Farel's First Preaching in Geneva
The subject of Farel's first sermon was the Holy Scriptures; he maintained that they were the only source of divine knowledge, and the only authority on earth to which the conscience of man was subjected. He denounced the traditions of the Fathers and the decrees of Councils as having no authority over the conscience in the sight of God. His second subject was the full and free forgiveness of all sin, on the ground of the work of Christ on the cross. This pardon was free to the chief of sinners, through faith in Christ; papal pardons had to be bought with money or with penance. We can imagine the burning zeal of the preacher, placing the absolute truth of God in striking contrast with the mere superstitions of the papacy, and many through grace believing.
When the canons and priests gained information of his proceedings, they were in a state of great dismay. They had heard of his desolating work in the Pays de Vaud. He was instantly arrested and carried before the council. As usual on all such occasions, it was alleged that he was an enemy to the civil government, a trumpet of sedition. Farel replied: "That he was no instrument of sedition, but only a preacher of the truth; that he was prepared to lay down his life for the divine doctrine; that the patronage of Berne was a sufficient guarantee for his honesty; that he had a right to a public and impartial trial; and that this could not be refused him without offence to God, and to the gospel, and to the lords of Berne." This last consideration had weight with the council, as Geneva was in alliance with Berne; so Farel was dismissed with an admonition to refrain from further preaching.
But the clergy were not so easily satisfied as the town council. Farel and Saunier were summoned to appear before the episcopal tribunal, under the pretext of discussing the question in dispute. And then, indeed, William Farel at least might have perished from private violence, had not two magistrates accompanied them as deputies from the council. Some of the clergy had arms concealed under their sacerdotal robes. But Farel was undaunted, notwithstanding the unbridled fury of the clergy. He demanded that his doctrines should be heard, assailed, and defended in public disputation. This was, of course, refused. Farel, then, with great boldness defended his doctrine, concluding with these words: "I have no authority but that of God, whose messenger I am." "He hath spoken blasphemy," exclaimed one of the judges, "What further need have we of witnesses? he is guilty of death. Away with him! to the Rhone! to the Rhone! Better that the wicked Lutheran die, than live and trouble the people." "Speak the words of God," Farel quickly replied, "not the words of Caiaphas!" On which all the assembly cried aloud with one voice, "Kill the Lutheran, kill him!" They closed round the two evangelists, the priests were pulling out their arms, and both must have perished, but for the interposition of the two magistrates. They were ordered forthwith to leave the city. (MILLER'S CHURCH HISTORY - P. 1018)
If the local S.H. is against what is written in the paragraph above, then what is the reason for their existence in the world?