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John Calvin: Life and Quotes

A brief biography

John Calvin (originally Jehan Cauvin) was born in France on July 10, 1509, and lived until May 27, 1564. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family. He studied in Paris, switching from theology to law, and became friends with scholars who were not Catholic.

Life and Quotes

He was a French pastor and theologian, and one of the main Protestant Reformers. The Christian theology known as Calvinism was named after him, and he was greatly involved in the defining of the doctrines of predestination and God’s absolute sovereignty in salvation.

He spoke and wrote much. Many of his sermons and documents are still available.


The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.

There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.

Man’s mind Is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.

Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.

No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.

God preordained, for His own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.

For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.

When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers.

For the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.

Humility is the beginning of true intelligence.

We shall never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly that we have no righteousness of our own.

A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.

Whatever a person may be like, we must still love them because we love God.

Prayer doesn’t change things – God changes things in answer to prayer.

The Lord has not redeemed you so you might enjoy pleasures and luxuries or so that you might abandon yourself to ease and indolence, but rather so you should be prepared to endure all sorts of evils.

The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages – such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!

Peace is not to be purchased by the sacrifice of truth.

Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.

Men are undoubtedly more in danger from prosperity than from adversity, for when matters go smoothly, they flatter themselves, and are intoxicated by their success.

Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves.

In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden the less heinous they are.

The effect of our knowledge rather ought to be, first, to teach us reverence and fear; and, secondly, to induce us, under its guidance and teaching, to ask every good thing from Him, and when it is received, ascribe it to Him. For how can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought, that since you are His workmanship, you are bound, by the very law of creation, to submit to His authority? – that your life is due to Him? – that whatever you do ought to have reference to Him.

We must not think that He takes no notice of us when He does not answer our wishes: for He has a right to distinguish what we actually need.

If God does nothing random, there must always be something to learn.

But those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known.

Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to destroy.

There cannot be a surer rule, nor a stronger exhortation to the observance of it, than when we are taught that all the endowments which we possess are divine deposits entrusted to us for the very purpose of being distributed for the good of our neighbor.

Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.

For it [being a Christian] is not a doctrine of the tongue but of life. It is not apprehended by the understanding and memory alone, as other disciplines are, but it is received only when it possesses the whole soul and finds a seat and resting place in the inmost affection of the heart.

If it be clear that our afflictions are for our benefit, why should we not undergo them with a thankful and quiet mind?

No one can travel so far that he does not make some progress each day. So let us never give up. Then we shall move forward daily in the Lord’s way. And let us never despair because of our limited success. Even though it is so much less than we would like, our labor is not wasted when today is better than yesterday!

The whole gospel is contained in Christ.

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