John Calvin was very concerned with reforming the commonwealth. He wanted the purity of the gospel, but he was not at all opposed to attaining this goal through the use of the power of the magistrate. Indeed, the majority of the Reformers appealed to their kings and princes for assistance and protection during the Reformation, and it is unlikely that they would have survived without such aid.
Calvin was also a sort of religious imperialist. He wanted a Reformed Europe. His Institutes are, of course, dedicated to the king of France, but he also wrote several letters to the various monarchs of England. In fact, he was greatly upset by Knox’s political behavior, as it cost him all audience with the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth.
Earlier in his career, however, Calvin had developed a warm relationship with Edward VI. Francis Bourgoyne, in writing to Calvin in 1550, called Edward “our Josiah,” and Calvin’s letters to Edward are full of comparisons to Josiah, Hezekiah, David, and Joseph. Calvin dedicated several commentaries and expositions of Scripture to Edward and wrote several letters to him. In a 1551 letter, Calvin even gave Edward advice on how best to protect the purity of the gospel in England:
We see that in the time of good king Josiah, who had the especial testimony of the Holy Spirit, that he had performed every duty of an excellent prince, in faith, zeal, and all holiness, nevertheless the prophet Zephaniah shews that there still remained some remnants of former superstitions even in the city of Jerusalem. (more…)