July 2009 was the 500th anniversary of
John Calvin’s birth, while October 2009 sees the 450th
anniversary of the publication of the final edition of his Institutes
of the Christian Religion. When he died in 1564 he was buried without
ceremony in an unmarked grave, such that when some foreign students
asked to see it some months later, it could not be distinguished from
others like it.
I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined
with love of God which the knowledge of His benefits induces. For until
men recognise that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished
by His fatherly care, that He is the Author of their every good, that
they should seek nothing beyond Him – they will never yield Him
willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in
Him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to Him.
No man in the world is worthy of introducing
himself to God and of appearing in his sight. To save us from the shame
which should rightly have been ours, this good heavenly Father has
given us his Son Jesus as mediator and intercessor. Led by Jesus, we
can boldly approach him, being completely certain that nothing we ask
in the name of this Intercessor will be denied us, for the Father
cannot refuse him anything.
To his friend William Farel
Although we may be severely buffeted hither and
thither by many tempests, yet, seeing that a pilot steers the ship in
which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of
shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with
fear and overcome with weariness.
From the Institutes
Christ was given to us by God’s generosity,
to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we
principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to
God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead
of a Judge a gracious Father; and secondly, that sanctified by
Christ’s Spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.
His personal testimony, in a letter to Farel
It is enough that I live and die for Christ, who
is to all his followers a gain both in life and in death.