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´╗┐Title: John Calvin's Writings - Letter 3 Calvin to Farel. Frankfort, March, 1539.
Author: John Calvin
Language: English

To preclude your further anxiety for my long expected letter, I shall forward it fresh from my
pen, without waiting for the arrival of Michael. I will pass at present my conference with
Melancthon; and state the progress of affairs since my last. The unjust conditions, boldly
advanced by the ambassador of the emperor, had well nigh terminated in the assumption of arms
to settle the controversy. He proposed that our brethren should separate from the
Sacramentarians. You will be aware, that this is the artifice of Satan, who cherishes on this
occasion the former animosities which he sowed; while at the same time new offenses, like
flaming torches, are kindled up to excite still greater contention. Our German brethren, however,
while they refuse to acknowledge the Sacramentarians, are desirous of a union with the Helvetic
churches. The emperor eventually relinquished this point, which he had labored to establish as
the means of effecting a truce. I earnestly wish, that these things may be useful to the churches;
but ill looking them over in their effects, they promise, in my opinion, nothing beneficial. The
elector of Saxony clearly apprehends this, and though supposed to be habitually of a dilatory
temperament, he is now fixed in the opinion, that we are under the necessity of hazarding the
consequences of war. The landgrave, beyond all expectation, dissuades from warlike measures;
and although he consents to yield to his allies, if they shall judge it expedient, yet his influence
has operated extensively in abating the ardor of those who reposed a confidence in his
constitutional promptitude. The prospect now looks favorable for an approaching truce, in which
every attention will be given to those objects that may be conducive to unanimity of opinion. The
adversaries, intent to frustrate our purpose in uniting the churches, meditate only measures which
may bring about the war. The elector of Saxony will go from the assembly to visit the duke of
Cleves, whose sister he married. If the elector can draw the duke over to the cause of religion, it
will be a great benefit to the church of Christ. He is the most powerful among the princes of
Lower Germany; and is not exceeded in extent of dominion, nor surpassed in superiority of
jurisdiction, by any but Ferdinand himself.

When Bucer last wrote me, nothing had been determined concerning the embassy to the king of
France, for the safety of the brethren, and the support of the cause of religion. The subject will be
discussed and arranged, when other matters shall have been determined, as they will then be
enabled to state their request to the king with more fullness and force of argument.

My conference with Melancthon embraced a great variety of subjects.

Having previously written him concerning the agreement, I urged the necessity of obtaining the
opinion of the best men, upon a matter of so much importance. I forwarded to him a few articles,
in which I had concisely summed up the doctrines of truth. To these he consented without
controversy, but stated that some in that quarter demanded something more full and explicit, and
with such obstinacy and overbearingness that he was, for some time, in danger of being
considered as having wholly departed from their opinions. Although he did not suppose that an
established agreement would continue long, he still wished that this union, whatever it might be,
should be cherished, until the Lord should draw us on both sides into the unity of his truth. Doubt
not but that Melancthon is wholly in opinion with us.

It would be tedious to detail our conversations on a diversity of subjects; but they will afford us
an agreeable topic at some future interview. When we entered on the subject of discipline, he
mourned, as we all of us do, about that unhappy state of the church, which we are all allowed to
deplore, rather than correct. You must not suppose that you alone labor under the painful burden
of ineffectual discipline. Every day new examples are occurring, which should excite us all to the
most vigorous exertions, to obtain the desired remedy for these evils. A minister of integrity and
learning was lately ejected from Ulm, with the severest reproach, because he would not indulge
them in their vices. He was dismissed with a very honorable recommendation from all his
colleagues, and especially from Frechthus. When this was reported at Augsburg, it excited the
most unpleasant sensations. These things have a tendency to encourage the licentious to consider
it as a matter of sport, to interrupt the pastors in their ministerial duties, and to drive them into
exile. Nor can this evil be remedied, is neither the people nor the princes distinguish between the
brotherly discipline of Christ, and the tyranny of the pope.

It is the opinion of Melancthon, that we must yield, in a due degree, to the adverse winds of this
tempestuous season; and without despairing of eventual success, cast our eyes forward to some
favorable moment, when our enemies may be less powerful, and we more able to introduce the
remedy for these internal evils. Capito is strongly impressed with the belief that the church is
ruined, unless God shall supply some speedy succors, and good men become united in her
defense. Despairing of doing any good, he has a desire for death as a release from his
unprofitable labors. But if our vocation is of the Lord, of which we are confident, he will bless
and succeed us through all the difficulties that may be thrown in our way. Let us attempt all
remedies, and if they fail, still let us persist in our calling to the last breath.

The Waldensian brethren are indebted to me for a crown, one part of which I lent them, and the
other I paid to their messenger, who came with my brother to bring the letter from Sonerius. I
requested them to pay it to you, as it will partly pay you my debt, the rest I will pay when I can.

Such is my condition now, that I have not a penny. It is singular, although my expenses are so
great, that I must still live upon my own money unless I would burden my brethren. It is not easy
for me to take that care of my health which you recommend so affectionately. Farewell, beloved

The Lord give you strength and support in all your troubles.


Frankfort, March, 1539.