Simultaneous Gifts

To prove the first point, viz., that God justifies not only by pardoning but by regenerating, he asks, whether he leaves those whom he justifies as they were by nature, making no change upon their vices? The answer is very easy: as Christ cannot be divided into parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification, which we perceive to be united together in him, are inseparable. Whomsoever, therefore, God receives into his favour, he presents with the Spirit of adoption, whose agency forms them anew into his image.


John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 308.

Marriage to Christ

until our minds become intent upon the Spirit, Christ, so to speak, lies idle because we coldly contemplate him as outside ourselves—indeed, far from us. We know, moreover, that he benefits only those whose “Head” he is [Eph. 4:15], for whom he is “the first-born among brethren” [Rom. 8:29], and who, finally, “have put on him” [Gal. 3:27]. This union alone ensures that, as far as we are concerned, he has not unprofitably come with the name of Savior. The same purpose is served by that sacred wedlock through which we are made flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone [Eph. 5:30], and thus one with him. But he unites himself to us by the Spirit alone. By the grace and power of the same Spirit we are made his members, to keep us under himself and in turn to possess him.


John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 541.

Beholding the image of God

The ministry of the word, I say, is like a looking-glass. For the angels have no need of preaching, or other inferior helps, nor of sacraments, for they enjoy a vision of God of another kind; and God does not give them a view of his face merely in a mirror, but openly manifests himself as present with them. We, who have not as yet reached that great height, behold the image of God as it is presented before us in the word, in the sacraments, and, in fine, in the whole of the service of the Church....Our faith, therefore, at present beholds God as absent. How so? Because it sees not his face, but rests satisfied with the image in the mirror; but when we shall have left the world, and gone to him, it will behold him as near and before its eyes.


John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:12

Indwelling of Christ in our hearts

that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short, that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body—in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him.


John Calvin, Inst 3.11.10

Righteous Judgement

"John 7:24. Judge not according to the appearance." ... Circumcision was properly held by them in reverence; and when it was performed on the Sabbath-day, they knew that the Law was not violated by it, because the works of God agree well with each other. Why do they not arrive at the same conclusion as to the work of Christ, but because their minds are preoccupied by a prejudice which they have formed against his person? Judgment, therefore, will never be right, unless it be regulated by the truth of the fact; for as soon as persons appear in public, they turn their eyes and senses on them, so that the truth immediately vanishes. While this admonition ought to be observed in all causes and affairs, it is peculiarly necessary when the question relates to the heavenly doctrine; for there is nothing to which we are more prone than to dislike that doctrine on account of the hatred or contempt of men.


John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 296.

Divine Accommodation

For who is so devoid of intellect as not to understand that God, in so speaking, lisps with us as nurses are wont to do with little children? Such modes of expression, therefore, do not so much express what kind of a being God is, as accommodate the knowledge of him to our feebleness. In doing so, he must, of course, stoop far below his proper height.


Calvin, Inst 1:13:1

Calvin's description of monks in his day

To find an application for this passage we need look no further than the monks, for though they are all completely unlearned asses, yet solely on account of their long robes and hoods they have the reputation of being learned men .... The excessively insolent pride of the monks comes chiefly from the fact that they measure themselves by themselves, and since in their cloisters there is nothing but barbarism, it is no wonder if the one-eyed man is king in the country of the blind.


John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Cor. 10:12

Calvin on Seeking Free Will

But those who, while they profess to be the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual destruction, labour under manifold delusion, making a heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both.


Calvin, 1559 Institutes, 1.15.8; "State of Man"

Fictitious Worship

Those, therefore, who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.


Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Calvin on Hosea 1:7, on insane Papists with a false god

When once they are persuaded that they worship God, they are seized by some fascination of Satan, so as to become delighted with all their own dotages, as we see to be the case at this day with the Papists, who are not only insane, but doubly frantic. If any one reproves them and says, that they worship not the true God, they are instantly on fire—“What! does not God accept our worship?”


John Calvin Commentary on Hosea 1:7

Calvin on morality in the 21st century

Owing to the innate self-love by which all are blinded, we most willingly persuade ourselves that we do not possess a single quality which is deserving of hatred; and hence, independent of any countenance from without, general credit is given to the very foolish idea, that man is perfectly sufficient of himself for all the purposes of a good and happy life.


Calvin Inst 2.2.2

Calvin on Desisting from Inquiry

Let us, I say, allow the Christian to unlock his mind and ears to all the words of God which are addressed to him, provided he do it with this moderation, viz., that whenever the Lord shuts his sacred mouth, he also desists from inquiry. The best rule of sobriety is, not only in learning to follow wherever God leads, but also when he makes an end of teaching, to cease also from wishing to be wise."


Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Scriptural Chastity

For a strict adherence to the word of God constitutes spiritual chastity.


Calvin. Commentary on Psalm 106:39

Against Presumptuous Curiosity

Hence it is obvious, that in seeking God, the most direct path and the fittest method is, not to attempt with presumptuous curiosity to pry into his essence, which is rather to be adored than minutely discussed, but to contemplate him in his works, by which he draws near, becomes familiar, and in a manner communicates himself to us.


Calvin. Institutes 1:5:9

Judge by theology, not by terms or creeds, lest we throw Calvin under the bus

Viret refuted all his quirks and calumnies with so much cleverness, that being manifestly detected, he might be considered as convicted upon this point. That he might, therefore, appear to have got the better of us in something or other, he accused the whole meeting of Arianism. I rose up immediately and brought forward the confession in our Catechism, which is repeated in our public letter to your college. Even this did not quiet him, but he declared that we would be suspected in that matter, until we subscribed the creed of Athanasius. I replied, that it was not my practice to approve any thing as the words of God, unless upon due consideration. Here observe the rabid fury of the little ass. Thereupon he cried out, that it was an expression unbecoming a Christian man.


Letters of John Calvin, To Megander, Geneva, February 1537

Penetrate the Heart

As the outward voice of man cannot at all penetrate the heart, it is in the free and sovereign determination of God to give the profitable use of the signs to whom He pleases.

Nam quod ad sacramenta in genere spectat, neque illis gratiam Dei alligamus, neque ad ea transferimus spiritus sancti officium aut virtutem, neque in ipsis locamus salutis fiduciam. Diserte enim profitemur solum Deum esse qui agit per sacramenta, et tam efficaciam spiritui sancto ferimus acceptam.


Calvin, C.R. 9:25; Ronald Wallace HT Calvin's Doctrine of Word and Sacrament, p. 170.

Sacramental Presumption

When I baptise, is it as if I had the Holy Ghost up my sleeve to produce at any time? or the body and blood of the Lord to offer to whom I please? It would be sheer presumption to seek to attribute to mortal creatures what belongs to Jesus Christ.


Calvin, Sermon on Acts 1:4-5 Ronald Wallace HT Calvin's Doctrine of Word and Sacrament, p. 172.

Calvin on Hosea 1:10, on the Papists divorcing themselves from God

We see that the Papists swell with this pride at this day. To excuse all their errors, they set up against us this shield, “Christ promised to be with his own to the end of the world. Can the spouse desert his Church? Can the Son of God, who is the eternal Truth of the Father, fail in his faithfulness?” The Papists magnificently extol the faithfulness of Christ, that they may bind him to themselves: but at the same time, they consider not that they are covenant-breakers; they consider not that they are manifestly the enemies of God; they consider not that they have divorced themselves from him.


John Calvin Commentary on Hosea 1:10

Baptism and Forgiveness

Surely, forasmuch as the blood of Christ is the only means whereby our sins are washed away, and as it was once shed to this end, so the Holy Ghost, by the sprinkling thereof through faith, doth make us clean continually. This honour cannot be translated unto the sign of water, without doing open injury to Christ and the Holy Ghost; and experience doth teach how earnestly men be bent upon this superstition. Therefore, many godly men, lest they put confidence in the outward sign, do overmuch extenuate the force of baptism. But they must keep a measure, that the sacraments may be kept within their bounds, lest they darken the glory of Christ; and yet they may not want their force and use.

Wherefore, we must hold this, first, that it is God alone who washeth us from our sins by the blood of his Son; and to the end this washing may be effectual in us, he worketh by the hidden power of his Spirit. Therefore, when the question is concerning remission of sins, we must seek no other author thereof but the heavenly Father, we must imagine no other material cause but the blood of Christ; and when we be come to the formal cause, the Holy Ghost is the chief.


we must again beware that we tie not the grace of God to the sacraments; for the external administration of baptism profiteth nothing, save only where it pleaseth God it shall.


John Calvin, Commentary on Acts 22:16

No Word, No Faith

Take away the Word, then, and there will be no faith left.


Calvin, Inst. 3:2:6

An Execrable Idol

It makes little difference, at least in this respect, whether you hold the existence of one God, or a plurality of gods, since, in both cases alike, by departing from the true God, you have nothing left but an execrable idol.


Calvin. Institutes 1:4:3

Election and the Labyrinth

[Peter] would have us to know [election] by the effects, for there is nothing more dangerous or more preposterous than to overlook our calling and to seek for the certainty of our election in the hidden prescience of God, which is the deepest labyrinth.


John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter 1:1-2

On the 2nd Commandment

…yet there is no doubt but that by synecdoche, as in all the rest of the Law, he condemns all fictitious services which men in their ingenuity have invented. For hence have arisen the carnal mixtures whereby God’s worship has been profaned, that they estimate Him according to their own reason…


Calvin’s Commentary, Exodus 20:4

Woe to you when all men shall applaud you

This warning refers peculiarly to teachers, who have no plague more to be dreaded than ambition: because it is impossible for them not to corrupt the pure doctrine of God, when they “seek to please men,” (Gal. 1:10.)


Calvin. Commentary on Luke 6:26

Calvin on Fate

Fate is a term given by the Stoics to their doctrine of necessity, which they had formed out of a multiplex labyrinth of contradictory reasonings; a doctrine calculated to call God Himself to order, and to set Him laws whereby to work. But Predestination I define to be, according to the Holy Scriptures, that free and unfettered counsel of God by which He rules all mankind, and all men and things, and also all parts and particles of the world by His infinite wisdom and incomprehensible justice.


John Calvin and Henry Cole, Calvin’s Calvinism: A Defence of the Secret Providence of God (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 41.

Only less than demigods

So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods.


John Calvin, Inst 1.1.1

Calvin on Hosea 2:17, on the Papist idolatry

“Let us worship Baalim.” The Papists do the same; when they enter their temples, they immediately turn to the image of Mary or of some saint, and dare not come to God. At the same time they worship God, that is, pretend to worship God, and they call superstition God’s worship.


John Calvin Commentary on Hosea 2:17

Penetrating Preacher Painters

Let those who would discharge aright the ministry of the gospel learn, not merely to speak and declaim, but to penetrate into the consciences of men, to make them see Christ crucified, and feel the shedding of his blood. When the Church has painters such as these, she no longer needs the dead images of wood and stone, she no longer requires pictures; both of which, unquestionably, were first admitted to Christian temples when the pastors had become dumb and been converted into mere idols, or when they uttered a few words from the pulpit in such a cold and careless manner, that the power and efficacy of the ministry were utterly extinguished.


John Calvin, Commentary on Galatians 3:1

Calvin's Dedication of his Titus commentary





My Commentary—which now goes forth bearing the inscription of your name—is, indeed, a small gift; yet I fully believe that it will be acceptable to you, for this reason, that the subject of the Epistle induced me to make this Dedication. The task of putting the finishing hand to that building which Paul had begun in Crete, but left incomplete was undertaken by Titus. I occupy nearly the same position with regard to you. When you had made some progress in rearing this church with vast exertions, and at great risk, after some time had elapsed I came, first as your assistant, and afterwards was left as your successor, that I might endeavor to carry forward, to the best of my ability, that work which you had so well and so successfully begun. This work, I and my colleagues are endeavoring to perform, if not with so great progress as might have been desired yet heartily and faithfully, according to our small ability. To return to you, in consequence of holding the same relation to you which Paul assigned to Titus, I have been led to consider this similarity as a good reason for selecting you above all others, for dedicating to you this labor of mine. Meanwhile, to the present age, and perhaps to posterity, it will, at least, be some evidence of that holy union and friendship which exists between us. I think that there has never been, in ordinary life, a circle of friends so sincerely bound to each other as we have been in our ministry. With both of you I discharged here the office of pastor; and so far was there from being any appearance of envy, that you and I seemed to be one. We were afterwards separated by places; for you, Farell, were invited by the church of Neufchastel, which you had rescued from the tyranny of Popery, and brought into obedience to Christ; and you, Viret, are held in the same relation by the church of Lausanne. While each of us occupies his own position, our union brings together the children of God into the fold of Christ, and even. unites them in his body; while it scatters not only those outward enemies who openly carry on war with us, but those nearer and domestic enemies, by whom we are inwardly assailed. For I reckon this also to be one of the benefits resulting from being closely related, that filthy dogs, whose bites cannot succeed so far as to tear and rend the Church of Christ, do nothing more than bark against it with all their might. And, indeed, we cannot too thoroughly despise their insolence, since we can, with truth, glory before God, and have proved to men by the clearest evidence, that we cultivate no other society or friendship than that which has been consecrated to the name of Christ, which has hitherto been advantageous to his Church, and which has no other aim than that all may be at one with us in Him. Farewell, my most excellent and most upright brethren. May the Lord Jesus continue to bless your pious labors! GENEVA, 29th November 1549.


Calvin's Dedication of his Titus commentary

Calvin on Common Grace

For what is said as to the Spirit dwelling in believers only, is to be understood of the Spirit of holiness by which we are consecrated to God as temples. Notwithstanding of this, He fills, moves, and invigorates all things by the virtue of the Spirit, and that according to the peculiar nature which each class of beings has received by the Law of Creation. But if the Lord has been pleased to assist us by the work and ministry of the ungodly in physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other similar sciences, let us avail ourselves of it, lest, by neglecting the gifts of God spontaneously offered to us, we be justly punished for our sloth.


Inst 2.2.16

Written against Caner and Lumpkins?

"The only confession which they want is a rejection of all inquiry, and an obstinate defence of any random fiction which may have fallen from them. It is perfectly obvious, though the devil has fascinated their minds in a fearful manner, that it is pride more than error that makes them so pertinacious in assailing our doctrine.

As he pretends that he is an advocate of the Church, and in order to deceive the simple by fallacious masks, is ever and anon arrogating to himself the common character of all who teach rightly, I should like to know who authorized him to assume this office."


Calvin against Heshusius and Westphal

Calvin on Preaching

Faith then is by hearing, &c. We see by this conclusion what Paul had in view by the gradation which he formed; it was to show, that wherever faith is, God has there already given an evidence of his election; and then, that he, by pouring his blessing on the ministration of the gospel, to illuminate the minds of men by faith, and thereby to lead them to call on his name, had thus testified, that the Gentiles were admitted by him into a participation of the eternal inheritance.

And this is a remarkable passage with regard to the efficacy of preaching; for he testifies, that by it faith is produced. He had indeed before declared, that of itself it is of no avail; but that when it pleases the Lord to work, it becomes the instrument of his power. And indeed the voice of man can by no means penetrate into the soul; and mortal man would be too much exalted, were he said to have the power to regenerate us; the light also of faith is something sublimer than what can be conveyed by man: but all these things are no hindrances, that God should not work effectually through the voice of man, so as to create faith in us through his ministry.

It must be further noticed, that faith is grounded on nothing else but the truth of God; for Paul does not teach us that faith springs from any other kind of doctrine, but he expressly restricts it to the word of God; and this restriction would have been improper if faith could rest on the decrees of men. Away then with all the devices of men when we speak of the certainty of faith. Hence also the Papal conceit respecting implicit faith falls to the ground, because it tears away faith from the word; and more detestable still is that blasphemy, that the truth of the word remains suspended until the authority of the Church establishes it.


John Calvin, Commentary on Romans 10:17

Calvin on Purposeless Evil

Meantime, you hesitate not to vomit forth your profane and abhorrent opinion that God is worse than any wolf, who thus wills to create men to misery. Some men, be it remembered, are born blind, some deaf, some dumb, some of monstrous deformity. Now, if we are to go by your opinion as the judge in these sacred and deep matters, God is also cruel, because He afflicts His offspring with such evils as these, and that, too, before they have seen the light.


John Calvin and Henry Cole, Calvin’s Calvinism: A Defence of the Secret Providence of God (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 50.

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