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The most famous of the Reformers was John Calvin, born 25 years later than both Luther and Zwingli, in the year 1519, at Noyons, France where the affects of the Reformation were already manifest. He, like those who came before him, was born into the Roman Catholic Church and served in the clergy before being converted by the power of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit and Scripture to protest the abuses of the Papal system.

Those who hold to the Reformed faith, to this day, are commonly referred to as "Calvinists" because they follow and adhere to Calvin's most excellent teachings of the Godly doctrines of Predestination and Election; which doctrines we will look closely at in later posts.

We believe that Calvin is best understood by the reading of his prolific writings and the theology that he developed; especially as presented in his "Christian Institutes", which can be studied and enjoyed online at several sites, including:

Calvin's Last Will and Testament was recorded for history by his colleague and successor, Theodore Beza, and rather than only briefly survey Calvin's life events, we prefer to present a glimpse of the very heart of this man and his own brief summary of his faith, by quoting his last wishes on this earth:


(Witnessed and on April 25, 1564 by Peter Chenalat, citizen and notary of the city of Geneva, Switzerland; these words in their entirety were dictated by John Calvin.)

"In the name of the Lord, Amen. I, John Calvin, minister of the Word of God in this church of Geneva, being afflicted and oppressed with various diseases, which easily induce me to believe that the Lord God has determined shortly to call me away out of this world, have resolved to make my testament, and commit my last will to writing in the manner following: First of all, I give thanks to God, that taking mercy on me, whom he had created and placed in this world, he not only delivered me out of the deep darkness of idolatry in which I was plunged, that he might bring me into the light of his Gospel, and make me a partaker in the doctrine of salvation, of which I was most unworthy; and not only, with the same mercy and benignity, kindly and graciously bore with my faults and my sins, for which, however, I deserved to be rejected by him and exterminated, but also vouchsafed me such clemency and kindness that he has deigned to use my assistance in preaching and promulgating the truth of his Gospel.

And I testify and declare, that it is my intention to spend what yet remains of my life in the same faith and religion which he has delivered to me by his Gospel; and that I have no other defense or refuge for salvation than his gratuitous adoption, on which alone my salvation depends. With my whole soul I embrace the mercy which he has exercised towards me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my sins with the merits of his death and passion, that in this way he might satisfy for all my crimes and faults, and blot them from his remembrance.

I testify also and declare, that I suppliantly beg of Him that he may be pleased so to wash and purify me in the blood which my Sovereign Redeemer has shed for the sins of the human race, that under his shadow I may be able to stand at the judgement seat. I likewise declare, that, according to the measure of grace and goodness which the Lord hath employed towards me, I have endeavored, both in my sermons and also in my writings and commentaries, to preach His Word purely and chastely, and faithfully to interpret His sacred Scriptures.

I also testify and declare, that, in all the contentions and disputations in which I have been engaged with the enemies of the Gospel, I have used no impostures, no wicked and sophistical devices, but have acted candidly and sincerely in defending the truth. But, woe is me! my ardor and zeal (if indeed worthy of the name) have been so careless and languid, that I confess I have failed innumerable times to execute my office properly, and had not He, of His boundless goodness, assisted me, all that zeal had been fleeting and vain.

Nay, I even acknowledge, that if the same goodness had not assisted me, those mental endowments which the Lord bestowed upon me would, at his judgment seat, prove me more and more guilty of sin and sloth. For all these reasons, I testify and declare that I trust to no other security for my salvation than this, and this only, viz., that as God is the Father of mercy, he will show himself such a Father to me, who acknowledge myself to be a miserable sinner.

As to what remains, I wish that, after my departure out of this life, my body be committed to the earth (after the form and manner which is used in this church and city), till the day of a happy resurrection arrive. As to the slender patrimony which God has bestowed upon me, and of which I have determined to dispose in this will and testament, I appoint Anthony Calvin, my very dear brother, my heir, but in the way of honor only, giving to him for his own the silver cup which I received as a present from Varanius, and with which I desire he will be contented. Everything else belonging to my succession I give him in trust, begging he will at his death leave it to his children.

To the Boy's School I bequeath out of my succession ten gold pieces; as many to poor strangers; and as many to Joanna, the daughter of Charles Constans, and myself by affinity. To Samuel and John, the sons of my brother I bequeath, to be paid by him at his death, each 400 gold pieces; and to Anna and Susanna, and Dorothy, his daughters, each 300 gold pieces; to David, their brother, in reprehension of his juvenile levity and petulance, I leave only 25 gold pieces. This is the amount of the whole patrimony and goods which the Lord has bestowed on me, as far as I can estimate, setting a value both on my library and moveables, and all my domestic utensils, and, generally, my whole means and effects; but should they produce a larger sum, I wish the surplus to be divided proportionally among all the sons and daughters of my brother, not excluding David, if, through the goodness of God, he shall have returned to good behavior.

Should the whole exceed the above mentioned sum, I believe it will be no great matter, especially after my debts are paid, the doing of which I have carefully committed to my said brother, having confidence in his faith and good-will; for which reason I will and appoint him executor of this my testament, and along with him my distinguished friend, Lawrence Normand, giving power to them to make out an inventory of my effects, without being obliged to comply with the strict forms of law. I empower them also to sell my movables, that they may turn them into money, and execute my will above written and explained and dictated by me, John Calvin, on this 25th day of April, in the year 1564."

*Excerpted from Chapter Ten of "The Life Of John Calvin", authored by Theodore Beza.


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