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History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
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§ 74. The Open Rupture. An Academic Oration. 1533.


Calv. Opera, X. P. I. 30; XXI. 123, 129, 192. A very graphic account by Merle D’Aubigné, bk. II. ch. xxx. (vol. II. 264–284).


For a little while matters seemed to take a favorable turn at the court for reform. The reactionary conduct of the Sorbonne and the insult offered to Queen Marguerite by the condemnation of her "Mirror of a Sinful Soul,"—a tender and monotonous mystic reverie,425425    Le miroirde l’âme pécheresse (1533). The book was condemned on purely negative evidence. The silence about purgatory and the intercession of saints was construed as a denial. — offended her brother and the liberal members of the University. Several preachers who sympathized with a moderate reformation, Gérard Roussel, and the Augustinians, Bertault and Courault, were permitted to ascend the pulpit in Paris.426426    Elie Courault (Coraud, Couraud, Coraldus) afterwards fled to Basel in 1534, and became a colleague of Farel and Calvin at Geneva in 1536. See Herminjard, IV. 114, note 9. The king himself, by his opposition to the German emperor, and his friendship with Henry VIII., incurred the suspicion of aiding the cause of heresy and schism. He tried, from political motives and regard for his sister, to conciliate between the conservative and progressive parties. He even authorized the invitation of Melanchthon to Paris as counsellor, but Melanchthon wisely declined.

Nicolas Cop, the son of a distinguished royal physician (William Cop of Basel), and a friend of Calvin, was elected Rector of the University, Oct. 10, 1533, and delivered the usual inaugural oration on All Saint’s Day, Nov. 1, before a large assembly in the Church of the Mathurins.427427    Bulaeus, Historia Universitatis Parisiensis, VI. 238, and in the "Catalogus illustrium Academicorum Univ. Parisiensis" at the end of the same volume. A notice of Cop in Herminjard, III. 129 sq. note 3.

This oration, at the request of the new Rector, had been prepared by Calvin. It was a plea for a reformation on the basis of the New Testament, and a bold attack on the scholastic theologians of the day, who were represented as a set of sophists, ignorant of the Gospel. "They teach nothing," says Calvin, "of faith, nothing of the love of God, nothing of the remission of sins, nothing of grace, nothing of justification; or if they do so, they pervert and undermine it all by their laws and sophistries. I beg you, who are here present, not to tolerate any longer these heresies and abuses."428428    The incomplete draft of’ this address has been discovered by J. Bonnet among the MSS. of the Geneva Library, and the whole of it by Reuss and Cunitz in the library of St. Thomas in Strassburg. It is printed in Opera, X. Pars II. 30-36 (and the shorter draft, IX. 873-876). Comp. Herminjard, III. 117, note, and 418 sqq.

The Sorbonne and the Parliament regarded this academic oration as a manifesto of war upon the Catholic Church, and condemned it to the flames. Cop was warned and fled to his relatives in Basel.429429    Three hundred crowns were offered for his capture dead or alive. So Bucer wrote to Blaurer, Jan. 13, 1534, in Herminjard, III. 130. Cop informed Bucer, April 5, 1534, that a German was burned in Paris, for denying transubstantiation. Ibid. III. 159. Calvin, the real author of the mischief, is said to have descended from a window by means of sheets, and escaped from Paris in the garb of a vine-dresser with a hoe upon his shoulder. His rooms were searched and his books and papers were seized by the police.430430    According to Beza (XXI. 123), Queen Marguerite protected Calvin and honorably received him at the court; but he certainly left Paris very soon. Colladon says nothing of an interference of Marguerite. The story of the escape of Calvin is told by Papyrius Masson, and Desmay. See M’Crie, p. 100, note 59. It has been compared to Paul’s escape at Damascus, Acts 9:25.



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