“We bid a man begin by examining himself, and this not in a superficial and perfunctory manner, but to cite his conscience before the tribunal of God, and when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced upon all sinners.
Thus confounded and amazed at his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God. And, casting away all self-confidence, he groans as if given up to final perdition. Then we show that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete.
As all mankind are, in the sight of God, lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, He has appeased the divine anger; by His blood, He has washed away our sins; by His cross, He has borne our curse; and by His death, He has made satisfaction for us.
We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father, by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy. When we embrace Christ by faith we come, as it were, into communion with Him.”
–John Calvin, “Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto” in A Reformation Debate, Ed. John Olin (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966/1539), 66-67.