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Title: John Calvin's Writings - Letter 17 Calvin to Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, Wishes
Health.
Author: John Calvin
Language: English



Illustrious Sir, — You prudently judge, that in this confused
state of the church, no remedy more appropriate can be applied,
than that pious and resolute men, exercised in the school of God,
should meet among themselves, and publicly profess their
agreement in the doctrines of religion. We see by how many arts
Satan is endeavoring to destroy the light of the gospel, which as
arisen by the wonderful goodness of God, and is extending its
beams in every direction. The mercenary parasited of the pope
do not cease their railing, to prevent the preaching of the pure
word of Christ. Licentiousness so much prevails, and impiety
has so increased, that religion is but a little removed from public
mockery. Those who are not the professed enemies of the gospel
are even now affected by that lascivious impudence, which will
shortly, unless counteracted, produce among us the most
shameful confusion. It is not merely among the ignorant class of
men, that this feverish and foolish curiosity and immoderate
impudence reign; but what is more shameful, it is much too prevalent among the order of
pastors, it is too well known, with what delusive madness Osiander deceives himself, and
fascinates some others.

The Lord, indeed, as he has done from the beginning of the world, can wonderfully, in ways
unknown to us, preserve the unity of the true faith, and prevent its destruction from the
dissensions of men. It is his will however, that those whom he has appointed to watch should by
no means sleep; as he has determined, by the labors of his ministering servants, to purge the pure
doctrine in the church, from the pure doctrine in the church, from all corruptions, and to transmit
it unblemished to posterity. It is especially your duty, most accomplished Prelate, as you sit more
elevated in the watch-tower, to continue your exertions for effecting this object. I do not say this,
to stimulate you afresh; as you have already, of your own accord, preceded others, and
voluntarily exhorted them to follow your steps. I would only confirm you in this auspicious and
distinguished labor by my congratulation. We have heard of the delightful success of the gospel
in England. I doubt not, but you have experienced the same trials, which Paul met with in his
time: that the door being opened for the pure doctrine, many adversaries suddenly rise up against
its reception. I know you have among you many advocates, capable of refuting the falsehoods of
the adversary; but still, the wickedness of those, who exert all their arts to make disturbance,
proves that the most intense sedulity of the good will neither be too ardent nor superfluous. I
know moreover, that your purpose is not confined to England alone; but, at the same moment,
you consult the benefit of all the world. The generous disposition and uncommon piety of his
Majesty, the king, are justly to be admired, as he is please to favor this holy purpose of holding
such a council, and offers a place for its session in his kingdom. I wish it might be effected, that
learned and stable men, from the principal churches, might assemble in some place, and, after
discussing with care each article of faith, deliver to posterity, from their general opinion of them
all, the clear doctrines of the Scriptures. It is to be numbered among the evils of our day, that the
churches are so divided one from another, that there is scarcely any friendly intercourse
strengthened between us; much less does that holy communion of the members of Christ
flourish, which all profess with the mouth, but few sincerely regard in the heart. But if the
principal teachers conduct themselves more coldly than they ought, it is principally the fault of
the princes who, involved in their secular concerns, neglect the prosperity and purity of the
church; or each one, contented with his own security, is indifferent to the welfare of others. Thus
it comes to pass, that the members being divided, the body of the church lies disabled.

Respecting myself, if it should appear that I could render any service, I should with pleasure
cross ten seas, if necessary, to accomplish that object. Even if the benefit of the kingdom of
England only was to be consulted, it would furnish a reason sufficiently powerful with me. But
as in the council proposed, the object is to obtain the firm and united agreement of learned men
to the sound rule of Scripture, by which churches now divided may be united with each other, I
think it would be a crime in me to spare any labor or trouble to effect it. But I expect my slender
ability to accomplish this will furnish me with sufficient excuse. If I aid that object by my
prayers, which will be undertaken by others, I shall discharge my part of the business.
Melancthon is so far from me, that our letters cannot be exchanged in a short time. Bullinger has
perhaps answered you before this. I wish my ability was equal to the ardency of my desires. But
what I at first declined, as unable to accomplish, I perceive the very necessity of the business
now compels me to attempt. I not only exhort you, but I conjure you, to proceed, until something
shall be effected, if not every thing you could wish. Farewell, most accomplished Prelate,
sincerely respected by me. May the Lord go on to guide you by his Spirit, and bless your holy
labors.

—GENEVA.



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