Elijah Waterman.

Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters online

. (page 23 of 34)
Online LibraryElijah WatermanMemoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters → online text (page 23 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

in great numbers, — the Bishops of Ratisbon, Augs})urg,
Spires, Bremen, Saltzburg, Brescia, Worms, Bamberg,

Hildeshcim, and some others. It would be in vain

to conjecture Avhat will Ije the result of this Diet. The
minds of the confederates ^\ ere enraged against Henry of
Brunswick, who persecutes them with his infamous libels.
They petitioned the Emperour to discard him as a calum-
niator, if they should prove that he had attacked their re-
putation by the most impudent lies. I see no method for
the settlement of this matter, unless it is carried before the
imperial Chamber y^ for the Landgrave has refused to sub-
mit this controversy to the decision of the Emperour as
Umpire. Although this is not the main busine?^s, it will
disturb the commencement of the Diet, and may possi!)ly ex-
tensively s-lTect us in the result.

The Emperour, convinced of the present confusion of his
affairs, ^\ill not willingly excite new troubles for hiii^Felf.
An expected attack fron> the Turks awakens his fears. With
the King of France, he has a doubtful peace, with the
hazard of war in the issue. Various rumours are circulating
about the Grand Turk. Tliat Hungarian IMonk, who, after
the death of King John, had taken the guardianship of the
Prince, jealous of FerdinancJ, sought assistance from the Turk ;

* A tribunal composed of judges named p;a-tly by the Emperour, and
partly by the States, and vested wiUi the power to decide finally all
differences among- the irembcrs of the Gcrnianlc body. Htcs' Cy.

2m LIFE OF CALVIN. letteks.

he sent only a few troops to his aid, which however attacked
Pest J a city in the possession of Ferdinand, on the Danube,
opposite Buda. An army was levied to force thefii to raise
the seige. And now some report, that the Turk, having
made great preparations, is advancing with a large army ;
others say that these preparations were made to quell domes-
tick disturbances. We shall soon ascertain the object, for it
must be something of weight to detain him from attacking
the Walachians. These people revolted from those tyrants
into whose power they had delivered themselves. The Pa-
latine of their own, the pupil of the Turk, was placed over
them. Wearied with his cruelties, they preferred the most
hazardous attempts for deliverance, to the bondage of his do-
minion. Having killed the Palatine last winter, they de*
stroyed every thing which belonged to the Turk ; and hav-
ing chosen a new leader, whom they obliged to swear eternal
enmity to the Turk, they took the strongly fortified citadel,
which had been built with wonderful expedition, near the
frontiers of Poland. If he leaves this insult unrevenged, he
must be occupied elsewhere. I hope this may be the case,
that while he is healing his wounds we may have some leisure
to collect our forces and arrange our affairs. The King of
Poland may greatly assist his neighbours, unless his dominions
are molested by the Tartars, who the last winter made an ir-
ruption, and ravaging his territories, attempted to proceed
farther. However this may be, the Emperour wishes to put
the affairs of Germany into a more composed state, until he
has extricated himself from these perplexities ; and will not
excite any troubles at this tixue, unless driven to it by the
pressing importunity of our enemies. The confederatee are
desirous of having an audience ; and if they can hope for no
confidence or lasting peace, until there is an agreement in re-
ligious matters, and the Churches established in order, they
will urge the Imperial Chamber to consider this subject


with care and attention. They are anxious that all di^soti-
sions should be ended without tumult, and detesting war as
the certain ruin of this country, they shew themselves the
decided enemies of all violent measures.

Our opponents are divided into three parties. Tjie fifst
are for proclaiming war, and openly raved because it was
not commenced the first day. Of this class, the leaders are
the Elector of Mentz, the Bavarian Dukes, Henry of Bruns-
wick, and his brother the Bishop of Bremen. The second
class wish to consult the good of their country, whose ruin or
devastation they foresee will be tlie calamitous effect of waj*,
and they of course exert all their powers to eifcct a peace of
any kind without a settlement of religion. The third would
willingly admit a tolerable correction of ecclesiastical doc-
trine and discipline, but being either deficient in the know-
ledge of the truth, or in fortitude to avow themselves abettors
of these opinions, they go forward apparently seeking only the
publick tranquillity. Among this class are the Bishop of Co-
logne and the Bishop of Augsburg among the Ecclesiasticks ;
both of the brothers of the Palatine, Otho, their grandson, and
perhaps the Duke of Cleves, among the Princes. Those arc
the small number who are endeavouring to excite tumults,
and being opposed by all the good, they cannot eflfect their
wishes. The mind of the Emperour is entirely inclined to
peace, and to obtain it he will contend with all his strength,
putting oJT his care for the cause of religion to some future
time. The confederates Avill not easily yield to tjiis, but
persist in demanding the reformation of the Church. A\'e
hope to elTect something.

The Pope's Legate, with his usual solemnity, entreats us
cot to determine on violent measures ; but violent measures-, iu
his view, are any discussions about religion, or any consulta-
tion concerning the reformation of the Church, held witlmirt
the authority of his master. They openly profess to cncour-

mo LIFE OF CALVIN. i.e1teks.

age the diet wltich we ask, and still secretly oppose its ap-
pointment by great promises and high threats. Contarinus
professes to \\'ish that we might be subdued without ]:)lood-
shed ; but if this cannot be done, and the Emperour will have
recourse to arms, they are prepared to furnish him with large
sums of money. While at the same time, if he yields to any
measure disagreeable to the Romish tyrant, they threaten
him with those thunders with which they are accustom-ed to
shake the whole earth. The state of things in Italy makes
the Emperour anxious for his power. If he can, he will
therefore take refuge there, in order, without meddling with
religion, to place Germany in a more composed state, by a
temporary peace, or a truce for a few years. In this he will
be opposed. Thus you see that affairs are in such obscurity,
that there is no place for probable conjecture. In these per^
plexities, let i+s invoke the name of the Lord, and beseech,
him to govern, ])y his wisdom, this great and weighty cause^
£0 deeply interesting to his glory and the safety of hi^
Church ; and to manifest, in this crisis, that nothing is more
precious in his sigiit, than that celestial wi'^dom which he
has revealed to us in the Gospel, and those souis which he
has redeemed by the sacred blood of his Son. In propor-
tion as all things are uncertain, we must stir up our minds
vv^ith the more assiduous zeal in our supplications. Casting
our views over the whole progress of our affairs, we find that
the Lord has governed events in a Avonderful manner, with-
out the aid or the counsels of men ; and made them prosper-
ous beyond all our most sanguine hopes. In these difficul-
ties, let us rest entirely on that ^visdom and power which he
has so often displayed in our protection. One circumstance
terrifies me, that our friends are in so great security ; with
this I am struck with consternation, to see that new offejices
are daily committed as the syrtjhyttf^ix. or rather ^vcyu^ax, I
am not however ewtirely d^iscouraged.- I have lately received'


a letter from Viret, which I answered briefly, that it was not
convenient to deliberate on that subject at present. I wish,
my Farel, that I could depart from this place to-morrow,
but what shall I do ? I am bound here, and fear I shall
pine away with tediousness and disgust. Farewell, dear bro-
ther. Salute, in my name, all the brethren, Thomas and
Michael, who will be greatly afflicted at the contents of this
letter, and Cordier, my old Preceptor, and the rest.
Ratisbon, March 2S, 1541.


Luther to Melancthon.

My dear Philip, I have just received your last letter. — I
am grieved that your influence, so favourable to the cause of
truth, should be in any degree diminished ; but my confi-
dence rests on the extent neither of your powers nor my own.
Our affairs are managed, not by chance, but by the establish-
ed counsel of the living God, who does not indeed always
direct events in a manner the most agreeable to our wishes.
The word is progressing, prayer is fervent, hope is animated,
faith overcomes, and thus we are compelled to be submis-
sive ; and were we not in the body, we might take our ease,
and rejoice in festivity, remembering the command of I\Io-
ses — Hold 7/c your peace, the Lord shall fight for you. For
although we may be anxious to determine, to say and do ev-
ery thing with the most vigilant circumspection in another
manner, yet if the Lord docs not fight, we shall watch in vain ;
if he lights, we shall not sleep in vain. It is certain that the
Lord fights for Israel, and is descending slo^\ ly, and with
measured step, from his throne, to accomplisli his long ex-
pected counsel. There are very mnny >igns, which impress
lue with this persuasion. Things are safe in your houses,


282 LIFE OF CALVIN. x,eii£rs,

thanks to be to God. Do not fear, be joyful and of good
courage, anxious for nothing. The Lord is at hand. Let
the Henries, the Bishops, the Turks, and Satan himself d o
what they can. We are the sons of the kingdom, who wor-
ship and wait on the Saviour, who is continually spit on and
crucified by these Henries.
April 22, 1541.


Calvin to Farel.

It is painful on many accounts to be here ; but in ex-
tending my view over the whole business, I shall never re-
pent of having come. You may think that I trifle, but I under-
stand perfectly well what I say. And you will know, Avhen .
we have the pleasure of an interview, that I have a good
reason for my assertion. Now give attention, and collect as
much as you can from my nai'ration.#

Our advocates passed from the subject of original sin,
without difficulty. The disputation on free will followed,
and was amicably settled, according to the opinion of Au-
gustine. This harmony was somewhat interrupted by the
contention about the meritorious cause of justification. At
length, a formula was presented ; and, after passing through
various corrections on both sides, it was admitted. It
will doubtless surprise you, tliat our adversaries made con-
cessions so extensively favourable to our cause. I enclose a
copy of the formula. The confederates have retained the
principal doctrines of divine truth, and nothing was admit-
ted into this formula contradictory to the scriptures. You
will, without question, desire a more full explanation, and in
this respect we shall be perfectly agreed. But a moment's

* The first session of the Diet was held April 5th, 1541.


reflection, upon the characters of the persons with wliom wo
have to transact this business, will convince you, that ^^'e
have effected much beyond oui' expectations. In the dcii-
uition of the Church, the advocates were agreed ;# but an
extensive and unyiehling controversy arose about tlie govern-
ment ; and the article, by mutual consent, was omitted. On
the sacraments, they had some warm contention ; ])ut ^^llen
ours admitted, that tlie ceremonies were a medium, they
proceeded to the Supper. This was an insurmountal)Ie rock.
Changing the bread and wine into the real body and blood of
Christ, replacing the host, carrying it about, and other super-
stitious practices, were rejected. This was considered, by the
Romish advocates, as an insufferable step. Bucer, my col-
league, being wholly bent on unity, was incensed that these
controverted questions were moved so prematurely. IMe-
lancthon was inclined to the opinion, that all hope of pacifi-
cation should be cut off, about things so entirely corrupt.
Our advocates, having assembled us for consultation, demand-
ed our individual opinions. We were unanimous, in our
judgment, that transubstantiation was a mere fiction ; that
laying up the host was superstitious ; and that the worship
paid to it was idolatry, or at least very pernicious, as it was not
warranted by the word of God. I was requested to give
my opinion in Latin, and although I understood not the
opinions of the others, I freely, and without fear of giving
ofTence, condemned the doctrine of the heal presence, and
declared that the worshipping of the host was intolerable.
Believe me, in such cases, determined and resolute minds
have a very great influence in establishing the opinions of oth-
ers. Cease not to pray to God to support us ;vith the spirit

* The advocates to manage tlie business in the Diet, appointed by the
Emperour, were for the Catholicks, JuHus Ptlug-ius, John Eckius and John
Gropher — for the confederates, Philip Melancibon, Martin U'lc^r ynd John
Pistorius, Uupin, ICth cent, bock ?, p. IC?.

284 LIFE OF CALVIN. i-etters.

of fortitude, Melaticthon drew up a writing, which being
presented to Granville, was rejected with abusive language,
which our three advocates announced to us. If, at the very
commencement of the discussion, we have to encounter such
difficulties, what an accumulation of them still remains to in-
terrupt our progress, through the examination of the private
mass, the sacrifice and communication of the cup ? What
obstacles will lie across our way when we come to the open
profession of the real presence ? What tumults will then be
i'aised ? Your letters were delivered to me by Plumarius, a
month after they were written. I expect to receive others
shortly. The safety of the brethren is in my view a matter
of great anxiety, Jjut the obstacles I have mentioned still
prevent our success. Maurus has been commissioned on
that business, and is still labouring to unloose that knot.
We have increased reason to animate our hopes. The Land-
grave, being disappointed in his sanguine expectations of
success, in obtaining assistance from others, will now turn his
attention to us. If this takes plaqe, he will most resolutely es-
pouse our cause ; and Maurus, being a pious and determin-
ed man, will exert liis whole strength in our favour. He
has hitherto behaved himself with fidelity. Nothing, how-
ever, has yet been obtained, but that our brethren should,
upon acquitting themselves by oath before the Bishop, be per-
mitted to return home unmolested. N — — is very troublesome
to us. IMay the Lord remove him, or amend him. Salute the
brethren. Philip and Bucer salute you. On the day before
yesterday, when we dined with the LandgravC; friendly men-
tion was made of you.
PvAXisBON, May 11, 1541



Calvin to Farel.

The messenger having delayed his departure a day Ion-
ger than I expected, I ^\Tite again, to mention some
things which have taken place, and A\luch may be interest-
ing to you. Granville, although he had destroyed ])y his
answer all hope of agreement, when he heard of tlie apo-
plexy of Eckius, whose importunity he perhaps supposed
had prevented the agreement, commanded that Pistorius
should also be excluded, and that the other four should pro-
ceed in their consultations without a\ itnesses. As fur as I
could understand, our advocates might have easily accom-
plished the business, if we would have been contented to be
half Christians. Philip and Bucer framed an ambiguous and
deceptive confession concerning transubstantiation, endea-
vouring, as far cis possible, to satisfy their adversaries, without
yielding any thing. I am not pleased with tliis method of
proceeding. They however have a motive which guides
them. They indulge the hope that the things aa ill manifest
themselves, \vhenever there shall be an opening for the true
doctrines. They prefer to pass over present diliiculties, re-
gardless of the consequences of that Ik'xible mode of expres-
sion. But in my opinion, this "v\ ill be very mjurious to the
cause. I am persuaded, however, that they have the I)c.st
interests of religion at heart, and are extremely anxious to
advance the kingdom of Christ. Our advocates are decided
and prompt to every thing; but in their intercourse wit:i
our opponents they are too temporizing. It grieves me, that
Bucer is exciting against himself the displeasure of so many
persons. Being conscious of his own integrity, he expects
more security from it than circun]stanccs will a\ arrant. A\'e

286 LIFE OF CALVIN. metiers.

slioiild not be so satisfied with our purity of conscience as to
throw off all regard to the opinions of our brethren. But
ivhile I lament these things with you, my Fare!, suffer them,
by no means, to escape from you. One thing, however,
among all tliese evils, is very pleasant to me, tJiat Brentius
surpasses others in his opposition to the impanated God,^ as
he calls it. I wiil say no more, that you may be the more
anxious at my return to see me. Farewell, my dear brother.
Freithus, Musculus and Brentius, and all our friends, salute
you. Eckius, it is said, is convalescing. The world does not
yet merit deliverance from that ferocious man.
PtATisBON, May 12, 1541.


Calvin to Farel.
^^ Since the time of our first difference on the subject

of the Eucharist, we have never been able to agree upon any
question. You know that our opinion was unanimous, that
transubstantiation was a mere fiction, at war with the word of
of God, and with the very nature of a sacrament ; that wor-
shipping the host, as being the real body and blood of Jesus
Christ, is idolatry, or something very dangerous •, and that
preserving it is mere superstition. Our three advocates per-
sisting in this opinion, Granville inveighed bitterly against
Philip, supposing that if he could bring him to give up these
points, he should have no dilBculty with the others. But as
Melancthon remained inflexible, he directed them to proceed
to other oucstions. The Marquis of Brandenburg, with the

* Iwpaiiaivvi Dewn, an expression signifying the opinion of the Lu.
thei'ans, concerning' the Eucharist, that the body and blood of Christ
are really z??, yvill: or 7inder the dread a77dvjir],e 3.fter consG.CTa.{'ion.



knowledge of the Emperour, had privately sent one of lliti
Princes of Anhalt, Amhassadoiu* to Liilhcr, Iiopiiig to obtain,
on account of former dispute?, soniethiiii; more favoura])Ie to
the Papist?, than what we ^\ ere ail determined to i^a'ant. TJie
Yesult of this embassy I have not learned ; I presume however
that Lather's answer is not unfavouraljlc to us. There re-
main yet three questions concerning the Euchari?t to pass im-
der discussion, the sacrifice of tlic mass, private masses, and
the distribution of both elements. The adversaries, having
consented to a])olish the pu])Iick sale and multitude of masses,
retained only one daily mass in eacli Church. By the same
concession it mus agreed, that the mass should not be exposed
except in a public meeting ; and that exhortation should be
given at the conununion. They consented that the partici-
pation of the cup should be free to every one that requested
it. That the mass was a sacrifice they attempted to shoAv
by sophistical expositions, and you may cojijecture very well
from w hence they collected them. Those things were all re-
jected by our advocates ; and Philip presented some articles
on the other side of the question. They then proceeded to
the confession of sins, on which point our adversaries disco-
vered more moderation. They did not require a scrupulous
enumeration of oAences, but insisted upon the necessity of con-
fession and absolution. Our advocates presented a fornmhi
in opposition to their opinions. The invocation of saints,
tlie primacy of the Pope, and the authority of the Church,
beuig brought up at once they could not agree, i'dl our ar-
ticles were then added to the book of Concord.^;^- The Em-
perour, in the most liberal and pleasant manner, returned his
thanks to the collocutors, for liaving ftiithfuliy performed
their allotted duty. Cha'rles then referred the result of the

• The book oT Concoi\l \Tas, by tlie Ilinpcrovir'-s ouU-r, presented to
the advocates by (.Jranvillc, as tlie ground uf union: the lUiWlcstunl ar-
ticles and cxcc]nions were addtd to it.

- '88 LIFE OF CALVIN. ^j,„„3.

deliberations to the Imperial Chamber of the German States
But as nothing could be settled without the book of Concord*
It was brought before that Court with all the articles which
had been added. The Emperour soon repented of this sub-
mission of the business to the heads of the Empire. The
Imperial Chamber however msisted, that what had been once
decreed should not be revoked. ^Vhile this business was
proceeding, the Senate were ordered to give audience to the
Ambassadours of Hungary and Austria, who humbly suppli-
cated that assistance should be aiforded them. The Empe
rour insisted also, that the Imperial Chamber should lay aside
the consultation about religion, and turn their attention to
the objects of this petition. As soon as I saw this truce was
agreed to by the Ordincs, I seized the opportunity and made
my escape.-I have given you an abridgment of the history of
the transactions of the Diet ; the details and more secret circum-
stances I will relate to you at some future interview. I wi«h
you had succeeded in obtaining Bucer's return. As to what an-
pertains to the brethren who are suffering for the Gospel, I
have not effected what I wished. The cause demanded an
embassy of some weight which the times, that is, the vicious
mcmations of men, will not gi-ant. Farewell, my dearest
brother— The Lord preserve you all.
Stkaseueo, July 154,1,


Calvin- to Farei.

I am retained here as you wished ; which may God grant
to be for his glory. Viret still continues with me, nor will I
suffer him by any means to be torn from me. It is your
duty, and that of all the brethren, to afford me assistance,
i.nless you wish mc t. be tormented and miserable, without.


doing any good to the cause. I reported the labours of my
office to the Senate, and assured them of the impossibility
of settling the Church on any permanent foundation, unless
a system of discipline was adopted, such as is prcscriljed by
the word of God, and was observed by the ancient Cliurch'.
I treatbd upon certain points, which might sufliciently ex-
plain my wishes. And without entering upon the whole
ground, I requested them to appoint some members 'vvho
might confer with us on the subject. They chose a conr-
mittee of six. Articles concerning the whole polity of tho
Church will be drawn up, which Ave shall lay before the Senate.
Our three colleagues pretend that they will consent to wliat-
ever Viret and myself shall judge expedient. Something
will be eifected. We are anxious to hear ho\v^ luattcrs pro-
gress in your Church. We hope, through the authoi-ity of
the Bernese and the Biellese, that the commotions are at
least allayed, if not terminated. When fighting against the
Devil, under the banner of Christ, he who armed and di-
rected you to the battle, will give you the victory. But a
good cause requires a good defender ; take heed, therefore,
and give diligence, that those qualifications may be found in
you which command the approbation of good men. We do
not exhort j^ou to preserve a pure and undefiled conscience ;
of this we do not doubt. But this we desire, that you would
be as accommodating to the people, as your duly will allow.
There are, you know, two kinds of popularity. The one is,
when we obtain approbation, by our ambition and desire of
pleasing ; the other, when by moderation and equity, we ei;
tice the minds of others to yield themselves to us with a plea-
sant docility. Pardon us, if we use too much freedom with
you, for on this point, we perceive that you do not fully
satisfy the virtuous. If in nothing else, you transgress in
this, that you do not satisfy those to \vhom the Lord has
mjKle you a debtor. You know how much we respect, how

290 LIFE OF CALVIN. letters,

raucli we love you. This love and tliis respect impel us to
censure you with this exaet and rigid severity. We ardent-
ly desire, that those excellent gifts, which the Lord has be*

Online LibraryElijah WatermanMemoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin : together with a selection of letters → online text (page 23 of 34)