Print Friendly, PDF & Email

John Calvin (1509 to 1564) was born at Noyon, France. At fourteen he was sent to Paris to study theology, and developed a particular interest in the writings of Augustine. His father then insisted that he take up law instead, which he did for three years, returning to theology when his father died.

In about 1534, he underwent a sudden conversion and became an ardent Protestant. He went to Basel, a Protestant city in Switzerland, where he wrote and published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In 1536, he became one of the preachers in the city of Geneva, in 1538 he was banished, and in 1541 returned in triumph, and established a form of church government that has been associated ever since with churches called Reformed or Presbyterian. It provided for a set of boards or consistories to maintain discipline in local congregations and in district-wide groups of congregations, boards consisting partly of clergy and partly of the elected representatives of the congregation.

“For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity.”

“For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the of all their blessings, so that naught is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity.”

“…All men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare.”

“It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection … I readily acknowledge, that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious; but they never could have succeeded in this, had the minds of men not been previously imbued with that uniform belief in God, from which, as from its seed, the religious propensity springs.”

“But herein appears the shameful ingratitude of men. Though they have in their own persons a factory where innumerable operations of God are carried on, and a magazine stored with treasures of inestimable value, instead of bursting forth in his praise, as they are bound to do, they, on the contrary, are the more inflated and swelled with pride.”

Share