the Preface to his Commentary on the Psalms (1557),726 "the course of my struggles by which the Lord has exercised me from this period, it would make a long story, but a brief reference may suffice. It affords me no slight consolation that David preceded me in these conflicts. For as the Philistines and other foreign foes vexed this holy king by continual wars, and as the wickedness and treachery of the faithless of his own house grieved him still more, so was I on all sides assailed, and had scarcely a moment’s rest from outward or inward struggles. But when Satan had made so many efforts to destroy our Church, it came at length to this, that I, unwarlike and timid as I am,727 found myself compelled to oppose my own body to the murderous assault, and so to ward it off. Five years long had we to struggle without ceasing for the upholding of discipline; for these evil-doers were endowed with too great a degree of power to be easily overcome; and a portion of the people, perverted by their means, wished only for an unbridled freedom. To such worthless men, despisers of the holy law, the ruin of the Church was a matter of utter indifference, could they but obtain the liberty to do whatever they desired. Many were induced by necessity and hunger, some by ambition or by a shameful desire of gain, to attempt a general overthrow, and to risk their own ruin as well as ours, rather than be subject to the laws. Scarcely a single thing, I believe, was left unattempted by them during this long period which we might not suppose to have been prepared in the workshop of Satan. Their wretched designs could only be attended with a shameful disappointment. A melancholy drama was thus presented to me; for much as they deserved all possible punishment, I should have been rejoiced to see them passing their lives in peace and respectability: which might have been the case, had they not wholly rejected every kind of prudent admonition."
At one time he almost despaired of success. He wrote to Farel, Dec. 14, 1547: "Affairs are in such a state of confusion that I despair of being able longer to retain the Church, at least by my own endeavors. May the Lord hear your incessant prayers in our behalf." And to Viret he wrote, on Dec. 17, 1547: "Wickedness has now reached such a pitch here that I hardly hope that the Church can be upheld much longer, at least by means of my ministry. Believe me, my power is broken, unless God stretch forth his hand."728
The adversaries of Calvin were, with a few exceptions, the same who had driven him away in 1538. They never cordially consented to his recall. They yielded for a time to the pressure of public opinion and political necessity; but when he carried out the scheme of discipline much more rigorously than they had expected, they showed their old hostility, and took advantage of every censurable act of the Consistory or Council. They hated him worse than the pope.729 They abhorred the very word "discipline." They resorted to personal indignities and every device of intimidation; they nicknamed him "Cain," and gave his name to the dogs of the street; they insulted him on his way to the lecture-room; they fired one night fifty shots before his bed-chamber; they threatened him in the pulpit; they approached the communion table to wrest the sacred elements from his hands, but he refused to profane the sacrament and overawed them. On another occasion he walked into the midst of an excited crowd and offered his breast to their daggers. As late as October 15, 1554, he wrote to an old friend: "Dogs bark at me on all sides. Everywhere I am saluted with the name of ’heretic,’ and all the calumnies that can possibly be invented are heaped upon me; in a word, the enemies among my own flock attack me with greater bitterness than my declared enemies among the papists."730
And yet in the midst of these troubles be continued to discharge all his duties, and found time to write some of his most important works.
It seems incredible that a man of feeble constitution and physical timidity should have been able to triumph over such determined and ferocious opposition. The explanation is in the justice of his cause, and the moral purity and "majesty of his character, which so strongly impressed the Genevese.
We must distinguish two parties among Calvin’s enemies—the Patriots, who opposed him on political grounds, and the Libertines, who hated his religion. It would be unjust to charge all the Patriots with the irreligious sentiments of the Libertines. But they made common cause for the overthrow of Calvin and his detested system of discipline. They had many followers among the discontented and dissolute rabble which abounds in every large city, and is always ready for a revolution, having nothing to lose and everything to gain.
1. The Patriots or Children of Geneva (Enfants de Genève), as they called themselves, belonged to some of the oldest and most influential families of Geneva,—Favre (or Fabri), Perrin, Vandel, Berthelier, Ameaux.731 They or their fathers had taken an active part in the achievement of political independence, and even in the introduction of the Reformation, as a means of protecting that independence. But they did not care for the positive doctrines of the Reformation. They wanted liberty without law. They resisted every encroachment on their personal freedom and love of amusements. They hated the evangelical discipline more than the yoke of Savoy.
They also disliked Calvin as a foreigner, who was not even naturalized before 1559. In the pride and prejudice of nativism, they denounced the refugees, who had sacrificed home and fortune to religion, as a set of adventurers, soldiers of fortune, bankrupts, and spies of the Reformer. "These dogs of Frenchmen," they said, "are the cause that we are slaves, and must bow before Calvin and confess our sins. Let the preachers and their gang go to the —." They deprived the refugees of the right to carry arms, and opposed their admission to the rights of citizenship, as there was danger that they might outnumber and outvote the native citizens. Calvin secured, in 1559, through a majority of the Council, at one time, the admission of three hundred of these refugees, mostly Frenchmen.
The Patriots disliked also the protectorate of Bern, although Bern never favored the strict theology and discipline of Calvin.
2. The Libertines732 or Spirituels, as they called themselves, were far worse than the Patriots. They formed the opposite extreme to the severe discipline of Calvin. He declares that they were the most pernicious of all the sects that appeared since the time of the ancient Gnostics and Manichaeans, and that they answer the prophetic description in the Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude. He traces their immediate origin to Coppin of Yssel and Quintin of Hennegau, in the Netherlands, and to an ex-priest, Pocquet or Pocques, who spent some time in Geneva, and wanted to get a certificate from Calvin; but Calvin saw through the man and refused it. They revived the antinomian doctrines of the mediaeval sect of the "Brethren and Sisters of the Free Spirit," a branch of the Beghards, who had their headquarters at Cologne and the Lower Rhine, and emancipated themselves not only from the Church, but also from the laws of morality.733
The Libertines described by Calvin were antinomian pantheists. They confounded the boundaries of truth and error, of right and wrong. Under the pretext of the freedom of the spirit, they advocated the unbridled license of the flesh. Their spiritualism ended in carnal materialism. They taught that there is but one spirit, the Spirit of God, who lives in all creatures, which are nothing without him. "What I or you do," said Quintin, "is done by God, and what God does, we do; for he is in us." Sin is a mere negation or privation, yea, an idle illusion which disappears as soon as it is known and disregarded. Salvation consists in the deliverance from the phantom of sin. There is no Satan, and no angels, good or bad. They denied the truth of the gospel history. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ have only a symbolical meaning to show us that sin does not exist for us.
The Libertines taught the community of goods and of women, and elevated spiritual marriage above legal marriage, which is merely carnal and not binding. The wife of Ameaux justified her wild licentiousness by the doctrine of the communion of saints, and by the first commandment of God given to man: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth (Gen. 1:28).
The Libertines rejected the Scriptures as a dead letter, or they resorted to wild allegorical interpretations to suit their fancies. They gave to each of the Apostles a ridiculous nickname.734 Some carried their system to downright atheism and blasphemous anti-Christianity.
They used a peculiar jargon, like the Gypsies, and distorted common words into a mysterious meaning. They were experts in the art of simulation and justified pious fraud by the parables of Christ. They accommodated themselves to Catholics or Protestants according to circumstances, and concealed their real opinions from the uninitiated.
The sect made progress among the higher classes of France, where they converted about four thousand persons. Quintin and Pocquet insinuated themselves into the favor of Queen Marguerite of Navarre, who protected and supported them at her little court at Nérac, yet without adopting their opinions and practices.735 She took offence at Calvin’s severe attack upon them. He justified his course in a reply of April 28, 1545, which is a fine specimen of courtesy, frankness, and manly dignity. Calvin assured the queen, whose protection he had himself enjoyed while a fugitive from persecution, that he intended no reflection on her honor, or disrespect to her royal majesty, and that he wrote simply in obedience to his duty as a minister. "Even a dog barks if he sees any one assault his master. How could I be silent if God’s truth is assailed?736 ... As for your saying that you would not like to have such a servant as myself, I confess that I am not qualified to render you any great service, nor have you need of it … . Nevertheless, the disposition is not wanting, and your disdain shall not prevent my being at heart your humble servant. For the rest, those who know me are well aware that I have never studied to enter into the courts of princes, for I was never tempted to court worldly honors.737 For I have good reason to be contented with the service of that good Master, who has accepted me and retained me in the honorable office which I hold, however contemptible in the eyes of the world. I should, indeed, be ungrateful beyond measure if I did not prefer this condition to all the riches and honors of the world."738
Beza says: "It was owing to Calvin that this horrid sect, in which all the most monstrous heresies of ancient times were renewed, was kept within the confines of Holland and the adjacent provinces."
During the trial of Servetus the political and religious Libertines combined in an organized effort for the overthrow of Calvin at Geneva, but were finally defeated by a failure of an attempted rebellion in May, 1555.
§ 109. The Leaders of the Libertines and their punishment: — Gruet, Perrin, Ameaux, Vandel, Berthelier.
We shall now give sketches of the chief Patriots and Libertines, and their quarrels with Calvin and his system of discipline. The heretical opponents—Bolsec, Castellio, Servetus—will be considered in a separate chapter on the Doctrinal Controversies.
1. Jacques Gruet was the first victim of Calvin’s discipline who suffered death for sedition and blasphemy. His case is the most famous next to that of Servetus. Gruet739 was a Libertine of the worst type, both politically and religiously, and would have been condemned to death in any other country at that time. He was a Patriot descended from an old and respectable family, and formerly a canon. He lay under suspicion of having attempted to poison Viret in 1535. He wrote verses against Calvin and the refugees which (as Audin says) were "more malignant than poetic." He was a regular frequenter of taverns, and opposed to any rules in Church and State which interfered with personal liberty. When in church, he looked boldly and defiantly into the face of the preacher. He first adopted the Bernese fashion of wearing breeches with plaits at the knees, and openly defied the discipline of the Consistory which forbade it. Calvin called him a scurvy fellow, and gives an unfavorable account of his moral and religious character, which the facts fully justified.
On the 27th of June, 1547, a few days after the wife of Perrin had defied the Consistory,740 the following libel, written in the Savoyard patois, was attached to Calvin’s pulpit in St. Peter’s Church: —
"Gross hypocrite (Gros panfar), thou and thy companions will gain little by your pains. If you do not save yourselves by flight, nobody shall prevent your overthrow, and you will curse the hour when you left your monkery. Warning has been already given that the devil and his renegade priests were come hither to ruin every thing. But after people have suffered long they avenge themselves. Take care that you are not served like Mons. Verle of Fribourg.741 We will not have so many masters. Mark well what I say."742
The Council arrested Jacques Gruet, who had been heard uttering threats against Calvin a few days previously, and had written obscene and impious verses and letters. In his house were found a copy of Calvin’s work against the Libertines with a marginal note, Toutes folies, and several papers and letters filled with abuse of Calvin as a haughty, ambitious, and obstinate hypocrite who wished to be adored, and to rob the pope of his honor. There were also found two Latin pages in Gruet’s handwriting, in which the Scriptures were ridiculed, Christ blasphemed, and the immortality of the soul called a dream and a fable.
Gruet was tortured every day for a month, after the inhuman fashion of that age.743 He confessed that he had affixed the libel, and that the papers found in his house belonged to him; but he refused to name any accomplices. He was condemned for religious, moral, and political offences; being found guilty of expressing contempt for religion; of declaring that laws, both human and divine, were but the work of man’s caprice; and that fornication was not criminal when both parties were consenting; and of threatening the clergy and the Council itself.744
He was beheaded on the 26th of July, 1547. The execution instead of terrifying the Libertines made them more furious than ever. Three days afterwards the Council was informed that more than twenty young men had entered into a conspiracy to throw Calvin and his colleagues into the Rhone. He could not walk the streets without being insulted and threatened.
Two or three years after the death of Gruet, a treatise of his was discovered full of horrible blasphemies against Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Prophets and Apostles, against the Scriptures, and all religion. He aimed to show that the founders of Judaism and Christianity were criminals, and that Christ was justly crucified. Some have confounded this treatise with the book "De tribus Impostoribus," which dates from the age of Emperor Frederick II., and puts Moses, Christ, and Mohammed on a level as religious impostors.
Gruet’s book was, at Calvin’s advice, publicly burnt by the hangman before Gruet’s house, May 22, 1550.745
2. Ami Perrin (Amy Pierre), the military chief (captain-general) of the Republic, was the most popular and influential leader of the Patriotic party. He had been one of the earliest promoters of the Reformation, though from political rather than religious motives; he had protected Farel against the violence of the priests, and had been appointed deputy to Strassburg to bring Calvin back to Geneva.746 He was one of the six lay-members who, with the ministers, drew up the Ecclesiastical Ordinances of 1542, and for some time he supported Calvin in his reforms. He could wield the sword, but not the pen. He was vain, ambitious, pretentious, and theatrical. Calvin called him, in derision, the stage-emperor, who played now the "Caesar comicus," and now the "Caesar tragicus."747
Perrin’s wife, Francesca, was a daughter of François Favre, who had taken a prominent part in the political struggle against Savoy, but mistook freedom for license, and hated Calvin as a tyrant and a hypocrite. His whole family shared in this hatred. Francesca had an excessive fondness for dancing and revelry, a violent temper, and an abusive tongue. Calvin called her "Penthesilea" (the queen of the Amazons who fought a battle against the Greeks, and was slain by Achilles), and "a prodigious fury."748
He found out too late that it is foolish and dangerous to quarrel with a woman. He forgot Christ’s conduct towards the adulteress, and Mary Magdalene.
A disgraceful scene which took place at a wedding in the house of the widow Balthazar at Belle Rive, brought upon the family of Favre, who were present, the censure of the Consistory and the punishment of the Council. Perrin, his wife and her father were imprisoned for a few weeks in April, 1546. Favre refused to make any confession, and went to prison, shouting: "Liberty! Liberty! I would give a thousand crowns to have a general council."749 Perrin made an humble apology to the Consistory. Calvin plainly told the Favre family that as long as they lived in Geneva they must obey the laws of Geneva, though every one of them wore a diadem.750
From this time on Perrin stood at the head of the opposition to Calvin. He loudly denounced the Consistory as a popish tribunal. He secured so much influence over the Council that a majority voted, in March, 1547, to take the control of Church discipline into their own hands. But Calvin made such a vigorous resistance that it was determined eventually to abide by the established Ordinances.751
Perrin was sent as ambassador to Paris (April 26, 1547), and was received there with much distinction. The Cardinal du Bellay sounded him as to whether some French troops under his command could be stationed at Geneva to frustrate the hostile designs of the German emperor against Switzerland. He gave a conditional consent. This created a suspicion against his loyalty.
During his absence, Madame Perrin and her father were again summoned before the Consistory for bacchanalian conduct (June 23, 1547). Favre refused to appear. Francesca denied the right of the court to take cognizance of her private life. When remonstrated with, she flew into a passion, and abused the preacher, Abel Poupin, as "a reviler, a slanderer of her father, a coarse swine-herd, and a malicious liar." She was again imprisoned, but escaped with one of her sons. Meeting Abel Poupin at the gate of the city she insulted him afresh and "even more shamefully than before."752
On the 27th of June, 1547, Gruet’s threatening libel was published.753 Calvin was reported to have been killed. He received letters from Burgogne and Lyons that the Children of Geneva had offered five hundred crowns for his head.754
On his return from Paris, Perrin was capitally indicted on a charge of treason, and of intending to quarter two hundred French cavalry, under his own command, at Geneva. His excuse was that he had accepted the command of these troops with the reservation of the approval of the government of Geneva. Bonivard, the old soldier of liberty and prisoner of Chillon, took part against Perrin. The ambassadors of Bern endeavored to divert the storm from the head of Perrin to the French ambassador Maigret the Magnifique. Perrin was expelled from the Council, and the office of captain-general was suppressed, but he was released from prison, together with his wife and father-in-law, Nov. 29, 1547.755
The Libertines summoned all their forces for a reaction. They called a meeting of the Council of Two Hundred, where they expected most support. A violent scene took place on Dec. 16, 1547, in the Senate house, when Calvin, unarmed and at the risk of his life, appeared in the midst of the armed crowd and called upon them, if they designed to shed blood, to begin with him. He succeeded, by his courage and eloquence, in calming the wild storm and preventing a disgraceful carnage. It was a sublime victory of reason over passion, of moral over physical force.756
The ablest of the detractors of Calvin cannot help paying here an involuntary tribute to him and to the truth of history. This is his dramatic account.
"The Council of the Two Hundred was assembled. Never had any session been more tumultuous; the parties, weary of speaking, began to appeal to arms. The people heard the appeal. Calvin appears, unattended; he is received at the lower part of the hall with cries of death. He folds his arms, and looks the agitators fixedly in the face. Not one of them dares strike him. Then, advancing through the midst of the groups, with his breast uncovered: ’If you want blood,’ says he, ’there are still a few drops here; strike, then!’ Not an arm is raised. Calvin then slowly ascends the stairway to the Council of the Two Hundred. The hall was on the point of being drenched with blood; swords were flashing on beholding the Reformer, the weapons were lowered, and a few words sufficed to calm the agitation. Calvin, taking the arm of one of the councillors, again descends the stairs, and cries out to the people that he wishes to address them. He does speak, and with such energy and feeling, that tears flow from their eyes. They embrace each other, and the crowd retires in silence. The patriots had lost the day. From that moment, it was easy to foretell that victory would remain with the Reformer. The Libertines, who had shown themselves so bold when it was a question of destroying some front of a Catholic edifice, overturning some saint’s niche, or throwing down an old wooden cross weakened by age, trembled like women before this man, who, in fact, on this occasion, exhibited something of the Homeric heroism."757
Notwithstanding this triumph, Calvin did not trust enemies, and expressed in letters to Farel and Viret even the fear that he could no longer maintain his position unless God stretch forth his hand for his protection.758
A sort of truce was patched up between the contending parties. "Our çi-devant Caesar (hesternus noster Caesar)," Calvin wrote to Farel, Dec. 28, 1547, "denied that he had any grudge against me, and I immediately met him half-way and pressed out the matter from the sore. In a grave and moderate speech, I used, indeed, some sharp reproofs (punctiones acutas), but not of a nature to wound; yet though he grasped my hand whilst promising to reform, I still fear that I have spoken to deaf ears."759
In the next year, Calvin was censured by the Council for saying, in a private letter to Viret which had been intercepted, that the Genevese "under pretence of Christ wanted to rule without Christ," and that he had to combat their, hypocrisy." He called to his aid Viret and Farel to make a sort of apology.760
Perrin behaved quietly, and gained an advantage from this incident. He was restored to his councillorship and the office of captain-general (which had been abolished). He was even elected First Syndic, in February, 1549. He held that position also during the trial of Servetus, and opposed the sentence of death in the Council (1553).
Shortly after the execution of Servetus, the Libertines raised a demonstration against Farel, who had come to Geneva and preached a very severe sermon against them (Nov. 1, 1553).761 Philibert Berthelier and his brother François Daniel, who had charge of the mint, stirred up the laborers to throw Farel into the Rhone. But his friends formed a guard around him, and his defence before the Council convinced the audience of his innocence. It was resolved that all enmity should be forgotten and buried at a banquet. Perrin, the chief Syndic, in a sense of weakness, or under the impulse of his better feelings, begged Farel’s pardon, and declared that he would ever regard him as his spiritual father and pastor.762
After this time Calvin’s friends gained the ascendency in the Council. A large number of religious refugees were admitted to the rights of citizenship.
Perrin, then a member of the Little Council, and his friends, Peter Vandel and Philibert Berthelier, determined on rule or ruin, now concocted a desperate and execrable conspiracy, which proved their overthrow. They proposed to kill all foreigners who had fled to Geneva for the sake of religion, together with their Genevese sympathizers, on a Sunday while people were at church. But, fortunately, the plot was discovered before it was ripe for execution. When the rioters were to be tried before the Council of the Two Hundred, Perrin and several other ringleaders had the audacity to take their places as judges; but when he saw that matters were taking a serious turn in favor of law and order, he fled from Geneva, together with Vandel and Berthelier. They were summoned by the public herald, but refused to appear. On the day appointed for the trial five of the fugitives were condemned to death; Perrin, moreover, to have his right hand cut off, with which he had seized the bâton of the Syndic at the riot. The sentence was executed in effigy in June, 1555.763
Their estates were confiscated, and their wives banished from Geneva. The office of captain-general was again abolished to avoid the danger of a military dictatorship.
But the government of Bern protected the fugitives, and allowed them to commit outrages on Genevese citizens within their reach, and to attack Calvin and Geneva with all sorts of reproaches and calumnies.
Thus the "comic Caesar" ended as the "tragic Caesar." An impartial biographer of Calvin calls the last chapter in Perrin’s career "a caricature of the Catilinarian conspiracy."764
3. The case of Pierre Ameaux shows a close connection between the political and religious Libertines. He was a member of the Council of Two Hundred. He sought and obtained a divorce from his wife, who was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for the theory and practice of free-lovism of the worst kind. But he hated Calvin’s theology and discipline. At a supper party in his own house he freely indulged in drink, and roundly abused Calvin as a teacher of false doctrine, as a very bad man, and nothing but a Picard.765
For this offence he was imprisoned by the Council for two months and condemned to a fine of sixty dollars. He made an apology and retracted his words. But Calvin was not satisfied, and demanded a second trial. The Council condemned him to a degrading punishment called the amende honorable, namely, to parade through the streets in his shirt, with bare head, and a lighted torch in his hand, and to ask on bended knees the pardon of God, of the Council, and of Calvin. This harsh judgment provoked a popular outbreak in the quarter of St. Gervais, but the Council proceeded in a body to the spot and ordered the wine-shops to be closed and a gibbet to be erected to frighten the mob. The sentence on Ameaux was executed April 5, 1546. Two preachers, Henri de la Mare and Aimé Maigret, who had taken part in the drinking scene, were deposed. The former had said before the Council that Calvin was, a good and virtuous man, and of great intellect, but sometimes governed by his passions, impatient, full of hatred, and vindictive." The latter had committed more serious offences.766
4. Pierre Vandel was a handsome, brilliant, and frivolous cavalier, and loved to exhibit himself with a retinue of valets and courtesans, with rings on his fingers and golden chains on his breast. He had been active in the expulsion of Calvin, and opposed him after his recall. He was imprisoned for his debaucheries and insolent conduct before the Consistory. He was Syndic in 1548. He took a leading part in the conspiracy of Perrin and shared his condemnation and exile.767
5. Philibert Berthelier (or Bertelier, Bertellier), an unworthy son of the distinguished patriot who, in 1519, had been beheaded for his part in the war of independence, belonged to the most malignant enemies of Calvin. He had gone to Noyon, if we are to believe the assertion of Bolsec, to bring back scandalous reports concerning the early life of the Reformer, which the same Bolsec published thirteen years after Calvin’s death, but without any evidence.768 If the Libertines had been in possession of such information, they would have made use of it. Berthelier is characterized by Beza as "a man of the most consummate impudence" and "guilty of many iniquities." He was excommunicated by the Consistory in 1551 for abusing Calvin, for not going to church, and other offences, and for refusing to make any apology. Calvin was absent during these sessions, owing to sickness. Berthelier appealed to the Council, of which he was the secretary. The Council at first confirmed the decision of the Consistory, but afterwards released him, during the syndicate of Perrin and the trial of Servetus, and gave him letters of absolution signed with the seal of the Republic (1553).769
Calvin was thus brought into direct conflict with the Council, and forced to the alternative of submission or disobedience; in the latter case he ran the risk of a second and final expulsion. But he was not the man to yield in such a crisis. He resolved to oppose to the Council his inflexible non possumus.
On the Sunday which followed the absolution of Berthelier, the September communion was to be celebrated. Calvin preached as usual in St. Peter’s, and declared at the close of the sermon that he would never profane the sacrament by administering it to an excommunicated person. Then raising his voice and lifting up his hands, he exclaimed in the words of St. Chrysostom: "I will lay down my life ere these hands shall reach forth the sacred things of God to those who have been branded as his despisers."
This was another moment of sublime Christian heroism.
Perrin, who had some decent feeling of respect for religion and for Calvin’s character, was so much impressed by this solemn warning that he secretly gave orders to Berthelier not to approach the communion table. The communion was celebrated, as Beza reports, "in profound silence, and under a solemn awe, as if the Deity himself had been visibly present among them."770
In the afternoon, Calvin, as for the last time, preached on Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:31); he exhorted the congregation to abide in the doctrine of Christ, and declared his willingness to serve the Church and each of its members, but added in conclusion: "Such is the state of things here that this may be my last sermon to you; for they who are in power would force me to do what God does not permit. I must, therefore, dearly beloved, like Paul, commend you to God, and to the Word of his grace."771
These words made a deep impression even upon his worst foes. The next day Calvin, with his colleagues and the Presbytery, demanded of the Council to grant them an audience before the people, as a law was attacked which had been sanctioned by the General Assembly. The Council refused the request, but resolved to suspend the decree by which the power of excommunication was declared to belong to the Council.
In the midst of this agitation the trial of Servetus was going on, and was brought to a close by his death at the stake, Oct. 27. A few days afterwards (Nov. 3), Berthelier renewed his request to be admitted to the Lord’s Table—he who despised religion. The Council which had condemned the heretic, was not quite willing to obey Calvin as a legislator, and wished to retain the power of excommunication in their own hands. Yet, in order to avoid a rupture with the ministers, who would not yield to any compromise, the Council resolved to solicit the opinions of four Swiss cantons on the subject.772
Bullinger, in behalf of the Church and magistracy of Zürich, replied in December, substantially approving of Calvin’s view, though he admonished him privately against undue severity. The magistrates of Bern replied that they had no excommunication in their Church. The answers of the two other cantons are lost, but seem to have been rather favorable to Calvin’s cause.
In the meantime matters assumed a more promising aspect. On Jan. 1, 1554, at a grand dinner given by the Council and judges, Calvin being present, a desire for peace was universally expressed. On the second of February the Council of Two Hundred swore, with uplifted hands, to conform to the doctrines of the Reformation, to forget the past, to renounce all hatred and animosity, and to live together in unity.
Calvin regarded this merely as a truce, and looked for further troubles. He declared before the Council that he readily forgave all his enemies, but could not sacrifice the rights of the Consistory, and would rather leave Geneva. The irritation continued in 1554. The opposition broke out again in the conspiracy against the foreigners and the council, which has been already described. The plot failed. Berthelier was, with Perrin, condemned to death, but escaped with him the execution of justice by flight.773
This was the end of Libertinism in Geneva.
§ 110. Geneva Regenerated. Testimonies Old and New.
The final result of this long conflict with Libertinism is the best vindication of Calvin. Geneva came out of it a new city, and with a degree of moral and spiritual prosperity which distinguished her above any other Christian city for several generations. What a startling contrast she presents, for instance, to Rome, the city of the vicar of Christ and his cardinals, as described by Roman Catholic writers of the sixteenth century! If ever in this wicked world the ideal of Christian society can be realized in a civil community with a mixed population, it was in Geneva from the middle of the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century, when the revolutionary and infidel genius of Rousseau (a native of Geneva) and of Voltaire (who resided twenty years in the neighborhood, on his estate at Ferney) began to destroy the influence of the Reformer.
After the final collapse of the Libertine party in 1555, the peace was not seriously disturbed, and Calvin’s work progressed without interruption. The authorities of the State were as zealous for the honor of the Church and the glory of Christ as the ministers of the gospel. The churches were well filled; the Word of God was preached daily; family worship was the rule; prayer and singing of Psalms never ceased; the whole city seemed to present the aspect of a community of sincere, earnest Christians who practised what they believed. Every Friday a spiritual conference and experience meeting, called the "Congregation," was held in St. Peter’s, after the model of the meetings of "prophesying," which had been introduced in Zürich and Bern. Peter Paul Vergerius, the former papal nuncio, who spent a short time in Geneva, was especially struck with these conferences. "All the ministers," he says,774 "and many citizens attend. One of the preachers reads and briefly explains a text from the Scriptures. Another expresses his views on the subject, and then any member may make a contribution if so disposed. You see, it is an imitation of that custom in the Corinthian Church of which Paul speaks, and I have received much edification from these public colloquies."
The material prosperity of the city was not neglected. Greater cleanliness was introduced, which is next to godliness, and promotes it. Calvin insisted on the removal of all filth from the houses and the narrow and crooked streets. He induced the magistracy to superintend the markets, and to prevent the sale ofunhealthy food, which was to be cast into the Rhone. Low taverns and drinking shops were abolished, and intemperance diminished. Mendicancy on the streets was prohibited. A hospital and poor-house was provided and well conducted. Efforts were made to give useful employment to every man that could work. Calvin urged the Council in a long speech, Dec. 29, 1544, to introduce the cloth and silk industry, and two months afterwards he presented a detailed plan, in which he recommended to lend to the Syndic, Jean Ami Curtet, a sufficient sum from the public treasury for starting the enterprise. The factories were forthwith established and soon reached the highest degree of prosperity. The cloth and silk of Geneva were highly prized in Switzerland and France, and laid the foundation for the temporal wealth of the city. When Lyons, by the patronage of the French crown, surpassed the little Republic in the manufacture of silk, Geneva had already begun to make up for the loss by the manufacture of watches, and retained the mastery in this useful industry until 1885, when American machinery produced a successful rivalry.775
Altogether, Geneva owes her moral and temporal prosperity, her intellectual and literary activity, her social refinement, and her world-wide fame very largely to the reformation and discipline of Calvin. He set a high and noble example of a model community. It is impossible, indeed, to realize his church ideal in a large country, even with all the help of the civil government. The Puritans attempted it in England and in New England, but succeeded only in part, and only for a short period. But nothing should prevent a pastor from making an effort in his own congregation on the voluntary principle. Occasionally we find parallel cases in small communities under the guidance of pastors of exceptional genius and consecration, such as Oberlin in the Steinthal, Harms in Hermannsburg, and Löhe in Neudettelsau, who exerted an inspiring influence far beyond their fields of labor.
Let us listen to some testimonies of visitors who saw with their own eyes the changes wrought in Geneva through Calvin’s influence.
William Farel, who knew better than any other man the state of Geneva under Roman Catholic rule, and during the early stages of reform before the arrival of Calvin, visited the city again in 1557, and wrote to Ambrosius Blaurer that he would gladly listen and learn there with the humblest of the people, and that "he would rather be the last in Geneva than the first anywhere else."776
John Knox, the Reformer of Scotland, who studied several years in Geneva as a pupil of Calvin (though five years his senior), and as pastor of the English congregation, wrote to his friend Locke, in 1556: "In my heart I could have wished, yea, I cannot cease to wish, that it might please God to guide and conduct yourself to this place where, I neither fear nor am ashamed to say, is the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles. In other places I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religion to be so seriously reformed, I have not yet seen in any other place besides."777
Dr. Valentine Andreae (1586–1654), a bright and shining light of the Lutheran Church of Würtemberg (a grandson of Jacob Andreae, the chief author of the Lutheran Formula of Concord), a man full of glowing love to Christ, visited Geneva in 1610, nearly fifty years after Calvin’s death, with the prejudices of an orthodox Lutheran against Calvinism, and was astonished to find in that city a state of religion which came nearer to his ideal of a Christocracy than any community he had seen in his extensive travels, and even in his German fatherland.
"When I was in Geneva," he writes, "I observed something great which I shall remember and desire as long as I live. There is in that place not only the perfect institute of a perfect republic, but, as a special ornament, a moral discipline, which makes weekly investigations into the conduct, and even the smallest transgressions of the citizens, first through the district inspectors, then through the Seniors, and finally through the magistrates, as the nature of the offence and the hardened state of the offender may require. All cursing and swearing gambling, luxury, strife, hatred, fraud, etc., are forbidden; while greater sins are hardly heard of. What a glorious ornament of the Christian religion is such a purity of morals! We must lament with tears that it is wanting with us, and almost totally neglected. If it were not for the difference of religion, I would have forever been chained to that place by the agreement in morals, and I have ever since tried to introduce something like it into our churches. No less distinguished than the public discipline was the domestic discipline of my landlord, Scarron, with its daily devotions, reading of the Scriptures, the fear of God in word and in deed, temperance in meat and drink and dress. I have not found greater purity of morals even in my father’s home."778
A stronger and more impartial testimony of the deep and lasting effect of Calvin’s discipline so long after his death could hardly be imagined.
NOTES. MODERN TESTIMONIES.
The condemnation of Calvin’s discipline and his conduct toward the Libertines has been transplanted to America by two dignitaries of the Roman Church—Dr. John McGill, bishop of Richmond, the translator of Audin’s Life of Calvin (Louisville, n. d.), and Dr. M. S. Spalding, archbishop of Baltimore (between 1864 and 1872), in his History of the Protestant Reformation (Louisville, 1860), 8th ed., Baltimore, 1875. This book is not a history, but a chronique scandaleuse of the Reformation, and unworthy of a Christian scholar. Dr. Spalding devotes twenty-two pages to Calvin (vol. I. 370–392), besides an appendix on Rome and Geneva, and a letter addressed to Merle D’Aubigné and Bungener (pp. 495–530). He ignores his Commentaries and Institutes, which have commanded the admiration even of eminent Roman Catholic divines, and simply repeats, with some original mistakes and misspellings, the slanders of Bolsec and Audin, which have long since been refuted.
"Calvin," he says, "crushed the liberties of the people in the name of liberty. A foreigner, he insinuated himself into Geneva and, serpent-like, coiled himself around the very heart of the Republic which had given him hospitable shelter. He thus stung the very bosom which had warmed him. He was as watchful as a tiger preparing to pounce on its prey, and as treacherous … . His reign in Geneva was truly a reign of terror. He combined the cruelty of Danton and Robespierre with the eloquence of Marat and Mirabeau … . He was worse than ’the Chalif of Geneva,’ as Audin calls him—he was a very Nero!... He was a monster of impurity and iniquity. The story of his having been guilty of a crime of nameless turpitude at Noyon, though denied by his friends, yet rests upon very respectable authority. Bolsec, a contemporary writer, relates it as certain … . He ended his life in despair, and died of a most shameful and disgusting disease which God has threatened to rebellious and accursed reprobates." The early Calvinists were hypocrites, and "their boasted austerity was little better than a sham, if it was not even a cloak to cover enormous wickedness. They exhibit their own favorite doctrine of total depravity in its fullest practical development!" The archbishop, however, is kind enough to add in conclusion (p. 391), that he "would not be understood as wishing to reflect upon the character or conduct of the present professors of Calvinistic doctrines, many of whom are men estimable for their civic virtues."
The best answer to such a caricature, which turns the very truth into a lie, is presented in the facts of this chapter. With ignorance and prejudice even the gods contend in vain. But it is proper, at this place, to record the judgments of impartial historians who have studied the sources, and cannot be charged with any doctrinal bias in favor of Calvinism. Comp. other testimonies in § 68, pp. 270 sqq.
Gieseler, one of the coolest and least dogmatic of church historians, says (K. G. III. P. I. p. 389): "Durch Calvin’s eiserne Festigkeit wurden Genf’s Sitten ganz umgewandelt: so dankte die Stadt der Reformation ihre Freiheit, ihre Ordnung, und ihren aufblühenden Wohlstand."
From the Article "Calvin" in La France Protestante (III. 530): "Une telle Organisation, un pareil pouvoir sur les individus, une autorité aussi parfaitement inquisitoriale nous indignent aujourd’hui; c’était chose toute simple avec l’ardeur religieuse du XVIe siècle. Le consistoire atteignit le but que Calvin s’était proposé. En moins de trois générations, les moeurs de Genève subirent une métamorphose complète. A la mondanité naturelle succéda cette austérité un peu raide, cette gravité un peu étudiée qui caractérisèrent, dans les siècles passés, les disciples du réformateur. L’histoire ne nous offre que deux hommes qui aient su imprimer à tout un peuple le cachet particulier de leur génie: Lycurgue et Calvin, deux grands caractères qui offrent plus d’une analogie. Que de fades plaisanteries ne s’est-on pas permises sur l’esprit genevois! et Genève est devenue un foyer de lumières et d’émancipation intellectuelle, même pour ses détracteurs."
Marc-Monnier was born in Florence of French parents, 1829, distinguished as a poet and historian, professor of literature in the University of Geneva, and died 1885. His "La Renaissance de Dante à Luther" (1884) was crowned by the French Academy.
From "La Réforme, de Luther à Shakespeare"(Paris, 1885), pp. 70–72.
"Calvin fut done de son temps comme les papes, les empereurs et tons les rois, méme François 1er, qui brûlèrent des hérétiques, mais ceux qui ne voient dans Calvin que le meurtrier de Servet ne le connaissent pas. Ce fut une conviction, une intelligence, une des forces les plus étonnantes de ce grand siècle: pour le peser selon son mérite, il faut jeter dans la balance autre chose que nos tendresses et nos pitiés. Il faut voir tout l’homme, et le voir tel qu’il fut: ’un corps frêle et débile, sobre jusqu’à l’excès,’ rongé par des maladies et des infirmites qui devaient l’emporter avant le temps, mais acharné à sa tâche, ’ne vivant que pour le travail et ne travaillant que pour établir le royaume de Dieu sur la terre; devoué à cette cause jusqu’à lui tout sacrifier:’ le repos, la santé, la vie, plus encore: les études favorites, et avec une infatigable activité qui épouvantait ses adversaires, menant de front, à brides abattues, religion, morale, politique, législation, littérature, enseignement, prédication, pamphlets, oeuvres de longue haleine, correspondance énorme avec le roi et la reine de Navarre, la duchesse de Ferrare, le roi François 1er, avec d’autres princes encore, avec les réformateurs, les théologiens, les humanistes, les âmes travaillées et chargées, les pauvres prisonnières de Paris. Il écrivait dans l’Europe entière; deux mille Églises s’organisaient selon ses idées ou celles de ses amis; des missionnaires, animés de son souffle, partaient pour l’Angleterre, l’Écosse, les Pays-Bas, ’en remerciant Dieu et lui chantant des psaumes.’ En même temps cet homme seul, ce malade surmené s’emparait a Genève d’un peuple allègre, raisouneur, indiscipliné, le tenait dans sa main et le forçait d’obéir. Sans étre magistrat ni même citoyen (il ne le devint qu’aux dernières années de sa vie), sans mandat officiel ni titre reconnu, sans autre autorité que celle de son nom et d’une volonté inflexible, il commandait aux consciences, il gouvernait les maisons, il s’imposait, avec une foule de réfugiés venus de toute part, à une population qui n’a jamais aimé les étrangers ni les maîtres; il heurtait enfin de parti pris les coutumes, les traditions, les susceptibilités nationales et il les brisait. Non seulement il pesait sur les consciences et les opinions, mais aussi sur les moeurs, proscrivait la luxure et même le luxe, la bijouterie, la soie et le velours, les cheveux longs, les coiffures frisées, la bonne chère: toute espèce de plaisir et de distraction; cependant, malgré les haines et les colères suscitées par cette compression morale, ’le corps brisé, mais la tête haute,’ il gouverna longtemps les Genevois par l’autorité de son caractère et fut accompagné à sa tombe par le peuple tout entier. Voilà l’homme dont il est facile de rire, mais qu’il importe avant tout de connaitre.
"Calvin détruisit Genève pour la refaire à son image et, en dépit de toutes les révolutions, cette reconstitution improvisée dure encore: il existe aux portes de la France une ville de strictes croyances, de bonnes études et de bonnes moeurs: une ’cité de Calvin.’ "
A remarkable tribute from a scholar who was no theologian, and no clergyman, but thoroughly at home in the history, literature, manners, and society of Geneva. Marc-Monnier speaks also very highly of Calvin’s merits as a French classic, and quotes with approval the judgment of Paul Lacroix (in his ed. of select Oeuvres françoises de J. Calvin): "Le style de Calvin est un des plus grands styles du seizième siècle: simple, correct, élégant, clair, ingénieux, animé, varie de formes et de tons, il a commencé à fixer la langue française pour la prose, comme celui de Clement Marot l’avait fait pour les vers."
George Bancroft, the American historian and statesman, born at Worcester, Mass., 1800, died at Washington, 1891, served his country as secretary of the Navy, and ambassador at London and Berlin, with the greatest credit.
"A word on Calvin, the Reformer." From his Literary and Historical Miscellanies (New York, 1855), pp. 405 sqq.
"It is intolerance only, which would limit the praise of Calvin to a single sect, or refuse to reverence his virtues and regret his failings. He lived in the time when nations were shaken to their centre by the excitement of the Reformation; when the fields of Holland and France were wet with the carnage of persecution; when vindictive monarchs on the one side threatened all Protestants with outlawry and death, and the Vatican, on the other, sent forth its anathemas and its cry for blood. In that day, it is too true, the influence of an ancient, long-established, hardly disputed error, the Constant danger of his position, the intense desire to secure union among the antagonists of popery, the engrossing consciousness that his struggle was for the emancipation of the Christian world, induced the great Reformer to defend the use of the sword for the extirpation of heresy. Reprobating and lamenting his adhesion to the cruel doctrine, which all Christendom had for centuries implicitly received, we may, as republicans, remember that Calvin was not only the founder of a sect, but foremost among the most efficient of modern republican legislators. More truly benevolent to the human race than Solon, more self-denying than Lycurgus, the genius of Calvin infused enduring elements into the institutions of Geneva, and made it for the modern world the impregnable fortress of popular liberty, the fertile seed-plot of democracy.
"We boast of our common schools; Calvin was the father of popular education, the inventor of the system of free schools. We are proud of the free States that fringe the Atlantic. The pilgrims of Plymouth were Calvinists; the best influence in South Carolina came from the Calvinists of France. William Penn was the disciple of the Huguenots; the ships from Holland that first brought colonists to Manhattan were filled with Calvinists. He that will not honor the memory, and respect the influence of Calvin, knows but little of the origin of American liberty.
"If personal considerations chiefly win applause, then, no one merits our sympathy and our admiration more than Calvin; the young exile from France, who achieved an immortality of fame before he was twenty-eight years of age; now boldly reasoning with the king of France for religious liberty; now venturing as the apostle of truth to carry the new doctrines into the heart of Italy, and hardly escaping from the fury of papal persecution; the purest writer, the keenest dialectician of his century; pushing free inquiry to its utmost verge, and yet valuing inquiry solely as the means of arriving at fixed conclusions. The light of his genius scattered the mask of darkness which superstition had held for centuries before the brow of religion. His probity was unquestioned, his morals spotless. His only happiness consisted in his ’task of glory and of good;’ for sorrow found its way into all his private relations. He was an exile from his country; he became for a season an exile from his place of exile. As a husband he was doomed to mourn the premature loss of his wife; as a father he felt the bitter pang of burying his only child. Alone in the world, alone in a strange land, he went forward in his career with serene resignation and inflexible firmness; no love of ease turned him aside from his vigils; no fear of danger relaxed the nerve of his eloquence; no bodily infirmities checked the incredible activity of his mind; and so he continued, year after year, solitary and feeble, yet toiling for humanity, till after a life of glory, he bequeathed to his personal heirs, a fortune, in books and furniture, stocks and money, not exceeding two hundred dollars, and to the world, a purer reformation, a republican spirit in religion, with the kindred principles of republican liberty."
* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.
648 Principal Tulloch of the University of St. Andrews, in Luther and other Leaders of the Reformation, p. 203 (3d ed. 1883).
649 Inst. IV. ch. I. § 4; Comp. §§ 2 and 3.
650 "Ut semperexitialis sit ab ecclesia discessio."
651 · Ibid. IV. ch. 1, §§ 18, 19.
652 See § 91, pp. 404 sqq.
653 Supplex exhortatio ad Caesarem Carolum V. de necessitate reformandae Ecclesiae, 1543, in Opera, VI. 453-534. English Version by Henry Beveridge, Calvin’s Tracts, I. 123-237. The Strassburg editors call it a "libellus et ab argumenti gravitate et a stili elegantia prae caeteris commendandus, hodieque lectu dignissimus." Proleg., p. xxviii. Calvin wrote this book at the request of Bucer, who urged him to do so in a letter of Oct. 25, 1543. It appeared also in French.
654 Opera, VI. 518 sqq.; Beveridge, l.c., 211 sqq. Compare the Institutes, IV. ch. II. §§ 6-12.
655 Dedication of his Institutes to Francis I.
656 Briefe, De Wett’s ed. IV. 354. Still more striking is Luther’s judgment on the Roman Church (in his book against the Anabaptists): "Ich sage, dass unter dem Papst die wahre Christenheit ist; ja der rechte Ausbund der Christenheit, und viel frommer grosser Heiligen." Werke, XXVI. 257, Erlangen ed. Möhler (in his Symbolik, pp. 421, 437) sees in such expressions so many self-refutations of the Reformers in separating from the Catholic Church, and forgets that they were cast out with curses and anathemas.
657 Matt. 13:24-30; 47-49.
658 · Rom. 2:14, 15, 28, 29; Col. 2:11.
659 Corpus Christi merum, and corpus Christi mixtum. De Doctr. Christ. III. 32; De Baptismo contra Donatistas, IV. 5. The Donatist Tichonius used the less suitable designation of a twofold body of Christ (corpus Christi bipartitum).
660 See Wiclif’s tract De Ecclesia, published by Loserth, 1886. Hus, in his tract on the same subject, literally adopted Wiclif’s view.
661 He speaks of the ecclesia invisibilis in his second Commentary on the Galatians, vol. III. 38. Erlangen ed. The Lutheran symbolical books do not use the term, but teach the thing.
662 The Ninth Article of the Augsburg Confession expressly condemns the Anabaptists for rejecting infant baptism and maintaining the salvation of unbaptized infants.
663 See Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. X. 3.
664 · Expos. Christ. Fidei (written in 1531, and published by Bullinger, 1536): "Credimus et unam sanctam esse, h.e. universalem ecclesiam. Eam autem esse aut visibilem aut invisibilem. Invisibilis est, juxta Pauli verbum, quae coelo descendit, hoc est, qua Spiritu Sancto illustrante Deum cognoscit et amplectitur. De ista ecclesia sunt quotquot per universum orbem credunt. Vocatur autem invisibilis non quasi qui credunt sint invisibiles, sed quod humanis oculis non patet quinam credant; sunt enim fideles soli Deo et sibi perspecti. Visibilis autem ecclesia non estPontifex Romanus cum reliquis cidarim gestantibus, sed quotquot per universum orbem Christo nomen dederunt." Opera, IV. 58. Niemeyer, Coll. Confess., p. 53. Zwingli teaches the same distinction, but without the terms, in his earlier Confession to Charles V. See Niemeyer, p. 22.
665 See above, pp. 95, 177, 211. Bullinger probably agreed with the liberal view of his revered teacher and friend, as we may infer from his unqualified commendation of the last Confession of Zwingli, in which he most emphatically teaches the salvation of the pious heathen. Bullinger published it five years after Zwingli’s death, and said in the preface that in this book Zwingli surpassed himself ("hoc libello sese superans de vera fide nescio quid cygneum vicina morte cantavi ").
666 Inst. Bk. IV. ch. I. § 7.
667 Inst. IV. ch. I. § 10.
668 He concludes his Institutes with this sentence: "Since this edict has been proclaimed by that celestial herald, Peter, ’we must obey God rather than men,’ let us console ourselves with this thought, that we truly perform the obedience which God requires of us, when we suffer anything rather than deviate from piety. And that our hearts may not fail us, Paul stimulates us with another consideration: that Christ has redeemed us at the immense price which our redemption cost him, that we may not be submissive to the corrupt desires of men, much less be slaves to their impiety " (1 Cor. 7:23).
669 Reg. du Conseil, in Annal. vol. XXI. 287. Comp. vol. X. Pars I. 125
670 In the Grand Ducal Library of Gotha are preserved several drafts of Calvin, in his own handwriting, on the various departments of civil government, especially the reform of judicial proceedings. They are published in Opera, X. Pars I. 125-146. "Nicht ohne Bewunderung," says Kampschulte (I. 416), "sehen wir in ihnen den gelehrten Verfasser der Institution selbst den untergeordneten Fragen der städtischen Verwaltung und Polizei seine Aufmerksamkeit zuwenden. Da finden wir ausführliche Instructionen für den Bauaufseher, Anordnungen für den Fall einer Feuersbrunst, Anweisungen für den Aufseher des städtischen Geschützwesens, Verhaltungsregeln sogar für den Nachtwächter, für die Ketten-, Thor-, und Thurmhüter."
671 "Resoluz quil luy soyt donnéung bossot de vin vieulx de celluy de l’hospital." Registre du Conseil, Nov. 17, 1542, quoted in Annal. vol. XXI. 305, and in Opera, X. P. 1. 125.
672 On the Colladon family see La France Protestante, IV. 510 sqq. (second ed. by Bordier). Another distinguished member was Nicolas Colladon, who published a Life of Calvin in 1565, and succeeded him in the chair of theology in 1566.
673 The Spanish censorship was applied to the vernacular versions of the Bible, the works of Erasmus, all Protestant books, the Mystics and Illuminati, the Molinists and Quietists. The natural consequence of this tyranny was the decadence of intellectual and literary activity. See H. C. Lea, Chapters from the Religious History of Spain connected with the Inquisition, Philadelphia, 1890.
674 The Bibles in the Caxton Exhibition, London, 1878, p. 95.
675 "De necessitate reformandae Ecclesiae" (Opera, VI. 459 sq.): "Regimen in ecclesia, munus pastorale, et reliquus ordo, una cum sacramentis, instar corporis sunt, doctrina autem illa, quae rite colendi Dei regulam praescribit, et ubi salutis fiduciam debeant hominum conscientiae ostendit, anima est, quae corpus ipsum inspirat, vividum et actuosum reddit; facit denique, ne sit mortuum et inutile cadaver."
676 Inst. IV. ch. III. § 1.
677 Acta 14:23, Ceirotonhvsante", voting by uplifting the hand.
678 Inst. IV. Ch. III. § 15; comp. ch. IV. § 11 sqq., where he quotes the old rule: "Let him who is to preside over all, be chosen by all.’
679 In his Commentary on Phil. 1:1, he correctly infers from the plural ejpivskopoi, that "nomen episcopi omnibus Verbi ministris esse commune, quum plures uni ecclesiae Episcopos attribuat. Sunt igitur synonyma Episcopus et Pastor. Atque hic locus ex iis unus est, quos Hieronymus ad illud probandum citat, in Epistola ad Evagrium, et in expositione Epistolae ad Titum." In his Commentary on Acts 20:28 (comp. with verse 17), he says: "Omnes Ephesinos Presbyteros indifferentur a Paulo sic [episcopi] vocantur, unde colligimus secundum Scripturae usum nihil a Presbyteris differre Episcopos, sed vitio et corruptela factum esse, ut qui primas tenebant in singulis civitatibus Episcopi vocari coeperint." Comp. also his commentaries on the relevant passages in the Pastoral Epistles, and his Inst. IV. ch. III. § 8, and ch. IV. § 2 (where he quotes Jerome in full). The Lutheran symbols likewise teach the identity of the episcopate and presbyterate (see the second Appendix to the Smalcaldian Articles, p. 341, ed. J. T. Müller); but the Lutheran Churches in Germany have Superintendents and General Superintendents (called "Bishops" in Prussia, "Prelates" in Württemberg). Sweden, Norway, and Denmark retained or reintroduced episcopacy (jure humano, not jure divino). The church government of the Lutheran Churches in America is a compromise between the Presbyterian and synodical system and congregational independency.
680 Melanchthon in this respect went much further and was willing to submit to a papacy, provided the pope would tolerate the free preaching of the gospel. He subscribed the Smalcaldian Articles with the restriction: "De pontifice statuo, si evangelium admitteret, posse ei propter pacem et communem tranquillitatem Christianorum ... superioritatem in episcopos ... jure humano etiam a nobis permitti."
681 He says in this letter, dated Geneva, 5th Dec., 1554: "The ancient Church indeed instituted patriarchates, and to different provinces assigned certain primacies, that by this bond of concord the bishops might remain more closely united among themselves. Exactly as if, at the present day, one archbishop should have a certain pre-eminence in the illustrious kingdom of Poland, not to lord it over the others, nor arrogate to himself a right of which they were forcibly deprived; but for the sake of order to occupy the first place in synods, and cherish a holy unity between his colleagues and brethren. Then there might be either provincial or urban bishops, whose functions should be particularly directed to the preservation of order. As nature dictates, one of these should be chosen from each college, to whom this care should be specially confided. But it is one thing to hold a moderate dignity such as is not imcompatible with the abilities of a man, and another to comprise the whole world under one overgrown government. What the Romanists keep prating about one single head is then altogether nugatory, because neither the sacred commandment of God, nor the established usage of the Church sanctions a second head to be joined with Christ, whom alone the Heavenly Father has set over all." Bonnet-Constable, III. 104. Comp. Inst. IV. ch. IV. §§ 1-4; Henry II. 68, 375; III. 427 sqq.; Dyer, 283 sqq.; 456 sq.
682 By Weber, Henry, and Stähelin, and many others; also by Kampschulte, who remarks (I. 471): "Der Grundgedanke, von dem der Gesetzgeber Genfs ausgeht, ist die Theokratie. Er will in Genf den Gottesstaat herstellen." But Amédée Roget (L’église et l’état àGenève du vivant de Calvin) and Merle d’Aubigné (vol. VII. 120) dissent from this view and point to the limitations of the ecclesiastical power in Geneva. Merle d’Aubigné says: "Calvin was not a theocrat, unless the term be taken in the most spiritual sense."
683 Inst. IV. ch. XX. § 1."Volui," he wrote to a friend, "sicut aequum est, spiritualem potestatem acivili judicio distingui." Epp. et Resp. 263.
684 Conf. Helvetica II. ch. XXX.; Conf. Gallicana, ch. XXXIX. (God has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as the second table of his Commandments"); Conf. Belgica, ch. XXXVI.; Conf. Scotica, Art. XXIV.; Thirty-nine Articles, Art. XXXVII. (changed in the American recension); Westminster Conf. ch. XXIII. (changed in the American recension).
685 He wrote to Farel, Sept. 16, 1541 (in Opera, XI. 281; Herminjard, VII. 249): "Exposui (Senatui), non posse consistere ecclesiam, nisi certum regimen constitueretur, quale ex Verbo Dei nobis praescriptum est, et in veteri Ecclesia fuit observatum."
686 See above, p. 440.
687 The French text in Opera, X. 16. note a.
688 Kampschulte I. 396.
689 In the "Ordinances" they are called Pasteurs, Docteurs, Anciens, Diacres.
690 Inst. IV. ch. III. § 4.
691 This confirms the view I have taken of Calvin’s extraordinary calling (§ 73, pp. 313 sqq.). In his letter to Sadolet he expresses his firm conviction that his ministry was from God. (See § 91, pp. 398 sqq.) Luther had the same conviction concerning his own mission. On his return from the Wartburg to Wittenberg, he wrote to the Elector Frederick of Saxony that he had his gospel not from men, but from heaven, and that he was Christ’s evangelist.
692 poimevne", pastores, Eph. 4:11. They are the same with Bishops and Presbyters. " In calling those who preside over Churches by the appellations of ’Bishops,’ ’Presbyters,’ and, ’Pastors,’ without any distinction, I have followed the usage of the Scripture." Inst. IV. ch. III. § 8. Then he quotes Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5, 7; Acts 20:17, 28. See above, p. 469.
693 "Faire les corrections fraternelles."
694 didavskaloi, doctores, Eph. 4:11.
695 Inst. IV. ch. III. § 4.
696 kubernhvsei", 1 Cor. 12:28; comp. Rom. 12:8.
697 Inst. IV. ch. III. § 8.
698 In his Commentary on the passage. Comp. Inst. IV. ch. III. § 8: "Gubernatores fuisse existimo seniores ex plebe delectos qui censurae morum et exercendae disciplinae una cum episcopis praeessent." The distinction was first made by Calvin and followed by many Presbyterian and some Lutheran divines, but it is denied by some of the best modern exegetes. Paul requires all presbyters to be apt to teach, 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:2; 2:24. See Schaff’s History of the Apostolic Church, p. 529 sq.
699 Acts 6:1-3; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8 sqq.; 5:9, 10.
700 Comp. the Inst. IV. ch. III. 9.
701 "Les corrections ne soient sinon medicines pour reduyre les pecheurs a nostre Seigneur."
702 Opera, X. Pars I. 91-124.
703 The revised Eccles. Ordinances of 1561 provide (Opera, X. P. I. 121) that one of the four Syndics preside over the Consistory with the marshal’s staff (avec son bâton) which signifies civil jurisdiction rather than spiritual regime, afin de mieux garder la distinction qui nous est monstrée en l’Escriture saincte entre le qlaive et authoritédu Magistrat, et la superintendence qui doit estre en Eglise." This regulation of Calvin refutes the assertion of Dyer (p. 142), that " Calvin usurped the perpetual presidency of the Consistory," and that " he wished Beza to succeed him in this presidency."
704 "While he was not president of this body, it may be truly said that he was its soul." Merle d’Aubigné (VII. 120). So also Cramer, Roget, and others.
705 Annal., XXI. 291, sub Février 16, 1542: "Dixième séance du Consistoire, première dont il existe un procès verbal, lequel mentionne entre autres la présence de Calvin et de Viret. Les autres ministres membres du C., sont Bernard, Henri, et Champeraux. Viret est mentionnépour la dernière fois le 18 juillet. Calvin assiste régulièrement aux séances pendant tout l’exercice 1542-43, exceptécinq fois."
706 A. Roget, l.c., p. 31: "Le Consistoire ne pouvait infliger aucune peine, et, chose remarquable, il n’avait aucune attribution doctrinale. L’ancien syndic Cramer, dans l’excellente préface qu’il a placée en tête des extraits des Registres du Consistoire, a fait observer que Gruet, Bolsec et Servet ne sant pas même nommés dans les documents qu’il a analysés; toutes les fois qu’un procès de doctrine est instruit, c’est le Conseil qui prononce, sur le préavis des pasteurs."
707 Opera, XIV. 675: "Nulla in Consistorio civilis jurisdictio, sed tantum reprehensiones ex Verbo Domini: ultima vero poena, excommunicatio."
708 On March 19, 1543, the Council of the Sixty resolved "que le Consistoire n’ait ni jurisdiction ni puissance de défendre la cène, sinon seulement d’admonester et puis faire relation en Conseil, afin que la Seigneurie avise de juger sur les délinquants suivant leur demerites." Reg., quoted by Roget, p. 37. A month before, the government of Bern had categorically refused the right of excommunication to the ministers of Lausanne. Ruchat, V. 211.
709 "Tolero quod tollere non licet," as he says in one of his letters.
710 Roget (p. 67): "Le point de vue soutenu par Calvin dans la question de la cène avait enfin triomphéirrévocablement et, dès 1555, nous trouvons le Consistoire en possession, d’une manière incontestée, du droit d’accorder ou de refuser la participation aux sacrements. Toutefois, le Conseil et les ministres ne sont pas complétement d’accord sur les consequences que doit entrainer l’excommunication."
711 Roget (p. 83 sq.) has collected such exaggerated judgments from several French writers and contradicts them. Florimond de Raemond says: "Calvin se rendit le maistre, l’évesque, le seigneur, disposant de la religion, de l’estat, de la ville, du gouvernement, de la police, comme bon luy sembloit." Duruy: "Calvin eut dès 1541 et exerça jusqu’àsa mort un pouvoir absolu. Il organisa le gouvernement de Genève au profit presque exclusif des ministres du culte réformé." Capefigue: "Calvin réunissait tons les fils du pouvoir suprême en sa personne." Paul Janet: "Calvin a étéle magistrat suprême d’une democratie." Rosseuw St. Hilaire: "Tout excès appelle une reaction en sens contraire, Calvin subordonne l’Etat àl’Eglise." Saisset: "L’Etat devenait une théocratie et les citoyens de Genève n’etaient plus que les sujets d’un petit nombre de ministres, sujets eux-mêmes de Calvin, lequel dominait les trois Conseils du sein du Consistoire et paraissait it la fois le roiet le pontifesouverain de la cite."
712 Friederich Julius Stahl, a convert from Judaism, a very able lawyer and statesman, and one of the chief champions of modern high-church Lutheranism whose motto was, "Authority, not Majority" (although his wife was Reformed and he himself attributed his conversion to the Reformed Professor Krafft in Erlangen), says in his book, Die Lutherische Kirche und die Union (1860), that Calvin introduced a new principle into Protestantism; namely, the glorification of God by the full dominion of his Word in the life of Christendom ("die Verherrlichung Gottes durch die wirkliche volle Herrschaft seines Wortes im Leben der Christenheit").
713 In Tholuck’s ed. of Calvin’s Harmony of the Gospels, I. P. II. 21.
714 Inst. IV. ch. V. § 14. In the same chapter (§ 1) he says of the bishops of his day that most of them were ignorant of the Scriptures, and either drunkards or fornicators or gamblers or hunters. "The greatest absurdity is that even boys, scarcely ten years of age, have, by the permission of the pope, been made bishops." Pope Leo X. himself was made archbishop in his eighth and cardinal-deacon in his thirteenth year. The Roman Church at that time tolerated almost anything but heresy and disobedience to the pope, which in her eyes is worse than the greatest moral crime.
715 He objects to the word clergy as originating in a mistake, since Peter (1 Pet. 5:3) calls the whole Church God’s klh'roi or possessions; but he uses it for the sake of convenience.
716 Calvin quotes also Chrysostom’s famous warning against the profanation of the sacrament by the connivance of unfaithful priests: "Blood shalt be required at your hands. Let us not be afraid of sceptres or diadems or imperial robes; we have here a greater power. As for myself, I will rather give up my body to death and suffer my blood to be shed, than I will be a partaker of this pollution." There is a strong resemblance between Calvin and Chrysostom, both as commentators and as fearless disciplinarians.
717 "Les ministres ont priéque ton advise de fere venyr les gens aut sermon et specialement les dimanches et le iour des prieres affin de prier Dieu qui nous assiste, voyeant le trouble quest en leglise de Dieu et la machination dressécontre les fidelles. arrêté qui impose une amende de 3 solz à ceux qui ne viendraient pas." (Reg. du Conseil.) In Annal., 394 sub Jan. 17, 1547.
718 Roget, Peuple de Genève, II. 29, quoted by Merle d’Aubigné, VII. 124.
719 "Il chante un beau psaume."
720 Registers for April 27, 1546. Henry II. 429.
721 For a fuller statement see chap. XVI.
722 Calvin himself states this fact in a letter to Myconius of Basel, March 27, 1545 (Opera, XII. 55; Bonnet, I. 428), where he says: "A conspiracy of men and women has lately been discovered, who, for the space of three years, had spread the plague through the city by what mischievous device I know not. After fifteen women have been burnt, some men have even been punished more severely, some have committed suicide in prison, and while twenty-five are still kept prisoners,—the conspirators do not cease, notwithstanding, to smear the door-locks of the dwelling-houses with their poisonous ointment. You see in the midst of what perils we are tossed about. The Lord hath hitherto preserved our dwelling, though it has more than once been attempted. It is well that we know ourselves to be under His care."
723 According to Galiffe, as quoted by Kampschulte, I. 425.
724 Take the following rhetorical caricature of Calvin’s and Colladon’s politico-religious code of laws from Audin (Life of Calvin, ch. XXXVI. 354, Am. ed.):, There is but one word heard or read: Death. Death to every one guilty of high treason against God; death to every one guilty of high treason against the State; death to the son that strikes or curses his father; death to the adulterer; death to heretics … . During the space of twenty years, commencing from the date of Calvin’s recall, the history of Geneva is a bloody drama, in which pity, dread, terror, indignation, and tears, by turns, appear to seize upon the soul. At each step we encounter chains, thongs, a stake, pincers, melted pitch, fire, and sulphur. And throughout the whole there is blood. One imagines himself in Dante’s Hell, where sighs, groans, and lamentations continually resound."
725 This letter to Perrin is undated, but is probably from April, 1546. See Opera, XII. 338 sq. and Bonnet, II. 42 sq.
726 Opera, vol. XXXI. 27
727 "Qui imbellis sum et meticulosus"; in the French ed., "tout foible et craintif que je suis." He more than once refers to his natural timidity; but he risked his life on several occasions.
728 Bonnet, II. 133 sq. and 135; Opera, XII. 632 sqq. The date of the letter to Viret is Dec. 17, not 14, as given by Bonnet.
729 To them must be traced the saying: "They would rather be with Beza in hell than with Calvin in heaven." But Beza was in full accord with Calvin in discipline as well as doctrine. The saying is reported by Papyrius Masso: "Genevenses inter jocos dicebant, malle se apud inferos cum Beza quam apud superos esse cum Calvino." Audin, p. 487.
730 Opera, XV. 271.
731 The Galiffes fairly represent the animosity of these old families to Calvin, but far surpass their ancestors in literary and moral culture and respectability, which they owe to the effects of his reformation.
732 The synagogue of the Libertines in Jerusalem opposed Stephen, the forerunner of Paul, Acts 6:9.
733 Gieseler connects both sects, vol. III. Part I. 385; Comp. II. Part III. 266. Strype notices the existence of a similar sect in England at a later period, Annals, vol. II. Part II. 287 sqq. (quoted by Dyer, p. 177)
734 They called St. Matthew, the publican, usurier (a usurer); St. Paul, potcassé (a broken vessel); St. Peter, on account of his denial of Christ, renonceur de Dieu; St. John, jouvenceau et follet (a childish youth), etc.
735 Bonnet, in a note on Calvin’s letter to the queen (I. 429), says of her: "In the later years of her life [she died in 1549] her piety gradually degenerated into a kind of contemplative mysticism, whose chief characteristic was indif-ference towards outward forms, uniting the external ordinances of the Roman Church with the inward cherishing of a purer faith." See above, p. 323.
736 "Un chien abaye, sil voyt quon assaille son maistre; ie serois bien lasche, si en voyant la verite de dieu ainsi assallye, ie faisois du muet sans sonner mot."
737 "Au reste, ceulx qui me cognoissent, savent bien que nay iamais aspire davoir entree aux courtz des princes, dautant que ie nestois pas tentéde parvenir aux estatz" (honorum studio titillatus).
738 The French original in Henry, II. Beilage, 14, p. 112 sqq.; also in Bonnet and in Opera, XII. 64-68. The Latin editions date the letter April 20 instead of 28.
739 A son of Humbert Gruet, notary public of Geneva; not to be confounded with Canon Claude Gruet. See Opera, XII. 546, note 9; Bonnet,Letters fr. I. 212, and Henry, II. 440.
740 On the date see Opera, XII. 546, note 7, and Annal. XXI. 407, sub Lundi Juin 27: "Un é’crit violent contre Calvin et ses collègues est trouvédans la chaire d’un des temples." Calvin’s letter to Viret, July 2, 1547: "Postridie reperitur charta in suggestu qua mortem nobis minantur."
741 Peter Wernly, a canon of St. Peter’s, was killed in a fight with the Protestants, while endeavoring to save himself by flight, May 4, 1533.
742 "Nota bin mon dire." See the original of the placard in Opera, XII. 546, note 8. Gaberel and Ruchat give it in modern French. The editors of the Opera refer panfar to Abel Poupin ("Panfar ventrosum dicit Poupinum").
743 In the case of Gentilis and Servet, however, no mention is made of the torture.
744 The sentence of condemnation (Opera, XII. 667) reads: "Par jceste nostre diffinitive sentence, laquelle donnons icy par escript, toy Jaque Gruet condampnons a debvoyr estre mene au lieu de Champel et illect debvoyer avoyer tranche la teste de dessus les espaules, et ton corps attache aut gibet et la teste cloye en jcelluy et ainsy finiras tes jours pour donner exemple aux aultres qui tel cas vouldroyent commestre." The charges assigned are blasphemy against God, offence against the civil magistracy, threats to the ministers of God, and "crime de leze majeste meritant pugnition corporelle."
745 The sources for the case of Gruet are the acts of the criminal process and sentence, printed in Opera, XII. 563-568 (in French); letters of Calvin to Viret, July 2, 24, 1547 (in Opera, XII. 545, 559, in Bonnet II. 108 and 114); Calvin’s report on the blasphemous book of Gruet, in Opera, XIII. 568-572 (in French, also printed in Henry, II. 120, and in Letters by Jules Bonnet, French ed., I. 311; English ed., II. 254); Reg. du Conseil, July 25, 1547, and May 22, 1550, noticed in Annal. 409, 465.—Of modern writers, see Henry, (II. 410, 439, 441 sqq.; abridged in Stebbing’s translation, II. 64 sqq., without the Beilage); Audin, ch. XXXVI. (pp. 396 sqq. of the English translation); Dyer, 213 sqq.; and Stähelin, I. 399 sqq.
746 Oct. 21, 1540. A day afterwards, Dufour was appointed by the Council, and went in his place. Annal. 267. See above, p. 430.
747 Beza calls him "vanissimus, sed audax et ambitiosus " (XXI. 138). Audin, the patron of all the enemies of Calvin, describes Perrin as "a man of noble nature, who wore the sword with great grace, dressed in good taste, and conversed with much facility; but a boaster at table and at the Council, where he deafened every one with his boastful loquacity, his fits of self-love, and his theatrical airs … . As to the rest, like all men of this stamp, he had an excellent heart, was devoted as a friend, with cool blood, and patriotic even to extremes. At table it was his delight to imitate the Reformer, elongating his visage, winking his eyes, and assuming the air of an anchorite of the Thebaid" (p. 390). Perrin’s chief defender is the younger Galiffe.
748 "Prodigiosa furia." Letter to Farel, Sept. 1, 1546 (in Opera, XII. 377 sq., and Bonnet, II. 56). In the same letter he says: "She shamelessly undertakes the defence of all crimes." She did not spare Calvin’s wife, and calumniously asserted among her own friends that Idelette must have been a harlot because Calvin confessed, at the baptism of his infant, that she and her former husband had been Anabaptists. So Calvin reports to Farel, Aug. 21, 1547 (in Opera, XII. 580 sq.; Bonnet, II. 124). Audin apologizes for Francesca, as "one of those women whom our old Corneille would have taken for heroines; excitable, choleric, fond of pleasure, enamoured of dancing, and hating Calvin as Luther hated a monk" (p. 390).
749 Calvin reminded Francesca on that occasion that "her father had been already convicted of one adultery [in 1531], that the proof of another was at hand, and that there was a strong rumor of a third. I stated that her brother had openly contemned and derided both the Council and the ministers." Letter to Farel, April, 1546. She told him in reply: "Méchant homme, vous voulez boire le sang de notre famille, mais vous sortirez de Genève avant nous." See the notes in Opera, XII. 334.
750 See Calvin’s letters to Farel, April, 1546, and Sept. 1, 1546 (in Opera, XII. 334 sqq., 377 sq., and Bonnet II. 38, 56), and extracts from the Registers of the Consistory and the Council in Annal. 377 sqq. Comp. Dyer, 208 sq.; Audin, 391 sq. Audin gives a lively description of the wedding and dancing at Belle Rive, and the examination before the Consistory.
751 See the extracts from the Rég. du Conseil March and April, 1547, in Annal. 399-406.
752 Calvin to Viret, July 2, 1547 (Opera, XII. 545, Bonnet, II. 108). Comp. Annal. 407 sq.; Gaberel, I. 387; Roget, II. 284. Bonivard and after him Gaberel report that Francesca rushed with her horse against Abel, who barely escaped serious injury. See note 6 in Opera, XII. 546.
753 See above, p. 502.
754 Calvin to Farel, Aug. 21, 1547 (Opera, XII. 580; Bonnet, II. 123 and note); Reg. of the Consistory, Sept. 1, 1547.
755 Reg. du Conseil: "Perrin est relâchévu sa long detention et crie merci." Annal. 417. François Favre had been previously deprived of the rights of citizenship (Oct. 6) on the charge of exciting an émeute against the French refugees, and calling Calvin "le grand diable." Ibid. 413sq.
756 Dec. 16 (not Sept. 16) is the date given in the Reg. of the Venerable Company, quoted in Annal. 418. Beza briefly alludes to the scene; Calvin gives an account of it in a letter to Viret, dated Dec. 17, 1547, a day after the occurrence (in Opera, XII. 632 sq.). This letter is misdated, Dec. 14, by Bonnet (II. 134, apparently a typographical error), and Sept. 17 by Henry (II. 434) and Dyer (p. 219). The last error crept into the Latin editions, against the manuscripts, which give Dec. 17. The letter is defective at the beginning and was first published by Beza. Galiffe overlooked it. See the notes of the Strassburg editors, XII. 633.
757 Audin, Life of Calvin, p. 394.
758 See the extracts quoted on p. 495.
759 Opera, XII. 642 sq.: "Tametsi resipiscentiam manu in manum implicita promisit, vereor, ne frustra surdo cecinerim fabulam." Dyer (p. 221) misdates this letter Dec. 2 (probably a typographical error).
760 Registers of Council for October, 1548, in Annal. 436-438. About the same time the wife of Calvin’s brother, Antoine, was imprisoned on the charge of adultery. Ibid. 441.
761 He was charged with saying that "la jeunesse de cette citésont pires que les brigands, meurtriers, larrons, luxurieux, athéists." Reg. of Nov. 3, 1553, in Annal. 559.
762 Comp. the action of the Council, Nov. 13, in Annal. 561 and 562.
763 Rég. du Conseil, June 3, 1555, in Annal. 608: "Perrin est condamnépar contumace quil ayt le poing du bras droit duquel il a attentéaux bastons sindicalz copé: et tous tans ledit Perrin que Belthesard, Chabod, Verna, et Michalet la teste copé: les testes et ledit poing cloués au gibet et les corps mis en quartier iouxte la coustume et condamnez a tous despens damps et interestz."
764 Dyer, p. 397.
765 He said, according to the Registers of the Council, Jan. 27, 1546, "que M. Calvin estoyt meschant homme et nestoyt que un picard et preschoyt faulce doctrine," etc. Comp. on his case Annal. 368, 370, 371. Audin calls Ameaux "a man of the bar-room with a wicked tongue and a soul destitute of energy" (p. 386). He gives quite an amusing account of the drinking party.
766 Annal. 378 and 380. The ministers interceded in behalf of De la Mare, and the Council gave him six dollars (écus). Maigret was found guilty of neglecting his duties and visiting houses of ill fame.
767 Annal. 411, 611 sq.; Opera, XII. 547, note 14, with references to Galiffe, Bonivard, and Roget.
768 See above, p. 302 sq. That abominable slander about sodomy, which even Galiffe rejects, Audin and Spalding are not ashamed to repeat.
769 See extracts from the Registers, March and April, 1551, and in September, 1553, Annal. XXI. 475-479, 551 sq.
770 Comp. the Reg. of the Council, and of the Venerable Company, Sept. 2, 1553, in Annal. 551.
771 The sermon was taken down by a stenographer, and translated into Latin by Beza.
772 Rég. du Conseil, Nov. 7, 9, 23, 28, 1553, in Annal. 559-562,
773 Reg. du Conseil, Aug. 6, 1555 (in Annal. 611 sq.): "Philibert Bertellier, P. Vandel, et. J. B. Sept condamnes àmort par contumace, Michael Sept au banissement perpétuel, sans peine de mort; six autres àla même peine; deux àdix ans de banissement, et tous aux dépens."
774 Letter in the Zürich library, quoted by Gaberel, I. 612, and Stähelin, I. 864.
775 Gaberel, I. 524; Stähelin, I. 372. Even now the Swiss watches (of Geneva and Neuchâtel) are considered the best of those made wholly or mainly by hand labor.
776 Kirchhofer, Farel’s Leben, II. 125.
777 Thomas M’Crie, Life of John Knox, p. 129 (Philadelphia ed. 1845). I quoted a sentence from this letter by anticipation on p. 263, but cannot omit it at this place.
778 See his autobiography, written in 1642, and his "Respublica Christianopolitana," or "Christianopolis," 1619,—a description of a Christian model commonwealth, dedicated to John Arndt, the author of "True Christianity." Comp. Hossbach, Das Leben Val. Andreae, p. 10; Henry, p. 196 (small biography); Tholuck’s article in Herzog, I. 388 sqq.; Schaff, Creeds, I. 460 (which gives the German original). Andreae’s memory was revived by the great Herder. Spener said: "If I could raise any one from the dead for the welfare of the Church, it would be Andreae."
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