Calvin, Institutes, Vol.3, Part 3
(... continued from part 2)
Chapter 2. 
2. Of faith. The definition of it. Its peculiar properties. 
    This chapter consists of three principal parts. - I. A brief 
explanation of certain matters pertaining to the doctrine of Faith, 
sec. 1-14. First, of the object of faith, sec. 1. Second, of 
Implicit Faith, sec. 2-6. Third, Definition of Faith, sec. 7. 
Fourth, the various meanings of the term Faith, sec. 8-13. II. A 
full exposition of the definition given in the seventh section, sec. 
14-40. III. A brief confirmation of the definition by the authority 
of an Apostle. The mutual relation between faith, hope, and charity, 
sec. 41-43. 
1. A brief recapitulation of the leading points of the whole 
    discussion. The scope of this chapter. The necessity of the 
    doctrine of faith. This doctrine obscured by the Schoolmen, who 
    make God the object of faith, without referring to Christ. The 
    Schoolmen refuted by various passages. 
2. The dogma of implicit faith refuted. It destroys faith, which 
    consists in a knowledge of the divine will. What this will is, 
    and how necessary the knowledge of it. 
3. Many things are and will continue to be implicitly believed. 
    Faith, however, consists in the knowledge of God and Christ, 
    not in a reverence for the Church. Another refutation from the 
    absurdities to which this dogma leads. 
4. In what sense our faith may be said to be implicit. Examples in 
    the Apostles, in the holy women, and in all believers. 
5. In some, faith is implicit, as being a preparation for faith. 
    This, however, widely different from the implicit faith of the 
6. The word of God has a similar relation to faith, the word being, 
    as it were, the source and basis of faith, and the mirror in 
    which it beholds God. Confirmation from various passages of 
    Scripture. Without the knowledge of the word there can be no 
    faith. Sum of the discussion of the Scholastic doctrine of 
    implicit faith. 
7. What faith properly has respect to in the word of God, namely, 
    the promise of grace offered in Christ, provided it be embraced 
    with faith. Proper definition of faith. 
8. Scholastic distinction between faith formed and unformed, refuted 
    by a consideration of the nature of faith, which, as the gift 
    of the Spirit, cannot possibly be disjoined from pious 
9. Objection from a passage of Paul. Answer to it. Error of the 
    Schoolmen in giving only one meaning to faith, whereas it has 
    many meanings. The testimony of faith improperly ascribed to 
    two classes of men. 
10. View to be taken of this. Who those are that believe for a time. 
    The faith of hypocrites. With whom they may be compared. 
11. Why faith attributed to the reprobate. Objection. Answer. What 
    perception of grace in the reprobate. How the elect are 
    distinguished from the reprobate. 
12. Why faith is temporary in the reprobate, firm and perpetual in 
    the elect. Reason in the case of the reprobate. Example. Why 
    God is angry with his children. In what sense many are said to 
    fall from faith. 
13. Various meanings of the term faith. 1. Taken for soundness in 
    the faith. 2. Sometimes restricted to a particular object. 3. 
    Signifies the ministry or testimony by which we are instructed 
    in the faith. 
14. Definition of faith explained under six principal heads. 1. What 
    meant by Knowledge in the definition. 
15. Why this knowledge must be sure and firm. Reason drawn from the 
    consideration of our weakness. Another reason from the 
    certainty of the promises of God. 
16. The leading point in this certainty. Its fruits. A description 
    of the true believer. 
17. An objection to this certainty. Answer. Confirmation of the 
    answer from the example of David. This enlarged upon from the 
    opposite example of Ahab. Also from the uniform experience and 
    the prayers of believers. 
18. For this reason the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit in 
    the soul of the believer described. The issue of this conflict, 
    the victory of faith. 
19. On the whole, the faith of the elect certain and indubitable. 
    Conformation from analogy. 
20. Another confirmation from the testimony of an Apostle, making it 
    apparent, that, though the faith of the elect is as yet 
    imperfect, it is nevertheless firm and sure. 
21. A fuller explanation of the nature of faith. 1. When the 
    believer is shaken with fear, he retakes himself to the bosom 
    of a merciful God. 2. He does not even shun God when angry, but 
    hopes in him. 3. He does not suffer unbelief to reign in his 
    heart. 4. He opposes unbelief, and is never finally lost. 5. 
    Faith, however often assailed, at length comes off victorious. 
22. Another species of fear, arising from a consideration of the 
    judgment of God against the wicked. This also faith overcomes. 
    Examples of this description, placed before the eyes of 
    believers, repress presumption, and fix their faith in God. 
23. Nothing contrary to this in the exhortation of the Apostle to 
    work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Fear and faith 
    mutually connected. Confirmation from the words of a Prophet. 
24. This doctrine gives no countenance to the error of those who 
    dream of a confidence mingled with incredulity. Refutation of 
    this error, from a consideration of the dignity of Christ 
    dwelling in us. The argument retorted. Refutation confirmed by 
    the authority of an Apostle. What we ought to hold on this 
25. Confirmation of the preceding conclusion by a passage from 
26. True fear caused in two ways, viz., when we are required to 
    reverence God as a Father, and also to fear him as Lord. 
27. Objection from a passage in the Apostle John. Answer founded on 
    the distinction between filial and servile fear. 
28. How faith is said to have respect to the divine benevolence. 
    What comprehended under this benevolence. Confirmation from 
    David and Paul. 
29. Of the Free Promise which is the foundation of Faith. Reason. 
30. Faith not divided in thus seeking a Free Promise in the Gospel. 
    Reason. Conclusion confirmed by another reason. 
31. The word of God the prop and root of faith. The word attests the 
    divine goodness and mercy. In what sense faith has respect to 
    the power of God. Various passages of Isaiah, inviting the 
    godly to behold the power of God, explained. Other passages 
    from David. We must beware of going beyond the limits 
    prescribed by the word, lest false zeal lead us astray, as it 
    did Sarah, Rebekah, and Isaac. In this way faith is obscured, 
    though not extinguished. We must not depart one iota from the 
    word of God. 
32. All the promises included in Christ. Two objections answered. A 
    third objection drawn from example. Answer explaining the faith 
    of Naaman, Cornelius, and the Eunuch. 
33. Faith revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the 
    Holy Spirit. 1. The mind is purified so as to have a relish for 
    divine truth. 2. The mind is thus established in the truth by 
    the agency of the Holy Spirit. 
34. Proof of the former. 1. By reason. 2. By Scripture. 3. By 
    example. 4. By analogy. 
35. 5. By the excellent qualities of faith. 6. By a celebrated 
    passage from Augustine. 
36. Proof of the latter by the argument a minore ad majus. Why the 
    Spirit is called a seal, an earnest, and the Spirit of promise. 
37. Believers sometimes shaken, but not so as to perish finally. 
    They ultimately overcome their trials, and remain steadfast. 
    Proofs from Scripture. 
38. Objection of the Schoolmen. Answer. Attempt to support the 
    objection by a passage in Ecclesiastes. Answer, explaining the 
    meaning of the passage. 
39. Another objection, charging the elect in Christ with rashness 
    and presumption. Answer. Answer confirmed by various passages 
    from the Apostle Paul. Also from John and Isaiah. 
40. A third objection, impugning the final perseverance of the 
    elect. Answer by an Apostle. Summary of the refutation. 
41. The definition of faith accords with that given by the Apostle 
    in the Hebrews. Explanation of this definition. Refutation of 
    the scholastic error, that charity is prior to faith and hope. 
42. Hope the inseparable attendant of true faith. Reason. Connection 
    between faith and hope. Mutually support each other. Obvious 
    from the various forms of temptation, that the aid of hope 
    necessary to establish faith. 
43. The terms faith and hope sometimes confounded. Refutation of the 
    Schoolmen, who attribute a twofold foundation to hope, viz., 
    the grace of God and the merit of works. 
    1. All these things will be easily understood after we have 
given a clearer definition of faith, so as to enable the readers to 
apprehend its nature and power. Here it is of importance to call to 
mind what was formerly taught, first, That since God by his Law 
prescribes what we ought to do, failure in any one respect subjects 
us to the dreadful judgment of eternal death, which it denounces. 
Secondly, Because it is not only difficult, but altogether beyond 
our strength and ability, to fulfill the demands of the Law, if we 
look only to ourselves and consider what is due to our merits, no 
ground of hope remains, but we lie forsaken of God under eternal 
death. Thirdly, That there is only one method of deliverance which 
can rescue us from this miserable calamity, viz., when Christ the 
Redeemer appears, by whose hand our heavenly Father, out of his 
infinite goodness and mercy, has been pleased to succor us, if we 
with true faith embrace this mercy, and with firm hope rest in it. 
It is now proper to consider the nature of this faith, by means of 
which, those who are adopted into the family of God obtain 
possession of the heavenly kingdom. For the accomplishment of so 
great an end, it is obvious that no mere opinion or persuasion is 
adequate. And the greater care and diligence is necessary in 
discussing the true nature of faith, from the pernicious delusions 
which many, in the present day, labour under with regard to it. 
Great numbers, on hearing the term, think that nothing more is meant 
than a certain common assent to the Gospel History; nay, when the 
subject of faith is discussed in the Schools, by simply representing 
God as its object, they by empty speculation, as we have elsewhere 
said, (Book 2, chap. 6, sec. 4,) hurry wretched souls away from the 
right mark instead of directing them to it. For seeing that God 
dwells in light that is inaccessible, Christ must intervene. Hence 
he calls himself "the light of the world;" and in another passage, 
"the way, the truth, and the life." None cometh to the Father (who 
is the fountain of life) except by him; for "no man knoweth who the 
Father is but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." For 
this reason, Paul declares, "I count all things as loss for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." In the 
twentieth chapter of the Acts, he states that he preached "faith 
towards our Lord Jesus Christ;" and in another passage, he 
introduces Christ as thus addressing him: "I have appeared unto thee 
for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness;" 
"delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom 
now I send thee," - "that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and 
inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith which is 
in me." Paul further declares, that in the person of Christ the 
glory of God is visibly manifested to us, or, which is the same 
thing, we have "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in 
the face of Jesus Christ." It is true, indeed, that faith has 
respect to God only; but to this we should add, that it acknowledges 
Jesus Christ whom he has sent. God would remain far off, concealed 
from us, were we not irradiated by the brightness of Christ. All 
that the Father had, he deposited with his only begotten Son, in 
order that he might manifest himself in him, and thus by the 
communication of blessings express the true image of his glory. 
Since, as has been said, we must be led by the Spirit, and thus 
stimulated to seek Christ, so must we also remember that the 
invisible Father is to be sought nowhere but in this image. For 
which reason Augustine treating of the object of faith, (De Civitate 
Dei, lib. 11, ch. 2,) elegantly says, "The thing to be known is, 
whither we are to go, and by what way;" and immediately after 
infers, that "the surest way to avoid all errors is to know him who 
is both God and man. It is to God we tend, and it is by man we go, 
and both of these are found only in Christ." Paul, when he preaches 
faith towards God, surely does not intend to overthrow what he so 
often inculcates, viz., that faith has all its stability in Christ. 
Peter most appropriately connects both, saying, that by him "we 
believe in God," (1 Pet. 1: 21.) 
    2. This evil, therefore, must, like innumerable others, be 
attributed to the Schoolmen, who have in a manner drawn a veil over 
Christ, to whom, if our eye is not directly turned, we must always 
wander through many labyrinths. But besides impairing, and almost 
annihilating, faith by their obscure definition, they have invented 
the fiction of implicit faith, with which name decking the grossest 
ignorance, they delude the wretched populace to their great 
destruction. Nay, to state the fact more truly and plainly, this 
fiction not only buries true faith, but entirely destroys it. Is it 
faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions 
implicitly to the Church? Faith consists not in ignorance, but in 
knowledge - knowledge not of God merely, but of the divine will. We 
do not obtain salvation either because we are prepared to embrace 
every dictate of the Church as true, or leave to the Church the 
province of inquiring and determining; but when we recognize God as 
a propitious Father through the reconciliation made by Christ, and 
Christ as given to us for righteousness, sanctification, and life. 
By this knowledge, I say, not by the submission of our 
understanding, we obtain an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. For 
when the Apostle says, "With the heart man believeth unto 
righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto 
salvation," (Rom. 10: 10;) he intimates, that it is not enough to 
believe implicitly without understanding, or even inquiring. The 
thing requisite is an explicit recognition of the divine goodness, 
in which our righteousness consists. 
    3. I indeed deny not, (so enveloped are we in ignorance,) that 
to us very many things now are and will continue to be completely 
involved until we lay aside this weight of flesh, and approach 
nearer to the presence of God. In such cases the fittest course is 
to suspend our judgment, and resolve to maintain unity with the 
Church. But under this pretext, to honor ignorance tempered with 
humility with the name of faith, is most absurd. Faith consists in 
the knowledge of God and Christ, (John 17: 3,) not in reverence for 
the Church. And we see what a labyrinth they have formed out of this 
implicit faith - every thing, sometimes even the most monstrous 
errors, being received by the ignorant as oracles without any 
discrimination, provided they are prescribed to them under the name 
of the Church. This inconsiderate facility, though the surest 
precipice to destruction, is, however, excused on the ground that it 
believes nothing definitely, but only with the appended condition, 
if such is the faith of the Church. Thus they pretend to find truth 
in error, light in darkness, true knowledge in ignorance. Not to 
dwell longer in refuting these views, we simply advise the reader to 
compare them with ours. The clearness of truth will itself furnish a 
sufficient refutation. For the question they raise is not, whether 
there may be an implicit faith with many remains of ignorance, but 
they maintain, that persons living and even indulging in a stupid 
ignorance duly believe, provided, in regard to things unknown, they 
assent to the authority and judgment of the Church: as if Scripture 
did not uniformly teach, that with faith understanding is conjoined. 
    4. We grant, indeed, that so long as we are pilgrims in the 
world faith is implicit, not only because as yet many things are 
hidden from us, but because, involved in the mists of error, we 
attain not to all. The highest wisdom, even of him who has attained 
the greatest perfection, is to go forward, and endeavor in a calm 
and teachable spirit to make further progress. Hence Paul exhorts 
believers to wait for further illumination in any matter in which 
they differ from each other, Phil. 3: 15.) And certainly experience 
teaches, that so long as we are in the flesh, our attainments are 
less than is to be desired. In our daily reading we fall in with 
many obscure passages which convict us of ignorance. With this curb 
God keeps us modest, assigning to each a measure of faith, that 
every teacher, however excellent, may still be disposed to learn. 
Striking examples of this implicit faith may be observed in the 
disciples of Christ before they were fully illuminated. We see with 
what difficulty they take in the first rudiments, how they hesitate 
in the minutest matters, how, though hanging on the lips of their 
Master, they make no great progress; nay, even after running to the 
sepulchre on the report of the women, the resurrection of their 
Master appears to them a dream. As Christ previously bore testimony 
to their faith, we cannot say that they were altogether devoid of 
it; nay, had they not been persuaded that Christ would rise again, 
all their zeal would have been extinguished. Nor was it superstition 
that led the women to prepare spices to embalm a dead body of whose 
revival they had no expectation; but, although they gave credit to 
the words of one whom they knew to be true, yet the ignorance which 
still possessed their minds involved their faith in darkness, and 
left them in amazement. Hence they are said to have believed only 
when, by the reality, they perceive the truth of what Christ had 
spoken; not that they then began to believe, but the seed of a 
hidden faith, which lay as it were dead in their hearts, then burst 
forth in vigor. They had, therefore, a true but implicit faith, 
having reverently embraced Christ as the only teacher. Then, being 
taught by him, they felt assured that he was the author of 
salvation: in fine, believed that he had come from heaven to gather 
disciples, and take them thither through the grace of the Father. 
There cannot be a more familiar proof of this, than that in all men 
faith is always mingled with incredulity. 
    5. We may also call their faith implicit, as being properly 
nothing else than a preparation for faith. The Evangelists describe 
many as having believed, although they were only roused to 
admiration by the miracles, and went no farther than to believe that 
Christ was the promised Messiah, without being at all imbued with 
Evangelical doctrine. The reverence which subdued them, and made 
them willingly submit to Christ, is honored with the name of faith, 
though it was nothing but the commencement of it. Thus the nobleman 
who believed in the promised cure of his son, on returning home, is 
said by the Evangelist (John 4: 53) to have again believed; that is, 
he had first received the words which fell from the lips of Christ 
as an oracular response, and thereafter submitted to his authority 
and received his doctrine. Although it is to be observed that he was 
docile and disposed to learn, yet the word "believed" in the former 
passage denotes a particular faith, and in the latter gives him a 
place among those disciples who had devoted themselves to Christ. 
Not unlike this is the example which John gives of the Samaritans 
who believed the women, and eagerly hastened to Christ; but, after 
they had heard him, thus express themselves, "Now we believe, not 
because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know 
that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world," (John 4: 
42.) From these passages it is obvious, that even those who are not 
yet imbued with the first principles, provided they are disposed to 
obey, are called believers, not properly indeed, but inasmuch as God 
is pleased in kindness so highly to honor their pious feeling. But 
this docility, with a desire of further progress, is widely 
different from the gross ignorance in which those sluggishly indulge 
who are contented with the implicit faith of the Papists. If Paul 
severely condemns those who are "ever learning, and never able to 
come to the knowledge of the truth," how much more sharply ought 
those to be rebuked who avowedly affect to know nothing? 
    6. The true knowledge of Christ consists in receiving him as he 
is offered by the Father, namely, as invested with his Gospel. For, 
as he is appointed as the end of our faith, so we cannot directly 
tend towards him except under the guidance of the Gospel. Therein 
are certainly unfolded to us treasures of grace. Did these continue 
shut, Christ would profit us little. Hence Paul makes faith the 
inseparable attendant of doctrine in these words, "Ye have not so 
learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been 
taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus," (Eph. 4: 20, 21.) Still I 
do not confine faith to the Gospel in such a sense as not to admit 
that enough was delivered to Moses and the Prophets to form a 
foundation of faith; but as the Gospel exhibits a fuller 
manifestation of Christ, Paul justly terms it the doctrine of faith, 
(1 Tim. 4: 6.) For which reason, also he elsewhere says, that, by 
the coming of faith, the Law was abolished, (Rom. 10: 4,) including 
under the expression a new and unwonted mode of teaching, by which 
Christ, from the period of his appearance as the great Master, gave 
a fuller illustration of the Father's mercy, and testified more 
surely of our salvation. But an easier and more appropriate method 
will be to descend from the general to the particular. First, we 
must remember, that there is an inseparable relation between faith 
and the word, and that these can no more be disconnected from each 
other than rays of light from the sun. Hence in Isaiah the Lord 
exclaims, "Hear, and your soul shall live," (Is. 4: 3.) And John 
points to this same fountain of faith in the following words, "These 
are written that ye might believe," (John 20: 31.) The Psalmist also 
exhorting the people to faith says, "To-day, if ye will hear his 
voice," (Ps. 95: 7,) to hear being uniformly taken for to believe. 
In fine, in Isaiah the Lord distinguishes the members of the Church 
from strangers by this mark, "All thy children shall be taught of 
the Lord," (Is. 54: 13;) for if the benefit was indiscriminate, why 
should he address his words only to a few? Corresponding with this, 
the Evangelists uniformly employ the terms believers and disciples 
as synonymous. This is done especially by Luke in several passages 
of the Acts. He even applies the term disciple to a woman, (Acts 9: 
36.) Wherefore, if faith declines in the least degree from the mark 
at which it ought to aim, it does not retain its nature, but becomes 
uncertain credulity and vague wandering of mind. The same word is 
the basis on which it rests and is sustained. Declining from it, it 
falls. Take away the word, therefore, and no faith will remain. We 
are not here discussing, whether, in order to propagate the word of 
God by which faith is engendered, the ministry of man is necessary, 
(this will be considered elsewhere;) but we say that the word 
itself, whatever be the way in which it is conveyed to us, is a kind 
of mirror in which faith beholds God. In this, therefore, whether 
God uses the agency of man, or works immediately by his own power, 
it is always by his word that he manifests himself to those whom he 
designs to draw to himself. Hence Paul designates faith as the 
obedience which is given to the Gospel, (Rom. 1: 5;) and writing to 
the Philippians, he commends them for the obedience of faith, (Phil. 
2: 17.) For faith includes not merely the knowledge that God is, but 
also, nay chiefly, a perception of his will toward us. It concerns 
us to know not only what he is in himself, but also in what 
character he is pleased to manifest himself to us. We now see, 
therefore, that faith is the knowledge of the divine will in regard 
to us, as ascertained from his word. And the foundation of it is a 
previous persuasion of the truth of God. So long as your mind 
entertains any misgivings as to the certainty of the word, its 
authority will be weak and dubious, or rather it will have no 
authority at all. Nor is it sufficient to believe that God is true, 
and cannot lie or deceive, unless you feel firmly persuaded that 
every word which proceeds from him is sacred, inviolable truth. 
    7. But since the heart of man is not brought to faith by every 
word of God, we must still consider what it is that faith properly 
has respect to in the word. The declaration of God to Adam was, 
"Thou shalt surely die," (Gen. 2: 17;) and to Cain, "The voice of 
thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground," (Gen. 4: 10;) 
but these, so far from being fitted to establish faith, tend only to 
shake it. At the same time, we deny not that it is the office of 
faith to assent to the truth of God whenever, whatever, and in 
whatever way he speaks: we are only inquiring what faith can find in 
the word of God to lean and rest upon. When conscience sees only 
wrath and indignation, how can it but tremble and be afraid? and how 
can it avoid shunning the God whom it thus dreads? But faith ought 
to seek God, not shun him. It is evident, therefore, that we have 
not yet obtained a full definition of faith, it being impossible to 
give the name to every kind of knowledge of the divine will. Shall 
we, then, for "will", which is often the messenger of bad news and 
the herald of terror, substitute the benevolence or mercy of God? In 
this way, doubtless, we make a nearer approach to the nature of 
faith. For we are allured to seek God when told that our safety is 
treasured up in him; and we are confirmed in this when he declares 
that he studies and takes an interest in our welfare. Hence there is 
need of the gracious promise, in which he testifies that he is a 
propitious Father; since there is no other way in which we can 
approach to him, the promise being the only thing on which the heart 
of man can recline. For this reason, the two things, mercy and 
truth, are uniformly conjoined in the Psalms as having a mutual 
connection with each other. For it were of no avail to us to know 
that God is true, did He not in mercy allure us to himself; nor 
could we of ourselves embrace his mercy did not He expressly offer 
it. "I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not 
concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth. Withhold not thy tender 
mercies from me, O Lord: let thy loving-kindness and thy truth 
continually preserve me," (Ps. 40: 10,11.) "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in 
the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds," (Ps. 
36: 5.) "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as 
keep his covenant and his testimonies," (Ps. 25: 10.) "His merciful 
kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for 
ever," (Ps. 117: 2.) "I will praise thy name for thy loving-kindness 
and thy truth," (Ps. 138: 2.) I need not quote what is said in the 
Prophets, to the effect that God is merciful and faithful in his 
promises. It were presumptuous in us to hold that God is propitious 
to us, had we not his own testimony, and did he not prevent us by 
his invitation, which leaves no doubt or uncertainty as to his will. 
It has already been seen that Christ is the only pledge of love, for 
without him all things, both above and below speak of hatred and 
wrath. We have also seen, that since the knowledge of the divine 
goodness cannot be of much importance unless it leads us to confide 
in it, we must exclude a knowledge mingled with doubt, - a knowledge 
which, so far from being firm, is continually wavering. But the 
human mind, when blinded and darkened, is very far from being able 
to rise to a proper knowledge of the divine will; nor can the heart, 
fluctuating with perpetual doubt, rest secure in such knowledge. 
Hence, in order that the word of God may gain full credit, the mind 
must be enlightened, and the heart confirmed, from some other 
quarter. We shall now have a full definition of faith, if we say 
that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor toward us, 
founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to 
our minds, and sealed on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. 
    8. But before I proceed farther, it will be necessary to make 
some preliminary observations for the purpose of removing 
difficulties which might otherwise obstruct the reader. And first, I 
must refute the nugatory distinction of the Schoolmen as to formed 
and unformed faith. For they imagine that persons who have no fear 
of God, and no sense of piety, may believe all that is necessary to 
be known for salvation; as if the Holy Spirit were not the witness 
of our adoption by enlightening our hearts unto faith. Still, 
however, though the whole Scripture is against them, they 
dogmatically give the name of faith to a persuasion devoid of the 
fear of God. It is unnecessary to go farther in refuting their 
definition, than simply to state the nature of faith as declared in 
the word of God. From this it will clearly appear how unskillfully 
and absurdly they babble, rather than discourse, on this subject. I 
have already done this in part, and will afterwards add the 
remainder in its proper place. At present, I say that nothing can be 
imagined more absurd than their fiction. They insist that faith is 
an assent with which any despiser of God may receive what is 
delivered by Scripture. But we must first see whether any one can by 
his own strength acquire faith, or whether the Holy Spirit, by means 
of it, becomes the witness of adoption. Hence it is childish 
trifling in them to inquire whether the faith formed by the 
supervening quality of love be the same, or a different and new 
faith. By talking in this style, they show plainly that they have 
never thought of the special gift of the Spirit; since one of the 
first elements of faith is reconciliation implied in man's drawing 
near to God. Did they duly ponder the saying of Paul, "With the 
heart man believeth unto righteousness," (Rom. 10: 10,) they would 
cease to dream of that frigid quality. There is one consideration 
which ought at once to put an end to the debate, viz., that assent 
itself (as I have already observed, and will afterwards more fully 
illustrate) is more a matter of the heart than the head, of the 
affection than the intellect. For this reason, it is termed "the 
obedience of faith," (Rom. 1: 5,) which the Lord prefers to all 
other service, and justly, since nothing is more precious to him 
than his truth, which, as John Baptist declares, is in a manner 
signed and sealed by believers, (John 3: 33.) As there can be no 
doubt on the matter, we in one word conclude, that they talk 
absurdly when they maintain that faith is formed by the addition of 
pious affection as an accessory to assent, since assent itself, such 
at least as the Scriptures describe, consists in pious affection. 
But we are furnished with a still clearer argument. Since faith 
embraces Christ as he is offered by the Father, and he is offered 
not only for justification, for forgiveness of sins and peace, but 
also for sanctification, as the fountain of living waters, it is 
certain that no man will ever know him aright without at the same 
time receiving the sanctification of the Spirit; or, to express the 
matter more plainly, faith consists in the knowledge of Christ; 
Christ cannot be known without the sanctification of his Spirit: 
therefore faith cannot possibly be disjoined from pious affection. 
    9. In their attempt to mar faith by divesting it of love, they 
are wont to insist on the words of Paul, "Though I have all faith, 
so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am 
nothing," (1 Cor. 13: 2.) But they do not consider what the faith is 
of which the Apostle there speaks. Having, in the previous chapter, 
discoursed of the various gifts of the Spirit, (1 Cor. 12: 10,) 
including diversity of tongues, miracles, and prophecy, and exhorted 
the Corinthians to follow the better gifts, in other words, those 
from which the whole body of the Church would derive greater 
benefit, he adds, "Yet show I unto you a more excellent way," (1 
Cor. 12: 30.) All other gifts, how excellent soever they may be in 
themselves, are of no value unless they are subservient to charity. 
They were given for the edification of the Church, and fail of their 
purpose if not so applied. To prove this he adopts a division, 
repeating the same gifts which he had mentioned before, but under 
different names. Miracles and faith are used to denote the same 
thing, viz., the power of working miracles. Seeing, then, that this 
miraculous power or faith is the particular gift of God, which a 
wicked man may possess and abuse, as the gift of tongues, prophecy, 
or other gifts, it is not strange that he separates it from charity. 
Their whole error lies in this, that while the term faith has a 
variety of meanings, overlooking this variety, they argue as if its 
meaning were invariably one and the same. The passage of James, by 
which they endeavor to defend their error, will be elsewhere 
discussed, (infra, chap. 17, sec. 11.) Although, in discoursing of 
faith, we admit that it has a variety of forms; yet, when our object 
is to show what knowledge of God the wicked possess, we hold and 
maintain, in accordance with Scripture, that the pious only have 
faith. Multitudes undoubtedly believe that God is, and admit the 
truth of the Gospel History, and the other parts of Scripture, in 
the same way in which they believe the records of past events, or 
events which they have actually witnessed. There are some who go 
even farther: they regard the Word of God as an infallible oracle; 
they do not altogether disregard its precepts, but are moved to some 
degree by its threatening and promises. To such the testimony of 
faith is attributed, but by catachresis; because they do not with 
open impiety impugn, reject, or condemn, the Word of God, but rather 
exhibit some semblance of obedience. 
    10. But as this shadow or image of faith is of no moment, so it 
is unworthy of the name. How far it differs from true faith will 
shortly be explained at length. Here, however, we may just indicate 
it in passing. Simon Magus is said to have believed, though he soon 
after gave proof of his unbelief, (Acts 8: 13-18.) In regard to the 
faith attributed to him, we do not understand with some, that he 
merely pretended a belief which had no existence in his heart: we 
rather think that, overcome by the majesty of the Gospel, he yielded 
some kind of assent, and so far acknowledged Christ to be the author 
of life and salvation, as willingly to assume his name. In like 
manner, in the Gospel of Luke, those in whom the seed of the word is 
choked before it brings forth fruit, or in whom, from having no 
depth of earth, it soon withereth away, are said to believe for a 
time. Such, we doubt not, eagerly receive the word with a kind of 
relish, and have some feeling of its divine power, so as not only to 
impose upon men by a false semblance of faith, but even to impose 
upon themselves. They imagine that the reverence which they give to 
the word is genuine piety, because they have no idea of any impiety 
but that which consists in open and avowed contempt. But whatever 
that assent may be, it by no means penetrates to the heart, so as to 
have a fixed seat there. Although it sometimes seems to have planted 
its roots, these have no life in them. The human heart has so many 
recesses for vanity, so many lurking places for falsehood, is so 
shrouded by fraud and hypocrisy, that it often deceives itself. Let 
those who glory in such semblances of faith know that, in this 
respect, they are not a whit superior to devils. The one class, 
indeed, is inferior to them, inasmuch as they are able without 
emotion to hear and understand things, the knowledge of which makes 
devils tremble, (James 2: 19.) The other class equals them in this, 
that whatever be the impression made upon them, its only result is 
terror and consternation. 
    11. I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is 
attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to 
be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily 
solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel 
the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are 
fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate 
are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even 
in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence it 
is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and 
by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. Not that 
they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light 
of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them 
without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his 
goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Should it be 
objected, that believers have no stronger testimony to assure them 
of their adoption, I answer, that though there is a great 
resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are 
impressed for a time with a fading faith, yet the elect alone have 
that full assurance which is extolled by Paul, and by which they are 
enabled to cry, Abba, Father. Therefore, as God regenerates the 
elect only for ever by incorruptible seed, as the seed of life once 
sown in their hearts never perishes, so he effectually seals in them 
the grace of his adoption, that it may be sure and steadfast. But in 
this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit 
from taking its course in the reprobate. Meanwhile, believers are 
taught to examine themselves carefully and humbly, lest carnal 
security creep in and take the place of assurance of faith. We may 
add, that the reprobate never have any other than a confused sense 
of grace, laying hold of the shadow rather than the substance, 
because the Spirit properly seals the forgiveness of sins in the 
elect only, applying it by special faith to their use. Still it is 
correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to 
them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though 
confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers 
of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but 
because, under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a 
principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God 
illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; 
but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony 
which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate 
never attain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows 
himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued 
them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives 
them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he 
implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to 
the end. Thus we dispose of the objection, that if God truly 
displays his grace, it must endure for ever. There is nothing 
inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a 
present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent. 
    12. Although faith is a knowledge of the divine favor towards 
us, and a full persuasion of its truth, it is not strange that the 
sense of the divine love, which though akin to faith differs much 
from it, vanishes in those who are temporarily impressed. The will 
of God is, I confess, immutable, and his truth is always consistent 
with itself; but I deny that the reprobate ever advance so far as to 
penetrate to that secret revelation which Scripture reserves for the 
elect only. I therefore deny that they either understand his will 
considered as immutable, or steadily embrace his truth, inasmuch as 
they rest satisfied with an evanescent impression; just as a tree 
not planted deep enough may take root, but will in process of time 
wither away, though it may for several years not only put forth 
leaves and flowers, but produce fruit. In short, as by the revolt of 
the first man, the image of God could be effaced from his mind and 
soul, so there is nothing strange in His shedding some rays of grace 
on the reprobate, and afterwards allowing these to be extinguished. 
There is nothing to prevent His giving some a slight knowledge of 
his Gospel, and imbuing others thoroughly. Meanwhile, we must 
remember that however feeble and slender the faith of the elect may 
be, yet as the Spirit of God is to them a sure earnest and seal of 
their adoption, the impression once engraven can never be effaced 
from their hearts, whereas the light which glimmers in the reprobate 
is afterwards quenched. Nor can it be said that the Spirit therefore 
deceives, because he does not quicken the seed which lies in their 
hearts so as to make it ever remain incorruptible as in the elect. I 
go farther: seeing it is evident, from the doctrine of Scripture and 
from daily experience, that the reprobate are occasionally impressed 
with a sense of divine grace, some desire of mutual love must 
necessarily be excited in their hearts. Thus for a time a pious 
affection prevailed in Saul, disposing him to love God. Knowing that 
he was treated with paternal kindness, he was in some degree 
attracted by it. But as the reprobate have no rooted conviction of 
the paternal love of God, so they do not in return yield the love of 
sons, but are led by a kind of mercenary affection. The Spirit of 
love was given to Christ alone, for the express purpose of 
conferring this Spirit upon his members; and there can be no doubt 
that the following words of Paul apply to the elect only: "The love 
of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is 
given unto us," (Rom. 5: 5;) namely, the love which begets that 
confidence in prayer to which I have above adverted. On the other 
hand, we see that God is mysteriously offended with his children, 
though he ceases not to love them. He certainly hates them not, but 
he alarms them with a sense of his anger, that he may humble the 
pride of the flesh, arouse them from lethargy, and urge them to 
repentance. Hence they, at the same instant, feel that he is angry 
with them or their sins, and also propitious to their persons. It is 
not from fictitious dread that they deprecate his anger, and yet 
they retake themselves to him with tranquil confidence. It hence 
appears that the faith of some, though not true faith, is not mere 
pretence. They are borne along by some sudden impulse of zeal, and 
erroneously impose upon themselves, sloth undoubtedly preventing 
them from examining their hearts with due care. Such probably was 
the case of those whom John describes as believing on Christ; but of 
whom he says, "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he 
knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he 
knew what was in man," (John 2: 24, 25.) Were it not true that many 
fall away from the common faith, (I call it common, because there is 
a great resemblance between temporary and living, everduring faith,) 
Christ would not have said to his disciples, "If ye continue in my 
word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, 
and the truth shall make you free," (John 8: 31, 32.) He is 
addressing those who had embraced his doctrine, and urging them to 
progress in the faith, lest by their sluggishness they extinguish 
the light which they have received. Accordingly, Paul claims faith 
as the peculiar privilege of the elect, intimating that many, from 
not being properly rooted, fall away, (Tit. 1: 1.) In the same way, 
in Matthew, our Savior says, "Every plant which my heavenly Father 
has not planted shall be rooted up," (Matth. 16: 13.) Some who are 
not ashamed to insult God and man are more grossly false. Against 
this class of men, who profane the faith by impious and lying 
pretence, James inveighs, (James 2: 14.) Nor would Paul require the 
faith of believers to be unfeigned, (1 Tim. 1: 5,) were there not 
many who presumptuously arrogate to themselves what they have not, 
deceiving others, and sometimes even themselves, with empty show. 
Hence he compares a good conscience to the ark in which faith is 
preserved, because many, by falling away, have in regard to it made 
    13. It is necessary to attend to the ambiguous meaning of the 
term: for faith is often equivalent in meaning to sound doctrine, as 
in the passage which we lately quoted, and in the same epistle where 
Paul enjoins the deacons to hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure 
conscience;" in like manner, when he denounces the defection of 
certain from the faith. The meaning again is the same, when he says 
that Timothy had been brought up in the faith; and in like manner, 
when he says that profane babblings and oppositions of science, 
falsely so called, lead many away from the faith. Such persons he 
elsewhere calls reprobate as to the faith. On the other hand, when 
he enjoins Titus, "Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in 
the faith;" by soundness he means purity of doctrine, which is 
easily corrupted, and degenerates through the fickleness of men. And 
indeed, since in Christ, as possessed by faith, are "hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge," (Col. 1: 2, 3,) the term faith 
is justly extended to the whole sum of heavenly doctrine, from which 
it cannot be separated. On the other hand, it is sometimes confined 
to a particular object, as when Matthew says of those who let down 
the paralytic through the roof, that Jesus saw their faith, (Matth. 
9: 2;) and Jesus himself exclaims in regard to the centurion, "I 
have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," (Matth. 8: 10.) 
Now, it is probable that the centurion was thinking only of the cure 
of his son, by whom his whole soul was engrossed; but because he is 
satisfied with the simple answer and assurance of Christ, and does 
not request his bodily presence, this circumstance calls forth the 
eulogium on his faith. And we have lately shown how Paul uses the 
term faith for the gift of miracles - a gift possessed by persons 
who were neither regenerated by the Spirit of God, nor sincerely 
reverenced him. In another passage, he uses faith for the doctrine 
by which we are instructed in the faith. For when he says, that 
"that which is in part shall be done away," (1 Cor. 13: 10,) there 
can be no doubt that reference is made to the ministry of the 
Church, which is necessary in our present imperfect state; in these 
forms of expression the analogy is obvious. But when the name of 
faith is improperly transferred to a false profession or lying 
assumption, the catachresis ought not to seem harsher than when the 
fear of God is used for vicious and perverse worship; as when it is 
repeatedly said in sacred history, that the foreign nations which 
had been transported to Samaria and the neighbouring districts, 
feared false gods and the God of Israel: in other words, confounded 
heaven with earth. But we have now been inquiring what the faith is, 
which distinguishes the children of God from unbelievers, the faith 
by which we invoke God the Father, by which we pass from death unto 
life, and by which Christ our eternal salvation and life dwells in 
us. Its power and nature have, I trust, been briefly and clearly 
    14. Let us now again go over the parts of the definition 
separately: I should think that, after a careful examination of 
them, no doubt will remain. By knowledge we do not mean 
comprehension, such as that which we have of things falling under 
human sense. For that knowledge is so much superior, that the human 
mind must far surpass and go beyond itself in order to reach it. Nor 
even when it has reached it does it comprehend what it feels, but 
persuaded of what it comprehends not, it understands more from mere 
certainty of persuasion than it could discern of any human matter by 
its own capacity. Hence it is elegantly described by Paul as ability 
"to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and 
depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth 
knowledge," (Eph. 3: 18, 19.) His object was to intimate, that what 
our mind embraces by faith is every way infinite, that this kind of 
knowledge far surpasses all understanding. But because the "mystery 
which has been hid from ages and from generations" is now "made 
manifest to the saints," (Col. 1: 26,) faith is, for good reason, 
occasionally termed in Scripture understanding, (Col. 2: 2;) and 
knowledge, as by John, (1 John 3: 2,) when he declares that 
believers know themselves to be the sons of God. And certainly they 
do know, but rather as confirmed by a belief of the divine veracity 
than taught by any demonstration of reason. This is also indicated 
by Paul when he says, that "whilst we are at home in the body, we 
are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight,)" (2 
Cor. 5: 6, 7:) thus showing, that what we understand by faith is yet 
distant from us and escapes our view. Hence we conclude that the 
knowledge of faith consists more of certainty than discernment. 
    15. We add, that it is sure and firm, the better to express 
strength and constancy of persuasion. For as faith is not contented 
with a dubious and fickle opinion, so neither is it contented with 
an obscure and ill-defined conception. The certainty which it 
requires must be full and decisive, as is usual in regard to matters 
ascertained and proved. So deeply rooted in our hearts is unbelief, 
so prone are we to it, that while all confess with the lips that God 
is faithful, no man ever believes it without an arduous struggle. 
Especially when brought to the test, we by our wavering betray the 
vice which lurked within. Nor is it without cause that the Holy 
Spirit bears such distinguished testimony to the authority of God, 
in order that it may cure the disease of which I have spoken, and 
induce us to give full credit to the divine promises: "The words of 
the Lord" (says David, Ps. 12: 6) "are pure words, as silver tried 
in a furnace of earth purified seven times:" "The word of the Lord 
is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him," (Ps. 18: 
30.) And Solomon declares the same thing almost in the same words, 
"Every word of God is pure," (Prov. 30: 5.) But further quotation is 
superfluous, as the 119th Psalm is almost wholly occupied with this 
subject. Certainly, whenever God thus recommends his word, he 
indirectly rebukes our unbelief, the purport of all that is said 
being to eradicate perverse doubt from our hearts. There are very 
many also who form such an idea of the divine mercy as yields them 
very little comfort. For they are harassed by miserable anxiety 
while they doubt whether God will be merciful to them. They think, 
indeed, that they are most fully persuaded of the divine mercy, but 
they confine it within too narrow limits. The idea they entertain 
is, that this mercy is great and abundant, is shed upon many, is 
offered and ready to be bestowed upon all; but that it is uncertain 
whether it will reach to them individually, or rather whether they 
can reach to it. Thus their knowledge stopping short leaves them 
only mid-way; not so much confirming and tranquilizing the mind as 
harassing it with doubt and disquietude. Very different is that 
feeling of full assurance ("pleroforia") which the Scriptures 
uniformly attribute to faith - an assurance which leaves no doubt 
that the goodness of God is clearly offered to us. This assurance we 
cannot have without truly perceiving its sweetness, and experiencing 
it in ourselves. Hence from faith the Apostle deduces confidence, 
and from confidence boldness. His words are, "In whom (Christ) we 
have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him," (Eph. 
3: 12:) thus undoubtedly showing that our faith is not true unless 
it enables us to appear calmly in the presence of God. Such boldness 
springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. So 
true is this, that the term faith is often used as equivalent to 
    16. The principal hinge on which faith turns is this: We must 
not suppose that any promises of mercy which the Lord offers are 
only true out of us, and not at all in us: we should rather make 
them ours by inwardly embracing them. In this way only is engendered 
that confidence which he elsewhere terms peace, (Rom. 5: 1;) though 
perhaps he rather means to make peace follow from it. This is the 
security which quiets and calms the conscience in the view of the 
judgment of God, and without which it is necessarily vexed and 
almost torn with tumultuous dread, unless when it happens to slumber 
for a moment, forgetful both of God and of itself. And verily it is 
but for a moment. It never long enjoys that miserable obliviousness, 
for the memory of the divine judgment, ever and anon recurring, 
stings it to the quick. In one word, he only is a true believer who, 
firmly persuaded that God is reconciled, and is a kind Father to 
him, hopes everything from his kindness, who, trusting to the 
promises of the divine favor, with undoubting confidence anticipates 
salvation; as the Apostle shows in these words, "We are made 
partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence 
steadfast unto the end," (Heb. 3: 14.) He thus holds, that none hope 
well in the Lord save those who confidently glory in being the heirs 
of the heavenly kingdom. No man, I say, is a believer but he who, 
trusting to the security of his salvation, confidently triumphs over 
the devil and death, as we are taught by the noble exclamation of 
Paul, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor 
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to 
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our 
Lord," (Rom. 8: 38.) In like manner, the same Apostle does not 
consider that the eyes of our understanding are enlightened unless 
we know what is the hope of the eternal inheritance to which we are 
called, (Eph. 1: 18.) Thus he uniformly intimates throughout his 
writings, that the goodness of God is not properly comprehended when 
security does not follow as its fruit. 
    17. But it will be said that this differs widely from the 
experience of believers, who, in recognizing the grace of God toward 
them, not only feel disquietude, (this often happens,) but sometimes 
tremble, overcome with terror, so violent are the temptations which 
assail their minds. This scarcely seems consistent with certainty of 
faith. It is necessary to solve this difficulty, in order to 
maintain the doctrine above laid down. When we say that faith must 
be certain and secure, we certainly speak not of an assurance which 
is never affected by doubt, nor a security which anxiety never 
assails; we rather maintain that believers have a perpetual struggle 
with their own distrust, and are thus far from thinking that their 
consciences possess a placid quiet, uninterrupted by perturbation. 
On the other hand, whatever be the mode in which they are assailed, 
we deny that they fall off and abandon that sure confidence which 
they have formed in the mercy of God. Scripture does not set before 
us a brighter or more memorable example of faith than in David, 
especially if regard be had to the constant tenor of his life. And 
yet how far his mind was from being always at peace is declared by 
innumerable complaints, of which it will be sufficient to select a 
few. When he rebukes the turbulent movements of his soul, what else 
is it but a censure of his unbelief? "Why art thou cast down, my 
soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God," (Psalm 
42: 6.) His alarm was undoubtedly a manifest sign of distrust, as if 
he thought that the Lord had forsaken him. In another passage we 
have a fuller confession: "I said in my haste, I am cut off from 
before thine eyes," (Psalm 31: 22.) In another passage, in anxious 
and wretched perplexity, he debates with himself, nay, raises a 
question as to the nature of God: "Has God forgotten to be gracious? 
has he in anger shut up his tender mercies?" (Psalm 77: 9.) What 
follows is still harsher: "I said this is my infirmity; but I will 
remember the years of the right hand of the Most High." As if 
desperate, he adjudges himself to destruction. He not only confesses 
that he is agitated by doubt, but as if he had fallen in the 
contest, leaves himself nothing in reserve, - God having deserted 
him, and made the hand which was wont to help him the instrument of 
his destruction. Wherefore, after having been tossed among 
tumultuous waves, it is not without reason he exhorts his soul to 
return to her quiet rest, (Psalm 116: 7.) And yet (what is strange) 
amid those commotions, faith sustains the believer's heart, and 
truly acts the part of the palm tree, which supports any weights 
laid upon it, and rises above them; thus David, when he seemed to be 
overwhelmed, ceased not by urging himself forward to ascend to God. 
But he who anxiously contending with his own infirmity has recourse 
to faith, is already in a great measure victorious. This we may 
infer from the following passage, and others similar to it: "Wait on 
the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: 
wait, I say, on the Lord," (Psalm 27: 14.) He accuses himself of 
timidity, and repeating the same thing twice, confesses that he is 
ever and anon exposed to agitation. Still he is not only 
dissatisfied with himself for so feeling, but earnestly labors to 
correct it. Were we to take a nearer view of his case, and compare 
it with that of Ahaz, we should find a great difference between 
them. Isaiah is sent to relieve the anxiety of an impious and 
hypocritical king, and addresses him in these terms: "Take heed, and 
be quiet; fear not," &c., (Isaiah 7: 4.) How did Ahab act? As has 
already been said, his heart was shaken as a tree is shaken by the 
wind: though he heard the promise, he ceased not to tremble. This, 
therefore, is the proper hire and punishment of unbelief, so to 
tremble as in the day of trial to turn away from God, who gives 
access to himself only by faith. On the other hand, believers, 
though weighed down and almost overwhelmed with the burden of 
temptation, constantly rise up, though not without toil and 
difficulty; hence, feeling conscious of their own weakness, they 
pray with the Prophet, "Take not the word of truth utterly out of my 
mouths" (Psalm 119: 43.) By these words, we are taught that they at 
times become dumb, as if their faith were overthrown, and yet that 
they do not withdraw or turn their backs, but persevere in the 
contest, and by prayer stimulate their sluggishness, so as not to 
fall into stupor by giving way to it. (See Calv. in Psalm 8: 16.) 
    18. To make this intelligible, we must return to the 
distinction between flesh and spirit, to which we have already 
adverted, and which here becomes most apparent. The believer finds 
within himself two principles: the one filling him with delight in 
recognizing the divine goodness, the other filling him with 
bitterness under a sense of his fallen state; the one leading him to 
recline on the promise of the Gospel, the other alarming him by the 
conviction of his iniquity; the one making him exult with the 
anticipation of life, the other making him tremble with the fear of 
death. This diversity is owing to imperfection of faith, since we 
are never so well in the course of the present life as to be 
entirely cured of the disease of distrust, and completely 
replenished and engrossed by faith. Hence those conflicts: the 
distrust cleaving to the remains of the flesh rising up to assail 
the faith enlisting in our hearts. But if in the believer's mind 
certainty is mingled with doubt, must we not always be carried back 
to the conclusion, that faith consists not of a sure and clear, but 
only of an obscure and confused, understanding of the divine will in 
regard to us? By no means. Though we are distracted by various 
thoughts, it does not follow that we are immediately divested of 
faith. Though we are agitated and carried to and fro by distrust, we 
are not immediately plunged into the abyss; though we are shaken, we 
are not therefore driven from our place. The invariable issue of the 
contest is, that faith in the long run surmounts the difficulties by 
which it was beset and seemed to be endangered. 
    19. The whole, then, comes to this: As soon as the minutest 
particle of faith is instilled into our minds, we begin to behold 
the face of God placid, serene, and propitious; far off, indeed, but 
still so distinctly as to assure us that there is no delusion in it. 
In proportion to the progress we afterwards make, (and the progress 
ought to be uninterrupted,) we obtain a nearer and surer view, the 
very continuance making it more familiar to us. Thus we see that a 
mind illumined with the knowledge of God is at first involved in 
much ignorance, - ignorance, however, which is gradually removed. 
Still this partial ignorance or obscure discernment does not prevent 
that clear knowledge of the divine favor which holds the first and 
principal part in faith. For as one shut up in a prison, where from 
a narrow opening he receives the rays of the sun indirectly and in a 
manner divided, though deprived of a full view of the sun, has no 
doubt of the source from which the light comes, and is benefited by 
it; so believers, while bound with the fetters of an earthly body, 
though surrounded on all sides with much obscurity, are so far 
illumined by any slender light which beams upon them and displays 
the divine mercy as to feel secure. 
    20. The Apostle elegantly adverts to both in different 
passages. When he says, "We know in part, and we prophesy in part;" 
and "Now we see through a glass darkly," (1 Cor. 13: 9, 12,) he 
intimates how very minute a portion of divine wisdom is given to us 
in the present life. For although those expressions do not simply 
indicate that faith is imperfect so long as we groan under a height 
of flesh, but that the necessity of being constantly engaged in 
learning is owing to our imperfection, he at the same time reminds 
us, that a subject which is of boundless extent cannot be 
comprehended by our feeble and narrow capacities. This Paul affirms 
of the whole Church, each individual being retarded and impeded by 
his own ignorance from making so near an approach as were to be 
wished. But that the foretaste which we obtain from any minute 
portion of faith is certain, and by no means fallacious, he 
elsewhere shows, when he affirms that "We all, with open face 
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the 
same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," 
(2 Cor. 3: 18.) In such degrees of ignorance much doubt and 
trembling is necessarily implied, especially seeing that our heart 
is by its own natural bias prone to unbelief. To this we must add 
the temptations which, various in kind and infinite in number, are 
ever and anon violently assailing us. In particular, conscience 
itself, burdened with an incumbent load of sins, at one time 
complains and groans, at another accuses itself; at one time murmurs 
in secret, at another openly rebels. Therefore, whether adverse 
circumstances betoken the wrath of God, or conscience finds the 
subject and matter within itself, unbelief thence draws weapons and 
engines to put faith to flight, the aim of all its efforts being to 
make us think that God is adverse and hostile to us, and thus, 
instead of hoping for any assistance from him, to make us dread him 
as a deadly foe. 
    21. To withstand these assaults, faith arms and fortifies 
itself with the word of God. When the temptation suggested is, that 
God is an enemy because he afflicts, faith replies, that while he 
afflicts he is merciful, his chastening proceeding more from love 
than anger. To the thought that God is the avenger of wickedness, it 
opposes the pardon ready to be bestowed on all offences whenever the 
sinner retakes himself to the divine mercy. Thus the pious mind, how 
much soever it may be agitated and torn, at length rises superior to 
all difficulties, and allows not its confidence in the divine mercy 
to be destroyed. Nay, rather, the disputes which exercise and 
disturb it tend to establish this confidence. A proof of this is, 
that the saints, when the hand of God lies heaviest upon them, still 
lodge their complaints with him, and continue to invoke him, when to 
all appearance he is least disposed to hear. But of what use were it 
to lament before him if they had no hope of solace? They never would 
invoke him did they not believe that he is ready to assist them. 
Thus the disciples, while reprimanded by their Master for the 
weakness of their faith in crying out that they were perishing, 
still implored his aid, (Matth. 8: 25.) And he, in rebuking them for 
their want of faith, does not disown them or class them with 
unbelievers, but urges them to shake off the vice. Therefore, as we 
have already said, we again maintain, that faith remaining fixed in 
the believer's breast never can be eradicated from it. However it 
may seem shaken and bent in this direction or in that, its flame is 
never so completely quenched as not at least to lurk under the 
embers. In this way, it appears that the word, which is an 
incorruptible seed, produces fruit similar to itself. Its germ never 
withers away utterly and perishes. The saints cannot have a stronger 
ground for despair than to feel, that, according to present 
appearances, the hand of God is armed for their destruction; and yet 
Job thus declares the strength of his confidence: "Though he slay 
me, yet will I trust in him." The truth is, that unbelief reigns not 
in the hearts of believers, but only assails them from without; does 
not wound them mortally with its darts, but annoys them, or, at the 
utmost, gives them a wound which can be healed. Faith, as Paul 
(declares, (Eph. 6: 16,) is our shield, which receiving these darts, 
either wards them off entirely, or at least breaks their force, and 
prevents them from reaching the vitals. Hence when faith is shaken, 
it is just as when, by the violent blow of a javelin, a soldier 
standing firm is forced to step back and yield a little; and again 
when faith is wounded, it is as if the shield were pierced, but not 
perforated by the blow. The pious mind will always rise, and be able 
to say with David, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the 
shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me," (Psalm 
23: 4.) Doubtless it is a terrific thing to walk in the darkness of 
death, and it is impossible for believers, however great their 
strength may be, not to shudder at it; but since the prevailing 
thought is that God is present and providing for their safety, the 
feeling of security overcomes that of fear. As Augustine says, - 
whatever be the engines which the devil erects against us, as he 
cannot gain the heart where faith dwells, he is cast out. Thus, if 
we may judge by the event, not only do believers come off safe from 
every contest so as to be ready, after a short repose, to descend 
again into the arena, but the saying of John, in his Epistle, is 
fulfilled, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our 
faith," (1 John 5: 4.) It is not said that it will be victorious in 
a single fight, or a few, or some one assault, but that it will be 
victorious over the whole world, though it should be a thousand 
times assailed. 
    22. There is another species of fear and trembling, which, so 
far from impairing the security of faith, tends rather to establish 
it; namely, when believers, reflecting that the examples of the 
divine vengeance on the ungodly are a kind of beacons warning them 
not to provoke the wrath of God by similar wickedness keep anxious 
watch, or, taking a view of their own inherent wretchedness, learn 
their entire dependence on God, without whom they feel themselves to 
be fleeting and evanescent as the wind. For when the Apostle sets 
before the Corinthians the scourges which the Lord in ancient times 
inflicted on the people of Israel, that they might be afraid of 
subjecting themselves to similar calamities, he does not in any 
degree destroy the ground of their confidence; he only shakes off 
their carnal torpor which suppresses faith, but does not strengthen 
it. Nor when he takes occasion from the case of the Israelites to 
exhort, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," 
(1 Cor. 10: 12,) he does not bid us waver, as if we had no security 
for our steadfastness: he only removes arrogance and rash confidence 
in our strength, telling the Gentiles not to presume because the 
Jews had been cast off, and they had been admitted to their place, 
(Rom. 11: 20.) In that passage, indeed, he is not addressing 
believers only, but also comprehends hypocrites, who gloried merely 
in external appearance; nor is he addressing individuals, but 
contrasting the Jews and Gentiles, he first shows that the rejection 
of the former was a just punishment of their ingratitude and 
unbelief, and then exhorts the latter to beware lest pride and 
presumption deprive them of the grace of adoption which had lately 
been transferred to them. For as in that rejection of the Jews there 
still remained some who were not excluded from the covenant of 
adoptions so there might be some among the Gentiles who, possessing 
no true faith, were only puffed up with vain carnal confidence, and 
so abused the goodness of God to their own destruction. But though 
you should hold that the words were addressed to elect believers, no 
inconsistency will follow. It is one thing, in order to prevent 
believers from indulging vain confidence, to repress the temerity 
which, from the remains of the flesh, sometimes gains upon them, and 
it is another thing to strike terror into their consciences, and 
prevent them from feeling secure in the mercy of God. 
    23. Then, when he bids us work out our salvation with fear and 
trembling, all he requires is, that we accustom ourselves to think 
very meanly of our own strength, and confide in the strength of the 
Lord. For nothing stimulates us so strongly to place all our 
confidence and assurance on the Lord as self diffidence, and the 
anxiety produced by a consciousness of our calamitous condition. In 
this sense are we to understand the words of the Psalmist: "I will 
come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear 
will I worship toward thy holy temples" (Ps. 5: 7.) Here he 
appropriately unites confident faith leaning on the divine mercy 
with religious fear, which of necessity we must feel whenever coming 
into the presence of the divine majesty we are made aware by its 
splendor of the extent of our own impurity. Truly also does Solomon 
declare: "Happy is the man that feareth alway; but he that hardeneth 
his heart falleth into mischief," (Prov. 28: 14.) The fear he speaks 
of is that which renders us more cautious, not that which produces 
despondency, the fear which is felt when the mind confounded in 
itself resumes its equanimity in God, downcast in itself, takes 
courage in God, distrusting itself, breathes confidence in God. 
Hence there is nothing inconsistent in believers being afraid, and 
at the same time possessing secure consolation as they alternately 
behold their own vanity, and direct their thoughts to the truth of 
God. How, it will be asked, can fear and faith dwell in the same 
mind? Just in the same way as sluggishness and anxiety can so dwell. 
The ungodly court a state of lethargy that the fear of God may not 
annoy them; and yet the judgment of God so urges that they cannot 
gain their desire. In the same way God can train his people to 
humility, and curb them by the bridle of modesty, while yet fighting 
bravely. And it is plain, from the context, that this was the 
Apostle's meaning, since he states, as the ground of fear and 
trembling, that it is God who worketh in us to will and to do of his 
good pleasure. In the same sense must we understand the words of the 
Prophet, "The children of Israel" "shall fear the Lord and his 
goodness in the latter days," (Hos. 3: 5.) For not only does piety 
beget reverence to God, but the sweet attractiveness of grace 
inspires a man, though desponding of himself, at once with fear and 
admiration, making him feel his dependence on God, and submit humbly 
to his power. 
    24. Here, however, we give no countenance to that most 
pestilential philosophy which some semi-papists are at present 
beginning to broach in corners. Unable to defend the gross doubt 
inculcated by the Schoolmen, they have recourse to another fiction, 
that they may compound a mixture of faith and unbelief. They admit, 
that whenever we look to Christ we are furnished with full ground 
for hope; but as we are ever unworthy of all the blessings which are 
offered us in Christ, they will have us to fluctuate and hesitate in 
the view of our unworthiness. In short, they give conscience a 
position between hope and fear, making it alternate, by successive 
turns, to the one and the other. Hope and fear, again, they place in 
complete contrast, - the one falling as the other rises, and rising 
as the other falls. Thus Satan, finding the devices by which he was 
wont to destroy the certainty of faith too manifest to be now of any 
avail, is endeavoring, by indirect methods, to undermine it. But 
what kind of confidence is that which is ever and anon supplanted by 
despair? They tell you, if you look to Christ salvation is certain; 
if you return to yourself damnation is certain. Therefore, your mind 
must be alternately ruled by diffidence and hope; as if we were to 
imagine Christ standing at a distance, and not rather dwelling in 
us. We expect salvation from him - not because he stands aloof from 
us, but because ingrafting us into his body he not only makes us 
partakers of all his benefits, but also of himself. Therefore, I 
thus retort the argument, If you look to yourself damnation is 
certain: but since Christ has been communicated to you with all his 
benefits, so that all which is his is made yours, you become a 
member of him, and hence one with him. His righteousness covers your 
sins - his salvation extinguishes your condemnation; he interposes 
with his worthiness, and so prevents your unworthiness from coming 
into the view of God. Thus it truly is. It will never do to separate 
Christ from us, nor us from him; but we must, with both hands, keep 
firm hold of that alliance by which he has riveted us to himself. 
This the Apostle teaches us: "The body is dead because of sin; but 
the spirit is life because of righteousness," (Rom. 8: 10.) 
According to the frivolous trifling of these objectors, he ought to 
have said, Christ indeed has life in himself, but you, as you are 
sinners, remain liable to death and condemnation. Very different is 
his language. He tells us that the condemnation which we of 
ourselves deserve is annihilated by the salvation of Christ; and to 
confirm this he employs the argument to which I have referred, viz., 
that Christ is not external to us, but dwells in us; and not only 
unites us to himself by an undivided bond of fellowship, but by a 
wondrous communion brings us daily into closer connection, until he 
becomes altogether one with us. And yet I deny not, as I lately 
said, that faith occasionally suffers certain interruptions when, by 
violent assault, its weakness is made to bend in this direction or 
in that; and its light is buried in the thick darkness of 
temptation. Still happen what may, faith ceases not to long after 
    25. The same doctrine is taught by Bernard when he treats 
professedly on this subject in his Fifth Homily on the Dedication of 
the Temple: "By the blessing of God, sometimes meditating on the 
soul, methinks, I find in it as it were two contraries. When I look 
at it as it is in itself and of itself, the truest thing I can say 
of it is, that it has been reduced to nothing. What need is there to 
enumerate each of its miseries? how burdened with sin, obscured with 
darkness, ensnared by allurements, teeming with lusts, ruled by 
passion, filled with delusions, ever prone to evil, inclined to 
every vice; lastly, full of ignominy and confusion. If all its 
righteousnesses, when examined by the light of truth, are but as 
filthy rags, (Is. 64: 6,) what must we suppose its unrighteousness 
to be? 'If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how 
great is that darkness?' (Matth. 6: 23.) What then? man doubtless 
has been made subject to vanity - man here been reduced to nothing - 
man is nothing. And yet how is he whom God exalts utterly nothing? 
How is he nothing to whom a divine heart has been given? Let us 
breathe again, brethren. Although we are nothing in our hearts, 
perhaps something of us may lurk in the heart of God. O Father of 
mercies! O Father of the miserable! how plantest thou thy heart in 
us? Where thy heart is, there is thy treasure also. But how are we 
thy treasure if we are nothing? All nations before thee are as 
nothing. Observe, before thee; not within thee. Such are they in the 
judgment of thy truth, but not such in regard to thy affection. Thou 
callest the things which be not as though they were; and they are 
not, because thou callest them 'things that be not:' and yet they 
are because thou callest them. For though they are not as to 
themselves, yet they are with thee according to the declaration of 
Paul: 'Not of works, but of him that calleth,'" (Rom. 9: 11.) He 
then goes on to say that the connection is wonderful in both points 
of view. Certainly things which are connected together do not 
mutually destroy each other. This he explains more clearly in his 
conclusion in the following terms: "If, in both views, we diligently 
consider what we are, - in the one view our nothingness, in the 
other our greatness, - I presume our glorying will seem restrained; 
but perhaps it is rather increased and confirmed, because we glory 
not in ourselves, but in the Lord. Our thought is, if he determined 
to save us we shall be delivered; and here we begin again to 
breathe. But, ascending to a loftier height, let us seek the city of 
God, let us seek the temple, let us seek our home, let us seek our 
spouse. I have not forgotten myself when, with fear and reverence, I 
say, We are, - are in the heart of God. We are, by his dignifying, 
not by our own dignity." 
    26. Moreover, the fear of the Lord, which is uniformly 
attributed to all the saints, and which, in one passage, is called 
"the beginning of wisdom," in another wisdom itself, although it is 
one, proceeds from a twofold cause. God is entitled to the reverence 
of a Father and a Lord. Hence he who desires duly to worship him, 
will study to act the part both of an obedient son and a faithful 
servant. The obedience paid to God as a Father he by his prophet 
terms honor; the service performed to him as a master he terms fear. 
"A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. If then I be 
a father, where is mine honor? and if I be a master, where is my 
fear?" But while he thus distinguishes between the two, it is 
obvious that he at the same time confounds them. The fear of the 
Lord, therefore, may be defined reverence mingled with honor and 
fear. It is not strange that the same mind can entertain both 
feelings; for he who considers with himself what kind of a father 
God is to us, will see sufficient reason, even were there no hell, 
why the thought of offending him should seem more dreadful than any 
death. But so prone is our carnal nature to indulgence in sin, that, 
in order to curb it in every way, we must also give place to the 
thought that all iniquity is abomination to the Master under whom we 
live; that those who, by wicked lives, provoke his anger, will not 
escape his vengeance. 
    27. There is nothing repugnant to this in the observation of 
John: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: 
because fear has torment," (1 John 4: 18.) For he is speaking of the 
fear of unbelief, between which and the fear of believers there is a 
wide difference. The wicked do not fear God from any unwillingness 
to offend him, provided they could do so with impunity; but knowing 
that he is armed with power for vengeance, they tremble in dismay on 
hearing of his anger. And they thus dread his anger, because they 
think it is impending over them, and they every moment expect it to 
fall upon their heads. But believers, as has been said, dread the 
offense even more than the punishment. They are not alarmed by the 
fear of punishment, as if it were impending over them, but are 
rendered the more cautious of doing anything to provoke it. Thus the 
Apostle addressing believers says, "Let no man deceive you with vain 
words; for because of these things, the wrath of God cometh upon the 
children of disobedience," (Eph. 5: 6; Col. 3: 6.) He does not 
threaten that wrath will descend upon them; but he admonishes them, 
while they think how the wrath of God is prepared for the wicked, on 
account of the crimes which he had enumerated, not to run the risk 
of provoking it. It seldom happens that mere threatening have the 
effect of arousing the reprobate; nay, becoming more callous and 
hardened when God thunders verbally from heaven, they obstinately 
persist in their rebellion. It is only when actually smitten by his 
hand that they are forced, whether they will or not, to fear. This 
fear the sacred writers term servile, and oppose to the free and 
voluntary fear which becomes sons. Some, by a subtle distinction, 
have introduced an intermediate species, holding that that forced 
and servile fear sometimes subdues the mind, and leads spontaneously 
to proper fear. 
    28 The divine favor to which faith is said to have respect, we 
understand to include in it the possession of salvation and eternal 
life. For if, when God is propitious, no good thing can be wanting 
to us, we have ample security for our salvation when assured of his 
love. "Turn us again, 0 God, and cause thy face to shine," says the 
Prophet, "and we shall be saved," (Ps. 80: 3.) Hence the Scriptures 
make the sum of our salvation to consist in the removal of all 
enmity, and our admission into favor; thus intimating, that when God 
is reconciled all danger is past, and every thing good will befall 
us. Wherefore, faith apprehending the love of God has the promise 
both of the present and the future life, and ample security for all 
blessings, (Eph. 2: 14.) The nature of this must be ascertained from 
the word. Faith does not promise us length of days, riches and 
honors, (the Lord not having been pleased that any of these should 
be appointed us;) but is contented with the assurance, that however 
poor we may be in regard to present comforts, God will never fail 
us. The chief security lies in the expectation of future life, which 
is placed beyond doubt by the word of God. Whatever be the miseries 
and calamities which await the children of God in this world, they 
cannot make his favor cease to be complete happiness. Hence, when we 
were desirous to express the sum of blessedness, we designated it by 
the favor of God, from which, as their source, all kinds of 
blessings flow. And we may observe throughout the Scriptures, that 
they refer us to the love of God, not only when they treat of our 
eternal salvation, but of any blessing whatever. For which reason 
David sings, that the loving-kindness of God experienced by the 
pious heart is sweeter and more to be desired than life itself, (Ps. 
63: 3.) In short, if we have every earthly comfort to a wish, but 
are uncertain whether we have the love or the hatred of God, our 
felicity will be cursed, and therefore miserable. But if God lift on 
us the light of his fatherly countenance, our very miseries will be 
blessed, inasmuch as they will become helps to our salvation. Thus 
Paul, after bringing together all kinds of adversity, boasts that 
they cannot separate us from the love of God: and in his prayers he 
uniformly begins with the grace of God as the source of all 
prosperity. In like manner, to all the terrors which assail us, 
David opposes merely the favor of God, - "Yea, though I walk through 
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art 
with me," (Ps. 23: 4.) And we feel that our minds always waver 
until, contented with the grace of God, we in it seek peace, and 
feel thoroughly persuaded of what is said in the psalm, "Blessed is 
the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he has chosen 
for his own inheritance," (Ps. 33: 12.) 
    29. Free promise we make the foundation of faith, because in it 
faith properly consists. For though it holds that God is always 
true, whether in ordering or forbidding, promising or threatening; 
though it obediently receive his commands, observe his prohibitions, 
and give heed to his threatening; yet it properly begins with 
promise, continues with it, and ends with it. It seeks life in God, 
life which is not found in commands or the denunciations of 
punishment, but in the promise of mercy. And this promise must be 
gratuitous; for a conditional promise, which throws us back upon our 
works, promises life only in so far as we find it existing in 
ourselves. Therefore, if we would not have faith to waver and 
tremble, we must support it with the promise of salvation, which is 
offered by the Lord spontaneously and freely, from a regard to our 
misery rather than our worth. Hence the Apostle bears this testimony 
to the Gospel, that it is the word of faith, (Rom. 10: 8.) This he 
concedes not either to the precepts or the promises of the Law, 
since there is nothing which can establish our faith, but that free 
embassy by which God reconciles the world to himself. Hence he often 
uses faith and the Gospel as correlative terms, as when he says, 
that the ministry of the Gospel was committed to him for "obedience 
to the faith;" that "it is the power of God unto salvation to every 
one that believeth;" that "therein is the righteousness of God 
revealed from faith to faith," (Rom. 1: 5, 16,17.) No wonder: for 
seeing that the Gospel is "the ministry of reconciliation," (2 Cor. 
5: 18,) there is no other sufficient evidence of the divine favor, 
such as faith requires to know. Therefore, when we say, that faith 
must rest on a free promise, we deny not that believers accept and 
embrace the word of God in all its parts, but we point to the 
promise of mercy as its special object. Believers, indeed, ought to 
recognize God as the judge and avenger of wickedness; and yet mercy 
is the object to which they properly look, since he is exhibited to 
their contemplation as "good and ready to forgive," "plenteous in 
mercy," "slow to anger," "good to all," and shedding "his tender 
mercies over all his works". Ps. 86: 5; 103: 8; 145: 8, 9.) 
    30. I stay not to consider the rabid objections of Pighius, and 
others like-minded, who inveigh against this restriction, as rending 
faith, and laying hold of one of its fragments. I admit, as I have 
already said, that the general object of faith (as they express it) 
is the truth of God, whether he threatens or gives hope of his 
favor. Accordingly, the Apostle attributes it to faith in Noah, that 
he feared the destruction of the world, when as yet it was not seen, 
(Heb. 11: 17.) If fear of impending punishment was a work of faith, 
threatening ought not to be excluded in defining it. This is indeed 
true; but we are unjustly and calumniously charged with denying that 
faith has respect to the whole word of God. We only mean to maintain 
these two points, - that faith is never decided until it attain to a 
free promise; and that the only way in which faith reconciles us to 
God is by uniting us with Christ. Both are deserving of notice. We 
are inquiring after a faith which separates the children of God from 
the reprobate, believers from unbelievers. Shall every man, then, 
who believes that God is just in what he commands, and true in what 
he threatens, be on that account classed with believers? Very far 
from it. Faith, then, has no firm footing until it stand in the 
mercy of God. Then what end have we in view in discoursing of faith? 
Is it not that we may understand the way of salvation? But how can 
faith be saving, unless in so far as it in grafts us into the body 
of Christ? There is no absurdity, therefore, when, in defining it, 
we thus press its special object, and, by way of distinction, add to 
the generic character the particular mark which distinguishes the 
believer from the unbeliever. In short, the malicious have nothing 
to carp at in this doctrine, unless they are to bring the same 
censure against the Apostle Paul, who specially designates the 
Gospel as "the word of faith," (Rom. 10: 8.) 
    31. Hence again we infer, as has already been explained, that 
faith has no less need of the word than the fruit of a tree has of a 
living root; because, as David testifies, none can hope in God but 
those who know his name, (Ps. 9: 10.) This knowledge, however, is 
not left to every man's imagination, but depends on the testimony 
which God himself gives to his goodness. This the same Psalmist 
confirms in another passage, "Thy salvation according to thy word," 
(Ps. 119: 41.) Again, "Save me," "I hoped in thy word," (Ps. 119: 
146, 147.) Here we must attend to the relation of faith to the word, 
and to salvation as its consequence. Still, however, we exclude not 
the power of God. If faith cannot support itself in the view of this 
power, it never will give Him the honor which is due. Paul seems to 
relate a trivial or very ordinary circumstance with regard to 
Abraham, when he says, that he believed that God, who had given him 
the promise of a blessed seed, was able also to perform it, (Rom. 4: 
21.) And in like manner, in another passage, he says of himself, "I 
know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep 
that which I have committed unto him against that day," (2 Tim. 1: 
12.) But let any one consider with himself, how he is ever and anon 
assailed with doubts in regard to the power of God, and he will 
readily perceive, that those who duly magnify it have made no small 
progress in faith. We all acknowledge that God can do whatsoever he 
pleases; but while every temptation, even the most trivial, fills us 
with fear and dread, it is plain that we derogate from the power of 
God, by attaching less importance to his promises than to Satan's 
threatening against them. 
    This is the reason why Isaiah, when he would impress on the 
hearts of the people the certainty of faith, discourses so 
magnificently of the boundless power of God. He often seems, after 
beginning to speak of the hope of pardon and reconciliation, to 
digress, and unnecessarily take a long circuitous course, describing 
how wonderfully God rules the fabric of heaven and earth, with the 
whole course of nature; and yet he introduces nothing which is not 
appropriate to the occasion; because unless the power of God, to 
which all things are possible is presented to our eye, our ears 
malignantly refuse admission to the word, or set no just value upon 
it. We may add, that an effectual power is here meant; for piety, as 
it has elsewhere been seen, always makes a practical application of 
the power of God; in particular, keeps those works in view in which 
he has declared himself to be a Father. Hence the frequent mention 
in Scripture of redemption; from which the Israelites might learn, 
that he who had once been the author of salvation would be its 
perpetual guardian. By his own example, also, David reminds us, that 
the benefits which God has bestowed privately on any individual, 
tend to confirm his faith for the time to come; nay, that when God 
seems to have forsaken us, we ought to extend our view farther, and 
take courage from his former favors, as is said in another psalm, "I 
remember the days of old: I meditate on all thy works," (Ps. 143: 
5.) Again "I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will 
remember thy wonders of old" (Ps. 77: 11.) But because all our 
conceptions of the power and works of God are evanescent without the 
word, we are not rash in maintaining, that there is no faith until 
God present us with clear evidence of his grace. 
    Here, however, a question might be raised as to the view to be 
taken of Sarah and Rebekah, both of whom, impelled as it would seem 
by zeal for the faith, went beyond the limits of the word. Sarah, in 
her eager desire for the promised seed, gave her maid to her 
husband. That she sinned in many respects is not to be denied; but 
the only fault to which I now refer is her being carried away by 
zeal, and not confining herself within the limits prescribed by the 
Word. It is certain, however, that her desire proceeded from faith. 
Rebekah, again, divinely informed of the election of her son Jacob, 
procures the blessing for him by a wicked stratagem; deceives her 
husband, who was a witness and minister of divine grace; forces her 
son to lie; by various frauds and impostures corrupts divine truth; 
in fine, by exposing his promise to scorn, does what in her lies to 
make it of no effect. And yet this conduct, however vicious and 
reprehensible, was not devoid of faith. She must have overcome many 
obstacles before she obtained so strong a desire of that which, 
without any hope of earthly advantage, was full of difficulty and 
danger. In the same way, we cannot say that the holy patriarch Isaac 
was altogether void of faith, in that, after he had been similarly 
informed of the honor transferred to the younger son, he still 
continues his predilection in favor of his first-born, Esau. These 
examples certainly show that error is often mingled with faith; and 
yet that when faith is real, it always obtains the preeminence. For 
as the particular error of Rebekah did not render the blessing of no 
effect, neither did it nullify the faith which generally ruled in 
her mind, and was the principle and cause of that action. In this, 
nevertheless, Rebekah showed how prone the human mind is to turn 
aside whenever it gives itself the least indulgence. But though 
defect and infirmity obscure faith, they do not extinguish it. Still 
they admonish us how carefully we ought to cling to the word of God, 
and at the same time confirm what we have taught, viz., that faith 
gives way when not supported by the word, just as the minds of 
Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah, would have lost themselves in devious 
paths, had not the secret restraint of Providence kept them obedient 
to the word. 
    32. On the other hand, we have good ground for comprehending 
all the promises in Christ, since the Apostle comprehends the whole 
Gospel under the knowledge of Christ, and declares that all the 
promises of God are in him yea, and amen. The reason for this is 
obvious. Every promise which God makes is evidence of his good will. 
This is invariably true, and is not inconsistent with the fact, that 
the large benefits which the divine liberality is constantly 
bestowing on the wicked are preparing them for heavier judgment. As 
they neither think that these proceed from the hand of the Lord, nor 
acknowledge them as his, or if they do so acknowledge them, never 
regard them as proofs of his favor, they are in no respect more 
instructed thereby in his mercy than brute beasts, which, according 
to their condition, enjoy the same liberality, and yet never look 
beyond it. Still it is true, that by rejecting the promises 
generally offered to them, they subject themselves to severer 
punishment. For though it is only when the promises are received in 
faith that their efficacy is manifested, still their reality and 
power are never extinguished by our infidelity or ingratitude. 
Therefore, when the Lord by his promises invites us not only to 
enjoy the fruits of his kindness, but also to meditate upon them, he 
at the same time declares his love. Thus we are brought back to our 
statement, that every promise is a manifestation of the divine favor 
toward us. Now, without controversy, God loves no man out of Christ. 
He is the beloved Son, in whom the love of the Father dwells, and 
from whom it afterwards extends to us. Thus Paul says "In whom he 
has made us accepted in the Beloved," (Eph. 1: 6.) It is by his 
intervention, therefore, that love is diffused so as to reach us. 
Accordingly, in another passage, the Apostle calls Christ "our 
peace," (Eph. 2: 14,) and also represents him as the bond by which 
the Father is united to us in paternal affection, (Rom. 8: 3.) It 
follows, that whenever any promise is made to us, we must turn our 
eyes toward Christ. Hence, with good reasons Paul declares that in 
him all the promises of God are confirmed and completed, (Rom. 15: 
8.) Some examples are brought forward as repugnant to this view. 
When Naaman the Syrian made inquiry at the prophet as to the true 
mode of worshipping God, we cannot (it is said) suppose that he was 
informed of the Mediator, and yet he is commended for his piety, (2 
Kings 5: 17-19.) Nor could Cornelius, a Roman heathen, be acquainted 
with what was not known to all the Jews, and at best known 
obscurely. And yet his alms and prayers were acceptable to God, 
(Acts 10: 31,) while the prophet by his answer approved of the 
sacrifices of Naaman. In both, this must have been the result of 
faith. In like manner, the eunuch to whom Philip was sent, had he 
not been endued with some degree of faith, never would have incurred 
the fatigue and expense of a long and difficult journey to obtain an 
opportunity of worship, (Acts 8: 27, 31;) and yet we see how, when 
interrogated by Philip, he betrays his ignorance of the Mediator. I 
admit that, in some respect, their faith was not explicit either as 
to the person of Christ, or the power and office assigned him by the 
Father. Still it is certain that they were imbued with principles 
which might give some, though a slender, foretaste of Christ. This 
should not be thought strange; for the eunuch would not have 
hastened from a distant country to Jerusalem to an unknown God; nor 
could Cornelius, after having once embraced the Jewish religion, 
have lived so long in Judea without becoming acquainted with the 
rudiments of sound doctrine. In regard to Naaman, it is absurd to 
suppose that Elisha, while he gave him many minute precepts, said 
nothing of the principal matter. Therefore, although their knowledge 
of Christ may have been obscure, we cannot suppose that they had no 
such knowledge at all. They used the sacrifices of the Law, and must 
have distinguished them from the spurious sacrifices of the 
Gentiles, by the end to which they referred, viz., Christ. 
    33. A simple external manifestation of the word ought to be 
amply sufficient to produce faith, did not our blindness and 
perverseness prevent. But such is the proneness of our mind to 
vanity, that it can never adhere to the truth of God, and such its 
dullness, that it is always blind even in his light. Hence without 
the illumination of the Spirit the word has no effect; and hence 
also it is obvious that faith is something higher than human 
understanding. Nor were it sufficient for the mind to be illumined 
by the Spirit of God unless the heart also were strengthened and 
supported by his power. Here the Schoolmen go completely astray, 
dwelling entirely in their consideration of faith, on the bare 
simple assent of the understanding, and altogether overlooking 
confidence and security of heart. Faith is the special gift of God 
in both ways, - in purifying the mind so as to give it a relish for 
divine truth, and afterwards in establishing it therein. For the 
Spirit does not merely originate faith, but gradually increases it, 
until by its means he conducts us into the heavenly kingdom. "That 
good thing which was committed unto thee," says Paul, "keep by the 
Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us," (2 Tim. 1: 14.) In what sense Paul 
says, (Gal. 3: 2,) that the Spirit is given by the hearing of faith, 
may be easily explained. If there were only a single gift of the 
Spirit, he who is the author and cause of faith could not without 
absurdity be said to be its effect; but after celebrating the gifts 
with which God adorns his church, and by successive additions of 
faith leads it to perfection, there is nothing strange in his 
ascribing to faith the very gifts which faith prepares us for 
receiving. It seems to some paradoxical, when it is said that none 
can believe Christ save those to whom it is given; but this is 
partly because they do not observe how recondite and sublime 
heavenly wisdom is, or how dull the mind of man in discerning divine 
mysteries, and partly because they pay no regard to that firm and 
stable constancy of heart which is the chief part of faith. 
    34. But as Paul argues, "What man knoweth the things of a man, 
save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God 
knoweth no man but the Spirit of God," (1 Cor. 2: 11.) If in regard 
to divine truth we hesitate even as to those things which we see 
with the bodily eye, how can we be firm and steadfast in regard to 
those divine promises which neither the eye sees nor the mind 
comprehends? Here human discernment is so defective and lost, that 
the first step of advancement in the school of Christ is to renounce 
it, (Matth. 11: 25; Luke 10: 21.) Like a veil interposed, it 
prevents us from beholding divine masteries, which are revealed only 
to babes. "Flesh and blood" does not reveal them, (Matth. 16: 17.) 
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for 
they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they 
are spiritually discerned," (I Cor. 2: 14.) The supplies of the Holy 
Spirit are therefore necessary, or rather his agency is here the 
only strength. "For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has 
been his counselor?" (Rom. 11: 34;) but "The Spirit searcheth all 
things, yea, the deep things of God," (1 Cor. 2: 10.) Thus it is 
that we attain to the mind of Christ: "No man can come to me, except 
the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at 
the last day." "Every man therefore that has heard, and learned of 
the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man has seen the Father, 
save he which is of God, he has seen the Father," (John 6: 44, 45, 
46.) Therefore, as we cannot possibly come to Christ unless drawn by 
the Spirit, so when we are drawn we are both in mind and spirit 
exalted far above our own understanding. For the soul, when 
illumined by him, receives as it were a new eye, enabling it to 
contemplate heavenly mysteries, by the splendor of which it was 
previously dazzled. And thus, indeed, it is only when the human 
intellect is irradiated by the light of the Holy Spirit that it 
begins to have a taste of those things which pertain to the kingdom 
of God; previously it was too stupid and senseless to have any 
relish for them. Hence our Savior, when clearly declaring the 
mysteries of the kingdom to the two disciples, makes no impression 
till he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24: 
27, 45.) Hence also, though he had taught the Apostles with his own 
divine lips, it was still necessary to send the Spirit of truth to 
instill into their minds the same doctrine which they had heard with 
their ears. The word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, 
like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. 
In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the word cannot 
penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his 
enlightening power make an entrance for it. 
    35. Having elsewhere shown more fully, when treating of the 
corruption of our nature, how little able men are to believe, (Book 
2, c. 2, 3,) I will not fatigue the reader by again repeating it. 
Let it suffice to observe, that the spirit of faith is used by Paul 
as synonymous with the very faith which we receive from the Spirit, 
but which we have not naturally, (2 Cor. 4: 13.) Accordingly, he 
prays for the Thessalonians, "that our God would count you worthy of 
this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and 
the work of faith with power," (2 Thess. 1: 2.) Here, by designating 
faith the work of God, and distinguishing it by way of epithet, 
appropriately calling it his good pleasure, he declares that it is 
not of man's own nature; and not contented with this, he adds, that 
it is an illustration of divine power. In addressing the 
Corinthians, when he tells them that faith stands not "in the wisdom 
of man, but in the power of God," (1 Cor. 2: 4,) he is no doubt 
speaking of external miracles; but as the reprobate are blinded when 
they behold them, he also includes that internal seal of which he 
elsewhere makes mention. And the better to display his liberality in 
this most excellent gift, God does not bestow it upon all 
promiscuously, but, by special privilege, imparts it to whom he 
will. To this effect we have already quoted passages of Scripture, 
as to which Augustine, their faithful expositor, exclaims, (De Verbo 
Apost. Serm. 2) "Our Savior, to teach that faith in him is a gift, 
not a merit, says, 'No man can come to me, except the Father, which 
has sent me, draw him,' (John 6: 44.) It is strange when two persons 
hear, the one despises, the other ascends. Let him who despises 
impute it to himself; let him who ascends not arrogate it to 
himself' In another passage he asks, "Wherefore is it given to the 
one, and not to the other? I am not ashamed to say, This is one of 
the deep things of the cross. From some unknown depth of the 
judgments of God, which we cannot scrutinize, all our ability 
proceeds. I see that I am able; but how I am able I see not: - this 
far only I see, that it is of God. But why the one, and not the 
other? This is too great for me: it is an abyss a depth of the 
cross. I can cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate." The 
whole comes to this, that Christ, when he produces faith in us by 
the agency of his Spirit, at the same time ingrafts us into his 
body, that we may become partakers of all blessings. 
    36. The next thing necessary is, that what the mind has imbibed 
be transferred into the heart. The word is not received in faith 
when it merely flutters in the brain, but when it has taken deep 
root in the heart, and become an invincible bulwark to withstand and 
repel all the assaults of temptation. But if the illumination of the 
Spirit is the true source of understanding in the intellect, much 
more manifest is his agency in the confirmation of the heart; 
inasmuch as there is more distrust in the heart than blindness in 
the mind; and it is more difficult to inspire the soul with security 
than to imbue it with knowledge. Hence the Spirit performs the part 
of a seal, sealing upon our hearts the very promises, the certainty 
of which was previously impressed upon our minds. It also serves as 
an earnest in establishing and confirming these promises. Thus the 
Apostle says, "In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed 
with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our 
inheritance," (Eph. 1: 13, 14.) You see how he teaches that the 
hearts of believers are stamped with the Spirit as with a seal, and 
calls it the Spirit of promise, because it ratifies the gospel to 
us. In like manner he says to the Corinthians, "God has also sealed 
us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts," (2 Cor. 1: 
22.) And again, when speaking of a full and confident hope, he 
founds it on the "earnest of the Spirit," (2 Cor. 5: 5.) 
    37. I am not forgetting what I formerly said, and experience 
brings daily to remembrance; viz., that faith is subject to various 
doubts, so that the minds of believers are seldom at rest, or at 
least are not always tranquil. Still, whatever be the engines by 
which they are shaken, they either escape from the whirlpool of 
temptation, or remain steadfast in their place. Faith finds security 
and protection in the words of the Psalm, "God is our refuge and 
strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore will not we 
fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into 
the midst of the sea," (Ps. 46: 1, 2.) This delightful tranquillity 
is elsewhere described: "I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the 
Lord sustained me," (Ps. 3: 5.) Not that David was uniformly in this 
joyful frame; but in so far as the measure of his faith made him 
sensible of the divine favor, he glories in intrepidly despising 
every thing that could disturb his peace of mind. Hence the 
Scripture, when it exhorts us to faith, bids us be at peace. In 
Isaiah it is said, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your 
strength," (Is. 30: 15;) and in the psalm, "Rest in the Lord, and 
wait patiently for him." Corresponding to this is the passage in the 
Hebrews, "Ye have need of patience," &c., (Heb. 10: 36.) 
    38. Hence we may judge how pernicious is the scholastic dogma, 
that we can have no stronger evidence of the divine favor toward us 
than moral conjecture, according as each individual deems himself 
not unworthy of it. Doubtless, if we are to determine by our works 
in what way the Lord stands affected towards us, I admit that we 
cannot even get the length of a feeble conjecture: but since faith 
should accord with the free and simple promise, there is no room 
left for ambiguity. With what kind of confidence, pray, shall we be 
armed if we reason in this way - God is propitious to us, provided 
we deserve it by the purity of our lives? But since we have reserved 
this subject for discussion in its proper place, we shall not 
prosecute it farther at present, especially seeing it is already 
plain that nothing is more adverse to faith than conjecture, or any 
other feeling akin to doubt. Nothing can be worse than their 
perversion of the passage of Ecclesiastes, which is ever in their 
mouths: "No man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before 
them," (Eccl. 9: 1.) For without insisting that the passage is 
erroneously rendered in the common version - even a child cannot 
fail to perceive what Solomon's meaning is, - viz., that any one who 
would ascertain, from the present state of things, who are in the 
favor or under the displeasure of God, labors in vain, and torments 
himself to no useful purpose, since "All things come alike to all;" 
"to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not:" and 
hence God does not always declare his love to those on whom he 
bestows uninterrupted prosperity, nor his hatred against those whom 
he afflicts. And it tends to prove the vanity of the human 
intellect, that it is so completely in the dark as to matters which 
it is of the highest importance to know. Thus Solomon had said a 
little before, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth 
beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth 
the other," (Eccl. 3: 19.) Were any one thence to infer that we hold 
the immortality of the soul by conjecture merely, would he not 
justly be deemed insane? Are those then sane who cannot obtain any 
certainty of the divine favor, because the carnal eye is now unable 
to discern it from the present appearance of the world? 
    39. But, they say, it is rash and presumptuous to pretend to an 
undoubted knowledge of the divine will. I would grant this, did we 
hold that we were able to subject the incomprehensible counsel of 
God to our feeble intellect. But when we simply say with Paul, "We 
have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is 
of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of 
God," (1 Cor. 2: 12,) what can they oppose to this, without offering 
insult to the Spirit of God? But if it is Sacrilege to charge the 
revelation which he has given us with falsehood, or uncertainty, or 
ambiguity, how can we be wrong in maintaining its certainty? But 
they still exclaim, that there is great temerity in our presuming to 
glory in possessing the Spirit of God. Who could believe that these 
men, who desire to be thought the masters of the world, could be so 
stupid as to err thus grossly in the very first principles of 
religion? To me, indeed, it would be incredible, did not their own 
writings make it manifest. Paul declares that those only are the 
sons of God who are led by his Spirit, (Rom. 8: 14;) these men would 
have those who are the sons of God to be led by their own, and void 
of the divine Spirit. He tells us that we call God our Father in 
terms dictated by the Spirit, who alone bears witness with our 
spirit that we are the sons of God, (Rom. 8: 16;) they, though they 
forbid us not to invoke God, withdraw the Spirit, by whose guidance 
he is duly invoked. He declares that those only are the servants of 
Christ who are led by the Spirit of Christ, (Rom. 8: 9;) they 
imagine a Christianity which has no need of the Spirit of Christ. He 
holds out the hope of a blessed resurrection to those only who feel 
His Spirit dwelling in them, (Rom. 8: 11;) they imagine hope when 
there is no such feeling. But perhaps they will say, that they deny 
not the necessity of being endued with the Spirit, but only hold it 
to be the part of modesty and humility not to recognize it. What, 
then, does Paul mean, when he says to the Corinthians, "Examine 
yourselves whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves. Know 
ye not your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be 
reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13: 5.) John, moreover, says, "Hereby we know 
that he abideth in us by the Spirit which he has given us," (1 John 
3: 24.) And what else is it than to bring the promises of Christ 
into doubt, when we would be deemed servants of Christ without 
having his Spirit, whom he declared that he would pour out on all 
his people? (Isa. 44: 3.) What! do we not insult the Holy Spirit, 
when we separate faith, which is his peculiar work, from himself? 
These being the first rudiments of religion, it is the most wretched 
blindness to charge Christians with arrogance, for presuming to 
glory in the presence of the Holy Spirit; a glorying without which 
Christianity itself does not exist. The example of these men 
illustrates the truth of our Savior's declaration, that his Spirit 
"the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth 
him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in 
you," (John 14: 17.) 
    40. That they may not attempt to undermine the certainty of 
faith in one direction only, they attack it in another, viz., that 
though it be lawful for the believer, from his actual state of 
righteousness, to form a judgment as to the favor of God, the 
knowledge of final perseverance still remains in suspense. An 
admirable security, indeed, is left us, if, for the present moment 
only, we can judge from moral conjecture that we are in grace, but 
know not how we are to be to-morrow! Very different is the language 
of the Apostle, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor 
things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall 
be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ 
Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 8: 38.) They endeavor to evade the force of 
this by frivolously pretending that the Apostle had this assurance 
by special revelation. They are too well caught thus to escape; for 
in that passage he is treating not of his individual experience, but 
of the blessings which all believers in common derive from faith. 
But then Paul in another passage alarms us by the mention of our 
weakness and inconstancy, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take 
heed lest he fall," (1 Cor. 10: 12.) True; but this he says not to 
inspire us with terror, but that we may learn to humble ourselves 
under the mighty hand of God, as Peter explains, (1 Pet. 5: 6.) Then 
how preposterous is it to limit the certainty of faith to a point of 
time; seeing it is the property of faith to pass beyond the whole 
course of this life, and stretch forward to a future immortality? 
Therefore since believers owe it to the favor of God, that, 
enlightened by his Spirit, they, through faith, enjoy the prospect 
of heavenly life; there is so far from an approach to arrogance in 
each glorying, that any one ashamed to confess it, instead of 
testifying modesty or submission, rather betrays extreme 
ingratitude, by maliciously suppressing the divine goodness. 
    41. Since the nature of faith could not be better or more 
clearly evinced than by the substance of the promise on which it 
leans as its proper foundation, and without which it immediately 
falls or rather vanishes away, we have derived our definition from 
it - a definition, however, not at all at variance with that 
definition, or rather description, which the Apostle accommodates to 
his discourse, when he says that faith is "the substance of things 
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," (Heb. 11: 1.) For by 
the term substance, ("hupostasis",) he means a kind of prop on which 
the pious mind rests and leans. As if he had said, that faith is a 
kind of certain and secure possession of those things which are 
promised to us by God; unless we prefer taking "hupostasis" for 
confidence. I have no objection to this, though I am more inclined 
to adopt the other interpretation, which is more generally received. 
Again, to intimate that until the last day, when the books will be 
opened, (Dan. 7: 10; Rev. 20: 12,) the things pertaining to our 
salvation are too lofty to be perceived by our sense, seen by our 
eyes, or handled by our hands, and that in the meantime there is no 
possible way in which these can be possessed by us, unless we can 
transcend the reach of our own intellect, and raise our eye above 
all worldly objects; in short, surpass ourselves, he adds that this 
certainty of possession relates to things which are only hoped for, 
and therefore not seen. For as Paul says, (Rom. 8: 24,) "A hope that 
is seen is not hope," that we "hope for that we see not." When he 
calls it the evidence or proof, or, as Augustine repeatedly renders 
it, (see Hom. in Joann. 79 and 95,) the conviction of things not 
present, the Greek term being "elengchos", it is the same as if he 
had called it the appearance of things not apparent, the sight of 
things not seen, the clearness of things obscure, the presence of 
things absent, the manifestation of things hid. For the mysteries of 
God (and to this class belong the things which pertain to our 
salvation) cannot be discerned in themselves, or, as it is 
expressed, in their own nature; but we behold them only in his word, 
of the truth of which we ought to be as firmly persuaded as if we 
held that every thing which it says were done and completed. But how 
can the mind rise to such a perception and foretaste of the divine 
goodness, without being at the same time wholly inflamed with love 
to God? The abundance of joy which God has treasured up for those 
who fear him cannot be truly known without making a most powerful 
impression. He who is thus once affected is raised and carried 
entirely towards him. Hence it is not strange that no sinister 
perverse heart ever experiences this feeling, by which, transported 
to heaven itself, we are admitted to the most hidden treasures of 
God, and the holiest recesses of his kingdom, which must not be 
profaned by the entrance of a heart that is impure. For what the 
Schoolmen say as to the priority of love to faith and hope is a mere 
dream, (see Sent. Lib. 3 Dist. 25, &c.,) since it is faith alone 
that first engenders love. How much better is Bernard, "The 
testimony of conscience, which Paul calls 'the rejoicing' of 
believers, I believe to consist in three things. It is necessary, 
first of all, to believe that you cannot have remission of sins 
except by the indulgence of God; secondly, that you cannot have any 
good work at all unless he also give it; lastly, that you cannot by 
any works merit eternal life unless it also be freely given," 
(Bernard, Serm. 1 in Annuntiatione.) Shortly after he adds, "These 
things are not sufficient, but are a kind of commencement of faith; 
for while believing that your sins can only be forgiven by God, you 
must also hold that they are not forgiven until persuaded by the 
testimony of the Holy Spirit that salvation is treasured up for us; 
that as God pardons sins, and gives merits, and after merits 
rewards, you cannot halt at that beginning." But these and other 
topics will be considered in their own place; let it suffice at 
present to understand what faith is. 
    42. Wherever this living faith exists, it must have the hope of 
eternal life as its inseparable companion, or rather must of itself 
beget and manifest it; where it is wanting, however clearly and 
elegantly we may discourse of faith, it is certain we have it not. 
For if faith is (as has been said) a firm persuasion of the truth of 
God - a persuasion that it can never be false, never deceive, never 
be in vain, those who have received this assurance must at the same 
time expect that God will perform his promises, which in their 
conviction are absolutely true; so that in one word hope is nothing 
more than the expectation of those things which faith previously 
believes to have been truly promised by God. Thus, faith believes 
that God is true; hope expects that in due season he will manifest 
his truth. Faith believes that he is our Father; hope expects that 
he will always act the part of a Father towards us. Faith believes 
that eternal life has been given to us; hope expects that it will 
one day be revealed. Faith is the foundation on which hope rests; 
hope nourishes and sustains faith. For as no man can expect any 
thing from God without previously believing his promises, so, on the 
other hand, the weakness of our faith, which might grow weary and 
fall away, must be supported and cherished by patient hope and 
expectation. For this reason Paul justly says, "We are saved by 
hope," (Rom. 8: 24.) For while hope silently waits for the Lord, it 
restrains faith from hastening on with too much precipitation, 
confirms it when it might waver in regard to the promises of God or 
begin to doubt of their truth, refreshes it when it might be 
fatigued, extends its view to the final goal, so as not to allow it 
to give up in the middle of the course, or at the very outset. In 
short, by constantly renovating and reviving, it is ever and anon 
furnishing more vigor for perseverance. On the whole, how necessary 
the reinforcements of hope are to establish faith will better appear 
if we reflect on the numerous forms of temptation by which those who 
have embraced the word of God are assailed and shaken. First, the 
Lord often keeps us in suspense, by delaying the fulfillment of his 
promises much longer than we could wish. Here the office of hope is 
to perform what the prophet enjoins, "Though it tarry, wait for it," 
(Hab. 2: 3.) Sometimes he not only permits faith to grow languid, 
but even openly manifests his displeasure. Here there is still 
greater necessity for the aid of hope, that we may be able to say 
with another prophet, "I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his 
face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him," (Isaiah 8: 
17.) Scoffers also rise up, as Peter tells us, and asks where is the 
promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things 
continue as they were from the beginning of the creation," (2 Pet. 
3: 4.) Nay, the world and the flesh insinuate the same thing. Here 
faith must be supported by the patience of hope, and fixed on the 
contemplation of eternity, consider that "one day is with the Lord 
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," (2 Pet. 3: 8; 
Ps. 90: 4.) 
    43. On account of this connection and affinity Scripture 
sometimes confounds the two terms faith and hope. For when Peter 
says that we are "kept by the power of God through faith until 
salvation, ready to be revealed in the last times" (1 Pet. 1: 5,) he 
attributes to faith what more properly belongs to hope. And not 
without cause, since we have already shown that hope is nothing else 
than the food and strength of faith. Sometimes the two are joined 
together, as in the same Epistles "That your faith and hope might be 
in God," (1 Pet. 1: 21.) Paul, again, in the Epistle to the 
Philippians, from hope deduces expectation, (Phil. 1: 20,) because 
in hoping patiently we suspend our wishes until God manifest his own 
time. The whole of this subject may be better understood from the 
tenth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to which I have already 
adverted. Paul, in another passage, though not in strict propriety 
of speech, expresses the same thing in these words, "For we through 
the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith," (Gal. 5: 
5;) that is, after embracing the testimony of the Gospel as to free 
love, we wait till God openly manifest what is now only an object of 
hope. It is now obvious how absurdly Peter Lombard lays down a 
double foundation of hope, viz., the grace of God and the merit of 
works, (Sent. Lib. 3, Dist. 26.) Hope cannot have any other object 
than faith has. But we have already shown clearly that the only 
object of faith is the mercy of God, to which, to use the common 
expression, it must look with both eyes. But it is worth while to 
listen to the strange reason which he adduces. If you presume, says 
he, to hope for any thing without merit, it should be called not 
hope, but presumption. Who, dear reader, does not execrate the gross 
stupidity which calls, it rashness, and presumption to confide in 
the truth of God? The Lord desires us to expect every thing from his 
goodness and yet these men tell us, it is presumption to rest in it. 
O teacher, worthy of the pupils, whom you found in these insane 
raving schools! Seeing that, by the oracles of God, sinners are 
enjoined to entertain the hope of salvation, let us willingly 
presume so far on his truth as to cast away all confidence in our 
works, and trusting in his mercy, venture to hope. He who has said, 
"According to your faith be it unto you," (Matth. 9: 29,) will never 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 3, Part 3

(continued in part 4...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvin3-03.txt