CALVIN TO BUCER.
Although your letter contained a mixture of good and bad news, it however gave me great satisfaction. I wish I could, in some measure at least, alleviate the sorrow of your mind, and those cares with which I perceive you are distressed. We all beseech you, again and again, not to wear yourself out without advantage. It is not, indeed, consistent with your piety, nor becoming, nor at all wished by us, that you should be cheerful and joyous, while there are such great and multiplied causes for mourning.
You ought, however, as much as possible, to preserve yourself for the Lord and the church. You have, indeed, run a long race; but you know not how much still remains to you. Perhaps I, who have advanced but a small distance from the goal, am nearer the end of my race. The direction and termination of our course are in the hand of God. That I may be still more active, amidst the dangers which threaten me on every hand, I make use of the numerous deaths, which are daily taking place before my eyes. In England, you are exercised with battles, while in this city we cherish dilatory fears. I hope, however, that your internal commotions are settled, as report says, that you have a truce with the French. I wish the conditions of a lasting peace could be established; for we see the fencing master, who is exciting the two kingdoms against each other, laughing in idleness, and watching the fortune of both, that he may attack the victor, with all his strength, and spoil the conquered without labor or bloodshed; thus triumphing over both, he will seize them as his prey. But considering the corrupt counsels which govern France, I despair of this peace. They fear the emperor beyond measure; but while they proudly despise others, they are not aware of his cunning. The Lord is surely, by this blindness, punishing their atrocious cruelty against the pious, which, as I understand, daily increases. I wish, as impiety gathers strength, and waxes more violent in France, that the English, by a rival spirit of emulation, would contend for the substance and purity of Christianity, until they see every thing established among them according to the perfect rule of Christ.
I have, as you wished, and as the present state of affairs required, endeavored to exhort the Lord Protector. It will be your duty to insist, by all means, if you can obtain an audience, which I am persuaded you may, that the ceremonies which savor in the least of superstition should be abolished from the public service. This I expressly recommend to you, that you may free yourself from that reproach, with which you know many have unjustly loaded you; for the adviser of public measures is always considered as their author, or at least approver. This suspicion is so strongly fixed in the mind of some, that you will not easily erase it with your utmost exertions. Some maliciously calumniate you, without any cause. This is an evil in some measure without remedy, and you will not be able wholly to escape its influence. Care must be taken to give no cause of suspicion to the ignorant, nor any pretext for calumny to the wicked. I regret very much, that N — is so troublesome to you without cause. I could wish him to learn some humanity. I more easily pardon him, as he appears to be carried away, not so much by his perverseness, as by a blind impulse to be observed. You cannot conceive how atrociously he abuses us and our innocent and absent friends, he inveighed especially against Viret, who was undeservedly oppressed by the iniquity of some, and the perfidy of others. He violently pursued him, as he would the most abandoned betrayer of the church. He would certainly accustom himself to mildness, if he observed the noxious intemperance of his too fervid zeal and immoderate austerity. This indignity you must receive, with other evils, with your accustomed equanimity. The church of Zurich would not approve his cause. On this subject, I disagree with you, as you think we injure our adversaries. You suppose that they never too grossly blundered, as to imagine that the body of Christ was extended every where. But you forget what Brentius among others has written, that Christ, when he lay in the manger, was glorious in heaven, etiam secundum corpus, even bodily.
That I may speak more openly, you know that the doctrine of the Papists is more modest and sober, than that of Amsdorf and his followers, who were as infatuated as the priestess of Apollo. You know how inhumanly Melancthon was treated, because he maintained some moderation. These deliriums necessarily drew with them idolatry. For what purpose is the sacrament of Luther to be adored, unless that an idol might be erected in the church of God. I have earnestly desired, that all these things might be buried. I have constantly insisted also, with the greatest firmness among our neighbors, that they should abstain from all invectives. To satisfy them I have not hesitated to condemn all those errors, without calling them by name, to which I could by no means give my assent. Concerning the word place, you certainly appear to argue with too much subtlety. The obscurity more severely offends others, which they say you artfully and designedly used. I am confident, however, that in this respect they err. But I do not see why you so diligently avoid what we teach, since Christ is said to have ascended into heaven; by which expression we understand distances of places to be expressed. We do not dispute whether there is a place in celestial glory, but whether the body of Christ is in this world.
Since this question is clearly determined by the Scriptures, I do not hesitate to embrace it for an article of my faith. And yet, as you will find it in our book, it was granted to the moroseness of some, not without opposition; for I had tempered the expressions otherwise. As this formula which we had used contained nothing but what I thought was true, religion did not require that it should be given up for others. You piously and prudently wish, that the effect of the sacraments, and what God confers through them, should be explained more clearly and copiously than many will endure. The fault does not lie with me, that some things were not more distinctly illustrated. Let us lament and still submit to those things which we are not permitted to correct. You will have inclose in this letter, a copy of the writing which they remitted to me. The two points which you feared they would reject, they willingly embraced. If others had followed the mildness of Bullinger, I should have easily obtained every thing I wished. It is well, however, that we agree in the truth and hold unitedly the chief doctrines of religion. If you had accommodated your Theses a little only in two points, you would have rendered them most appropriate. You should have stated distinctly, that Christ is bodily separated from us who are in this world, by the distance of places: You should have rejected decidedly all the inventions, by which the minds of men are hitherto drawn into superstition and expressly vindicated the glory of the Holy Spirit of Christ, so that their efficacy should not be transferred to the ministers, or the elements.
The commencement of the conference, for establishing the union of opinion, presented nothing but despair. The light shone forth, the most eminent members, on their part, were desirous to communicate with other churches. We cheerfully consented. The dissension of N — must be borne with an equal mind. Farel will write you a copious letter. Viret does not presume to write. You cannot conceive how unjustly he is treated. He salutes you most affectionately, and begs you to excuse him. My colleagues salute you with respect. There is nothing now here, except that Zurich and Bern have cut off all hopes of a league with France. Farewell, most beloved man, and my much respected father in the Lord.