Moreover, they unjustly set the ancient fathers against us (I mean the ancient writers of a better age of the church) as if in them they had supporters of their own impiety. If the contest were to be determined by patristic authority, the tide of victory—to put it very modestly—would turn to our side. Now, these fathers have written many wise and excellent things. Still, what commonly happens to men has befallen them too, in some instances. For these so-called pious children of theirs, with all their sharpness of wit and judgment and spirit, worship only the faults and errors of the fathers. The good things that these fathers have written they either do not notice, or misrepresent or pervert. You might say that they only care is to gather dung amid gold.
John Calvin, “Prefatory Address to King Francis,” in The Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 18.
In the pages that follow, Calvin provides examples to substantiate his claim.