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Title: Servetus and Calvin - A Study of an Important Epoch in the Early History of the Reformation
Author: Willis, Robert
Language: English
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SERVETUS AND CALVIN


      *      *      *      *      *      *

_By the same Author._

BENEDICT D’ESPINOZA; his Life, Correspondence, and Ethics.

G. E. LESSING’S NATHAN THE WISE. With an Introduction.

THE SUDORIPAROUS AND LYMPHATIC GLANDULAR SYSTEMS; the Vital Nature
of their Functions, and the Effect of Implications of these on the
Diseases ascribed to Malaria.

      *      *      *      *      *      *


[Illustration: MICHEL SERVETUS]


SERVETUS AND CALVIN

A Study of an Important Epoch in the
Early History of the Reformation

by

R. WILLIS, M.D.


  Περὶ τῆς τριάδος--scis me semper veritum fore. Bone Deus, quales
  tragœdias excitabit ad posteros hæc questio: εἰ ἐστὶν ὑπόστασις ὁ λόγος;
  εἰ ἐστὶν ὑπόστασις τὸ πνεῦμα?                                MELANCHTHON



Henry S. King & Co., Londo
1877


Universal history is at bottom the history of the great men who have
lived and worked here. And truly the inexhaustible, the perennial Epic
is the story of man’s life from age to age.

  THOMAS CARLYLE


(The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved.)



  TO

  HIS FRIENDS

  SAMUEL DAVIDSON, D.D.

  AND

  R. W. MACKAY, M.A.

  This Work is Dedicated

  WITH EVERY EXPRESSION OF AFFECTIONATE REGARD

  AND ESTEEM

  BY THE WRITER



PREFACE.


Some years ago I was led to make a study of the Life and Writings of
Spinoza, and took considerable pains to present the gifted Jew of
Amsterdam in such fulness to the English reader as might suffice to
convey a passable idea of what one of the great misunderstood and
misused among the sons of men was in himself, in his influence on his
more immediate friends and surroundings through his presence, and on
the world for all time through all his works. This study completed,
and leisure from the more active duties of professional life enlarging
with increasing years, I bethought me of some other among the sufferers
in the holy cause of human progress as means of occupation and
improvement. Spinoza led, I might say as matter of course, to Giordano
Bruno, with whose writings I was familiar, and who was Spinoza’s
master, if he ever had a master. But having, at a former period,
undertaken to edit the works of Harvey for the Sydenham Society, and
the discovery of the circulation of the blood having become renewed
matter of discussion with medical men and others, labourers in the
field of general literature, I was turned from Bruno to Servetus, as
the first who proclaimed the true way in which the blood from the right
reaches the left chambers of the heart by passing through the lungs,
and who even hinted at its further course by the arteries to the body
at large.

Of Servetus at this time I knew little or nothing, save that he had
been burned as a heretic at Geneva by Calvin; and of his works I had
seen no more than the extract in which he describes the pulmonary
circulation. But meditating a revision and prospective publication
of the Life of Harvey, with which I had prefaced my edition of his
works, I went in search of further information concerning the ingenious
anatomist who had not only outstripped his contemporaries, but his
successors, by something like a century in making so important an
induction as the Pulmonary Circulation. Nor had I far to go. In the
ample stores of the British Museum Library I found a complete mine of
Servetus-literature, and with access to the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’
as reproduced by a learned physician, Dr. De Murr, and other works of
the unfortunate Servetus, I encountered not only the physiologist
already known to me, but the philosopher and scholar, the practical
physician, freed from the fetters of mediæval routine, the geographer
and astronomer, the biblical critic, in days when criticism of the
kind, as we understand the term, was unimagined, and, alas for him!
the most advanced and tolerant of the Reformers,--that sacred band to
which Servetus by indefeasible right belongs. Luther, Calvin, and the
rest repudiated the discipline and most of the outward rites and shows
of the Roman Catholic Church; but they retained the most abstruse of
her creeds. Servetus went at least as far as they in the rejection
of externals; but, appealing to the scriptures of the New Testament,
he satisfied himself and dared to say to the world that some of the
fundamentals of Christianity as formulated by the Church of Rome,
and acquiesced in by the Reformers of Germany, had no warrant in the
teaching of the Prophet of Nazareth. Rejecting, as he did, the whole of
the post-apostolic dogmatic accretions of the Church of Rome, Servetus
is the source of the more ‘reasonable service’ we are now permitted to
render, and--strange conjunction!--through his disastrous intercourse
with Calvin, in no small measure the original of the free enquiry that
is leading on to conclusions yet uncontemplated as to man’s relations
to the Unseen and the Eternal.

The life and labours of the man of whom so much may be said can never
be otherwise than interesting to the world. Nor is it in his life only
that Servetus has been influential. His death has, perhaps, been even
more influential than his life; for when his pyre began to blaze,
the beacon was lighted that first warned effectually from the shoals
of bigotry and intolerance on which religion misunderstood has made
shipwreck so long. The custom of consigning heretics, as dissidents in
their interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures were called, to death by
fire then began to fall into abeyance; princes and chief magistrates
ceased from assisting at autos-da-fé as edifying spectacles; and
persecution to less terrible conclusions--imprisonment, banishment,
fine, and social ostracism--has been coming gradually, however slowly,
to an end.

We have more than one book in English purporting to give an account
of the life of Servetus, but none, I think, that is not either a
compilation at second hand, or a translation wholly or in principal
part from the French. No one among us appears to have referred to the
works of Servetus and his contemporaries for the information that would
have enabled him to give something like a true presentment of the man
as he lived and died. To do this--to make the English reader acquainted
with another of the great devoted men who have toiled on life’s
pilgrimage with bleeding feet, to smooth and make straight the way for
others, healers in the strife and in front of the battle, not to strike
but to staunch the wounds that men in their ignorance and madness make
on one another--such is the purpose of the work now presented to the
reader.

In appealing mainly to the original sources of information on the life
of Servetus, I have still not failed to make myself master of what has
been done in later days by others in this direction. The references
that occur in the course of my book to the writings of La Roche,
Allwörden, Mosheim, D’Artigny, Trechsel, Rilliet, and, last but not
least, of Henry Tollin, make it unnecessary for me to do more in this
place than to acknowledge my obligations to them.

One word on the portrait of Servetus. Of the original of this Mosheim
gives a particular account; but all Tollin’s enquiries, as well as
those I have made myself, lead to the belief that it is no longer in
existence. Doubt has even been expressed as to the authenticity of
this portrait of which we have indifferent engravings in Hornius’
‘Kirchengeschichte,’ in Allwörden’s ‘Historia,’ and in Mosheim’s
‘Ketzergeschichte.’ After careful study of these, my daughter has done
her best to reproduce in the etching appended what must have been a
striking and is certainly a typical Spanish countenance.

The etching of Calvin is after an engraving from one of the numerous
more or less authentic portraits of the Reformer that are extant.

BARNES, SURREY: _Midsummer 1877_.



CONTENTS.


  _BOOK THE FIRST._

  EARLY LIFE--WORKS--ARREST AND TRIAL AT VIENNE.

  CHAPTER      PAGE

  I. MICHAEL SERVETUS: HIS BIRTH, PARENTAGE, AND EARLY EDUCATION       3

  II. SERVICE WITH FRIAR JUAN QUINTANA, CONFESSOR OF THE EMPEROR
        CHARLES V.                                                    19

  III. THE SERVICE WITH QUINTANA COMES TO AN END                      29

  IV. INTERCOURSE WITH THE SWISS REFORMERS                            33

  V. THE REFORMERS OF STRASBURG. PUBLICATION OF THE WORK ON
        TRINITARIAN ERROR                                             37

  VI. THE AUTHORITIES OF BASLE. THE TWO DIALOGUES ON THE TRINITY.
        LEAVES SWITZERLAND                                            71

  VII. PARIS. ASSUMPTION OF THE NAME OF VILLENEUVE OR VILLANOVANUS.
        ACQUAINTANCE WITH CALVIN                                      79

  VIII. LYONS. ENGAGEMENT AS READER FOR THE PRESS WITH THE
        TRECHSELS. EDITS THE GEOGRAPHY OF PTOLEMY                     86

  IX. LYONS. DR. SYMPHORIEN CHAMPIER                                  99

  X. RETURN TO PARIS. STUDIES THERE. JO. WINTER OF ANDERNACH;
        ANDREA VESALIUS. DEGREES OF M.A. AND M.D. LECTURES ON
        GEOGRAPHY AND ASTROLOGY                                      104

  XI. THE TREATISE ON SYRUPS, AND THEIR USE IN MEDICINE              111

  XII. THE MEDICAL FACULTY OF PARIS SUE SERVETUS FOR LECTURING
        ON JUDICIAL ASTROLOGY                                        116

  XIII. CHARLIEU. ATTAINMENT OF HIS THIRTIETH YEAR. VIEWS OF
        BAPTISM                                                      125

  XIV. SETTLEMENT AT VIENNE UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF THE ARCHBISHOP.
        RENEWAL OF INTERCOURSE WITH THE PUBLISHERS OF LYONS.
        SECOND EDITION OF PTOLEMY                                    130

  XV. EDITION OF SANTES PAGNINI’S LATIN BIBLE WITH COMMENTARY        139

  XVI. ENGAGEMENT AS EDITOR BY JO. FRELON OF LYONS. CORRESPONDENCE
        WITH CALVIN                                                  157

  XVII. ‘CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO,’ THE RESTORATION OF
        CHRISTIANITY. DISCOVERY OF THE PULMONARY CIRCULATION         191

  XVIII. CALVIN RECEIVES A COPY OF THE ‘CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO’    231

  XIX. CALVIN DENOUNCES SERVETUS THROUGH WILLIAM TRIE TO THE
        ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITIES OF LYONS                          235

  XX. ARREST OF SERVETUS AND ARNOULLET, THE PUBLISHER. THE TRIAL
        FOR HERESY AT VIENNE. SERVETUS IS SUFFERED TO ESCAPE FROM
        PRISON                                                       252

  XXI. DISCOVERY OF ARNOULLET’S PRIVATE PRINTING ESTABLISHMENT.
       SEIZURE AND BURNING OF THE ‘CHRISTIANISMI
       RESTITUTIO,’ ALONG WITH THE EFFIGY OF ITS AUTHOR              269


  _BOOK THE SECOND._

  SERVETUS IN GENEVA, FACE TO FACE WITH CALVIN.

  I. SERVETUS REACHES GENEVA. DETAINED THERE, HE IS ARRESTED AT
        THE INSTANCE OF CALVIN                                       281

  II. GENEVA, AND THE STATE OF POLITICAL PARTIES AT THE DATE OF
        SERVETUS’ ARREST                                             287

  III. SERVETUS IS ARRAIGNED ON THE CAPITAL CHARGE BY CALVIN         304

  IV. THE TRIAL IN ITS FIRST PHASE                                   314

  V. THE TRIAL IN ITS SECOND PHASE, WITH THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL
       OF GENEVA AS PROSECUTOR                                       333

  VI. THE TRIAL IN ITS SECOND PHASE, CONTINUED                       351

  VII. THE TRIAL CONTINUED. THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL RECEIVES
       FRESH INSTRUCTIONS FROM CALVIN                                366

  VIII. SERVETUS IS VISITED IN PRISON BY CALVIN AND THE
       MINISTERS                                                     386

  IX. THE COURT DETERMINES TO CONSULT THE COUNCILS
       AND CHURCHES OF THE FOUR PROTESTANT SWISS CANTONS             391

  X. THE TRIAL IS INTERRUPTED THROUGH DIFFERENCES
       BETWEEN CALVIN AND THE COUNCIL                                393

  XI. THE TRIAL IS RESUMED ON NEW ARTICLES SUPPLIED BY CALVIN        398

  XII. THE TRIAL CONTINUED. SERVETUS ADDRESSES A
       LETTER TO CALVIN AND PETITIONS HIS JUDGES                     423

  XIII. CALVIN ANTICIPATES THE JUDGES IN THEIR APPEAL
       TO THE SWISS CHURCHES                                         428

  XIV. SERVETUS SENDS A LETTER AND A SECOND REMONSTRANCE
       AND PETITION TO HIS JUDGES                                    441

  XV. THE SWISS COUNCILS AND CHURCHES ARE ADDRESSED
       BY THE COUNCIL OF GENEVA                                      446

  XVI. SERVETUS AGAIN ADDRESSES THE SYNDICS AND COUNCIL
       OF GENEVA, AND ACCUSES CALVIN. THE
       ANSWERS OF THE COUNCILS AND CHURCHES CONSULTED                450

  XVII. THE ATTITUDE OF CALVIN. THE HOPES OF SERVETUS                474

  XVIII. THE SENTENCE AND EXECUTION. VÆ VICTIS!                      480

  XIX. AFTER THE BATTLE. VÆ VICTORIBUS!                              488

  XX. CALVIN DEFENDS HIMSELF                                         498

  XXI. CALVIN’S DEFENCE IS ATTACKED                                  517

  XXII. CALVIN’S BIOGRAPHERS AND APOLOGISTS                          528

  APPENDIX                                                           535



BOOK I.

EARLY LIFE--WORKS--ARREST AND TRIAL AT VIENNE



CHAPTER I.

MICHAEL SERVETUS, HIS BIRTH, PARENTAGE, AND EARLY EDUCATION.


Michael Serveto, or as we know him best by his name with the Latin
termination, Servetus, appears, from the most trustworthy information
we possess, to have been born either at Tudela, in the old Spanish
kingdom of Navarre, or at Villaneuva, in that of Aragon; but whether
here or there, and in the year 1509 or 1511, is an open question. In
the course of the Trial he stood at Vienne in Dauphiny, in the spring
of 1553, he says himself that he is a native of Tudela, and forty-two
years of age; which would make Navarre the country, and 1511 the year,
of his birth. But in the Geneva Trial, only four months later, he
declares that he is of Villanova, and forty-four years old; which would
give us Aragon as the land, and 1509 as the date, of his nativity. When
he spoke of himself as a Navarrese at Vienne, it may have been done
to conciliate his French judges, Navarre having once been a province
of France, and the natives of the two countries having still much
in common. It was at a moment, too, when he had paramount motives
for seeking to conceal his identity. When he said at Geneva that he
was ‘Espagnol Arragonois de Villeneuve’ and forty-four, he was face
to face with one who knew him well, and when he had neither motive
nor opportunity for concealment. Servetus’s subscription of himself
as ‘Michael Serveto, alias Revés, de Aragonia, Hispanus,’ on the
title-page of his first work; as ‘Michael Villanovanus,’ on the titles
of all the books he edited, and the name ‘Villeneuve’ by which alone
he was known through the whole of the years he lived in France, to say
nothing of the ‘M. S. V.,’ evidently Michael Servetus Villanovanus,
on the last leaf of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ the printing of
which led to his death, supply, as it seems, preponderating evidence
as to the place of his birth, though the year may still be left
uncertain. The _alias_ Revés which appears on the title of the book ‘De
Trinitatis Erroribus,’ the first-fruits of his genius, has hitherto
been a puzzle and subject of debate with his biographers, but can now
be satisfactorily interpreted. Servetus’s mother, it appears, was of
French extraction, of the Revés family, and her son took occasion in
his first work piously to preserve his mother’s family name beside his
proper patronymic.[1] Of the parents of Servetus, however, we in fact
know little more than that we have from himself when, on his trial at
Geneva, he informed the Court that they were _d’ancienne race, vivants
noblement_, of old families and independent, or in easy circumstances,
and that his father was a Notary by profession. Report adds that he was
of a family which had been jurists for generations, and that his father
was nearly related to Andrea Serveto d’Aninon, some time Professor
of Civil Law in the University of Bologna, subsequently member of
the Cortes of Aragon, and one of the Council of the Indies. So much
makes it clear that Michael Servetus was of gentle blood, of Christian
parentage, and neither of Jewish nor Moorish descent, as has been said
on no better ground apparently than that he shows he was acquainted
with Hebrew, had read the Koran, and in his writings is not intolerant
towards Jews and Mahomedans, like his countrymen.

Neither have we any very precise information as regards Servetus’s
earlier years and education. Of somewhat slender build, and so of
presumably delicate constitution, though he showed no trace of this
in after life, he is said to have been destined by his parents to
the service of the Church; in which view, whilst yet a youth, he was
placed for nurture in one of the convents of his native town or its
neighbourhood. And this we should imagine must almost necessarily be
true; for the rudiments of the liberal education Servetus shows himself
to have received, could only have been obtained in the early part of
the sixteenth century in the quiet of the cloister, and under the
fostering care of some monk more learned than the general.

The precocious ability and pious temperament with which we must credit
Servetus may have been a further motive for the line of life chalked
out for him by his parents. The Church was then, as it still continues
to be, the close through which an easy and a pious life can be best
secured where there is neither talent nor aspiration; as it is also
the highway to worldly wealth and power, where there is ambition and
ability to back what passes for piety. By mental and moral endowment
Servetus probably appeared to all about him a born churchman, with
the crosier, and even the cardinal’s hat, in perspective. But side
by side with so much that pointed in this direction, the reasoning,
sceptical, and self-sufficing nature of the man that led the opposite
way, as it had not yet appeared, so was it unsuspected. Servetus as
a youth unquestionably received the education that would have fitted
him for the Priesthood; and we think complacently of the solace and
relaxation from the monotony of monastic life, which the worthy brother
we evoke as his principal teacher found in imparting all he knew, and
pointing out the onward way to one both apt and eager to learn. Before
leaving the convent, or the convent school, where he doubtless remained
for several years, Servetus must have been not only a tolerable
Latin scholar, but, it may have been, also grounded in Greek and the
rudiments of Hebrew.

At what age Servetus left his convent teachers we are not informed;
some time however, we should imagine, before definitive vows are
required of the youthful aspirant to the holy office, when aptitude for
the prospective vocation is made subject of particular inquiry. Now it
may have been that he was discovered to be indifferently qualified by
mental constitution to follow further the line of life intended for
him--a conclusion to which we are led from all we know of the man in
his works. He was pious enough and credulous enough through life; but
his religion must be of the kind he thought out for himself, and his
beliefs of his own fashioning, not such as could be presented to him
ready shaped for acceptance. The very air of Europe at the beginning of
the sixteenth century was alive with mutterings of the storm that had
long been gathering, and found vent at length through the manly voice
of Martin Luther; and when we find hints that fears of the Inquisition
had had something to do with Servetus’s subsequent movements, we are
disposed to imagine that the call to free thought which had sprung up
on the revival of letters and found out the northern Monk in his cell,
had also reached the Friar of the south, and from him flowed over upon
the receptive mind of his youthful scholar.

Be this as it may, when twelve or fourteen years of age, Servetus
appears to have entered as a student at the University of Saragossa,
then the most celebrated in Spain; and if he had Peter Martyr de
Angleria among the number of his teachers, as we are assured he
had,[2] he was in the hands of one of the most accomplished as well
as liberal-minded men of his age. Angleria was in fact still more
distinguished as a scholar, diplomatist, teacher and writer, than as
a soldier. Having come to Spain in the suite of one of the Italian
embassies to Ferdinand and Isabella, he joined the army of the Catholic
king and queen as a volunteer, and having distinguished himself on more
than one occasion in the field, he was presented to the sovereigns
on the conclusion of hostilities, entered the service of Isabella,
in especial, and having taken orders--an indispensable condition to
acknowledgment as a teacher--he was engaged by the queen as tutor and
general supervisor of the education of the host of young noblemen and
gentlemen who thronged the Court. The influence exerted by such a man
in such a situation cannot be doubted; and it has been surmised that
more than one of the distinguished personages who appeared in Spain,
in the early part of the sixteenth century, owed not a little of all
that made them notable in after life to their teacher. Angleria was
in fact a man in advance of his age, morally, and, we must believe,
religiously also--although Spain was not always the devoted slave of
Rome we have been accustomed to think her in these our days. He had
seen enough in his campaigning and its consequences to disgust him
with conversions to Christianity at the point of the sword, and the
wholesale deportation from their native country of a great civilised
community because of their adhesion to the religion of their fathers.
An Italian by birth, it was no part of Angleria’s religion to hate Jews
and Saracens with such a hatred as made baptizing, banishing, torturing
and putting them to death the virtue it appeared in the eyes of the
Spaniards.

At Saragossa Servetus may have remained four or five years, working
hard at all that qualified him to appear as he meets us in after
life--perfecting himself in classics, and introduced not only to the
Ethics of Aristotle and the scholastic philosophy, but also to the
more positive domains of human knowledge--the mathematics, astronomy
and geography--geography more especially, brought into vogue as it was
by the great discoveries of Columbus, Vasco de Gama, and the hardy
navigators and travellers who came after them, then made accessible to
the general reader by the works of Angleria, Grynæus and others.

Having broken definitively with the idea of the Church as a calling,
Servetus must now have made up his mind to follow what might fairly
be spoken of as the hereditary vocation of his family--Law; and the
School of Toulouse being at this time the most celebrated in Europe,
to Toulouse he was sent as a student of Law by his father. Here he
seems to have remained for two or three years--short while enough in
which to fathom the intricacies of civil and canon law, to say nothing
of other studies that must have continued to engage some share of his
attention; but that the time given to the study of Law at Toulouse was
not misspent, is proclaimed by the occasional scraps of legal lore we
notice interspersed in his writings. In the covenant between God and
Abraham, to cite one among many instances, he observes that we have the
first case on record of one of the four forms of unindentured contract,
still spoken of as the form _Facio ut facias_. Elsewhere also, and at
other times, on his trial at Geneva in particular, he is credited by
his prosecutor with an adequate knowledge of the Pandects, although he
says himself that he had never done more than read Justinian in the
perfunctory manner usual with young men at college. On the occasion
referred to, nevertheless, we find him quoting the decisions of
jurisconsults in support of his conclusions.

But Law, we believe, was never the subject that engrossed the thoughts
of Servetus. The natural bent of his mind, and the teaching he had
received during his earlier years, led him to Theology; and it was at
Toulouse, as he tells us himself, that he first made acquaintance with
the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It is not difficult
to imagine the effect which the perusal of these writings must have
produced on the ardent religious temperament of Servetus. In his
earliest work he speaks of the Bible as a book come down from heaven,
the source of all his philosophy and of all his science--language,
however, that is to be seen as hyperbole to a great extent; for he
was already imbued with scholastic philosophy, and, we must presume,
with patristic theology also, before he had read a word of the Bible;
and in his published works we find him at various times subordinating
the teaching of the Scriptures to the conclusions of his reason.
Toulouse, indeed, in the early part of the sixteenth century, was
an unlikely school for religious study in any but the most rigidly
orthodox fashion; and how far Michael Servetus swerved from this--to
his sorrow--need not now be more particularly noticed. It was even the
boast of the Toulousans for long, that their city had not been infected
with what was spoken of as the poison of Lutheranism. So strict a watch
had been kept over them by their shepherds, the priests, that, whilst
in neighbouring and other more distant cities of France the Reformation
had many adherents, it had none--openly, at all events--in Toulouse. It
were needless to insist that training of a special kind, in addition to
originality and independence of mind, was required to lead to views and
conclusions such as those attained to by Servetus.[3]

He had read the Bible, however, at Toulouse; and there, too, if it were
not at an earlier period, he must have met with some of the writings
of Luther, of which several had been translated into Spanish soon
after their publication.[4] But there is another book which enjoyed an
extensive reputation through the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, and seems to supply the kind of aliment precisely of which
a mind constituted like that of Servetus must have felt the want. This
is the ‘Theologia Rationalis sive Liber de Creaturis’ of Raymund de
Sabunde, in which the Creator is reached by a gradual ascent from lower
to higher grades of created things.

The ‘Rational Theology’ of Sabunde is indeed a most noteworthy book;
full of true piety, resting on the wider and surer grounds of nature at
large in harmony with human intelligence, than the dogmatic theologian
can show in the written text and unwritten traditions on which he
relies for his conclusions. Containing no word that is not thoroughly
orthodox, doctrine, nevertheless, is not that which it is the grand
object of the ‘Rational Theology’ of Sabunde to propound. Neither is
authority paraded, as it would have been had the book been written by
a professed theologian, instead of a pious naturalist; for Sabunde
was a physician, one of the guild whose destiny it is to lead the van
of progress. We cannot believe that the work, though often reprinted,
was ever heartily approved by the heads of the Church of Rome. Its
title went far to condemn it. The Roman Catholic Church requires faith,
submissiveness, subserviency, not reason, of its sons; and we are
not, therefore, surprised to find that though the ‘Rational Theology’
of Sabunde, as a whole, long escaped being placed on the index of
prohibited books, the prologue with which we find one of the early
editions, if it be not the first (Argentorati, 1496), introduced, was
soon ordered to be expunged; nor, indeed, as culture extended and the
Reformation spread, with ever-increasing alarm to the dominant Church,
that the book itself was at length pointedly forbidden to be read by
the faithful. It was put upon the ‘Index’ by the Congregation of the
Council of Trent in 1595, the author ‘holding too much by Nature,’
say the reverend councillors, ‘to give us a knowledge of God and his
providential dealing with the world, and making too little reference to
the Fathers and the authority of Holy Writ.’

The Prologue of Sabunde is in truth a very remarkable piece of writing,
the age considered in which it flowed from the pen. Beginning in
the accredited orthodox fashion: ‘Ad laudem et gloriam altissimæ et
gloriosissimæ Trinitatis,’ &c., the author proceeds to say that his
purpose is ‘to expose the errors, as well of the ancient philosophers
as of pagan and infidel writers, by the science he has to propound;
to set forth the catholic faith in its infallible truthfulness, and
to show every sect opposed thereunto in its necessary falsity and
erroneousness. Two books,’ he continues, ‘are given to us by God for
our guidance: one, the universal book of created things, or the book
of Nature; the other, the book of the sacred Scriptures. The first
was given to man from the beginning, when the world was made; the
second is to supplement and solve the difficulties met with in the
first. The book of the Creatures lies open to all; but the book of the
Scriptures can only be read aright by the clergy. The book of Nature
cannot be falsified, neither can it be readily interpreted amiss, even
by heretics; but the book of the Scriptures they can misconstrue and
falsify at their pleasure.’ The author’s design, therefore, is to write
a book which gentle and simple alike may read and understand without a
master; and he ends his prologue with a compliment and submission to
Holy Mother Church, which her hierarchs, however, have not accepted
either gratefully or graciously; for they did not of old, any more
than they do now, want books that would enable readers to go their own
way without the guiding hand of a master. Shall we wonder, therefore,
that this notable prologue was looked on at an early date as highly
objectionable, and is not to be found in any of the later editions of
the book?[5]

Michel de Montaigne has given an interesting account of this ‘Rational
Theology’ of Sabunde. His father thought so highly of it that he set
his son, the immortal Essayist, to translate it into French: a task
which it were needless to say he performed in a very admirable manner,
though the sire did not live to see the work in type and in the hands
of the public he was anxious to reach through its means. The book, says
Montaigne, is composed by a Spaniard, in indifferent Latin--_basti
d’un Espagnol, baraguiné des terminaisons Latines_--but well adapted
to meet a want of the day. The novelties of Luther coming into vogue
and shaking old beliefs, Sabunde, as he thinks, ‘gives very good
advice against a disease that ever tends towards execrable atheism.’
If Sabunde does give _tres bon advis_, his ‘Book of the Creatures’
is nevertheless the text from which the most sceptical perhaps of
the whole series of the ‘Essays’ is written; and if the ‘Theologia
Rationalis’ fell into the hands of the youthful Michael Servetus, as
we believe it must almost necessarily have done, we have no difficulty
in imagining that it influenced him in a still greater degree, and
not much otherwise than it did young Michel de Montaigne. A rational
exposition of God’s revelation of himself in nature, we apprehend, must
have been a craving in the soul of the serious Spaniard still more than
in that of the lively Gascon.[6]

But there is another writer whose influence on his age and the progress
of free thought it is impossible to estimate too highly, and from whose
teaching Servetus on his death-walk owned that he had had _something_.
This is Erasmus. What Servetus had he does not say. Whatever it may
have been, it was unaccompanied by the caution and cold discretion that
distinguished the great scholar of Rotterdam. In the Scholia which
Erasmus added to his Greek New Testament, however, we fancy we see
heralds of the far bolder and more original exegetical annotations with
which Servetus, under his assumed name of Villanovanus, accompanied his
reprint of the Pagnini Bible, which we shall have to speak of by and by.

In addition to all he learned from his convent teachers, from the
professors of Saragossa and Toulouse, from Sabunde, Luther, Erasmus,
and others on the subject of theology, Servetus must further have been
well read in general history and the works of travellers in foreign
lands, as we shall find when we come to study his edition of Ptolemy’s
Geography, and refer particularly to his biblical criticisms, in days
when criticism of the kind he brought to bear on the text of the
Scriptures was unknown. It was only in the early part of the sixteenth
century that the Hebrew Bible and Greek Testament began to be appealed
to by the learned, and made the subject of critical study in a way
never thought of before. Long limited to the letter, the study was
widened in its scope by Servetus, and, embracing general history, made
to include a new and highly important element in its bearing on the
Religious Idea. If Servetus of himself arrived at the interpretation he
gives of the Psalms and Prophetical writings of Israel, he must indeed
have been possessed of no ordinary share of natural sagacity informed
by study, and of moral courage in addition; for it runs counter to
all that had been assumed from the date of the New Testament writings
almost to the present day. The free use he makes of his historical
reading in its application to David, Cyrus, and Hezekiah, may have
been that which led some of his biographers to imagine that he was of
Jewish descent, and to say that he had visited Africa, and had had
Mahomedan as well as Jewish teachers, from whom he imbibed his notions,
hostile to the common orthodox interpretation of the Prophets, and the
conception of a Triune God.

It were absurd to suppose that Servetus’s early convent education and
subsequent studies at Saragossa and Toulouse had made him all he shows
himself to be in his works. He continued a student through the whole
of his life, and it is indeed among the privileges of the physician
that his education never ends; but it was certainly at an early period
of his career that he became possessed of the theological ideas which
he went on elaborating, even to the day when his ‘Restoration of
Christianity’ was in type and ready for the publication it did not
obtain. It is therefore of moment with us to seize and follow up every
incident in his life that induced or strengthened the bent of his mind
towards theological speculation; and the event which now befel, we must
presume, had no slight influence in this direction.



CHAPTER II.

SERVICE WITH FRIAR JUAN QUINTANA, CONFESSOR OF THE EMPEROR CHARLES V.


School and college days come naturally to an end, or are cut short
by one intervening incident or another; and the studies of Michael
Servetus at Toulouse were interrupted by an invitation to enter his
service from brother Juan Quintana, a Franciscan friar, confessor
to the Emperor Charles V., about to attend on his Sovereign to his
coronation in the imperial city of Bologna, and, of still greater
significance, to the Diet of Augsburg, which followed it closely. In
what capacity Servetus joined Quintana we are not informed; but if
father confessors ever engaged private secretaries, we can hardly doubt
that it must have been in the intimate relationship suggested, for
which the accomplishments of the younger man so obviously qualified
him. The invitation from Quintana is interesting on many accounts,
and was certainly an important element in the mental development
of Servetus. Though he may have quitted Spain hurriedly, perhaps
secretly--in fear of the Inquisition, as said--he could have left
nothing but a good name for conduct and accomplishment behind him,
otherwise he would never have been recommended as a fit and proper
person to act as secretary to the confessor of the great Emperor. Not
forgotten by his old masters of Saragossa, the clever student was
thought of by them when Quintana made known his want of a secretary,
and must have been recommended to him as in every way qualified to fill
a situation of the kind.

Michael Servetus, as we apprehend him, was one of those sensitive
natures which, like the stainless plate of the photographer, retains
at once and reflects every object presented to it; his service with
Quintana, consequently, was one of the incidents that influenced the
whole of his after life. Up to the time of his engagement with the
confessor he had been but one among hundreds of other students, known
to his teachers as a young man of superior abilities, it may be,
but not an object of more particular attention to any one of them.
In the intimate relationship implied between the elderly principal
and the youthful underling matters were entirely changed; and recent
inquiries[7] lead to the conclusion that the hood of the barefooted
friar Juan Quintana covered the head of a man of superior powers,
cherishing larger, more liberal and more tolerant views than were
current in his age, more especially among the class to which he
belonged.

Quintana appears to have attracted the notice of the Emperor so far
back as the date of the Diet of Worms, during the sittings of which he
had distinguished himself as a preacher and become generally known as a
theologian and man of learning. He had at the same time, however, and
in like measure, fallen out of favour with his party, opposed at every
point to the reform movement, in consequence of the moderation of his
views. Matters at Worms had gone in no wise to the satisfaction of the
Emperor, owing in no inconsiderable degree, as he must have believed,
to the intolerance and mismanagement of his clerical advisers. To give
the approaching Diet of Augsburg, of which Charles was thinking far
more seriously than of the pageant of Bologna when he made Quintana his
confessor, a chance of proving the bond of union he desired between the
two great religious parties which now divided his empire, he saw that
he must rid himself of the narrow-minded and utterly irreconcilable
Dominican Loaysa, whom he had had at Worms as his spiritual director.
From Loaysa he knew he had no prospect of receiving those counsels
of concession and compromise which, as a politician, he saw were
indispensable and to which he was himself at the moment by no means
disinclined. He must have another confessor of more liberal views, not
utterly opposed to the reformation of the Church in all its aspects
and to the whole body of the Reformers with whom, as heretics, it was
condescension on the part of a Roman Catholic dignitary to communicate,
and contamination, if it were not sin, to sympathise. The old director
had therefore to be got rid of, for a time at least; but he must
suffer no slight, be subjected to no show of mistrust, to no seeming
loss of confidence; he must not even be superseded in his office, but
only removed to a distance and so made innocuous. Charles therefore
discovered that a representative, who must be presumed to be familiar
with the most secret aspirations of his soul, would be required at
Rome as the medium of communication between himself and his holiness
the Pope, in connection with the important business in prospect
at Augsburg. Loaysa, accordingly--greatly to his disgust beyond
question--was dispatched with all the honours to Rome, whilst Juan
Quintana, summoned from the quiet of the cloister to the bustle of the
Court, found himself unexpectedly with a royal and imperial penitent at
his ear in the confessional, and an upper seat in the council chamber
pending the discussion of affairs of state.

How should we imagine that an invitation to take service with a man
possessed of qualities that brought him into such relationships could
have been otherwise than instantly embraced by the youthful student of
Toulouse; or how doubt that intimate contact with so great a nature
as Quintana’s could fail to impress him deeply? Attached forthwith to
the service of the confessor and in the suite of the Emperor, not the
least observant among all who accompanied him of the pomp and pageantry
displayed at the coronation at Bologna, the open-eyed secretary was
witness of much besides that sank into his mind, gave matter for future
thought, and found free but needlessly offensive expression in his
writings. Here, at Bologna, it was in fact, and not at Rome as has been
said, that Servetus saw the Pope ‘borne aloft above the heads of the
people, the multitude kneeling in the dust, adoring him, and they among
them who could but kiss his slipper accounting themselves blessed.’ Nor
was it the ignorant multitude alone that showed such abject servility.
He saw in addition ‘the most powerful prince of his age, at the head of
twenty thousand veteran soldiers, kneeling and kissing the feet of the
Pope;’[8] an exhibition which appears to have been thought of as simply
degrading instead of edifying by the independent-minded secretary.

So great an event as the coronation of the Emperor was too favourable
an occasion to be neglected for a stroke of business by the financiers
of the Romish Church: indulgences were in the market in plenty, and at
prices to suit all purchasers, immunity from the pains of purgatory
being to be obtained for terms in the ratio of the money paid. How
shall we imagine that so glaring an abuse could fail to touch Servetus,
in the state of mind to which he must already have attained, in the
same way as the proceedings of Tetzel and his coadjutors touched the
common sense and conscience of Luther? It was doubtless with all he
now observed before him that we, short while after, find him speaking
in such virulent terms of the Papacy and exclaiming: ‘O bestia
bestiarum, meretrix sceleratissima’--‘O beast most beastly, most
wicked of harlots!’[9] Some of Luther’s epithets, we might conclude,
had found their way into the vocabulary of Servetus; and it may be
that the violence of Luther’s invective, unchallenged by the rest of
the Reformers, led him to fancy that he too might indulge without
impropriety in language of an unseemly kind.

When we think of the times in which Servetus lived, his early education
and subsequent surroundings, the violent hatred he seems already to
have conceived against the Papacy is not a little extraordinary. We
might be tempted to conclude that the free thought of Europe, of
which the Reformation was the outcome and expression, had found even
a more genial soil in the mind of this Spanish youth than in that of
Luther himself, or any of his accredited followers. They went little
way in freeing the religion of Jesus of Nazareth from the accretions
which metaphysical subtlety, superstition, and ignorance of the laws
of nature and the principles of things had gathered around it in the
course of ages. Their business, as they apprehended it, was to reform
the Church rather than the religion of which it was presumed to be the
exponent; the task that Servetus set himself in the end was to reform
religion, with little thought of a Church in any sense in which an
institution of the kind was conceived in his day, whether by Papist or
Protestant.

From reading the Bible at Toulouse and contrasting the humble life
and simple theistic morality of the Prophet of Nazareth with the
metaphysical subtleties and dogmatic deductions of the schoolmen,
the pomp, the power, the tyranny and the greed of the priests so
conspicuously displayed at Bologna, we can readily imagine the
impression made on the independent spirit of Servetus--an impression
that found more seemly utterance anon than that we have already quoted,
and in words like these: ‘For my own part I neither agree nor disagree
in every particular with either Catholic or Reformer. Both of them
seem to me to have something of truth and something of error in their
views; and whilst each sees the other’s shortcomings, neither sees
his own. God in his goodness give us all to understand our errors and
incline us to put them away. It would be easy enough, indeed, to judge
dispassionately of everything, were we but suffered without molestation
by the Churches freely to speak our minds; the older exponents of
doctrine, in obedience to the recommendation of St. Paul, giving place
to younger men, and these in their turn making way for teachers of
the day who had aught to impart that had been revealed to them. But
our doctors now contend for nothing but power. The Lord confound all
tyrants of the Church! Amen.’--The voice of this nineteenth century
verging on its close, from the mouth of a man little more than of age,
living in the first half of the sixteenth![10]

The business of the coronation at Bologna concluded, the Emperor betook
himself to Germany in view of the great Diet of Augsburg, formally
inaugurated in the summer of 1530, accompanied of course by his
confessor, as the confessor was attended by his youthful secretary. And
here it must have been that Servetus saw and may perchance have spoken
with Melanchthon and others of the leading Reformers, among the number
of whom, however, the greatest of them all did not appear. Luther’s
friends believed that the danger he must run by showing himself at
Augsburg was too great to be incurred. The brave man would himself have
faced the peril, but his princely protectors positively forbade the
exposure. They feared that at Augsburg the Emperor might be tempted to
violate the ‘safe conduct’ he had been reproached by his Papal advisers
with having so honourably observed at Worms; for there were still some
among the Roman Catholics, high in place, so ill-informed, so blind to
events, as to believe that were the head of the man who had inaugurated
the movement which compromised their power but off his shoulders, the
Reformation would collapse and die! Luther was therefore permitted by
his friends to approach the scene of action on this occasion no nearer
than Coburg.

Neither at Augsburg any more than at Worms did matters proceed so
entirely to the satisfaction of the Emperor as he wished, and may
have anticipated. The Protestant princes, with little cohesion
among themselves, showed, nevertheless, that severally they were
more resolute than ever in their requirements touching religion,
less obsequious too to the advances of their suzerain than he found
agreeable. They felt themselves in fact, and in so far, masters of the
situation, and had mostly quitted Augsburg before the sittings of the
Diet came to a close, content to leave Melanchthon and his colleagues
to give final shape to the business for which the Diet had been mainly
convoked, and in the great RELIGIOUS CHARTER OF THE AGE--the Confession
of Augsburg--to establish Protestantism as an integral and recognised
element, not only in the religious, but in the political system of
Europe.

During his attendance on his chief at Augsburg, Servetus, though
he saw and may have spoken with more than one of the distinguished
Reformers, could have been an object of particular attention to none
of them: his youth and subordinate position precluded the possibility
of this. That he may have been disappointed at not seeing the original
of the great movement which had brought together the august assembly
he looked on around him, we may well believe, but we find no evidence
in contemporary documents that would lead us to think he had ever come
into contact with Luther, as has been said.[11]



CHAPTER III.

THE SERVICE WITH QUINTANA COMES TO AN END.


It is greatly to be regretted that we have nothing from Servetus on
the other impressions he received, during the term of his service with
Quintana, beside those connected with the pomp and power of the Papacy.
We do not even know precisely how long he continued with the confessor
of the Emperor, nor where, nor at what moment he left him. Neither
have we a word of his whereabouts and mode of life, after vacating his
office, until we meet him seeking an interview with Jehan Hausschein,
the individual, with his name turned into Greek, so familiar to the
world as Œcolampadius. From Servetus himself we have it that he quitted
the service of Quintana on his death, which, he says, occurred in
Germany. But the truth of this statement has been called in question
on very sufficient grounds, Quintana having been seen alive in the
flesh, and still in attendance on the Emperor, years after dates at
which we know positively that Servetus had been in Basle and Strasburg,
communicating with Œcolampadius, Bucer, and others of the Reformers.
More than this, he had come before the world as author of the book
entitled ‘De Trinitatis Erroribus,’ a copy of which having been found
by Joannes Cochlæus, an ecclesiastic in the suite of the Emperor, in a
bookseller’s shop at Ratisbon, was by him shown to Quintana, who, we
are informed, expressed extreme disgust that a countryman of his own
and personally known to him--_quem de facie se nôsse dicebat_--should
have fallen so far into the slough of heresy as to write on the mystery
of the Trinity in the style of Michael Servetus, alias Revés.[12] Nor
indeed is this the last we hear of Quintana. After the settlement of
affairs at Ratisbon and Nürnberg, he attended the Emperor to Italy, and
thence to his native Spain, where we find him installed as Prior of
the Church of Monte Aragon and a member of the Cortes of the kingdom.
Quintana appears in fact to have lived for yet two years, actively
engaged in his duties, having only been gathered to his fathers towards
the end of the year 1534.[13]

Servetus did not therefore leave the service of Quintana after, or
in consequence of, the death of the confessor. We find it difficult
indeed to think of one with the decidedly unorthodox opinions to which
Servetus had attained at an early period of his life, continuing on
terms of intimacy with a man of Quintana’s capacity, without showing
something of the leaven of unbelief that must have been already
fermenting in his mind. There is, it is true, commonly enough, so
much more of policy than of piety among hierarchs of the Church of
Rome, and indeed of any church largely possessed of wealth and culture,
that their real opinions and beliefs have often been made subject of
debate. But Quintana was a monk, although a liberal one, and he was
Charles V.’s confessor. Of the Emperor’s orthodoxy, bigotry, and hatred
of heresy, however, there can be no question; so that, though policy
moved him for a time to entertain as his spiritual adviser a man more
tolerant than the general, the occasion for this ceasing, Charles was
not likely to find himself altogether at his ease with one at his elbow
much more liberally disposed than himself. Quintana consequently on
the return to Spain, being absolved of his office of confessor, but
handsomely provided for in the Church, Charles recalled Loaysa, his
former director in matters of faith, from Rome, and lapsed into the
groove of intolerance from which considerations of state had for a
moment withdrawn him.

From the false account Servetus gives of the cause of his quitting
Quintana, we therefore think it probable that soon after the settlement
of matters at Augsburg in the early autumn of 1530, he had incautiously
betrayed the state of his mind on some point of the religious question,
and been dismissed from his service by the confessor. Service of any
sort, indeed, from the estimate we are led to form of the mental
constitution of Michael Servetus, could only have been a bondage never
patiently to be endured, but to be shaken off at the earliest possible
opportunity. His was not a nature that could brook a master; and we
have the assurance of Œcolampadius that Michael Servetus was in Basle
and making himself obnoxious by his theological fancies previous to the
month of October 1530. The coronation at Bologna having taken place in
the autumn of 1529, and the Diet of Augsburg assembled at midsummer
1530, Servetus could not, thus, have been in the following of Quintana
for more than a year, or eighteen months--no long term if reckoned by
the lapse of time, but certainly covering a vast area in the sphere
of his mental development. He may have had little leisure for the
study of books, but he had his eyes open to the doings of men; and
his inner senses were awakened to truths, his reason to conclusions,
that influenced him through the rest of his life, and possibly had no
insignificant part in bringing him to his untimely end.



CHAPTER IV.

INTERCOURSE WITH THE SWISS REFORMERS.


It would appear that Œcolampadius, Bucer, Bullinger, Zwingli and
others, their friends, had had a sort of ‘clerical meeting’ for talking
over the theological questions of the day at Basle in the autumn of
1530. On this occasion Œcolampadius informed his friends that he had
been troubled of late by a hot-headed Spaniard, Servetus by name,
overflowing with Arian heresies and other objectionable opinions,
maintaining particularly that Christ was not really and truly the
Eternal Son of God; but if not, then was he not, and could not be, the
Saviour--_were Christus nit rächter, warer, ewiger Gott, so were er
doch und könte nit seyn unser Heiland_. Waxing warm in his tale, and
fearing that such poison, as he conceived it, would not be poured into
his ears alone, but would reach those of others, he was minded that
measures should be taken against such a contingency. To this Zwingli,
addressing him as brother Œcolampady, replied, that ‘there did seem
good ground for them to be on their guard; for the false and wicked
doctrine of the troublesome Spaniard goes far to do away with the
whole of our Christian religion.’ ‘God preserve us,’ said he, ‘from the
coming in among us of any such wickedness. Do what you can, then, to
quit the man of his errors, and with good and wholesome argument win
him to the truth.’ ‘That have I already done,’ said Œcolampady; ‘but so
haughty, daring and contentious is he, that all I say goes for nothing
against him.’ ‘This is indeed a thing insufferable in the Church of
God,’ said Zwingli--_Ein unleydenliche Sach in der Kyrchen Gottes_.
Therefore do everything possible that such dreadful blasphemy get no
further wind to the detriment of Christianity.’[14]

Besides the personal communication with Œcolampadius of which we
have this interesting notice, Servetus must have written him several
letters--unfortunately lost to us--about the same time, for we have two
from the Reformer to the Spaniard, which have happily been preserved.
In one of these (probably the second that was written), Servetus
having, as it seems, complained that he had been somewhat sharply
handled by his correspondent, Œcolampadius replies that he, for his
part, thinks that he himself has the greater reason to complain. ‘You
obtrude yourself on me,’ he says, ‘as if I had nothing else ado than
to answer you; asking me questions about all the foolish things the
Sorbonne has said of the Trinity, and even taking it amiss that I do
not criticise and in your way oppose myself to those distinguished
theologians, Athanasius and Nazianzenus. You contend that the Church
has been displaced from its true foundation of faith in Christ, and
feign that we speak of his filiation in a sense which detracts from
the honour that is due to him as the Son of God. But it is you who
speak blasphemously; for I now understand the diabolical subterfuges
you use. Forbearing enough in other respects, I own that I am not
possessed of that extreme amount of patience which would keep me silent
when I see Christ dishonoured.’ He then goes on to criticise and rebut
Servetus’s theological views--his denial of Two natures in the One
person of Christ, and his opinion that in the prophetical writings of
the Old Testament it is always a prospective or coming Son of God that
is indicated. ‘You,’ continues Œcolampadius, ‘do not admit that it was
the Son of God who was to come as man; but that it was the man who came
that was the Son of God; language which leads to the conclusion that
the Son of God existed not eternally before the incarnation.’

To satisfy the Reformer, or seeking to get upon a better footing with
him, Servetus appears now to have composed and sent him a Confession
of Faith, which has come down to us. On the face of this there was
such a semblance of orthodoxy that Œcolampadius found nothing at
first to object to in its statements; but having conversed with the
writer and heard his explanations, he had come to see it as utterly
fallacious, misleading, and inadmissible. He concludes by exhorting
his correspondent to ‘confess the Son to be consubstantial and
coeternal with the Father, in which case,’ he says, ‘we shall be able
to acknowledge you for a Christian.’[15]



CHAPTER V.

THE REFORMERS OF STRASBURG--PUBLICATION OF THE WORK ON TRINITARIAN
ERROR.


The letter of Œcolampadius, as we have it, is without date, but must
have been written from Basle at the close of 1530, or the beginning of
1531, and so before the book on Trinitarian Error had been published,
as we find no mention made of the work. By this time, however, Servetus
must have had the treatise ready for press, for it was now that he
put it into the hands of Conrad Kœnig or Rous, a publisher, having
establishments both at Basle and Strasburg. Kœnig was not a printer
himself; but accepting the work for publication he sent it to Jo.
Secerius, of Hagenau, in Alsace, a well-known typographer of the day,
to be put into type. To Hagenau accordingly went the MS., followed
by the author to superintend the printing; intending from thence to
proceed to Strasburg, where he was anxious to have interviews with the
leading Reformers of that city, Martin Bucer and W. F. Capito, and
propound to them, as he had done to the Switzers, the new views of
Christian doctrine at which he had arrived.

From what we know already we might conclude that he found little more
encouragement from the ministers of Strasburg than he had had from
those of Basle. Servetus himself, however, appears to have thought
otherwise, and left them with the impression that neither of the
Strasburgers was so wholly opposed to his views as Œcolampadius in
particular had shown himself at Basle. We find him, by and by, in fact,
speaking as if he even believed that in the first instance they were
alike disposed to abet rather than condemn his conclusions. And this,
from what came out subsequently, seems really to have been the case, in
so far, at least, as Capito stands concerned. Capito was, in fact, the
most advanced and truly tolerant of all the early Reformers, and if we
may rely on the report we have of his opinions from the author of the
‘Antitrinitarian Library,’[16] he was really not behind Servetus in his
rejection of the orthodox tripartite Deity. A kindly sympathy with a
young enthusiast, full of fancies on topics really beyond the reach of
demonstration, may have induced Bucer as well as his colleague, Capito,
to feel a certain interest in the subject of our study, and so led
them both to treat him otherwise than as the irreverent dreamer he had
appeared to Œcolampadius; to see him, in a word, as he was in truth--a
well-read and piously disposed, albeit in their opinion a more or less
mistaken, scholar.

Servetus undoubtedly possessed the character of the enthusiast in
perfection, and by natural constitution was not only indisposed, but
to a certain extent incapable of seeing a question in any light save
that in which he set it himself. Bucer, although he became hostile to
Servetus in the end, must in fact have been not a little taken with him
on their earlier intercourse, when in a letter to a friend he speaks of
him as ‘his dear son’--‘filius meus dilectus.’ When not curtly met as
the rash innovator and heretic, Servetus was neither the proud nor the
impracticable man he appeared to Œcolampadius and Calvin. During his
visit to Strasburg, when he was doubtless busy with his ‘De Trinitatis
Erroribus’--revising, polishing, and seeing it through the press--in a
notable modification of the terms in which one of the cardinal points
of his doctrine is spoken of in an earlier and in a later passage of
the work, Bucer’s kindly counsel, it is presumed, may be detected.
Whilst in Book IV. we find these words, ‘The Word is never spoken of
in Scripture as the Son; the Word was the shadow only, Christ was the
substance,’ in Book VII. he says, ‘The Word is never spoken of in
Scripture as the Son; but to Christ himself there is ascribed a kind
of eternity of engenderment. The things that were under the _Law_ were
shadows of the body of Christ.’[17]

Whatever the two distinguished Reformers of Strasburg may have said,
however--and we can hardly doubt of their having tried to win him to
the views that were commonly entertained--he was not stayed for a
moment in his purpose of getting into print. Nay--and we know not why
the right should be refused him--he seems to have thought himself
at as full liberty as the leaders of the great movement then afoot
to give his own interpretation of the kind of reform which not the
Church only, but its doctrine, required. For such an undertaking he
was as well qualified by culture as any of the Reformers--better
qualified, in fact, than many among them, as in genius we believe he
was surpassed, and in liberality and tolerance approached by none.
Servetus, in truth, had started in the reforming race unweighted, and
so, and in so far with a better chance of reaching the goal of simple
truth than either Luther or Calvin; for though he had received the
education of the cloister, he was neither professed monk nor priest;
and, without detriment to the piety of his spirit, or his belief in
what were held by the world as the oracles of God, he had freed himself
from the fetters of necessary assent to the interpretations put upon
these, formulated into dogmas, by the Church in which he had been born
and bred. Servetus seems never to have had any misgivings about his
title to show himself among the number of the Reformers. He was in
Germany, the land of free thought, as he imagined; among men who had
thought freely, and whom he had been used to hear spoken of by his
clerical surroundings, whilst in the suite of Quintana, as heretics and
blasphemers. These names he did not fear in such respectable company as
he found the Reformers of Switzerland and Germany to be; and though he
did not agree with them on some topics, he could bear with them as well
in that wherein he differed from them as in that wherein they differed
among themselves, and saw no reason why they should not in like manner
bear with him. He thought of nothing, therefore, but prospective fame
for himself in the publication he contemplated. The names of Luther,
Melanchthon, Calvin, and the rest, appeared on the title-pages of their
works: why, then, should his name be withheld from the world? On the
title-page of the ‘Seven Books on Mistaken Conceptions of the Trinity’
accordingly, which now came forth from the press, we find not only his
family name, Servetus, but the alias, Revés, from his mother’s side of
the house, and the name of the country that called him son:--

    ‘De Trinitatis Erroribus, Libri Septem.
    Per Michaelem Serveto, alias Revés,
    Ab Aragonia, Hispanum,
    1531.’

The publisher and printer, having an eye to business, not notoriety,
and suspicious in all probability of the reception the article in the
production of which they were aiding and abetting, might receive,
were more cautious than the author; for the name neither of printer,
publisher, nor place of publication, appears on the title-page. In the
month of July, 1531, however, the book was to be bought at once in
the cities of Strasburg, Frankfort, and Basle: but no one knew for
more than twenty years where it had been printed, nor who besides the
author--who had also vanished out of sight--had been accessory to its
publication. The truth only came out in the course of the author’s
trial at Geneva in the year 1553. Basle had the credit for a time of
having hatched the cockatrice; and that the charge was taken seriously
to heart appears from a letter of Œcolampadius to Bucer which has been
preserved.

The Swiss churches, as is known, were not all at one with Luther
and his followers upon some of the transcendental topics of their
common faith; and Servetus in his book having attacked the Doctrine
of Justification by Faith--the leading feature in Luther’s theology,
in terms neither complimentary nor respectful, the Switzers were
anxious to have the great head of the Reform movement informed that
they had nothing in common with the Serveto, alias Revés, of the book
‘De Trinitatis Erroribus,’ and that it had not fallen from any of the
presses of their country. In his letter to Bucer dated from Basle,
August 5, 1531, Œcolampadius informs him that ‘several of their friends
had seen Servetus’s book and were beyond measure offended with it.’ ‘I
wish you would write to Luther,’ he continues, ‘and tell him it was
printed elsewhere than at Basle, and without any privity of ours. It is
surely a piece of consummate impudence in the writer to say that the
Lutherans are ignorant of what Justification really means. Passing
many things by, I fancy he must belong to the sect of the Photinians,
or to some other I know not what. Unless he be put down by the doctors
of our church, it will be the worse for us. I pray you of all others
to keep watch; and if you find no better or earlier opportunity,
be particular in your report to the Emperor in excusing us and our
churches from the breaking in among us of this wild beast. He indeed
abuses everything in his way of viewing it; and to such lengths does he
go that he disputes the coeternity and consubstantiality of the Father
and the Son--he would even have the man Christ to be the Son of God in
the usual natural way.’[18]

Bucer having perused the ‘De Trinitatis Erroribus’ would seem to have
been excessively disturbed or scandalised by its contents. Known as
a man of a perfectly humane disposition in a general way, he is now
violent even to slaying. Denouncing its author from the pulpit, he is
said to have declared that the writer of such a book deserved to be
disembowelled and torn in pieces! Yet was not Martin Bützer always of
this savage way of thinking. In a Preface and Postscript to an early
work--a translation by a friend, of Augustin’s Treatise ‘on the Duty of
the Ruler in matters of Religion,’[19] he is as mercifully disposed
towards the erring as could be desired. They are to be prayed for,
instructed, and it may be punished, but it is to be mildly; they are
never to be put to death. He refers to his ‘Dialogues’ in which the
subject is treated at length.

Luther, too, must have read the work, and it is not a little
interesting to us to be made aware from what he says himself that
he, like others of the Reformers, as well as Michael Servetus, had
been troubled with doubts about the conformity of the orthodox
Trinitarian dogma with the dictates of simple reason. In the
Table-Talk--Tisch-Reden--of 1532, he refers to what he characterises
as ‘a fearfully wicked book--ein greulich bös Buch--’ which had lately
come out against the doctrine of the holy Trinity. ‘Visionaries like
the writer,’ says Doctor Martin, ‘do not seem to fancy that other folks
as well as they may have had temptations on this subject. But the
sting did not hold; I set the word of God and the Holy Ghost against
my thoughts and got free.’ Luther as usual imagined that the doubts he
felt were inspired by the Devil, instead of by God, through the reason
given him for his guidance.[20]

But of all his contemporaries Melanchthon appears to have been more
taken with the work on Trinitarian Error than any other of the leading
Reformers; and he is much more outspoken in expressing his opinion of
the incomprehensible and really unscriptural nature of the dogma which
it is the gist of Servetus’s book to impugn. To one of his friends he
begins his letter by telling him ‘that he has been reading Servetus
a great deal--_Servetum multum lego_--though I am well aware of the
fanatical nature of the man. In his derisive treatment of Justification
he sees nothing but the _quality_ of Augustin; and he plainly raves
when, misinterpreting the text of the Old and New Testament, he denies
to the Prophets the Holy Spirit. I also think he does injustice both
to Tertullian and Irenæus, when, treating of the Word, he makes them
question its being an hypostasis. But I have little doubt that great
controversies will one day arise on this subject, as well as on the
distinction of the two natures in Christ.’[21]

To Camerarius, another friend, he writes: ‘You ask me what I think
of Servetus? I see him indeed sufficiently sharp and subtle in
disputation, but I do not give him credit for much depth. He is
possessed, as it seems to me, of confused imaginations, and his
thoughts are not well matured on the subjects he discusses. He
manifestly talks foolishness when he speaks of Justification. Περὶ
τῆς τρίαδος--on the subject of the Trinity--you know, I have always
feared that serious difficulties would one day arise. Good God! to what
tragedies will not these questions give occasion in times to come: εἴ
ἐστιν ὑπόστασις ὁ λὀγος--is the Logos an hypostasis? εἴ ἐστιν ὑπόστασις
τὸ πνεῦμα--is the Holy Ghost an hypostasis? For my own part I refer me
to those passages of Scripture that bid us call on Christ, which is to
ascribe divine honours to him, and find them full of consolation.’[22]

This is surely very candid and beautiful. But the spirit of the
Prophet of Nazareth did not always find such a resting place as it
did in the heart and mind of Philip Schwarzerde, though he too could
forget himself and approve of violence, as we shall see, when certain
beliefs which he held sacred and thought it a public duty to profess
were assailed. At this time, however, on this occasion, he is in his
proper placable frame of mind and continues thus: ‘I find it after
all of little use to inquire too curiously into that which properly
constitutes the nature of a _Person_, and into that wherein and whereby
persons are distinguished from one another. It is very provoking that
in Epiphanius, except a few trifling passages, we have nothing from the
days when the same questions were agitated by Paul of Samosata--nothing
in fact whence we might know what was thought of Paul’s opinions at the
time, and of what mind were they who condemned him. I am even greatly
distressed when I think of such negligence on the part of the hierarchs
of the age of this Paul, as well as of times more near our own.’ When
writing thus Melanchthon plainly sympathised more with Paul of Samosata
and his opinions than he would have liked to acknowledge at a later
period of his life; for he, too, like so many who become narrow and
intolerant in age, was liberal enough when younger, and in the earlier
editions of his ‘Loci Theologici’ could speak of the Holy Spirit as
nothing more than an ‘Afflatus of Deity.’

The above extracts from confidential letters seem to show that
Melanchthon was not himself quite clear as to the sense in which a
Trinity of the Godhead was to be understood; a state of mind shared in,
unless we much mistake, by more than one among the most influential
men of the Swiss Churches, by none more certainly than by Calvin,
their great head, himself, as we shall show. Melanchthon indeed in
his next letter to the same friend, speaking of Servetus’s assumption
that Tertullian did not think the Logos an hypostasis--a distinct
substantial reality--proceeds:--‘To me Tertullian seems to think on
this subject as we do in public--_quod publice sentimus_, and not in
the way Servetus interprets him. But of these things more hereafter
when we meet.’ Melanchthon would not therefore trust in writing, even
to an intimate friend, all he thought on the subject of the Trinity;
and truly there is matter enough when critically scanned in the first
edition of his best-known work--‘The Loci Theologici’ of 1521--that
puts him out of the pale of orthodox Trinitarianism.[23]

Neither was Joannes Œcolampadius without something of a fellow feeling
for Servetus, although he repudiated his conclusions. Writing to Martin
Bucer on July 18, 1531, shortly after the publication of the work on
Trinitarian misconception, he informs his friend that he had heard from
Capito of Strasburg, who tells him that the book is for sale among them
there, and has rejoiced some of the enemies of the Church, as it will
also afford matter of gratulation to the Papists of France when they
see that writings of the kind are suffered to be published in Germany.
‘Read the book,’ continues the writer, ‘and tell me what you think of
it. Were I not busy with my Job, I should be disposed to answer it
myself; but I must leave this duty to another with more leisure at
command. Our Senate have forbidden the Spaniard’s book to be sold here.
They have asked my opinion of its merits, and I have said that as the
writer does not acknowledge the coeternity of the Son, I can in no
wise approve of it as a whole, although it contains much else that is
good--_Etiamsi multa alia bona scribat_.’[24]

In the days of Philip Melanchthon and Joannes Œcolampadius we therefore
see that men had _private_ opinions on subjects to which they were
committed by their subscriptions, which differed we know not how widely
from their public professions, precisely as among the ancients, and
ourselves at the present time: culture would still seem to make an
esoteric and an exoteric doctrine a necessity of existence.

Made aware, as we are by these letters of the Reformers, that
Servetus’s book was causing a considerable stir both in Switzerland
and Germany, it seems, in so far as we have ascertained, to have
been entirely neglected by the Roman Catholics of these lands as
well as of France. We have searched in vain for any notice of it
in French theological writings of the period; neither have we been
able to discover, though condemned and ordered to be suppressed by
the Emperor Charles V. when brought under his notice by Cochlæus and
Quintana at Ratisbon, that it figures at any early date on the Roman
Index of prohibited books. There are good reasons for believing,
nevertheless, that Servetus’s book on Trinitarian Misconception had a
large amount of influence on Italian ground. It had been sent south
in numbers; and aware of this Melanchthon took it upon him by-and-by
to address the Senate of Venice on the subject, informing them that
a highly objectionable work was for sale among them, and suggesting
that measures should be taken for its suppression. The Sozzini, uncle
and nephew--Lælius and Faustus Socinus--and their followers, the
Unitarians, have consequently been seen as the disciples of Servetus,
though it may be that they were so only indirectly; for Servetus
himself, as we shall find, declares that he does not deny a kind of
trinity in the unity of God. But his trinity is _modal_ or _formal_,
not _real_ or _personal_ in the usual sense of the word.

If overlooked by theologians of the Latin races, the work of our
author appears to have attracted all the more attention from the men
of Teutonic descent who had espoused the cause of the Reformation.
In their ranks in the early period of the sixteenth century the
intelligence of Europe, in so far as the religious question was
concerned, seems to have been concentrated. They took pains to inform
themselves generally on all that was going on in the republic of
letters, and in so much of it very particularly as bore on the subject
they had most at heart. It is among the Swiss and German Reformers
consequently that we find any particular notice taken of Servetus’s
book on Trinitarian Error. They alone show themselves scandalised by
the opinions of its author and his style of expressing them, jealous
too, it might seem, at the intrusion of a mere layman into their
domain--a phenomenon as yet perfectly unheard of, and startled further
by the advances they discovered in the book upon all that they, as
inheritors of apostolic traditions in common with their Roman Catholic
brethren (from whom in matters of Dogma they differed so little),
regarded as the truth. Paul of Tarsus preaching his own independent
gospel to the Gentiles, proclaiming the universality of the fatherhood
of God, the nothingness of Circumcision, and, in opposition to the
whole Levitical code, that all days were alike holy and that it was not
what went into the mouth of a man that defiled him, could scarcely
have been more ominous to the intolerant Nazarene Church of Jerusalem
than was the appearance of this daring innovator upon the religious
stage of Germany. His book, everywhere freely sold in the first
instance, must have been read by everyone of liberal education, though
it became so scarce ere long, denounced and decried as it must have
been universally by the ministers, that twenty years afterwards a copy,
most pressingly wanted, and eagerly sought after, was nowhere to be
found in Switzerland; so effectually had zealotry succeeded in having
it committed to the flames!

Strasburg and Basle, however, must have been the emporiums whence
the supplies of the ‘De Erroribus Trinitatis’ were sent forth; for
after its author’s visit to the capital of Elsass and his happy
delivery of this the first-born of his genius at Hagenau, we find
him again in Basle and making himself obnoxious to Œcolampadius as
before. Writing what we must presume to be a second or third letter
to the Reformer, and complimenting him on what he is pleased to
style his correspondent’s clear apprehension of Luther’s doctrine of
Justification, Servetus goes on to make a personal request. ‘Somewhat
fearful of writing to you again,’ he says, ‘lest I should molest you
still more than I have already done, I yet venture to ask of you not
to interfere with my sending the books to France which I have with
me here, the book-fair of Lyons drawing near; for you of all men
are better entitled than any one else to pronounce an opinion upon
things unheard of until now. If you think it better that I should not
remain here, I shall certainly take my leave; only, you are not to
think that I go as a fugitive. God knows I have been sincere in all I
have written, although my crude style perchance displeases you. I did
not imagine you would take offence at what I say of the Lutherans;
especially when from your own mouth I heard you declare you were of
opinion that Luther had treated Charity in too off-hand a style;
adding, as you did, that folks were charitable mostly when they had
nothing else to think of. Melanchthon, too, as you know, affirms that
God has no regard for charity. Such sayings, believe me, are more
hurtful to the soul than anything I have ever written. And this all the
more as I see that you are not agreed among yourselves on the subject
of faith; for with my own ears I have heard you say one thing, which
is otherwise declared by doctor Paulus, otherwise by Luther, and yet
otherwise by Melanchthon;[25] and of this I admonished you in your own
house; but you would not hear me.

‘Your rule for proving the Spirit, I think, deceives you; for, if in
your own mind there be any fear, or doubt, or confusion, you cannot
judge truly of me; and this the more because, although you know me in
error in one thing, you ought not, therefore, to condemn me in others,
else there were none who should escape burning a thousand times over.
This truth is forced on us on all hands, most especially perhaps by the
example of the Apostles, who sometimes erred. And, then, you do not
condemn Luther in every particular, although you are well aware that
he is mistaken in some things. I have myself entreated you to instruct
me, which, however, you have not done. It is surely an infirmity of our
human nature that none of us see our own faults, and so commonly look
on those who differ from us as impious persons or impostors. I entreat
you, for God’s sake, to spare my name and reputation. I say nothing of
others who are not interested in the questions between us. You say that
I would have no one punished or put to death, though all were thieves
alike; but I call the omnipotent God to witness that this is not my
opinion; nay, I scout any such conclusion. If I have spoken at any
time on the subject (the punishment proper for heresy), it was because
I saw it as a most serious matter to put men to death on the ground
of mistake in interpreting the Scriptures; for do we not read that
even the elect may err? You know full well that I have not treated my
subject in so indifferent or indiscreet a manner as to deserve entire
rejection at your hands. You make little yourself of speaking of the
Holy Spirit as an angel, but think it a great crime in me when I say
that the Son of God was a man.

  ‘Farewell.
  ‘MICHAEL SERVETO.’[26]

This letter, so characteristic of the writer, is full of interest even
at the present hour. Servetus would have Œcolampadius instruct him; but
the invariable complaint of all with whom he came in contact was that
he could never be made to receive instruction; in other words, secure
in his own conclusions, he thought his would-be instructors mistaken in
theirs. And this, indeed, for good or ill, is characteristic of all who
impress their age, and show themselves leaders in art, in science, in
policy, or religion. Genius measures with its own rod, and is its own
guide on the way it goes. The world is not moved by men who have all
they own from teachers.

But especially worthy of note is the remark our writer makes on the
serious responsibility men assume when they put each other to death
for mistaken interpretations of Scripture. Had no scholar in modern
times before Servetus come to so great and charitable a conclusion,
we should still have to hallow the memory of the man who, more than
three hundred years ago, had the head and the heart to proclaim so
great a principle, in the enforcement of which in all its aspects the
better spirits of the world still find such opposition; though it is
not now by the infliction of death that bigotry and intolerance revenge
themselves on their victims, the advocates of freethought and outspoken
religious criticism.

A good deal has been said, by its author as well as others, of the
crude style of the book on Trinitarian Error. But this to us seems
the least of its faults--the language is generally simple enough, not
Ciceronian certainly, but the meaning, save where the writer probably
did not quite understand himself, is not doubtful. As a composition,
it is the arrangement that is most defective. The parts have so little
either of coherence or sequence, that of the seven books or chapters
into which it is divided, the last, as it seems, might advantageously
have been made the first. For there it is, and not until the
penultimate page of the entire treatise is attained, that the key to
the writer’s most important conclusions is discovered. ‘Two fundamental
rules or principles,’ he says, ‘are to be steadily kept in view:--1st,
That the nature of God cannot be conceived as divisible; and 2nd, That
that which is accidental to the nature of anything is disposition.’ The
corollary he would have to follow from these premisses or postulates
being, that the orthodox idea of a Trinity, _i.e._, of the existence
of three distinct persons or entities in the unity of the Godhead, is
an impossibility, and so a fundamental religious error. As Servetus
himself believed in God, and acknowledged a Son of God and a Holy
Spirit--finding mention of these in the Scriptures, no word of which
would he overlook, though putting his own interpretation on all they
say--he held that the Son and Holy Ghost, in consonance with his Second
Principle, must be what he calls _dispositions_, or _dispensations_ of
the one eternal indivisible Deity--in other words, manifestations of
God in the world.

The ‘Idea of God’ to which Servetus had attained is unquestionably
grand. ‘God,’ he says, ‘is eternal, one and indivisible, and in himself
inscrutable, but making his being known in and through creation; so
that not only is every living, but every lifeless thing, an aspect of
the Deity. Before creation was, God was; but neither was he Light,
nor Word, nor Spirit, but some ineffable thing else--_sed quid aliud
ineffabile_--these, Light, Word, Spirit, being mere dispensations,
modes or expressions of pre-existing Deity. (‘Dial.’ i. 4.) God, he
says, has no proper nature; for this would imply a beginning; and
_before_ and _after_ are terms that have no significance when they are
referred to God. Though God knew what to man would be a future, his
own prescience was without respect to _time_, and involved no such
necessity as is implied in _choice_. God, he continues, can be defined
by nothing that pertains to body; he created the world of himself, of
his substance, and, as essence, he actuates--_essentiat_--all things.
(‘Dial.’ ii.) The Spirit of God is the universal agent; it is in the
air we breathe, and is the very breath of life; it moves the heavenly
bodies; sends out the winds from their quarters; takes up and stores
the water in the clouds, and pours it out as rain to fertilise the
earth. God is therefore ever distinct from the universe of things, and
when we speak of the Word, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we but speak
of the presence and power of God projected into creation, animating and
actuating all that therein is, man more especially than aught else;
‘the Holy Spirit I always say is the motion of God in the soul of
man, and that out of man there cannot properly be said to be any Holy
Spirit.’ (‘De Trin. Err.’ f. 85, b, and ‘Dial.’ ii.) This is obviously
a statement of what may be called the Exo-pantheistic principle in very
broad terms, akin to what we find in the Grecian mythology and certain
schools of philosophy; other than the Endo-pantheistic conception of
later times--the Causa Principio et Uno of Giordano Bruno,[27] the
Substantia of Spinoza, the Universum or Kosmos of Goethe,[28] Hegel,
Humboldt, Schopenhauer, D. F. Strauss,[29] &c. It is the Principle
inseparable from the mighty All as from the individual Atom, or
Pantheism proper.

We shall, by-and-by, find our author, on his Geneva trial, damaging his
case and exciting, we may imagine, the astonishment of the unlettered
among his judges, by the assertion of his pantheistic notions,
and arousing the needless, and it may even be, the assumed ire of
Calvin--for he was familiar with the idea, having said himself that he
only objected to call Nature, God, because it was a hard and improper
expression--_quia est dura et impropria loquutio_.[30]

Criticising the first verse of the Fourth Gospel: ‘In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,’
Servetus maintains that the Greek λὀγος, translated Word with us, does
not designate an entity but utterance or speech, as appears by its
etymology, derived as it is from λἐγω, to speak, to discourse. Of the
Word of God, therefore, to make the Son of God is to do as did the
heathen, who turned ideas or abstractions into mythical beings--Echo
into a Nymph, Fortitude into Minerva, &c., and so to bring discord
and dissidence upon the truths of Scripture. (‘De Tr. Err.’ f. 47,
b.) The Word spoken by God in the beginning implies fore-thought,
fore-knowledge; whence it is characterised as Wisdom, ‘that was from
the beginning or ever the earth was. Under the mystery of the Word, the
older apostolic tradition understood a certain dispensation whereby
God willed to reveal himself to mankind. The Word of God therefore is
equivalent to the Act of God; and even as Light came of the spoken
word, so too came Creation, so too came Man.’ In this way, says our
author, do we readily comprehend the expression of John: ‘The Word was
made flesh,’ and learn in what sense Christ is truly the Word: ‘He is,
as it were, the voice of God enunciating to mankind the will of the
Universal Father.’ (Ib. f. 49 b.) The Word, consequently, is nothing
different from God, but is God himself evoking all things, Christ among
the number in the fulness of time. If a reasonable meaning is to be
attached to mystical language, it seems difficult to imagine any more
satisfactory interpretation than this of Servetus, with which we see
that of a distinguished liberal divine of our own day essentially to
agree, as he says: ‘The Logos of the New Testament means not only the
Word as translated, but Reason, Intelligence, communicating itself
in thought and speech. It is the divine wisdom which was from the
beginning in the mind of God made manifest in time.’[31]

The title _Son of God_, again, Servetus maintains is nowhere to be
found in the Scriptures otherwise applied than to a man--to the man
Jesus in particular; and the word _Person_ he insists is always to be
understood in the sense of the Greek προσῶπον and the Latin _persona_,
a mask, an appearance, and not any _real_ or individual thing. With
this style of exposition the Reformers could of course by no means
agree. They had adopted all the symbols of their predecessors of
the Church of Rome; and it seems to have been Servetus’ insistance
on his own divergent interpretation of the language of John and the
creeds that more especially aroused the enmity of Œcolampadius, Bucer,
Calvin, and the rest, they holding that to be accounted a Christian
it was necessary not only to acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God,
which Servetus was quite ready to do, in the way he understood the
filiation, but to acknowledge him to be the Logos or Word of St. John,
consubstantial and coeternal with the Father--which, to Servetus, was
impossible. It is probable that the way and manner in which in any
conceivable fashion such coeternity and consubstantiality could be
apprehended was among the topics on which Servetus craved enlightenment
from Œcolampadius; and as he could obtain none, pique and personal
dislike, opposition and enmity, took the place of dispassionate and
friendly discussion; precisely as happened in later years and mainly on
the same subjects between our author and Calvin.

In his attempt to develope and explain his own conception of the
mystery of the Trinity--for it is a mistake to suppose that Servetus
was opposed to something of the kind--he does not set out like the
writer of the Fourth Gospel from the transcendental Word, but starts
with the historical Jesus, the man, the reputed son of Joseph the
Carpenter, but verily or naturally, as he says, the Son of God. To
this son the name Jesus was given at the time of his circumcision,
the title Christ being conferred by his disciples; whilst it was only
at his baptism that he was designated Son of God. The Holy Spirit and
power of the Highest overshadowing the Virgin Mary, and acting in her
as generator or generative dew, Jesus the Son of God and her Son was
engendered. It is not the Word consequently, but Jesus the Son of Mary
who is a Son of God: ‘The holy thing that shall be born of thee,’ says
the angel addressing the Virgin, ‘shall be called a Son of God.’ ‘They
therefore plainly err,’ says Servetus, ‘who speak of the Word as the
Son of God: the man Jesus was the Son of God, not the Word; the man
Jesus engendered, as stated above, by God in the womb of the Virgin.’
‘All the Trinitarian errors,’ he concludes, ‘have arisen from not
understanding the true nature of the Incarnation.’

When he comes to speak of the Holy Ghost, Servetus unhappily forgets
what is due to the discussion of a subject that has engaged the serious
thoughts of so many pious men. He would seem to have seen some portions
of the catholic Christian dogma as so unreasonable that they were even
open to ridicule; and this leads him to the use of improper language.
The Holy Ghost, he maintains, is never spoken of save confusedly in
the Scriptures, the term being applied variously now to an angel, now
to the soul of man, and again to nothing more than wind or breath
(Ib. f. 22, a.). The Hebrew word _Ruach_, of which spirit or wind is
a translation, has indeed a still greater variety of meanings. On a
subject so indefinite and undefined as the Holy Spirit, we cannot
wonder that Œcolampadius in one of his letters should declare he can
make nothing of what Servetus says on the matter--‘_dicit nescio
quid_--he says I know not what.’ This much, however, we do make out
as our author’s opinion, viz.: that the Holy Spirit is nowhere spoken
of in Scripture as a distinct and independent entity, but always as a
motion, an agency, an afflatus of God or the power of God,--a view in
which he certainly had Melanchthon as his predecessor: ‘_Nec aliud
spiritus sanctus est nisi viva Dei voluntas et agitatio._’ (‘Loci
Theol.’ p. 128, ed. 1521.)

Referring to the dogma of the ‘Two Natures,’ Servetus holds that this,
too, is founded in error. ‘To speak of the _Nature_ of God,’ he says,
‘is absurd; for the word nature can only apply to something created,
something born (from the Latin _natus_). But God is from Eternity. For
my own part,’ he proceeds, ‘I never take nature to signify aught but
the thing to which the term is applied--the nature of a thing is the
thing itself. To use the word nature in connection with the name of God
is, therefore, to speak of God himself. And so of the Son of God: that
which was an idea, image, or type of the Son in the mind of God, when
the Word was made flesh, became or was Christ, Reality then superseding
Idea (‘De Tr. Er.’ f. 92). There was consequently no aggregate of two
natures or two different things in Christ; he was one entity or person,
in the usual sense of the word.’ Servetus very inconsistently, as it
seems at first sight, often speaks of the man Jesus as God. But he can
do so only on the same ground as Cyrus in the Bible, Augustus Cæesar,
and other rulers, are called _Dii_ or _Divi_--gods. The Son of God,
to Servetus, in conformity with the pantheistic idea, can only be an
aspect or _Mode_ of the One God. If this be not his meaning, I know not
what it is.

We have said above that Servetus is not opposed to the idea of a
Trinity of dispositions, powers, or properties in the Deity, but only
denies such a trinity of persons or entities as is embodied in the
symbols of orthodox Christianity. It is not unimportant, therefore, to
learn what the precise idea was which he had of the threefold state
he acknowledged as extant in the essence of God. His words are these:
‘_Tres sunt admirandi Dei dispositiones in quarum qualibet divinitas
relucet, ex quo sanissime Trinitatem intelligere posses_, &c.--There
are three admirable dispositions in God, in each of which divinity
appears, and from which you may satisfactorily understand the Trinity.
For the Father is the one God, from whom proceed certain dispensations.
But these imply no distinction into separate entities. By the economy
of God--_Dei_ οἰκονομίαν--they are no more than so many forms or
aspects of Deity; for the divineness that is in the Father, the same is
in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost.’

In another passage, he asserts his belief in a Trinity still more
distinctly: ‘I concede one person of the Father, another person of the
Son, another person of the Holy Ghost: three persons in one God, and
this is the true Trinity.’ (Ib. f. 64, b.) Had we not our author’s
explanation of the way in which he understands the word _person_, this
would make his conception, in so far, not different from the orthodox
interpretation of the mystery. But his language here must be regretted,
for it is misleading, the word _person_ with Servetus not signifying,
as we have seen, any real or individual entity distinct from other
entities, but property, appearance, or outward manifestation. The
second and third persons, therefore, as understood by Servetus, are to
be thought of as dispositions or modes of God, the universal Father,
and not as individuals or persons in the usual acceptation of these
words, though of them it is that distinct personages have been made,
and spoken of as being at once God and other than God, as being three
and yet no more than one.

In sequence to this, our author goes on to say that ‘he will not make
use of the word Trinity, which is not to be found in Scripture, and
only seems to perpetuate philosophical error. It were well, indeed,’
he continues, ‘that all distinction of persons in the one God were
henceforth abandoned and rooted out of the minds of men’ (Ib. f. 64,
b.); words in which we see reason getting the better of subserviency to
the letter of Scripture, and putting an extinguisher, as it were, upon
his own as well as other vain attempts to give a rational explanation
of the mystical Neo-Platonic Logos-Doctrine of the Fourth Gospel, of
which the Trinitarian Church-Dogma is the outcome. Hampered, however,
by the idea that everything in the Bible is the word of God, Servetus
insists on trying to find, for himself and his readers, something like
an acceptable interpretation of the leading words of the Imaginative
Mystical Discourse entitled the Gospel according to John. In this he
fails, as might have been anticipated; and then, his eyes being opened
to the fact, he has nothing for it but to conclude that the orthodox
Trinitarian mystery were well discarded from the thoughts and the
beliefs of man. ‘To believe, however,’ he continues, ‘suffices, it is
said; but what folly to believe aught that cannot be understood, that
is impossible in the nature of things, and that may even be looked on
as blasphemous! Can it be that mere confusion of mind is to be assumed
as an adequate object of faith?’ (Ib. f. 33, b.)

The Trinitarian doctrine of dogmatic Christianity Servetus held to
have been a great obstacle to the spread of the religion of Christ.
Opposed to the conception of the Oneness of Deity to which the Jews
had finally attained, the religious system in which it was made so
prominent an element, could not possibly be accepted by them; neither,
on the same ground, could it be received by Islam; for Mahomet,
whilst he acknowledged Jesus as a prophet and power in the world,
born of a Virgin, too, like other distinguished individuals, in some
incomprehensible manner, never for a moment thought of him as the Son
of God; for ‘God,’ says he, ‘as he is not engendered, so neither does
he engender.’

But it is not in connexion with the subject of the Trinity alone that
Servetus shows the advances he had made on his age in the sphere of
Biblical exposition. Commenting on the text, ‘No man hath ascended up
to heaven but he who came down from heaven’ (John iii. 13), he says:
‘It is the spiritual heaven that is here to be understood, and this
exists wherever Christ is; “to ascend to heaven” means no more than
to discourse of heavenly things. “He that hath seen me hath seen the
Father,” says the text (Ib. xiv. 9), i.e., says our expositor, ‘he who
appreciates the priceless treasures of Christ’s love easily attains to
a knowledge of God the Father. But how should an invisible, intangible
Word give us to know God?’ (‘De Tr. Err.’ f. 46 _et seq._)

There are others among the accepted doctrines of the reformed
Churches which, as repudiated by Servetus and so arraying the whole
of their adherents against him and influencing his fate, require a
passing notice at our hands. Justification by Faith, for instance, he
maintains, comes not by belief in the merits or sufferings of Christ,
but by belief in his worth or dignity as Son of God. On this ground,
he says, the Lutherans do not understand what Justification really
is. It is by belief of the kind he specifies, however, that we show
our obedience to God, accept the new covenant instead of the old
law, become the children of our heavenly Father, and have the Holy
Spirit imparted to us. Such belief is, in fact, the very kernel of the
Christian dispensation, and that on which the new covenant of grace
reposes. It is the real rock on which Peter was to build the Church,
against which the gates of hell should not prevail. But as hell does
seem to have got the upper hand, he adds, we can only conclude that
neither the Church on the rock nor the true Faith is now to be found
among us. The Lutheran Justification by Faith, in a word, is mere
magical fascination and folly (f. 82-84, Conf. ‘Ep. ad Calvin.’ xiii.).

But Faith, even the most fervent, is not yet sufficient for salvation.
The Justification thereby attained is still no more than negative
in kind; to become positive, it must be associated with Love,
i.e., with Charity in the widest sense of the word; with the Love,
that is the fulfilment of the law, whereby alone do we secure for
ourselves treasures in heaven. Faith is the entrance, Charity the
sanctuary--_Fides ostium, Charitas perfectio_; and there is a fine
passage in the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ (p. 349), comparable in some
sort to Paul’s eloquent outburst on the excellence of that much misused
sentiment. When Servetus speaks of Charity, therefore, it is not the
eleemosynary idea of his day that is meant, with its mendicant friars,
its convent doles, and its engendered sloth and beggary; neither is it
the mistaken view of later days, which gives indolence and improvidence
a legal claim on industry and thrift. It is of the nobler, truer kind
that, beside good works, gives man a right to think and to speak
unfettered, and forbids him to fancy that his brother is damned for
divergency in theological opinion.

To the leading Calvinistic doctrines of Predestination and Election,
involving as they do fettered instead of free will, Servetus is still
more violently opposed than to the Lutheran Justification by Faith.
‘In your fatal, not to say fatuous, necessity of all things, or your
servile will,’ says he, at a later period in his life, ‘there is a
certain show of folly, seeing that you would have a man do that which
you must know he cannot do. You speak of free acts, yet tell us there
is no such thing as free action. And it is absurd in you to derive the
servile will you abet from this: that it is God who acts in us. Truly
God does act in us, and in such wise that we act freely. He acts in us
so that we understand and will and pursue. Even as all things consist
essentially in God, so do all acts proceed essentially from him. But
the power in us to do is one thing, the necessity of doing is another;
and though God may deal with us as the potter deals with his clay, it
does not follow that we are nothing more than clay, and have no power
of action in ourselves.’ (Ib f. 79, b, et ‘Epist. ad Calvinum,’ xxii.)

Another of the most essential doctrines underlying Pauline
Christianity, original sin, is made little of by Servetus. Although
I spent much time in reading his books, I do not appear to have
made a note of more than one or two passages in which he refers to
that subject; and when he does, it is by the way rather than more
particularly. It is on the necessity of faith in Christ, as he
understands the Sonship, that he dwells continually, making of this
the prime factor in his scheme of restored Christianity. ‘This faith
it is,’ says he, ‘that first makes us aware of our poverty, of our
misery; for if we believe that Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour
of the world, we already assume that the world is sinful, and requires
saving’ (‘Chr. Rest.’ p. 349). He does not refer particularly to
what is called ‘the Fall,’ neither does he say very pointedly how the
world came into the sorry plight in which he admits that he finds
it. The reason usually assigned must have appeared unsatisfactory
to an understanding so clear as that of Servetus, when unclouded by
fancies of his own creating; but we can hardly think he mends matters
by ascribing the origin of sin to heaven and the rebellion of the
angels, as he does, instead of to the earth and Adam’s disobedience.
Far from maintaining that the heart of man is corrupt and evil by
nature, he holds that the cause of good works and well-doing is proper
and spontaneous to the individual, who is only answerable for his own
sin, not for the sin of another. Faith in Christ, therefore, as the
naturally-begotten Son of God; Charity, in which are comprised all the
virtues, and a good life, in so far as we can make it out, form the
backbone of Servetus’s Christianity, as it is unfolded in his earliest
work on ‘Current Misconceptions of the Trinity.’[32]



CHAPTER VI.

THE AUTHORITIES OF BASLE TAKE NOTICE OF HIS BOOK. HE WRITES TWO
DIALOGUES BY WAY OF APPENDIX TO IT AND LEAVES SWITZERLAND.


Failing to make any impression on the Swiss and German Reformers whose
countenance he had been so anxious to gain, we have seen Servetus in
his letter to Œcolampadius declaring his readiness to quit Basle, to
which he must have returned, if it were only not said that he went as a
fugitive, and giving something like an engagement to his correspondent
to review and, reviewing, to modify or retract some things he had said
in his book. That some such engagement was given we conclude from the
letter of Œcolampadius to the magistrates of Basle, to which we shall
refer immediately, and from which it would seem that it was through
the forbearance, if not even the more friendly interference, of the
Reformer that our author escaped arrest and imprisonment at this time.
The seven books or chapters on erroneous ideas of the Trinity had not
fallen stillborn from the press; neither had the presence of the writer
in Basle passed unobserved. The book being seen as heretical in the
highest degree by the ministers, the presence of its writer among them
was felt as matter of grievance by both clergy and laity; so that the
Civic Council held it within the scope of their duties to take notice
of the innovator, of whom they heard so much that was discreditable,
and, by laying hands on him, either to make him pay in person then and
there, or to send him away, like an infected bale, to spread his poison
elsewhere.

Previous to acting, however, they thought it would be well to have the
opinion of their chief Pastor, Œcolampadius, on what had best be done,
and so requested him to advise with them on the subject. He replied
by a long letter in which he recapitulates the chief topics discussed
by Servetus in his treatise. ‘He, Œcolampadius, will do what he can
to place the good man’s views before them,--if indeed he may venture
to speak of the writer as a good man; for it seems that he strives at
times as much to darken the light as to enlighten the darkness, mixing
up incongruities rashly and not seldom stopping short of contradicting
himself. He opposes the orthodox doctors continually, and uses certain
words in an arbitrary and unusual sense. He denies the coeternity of
the Father and the Son, a doctrine hitherto held sacred by all the
Christian churches; and only recognises the sonship from the moment of
the engenderment, or rather of the birth of Christ. He even derides the
idea of God having a son from eternity, and asks whence the heavenly
father had his wife, or whether he were of both sexes in himself? He
will only recognise the eternity of the Son as an _Idea_ in the divine
mind: the Son was to be, but was not yet, until he appeared in the
flesh. He will by no means concede that the Word of St. John was the
Christ; yet he speaks of three persons in the one God; but it is with
glozing and an arbitrary meaning attached to the word person, and
with reasonings which, if they sometimes make for his views, are at
other times opposed to them, he neither thinking nor speaking as do
the apostles, and wresting the words of the fathers--of Tertullian and
Irenæus especially--from the interpretation commonly put upon them.

‘Along with all this and much more that is objectionable, there are
still some things in the book that are good; nevertheless as a whole
it could not but offend me. God grant that the writer acknowledge
the rashness which has led him to speak so unadvisedly as he has
done of matters which transcend our human intelligence, and that
he may live to amend what he has said. As to the book, it would be
well perhaps that it were either totally suppressed, or were read by
those only who are not likely to be hurt by objectionable writings.
The errors he has fallen into acknowledged, _he will retract_ in his
writings--_retractârit scriptis_. Perhaps he was not himself aware of
their extent, or they were not seen by him as of such importance as
they are in fact. But I leave all to your prudence and discretion,
humbly commending myself and my work to your favour.’[33]

If we are to understand the _retractârit scriptis_ of the above as a
promise from Servetus to retract in a future work what he has said
in his first, he certainly did not keep his word in the ‘Dialogi de
Trinitate,’[34] which he published in the course of the following year.
In the Preface to these dialogues, it is true, he informs the candid
reader that he retracts all he had ‘lately written in the seven books
of erroneous conceptions concerning the Trinity, not because what I
say there is false, but because the work is imperfect and written as
it were by a child for children. I pray you nevertheless to hold by so
much as you find there that may help you to understand the subjects
discussed. All that is barbarous, confused and faulty, ascribe to my
inexperience and the carelessness of the printer. I would not that any
Christian were offended by what I say; for God is used sometimes to
make known his wisdom to the world by weak vessels. Look at the thing
itself, therefore, I pray you, and if you take good heed, my stammering
will prove no hindrance to you.’

The reputed printer of Servetus’s Treatise and Two Dialogues, Jo.
Secerius, has no particular name as a typographer. But these little
works are by no means incorrectly printed; they show few typographical
errors--so few that they must almost certainly have been read for press
by the writer himself. The printer therefore is not to be blamed for
any shortcomings of the kind referred to by the author--if there be
defect it is his own, and it was the matter not the manner that had
been found fault with. But the Preface is apologetic in directions
uncalled for, and is meaningless in fact. Servetus did not think
himself a weak vessel; neither did he look on his work as the work of
a child for children; and as for any retractation of his opinions,
nothing seems to have been further from his mind. On the contrary the
mysticism of the writer of the Fourth Gospel appears to have taken a
firmer hold of our author than it had done before, and to have acted as
fresh ferment to the mystical element so abundant in his proper nature.
There may be modification of some of the views already enunciated, but
from none of them is there recession. The opposition he met with from
the leading Reformers seems even to have added point and precision to
his writing. He is more outspoken than before, and is still less chary
in the kind of language he uses towards opponents. The usual conception
of a _partitioned_ Deity he declares to be simply blasphemous; they who
seriously entertain it are fools, and so blind that were Christ to come
among them now and declare he was the Son of God, they would crucify
him anew. The Dialogues, instead of any denial and retractation,
are a reiteration and defence of almost all he has said in his first
production; although, indeed, we do observe that where he can he
occasionally approximates somewhat to more orthodox views; in that
passage very notably where he speaks of the Son being of the same
essence (homousios), and even consubstantial with the Father. (‘Dial.’
i., f. II, b.) But these are really no more than words set down under
the varying impulses of mind to which the writer gave way, and are
deprived of any meaning that might attach to them by something that has
either gone before or that comes immediately after.

The discussion of Luther’s Justification by Faith, to which it must be
presumed his attention had been particularly called by Œcolampadius as
likely to be offensive to the Lutherans, is renewed in the Dialogues;
and the writer is so far carried away by his own exaggerated estimate
of the mental condition implied in faith or belief, that he seems even
to accept _in toto_ the principle he would controvert. Though he is
elsewhere and ever so emphatic in praise of good works or charity,
we here find him not sparing in condemnation of those who hope
through their doings of any kind to achieve salvation. Monks and nuns
accordingly, who sin more especially in this direction and who by the
assumption of peculiar habits and behaviour think to make themselves
agreeable to God, are an especial abomination to him. Man, he declares,
cannot be justified by the observance of vows or rules of any kind;
for these are not written in the law of God, and in themselves are
without significance. ‘A most pestilent thing it is, that Papal decrees
and monastic vows are assumed as means of salvation. When men bind
themselves by vows to particular observances, they virtually declare
that the salvation they have through Christ is insufficient, and lay
themselves fast in those bonds of the law from which Christ came to set
them free.’

In spite of frequently recurring contradictions and something that is
objectionable on the score of taste, we nevertheless think that no one,
however little disposed to abet Servetus’s general views, could peruse
these dialogues without coming to the conclusion that the writer was
a man of a sincerely pious nature, who had read much, and reflected
deeply, feeling it a necessity of his nature to expend himself in the
mystical verbiage in which religious enthusiasm loves to robe itself as
in a sufficient and seemly garment.

The seven Books and two Dialogues on the Trinity of Servetus have been
spoken of as an attempt to hold a middle course between the Roman
Catholic and the Reformed churches; and there may be something to
warrant such a conclusion from what is said in the chapter ‘De Justitia
Regni Christi.’ But Servetus’s Trinity is of another kind from that
of either the older or the younger sister, and where not assimilable
to the Neoplatonic ideas of Philo, it followed from the Pantheistic
principles which, like deep thinkers in general, he had adopted. God to
Servetus was the ἓν καὶ πᾶν, the One and the All; and if at any time
he speaks of Christ as God, it is as a manifestation of the Divine
in human form--a _dispensation_ in his own phraseology, a _mode_ in
Spinozistic language. The Divine Unity, and its manifestation in the
world in infinite modes, may be said to be the fundamental idea in the
philosophical as well as the theological system of Servetus.[35]



CHAPTER VII.

PARIS. ASSUMPTION OF THE NAME OF VILLENEUVE OR VILLANOVANUS.
ACQUAINTANCE WITH CALVIN.


His indifferent reception by the German and Swiss Reformers must have
satisfied Servetus that there was no abiding place for him among them.
He was doubtless disappointed and not a little disconcerted by the
treatment he met with at their hands. He had come as a light-bringer,
as a fellow striver for the Truth through independent reading of the
Scriptures. Studious and learned; smitten with divine philosophy;
emancipated from the fetters of the church of Rome; tolerant and
charitable, he doubtless thought that the liberal studies in Humanity
and the Greek letters in which he knew the Reformers excelled, must as
a matter of course have imparted to them something of the liberality
and comprehensiveness he felt in himself. Face to face with their
leaders in Basle and Strasburg, however, he was undeceived; and when he
saw that his book on Trinitarian Error, instead of bringing him fame
and friends, earned him nothing but evil report and enemies, and might
even compromise his personal safety, there was nothing left for him
but to pack up and begone.

He must have quitted Switzerland immediately after writing his letter
to Œcolampadius, and in all likelihood taken up his quarters at
Hagenau, where he lived quietly for some weeks or months engaged in
writing and supervising the printing of the ‘Two Dialogues,’ with which
and the concluding anathema against all tyrants of the church, as a
parting shot, he went on his way to France, reaching Paris towards
the end of 1532. He had in fact made the German-speaking parts of
Switzerland and Elsass where he was known, too hot for him, to use
a familiar phrase; and the parts where French was the mother tongue
had not yet taken up with Calvin or another great name opposed to
the Papacy, that might have led his thoughts towards them. He was
besides but indifferently acquainted with the German language; in
circumstances, too, we may presume, that made it impossible for him to
remain in any place where he had not remunerative occupation of some
sort; and this, with the whole world of the Reformation against him, he
saw he could not now obtain in quarters where he had once hoped to find
a welcome and a footing. He had therefore no choice left but retreat;
and Paris was the place where accomplishments of the kind he possessed
were most likely to find a market.

With all his hardihood and self-confidence, Servetus was not without
so much prudence as assured him that a certain amount of caution
and reticence was required of everyone who would live at peace among
his fellow men. He doubtless imagined at one time, but had already
discovered his mistake, that among heretics, as he had been accustomed
to hear the Reformers designated, he might freely expend himself
in heresy. To the very end of his life, he seems to have had some
difficulty in divining why he had not been welcomed by them with open
arms as a brother. But he was well aware that Roman Catholic France had
yet less in common with Michael Serveto, alias Revés, author of the
Seven books and Two dialogues on Trinitarian Error, than Protestant
Switzerland and Germany.

Servetus felt that the writer of these works could not safely show
himself in Paris under either his proper family or his maternal name,
and so fell readily upon one derived from the town of his nativity,
Villanueva. Servetus seems indeed at no time to have been very
particular as to his name and designation. On his trial at Vienne he is
of Tudela in Navarre, on that at Geneva, of Villanova in Aragon; and
Tollin finds him inscribed in the academic register of Paris (1536) and
in that of Montpellier, which he must have visited some time in 1540,
as neither of Tudela nor Villanova, but of Saragossa! During all the
years he lived in France, he was never known save as Monsieur Michel
Villeneuve, or, when he wrote in Latin, as Michael Villanovanus. Under
the name of Villeneuve he now announced himself, entered as student of
mathematics and physics at one of the colleges, and at a later period
took his degrees of M.A. and M.D. in the University of Paris. Under
the same name he subsequently wrote and edited various works at Lyons;
and it was as M. Villeneuve that he finally became known in the town
of Vienne in Dauphiny, where he lived for twelve years engaged in the
practice of medicine, and on terms of intimacy with the Archbishop and
all the notabilities of the place, both lay and clerical.

As a man of scholarly acquirements Servetus in the first instance
probably found employment, and the means of living with some of the
typographers of Paris, as reader and corrector of the press, a line of
life which he certainly followed for the next three or four years, in
the course of which we find notices of him first at Orleans, then at
Avignon, and finally at Lyons, one of the chief centres of the printing
and publishing business that had been called into such vigorous life
by the revival of learning, the discovery of the art of printing with
moveable types, and finally and very essentially by the Reformation.

It was during his first residence of about two years at Paris,
1532-1534, that he made the acquaintance of the man who became in
the end his most implacable enemy, and the immediate cause of his
untimely and cruel death. This was no other than the celebrated John
Calvin, then a young man and about the same age as himself. Partially
emancipated from the fetters of the faith in which he had been born
and bred, but not less firmly bound in others of his own fashioning,
Calvin had already attracted the notice of his friends and the public
by his natural abilities and his scholarly acquirements, and been
pointed out as likely to influence the progress of the Reformation in
his native France. Hearing of Calvin’s presence in Paris, Servetus as
Villeneuve must have sought him out, and, still full of the familiar
theological subject, have made an attempt upon him as he had already
done upon Œcolampadius and the others, for countenance and approval
in the discovery he had made of what he believed to be the true
saving Christian faith. But with no better success we must conclude;
for though the two young men met oftener than once in private, it
was without coming to any agreement. They had, therefore, actually
resolved on a public discussion, with a view to the voidance of their
theological differences.

This, however, never came to pass. Such an exhibition, indeed, could
not have taken place at the time without danger to both. Calvin, in
his young zeal, and for what he held to be the honour of God, would
have faced the danger, but the individual known to his Parisian friends
and Calvin as Michel Villeneuve must have seen on afterthought that he
could make no public appearance as defender of the _outré_ opinions he
entertained, without betraying the Michael Serveto of the De Trinitatis
Erroribus and Dialogues who lay hidden behind the adopted name; and
this he knew would be not only to disconcert all his present plans,
but assuredly to compromise his life. Calvin, we must presume, had not
at this time heard of Servetus’s books; very certainly he had not read
them; for one so acute and well-informed on theological matters as he,
would not have been more than a few minutes face to face with their
author without detecting him. But we find no hint in Calvin’s writings
that he then surmised who Villeneuve, his Parisian acquaintance, really
was, and conclude that he lived for a dozen years or more without
suspecting that the individual he discovered as Michael Serveto of the
Book on Trinitarian Error in his correspondent of Vienne, of the year
1546, was the same Villeneuve he had known in Paris in 1534.

Calvin then would have faced the danger of the public discussion,
though persecution was hot at the time against heresy, and he was not
unsuspected on this score. The danger to him, however, would have been
slight in comparison with that which Servetus must have incurred.
Calvin would not have stood forth on this occasion as the defender of
any heresy, but of the very fundamentals of the Christian faith as
embodied in its Creeds; to some of the most essential propositions in
which Servetus, on the contrary, must have shown himself diametrically
opposed. Servetus therefore, in this instance at least, saw perforce
that discretion was the better part of valour, and wisely stayed away.
He was in truth far too deeply compromised to venture on an appearance;
for if discovered to be Michael Serveto, nothing could have saved him
from the heretic’s death. He had nothing for it therefore but to
forfeit his engagement and lay himself open to Calvin’s reproachful
‘_vous avez fuy la luite_’--you fled the encounter--of a later and to
him more momentous epoch in their common lives.



CHAPTER VIII.

LYONS. ENGAGEMENT AS READER FOR THE PRESS WITH THE TRECHSELS. EDITS THE
GEOGRAPHY OF PTOLEMY.


Theology, however, after which we see Servetus still hankering--_hæret
lateri letalis arundo!_--and even the study of the mathematics on
which he was now engaged, had to be abandoned for present means of
subsistence; and as Lyons seemed even a better field for the scholar
than Paris, to Lyons, after a short stay at Avignon and Orleans, he
betook himself. There he appears immediately to have found employment
as reader and corrector of the press in the house of the distinguished
typographers, the Brothers Trechsel; and if the Age have its character
from the aggregate of its science and culture, and the Individual his
bent from his more immediate surroundings, we cannot but think of
Servetus’s connection with these light-spreaders as another among the
highly influential events in his life.

Books in the early days of printing were much more generally written in
Latin than in the vernacular, and ever more and more with references to
Greek, lately brought greatly into vogue by Erasmus and the Reformers.
The reader for press in the best establishments was therefore, and
of necessity, a scholar and man of letters; and the opportunities
for improvement now put in the way of one like Servetus, even whilst
pursuing the mechanical part of his duties, have only to be hinted at
to be appreciated. The reading room of the distinguished typographers
of those days was, indeed in some sort, a continuation of school and
college to the competent corrector of the press.

Servetus’s liberal elementary education, therefore, stood him in good
stead at this time; for the Trechsels ere long, instead of holding
him to the subordinate though still important duties of reader and
corrector, engaged him further as editor of various costly works that
issued from their press. Among the number of these a handsome edition
of the Geography of Ptolemy[36] deserves particular mention, both as
evincing the good repute in which he stood when we find him entrusted
with such a work, and also as showing the extent of his reading and
general knowledge--strangely enough, also, as influencing in some
remote degree the fate that finally befel him.

Earlier editions of the Ptolemy were faulty in several ways, and
disfigured in different degrees by errors due, in part at least, to
indifferent editing. These, where literal, Villanovanus corrected in
the new issue; and where the sense was obscure through faulty wording,
he brought light by the better readings he supplied, having formed his
text, as he says, by collating all the editions he could lay his hands
on, and where these gave him no aid, by suggestions of his own.

In his address to the reader, our editor, whom we shall often speak of
under his adopted name of Villanovanus, gives a short account of his
author, Claudius Ptolemæus, his birth-place, the Roman emperors under
whom he flourished, ‘his knowledge of philosophy and the mathematics,
and the more than Herculean glory he achieved by his successful but
peaceful invasion of so many lands. Nor indeed was this all, for he may
be said to have bound earth to heaven by assimilating the measurements
of the one to those of the other; and, coming after Strabo, Pliny, and
Pomponius Mela, he as far surpassed them, as they excelled all the
geographers who had gone before them.’

But Villanovanus did much more than edit and amend the text of Ptolemy.
‘We,’ he says, ‘have added scholia to the text, whereby the book is
made more interesting and more complete. Using our familiarity with
the historical, poetical, and miscellaneous writings of the Greeks and
Romans, in so far as they bear on our subject, we have given the names
by which the countries, mountains, rivers, and cities were known to
them; and, to aid the tyro, have further translated the ancient titles
of places into those by which they are now designated--into French
for France, Italian for Italy, German for Germany, &c., all of which
countries we have seen, besides having a knowledge of their languages.’
Extending his vision beyond the mere physical features of the lands
he is passing under review, he might have added that he also gives
short, but graphic accounts of their inhabitants, the prominent traits
of their character, their manners, customs, &c., which are extremely
interesting. But Michael Villanovanus is not one of those who hide
themselves behind their good works, and so is he now careful to inform
his readers of the pains he has taken in their behalf. By them, he
says, he hopes his vigils will be properly appreciated, ‘for day and
night have I laboured assiduously at my task--_dies noctesque jugiter
laboravi_.’ He concludes his preliminary address in these words: ‘No
one, I imagine, will under-estimate the labour, though pleasant in
itself, that is implied in the collation of our text with that of other
earlier editions, unless it be some Zoilus of the contracted brow, who
cannot without envy look on the serious labours of others. But thou,
candid reader, whoever thou art, we trust wilt be well disposed, kindly
to receive and to approve our work. Farewell!’

Villanovanus’s edition of the Ptolemy is certainly an advance on that
of Bilibald Pirckheimer, which formed its groundwork; but it is not so
free from literal errors as the laudatory address of the editor might
lead us to expect. And it would have been better had he said that he
had enlarged and improved the short and meagre scholia of his editorial
predecessor than spoken as if he had supplied them wholly of himself.
Villanovanus’s improved comments, however, impress us very favourably
with a sense of the pains he must have bestowed on the work, and arouse
our respect for the extent and variety of the reading he had undertaken
to obtain the information he brings to bear on the physical aspects
and natural productions of the several countries described, as well
as of the customs, manners, and moral qualities of their inhabitants.
Now it was that the smattering of geographic and historic lore he
may have picked up as a student at Saragossa and elsewhere stood him
in good stead, enabling him, as it did, to advance and profit by
the ample stores of information of the kind which the city of Lyons
placed within his reach. Living immediately after the age of the great
navigators--Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Magellan, the Vespucii, and the
rest--and in the very days when the works of Peter Martyr of Anghiera,
Simon Grynæus, Sebastian Munster, and others enabled the educated to
acquire something like a true knowledge of the world they lived in, the
new edition of Ptolemy by Michael Villanovanus was a happy thought, and
contributed, we need not doubt, no less to his own development than
to the spread of useful and humanising information. Engaged on the
Ptolemy, the super-subtleties of scholasticism and theology seem to
have vanished before the light of the more positive kind of knowledge
that now broke around him.

When we turn to the writings of the able individuals mentioned above,
we have no difficulty in discovering whence Servetus had most,
perhaps all, of his geographical and astronomical knowledge. The Opus
Epistolarum of Angleria, in particular, seems to have been the mine
from whence he made himself rich in mental wealth of many kinds. We
find him imitating, and even improving upon, the lines which head
Angleria’s _De Rebus Oceanicis_ and Grynæus’s _Typi Cosmographici_,
as the reader may see by comparing the verse below[37] with the one
he will find further on, which is prefixed to the 2nd edition of the
Ptolemy.

Turning to the Scholia of Villanovanus, we find it not a little
interesting in these days to have a glimpse of ourselves in our sires,
and of our neighbours in theirs, from the pen of a man of genius
hard upon three centuries and a half ago; and as Michael Servetus is
really only known to us through his works and the judicial trials he
underwent, we make no apology for referring briefly to his additions to
the bald and matter-of-fact text of the original Ptolemy.

The map of the first country in the series of fifty by which the
work is illustrated is that of Great Britain. The people of SCOTLAND,
Villanovanus informs his reader, are hot-tempered, prone to revenge,
and fierce in their anger; but valiant in war and patient beyond belief
of cold, hunger, and fatigue. They are handsome in person, and their
clothing and language are the same as those of the Irish, their tunics
being dyed yellow, their legs bare, and their feet protected by sandals
of undressed hide with the hair on. They live mainly on fish and flesh;
they have numerous flocks, mostly of sheep, for the country is free
from wolves; and they have milk and cheese in abundance. Their arms
are bows and arrows and broad swords--_lati gladii_. Instead of wood,
they have coal for fuel. Unlike the people of the last few generations,
he says the Scotch are not a particularly religious people. He ‘who
never feared the face of man,’ as the Earl of Morton said of Knox,
when looking down on his dead body, had not yet made himself felt in
the land of his birth; and the School-house had not yet risen as a
necessary complement to the Kirk and the Manse, to make the people of
Scotland what they have become since his day--among the very foremost
of the sons of men.

ENGLAND, Villanovanus observes, is wonderfully well peopled, and
the inhabitants are long-lived. Tall in stature, they are fair in
complexion, and have blue eyes. They are brave in war, and admirable
bowmen. He has the familiar tale of the English children seen as
captives at Rome by the blessed Gregory, who said they were called
Angli, indeed; but in form and feature showed like Angeli. He must, as
it seems, have given some little attention to the English language, if
he did not study it more particularly. He says it is so difficult to
learn and to pronounce, because the people who speak it are a compound
of so many different races.

Of IRELAND and the Irish our editor does not speak so favourably. The
country, he observes, is generally marshy, so that, unless the summers
are dry, the cattle are apt to get lost in the bogs. It is free from
noxious creatures of every kind, there being no reptiles, such as
snakes, toads, and frogs, and no insects, such as spiders and bees--a
state of things which, if it ever obtained, certainly does so no
longer. The climate is very temperate, and the soil of great fertility;
but the people are rude, inhospitable, barbarous, and cruel, more
given to hunting and idle play than to industry. Only three days’ sail
from Spain, the Irish, he says, have many customs in common with the
Spaniards.

Of SPAIN, the account given is particularly full, but by no
means complimentary, and its people are contrasted--not to their
advantage--with their neighbours the French. The extreme dryness of
the climate is noticed, which tends to make the country less fertile
than France. Irrigation, however, being practised on an extensive
scale in many parts, tends to make up for the infrequency of rain,
the conduits being often carried to great distances from the rivers.
His description of the people is far from laudatory. ‘The Spaniard,’
he says, ‘is of a restless disposition, apt enough of understanding,
but learning imperfectly or amiss, so that you shall find a learned
Spaniard almost anywhere sooner than in Spain. Half-informed, he thinks
himself brimful of information, and always pretends to more knowledge
than he has in fact. He is much given to vast projects, never realised;
and in conversation he delights in subtleties and sophistry. Teachers
commonly prefer to speak Spanish rather than Latin in the schools and
colleges of the country; but the people in general have little taste
for letters, and produce few books themselves, mostly procuring those
they want from France.’ The Spanish language, indeed, he speaks of as
defective in many respects, and does not fail to remark on the number
of Moorish words incorporated with it. The people, he says, ‘have many
barbarous notions and usages,’ derived by implication from their old
Moorish conquerors and fellow-denizens. ‘The women have a custom that
would be held barbarous in France, of piercing their ears and hanging
gold rings in them, often set with precious stones. They besmirch their
faces, too, with minium and ceruse--red and white lead--and walk about
on clogs a foot or a foot and a half high, so that they seem to walk
above rather than on the earth. The people are extremely temperate, and
the women never drink wine. Spaniards, he concludes, are notably the
most superstitious people in the world in their religious notions; but
they are brave in the field, of signal endurance under privation and
difficulty, and by their voyages of discovery have spread their name
over the face of the globe.’

Of FRANCE, M. Villeneuve has less to say than of Spain; but what
he tells us of the royal touch for the cure of scrofula is still
interesting in the annals of superstition. ‘I have myself seen the king
touching many labouring under this disease, but I did not see that they
were cured.’

Of GERMANY, and he uses the title in a very comprehensive sense--he
speaks at considerable length. Smarting under the rebuff he had
received at the hands of the Swiss and German Reformers, he is nowise
disposed to find the Teutons and their congeners or neighbours however
designated, an interesting people, or their territories as in any
way attractive. Referring to Tacitus’s account of Germany proper, as
overgrown by vast forests, and defaced by frightful swamps, its climate
he says is at once as insufferably hot in summer as it is bitterly
cold in winter. ‘Hungary,’ he observes, ‘is commonly said to produce
oxen, Bavaria swine, Franconia onions, turnips and liquorice, Swabia
harlots, Bohemia heretics, Switzerland butchers, Westphalia cheats,
and the whole country gluttons and drunkards. The Germans, however,
are a religious people; not easily turned from opinions they have once
espoused and not readily persuaded to concord in matters of schism,
everyone valiantly and obstinately defending the heresy he has himself
adopted;’ words in which we may presume Villanovanus sought to give
ease to the pent-up displeasure he felt against his repudiators, the
Reformers of Basle and Strasburg.

Of ITALY and its people he has little to say; and that not good. The
natives readily enough pretend to forgive injuries, but, occasion
offering, none revenge themselves so savagely. They make use in their
everyday talk of the most horrid oaths and imprecations. Holding all
the rest of the world in contempt and calling them barbarians, they
themselves have nevertheless been alternately the prey of France, of
Spain, and of Germany.

In his survey of BABYLONIA, he refers to a certain abominable custom
observed by young marriageable women, which is particularly mentioned
by Herodotus and also by the writers of the Bible, when read by
unsealed eyes, as obtaining among the Jews, and of the money, so
objectionably earned in our estimation, being devoted to the service of
the Temple.

But the most interesting to us perhaps of all the commentaries attached
to the Ptolemy, inasmuch as it influenced the fate of Servetus on
his trial at Geneva, is the one appended to the map of PALESTINE or
the Holy Land. Demurring to much that is said in praise of JUDÆA in
the Bible and by Josephus, as a country specially blessed in various
ways, as being well-watered, fertile, &c., the commentator says, that
in so far as climate is concerned, it is a temperate land, obnoxious
to the extremes neither of heat nor of cold; a condition of things
that may have led the Israelites or Hebrews to imagine that it must
be the land that was promised to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob; a land metaphorically said to be flowing with milk and
honey. ‘The Israelites,’ it is said in continuation, ‘lived at length
under laws received from Moses, although they had gone on piously and
prosperously enough through countless ages, before his day, without
any written law, having had regard to the oracles of divine or natural
truth alone, gifted as they were with aptitude and greatness of mind.
Moses, however, that distinguished theologian, thinking that no state
could exist without a written code of law and equity, gave them one
reduced to ten principal heads, engraved on two tables of stone; with
the addition of a great number of minor commandments for the regulation
of their lives and dealings with one another. But any more particular
notice of these, they being so numerous--great birds not sitting in
little nests--must here be passed by. Know, however, most worthy
reader, that it is mere boasting and untruth when so much of excellence
is ascribed to this land; the experience of merchants and others,
travellers who have visited it, proving it to be inhospitable, barren,
and altogether without amenity. Wherefore you may say that the land
was _promised_, indeed, but is of _little promise_ when spoken of in
everyday terms.’

The Ptolemy of Villanovanus was well received, and though costly, a
second edition was by and by required. We find it much commended in
subsequent reprints by their publishers; and no wonder, for the Ptolemy
is really a sumptuous book, upon which a large sum of money must have
been spent, the typography being excellent and the text profusely
ornamented with woodcuts on the sides of the pages as well as at the
heads and tails of the chapters.[38]



CHAPTER IX.

LYONS. DOCTOR SYMPHORIEN CHAMPIER.


It was whilst engaged in the revision of such works as the Ptolemy and
others on the natural sciences, anatomy, medicine, pharmacy, &c., in
the service of the Trechsels, that Servetus may be said to have entered
on the second, if it were not rather the third, stage of his mental
development. The typographer’s reading-room had in truth proved the
means of his continued education; each new volume he read and corrected
being found a teacher not less influential than the Professor from his
chair. The Convent school, Toulouse, and his engagement with Quintana
had borne fruit of the kind we discover in the book on Trinitarian
error; it was the reading-room of the printers of Lyons that brought
him back from the empyrean of metaphysics to the earth, and put him
in the way of becoming the geographer, astrologian, biblical critic,
physiologist and physician we are made familiar with in his subsequent
life and writings.

Among the learned works that flowed in a sort of ceaseless stream from
the presses of the Trechsels during Servetus’s tenure of his office
as reader with them, were several from the fertile pen of Doctor
Symphorien Champier, or, when he latinised his name, Campeggius, a
man of large and liberal culture, of a truly noble nature, an admirer
of learning and a patron of the learned; possessed moreover of that
restless vanity which made him feel it as much a matter of necessity
to live in the eye of the world as to breathe; the effect of which
was that he exerted the widest and most beneficent influence among
his fellow men. Indefatigable in his proper calling, there was yet
nothing which interested the citizens of Lyons that did not interest
him. Fearless in bringing help on the battle-field, to which he
accompanied his chief the Duke of Lorraine, he was no less ready to
brave pestilence in the city, and was as often to be seen in the hovels
of the poor as in the palaces of the great and wealthy--_inopibus et
infortunatis æque indiscriminatimque succurris opitularisve_, says his
biographer--a true physician, a great and good man.[39]

Among Champier’s numerous works published about this time, we note
the PENTAPHARMACUM GALLICUM (Lyons, 1534), which Servetus we believe
read and corrected for press, the gist of the work being to show that
each country produces the medicines best adapted to cure the diseases
of its inhabitants, and that to them exotics are for the most part
not only useless, but injurious; an assumption in which he differs
notably from present experience and the great writer, his countryman,
who came after him, and said that ‘God had inflicted fever on Europe,
but put its remedy in America.’ Correcting the proofs of Champier’s
five-fold French Pharmacopœia, Servetus must have introduced himself
to, or become acquainted with, the author; and if we may credit Pastor
Henry Tollin, who will have everyone as truly interested in Servetus as
himself, Champier was so much taken by the accomplishments of the poor
scholar as even to make a home for him in Lyons. Be this as it may,
certain it seems that contact with Champier was that which led Servetus
to study medicine, of which he had not thought until now, for it was a
science much looked down on by Spaniards in general, its practice being
mostly in the hands of Jews and Moors, whom to contemn, where not to
oppress, was a religion with all who boasted of their blue blood.

Another of Champier’s books printed by the Trechsels, which we need not
doubt Servetus had also read and put to use, was the ‘Hortus Gallicus’
(Lyons 1533). But more influential on him still, though printed in
another establishment (that of Seb. Gryphius) during the time he lived
in Lyons, was the great Lyonnese Doctor’s CRIBRATIO MEDICAMENTORUM,
with the MEDULLA PHILOSOPHLE--the Marrow of Philosophy--appended.
In his chapter on the Vital, Animal, and Natural Spirits (p. 137),
Champier speaks of ‘spirit as a subtle, aerial, translucid substance
produced of the finest part of the blood, and carried by it from the
heart, as principal vital organ, to all parts of the body. Spoken of
as three,’ he continues, ‘there are in truth but two kinds of spirit,
the vital and the animal.’ The sameness of this to what we shall find
in the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ will be obvious to all. It strikes us
in fact that Villanovanus’s first medical production--the Treatise on
Syrups--was wholly inspired by this Marrow of Philosophy of Champier,
in which we discover much upon digestion and concoction, the maturation
and evacuation of the humours, etc., precisely as in the treatise ‘De
Syrupis.’

Nor did Champier’s influence on our scholar end here. One of the
Doctor’s treatises is entitled, ‘Prognosticon perpetuum Astrologorum,
Medicorum et Prophetarum--The guide of the Astrologer, Physician
and Prophet in their prognostications or forecasts.’ Like so many
in his age, Champier was a devoted astrologer; and it was he we may
conclude who made Servetus one too. Champier having been attacked on
the score of his astrology by Leonhard Fuchs, Professor of Medicine
in Heidelberg,[40] Michael Villanovanus, as grateful pupil, took up
the pen in defence of his master, and replied by a pamphlet entitled,
‘Defence of Symphorien Champier, addressed to Leonhard Fuchs,[41] and
an Apologetic Dissertation on Astrology.’[42] Villanovanus, it seems,
would not neglect what he must have thought a favourable opportunity
of showing himself to the world in company with so distinguished an
individual as the great Physician of Lyons, to whom he owns himself
much indebted--_cui multum debeo_, and ventilating a subject that
interested him, like so many of his age, only in a less degree than
theology itself.



CHAPTER X.

RETURN TO PARIS. STUDIES THERE. JO. WINTER OF ANDERNACH; ANDREA
VESALIUS. DEGREES OF M.A. AND M.D. LECTURES ON GEOGRAPHY AND ASTROLOGY.


Villeneuve, we must presume, had reached Lyons poor enough in pocket if
rich in lore; but so diligently had he laboured and so liberally had he
been paid by the princely publishers of the day, that within two years
he found himself in funds sufficient to authorise a return to Paris
with a view to the study of Medicine, which he had now resolved to
make his profession for life. The rebuff he had had from Œcolampadius,
Bucer, and the rest, had probably sickened him for a while with
theology and scholasticism, from which, however, we may presume he had
only been diverted by his failure to make an immediate impression on
the Reformers and the necessity of providing for his daily wants. But
‘the fresh fields and pastures new’ brought into sight by the study
of Ptolemy, and the healthy influence of Champier, the physician and
naturalist, gave another turn to his mind, and with the money he had
earned in his purse, but still comporting himself as the poor scholar,
he entered first the College of Calvi, and then that of the Lombards.
To these as a subject of the Holy Roman Empire he probably had ready
access, and in their quiet shades devoted himself to the new course of
study he had determined to pursue.

His larger experience and intercourse with Champier must have
shown Servetus that medicine was a more assured means of earning a
subsistence than theology, and opened up a far wider field to his
ambition than continued service with the typographers. Without utterly
neglecting older studies, therefore, he now gave his chief attention to
the great and useful art and science of medicine; and we shall find as
we proceed that the lessons of such teachers as Joannes Guinterus (Jo.
Winter of Andernach), Jacobus Sylvius (J. du Bois), Joannes Fernelius,
and others of name and fame in their day, found congenial soil in the
receptive mind of the student.

Servetus, indeed, would seem immediately to have made his presence
felt in the medical school of Paris; he was at once more than a
listener to the prelections of its professors. Associated with no less
distinguished an individual than Andrea Vesalius, he was one of Winter
of Andernach’s two prosectors, and prepared the subject for each day’s
demonstration.

And let not the conjunction of talent that meets us here be overlooked.
Vesalius, repudiating the authority of Galen, became the restorer--the
_Creator_ of Modern Anatomy. Servetus, breaking with scholasticism
in theology, and freeing himself from the shackles of Greeks and
Arabians in practical medicine, inaugurated Rational Physiology when
he proclaimed the course of the blood from the right to the left
side of the heart through the lungs. Working together as friends and
fellow students for the Professor of Anatomy, Vesalius and Servetus,
through diversity of mental constitution, yet saw things diversely.
Vesalius, the observer, abiding by the _concrete_, described with rare
felicity and truthfulness what he witnessed; Servetus, gifted with
genius, aspiring to the _ideal_ and inferring consequences, deduced the
pulmonary circulation from the structure of the heart and lungs!

Nor were the two men associates only in their studies; they were
fellows also in the untoward fate that befel them both in after life;
for both may be said to have fallen victims to their zeal. Somewhat
precipitate, we may presume, in his eagerness for information, the
heart of a young nobleman who had died under his care and whose body
Vesalius was inspecting, was either seen to palpitate, or was thought
to have palpitated, when touched by the knife of the anatomist.
Accused forthwith of murder, it was only by the interference of Philip
II. of Spain, whose physician Vesalius was, that a formal trial for
manslaughter was commuted for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with confession
and absolution at the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre. The penance was
undergone, but the pilgrim, homeward bound, suffered shipwreck on the
island of Crete, and perished miserably there. Servetus again, as we
shall see, in his eagerness to proclaim what he believed to be the
truth, and given no chance for his life, had to abide the still more
cruel death of the faggot and stake.

Joannes Guinterus, it is interesting to know, bears honourable
testimony to the merits of his two assistants. In the preface to
his ‘Anatomical Institutions’ he informs us that ‘he had been most
effectually aided in the preparation of the work, first by Andrea
Vesalius, a young man, by Hercules! singularly proficient in anatomy;
and after him by Michael Villanovanus, distinguished by his literary
acquirements of every kind, and scarcely second to any in his knowledge
of Galenical doctrine. Under the supervision and with the aid of these
two,’ he continues, ‘I have myself examined in the Subject and have
shown to the students the whole of the muscles, veins, arteries, and
nerves, both of the extremities and internal parts of the body.’[43]
From this we learn whence Servetus had the anatomical knowledge that
enabled him as inductive reasoner--true forerunner here of our own
immortal Harvey--to proclaim the pulmonary circulation.

The practice of dissecting the human subject had therefore, by this
time, extended to France--the bodies of one or more malefactors being
now publicly anatomised in the course of each winter session.[44] Had
we no other evidence of the genius with which Michael Servetus was
endowed, beyond the use he made of what he saw in these anatomical
demonstrations, we should still feel entitled to speak of him as the
most far-sighted physiologist of his age; for he alone of all his
contemporaries, though fettered by the prevalent metaphysical theories
of life, the soul and the spirits, from which we ourselves have not
yet escaped, not only divined, but positively proclaimed the passage
of the blood, by way of the lungs, from the right to the left side of
the heart, and thence--but stopping short of the whole truth, first
proclaimed by Harvey--from the left ventricle of the heart to the body
at large. But the book in which his important Induction is contained,
though printed in his lifetime, _was never published_. Seen by none
but a few theologians, who took no note of its physiological contents,
it remained unknown to the world for nearly a century and a half,
after its author had fallen a victim to the hate of Calvin and the
intolerance of his age.

With the stimulus of necessity upon him, for he was poor, and the
excitement of vanity, with which he was largely endowed, as he could
not live on the learning he imbibed from his teachers, Servetus
by-and-by appeared before the world as a teacher in his turn. Having
by diligence and superior natural capacity, in a singularly short space
of time, achieved the degrees of M.A. and M.D., which were required
before he could present himself either as Professor or Physician within
the domain of the University of Paris, Servetus now came forward as a
Lecturer on the Geography of Ptolemy and the science of Astrology--a
term which then included the true doctrine of the heavenly bodies as
well as the false doctrine of their presumed influence on the life
of man and the current of events in the world. In this bold step we
have another glimpse of the self-reliant, and it may be, somewhat
presumptuous, character of the man; for even as the emancipated novice
of the monk’s school and Saragossan professors, when little more than
of age, showed himself as Theologian in the ‘De Erroribus Trinitatis,’
so did the newly becapped Magister Artium now come forward as Lecturer
on Geography and Astrology, and the scarce fledged doctor in physic, as
a teacher of his fellows and the world at large, in the art and mystery
of treating Disease.

The course of Lectures on Geography and Astrology was a happy
thought, and proved highly successful. It was delivered to a large
and distinguished audience, and besides supplying the professor with
funds for all his wants, became a means of introducing him to friends,
influential for good on his future life. Amongst the number of his
auditors there was a young ecclesiastic, a scholar and man of talent,
Pierre Paumier, who after employment in various offices of trust by
his king, Francis the First, was transferred to a position of no less
dignity and emolument than that of Archbishop of Vienne in Dauphiny.

Under the auspices of the Archbishop, and as we believe on his
invitation, it was that Servetus found a final resting place by his
side. Fresh from editing Ptolemy, with the old stores of classic lore
he had at command, and of anecdote and general information he had
amassed in reading up for his editorial duties, aided by the natural
fluency with which we venture to credit him, it is easy to imagine
how interesting these Lectures must have been in days when the world
was eager for information on the discoveries of the great voyagers
and travellers of the age, and when books were still both scarce and
costly, and little read by the many.

But Servetus was a Physician as well as Geographer and Astrologer, and
not the man to hide any light he had under a bushel. He must appear
in connection with his profession, as well as in the accessory field
of general knowledge, by writing a book upon some properly medical
subject, a business which he set about forthwith under the immediate
inspiration of all he had learned from Dr. Champier of Lyons, as well
as his professors of Paris.



CHAPTER XI.

THE TREATISE ON SYRUPS AND THEIR USE IN MEDICINE.[45]


The medical world in the early part of the sixteenth century was
divided into two great hostile camps, respectively designated
Galenists, or followers of the Greeks, and Averrhoists, or disciples of
the Arabians; the former swearing by Hippocrates and Galen, the latter
by Averrhoes and Avicenna. Servetus’s initiator into matters medical,
Champier, was a fervent admirer of the Greeks; and his pupil, led by
his classical training as well as his master’s example, naturally
attached himself to the same school. Here, nevertheless, as ever, he
showed the independence of his nature by having open eyes for any truth
the Arabian writers might present; so that we find nothing of servility
or one-sidedness in what he has to say.

The treatise in which Villanovanus came before the public in his
new capacity of physician was on the practical use of the class of
medicines known in those days by the title of Syrups--sweetened
decoctions or infusions of different kinds, still in vogue among the
French under the name of Tisanes. These syrups appear to have been one
of the bones of contention between the two parties, though neither was
perfectly agreed in itself as to the indications for their use or of
the principles on which they were to be prescribed. This question does
not interest us here, and so we leave it; but we turn to the work of
Michael Villanovanus for intimations in its style of the intellectual
and moral nature of its author.

In his address to the reader he says, ‘I should not have proposed, most
learned reader, to take on my weak shoulders this weighty and so much
disputed province of the healing art, had I not felt me forced, against
my will as it were, to lend my aid in furthering medical studies by a
fair defence of Galenical doctrine, and more especially still by my
love of truth.... I think it will be found that I have conciliated
Galen so far with my own views as to dispel any doubts I may have
had of a favourable award, if I have only an equitable judge in my
reader. Of this, at all events, I feel well assured that no studious
person who carefully weighs what is here set forth will repent him of
his reading.’ This is not amiss from a Doctor of a year’s standing!
But it is in his Preface to the work that Michael Villanovanus, as we
apprehend him, comes still more particularly before us. Aware, as he
says, of the fate that so often befals the meddler in a quarrel not
his own, and displaying a commendable amount of caution, not without a
spice of mock modesty, our author is here considerate enough to tell us
that ‘he does not intend to offer himself as censor in the controversy,
between the Galenists and Averrhoists, and by finding something to
object to in the conclusions of each, to have them both fall foul of
him as an enemy;’ after which he proceeds, characteristically still,
to say, ‘but that I may not withhold from others that which I possess
myself and gratefully acknowledge, which may be of use to my fellow
men, I throw aside fear and proclaim what I believe to be the truth.’

The ‘Syruporum Universa Ratio,’ or general Rationale of Syrups, is in
truth a very learned little book, extremely well written; much of it,
as becomes the young practitioner, having reference to the writings of
predecessors of the highest authority in medical science. Hippocrates
and Galen, above all others, are freely quoted, and their views
discussed, for Servetus was ‘nothing if not critical,’ and a variorum
reading or two to show his scholarship is proposed. But he also refers
to Avicenna, not thinking it amiss to learn of the enemy, and to Paul
of Aegina, Monardus and others, by which he proclaims the extent of his
reading, and his readiness to imbibe knowledge at every source.

I looked with interest for some physiological hint or statement in
this book, on Syrups or Diet drinks, that might have heralded the
brilliant exposition contained in the latest product of his genius--the
Christianismi Restitutio or Restoration of Christianity--concerning the
way in which the blood from the right reaches the left ventricle of the
heart through the lungs, but in vain. We must presume nevertheless that
he was already possessed of the anatomical facts on which his later
induction is founded. The only physiological reference I discovered
in the book on Syrups was to the Mesentery as giving origin to the
veins--a step in advance of his predecessors, with whom the liver was
the source as it was also the laboratory of the blood, as the veins
were the channels for its distribution to the body.

It is not uninteresting, however, to observe the same tendency towards
unity or oneness here, in the domain of positive knowledge, which we
discover pervading Servetus’s other works that lose themselves in the
realm of metaphysical abstraction. He will not acknowledge two or any
greater number of concoctions or digestions, whether in health or
disease, such as were generally admitted in his day. The processes that
take place in disease he declares to be of the same nature, though they
are perverted, as those that occur in the healthy body. Diseases are
therefore nothing more than perversions of natural functions, not new
entities introduced into the body; a conclusion which, on physiological
grounds, he sums up in these words: ‘The rationale in the maturation of
disease and in the digestion of the food is one and the same.’[46]



CHAPTER XII.

THE MEDICAL FACULTY OF PARIS SUE VILLANOVANUS FOR LECTURING ON JUDICIAL
ASTROLOGY.


Servetus’s fate on starting in life was opposition; and how should it
have been otherwise?--he found himself through superior endowment and
higher culture antagonistic to almost all he saw around him in the
world. We have already had him met as a trespasser on their domain
by the Reformers of Basle and Strasburg, and we have now to find him
looked on as an intruder by the Medical Faculty of Paris. The lecturer
on Geography and Astrology had attracted a large amount of public
attention, and the author of the book on Syrups began to get into
vogue as a practitioner of medicine. The book had in fact been as well
received as the lectures; it was extensively read, much commended at
the time, and reprinted oftener than once in after years. No wonder,
therefore, that Michel Villeneuve M.D. had now as many eyes upon him in
Paris as Michael Servetus had had in other days in Switzerland. Before
he could well look about him, the whole faculty of Physicians and the
heads of the University of Paris were in array against him.

It seems that he had gone out of his way in his lectures to say
something disrespectful of the doctors, his contemporaries, accusing
them of ignorance of many things necessary to the successful practice
of their profession, particularly of Astronomy, or more properly
Astrology, a science in which Villeneuve plumed himself as being a
master. The doctors naturally enough complained of such impropriety,
and had him cited before their council. There he was told that
something more of respectful bearing was due from him to men who
had been his masters; and above all that he was transgressing the
boundaries of true science and common sense in making so much of
Astrology. The Dean of the Faculty is even said to have had him several
times privately before him, and warned him of the difficulties he
would inevitably fall into, if he continued casting nativities and
prescribing for the ailments of his patients from the aspects of
the stars; for this, it appears, was the principal element in his
medical practice. Servetus, unhappily for himself, was not one of
those who could take even friendly advice in good part. As credulous
as he was sceptical, and believing implicitly in himself and in
stellar influences, he not only made no submission, but said that his
ill-wishers should rue their opposition.

The doctors on their part not only gave no heed to his threats, but
publicly denounced him from their chairs as an impostor and wind-bag;
with the consequence of arousing him to self-defence, and with his
ready pen setting him to work upon a pamphlet, in which he did not fail
to lay bare some of the sore places in the persons of his adversaries,
characterising them as mannerless and unlettered, and even holding
them up in their ignorance as very pests of society. Once in the hands
of the printer, Villeneuve’s purpose to expose his detractors through
the dreaded press became known; and such alarm does his meditated
attack appear to have excited that the Faculty of Physicians, calling
the Senate of the University to their side, petitioned the Parliament
of Paris to forbid the publication of the pamphlet, as well as to
interdict its author from continuing to lecture on Astrology, which
they now characterised as Divination.

The Parliament, with becoming judicial impartiality, would take no
step in the matter until they had heard Villeneuve in his defence and
had something tangible, such as the pamphlet which it was sought to
suppress, before them. Nothing more was done, consequently, than the
issuing of a summons to Villeneuve to appear at the bar of the house
on a certain day and give an account of himself. This gave him all he
required: time to have his pamphlet printed. Keeping the compositors
at work, with a promise of higher pay if they used despatch, it was
not only ready before the day of citation came round, but had been
distributed gratis in numbers to the public as well as to the members
of the medical profession. They reckoned without their host who
thought that Michel Villeneuve was to be cowed by opposition, however
imposingly headed.

The doctors were naturally excessively wroth with this daring move
on the part of the man they desired to crush. He had not awaited
the decision of the Parliament; and neither now did they pause; for
believing they had a hold upon him on the score of heresy, implied
in the practice of judicial astrology or divination, they had him
summoned before the Inquisitor of the king as an enemy to the Church,
and contemner of its statutes. There was no regularly established
Inquisition at this time in France; but papal inquisitors, often
Italians by birth, were commonly enough found accredited by the Holy
See, with the sanction of the Sovereign, to the large towns of the
country. There they held courts before which cases of imputed heresy
were tried and adjudged--the decisions come to, however, being always
made subject to revision by the civil tribunals of the realm. Nay,
there was a right of demurrage to the jurisdiction of the inquisitor,
at the option of the party incriminated, were he minded to be tried by
the ordinary civil, rather than the extraordinary ecclesiastical, court.

We might have imagined that Michael Servetus, with the experience he
had had of ecclesiastical incapacity to hear reason and ‘true judgment
give,’ as he interpreted it, would have paused before venturing to
appear before the inquisitor of the king; but so safe must Michel
Villeneuve have felt against a charge of heresy at this time, and so
secure in his new designation, that he did not hesitate to obey the
summons; although we learn that had he been so minded, he might as a
member of the Faculty of Physicians have even disregarded it entirely.
He appeared accordingly at the proper moment; and so well did he play
his part, so thoroughly did he satisfy the inquisitor of the king that
he was a good Christian, that he left the court with flying colours,
absolved of all suspicion of heresy, to the utter discomfiture of his
accusers, who had now nothing for it but patiently to wait the award of
the Parliament.

Before this tribunal, acting it would seem as a court of justice, a
suit was regularly instituted, with the Rector of the University of
Paris and the Dean and Faculty of Physic of the same as pursuers, on
the one part, and Michael Villanovanus as defendant, on the other. For
the University and Faculty, it was alleged that judicial astrology,
otherwise to be styled divination, is forbidden by various statutes,
as well canonical and divine as civil, the penalty for practising the
same being death by fire, and that the defendant, a man of learning,
and so incapacitated from pleading ignorance of these statutes, had
notoriously lectured both in public and private on certain books of
divination, among others, on the works entitled ‘De Aleabiticis’ and
‘De Divificationibus,’ both of which are full of divination.

It was alleged further, that he had been known to make forecasts for
various persons in respect of their fortunes from their nativities,
on the assumption that according to the day and the hour of a man’s
birth, and the aspect of the heavens at the time, would fortune of
a favourable or adverse kind befal him; all of which by the Faculty
of Theology is held highly reprehensible. That for his lectures and
lessons, moreover, he takes money and attracts numerous auditors,
who, seduced by the pleasantness of the poison he sells, have been
debauched and led to forsake the true philosophy of Pico de Mirandola,
who declares divination to be the most pestilent of frauds, degrading
philosophy, invalidating religion, strengthening superstition,
corrupting morals, and making men miserable slaves instead of free men.

Not stopping short at such public and private misdeeds, continue the
pursuers, he has written and had printed a certain apology or defence
of divination,[47] with his name attached, which is of a highly
objectionable character in every respect; the Theological Faculty
declaring in addition that the concluding sentence of this apology has
an extremely suspicious appearance, couched as it is in these words:
‘On the following night Mars is eclipsed by the moon, near the star
called the King, in the constellation of Leo; whence I predict that in
the course of this year the hearts of the Lions, i.e. the princes, will
be greatly moved; that with Mars in the ascendant war will prevail,
and much havoc be done by fire and sword; that the Church will suffer
tribulation, several princes die, and pestilence and other evils
abound. To languish, to mourn, to die--all of good or ill that comes to
man proceeds from heaven.’

The petition of the pursuers on the above showing therefore is, that
the defendant, Villanovanus, be interdicted for the future from
professing and practising judicial astrology, whether in public or
private; that he be forbidden further to circulate his pamphlet against
the Faculty, and commanded to call in all unsold copies; that for what
has passed he own himself to blame, and be enjoined for the future to
bear himself respectfully towards the Faculty of Physic, to which he
belongs.

In his address to the court on behalf of his client, Villanovanus’s
counsel opined that the Faculty of Physic had descended somewhat
from the dignity that became so great a body in taking steps against
one, a stranger, who had been attracted to Paris by the science that
distinguished it, of which he had heard so much. The cause of the
hostility of the Faculty against his client, he said, was owing to his
having insisted on the necessity of a knowledge of astronomy to the
Physician. This had been turned into a knowledge of judicial astrology
by his enemies; but there were many of his hearers who were ready to
testify that he had never even mentioned judicial astrology. As to the
paragraph about the Lions, he had only given it as illustrating the
rules of astrological science, and the knowledge he has of the possible
influence of the stars; but he would by no means insist that events
of the kind named must happen as matter of necessity. In all this,
however, he is ready to submit himself to the judgment of the court,
and on his words being pronounced objectionable, he is willing to be
set right. With regard to what he says in his apology about physicians
being the plagues of society, he of course only aims at the ignorant
and unskilful among them; the saying, indeed, is none of his, but
Galen’s, who speaks of the ignorant practitioners of medicine of his
day in precisely the same words.

The judgment of the court is nearly in the terms of the counsel’s
address for the prosecution. His statements appear to have been
taken as trustworthy without further evidence adduced. Villanovanus
is ordered to call in his pamphlet and deposit the copies with the
proper officer of the court; to pay all honour and respect to the
Faculty of Physic in its collective and individual capacity, saying
and writing nothing unbecoming of it, but conducting himself at all
times peacefully and reverently towards its members; the doctors, on
their part, being enjoined to treat Villanovanus gently and amiably, as
parents treat their children. Villanovanus is then expressly inhibited
and forbidden to appear in public, or in any other way, as a professor
or practitioner of judicial astrology, otherwise called divination; he
is to confine himself in his discussions of astrological subjects to
the influence of the heavenly bodies on the course of the seasons and
other natural phenomena, and not to meddle with questions or judgments
of stellar influences on individuals or events, under pain of being
deprived of the privileges he enjoys as a graduate of the University of
Paris.

Done this 18th of March, 1538.



CHAPTER XIII.

CHARLIEU--ATTAINMENT OF HIS THIRTIETH YEAR--HIS VIEWS OF BAPTISM.


This decree and interdict of the Parliament of Paris could not have
been satisfactory to Servetus. We need not question his belief in the
reality of judicial astrology, nor doubt of the application of its
presumed principles having been found profitable by him; for a longing
to pry into futurity is among the infirmities of human nature, and a
belief in the influence of the stars on the fortunes of men was all
but universal in the age of Servetus. Nor is it even now entirely
extinct in the world; for the ‘Vox Stellarum’ is still regularly
printed in England, and finds a sale by thousands every year among
the superstitious and the ill-educated of our population. Hardly,
moreover, does a child come into the world among us now without a
great fuss being made as to the precise moment of the birth; though
the particulars obtained may never be thought of afterwards, nor the
end for which they were sought be even surmised. But when we look on
the cornelian and clay cylinders dug up in such numbers from the ruins
of Babylon and Nineveh, engraved with the accredited figures of the
Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the emblematical representations of the
constellations, such as Cassiopæia, Hercules Ingeniculus, Ursa Major,
Leo, Auriga, Cepheus, and others, still depicted on our celestial
globes, we learn how old was the belief that every man and woman who
came into the world was influenced in after life by the star under
which he or she was born.[48]

Villeneuve might possibly have continued lecturing on astrology,
composing horoscopes, and casting nativities, as others did in his
day, had he but had the prudence to control his tongue, and not hold
up his brethren of the Faculty of Physic to contempt by proclaiming
their ignorance of a science in which he himself excelled and held
necessary to treat disease in the most effectual manner; but he had
been indiscreet, and they had won the day. He could no longer go on
making forecasts for a credulous public from the aspect of the heavens
at the moment of their birth, and he must show himself forward to call
in the unsold copies of his pamphlet which had been found so offensive,
perhaps because so well directed and so true. It would have interested
us in the present day to have known precisely wherein the sting of this
apology lay; but like others among the host of ephemeral publications,
hurriedly produced to serve a purpose of the hour, it has perished.
There were few collectors of ballads, broadsides, and tracts, three
hundred and fifty years ago; and all the searches for a copy of the
philippic against the Parisian Faculty have proved in vain.[49]

From the estimate we are led to form of the self-sufficing and defiant
character of Michael Servetus, as displayed in his after life, we are
disposed to wonder that he did not continue to dispute the field of
Paris with his opponents. He had published his clever and scholarly
treatise on Syrups, and through it achieved a title to consideration
as a learned practitioner of medicine in the regular way. Such a man
as he would soon have lived down the stigma his fellows had fastened
upon him as a fortune-teller from the stars, and he must by and by have
taken his place in the front rank of his profession. But the physician
comes slowly into practice when public confidence is courted through
the gate of science. Horoscope-making was probably the main source of
Villeneuve’s income; and this forbidden, and the golden stream it fed,
arrested, the cold shoulder shown him by his professional brethren, and
the averted looks of the public at the man condemned by the Parliament
of Paris,--all was against him; his malignant star had culminated, and
he seems to have thought it best to yield to fate, and give way.

It must have been immediately after the conclusion of the suit against
him that Servetus left Paris; for we have news of him in the course
of the same year (1538) as a practitioner of medicine in the town of
Charlieu, distant about twelve French miles from the city of Lyons.
He may have been led to this retreat through knowledge gained in the
course of his former residence in Lyons; but he did not continue long
there--certainly for not more than a year and a half, or so. Could
we trust the report of one who speaks of him as ‘a most arrogant and
insolent person,’ he must have embroiled himself with some of the more
influential people of Charlieu, who, as said, made his position so
uncomfortable that he was forced to quit and go farther afield.[50] But
Villeneuve had earned for himself an ill name by his dispute with the
University and Medical Faculty of Paris; and coming from the quarter
it does, we give no credit to the tale, led as we are by what we know
to find a much better reason for the remove than any fresh personal
dispute, though there does seem to have been something of the kind
complicating matters, as well as certain ‘love passages,’ which, as
they came to nothing, may have rendered longer residence in the place
unpleasant.

The residence of Villeneuve in Charlieu, however, is not without
interest, as giving us a further insight into the character and
predominant pious nature of the man. In the course of the year 1539,
which he passed at Charlieu, Michael Servetus attained the thirtieth
year of his age, the year according to his religious tenets in which
only baptism could be rightly received. ‘He who would follow the
example of Christ,’ says he in his latest work, ‘ought now to betake
him to this Laver of Regeneration--_Lavacrum Regenerationis_;’ and
from the particular account he gives of the manner in which they who
think with him on the subject of baptism perform the rite, we can
scarcely doubt of his having found occasion to have himself privately
baptized by some Anabaptist acquaintance he had made. Servetus was
unquestionably a man of so pious a nature, so sincere a believer in
the divinity of Christ, according to his way of interpreting it, and
so firmly persuaded that the closest possible imitation of him was
necessary to salvation, that we may feel assured he found means to
have a rite he held so indispensable properly performed at the proper
moment. It must have been in the consciousness of having himself
done what he thought right in this particular, that we find him by
and by urgently exhorting Calvin, with whom he had entered into
correspondence, and probably knew to be of his own age, to have himself
baptized anew. ‘Christ,’ he says, ‘as an infant, was circumcised, but
not baptized; and this is a great mystery; in his thirtieth year,
however, he received baptism; thereby setting us the example, and
teaching us that before this age no one is a fit recipient of the rite
that gives the kingdom of heaven to man. It were fit and proper in you,
therefore, would you show true faith in Christ, to submit yourself to
baptism, and so receive the gift of the Holy Spirit promised through
this means.’ (Epist. xv. ad Jo. Calvinum, Christ. Restit., p. 615.)



CHAPTER XIV.

SETTLEMENT AT VIENNE UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF THE ARCHBISHOP--RENEWAL OF
INTERCOURSE WITH THE PUBLISHERS OF LYONS--SECOND EDITION OF PTOLEMY.


It was while resident at Charlieu that Villeneuve again met with Pierre
Paumier, now Archbishop of Vienne, Dauphiny, whom he had known in
Paris, who indeed had been among the number of his auditors when he
lectured on geography and the science of the stars. Paumier had the
reputation, well deserved as it appears, of being a lover of learning
for its own sake, and fond of the society of men learned like himself.
Thinking, we may presume, that one with the accomplishments of his old
professor would be an addition to the society of the archiepiscopal
city of Vienne, when he heard of Villeneuve’s presence in Charlieu as
a practising physician, he sought him out, and pressed him to quit the
narrower for the wider field. This, under such auspices, we can well
imagine Doctor Villeneuve was nowise loth to do; so that we next hear
of him installed at Vienne, with apartments found him in the precincts
of the Palace, and so under the immediate patronage of the Archbishop.

Not overburthened with professional work at first, Villeneuve appears
to have renewed, if he had not kept up, his connection with the
publishers of Lyons; and, as a means of income, continued his literary
labours in various directions for more than one of the fraternity.
Among other works, the edition of ‘Ptolemy’ he had supervised for the
Trechsels, when in their service in 1535, being exhausted, a second was
required; and their old editor having already proved himself abundantly
competent, overtures were made to him to undertake the work anew. A
proposal of the kind we need not doubt was gladly received, and the
Trechsels having set up a branch establishment at Vienne, and the
Archbishop consenting to accept the dedication of the new ‘Ptolemy,’
our editor had an opportunity of saying something pleasant to his
patron, and of showing himself advantageously to the public around him
in connection with a handsome volume from a press of their own city.
The work accordingly was entered on with alacrity; and as the editor
was not only countenanced, but assisted by the Archbishop, himself no
mean geographer, the new edition made its appearance in the course of
1541, amended and improved.[51]

If the first ‘Ptolemy’ of Michael Villanovanus had been seen as an
improvement on its predecessors, his second was a marked advance upon
it, and is interesting to us on many accounts. Though much lauded
and commercially successful, the first edition, in a literary point
of view, was still far from what it was capable of being made. The
ornamentation of the volume, though profuse, was not highly artistic,
and the wood-cuts had already done duty in various other publishing
ventures. There was ample room for improvement both in the direction
of greater accuracy of text and of better taste. In the re-issue,
consequently, we find various alterations, and two or three omissions
that are highly significant. It is printed on better paper, too, and
new maps are added; the coarse wood-cuts are left out, and the text
in various parts is amended. Altogether the volume is a very handsome
one, and was obviously produced with every care to secure accuracy and
elegance.

In his Dedication to the Archbishop, we have an assurance that life
among the polished circles of Vienne had already had a mollifying
influence on the hot-headed Michel Villeneuve of Parisian days. The
polite terms in which, beside the Archbishop, all and sundry of mark
and name in the city are spoken of, are particularly notable. We know
how little there was of compliment in the words with which he took
leave of his Swiss opponents, and imagine the sting there must be in
the paper with which he bade the Parisian Faculty farewell. But now,
beneath the wing of the great church dignitary, and referring to the
time when as professor of geography and astrology he had had him among
the number of his auditors, Villanovanus tells us that he is especially
encouraged in his purpose to produce a more correct edition of the
great geographer’s work, by the permission he has received to dedicate
it to his patron, as well as by the assistance he has had from him in
the amendment of numerous faulty passages.

‘For you,’ continues our Editor, addressing the Archbishop, ‘are the
one among our church dignitaries I have known who, loving letters and
favouring learned men, have given particular attention to geographical
science. I am also incited to my work by the many favours I have
received at your hand. Under what patronage but yours, indeed, could
this work, amended, and printed at Vienne, appear, student as you are
of ‘Ptolemy,’ and head of our Viennese society? Nor, sooth to say,
will our ‘Ptolemy’ want a welcome from others about us interested in
geography; among the foremost of whom I may name your relation John
Paumier, prior of St. Marcel, and Claude de Rochefort, your vicar, both
of them highly accomplished men, commended of all, and to whom I may
say that I myself owe as much in my sphere as students of geography
owe to ‘Ptolemy.’ I must do no more than mention Joannes Albus, prior
of St. Peter and St. Simeon; for I am forbidden to speak of his
virtues. Neither must I make other than a passing allusion to the noble
triad, your officials; for words would fail me to speak worthily of
their great qualities; and of Doctor John Perell, your physician, my
old fellow-student in Paris, so learned in philosophy and skilled in
the languages--I can only say that one more apt than I were required
fitly to speak his praise.’

From this we learn that Michael Villanovanus, all in laying on flattery
somewhat thickly, could still show himself the grateful man; as ready
to acknowledge kindness as we have known him apt to take fire at
opposition and ready to resent what he held to be unworthy usage. But
the matter is even more interesting to us, as giving us to know the
kind of society Servetus frequented in Vienne, and the consequent
esteem in which he must have been held. The ‘noble triad’ referred to,
we imagine, may have consisted of M. Maugiron, the Lieutenant-General
of Dauphiny; M. de la Cour, the Vibailly; and M. Arzelier, the
Vicar-General.

Among the alterations and omissions to be observed in the new edition
of the ‘Ptolemy,’ the most notable occur under the heads of Germany,
France, and Judæa. The edition of 1535 was set about and produced
shortly after he had been so unhandsomely received, as he thought,
by the Swiss and German Reformers; and we are therefore sorry, though
not surprised, to find that disappointment and pique had left him
with little inclination to say much in praise either of themselves or
their respective countries. Hence the generally evil report he makes
of Germany, and the notice of Switzerland as remarkable for nothing
but the production of butchers! All this is either suppressed or toned
down in the edition of 1541. The editor had had time for reflection;
and under the soothing influences of the archiepiscopal city and
professional success, he now makes a more favourable report of the
countries and peoples he had formerly gone out of his way to decry
and defame. Instead of the forest-encumbered and swampy land with its
inclement sky of the former edition, Germany is now a _regio amœna_,
with a _cœlum satis clemens_--a pleasant country with quite a temperate
climate, and all the damaging statements in regard to its several
divisions and their peoples are omitted.

The graphic account we had formerly of the boastful, ignorant, and
superstitious people of Spain is also left out in the reprint; but we
have an added notice of the people of France which shows us how little
nations change in the course of three hundred and fifty years. ‘Not
only in the cities and country places,’ says our editor, ‘but even in
single families, every Frenchman seems to think he has a right to rule
over everybody else. The assertion of individual superiority is so
universal that every one among them would have every one else to do
his bidding, he himself feeling bound to do the bidding of none.’

The Church and her favoured sons, the hierarchs thereof, having still
thriven in the shadow of the throne, as Villeneuve was now living amid
the clerical society of an archiepiscopal city, it was thought that the
few words in the former edition, which seemed to question the efficacy
of the ‘Royal Touch’ in curing scrofula, would be out of place. They
are, therefore, now found modified. For the ‘I did not see that any
were cured,’ we find ‘I have heard say that many were cured!’ The
new edition, moreover, being dedicated to the Archbishop of Vienne,
it was felt that any word in dispraise of the Holy Land would seem
disrespectful and improper. All that is said in connection with the
map of Palestine contradictory to the Bible account of Judæa as a land
flowing with milk and honey, or as of signal beauty and fertility, is
accordingly entirely expunged from the new impression.

These changes have been said to be due to warnings given by friends
to Servetus, on the presumption, probably, that he could hardly have
been living on terms of intimacy with many persons of note, both lay
and clerical, without betraying something of the sceptical element
that distinguished him at the outset of his career, and that got the
mastery of him with such disastrous consequences at last. But we have
no positive intimation that Servetus ever failed to keep his counsel,
or that he was known to a soul in Vienne, save as M. Michel Villeneuve,
the physician. Calvin certainly knew him by no other name in Paris
when they met there in 1534, a date at which we have surmised he had
not yet read the ‘De Erroribus Trinitatis,’ and so escaped having his
suspicions aroused through the sameness of the views propounded in that
work, and those expressed by his acquaintance, Villeneuve, that he had
its author, Michael Serveto, alias Revés, bodily before him.

That this was really the case is confirmed by the statement which he
makes on his trial at Vienne, to the effect, that he had only been
challenged by Calvin in the course of their correspondence, begun
as many as fourteen years after the publication of his first book,
with being no other than Servetus. Having read the ‘De Erroribus’
subsequently, Calvin did not fail to discover Michael Serveto under the
cloak of Michael Villanovanus, his correspondent of Vienne, and may
consequently, some time after the year 1546, have written to Cardinal
Tournon, as said by Bolsec,[52] or hinted to a friend in Lyons, that
they had an egregious heretic, the writer of the work on Trinitarian
Error, living among them under an assumed name. But of so much as this
we have no reliable assurance, and even if we had, it could have no
reference to the year 1541, the date of publication of the second
edition of Villanovanus’s ‘Ptolemy.’[53]



CHAPTER XV.

EDITION OF SANTES PAGNINI’S LATIN BIBLE, WITH COMMENTARY.


Servetus must have got through a very considerable amount of literary
work during the earlier years of his residence at Vienne. His time not
being then fully occupied by professional duties, he had leisure and
certainly no lack of inclination for other work, so that he seems to
have been kept well employed by the publishers of Lyons. Hardly had the
second ‘Ptolemy’ seen the light, than we find another handsome volume
in folio not only taking shape under his hands, but actually launched
in the course of the following year, 1542. This was a new and elegant
edition of the Latin Bible of the learned Santes Pagnini.[54]

Appreciating the naturally pious bent of Servetus’s mind, as we do,
to edit the Bible, we imagine, must to him have been like rest to the
weary, and we think of the delight with which he received the proposal
of Hugo de la Porte, the publisher of Lyons, to undertake a task of the
kind. In his own earliest work we have seen him speaking of the Bible
as a ‘book fallen down from heaven, to be read a thousand times over,
the source of all his philosophy and of all his science.’ But this is
from the pen of the younger man; for study and after thought, with
the privilege he possessed through his self-reliant spirit of reading
without a foregone conclusion, enabled him by and by to discover that
the accredited traditional interpretation of holy writ could not at
all times be maintained without violence, not only to reason and
experience, but to history and the plain meaning of the text. He came
to the conclusion, in fact, that whilst the usual prophetical bearing
ascribed to the Old Testament was ever to be kept in view, the text had
a primary, literal, and immediate reference to the age in which it was
composed, and to the personages, the events, and the circumstances amid
which its writers lived.

In the Preface to his edition, consequently, we see that, having
undertaken the responsible duty of editor, Villanovanus means to be no
mere follower in the beaten track, but to take an independent course of
his own. ‘They,’ he says, ‘who are ignorant of the Hebrew language and
history are only too apt to overlook the historical and literal sense
of the sacred Scriptures; the consequence of which is that they vainly
and foolishly expend themselves in hunting after recondite and mystical
meanings in the text where nothing of the kind exists.’ Before reading
the prophets, in particular, he would therefore ‘have every one make
himself acquainted not only with the Hebrew tongue, but with Hebrew
history; for the prophets, without exception, followed history to the
letter, although they also prefigured future events in their writings,
led as they were by inspiration to conclusions having reference to
the mystery of Christ. The power of the Scriptures, indeed, is of
a fertilizing or prolific kind. Under a waning literal sense, they
possess a vivifying spirit of renovation. It were, therefore, well
that their meaning, apprehended as pointing in one direction, should
not be overlooked as also pointing in another; and this the rather,
seeing that the historical sense comes out ever the more clearly when
the prospective bearing, which has Christ for its object, is kept in
view--veiled under types and figures, indeed, and so not seen of the
Jews, blinded by their prejudices, but now revealed to us in such wise
that we seem to see the very face of our God.’

‘In our Commentaries,’ concludes the Expositor, ‘it will consequently
be found that we have made it our particular study to elicit and
present the old historical, but hitherto neglected, sense of the
Scriptures. In this view, and to make available the author’s
annotations, of which he has left a great many, we have taken no small
amount of pains--_non parum est nobis desudatum_. Nor, indeed, had we
to do with his annotations only; for the text of the copy we followed
is corrected in numberless places by the hand of the author himself.
I may, therefore, venture to affirm that Pagnini’s translation, as it
now appears, approximates more closely to the meaning and spirit of the
Hebrew than any former version. But the Church, and those learned in
the Hebrew tongue, must be the judges here--any others are incompetent.’

From what he says, Villanovanus would therefore lead us to believe
that he had had the privilege of working from a copy corrected and
annotated by Pagnini himself, the author of the translation. But on a
somewhat careful collation of the Villanovanus edition of 1542 with
that of Lyons of 1527-28 (the _editio princeps_, we apprehend), and
the reprint from this by Melchior Novesianus of Cologne, of 1541,
we are forced on the conviction that Villanovanus followed no copy
corrected and annotated by Pagnini, but the fine edition of Novesianus,
admirably edited by the learned publisher himself. The text of this is
in fact identical with that of Villanovanus, and the headings to the
chapters and references to corresponding and corroborative texts are
all but uniformly alike in the two. There are no variorum readings, if
we recollect aright, in the Novesianus; but neither are there any of
the slightest significance in the Villanovanus--unless perchance the
reader should think that the text is improved by Noah being directed in
building the Ark to ‘pitch it with pitch’--_picabis eam pice_, instead
of bitumen--_bituminabis eam bitumine_!

That Villanovanus followed Novesianus, and not any copy corrected
and annotated by Pagnini, is, as it were, demonstrated by this, that
each page of the Address to the Reader, with the single exception
of the first, begins and ends with the very same word in the two
editions--which could not have been accidental: the compositor followed
the copy he worked from page for page, line for line, word for word.
We are sorry, therefore, to find our editor taking credit to himself
in directions where none was due, and seeking, as it might seem, to
shelter himself under the pious cowl of the orthodox Pagnini for the
new and daring interpretation he himself puts upon so many passages of
the Psalms and Prophets. Pagnini, one of the most learned hebraists
and classical scholars of his country, was also a thoroughly orthodox
monk, and would assuredly have been not a little astonished, and hardly
pleased, we imagine, could he have seen himself in the guise in which
he is presented by Michael Villanovanus. Had we but a single note from
the hand of the learned Italian--and to the best of our belief we have
not one--it could not have failed to be of the most rigidly orthodox
kind, his own edition having the _imprimatur_ of no fewer than two
Popes, and a laudatory epistle from Jo. Franciscus Picus, nephew of
the celebrated Joannes Picus de Mirandola, distinguished alike as a
philosopher and theologian.

Villanovanus’s procedure in respect of the Pagnini Bible, on the face
of the matter, is much to be regretted, and indeed is hardly to be
understood. He may possibly have had an annotated copy of his author
supplied him by his publisher; but if he had, in so far as we can
see, he has followed Novesianus to the letter in his text and has
given no comments but his own. The times in which Servetus lived,
though different from ours in so many respects, were, as it seems,
somewhat like them in so far as the _meum_ and _tuum_ in literature are
concerned. Did we judge from the instance before us, we should say that
they were still less respected three hundred years ago than they are
in the present day. Calvin refers to Villanovanus’s ‘Pagnini’ in the
course of the Geneva trial, and subsequently also in his ‘Déclaration
pour maintenir la vraye foye.’ But he seems not to have known of the
Novesianus edition, or he would certainly have challenged more than
the comments, and had better grounds possibly than any he adduces for
saying that the editor had dexterously filched--_avait grippé beau et
belle_--five hundred livres from the publisher for his labour.

But all this, though illustrative of one element in the character
of the subject of our study, and not to be passed over by us, is of
less moment than the insight we gain through the comments--assuredly
referable to him alone--into the intellectual side of his nature. In
so far as we know, Servetus is nowhere even named as a biblical critic
and expositor; yet did he precede by more than a century Spinoza,
Astruc, Simon, Eichhorn, and others, founders of the modern school of
Scriptural exegesis. The Old Testament texts referred by the writers of
the New Testament to events still in the womb of time--to the coming
especially of a liberator from their misery for the people of Israel in
the shape of an anointed King, the conception of a late epoch in Jewish
history--Servetus maintained had individuals in view who were alive
and influential when the words were written, although he also admitted
that they had a further prophetical or prospective sense of the kind
commonly ascribed to them.

But he who believed in judicial astrology was not likely to have freed
himself from that other still accredited form of superstitious belief
which leads mankind, without so much as the aspects of the heavens to
guide them, to fancy they can see into futurity. He had not divined,
as we have now come to know, that even the oldest portions of the
Hebrew Scriptures, in the shape in which they have reached us, date
from no more remote an age than that which followed the Babylonian
Captivity; that we have the work of two different writers under the
name of Isaiah, the second of whom lived during or after the reign of
Cyrus; and that the Apocalyptic Book of Daniel was written long after
the personages there darkly shadowed forth had lived and died, and the
events referred to had come and gone.

The narratives of the Pentateuch appear to have been accepted as
properly historical by our editor. He did not, any more than the
commentators who came after him almost to our own day, see them as
mythical tales about individuals who lived, if they lived at all,
and events that occurred, if they ever did occur, thousands--tens of
thousands of years before any account of them could possibly have
assumed the shape of legend, much less have been committed to writing.
He has little, however, to say on the five books ascribed to Moses,
and those of the quasi-historical complexion that follow them. Still
his note on the words put into the mouth of Balaam, which tell of _a
star to come out of Jacob and a sceptre to arise out of Israel_, is
important. The prediction, as he interprets it, applies immediately to
King David, though it has a farther prospective reference to Christ,
with whose advent, as we know, it has long been all but exclusively
connected. Our editor, however, was not helped by his superior
knowledge of the stars to surmise that the writing was of a date long
posterior to the reputed days of Balaam, the soothsayer of Mesopotamia,
and Balak, king of Moab; that the predictions put into the mouth of
the seer were all made after the events they pretend to foretell, and
that King David had lived and died long before a word of the text was
written; neither did he see that the writer who had King David in his
eye could not have been thinking of an anointed king or captain who was
only to appear some six or seven hundred years after Israel’s second
sovereign had been gathered to his fathers.

Villanovanus is much more copious when he comes to the Psalms. The
words in the second of our collection of these sacred lyrics, so much
made of in dogmatic lore, _Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of
Zion.... Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee_--he explains
thus: ‘On the day when David had escaped from his enemy (Saul) he said,
This day do I begin to live; at length I am king.’

The words in the fifth verse of that fine Psalm, the eighth, _For thou
hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with
honour and glory_, he also refers immediately to King David, who, in
times of persecution, abased himself; but, subsequently victorious, was
crowned at last.

The passages, _In Jehovah I put my trust_, and _How say ye to my soul,
flee as a bird to your mountain_, of Psalm xi., he refers to the time
when David in fear of Saul escaped from the land of Judah.

The comment on the sixteenth verse of Psalm xxii., _They pierced my
hands and my feet_, is again applied to David, when, flying from his
enemies, and scrambling like a four-footed beast over rugged and
thorny places, his hands and feet were lacerated--_fugiente David per
abrupta, instar quadrupedis, manus ejus et pedes lacerabantur_.

_Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire_--Psalm xl. 6, signifies,
says our commentator, that David, when a fugitive in the wilderness,
offered no sacrifices.

In the verse, _Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever_, Psalm xlv. 6,
the word _God_, says our exponent, refers to Solomon, who, like Moses
and Cyrus, is here styled _Divus_--God.

_They gave me gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar
as drink_, of Psalm xlix. 22, says Villanovanus, is a passage referring
to Nabal’s refusal and churlishness when David asked him for meat and
drink.

_The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make
thine enemies thy footstool_, Psalm cx. 1. ‘This refers to David and
Solomon, types alike of Christ, when David, having set his son on the
throne beside him, addressed him as My Lord, and styled him a priest
after the order of Melchizedek.’

Whilst thus in these and in many other instances referring the
statements met with in the Psalms to individuals living or dead at
the time they were written, and to events then in progress or past,
Villanovanus still imagines that everything said, besides its literal
and immediate signification, is also typical of personages and events
to come--a system of exposition that has been pushed beyond all
reasonable lengths by ignorance and superstition since his day. We may
indeed be well assured that the writers of the Hebrew Psalms knew no
more of what would happen five or six centuries after they were dust
than we know of what will be going on in the world five or six hundred
years after we are no more. Prophets, Seers, Diviners, Fortune-tellers
and the like are ignored by the science of our age, although under
the first of these designations they are still acknowledged by pious
persons in the history of the past, and in its bearing on the religion
of the present. The excuse for this is that the Prophets of Israel
were _inspired_, or exceptionally gifted, with the power of seeing
into futurity. But God, as we now conceive God, makes no exceptions to
his laws. As they are, so have they ever been, and so will they ever
continue to be. Said not Servetus himself aright when he declared that
out of man there was no Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Inspiration?

But it is not on the Psalms that Villanovanus’s exposition, remarkable
as it is, appears the most noteworthy. It is when he comes to the
writings of the Prophets, as they are styled, that he puts forth his
strength and shows his learning. _And it shall come to pass in the
last days that Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the
mountain, and all nations shall flow unto it_, says Isaiah (ii. 2 _et
seq._). These words, according to our expositor, refer to the reign
of Hezekiah. Literally seen, they speak of the accession of Hezekiah,
and the return of the captive Israelites to Jerusalem, the Assyrians
having suffered a signal defeat without a battle fought.

In like manner, commenting on the second verse of the fourth chapter
of Isaiah, where it is said, _In that day shall the branch of Jehovah
be beautiful and glorious_, he says it is still Hezekiah and events
transpiring in his reign that are alluded to, the king nevertheless
being to be seen as a type of Christ.

The remarkable fourteenth verse of chapter vii. of the same writer, of
which so much has been made, Villanovanus refers immediately to the
times in which it was written. Syria and Ephraim confederate, under
their kings Rezin and Pekah, are at war with Judah and threatening
Jerusalem, whose king, Ahaz, the Prophet comforts with the assurance
that the invasion, however formidable it looks, will come to nothing,
and bids him ask for a sign from Jehovah that such will be the case.
But Ahaz declining to do so, the Prophet volunteers a forecast of what
he declares will come to pass, saying, _Behold, a virgin_ (Almah--a
young marriageable woman) _shall conceive and bear a son, and shall
call his name Immanuel; and before the child shall know good from
evil_ [arrive at years of discretion] _the land will be freed from its
enemies_. ‘The Aramæans,’ says Villanovanus, ‘have come up in battle
array against Jerusalem, and the prophet speaks of a young woman who
shall conceive and bear a son, the young woman being no other than
Abijah, about to become the mother of Hezekiah--strength or fortitude
of God--and Immanuel--God with us--before whose reign the two kings,
the enemies of Judah, will have been discomfited.’

The _For unto us a child is born_, &c., of chapter ix., he further
refers to Hezekiah, for it was in his reign that Sennacherib and
the Assyrians suffered such a signal defeat, the angel of Jehovah,
according to the account, having slain in one night an hundred and four
score and five thousand of them.

_For they shall cry unto the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt, and he
will send them a Saviour and he shall deliver them_ (Ib. xix. 20). ‘The
Saviour,’ says Villanovanus, ‘is still no other than Hezekiah. Egypt as
well as Judah, oppressed by the Assyrians, is relieved when the great
army of Sennacherib is wrecked by the angel of Jehovah.’

_Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf
be unstopped_ (Ib. xxxv. 5), _i.e._ ‘Liberation from the yoke of the
Assyrians will do much towards giving the Jewish people clearer and
better ideas of God.’

_Comfort ye my people.... The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord_, &c. (Ib. xl. 1-3). ‘These are words
addressed to Cyrus, praying him to open a way through the desert for
Israel, returning from the captivity of Babylon;’ and the ninth verse,
_O Zion, that bringest good tidings ... say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God_, he says, ‘refers literally to Cyrus, who is here
styled God; as does also the eighteenth verse, _To whom will ye liken
God_ (_i.e._ Cyrus), _or what likeness will ye compare unto him_? ‘In
many striking ways,’ adds our expositor, ‘the prophet would lead the
rude Jews, on their redemption from the Babylonian captivity, to cease
from idolatry and to believe in God, the Creator of the world.’

_He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief. Surely he hath borne our griefs ... he was wounded for
our transgressions_, &c. (Ib. liii.). ‘In these passages, which also
involve a great mystery referable to Christ,’ says Villanovanus,
‘the Prophet laments over Cyrus, slain, as it were, for the sins of
the people, who, however, will suffer still more under Cambyses,
his successor, when the building of the Temple, now begun, will be
interrupted.’

_Arise, shine, for thy light is come.... They from Sheba shall come,
and shall bring gold and incense_, &c., (Ib. lx.), _i.e._ ‘taken
literally, and as it stands, these words refer to the great days of the
Second Temple, when Jerusalem was again in its glory.’

_Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah_ (Ib.
lxiii.), _i.e._ ‘Cyrus has inflicted severe chastisement on Edom, and
brought back those who had been carried thither from Jerusalem into
captivity, as we read in the fifteenth chapter, where it is said, _The
redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion._’

_Behold the days will come, saith the Lord, when I shall raise unto
David a righteous branch_ (Jerem. xxiii. 5). The individual here
referred to our exponent believes to be Zerubabel.

_Know, therefore, that from the going forth of the commandment to
restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, is seven
weeks, and three-score and two weeks ... and after three-score and two
weeks shall Messiah be cut off and be no more_ (Daniel, ix. 25). ‘The
times specified,’ says Villanovanus, ‘refer to those of the exile and
the return of the captives by favour of Cyrus, who is the Messiah or
Anointed One of God, that is here spoken of. Sixty-two weeks having
passed from the great event, Cyrus will have been cut off, and all have
gone to wreck again.’

_Then shall Judah and Israel be gathered together, and appoint
themselves one head_, &c., _i.e._ ‘Judah and Israel will have become
united for a season, as they were under Hezekiah.’

The words of the second verse of chapter vi., _After two days will
he revive us; in the third day he will raise us up_, ‘refer to the
extraordinary discomfiture of the Assyrians in the reign of Hezekiah.’

_For behold, in those days when I shall bring again the captivity of
Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all the nations_, &c. (Joel,
iii. 1). ‘These words have a literal application to the defeat of
the Assyrians and the glories of Hezekiah’s reign. Disasters many
have befallen the chosen seed; but their oppressors will in turn be
desolated, and Judah, restored, shall dwell for ever in Jerusalem.’

The texts in MICAH generally spoken of as exclusively prophetical
of Christ, our commentator thinks refer literally to Hezekiah
and times subsequent to the defeat of the Assyrians. _But thou,
Bethlehem-Ephratah, out of thee shall he come forth to be a ruler
in Israel_, viz., ‘Hezekiah, who will deliver the people from the
Assyrian.’

_Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion; shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem;
behold, thy King cometh unto thee lowly, and riding upon an ass, even
on a colt, the foal of an ass._ This text, which is referred to Christ
in Matthew (chapter xxii.), is connected by Villanovanus with the
compassionate Zerubabel and his entrance into Jerusalem.

No one will be surprised to learn that these comments of the learned
Villanovanus did not escape the notice of the great ecclesiastical
centres of his day. That of Lyons is by-and-by found condemning
outright both them and the book they pretend to illustrate. That of
Madrid is content to order by far the greater number of the glosses to
be expunged, but leaves the Bible itself available to the privileged;
whilst that of Rome, less tolerant, not only condemns the expositions,
but puts the book upon the _Index prohibitorius_. The perusal of such
comments, preparatory to drawing the pen through them, it was surmised
by the far-sighted ecclesiastics of Rome might lead to independent
thought, and this is precisely what the Church they represent would
have every man, woman, and child in the land most carefully to eschew.

Calvin, we may imagine, was not likely to think any better of
Villanovanus’s annotations than the heads of the Church of Rome; on
the contrary, pinning his faith on its text as prophetical in the
very strictest sense of the word, any attack on its sufficiency as a
ground for dogmatic conclusion was felt by him to be a matter much
more serious than by the Church of Rome, which sets its own traditions
as equipollent to, where not even of higher authority than, that of
the Bible on all matters of faith. To see the Scriptures of the Jews
otherwise than as Calvin and the Reformers saw them was, in their eyes,
to question the infallible book they had substituted for the infallible
Pope so lately abandoned by them. We should therefore expect to meet
Calvin, with occasion serving, making a point against our expositor
on the ground of the Pagnini; and accordingly we find Servetus’s
comments brought up against him in the most marked manner during his
Geneva Trial, whilst in the Déclaration pour maintenir la vraye Foye,
and the Defensio orthodoxæ Fidei, they are spoken of as impertinences
and impieties, the Publisher being said at the same time to have been
nothing less than cheated out of the money he paid the editor for
his work. ‘Who,’ says Calvin, ‘shall venture to say that it was not
thievish in the editor when he took five hundred livres in payment for
the vain trifles and impious follies with which he encumbered almost
every page of the book?’ (‘Opusc. Theol. Om.’ p. 703).

Notwithstanding the great Reformer’s denunciations, however, though we
may not agree with Villanovanus in all his conclusions, nor approve
of his passing without mention Melchior Novesianus, to whom he was
indebted for his text, when we look on the beautiful volume he aided
in producing, and think of him as the one man of his age who had
independent opinions on the real or possible meaning of the poetical
writings of the Hebrew people, consonant as these are in so many
respects with the views entertained by the most advanced biblical
critics of the present day, we are not disposed to think that he was
overpaid. Had the Church dignitaries of Vienne seen the Pagnini Bible
of Michael Villanovanus with the same eyes as the hierarchs of Rome,
Madrid, and Lyons, the matter he added must needs have seriously
compromised him with them. His numerous, excessively free, and highly
heterodox interpretations of the Psalms and Prophets, nevertheless, in
so far as we have been able to discover, appear to have lost Villeneuve
neither countenance nor favour at Vienne, which is not a little
extraordinary.



CHAPTER XVI.

ENGAGEMENT AS EDITOR BY JO. FRELON OF LYONS--CORRESPONDENCE WITH CALVIN.


The Pagnini Bible out of hand, Villanovanus’s time would seem not yet
to have been so fully occupied by his profession as to debar him from
continuing to engage in a good deal of miscellaneous literary work for
his friends the publishers of Lyons, among the number of whom we have
now particularly to notice John Frelon, a man of learning, like so many
of the old publishers, entertaining tolerant or more liberal views of
the religious question, inclined towards, if not openly professing, the
Reformed Faith, and the personal friend of Calvin.

For Frelon Villeneuve edited a variety of works, mostly, as it seems,
of an educational kind, such as grammars, accidences, and the like;
translating several of these from Latin into Spanish, for the laity;
and, as the priesthood of the Peninsula appear not to have cultivated
the classical languages of Greece and Rome to the same extent as
those of France and Germany, also turning the _Summa Theologiæ_ of
St. Thomas Aquinas, a work entitled _Desiderius peregrinus_, and
another, the _Thesaurus animæ Christianæ_, into their vernacular for
them.[55] Brought into somewhat intimate relationship with Villeneuve,
whom Frelon at this time could not have known as Michael Servetus,
the Reformation, its principles, its objects, and the views of its
more distinguished leaders, would hardly fail to come up as topics
of conversation between him and his learned editor. Frelon must soon
have seen how much better than common Villeneuve was informed in this
direction; and it has been said, not without every show of truth, that
at his suggestion Servetus, under his assumed name of Villeneuve or
Villanovanus, was led to enter on the correspondence with Calvin which
we believe had so momentous an influence on his future fate. Frelon
saw Villeneuve full of unusual ideas on many of the accredited dogmas
of the Christian faith; and, not indisposed, though indifferently
prepared, to discuss these himself, he very probably suggested the
great Reformer of Geneva as the man of all others the most likely to
feel an interest in them, as well as the most competent to give an
opinion on their merits. Hence the correspondence which, begun in 1546,
went on into 1547, and may even have extended into the following year.

That Frelon was the medium of communication between Villeneuve and
Calvin is satisfactorily shown by the publisher’s letter to the
Spaniard, inclosing one for him just received from the Reformer. The
correspondence, however, must have already been started and Villeneuve
been complaining to Frelon that he had been long without an answer to
the last of his letters. Frelon, in turn, would seem to have written to
Calvin, reminding him that his friend Villeneuve had for some time past
been expecting to hear from him. Writing at length under his well-known
pseudonym of Charles Despeville, in reply to Frelon, Calvin says:--

    ‘Seigneur Jehan, Your last letter found me on the eve of my
    departure from home, and I had not time then to reply to the
    inclosure it contained. I take advantage of the first moment I
    have to spare since my return, to comply with your wishes; not
    indeed that I have any great hope of proving serviceable to
    such a man, seeing him disposed as I do. But I will try once
    more if there be any means left of bringing him to reason, and
    this will happen when God shall have so worked in him that he
    become altogether other than he is. I have been led to write
    to him more sharply than is my wont, being minded to take him
    down a little in his presumption; and I assure you there is no
    lesson he needs so much to learn as humility. This may perhaps
    come to him through the grace of God, not otherwise, as it
    seems. But we too ought to lend a helping hand. If God give him
    and us such grace as to have the letter I now forward turn to
    profit, I shall have cause to rejoice. If he goes on writing
    to me in the style he has hitherto seen fit to use, however,
    you will only lose your time in soliciting me farther in his
    behalf; for I have other business that concerns me more nearly,
    and I shall make it matter of conscience to devote myself to
    it, not doubting that he is a Satan who would divert me from
    studies more profitable. Let me beg of you therefore to be
    content with what I have already done, unless you see most
    pressing occasion for acting differently.

    ‘Recommending myself to you and praying God to have you in his
    keeping, I am your servant and friend--

    ‘CHARLES DESPEVILLE.

    [Geneva] ‘this 13 of February, 1546.’

This is surely neither an indifferent nor an unreasonable letter;
yet does it give us to know that the epistle it enclosed, both in
manner and matter, was likely to give offence to one with the haughty
and self-sufficing nature of Michael Servetus. He had addressed the
Reformer on transcendental dogmatic subjects, and probably urged
his views with the warmth that strong conviction lends to language,
and without anything like the deferential tone to which Calvin was
accustomed. This proved particularly distasteful to the head of
the Church of Geneva, who had certainly thought as deeply, and may
even have entertained as serious misgivings, on some of the topics
propounded, as his correspondent. Hence the unwonted _sharpness_ of the
reply; hence, also, the fire which Villeneuve caught at being lectured
like a schoolboy; and hence, in fine, the irritating, disrespectful,
and regrettable character on either side of the correspondence that
followed.

In transmitting Calvin’s letter to Villeneuve, Frelon addresses him
thus:--

    ‘Dear Brother and Friend! You will see by the enclosed why you
    had not sooner an answer to your letter. Had I had anything
    to communicate at an earlier date, I should not have failed
    to send to you immediately, as I promised. Be assured that I
    wrote to the personage in question, and that there was no want
    of punctuality on my part. I think, however, that with what
    you have now, you will be as well content as if you had had it
    sooner. I send my own man express with this, having no other
    messenger at command. If I can be of use to you in anything
    else, I beg to assure you, you will always find me ready to
    serve you. Your good brother and friend, Jehan Frelon.

    ‘To my good brother and friend, master Michael Villanovanus,
    Doctor in medicine, Vienne.’

It is matter of deep regret that with the exception of the first
communication of Calvin to Villeneuve, which is in the form of an essay
rather than a familiar epistle, and was written some time before the
stinging missive sent through Frelon, we have nothing from him that
would have enabled us to judge of the general style and character
of his letters, though of this we may form an estimate from his
subsequent writings. Calvin was far too much engaged to make copies
of his letters, and we may feel certain that Villeneuve, on the first
intimation of danger threatening him from the authorities of Vienne,
destroyed every scrap of writing he had ever had from the Reformer,
calculated as it was to compromise him in the eyes of Roman Catholics.
Forced, for the sake of his French correspondents, to resort to a
pseudonym, Calvin had probably addressed Villeneuve in his proper
name. The letter to Frelon and the one from Frelon to Villeneuve must
have been overlooked, or thought to contain nothing that could be
adversely interpreted, and so found their way to the Judicial Archives
of Vienne, whence they were recovered and published by Mosheim.[56]

The letters of Villeneuve to Calvin, or a certain number of them, at
all events, have been transmitted to us by their writer in a section
of his work on the Restoration of Christianity; and we turned to them
with the interest of expectation, thinking we might there find a key
to the singular and persistent hostility with which Calvin shows
himself to have been animated towards his correspondent. Nor were we
disappointed. The style of address indulged in by Villeneuve, as the
correspondence proceeds, is as if purposely calculated to wound, if
not even to insult, a man in the position of John Calvin, conscious of
his own superiority, jealous of his authority, and become so sensitive
to everything like disrespectful bearing on the part of those who
approached him. But of deference or respect, save at the outset, there
is not a trace in any of the letters of Villeneuve. On the contrary,
they have often an air of something like familiarity that must have
been extremely disagreeable to Calvin. Add to this the unseemly and
disparaging epithets with which he pelts the irritable Reformer, and
we have warrant enough for our assumption that, mainly out of this
unfortunate epistolary encounter, was the enmity engendered which took
such hold of Calvin’s mind as led him to see in a mere theological
dissident a dangerous innovator and deadly personal foe.

The correspondence at the outset, however, had nothing of the unseemly
character it acquired as it proceeded. Villeneuve approached the
Reformer at first as one seeking aid and information from another
presumed most capable of giving both; and this was precisely the style
of address that suited Calvin. The subjects on which he desired the
Reformer’s opinion were theological, of course, and of great gravity,
involving topics of no less moment than the sense in which the Divinity
and Sonship of Christ, the Doctrine of Regeneration, and the Sacraments
of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, were to be understood.

In a letter to a friend of a later date Calvin speaks as if he believed
that these questions had been proposed in mockery, or to get him
into difficulty; but this was an afterthought, and when he had come
to persuade himself that Servetus was a man devoid of all religious
principle. Nothing of any suspicion of the kind he hints at appears
in his reply to the first communication he received, for it is sober,
earnest, and to the point, each subject being taken up in succession
and discussed, now in conformity with his own particular views, and
then with the interpretation of the Churches.

Servetus’s questions to Calvin, three in number, were propounded
categorically, and in the following order:--

1st.--Was the man Jesus, who was crucified, the Son of God; and what is
the rationale of the Sonship (filiatio)?

2nd.--Is the Kingdom of heaven in man; when is it entered; and when is
regeneration effected?

3rd.--Is Baptism to be received in faith, like the Supper; and in what
sense are these institutions to be held as the New Covenant?

To the first, Calvin replies: ‘We believe and confess that Jesus
Christ, the man who was crucified, was the Son of God, and say that
the Wisdom of God, born of the Eternal Father before all time, having
become incarnate, was now manifested in the flesh. Therefore do we
acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God by his humanity; therefore,
also, do we say that he is God--_sed ideo quod Deus_. As by his human
nature, he is engendered of the seed of David, and so is said to be the
Son of David; by parity of reason, and because of his divine nature, is
he the Son of God. Christ, however, is One, not Two-fold; he is at once
the Son of God and the Son of Man. You own him as the Son of God, but
do not admit the oneness, save in a confused way. We, who say that the
Son of God is our Brother, as well as the true Immanuel, nevertheless
acknowledge in the One Christ the Majesty of God and the Humility of
man. But you, confounding these, destroy both; for, acknowledging God
manifest in the flesh, you say the divinity is the flesh itself, the
humanity God Himself.’

To the second he answers: ‘The Kingdom of God, we say, begins in men
when they are regenerated; and we are said to be regenerated when,
enlightened by faith in Christ, we yield entire obedience to God. I
deny, however, that regeneration takes place in a moment; it is enough
if progress be made therein even to the hour of death.’

To the third he says: ‘We do not deny that Baptism requires faith; but
not such as is required in the communion of the Supper; and in respect
of Baptism we see it as nugatory until the promise of God involved in
the rite is apprehended in faith.’ He concludes by assimilating the
sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to the Circumcision and
Passover of the olden time.

Calvin, we thus see, addressed himself not only to the questions sent,
but also in answer to the letter which doubtless accompanied them, in
which the writer must have given some intimation of his own views.

That Calvin’s communication, couched in rigidly orthodox terms, though
unobjectionable in style, was not calculated to satisfy Villeneuve, we
cannot doubt. His mind was already as thoroughly made up--even more
thoroughly made up, we apprehend, on some of the points advanced--than
Calvin’s. We are not surprised, therefore, to find that the Genevese
Reformer’s expositions were repudiated as little satisfactory by the
physician of Vienne, or to discover that the correspondence on his part
was not suffered to drop. He appears to have replied immediately, and
must have written in sequence no fewer than thirty letters to Calvin
on his favourite theological subjects, so many being printed in the
‘Christianismi Restitutio.’ In answer to these Calvin must also have
sent him more than one or two, though certainly many fewer than thirty;
for by the letter to Frelon, written evidently at an early period of
the correspondence, we see him already weary of it.

With his hands more than full in administering the affairs of the
Genevese Church, holding his political opponents the Libertines
in check at home, and corresponding with friends and the heads of
all the other Reformed Churches abroad, it is not wonderful that,
besides feeling disquieted by the matter and offended with the manner
of Villeneuve’s addresses, he had soon made up his mind to have
nothing more to do with the writer. He saw, moreover, that he made no
impression on him, each new epistle being, as he says to a friend, but
‘a wearisome iteration of the same cuckoo note.’ Calvin’s vocation,
however, was to be helpful in what he believed to be God’s work, and to
preach the Gospel as he apprehended it. True to his trust, therefore,
and by way of meeting his troublesome correspondent’s further
importunities,--as a balsam competent to heal the wounds and strengthen
the weak places in the soul of the distempered man, he seems to have
thought he might escape further molestation by referring him to his own
‘Institutions of the Christian Religion,’ his master work, the canon of
the Church of which he was the founder and acknowledged head. In this
view, as we venture to presume, Calvin sent Villeneuve a copy of his
‘Institutions,’ and referred him to its pages for satisfactory replies
to all his propositions.

It is impossible to imagine that Servetus had continued until this time
unacquainted with Calvin’s writings; he had doubtless read them all;
but he may not have made the ‘INSTITUTIONES RELIGIONIS CHRISTIANÆ’ the
subject of the particular study on which he was now forced, as it were,
by its author, and with the result that might have been foreseen: there
was hardly a proposition in the text that was not taken to pieces by
him, and found untenable, on the ground both of Scripture and Patristic
authority.

In the course of the correspondence hitherto, Calvin had stood on the
vantage ground, as critic of his correspondent’s views; but matters
were now reversed, for Villeneuve became the critic of the Reformer. He
by and by returned the copy of the ‘Institutions,’ copiously annotated
on the margins, not only in no terms of assent, but generally with the
unhappy freedom of expression in which he habitually indulged, and so
little complimentary to the author himself, as it seems, that Calvin,
in writing to a friend and in language not over-savoury, says:--‘There
is hardly a page that is not defiled by his vomit.’ The liberties
taken with the ‘Institutions,’ we may well imagine, were looked on as
a crowning personal insult by Calvin; and, reading the nature of the
man as we do, they may have been that, super-added to the letters,
which put such rancour into his soul as made him think of the life of
his critic, turned by him into his calumniator, as no more than a fair
forfeit for the offence done.

It was at this time precisely, as it appears, that Calvin wrote that
terribly compromising letter to Farel, so long contested by his
apologists, but now admitted on all hands--as indeed how could it be
longer denied, seeing that it is still in existence?--in which he says:
‘Servetus wrote to me lately, and beside his letter sent me a great
volume full of his ravings, telling me with audacious arrogance that I
should there find things stupendous and unheard of until now. He offers
to come hither if I approve; but I will not pledge my faith to him; for
did he come, if I have any authority here, I should never suffer him to
go away alive.’[57]

Nor is this the only letter written at this time by Calvin which
shows with what despite he regarded Servetus. Jerome Bolsec, a quondam
monk, now a physician, opposed to the Papacy and but little less
hostilely inclined to Calvin, speaking of the Reformer’s persecution
of Servetus--‘an arrogant and insolent man, forsooth,’--and of
Servetus having addressed a number of letters to him along with the
MS. of a work he had written, and a copy of the ‘Institutions of the
Christian Religion,’ full of annotations little complimentary to the
author,--goes on to say: ‘Since which time Calvin, greatly incensed,
conceived a mortal antipathy to the man, and meditated with himself
to have him put to death. This purpose he proclaimed in a letter to
Pierre Viret of Lausanne, dated the Ides of February (1546). Among
other things in this letter, he says: “Servetus desires to come hither,
on my invitation; but I will not plight my faith to him; for I have
determined, did he come, that I would never suffer him to go away
alive.” This letter of Calvin fell into my hands by the providence of
God, and I showed it to many worthy persons--I know, indeed, where
it is still to be found.’ Bolsec says further that Calvin wrote to
Cardinal Tournon denouncing Servetus of heresy, some time before making
use of William Trie in the same view to the authorities of Lyons and
Vienne, and that the Cardinal laughed heartily at the idea of one
heretic accusing another. ‘This letter of Calvin to Cardinal Tournon,’
says Bolsec in continuation, ‘was shown to me by M. du Gabre, the
Cardinal’s secretary. William Trie also wrote several letters to Lyons
and Vienne at the instigation of Calvin, which led to the arrest of
Servetus; but he escaped from prison.’

These statements of Bolsec, like the letter to Farel, have been called
in question and their truth denied by Calvin’s apologists; but they
tally in every respect with what else we know, and explain some things
that would have remained obscure without them. If Calvin wrote to Farel
in the terms he certainly did, we have no difficulty in believing
that he addressed his _alter ego_, Viret, in the same way. What is
said of the letter to Cardinal Tournon, also, has every appearance of
truth. The Cardinal took no notice of the heresy proclaimed from such
a quarter as Geneva; or if he hinted at the matter to his friend the
Archbishop of Vienne, Paumier’s good report of Doctor Villeneuve put a
stop to further inquiry.[58]

More has probably been made of the letter to Farel, by the enemies of
Calvin, than is altogether fair. Grotius, who was the first to notice
it, says: ‘It shows that Antichrist had not appeared by Tiber only, but
by Lake Leman also.’ When Calvin wrote to Farel, however, he did not
contemplate the likelihood of Servetus ever falling into his hands.
Neither, indeed, though grievously offending, had the Spaniard yet
shown himself utterly incorrigible, a lost creature, fore-ordained of
God, as it seemed, to perdition. At the time Calvin wrote the letter of
February, 1546, to Farel

    His murder yet was but fantastical,

It was at a later period, when the guilt as he held it of the man he
persistently regarded as the enemy of God and all religion as well as
of himself, was full-blown, and the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ appeared
in print, that the threat of bygone years took the shape of present
stern resolve.

Had we but Calvin’s letter to Villeneuve, ‘written more sharply
than was his wont,’ we should, beyond question, find matter little
calculated to flatter the somewhat presumptuous self-confident man,
and may be fully as certain that the terms in which any future missive
was couched, were not more soothing or conciliatory. But Servetus
had come to look on himself as commissioned in some sort by God to
proclaim a purer form of Christianity to the world; and any assumption
of superiority on the part of Calvin, was met by a four-fold show of
independence from himself. Yet does Servetus, once embarked in the
correspondence, satisfy us that he had fallen under the spell of the
great Reformer; fascinated as it seems by him and, far from being
repelled by either his coldness or his harshness, finding it impossible
to forbear making ever new attempts upon his patience for recognition,
were it even of a little complimentary kind.

The ‘great volume full of ravings,’ spoken of in the letter to Farel,
must have been a MS. copy of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ already
written, but not perhaps finally revised. Upon this work it does
not appear that Calvin ever condescended to offer any strictures;
although it was doubtless accompanied by a letter--not printed among
the thirty--requesting an opinion on its merits. But even as he never
had anything of the kind, neither, although repeatedly asked for, both
directly and through others, as we learn, could Servetus ever get back
his manuscript. Whether retained in mere contempt, or as evidence
against the writer, with occasion presenting, as has been surmised, we
do not know; but certain it is that Calvin remained persistently deaf
to all the writer’s entreaties to have his work returned to him. If
not purposely retained in view of the contingency hinted at, it was
eventually used in such wise; for it was among the Documents furnished
by Calvin through Trie to the authorities of Vienne with the immediate
effect of bringing about the arrest of its writer and imperilling his
life.

Turn we to the letters to Calvin, less in view of their theological
import--the point from which alone they have hitherto been regarded
by the biographers of Servetus--than as calculated to let us into
the secret of the misunderstanding and enmity that took such entire
possession of the mind of the Genevese Reformer. In Servetus’s style
of address, as we have said, we at once note an entire absence of the
obsequiousness to which Calvin was accustomed. Far from approaching
the Reformer as a Gamaliel at whose feet he was to kneel and take
lessons, Servetus assumes the part, not merely of the equal, but
often of the superior, and is by no means nice in the terms in which
he challenges the points he holds erroneous in the doctrines of the
great man he is addressing. In the very first of the thirty epistles
he wrote, whilst stating an opinion which he knew Calvin must think
heretical or even blasphemous, he ‘desires him to remember--_memineris
quæso_, &c.--that the Man, Jesus Christ, was truly begotten of the
substance of God;’ and in the second of the series informs him quite
bluntly that he is mistaken in his interpretation of Paul’s Epistle to
the Romans. He even attempts to fix him on the horns of a dilemma by
showing that Calvin’s view, if accepted, would lead to the assumption
not of one Son of God, but of three Sons of God. ‘But all such
tritheistic notions,’ he continues, ‘are illusions of Satan, and they
who acknowledge the Trinity of the Beast (i.e. of Papal Christianity)
are possessed by three spirits of demons. False are all the invisible
Gods of the Trinitarians, as false as the gods of the Babylonians.
Farewell!’ This at the outset is certainly not very respectful from the
physician of Vienne to the Spiritual Dictator of Geneva!

The third epistle commences in the same easy style: ‘_Sæpius te
monui_--I have repeatedly admonished you.’ It is on the way in which
he imagines Christ to have been engendered by God, and so to be truly
and naturally His Son; adding that he has always taught the eternity
of the Divine Reason, styled The Word, as prefiguring Christ, in whose
face at the Incarnation, he says, Man first verily saw the face of
God. ‘You are offended with me,’ he proceeds, ‘for speaking as I do of
the human form of Christ; but have patience and I shall lead you up to
my conclusion--_te manducam_,’ etc. Fancy John Calvin feeling himself
taken in hand by Michael Servetus!

The fourth, sixth, and seventh epistles are remarkable for their
pantheistic views. ‘God,’ says Servetus, ‘is only known through
manifestation, or communication, in one shape or another. In Creation
God opened the gates of His Treasury of Eternity,’ says he very
grandly. ‘Containing the Essence of the Universe in Himself, God is
everywhere, and in every thing, and in such wise that he shows himself
to us as fire, as a flower, as a stone.’ Existence, in a word, of
every kind is in, and of, God, and in itself is always good; it is
act or direction that at any time is bad. But evil as well as good he
thinks is also comprised in the essence of God. This is indicated,
he conceives, by the Hebrew word, ‘π’ (ihei); and he illustrates
his position by the text: ‘I form light and create darkness.’ All
accidents, further, are in God; whatever befals is not apart from God.
Without beginning and without end, God is always becoming--_Semper est
Deus in fieri_.

In the eighth and ninth letters he informs Calvin that he ‘would have
him know how the _Logos_ and _Sapientia_, the Divine Word, the Divine
Reason, were to be understood, in order that he should not go on
abusing these sacred words;’ and it is here that we meet with various
expressions which only acquire significance when the pantheistic
ideas with which he is full are borne in mind. Here, too, we find the
reason why he would not concede that Calvin and the Reformers held the
true belief in Christ as the Son of God:--_Ille est vere filius Dei
quem in muliere genuit Deus, non ille quem tu somniasti!_ Neither did
the Reformers, in his eyes, rightly apprehend JUSTIFICATION, which,
according to him, only comes through belief in the Sonship of Christ as
he conceives it.

In the eleventh epistle he says he thinks it will be labour well
spent if he exposes the error into which his correspondent falls in
his interpretation of the Doctrine of James. Calvin and his sect, we
know, set little store by works of charity and mercy. ‘All that men
do,’ proceeds our letter-writer, ‘you say is done in sin and is mixed
with dregs that stink before God, and merit nothing but eternal death.
But therein you blaspheme. Stripping us of all possible goodness you
do violence to the teaching of Christ and his Apostles, who ascribe
perfection or the power of being perfect to us: “Be ye therefore
perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. v. 48.)
You scout this celestial perfection because you have never tasted
perfection of the kind yourself. In the works of the Saintly, I say,
there is nothing of the corruption you feign. The works of the Spirit
shine before God and before men, and in themselves are good and proper.
Thou reprobate and blasphemer, who calumniatest the works of the
Spirit--_Tu improbus et blasphemus qui opera Spiritus calumniaris!_’

Can we wonder at Calvin’s rage with the man who dared to address him in
such language as this? On his trial at Geneva Servetus tells his judges
that the correspondence between him and the Reformer degenerated by
degrees on both sides into mutual recrimination and abuse. In the above
objectionable passage we see, if not the beginning, yet a significant
sample of this unhappy style, which continues even to the end. Had we
Calvin’s letters, we should certainly find them not more guarded in
expression--for Calvin was a master of invective, with a superabundant
vocabulary of epithets at command, and never choice in the use of
those he applied to opponents--rascal, dog, ass, and swine being found
of constant occurrence among them--had there been any stronger than
scoundrel and blasphemer, they would assuredly have been hurled at
Servetus.

Referring to the subject of Justification, Calvin, as we presume, must
have said, in one of his letters, that Justification is _imputed_ by
God, and that no change takes place in him who is justified. To this
Servetus, in his thirteenth epistle, exclaims: ‘What do I hear? The
spirit of man suffers no change through sin! But if sin cause change,
then must there also be change when sin is taken away. He, forsooth,
who sits in darkness differs in nothing from him who sits in light!
Your justification is Satanic merely if the conscience within you
remains as it was before, and your new life of faith differs in nothing
from the old death. God grant, O Calvin, that, ridding you of your
magical fascinations, you may abound to overflowing in all good things;
but Peter’s disputation against Simon Magus refutes you, teaching, as
it does, the excellence of works even in the heathen. The justification
you preach, therefore, is mere magical fascination and folly.’

In another of his letters Calvin must have asked Servetus where the
Apostle John teaches that we in this world are such as was Christ?
Which his correspondent answers by referring him to the fourth chapter
of the Epistle general, where he would find these words: ‘Because as
he is, so are we in this world.’ We can fancy how vexed Calvin must
have been with himself for the slip he had made, as well as angry with
the triumph of his opponent, who continues: ‘But you neither rightly
understand Faith in Christ, nor good works, nor the Celestial Kingdom.
In the New Covenant a new and living way was inaugurated; but you, true
Jew--_tu vero Judaico_--would shame me by a show of zeal and whelm me
with contumely because I say with Christ, “He who is least shall in
this Kingdom be greater than Abraham.”’

If Calvin neither understands the nature of Faith, nor of
Justification, we shall not wonder when we find that no more is he
credited with comprehending Regeneration, ‘You have not understood
true Regeneration, nor the Celestial Kingdom, whereof Faith is the
gate. Regeneration, I maintain, comes through baptism; you say that
Christ thought nothing of the water. But is it not written that we
are born anew by water? and is it not of water that Paul speaks when
he designates baptism the Laver of Regeneration, saying, “We are
cleansed from sin by washing with water?” Men, you say, are regenerate
when they are enlightened; you must therefore concede that they who
are baptized in their infancy, being without understanding and so
unenlightened, cannot be regenerated. Yet do you contend that they
are properly baptized. Dissevering regeneration from baptism you make
baptism a sign of adoption; but you deceive yourself in this, the
Scriptures declaring that adoption is effected when to the believer is
given the spirit of the divine Sonship--πνεύμα Ὑωοθεσίος. On your own
showing, then, infants, being unregenerate, can enter the Kingdom of
Heaven neither by faith nor by hope; and thou, thief and robber--_tu
Fur et Latro_(!)--keepest them from the gate. As a prelude to Baptism
Peter required repentance. Let your infants repent, then; and do you
yourself repent and come to baptism, having true faith in Jesus
Christ--_pœniteat te igitur, et vere Jesu Christi fide ad baptismum
accede_--to the end that you may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
promised therein. But you satisfy yourself with illusions, and say that
the infants who die [unbaptized?] were predestined, impudently misusing
sacred speech as is your wont; for in the Scriptures predestination is
not spoken of save in connection with belief and believers. God, I say,
sees no one justified from eternity unless he believes.’ Let us think
of Calvin, spiritual dictator to one half of reformed Christendom,
schooled in this style by the poor body-curer of Vienne! called thief
and robber to his face, and all the more irate with his teacher from
feeling, as we fancy he must have felt, that he had not always the best
of the argument. Servetus’s dialectic is at least a match for his own.

But our restorer of Christianity has not yet done with his
pædo-baptism: the subject is continued in the next letter, which closes
with a prayer in the very finest spirit of piety, but to Calvin may
possibly have seemed profane, he having made up his mind that Servetus
was not only without religion himself, but bent on effacing religion
from the heart of man. Here is the prayer:--

‘O thou, most merciful Jesus, who with such signs of love and blessing
didst take the little ones into thine arms, bless them now and ever,
and with Thy guiding hand so lead them that in faith they may become
partakers of Thy Heavenly Kingdom. Amen!’

Calvin, we believe, treats the ‘Descent into Hell’ as legendary.
Servetus thinks the Hebrew word _Scheol_ signifies the _grave_ as well
as the traditional _hell_, and seems to make it a kind of resting-place
for the unregenerate until the resurrection. Adam, he says, by his
transgression fell both soul and body into the power of the Serpent.
But where can the soul of him be after death who is the slave of such
a master? Are not the gates of Paradise closed against him?--is not
the whole man given over to the power of the mighty tyrant? ‘Who shall
set him free? No one, assuredly, but Christ’--and so on, in terms
entirely unobjectionable, and in complete conformity with accredited
opinion; but tending, we imagine, to what is called _Universalism_,
Servetus believing, as we read him, that all men would be saved in
the end, though ordinary sinners would have to wait until the day of
Judgment. He nowhere speaks of any lake of burning brimstone, fanned
by the Devil, in which the wicked are tortured throughout eternity.
Annihilation, with him, is the penalty of unpardonable sin.

The Twentieth Epistle is especially interesting as showing us the
very heart of the writer; letting us into his secret, as it were,
and showing us the ideas that led him to his scheme of restoring the
lapsed faith of mankind in Christ as the naturally begotten Son of
God, and of reconstituting his Church, long vanished from the face of
the earth. The true Church, however, is not to be thought of as an
institution made by man, but as a foundation originated by Christ.
And the question as to where this true Church exists, is not difficult
of determination if the authority of the Scriptures be admitted as
paramount in matters of belief. But the authority of the Scriptures,
and of the true Church represented by those purified by the water of
baptism and governed by the Holy Spirit, he says, is equal ‘_The true
Church of Christ, indeed, is independent of the Scriptures. There was
a Church of Christ before there was any writing of the Apostles._ But
where is now the Church? Ever present in celestial spirits and the
souls of the blest, it fled from earth as many as 1260 years ago. It
is in heaven, and typified by the woman adorned with the sun and the
twelve stars (Revelation). Invisible among us now, it will again be
seen before long. We with ours, the congregation of Christ, will be
the Church. Towards the restoration of this Church it is that I labour
incessantly; and it is because I mix myself up with that battle of
Michael and the Angels, and seek to have all the pious on my side,
that you are displeased with me. As the good angels did battle in
heaven against the Dragon, so do other angels now contend against the
Papacy on earth. Do you not believe that the angels will prevail? But
as the Dragon could not, so neither can the Papacy, be worsted without
the angels. The celestial regeneration by baptism it is that makes us
equals of the angels in our war with spiritual iniquity. See you not,
then, that the question is the restoration of the Church driven from
among us? The words of John show us that a battle was in prospect:
seduction was to precede, the battle was to follow; and the time is now
at hand. Who, think you, are they who shall gain the victory over the
Beast? They, assuredly, who have not received his mark. Grant, O God,
to thy soldier that with thy might he may manfully bear him against the
Dragon, who gave such power to the Beast. Amen!’

In the above we have the whole mystical being of the man laid bare
before us, and the nature of the cause in which he was engaged made
known. Servetus certainly believed that he was an instrument in the
hand of God for proclaiming a better saving faith to the world. It was
by a certain Divine impulse, he says himself, that he was led to his
subject, and woe to him did he not evangelise! He seems even to have
thought that he had his vocation shadowed out to him in his name. The
angel Michael led the embattled hosts of heaven to war against the
Dragon; and he, Michael Servetus, had been chosen to lead the angels
on earth against Antichrist! The Roman interpretation of Christianity,
with its Pope and hierarchy, its assumed sovereignty, its pompous
ceremonial and ritualistic apparatus, had failed to make the world
either wiser or better; the entire system was rotten to the core; hence
the revolt of such scholarly monks as Erasmus and Luther, and of such
learned priests as Zwingli, Calvin, Melanchthon, Bullinger, Bucer, and
the rest. But they, too, still showed more or less of the ‘mark of the
Beast.’ They had rid themselves of the Mass and Transubstantiation, of
compromises for sin by payments in money, of monkeries, nunneries, the
invocation of saints, prayers to the Virgin, and so on; but they had
retained much that was objectionable--particularly a Trinity of persons
in the Godhead (tantamount, said Servetus, to the recognition of three
Gods instead of one God), and infant baptism.

By their strenuous insistance on the effects of Adam’s transgression
as compromising mankind at large, and Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice
his only son, they had moreover interspersed the religion of Christ
with such an amount of Judaism that their Christianity was in many
respects a relapse into the bonds of the Law, from which Christ had set
us free. A reformation of the Church had been commenced, therefore,
but was by no means completed; much still remained to be done; the
world was waiting, in fact, for a better interpretation of Christ’s
life and doctrine as contained in the Gospels, and this the studies
and meditations of Michael Servetus, he believed, qualified him in no
mean measure to supply. Hence the books on Trinitarian Error and the
Restoration of Christianity; and hence, also, the hostility of Calvin
and his followers, who were minded that they had already reformed and
restored, and verily represented, or were in fact, the true Church.

Like the leaders of other bands of enthusiasts of which the world
has seen so many, Servetus, relying on the New Testament record,
thought that the day was at hand when Christ should appear in the
clouds to judge the world and consummate all things. He overlooked
the fact that Paul, whom he resembled in so many respects, had had
the same fancy fifteen hundred years before him, and that matters had
nevertheless gone on much as they had always done, without the day of
judgment having dawned. Calvin with his educated understanding and
his experience of the world, ought to have seen Servetus as the pious
enthusiast he was in fact, and not as the enemy of God and Religion,
as well as of himself. Failing to cure him of his extravagant fancies,
he might safely have left him to indulge them, as being little likely
to compromise his own or any other system of Christianity, the Papacy
perhaps excepted, to which the would-be Restorer was truly much more
violently opposed than the Reformer. But hate had blinded Calvin;
considerations personal to himself had complicated and in some sort
superseded such as were associated with religion.

On the subject of Faith, to which Calvin’s system gave much less free
play than Luther’s, we find Servetus siding with him of the North
rather than him of the South. Neither of them, however, as we have
seen, had any conception of faith in the way Servetus understood
it. Faith, says he, consists in a certain compliant state of mind,
proclaimed by unquestioning assent. This, the true saving faith, is
of the kind avowed by Peter when he declared Jesus to be the Christ,
the Son of the living God. Yet faith even of this kind, distinctly as
it has the lead in Servetus’s Christology, is not yet all in all: to
become efficient or saving, it must be conjoined with Charity. ‘If
faith be not clothed with charity,’ says he, ‘it dies in nakedness;
and as habit is strengthened by action, the body by exercise, and
the understanding by study, so is faith strengthened by good works.’
The subject-will and fatalism, asserted by Calvin in his doctrine of
predestination and election, have therefore no real foundation in
Scripture; nay more, there is unreason in the assumption of such a
principle, and in the admonition given to mankind to do that which it
must be known beforehand they cannot do. ‘You speak,’ says our writer,
‘of free acts, yet really say that there is no such thing as free
action. But who so devoid of understanding as to prescribe free choice
to one incapable of choosing freely! It is mere fatuity besides to
derive subject-will from this: that it is God who acts in us. Truly God
does act in us; but in such wise that we act freely. He acts in us so
that we understand and will, choose, determine, and pursue. Even as all
things consist essentially in God, so do all things proceed essentially
from him. The Spirit of God is innate in man, and as the power to do is
one thing, so is the necessity to do another. Although God elects us as
the potter does his clay, it by no means follows that we are nothing
more than clay. Paul’s simile deceives you; it is not universally
applicable.’

The Law of Moses, Calvin has said, is still in force and to be observed
by us as truly as it was by the Jews; violating it, he says, we
violate the Law of God. Servetus’s reply to this is the burden of the
Twenty-third and three following Letters. ‘I fancy I hear some Jew or
Mussulman speaking here,’ says our respondent. ‘But to what is violence
done--is it to a stone, or to certain letters cut in a stone? Christ,
I say, accomplished the Law and then it was abrogated; in him we have
the New Covenant, the Old superseded; in him are we made free. The law
of Moses was unbearable; it slew the soul, it increased sin, it begat
anger; virtue itself through it became at times transgression, and
in compassion for our frailty it was annulled. You make God exercise
a rude and miserable people in a mill-round. What would you say were
some tyrant to require mountains of gold or the stars of heaven from
your Genevese, and threaten them with death for non-compliance with
his demands? But the Old Law bound men to impossibilities. Art thou
not then ashamed of slavery and tyrannical violence? Insisting on the
observance of this law, you yet go on dreaming with your Luther, and
saying that no one ever entirely fulfilled the commandment which says
“thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and soul.”
David and others, then, who said that they sought God with all their
heart and strove with all their might to keep his commandments,
are but liars to you. _And what, after all, are the laws of Moses?
If conformable to Nature then are they the laws of God, the author
of Nature, older than Moses, and to be observed of Christians
independently of Moses._ But God never required obedience of the kind
you imagined; he but asks of each according to his strength. Cease
then, O Calvin, to torture us with the law of Moses, and to insist on
its observance. It looks as if you had a mind to be pitied of God in
your impotency--of God who may be said so often to have had to take
pity on the Jews when they were under the law.’ Who shall say that
Michael Servetus was not in advance of John Calvin?

The twenty-seventh, eighth, and ninth epistles are only significant
as expositions of doctrinal views in their bearing on social life.
Is it lawful, he asks, for a Christian to assume the magistracy? to
administer the laws of the land and to take the lives of evil-doers? Of
course it is. The order of the world is maintained by law and justice.
But then to take life? Where there is hope of amendment, as in the case
of the woman taken in adultery, we see the penalty of death remitted:
Go, said Jesus to her, and sin no more. But even where there is malice
and unyielding obstinacy, recourse is to be had to chastisement of
other kinds than taking life. Among these, banishment, approved by
Christ, and excommunication, practised by the Church, are to be
commended. Schism and heresy were punished in this way whilst traces
of apostolic tradition remained. Criminals, in matters not pertaining
to the faith, are variously punished by the laws of every country; and
this is in conformity with natural law. They bear the sword aright and
lawfully who bear it in the cause of justice and to the repression of
crime; and it is not against gospel precepts that we serve as soldiers
in defence of our lives and possessions.

Servetus, we find, accords rather extensive powers to Bishops, whom,
in opposition to Calvin, he recognises, and to Ministers of the Church
generally. Bishops, like good shepherds, are to know their flocks, and
to take care that no infection gets in among them; ministers again--he
does not use the word priests--are privileged to reconcile sinners to
God, and to punish unbelievers by excommunicating them and delivering
them over to Satan and spiritual death. Their authority, however, is
only to be exercised under the guidance of the Spirit--what spirit he
does not say. Confession, too, he approves of, but the minister is not
to be consulted save in case of some grave doubt or difficulty arising.

Our writer is greatly displeased with Calvin’s interpretation of the
parable of the labourers in the vineyard, in which like wages are given
to those hired at every hour of the day; from which the Reformer infers
that there is no difference or distinction in glory, in faith, or in
works. ‘To you truly,’ says Servetus, ‘there needs no distinction as
to less or more; for with you these are all alike of non-avail, some
as you maintain being saved with, as some are saved without, merit of
their own. But it is faith that of the impious makes the pious, of the
dead the living. Ignorant of all gospel truth is he who does not attach
supreme significance to faith in Christ as the Son of God.’

The concluding epistle of the series must have given great offence to
Calvin, the writer reproaching him with setting the Christian on no
higher level than the vulgar Jew. ‘They are alike to you, indeed, alike
carnal, because to you are the benefits of Christ’s coming unknown;
to you who in the Supper partake of nothing more than a trope or
figure, and who treat baptism as the equivalent of a Levitical rite,
the sign of a thing that is not. But in the Supper we, nourished by
immortal food, for a terrestrial have a new celestial life imparted
to us, and how should he perish who has once partaken of Christ? May
God give you to receive all these things with a true understanding,
led by the spirit of truth, by Jesus Christ and the Father. Amen.’
Scouting the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, as he did, we
here find Servetus speaking as if he believed that it was the body of
Christ indeed that was partaken of in the Supper! To understand this
in him his pantheistic notions must again be taken into account. But
pantheism, when not detached from the idea of _personality_, in the
usual acceptation of the word, leads inevitably to such absurdity.
Speaking as he does now, Servetus forgets his philosophy and yields
himself up to his mysticism. With as much justice might he have said
that Cannibals partake of God when they eat one another, as that the
Christian communicant partakes of Christ when he joins the simple,
solemn, commemorative feast.



CHAPTER XVII.

‘CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO’--THE RESTORATION OF CHRISTIANITY--DISCOVERY
OF THE PULMONARY CIRCULATION.


We have seen that Servetus could never recover his MS. of the
Restoration of Christianity from the hands of Calvin. But he had not
sent his work for the review of the Reformer without retaining a copy
for himself, and this he determined now to have printed and sent
abroad into the world. With this view he forwarded the Manuscript to
a publisher of Basle, Marrinus by name, with whom--if we may infer so
much from the address of the publisher’s letter to him declining the
work--he must have been on terms of intimacy. Marrinus’s letter is
short, to the point, and in the following terms:--

‘Gratia et pax a Deo, Michael carissime!--the grace and peace of God be
with you, dearest Michael! I have received your letter and your book;
but I fancy that on reflection you will see why it cannot be published
at Basle at this present time. When I have perused it [more carefully]
I shall therefore return it to you by the accredited messenger you
may send for it. But I beg you not to question my friendly feelings
towards you. To what you say besides I shall reply at greater length
and more particularly on another occasion. Farewell! Thy

  MARRINUS.

  ‘Basle, April 9, 1552.’

The MS., even on a cursory perusal, had evidently frightened the worthy
publisher of Basle: he would have nothing to do with it; but this did
not put our author from his purpose of publication. Not going so far
afield as Basle, he took Balthasar Arnoullet, bookseller and publisher,
and William Geroult, manager of his printing establishment, both of
Vienne, into his confidence, giving them to understand that though the
book he wished to have printed was against the doctrines of Luther,
Calvin, Melanchthon, and other heretics, there were many reasons why
neither his name as the author, nor Vienne as the place of publication,
should appear on the title-page.

Arnoullet, like Marrinus, must have had misgivings about the reception
the book was likely to meet with from the clergy of France, and, aware
of the danger he incurred who printed and published aught out of
conformity with the doctrines of the holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic
Church, he too must have declined in the first instance to undertake
the work. But Michel Villeneuve had been prosperous; he had money in
his purse, and engaging not only to take the whole of the expenses on
himself, but to add a gratuity of 100 crowns to the cost, Arnoullet
consented at last to run the risk of publication, meaning, however,
that the world at large should know nothing of him as instrumental in
the business. No one then knew that Secerius of Hagenau had printed
the ‘De Trinitatis Erroribus,’ or that its author, Michael Servetus,
was Doctor Villeneuve. Why should it ever transpire that Balthasar
Arnoullet of Vienne had printed the ‘Restitutio Christianismi,’ or
that Monsieur Michel Villeneuve the physician was its writer? To keep
the secret within their own circle, therefore, the work must not
be composed in the usual place of business, and none but the most
indispensable hands be employed upon it. A small house, away from the
known printing establishment, was accordingly taken; type cases and
a press were there set up, and the work once entered on proceeded
regularly without interruption during a period of between three and
four months, when the impression, consisting of 1,000 copies, was
successfully worked off.

Arnoullet, although we shall by and by find him declaring his entire
ignorance of the burden of the book, and charging his manager, Geroult,
with having deceived him on this head and by misrepresentations induced
him to meddle with the publication at all, must nevertheless have been
well aware of its nature. The measures taken to keep the outside world
in ignorance of what was going on, the arrangement with the author to
be his own reader for press, and the premium paid, give the lie to
all his asseverations. Servetus, too, in his determination to keep
his name from the title-page, and leave this blank of the place of
publication, shows that neither was he blind to the danger that waited
on the production of such a book as the Restoration of Christianity
in Roman Catholic France. The printing press, though eagerly welcomed
on all hands at first, soon fell out of favour with the Church of
Rome, and so continues with that conspiracy against the rights, the
liberties, and the progress of mankind. But Michael Servetus was too
vain, too thoroughly persuaded of his own apostolic mission to the
world, to leave his book, the crowning labour of his life, without some
sufficient mark of its paternity. On the last page, accordingly, we
find the initials of his name and designation in capital letters, thus,
M.S.V., immediately over the date MDLIII., the year of the intended
publication. But even so much was not wanted to proclaim the author.
Innocently or inadvertently he says in his Preface that he had formerly
treated briefly of the subjects he is now about to discuss at greater
length; and in the body of the work he may even be said to make his
appearance in person, and in his proper name; for we there have Michael
and Peter as interlocutors, precisely as in the old ‘Dialogi ij de
Trinitate’ of the year 1532.

Printed with every precaution to secure secrecy, with nothing
intentionally about it to lead the uninitiated to suspect what was
meant by the M.S.V. at the end, or a hint, even had it been divined
that Michael Servetus Villanovanus was thereby indicated, to show that
he and Michel Villeneuve of Vienne were one and the same personage, it
is obvious that the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ was not intended for
publication or sale either in Vienne or France--probably not even in
Basle or Geneva, in the first instance. Villeneuve would keep the place
where he lived, and the country that sheltered him, as well as the
nearest neighbouring land, out of the storm which he plainly foresaw
would be raised by his daring innovations on accredited Christian
doctrine, and his more than Luther-like denunciations of the Papacy.
The whole impression was therefore made up into bales of 100 copies in
each, of which five were confided to the safe keeping of Pierre Merrin,
typefounder of Lyons--a brother in all likelihood of the Marrinus of
Basle, with whose name we are already acquainted--in view of their
being forwarded by water to Genoa and Venice. A bale or two we know
were sent by Arnoullet to his agent at Frankfort; and as Frelon was now
in the secret of Servetus, we can hardly doubt of his having taken some
share in the venture and despatched at least a bale to the same great
emporium of the book trade. It must have been from Frelon, indeed, that
Calvin by and by obtained the couple of copies of the ‘Restitutio’ he
required for the purposes of the prosecution he had instituted against
its author; and it is almost certainly to him, not to Robert Etienne,
the bookseller of Geneva, as has been said, that Calvin refers in
his letter to the Frankfort Clergy ‘as a well-disposed person who
will put no obstacle in the way of the seizure and destruction of the
obnoxious book which he has learned had been sent for exposition and
sale among them.’ The remainder of the impression--and there could now
have been little of it left on hand--for safe stowage away from the
Archiepiscopal city of Vienne, was confided by Arnoullet to the custody
of a friend, Bertet by name, resident at Chatillon.[59]

The book on the ‘Restoration of Christianity,’[60] often spoken
of, though so rare as seldom to be seen, comprises a series of
disquisitions on the speculative and practical principles of
Christianity, as apprehended by the author; thirty letters to John
Calvin; a disquisition on as many as sixty signs of the reign of
Antichrist, and an apologetic address to Philip Melanchthon and his
followers.

‘The task we have set ourselves here,’ says the Author in his Preface
or Introduction, ‘is truly sublime; for it is no less than to make
God known in his substantial manifestation by The Word and his divine
communication by the Spirit, both comprised in Christ, through whom
alone do we learn how the divineness of the Word and the Spirit may
be apprehended in Man. Hidden from human sight in former times, God
is now both manifested and communicated to the world, manifestation
taking place by the Word, communication by the Spirit, to the end
that we may see him face to face as it were in Creation, and feel him
intuitively but lucidly declared in ourselves. It is high time that
the door leading to knowledge of this kind were opened; for otherwise
no one can either know God truly, read the Scriptures aright, or be a
Christian.’

How much the writer is in earnest is farther proclaimed by the
Invocation to Christ and the Address to the Reader with which he
concludes his Introduction: ‘O Christ Jesus, Son of God, Thou Who
wast given to us from heaven, Thou Who in Thyself makest Deity
visibly manifest, I, Thy servant, now proclaim Thee, that so great a
manifestation may be made known to all. Grant then to Thy petitioner
Thy good Spirit and Thy effectual Speech; guide Thou his mind and his
pen that he may worthily declare the glory of Thy Divinity, and give
pious utterance to the true faith concerning Thee. The cause indeed is
Thine, for by a certain Divine impulse it is that I am led to speak of
Thy Glory from the Father. In former days did I begin to treat of this,
and again do I enter upon it; for now am I to be made known to all the
pious; now truly are the days complete, as appears from the certainty
of the thing itself and the visible signs of the times. The Light Thou
hast said is not to be hidden; so woe to me do I not evangelise!

‘It rests with thee, then, O Reader, that thou show thyself well
disposed towards Christ, even to the End, and that thou hear our
subject discussed at length in words of truth without disguise.’

After a somewhat careful perusal of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’
we know not how it could be better or more briefly characterised,
in its theoretical portion at least, than as a paraphrase and
new interpretation of the Gospel according to John, in which the
Neo-platonic doctrine of the Logos is particularly discussed, and
copiously interfused with pantheistic ideas, whilst the dogmatic
teaching of the Church of Rome and its practical application is
repudiated _in toto_, and the chief doctrines of Lutheran and
Calvinistic Christianity are controverted.

Assuming the leading positions of the writer as guides, we should say
that in his philosophy he regards the world as a manifestation and
communication of God in time and space, manifestation taking place,
as he says, through the Word, communication through the agency called
Spirit. The first of things in which God showed Himself, he says, was
Light, which he speaks of as uncreated--_lux increata_, essence or
first principle of things--all existence, all generation being effected
by the energising power of light. In, and of, and first manifested
by light, God, however, is not identified therewith, any more than
with the things of creation, in all of which he is still held to be
immanent. God indeed in himself is supersensuous and incomprehensible,
for he transcends all things--mind as well as matter. When not sought
to be defined by negatives, God is to be thought of as Absolute Being,
and all existence, as deriving from him, is to be accounted divine,
although in diverse degrees.

The manifold manifestations which God makes of himself in nature are
referred to a single dispensation or mode, the mode of the Plenitude of
Substance, which comprises all other modes or dispensations in their
endless diversity, patterns or types of all things that be having
been present in the mind of God before they were in themselves. An
architypal universe is therefore assumed as having existed before the
actual world came into being, and this, says Servetus, is the Logos
of Scripture and Philosophy--the Divine Reason, wherein reflected
all things showed themselves visibly. _Ea ipsa erat λὀγος erat ratio
mirifica in qua omnia visibiliter relucebat._ The Logos--Divine
Word, Divine Wisdom, God himself, in fact--it is that is revealed
or manifested in Creation, as in the fulness of time it also became
incarnate in Christ; for, even as before Creation the world existed
ideally in God, so before the incarnation was Christ potentially
present in the Divine mind as the Divine word, in the same way as the
future plant is extant in the seed. From the beginning, therefore, it
was a virtual or potential Son, not any actual co-eternal Son, who
existed beside the Father, the Son first acquiring form and substance
in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and being made participant of the
Holy Spirit at the moment of his birth when he began to breathe; for
Servetus assimilated the abstraction entitled Spirit to breath or wind:
God, say the Scriptures, breathed into the nostrils of man and he
became a living soul.

Possessed, as he was, by the principles of the Neo-platonic and
other more ancient philosophies, Servetus assimilates Christ to
the Demiurgos, and makes of him the architect and fashioner of the
world--_ille mundi Architectus Christus_--Creator even of the elements
from which, intermingled, are educed the substantial forms of things.
How this was brought about if Christ only became a reality at his
birth, he does not say. But it is not a little interesting to note how
nearly our own Great King of transcendental song approaches some of
these fancies of our author, for Milton too speaks of Light as

            Offspring of heaven firstborn,
    Or of the eternal coeternal beam;
                 Since God is light,
    And never but in unapproached light,
    Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
    Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

A little further on he also has the Son as Agent in Creation:--

    And thou, my Word, begotten Son, by thee
    This I perform: speak thou and be it done.

Creation ended, he continues:--

    The filial Son arrived and sat him down
    With his great Father!

Into what labyrinths are men led when they give the rein to
imagination, and the demon of speculation divorced from science is
suffered to have his uncontrolled way!

       *       *       *       *       *

Coming to a more particular analysis of the ‘Restitutio,’ we find the
first book treating of the man Jesus, in which he is shown to be, 1st,
Man; 2nd, Son of God; and 3rd, God.

I. The name Jesus [Joshua, Hebraice], says Servetus, is the name of a
man and was given on the day of the Circumcision; the cognomen Christ
[Χρίστος, Græce, the anointed], was bestowed by the Disciples, but
never admitted by the Jews, who only knew Jesus as the son of Joseph.
There was indeed frequent discussion among the disciples themselves,
whether Jesus was the Messiah or not; and we know that kings, in virtue
of the anointing at their coronation, were entitled Christs--Cyrus, for
instance, is called Masach by the Prophet, the word Christ being no
more than the Hebrew title translated into Greek.

II. It is as a Son of God,--υἵος Θεοῦ--that Jesus is spoken of in the
Scriptures. But if so, then is he to be thought of as engendered by
God as thou by thy father. God, it is true, is in a certain sense the
Father of all men as he is of Jesus; but we are his sons by adoption
as Jesus is his Son by nature. Jesus, indeed, was believed to be
the son of Joseph, but he was truly the Son of God, having, without
any sophistry, been engendered of his substance: the Word of God
overshadowed the Virgin like a cloud, and acted in her as generative
dew, comparable to the shower from heaven that causes the earth to
bring forth flowers and fruit. It follows, therefore, that the son of
the Virgin is also truly, naturally, the Son of God.

III. Christ is God, and is so called because in him is God
substantially, corporeally present; for he is God by his geniture as
by his flesh he is man (p. 15), God and man being truly conjoined in
one substance and made one body, one new man. As the Father is true
God, so, in bestowing his divineness (_Deitas_) on his only Son, did he
cause it to be that the Son should be true God.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having spoken of God and Christ, he treats next of the Trinity. In the
beginning, it is said, was the word, Ὁ λὀγος, an expression whereby
inward Reason and outward Speech are implied. Some, says the writer,
have held that God can be defined no otherwise than by negations: ears
have not heard God speak, save by the voice of man; hands have not
touched Him, for He is incorporeal; place holds Him not, for He cannot
be circumscribed; and time gives no measure of Him, for, infinite, He
is without beginning and without end. But all this only speaks of what
God is not; it does not teach what God is. Now, no one knows God who
is ignorant of the mode in which He has willed to manifest Himself to
us, plainly exposed though it be in the sacred oracles. These, however,
the Sophists do not believe, because they will not see God in Christ
(p. 111). In the Word made flesh, in the face of Jesus Christ it is
that we see the Light--God Himself--shining upon us. In thinking of the
engenderment of Christ, and his appearance on earth, the veil of any
intervening time is to be rejected; Christ being to be conceived of as
having been eternally engendered in the mind of God, but only begotten
of his substance in time in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The man Christ
is therefore, and because of this, fitly spoken of as the first-born
Son of God, begotten before all worlds (pp. 56, 57), substantially
visible before creation, and possessed of eternal substance--_visibilem
cum_ (_Christum_) _substantialiter ante omnia fuisse et substantiam
æternam habere_ (p. 57)--the meaning of which we imagine to be this:
that the idea of Christ, present in the mind of God from eternity, took
form by his immediate agency in the womb of Mary, the wife of Joseph,
whose son the man Jesus was believed by his contemporaries to be,
though he was indeed the Son of God.

One of the items of transcendental belief, therefore, in which Servetus
differed wholly from the Reformers, had reference to the coeternity
of the Father and the Son. On this head he says particularly, ‘If
there were in eternity two incorporeal beings alike and equal, then
were these Twins rather than a Father and Son; and were a third Entity
added, like and equal to the other two, then were there a threefold
Geryon produced.’ These words, and others of corresponding import, were
found highly objectionable or blasphemous by the Reformers, as we have
already had occasion to say.

In connection with this part of his subject the writer adds several of
the comments he had appended to the Pagnini Bible, particularly the one
in which he discusses the verse of Isaiah, beginning: ‘A virgin shall
conceive and bear a son,’ &c., in which he maintains that the Almah,
the marriageable woman mentioned, refers immediately to Abija, the
youthful wife of Ahaz, then pregnant with Hezekiah.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus far advanced, it is now that we find the pantheistic conceptions
of our author most fully enunciated. Referring to the words quoted by
St. Paul, ‘In God we live, and move, and have our being,’ Servetus
maintains that God is in all things, and all things are in God; in his
own words, ‘It is God who gives its ESSE or essential being to every
existing thing--to inanimate creation, to living creatures in general,
and to man in especial.’

       *       *       *       *       *

The fifth book treats of the Holy Spirit. ‘As the essence of God is
the Word,’ says our author, ‘in so far as manifestation is made in
the world, so, and in so far as communication is made, it is Spirit;
manifestation and communication, however, being ever co-ordinate and
conjoined. It is spirit that is the architype, eternally present in
God, from whom it proceeds’ (p. 163). And it is in this place that our
author explains or illustrates some of his metaphysical positions by
a reference to Anatomy, with which in various interesting particulars
he shows himself more satisfactorily intelligible than in his
transcendental speculations.

‘There is commonly said to be a threefold spirit in the body of man,
derived from the substance of the three superior elements--a natural,
a vital, and an animal spirit; there are, however, not really three,
but only two distinct spirits. One of these, the first, characterised
as _natural_, is communicated from the arteries to the veins by
their anastomoses, and is primarily associated with the blood, the
proper seat or home of which is the liver and veins. The second is
the _vital_ spirit, whose seat or dwelling-place is the heart and
arteries. The third, the _animal_ spirit, comparable to a ray of light,
has its home in the brain and nerves. In each and all of these is the
force--_energeia_--of the one spirit and light of God comprised. Now,
that the natural spirit is imparted from the heart to the liver, and
not from the liver to the heart, is proclaimed by the formation of man
in the womb; for we see an artery associate with a vein sent from the
mother through the navel of the fœtus; and in the adult body we always
find an artery and a vein conjoined. But it was truly into the heart of
Adam that God breathed the breath of life or the soul. From the heart,
therefore, it is that life is communicated to the liver; for by the
breathing into the mouth and nostrils it was that the soul was first
truly imparted, the breath tending directly to the heart.

‘The heart is the first organ that lives, and, situate in the middle of
the body, is the source of its heat. From the liver the heart receives
the liquor, the material as it were of life, and in turn gives life
to the source of the supply. The material of life is therefore derived
from the liver; but, elaborated as you shall hear, by a most admirable
process, it comes to pass that the life itself is in the blood--yea
that the blood is the life, as God himself declares (Genes. ix.; Levit.
xvii.; Deut. xii.).

‘Rightly to understand the question here, the first thing to be
considered is the substantial generation of the vital spirit--a
compound of the inspired air with the most subtle portion of the blood.
The vital spirit has, therefore, its source in the left ventricle
of the heart, the lungs aiding most essentially in its production.
It is a fine attenuated spirit, elaborated by the power of heat, of
a crimson colour and fiery potency--the lucid vapour as it were of
the blood, substantially composed of water, air, and fire; for it is
engendered, as said, by the mingling of the inspired air with the
more subtle portion of the blood which the right ventricle of the
heart communicates to the left. This communication, however, does not
take place through the septum, partition or midwall of the heart, as
commonly believed, but by another admirable contrivance, the blood
being transmitted from the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary vein, by
a lengthened passage through the lungs, in the course of which it is
elaborated and becomes of a crimson colour. Mingled with the inspired
air in this passage, and freed from fuliginous vapours by the act of
expiration, the mixture being now complete in every respect, and the
blood become fit dwelling-place of the vital spirit, it is finally
attracted by the diastole, and reaches the left ventricle of the heart.

‘Now that the communication and elaboration take place in the lungs
in the manner described, we are assured by the conjunctions and
communications of the pulmonary artery with the pulmonary vein. The
great size of the pulmonary artery seems of itself to declare how the
matter stands; for this vessel would neither have been of such a size
as it is, nor would such a force of the purest blood have been sent
through it to the lungs for their nutrition only; neither would the
heart have supplied the lungs in such fashion, seeing as we do that the
lungs in the fœtus are nourished from another source--those membranes
or valves of the heart not coming into play until the hour of birth,
as Galen teaches. The blood must consequently be poured in such large
measure at the moment of birth from the heart to the lungs for another
purpose than the nourishment of these organs. Moreover, it is not
simply air, but air mingled with blood that is returned from the lungs
to the heart by the pulmonary vein.

‘It is in the lungs, consequently, that the mixture [of the inspired
air with the blood] takes place, and it is in the lungs also, not in
the heart, that the crimson colour of the blood is acquired. There
is not indeed capacity or room enough in the left ventricle of the
heart for so great and important an elaboration, neither does it
seem competent to produce the crimson colour. To conclude, the septum
or middle partition of the heart, seeing that it is without vessels
and special properties, is not fitted to permit and accomplish the
communication and elaboration in question, although it may be that some
transudation takes place through it. It is by a mechanism similar to
that by which the transfusion from the _vena portæ_ to the _vena cava_
takes place in the liver, in respect of the blood, that the transfusion
from the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary vein takes place in the
lungs, in respect of the spirit.

‘The vital spirit (elaborated in the manner described) is at length
transfused from the left ventricle of the heart to the arteries of the
body at large, and in such a way that the more attenuated portion tends
upwards, and undergoes further elaboration in the retiform plexus of
vessels situated at the base of the brain, in which the _vital_ begins
to be changed into the _animal_ spirit, reaching as it now does the
proper seat of the rational soul. Here, still further sublimated and
elaborated by the igneous power of the soul, the blood is distributed
to those extremely minute vessels or capillary arteries composing the
choroid plexus, which contain or are the seat of the soul itself.
The arterial plexus penetrates even the most intimate part of the
brain, its constituent vessels, interwoven in highly complex fashion,
being distributed over the ventricles, and sent to the origins of the
nerves which subserve the faculties of sensation and motion. Most
wonderfully and delicately interwoven, these vessels, although spoken
of as arteries, are really the terminations of arteries proceeding to
the origins of nerves in the meninges. They are in truth a new kind
of vessels; for, as in the transfusion from arteries to veins within
the lungs we find a new kind of vessels proceeding from the arteries
and veins, so, in the transfusion from arteries to nerves, is there a
new kind of vessels produced from the arterial coats and the cerebral
meninges.’ ‘Chr. Rest.’ p. 170.

There can be no question as to the fact that, in the above quotation,
the passage of the blood from the right to the left side of the heart
through the lungs by the pulmonary artery and vein, is proclaimed,
and a farther transmission of its more subtle part at least from the
left ventricle of the heart to the arteries of the body is indicated.
After so much said, however, the account halts. There is no notice of
any transfusion from the arteries to the veins of the body, and so
of a _return_ of the blood by their means to the right side of the
heart--nor do we believe that anything of the kind was present to the
mind of the writer. The truth is that Servetus was not thinking of
a circulation of the blood in the sense in which we understand the
term, but of a means of engendering the vital and animal spirits. ‘The
blood,’ he says happily and well, ‘is not sent to the lungs in such
large quantity for their nourishment only. As in the fœtus, so in the
adult are they nourished from another quarter.’ To Servetus as to his
age the liver was the fountain of the blood, and the venous system
connected with it the channel by which materials for the growth and
nourishment of the body were supplied. The heart again was the source
of the heat of the body, and, with the concurrence of the lungs, the
elaboratory of the vital spirits; the arterial system in connexion with
it being the channel by which the spirit that gives life and special
endowment to the bodily organs is distributed.

Though Servetus saw that the black blood which is attracted, as he
says, by the diastole of the heart from the vena cava acquires the
florid colour in its passage through the lungs, he never hints at
the black blood of the systemic veins having been the florid blood
of the arteries. We are not, however, to overlook his remark, though
it is only by the way, of ‘the natural spirits being communicated
from the arteries to the veins by their _anastomoses_.’ Servetus may
consequently have had an _intimation_ of the systemic circulation; but
he did not think out his thought. He does not speak of an intermediate
system of vessels between the arteries and veins of the body as of
certain other corresponding vessels of the lungs; and when we find
him making the arteries of the brain terminate in the nerves or
meninges--the source of the nerves to the old physiologists, we can
only conclude that he believed the arteries of the body to end in like
manner in the several tissues to which they are distributed. From what
he says further concerning the life of the fœtus in utero, we learn
positively that Servetus had not divined the systemic circulation. ‘The
embryo lives through the soul of the mother,’ says he, ‘it is as it
were a part of the mother, the vital spirit being communicated to it by
the umbilical arteries.’ Instead of _afferent_ canals of the blood from
the heart of the fœtus to the placenta of the mother, consequently,
Servetus believed the umbilical arteries to be _efferent_ channels of
the vital spirit of the mother to the heart of the fœtus. He at the
same time, doubtless, saw the umbilical veins as the channels by which
material for its growth and nutrition was brought from the mother to
be distributed by the venous system proceeding from the liver and vena
cava, in conformity with the physiological views of his age. Servetus
did not think of the fœtal heart save as the passive recipient of life.
He never heard its rapid tick tack, nor dreamt of it any more than he
did of the heart of the adult as the agent in the general distribution
of the blood in a great circle from arteries to veins, from veins to
arteries, unbroken in the embryo, but complicated when independent life
is assumed by the necessary passage through the lungs.

Imperfectly, incompletely, therefore, as the great function of the
circulation is conceived by Servetus, his account of so much of it as
belongs to the pulmonary system is all his own and an immense advance
on aught that had been imagined before. Had his ‘Restoration of
Christianity’ been suffered to get abroad in the world and into the
hands of anatomists, we can hardly imagine that the immortality which
now attaches so truly and deservedly to the great name of Harvey would
have been reserved for him. But save to a few theologians, who gave
no heed to his physiological speculations, Servetus’s book remained
unknown in the republic of letters, for more than a century after it
had fallen from the press--no naturalist had seen it during all that
time. So effectually had it been hunted out and made away with, that
of the thousand copies printed, two only, as we have seen, are now
known to survive. The ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ of Michael Servetus,
consequently, never influenced either speculation or discovery in
connection with the circulation of the blood. But reading the book
as we are now suffered to do, let us not overlook in its author the
Physiological Genius of his age. Who shall say what amount of influence
the ‘Restoration of Christianity’ might have had upon both Science
and Religion had it been suffered to see the light! For it is not the
possession only, but the pursuit of truth that truly ennobles man; and
in Servetus’s incomplete induction in the sphere of physics we see
the path fairly entered on that has given to modern science all its
triumphs. Nor pause we here: in the domain of letters and criticism,
he is nowise less in advance of his age than in physiology. Who
among biblical scholars before Servetus had seen the applicability
of so much that is said in the Psalms and prophetical books of the
Jewish Scriptures to men and events contemporaneous with, when they
had not preceded, the times in which their authors lived? Servetus’s
contemporaries among the Reformers without exception set out from the
_letter_ of the New Testament as the source of their faith, the warrant
for the conclusions they built upon its text. But he declared that
_there was a Christian Doctrine before there was any New Testament_;
and we now know that this came not into existence until thirty, forty,
sixty, and in parts as many as 150, years had passed after the great
moral teacher of Nazareth had expiated his superiority to the shows and
superstitions and errors of his day by the cruel death of the cross.

Had biblical criticism become a science a century sooner than it did,
the world might now by possibility be nearer the goal of truth as
regards the Religious Idea than it is, and grave doubts have sooner
arisen as to the competency of the barbarous Jews to solve the mystery
of the ‘Something not ourselves’ which we are led by our nature to
conceive and think of as _Cause_, and to imagine as over and above this
‘bank and shoal of Time,’ whereon we pass our lives.

Quitting physiological discussion for his proper subject, our author
approaches the practical part of his theory of Christianity. Faith
is the first element, and is spoken of as an emotion rather than a
cognition--a spontaneous movement of the heart, not an act of the
understanding, its essence being belief in the man Jesus Christ as
the Son of God (pp. 297-300). The end and object of the whole New
Testament teaching, he says, is to lead men to a belief of this kind
(p. 293), whereby they are reconciled and made acceptable to God,
conceive a detestation for sin and become exemplars and exponents of
the Christian virtues--Love, Hope, and Charity. ‘Faith of this kind,’
he continues, ‘makes us aware of our poverty, of our misery. For if we
believe that the man Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world,
we already admit that the world lies in sin and so needs saving.’

Unlike the other Reformers of the Church, Servetus, in this his latest
work as in his first, makes much less of the Fall of Man and the wrath
of God as consequences of Adam’s transgression. Original sin can hardly
be said to have a place in his system. Sin, he even says, was not
brought forth on earth, but arose in heaven, through a revolt of the
angels under Satan, who, utterly opposed to God in all things, seduced
man from his allegiance and so obtained the empire which it was the
purpose of Christ’s coming to regain. Instead of holding the heart of
man as utterly evil and corrupt, he says, ‘that good works are proper
and spontaneous to the individual. By the death of a sinless being on
whom, as sinless, Satan had no hold, he was thrown out of the law,
forfeited the rights he had acquired, through the disobedience of man,
and God recovered the empire he had lost.’ Satan, therefore, performs
a highly important part in the Christology of Servetus; but it differs
notably from that both of the Roman Catholic and Reformed Churches, in
this: that Christ does not suffer death to satisfy divine justice and
reconcile God to mankind, but to traverse the Devil in the rights he
had acquired by guile. But all such speculations belong to a former age
of the world. They are the fossils of the speculative stratum in the
nature of man, and only of interest now to reasonable people as records
of the chimæras and incongruities that are engendered by imagination
dissevered from science, when the understanding, instead of leading, is
led, and the unknowable is assumed as foundation adequate to support
conclusions affecting the lives of men in this world and their fate in
Eternity.

Servetus then makes little or nothing of the ‘Corruption of human
nature’ as consequence of Adam’s transgression, so much insisted on by
the Reformed Clergy, and he entirely rejects their assumption of man’s
incompetence of himself to do anything good. Satan, however, is still
seen as the opponent of God in the Restored as in the Reformed system.
‘The Devil intruded himself into all flesh,’ says our ‘Restorer.’
‘_Satan is Sin dwelling within us_, and to us is disease and death (p.
385); these being the consequences of Adam’s transgression (p. 358).’
So much our author felt himself bound to accept in a literal sense,
for so he finds it written; but he proceeds forthwith to interpret
the text in his own way, and declares that _Adam’s transgression
brought no real guiltiness on mankind; for such can never be incurred
through another’s, but only through each man’s own deed_, a previous
knowledge of what is good and evil being the indispensable condition to
responsibility. But as a knowledge of good and evil is only attained
when men arrive at years of discretion, so did Servetus think that
mortal sin was not committed, nor even guilt incurred, before the
twentieth year (pp. 363 and 387). Though made subject to corporal death
and _scheol_ by Adam’s fault, men do not for this die spiritually;
they will be restored at the last day when Christ comes to judge the
world: ‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1
Corinth. xv.), say the Scriptures [of the apostle Paul]; and these
words, according to our author, mean that men will not be condemned to
the second or spiritual death because of Adam’s disobedience, but only
when, knowing good and evil, they have done much amiss of themselves.
Servetus, therefore, speaks of that as a punishment for sin to which
teeming nations of the East look forward as reward for the ills of
life--Nirwana, a state of unconscious, everlasting rest! Servetus
himself has no special place,--no hell either of temporary or eternal
torture for wrong-doing.

We do not remember to have met with the word _atonement_ in Servetus’s
writings. He had evidently passed beyond the idea of the vengeful
Hebrew God and the shedding of blood as a propitiatory means believed
in by the Christians of his day, and still so commonly accepted in our
own; Servetus’s religion was as comprehensive as that of his great
Master. ‘Turks,’ says he, ‘pray aright when they address themselves
to God, though they neither know nor believe that God ever promised
anything to the patriarchs.’

       *       *       *       *       *

JUSTIFICATION is the dogma that is next entered on, and is said to be
by _grace_: ‘We are justified,’ says Servetus, following Paul, ‘when we
believe in Christ as the Son of God,’--in the way he apprehended the
sonship, being of course to be understood. But, escaping from leading
strings, we find him elsewhere declaring, and still in advance of his
day, that all who of their own natural motion lead good lives, be
they Jews or Pagans, are justified before God, and that the good life
suffices to have men resuscitated in glory. ‘God,’ says he, ‘does not
repute us just of his own good grace only, but also by the merits of
our works; in other words, of our lives.’

       *       *       *       *       *

In the book on the perdition of the world and its restoration
by Christ, which follows, our author has much on the subject of
baptism--the means or preliminary, in his eyes, to REGENERATION. He
will not, however, allow that unbaptized infants can possibly be
looked on as lost souls. ‘The little children whom Christ blessed,’
says he, ‘were not baptized. How should the most clement and merciful
Lord condemn those who had never sinned? Did he ever say to the little
ones unbaptized: Go ye accursed into everlasting fire? How should
he curse those he blessed? They seem to me to attempt to befool me
who say that the salvation of an unconscious infant depends on my
will to baptize or to leave it unbaptized.’ Opposed to the baptism of
infants as a meaningless and inefficient ceremony, Servetus was all the
more emphatic in his insistence on the indispensableness of the rite
performed later in life. ‘Jesus was circumcised indeed as an infant,’
says he, ‘but only baptized when he was thirty years of age. We ought
not, therefore, to approach the LAVER OF REGENERATION before this age
if we would imitate Christ.’ ‘Pædobaptism,’ says he, ‘is a detestable
abomination, an extinction of the Holy Spirit in the soul of man, a
dissolution of the Church of Christ, a confusion of the whole Christian
faith, an innovation whereby Christ is set aside and his kingdom
trodden under foot. Woe to you, ye baptizers of infancy, for ye close
the kingdom of heaven against mankind--the kingdom of heaven into which
ye neither enter yourselves, nor suffer others to enter--woe! woe!’ He
who is baptized in his infancy, consequently, who believes that he is
properly baptized and so neglects the regenerative rite in years of
discretion, according to Servetus, loses his chance of instant entrance
into Christ’s kingdom on his death. In his comprehensive charity,
however, we fancy Servetus must have a salvo for such neglect, though
we have missed it. If he has failed to set it forth in words, we feel
assured that it was nevertheless alive in his heart.

In the book on the Power of Satan and Antichrist, Servetus attacks
the Papacy in terms of measureless reprobation, likening the Pope to
the Antichrist of the Apocalypse, calling him the son of perdition,
and speaking of his dominion as the reign of God’s opposite on earth
(p. 393). In exalting himself above his fellow-men and requiring them
to look on him as a god, the Pope has usurped the forbidden kingdom.
The imposition of a spiritual papacy, he maintains, has brought more
mischief on the spiritual world than the carnal Adam brought on the
world of flesh. For his sin was Adam condemned to the pain of corporeal
death, and for theirs are the beast and his ministers (the pope and his
council) doomed in the Apocalypse to the pains of everlasting fire (p.
394).

Against monastic vows of all kinds, Servetus is here most vehemently
outspoken. According to him, they are mere sacrileges of tradition.
He does not object to the celibate life, however, which he says he
has chosen for himself; but Peter, he thinks, would be amazed did he
see the shaven, cowled, and bedizened priests engaged in their mimic
play, whereby they lead the people to the most open idolatry. But it
is the mendicant monk that he has in more especial abhorrence. Him he
compares to the locust, which, eating up everything it encounters,
leaves desolation behind. ‘The locust,’ he says, ‘has by nature a sort
of monk’s cowl; add to this a wallet, and you have a begging friar
complete; in other words, a hooded devil.’

In the book on the Lord’s Supper, our author speaks of course of the
papistical transubstantiation, the annihilation of the _bread_ as bread
and its transmutation into mere _whiteness_. ‘I rather wonder,’ says
he, ‘whether Satan was the circumcisor of common sense from the brains
of those who of _bread_ make _not-bread_, and in its stead produce a
vendible whiteness; for these puny sacrificators, for a mouthful of
whiteness given without wine, make us count out our money (p. 510).
To such degradation of mind are these men brought that they call that
the true body of Christ, which, in the whiteness they imagine, rats
and dogs might devour. Never was there any such blindness as this
among the Jews--blindness the more notable as the Papists say they are
infallible (p. 511). But as circumcision of the foreskin makes the Jew,
and circumcision of the heart the Christian, so does circumcision of
the scalp make the sham Jew, the papal sacrificial priest and slave of
Antichrist.’

He is scarcely more complimentary when he speaks of the views of
the Reformers on the subject of the Supper, styling the Lutherans
_Impanators_, and the Calvinists _Tropists_, the Roman Catholics being
of course _Transubstantiators_. If we understand him aright, he looks
on the Supper as something more than a simple commemorative feast,
to be first partaken of immediately after adult baptism, to which it
is the necessary complement; but we are startled after what, as we
interpret it, he has just said in this sense, when we by and by find
him speaking as if he believed that the body and blood of Christ were
really partaken of in the Christian Communion (p. 281 and Letter xxx.
to Calvin). The contradictory statements met with in the writings of
Servetus, however, as we have had occasion oftener than once already to
say, can only be harmonised by taking note of his pantheistic views. In
the instance before us, for example, on the pantheistic principle, as
God is in and of the substance of all things, so was He in Christ, or
Christ, in so far, was God. In consonance with the _letter_, therefore
the bread and wine of the solemn rite are flesh and blood. The language
of mysticism, however, is often little intelligible to the naturalist,
who in his incapacity here may be likened to those who, with ears
otherwise acute, cannot distinguish certain extremely acute or grave
sounds, or who, with eyes otherwise excellent, see no difference
between such opposite colours as red and green. Like the Reformers of
all denominations, Servetus maintained the CUP to be an indispensable
element in the celebration of the Supper. In the Papal Mass, he says,
there is no true Communion. The bread is not broken in common, and
the wine is appropriated by the Sacrificator, even as the Babylonian
Priests of old appropriated the oblations of the altar: ‘Quorban,’ says
the Popish Priest as he drinks, to the lookers on, ‘it will do you
good, too.’ (p. 522).

Singularly enough, when we think of what he has to say in disparagement
of the Roman Catholic priesthood, we find him recognising in
_ministers_ a power to absolve men from their sins and reconcile them
to God--_potestas ministris est remittendi peccata et reconciliandi
homines Deo_ (p. 516). This, we can only conclude, is said because of
what he found in the Sacred Text;[61] no word of which, as we know,
would he gainsay. But that Michael Servetus, mystic though he was,
believed in his soul that one man can absolve another of his sin, we
do not think possible. He did not surmise that the fourth gospel was
only written a hundred and fifty years after the death of Jesus, and by
a Neo-platonic philosopher, presumably of Alexandria, fashioner, like
Paul of Tarsus, of a Christology and Christianity of his own.

In illustration of the character of the man, the study of whose
life engages us, the prayer with which he concludes the book on the
‘Restoration of Christianity’--for here the work does end in fact, all
that follows being but by way of appendix--ought not to be overlooked.
It is in immediate sequence to a renewed phillipic against the
baptizers of infants, and to the following effect:--

‘Almighty Father! Father of all mercy, free us miserable men from
this darkness of death, for the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ Our
Lord. O Jesus Christ, thou Son of God, who died for us, help us, lest
we perish! We, thy suppliants, pray to thee as thou hast taught us,
saying, Hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; and do thou, Lord,
come! thy bride the Church, praying in the Apocalypse, says, Come! The
spirits of thy children, praying here, say, Come! Let all who hear this
pray and cry aloud, and with John exclaim, Come! Thou Who hast said, I
come quickly (Apocalypse xxii.) wilt surely come, and with thy coming
put an end to Antichrist. So be it. Amen!’

       *       *       *       *       *

The first of the additions to the system of ‘Restored Christianity’ are
the thirty letters to Calvin, which we have already analysed, in what
seemed the appropriate place.

The book or chapter on the ‘Sixty signs of the reign of Antichrist, and
of his presence among us,’ which follows, need not detain us. The signs
are for the most part arbitrarily assumed by the writer, on the ground
that his own views are the truth, those of the Papists and Reformers
mistaken, false, or short of the truth. Having shown to his own
satisfaction that every evil-doer, in the shape of an exalted personage
who has ever appeared in the world, even from Satan, Nimrod, and
Nebuchadnezzar, prefigured the Pope, and that the Pope is Antichrist,
he then very logically concludes that all the dogmas and doctrines
sanctioned by the Papacy are of the Devil. Under this category he
places the doctrine of the Trinity in the foremost rank, then the
Baptism of Infants, the Mass, Transubstantiation, all but everything,
in short, characteristic of Roman Catholic Christianity. As in so many
other places, he is here also ready with a prayer, which we quote as
ever-recurring testimony to the sincerely, but misunderstood, pious
nature of the man:--

‘O Christ Jesus, Son of God, most merciful Liberator, who hast so often
freed thy people from their straits, free us too from this Babylonian
Captivity of Antichrist, from his hypocrisy, his tyranny, his idolatry!
Amen.’

The concluding part of the ‘Restoration of Christianity’ is an address
to Melanchthon and his colleagues on the Mystery of the Trinity and
the discipline of the ancient Church. We have seen that Melanchthon
of all the Reformers was the one who seemed to be most taken by the
theological speculations of the seven books on Trinitarian error. ‘I
read Servetus a great deal,’ says he to his friend Camerarius; and
if he found the work objectionable in many respects, as he says, it
yet contained matter that would not be put aside, but that forced
itself on his attention, and may be presumed to have influenced his
final conclusions on some of the highest and most difficult doctrines
of orthodox Christianity. Certain it is that the first and earlier
editions of his highly popular work, the ‘Loci Theologici,’ differ
notably from those that appeared subsequently to the publication
of Servetus’s ‘De Erroribus Trinitatis.’ In the first and earlier
editions there is nothing said of God, whether as One or Triune,
of Creation, the Incarnation, and other purely speculative matters.
‘These subjects,’ he says, ‘are wholly incomprehensible, and we more
properly adore than attempt to investigate the mystery of Deity. What,
I ask you,’ he continues, ‘has been the outcome of the scholastic
and theological discussions that have gone on for all these ages?’
But the metaphysics of Christianity were not passed over in any such
way by Servetus. His earliest work even meets us in some sort as a
complementary criticism of the ‘Loci’ of Melanchthon, and that it was
so held by the Reformer seems to be demonstrated by the many changes
and additions to be noticed in the revised edition of the work of the
year 1535, the first that was published after the appearance of the ‘De
Erroribus Trinitatis’ and ‘Dialogi duo de Trinitate.’[62]

Finding himself very freely handled in the revised editions of the
‘Loci,’ his _errors_, as they are designated as matter of course, being
assimilated to those of Paul of Samosata and others, and his references
to Tertullian and the ante-Nicæan Fathers proclaimed irrelevant,
Servetus retorts, and, throwing moderation to the winds, proceeds
in the diatribe we have before us to pour out the vials of his
displeasure on the head of the great Wittemberg scholar and theologian.
Our Restorer of Christianity does, it is true, see Melanchthon as
somewhat nearer the mark than Luther, Calvin, and Œcolampadius; but the
references made to Athanasius, Augustin, and the Fathers who came after
the Council of Nicæa, are all put out of court--their conclusions are
of non-avail; for they had all bowed the knee to the Beast, and bore
his mark. The true Church of Christ had already forsaken the earth in
their day, and their teaching on the Trinity, Baptism, the Supper, &c.,
was nought. Strange to say, as proceeding from a scholar, himself no
indifferent master of the Latin tongue, he reproaches Melanchthon with
the elegance of his Latinity. The Holy Ghost, says he, never spoke in
fine phrases! (P. 674.)

       *       *       *       *       *

It is difficult to conceive a man not utterly bereft of reason and
common sense, living among Roman Catholics and in times of deadly
persecution for heresy, writing in the style of Servetus on the Papacy
and the most accredited tenets of Christianity. Yet is it impossible
to imagine that he was blind to the danger he incurred in doing so;
neither do we believe that he knowingly and advisedly staked his life
against the cause he certainly had so much at heart. He may have said,
indeed, that he believed he should die for his opinions; but we see him
taking what he must have meant as sufficient precautions against such
a contingency; and when first brought face to face with the prospect
of accomplishing the destiny he foreshadowed, we find him showing
anything but the recklessness of the true martyr. We presume that the
security in which he had dwelt so long under his assumed name, the
immunity from suspicion of heresy he had enjoyed since the publication
of his first work, and the latitude allowed him by his clerical friends
of Vienne in discussing the heresies of the Reformers--and it may be
also some of a minor sort of their own--misled him. His seven books on
erroneous conceptions of the Trinity appear to have been little, if at
all, known to the ecclesiastics of France; and he probably imagined
that in appealing to the press again and keeping his work from the
booksellers’ shops of the country of his adoption, he would continue
to be overlooked. Anything of a heretical nature he should publish now
might possibly be challenged by the German and Swiss Reformers; but
they were heretics in the eyes of the Viennese, and, provided he did
not openly proclaim himself the author, their ill report, if perchance
it ever reached France, would do the author of the ‘Restoration of
Christianity’ no harm, if it did not even tend to exalt him among
orthodox adherents of the Church of Rome.

Every reasonable precaution therefore taken that the new book on the
Restoration of Christianity should not get abroad in France, Servetus
seems to have thought himself safe against detection and pursuit. He
was in fact altogether unknown, as we have said, in the place of his
residence as Michael Serveto, alias Revés, of Aragon, in Spain. He
was M. Michel Villeneuve, Physician of Vienne, and living under the
patronage of its Archbishop. There was, however, so strong a family
likeness between the ‘Seven Books and Two Dialogues on Trinitarian
Error’ and the ‘Restoration of Christianity,’ or the views therein
contained, that the most cursory comparison of the two works would
have disclosed their common parentage, even if the writer of the
‘Restoration’ had not himself hinted plainly enough at the fact. He
must have thought himself perfectly safe in his incognito at Vienne,
and seems not to have dreamt of danger from abroad. There could be no
reason, therefore, why Calvin, and through him the other Reformers
of Switzerland, should not be made aware of what he had been about.
He would in truth take his place beside or above them all as the
real Restorer of Christianity, proclaimer, as he believed himself to
be, of the true doctrine concerning Christ as the naturally begotten
Son of God; of the Salvation to be secured by faith in him as such;
of the Regeneration to be effected by baptism performed in years of
discretion, and of the absurdity implied in imagining division in the
essence of God, and instead of the One great Creator of heaven and
earth, having a Three-headed chimæra for a Deity! In this view, as we
conclude, he sent a copy of his book to Calvin; and with consequences
which it will now be our business to follow to their disastrous
conclusion; for all that remains of the life of Michael Servetus, cut
short in the flower of his age, is entirely subordinated to influences
brought to bear on it through the printing of this work and the
interference of the Reformer of Geneva.[63]



CHAPTER XVIII.

CALVIN RECEIVES A COPY OF THE ‘CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO.’


Frelon, the publisher of Lyons, whom we already know as the medium of
communication between Villeneuve and Calvin in their correspondence,
was probably by this time in the secret of the Spaniard. The friend of
Calvin as well as intimate with Villeneuve, had he not already been
confided in by the subject of our study, he must have been informed by
Calvin who Michel Villeneuve really was. The correspondence had long
ceased, but the intercourse between the Bookseller and the Reformer
continued, and the ‘monthly parcel’ was still the vehicle for new books
and literary gossip between Lyons and Geneva. By Frelon’s February
dispatch of the year 1553, we therefore conclude that there went a
copy of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ hot from the press, specially
addressed to Monsieur Jehann Calvin, Minister of Geneva. That it was
accompanied by a letter from Frelon we may also presume, giving in all
innocency and confidence--little recking what use would be made of the
information--those particulars connected with the printing of the work
which Frelon must have had from Villeneuve, and which Calvin by and by
imparted to the authorities of Lyons and Vienne.

Frelon may be supposed not yet to have read the ‘Christianismi
Restitutio;’ but aware of Villeneuve’s appreciation of the Church
of Rome, and trusting to the author’s own account of his work as
especially hostile to the papacy, he may have thought that it would not
be otherwise than well received by Calvin. It is only with Frelon as
go-between that we can account for the book having reached Calvin at
the early date it did, and for the particular information he possessed
concerning Arnoullet as the printer, and the precautions that had been
taken to keep the world ignorant of what had been done. That there was
no intention of betraying trust on Frelon’s part, we need not doubt;
and still less, as we believe, need we question the fact that it was
not only with the author’s consent, but by his express desire, that the
first copy of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ sent abroad went to the
Reformer.

Servetus himself could at this time have had as little idea, as Frelon,
of the deadly hate with which Calvin was animated towards him. They
had corresponded and differed, had quarrelled and called each other
opprobrious names; but controversialists did so habitually, when they
got heated; and the epithets then so freely bandied about were scarcely
seriously meant, and hardly ever seriously taken: they were but the
seasoning to the matter, nothing more. Servetus was in truth far too
vain, and at the same time too much under the spell of Calvin, to
leave him of all men else in ignorance of the important work of which
he had just been happily delivered. With the earliest opportunity
therefore that occurred, and before the book had been seen by another,
as we believe, he sent a copy to Calvin, meaning it doubtless as
a compliment--a return perhaps for the copy of the ‘Institutiones
Religionis Christianæ’ we credit him with having received from its
author.

It is not difficult to imagine the alarm that must at once have taken
possession of Calvin’s mind when he saw the errors, the heresies, the
blasphemies, as he regarded them, which in bygone years he had vainly
sought to combat, now confided to the printed page and ready to be
thrown broadcast on the world. And more than this: if his ire had been
already roused by the strictly confidential correspondence to the
extent of leading him to threaten the life of the writer, did occasion
offer, what additional anger must now have entered into his heart,
when, besides the offensive heretical matter of the book, he found
himself taken to task, publicly schooled, declared to be in error, and
his most cherished doctrines not only controverted, but proclaimed
derogatory to God, and some of them even as barring the gates of heaven
against all who adopted them! What, too, on second thoughts, may have
been his exultation when, in perusing the book, he found his enemy
committing himself so egregiously in abusing the Papacy, and supplying
evidence that would convict him at once of blasphemy against God and
the Church, and, in sending him to the stake--as he foresaw it must in
a Roman Catholic country--would rid the world at once of an agent of
Satan, and a personal enemy!



CHAPTER XIX.

CALVIN DENOUNCES SERVETUS THROUGH WILLIAM TRIE TO THE ECCLESIASTICAL
AUTHORITIES OF LYONS.


Calvin’s mind must have been immediately made up after perusing the
‘Restoration of Christianity.’ He would denounce its author as a
heretic and blasphemer to the ecclesiastical authorities of France,
and--_Deus ex machina_--an instrument was at hand to further his
purpose. There lived at this time in Geneva a certain William Trie,
a native of Lyons, a convert from the Romish to the Reformed faith,
and, as proselyte, well known to Calvin. Trie, it would appear, had
not been left altogether at peace in his new profession of faith. He
had a relation, Arneys by name, resident in Lyons, who did not cease
from reproaching him by letter as a renegade, and exhorting him to
think better of it, and return to the faith he had forsaken. Trie would
seem to have been in the habit of showing his letters to Calvin, and
of having aid and advice from him in answering them; Calvin, it was
said, upon occasion even dictating the epistles in reply. But now he
could use the neophyte in his own as well as the general behalf, and
set about the business forthwith under cover of a letter from the
convertite Trie to his relation Arneys:--

    Monsieur mon Cousin,--I have to thank you much for your fine
    remonstrances, and make no question of your friendly purpose
    in seeking to bring me back to the point from which I started.
    As I am not a man of letters like you, I do not enter on the
    points and articles you bring up against me. Not, indeed, but
    that with such knowledge as God has given me, I could find
    plenty to say in the way of reply; for, God be praised, I am
    not so ill-grounded as not to know that the true Church has
    Jesus Christ for its head, from whom it cannot be dissevered,
    and that there is neither life nor salvation apart from Holy
    Scripture. All you say to me of the Church, I therefore hold
    for phantasm, unless Christ, as having supreme authority,
    presides therein, and the Word of God is made the foundation of
    its teaching. Without this, all your formulas are nothing....
    As to what you say about there being so much more of freedom,
    or latitude of opinion, with us here than with you, still we
    should never suffer the name of God to be blasphemed, nor
    evil doctrines and opinions to be spread abroad among us,
    without let or hinderance. And I can give you an instance
    which, I must say, I think tends to your confusion. It is
    this: that a certain heretic is countenanced among you, who
    ought to be burned alive, wherever he might be found. And
    when I say a heretic, I refer to a man who deserves to be
    as summarily condemned by the Papists, as he is by us. For
    though differing in many things, we agree in believing that in
    the sole essence of God there be three persons, and that his
    Son, who is his Eternal Wisdom, was engendered by the Father
    before all time, and has had [imparted to him] his Eternal
    virtue, which is the Holy Spirit. But when a man appears who
    calls the Trinity we all believe in, a Cerberus and Monster
    of Hell, who disgorges all the villainies it is possible to
    imagine, against everything Scripture teaches of the Eternal
    generation of the Son of God, and mocks besides open-mouthed
    at all that the ancient doctors of the Church have said--I ask
    you in what regard you would have such a man?... I must speak
    freely: What shame is it not that they are put to death among
    you who say that one God only is to be invoked in the name
    of Christ; that there is no service acceptable to God other
    than that which He has approved by His word; and that all the
    pictures and images which men make are but so many idols which
    profane His majesty?... What shame, say I, is it not, that
    such persons are not only put to death in no easy and simple
    way, but are cruelly burned alive? Nevertheless, there is one
    living among you who calls Jesus Christ an idol; who would
    destroy the foundations of the faith; who condemns the baptism
    of little children, and calls the rite a diabolical invention.
    Where, I pray you, is the zeal to which you make pretence;
    where are your guardians and that fine hierarchy of which you
    boast so much? The man I refer to has been condemned in all
    the Churches you hold in such dislike, but is suffered to live
    unmolested among you, to the extent of even being permitted to
    print books full of such blasphemies as I must not speak of
    further. He is a Spanish-Portuguese, Michael Servetus by name,
    though he now calls himself Villeneuve, and practises as a
    physician. He lived for some time at Lyons, and now resides at
    Vienne, where the book I speak of was printed by one Balthasar
    Arnoullet. That you may not think I speak of mere hearsay I
    send you the first few leaves as a sample, for your assurance.
    You say that our books, which contain nothing but the purity
    and simplicity of Holy Scripture, infect the world; yet you
    brew poisons among you which go to destroy the Scriptures
    and all you hold as Christianity. I have been longer than I
    thought; but the enormity of the case causes me to exceed I
    need not, I imagine, go into particulars; I only pray you to
    put it somewhat seriously to your conscience, and conclude for
    yourself, to the end that when you appear before the Great
    Judge you may not be condemned. For, to say it in a word, we
    have here no subject of difference or debate, and ask but this:
    That God himself may be heard. Concluding for the present, I
    pray that He may give you ears to hear, and a heart to obey,
    having you at all times in His holy keeping.

    (Signed) GUILLAUME TRIE.

    Geneva, this 26th of February [1553].

This on the face of it is no letter from one young man to another.
It is the artful production of the zealot and bigot in one, well
informed of the antecedents of the man he is denouncing, and but poorly
disguised by the name under which he is writing. The letter from first
to last is Calvin’s, and was accompanied by the two first leaves of
the newly printed book, the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ containing the
title and table of contents, sufficient, as Calvin knew full well, to
alarm the hierarchs of Papal Christianity, which in their estimation
needed no restoration, and was indeed susceptible of none; whilst any
discussion of such transcendental topics as the Trinity, Faith in
Christ, Regeneration, Baptism, and the Reign of Antichrist, smacked at
best of schism when undertaken by a layman even of orthodox views, but
became flat blasphemy when treated by such a one in any adverse sense.

Cardinal Tournon, at this time Archbishop of Lyons, was the implacable
enemy of all innovators, and in his zeal for what he believed to be
the truth well disposed to resort to the severest measures against
the spread of heresy, which to him and his co-religionists, then as
now, was most especially embodied in the principles of Luther and
Calvin’s Reformation. Exposed as were the south and east of France from
their contiguity with Switzerland to infection of the kind, Tournon
had not relied exclusively on himself and his own subordinate clergy
as watchers over the faith of the district under his charge. He had
further summoned to his aid one of the regularly trained inquisitors
from Rome, Matthew Ory by name, who designated himself: _Pénitencier du
Saint Siége Apostolique, et Inquisiteur général du Royaume de France et
dans toutes les Gaules_. This man, as we may imagine, had a real relish
for his calling and was watchfulness itself in ferreting out heresy,
as, with all of his kind, he was relentless in pursuing it to the death.

The notable letter of Trie to Arneys was immediately brought under the
notice of the clergy of Lyons, as Calvin intended and foresaw that it
would be; and by one of them, was communicated to Ory, the Inquisitor,
and to Bautier, Vicar-General, and Canon of the Cathedral Church of
Lyons. Here was work of more than common interest to the Inquisitor,
who proceeded forthwith, under date of March 12, 1553, to write to
Villars, Auditor of Cardinal Tournon, absent at the moment from Lyons,
but no farther away than his Château of Roussillon, a few miles distant
from Vienne.

The letter of Ory is highly characteristic of the jesuitical, stealthy,
and underhand style of dealing with all that belongs to free thought
and open speech. Premising a few sentences on indifferent and private
matters, he comes anon to the real gist of his letter and says: ‘I
would advise you in all secrecy of some books that are now being
imprinted at Vienne, containing execrable blasphemies against the
divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity, the author and printer
of which are both living among you. The Vicar-General and I have seen
one of the chapters of this publication, and are of like mind about
the propriety of your taking an early opportunity of conferring with
Monseigneur (the Cardinal) and making him more particularly acquainted
with the business; so that on your return home the necessary orders may
be given by Monseigneur to M. Maugiron, the Vibailly of Vienne, and
the police. So much at this time M. the Vicar-General desires that you
should know through me; but you are to proceed so secretly that your
left hand shall not know what your right is about--_mais si secrètement
que vostre main senextre n’entend point ce que c’est_. Only whisper
in the ear of Monseigneur and inform us if he has any knowledge of a
certain Villeneufve, a physician, and one Arnoullet, a bookseller, both
of Vienne, for it is to them that I refer.’

On the following day the Vicar Bautier left Lyons for Roussillon and
saw the Cardinal, who immediately sent a letter to Louis Arzelier,
Grand Vicar of the See of Vienne, summoning him to Roussillon.
After a long conference, Arzelier was ordered to return to Vienne
and deliver an autograph letter from the Cardinal to M. de Maugiron,
Lieutenant-General of Dauphiny, in which however there is nothing
said of the affair he has at heart (for this he will only trust to be
communicated by word of mouth by M. the Vicar to M. the Lieutenant);
but appealing to the known zeal of his correspondent for the honour of
God and his church, and adding, in anticipation of what he knew would
follow, a request that he should immediately summon the Vibailly to his
assistance, in order that he, on his part, might undertake what M. the
Vicar might see necessary to be done. Two things only are especially
to be required of the Vibailly: the one that he use extreme dispatch,
the other that the business be kept as secret as possible. Roussillon,
March 15, 1553.

Acting at once on the advice of the Cardinal, Maugiron sent to
the Vibailly, bidding him hold himself ready to act in a certain
unspecified contingency. Next day, March 16, the two Vicars in company
with the Vibailly proceeded to the office of the Sieur Peyrolles, Lay
official of the Primate, before whom Bautier, as the party immediately
interested in virtue of his office, made a deposition to the effect
that within the last few days letters had been received from Geneva
addressed to a personage resident in Lyons, in which great surprise
was expressed that a certain Michael Servetus, otherwise called
Villanovanus, should be then living unmolested at Vienne; that four
printed leaves of a book written by the said Villanovanus had also been
forwarded from Geneva and examined by brother Ory, Inquisitor of the
Faith, by whom they had been found heretical; and, to conclude, that
the Cardinal Archbishop, having been made acquainted with the matter,
had written to M. de Maugiron requesting him to take cognizance of the
business with all secrecy and dispatch. Bautier, at the same time, put
in the Geneva letter of Trie, and the four leaves of the printed book
entitled ‘_Christianismi Restitutio_,’ in support of his allegations;
the letter of the Inquisitor and that of the Cardinal to Maugiron being
added as further documents on which the Procurator of the King and the
Justiciary were to proceed.

The judicial authorities of Vienne lost no time in obeying their
instructions. On the same day they met at the house of M. Maugiron,
and having consulted with him, they sent to M. Michel de Villeneuve,
desiring his presence and saying they had something to communicate to
him. Being from home when the message arrived, and not appearing for a
couple of hours, the authorities were fearful that he had been somehow
warned of the danger which threatened him and so had fled; but their
fears were unfounded: he came at length, and with a perfectly confident
air, it is said. The authorities informed him that they had certain
informations against him which would make it necessary for them to
visit and search his lodgings for books or papers of a heretical
tendency. Villeneuve replied that he had lived long at Vienne on good
terms with the clergy and professors of theology, and had never until
now been suspected of heresy; but he was quite ready to open his rooms
to them or those they might delegate, to make what search they pleased.

The Grand Vicar and the Vibailly, accompanied by the Secretary of the
Cardinal Governor of Dauphiny, then proceeded with Villeneuve to his
apartments, which adjoined and were among the dependencies of the
archiepiscopal palace, and made a particular examination of his papers;
but they found nothing more compromising than a couple of copies of his
apology or pamphlet against the Parisian Doctors, of which they took
possession.

Next day, the 17th, the Judges made a perquisition in the house of
Arnoullet, the publisher and printer, in his absence, he being away
at the time on business at Toulouse; and there also they had Geroult,
the superintendent of the printing establishment, brought before them.
After a lengthened interrogatory of the foreman, in which nothing was
elicited, they proceeded to search the house and printing office,
examining Arnoullet’s papers minutely, but without finding a word
to compromise him in any way. The workmen on the establishment were
then severally examined. They were shown the printed leaves of the
‘Christianismi Restitutio’ and asked if they knew anything of the
book of which the leaves were a part; or if they recognised the type,
or could give any information as to the books they had had a hand in
composing or printing during the last eighteen months or so. But they
all agreed in saying that the four leaves shown them had not been
printed in the office; and among all the books that had issued from
their presses during the last two years, a list of which was supplied,
there was not one in the octavo form. The search and inquiry over, the
officials had the entire staff of the printing establishment brought
into their presence, and cautioned them against saying a word of all
they had been asked about, on pain of being declared suspected or even
convicted of heresy and punished accordingly.

On the 18th, Arnoullet, having but just returned from Toulouse, was
visited and examined; but all the papers about him being found in
order and his replies in complete conformity with those of his manager
Geroult, he too was dismissed. The authorities found themselves at
fault, but by no means satisfied that the information they had had
from Geneva was groundless. An adjournment was therefore resolved
on, an informal consultation being, however, held meantime at the
archiepiscopal palace of Vienne. And it is not perhaps without
significance that it is only now that we find the archbishop of
Vienne, Pierre Paumier, named in connection with the proceedings, and
his palace spoken of as the place of assembly. It was at this moment
in fact that Paumier had the first intimation of what was going
on. At the meeting it was decided that nothing had been discovered
sufficiently positive to warrant the arrest of anyone.

The archbishop of Vienne, once made a party to the proceedings, appears
to have taken up the case warmly. The known protector and frequent
associate of Villeneuve the physician, he seems to have thought it
incumbent on him to show the world that he had no sympathy with heresy,
and nothing in common with a suspected heretic. He accordingly wrote
immediately to Brother Ory, the Inquisitor, begging him to come to
Vienne and have some conversation with him on matters touching the
Faith. In the course of the interview which followed, Ory suggested
that, in order to have further or more satisfactory information against
Villeneuve, Arneys should be made to write again to his relation Trie
at Geneva, and ask him to send the whole of the printed book from which
the leaves already forwarded had been cut. Returning to Lyons, Ory
himself, we must presume, dictated the letter which Arneys was required
to write to his cousin Trie. This epistle unhappily has not reached
us. It would have been both curious and interesting to have had the
Inquisitor of three centuries and a half ago brought so immediately
before us, as we should there have had him. But as Ory doubtless led
the pen at Lyons, so did Calvin assuredly guide it again at Geneva
in reply; and as his letter has been preserved, we come face to face
with one who is still more interesting to us than brother Matthew
Ory, Inquisitor of the kingdom of France and all the Gauls--with the
great head of the Reformed Churches of France and Switzerland, at the
zenith of his power, though not without misgivings as to its stability,
zealous as brother Ory could have been in upholding the Faith as he
apprehended it, and as ruthless as Cardinal Tournon in dealing with all
who called it in question. The letter is to the following effect:--

    Monsieur mon Cousin!--When I wrote the letter you have thought
    fit to impart to those who are taxed therein with indifference
    and neglect, I thought not that the matter would be taken up
    so seriously as it seems to be. My sole purpose was to show
    you the fine zeal and devotion of those who call themselves
    pillars of the Church, suffering as they do such disorder
    among themselves, yet persecuting so cruelly poor Christians
    who only desire to obey God in simplicity. As the instance was
    so notable, however, and I was advised of it, an opportunity
    presented itself, as I thought, of touching on it, the matter
    falling, as it seemed, fairly within the scope of my writing.
    But as you have shown to others the letter I meant for yourself
    alone, God grant that it tend to purge Christianity of such
    filth, of pestilence so mortal to man! If your people are
    really so anxious to look into the matter as you say, there
    will be no difficulty in furnishing you, besides the printed
    book you ask for, with documents enough to carry conviction to
    their minds. For I shall put into your hands some two dozen
    pieces written by him who is in question, in which some of his
    heresies are set prominently forth. Did you rely on the printed
    book by itself, he might deny it as his; but this he could not
    do if his own handwriting were brought against him. In this
    way, the parties you speak of, having the thing completely
    proven, will be without excuse if they hesitate further, or
    put off taking the steps required. All the pieces I send you
    now--the great volume as well as the letters in the handwriting
    of the author--were produced before the printed work; but I
    have to own to you that I had great difficulty in getting these
    documents from Mons. Calvin. Not that he would not have such
    execrable blasphemies put down; but that, as he does not wield
    the sword of justice himself, he thinks it his duty rather to
    repress heresy by sound teaching, than to pursue it by force.
    I importuned him, however, so much, showing him the reproaches
    I might incur did he not come to my aid, that he consented at
    length to entrust me with the contents of my parcel to you.
    For the rest, I hope, when the case shall have been somewhat
    farther advanced, to obtain from him something like a whole
    ream of paper, which the fine fellow--_le Galand_--has had
    printed. At the moment, I fancy you are furnished with evidence
    enough, and that there need be no more beating about the bush,
    before seizing on his person and putting him on his trial. For
    my own part, I pray God to open the eyes of those who speak of
    us so evilly, to the end that they may more truly judge of the
    motives by which we are actuated.

    As I learn by your letter that you will not trouble me further
    with the old proposals, I, on my side, will do nothing to
    displease you; hoping nevertheless, that God will lead you to
    see that I have not, without due consideration, taken the step
    you disapprove. Recommending myself to your favour, and praying
    God to give you his, &c., I remain,

                                         (Signed) GUILLAUME TRIE.

    Geneva, this 26th of March.

The art and purpose so plainly to be seen in the foregoing letter need
not be dwelt on. Anxious to escape appearing in the odious light of
informer, Calvin was still eager to furnish the zealots of the Church
he had quitted himself, and by the heads of which he was looked on
as standing in the foremost ranks of heresy, with evidence which he
believed would assuredly bring the man he held in despite to a cruel
death by fire. But Ory, whose special business was the prosecution
of heretics, and who knew much better than Calvin what constituted
evidence against them, was aware that the MS. book and the two dozen
pieces, written as said by Michael Servetus, were not adequate to
convict Michel Villeneuve of the charge against him. Handwriting,
it seems, could be put out of court as evidence in cases of heresy,
through simple denial on oath by the party accused. The point upon
which evidence was particularly required, by Ory and his coadjutors,
was in fact the _printing_ of the book entitled the ‘Restoration of
Christianity;’ and none of the pieces furnished gave any assurance
either that Michel Villeneuve was the writer, or Arnoullet and Geroult
the printers of this. Arneys must therefore be desired to write to
Cousin Trie once more, and ask him to do his best with M. Calvin to
furnish evidence of the kind required. So anxious indeed were Ory and
his friends for this, that they despatched this, the third letter of
Arneys to Trie, by a special messenger, who was ordered to wait and
bring back the answer with all speed.

The answer came in due course, hardly, however, so soon as we can
fancy it was looked for, but to the following effect:--

    Monsieur mon Cousin!--I had hoped I should satisfy your
    demands, in essentials at least, by sending you, as I did, the
    handwriting of the author of the book. With my last letter,
    indeed, you will find an acknowledgement by the man himself
    of his real name, which he had disguised, and the excuse he
    makes for calling himself Villeneuve, when his proper name is
    Servetus or Revés. For the rest, I promise you, God willing,
    to furnish you, if need be, not only with the entire book he
    has just had printed, but with another in his handwriting, in
    addition to the letters [already forwarded]. I should indeed
    have already sent the book [in MS.] which I refer to, had it
    been in this city; but it has been at Lausanne these two years
    past. Had M. Calvin kept it by him, I believe he would long
    ago, for all it is worth, have returned it to the writer; but
    having lent it for perusal to another, it was, as it seems,
    retained by him. I have formerly heard Monsieur [Calvin] say
    that, having given answers sufficient to satisfy any reasonable
    man, to no purpose, he had at length left off reading more of
    the babble and foolish reveries, of which he soon had had more
    than enough, there being nothing but reiteration of the same
    song over and over again. And that you may understand that
    it is not of yesterday that this unhappy person persists in
    troubling the Church, striving ever to lead the ignorant into
    the same confusion as himself, it is now more than twenty-four
    years since he was rejected and expelled by the chief Churches
    of Germany; had he remained in that country, indeed, he would
    never have left it alive. Among the letters of Œcolampadius,
    you will see that the first and second are addressed to him
    under his proper name and designation: _Serveto Hispano
    neganti Christum esse Dei Filium, consubstantialem Patri_--To
    Servetus the Spaniard, denying that Christ is the Son of God,
    consubstantial with the Father. Melanchthon also speaks of
    him in some passages of his writings. But methinks you have
    really warrant enough in what is already sent you to dive
    deeper into the matter, and to put him on his trial. As to the
    printers of the book, I did not send you the table of contents
    as any proof that Balthasar Arnoullet and William Geroult, his
    brother-in-law, were the parties; but of the fact that they
    were so we are well assured, nor indeed will it be possible for
    them to deny it. The printing was probably done at the author’s
    expense, and he may have taken the impression into his own
    keeping; he must have done so, indeed, if you find it has left
    the premises of the persons named. I rather think I omitted to
    say that when you have done with the epistles, I beg you will
    be good enough to return them to me. And now, commending myself
    to your good grace, and praying God so to guide you that you
    may do all that is agreeable in his sight,

                                             I am yours, &c.,

                                                    GUILLAUME TRIE.

    Geneva, this last day of March, 1553.

It must still be needless to say that neither is this any letter of
young Trie. What could he have known of the printed works of Michael
Serveto, alias Revés, or of his being condemned by the Churches of
Germany--which by the way he never was--or of his expulsion from that
country--which is also against the fact? What intimation could he have
had that Œcolampadius had written to Servetus, the Spaniard, combating
his heresies and that Melanchthon had mentioned him in sundry passages
of his work, the ‘Loci communes’? Calvin, on the other hand, was not
only well informed of much that had happened to Michael Servetus from
the date of their meeting in Paris in 1534, even to the hour in which
he was now writing by the hand of William Trie, but was himself the
author of some of the statements put into the mouth of that worthy.[64]



CHAPTER XX.

ARREST OF SERVETUS AND ARNOULLET, THE PUBLISHER.--THE TRIAL FOR HERESY
AT VIENNE--SERVETUS IS SUFFERED TO ESCAPE FROM PRISON.


April 4. After the receipt of Trie’s third epistle, a solemn council
was convened within the Archiepiscopal Château of Roussillon, at which
were present the Cardinal Tournon, the Archbishop of Vienne, the two
Grand Vicars, the Inquisitor Ory, and many Ecclesiastics and Doctors
in Divinity. There and then the letters of Trie, the printed leaves of
the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ and more than twenty epistles addressed
to John Calvin, were examined with every care and attention, all being
reported the work of Michael Servetus, alias Revés, living at Vienne
under the assumed name of Michel Villeneuve. The documents being held
of the most seriously compromising character, the Cardinal Archbishop
of Lyons and the Archbishop of Vienne, with the concurrence of the
whole assembly, now gave orders for the arrest of Michel Villeneuve,
Physician, and Balthasar Arnoullet, bookseller, to answer for their
faith on certain charges and informations to be laid against them.

The Archbishop of Vienne returned home in the afternoon in company
with his Grand Vicar, Arzelier, and having summoned the Vibailly de la
Cour to the Palace, informed him of the resolutions come to and the
pleasure of the Cardinal. In order that nothing might transpire, and no
understanding be come to between the parties incriminated, the Vicar
and Vibailly agreed so to arrange matters that Villeneuve and Arnoullet
should be arrested at the same moment, but imprisoned separately. The
Vibailly accordingly proceeded to the house of Arnoullet, and having
sent in a message desiring him to bring a copy of the New Testament
but just printed, Arnoullet was arrested on the spot, and carried off
to the Archiepiscopal prison. Proceeding next to the house of M. de
Maugiron, the Lieutenant-Governor of Dauphiny, then indisposed, and
on whom it was known that Doctor Villeneuve was in attendance, the
Vibailly informed the Doctor that there were several prisoners sick
and some wounded in the hospital of the royal prison who required
his services, as was indeed the case. Doctor Villeneuve replied that
independently of his profession making it imperative on him immediately
to obey such a summons, he still took pleasure in being so usefully
employed. He therefore went at once; and whilst engaged in his visit,
the Vibailly sent requesting the presence of the Grand Vicar. On his
arrival Villeneuve was informed that certain charges having been made
and informations laid against him, he must consent to hold himself a
prisoner until he had given satisfactory answers to the questions that
would be put to him. The gaoler, Anton Bonin, was then summoned and
enjoined to guard the prisoner strictly, but to treat him respectfully,
according to his quality. He was to be allowed his personal attendant
or valet, Benoît Perrin, a lad fifteen years of age, to wait on him;
and his friends were to have free access to him.

April 5. Archbishop Paumier now hastened to inform Brother Ory, the
inquisitor, that they had Villeneuve in custody, and begged him to come
immediately to Vienne. Ory, like a vulture swooping on the carcass,
is said to have made such haste--_pressa tellement sa monture_--that
he arrived in an incredibly short space of time at Vienne. As it was
then about the hour of the midday meal, however, the Archbishop and
he, thinking it well to recruit the inward man before entering on
the serious business they had on hand, sate themselves quietly down
to table and dined. The cravings of nature satisfied, Arzelier the
Vicar-General, and De la Cour the Vibailly of Vienne, were summoned
to the Palace--the secular in aid of the spiritual arm--and the party
proceeded to the prison.

Having had Michel Villeneuve, sworn physician, and now prisoner at
their instance, brought before them in the Criminal Court of the
Palace, they proceeded to question him on matters of which they at the
moment knew more than he, though we may well believe his fears pointed
in the true direction. Informing the prisoner, as a preliminary, that
he was bound to answer truthfully to the interrogatories put to him,
which he promised to do, he was then sworn on the Gospels and asked his
name, his age, his place of birth, and his profession.

His name, he replied, was Michel Villeneuve, doctor in medicine,
forty-four years of age, and a native of Tudela, in the kingdom of
Navarre, residing for the present, as he had done during the last
twelve years or thereabouts, at Vienne.

Asked where and in what places he had lived since he left his native
country; he said that some seven or eight and twenty years ago, before
the Emperor Charles V. left Spain for Italy, in view of his coronation,
he had entered the service of brother John Quintana, the Confessor of
the Emperor, being then no more than fifteen or sixteen years old; that
he had gone to Italy in the suite of the Emperor, and been present
at his coronation at Bologna. That he then accompanied Quintana to
Germany, in which country he resided for about a year, when his patron
died; since which time he had lived without a master, first at Paris,
having had lodgings in the Collége de Calvi, and then in the Collége
des Lombards, engaged in the study of Mathematics. From Paris he had
gone to Lyons, and spent some time between that city and Avignon, but
had finally settled at Charlieu, where, having lived practising his
profession, for about three years, he had finally been induced by
Messeigneurs the Archbishop of Vienne and the Archbishop of Maurice,
to quit Charlieu and establish himself at Vienne, in which city, as
said, he had lived since then to the present time.

Asked whether he had not had several books printed for him? he replied
that at Paris he had a book printed, the title of which was: _Syruporum
universa ratio ad Galeni censuram disposita_--a treatise on Syrups
according to the principles of Galen; and a pamphlet entitled: _In
Leonartum Fussinum, Apologia pro Symphoriano Campeggio_--an apologetic
address to Leonard Fuchs for Symphorian Campeccius. He had further
edited and annotated the ‘Geography of Ptolemy.’ Other than these,
the works now named, he had written none, nor had he had any others
printed for him; but he admitted that he had corrected the text of many
more, without adding to them anything of his own, or taking from them
anything of their writers.

Being now shown two sheets of paper, printed on both sides and having
marginal annotations in writing, and admonished that the matter of the
writing might bring him into trouble, he was informed, further, that
he, if he were the writer, might be able to explain or to say in what
sense he understood what was there set down. One of the propositions in
the writing was particularly pointed out to this effect: _Justificantur
ergo Parvuli sine Christi fide, prodigium, monstrum dæmonum!_--Infants
therefore are justified without faith in Christ, a prodigy, a portent
of devils! and he was informed that if he understood the words to
say that infants had not by their regeneration [through baptism,
understood] received the perfect grace of Christ and so were acquitted
of Adam’s sin, this would be to contemn Christ. He was therefore
required to declare how he understood the words. He replied that he
firmly believed that the grace of Christ, imparted by baptism, overcame
the sin of Adam, as St. Paul declares (Rom. v.): ‘Where sin abounds
there doth grace more abound;’ and that infants are saved without faith
acquired, but through faith then infused by the Holy Ghost.

Having shown him how necessary it was that he should alter several
words in the written matter, he promised to do so, saying however that
he was not prepared at a moment’s notice to say whether the writing was
his or not. It was very long, indeed, since he had written anything.
On examining the character particularly, however, he now thinks it
must be his. In all that concerns the faith he yet begs to say that
he submits himself entirely to his holy mother the Church, from whose
teachings he has never wished to swerve. If there be some things in
the papers before the Court open to objection, he believes he must
have written them inconsiderately, or only advanced them as subjects
for discussion. He then goes on to say that, having now looked closely
at the writing on the two leaves, he acknowledges it as his, having
the opportunity at the same time of explaining the sense in which he
would have it understood. If there were anything else, he concluded,
that was found objectionable or that savoured of false doctrine, he
was ready on having it pointed out to him to alter and amend it. The
two leaves paged from 421 to 424, and treating of baptism,[65] were
then ordered to be marked by the clerk of the Court, and with the other
papers produced, to be taken under his charge; after which the sitting
was suspended.

April 6. Sworn as before upon the Gospels to speak the truth (and from
what we know and have just seen feeling assured how indifferently he
had hitherto kept his word), Villeneuve was further interrogated as
follows: 1st. How he understands a proposition in an epistle numbered
xv., wherein the Living Faith and the Dead Faith are treated of in
terms that seem perfectly Catholic, and wholly opposed to the errors
of Geneva, the words being these, _Mori autem sensim dicitur in nobis
Fides quando tolluntur vestimenta_--now faith dies perceptibly in us
when its vestments are thrown off? To this he answered that he believed
the vestments of faith to be works of charity and mercy. 2nd. Shown
another epistle, numbered xvi., on Free will, in opposition to those
who hold that the will is not free, he is asked how he understands
what is there said? With tears in his eyes he replies, ‘Sirs, these
letters were written when I was in Germany, now some five and twenty
years ago, when there was printed in that country a book by a certain
Servetus, a Spaniard; but from what part of Spain I know not, neither
do I know in what part of Germany he dwelt, though I have heard say
that it was at Agnon (Hagenau in Elsass), four leagues from Strasburg,
that the book in question was printed. Having read it when I was very
young--not more than fifteen or sixteen--I thought that the writer said
many things that were good, that were better treated by him, indeed,
than by others.’ Quitting Germany for France, without taking any books
with him, Villeneuve went on to say, that he had gone to Paris with a
view to study mathematics and medicine, and had lived there, as already
said, for some years. Whilst residing there, having heard Monsieur
Calvin spoken of as a learned man, he had, out of curiosity, and
without knowing him personally, entered into correspondence with him,
but begged him to hold his letters as private and confidential--_sub
sigillo secreti_. ‘I, on my part,’ he proceeds, ‘seeking brotherly
correction, as it were, but saying that if he could not wean me from
my opinions or I wean him from his, I should not feel myself bound to
accept his conclusions. On which I proposed certain weighty questions
for discussion. He replied to me shortly after, and seeing that my
questions were to the same effect as those discussed by Servetus,
he said that I must myself be Servetus. To this I answered that,
though I was not Servetus, nevertheless, and that I might continue
the discussion, I was content for the time to personate Servetus, and
should reply, as I believed he would have done, not caring for what he
might please to think of me, but only that we might debate our views
and opinions with freedom. With this understanding we interchanged
many letters, but finally fell out, got angry, and began to abuse each
other. Matters having come to this pass, I ceased writing, and for ten
years or so I have neither heard from him nor he from me. And here,
gentlemen, I protest before God and before you all, that I had no
will to dogmatise, or to substitute aught of mine that might be found
adverse to the Church or the Christian Religion.’

The prisoner being shown a third epistle numbered xvii., on the Baptism
of Infants, in which he says, ‘_Parvuli carnis non sunt capaces doni
Spiritus_--Infants as mere carnal beings are incapable of receiving the
gift of the Spirit,’--was desired to say in what sense he meant these
words to be taken. He answered that he had formerly been of opinion
that infants were incompetent in the matter, as stated; but that he had
long given up such an opinion and now desired to range himself with the
teaching of the Church. Shown a fourth epistle, numbered xviii., its
heading or argument being, ‘Of the Trinity, and the Generation of the
Son of God, according to Servetus,’ he acknowledged it as having been
written by him in the course of his discussion with Calvin, when he was
assuming the part of Servetus; but as he had said of the former letter,
No. xvii., so he says of this, that he does not now believe what is
there set down, everything in the letter having only been propounded
to learn what Calvin might have to advance in opposition to the views
set forth. A fifth letter, the burden of which is, ‘Of the glorified
flesh of Christ absorbed in the Glory of the Deity more fully than it
was at the Transfiguration,’ being handed to him, he said that when he
addressed his correspondent on this subject, he felt at greater liberty
than usual to say all he thought of it individually, and was now ready
to answer any question put to him bearing upon it. None, however, were
asked.

But the letters to Calvin were not yet done with. A whole bundle of
them, fourteen in number, was exhibited, and the prisoner informed
that the judges found much matter there for which very particular
answers would be required. Having looked at the letters, the prisoner
said he saw that they were all addressed to Calvin long ago, and with
a view to learn from him what he thought of the questions raised, as
already said. But he added that he was by no means now disposed to
abide by all he had written of old, save and except in respect of
such views as might be approved by the Church and his Judges. He was
therefore ready to answer to each particular head on which he might be
interrogated. This the Judges proposed to do at their next meeting,
and meantime having ordered a schedule of the principal points upon
which there appeared to be error against the faith to be drawn up from
the writings, all the documents being duly labelled and signed, the
session was suspended until the morrow.

Immediately after the second interrogatory to which he was subjected,
Servetus on his return to prison sent his servant Perrin to the
Monastery of St. Pierre to ask the Grand Prior if he had received the
300 crowns owing to him--Villeneuve by M. St. André. The money having
been received, was remitted by the hands of Perrin to his master. Had
Servetus put off his message to the Prior but for an hour, he would
have lost his money, the Inquisitor Ory having given fresh orders to
the gaoler to guard M. Villeneuve very strictly, and to suffer him to
see and have speech of no one without his--the Inquisitor’s express
permission. Ory, we may presume, had not only no favour for Servetus,
but, with so much against him as already appeared, could have had
little doubt of bringing conviction home to him and so having him sent
in smoke as an acceptable sacrifice to heaven. But Villeneuve had
friends among his other judges who were every way disposed to aid him,
if it were possible. Matters certainly looked very black indeed: Michel
Villeneuve was plainly Michael Servetus of evil theological reputation;
flagrant heresy was already manifest in the documents produced, and
his answers to the interrogatories were so little satisfactory that
acquittal from the charges laid against him, even at the outset of
the process, seemed out of the question. The judges, however, were
not all Brother Orys nor Cardinal Tournons, though most of them
were churchmen, and, to their honour, both tolerant and merciful in
circumstances where their creed prescribed intolerance and deadening of
the heart to pity. Servetus had however to be sent back to his prison;
but the door of the cage might be left open and the bird allowed to
fly. And everything leads to the conclusion that this was exactly what
was done.

Connected with the prison there was a garden having a raised terrace
looking on to the court of the palace of justice; and, abutting on the
garden wall, a shed, by the roof of which and a projecting buttress
on the other side a descent into the court-yard of the palace could
easily be made. The garden as a rule was kept shut, but prisoners
above the common in station were permitted to use it for exercise and
also for occasions of nature. Having enjoyed this privilege from the
first, Servetus appears to have scrutinised everything in the afternoon
of April 6, after the conclusion of his second examination. On the
morning of the seventh he rose at four o’clock and asked the gaoler,
whom he found afoot and going out to tend his vines, for the key of the
garden. The man, seeing his prisoner in velvet cap and dressing-gown,
not aware that he was completely dressed and had his hat under his
robe de chambre, gave him the key and went out shortly afterwards to
his work. Servetus, on his part, when he thought the coast must be
clear, left his black velvet cap and furred dressing-gown at the foot
of a tree, leaped from the terrace on to the roof of the outhouse and
from that, without breaking any bones, gained the open court of the
Palais de Justice Dauphinal. Thence he made for the gate of the Pont
du Rhône, which was at no great distance from the prison and passed
into the Lyonnais--these latter facts being by and by deposed to by a
peasant woman who had met him. Two hours or more elapsed before his
escape became known in the prison, the gaoler’s wife having been the
first to discover it. She in her zeal and alarm committed a hundred
extravagances; and in her vexation tore her hair, beat her children,
her servants, and some of the prisoners who chanced to come in her
way. Her rage that anyone should have had the audacity to break the
dauphinal prison of Vienne, of which her husband was custodier, was
such, that she even ran the risk of her life by clambering to the
roof of a neighbouring house, in her eagerness to find traces of the
fugitive.

The authorities, informed of what had happened, did all that became
them, ordering the gates of the town to be shut and more carefully
guarded than usual through the next few days and nights. Proclamation
was made by sound of trumpet and beat of drum, and almost every house
not only of the town, but of the neighbouring villages, was visited.
The magistrates of Lyons and other towns, in which it was thought
probable their late prisoner might have taken refuge, were written to
by the Vienne authorities and inquiries made whether or not he had
money in the bank, or had drawn out any he might have had there.
His apartments were again visited, and all his papers, furniture and
effects inventoried and put under the seal of justice.

In the town of Vienne it was generally thought that the Vibailly De la
Cour had been the active party in favouring the evasion of Villeneuve.
He was known to be intimate with the doctor, who had lately carried
his daughter successfully through a long and dangerous illness, and
had been loud in praise of the skill and devotion that had been shown
with so happy a result. Chorier,[66] the historian of Dauphiny, hints
guardedly at something of the kind when he speaks of the imprisonment
of M. Villeneuve on religious grounds. ‘It fell out,’ says Chorier,
‘that by his own ingenuity and the assistance of his friends, M.
Villeneuve escaped from confinement.’

In the record of proceedings after the flight the only thing mentioned
is the fact of the gaoler having given the prisoner the key of the
garden; on all else there is absolute silence; whence, as D’Artigny
says, we may infer that there is mystery of some sort connected with
the escape. We, for our part, should have no difficulty in finding a
key to the mystery, had there been fewer grounds for the presumption of
friendly connivance than there undoubtedly were in the business. John
Calvin, arch-heretic in the eyes of the Gallic Church and its heads,
could not, we must presume, have been held in the highest possible
esteem by the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyons, to say nothing of brother
Mathias Ory, Inquisitor of the king of France and all the Gauls. But
the arrest of Villeneuve and the proceedings against him thus far, had
depended entirely on information supplied by the Reformer of Geneva.

The managers of the process against Servetus were men much too astute,
much too clear-sighted not to see that it was John Calvin who was
writing under the mask of William Trie; and one among them at least may
have known that the state of feeling between the Reformer of Geneva
and the Physician of Vienne had long been such that he of Geneva might
not be indisposed to make use of them to wreak his vengeance against a
personal enemy under the guise of a common heretic. The Judges indeed
must all have seen from the letters of Villeneuve to Calvin that the
two men were at daggers-drawn, and that the provocation on either part
was neither new nor slight, but of long standing, and, judging by his
present attitude, on Calvin’s side deadly. We can fancy brother Mathias
Ory chuckling over the sweet simplicity of the Viennese mediciner’s
sorry subterfuge in pretending to enact the part of ‘Servetus the
Spaniard, though he was no such personage, and knew nothing of the
place in Spain where he was born!’

The authorities of Vienne, however, had no desire to have their friend
Villeneuve burned alive for heresy on testimony gratuitously supplied
by the arch-heretic of Geneva, and thereby give him, whom they hated
and feared far more than a thousand lay schismatics, a triumph not only
over an enemy, but over themselves, for their lack of insight and zeal
as guardians of the only saving faith. And then, and in addition to all
this, there was Monseigneur Paumier to be considered--Paumier, under
whose patronage Villeneuve had settled at Vienne and lived so long in
the very shadow of the archiepiscopal palace, on terms of intimacy with
its distinguished occupant. How should the great man escape suspicion
of heresy himself if it were known that he had been living as a friend
with one who held all the most holy mysteries of the Roman Religion
as mere vanities or inventions of the Devil! The man had lived, it is
true, long and peaceably among them, respected in his life and trusted
in his calling; and if Calvin found heresy and to spare in his writings
against the tenets which he as well as they held in common, they
discovered outpourings enough there against Predestination and Election
by the Grace of God, Effectual calling, Justification by Faith, and the
rest, that formed the groundwork of the objectionable doctrines both of
Luther and Calvin. If M. the Vibailly De la Cour connived at the escape
of Villeneuve, and that he did there can hardly be a doubt, we may be
well assured that he acted with the concurrence of his more immediate
associates in the administration of justice--lay and clerical. The
Vibailly remained unchallenged in his office; the gaoler was not
dismissed, and Arnoullet the printer, for the present at least, was
set at liberty. Nothing of all this could have happened had Justice
not consented to be hoodwinked. The gaoler’s wife, in fact, seems to
have been the only person in downright earnest in the business of the
escape.



CHAPTER XXI.

DISCOVERY OF ARNOULLET’S PRIVATE PRINTING ESTABLISHMENT--SEIZURE AND
BURNING OF THE ‘CHRISTIANISMI RESTITUTIO’ ALONG WITH THE EFFIGY OF ITS
AUTHOR.


The remainder of the month of April was spent in making a renewed
and more particular examination of the books, papers, and letters of
Villeneuve, and in having copies made of the letters addressed to
Calvin, the originals of which were placed for safe custody under the
official seals. And here, if our surmises be well founded: that the
authorities of Vienne had really no wish, on testimony supplied by
Calvin, to convict of heresy a man who had always comported himself as
a good Catholic and still professed himself a true son of the Church,
every way disposed to receive instruction and bow to the decisions
of those who must know so much better than himself what was the true
saving faith--the matter would probably have ended, in so far as those
of Vienne were concerned. But Ory, the Inquisitor, nowise anxious
like the others to hush up so promising an affair, had by some means
been informed in the beginning of the month of May that there had
been a couple of presses kept at work away from the proper printing
establishment of Arnoullet.

Of this significant fact, no mention had been made either by Villeneuve
or Arnoullet on their examination, and whence Ory had the intimation
we are left to conjecture. There seems hardly room for doubt, however,
that it reached him through the old channel, viz., Arneys; that Arneys
had the news he gave to Ory from Trie, and that Trie had the tale he
told from Calvin. Frelon, as we have seen, must have been in the secret
of Servetus, and Frelon was also the friend of Calvin; from Frelon
alone could Calvin have had the particular information he shows he
possessed concerning the terms on which the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’
was printed; and it was only from Calvin that Trie could have obtained
intelligence of the kind he communicates to his relative Arneys of
Lyons. The process against Servetus, as we know, began from Lyons; and
from Lyons was it now resuscitated. But who living there was so likely
to have heard of a printing press worked privately at Vienne, twelve
miles away, as he who had all he knew about the heretic Villeneuve from
Geneva, and had been the instrument in setting on foot the movement
that was now to proceed to more disastrous issues?

With the new and important hint but just received, Ory sped off to
Vienne from Lyons, his head-quarters; and he may possibly have used
even greater diligence on this occasion than he did before when he is
said to have spurred his steed so vigorously. Summoning the Vibailly
and Grand Vicar to his side, the three proceeded immediately to the
premises that had been indicated as the private printing place of
the publisher Arnoullet; and entering, sure enough, they found three
compositors at work, Straton, Du Bois, and Papillon by name. It is
not difficult to imagine the terror of these men at the sight of
such visitors. Before proceeding to interrogate them severally, the
Inquisitor took care to address them generally on the enormity of the
crime of which he assumed they had been guilty, and to say that they
deserved the severest punishment for having withheld the important
information they could have supplied. When proceedings were commenced
against their master and M. Villeneuve, he said, they must be aware
that it had been specially enjoined upon all and sundry, under pain of
being dealt with as heretics, to communicate whatever they knew about
the book, which he declared they must have known to be written by
Villeneuve and printed by their master Arnoullet. Stretching a point,
as we may imagine, he told the men further, that he had proofs in his
hands that they were the very parties who had worked at the composition
and printing of the book in question. He now, therefore, exhorted them
to speak the truth and to ask pardon if they had been guilty or hoped
for favour, the authorities he added, indeed, intending correction, not
punishment.

The workmen, terribly alarmed, fell as with one accord upon their
knees, and Straton, speaking for himself and the others, owned that
they had printed an octavo volume entitled ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’
but were not aware that it contained heretical doctrines, being
ignorant of the Latin language in which it was written, and never
having heard that it did, until after the prosecution had been set on
foot. He informed his questioner further that he and his associates
had been steadily engaged on the book from the feast of St. Michael to
January 3 last--over three months--when the printing was completed;
yet more, that they had not dared to give information of their part
in the business for fear of being burned alive; and to conclude, they
now sought forgiveness, and threw themselves on the mercy of the
authorities. More particularly questioned, Straton said that Michel de
Villeneuve had had the book in question printed at his own expense,
and had corrected the proofs in person. To end the tale, and he may
have thought to make amends for his past silence, he said further that
on January 13 he had despatched five bales of the book to the care of
Pierre Merrin, typefounder, of Lyons.

Delighted with the great discovery just made, inasmuch as they would
now have grounds of their own to proceed upon, the three associates
hastened to communicate the information they had acquired to the
Archbishop of Vienne, who in turn imparted it to Cardinal Tournon.
Next day the Inquisitor Ory and the Grand Vicar Arzelier set off for
Lyons. Proceeding at once to the establishment of Pierre Merrin, they
questioned him as to what he knew of the business, and particularly
about certain bales, five in number, that had lately come into his
possession and were believed to contain heretical books. Merrin, having
no motive for concealment, informed his visitors that about four months
back he had received by the canal boat of Vienne five bales with the
following address: From M. Michel de Villeneuve, doctor in medicine,
these five bales, to be delivered to Pierre Merrin, typefounder, near
Notre Dame de Confort, Lyons. On the day the bales were received, he
added, a priest of Vienne, Jacques Charmier by name, had come to him
and requested him to keep the bales until called for, saying that they
contained nothing but printing-paper. From the time named, however, he
had heard nothing from the sender, neither had anyone called to enquire
after the bales or to take them away; and for his part he knew not
whether they contained white paper for printing as said, or printed
books as now alleged.

Having finished their interrogatory and seen the bales, the Inquisitor
and Vicar made no scruple about seizing them in the name of the public
authorities. Carrying them off at once, they were taken to Vienne and
deposited in a room of the Archiepiscopal palace.

The priest Charmier was of course the next person visited and
questioned. He persistently denied all knowledge of the contents of the
bales which he, as he was proceeding to Lyons, recommended to the care
of Merrin, at the request of M. Villeneuve. The mere act of the poor
priest, however, and his known intimacy with Villeneuve, were held to
have compromised him to such an extent that he was put on his trial
some time afterwards, and sentenced to imprisonment for three years!

The bales once safe in the Archiepiscopal palace of Vienne, were
speedily undone, and there, sure enough, as Straton had said, five
hundred copies of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ complete, were
displayed to the eager eyes of the lookers-on. A single copy was
abstracted and given to Ory, to enable him at his leisure to extract
and take exception to such passages as he might deem heretical; the
rest were left in safe custody under the palace roof.

Every information up to June 17--for so long had it taken to get at
the facts as they have been stated--having now been acquired, and the
proofs in the process being held complete, the Vibailly of Vienne, in
a session of the Court duly summoned, and in the absence of Michel de
Villeneuve, proceeded to pass sentence on him, finding him attainted
and convicted of the crimes and misdemeanours laid to his charge,
viz., Scandalous Heresy and Dogmatisation; Invention of New Doctrines;
Writing heretical books; Disturbance of the public peace; Rebellion
against the King; Disobedience of the ordinances touching heresy, and
Breach of the Royal Prison of Vienne. ‘For reparation of the crimes
and misdeeds set forth,’ said the Judge, ‘we condemn him, and he is
hereby condemned, to pay a fine of 1000 livres Tournois to the King
of Dauphiny; and further, as soon as he can be apprehended, to be
taken, together with his books, on a tumbril or dust-cart to the place
of public execution, and there burned alive by a slow fire until his
body is reduced to ashes.’ The sentence now delivered, moreover, is
ordered to be carried out forthwith on an effigy of the incriminated
Villeneuve, which is to be publicly burned along with the five bales
of the book in question, the fugitive being further condemned to
pay the charges of justice, his goods and chattels being seized and
confiscated, to the advantage of anyone showing just claims to the
proceeds, the fine and expenses of the trial, as aforesaid, having been
first duly discharged.

On the same day about noon the effigy of Villeneuve, made by the
executioner of the High Court of Justice, having been put upon a
tumbril along with the bales of the book, was paraded through the
streets of Vienne, brought to the place of public execution, hanged
upon a gibbet erected for the purpose, and finally set fire to, and
with the five bales burned to ashes.

The matter, however, did not rest here; it was not yet concluded in
all its parts. The secular arm had done what was required of it,
having burned the criminal in effigy, failing his person, along with
his heretical book; but the ecclesiastical authorities must also
have their say in the case. When the utterance came, and it came not
until six months after the civil trial and sham execution, it was in
every particular confirmatory of the sentence already delivered, the
grounds of the decision however being gone into with greater minuteness
than before. Among other matters particularly mentioned now, are
the marginal notes in the handwriting of the culprit on two printed
leaves, cut out of a copy of Calvin’s ‘Institutions;’ Seventeen letters
addressed to John Calvin and acknowledged by Villeneuve to be from
him; his answers to the Inquisitor Ory, the Vibailly, and the rest,
and the minutes which had been made of his escape from the prison;
finally, his books, one entitled ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ and
another in two parts: ‘De Trinitatis Erroribus, Libri septem,’ and ‘De
Trinitate, Dialogi duo.’ ‘From all that has been brought to light,’ the
judgment proceeds, ‘it is made manifest that the said Villeneuve is a
most egregious heretic, and as such is hereby adjudged, convicted and
condemned, his body to be burned, and his goods to be confiscated, the
judicial expenses incurred and yet to be incurred to be defrayed out
of the proceeds of the sale.’ All the books written by Villeneuve are
further ordered to be diligently searched for, and wherever found, to
be seized and burned.

It is not unimportant to notice that Arnoullet, the publisher and
printer, is associated with Servetus in this ecclesiastical judgment.
‘The said Villeneuve and Balthazar Arnoullet are attainted and to
be held conjoined in the sentence because of their complicity and
connection.’ Arnoullet however was more mercifully dealt with than
Villeneuve; he was not condemned to be burned alive; neither did he
suffer imprisonment for any great length of time, but was by and by
set at liberty on giving security for his good behaviour in future. If
Charmier, the priest, was sentenced to incarceration for three years,
having, as far as we know, done nothing more than deliver a message
from Villeneuve to Merrin the type-founder, we might have imagined that
Arnoullet would scarcely have escaped with so little scath; for to have
aided and abetted in the printing of such a book as that entitled the
‘Restoration of Christianity,’ which impugned the system that placed
the whole of his judges--Cardinal Tournon, Archbishop Paumier, Ory,
Arzelier, and the rest--in positions of affluence and influence, could
only have been looked upon as a crime little less heinous than that
of which the author of the book himself had been guilty. But Charmier
was known to have been on friendly terms with Villeneuve; and Paumier
may have guessed what that implied; for let us not forget that all
we speak of came to pass shortly after Giovanni de Medici, under the
title of Leo X., had been Pope; and that if the Reformation had more
well-wishers in France than dared to proclaim themselves, Scepticism
too, and of the deepest dye, was at the same time rife in high places.
The poor priest Charmier, however, being of the rank and file only,
must pay for having meddled; but let us hope that Archbishop Paumier
interfered in due season and succeeded in greatly abridging the term of
his imprisonment.



BOOK II.

SERVETUS IN GENEVA, FACE TO FACE WITH CALVIN.

[Illustration: Ioanis Calvinus]



CHAPTER I.

SERVETUS REACHES GENEVA--DETAINED THERE, HE IS ARRESTED AT THE INSTANCE
OF CALVIN.


Escaped from the Dauphinal prison of Vienne, Servetus must, in all
likelihood, have found hiding at first with friends in Lyons. But
there, as indeed anywhere else in France, his life was in imminent
danger; so that for his own sake, as well as that of his friends,
terribly compromised by his presence, he had to seek safety at a
distance--even in another country. Nor was it present safety only that
was in question: the means of living in time to come had further to be
thought of. But master of a profession that is welcome everywhere, he
may have had little anxiety on that score; and he who had lived so long
unmolested as Villeneuve or Villanovanus, after compromising himself as
Serveto, alias Revés, would have been at no loss to find another name
to shield him from recognition. His first thoughts carried him in the
direction of Spain, but he found so many difficulties from the French
gendarmerie, that he turned back; believing then that the best course
he could follow would be to betake himself to Naples, where he knew
there was a large settled population of his own countrymen, among whom
he would find a sufficient field for the exercise of his calling.

Calvin--erroneously beyond question--speaks of Servetus having wandered
for four months in Italy after his escape from the prison of Vienne.
Had he reached Italian ground at this time, he would not have returned
upon Geneva, and then--presuming that he escaped Calvin’s further
pursuit--he might have lived, usefully engaged, to a good old age, and
died quietly in his bed. Servetus arrived in Switzerland from the side
of France, and must have been in hiding in that country, or wandering
about in disguise from place to place between April 7, the date of his
evasion from Vienne, and the middle of July when he reached Geneva. The
hue and cry from Vienne was probably not of a kind to be heard afar;
they who left the prison door open may have seen to that--Servetus
indeed says himself that they did. It was not such, at all events,
as to prevent his baffling pursuit and escaping recognition: for he
entered Geneva in safety; and feeling the soil of a state beneath his
feet where other than Roman Catholic views of religion prevailed, he
could hardly have thought that he would suffer molestation did he but
keep quiet during the day or two he meant to remain in order to rest
and recruit.

The experience Servetus had had so lately must have satisfied him
that he could hope for nothing from the forbearance of Calvin; but he
did not mean to put this to the test: his business was to make no
noise, and to be gone as quickly as possible. Though he had made the
latter part of his journey on horseback, the usual mode of locomotion
in those days, he even deemed it prudent, as less likely to attract
attention, to enter Geneva on foot. He therefore discharged his steed
at Louyset, a village a few miles distant, where he passed the night,
and reached the city in the early morning of some day after the middle
of July, 1553. Putting up at a small hostelry on the banks of the lake,
having the sign of the Rose, he appears to have lain there privily and
unchallenged for nearly a month.

What could have induced Servetus to linger in a place where we see,
from the precautions he took both in arriving and subsequently, that he
could not have thought himself safe, long remained a mystery; but is
cleared up in a great measure by the information we obtain through the
particulars of the trial to which he was immediately subjected, and of
which it is only of late years that a full and entirely satisfactory
account has been obtained. We were disposed, at one time, to ascribe
the delay in setting out for Italy to the fascination which the strong
have over the weak, and to imagine that our wanderer was still anxious
for the personal interview with Calvin he had formerly sought, but
been forced to forego, in Paris, and for which, as we learn by the
letter of Calvin to his friend Farel, he had made fresh proposals at a
later date.[67] He was now aware, however, that it was by Calvin he
had been denounced to the authorities of Lyons and Vienne, arrested in
consequence, put upon his trial, and only saved his life by escaping
from prison. He could not possibly, therefore, have flattered himself
that the man who was so disposed towards him would receive him in any
friendly mood; though it probably never came into his mind to imagine
that the Reformer would be disposed to take the knife in hand himself.

As we now read the tale, we perceive that Servetus’s presence in Geneva
could not have been unknown to all in the city, even from the day of
his arrival; and our persuasion is, that for some time at least he
was kept there against his will. On his trial we find him stating,
incidentally, that the windows of the room he occupied at the Rose _had
been nailed up!_ What interpretation can possibly be put on this? The
nailing up could not have been done to keep anyone _out_ of a place of
public entertainment. It was therefore to keep someone _in_. Servetus
must in fact have been anxious from the first to be gone; but he was
detained by certain parties in Geneva, not among the number of Calvin’s
friends, who thought to make political capital out of his presence
among them.

Nor were it hard to imagine that he, smarting as he then was under the
sense of all that had but just befallen him through the interference of
the Reformer, and listening for the moment to the influential persons
who promised him support, and possibly redress, was not altogether
indisposed to pay his enemy back for the irreparable injury he had
suffered at his hands. But there is nothing in all we know of Michael
Servetus that leads us for a moment to think of him as a revengeful
man; and though he may have lent an ear for a while to the suggestions
of his new friends, he must soon have come to conceive misgivings as to
the real meaning of their attentions.

Even whilst lying hidden in his inn he could hardly have failed, after
a while, to learn something of the state of political partisanship
prevalent in the theocratic republican city of Geneva, and so have been
more than ever anxious to be gone. Hence the nailing up of his chamber
windows. On Sunday, August 13, he had even spoken to the landlord of
the ‘Rose’ to procure him a boat for the morrow, to take him by the
Lake as far as possible on his way to Zürich. But his resolution to
delay his departure no longer was taken too late. Weary of confinement,
and always piously disposed, he ventured imprudently to show himself
at the evening service of a neighbouring church; and being there
recognised, intimation of his presence in Geneva was conveyed to
Calvin, who, without loss of a moment, and in spite of the sacredness
of the day, denounced him to one of the Syndics, and demanded his
immediate arrest.

To effect this in the city of Geneva of the year of grace 1553 was no
matter of difficulty, little being made in those days of seizing on
the person, and not much of taking the life. The accredited officer,
armed with a warrant, found Servetus in his inn; informed him he was
to consider himself a prisoner; led him away, and threw him into the
common jail of the town.



CHAPTER II.

GENEVA AND THE STATE OF POLITICAL PARTIES AT THE DATE OF SERVETUS’S
ARREST.


‘The year 1553,’ says Beza, in his life of Calvin, ‘by the impatience
and fury of the factious, was a year so full of trouble that not only
was the Church, but the Republic of Geneva, within a hair’s breadth
of being wrecked and lost; all power had fallen into the hands of the
wicked (i.e., the patriotic party of freethought, opposed to Calvin,
and designated the Libertines), that it seemed as though they were
on the point of attaining the ends for which they had so long been
striving.’ Eighteen years had then elapsed since the Reformation
first found footing in Geneva, and twelve since Calvin had resumed
his position--interrupted during a period of two years--as a sort of
spiritual dictator--‘the Lycurgus of a Christian Democracy’--not only
as Organiser of the Faith, and Minister in the Church, but as regulator
and supervisor of the morals and manners of the people.

The Reformation, in so far as Geneva was concerned, seems to have been
hailed on political much more than on religious grounds. Emancipation
from the yoke of the Roman Catholic bishop, under which its citizens
had long fretted, meant escape from the political machinations,
through the Priest, of France on the one hand, of Savoy on the other.
The change from Romanism to Protestantism appears to have been due,
in fact, to no particular discontent of the Genevese with the old
Popish forms, or to any zeal for the new doctrines of Luther and his
followers, but to a cherished hope of being suffered to pass their
lives with as little control as might be from authority of any kind,
and that little imposed and administered by themselves.

Moral discipline was notoriously lax over Europe in the early years of
the sixteenth century, nowhere perhaps more so than at Geneva; and the
liberty after which its people sighed was often understood as license
rather than as life within the limits of moral law. Accident, however,
having brought John Calvin, already a man of mark, to Geneva in the
course of the year 1536, he was seized upon by William Farel, then in
principal charge of the spiritual concerns of the city, and yielding
to his most urgent entreaties--conjured, indeed, in the name of God,
to remain and aid in the work of the Reformation--Calvin consented to
cast in his lot with the Genevese, still jubilant over their lately
recovered liberties and little amenable to discipline of any kind.

A more unlikely conjunction of elements can hardly be conceived than
that of the ascetic, gloomy Calvin with the lively, self-indulgent
Genevese, to whom life meant present enjoyment, and religion a pleasant
addition to existence on festivals and Sundays, to be put off and on
with their holiday garments and less to be thought of than the next
excursion to the mountains in summer, or the approaching assembly for
merriment and the dance in winter.

To Calvin life and its import wore a totally different aspect. To him
the present was but a prelude to the future, a discipline preparing for
eternity, and religion therefore the great end and aim of existence.
Anchorite himself in the truest sense of the word, he would possibly
have had herbs the food, the crystal spring the drink of the community.
Fatalist too to a great extent through his doctrine of election and
predestination, the joys of life--if life perchance had any joys--and
its trials--and they were many, were to be taken with like passiveness
and equanimity. Even the inclemencies of the seasons, as dispensations
of providence, were not to be over-anxiously guarded against: the
school-house windows, it is true, were to be glazed or protected in
some sort by diaphanous skins or horn; but this was to be no higher
than their lower halves; and in so much only that the snow-drift, the
wind and the rain might not interfere with the work of the scholars.

Conscious himself, through natural endowment and added learning, of
superiority to all about him, Calvin had little or no sympathy with the
liberty the Genevese were so proud of having achieved. A despotism
was his ideal of civil government; and his proclaimed purpose from the
first in settling at Geneva was to make the city a stronghold of the
Gospel, its people subjects of the Lord, and their faith and morals a
model of all that had been proposed by the Reformation in the sense in
which he understood it. And how much he differed in this from Luther,
and Zwingli, need not be said. The

    Wer liebt nicht Weiber, Wein und Gesang
    Ein Narr ist er und bleibts sein Lebenslang[68]

of him of the Wartburg, must have sounded as simple profanity to Calvin.

That Calvin’s heavy hand was borne with by the Genevese for two years,
in the first instance, with no small amount of discontent, indeed, but
with no outbreak of rebellion, must be set down, we imagine, to the
credit of human nature, which endures for a season the irksome and
even the ill, in hope of the good to follow; but when the pressure
is crushing, and there is no prospect of alleviation, resistance,
inevitably, follows in the end.

Calvin and the special Court he had inaugurated under the title of
the Consistory, had been anxious to impose some new and still more
stringent ordinance on the city, but the Council, whose sanction was
required before any of the consistorial edicts could have way, refused
assent, and the citizens, emboldened by this, forthwith appeared in
open rebellion against what they rightly construed as the tyranny
and self-assertion of the clergy. So unpopular in fact did the whole
clerical party become at this time, that its leader and his colleague
Farel were formally banished from the city, and the subordinate
ministers had to shrink into something like obscurity if they would
escape the necessity of accompanying them.

In sore displeasure with the ungrateful conduct of the people, as
he regarded it, Calvin sought shelter first in Basle and then in
Strasburg, where he was welcomed by his brother Reformers, and by and
by provided with honourable means of subsistence, by an appointment as
Professor of Theology in the University.

But he was not destined long to enjoy the leisure of the Professor’s
chair. Before two years had elapsed, the more moderate, orderly, and
pious party had come again into power in Geneva, and he was waited on
by a deputation, headed by Amied Perrin, a man of the highest influence
among his fellow citizens, and entreated to return and save them from
themselves; orderly existence, not otherwise attainable as it seemed,
being seen after all to be not too dearly bought even by heavy payments
in the shape of subserviency to theocratic rule.

Calvin returned to Geneva, then, and under circumstances that gave him
a great advantage over the difficulties he had formerly encountered
in carrying into effect the system of discipline he was bent on
introducing. Perrin’s appearance at the head of the deputation to
Strasburg, he had seen as an omen of the best augury; for Perrin’s
influence in the Civic Council was very great, and his approval of any
measure proposed, was taken as a sufficient guarantee by the citizens
at large, of its value. But Perrin was ambitious, and certainly
reckoned without his host when he hoped by patronising John Calvin to
make him in any way the instrument of his own selfish or party designs;

    Two stars keep not their orbit in one sphere;

and if Perrin was bent on power, so was Calvin.

Perrin, it may be, had never heartily sympathised with the Reformation
in its religious aspects; he certainly sympathised still less with
the Reformer. A man of pleasure at heart, he was perhaps somewhat
indifferent to religion. Ready enough to abet Calvin in his austerities
towards the many, he was minded to keep his own neck and the necks
of his friends out of the yoke. Calvin, however, had no idea of
anything of the kind: his law was of general application, or it had
no significance; his rule was _one_ and it was for all. No wonder,
therefore, that Perrin’s league with the Reformer came to an end ere
long; and that when it was not open dissidence between them, it was
always smouldering enmity.

Calvin’s grand instrument in enforcing his discipline was the
Consistory, an assembly made up of the entire acting clergy of Geneva,
with a limited number--no more than twelve--of the laity added. This
body was entrusted with very extensive powers, which it may be imagined
were not suffered to lie idle, when we find it pretending to regulate
the head, and even the foot, gear of the women; intruding itself into
the dwellings of the people, too, and looking into their saucepans and
pint pots to see that there was no indulgence in the way of eating and
drinking!

Supported by a certain number of the native Genevese, Calvin’s hands
were immensely strengthened by the crowd of refugees for conscience
sake who poured into Geneva from France and Italy, to escape the
persecution that had already begun to rage in these countries. Henry
II. of France, having presented his mistress, Diana of Poitiers,
with the proceeds of all confiscations for heresy, her agents were
indefatigable in hunting out converts to the doctrines of Luther and
bringing them to justice, as it was called: the greater the number of
heretics burned, the higher rose the fame for piety of the profligate
king, and in like measure the revenue of the heartless courtesan.

The refugees as a rule, and almost as a matter of necessity, were
entirely devoted to the Reformer; and having been most liberally met
by the Genevese at first, and put on a footing of all but perfect
political equality, they made themselves felt, through their numbers,
in the frequently recurring elections that formed elements in the
Genevese Republican system. Favoured in all by Calvin, the strangers,
as they increased in numbers, came at length to be ever more and more
disliked and distrusted by the native population; so that Calvin may be
found using language such as this, when, speaking in the same breath of
the fugitives, his friends, and of the people who sheltered both him
and them within their walls:--‘They (the Genevese) are dissatisfied
with you (the Refugees), because you run not riot with them in their
disorderly and barren lives.’ The native population, in a word, found
themselves, ere long, controlled and overcrowed by a host of aliens,
led by a bigoted and intolerant ecclesiastic--a state of things never
to be patiently endured, but to be ended at the first favourable
moment; and it is to the culminating dissatisfaction of the Genevese
with clerical rule in 1553, much akin to that of the year 1538, when
Calvin had been forced to quit the field, that Beza refers in the
passage quoted above.

So unpopular had Calvin again become in the year 1553, that, in
writing to one of his friends, he speaks of discontent and distrust
as universally prevalent, especially among the more youthful of the
population. ‘The accumulated rancour of their hearts,’ he says, ‘breaks
out from time to time; so that when I show myself in the street, the
curs are hounded on me: hiss! hiss! is shouted to them; and they snap
at my legs and tear my clothes.’ Calvin must in truth have had a trying
time of it during most of the years he lived among the Genevese;
his own bed could as little have been of roses without thorns, as he
suffered the beds of the citizens to be of down; for, save during
brief lulls, he and they seem to have passed their lives in a state of
covert, when it was not one of open, warfare.

One of the earlier hostile moves of the civil Council in the present
crisis against the Reformer was the exclusion, from the Greater Council
of the State, of some members of the Minor Council, known to be among
the number of his adherents. More than this, his enemies having come
to outnumber his friends in the lately elected Council, he found
himself frequently outvoted in directions in which he had been used to
think of his wish or his will as already the law. Among those who had
now obtained a seat in the Supreme Council, was one whom he had put
under the consistorial ban for some infringement of discipline, and
forbidden, until he showed signs of amendment, to present his child
for baptism. To choose Councillors from among persons such as this,
however, was, in Calvin’s eyes, to fly in the face not only of all
authority, but of the Almighty himself.

Another move against him was a resolution taken by the Council to
deprive the Refugees of the arms with which they, like the native
population, had been entrusted at an earlier period for the common
defence. This was taken greatly to heart by Calvin, who stigmatised it
as a ‘barbarous and brutal act, perpetrated by enemies of the Gospel
against exiles for Christ’s sake.’ But the Council did not stop here
in showing its hostile mood. The priests, in the olden time, had
been privileged like the rest of the Community to be present at the
deliberations of the Council, and the Ministers, their successors,
had never been challenged in their title to show themselves as
auditors in the same way. They were now, however, by a resolution of
the Council, declared incompetent to appear at its sittings without
special permission given. Of no great moment in itself or politically
considered, this interdict pointed with even needless significance
to mislike and mistrust of the clergy as a body, and of their
distinguished head in particular--the Council would neither have him
nor his followers immediately informed of all the business they had in
hand.

How keenly all these proceedings were felt by Calvin is apparent from
the tone of the letters he wrote to more than one of his friends at
this time. To his friend Sulzer, of Basle, he says that for the last
two years they pass their lives at Geneva as if they were living amid
the declared enemies of the Gospel! and he complains bitterly of the
interference he suffers in the exercise of his multifarious functions.

Among the particular incidents that tended to widen the breach between
Calvin with the ecclesiastical party behind him, and the civil
authorities backed by the more liberally disposed of the citizens,
was the case of Philibert Berthelier, one of the Councillors, a man
of note, respected and much looked up to by the Genevese; for he
was the son of that Philibert Berthelier who had nobly striven for
the liberties of the city, in former years, and gone to his death on
the scaffold in their assertion. Berthelier, some eighteen months
or so before, for an offence against one or other of the arbitrary
ordinances of the Consistory--for having gone to a ball with his wife
and daughter, we think, they having further exceeded in the matter
of dress--had fallen under the interdict of the Ministers, and been
forbidden to present himself at the celebration of the Lord’s supper,
until he had made submission and promised amendment.

Now Berthelier was not only a man of weight in the Republic
politically, but in the opinion of his fellow citizens, of really
irreproachable life and conversation; and, his friends being then in
power, he took steps to have the interdict removed, which kept him from
gratifying his pious feelings by partaking of the commemorative feast.
To this end he presented a petition to the Council, setting forth the
grievance under which he laboured, and praying for relief; and they,
on their part, took it on them forthwith not only to absolve him of
the disability of which he complained, but, proceeding a step farther,
they declared the Consistory incompetent in time to come to pronounce
sentences of Excommunication at all; transferring the right to do so
from the Ecclesiastical Assembly to the Minor Council of the State.

This was felt by Calvin as the heaviest blow that had yet been dealt
him. Of course he opposed the measure with all his might. Heard in
opposition to its adoption, he declared that if it were maintained
the very foundations of the Reformation, in so far as Religion
was concerned, would be compromised. But all his eloquence was
thrown away; after long and eager discussion the decree was finally
confirmed. Disgusted with the opposition he encountered at every point,
Calvin--though he soon shows that he is anxious to free himself from
any suspicion of the kind--appears at the time to have had serious
thoughts of throwing up his charge and abandoning the city of Geneva to
its own evil devices. It was probably the consciousness that if he left
Geneva he would seem to be turning his back on the whole of the Reform
movement, which kept him from taking the extreme step he may probably
have meditated. He had become accustomed, moreover, to play the despot,
and he who has once indulged in the bitter sweets of arbitrary power
scarcely retires otherwise than by compulsion into the shade of private
life. And then, whither was he to betake himself? Not to France,
though he still looked with longing eyes towards his native country;
for open heresy, such as he must have felt himself bound to profess,
there led inevitably to the stake; neither to Germany, where his own
peculiar views were not popular, and the several centres of the great
and glorious movement towards light and freedom, brought to a head by
Luther, were all adequately occupied. He must stay at Geneva, then,
his ‘coign of vantage;’ abide the storm of the present, and hope for
better days to come. But it was in bitterness of heart, waiting till
reaction had spent itself, and his voice could again be heard as the
voice of authority.

It was at this moment precisely, whilst debate and dispute,
ecclesiastical and civil, were at their height, that Michael Servetus
reached Geneva, and altogether unwittingly and unwillingly on his part
became a subject of contention between the party of free thought,
now in open rebellion against Calvin and the more rigid of his blind
or compliant followers. And we shall possibly see reason to conclude
that Servetus, though tried for heresy and finally condemned and done
to death by slow fire for blasphemy against God, was in some measure
also the victim of the political situation--the scape-goat of the two
parties contending for supremacy in Geneva. Had there been less of
political rancour there in the year 1553, and Servetus been allowed
competent counsel to defend him, it seems to us, on the most careful
consideration of the whole subject, that the proceedings would not
have been suffered to take the turn they did, which led inevitably
to his condemnation to death, whilst the memory of Calvin would have
escaped the portentous blot that goes so far to obscure all the other
great qualities that attach to his name. The world might then have had
triumphs within the domain of physical science other than the discovery
of the lesser circulation of the blood, from the man of genius;
and the Reformation--type of the holy cause of human progress--have
advanced without the lamentable compromise of principle it suffered
when its leaders sent one of the very foremost men of his age to the
stake.

In presence of the individual he had come to look on as his personal
enemy as well as the enemy of God, Calvin appears to have forgotten
all his earlier aspirations after toleration. He was not now thinking
of himself as editor of ‘Seneca on Clemency,’ when to the text of
his author enjoining self-control or moderation of mind--_animi
temperantia_--having the power to take vengeance, he adds: ‘It belongs
to the nature of the merciful man that he not only uses opportunities
of vengeance with moderation, but does not avail himself of even the
most tempting occasions to take revenge;’[69]--a noble sentence, but
written in days long past, when he saw persecution for conscience sake
inaugurated by Francis I. Neither had he himself as author of the
earlier editions of the ‘Institutions’ in his mind, where he is as
emphatic in denouncing the ‘Right of the Sword’ in dealing with heresy
as he was now, having become the spiritual dictator of Geneva, ready to
call it at all times into requisition. Calvin’s natural temperament,
in fact, disposed him to severity in furtherance of his purposes and
his will. We have seen him in his letter to Farel of February 1546,
threatening Servetus with death, did opportunity serve; and writing to
a French lady--Madame de Cany--about or a little before the time that
now engages us, in referring to some one who had behaved ungratefully
both to his correspondent and himself, he says: ‘I assure you, madam,
that had he not taken himself off so speedily, I should have held it my
duty, in so far as it lay with me, to have had him burned alive.’[70]

But everything seemed to conspire against Servetus at the moment of his
reaching Geneva; for almost immediately after his arrival there, and
whilst his presence was still unknown to Calvin, the Reformer received
a letter from a correspondent, Paul Gaddi of Cremona by name, that
must have greatly strengthened his fears of Servetus’s objectionable
influence in the world, and, on theological grounds, confirmed him
in his purpose of pushing matters to extremities and silencing the
dangerous heretic for ever, did he but find the opportunity. Gaddi,
as it seems, had lately reached Zürich from the north of Italy. At
Ferrara, he informs his correspondent that he had had many long and
interesting conversations with the Duchess, who showed the very best
and most friendly dispositions towards the Reformed Faith. But she was
sorely in want of a competent person, ‘a faithful Minister of the word
of God,’ as a guide against those by whom she was surrounded. Gaddi,
therefore, at the desire of the Duchess requests Calvin to send her
some one who would give her true instruction, and free her from the
teaching ‘of the miserable Monk she has at her elbow, who seeks not
after what Christ requires, but after the things that be profitable to
himself.’

    ‘Much have I seen in these [northern] Italian cities,’
    continues Gaddi, ‘and many have I met with who profess Christ;
    but few and far between are those who faithfully serve the
    Lord. Various, truly, are the heresies that there abound, so
    that the land is, in truth, a very Babylon. This, you may be
    sure, I have not beheld without extreme distress of mind and
    tearful eyes; but the heresy that flourishes the most of all,
    is the doctrine of the proud and Satanic Servetus, insomuch
    that many of the faithful entreat you to come forward, and
    controvert his writings; a task to which they think you are
    the more bound to apply yourself, as he boasts that no one has
    yet dared to write against him. I, too, if my entreaty may be
    of any avail, beseech you to undertake the business. I know
    the influence your writings have with all in Italy, who fear
    God. If you deigned to take pen in hand against George [he had
    published a tract against predestination], who was every way
    unworthy of your notice, for he was plunged in the deepest
    ignorance, how much rather ought you to come forward against
    this diabolical spirit, who is looked on by so many as having
    the highest authority in matters of doctrine. And truly his
    teaching, though it be of the most impious and pestilent kind,
    is calculated to impose on those whose eyes serve them not to
    see far before them. Wherefore, I entreat you yet again, to
    undertake the task I propose. Postpone, I pray you, for a few
    days your other studies; betake you to this most necessary
    work, and be the hammer that shall smite the enemy.

                                           Your most devoted,

                                         PAULUS GADIUS CREMONENSIS.

    Zürich, July 23rd, 1553.[71]



CHAPTER III.

SERVETUS IS ARRAIGNED ON THE CAPITAL CHARGE BY CALVIN.


In ordering the summary arrest of Servetus at the instance of Calvin,
as we have seen, the Syndic only conformed with usage. But by the law
of Geneva grounds for an arrest on a criminal charge must be delivered
to an officer styled _Le Lieutenant Criminel_, or the Lieutenant of
Criminal Process--a personage evidently holding a responsible position
in the city--within twenty-four hours thereafter, failing which
the party attached was set at liberty. To prepare the articles of
impeachment required, Calvin must have spent the greater part of the
night, turning over the leaves of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ for
the matter of his charges. These bear very obvious marks of the haste
in which they were put together, several of them being repetitions of
others that had gone before, and scarcely anything like order being
observed in the arrangement of the particulars adduced. Within the
legal time, however, the prosecutor was ready with his articles, no
fewer than thirty-eight in number, upon which, as a preliminary to
further proceedings, it was the duty of the ‘_Lieutenant Criminel_’ to
interrogate the prisoner, and from his replies to determine whether or
not there were grounds to found what we should call a True Bill against
him.

Nor was this all. Criminal charges must be made at the instance of some
one who should avow himself aggrieved, and not only bind himself over
to prosecute the suit he sought to institute to a conclusion, but be
content to go to prison with the party he accused, and, in conformity
with the requirements of the Lex Talionis, or law of retaliation,
engage, in case his charges were not made good, to undergo the penalty
that would befall the incriminated party if they were substantiated.

It would of course have been not only inconvenient, but unbecoming for
Calvin, the real prosecutor in the case, to go into durance vile, his
presence in the outer world being so much required. He had therefore to
procure a substitute; and we might have expected to find William Trie
again brought forward, and made to figure in setting on foot the trial
for life or death at Geneva, as he had already lent himself to figure
in that of Vienne. But Trie was not produced; it was a certain Nicolas
de la Fontaine, a French refugee in the service of Calvin, in what
capacity report speaks variously, some designating him cook, whilst
others, to enhance his dignity, call him the Reformer’s Secretary.
Calvin himself speaks of him familiarly as _Nicolaus meus_, my man
Nicolas. That Fontaine was really the Reformer’s cook seems now to have
been satisfactorily ascertained; but he may have been a man of parts
and education for all that; refugees for conscience sake could not
always choose their calling in their new abodes.[72]

On the morning of August 14th, accordingly, Nicolas de la Fontaine
presented himself before the _Lieutenant Criminel_, Tissot, and the
prisoner having been produced, De la Fontaine declared himself formally
the Prosecutor of Michael Servetus of Villanova on certain criminal
charges, demanding at the same time that the prisoner should, under
penalties, be required to answer truthfully to each of the articles now
to be alleged against him.

These articles, thirty-eight in number, are taken exclusively from
Servetus’s work entitled ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ which is assumed
as having been published and found detrimental to the public peace
(although it had as yet been seen by no one in Geneva but Calvin
himself), not any of them from the earlier work entitled ‘De Trinitatis
Erroribus,’ the printing of which and its presumed influence in
troubling the Churches of Germany, infecting the world with heresy and
causing many to lose their souls, being nevertheless, as we see, the
first item in the list of its author’s delinquencies. Calvin must have
seen the propriety of producing the treatise on Trinitarian Error,
published two and twenty years ago; but he had not a copy himself,
neither could he hear of one either in Geneva or Lausanne; for he had
written to his friend Viret for aid in the matter. But Viret could not
help him--he had no copy himself; his friend Sonnerius, however, he
thinks, has one; ‘were he at home he would not assuredly refuse us the
use of it.’ Obtaining it on Sonnerius’s return, he will send it with
the least possible delay to Geneva.[73]

The articles of impeachment, classified and summarised, with the
answers of Servetus, are as follows:

I. and II. That about twenty-four years ago he began to trouble the
Churches of Germany with his errors and heresies, and published an
execrably heretical book by which he infected many, and for which he
had been condemned and forced to fly the country that he might escape
punishment.

To this Servetus replies: That he is not conscious of having troubled
any of the Churches of Germany; and though he owns that he had
published a little book at Hagenau, he is not aware that he had
infected anyone, and certainly was never either tried or condemned for
anything he had done in Germany, neither had he been forced to fly from
that country to escape punishment.

III. and IV. Item: That he has not ceased since then from spreading
abroad his poison, in annotations to the Bible and to the Geography of
Ptolemy, and more recently in a second book, clandestinely printed,
containing an infinity of blasphemies, &c.

Replies: That it is true he wrote notes to the Bible and to Ptolemy;
but thinks he said nothing in them that is not good; and in the book
lately printed, he does not believe that he blasphemes; but if it be
shown him that he says anything amiss he is ready to amend it.

V. Item: That having been imprisoned at Vienne, when he saw that the
authorities there would not accept of his retractations, he had found
means to escape from prison.

Replies: That he was indeed prisoner at Vienne, having been denounced
to the authorities there by Monsieur Calvin and Guillaume Trie, and had
made his escape from prison, because the Priests would have burned him
alive had he stayed; the prison, however, having been so kept that it
seemed as though the authorities meant him to save himself.

VI., VII., VIII. Item: That he had written, published, and said that to
believe there were three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
in the single essence of God was to forge or feign so many phantoms;
to have a God parted into three, like the three-headed Cerberus of the
heathen poets; all this being said in the face of such doctors of the
Church as Ambrose, Augustin, Chrysostom, Athanasius, and the rest, as
well as of many holy men of the present day--Melanchthon among the
number, whom he had called a Belial and Satan.

Replies: That in the book he wrote on the Trinity, he had followed
the teaching of the Doctors who lived immediately after Christ and
the Apostles; that he believes in a Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost--but owns that he does not attach the same meaning to the word
_person_ as do modern writers; and though he admits that he spoke of
Melanchthon in the terms stated, it was not in any printed book or in
public, but in a private letter; whilst Melanchthon, on his part, and
in a printed book, had used language of the same kind towards him.

IX. to XX. and XXVI. The whole of these articles, with wearisome
prolixity and iteration, refer to the transcendental theological dogmas
that touch on the way and manner in which Christ is to be regarded
as the Son of God; the relationship in which He stands to the ‘Word’
of the Gospel according to John, and how the Word was made Flesh; in
what respect Christ is God, and in what respect he is Man, and how,
as the Son of God, he could have died like a man. To these recondite
propositions Servetus replies in a way that has a sufficient look of
orthodoxy, and was evidently intended by him so to appear. He avows his
belief in the items generally on which he is challenged with unbelief;
and it may be that he could do so with a clear conscience, he putting
his own interpretation on the language he used. Christ he acknowledged
as the Son of God, but this was because of his having been begotten in
some mysterious way by the Deity in the womb of the Virgin Mary, He
not having existed actually but only potentially in the mind of God
before the epoch of his incarnation. Christ, however, he says, was
_prefigured_ by the angels who make their appearance from time to time
in the Hebrew Scriptures. When _persons_ are spoken of, further, they
are to be thought of as _images_, _formalities_, not real entities or
individuals; so that the three persons he acknowledges in the Godhead
are but so many _dispensations_, _modes_, or _manifestations_ which the
Invisible God makes of himself in creation.

XXIV., XXV. and XXXV. These articles bear upon Servetus’s conceptions
of the Deity, in whose Oneness of Being he declares that he yet
acknowledges not merely three _hypostases_, as generally said, but a
hundred thousand _dispositions_ or _dispensations_, so that God is part
of ourselves, we part of His Spirit; the _ideas_ or _patterns_ of all
creatures and of all things having been eternally present in the Divine
Mind, though they only acquired form and substance in Creation.

XXVII. and XXIX. Item: That he had said that the soul of man was
mortal; that there was nothing immortal in fact, but an elementary
breath, the soul having become mortal after Adam’s transgression.

He replies by denying the allegations, and declares that he never
thought the soul of man to be mortal; all he has said in his writings
in connection with the subject of immortality being to the effect that
the soul was clothed in corruptible elements which perished, not that
the soul itself was mortal or died in its essence.

XXX., XXXI., and XXXIII. Item: That he had spoken of Infant Baptism as
a diabolical invention, competent to destroy the whole of Christianity.

He admits that he has said so, and is still of this opinion; believing
as he does that none should be baptized until they had attained to
years of discretion. But he adds, that if it be shown him he is
mistaken in this, he is ready to submit to correction.

XXXVII. Item: That in his printed book he has made use of scurrilous
and blasphemous terms of reproach in speaking of M. Calvin and the
Doctrines of the Church of Geneva.

Replies: That he himself had had abusive language applied to him by
Calvin in public; Calvin having said that he, Servetus, was intoxicated
with his opinions; a reproach which had led him to reply in similar
terms to his opponent, and to show at the same time from his writings
that he was mistaken in many things.

XXXVIII. Item: That knowing his last book would not be suffered,
even among the Papists, he had concealed his views from Geroult, the
superintendent of the office where it was printed.

Replies: That he corrected the press at Vienne, but did not conceal his
views from Geroult, who knew well enough what his opinions were.

       *       *       *       *       *

_August 15._ The information taken by the Lieutenant in conformity
with the course of procedure required having been communicated to
the Syndics and Council now constituted Judges in a criminal case,
and, the Court of Judicature solemnly inaugurated, the prosecutor and
prisoner were produced; when Nicolas de la Fontaine made a formal
demand that Michael Servetus of Villanova, whom he charged with heresy,
should be put upon his trial. He presented an address or petition,
at the same time, in which the heads of the charges he proposed to
prove against the prisoner were briefly enumerated, namely, the grave
scandals and troubles he had caused among Christians for twenty-four
years or thereabout; the heresies and blasphemies he had spoken and
written against God with which he had infected the world; the wicked
calumnies and defamations he had published against the true servants
of God, more especially against Monsieur Calvin, whose honour as his
Pastor, he--the prosecutor--felt bound to uphold if he himself would
be accounted a Christian, and also because of the discredit that
would attach to the Church of Geneva, did the prisoner go at large,
condemning, as he does, and in an especial manner, the doctrine that
is there preached. ‘In as much, therefore,’ continues Calvin through
the mouth of Fontaine, ‘as the prisoner on his examination yesterday
replied in nowise satisfactorily and simply by yea or nay to the
questions put to him, as you must have perceived, the greater number of
his answers being mere frivolous songs, may it please your Lordships to
compel him to answer formally, without divergence or circumlocution, to
each of the articles proposed; to the end that he be not suffered to
go on mocking God and your Excellencies, and that the proponent be not
frustrated in his rights.

‘Now the proponent having _prima facie_ made good his allegations and
satisfied you that the prisoner has been guilty of writing heresy and
dogmatising in the manner alleged, he begs you humbly to recognise the
prisoner Michael Servetus as a criminal deserving of prosecution by
your attorney-general; and that he, the proponent, be now declared free
of all charge, damage, and interest in the business. Not that he shuns
or declines to follow up a cause of the kind, which every child of God
ought indeed to pursue to the death, but in compliance with the usages
of your city, and because it is not for him to undertake duties that
belong to another.’

Having taken this petition into consideration, and determined that
there was _prima facie_ evidence of criminality on the part of the
prisoner, the Council proceeded in the afternoon of the same day to
the old Episcopal Palace, now turned into the Court in which criminal
causes were tried, and commenced proceedings according to the forms in
such cases used and provided.



CHAPTER IV.

THE TRIAL IN ITS FIRST PHASE.


Formally installed in the Court of Criminal Judicature, Nicolas de la
Fontaine and Michael Servetus were ordered to be brought before them
by the Judges; and the prosecutor declaring that he persisted in his
allegations, and the prisoner being put on his oath to speak the truth
under penalties to the extent of 60 sols, the Trial commenced.

To the question as to his name and condition, the prisoner replied that
his name was Michael Serveto, of Villanova, in the kingdom of Aragon,
in Spain, and that by profession he was a physician. The articles of
impeachment already produced were then restated seriatim, and to each
he was required to answer categorically. This he did, and generally
in the terms he had used in his preliminary examination, but accusing
Calvin, and Calvin alone, more imperatively than before, of having
provoked his arrest and prosecution at Vienne, adding that had Calvin
had his way, he--the prisoner--would assuredly have been burned alive.
To all that had reference to the Doctrine of the Trinity, the Nature
of Christ, the relations between God and created things, he spoke as
he had already done. He again and pointedly denied that he had ever
said the soul was mortal; but admitted having written that he thinks
man commits no mortal sin before the age of twenty years, adding that
‘under the Law God had so ordered it.’ The Baptism of Infants he
acknowledged to be in his eyes a diabolical invention, and calculated
to corrupt the whole of Christianity; declaring however, as formerly,
that if it were shown he erred in this opinion he was ready to retract
and amend.

As to the alleged attacks on the Church of Geneva through the person of
Calvin, he answered as before, and now added that all he had written
against Calvin was with no view or desire to calumniate or injure him,
but only to show him his errors; and he now offers in open congregation
to make good his words by a variety of reasons, and the authority of
the Scriptures.

This was to throw down the gauntlet to Calvin and offer him battle on
ground he could not decline, since he too acknowledged no authority
but holy writ, and we need not doubt of his readiness to take up the
pledge: there was nothing indeed, as he declared, for he was present
in Court watching the proceedings, that he desired more than to show
himself in such a cause before all the world.[74] The Court may be
excused for having imagined that in agreeing to such a wordy duel
between Calvin and Servetus they would be letting the question slip
out of their proper hands; or, as M. Albert Rilliet[75] suggests, the
friends whom Servetus had among its members, measuring the mental
calibre of the two men, may have feared to see him they favoured
worsted by his redoubtable opponent, whose dialectical skill and
theological lore were so well known to all. Deciding against the
proposal of the prisoner, therefore, the tribunal determined that the
trial should proceed in the usual way.

So far as they had gone we can readily conceive that the answers
of Servetus must have seemed little satisfactory to the Court. On
even a large proportion of the allegations made, they may have felt
their incompetency to form an opinion; but upon a few they believed
themselves fully able to come to a conclusion. What he had said on
Infant Baptism in particular was greatly calculated to prejudice him
in the minds of his Judges; the doctrine he held being one among the
dangerous moral, social, and political principles of the Anabaptists,
though the whole of these were emphatically disavowed and condemned
by Servetus, who really appears to have had nothing in common with
the dreaded sect but the opinion that Baptism should not be performed
until years of discretion were attained, and that the rite should be
solemnised by immersion or affusion, not by merely sprinkling the face
with water.

The decision of the Court at the end of the day’s proceedings was to
the effect that, as the answers of the prisoner Michael Servetus
implied criminality, the trial should go on; but that the prosecutor,
Nicolas de la Fontaine, whilst bound over to continue the suit, might
be released on the production of sufficient bail; and this being
immediately forthcoming in the person of Monsieur Antoine Calvin,
brother of the Reformer, Calvin’s substitute and _Chef de Cuisine_
was discharged from custody, whilst Servetus was remanded to gaol.
Thus formally constituted prisoner on a criminal charge, Servetus now
delivered to the gaoler all the money and valuables he possessed, the
coin amounting to ninety-seven gold crowns, the valuables being a gold
chain of the value of twenty crowns, and as many as seven gold rings
set with a table diamond, a ruby and other stones of price.

       *       *       *       *       *

August 16, the Court, constituted as usual, was observed to be less
numerously attended than on the day before, but with two important
additions: Philibert Berthelier among the Councillors, by right,
and Germain Colladon, introduced as Counsel for De la Fontaine.
Between these two men, says M. Rilliet, more perhaps than between any
other notable members of the Republic of Geneva, the contrast was
striking and complete. They might even severally have been assumed as
representatives of the parties which divided the state and contended
for mastery. Berthelier was the acknowledged head of the patriotic
party, mostly native Genevese, the Libertines as they were called,
from their zealous defence of the immunities and privileges of the
citizens against the old tyranny of the Roman Catholic Bishops and the
recently introduced consistorial rules and regulations of the Reformer.
As son of one of the martyrs to the public liberties of Geneva, and
possessed of wealth and influence, Berthelier had long been opposed to
the authority of Calvin; his patriotism and his self-respect revolting
against the domineering character of the man and the stringency of his
religious and sumptuary regulations, so that the struggle in which he
and Colladon now engaged, with the unhappy Servetus as their subject of
contention, was but an interlude in the strife that had been carried on
between Berthelier and Calvin for years.

In Calvin’s arrest and prosecution of Servetus there can be no question
that Berthelier, making light of the theological grounds on which the
Spaniard was arraigned, and trusting to the strength of his party in
the Council, believed he saw a means and opportunity of worsting his
old irreconcilable enemy. He thought little, and it may be perhaps felt
somewhat indifferent as to the fate that would befal the individual
whose cause he espoused, did he fail in the purpose he proposed to
himself. Hate of Calvin blinded him to more remote contingencies.

Colladon, engaged of course by Calvin on behalf of Nicolas de la
Fontaine and the prosecution, was a man of a totally different
stamp from Berthelier. A refugee from France, his native country,
for conscience sake, and seeking in Geneva freedom to enjoy his
religious convictions; austere in disposition, rigid in morals and
punctilious in outward observance, he had been forced to fly from his
home in consequence of zeal too openly expressed for the cause of
the Reformation. Safe in Geneva, he gave himself heart and soul to
Calvin, and was found by him among the most useful of his auxiliaries
in formulating his discipline and enforcing its observance, Colladon’s
familiarity with business and his legal knowledge qualifying him in
every way for the part he was ambitious to play. The party of which he
was a distinguished member were now in the minority, but did not so
remain for long. Within two years of the time that engages us, they had
gained the ascendency, and were not slow to avenge themselves on the
legitimate sons of Geneva by forcing them in numbers into banishment,
and filling their places by naturalising the French and Italian
refugees, who continued pouring into Geneva in crowds, to escape the
persecution that then raged in their native countries.

The fiery dispute in which Berthelier and Colladon engaged at this
day’s sitting, seems to have concerned Calvin much more than Servetus,
its ostensible subject: the French _Reformer_ of Christianity far more
than its would-be Spanish _Restorer_, was the true object of the attack
and defence. The debate in the old episcopal palace, in a word, was
between the representatives of the two factions that contended for
supremacy in Geneva.

We have unfortunately no complete account of what transpired on this
the first encounter between Berthelier and Colladon. The Records of the
Criminal Court are significantly silent on the subject; but that it was
violent there can be no question, so violent that the morning sitting
had to be suspended before the usual hour of rising. Yet are we at no
loss to divine the ground on which the presumed altercation arose,
when we note the point where the blank in the proceedings occurs,
coming as it does in immediate connection with the articles having
reference to the subject of the Trinity. Servetus, in the course of the
interrogatory to which he was subjected, having replied equivocally
or unsatisfactorily as to the sense in which the word person is to
be understood in speaking of the Trinitarian Mystery, Colladon must
have contended that he could show by various passages of the printed
book before the Court, that the prisoner now spoke otherwise of the
Trinity than he really believed, and proceeded to handle him somewhat
sharply, in the way Counsel learned in the Law are still wont to treat
those they have under cross-examination; somewhat unfairly, too, as
Berthelier may have thought, so that he interposed, and must even have
said something not only in defence of the prisoner, but of the opinions
incriminated. And here it was, and in consequence of the warmth of the
debate, that the proceedings had to be suspended.

Before breaking up, a number of books, which had been produced by the
Counsel for the prosecution in support of his case, were directed to
be left with the clerk of the Court; and each party in the suit, having
noted its case, was ordered to be in readiness to go on at the next
sitting. The books in question were the works of Melanchthon and the
letters of Œcolampadius, the Geography of Ptolemy, and the Bible of
Pagnini; the two last of which the prisoner owned to having edited and
annotated. The most important of all, however, was the ‘Christianismi
Restitutio,’ upon the interpretation of some of the passages of which,
in contrast with the present replies of the prisoner, arose the
altercation that led to the momentary suspension of the proceedings.

From the Registers of the Grand Council we learn that on the morrow of
the stormy session of the sixteenth, Calvin presented himself before
the Council and demanded an audience. He had learned, he said, that
Philibert Berthelier had meddled in the suit against Michael Servetus,
and even spoken in defence of some of the incriminated passages of the
prisoner’s book--a mortal offence in Calvin’s eyes, and an indication,
not to be mistaken, of hostility to himself as virtual pursuer of the
obnoxious heretic. The time had come, in fact, when, throwing aside
disguise, Calvin must come from behind Nicolas de la Fontaine, avow
himself the prosecutor, and nip in the bud, if he could, the new growth
of rebellion against his rule for which Servetus, he saw, was now to be
made the pretext.

In the interference of Berthelier, which we see must have given
such umbrage to Calvin, we have the first open indication by the
Libertine party of their sympathy with the prisoner; sympathy, real
or pretended, that may be said to have sealed the fate of the unhappy
Servetus; for the issue, though continuing to be debated on the ground
of speculative theology, on which so many questions might be raised
and doubts entertained, was henceforth to a certain extent transferred
to the domain of politics, on which there was the one practical issue
involved, as to who or which party that divided the state of Geneva
should have the upper hand.

It may be fairly presumed that Calvin, with the great advantage he had
in natural talent and acquirements, had no difficulty in satisfying the
majority of the Judges of the culpability of Servetus on theological
grounds; his opinions differed too obviously from all they had ever
been led to believe concerning the Trinity and Infant Baptism,
especially, to leave them in any doubt as to this. Servetus differed,
in fact, on every point brought forward, from the doctrine familiar to
the mind of Geneva--enough of itself to lay him under suspicion; and,
accepting Calvin’s interpretation of the incriminated passages of his
book, which his Judges must have felt bound in some sort to do, they
could have had nothing for it, had the prosecution now insisted on
having made out their case, but to proceed to judgment, and pronounce
the prisoner guilty. But this was not done; the Judges appear not only
to have felt no kind of hostility towards the solitary stranger in the
singular and painful position in which he stood, but even to have been
moved to something like compassion in his behalf.

After the suspension of the early sitting of the 16th in consequence of
the stormy scene between Berthelier and Colladon, and a pause to permit
the minds of all to regain a state of calm befitting the circumstances,
proceedings of an informal kind only were taken later in the day.
These are interesting, nevertheless, because of the recommendation of
the Judges to Calvin in sequence to his avowal of himself as virtual
prosecutor, to use every fair endeavour to bring the prisoner to what
were thought to be better views, as well as to furnish the Court with
further and more satisfactory evidence of his heretical guiltiness.
To this end Calvin was requested by the Court to visit the prisoner,
‘the better to show him his errors--_affin que myeux luy puyssent
estre remonstrées ses erreurs_: to assist him, _à assister luy_, and
to do what he could with him in respect of the interrogatories put to
him, _et qu’il vouldra avec luy aux interrogatoires_. This surely is
both interesting and important. The Court would have spared the man,
and given him an opportunity of coming to an understanding with the
prosecutor on the difficult matters in debate between them. We shall
accordingly find by-and-by that Calvin, accompanied by a number of
ministers, in compliance with the benevolent intentions of the Court,
paid Servetus a visit in prison; but with results that might have been
foreseen--not only not advantageous to him, but damaging in the highest
degree to his interests.

On the resumption of proceedings next day, August 17, Calvin took his
seat on the Bench, and under him, in the area, were seen a number of
ministers, his colleagues, specially introduced, as said, to show the
prisoner his errors, but all, like their leader, we fear, rather bent
on convicting the dangerous heretic than hopeful of convincing and
winning over the mistaken theologian.

Colladon, as counsel for the prosecution, now went on with his
interrogatories as at the last meeting; and various particulars which
had hitherto remained in the shade were brought prominently forward.
Among others it was positively averred that the prisoner had been tried
and condemned in Germany, a point only hinted at before; and passages
from private letters by Melanchthon and Œcolampadius were quoted in
support of the allegation. In these the severest censure is certainly
passed on the views of the prisoner; but, as he observed, the adverse
opinions of the Reformers referred to by no means implied that he
had ever been the subject of any judicial trial or condemnation in
Germany; a remark for which Colladon had no better rejoinder than to
say that had he and his printer been apprehended and tried, they would
undoubtedly have been condemned.

Questioned as to who was the printer of his book on ‘Trinitarian
Error,’ he said it was Joannes Secerius of Hagenau. On this, Colladon
went on to say that the book was full of heretical poison, and that it
was impossible it should not have infected many persons. But there was
no evidence adduced to show that it had; and it is not unimportant to
observe that Colladon’s statements here are based on a document which
is not before the Court, a copy of the book on ‘Trinitarian Error,’
though eagerly sought after, as we have seen, not being anywhere to be
found.

On the note or scholium in the Ptolemy, calling in question the truth
of the Bible account of Judæa as a land flowing with milk and honey,
on which he was challenged, Servetus declared that it was not by him,
but quoted from another writer, adding incautiously, from himself,
however, that the note contained nothing reprehensible or that was not
true. This aroused the ire of Calvin, who now interposed, not certainly
in agreement with the recommendation of the Court to show the prisoner
that he had been led into error through false information, as he might
have done, but to declare that he who approved the words of another
characterising Judæa as no land flowing with milk and honey, but as
meagre, barren, and inhospitable, necessarily inculpated Moses; and
that to use such language was egregiously to outrage the Holy Ghost.

Servetus, however, would not agree to this, coolly denying any such
conclusion; insomuch so, as Calvin himself tells us, in no very choice
terms, that ‘the villainous cur--_ce vilain chien_--though put to
shame by the obvious reasons adduced, did but wipe his muzzle, _ne
fit que torcher son museau_, and say: Let us go on, there is no harm
here--_passons oultre, il n’y a poynt là de mal_’.[76]

Another important article of the impeachment brought into prominence
in this day’s proceedings was from among the prisoner’s annotations
to the reprint of Santes Pagnini’s Bible, which he supervised, as we
know, for Hugo de la Porte, the publisher of Lyons. This Bible was
said by the prosecution to be encumbered with many glosses or comments
totally opposed to the Faith; the one most notably so of all perhaps
being appended to the thirty-third chapter of Isaiah, where the servant
of God who took on himself the sins of the people is spoken of by the
Prophet. ‘This passage,’ said Calvin, ‘is referred by the prisoner to
Cyrus, whilst every Christian Church refers it to Jesus Christ.’ But
Servetus was again bold enough to maintain his position in so far as
to say that the interpretation he had given of the passage was borne
out in some sort by the opinions of the old Doctors of the Church,
who acknowledged, as he said, a twofold sense in the Scriptures--one,
literal and historical, applying to contemporaneous personages and
events; another, mystical and prophetic, bearing on Christ and the
future. ‘In speaking of the individual referred to, as he had done, and
calling him Cyrus, he said that he nevertheless held the prophetical
and most important bearing of the text to be on Christ.’ But this did
not satisfy Calvin. He would by no means accept such an explanation,
and far from attempting by reason and kindness to win the prisoner
to views which he himself believed to be more in conformity with the
truth, he launched out in passion, and declared that ‘the prisoner
would never have had the hardihood thus villainously to corrupt so
grand a passage had he not, abandoning all shame, taken he knew not
what diabolical pleasure in getting rid of the whole Christian faith.’
The cool way in which Servetus stood this outburst appears to have
irritated the Reformer extremely. Servetus was in truth far in advance
of Calvin and his age in his exegesis. He was not blind, like all about
him, to the true import of the Hebrew writings styled prophetical,
but divined their only possible bearing upon events and individuals
contemporaneous with their writers--in some cases even past and gone.
It was to escape doing violence to the idea of the inspiration under
which Servetus credited these ancient writings to have been composed,
that he acknowledged a prospective reference to incidents still in the
womb of far distant time.

The printing of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ was next adduced and
made a principal topic of accusation against the prisoner. To the
question what object he had proposed to himself in having the book
printed, he replied that his main purpose was to ventilate his opinions
and have them controverted in case they were seen to be erroneous. But
Calvin rejoined that it was by no means necessary to print in order to
obtain correction of erroneous opinions, and this more especially in a
case such as his, where, as writer, he had already been admonished of
his errors.

The delicate, difficult, and most essential element in the impeachment,
that, namely, having reference to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was
now and again brought into the foreground. Particularly questioned on
this subject, Servetus maintained, that previous to the Council of
Nicæa no Doctor of the Church had used the word _Trinity_; and that
if the Fathers did acknowledge a distinction in the Divine Essence,
it was not _real_ but _formal_; that the _persons_ were nothing more
in truth than _dispensations_ or modes, not distinct entities or
_persons_ in the usual acceptation of that word. If he had called
the Doctrine of the Trinity, as commonly understood, a dream of St.
Augustine and an invention of the Devil, which he did not deny; if
he had further characterised the Trinity of modern theologians as a
three-headed monster, like the Cerberus of the poets, and styled
those who overlooked the true Trinity, which he himself recognised,
as Tritheists, it was solely because he believed the unity of God
to be denied or annulled by such a procedure. Colladon on this--and
prompted we may presume by Calvin--maintained that the views imputed
to the Fathers of the Church by the prisoner were false as well as
mischievous, and that he could adduce none but apocryphal writings full
of absurdities in support of what he said.

Most of the other views and opinions of the prisoner which were
quoted as heretical in the act of impeachment were either owned to
by him, interpreted in the way he understood them, or were taken as
proven by the Court; passages in support of this conclusion having
been referred to not only in the printed copy of the ‘Restoration of
Christianity,’ but in the manuscript sent privately six years before
to Calvin for his strictures. There is one particular, however, not
mentioned in the record of proceedings, but given by Calvin,[77] that
is not uninteresting, as showing the extreme pantheistic views to
which Servetus had attained, and may have prejudiced him not a little
in the eyes of his Judges, the air of offensive absurdity which the
pantheistic doctrine--adversely understood--assumes when pushed to
extremes, being made so prominently to appear. The question had turned
on the relations between the Divine substance and the substance of
creatures and things. ‘All things, all creatures,’ said Servetus,
‘are portions of the substance of God.’ Speaking in his own person,
and interposing at this point, Calvin says: ‘Annoyed as I was by so
palpable an absurdity, I answered: What, poor man, did one stamp on
this floor with his foot and say he trod on God, would not you be
horrified in having subjected the Majesty of God to such unworthy
usage?’ He, on this, replied: ‘I have not a doubt but that this bench,
this table, and all you can point to around us, is of the substance
of God.’ When it was then objected to him that on such showing the
Devil must be of God substantially; he, smiling impudently, said: ‘Do
you doubt it? For my part,’ continued he, ‘I hold it as a general
proposition that all things whatsoever are part and parcel of God,
and that nature at large is His substantial manifestation.’ Calvin,
we imagine, might have spared Servetus on this head when we call to
mind how he commits himself to pantheistic views in that passage of
his ‘Institutions’ we have already referred to, where he says he only
objects to call Nature God because of the harshness and impropriety of
the expression. He might further, with reference to the Devil, have
bethought him of the verse of Isaiah xlv. 7, where these words occur
as coming from Jehovah himself: ‘I form the Light and create Darkness;
I make peace and create evil.’ Or of this from Amos iii. 6: ‘Shall
there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it?’ Or yet this of
Ezekiel xx. 25: ‘I gave them statutes that were not good,’ &c. The
Jews, through by far the greater part of their history, as a people
acknowledged no Dualism in their Deity, as, indeed, they only looked
on their God Jahveh as the greatest among the Gods. He was the good
and the evil principle in one. But it is easy to imagine the damaging
impression which Servetus’s logical but terribly unorthodox statement
must have made on the minds of his Judges, ill-informed presumably as
they were on such questions. Had Calvin been minded to help instead of
determined to crush Servetus, he might even have quoted Luther, who
speaks in this wise in his Table Talk: ‘God is present in all created
things, and so in the smallest leaflet and tiniest poppy-seed--Gott
also gegenwärtig ist in allen Creaturen; auch im geringsten Blättlein
und Mohnkörnlein.’

Nor were the personal griefs of Calvin overlooked in the inculpation of
the prisoner. Beside the thirty letters printed in the ‘Christianismi
Restitutio,’ addressed to the Reformer, a copy of his ‘Institutions’
was now laid before the Court. This, like the MS. of the ‘Restitutio,’
sent privately and confidentially to Calvin, was covered on the margins
with numerous annotations, little in conformity, as may be supposed,
with the accepted tenets of the Church of Geneva, and more rarely still
complimentary to the author. At such insolent procedure we know that
Calvin was greatly offended, as appears by the language he thought fit
to use when writing to Viret and incidentally noticing the liberties
that had been taken with him by the annotator: ‘There is not a page of
the book,’ he says, ‘that is not befouled with his vomit.’

Neither was the tergiversation of the prisoner in what he had said
about Geroult’s part in the printing of the ‘Restitutio’ unnoticed. He
is now reproached with the variations in his replies on the subject to
the Lieutenant on the 14th, and to the Court on the 15th. His first
answer we believe was truthful--Geroult knew all about the book, as we
shall find from a letter of Arnoullet to his friend Bertet; his second
was untruthful, but uttered to shield the man who had aided him in his
enterprise, compromised, as he had come to see, by what he had said
before.



CHAPTER V.

THE TRIAL IN ITS SECOND PHASE, WITH THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF GENEVA AS
PROSECUTOR.


Arrived at this stage, all the documents on which it was proposed to
proceed being before the Court, and something more than a presumption
of the prisoner’s heretical opinions having already been made to
appear, Nicolas de la Fontaine, on his petition to that effect, and
his bail, Anthony Calvin, were formally discharged as parties to the
suit, its further prosecution being handed over to Claude Rigot, the
Attorney-General of the city of Geneva.

Before breaking up, however, and as if to occupy the time until the
usual hour of rising, a number of questions irrelevant to the main
plea, but tending to gratify the curiosity of the Court, were put to
the prisoner. Among the number of these he was asked particularly how
he had contrived to escape from the prison of Vienne. He informed the
Judges, that he had only passed two nights there; that the Vibailly, De
la Cour, was well disposed towards him, he having been of great service
to M. Maugiron, an intimate friend of the Vibailly, who had ordered
the gaoler to use him well, and allow him the freedom of the garden.
Taking advantage of this, he had scaled the wall and got away in the
manner already described, the Vibailly having taken care that he should
not be pursued and recaptured.

He added that he had intended and even tried in the first instance to
get to Spain, his native country; but finding the obstacles so many,
and fearing arrest at every moment, he retraced his steps and made his
way to Geneva, purposing to proceed to Italy.

Questioned further about the printing of the ‘Restitutio
Christianismi,’ he said it had been thrown off to the extent of
1,000 copies, of which the publisher had sent a bale to Frankfort in
anticipation of the Easter book-fair of that great mart. This was
a piece of information that was not lost on Calvin. He wrote a few
days after, having meantime gained further information, to one of the
Frankfort members, giving him intimation of what had been done, telling
him where the packet was bestowed, and recommending its immediate
seizure and destruction, for which he seems also to have furnished some
sort of warrant or authority, how obtained we are not informed, though
it was probably from Frelon.

Interrogated as to the money he had about him when imprisoned at
Vienne, he replied that his cash and valuables had not been taken from
him on his arrest there, but were still in his possession when he
reached Geneva.

The result of the unwarranted and eventful prosecution of which he was
the subject had thus far been anything but favourable to the prisoner.
The intervention of Berthelier, above all, may be said to have been
highly prejudicial by bringing Calvin into the field in person, and
supplying him with an additional motive for urging the suit to the
issue that could alone prove satisfactory to him--the condemnation
capitally of his insolent, personal, and dreaded theological opponent,
now associated with his political enemies. Calvin was in truth much
too formidable a personage to be gainsaid on trifling grounds. More
than one member of the Court who might have been disposed to favour
the prisoner, could it have been done without open defiance of the
Reformer, quailed under his glance, and shrank from the responsibility
of opposing him, when the direction the prosecution had taken came to
be understood. It was even said to be more dangerous to offend John
Calvin in Geneva than the King of France on his throne! The prisoner
whose life was in debate was a stranger, unknown to the majority of
the Councillors; and it was doubtless thought better by the timid to
leave him to his fate, than to compromise themselves by taking part
with one who on his own admission entertained opinions adverse not only
to the doctrine of the Church of Geneva, but to all they had ever had
presented to them as characteristic of the Christian faith. There could
be no doubt that the man was a schismatic, a heretic; and heretic in
Geneva meant an opponent of the head of its Church and the form of
Christianity it represented.

Having by this time arrived at a better knowledge of the state of
affairs around him, and more than ever aware of the possible danger
in which he stood; beginning moreover to feel less confidence in the
support which we may be certain had been privately promised him, face
to face in fact with the man who had already sought his life and so
nearly succeeded in bringing him to a fiery death, Servetus seems now
to have seen the necessity of changing the somewhat confident tone he
had hitherto maintained in defending his opinions: reticence takes the
place of open assertion, and instead of any clear avowal or defence of
the views he held, he is now found fencing with the obvious meaning
of the language he has used, and the conclusions to which it leads,
prevaricating too at times; in a word, doing all in his power to appear
not to have written in the way the charges brought against him show
from his works that he had.

The trial from this time may be said to have acquired new significance.
The private prosecutor and his bail discharged, and the further conduct
of the suit handed over to the public prosecutor of the city, gave
it additional importance in the eyes of the community at large, and
heightened the interest felt in the issues involved.

Thrown into fresh hands, proceedings were necessarily stayed for a few
days to give the State Attorney time to get ready his case, so that
there was no meeting of the Court until the 21st. Between this date
and that of the suspension on the 17th, Calvin is said to have been
busy among those of the Council he reckoned either as friends or not
as avowed antagonists, satisfying their doubts or strengthening their
presumptions of the prisoner’s guilt; showing them the importance
to the cause of religion and society that he should be convicted;
picturing him as perhaps even less dangerous, if that were possible,
on account of the particular theological grounds set forth, than as
the enemy of all religion, sole foundation, as he said, of the entire
social fabric. The man had been already tried, convicted, and condemned
to death by the Roman Catholics of Vienne. Would they, the Senators
of Geneva, show themselves less zealous than the Papists of France in
the cause of God and their own true faith? Surely they would not, but
doing their duty and finding on the evidence, which Calvin relied on as
overwhelming, declare the prisoner guilty of the heresies laid to his
charge.

Whether seen from a Popish or Protestant point of view, though the
matters in debate had no more to do with real piety, with morality,
or the foundations of society than with the course of the seasons,
Servetus certainly entertained opinions on various topics of
transcendental theology different from those commonly received, and
in so far was a heretic. Of this much Calvin had no difficulty in
satisfying his supporters, who consequently felt themselves absolved
of any scruples they might have entertained about condemning one to
death on purely speculative grounds which they did not even pretend to
understand.[78]

Although what is said above about Calvin’s private interference
with the course of justice has been questioned, when we know that
he denounced his opponent from the pulpit in no measured terms, and
tampered with the ministers of the Swiss Churches when they were
consulted on the case, we need not be too scrupulous in accepting the
statement as true. He may have been alarmed by reports of something
like wavering on the part of certain members of the Court, and even of
questions raised as to the propriety of continuing a suit involving
matters so much out of the usual course of criminal procedure as known
at Geneva, and the competence of laymen to take such subjects into
consideration at all. Rumours to this effect reaching his ears may
have led him into a course the impropriety of which in calmer moments
he might possibly have understood. But Calvin was wholly without that
freedom from passion and that sense of relative equity which go to the
constitution of the judicial mind. He lived in a perpetual imbroglio
of quasi-criminal proceedings, mostly begotten by his own arbitrary
legislation; and he was in the constant habit of interfering in suits
before the Courts of Geneva, less as jurisconsult than as judge--as
judge, too, in causes so commonly his own. Clerical writers who have
lauded his comments on the criminal proceedings of Geneva have not seen
these in their true bearings, or they would have expressed themselves
more guardedly than they have done.[79]

That proposals had really been made at the meeting of the 21st to
abandon further proceedings against the prisoner, though overruled
by the majority, seems to be proclaimed by the resolution then come
to, viz., ‘Inasmuch as the heresies charged against Michael Servetus
appear to be of great importance to Christianity, resolved to continue
the prosecution.’ Such a resolution, though we have no intimation of
that which led up to it, coupled with Calvin’s activity out of doors,
suffices to show that Servetus had really had a chance of escape from
the grip of his pursuer at this particular moment. But the occasion
passed; and by way of strengthening themselves in their determination
to go on with the questionable business in which they were engaged,
we now find the Councillors of the Protestant city of Geneva actually
writing to the Popish authorities of Vienne, and making inquiry of them
as to the grounds on which Michael Servetus of Villanova, physician,
had been imprisoned and prosecuted by them, and how he had escaped from
confinement.

To confirm themselves still further in their purpose to proceed, it
was moreover resolved that the Councils of Berne, Basle, Zürich, and
Schaffhausen, together with the ministers of their Churches, should be
written to and informed of what had thus far been done and was still
in progress. In yielding to the instigations of Calvin, the Court in
these last acts is plainly enough seen to hesitate, and be indisposed
to trust entirely to his guidance. They would have the authorities of
the other Protestant cantons of Switzerland informed of what was going
on, and feel the pulse of their confederates as to the propriety of
proceeding farther, they, under all the circumstances, being likely
to be more impartially disposed than the Church of Geneva and its
distinguished head.

The Council of Geneva had in fact already had occasion to know that
where simple justice, whether in the interest of the General or the
Individual, was concerned, Calvin’s lead should not always be too
blindly followed. In the case of Jerome Bolsec, whom Calvin had
arraigned for heresy two years before, against whom he had used all his
influence to secure a conviction, and in which he would have succeeded
(and the man, almost as much a personal enemy as Servetus, would
have been beheaded) had he not been foiled by the recommendations of
the Swiss Churches and Councils, which were unanimous in counselling
moderation, the minor Council of Berne even went so far as to express a
distinct opinion against the enforcement of pains or penalties of any
kind in cases of imputed heresy.

But Calvin in his prosecution of those who opposed him always shows
himself both vindictive and pitiless. Speaking of the way in which
he would have had Bolsec disposed of he says: ‘It is our wish that
our Church should be so purged of this pestilence that it may not,
by being driven hence, become injurious to our neighbours.’ These
words will bear one interpretation only--Calvin would have had Bolsec
put to death. But he was withstood in his design, and mainly so by
the Church of Berne, the language of which must have been highly
displeasing to him; for the Reporter, in counselling moderation, says:
‘How much easier is it to win a man by gentleness than to compel
him by severity;’ and still more displeasing perhaps was that which
follows: ‘It cannot be said of God that He blinds, hardens, and gives
to perdition any man, without at the same time assuming that it is God
who is the Author of human blindness and reprobation, and therefore the
cause of the sin committed.’ Now Bolsec’s offence had been in saying
that men are not saved because elect, but are elect because of their
faith. ‘None are reprobate,’ continues the Reporter from Berne, ‘by the
eternal decrees of God, save those who of their own choice refuse the
election freely offered to all. How shall we believe that God ordains
the fate of men before their birth; foredooming some to sin and death,
others to virtue and eternal life? Would you make of God an arbitrary
tyrant, strip virtue of its goodness, vice of its shame, and the
wicked of the reproaches of their conscience?’ But this is to cut the
ground from under the feet of Calvin. No wonder, therefore, that as
the proud man would not, and the self-satisfied man could not, bring
himself to admit his error, he would have had him who exposed and led
to such an exposition of it put out of the way.[80]

It was whilst expecting replies from Vienne, and waiting the
convenience of M. Rigot, the Attorney-General, that the Court proceeded
to make inquiries of the prisoner concerning his relations with
Arnoullet, the printer of the ‘Restoration of Christianity,’ a letter
of his to a friend of the name of Bertet having now been put in and
read to the Court. In this letter, dated July 14, 1553, Arnoullet
informs his friend Bertet that he is still in prison, but is promised
his liberty next week, having got six substantial sureties for his good
behaviour in time to come. He had been villainously deceived, he says,
by his manager Geroult, who corrected the rough proofs of the book, but
never said a word of the heresies it contained.

    ‘I asked him,’ the letter proceeds, ‘whether it was all
    according to God? And he replied that it was; and further,
    that it contained a number of Epistles addressed to Mons.
    Calvin, which he was minded to translate into French. But this
    I forbade--without the permission of the author, which was
    refused. When last in Geneva, Geroult saw and informed M.
    Calvin that I had lately been there, without having waited on
    him. The truth is, that I did not think he would have me in
    such friendship now as in times past--by reason of my having
    had anything to do with such a monster, whom God look after!
    Geroult was in fact in league with the writer, and never let
    fall a syllable to me until after your departure for Frankfort
    [in charge of the Bale of the “Christianismi Restoratio” among
    other book merchandise]. This, as you know, gave occasion to
    your speaking to me so seriously as you did about the book in
    question.

    ‘As to what you say about my sending someone else to
    Frankfort,--understand me, that I will have no one go but
    yourself, and that you are to see every copy of the book
    destroyed, so that there shall be left of it neither a leaf nor
    half a leaf. Understand, too, that this is to be done without
    prejudice to anyone. I am only sorry that we have all been so
    grossly deceived in the business; but if God, our Father, leave
    us the other goods we possess--more by far than those we shall
    destroy--it will be well. As to what you say of my having known
    that Villanovanus had been rejected by the Christian Churches,
    and that avarice had something to do with my having undertaken
    the work, let it suffice that I deny this; and our long
    intimacy must have made you so well acquainted with me, that
    you will not doubt I now speak the truth. How the Inquisitor
    came to have your name, I cannot tell. I can only assure you
    that in all the interrogations to which I have been subjected
    by him I never named a living soul; nor indeed was there ever
    mention made of you in my hearing.... Be good enough to say
    to Mons. Calvin that I shall not be in Geneva again without
    seeing him; and that if I have not done my duty towards him in
    all respects, beg him to find some excuse for me. He who is
    the cause of this [meaning Geroult, doubtless] is now there;
    and when Monsieur Calvin shall have spoken with me, he will
    understand the reason of my saying nothing more at present.
    Make my respects to him meantime, and forgive me if I do not
    now write more particularly of our affairs.’

This letter we see by the date was written either shortly before or
about the time of Servetus’s arrival in Geneva, whither Geroult, who
was a native of the city, had betaken himself for safety on the arrest
of Servetus and Arnoullet. Bertet, fearing that Arnoullet might suffer
in the estimation of Calvin, seems to have thought that the best
means of exculpating his friend of complicity with the writer of the
heretical book was now to show the letter he had lately received from
Vienne to Calvin; and he, we must conclude, laid it forthwith before
the Court, with no purpose assuredly of aiding the prisoner in his
defence. Arnoullet’s letter in exculpation of himself goes far, as we
see, to compromise Geroult; and he being at this time in Geneva, his
liberty, perhaps even his life, was brought into danger.[81]

The letter to Bertet being shown to the prisoner, he averred that
he could not take it upon him to say whether it was from Arnoullet
or not, he never having seen any of the publisher’s handwriting; he
said, however, that it certainly was at Arnoullet’s establishment that
the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ was printed, and that Arnoullet had
been arrested and imprisoned at the same time as himself. Arnoullet’s
disclaimer of having known anything of the burden of Servetus’s book
must certainly be untrue. Unless all else we know in connection with
the business be false, he must have had shrewd suspicions of its
nature, and the suppression of his name as publisher, and of Vienne as
the place of publication, shows that he was not without misgivings of
possible unpleasant consequences following the appearance of the work
were it known that he had had anything to do with it.

Arnoullet’s letter gave Calvin a hint which he did not fail to
improve upon; for he too wrote to Frankfort informing his friends,
the Protestant ministers there, of the bale of Servetus’s books that
had been sent to their city--by Frelon, as I believe, not by Robert
Etienne, the bookseller of Geneva, as has been said,[82]--recommending
its seizure and the destruction of its contents.

Calvin begins his letter thus:--

    ‘I doubt not you have heard of Servetus, the Spaniard, who
    more than twenty years ago infected Germany with a villainous
    book, full of sacrilegious error of every kind. The scoundrel
    having fled from Germany and lain concealed in France under
    a false name, has lately concocted a second book out of the
    contents of the first, but replete with new figments, which
    he has had printed clandestinely at Vienne, a town not far
    from Lyons. Of this book we learn that many copies have been
    sent to Frankfort, in prospect of the approaching Easter fair.
    The printer, a pious and respectable person, when he came to
    know that the book was a mere farrago of Errors, suppressed
    the copies he had on hand. It were long did I enumerate the
    many Errors, the prodigious blasphemies against God, that are
    scattered over its pages. Imagine to yourselves a rhapsody made
    up of the impious ravings of every age; for there is no kind of
    impiety which this wild beast from hell has not appropriated.
    You will assuredly find in every page matters that will horrify
    you. The author is now in prison here at the instance of our
    magistracy, and I hope will shortly be condemned and punished.
    But you are to aid us against the further spread of such
    pestiferous poison. The messenger [the bearer of this] will
    tell you where the books are bestowed and their number; and the
    bookseller to whom they are consigned will, I believe, make no
    objections to their being given to the flames. Did he throw
    any obstacle in the way of this, however, I venture to think
    you are so well disposed, that you will take steps to have the
    world purged of such noxious corruption. You shall not want
    authority, indeed, for what you do in the business. If you
    are allowed to have your way, it will not then be necessary
    to seek the interference of your magistrates. But I have such
    confidence in you, that I feel persuaded my hint will suffice
    to guide your action. The matter, nevertheless, is of such
    moment, that I entreat you, for Christ’s sake, not to allow the
    occasion of showing yourselves zealous in your office to pass
    unheeded.

    ‘Farewell, &c.

    ‘Geneva, 6 Calends of September, 1553.’

The session of the 21st, preliminaries ended, was occupied in the
beginning with a dispute between the prisoner and Calvin, who came into
Court on this occasion again accompanied by a number of ministers, his
colleagues, introduced, says the Record of proceedings, to maintain the
contrary of the prisoner’s allegations in respect of the authorities
he cites as favouring his views. Calvin thereupon, taking the lead,
proceeded to interpret the passages of the Fathers referred to by the
prisoner in a sense different from that put upon them by him, and
showed satisfactorily that the word Trias or Trinity had really been
used by writers before the date of the Nicæan Council.

It was on this occasion, as we learn from Calvin,[83] that on a copy
of Justin Martyr being produced by him in support of his statement,
Servetus expressed a wish to see a Latin translation as well as
the original Greek, a slip which Calvin did not fail to turn to
the prisoner’s disadvantage, for knowing that there was no Latin
translation of Justin, he immediately challenged the prisoner with
being ignorant of Greek. ‘Look’ee,’ says he in his _Déclaration pour
maintenir la vraie foy_, ‘this learned man, this Servetus, who plumes
himself on having the gift of tongues, is found to be about as much
able to read Greek as an infant to say the A. B. C. ‘Seeing himself
thus caught’ continues Calvin, ‘I took occasion to reproach him
with his impudence. What means this, said I? The book has not been
translated into Latin, and you cannot read Greek. Yet, you pretend you
are familiar with Justin. Tell me, I pray you, whence you have the
quotations you produce so freely as if you had Justin in your sleeve?
But he with his front of brass, as was his wont, though he had leapt
from the frying pan into the fire--_sauta du coq à l’ânc_--quite
unabashed, gave not the slightest sign of feeling shame.’ No one,
however, who has been at the pains to look into the works of Servetus
will doubt for a moment that he was not only a competent Greek scholar,
but well advanced in the Hebrew also, with both of which languages he
shows that he was even critically acquainted. Seeing himself beaten
on the occurrence of the word Trinity in the Greek of Justin, he may
have thought to find a makeweight in a Latin translation against the
original produced by Calvin. There is indeed an ample display both of
erudition and linguistic accomplishments even in Servetus’s first work,
the seven books on Trinitarian Error.

Another and still more significant discussion now arose between the
Reformer and the prisoner--and in these ever-recurring debates we
see the persistency with which Calvin stuck to his opponent--as to
the sense in which the expression Son of God was to be understood.
Servetus maintained that it was not properly applied to him who bore
it until the moment of his birth. Calvin, on the contrary, insisted
that in conformity with the usual interpretation of the first chapter
of the Gospel according to John, the authority of the Creeds and the
teaching of the Churches, the words must be held to refer to the Divine
Word which became incarnate in Jesus Christ, having until then been
a distinct subsistence in the essence of God from Eternity. In reply
to this, Servetus explained and said that the common interpretation
of the language of John was mistaken; the Son, as he declared, having
only existed _formally_ or as an idea, dispensation or mode in the
mind of God previous to the Incarnation and Birth of Christ, not as an
entity--a _person_, in the usual acceptation of the word, possessed of
distinct individual existence.

Speaking authoritatively now and as from himself, Calvin rejoined that
if the Word had not been a distinct _reality_ in the essence of God,
it could not have united itself as such with the humanity of Christ;
that the body of Christ must then have been wholly of the substance of
God; and being so--not being perfect man as well as perfect God--the
redemption of mankind could not have been effected by his death. Why
the impossibility, thus assumed, is not said. But let us pause an
instant and think of one pious man tried for his life by another pious
man, on grounds such as these!--grounds on which neither the one nor
the other could find footing for a moment.

Without opposing his prosecutor by urging his own views more
particularly at this stage, Servetus now requested that he might be
furnished with the books necessary to him in his defence, and have
pens, ink, and paper supplied to him, with which to write a petition
to the Council. Calvin on this agreed to leave the volumes he had
brought into Court in the hands of the prisoner, and the Judges ordered
that any others he required should be purchased for him at his proper
cost. The jailer finally was directed to supply him with writing
materials; the paper, however, being limited to a _single sheet_! and
to see particularly to his being kept secluded--indication in either
case, we must presume, that the prisoner was believed not to lack
friends or prompters from whom Calvin thought it would be well to keep
him apart.



CHAPTER VI.

THE TRIAL IN ITS SECOND PHASE--_continued_.


When the Court assembled, on August 23, a series of articles, embodying
what may be characterised as a new Act of Impeachment, was presented
to it by M. Rigot the Attorney-General, headed as follows: ‘These are
the questions and articles on which the Attorney-General of Geneva
proposes to interrogate Michael Servetus, prisoner, accused of heresy,
blasphemy, and disturbance of the peace of Christendom.’

The questions and articles now presented differ materially from those
proposed in the first instance by Calvin in the name of his man,
Nicolas de la Fontaine. These, we have seen, refer almost exclusively
to the speculative theological opinions of Servetus, his disrespectful
treatment of Calvin, and his challenge of the doctrine preached in the
Church of Geneva. The articles of the Attorney-General bear on matters
more purely personal to the prisoner; on his antecedents; his relations
with the theologians of Basle and Germany; the printing of his books,
more particularly the last of them, and the fatal consequences that
must follow from its publication; his coming to Geneva, and so on.
Save his views on Infant Baptism, his other dogmatical opinions are
not particularly specified or brought prominently forward; and his
differences with Calvin and the Church of Geneva are not even hinted
at. The theological element in the prosecution, in a word, is almost
entirely abandoned for denunciations of the socially dangerous nature
of the prisoner’s doctrines, and his persistence in their dissemination.

In the present mood of the Court, and aspect of the prosecution, it
would almost seem that had Servetus been guilty of nothing more than
offences in the region of speculative theology and the use of uncivil
language towards Calvin and the Church of Geneva, his delinquencies
would not have put him beyond the pale of escape from all but
punishment of a secondary or insignificant kind. The Attorney-General’s
articles appear in fact to have been framed under the mistaken idea
that Servetus, through the whole course of his life, had been an
immoral and so a dangerous and turbulent spirit, of the kind with which
he was himself, perhaps, but too familiar in the City of Geneva. He did
not, any more than Calvin and the other Reformers, think of Servetus as
he was in truth--a speculative, yet perfectly pious scholar, intent on
bringing the Reformation of Christian doctrine, begun by Luther, still
nearer to the simplicity of Apostolic, or even of pre-Apostolic, times;
for Michael Servetus had the mind to see and to say that there was a
Christian Religion, based on love of God and man, with added faith in
its Author, before there were any Gospels; so that these are truly but
the varying and often discrepant reports of the Master’s teaching, with
mythological accretions and interpolated Greek philosophoumena.

Rigot appears from his articles, which have no look of having been
dictated by Calvin, to have regarded Servetus as one whose efforts from
first to last had been directed to the confusion of society through the
teaching of an immoral doctrine and the example of a dissolute life.
To force an avowal of so much from the lips of the prisoner himself
was therefore the main drift of the Attorney’s interrogatories. Must
not the prisoner be aware, said he, that his teaching gives licence to
youth to overflow in debauchery, adultery, and other social crimes,
as he maintains that there is neither sin nor misdemeanour in such
misdeeds, and no punishment due to them under the age of twenty years?
Why had he not himself entered into the holy state of matrimony? Had he
not studied the Koran and other profane books for arguments in favour
of Jews, Turks, and the like, and to controvert the doctrines of all
the Christian Churches? Had he not been imprisoned elsewhere than at
Vienne through having been guilty of various crimes and misdemeanours?
Had he not been a party to quarrels in which he had wounded another as
well as been wounded himself? If he had not led a dissolute and immoral
life, showing neither care nor zeal for all that became a Christian,
what could have induced him to treat adversely so much that lies
at the root of the Christian Religion? Had he not come, in fact, to
Geneva with a view to spread his doctrines and to trouble the Church as
there established? With whom had he had communication since he came?
Had he not spoken with William Geroult, and was not Geroult aware of
his intention to come to Geneva? and so on, in the same strain, the
questions amounting to as many as thirty.

But this was ground on which Servetus felt himself secure; he could
reply to all that was asked of him now with a clear conscience, and
without reticence or prevarication. He had nothing to hide in his past
life. No moral delinquency had been laid to his charge, and though he
may have had a squabble with the Faculty of Paris, the doctors were
notoriously a contentious crew, always quarrelling among themselves,
though they never, like the theologians, went the length of burning
one another. There was little, therefore, to be said on that head; for
the rest, he had lived soberly, honourably, industriously; earning his
bread in the sweat of his brain, and for the last twelve or fourteen
years had been incessantly engaged in the practice of his profession,
neither using the sword nor the spear, but salving the bruises and
stanching the wounds that men in their madness inflict on one another,
and nobly ministering to the yet longer list of ills in the shape of
fevers, fluxes, consumptions, apoplexies, cancers, dropsies, &c., &c.,
that waylay us on our course and give us rest at length.

The task which the public Prosecutor had set himself of showing up
Servetus as an ill-conditioned and quarrelsome person, as a debauchee
and evil-liver, and in the imputed licentiousness and irregularities of
his life to find a motive for his attack on the dogmas of the Christian
faith, was, therefore, a complete failure.

The Attorney-General of Geneva did not imagine, as it seems, that the
man who differed in his speculative theological opinions from the
masses, who follow their leaders like sheep, could be other than an
enemy to both God and man.

All the charges in the direction now taken, unsupported as they were by
a shadow of evidence, fell to the ground. Servetus could say with truth
that he was no disturber of the peace--had never in the whole course
of his life provoked a personal quarrel, and if he had once drawn his
sword, as hinted, it was not as aggressor, but in self-defence. By
physical constitution he said he was indisposed to matrimony; his not
having entered into that holy state being, as we have seen, one of the
items laid to his charge! Far from having failed in chastity of life,
he declared that he had been ever studious of Scripture precepts on the
subject, and was even bold enough to think that he had always lived as
a Christian. And truly and in so far as aught to the contrary was made
to appear in the course of the protracted and searching trial to which
he was subjected, Servetus must be held to come out stainless. The
logical conclusion, however, that speculative theological opinions,
whether in conformity with or adverse to accredited systems of belief,
had no influence one way or another on man’s moral conduct, was lost
upon Calvin and his age; and the vulgar world of to-day cannot yet be
said to have bettered their opinion.

The prosecution, losing ground the longer it continued on this tack,
reverted to what for it was the surer course--the assumed danger to the
cause of society and the peace of Christendom from the publication of
books having the character ascribed to those written by the prisoner.
In spite of all the warnings he had had, said Mr. Attorney Rigot, the
kind and repeated admonitions of learned theologians, sole authorities
on such subjects, and the unanimous condemnation his first publication
had encountered, he not only continued to adhere to his errors, but
with a view to spread them farther had written and printed a second,
which was in fact but a reproduction and enlarged edition of the first.

To this Servetus answered that he thought he should have offended God
had he not done so; ‘he had acted,’ he said, ‘with as perfect sincerity
as if his salvation had been in question.’ ‘Our Lord,’ he continued,
and quoting the tenth chapter of Matthew, ‘commands us to speak in
Light that we have been told in Darkness; and in the fifth chapter, the
Evangelist says further that we are not to put the Light we have under
a bushel, but to set it where it may be seen of all.’ Taking God and
his conscience for guides, therefore, he thought he was but following
the injunctions of the Scriptures and the ancient Doctors of the Church
in all he had written, nor does he now think that he has done amiss,
for his intentions were good; and, as the Evangelist already quoted
(ch. v.) declares: ‘If the eye be single then is the whole body full of
Light,’ he therefore believes that his intention having been good, the
deed which followed must be accounted good also. As to the printing of
the book entitled ‘The Restoration of Christianity,’ he had no regrets.
He had written and had it printed because he hoped to bring back to
its primitive meaning much that he thought was erroneous in current
interpretations of Christian Doctrine; his title of itself showed that
he intended _the Restoration, not the Destruction_, of Christianity,
with which he had been charged. With all this, however, he did not
presume to say that they who had written before him, and in a different
sense, understood nothing of the Christian Religion; he only thought
they had misconceived and misconstrued some things, they especially who
had formulated their opinions subsequently to the date of the Council
of Nicæa.

To the particular charge that he had spoken of the Doctrine taught in
the Reformed Churches as being nowise Christian, and condemned all who
did not think with himself, he replied that he never imagined that the
Churches of Geneva and Germany were doomed to perdition because of
their teaching; he only thought their ministers mistaken on some things.

At this point, a private letter addressed by the prisoner to Abel
Poupin, one of the Ministers of Geneva, written many years before,
was produced and read to the Court. Whence it came, or how it was
obtained, is not said; but as highly characteristic of the writer, and
foreshadowing the fate that was to befal him, it must have a place in
our story.

    Monsieur Abel!--Although it is most plainly shown, in my
    twelfth letter to Calvin, that the Law of the Decalogue had
    been abrogated, I shall add a few words that you may the better
    understand the innovation brought about by the advent of
    Christ. If you turn to Jeremiah xxxi., verse 31 _et seq._, you
    will find it stated distinctly that the law of the Decalogue
    was to be annulled. The prophet teaches that the Covenant
    entered into with the Fathers, when they left Egypt, was
    to be no longer in force. But this was the Covenant of the
    Decalogue. For in I Kings, chapter viii., it is said that the
    Covenant or Testimony--the Decalogue, to wit--was in the Ark
    with the Fathers at their exodus from Egypt, whence the Ark is
    called the Ark of the Covenant, that is of the Tables, or Ten
    Commandments of the Law. Now this was the form of the Covenant:
    God promised the Israelites that they should be his people, if
    they did according to the words of the Law, and they on their
    part engaged that they would obey them. Such was the Covenant.
    And it is of this Covenant that Jeremiah (chapter xviii.)
    speaks as being repealed, as does Ezekiel (chapter xvi.), and
    Paul likewise in his Epistle to the Hebrews. If God took us
    for his own under that Law, we should lie under the curse, and
    perish by its pressure. The Law therefore was repealed. God
    does not now receive us as his children but by faith in his
    beloved Son, Jesus Christ. See then what becomes of your Gospel
    when it is confounded with the Law. Your Gospel is without the
    One God, without true faith, without good works. For the One
    God you have a three-headed Cerberus; for faith a fatal dream,
    and good works you say are vain shows. Faith in Christ is to
    you mere sham, effecting nothing; Man a mere log, and your God
    a chimæra of subject-will. You do not acknowledge celestial
    regeneration by the washing with water, but treat it as an idle
    tale, and close the kingdom of heaven against mankind as a
    thing of imagination. Woe to you, woe, woe!

    This, my third Epistle, is addressed to you with the wish
    that you may be brought to better thoughts, and I mean not to
    admonish you any more. It offends you, perchance, that I meddle
    in those battles of the angel Michael, and seek to bring you
    into the strife. But study the part I refer to carefully, and
    you will see that there are men who do battle there, exposing
    their lives for Christ’s sake. That the Angels speak truth
    is proclaimed by the Scriptures. But see you not that the
    question is of the Church of Christ fled from Earth these
    many years? Is it not of division, of difference that John
    himself makes mention? And who is the Accuser challenging us
    with transgression of the Law and its precepts? Accusation and
    seduction of the world, he says, were to precede the battle;
    the battle therefore was to follow, and the time is at hand, as
    he also tells us. And who are they who shall gain the victory
    over the Beast? They who do not accept his mark. I know for
    sure that I shall die in this cause; but my courage does not
    fail me because of this; I shall show me a disciple worthy of
    my master.

    I much regret that, through you, I am not allowed to amend some
    places in my writings now in Calvin’s hands. Farewell, and look
    for no more letters from me.

    I stand to my post and meditate, and look out for what may
    further come to pass. For come it will, surely it will come and
    that without long delay.[84]

This remarkable letter, interesting in so many respects, is
unfortunately without a date; it is the last of three he had written,
however, and must have been produced either in 1546, or early in 1547.
Highly characteristic of the self-confidence and assurance of the
writer, we see him as ready to challenge the Reformers as they were
eager to denounce him. He does not call them heretics and blasphemers,
it is true, nor does he speak of having them punished for the mistaken
views they entertain; and therein he shows himself their superior.
Crying woe upon them for their errors, he never hints at the propriety
of burning them alive, though he is not blind to the great probability
of being subjected himself to a fate of the kind.

The letter to Abel Poupin, said Servetus to his Judges, contains
scholastic disputations on difficult subjects, in the course of which
controversialists make use of strong language with no purpose but
to enforce their views or bring their opponents to the same way of
thinking as themselves, and not because they believe them to be lost
souls by reason of the dissimilar opinions they entertain. For himself,
he continues, he had had more objectionable terms of reproach applied
to him, than any he had used to others; and these not by word of mouth
or in private letters like his own, but through printed books both in
the French and Latin tongues. What he had written to M. Abel, now more
than six years ago, was with no view to publicity, but simply to elicit
the truth--certainly with no intention of slandering the Republic of
Geneva and its Churches.

On the important question of baptism, he admitted being of opinion that
they who were baptized in their infancy were not truly baptized; but
added, that if it were shown him he was mistaken in this, he was ready
to amend and ask forgiveness.

The prosecutor reverting to the book lately printed and asking the
prisoner if he did not think it was calculated, through the doctrine it
taught, to bring great troubles on Christendom? he replied that he did
not think his book calculated to introduce dispute or difference among
Christians; on the contrary, he thought it would be found profitable,
and give occasion to the better spirits among men to speak better
things; and the truth, once admitted and proclaimed by the few, would
by and by spread to the many.

Challenged with having come to Geneva to disseminate his doctrines
and sow dissension among the Churches, he gave sufficient reason for
his presence among them when he said that he had only come on his way
to Italy, having been turned from his first intention of trying to
reach his native country, after his escape from the prison of Vienne,
through fear of arrest by the police of France.

It is but fair to infer, as M. Albert Rilliet observes, that the
present bearing of Servetus, and the moderation and pertinence of his
replies to all the questions put to him, must have made a favourable
impression on the Court. He was not now confronted with Calvin,
in whose presence he seemed to lose all self-control, neither was
he pressed upon questions of speculative theology, upon which he
either dared not declare himself openly, or, if he did, was at once
in opposition to all his Judges knew of religion. In Rigot as his
questioner he had nothing more than an officer discharging a public
duty, not the hostile partisan he had encountered in Colladon who,
as agent of Calvin, may have thought it incumbent on him to give the
most unfavourable turn to everything capable of being construed to the
advantage of the prisoner. The good impression presumed could hardly
fail to be strengthened by the petition of the prisoner addressed to
the Court and read on the next day of the trial, August 24, to this
effect:


_To the most honourable my Lords, the Syndics and Councillors of
Geneva._

    The Petition of Michael Servetus, now lying under a criminal
    charge, humbly showeth--That it is a thing new and unknown
    to the Apostles, Disciples, and ancient Churches, to make
    the interpretation of the Scriptures, and questions thence
    arising, grounds of criminal accusation. This is clearly
    seen from Chapters xviii. and xix. of the Acts of the
    Apostles, where accusers are referred to the Churches,
    when the matters in question bear upon Religion only. So
    too in the time of Constantine, when the Arian heresy was
    broached, and accusations were brought on the part both of
    Athanasius and Arius, the great Emperor, by his Council and
    the Councils of the Churches, decided that, according to the
    old doctrine, suits of the kind could not be entertained by
    civil tribunals--not even in the case of such notorious heresy
    as that of Arius,--but were to be taken into consideration and
    decided by the Church. Further, that heretics were either to
    be brought to reason by argument, or were to be punished by
    banishment, when they proved refractory and refused to amend.
    Now that banishment was the award of the ancient Churches
    against heretics can be proved by a thousand histories and
    authorities. Wherefore, my Lords, in consonance with Apostolic
    teaching and the practice of the ancient Church, your
    petitioner prays that the Criminal Charge under which he lies
    may be discharged.

    Secondly, my Lords, I entreat you to consider that I have
    committed no offence within your territory; neither, indeed,
    have I been guilty of any elsewhere: I have never been
    seditious, and am no disturber of the peace. The questions I
    discuss in my works are of an abstruse kind, and within the
    scope and ken of men of learning only. During all the time I
    passed in Germany, I never spoke on such subjects save with
    Œcolampadius, Bucer, and Capito; neither in France did I ever
    enter on them with anyone. I have always disavowed the opinions
    of the Anabaptists, seditious against the magistrate, and
    preaching community of goods. Wherefore, as I have been guilty
    of no sort of sedition, but have only brought up for discussion
    certain ancient doctrines of the Church, I think I ought not
    to be detained a prisoner and made the subject of a criminal
    prosecution.

    In conclusion, my Lords, inasmuch as I am a stranger, ignorant
    of the customs of this country, not knowing either how to speak
    or comport myself in the circumstances under which I am placed,
    I humbly beseech you to assign me an Advocate to speak for me
    in my defence. Doing thus, you will assuredly do well, and our
    Lord will prosper your Republic.

    In the City of Geneva, the 22nd day of August, 1553.

                                       MICHAEL SERVETUS,

                                             In his own cause.

This well-worded, and in its demands most reasonable address, strange
to say, received no notice beyond an order to the clerk of the Court
to enter it on the minutes; the prisoner being at the same time curtly
admonished to go on answering the questions addressed to him. But how
hardly the poor man was being used by his self-constituted Judges we
shall see by the tenor of the next petition he addressed to them. He
had been thrown into one of the foul cells or dungeons appropriated to
criminals of the vilest class, accused of crimes against person and
property; and there, in addition to mental anguish, he had to suffer
all the bodily miseries that filth, foul air, cold and vermin inflict.

The feeling evinced of late by the Court, in the prisoner’s favour,
appears now to have extended to the town; the liberal party, the native
Genevese, opposed to Calvin, making of his prosecution of the solitary
stranger a handle against him; his friends on the contrary speaking
of it as proclaiming him the undaunted defender of the cause of God
and religion! The trial we therefore see had become the occasion of
alarm to one political party in the state, of hope to another, and of
peculiar significance to both. Under present circumstances, matters
proceeding in nowise to his satisfaction, Calvin must come again to
the front; and we have it on unquestionable authority that it was at
this, the very crisis in the fate of Servetus, that the Reformer was
guilty of the crying injustice of availing himself of his pulpit,
and in the face of numerous congregations denouncing and vilifying
his opponent in no measured terms, exposing his unorthodox opinions
in their most glaring and repulsive aspects, proclaiming what he
characterised as their impious, blasphemous, demoralising nature, and
thundering reproaches on the mistaken sympathy that had lately begun
to be entertained for the author of such infamies. By right or by
wrong Calvin was resolved that his old theological enemy, now turned,
as he believed, into their tool for his humiliation by his political
opponents, should not escape him.



CHAPTER VII.

THE TRIAL CONTINUED--THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL RECEIVES FRESH INSTRUCTIONS
FOR ITS CONDUCT.


In the course of this extraordinary trial there seems never to have
been the slightest difficulty made about shifting the grounds of the
Accusation. The particulars on which the prisoner was interrogated
were scarcely the same in all respects on any two successive days, and
often wide as the poles asunder of the proper articles of impeachment
produced against him. The petition just presented by the prisoner
was thus, without scruple as without challenge, now made the ground
of a series of questions and harangues by the prosecutor, studiously
calculated to prejudice him in the eyes of his Judges.

Rigot had in fact made a great mistake in his own articles of
inculpation. The prisoner, as it seemed, was even likely to escape
through his mismanagement; but, otherwise advised, and as if to make
amends for the line he had taken at first, he now showed himself either
indisposed or afraid to follow further the dictates of his own more
equitable nature. He had been in conclave with Calvin and received
fresh instructions from him, as Servetus affirmed without being
contradicted. Rigot, in truth, was no longer free, but cowed by the
stern resolve of the man of mind and iron will.[85]

_August 28._--Abandoning the moderate tone he had hitherto observed,
and taking the petition of the prisoner for his text, Rigot now
entered on the task prescribed him of showing that the early Christian
Emperors, contrary to the allegation in the petition, did take
cognisance of heresy, and by their Laws and Constitutions consigned all
who denied the doctrine of the Trinity to death. ‘But the prisoner,’
said Rigot, ‘his own conscience condemning him and arguing him
deserving of death, would have the magistrate deprived of the right
to punish the heretic capitally. To escape such a fate it is that he
has now put forward the false plea that for false doctrine the guilty
are never to be summarily punished. Not to seem to favour the errors
of the Anabaptists, moreover, ever rebellious against the authority of
the magistrate, it is that the prisoner in his petition now pretends
to repudiate their doctrines; yet can he not show a single passage in
his writings in which he reprobates their principles and practices.’
All this was obviously most unfair to the prisoner. He was certainly
opposed to infant baptism, and in so much agreed with the Anabaptists;
but, far from declaring himself inimical to the constituted authorities
of the state, he is emphatic in proclaiming the necessity of upholding
them in the exercise of their lawful authority, and on the duty
incumbent on subjects to obey.[87]

‘The further allegation of the prisoner,’ continued the public
prosecutor, still harping on the petition, ‘that he never communicated
his opinions to anyone, is manifestly false; for here we have had
him saying that he should think he offended God did he not impart to
others that which God had revealed to him. How shall we believe that,
for the thirty years during which he has been engaged in elaborating
and printing his horrible heresies, he has never communicated a word
of them to anyone? Bethink ye, that he began at the age of twenty--an
age when young people invariably communicate their views and opinions
to one another, their friends and fellow-students--and by this judge
of the kind of conscience the man puts into his answers with a view to
abuse justice--as if he repented in any way of his horrible misdeeds!
for though now saying that he is ready to submit to correction and ask
pardon, he again and far oftener audaciously maintains that he has said
nothing and done nothing amiss.’

Whether influenced by Calvin, to whose party in the State Rigot
appears to have belonged, or involved in the suit, and believing
it his duty to do all in his power to obtain the conviction of the
prisoner, we see him now speaking as if he were intimately persuaded of
Servetus’s culpability, and even looking on him as already condemned;
hence the indignation with which he repels the petitioner’s request to
have Counsel to assist him in his defence. This, indeed, was a demand
that could by no means be granted without taking the case from the
criminal category in which it had been placed by Calvin from the first.
It is not so very long since the felon or the incriminated for felony
among ourselves was denied the advantage of Counsel, and we are not to
wonder at the same rule obtaining in the Republic of Geneva more than
three hundred years ago.

Had Servetus succeeded in obtaining Counsel, he could not, by the laws
of Geneva, have been dealt with capitally; and this would not have met
the views of Calvin, it being impossible in his opinion adequately
to punish the crime of which he held the man had been guilty by any
infliction short of death. Rigot therefore became eloquent on the
petitioner’s insolence, as he called it, in asking for Counsel to
aid him in his defence. ‘Skilled in lying as he is,’ said M. Rigot,
‘there is no reason why he should now demand an advocate. Who is there
indeed,’ he proceeds, ‘who would or who could consent to assist him in
his impudent falsehoods and horrible propositions? It has not yet come
to this that such seducers as he have been allowed to speak through
Counsel; and then there is not a shadow of the simplicity that might
seem to require assistance of the kind. Let him therefore be disabused
of any hope he may have conceived that so impertinent a demand can for
a moment be entertained, and ordered to reply by yea or nay to the
further questions to be put to him.’ Rigot, we might fancy, must have
thought that artful lying was a principal part of a counsel’s duties to
his client.

Descending to further particulars suggested by the petition, the
prisoner was asked, ‘On what grounds he rested the statement he makes
concerning the judgment of heretics in the ancient church?’ To which
he answered: ‘On the histories we have of Constantine the Great.’
‘In the course of his law studies at Toulouse, however,’ said the
prosecutor, ‘the prisoner must have made acquaintance with the code of
Justinian, with the chapters in particular which treat of the Trinity,
of the Catholic Faith, and of Heresy and Apostacy, in which he must
know that opinions such as those he professes are condemned.’ The
prisoner replied that ‘it was now twenty-four years since he had seen
Justinian, and indeed he had never read him save in a cursory way, as
young men at school or college are apt to do; and then,’ he went on to
say, ‘Justinian did not live in the age of the primitive church, but
in times when many things had become corrupted; when Bishops had begun
to tyrannise and had already made the Church familiar with criminal
prosecutions.’ To this most pertinent reply, no answer was attempted.

Reproached with having calumniated the Ministers of the Word of God as
teachers of false doctrine--which on his part, said Monsieur Rigot,
amounts to a capital crime--Servetus admitted that calumny of the kind
deserved the severest punishment, but maintained nevertheless that in
disputation it was common and not unpardonable for opponents to gainsay
one another in strong language, without being held guilty of calumny or
defamation, and so of deserving punishment by the civil authorities for
what they say.

Referring next to his intercourse with Œcolampadius and Capito, to
whom he had ascribed conformity with his views, although, said Rigot,
he must know that they were both doctors well approved by the reformed
churches, and consequently could not possibly be of his mind on the
subjects in debate; he replied ‘that consonance in every particular
was not universal either among the Reformers or the reformed churches;
Luther and Melanchthon, for instance, had both of them written against
Calvin on the subject of the sacraments and free will. Without being
in a condition to prove what he says in his petition, he declares
nevertheless that in conversation with Capito, when they were private
and without other witness than God, he--Capito--did assent to his
views. Œcolampadius, he owned, had withdrawn the approval he seemed to
accord in the first instance.’

When we refer to Œcolampadius’s letters,[88] we have no difficulty in
believing what Servetus here asserts to be the truth. It was only after
Servetus had more thoroughly exposed his opinions in conversation, that
the Reformer of Basle saw the _unsoundness_, which had not appeared
in the confession of faith sent him at an earlier period by his
correspondent. And here let us observe that, whilst Œcolampadius is
now particularly cited, nothing is said of Capito, still a Minister in
the Reformed Church. Capito, however, was, as it seems, not entirely
to be relied on in his views of the Trinity, that stumbling-block in
the way of the first Reformers, so many of whom we have found giving
but a half-hearted assent to the verbal contradictions it involves: the
Reformers could spare one another as it seems, on the subject, though
they had no mercy for Servetus!

It being objected to the prisoner that he was in manifest contradiction
with himself when he said he thought he should offend God did he not
impart the doctrine that had been revealed to him; he replied that what
he had stated was his opinion and the truth; not-withstanding which he
had spoken of his views to none but the doctors of the Reformed Church
particularly named; a course he had followed, indeed, in consonance
with the commandment of our Lord, not to cast pearls before swine: ‘I
would not proclaim myself to incompetent persons, and I was living
among Papists in times when there was active persecution going on and
much cruelty practised.’

The prosecutor now alleged, but as usual without a tittle of evidence,
that the prisoner had had extensive epistolary relations with Italy, a
country in which it was believed his doctrines had many followers--a
fact, said Rigot, which it was unlikely he did not know, and less
likely, still, not to improve upon, did he know it. To this Servetus
replied by a simple denial: he had had no communications with Italy
by letter or otherwise; adding that his only correspondents had been
Œcolampadius, Calvin, Abel Poupin, and F. Viret, from whom alone the
Court had any information concerning letters of his. Had we no other
intimation of Calvin’s prompting, at this stage of the proceedings,
than the reference now made to the spread of Antitrinitarian doctrines
in Italy, we should feel assured that it was he who was fighting under
the mask of Rigot, as he had formerly fought under that of Trie and
of De la Fontaine. Rigot was not likely to know much of the spread of
Antitrinitarian views in Italy, but Calvin was, as we learn distinctly
through the letter of Paul Gaddi to him, which we have quoted. Calvin,
indeed, makes pointed and angry reference to such a state of things
both in his ‘Refutatio Errorum’ and ‘Déclaration pour maintenir la
vraie Foy.’

The circumstances connected with the printing of the ‘Restoration
of Christianity’ at Vienne were once more brought up, the prisoner
being particularly questioned as to his relations with the publisher
Arnoullet and his manager Geroult. In contradiction to what he had
already admitted on this head, and with the letter of Arnoullet to
Bertet lying open before the Court, he now averred that he had not
had any, even indirect, communication with Geroult on the subject of
his book! This, we regret to think, must necessarily be untrue. The
difficulty he had had to find a publisher, as we see by the letter
of his friend Marrinus; the premium he had paid Arnoullet to have
the work undertaken, the secrecy with which the printing had been
carried on, added to other minor terms of the contract--that all was
to be at his proper cost, that he was to be his own corrector of the
press, &c.---everything, in a word, assures us that both Arnoullet
and Geroult were as well aware of what they were about as the author
himself. Arnoullet, we may be certain, never intended to appear as
either the printer or publisher of the heretical work. It was to come
out in Italy, in Switzerland, in Germany--anywhere, everywhere, save
at Vienne, Lyons, or Paris, the principal emporia of the book trade of
France. Neither, indeed, did Michel Villeneuve, the Physician, intend
to show himself at once as its author. The M.S.V., on the last page,
was a private mark by which the child might be known and claimed by the
parent at some future time, when his fame had spread over Europe, when
he had been eagerly enquired after by an admiring world, and raised
above the heads of Luther, Melanchthon, Œcolampadius and Calvin, as
the great ‘Restorer of Christianity’!

The persistence with which Servetus stuck to the untruth now uttered is
not difficult of explanation: his first admission of complicity on the
part of the Viennese publisher and his manager was made inadvertently
and without forethought; his retractation and denial came of reflection
and better feeling, when he saw that the admission was calculated to
bring the two men who had aided him in his undertaking into the same
trouble as himself. In spite of what M. Rigot says, Michael Servetus
never meets us save as a man of a perfectly guileless nature--more
guileless perhaps than truthful.

As every point in the several indictments was made subject of renewed
inquiry, so do we now find further questions addressed to the prisoner
on his life and social habits; for the prosecution, as we have seen,
held it matter of moment to present him, if possible, as a person
of immoral and ill-regulated life. They had not now, however, any
more than formerly, a particle of evidence to show that he had ever
lived otherwise than soberly, chastely, and respectably; and as to
the allegation, brought up against him for the second time, that he
had said women were not such paragons of virtue as to make matrimony
necessary to secure their more intimate converse, he declared, as he
had done already, that he had no recollection of ever having said
anything of the kind; but if he had, it was by way of bravado, and to
conceal a certain infirmity under which he laboured which indisposed or
incapacitated him, as he believed, from entering on matrimony.[89]

Making an abrupt change of front, the prosecutor now inquired of the
prisoner what he meant by the passage in his book where he says that,
‘The Truth begins to declare itself and will be accomplished for all
ere long.’ ‘Do you mean that your doctrine is the Truth, and will
shortly be universally received?’ ‘I mean to speak of the progress of
the Reformation,’ said Servetus; ‘the truth began to be declared in the
time of Luther, and has gone on spreading since then until now.’ Had he
stopped here, all would have been well and the answer must have been
scored to his credit; but he went on to particularise and to say that
‘the Reformation would have to advance upon some matters which in his
opinion were not yet well set forth.’

This was immediately seized upon as a challenge by the men who believed
that the Reformation had already been accomplished or completed through
them; so that he was forthwith required to explain what he meant by
such language. Here, however, he dared not be outspoken; and though
he made no denial of his doctrine, which was seen of all to be in his
estimation the complement and crown of the Reformation, he diverged
into a variety of topics, floundered, and wound up by proposing to
enlighten the Court by a reference to the Bible and the Fathers, or to
explain himself more fully than he had done in his book if they would
grant him a conference, in their presence, with one or more men of
learning. Pressed further, he said that he could not divine whether his
doctrine would ever be generally accepted or not; but he believed and
should continue to believe that it was founded in truth until shown
to be otherwise. ‘Such things,’ said he in conclusion, ‘are commonly
enough denounced and condemned as erroneous at first, but are by and by
acknowledged for truth and universally accepted.’

The prisoner had much the same difficulty in justifying his singular
opinion that persons under the age of twenty were not accountable
agents, or incapable of sin, and so not obnoxious to punishment for
their misdeeds. He, in fact, made but an indifferent escape from such
a paradox by declaring that, in speaking as he did, he had capital
punishment only in view; not that he thought there should be penalties
of no kind for evil-doers under age. They, he said, might be properly
punished by flogging, seclusion, and the like. From what he says on
another occasion we see that this fancy of Servetus was founded on a
literal and arbitrary interpretation of the text where Jehovah, to
punish the Israelites, determines that no one over twenty years of
age is to enter the Land of Promise; all others are to leave their
carcasses in the wilderness.

Having said a few words in his book implying no disapproval of the
infidel Alkoran, the prisoner, in reply to the reproaches made him for
having spoken without reprobation of such a personage as Mahomet and
his book, now averred that he had only adduced Mahomet and the Koran
to the greater glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and even ventured to
add: ‘That though the book generally is bad, it nevertheless contains
good things, which it is lawful to use’--language that was looked on as
little short of blasphemy by his auditors, but that to us proclaims the
superiority of the speaker over the bigots around him.

The last question in this day’s proceedings referred to a sojourn he
was said to have made in Italy immediately before coming to Geneva, and
how he had passed his time since he arrived there. And here again we
find Calvin the prompter; for it is he who speaks of Servetus having
wandered for four months in Italy before reaching Geneva. Any such
journey or sojourn, however, as that now hinted at, Servetus positively
denied; ‘and for such information as the Court might require of his
doings since he had entered their city, he referred them to his host of
the Rose, where he had had his quarters before being thrown into their
prison.’ It is not difficult to see the drift of the latter clause of
the question; but Servetus was on his guard now, and did not commit
himself or his prompters, the Libertines, as he had done when the
printer of his book was in question.

       *       *       *       *       *

_August 31._--After the lapse of three days an answer was received
to the letter addressed by the Syndics and Council of Geneva to the
authorities of Vienne. In this missive the Genevese were informed that
it was impossible to comply with the request they had made to have
the documents connected with the trial of Michel Villeneuve sent to
them, inasmuch as the authorities of Vienne could not sanction any
review or possible inculpation of their proceedings. They therefore
only forwarded duplicates of the warrant of arrest and sentence of
death passed upon the said Villeneuve, and for themselves they demanded
‘the delivery of that individual into their hands, in order that the
sentence passed upon him might be carried into effect,’ engaging, as
they went on to say, ‘that it should be of a sort that would make any
search for further charges against him unnecessary.’[90]

To this communication from Vienne, the Council ordered a gracious
answer to be returned; but they declined to send back the prisoner,
‘inasmuch as he was at present under trial before themselves for
matters in which they, too, promised that strict justice should
be done.’ To be sent back to Vienne, Servetus knew would be to be
consigned to certain death at the shortest possible notice; so that
to the somewhat needless question now put to him by the Court, their
own expressed determination considered: ‘whether he preferred remaining
in the hands of the Council of Geneva, or to be sent back to Vienne?
he fell on his knees and entreated to be judged by the Council in
presence, who might do with him what they pleased; but he begged them
in no case to send him back to Vienne.’ There he knew that the stake
was driven, and the faggots piled, whilst in Geneva, we must imagine
from his bearing, he did not at present fear that anything of the kind
could possibly come into requisition.

The business of Vienne thus brought into prominence, the Council
proceeded to inquire of the prisoner concerning the trial there;
touching once more on his escape from the prison, his coming to Geneva,
and any communication he might have had since his arrival in the city
with persons resident therein. On the subject of the trial and escape
he could be open and communicative; but he denied explicitly that since
he reached Geneva he had spoken with anyone save those who waited on
him and brought him his meals in the hostel where he lodged--a denial
against the truth of which more than suspicion may fairly be allowed.
But let us observe that Servetus’s swervings from the absolute truth
are mostly to screen others rather than to save himself. On the vital
question of his religious opinions be never blenched before his judges
of Geneva.

It was now that the prisoner mentioned incidentally the singular fact
that the windows of the room he occupied in the Rose Inn had been
nailed up. But why this was done he did not say; neither, strangely
enough, was any notice taken of it by the Court. There can be little
doubt, however, as we interpret the matter, that it was to prevent
him from taking himself off without the knowledge of his prompters of
the Libertine party. Realising the full hostility of Calvin, knowing
that his life was aimed at, he was anxious to be gone; but Perrin and
Berthelier had resolved to keep him and play him off against their
tyrant and the Clericals, reckless of the risk he was thereby made to
run, so as they might use him for their own selfish ends. Hence the
otherwise inexplicable delay of the month in Geneva before his presence
became known to Calvin--the fatal delay that cost him his life!

How it happened that Servetus was ever made an object of interest
to the Libertine party, detained as he certainly was by them in his
passage through Geneva, is a question not altogether irrelevant.
That he was unknown even by name to the chiefs of this party, and to
everyone else resident in Geneva, save Calvin, seems certain; and
Calvin who had not seen his Parisian acquaintance for nearly twenty
years, had no intimation of his presence there for nearly a month. But
William Geroult, the printer of Vienne, was in Geneva when Servetus
reached the city. Having heard of his escape from prison, he may have
been on the look-out for the possible coming of the fugitive. Geroult,
though of the Reformed Faith, we have seen reason to believe was not
among the number of Calvin’s admirers. But native of Geneva and of the
Libertine party, we venture to think it was through him that Servetus
was made known to Perrin and Berthelier; such particulars being further
communicated as suggested to them the use that might be made of the
fugitive against their clerical enemy. We have seen the proceedings
of August 23rd concluded by a number of questions having reference to
those with whom the prisoner might have held communication since he
reached the city, and particularly if he had not seen and spoken with
William Geroult, and if Geroult did not know that he intended to come
to Geneva?

That they might leave no incident in the previous history of the
prisoner unnoticed, the Court now questioned him on his opinions
touching the Mass, which it was known he had declared to be a mockery
and a wickedness, his habit nevertheless having been to attend its
celebration during his residence at Vienne. To this, put to him
reproachfully, he replied that he had but imitated Paul, who frequented
the synagogue like the Jews in general, though he had inaugurated a
new religion of his own; but for himself, he added that he had sinned
through fear of death, and regretted what he had been obliged to do.

Confronted with the gaoler of Vienne, who had brought the missives of
his masters to Geneva, and asked if he knew the man, he replied that
of course he did, having been under his charge in prison for two days;
but he exonerated the gaoler from all complicity with his escape.
Furnished with a certificate to this effect, the gaoler was dismissed,
and returned to Vienne.

_September 1._--At the sitting on this day a letter was received from
M. Maugiron, Lieutenant-General of the King of France for Dauphiny,
which gave fresh occasion for recurrence to the affairs of Vienne. In
his letter Maugiron informed the Syndics and Council of Geneva that
the goods and chattels and debts due to Michel Villeneuve, estimated
to amount to 400 crowns, had been escheated by his Majesty the King,
and given to his--Maugiron’s--son; but that to come into possession it
was necessary to have a list of the parties indebted to the doctor. He
therefore requested the Council to interrogate their prisoner on this
head, and furnish him with a list of the names and surnames of debtors
to the prisoner’s estate, as well as of the sums severally due by each.
The noble correspondent, Lieutenant of the King of France for Dauphiny,
must have been oblivious of the professional services of the physician
Villeneuve when he consented to write as he did to the Syndics and
Council of Geneva; for we have seen that Servetus was actually taken
from the house of this Monsieur Maugiron when in attendance on him, to
find himself a prisoner. Anxious to clear himself of all suspicion of
having aided and abetted in the evasion from the prison of Vienne,
Maugiron goes on in his letter to express himself ‘rejoiced to know
that Villeneuve is now in the hands of Messieurs de Geneve, and I thank
God,’ he continues, ‘for the assurance I feel that you will take better
care of him than did the Ministers of Justice of Vienne, and award him
such punishment as will leave him no opportunity for dogmatising, or
writing and publishing heretical doctrines in time to come.’

    ‘Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
    Thou art not so unkind
    As man’s ingratitude!’

Let us not doubt that the heart of Michael Servetus swelled with
indignation and contempt at this exhibition of heartlessness and
meanness on the part of the man he had tended in his sickness. The
experience of the physician, however, leads him to form no very high
estimate of the world’s thankfulness for services in sickness: the fee
at the moment is mostly held to close the account. Sick men are weak;
and when they recover are usually well-disposed to forget not only
their weakness, but the physician who has seen it.

The appeal made to the self-esteem of the Council of Geneva, and a
possible desire on their part to enter into rivalry with the judicial
tribunal of Vienne, may have contributed in some measure to the final
condemnation of Servetus. We do not read that they took the becoming
course at once of declining to question the prisoner on matters having
not even the most remote connection with the cause; they seem actually
to have tried to elicit information from him, that would have been
of use to M. Maugiron, in making the gift of his Majesty the King of
France of much avail; but Servetus positively declined to give any
information of the kind desired, as having no bearing on the matters
for which he was now on his trial, and being likely to distress many
poor persons who were indebted to him.



CHAPTER VIII.

SERVETUS IS VISITED IN PRISON BY CALVIN AND THE MINISTERS.


We have seen symptoms of something like a leaning of the Court towards
the prisoner. They had requested Calvin and others of the Clergy to
visit and confer with him, and do their best to bring him to what
all regarded as a better understanding; and it would appear that
immediately after the last sitting, Calvin, accompanied by several
Ministers, proceeded to the gaol and had an interview with the
prisoner. Calvin of course was the spokesman, and opened upon him with
an address in which he strove to show him not only the load of error
under which he laboured in his exposition of Scripture generally, but
the grave offence he had committed in attacking the particular dogma
of the Trinity, as interpreted by the Churches, and in calling all who
believed in it Tritheists and even Atheists.

From what we already know we may divine how little a visit from John
Calvin with such an exordium was likely to lead to any satisfactory
conclusion; Servetus appears at first, indeed, to have declined even to
hear his visitors: he was too much oppressed by sorrow, sickness, and
long confinement, he said, to enter on any defence of his views, and a
prison was no fit place for theological discussion.

Stern, bigoted, and uncompromising as he was by nature, Calvin would
have been false to his calling as a Minister had he not striven, though
thus encountered, to bring even a personal enemy to what he believed
to be proper thoughts of the Trinity, the nature of the Logos and the
Sonship of Christ; and we do not question his will and inclination to
do so; but in Servetus Calvin saw the man who had insulted and so had
mortally offended him, whilst in Calvin, Servetus beheld the individual
who so lately, by underhand means and the violation of his confidential
correspondence, had wrecked his fortunes and sought his life; the man,
moreover, at whose instance he was now in prison and subjected to what
he rightfully regarded as unworthy usage and an unauthorised and unjust
trial.

We can but excuse the irritation that mastered Servetus now, and
lament that with Berthelier’s disastrous countenance misleading him,
he neglected the chance that was undoubtedly offered him to save his
life, had it been but by a show of moderation and conciliatory bearing.
Calvin, however, must have persevered for a while with the unfortunate
physician, and brought him to reply to more than one of the principles
of his system produced against him. Among others, we find him reported
as maintaining that wherever the word _Son_ is met with in the
Scriptures, it is the _man_ Jesus that is to be understood; and when
_Christ_ is spoken of as the Word and the Eternal Son, the language is
to be taken in a _potential_ not in an actual sense; neither Light,
Logos, nor Son having existed otherwise than in the mind of God before
creation; the actual or real Son in particular having only begun to
be when engendered in the womb of the Virgin Mary--and so on, the
discourse turning upon matters transcending man’s power to know, and
falling wholly within the domain of faith or belief. On the last topic
brought under review, Servetus from the beginning of his career was
always empathic. ‘Si unum iota mihi ostendas quo Verbum illud Filius
vocetur, aut de Verbi generatione fiat mentio, fatebor me devictum.
Ubi Scriptura dicit Verbum, dicit et ipse Verbum; ubi Filius, Filius;
scilicet: olim Verbum, nunc vero Filius.’ These are his words in his
earliest work, and from their tenor he never swerved.[91]

The interview ended as we may imagine it could only end--with increased
irritation on the part of the Ministers at the obstinate self-will
of the heretic, as they interpreted it, and without a ray of new
light having made its way into the mind either of the prisoner or his
visitors. His would-be enlighteners, however--he thinking that they
stood much in need of enlightenment from him--were particular, before
taking their leave, in insisting on the right of the temporal power in
the state to repress and punish theological error. Heretics, as they
said, being liable by the Justinian Code, still in force over Europe,
to be proceeded against and punished as criminals; and he having, in a
highly objectionable manner, attacked many among the most sacred of the
divine ordinances, would have no reason to complain did he find himself
dealt with in the severest fashion as a blasphemer of the Church of
God, and disturber of the peace of Christendom.

But neither, as we may imagine, were the words of the deputation in
this direction found of any avail in leading the prisoner to their
views. Civil tribunals, he maintained, were utterly incompetent in
matters of faith, and had no right of the sword in cases of imputed
heresy. The Code of Justinian was in truth no authority, having
been compiled in times when the Church had already lapsed from its
original purity. The violent repressive measures it sanctioned were
wholly unknown to the Apostles and their immediate successors. Besides
all this, he held the Church of Geneva to be specially precluded
from giving an opinion or pronouncing a judgment upon his views;
his opponent and personal enemy, Calvin, wielding such paramount
authority there, as to make him in fact and in himself the Church.
How little all this, however true (and all the less, perhaps, because
true), was calculated to win either Calvin or his followers to more
friendly feelings, may be imagined; but it shows us the brave,
consistent, conscientious, religious man, face to face with fate, and
a proffered opportunity to conciliate and save his life, abiding by
his convictions, and, with the warning but just given him, rather than
belie himself, verily courting death. What would have happened had
Galileo been as conscientious and firm as Servetus?



CHAPTER IX.

THE COURT DETERMINES TO CONSULT THE COUNCILS AND CHURCHES OF THE FOUR
PROTESTANT CANTONS.


It was at this time and on the suggestion of Servetus--as Calvin
affirms, of the Council, according to its own minutes--that a
resolution was come to, by which the Church of Geneva was no longer
to have the sole say in the final decision of the guilt or innocence
of the prisoner. The Councils and the other reformed Churches of
Switzerland, it was resolved, were to be consulted on the merits of the
case. There was a precedent for such a course; it had been followed
only two years before, under somewhat similar circumstances, when
Jerome Bolsec was tried for heresy at the instance of Calvin. Calvin
and the Ministers were consequently directed by the Court to extract
from the works of the prisoner, and to deliver in writing, but without
note or comment, the particular passages involving the erroneous or
heretical opinions in debate between the prosecution and him.

This appeal to the Swiss Churches we cannot help thinking of as fatal
to Servetus. If his own concluding reply to the deputation which
visited him in prison did not lead to it, it was probably suggested to
him by Berthelier, who knew that it had saved Bolsec. But Berthelier
was not theologian enough correctly to appreciate the dissimilarity of
the propositions involved in the two cases; and he certainly took no
note of the difference in the political circumstances of the several
times, or he would not have given the advice we presume he did.

From the letters which Calvin now wrote to several of his friends,
particularly to Sulzer, of Basle, we learn that he was much averse to
the idea of this appeal to the Churches. Having been foiled by them in
his prosecution of Bolsec, he must have feared that what had happened
before might happen again. He knew that he was less considered abroad
than at home, and seems not to have apprehended that the appeal now
resolved on, was not only to ensure his own triumph, but to make
the Reformed Churches of Switzerland participators in his sin of
intolerance and abettors of the error (to give it no worse name) he
committed when he brought Servetus to his death.



CHAPTER X.

THE TRIAL IS INTERRUPTED THROUGH DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CALVIN AND THE
COUNCIL.


The Churches were to be appealed to, then, and Calvin applied himself
immediately to make the best he could of the case as it stood. With
the diligence that distinguished him, we need not doubt of his having
been soon ready with the Articles upon which the trial of Servetus may
be said to have entered on its third, if it were not its fourth and
definite, phase.[92] But a notable interval elapsed before we find the
Council giving any heed to the new Articles of Indictment, or taking
steps to have them despatched to the Cantons. The Council had business
of another kind to engage them, with Calvin and his friends as their
opponents on grounds of policy, instead of their instigators and guides
in a trial for heresy. It was at this precise time that the struggle
to which we have alluded in our review of the political situation took
place between Calvin and the Council on the right exercised by the
Consistory to excommunicate or deprive of Church privileges those who
were known to have infringed one or another of its arbitrary religious,
moral, or sumptuary regulations. Philibert Berthelier, having offended
in this direction, had fallen under the ban of the Consistory some time
before; but, having now appealed to the Council for redress against
what he held to be an unjust award, his party were powerful enough not
only to obtain a decision in his favour, but to have the Consistory
deprived of the right to excommunicate at all.

This was felt, of course, as a heavy blow by Calvin and his supporters.
Berthelier, formally absolved of the Consistorial interdict, was
declared at liberty to present himself at an approaching celebration of
the Solemn Supper. And he would probably have shown himself there, and
an unseemly scene would have ensued; for Calvin was as resolute to have
his authority respected within the walls of St. Peter’s Church, as the
Council could have been to have theirs upheld within the precincts of
the City. Berthelier himself, however, being advised that though he was
fully entitled to present himself at the Table, it would perhaps be as
well did he abstain from doing so for the present, took the hint and
stayed away. But several members of the Libertine party--each of whom
we must presume, in Calvin’s estimation, might have subscribed himself
as

    Parcus Deorum cultor et infrequens,

uninformed of this, and expecting countenance from the presence of
their leader, offered themselves among the other communicants. Being
all well known to Calvin, however, they were resolutely warned off
by him. Covering the typical Bread and Cup with his outspread hands,
he declared that they should sooner hack them off than bring him to
minister to those he looked on as notorious scoffers at religion and
its most solemn rites. Here the minister was in his place and within
the pale of his office; so that they who came to browbeat and humble
him had to retreat from his presence with shame to themselves and
damage to their party, whilst he stood erect in the fearless discharge
of his duty, and rose higher than ever in the estimation of all lovers
of law and order, even of the stringent kind that prevailed in the
theo-autocratic city of Geneva.

The letter which Calvin wrote, at this stormy time, to his friend
Viret, of Lausanne, is too interesting and characteristic not to have a
place here:

    ... I had thought to have been silent about our affairs of
    Geneva, fearing that I should only add needlessly to your other
    anxieties; but lest rumours reaching you from other quarters
    should distress you more than knowledge of the truth, I think
    it best to tell you exactly what has happened.

    When Ph. Berthelier was forbidden to present himself at the
    Lord’s Table some year and half ago, he then appealed to the
    Council against the decree of the Consistory. We were called
    into court to hold the scoundrel (_nebulo_) in check; and
    when the case had been heard, the Senate declared that he had
    been properly excommunicated. From that time until now he has
    been quiet; whether in despair of mending matters or through
    indifference, I know not. But now, and before the Syndicate
    of Perrin expires, he would have himself reinstated by the
    Council in spite of the Consistory. I was again summoned, and
    in copious words I showed that this could with no propriety be
    done; that it would not be lawful, indeed, to counteract in
    any such way the discipline of the Church. When my back was
    turned, however, the Consistory not having been further heard
    or represented, permission was given him by the Council to
    present himself at the Table. This being told to me, I took
    care immediately to have the Syndic summon a special meeting
    of the Council, at which I entered with such fulness into the
    question, as to leave nothing which in my opinion could be said
    further to make them change their mind--now vehement, now more
    persuasive, I strove to bring them to a right way of thinking.
    I even declared that I would sooner die, opposing their decree,
    than profane the Sacred Table of the Lord.... The Senate
    nevertheless replied that they saw no reason to depart from the
    judgment already given.

    From this you will perceive that I should have nothing for
    it but to quit my ministry, did I suffer the authority of
    the Consistory to be trodden under foot, and consented to
    administer the Supper of Christ to the openly contumacious
    who declare that we Pastors of the Church are nothing to
    them. But, as I say, I would sooner die a hundred deaths than
    subject Christ to so foul a mockery. What I said yesterday
    at two meetings, I need not recapitulate. But the wicked and
    lost among us will now have all they desire. In so far as I
    am concerned, it is the Church’s calamity that distresses me.
    If God, however, give such licence to Satan that I am to be
    thwarted in my ministry by violent decrees, I am as good as
    dead in my office. But he who inflicts the wound will find the
    salve; and truly, when I see how the wicked have gone on all
    these years with such impunity, the Lord perhaps prepares
    some judgment for me, in respect of my unworthiness. Whatever
    befals, it is nevertheless for us to submit to his will.
    Farewell, and may God be with you always, guide you and protect
    you! Pray incessantly that He consider this our miserable
    Church!

    Geneva, The day before the nones (4th) of September, 1553.



CHAPTER XI.

THE TRIAL IS RESUMED ON THE NEW ARTICLES SUPPLIED BY CALVIN.


It fell out, unfortunately for Servetus, that the decree of the Council
against the Consistory was the immediate prelude to the resumption of
his trial. The decision come to had been warmly contested by Calvin,
as we see by the preceding letter, he looking on any interference of
the civil magistrate in questions which he regarded from a purely
ecclesiastical point of view, as a blow not only to his spiritual
authority in Geneva, but to the cause of religion. He saw the late
awards of the Council in favour of Berthelier and against the
Consistory in the light of triumphs of his enemies over himself, and
mainly due to the influence of his particular opponent, Amied Perrin,
under whose presidency the adverse decisions had been obtained.

On the resumption of the Servetus trial, then, the hot blood engendered
by the recent struggle had not yet had time to cool; and Calvin, on
taking his place in the reconstituted Criminal Court, found himself
once more not only face to face with his theological opponent, but
set beside his chief political enemies, Perrin and Berthelier. Elate
with the advantage just gained, they had kept their seats on the
Bench, intending doubtless to do what in them lay to secure a further
victory through Michael Servetus over the uncompromising Reformer. It
is not difficult to imagine the influence, in the present state of
affairs, which the attitude of these men had on the fate of our unhappy
Servetus; for Calvin, with his many supporters acting as his spies, was
well informed of the countenance they had given the prisoner privately,
and seems to have construed their presence at this particular moment
as a public demonstration in his favour. To convict Servetus was
therefore to thwart them, and the discomfiture of the solitary stranger
had become more than ever a personal and political necessity to the
Reformer.

The articles from the works of Servetus from the ‘Christianismi
Restitutio’ exclusively, on this occasion, thirty-eight in number, had
been laid before the Court so long back as September 1, and are headed:
‘Opinions or Propositions taken from the Books of Michael Servetus
which the Members of the Church of Geneva declare to be in part impious
and blasphemous, in part full of profound errors and absurdities, all
of them alike opposed to the Word of God and the orthodox assent of the
Church.’

       *       *       *       *       *

_September 15._--The Court constituted in the usual manner, with
Servetus before them sworn to speak the truth, Calvin, who seems now to
have taken the place of the Attorney-General, proceeded to interrogate
the prisoner on the new Articles of Impeachment. One of the first of
these, referring to the relationship of the Son to the Father in the
mystery of the Trinity, appears to have given rise to another long,
and we may imagine excited debate between Calvin and the prisoner;
from which, however, the judges were able to gather so little light
that they interposed, and came to a resolution to have any further
discussion that might arise carried on in writing and in the Latin
tongue, instead of by word of mouth and in French as heretofore.

The substitution of Latin for French had in fact become a necessity
when the determination to consult the other Reformed Churches of the
Confederation was adopted. Native to Geneva with its French-speaking
population, French was little understood at Berne, Basle, Zürich,
and Schaffhausen with their German inhabitants; but the liberally
educated among them were generally familiar with Latin. Calvin, we must
therefore presume, had presented his new Articles in French, so that
they had to be translated and turned back into Latin; but the trial
appears to have suffered no particular delay on this account. Presented
anew in the Latin tongue and approved by the Court, they were ordered
by it to be submitted to the prisoner, with the intimation that he
was required to answer them, and to feel himself at liberty to alter
or retract anything he might now think he had written unadvisedly; to
explain anything he had said that was misunderstood; and to defend
such of his opinions as were challenged, by the citation of Scripture
in their support. Nor was he to be hurried in sending in his replies;
he was to take his own time, and to enter as fully as he pleased into
every question.

As it is part of our business here to learn on what grounds men of
the highest culture burned one another to death three hundred and
twenty-four years ago--and it is thought by some that there still
remains such an amount of ignorance, bigotry, and intolerance in the
world as might lead to a rekindling of the fires, were the power to do
so but added to the will--we feel bound to make a somewhat particular
study of the Articles on which the unfortunate Servetus was finally
incriminated and doomed to die. We therefore proceed to lay before
the reader, in slightly condensed form, these Articles, which will
be seen, on the most cursory perusal, to involve none but topics of
transcendental dogmatic theology--a subject which to reasonable men has
now lost almost all the significance it once possessed, but which has
still a large historical interest as showing, in contrast with present
views, the progress that has been made from darkness into light; and
as illustrating the great, yet persistently neglected, truth, that
the religious feelings are no safe guides of conduct when dissevered
from the other emotional elements of human nature in balanced action
among themselves, enlightened by science and associated with reason.
Religion has in fact at no time been the civiliser of mankind, as so
commonly said, but has itself been the civilised through advances made
in science or the knowledge of nature, and in general refinement.
Brutal and blood-stained among savages and the barbarous but policied
peoples of antiquity, Assyrians, Chaldæans, Egyptians, Hebrews; cruel
and intolerant among Newer Nations well advanced in art and letters,
but ignorant of the world they lived in and the universe around them,
religion has only become humane as Science has been suffered to shed
her ennobling light, and will first prove truly beneficent when Piety
is seen to consist in study of the laws of nature, which are the laws
of God, and Worship is acknowledged to be comprised in reverential
observance of their behests. What adequate idea of God could be
formed--if, indeed, it be possible for man to form any adequate idea of
God!--so long as this earth--this mote in the ocean of Infinity--was
thought of as the centre of the universe, the one object of God’s
care, and a single family among the myriads that people it as the sole
recipients of his revealed word and will!

But turn we to our Articles, which we proceed to pass under review
in connection with the answers made to them by Servetus. In these we
shall now find him more intemperate than he has yet shown himself;
more aggressive, too; not only indisposed to yield in jot or tittle,
but negligent of opportunities to defend his conclusions, and eager to
attack his pursuer; ready to call him opprobrious names, and to charge
him with wilful misrepresentation and malignity. The recent triumph
of Perrin and Berthelier had obviously infected Servetus, and not only
lost him his chance of continuing to improve his position with his
judges, but even made him careless of making any serious effort to
prove himself in the right.

At the very outset of his replies, and by way of preface, assuming
the Articles to be Calvin’s and Calvin’s alone, Servetus says: ‘It is
impossible not to admire the impudence of the man, who is nothing less
than a disciple of Simon Magus, arrogating to himself the authority
of a Doctor of the Sorbonne, condemning everything according to his
fancy, scarcely quoting Scripture for aught he advances, and either
plainly not understanding me or artfully wresting my words from their
true significance. I am therefore compelled, before replying to his
_Articles_, to say, in brief, that the whole purpose of my book is to
show, _first_, that when the word Son is met with in Scripture it is
always to the man Jesus that the term is applied, he having also the
title Christ given him; and, _second_, that the Son or second Person
in the Trinity is spoken of as a _person_ because there was visibly
relucent in the Deity a Representation or Image of the man Jesus
Christ, hypostatically subsisting in the Divine mind from eternity. It
is because this _rationale of the Person_ is unknown to Calvin, and
because the whole thing depends thereon, that I refer as preliminary to
certain passages from the ancient Doctors of the Church on which I rest
my conclusions.’

Passages sixteen in number, from Tertullian, Irenæus, Clemens Romanus,
and others, are then cited to justify the sense he attaches to the
words Person and Son; from which we see that Servetus, following his
authorities, adopts the Neo-platonic view of the Son as a pre-existing
_idea_ in the Divine mind, not as an _entity_ distinct from the essence
of God, having a proper life and subsistence of its own, and only
proceeding in time to become incarnate in the man Jesus.

We were interested, of course, in referring to these passages from
the Fathers (they are given at length in Calvin’s Refutation); and,
though disappointed in finding them less cogent and conclusive than
we had expected, we yet discover the germs of almost all that is
more fully developed by Servetus in connection with the subjects of
which they speak. ‘Tertullian,’ says he, ‘declares, that to conform
with things human, God, in former times, assumed human senses and
affections, and made himself visible to man in the divinity of Christ;
and that the words Person and Son of God are used in Scripture because
God, invisible, intangible in himself, was made visible in Christ.
He who spoke with Adam in the garden, with Noah, with Abraham, and
came down to see what the Babylonians were about, and so on, was no
other than Christ or a prefiguration of Christ. He who spoke with
Moses, too, at different times was Christ--the Relucent visible Image
or Figuration of the invisible Deity. In the essence of God there
is no real distinction between the Father and the Son; they do not
constitute two invisible entities such as the _Tritheiti_ imagine;
it is no more than a _formal_ distinction that is made between the
invisible Father and the visible Son. It is the idea of prolation or
procession of one thing out of another that has given occasion to
certain _dispositions_, _dispensations_, or _modes_ in the Deity being
turned into so many entities, and so into a Trinity of Persons. Quoting
St. Paul, Tertullian says that “in the face of Christ is seen the very
light of God;” and to this I myself refer repeatedly in my Third Book
on the Trinity; but Calvin, persisting in his blindness, will not see
God thus.’

From Irenæus we find little that is not repetition of what is said by
Tertullian. ‘The Jews,’ he says, ‘did not know that he who spoke with
Adam and Abraham and Moses in human form, was the Word, the Son of God.
But Jesus, as the Image, as the Word, was then the Divine manifestation
of God, being at once, but without real distinction, both Word and
Spirit; for in the spiritual substance of the Father was comprised
the figuration and representation of the Word. Abraham was taught and
knew that the Angel who visited him was the representative of the Word
which was, or was to be, the future man, the Son of God--dost hear,
Calvin?--the Word was the figuration of the man Jesus! The Word is
always spoken of as something visible; so that when John says, “In
the beginning was the Word,” we are to understand the prefiguration
of Christ in the Deity: invisible in himself, God the Father is
visible in the Son. The Logos and the Spirit imply nothing of personal
distinction in God so that, when it is said, “God made all things by
his Word,” it is himself as Creator, and not another, that is to be
understood: the Word and the Holy Ghost are not to be thought of as
distinct entities, but as dispositions in God.’

_The Thirty-eight final Articles of Impeachment, and Servetus’s
Replies._

ARTICLE.

I.-IV. Servetus, says Calvin, maintains that all who believe in a
Trinity in the essence of God are Tritheists, or have three Gods
instead of one God; or they are Atheists, and properly have no God at
all, their God being tripartite or aggregative, not absolute. That
the three Persons of the Trinity are Phantoms; and that there should
be distinct entities in the one God is a thing impossible; so that a
Trinity of Persons in an Unity of Being is a dream. Further: That the
Jews, resting on numerous authorities, wonder at the Tripartite Deity
we acknowledge; and, yet more, That it was the admission of _real_
distinctions in the Incorporeal Deity which led Mahomet to deny Christ.

REPLY.

I.-IV. From the authors quoted, it is evident that in the Essence and
Oneness of God there is no _real_ distinction into three invisible
entities. That there is a figurative or personal distinction between
the Invisible Father and the Visible Son, however, I admit; so that
in this way I religiously believe in a Trinity, though denying it
as usually understood. The truth of what I say about the Jews and
Mahometans, I maintain to be amply borne out by history and what we see
among the Turks of the present time.

ARTICLE.

V. To colour his infamous opinions, he speaks of a personal distinction
in the Godhead; but this is external only, not internal, or inherent
in the Essence of God; the Word, according to him, having been Ideal
Reason from the beginning—mere Reflection, Figure, or Semblance; Person
only in the sense of appearance; and that this prefigured the future
Man, Jesus Christ.

REPLY.

V. I have always acknowledged the subsistence of the Son in God, both
externally and internally. And you contradict yourself; for if the
Reason was Ideal, then was it Internal. It plainly appears you know not
what you say.

ARTICLE.

VI. Confounding the Persons, the Wisdom of Scripture is said to
have been formerly both Word and Spirit, no real distinction being
acknowledged between them; the mystery of the Word and Spirit being
defined to have been the effulgent glory of Christ.

REPLY.

VI. Irenæus thus interprets the matter; Wisdom, he says, was the Holy
Spirit. So does Tertullian. Solomon understands the wisdom that was
given him as the Holy Spirit. And in my Eighth Letter, I show that the
whole mystery of the Word and the Spirit was to the glory of Christ,
because in him was the plenitude both of the Word and the Spirit. O
wretched man, thus to go on condemning what you do not understand!

ARTICLE.

VII. Denying any real distinction in the Persons of the Godhead Christ
is said 408 to have been invested with such glory as to be not only God
of God, but very God from whom another God might proceed.

REPLY.

VII. Did I say another God? I meant another mode of Deity. But if it
offend you that I say another God, say another Person [i.e. as Servetus
understands the word, another manifestation] of Deity. Why quote that
against me which I have myself corrected? But you show your candour on
all occasions!

ARTICLE.

VIII. Christ is said to be the Son of God not only and in as much as he
was engendered by God in the womb of the Virgin Mary; and this, not by
the virtue of the Holy Ghost, but by God of his proper substance.

REPLY.

VIII. Is not he rightly called the son of him by whom he is begotten?
Therefore do I say that God from eternity and of his substance produced
[protulit] this Son; and therefore is he said to be of God naturally.

ARTICLE.

IX. The Word of God coming down from heaven, is said to have been the
flesh of Christ; so that the flesh of Christ is from heaven, his body
being the body of God, his soul the soul of God; both his soul and body
having existed from Eternity in the proper substance of Deity.

REPLY.

IX. The Word, I say, is now the flesh of Christ by hypostatical union.
I say well, therefore, that the flesh of Christ is from heaven, and
indeed is the heavenly Manna. What else I say, I admit in the sense in
which I conceive it. You fasten on such things as these, and neglect
the main truth!

ARTICLE.

X. The essence of the soul and body of Christ is declared to be the
Deity of the Word and the Spirit, and Christ to have existed from the
beginning in respect of his body as well as his soul, 409 the substance
of the Deity being not only in the soul but in the body of Christ.

REPLY.

X. Essence is spoken of as that by which anything is sustained. Art
thou not ashamed to calumniate me, or dost thou think that with thy
savage barking thou wilt dull the ears of the Judges?

ARTICLE.

XI. As if to show that to him the divinity of Christ is mere mockery,
he says that it means the wisdom, the power, and the splendour of God;
as if it were only a certain wisdom and power that in him was excelling.

REPLY.

XI. You do unjustly ever; you quote me falsely. I do not say what you
charge me with saying. and the splendour of God; as if it were only a
certain wisdom and power that in him was excelling.

ARTICLE.

XII. The man Jesus is said to have been from the beginning in his
proper person and substance, in or with God; and yet two persons are
elsewhere ascribed to Christ.

REPLY.

XII. What you say first is most true, and I wish you understood it.
Christ in himself is one person; but in him verily is the Holy Spirit,
who is also a person.

ARTICLE.

XIII. Having said that the Word of God was made man, he says that this
Word was the Seed of Christ; also that it was different from the Son;
and that the Word by which the world was created, was produced by the
grace of God; whence it would follow that Christ was not the Word in
question. It is said, further, that the Word of God was the Dew, the
natural engenderer of Christ in the womb of the Virgin, similar to the
generative element of animals; and, yet further, that the Son 410 of
God was naturally begotten of the Holy Ghost by the Word.

REPLY.

XIII. I speak here as do Tertullian, Irenæus, Philo, and others. In
the passage you quote, the Word is taken for the voice from heaven
saying, ‘This is the Son of God.’ Who does not see that the Word of God
is something other than the man his Son? You have not read me aright,
neither do you understand me. What else you say, I admit.

ARTICLE.

XIV. The Word of God is said to be itself the seed generative of
Christ; and as the generative element is in creatures, so is it in the
Deity, in whom was the seed of the Word before the son was conceived of
Mary; the paternal element in God acting in the engenderment of Christ
in the same way as that of our fathers in us.

REPLY.

XIV. All this I admit. God acted as generator in the way I explain in
my first Dialogue. [The Celestial influence overshadowing the Virgin
acted in her as the dew or the rain of heaven acts on the ground, and
brings forth herb and flower.]

ARTICLE.

XV. The Divine Word, it is said, mingling with created elements,
was the agent in the generation of Christ. The divine and the human
elements coalescing, there came forth the one hypostasis of the Spirit
of Christ, which is the hypostasis of the Holy Ghost; though it had
been asserted previously that the three elements in Christ were of the
substance of the Father.

REPLY.

XV. I grant everything here if you understand what you say as having
reference to the paternal elements, so called because of their
existence as ideal reason in God.

ARTICLE.

XVI. To corrupt what the Apostle says—viz. that Christ did not take on
himself the nature of the angels, but that of the seed of Abraham—it is
said, by way of explanation, 411 that he delivered us from death.

REPLY.

XVI. I corrupt nothing, but accept both interpretations; you, however,
quote everything falsely and teach falsely also.

ARTICLE.

XVII. God, he says, is father of the Holy Ghost. But this is nothing
less than to confound the persons—even such persons as he feigns.

REPLY.

XVII. The confounding is in your own mind, so that you cannot
comprehend the truth.

ARTICLE.

XVIII. Playing with the word Person, he says there was one sole
personal image or face, which was the person of Christ in God, and was
also communicated to the angels.

REPLY.

XVIII. I play fast and loose with nothing. I make use of the language
of those I quote, which you treacherously pervert.

ARTICLE.

XIX. As from either parent there are in us three elements, so are there
three in Christ; but in him the material element is derived from the
mother only. Whence it would follow that Christ had not a body like to
ours, and this were to do away with our Redemption.

REPLY.

XIX. The body of Christ, I say, is like to ours, sin excepted; excepted
also this: that his body is participant of Deity.

ARTICLE.

XX. The celestial Dew, overshadowing the Virgin and mingling with her
blood, transformed her human matter into God.

REPLY.

XX. The Transformation referred to here is Glorification.

ARTICLE.

XXI. Confounding the two natures, he says that the created and
uncreated light were in Christ one light; and that of the Divine Spirit
and the human Soul there was constituted 412 one substantial Soul in
Christ; so that the substance of the flesh and the substance of the
Word were one substance.

REPLY.

XXI. He, I say, who is of and in God, is with Him one Spirit. Is there
confusion when two unite in one? Are soul and body confounded when
they constitute an individual man? Wretch that thou art, thou dost not
understand the principles of things! [See the letter to which this
remark gave occasion.]

ARTICLE.

XXII. Partaking of the nature of God and man, Jesus Christ, it is said,
cannot be spoken of as a creature, but as a partaker of the nature of
creatures.

REPLY.

XXII. And what then?

ARTICLE.

XXIII. One and the same Divineness which is in the Father, it is
said, was communicated immediately, bodily, to his Son, Jesus Christ;
from whom, mediately, by the ministry of the Angelic Spirit, it was
communicated to the Apostles. That in Christ only is Deity implanted
bodily and spiritually; all of the Divine that others have, being given
through him by a holy substantial halitus, or breath.

REPLY.

XXIII. This, I say, is the Truth.

ARTICLE.

XXIV. As the Word went into the flesh of Christ, so, it is said, did
the Holy Ghost enter into the souls of the Apostles.

REPLY.

XXIV. In some sort, in a certain way, as I show in the place you refer
to.

ARTICLE.

XXV. Confounding the Persons, he asserts that the λὀγος was naturally,
voluntarily, 413 ideal reason and procession,—the resplendence of
Christ with God, the Spirit of Christ with God, and the light of
Christ with God; whence it would follow that the λὀγος was nothing
substantial, inasmuch as it was the figure only of a thing that was not
yet in being, and yet did not differ from the Spirit.

REPLY.

XXV. You confound yourself in what you say, and do not understand what
you speak about—as if that which subsisted hypostatically in God was no
real substance!

ARTICLE.

XXVI. Before the advent of Christ, he says, there was no visible
hypostasis of the Spirit. Whence it would follow that there was neither
hypostasis nor real person, seeing that there can be no person that is
not visible, as he declares in his book and asserts in his answers;
speaking also, as he does in another place, of the Spirit of God, as
The Shadow in the Creation of the world.

REPLY.

XXVI. Person in the Word is called a visible hypostasis, and in the
Spirit is spoken of as a perceptible hypostasis.

ARTICLE.

XXVII. As all things are said by Servetus to be in God, so and in the
same order were they in God before creation, Christ being first and
foremost of all—such being the kind of Eternity he allows to the Son of
God. Further, that God, by his Eternal Wisdom, decreeing 414 to himself
from Eternity a visible Son, gives effect to his decree by means of the
Word.

REPLY.

XXVII. All this is good, and you would see it so were you not
perversely minded.

ARTICLE.

XXVIII. Christ, he says, so long as he abode in the flesh, had not
yet received the new Spirit which was to be his portion after the
resurrection, and was verily afterwards imparted to him; so that he now
possesses hypostatically the glory both of the Word and the Spirit,
prefigured by the dove descending on him in Jordan.

REPLY.

XXVIII. There is nothing here that is not true, would you but be
willing to understand it.

ARTICLE.

XXIX. In God, he maintains, there are no parts and partitions as
in creatures, but Dispensations, and this in such wise that in the
partition or imparting of the Spirit every portion is God. Beside this,
he says that our spirits substantially are from Eternity, and so are
consubstantial and coeternal; although he elsewhere declares that the
spirit wherewith we are enlightened may be extinguished.

REPLY.

XXIX. All you say here at first is true; but I do not say that the
Spirit of God in itself is extinguished, because, when we die, the
spirit departs from us.

ARTICLE.

XXX. The Divine Spirit, it is said, was infused into us in the
beginning by the breath of God.

REPLY.

XXX. This is most true; and you, miserable man, deluded by Simon Magus,
ignorest it. Making a slave of 415 our will, you turn us into stocks
and stones.

ARTICLE.

XXXI. When we find it stated in the Law that the Spirit of God is in
any one, this is not to be taken as meaning the Spirit of regeneration.

REPLY.

XXXI. The words quoted, I say, are for the most part so to be
understood.

ARTICLE.

XXXII. Angels, he says, were worshipped by the Jews of old; so that he
calls Angels their Gods; but, this being so, the true God could never
have been worshipped by them—by Abraham in particular—but Angels, only,
prefiguring Christ.

REPLY.

XXXII. Almost everything, I say, presented itself to the Jews in the
way of Figure.

ARTICLE.

XXXIII. Admitting that Christ or the Word had no hypostatic [actual]
existence from the beginning, he nevertheless declares that Angels and
the Elect were verily in God from the first.

REPLY.

XXXIII. What you mix up and make me say here, is false. Nothing
created—no creature—existed before the moment of its creation.

ARTICLE.

XXXIV. He maintains that the Deity is present substantially in all
creatures.

REPLY.

XXXIV. God, I say, is present in all creatures by his essence and
power, and himself sustains all things.

ARTICLE.

XXXV. Having mixed up many vain, perverse, and pernicious dreams about
the substance of Souls, he concludes at length that the Soul is from
God and of his substance; 416 that a created inspiration was infused
into it along with its divineness; and that in respect of substance it
was united through the Holy Spirit by a new inspiration into one light
with God.

REPLY.

XXXV. Take away the words, of his substance, you will find the rest to
be true; and that it is you yourself who dream with Simon Magus.

ARTICLE.

XXXVI. Though the soul is not primarily God, yet does it become Divine
or is made God by the Spirit, which, indeed, is very God, so that it
is improper to doubt that our Souls and the Holy Spirit conjoined with
Christ are of the same elementary substance as the Word conjoined with
the flesh. Further, that created and uncreated things combine and unite
in one substance of Soul and Spirit.

REPLY.

XXXVI. This is so; many things thus unite in one—bones, flesh, nerves,
soul, spirit, and form, for instance, to make the one substance of Man.

ARTICLE.

XXXVII. He has written and published horrible blasphemies against the
Baptism of Infants, and has said that mortal sin is not committed
before the age of twenty years.

REPLY.

XXXVII. I own to having written so; but when you have convinced me that
I am in error in this, I will not only acknowledge my fault, but kiss
the ground under your feet.

ARTICLE.

XXXVIII. The Soul, he says, was made mortal by sin, even as the flesh
is mortal—not meaning to say that the Soul is annihilated, but that
deprived by pain of the vital 417 actions of the body, it languishes,
and is shut up in hell as if it were to live no more. Thence he
concludes that the Regenerate have souls other than they had before,
new substance, new divineness being added to them [by the Water of
Baptism].

REPLY.

XXXVIII. The passage you quote against me, shows that you act
perfidiously. I there say that it is as if the Soul died, and,
languishing, is detained in Hell. But if it languishes, it still lives.
See what I have elsewhere said of the ‘Survival of the Soul,’ pp. 76,
229, and 718 [of the Chr. Rest]. The souls of the regenerate, I say,
are other than they were before; even as a thing is said to be new or
altered by the accession of new properties.[93]

But enough of this--more than enough, indeed, is before the reader to
enable him to judge of the kind of matter that never yet influenced
man in his conduct towards either God or his fellow, on which Michael
Servetus was adjudged to die.

The answers of Servetus to the incriminated passages of his book
are obviously by no means either so full or so satisfactory as he
might easily have made them; neither are they always so worded as
unequivocally to express his proper views; but of more moment than all,
they are given without the references to Scripture which the Court had
suggested, and would certainly have had greater weight with it than
aught else that could be urged. Though he uses the words person and
hypostasis, we know that he did not understand them in the same way as
theologians generally. He did not acknowledge any proper personality
in the nature of God, who to him was invisible, all-pervading Essence,
inscrutable too, save as manifesting and making himself known in
Creation. Servetus’s persons and hypostases are modes or manifestations
of God in nature, and, not limited to three, are, in truth, infinite in
number, and proclaimed in an infinity of ways. To accommodate himself
in some sort to such conceptions as were current on the subject of the
Trinity, he uses language at times which it seems might fairly bring
him within the pale of orthodoxy, were we not aware of the arbitrary
meaning he attaches to the terms employed: God, Father, all-pervading
Being; Christ, Son, visible manifestation of God to man; Holy Ghost,
Angel--ἐνέργεια, actuating force in nature. Such, as we
understand him, was the kind of Trinity formulated by Servetus.

The answers of the prisoner to the new articles of incrimination were
now ordered by the Court, which has nothing to say to them itself,
to be put into the hands of the Reformer for his strictures. This
gave Calvin the opportunity which he did not fail to turn to the best
advantage. Treating Servetus’s Replies in a very different spirit from
that in which the Spaniard had treated his Articles, he proceeded
elaborately to criticise and refute them; in other words, and more
properly, to demonstrate the incongruity and incompatibility of
Servetus’s admitted beliefs and opinions touching the transcendental
propositions involved, with the orthodox conclusions of himself and the
Churches generally. To a theologian like Calvin such a task presented
no difficulties; but the thoroughness of his exposition or refutation,
and the length to which it runs, assure us of the pains he bestowed
on the work. Calvin is said to have spent no more than two or three
days in the composition of this elaborate paper; had the time been two
months and more, it would have been little, and few men, we apprehend,
could have got through the work in less time.

Signed by as many as thirteen ministers beside himself--for Calvin
would not forego the backing of his colleagues in such a cause--the
Refutation of the prisoner’s replies to his prosecutor’s Articles
of Inculpation was laid before the Court at their next meeting; and
in a spirit of entire judicial fairness, was by them ordered to be
forthwith submitted to the prisoner, for his observations in assent to,
or dissent from, the interpretations put upon his words. He was even
particularly told, as he had been before, that he was at liberty to
answer in the way and at the length he pleased.

The understanding of the Court when giving Calvin his instructions,
was that his Extracts were not to be accompanied by either note or
comment--they were to be ‘word for word’ from the writings of the
prisoner. But we see that he gave little heed to this injunction; for
many of the Articles are either prefaced or concluded by a comment;
Art. XVI. for example, begins in this way: ‘That he may corrupt the
saying of the apostle,’ &c.; XVII.: ‘To say that God is Father of the
Holy Ghost, is to confound the persons,’ &c.; XVIII.: ‘To show that
he plays with the word person,’ &c.; XXXV.: ‘After jumbling together
many insane and pernicious notions on the substance of the soul,’ &c.;
XXXVIII.: ‘That he has written and published horrible blasphemies
against the baptism of infants,’ &c. Calvin, in short, could not resist
the opportunity of helping the Judges to a conclusion in consonance
with his own views, and therefore adverse to those of his opponent.

When we turn to Calvin’s Refutation of the Errors of Michael Servetus,
we observe him setting out by saying that he will not imitate the
prisoner in the use of uncivil language, but confine himself strictly
to the matters in question. He would not be John Calvin, however,
did he keep his word; and truly his language is at times little less
offensive than that of Servetus; whilst his comments, uniformly
adverse, are ever studiously calculated to damage the prisoner in
the eyes of his Judges. ‘Whosoever,’ says Calvin in concluding his
work, ‘will duly weigh all that is here adduced, will not fail to see
that the whole purpose of Servetus has been to extinguish the light
we have in the true doctrine, and so put an end to all religion.’
But we, for our part, say, after some pains bestowed, that whoever
peruses the writings of Servetus without a foregone conclusion that
_any one among the various formulated systems of religious doctrine
he sees around him is the_ ABSOLUTE TRUTH, _and alone essential to
constitute Religiousness_, will not fail to discover that not only had
Servetus no thought of putting out the light of religion in the world,
but that he was animated by a most earnest desire, through another
interpretation of the Records which he, too, looked on as Revelations
from God, to set Christianity on another, and, as he believed, a
better foundation than it had yet obtained from the labours of Luther,
Calvin, and the rest of the Reformers. Servetus was, in truth, but one
among the host of Reformers of every shade and colour who made their
appearance on the field at the trumpet-call of Luther, and who had
but this in common: hostility to the ignorance and immorality of monk
and priest, to the pride and lust and abuse of power so conspicuous
in Pope and Roman Hierarch. And shall we in these days think of him
as impious and irreligious who held that it was less than reasonable
to speak of the coeternity of a Father and a Son, taking the words
in any common-sense acceptation; and that a single entity could not
be conceived as subdivided into three distinct entities or persons,
without loss of its essential unity, nor three distinct entities or
persons be thought of as amalgamated into one without loss of their
several individualities? Who said, moreover, that he believed God to be
the all-pervading essence and order of the universe; man to be fitted
for his state, each individually answerable for his own sin, not for
the sin of another, and that faith in the highest exemplar of humanity
as he conceived it, that had ever appeared on earth, added to a good
life and its associate charities, was that which was required for
salvation? Shall we, we ask, think of such a man as less pious, less
religious, less likely to be acceptable to God than one who believed
that there was a certain Word which was with God from the beginning,
and was indeed God, and yet another than God; or that God, beside his
proper all-sufficing substance, was supplemented by several hypostases
or offsets, which were at once himself, yet other than himself; that
from eternity God had elected and fore-ordained a relatively limited
proportion of mankind to salvation and eternal life, and doomed an
infinitely larger proportion to perdition and everlasting death?
Shall we, we say further, think that the man who was tolerant of the
speculative opinions of others, and whose business in life it was to
visit the sick and reach the healing potion, was less of a good, and a
true, and a useful member of society, than he who aspired through the
unseen, the unknown and the unknowable, to rule the world with a rod of
iron, who was utterly intolerant of other speculative opinions than his
own, and in enforcing his arbitrary rules for the regulation of life
and conversation, was merciless in the use of the scourge, the branding
iron, the sword, and the slow fire? Surely we shall not. Were greatness
associated in the world with true nobility of nature, light-bringers,
like Michael Servetus, would assuredly be set on a higher level than
conquerors of kingdoms.



CHAPTER XII.

THE TRIAL IS CONTINUED, AND SERVETUS ADDRESSES LETTERS TO CALVIN AND
HIS JUDGES.


On returning to his dungeon after his examination on September 15,
Servetus addressed his prosecutor in the following characteristic
epistle, which the reply to Art. XXI. appears to have suggested:

    To John Calvin, health!--It is for your good that I tell you
    you are ignorant of the principles of things. Would you now
    be better informed, I say the great principle is this: _All
    action takes place by contact_. Neither Christ nor God himself
    acts upon anything which he does not touch. God would not in
    truth be God were there anything that escaped his contact. All
    the qualities of which you dream are imaginations only, slaves
    of the fields as it were. But there is no virtue of God, no
    grace of God, nor anything of the sort in God which is not God
    himself; neither does God put quality into aught in which he
    himself is not. All is from him, by him, and in him. When the
    Holy Spirit acts in us, therefore it is God that is in us--that
    is in contact with us, that actuates us.

    In the course of our discussion I detect you in another error.
    To maintain the force of the old law, you quote Christ’s
    words where he asks: ‘What says the law?’ and answers himself
    by saying: ‘Keep the commandments.’ But here you have to
    think of the law not yet accomplished, not yet abrogated;
    to think further, that Christ, when he willed to interpose
    in human things, willed to abide by the law; and that he to
    whom he spoke was living under the law. Christ, therefore,
    properly referred at this time to the law as to a master. But
    afterwards, all things being accomplished, the newer ages were
    emancipated from the older. For the same reason it was that
    he ordered another to show himself to the priest and make an
    offering. Shall we, therefore, do the like? He also ordered
    a lamb and unleavened bread to be prepared for the Passover:
    Shall we, too, make ready in this fashion? Why do you go on
    Judaising in these days with your unleavened bread? Ponder
    these things well, I beseech you, and carefully read over again
    my twenty-third letter. Farewell.[94]

How little likely this epistle, however reasonable in itself, was
calculated to win the favour of Calvin, need not be said. To pretend to
set John Calvin right in anything could, indeed, only be taken by him
as an impertinence.

In the present disposition towards the prisoner--the purely
metaphysical and undemonstrable nature of the matters in debate, taken
into account--we may reasonably conclude that the Judges had hoped he
would be able to explain away the offensive and heretical sense in
which his views were regarded by the head of their Church--and indeed,
and in so far as they could be understood, as they must have been seen
by themselves.

But Servetus, unhappily for himself, did not improve the opportunity
presented him of righting himself in any way with the Court by the
manner in which he set about dealing with Calvin’s strictures on his
replies to the incriminated passages of his book. He does not now,
as he had done before, however curtly and imperfectly, reply to the
Reformer’s refutations, and show wherein he is misinterpreted or
misunderstood; neither does he present his views in another and more
questionable light than they are set by his accuser, which he could
readily have done in numerous instances at least; and, where this was
impossible, he might have appealed to the reason and common sense
of his Judges for latitude in interpreting matters that really lie
beyond the scope of the human understanding. He, however, did nothing
of all this, but proceeded as though he thought it neither necessary
nor worth his while to defend himself or his opinions any further--he
did not even take paper of his own for his reply, but contented
himself with jottings on the margins and between the lines of Calvin’s
elaborate refutation! the remarks he makes, moreover, being rarely in
the way of answer or explanation. They are mostly curt expressions of
dissent, or simply abusive epithets applied to the Reformer, who is
called Simon Magus, liar, calumniator, persecutor, homicide, and more
besides. Instead of persisting in his legitimate plea that he was but
another in the ranks of the Reformers, interpreting the Scriptures by
the understanding he had by nature and his education, or declaring,
as he had done before, that he would be found ready to abjure those
of his opinions that were shown him to be opposed to their teaching,
and adverse to the peace of the world, he threw down the gauntlet on
the whole question, not to Calvin only, but to the religious world at
large. But this, the point of view from which the religious question
was regarded in the middle of the sixteenth century, considered, was
simply to ensure his condemnation. Men less bigoted, and, above all,
less under the influence of the most intolerant of bigots, might
possibly have been led to take pity on the writer, and to see him for
what he was in truth--a sincerely pious zealot of irreproachable life,
if much mistaken, as they believed, in his theological conclusions; and
so, and save in the use of intemperate language, excusable on every
ground of Christian charity. But this, perhaps, was more than could
possibly be expected in the fifteen-hundred-and-fifty-third year of the
Christian æra.

In returning the document so unhappily annotated, Servetus appears
to have felt that an apology was due to the Court for the style of
response he had adopted. He therefore accompanied it with the following
letter, in which he seeks to excuse himself for the course he has taken:

    My Lords,--I have been induced to write on Calvin’s paper as
    there are so many short, interrupted expressions which, apart
    from the context, would have neither sense nor signification.
    But doing as I have done, setting the _pros_ and _cons_ in
    juxtaposition, Messieurs the Judges will be able more readily
    to decide on the questions in debate. Calvin must not be
    offended with me for this, for I have not touched a word of his
    writing; and it was not possible, without infinite confusion,
    to do otherwise than as I have done. Be pleased, my Lords, to
    let those who may be appointed to judge or report, have the two
    books now sent, as they will be thereby spared the trouble of
    searching out the passages referred to, these being all duly
    indicated. If Calvin makes any remarks on what is now said, may
    it please you to communicate them to me.

                                      Your poor prisoner,

                                                 MICHAEL SERVETUS.

This epistle, like the petitions presented to them, received no notice
from the Council, which at this time was seriously engaged with
business more interesting to them in their civil and administrative
spheres; so that for some fourteen days no heed was given to the
unfortunate Servetus rotting in the felon’s gaol of Geneva, or to
the preparation and despatch of the documents to be submitted to the
Councils and Churches of the four Protestant Cantons.



CHAPTER XIII.

CALVIN ANTICIPATES THE JUDGES IN THEIR APPEAL TO THE SWISS CHURCHES.


Calvin, unlike Servetus, was never remiss. Sedulous to leave as little
as might be to accident, and nothing, if he could guard against it,
to independent conclusion, he did not fail to take advantage of the
pause in the proceedings that now occurred, by being beforehand with
the judges, and writing to the leading ministers of the Swiss Churches,
every one of whom was of course personally known, and, with few
exceptions, even servilely devoted, to him. Addressing Henry Bullinger,
on September 7, he says:--

    The Council will send you, ere long, the opinions of Servetus
    in order to have your advice. It is in spite of us that you
    have this trouble forced on you; but the folks here have come
    to such a pass of folly and fury that they are suspicious of
    all we say. Did I declare that there was daylight at noon, I
    believe they would question it. Brother Walter [Bullinger’s
    son-in-law] will tell you more [of the state of affairs here].

Calvin, it would therefore appear, did not like the appeal to the
Churches. We have said that he had formerly been baffled in his pursuit
of Jerome Bolsec, by the moderation they recommended when consulted
on the case. He would have had his own and the Church of Geneva’s
decision suffice; the motion for appeal to the wider sphere, moreover,
seems really to have come from Servetus, and this of itself would have
sufficed to make it distasteful to Calvin. The Council’s giving in to
it must have been regarded by him, if not as an insult, yet as a mark
of distrust: hence his angry allusion to the fury and folly of the
Genevese. He made the best of the matter, however, as we have said, by
having the start of the Council; and not only writing to the chiefs of
the four Churches, but in the case of Zürich at least, by sending a
messenger--Brother Walter--specially commissioned to give Bullinger,
its head pastor, information of a kind he would not trust to writing.

Bullinger, in reply to the written and verbal communication, informs
Calvin that--

    ‘Walter’s news has indeed saddened and disquieted him greatly.’
    In some sort of trouble himself, as it seems, Bullinger can
    heartily sympathise with his brother of Geneva; yet is he
    ‘without fear for the future, though there be in the town
    around him more dogs and swine than he could desire! Still many
    things are to be put up with for the sake of the Elect, and we
    have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven through great tribulation.
    But do not, I beseech you, forsake a Church which has so many
    excellent men within its pale. Bear all for the sake of the
    Elect. Think what cause of rejoicing your retreat would give to
    the enemies of the Reformation, and with what danger it would
    be fraught to the French refugees. Remain! The Lord will not
    forsake you. He has, indeed, now presented the noble Council
    of Geneva with a most favourable opportunity of clearing itself
    from the foul stain of heresy, by delivering into its hands
    the Spaniard Servetus. You will have heard, of course, that
    he has put forth another book, wherein he surpasses himself
    in impiety; but if the blasphemous scoundrel be dealt with as
    he deserves, the whole world will own that the Genevese have
    the impious in horror, that they are forward to pursue the
    obstinate heretic with the sword of justice, and well disposed
    to assert the glory of the Divine Majesty! Nevertheless, and
    in any case should they not do so, you ought not to abandon
    your post and expose the Church to new misfortunes. Fight on
    bravely, then, trusting in God.’[95]

From what he says, we see that Bullinger had not been informed of all
that had taken place in Geneva, and that the printing of ‘the other
book,’ which he could not yet have seen, had been the occasion of its
author’s arrest and trial. But the letter to Calvin, prompted by the
news he had received through Brother Walter, satisfies us that Calvin
at this time felt little at his ease in Geneva, and in nowise sure of
the support he was to have from his friend Bullinger. He had no doubts
as to the theological criminality of Servetus; neither had he any
qualms as to the kind of punishment he designed for him; but he was
wroth with the Council for the impartiality it showed towards one who
had dared, as he believed, to beard him in his own domain, and ventured
to subscribe himself as having the support of the great heavenly head
of all the Churches. As Calvin interpreted the latest proceedings of
the Council, they appeared simply hostile to himself. Failing now
in his prosecution of the Spaniard, his social influence would be
compromised, and with the check he had just received in the affair of
Berthelier, and the power of the Consistory to excommunicate, whereby
his religious foothold was seriously shaken, he must have threatened,
if he did not really contemplate, the extreme step of abandoning the
Genevese to their own evil devices. Bullinger probably took Calvin’s
threat of quitting his charge in Geneva, as conveyed to him by Brother
Walter, too literally. From the suspicion of any such purpose, we find
him anxious immediately to clear himself by the letter he forthwith
addressed to the Zürich pastor:

    ‘From your letter, most excellent Brother (he says), I learn
    that you have not been so accurately informed of the griefs
    whereof I complain as I could have wished. The wicked people
    about me, knowing that I am irritable, my stomach troubling me
    often and in various ways, have lately been striving to get
    the better of my patience. But sharp as the struggle has been,
    they have not succeeded in turning me in the slightest measure
    from my course. I have been armed against all the arrows they
    have aimed at me. The Lord may have put me of late so sorely to
    the proof among this people, that I might learn by experience
    what heavy trials have to be borne by his ministers. He who has
    upheld me hitherto will not, I trust, fail to possess me with
    less fortitude in time to come. Wherefore, trusting in his aid,
    I have never been really minded to quit the station in which he
    has placed me. Never once, when your Walter was here lately,
    did I think of giving way and yielding to the contumelies
    and indignities that were heaped upon me. The report to the
    contrary was raised by the factious, that they might injure me.’

    Calvin then goes on to inform his friend of the affair of
    Berthelier, and the permission he had received from the Council
    to present himself at the Lord’s Supper, and continues:
    ‘Knowing the brazen face of the man who, with every occasion
    given him, has still stood in my way; and believing that he
    would be disposed to vanquish me if he could, I declared to
    the Council that I would not administer to him, and said that
    I would sooner die than prostitute the bread of the Lord by
    giving it to dogs or such as made a mockery of the Gospel, and
    trod the ordinances of the Church under foot. You have not
    understood aright what I said. Do not imagine that anything
    is changed. Something more may possibly be attempted at the
    next meeting of the Council. May the Lord lead the perverse to
    desist from their efforts! For my part, it is certain that I
    will never suffer the discipline sanctioned by the senate, and
    the decree of the people, to be set aside. If I am prevented
    from discharging the duties of my office, I may have to yield
    to force, but I will never renounce the liberty I possess;
    for, that abandoned, my ministry would be in vain. I am not
    made of such stubborn stuff, however, as not to feel sorely
    distressed when I think of the future scattering of this flock;
    but whilst I have the power, I shall do all I can to hold them
    in the right way. Do you with your prayers come to our aid, and
    entreat that Christ may keep to himself his flock of this place.

    Things go on no better in France. Wherever there is the
    pretext, they do not spare bloodshed. Three are condemned to
    death at Dijon, if they be not already burned; and the danger
    is that the commotions we hear of in Scotland will add fuel to
    the fires. Seven or eight youthful persons have been thrown
    into prison at Nemours, and in several other French towns many
    more have met with a like fate. Farewell!

The letter which Calvin wrote about the same time to Sulzer, pastor
of Basle, also deserves a place here, as showing the pains he took
to influence the minds of his friends in his own favour and against
Servetus.

    The name of Servetus, who, twenty years ago, infected the
    Christian world with his vile and pestilent doctrines, is
    not, I presume, unknown to you. Even if you have not read his
    book, it is scarcely possible that you should not have heard
    something of the kind of opinions he holds. He it is of whom
    Bucer, of blessed memory, that faithful minister of Christ,
    a man otherwise of the most gentle nature, declared that ‘he
    deserved to be disembowelled and torn in pieces.’ As in days
    gone by, so of late he has not ceased from spreading abroad his
    poison; for he has just had a larger volume secretly printed at
    Vienne, crammed full of the same errors. The printing of the
    book having been divulged, however, he was thrown into prison
    there. Escaping from prison--by what means I know not--he
    wandered about in Italy for some four months; but driven hither
    at length by his evil destiny--_tandem hic malis auspiciis
    appulsum_--one of the syndics, at my instigation, had him
    arrested.

    Nor do I deny that I have been led by my office to do all in
    my power to restrain this more than obstinate and indomitable
    individual, so that the contagion should continue no longer.
    We see with what licence impiety stalks abroad, scattering
    ever new errors; and we have also to note the indifference of
    those whom God has armed with the sword to vindicate the glory
    of his name. If the Papists approve themselves so zealous and
    so much in earnest for their superstitions, that they cruelly
    persecute and shed the blood of innocent persons, is it not
    disgraceful in Christian magistrates to show so little heart
    in defending the assured Truth? But where there is the power
    of prevention, there are surely limits to the moderation that
    suffers blasphemy to be vented with impunity.

    As regards this man, then, there are three things to be
    considered: First, the monstrous errors with which he corrupts
    all religion, the detestable heresies with which he strives to
    overthrow all piety, and the abominable fancies with which he
    surrounds Christianity, and seeks to upset from the foundation
    every principle of our Faith. Secondly, the obstinacy with
    which he has comported himself, the diabolical persistency
    with which he has despised all the counsels given him, and
    the desperate insistance wherewith he has been forward to
    spread his poison. Thirdly, the daring with which he, even
    now, produces his abominations. So far is he from showing
    any sign or giving any hope of amendment, that he does not
    scruple to fasten his plague-spot on those holy men, Capito
    and Œcolampadius--as if they were his associates! Shown the
    letters of Œcolampadius, he said he wondered by what spirit
    he, Œcolampadius, had been induced to depart from his first
    opinion!...

    There is but one thing more on which I would have you advised,
    viz.: That the Questor of our city, who will deliver you this,
    is of a right mind in the business, which is, that the prisoner
    shall not escape the fate we desire--_ut saltem exitum quem
    optamus non fugiat_.

    I say nothing now of French affairs; there being no news here
    of which I imagine you are not as well informed as we, unless
    it be that on last Sabbath-day three of our pious brothers
    were burned to death at Lyons, and a fourth met a like fate in
    a neighbouring town. It is scarcely credible how these men,
    illiterate, but enlightened by the spirit of God, and ennobled
    by the perfections of the Doctrine, behaved on the occasion;
    with what unswerving constancy they met their fate. But it
    is not there only; in other parts of France burnings of the
    same sort go on incessantly; nor seems there any prospect of
    mitigation. Farewell!

    Geneva; v. of the Ides (19) of Septr. 1553.

Calvin, we see from this epistle, believed that he would be fully
justified in having Michael Servetus burned alive at Geneva because
they differed in their interpretation of the Trinity; but that the
Papists of Lyons were inexcusable for sending to a fiery death those
who with himself did not acknowledge the Pope as God’s vicegerent on
earth, and Romish doctrine as the true and only saving faith. It is
the _evil destiny_ of Servetus, too, that has led him into the toils
of the Reformer; and to be of a _right mind_ in the business of the
prosecution, then proceeding is, so to play into the hands of the
prosecutor that his victim shall not escape the death designed him!

It was of Zürich, however, more than of any of the Churches consulted,
that Calvin felt most in doubt. The tolerant views of Zwingli were in
some sort hereditary there; and Bullinger, who was its chief pastor,
had disappointed him in the case of Bolsec. But he must also have had
strong misgivings of Basle, when he was induced to write the long
and particular letter to Sulzer, its leading minister, which we have
just perused. The more refined and delicate tone that is said to
have pervaded society in the city of Basle indisposed its people to
violence or extremes; and ‘Thorough’ was always the word on Calvin’s
banner.

If he had doubts of Zürich and Basle, Calvin could place implicit
reliance on Neuchatel, where Farel, his oldest, most devoted, and most
obsequious friend presided as head of the Church. Addressing Farel soon
after the arrest of Servetus, he writes:

    It is even as you say, my dear Farel,--we are indeed variously
    and sorely tried and tossed about by storms! We have now a
    _new_ business with Servetus--_jam novum habemus cum Serveto
    negotium_. His intention may, perchance, have been to pass
    through this city; but it is not precisely known why he came
    hither. When he was recognised, however, I thought it right
    to have him arrested, my man Nicholas presenting himself as
    accuser on the capital charge, and binding himself by the law
    of retaliation, to proceed against him. Articles of accusation
    under as many as forty heads were presented in writing on the
    day following the arrest. He prevaricated at first, which led
    to our being called in. Recognising me, he behaved as though
    he held me obnoxious to him. I, as became me, gave no heed to
    him. The senate, in fine, approved of all the charges, and he
    was sent back to prison. On the third day after, my brother
    becoming bail for Nicholas, he was set at liberty.

    I say nothing of the effrontery of the man; but such was his
    madness that [in the course of the interrogatory] he did not
    hesitate to say the Devil was in the Deity--_Diabolus inesse
    Divinitatem_--and more, that in so many men there were so
    many gods, Deity being substantially communicated to them,
    as, indeed, he said it was to stocks and stones! _I hope the
    sentence will be capital at the least--Spero capitale saltem
    fore judicium_; but I would have the cruel manner of carrying
    it out remitted. Farewell!

Calvin’s charge was therefore, as we see, to no halting or half-way
conclusion. He proceeded from the first for a capital conviction--he
hoped it would be nothing short of this; and being so, he knew the kind
of death the man must die. It is a poor show of humanity, therefore,
that he makes at the end of his letter. But there is a phrase at
the beginning of the epistle which deserves very particular notice:
‘_Iam novum habemus cum Serveto negotium_--we have now on hand a _new
business_ with Servetus.’ But there was no _older business_ with
Servetus at Geneva. It was at Vienne that this took place. Writing to
Farel, his oldest and most trusted friend, Calvin reverts in mind to
the fact, and his words reflect or echo back his inward thought. Of
the justice of this surmise we seem to find confirmation in Viret’s
letter of August 22, which we have seen in reply to the one in which
Calvin inquires after a copy of the book on Trinitarian Error; for
there the pastor of Lausanne says: _Nunc vobis est alia cum Serveto
disputatio_--and now you have _another_ contention with Servetus;[96]
an obvious reference to a passage in one of the Reformer’s letters of
the same tenor as that he has just addressed to Farel. Calvin, it is
notorious, always shirked acknowledgment of the part he played in the
affair of Vienne. Even the self-complacency that comes of theological
zeal did not permit him to find an excuse for underhand dealing,
and the violation of a correspondence that was private and entirely
confidential. He was, by no means, insensible to the infamy that
cleaves to an act of the kind, however, and in his own case could say,
‘Zebedæus has been perfidiously showing confidential letters of mine,
which I wrote to him fifteen years ago from Strasburg!’[97]

Farel’s reply to the last epistle of Calvin, dated from Neufchatel on
September 8, is as follows:

    I have returned from Normandy, restored to my usual good state
    of health.... It is a wonderful dispensation of God that has
    brought Servetus to this country. I wish he may come to his
    senses, late though it be. It will indeed be a miracle if
    he prefer death, and, turning to God, consent to edify the
    spectators--he dying one death who has caused the death of so
    many others!

    Your judges will only show themselves hard-hearted contemners
    of Christ, enemies of the true Church and of its pious
    doctrine, if they prove insensible to the horrible blasphemies
    of so wicked a heretic. But I hope God will so order it that
    they may merit commendation by putting out of the way the man
    who has so long and so obstinately persevered in his heresies
    to the perdition of so many! In desiring to have the cruelty
    of the punishment mitigated, you appear as the friend of him
    who has been your greatest enemy. There are some, however, who
    would let heretics be doing--as if there were any difference
    between the office of the pastor and that of the magistrate!
    Because the Pope condemns the faithful for the crime of heresy,
    and hostile judges cause innocent persons to undergo the
    punishment that should be reserved for blasphemers, it is
    absurd to conclude that heretics are not to be put to death,
    in order that the faithful may be preserved. But do you act,
    I pray, in such a manner as to show that in time to come no
    one will be suffered to promulgate new doctrines and to throw
    everything into confusion, as this Servetus has done. For my
    own part, I have often said that I should be ready to suffer
    death did I teach aught that was opposed to the true doctrine,
    and should deem myself deserving of the most terrible tortures
    did I turn even one from the faith that is in Christ. I would
    not, therefore, apply to another a different rule.

Farel is neither an elegant nor an agreeable, still less a logical,
writer; but he is zealous in behalf of the true doctrine--the doctrine,
to wit, he holds himself. God, the father of mankind, who sends the
rain and the sunshine indifferently on all, has, in the opinion of
this poor bigot, by a special dispensation of his providence, led a
sincerely pious man, according to his lights, to Geneva, there to be
first harshly and ignominiously treated by another sincerely pious man,
according to his lights; and finally through the influence he exerts
over its clergy and magistracy, to be put to a lingering death by slow
fire! Farel never thought of himself, with his ‘True Doctrine,’ as a
heretic in the highest degree in the eyes of his neighbours the Roman
Catholics of France with _their_ ‘True Doctrine.’

It is more than questionable, indeed, whether Farel had ever read a
word of Servetus’s writings. He was a man of action, fearless, full of
fiery zeal, and a ready talker, but with no great amount of scholarly
acquirement, and still less of philosophy. In anything of his we have
seen, and save in what is said of his harangues, he never meets us
otherwise than as a man of narrow mind, utterly intolerant and entirely
under the influence of Calvin. If Servetus had sinned by persevering
in heresy, and corrupting souls, so had he, so had Calvin, so had
Melanchthon and the rest, in the estimation of their neighbours the
Papists of neighbouring lands; and, though he speaks glibly of myriads
who had lost their chance of salvation through Servetus, there was
never a tittle of evidence adduced on the trial to show that even a
single individual had been influenced by his writings. On the contrary,
all who are brought forward in connection whether with the man or his
works--Œcolampadius, Bucer, Melanchthon--are proof and more than proof
against both him and them. Calvin and Farel, as we see, had made up
their minds that Servetus was to be condemned to death weeks before the
conclusion of his trial.



CHAPTER XIV.

SERVETUS SENDS A LETTER AND A SECOND REMONSTRANCE AND PETITION TO HIS
JUDGES.


Smarting under a sense of the unjustifiable treatment to which he was
so relentlessly subjected, and weary of the delays that had taken place
through the disputes between the Consistory represented by Calvin, and
the Council, Servetus now gave vent to the pent-up storm within him in
the following characteristic remonstrance. Alluding to the backing his
persecutor received from the clergy, and the number of names attached
to the Refutation of his Replies, he exclaims:

    Thus far we have had clamour enough and a great crowd of
    subscribers! But what places in Scripture do they adduce
    as their authority for the Invisible Individual Son they
    acknowledge? They refer to none; nor, indeed, will they ever be
    able to point to any. Is this becoming in these great ministers
    of the Divine Word, who everywhere boast that they teach
    nothing that is not confirmed by distinct passages of Holy
    Writ? But no such places are now forthcoming; and my doctrine,
    consequently, is impugned by mere clamour, without a shadow of
    reason, and without the citation of a single authority against
    it.

                                                 MICHAEL SERVETUS,

    who signs alone, but has Christ for his sure protector!

Engaged with more immediate and interesting business in the political
and administrative sphere of their duties, the Council had, in fact,
left that in which their prisoner Michael Servetus was so particularly
concerned unnoticed for something like fourteen days. This long delay
gave him reasonable cause for complaint, and furnished him with grounds
not only for the outburst given above, but for a further petition and
remonstrance to the following effect:

    _To the Syndics and Council of Geneva._

    My most honoured Lords!--I humbly entreat of you to put an
    end to these great delays, or to exonerate me of the criminal
    charge. You must see that Calvin is at his wit’s end and knows
    not what more to say, but for his pleasure would have me rot
    here in prison. The lice eat me up alive; my breeches are in
    rags, and I have no change--no doublet, and but a single shirt
    in tatters.

    I made another request to you, which was for God’s sake; but to
    prevent your granting it, Calvin alleged Justinian against me.
    It is surely unfortunate for him that he brings against me that
    which he does not himself believe. He neither believes nor does
    he agree with what Justinian says of the Church, of Bishops, of
    the Clergy, nor of many things besides connected with religion.
    He knows well enough that [in Justinian’s day] the Church was
    already corrupted. This is disgraceful in him--all the more
    disgraceful as he keeps me here for the last five weeks in
    close confinement, and has not yet adduced a single passage [of
    Scripture] against me.

    I have also demanded to have counsel assigned me. This would
    have been granted me in my native country; and here I am a
    stranger and ignorant of the laws and customs of the land. Yet
    you have given counsel to my accuser, whilst refusing it to
    me, and have further set him at large before having taken any
    true cognisance of my cause. I now demand that my cause may be
    referred to the Council of Two Hundred. If I am permitted to
    appeal to it, I hereby appeal; declaring, as I do, that I will
    take on me all the expenses, damages, and interests, and abide
    by the award of the Lex Talionis as well in respect of my first
    accuser [De la Fontaine] as of Calvin his master, who has now
    taken the prosecution into his own hands.

    From your prison of Geneva, this 15th of Septr. 1553.

                                     MICHAEL SERVETUS,

                        in his own cause.

The Council appear to have been nowise moved by this very reasonable
petition. The request for counsel, here reiterated, was not noticed--it
had already been disposed of, and could not be granted; but the
petition to have his case referred to the Council of the Two Hundred
was discussed and rejected: the tribunal before which he was on his
trial was competent in every respect by the laws of the State. Orders,
however, were given that the articles of clothing he required should
be procured for him at his proper cost; but as it seems to have been
the business of no one to see the order carried into effect, or because
the Council and custodians of the gaol of Geneva were accustomed to see
their prisoners in rags and devoured by vermin, it was unheeded at the
time, although attended to at a somewhat later period in this eventful
history.

Had there been no resolution to take the opinion of the Councils and
Churches of the confederate Reformed Cantons, everything necessary
to a decision was again before the Court. The term had indeed been
exceeded within which by the law of Geneva the proceedings ought to
have ended--the law positively forbidding the protraction of a criminal
suit beyond the term of a calendar month. The law had, therefore, been
violated; but there was no one to urge the point in behalf of the
prisoner, any more than there had been to expose Calvin’s disobedience
of the Council’s orders to present his Articles of Incrimination
without note or comment. Neither the Clerical nor the Libertine party,
however, had yet done with the unfortunate Servetus, although it was
not before their meeting of September 21 that the Council found itself
at leisure to take up the tangled skein of the Servetus-prosecution
again, and to order the necessary documents to be prepared for
submission to the Councils and Churches they had determined to consult.
Before despatching these when ready, they seem to have thought it would
be well to show Calvin the short demurrers of Servetus to his elaborate
Refutation; expecting, probably, that he would have something to say to
them, but not meaning to let Servetus see anything Calvin might think
proper to add. There was no occasion however, as it fell out, to act
on this rather partial reservation. The Reformer did not think fit to
notice even one of the unhappy annotations of his enemy, in which the
lie direct is given him something like fifty times; and the epithet
_nebulo_--knave--is not the most offensive that is applied to him. He
did not add a word to what he had already written. A mere glance at the
unhappy jottings sufficed, as it seemed, to make him feel sure of his
suit; Servetus, he saw, stood self-condemned in his neglect to adduce
Scripture authority for his peculiar views, or to show that they had
either been misinterpreted or misunderstood by his pursuer. The abusive
epithets so plentifully heaped on Calvin only recoiled upon himself.



CHAPTER XV.

THE SWISS COUNCILS AND CHURCHES ARE ADDRESSED BY THE COUNCIL OF GENEVA.


From the duel as heretofore carried on between Calvin, backed by
the Ministers of Geneva, and Servetus, seconded by Christ alone, as
he said, the process was now to be widened in its scope and debated
between the solitary stranger and the Reformation at large, or so
much of it at least as was represented by the Protestant Churches of
Berne, Basle, Zürich, and Schaffhausen. As many as four copies of the
writings that had passed between the prosecution and the prisoner had,
therefore, to be made, and for this a couple of days were required;
so that it was not until after the third week of September that the
messenger usually charged by the authorities of Geneva with their
despatches was furnished with his credentials to the Councils and
Ministers of the four towns named. The documents forwarded were copies
of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ and of the works of Tertullian
and Irenæus; the thirty-eight articles from the writings of Servetus
extracted by Calvin; Servetus’s replies to these in defence of his
views; and Calvin’s Refutation of his errors, as he characterised
them, having Servetus’s jottings, disclaimers, and abusive epithets
interspersed. Grounding their opinions on these lengthy documents, the
Swiss Churches were requested to declare themselves on the orthodox
or heretical nature of the passages inculpated, and so, in fact, to
pronounce on the guilt or innocence of the prisoner in respect of the
heresy and blasphemy imputed to him; their standard being, of course,
the particular form of Christianity professed by the prosecutor and
themselves.

In referring to the Churches in communion with that of Geneva, the
Council is careful to say that it would not be supposed to entertain
any doubts of the competency of the Church of Geneva to pronounce
a definitive opinion on the questions at issue; it would only have
further light before coming to a decision in a matter of so much
moment. The style of address adopted by the Council of Geneva to the
Councils and Churches of the Cantons consulted will be sufficiently
appreciated from the letters sent to Zürich. And first the one
addressed to the Ministers:

  Geneva, September 21, 1553.

    Honourable Sirs!--Well assured that you are every way disposed
    to persevere in the good and holy purpose of upholding and
    furthering the Word of God, we have thought we should do you
    an injustice did we not inform you of the business in which we
    have been engaged for some time past. It is this. There is a
    man now in prison with us, Michael Servetus by name, who has
    thought fit to write and have printed certain books on the
    Holy Scriptures, containing matters which we think are nowise
    according to God and the holy evangelical doctrine. He has
    been heard [in his defence] by our ministers, who have drawn
    up Articles against him, to which he has replied, and to his
    replies answers have been given--all in writing; and we pray
    you, for the honour of God, to take the papers now forwarded
    to you into consideration, and to return them by the same
    messenger with your opinion and advice. We beg you further
    to look into the book which will be delivered to you by our
    messenger, so that you may be well and fully informed of the
    unhappy propositions of the writer.

    In writing thus and asking your advice we desire to say that we
    do so without any mistrust of our own ministers.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _To the Burgomaster and Council of Zürich._

    Geneva, September 22, 1553.

    High and mighty Lords!--We know not if your Lordships are aware
    that we have in hand a prisoner, Michael Servetus by name,
    who has written and had printed a book containing many things
    against our religion. This we have shown to our ministers; and,
    although we have no mistrust of them, we desire to communicate
    the work to you, in order that, if it so please you, you may
    lay it before your clergy, together with the replies and
    rejoinders that have been made in connection therewith. We
    therefore pray you to be good enough to submit the documents
    now sent to your ministers and request them to give us their
    opinion of their merits, to the end that we may bring the
    business, to which they refer, to a close.

On the result of the course now taken the fate of Servetus evidently
depended. Did the four Swiss Churches find the extracts from his
writings heretical and blasphemous, the Council of Geneva, in their
capacity of criminal judges, would find themselves justified in
passing upon him the extreme sentence of the law; and Calvin’s
determined pursuit not only of his theological opponent and personal
enemy, but of his political antagonist and, in some sort, _rival_, as
he had been made to appear through the espousal of his cause by the
leaders of the Libertine party, would be brought to the conclusion he
desired.



CHAPTER XVI.

SERVETUS AGAIN ADDRESSES THE SYNDICS AND COUNCIL OF GENEVA, AND ACCUSES
CALVIN.


If Calvin, then, as we apprehend, had every reason to anticipate
an answer in his favour from the Churches, so do we find Servetus
possessed by the assured hope that he would be acquitted, or, at
most, be found guilty of nothing involving a heavier penalty than
banishment from the Republic of Geneva. Of heresy he did not think
for a moment he had been more guilty than every one of the Reformers
whom he had been accustomed to hear spoken of in the polite circles of
Vienne not only as schismatics, but as heretics of the deepest dye. If
his ‘Restoration of Christianity’ had been burned by the hangman of
Vienne, had not Calvin’s ‘Institutions of the Christian Religion’ been
summarily condemned by the whole Catholic world, and put on the Index
of prohibited books by the Roman Curia? So sure does Servetus appear to
have felt of final acquittal at this time--guiltless of blasphemy as
in his soul he knew himself to be, and bolstered by the false hopes
of his false friends, that whilst the scales of justice were still
trembling on the beam, he, from his filthy cell, in rags, and devoured
by vermin, even he aspired to become the accuser of the man by whom he
was himself accused, and subjected to all the indignities he endured!
It could only have been under the excitement of some such persuasion
that he now wrote the following extraordinary letter to the Council:--


_To the Syndics and Council of Geneva._

    My most honoured Lords,--I am detained on a criminal charge at
    the instance of John Calvin, who has accused me, falsely saying
    that in my writings I maintain--

    1st. That the soul of man is mortal, and

    2nd. That Jesus Christ had only taken the fourth part of his
    body from the Virgin Mary.

    These are horrible, execrable charges. Of all heresies and
    crimes, I think of none greater than that which would make
    the soul of man to be mortal. In every other there is hope
    of salvation, but none in this. He who should say what I am
    charged with saying, neither believes in God nor justice, in
    the resurrection, in Christ Jesus, in the Scriptures, nor,
    indeed, in anything, but declares that all is death, and that
    man and beast are alike. Had I said anything of the kind--said
    it not in words only, but written and published it, I should
    myself think me worthy of death.

    Wherefore, my Lords, I demand that my false accuser be
    declared subject to the law of retaliation, and like me be
    sent to prison until the cause between him and me, for death
    or other penalty, is decided. To this effect I here engage
    myself against him, submit myself to all that the Lex Talionis
    requires, and declare that I shall be content to die if I am
    not borne out in everything I shall bring against him. My
    Lords, I demand of you, justice, justice, justice!

    From your prison of Geneva, this 22nd of September, 1553.

    MICHAEL SERVETUS, pleading his own cause.

The letter was followed by a series of articles in form like those
lately brought against himself, headed--


_Articles on which Michael Servetus demands that John Calvin be
interrogated._

    I. Whether in the month of March last he did not write, by
    the hand of William Trie, to Lyons, and say many things about
    Michael Villanovanus called Servetus. What were the contents of
    the letter, and with what motive was it sent?

    II. Whether with the letter in question he sent half of the
    first sheet of the book of the said Michael Servetus, entitled
    ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ on which were the Title, the Table
    of Contents, and the beginning of the work?

    III. Whether this was not sent with a view to its being shown
    to the authorities of Lyons, in order to have Servetus arrested
    and impeached, as happened in fact?

    IV. Whether he has not heard since then that in consequence of
    the charges thereby brought against him, he, the said Servetus,
    had been burned in effigy, and his property confiscated; he
    himself having only escaped burning in person by escaping from
    prison?

    V. Whether he does not know that it is no business of a
    minister of the gospel to appear as a criminal accuser and
    pursuer of a man judicially on a capital charge?

    My Lords, there are four great and notable reasons why Calvin
    ought to be condemned:

    _First_: Because doctrinal matters are no subjects for
    criminal prosecutions, as I have shown in my petition, and
    will show more fully from the Doctors of the Church. Acting as
    he has done, he has therefore gone beyond the province of a
    minister of the Gospel, and gravely sinned against justice.

    _Second_: Because he is a false accuser, as the above articles
    declare, and as is easily proved by reading my book.

    _Third_: Because by frivolous reasons and calumnious assertions
    he would suppress the Truth as it is in Jesus Christ, as will
    be made obvious to you, by reference to my writings; what he
    has said of me, being full of lies and wickedness.

    _Fourth_: Because he follows the doctrine of Simon Magus, in
    great part, against all the Doctors of the Church. Wherefore,
    magician as he is, he deserves not only to be condemned, but to
    be banished and cast out of your city, his goods being adjudged
    to me in recompense for mine which he has made me to lose.
    These, my Lords, are the demands I make.

    MICHAEL SERVETUS, in his own cause.

Although we have only conjecture to aid us in understanding the temper
that now shows itself in Servetus, and the hope he evidently entertains
of triumphing over his prosecutor, we cannot be mistaken in ascribing
it to the influence of Perrin and Berthelier. They must have imagined
that the same result would ensue from the appeal to the Churches as
had followed the reference made to them in the case of Jerome Bolsec,
and believed that the worst that would befal their puppet would be
banishment from the city and territory of Geneva. If they could but
cross and spite the refugee Frenchman, their clerical tyrant, through
the fugitive Spaniard, their end would be attained, although at
the cost, perhaps, of a certain amount of inconvenience to their
instrument. The conclusion of Servetus’s last address to the Council
shows clearly the opinion he had been led to form of Calvin’s present
position in Geneva. ‘As the magician he is,’ says Servetus, ‘he ought
to be condemned, and cast out of your city, his property being adjudged
to me in recompense for all I have lost through him!’ The Council
appear to have taken no more notice of this last address and demand of
their prisoner than they had of his preceding more reasonable petitions
and remonstrances.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pause in the proceedings that ensued, pending the receipt of
replies from the Churches consulted; the silence of the Council upon
his letter and inculpation of Calvin, combined with the effects of
continued imprisonment, anxiety, and hope deferred, on a body not of
the strongest, would seem before long to have induced a frame of mind
different from that so unmistakably displayed of late by the prisoner.
The petition forwarded three weeks later to the Council is pitched in a
much lower key than the one last presented.

    Most noble Lords,--It is now about three weeks since I
    petitioned for an audience, and still have no reply. I entreat
    you for the love of Jesus Christ not to refuse me that you
    would grant to a Turk, when I ask for justice at your hands. I
    have, indeed, things of importance to communicate to you, very
    necessary to be known.

    As to what you may have commanded to be done for me in the way
    of cleanliness, I have to inform you that nothing has been
    done, and that I am in a more filthy plight than ever. In
    addition, I suffer terribly from the cold, and from colic, and
    my rupture, which cause me miseries of other kinds I should
    feel shame in writing about more particularly. It is very cruel
    that I am neither allowed to speak nor to have my most pressing
    wants supplied; for the love of God, Sirs, in pity or in duty,
    give orders in my behalf.

                                 From your prison of Geneva,

                                            MICHAEL SERVETUS.

    October 10, 1553.

This appeal to the duty as well as the compassion of the Council was
the first of any he had addressed to it which met with an immediate
response. One of the Syndics, attended by the Clerk of the Court, was
commissioned to visit the prisoner, and inquire into his state, being
requested, further, to see measures taken to have him furnished with
the articles of clothing he required, so that the resolution formerly
come to in this direction should no longer remain a dead letter.

_October 19 and 23._ A month had all but elapsed before the messenger
to the Councils and Churches of the Protestant Swiss Cantons returned
with the replies of the Magistrates and Pastors to the Documents
submitted to them by the Council of Geneva. But he came at last. As the
answers were in Latin, translations into French had to be made for the
behoof of those among the councillors of Geneva who were indifferently
versed in the Latin tongue. Some days more were required for this; so
that though the messenger arrived on October 19, the papers in Latin
and French were only ready on the 23rd, when they were laid before the
Council, once more solemnly assembled in its judicial capacity, with
the prisoner before them.

The Church of Berne which was the first referred to [and had its head
pastor, Haller, as reporter of its conclusion?], blames Servetus not
only for his heresies, but for his insolence and want of respect for
Calvin.

    He seems (says the report) to have thought himself at liberty
    to call in question all the most essential elements of our
    religion, to upset everything by new interpretations of
    Scripture, and to corrupt and throw all into confusion by
    reviving the poison of the ancient heresies.... We pray that
    the Lord will give you such a spirit of prudence, of counsel,
    and of strength, as will enable you to fence your Church and
    the other Churches from this pestilence, and that you will at
    the same time take no step that might be held unbecoming in a
    Christian magistracy.

The Church of Zürich [of which Bullinger must have been the reporter],
replied at greater length than that of Berne, or, indeed, any of
the other Churches, going minutely into the question of Servetus’s
opinions, which are pronounced to be at once heretical and blasphemous.
The Ministers of this Church are particular also in insisting on the
propriety of upholding Calvin in his prosecution of the heretic.

    We trust (say the pastors of Zürich), that the faith and zeal
    of Calvin, your pastor, and our brother, his noble devotion to
    the refugees and the pious, will not be suffered by you to
    be obscured by the unworthy accusations of this man, against
    whom, indeed, we think you ought to show the greater severity,
    inasmuch as our Churches have the evil reputation abroad of
    countenancing heretics, and even of favouring heresy. But
    the holy providence of God, they proceed, waxing in fervour,
    presents you at this moment with an opportunity of clearing
    yourselves as well as us, from such injurious imputations, if
    you but resolve to show yourselves vigilant, and well disposed
    to prevent the further spread of the poison. We do not doubt,
    indeed, that your Excellencies will act in this wise.

Schaffhausen was content to subscribe to all that had been said by
Zürich (whose conclusion, consequently, had been communicated to it);
but could not resist insinuating how it thought the Spaniard should be
dealt with.

    We do not doubt (say its Ministers) that you, with commendable
    prudence, will so repress this attempt of Servetus, that his
    blasphemies shall not be suffered to eat like a gangrene into
    the limbs of Christ. To use lengthy reasonings with a view to
    free him from his errors, would but be to rave with a madman.

The pastors of the Church of Basle [with Sulzer as reporter], the last
consulted, are rejoiced to see Servetus in the hands of the magistrates
of Geneva; feeling persuaded that they will not be wanting either
in saintly zeal or Christian prudence, in finding a remedy for an
evil that has already led to the ruin of vast numbers of souls. The
theological culpability of the man is also much aggravated in their
opinion by the obstinacy and insolence with which he persists in his
errors, instead of yielding to the reflections which imprisonment and
the instructions of the pastors of Geneva ought to have led him to make.

    We exhort you, therefore (they conclude), to use, as it seems
    you are disposed to do, all the means at your command to
    cure him of his errors, and so to remedy the scandals he has
    occasioned; or, otherwise, does he show himself incurably
    anchored in his perverse opinions, to constrain him, as is
    your duty, by the powers you have from God, in such a way that
    henceforth he shall not continue to disquiet the Church of
    Christ, and so make the end worse than the beginning. The Lord
    will surely grant you his spirit of wisdom and of strength to
    this end.

We thus see that the Churches, whilst they all agree in condemning,
refrain from declaring in precise terms the kind of punishment they
would have awarded the prisoner--they do not in so many words say
they would have him put to death; but finding him guilty of heresy
and blasphemy, they knew that by the law of the land he must die.
Condemning him unequivocally, therefore, for his theological views,
they, in fact, pronounce his doom. To have done so directly, would
have been trenching on the rights of the Council of Geneva, by whom,
under the circumstances, a covert wish was sure to be better taken than
an open recommendation. And let us not overlook the base and selfish
motive that underlies the severity counselled: by putting the heretical
Spaniard to death, the Swiss Churches will free themselves from the
imputation of favouring heresy!

So much for the conclusions and implied wishes of the Ministers. The
Magistrates of the cities consulted, differ but little, if at all, from
their Clergy. The Council of Berne express a hope that their brothers
of Geneva will not allow the wickedness and evil intentions of their
prisoner to make further head, all he says being so manifestly opposed
to the Christian religion, which they think it must be his purpose
to vilipend and do what in him lies to exterminate. They, therefore,
‘entreat the Senate of Geneva so to comport themselves--and they
do not question their inclination in this--that such sectaries and
disseminators of error as their prisoner shall no longer be suffered to
sow in the Church of Christ.’

The reply of Berne is said by Calvin to have had greater influence
on the Judges of Servetus than that of any of the other Councils.
Geneva had oftener than once in former years been indebted to Berne
for assistance in her straits, and still continued, to a considerable
extent, under the influence of the Canton that was looked up to as
Chief in the Swiss Confederation. The Magistrates of Berne, moreover,
were more outspoken, perhaps, than those of any of the other Cantons.

But we discover, after all, that neither the Churches nor Councils were
acting independently and of knowledge self-acquired of the business.
The Clergy were dominated by Calvin, the Councils by the Clergy; and
there appears to have been collusion and concert among the reporters
both of the Churches and Senates.

    Yesterday (September 26), (writes Haller of Berne, to Bullinger
    of Zürich) we received the documents in the case of Servetus,
    and have since been studying them in view of our reply. But we
    should like to know what your answer is before we send ours. We
    therefore entreat you immediately to inform us of its tenor.
    Yet wherefore so much ado! the man is a heretic, and the Church
    must get rid of him. Let me, however, I beseech you, speedily
    know the conclusion you have come to.

The Zürich pastor would seem to have been the most active of all the
ministers in collecting and imparting information of a kind that would
lead to unanimity of conclusion among the Churches and Councils. His
friend, Ambrose Blaurer, acknowledging receipt of a letter from him
communicating the decision of Zürich, says that he ‘had thought the
pestilent Servetus, whose book he had read twenty years ago, must long
since have been dead and buried.’ But the self-righteous man must add
further: ‘We are surely tried by heresies and satanic abortions of the
sort, in order that they who are steadfast in the faith may be made
known.’ Sulzer of Basle has also been primed by him of Zürich, for, in
reply to the intimation he has received of what has been done, he says
that he, Sulzer, ‘is rejoiced to have heard of the arrest of Servetus
in a quarter where it seems he may be effectually kept from infecting
the Church with his heretical dogmas in time to come; although I know
there be some who are violently opposed to Calvin’s proceedings, and
the subserviency of the Senate in the business.’

So much for the Churches and Councils of the Cantons consulted; and how
little the latter were disposed to act, or, indeed, were capable of
acting of themselves, and on their own appreciation of the questions
submitted to them, is made manifest by the letter which Haller wrote to
Bullinger at this time:

    I have to give you my best thanks, dear Sir and Brother, for
    your diligence in communicating with the Genevese [and, of
    course, with the Bernese also] so speedily. Our Council have
    been of the same mind as yours in their reply. We, _as ordered
    by them_, have exposed the principal errors of Servetus,
    article by article. When our Councillors had been made aware
    of their nature, they were so horror-struck, that I have no
    doubt, had the writer been in prison here, he would have been
    burned alive. But as the matters in question were very little
    intelligible to them, they desired that I should reply in a
    letter as from myself to the Council of Geneva. They added,
    however, from themselves, that they exhorted the Genevese so to
    deal with the poison that it should not, by any negligence of
    theirs, be suffered to spread to neighbouring districts; and,
    indeed, it has often happened that commotions in Geneva have
    extended from its walls and got footing within ours. I think I
    need not send you a copy of our reply, as it agrees so entirely
    in every respect with your own.

                                             Yours most truly,

                                                         J. HALLER.

    Berne: October 19, 1553.

The Churches and Councils consulted, then, were at one in their
condemnation of Servetus. But it has been presumed that ecclesiastical
conclusion and innuendo backed by civilian assent, might still have
failed to bring matters to the issue aimed at by the prosecution, had
not political considerations intervened to complicate and sway judicial
action. We are ready enough to believe that there was so much common
sense in the Senate of Geneva, and such a feeling of the impossibility
of attaining to absolute certainty in questions of dogmatic theology,
that they were even more indisposed than they plainly show themselves
to have been to come to a final decision in the case of their prisoner.
But to assume that political considerations had the lead in the
condemnation of Servetus, would, we venture to think, be a great
mistake. To remove the prosecution from the sphere of theology to that
of policy, were to take from it its chief interest and significance.
But the arrest was made, the trial was begun, and the sentence was
delivered exclusively on theological grounds. The political element
that got mixed up with the business, was no more than an accident, and
cannot truly be said to have influenced the judgment finally given. The
four Swiss cantonal Councils and Churches which condemned Servetus,
condemned him on theological grounds alone; they knew little or nothing
of the political strife that agitated Geneva, and were not swayed by it
in their decision.

Servetus himself, ill-advised and misled by those who had access to
him, fully persuaded of the truth of his opinions, and relying on their
consonance with Scripture, as he read it, may be said to have left his
Judges one way only out of the difficult and delicate position in
which they found themselves; and this was by finding him guilty of the
theological errors laid to his charge. He appeared to be opposed not
only to every religious principle as known to them, and as understood
alike by Catholics and Protestants, but he had used such objectionable
language in speaking of subjects held so sacred as the Trinity and
the Baptism of Infants, that even the most tolerant in the present
day would find it inexcusable; how much less warrantable must it have
appeared amid the universally prevalent intolerance of three centuries
ago! Nevertheless, it may be that the mind of every member of the
Council had not yet been made up as to the _degree_ of the prisoner’s
guiltiness, or even granting him guilty of everything imputed to
him, that he, therefore, deserved to die; and die he must if they so
declared him.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the grounds for a definitive decree being before the Court on their
meeting of the 23rd, we must presume that the sense of the members
generally as to the guiltiness of the prisoner had been ascertained,
and that the opinion of the majority to this effect was only not
formulated and pronounced because of the absence of some of the leading
Councillors--that of Amied Perrin, the first Syndic, being particularly
remarked. An adjournment was therefore moved; but to afford no further
excuse for delay in bringing the protracted business of the Servetus
Trial to an end, summonses for a special session on the 26th were
ordered to be issued. Doubtful of the decision, as it might seem, and
anxious for delay in consequence of the tenor of the letters from
the Churches, Perrin had absented himself from the meeting of the
23rd, through indisposition, as he said himself, through _feigned_
indisposition, according to Calvin, as we learn from a letter of his to
his friend Farel of the 26th, in which he speaks of his great political
antagonist by the derisive title of _Cæsar comicus_. Meantime, the
members of the Court present determined to proceed to the gaol, and
inform the prisoner of their purpose to have him before them with the
least possible delay, to hear their final award. Before taking their
leave, and as if to intimate to the unhappy Servetus what was to
follow, they placed him under the care of two special warders, who were
to hold themselves responsible with their lives for his safe custody.

The unusual visit of his Judges, and the additional guard set over
him must, we should imagine, have sent a chill to the heart of the
unfortunate Servetus, and gone far to damp out the hope he had been
led to entertain either of acquittal or a sentence short of that which
he knew Calvin had made up his mind from the first to extort. Yet does
he not appear even now to have thought it possible that his Judges
would condemn him to death. Self-conscious rectitude alone, and a
better belief than it deserved in the world’s will to do justly and
mercifully, had blinded him to the fate that awaited him.

During the three days’ pause that now ensued, some faint show of
sympathy for the prisoner was manifested outside the walls of the
Council chamber; but it came from no one of weight or standing in the
Republic. Zebedee, the pastor of Noyon, a known opponent of Calvin on
some of his theological tenets, and Gribaldo, an Italian by birth,
by profession a lawyer, now a refugee from his home for conscience’
sake, were bold enough to proffer something in his behalf; Gribaldo
even going so far as to defend certain of his conclusions, and having
a word to say in favour of toleration. But he was not backed by the
congregation of his countrymen, domiciled in Geneva, so that the move
he made had no result. The show of opposition on the part of the
Italian to his sovereign will and pleasure was not, however, forgotten
by Calvin. Denounced by him at a later period for irregularity of some
sort, in contravention of consistorial law, Gribaldo found it advisable
for safety’s sake to quit Geneva.

Still there were not wanting many, both laymen and clerics, natives
of Geneva, as well as refugees, devoutly attached to Calvinistic
doctrines, who showed a lively repugnance to pushing matters the length
of capital punishment in cases of heresy; the instinctive feeling of
all pointing to this as the conclusion aimed at by the prosecution.
For Reformers--heretics themselves in the eyes of the dominant
European Church--to have recourse to measures that appeared in such
an odious light when brought into requisition by Roman Catholics,
seemed illogical, unwarrantable, and dangerous. But the number who
raised their voices in this direction was small. The prisoner was not
an object of interest to the Libertine party in general; a stranger
in Geneva, he was in some sort the particular puppet of Perrin and
Berthelier, rather than the representative of a principle. Even to the
leaders he was nothing more than a counter in the political game of the
day. In a word, and in so far as anything was known about him to the
public, the man entertained extraordinary, and what seemed blasphemous
opinions on religion, as they had learned to understand the word, and
so must be a wicked and worthless person, who might safely be left to
be dealt with by the ministers and civil authorities in the way they
judged best.

Calvin, at this momentous juncture, maintained an attitude of entire
confidence as to the pending decision. He had been informed of the
tenor of the letters received from the Swiss cities; and, aware of
their uniform agreement in the theological culpability of Servetus, he
could rely on the effect this must produce on the minds of the Judges.
He seems even to have thought it unnecessary any longer to exert the
special influence he could always bring to bear on any question in
debate before the Council--he refrained from preaching against the
prisoner and holding him up as a blasphemer against God and religion,
as had been his wont.

_October 26._--The Council, in its capacity of High Court of Criminal
Justice, solemnly convoked for this day, was well attended, though not
quite complete as to numbers; Amied Perrin, cured of his indisposition,
presiding.

The Governing Body of the Republic of Geneva consisted, as we have
seen, of two extreme and mutually opposed parties--the Libertines, or
patriots, and the Clericals, or abettors of Calvin and theocratic rule.
Each of these had representatives in the Council whose voices could
be implicitly relied on. But--as in all general assemblies that ever
came together, there are still found a certain number of neutrals or
waverers, men of no strong convictions one way or another; too weak in
some cases to rely on themselves and act independently; too strong in
others to be led by any convictions but their own, whose votes could
make the balance incline one way or another, so were they not wanting
in the Council of Geneva at this time. Now, in the fateful meeting of
October 26, it was observed that several of the most constant opponents
of Calvin had absented themselves, whilst not one of his regular
supporters failed to appear.

The resolution to be come to was delicate, on matters unfamiliar, and
apt to excite the scruples of the conscientious and timid. It was the
life of no brutal offender against person or property, no criminal, in
fact, save by construction, that was in debate, but that of a scholar
of varied accomplishments, against whom no social delinquency had been
charged, or, if charged, which had not been rebutted, and fallen to
the ground. Yet was this man accused of heresy and blasphemy against
God and religion, not only by the distinguished head of the Church
of Geneva and its other ministers, but was now found guilty of these
theological crimes, involving, as they were said to do, disruption of
the entire social fabric, by every one of the Confederate Churches and
Councils consulted. What, forsooth, could be urged in behalf of him who
had spoken of the Trinity as a three-headed monster, comparable to the
hell-dog of the heathen poets, and declared the Baptism of Infants to
be an invention of the devil?

And then, and yet more, it was not by the Reformed Churches only that
the prisoner had been challenged for heresy, and found guilty; he had
been tried and convicted on this ground by their neighbours the Roman
Catholics of Vienne, been burned in effigy by them along with his
books, and only escaped burning in person by breaking from his prison.
The Genevese, moreover, had been frequently reproached as well by
papists as by professors of other forms of Christianity akin to their
own, with laxity in matters of doctrine, and even called abettors of
heresy and shelterers of heretics; and they had, indeed, been invaded
of late by a host of individuals fleeing for their lives, through
entertaining all manner of new and hitherto unheard-of opinions on
religion.

Weary on every side of wranglings upon subjects they did not
understand, the clerical party in the Senate would not be thought
less than zealous for the true Faith--the Faith which was their own;
whilst the more timid of their adversaries sought excuse and escape
from responsibility by absenting themselves at the moment the vote must
be given on the guilt or innocence of the prisoner. But everything at
the moment conspired to associate theological dissidence with social
criminality, and to make of the independent critic of particular
religious dogmas the enemy of all religion.

In the light, therefore, in which Servetus was regarded, his cause
was not seen as one through which, in the event of a decision in his
favour, the Liberal party in the Council of Geneva might hope to find
greater freedom to lead their lives in the way they listed; neither,
through a sentence adverse to him, was it one through which they
foresaw that the iron hand of Calvin would be made either lighter or
heavier than it was. There were, in fact, more reasons for letting
Calvin have his way here than for opposing him--for suffering Servetus
to burn, than for saving his life. The Council had been hard upon the
Reformer of late, and were not disposed to quarrel with him in a matter
that had but a remote connection with their domestic concerns. Backed
as their great theologian was by the Swiss Churches, they believed that
they might safely and with propriety now show themselves on his side,
by condemning the heretic to death.

The meeting of the Court on the 26th, then, not so fully attended as we
have said by the usual opponents of Calvin as by his supporters, had
to face the painful duty of pronouncing sentence on their prisoner at
last. A resolution finding him guilty of the charges alleged, and so
deserving of death, must now have been moved by one of the members--by
whom we are not informed--for we find it immediately met, on the part
of Perrin, by a counter-resolution, declaring him not guilty. Perrin,
we must presume, maintained that the charges were not of a nature that
fell properly under their cognisance as a Court of Criminal Justice.
Nothing had been brought home to the prisoner that showed him to be a
disturber of the public peace, and so came within the sphere of what
he held to be their proper jurisdiction. Perrin must, therefore, have
argued that the Court could only pronounce him not guilty. But this
would plainly have been to stultify the whole of their proceedings
during the last two months and more. The Court, by the laws of
the country, was competent in causes of every complexion, and the
prosecution had proceeded from the first on the ground of theological
criminality. The proposition of the First Syndic, consequently, could
not be entertained, but was rejected as a matter of course. Perrin
then moved that the cause should be remitted to the Council of the Two
Hundred. But this proposal was also negatived: the General Council in
its capacity of Criminal Court, could not waive its right of decision
in a case in which its competence was recognised, and such ample
pains had been taken to get at the merits of the case. Perrin must
then, doubtless, have pleaded for some punishment short of the extreme
penalty of death awarded to the heretic by the law of the land. This
last effort failing like the others, and the Records of the Court
giving no intimation of any further motion in favour of the prisoner,
the following resolution was moved, and by a majority of votes adopted:

‘Having a summary of the process against the prisoner, Michael
Servetus, and the reports of the parties consulted before us, it
is hereby resolved, and, in consideration of his great errors and
blasphemies, decreed, that he be taken to Champel, and there burned
alive; that this sentence be carried into effect on the morrow, and
that his books be burned with him.’[98]

The sentence once resolved on, appears to have been immediately
communicated to Calvin, and he in the same hour proceeded to inform his
most intimate friend Farel of the result. In anticipation of the event,
he had, indeed, written to Farel some days before, begging him to come
to Geneva. The clergy of the city having acted with Calvin to a man
in the prosecution, it was thought more seemly that a stranger should
attend the prisoner in his last moments, than one of themselves; hence
Calvin’s first letter of October 14, in anticipation of the final
sentence, and to the following effect:

    I have no words, my dear Farel, adequately to express my thanks
    to you for your great solicitude in respect of ourself and our
    Church. I purposely abstained from writing to you for fear of
    inducing you to take horse so soon (Farel had been dangerously
    ill), and I would not be troublesome to you until time pressed.
    You say, indeed, that you do not thank me for sparing you; and
    I know how willing, nay, how eager you are at all times to
    labour for the Church of God, how ready ever to come to our aid.

    As to the state of affairs with us, I imagine you are already
    well informed, through Viret, or rather through my letters
    to him, which, however, were really meant for you both in
    common. The enemy is now intent on the business that comes on
    for discussion before the General Council about the Ides of
    November, and I think it would be well were Viret to come to
    us then; but I would have you here somewhat sooner--about the
    time when the affair of Servetus will be drawing to a close;
    and this I hope will be before the end of the ensuing week....
    I would not, however, incommode you, or have you stir, where no
    immediate necessity compels.

Farel had not arrived so soon as Calvin expected, so he writes again on
the 26th, and informs his friend that answers had been received from
the Churches unanimous in their condemnation of Servetus. Alluding to
the proceedings during the last few days of the trial, when Perrin,
the First Syndic, made vain attempts by delay and entreaty to save the
prisoner’s life, Calvin speaks of the merciful man by the nickname
under which he was wont to characterise his great Libertine opponent,
and says:

    Our comical Cæsar having feigned illness for three days,
    mounted the tribune at length with a view to aid the wicked
    scoundrel--_istum sceleratum_--to escape punishment. Nor did he
    blush to demand that the cause might be remitted to the Council
    of the Two Hundred. But in vain, all was refused, the prisoner
    was condemned, and to-morrow he will suffer death.

Self-centred, resolute as he was, we yet see in Calvin’s anxiety to
have Farel beside him, that he felt the want of such support as an
all-devoted friend alone can give in supreme moments of our lives. His
last letter could not have reached Farel in such time as would have
enabled him to be in Geneva on the day of the execution; but when it
was despatched Farel was already on his way from Neuchatel, and reached
Geneva in the evening of the 26th, so that he had the news of all that
had taken place, and of the fate that awaited the unhappy Servetus on
the morrow, from the mouth of Calvin himself.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE ATTITUDE OF CALVIN--THE HOPES OF SERVETUS.


Informed of the decree of the Court, Calvin tells us that he bestirred
himself to have the sentence carried out in the way usual in criminal
cases, by beheading with the sword, instead of burning by slow fire.
The heretic must be got rid of, he must die, but the Reformer would
give a civil rather than an ecclesiastical complexion to the business,
and escape imitation of the Roman Catholic cruel mode of putting God’s
enemies, as heretics were called, to death. The Council, however, did
not enter into his views. The Canon Law, still in force over Europe,
condemned the convicted heretic to death by fire, and the majority of
the Court determined to abide by the statute as it stood. Bigotry and
intolerance, fanned to fever heat, were in the ascendant, and would
forego none of their most terrible means of punishing the offender,
and striking terror into the vulgar mind. The oblation in such cases
provided, would even have appeared to lose its significance, had it
been presented otherwise than as ‘a sacrifice of a sweet savour made by
fire to the Lord’; for still influenced by the ritual of the old Hebrew
Law, which, in earlier days, required the first-born of man and beast
for the altar, and had criminals of all sorts ‘hung up before the sun,’
lives forfeited for theological errors, were, in reality, offerings to
appease the wrath or win the favour of the Supreme!

Servetus, meanwhile, made aware that the trial was at an end, and that
nothing more remained for him but to learn his fate, though he may have
been alarmed by the additional measures taken for his safe custody,
seems not yet, as we have said, to have abandoned the persuasion that
he would either be acquitted or subjected to some minor or merely
nominal penalty. He was not conscience-stricken; he knew himself
guilty of no impiety or intentional blasphemy; his object from first
to last had been to present what he thought were higher, truer views
of the Revelation which he believed God had made of himself to mankind
in the olden time in Judæa; and the proclaimed purpose of his latest
work, as he said himself to his Judges, was the _Restoration_, not
the destruction of Christianity. More than this: he was not now among
Papists bound to intolerance by their creed, but among Protestants
in Geneva--the stronghold of free thought and its necessary logical
adjunct, toleration; among men who had studied, reasoned, and, like
himself, put their own construction on writings which he as well as
they believed to be the Word of God. And then, had he not all along
been upheld by Perrin and Berthelier, in the belief of triumphing
over his persecutor? How should hopes of longer life in view of
further effort in the cause that was dear to him, and of freedom to
shape out thoughts on matters high and holy, have forsaken him? True,
Calvin had aimed at his life through the people of Vienne; and in his
present bonds, and all the unworthy usage he suffered, he could not
fail to realise the persistent hostility of the man who held him in
such despite. Still he was in Geneva, though a prisoner, and Calvin
was not all in all within that Republican city. There was a powerful
party opposed to the tyranny and self-assertion of the ecclesiastic,
the distinguished heads of which gave him their countenance and
support--there seemed hardly room for doubt: he would not be found
guilty of having blasphemed, but would be acquitted and set at liberty.

Cherishing such hopes and so supported, are we to wonder that the
Sentence of Death took the unhappy Servetus entirely by surprise?
Only imparted to him in the early morning of the day on which he was
doomed to die, he was at first as if struck dumb by the intelligence.
He did but groan aloud and sigh as if his heart would burst; and when
he recovered speech at length, it was only to rave like one demented,
to strike his breast, and cry in his native Spanish, Misericordia,
Misericordia! By degrees, however, he recovered his self-possession and
became more calm. Master of himself, and reverting in thought to his
pursuer, his first coherent words were to request an interview with
Calvin, which he, we need not doubt, was nowise slow to grant, for he
must have thought it both a flattering and a hopeful proposal. Now had
the sinner come to his senses; now would he make a clean breast of it,
abjure the convictions of his life, and with a lie on his lips be made
meet for glory! But nothing of all this was in the mind of Servetus. He
had no misgivings about his theological conclusions; in these he was
securely anchored; but he felt like a true man in the face of impending
fate, and would own that he had not comported himself with all the
respect that was rightfully due to his theological opponent. Hence his
request for the interview.

Accompanied by two of the Councillors, Calvin entered the prison an
hour or two before noon of the fateful October 27, 1553, and prefacing
the account he has left us of what transpired at the meeting, by saying
that Servetus had received the notice of his sentence and impending
doom with a ‘sort of brutish stupidity--_cum belluina stupiditate_,’
he proceeds: ‘I asked him what he wanted with me--_quidnam vellet?_
To which he replied, that he desired to ask my pardon.’ I then said
that I had never prosecuted anyone on merely personal grounds; that I
had admonished him with all the gentleness I could command as many as
sixteen years ago, and not without danger to my own life had spared no
pains to cure him of his errors. But all in vain! my expostulations
appeared rather to excite his bile. Quitting speech of myself, however,
I then desired him rather to ask pardon of the Eternal God, towards
whom he had shown himself but too contumelious, presuming, as he had
done, to take from his Essence the three hypostases that pertain to it;
and saying that were it possible to show a personal distinction between
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we should have a three-headed Cerberus
for a God; with much beside that need not now be repeated. Seeing,
ere long, that all I said went for nothing, and feeling indisposed to
trespass on the time of the Magistrates, or to appear something more
than my Master, in obedience to the precept of Paul, I took my leave of
the heretic, αὐτοκατάκριτος--self-condemned.[99]

But there is a deep-lying truth in the French adage: ‘Qui s’excuse
s’accuse--_he who excuses accuses himself_.’ The first impulse of
the tolerant Servetus, on coming to his senses, was to ask pardon of
the man who had brought him to his death; the first impulse of the
implacable Calvin was to apologise for his deed, and to shift to a
sense of public duty, a course to which his secret soul informed him
he had been mainly prompted by private hate. Nor is that which Calvin
connects with his apology, when he speaks of having imperilled his
life for Servetus’s sake, to be received as true in fact. That he
would have braved any danger that might have accompanied the public
discussion of their opinions proposed by Servetus in 1534, we can well
believe; but he was not required to face it, and all their subsequent
correspondence, private and confidential as it was, could have been
attended with peril neither to him nor Servetus--or if to either it
must have been to Servetus had he been discovered in correspondence
with the arch-heretic of Geneva. We can hardly imagine Calvin to have
been so totally devoid of humanity as to have felt no compunctious
visitings when he stood face to face with the man whom his persistent
enmity alone had brought to such a pass; but he would also have been
other than he meets us in history, and otherwise circumstanced than he
was as αὐτοκράτωρ--despot of Geneva--had he not felt something
of self-gratulation and even of triumph, when pardon was asked of him
by his humbled foe.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE SENTENCE AND EXECUTION.


An hour before noon of October 27, 1553, the ‘Lieutenant Criminel,’
Tissot, accompanied by other officials and a guard, entered the gaol,
and ordered the prisoner to come with them, and learn the pleasure of
My Lords the Councillors and Justices of Geneva.

The tribunal, in conformity with custom, now assembled before the porch
of the Hotel de Ville, received the prisoner, all standing. The proper
officer then proceeded to recapitulate the heads of the process against
him, Michael Servetus, of Villanova, in the Kingdom of Aragon, in
Spain, in which he is charged--

    _First_: with having, between twenty-three and twenty-four
    years ago, caused to be printed at Hagenau, in Germany, a
    book against the Holy Trinity, full of blasphemies, to the
    great scandal of the Churches of Germany, the book having been
    condemned by all their doctors, and he, the writer, forced
    to fly that country. _Item._ With having, in spite of this,
    not only persisted in his errors and infected many with them,
    but with having lately had another book clandestinely printed
    at Vienne in Dauphiny, filled with the like heresies and
    execrable blasphemies against the Holy Trinity, the Son of
    God, the Baptism of Infants, and other sacred doctrines, the
    foundations of the Christian religion. _Item._ With having in
    the said book called all who believe in a Trinity, Tritheists,
    and even Atheists, and the Trinity itself a dæmon or monster
    having three heads. _Item._ With having blasphemed horribly,
    and said that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God from all
    Eternity, but only became so from his Incarnation; that he is
    not the Son of David according to the flesh, but was created of
    the substance of God, having received three of his constituent
    elements from God, and one only from the Virgin Mary, whereby
    he wickedly proposed to abolish the true and entire humanity
    of Jesus Christ. _Item._ With declaring the Baptism of Infants
    to be sorcery and a diabolical invention. _Item._ With having
    uttered other blasphemies, with which the book in question is
    full, all alike against the Majesty of God, the Son of God, and
    the Holy Ghost, to the ruin of many poor souls, betrayed and
    desolated by such detestable doctrines. _Item._ With having,
    full of malice, entitled the said book, though crammed with
    heresies against the holy evangelical doctrine, ‘Christianismi
    Restitutio--the Restoration of Christianity,’ the better to
    deceive and seduce poor ignorant folks, poisoning them all
    the while they fancied they were sitting in the shadow of
    sound doctrine. _Item._ With attacking our faith by letters
    as well as by his book, and saying to one of the ministers of
    this city that our holy evangelical doctrine is a religion
    without faith, and indeed without God, we having a Cerberus
    with three heads, for our God. _Item._ For having perfidiously
    broken and escaped from the prison of Vienne, where he had
    been confined because of the wicked and abominable opinions
    confessed in his book. _Item._ For continuing obstinate in
    his opinions, not only against the true Christian religion,
    but, as an arrogant innovator and inventor of heresies against
    Popery, which led to his being burned in effigy at Vienne,
    along with five bales of his book. _Item._ And in addition to
    all of which, being confined in the gaol of this city, he has
    not ceased maliciously to persist in the aforesaid wicked
    and detestable errors, attempting to maintain them, with
    calumnious abuse of all true Christians, faithful followers of
    the immaculate Christian religion, calling them Tritheists,
    Atheists, and Sorcerers, in spite of the remonstrances made to
    him in Germany, as said, and in contempt of the reprehensions
    and corrections he has received, and the imprisonment he has
    undergone as well here as elsewhere.

    Now, we the Syndics and Judges in criminal cases within this
    city, having reviewed the process carried on before us, at
    the instance of our Lieutenant having charge of such cases,
    against thee, Michael Servetus of Villanova, in the Kingdom
    of Aragon, in Spain, whereby guided, and by thy voluntary
    confessions made before us, many times repeated, as well as
    by thy books produced before us, we decree and determine that
    thou, Michael Servetus, hast, for a long time, promulgated
    false and heretical doctrine, and, rejecting all remonstrance
    and correction, hast, maliciously, perversely, and obstinately,
    continued disseminating and divulging, even by the printing
    of books, blasphemies against God the Father, the Son, and
    the Holy Ghost, in a word, against the whole foundations of
    the Christian religion, thereby seeking to create schism and
    trouble in the Church of God, many souls, members of which
    may have been ruined and lost--horrible and dreadful thing,
    scandalous and contaminating in thee, thou, having no shame nor
    horror in setting thyself up in all against the Divine Majesty
    and the Holy Trinity, and having further taken pains to infect,
    and given thyself up obstinately to continue infecting the
    world with thy heresies and stinking heretical poison (_tes
    heresies et puante poyson hereticale_)--case and crime of
    heresy grievous and detestable, deserving of severe corporal
    punishment.

    These and other just causes moving us, desiring to purge the
    Church of God of such infection, and to cut off from it so
    rotten a member, we, sitting as a Judicial Tribunal in the seat
    of our ancestors, with the entire assent of the General Council
    of the State, and our fellow-citizens, calling on the name
    of God to deliver true judgment, having the Holy Scriptures
    before us, and saying: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
    Ghost, we now pronounce our final sentence and condemn thee,
    Michael Servetus, to be bound and taken to Champel, and there
    being fastened to a stake, to be burned alive, along with thy
    books, printed as well as written by thy hand, until thy body
    be reduced to ashes. So shall thy days end, and thou be made
    an example to others who would do as thou hast done. And we
    command you, our Lieutenant, to see this our sentence carried
    forthwith into execution.

The staff, according to custom, was then broken over the prisoner, and
there was silence for a moment.

The terrible sentence pronounced, the pause that followed was first
broken by Servetus; not to sue for mercy against the final award, from
which he knew there was no appeal, but to entreat that the manner of
carrying it out might be commuted for one less dreadful. ‘He feared,’
he said, ‘that through excess of suffering he might prove faithless to
himself, and belie the convictions of his life. If he had erred, it was
in ignorance; he was so constituted mentally and morally as to desire
the glory of God, and had always striven to abide by the teachings of
the Scriptures.’ The appeal to the humanity of the Judges, however, met
with no response. Farel, indeed, who was present, interposed, telling
him that to obtain any favour he should begin by acknowledging and
showing contrition for his errors. But he gave no heed to this, and
went on to say that ‘he had done nothing to deserve death; he prayed
God, nevertheless, to forgive his enemies and persecutors.’ Rising from
the suppliant attitude he had assumed, he exclaimed, ‘O God, save my
soul; O Jesu, Son of the eternal God, have compassion upon me!’

From the porch of the Hotel de Ville, where the sentence was delivered,
a solemn procession was now formed for Champel, the place of
execution, passing by the Rue St. Antoine, and leaving the city by the
corresponding gate: the ‘Lieutenant Criminel,’ and other officers on
horseback, a guard of archers surrounding the prisoner and Farel, who
accompanied him on his death walk, and did not cease from efforts to
wring from him an avowal of his errors. But in vain; he had no answer
other than broken ejaculations and invocations on the name of God. ‘Is
there no word in your mouth but the name of God?’ said Farel. ‘On whom
can I now call but on God?’ said the unhappy Servetus. ‘Have you no
last words for anyone--for wife or child, perhaps, if you have either?’
said the well-meaning pastor; but he met with no reply; though when
admonished to do so, the doomed man made no difficulty about asking
the people to join him in his prayers. This gave Farel an opportunity
to say to the crowd, ‘You see what power Satan has when he has taken
possession of the soul. This is a learned man, who perhaps even meant
to do well; but he fell into the power of the devil, and the same thing
might happen to any one of you. Though he has said that you have no
God, he yet asks you to join him in his prayers!’

But this is not all we have on the last moments of Servetus. Writing
to his friend, Ambrose Blaurer, soon after the fatal October 27,
Farel says, ‘You ask me about Servetus, so justly punished by a pious
magistracy. I was at Geneva when the sentence was delivered, and with
him when he died. The wretched man could not be brought to say that
Christ was the Eternal Son of God. When I urged him on the subject, he
desired me to point to a single place in the Scriptures in which Christ
is spoken of as the Son of God before his birth. All that could be done
had no effect in turning him from this error; he said nothing against
what was urged, but went on his way; we could by no means obtain what
we desired, viz., that he should own his error and acknowledge the
truth. We exhorted, we entreated, but made no impression. He beat
his breast, asked pardon for his faults, invoked God, confessed his
Saviour, and much besides, but would not acknowledge the Son of God,
save in the man Jesus. Nor was I alone in my exhortations; some of the
brethren also interposed, and admonished him ingenuously to admit and
say that he hated his errors; but he only replied that he was unjustly
condemned to death. On this I said: “Do you, who have so greatly
sinned, presume to justify yourself? If you go on thus I shall leave
you to the judgment of God, and accompany you no farther. I meant to
exhort the people to pray for you, hoping you would edify them; and
thought not to leave you till you had rendered your last breath.” After
this he said nothing more of himself, although when I spoke of the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whom we preach in our churches, and in
whom the faithful believe, he said that it was right and good to do so;
but when I went on to say that he did not really think thus, and had
written otherwise, he would not admit it. He told me by the way that he
had had some things from a man who enjoyed no small reputation among
some of us. But though I do not doubt of Erasmus having been infected
in no trifling degree by the writings of the Rabbins, I know that in
his later works at least he expresses himself otherwise than in those
of earlier date. But the unhappy Servetus could not readily be made to
imbibe the truth and put it to increase; neither could he be cured of
his errors by the sound teaching of others.

‘It were long did I repeat--I do not think, indeed, I can remember--all
that was said between seven in the morning and mid-day. In sum,
however, although he made no particular confession of his faith,
God hindered his name and doctrine from being impugned by any open
contumelious expression.’

When he came in sight of the fatal pile, the wretched Servetus
prostrated himself on the ground, and for a while was absorbed in
prayer. Rising and advancing a few steps, he found himself in the
hands of the executioner, by whom he was made to sit on a block,
his feet just reaching the ground. His body was then bound to the
stake behind him by several turns of an iron chain, whilst his neck
was secured in like manner by the coils of a hempen rope. His two
books--the one in manuscript sent to Calvin in confidence six or
eight years before for his strictures, and a copy of the one lately
printed at Vienne--were then fastened to his waist, and his head was
encircled in mockery with a chaplet of straw and green twigs bestrewed
with brimstone. The deadly torch was then applied to the faggots and
flashed in his face; and the brimstone catching, and the flames rising,
wrung from the victim such a cry of anguish as struck terror into the
surrounding crowd. After this he was bravely silent; but the wood being
purposely green, although the people aided the executioner in heaping
the faggots upon him, a long half-hour elapsed before he ceased to
show signs of life and of suffering. Immediately before giving up the
ghost, with a last expiring effort he cried aloud: ‘Jesu, Thou Son of
the eternal God, have compassion upon me!’ All was then hushed save the
hissing and crackling of the green wood; and by-and-by there remained
no more of what had been Michael Servetus but a charred and blackened
trunk and a handful of ashes. So died, in advance of his age, one of
the gifted sons of God, the victim of religious fanaticism and personal
hate.



CHAPTER XIX.

AFTER THE BATTLE--VÆ VICTORIBUS!


Even before the trial of Servetus had come to an end we have seen it
attracting the attention of some of the freer minds of Geneva--such as
were not over-awed by the dominant spirit of Calvin or not absorbed
in the political strife of the hour. A criminal suit on the ground
of a new interpretation of Scripture, as it had been made in fine so
clearly to appear, struck reasonable men not only as illogical but as
indefensible in a city whose autonomy and entire religious system were
founded on a right of the kind assumed by itself. Calvin’s dictum, that
Servetus’s purpose was the overthrow of all religion, was not seen to
be borne out by the facts of the case when calmly considered, and, to
the popular apprehension, was wholly belied by the pious bearing of the
man in the last hours of his life. Even Farel, misled as he was by his
fanaticism, could not help saying to the people, that ‘after all the
man may have meant well.’

The protracted trial at an end, the sacrifice made, the Councillors of
Geneva seem immediately to have come to their senses, and discovered
that they had transgressed the true limits of their authority in
condemning to death one who owed them no allegiance, who had been
guilty of no crime or misdemeanour whether within the bounds of their
jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whose heresies implied no rejection of
the Scriptures as the Word of God, or of the teaching of Christ and
his Apostles as the means of salvation. Servetus’s heresy amounted
to no more than repudiation of what he maintained to be erroneous
interpretations of the language of the Gospels, of metaphysical
assumptions from heathen philosophies, and mystical procedures
unwarranted by a line whether of the Old or the New Testament. They
overlooked the fact that the presence of the man among them was due to
flight from the fate that waited on all who had the courage of their
opinions amid the blood-stained intolerance of Roman Catholicism;
that he was only another among the host of refugees--their spiritual
Dictator himself not excepted--who now crowded the streets of Geneva;
and that, but for the hostile interference of Calvin, he, like so many
more, would have been welcomed as ‘a bird escaped from the net of the
fowler;’ sheltered had he elected to remain, furthered on his way had
he chosen to depart.

That thoughts of the kind had taken possession of the Council is
proclaimed by the fact of their quashing the indictment preferred by
Farel and the Consistory against Geroult, Arnoullet’s foreman, three
days after the death of Servetus, on the score of the part he had
had in printing the ‘Restitutio Christianismi,’ and concealing the
character of its contents from his master. Farel and the clergy in
their blind zeal would have persevered in their efforts to have another
victim. But the civilians interposed. Enough--more than enough had
already been done to satisfy the outer world that the Genevese, if
reputed heretics themselves, were no favourers of heresy of another
complexion than their own. Left to calm reflection, the Council may
well have come to see that they had only lent themselves to theological
intolerance, when they imagined they were fulfilling an important part
of their magisterial duties.

The entire ground, indeed, on which the trial had been instituted
would not bear close scrutiny. The book, on the presumed publication
and dissemination of which it had been set on foot, had not yet been
seen in Geneva save by Calvin: there was not then another copy in the
city but the one sent, as I believe, by its hapless author through
Frelon to the Reformer. Neither had the ostensible institutor of
the suit, Nicolas de la Fontaine, the shadow of a grievance against
Michael Servetus, the writer of the book. He could never have seen it
out of Calvin’s hands, he was almost certainly unacquainted with the
language in which it was written, and, if he were not, he could still
never have read a word of it but at Calvin’s prompting--he had not, in
all probability, even heard the name of Servetus until he had it from
the mouth of his master! De la Fontaine, moreover, was no citizen of
Geneva any more than Calvin himself[100]--neither of them could have
had a legal title to prefer a criminal charge; master and man were
aliens alike, and in Geneva on the same plea as Servetus; they fleeing
for their lives from the Inquisitors and agents of the concubine of
Henry of France, he from the Inquisitor and Church authorities of
Dauphiny.

More than this. ‘He,’ it is said, ‘who casts the first stone should be
himself without sin.’ Calvin pursued Servetus to death mainly on the
ground of his divergent interpretation of the Trinitarian mystery. But
was Calvin himself quite sound on this head, and was he equally hostile
to all who called the dogma in question? We have had him saying that he
only objected to speak of God and Nature as signifying the same thing,
because of the harshness or impropriety of the expression. But he who
so delivers himself identifies God and the Universe, and excludes ideas
of personality and subdivision in the essence of the Deity. No wonder,
therefore, that Calvin was oftener than once charged with unorthodoxy
from the Catholic point of view on the subject of the Trinity. In the
Confession of Faith which he formulated for the Church of Geneva in
the year 1536, it is certain that neither the word Trinity nor the
word Person is to be found;[101] and when challenged at a later period
by Caroli, the colleague of Viret at Lausanne, on the matter, he did
not so express himself as to satisfy his accuser. In a remarkable
note, moreover, ‘On the word Trinity and the word Persons,’ written
apparently to meet the surmises suggested by the absence of the sacred
vocables from the Confession, Calvin says:

    ‘Inasmuch as these words, ‘Trinity’ and ‘Persons,’ are found
    by us to be very serviceable in the Church of Christ, as by
    them the true distinction of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    is more clearly expressed, and controversial discussions are
    better served by their means, we say that we have no such
    objection to them as forbids us to receive them from others or
    to make use of them ourselves. Therefore, do we again declare,
    as we have formerly declared, that we accept the words,
    and would not that they ceased to be used in the Churches.
    For neither in our expositions of the Scriptures or when
    preaching to the people do we shun them; and we have instructed
    others [in private]--_docebimus alios_, that they should not
    superstitiously avoid them. Did anyone, however, from religious
    scruples, feel indisposed to make use of the words--although
    we avow that such superstition is not approved by us, and we
    shall continue striving to correct it--still, this seems no
    sufficient reason why a man, otherwise pious and having like
    religious views as ourselves, should be rejected. His want of
    better knowledge in this direction ought not to carry us the
    length of casting him out of the Church, or lead us to conclude
    that he was therefore altogether unsound in the faith. Neither,
    meantime, are we to think evilly of the Pastors of the Church
    of Berne, if they refuse to admit anyone to the ministry who
    declines to use the words.’[102]

We leave the reader to draw his own conclusions from this, and only ask
him to say, on its showing, what excuse can be found for Calvin’s deed
in burning Servetus? Scattered throughout the writings of the Genevese
Reformer we encounter many expressions which prove plainly enough how
much against the grain he finally confessed partition in the unity of
God. ‘The first principle to be acknowledged in the Scriptures,’ he
says, ‘is the Being of One God; but as the same Scriptures speak of
a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost, what have we for it--_quid aliud
restat_--but to own three Persons in the Godhead? These, however,’ he
proceeds in the usual orthodox fashion to say, and in contradiction to
the words first made use of, ‘imply no plurality of persons, neither do
they destroy the essential unity of God; for where were Quaternity to
be found does the one God comprise in himself three properties--_ubi
autem quaternitas reperitur si unus Deus tres in se proprietates
contineat_?’[104] Where, indeed! But the question is of _persons_ not
of properties; as in the affair with Caroli it was of an Eternal Son
not of an Eternal Word.

In another place we find him using such language as this: ‘The words of
the Council of Nicæa are these: God of God--a hard expression I admit,
for the removal of the ambiguity of which no better interpreter can
be found than Athanasius, who indited it--_Deum a Deo--dura loquutio
fateor, sed ad cujus tollendam ambiguitatem nemo potest esse magis
idoneus interpres quam Athanasius qui eam dictavit_.’

Elsewhere, though we have omitted to note the place, he declares that
the Athanasian symbol was never approved by any of the legitimate [i.e.
Protestant] Churches--_cujus symbolum nulla unquam legitima ecclesia
approbâsset_.’[105] Such writing is surely very noteworthy. Calvin’s
acknowledgment of a Trinity is neither of his understanding nor his
faith; it is enforced merely and obviously in opposition to the reason
he had from God for his guidance. But Michael Servetus, whom he sent
to a fiery death, not only does not deny, but expressly, and oftener
than once, avows that he acknowledges a Trinity in the Essence of God.
He, too, found the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the Scriptures;
and, as little disposed as Calvin to gainsay a word they contain, he
actually uses language the simple sense of which is that precisely
under which Calvin seeks to shield himself; only he employs the word
_dispositions_ instead of _properties_. Calvin, when he attempts to
reconcile the idea of a Trinity of persons co-existing with an unity
of Being, and does not use language that contradicts itself, speaks no
otherwise than Servetus, and arrives in fine at the same interpretation
of the Trinitarian Dogma: the _persons_ are _dispositions_ to the one,
_properties_ to the other!

After the most careful study of the writings of Servetus we have been
able to bestow, we have it forced upon us that had Calvin been so
minded he could from them, more readily, and far more consistently,
have defended their author as a sincerely pious, though in his opinion,
a much mistaken man in his interpretation of Christian doctrine,
than prosecuted him as the enemy of all religion, a monster, as he
says, made up of mere impieties and horrible blasphemies! But to
the intolerant bigot, engrossed by his own conceits and dislikes,
all Servetus’s confiding piety was hypocrisy, his touching prayers
mockery, and his eloquence as becoming in him as a coat of mail to a
hog--‘_qu’une jaserame un Truie_’(!)

Nor can Calvin have credit given him for religious zeal, as the
principal, still less as the sole ground for his prosecution of
Servetus. He would condone the Church of Berne for repudiating him who
denied the Trinitarian mystery, but could not forgive the Spaniard’s
intemperate and disrespectful style of address to himself. In this lay
the prime cause of offence to the man, accustomed to have all the world
bowing down before him, who was always addressed as ‘_Monsieur_,’ not
as ‘_Maître_,’ like the rest of the clergy, and whose appointments,
however modest in our eyes, equalled those of a dignitary of the Church
in neighbouring lands. One of Nicolas de la Fontaine’s counts against
the man he did not even know, but whom he arraigned for life or death,
is the objectionable language indulged in towards his pastor; and we
have Calvin’s own words against himself when he says that Servetus’s
‘arrogance, not less than his impiety, led to his destruction;’ whilst
he elsewhere owns, that ‘had Servetus but been possessed of even a show
of modesty he would not have pursued him so determinedly on the capital
charge.’

By way of conclusion here, let us observe that Calvin’s fundamental
principle of Election by the Grace of God ought to have stayed his hand
from all persecution on religious grounds. He is constantly spoken of
as a man possessed of a peculiarly logical mind. But if it be by the
eternal decrees of God that some are ordained to salvation and some to
perdition, how should Servetus or anyone else come between God and his
purposes? How should the Elect be prejudiced, or the Reprobate made
worse by the act of man?



CHAPTER XX.

CALVIN DEFENDS HIMSELF.


Dissatisfaction with what had been done appears to have become general
immediately after the execution of Servetus. It extended beyond the
walls of the Council chamber and found wider expression than in the
arrest of proceedings against Geroult. Ballads and pasquinades, little
complimentary to Calvin and his party, circulated freely, and were all
the more persistently spread in private if none dared to utter them in
public or sing them in the streets. Calvin himself acknowledges that
fear alone of consequences repressed for a time any open expression
of abhorrence for the death of Servetus. Certain it is, that before
the year was out, save among friends and obsequious followers, the act
in which he had taken the prominent part came to be so unfavourably
construed that he felt forced to appear as his own apologist, and in
justification of his deed to proclaim his victim not only a heretic
because of theological dissidence, with which the people of Geneva were
familiar enough and not always greatly scandalised, but to hold him up
as wholly without religious convictions himself, the open enemy of all
religion in others, the conspirator against the moral well-being of the
world, and the conscience-stricken craven in face of his impending fate!

To this task Calvin would seem to have been more especially incited
by Bullinger, who loses no opportunity of showing himself hostile to
Servetus; and even thinks that ‘were Satan to come back from hell and
take to preaching for pastime, he would make use of much the same
language as Servetus the Spaniard.’[106] Writing to Calvin at this
time, and thinking doubtless of the growing unpopularity of his friend,
Bullinger says: ‘See to it, dear Calvin, that you give a good account
of Servetus and his end, so that all may have the beast in horror--_ut
omnes abhorreant a bestia_!’ To which Calvin replies: ‘If I have but a
little leisure I shall show what a monster he was.’[107]

Such were the inducements Calvin had for entering on the apologetic
defence of himself through denouncing the errors, impugning the
motives, and blackening the fame of Servetus to which he now applied
himself and had ready for publication both in French and Latin
early in the year 1554, the title of the French book in brief being
‘_Déclaration pour maintenir la vraye Foy_;’ that of the Latin,
‘_Defensio Orthodoxæ Fidei de sacra Trinitate contra errores Michaelis
Serveti, &c._’[108]

In his introduction Calvin informs the reader that he had ‘not at first
thought it necessary to come forward with any formal refutation of the
errors of Servetus,’ the ponderous absurdity of his ravings appearing
so plainly that he imagined it would be like winnowing the wind to do
so, for there was really no danger of anyone of sound mind and ordinary
understanding not being found superior to such follies. ‘But better
informed, knowing the poison to be deadly in its kind, and having
regard to the amount of stupidity and confusion which God, to avenge
Himself, inflicts on all who despise his doctrine, I have felt myself
compelled as it were to take up the pen, and in exposing the errors of
the man to furnish grounds for better conclusions. When Servetus and
his like, indeed, presume to meddle with the mysteries of religion, it
is as if swine came thrusting their snouts into a treasury of sacred
things. May God pay all with the wages they deserve whose vicious
proclivities lead them to burn after one novelty or another, which
they can no more resist than can the man from scratching who has the
itch!--_pas plus que celui qui a la ratelle qui démange_.’

‘The punishment that befel Servetus,’ he continues, ‘is always ascribed
to me. I am called a master in cruelty, and shall now be said to mangle
with my pen the dead body of the man who came to his death at my hands.
And I will not deny that it was at my instance he was arrested, that
the prosecutor was set on by me, or that it was by me that the articles
of inculpation were drawn up. But all the world knows that since he was
convicted of his heresies I never moved to have him punished by death.
There needs no more than simple denial from me to rebut the calumnies
of the malevolent, the brainless, the frivolous, the fools, or the
dissolute.’

There is much in what precedes to challenge comment, and the language,
self-condemnatory of the writer in one respect, if not purposely meant
to mislead, is yet greatly calculated to do so in another. If Servetus’
teaching was such ponderous folly that it could by no possibility have
any influence in the world, why did Calvin proceed against him from
the first on the capital charge? It is God, too, who inflicts such
stupidity on mankind as makes the intervention of John Calvin necessary
to set things right; and the denial and vituperative epithets at the
end of the paragraph last quoted do not cover an obvious intention on
his part to have the reader conclude that he had had nothing to do
with the doom which befel the Spaniard. But Calvin knew that by the
law of Geneva the convicted heretic must die; and he had written to
his friend Farel on August 20, within a week of the arrest, that he
hoped the sentence _would be capital at the least_--_spero capitale
saltem judicium fore_. All the favour Calvin ever asked for Servetus
was that he might die by the sword instead of by brimstone and slow
fire. He does not say so much indeed, but it almost looks as if he
would have the world believe that he had moved to save the man’s life!
We have his own acknowledgment, however, of the active part he took in
the prosecution of Servetus at Geneva, and his expressed hope of what
the sentence should be. This much he could not deny; the facts of the
case put it out of his power. But he always shirked complicity with
all that happened at Vienne. There there was underhand dealing and
betrayal of trust, and he would fain have the world believe that he had
had nothing to do with the ugly business. But here, too, everything we
know, is against him, and all he says by way of freeing himself from
the charge of having denounced Servetus to the authorities of Lyons
seems but to strengthen the conclusion that he did. Calvin was an able
man undoubtedly, but he was not a cunning man, and often lets his pen
give expression to thoughts of things gone by, which he would not have
suffered to appear had he been more artful.

    In one of his epistles he says, ‘Nothing less is said of me
    than that I might as well have thrown Servetus amid a pack
    of wild beasts as into the hands of the professed enemies
    of the Church of Christ; for I have the credit given me of
    having caused him to be arrested at Vienne. But why such sudden
    familiarity between me and the satellites of the Pope? Is it
    to be believed that confidential letters could have passed
    between parties who had as little in common as Christ and
    Belial? Yet why many words to refute that which simple denial
    from me suffices to answer! Four years have now passed since
    Servetus himself spread this report. I only ask why, if he had
    been denounced by me, as said, he was thereafter suffered to
    remain unmolested for the space of three whole years? It must
    either be allowed that the crime I am charged withal is a pure
    invention, or that my denunciation did him no harm with the
    Papists.’

True, and answers to all he says are not far to seek. Why the
familiarity with the satellites of the Pope? That he might be avenged
through them on one whom he regarded at once as a dangerous heretic
and a personal enemy. How should confidential letters have passed
between parties who had so little in common as himself and the Roman
Catholics of Lyons? Because he would have had them the instruments of
his vengeance. If denounced by him, as said, how did Servetus remain
unmolested for three whole years? Because denunciation for heresy of
one who lived in good repute with his friends as a true son of the
Church, by another standing in the very foremost ranks of heresy, was
taken no notice of by Cardinal Tournon and his advisers.--All that
Calvin says now seems but to demonstrate the truth of what we have from
Bolsec, and may possibly have been the ground of the warning against
the over free expression of his opinions which Servetus is said to have
received long before the _denouement_ that followed the printing of the
‘Christianismi Restitutio.’ Calvin continues:

    ‘Would that the errors of Servetus might have been buried with
    him; but as his ashes continue to spread a pestiferous stench I
    go on to expose his heresies, a task delayed till now through
    no fear of measuring myself with one like him, for I have coped
    with adversaries much more redoubtable than he, but because I
    had other work in hand of more importance as I believed. He,
    however, who contends that it is unjust to punish heretics and
    blasphemers, I say, becomes their deliberate associate. You
    tell me of the authority of man; but we have the word of God
    and his eternal laws for the government of his Church. Not in
    vain has He commanded us to suppress every human affection for
    the sake of religion. And wherefore such severity, if it be
    not for this, that we are to prefer God’s honour to mere human
    reason.’

But the St. Bartholomew and all the nameless horrors that have been
perpetrated in the name of religion and to uphold what is called the
honour of God, are the logical outcome of principles that lead to
such language. Calvin’s treatment of Servetus was in truth nothing
less than a direct encouragement to the Roman Catholics of France to
persevere in their atrocities towards the Protestants. Geneva, which
had been looked on as the bulwark of independent thought and of freedom
to worship God according to conscience came to be regarded as the
seat of another Inquisition. All and sundry who pretended to think
for themselves, and who did not include Election and Predestination
in their creed, must be silent. Did they speak or say a word against
the rules and regulations of the modern propounder of the doctrine of
God’s partiality, they were mercilessly hunted down, fined, imprisoned,
scourged on the back, branded on the cheek, banished from their homes,
or, as in the case of Servetus, put to death; even as the moving cause
of all these atrocities would himself have been dealt with in France
had he there avowed what were there styled the heretical opinions
he entertained--the damnable doctrines he taught. Persecution which
follows necessarily from the principles on which the Church of Rome is
founded, could not be entered on by the Reformed Churches without a
total abnegation of those to which they owe their existence.[109]

But it is not with Servetus’s doctrines alone that Calvin occupies
himself in his ‘Declaration’ and ‘Defence.’ He must further darken
the fame of the man whom he slew, for the consistency and fortitude
he displayed when confronted with death, as we have seen him
essaying to detract from the purity and probity of his life on his
trial. ‘Servetus,’ says Calvin, ‘was only bold when he had no fear
of punishment before him; but so overwhelmed was he in face of his
impending fate, that he was lost to all and everything about him.
Praying with the people he had said were Godless, he yet prayed as
if he had been in the midst of the Church of God, and thereby showed
that his opinions were nothing to him! Giving no sign of regret or
repentance, saying never a word in vindication of his doctrines, what,
I ask you, is to be thought of the man who, at such a time, and with
full liberty to speak, made no confession one way or another, any more
than if he had been a stock or a stone? He had no fear of having his
tongue torn out; he was not forbidden to say what he liked; and though
at last he declined to call on Jesus as the eternal Son of God (Calvin
omits to say that he called devoutly with his latest breath on Jesus
as Son of the eternal God), inasmuch as he made no declaration of his
faith, who shall say that this man died a martyr’s death?’ ‘Theological
hatred,’ says a late esteemed writer,[110] ‘never inspired words
more atrociously cruel and unjust than these of Calvin;’ and we do
not hesitate to indorse the dictum. Calvin’s challenge of Servetus’s
fortitude in the face of death is most unjust. Servetus went bravely to
his death; though to him, in the vigour of life, and possessed of all
his powers,

    With thoughts that wandered through Eternity,

life assuredly was sweet; and to lose it not only for no crime, but for
the avowal of what he believed to be holy truth, was hard indeed. To
Servetus existence was not summed up in ministering to mere material
wants and putting off and on at eve and morn; it meant _doing_ in the
knowable, _speculating_ in that which transcends the known, furthering
knowledge of the world we live in, striving after congruous conceptions
of the Almighty Cause of the good, and ministering to the ill that
befals--a truly noble life!

But Calvin could no more forgive Servetus his constancy and consistency
than he could endure his theological divergences and his personal
insults. ‘Could we but have had a retractation from Servetus as we
had from Gentilis!’ exclaims he, upon another occasion. Strange!
that men in whom the religious sense is strong should still be blind
to the truth that if there be sincerity in the world, they, too,
who feel strongly though divergently on religion, must be as truly
religious and sincere as themselves; and that convictions in the sphere
of faith--those garments of the soul--cannot be put off and on at
pleasure, like the garments of the body!

It were needless to say that Calvin’s refutation, or shall we say
_condemnation_ of Servetus, is full and complete, if it be not at all
times of the complexion which unimpassioned weighing of the argument,
considerate appreciation of the purpose, and truthful interpretation
of the language of an opponent would have secured. Both of the forms
in which the book appeared were well received by the public; the
‘_Déclaration pour Maintenir la Vraye Foy_’ having been extensively
read by those who were not masters of the Latin; the ‘_Fidelis
expositio Errorum_’ by those who were. Bullinger, it appears from
what Calvin says, must formerly have urged him on to severity; and,
as we have just seen, now shows himself anxious to have his friend
appear in defence of what had been done. Writing immediately after the
publication of the book, he congratulates the writer on his work; the
only fault he has to find with it being the terseness of the style,
which leads at times to obscurity, and its brevity. Calvin, in reply,
excuses himself for the conciseness of his language and the modest
length of his work. But his letter, in so far as it relates to our
subject, is too important not to have a place in our narrative.

    Your last letter, Calvin says, was duly delivered by our
    excellent brother Tho. Jonerus. I was from home at the time,
    so that I could not show him the hospitality he deserved, but
    it so fell out that the Lord in my absence provided for him
    in a way that could not have been bettered.... I have always
    feared that in my book my conciseness may have occasioned some
    obscurity; but I could not well guard against it. I may say,
    indeed, that with the end I had in view other motives led me to
    the brevity you speak of. In writing at all it was not only my
    principal but my sole object to expose the detestable errors of
    Servetus. It seemed to me that the subjects handled were best
    discussed in the plainest terms, and that the impious errors
    of the man should not be overlaid by any lengthy or ornate
    writing of mine. I, therefore, say nothing more of the severity
    of the style on which you animadvert. I have, indeed, taken
    every possible pains to show the common reader how without much
    trouble the thorny subtleties of Servetus may be exposed and
    refuted. I am not blind to the fact, however, that though I am
    wont to be concise in my writings I have felt myself more bound
    to brevity here than usual. But so it be only allowed that the
    sound doctrine has been defended by me in sincerity of faith
    and with understanding, this is of far more moment than any
    regrets I may feel for having been forced on the task. You,
    however, for the love you bear me, and led by the candour and
    equity of your nature, will judge me favourably in what I have
    done. Others may construe me more harshly; say I am a master
    in severity and cruelty, and that with my pen I lacerate the
    body of the man who came to his death through me. Some, too,
    there are, not otherwise evilly disposed, who say that the
    world is silent as to what was done, and that no attempt is
    made to refute my argument on the punishment of heresy, through
    fear of my displeasure. But it is well that I have you for the
    associate of my fault, if, indeed, there be any fault; for you
    were my authority and instigator. Look to it, therefore, that
    you gird yourself for the fight....

    JO. CALVIN.

    Geneva, November 3, 1554.

This interesting letter[111] seems to show that Calvin had already
conceived misgivings of his conduct in the affair of Servetus. When
John Calvin condescends to seek support beyond himself, and to charge a
friend with having egged him on to the deed whose memory seems now to
rankle in his mind, he must have felt less sure than was his wont that
all he did was well done

                    This even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice
    To our own lips; (and tells us) we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague the inventor.

Self-reliant as he was, and ready else to take on himself the
responsibility of his acts, we yet see that he, the strong man among
the strong, now felt the want not only of sympathy and approval, but
of some one to share the ‘fault, if fault there were,’ in a relentless
pursuit and terrible deed. When he would thus associate Bullinger with
himself in his pitiless persecution of the ill-starred Servetus, Calvin
must refer to the letter he had had from the Zürich pastor of September
14, as well as to the one in which the reply of the Church of Zürich
to the Council of Geneva is couched--reply of which there need be no
question Bullinger was the writer. Of all the ministers of the Swiss
Churches Calvin, we believe, had the highest respect for Bullinger,
who, as he did not always truckle to him, fell out of favour at times,
but only to come back anon with heartier consideration than before.

Melanchthon, too, whom we have found taking more notice of the work
on Trinitarian Error than any of the other Reformers, would seem to
have gone on to the end of his life increasing in hostility to its
author. He, indeed, shows little of the mildness with which he is
commonly credited whenever in later years the name of Servetus meets
him. Writing to Calvin in October 1554, a year consequently after the
death of Servetus, and when he had probably read the ‘Apologia de
Mysterio Trinitatis,’ addressed to him, and printed at the end of the
‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ Melanchthon congratulates the Reformer ‘for
all he had done in bringing so dangerous a heretic to justice.’ ‘I have
read your able refutation of the horrible blasphemies of the Spaniard;
and for the conclusion attained give thanks to the Son of God who was
umpire in your contest. The Church, too, both of the day and of the
future, owes you thanks, and will surely prove itself grateful.’[112]

Calvin’s more intimate friends and partisans, with few exceptions,
approved of his zeal in vindicating the honour of God, as they said,
and treading out, as they imagined, the threatening spark of heresy
kindled by Servetus. Later admirers and adherents, again, unable to
condone his deed, attempt to find, and flatter themselves that they do
find, excuse for him in the ruder and sterner temper of the times in
which he lived. But we own, regretfully, that with all we know, we
cannot follow them in this. Calvin was not only a man of the highest
intelligence, he was also possessed of a carefully cultivated mind. An
admirable scholar, deeply read in the humanities, and familiar with
history, he had in earlier life, and in face of the persecution for
conscience’ sake beginning under Francis I., manfully raised his voice
for toleration. He had even gone out of his way, as we have seen, and
spent his money in republishing Seneca’s ‘Treatise on Clemency,’ with
added comments of his own, by way of warning, beyond question, to his
sovereign against the fatal course on which he saw him entering.

Addressing another among the monarchs of the earth in a later
work,[113] he says: ‘Wisdom is driven from among us, and the holy
harmony of Christ’s kingdom, that makes lambs of wolves and turns
spears into pruning-hooks, is compromised when violence is impressed
into the service of religion.’ And yet again we have him using words
like these: ‘Although we are not to be on familiar terms with persons
excommunicated by the Church for infractions of discipline, we are
still to strive by clemency and our prayers to bring them into accord
with its teaching. Nor, indeed, are such as these only to be so
entreated; but Turks, Saracens, and others, positive enemies of the
true religion, also. Drowning, beheading, and burning are far from
being the proper means of bringing them and their like to proper
views.’[114]

Calvin had, therefore, got beyond his age and its spirit of
intolerance; and, having turned his back on the Church of Rome, no
shelter can be found for him in an appeal to its sanguinary principles
and practice. Calvin, in a word, is inexcusable for refusing to
Servetus the liberty he arrogated for himself, and for turning the city
that sheltered him into a shambles for the man of whom religiousness
alone had made an enemy, and persecution had driven into his power.

Servetus, however, it is said, was a heretic, a blasphemer. But what
was Calvin in the eyes of those he had forsaken? The most egregious
of heretics, whose teaching had led thousands from the faith of
their fathers, and imperilled their salvation; a traitor, too, whose
independent principles turned subjects into rebels, and tended to make
despotic rule by Priest and King impossible. And this is true; for we
are not to overlook the fact that it is to Calvin, with however little
purpose on his part, that we mainly owe the large amount of civil and
religious liberty we now enjoy.

Of Calvin, more truly perhaps than of any man that ever lived, may the
dictum of the poet, where he says:

    The evil that men do lives after them,
    The good is oft interred with their bones,

be held to be reversed. In Calvin’s case it was the ill he did that
died, the good that lived. With no respect for civil liberty himself,
and still less for religious liberty beyond the pale of his own narrow
confession of faith, Calvin must nevertheless be thought of as the
real herald of modern freedom. Holding ignorance to be incompatible
with the existence of a people at once religious and free, Calvin
had the school-house built beside the church, and brought education
within the reach of all. Nor did he overlook the higher culture. He
restored the College of Geneva, founded half a century before by a
pious and liberal citizen, but utterly neglected in Roman Catholic
times; and as a complement to the University he founded the Academy.
Forbidden to set foot on the land of his birth, he was nevertheless
the genius of its religious growth, and in company with this, of its
aspirations after freedom. But for the fickleness and falseness of its
princes, France might have had reformed Christianity for her faith;
and with the intelligence, morality, and true piety of her Huguenot
sons in possession of their homes, might possibly have been spared her
Grand Monarques and despotism, her Revolutions, her Buonapartes, and
her wars that have drenched the soil of Europe in blood ever since
Henry of Navarre proved untrue to himself and Liberty. But Scottish
Presbyterianism and English Puritanism and Nonconformity in its
multifarious, sturdy, self-sufficing forms, and 1688, were each and
all the legitimate outcome of a system which told the world that there
was no such thing in the law of God as divine right to govern wrongly;
and in asserting free-thought for itself in matters of opinion, by
indefeasible logic gave a title to all to think freely.

There can be little question, in fact, that Calvinism, or some
modification of its essential principles, is the form of religious
faith that has been professed in the modern world by the most
intelligent, moral, industrious, and freest of mankind. If Calvinism,
however, tend to make men more manly and more fit for freedom, it has
also a certain hardening influence on the heart, disposing to severity.
Yet has not even this been without its compensating good; for when
Calvin--impersonation of relentless rigour--sent the pious Servetus
to the flames, it may be said that the knell of intolerance began to
toll. Persistence in consigning dissidents from the religious dogmas
of the day to death was made henceforth impossible, and persecution on
religious grounds to any minor issue has come by degrees to be seen
not only as indefensible in principle, but immoral in fact; for it
strikes at the root of the very noblest elements in the constitution of
humanity--Conscience and Loyalty to Truth.

But Calvinism has had its day. The free inquiry of which it sprang has
slowly, yet surely, carried all save its wilfully blind or ignorant
adherents beyond the pale of their old beliefs. More than a century
ago the Church of Geneva broke not only with its Confession of Faith
as formulated by its founder, but with confessions of faith of every
complexion; so that one of its leaders, on occasion of the late
tercentenary commemoration of the death of the Reformer, could say:
_Nous ne sommes plus Calvinistes selon Calvin_. Nor has the defection
of the Swiss been singular; they have been followed more or less
closely by the Dutch, the Germans, the more advanced of the Protestant
Church of France, and finally and at length by the Scotch. In the land
of Knox, the very stronghold of Judaic Christianity as defined by
Calvin and his great disciple, open rebellion has broken out against
the narrowness of the Creed and Catechism of the Westminster Assembly
of Divines so obsequiously followed until now; prelude, doubtless, to
further disruption and greater change than have yet been seen; for
modern criticism and exegesis, and ever advancing science, proclaim
arrest at any grade in the Religious Idea yet attained by the Churches
to be impossible.



CHAPTER XXI.

CALVIN’S DEFENCE IS ATTACKED.


Even whilst the trial was proceeding, we have seen that Calvin was not
without opposition in his pursuit of Servetus. Amied Perrin, his great
political rival, had striven for mercy or a minor punishment to the
last; and he was not without followers in the Council. But they were
outnumbered and out-voted there, so that the light of the ‘blessed
quality that is not strained’ was quenched. Outside the circle of
the governing body also, more than one voice was raised against the
manifest aim of Calvin to have his theological opponent capitally
convicted. But it was by persons of inferior note. David Bruck, among
others, a man of talent and quondam minister of a congregation of
Anabaptists in the North, now living privately and respected under the
name of David Joris at Berne, went so far as to speak of Servetus as a
pious man, and to declare that if all who differed from others in their
religious views were to be put to death, the world would be turned into
one sea of blood.[115]

But the writer who received most notice from Calvin and his friends
was he who appeared under the assumed name of Martin Bellius. Taking
as his text the 29th verse of the 4th chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the
Galatians: ‘As then he that was born of the flesh persecuted him that
was born of the Spirit, even so is it now,’ Bell proceeded to show that
persecution to death on religious grounds, though it might be Judaism
was not Christianity, and that many learned men and eminent doctors
of the Church, both of older and more modern times, had been emphatic
in condemnation of all intolerance in the sphere of religion. Bell’s
book, small in bulk but weighty in argument, was felt as a home-thrust
by the Reformer of Geneva, his own words in favour of toleration among
others being quoted against him. It is often spoken of at the time as
the Farrago--Calvin himself so designates it when sending a copy of it
to his friend Bullinger. But neither Calvin nor his friends liked the
book; and it is in depreciation of its real significance that it is
spoken of as a medley.[116]

Premising an Introduction, addressed to Frederick, the reigning Duke of
Würtemberg, in which the writer sets forth his own views, he asks the
Duke whether he should think a subject of his deserving of death who,
avowing belief in God and his earnest desire to live in conformity with
the precepts of Scripture, should say that he did not think baptism
was properly performed on an infant eight days old; but was of opinion
that the rite should be deferred until years of discretion had been
attained and the recipient could give a reason for the faith that was
in him? Did the subject think further that if he were required by law
to baptize infants he was running counter to Christ’s ordinance, and
felt that he was doing violence to his conscience, Bell asks the Duke
again, ‘Did he think, if Christ were present as Judge, that He would
order the man who so delivered himself to be put to death?’ Replying to
his question himself, he says: ‘I venture to believe that He would not.’

Our author then proceeds to quote from the works of many writers,
who maintain that the punishment of heretics is no part of the civil
magistrate’s duty; from Erasmus, who declares that God, the Great
Father of the human family, will not have heretics, even hæresiarchs,
put to death, but tolerated in view of their possible amendment. ‘When
I think how reprehensible are heresy and schism,’ says the great
scholar, ‘I am scarce disposed to condemn the laws against them; but
when I call to mind the gentleness wherewith Christ led his disciples,
I shrink from the instances I see of men sent to prison and the stake
on the ground of their disagreement with scholastic dogmas.’ From Aug.
Eleutherius, who opines that ‘they are not always truly heretics
whom the vulgar so designate.’ From Lactantius, who says ‘Force and
violence are out of place in matters of faith; for religion cannot be
forced on mankind; words not stripes are here the proper instruments
of persuasion.’ From Augustin, who goes so far as to say that ‘for
the sake of peace even dogs are to be tolerated in the Church. The
Catholic servants of God are not to stain themselves with the blood of
their enemies, but to be examples of patience and forbearance. It is no
business of theirs to gather the tares for burning before the harvest
is ready; they who err are men, and it is man’s part to bear with the
erring; the tares do no real harm to the wheat; and if the erring be
not cured here, they do not escape punishment hereafter.’

There is much besides from others, which we spare the reader; but we
have to show that clemency for theological divergence was no novelty
in the age of Calvin; and no one will imagine for a moment that he had
forgotten what he had written himself, or was ignorant of a word that
had ever been said on the subject by others.

Martin Bell’s tractate was so eagerly seized upon by the public, and
proved so influential in turning the tide of self-gratulation on which
Calvin had been floating somewhat at his ease since the appearance
of his ‘Declaration’ and ‘Defence,’ that it was thought necessary to
find an antidote to the bane of reason and mercy, so modestly but so
convincingly presented in its pages. Calvin would probably have felt
himself constrained to take the field again, and, ‘confronting Bell
with self-comparisons,’ to answer him ‘point against point’ in person,
had he not had his friend De Beza at hand to take his place. Engaged at
the moment with his Commentary on Genesis, Calvin felt little disposed
to interrupt his work by entering anew on an old theme, though ever
ready to gird himself for the fight on one with novelty to recommend
it. The task of meeting Martin Bell he therefore delegated to De Beza,
who appeared anon in a volume three or four times the size of the
Farrago in answer to its plea for latitude in the interpretation of
the Scriptures, and against the infliction of death for the religious
divergence called heresy in any or all of the multifarious forms in
which it shows itself.

With the terrible text of the Jewish Bible, ‘If thy brother, thy son,
the wife of thy bosom, or the friend that is as thine own soul, entice
thee, saying, Let us go and serve other Gods; thou shalt not consent to
him, neither shall thine eye have pity on him, neither shalt thou spare
him, but thou shalt surely kill him, thy hand shall be first upon him
to put him to death,’ &c. (Deut. xiii. 6 and seq.), and much besides,
akin to this, assumed as the command of God, Beza had no very difficult
task before him in persuading himself and his party that they had
abidden by the Law in all that had been done; satisfied as they were
besides that those who gainsaid them were the enemies of God and man
when they presumed to defend doctrines dishonouring, it was said, to
the Supreme and destructive of the peace of the world.--God, in a word,
was with them; the Devil and corrupt humanity on the side of their
opponents, and there an end.

We do not observe, however, that Beza’s reply, though very
ably conceived, and written with the skill of the practised
controversialist, had any great influence. It was not reprinted in
a separate form, and although translated into Dutch, seems to have
been little read beyond the circle of Calvin’s friends and followers.
Short as was the time that had elapsed since Servetus perished, the
apologists of the man who sent him to his death were already in
the rear of public opinion on the subject. The jurisdiction of the
magistrate had come to be seen ever more and more clearly to lie within
the sphere of ACT, and to have nothing to do with OPINION.

A conclusion so wholesome as this was greatly strengthened by the
appearance of another book in immediate reply to Calvin’s ‘Declaration’
and ‘Defence,’ entitled: ‘Contra Libellum Calvini, &c. against Calvin’s
book, in which he strives to show that heretics are to be dealt with
capitally.’[117] This is the little work that is often referred to as
‘a Dialogue between Calvin and Vaticanus,’ ‘Dialogus inter Calvinum
et Vaticanum.’ In the Preface to the copy I have used, the work is
ascribed to Sebastian Castellio, and several short papers from this
distinguished scholar are appended to the text; but he most certainly
was not its author. An old and determined opponent of Calvin, whose
doctrine of Predestination and Election he had had the hardihood,
in a special pamphlet, to criticise and controvert, Castellio had
aroused the ire of Calvin; and it was on this ground probably that he
had the credit given him of having written the ‘Dialogus.’ Calvin’s
displeasure, we know, never meant anything less than personal hate and
persecution, so that, in his answer to what he styles the ‘calumnies’
of Castellio, after the preliminary abuse in which he calls him
‘faithless and unmannered,’ he says, ‘They who do not know thee to be
shameless and a deceiver, do not know thee aright. I should like to be
informed how thou wilt prove that I am cruel? By throwing the death of
thy master Servetus in my face, perhaps; and saying, that with my pen I
mangle the body of the man who came to his death through me; but did I
not entreat for him? His judges will bear me out in this; two of whom,
at least, were his particular patrons.’[118]

In the passage just quoted, Calvin seems to reply to what Vaticanus
has said in his introduction to the book that engages us, viz., that
Servetus was the first who had been put to death at Geneva on grounds
of religion, and that it was done at the instance and on the authority
of Calvin--‘_impulsore et authore Calvino_.’ Vaticanus continues:
‘Calvin will perhaps say, as is his wont, that I am a disciple of
Servetus. But let not this frighten anyone. I am no defender of the
doctrines of Servetus, but I shall so expose the false doctrines of
Calvin, that every one shall see as plain as noonday that he thirsted
for blood. I shall not deal with him, however, as he dealt with
Servetus, whom he proceeded to tear in pieces with his pen, after
having burned him and his books. I do not, therefore, discuss the
Trinity, Baptism, &c., seeing that I have not the books of Servetus,
whence I might learn what he says on these subjects, Calvin having
taken such pains to have them burned--_quippe combustos diligentia
Calvini_. I shall not burn the books of Calvin; their author is alive,
and his books may be had both in French and Latin, so that every
one may see whether I falsify aught he writes. But Servetus was a
blasphemer of God, says Calvin. The man himself, however, believed that
he honoured God, and persuaded himself that he glorified God in his
death. But the persuasion is false, says Calvin. Be it so; yet Servetus
himself was not false; had he been so, he would assuredly have saved
his life; he therefore died for his opinions.’

Without defending the views of Servetus we thus see Vaticanus
asserting the courage and consistency of the victim which had been
unjustly called in question by Calvin.

Coming to the burden of the book we find as many as 150 passages from
Calvin’s ‘Defensio orthodoxæ fidei’ commented and controverted, and in
addition, four from the reply of Zürich to the Council of Geneva.

By much the most complete and able of the works against Calvin and
those who would have heretics punished by being put to death, is that
of Minus Celsus of Sienna.[119] A fugitive from his native country
to escape arrest and punishment for having forsaken Popery, Minus
Celsus found safety at length after passing through many perils in
Switzerland. ‘Escaped from the hands of Antichrist, as he says, and
safe amid the Rhetian Alps,’ he was not a little scandalised to find
nothing of the unity of doctrine among the Reformed Churches he had
been led to expect before leaving his native country. ‘They held
together as one, indeed, in hate of the Pope, calling him Antichrist
and looking on the Mass as idolatry, but they differed on innumerable
other points among themselves, and not only persecuted but went the
length of putting each other to death, and this in no such primitive
way as by stoning, in old Hebrew fashion, but by roasting the living
man with a slow fire, _vivum lento igne torrendo_--punishment more
horrible than Scythian or Cannibal ever contrived.’

Celsus had heard of the execution of Servetus at Geneva, and been
assured by some who were present, persons worthy of all trust, that the
constancy of the sufferer was such that many of the spectators, finding
it impossible to imagine anything of the kind endured without the
immediate support of God, instead of feeling horror for a blasphemer
rightfully put to death, were led to look on him as a martyr to the
cause of truth, and so made shipwreck of the faith in which they had
hitherto lived.

This led Celsus to think of the treatise he had formerly written in his
native language on the proper way of dealing with heresy, and turning
it into Latin he resolved to have it printed. He did not live, however,
to carry out his purpose; his book was only published some years after
his death by a friend who gives no more than the initials of his name,
J. F. D., but adds M.D., whereby we learn that he was a physician.

‘No man,’ says Mosheim,[120] ‘can write more amiably or controvert more
gently than this Minus Celsus. He never uses a word that is either
bitter or insulting. His principal opponents are Calvin and Beza, of
course, but he does not name them specially when he controverts their
conclusions, although he proclaims his horror of all violence in
matters of faith. He does, indeed, speak of Calvin once by name, but it
is with mingled commendation and sorrow that ‘one who had deserved so
well of the Church on many counts, and who thought in earlier years
that religion was not to be furthered by severity or violence, should
have finally fallen away from his better persuasion. Why he changed, I
know not: God knows.’ Calvin did not live to see this excellent work
of the Siennese Celsus. Although written in his lifetime, the great
Reformer died twenty years before it saw the light. How it would have
affected him we can only say with our pious Celsus, God knows!



CHAPTER XXII.

CALVIN’S BIOGRAPHERS AND APOLOGISTS.


Among writers nearer our own time there are few who openly and
unreservedly uphold Calvin in his conduct to Servetus, none who now
advocate persecution unto death for divergence in religious opinion.
Even they who hold the memory of Calvin in the highest honour are
driven, as we have seen, to find excuses for him in his pursuit of the
indiscreet but pious Spaniard. We in these days do, indeed, believe
that they who should approve his deed would sin even as he did. Paul
Henry, the author of one of the latest lives we have of Calvin, and his
measureless partisan and apologist, even with the moderate acquaintance
he has with Servetus’ works, feels himself forced at times to pause in
the unmitigated condemnation of their author he is disposed to indulge
in. Like Farel, in contact with the victim, telling the people that
‘after all the man perhaps meant well;’ Henry says, that ‘from the
executed man, _der Gerichtete_, we hear certain echoes of Christianity
which sadden as they flow not from the true faith. But his pyre still
gleams portentous to the world, and even when it burned it was a
herald of the dawn of better days to come. Servetus, in his steadfast
protestation even unto death, became a true Reformer. His fate has for
ever impressed the Protestant (Henry has the Evangelical) Church with
hate of the besetting sin of the Church of Rome, the crime of dealing
with religious error by inflicting death. It has even familiarised the
world with the thought that there is a still higher development of the
religious principle in man than has yet found expression in either the
Roman or Reformed Churches, awaiting a coming time.’

This surely is noble writing. Nor does the apologist pause here, but
goes on to speak of him who to Calvin and his age was a blasphemer of
God, as being really and in truth ‘a pious man.’ ‘Were an assembly of
Deputies from every Christian Church now to meet on Champel,’ says
Henry, ‘to take into consideration all that is extant on the life
and fate of Servetus, and to review the facts in the light of the
times to which they refer, they would speak Calvin free from reproach
and pronounce him not guilty; of Servetus, on the other hand, they
would say, guilty, but with extenuating circumstances.’ We venture
to believe, and trust we have shown cause sufficient to warrant our
conclusion, that the sentence would be precisely the reverse. Calvin
would be found guilty, but with extenuating circumstances; Servetus
not guilty in all but the use of intemperate and sometimes improper
language.

Henry, to his honour, goes yet farther; he does not approve of Calvin’s
attempt to detract from the horror and pity we feel for Servetus’
fate, by charging him with cowardice in the face of death. ‘Let us
observe in Servetus,’ says the biographer of Calvin, ‘those beautiful
traces of the true life which he showed at the last: his regret for
former tergiversations, his humility, his constancy, his earnest prayer
to God, and his forgiveness of his enemies. Had he but had the truth in
his heart he would have died a true martyr; but he must tremble in his
death hour, for he had blasphemed the Majesty of God.’ But Servetus did
not tremble in his death hour, he never blasphemed the Majesty of God,
and he died in charity with all men, even with him who had brought him
to his untimely end, and who ten years after the death of his victim
had no better title for him than _Chien et meschant Garnement_,--dog
and wicked scoundrel!

Mosheim, to whom we owe the gathering and preservation of much that
is interesting in connection with Servetus, working in the middle
of the bygone century, and referring to what Calvin himself avows,
viz., ‘that he would not have persevered so resolutely on the capital
charge had Servetus been but modest and not rushed madly on his fate,’
exclaims, ‘What an avowal! Servetus, after all, must burn not because
he had outraged the word of God, and infected the world with error,
but because he had addressed John Calvin in disrespectful language!
Calvin’s avowal is truly a hard knot for those to untie who hold that
revenge had nothing to do with the death of Servetus. For my own part
I am not bound to weigh all the grounds that tell for or against the
Reformer, and I am not, perhaps, altogether impartial. I am minded,
however, that they are not wholly in the right who say that Calvin
proceeded against the unhappy Spaniard led on by hatred and revenge
alone; and I am not so certain that they are in the wrong who think it
was not mere religious zeal which suggested and carried the tragedy
to its conclusion. What is man! The very best often serve God and
themselves when they fancy they are serving God alone.’

With these words of the pious historian of the Church we conclude;
tempering the severer criticism suggested by the facts as they present
themselves, with the more charitable construction of the ecclesiastic.



APPENDIX



APPENDIX.


An account of the extant copies of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio;’
of the reprints of the work by Dr. de Murr and Dr. Mead, and of the
notices the work has received in earlier and later times.

The ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ of Michael Servetus is one of the
rarest books in the world. Of the thousand copies known to have been
printed, two only are now known to survive; one of these being among
the treasures of the National Library of Paris, the other among those
of the Imperial and Royal Library of Vienna. The history of both of
these copies, curiously enough, is complete from rather a remote date,
and it is somewhat provoking to know that both of them were once in
this country; but bigotry sent the one, and want of religious sympathy,
presumably, suffered the other to leave our shores. The Paris copy
certainly belonged to Dr. Richard Mead, the distinguished physician
and medallist, who lived in the reign of Queen Anne, and is believed,
before it came into Mead’s possession, to have formed part of the
Library of the Landgrave of Kur-Hesse. How it got dissevered from this
is not known. It was probably stolen and brought to England as to a
sure market. Mead, liberal in politics and presumably in religion
also, appears to have felt so much interest in Servetus’ work, not
only by reason of the physiological matter it contained, but because
of the free spirit of inquiry it breathed, that he was minded to have
it reprinted and made generally accessible. He had accordingly got
half-way with a new and handsome edition of the work in 4to. form, so
far back as the year 1723, when his purpose reached the ears of Gibson,
the then Bishop of London. Alarmed at the idea of light being let in on
the world that had not been strained through the haze of Episcopalian
orthodoxy, Gibson addressed himself immediately to the Censor of the
Press for an injunction; and at his instance and order the impression,
so far as it had gone, was seized, adjudged heretical, and publicly
burned. A few copies of the reprint, however, must have escaped the
conflagration, of which one is now in the Library of the London Medical
Society. This I have had an opportunity of examining, and find that
there wanted but little to have completed the most essential part of
the work, the last page printed being the first of the chapter entitled
‘De Justitia Regni Christi.’

Disgusted, we may imagine, with the bigotry of Bishop Gibson and his
abettors, and, it may be also, to secure his copy of the original
against the chance of seizure, confiscation, and the fire, Doctor Mead
exchanged it with M. de Boze, Member of the French Academy of the
Fine Arts, for a series of medals, of which the Doctor was a known
collector. The library of M. de Boze being purchased after his death
by M. Boutin, late Intendant of Finance, and the President de Cotte,
in common, the Servetus fell to the share of De Cotte, who sold it
by-and-by at an exorbitant price, as said, to M. Gaignat, who parted
with it in turn for a still larger sum--as much as 3,810 livres--to the
Duc de la Vaillière, the greatest book collector of the age. On the
death of De la Vaillière, and the dispersion of his magnificent library
under the hammer, in 1784, the ‘Rest. Christianismi,’ believed at the
time to be the only copy in existence, was secured for the sum of
4,120 livres tournois for the Bibliothèque du Roi, and it now remains
one of the treasures of the great National Library of France. Much
of the above information we gather from the letter of M. l’Abbé Rive,
Librarian to the Duc de la Vaillière, which is appended to the London
edition of Dutens’ ‘Recherches sur l’origine des Découvertes attribuées
aux Modernes,’ of the year 1766.

But this is not all, nor even the most interesting of all we know about
the Paris copy of the rare and remarkable book. It has the name of
‘Germain Colladon’ on the title-page, and the various passages on which
Servetus was finally arraigned and condemned are underscored. It can,
therefore, be no other than the copy which belonged to Colladon, the
barrister, who prosecuted Servetus at Geneva, and must have been given
him along with his brief by the attorney in the case. But the attorney
in the case of Servetus was John Calvin; and we need not, therefore,
doubt that the underlining is by ‘l’impitoyable Calvin’--the ruthless
Calvin, as M. Flourens, who gives so much of the foregoing information
as we have not supplemented, characterises the Genevese Reformer. The
book shows what M. Flourens supposed to be scorching in one part; and
this he gratuitously accounts for, by supposing that it is the copy
which was to have been burned along with its author, but was saved in
some unaccountable way. That copy, we may be well assured, was reduced
to ashes and scattered to the winds with those of its hapless writer;
and the presumed scorching, on the careful examination it received
from the Rev. Henry Tollin, turns out to be the effect of damp. See
Flourens’ ‘Histoire de la Découverte de la Circulation du Sang’ (Paris,
1854), 2nd Ed. Ib. 1857, p. 154.

The Vienna exemplar of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ again, when we
first meet with a notice of it, belonged to Markos Szent Ivanayi, a
Transylvanian gentleman, resident in London in the year 1665. Szent
Ivanayi must, we presume, have held Unitarian principles, and on his
return to his native country (in some districts of which Unitarianism
is the established or prevailing form of religion), he presented his
copy of the ‘Restitutio’ to the Congregation of Claudiopolis, with
which he was in communion; and they, at a later date, by the hands of
their superior, Stephen Agh, gave it, as the most valuable thing they
possessed, to Samuel, Count Teleki de Izek, in acknowledgment of some
act of favour from the magnate. The Count, on his part, informed of
the rarity of the book, and rightly deeming that it was a gift such as
a subject might offer to his sovereign, presented it to the Emperor
Joseph the Second of Austria, by whom it was graciously accepted and
forthwith enshrined in the great Library of Vienna. This copy of the
‘Restitutio’ is in better condition than that of Paris--‘_præstat
nitiore_,’ says Dr. de Murr, from whom we have the foregoing
information (De Murr, Chr. Th., M.D., ‘Adnotationes ad Bibliothecas
Hallerianas, cum variis ad Scripta Michaelis Serveti pertinentibus.’
4to. Erlangen. 1805).

The authorities of Roman Catholic Austria, in 1790, more liberally
disposed than those of Protestant England in the year of grace 1723,
not only gave Dr. de Murr permission to have a transcript made of the
‘Restitutio,’ but raised no objections to his having his copy printed
and published--a task which he happily accomplished in 1791, ‘when
the work appeared anew, like a Phœnix from its ashes,’ as he says.
The reprint is, indeed, an exact counterpart of the original--line
for line, page for page being followed throughout; and as the letter
and paper have also been chosen to correspond as nearly as possible
with those of the prototype, it might have been found difficult
to distinguish between the one and the other, were a third copy
of the original ever to turn up, had not Dr. de Murr put a mark
upon his edition in the date of its publication in extremely small
figures--thus, 1791, at the bottom of the last page. This, too,
is a scarce book, so we presume the edition was small.

The earliest intimation the world at large received of the existence
of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ of Servetus is to be found in Dr.
Wm. Wotton’s ‘Reflections upon Learning, Ancient and Modern’ (London,
1694); but his reference is to nothing more than the passage bearing
on the way in which the blood from the right side of the heart reaches
the left. ‘The passage,’ says Wotton, ‘was communicated to him by his
friend Mr. Charles Barnard, a very learned chirurgeon, who had had it
transcribed for him by a friend who copied it from Servetus’ book.’
Wotton, therefore, had never seen the book himself. The copy from which
the passage was transcribed, in all likelihood was the one which either
was at the time or afterwards became the property of Dr. Mead.

The next writer who refers to Servetus and his new views of the
pulmonic circulation is Dr. James Douglas, in his ‘Bibliographiæ
Anatomicæ Specimen’ (London, 1715). But neither had Douglas had an
opportunity of examining the work for himself. He does no more, in
fact, than copy the passage as given by Wotton.

The first member of the medical profession who gave any account of
Servetus’ physiological and psychological opinions from an actual
survey of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ from De Murr’s reprint,
I believe to have been the late Dr. G. Sigmond, an amiable man and
accomplished scholar, who has not been very long gone from among
us. Sigmond, however, has left us the result of his study in an
appreciative Dissertation in Latin and English; the introduction being
in our mother tongue, the text in the old language. Sigmond’s work is
entitled, ‘The Unnoticed Theories of Servetus; a Dissertation addressed
to the Medical Society of Stockholm. 8vo., London, 1826.’ To his great
honour, Dr. Sigmond is the first naturalist in these days who dared
to see Michael Servetus for what he was in truth: an accomplished and
sincerely pious man, but differing, to his sorrow, from both Catholics
and Protestants on some of the dogmatical assumptions of their common
creeds. The copy of the ‘Christianismi Restitutio’ which Dr. Sigmond
possessed, as said above, was one of Dr. de Murr’s reprints, which had
been bequeathed to him by his friend Dr. James Sims, for many years
President of the Medical Society of London, a learned man and lover of
books, who believed it to be the original--a belief not shared in by
Sigmond, however, though he seems to have known nothing of De Murr or
his edition. This copy, I think, must be the one which is now in the
Library of the British Museum, purchased in 1855, when Sigmond, having
lost the property he inherited from his father, seems to have parted
with his books, though he only died in 1873.

The question touching the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood,
which will ever make Servetus an object of interest to the medical
profession, and had been in abeyance for some considerable time past,
has been brought under renewed consideration of late, and busts and
statues of several learned and meritorious individuals have been
inaugurated to their memory as ‘discoverers of the circulation.’ In
the porch of the Instituto Antropologico of Madrid, for example, there
is a statue raised by Dr. Velasco to the memory of Michael Servetus
on this score, and we have but just heard of a bust set up at Rome to
Andrea Cæsalpino on the same ground. So distinguished a physiologist
as Dr. Valentin, moreover, has come forward as an advocate of the
claims of another and until now unheard of discoverer of ‘the great
physiological fact’ in anticipation of Harvey. In his work entitled,
‘Versuch einer physiologischen Pathologie des Herzens,’ Leipzig, 1866,
Dr. Valentin will be found saying that ‘it must now be conceded that
the pulmonary circulation was known to Servetus in 1553 [and he might
have added, to Realdus Columbus in 1559], and both this and the general
systemic circulation to Ruini, in 1598. That the pulmonic or lesser
circulation--more properly the passage or mode of transference of
the blood from the right to the left side of the heart--was known to
Servetus and to both Columbus and Cæsalpinus after him, there can be no
question; but I have assured myself, from a careful study of the works
of these distinguished individuals, that none of them, least of all
Ruini [Dell’ Anatomia del Cavallo, Bologna, 1598], was fully or truly
informed on the subject. None of them apprehended the circulation of
the blood as did Harvey, and as we his followers do in the present day.

It were out of place did I pursue this subject further now; but I
hope to take it up anon in a new ‘Life of Harvey,’ long meditated and
all but completed, in which I shall show that after all that had been
done by those who went before him, there still wanted the combining
intellect, the inductive genius of a Harvey to bring light out of
darkness, order out of confusion, and to lay the foundations, strong
and sure, of our modern physiology and rational medicine by proclaiming
the heart the moving power, and the arteries and veins the channels of
a continuous, general circulation of the blood.


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FOOTNOTES:

[1] The Reverend Henry Tollin, Pastor of the French Protestant
Church, of Magdeburg, who has made the life and works of Servetus the
particular subject of his studies for many years, inclines to Tudela as
the place, and 1511 as the year, of Servetus’s birth. See his ‘Servet’s
Kindheit und Jugend’ in Kahnis’ _Zeitschrift für die Historische
Theologie_. Jahrg. 1875, S. 545.

[2] _Vide_ Tollin: ‘Servet’s Kindheit und Jugend,’ in Kahnis’
_Zeitschrift für die Historische Theologie_, 1875, S. 557. We have,
however, searched in vain for any evidence of Angleria’s presence in
Saragossa at any time, even as a casual resident. In his comprehensive
and highly entertaining work, the ‘Opus Epistolarum,’ we find letters
of his from Valladolid, Burgos, Vittoria, Madrid, and elsewhere, but
not one from Saragossa during the years covered by Servetus’s stay at
the university, according to Tollin.

[3] Tollin (Toulouser Studenten-Leben im Anfang des 16ten
Jahrhunderts), in Riehl’s _Historisches Taschenbuch von 1874_, S. 76,
speaks as if he had been present with Servetus at Toulouse; accompanied
him over the St. Michael’s bridge that spanned the Garonne; beheld the
iron cage suspended from its balk above the river for ducking heretics
until they died; looked on at the religious processions that filed
incessantly through the streets, etc.

[4] McCrie’s _Hist. of the Reformation in Spain_.

[5] The last edition of Sabunde we have seen is neat and available,
‘curante Joachim Sighart,’ Solisbach. 1852, 8vo. It is unfortunately
without the Prologue.

[6] There is a copy of what we believe to be the second edition of
Sabunde, fol. Argentorat. 1495, in the British Museum, over which
we spent some hours with much delight. Also a copy of Montaigne’s
translation, beautifully printed, and in fine preservation.--8vo.
Paris, 1569.

[7] Tollin: ‘Die Beichtväter Kaiser Karls V.;’ in _Magazin für die
Literatur des Auslandes, April, Mai, 1874_. A series of three short
papers, but of surpassing interest, to which we are happy to refer.

[8] Robertson, _History of Charles V._, vol. ii. book v. p. 40.

[9] ‘Christianismi Restitutio,’ p. 462.

[10] Dialogi de Trinitate II., ad calcem (1532). ‘Ce n’est point par
des réticences hypocrites qu’on fait durer un jour de plus une croyance
qui a fait son temps. Toute opinion librement conçue est bonne et
morale pour celui qui l’a conçue. De toutes parts on arrive à résumer
la législation extérieure de la Religion en un seul mot: LIBERTÉ.’
Renan, ‘Fragments philosophiques,’ 1876.

[11] By Tollin, who makes him visit Luther at Coburg, in company with
Bucer. See his _Luther und Servet, eine Quellenstudie_. 8vo. Berlin,
1875.

[12] Cochlæus, _De Actis et Scriptis Martini Luther_, p. 233, fol.
Mogunt. 1549.

[13] Tollin, _Die Beichtväter Karls V._, S. 261.

[14] _Jo. Œcolampadii et Huldrici Zwinglii Epist._ Lib. iv. Basil,
1536, fol.

[15] Op. cit. ut supra.

[16] Sandius, _Bibliotheca Antitrinitariorum_, 12mo. Freistadt. 1684.

[17] Tollin in _Magazin für ausländische Literatur_, Juni 10, 1876.

[18] _Epist. Zwinglii et Œcolampadii._ Basil. 1535, fol.

[19] _Vom Ampt der Oberkait in Sachen der Religion. Ain Bericht auss
götlicher Schrüft des hailigen alten Lerers und Bischoffs Augustini,
&c._ 4to. Augsb. 1535.

[20] Luther’s Werke by Walch, vol. xxii.

[21] _Epist. Melanchthonis apud Bretschneider: Corpus Reformatorum._

[22] _Epist. Melanchthonis apud Bretschneider: Corpus Reformatorum._
Ep. ad Camerarium.

[23] Conf. H. Tollin, _Melanchthon und Servet, eine Quellenstudie_.
8vo. Berlin, 1876, pp. 9-31.

[24] Ep. ad Camerar. apud Bretschneider, ut sup.

[25] It is upon this passage, which we translate and interpret somewhat
differently from Tollin, that he grounds his statement of Servetus
having come into contact with Luther; a presumed meeting of which we
fail to find a trace in any contemporary document. See Tollin’s _Dr. M.
Luther und Dr. M. Servetus--Eine Quellenstudie_. 8vo. Berlin, 1875.

[26] _Epistolæ ab Ecclesiæ Helveticæ Reformatoribus, a Jo. Fueselino
editæ._ 8vo. Tigur., 1742.

[27] ‘E noi non cercano la Divinità fuor del Infinito Mondo e le
Infinite Cose, ma dentro questo et in quelle’ (1585). _Opere di
Giordano Bruno, da Dottore Adolpho Wagner_, i. 275. Lips. 1830.

[28]

    ‘Natur hat weder Kern noch Schale:
    Sie ist das All mit einem Male.’

    Nor core nor husk in nature see:
    The All and All in One is she.

    Im Innern ist ein Universum auch;
    Daher der Völker löblicher Gebrauch,
    Ein jeglicher das Beste das er kennet
    Er Gott--ja seinen Gott--benennet.--_Goethe._

Which may be rendered somewhat literally thus:--

    Within there is an Universum too;
    Whence the folks’ custom, good and true,
    That each the Best he knows of all,
    He God--his God, indeed--doth call.


[29] ‘Der alte und der neue Glaube.’ All Theists agree in this: that
God is One, Changeless, and Eternal. But God without the Universe would
not be the same as God with the Universe; whence the conclusion that
God and the Universe can only be conceived of as correlatives. Seeing
the impossibility of dissevering Property from the Object in which it
inheres, the modern philosopher discards hypothetical agencies, under
the name of Spirits, of every kind; from the all-pervading force that
keeps suns and planets in their spheres, to such special agencies as
those of brain and nerve. Servetus, we have seen, had himself got the
length of saying that out of man there was no Holy Spirit.

[30] To Calvin God was no other than the Immanent Pantheistic principle
of Modern Philosophy: ‘Ubique diffusus, omnia sustinet, vegetat et
vivificat in cœlo et in terra--everywhere diffused, he gives life and
growth and continuance to all things in heaven and earth.’ These are
his words. He then goes on to say: ‘Fateor quidem pie hoc posse dici,
modo a pio animo proficiscatur, _Naturam esse Deum_--I own, indeed,
that provided we speak reverently it may be said that _Nature is God_.’
As this would be a ‘hard and inappropriate expression,’ however, and
as in using it ‘God is confounded with his works,’ he thinks it is
objectionable. _Institut. Religionis Christianæ_, I. iv. 14, and I. v.
5 of an early edition.

[31] Newspaper report of a Sermon preached by Dean Stanley on Christmas
day, 1875.

[32] At the end of the copy of the ‘De Trin. Error.,’ which Alwörden
describes in his _Historia Michaelis Serveti_, now in the National
Library at Paris, there is a MS. _Refutation_ of the views of the
writer, which Tollin ascribes with great show of probability to Bucer,
who, as we know, was personally acquainted with Servetus. Of this
Refutation (Confutatio) Tollin has given an extended analysis in _Riehm
und Köstlin’s Theologische Studien und Kritiken für 1875_, S. 711.

[33] Conf. _Epist. Zwinglii et Œcolampadii_. Basil, 1592.

[34] _Dialogi de Trinitate_, 12mo. (1532), in the same form and type
as the _De Erroribus_, and still without the name of the publisher or
place of publication.

[35] Servetus’s _De Trinitatis Erroribus_ is generally believed to be
one of the rare books, yet it is commonly enough met with in England.
So long ago as the year 1725, however, a copy bound with the _Dialogi_
sold for the large sum of between four and five hundred French livres.
There is a counterfeit edition published in Holland, and only to be
distinguished from the original by the paper being somewhat better and
the type a shade larger. The Book was never, in so far as we know,
publicly condemned and burned. It was translated into Dutch (4to. 1620)
with the epigraph: Prœft alle Dingen ende behout het gœde, 1 John iv.

[36] ‘Claudii Ptolemæi Alexandrini Geographicæ Enarrationis Libri Octo;
ex Bilibaldi Pirckhemeri Tralatione, sed ad Græca et prisca exemplaria
a Michaele Villanovano jam primum recogniti. Adjecta insuper ab eodem
Scholia,’ etc. Lugduni, ex Officina Melch. et Gasp. Trechsel, 1535. Fol.

[37]

    Accipe non noti præclara volumina mundi,
      Oceani et magnas noscito lector opes.
    Plurima debetur typhis tibi gratia, gentes
      Ignotas, et aves quas vehis orbe novo;
    Magna quoque autori referenda et gratia nostro
      Qui facit hæc cunctis regna videnda locis.


[38] Tollin has collected a great deal of very interesting information
on Servetus’s geographical studies, in his paper entitled ‘Michel
Servet als Geograph,’ in the _Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für
Erdkunde_, 1875, S. 182 et seq.

[39] Quoted by Tollin in his Essays: ‘Wie Servet ein Mediciner wurde,’
in Goschen’s _Deutsche Klinik_, No. 8, 1875; and ‘Servet und Symphorien
Champier,’ in Virchow’s _Archiv für pathologische Anatomie_, Bd. 61.
Berlin, 1875.

[40] _Paradoxorum Medicinæ_, Libri iii., fol. Basil. 1535.

[41] In _Leonhardum Fuchsium Defensio Apologetica_, pro Symphoriano
Campeggio.

[42] _Disceptatio Apologetica pro Astrologia._ I have searched the
libraries of London in vain for either of these Treatises of Servetus.
That the one addressed to Fuchs once existed among us, however, is
certain; for its title is to be seen in the catalogue of Dr. Williams’s
Library (Grafton Street, University College); but unfortunately the
work is not now to be found--it had disappeared before the present
Librarian, Dr. Hunter, came into office. Mosheim went so far as to
maintain that the Defence of Champier was a myth (Versuch, &c.,
einer Ketzergeschichte, S. 72), and Dr. de Murr, though he did not
question its existence, never saw it. (_In Bibliothecas Hallerianas
additamenta_, 4to. Helmst.) The Rev. Henri Tollin of Magdeburg has been
more fortunate; for he has not only seen but actually possesses copies
of both the Apologetic defences, as well as a copy of the pamphlet
against the Parisian Doctors, if I understand him aright. In a letter
with which I was lately favoured, he informs me that he intends to
publish the more interesting passages from the Defence of Champier, and
the entire Tract on Judicial Astrology.

[43] ‘Qua in re auxiliarios habui, primum Andreum Vesalium, juvenem
Mehercule! in Anatome diligentissimum; post hunc, Michael Villanovanus
familiariter mihi in consectionibus adhibitus est, vir omni genere
literarum ornatissimus, in Galeni doctrina vix ulli secundus.
Horum duorum præsidio atque opera, tum artuum, tum aliarum partium
exteriorum, musculos omnes, venas, arterias et nervos in ipsis
corporibus examinavi studiosisque ostendi.’ _Io. Guinteri Institutionum
Anatomicarum_, Lib. iv., 4to. Basil, 1539.

[44] The reader who is curious on this matter will find what I believe
to be the first representation of the anatomist engaged in dissecting
the human body in the _Fasciculus Medicinæ of Io. à Ketham_, fol.
Venet. 1495, of which there is a copy in fine preservation in the
library of the Royal College of Surgeons.

[45] Syruporum universa Ratio ad Galeni censuram diligenter exposita;
cui, post integram de Concoctione disceptationem, præscripta est vera
purgandi methodus, cum expositione Aphorismi: Concocta medicari.

Michaele Villanovano Authore.

    Πρὸς τὸν φιλιατρον. εύροα ποιήσον τατεσώματα
    τατεπεπανων Ωμὰ Χυμων, ταυτης δογματα ἴσθι βιθλιου.

Parisiis ex officino Simonis Colinæi. [1537].

[46] _Syr. Universa Ratio_, fol. 9.

[47] Doubtless the _Disceptatio Apologetica pro Astrologia_.

[48] See Landseer’s _Sabæan Researches_, 4to. London.

[49] _Vide_ De Murr, _Annotamenta ad Bibliothecas Hallerianas_, 4to.
Helmstadt, 1805. Since this was written I have an interesting letter
from Pastor Tollin, in which he informs me that he actually possesses a
copy of the pamphlet!

[50] Bolsec, _Vie de Calvin_, 12mo. Paris, 1557.

[51] The title is the same as before. In addition to the old address to
his reader, however, Villeneuve now appends these lines:--

Ad Eundem.

    Si terras et regna hominum, si ingentia quæque
      Flumina, cœruleum si mare nôsse juvat,
    Si montes, si urbes, populos opibusque superbos,
      Huc ades, hæc oculis prospice cuncta tuis.

Which may be paraphrased thus:--

    This world and all its kingdoms wouldst thou know,
    What mighty rivers to blue oceans flow,
    What mountains rise, what cities grace the lands,
    Thick-peopled, rich through toil of busy hands,--
    --If for such lore thou hast a mind to call,
    Open this book, and there survey it all.


[52] _Vie de Calvin_, &c.

[53] This, the second edition of Villanovanus’s Ptolemy, is one of the
very rare books. All of the impression that could be discovered when
Servetus was burned in effigy at Vienne, along with his _Christianismi
Restitutio_, appears to have been seized and committed to the flames. I
find both editions in the library of the British Museum.

[54] _Habes in hoc Libro, prudens Lector, utriusque Instrumenti novam
Tralationem editam a Reverendo sacræ theologiæ Doctore Sancte Pagnini._
Lugdun. 1527-28, fol. Such is the title of this, which we presume to
be the first edition of Pagnini’s Bible. Between it and the one of
Cologne of 1541, edited by Melchior Novesianus, we find no other until
we come to that of Villanovanus. Pagnini is said in the letter of J. F.
Pico de Mirandola, which precedes the text, to have been twenty-five
years engaged on the work. It is accompanied by no fewer than two
commendatory epistles from Popes Adrian VI. and Clement VII., and is
said to be the first edition of the Bible that is found divided into
chapters. Richard Simon (_Hist. du vieux Testament_, liv. ii.) speaks
slightingly of its merits; but it has been highly prized by others, as
good judges as he. To us it appears a very admirable version, our own
English Bible being generally so like it, that we fancy it must have
been used by our Translators.

[55] Sandius, _Bibliotheca Antitrinitariorum_.

[56] _Neue Nachrichten_, etc. Helmst. 1750, 4to., S. 89-90.

[57] ‘Servetus nuper ad me scripsit, ac literas adjunxit longum volumen
suorum deliriorum, cum thrasonica jactantia, dicens me stupenda et
hactenus inaudita visurum. Si mihi placeat, huc se venturum recepit.
Sed nolo fidem meam interponere. Nam si venerit, modo valeat mea
authoritas, vivum exire nunquam patiar.’ Calvin to Farel, dated Ides
of February, 1546. From the original letter in the Paris Library; a
certified copy, published by Paul Henry in his _Leben Johann Calvins_,
3ter. Band; Beilagen, S. 65; from which the above paragraph is
transcribed.

[58] Cont. Bolsec (Hieron. Hermes), Docteur Médecin à Lyon: _Histoire
de la Vie, Mœurs, Actes, Doctrine, Constance et Mort de Jean Calvin,
Grand Ministre à Genève_. Paris 1577, 12mo. Also in Latin, but of later
date--_Vita Calvini, &c._

[59] It is a capital mistake to suppose, as Mosheim and others have
done, that the _Christianismi Restitutio_ was ever exposed for sale,
or readily to be had either at Geneva or elsewhere. It cannot be shown
that more than four or five copies at most of the book ever left the
bales in which the whole impression was packed. There was, _first_,
the copy sent, as I venture to think, by Servetus through Frelon to
Calvin, which led to the arrest and trial at Vienne. _Second_, the copy
taken from the five bales seized at Lyons for the use of the Inquisitor
Ory. _Third_, the copy transmitted for their inspection to the Swiss
Churches and Councils. _Fourth_, the copy given to Colladon by way
of Brief by Calvin, with the passages underscored, on which Servetus
was finally arraigned and condemned. And _Fifth_, the copy which we
find Calvin sending to Bullinger at his request. Of these copies one
may even have served two ends: after making the round of the Churches
and coming again into Calvin’s hands, it may very well have been that
which he despatched to Bullinger. That the book was not to be had
immediately after the execution of Servetus is proved conclusively by
what Sebastian Castellio, the accredited author of the work entitled,
_Contra Libellum Calvini_, says on the subject: _He had not been able
to obtain a sight of Servetus’s book, so as to inform himself of what
he writes, Calvin having taken such pains to have it burned--‘cum
Serveti libros, quippe combustos diligentia Calvini, non habeam, ut ex
iis possem videre quid scriberet.’_ The _Christianismi Restitutio_, in
fact, remained completely unknown in the Republic of Letters until its
existence was proclaimed by Wotton in his _Reflections on Learning,
Ancient and Modern_, in the year 1694 (all but a century and a half
after the death of its author), by the publication of the passage on
the pulmonary circulation, extracted, we must conclude, from the copy
that was then in England, and subsequently became, if it were not
already, the property of Dr. Meade--the identical copy with the name
on the title-page of Germain Colladon, the advocate who prosecuted
Servetus at the instance of Calvin, now in the national library of
Paris.

[60] The title of the original, in full, is as follows:--

_Christianismi Restitutio._ Totius Ecclesiæ Apostolicæ est ad sua
limina vocatio, in Integrum Restituta Cognitione Dei, Fidei Christi,
Justificationis nostræ, Regenerationis Baptismi, et Cœnæ Domini
Manducationis Restitutio denique nobis Regno Cœlesti, Babylonis impia
Captivitate soluta, et Antichristo cum suis penitus destructo.

     בעת ההיא יעמוד מיכאר השׂר
  καὶ ὲγένετο πόλεμος ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ.
         MDLIII.


[61] ‘Whose soever sins ye remit,’ etc., John, xx. 23--writing added to
the original text, beyond doubt, and dating from long after the time of
Jesus, when the Church had acquired a status and was looking for power.

[62] It were beyond the scope of my work to pursue this subject
further; but let me say that having compared the first edition of
the ‘Loci’ (1521) with the one of 1536 and others, of which there
are copies in the British Museum Library, I find it impossible to
overlook the influence of Servetus on Melanchthon, as of Melanchthon
on Servetus. For fuller information the reader is referred to
Tollin’s exhaustive, _Philip Melanchthon und Michael Servet, eine
Quellenstudie_. 8vo. 1876.

[63] For some account of the existing copies of the _Christianismi
Restitutio_, see the Appendix to this book.

[64] It may be well to remark on the confusion in the notice of the
_volume_ or book which in Trie’s second letter, as we read it, is
said to have been sent among other documents, twenty-four in number;
whilst in his third epistle he regrets that _the volume_ cannot be
forwarded at the moment, because of its having been lent two years ago
to a friend of Calvin, resident in Lausanne. The ‘great book’ first
sent may have been the copy of Calvin’s ‘Institutes,’ annotated on the
margins by Servetus; a conclusion that is borne out by the reference,
by and by made in the impending trial, towards the end of the first
day’s proceedings, to pages 421-424, where Baptism is the subject
treated. The volume that cannot be forwarded at the time, because it
had been lent to some one in Lausanne, is certainly the MS. copy of
the ‘Restitutio Christianismi,’ sent by Servetus to Calvin some years
before for his strictures, which he could never get returned, Calvin
having lent it to Viret of Lausanne, and grown careless to take so
much notice of the writer as would have been implied in recovering and
returning him his work.

[65] They were leaves from the _Institutions_ of Calvin, with
annotations by Servetus.

[66] Chorier, _Etat politique de Dauphiné_, tome i., p. 335, quoted by
D’Artigny.

[67] _Calvin to Farel_, Book I., p. 169.

[68]

    Who loves not woman, wine, and song,
    A fool is he his life-time long.


[69] _Lucii Annæi Senecæ De Clementia Libri Tres_, Paris, 1532.
The work was published by Calvin at his own expense, as a warning,
unquestionably against persecution on religious grounds. It is of great
rarity in its original shape, but is reprinted in the Geneva Edition of
his _Opera Minora_ of the year 1597.

_Seneca on Clemency_ is also to be found translated into English:
‘Lucius Annæus Seneca, his first Book of Clemency, written to Nero
Cæsar,’ Lond. 1553. The sentence quoted above and commented by the
French editor is rendered by the English translator briefly but not
unhappily thus:

    For it doth rather cowardice appear
    Than clemency an injury in mind to bear:
    ’Tis he in whose command revenge doth lie
    That’s merciful if he do pass it by.


[70] _Thesaur. Epist. Calvini a Cünitz et Reuss_, v. 450.

[71] _Thes. Ep. Calvini a Cünitz et Reuss_, v. 577.

[72] Conf. Mosheim, op. cit. Beylagen. S. 255.

[73] _Thes. Epist. Calvini a Cünitz et Reuss_, v. 591.

[74] _Déclaration pour maintenir la vraie foy_, p. 357, in ed. of
collected minor works in French.

[75] _Mém. de la Société d’histoire et d’Archéologie de Genève_, tom
iii., 1844.

[76] _Déclaration pour maintenir la vraie foy_; original ed., p. 354.
Let us reiterate that Servetus spoke truly when he said that the
comment on Palestine was none of his. We have already said that it is
copied without change of a word from the Ptolemy of Pirckheimer. We
add further that the scholium of the German editor was not challenged
by Erasmus, Melanchthon, or Œcolampadius, who seem all to have
corresponded with Pirckheimer on his edition. (_Vide_ Tollin, in
_Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin_. Bd. für 1875.)
It was only, therefore, when the comment came to be looked at through
the distorting medium of personal enmity that it was seen as libelling
Moses and outraging the Holy Ghost.

[77] _Déclaration pour maintenir la vraie foy._

[78] See a letter of Jo. Haller to H. Bullinger, quoted farther on.

[79] Compare Galiffe in _Mém. de l’Institut National Genevois_, 1862,
p. 75.

[80] The documents connected with the case of Bolsec must, we
apprehend, have been communicated to Servetus. He often uses the same
words as his predecessor in Calvin’s displeasure; and imitates him also
in the desire he expresses to have Calvin interrogated and put on his
trial for certain matters especially interesting to himself.

[81] There is in fact a minute in the _Records of Geneva_ of a formal
requisition made by Farel on October 30, and so three days after the
execution of Servetus, to have Wm. Geroult summoned to appear and give
an account of himself to the Council. The Lieutenant-Criminel, Tissot,
had even, as it seems, been charged with the business of making the
necessary inquiries preliminary to the institution of a criminal suit.
But we find no mention of any further step being taken in the matter.
The civil authorities, with three days for reflection, probably thought
that enough, more than enough perhaps, had already been done by the
burning of the principal offender.

[82] By the writer of the _Dialogus inter Vaticanum et Calvinum_.

[83] _Fidelis Refutatio_, and _Déclaration pour maintenir_, &c.

[84] From the _Criminal Records_, first published by Mosheim, op. cit.
Beylagen, S. 414.

[85] In the summary of the trial given by Trechsel[86] from the
archives of Berne, the articles now brought forward by Rigot, and the
questions founded on them, are in the handwriting of the amanuensis
usually employed by Calvin to make copies of his letters and papers;
and beyond question were all dictated by Calvin himself. He perceived
that he could trust Rigot no further without risk of failure, and so
resumed the position he had taken with Trie, his servant Fontaine, and
even in person, as we have seen.

[86] _Die Antitrinitarier: Michel Servet und seine Vorgänger_, S. 307.

[87] Conf. _Chr. Rest._ pp. 433 and 655, and Ep. 29 to Calvin.

[88] _Vide_ pp. 34, 48, Book I.

[89] Herniosus ab utero Servetus dicit se uno latere _resectum_ fuisse,
ad lævandam infirmitatem. Uno oculo amisso, attamen, non ideo cæcus
homo; neque teste uno ablato impollens.

[90] The letter of the Council of Geneva and the reply of the
authorities of Vienne are published in the new ed. of Calvin by Cünitz
and Reuss, vol. xiv.

[91] Conf. _De Trin. Error._ fol. 93.

[92] First under Calvin with Nicolas de la Fontaine as his agent; then
under Colladon engaged by Calvin; next under Rigot as public prosecutor
and now under Calvin and the Swiss Churches.

[93] Here is what Servetus says on this subject, in connection with the
Sabellian or Patripassian heresy, in his earlier work: As the proper
passion of the flesh is to be born, so is it the proper passion of the
flesh to suffer, to be scourged, to be crucified, to die. But all this
does not touch the spirit, for it is not the soul that suffers or that
dies, but the body. Who so profane as to imagine that the angel in me
dies although I die? (_De Trinitatis Erroribus_, f. 76, b.)

[94] From Mosheim’s _Neue Nachrichten, Beilagen_, S. 102, copied from
the archives of the Church of Zürich.

[95] Bullinger’s letter bears date from Zürich, Sep. 14, 1553, and is
printed in Calvin’s correspondence by Cünitz and Reuss.

[96] The letter is given at length in the _Thes. Epist. Calvini a
Cünitz et Reuss_, v. 591.

[97] Calvin to Bullinger, April 21, 1555, in _Epist. Calvini_, 8vo.
Hanov. 1597.

[98] Vue le sommaire du procés de Michel Servet, prisonnier, le rapport
de ceux, esquel on a consultez, et considéré les grands erreurs et
blasfémes--Est este arreté: Il soyt condamné à estre mené a Champel, et
la brulez tout vivfz, et soyt exequeté a demain, et ses livres bruslés.

[99] Defensio Orthodoxæ Fidei, &c.

[100] Calvin only took letters of naturalisation as a citizen of Geneva
four years before his death in 1564, eleven years after the death of
Servetus.

[101] See the Confession in full, in Cünitz and Reuss’s edit. of the
_Opera Calvini_, viii. 704.

[102] _De Voce Trinitate et Voce Persona._[103]

Quoniam voces istas Trinitatis et Personarum plurimum Ecclesiæ Christi
commodare intelligimus, ut et vera Patris, Filii et Spiritus Sancti
distinctio clarius exprimatur, et contentiosis controversiis melius
occurratur, ab his usque adeo non abhorremus, ut libenter amplexemur,
sive ex aliis audiendæ sive a nobis usurpandæ sint. Itaque quod antea
a nobis factum est, in posterum quoque operam daturos, quoad licebit
recipimus, ne earum usus in Ecclesiis nostris aboleatur. Nam neque ab
iis inter scribendum, vel in Scripturæ ennarrationibus in concionibus
ad populum, abstinebimus ipsi, et alios docebimus ne superstitiose
refugiant. Si quis autem, præpostera religione, teneatur quominus eas
usurpare libenter ausit, quanquam ejusmodi superstitionem nobis non
probari testamur, cui corrigendæ non sit defuturum nostrum studium;
quia tamen non videtur nobis hæc satis firma causa cur vir alioqui
pius et in eandem religionem nobis sensu consentiens repudietur,
ejus imperitiam hac in parte eatenus feremus ne abjiciamus ipsum ab
Ecclesia, aut tanquam male sentientem de fide notemus. Neque, interim
maligne interpretabimur si Bernensis Ecclesiæ Pastores eos ad verbi
ministerium admittere non sustineant quos comperint voces istas
aspernari.

[103] Op. sup. cit. viii. p. 707.

[104] _Fidelis expositio Errorum Michaelis Serveti_, &c.

[105] These words I have, however, since found quoted by Henry: _Leben
Calvins_, i. 181, and by Kampschulte, _Johann Calvin_, i. 297.

[106] _Fuessli, Epistolæ ab Ecclesia Helvet. Reformatoribus._ 8vo.
Tigur. 1748.

[107] _Calvini Epist. et Respons._

[108] The full titles are these: Déclaration pour maintenir la vraye
Foy que tiennent tous Chrétiens de la Trinité des Personnes en un seul
Dieu. Par Jean Calvin. Contre les Erreurs de Michel Servet, Espaignol;
où il est aussi monstré qu’il est licite de punir les heretiques; et
qu’a bon droit ce meschant à esté executé par justice en la Ville de
Genève. Chez Jean Crespin. A Genève, 1554, p. 356. 8vo.

Defensio orthodoxæ fidei de sacra Trinitate contra prodigiosos
errores Michaelis Serveti, Hispani; ubi ostenditur hæreticos jure
gladii coercendos, et nominatim de homine hoc, tam impio, justè et
merito sumptum Genevæ fuisse supplicium, per Johannem Calvinum. Apud
Olivum Roberti Stephani, 1554, p. 262. 8vo. Both of the versions are
subscribed by all the Genevese clergy, and though they differ somewhat
in minute particulars, they agree in everything essential. We have fine
copies of both originals in our national Library.

[109] For a more particular account of Calvin’s severities, the
reader is referred to a paper by M. Galiffe in the _Mémoires de
l’Institut National de Genève_ for 1862, p. 79. But torture was an
old institution in Geneva, and Servetus is said only to have escaped
the rack on the remonstrance of Vandel, one of the senators of the
libertine party. In older days we read of one Postel, who, failing to
answer so satisfactorily as was desired when cited before the Roman
Catholic bishop and his court, for some offence, was ‘suspended by
the rope’--by the wrists we believe. A first suspension, however,
not proving effectual, a second was ordered; but it being now dinner
time, the culprit was suspended a second time whilst his lordship the
bishop dined! In more recent times, and under Calvin’s rule, a certain
Billiard, having been guilty of jeering at the thunder and lightning
during a terrible storm, whilst the inhabitants of Geneva generally
were on their knees praying to God for mercy, was adjudged to be lashed
by the common hangman at the tail of a cart through the streets of the
city! Germain Colladon declared that he deserved death; but as he had a
wife and family they might be content with the scourging!

[110] _Em. Saisset: Michel Servet comme philosophe. In Mélanges de
Critique et d’ Histoire._ 12mo., Paris, 1865.

[111] First printed by Mosheim from the autograph, in his _Neue
Nachrichten von dem berühmten Spanischen Aertzte Michael Serveto,
Beilagen_, S. 106. 8vo., Helmst. 1750.

[112] _Corpus Reform. Ep. Melanch. ad An._, 1554.

[113] Comment. in _Acta Apostol. ad Regem Daniæ_.

[114] _Institutiones Religionis Christ._ Lib. i. Cap. 2, of the earlier
editions.

[115] Joris’s able letter in low German is given by Mosheim, op. cit.,
p. 421.

[116] The proper title of this rare book, of which we have a copy in
the library of the British Museum is: _De Hæreticis an sint persequendi
et omnino quomodo sit cum eis agendum, doctorum virorum, tum veterum
tum recentiorum, sententiæ_, &c. The opinions of the learned, both
of ancient and modern times, concerning heretics: Are they to be
persecuted; or how otherwise are they to be dealt with? A book most
necessary and useful in these distracted times to sovereign princes and
magistrates in dealing with a matter of such difficulty and danger.
12mo., Magdeburgh, 1554.

[117] _Contra libellum Calvini quo ostendere conetur hæreticos jure
gladii coercendos esse._ S. L. [1554]. Of this rare book I have not met
with an original copy; but there is the reprint (after 1602) in the
Brit. Mus. Library.

[118] Conf. _Fuessli: Sebastian Castellio, eine Lebensgeschichte zur
Erläuterung der Reformation_. 8vo. Zürich und Leipz. 1767.

[119] _Mini Celsi Senensis de Hæreticis capitali supplicio
afficientibus; adjuncta sunt Theod. Bezæ ejusdem argumenti et And.
Duditii Epistolæ duæ contrariæ._ 8vo. s. L. 1584.

[120] _Ketzergeschichte_, S. 301.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.





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