Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (Battles Edition) Vol. II


Puritan Board Graduate
Chapter XX: 2. The necessity of prayer, pg. 851:
It is, therefore, by the benefit of prayer that we reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father. For there is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, they appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not vain, although he had promised it in word alone. Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers. So true is it that we dig up by prayer the treasures that were pointed out by the Lord’s gospel, and which our faith has gazed upon. Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable. Surely, with good reason, the heavenly father affirms, that the only strong hold of safety isn’t calling upon his name. Words fail to explain how necessary prayer is, and in how many ways the exercise of prayer is profitable. Surely, with good reason the Heavenly Father affirms that the only stronghold of safety is in calling upon his name [cf. Joel 2:32].
Chapter XX: 17. Prayer in the name of Jesus, pg. 874 - 875:
For a soon as God’s dread majesty comes to mind, we cannot but tremble and be driven far away by the recognition of our own unworthiness, until Christ comes forward as intermediary, to change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace. As the apostle also teaches how we should dare with all confidence to appear, to receive mercy, and to find grace in timely help [Heb. 4:16]. And as a rule has been established to call upon God, and a promise given that those who call upon him shall be heard, so too we are particularly bidden to call upon him in Christ’s name; and we have the promise made that we shall obtain what we asked in his name. “Hitherto,” he says, “you have asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive.” [John 16:24, Comm.] “In that day you will ask in my name” [John 16:26, Vg.], and “whatever you ask . . . I will do it that the Father may be glorified in the Son” [John 14:13, cf. Comm. and Vg.].
Chapter XX: 42. The second petition, pg. 905:
Therefore God sets up his Kingdom by humbling the whole world, but in different ways. For he tames the wantonness of some, breaks the untamable pride of others. We must daily desire that God gather churches unto himself from all parts of the earth; that he spread and increase them in number; that he adorn them with gifts; that he establish a lawful order among them; on the other hand, that he cast down all enemies of pure teaching and religion; that he scatter their councils and crush their efforts.
Chapter XXI: 5. Predestination and foreknowledge of God; the election of Israel, pg. 926:
When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things always were, and perpetually remain, under his eyes, so that to his knowledge there is nothing future or past, but all things are present. And they are present in such a way that he not only conceives them through ideas, as we have before us those things which our minds remember, but he truly looks upon them and discerns them as things placed before him. And this foreknowledge is extended throughout the universe to every creature. We call predestination God’s eternal decree, by which he compacted with himself what he willed to become of each man. For all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death.
Chapter XXI: 7. The election of individuals as actual election, pg. 930:
Summary survey of the doctrine of election

As Scripture, then, clearly shows, we say that God once established by his eternal and unchangeable plan those whom he long before determined once for all to receive into salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, he would devote to destruction. We assert that, with respect to the elect, this plan was founded upon his freely given mercy, without regard to human worth; but by his just and irreprehensible but incomprehensible judgment he has barred the door of life to those whom he has given over to damnation.
Chapter XXIII: 5. God’s hidden decreee is not to be searched out but obediently marveled at, pg. 952-953:
With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has so willed it. But why he so willed, it is not for our reason to inquire, for we cannot comprehend it. And it is not fitting that God’s will should be dragged down into controversy among us, for when ever mention is made of it, under its name is designated the supreme rule of righteousness. Why raise any question of unrighteousness where righteousness clearly appears? And let us not be ashamed, following Paul’s example, to stop the mouths of the wicked, and whenever they dare to rail, repeat the same thing: “Who are you, miserable men, to make accusation against God?” [Rom. 9:20 p.]. Why do you, then, accuse him because he does not temper the greatness of his works to your ignorance? As if these things were wicked because they are hidden from flesh! It is known to you by clear evidence that the judgments of God are beyond measure. You know that they are called a ”great deep” [Ps. 36:6].
Chapter XXV: 1. Importance of and hinderances to the resurrection hope, pg. 988
When, therefore, with our eyes fast fixed on Christ we wait upon heaven, and nothing on earth hinders them from bearing us to the promised blessedness, the statement is truly fulfilled “that where our treasure is, our heart is” [Matt. 6:21]. Hence arises the fact that faith is so rare in this world: nothing is harder for our slowness than to climb over innumerable obstacles in “pressing on toward the goal of the upper call” [Phil. 3:14]. To the huge mass of miseries that almost overwhelms us are added the jests of profane man, which assail our innocence when we, willingly renouncing the allurements of present benefits, seem to strive after a blessedness hidden from us as if it were a fleeting shadow. Finally, above and below us, before us and behind, violent temptations besiege us, which our minds would be quite unable to sustain, were they not freed of earthly things and bound to the heavenly life, which appears to be far away. Accordingly, he alone has fully profited in the gospel who has accustomed himself to continual meditation upon the blessed resurrection.
Chapter XXV: 10. Everlasting blessedness, pg. 1005:
We should regard as above all controversy the teaching of Scripture that, just as God, variously distributing his gifts to the saints in this world, beams upon them unequally, so there will not be an equal measure of glory, in heaven, where God shall crown his own gifts.
11. Disposing of superfluous question, pg. 1006:
But as all the pious will accept this with one accord, because it is sufficiently attested by the Word of God, so on the other hand, bidding farewell to thorny questions which they know to be a hindrance, they will not transgress the limits set. As far as I am concerned, I’m not only refrain personally from superfluous investigation of useless matters, but I also think that I ought to guard against contributing to the levity of others by answering them. Men hungry for empty learning inquire how great the difference will be between prophets and apostles, and again, between apostles and martyrs; by how many degrees virgins will differ from married women. In short, they leave no corner of heaven exempt from their search.
A little longer quote but a solid reminder of the glory we behold in faithful preaching during gathered public worship.

Book Four
Chapter I: 5. Education through the church, its value and its obligation, pg. 1018-1019:

Those who think the authority of the Word is dragged down by the baseness of the men called to teach it disclose their own ungratefulness. For, among the many excellent gifts with which God has adorned the human race, it is a singular privilege that he designs to consecrate to himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that his voice may resound in them. Let us accordingly not in turn dislike to embrace obediently the doctrine of salvation put forth by his command and by his own mouth. For, although God’s power is not bound to outward means, he has nonetheless bound us to this ordinary manner of teaching. Fanatical men, refusing to hold fast to it, entangle themselves in many deadly snares. Many are lead either by pride, dislike, or rivalry to the conviction that they can profit enough from private reading and meditation; hence they despise public assemblies and deem preaching superfluous. But, since they do their utmost to sever or break the sacred bond of unity, no one escapes the just penalty of this unholy separation without bewitching himself with pestilent errors and foulest delusions. In order, then, that pure simplicity of faith may flourish among us, let us not be reluctant to use this exercise of religion which God, by ordaining it, has shown us to be necessary and highly approved. No one–not even a fanatical beast–ever existed who would tell us to close our ears to God. But in every age the prophets and godly teachers have had a difficult struggle with the ungodly, who in their stubbornness can never submit to the yoke of being taught by human word and ministry. This is like blotting out the face of God which shines upon us in teaching. Believers were bidden of old to seek the face of God in the sanctuary [Ps. 105:4], as is oftentimes repeated in the law [Ps. 27:8; 100:2; 105:4; I Chron. 16:11; II Chron. 7:14] for no other reason than that for them the teaching of law and the exhortations of the prophets were a living image of God, just as Paul asserts that in his preaching the glory of God shines in the face of Christ [II Cor. 4:6].
Regarding those prone to schism.

Book Four
Chapter I: 18. The example of the prophets, pg. 1032-1033:

Isaiah does not hesitate to liken Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah [Isa. 1:10]. Religion was in part despised, in part besmirched. In morals one frequently notes theft, robbery, treachery, slaughter, and like evil deeds. Still the prophets did not because of this establish new churches for themselves, or erect new alters on which to perform separate sacrifices. But whatever men were like, because the prophets considered that the Lord had set his word among them and had instituted rites wherewith he was worshiped there, they stretched out clean hands to him in the midst of the assembly of the wicked. Surely, if they had thought they would become contaminated with these rites, they would have died a hundred times rather than allow themselves to be dragged thither. Nothing, consequently, kept them from creating a schism save their zeal to maintain unity. But if the holy prophets had scruples against separating themselves from the church because of many great misdeeds, not of one man or another but of almost all the people, we claim too much for ourselves if we dare withdraw at once from the communion of the church just because the morals of all do not meet our standards or even square with the profession of Christian faith.
The Question of Rome being a true church.

Book Four
Chapter II: 12. The sound elements do not make the corrupted church a true church, pg. 1052-1053:

Daniel [Dan. 9:27] and Paul [II Thess. 2:4] foretold that Antichrist would sit in the Temple of God. With us, it is the Roman pontiff we make the leader and standard bearer of that wicked and abominable kingdom. The fact that his seat is placed in the Temple of God signifies that his reign was not to be such as to wipe out either the name of Christ or of the church. From this it therefore is evident that we by no means deny that the churches under his tyranny remain churches. But these he has profaned by his sacrilegious impiety, afflicted by his inhuman domination, corrupted and well-nigh killed by his evil and deadly doctrines, which are like poisoned drinks. In them Christ lies hidden, half buried, the gospel overthrown, piety scattered, the worship of God nearly wiped out. In them, briefly, everything is so confused that there we see the face of Babylon rather than that of the Holy City of God. To sum up, I call them churches to the extent that the Lord wonderfully preserves in them a remnant of his people, however woefully dispersed and scattered, and to the extent that some marks of the church remain-especially those marks whose effectiveness neither the devil‘s wiles nor human depravity can destroy. But on the other hand, because in them those marks have been erased to which we should pay particular regard in this discourse, I say that every one of their congregations and their whole body lack the lawful form of the church.
Book Four
Chapter IV: 7. Fourfold division of revenues*, pg. 1075:

And Gregory speaks even more clearly: “It is the custom of the apostolic see to command the bishop, once ordained, to divide into four portions all the revenue that comes in: that is, one for the bishop and his household, for hospitality and maintenance; another for the clergy; a third for the poor; and a fourth for the repair of churches.” Therefore, the bishop was not allowed to take anything for his own use, except what was sufficient for moderate and frugal food and clothing. If anyone began to go to excess, either in luxury, or ostentation and pomp, he was reprimanded at once by his colleagues; if he did not obey, he was deprived of his office.
Book Four
Chapter V: 17. False and true splendor of the church, pg. 1099-1100:

Whatever anywhere is precious, lofty, or noble must be subjected to the Lord. But what is said expressly of kings—that they shall submit their scepters to Christ, shall cast their crowns at his feet, shall consecrate their resources to the church—will they say that this was more truly and fully realized at any other time than when Theodosius, having cast away his purple robe and laid down the insignia of rule, like any one of the common folk, submitted himself before God and the church to solemn penance? Than when he and other godly princes like him dedicated their endeavors and their care to keep pure doctrine in the church and to foster and protect sound teachers? But how priests at that time did not abound in superfluous possessions is sufficiently declared by that one statement of the Synod of Aquileia, presided over by Ambrose: “Glorious is poverty in the priests of the Lord.” Surely the bishops then had some riches, with which they could have rendered conspicuous honor to the church, if they had thought these the true ornaments of the church. But since they knew nothing to be more contrary to the pastoral office than to glow with pride in the delicacies of the table, splendor of apparel, a great retinue of servants and magnificent palaces, they followed and cultivated humility and modesty, indeed that very poverty which Christ consecrated among his ministers.
Book Four
Chapter VII: 4. Gregory I refused the title “Universal Bishop”, pg. 1122:

Not until the time of Gregory did contention arise over the title of “universal bishop”: the ambition of John of Constantinople furnished the occasion for the quarrel. For he wished to make himself universal-something no one else had ever tried before. In that quarrel Gregory does not take the ground that the right which belonged to him was taken away, but stoutly protests that the appellation is profane, in fact, sacrilegious, the very precursor of Antichrist. “The whole church falls from its condition,” he says, “if anyone who is called ‘universal’ falls.” Elsewhere: “For our brother and fellow bishop to take the name of sole bishop, despising all others, is a very sad thing to bear patiently. But what else does this pride of his signify except that the times of Antichrist are already near at hand? For he is obviously imitating him who, spurning fellowship with the angels, tried to climb to the pinnacle of uniqueness!”
Book Four
Chapter VII: 4. The kingdom of Antichrist, pg. 1144-1145:

To some we seem slanderers and railers when we call the Roman pontiff “Antichrist.” But those who think so do not realize they are accusing Paul of intemperate language, after whom we speak, indeed, so speak from his very lips. And lest anyone object that we wickedly twist Paul’s words (which apply to another) against the Roman pontiff, I shall briefly show that these cannot be understood otherwise than of the papacy. Paul writes that Antichrist will sit in God’s temple [II Thess. 2:4]. In another place, also, the spirit, describing his image in the person of Antiochus, shows that his kingdom will consist in boasting and blasphemy of God [Dan. 7:25; Rev. 3:10; 13:5]. Hence, we infer that this is a tyranny more over souls than over bodies, which is raised up against the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Secondly, that this tyranny is such as does not wipe out either the name of Christ or of the church but rather misuses a semblance of Christ and lurks under the name of the church as under a mask. All the heresies and sects which have been from the beginning belong to the kingdom of Antichrist. Nevertheless, when Paul for tales of falling away, that is to Nevertheless, when Paul foretells a falling away that is to come [II Thess. 2:3] by this description, he means that that seat of abomination will be raised up when a universal apostasy seizes the church, even though many scattered members of the church persevere in the true unity of faith.
Book Four
Chapter VIII: 5. Unity and multiplicity of revelation*, pg. 1152-1153:

First, if what Christ says is true-“No one sees the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” [Matt. 11:27]—surely they who would attain the knowledge of God should always be directed by that eternal Wisdom. For how could they either have comprehended God’s mysteries with the mind, or have uttered them, except by the teaching of him to whom alone the secrets of the Father are revealed? Therefore, holy men of old knew God only by beholding him in his Son as in a mirror (cf. II Cor. 3:18). When I say this, I mean that God has never manifested himself to men in any other way than through the Son, that is, his sole wisdom, light, and truth. From this fountain Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others drank all that they had of heavenly teaching. From the same fountain, all the prophets have also drawn every heavenly oracle that they have given forth.
Book Four
Chapter X: 3. Nature of conscience, pg. 1181-1182:

This question embarrasses most men because they do not distinguish subtly enough between the outward forum (as they call it) and the forum of conscience. The difficulty is increased, besides, by the fact that Paul teaches us to obey the magistrate, not only because of fear of punishment, but because of conscience [Rom. 13:1 ff.]. From this it follows that consciences are also bound by civil laws. But if this were so, all that we said in the previous chapter and what I am now going to say about spiritual government would fall.
To solve this difficulty, it first behooves us to grasp what conscience is. We must take our definition from the etymology of the word. When men grasp the conception of things with the mind and the understanding they are said “to know,” from which the word “knowledge“ is derived. In like manner, when men have an awareness of divine judgment adjoined to them as a witness which does not let them hide their sins but arraigns them as guilty before the judgment seat–this awareness is called “conscience.” It is a certain mean between God and man, for it does not allow men to suppress within himself what he knows, but pursues him to the point of making him acknowledge his guilt. This is what Paul means when he teaches that conscience testifies to men, while their thoughts accuse or excuse them in God’s judgment [Rom. 2:15-16].
Book Four
Chapter X: 24. Perverse worship an abomination to God*, pg. 1203:

Many marvel why the Lord so sharply threatens to astound the people who worshiped him with the commands of men [Isa. 29:13-14] and declares that he is vainly worshiped by the precepts of men [Matt. 15:9]. But if they were to weigh what it is to depend upon God‘s bidding alone in matters of religion (that is, on account of heavenly wisdom), they would at the same time see that the Lord has strong reasons to abominate such perverse rites, which are performed for him according to the willfulness of human nature. For even though those who obey such laws in the worship of God have some semblance of humility in this obedience of theirs, they are nevertheless not at all humble in God’s sight, since they prescribe for him these same laws which they observe.
It is certainly true that our own and all men’s wisdom must become foolish, that we may allow him alone to be wise. Those who expect his approval for their paltry observances contrived by men’s will, and offer to him, as if involuntarily, a sham obedience which is paid actually to men, do not hold to that path. So it has been done for some centuries past, and within our memory, and is done today also in those places in which the authority of the creature is more than that of the Creator [cf. Rom. 1:25]. Their religion (if it still deserves to be called religion) is defiled with more, and more senseless, superstitions than ever any paganism was. For what could men’s mind produce but all carnal and fatuous things which truly resemble their authors?
Book Four
Chapter X: 25. Refutation of Romanist counterevidence, pg. 1203 - 1204:

The supporters of superstitions also allege that Samuel sacrificed in Ramah, and that, although he did so apart from the law, yet the sacrifice please God [I Sam. 7:17]. The refutation of this argument is easy: it was not a second altar that he set against the sole altar, but, because the place of the Ark of the Covenant had not yet been determined, the town where he was living was designated as most convenient. Surely the purpose of the holy prophet was not to make any innovation in sacred rites, when God had so strictly forbidden anything to be added or taken away [Deut. 4:2]. As for the example of Manoah, I say that it was extraordinary and singular [Judg. 13:19]. He offered sacrifice to God as a private individual, not without God‘s approval, that is, because he undertook it not out of a rash impulse of his own mind but by heavenly inspiration. But Gideon, a man not inferior to Manoah, provides a notable proof of how much God hates what mortals think up out of themselves to worship him. For Gideon’s ephod brought ruin not only upon himself and his family, but upon all the people [Judg. 8.;27]. In short, every chance invention, by which men seek to worship God, is nothing but a pollution of true holiness.
Book Four
Chapter X: 30. Bondage and freedom of church constitutions, pg. 1208:

By this one example we may judge what opinion we should have of this whole class. I mean that the Lord has in his sacred oracles faithfully embraced and clearly expressed both the whole sum of true righteousness, and all aspects of the worship of his majesty, and whatever was necessary to salvation; therefore, in these the Master alone is to be heard. But because he did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies to prescribe in detail what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages), here we must take refuge in those general rules which he has given, that whatever the necessity of the church will require for order and decorum should be tested against these. Lastly, because he has taught nothing specifically, and because these things are not necessary to salvation, and for the upbuilding of the church ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age, it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones. Indeed, I admit that we ought not to charge into innovation rashly, suddenly, for insufficient cause. But love will best judge what may hurt or edify; and if we let love be our guide, all will be safe. 50

Footnote 50 (pg. 1208):
50 While Calvin warmly approves the kneeling posture in prayer, for reasons both of human tradition and of divine sanction, he finally leaves the choice of posture (with like matters) to the best interest of the church (ecclesiae utilitas) and the judgment of charity. A sensible freedom in such secondary matters is illustrated in the reference to women's headwear in church, in sec. 31, where the limiting factors mentioned are custom, humanity, and the rule of modesty. On this passage, F. Wendel observes that Calvin does not require "a servile imitation of the primitive church" (Wendel, Calvin, pp. 229 f.).
Last edited:
Book Four
Chapter XII: I. Necessity and nature of church discipline, pg. 1229-1230:

But because some persons, in their hatred of discipline, recoil from its very name, let them understand this: if no society, indeed, no house which has even a small family, can be kept in proper condition without discipline, it is much more necessary in the church, whose condition should be as ordered as possible.

Accordingly, as the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so does discipline serve as its sinews, through which the members of the body hold together, each in its own place. Therefore, all who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration-whether they do this deliberately or out of ignorance-are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church.
Book Four
Chapter XII: 5. The purpose of church discipline, pg. 1232-1233:

In such corrections and excommunication, the church has three ends in view. The first is that they who lead a filthy and infamous life may not be called Christians, to the dishonor of God, as if his holy church [cf. Eph. 5:25-26] were a conspiracy of wicked and abandoned men. For since the church itself is the body of Christ [Col. 1:24], it cannot be corrupted by such foul and decaying members without some disgrace falling upon its Head. Therefore, that there may be no such thing in the church to brand its most sacred name with disgrace, they from whose wickedness infamy redounds to the Christian name must be banished from its family. And here also we must preserve the order of the Lord's Supper, that it may not be profaned by being administered indiscriminately. For it is very true that he to whom its distribution has been committed, if he knowingly and willingly admits an unworthy person whom he could rightfully turn away, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord’s body to dogs.

Book Four
Chapter XII: 8. Severity and mildness in church discipline, pg. 1236:

But we ought not to pass over the fact that such severity as is joined with a "spirit of gentleness" [Gal. 6: 1] befits the church. For we must always, as Paul bids us, take particular care that he who is punished be not overwhelmed with sorrow [ll Cor. 2:7]. Thus a remedy would become destruction. But, from the purpose intended it would be better to take a rule of moderation. For, in excommunication the intent is to lead the sinner to repentance and to remove bad examples from the midst, lest either Christ's name be maligned or others be provoked to imitate them. If, then, we look to these things, it will be easy for us to judge how far severity ought to go and where it ought to stop. Therefore, when a sinner gives testimony of his repentance to the church, and by this testimony wipes out the offense as far as he can, he is not to be urged any further. If he is so urged, the rigor will now exceed due measure.

In this respect we cannot at all excuse the excessive severity of the ancients, which both completely departed from the Lord's injunction and was also terribly dangerous. For when they imposed solemn penance and deprivation from Holy Communion sometimes for seven, sometimes for four, sometimes for three, years, and sometimes for life, what could be the result but either great hypocrisy or utter despair? Likewise, it was not profitable or consonant with reason that one who had fallen again should not be admitted to a second repentance, but should be cast out of the church to the end of his life. Whoever will weigh the matter with sound judgment will recognize their lack of prudence in this.