Calvin, Institutes, Vol.2, Part 7
(... continued from part 6) 

Chapter 6. 
6. Redemption for man lost to be sought in Christ. 
    The parts of this chapter are, I. The excellence of the 
doctrine of Christ the Redeemer - a doctrine always entertained by 
the Church, sec. 1. II. Christ, the Mediator in both dispensations, 
was offered to the faith of the pious Israelites and people of old, 
as is plain from the institution of sacrifice, the calling of 
Abraham's family, and the elevation of David and his posterity, sec. 
2. III. Hence the consolation, strength, hope, and confidence of the 
godly under the Law, Christ being offered to them in various ways by 
their heavenly Father. 
1. The knowledge of God the Creator of no avail without faith in 
    Christ the Redeemer. First reason. Second reason strengthened 
    by the testimony of an Apostle. Conclusion. This doctrine 
    entertained by the children of God in all ages from the 
    beginning of the world. Error of throwing open heaven to the 
    heathen, who know nothing of Christ. The pretexts for this 
    refuted by passages of Scripture. 
2. God never was propitious to the ancient Israelites without Christ 
    the Mediator. First reason founded on the institution of 
    sacrifice. Second reason founded on the calling of Abraham. 
    Third reason founded on the elevation of David's family to 
    regal dignity, and confirmed by striking passages of Scripture. 
3. Christ the solace ever promised to the afflicted; the banner of 
    faith and hope always erected. This confirmed by various 
    passages of Scripture. 
4. The Jews taught to have respect to Christ. This teaching 
    sanctioned by our Saviour himself. The common saying, that God 
    is the object of faith, requires to be explained and modified. 
    Conclusion of this discussion concerning Christ. No saving 
    knowledge of God in the heathen. 
    1. The whole human race having been undone in the person of 
Adam, the excellence and dignity of our origin, as already 
described, is so far from availing us, that it rather turns to our 
greater disgrace, until God, who does not acknowledge man when 
defiled and corrupted by sin as his own work, appear as a Redeemer 
in the person of his only begotten Son. Since our fall from life 
unto death, all that knowledge of God the Creator, of which we have 
discoursed, would be useless, were it not followed up by faith, 
holding forth God to us as a Father in Christ. The natural course 
undoubtedly was, that the fabric of the world should be a school in 
which we might learn piety, and from it pass to eternal life and 
perfect felicity. But after looking at the perfection beheld 
wherever we turn our eye, above and below, we are met by the divine 
malediction, which, while it involves innocent creatures in our 
fault, of necessity fills our own souls with despair. For although 
God is still pleased in many ways to manifest his paternal favour 
towards us, we cannot, from a mere survey of the world, infer that 
he is a Father. Conscience urging us within, and showing that sin is 
a just ground for our being forsaken, will not allow us to think 
that God accounts or treats us as sons. In addition to this are our 
sloth and ingratitude. Our minds are so blinded that they cannot 
perceive the truth, and all our senses are so corrupt that we 
wickedly rob God of his glory. Wherefore, we must conclude with 
Paul, "After that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not 
God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them 
that believe," (1 Cor. 1: 21.) By the "wisdom of God," he designates 
this magnificent theatre of heaven and earth replenished with 
numberless wonders, the wise contemplation of which should have 
enabled us to know God. But this we do with little profit; and, 
therefore, he invites us to faith in Christ, - faith which, by a 
semblance of foolishness, disgusts the unbeliever. Therefore, 
although the preaching of the cross is not in accordance with human 
wisdom, we must, however, humbly embrace it if we would return to 
God our Maker, from whom we are estranged, that he may again become 
our Father. It is certain that after the fall of our first parent, 
no knowledge of God without a Mediator was effectual to salvation. 
Christ speaks not of his own age merely, but embraces all ages, when 
he says "This is life eternal that they might know thee the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent," (John 17: 3.) The 
more shameful therefore is the presumption of those who throw heaven 
open to the unbelieving and profane, in the absence of that grace 
which Scripture uniformly describes as the only door by which we 
enter into life. Should any confine our Saviour's words to the 
period subsequent to the promulgation of the Gospel, the refutation 
is at hand; since on a ground common to all ages and nations, it is 
declared, that those who are estranged from God, and as such, are 
under the curse, the children of wrath, cannot be pleasing to God 
until they are reconciled. To this we may add the answer which our 
Saviour gave to the Samaritan woman "Ye worship ye know not what; we 
know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews," (John 4: 22.) 
By these words, he both charges every Gentile religion with 
falsehood, and assigns the reason, viz., that under the Law the 
Redeemer was promised to the chosen people only, and that, 
consequently, no worship was ever pleasing to God in which respect 
was not had to Christ. Hence also Paul affirms, that all the 
Gentiles were "without God," and deprived of the hope of life. Now, 
since John teaches that there was life in Christ from the beginning, 
and that the whole world had lost it, (John 1: 4,) it is necessary 
to return to that fountain; And, accordingly, Christ declares that 
inasmuch as he is a propitiator, he is life. And, indeed, the 
inheritance of heaven belongs to none but the sons of God, (John 15: 
6.) Now, it were most incongruous to give the place and rank of sons 
to any who have not been engrafted into the body of the only 
begotten Son. And John distinctly testifies that those become the 
sons of God who believe in his name. But as it is not my intention 
at present formally to discuss the subject of faith in Christ, it is 
enough to have thus touched on it in passing. 
    2. Hence it is that God never showed himself propitious to his 
ancient people, nor gave them any hope of grace without a Mediator. 
I say nothing of the sacrifices of the Law, by which believers were 
plainly and openly taught that salvation was not to be found 
anywhere but in the expiation which Christ alone completed. All I 
maintain is that the prosperous and happy state of the Church was 
always founded in the person of Christ. For although God embraced 
the whole posterity of Abraham in his covenant, yet Paul properly 
argues, (Gal. 3: 16,) that Christ was truly the seed in which all 
the nations of the earth were to be blessed, since we know that all 
who were born of Abraham, according to the flesh, were not accounted 
the seed. To omit Ishmael and others, how came it that of the two 
sons of Isaac, the twin brothers, Esau and Jacob, while yet in the 
womb, the one was chosen and the other rejected? Nay, how came it 
that the first-born was rejected, and the younger alone admitted? 
Moreover, how happens it that the majority are rejected? It is 
plain, therefore, that the seed of Abraham is considered chiefly in 
one head, and that the promised salvation is not attained without 
coming to Christ, whose office it is to gather together those which 
were scattered abroad. Thus the primary adoption of the chosen 
people depended on the grace of the Mediator. Although it is not 
expressed in very distinct terms in Moses, it, however, appears to 
have been commonly known to all the godly. For before a king was 
appointed over the Israelites, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, 
describing the happiness of the righteous, speaks thus in her song, 
"He shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his 
anointed;" meaning by these words, that God would bless his Church. 
To this corresponds the prediction, which is afterwards added, "I 
will raise me up a faithful priest, and he shall walk before mine 
anointed for ever," (1 Sam. 2: 10, 35.) And there can be no doubt 
that our heavenly Father intended that a living image of Christ 
should be seen in David and his posterity. Accordingly, exhorting 
the righteous to fear Him, he bids them "Kiss the Son," (Psalm 2: 
12.) Corresponding to this is the passage in the Gospel, "He that 
honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father," (John 5: 23.) 
Therefore, though the kingdom was broken up by the revolt of the ten 
tribes, yet the covenant which God had made in David and his 
successors behaved to stand, as is also declared by his Prophets, 
"Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I 
will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant's 
sake," (1 Kings 11: 34.) The same thing is repeated a second and 
third time. It is also expressly said, "I will for this afflict the 
seed of David, but not for ever," (1 Kings 11: 39.) Some time 
afterwards it was said, "Nevertheless, for David's sake did the Lord 
his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, 
and to establish Jerusalem," (1 Kings 15: 4.) And when matters were 
bordering on destruction, it was again said, "Yet the Lord would not 
destroy Judah for David his servant's sake, as he had promised to 
give him alway a light, and to his children," (2 Kings 8: 19.) 
    The sum of the whole comes to this - David, all others being 
excluded, was chosen to be the person in whom the good pleasure of 
the Lord should dwell; as it is said elsewhere, "He forsook the 
tabernacle of Shiloh;" "Moreover, he refused the tabernacle of 
Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim;" "But chose the tribe of 
Judah, the mount Zion which he loved;" "He chose David also his 
servant, and took him from the sheep folds: from following the ewes 
great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel 
his inheritance," (Ps. 78: 60, 67, 70, 71.) In fine, God, in thus 
preserving his Church, intended that its security and salvation 
should depend on Christ as its head. Accordingly, David exclaims, 
"The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his 
anointed;" and then prays "Save thy people, and bless thine 
inheritance;" intimating, that the safety of the Church was 
indissolubly connected with the government of Christ. In the same 
sense he elsewhere says, "Save, Lord: let the king hear us when we 
call," (Ps. 20: 9.) These words plainly teach that believers, in 
applying for the help of God, had their sole confidence in this - 
that they were under the unseen government of the King. This may be 
inferred from another psalm, "Save now, I beseech thee O Lord: 
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord," (Ps. 118: 25, 
26.) Here it is obvious that believers are invited to Christ, in the 
assurance that they will be safe when entirely in his hand. To the 
same effect is another prayer, in which the whole Church implores 
the divine mercy "Let thy hand be upon the Man of thy right hand, 
upon the Son of man, whom thou madest strong (or best fitted) for 
thyself," (Ps. 80: 17.) For though the author of the psalm laments 
the dispersion of the whole nations he prays for its revival in him 
who is sole Head. After the people were led away into captivity, the 
land laid waste, and matters to appearance desperate, Jeremiah, 
lamenting the calamity of the Church, especially complains, that by 
the destruction of the kingdom the hope of believers was cut off; 
"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in 
their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among 
the heathen," (Lam. 4: 20.) From all this it is abundantly plain, 
that as the Lord cannot be propitious to the human race without a 
Mediator, Christ was always held forth to the holy Fathers under the 
Law as the object of their faith. 
    3. Moreover when comfort is promised in affliction, especially 
when the deliverance of the Church is described, the banner of faith 
and hope in Christ is unfurled. "Thou wentest forth for the 
salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed," 
says Habakkuk, (3: 13.) And whenever mention is made in the Prophets 
of the renovation of the Church, the people are directed to the 
promise made to David, that his kingdom would be for ever. And there 
is nothing strange in this, since otherwise there would have been no 
stability in the covenant. To this purpose is the remarkable 
prophecy in Isaiah 7: 14. After seeing that the unbelieving king 
Ahab repudiated what he had testified regarding the deliverance of 
Jerusalem from siege and its immediate safety, he passes as it were 
abruptly to the Messiah, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a 
son, and shall call his name Emmanuel;" intimating indirectly, that 
though the king and his people wickedly rejected the promise offered 
to them, as if they were bent on causing the faith of God to fail, 
the covenant would not be defeated - the Redeemer would come in his 
own time. In fine, all the prophets, to show that God was placable, 
were always careful to bring forward that kingdom of David, on which 
redemption and eternal salvation depended. Thus in Isaiah it is 
said, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure 
mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the 
people," (Isa. 55: 3, 4;) intimating, that believers, in calamitous 
circumstances, could have no hope, had they not this testimony that 
God would be ready to hear them. In the same way, to revive their 
drooping spirits, Jeremiah says, "Behold, the days come, saith the 
Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King 
shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in 
the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell 
safely," (Jer. 23: 5, 6.) In Ezekiel also it is said, "I will set up 
one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant 
David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the 
Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them: I 
the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of 
peace," (Ezek. 34: 23, 24, 25.) And again, after discoursing of this 
wondrous renovation, he says, "David my servant shall be king over 
them: and they all shall have one shepherd." "Moreover, I will make 
a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant 
with them," (Ezek. 37: 24-26.) I select a few passages out of many, 
because I merely wish to impress my readers with the fact, that the 
hope of believers was ever treasured up in Christ alone. All the 
other prophets concur in this. Thus Hosea, "Then shall the children 
of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and 
appoint themselves one head," (Hosea 1: 11.) This he afterwards 
explains in clearer terms, "Afterward shall the children of Israel 
return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king," (Hosea 
3: 5.) Micas, also speaking of the return of the people, says 
expressly, "Their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the 
head of them," (Micas 2: 13.) So Amos, in predicting the renovation 
of the people, says "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of 
David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will 
raise up the ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old," 
(Amos 9: 11;) in other words, the only banner of salvation was, the 
exaltation of the family of David to regal splendour, as fulfilled 
in Christ. Hence, too, Zechariah, as nearer in time to the 
manifestation of Christ, speaks more plainly, "Rejoice greatly, O 
daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King 
cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation," (Zech. 9: 9.) 
This corresponds to the passage already quoted from the Psalms, "The 
Lord is their strength, and he is the saving health of their 
anointed." Here salvation is extended from the head to the whole 
    4. By familiarising the Jews with these prophecies, God 
intended to teach them, that in seeking for deliverance, they should 
turn their eyes directly towards Christ. And though they had sadly 
degenerated, they never entirely lost the knowledge of this general 
principle, that God, by the hand of Christ, would be the deliverer 
of the Church, as he had promised to David; and that in this way 
only the free covenant by which God had adopted his chosen people 
would be fulfilled. Hence it was, that on our Saviour's entry into 
Jerusalem, shortly before his death, the children shouted, "Hosannah 
to the son of David," (Matth. 21: 9.) For there seems to have been a 
hymn known to all, and in general use, in which they sung that the 
only remaining pledge which they had of the divine mercy was the 
promised advent of a Redeemer. For this reason, Christ tells his 
disciples to believe in him, in order that they might have a 
distinct and complete belief in God, "Ye believe in God, believe 
also in me," (John 14: 1.) For although, properly speaking, faith 
rises from Christ to the Father, he intimates, that even when it 
leans on God, it gradually vanishes away, unless he himself 
interpose to give it solid strength. The majesty of God is too high 
to be scaled up to by mortals, who creep like worms on the earth. 
Therefore, the common saying that God is the object of faith, 
(Lactantius, lib. 4 c. 16,) requires to be received with some 
modification. When Christ is called the image of the invisible God, 
(Col. 1: 15,) the expression is not used without cause, but is 
designed to remind us that we can have no knowledge of our 
salvation, until we behold God in Christ. For although the Jewish 
scribes had by their false glosses darkened what the Prophets had 
taught concerning the Redeemer, yet Christ assumed it to be a fact, 
received, as it were, with public consent, that there was no other 
remedy in desperate circumstances, no other mode of delivering the 
Church than the manifestation of the Mediator. It is true, that the 
fact adverted to by Paul was not so generally known as it ought to 
have been, viz., that Christ is the end of the Law, (Rom. 10: 4,) 
though this is both true, and clearly appears both from the Law and 
the Prophets. I am not now, however, treating of faith, as we shall 
elsewhere have a fitter place, (Book 3 Chap. 2,) but what I wish to 
impress upon my readers in this way is, that the first step in piety 
is, to acknowledge that God is a Father, to defend, govern, and 
cherish us, until he brings us to the eternal inheritance of his 
kingdom; that hence it is plain, as we lately observed, there is no 
saving knowledge of God without Christ, and that, consequently, from 
the beginning of the world Christ was held forth to all the elect as 
the object of their faith and confidence. In this sense, Irenaeus 
says, that the Father, who is boundless in himself, is bounded in 
the Son, because he has accommodated himself to our capacity, lest 
our minds should be swallowed up by the immensity of his glory, 
(Irenaeus, lib. 4 cap. 8.) Fanatics, not attending to this, distort 
a useful sentiment into an impious dream, as if Christ had only a 
share of the Godhead, as a part taken from a whole; whereas the 
meaning merely is, that God is comprehended in Christ alone. The 
saying of John was always true, "whosoever denieth the Son, the same 
has not the Father," (1 John 2: 23.) For though in old time there 
were many who boasted that they worshipped the Supreme Deity, the 
Maker of heaven and earth, yet as they had no Mediator, it was 
impossible for them truly to enjoy the mercy of God, so as to feel 
persuaded that he was their Father. Not holding the head, that is, 
Christ, their knowledge of God was evanescent; and hence they at 
length fell away to gross and foul superstitions betraying their 
ignorance, just as the Turks in the present day, who, though 
proclaiming, with full throat, that the Creator of heaven and earth 
is their God, yet by their rejection of Christ, substitute an idol 
in his place. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, Part 7
(continued in part 8...)

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