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  • JOHN CALVIN'S WRITINGS -
    LETTER 17.


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    CALVIN TO CRANMER, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, WISHES HEALTH.

    Illustrious Sir, — You prudently judge, that in this confused state of the church, no remedy more appropriate can be applied, than that pious and resolute men, exercised in the school of God, should meet among themselves, and publicly profess their agreement in the doctrines of religion. We see by how many arts Satan is endeavoring to destroy the light of the gospel, which as arisen by the wonderful goodness of God, and is extending its beams in every direction. The mercenary parasited of the pope do not cease their railing, to prevent the preaching of the pure word of Christ. Licentiousness so much prevails, and impiety has so increased, that religion is but a little removed from public mockery. Those who are not the professed enemies of the gospel are even now affected by that lascivious impudence, which will shortly, unless counteracted, produce among us the most shameful confusion. It is not merely among the ignorant class of men, that this feverish and foolish curiosity and immoderate impudence reign; but what is more shameful, it is much too prevalent among the order of pastors, it is too well known, with what delusive madness Osiander deceives himself, and fascinates some others.

    The Lord, indeed, as he has done from the beginning of the world, can wonderfully, in ways unknown to us, preserve the unity of the true faith, and prevent its destruction from the dissensions of men. It is his will however, that those whom he has appointed to watch should by no means sleep; as he has determined, by the labors of his ministering servants, to purge the pure doctrine in the church, from the pure doctrine in the church, from all corruptions, and to transmit it unblemished to posterity. It is especially your duty, most accomplished Prelate, as you sit more elevated in the watch-tower, to continue your exertions for effecting this object. I do not say this, to stimulate you afresh; as you have already, of your own accord, preceded others, and voluntarily exhorted them to follow your steps. I would only confirm you in this auspicious and distinguished labor by my congratulation. We have heard of the delightful success of the gospel in England. I doubt not, but you have experienced the same trials, which Paul met with in his time: that the door being opened for the pure doctrine, many adversaries suddenly rise up against its reception. I know you have among you many advocates, capable of refuting the falsehoods of the adversary; but still, the wickedness of those, who exert all their arts to make disturbance, proves that the most intense sedulity of the good will neither be too ardent nor superfluous. I know moreover, that your purpose is not confined to England alone; but, at the same moment, you consult the benefit of all the world. The generous disposition and uncommon piety of his Majesty, the king, are justly to be admired, as he is please to favor this holy purpose of holding such a council, and offers a place for its session in his kingdom. I wish it might be effected, that learned and stable men, from the principal churches, might assemble in some place, and, after discussing with care each article of faith, deliver to posterity, from their general opinion of them all, the clear doctrines of the Scriptures. It is to be numbered among the evils of our day, that the churches are so divided one from another, that there is scarcely any friendly intercourse strengthened between us; much less does that holy communion of the members of Christ flourish, which all profess with the mouth, but few sincerely regard in the heart. But if the principal teachers conduct themselves more coldly than they ought, it is principally the fault of the princes who, involved in their secular concerns, neglect the prosperity and purity of the church; or each one, contented with his own security, is indifferent to the welfare of others. Thus it comes to pass, that the members being divided, the body of the church lies disabled.

    Respecting myself, if it should appear that I could render any service, I should with pleasure cross ten seas, if necessary, to accomplish that object. Even if the benefit of the kingdom of England only was to be consulted, it would furnish a reason sufficiently powerful with me. But as in the council proposed, the object is to obtain the firm and united agreement of learned men to the sound rule of Scripture, by which churches now divided may be united with each other, I think it would be a crime in me to spare any labor or trouble to effect it. But I expect my slender ability to accomplish this will furnish me with sufficient excuse. If I aid that object by my prayers, which will be undertaken by others, I shall discharge my part of the business. Melancthon is so far from me, that our letters cannot be exchanged in a short time. Bullinger has perhaps answered you before this. I wish my ability was equal to the ardency of my desires. But what I at first declined, as unable to accomplish, I perceive the very necessity of the business now compels me to attempt. I not only exhort you, but I conjure you, to proceed, until something shall be effected, if not every thing you could wish. Farewell, most accomplished Prelate, sincerely respected by me. May the Lord go on to guide you by his Spirit, and bless your holy labors.

    —GENEVA.

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