Today in Church History: John Calvin Preaches His Last Sermon
On February 6, 1564, John Calvin preached his last sermon. The circumstance was extraordinary, which befitted this extraordinary man. Although he would not pass for another three months, 23 years of gospel ministry in Geneva was coming to an end.
Fatally ill, and with blood flowing from his mouth, the 54 year-old pastor-theologian was carried to Saint Pierre in a chair. He was a man acquainted with pain. He suffered from terrible hemorrhoids, asthma, kidney stones, pulmonary tuberculosis, and gout. Fever was a consistent companion, and now he had ruptured blood vessels in his lungs due to his violent coughing spells. This same month he wrote of his tribulations to the doctors of Montpellier:
. . . But at that time [20 years ago] I was not attacked by gout, knew nothing of the stone or the gravel, was not tormented with the gripings of colic nor afflicted with piles nor threatened with haemorrhages. At present all these enemies charge me like troops. As soon as I recovered from a quartan fever, I was taken with severe and acute pains in my calves, which, after being partly relieved, returned a second and then third time. At last they turned into a disease of the joints, which spread from my feet to my knees. An ulcer in the haemorrhoid veins long tortured me . . .
But on this day, although every breath a battle, Calvin was a man consumed—consumed with the proclamation of Christ’s gospel. He must preach, and preach he would.