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The Letters of John Calvin (4 vols.) contains four volumes of Calvin’s correspondence. This collection includes over 600 letters written between 1528 and 1564. His first letters were written as he studied in Paris; the last letter was written from his deathbed. In between, we find letters to other Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Knox, as well as letters to kings and government authorities. B.B. Warfield rightly called Calvin "the great letter-writer of the Reformation age."
These volumes contain Calvin’s private correspondence throughout thirty years of public life, and offer a revealing look at the context in which Calvin preached in Geneva, studied the Scriptures, and wrote The Institutes. In the Logos edition of The Letters of John Calvin (4 vols.), you’ll find letters on controversies in Geneva, social issues, persecution, ecclesiastical problems, along with personal reflections on his everyday experiences—written to friends, kings, and his fellow Reformers.
Calvin himself identified his correspondence to Theodore Beza shortly before he died, and Beza, along with Charles de Jonvillers, published a Latin edition of his letters in Geneva in 1575. For centuries, Calvin’s letters remained a rarity—most copies were lost or in poor condition—until the French government commissioned a republication project. In 1854, the new French edition of Calvin’s letters appeared in Paris under the editorship of Jules Bonnet. Volumes one and two were translated by D. Constable for publication in 1855 and 1857; volumes three and four were translated by M.R. Gilchrist. All four volumes were published as a complete set by the Presbyterian Board of Publication for an American audience.
What’s more, the Logos edition of The Letters of John Calvin (4 vols.) contains extensive tagging and linking. All Scripture references display the verse on mouseover, and each reference is linked to the original language texts and English Bible translations in your library. With Logos, you can also perform advanced searches—searching Calvin’s letters by passage or topic. That makes the Logos edition of The Letters of John Calvin (4 vols.) ideal for historians, theologians, and Calvin scholars.
“Above all, take heed that you watch unto prayer; for if your whole expectation rests upon God, as it ought, there is good reason to infer that your heart should be daily lifted up to heaven in calling upon the Lord, and earnestly supplicating the mercy which you hope to obtain from himself. Understand, moreover, that if he delays to grant the desire of his children, and does not immediately manifest himself in the time of need for their deliverance, it is generally because he wishes to stir them up and urge them on to supplicate his favour.” (Volume 1, Page 88)
“But when I remember that I am not my own, I offer up my heart, presented as a sacrifice to the Lord” (Volume 1, Pages 280–281)
“You have been taught, Madame, that we cannot serve him without fighting” (Volume 4, Page 267)
“Although the death of my wife has been exceedingly painful to me, yet I subdue my grief as well as I can. Friends, also, are earnest in their duty to me. It might be wished, indeed, that they could profit me and themselves more; yet one can scarcely say how much I am supported by their attentions. But you know well enough how tender, or rather soft, my mind is. Had not a powerful self-control, therefore, been vouchsafed to me, I could not have borne up so long.” (Volume 2, Page 202)
“Respecting ceremonies, because they are things indifferent, the churches have a certain latitude of diversity. And when one has well weighed the matter, it may be sometimes considered useful not to have too rigid a uniformity respecting them, in order to shew that faith and christianity do not consist in that.” (Volume 3, Page 162)
. . . Calvin’s theology interests us in its historical context as an outstanding record of Reformation theology that historically—and at times even legally—has served as a basis of proclamation in modern Protestant churches.
Calvin helped the Reformation change the entire focus of the Christian life. Calvin’s teaching, preaching, and catechizing fostered growth in the relationship between believers and God.
—Joel R. Beeke
Calvin’s theological heritage has proved fertile perhaps to a greater extent than any other Protestant writer. Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and Karl Barth, in their very different ways, bear witness to the pivotal role that Calvin’s ideas have played in shaping Protestant self-perceptions down the centuries. . . . It is impossible to understand modern Protestantism without coming to terms with Calvin’s legacy to the movement which he did so much to nourish and sustain.
—Alister E. McGrath
The fundamental issue for John Calvin—from the beginning of his life to the end—was the issue of the centrality and supremacy and majesty of the glory of God.
John Calvin is a man of distinguished reputation, one of the great figures of church history.
—Wulfert de Greef
It would hardly be too much to say that for the latter part of his lifetime and a century after his death John Calvin was the most influential man in the world, in the sense that his ideas were making more history than those of anyone else during that period. Calvin’s theology produced the Puritans in England, the Huguenots in France, the ‘Beggars’ in Holland, the Covenanters in Scotland, and the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, and was more or less directly responsible for the Scottish uprising, the revolt of the Netherlands, the French wars of religion, and the English Civil War. Also, it was Calvin’s doctrine of the state as a servant of God that established the ideal of constitutional representative government and led to the explicit acknowledgment of the rights and liberties of subjects. . . . It is doubtful whether any other theologian has ever played so significant a part in world history.
[Calvin] easily takes the lead among the systematic expounders of the Reformed system of Christian doctrine. . . Calvin’s theology is based upon a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He was the ablest exegete among the Reformers, and his commentaries rank among the very best of ancient and modern times. His theology, therefore, is biblical rather than scholastic, and has all the freshness of enthusiastic devotion to the truths of God’s Word. At the same time he was a consummate logician and dialectician. He had a rare power of clear, strong, convincing statement. He built up a body of doctrines which is called after him, and which obtained symbolical authority through some of the leading Reformed Confessions of Faith.
What is it about Calvin that so inspires me? This: his disciplined style, his determination never to speculate, his utter submission to Bible words as God's words, his submission to Christ's Lordship, his sense of the holy, his concern to be as practical as possible; the fact that godly living was his aim and not theology for the sake of it. In a forest of theologians, Calvin stands like a Californian Redwood, towering over everyone else.
A little bit of the world’s history was enacted in Geneva.
The greatest exegete and theologian of the Reformation was undoubtedly Calvin. . . . He is one of the greatest interpreters of Scripture who ever lived. He owes that position to a combination of merits. He had a vigorous intellect, a dauntless spirit, a logical mind, a quick insight, a thorough knowledge of the human heart, quickened by rich and strange experience; above all, a manly and glowing sense of the grandeur of the Divine. The neatness, precision, and lucidity of his style, his classic training and wide knowledge, his methodical accuracy of procedure, his manly independence, his avoidance of needless and commonplace homiletics, his deep religious feeling, his careful attention to the entire scope and context of every passage, and the fact that he has commented on almost the whole of the Bible, make him tower above the great majority of those who have written on Holy Scripture.
—Frederic William Farrar