Even though Geneva banished Calvin, Calvin still held the city close in his heart. His care for its people, for the truth of the Gospel, ran so deep that he even fought for its faith while in exile.
“Not long after this unjust banishment, Calvin extinguished a greater evil, which would probably have been attended with the worst consequences, had not this illustrious exile applied a prompt remedy to it. Jacques Sadolet, Bishop of Carpentras, was a man of considerable eloquence, which he employed only to oppose the truth. His morals being regular, the pope made him a cardinal, with a view to give a currency to the false doctrine taught in his church. The cardinal, seeing that the people of Geneva were deprived of such excellent pastors, thought this a favourable opportunity to attract them to the Romish religion, with which view he wrote a long letter wherein he employed all his address and talents to over-throw the reformed religion, and to establish his own. There was at this time no person in the town capable of answering him, and if this letter had been written in French, it is probable that it would have created considerable disturbances amongst a people so much divided and so ill disposed as they were at this time. But Calvin, forgetting all the injuries which he had sustained, evinced that the love which he had professed for that church was not diminished; and answered the cardinal with so much eloquence and spirit, that he abandoned his project entirely.”
Theodore Beza and John Mackenzie, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of John Calvin (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 46–47.
I often feel like I’m busy and have a lot on my plate. A quick inquiry into all that John Calvin had on his plate (without a computer, email, or even a typewriter for that matter) make me truly appreciate the labors that he undertook on behalf of the Church (and makes me feel a little bit lazy).
Notwithstanding the relief which Calvin continually received from Farel and from Viret, it is not easy to conceive how he sustained his various labours; especially if we consider that he was the subject of several violent and continual disorders. During a fortnight in each month, he preached every day; gave three lectures in theology every week; assisted at all the deliberations of the Consistory, and at the meetings of the pastors; met the congregation every Friday; instructed the French churches by the frequent advices which they solicited from him; defended the reformation, against the attacks of its enemies, and particularly those of the French priests; was forced to repel his numerous antagonists, by various books which he composed for that purpose; and found time to publish several other works, which, by their solidity and depth, are calculated for the instruction of every age.
Theodore Beza and John Mackenzie, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of John Calvin (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 51-52.
It is always interesting to see how people respond to difficult circumstances. Here we have the opportunity to see how Calvin responds when not only told he’d been fired form his post in Geneva, but that he has 3 days to leave the town.
The syndics, who were at the head of the seditious, profiting by these divisions, assembled the people, when, the majority being under their influence, they procured an order from the council, by which these three faithful ministers were commanded to leave the town in three days. This order being communicated to Calvin, “Certainly,” said he, “if I had served men, I should have been ill recompensed; but, I have served a Master who, far from not rewarding his servants, pays them what he does not owe them.”
Theodore Beza and John Mackenzie, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of John Calvin (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 45.
Such an amazing Gospel-centered response!