Friday, May 29, 2009

5/29- Company of Pastors

5/29- Calvin's last words to the company of pastors.

II Kings 2:1-8
1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "so be quiet." 4 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho. 5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," he replied, "so be quiet." 6 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on. 7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

From Beza about Calvin’s last days with the company of pastors: Calvin addressed all of us ministers under the jurisdiction of Geneva, who were assembled in his chamber, and at his request, on the 28th of April, in the following terms: —“Stand fast, my brethren, after my decease, in the work which you have begun, and be not discouraged, for the Lord will preserve this church and republic against the threats of its enemies. Let all
divisions be removed far from you, and embrace one another with mutual charity. Consider on all occasions what you owe to the church in which the Lord hath stationed you, and let nothing draw you from it. It will indeed be easy for such as are wearied of their flocks to find means for escaping from their duty by intrigue, but
they will learn by experience that the Lord cannot be deceived. “On my first arrival in this city the gospel was indeed preached, but every thing was in the greatest confusion, as if Christianity consisted in nothing else than the overturning of images. Not a few wicked men arose in the church, from whom I suffered many great
indignities; but the Lord our God himself so strengthened me, and banished all fear even from my mind, who am by no means distinguished for natural courage (I state the real fact,) that I was enabled to resist all their attempts. I returned hither from Strasborg, in obedience to a call, against my inclination; because I
thought it would not be productive of any advantage. I knew not what the Lord had determined, and my situation was full of very many, and very great difficulties. But proceeding in this work, I perceived at length that the Lord had in reality blessed my labors. Do you, therefore, brethren, persisting your vocation; preserve the established order; use at the same time every exertion to retain the people in obedience to the doctrine delivered, for there are yet among you some wicked and stubborn characters. Affairs, as you see, are not now in an unsettled state, on which account you will be more criminal before God, if they are subverted by your
inactivity. I declare my brethren, that I have lived united with you in the strictest bonds of true and sincere affection, and I now take my leave of you with the same feelings. If you have at any time found me too peevish under my disease, I entreat your forgiveness, and I return you my warmest thanks, because during my
confinement you have discharged the burden of the duties assigned me.” After this address he reached out his right hand to each of us, and we then took leave of him with hearts overwhelmed with sorrow and grief, and
eyes flowing with tears.
On the Friday before Whitsunday, May 19th, the pastors were to meet; and Calvin requested that they should do so at his house. When a homely dinner had been prepared, Calvin was carried into the room, and said: “I
am come, my brethren, to see you for the last time; for I shall never again sit at table.” Then he offered prayer, and tried to eat a little. “But,” adds Beza, “before the end of the meal, he requested to be carried back to his
chamber, which was close by, saying these words with as cheerful a face as he could command: ‘A partition between us will not prevent me, though absent in body, being present with you in spirit.’”

Last words are important. Some have said two thirds of the gospel of John centers around the last month of Jesus' life. So these words of Elijah and Calvin are important.
Today I am going to a presbytery meeting. It is a special presbytery meeting of the five presbyteries in South Carolina. It will be good to see some folk. But for some reason, I don’t think if one of us were to die, we would call for the company of pastors to come in and have conversation prayer with them- though perhaps one or two pastors may come. Calvin sets the standard for relations among pastors. Calvin was a pastor to the pastors, and his great intellect, but also his great love for God drew others to him.

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