Calvin’s Final Lecture- 2 February, 1564

From the time of his prolonged illness in the autumn and winter of 1558–59, Calvin’s health, never vigorous at best, and long undermined by overwork, anxiety and want of exercise, was evidently gravely impaired. That illness left its mark in a lameness that at times involved distress; and a yet more serious sequence was manifest in pulmonary hemorrhages. The severe indigestion from which he had suffered since the days when he was an unsparing student at Paris and Orléans now increased so as to compel the rigidly abstemious diet, the long hours on the bed, and the semi-invalid life of which some account has been given.

His old enemy, protracted headaches, doubtless the result of his digestive weakness, often attacked him. By 1563, Calvin’s feeble frame was rapidly breaking. In the autumn he was for two months confined to the house. His indigestion was now marked by severe attacks of colic. He suffered from renal calculus and gout; and other distressing symptoms appeared.

He still laboured at his books and correspondence, he still preached and lectured; but with increasing difficulty. The brave spirit was master of the feeble body and he was carried to the familiar pulpit in a chair, when no longer able to walk. But a shortness of breath that seemed to his contemporaries an indication of advancing pulmonary tuberculosis was now manifest. On February 2, 1564, he lectured for the last time in the Academy; four days later he preached his last sermon.*

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*Williston Walker, John Calvin: The Organiser of Reformed Protestantism (New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), 434–435.