with his life, yet probably the relentless Reformer was now bent on his destruction quite as much by a desire to defeat the opposite party as by the personal hatred he had for Servetus.
The nominal prosecutor of Servetus was a creature of Calvin's—a certain Nicolas de la Fontaine—who, in accordance with the law, had not only to bind himself over to continue the suit to a conclusion, but also to go to prison with the accused man, and, in compliance with the requirements of the lex talionis, to engage, in case his charges were not made good, to undergo the penalty that would have fallen on the accused had they been established.
Thirty-eight articles of impeachment were advanced against Servetus. One of these was that he had defamed Mr. Calvin and the doctrine that he preached. To this Servetus replied that he had had abusive language from Calvin, and that he had only answered in the same terms. La Fontaine produced Ptolemy's Geography, the annotated Bible, the Christianismi Eestitutio, and certain MS. letters, and Servetus admitted that he was the author of all. It having been considered now that sufficient evidence had been furnished to warrant prosecution by the attorney-general, the court relieved La Fontaine of all charge, damage, and interest in the matter, and Servetus was committed for trial.
At the trial, passages from Ptolemy's Geography as to the character of Palestine were adduced as proofs of the heretical opinions of the prisoner, and when the latter added that the notes contained nothing harmful, or that was not true, Calvin himself warmly interposed. And writing afterward about the event, he says: "When Servetus stood so plainly convicted of this his impiety he had nothing to allege in his vindication. The filthy cur, laying aside all shame, asserted in one word that there was no harm in it."
The annotations of the Pagnini Bible were produced again, and Servetus was examined as to his method of interpreting prophetical passages, and then the meaning of certain extracts from the Christianismi Restitutio was inquired into, and a letter from Servetus, written about six years before to Abel Pepin, a preacher at Geneva, was put in. It contained two remarkable passages:
"It is perhaps far from agreeable to you that I should concern myself with Michael's war in the Apocalypse, or that I should desire to bring you into the strife. But do so much as consider that passage narrowly, and you will soon perceive who the men were to be who would engage in that quarrel, namely, such as were resolved to expose their lives to death for the blood and the testimony of Jesus Christ. . . . That I must die for the cause I have espoused I certainly know; but I am not at all cast down
- In a letter from Calvin to Farel, dated Ides of February, 1546. Now in Paris Library.