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§ 62. The Last Labors of Farel.


For the remaining twenty-seven years of his life, Farel remained chief pastor at Neuchâtel, and built up the Protestant Church in connection with Fabri, his colleague. He tried to introduce a severe discipline, by which he offended many of the new converts, and even his friends in Bern; but Fabri favored a milder course.

From Neuchâtel Farel, following his missionary impulse, made preaching excursions to Geneva, Strassburg, and Metz, in Lorraine. At Metz he preached in the cemetery of the Dominicans, while the monks sounded all the bells to drown his voice. He accompanied Calvin to Zürich to bring about the Consensus Tigurinus with the Zwinglians (1549). He followed Servetus to the stake (Oct. 27, 1553), and exhorted him in vain to renounce his errors. He collected money for the refugees of Locarno, and sent letters of comfort to his persecuted brethren in France. He made two visits to Germany (1557) to urge upon the German princes an active intercession in behalf of the Waldenses and French Protestants, but without effect. In December, 1558, when already sixty-nine years of age, he married, against the advice of his friends, a poor maiden, who had fled with her widowed mother from France to Neuchâtel.349349    Six years afterwards he became the father of a son, his only child, who survived him three years. John Knox surpassed him in matrimonial enterprise: he married, as a widower of fifty-eight, a Scotch lass of sixteen, of royal name and blood (Margaret Stuart), who bore him three daughters, and two years after his death (1572) contracted a second marriage. If Erasmus had lived, he might have pointed to these examples in confirmation of his witticisms on the marriages of Luther and Oecolampadius. Calvin was much annoyed by this indiscretion, but besought the preachers of that city to bear with patience the folly of the old bachelor.

The marriage did not cool Farel’s zeal. In 1559 he visited the French refugees in Alsace and Lorraine. In November, 1561, he accepted an invitation to Gap, his birthplace, and ventured to preach in public, notwithstanding the royal prohibition, to the large number of his fellow-citizens who had become Protestants.

Shortly before his death Calvin informed him of his illness, May 2, 1564, in the last letter from his pen: "Farewell, my best and truest brother! And since it is God’s will that you remain behind me in the world, live mindful of our friendship, which as it was useful to the Church of God, so the fruit of it awaits us in heaven. Pray do not fatigue yourself on my account. It is with difficulty that I draw my breath, and I expect that every moment will be the last. It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who is the reward of his followers both in life and in death. Again, farewell with the brethren."350350    Calvin, Opera, XX. 302, where this epistola is called "ultima omnium et valedictoria." Farel, notwithstanding the infirmity of old age, travelled to Geneva, and paid his friend a touching farewell visit, but returned home before his death. He wrote to Fabri: "Would I could die for him! What a beautiful course has he happily. finished! God grant that we may thus finish our course according to the grace that he has given us."

His last journey was a farewell visit to the Protestants at Metz, who received him with open arms, and were exceedingly comforted by his presence (May, 1565). He preached with the fire of his youth. Soon after his return to Neuchâtel, he died peacefully, Sept. 13, 1565, seventy-six years old. The friends who visited him in his last days were deeply impressed with his heroic steadfastness and hopefulness. He was poor and disinterested, like all the Reformers.351351    La France Prot., VI. 409: "Toute sa succession se monta à120 livres, preuve de son entière desintéressement." Godet, l.c, p. 185: "Calvin mourant ne laissa que 125 écus de fortune àses héritiers. Le petit trésor de Farel trouvéaprès sa mort se montait à120 livres du pays." A monument was erected to him at Neuchâtel, May 4, 1876.

The writings of Farel are polemical and practical tracts for the times, mostly in French.352352    See a list of 18 in Schmidt, l.c., p. 38; a more complete one (24) in La France Protest., VI. 410-414. Herminjard, in the 7 vols. of his Correspond. des Réf, gives 107 of his letters, and 242 letters addressed to him.



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