Imatges de pÓgina

which he remitted none of those labours which bodily strength allowed him to continue, on the 6th of February, 1564, he preached his last sermon. For ten years together he had abstained from animal food at dinner, as the only certain preventive of violent headachs, to which he had long been subject. When his ague left him, he was seized with the gout in his right limb; then with the cholic, and last of all with the stone. Yet, under this complication of disorders, he never uttered a word expressive of murmuring or impatience; only lifting up his eyes to heaven, he used to say, "How long Lord," an expression to which he was accustomed, when he heard of any calamities befalling the church of Christ. On the 27th of March, he was carried in his chair to the senate, when he presented to them a new rector for the academy; he then uncovered his head, and thanked them for all the kindness they had shown him, particularly in his sickness: "For I feel (said he) this is the last time that I shall come into this place."

On the 2d of April, being Easter-day, he was carried to the church, and received the sacrament from the hands of Beza, his colleague, both in the ministry and the academy. He made his will on the 25th, in which he declared his firm adherence to the doctrine of salvation by the cross of Christ, as the only foundation of all his hopes of pardon and eternal life. "Alas! (says he) my study and my zeal (if worthy of that name) have been so languid and remiss, that I confess innumerable things have been wanting in me to the

faithful discharge of my duty; and unless the unmeasurable bounty of God had been present, all my study would have been vain and transient; for which causes I witness and declare, that I hope for no other security of my salvation than this, that seeing God is the Father of mercy, he may shew himself such a Father to me, who acknowledge myself a miserable sinner."

He wished to meet with the senators once more in public; but on account of his state of health, they rather waited on him. He then addressed them in words of gratitude, admonition, and consolation: "Whether your affairs be prosperous or adverse, let this be always before your eyes, that God alone can establish kingdoms and cities, and that he requires mortals to worship him in that character. I exhort the aged not to envy the young, who may have received from the Lord more splendid talents than themselves; and the young I warn against vanity and pride, beseeching them to be modest in their behaviour." Afterwards, he set before them the great danger of error in doctrine, as leading to corruptions in practice ; and concluded with a solemn prayer for every blessing that might promote their individual happiness, and the best interests of the commonwealth. They departed in tears, as from a last interview with their common father.

On the 28th, he spoke to the ministers of Geneva, of the grace which he had received to be faithful in his trust; encouraged them to stand fast in the same grace, and bade them farewel, with many tears and fervent prayers to

God in their behalf. Being informed that his old friend and fellow-labourer, Farel, though sickly, was on his way, from Neufchatel, to see him before his death, he thus wrote to him: "Farewel, my best, and most upright brother; since God is pleased to continue you longer in the world than me, live mindful of our connexion, which was profitable to the church of God, and the fruit of which is awaiting us in heaven. I would not, that you would fatigue yourself for my sake. I with difficulty breathe, and daily expect that my respiration will cease. It is enough that I live and die to Christ, who is gain to his own, both in life and death; again farewel. May 11, 1564.

Farel, however, accomplished his journey, saw Calvin, renewed with him that friendship which even death cannot dissolve, but which will be cemented with the perfection of bliss in the heavenly world, and returned again to Neufchatel. After this, Calvin spent his remaining days almost wholly in prayer, which his difficulty in breathing prevented from being articulate; but the frequent elevation of his eyes, and the serenity of his countenance bespoke the comfort of his mind, and the solemnity of his employment. He was sometimes heard to use the words of David, "Lord, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it" and of Isaiah, "I


did mourn as a dove." also he was heard to say, "Lord, thy hand is heavy on me, but I am abundantly satisfied because it is thy hand." He continued in life till the 27th of May, towards the evening of which day, he quietly breathed out his spirit into the hands of his Saviour and his God.

Thus lived, and thus died,
John Calvin, justly styled, the
terror of Rome, and the apos-
tle, not of Geneva only, but of
the reformed churches. The
day following his death, the
whole city was in the deepest
affliction. Every one lamented
over their illustrious citizen;
the church deplored the decease
of their faithful pastor; the acad-
emy mourned the loss of their
renowned teacher; in a word, all
wept at being deprived of him,
whom, next to God, they regard-
ed as their common parent and
benefactor. His body was at-
tended to the grave, by the sena-
tors, the ministers, the profess-
ors, the students, and almost the
whole city; and laid in a com-
mon cemetry, without any ex-
traordinary pomp, or parade.
According to his own request,
no monument was erected to his
memory: a plain stone only,
without any inscription, was laid
on his grave. This called forth
a few verses from Beza, of which
the following are a translation;
and which, though not free from
the partiality of friendship, are
worthy to be preserved....

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

'Twas Modesty, his constant friend on earth,"
That rais'd this grave, unsculptur'd with a name;
Happy the grassy spot that marks his worth,
More lasting far than marble is thy fame!

Calvin's stature was of the middle size, his complexion dark, his eye bright and penetrating. His dress was plain without being mean; his diet simple and sparing. But his mind was what distinguished him from the bulk of mankind. His original talents were great, and his progressive acquirements astonishing. His mind was acute, and discerned almost intuitively, the connexions of reasoning, and the relation of one subject to another. His judgment was solid and perspicacious; his memory at once quick and retentive. His learning was so extensive and profound, that even Scaliger, whose parsimony of praise is well known, affirmed, that he was not only one of the most exalted characters that the world had seen since the days of the apostles, but that at the age of twenty-two, he was the most learned man in Europe. His ardour was invincible, and though he, perhaps, discovered less courage in his conduct than Luther, he was equally bold in his writings. His temper was naturally irritable, and it must be acknowledged, that it sometimes Murried him into intemperance of language. But, as he advanced in life, grace asserted its power over nature, and rendered him comparatively gentle and forbearing. Of this we have a remarkable proof, in his expressions concerning Luther, who had called him by many strong and unbecoming names, on account of his rejecting the doctrine of consubstantiation: "If Luther should even call me a devil, so much do I revere him, that I should always own him to be an illustrious servant of

God." He has been accused of ambition. Yes, says Beza, and he aimed at establishing a new papacy, for he preferred this manner of life, this republic, and in fine, this church, which may be well called a warehouse of poverty, to every other situation and place. He laboured to accumulate wealth. Yes! for his whole effects, notwithstanding his li brary was sold very dear, scarce amounted to 300 crowns, so that his own words may be justly used: "If I cannot in my lifetime persuade some people, that I am not avaricious, my death will convince them."t The senate could testify, that though his salary was very small, he was so far from being dissatisfied with it, that he persisted in refusing to have it increased. His love to the truth was invincible; his diligence in acquiring it unabated by public duty, or private distress; his anxiety to make it known to others was discovered when bodily strength had failed him, and ceased only with the spark of life. In his sermons and speeches, his manner was grave and commanding; he addressed the understanding of his audience more than their affections, and convinced them by the power of reasoning, rather than by the graces of persuasion. When Farel spoke, it was, like thunder, rousing, awful, overpowering: Viret, like Nestor, was calm, and gently persuasive : Calvin uttered sentences in almost as many words, such was the strength and terseness of his language. Like a true ser

Epist. ad Bullinger. Op. tom. ix. p. 239. col. 2.

Prefat. ad Comment. in Psalms, Oper. tom. iii.

vant of God, and a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, he devoted all these talents, natural and acquired, all his time, and all his strength, to him from whom he received them. His life was a continued act of labour to himself, but of service to the church, of exertion for the glory of God and the honour of the Saviour, and of benevolence and zeal for the salvation of men. Like Paul, he counted not his life dear, that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Now he rests from his labours,

and his

works do follow him. His writings are a treasure of theological discussion; his life was an illustration of the doctrines which he preached, and an ex

ample to all, of Christian conduct; and his death was a proof of the efficacy of the salvation for which he hoped, in the full possession of which he now rejoices in the presence of the Lord.

Reader, whatever be thy talents, thy condition, thy occupation, or thy enjoyments; if thou wouldst die like Calvin, animated with the hope of glory, thou must build on the same foundation, and, like him, transfuse the precepts of the gospel into thy temper and conduct. Be therefore a follower of them, who, though faith and patience inherit the promises.

N. B. In the preceding narrative, mentioned, Beza's life of Calvin, prewhere particular authorities are not

fixed to his works, furnishes the state. ment of facts.

Religious Communications.


By those, who acknowledge the gospel to be a divine revelation, it will be admitted, that this revelation contains great and interesting truths respecting a dispensation of grace to mankind in their fallen state; the provision of a Saviour, and the appointment of a method for their obtaining salvation. Here then a question arises, Are men at liberty to believe or disbelieve these truths? To receive or reject them? This might be thought a singular question, were there not evident occasion given for it by sentiments, which we often hear expressed and ad


vocated, from which it is to be feared, that many practise both on themselves and others dangerous and fatal deceptions. How often is it said to be very immaterial what a man believes concerning one doctrine or another; and a liberality of sentiment towards those, who differ from us in doctrinal matters is, by some, considered as one of the fairest traits in a Christian character. It will readily be conceded, that one man has no right to prescribe to another; that, as it regards his fellowcreatures, every man has a right to think and judge for himself;

and that liberality and charity to is most unbecoming and crimi

a certain extent are to be exercised toward those, whose sentiments differ from our own. But, when the question is asked, Are men at liberty to believe or disbelieve the truths contained in divine revelation; the inquiry is, have they such liberty from the Author of this revelation? When God has made known certain truths respecting the person whom he has appointed to be the Saviour of mankind, the method by which salvation was procured, and the way in which sinners may obtain salvation; has he at the same time given men liberty to believe, or not to believe these truths? Surely it will not be pretended, that men are at liberty to disbelieve the whole of those truths. This would entirely frustrate the design of revelation, which can be no other, than that the truths which God has made known to men, be received and regarded according to their meaning and intention; and if men are at liberty to disbelieve the whole of the truths contained in divine revelation, they are not to be blamed for using this liberty; they may do it with impunity.

It may then be presumed, that no one, who is a believer in divine revelation, will assert a right to disbelieve the whole of its truths. Are any then at liberty to disbelieve a part of those truths? to make a selection and to determine, each one for himself, such and such truths I admit, others I reject? Does not this take away and destroy all due reverence for divine revelation? Is it not assuming a freedom with the truths of God, which Vol. III. No. 10.


nal? On supposition, that men are at liberty to disbelieve a part of the truths contained in divine revelation, it may be asked, what part? Are they not all parts of one great system, and sanctioned by the same authority? Is it not then the duty of men, are they not under solemn obligations to attend to them, and to receive them as a whole; indiscriminately, as thus sanctioned? It must indeed be acknowledged, that all men are not equally capable of understanding and receiving eve ry revealed truth; but according to their capacity must be their obligation. With regard to the great, essential, and most important truths of revelation; those truths, on a cordial belief of which our salvation depends; with such plainness and perspicuity are these truths exhibited and declared, that, if men do not receive them, it cannot be owing to want of capacity; it must be from some other cause; from a temper of heart, which will render them objects of just condemnation.

But let us consider the accountability of men for their faith, with reference to a particular object: I mean our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. Are men at liberty here to believe, or disbelieve just as they find themselves disposed; just as their predominant inclinations may lead them? Are they under no obli gation as to their receiving or rejecting the report of the gospel concerning him? And will they be equally benefitted at last, whether they do in reality receive or reject this report? The testimony of the gospel, concerning

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