Calvin, Institutes, Vol.2, Part 11 
(... continued from part 10)  
Chapter 10.  
10. The resemblance between the Old Testament and the New.  
    This chapter consists of four parts. I. The sum, utility, and  
necessity of this discussion, sec. 1. II. A proof that, generally  
speaking, the old and new dispensations are in reality one, although  
differently administered. Three points in which the two  
dispensations entirely agree, sec. 2-4. III. The Old Testament, as  
well as the New, had regard to the hope of immortality and a future  
life, whence two other resemblances or points of agreement follow,  
viz., that both were established by the free mercy of God, and  
confirmed by the intercession of Christ. This proved by many  
arguments, passages of Scripture, and examples, see. 5-23. IV.  
Conclusion of the whole chapter, where, for fuller confirmation,  
certain passages of Scripture are produced. Refutation of the cavils  
of the Sadducees and other Jews.  
1. Introduction, showing the necessity of proving the similarity of  
    both dispensations in opposition to Servetus and the  
2. This similarity in general. Both covenants truly one, though  
    differently administered. Three things in which they entirely  
3. First general similarity, or agreement, viz., that the Old  
    Testament, equally with the New, extended its promises beyond  
    the present life, and held out a sure hope of immortality.  
    Reason for this resemblance. Objection answered.  
4. The other two points of resemblance, viz., that both covenants  
    were established in the mercy of God, and confirmed by the  
    mediation of Christ.  
5. The first of these points of resemblance being the foundation of  
    the other two, a lengthened proof is given of it. The first  
    argument taken from a passage, in which Paul, showing that the  
    sacraments of both dispensations had the same meaning, proves  
    that the condition of the ancient church was similar to ours.  
6. An objection from John 6: 49, viz., that the Israelites ate manna  
    in the wilderness, and are dead, whereas Christians eat the  
    flesh of Christ, and die not. Answer reconciling this passage  
    of the Evangelist with that of the Apostle.  
7. Another proof from the Law and the Prophets, viz., the power of  
    the divine word in quickening souls before Christ was  
    manifested. Hence the believing Jews were raised to the hope of  
    eternal life.  
8. Third proof from the form of the covenant, which shows that it  
    was in reality one both before and after the manifestation of  
    Christ in the flesh.  
9. Confirmation of the former proof from the clear terms in which  
    the form is expressed. Another confirmation derived from the  
    former and from the nature of God.  
10. Fourth proof from examples. Adam, Abel, and Noah, when tried  
    with various temptations, neglecting the present, aspired with  
    living faith and invincible hope to a better life. They,  
    therefore, had the same aim as believers under the Gospel.  
11. Continuation of the fourth proof from the example of Abraham,  
    whose call and whole course of life shows that he ardently  
    aspired to eternal felicity. Objection disposed of.  
12. Continuation of the fourth proof from the examples of Isaac and  
13. Conclusion of the fourth proof. Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham,  
    Isaac, Jacob, and others under the Law, looked for the  
    fulfilment of the divine promises not on the earth, but in  
    heaven. Hence they termed this life an earthly pilgrimage, and  
    desired to be buried in the land of Canaan, which was a figure  
    of eternal happiness.  
14. A fifth proof from Jacob's earnestness to obtain the  
    birth-right. This shows a prevailing desire of future life.  
    This perceived in some degree by Balaam.  
15. A sixth proof from David, who expects such great things from the  
    Lord, and yet declares the present life to be mere vanity.  
16. A seventh proof also from David. His descriptions of the  
    happiness of believers could only be realised in a future  
17. An eighth proof from the common feeling and confession of all  
    the pious who sought by faith and hope to obtain in heaven what  
    they did not see in the present shadowy life.  
18. A continuation and confirmation of the former proof from the  
    exultation of the righteous, even amid the destruction of the  
19. A ninth proof from Job, who spoke most distinctly of this hope.  
    Two objections disposed of.  
20. A tenth proof from the later Prophets, who taught that the  
    happiness of the righteous was placed beyond the limits of the  
    present life.  
21. This clearly established by Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones,  
    and a passage in Isaiah.  
22. Last proof from certain passages in the Prophets, which clearly  
    show the future immortality of the righteous in the kingdom of  
23. Conclusion of the whole discussion concerning the similarity of  
    both dispensations. For fuller confirmation, four passages of  
    Scripture produced. Refutation of the error of the Sadducees  
    and other Jews, who denied eternal salvation and the sure hope  
    of the Church.  
    1. From what has been said above, it must now be clear, that  
all whom, from the beginning of the world, God adopted as his  
peculiar people, were taken into covenant with him on the same  
conditions, and under the same bond of doctrine, as ourselves; but  
as it is of no small importance to establish this point, I will here  
add it by way of appendix, and show, since the Fathers were  
partakers with us in the same inheritance, and hoped for a common  
salvation through the grace of the same Mediator, how far their  
condition in this respect was different from our own. For although  
the passages which we have collected from the Law and the Prophets  
for the purpose of proof, make it plain that there never was any  
other rule of piety and religion among the people of God; yet as  
many things are written on the subject of the difference between the  
Old and New Testaments in a manner which may perplex ordinary  
readers, it will be proper here to devote a special place to the  
better and more exact discussion of this subject. This discussion,  
which would have been most useful at any rate, has been rendered  
necessary by that monstrous miscreant, Servetus, and some madmen of  
the sect of the Anabaptists, who think of the people of Israel just  
as they would do of some herd of swine, absurdly imagining that the  
Lord gorged them with temporal blessings here, and gave them no hope  
of a blessed immortality. Let us guard pious minds against this  
pestilential error, while we at the same time remove all the  
difficulties which are wont to start up when mention is made of the  
difference between the Old and the New Testaments. By the way also,  
let us consider what resemblance and what difference there is  
between the covenant which the Lord made with the Israelites before  
the advent of Christ, and that which he has made with us now that  
Christ is manifested.  
    2. It is possible, indeed, to explain both in one word. The  
covenant made with all the fathers is so far from differing from  
ours in reality and substance, that it is altogether one and the  
same: still the administration differs. But because this brief  
summary is insufficient to give any one a full understanding of the  
subject, our explanation to be useful must extend to greater length.  
It were superfluous, however, in showing the similarity, or rather  
identity, of the two dispensations, again to treat of the  
particulars which have already been discussed, as it were  
unseasonable to introduce those which are still to be considered  
elsewhere. What we propose to insist upon here may be reduced to  
three heads: - First, That temporal opulence and felicity was not  
the goal to which the Jews were invited to aspire, but that they  
were admitted to the hope of immortality, and that assurance of this  
adoption was given by immediate communications, by the Law and by  
the Prophets. Secondly, That the covenant by which they were  
reconciled to the Lord was founded on no merits of their own, but  
solely on the mercy of God, who called them; and, thirdly, That they  
both had and knew Christ the Mediator, by whom they were united to  
God, and made capable of receiving his promises. The second of  
these, as it is not yet perhaps sufficiently understood, will be  
fully considered in its own place, (Book 3 chap. 15-18.) For we will  
prove by many clear passages in the Prophets, that all which the  
Lord has ever given or promised to his people is of mere goodness  
and indulgence. The third also has, in various places, been not  
obscurely demonstrated. Even the first has not been left unnoticed.  
    3. As the first is most pertinent to the present subject, and  
is most controverted, we shall enter more fully into the  
consideration of it, taking care, at the same time, where any of the  
others requires explanations to supply it by the way, or afterwards  
add it in its proper place. The Apostle, indeed, removes all doubt  
when he says that the Gospel which God gave concerning his Son,  
Jesus Christ, "he had promised aforetime by his prophets in the holy  
Scriptures," (Rom. 1: 2.) And again, that "the righteousness of God  
without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the  
prophets," (Rom. 3: 21.) For the Gospel does not confine the hearts  
of men to the enjoyment of the present life, but raises them to the  
hope of immortality; does not fix them down to earthly delights, but  
announcing that there is a treasure laid up in heaven, carries the  
heart thither also. For in another place he thus explains, "After  
that ye believed [the Gospel,] ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit  
of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance unto the  
redemption of the purchased possession," (Eph. 1: 13, 14.) Again,  
"Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which  
ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in  
heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the  
Gospel," (Col. 1: 4.) Again, "Whereunto he called you by our Gospel  
to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ," (2 Thess.  
2: 14.) Whence also it is called the word of salvation and the power  
of God, with salvation to every one that believes, and the kingdom  
of heaven. But if the doctrine of the Gospel is spiritual, and gives  
access to the possession of incorruptible life, let us not suppose  
that those to whom it was promised and declared altogether neglected  
the care of the soul, and lived stupidly like cattle in the  
enjoyment of bodily pleasures. Let no one here quibble and say, that  
the promises concerning the Gospel, which are contained in the Law  
and the Prophets, were designed for a new people. For Paul, shortly  
after making that statement concerning the Gospel promised in the  
Law, adds, that "whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to those  
who are under the law." I admit, indeed, he is there treating of a  
different subject, but when he said that every thing contained in  
the Law was directed to the Jews, he was not so oblivious as not to  
remember what he had said a few verses before of the Gospel promised  
in the Law. Most clearly, therefore, does the Apostle demonstrate  
that the Old Testament had special reference to the future life,  
when he says that the promises of the Gospel were comprehended under  
    4. In the same way we infer that the Old Testament was both  
established by the free mercy of God and confirmed by the  
intercession of Christ. For the preaching of the Gospel declares  
nothing more than that sinners, without any merit of their own, are  
justified by the paternal indulgence of God. It is wholly summed up  
in Christ. Who, then, will presume to represent the Jews as  
destitute of Christ, when we know that they were parties to the  
Gospel covenant, which has its only foundation in Christ? Who will  
presume to make them aliens to the benefit of gratuitous salvation,  
when we know that they were instructed in the doctrine of  
justification by faith? And not to dwell on a point which is clear,  
we have the remarkable saying of our Lord, "Your father Abraham  
rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad," (John 8: 56.)  
What Christ here declares of Abraham, an apostle shows to be  
applicable to all believers, when he says that Jesus Christ is the  
"same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," (Heb. 13: 8.) For he is not  
there speaking merely of the eternal divinity of Christ, but of his  
power, of which believers had always full proof. Hence both the  
blessed Virgin and Zachariah, in their hymns, say that the salvation  
revealed in Christ was a fulfilment of the mercy promised "to our  
fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever," (Luke 1: 55, 72.)  
If, by manifesting Christ, the Lord fulfilled his ancient oath, it  
cannot be denied that the subject of that oaths must ever have been  
Christ and eternal life.  
    5. Nay, the Apostle makes the Israelites our equals, not only  
in the grace of the covenant, but also in the signification of the  
Sacraments. For employing the example of those punishments, which  
the Scripture states to have been of old inflicted on the Jews, in  
order to deter the Corinthians from falling into similar wickedness,  
he begins with premising that they have no ground to claim for  
themselves any privilege which can exempt them from the divine  
vengeance which overtook the Jews, since the Lord not only visited  
them with the same mercies, but also distinguished his grace among  
them by the same symbols: as if he had said, If you think you are  
out of danger, because the Baptism which you received, and the  
Supper of which you daily partake, have excellent promises, and if,  
in the meantime, despising the goodness of God, you indulge in  
licentiousness, know that the Jews, on whom the Lord inflicted his  
severest judgements, possessed similar symbols. They were baptised  
in passing through the sea, and in the cloud which protected them  
from the burning heat of the sun. It is said, that this passage was  
a carnal baptism, corresponding in some degree to our spiritual  
baptism. But if so, there would be a want of conclusiveness in the  
argument of the Apostle, whose object is to prevent Christians from  
imagining that they excelled the Jews in the matter of baptism.  
Besides, the cavil cannot apply to what immediately follows, viz.,  
that they did "all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink  
the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that  
followed them: and that Rock was Christ," (1 Cor. 10: 3, 4.)  
    6. To take off the force of this passage of Paul, an objection  
is founded on the words of our Saviour, "Your fathers did eat manna  
in the wilderness, and are dead." "If any man eat of this bread, he  
shall live for ever," (John 6: 49, 51.) There is no difficulty in  
reconciling the two passages. The Lord, as he was addressing hearers  
who only desired to be filled with earthly food, while they cared  
not for the true food of the soul, in some degree adapts his speech  
to their capacity, and, in particular, to meet their carnal view,  
draws a comparison between manna and his own body. They called upon  
him to prove his authority by performing some miracle, such as Moses  
performed in the wilderness when he obtained manna from heaven. In  
this manna they saw nothing but a relief of the bodily hunger from  
which the people were then suffering; they did not penetrate to the  
sublimer mystery to which Paul refers. Christ, therefore, to  
demonstrate that the blessing which they ought to expect from him  
was more excellent than the lauded one which Moses had bestowed upon  
their fathers, draws this comparison: If, in your opinion, it was a  
great and memorable miracle when the Lord, by Moses, supplied his  
people with heavenly food that they might be supported for a season,  
and not perish in the wilderness from famine; from this infer how  
much more excellent is the food which bestows immortality. We see  
why our Lord omitted to mention what was of principal virtue in the  
manna, and mentioned only its meanest use. Since the Jews had, as it  
were by way of upbraiding, cast up Moses to him as one who had  
relieved the necessity of the people by means of manna, he answers,  
that he was the minister of a much larger grace, one compared with  
which the bodily nourishment of the people, on which they set so  
high a value, ought to be held worthless. Paul, again, knowing that  
the Lords when he rained manna from heaven, had not merely supplied  
their bodies with food, but had also dispensed it as containing a  
spiritual mystery to typify the spiritual quickening which is  
obtained in Christ, does not overlook that quality which was most  
deserving of consideration. Wherefore it is surely and clearly  
proved, that the same promises of celestial and eternal life, which  
the Lord now gives to us, were not only communicated to the Jews,  
but also sealed by truly spiritual sacraments. This subject is  
copiously discussed by Augustine in his work against Faustus the  
    7. But if my readers would rather have passages quoted from the  
Law and the Prophets, from which they may see, as we have already  
done from Christ and the Apostles, that the spiritual covenant was  
common also to the Fathers, I will yield to the wish, and the more  
willingly, because opponents will thus be more surely convinced,  
that henceforth there will be no room for evasion. And I will begin  
with a proof which, though I know it will seem futile and almost  
ridiculous to supercilious Anabaptists, will have very great weight  
with the docile and sober-minded. I take it for granted that the  
word of God has such an inherent efficacy, that it quickens the  
souls of all whom he is pleased to favour with the communication of  
it. Peter's statement has ever been true, that it is an  
incorruptible seed, "which liveth and abideth for ever," (1 Peter 1:  
23,) as he infers from the words of Isaiah, (Is. 40: 6.) Now when  
God, in ancient times, bound the Jews to him by this sacred bond,  
there cannot be a doubt that he separated them unto the hope of  
eternal life. When I say that they embraced the word which brought  
them nearer to God, I refer not to that general method of  
communication which is diffused through heaven and earth, and all  
the creatures of the world, and which, though it quickens all  
things, each according to its nature, rescues none from the bondage  
of corruption. I refer to that special mode of communication by  
which the minds of the pious are both enlightened in the knowledge  
of God, and, in a manner, linked to him. Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham,  
and the other patriarchs, having been united to God by this  
illumination of the word, I say there cannot be the least doubt that  
entrance was given them into the immortal kingdom of God. They had  
that solid participation in God which cannot exist without the  
blessing of everlasting life.  
    8. If the point still seems somewhat involved, let us pass to  
the form of the covenant, which will not only satisfy calm thinkers,  
but sufficiently establish the ignorance of gainsayers. The covenant  
which God always made with his servants was this, "I will walk among  
you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people," (Lev. 26:  
12.) These words, even as the prophets are wont to expound them,  
comprehend life and salvation, and the whole sum of blessedness. For  
David repeatedly declares, and with good reason, "Happy is that  
people whose God is the Lord." "Blessed is the nation whose God is  
the Lord; and the people whom he has chosen for his own  
inheritance," (Psalm 144: 15; 33: 12;) and this not merely in  
respect of earthly happiness, but because he rescues from death,  
constantly preserves, and, with eternal mercy, visits those whom he  
has adopted for his people. As is said in other prophets, "Art not  
thou from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not  
die." "The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is  
our king; he will save us" "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like  
unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?" (Hab. 1: 12 ; Isaiah 33: 22;  
Deut. 33: 29.) But not to labour superfluously, the prophets are  
constantly reminding us that no good thing and, consequently, no  
assurance of salvation, is wanting, provided the Lord is our God.  
And justly. For if his face, the moment it hath shone upon us, is a  
perfect pledge of salvation, how can he manifest himself to any one  
as his God, without opening to him the treasures of salvation? The  
terms on which God makes himself ours is to dwell in the midst of  
us, as he declared by Moses, (Lev. 26: 11.) But such presence cannot  
be enjoyed without life being, at the same time, possessed along  
with it. And though nothing more had been expressed, they had a  
sufficiently clear promise of spiritual life in these words, "I am  
your God," (Exod. 6: 7.) For he declared that he would be a God not  
to their bodies only, but specially to their souls. Souls, however,  
if not united to God by righteousness, remain estranged from him in  
death. On the other hand, that union, wherever it exists, will bring  
perpetual salvation with it.  
    9. To this we may add, that he not only declared he was, but  
also promised that he would be, their God. By this their hope was  
extended beyond present good, and stretched forward into eternity.  
Moreover, that this observance of the future had the effect, appears  
from the many passages in which the faithful console themselves not  
only in their present evils, but also for the future, by calling to  
mind that God was never to desert them. Moreover, in regard to the  
second part of the promise, viz., the blessing of God, its extending  
beyond the limits of the present life was still more clearly  
confirmed by the words, I will be the God of your seed after you,  
(Gen. 17: 7.) If he was to manifest his favour to the dead by doing  
good to their posterity, much less would he deny his favour to  
themselves. God is not like men, who transfer their love to the  
children of their friends, because the opportunity of bestowing kind  
offices as they wished upon themselves is interrupted by death. But  
God, whose kindness is not impeded by death, does not deprive the  
dead of the benefit of his mercy, which, on their account, he  
continues to a thousand generations. God, therefore, was pleased to  
give a striking proof of the abundance and greatness of his goodness  
which they were to enjoy after death, when he described it as  
overflowing to all their posterity, (Exod. 20: 6.) The truth of this  
promise was sealed, and in a manner completed, when, long after the  
death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he called himself their God,  
(Exod. 20: 6.) And why? Was not the name absurd if they had  
perished? It would have been just the same as if he had said, I am  
the God of men who exist not. Accordingly, the Evangelists relate  
that, by this very argument, our Saviour refuted the Sadducees,  
(Matth. 22: 23; Luke 20: 32,) who were, therefore, unable to deny  
that the resurrection of the dead was attested by Moses, inasmuch as  
he had taught them that all the saints are in his hand, (Deut. 33:  
3.) Whence it is easy to infer that death is not the extinction of  
those who are taken under the tutelage, guardianship, and protection  
of him who is the disposer of life and death.  
    10. Let us now see (and on this the controversy principally  
turns) whether or not believers themselves were so instructed by the  
Lord, as to feel that they had elsewhere a better life, and to  
aspire to it while disregarding the present. First, the mode of life  
which heaven had imposed upon them made it a constant exercise, by  
which they were reminded, that if in this world only they had hope,  
they were of all men the most miserable. Adam, most unhappy even in  
the mere remembrance of his lost felicity, with difficulty supplies  
his wants by anxious labours; and that the divine curse might not be  
restricted to bodily labour, his only remaining solace becomes a  
source of the deepest grief: Of two sons, the one is torn from him  
by the parricidal hand of his brother; while the other, who  
survives, causes detestation and horror by his very look. Abel,  
cruelly murdered in the very flower of his days, is an example of  
the calamity which had come upon man. While the whole world are  
securely living in luxury, Noah, with much fatigue, spends a great  
part of his life in building an ark. He escapes death, but by  
greater troubles than a hundred deaths could have given. Besides his  
ten months' residence in the ark, as in a kind of sepulchre, nothing  
could have been more unpleasant than to have remained so long pent  
up among the filth of beasts. After escaping these difficulties he  
falls into a new cause of sorrow. He sees himself mocked by his own  
son, and is forced, with his own mouth, to curse one whom, by the  
great kindness of God, he had received safe from the deluge.  
    11. Abraham alone ought to be to us equal to tens of thousands  
if we consider his faith, which is set before us as the best model  
of believing, to whose race also we must be held to belong in order  
that we may be the children of God. What could be more absurd than  
that Abraham should be the father of all the faithful, and not even  
occupy the meanest corner among them? He cannot be denied a place in  
the list; nay, he cannot be denied one of the most honourable places  
in it, without the destruction of the whole Church. Now, as regards  
his experience in life, the moment he is called by the command of  
God, he is torn away from friends, parents, and country, objects in  
which the chief happiness of life is deemed to consist, as if it had  
been the fixed purpose of the Lord to deprive him of all the sources  
of enjoyment. No sooner does he enter the land in which he was  
ordered to dwell, than he is driven from it by famine. In the  
country to which he retires to obtain relief, he is obliged, for his  
personal safety, to expose his wife to prostitution. This must have  
been more bitter than many deaths. After returning to the land of  
his habitation, he is again expelled by famine. What is the  
happiness of inhabiting a land where you must so often suffer from  
hunger, nay, perish from famine, unless you flee from it? Then,  
again, with Abimelech, he is reduced to the same necessity of saving  
his head by the loss of his wife, (Gen. 12: 12.) While he wanders up  
and down uncertain for many years, he is compelled, by the constant  
quarrelling of servants to part with his nephew, who was to him as a  
son. This departure must doubtless have cost him a pang something  
like the cutting off of a limb. Shortly after, he learns that his  
nephew is carried off captive by the enemy. Wherever he goes, he  
meets with savage-hearted neighbours, who will not even allow him to  
drink of the wells which he has dug with great labour. For he would  
not have purchased the use from the king of Gerar if he had not been  
previously prohibited. After he had reached the verge of life, he  
sees himself childless, (the bitterest and most unpleasant feeling  
to old age,) until, beyond expectation, Ishmael is born; and yet he  
pays dearly for his birth in the reproaches of Sarah, as if he was  
the cause of domestic disturbance by encouraging the contumacy of a  
female slave. At length Isaac is born, but in return, the first-born  
Ishmael is displaced, and almost hostilely driven forth and  
abandoned. Isaac remains alone, and the good man, now worn out with  
age, has his heart upon him, when shortly after he is ordered to  
offer him up in sacrifice. What can the human mind conceive more  
dreadful than for the father to be the murderer of his son? Had he  
been carried off by disease, who would not have thought the old man  
much to be pitied in having a son given to him in mockery, and in  
having his grief for being childless doubled to him? Had he been  
slain by some stranger, this would, indeed, have been much worse  
than natural death. But all these calamities are little compared  
with the murder of him by his father's hand. Thus, in fine, during  
the whole course of his life, he was harassed and tossed in such a  
way, that any one desirous to give a picture of a calamitous life  
could not find one more appropriate. Let it not be said that he was  
not so very distressed, because he at length escaped from all these  
tempests. He is not said to lead a happy life who, after infinite  
difficulties during a long period, at last laboriously works out his  
escape, but he who calmly enjoys present blessings without any alloy  
of suffering.  
    12. Isaac is less afflicted, but he enjoys very few of the  
sweets of life. He also meets with those vexations which do not  
permit a man to be happy on the earth. Famine drives him from the  
land of Canaan; his wife is torn from his bosom; his neighbours are  
ever and anon annoying and vexing him in all kinds of ways, so that  
he is even obliged to fight for water. At home, he suffers great  
annoyance from his daughters-in-law; he is stung by the dissension  
of his sons, and has no other cure for this great evil than to send  
the son whom he had blessed into exile, (Gen. 26: 27:) Jacob, again,  
is nothing but a striking example of the greatest wretchedness. His  
boyhood is passed most uncomfortably at home amidst the threats and  
alarms of his elder brother, and to these he is at length forced to  
give way, (Gen. 27: 28:) A fugitive from his parents and his native  
soil, in addition to the hardships of exile, the treatment he  
receives from his uncle Laban is in no respect milder and more  
humane, (Gen. 29.) As if it had been little to spend seven years of  
hard and rigorous servitude, he is cheated in the matter of a wife.  
For the sake of another wife, he must undergo a new servitude,  
during which, as he himself complains, the heat of the sun scorches  
him by day, while in frost and cold he spends the sleepless night,  
(Gen. 31: 40, 41.) For twenty years he spends this bitter life, and  
daily suffers new injuries from his father-in-law. Nor is he quiet  
at home, which he sees disturbed and almost broken up by the  
hatreds, quarrels, and jealousies of his wives. When he is ordered  
to return to his native land, he is obliged to take his departure in  
a manner resembling an ignominious flight. Even then he is unable to  
escape the injustice of his father-in-law, but in the midst of his  
journey is assailed by him with contumely and reproach, (Gen. 31:  
20.) By and bye a much greater difficulty befalls him, (Gen. 32,  
33.) For as he approaches his brother, he has as many forms of death  
in prospect as a cruel foe could invent. Hence, while waiting for  
his arrival, he is distracted and excruciated by direful terrors;  
and when he comes into his sight, he falls at his feet like one half  
dead, until he perceives him to be more placable than he had  
ventured to hope. Moreover, when he first enters the land, he is  
bereaved of Rachel his only beloved wife. Afterwards he hears that  
the son whom she had borne him, and whom he loved more than all his  
other children, is devoured by a wild beast, (Gen. 37: 33.) How deep  
the sorrow caused by his death he himself evinces, when, after long  
tears, he obstinately refuses to be comforted, declaring that he  
will go down to the grave to his son mourning. In the meantime, what  
vexation, anxiety, and grief, must he have received from the  
carrying off and dishonour of his daughter, and the cruel revenge of  
his sons, which not only brought him into bad odour with all the  
inhabitants of the country, but exposed him to the greatest danger  
of extermination? (Gen. 34) Then follows the horrid wickedness of  
Reuben his first-born, wickedness than which none could be committed  
more grievous, (Gen. 36: 22.) The dishonour of a wife being one of  
the greatest of calamities, what must be said when the atrocity is  
perpetrated by a son? Some time after, the family is again polluted  
with incest, (Gen. 38: 18.) All these disgraces might have crushed a  
mind otherwise the most firm and unbroken by misfortune. Towards the  
end of his life, when he seeks relief for himself and his family  
from famine, he is struck by the announcement of a new misfortune,  
that one of his sons is detained in prison, and that to recover him  
he must entrust to others his dearly beloved Benjamin, (Gen. 42,  
43.) Who can think that in such a series of misfortunes, one moment  
was given him in which he could breathe secure? Accordingly, his own  
best witness, he declares to Pharaoh, "Few and evil have the days of  
the years of my life been," (Gen. 47: 9.) In declaring that he had  
spent his life in constant wretchedness, he denies that he had  
experienced the prosperity which had been promised him by the Lord.  
Jacob, therefore, either formed a malignant and ungrateful estimate  
of the Lord's favour, or he truly declared that he had lived  
miserable on the earth. If so, it follows that his hope could not  
have been fixed on earthly objects.  
    13. If these holy Patriarchs expected a happy life from the  
hand of God, (and it is indubitable that they did,) they viewed and  
contemplated a different happiness from that of a terrestrial life.  
This is admirably shown by an Apostle, "By faith he [Abraham]  
sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling  
in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same  
promise: for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose  
builder and maker is God." "These all died in faith, not having  
received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were  
persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were  
strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things  
declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had  
been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might  
have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better  
country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be  
called their God: for he has prepared for them a city," (Heb. 11: 9,  
10, 13-16.) They had been duller than blocks in so pertinaciously  
pursuing promises, no hope of which appeared upon the earth, if they  
had not expected their completion elsewhere. The thing which the  
Apostle specially urges, and not without reason, is, that they  
called this world a pilgrimage, as Moses also relates, (Gen. 47: 9.)  
If they were pilgrims and strangers in the land of Canaan, where is  
the promise of the Lord which appointed them heirs of it? It is  
clear, therefore, that the promise of possession which they had  
received looked farther. Hence, they did not acquire a foot breadth  
in the land of Canaan, except for sepulture; thus testifying that  
they hoped not to receive the benefit of the promise till after  
death. And this is the reason why Jacob set so much value on being  
buried there, that he took Joseph bound by oath to see it done; and  
why Joseph wished that his bones should some ages later, long after  
they had mouldered into dust, be carried thither, (Gen. 47: 29, 30;  
50: 25.)  
    14. In short, it is manifest, that in the whole course of their  
lives, they had an eye to future blessedness. Why should Jacob have  
aspired so earnestly to primogeniture, and intrigued for it at so  
much risk, if it was to bring him only exile and destitution, and no  
good at all, unless he looked to some higher blessing? And that this  
was his feeling, he declared in one of the last sentences he  
uttered, "I have waited for thy salvation, O God," (Gen. 49: 18.)  
What salvation could he have waited for, when he felt himself  
breathing his last, if he did not see in death the beginning of a  
new life? And why talk of saints and the children of God, when even  
one, who otherwise strove to resist the truth, was not devoid of  
some similar impression? For what did Balaam mean when he said, "Let  
me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his,"  
(Num. 23: 10,) unless he felt convinced of what David afterward  
declares, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his  
saints?" (Ps. 116: 15; 34: 12.) If death were the goal and ultimate  
limit, no distinction could be observed between the righteous and  
the wicked. The true distinction is the different lot which awaits  
them after death.  
    15. We have not yet come farther down than the books of Moses,  
whose only office, according to our opponents, was to induce the  
people to worship God, by setting before them the fertility of the  
land, and its general abundance; and yet to every one who does not  
voluntarily shun the light, there is clear evidence of a spiritual  
covenant. But if we come down to the Prophets, the kingdom of Christ  
and eternal life are there exhibited in the fullest splendour.  
First, David, as earlier in time, in accordance with the order of  
the Divine procedure, spoke of heavenly mysteries more obscurely  
than they, and yet with what clearness and certainty does he point  
to it in all he says. The value he put upon his earthly habitation  
is attested by these words, "I am a stranger with thee, and a  
sojourner, as all my fathers were. Verily every man at his best  
estate is altogether vanity. Surely every man walketh in a vain  
show. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee," (Ps. 39:  
12, 5, 6, 7.) He who confesses that there is nothing solid or stable  
on the earth, and yet firmly retains his hope in God, undoubtedly  
contemplates a happiness reserved for him elsewhere. To this  
contemplation he is wont to invite believers whenever he would have  
them to be truly comforted. For, in another passages after speaking  
of human life as a fleeting and evanescent show, he adds, "The mercy  
of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear  
him," (Ps. 103: 17.) To this there is a corresponding passage in  
another psalm, "Of old thou hast laid the foundation of the earth;  
and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but  
thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as  
a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but  
thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of  
thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established  
before thee," (Ps. 102: 25-28.) If, notwithstanding of the  
destruction of the heavens and the earth, the godly cease not to be  
established before God, it follows, that their salvation is  
connected with his eternity. But this hope could have no existence,  
if it did not lean upon the promise as expounded by Isaiah, "The  
heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old  
like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like  
manner; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness  
shall not be abolished," (Isa. 51: 6.) Perpetuity is here attributed  
to righteousness and salvation, not as they reside in God, but as  
they are experienced by men.  
    16. Nor can those things which are everywhere said as to the  
prosperous success of believers be understood in any other sense  
than as referring to the manifestation of celestial glory. Of this  
nature are the following passages: "He preserveth the souls of his  
saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is  
sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." "His  
righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with  
honour -- the desire of the wicked shall perish." "Surely the  
righteous shall give thanks unto thy name; the upright shall dwell  
in thy presence." "The righteous shall be in everlasting  
remembrance." "The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants." But the  
Lord often leaves his servants, not only to be annoyed by the  
violence of the wicked, but to be lacerated and destroyed; allows  
the good to languish in obscurity and squalid poverty, while the  
ungodly shine forth, as it were, among the stars; and even by  
withdrawing the light of his countenance does not leave them lasting  
joy. Wherefore, David by no means disguises the fact, that if  
believers fix their eyes on the present condition of the world, they  
will be grievously tempted to believe that with God integrity has  
neither favour nor reward; so much does impiety prosper and  
flourish, while the godly are oppressed with ignominy, poverty,  
contempt, and every kind of cross. The Psalmist says, "But as for  
me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I  
was envious of the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the  
wicked." At length, after a statement of the case, he concludes,  
"When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me: until I  
went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end," (Ps.  
73: 2, 3, 16, 17.)  
    17. Therefore, even from this confession of David, let us learn  
that the holy fathers under the Old Testament were not ignorant that  
in this world God seldom or never gives his servants the fulfilment  
of what is promised them, and therefore has directed their minds to  
his sanctuary, where the blessings not exhibited in the present  
shadowy life are treasured up for them. This sanctuary was the final  
judgement of God, which, as they could not at all discern it by the  
eye, they were contented to apprehend by faith. Inspired with this  
confidence, they doubted not that whatever might happen in the  
world, a time would at length arrive when the divine promises would  
be fulfilled. This is attested by such expressions as these: "As for  
me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied,  
when I awake, with thy likeness," (Psalm 17: 15.) "I am like a green  
olive tree in the house of God," (Psalm 52: 8.) Again, "The  
righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a  
cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord  
shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring  
forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing," (Psalm  
92: 12-14.) He had exclaimed a little before "O Lord, how great are  
thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep." "When the wicked spring  
as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish: it  
is that they shall be destroyed for ever." Where was this splendour  
and beauty of the righteous, unless when the appearance of this  
world was changed by the manifestation of the heavenly kingdom?  
Lifting their eyes to the eternal world, they despised the momentary  
hardships and calamities of the present life, and confidently broke  
out into these exclamations: "He shall never suffer the righteous to  
be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of  
destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their  
days," (Psalm 55: 22, 23.) Where in this world is there a pit of  
eternal destruction to swallow up the wicked, of whose happiness it  
is elsewhere said, "They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment  
go down to the grave?" (Job 21: 13.) Where, on the other hand, is  
the great stability of the saints, who, as David complains, are not  
only disturbed, but everywhere utterly bruised and oppressed? It is  
here. He set before his eyes not merely the unstable vicissitudes of  
the world, tossed like a troubled sea, but what the Lord is to do  
when he shall one day sit to fix the eternal constitution of heaven  
and earth, as he in another place elegantly describes: "They that  
trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of  
their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor  
give to God a ransom for him." "For he sees that wise men die,  
likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their  
wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall  
continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations;  
they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless, man being  
in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their  
way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Like  
sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the  
upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their  
beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling," (Psalm 49:  
6, 7, 10-14.) By this derision of the foolish for resting satisfied  
with the slippery and fickle pleasures, of the world, he shows that  
the wise must seek for a very different felicity. But he more  
clearly unfolds the hidden doctrine of the resurrection when he sets  
up a kingdom to the righteous after the wicked are cast down and  
destroyed. For what, pray, are we to understand by the "morning,"  
unless it be the revelation of a new life, commencing when the  
present comes to an end?  
    18. Hence the consideration which believers employed as a  
solace for their sufferings, and a remedy for their patience: "His  
anger endureth but a moment: in his favour is life," (Psalm 30: 5.)  
How did their afflictions, which continued almost throughout the  
whole course of life, terminate in a moment? Where did they see the  
long duration of the divine benignity, of which they had only the  
slightest taste? Had they clung to earth, they could have found  
nothing of the kind; but looking to heaven, they saw that the period  
during which the Lord afflicted his saints was but a moment, and  
that the mercies with which he gathers them are everlasting: on the  
other hand, they foresaw that for the wicked, who only dreamed of  
happiness for a day, there was reserved an eternal and never-ending  
destruction. Hence those expressions: "The memory of the just is  
blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot," (Prov. 10: 7.)  
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,"  
(Psalm 116: 15.) Again in Samuel: "The Lord will keep the feet of  
his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness," (1 Sam. 2:  
9;) showing they knew well, that however much the righteous might be  
tossed about, their latter end was life and peace; that how pleasant  
soever the delights of the wicked, they gradually lead down to the  
chambers of death. They accordingly designated the death of such  
persons as the death "of the uncircumcised," that is, persons cut  
off from the hope of resurrection, (Ezek. 28: 10; 31: 18.) Hence  
David could not imagine a greater curse than this: "Let them be  
blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the  
righteous," (Psalm 69: 28.)  
    19. The most remarkable passage of all is that of Job: "I know  
that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day  
upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body,  
yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and  
mine eyes shall behold, and not another," (Job 19: 25-27.) Those who  
would make a display of their acuteness, pretend that these words  
are to be understood not of the last resurrection, but of the day  
when Job expected that God would deal more gently with him. Granting  
that this is partly meant, we shall, however, compel them, whether  
they will or not, to admit that Job never could have attained to  
such fulness of hope if his thoughts had risen no higher than the  
earth. It must, therefore, be confessed, that he who saw that the  
Redeemer would be present with him when lying in the grave, must  
have raised his eyes to a future immortality. To those who think  
only of the present life, death is the extremity of despair; but it  
could not destroy the hope of Job. "Though he slay me," said he,  
"yet will I trust in him," (Job 13: 15.) Let no trifler here burst  
in with the objection that these are the sayings of a few, and do  
not by any means prove that there was such a doctrine among the  
Jews. To this my instant answer is, that these few did not in such  
passages give utterance to some hidden wisdom, to which only  
distinguished individuals were admitted privately and apart from  
others, but that having been appointed by the Holy Spirit to be the  
teachers of the people, they openly promulgated the mysteries of  
God, which all in common behaved to learn as the principles of  
public religion. When, therefore, we hear that those passages in  
which the Holy Spirit spoke so distinctly and clearly of the  
spiritual life were public oracles in the Jewish Church, it were  
intolerably perverse to confine them entirely to a carnal covenant  
relating merely to the earth and earthly riches.  
    20. When we descend to the later prophets, we have it in our  
power to expatiate freely as in our own field. If, when David, Job,  
and Samuel, were in question, the victory was not difficult, much  
easier is it here; for the method and economy which God observed in  
administering the covenant of his mercy was, that the nearer the  
period of its full exhibition approached, the greater the additions  
which were daily made to the light of revelation. Accordingly, at  
the beginning, when the first promise of salvation was given to  
Adam, (Gen. 3: 15,) only a few slender sparks beamed forth:  
additions being afterwards made, a greater degree of light began to  
be displayed, and continued gradually to increase and shine with  
greater brightness, until at length all the clouds being dispersed,  
Christ the Sun of righteousness arose, and with full refulgence  
illumined all the earth, (Mal. 4.) In appealing to the Prophets,  
therefore, we can have no fear of any deficiency of proof; but as I  
see an immense mass of materials, which would occupy us much longer  
than compatible with the nature of our present work, (the subject,  
indeed, would require a large volume,) and as I trust, that by what  
has already been said, I have paved the way, so that every reader of  
the very least discernment may proceed without stumbling, I will  
avoid a prolixity, for which at present there is little necessity;  
only reminding my readers to facilitate the entrance by means of the  
key which was formerly put into their hands, (supra, Chap. 4 sec. 3,  
4;) namely, that whenever the Prophets make mention of the happiness  
of believers, (a happiness of which scarcely any vestiges are  
discernible in the present life,) they must have recourse to this  
distinction: that the better to commend the Divine goodness to the  
people, they used temporal blessings as a kind of lineaments to  
shadow it forth, and yet gave such a portrait as might lift their  
minds above the earth, the elements of this world, and all that will  
perish, and compel them to think of the blessedness of a future and  
spiritual life.  
    21. One example will suffice. When the Israelites were carried  
away to Babylon, their dispersion seemed to be the next thing to  
death, and they could scarcely be dissuaded from thinking that  
Ezekiel's prophecy of their restoration (Ezek. 37: 4) was a mere  
fable, because it seemed to them the same thing as if he had  
prophesied that putrid caresses would be raised to life. The Lord,  
in order to show that, even in that case, there was nothing to  
prevent him from making room for his kindness, set before the  
prophet in vision a field covered with dry bones, to which, by the  
mere power of his word, he in one moment restored life and strength.  
The vision served, indeed, to correct the unbelief of the Jews at  
the time, but it also reminded them how much farther the power of  
the Lord extended than to the bringing back of the people, since by  
a single nod it could so easily give life to dry scattered bones.  
Wherefore, the passage may be fitly compared with one in Isaiah,  
"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they  
arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the  
dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my  
people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee:  
hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation  
be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish  
the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also  
shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain," (Isa.  
26: 19-21.)  
    22. It were absurd however to interpret all the passages on a  
similar principle; for there are several which point without any  
veil to the future immortality which awaits believers in the kingdom  
of heaven. Some of them we have already quoted, and there are many  
others, but especially the following two. The one is in Isaiah, "As  
the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain  
before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.  
And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and  
from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before  
me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the  
caresses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their  
worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they  
shall be an abhorring unto all flesh," (Isa. 66: 22-24.) The other  
passage is in Daniel. "At that time shall Michael stand up, the  
great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and  
there shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since  
there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy  
people shall be delivered, every one shall be found written in the  
book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall  
awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting  
contempt," (Dan. 12: 1, 2.)  
    23. In proving the two remaining points, viz., that the  
Patriarchs had Christ as the pledge of their covenant, and placed  
all their hope of blessing in him, as they are clearer, and not so  
much controverted, I will be less particular. Let us then lay it  
down confidently as a truth which no engines of the devil can  
destroy - that the Old Testament or covenant which the Lord made  
with the people of Israel was not confined to earthly objects, but  
contained a promise of spiritual and eternal life, the expectation  
of which behaved to be impressed on the minds of all who truly  
consented to the covenant. Let us put far from us the senseless and  
pernicious notion, that the Lord proposed nothing to the Jews, or  
that they sought nothing but full supplies of food, carnal delights,  
abundance of wealth, external influence, a numerous offspring, and  
all those things which our animal nature deems valuable. For, even  
now, the only kingdom of heaven which our Lord Jesus Christ promises  
to his followers, is one in which they may sit down with Abraham,  
and Isaac and Jacob, (Matth. 8: 11;) and Peter declared of the Jews  
of his day, that they were heirs of gospel grace because they were  
the sons of the prophets, and comprehended in the covenant which the  
Lord of old made with his people, (Acts 3: 25.) And that this might  
not be attested by words merely, our Lord also approved it by act,  
(Matth. 27: 52.) At the moment when he rose again, he deigned to  
make many of the saints partakers of his resurrection, and allowed  
them to be seen in the city; thus giving a sure earnest, that every  
thing which he did and suffered in the purchase of eternal salvation  
belonged to believers under the Old Testament, just as much as to  
us. Indeed, as Peter testifies, they were endued with the same  
spirit of faith by which we are regenerated to life, (Acts 15: 8.)  
When we hear that that spirit, which is, as it were, a kind of spark  
of immortality in us, (whence it is called the "earnest" of our  
inheritance, Eph. 1: 14,) dwelt in like manner in them, how can we  
presume to deny them the inheritance? Hence, it is the more  
wonderful how the Sadducees of old fell into such a degree of  
sottishness as to deny both the resurrection and the substantive  
existence of spirits, both of which where attested to them by so  
many striking passages of Scripture. Nor would the stupidity of the  
whole nation in the present day, in expecting an earthly reign of  
the Messiah, be less wonderful, had not the Scriptures foretold this  
long before as the punishment which they were to suffer for  
rejecting the Gospel, God, by a just judgement, blinding minds which  
voluntarily invite darkness, by rejecting the offered light of  
heaven. They read, and are constantly turning over the pages of  
Moses, but a veil prevents them from seeing the light which beams  
forth in his countenance, (2 Cor. 3: 14;) and thus to them he will  
remain covered and veiled until they are converted to Christ,  
between whom and Moses they now study, as much as in them lies, to  
maintain a separation.  
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, Part 11 
(continued in part 12...) 
file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvin2-11.txt