by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1, 2
There, then, it behooves you to turn your eyes during these great troubles, and to rejoice that he has esteemed you worthy of suffering affliction for his word rather than of chastisement for your sins, which we would all deserve did he not support us by his grace. And if he promises to console poor sinners who received patiently correction from his hand, be confident that the aid and comfort of his Holy Spirit will not fail you, when reposing your trust on him you shall accept the condition to which he has subjected his children.
And wait not until the great ones of this world point out to you the way, who most frequently corrupt their brethren and cause them to backslide rather than further their progress. What is more, let not each man look on his fellow to say like Peter, And this man, what of him? But let each man follow as he shall be called, seeing that each must give an account for himself.
Look rather at the invincible courage of so many martyrs who have been set before us an example, and take heart to join yourself to so goodly a company; which for this reason the Apostle compares to an immense and thick cloud, as if he said that their numbers are so vast as in a manner to blind our eyes.
Moreover, according as each is placed in a higher station, let him reflect that he is so much the more bound to take the lead, and on no occasion to yield to dissimulation. Let not the noble and rich and people of rank think that they are privileged, but on the contrary let them acknowledge that God has chosen them, to be more highly glorified in them. When you shall march with such simplicity, invoking God to look upon you with compassion, it is certain that you will thus feel more relief than if each thought of escaping by subterfuge.
We do not mean to say that you should with your eyes open, or without discretion, expose yourselves to the jaws of the wolf; only beware of withdrawing from the flock of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to avoid the cross, and fear more than all the deaths in the world the dispersion of the church. Otherwise what excuse will you be able to plead when our Lord Jesus Christ, his Father, and all the angels of paradise shall bring against you this reproach, that having made a profession of confessing God in life and in death, you have betrayed the faith which you had pledged? —Letter (to persecuted Christians in France)
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.