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and the rest of the clergy arrived, the examination commenced. Servetus, in a previous trial, had maintained that he advocated, in his Restitutio, the same doctrine in respect to the Trinity, which was held by the primitive Fathers. Calvin now came prepared to show that Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian and others before the council of Nice, taught the same doctrine which was generally held by the church. When he argued from Justin, holding the volume in his hand, Servetus called for a Latin translation. Calvin answered that there was none. This apparent ignorance of the Greek language in one who was the editor of learned works, and made so much pretence of deriving his doctrines from the Fathers, appears very strange, and was not satisfactorily explained. The controversy turned upon the use of the word úzótaois among the Fathers, Calvin maintaining that it indicated a real distinction of persons in the Godhead, and Servetus, that it only designated an external appearance. The discussion was a warm one, and Servetus finally dealt so much in personal invective, and was so devoid of all respect for either Calvin or the council, that even the judges were ashamed and grieved at his conduct. Calvin, mindful of the dignity of character which belonged to him, rose up and with the other clergy left the tribunal. Thus this examination closed. Servetus desired to purchase several of the books which Calvin had brought in, and they were readily delivered to him.
At the commencement of the examination on the following day, Servetus presented a request to be released, since in the primitive church heretics were not tried before a civil tribunal, and besides, he had not made any trouble within the jurisdiction of Geneva. The procurator, however, proceeded with the examination of the previous day, and laid thirty questions before the prisoner, who now, seeing the danger of his position, begged with tears to be set at liberty ; excusing himself for his last work, by pleading good intentions, and saying that he had no reference to the church of Germany or Geneva, but to the questions of the schools, in his harsh censures. He also: retracted his errors upon infant baptism. The milder bearing of Servetus on this day, has been attributed to the absence of Calvin, who was never present at the trial, except in accordance with the request of the council.
The council was again assembled a few days after.
Cum plenis buccis convitia subinde evomeret, quorum judices ipsos pudebat ac pigebat, ab ejus insectatione obstinui.
Desire of Servetus not to return to Vienne.
enrator decided, that the request of Servetus previously made, could not be granted, that the laws of the church required that heretics should be punished wherever found, and that he was not entitled to the services of an advocate. Servetus from this time began to show more courage and self-control. Yet he did not cease from his bitterness to Calvin, and sought every means of escape from his fate. He did not, however, entreat for favor as he had done before, when the decision in reference to his petition was made known to him, but declared that he would remain firm in his convictions.
It was decided to give the prisoner still another opportunity to plead his cause, and thirty-eight new questions were added to those before propounded to him. Calvin was present on this occasion, and Servetus again defended the position, that the ancient church did not punish heretics, excused his calumnies against the reformed preachers, and attempted to maintain his claim of agreement in opinion with Capito and Oecolampadius. He however affirmed that if he could be convinced by the Scriptures, he would change his opinions. As this had all along been the chief object of the trial, it was desired that an opportunity should be given for this purpose. But in the midst of these discussions, on the last day of August, the overseer of the prison where Servetus was confined in Vienne came, and requested that he might be given up to him, to be taken back to that city. The council decided that Servetus might have his choice, to go to Vienne or remain in Geneva. Falling upon his knees he begged, with copious tears, that the Syndics of Geneva might be his judges, and do with him as they should see best. On this day he repeated the unjust accusation which he had previously made against Calvin, that his hatred was the cause of his first arrest at Vienne and of all his sufferings. He however expressed his penitence for his hypocrisy, in pretending among the Catholics to adhere to those usages against which he had written with so much warmth. “I have sinned,” he says, “ the fear of death was the cause.” The mes. senger returned to Vienne, after he had obtained proof, that Servetus escaped from prison without the knowledge of the officer under whom he was placed.
On the next day (Sept. 1), a messenger arrived from the lord in Vienne, whose son had received Servetus' property from the king, requesting him to name all his debtors, which he refused to do, as some of them were not able to pay. He was sustained in his refusal by the Syndics. On this same day Calvin went with
the clergy before the council, and began an argument to convince Servetus of his errors. To prevent any evasion he had taken all the questions out of the prisoner's own works. Servetus now pleaded that he was prevented by internal anxiety from einploy. ing himself about such things, and that the church, and not a civil tribunal, was a suitable place for the hearing of matters of faith ; and besides, it was not proper to examine such questions while he was in prison. Calvin replied, that he, believing the cause to be a good one, would willingly defend it in the church, before all the people, but that it was lawfully brought before a civil tribunal according to the code of Justinian; and furthermore, the church were there by their representatives, the clergy. Servetus answered that the church first lost its innocence and purity in the time of Justinian, and that the church of Geneva could not judge him, as his enemy Calvin was its soul; he would joyfully submit himself to the decision of other churches. Calvin readily acceded to the proposition, that other churches should be consulted, but he and Servetus could not agree upon the manner in which the case was to be brought before them. Finally, in their absence, the council decided that Calvin should briefly state the errors of Servetus in Latin, and that he should answer them in the same language. An indefinite time, they decreed, should be given to the Spaniard, so that he might retract erroneous statements and correct those which were distorted, and the whole should be laid before the Swiss churches for their decision. The mildness and consideration of the council in this arrangement, is certainly deserving of commendation, and is a decisive evidence that they did not wish to condemn Servetus “after a mere mockery of a trial.”
Calvin did not present his abstract of the heresies of the Spaniard, which was the work of one evening, until the end of fourteen days, in order to give him time to collect himself and become entirely calm. But this delay, which was intended for the benefit of the prisoner, proved his injury. He became impatient, and sent a petition to the council, in which he stated that he had been six weeks in prison in a wretched condition, and wished to háve his cause brought before the Two Hundred, to whose decision he would submit. But a little while ago, it will be remembered, a civil tribunal was not a suitable place for deciding upon matters of faith ; now it is demanded in preference to the churches. Why this change? If it could be made to appear that Servetus was guided, in any considerable degree, by firm principle, his
The Abuse and Contumacy of Servetus.
course would be a perfect enigma. But selfish ends are too prominent in his whole career. This change of views is accounted for by turning the attention, for a moment, to the party of the Libertines. They desired to make use of Servetus in crushing the influence of Calvin. Perrin was able to command the majority of voices in this council, and had undoubtedly communicated to the prisoner the situation of the city, and his reasons for hope of escape by means of the larger council. The Syndics who had been so lenient and so ready to grant any proper request of the prisoner, now refused to accede to his wish, but gave command that he should be better cared for in prison.
Calvin finally presented to Servetus thirty-eight propositions, all taken from his last work without addition or remark. These of course did not include his objections to the inspiration of the Pentateuch, or his erroneous interpretations of Scripture, as these were contained only in previous works. Servetus' answer was more like the ravings of a maniac than the words of reason and truth. He exhibited a surprising indifference in regard to the erroneous doctrines which were imputed to him, and sought mainly for hard epithets to apply to Calvin. He accused him of being incapable of understanding the truth, of ignorance, of attempting to stun the hearing of the judges, merely by his noisy barking, of being a murderer and a disciple of Simon Magus. The margin of the paper containing the propositions, was covered with such expressions as the following: “Thou dreamest, thou liest,” “ Thou canst not deny that thou art Simon the sorcerer," etc. This spiteful answer was handed back to the clergy for an reply, and the council, whose patience was becoming quite exhausted, allowed Calvin only two days in which to prepare it.
Calvin again confuted the errors of Servetus, especially in ref. erence to the Trinity, showing that many of the proof-passages which he had adduced from the Fathers were directly against him, and that tried by their standard he was manifestly heretical in his views. He also reproached Servetus with his want of proofs for his dogmas, and his indulgence in personal invective against himself. Servetus sent in reply a writing to the council, in which he attempted to excuse himself for the marginal notes
" See proof of this in Henry's Calvin, 111. 172.
* Waterman, in his Life of Calvin, p. 118, says of this reply of Servetus : " It is no presi mption to say that in point of abuse and scurrility, this defence stands : nrivalled, by any one that was ever made by any defendant, however infatuated, in the most desperate cause.”
upon the propositions of Calvin, and another to Calvin himself, but they were of little importance in respect to the points in question. No further answer was made to him. All were dissatisfied and disappointed at his course, and his sincerity seemed almost impossible. His assertions of his convictions of duty and apparent firmness were too evidently the result of angry feeling towards Calvin, obstinacy in error, and especially a false hope of safety from the Libertines.
On the twenty-first of September, the writings interchanged between Calvin and Servetus, 'were sent with the Restitutio to the churches of Zurich, Berne, Basil and Schaffhausen. About a fortnight before, Calvin had written to Bullinger and acquainted him with all the circumstances of the case. He now wrote to Sulzer, preacher at Basil, in consequence of the enemies of the Genevans there, especially Castalio. After the communications were sent to the Swiss churches, the enemies of Calvin were unceasing in their exertions. They induced Servetus to issue a most singular protest against Calvin. He complained of him as a false accuser, an unworthy servant of God in consequence of his persecuting spirit, an enemy of Christ and a heretic. He says in the conclusion: “ Therefore, my Lords, I demand that my false accuser be punished, ' poena talionis,' and be detained prisoner as I am, until the cause is determined by my death or his, or by some other punishment. For this purpose I inscribe myself against him on the said 'poena talionis', and am ready to die if he is not convicted of this (false accusation), as well as other things, which I shall allege against him. I demand justice of you my Lords, justice, justice, justice.-Done in your prison at Geneva, Sept. 22, 1553.” The council did not of course give heed to the accusation, but merely committed it to the public registers. Servetus asked also, repeatedly, for audiences with the council, which were not granted. He also issued a complaint in reference to his unpleasant position in prison. Calvin in the mean time wrote to his friends, expressing his belief that the hostile party would attempt to carry some measure against the church by tumult, and he wished, at this most important juncture, for the aid of Farel and Viret. Yet he exhibited his characteristic reliance upon the justice of his cause, and the aid of a supreme Disposer of all events. He even mentions in his letters passing events, as a marriage, or the occasion of a festival, with all the ease and naturalness of one in perfect quiet. He did not seem like one standing upon ground where he knew were planted nets and