John Calvin’s emphasis was upon certainty. He abhorred the way in which Romanism kept people wondering whether or not they were saved. In his Defense of the Reformed faith, p. 256; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1958), he wrote:
Thus nothing is left but constant disquietude, and slow torture, and perplexing doubts, which will wear out the soul not less effectively than open murder.
In speaking of Roman confession, he also said,
The Apostles did not discharge their office of binding and loosing by hearing Confessions, but by preaching the gospel . . . And the reason why they strongly urge Confession is, because they wish to make the world obsequious to them, and to hold it in subjection . . . yet to color Confession, and hold it forth as a thing necessary to salvation, is neither expedient nor lawful. Conscience cannot be squeezed by the chains of such laws, without being strangled. (Ibid., p. 257, 258).
He was concerned about poor, wretched people, deluded by the traditions of men, who were enslaved to a system purporting to be Christian, but in reality, anything but.
There is salvation neither in works of penitence, nor in any other ceremony...