Treatises on the

Eternal Predestination

of God the Secret
Providence
of God

By: John Calvin


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

"CALVIN'S CALVINISM"--This definitive title is prefixed to the present publications advisedly and purposely, as embodying in its expression the nature of the original works of the immortal Genevese Reformer, and also the object of the present translation, The originals are Calvin's testimony and real mind concerning the doctrines of God's electing, predestinating and sovereign grace; while his own exposition and expression of his faith therein satisfactorily evince and beautifully manifest the spirit in which he held and taught those divine and sublime doctrines.

No servant of Christ, probably, since the days of the apostles and of the Gospel witnesses of their century, has been more grossly misrepresented or more maliciously maligned than the faithful, fearless and beloved Calvin. But the British Church of Christ shall now (the Translator intends, under the Divine blessing) see, and love, and admire, while the whole nation shall know what the heavenly John Calvin really was in his ministry, and is still, and ever will be, in his writings, as long as the originals shall survive the desolations of time.

The present and (D.v.) forthcoming Treatises derive a considerable accession of value and interest from be fact that they are the only productions of Calvin which he devoted expressly, exclusively and purposely, to the exposition and defence of the sublime doctrines of electing, predestinating and persevering grace. Those glorious truths are indeed, as a matter of natural consequence, interwoven with the whole of his written and voluminous labours, which consist principally of commentaries on most, or nearly all, the books of the Holy Scriptures. But the two Treatises now under publication are devoted wholly by the pre-eminent Reformer to the statement and vindication of those all-high doctrines which formed the burden of his faith, testimony, confession and ministry, and as such they are signally interesting and valuable.


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. 7

There are, in the religious world, almost as many different shades, phases, kinds and degrees, of Calvinism as there are Calvinists (or professors of the doctrines of Calvin), and almost as many diverse opinions on the faith and character of the Reformer himself. But (as the present Translator has already remarked) he now presents the Church of Christ in England, and the British public in general, with (they may rest fully assured) CALVIN'S own CALVINISM.

Calvinism is a designation, by which the doctrines of the sovereign grace of God have been distinguished for the last two centuries, but more particularly and generally for the last century. The term derives, of course, its descriptiveness from the historical fact that the eminent Swiss Reformer was the chosen servant of God, appointed by Him to proclaim and defend more prominently than any contemporary or antecedent witness the sublime doctrines in question. Not that these stupendous truths originated with Calvin, but with God Himself. They form an essential portion of the revelation of His Word. They are no more Calvinism than Augustinism, or Lutherism, or Bucerism, or Cranmerism, or Latimerism, for they are Bibleism, and the ism of every saint and true minister of Christ; they are the solidity and security of all true religion; they are the fast-hold of faith; they form a substantial ingredient in every true ministry of the Gospel; and they constitute an essential doctrine in the confession of every true Church of Christ. Hence it is that the truthful and faithful Reformers interwove it with the whole worship and services, and laid it at the foundation of the confession of the Church of England !

The admirable Calvin has treated this stupendous subject with all the penetrating acumen and commanding might of mind with which he was peculiarly endowed by nature, and with that accuracy, conclusiveness and force of logical argument, of which he was a perfect and powerful master. These natural and acquired qualifications for his important task, enabled him


8 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

to discover, at the farthest distance, the subtle aims of his opponents in all their hostile reality, and to establish against them a self-defending bulwark of Divine truth with impregnable and lasting solidity; while " the unction from the Holy One," with which he was himself anointed as a son and a servant of the Most High (1 John ii. 20), sanctifying all his intellectual and literary powers, has rendered these holy and masterly Treatises as much a delight and a profit to the Church of Christ as an exposure, refutation and condemnation of the world, of human reason, scepticism and infidelity. The crowning success of the whole, however, is that the God of truth is greatly glorified by this His noble and edifying witness's indestructible testimony !

When Martin Luther had, by the " hammer " of God's " Word " (Jer. xxiii. 29), beaten to atoms the mighty pile of superstition, idolatry, hypocrisy, formality, " will-worship," work-worship and infinite " abominations," erected by the twelve centuries' labour of the anti-Christian Harlot of the World, and had based on its prostrate and exposed ruins the great cardinal doctrine of salvation, Justification by Faith; the Church of Christ, thus reformed and " turned from dead works to serve the living God" (1 Thess. i. 9), soon required, under her characteristic infirmities, a stability and confidence in her newly " given faith " (Eph. ii. 8), and a security that should assure her of its appointed " end " -- " the salvation of the soul " (1 Pet. i. 9). The great and merciful Head of His Church, seeing this, raised up John Calvin, and divinely and powerfully equipped him to go forth and minister to the yet unassured Church the doctrines of His electing, predestinating and immutable grace, founded on His sovereign will and inscrutable purpose. These glorious doctrines formed then, as they do now, and ever will do, " chambers " (Isa. xxvi. 20; Song i. 4) into which believers might enter, and " beds " upon which they might securely and eternally rest (Isa. lvii. 2; Psa. cxlix. 5). Thus a scope and foundation were given


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. 9

for the assurance of faith as broad and as sure as the Eternal Mind!

The human and unregenerate mind, however, utterly incapable of soaring to an adequate and reverential contemplation of these all-high and supernatural truths, has ever fallen back, dazzled and confounded, upon its own vain, ineffectual and often irreverent and profane reasonings ( 1 Cor. ii. 14). These reasonings, in all their forms, the present work of Calvin meets, exposes, refutes and condemns. It explains the real nature of these sublime mysteries, and exalts them in triumph over all the reason, pride and malice of the " natural man." Nor has there ever been, nor is there now, nor is there likely to be, an opposing argument of unsanctified reason which the present works do not state, or anticipate, expose and refute.

And wherever the " natural man," unrenewed and untaught by the Spirit of God, does receive the sublime doctrines of grace " in the letter " of them (for myriads of such receivers there ever are), planted, as they then must be, in the soil of a graceless, hard, unbroken and unhumbled spirit; such professors of them state them, expound, teach, preach and enforce them in a manner immeasurably beneath their highness and their holiness; in a manner tainted, more or less, with irreverence, if not with presumption or even with profanity. Such an unsanctified method of setting forth the sublime verities of electing and predestinating grace can never profit either sinner or saint, but must create in both, grief, or offence, or disgust. But where these mighty truths are taught by the Spirit of their glorious Author, which is ever the case with all the children of God, ministers and people (" All thy children shall be taught of the Lord," Isa. liv. 13), their profoundly reverent tenure and their holy exposition are always inseparably united. When thus received and deposited in the broken and humbled hearts of the disciples of Christ, under " the unction that teacheth " (1 John ii. 20), they will be held, without exception, in all humility,


10 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

reverence and adoration, and under their saving influence the prostration of soul before their majesty will be equal to the confidence they inspire, and to the triumph of faith over sin, death and hell, which they secure. In a word, they will ever be held and taught by all who are saved by them, as they were by the heavenly John Calvin, the possessor, teacher and defender of their truth, their value, their sublimity and their incomprehensibility.

There is not, perhaps, an extra-Bible saint recorded or known in whom can be found greater humility, meekness, contrition, reverence and adoration, than are evident throughout the life, ministry and writings of John Calvin. In him, therefore, all the " family of heaven" (Eph. iii. 15) on earth find not only a burning and a shining light as an eminent servant of Christ, but a holy, humble and loving brother, a broken-hearted fellow-sinner, a saved fellow-saint, and a profound fellow-worshipper; a " lamb " before the saints, but a " lion " before the world; a " lamb ' before God, but a "' lion " for God. One with whom they can " see eye to eye " (Isa. lii. 8) in all Divine things, while they gladly bow before the authority and power of his testimony.

Illegitimate Calvinists (as sound divines and faithful men have during the last century correctly designated the graceless imitators of Calvin) know nothing of the spirit or religion of Calvin; nor can they know either, because they possess neither. We have already described their spirit, their profession and their teaching, which are as far and as diverse from those of Calvin as darkness from light, as the " Spirit which is from above" from the spirit which is from the earth, or from beneath. They neither know Calvin's religion, nor can have any fellowship with him therein, nor he with them. These illegitimate representatives of the humble and holy Reformer, being unregenerate persons, are often unholy as well as unhumbled men. They are frequently Antinomians in doctrine, if not in practice.


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. 11

Not so was Calvin. He was as holy as he was truthful; as humble as he was fearless; as remarkable for his chastity as for his intrepidity. Were he now on earth, he would not acknowledge these characters as his legitimate offspring. One hour's attempt to hold communion with them would force from him that solemn sentence which will, it may be feared, be one day pronounced on them by " a Greater " than Calvin: " I know you not ! "

It has been a matter of much wonder to the Translator that no English versions of these important Treatises of Calvin have ever appeared, for they embody the very faith, and testimony, and ministry of the prominent Reformer. It is surprising that none of those good and industrious men who translated into English that invaluable and imperishable work, Luther " On the Galatians," and those other standard reformative productions -- Luther " On the Psalms of Degrees," Luther's " Sermons," Calvin " On Job," and Dean Nowell's " Catechism," etc., etc. -- did not give the British Church an English version of the present Treatises. Yet so it is. No English translation of these two productions has ever appeared till the present and the (D.v.) immediately forthcoming publications.

That no English illegitimates ever undertook the duty of representing in English their pretended father is no marvel at all. The work must have been by far too hot for them to undertake. Their labour would have condemned and consumed their religion as fast as they proceeded. Calvin's truth would have crushed and annihilated their error; his light would have discovered and exposed their darkness; his life would have awestruck their death; and his holy fire would have consumed their graceless profession to ashes. No one, indeed, could faithfully and really translate Calvin or Luther, or any other kindred servant of God, but a true participator in the religion of the original authors. One of a general acquaintance with the Latin, or French, or German languages of the original


12 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

productions might transvert the one language into another, but he could not trans-convey the mind, and most certainly could not transfuse the saving spirit of his author, whether Calvin or Luther. None could do this but a partaker of Calvin's or Luther's spirit, faith, and religion.

Whether it be the intent of the present meritoriously laboring CALVIN'S Society to translate into English the two Treatises now under publication the present Translator knows not. If it be so, there must lie in the way of every general English lover of Calvin a very formidable pecuniary impediment. He could not procure either of these Treatises without purchasing the whole of the already-issued series of the Calvin Society, amounting to forty or more volumes. The sight of this serious difficulty formed one portion of the present Translator's resolve to undertake his delightful task, knowing that he could thereby put these invaluable relic-testimonies into the hand of any English reader for a moderate sum, and thus render the British Church of Christ a considerable monetary help, and confer upon her a lasting benefit, thus furnishing, for her perusal and profit, two invaluable productions of the Geneva Reformer, which had lain unprofitable to her, and unknown by her, for above 300 years.1

One word more in conclusion. Above 300 years ago were the divine contents of these Treatises penned by Calvin. But such is the enduring and unchangeable nature of all Divine Truth and its confession, that these testimonies of the beloved Reformer, which flowed from his heart, to be left by his pen on the pages of the originals, still meet, even when re-clothed in a different language, the spirits of all the " family of heaven " (Eph. iii. 15), as they read them with the same divine life, freshness and unction, as they would have been felt if heard from the heart-supplied lips of John Calvin at Geneva. So blessed, glorious and true, is that


1Since this paragraph was written, the '' Calvin Society " has discontinued its operations; and these TWO Treatises have not been, nor, of course, are now intended to be, translated by them.


TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. 13

word: " For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting: and His truth endureth from generation to generation" (Psa. c. 5).

If, by the Divine blessing upon the present Translations, the disciples of Christ shall be comforted, and their faith confirmed; if the lovers of the truth shall be rejoiced and its defenders re-armed; if reasoners shall be rendered dumb and infidels confounded and ashamed; if the Church of Christ shall be edified and God glorified; the Translator's satisfaction, object and reward will have been fully and abundantly realised.

3 Upper Islington Terrace, London. December 27th, 1855.

THE CONSENT

OF THE PASTORS OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT GENEVA, CONCERNING "THE ETERNAL PREDESTINATION OF GOD," BY WHICH HE HAS CHOSEN SOME MEN UNTO SALVATION, WHILE HE HAS LEFT OTHERS TO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION, AND ALSO THEIR CONSENT CONCERNING " THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD,"* BY WHICH HE GOVERNS HUMAN AFFAIRS, SET FORTH

BY JOHN CALVIN.

The Pastors of the Church of Christ at Geneva pray that God would grant to those most excellent Men, their supreme Lords, and to the Syndics and Senate of Geneva, a just and holy administration of the State, and all happy prosperity and success.
2THE same motive which impelled us to write this book, most excellent Sirs, constrained us also to dedicate it to



2This portion of the CONSENT, concerning '' the Providence of God," which originally formed a Conclusion to the present Treatise, is transferred, by the Translator, to the Second Part " of. CALVIN'S CALVINISM" and made to constitute a PREFACE, by John Calvin, to that Work. An arrangement which, it is considered, will be deemed appropriate, and in peculiar harmony with the subject of the " Second Part," or Second Volume: which is A DEFENCE of the SECRET PROVIDENCE of GOD; by John Calvin.


14 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

you, that it might go forth under your name and auspices.3 The free election of God, by which He adopts unto Himself whom He will out of the lost generation-of men, has been hitherto publicly declared by us, in this city, with all reverence, sobriety and sincerity, and has been peacefully received by the people. But now, Satan, the father of all strifes, has subtlely introduced, by means of a certain worthless person, a wide spreading error, and has attempted to root out our doctrine, which is drawn from the pure Word of God, and to shake the faith of the people. But since this hungry hunter after vain glory wishes to gain notoriety out of the very flames of the temple of God, lest he should catch that reward of his unholy audacity for which he has laid his nets, let his name be buried under our silence, while we leave it purposely unmentioned.

But since the trouble which this vain mortal endeavoured to cause us, reaches unto you also, it is but just that you should partake of the blessed fruit which God brings out of it. And as we have ever found you strenuous and hearty defenders of our holy cause we have felt it to be our duty to testify, with all our ability, our gratitude. The performance of this our duty will also plainly testify what that doctrine is which you have protected by your favour and authority. And although it becomes neither the rulers of the State, nor the ministers of Christ, to be too anxious about rumours and tumults; and though all insidious revilings (which are generally lost, by degrees, in the noise they make) should be despised, both by rulers and ministers of Christ, with fortitude and an exalted mind; yet it is of the utmost importance that the great reality of the matter concerned should ever be kept in the hands, and



3 This testimony of esteem and love for their principal Pastor CALVIN, and of value for his ministerial service, as their representative, in the following Treatise (1 Thess. v.13), are lasting honours to the Church of Christ, at Geneva: while the manifestation of their scriptural and prayerful subjection to "the powers that be," is a bright crown upon the genuineness of their religious profession, as disciples of Christ. (Rom. xiii. 1; Titus iii. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 13 to 17.)

THE CONSENT, ETC. 15

(as engraven on public tablets) before the eyes, of all, that the plain statement of it may condemn and stop the false tongues of the foolish, the vain, or the wicked, and, at the same time, repress the frivolous whispers of the people in general.

There was spread abroad in many places a rumour that this vain person was severely bound in prison, whereas he was perfectly free, and flying about the city openly every day. And with what malignity some virulent ones imagined and stated that we wished him to be put to death, you are yourselves our best witnesses.4 To refute such calumnies until they shall have vanished by contempt and tranquil magnanimity, is the becoming duty of gravity and prudence.

On the other hand, however, lest some unstable ones should be moved, of whom serious care must be taken, to set forth plainly before all the real state of the case and cause at issue is no less expedient than a solemn duty on our part. For iniquity, unless it be resolutely met, makes its creeping way (as saith Paul) " like a canker" (2 Tim. ii. 17). Now this Defence, which we offer to all the godly, will, we hope, be a strong and effectual remedy to those who are healable, and will serve also as a wholesome antidote to the sound and the whole. And the subject itself is one to which the children of God should devote their most studious attention, that they become not ignorant of their heavenly birth and origin. For some fools, because the Gospel is called " the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth," would blot out under this pretext the election of God; whereas it ought to have entered into the minds of such to think from whence faith comes ! Now the Scripture everywhere proclaimeth aloud that God giveth to His Son those that were ever His, that



4 The person to whom allusion is here made, is Servetus, the crafty and angry enemy of the Truth, and of Calvin, its faithful defender: of whose being put to death Calvin is falsely reported to have been the prominent adviser, as leading Pastor of the Genevan Church. The truth of which rumour is, in this Dedicatory Preface, most solemnly denied and the whole Senate of Geneva is appealed to, in confirmation of the veracity of the denial. (See last paragraph of preceding page.)

16 CALVIN'S CALVINISM

He calleth those whom He hath chosen, and that those whom He hath adopted for sons He begetteth by His Spirit; and finally, that the men whom He has taught within, and to whom His " arm is revealed," believe. Wherefore, whosoever shall hold faith to be the earnest and pledge of adoption, will assuredly confess that it flows from Divine election as its eternal source. And yet the knowledge of salvation is not to be sought from the secret counsel of God. Life is set before us in Christ, who not only makes Himself known, but presents Himself to our enjoyment in the Gospel. Into this mirror let the eye of our faith ever fixedly look. Nor let it ever desire to penetrate where access to its sight is not given.

Since this is the right way, let the children of God walk therein, lest by winging their flight higher than is lawful, they plunge themselves into a labyrinth deeper than they would wish to find themselves in. But as there is none other gate of the kingdom of heaven than faith in Christ, as contained in the promises of the Gospel openly set before us; so it must be the greatest ignorance not to acknowledge that the eyes of our minds are opened of God Himself, for He chose us unto faith in Christ before we were conceived in the womb. And yet, that the object of this impure and abandoned one was not only to blot out all knowledge of God's election from the minds of men, but to overturn His power also, is clearly manifest from those mad dreams of his, which ye possess in your public records, written with his own hand; wherein he asserts that faith does not depend on election, but that rather election stands in faith, and that none remain in blindness on account of the in-born corruption of nature, seeing that all men are rightly enlightened of God; and that we do a great injustice to God when we declare that those are passed by of Him whom He deigns not to illumine by His Spirit.

This worthless being also maintains that all men, generally and equally, are "drawn" of God; and that


THE CONSENT, ETC. 17

there is no difference, except where resistance begins it; and that when God promises that He will make " hearts of flesh " out of " hearts of stone," nothing else is meant than the making us capable of receiving the grace of God; and that this capability, or the being made capable, extends without distinction to the whole human race, whereas the Scripture most clearly affirms that this is the peculiar privilege of the Church of God.

As to the Providence of God, by which the world is ruled, this ought ever to be confessed and held fast by all the godly: that there is no reason why men should make God a sharer in their sins, or in any way involve Him with themselves in a participation of their fault. But since the Scripture teaches that the reprobate are also instruments of the wrath of God, by some of whom, He instructs the faithful unto patience, and on others of whom, as His enemies, He inflicts the punishments they deserve; this profane trifler contends that no act of God is just, but that for which there lies a plain reason before our eyes. Thus, doing away with all difference between remote and proximate and immediate causes, he will not allow the severe afflictions laid on Job to be considered the work of God, lest He should be made equally guilty with the devil, and the Chaldean and Sabean plunderers.

Now the reason why, passing by this fellow in silence, we enter into the battle with the other two, Albertus Phigius and Georgius the Sicilian, is, as we will explain to you, two-fold. This ignorant plagiary could bring forth nothing but what he obtained from these sources, and so would make what was bad in them worse and worse. To contend with him, therefore, would have been a contest cold and bootless. Let our readers be content with one proof. With what cavils Pighius and Georgius would darken the first chapter of Paul to the Ephesians has been shewn in its proper place. They, indeed, were ignorant and disgusting; but the folly of this worthless being is fouler still, who blushed not to babble his nonsense in your Senate and venerable


18 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

assembly; and not only so, but dared to defend with pertinacity what he had thus blattered in folly. For he maintained that Paul was not speaking in the above place concerning the common salvation of the godly, but shewing only that himself and his fellow-labourers were elected to the apostolic office. To disprove so futile a figment would be but a moment's work, seeing it is still fresh in your memories. But if any are willing to put themselves under such a teacher as this, they must be content to learn a miserable theology indeed, which would deprive nearly all men of a confidence in eternal life; for, according to it, the apostles alone could be partakers of Divine adoption, could alone be reconciled to Christ, could alone be blessed, could alone be joined to the company of the saints. But the place and time for the refutation of the vain figment in question was where and when it occurred. To refute so insipid an animal by a published book would not perhaps be so desirable and agreeable; for you are not ignorant how conceited he is, nor needs it be a matter of wonder that a man, who could throw off his monk's cowl and immediately transform himself into a physician, should be a person of such consummate audacity! But to nauseate many, by pleasing him with an " answer of folly, according to his folly " (Prov. xxvi. 4), would be somewhat foreign to my usual carefulness. And farther, since those two characters are known and professed enemies of the Gospel; and one of them, by attacking Calvin by name, has proclaimed war with us and this Church, it has seemed to us much better that the poison of the impious doctrine which has been spread abroad in their published books, should be purged away altogether, than that their absurdities should be farther propagated, which had much better remain buried out of knowledge; while it would, moreover, be tiresome to utterly wear out the ears of men, which have been so long fatigued and tormented with these superfluous contentions.

May God grant, noble and excellent Sirs, that (as


THE CONSENT, ETC. 19

ye have hitherto done with the highest praise) ye may go on unto the end to defend, by your unwearied faith and authority, the pure doctrine of the Gospel of Christ, which is attacked on every side by the angry violence of the world; and that ye may never cease to receive under your protecting care all the godly who flee to your protection; so that your city may ever be a sanctuary devoted to God and a faithful asylum for the members of Christ, remaining immovable amid these horrid tumults. Thus shall ye ever find Him to be an everlasting Guardian of your safety; for whatever dwelling-place of man is dedicated to Him, shall abide safe under His power and shall never fall!

January 1st, 1552.

DEDICATORY PREFACE

OF THE

PASTORS OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
AT GENEVA.

The Pastors of the Church of Christ at Geneva pray that God would grant to those most excellent Men, their supreme Lords, and to the Syndics and Senate of Geneva, a just and holy administration of the State, and all happy prosperity and success.

THE same motive which impelled me to write this book, constrained me also to dedicate it to you, most excellent Sirs, that it might go forth under your name and auspices. The free election of God, by which He adopts unto Himself whom He will out of the lost generation of men, has been hitherto publicly declared by me, in this city, with all reverence, sobriety and sincerity, and has been peacefully received by the people. But now, Satan, the father of all disturbances, has subtlely introduced a wide spreading error, and has attempted to root out my doctrine, which is drawn from the pure Word of


20 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

God, and to shake the faith of the whole people. But since this hungry hunter after vain glory wishes to gain notoriety out of the very flames of the temple of God, lest he should catch that reward of his sacrilegious audacity for which he has laid his nets, let his name remain buried in our silence, while I leave it purposely unmentioned.5

But since the trouble which this vain fellow endeavoured to cause me, reaches unto you also, it is but just that you should partake of the blessed fruit which God brings out of it. And as I have ever found you strenuous and hearty defenders of our holy cause, I have felt it to be my duty to testify, with all my ability my gratitude. The performance of this my duty will also plainly testify what that doctrine is which you have protected by your favour and authority. And although it becomes neither the rulers of the State, nor the ministers of Christ, to be too anxious about rumours and tumults; and though all insidious revilings (which are generally lost, by degrees, in the noise they make) should be despised, both by rulers and ministers of Christ, with fortitude and an exalted mind; yet it is of the utmost importance that the great reality of the matter concerned should ever be kept in the hands, and (as engraver on public tablets) before the eyes, of all, that the plain statement of it may condemn and stop tile false tongues of the foolish, the vain, or the wicked, and, at the same time, repress the frivolous whispers of the people in general.

There was spread abroad in many places a rumour that this vain person was severely bound in prison, whereas he was perfectly free, and flying about the city openly every day. And with what malignity some virulent ones imagined and stated that I wished him



5 The person here alluded to, is Servetus, the crafty and angry enemy of the truth, and of Calvin, its faithful defender: of whose being put to death Calvin is falsely reported to have been the prominent adviser. The truth of which rumour Calvin, in this Dedicatory Preface, most solemnly denies: calling the whole Senate of Geneva in witness (See second paragraph of this page.)

DEDICATORY PREFACE. 21

to be put to death, you are yourselves my best witnesses. To refute such calumnies until they shall have vanished by contempt and tranquil magnanimity, is the becoming duty of gravity and prudence.

On the other hand, however, lest some unstable ones should be moved, of whom serious care must be taken to set forth plainly before all the real state of the case and cause is no less expedient than a solemn duty on our part. For iniquity, unless it be resolutely met, makes its creeping way (as saith Paul) " like a canker " ( 2 Tim. ii. 17). Now this Defence, which I offer to all the godly, will, I hope, be a strong and effectual remedy to those who are healable, and will serve also as a wholesome antidote to the sound and the whole. And the subject itself is one to which the children of God may devote their most studious attention, that they become not ignorant of their heavenly birth and origin. For some fools, because the Gospel is called " the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth," would blot out under this pretext the election of God; whereas it ought to have entered into the minds of such to think from whence faith comes ! Now the Scripture everywhere proclaimeth aloud that God giveth to His Son those that were ever His, that He calleth those whom He hath chosen, and that those whom He hath adopted for sons He begetteth by His Spirit; and finally, that the men whom He has taught within, and to whom His " arm is revealed," believe. Wherefore, whosoever shall hold faith to be the earnest and pledge of adoption, will assuredly confess that it flows from Divine election as its eternal source. And yet the knowledge of salvation is not to be sought from the secret counsel of God. Life is set before us in Christ, who not only makes Himself known, but presents Himself to our enjoyment in the Gospel. Into this mirror let the eye of our faith ever fixedly look. Nor let it ever desire to penetrate where access to its sight is not given.

Since this is the right way, let the children of God


22 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

walk therein, lest by winging their flight higher than is lawful, they plunge themselves into a labyrinth deeper than they would wish to find themselves in. But as there is none other gate of the kingdom of heaven than faith in Christ, as contained in the promises of the Gospel openly set before us; so it must be the greatest stupidity not to acknowledge that the eyes of our minds are opened of God Himself, for He chose us unto faith in Christ before we were conceived in the womb. And yet, that the object of this filthy and abandoned one was not only to blot out all knowledge of God's election from the minds of men, but to overturn His power also, is clearly manifest from those mad dreams of his, which ye possess in your public records, written with his own hand; wherein he asserts that faith does not depend on election, but that rather election stands in faith, and that none remain in blindness on account of the in-born corruption of nature, seeing that all men are really enlightened of God; and that we do a great injustice to God when we declare that those are passed by of Him whom He deigns not to illumine by His Spirit.

This fellow also maintains that all men, generally and equally, are " drawn " of God; and that there is no difference, except where resistance begins it; and that when God promises that He will make " hearts of flesh " out of " hearts of stone," nothing else is meant than the making us capable of receiving the grace of God; and that this capability, or the being made capable, extends without distinction to the whole human race, whereas the Scripture most clearly affirms that this is the peculiar privilege of the Church of God.

As to the Providence of God, by which the world is ruled, this ought ever to be confessed and held fast by all the godly: that there is no reason why men should make God a sharer in their sins, or in any way involve Him with themselves in a participation of their fault. But since the Scripture teaches that the reprobate are also instruments of the wrath of God, by some of whom


DEDICATORY PREFACE. 23

He instructs the faithful unto patience, and on others of whom, as His enemies, He inflicts the punishments they deserve; this profane trifler contends that no act of God is just, but that for which there lies a plain reason before our eyes. Thus, doing away with all difference between remote and proximate and immediate causes, he will not allow the severe afflictions laid on Job to be considered the work of God, lest He should be made equally guilty with the devil, and the Chaldean and Sabean plunderers.

Now the reason why, passing by this fellow in silence, I enter into the battle with the other two, Albertus Pighius and Georgius of Sicily, is, as I will explain to you, two-fold. This ignorant pettifogger could bring forth nothing but what he got from these sources, and so would make what was bad in them worse and worse. To contend with him, therefore, would have been a contest cold and bootless. Let our readers be content with one proof. With what cavils Pighius and Georgius would darken the first chapter of Paul to the Ephesians has been shewn in its proper place. They, indeed, were ignorant and disgusting; but the folly of this fellow is fouler still, who blushed not to babble his nonsense in your Senate and venerable assembly; and not only so, but dared to defend with pertinacity what he had thus blattered in folly. For he maintained that Paul was not speaking in the above place concerning the common salvation of the godly, but shewing only that himself and his fellow-labourers were elected to the apostolic office. To disprove so futile a figment would be but a moment's work, seeing it is still fresh in your memories. But if any are willing to put themselves under such a teacher as this, they must be content to learn a miserable theology indeed, which would deprive nearly all men of a confidence in eternal life; for, according to it, the apostles alone could be partakers of Divine adoption, could alone be reconciled to Christ, could alone be blessed, could alone be joined to the company of the saints. But the


24 CALVIN'S CALVINISM.

place and time for the refutation of the vain figment in question was where and when it occurred. To refute so insipid a mortal by a published book would not perhaps be so desirable and agreeable; for you are not ignorant how conceited he is, nor needs it be a matter of wonder that a man, who could throw off his monk's cowl and immediately transform himself into a physician, should be a person of such consummate audacity! But to nauseate many, by pleasing him with an " answer of folly, according to his folly " would be somewhat foreign to my usual modesty. And farther, since those two characters are known and professed enemies of the Gospel; and one of them, by attacking Calvin by name, has proclaimed war with me and this Church, it has seemed to me much better that the poison of the impious doctrine which has been spread abroad in their published books, should be purged away altogether, than that their absurdities should be farther propagated, which had much better remain buried out of knowledge; while it would, moreover, be tiresome to utterly wear out the ears of men, already fatigued and tormented with such superfluous contentions.

May God grant, noble and excellent Sirs, that (as ye have hitherto done with the highest praise) ye may go on unto the end to defend, by your unwearied faith and authority, the pure doctrine of the Gospel of Christ, which is attacked on every side by the angry violence of the world; and that ye may never cease to receive under your protecting care all the godly who flee to your protection; so that your city may ever be a sanctuary devoted to God and a faithful asylum for the members of Christ, remaining immovable amid these horrible tumults. Thus shall ye ever find Him to be an everlasting Guardian of your safety; for whatever dwelling-place of man is dedicated to Him, shall abide safe under His power and shall never fall!

January 1st, 1552.
 



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