Calvin Was a Sickly Lad

And he said so to his friends fairly regularly.  So, for instance, he writes to Viret,

“When our Merlin came yesterday, he found me in bed: I was suffering from a headache; for three days I had struggled against it, but the disorder at last conquered. Nevertheless I got up and went to the messenger from Bern. Soon after seven I returned; but I felt that the unpleasant motion of the horse, and my having been too long without food, had done me harm. The pain returned, and more sharply than before. I preached with great difficulty: this done, I went immediately to bed. I have told you all this, that you might excuse my too long delay.”

To Farel he writes, Feb. 4, 1550: “The whole time our Thomas was here I was cruelly persecuted by a cough or cold. I am now troubled with an ague, but about an hour ago it began to leave me. It is well that I do not cease to drag myself about hither and thither, and to fulfil my most necessary duties: but I do it but slowly, according to my ideas, and much time is lost which ought to be employed in useful labors.”

In a letter which he wrote shortly before his death to the physicians at Montpellier, he shows what a host of sufferings had assailed him in his latter years, and it astounds us to find that, with bodily organs so shaken, the force of his spirit could accomplish so much. Seven different disorders are mentioned as combining their strength to crush him at the last, but which he bore with the utmost patience. The real greatness of the man is shown in his agony: he lets no vain complaint escape him, but speaks of his body as of a strange element.

Bless it.