On February 6, 1564, an era came to an end. The man who had done as much as any other to forge the theology of the Reformation, preached his last sermon. Unable to walk, John Calvin was carried to church in a chair. Calvin's mouth filled with blood as he preached his last sermon. He had ruptured a blood vessel in his lungs. He had great difficulty in breathing, and before he finished he had to leave.
These are among his final words:
"I have lived amidst extraordinary struggles here; I have been saluted in mockery at night, before my door, by fifty or sixty shots from guns. Think how that would terrify a poor timid scholar such as I am . . . While I am nothing, yet I know that I have prevented many problems that would otherwise have occurred in Geneva . . . God has given me the power to write, but I have written nothing in hatred . . . but always I have faithfully attempted what I believed to be for the glory of God."
Having preached my first sermon at age sixteen and having preached an innumerable number of sermons since, I can sympathize with not wanting to stop preaching. The prospect that God could choose to end my usefulness with this privilege is daunting. I would hope to God that I have a few thousand sermons left.
However, should that day come I too hope it is not because of sin or foolishness that prohibits me from opening this wonderful book, enjoining the congregation to turn to the text of the moment, and in the Spirit's enablement, explain the text in such a manner that God's people would say, "Didn't the Word of God burn in our heart?"
God forbid, but if I am able, with a collapsed lung, difficulty in breathing, and blood in my mouth, may I continue to proclaim the truth of his gospel until death calls the "game."