§ 111. Calvin’s Commentaries.


I. Calvin’s Commentaries on the Old Test. in Opera, vols. XXIII.–XLIV., on the New Test., vols. XLV. sqq. (not yet completed). Separate Latin ed. of the Commentaries on the New Test. by Tholuck, Berlin, and Halle, 1831, 1836, etc., 7 vols.; also on Genesis (by Hengstenberg, Berlin, 1838) and on the Psalms (by Tholuck, 1836, 2 vols.). Translations in French (by J. Girard, 1650, and others), English (by various writers, 1570 sqq.), and other languages. Best English ed. by the "Calvin Translation Soc.," Edinburgh, 1843–55 (30 vols. for the O. T., 13 for the N. T.). See list in Darling’s Cyclopaedia Bibliographica, sub "Calvin."

II. A. Tholuck: Die Verdienste Calvin’s als Schriftausleger, in his "Lit. Anzeiger," 1831, reprinted in his "Vermischte Schriften" (Hamburg, 1839), vol. II. 330–360, and translated by Wm. Pringle (added to Com. on Joshua in the Edinb. ed. 1854, pp. 345–375).—G. W. Meyer: Geschichte der Schrifterklaerung, II. 448–475.—D. G. Escher.: De Calvino interprete, Traj., 1840.—Ed. Reuss: Calvin considéré comme exegète, in "Revue," VI. 223.—A. Vesson: Calvin exegète, Montaub, 1855.—E. Staehelin: Calvin, I. 182–198.— Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, I. 457–460.—Merx: Joel, Halle, 1879, pp. 428–444.—Fred. W. Farrar: History of Interpretation (London, 1886), pp. 342–354.


Calvin was an exegetical genius of the first order. His commentaries are unsurpassed for originality, depth, perspicuity, soundness, and permanent value. The Reformation period was fruitful beyond any other in translations and expositions of the Scripture. If Luther was the king of translators, Calvin was the king of commentators. Poole, in the preface to his Synopsis, apologizes for not referring more frequently to Calvin, because others had so largely borrowed from him that to quote them was to quote him. Reuss, the chief editor of his works and himself an eminent biblical scholar, says that Calvin was, beyond all question the greatest exegete of the sixteenth century."779  Archdeacon Farrar literally echoes this judgment.780  Diestel, the best historian of Old Testament exegesis, calls him "the creator of genuine exegesis."781  Few exegetical works outlive their generation; those of Calvin are not likely to be superseded any more than Chrysostom’s Homilies for patristic eloquence, or Bengel’s Gnomon for pregnant and stimulating hints, or Matthew Henry’s Exposition for devotional purposes and epigrammatic suggestions to preachers.782

Calvin began his series of Commentaries at Strassburg with the Epistle to the Romans, on which his system of theology is chiefly built. In the dedication to his friend and Hebrew teacher Grynaeus, at Basel (Oct. 18, 1539), he already lays down his views of the best method of interpretation, namely, comprehensive brevity, transparent clearness, and strict adherence to the spirit and letter of the author. He gradually expounded the most important books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, the Psalms, and the Prophets, and all the books of the New Testament, with the exception of the Apocalypse, which he wisely left alone. Some of his expositions, as the Commentary on the Minor Prophets, were published from notes of his free, extempore lectures and sermons. His last literary work was a Commentary on Joshua, which he began in great bodily infirmity and finished shortly before his death and entrance into the promised land.

It was his delight to expound the Word of God from the chair and from the pulpit. Hence his theology is biblical rather than scholastic. The Commentaries on the Psalms and the Epistles of Paul are regarded as his best. He was in profound sympathy with David and Paul, and read in their history his own spiritual biography. He calls the Psalms (in the Preface) "an anatomy of all the parts of the soul; for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or, rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life the griefs, the sorrows, the fears, the doubts, the hopes, the cares, the perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated."  He adds that his own trials and conflicts helped him much to a clearer understanding of these divine compositions.

He combined in a very rare degree all the essential qualifications of an exegete—grammatical knowledge, spiritual insight, acute perception, sound judgment, and practical tact. He thoroughly sympathized with the spirit of the Bible; he put himself into the situation of the writers, and reproduced and adapted their thoughts for the benefit of his age.

Tholuck mentions as the most prominent qualities of Calvin’s commentaries these four: doctrinal impartiality, exegetical tact, various learning, and deep Christian piety. Winer praises his "truly wonderful sagacity in perceiving, and perspicuity in expounding, the meaning of the Apostle."783

1. Let us first look at his philological outfit. Melanchthon well says: "The Scripture cannot be understood theologically unless it be first understood grammatically."784  He had passed through the school of the Renaissance; he had a rare knowledge of Greek; he thought in Greek, and could not help inserting rare Greek words into his letters to learned friends. He was an invaluable help to Luther in his translation of the Bible, but his commentaries are dogmatical rather than grammatical, and very meagre, as compared with those of Luther and Calvin in depth and force.785

Luther surpassed all other Reformers in originality, freshness, spiritual insight, bold conjectures, and occasional flashes of genius. His commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, which he called "his wife," is a masterpiece of sympathetic exposition and forceful application of the leading idea of evangelical freedom to the question of his age. But Luther was no exegete in the proper sense of the term. He had no method and discipline. He condemned allegorizing as a mere "monkey-game" (Affenspiel), and yet he often resorted to it in Job, the Psalms, and the Canticles. He was eminently spiritual, and yet, as against Zwingli, slavishly literal in his interpretation. He seldom sticks to the text, but uses it only as a starting-point for popular sermons, or polemical excursions against papists and sectarians. He cared nothing for the consensus of the fathers. He applied private judgment to the interpretation with the utmost freedom, and judged the canonicity and authority of the several books of the Bible by a dogmatic and subjective rule—his favorite doctrine of solifidian justification; and as he could not find it in James, he irreverently called his epistle "an epistle of straw."  He anticipated modern criticism, but his criticism proceeded from faith in Christ and God’s Word, and not from scepticism. His best work is a translation, and next to it, his little catechism for children.

Zwingli studied the Greek at Glarus and Einsiedeln that he might be able, "to draw the teaching of Christ from the fountains."786  He learnt Hebrew after he was called to Zuerich. He also studied the fathers, and, like Erasmus, took more to Jerome than to Augustin. His expositions of Scripture are clear, easy, and natural, but somewhat superficial. The other Swiss Reformers and exegetes—Oecolampadius, Grynaeus, Bullinger, Pellican, and Bibliander—had a good philological preparation. Pellican, a self-taught scholar (d. 1556), who was called to Zuerich by Zwingli in 1525, wrote a little Hebrew grammar even before Reuchlin,787 and published at Zuerich comments on the whole Bible.788  Bibliander (d. 1564) was likewise professor of Hebrew in Zuerich, and had some acquaintance with other Semitic languages; he was, however, an Erasmian rather than a Calvinist, and opposed the doctrine of the absolute decrees.

For the Hebrew Bible these scholars used the editions of Daniel Bomberg (Venice, 1518–45); the Complutensian Polyglot, which gives, besides the Hebrew text, also the Septuagint and Vulgate and a Hebrew vocabulary (Alcala, printed 1514–17; published 1520 sqq.); also the editions of Sabastian Muenster (Basel, 1536), and of Robert Stephens (Etienne, Paris, 1539–46). For the Greek Testament they had the editions of Erasmus (Basel, five ed. 1516–35), the Complutensian Polyglot (1520), Colinaeus (Paris, 1534), Stephens (Paris and Geneva, 1546–51). A year after Calvin’s death, Beza began to publish his popular editions of the Greek Testament, with a Latin version (Geneva, 1565–1604).

Textual criticism was not yet born, and could not begin its operations before a collection of the textual material from manuscripts, ancient versions, and patristic quotations. In this respect, therefore, all the commentaries of the Reformation period are barren and useless. Literary criticism was stimulated by the Protestant spirit of inquiry with regard to the Jewish Apocrypha and some Antilegomena of the New Testament, but was soon repressed by dogmatism.

Calvin, besides being a master of Latin and French, had a very good knowledge of the languages of the Bible. He had learned the Greek from Volmar at Bourges, the Hebrew from Grynaeus during his sojourn at Basel, and he industriously continued the study of both.789  He was at home in classical antiquity; his first book was a Commentary on Seneca, De Clementia, and he refers occasionally to Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Polybius, Cicero, Seneca, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terence, Livy, Pliny, Quintilian, Diogenes Laërtius, Aulus Gellius, etc. He inferred from Paul’s quotation of Epimenides, Tit. 1:12, "that those are superstitious who never venture to quote anything from profane authors. Since all truth is from God, if anything has been said aptly and truly even by impious men, it ought not to be rejected, because it proceeded from God. And since all things are of God, why is it not lawful to turn to his glory whatever may be aptly applied to this use?"  On 1 Cor. 8:1, he observes: "Science is no more to be blamed when it puffs up than a sword when it falls into the hands of a madman."  But he never makes a display of learning, and uses it only as a means to get at the sense of the Scripture. He wrote for educated laymen as well as for scholars, and abstained from minute investigations and criticisms; but he encouraged Beza to publish his Commentary on the New Testament in which philological scholarship is more conspicuous.

Calvin was also familiar with the patristic commentators, and had much more respect for them than Luther. He fully appreciated the philological knowledge and tact of Jerome, the spiritual depth of Augustin, and the homiletical wealth of Chrysostom; but he used them with independent judgment and critical discrimination.790

2. Calvin kept constantly in view the primary and fundamental aim of the interpreter, namely, to bring to light the true meaning of the biblical authors according to the laws of thought and speech.791  He transferred himself into their mental state and environment so as to become identified with them, and let them explain what they actually did say, and not what they might or should have said, according to our notions or wishes. In this genuine exegetical method he has admirably succeeded, except in a few cases where his judgment was biassed by his favorite dogma of a double predestination, or his antagonism to Rome; though even there he is more moderate and fair than his contemporaries, who indulge in diffuse and irrelevant declamations against popery and monkery. Thus he correctly refers the "Rock" in Matt. 16:18 to the person of Peter, as the representative of all believers.792  He stuck to the text. He detested irrelevant twaddle and diffuseness. He was free from pedantry. He never evades difficulties, but frankly meets and tries to solve them. He carefully studies the connection. His judgment is always clear, strong, and sound. Commentaries are usually dry, broken, and indifferently written. His exposition is an easy, continuous flow of reproduction and adaptation in elegant Erasmian Latinity. He could truly assert on his death-bed that he never knowingly twisted or misinterpreted a single passage of the Scriptures; that he always aimed at simplicity, and restrained the temptation to display acuteness and ingenuity.

He made no complete translation of the Bible, but gave a Latin and a French version of those parts on which he commented in either or both languages, and he revised the French version of his cousin, Pierre Robert Olivetan, which appeared first in 1535, for the editions of 1545 and 1551.793

3. Calvin is the founder of modern grammatico-historical exegesis. He affirmed and carried out the sound and fundamental hermeneutical principle that the biblical authors, like all sensible writers, wished to convey to their readers one definite thought in words which they could understand. A passage may have a literal or a figurative sense, but cannot have two senses at once. The word of God is inexhaustible and applicable to all times; but there is a difference between explanation and application, and application must be consistent with explanation.

Calvin departed from the allegorical method of the Middle Ages, which discovered no less than four senses in the Bible,794 turned it into a nose of wax, and substituted pious imposition for honest exposition. He speaks of "puerile" and "far-fetched" allegories, and says that he abstains from them because there is nothing "solid and firm" in them. It is an almost sacrilegious audacity to twist the Scriptures this way and that way, to suit our fancy.795  In commenting on the allegory of Sarah and Hagar, Gal. 4:22–26, he censures Origen for his arbitrary allegorizing, as if the plain historical view of the Bible were too mean and too poor. "I acknowledge," he says, "that Scripture is a most rich and inexhaustible fountain of all wisdom, but I deny that its fertility consists in the various meanings which any man at his pleasure may put into it. Let us know, then, that the true meaning of Scripture is the natural and obvious meaning; and let us embrace and abide by it resolutely. Let us not only neglect as doubtful, but boldly set aside as deadly corruptions, those pretended expositions which lead us away from the natural meaning."  He approvingly quotes Chrysostom, who says that the word "allegory" in this passage is used in an improper sense.796  He was averse to all forced attempts to harmonize difficulties. He constructed his Harmony of the Gospels from the three Synoptists alone, and explained John separately.

4. Calvin emancipated exegesis from the bondage of dogmatism. He was remarkably free from traditional orthodox prepossessions and prejudices, being convinced that the truths of Christianity do not depend upon the number of dicta probantia. He could see no proof of the doctrine of the Trinity in the plural Elohim,797 nor in the three angel visitors of Abraham, Gen.18:2, nor in the Trisagion, Ps. 6:3,798 nor of the divinity of the Holy Spirit in Ps. 33:6.799

5. He prepared the way for a proper historical understanding of prophecy. He fully believed in the Messianic prophecies, which are the very soul of the faith and hope of Israel; but he first perceived that they had a primary bearing and practical application to their own times, and an ulterior fulfilment in Christ, thus serving a present as well as a future use. He thus explained Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 68, 110, as typically and indirectly Messianic. On the other hand, he made excessive use of typology, especially in his Sermons, and saw not only in David but in every king of Jerusalem a, figure of Christ."  In his explanation of the protevangelium, Gen. 3:15, he correctly understands the "seed of the woman," collectively of the human race, in its perpetual conflict with Satan, which will culminate ultimately in the victory of Christ, the head of the race.800  He widens the sense of the formula "that it might be fulfilled" (i{na plhrwqh|'), so as to express sometimes simply an analogy or correspondence between an Old Testament and a New Testament event. The prophecy, Hos. 11:1, quoted by Matthew as referring to the return of the Christ-child from Egypt, must, accordingly, "not be restricted to Christ," but is, skilfully adapted to the present occasion."801  In like manner, Paul, in Rom. 10:6, gives only an embellishment and adaptation of a word of Moses to the case in hand.802

6. He had the profoundest reverence for the Scriptures, as containing the Word of the living God and as the only infallible and sufficient rule of faith and duty; but he was not swayed by a particular theory of inspiration. It is true, he never would have approved the unguarded judgments of Luther on James, Jude, Hebrews, and the Apocalypse;803 but he had no hesitancy in admitting incidental errors which do not touch the vitals of faith. He remarks on Matt. 27:9: "How the name of Jeremiah crept in, I confess I know not, nor am I seriously troubled about it. That the name of Jeremiah has been put for Zechariah by an error, the fact itself shows, because there is no such statement in Jeremiah."804  Concerning the discrepancies between the speech of Stephen in Acts 7 and the account of Genesis, he suggests that Stephen or Luke drew upon ancient traditions rather than upon Moses, and made "a mistake in the name of Abraham."805  He was far from the pedantry of the Purists in the seventeenth century, who asserted the classical purity of the New Testament Greek, on the ground that the Holy Spirit could not be guilty of any solecism or barbarism, or the slightest violation of grammar; not remembering that the Apostles and Evangelists carried the heavenly treasure of truth in earthen vessels, that the power and grace of God might become more manifest, and that Paul himself confesses his rudeness "in speech," though not "in knowledge."  Calvin justly remarks, with special reference to Paul, that by a singular providence of God the highest mysteries were committed to us "sub contemptibili verborum humilitate," that our faith may not rest on the power of human eloquence, but solely on the efficacy of the divine Spirit; and yet he fully recognized the force and fire, the majesty and weight of Paul’s style, which he compares to flashes of lightning.806

The scholastic Calvinists, like the scholastic Lutherans of the seventeenth century, departed from the liberal views of the Reformers, and adopted a mechanical theory which confounds inspiration with dictation, ignores the human element in the Bible, and reduces the sacred writers to mere penmen of the Holy Spirit. This theory is destructive of scientific exegesis. It found symbolical expression, but only for a brief period, in the Helvetic Consensus Formula of 1675, which, in defiance of historical facts, asserts even the inspiration of the Masoretic vowel points. But notwithstanding this restraint, the Calvinistic exegetes adhered more closely to the natural grammatical and historical sense of the Scriptures than their Lutheran and Roman Catholic contemporaries.807

7. Calvin accepted the traditional canon of the New Testament, but exercised the freedom of the ante-Nicene Church concerning the origin of some of the books. He denied the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews on account of the differences of style and mode of teaching (ratio docendi), but admitted its apostolic spirit and value. He doubted the genuineness of the Second Epistle of Peter, and was disposed to ascribe it to a pupil of the Apostle, but he saw nothing in it which is unworthy of Peter. He prepared the way for a distinction between authorship and editorship as to the Pentateuch and the Psalter.

He departed from the traditional view that the Scripture rests on the authority of the Church. He based it on internal rather than external evidence, on the authority of God rather than the authority of men. He discusses the subject in his Institutes,808 and states the case as follows: —


"There has very generally prevailed a most pernicious error that the Scriptures have only so much weight as is conceded to them by the suffrages of the Church, as though the eternal and inviolable truth of God depended on the arbitrary will of men.809 ... For, as God alone is a sufficient witness of Himself in His own Word, so also the Word will never gain credit in the hearts of men till it be confirmed by the internal testimony of the Spirit. It is necessary, therefore, that the same Spirit, who spake by the mouths of the prophets, should penetrate into our hearts, to convince us that they faithfully delivered the oracles which were divinely intrusted to them … Let it be considered, then, as an undeniable truth, that they who have been inwardly taught by the Spirit, feel an entire acquiescence in the Scripture, and that it is self-authenticated, carrying with it its own evidence, and ought not to be made the subject of demonstrations and arguments from reason; but it obtains the credit which it deserves with us by the testimony of the Spirit. For though it commands our reverence by its internal majesty, it never seriously affects us till it is confirmed by the Spirit in our hearts. Therefore, being illuminated by him, we now believe the divine original of the Scripture, not from our own judgment or that of others, but we esteem the certainty that we have received it from God’s own mouth, by the ministry of men, to be superior to that of any human judgment, and equal to that of an intuitive perception of God himself in it … . Without this certainty, better and stronger than any human judgment, in vain will the authority of the Scripture be either defended by arguments, or established by the authority of the Church, or confirmed by any other support, since, unless the foundation be laid, it remains in perpetual suspense."810


This doctrine of the intrinsic merit and self-evidencing character of the Scripture, to all who are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, passed into the Gallican, Belgic, Second Helvetic, Westminster, and other Reformed Confessions. They present a fuller statement of the objective or formal principle of Protestantism,—namely, the absolute supremacy of the Word of God as the infallible rule of faith and practice, than the Lutheran symbols which give prominence to the subjective or material principle of justification by faith.811

At the same time, the ecclesiastical tradition is of great value, as a witness to the human authorship and canonicity of the several books, and is more fully recognized by modern biblical scholarship, in its conflict with destructive criticism, than it was in the days of controversy with Romanism. The internal testimony of the Holy Spirit and the external testimony of the Church join in establishing the divine authority of the Scriptures.


 § 112. The Calvinistic System.


Comp. § 78, pp. 327–343, and the exposition of the Augustinian System and the Pelagian controversy in vol. III. §§ 146–158, pp. 783–856.—Dorner: Geschichte der protestantischen Theologie, pp. 374–404.—Loofs: Dogmengeschichte, 2d ed., pp. 390–401.


Calvin is still a living force in theology as much as Augustin and Thomas Aquinas. No dogmatician can ignore his Institutes any more than an exegete can ignore his Commentaries. Calvinism is embedded in several confessions of the Reformed Church, and dominates, with more or less rigor, the spirit of a large section of Protestant Christendom, especially in Great Britain and North America. Calvinism is not the name of a Church, but it is the name of a theological school in the Reformed Churches. Luther is the only one among the Reformers whose name was given to the Church which he founded. The Reformed Churches are independent of personal authority, but all the more bound to tho teaching of the Bible.

Calvinism is usually identified with Augustinianism, as to anthropology and soteriology, in opposition to Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism. Augustin and Calvin were intensely religious, controlled by a sense of absolute dependence on God, and wholly absorbed in the contemplation of his majesty and glory. To them God was everything; man a mere shadow. Blessed are the elect upon whom God bestows all his amazing mercy; but woe to the reprobate from whom he withholds it. They lay equal emphasis on the doctrines of sin and grace, the impotence of man and the omnipotence of God, the sinfulness of sin and the sovereignty of regenerating grace. In Christology they made no progress. Their theology is Pauline rather than Johannean. They passed through the same conflict with sin, and achieved the same victory, by the power of divine grace, as the great Apostle of the Gentiles. Their spiritual experience is reflected in their theology. But Calvin left us no such thrilling record of his experience as Augustin in his Confessions. He barely alludes to his conversion, in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms and in his Answer to Sadolet.

The profound sympathy of Calvin with Augustin is shown in the interesting fact that he quotes him far more frequently than all the Greek and Latin fathers combined, and quotes him nearly always with full approbation.812

But in some respects Augustin and Calvin were widely different. Augustin wandered for nine years in the labyrinth of the Manichaean heresy, and found at last rest and peace in the orthodox Catholic Church of his day, which was far better than any philosophical school or heretical sect, though not much purer than in the sixteenth century. He became the chief architect of scholastic and mystic theology, which ruled in the Middle Ages, and he still carries more weight in the Roman communion than any of the ancient fathers. Calvin was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church, but fled from its prevailing corruptions to the citadel of the Holy Scripture, and became the most formidable enemy of the papacy. If Augustin had lived in the sixteenth century, he might, perhaps, have gone half way with the Reformers; but, judging from his high estimate of visible church unity and his conduct towards the schismatic Donatists, it is more probable that he would have become the leader of an evangelical school of Catholicism within the Roman Church.

The difference between the two great teachers may be briefly stated in two sentences which are antagonistic on the surface, though reconcilable at bottom. Augustin says: "I would not believe the gospel if it were not for the Church."813  Calvin teaches (in substance, though not in these words): "I would not believe the Church if it were not for the gospel."  The reconciliation must be found in the higher principle: I believe in Christ, and therefore I believe in the gospel and the Church, which jointly bear witness of him.

As to the doctrines of the fall, of total depravity, the slavery of the human will, the sovereignty of saving grace, the bishop of Hippo and the pastor of Geneva are essentially agreed; the former has the merit of priority and originality; the latter is clearer, stronger, more logical and rigorous, and far superior as an exegete.

Their views are chiefly derived from the Epistle to the Romans as they understood it, and may be summed up in the following propositions: God has from eternity foreordained all things that should come to pass, with a view to the manifestation of his glory; he created man pure and holy, and with freedom of choice; Adam was tried, disobeyed, lost his freedom, and became a slave of sin; the whole human race fell with him, and is justly condemned in Adam to everlasting death; but God in his sovereign mercy elects a part of this mass of corruption to everlasting life, without any regard to moral merit, converts the elect by irresistible grace, justifies, sanctifies, and perfects them, and thus displays in them the riches of his grace; while in his inscrutable, yet just and adorable counsel he leaves the rest of mankind in their inherited state of condemnation, and reveals in the everlasting punishment of the wicked the glory of his awful justice.

The Lutheran system is a compromise between Augustinianism and Semi-Pelagianism. Luther himself was fully agreed with Augustin on total depravity and predestination, and stated the doctrine of the slavery of the human will even more forcibly and paradoxically than Augustin or Calvin.814  But the Lutheran Church followed him only half way. The Formula of Concord (1577) adopted his doctrine of total depravity in the strongest possible terms, but disclaimed the doctrine of reprobation; it represents the natural man as spiritually dead like "a stone" or "a block," and teaches a particular and unconditional election, but also an universal vocation.815

The Augustinian system was unknown in the ante-Nicene age, and was never accepted in the Eastern Church. This is a strong historical argument against it. Augustin himself developed it only during the Pelagian controversy; while in his earlier writings he taught the freedom of the human will against the fatalism of the Manichaeans.816  It triumphed in the Latin Church over Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, which were mildly condemned by the Synod of Orange (529). But his doctrine of an absolute predestination, which is only a legitimate inference from his anthropological premises, was indirectly condemned by the Catholic Church in the Gottschalk controversy (853), and in the Jansenist controversy (1653), although the name and authority of the great doctor and saint were not touched.

The Calvinistic system was adopted by a large portion of the Reformed Church, and has still able and earnest advocates. Calvin himself is now better understood, and more highly respected by scholars (French and German) than ever before; but his predestinarian system has been effectively opposed by the Arminians, the Quakers, and the Methodists, and is undergoing a serious revision in the Presbyterian and Calvinistic Churches of Europe and America.

The Augustinian, Lutheran, and Calvinistic systems rest on the same anthropology, and must stand or fall together with the doctrine of the universal damnation of the whole human race on the sole ground of Adam’s sin, including infants and entire nations and generations which never heard of Adam, and which cannot possibly have been in him as self-conscious and responsible beings.817  They have alike to answer the question how such a doctrine is reconcilable with the justice and mercy of God. They are alike dualistic and particularistic. They are constructed on the ruins of the fallen race, instead of the rock of the redeemed race; they destroy the foundation of moral responsibility by teaching the slavery of the human will; they turn the sovereignty of God into an arbitrary power, and his justice into partiality; they confine the saving grace of God to a particular class. Within that favorite and holy circle all is as bright as sunshine, but outside of it all is as dark as midnight. These systems have served, and still serve, a great purpose, and satisfy the practical wants of serious Christians who are not troubled with theological and philosophical problems; but they can never satisfy the vast majority of Christendom.

We are, indeed, born into a world of sin and death, and we cannot have too deep a sense of the guilt of sin, especially our own; and, as members of the human family, we should feel the overwhelming weight of the sin and guilt of the whole race, as our Saviour did when he died on the cross. But we are also born into an economy of righteousness and life, and we cannot have too high a sense of God’s saving grace which passeth knowledge. As soon as we enter into the world we are met with the invitation, "Suffer little children to come unto me."  The redemption of the race is as much an accomplished fact as the fall of the race, and it alone can answer the question, why God permitted or caused the fall. Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded not less, but much more.

Calvinism has the advantage of logical compactness, consistency, and completeness. Admitting its premises, it is difficult to escape its conclusions. A system can only be overthrown by a system. It requires a theological genius of the order of Augustin and Calvin, who shall rise above the antagonism of divine sovereignty and human freedom, and shall lead us to a system built upon the rock of the historic Christ, and inspired from beginning to end with the love of God to all mankind.




1. Calvinism was imported and naturalized in America, by the Puritans, since 1620, and dominated the theology and church life of New England during the colonial period. It found its ablest defender in Jonathan Edwards,—the great theological metaphysician and revival preacher,—who may be called the American Calvin. It still controls the Orthodox Congregational and Baptist churches. But it has provoked Unitarianism in New England (as it did in England), and has undergone various modifications. It is now gradually giving way to a more liberal and catholic type of Calvinism. The new Congregational Creed of 1883 is thoroughly evangelical, but avoids all the sharp angles of Calvinism.

2. The Presbyterian Calvinism is best represented by the theological systems of Charles Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd, and Henry B. Smith. The first is the mildest, the second the severest, the third the broadest, champion of modern American Calvinism; they alike illustrate the compatibility of logical Calvinism with a sweet and lovely Christian temper, but they dissent from Calvin’s views by their infralapsarianism, their belief in the salvation of all infants dying in infancy, and of the large number of the saved.

Henry B. Smith, under the influence of modern German theology, took a step in advance, and marks the transition from old Calvinism to Christological divinity, but died before he could elaborate it. "The central idea," he says, in his posthumous System of Christian Theology (New York, p. 341, 4th ed., 1890), "to which all the parts of theology are to be referred, and by which the system is to be made a system, or to be constructed, is what we have termed the Christological or Mediatorial idea, viz., that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. This idea is central, not in the sense that all the other parts of theology are logically deduced from it, but rather that they centre in it. The idea is that of an Incarnation in order to Redemption. This is the central idea of Christianity, as distinguished, or distinguishable, from all other religions, and from all forms of philosophy; and by this, and this alone, are we able to construct the whole system of the Christian faith on its proper grounds. This idea is the proper centre of unity to the whole Christian system, as the soul is the centre of unity to the body, as the North Pole is to all the magnetic needles. It is so really the centre of unity that when we analyze and grasp and apply it, we find that the whole of Christian theology is in it."  To this remarkable passage should be added a note which Dr. George L. Prentiss, his most intimate friend, found among the last papers of Dr. Smith, which may be called his theological will and testament. "What Reformed theology has got to do is to christologize predestination and decrees, regeneration and sanctification, the doctrine of the Church, and the whole of eschatology."

3. The movement for the revision of the Westminster Confession of Faith has seized, by an irresistible force within the last few years, the Presbyterian Churches of England, Scotland, and North America, and is inspired by the cardinal truth of God’s love to all mankind (John 3:16), and the consequent duty of the Church to preach the gospel to every creature, in obedience to Christ’s command (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19, 20). The United Presbyterian Church (1879) and the Free Church (1891) of Scotland express their dissent from the Westminster Standards in an explanatory statement, setting forth their belief in the general love of God, in the moral responsibility of man, and in religious liberty,—all of which are irreconcilable with a strict construction of those standards. The English Presbyterian Church has adopted a new creed, together with a declaratory statement (1890). The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States ordered, in 1889, a revision of the Westminster Confession, which is now going on; and, at the same time, the preparation of a new, short, and popular creed that will give expression to the living faith of the present Church, and serve, not as a sign of division and promoter of sectarian strife, but as a bond of harmony with other evangelical churches, and help rather than hinder the ultimate reunion of Christendom. See Schaff, Creed Revision in the Presbyterian Churches, 1890.


 § 113. Predestination.


1. Inst. bk. III. chs. XXI.–XXIV.  Articuli de Praedestinatione, first published from an autograph of Calvin by the Strassburg editors, in Opera, IX. 713. The Consensus Genevensis (1552), Opera, VIII. 249–366. Calvin’s polemical writings against Pighius (1543), vol. VI. 224–404; Bolsec (1551), vol. VIII. 85–140; and Castellio (15, 57–58), vol. IX. 253–318. He treats the subject also in several of his sermons, e.g. on First and Second Timothy.

2. Alex. Schweizer: Die Protestantischen Centraldogmen (Zuerich, 1854), vol. I. 150–179.—Staehelin, I. 271 sqq.—Dorner: Geschichte der protest. Theol., 386–395.—Philip Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, I. 451–455.


Luther and Calvin.


The dogma of a double predestination is the cornerstone of the Calvinistic system, and demands special consideration.

Calvin made the eternal election of God, Luther made the temporal justification by faith, the article of the standing or falling Church, and the source of strength and peace in the battle of life. They agreed in teaching salvation by free grace, and personal assurance of salvation by a living faith in Christ and his gospel. But the former went back to the ultimate root in a pre-mundane unchangeable decree of God; the latter looked at the practical effect of saving grace upon the individual conscience. Both gave undue prominence to their favorite dogma, in opposition to Romanism, which weakened the power of divine grace, magnified human merit, and denied the personal certainty of salvation. They wished to destroy all basis for human pride and boasting, to pluck up Phariseeism by the root, and to lay a firm foundation for humility, gratitude, and comfort. This was a great progress over the mediaeval soteriology.

But there is a higher position, which modern evangelical theology has reached. The predestinarian scheme of Calvin and the solifidian scheme of Luther must give way or be subordinated to the Christocentric scheme. We must go back to Peter’s confession, which has only one article, but it is the most important article, and the oldest in Christendom. The central place in the Christian system belongs to the divine-human person and work of Christ: this is the immovable rock of the Church, against which the gates of Hades shall never prevail, and on which the creeds of Christendom will have to unite (Matt. 16:16–18; comp. 1 Cor. 2:2; 3:11; Rom. 4:25; 1 John 4:2, 3). The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed are Christocentric and Trinitarian.


The Reformers All Predestinarians.


All the Reformers of the sixteenth century, following the lead of Augustin and of the Apostle Paul,—as they understood him,—adopted, under a controlling sense of human depravity and saving grace, and in antagonism to self-righteous legalism, the doctrine of a double predestination which decides the eternal destiny of all men.818  Nor does it seem possible, logically, to evade this conclusion if we admit the two premises of Roman Catholic and Evangelical orthodoxy—namely, the wholesale condemnation of all men in Adam, and the limitation of saving grace to the present life. All orthodox Confessions reject Universalism, and teach that some men are saved, and some are lost, and that there is no possibility of salvation beyond the grave. The predestinarians maintain that this double result is the outcome of a double decree, that history must harmonize with the divine will and cannot defeat it. They reason from the effect to the cause, from the end to the beginning.

Yet there were some characteristic differences in the views of the leading Reformers on this subject. Luther, like Augustin, started from total moral inability or the servum arbitrium; Zwingli, from the idea of an all-ruling providentia; Calvin, from the eternal decretum absolutum.

The Augustinian and Lutheran predestinarianism is moderated by the churchly and sacramental principle of baptismal regeneration. The Calvinistic predestinarianism confines the sacramental efficacy to the elect, and turns the baptism of the non-elect into an empty form; but, on the other hand, it opens a door for an extension of electing grace beyond the limits of the visible Church. Zwingli’s position was peculiar: on the one hand, he went so far in his supralapsarianism as to make God the sinless author of sin (as the magistrate in inflicting capital punishment, or the soldier in the battle, are innocently guilty of murder); but, on the other hand, he undermined the very foundation of the Augustinian system—namely, the wholesale condemnation of the race for the single transgression of one; he admitted hereditary sin, but denied hereditary guilt; and he included all infants and pious heathen in the kingdom of heaven. Such a view was then universally abhorred, as dangerous and heretical.819

Melanchthon, on further study and reflection, retreated in the Semi-Pelagian direction, and prepared the way for Arminianism, which arose, independently, in the heart of Calvinism at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He abandoned his earlier view, which he characterized as Stoic fatalism, and proposed the Synergistic scheme, which is a compromise between Augustinianism and Semi-Pelagianism, and makes the human will co-operate with preceding divine grace, but disowns human merit.820

The Formula of Concord (1577) rejected both Calvinism and Synergism, yet taught, by a logical inconsistency, total disability and unconditional election, as well as universal vocation.


Calvin’s Theory.


Calvin elaborated the doctrine of predestination with greater care and precision than his predecessors, and avoided their "paradoxes," as he called some extravagant and unguarded expressions of Luther and Zwingli. On the other hand, he laid greater emphasis on the dogma itself, and assigned it a higher position in his theological system. He was, by his Stoic temper and as an admirer of Seneca, predisposed to predestinarianism, and found it in the teaching of Paul, his favorite apostle. But his chief interest in the doctrine was religious rather than metaphysical. He found in it the strongest support for his faith. He combined with it the certainty of salvation, which is the privilege and comfort of every believer. In this important feature he differed from Augustin, who taught the Catholic view of the subjective uncertainty of salvation.821  Calvin made the certainty, Augustin the uncertainty, a stimulus to zeal and holiness.

Calvin was fully aware of the unpopularity of the doctrine. "Many," he says, "consider nothing more unreasonable than that some of the common mass of mankind should be foreordained to salvation, and others to destruction … When the human mind hears these things, its petulance breaks all restraint, and it discovers a serious and violent agitation as if alarmed by the sound of a martial trumpet."  But he thought it impossible to "come to a clear conviction of our salvation, till we are acquainted with God’s eternal election, which illustrates his grace by this comparison, that he adopts not all promiscuously to the hope of salvation, but gives to some what he refuses to others."  It is, therefore, not from the general love of God to all mankind, but from his particular favor to the elect that they, and they alone, are to derive their assurance of salvation and their only solid comfort. The reason of this preference can only be found in the inscrutable will of God, which is the supreme law of the universe. As to others, we must charitably assume that they are among the elect; for there is no certain sign of reprobation except perseverance in impenitence until death.

Predestination, according to Calvin, is the eternal and unchangeable decree of God by which he foreordained, for his own glory and the display of his attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation. "Predestination," he says, "we call the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined in himself the destiny of every man. For they are not all created in the same condition, but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death."822

This applies not only to individuals, but to whole nations. God has chosen the people of Israel as his own inheritance, and rejected the heathen; he has loved Jacob with his posterity, and hated Esau with his posterity. "The counsel of God, as far as concerns the elect, is founded on his gratuitous mercy, totally irrespective of human merit; but to those whom he devotes to condemnation the gate of life is closed by a just and irreprehensible, though incomprehensible judgment."823  God’s will is the supreme rule of justice,824  so that "what he wills must be considered just for the very reason that he wills it. When you ask, therefore, why the Lord did so, the answer must be, Because he would. But if you go further and ask why he so determined, you are in search of something higher and greater than the will of God, which can never be found. Let human temerity, therefore, desist from seeking that which is not, lest it should fail of finding that which is. This will be a sufficient restraint to any one disposed to reason with reverence concerning the secrets of his God."825  Calvin infers from the passage, "God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth "(Rom. 9:13), that Paul attributes both equally "to the mere will of God. If, therefore, we can assign no reason why God grants mercy to his people but because such is his pleasure, neither shall we find any other cause but his will for the reprobation of others. For when God is said to harden or show mercy to whom he pleases, men are taught by this declaration to seek no cause behind his will."826

Predestination, therefore, implies a twofold decree—a decree of election unto holiness and salvation, and a decree of reprobation unto death on account of sin and guilt. Calvin deems them inseparable. "Many indeed," he says, "as if they wished to avert odium from God, admit election in such a way as to deny that any one is reprobated. But this is puerile and absurd, because election itself could not exist without being opposed to reprobation … . Whom God passes by, he reprobates (Quos Deus praeterit, reprobat), and from no other cause than his determination to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his children."827

God bestows upon the reprobate all the common mercies of daily life as freely as upon the elect, but he withholds from them his saving mercy. The gospel also is offered to them, but it will only increase their responsibility and enhance their damnation, like the preaching of Christ to the unbelieving Jews (Isa. 6:9, 10; Matt. 13:13–15). But how shall we reconcile this with the sincerity of such an offer?


Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism.


Within the Calvinistic system there arose two schools in Holland during the Arminian controversy, the Infralapsarians (also called Sublapsarians) and the Supralapsarians, who held different views on the order of the divine decrees and their relation to the fall (lapsus). The Infralapsarians adjust, as it were, the eternal counsel of God to the temporal fall of man, and assume that God decreed, first to create man in holiness; then to permit him to fall by the self-determination of his free will; next, to save a definite number out of the guilty mass; and last, to leave the rest in sin, and to ordain them to eternal punishment.828  The Supralapsarians reverse the order, so that the decree of election and reprobation precedes the decree of creation; they make uncreated and unfallen man (that is, a non-ens) the object of God’s double decree. The Infralapsarians, moreover, distinguish between an efficient or active and a permissive or passive decree of God, and exclude the fall of Adam from the efficient decree; in other words, they maintain that God is not in any sense the author of the fall, but that he simply allowed it to come to pass for higher ends. He did not cause it, but neither did he prevent it. The Supralapsarians, more logically, include the fall itself in the efficient and positive decree; yet they deny as fully as the Infralapsarians, though less logically, that God is the author of sin. The Infralapsarians attribute to Adam before the fall the gift of free choice, which was lost by the fall; some Supralapsarians deny it. The doctrine of probation (except in the one case of Adam) has no place in the Calvinistic system, and is essentially Arminian. It is entirely inapplicable to infants dying in infancy. The difference between the two schools is practically worthless, and only exposes the folly of man’s daring to search the secrets of God’s eternal counsel. They proceed on a pure metaphysical abstraction, for in the eternal God there is no succession of time, no before nor after.829

Calvin was claimed by both schools. He must be classed rather with the Supralapsarians, like Beza, Gomarus, Twysse, and Emmons. He saw the inconsistency of exempting from the divine foreordination the most important event in history, which involved the whole race in ruin. "It is not absurd," he says, "to assert that God not only foresaw, but also foreordained the fall of Adam and the ruin of his posterity."  He expressly rejects the distinction between permission (permissio) and volition (voluntas) in God, who cannot permit what he does not will. "What reason," he asks, "shall we assign for God’s permitting the destruction of the impious, but because it is his will?  It is not probable that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, and without any appointment of God. As though God had not determined what he would choose to be the condition of the chief of his creatures. I shall not hesitate, therefore, to confess with Augustin, ’that the will of God is the necessity of things, and what he has willed will necessarily come to pass; as those things are really about to happen which he has foreseen."830

But while his inexorable logic pointed to this abyss, his moral and religious sense shrunk from the last logical inference of making God the author of sin; for this would be blasphemous, and involve the absurdity that God abhors and justly punishes what he himself decreed. He attributes to Adam the freedom of choice, by which he might have obtained eternal life, but he wilfully disobeyed.831  Hence his significant phrase: "Man falls, God’s providence so ordaining it; yet he falls by his own guilt."832  Here we have supralapsarian logic combined with ethical logic. He adds, however, that we do not know the reason why Providence so ordained it, and that it is better for us to contemplate the guilt of man than to search after the bidden predestination of God. "There is," he says, "a learned ignorance of things which it is neither permitted nor lawful to know, and avidity of knowledge is a species of madness."

Here is, notwithstanding this wholesome caution, the crucial point where the rigorous logic of Calvin and Augustin breaks down, or where the moral logic triumphs over intellectual logic. To admit that God is the author of sin would destroy his holiness, and overthrow the foundation of morality and religion. This would not be Calvinism, but fatalism and pantheism. The most rigorous predestinarian is driven to the alternative of choosing between logic and morality. Augustin and Calvin could not hesitate for a moment. Again and again, Calvin calls it blasphemy to make God the author of sin, and he abhorred sin as much as any man ever did. It is an established fact that the severest Calvinists have always been the strictest moralists.833


Infant Salvation and Damnation.


Are infants dying in infancy included in the decree of reprobation?  This is another crucial point in the Augustinian system, and the rock on which it splits.

St. Augustin expressly assigns all unbaptized children dying in infancy to eternal damnation, because of original sin inherited from Adam’s transgression. It is true, he mitigates their punishment and reduces it to a negative state of privation of bliss, as distinct from positive suffering.834  This does credit to his heart, but does not relieve the matter; for "damnatio," though "levissima" and "mitissima," is still damnatio.

The scholastic divines made a distinction between poena damni, which involves no active suffering, and poena sensus, and assigned to infants dying unbaptized the former but not the latter. They invented the fiction of a special department for infants in the future world, namely, the Limbus Infantum, on the border region of hell at some distance from fire and brimstone. Dante describes their condition as one of "sorrow without torment."835  Roman divines usually describe their condition as a deprivation of the vision of God. The Roman Church maintains the necessity of baptism for salvation, but admits the baptism of blood (martyrdom) and the baptism of intention, as equivalent to actual baptism. These exceptions, however, are not applicable to infants, unless the vicarious desire of Christian parents be accepted as sufficient.

Calvin offers an escape from the horrible dogma of infant damnation by denying the necessity of water baptism for salvation, and by making salvation dependent on sovereign election alone, which may work regeneration without baptism, as in the case of the Old Testament saints and the thief on the cross. We are made children of God by faith and not by baptism, which only recognizes the fact. Calvin makes sure the salvation of all elect children, whether baptized or not. This is a great gain. In order to extend election beyond the limits of the visible means of grace, he departed from the patristic and scholastic interpretation of John 3:5, that "water" means the sacrament of baptism, as a necessary condition of entrance into the kingdom of God. He thinks that a reference to Christian baptism before it was instituted would have been untimely and unintelligible to Nicodemus. He, therefore, connects water and Spirit into one idea of purification and regeneration by the Spirit.836

Whatever be the meaning of "water," Christ cannot here refer to infants, nor to such adults as are beyond the reach of the baptismal ordinance. He said of children, as a class, without any reference to baptism or circumcision: "Of such is the kingdom of God."  A word of unspeakable comfort to bereaved parents. And to make it still stronger, he said: "It is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish" (Matt. 18:14). These declarations of our Saviour, which must decide the whole question, seem to justify the inference that all children who die before having committed any actual transgression, are included in the decree of election. They are born into an economy of salvation, and their early death may be considered as a sign of gracious election.

But Calvin did not go so far. On the contrary, he intimates very clearly that there are reprobate or non-elect children as well as reprobate adults. He says that "some infants," having been previously regenerated by the Holy Spirit, "are certainly saved," but he nowhere says that all infants are saved.837  In his comments on Rom. 5:17, he confines salvation to the infants of pious (elect) parents, but leaves the fate of the rest more than doubtful.838  Arguing with Catholic advocates of free-will, who yet admitted the damnation of unbaptized infants, he asks them to explain in any other way but by the mysterious will of God, the terrible fact "that the fall of Adam, independent of any remedy, should involve so many nations with their infant children in eternal death. Their tongues so loquacious on every other point must here be struck dumb."839

And in this connection he adds the significant words:, It is an awful (horrible) decree, I confess, but no one can deny that God foreknew the future, final fate of man before he created him, and that he did foreknow it, because it was appointed by his own decree."840

Our best feelings, which God himself has planted in our hearts, instinctively revolt against the thought that a God of infinite love and justice should create millions of immortal beings in his own image—probably more than half of the human race—in order to hurry them from the womb to the tomb, and from the tomb to everlasting doom!  And this not for any actual sin of their own, but simply for the transgression of Adam of which they never heard, and which God himself not only permitted, but somehow foreordained. This, if true, would indeed be a "decretum horribile."

Calvin, by using this expression, virtually condemned his own doctrine. The expression so often repeated against him, does great credit to his head and heart, and this has not been sufficiently appreciated in the estimate of his character. He ventured thus to utter his humane sentiments far more strongly than St. Augustin dared to do. If he, nevertheless, accepted this horrible decree, he sacrificed his reason and heart to the, rigid laws of logic and to the letter of the Scripture as he understood it. We must honor him for his obedience, but as he claimed no infallibility, as an interpreter, we must be allowed to challenge his interpretation.

Zwingli, as already remarked, was the first and the only Reformer who entertained and dared to express the charitable hope and belief in universal infant salvation by the atonement of Christ, who died for all. The Anabaptists held the same view, but they were persecuted as heretics by Protestants and Catholics alike, and were condemned in the ninth article of the Augsburg Confession.841  The Second Scotch Confession of 1590 was the first and the only Protestant Confession of the Reformation period which uttered a testimony of abhorrence and detestation of the cruel popish doctrine of infant damnation.842

But gradually the doctrine of universal infant salvation gained ground among Arminians, Quakers, Baptists, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, and is now adopted by almost all Protestant divines, especially by Calvinists, who are not hampered by the theory of baptismal regeneration.843

Zwingli, as we have previously shown, was equally in advance of his age in regard to the salvation of pious heathens, who die in a state of readiness for the reception of the gospel; and this view has likewise penetrated the modern Protestant consciousness.844


Defence of the Doctrine of Predestination.


Calvin defended the doctrine of predestination in his Institutes, and his polemical writings against Pighius, Bolsec, and Castellio, with consummate skill against all objections, and may be said to have exhausted the subject on his side of the question. His arguments were chiefly drawn from the Scriptures, especially the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans; but he unduly stretched passages which refer to the historical destiny of individuals and nations in this world, into declarations of their eternal fate in the other world; and he undervalued the proper force of opposite passages (such as Ezek. 33:11; 18:23, 32; John 1:29; 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9) by a distinction between the secret and revealed will of God (voluntas arcani and voluntas beneplaciti), which carries an intolerable dualism and contradiction into the divine will.

He closes the whole discussion with this sentence: "Now while many arguments are advanced on both sides, let our conclusion be to stand astonished with Paul at so great a mystery; and amidst the clamor of petulant tongues let us not be ashamed to exclaim with him, ’O man, who art thou that repliest against God?’  For, as Augustin justly contends, it is acting a most perverse part to set up the measure of human justice as the standard by which to measure the justice of God."

Very true; but how can we judge of God’s justice at all without our own sense of justice, which comes from God?  And how can that be justice in God which is injustice in man, and which God himself condemns as injustice?  A fundamental element in justice is impartiality and equity.


Practical Effect.


The motive and aim of this doctrine was not speculative but practical. It served as a bulwark of free grace, an antidote to Pelagianism and human pride, a stimulus to humility and gratitude, a source of comfort and peace in trial and despondency. The charge of favoring license and carnal security was always indignantly repelled as a slander by the Pauline "God forbid!" and refuted in practice. He who believes in Christ as his Lord and Saviour may have a reasonable assurance of being among the elect, and this faith will constrain him to follow Christ and to persevere to the end lest he be cast away. Those who believe in the perseverance of saints are likely to practice it. Present unbelief is no sure sign of reprobation as long as the way is open for repentance and conversion.

Calvin sets the absolute sovereignty of God and the infallibility of the Bible over against the pretended sovereignty and infallibility of the pope. Fearing God, he was fearless of man. The sense of God’s sovereignty fortified his followers against the tyranny of temporal sovereigns, and made them champions and promoters of civil and political liberty in France, Holland, England, and Scotland.


Confessional Approval.


The doctrine of predestination received the official sanction of the pastors of Geneva, who signed the Consensus Genevensis prepared by Calvin (1552).845  It was incorporated, in its milder, infralapsarian form, in the French Confession (1559), the Belgic Confession (1561), and the Scotch Confession (1560). It was more logically formulated in the Lambeth Articles (1595), the Irish Articles (1615), the Canons of Dort (1619), the Westminster Confession and Larger Catechism (1647), and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675). On the other hand, the First Helvetic Confession (1536), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), and the Anglican Articles (1571, Art. XVII.) indorse merely the positive part of the free election of believers, and are wisely silent concerning the decree of reprobation and preterition; leaving this to theological science and private opinion.846  It is noteworthy that Calvin himself emitted the doctrine of predestination in his own catechism. Some minor Reformed Confessions, as that of Brandenburg, expressly declare that God sincerely wishes the salvation of all men, and is not the author of sin and damnation.






I. Calvin’s Articuli de Praedestinatione.


Calvin gave a condensed statement of his system in the following articles, which were first published by the Strassburg editors, in 1870, from his autograph in the University library of Geneva: —


[Ex autographo Calvini Bibl. Genev., Cod. 145, fol. 100.]


"Ante creatum primum hominem statuerat Deus aeterno consilio quid de toto genere humano fieri vellet.

"Hoc arcano Dei consilio factum est ut Adam ab integro naturae suae statu deficeret ac sua defectione traheret omnes suos posteros in reatum aeternae mortis.

"Ab hoc eodem decreto pendet discrimen inter electos et reprobos: quia alios sibi adoptavit in salutem, alios aeterno exitio destinavit.

"Tametsi justae Dei vindictae vasa sunt reprobi, rursum electi vasa misericordiae, causa tamen discriminis non alia in Deo quaerenda est quam mera eius voluntas, quae summa est justitiae regula.

"Tametsi electi fide percipiunt adoptionis gratiam, non tamen pendet electio a fide, sed tempore et ordine prior est.

"Sicut initium et perseverantia fidei a gratuita Dei electione fluit, ita non alii vere illuminantur in fidem, nec alii spiritu regenerationis donantur, nisi quos Deus elegit: reprobos vero vel in sua caecitate manere necesse est, vel excidere a parte fidei, si qua in illis fuerit.

"Tametsi in Christo eligimur, ordine tamen illud prius est ut nos Dominus in suis censeat, quam ut faciat Christi membra.

"Tametsi Dei voluntas summa et prima est rerum omnium causa, et Deus diabolum et impios omnes suo arbitrio subiectos habet, Deus tamen neque peccati causa vocari potest, neque mali autor, neque ulli culpae obnoxius est.

"Tametsi Deus peccato vere infensus est et damnat quidquid est iniustitiae in hominibus, quia illi displicet, non tamen nuda eius permissione tantum, sed nutu quoque et arcano decreto gubernantur omnia hominum facta.

"Tametsi diabolus et reprobi Dei ministri sunt et organa, et arcana eius judicia exsequuntur, Deus tamen incomprehensibili modo sic in illis et per illos operatur ut nihil ex eorum vitio labis contrahat, quia illorum malitia iuste recteque utitur in bonum finem, licet modus saepe nobis sit absconditus.

"Inscite vel calumniose faciunt qui Deum fieri dicunt autorem peccati, si omnia eo volente et ordinante fiant: quia inter manifestam hominum pravitatem et arcana Dei iudicia non distinguunt."


II. The Lambeth Articles.


In full agreement with Calvin are the Lambeth Articles, 1595. They were intended to be an obligatory appendix to the Thirty-nine Articles which, in Art. XVII., present only the positive side of the doctrine of predestination, and ignore reprobation. They were prepared by Dr. Whitaker, Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, and approved by, Dr. Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Hutton, Archbishop of York, and a number of prelates convened at Lambeth Palace, London; also by Hooker (with a slight modification; see Hooker’s Works, ed. by Keble, II. 752 sq.). But they were not sanctioned by Queen Elizabeth, who was displeased that a Lambeth Synod was called without her authority, nor by James I., and gradually lost their power during the Arminian reaction under the Stuarts. They are as follows: —


"1. God from eternity hath predestinated certain men unto life; certain men he hath reprobated.

"2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination unto life is not the foresight of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of anything that is in the person predestinated, but only the good will and pleasure of God.

"3. There is predetermined a certain number of the predestinate, which can neither be augmented nor diminished.

"4. Those who are not predestinated to salvation shall be necessarily damned for their sins.

"5. A true, living, and justifying faith, and the Spirit of God justifying [sanctifying] is not extinguished, falleth not away; it vanisheth not away in the elect, either finally or totally.

"6. A man truly faithful, that is, such a one who is endued with a justifying faith, is certain, with the full assurance of faith, of the remission of his sins and of his everlasting salvation by Christ.

7. Saving grace is not given, is not granted, is not communicated to all men, by which they may be saved if they will.

"8. No man can come unto Christ unless it shall be given unto him, and unless the Father shall draw him; and all men are not drawn by the Father that they may come to the Son.

"9. It is not in the will or power of every one to be saved."


The Lambeth Articles were accepted by the Convocation at Dublin, 1615, and engrafted on the Irish Articles of Religion, which were probably composed by the learned Archbishop Ussher (at that time Professor of Divinity in Trinity College, Dublin), and form the connecting link between the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Westminster Confession. Some of the strongest statements of the Irish Articles passed literally (without any acknowledgment) into the Westminster Confession. The Irish Articles are printed in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, III. 526–544.


III. The Westminster Confession.


Chap. III. Of God’s Eternal Decree.


The Westminster Confession of Faith, prepared by the Westminster Assembly in 1647, adopted by the Long Parliament, by the Kirk of Scotland, and the Presbyterian Churches of America, gives the clearest and strongest symbolic statement of this doctrine. It assigns to it more space than to the holy Trinity, or the Person of Christ, or the atonement.


"1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

"2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

"3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death.

"4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

"5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

"6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

"7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

"8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel."


IV. Methodism And Calvinism.


The severest condemnation of the Westminster Calvinism came from John Wesley, the most apostolic man that the Anglo-Saxon race has produced. He adopted the Arminian creed and made it a converting agency; he magnified the free grace of God, like the Calvinists, but extended it to all men. In a sermon on Free Grace, preached at Bristol (Sermons, vol. I. 482 sqq.), he charges the doctrine of predestination with "making vain all preaching, and tending to destroy holiness, the comfort of religion and zeal for good works, yea, the whole Christian revelation by involving it in fatal contradictions."  He goes so far as to call it "a doctrine full of blasphemy," because "it represents our blessed Lord as a hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity, as mocking his helpless creatures by offering what he never intends to give, by saying one thing and meaning another."  It destroys "all the attributes of God, his justice, mercy, and truth, yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust."  This is as hard and unjust as anything that Pighius, Bolsec, Castellio, and Servetus said against Calvin. And yet Wesley cooperated for some time with George Whitefield, the great Calvinistic revival preacher, and delivered his funeral sermon in Tottenham-Court-Road, Nov. 18, 1770, on the text, Num. 23:10, in which he spoke in the highest terms of Whitefield’s personal piety and great usefulness (Sermons, I. 470–480). "Have we read or heard," he asked, "of any person since the apostles, who testified the gospel of the grace of God through so widely extended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world?  Have we read or heard of any person, who called so many thousands, so many myriads of sinners to repentance?  Above all, have we read or heard of any, who has been a blessed instrument in his hand of bringing so many sinners from ’darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God?’ "— This is a striking illustration how widely great and good men may differ in theology, and yet how nearly they may agree in religion.

Charles Wesley fully sided with the Arminianism of his brother John, and abused his poetic gift by writing poor doggerel against Calvinism.847  He had a bitter controversy on the subject with Toplady, who was a devout Calvinist. But their theological controversy is dead and buried, while their devotional hymns still live, and Calvinists and Methodists heartily join in singing Wesley’s "Jesus, Lover of my Soul," and Toplady’s "Rock of Ages, cleft for me."


V. Modern Calvinism.


Modern Calvinism retains the doctrine of an all-ruling providence and saving grace, but denies reprobation and preterition, or leaves them to the sphere of metaphysical theology. It lays also great stress on the moral responsibility of the human will, and on the duty of offering the gospel sincerely to every creature, in accordance with the modern missionary spirit. This, at least, is the prevailing and growing tendency among Presbyterian Churches in Europe and America, as appears from the recent agitation on the revision of the Westminster Confession. The new creed of the Presbyterian Church of England, which was adopted in 1890, avoids all the objectionable features of old Calvinism, and substitutes for the eight sections of the third chapter of the Westminster Confession the following two articles, which contain all that is necessary in a public confession: —


ART. IV. Of Providence.


"We believe that God the Creator upholds all things by the word of his power, preserving and providing for all his creatures, according to the laws of their being; and that he, through the presence and energy of his Spirit in nature and history, disposes and governs all events for his own high design; yet is he not in any wise the author or approver of sin, neither are the freedom and responsibility of man taken away, nor have any bounds been set to the sovereign liberty of him who worketh when and where and how he pleaseth."


ART. XII. Of Election and Regeneration.


"We humbly own and believe that God the Father, before the foundation of the world, was pleased of his sovereign grace to choose unto himself in Christ a people, whom he gave to the Son, and to whom the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life by a secret and wonderful operation of his power, using as his ordinary means, where years of understanding have been reached, the truths of his Word in ways agreeable to the nature of man; so that, being born from above, they are the children of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."


 § 114. Calvinism examined.


We cannot dismiss this important subject without examining the Calvinistic system of predestination in the light of Christian experience, of reason, and the teaching of the Bible.

Calvinism, as we have seen, starts from a double decree of absolute predestination, which antedates creation, and is the divine program of human history. This program includes the successive stages of the creation of man, an universal fall and condemnation of the race, a partial redemption and salvation, and a partial reprobation and perdition: all for the glory of God and the display of his attributes of mercy and justice. History is only the execution of the original design. There can be no failure. The beginning and the end, God’s immutable plan and the issue of the world’s history, must correspond.

We should remember at the outset that we have to deal here with nothing less than a solution of the world-problem, and should approach it with reverence and an humble sense of the limitation of our mental capacities. We stand, as it were, before a mountain whose top is lost in the clouds. Many who dared to climb to the summit have lost their vision in the blinding snowdrifts. Dante, the deepest thinker among poets, deems the mystery of predestination too far removed from mortals who cannot see "the first cause in its wholeness," and too deep even for the comprehension of the saints in Paradise, who enjoy the beatific vision, yet "do not know all the elect," and are content "to will whatsoever God wills."848  Calvin himself confesses that, the predestination of God is a labyrinth, from which the mind of man can by no means extricate itself."849

The only way out of the labyrinth is the Ariadne thread of the love of God in Christ, and this is a still greater, but more blessed mystery, which we can adore rather than comprehend.


The Facts of Experience.


We find everywhere in this world the traces of a revealed God and of a hidden God; revealed enough to strengthen our faith, concealed enough to try our faith.

We are surrounded by mysteries. In the realm of nature we see the contrasts of light and darkness, day and night, heat and cold, summer and winter, life and death, blooming valleys and barren deserts, singing birds and poisonous snakes, useful animals and ravenous beasts, the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. Turning to human life, we find that one man is born to prosperity, the other to misery; one a king, the other a beggar; one strong and healthy, the other a helpless cripple; one a genius, the other an idiot; one inclined to virtue, another to vice; one the son of a saint, the other of a criminal; one in the darkness of heathenism, another in the light of Christianity. The best men as well as the worst are exposed to fatal accidents, and whole nations with their innocent offspring are ravaged and decimated by war, pestilence, and famine.

Who can account for all these and a thousand other differences and perplexing problems?  They are beyond the control of man’s will, and must be traced to the inscrutable will of God, whose ways are past finding out.

Here, then, is predestination, and, apparently, a double predestination to good or evil, to happiness or misery.

Sin and death are universal facts which no sane man can deny. They constitute the problem of problems. And the only practical solution of the problem is the fact of redemption. "Where sin has abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly; that as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord "(Rom. 5:20, 21).

If redemption were as universal in its operation as sin, the solution would be most satisfactory and most glorious. But redemption is only partially revealed in this world, and the great question remains: What will become of the immense majority of human beings who live and die without God and without hope in this world?  Is this terrible fact to be traced to the eternal counsel of God, or to the free agency of man?  Here is the point where Augustinianism and Calvinism take issue with Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, Synergism, and Arminianism.

The Calvinistic system involves a positive truth: the election to eternal life by free grace, and the negative inference: the reprobation to eternal death by arbitrary justice. The former is the strength, the latter is the weakness of the system. The former is practically accepted by all true believers; the latter always has been, and always will be, repelled by the great majority of Christians.

The doctrine of a gracious election is as clearly taught in the New Testament as any other doctrine. Consult such passages as Matt. 25:34; John 6:37, 44, 65; 10:28; 15:16; l7:12; 18:9; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:28–39; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:4–11; 2:8–10; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:2. The doctrine is confirmed by experience. Christians trace all their temporal and spiritual blessings, their life, health, and strength, their regeneration and conversion, every good thought and deed to the undeserved mercy of God, and hope to be saved solely by the merits of Christ, "by grace through faith," not by works of their own. The more they advance in spiritual life, the more grateful they feel to God, and the less inclined to claim any merit. The greatest saints are also the humblest. Their theology reflects the spirit and attitude of prayer, which rests on the conviction that God is the free giver of every good and perfect gift, and that, without God, we are nothing. Before the throne of grace all Christians may be called Augustinians and Calvinists.

It is the great merit of Calvin to have brought out this doctrine of salvation by free grace more forcibly and clearly than any divine since the days of Augustin. It has been the effective theme of the great Calvinistic preachers and writers in Europe and America to this day. Howe, Owen, Baxter, Bunyan, South, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Robert Hall, Chalmers, Spurgeon, were Calvinists in their creed, though belonging to different denominations,—Congregational, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist,—and had no superiors in pulpit power and influence. Spurgeon was the most popular and effective preacher of the nineteenth century, who addressed from week to week five thousand bearers in his Tabernacle, and millions of readers through his printed sermons in many tongues. Nor should we forget that some of the most devout Roman Catholics were Augustinians or Jansenists.

On the other hand, no man is saved mechanically or by force, but through faith, freely, by accepting the gift of God. This implies the contrary power of rejecting the gift. To accept is no merit, to reject is ingratitude and guilt. All Calvinistic preachers appeal to man’s responsibility. They pray as if everything depended on God; and yet they preach and work as if everything depended on man. And the Church is directed to send the gospel to every creature. We pray for the salvation of all men, but not for the loss of a single human being. Christ interceded even for his murderers on the cross.

Here, then, is a practical difficulty. The decree of reprobation cannot be made an object of prayer or preaching, and this is an argument against it. Experience confirms election, but repudiates reprobation.


The Logical Argument.


The logical argument for reprobation is that there can be no positive without a negative; no election of some without a reprobation of others. This is true by deductive logic, but not by inductive logic. There are degrees and stages of election. There must be a chronological order in the history of salvation. All are called sooner or later; some in the sixth, others in the ninth, others in the eleventh, hour, according to God’s providence. Those who accept the call and persevere in faith are among the elect (1 Pet. 1:1; 2:9). Those who reject it, become reprobate by their own unbelief, and against God’s wish and will. There is no antecedent decree of reprobation, but only a judicial act of reprobation in consequence of man’s sin.

Logic is a two-edged sword. It may lead from predestinarian premises to the conclusion that God is the author of sin, which Calvin himself rejects and abhors as a blasphemy. It may also lead to fatalism, pantheism, or universalism. We must stop somewhere in our process of reasoning, or sacrifice a part of the truth. Logic, it should be remembered, deals only with finite categories, and cannot grasp infinite truth. Christianity is not a logical or mathematical problem, and cannot be reduced to the limitations of a human system. It is above any particular system and comprehends the truths of all systems. It is above logic, yet not illogical; as revelation is above reason, yet not against reason.

We cannot conceive of God except as an omniscient and omnipotent being, who from eternity foreknew and, in some way, also foreordained all things that should come to pass in his universe. He foreknew what he foreordained, and he foreordained what he foreknew; his foreknowledge and foreordination, his intelligence and will are coeternal, and must harmonize. There is no succession of time, no before nor after in the eternal God. The fall of the first man, with its effects upon all future generations, cannot have been an accident which God, as a passive or neutral spectator, simply permitted to take place when he might so easily have prevented it. He must in some way have foreordained it, as a means for a higher end, as a negative condition for the greatest good. So far the force of reasoning, on the basis of belief in a personal God, goes to the full length of Calvinistic supralapsarianism, and even beyond it, to the very verge of universalism. If we give up the idea of a self-conscious, personal God, reason would force us into fatalism or pantheism.

But there is a logic of ethics as well as of metaphysics. God is holy as well as almighty and omniscient, and therefore cannot be the author of sin. Man is a moral as well as an intellectual being, and the claims of his moral constitution are equal to the claims of his intellectual constitution. Conscience is as powerful a factor as reason. The most rigid believer in divine sovereignty, if he be a Christian, cannot get rid of the sense of personal accountability, though he may be unable to reconcile the two. The harmony lies in God and in the moral constitution of man. They are the two complementary sides of one truth. Paul unites them in one sentence: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). The problem, however, comes within the reach of possible solution, if we distinguish between sovereignty as an inherent power, and the exercise of sovereignty. God may limit the exercise of his sovereignty to make room for the free action of his creatures. It is by his sovereign decree that man is free. Without such self-limitation he could not admonish men to repent and believe. Here, again, the Calvinistic logic must either bend or break. Strictly carried out, it would turn the exhortations of God to the sinner into a solemn mockery and cruel irony.


The Scripture Argument.


Calvin, though one of the ablest logicians, cared less for logic than for the Bible, and it is his obedience to the Word of God that induced him to accept the decretum horribile against his wish and will. His judgment is of the greatest weight, for he had no superior, and scarcely an equal, in thorough and systematic Bible knowledge and exegetical insight.

And here we must freely admit that not a few passages, especially in the Old Testament, favor a double decree to the extent of supreme supralapsarianism; yea, they go beyond the Calvinistic system, and seem to make God himself the author of sin and evil. See Ex. 4:21; 7:13 (repeatedly said of God’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart); Isa. 6:9, 10; 44:18; Jer. 6:21; Amos 3:6 ("Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"); Prov. 16:4; Matt. 11:25; 13:14, 15; John 12:40; Rom. 9:10–23; 11:7, 8; 1 Cor. 14:3; 2 Thess. 2:11; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4 ("who were of old set forth unto this condemnation ").850

The rock of reprobation is Romans 9. It is not accidental that Calvin elaborated and published the second edition of his Institutes simultaneously with his Commentary on the Romans, at Strassburg, in 1539.

There are especially three passages in Romans 9, which in their strict literal sense favor extreme Calvinism, and are so explained by some of the severest grammatical commentators of modern times (as Meyer and Weiss).

(a) 9:13: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated," quoted from Mal. 1:2, 3. This passage, whether we take it in a literal or anthropopathic sense, has no reference to the eternal destiny of Jacob and Esau, but to their representative position in the history of the theocracy. This removes the chief difficulty. Esau received a temporal blessing from his father (Gen. 27:39, 40), and behaved kindly and generously to his brother (33:4); he probably repented of the folly of his youth in selling his birthright,851 and may be among the saved, as well as Adam and Eve—the first among the lost and the first among the saved.

Moreover, the strict meaning of a positive hatred seems impossible in the nature of the case, since it would contradict all we know from the Bible of the attributes of God. A God of love, who commands us to love all men, even our enemies, cannot hate a child before his birth, or any of his creatures made in his own image. "Can a woman forget her sucking child," says the Lord, "that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?  Yea, these may forget, yet will I not forget thee" (Isa. 49:15). This is the prophet’s conception of the tender mercies of God. How much more must it be the conception of the New Testament?  The word hate must, therefore, be understood as a strong Hebraistic expression for loving less or putting back; as in Gen. 29:31, where the original text says, "Leah was hated" by Jacob, i.e. loved less than Rachel (comp. 29:30). When our Saviour says, Luke 14:26: "If any man hateth not his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple," he does not mean that his disciples should break the fifth commandment, and act contrary to his direction: "Love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you" (Matt. 5:44), but simply that we should prefer him above everything, even life itself, and should sacrifice whatever comes in conflict with him. This meaning is confirmed by the parallel passage, Matt. 10:37: "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me."

(b) Rom. 9:17. Paul traces the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart to the agency of God, and so far makes God responsible for sin. But this was a judicial act of punishing sin with sin; for Pharaoh had first hardened his own heart (Ex. 8:15, 32; 9:34). Moreover, this passage has no reference to Pharaoh’s future fate any more than the passage about Esau, but both refer to their place in the history of Israel.

(c) In Rom. 9:22 and 23, the Apostle speaks of "vessels of wrath fitted unto destruction" kathrtismevna eij" ajpwvleian), and "vessels of mercy which he (God) prepared unto glory" (a} prohtoivmasen eij" dovxan). But the difference of the verbs, and the difference between the passive (or middle) in the first clause and the active in the second is most significant, and shows that God has no direct agency in the destruction of the vessels of wrath, which is due to their self-destruction; the participle perfect denotes the result of a gradual process and a state of maturity for destruction, but not a divine purpose. Calvin is too good an exegete to overlook this difference, and virtually admits its force, although he tries to weaken it.

They observe," he says of his opponents, "that it is not said without meaning, that the vessels of wrath are fitted for destruction, but that God prepared the vessels of mercy; since by this mode of expression, Paul ascribes and challenges to God the praise of salvation, and throws the blame of perdition on those who by their choice procure it to themselves. But though I concede to them that Paul softens the asperity of the former clause by the difference of phraseology; yet it is not at all consistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to any other than the secret counsel of God, which is also asserted just before in the context, ’that God raised up Pharaoh, and whom he will he hardeneth.’  Whence it follows, that the cause of hardening is the secret counsel of God. This, however, I maintain, which is observed by Augustin, that when God turns wolves into sheep, he renovates them by more powerful grace to conquer their obstinacy; and therefore the obstinate are not converted, because God exerts not that mightier grace, of which he is not destitute if he chose to display it."852


Paul’s Teaching of the Extent of Redemption.


Whatever view we may take of these hard passages, we should remember that Romans 9 is only a part of Paul’s philosophy of history, unfolded in chapters 9–11. While Rom. 9 sets forth the divine sovereignty, Rom. 10 asserts the human responsibility, and Rom. 11 looks forward to the future solution of the dark problem, namely, the conversion of the fulness of the Gentiles and the salvation of all Israel (11:25). And he winds up the whole discussion with the glorious sentence: "God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy—upon all" (11:32). This is the key for the understanding, not only of this section, but of the whole Epistle to the Romans.853

And this is in harmony with the whole spirit and aim of this Epistle. It is easier to make it prove a system of conditional universalism than a system of dualistic particularism. The very theme, 1:16, declares that the gospel is a power of God for the salvation, not of a particular class, but of "every one" that believeth. In drawing a parallel between the first and the second Adam (5:12–21), he represents the effect of the latter as equal in extent, and greater in intensity than the effect of the former; while in the Calvinistic system it would be less. We have no right to limit "the many" (oiJ polloiv) and the, "all" (pavnte") in one clause, and to take it literally in the other. "If, by the trespass of the one [Adam], death reigned through the one, much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ. So, then, as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many [i.e. all] were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many [all] be made righteous" (5:17–19).854  The same parallel, without any restriction, is more briefly expressed in the passage (1 Cor. 15:21): "As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive;" and in a different form in Rom. 11:32 and Gal. 3:22, already quoted.

These passages contain, as in a nutshell, the theodicy of Paul. They dispel the darkness of Romans 9. They exclude all limitations of God’s plan and intention to a particular class; they teach not, indeed, that all men will be actually saved—for many reject the divine offer, and die in impenitence,—but that God sincerely desires and actually provides salvation for all. Whosoever is saved, is saved by grace; whosoever is lost, is lost by his own guilt of unbelief.


The Offer of Salvation.


There remains, it is true, the great difficulty that the offer of salvation is limited in this world, as far as we know, to a part of the human race, and that the great majority pass into the other world without any knowledge of the historical Christ.

But God gave to every man the light of reason and conscience (Rom. 1:19; 2:14, 15). The Divine Logos "lighteth every man" that cometh into the world (John 1:9). God never left himself "without witness" (Acts 14:17). He deals with his creatures according to the measure of their ability and opportunity, whether they have one or five or ten talents (Matt. 25:15 sqq.). He is "no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:35).

May we not then cherish at least a charitable hope, if not a certain belief, that a God of infinite love and justice will receive into his heavenly kingdom all those who die innocently ignorant of the Christian revelation, but in a state of preparedness or disposition for the gospel, so that they would thankfully accept it if offered to them?  Cornelius was in such a condition before Peter entered his house, and he represents a multitude which no man can number. We cannot know and measure the secret operations of the Spirit of God, who works "when, where, and how he pleases."

Surely, here is a point where the rigor of the old orthodoxy, whether Roman Catholic, or Lutheran, or Calvinistic, must be moderated. And the Calvinistic system admits more readily of an expansion than the churchly and sacramental type of orthodoxy.


The General Love of God to all Men.


This doctrine of a divine will and divine provision of a universal salvation, on the sole condition of faith, is taught in many passages which admit of no other interpretation, and which must, therefore, decide this whole question. For it is a settled rule in hermeneutics that dark passages must be explained by clear pas-sages, and not vice versa. Such passages are the following: —

"I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord our God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live" (Ezek. 18:32, 23; 33:11). "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself" (John 12:32). "God so loved the world" (that is, all mankind) "that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "God our Saviour willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth "(1 Tim. 2:4).855  "The grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Tit. 2:11). "The Lord is long-suffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).856  "Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for (the sins of) the whole world" (1 John 2:2). It is impossible to state the doctrine of a universal atonement more clearly in so few words.857

To these passages should be added the divine exhortations to repentance, and the lament of Christ over the inhabitants of Jerusalem who "would not" come to him (Matt. 23:37). These exhortations are insincere or unmeaning, if God does not want all men to be saved, and if men have not the ability to obey or disobey the voice. The same is implied in the command of Christ to preach the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15), and to disciple all nations (Matt. 28:19).

It is impossible to restrict these passages to a particular class without doing violence to the grammar and the context.

The only way of escape is by the distinction between a revealed will of God, which declares his willingness to save all men, and a secret will of God which means to save only some men.858  Augustin and Luther made this distinction. Calvin uses it in explaining 2 Pet. 3:9, and those passages of the Old Testament which ascribe repentance and changes to the immutable God.

But this distinction overthrows the system which it is intended to support. A contradiction between intention and expression is fatal to veracity, which is the foundation of human morality, and must be an essential attribute of the Deity. A man who says the reverse of what he means is called, in plain English, a hypocrite and a liar. It does not help the matter when Calvin says, repeatedly, that there are not two wills in God, but only two ways of speaking adapted to our weakness. Nor does it remove the difficulty when he warns us to rely on the revealed will of God rather than brood over his secret will.

The greatest, the deepest, the most comforting word in the Bible is the word, "God is love," and the greatest fact in the world’s history is the manifestation of that love in the person and the work of Christ. That word and this fact are the sum and substance of the gospel, and the only solid foundation of Christian theology. The sovereignty of God is acknowledged by Jews and Mohammedans as well as by Christians, but the love of God is revealed only in the Christian religion. It is the inmost essence of God, and the key to all his ways and works. It is the central truth which sheds light upon all other truths.


 § 115. Calvin’s Theory of the Sacraments.


Inst. bk. IV. chs. XIV.–XIX.


Next to the doctrine of predestination, Calvin paid most attention to the doctrine of the sacraments. And here he was original, and occupied a mediating position between Luther and Zwingli. His sacramental theory passed into all the Reformed Confessions more than his view of predestination.

Calvin accepts Augustin’s definition that a sacrament (corresponding to the Greek "mystery") is "a visible sign of an invisible grace," but he improves it by emphasizing the sealing character of the sacrament, according to Rom. 4:11, and the necessity of faith as the condition of receiving the benefit of the ordinance. "It is," he says, "an outward sign by which the Lord seals in our consciences the promises of his good-will towards us, to support the weakness of our faith, or a testimony of his grace towards us, with a reciprocal attestation of our piety towards him."  It is even more expressive than the word. It is a divine seal of authentication, which sustains and strengthens our faith. "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). To be efficacious, the sacraments must be accompanied by the Spirit, that internal Teacher, by whose energy alone our hearts are penetrated, and our affections moved. Without the influence of the Spirit, the sacraments can produce no more effect upon our minds, than the splendor of the sun on blind eyes, or the sound of a voice upon deaf ears. If the seed falls on a desert spot, it will die; but if it be cast upon a cultivated field, it will bring forth abundant increase.

Calvin vigorously opposes, as superstitious and mischievous, the scholastic opus operatum theory that the sacraments justify and confer grace by an intrinsic virtue, provided we do not obstruct their operation by a mortal sin. A sacrament without faith misleads the mind to rest in the exhibition of a sensuous object rather than in God himself, and is ruinous to true piety.

He agrees with Augustin in the opinion that the sign and the matter of the sacrament are not inseparably connected, and that it produces its intended effect only in the elect. He quotes from him the sentence: "The morsel of bread given by the Lord to Judas was poison; not because Judas received an evil thing, but because, being a wicked man, he received a good thing in a sinful manner."  But this must not be understood to mean that the virtue and truth of the sacrament depend on the condition or choice of him who receives it. . The symbol consecrated by the word of the Lord is in reality what it is declared to be, and preserves its virtue, although it confers no benefit on a wicked and impious person. Augustin happily solves this question in a few words: "If thou receive it carnally, still it ceases not to be spiritual; but it is not so to thee."  The office of the sacrament is the same as that of the word of God; both offer Christ and his heavenly grace to us, but they confer no benefit without the medium of faith.

Calvin discusses at length the seven sacraments of the Roman Church, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the mass. But it is sufficient here to state his views on baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the only sacraments which Christ directly instituted for perpetual observance in the Church.


 § 116. Baptism.


Inst. IV. chs. XV. and XVI. Also his Brieve instruction, pour armer tous bons fideles contre les erreurs de la secte commune des Anabaptistes, Geneva, 1544, 2d ed. 1545; Latin version by Nicolas des Gallars. In Opera, VII. 45 sqq. This tract was written against the fanatical wing of the Anabaptists at the request of the pastors of Neuchâtel. His youthful treatise On the Sleep of the Soul was also directed against the Anabaptists. See above, § 77, pp. 325 sqq. Calvin’s wife was the widow of a converted Anabaptist.


Baptism, Calvin says, is the sacrament of ablution and regeneration; the Eucharist is the sacrament of redemption and sanctification. Christ "came by water and by blood" (1 John 5:6); that is, to purify and to redeem. The Spirit, as the third and chief witness, confirms and secures the witness of water and blood; that is, of baptism and the eucharist (1 John 5:8).859  This sublime mystery was strikingly exhibited on the cross, when blood and water issued from Christ’s side, which on this account Augustin justly called ’the fountain of our sacraments.’ "

I. Calvin defines baptism as, a sign of initiation, by which we are admitted into the society of the Church, in order that, being incorporated into Christ, we may be numbered among the children of God."

II. Faith derives three benefits from this sacrament.

1. It assures us, like a legal instrument properly attested, that all our sins are cancelled, and will never be imputed unto us (Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21). It is far more than a mark or sign by which we profess our religion before men, as soldiers wear the insignia of their sovereign. It is "for the remission of sins," past and future. No new sacrament is necessary for sins committed after baptism. At whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified for the whole life. "Whenever we have fallen, we must recur to the remembrance of baptism, and arm our minds with the consideration of it, that we may be always certified and assured of the remission of our sins."

2. Baptism shows us our mortification in Christ, and our new life in him. All who receive baptism with faith experience the efficacy of Christ’s death and the power of his resurrection, and should therefore walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3, 4, 11).

3. Baptism affords us "the certain testimony that we are not only engrafted into the life and death of Christ, but are so united to him as to be partakers of all his benefits" (Gal. 3:26, 27).

But while baptism removes the guilt and punishment of hereditary and actual sin, it does not destroy our natural depravity, which is perpetually producing works of the flesh, and will not be wholly abolished till the close of this mortal life. In the mean time we must hold fast to the promise of God in baptism, fight manfully against sin and temptation, and press forward to complete victory.

III. On the question of the validity of baptism by unworthy ministers, Calvin fully agrees with Augustin against the view of the Donatists, who measured the virtue of the sacrament by the moral character of the minister. He applies the argument to the Anabaptists of his day, who denied the validity of Catholic baptism on account of the idolatry and corruption of the papal Church. "Against these follies we shall be sufficiently fortified, if we consider that we are baptized not in the name of any man, but in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and consequently that it is not the baptism of man, but of God, by whomsoever administered."  The papal priests "did not baptize us into the fellowship of their own ignorance or sacrilege, but into the faith of Jesus Christ, because they invoked, not their own name, but the name of God, and baptized in no name but his. As it was the baptism of God, it certainly contained the promise of remission of sins, mortification of the flesh, spiritual vivification, and participation of Christ. Thus it was no injury to the Jews to have been circumcised by impure and Apostate priests; nor was the sign on that account useless, so as to render it necessary to be repeated, but it was sufficient to recur to the genuine original … . When Hezekiah and Josiah assembled together out of all Israel, those who had revolted from God, they did not call any of them to a second circumcision."

He argues against the Anabaptists from the fact also, that the apostles who had received the baptism of John, were not rebaptized. "And among us, what rivers would be sufficient for the repetition of ablutions as numerous as the errors which are daily corrected among us by the mercy of the Lord."860

IV. He pleads for the simplicity of the ordinance against the adventitious medley of incantation, wax-taper, spittle, salt, and "other fooleries," which from an early age were publicly introduced. "Such theatrical pomps dazzle the eye and stupify the minds of the ignorant."  The simple ceremony as instituted by Christ, accompanied by a confession of faith, prayers, and thanksgivings, shines with the greater lustre, unencumbered with extraneous corruptions. He disapproves the ancient custom of baptism by laymen in cases of danger of death. God can regenerate a child without baptism.

V. The mode of baptism was not a subject of controversy at that time. Calvin recognized the force of the philological and historical argument in favor of immersion, but regarded pouring and sprinkling as equally valid, and left room for Christian liberty according to the custom in different countries.861  Immersion was then still the prevailing mode in England, and continued till the reign of Elizabeth, who was herself baptized by immersion.

VI. But while meeting the Baptists half-way on the question of the mode, he strenuously defends paedobaptism, and devotes a whole chapter to it.862  He urges, as arguments, circumcision, which was a type of baptism; the nature of the covenant, which comprehends the offspring of pious parents; Christ’s treatment of children, as belonging to the kingdom of heaven, and therefore entitled to the sign and seal of membership; the word of Peter addressed to the converts on the day of Pentecost, who were accustomed to infant circumcision, that "the promise is to you and your children" (Acts 2:39); Paul’s declaration that the children are sanctified by their parents (1 Cor. 7:14), etc. He refutes at length the objections of the Anabaptists, with special reference to Servetus, who agreed with them on that point.

He assigns to infant baptism a double benefit: it ratifies to pious parents the promise of God’s mercy to their children, and increases their sense of responsibility as to their education; it engrafts the children into the body of the Church, and afterwards acts as a powerful stimulus upon them to be true to the baptismal vow.


 § 117. The Lord’s Supper. The Consensus of Zuerich.


I. Inst. IV. chs. XVII. and XVIII. Comp. the first ed., cap. IV., in Opera, I. 118 sqq.—Petit traicté de la sainte cène de nostre Seigneur Jesus-Christ.  Auquel est demontré la vraye institution, profit et utilité d’icelle, Genève, 1541, 1542, 1549. Opera, V. 429–460. Latin version by Nicholas des Gallars: Libellus de Coena Domini, a Ioanne Calvino pridem Gallica lingua scriptus, nunc vero in Latinum sermonem conversus, Gen., 1545. Also translated into English. Remarkably moderate.—The two catechisms of Calvin. — Consensio mutua in re sacramentaria Tigurinae Ecclesiae et D. Calvini ministri Genevensis Ecclesiae jam nunc ab ipsis authoribus edita (usually called Consensus Tigurinus), simultaneously published at Geneva and Zuerich, 1551; French ed. L’accord passé, etc., Gen., 1551. In Opera, VII. 689–748. The Latin text also in Niemeyer’s Collectio Conf, pp. 191–217. A German translation (Die Zuericher Uebereinkunft) in Bickel’s Bekenntnissschriften der evang. reform. Kirche, pp. 173–181. Comp. the correspondence of Calvin with Bullinger, Farel, etc., concerning the Consensus.—Calvin’s polemical writings against Joachim Westphal, namely, Defensio sanae et orthodoxae doctrinae de sacramentis, Geneva, 1554, Zuerich, 1555; Secunda Defensio ... contra Westphali calumnias, Gen., 1556; and Ultima Admonitio ad Westphalum, Gen., 1557. In Opera, IX. 1–120, 137–252. Lastly, his book against Tilemann Hesshus (Hesshusen), Dilucida Explicatio sanae doctrinae de vera participatione carnis et sanguinis Christi in sacra Coena, ad discutiendas Heshusii nebulas, Gen., 1561. In Opera, IX. 457–524. (In the Amsterdam ed., Tom. IX. 648–723.) Klebiz of Heidelberg, Beza, and Pierre Boquin also took part in the controversy with Hesshus.

II. For a comparative statement of the eucharistic views of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, see this History, vol. VI. 669–682; and Creeds of Christendom, I. 455 sqq.; 471 sqq. Calvin’s doctrine has been fully set forth by Ebrard in fils Dogma v. heil. Abendmahl, II. 402–525, and by Nevin in his Mystical Presence, Philad., 1846, pp. 54–67; and in the "Mercersburg Review" for September, 1850, pp. 421–548 (against Dr. Hodge in the "Princeton Review" for 1848). Comp. also §§ 132–134 below; Henry, P. I. ch. XIII.; and Staehelin, II. 189 sqq.


In the eucharistic controversy, which raged with such fury in the age of the Reformation, and was the chief cause of separation in its ranks, Calvin consistently occupied from the beginning to the end the position of a mediator and peacemaker between the Lutherans and Zwinglians, between Wittenberg and Zuerich.

The way for a middle theory was prepared by the Tetrapolitan or Swabian Confession, drawn up by Martin Bucer, a born compromiser, during the Diet of Augsburg, 1530,863 and by the Wittenberg Concordia, 1536, which for a while satisfied the Lutherans, but was justly rejected by the Swiss.

Calvin published his theory in its essential features in the first edition of the Institutes (1536), more fully in the second edition (1539), then in a special tract written at Strassburg. He defended it in various publications, and adhered to it with his usual firmness. It was accepted by the Reformed Churches, and never rejected by Luther; on the contrary, he is reported to have spoken highly of Calvin’s tract,—De Coena Domini, when he got hold of a Latin copy in 1545, a year before his death.864

Calvin approached the subject with a strong sense of the mystery of the vital union of Christ with the believer, which is celebrated in the eucharist. "I exhort my readers," he says, in the last edition of his Institutes, "to rise much higher than I am able to conduct them; for as to myself, whenever I handle this subject, after having endeavored to say everything, I am conscious of having said but very little in comparison with its excellence. And though the conceptions of the mind can far exceed the expressions of the tongue; yet, with the magnitude of the subject, the mind itself is oppressed and overwhelmed. Nothing remains for me, therefore, but to break forth in admiration of that mystery, which the mind is unable clearly to understand, or the tongue to express."865

He aimed to combine the spiritualism of Zwingli with the realism of Luther, and to avoid the errors of both. And he succeeded as well as the case will admit. He agreed with Zwingli in the figurative interpretation of the words of institution, which is now approved by the best Protestant exegetes, and rejected the idea of a corporal presence and oral participation in the way of transubstantiation or consubstantiation, which implies either a miracle or an omnipresence of the body of Christ. But he was not satisfied with a purely commemorative or symbolical theory, and laid the chief stress on the positive side of an actual communion with the ever-living Christ. He expressed in private letters the opinion that Zwingli had been so much absorbed with overturning the superstition of a carnal presence that he denied or obscured the true efficacy of the sacrament.866  He acknowledged the mystery of the real presence and real participation, but understood them spiritually and dynamically. He confined the participation of the body and blood of Christ to believers, since faith is the only means of communion with Christ; while Luther extended it to all communicants, only with opposite effects.

The following is a brief summary of his view from the last edition of the Institutes (1559): —


After receiving us into his family by baptism, God undertakes to sustain and to nourish us as long as we live, and gives us a pledge of his gracious intention in the sacrament of the holy communion. This is a spiritual banquet, in which Christ testifies himself to be the bread of life, to feed our souls for a true and blessed immortality. The signs of bread and wine represent to us the invisible nourishment which we receive from the body and blood of Christ. They are exhibited in a figure and image, adapted to our feeble capacity, and rendered certain by visible tokens and pledges, which the dullest minds can understand. This mystical benediction, then, is designed to assure us that the body of the Lord was once offered as a sacrifice for us upon which we may now feed, and that his blood was once shed for us and is our perpetual drink. "His flesh is true meat, and his blood is true drink" (John 6:55). "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Eph. 5:30). "This is a great mystery" (5:32), which can be admired rather than expressed. Our souls are fed by the flesh and blood of Christ, just as our corporal life is preserved and sustained by bread and wine. Otherwise there would be no propriety in the analogy of the sign. The breaking of the bread is indeed symbolical, yet significant; for God is not a deceiver who sets before us an empty sign. The symbol of the body assures us of the donation of the invisible substance, so that in receiving the sign we receive the thing itself. The thing signified is exhibited and offered to all who come to that spiritual banquet, but it is advantageously enjoyed only by those who receive it with true faith and gratitude.


Calvin lays great stress on the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit in the communion. This was ignored by Luther and Zwingli. The Spirit raises our hearts from earth to heaven, as he does in every act of devotion (sursum corda), and he brings down the life-giving power of the exalted Redeemer in heaven, and thus unites what is, according to our imperfect notions, separated by local distance.867  The medium of communication is faith. Calvin might have sustained his view by the old liturgies of the Oriental Church, which have a special prayer invoking the Holy Spirit at the consecration of the eucharistic elements.868

He quotes several passages from Augustin in favor of the spiritual real presence. Ratramnus in the ninth, and Berengar in the eleventh, century had likewise appealed to Augustin against the advocates of a carnal presence and participation.869

When Luther reopened the eucharistic controversy by a fierce attack upon the Zwinglians (1545), who defended their martyred Reformer in a sharp reply, Calvin was displeased with both parties, and labored to bring about a reconciliation.870  He corresponded with Bullinger (the Melanchthon of the Swiss Church), and, on his invitation, he went to Zuerich with Farel (May, 1549). The delicate negotiations were carried on by both parties with admirable frankness, moderation, wisdom, and patience. The result was the "Consensus Tigurinus," in which Calvin states his doctrine as nearly as possible in agreement with Zwingli. This document was published in 1551, and adopted by all the Reformed Cantons, except Bern, which cherished a strong dislike to Calvin’s rigorism. It was also favorably received in France, England, and in parts of Germany. Melanchthon declared to Lavater (Bullinger’s son-in-law) that he then for the first time understood the Swiss, and would never again oppose them; but he struck out the clause of the "Consensus" which confined the efficacy of the sacrament to the elect.

But while the "Consensus" brought peace to the Swiss Churches, and satisfied the Melanchthonians, it was assailed by Westphal and Hesshus, who out-luthered Luther in zeal and violence, and disturbed the last years of Melanchthon and Calvin. We shall discuss this controversy in the next chapter.

The Calvinistic theory of the Eucharist passed into all the Reformed Confessions, and is very strongly stated in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the chief symbol of the German and Dutch Reformed Churches.871  In practice, however, it has, among Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, largely given way to the Zwinglian view, which is more plain and intelligible, but ignores the mystical element in the holy communion.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

779  "Ohne alle Frage der groesste Exeget des (sechszehnten) Jahrhunderts." Geschichte der heil. Schriften des Neuen Test. p. 618 (6th ed. 1887).

780  "The greatest exegete and theologian of the Reformation was undoubtedly Calvin." History of Interpretation, London, 1886, p. 342. Farrar quotes from Keble a manuscript note of Hooker, who says that "the sense of Scripture which Calvin alloweth" was held (in the Anglican Church) to be of more force than if "ten thousand Augustins, Jeromes, Chrysostoms, Cyprians were brought forth."

781  "Der Schoepfer der aechten Exegese." Diestel adds: "Johannes Calvin ragt ebensowohl durch den Umfang seiner exegetischen Arbeiten wie durch eine seltene Genialitat in der Auslegung hervor; unuebertroffen in seinem Jahrhundert, bieten seine Exegesen fuer alle folgenden Zeiten noch bis heute einen reichen Stoff der Schriftkenntniss dar." Geschichte des Alten Testaments in der christl. Kirche, Jena, 1869, p. 267. Dr. A. Merx of Heidelberg, another master in biblical philology, fully agrees: "Calvin ist der groesste Exeget seiner Zeit ... der Schoepfer der aechten Exegese" (on Joel, p. 428), and he ascribes to him, besides the necessary learning, including Hebrew, the sagacity of understanding and explaining the whole from the parts, and the parts from the whole.

782  G. Wohlenberg, a Lutheran divine, begins a notice of the new edition of Calvin’s Commentaries on the New Test. (in Luthardt’s, Theol. Lit.-blatt," Oct. 9, 1891) with this remark: "Calvin’s Commentare zum N. T. gehoeren zu den nie veraltenden Werken. Und so gut wie Bengel’s ’Gnomon’ immer wieder gedruckt und gelesen werden wird, so lange es eine gesunde und fromme Schrifterklaerung giebt, so werden auch Calvin’s Commentare nie vergessen werden."

783  "Calvinus miram in pervidenda apostoli mente subtilitatem, in exponenda prespicuitatem probavit." In the third ed. of his Com. on the Ep. to the Galatians.

784  "Ignavus in grammatica est ignavus in theologia." Postill. IV. 428.

785  Calvin himself fully acknowledged the exegetical merits of Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Bucer, in their commentaries on Romans, but modestly hints at their defects to justify his own commentary, which is far superior. See his interesting dedication to Grynaeus, written in 1539.

786  He wrote in 1523 that, ten years before (when priest at Glarus), "operam dedi Graecianis literis, ut ex fontibus doctrinam Christi haurire possem."

787  De Modo legendi et intelligendi Hebraeum, written at Tuebingen or Basel in 1501, first printed in the Margarita philosophica, at Strassburg in 1504 (one or two years before Reuchlin’s Rudimenta Linguae Hebr.), recently discovered and republished by Nestle, Tuebingen, 1877.

788  Commentaria Bibliorum, Zuerich, 1632-39, 7 vols. See Diestel, l.c., 272 sq., and Strack in Herzog2 XI. 432 sqq.

789  His knowledge of Hebrew was unjustly depreciated by the Roman Catholic Richard Simon. But Dr. Diestel, a most competent judge, ascribes to Calvin "a very solid knowledge of Hebrew." See above, p. 276, and p. 525. Tholuck, also, in his essay above quoted, asserts that "every glance at Calvin’s Commentary on the Old Testament assures us not only that he understood Hebrew, but that he had a very thorough knowledge of this language." He mentions, by way of illustration, a number of difficult Hebrew and Greek words which Calvin correctly explains. He denies that he was dependent on Pellican’s notes, as Semler had gratuitously suggested.

790  He expresses his estimate of the Fathers in the Preface to his Institutes as follows: "Another calumny is their charging us with opposition to the fathers; I mean the writers of the earlier and purer ages, as if those writers were abettors of their impiety; whereas if the contest were to be terminated by this authority, the victory in most parts of the controversy, to speak in the most modest terms, would be on our side. But though the writings of those fathers contain many wise and excellent things, yet, in some respects, they have suffered the common fate of mankind; these very dutiful children reverence only their errors and mistakes, but their excellences they either overlook, or conceal, or corrupt; so that it may be truly said to be their only study to collect dross from the midst of gold. Then they overwhelm us with senseless clamors, as despisers and enemies of the fathers. But we do not hold them in such contempt, but that if it were consistent with my present design, I could easily support by their suffrages most of the sentiments that we now maintain. Yet, while we make use of their writings, we always remember that ’All things are ours’ to serve us, not to have dominion over us, and that ’we are Christ’s’ alone, and owe him universal obedience. He who neglects this distinction will have nothing decided in religion, since those holy men were ignorant of many things, frequently at variance with each other and sometimes even inconsistent with themselves." In the preface to his commentary on the Romans he praises the Fathers for their pietas, eruditio, and sanctimonia, and adds that their antiquity lent them such authority, "ut nihil quod ab ipsis profectum sit, contemnere debeamus." Compare with this judgment Luther’s bolder and cruder opinions on the Fathers, quoted in vol. VI. 534 sqq.

791  In the dedicatory preface to his Com. on Romans he reminds his friend Grynaeus of a conversation they had three years previously, on the best method of interpretation, when they agreed that the chief virtue of an interpreter was "perspicua brevitas," and adds:, Et sane quum hoc sit prope unicum illius officium, mentem scriptores, quem explicandum sumpsit, patefacere: quantum ab ea lectores abducit, tantundem a scopo suo aberrat, vel certe a suis finibus quodammodo evagatur."

792  Harmon. II. 107.

793  See Reuss, Gesch. des N. T. § 474 (p. 639, 6th ed.). Reuss prepared from Calvin’s French Commentaries a French version for his ed. of the Opera.

794  Expressed in the memorial lines:—

 Litera gesta docet; quid credas, Allegoria;

 Moralis, quid agas; quo tendas, Anagogia."

795  Pref. ad Romanos: "Affinis sacrilegio audacia est Scripturas temere huc illuc versare et quasi in re lusoria lascivire: quod a multis jam olim factitatum est."

796  "Et certe Chrysostomus in vocabulo Allegoriae fatetur esse catechresin (katavcrhsi"): quod verissimum est."

797  Ad Gen. 1:1 (Opera, XXIII. 15): "Habetur apud Moses !yhla , nomen pluralis numeri. Unde colligere solent, hic in Deo notari tres personas; sed quia parum solida mihi videtur tantae rei probatio, ego in voce non insistam. Quin potius monendi sunt lectores ut sibi a violentis ejusmodi glossis caveant. Putant illi se testimonium habere adversus Arianos ad probandam Filii et Spiritus divinitatem, interea se involvunt in errorem Sabellii." But in the words, "Let us make man," Gen. 1:26, he admits, after rejecting the Rabbinical fancies, the intimation of a plurality in God: "Christiani apposite plures subesse in Deo personas ex hoc testimonio contendunt. Neminem extraneum advocat Deus: hinc colligimus, intus eum aliquid distinctum invenire ut certe aeterna eius sapientia et virtus in ipso resident." (Ib. 25.)

798  On this passage he remarks: "Veteres hoc testimonio usi sunt, quum vellent adversus Arianos tres personas in una Dei essentia probare. Quorum ego sententiam non improbo; sed si mihi res cum haereticis esset, mallem firmioribus testimoniis uti."

799  Older Lutheran divines (even Walch, Biblioth. Theol. IV. 413) charged him with Judaizing and Socinian misinterpretation of the O. T. proof texts for the Trinity and the divinity of the Messiah. Aegidius Hunnius, in his Calvinus Judaizans (Wittenberg, 1693), thought that Calvin ought to have been burnt for his abominable perversion of the Scriptures. D. Pareus of Heidelberg defended him against this charge in his Orthodoxus Calvinus. Modern Lutheran exegesis fully sustains him.

800  Ad Gen. 3:15 (Opera, XXIII. 71): "Generaliter semen interpreter de posteris. Sed quum experientia doceat, multum abesse quin supra diabolum victores emergant omnes filii Adae, ad caput unum venire necesse est, ut reperiamus ad quem pertineat victoria. Sic Paulus a semine Abrahae ad Christum nos deducit …. Quare sensus est (meo judicio), humanum genus, quod opprimere conatus erat Satan, fore tandem superius."

801  Harm. I. 80. Tholuck’s ed. On Matt. 2:23 in the same chapter, Calvin says (p. 83): "Non deducit Matthaeus Nazaraeum a Nazareth: quasi sit haec propria et certa etymologia, sed tantum est allusio," etc.

802  Comp. his notes on Gen. 3:15; Isa. 4:2; 6:3; Ps. 33:6; Matt. 2:15; 8:17; 11:11; John 1:51:2:17; 5:31 sq.; 2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet, 3:19; Heb. 2:6-8; 4:3; 11:21.

803  See Luther’s judgments in vol. VI. 35 sq.

804  Harm. II. 349 (Tholuck’s ed.): "Quomodo Jeremiae nomen obrepserit, me nescire fateor, nec anxie laboro: certe Jeremiae nomen errore positum esse pro Zacharia 13:7, res ipsa ostendit: quia nihil tale apud Jeremiam legitur, vel etiam quod accedat."

805  Ad Acta 7:16 (Acts 7:16):, "In nomine Abrahae erratum esse palam est … Quare hic locus corrigendus est." According to Gen. 50:13, Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah at Hebron, and Jacob was buried there, and not at Shechem.

806  See his admirable comments on 1 Cor. 1:17 sqq., and 2 Cor. 11:6, where he mentions the majestas, altitudo, pondus, and vis of Paul’s words, and says: "Fulmina sunt, non verba. An non dilucidius Spiritus Sancti efficacia apparet in nuda verborum rusticitate (ut ita loquar) quam in elegantiae et nitoris larva?"

807  Fr. Turretin, a strict scholastic Calvinist, and one of the authors of the Helvetic Consensus Formula, opposed the allegorical method and defended the sound, one-sense principle (in his Inst. Theol. Elencticae, quaest. XIX., vol. I. 135): "Nos ita sentimus, Scripturae S. unicum tantum competere verum et genuinum sensum, sed sensum illum duplicem posse esse, vel Simplicem, vel Compositum. Simplex et historicus est, qui unius rei declarationem continet, absque ullius alterius significatione, qui vel praecepta, vel dogmata, vel historias spectat. Et hic rursus duplex, vel Proprius et Grammaticalis, vel Figuratus et Tropicus. Proprius qui ex verbis propriis oritur; Tropicus qui ex verbis figuratis. Sensus Compositus seu mixtus est in oraculis typi rationem habentibus, cujus pars est in typo, pars in antitypo; quae non constituunt duos sensus, sed duos partes unius ejusdemque sensus intenti a Spiritu Sancto, qui cum litera mysterium respexit, ut in isto Oraculo, ’Os non confringetis ei,’ Exo. 12:46, plenus non potest haberi sensus, nisi cum veritate typi, seu Agni Paschalis, conjungatur veritas Antitypi seu Christi ex Jo. 19:36."

808  Bk. I. ch. VII. and VIII.

809  Luther said substantially the same thing in his controversy with Eck: "The Church cannot give any more authority or power to the Scripture than it has of itself. A Council cannot make that to be Scripture which is not Scripture by its own nature."

810  Selected from Inst. I. VII. §§ 1, 4, 5, and VIII. § 1.

811  Comp. vol. VI. 36 sqq.

812  According to the Index of the List of Authors quoted in Calvin’s Institutes, which is appended to Beveridge’s translation, Edinburgh, 1856, vol. III. 626-663, the number of his quotations from the principal fathers is as follows: 228 from Augustin; 39 from Pope Gregory I.; 27 from Chrysostom; 23 from Bernard; 18 from Ambrose; 14 from Cyprian; 12 from Jerome; 11 from Hilary; 7 from Tertullian. Of classical authors there are, in the Institutes, 7 quotations from Plato; 5 from Aristotle; 9 from Cicero; 3 from Seneca; 2 from Plutarch, etc. The Index theologicus in Opera, XXII. 136-143, gives 7 columns of quotations from Augustin. This does not include the commentaries.

813  Contra Ep. Manichaei quam vocant Fundamenti, c. 5: "Ego evangelio non crederem nisi me moveret ecclesiae auctoritas." This famous anti-Manichaean passage is often quoted by Roman Catholics against Protestants. Calvin discusses it at length in his Inst. (Bk. I. ch. VII. § 3), and tries to deprive it of its anti-Protestant force, but he admits it in the sense that "the authority of the Church is an introduction to prepare us for the faith of the gospel."

814  De Servo Arbitrio, against Erasmus (1526). He never retracted this book, but declared it many years afterwards to be one of his best. He was followed by Amsdorf, Flacius, Wigand, and Brenz. See Church History, vol. VI. 430 sqq.; Koestlin, Luther’s Theologie, I. 773 sqq.; Luthardt, Dogmatik, p. 120 (6th ed.), and his Lehre vom freien Willen; Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, III. 714 sq.; and Loofs, Leitfaden zum Studium der Dogmengeschichte, 2d ed. Halle, 1890, pp. 322-324, and 317-350.

815  See Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, I. 313 sqq.; and the works on the Formula Concordiae.

816  Calvin was well aware of Augustin’s change on this point. "Origen, Ambrose, and Jerome," he says, "believed that God dispenses his grace among men, according to his foreknowledge of the good use which every individual will make of it. Augustin also was once of the same sentiment, but when he had made a greater proficiency in scriptural knowledge, he not only retracted, but powerfully confuted it." Then he quotes in proof a number of passages. Inst. III. ch. XXII. § 8.

817  Augustin based his view of a quasi pre-existence of all men in the loins of Adam on a false exegesis of Rom. 5:12, ejn w||, by following the Vulgate rendering in quo (in whom), and referring it back to Adam; while it has the meaning because (ejpi; touvtw/ o{ti = diovti), or on condition that (ejpi; touvtw/ w{ste, ea ratione ut, inasmuch as). It is neuter, not masculine. On the exegesis of that famous passage, and the doctrinal discussions on it, see my extensive notes in Lange’s Comm. on Romans, pp. 172 sqq.

818  The essential agreement of the Reformers on the doctrine of free-will and predestination has been proven by scholars of different schools, as Jul. Mueller (Lutheri doctrina de praedestinatione et libero arbitrio, and in his Dogmatische Abhandlungen, pp. 169-179), Hundeshagen (Conflicte des Zwinglianismus, Lutherthums, und Calvinismus in der Bernischen Landeskirche von 1532-1558), Baur (Der Gegensatz des Katholicismus und Protestantismus, and in hisDogmengeschichte), Schweizer (Centraldogmen), Gieseler, Hagenbach, Dorner, Luthardt, Loofs, and others.

819  Calvin expressed to Bullinger, in a confidential letter, January, 1552, his dissatisfaction with the paradoxical expressions of Zwingli’s tract De Providentia. "Zwinglii libellus," he writes, "ut familiariter inter nos loquamur, tam duris paradoxis refertus est, ut longissime ab ea quam adhibui moderatione distet." Bullinger, however, never contradicted the liberal sentiments of his teacher and friend, and believed in extraordinary modes of salvation, "sine externo ministerio, quo et quando velit (Deus)., et quod ejus potentiae est." Second Helv. Conf. I. 7.

820  For a fuller exposition of Melanchthon’s Synergism see Herrlinger’s monograph; Frank, Theologie der Concordienformel; Dorner, Geschichte der Protest. Theologie, pp. 361-374, and his System der christl. Glaubenslehre, II. 706 sq. and 716 sq.; Schweizer, Centraldogmen, I. 380 sqq.; Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, I. 262 sq.; Loofs, Dogmengeschichte, pp. 403 sq. (2d ed.).

821  De Dono Persev., ch. XXXIII.

822  "Praedestinationem vocamus aeternum Dei decretum, quo apud se constitutum habuit, quid de unoquoque homine fieri vellet. Non enim pari conditione creantur omnes; sed aliis vita aeterna, aliis damnatio aeterna praeordinatur. Itaque, prout in alterutrum finem quisque conditus est, ita vel ad vitam, vel ad mortem praedestinatum dicimus." Inst. III. ch. XXI. § 5 (Opera, vol. II. pp. 682, 683).

823  Ibid. III. ch. XXI. § 7.

824  "Summa justitiae regula est Dei voluntas."

825  Inst. III. ch. XXII. § 1.

826  Ibid. III. ch. XXII. II. Calvin’s definition of divine justice is contrary to the general conception of human justice, which must be a reflection of divine justice.

827  Ibid. III. ch. XXIII. § 1. The scholastic Calvinists distinguished in reprobation a negative element, namely, praeteritio or indebitae gratiae negatio, and a positive element of predamnation, praedamnatio or debitae poenae destinatio. See the definitions of Wolleb, Keckermann, Heidegger, etc., in Heppe’s Dogmatik der evang. reform. Kirche (1861), p. 132. The Westminster Confession (ch. III. 7) uses the term "passing by," which is equivalent to preterition or omission; the Gallican Conf. (ch. XII.) and the Belgic Conf. (ch. XVI.) use the milder term laisser, relinquere, to leave, namely, in the natural state of condemnation and ruin. Shedd (Syst. Theol. I. 433) says: "Reprobation comprises preterition and condemnation or damnation," and he makes these distinctions: 1) Preterition is a sovereign act; condemnation is a judicial act. 2) The reason of preterition is unknown; the reason of damnation is sin. 3) In preterition God’s action is permissive (inaction rather than action); in condemnation, God’s action is efficient and positive. His proof text is Luke 17:34: "The one shall be taken, and the other shall be left."

828  This is the order given in the Formula Consensus Helvetica, canon IV. (in Niemeyer, p. 731): "Ita Deus gloriam suam illustrare constituit, ut decreverit, primo quidem hominem integrum creare, tum ejusdem lapsum permittere, ac demum ex lapsis quorundam misereri, adeoque eosdem eligere, alios vero in corrupta massa relinquere, aeternoque tandem exitio devovere." This does not go beyond the limits of Augustinianism. Van Oosterzee errs when he says (Christian Dogmatics, vol. I. p. 452) that the Form. Cons. Helv. asserts the supralapsarian view.

829  On the distinction, see Beza, Summa totius Christianismi (Opera, I. 170); Limborch, Theol. Christ. IV. 2; Heppe, Dogmatik der evang. reform. Kirche, pp. 108 sqq., and the curious order of Beza there printed, as if the order of the divine counsels were a mathematical problem. The infralapsarian view is milder and passed into most of the Calvinistic Confessions. The Westminster Confession is a compromise between the two schools, and puts the fall of Adam under a permissive decree (ch. V. 4), and yet not under a bare permission, but including it in the purpose of God, who ordered it for his own glory (VI. 1).

830  Inst. III. XXIII. 7 and 8. The passage quoted from Augustin is De Gen. ad lit., l. VI. c. 15. In Inst. III. ch. XXIV. 12, Calvin uses strong supralapsarian language: "Those whom God has created to a life of shame and death (quos in vitae contumeliam et mortis exitium creavit), that they might be instruments of his wrath, and examples of his severity, he causes to reach their appointed end; sometimes depriving them of the opportunity of hearing the Word, sometimes by the preaching of it increasing their blindness and stupidity." Then he illustrates this by examples, especially that of Pharaoh, and the aim of the parables of Christ (Matt. 13:11; John 12:39, 40). In the Consensus Genevensis (Niemeyer, p. 251), he says that the fall was ordained by the admirable counsel of God (admirabili Dei consilio fuisse ordinatum). Beza understood Calvin correctly.

831  He gives his view of the primitive state in Inst. I. ch. XV. § 8: "God has furnished the soul of man with a mind capable of discerning good from evil, and just from unjust; and of discovering, by the light of reason, what ought to be pursued or avoided: whence the philosophers called this directing faculty to; hJgemonikovn, the principal or governing part. To this he hath annexed the will, on which depends the choice. The primitive condition of man was ennobled with those eminent faculties; he possessed reason, understanding, prudence, and judgment, not only for the government of his life on earth, but to enable him to ascend even to God and eternal felicity. To these were added choice, to direct the appetites, and regulate all the organic motions, so that the will was entirely conformed to the government of reason. In this integrity man was endued with free will, by which, if he had chosen, he might have obtained eternal life. For here it would be unreasonable to introduce the question respecting the secret predestination of God, because we are not discussing what might possibly have happened or not, but what was the real nature of man. Adam, therefore, could have stood if he would, since he fell merely by his own will; but because his will was flexible to either side, and he was not endued with constancy to persevere, therefore he so easily fell. Yet his choice of good and evil was free; and not only so, but his mind and will were possessed of consummate rectitude, and all his organic parts were rightly disposed to obedience, till destroying himself he corrupted all his excellencies."

832  "Lapsus est enim primus homo, quia Dominus ita expedire censuerat; cur censuerit, nos latet. Certum tamen est non aliter censuisse, nisi quia videbat, nominis sui gloriam inde merito illustrari. Unde mentionem gloriae Dei audis, illic justitiam cogita. Justum enim esse oportet quod laudem meretur. Cadit igitur homo, Dei providentia sic ordinante, sed suo vitio cadit …. Propria ergo malitia, quam acceperat a Domino puam naturam corrupit; sua ruina totam posteritatem in exitium secum attraxit." Inst. III. ch. XXIII. § 8 (vol. II. p. 705). In his reply to Castellio Opera, IX. 294) he says: Praevidit Deus lapsum Adae: penes ipsum facultas erat prohibendi: noluit. Cur noluerit, alia non potest afferri ratio nisi quia alio tendebat ejus voluntas."

833  Comp. here the powerful sections against the abuse of the doctrine of election, in III. ch. XXIII. 12 sqq.

834  See the passages in vol. III. 835 sq. Augustin was called durus infantum pater. But his view was only the logical inference from the doctrine of the necessity of baptism for salvation, which was taught long before him on the ground of John 3:8 and Mark 16:16. Even Pelagius excluded unbaptized infants from the kingdom of heaven, though not from eternal life. He assigned them to a middle state of half-blessedness.

835  Inferno, IV. 28, duol senza martiri, i.e. mental, not physical pain.

836  "Aqua nihil aliud est quam interior Spiritus Sancti purgatio et vegetatio." Com. in loco. He takes kai; epexegetically and lays the stress on pneu'ma, which alone is mentioned in the following verses, 6 and 8. Similarly Grotius: "Spiritus aquaeus, i.e. aquae instar emundans." But the natural reference is to baptismal water, as the symbol of purification and remission of sins. Comp. John 1:33; Tit. 3:5; Eph. 5:26. The different interpretations are discussed at length in Schaff’s ed. of Lange’s Comm. on John pp. 126 ff.

837  Inst. Bk. IV. ch. XVI. 17: "Infantes, qui servandi sint—ut certe ex ea aetate omnino aliqui servantur—antea a Domino regenerari minime obscurum est." This was the doctrine of the Westminster divines, and is expressed in the Westminster Confession, ch. X. 3: "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth." Although this passage admits of a liberal construction, yet the natural sense, as interpreted by the private opinions of the framers of the Confession, makes it almost certain that the existence and damnation of non-elect infants is implied. The Presbyterian Revisionists, therefore, wishing to avoid this logical implication, propose to strike out elect, or to substitute all for it (as the Cumberland Presbyterians have done in their Confession). The change will be acted upon by the General Assembly in May, 1892.

838  "De piorum liberis loquor, ad quos promissio gratiae dirigitur; nam alii a communi sorte nequaquam eximuntur."

839  "Tot gentes una cum liberis eorum infantibus." Inst. III. ch. XXIII. § 7. To this should be added the challenge to Castellio: "Put forth now thy virulence against God, who hurls innocent babes even from their mothers’ breast into eternal death." Calvin here argues e concessis. The passage has been often distorted. We give it in Latin with the connection (Opera, IX. 289): "Negas Deo licere nisi propter facinus damnare quenquam mortalium. Tolluntur e vita innumeri adhuc infantes. Exsere nunc tuam virulentiam contra Deum, qui innoxios foetus a matrum uberibus avulsos in aeternam mortem praecipitat. Hanc blasphemiam, ubi palam detecta est, quisquis non detestabitur, mihi pro sua libidine maledicat." In the same way he challenges Castellio (fol. 289), to explain the admitted fact, that God allows innocent infants to be devoured by tigers or lions or bears or wolves ("qui fit ut Deus parvulos infantes a tigribus vel ursis vel leonibus vel lupis laniari vorarique sineat"). The attempt of Dr. Shields of Princeton to prove that Calvin believed in the salvation of all infants, is an entire failure ("The Presbyt. and Ref. Review " for October, 1890).

840  "Decretum quidem horribile fateor." This famous expression is often ignorantly applied to the whole doctrine of predestination, while Calvin only uses it of the decree of reprobation. The decree of election is glorious and most comforting. There is no need, therefore, of moderating the term horribile, which means horrible, terrible., dreadful. In French he calls it "ce décret qui nous doit espouvanter," a decree which should terrify us. Hase (Kirchengeschichte, III. I. 196) says: "Calvin ist ein dogmatischer Dante: dieselbe grauenvolle Lust, die Majestaet Gottes auch in der Hoelle anzuerkennen und zu preisen, diese grauenvolle Macht, welche fuehlende Wesen geschaffen hat zu ewiger Qual."

841  "They condemn the Anabaptists, who disapprove the baptism of children, and affirm that children are saved without baptism." The edition of 1540 adds after "baptism" "et extra ecclesiam Christi," which must refer to heathen infants. The German text omits the clause and condemns the Anabaptists simply for rejecting infant baptism. This shows that Melanchthon was in doubt on the subject of infant damnation.

842  "Abhorremus et detestamur ... crudele judicium contra infantes sine baptismo morientes."

843  Among English Calvinists, who teach universal infant salvation, are Doddridge, Thomas Scott, John Newton, Toplady, Robert S. Candlish; among American Calvinists, Drs. Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield, of Princeton, and Drs. H. B. Smith, G. L. Prentiss, and Shedd, of Union Seminary, New York. Comp. on this subject Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, I. 378, 381, 794, 898; Dr. Prentiss, who brings out the theological bearings, in the "Presbyterian Review" for 1883; Benjamin B. Warfield, The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation, New York (Christ. Lit. Co.), 1891, pp. 61; also Chas. P. Krauth (Lutheran), Infant Baptism and Infant Salvation, Philadelphia (Lutheran Book Store), 1874, pp. 83.

844  See above, pp. 95 sqq.

845  The Consensus Genevensis was occasioned by the controversy with Pighius and Bolsec, but received no authority outside of Geneva. The attempt to enlist Zuerich, Bern, and Basel in favor of this dogma created disturbance and opposition. See Schaff, Creeds, etc., I. 474 sqq.

846  The Second Helvetic Confession (chs. VIII. and IX.) uses the term reprobate (ajdovkimo", reprobus), but says nothing of a decree of reprobation. Reprobate is descriptive of moral character, and means not approved, unfit, Rom. 1:28; 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Cor. 13:5-7; 2 Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:16. The plural reprobates is an inaccurate rendering of the A. V. in 2 Cor. 13:6, 7, and 2 Tim. 3:8, and suggests the idea of a class of persons. The R. V. correctly has reprobate, since the Greek word is an adjective, not a noun.

847  This is a specimen:—

"O Horrible Decree,

 Worthy of whence it came!

 Forgive the ir hellish blasphemy,

 Who charge it on the Lamb!"

848  Paradiso, XX. 130-138:—

"O predestinazion, quanto rimota

 Èla radice tua da quegli aspetti

 Che la prima cagion non veggion tota !

"E voi, mortali, tenetevi stretti

 A giudicar; chènoi, che Dio vedemo,

 Non conosciamo ancor tutti gli eletti :

"Ed ènne dolce cosìfatto scemo,

 Perchèit ben nostro in questo ben s’affina,

 Che quel che vuole Dio, e noi volemo."

849  Com. on Rom. 9:14: "Est praedestinatio Dei vere labyrinthus, unde hominis ingenium nullo modo se explicare queat."

850  The last passage is often quoted for a decree of reprobation; but the verb progegrammevnoi is wrongly translated "ordained" in the E. V. Progravfw means to write before, and refers to previous writings, namely, the Scriptures of the O. T. Calvin correctly translates "praescripti in hoc judicium," but refers it, metaphorically, to the book of the divine counsel: "aeternum Dei consilium liber vocatur."

851  This is implied in the passage, Heb. 12:17, whether we refer metavnoia to Esau’s late repentance (Calvin, Bleek), or to a change of mind in Isaac (Beza, Weiss).

852  Inst. III. ch. XXII. 1. In his Com. on Rom. 9:22, 23, he ignores this distinction and explains kathrtismevna, "given up and appointed to destruction, made and formed for this end" (devota et destinata exitio: sunt enim vasa irae, id est in hoc facta et formata, ut documenta sint vindictae et furoris Dei). This is the extreme supralapsarian exposition. But other Reformed exegetes fully acknowledge the difference of phraseology. It was pressed by those members of the Westminster Assembly who sympathized with the hypothetical universalism of the Saumur school of Cameron and Amyrauld. "The non-elect," said Dr. Arrowsmith, "are said to be fitted to that destruction which their sins bring upon them, but not by God." See Mitchell, Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, pp. 152 sqq.; Schaff, Creeds, I. 770 sq.

853  "Das ganze Summarium und der herrliche Schlussstein des ganzen bisherigen Brieftheils." Weiss in the 6th ed. of Meyer on Romans (p. 555). Godet: C’est ici comme le point final apposéàtout ce qui précede; ce dernier mot rend compte de tout le plan de Dieu, dont les phases principales viennent d’être esquissées." The i{na touv" pavnta" (Jews and Gentiles) teaches not, indeed, the forced acceptance of mercy by all, but, at all events, the universality of the divine purpose and intention. Meyer sees in this passage a conclusive exegetical argument against a decretum reprobationis.

854  Unfortunately the A. V. obliterates the force of the parallel in the fifth chapter of Romans by neglecting the definite article before polloiv. "The many" of the original is opposed to "the one," and is equivalent to "all;" while "many" would be opposed to "few." The Revised Version of 1881 corrects these mistakes.

855  Calvin explains "all men" to mean men of all classes and conditions ("de hominum generibus, non singulis personis"). See his Comm. on 1 Tim. 2:4, and his sermon on the passage. But the Apostle emphasizes "all men" with reference to prayer "for all men," which he commands in 2:1, and which cannot be limited.

856  Calvin arbitrarily explains this passage of the "voluntas Dei quae nobis in evangelio patefit," but not "de arcano Dei consilio quo destinati sunt reprobi in suum exitium."

857  Calvin understands "totus mundus" in this passage to mean "tota ecclesia!" This is as impossible as the confinement of "the world," John 3:16, to "the elect." He mentions, however, also a better explanation, that Christ died "sufficienter pro toto mundo, sed pro electis tantum efficaciter."

858  Various terms for the distinction: voluntas revelata and voluntas arcana; voluntas signi and voluntas beneplaciti (eujdokiva"); voluntas universalis and voluntas specialis: verbum externum et verbum internum. The oft-quoted proof text, Deut. 29:29, teaches a distinction, but not a contradiction, between the secret things and the revealed things of God.

859  Calvin confines himself (IV. ch. XIV. § 22) to the genuine words of the three witnesses in this passage, and justly ignores the interpolation of the textus receptus, which is omitted in the Revised Version.

860  These passages (IV. ch. XV. §§ 16 and 17) furnish arguments against the decision of the Old-School-Presbyterian General Assembly held at Cincinnati, 1845, which, with an overwhelming majority, declared Roman Catholic baptism to be invalid, and thus virtually unchurched and unbaptized the greater part of Christendom, including the founders of the Protestant churches, who were baptized in the Roman communion, as the apostles were circumcised in the synagogue. But Drs. Charles Hodge of Princeton and Henry B. Smith of New York—the two leading Presbyterian divines of that day—vigorously protested against that anomalous decision; and when, in the United Assembly, held likewise at Cincinnati, in the year 1885, an attempt was made to re-enact that decision, it failed by a very large majority. Calvin did not unchurch the Church of Rome. "While we refuse," he says (Inst. IV. ch. II. § 12), "to allow to the papists the [exclusive] title of the Church, without any qualification or restriction, we do not deny that there are churches among them … . I affirm that there are churches, in as much as God has wonderfully preserved among them a remnant of his people, and as there still remain some marks of the Church, especially those, the efficacy of which neither the craft of the devil, nor the malice of men can ever destroy."

861  IV. ch. XV. 19: "Caeterum mergaturne totus qui tingitur, idque ter an semel, an infusa tantum aqua aspergatur, minimum refert: sed id pro regionum diversitate ecclesiis liberum esse debet. Quanquam et ipsum baptizandiverbum mergeresignificat, et mergendi ritum veteri ecclesiae observatum fuisse constat." See above, p. 373, note. Luther held substantially the same view, with a stronger leaning to immersion or dipping, which he prescribes in his Taufbuechlein, 1523. See vol. VI. 218 and 607 sq.

862  Ch. XVI. 1-32.

863  Ch. XVIII. See vol. VI. 720.

864  See vol. VI. 660. But Luther never gave up his dislike of Zwingli; and in one of his last letters, in which he describes himself as "infelicissimus omnium hominum," he wrote: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the Sacramentarians, nor standeth in the way of the Zwinglians, nor sitteth in the seat of the Zuerichers." De Wette, V. 778.

865  Inst. IV. ch. XVII. 7.

866  He wrote from Strassburg, May 19, 1539, to André Zébédée, a minister at Orbe: "Nihil fuisse asperitatis in Zwinglii doctrina, tibi minime concedo. Siquidem videre promptum est, ut nimium occupatus in evertenda carnalis praesentiae superstitione, veram communicationis vim ut simul disjecerit, aut certe obscurarit." Herminjard, V. 318. In the same letter he characterizes Zwingli’s view as falsa et perniciosa. In a letter to Farel, Feb. 27, 1540, he disapproves Zébédée’s extravagant eulogy of Zwingli, and expresses his preference for Luther: "Nam si inter se comparantur, scis ipse, quanto intervallo Lutherus excellat." But he disowns any intention to dishonor his memory. Herminjard, V. 191. In a letter to Richard du Bois, from Strassburg, 1540 (ibid. VI. 425), he says, with evident allusion to Zwingli and Oecolampadius, that be never liked the view of those who in "evertenda localis praesentiae superstitione nimis occupati, verae praesentiae virtutem vel elevabant extenuando, vel subticendo ex hominum memoria quodammodo delebant. Sed est aliquid medium," etc. In a letter to Viret (Sept. 3, 1542, in Opera, XI. 438) he remarks that he never read all of Zwingli’s works, and hoped that towards the end of his life he retracted and corrected what first had escaped him carelessly, but "I remember, in his earlier writings how profane his doctrine of the sacraments is (quam profana sit ejus de sacramentis doctrina)."

867  See the passages quoted in vol. VI. 679, note 1.

868  The ejpivklhsi" pneuvmato" aJgivou. The Latin liturgies ascribe the power of consecration to Christ’s words of institution. See vol. III. 513.

869  See vol. IV. 549) sqq. and 564 sqq. Calvin refers to the Berengar controversy.

870  See his letter to Bullinger, quoted in vol. VI. 661.

871  Questions 76, 78, 79. Comp. Westminster Confession, ch. XXIX. 7, and Westminster Larger Catechism, qu. 170.