Calvin, Institutes, Vol.2, Part 4 
(... continued from part 5)  

Chapter 3  
3. Every thing proceeding from the corrupt nature of man damnable.  
The principal matters in this chapter are, - I. A recapitulation of  
the former chapter, proving, from passages of Scriptures that the  
intellect and will of man are so corrupted, that no integrity, no  
knowledge or fear of God, can now be found in him, sect. 1 and 2.  
II. Objections to this doctrine, from the virtues which shone in  
some of the heathen, refuted, sect. 3 and 4. III. What kind of will  
remains in man, the slave of sin, sect. 5. The remedy and cure,  
sect. 6. IV. The opinion of Neo-Pelagian sophists concerning the  
preparation and efficacy of the will, and also concerning  
perseverance and co-operating grace, refuted, both by reason and  
Scripture, sect. 7-12. V. Some passages from Augustine confirming  
the truth of this doctrine, sect. 13 and 14.  
1. The intellect and will of the whole man corrupt. The term flesh  
    applies not only to the sensual, but also to the higher part of  
    the soul. This demonstrated from Scripture.  
2. The heart also involved in corruption, and hence in no part of  
    man can integrity, or knowledge or the fear of God, be found.  
3. Objection, that some of the heathen were possessed of admirable  
    endowments, and, therefore, that the nature of man is not  
    entirely corrupt. Answer, Corruption is not entirely removed,  
    but only inwardly restrained. Explanation of this answer.  
4. Objection still urged, that the virtuous and vicious among the  
    heathen must be put upon the same level, or the virtuous prove  
    that human nature, properly cultivated, is not devoid of  
    virtue. Answer, That these are not ordinary properties of human  
    nature, but special gifts of God. These gifts defiled by  
    ambition, and hence the actions proceeding from them, however  
    esteemed by man, have no merit with God.  
5. Though man has still the faculty of willing there is no soundness  
    in it. He falls under the bondage of sin necessarily, and yet  
    voluntarily. Necessity must be distinguished from compulsion.  
    The ancient Theologians acquainted with this necessity. Some  
    passages condemning the vacillation of Lombard.  
6. Conversion to God constitutes the remedy or soundness of the  
    human will. This not only begun, but continued and completed;  
    the beginning, continuance, and completion, being ascribed  
    entirely to God. This proved by Ezekiel's description of the  
    stony heart, and from other passages of Scripture.  
7. Various Objections. - 1. The will is converted by God, but, when  
    once prepared, does its part in the work of conversion. Answer  
    from Augustine. 2. Grace can do nothing without will, nor the  
    will without grace. Answer. Grace itself produces will. God  
    prevents the unwilling, making him willing, and follows up this  
    preventing grace that he may not will in vain. Another answer  
    gathered from various passages of Augustine.  
8. Answer to the second Objection continued. No will inclining to  
    good except in the elect. The cause of election out of man.  
    Hence right will, as well as election, are from the good  
    pleasure of God. The beginning of willing and doing well is of  
    faith; faith again is the gift of God; and hence mere grace is  
    the cause of our beginning to will well. This proved by  
9. Answer to second Objection continued. That good will is merely of  
    grace proved by the prayers of saints. Three axioms 1. God does  
    not prepare man's heart, so that he can afterwards do some good  
    of himself, but every desire of rectitude, every inclination to  
    study, and every effort to pursue it, is from Him. 2. This  
    desire, study, and effort, do not stop short, but continue to  
    effect. 3. This progress is constant. The believer perseveres  
    to the end. A third Objection, and three answers to it.  
10. A fourth Objection. Answer. Fifth Objection. Answer. Answer  
    confirmed by many passages of Scripture, and supported by a  
    passage from Augustine.  
11. Perseverance not of ourselves, but of God. Objection. Two errors  
    in the objection. Refutation of both.  
12. An objection founded on the distinction of co-operating grace.  
    Answer. Answer confirmed by the testimony of Augustine and  
13. Last part of the chapter, in which it is proved by many passages  
    of Augustine, that he held the doctrine here taught.  
14. An objection, representing Augustine at variance with himself  
    and other Theologians, removed. A summary of Augustine's  
    doctrine on free will.  
    1. The nature of man, in both parts of his soul, (viz.,  
intellect and will,) cannot be better ascertained than by attending  
to the epithets applied to him in Scripture. If he is fully depicted  
(and it may easily be proved that he is) by the words of our  
Saviour, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh," (John 3: 6,) he  
must be a very miserable creature. For, as an apostle declares, "to  
be carnally minded is death," (Rom. 8: 8,) "It is enmity against  
God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."  
Is it true that the flesh is so perverse, that it is perpetually  
striving with all its might against God? that it cannot accord with  
the righteousness of the divine law? that, in short, it can beget  
nothing but the materials of death? Grant that there is nothing in  
human nature but flesh, and then extract something good out of it if  
you can. But it will be said, that the word "flesh" applies only to  
the sensual, and not to the higher part of the soul. This, however,  
is completely refuted by the words both of Christ and his apostle.  
The statement of our Lord is, that a man must be born again, because  
he is flesh. He requires not to be born again, with reference to the  
body. But a mind is not born again merely by having some portion of  
it reformed. It must be totally renewed. This is confirmed by the  
antithesis used in both passages. In the contrast between the Spirit  
and the flesh, there is nothing left of an intermediate nature. In  
this way, everything in man, which is not spiritual, falls under the  
denomination of carnal. But we have nothing of the Spirit except  
through regeneration. Everything, therefore, which we have from  
nature is flesh. Any possible doubt which might exist on the subject  
is removed by the words of Paul, (Eph. 4: 23,) where, after a  
description of the old man, who, he says, "is corrupt according to  
the deceitful lusts," he bids us "be renewed in the spirit" of our  
mind. You see that he places unlawful and depraved desires not in  
the sensual part merely, but in the mind itself, and therefore  
requires that it should be renewed. Indeed, he had a little before  
drawn a picture of human nature, which shows that there is no part  
in which it is not perverted and corrupted. For when he says that  
the "Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the  
understanding darkened being alienated from the life of God through  
the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their  
heart," (Eph. 4: 17, 18,) there can be no doubt that his words apply  
to all whom the Lord has not yet formed anew both to wisdom and  
righteousness. This is rendered more clear by the comparison which  
immediately follows, and by which he reminds believers that they  
"have not so learned Christ these words implying that the grace of  
Christ is the only remedy for that blindness and its evil  
consequences. Thus, too, had Isaiah prophesied of the kingdom of  
Christ, when the Lord promised to the Church, that though darkness  
should "cover the earth, and gross darkness the people," yet that he  
should "arise" upon it, and "his glory" should be seen upon it,  
(Isaiah 40: 2.) When it is thus declared that divine light is to  
arise on the Church alone, all without the Church is left in  
blindness and darkness. I will not enumerate all that occurs  
throughout Scripture, and particularly in the Psalms and Prophetical  
writings, as to the vanity of man. There is much in what David says,  
"Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a  
lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than  
vanity," (Ps. 62: 10.) The human mind receives a humbling blow when  
all the thoughts which proceed from it are derided as foolish,  
frivolous, perverse, and insane.  
    2. In no degree more lenient is the condemnation of the heart,  
when it is described as "deceitful above all things, and desperately  
wicked," (Jer. 17: 9.) But as I study brevity, I will be satisfied  
with a single passage, one, however, in which as in a bright mirror,  
we may behold a complete image of our nature. The Apostle, when he  
would humble man's pride, uses these words: "There is none righteous  
no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that  
seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are  
together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not  
one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have  
used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is  
full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood:  
destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have  
they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes," (Rom. 3:  
10-18.) Thus he thunders not against certain individuals, but  
against the whole posterity of Adam - not against the depraved  
manners of any single age, but the perpetual corruption of nature.  
His object in the passage is not merely to upbraid men in order that  
they may repent, but to teach that all are overwhelmed with  
inevitable calamity, and can be delivered from it only by the mercy  
of God. As this could not be proved without previously proving the  
overthrow and destruction of nature, he produced those passages to  
show that its ruin is complete.  
    Let it be a fixed point, then, that men are such as is here  
described, not by vicious custom, but by depravity of nature. The  
reasoning of the Apostle, that there is no salvation for man, save  
in the mercy of God, because in himself he is desperate and undone,  
could not otherwise stand. I will not here labour to prove that the  
passages apply, with the view of removing the doubts of any who  
might think them quoted out of place. I will take them as if they  
had been used by Paul for the first time, and not taken from the  
Prophets. First, then, he strips man of righteousness, that is,  
integrity and purity; and, secondly, he strips him of sound  
intelligence. He argues, that defect of intelligence is proved by  
apostasy from God. To seek Him is the beginning of wisdom, and,  
therefore, such defect must exist in all who have revolted from Him.  
He subjoins, that all have gone astray, and become as it were mere  
corruption; that there is none that does good. He then enumerates  
the crimes by which those who have once given loose to their  
wickedness pollute every member of their bodies. Lastly, he declares  
that they have no fear of God, according to whose rule all our steps  
should be directed. If these are the hereditary properties of the  
human race, it is vain to look for anything good in our nature. I  
confess indeed, that all these iniquities do not break out in every  
individual. Still it cannot be denied that the hydra lurks in every  
breast. For as a body, while it contains and fosters the cause and  
matter of disease, cannot be called healthy, although pain is not  
actually felt; so a soul, while teeming with such seeds of vice,  
cannot be called sound. This similitude, however, does not apply  
throughout. In a body however morbid the functions of life are  
performed; but the soul, when plunged into that deadly abyss, not  
only labours under vice, but is altogether devoid of good.  
    3. Here, again we are met with a question very much the same as  
that which was previously solved. In every age there have been some  
who, under the guidance of nature, were all their lives devoted to  
virtue. It is of no consequence, that many blots may be detected in  
their conduct; by the mere study of virtue, they evinced that there  
was somewhat of purity in their nature. The value which virtues of  
this kind have in the sight of God will be considered more fully  
when we treat of the merit of works. Meanwhile however, it will be  
proper to consider it in this place also, in so far as necessary for  
the exposition of the subject in hand. Such examples, then, seem to  
warn us against supposing that the nature of man is utterly vicious,  
since, under its guidance, some have not only excelled in  
illustrious deeds, but conducted themselves most honourably through  
the whole course of their lives. But we ought to consider, that,  
notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room  
for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it  
under internal restraint. For, did the Lord let every mind loose to  
wanton in its lusts, doubtless there is not a man who would not show  
that his nature is capable of all the crimes with which Paul charges  
it, (Rom. 3 compared with Ps. 14: 3, &c.) What? Can you exempt  
yourself from the number of those whose feet are swift to shed  
blood; whose hands are foul with rapine and murder; whose throats  
are like open sepulchres; whose tongues are deceitful; whose lips  
are venomous; whose actions are useless, unjust, rotten, deadly;  
whose soul is without God; whose inward parts are full of  
wickedness; whose eyes are on the watch for deception; whose minds  
are prepared for insult; whose every part, in short, is framed for  
endless deeds of wickedness? If every soul is capable of such  
abominations, (and the Apostle declares this boldly,) it is surely  
easy to see what the result would be, if the Lord were to permit  
human passion to follow its bent. No ravenous beast would rush so  
furiously, no stream, however rapid and violent, so impetuously  
burst its banks. In the elect, God cures these diseases in the mode  
which will shortly be explained; in others, he only lays them under  
such restraint as may prevent them from breaking forth to a degree  
incompatible with the preservation of the established order of  
things. Hence, how much soever men may disguise their impurity, some  
are restrained only by shame, others by a fear of the laws, from  
breaking out into many kinds of wickedness. Some aspire to an honest  
life, as deeming it most conducive to their interest, while others  
are raised above the vulgar lot, that, by the dignity of their  
station, they may keep inferiors to their duty. Thus God, by his  
providence, curbs the perverseness of nature, preventing it from  
breaking forth into action, yet without rendering it inwardly pure.  
    4. The objection, however, is not yet solved. For vie must  
either put Cataline on the same footing with Camillus, or hold  
Camillus to be an example that nature, when carefully cultivated, is  
not wholly void of goodness. I admit that the specious qualities  
which Camillus possessed were divine gifts, and appear entitled to  
commendation when viewed in themselves. But in what way will they be  
proofs of a virtuous nature? Must we not go back to the mind, and  
from it begin to reason thus? If a natural man possesses such  
integrity of manners, nature is not without the faculty of studying  
virtue. But what if his mind was depraved and perverted, and  
followed anything rather than rectitude? Such it undoubtedly was, if  
you grant that he was only a natural man. How then will you laud the  
power of human nature for good, if, even where there is the highest  
semblance of integrity, a corrupt bias is always detected?  
Therefore, as you would not commend a man for virtue whose vices  
impose upon you by a show of virtue, so you will not attribute a  
power of choosing rectitude to the human will while rooted in  
depravity, (see August. lib. 4, Cont. Julian.) Still, the surest and  
easiest answer to the objection is, that those are not common  
endowments of nature, but special gifts of God, which he distributes  
in divers forms, and, in a definite measure, to men otherwise  
profane. For which reason, we hesitate not, in common language, to  
say, that one is of a good, another of a vicious nature; though we  
cease not to hold that both are placed under the universal condition  
of human depravity. All we mean is that God has conferred on the one  
a special grace which he has not seen it meet to confer on the  
other. When he was pleased to set Saul over the kingdom, he made him  
as it were a new man. This is the thing meant by Plato, when,  
alluding to a passage in the Iliad, he says, that the children of  
kings are distinguished at their birth by some special qualities -  
God, in kindness to the human race, often giving a spirit of heroism  
to those whom he destines for empire. In this way, the great leaders  
celebrated in history were formed. The same judgement must be given  
in the case of private individuals. But as those endued with the  
greatest talents were always impelled by the greatest ambitions (a  
stain which defiles all virtues and makes them lose all favour in  
the sight of God,) so we cannot set any value on anything that seems  
praiseworthy in ungodly men. We may add, that the principal part of  
rectitude is wanting, when there is no zeal for the glory of God,  
and there is no such zeal in those whom he has not regenerated by  
his Spirit. Nor is it without good cause said in Isaiah, that on  
Christ should rest "the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the  
Lord," (Isa. 11: 2;) for by this we are taught that all who are  
strangers to Christ are destitute of that fear of God which is the  
beginning of wisdom, (Ps. 111: 10.) The virtues which deceive us by  
an empty show may have their praise in civil society and the common  
intercourse of life, but before the judgement-seat of God they will  
be of no value to establish a claim of righteousness.  
    5. When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot  
make a movement towards goodness, far less steadily pursue it. Every  
such movement is the first step in that conversion to God, which in  
Scripture is entirely ascribed to divine grace. Thus Jeremiah prays,  
"Turn thou me, and I shall be turned," (Jer. 31: 18.) Hence, too, in  
the same chapter, describing the spiritual redemption of believers,  
the Prophet says, "The Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him  
from the hand of him that was stronger than he," (Jer. 31: 11;)  
intimating how close the fetters are with which the sinner is bound,  
so long as he is abandoned by the Lord, and acts under the yoke of  
the devil. Nevertheless, there remains a will which both inclines  
and hastens on with the strongest affection towards sin; man, when  
placed under this bondage, being deprived not of will, but of  
soundness of will. Bernard says not improperly, that all of us have  
a will; but to will well is proficiency, to will ill is defect. Thus  
simply to will is the part of man, to will ill the part of corrupt  
nature, to will well the part of grace. Moreover, when I say that  
the will, deprived of liberty, is led or dragged by necessity to  
evil, it is strange that any should deem the expression harsh,  
seeing there is no absurdity in it, and it is not at variance with  
pious use. It does, however, offend those who know not how to  
distinguish between necessity and compulsion. Were any one to ask  
them, Is not God necessarily good, is not the devil necessarily  
wicked, what answer would they give? The goodness of God is so  
connected with his Godhead, that it is not more necessary to be God  
than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged  
from goodness, that he can do nothing but evil. Should any one give  
utterance to the profane jeer, (see Calvin Adv. Pighium,) that  
little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is  
it not obvious to every man to reply, It is owing not to violent  
impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?  
Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded,  
because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do  
nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that  
man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of  
sinning? This necessity is uniformly proclaimed by Augustine, who,  
even when pressed by the invidious cavil of Celestius, hesitated not  
to assert it in the following terms: "Man through liberty became a  
sinner, but corruption, ensuing as the penalty, has converted  
liberty into necessity," (August. lib. de Perf. Justin.) Whenever  
mention is made of the subject, he hesitates not to speak in this  
way of the necessary bondage of sin, (August. de Nature et Gratia,  
et alibi.) Let this, then, be regarded as the sum of the  
distinction. Man, since he was corrupted by the fall, sins not  
forced or unwilling, but voluntarily, by a most forward bias of the  
mind; not by violent compulsion, or external force, but by the  
movement of his own passion; and yet such is the depravity of his  
nature, that he cannot move and act except in the direction of evil.  
If this is true, the thing not obscurely expressed is, that he is  
under a necessity of sinning. Bernard, assenting to Augustine, thus  
writes: "Among animals, man alone is free, and yet sin intervening,  
he suffers a kind of violence, but a violence proceeding from his  
will, not from nature, so that it does not even deprive him of  
innate liberty," (Bernard, Sermo. super Cantica, 81.) For that which  
is voluntary is also free. A little after he adds, "Thus, by some  
means strange and wicked, the will itself, being deteriorated by  
sin, makes a necessity; but so that the necessity, in as much as it  
is voluntary, cannot excuse the will, and the will, in as much as it  
is enticed, cannot exclude the necessity." For this necessity is in  
a manner voluntary. He afterwards says that "we are under a yoke,  
but no other yoke than that of voluntary servitude; therefore, in  
respect of servitude, we are miserable, and in respect of will,  
inexcusable; because the will, when it was free, made itself the  
slave of sin." At length he concludes, "Thus the soul, in some  
strange and evil way, is held under this kind of voluntary, yet  
sadly free necessity, both bond and free; bond in respect of  
necessity, free in respect of will: and what is still more strange,  
and still more miserable, it is guilty because free, and enslaved  
because guilty, and therefore enslaved because free." My readers  
hence perceive that the doctrine which I deliver is not new, but the  
doctrine which of old Augustine delivered with the consent of all  
the godly, and which was afterwards shut up in the cloisters of  
monks for almost a thousand years. Lombard, by not knowing how to  
distinguish between necessity and compulsion, gave occasion to a  
pernicious error.  
    6. On the other hand, it may be proper to consider what the  
remedy is which divine grace provides for the correction and cure of  
natural corruption. Since the Lord, in bringing assistance, supplies  
us with what is lacking, the nature of that assistance will  
immediately make manifest its converse, viz., our penury. When the  
Apostle says to the Philippians, "Being confident of this very  
thing, that he which has begun a good work in you, will perform it  
until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1: 6,) there cannot be a  
doubt, that by the good work thus begun, he means the very  
commencement of conversion in the will. God, therefore, begins the  
good work in us by exciting in our hearts a desire, a love, and a  
study of righteousness, or (to speak more correctly) by turning,  
training, and guiding our hearts unto righteousness; and he  
completes this good work by confirming us unto perseverance. But  
lest any one should cavil that the good work thus begun by the Lord  
consists in aiding the will, which is in itself weak, the Spirit  
elsewhere declares what the will, when left to itself, is able to  
do. His words are, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new  
spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart  
out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will  
put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and  
ye shall keep my judgements, and do them," (Ezek. 36: 26, 27.) How  
can it be said that the weakness of the human will is aided so as to  
enable it to aspire effectually to the choice of good, when the fact  
is, that it must be wholly transformed and renovated? If there is  
any softness in a stone; if you can make it tender, and flexible  
into any shape, then it may be said, that the human heart may be  
shaped for rectitude, provided that which is imperfect in it is  
supplemented by divine grace. But if the Spirit, by the above  
similitude, meant to show that no good can ever be extracted from  
our heart until it is made altogether new, let us not attempt to  
share with Him what He claims for himself alone. If it is like  
turning a stone into flesh when God turns us to the study of  
rectitude, everything proper to our own will is abolished, and that  
which succeeds in its place is wholly of God. I say the will is  
abolished, but not in so far as it is will, for in conversion  
everything essential to our original nature remains: I also say,  
that it is created anew, not because the will then begins to exist,  
but because it is turned from evil to good. This, I maintains is  
wholly the work of God, because, as the Apostle testifies, we are  
not "sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves," (2  
Cor. 3: 5.) Accordingly, he elsewhere says, not merely that God  
assists the weak or corrects the depraved will, but that he worketh  
in us to will, (Philip. 2: 13.) From this it is easily inferred, as  
I have said, that everything good in the will is entirely the result  
of grace. In the same sense, the Apostle elsewhere says, "It is the  
same God which worketh all in all," (I Cor. 12: 6.) For he is not  
there treating of universal government, but declaring that all the  
good qualities which believers possess are due to God. In using the  
term "all," he certainly makes God the author of spiritual life from  
its beginning to its end. This he had previously taught in different  
terms, when he said that there is "one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom  
are all things, and we by him," (1 Cor. 8: 6;) thus plainly  
extolling the new creation, by which everything of our common nature  
is destroyed. There is here a tacit antithesis between Adam and  
Christ, which he elsewhere explains more clearly when he says, "We  
are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which  
God has before ordained that we should walk in them," (Eph. 2: 10.)  
His meaning is to show in this way that our salvation is gratuitous  
because the beginning of goodness is from the second creation which  
is obtained in Christ. If any, even the minutest, ability were in  
ourselves, there would also be some merit. But to show our utter  
destitution, he argues that we merit nothing, because we are created  
in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has prepared; again  
intimating by these words, that all the fruits of good works are  
originally and immediately from God. Hence the Psalmist, after  
saying that the Lord "has made us," to deprive us of all share in  
the work, immediately adds, "not we ourselves." That he is speaking  
of regeneration, which is the commencement of the spiritual life, is  
obvious from the context, in which the next words are, "we are his  
people, and the sheep of his pasture," (Psalm 100: 3.) Not contented  
with simply giving God the praise of our salvation, he distinctly  
excludes us from all share in it, just as if he had said that not  
one particle remains to man as a ground of boasting. The whole is of  
    7. But perhaps there will be some who, while they admit that  
the will is in its own nature averse to righteousness, and is  
converted solely by the power of God, will yet hold that, when once  
it is prepared, it performs a part in acting. This they found upon  
the words of Augustine, that grace precedes every good work; the  
will accompanying, not leading; a handmaid, and not a guide,  
(August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106.) The words thus not improperly used by  
this holy writer, Lombard preposterously wrests to the above effect,  
(Lombard, lib. 2, Dist. 25.) But I maintain, that as well in the  
words of the Psalmist which I have quoted, as in other passages of  
Scripture, two things are clearly taught, viz., that the Lord both  
corrects, or rather destroys, our depraved will, and also  
substitutes a good will from himself. In as much as it is prevented  
by grace, I have no objection to your calling it a handmaid; but in  
as much as when formed again, it is the work of the Lord, it is  
erroneous to say, that it accompanies preventing grace as a  
voluntary attendant. Therefore, Chrysostom is inaccurate in saying,  
that grace cannot do any thing without will, nor will any thing  
without grace, (Serm. de Invent. Sanct. Crucis;) as if grace did  
not, in terms of the passage lately quoted from Paul, produce the  
very will itself. The intention of Augustine, in calling the human  
will the handmaid of grace, was not to assign it a kind of second  
place to grace in the performance of good works. His object merely  
was to refute the pestilential dogma of Pelagius, who made human  
merit the first cause of salvation. As was sufficient for his  
purpose at the time, he contends that grace is prior to all merit,  
while, in the meantime, he says nothing of the other question as to  
the perpetual effect of grace, which, however, he handles admirably  
in other places. For in saying, as he often does, that the Lord  
prevents the unwilling in order to make him willing, and follows  
after the willing that he may not will in vain, he makes Him the  
sole author of good works. Indeed, his sentiments on this subject  
are too clear to need any lengthened illustration. "Men," says he,  
"labour to find in our will something that is our own, and not  
God's; how they can find it, I wot not," (August. de Remiss.  
Peccat., lib. 2 c. 18.) In his First Book against Pelagius and  
Celestius, expounding the saying of Christ, "Every man therefore  
that has heard, and has learned of the Father, cometh unto me,"  
(John 6: 45,) he says, "The will is aided not only so as to know  
what is to be done, but also to do what it knows." And thus, when  
God teaches not by the letter of the Law, but by the grace of the  
Spirit, he so teaches, that every one who has learned, not only  
knowing, sees, but also willing, desires, and acting, performs.  
    8. Since we are now occupied with the chief point on which the  
controversy turns, let us give the reader the sum of the matter in a  
few, and those most unambiguous, passages of Scripture; thereafter,  
lest any one should charge us with distorting Scripture, let us show  
that the truth, which we maintain to be derived from Scripture, is  
not unsupported by the testimony of this holy man, (I mean  
Augustine.) I deem it unnecessary to bring forward every separate  
passage of Scripture in confirmation of my doctrine. A selection of  
the most choice passages will pave the way for the understanding of  
all those which lie scattered up and down in the sacred volume. On  
the other hand, I thought it not out of place to show my accordance  
with a man whose authority is justly of so much weight in the  
Christian world. It is certainly easy to prove that the commencement  
of good is only with God, and that none but the elect have a will  
inclined to good. But the cause of election must be sought out of  
man; and hence it follows that a right will is derived not from man  
himself, but from the same good pleasure by which we were chosen  
before the creation of the world. Another argument much akin to this  
may be added. The beginning of right will and action being of faith,  
we must see whence faith itself is. But since Scripture proclaims  
throughout that it is the free gift of God, it follows, that when  
men, who are with their whole soul naturally prone to evil, begin to  
have a good will, it is owing to mere grace. Therefore, when the  
Lord, in the conversion of his people, sets down these two things as  
requisite to be done, viz., to take away the heart of stone, and  
give a heart of flesh, he openly declares, that, in order to our  
conversion to righteousness, what is ours must be taken away, and  
that what is substituted in its place is of himself. Nor does he  
declare this in one passage only. For he says in Jeremiah "I will  
give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever;"  
and a little after he says, "I will put my fear in their hearts,  
that they shall not depart from me," (Jer. 32: 39, 40.) Again, in  
Ezekiel, "I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit  
within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and  
will give them an heart of flesh," (Ezek. 11: 19.) He could not more  
clearly claim to himself, and deny to us, everything good and right  
in our will, than by declaring, that in our conversion there is the  
creation of a new spirit and a new heart. It always follows, both  
that nothing good can proceed from our will until it be formed  
again, and that after it is formed again in so far as it is good, it  
is of God, and not of us.  
    9. With this view, likewise the prayers of the saints  
correspond. Thus Solomon prays that the Lord may "incline our hearts  
unto him, to walk in his ways, and keep his commandments" (1 Kings  
8: 58;) intimating that our heart is perverse, and naturally  
indulges in rebellion against the Divine law, until it be turned.  
Again, it is said in the Psalms, "Incline my heart unto thy  
testimonies," (Ps. 119: 36.) For we should always note the  
antithesis between the rebellious movement of the heart, and the  
correction by which it is subdued to obedience. David feeling for  
the time that he was deprived of directing grace, prays, "Create in  
me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me," (Ps.  
51: 10.) Is not this an acknowledgement that all the parts of the  
heart are full of impurity, and that the soul has received a twist,  
which has turned it from straight to crooked? And then, in  
describing the cleansing, which he earnestly demands as a thing to  
be created by God, does he not ascribe the work entirely to Him? If  
it is objected, that the prayer itself is a symptom of a pious and  
holy affection, it is easy to reply, that although David had already  
in some measure repented, he was here contrasting the sad fall which  
he had experienced with his former state. Therefore, speaking in the  
person of a man alienated from God, he properly prays for the  
blessings which God bestows upon his elect in regeneration.  
Accordingly, like one dead, he desires to be created anew, so as to  
become, instead of a slave of Satan, an instrument of the Holy  
Spirit. Strange and monstrous are the longings of our pride. There  
is nothing which the Lord enjoins more strictly than the religious  
observance of his Sabbath, in other words resting from our works;  
but in nothing do we show greater reluctance than to renounce our  
own works, and give due place to the works of God. Did not arrogance  
stand in the way, we could not overlook the clear testimony which  
Christ has borne to the efficacy of his grace. "I," said he, "am the  
true vine, and my Father is the husband man." "As the branch cannot  
bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye,  
except ye abide in me," (John 15: 1, 4.) If we can no more bear  
fruit of ourselves than a vine can bud when rooted up and deprived  
of moisture, there is no longer any room to ask what the aptitude of  
our nature is for good. There is no ambiguity in the conclusion,  
"For without me ye can do nothing." He says not that we are too weak  
to suffice for ourselves; but, by reducing us to nothing, he  
excludes the idea of our possessing any, even the least ability. If,  
when engrafted into Christ, we bear fruit like the vine, which draws  
its vegetative power from the moisture of the ground, and the dew of  
heaven, and the fostering warmth of the sun, I see nothing in a good  
work, which we can call our own, without trenching upon what is due  
to God. It is vain to have recourse to the frivolous cavil, that the  
sap and the power of producing are already contained in the vine,  
and that, therefore, instead of deriving everything from the earth  
or the original root, it contributes something of its own. Our  
Saviour's words simply mean, that when separated from him, we are  
nothing but dry, useless wood, because, when so separated, we have  
no power to do good, as he elsewhere says, "Every plant which my  
heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up," (Matth. 15:  
13.) Accordingly, in the passage already quoted from the Apostle  
Paul, he attributes the whole operation to God, "It is God which  
worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,"  
(Philip. 2: 13.) The first part of a good work is the will, the  
second is vigorous effort in the doing of it. God is the author of  
both. It is, therefore, robbery from God to arrogate anything to  
ourselves, either in the will or the act. Were it said that God  
gives assistance to a weak will, something might be left us; but  
when it is said that he makes the will, every thing good in it is  
placed without us. Moreover, since even a good will is still weighed  
down by the burden of the flesh, and prevented from rising, it is  
added, that, to meet the difficulties of the contest, God supplies  
the persevering effort until the effect is obtained. Indeed, the  
Apostle could not otherwise have said, as he elsewhere does, that  
"it is the same God which worketh all in all," (1 Cor. 12: 6;) words  
comprehending, as we have already observed, (sec. 6,) the whole  
course of the spiritual life. For which reason, David, after  
praying, "Teach me thy way, O Lord, I will walk in thy truths" adds,  
"unite my heart to fear thy name," (Ps. 86: 11;) by these words  
intimating, that even those who are well-affected are liable to so  
many distractions that they easily become vain, and fall away, if  
not strengthened to persevere. And hence, in another passage, after  
praying, "Order my steps in thy word," he requests that strength  
also may be given him to carry on the war, "Let not any iniquity  
have dominion over me," (Ps. 119: 133.) In this way, the Lord both  
begins and perfects the good work in us, so that it is due to Him,  
first, that the will conceives a love of rectitude, is inclined to  
desire, is moved and stimulated to pursue it; secondly, that this  
choice, desire, and endeavour fail not, but are carried forward to  
effect; and, lastly, that we go on without interruption, and  
persevere even to the end.  
    10. This movement of the will is not of that description which  
was for many ages taught and believed, viz., a movement which  
thereafter leaves us the choice to obey or resist it, but one which  
affects us efficaciously. We must, therefore, repudiate the  
oft-repeated sentiment of Chrysostom, "Whom he draws, he draws  
willingly;" insinuating that the Lord only stretches out his hand,  
and waits to see whether we will be pleased to take his aid. We  
grant that, as man was originally constituted, he could incline to  
either side, but since he has taught us by his example how miserable  
a thing free will is if God works not in us to will and to do, of  
what use to us were grace imparted in such scanty measure? Nay, by  
our own ingratitude, we obscure and impair divine grace. The  
Apostle's doctrine is not, that the grace of a good will is offered  
to us if we will accept of it, but that God himself is pleased so to  
work in us as to guide, turn, and govern our heart by his Spirit,  
and reign in it as his own possession. Ezekiel promises that a new  
spirit will be given to the elect, not merely that they may be able  
to walk in his precepts, but that they may really walk in them,  
(Ezek. 11: 19; 36: 27.) And the only meaning which can be given to  
our Saviour's words, "Every man, therefore, that has heard and  
learned of the Father, cometh unto me," (John 6: 45,) is, that the  
grace of God is effectual in itself. This Augustine maintains in his  
book De Praedestinatione Sancta. This grace is not bestowed on all  
promiscuously, according to the common brocard, (of Occam, if I  
mistake not,) that it is not denied to any one who does what in him  
lies. Men are indeed to be taught that the favour of God is offered,  
without exception, to all who ask it; but since those only begin to  
ask whom heaven by grace inspires, even this minute portion of  
praise must not be withheld from him. It is the privilege of the  
elect to be regenerated by the Spirit of God, and then placed under  
his guidance and government. Wherefore Augustine justly derides some  
who arrogate to themselves a certain power of willing, as well as  
censures others who imagine that that which is a special evidence of  
gratuitous election is given to all, (August. de Verbis Apost. Serm.  
21.) He says, "Nature is common to all, but not grace;" and he calls  
it a showy acuteness "which shines by mere vanity, when that which  
God bestows, on whom he will is attributed generally to all."  
Elsewhere he says, "How came you? By believing. Fear, lest by  
arrogating to yourself the merit of finding the right way, you  
perish from the right way. I came, you say, by free choice, came by  
my own will. Why do you boast? Would you know that even this was  
given you? Hear Christ exclaiming, 'No man comets unto me, except  
the Father which has sent me draw him.'" And from the words of John,  
(6: 44,) he infers it to be an incontrovertible fact, that the  
hearts of believers are so effectually governed from above, that  
they follow with undeviating affection. "Whosoever is born of God  
does not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him" (I John 3: 9.)  
That intermediate movement which the sophists imagine, a movement  
which every one is free to obey or to reject, is obviously excluded  
by the doctrine of effectual perseverance.  
    11. As to perseverance, it would undoubtedly have been regarded  
as the gratuitous gift of God, had not the very pernicious error  
prevailed, that it is bestowed in proportion to human merit,  
according to the reception which each individual gives to the first  
grace. This having given rise to the idea that it was entirely in  
our own power to receive or reject the offered grace of God, that  
idea is no sooner exploded than the error founded on it must fall.  
The error, indeed, is twofold. For, besides teaching that our  
gratitude for the first grace and our legitimate use of it is  
rewarded by subsequent supplies of grace, its abettors add that,  
after this, grace does not operate alone, but only co-operates with  
ourselves. As to the former, we must hold that the Lord, while he  
daily enriches his servants, and loads them with new gifts of his  
grace, because he approves of and takes pleasure in the work which  
he has begun, finds that in them which he may follow up with larger  
measures of grace. To this effect are the sentences, "To him that  
has shall be given." "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou  
hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over  
many things," (Matth. 25: 21, 23, 29; Luke 19: 17, 26.) But here two  
precautions are necessary. It must not be said that the legitimate  
use of the first grace is rewarded by subsequent measures of grace,  
as if man rendered the grace of God effectual by his own industry,  
nor must it be thought that there is any such remuneration as to  
make it cease to be the gratuitous grace of God. I admit, then, that  
believers may expect as a blessing from God, that the better the use  
they make of previous, the larger the supplies they will receive of  
future grace; but I say that even this use is of the Lord, and that  
this remuneration is bestowed freely of mere good will. The trite  
distinction of operating and co-operating grace is employed no less  
sinistrously than unhappily. Augustine, indeed, used it, but  
softened it by a suitable definition, viz., that God, by  
co-operating, perfects what he begins by operating, - that both  
graces are the same, but obtain different names from the different  
manner in which they produce their effects. Whence it follows, that  
he does not make an apportionment between God and man, as if a  
proper movement on the part of each produced a mutual concurrence.  
All he does is to mark a multiplication of grace. To this effect,  
accordingly, he elsewhere says, that in man good will precedes many  
gifts from God; but among these gifts is this good will itself.  
(August. Enchiridion ad Laurent. cap. 32.) Whence it follows, that  
nothing is left for the will to arrogate as its own. This Paul has  
expressly stated. For, after saying, "It is God which worketh in you  
both to will and to do," he immediately adds, "of his good  
pleasure," (Philip. 2: 13;) indicating by this expression, that the  
blessing is gratuitous. As to the common saying, that after we have  
given admission to the first grace, our efforts co-operate with  
subsequent grace, this is my answer: - If it is meant that after we  
are once subdued by the power of the Lord to the obedience of  
righteousness, we proceed voluntarily, and are inclined to follow  
the movement of grace, I have nothing to object. For it is most  
certain, that where the grace of God reigns, there is also this  
readiness to obey. And whence this readiness, but just that the  
Spirit of God being everywhere consistent with himself, after first  
begetting a principle of obedience, cherishes and strengthens it for  
perseverance? If, again, it is meant that man is able of himself to  
be a fellow-labourer with the grace of God, I hold it to be a most  
pestilential delusion.  
    12. In support of this view, some make an ignorant and false  
application of the Apostle's words: "I laboured more abundantly than  
they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me," (1  
Cor. 15: 10.) The meaning they give them is, that as Paul might have  
seemed to speak somewhat presumptuously in preferring himself to all  
the other apostles, he corrects the expression so far by referring  
the praise to the grace of God, but he, at the same time, calls  
himself a co-operator with grace. It is strange that this should  
have proved a stumbling-block to so many writers, otherwise  
respectable. The Apostle says not that the grace of God laboured  
with him so as to make him a co-partner in the labour. He rather  
transfers the whole merit of the labour to grace alone, by thus  
modifying his first expression, "It was not I," says he, "that  
laboured, but the grace of God that was present with me." Those who  
have adopted the erroneous interpretation have been misled by an  
ambiguity in the expression, or rather by a preposterous  
translation, in which the force of the Greek article is overlooked.  
For to take the words literally, the Apostle does not say that grace  
was a fellow-worker with him, but that the grace which was with him  
was sole worker. And this is taught not obscurely, though briefly,  
by Augustine when he says, "Good will in man precedes many gifts  
from God, but not all gifts, seeing that the will which precedes is  
itself among the number." He adds the reason, "for it is written,  
'the God of my mercy shall prevent me,' (Ps. 59: 10,) and 'Surely  
goodness and mercy shall follow me,' (Ps. 23: 6;) it prevents him  
that is unwilling, and makes him willing; it follows him that is  
willing, that he may not will in vain." To this Bernard assents,  
introducing the Church as praying thus, "Draw me, who am in some  
measure unwilling, and make me willing; draw me, who am sluggishly  
lagging, and make me run," (Serm. 2 in Cantic.)  
    13. Let us now hear Augustine in his own words, lest the  
Pelagians of our age, I mean the sophists of the Sorbonne, charge us  
after their wont with being opposed to all antiquity. In this indeed  
they imitate their father Pelagius, by whom of old a similar charge  
was brought against Augustine. In the second chapter of his Treatise  
De Correptione et Gratis, addressed to Valentinus, Augustine  
explains at length what I will state briefly, but in his own words,  
that to Adam was given the grace of persevering in goodness if he  
had the will; to us it is given to will, and by will overcome  
concupiscence: that Adam, therefore, had the power if he had the  
will, but did not will to have the power, whereas to us is given  
both the will and the power; that the original freedom of man was to  
be able not to sin, but that we have a much greater freedom, viz.,  
not to be able to sin. And lest it should be supposed, as Lombard  
erroneously does, (lib. 2 Dist. 25,) that he is speaking of the  
perfection of the future state, he shortly after removes all doubt  
when he says, "For so much is the will of the saints inflamed by the  
Holy Spirit, that they are able, because they are willing; and  
willing, because God worketh in them so to will." For if, in such  
weakness, (in which, however, to suppress pride, "strength" must be  
made "perfect,") their own will is left to them, in such sense that,  
by the help of God, they are able, if they will, while at the same  
time God does not work in them so as to make them will; among so  
many temptations and infirmities the will itself would give way,  
and, consequently, they would not be able to persevere. Therefore,  
to meet the infirmity of the human will, and prevent it from  
failing, how weak soever it might be, divine grace was made to act  
on it inseparably and uninterruptedly. Augustine (ibid. cap. 14.)  
next entering fully into the question, how our hearts follow the  
movement when God affects them, necessarily says, indeed, that the  
Lord draws men by their own wills; wills, however, which he himself  
has produced. We have now an attestation by Augustine to the truth  
which we are specially desirous to maintain, viz., that the grace  
offered by the Lord is not merely one which every individual has  
full liberty of choosing to receive or reject, but a grace which  
produces in the heart both choice and will: so that all the good  
works which follow after are its fruit and effect; the only will  
which yields obedience being the will which grace itself has made.  
In another place, Augustine uses these words, "Every good work in us  
is performed only by grace," (August. Ep. 105.)  
    14. In saying elsewhere that the will is not taken away by  
grace, but out of bad is changed into good, and after it is good is  
assisted, - he only means, that man is not drawn as if by an  
extraneous impulses without the movement of the heart, but is  
inwardly affected so as to obey from the heart. Declaring that grace  
is given specially and gratuitously to the elect, he writes in this  
way to Boniface: "We know that Divine grace is not given to all men,  
and that to those to whom it is given, it is not given either  
according to the merit of works, or according to the merit of the  
will, but by free grace: in regard to those to whom it is not given,  
we know that the not giving of it is a just judgement from God,"  
(August. ad Bonifac. Ep. 106.) In the same epistle, he argues  
strongly against the opinion of those who hold that subsequent grace  
is given to human merit as a reward for not rejecting the first  
grace. For he presses Pelagius to confess that gratuitous grace is  
necessary to us for every action, and that merely from the fact of  
its being truly grace, it cannot be the recompense of works. But the  
matter cannot be more briefly summed up than in the eighth chapter  
of his Treatise De Correptione et Gratia, where he shows, First,  
that human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace  
obtains liberty. Secondly, that by means of the same grace, the  
heart being impressed with a feeling of delight, is trained to  
persevere, and strengthened with invincible fortitude. Thirdly, that  
while grace governs the will, it never falls; but when grace  
abandons it, it falls forthwith. Fourthly, that by the free mercy of  
God, the will is turned to good, and when turned, perseveres.  
Fifthly, that the direction of the will to good, and its constancy  
after being so directed, depend entirely on the will of God, and not  
on any human merit. Thus the will, (free will, if you choose to call  
it so,) which is left to man, is, as he in another place (Ep. 46)  
describes it, a will which can neither be turned to God, nor  
continue in God, unless by grace; a will which, whatever its ability  
may be, derives all that ability from grace.  
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, Part 4
(continued in part 5...) 
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