William Farel

by Joshua Horn. Part of the series, Blogging the Reformers. Originally posted here.

William Farel was born in 1489 in France. At the age of 20 he entered the Sorbonne in Paris. He became friends with Jacques Lefèvre, a Christian who desired to reform the church. He was saved in 1519, but within a year was forced to flee Paris. He preached at various cities, and then came to Geneva in 1532. He was very instrumental in the Reformation in Geneva, and many people were saved through his preaching. In 1536 he convinced John Calvin to stay and help him in Geneva rather than going into seclusion for study. He said, “May God curse your repose ! may God curse your studies, if in such a great necessity as ours you withdraw and refuse to give us help and support!”1 He was a very fiery, powerful and eloquent preacher. D’Aubigne said of him:

“His desire to enlighten his contemporaries was intense, his heart intrepid, his zeal indefatigable, and his ambition for God’s glory without bounds. … He was not a great writer … but when he spoke he was almost without an equal. … His much eloquence, his lively apostrophes, his bold remonstrances, his noble images, his action frank, expressive, and sometimes threatening, his voice that was often like thunder, and his fervent prayers, carried away his hearers.”2

1 J. H. Merle D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 2000) volume 3, book ix, p. 461

2 Ibid, volume 2, book v, p. 199-200