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       The Ministry of William Farell


From CLARK’S Lives.

 [William Farell was a French-speaking pastor of the Reformation. It was he who persuaded John Calvin to settle in the city of Geneva.]



5. FARELLUS. – In 1527, he went to a certain town called Elin, where he preached the gospel, and was admonished by Ścolampadius to mingle prudence with his zeal. In 1528, he went to Aquileia amongst the Bernates, where he preached Christ, and undauntedly opposed Antichrist; disputing also with divers at Bern, whereupon ensued a wonderful change in ecclesiastical affairs. In 1528, he with Viret went to Geneva, where they planted the church, and propagated the gospel, and many of the citizens embraced it; yet at first not so much out of love to the truth, as out of hatred to the Popish tyranny. Long he had not been there before he was drawn into the bishop’s court, which two of the Syndics much disliked, the rather because Farell promised them that he would prove all his doctrine out of the Holy Scriptures; so that they accompanied him into the bishop’s court, that they might see all things to proceed in judgment lawfully; but it fell out otherways: for the judge of the court would by no means endure a disputation, saying, if that be suffered, all our mystery would be destroyed; and withal railing upon Farell, he said, thou most wicked devil, why camest thou to this city to trouble us? I am not (answered Farell) as you call me, but I preach Jesus Christ who was crucified for our sins, and rose again, and he that believeth in his name shall be saved: this is the sum of my errand: I am a debtor unto all that are ready to hear, and obey the gospel, desiring this only, that the obedience of faith may flourish every where; and I came into this city to see if there were any that would lend me the hearing, and I will render an account of my faith and hope every where; and will confirm my doctrine with my blood if need be. Then cried out one of the court in Latin; he hath blasphemed, what need we any more witnesses? he is guilty of death. Hurl him into the Rhone: hurl him into the Rhone. ‘Tis better this one Lutheran should be put to death, than that further troubles should be raised. Farell answered; do not utter the words of Caiaphas, but of God. Then one struck him on the mouth with his fist, and he was commanded to stand aside as if they would consult, and in the interim he was shot at with a gun by the vicar’s servant, but it hit him not, God defending his servant. And though one of the Syndics favoured him, yet now the other shrunk from him, so that the bishops council prevailed that he should be driven out of the city. And thus being accompanied with some citizens, he, and his partner Anthony Salner were expelled the city, but God turned it to the great good of others, for they sowed the seed of the word in the neighbouring country, by the side of the lake Lemain, viz. at Orba and Granson. Neither yet (through God’s power and goodness) was the work interrupted at Geneva: for just at the same time came a young man of the Delphinate, called Anthony Frumintius, who entering into the city taught a public school, and together with the rudiments of grammar, he most happily laid the foundation of Christian religion in the hearts and minds of the scholars, which were not a few. In 1541, Farell went to Metz, and preached in the church-yard of the Dominicans; the friars, when they could not otherways hinder him, rang their bells: but he having a strong voice, did so strain it, that he went on audibly to the end of his sermon. The day after there came about three thousand persons to hear the word of God; but some that favoured the gospel, intreated Mr Farell so long to forbear, as till he might preach without a tumult. Then was he questioned by the magistrates, by what authority, or by whose request he preached. To which he answered, by the command of Christ, and at the request of his members: gravely discoursing both of his own authority, and of the excellency of the gospel; telling the magistrates what his duty was in reference thereunto. But shortly after, by the command of the Emperor, the citizens of Metz were forbidden to hear any man preach who was not licensed by the bishop, and some others. Whereupon Mr Farell went to Neocom, where he wholly employed himself in the service of the church, performing the office of a faithful pastor to extreme old age, with admirable zeal and diligence. This was that Farell who (discouraged by no difficulties, deterred with no threatenings, reproaches, or stripes) gained to Christ multitudes in Montbelgard, Aquileia, Lausanna, Geneva, and Neocom. There was in him, besides piety, learning, innocency of life, exemplary modesty, a certain singular presence of mind, sharp wit, and vehemency of speech, so that he rather seemed to thunder than speak; and lastly such admirable fervency in his prayers, that he seemed to carry his hearers into heaven with him. He died 1565.



“HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF ACCOUNTS OF REVIVAL,” compiled by the Rev. John Gillies, D.D., 1754. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981. pp 42-43.