|« Prev||Calvin and Melanchthon||Next »|
§ 90. Calvin and Melanchthon.
The correspondence between Calvin (14 letters) and Melanchthon (8 letters), and several letters of Calvin to Farel from Strassburg and Regensburg.
Henry, Vol. I. chs. XII. and XVII,—Stähelin, I. 237–254.—Merle D’Aubigné, bk. XI. ch. XIX. (vol. VII. 18–22, in Cates’ translation).
One of the important advantages which his sojourn at Strassburg brought to Calvin and to the evangelical Church was his friendship with Melanchthon. It has a typical significance for the relationship of the Lutheran and Reformed Confessions, and therefore deserves special consideration.
They became first acquainted by correspondence through Bucer in October, 1538. Melanchthon brought Calvin at once into a friendly contact with Luther, who read with great pleasure Calvin’s answer to Sadolet (perhaps also his Institutes), and sent his salutations to him at Strassburg.547547 In a letter to Bucer, Oct. 14, 1539: "Salutabis Dn. Joannem Sturmium et Joannem Calvinum reverenter, quorum libellos cum singulari voluptate legi. Sadoleto optarem ut crederet Deum esse creatorem hominum extra Italiam." De Wette, V. 211; and Herminjard, VI. 73 (comp. note 6). Calvin refers to this compliment in a letter to Farel, Nov. 20, 1539 (in Herminjard, VI. 130). He also quotes, from a lost letter of Melanchthon, the words: "Lutherus et Pomeranus [Bugenhagen] Calvinum et Sturmium jusserunt salutari. Calvinus magnam gratiam iniit." (Ibid. p. 131.) Luther is reported to have expressed also a favorable judgment on Calvin’s tract on the Lord’s Supper, published at Strassburg, 1541, in French. See vol. VI. 660.
Luther never saw Calvin, and probably knew little or nothing of the Reformation in Geneva. His own work was then nearly finished, and he was longing for rest. It is very fortunate, however, that while his mind was incurably poisoned against Zwingli and Zürich, he never came into hostile conflict with Calvin and Geneva, but sent him before his departure a fraternal greeting from a respectful distance. His conduct foreshadows the attitude of the Lutheran Church and theology towards Calvin, who had the highest regard for Luther, and enjoyed in turn the esteem of Lutheran divines in proportion as he was known.
Melanchthon was twelve years older than Calvin, as Luther was thirteen years older than Melanchthon. Calvin, therefore, might have sustained to Melanchthon the relation of a pupil to a teacher. He sought his friendship, and he always treated him with reverential affection.548548 In a letter of 11 Cal. Maii, 1544 (Opera, XI. 698), he addresses him as "ornatissime vir, fidelissime Christi minister, et amice mihi semper honorande. Dominus te semper spiritu suo regat, diuque nobis et ecclesiae suae incolumem conservet." In the dedication of his commentary on Daniel, he describes Melanchthon as "a man who, on account of his incomparable skill in the most excellent branches of knowledge, his piety, and other virtues, is worthy of the admiration of all ages." But while Melanchthon was under the overawing influence of the personality of Luther, the Reformer of Geneva was quite independent of Melanchthon, and so far could meet him on equal terms. Melanchthon, in sincere humility and utter freedom from jealousy, even acknowledged the superiority of his younger friend as a theologian and disciplinarian, and called him emphatically "the theologian."
They had many points of contact. Both were men of uncommon precocity; both excelled, above their contemporaries, in humanistic culture and polished style; both devoted all their learning to the renovation of the Church; they were equally conscientious and unselfish; they agreed in the root of their piety, and in all essential doctrines; they deplored the divisions in the Protestant ranks, and heartily desired unity and harmony consistent with truth.
But they were differently constituted. Melanchthon was modest, gentle, sensitive, feminine, irenic, elastic, temporizing, always open to new light; Calvin, though by nature as modest, bashful, and irritable, was in principle and conviction firm, unyielding, fearless of consequences, and opposed to all compromises. They differed also on minor points of doctrine and discipline. Melanchthon, from a conscientious love of truth and peace, and from regard for the demands of practical common sense, had independently changed his views on two important doctrines. He abandoned the Lutheran dogma of a corporal and ubiquitous presence in the eucharist, and approached the theory of Calvin; and he substituted for his earlier fatalistic view of a divine foreordination of evil as well as good the synergistic scheme which ascribes conversion to the co-operation of three causes: the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the will of man. He conceded to man the freedom of either accepting or rejecting the Gospel salvation, yet without giving any merit to him for accepting the free gift; and on this point he dissented from Calvin’s more rigorous and logical system.549549 On these changes see the biographies of Melanchthon by Galle, Carl Schmidt, and Herrlinger; Gieseler’s Church History; and Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, I. 261 sqq.
The sincere and lasting friendship of these two great and good men is therefore all the more remarkable and valuable as a testimony that a deep spiritual union and harmony may co-exist with theological differences.550550 Merle d’Aubigné (VII. 19) thinks that "esteem was uppermost in Melanchthon, and affection in Calvin;" that "on the one side the friendship was founded more on reflection (réfléchi), on the other it was more spontaneous;" but "on both sides it was the product of their noble and beautiful qualities."
Calvin and Melanchthon met at Frankfurt, Worms, and Regensburg under trying circumstances. Melanchthon felt discouraged about the prospects of Protestantism. He deplored the confusion which followed the abolition of the episcopal supervision, the want of discipline, the rapacity of the princes, the bigotry of the theologians. He had allowed himself, with Luther and Bucer, to give his conditional assent to the scandalous bigamy of Philip of Hesse (May, 1540), which was the darkest blot in the history of the German Reformation, and worse than the successive polygamy of Henry VIII. His conscience was so much troubled about his own weakness that, at Weimar, on his way to the Colloquies at Hagenau and Worms, he was brought to the brink of the grave, and would have died if Luther had not prayed him out of the jaws of the king of terrors. What a contrast between Melanchthon at Worms in 1540, and Luther at Worms in 1521! At the Diet of Regensburg, in 1541, he felt no better. His son was sick, and he dreamed that he had died. He read disaster and war in the stars. His letters to intimate friends are full of grief and anxious forebodings. "I am devoured by a desire for a better life," he wrote to one of them. He was oppressed by a sense of the responsibility that rested upon him as the spokesman and leader of the Reformation in the declining years of Luther, who had been formerly his inspiration and strength. It is natural that in this condition of mind he looked for a new support, and this he found in Calvin. We can thus easily understand his wish to die in his arms. But Calvin himself, though more calm and composed in regard to public affairs, was, as we have seen, deeply distressed at Regensburg by news of the ravages of the pestilence among his friends at Strassburg, besides being harassed by multiplying petitions to return to Geneva. These troubles and afflictions brought their hearts nearer to each other.
In their first personal interview at Frankfurt on the Main, in February, 1539, they at once became intimate, and freely discussed the burning questions of the day, relating to doctrine, discipline, and worship.551551 Calvin wrote to Farel, after his return to Strassburg, at the end of March, 1539: "Cum Philippo fuit mihi multis de rebus colloquium."
As to doctrine, Calvin had previously sent to Melanchthon a summary, in twelve articles, on the crucial topic of the real presence. To these Melanchthon assented without dispute,552552 "Sine controversia ipse assentitur." Calvin adds: "de ipso (Mel.) nihil dubita, quin penitus nobiscum sentiat." Herminjard, V. 269. In a previous letter to Farel, October, 1538 (in Herminjard, V. 146 and note 24), he informed Farel that he had sent twelve articles of agreement with a letter to Melanchthon from Strassburg. The articles are lost, but may yet be recovered. but confessed that he had no hope of satisfying those who obstinately insisted on a more gross and palpable presence.553553 "Sed fatetur, esse in illa parte nonnullos qui crassius aliquid requirant: atque id tanta pervicacia, ne dicam tyrannide, ut diu in periculo fuerit, quod eum videbant a suo sensu nonnihil alienum." Herminjard, V. 269. Those men who outluthered Luther, were not satisfied with the words of institution, simpliciter, but demanded such scholastic terms as substantialiter, essentialiter, corporaliter, quantitative, ubiquitaliter, carnaliter. When Matthaeus Zell, preacher in the Minster at Strassburg, told Melanchthon (in 1536) that he abhorred these terms as diabolical additions, Melanchthon assented. See Roehrich Mittheilungen aus der Geschichte der evang. Kirche des Elsasses, III. 133, as quoted by Stähelin, I. 169. Yet he was anxious that the present agreement, such as it was, might be cherished until at length the Lord shall lead both sides into the unity of his own truth. This is no doubt the reason why he himself refrained from such a full and unequivocal public expression of his own view as might lead to a rupture in the Lutheran Church. He went as far as he deemed it prudent by modifying the tenth article of the Augsburg Confession, and omitting the anti-Zwinglian clause (1540).
As to ecclesiastical discipline, Melanchthon deplored the want of it in Germany, but could see no prospect of improvement, till the people would learn to distinguish the yoke of Christ from the papal tyranny.
As to worship, Calvin frankly expressed his objection to many ceremonies, which seemed to him to border too closely on Judaism.554554 Letter to Farel, April, 1539 (Herminjard, V. 292): "Nuper Philippo in faciem non dissimulavi, quin mihi admodum illa ceremoniarum copia displiceret. Videri enim mihi formam quam tenent non procul esse a Judaismo." He was opposed to chanting in Latin, to pictures and candles in churches, to exorcism in baptism, and the like. Melanchthon was reluctant to discuss this point, but admitted that there was an excess of trifling or unnecessary Roman Catholic rites retained in deference to the judgment of the Canonists, and expressed the hope that some of them would be abandoned by degrees.
After the Colloquy at Regensburg the two Reformers saw each other no more, but continued to correspond as far as their time and multiplicity of duties would permit. The correspondence of friendship is apt to diminish with the increase of age and cares. Several letters are preserved, and are most creditable to both parties.555555 In Calvin’s Opera there are fourteen letters of his to Melanchthon.
The first letter of Calvin after that Colloquy, is dated Feb. 16, 1543, and is a lengthy answer to a message from Melanchthon.556556 Letters of John Calvin by Dr. Jules Bonnet, translated from the original Latin and French by Constable, vol. I. 349. In Calvin’s Opera, XI. 515. The original copy is in Simler’s Collection in the City Library of Zürich.
"You see," he writes, "to what a lazy fellow you have intrusted your letter. It was full four months before he delivered it to me, and then crushed and rumpled with much rough usage. But although it has reached me somewhat late, I set a great value upon the acquisition .... Would, indeed, as you observe, that we could oftener converse together were it only by letters. To you that would be no advantage; but to me, nothing in this world could be more desirable than to take solace in the mild and gentle spirit of your correspondence. You can scarce believe with what a load of business I am here burdened and incessantly hurried along; but in the midst of these distractions there are two things which most of all annoy me. My chief regret is, that there does not appear to be the amount of fruit that one may reasonably expect from the labor bestowed; the other is, because I am so far removed from yourself and a few others, and therefore am deprived of that sort of comfort and consolation which would prove a special help to me.
"But since we cannot have even so much at our own choice, that each at his own discretion might pick out the corner of the vineyard where he might serve Christ, we must remain at that post which He Himself has allotted to each. This comfort we have at least, of which no far distant separation can deprive us,—I mean, that resting content with this fellowship which Christ has consecrated with his own blood, and has also confirmed and sealed by his blessed Spirit in our hearts,—while we live on the earth, we may cheer each other with that blessed hope to which your letter calls us that in heaven above we shall dwell forever where we shall rejoice in love and in continuance of our friendship."557557 "Hoc saltem nobis nullo regionum longinquitas eripiet, quin hac conjunctione, quam Christus sanguine suo consecratam Spiritu quoque suo in cordibus nostris sanxit, contenti, dum vivimus in terra sustineamur beato illa spe, ad quam nos literae tum revocant:in coelis nos simul perpetuo victuros, ubi amore amicitiaque nostra fruemur."
There can be no nobler expression of Christian friendship.
In the same letter Calvin informs Melanchthon that he had dedicated to him his "Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine on the Slavery and Deliverance of the Human Will against the Calumnies of Albert Pighius," which he had urged Calvin to write, and which appeared in February, 1543.558558 "Defensio sanae et orthodoxae doctrina de servitute et liberations humani arbitrii adversus calumnias Alberti Pighii Campensis. Opera, VI. 225-404. After some modest account of his labors in Geneva, and judicious reflections on the condition of the Church in Germany, he thus concludes: —
"Adieu, O man of most eminent accomplishments, and ever to be remembered by me and honored in the Lord! May the Lord long preserve you in safety to the glory of his name and the edification of the Church. I wonder what can be the reason why you keep your Daniel a sealed book at home.559559 Melanchthon’s Commentary on Daniel appeared in the same year at Wittenberg and Leipzig. Neither can I suffer myself quietly, without remonstrance, to be deprived of the benefit of its perusal. I beg you to salute Dr. Martin reverently in my name. We have here with us at present Bernardino of Siena, an eminent and excellent man, who has occasioned no little stir in Italy by his secession. He has requested me that I would greet you in his name. Once more adieu, along with your family, whom may the Lord continually preserve."
On the 11th of May following, Melanchthon thanked Calvin for the dedication, saying: 560560 Opera, vol. XI. 539-542. Also in Corp. Reform. V. 107. I am much affected by your kindness, and I thank you that you have been pleased to give evidence of your love for me to all the world, by placing my name at the beginning of your remarkable book, where all the world will see it." He gives due praise to the force and eloquence with which he refuted Pighius, and, confessing his own inferiority as a writer, encourages him to continue to exercise his splendid talents for the edification and encouragement of the Church. Yet, while inferior as a logician and polemic, he, after all, had a deeper insight into the mystery of predestination and free will, although unable to solve it. He gently hints to his friend that he looked too much to one side of the problem of divine sovereignty and human liberty, and says in substance: —
"As regards the question treated in your book, the question of predestination, I had in Tübingen a learned friend, Franciscus Stadianus, who used to say, I hold both to be true that all things happen according to divine foreordination, and yet according to their own laws, although he could not harmonize the two. I maintain the proposition that God is not the author of sin, and therefore cannot will it. David was by his own will carried into transgression.561561 This is a direct contradiction to the assertion in the first edition of his Loci (1521), and his commentary on the Romans (1524), that God does all things not permissive, but potenter, and that he foreordained and wrought the adultery of David, and the treason of Judas, as well as the vocation of Paul. He so understood the Epistle to the Romans. In December, 1525, Luther expressed the same views in his book against Erasmus, which he never recalled, but pronounced one of his best books (1537). He might have retained the Holy Spirit. In this conflict there is some margin for free will .... Let us accuse our own will if we fall, and not find the cause in God. He will help and aid those who fight in earnest. Movnon qevlhson, says Basilius, kai; qeo;" proapanta'. God promises and gives help to those who are willing to receive it. So says the Word of God, and in this let us abide. I am far from prescribing to you, the most learned and experienced man in all things that belong to piety. I know that in general you agree with my view. I only suggest that this mode of expression is better adapted for practical use."562562 "Ad usum accommodata."
In a letter to Camerarius, 1552, Melanchthon expresses his dissatisfaction with the manner in which Calvin emphasized the doctrine of predestination, and attempted to force the Swiss churches to accept it in the Consensus Genevensis.563563 Mel. Opera, in the Corpus Reformatorum, VII. 390.
Calvin made another attempt in 1554 to gain him to his view, but in vain.564564 Opera, XV. 215-217. Dated 6 Calendas Septembris. On one point, however, he could agree to a certain modification; for he laid stress on the spontaneity of the will, and rejected Luther’s paradoxes, and his comparison of the natural man to a dead statue.
It is greatly to the credit of Calvin that, notwithstanding his sensitiveness and intolerance against the opponents of his favorite dogma, he respected the judgment of the most eminent Lutheran divine, and gave signal proof of it by publishing a French translation of the improved edition of Melanchthon’s Theological Commonplaces in 1546, with a commendatory preface of his own,565565 The preface is reprinted in his Opera, vol. IX. 847-850. in which he says that the book was a brief summary of all things necessary for a Christian to know on the way of salvation, stated in the simplest manner by the profoundly learned author. He does not conceal the difference of views on the subject of free will, and says that Melanchthon seems to concede to man some share in his salvation; yet in such a manner that God’s grace is not in any way diminished, and no ground is left to us for boasting.
This is the only example of a Reformer republishing and recommending the work of another Reformer, which was the only formidable rival of his own chief work on the same subject (the Institutes), and differed from it in several points.566566 Henry justly remarks (I. 376): "So free were these rare men of ambition, love of glory, and littleness of spirit, that they thought of nothing but the salvation of the world. Calvin wanted France to love Melanchthon as much as he did, and to be converted to Christ through him." Comp. Stähelin, I. 244.
The revival of the unfortunate eucharistic controversy by Luther in 1545, and the equally unfortunate controversy caused by the imperial Interim in 1548, tried the friendship of the Reformers to the uttermost. Calvin respectfully, yet frankly, expressed his regret at the indecision and want of courage displayed by Melanchthon from fear of Luther and love of peace.
When Luther came out a year before his death with his most violent and abusive book against the "Sacramentarians,"567567 His "Short Confession on the Lord’s Supper." See this History, vol. VI. 654 sqq. which deeply grieved Melanchthon and roused the just indignation of the Zwinglians, Calvin wrote to Melanchthon (June 28, 1545): 568568 Bonnet-Constable, I. 442-444; Opera, XII. 98-100.—
"Would that the fellow-feeling which enables me to condole with you, and to sympathize in your heaviness, might also impart the power in some degree at least to lighten your sorrow. If the matter stands as the Zürichers say it does, then they have just occasion for their writing .... Your Pericles allows himself to be carried beyond all bounds with his love of thunder, especially seeing that his own cause is by no means the better of the two .... We all of us acknowledge that we are much indebted to him. But in the Church we always must be upon our guard, lest we pay too great a deference to men. It is all over with her when a single individual has more authority than all the rest .... Where there is so much division and separation as we now see, it is indeed no easy matter to still the troubled waters, and bring about composure .... You will say he [Luther] has a vehement disposition and ungovernable impetuosity; as if that very vehemence did not break forth with all the greater violence when all show themselves alike indulgent to him, and allow him to have his way unquestioned. If this specimen of overbearing tyranny has sprung forth already as the early blossom in the springtide of a reviving Church, what must we expect in a short time, when affairs have fallen into a far worse condition? Let us, therefore, bewail the calamity of the Church and not devour our grief in silence, but venture boldly to groan for freedom .... You have studiously endeavored, by your kindly method of instruction, to recall the minds of men from strife and contention. I applaud your prudence and moderation. But while you dread, as you would some hidden rock, to meddle with this question from fear of giving offence, you are leaving in perplexity and suspense very many persons who require from you somewhat of a more certain sound, on which they can repose .... Perhaps it is now the will of God to open the way for a full and satisfactory declaration of your own mind, that those who look up to your authority may not be brought to a stand, and kept in a state of perpetual doubt and hesitation ....
"In the mean time let us run the race set before us with deliberate courage. I return you very many thanks for your reply, and for the extraordinary kindness which Claude assures me had been shown to him by you.569569 Claude de Senarcleus, a friend of Calvin, returned from Wittenberg with an album full of pious inscriptions of leading Lutheran divines, which is preserved in the Town Library of Geneva. Bonnet, l.c. I. 444. I can form a conjecture what you would have been to myself, from your having given so kind and courteous a reception to my friend. I do not cease to offer my chief thanks to God, who has vouchsafed to us that agreement in opinion upon the whole of that question [on the real presence]; for although there is a slight difference in certain particulars, we are very well agreed upon the general question itself."
When after the defeat of the Protestants in the Smalkaldian War, Melanchthon accepted the Leipzig Interim with the humiliating condition of conformity to the Roman ritual, which the German emperor imposed upon them, Calvin was still more dissatisfied with his old friend. He sided, in this case, with the Lutheran non-conformists who, under the lead of Matthias Flacius, resisted the Interim, and were put under the ban of the empire. He wrote to Melanchthon, June 18, 1550, the following letter of remonstrance:570570 Opera, XIII. 593 sqq.—
"The ancient satirist [Juvenal, I. 79] once said, —
’Si natura negat, facit indignatio versum.’
"It is at present far otherwise with me. So little does my present grief aid me in speaking, that it rather renders me almost entirely speechless .... I would have you suppose me to be groaning rather than speaking. It is too well known, from their mocking and jests, how much the enemies of Christ were rejoicing over your contests with the theologians of Magdeburg.571571 The zealous Lutherans at Magdeburg which stood out a long siege by the army of the Elector Maurice. ... If no blame attaches to you in this matter, my dear Philip, it would be but the dictate of prudence and justice to devise means of curing, or at least mitigating, the evil. Yet, forgive me if I do not consider you altogether free from blame .... In openly admonishing you, I am discharging the duty of a true friend; and if I employ a little more severity than usual, do not think that it is owing to any diminution of my old affection and esteem for you .... I know that nothing gives you greater pleasure than open candor .... This is the sum of your defence: that, provided purity of doctrine be retained, externals should not be pertinaciously contended for .... But you extend the distinction of non-essentials too far. You are aware that the Papists have corrupted the worship of God in a thousand ways. Several of those things which you consider indifferent are obviously repugnant to the Word of God .... You ought not to have made such large concessions to the Papists .... At the time when circumcision was yet lawful, do you not see that Paul, because crafty and malicious fowlers were laying snares for the liberty of believers, pertinaciously refused to concede to them a ceremony at the first instituted by God? He boasts that he did not yield to them,—no, not for an hour,—that the truth of God might remain intact among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:5) .... I remind you of what I once said to you, that we consider our ink too precious if we hesitate to bear testimony in writing to those things which so many of the flock are daily sealing with their blood .... The trepidation of a general is more dishonorable than the flight of a whole herd of private soldiers .... You alone, by only giving way a little, will cause more complaints and sighs than would a hundred ordinary individuals by open desertion. And, although I am fully persuaded that the fear of death never compelled you in the very least to swerve from the right path, yet I am apprehensive that it is just possible that another species of fear may have proved too much for your courage. For I know how much you are horrified at the charge of rude severity. But we should remember that reputation must not be accounted by the servants of Christ as of more value than life. We are no better than Paul was, who remained fearlessly on his way through ’evil and good report.’ ... You know why I am so vehement. I had rather die with you a hundred times than see you survive the doctrines surrendered by you ....
"Pardon me for loading your breast with these miserable though ineffectual groans. Adieu, most illustrious sir, and ever worthy of my hearty regard. May the Lord continue to guide you by his Spirit, and sustain you by his might. May his protection guard you. Amen."
We have here a repetition of the scene between Paul and Peter at Antioch, concerning the rite of circumcision; and while we admire the frankness and boldness of Paul and Calvin in rebuking an elder brother, and standing up for principle, we must also admire the meekness and humility of Peter and Melanchthon in bearing the censure.
Melanchthon himself, after a brief interruption, reopened the correspondence in the old friendly spirit, during the disturbances of war between Elector Maurice and the Emperor Charles, which made an end of the controversy about the Adiaphora.
"How often," wrote Melanchthon, Oct. 1, 1552,572572 Opera, XIV. 368; Corp. Ref., VII. 1085. "would I have written to you, reverend sir and dearest brother, if I could find more trustworthy letter-carriers. For I would like to converse with you about many most important matters, because I esteem your judgment very highly and know the candor and purity of your soul.573573 "Quia et judicium tuum magni facio, et scio integritatem animi et candorem in te summum esse." I am now living as in a wasp’s nest;574574 ὣσπερ ὄνος ἐν σφηκίαις. but perhaps I shall soon be called from this mortal life to a brighter companionship in heaven. If I live longer, I have to expect new exiles; if so, I am determined to turn to you. The studies are now broken up by pestilence and war. How often do I mourn and sigh over the causes of this fury among princes."
In a lengthy and interesting answer Calvin says:575575 Bonnet-Constable, II. Opera, XIV. 416-418. "Nothing could have come to me more seasonably at this time than your letter, which I received two months after its despatch."576576 Nowadays a letter from Wittenberg will reach Geneva in less than two days. He assures him that it was no little consolation to him in his sore trials at Geneva to be assured of the continuance of his affection, which, he was told, had been interrupted by the letter of remonstrance above referred to. "I have learned the more gladly that our friendship remains safe, which assuredly, as it grew out of a heartfelt love of piety, ought to remain forever sacred and inviolable."
In the unfortunate affair of Servetus, Melanchthon fully approved Calvin’s conduct (1554).577577 See below, § 139, pp. 706 sqq. But during the eucharistic controversy excited by Westphal, he kept an ominous silence, which produced a coolness between them. In a letter of Aug. 3, 1557, Calvin complains that for three years he had not heard from him, but expresses satisfaction that he still entertained the same affection, and closes with the wish that he maybe permitted "to enjoy on earth a most delightful interview with you, and feel some alleviation of my grief by deploring along with you the evils which we cannot remedy."578578 Opera, XVI. 556-558.
That wish was not granted. In a letter of Nov. 19, 1558,579579 Opera, XVII. 384-386. he gives him, while still suffering from a quartan ague, a minute account of his malady, of the remedies of the doctors, of the formidable coalition of the kings of France and Spain against Geneva, and concludes with these words:
"Let us cultivate with sincerity a fraternal affection towards each other, the ties of which no wiles of the devil shall ever burst asunder .... By no slight shall my mind ever be alienated from that holy friendship and respect which I have vowed to you .... Farewell, most illustrious light and distinguished doctor of the Church. May the Lord always govern you by his Spirit, preserve you long in safety, increase your store of blessings. In your tum, diligently commend us to the protection of God, as you see us exposed to the jaws of the wolf. My colleagues and an innumerable crowd of pious men salute you."
On the 19th of April, 1560, Melanchthon was delivered from "the fury of the theologians" and all his troubles. A year after his death Calvin, who had to fight the battle of faith four years longer, during the renewed fury of the eucharistic controversy with the fanatical Heshusius, addressed this touching appeal to his sainted friend in heaven: —
"O Philip Melanchthon! I appeal to thee who now livest with Christ in the bosom of God, and there art waiting for us till we shall be gathered with thee to that blessed rest. A hundred times, when worn out with labors and oppressed with so many troubles, didst thou repose thy head familiarly on my breast and say, ’Would that I could die in this bosom!’ Since then I have a thousand times wished that it had been granted to us to live together; for certainly thou wouldst thus have had more courage for the inevitable contest, and been stronger to despise envy, and to count as nothing all accusations. In this manner, also, the malice of many would have been restrained who, from thy gentleness which they call weakness, gathered audacity for their attacks."580580 Opera, IX. 461.
Who, in view of this friendship which was stronger than death, can charge Calvin with want of heart and tender affection?
|« Prev||Calvin and Melanchthon||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version