Monday, July 27, 2009

Whether It Be To Die Or Live

A selection from a letter by John Calvin to the persecuted Protestant churches in France. A new king had ascended the throne in France, Francis II, and the persecution of evangelical believers had multiplied. Calvin charged them to be courageous and honor Christ, whether by life or by death. The letter was written from Geneva in November, 1559.

So then Satan, on the one hand, is contriving everything to trouble the poor brethren to make them swerve from the truth and turn aside from the path of salvation. With unbridled rage he vents against them all his spite.

While on the other hand, God mean while assists them, and though they suffer extreme anguish according to the weakness of the flesh, yet still do they persevere in the confession of his name. In that you see they are victorious.

Should then the cruelty of the adversaries, which in spite of all their efforts is vanquished, have more weight with you to deaden your hearts, than that power from on high, with which God aids his children, ought to have to increase in you the perseverance which you should maintain in his truth? You see the assistance of God which remains victorious and will you not repose your confidence in it? You see the faith which triumphs in the martyrs, who endure death, and shall it be the cause of annihilating yours?

Wherefore, my brethren, when the tyrants exhaust all their fury, learn to turn your eyes to contemplate the succor which God affords his followers; and seeing that they are not forsaken by him, take new comfort and cease not to war against the temptations of your flesh, till you have attained the full conviction that we are happy in belonging to Christ whether it be to die or to live.

John Calvin: Tracts and Letters, edited by Jules Bonnet and translated by David Constable, first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858, republished by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, vol. 7, pp. 83-84.


Predestined said...

Dean: I have just re-read Calvin's letter to the King recently. It is a masterpiece in itself. You have in this posting caught a glimpse of the pastoral genius of the French Maestro.

Dean Olive said...

Dear Predestined,

You are absolutely correct. The entire letter is outstanding, and it isn't a short letter either. So much insight from the great Reformer. What an encouragement.

Thanks for commenting on it.