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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Accompanied by Farel and Calvin


The

deputies of Bern accepted the commission, and the Geneva pastors went back to Bern to await the arrival of the Bern deputies from Zurich. They waited, full of anxiety, for nearly fourteen days. Then the Bern Council were ready to fulfil the request of the Synod.[142] Deputies were appointed, and, accompanied by Farel and Calvin, set out for Geneva. The two pastors waited on the frontier at Noyon or at Genthod while the deputies of Bern went on to Geneva. They had an audience of the Council (May 23rd), were told that the Council could not revoke what all three Councils had voted. The Council of the Two Hundred refused to recall the pastors. The Council General (May 26th) by a unanimous vote repeated the sentence of exile, and forbade the three pastors (Farel, Calvin, and Coraut) to set foot on Genevan territory.

Driven from Geneva, Calvin would fain have betaken himself to a quiet student life; but he was too well known and too much valued to be left in the obscurity he longed for. Strassburg claimed him to minister to the French refugees who had settled within its protecting walls. He was invited to attend the Protestant conference at Frankfurt; he was present at the union conferences at Hagenau, at Worms, and at Regensburg. There he met the more celebrated German Protestant divines, who welcomed him as they had done no one else from Switzerland. Calvin put himself right with them theologically by signing at once and without solicitation the

Augsburg Confession, and aided thereby the feeling of union among all Protestants. He kindled in the breast of Melanchthon one of those romantic friendships which the frail Frenchman, with the pallid face, black hair, and piercing eyes, seemed to evoke so easily. Luther himself appreciated his theology even on his jealously guarded theory of the Sacrament of the Holy Supper.

Meanwhile things were not going well in Geneva. Outwardly, there was not much difference. Pastors ministered in the churches of the town, and the ordinary and ecclesiastical life went on as usual. The magistrates enforced the _Articles_; they condemned the Anabaptists, the Papists, all infringements of the sumptuary and disciplinary laws of the town. They compelled every householder to go to church. Still the old life seemed to be gone. The Council and the Syndics treated the new pastors as their servants, compelled them to render strict obedience to all their decisions in ecclesiastical matters, and considered religion as a political affair. It is undoubted that the morals of the town became worse,--so bad that the pastors of Bern wrote a letter of expostulation to the pastors in Geneva,[143]--and the Lord's Supper seems to have been neglected. The contests between parties within the city became almost scandalous, and the independent existence of Geneva was threatened.[144]

At the elections the Syndics failed to secure their re-election. Men of more moderate views were chosen, and from this date (Feb. 1539) the idea began to be mooted that Geneva must ask Calvin to return. Private overtures were made to him, but he refused. Then came letters from the Council, begging him to come back and state his terms. He kept silence. Lausanne and Neuchatel joined their entreaties to those of Geneva. Calvin was not to be persuaded. His private letters reveal his whole mind. He shuddered at returning to the turbulent city. He was not sure that he was fit to take charge of the Church in Geneva. He was in peace at Strassburg, minister to a congregation of his own countrymen; and the pastoral tie once formed was not to be lightly broken; yet there was an undercurrent drawing him to the place where he first began the ministry of the Word. At length he wrote to the Council of Geneva, putting all his difficulties and his longings before them--neither accepting nor refusing. His immediate duty called him to the conference at Worms.


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