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History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
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§ 88. Calvin as Theological Teacher and Author.


The Reformers of Strassburg, aided by leading laymen, as Jacob Sturm and John Sturm, provided for better elementary and higher education, and founded schools which attracted pupils from France as early as 1525. Gérard Roussel, one of the earliest of the refugees, speaks very highly of them in a letter to the bishop of Meaux.522522    Herminjard, I. 407; also Farel in a letter of June 4, 1526, to Myconius, ibid. 433 sq. On the schools in Strassburg see Roehrich, Geschichte der Reformation im Elsass, I. 253, 261-264; A. G. Strobel, Histoire du Gymnase protestant de Strasbourg, Strasb. 1838; Charles Schmidt, La vie et les travaux de Jean Sturm, Strasb. 1855 (quoted by Herminjard); and R. Zöpffel, Johann Sturm, der erste Rektor der Strassburger Akademie, Strassburg, 1887. A Protestant college (gymnasium), with a theological department, was established March 22, 1538, and placed under the direction of John Sturm, one of the ablest pedagogues of his times. It was the nucleus of a university which continued German down to the French Revolution, was then half Frenchified, and is now again German in language and methods of teaching. The first teachers in that college were Bucer for the New Testament, Capito for the Old, Hedio for history and theology, Herlin for mathematics, and Jacob Bedrot or Pedrotus for Greek.523523    Pedrotus (Padrut), whose name often occurs in Calvin’s letters, was a native of Pludenz in Vorarlberg, and famous as editor and expounder of ancient classics, hence also called Jacobus Graecus. Capito recommended him very highly in a letter to Blaarer, Nov. 26, 1625, in Herminjard, I. 440, note 16. He died of the pestilence at Strassburg, 1541. A converted Jew taught Hebrew.

Calvin was appointed assistant professor of theology in January, 1539.524524    Calvin to Farel, January, 1539 (Herminjard, V. 230): "Nuper ad publicam professionem invitus a Capitone protractus sum. Ita quotidie aut lego aut concionor." He preached four times, and lectured three times. The salary of 52 guilders for one year was to commence the first of May. It is mentioned in Annal. 246, by Herminjard, V. 231, note 19, and by Stricker, 22. He lectured on the Gospel of John, the Epistle to the Romans, and other books of the Bible. Many students came from Switzerland and France to hear him, who afterwards returned as evangelists. He speaks of several students in his correspondence with satisfaction. In some cases he was disappointed. He presided over public disputations. He refuted in 1539 a certain Robertus Moshamus, Dean of Passau, in a disputation on the merits of good works, and achieved a signal victory to the great delight of the scholars of the city.525525    He defeated him again at Worms in the presence of Melanchthon. Jacob Sturm, Antipappi, as quoted in Herminjard, VII. 20, note 6.

But he had also an unpleasant dispute with that worthless theological turncoat, Peter Caroli, who appeared at Strassburg in October, 1539, as a troubler in Israel, as he had done before at Lausanne, and sought to prejudice even Bucer and Capito against Calvin on the subject of the Trinity.526526    "Ter desertor, ter transfuga, ter proditor utriusque partes," he is called by Calvin. See on this unimportant episode Stricker, pp. 30-39.

With all his professional duties he found leisure for important literary work, which had been interrupted at Geneva. He prepared a thorough revision of his Institutes, which superseded the first, and a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, which opened the series of his invaluable exegetical works. Both were published at Strassburg by the famous printer Wendelin Rihel in 1539. He had been preceded, in the commentary on Romans, by Melanchthon, Bucer, Bullinger, but he easily surpassed them all. He also wrote, in French, a popular treatise on the Lord’s Supper, in which he pointed out a via media between the realism of Luther and the spiritualism of Zwingli. Both parties, he says towards the close, have failed and departed from the truth in their passionate zeal, but this should not blind us to the great benefits which God through Luther and Zwingli has bestowed upon mankind. If we are not ungrateful and forgetful of what we owe to them, we shall be well able to pardon that and much more, without blaming them. We must hope for a reconciliation of the two parties.

At the Diet of Regensburg in 1541 he had, with the other Protestant delegates, to subscribe the Augsburg Confession. He could do so honestly, understanding it, as he said expressly, in the sense of the author who, in the year before, had published a revised edition with an important change in the 10th Article (on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper).527527    Calvin’s letter to Martin Schalling, a minister at Regensburg, March, 1557, in Opera, XVI. 430: "Nec vero Augustanam Confessionem repudio, cui pridem volens ac libens subscripsi sicut eam autor ipse interpretatus est." His colleagues, Bucer and Capito, understood the Augsburg Confession in the same irenic spirit.

Of his masterly answer to Sadolet we shall speak separately.

His many letters from that period prove his constant and faithful attention to the duties of friendship. In his letters to Farel he pours out his heart, and makes him partaker of his troubles and joys, and familiar with public events and private affairs even to little details. Farel could not stand a long separation and paid him two brief visits in 1539 and 1540.



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