Calvin on the Papacy

On Deuteronomy 10:15-21, Calvin preached19 “that all things are out of order in the Popedom — because they be blind and ignorant; and do not know what God they serve; nor what Saint they should make their vows to (as their own proverb says).    Inasmuch as, when they have tired themselves with trotting up and down, they do not know where they are but seek anew in their imaginations.   Whereas to know God as He has shown Himself to us in His Word, so that they might yield to Him the reverence which is due to Him — they have no skill of it, neither is there any tidings of it among them….   What is the means whereby men think to pacify God in the Popedom — but by setting up of tapers, by burning of perfumes, and by doing such other pretty trifles!” 

In sermons on Deuteronomy 12:1-7, Dr. John Calvin asks:20  “Are not the Apostles the true fathers of the Christian Church?   Yes, but the Papists will not hear them speak — nor any other that has established such order in the Church as God has commanded.   But they have their bastard fathers, like themselves, which being a misbegotten generation, they take monks and old dotterelles as their fathers…. 

“There are a number to be found nowadays in the Popedom which row between two streams, of which sort are these hypocrites which have perchance some taste of the Gospel, and can boast indeed of the preaching of God’s Word….   The Papists…have said: ‘We have Jesus Christ for our Advocate!’….   It is seen, nevertheless, [that] they let Him alone, behind them….   

“Like a sort of traitors to God and His Church — they make men believe that it is not evil to be partakers of all the abominations that are committed in it….  Therefore, let us learn not only to know that Papists are miserable and wretched creatures, and to condemn them in all their follies and superstitions — but also to be ready to go to God when He calls us!…. 

“The Papists took it to themselves to keep whatever filth and infection was among the Infidels….  Were this saying of Moses’s understood — all the devilish devices that have reigned and do reign still at this day in the Popedom, should get them away to the bottom of hell!”21 

In a sermon on Deuteronomy 12:8-14, Calvin says:22 “The Papists, notwithstanding that Jesus [has] be[en] manifested, and has accomplished all the things that were betokened in olden time — have yet utterly overthrown that good and substantial foundation….   The Papists have abolished the infinite grace of God, and utterly made a mockery of it.   They will needs offer sacrifice, and have attired their priests thereafter, disguising them[selves] as though it were to the playing of an interlude…. 

“The Papists…tell us that we must be contented with pictures…..   That is a turning of all things upside down, and a bringing in of devilish confusion….    

“We see that in the Popedom, there is no hearkening [to] what God says….   Let a man search all the things through which are comprised under the name in the Popedom, and he shall find them every one to be forged and built by men and that God not only disclaims them but also condemns them because He has shown us His certain and infallible truth…. 

“We see, then, how all this [godly] doctrine has been wickedly thrown down in the Popedom.   And that is because they have perverted the true use of the figures of the law….   Again, we see that God is contented with few ceremonies.    For it is not His will that we should have any more deckings, lights, perfumes, cakes, sacrificings of beasts, nor other such things….    On the contrary part, they [the Papists] have set up the abominable Mass, and will needs sacrifice Jesus Christ!”  

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