Geneva was falling into more and more of disorder. Discipline was nil and immorality ran riot. The political freedom of the country was in danger. Bern, outwitting the Genevese commission, acquired treaty sovereignty, which the Great Council would not acknowledge.
The Genevese themselves were divided into three parties, the Bernese, Roman Catholic parties and Reformers. The Bernese party was decimated by political execution. Both that party and the Roman Catholic made blunders. The party of the Reformers began again to grow in relative power and numbers.
Thus the way was prepared for the recall of Calvin. This was discussed in the council early in 1539, again in February, 1540, and decided upon September 21, 1540. From that time on increasingly earnest measures were taken to get him. The syndics’ letter bearing date of October 22d concludes, “On behalf of our Little, Great and General Councils (all of which have strongly urged us to take this step), we pray you very affectionately that you will be pleased to come over to us, and to return to your former post and ministry; and we hope that by God’s help this course will be a great advantage for the furtherance of the holy gospel, seeing that our people very much desire you, and we will so deal with you that you shall have reason to be satisfied.”* The seal of the letter bore the legend, “After darkness I hope for light.”*
*Thomas Cary Johnson, John Calvin and The Genevan Reformation: A Sketch. (Richmond, VA: The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1900), 45–46.