Being Harsh to the Glory of God

In his note to the reader in Psychopannychia, John Calvin opens with an explanation of why he sometimes has to write harshly in the tract. I not only appreciate his vigor in his defense of truth, but his pastoral care for those who may read his writing but are not the direct target of it.

ON again reading this DISCUSSION, I observe that, in the heat of argument, some rather severe and harsh expressions have escaped me, which may, perhaps, give offence to delicate ears; and as I know that there are some good men into whose minds some part of this dogma has been instilled, either from excessive credulity or ignorance of Scripture, with which at the time they were not armed so as to be able to resist, I am unwilling to give them offence so far as they will allow me, since they are neither perverse nor malicious in their error. I wish, therefore, to warn such beforehand not to take anything said as an affront to themselves, but to understand that, whenever I use some freedom of speech, I am referring to the nefarious herd of Anabaptists, from whose fountain this noxious stream did, as I observed, first flow, and against whom nothing I have said equals their deserts. If I am to have a future fight with them, I am determined they shall find me, if not a very skilful, yet certainly a firm, and as I dare promise, by God’s grace, an invincible defender of the Truth. And yet against them I have not given immoderate vent to my bile, having constantly refrained from all pertness and petulance of speech; tempering my pen so as to be fitter for teaching than forcing, and yet able to draw such as are unwilling to be led. It was certainly much more my intention to bring all back into the right way, than to provoke them to anger.

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 416.