II. Calvin's Contrary Thesis

The Institutes testify fully and abundantly to what I think even should I add nothing besides. First of all, I beg my readers to recall the admonition made there. This matter is not a subtle and obscure speculation, as they falsely think, which wearies the mind without profit. It is rather a solid argument excellently fitted to the use of the godly. For it builds up faith soundly,[1] trains us to humility, elevates us to admiration of the immense goodness of God towards us, and excites us to praise this goodness. There is no consideration more apt for the building up of faith, than that we should listen to this election which the Spirit of God testifies in our hearts to stand in the eternal and inflexible goodwill of God, invulnerable to all storms of the world, all assaults of Satan and all vacillation of the flesh. For then indeed our salvation is assured to us, since we find its cause in the breast of God.[2] For thus we lay hold of life in Christ made manifest to faith, so that, led by the same faith, we can penetrate farther to see from what source this life proceeds. Confidence of salvation is founded upon Christ and rests on the promises of the gospel. Nor is it a negligible support when, believing in Christ, we hear that this is divinely given to us, that before the beginning of the world we were both ordained to faith and also elected to the inheritance of heavenly life. Hence arises an impregnable security.[3] The Father who gave us to the Son as His peculiar possession is stronger than all, and will not suffer us to be plucked out of His hand. Here then is no commonplace cause for humility, as a man discerns so different a condition in those who have a common nature. Wherever the sons of God turn their eyes, they light upon remarkable examples of blindness and stupidity which horrify them. Knowing themselves to be illumined in the midst of this darkness, they ask how it happens that others in the midst of clear light remain blind.[4] Experience convinces them that, though once the eyes of their mind were closed, now they are open[5] - who thus differentiates them? For this is certain, that those who voluntarily remain ignorant of the difference between them and others have not yet learned to render to God what is His own. No one doubts that the root of piety and the mother of all virtues is humility. But how is he to be humble who will not hear of the original misery from which he has been delivered, and who, by extending the beneficence of God promiscuously to all, does all in his power to diminish it? Certainly they are far from honouring the grace of God as it merits, who declare that, while it is common to all, it effectually resides in them because they have embraced it by faith. For all the time they would keep the cause of faith out of sight, namely that, elected to be sons by grace, they have afterwards bestowed upon them the spirit of adoption. What kind of gratitude is it if, endowed with an incomparable benefit, I only profess myself debtor on equal terms with him who has received hardly a hundredth part of it? Hence, if to honour the goodness of God it is chiefly necessary to remember how much we are indebted to Him, they are malicious injurers of God who consider the doctrine of eternal election burdensome and vexatious. For if it is buried out of sight,[6] half the grace of God must vanish with it. Let them clamour who will[7] -we shall always equip the doctrine of gratuitous election as we teach it with this maxim, for without it the faithful cannot adequately apprehend how great is the goodness of God by which they are effectually called to salvation. I touch lightly on these things which in their own place will be dealt with in a more adequate manner, lest anyone, avoiding a thing which it is supremely needful to know, should later feel gravely injured by its neglect. If we are not ashamed of the gospel, we must confess what is there plainly declared. God, by His eternal goodwill, which has no cause outside itself, destined those whom He pleased to salvation, rejecting the rest; those whom He dignified by gratuitous adoption He illumined by His Spirit, so that they receive the life offered in Christ, while others voluntarily disbelieve, so that they remain in darkness destitute of the light of faith.


[1] From this point onwards, the French version follows the Latin closely.

[2] French version has: in His will which never alters.

[3] French version adds: as our Lord Jesus Himself says.

[4] French adds: unless there be a gift not indifferently bestowed upon all.

[5] French has: how has God opened their eyes, although they once had them closed just like those who remain unbelieving?

[6] French has: if it is trampled out of sight.

[7] French has; Let the malicious and those of depraved judgment murmur.