CALVIN TO SIR JOHN CHEKE.
I have hitherto deferred writing to you, most excellent Sir, lest I should appear to seek something for which I had no inclination. Most of the friendships of the world are specious, and influenced by ambition and vanity. Few cherish sincerity; and few deserve our confidence, whose probity has not been tried. I have already often ventured to write to the king, to whom I have, with other servants of Christ, found access, by your care, under providence. For having hitherto omitted to write to you, I have a ready excuse. I apprehend that those, at whose request I wrote to him, would imagine that I had not sufficient confidence in them, if I entrusted the delivery of my letter to others; besides, there was no such familiarity between us, as would warrant me in giving you that trouble If I have erred in this, you will be pleased to impute it to my modesty, rather than my negligence. I have long since been induced to esteem you highly, from the fame of your eminent piety and distinguished learning. This one circumstance is sufficient to conciliate to you the minds of all good men, that while England has a king of the most amiable disposition, you have, by your labor, formed him to such a maturity of virtue, beyond his age, that he has extended his hand to the troubled and most afflicted church, in these unhappy times. Surely the Lord, in dignifying you with this honor, has not only bound those to you who reap the immediate fruit of your labors, but all those who desire the church of God to be restored, or the remnants of it to be collected. In testifying the esteem for you, which I have silently cherished with myself, I am persuaded that I shall not render you an unpleasant service. In the splendor of your fortune, you have no occasion for my personal assistance; and, being contented with my humble conditions, I would not, for my own sake, lay any additional burden upon you; but I would have a mutual good will cherished between us in this transitory life, until we shall enjoy substantial blessedness in heaven. In the mean time, let us labor to adorn, and, as much as in us lies, to extend and support the kingdom of Christ. We see the numerous, open and infections enemies, whose fury is daily increased and inflamed. And of the number of those, who have given their names to the gospel, how few labor with integrity to maintain the glory of God? How much coldness, or rather how much slothfulness, prevails among most of the chief men; and finally, how great is the stupidity of the world? Your willing exertions require no foreign excitements, and I trust you will take in good part those things I have suggested, as proper for each one assiduously to apply to himself.
But this I expressly ask of you, that if any time you shall judge, that his majesty the king may be excited by my expostulations, you will be pleased to advise and give counsel as the case may require. Farewell, most excellent and highly respected man. May the Lord guide you by his power, etc.
Geneva, February 13, 1553.