MY INTRODUCTION TO CALVIN was by what he had written. I admit my lack of scholarship where his life story is concerned. And I came to Calvin somewhat late. Luther, yes. Tyndale, obviously. The Saxon. The Englishman. But the French? And I had the suspicion (ill-informed as suspicion most often is) that there was something marble about Calvin, a kind of prickly antiquity, of the kind you rather endure than enjoy. Like so many things, I was wrong.
But having an ear for devotional literature, I turned first toward his meditative devotional side. Doing so, I found his prayers and meditations particularly modern, with an adult kind of sweetness, a sweetness that comes with seasoning. He anticipates our own generation with an emphasis on self, or in Calvin's case, self-examination and introspection, wrangling with one's unsettling inner monologue. Essentially, until a man has seen the face of God, he cannot know himself. He speaks often of the blindness of man until the Word, that a man must reckon with God every day of his life.
That said, Calvin was a somewhat shy person. Luther had a way of commanding a room when he walked into it, his strides long, he would hurl himself outward. Not so, Calvin. He was more bookish. And for all that he writes about the self and its reckoning with God, during his lifetime he hardly spoke of himself at all. The gears grinding away in a hidden place.