This method of argument is still popular today, to be sure — a recent example being the Report of the Royal Commission on Population Trends, which, after considering a great many reasons why Britain is likely to find it impossible to support its present population, concludes that, since no one can be quite sure that these reasons will operate, every effort should be made to maintain the population at the present figure.
So terrible were the forces of guilt and destructiveness animating Calvin, that he not only revived Augustine’s doctrine of pre-destination but carried it to an even more fearful extreme, and resolutely condemned to eternal torment, not only all babies which died before baptism, but all persons in non-Christian countries — including, of course, all persons living prior to the time of Christ. As Troeltsch points out, the doctrine of predestination is one which effectively precludes the operation of divine love and mercy: psychologically it is the reaction of one who, having been treated with cruelty, reacts by deciding to suppress his own instincts of tenderness. Under Calvin’s rule, midwives took to baptizing sickly infants as soon as they were born, to save them from this frightful fate; Calvin promptly put a stop to the practice, assuaging his conscience with the claim that God, in his justice, would not let anyone die unbaptized who really deserved to be saved. The practice of giving immediate baptism to sickly babies prevails in England to this day.
It is therefore quite in keeping that Calvin constructed at Geneva probably the strictest theocratic society ever devised and treated with savage severity all those who held views opposed to his own. In this heaven, not only were fornication and adultery proscribed but even the mildest forms of spontaneity. The Registers reveal that bridesmaids were arrested for decorating a bride too gaily. People were punished for dancing, spending time in taverns, eating fish on Good Friday, having their fortunes told, objecting when the priest christened their child by a different name from the one they had chosen, arranging a marriage between persons of disparate ages, singing songs against Calvin, and much besides. (123) Pierre Ami, one of those responsible for bringing Calvin to Geneva, was imprisoned for dancing with his wife at a betrothal; his wife later had to flee the country.