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§ 168. Beza at Lausanne and as a Delegate to the German Princes.


Beza’s earliest business after greeting Calvin was to marry in church Claudine Denosse. Then he looked around for an occupation that would support him. He considered for a time going into the printing business with Crespin, but on his return from a visit to Wolmar at Tübingen he yielded to the persuasions of Pierre Viret, who entertained him as he was passing through Lausanne, and on Nov. 6, 1549, became professor of Greek in the Academy there,12821282    His colleague in the Latin chair was the distinguished François Hotman (Latin, Hotomanus), who afterwards founded a law school at Geneva.and entered upon a course of great usefulness and influence. He showed his zeal as well as biblical learning by giving public lectures on the Epistle to the Romans and on the Epistles of Peter; and that he still was a poet, and that, too, of the Renaissance, only in the religious and not usual sense (of regeneration and not renascence), by continuing the translation of the Psalms begun by Clement Marot, and by publishing a drama, classically constructed, on the Sacrifice of Abraham.12831283    It was performed by the students of the Lausanne academy and elsewhere and translated into several languages. All these performances were in the French language.

While at Lausanne, Beza was taken sick with the plague. Calvin in writing of this to Farel, under date of June 15, 1551, thus pays his tribute to the character of Beza: "I would not be a man if I did not return his love who loves me more than a brother and reveres me as a father: but I am still more concerned at the loss the church would suffer if in the midst of his career he should be suddenly removed by death, for I saw in him a man whose lovely spirit, noble, pure manners, and open-mindedness endeared him to all the righteous. I hope, however, that he will be given back to us in answer to our prayers."

Lausanne was then governed by Bern. It was therefore particularly interested in Bern’s alliance with Geneva, and when this was renewed in 1557, after it had been suffered to lapse a year, Beza considered it very providential. In the spring of that year, 1557, persecution broke out against the neighboring Waldenses, and on nomination of the German clergy and with special permission of Bern, Beza, and Farel began a series of visits through Switzerland and upon the Protestant princes of Germany in the interest of the persecuted. The desire was to stir up the Protestants to unite in an appeal to the king of France. Beza was then thirty-eight years old and had been for eight years a successful teacher and preacher. He was therefore of mature years and established reputation. But what rendered the choice of him still more an ideal one was his aristocratic bearing and his familiarity with court life. He accepted his appointment with alacrity, as a man enters upon a course particularly suited to him. Thus Beza started out upon the first of the many journeys which furnished such unique and invaluable services to the cause of French Protestantism.

The two delegates made a favorable impression everywhere. The Lutherans especially were pleased with them, although at first inclined to look askance upon two such avowed admirers and followers of Calvin. But when they had returned full of rejoicing that they had accomplished their design and that the Protestant princes and cantons would unite in petitioning the French king on behalf of the persecuted Waldenses, albeit to small effect, alas! they were called to sharp account because at Göppingen on May 14, 1557, they had defined their doctrine of the Eucharist in terms which emphasized the points of agreement and passed by those of disagreement.12841284    See the text in Baum, I. 405-409. This was in the interest of peace. They rightly felt that it would be shameful to shipwreck their Christian attempt upon the shoals of barren controversy. But the odium theologicum compelled their home friends to charge them with disloyalty to the truth! Calvin, however, raised his voice in defence of Beza’s conduct, and the strife of tongues quickly ceased,

How little Beza had suffered in general reputation, or at least in the eyes of the powerful Calvin, was almost immediately manifest.

On the evening of the 4th of September, 1557, three or four hundred Protestants in Paris who had quietly assembled in the Rue St. Jaques to celebrate the Lord’s Supper were set upon by a mob, and amid insults and injuries haled to prison. Their fate deeply stirred the Protestants everywhere, and Beza with some companions was again sent to the Protestant cantons and princes to invoke their aid as before, and because the princes were quicker at promising than performance he went again the next year. But Henry II. paid small attention to the note of the Protestant powers.



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