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Title: John Calvin's Writings - Letter 8 Calvin to Farel, June 16, 1542
Author: John Calvin
Language: English

The numerous deaths, which have occurred this year among my pious friends, I hope will instruct
me in the emptiness of this present life; and impress me, in the midst of my sorrow, with holy
meditations concerning my own morality. Poralis, the first syndic of this city, has departed to be
with the Lord. His death, as was to be expected, is severely felt, and deeply lamented by us. His
dying testimony was a source of consolation, while the very circumstance of his piety increased
our grief; as we felt his loss to be, on that account, a more extensive deprivation. The day after he
fell sick, Viret and myself were with him, and he informed us that he was in danger of losing his
life; for the disease with which he was afflicted was fatal to his family. We conversed on a
variety of subjects, in which he interested himself with as much familiarity as if in usual health.
The two following days, his complaint increased, but in no period of his life, had he discovered
more strength of mind, or greater powers of eloquence, than at this time, while he addressed
those who visited him with some excellent exhortations, adapted to the character and
circumstances of each individual, he now appeared to be much better, and we entertained hopes
of his recovery. But after three days, the disease renewed its severity, and he was evidently in
great danger; but as his body was oppressed, his mind grew more enlarged and animated. I pass
the intermediate time, to the day on which he died. Viret and myself visited him about nine
o’clock in the morning, I said a few things concerning the cross, the grace of Christ, and the hope
of eternal life, for we would not fatigue him with a long discourse. He answered, that he knew
how to accept the messenger of God in a proper manner, and of what importance the ministry of
Christ was in confirming the consciences of believers. He then discoursed upon the ministry and
its use so powerfully, that we were both struck with astonishment, and as often as I reflect upon
it, I am still confounded; for he appeared to be delivering some of our discourses improved by his
own deep and long meditations, he concluded by saying, that he believed the remission of sins, of
which we assured him from the promise of Christ, with as much confidence as though an angel
should appear to him from heaven. He then enlarged upon the harmony of the members of the
church, which he commended with the highest eulogy; testifying that his best consolations, in the
warfare of death, were drawn from his being established so fully in that unity. He had, a little
time before, called for some of our colleagues, with whom he became reconciled, lest by
persisting in this disagreement, others might make a bad use of his example. He observed to us,
“As the welfare of the church obliges you to bear with them as brethren, why should I not, for the
same reason, acknowledge them as pastors?’ He admonished them with seriousness, and called
up to their remembrance the sins of which they had been guilty. But I come to his last words.
Turning to those who were present, he exhorted them, that they should hold in high estimation
the communion of the church, and advised those who were still addicted to superstitious
ceremonies and festivals, to lay aside their obstinacy, and unite with us in the worship of God;
for we saw better, and judged more perfectly than they could in these matters. He confessed, that
he himself had been obstinate in these things, but at last his eyes were opened to see the baneful
effects of contention. After this, he summed up his faith in a short, solemn, and clear confession.
He than exhorted Viret and myself to constancy in all the parts of our official duty, and, as in a
prophetic vision, he spoke of our future difficulties. Concerning the interests of the republic, his
counsel was judiciously directed to whatever related to its prosperity.

He urged the most diligent attention to be given, to effect a reconciliation with the allied cities;
and that the clamors of some turbulent people should not discourage us in our efforts. After
addressing a few words to him, we prayed with him and retired. About two in the afternoon, my
wife visited him, when he exhorted her to be of good courage, whatever might happen, and to
consider that she was led to this city not rashly, but by the wonderful wisdom of God, to assist in
spreading the gospel. He soon after said, that his voice began to fail him; that however that might
fail him, he should retain in his mind, and die in the confession of faith that he had made. He
recited the song of Simeon, and applied it to himself, saying, “I have seen and embraced thy
salvation;” and then composed himself to rest.

From this time he was deprived of his voice, but continued to indicate by signs, that he had lost
nothing of the rigor of his mind. About four in the afternoon, I went with the syndics to visit him.
As he sometimes attempted to speak, and was unable, I requested him not to fatigue himself,
adding that we were abundantly satisfied with his confession. I then began to speak as well as I
could. He heard with a composed and tranquil mind. We had scarcely left him, when he rendered
up his pious soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. This narration will be scarcely credible to you, when
you consider the nature of the man; but remember that he was endowed entirely with a new spirit.

We are now deeply occupied in choosing new colleagues; and our trouble is increased, as those
whom we suppose fit for the place, upon trial, disappoint our expectations. We will inform you
of our progress, as your advice may be useful to us. Farewell.

June 16, 1542.



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