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From Calvin's Institution of the Christian Religion, in four Books, Quarto. Geneva, Aug. 1, 1559.
Extract from the 1st Section of the 22d Chapter of the 3d Book.
"All these things which we have set are "not without controversy among many, espe"cially the free election of the faithful, "which yet cannot be weakened; for the "common sort do think that God, as he "foreseeth what every man's deservings shall "be, so maketh difference between men, "that therefore whom he foreknoweth that "they shall be not unworthy of his grace, "them he adopteth into place of children; "and whose natures he espieth that they will "be bent to wickedness and ungodliness, "them he appointeth to the damnation of "death: so by cloking it with the veil of "foreknowledge, they do not only darken "election, but feign that it hath beginning "elsewhere. And this opinion received of "the common sort is not the opinion of the "common sort alone, for in all ages it hath "had great maintainers; which I do plainly '* confess, to the intent that no man should "trust that it shall much hurt our cause if "their names be objected against us; for "the truth of God herein is more certain "than that it may be shaken, more clear "than that it may be darkened with the ** authority of men. But some other, nei"ther exercised in the Scripture, nor wor'* thy of any voice, do rail at this doctrine "with greater maliciousness than that their "forward pride ought to be suffered; be"cause God, choosing some after his own "will, leaveth other some, they pick a quar"rel against him: but if the thing itself be "known for true, what shall they prevail "with brawling against God? We teach "nothing but that which is approved by "experience, that it was alway at liberty for "God to bestow his grace to whom he will. "I will not enquire whereby the posterity of "Abraham excelled other, but by that vouch"sating whereof there is found no cause "elsewhere than in God. Let them answer "why they be men rather than oxen or "asses. When it was in the hand of God "to make them dogs, he fashioned them "after his own image: will they give leave "to brute beasts to quarrel with God for "their estate, as though the difference were "unrighteous?"
Chapter 23. Sections 1. and 2.
"It is not meet to assign the preparing "unto destruction to any other thing than "to the secret counsel of God. These say"ings indeed should be sufficient for the "godly and sober, and them which remem"ber themselves to be men; but forasmuch "as these venomous dogs do cast up not "only one sort of venom against God, we "will as the matter shall serve answer to *' every one particularly. Foolish men do "divers ways quarrel with God, as though "they had him subject to their accusations: "first, therefore, they ask, by what right the "Lord is angry with his creatures, of whom '" he hath not been first provoked by any of"fence? for to condemn to destruction whom "he will, agreeth rather with the wilfulness "of a tyrant, than the lawful sentence of "a judge; therefore they say, that there is "cause why men should charge God, if by "his bare will, without their own deserving, "they be predestinate to eternal death. If "such thoughts do at any time come into the' "minds of the godly to break their violent "assaults, they shall be sufficiently armed "with this, although they had no more, if "they consider how great wickedness it is
"even so much as to enquire of the causes "of the will of God, since of all things that "are it is the cause, and worthily so ought "to be; for if it have any cause, then some"what must go before it whereto it must be "as it were bound, which it is unlawful once "to imagine; for the will of God is so the "highest rule of righteousness, that whatso"ever he willeth, even for this that he will"eth it, it ought to be taken for righteous. "When therefore it is asked, why the Lord "did it? it is to be answered, because he "willed it. But if you go further in asking, "why he willed it? thou askest some greater "and higher thing than the will of God, "which cannot be found. Wherefore if any "man assail us with such words, why God "hath from the beginning predestinated some "to death, which, when they were not, could "not yet deserve the judgment of death? Ave, "instead of answer, may again on our side "ask of them, what they think that God "oweth to man, if he will judge him by his M own nature?"
This hateful doctrine of absolute decrees was never thought of in the three first centuries, or before the time of Augustin; an indisputable proof that Scripture does not naturally suggest it; for had it done so, some of the Fathers, who were as learned and as conversant in the Scriptures as Augustin, would have taken notice of and enforced it; but they never did. Mosheim observes, that it was eagerly adopted into the Romish Church; and no wonder, for it is easy to perceive how much the doctrine of peculiar election is calculated to gain proselytes to any communion. Would to God the corrupt doctrines of absolute and unconditional decrees had ever been confined to the Romish communion, and that they had never found their way into the reformed Church, especially into the writings of those great men, Luther and Calvin; men to whom the world are so highly indebted for the noble and courageous stand they made against the impiety, domination, and wicked encroachments of the Church of Rome, and whose names on this account will be transmitted to the latest ages with everlasting honour: but, at the same time, it is ever to be lamented that they should have tarnished their great and illustrious talents, by retaining so much as they did of the spirit of Popery; for Mosheim informs us, that the doctrines of absolute predestination, irresistible grace, and