Life Of John Calvin -- By: R. D. C. Robbins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 002:6 (May 1845)
Article: Life Of John Calvin
Author: R. D. C. Robbins


Life Of John Calvin1

R. D. C. Robbins

Reasons For Writing A Life Of Calvin

No apology is deemed necessary for making the Life of John Calvin, the great Reformer, a topic of discussion in this Journal. He is acknowledged, even by those who dislike him most, to have been a man of no ordinary endowments, and familiarity with the feelings and conduct of the great and the good is always profitable. Their lives benefit us not so much by reminding us, that we in our humble sphere “may make our lives sublime,” as by assimilating us to themselves. They attract us upward. By ac-

companying them in their contests for the truth, we gain strength and courage to resist the foes by which we are beset, whether from without or from within. Are they conscientious and truth-loving like John Calvin, by sympathy with them we are made more careful not to violate our convictions of right, and more anxious to exclude as a base and hurtful thing all that is wrong in our actions, thoughts and feelings.

The time at which Calvin appeared, also gives special interest to his life, both with the Christian and the scholar. The greatest number of illustrious monarchs who ever reigned at one time, were then at the head of affairs in Europe. Henry VIII. of England, second only to Francis I. in personal accomplishments, was thought worthy of the title of “defender of the faith “or “Arch-heretic” according as he favored or opposed the Catholics. Francis I, a friend and patron of learning was crowned king of France in 1515, and died the same year with Henry VIII. (1547). His rival, Charles I. of Spain, V. of Germany, who was chosen emperor in 1519, when Calvin was ten years old, swayed for a time the destinies of half of Europe, opposed Luther, held Francis I. captive in Spain, shut up the Pope in the castle of St. Angelo plundered Rome, fought successfully against Solyman the Magnificent, and when he died,

“left a name at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral and adorn a tale.”

Pope Leo X. died when Calvin was young, but his works did not follow him. His influence was felt in many ways throughout Christendom, when Calvin came upon the stage of public action. The encouragement of learning, which has distinguished him above all the occupants of the papal throne for nearly twenty centuries, the establishment of seminaries of instruction, exertions for the recovery and publication of ancient works, munificence to professors of every branch of science, literature and art, even though they might be laboring directly for the aggrandizement of Rome, contributed not a little to the preparation of the way for the reformation...

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