I’d like to introduce you to a couple of long-lost, but newly-available works on John Calvin, available exclusively from American Vision.
Several years ago, I crossed this little book from 1865, The College Days of Calvin. I was intrigued, and when I read it, I had a whole new appreciation for the integrity and bravery of John Calvin. I also got a whole new look at the humanity of the man—something that is in short supply, since most of the work we have from him is doctrinal and does not tell much about his personality and personal life.
In researching the book for possible reprinting, I learned that the author had created a second volume, Young Calvin in Paris, that completed the story of that era in Calvin’s life.
I was greatly blessed in finding and reading these two little books! We know the Calvin of the Institutes and Geneva quite well. We see him as a leader and prominent theologian, a powerful man in many respects. But we don’t often get a glimpse at his formation, his life under persecution, his leading a small “house church” against the law, the attempts to arrest him, the constant threat of danger during this time, the use of deception and code words, etc., and many of his personal relationships.
These rarely-told stories of Calvin’s early development and education highlights great character, fortitude, and godliness for generations of Christians still today. The College Days of Calvin provides an enduring example of the outworking of God’s providence in the lives of his children, and also of Christian devotion in times of joy and great expectation, as well as trial, intrigue, subterfuge, and tyranny.
These easy-to-read annals relate the swift academic achievements toward which Calvin’s prodigious gifts drove him, as well as the hardships he patiently endured after his conversion to the Protestant faith, his relationship with his demanding father afterward, the loss of his father, his role in the budding and growth of the Evangelical movement in France, and the intensifying efforts of the Roman church to stop it—all during Calvin’s early 20s.
The companion volume continues the story of young Calvin’s character, fortitude, and godliness in the midst of trial. Young Calvin in Paris provides more of the same enduring example of God’s sustaining providence.
This volume tells the continued growth and influence of young Calvin on the Protestant Reformation, the examples of faith in the small circle of followers close to him, and the merciless and tireless tyrannies and murders of the Roman Catholic Church in trying to eradicate the Reformed “heretics.”
The author, William Maxwell Blackburn (1828–1898), was a northern Presbyterian minister who served multiple congregations, was Church History professor at Seminary of the Northwest in Chicago (1868–1880), and briefly served as the first President of the University of North Dakota (1884–1885). His main purpose in writing these volumes was to get young people reading about Calvin.
I think these books are still great not only for that purpose, but also great for Reformed families and small groups today.
Through these reclaimed narratives, we see the Reformed faith not only endure, but prevail and grow even in the midst of persecution and fire. These true stories of courage and faith are perfectly narrated to be useful for Christian schools as well as family devotions. Read these stories to your children!
I highly recommend you check these out. Both are on a great sale for the next couple of days. Get yours now.
The College Days of Calvin (147 pages)
Young Calvin in Paris (163 pages)