Calvin, Institutes, Vol.2, Part 12
(... continued from part 11) 

Chapter 11. 
11. The difference between the two Testaments. 
    This chapter consists principally of three parts. I. Five 
points of difference between the Old and the New Testament, sec. 
1-11. II. The last of these points being, that the Old Testament 
belonged to the Jews only, whereas the New Testament belongs to all; 
the calling of the Gentiles is shortly considered, sec. 12. III. A 
reply to two objections usually taken to what is here taught 
concerning the difference between the Old and the New Testaments, 
sec. 13, 14. 
1. Five points of difference between the Old and the New Testaments. 
    These belong to the mode of administration rather than the 
    substance. First difference. In the Old Testament the heavenly 
    inheritance is exhibited under temporal blessings; in the New, 
    aids of this description are not employed. 
2. Proof of this first difference from the simile of an heir in 
    pupillarity, as in Gal. 4: 1. 
3. This the reason why the Patriarchs, under the Law, set a higher 
    value on this life and the blessings of it, and dreaded the 
    punishments, these being even more striking. Why severe and 
    sudden punishments existed under the Law. 
4. A second difference. The Old Testament typified Christ under 
    ceremonies. The New exhibits the immediate truth and the whole 
    body. The scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews in explaining 
    this difference. Definition of the Old Testament. 
5. Hence the Law our Schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. 
G. Notwithstanding, among those under the Law, some of the strongest 
    examples of faith are exhibited, their equals being scarcely to 
    be found in the Christian Church. The ordinary method of the 
    divine dispensation to be here attended to. These excellent 
    individuals placed under the Law, and aided by ceremonies, that 
    they might behold and hail Christ afar off. 
7. Third difference. The Old Testament is literal, the New 
    spiritual. This difference considered first generally. 
8. Next treated specially, on a careful examination of the Apostle's 
    text. A threefold antithesis. The Old Testament is literal, 
    deadly, temporary. The New is spiritual, quickening, eternal. 
    Difference between the letter and the spirit. 
9. Fourth difference. The Old Testament belongs to bondage, the New 
    to liberty. This confirmed by three passages of Scripture. Two 
    objections answered. 
10. Distinction between the three last differences and the first. 
    Confirmation of the above from Augustine. Condition of the 
    patriarchs under the Old Testament. 
11. Fifth difference. The Old Testament belonged to one people only, 
    the New to all. 
12. The second part of the chapter depending on the preceding 
    section. Of the calling of the Gentiles. Why the calling of the 
    Gentiles scented to the Apostles so strange and new. 
13. The last part of the chapter. Two objections considered. 1. God 
    being immutable, cannot consistently disapprove what he once 
    ordered. Answer confirmed by a passage of Scripture. 
14. Objections. 2. God could at first have transacted with the Jews 
    as he now does with Christians. Answer, showing the absurdity 
    of this objection. Another answer founded on a just 
    consideration of the divine will and the dispensation of grace. 
    1. What, then? you will say, Is there no difference between the 
Old and the New Testaments? What is to become of the many passages 
of Scripture in which they are contrasted as things differing most 
widely from each other? I readily admit the differences which are 
pointed out in Scripture, but still hold that they derogate in no 
respect from their established unity, as will be seen after we have 
considered them in their order. These differences (so far as I have 
been able to observe them and can remember) seem to be chiefly four, 
or, if you choose to add a fifth, I have no objections. I hold and 
think I will be able to show, that they all belong to the mode of 
administration rather than to the substance. In this way, there is 
nothing in them to prevent the promises of the Old and New Testament 
from remaining the same, Christ being the foundation of both. The 
first difference then is, that though, in old time, the Lord was 
pleased to direct the thoughts of his people, and raise their minds 
to the heavenly inheritance, yet, that their hope of it might be the 
better maintained, he held it forth, and, in a manner, gave a 
foretaste of it under earthly blessings, whereas the gift of future 
life, now more clearly and lucidly revealed by the Gospel, leads our 
minds directly to meditate upon it, the inferior mode of exercise 
formerly employed in regard to the Jews being now laid aside. Those 
who attend not to the divine purpose in this respect, suppose that 
God's ancient people ascended no higher than the blessings which 
were promised to the body. They hear the land of Canaan so often 
named as the special, and as it were the only, reward of the Divine 
Law to its worshipers; they hear that the severest punishment which 
the Lord denounces against the transgressors of the Law is expulsion 
from the possession of that land and dispersion into other 
countries; they see that this forms almost the sum of the blessings 
and curses declared by Moses; and from these things they confidently 
conclude that the Jews were separated from other nations not on 
their own account, but for another reason, viz., that the Christian 
Church might have an emblem in whose outward shape might be seen an 
evidence of spiritual things. But since the Scripture sometimes 
demonstrates that the earthly blessings thus bestowed were intended 
by God himself to guide them to a heavenly hope, it shows great 
unskilfulness, not to say dullness, not to attend to this mode of 
dispensation. The ground of controversy is this: our opponents hold 
that the land of Canaan was considered by the Israelites as supreme 
and final happiness, and now, since Christ was manifested, typifies 
to us the heavenly inheritance; whereas we maintain that, in the 
earthly possession which the Israelites enjoyed, they beheld, as in 
a mirror, the future inheritance which they believed to be reserved 
for them in heaven. 
    2. This will better appear from the similitude which Paul uses 
in Galatians, (Gal. 4: 1.) He compares the Jewish nation to an heir 
in pupillarity, who, as yet unfit to govern himself, follows the 
direction of a tutor or guide to whose charge he has been committed. 
Though this simile refers especially to ceremonies, there is nothing 
to prevent us from applying it most appropriately here also. The 
same inheritance was destined to them as to us, but from nonage they 
were incapable of entering to it, and managing it. They had the same 
Church, though it was still in puerility. The Lord, therefore kept 
them under this tutelage, giving them spiritual promises, not clear 
and simple, but typified by earthly objects. Hence, when he chose 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their posterity, to the hope of 
immortality, he promised them the land of Canaan for an inheritance, 
not that it might be the limit of their hopes, but that the view of 
it might train and confirm them in the hope of that true 
inheritance, which, as yet, appeared not. And, to guard against 
delusion, they received a better promise, which attested that this 
earth was not the highest measure of the divine kindness. Thus, 
Abraham is not allowed to keep down his thoughts to the promised 
land: by a greater promise his views are carried upward to the Lord. 
He is thus addressed, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy 
exceeding great reward," (Gen. 15: l.) Here we see that the Lord is 
the final reward promised to Abraham that he might not seek a 
fleeting and evanescent reward in the elements of this world, but 
look to one which was incorruptible. A promise of the land is 
afterwards added for no other reason than that it might be a symbol 
of the divine benevolence, and a type of the heavenly inheritance, 
as the saints declare their understanding to have been. Thus David 
rises from temporal blessings to the last and highest of all, "My 
flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and 
my portion for ever." "My heart and my flesh crieth out for the 
living God," (Ps. 73: 26; 84: 2.) Again, "The Lord is the portion of 
mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot," (Ps. 16: 
5.) Again "I cried unto thee O Lord: I said Thou art my refuge and 
my portion in the land of the living," (Ps. 142: 5.) Those who can 
venture to speak thus, assuredly declare that their hope rises 
beyond the world and worldly blessings. This future blessedness, 
however, the prophets often describe under a type which the Lord had 
taught them. In this way are to be understood the many passages in 
Job (Job 18: 17) and Isaiah, to the effect, That the righteous shall 
inherit the earth, that the wicked shall be driven out of it, that 
Jerusalem will abound in all kinds of riches, and Sion overflow with 
every species at abundance. In strict propriety, all these things 
obviously apply not to the land of our pilgrimage, nor to the 
earthly Jerusalem, but to the true country, the heavenly city of 
believers, in which the Lord has commanded blessing and life for 
evermore, (Ps. 133: 3.) 
    3. Hence the reason why the saints under the Old Testament set 
a higher value on this mortal life and its blessings than would now 
be meet. For, though they well knew, that in their race they were 
not to halt at it as the goal, yet, perceiving that the Lord, in 
accommodation to their feebleness, had there imprinted the 
lineaments of his favour, it gave them greater delight than it could 
have done if considered only in itself. For, as the Lord, in 
testifying his good will towards believers by means of present 
blessings, then exhibited spiritual felicity under types and 
emblems, so, on the other hand, by temporal punishments he gave 
proofs of his judgement against the reprobate. Hence, by earthly 
objects, the favour of the Lord was displayed, as well as his 
punishment inflicted. The unskilful, not considering this analogy 
and correspondence (if I may so speak) between rewards and 
punishments, wonder that there is so much variance in God, that 
those who, in old time, were suddenly visited for their faults with 
severe and dreadful punishments, he now punishes much more rarely 
and less severely, as if he had laid aside his former anger, and, 
for this reason, they can scarcely help imagining, like the 
Manichees, that the God of the Old Testament was different from that 
of the New. But we shall easily disencumber ourselves of such doubts 
if we attend to that mode of divine administration to which I have 
adverted - that God was pleased to indicate and typify both the gift 
of future and eternal felicity by terrestrial blessings, as well as 
the dreadful nature of spiritual death by bodily punishments, at 
that time when he delivered his covenant to the Israelites as under 
a kind of veil. 
    4. Another distinction between the Old and New Testaments is in 
the types, the former exhibiting only the image of truth, while the 
reality was absent, the shadow instead of the substance, the latter 
exhibiting both the full truth and the entire body. Mention is 
usually made of this, whenever the New Testament is contrasted with 
the Old, but it is no where so fully treated as in the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, (chap. 7-10.) The Apostle is there arguing against 
those who thought that the observances of the Mosaic Law could not 
be abolished without producing the total ruin of religion. In order 
to refute this error, he adverts to what the Psalmist had foretold 
concerning the priesthood of Christ, (Ps. 110: 4.) seeing that an 
eternal priesthood is assigned to him, it is clear that the 
priesthood in which there was a daily succession of priests is 
abolished. And he proves that the institution of this new Priest 
must prevail, because confirmed by an oath. He afterwards adds, that 
a change of the priest necessarily led to a change of the covenant. 
And the necessity of this he confirms by the reason, that the 
weakness of the law was such, that it could make nothing perfect. He 
then goes on to show in what this weakness consists, namely, that it 
had external carnal observances which could not render the 
worshipers perfect in respect of conscience, because its sacrifices 
of beasts could neither take away sins nor procure true holiness. He 
therefore concludes that it was a shadow of good things to come, and 
not the very image of the things, and accordingly had no other 
office than to be an introduction to the better hope which is 
exhibited in the Gospel. 
    Here we may see in what respect the legal is compared with the 
evangelical covenant, the ministry of Christ with that of Moses. If 
the comparison referred to the substance of the promises, there 
would be a great repugnance between the two covenants; but since the 
nature of the case leads to a different view, we must follow it in 
order to discover the truth. Let us, therefore bring forward the 
covenant which God once ratified as eternal and unending. Its 
completion, whereby it is fixed and ratified, is Christ. Till such 
completion takes place, the Lord, by Moses, prescribes ceremonies 
which are, as it were formal symbols of confirmation. The point 
brought under discussion was, Whether or not the ceremonies ordained 
in the Law behaved to give way to Christ. Although these were merely 
accidents of the covenant, or at least additions and appendages, 
and, as they are commonly called, accessories, yet because they were 
the means of administering it, the name of covenant is applied to 
them, just as is done in the case of other sacraments. Hence, in 
general, the Old Testament is the name given to the solemn method of 
confirming the covenant comprehended under ceremonies and 
sacrifices. Since there is nothing substantial in it, until we look 
beyond it, the Apostle contends that it behaved to be annulled and 
become antiquated, (Heb. 7: 22,) to make room for Christ, the surety 
and mediator of a better covenant, by whom the eternal 
sanctification of the elect was once purchased, and the 
transgressions which remained under the Law wiped away. But if you 
prefer it, take it thus: the covenant of the Lord was old, because 
veiled by the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies; and 
it was therefore temporary, being, as it were in suspense until it 
received a firm and substantial confirmation. Then only did it 
become new and eternal when it was consecrated and established in 
the blood of Christ. Hence the Saviour, in giving the cup to his 
disciples in the last supper, calls it the cup of the new testament 
in his blood; intimating, that the covenant of God was truly 
realised, made new, and eternal, when it was sealed with his blood. 
    5. It is now clear in what sense the Apostle said, (Gal. 3: 24; 
4: 1,) that by the tutelage of the Law the Jews were conducted to 
Christ, before he was exhibited in the flesh. He confesses that they 
were sons and heirs of God, though, on account of nonage, they were 
placed under the guardianship of a tutor. It was fit, the Sun of 
Righteousness not yet having risen, that there should neither be so 
much light of revelation nor such clear understanding. The Lord 
dispensed the light of his word, so that they could behold it at a 
distance, and obscurely. Accordingly, this slender measure of 
intelligence is designated by Paul by the term childhood, which the 
Lord was pleased to train by the elements of this world, and 
external observances, until Christ should appear. Through him the 
knowledge of believers was to be matured. This distinction was noted 
by our Saviour himself when he said that the Law and the Prophets 
were until John, that from that time the gospel of the kingdom was 
preached, (Matth. 11: 13.) What did the Law and the Prophets deliver 
to the men of their time? They gave a foretaste of that wisdom which 
was one day to be clearly manifested, and showed it afar off. But 
where Christ can be pointed to with the finger, there the kingdom of 
God is manifested. In him are contained all the treasures of wisdom 
and understanding, and by these we penetrate almost to the very 
shrine of heaven. 
    6. There is nothing contrary to this in the fact, that in the 
Christian Church scarcely one is to be found who, in excellence of 
faith, can be compared to Abraham, and that the Prophets were so 
distinguished by the power of the Spirit, that even in the present 
day they give light to the whole world. For the question here is, 
not what grace the Lord conferred upon a few, but what was the 
ordinary method which he followed in teaching the people, and which 
even was employed in the case of those very prophets who were endued 
with special knowledge above others. For their preaching was both 
obscure as relating to distant objects, and was included in types. 
Moreover, however wonderful the knowledge displayed in them, as they 
were under the necessity of submitting to the tutelage common to all 
the people, they must also be ranked among children. Lastly, none of 
them ever had such a degree of discernment as not to savour somewhat 
of the obscurity of the age. Whence the words of our Saviour, "Many 
kings and prophets have desired to see the things which you see, and 
have not seen them, and to hear the things which ye hear, and have 
not heard them. Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, 
for they hear," (Matth. 13: 17.) And it was right that the presence 
of Christ should have this distinguishing feature, that by means of 
it the revelation of heavenly mysteries should be made more 
transparent. To the same effect is the passage which we formerly 
quoted from the First Epistle of Peter, that to them it was revealed 
that their labour should be useful not so much to themselves as to 
our age. 
    7. I proceed to the third distinction, which is thus expressed 
by Jeremiah: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will 
make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of 
Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, 
in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the 
land of Egypt; (which my covenant they brake, although I was an 
husband unto them, saith the Lord;) but this shall be the covenant 
that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith 
the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in 
their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man 
his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from 
the least of them unto the greatest of them," (Jer. 31: 31-34.) From 
these words, the Apostle took occasion to institute a comparison 
between the Law and the Gospel, calling the one a doctrine of the 
letter, the other a doctrine of the spirit; describing the one as 
formed on tables of stone, the other on tables of the heart; the one 
the preaching of death, the other of life; the one of condemnation, 
the other of justification; the one made void, the other permanent, 
(2 Cor. 3: 5, 6.) The object of the Apostle being to explain the 
meaning of the Prophet, the worlds of the one furnish us with the 
means of ascertaining what was understood by both. And yet there is 
some difference between them. For the Apostle speaks of the Law more 
disparagingly than the Prophet. This he does not simply in respect 
of the Law itself, but because there were some false zealots of the 
Law who, by a perverse zeal for ceremonies, obscured the clearness 
of the Gospel, he treats of the nature of the Law with reference to 
their error and foolish affection. It will, therefore, be proper to 
attend to this peculiarity in Paul. Both, however, as they are 
contrasting the Old and New Testament, consider nothing in the Law 
but what is peculiar to it. For example, the Law everywhere contains 
promises of mercy; but as these are adventitious to it, they do not 
enter into the account of the Law as considered only in its own 
nature. All which is attributed to it is, that it commands what is 
right, prohibits crimes, holds forth rewards to the cultivators of 
righteousness, and threatens transgressors with punishment, while at 
the same time it neither changes nor amends that depravity of heart 
which is naturally inherent in all. 
    8. Let us now explain the Apostle's contrast step by step. The 
Old Testament is literal, because promulgated without the efficacy 
of the Spirit: the New spiritual, because the Lord has engraven it 
on the heart. The second antithesis is a kind of exposition of the 
first. The Old is deadly, because it can do nothing but involve the 
whole human race in a curse; the New is the instrument of life, 
because those who are freed from the curse it restores to favour 
with God. The former is the ministry of condemnation, because it 
charges the whole sons of Adam with transgression; the latter the 
ministry of righteousness, because it unfolds the mercy of God, by 
which we are justified. The last antithesis must be referred to the 
Ceremonial Law. Being a shadow of things to come, it behaved in time 
to perish and vanish away; whereas the Gospel, inasmuch as it 
exhibits the very body, is firmly established for ever. Jeremiah 
indeed calls the Moral Law also a weak and fragile covenant; but for 
another reason, namely, because it was immediately broken by the 
sudden defection of an ungrateful people; but as the blame of such 
violation is in the people themselves, it is not properly alleged 
against the covenant. The ceremonies, again, inasmuch as through 
their very weakness they were dissolved by the advent of Christ, had 
the cause of weakness from within. Moreover, the difference between 
the spirit and the letter must not be understood as if the Lord had 
delivered his Law to the Jews without any good result; i. e. as if 
none had been converted to him. It is used comparatively to commend 
the riches of the grace with which the same Lawgivers assuming, as 
it were a new characters honoured the preaching of the Gospel. When 
we consider the multitude of those whom, by the preaching of the 
Gospel, he has regenerated by his, Spirit, and gathered out of all 
nations into the communion of his Church, we may say that those of 
ancient Israel who, with sincere and heartfelt affections embraced 
the covenant of the Lord, were few or none, though the number is 
great when they are considered in themselves without comparison. 
    9. Out of the third distinction a fourth arises. In Scripture, 
the term bondage is applied to the Old Testaments because it begets 
fear, and the term freedom to the New, because productive of 
confidence and security. Thus Paul says to the Romans, "Ye have not 
received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received 
the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father," (Rom. 8: 15.) 
To the same effect is the passage in the Hebrews, "For ye are not 
come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with 
fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound 
of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard 
entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for 
they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a 
beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with 
a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I 
exceedingly fear and quake:) but ye are come unto mount Sion, and 
unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," &c. (Heb. 
12: 18-22.) What Paul briefly touches on in the passage which we 
have quoted from the Romans, he explains more fully in the Epistles 
to the Galatians, where he makes an allegory of the two sons of 
Abraham in this way: "Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth 
to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But 
Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all," 
(Gal. 4: 25, 26.) As the offspring of Agar was born in slavery, and 
could never attain to the inheritances while that of Sara was free 
and entitled to the inheritance, so by the Law we are subjected to 
slavery, and by the Gospel alone regenerated into liberty. The sum 
of the matter comes to this: The Old Testament filled the conscience 
with fear and trembling,- The New inspires it with gladness. By the 
former the conscience is held in bondage, by the latter it is 
manumitted and made free. If it be objected, that the holy fathers 
among the Israelites, as they were endued with the same spirit of 
faith, must also have been partakers of the same liberty and joy, we 
answer, that neither was derived from the Law; but feeling that by 
the Law they were oppressed like slaves, and vexed with a disquieted 
conscience, they fled for refuge to the (gospel; and, accordingly, 
the peculiar advantage of the Gospel was, that, contrary to the 
common rule of the Old Testament, it exempted those who were under 
it from those evils. Then, again, we deny that they did possess the 
spirit of liberty and security in such a degree as not to experience 
some measure of fear and bondage. For however they might enjoy the 
privilege which they had obtained through the grace of the Gospel, 
they were under the same bonds and burdens of observances as the 
rest of their nation. Therefore, seeing they were obliged to the 
anxious observance of ceremonies, (which were the symbols of a 
tutelage bordering on slavery, and handwritings by which they 
acknowledged their guilt, but did not escape from it,) they are 
justly said to have been, comparatively, under a covenant of fear 
and bondage, in respect of that common dispensation under which the 
Jewish people were then placed. 
    10. The three last contrasts to which we have adverted, (sec. 
4, 7, 9,) are between the Law and the Gospel, and hence in these the 
Law is designated by the name of the Old, and the Gospel by that of 
the New Testament. The first is of wider extent, (sec. 1,) 
comprehending under it the promises which were given even before the 
Law. When Augustine maintained that these were not to be included 
under the name of the Old Testament, (August. ad Bonifac. lib. 3 c. 
14,) he took a most correct view, and meant nothing different from 
what we have now taught; for he had in view those passages of 
Jeremiah and Paul in which the Old Testament is distinguished from 
the word of grace and mercy. In the same passage, Augustine, with 
great shrewdness remarks, that from the beginning of the world the 
sons of promise, the divinely regenerated, who, through faith 
working by love, obeyed the commandments, belonged to the New 
Testament; entertaining the hope not of carnal, earthly, temporal, 
but spiritual, heavenly, and eternal blessings, believing especially 
in a Mediator, by whom they doubted not both that the Spirit was 
administered to them, enabling them to do good, and pardon imparted 
as often as they sinned. The thing which he thus intended to assert 
was, that all the saints mentioned in Scripture, from the beginning 
of the world, as having been specially selected by God, were equally 
with us partakers of the blessing of eternal salvation. The only 
difference between our division and that of Augustine is, that ours 
(in accordance with the words of our Saviour, "All the prophets and 
the law prophesied until John," Matth. 11: 13) distinguishes between 
the gospel light and that more obscure dispensation of the word 
which preceded it, while the other division simply distinguishes 
between the weakness of the Law and the strength of the Gospel. And 
here also, with regard to the holy fathers, it is to be observed, 
that though they lived under the Old Testament, they did not stop 
there, but always aspired to the New, and so entered into sure 
fellowship with it. Those who, contented with existing shadows, did 
not carry their thoughts to Christ, the Apostle charges with 
blindness and malediction. To say nothing of other matters, what 
greater blindness can be imagined, than to hope for the expiation of 
sin from the sacrifice of a beast, or to seek mental purification in 
external washing with water, or to attempt to appease God with cold 
ceremonies, as if he were greatly delighted with them? Such are the 
absurdities into which those fall who cling to legal observances, 
without respect to Christ. 
    11. The fifth distinction which we have to add consists in 
this, that until the advent of Christ, the Lord set apart one 
nation, to which he confined the covenant of his grace. Moses says, 
"When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when 
he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people 
according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's 
portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance," (Deut. 
32: 8, 9.) In another passage he thus addresses the people: "Behold, 
the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the 
earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in 
thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed, after them, even 
you, above all people, as it is this day," (Deut. 10: 14,15.) That 
people, therefore, as if they had been the only part of mankind 
belonging to him he favoured exclusively with the knowledge of his 
name, depositing his covenant, as it were, in their bosom, 
manifesting to them the presence of his divinity and honouring them 
with all privileges. But to say nothing of other favours, the only 
one here considered is his binding them to him by the communion of 
his word, so that he was called and regarded as their God. 
Meanwhile, other nations, as if they had had no kind of intercourse 
with him, he allowed to wander in vanity not even supplying them 
with the only means of preventing their destructions viz., the 
preaching of his word. Israel was thus the Lord's favourite child 
the others were aliens. Israel was known and admitted to trust and 
guardianship, the others left in darkness; Israel was made holy, the 
others were profane; Israel was honoured with the presence of God, 
the others kept far aloof from him. But on the fulness of the time 
destined to renew all things, when the Mediator between God and man 
was manifested the middle wall of partition, which had long kept the 
divine mercy within the confines of Israel, was broken down, peace 
was preached to them who were afar off, as well as to those who were 
nigh, that being, together reconciled to God, they might unite as 
one people. Wherefore, there is now no respect of Jew or Greek, of 
circumcision or uncircumcision, but Christ is all and in all. To him 
the heathen have been given for his inheritance, and the uttermost 
parts of the earth for his possession, (Ps. 2: 8,) that he may rule 
without distinction "from sea to sea, and from the river unto the 
ends of the earth," (Ps. 72: 8.) 
    12. The calling of the Gentiles, therefore, is a distinguishing 
feature illustrative of the superiority of the New over the Old 
Testament. This, it is true, had been previously declared by the 
prophets, in passages both numerous and clear, but still the 
fulfilment of it was deferred to the reign of the Messiah. Even 
Christ did not acknowledge it at the very outset of his ministry, 
but delayed it until having completed the whole work of redemption 
in all its parts, and finished the period of his humiliation, he 
received from the Father "a name which is above every name, that at 
the name of Jesus every knee should bow," (Philip. 2: 9, 10.) Hence 
the period being not yet completed, he declared to the woman of 
Canaan, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of 
Israel," (Matth. 15: 24.) Nor in his first commission to the 
Apostles does he permit them to pass the same limits, "Go not into 
the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter 
ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," 
(Matth. 10: 5, 6.) However plainly the thing may have been declared 
in numerous passages, when it was announced to the Apostles, it 
seemed to them so new and extraordinary, that they were horrified at 
it as something monstrous. At length, when they did act upon it, it 
was timorously, and not without reluctance. Nor is this strange; for 
it seemed by no means in accordance with reason, that the Lord, who 
for so many ages had selected Israel from the rest of the nations 
should suddenly, as it were, change his purpose, and abandon his 
choice. Prophecy, indeed, had foretold it, but they could not be so 
attentive to prophecies, as not to be somewhat startled by the novel 
spectacle thus presented to their eye. It was not enough that God 
had in old times given specimens of the future calling of the 
Gentiles. Those whom he had so called were very few in number, and, 
moreover, he in a manner adopted them into the family of Abraham, 
before allowing them to approach his people. But by this public 
call, the Gentiles were not only made equal to the Jews, but seemed 
to be substituted into their place, as if the Jews had been dead. We 
may add, that any strangers whom God had formerly admitted into the 
body of the Church, had never been put on the same footing with the 
Jews. Wherefore, it is not without cause that Paul describes it as 
the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but 
now is made manifest to his saints, (Col. 1: 26.) 
    13. The whole difference between the Old and New Testaments 
has, I think, been fully and faithfully explained, under these four 
or five heads in so far as requisite for ordinary instruction. But 
since this variety in governing the Church, this diversity in the 
mode of teaching, this great change in rites and ceremonies, is 
regarded by some as an absurdity, we must reply to them before 
passing to other matters. And this can be done briefly, because the 
objections are not so strong as to require a very careful 
refutation. It is unreasonable they say, to suppose that Gods who is 
always consistent With himself permitted such a change as afterwards 
to disapprove what he had once ordered and commended. I answer, that 
God ought not to be deemed mutable, because he adapts different 
forms to different ages, as he knows to be expedient for each. If 
the husband man prescribes one set of duties to his household in 
winter, and another in summer, we do not therefore charge him with 
fickleness or think he deviates from the rules of good husbandry 
which depends on the regular course of nature. In like manner, if a 
father of a family, in educating, governing, and managing his 
children, pursues one course in boyhood another in adolescence and 
another in manhood we do not therefore say that he is fickle, or 
abandons his opinions. Why, then do we charge God with inconstancy 
when he makes fit and congruous arrangements for diversities of 
times? The latter similitude ought to be completely satisfactory. 
Paul likens the Jews to children, and Christians to grown men, (Gal. 
4: 1.) What irregularity is there in the Divine arrangement, which 
confined them to the rudiments which were suitable to their age, and 
trains us by a firmer and more manly discipline? The constancy of 
God is conspicuous in this, that he delivered the same doctrine to 
all ages, and persists in requiring that worship of his name which 
he commanded at the beginning. His changing the external form and 
manner does not show that he is liable to change. In so far he has 
only accommodated himself to the mutable and diversified capacities 
of man. 
    14. But it is said, Wench this diversity, save that God chose 
to make it? Would it not have been as easy for him from the first, 
as after the advent of Christ, to reveal eternal life in clear terms 
without any figures, to instruct his people by a few clear 
sacraments, to bestow his Holy Spirit, and diffuse his grace over 
the whole globe? This is very much the same as to bring a charge 
against God, because he created the world at so late a period, when 
he could have done it at the first, or because he appointed the 
alternate changes of summer and winter, of clay and night. With the 
feeling common to every pious mind, let us not doubt that every 
thing which God has done has been done wisely and justly, although 
we may be ignorant of the cause which required that it should be so 
done. We should arrogate too much to ourselves were we not to 
concede to God that he may have reasons for his counsel, which we 
are unable to discern. It is strange, they say, that he now 
repudiates and abominates the sacrifices of beasts, and the whole 
apparatus of that Levitical priesthood in which he formerly 
delighted. As if those external and transient matters could delight 
God, or affect him in any way! It has already been observed, that he 
appointed none of these things on his own account, but instituted 
them all for the salvation of men. If a physician, adopting the best 
method, effects a cure upon a youth, and afterwards, when the same 
individual has grown old, and is again subject to the same disease, 
employs a different method of cure, can it be said that he 
repudiates the method which he formerly approved? Nay, continuing to 
approve of it, he only adapts himself to the different periods of 
life. In like manner, it was necessary in representing Christ in his 
absence, and predicting his future advent, to employ a different set 
of signs from those which are employed, now that his actual 
manifestation is exhibited. It is true, that since the advent of 
Christ, the calling of God is more widely addressed to all nations, 
and the graces of the Spirit more liberally bestowed than they had 
previously been. But who, I ask, can deny the right of God to have 
the free and uncontrolled disposal of his gifts, to select the 
nations which he may be pleased to illuminate, the places which he 
may be pleased to illustrate by the preaching of his word, and the 
mode and measure of progress and success which he may be pleased to 
give to his doctrine, - to punish the world for its ingratitude by 
withdrawing the knowledge of his name for certain ages, and again, 
when he so pleases, to restore it in mercy? We see, then, that in 
the calumnies which the ungodly employ in this matter, to perplex 
the minds of the simple, there is nothing that ought to throw doubt 
either on the justice of God or the veracity of Scripture. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, Part 12
(continued in part 13...)

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