Thursday, August 05, 2010

Calvin on Calvinism
Part Three of a little diet of sweet truth

Here's an extract from Calvin, commenting on Ephesians 1:4 and following.

According as he hath chosen us. The foundation and first cause, both of

our calling and of all the benefits which we receive from God, is here

declared to be his eternal election. If the reason is asked, why God has

called us to enjoy the gospel, why he daily bestows upon us so many

blessings, why he opens to us the gate of heaven, the answer will be

constantly found in this principle, that he hath chosen us before the

foundation of the world. The very time when the election took place

proves it to be free; for what could we have deserved, or what merit did we

possess, before the world was made? How childish is the attempt to meet

this argument by the following sophism! “We were chosen because we

were worthy, and because God foresaw that we would be worthy.” We

were all lost in Adam; and therefore, had not God, through his own

election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen. The

same argument is used in the Epistle to the Romans, where, speaking of

Jacob and Esau, he says,

For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good

or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand,

not of works, but of him that calleth.(Romans 9:11.)

But though they had not yet acted, might a sophist of the Sorbonne reply,

God foresaw that they would act. This objection has no force when

applied to the depraved natures of men, in whom nothing can be seen but

materials for destruction.

In Christ. This is the second proof that the election is free; for if we are

chosen in Christ, it is not of ourselves. It is not from a perception of

anything that we deserve, but because our heavenly Father has introduced

us, through the privilege of adoption, into the body of Christ. In short, the

name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of their

own; for when he says that we are chosen in Christ, it follows that in

ourselves we are unworthy.

That we should be holy. This is the immediate, but not the chief design; for

there is no absurdity in supposing that the same thing may gain two

objects. The design of building is, that there should be a house. This is the

immediate design, but the convenience of dwelling in it is the ultimate

design. It was necessary to mention this in passing; for we shall

immediately find that Paul mentions another design, the glory of God. But

there is no contradiction here; for the glory of God is the highest end, to

which our sanctification is subordinate.

This leads us to conclude, that holiness, purity, and every excellence that

is found among men, are the fruit of election; so that once more Paul

expressly puts aside every consideration of merit. If God had foreseen in

us anything worthy of election, it would have been stated in language the

very opposite of what is here employed, and which plainly means that all

our holiness and purity of life flow from the election of God. How comes

it then that some men are religious, and live in the fear of God, while others

give themselves up without reserve to all manner of wickedness? If Paul

may be believed, the only reason is, that the latter retain their natural

disposition, and the former have been chosen to holiness. The cause,

certainly, is not later than the effect. Election, therefore, does not depend

on the righteousness of works, of which Paul here declares that it is the cause.

No comments: