Imágenes de páginas

rival, some persons spread a report, that he came as a spy: But his conversation gave sufficient proof of the contrary. Bolsec, a Carmelite, who had left the order, and, under pretence of embracing the Protestant religion, had applied himself to the profession of physic and divinity, took occasion to preach up free-will, and that predestination was out of works foreseen. He charged Calvin with making GOD the author of sin, and by that means contributing to the condemnation of the wicked': As if GOD had been a Jupiter, or a týránt ; alledging farther, that St Augustine was forcibly drawn in to be a patron of this doctrine, though he was not of that opinion, of which he warned them to take heed, as it was a new and dangerous doctrine, and of which he charged Laurentius Valla to be the author. Calvin was present at this meeting, where he heard Bolsec discourse, with admirable patience; and, after he had said as much as he could, Calvin presented himself, and answered most ingeniously to every article for the space of an hour. Besides many places which he cited out of the holy scripture, he quoted so many passages out of St Augustine, as would make a man believe he had studied no other author : So that every one admired it, and shut up all, with this saying, “ Would to GOD that he [meaning Bolsec] who “ hath so much cited St Augustine, had seen more of him « than his covering.” Farel, who was then at Geneva, made a distinct oration to confirm what Calvin had said before him; and, to shew that they were to blame who charged them with error, Bolsec was thereupon committed to prison, where Calvin endeavoured to convince him of his error, as well by personal conference, as by letters. Soon after, by the consent of the churches of Switzerland, he was banished the city, for sedition and pelagianism. It is reported, that ten years after he recanted, in a full synod at Orleans; yet wrote a book of Calvin's life, wherein he very much injured his reputation. All this was the mere effect of malice, and fell by its own impotence. The great Du Moulin observés upon this occasion, that not one of Calvin's innumerable enemies ever carped at the purity of his life, but this profligate physician, whom Calvin had procured to be banished from Geneva for his wickedness and impieties. The reproach of such a man was an honour to Calvin, and especially upon such an account : For, as Milton truly says,

[ocr errors]

Of some to be dispraisd is no small praise.


The great Thuarius, in his admirable history, though a Papist, mentions him with decency and candour ; · Calvin « (says he,) was endued, with great acuteness and force

of genius, and with a wonderful faculty of eloquence ; a very celebrated divine among the Protestants.' · Philibert Bertelier, register of the inferior court of jus, tice at Geneva, had been 'suspended from the sacrament by the presbytery, on account of his vicious life :* But he applied to the senate to be absolved. This was opposed, in the name of the presbytery, by Calvin, who shewed, that the Christian magistrate ought to preserve, not to destrøy, the ecclesiastical constitution. Bertelier was always Calvin's enemy, because he had often reprimanded and censured him for his vicious and scandalous life; and had strenuously opposed his wicked and pernicious designs. This appears by Calvin's letters to Viret, and to Bullinger, in the months of September and November, 1593; in which he cries him down as a bad and audacious man. Beza also represents the wicked qualities of Bertelier, in Cal. vin's life. The clamour which was raised against the mi, nisters, as if, in some respects, they had invaded the rights of the sovereignty, was the reason why the council of two hundred ordered, that the final judgment of causes of excommunication should belong to the senate, and that the senate might absolve the excommunicated, as they should thinķ fit, By virtue of this decree, the senate granted letters of absolution to Bertelier, which were sealed with the seal of the republic. The sacrament was to be administered within two days. When Calvin came to hear of what had passed, he soon resolved. what to do, and preached against the contempt of the sacrament. He raised his voice, lifted up his hands, and said, that he would imitate St Chrysostom, that he would not oppose force to force, but that he would rather suffer himself to be massacred, than that his hands shouldipresent the holy mysteries to those who

iad been judged unworthy of them. This was a thunderbolt, which confounded the faction of Bertelier ; so that it was not thought fit that he should present himself to the communion. The next day after the sacrament, Calvin, accompanied by his consistory, desired leave of the senate, and of the council of two hundred, to speak to the people, about this matter, as it concerned the abrogation of a law made by the people. This made so great an impression on their minds, that it was resolved the Swiss Cantons should be consulted about it, and that the decree of the two hundred should be suspended ; but that none should say the


[ocr errors]

ancient regulations had been infringed. By this means the consistory obtained a complete victory over the senate, and the council of two hundred.

Calvịn dispatched letters to some principal pastors in the Helvetic cities; craving earnestlyattheirhands to respect this affair as a thing whereon the whole state of religion and piety in that church so much depended, that the cause of GOD, and all good men, were inevitably certain to be trampled under foot, unless those cities, by their good means, might: be brought to give sentence with the ministers of Geneva, when the cau e should be brought before them; and so to give it, that it might effectually contain two things; the one, an absolute approbation of the discipline of Geneva, as consonant to the word of God, without any cautions or qualifications; the other, an earnest admonition not to innovate or change the same. His vehement request herein, as touching both points, was satisfied. For though the Helvetian churches never observed that discipline ; yet they returned proper answers to the three questions stated by the senate of Geneva: First, after what manner, by God's commandment, according to the scripture, and unspotted religion, excommunication should be exercised? Secondly, whether it may not be exercised some other way than by the consistory Thirdly, what the use of their churches was to do in this case? The Swiss pastors answered, that they had heard of those consistorial laws, and acknowledged them to be godly ordinances, drawing towards the prescript of the word of God; for which cause, they did not think it good for the church of Geneva, by innovation to change the same, but rather to keep them as they were. Which answer, (says the judicious Hookrer, although not answering to the former demands, but r respecting what Calvin judged requisite for them to ans swer, was accepted without any farther reply; inasmuch

as they plainly saw, that where stomach doth strive with ( wit, the match is not equal ; and so the heat of their former contentions began to slake.?

One of the greatest uses which may be drawn from reading, is to learn the weaknesses of the heart of man, and the ill effects of prejudices in points of religion. No. less a person than the great cardinal Richelieu, has produced an accusation against Calvin, on the credit of Bertelier, than which none' was ever worse contrived, and worse proved ; though it has been adopted, and conveyed from book to book. Bertelier pretended, that the repubfic of Geneva had sent him to Noyon, with orders to make an exact inquiry there into Calvin's life and character ; and that he found Calvin had been convicted of sodomy; but that, at the bishop's request, the punishment of fire was commuted into that of being branded with the Flowerde-luce. He boasted to have an act, signed by a notary, which certified the truth of the process and condemnation. Bolsec affirms, that he had seen this act; and this is the ground of that horrid accusation. Neither Bertelier, nor Bolsec, are to be credited. If Bertelier's act had not been suppositious, there would have been at Noyon, authentic and public testimonies of the trial and punishment in question ; and they would have been published as soon as the Romish religion began to suffer by Calvin's means. Bertelier had no party against him in Geneva more inexorable than Calvin, who held him in abhorrence, on account of his vices. Bertelier was accused of sedition and conspiracy against the state and church : But he ran away, and, not appearing to answer for himself, was condemned, as being attainted and convicted of those crimes, to lose his head, by a sentence pronounced against him, the sixth of August, 1555. No envoy or deputy was ever sent from Geneva upon public business, who was not in a higher station than that of Bertelier ; besides, there were some considerable persons at Noyon, who retired to Geneva, as well as Calvin : By whose means it was very easy to receive all the information which could have been desired, without going farther. If what Bertelier said was true, he would have had his paper when he fied from Geneva: But it is plain he had not the commission be boasted of, after that time. But can any one believe, that, before the year 1555, when those who were called heretics durst not shew themselves for fear of being burnt, a deputy from Geneva should go boldly to Noyon, to inform himself of Calvin's life? Who will believe, that if Bertelier had an authentic act of Calvin's infamy in 1554, he would have kept it so close, that the public should have no knowledge of it before 1557 ? Was it not a piece which the clergy of France would have bought for its weight in gold ? « But why • (says Bayle,) do I lose time in confuting such a ridicu

lous romance ? Nothing surprises me more, than to see so « so great a person as cardinal de Richelieu, depend on this 6 piece of Bertelier; and allege, as his principal reason, o that the republic of Geneva did not undertake to shew - the falsehood of this piece. The truth is, this cardinal made all imaginable enquiry into the pretended proceedings against Calvin at Noyon, and that he discovered

nothing; nothing; yet he maintained the affirmative on the credit of Jerom Bolsec, whose testimony is of no weight in things which are laid to Calvin's charge. Bolsec would have been alrogether buried in oblivion, if he had not been taken notice of by the monks and missionaries for writing some satyrical books against the Reformation. He was convicted of sedition and pelagianism, at Geneva, in 1551, and ban nished the territory of the republic. He was also banished from Bern : after which he went to France, where he assisted in persecuting the Protestants, and even prostituted his wife to the canons of Autun. He was an infamous man, who forsook his order, had been banished thrice, and changed his religion four times; and who, after having aspersed the dead and the living, died in despair. Varillas thought Bolsec a discredited author : Maimburg rejected the infamy that was thrown upon Calvin : And Florimond de Remond owns, they have defamed him horribly. Papyrius Masso spoke very ill of Calvin, but would not venture to mention the story of the Flower-deluce : And he called those mean wretched scribblers, who reproached that minister with lewdness. It is not strange that cardinal de Richelieu, in one of the best books of controversy that has been published on the part of the church of Rome, should be less scrupulous and nice than Remond, Masso, and Romuald ; and that he should give out, as a true matter of fact, the story of Bolsec, which began then to be laid aside by the missionaries ? Richelieu intended to have reconciled both religions in France, but was prevented by death; and there was not one story which people did not believe, when it defamed him or cardinal Mazarin. ' · In 1553 the malice of the factious Genevese broke out so impetuously, as to endanger both the church and commonwealth. About this time, Michael Servetus came to Geneva, where he began to dogmatize. He had composed a book, intitled, Christianismi Restitutio, full of execrable heresies. He annulled the distinction of the three persons in the Godhead. He affirmed, “That the Son and Holy « Ghost were created in the beginning of the world: That " the essence of God was common to all creatures, which • produced a free will in man ; yet the knowledge of good ( and evil was stifled in him, till he was twenty years of « age, before which time a man could not commit any « mortal sin : That it was sufficient to believe, that Jesus

Christ was the Son of GOD; but it was not absolutely * necessary to lay hold on his promises, as all men, both


« AnteriorContinuar »