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Calvin's Impatience at Servetus' Importunity


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profitable studies. I therefore pray you to rest satisfied with what I have already done,” etc.!

At the time of writing the above letter, Calvin hoped that Servetus might be turned to a better life by the influences of the Holy Spirit; yet he seems from a letter to Farel bearing date the same day, to have been quite exasperated by the numerous heretical documents sent him to read, and by the wish of Servetus to come to Geneva, if Calvin would afford him protection. “Servetus,” he says, “wrote me recently, and sent with his letter a large volume of his reveries, full of the most pompous arrogance. He said; I should find stupendous things never before heard of therein! If I was willing, he would come here; but I am unwilling to give him my protection. For if he shall come, if my authority avails anything, I will not suffer him to go away alive."

- This last unfortunate expression has given occasion for numerous needless calumnies and reproaches from the opponents of Calvin. The simple and unprejudiced state of the case seems to be this: Calvin had received and answered the request of Servetus and was giving an account of it to Farel. And this was a mere expression of impatience which he felt at Servetus' conduct, and the fear that he might give occasion for condign punishment. That he had deliberately designed to compass his death is confuted by the letter above quoted to Frellon, written the same day, in which he expresses the hope that Servetus may yet be turned from his errors to the truth. Besides, if he had desired the Spaniard's death, he would not have prevented him from coming to Geneva. It is to be regretted that Calvin gave way to his impatience, that “wild animal which he had not yet quite tamed,” but we are not able to persuade ourselves that there was in this expression, a particle of deliberate malice. It was certainly much milder than the assertions of others who had not a tithe of the occasion for severity that Calvin had.2

The correspondence between Calvin and Servetus entirely ceased before 1548. For it appears from a letter from Calvin to Viret, that since Servetus could obtain no further answers from him, he had attacked Viret. “I believe,” Calvin says, “ you once read what I answered that man. I wished not to contend any longer with one so desperately headstrong and heretical ; and it was certainly well to obey the injunction of the apostle Paul. Now he has made an assault upon you. How far it will be adFeb. 13, 1546. ? See the declaration of Bucer quoted above P.

55. note. VOL. III. No. 9.

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visable for you to withstand his frenzy, you can judge. He will extort nothing further from me.”

Servetus sent to Calvin the manuscript of his Restitutio, by means of the bookseller Frellon, in order to ohtain his opinion upon it. He afterwards desired Calvin to return it, so that he might make alterations. But it was in the hands of Viret, in Lausanne, and was accordingly not sent. After all communication between him and Calvin was suspended, Servetus wrote to the preacher Pepin at Geneva, in order to obtain it through him ; but as it did not come, Servetus made changes in another copy which he had, and gave it to the press. His third letter 10 Pepin has been preserved, and is well worthy of perusal, as indicative of the spirit of the man. It is as follows: “ Although my letter (the twelfth) to Calvin shows very clearly that the law is no longer in force, yet I will refer to still another passage, in order that you may better comprehend the new order of things which has been introduced by Christ's coming. If you read Jer. xxxi. you will distinctly perceive that the obligatory force of the decalogue is superseded. The prophet there teaches, that the covenant with the fathers when they came out of Egypt, is abolished; so also Ezekiel, in Chapter xvi, and Paul in Hebrews viii. God does not now receive us as his, on account of this covenant, but through faith alone in Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. See now what sort of a gospel you have, entirely confused as it is by the law. Your gospel is without the One God, without true faith, without good works. In the place of one God you have a threeheaded Cerberus, in place of true faith you have a hurtful fancy. Good works

you consider as nothing more than vain shadows. Faith in Christ is to you a mere show without substance. Man is nothing more than a block of wood, and God a monster without free-will. The divine regeneration by water you do not understand, and it is only a fable to you. You close the kingdom of heaven to men, by excluding it from us as a mere imaginary thing. Wo, wo, wo to you. By this last letter I wish you to be warned, so that you may be turned to a better belief. This is the last of my admonitions. There is perhaps a feeling of vexation in you, that I join in this struggle of Michael, and wish you also to be a fellow combatant with him. Read attentively this passage (in the Revelation), and you will see that men are there spoken

A me nihil posthac extorquebit.—Mss. Gen. Sept. 1548. 2 Chapter xii.


The Restitution of Christianity.


of who, placing their lives in jeopardy, shall conquer in the contest by the blood and as witnesses of the Lord. That they shall be called angels is customarily said in the Bible. Do you not see that the church of Christ, already so long wandering in the desert, is here spoken of? Is not a future state of the church here in. tended, as John himself affirms ? Who is that accuser who formerly complained of us for trampling upon the law and the commands? Before the struggle, John says, will the accusation take place and the corruption of the world. Then shall the conflict ensue -and the time is near. Who are those who shall obtain the victory over the beast? and who shall not have his mark? I am well assured that I shall suffer death for this cause, but I am not troubled in spirit on that account, so that I, a disciple, may be like my master.— I am sorry that I cannot through you obtain my manuscript which is in Calvin's hands; so as to improve some passages in it. Farewell and expect no more letters from me. I will stand upon my watch-tower and watch, to see what he will say; for he will come, he will surely come and will not delay.”

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The Restitution of Christianity. Servetus' Work on the Restitution of Christianity appeared in January, 1553. He attempted first to obtain a publisher for it at Basil, but did not succeed. The archbishop Palmier, his patron, had established some printers in Vienne, and to these he next tumed. The overseer of the press, W. Gueroult, who had been banished from Geneva and was an enemy of Calvin, was easily induced to favor the work. The publisher, B. Arnoullet, hesitated to issue a book without the sanction of the clergy, but was finally prevailed upon by pecuniary inducements and by assurances of the harmless character of the book. Two presses

This work was an octavo, 734 pages, and the whole title is as follows : Christianismi Restitutio, totius Ecclesiae A postolicae ad sua limina vocatio, in integrum restituta cognitione Dei, fidei Christi, justificationis nostrae, regenerationis baptismi, et coenae Domini manducationis. Restituto denique nobis regno coelesti, Babylonis impiae captivitate soluta, et Antichristo cum sais penitus destructo.

και εγένετο πόλεμος εν τω ουρανό. .

M. S. V.

בָעֵת הַהִיא יַעֲמֹד מִיכָאֵל השר

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were put into operation in secret, and Servetus himself corrected the sheets. After about three months the work appeared without the name of the author or the place of publication. Five bales of them were sent to Lyons, the same number to Chatillon, and several copies to Frankfort and Geneva.

The general character of this work may be inferred from the Introduction. " We design,” says the author, “ to disclose the divine revelation of the first centuries—the great mystery of faith which is beyond all controversy. The God who before was not seen, we shall now see; since the veil is removed from his face, we shall behold him shining upon us.”—Then follows a prayer, the sincerity of which may be judged by his subsequent conduct. “ O Christ Jesus, Son of God, reveal thyself to thy servant, in or. der that so great a revelation may be truly clear to us. Grant me now thy good Spirit and thy efficacious word; guide my pen and my thoughts that I may describe the glory of thy divinity, and set forth the true faith in thee. This is thy cause, which I, by an internal divine impulse, have been induced to defend, since I was zealous for thy truth. I indeed long since undertook this cause, and am now again urged to it, since the time is certainly now fulfilled. Thou hast taught us that the light must not be concealed, and wo is to me if I preach not the gospel.” Servetus seems to have considered himself as especially designated by God, to make known truths which had long been lost, or rather had never been clearly revealed. The apostles had but dimly understood what he was about distinctly to make known. He was indeed in the succession of the apostles, but he towered far above all the rest in the series. That which was but obscurely understood and hinted at in the words : “ In the beginning was the Word,” now was to have its complete disclosure. How different this arrogant, profane, boasting spirit from the reverent, teachable, humble feeling with which Calvin always approached God and his word. After years of attentive study, he did not venture to attempt an explanation of the Apocalypse, but the wandering Spaniard, who was skilled in astrological science, considered himself altogether equal to the task. Listen to his explanations of the twelfth chapter: "The dragon that will destroy the woman and her child is the pope; the woman is the church; her son whom God rescues, the faith of Christians. 1260 prophetical days or years the church must remain under the dominion of antichrist; then the controversy against the dragon was to commence; Michael and his angels conquer after the dragon has slain many;

Arrest of Servetus in Vienne.

65 the good and the bad contend together upon the earth. This conflict is now going on, the hosts of Michael are the true witnesses of the church. At the time of Constantine the great, the dragon began to drive the church unto the desert. Christ ceased to reign when the true doctrine in reference to his person was mistaken at the council of Nice, and the divine Being separated into three persons.” It does not appear that Servetus ever gave himself out as the angel Michael himself, but it is evident that he considered himself one of his most important and valiant combatants with the dragon. A biographer of Calvin says, rather pertinently, that if Servetus means by with, for the Dragon, his claim is a just one.

It is not necessary, would the limits of one Article allow it, to attempt an enumeration of the contents of this work, oftentimes inconsistent with and contradictory to itself. Some of the dogmas of the author have already been noticed, and they will appear further in the account of his trial at Geneva. It is, however, but justice to Calvin to say, that it was not, as has been often maintained, his favorite doctrines, such as predestination and perseverance, that Servetus especially impugned. The Trinity occupied the first place in the book, and the author also showed himself an Antinomian, Pantheist and Materialist, and what is more than all in the opinion of his judges, an open and violent blasphemer.

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Trial and Condemnation of Servetus in Vienne. It is well known that the Restitution of Christianity was specially obnoxious to the Catholics, and led to the arrest and trial of Servetus in Vienne. It has been often alleged that Calvin was the occasion of this trial, but it is clear that if he was so, it was without design on his part. The accusation of direct communication with Tournon and the other officers of the Inquisition, is too improbable to deserve even a passing notice. The following seems to be the true state of the case. There lived in Geneva, when Servetus' book was sent there, a refugee from Lyons, William Trie, who had a friend at the latter place by the name of Arney, who was a zealous Catholic and attempted to persuade

· Certes on trouvera que ce n'est pas sans raison que cet impie s'appliquait ces paroles, pourvu que par ces mots avec le dragon on n'entende pas contre le dragon, mais pour le dragon.-Vie de Calvin, Genera 1830, p. 86.

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