Geneva Was a Wretched Place in 1538

On Feb. 3, 1538, the anti-clerical party succeeded in the election of four syndics and a majority of the Council.

The new rulers proceeded with caution. They appointed new preachers for the country, which was much needed. They prohibited indecent songs and broils in the streets, and going out at night after nine. They took Bern for their model. They enforced the decision of the Council of Lausanne concerning the Church festivals and baptismal fonts.

But the preachers were determined to die rather than to yield an inch. They continued to thunder against the popular vices, and censured the Council for want of energy in suppressing them. The result was that they were warned not to meddle in politics (March 12). Courauld, who surpassed even Farel in vehemence, was forbidden to preach, but ascended the pulpit again, April 7, denounced Geneva and its citizens in a rude and insulting manner, was imprisoned, and six days afterwards banished in spite of the energetic protests of Calvin and Farel. The old man retired to Thonon, on the lake of Geneva, was elected minister at Orbe, and died there Oct. 4 in the same year.

Calvin and Farel were emboldened by this harsh treatment of their colleague. They attacked the Council from the pulpit. Even Calvin went so far as to denounce it as the Devil’s Council. Libels were circulated against the preachers. They often heard the cry late in the evening, “To the Rhone with the traitors,” and in the night they were disturbed by violent knocks at the door of their dwelling.

Calvin was eventually driven from the vile pit.  He would later return, of course, and take charge in a way which earned him the eternal contempt of those who dislike order and decency.

It’s a shame Calvin isn’t alive today and living in Washington, DC.  Those people are in need of a good trouncing.