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From the Religious Monitor.
The Editors feel under great obligations to candidus, for the assistance his communication affords them in preparing a sketch of Calvin's life. His learning, diligence and fidelity are manifested in his communication, which will be used, we trust, in a manner corresponding with the wishes of Candidus. His letter, on the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, is received, and shall appear next month.
The Reviews of Dr. Tappan's volume of Sermons, of the first volume of Foster's Essays, and of Mr. Griffin's Sermon on the Death of Dr. Macwhorter, came too late for this month. . These approved compositions, with several i. for the Obituary, prepared for the present number, shall be inserted in the next.
JErrata.-Page 309, first colume, 11th line from bottom, for “beaten soil, &c.
Taken from the Religious Monitor, with the addition of several extracts of a communication received from a learned and ingenious Correspondent.
Biog RAPHY, or the delineation of human character, may be termed the art of moral flainting. It represents the features of the mind, and the actions of the life, as the pencil does the lineaments of the face, and the peculiar air of the person. When the moral portrait is skilfully executed, it wants nothing to make it perfect, but what it is impossible it ever can receive, the animation of real life; and is as superior in importance and utility to the most striking picture, as the living character is to the inanimate bust. It not only revives the memory of friends long forgotten in the silence of the dead, but gives them a much more extensive range of acquaintance than when alive, by transmitting not their name only, but their attainments and virtues, their imperfections and errors, for the imitation and warning of future generations. The lives of those, who have been raised up as instruments of reviving, reforming, strengthening, or extending the knowledge Vol. III, No. 8. T T
of divine truth, must be interesting in no common degree to the friends of genuine godliness. No apology, therefore, is necessary for introducing to the notice of our readers, the following sketch of the life and character of that illustrious reformer and defender of the faith, John Calvin, to whom the greater part of the Protestant world look back, as under Providence, one of the most eminent supporters of that form of religious doctrine and discipline, which they believe to be consonant to the word of God. When we consider his piety, and his ardent zeal for the truth, his uncommon talents, and indefatigable industry, his deep and solid learning, and his various other accomplishments; we must view him as one of the most eminent men of the sixteenth century, and as one of the first, the ablest, and most successful reformers. It must be accounted a very interesting attainment for any modern Christian to become fully acquainted with this won
derful man. A full drawn picture of him would be a valuable present to the literary and the christian world. His vivtues would afford a strong spur to imitation, while his imperfections would remain a most instructive caution. But he, who shall undertake this task, must have a complete acquaintance with the political state of Geneva at that period; with the arts and intrigues of the court of Rome and her partizans at the dawn of the Reformation, and with all the obstacles which the first Reformers had to surmount.
The Reformation of Geneva, being inseparably connected with the history of Calvin, cannot be passed in silence. A concise account of it will spread light on some dark spots in the following sketch.
The Reformation was begun in Geneva long before Calvin's residence in that city. But the obstacles, which prevented or delayed its progress, were many and powerful ; among which must be mentioned the ignorance, superstition, bigotry, and domineering spirit of the higher and lower clergy ; and the turbulent state of the city arising partly from various factions watching one another with a furious zeal, partly from the imminent danger which menaced their liberty and independence from the dukes of Savoy, and partly from their alliance with the Swiss Cantons, who opposed the Reformation with violence.
It was, indeed, something, that the canton of Berne had seceded from the church of Rome, espoused openly the Reformed cause, and encouraged its neighbours and allies to throw off the
papal yoke. It was something too, that the dominant clergy, the regular canons above all, had, by their depraved manners, incurred the hatred of the best of their fellow citizens ; while the interdict of the archbishop of Vienne, in the year 1527, exasperated them more and more, and the detection of priestly imposture opened the eyes of many. In 1532, Farell daringly stept forward in Geneva, and preached the gospel doctrine, convincing many of its truth. This bold, intrepid preacher was not awed by danger. In Basil and Wirtemberg he had before encountered harsh and violent treatment ; but there, as well as in Geneva, his labours were crowned with success. Farell was followed, 1534, by one of his disciples, Ant. Froment, who, under the cloak of a schoolmaster, spread the seeds of the Reformation far and wide. But after awhile the violence of the soldiery, and the increasing tumult of the people, induced him to leave the city. After his retreat, more rigid laws were enacted against the meetings of the Reformed. But all these proved too weak to check the impetuous ardour of the Resormers. They were yet, however, compelled to hold their assemblies in secret, in which the Lord's Supper was first administered by Guerin. They all opposed themselves vigorously to the scandalous superstitions, which had, for ages, defaced the church of Christ, though it must be acknowledged that, in the manner of their opposition, they sometimes went beyond due bounds. From the year 1538, a more solid foundation was laid for the Reformation in Geneva, and the minds of the inhabitants at large became prepared to give it a cordial reception. Viret soon joined Farell and Froment. Their preaching was unremitted, and the number of believers increased day by day. This opportunity was too favourable to be neglected by the Senate of Berne, who had been slandered for favouring the Reformtion by Furbit, a Dominican monk and doctor of the SarbonIne. The Senate demanded the punishment of Furbit. He was actually imprisoned. The irritated clergy could not brook that one of their body should be subjected to the judicature of laymen. They were countenanced by the Senate of Fribourg ; but the more powerful menaces of Berne prevailed with the Senate of Geneva. After a public disputation, Furbit was again imprisoned, from which he was afterwards enlarged at the intercession of the king of France. At length the Reformation was sanctioned by the Senate in a solemn decree of Aug. 27, 1535. Farell, Viret, and Froment had continued, under the protection of the mission of Berne, the irreligious instructions, and claimed an open toleration, till one of the churches in the suburbs was seized by the populace with the connivance of the Senate. Here Farell preached the first sermon, 1 March, 1534. But what wisdom can avail, where intemperate zeal dictates, and when the populace is the chosen instrument for the execution of its fury and its whims? The multitude, inflamed by FarcII’s ardent sermons, broke every
where the images. Farell thundered from the pulpit, even in the churches exclusively reserved to the Catholics, till those who yet remained were removed by a decree of the Senate, and all the monasteries suppressed, and appropriated to secular uses. A comfession of faith, composed by Farell, was adopted, and sanctioned with an oath, which, for its native simplicity, as Ruchat observes, has been highly and deservedly recommended. But what use did the Reformed make of this glorious victory Did they obey the command of their divine Master, to do to others, as they would that others should do to them 2 No. They showed no symptoms of his meekness. They treated the Catholics with uncommon harshness, and proved too often, that they were more eager to imitate, than to abhor their example. The mass was abolished, the images in the church proscribed, and the refractory punished with imprisenment and exile. With the same intemperate zeal they went on reforming the churches in the country, till the civil magistrate interposed, and notwithstanding the cries of Farell, “that the work of God ought not to be obstructed,” obtained a month's time for the dissenters to reflect maturely on a topic so serious. But in this reprehensible point Farell was not alone. Nor was he so guilty, as in more favourable circumstances he might appear to us. He was unquestionably a worthy man ; a man of eminent abilities, and genuine piety. His blemish was the blemish of all the Reformers. Even Melanchton was not free.
He admonished the Senate of Venice of the errors of Servetus, because he had heard that his book was then in circulation. Melanchton procured the death of two Socinians, and approved the condemnation of Servetus. Moreover it ought not to be omitted, as it must influence our judgment respecting Farell’s and Calvin's transactions, that at Geneva religion and politics were uncommonly blended together ; that the Roman Catholics had become dangerous citizens, through their connexions with the bishop and dukes of Savoy, and that the safety of the Republic was often endangered by them. Having given this brief history of the state of Geneva previously to the time when Calvin began to have influence there, we shall now turn our attention to the character and usefulness of that extraordinary man.
John CALv1N, the son of Gerard Chauvin (latinised Calvinus) and of Joanna Le Franc, was born 10th July, 1509, at Noyon, in Picardy, a province of France. His father being a man of talents and probity was highly esteemed by his fellow citizens, and particularly by a noble family, under whose roof John received the first rudiments of education, From his native city he was sent to Paris, where he made uncommon proficiency in the Latin language under Maturinus Corderius, one of the most distinguished teachers of the age, He afterwards removed to the college of Montague, then under the direction of a learned Spaniard ; and there leaving his fellow students far behind him in classical attainments, he commenced the
study of dialectics, the barbarous logic of the schools. His father originally intended him for the church, for which he appeared to be peculiarly fitted, by his early seriousness of disposition, gravity of manners, and abhorrence of vice, which he sharply reproved in his companions. With this view, in 1521, a benefice was procured for him in the cathe. dral church of Noyon, and in 1527, a parochial curacy in the neighbouring village of Pont l’Evesque. But becoming acquainted about this time with Peter Olivetan, a Protestant, he imbibed from him the principles of the Reformed religion, which disgusted him with the superstitious errors of Popery ; and his father beginning to think that the profession of law would be both more honourable and more lucrative, in compliance with his desire, he determined to relinquish theological pursuits. In consequence of this deter. mination, he went to Orleans, and there, under the tutorage of Peter de l'Etoille, undoubtedly the most eminent civilian of his time, entered with such ardour on his new studies, as soon enabled him occasionally to supply his master’s chair. He was indeed more like a teacher than a scholar ; and when he left the University, as a testimony of approbation and high respect, he received an unanimous and gratuitous offer of a doctor's degree. Mean while, he did not neglect sacred learning in private ; but even in this made such attainments as to excite the admiration of all the friends of pure and undefiled religion in that city. He seldom slept till the night was far advanced, and