Calvin’s Correspondence in his Opera, vols. X.-XX. — Henry, III. 395-549 (Calvin’s Wirksamkeit nach aussen). — Staehelin, I. 505-588; II. 5 sqq.
159. Calvin’s Catholicity of Spirit
Calvin was a Frenchman by birth and education, a Swiss by adoption and life-work, a cosmopolitan in spirit and aim.
The Church of God was his home, and that Church knows no boundaries of nationality and language. The world was his parish. Having left the papacy, he still remained a Catholic in the best sense of that word, and prayed and labored for the unity of all believers. Like his friend Melanchthon, he deeply deplored the divisions of Protestantism. To heal them he was willing to cross ten oceans. Thus he wrote, in reply to Archbishop Cranmer, who had invited him (March 20, 1552), with Melanchthon and Bullinger, to a meeting in Lambeth Palace for the purpose of drawing up a consensus creed for the Reformed Churches. After expressing his zeal for the Church universal, he continues (Oct. 14, 1552): —
“I wish, indeed, it could be brought about that men of learning and authority from the different churches should meet somewhere, and after thoroughly discussing the different articles of faith, should, by a unanimous decision, deliver down to posterity some certain rule of doctrine. But amongst the chief evils of the age must be reckoned the marked division between the different churches, insomuch that human society can hardly be said to be established among us, much less a holy communion of the members of Christ, which, though all profess it, few indeed really observe with sincerity. But if the clergy are more lukewarm than they should be, the fault lies chiefly with their sovereigns, who are either so involved in their secular affairs, as to neglect altogether the welfare of the Church, and indeed religion itself, or so well content to see their own countries at peace as to care little about others; and thus the members being divided, the body of the Church lies lacerated.
“As to myself, if I should be thought of any use, I would not, if need be, object to cross ten seas for such a purpose. If the assisting of England were alone concerned, that would be motive enough with me. Much more, therefore, am I of opinion, that I ought to grudge no labor or trouble, seeing that the object in view is an agreement among the learned, to be drawn up by the weight of their authority according to Scripture, in order to unite Churches seated far apart. But my insignificance makes me hope that I may be spared. I shall have discharged my part by offering up my prayers for what may have been done by others. Melanchthon is so far off that it takes some time to exchange letters. Bullinger has, perhaps, already answered you. I only wish that I had the power, as I have the inclination, to serve the cause.”
This noble project was defeated or indefinitely postponed by the death of Edward VI. and the martyrdom of Cranmer, but it continues to live as a pium desiderium. In opposition to a mechanical and enforced uniformity, Calvin suggested the idea of a spiritual unity with denominational variety, or of one flock in many folds under one shepherd. This idea was taken up in our age by the Evangelical Alliance, the Pan-Anglican Council, the Pan-Presbyterian Alliance, the Pan-Methodist Conference, the Young Men’s Christian Associations, the Christian Endeavor Societies, and similar voluntary associations, which bring Christians of different churches and nationalities together for mutual conference and co-operation, without interfering with their separate organization and denominational preferences.
A lasting monument of Calvin’s catholicity is his immense correspondence, which fills ten quarto volumes of the last edition of his works, and embraces in all no less than forty-two hundred and seventy-one letters. He left to Beza a collection of manuscripts with discretionary power to publish from it what he deemed might promote the edification of the Church of God. Accordingly, Beza edited the first collection of Calvin’s letters eleven years after his death, at Geneva, 1575. This edition was several times republished, and gradually enriched by letters discovered in various libraries by Liebe, Mosheim, Bretschneider, Crottet, Jules Bonnet, Henry, Reuss, and Herminjard.
No theologian has left behind him a correspondence equal in extent, ability, and interest. In these letters Calvin discusses the profoundest topics of religion; he gives advice as a faithful pastor; administers comfort to suffering brethren; pours out his heart to his friends; solves difficult political questions, as a wise statesman, in the complications of the little Republic with Bern, Savoy, and France. Among his correspondents are all the surviving Reformers — Melanchthon, Bucer, Bullinger, Farel, Viret, Cranmer, Knox, Beza, Peter Martyr, John à Lasco; crowned heads — Queen Marguerite of Navarre, the Duchess Renée of Ferrara, King Sigismund Augustus of Poland, the Elector Otto Heinrich of the Palatinate, Duke Christopher of Würtemberg; statesmen and high officers, like Duke Somerset, the Protector of England, Prince Radziwil of Poland, Admiral Coligny of France, the magistrates of Zürich, Bern, Basel, St. Gall, and Frankfort; and humble confessors and martyrs to whom he sent letters of comfort in prison.
160. Geneva an Asylum for Protestants from All Countries
Calvin gave to Geneva a cosmopolitan character which it retains to this day. It became, through him, as already stated, the capital of the Reformed Churches, and was called the Protestant Rome. Philip II. of Spain wrote to the French king: “Geneva is the source of all misfortune to France, the refuge of all heretics, the most terrible enemy of Rome. I am ready at any time, with all the power of my kingdom, to aid in its destruction.” That city was, indeed, in the sixteenth century what North America has become, on a much larger scale, since the seventeenth century. It was an asylum for persecuted confessors of the evangelical faith without distinction of nationality, an impregnable moral fortress built upon the rock of the Bible.
Zürich, Basel, and Strassburg were the only places in that age which can be compared with Geneva in generous hospitality to strangers.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century the city of Geneva numbered 12,000 souls, in 1543 not more than 13,000; but in the seven years from 1543 to 1550 it increased to 20,000, or at the rate of 1000 a year. This increase was chiefly due to the continuous influx of persecuted Protestants from France, Italy, and England. Some came also from Spain and Holland. Most of them were educated men and not a few of them distinguished for learning and social position, as Cordier, Colladon, Etienne (Stephens), Marot, Ochino, Carraccioli, Knox, Whittingham. They had made sacrifices for the sake of religion, and thereby acquired the honor of confessors with the spirit of martyrs. There were special congregations for Italians and Englishmen, who were provided by the city with suitable places of worship. Calvin treated the refugees with great hospitality. He secured to them as far as possible the rights of citizenship. Some of them were even elected to the Large Council. An insult to a refugee from religious persecution was as punishable as an insult to a minister of the gospel. The favor and privileges accorded to these foreigners excited the envy and jealousy of the native Genevese, who opposed their admission to citizenship and their right to carry arms. This exclusive nativism gave Calvin a great deal of trouble.
The little Republic of Geneva was continually exposed to the danger of absorption by Savoy, France, and Spain, which hated her as the stronghold of heresy. It was in a large measure due to the wisdom and firmness of Calvin that in those critical times she preserved her liberty and independence. He also resisted the repeated attempts of Bern to interfere with the doctrine and discipline of the Church.
Geneva offers a wonderful aspect in modern history. “Embracing the elite of three nations, melted into one whole by the spirit of one man, it continues in the midst of mighty and bitter foes, without any external support, simply through its moral force. It has no territory, no army, no treasures, no temporal, no material resources. There it stands, a city of the spirit, built of Christian stoicism on the rock of predestination.”
161. The Academy of Geneva. The High School of Reformed Theology
I. Calvin: Leges Academiae Genevensis, or L’Ordre du Collège de Genève, first published in Latin and French. Geneva, 1559. Republished by Charles Le Fort, professor of law at Geneva, on the third centennial of the founding of the Academy, June 5, 1859, and in Opera, X. 65-90.
II. Berthault: Mathurin Cordier. L’enseignement chez les premiers Calvinistes. Paris, 1876 (85 pp.). — Massebieau: Les colloques scolaires du seizième siècle et leurs auteurs. Paris, 1878. — Amiel et Bouvier: L’enseignement superieur à Genève depuis la fondation de l’académie jusqu’à 1876. Gen., 1878. Comp. Henry, III. 386 sqq.; Staehelin, II. 487-498; Gaberel, II. 109 sqq.; Buisson: Séb. Castellion (Paris, 1892), I. 121-151.
One of the most important institutions of Geneva which strengthened the Reformed religion at home, and extended it abroad, is the Academy founded by Calvin. Knowing that the ignorance of the Roman priesthood was a source of much superstition and corruption, he labored zealously for the education of the ministry and the whole people, and secured the best teachers, as Cordier, Saunier, Castellio, and Beza.
There was a college in Geneva, since 1428, called after its founder “College Versonnex,” for the training of the clergy; but it had fallen into decay, and was reorganized after Calvin’s return in 1541. Tuition was free. To avoid overcrowding and to bring the facilities of education within the reach of every youth, four elementary schools were established for each of the four quarters of the city. At first a small fee was charged, but it was abolished by the council after 1571, at the request of Beza. A much larger attendance was the effect. Calvin is sometimes called the founder of the common school system.
He wished to establish a full university with four faculties, but the limited means of the little Republic would not permit that; so he confined himself to an Academy. He himself collected for it from house to house 10,024 gold guilders, a very large sum for that time. Several foreign residents contributed liberally: Carraccioli, 2954; Pierre Orsières, 312; Matthieu de la Roche, 260 guilders. Of the native Genevese, Bonivard, the old champion of liberty, bequeathed his whole fortune to the institution. The Council put up a commodious building. Calvin drew up the programme of studies and the academic statutes, which, after careful examination, were unanimously approved.
The Academy was solemnly dedicated on June 5, 1559, in the church of St. Peter, in the presence of the whole Council, the ministers, and six hundred students. Calvin invoked the blessing of God upon the institution, which was to be forever dedicated to science and religion, and made some short and weighty remarks in French. Michael Roset, the Secretary of State, read the Confession of Faith and the statutes by which the institution was to be guided. Theodore Beza was proclaimed rector and delivered an inaugural address in Latin. Calvin closed with prayer. Ten able and experienced professors were associated with him for the different departments of grammar, logic, mathematics, physics, music, and the ancient languages. Calvin himself was to continue his theological lectures in connection with Beza.
The statutes which were read on this occasion lay great stress on French and Latin composition. The Latin authors to be studied are: Caesar, Livy, Cicero, Virgil, and Ovid; the Greek authors: Herodotus, Xenophon, Homer, Demosthenes, Plutarch, and Plato. There was also a special chair of Hebrew which was assigned to Chevalier, a pupil of Vatable and formerly tutor of Queen Elizabeth. Teachers and pupils had to sign the Apostles’ Creed and a confession of faith, which, however, wisely omitted the favorite dogma of predestination, and was abolished in 1576 in order to admit, Papists and Lutherans.” Religious exercises opened and closed the daily instructions.
The success of the school was extraordinary. No less than nine hundred young men from almost all the nations of Europe were matriculated in the first year as regular scholars, and almost as many, mostly refugees from France and England, prepared themselves by the theological lectures of Calvin for the work of evangelists and teachers in their native land. Among these was John Knox, the great Reformer of Scotland.
The Academy continued to flourish with some interruptions. It attracted students from all parts of Protestant Europe, and numbered among its teachers such men as Casaubon, Spangenheim, Hotoman, Francis and Alphonse Turretin, Leclerc, Pictet de Saussure, and Charles Bonnet It was the chief nursery of Protestant ministers and teachers for France, and the principle school of reformed theology and literary culture for more than two hundred years. A degree from that Academy was equivalent in Holland to a degree of any University. Arminius was sent there by the city of Amsterdam to be educated under Beza (1582), who gave him a good testimonial, not knowing that he would become the leader of a mighty reaction against Calvinism.
In 1859 the third centennial of the Academy was celebrated in Geneva.
The evangelistic work of that Academy was resumed and is successfully carried on in the spirit of Calvin by the Evangelical Society and the Free Theological Seminary of Geneva, which numbered among its first teachers Merle D’Aubigné, the distinguished historian of the Reformation.
162. Calvin’s Influence upon the Reformed Churches of the Continent
Calvin’s moral power extended over all the Reformed Churches, and over several nationalities — Swiss, French, German, Polish, Bohemian, Hungarian, Dutch, English, Scotch, and American. His religious influence upon the Anglo-Saxon race in both continents is greater than that of any native Englishman, and continues to this day.
Calvin and France
Calvin never entered French soil after his settlement in Geneva, and was not even a citizen of the Republic till 1559; but his heart was still in France. From the time he wrote that eloquent letter to Francis the First, in dedicating to him his Institutes, he followed the Protestant movement with the liveliest interest. He was the head of the French Reformation and consulted at every step. He was called as pastor to the first Protestant church in Paris, but declined. He gave to the Huguenots their creed and form of government. The Gallican Confession of 1559, also called the Confession of Rochelle, was, in its first draft, his work, and his pupil Antoine de la Roche Chandieu (also called Sadeel) brought it into its present enlarged shape, in which it was presented by Beza to Charles IX. at the Colloquy at Poissy, 1561, and signed at the Synod of La Rochelle, 1571, by the Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre; her son, Prince Henry of Navarre (Henry IV.); Prince Condé; Prince Louis, Count of Nassau; Admiral Coligny; Chatillon; several nobles, and all the preachers present.
The history of French Protestantism down to 1564 is largely identified with Calvin’s name. He induced the Swiss Cantons and the princes of the Smalkaldian League to intercede for the persecuted Huguenots. He sent messengers and letters of comfort to the prisoners. “The reverence,” says one of his biographers, “with which his name was mentioned, the boundless confidence reposed in his person, the enthusiasm of the disciples who hastened to him, or came from him, surpasses all the usual experience of men. Congregations appealed to him for preachers; princes and noblemen for decisive counsel in political complications; those in doubt for instruction; the persecuted for protection; the martyrs for exhortation and encouragement in cheerful suffering and dying. And as the eye of a father watches over his children, Calvin watched with untiring care of love over all these relations in their manifold ramifications, and sought to be the same to the great community of his brethren in France what he was to the little Republic at home.”
Roman Catholic writers have made Calvin responsible for the civil wars in France, as they have made Luther responsible for the Peasants’ War and the Thirty Years’ War. But the Reformers preached reformation by the word and the spirit, not revolution by the sword. The chief cause of the religious wars in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was the intolerance of the papacy. Bossuet charges Calvin with complicity in the conspiracy of Amboise, which was a political coup d’état to check the power of the Guises (1560). Calvin was indeed informed of the plot, but warned against it, first privately, then publicly, and predicted its disastrous failure. He constantly upheld the principle of obedience to the rightful magistrate, and opposed violent measures. “The first drop of blood,” he said, “which we shed will cause streams of blood to flow. Let us rather a hundred times perish than bring such disgrace upon the name of Christianity and the cause of the gospel.” Afterwards when a war in self-defence was inevitable, he reluctantly gave his consent, but protested against all excesses.
Calvin did not live to weep over the terrible massacre of St. Bartholomew’s day, nor to rejoice over the Edict of Nantes; but his spirit accompanied “the Church of the Desert,” whose motto was the burning bush (Exo_3:2); and every Huguenot who left France for the sake of his faith, carried to his new home in Switzerland, or Brandenburg, or Holland, or England, or America, a profound reverence for the name of John Calvin.
Calvin and the Waldenses
The Waldenses are the only mediaeval sect which survives to this day, because they progressed with the Reformation and adhered to the Bible as their rule of faith. They sent a deputation of two of their pastors, in 1530, to Oecolampadius at Basel, Bucer and Capito at Strassburg, and Berthold Haller at Bern, for information concerning the principles of the Reformation, and made common cause with the Protestants. They were distinguished for industry, virtue, and simple, practical piety, but their heresy attracted the attention of the authorities. They were cited before the Parliament at Aix, and the heads of their families were condemned to death in November, 1540. The execution of the atrocious sentence was delayed till the king’s wishes should be ascertained. In February, 1541, Francis granted them pardon for the past, but required them to recant within three months. They adhered to their faith. On the 28th of April, 1545, a fiendish scheme of butchery — under the direction of Baron d’Oppède, military governor of Provence, and Cardinal Tournon, the bigoted and bloodthirsty archbishop of Lyons — was carried out against these innocent people. Their chief towns of Merindol and Cabrières, together with twenty-eight villages, were destroyed, the women outraged, and about four thousand persons slaughtered.
Great numbers of the Waldenses sought refuge in flight. The noble and humane Bishop Sadolet of Carpentras, received them kindly, and interceded for them with the King. Four thousand went to Geneva. Calvin started a subscription for them, provided them with lodging and employment at the fortifications, and made every effort to get the Swiss Cantons to intercede with King Francis in behalf of those Waldenses who remained in France. He travelled to Bern, Zürich, and Aarau for this purpose. He even intended to go to Paris, but was prevented by sickness. The Cantons actually wrote to the king in the strongest terms, but he rebuked them for meddling with his affairs. Viret visited the French court with letters of recommendation from the Swiss Cantons and the Smalkaldian League, but likewise without result.
Since that time there has been a fraternal intercourse between the Waldenses and the French Swiss, and many of their most useful pastors were educated at Geneva and Lausanne. The Waldensian Confession of 1655 is Calvinistic and based upon the Gallican Confession of 1559. After many persecutions in their mountain homes in Piedmont, the Waldenses obtained freedom in 1848, and since that time, and especially since 1870, they have become zealous evangelists in the united kingdom of Italy, with a church even in Rome and a flourishing theological college in Florence.
Calvin in Germany
Calvin labored three years in Germany; he felt closely allied to the Lutheran Church; he had the profoundest regard for Luther, in spite of his infirmities; he was the intimate friend of Melanchthon; he attended three colloquies between Lutheran and Roman Catholic divines; he once signed, the Augsburg Confession (1541), as understood, explained, and improved by its author. He followed the progress of the Reformation in Germany step by step with the warmest interest, as is shown in his correspondence and various writings.
He did not labor for a separate Reformed Church in Germany, but for a free confederation of the Swiss and Lutheran Churches. But the fanatical bigotry of such men as Flacius, Westphal, and Heshusius produced a reaction and drove a large part of the moderate or Melanchthonian Lutherans into the Reformed communion.
The Reformed Church in the Electoral Palatinate was the result of a co-operation of Melanchthonian and Calvinistic influences under the pious Elector, Frederick III. The Heidelberg Catechism is the joint work of Ursinus, a pupil of Melanchthon, and Olevianus, a pupil of Calvin. It appeared in 1563, three years after Melanchthon’s death, one year before Calvin’s death, and became the leading symbol of the Palatinate and the Reformed Churches in Germany and Holland. It gives the best expression to Calvin’s views on the Lord’s Supper, and on Election, but wisely omits all reference to an eternal decree of reprobation and preterition; following in this respect Calvin’s own catechism. The well-known first question is a gem and presents the bright and comforting side of the doctrine of Election: —
“What is thy only comfort in life and in death?”
“That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.”
The influence of Calvinism and Presbyterian Church government extended, indirectly, also over the Lutheran Church and was modified in turn by Lutheranism.
John Sigismund, Elector of Brandenburg, and ancestor of the Kings of Prussia and Emperors of Germany, adopted the Calvinistic faith in a moderate form (1613). Frederick William, “the great Elector,” the proper founder of the Prussian Monarchy, secured the legal recognition of the Reformed Church in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), and answered the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) by a hospitable invitation of the persecuted Huguenots to his country, where they settled in large numbers. King Frederick William III. introduced, at the third centenary of the Reformation (1817), the Evangelical Union of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches of Prussia; and among the chief advocates of the union was Schleiermacher, the son of a Calvinistic minister, the pupil of the Moravians, and the renovator of German theology, which itself is the result of a commingling of Lutheran and Reformed elements with a decided advance upon narrow confessionalism.
We may add that, while Calvin’s rigorous doctrine of predestination in its dualistic form will never satisfy the German mind, his doctrine of the sacraments has made great progress in the Lutheran Church and seems to offer a solid basis for a satisfactory theory on the mystery of the spiritual real presence and fruition of Christ in the Holy Supper.
Calvin and Holland
The Netherlands derived the Reformation first from Germany, and soon afterwards from Switzerland and France. The Calvinists outnumbered the Lutherans and Anabaptists, and the Reformed Church became the State religion in Holland.
Two Augustinian monks were burned for heresy in Brussels in 1523, and were celebrated by Luther in a stirring hymn as the first evangelical martyrs. This was the fiery signal of a fearful persecution, which raged during the reigns of Charles V. and Philip II., and resulted at last in the establishment of national independence and civil and religious liberty. During that memorable struggle of eighty years, more Protestants were put to death for their conscientious belief by the Spaniards than Christians suffered martyrdom under the Roman Emperors in the first three centuries. William of Orange, the hero of the war and a liberal Calvinist, was assassinated by an obscure fanatic (1584). His second son, Maurice, a strict Calvinist (d. 1625), carried on and completed the conflict (1609). The horrible barbarities practised upon men, women, and unborn children, especially during the governorship of that bloodhound, the Duke of Alva, from 1567-1573, are almost beyond belief. We quote from the classical history of Motley: “The number of Netherlanders who were burned, strangled, beheaded, or buried alive, in obedience to the edicts of Charles V., and for the offences of reading the Scriptures, of looking askance at a graven image, or of ridiculing the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ in a wafer, have been placed as high as one hundred thousand by distinguished authorities, and have never been put at a lower mark than fifty thousand. The Venetian envoy Navigero placed the number of victims in the provinces of Holland and Friesland alone at thirty thousand, and this in 1546, ten years before the abdication, and five before the promulgation of the hideous edict of 1550.” Of the administration of the Duke of Alva, Motley says: “On his journey from the Netherlands, he is said to have boasted that he had caused eighteen thousand six hundred inhabitants of the provinces to be executed during the period of his government. The number of those who had perished by battle, siege, starvation, and massacre, defied computation …. After having accomplished the military enterprise [in Portugal] entrusted to him, he fell into a lingering fever, at the termination of which he was so much reduced that he was only kept alive by milk which he drank from a woman’s breast. Such was the gentle second childhood of the man who had almost literally been drinking blood for seventy years. He died on the 12th of December, 1582.”
The Bible, with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, was the spiritual guide of the Protestants, and inspired them with that heroic courage which triumphed over the despotism of Spain, and raised Holland to an extraordinary degree of political, commercial, and literary eminence.
The Belgic Confession of 1561 was prepared by Guido de Brès, and revised by Francis Junius, a student of Calvin. It became the recognized symbol of the Reformed Churches of Holland and Belgium.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Arminianism rose as a necessary and wholesome reaction against scholastic Calvinism, but was defeated in the Synod of Dort, 1619, which adopted the five knotty canons of unconditional predestination, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints. The Dutch Reformed Church in the United States still holds to the Canons of Dort. But Arminianism, although. temporarily expelled, was allowed to return to Holland after the death of Maurice, and gradually pervaded the national Church. It largely entered the Church of England under the Stuarts. It assumed new vigor through the great Methodist Revival, which made it a converting and missionary agency in both hemispheres, and the most formidable rival of Calvinism in the Anglo-American Churches. A greater man and more abundant in self-denying and fruitful apostolic labors has not risen in the Protestant churches since the death of Calvin than John Wesley, whose “parish was the world.” But he was aided in the great Anglo-American Revival by George Whitefield, who was both a Calvinist and a true evangelist.
Calvinism emphasizes divine sovereignty and free grace; Arminianism emphasizes human responsibility. The one restricts the saving grace to the elect: the other extends it to all men on the condition of faith. Both are right in what they assert; both are wrong in what they deny. If one important truth is pressed to the exclusion of another truth of equal importance, it becomes an error, and loses its hold upon the conscience.
The Bible gives us a theology which is more human than Calvinism, and more divine than Arminianism, and more Christian than either of them.
163. Calvin’s Influence upon Great Britain
Calvin and the Church of England
Calvin first alludes to the English Reformation in a letter to Farel, dated March 15, 1539, where he gives the following judgment of Henry VIII.: “The King is only half wise. He prohibits, under severe penalties, besides depriving them of the ministry, the priests and bishops who enter upon matrimony; he retains the daily masses; he wishes the seven sacraments to remain as they are. In this way he has a mutilated and tom gospel, and a church stuffed full as yet with many toys and trifles. Then he does not suffer the Scripture to circulate in the language of the common people throughout the kingdom, and he has lately put forth a new verdict by which he warns the people against the reading of the Bible. He lately burned a worthy and learned man [John Lambert] for denying the carnal presence of Christ in the bread. Our friends, however, though sorely hurt by atrocities of this kind, will not cease to have an eye to the condition of his kingdom.”
With the accession of Edward VI. he began to exercise a direct influence upon the Anglican Reformation. He addressed a long letter to the Protector Somerset, Oct. 22, 1548, and advised the introduction of instructive preaching and strict discipline, the abolition of crying abuses, and the drawing up of a summary of articles of faith, and a catechism for children. Most of his suggestions were adopted. It is remarkable that in this letter, as well as that to the king of Poland, he makes no objection to the Episcopal form of government, nor to a liturgy. At the request of Archbishop Cranmer, he wrote also letters to Edward VI., and dedicated to him his Commentary on Isaiah. He sent them by a private messenger who was introduced to the King by the Duke of Somerset His correspondence with Cranmer has been already alluded to. As a consensus creed of Reformed Churches was found to be impracticable, he encouraged the archbishop to draw up the articles of religion for the Church of England.
These articles which appeared first in 1553, and were afterwards reduced from forty-one to thirty-nine under Queen Elizabeth, in 1563, show the influence of the Augsburg Confession in the doctrines of the Trinity, justification and the Church, and the influence of Calvin in the doctrines of the Eucharist, and of predestination, which, however, is stated with wisdom and moderation (Art. XVII.), without reprobation and preterition.
During the reign of Queen Mary, many leading Protestants fled to Geneva, and afterwards obtained high positions in the Church under Queen Elizabeth. Among them were the translators of the Geneva version of the Bible, which owes much to Calvin and Beza, and continued to be the most popular English version till the middle of the seventeenth century, when it was superseded by the version of 1611.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth Calvin’s theological influence was supreme, and continued down to the time of Archbishop Laud. His Institutes were translated soon after the appearance of the last edition, and passed through six editions in the life of the translator. They were the textbook in the universities, and had as great an authority as the Sentences of Peter the Lombard, or the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, in the Middle Ages. We have previously quoted the high tributes of the “judicious” Hooker and Bishop Sanderson to Calvin. Heylyn, the admirer and biographer of Archbishop Laud, says that “Calvin’s book of Institutes was for the most part the foundation on which the young divines of those times did build their studies.” Hardwick, speaking of the latter part of the Elizabethan period, asserts that “during an interval of nearly thirty years, the more extreme opinions of the school of Calvin, not excluding his theory of irrespective reprobation, were predominant in almost every town and parish.”
The nine Lambeth Articles of 1595, and the Irish Articles of Archbishop Ussher of 1615, give the strongest symbolical expression to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election and reprobation, but lost their authority under the later Stuarts.
Calvin, however, always maintained his commanding position as a commentator among the scholars of the Anglican Church. His influence revived in the evangelical party, and his sense of the absolute dependence on divine grace for comfort and strength found classical expression in some of the best hymns of the English language, notably in Toplady’s “Rock of Ages cleft for me.”
Calvin and the Church of Scotland
Still greater and more lasting was Calvin’s influence upon Scotland. It extended over discipline and church polity as well as doctrine.
The Presbyterian Church of Scotland, under the sole headship of Christ, is a daughter of the Reformed Church of Geneva, but has far outgrown her mother in size and importance, and is, upon the whole, the most flourishing of the Reformed Churches in Europe, and not surpassed by any denomination in general intelligence, liberality, and zeal for the spread of Christianity at home and abroad.
The hero of the Scotch Reformation, though four years older than Calvin, sat humbly at his feet and became more Calvinistic than Calvin. John Knox, the Scot of the Scots, as Luther was the German of the Germans, spent the five years of his exile (1554-1559), during the reign of the Bloody Mary, mostly at Geneva, and found there “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was since the days of the Apostles.” After that model he led the Scotch people, with dauntless courage and energy, and the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum, from mediaeval semi-barbarism into the light of modern civilization, and acquired a name which, next to those of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, is the greatest in the history of the Protestant Reformation.
In the seventeenth century Scotch Presbyterianism and English Puritanism combined to produce a second and more radical reformation, and formulated the rigorous principles of Puritanic Calvinism in doctrine, discipline, and worship. The Westminster standards of 1647 have since governed the Presbyterian, and, in part, also the Congregational or Independent, and the regular Baptist Churches of the British Empire and the United States, with such modifications and adaptations as the progress of theology and church life demands.