Farel, William

, a learned minister of the church, and most intrepid reformer, was the son of a gentleman of Dauphine in France, and born at Gap in 1489. He studied philosophy, and Greek and Hebrew, at Paris with great success, and was for some time a teacher in the college of cardinal le Moine. Briyonnet, bishop of Meaux, hem.; inclined to the reformed religion, invited him to preach in his diocese in 1521; but the persecution raised there | against the early protestants who were styled heretics, in 1523, obliged him to provide for his security out of France. He then retired to Strasburgh, where Bucer and Capito admitted him as a. brother; and he was afterwards received as such by Zwinglius at Zurich, by Haller at Berne, and by Oecolampadius at Basil. As he was thought well qualified by zeal and knowledge for such a task, he was advised to undertake the reformation of religion at Montbeliard, in which design he was supported by the duke of Wittenberg, who was lord of that place; and he succeeded in it most happily. He was a man on some occasions of too much warmth and enthusiasm against popery, which, however, he tempered a little, by the advice of Oecolampadius. Once on a procession-day, he pulled out of the priest’s hand the image of St. Antony, and threw it from a bridge into the river, a boldness and imprudence which was unnecessary, and might have cost him his life. Erasmus by no means liked Farel’s temper, as appears from what he wrote of him to the official of Besancon. “You, have,” says he, “in your neighbourhood the new evangelist, Farel; than whom I never saw a man more false, more virulent, more seditious.” Erasmus has also given a very unfavourable character of him elsewhere: but he thought Farel had censured him in some of his writings, and therefore is not to be altogether believed in every thing he says of him; nor indeed was a man of decision and intrepidity likely to be a favourite with the timid and time-serving Erasmus.

In 1528, he had the same success in promoting the reformation in the city of Aigle, and soon after in the bailU wick of Morat. He went afterwards to Neufchatel in 1529, and disputed against the Roman catholic party with so much strength, that this city embraced the reformed religion, and established it entirely Nov. 4, 1530. He was sent a deputy to the synod of the Waldenses, held in the valley of Angrogne. Hence he went to Geneva, where he laboured against popery: but the grand vicar and the other clergy resisted him with so much fury, that he was obliged to retire. He was called back in 1534 by the inhabitants, who had renounced the Roman catholic religion; and was the chief person that procured the perfect abolition of it the next year. He was banished from Geneva with Calvin in 1533, and retired to Basil, and afterwards to Neufchatel, where there was great probability of a large | evangelical harvest. From thence he went to Metz, but had a thousand difficulties to encounter; and was obliged to retire into the abbey of Gorze, where the count of Jurstemberg protected him and the new converts. But they could not continue there long; for they were besieged in the abbey, and obliged at last to surrender, after a capitulation. F. rel very happily escaped, though strict search was made alter him, having been put in a cart among the sick and infirm. He took upon him his former functions of a minister at Neufchatel, whence he took now and then a journey to Geneva. When he went thither in 1553, he was present at Servetus’s execution. He went again to Geneva in 1564, to^take his last leave of Calvin, who was dangerously ill. He took a second journey to Metz in 1565, being invited by his ancient flock, to witness the success of his lubours, but returned to Neufchatel, and died there Sept. 13, or, as Dupin says, Dec. 3, in the same year.

He married at the age of sixty-nine, and left a son, who survived him but three years. Though he was far better qualified to preach than to write books, yet he was the author of some few publications of the controversial kind, among which are a treatise “Upon the true use of the Cross,Paris, 1560, and another “Upon the authority of the Word of God, and human traditions.1


Melchior Adam Gen. Dict. —Dupin.