Thine Is My Heart: Devotional Readings from the Writings of John Calvin
by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: —Hebrews 12:5
It is very true, as you say, that while clinging from worldly fear to the superstitions which in the world reign paramount, you are still very far from that perfection to which our gracious God calls us. But yet it is a mark of some progress even to acknowledge our sins, and to be displeased with them. You must now advance farther, and condemning your own weakness, set yourself in earnest about getting rid of it; and if you cannot succeed all at once in accomplishing your wish, yet nevertheless you must persevere in seeking the remedy for it, until you have been completely cured.
To do this, you will find it to your advantage to call yourself to account day by day, and while acknowledging your faults, to groan within yourself, and mourn over them before God, so that your displeasure against whatsoever is evil may become more intense, until you are quite confirmed and resolved to renounce it as you ought, even as indeed I feel assured you labor hard to do.
And it is not in vain that you beg of me to join my prayers with yours, to seek with importunity to God that he would be pleased to have compassion on you, and to deliver you from this unhappy captivity. Let us continue then with one accord to put up this request, and he will at length make manifest that you have not altogether wasted your time.
True, sometimes he lets us grow faint, and before declaring effectually that he has heard our prayers, he seems to keep at a distance, as much to sharpen our desire as to make trial of our patience; and, therefore, you need not reckon that hitherto your prayers to him have been in vain, but much rather take encouragement, and strive even more and more, knowing that if perseverance be required throughout our whole life, it is specially desired in prayer. And, besides, you must also take care in real earnest to fan the flame which God has already begun to kindle in you; for all the gracious affections he breathes into us are just so many sparks which we must not extinguish, or allow to go out by our heedlessness.
Since, then, God has already opened your eyes so far, that you admit we ought to be his peculiar ones, and dedicated to him in righteousness, so as to glorify him as well in our bodies as in our souls; seeing also that he has touched your heart so that you have some feeling of our unhappiness in alienation from him, unquestionably you must not now go to sleep or trifle away at your ease, but even as we stir fire when it does not burn as it ought to do, it is quite right that you be stirred up yet more and more, until the longing desire to devote yourself wholly to him and to his righteousness, overcomes all hindrances either from the flesh or from the world. —Correspondence
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.