Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

of the Academy, and a Constitution. In October of the same year, an act of the legislature was obtained, incorporating them and their associates by the name of "The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences," with the powers usually granted to similar bodies. Their stated meetings are on the fourth Tuesday of every second month, and their annual meeting on the fourth Tuesday of October, for the choice of officers, at which time an oration is pronounced by one of the members. Each member pays a small fee on admission, and one dollar annually, to the funds of the Academy.

The objects of the Academy are the promotion of every branch of science and all useful arts; but their attention has been principally directed to procure a statistical account of Connecticut. Some progress has been made in the collection of materials. A specimen of this work, comprehending a statistical account of the town of New Haven, from materials collected by the members belonging to that town, is now preparing for the press, and will probably be

[blocks in formation]

THE fourth volume of Scott's Com. mentary on the Bible, embracing the N. Testament, publishing by W. W. Woodward of Philadelphia, is printed as far as the sixteenth chapter of St. John's gospel. The English revised edition, which the American editor copies, is not yet completed, which occasions the delay. The remainder of the English copy is expected early in the spring.

Mr. Woodward is about issuing proposals for publishing the works of Dr. Scott, consisting of sermons, essays, treatises, &c. in three or four handsome 8vo. volumes, to be copied from an elegant edition just printed in London. These volumes, from the pen of so eminent a divine, we doubt not will be highly acceptable to the American religious public.

Poetry.

Since 1780, the following lines of Cowper emphatically apply to Massachusetts :

"SLAVES cannot breathe in Massachusetts; if their lungs
Receive our air, that moment they are free;

They touch our country, and their shackles fall..
That's noble and bespeaks a nation proud
And jealous of the blessing. Spread it, then,
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein

Of our republic: That where Columbia's pow'r
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too!"

TO CORRESPONDENTS.

ALPHA, XENOS, C. D. and H. are received and on our files for publication. The request of Simeon, whose communication is received, shall be faithfully attended to, as soon as prior engagements are fulfilled.

We regret the necessity of deferring till the next month, the review of Mr. Griffin's sermon, which shall then certainly appear, together with one of Rev. Mr. Taggart's sermon before the Hampshire Missionary Society, and obituary notices of Deacon John Larkin, Rev. Dr. Linn, and several others, prepared for this number.

The request of Candidus in respect to his Prolegomena and Prize Questions shall be attended to next month. The delay is unavoidable.

[blocks in formation]

SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF JOHN CALVIN,

Taken from the Religious Monitor, with the addition of several extracts of a communication received from a learned and ingenious Correspondent.

Continued from page 345.

"THE time at length arrived," says Beza, "when the Lord was to shew favour to the church at Geneva." The syndics who had given authority and effect, as well as secretly instigated, to the decree of banishment, were removed from the government either by death or by exile. The people, also, who had never wholly forgotten their injured pastors, afraid of continuing exposed to the infamy to which their unchristian conduct subjected them among their Protestant brethren, and, perhaps, expecting to derive even political advantages from the presence and counsels of Calvin, began to feel their loss, and earnestly solicited his return. This illustrious exile had resolved to live and die at Strasburg; and, therefore, at first refused the invitation of the Senate and people; not from any diminution of his affection to them, but from averVol. III. No. 9.

A Aa

Re

sion to political controversies and tumultuous assemblies, and from a persuasion of his being eminently useful to the church at Strasburg. Their solicitations, however, becoming daily more unanimous and urgent, Calvin feared to resist what might be a call from God; and having stipulated for the recal of his colleague Viret, returned to Geneva on the 13th September, 1541, and was cordially received by every order of the citizens. stored to his importunate people, and remembering the fatal effects of their former irregularities, he immediately established a form of discipline, and an ecclesiastical consistory, with power to censure the disorderly, the vicious, and the profane, and to punish them if incorrigible or contumacious, even to the length of excommunication and imprisonment. The people professed to submit to this new arrangement,

[merged small][ocr errors]

The peace of the city, and the authority of the church, being thus reestablished, Calvin, to prove his conversion from Popery, which denied marriage to its priests, by the advice of his friend, Martin Bucer, in 1540, married Idolette de Bure, widow of an Anabaptist citizen of Liege, whom he had been the instrument of converting. She died in 1549, leaving a son, who did not long survive her, to join with his afflicted father, in embalming her virtues in their memory, and with their tears.

The labours of this apostle of reformation were at this time truly astonishing. Besides writing commentaries, publishing controversial treatises, and corresponding with the Protestants in England, France, Germany, and Poland, which alone would have occupied the whole time and talents of an ordinary mind, every other Sabbath he preached twice; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, read lectures to students of theology; assisted in the ecclesiastical consistory on Thursday; and on Friday gave a critical exposition of difficult passages of scripture to the different ministers in the city. The hand of the Lord was with him; he obtained favour in the sight of the Protestant world, and was held in such esteem, that multitudes from every Christian country, resorted to Geneva, to consult him in cases of religious doctrine and government, or to hear, under his personal ministry, the truth as it is in Jesus.

That impatience of restraint, restlessness of ambition, and licentiousness of manners, by which many of the Genevese were characterised, soon appeared in their opposition to the discipline, which Calvin, with their seeming concurrence, had instituted. They affirmed, that he had taken advantage of their state of dissension, to force it on them as the mean of peace, before they had an opportunity of deliberately examining either its nature, or its tendency; that the power of excommunication, as extending to civil rights, was vested solely in the hands of the magistracy, not in ecclesiastical assemblies; that no other Protestant church had ever thought of assuming it; and that, to exercise such a power, was to revive in another form the spiritual ty ranny from which they had so lately been delivered. The number, the violence, or the clamour of his opponents, did not intimidate Calvin, even so far as to induce him to propose terms of accommodation. prosecuted his original plan, without altering its form, or relaxing its severity; endeavoured to prove its conformity to the precepts of scripture; urged its obligation on his fellow citizens, from their voluntary profession of adherence to it; showed how different it was from the galling yoke of popish tyranny; repelled the objections of the learned, and the insinuations of the dissolute; and confirmed his statement, by the testimonies of Ecolampadius, Zuinglius, Melancthon, Bucer, and other eminent reformers.

He

The period from 1544 to 1552, Calvin spent in the exer

cise of his ministerial functions at Geneva, in preparing his commentaries on various parts of scripture, and in maintaining a friendly correspondence with the reformed churches and their pastors. Few facts have been transmitted to us concerning this part of his life; though, most probably, it was the season of his greatest pastoral usefulness and personal comfort. A mind such as Calvin's could not be inactive, and under the influence of godliness, its exertions would be directed to the benefit of mankind. We accordingly find him procuring a decree of the consistory, not only to authorise, but to command the ministers, annually to visit every family under their care, that they might ascertain the state of Christian knowledge in their congregations, and privately give them the admonitions and instructions which were suited to their case.

"It is scarcely credible, (says Beza in his life of Calvin) with what happy effects this was followed." Such a duty is undoubtedly necessary, to enable a pastor to know how to adapt his public instructions to the condition of his people, and must naturally tend to ensure their affection to his person, their esteem for his character, and their attention to his ministrations.

It is highly probable, that soon after his return to Geneva, he formed and began to execute his plan for erecting a seminary of theological education. He accordingly organized a most splendid system of religious instruction, and fixed on Geneva as the centre whence its influence was to be universally diffused.

"He laid a scheme for

sending forth from this little republic, the succours and ministers that were to promote and propagate the Protestant cause through the most distant nations, and aimed at nothing less, than rendering the government, discipline, and doctrine of Geneva, the model and rule of imitation to the reformed churches throughout the world. A cir

cumstance that contributed much to the success of his designs, was the establishment of an academy at Geneva, which the Senate of that city founded at his request; and in which he himself," and afterwards his colleague Beza, "with other divines of eminent learning and abilities, taught the sciences with the highest reputation."*

influence

So great was the which the opinions of Calvin had on the minds of the people, that his simple disapprobation of a doctrine made them reject it as unworthy of credit. Of this we have a proof, in the case of Castalio, a man of talents and literature, whom Calvin had patronized while at Strasburg, and for whom he had procured a professorship in the new academy at Geneva; but whose translation of the scriptures into French, his taste and knowledge of the language forced him to censure as not only inelegant, but vulgar and obscure. The irritation which Castalio felt on this account, moved him to attempt to counteract Calvin's authority, by disseminating some doctrines which he knew he abhorred. But he himself was the only sufferer; for the people immediately denounced him as a heretic;

* Mosheim, Cent. xvi. 3. pt. 2.

[ocr errors]

and he voluntarily resigned his academic chair, most probably as the only way of avoiding the disgrace of expulsion.*

He did more, however, than merely express his disapprobation of the licentious doctrines of the Libertines, a sect that arose in Flanders about the year 1525, and was afterwards countenanced by the queen of Navarre, from mistaken notions of the piety of some of its leaders. Their tenets were impious in the extreme, and subversive of every principle of morality; for they did not hesitate to ascribe to the secret agency of the Spirit of God, all the thoughts, and purposes, and actions of men, sinful as well as holy. Calvin not only refuted their opinions in a particular treatise, but wrote to the queen of Navarre, importunately soliciting her to withdraw her patronage from these enemies of the gospel. Though he offended the queen by this spirited conduct, his authority, connected with the force of argument dis played in his treatise, had the desired effect of checking the progress of these fanatical and dangerous principles.†

During the plague at Geneva in 1546, violent commotions were excited by disputes about the right of succession to many who were suddenly carried off before they had nominated their heirs. The confusion thus occasioned by the fluctuating state of property, was increased in

* Spon. histoire de Geneve, tom. ii.

p. 57.

For a particular account of the history and opinions of this sect, vid. Calvini Instruct. adv. Libertinos passim oper. tom. viii. p. 374 ed. Amst. 1667, and Mosheim ut supra.

1550 by the opposition which was made to the abolition of eve. ry holiday, except the Sabbath, and by the revival of the controversy concerning the jurisdiction of the church. But the most interesting contest in which Calvin during this period engag ed, respected the truth and tendency of the doctrine of abso lute predestination. It was begun by Bolsec, originally a Carmelite friar, who had embraced the reformed religion, and who in 1551 openly avowed, and publicly preached at Geneva, the sentiments afterwards adopted by Arminius, that the decree of predestination had a respect to faith and good works, foreseen as its conditions. He charged Calvin with making God the author of sin; with encouraging sinners in security, and believers in licentiousness; with misrep resenting the opinions of Augus tine, and with leading the people blindfold to destruction. Calvin, who was present on one of the occasions when Bolsec accused him of these dangerous sentiments, immediately ascended the pulpit, and replied to every article with such precision and energy, as effectually silenced the objections of his enemies, and confirmed the faith of his friends. The whole tenor of his "warning against the Liber tines," and the explicit manner in which, in all his writings, he uniformly guards his readers against the perversion or abuse of the doctrine of unconditional decrees, furnish innumerable and unequivocal proofs that these accusations were altogether unfounded: "Paul," says he, "teaches us, that to this end we are elected, that we may lead holy and un

« AnteriorContinua »