Tuesday, September 15, 2009


A portion of a letter by John Calvin to his fellow reformer, Melanchthon. The letter reveals Calvin’s high regard and love for his friend, but he wrote to rebuke him for giving up ground that had been gained in the Reformation. Calvin addressed Melanchthon’s weakness in character in the desire to maintain a good reputation above adherence to the truth. The letter was written June 18, 1559.

Although I am fully persuaded that the fear of death never compelled you in the very least to swerve from the right path, yet I am apprehensive that it is just possible, that another species of fear may have proved too much for your courage. For I know how much you are horrified at the charge of rude severity. But we must remember, that reputation must not be accounted by the servants of Christ as of more value than life. We are no better than Paul was, who held fearlessly on his way through ‘evil and good report’ [2 Cor. 6:8]. It is indeed a hard and disagreeable thing to be reckoned turbulent and inflexible,—men who would rather see the whole world in ruin, than condescend to any measure of moderation. But your ears should have been deaf to such talk long ago. I have not so bad an opinion of you, nor will I do you the injustice, to suppose that you resemble the ambitious, and hang upon the popular breath. Yet I have no doubt but that you are occasionally weakened by those goadings…

You know why I am so vehement. I had rather die with you a hundred times, than see you survive the doctrines surrendered by you…

Adieu, most illustrious sir, and ever worthy of my hearty regard. May the Lord continue to guide you by his Spirit, and sustain you by his might; may his protection guard you. Amen.

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. 5, pp. 273-74.

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