John Calvin -- By: P. Schaff

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 014:53 (Jan 1857)
Article: John Calvin
Author: P. Schaff


John Calvin

Dr. P. Schaff

The correspondence of Calvin, now for the first time collected by Jules Bonnet, and in course of publication, in two editions, at Paris, and at Edinburgh,1 calls vividly to mind the memory of the greatest divine and disciplinarian of the sixteenth century, and promises to give us a more complete view than we have had yet, of his extraordinary labors and usefulness. Here we find him conversing familiarly with the reformers Farel, Viret, Beza, Bullinger, Burer, Grynaeus, Knox, Melanchthon, on the most important religious and theological questions of his age; counselling and exhorting Prince Condé, Jeanne d’Albret, mother of Henry IV., Admiral Coligny, the duchess of Ferrara, King Sigismund of Poland, Edward VI. of England, and the duke of Somerset; respectfully reproving the queen Marguerite of Navarre; withstanding the libertines and pseudo-protestants; strengthening the martyrs; and directing the reformation in Switzerland, France, Poland, England, and Scotland.

Calvin belongs to the small number of men, who have exerted a moulding influence, not only upon their own age and country, but also upon future generations in various parts of the world; and, not only upon the church, but indirectly upon all the departments of political, moral, and social life. The history of Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the United States, for the last three centuries, bears upon a thousand pages the impress of his mind and character. He raised the small republic of Geneva to the reputation of a Protestant Rome. Pie gave the deepest impulse to the reform-movement which in-

volved France, his native land, in a series of bloody civil wars, furnished a host of martyrs to the evangelical faith, and continues to live in that powerful nation in spite of the horrid massacre of St. Bartholomew and the revocation of the edict of Nantes, the dragoonades and exile of hosts of Huguenots, who, driven from their native soil, carried their piety, virtue, and industry to all parts of Western Europe and North America. He kindled the religious fire which roused the moral and intellectual strength of Holland, and consumed the dungeons of the inquisition and the fetters of the political despotism of Spain. His genius left a stronger mark on the national character of the Anglo-Saxon race and the churches of Great Britain, than their native reformers. His theology and piety raised Scotland from a semi-barbarous condition and made it the classical soil of Presbyterian Christianity, and one of the most enlightened, energetic, and virtuous countries on the globe. His- spirit stirred up the Puritan revolution of the seventeenth century, and so...

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