|IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 1, Number 8, April 19 to April 25, 1999|
“Next to the study of the Scriptures, I exhort my pupils to pursue Calvin's commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmick himself; for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, as rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent gift of prophecy.”
“Thus withdrew into heaven, at the same time with the setting sun, that noble brilliant luminary, which was the lamp of the Church. On the following day and night there was intense grief and lamentation in the whole city; for the Republic had lost its wisest citizen, the Church its faithful shepherd, and the Academy and incomparable teacher.”
“Inasmuch as you, Michael Servetus of Villanueva in the Spanish kingdom of Aragon, have been accused of terrible blasphemies against the holy Trinity, against the Son of God and other principles of the Christian faith, whereas you have called the Trinity a devil and a monster with three heads, whereas you went about to destroy poor souls by your horrifying mockery of the honor and majesty of God, too wicked to be mentioned, whereas refusing to be taught in any way, you called Christian atheists and magicians, whereas, whereas, whereas . . .The verdict was “guilty,” and the sentence punishment by fire. Calvin, agreeing that Servetus should be put to death, opposed the state’s method of execution and pleaded for the sword to be substituted for the fire. The council refused Calvin's request. The final responsibility for the burning rested with the city council, not Calvin.
“We, the mayor and judges of this city, having been called to the duty of preserving the church of God from schism and seduction, and to free Christians of such pestilence, decree that you, Michael Servetus, be led to the place of Champel and be bound to a stake and with your book be burned to ashes, a warning to all who blaspheme God.”
From Zwingli's city: “No severity is too great to punish such an offense. Our preachers are in total agreement with what Calvin thinks of his doctrine.Public opinion has undergone a great change in regard to this event, and the execution of Servetus which was fully approved by the best men in the sixteenth century is entirely out of harmony with twentieth century ideas.
From Schaffhausen: “Stop the evil, other-wise his blasphemies, like a crawfish, will eat away the members of Christ!”
From Basel: “Do what lies in your power to convince him of his error. If he persists in his folly, then use the power which is entrusted to you by God to prevent him by force from any further injury to the Church of Christ.”
Even Melanchthon stated to Calvin in a letter, “I have read your book in which you clearly refuted the horrid blasphemies of Servetus . . . To you the Church owes gratitude at the present moment, and will owe it to the latest posterity. I perfectly assent to your opinion. I affirm also that your magistrates did right in punishing, after regular trial, this blasphemous man.”
“Believe me, never did I have the intention to prosecute you because of some offense against me. Do you remember,” he spoke now with a tender voice and not in a tone of reproach, “how, in danger of death, I wanted to meet you in Paris sixteen years ago in order to win you to our Lord? And afterwards when you were a fugitive was I not concerned to show you the right way in letters until you began to hate me because you were offended by my firmness? But let's not talk about me, nor of the past! Are you thinking of asking forgiveness of the everlasting God whom you have blasphemed on so many occasions? Are you thinking of being reconciled to the Son of God?”Servetus became quite serious and humble as he faced the certainty of death. He asked Calvin to forgive him, and perhaps he asked Christ for forgiveness also. It is recorded that he spent the last twenty-four hours of his life repeating over and over again, “Jesus, Son of the eternal God, have mercy upon me!”