I recently read William Blackburn’s College Days of Calvin and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Using history and some good story telling, Blackburn brings the early days of John Calvin to life in a vivid manner. I think, for me, the only problem with this is how horribly convicting it is to read about the devotion, energy, and vigor that Calvin put into everything he did, especially his studies. What’s more is that he was apparently this way, even at the young age of 10. A letter from his cousin, Peter Robert Olivetan, indicates that Calvin is already quite a serious young boy.
… I wish your father was able to send you to a good school; do not let him rest till he does. But do not study too hard. You do not play half enough. If I were writing to the Montmor children, I would say play less and study more; but you need to learn how to fish in the Oise and hunt in the woods, as the cavaliers did in the times of Charlemagne, when our good town of Noyon was the capital of the empire. When I am home again I must take you to Pont l’Eveque,* and give you a romp in your grandfather’s cooper-shop. I do not mean that play is the grand object of a boy’s life, but only that it may help to give him health and cheerfulness. Need I tell you what to live for? Your kind parents will do that; but yet as this is your birth-day, I may remind you that you ought to be a good Christian….
Wm. M. Blackburn, College Days of Calvin (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 7-9.
While a little conviction is good, I often have to remind myself that I don’t have the same calling as John Calvin. It is apparent from his work and ministry that God had a very specific task for this young man to accomplish, and God created him in a way that led him to hours of intense study, preaching, and writing. At the same token, I think it is important to look to someone like Calvin, and all he did with such vigor, and use that to spur myself on to working hard for the calling God has given me.
Either way, I commend College Days of Calvin to all who want to get a look at this great man and his early years.