Theodore Beza

bezaTheodore Beza was born in France June 24, 1519, the last of seven children. His mother died when he was three years old. Beza’s uncle Nicholas took him in to provide his education. In 1528, when he was nine years old, he was sent to Orléans to study under Melchior Wolmar, a Protestant, for seven years.  Wolmar tried to convert Beza to Protestantism, but he would not forsake the Roman Catholicism of his family

Beza then studied law in Orléans, but his heart was not in it. He preferred the study of ancient Greek and Roman literature, and old Latin poets. Beza enjoyed a life of leisure because two benefices provided him with a steady income, and later, admitted to many sins.

Beza became gravely ill in 1548, and the experience described below was included in a letter to a friend in 1560.

“Behold (God) inflicted a very serious illness on me, so that I almost despaired of my life. What should I do in this wretched state, when nothing stood before my eyes beyond the horrific judgment of a just God? After endless torments of mind and body, God, taking pity on his fugitive slave, so consoled me that I no longer doubted that I had been granted forgiveness. Thus in tears I cursed myself, I sought forgiveness and I renewed my vow to openly embrace His true worship and finally I dedicated myself wholly to Him. And so it came about that the image of death placed before me in earnest aroused in me the slumbering and buried desire for the true life, and that this disease for me was the beginning of true health … And as soon as I could leave my bed, having severed all my ties and gathered my possessions, I once and for all abandoned my country, parents and friends to follow Christ, and together with my wife I retired into voluntary exile in Geneva.”(1)


(1) D. Bruce Hindmarsh, The Evangelical Conversion Narrative: Spiritual Autobiography in Early Modern England, Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2008, Page 276

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