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Biographia Evangelica.



TH "HIS eminent Reformer was born, on the tenth of

July, 1509, at Noyon, a city of France, in the territory of Soissons, fifty-eight miles N. E. of Paris, His parents were Gerhard Calvin and Jane Francke, who enjoyed a decent fortune, and bestowed on him a liberal education. They intended him for the service of the church, and sent him from the grammar-school to the college of La Marche in Paris, where he was instructed in the grounds of literature by Maturinus Corderius, who was one of the best grammarians and schoolmasters that could be desired; for he understood the Latin tongue very well, was a man of worth, and diligently applied himself to his function ; being as careful to form his scholars to wisdom, as to good Latin. Calvin afterwards dedicated to him his commentary upon the first epistle to the Thessalonians. He was removed from his tuition, and placed under the care of Hispanus, a Spanish master, in Montague college, where he studied logic and divinity.

As Calvin was designed for the church, his father early, obtained for him a benefice in the cathedral of Noyon. Those who report that Calvin was a canón there, are mistaken : The benefice was not a canonicate, but a chapel called de la Gesine, to which he was preferred on the twentyfirst of May, 1521. He was presented to the cure of Marteville on the twenty-seventh of September, 1527 ; which, on the fifth of July, 1529, he exchanged for the cure of Pont l'Eveque, a village near Noyon, where his father was born. But we must observe, that Calvin was VOL. II.




never in priest's orders ; nor any farther an ecclesiastic than by simple tonsure.

Calvin was engaged by Robert Olivetan to study religion in its source, which made him resolve to renounce all superstitions; especially as his father had altered his mind, and chose rather to make him an advocate than a divine. Olivetan was his kinsman, and intended to bring him over to the doctrine of the Reformers: So that after Calvin had finished his humanity studies at Paris, he was sent to Orleans, where he studied the civil law under the direction: of Peter d' l'Etoile, who was president in the parliament of Paris, and called it in Latin Petrus Stella. From thence he was sent to Bourges, to perfect himself in that study under Andrew Alciat, a Milanese, and a great Civilian, who was invited from Milan by Francis I. to promote the knowledge of the civil law in the university of Bourges, where the fame of his abilities drew from all parts a great number of students. He mixed a great deal of literature with the explication of the laws, and happily banished that barbarous language, which had till then prevailed in the lectures and writings of the Civilians. For this he is highly extolled by Thuanus; and he afterwards wrote a lively description of the abuses of a monastic life.

Calvin made great progress in the civil law; and pursued his private studies in the holy Scriptures with equal

He was incited to the latter by Melchior Wolmar, who was professor of Greek at Bourges, and secretly a Lutheran. Wolmar made Calvin a master of the Greek language; and Calvin afterwards dedicated to him his comment upon the second epistle to the Corinthians; as he had done that upon the Thessalonians to his Latin master. Corderius.

While Calvin was studying the civil law at Bourges, he preached several sermons in a neighbouring town called Liveria : But his father died in 1582 : on which account he returned to Paris, in the twenty-third year of his age, with a resolution to make divinity his principal study. Soon after he came back to Paris, he wrote a commentary upon Seneca's treatise, De Clementia. After residing a few months at Paris, Calvin became acquainted with all those who professed the reformed religion; and particularly with Stephen Forgeus, an eminent merchant, who afterwards sealed the truth with his blood. Francis I. was equally desirous with the pope to abolish the pragmatic sanction made by Charles VII. composed of the degrees and canons of the council of Bale, which restored the ancient free



dom of elections, and suppressed the abuses introduced by the court of Rome. Accordingly, the king abolished that ordinance; and the pope consented that his majesty should nominate to the bishoprics and abbies of his own dominions. The pope failed in his observance of these promises ; and it was about this time, that Calvin embraced the doctrine of Oecolampadius, and began publicly to teach it.

Calvin was esteemed in the French congregations, as one of the most able and best qualified men to teach and defend the doctrine of the Reformation, which had been introduced into that kingdom. Nicholas Copus was then rector of the university of Paris, who had a speech to make on the first of November, 1532; in which he was assisted by Calvin, who inserted into it such assertions concerning religion, as the divines of Paris thought contrary to the faith and Christian piety. It so much displeased the parliament, as well as the Sorbonne, that it occasioned the beginning of a persecution against the Protestants. The parliament summoned the rector, who fled out of the kingdom to Basil. They also sent to apprehend Calvin in the college of Forteret; but he escap- out at the window by the help of the sheets, and they seized his papers, among which there were letters found that discovered several of his correspondents.

The queen of Navarre appeased this first storm and Calvin had the honour of a conference with her majesty, who delivered the learned Faber Stapulensis out of the hands of the inquisitors, and sent him to Nerac. This queen of Navarre was Margaret de Valois, sister to Francis I. a princess of extraordinary worth ; and much admired for her piety, wit, and the productions of her pen. She married in 1527, Henry d'Albret II. king of Navarre ; and she gladly would have introduced the reformed religion into his dominions. The Reformers were protected under her patronage ; and she wrote a book in French rhyme, called the Mirror of the skilful Soul;' which was censured by the Sorbonne. It was composed in a strain very unusual to the church of Rome : No mention was made in it either of male or female saints, merits, or any other purgatory than the blood of Jesus Christ; and even the prayer, commonly called Salve Regina, is there applied in French to the person of Jesus Christ. She was a princess of excellent understanding, raised up by God to break up the cruel designs of Anthony Duprat, chancellor of France, and others, who incensed the king against those they called heretics. Many of the reformed clergy werè maintained in schools at her own expence, not only in France, but also in Germany. She took a wonderful care to preserve and secure those that were in danger for the Protestant religion, and to succour the refugees at Strasburgh and Geneva. It is recorded in the registers of the parliament of Bourdeaux, that this queen coming into court as governess, in the absence of the king her husband, made it her earnest request, that the court would release one Andrew Melancthon, accused of heresy, which Philip Melancthon had strongly solicited of her by letters. Andrew propagated the doctrine of his kinsman so successfully in the Agenois, that it could not be extirpated. In short, this good-natured princess had nothing more at heart than to procure the escape of the Reformers; and she, by little touches, endeavoured to impress on the soul of the king her brother some pity for the Lutherans. But she a little eclipsed her glory by her credulity in her later years : Yet Mezerai says, that' towards the end of her days, in 1549, she seemed to repent of her repentance, and desired Calvin, by letters, to come and instruct and comfort her. Joan d' Albret, daughter of Margaret, and likewise queen of Navarre, had also much indulgence for the reformed religion, and declared herself its protectress, when her husband, Anthony de Bourbon, duke of Vendome, renounced Calvinism, and became its persecutor. was killed at the siege of Rouen, in 1562; but she established the reformed religion in her dominions, verifying in effect the saying of the prophet, that queens should be the nursing-mothers of the church of God; though, at that time, she was menaced and terrified, as much a queen as she was, all manner of ways ; so far as to let her understand that she should be divorced by the pope, deprived of her kingdom and estates, and condemned at least to perpetual imprisonment. If it be strange that the queen of Navarre was so undaunted as not to fear such dangers, which she was perfectly acquainted with ; it is still more surprizing that she maintained herself, surrounded as she was by two powerful princes, the king of Spain on one side, and the king of France on the other, both possessed with such a cruelty against the Protestants, as has but few examples; both incited and animated by the strong solicitations of the court of Rome. She was poisoned at Paris in 1572; and that death could not but be very seasonable to this princess, who would have been inconsolable, had she seen the Paris massacre on saint Bartholomew's day. Henry IV. of France, was the son of this queen. He was the first prince of the blood, and chief of the house of Bourbon, when he succeeded Henry III. in whom the line of Valois became extinct. This prince was born a Calvinist, which religion he really loved, without being a bigot: But he found it impossible, notwithstanding all his victories and virtues, to get possession of his kingdom without abandoning Calvinism. After his conversion to the Romanists, gratitude would not permit him to seck the destruction of the Huguenots, to whom he was indebted for his crown : But if he had been inclined to make the attempt, it is more than probable that he would have miscarried. He therefore cherished, and protected the Protestants.


So far it has been thought necessary to give a concise account of the family of Navarre, which protected Calvin, and promoted the work of the Reformation.

When Calvin retired to Xaintonge, he got the friendship of Lewis du Tillet, canon of Angoulesme, at whose request he composed some short Christian exhortations, which were read as homilies in some parishes, to accustom the people gradually to search after the truth. He went from Angoulesme to Poitiers, where he got new disciples, to whom he administered the sacrament in caves and grottoes. He paid Stapulensis a visit at Nerac in Gascony, and returned to Paris in 1534, at the time that Roussel and Coraldus were banished that city, and orders were issued for apprehending the Reformers. Servetus was then at Paris, where he dispersed his books against the Trinity; in which he was opposed by Calvin, who agreed to engage in a dispute with him ; but Servetus would not appear at the appointed conference.

Francis I. was accused of having shewn too much indulgence to the Reformers : Bu: Mezerai has refuted this accusation. Davila laid the charge in these words : « The « belief of Calvin began to spread in the reign of this • king, whether he allowed it, or took no notice of it.' The French historian convicts this Italian of forgetfulness or partiality: What! says he, to make six or seveni • severe edicts to stifle it, to convoke the clergy several times, to assemble a provincial council, to be continually sending ambassadors to all the princes in Christen

dom to have a general one called ; to burn heretics by • dozens, to send them to the gallies by hundreds, and • to banish them by thousands : Can this be said to allow, or take no notice of it? Are these bare resolutions, or


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