“At the time when divine truth lay buried under this vast and dense cloud of darkness;
when religion was sullied by so many impious superstitions;
when by horrid blasphemies the worship of God was corrupted, and His glory laid prostrate;
when by a multitude of perverse opinions, the benefit of redemption was frustrated, and men, intoxicated with a fatal confidence in works, sought salvation anywhere rather than in Christ;
when the administration of the sacraments was partly maimed and torn asunder, partly adulterated by the admixture of numerous fictions, and partly profaned by traffickings for gain;
when the government of the church had degenerated into mere confusion and devastation;
when those who sat in the seat of pastors first did most vital injury to the church by the dissoluteness of their lives, and, secondly, exercised a cruel and most noxious tyranny over souls, by every kind of error, leading men like sheep to the slaughter;
then Luther arose, and after him others, who with united counsels sought out means and methods by which religion might be purged from all these defilements, the doctrine of godliness restored to its integrity, and the church raised out of its calamitous into somewhat of a tolerable condition.
The same course we are still pursuing in the present day.
All our controversies concerning doctrine relate either to the legitimate worship of God, or to the ground of salvation.
As to the former, unquestionably we do exhort men to worship God neither in a frigid nor a careless manner, and while we point out the mode, we neither lose sight of the end, nor omit any thing which is of importance.
We proclaim the glory of God in terms far loftier than it was wont to be proclaimed before, and we earnestly labour to make the perfections in which His glory shines better and better known.
His benefits towards ourselves we extol as eloquently as we can, while we call upon others to reverence His Majesty, render due homage to His greatness, feel due gratitude for His mercies, and unite in showing forth His praise.
In this way there is infused into their hearts that solid confidence which afterwards gives birth to prayer. And in this way, too, each one is trained to genuine self-denial, so that his will being brought into obedience to God, he bids farewell to his own desires.
In short, as God requires us to worship Him in a spiritual manner, so we most zealously urge men to all the sacrifices of spirit which He recommends.”
—John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Trans. Henry Beveridge (London: W.H. Dalton, 1544/1843), 39-40, 43-44.