Calvin and the Libertines

“The eventful morning dawned. The bell invited the people to the church of St. Peter. The Libertines were present, with their swords, determined to communicate. Calvin preached on the intention of the sacred ordinance, and spoke of the state of mind necessary for obedience to the Lord’s command. At the close, he said: “As for me, so long as God shall leave me here, since He hath given me fortitude, and I have received it from Him, I will employ it, whatever betide; and I will guide myself by my Master’s rule, which to me is clear and well known. As we are now about to receive the holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, if anyone who has been debarred by the Consistory shall approach this table, though it should cost my life, I will show myself such as I ought to be.”

He then left the pulpit, and stood at the table. Removing the white cloth, and covering the bread and wine with his hands, he said, with a voice that rang through the building, “These hands you may crush; these arms you may lop off; my life you may take; my blood is yours, you may shed it but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profane, and dishonor the table of my God.” As if the very power of God prevailed, a calm succeeded, and the Libertines retired; the congregation opening a passage for their retreat. A solemn silence enabled the Reformer to celebrate the sacred ordinance in awe, as if the Lord Himself had been manifestly present.

The question in the mind of Calvin was not whether he or the Libertines should succeed; but whether the Reformation should be wrecked at the very table of the Lord. He stood firm; and victory remained with him.”

The entire account can be found in ‘The History of Protestantism’ by James A. Wylie


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