Jehan Cauvin (John Calvin) was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, a town in Picardy, which was a province of the kingdom of France. He was the second of six children born to Jeanne le Franc (daughter of an innkeeper from Cambrai) and Gerard Cauvin (registrar to the ecclesiastical court).
His “sudden conversion” took place in 1532 or 1533, and not long afterward, in 1534, he wrote a Latin preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament.
(Olivétan, a Waldensian by faith, was a cousin of Calvin’s and also grew up in Noyon. He was the first to translate the Bible intro French directly from the Hebrew and Greek.)
Calvin’s work below is a beautiful testimony to the gospel that captured his heart and mind.
Without the gospel
everything is useless and vain;
without the gospel
we are not Christians;
without the gospel
all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness, and
all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.
But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made
children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ,
the poor are made rich,
the weak strong,
the fools wise,
the sinner justified,
the desolate comforted,
the doubting sure, and
It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.
It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.
For, he was
sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;
made a curse for our blessing,
sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;
he died for our life; so that by him
fury is made gentle,
darkness turned into light,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
force forced back,
war warred against,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
mortality made immortal.
mercy has swallowed up all misery, and
goodness all misfortune.
For all these things which were to be the weapons of the Devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.
If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.
And we are
comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.
This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.