These men were often nothing less than missionaries. Many returned to France and martyrdom.
The Dean Recommends: Past Masters - John Calvin, Preacher of the Gospel
He had become a chronic sufferer from ague, catarrh inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose which caused his nose to run continually , asthma, indigestion, and migraine headaches which sometimes kept him awake all night. In he suffered at length from quartan fever an intermittent malarial fever from which he never fully recovered. He also suffered from close-to-crippling arthritis, gout, kidney stones, ulcerated haemorrhoids, gum disease, chronic indigestion, and pleurisy that finally led to malignant pulmonary tuberculosis.
For years, so afflicted, Calvin had often coughed up blood on account of his public speaking. This constant pain — together with the fact that he was so often far beyond his more limited contemporaries, and the weight of work which he faced — was probably a source of much of the irritability of which he was sometimes accused. Beza writes:. His temperament was naturally choleric, and his active public life had tended greatly to increase this failing; but the Spirit of God had so taught him to moderate his anger, that no word ever escaped him unworthy of a righteous man.
Still less did he ever commit aught unjust towards others. It was then only, indeed, when the question concerned religion, and when he had to contend against hardened sinners, that he allowed himself to be moved and excited beyond the bounds of moderation.
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He was naturally timid, even fearful, which makes his courage all the more amazing. He was an affectionate and faithful friend, an intense man of deep feeling and penetrating thought. Worn out by his labours, Calvin preached his last sermon in Geneva on 6 February I confess to live and die in this faith which he has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than his predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which he has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of his suffering and dying, that through them all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg him to wash me and cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer, as it was shed for all poor sinners so that I, when I shall appear before his face, may bear his likeness.
Moreover, I declare that I endeavoured to teach his Word undefiled and to expound Holy Scripture faithfully according to the measure of grace which he has given me. In all the disputations which I led against the enemies of the truth, I employed no cunning or any sophistry, but have fought his cause honestly. But, oh, my will, my zeal were so cold and sluggish that I know myself guilty in every respect; without his infinite goodness, all my passionate striving would only be smoke, indeed the grace itself which he gave me would make me even more guilty; thus my only confidence is that he is the Father of mercy who as such desires to reveal himself to such a miserable sinner.
On 28 April, he summoned the ministers of Geneva for a farewell address which well captures both the pungency of his personality and the tenor of his life:. When I first came to this church, I found almost nothing in it. There was preaching and that was all. They would look out for idols it is true, and they burned them. But there was no reformation.
Everything was in disorder. I have lived here amid continual bickering. I have been from derision saluted of an evening before my door with forty or fifty shots of an arquebuse [musket]. They set the dogs at my heels, crying, Here! But take courage and fortify yourselves, for God will make use of this church and will maintain it, and assures you that he will protect it.
I have had many faults that you have had to tolerate, and all that I accomplished was of little significance. The evil-minded will take advantage of this confession, but I repeat that all that I have done is of little significance, and I am a poor creature. My faults have always displeased me and the root of the fear of the Lord has always been in my heart. As for my doctrine, I have taught faithfully, and God has given me grace to write, which I have done faithfully as I could; and I have not corrupted [mutilated] one single passage of Scripture nor twisted it as far as I know; and when in a position to arrive at an artificial meaning through subtlety, I have put all that under my feet, and have always aimed at being simple.
I have written nothing out of hatred against anyone, but have always set before me what I thought was for the glory of God.
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He entered his rest and reward on 27 May, being 54 years old. His grave was unmarked, and remains unknown. Thus the life and thus the death of John Calvin of Geneva. We have no space for an extended evaluation of the man, except to warn against the very abuses that Calvin sought to avoid in his own dying days. There are those today who would venerate him, affording him the same sort of demi-divine status as can be seen in the Roman communion for the church fathers, putting his words on a par with Scripture.
I say this not to denigrate Calvin but to defend him.
No-one was more conscious of his imperfections and shortcomings than he was himself. We marvel at his life as a man of God, but he would have us marvel at the one who made him a man of God. We tend to point at him, but we should look and see him pointing away from himself to Jesus Christ. If you would honour Calvin, honour his God and Saviour. If you would esteem Calvin, esteem Christ and his Word. His legacy is of a man subject to God in all his majesty, and constrained to live and die for his glory. His life and work reveal a man kneeling before God, subject to his Word, determined to know and to do his will, whatever the cost.
The best response to Calvin, the greatest tribute you can pay the man, is to cultivate the same disposition and attitude to his God and ours. He was a Christlike man, and he would have had you see Jesus: imitate him, then, but only and just as he imitated Christ. Subscribe to comments with RSS. Jeremy Walker. You are commenting using your WordPress.
You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Order Amazon. Calvin fled to Switzerland, broke with the Catholic Church, and joined with the reformers.
In he published his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was a systematic presentation of the Protestant position. In he founded what later became the University of Geneva. Here he taught his beliefs to thousands of students who in turn carried "Calvinism" back to their homelands throughout Europe. John Calvin died in Geneva, Switzerland on May 27, When John Calvin preached through the book of Micah in , he addressed a social situation not unlike Micah's, or ours today.
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The prophet Micah confronted idolatry, superstition, confusion, alienation, inhumane acts, and personal and social desolation in his own day. And he continues to speak to us, through the Genevan Reformer, in these twenty-eight sermons. Calvin's commitment to the sovereignty of divine grace "underlies almost every sentence he preaches in the series," writes Benjamin Farley in his introduction to this volume.
Other themes receiving special attention are God's Word, his providence and human suffering, and man's role in sanctification. Though preached centuries ago to Calvin's Geneva congregation, the sermons come alive for our time through this superb translation.
Calvin's vocation as a minister of the divine Word is nowhere better seen than in his pulpit work, and these sermons give us new insight into Calvin the preacher.
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