Images de page
PDF
ePub

very great moment is undoubtedly taking place."! On this very day the battle at Dreux, distinguished for its great cruelty, was fought, the news of which reached Geneva a few days after.

In the following year, 1563, his bodily infirmitiés became so severe and complicated, that it is indeed incredible that such a brave and noble soul could have been any longer confined in a body of so much weakness, exhausted by so many labours, and worn down at last by such a variety of diseases. Yet when his body was even in such a state of debility, he could not be induced to spare himself. Nay, if at any period he relinquished his public duties, which he always did very much against his inclination, he still continued, in his own house, to give advice to such as consulted him, or, unfatigued himself, wearied his amanuensis by dictating to him. His two very serious Exhortations to the Polonese against the blasphemous enemies of the holy Trinity, his full answers, both oral and written, to the deputies of the synod of Lyons, his Commentaries on the four Books of Moses, written first in Latin, and translated by himself into French, and his Commentary on Joshua, his last undertaking, which he commenced this year, and finished on his death-bed, afford ample testimony to the truth of this assertion.

On the 6th of February, 1564, the beginning of his eternal happiness, and of our greatest and most long-continued grief, he delivered his last sermon with difficulty, in consoquence of asthmatic oppression. From this period he taught no more in public, except that he was carried at different times, until the last day of March, to the meeting of the coné gregation, and addressed them in a few words. His diseases; contracted by incredible labours of mind and body, were various and complicated, as he states himself, in a letter written to his physicians at Montpelier. He was naturally of a spare and feeble frame, tending to consumption ; during sleep he seemed almost awake, and spent a great part of the year in preaching, teaching, and dictating. For at least ten

[ocr errors]

years he never dined, and the only food he took was at supper, so that it is astonishing how he could so long escape consumption. He frequently suffered from megrim, which he cured only by fasting, so as occasionally to refrain from food for thirty-six hours. But by overstraining his voice, and, as was discovered too late, by an immoderate use of aloes, he suffered from hemorrhoids, which degenerated into ulcers, and five years before his death he was occasionally attacked by a spitting of blood. Gout in the right leg, frequently returning pains of colic, and stone, which he had only felt a few months before his death, followed the removal of the quartan fever. The physicians neglected no remedies, and he observed the directions of his medical attendants with a strictness which none could surpass.

In other respects, where the labours of the mind were concerned, he was very careless of his health, that the most excruciating pains of the megrim never interrupted his preaching. Though tormented by so many diseases, no one ever heard him utter a word unbecoming a man of bravery, much less a Christian. Only lifting up his eyes to heaven, he used to say,

" How long, O Lord !" for even in health he often had this sentence on his lips, when he spoke of the calamities of his brethren, with whose sufferings he was both day and night more afflicted than with any of his own. When admonished and entreated by us to forbear, at least in his sickness, from the labour of dictating, or at least of writing, “What, then," he said, “ would you have my Lord find me idle when he cometh ?"

On the 10th of March, we, his brother ministers, on paying our visit together as usual, found him dressed, and sit. ting at the little table, where he was accustomed to write or study. On seeing us, he sat silent, resting his forehead on his hand for some length of time, as he frequently did when engaged in study and meditation; and then, with a voice occasionally interrupted, but a kind and cheerful countenance, he said, “ I return you, dearest brethren, my most hearty thanks for all your solicitude on my account, and hope in a

fortnight I shall be present, for the last time, at your consistory,” (which was established for discipline of morals,) “for I think that the Lord will then manifest his pleasure with respect to me, and take me to himself.” He did attend the consistory on the 24th of March, as usual, and when the business was finished in a peaceable manner, he observed, that he felt some further continuance was granted him by the Lord. He then took up a French New Testament, read to us himself some of the marginal annotations, and requested the opinion of his brethren, since he had undertaken to cor. rect them. He was worse on the following day, having been fatigued with the labours of the preceding; but on the 27th he was carried to the door of the senate house, and being supported by two of his attendants, walked into the hall, and after proposing a new rector of the school to the senate, he ancovered his head, and returned them thanks for the favours already conferred upon him, and particularly for their attentions in his last illness. For," he said, “ I think I have entered this house for the last time.” Having uttered these words with difficulty, and a faltering voice, he took his last farewell of the senate, overwhelmed with sorrow, and bathed in tears. On the 2nd of April, which was Easter day, although suffering from great debility, he was carried to church in a chair, was present with the whole congregation, received the Lord's supper from my hand, and joined in singing the hymn, with a trembling voice, but with manifest expressions of joy shining forth from his dying countenance. On the 25th of April he made his will in the following manner :

THE WILL OF JOHN CALVIN.

In the name of the Lord.-Amen. In the year 1564, and 25th day of April, I, Peter Chenalat, citizen and notary of Geneva, do witness and declare, that I was sent for by that excellent character, John Calvin, minister of the word of God in this church of Geneva, and enrolled citizen of the same, who, being indisposed in body, but sound in mind, said he was desirous to make his testament, and to express the judgment of his last will; and requested me to take i down, and write what he should dictate and declare by word of mouth ; which I profess I immediately did, and wrote down word by word as he pronounced and dictated, without omission or addition, in the following form, dictated by him

In the name of the Lord. Amen. I, John Calvin, minister of the word of God in the church of Geneva, finding myself so much oppressed and afflicted with various diseases, that I think the Lord God has determined speedily to remove me out of this world, have ordered to be made and written, my testament, and declaration of my last will, in form and manner following : First, I give thanks to God, that taking compassion on me whom he had created, and placed in this world, he not only delivered me by his power out of the deep darkness of idolatry, into which I was plunged, that he might bring me into the light of his gospel, and make me a partaker of the doctrine of salvation, of which I was most unworthy;

that with the same goodness and mercy he has graciously and kindly borne with my multiplied transgressions and sins, for which I deserved to be rejected and cut off by him; and has also exercised towards me such great compassion and clemency, that he has condescended to use my labour in preaching and publishing the truth of his gospel. I also testify and declare, that it is my full intention to pass the remainder of my life in the same faith and religion, which he has delivered to me by his gospel ; having no other defence or refuge of salvation than his gratuitous adoption, on which alone my safety depends. I also embrace with my whole heart the mercy which he exercises towards me for the sake of Jesus Christ, atoning for my crimes by the merits of his death and passion, that in this way satisfaction may be made for all my transgressions and offences, and the remembrance of them blotted out. I farther testify and declare that, as a suppliant, I humbly implore of him to grant me to be so washed and purified by the blood of that sovereign Redeemer,

shed for the sins of the human race, that I may be permitted to stand before his tribunal in the image of the Redeemer himself. I likewise declare, that according to the measure of grace and mercy which God has vouchsafed me, I have dili. gently made it my endeavour, both in my sermons, writings, and commentaries, purely and uncorruptly to preach his word, and faithfully to interpret his sacred Scriptures. I testify and declare, that in all the controversies and disputes, which I have conducted with the enemies of the gospel, I have made use of no craftiness, nor corrupt and sophistical arts, but have been engaged in defending the truth with candour and sincerity.

But, alas ! my study, and my zeal, if they deserve the name, have been so remiss and languid, that I confess innumerable things have been wanting in me to discharge the duties of my office in an excellent manner; and unless the infinite bounty of God had been present, all my study would have been vain and transient. I also acknowledge that unless the same goodness had accompanied me, the endowments of mind bestowed upon me by God, must have made me more and more chargeable with guilt and inactivity before his tribunal. And on these grounds I witness and declare, that I hope for no other refuge of salvation than this alone,- that since God is a Father of mercy, he will show himself a Father to me, who confess myself a miserable sinner. Further, I will, after my departure out of this life, that my body be committed to the earth in that manner, and with those funeral rites, which are usual in this city and church, until the day of the blessed resurrection shall come. As for the small patrimony which God has bestowed upon me, and which I have determined to dispose of in this will, I appoint Anthony Calvin, my very dearly beloved brother, my heir, but only as a mark of respect. Let him take charge of, and keep as his own, my silver goblet, which was given me as a present by Mr.Varanne: and I desire he will be content with it. As for the residue of my property, I commit it to his care with

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »