Calvin, Institutes, Vol.3, Part 29
(... continued from part 28)
Chapter 24. 
24. Election confirmed by the calling of God. The reprobate bring 
upon themselves the righteous destruction to which they are doomed. 
    The title of this chapter shows that it consists of two parts, 
- I. The case of the Elect, from sec. 1-11. II. The case of the 
Reprobate, from sec. 12-17. 
1. The election of God is secret, but is manifested by effectual 
    calling. The nature of this effectual calling. How election and 
    effectual calling are founded on the free mercy of God. A cavil 
    of certain expositors refuted by the words of Augustine. An 
    exception disposed of. 
2. Calling proved to be free, 1. By its nature and the mode in which 
    it is dispensed. 2. By the word of God. 3. By the calling of 
    Abraham, the father of the faithful. 4. By the testimony of 
    John. 5. By the example of those who have been called. 
3. The pure doctrine of the calling of the elect misunderstood, 1. 
    By those who attribute too much to the human will. 2. By those 
    who make election dependent on faith. This error amply refuted. 
4. In this and the five following sections the certainty of election 
    vindicated from the assaults of Satan. The leading arguments 
    are: 1. Effectual calling. 2. Christ apprehended by faith. 3. 
    The protection of Christ, the guardian of the elect. We must 
    not attempt to penetrate to the hidden recesses of the divine 
    wisdom, in order to learn what is decreed with regard to us at 
    the judgment-seat. We must begin and end with the call of God. 
    This confirmed by an apposite saying of Bernard. 
5. Christ the foundation of this calling and election. He who does 
    not lean on him alone cannot be certain of his election. He is 
    the faithful interpreter of the eternal counsel in regard to 
    our salvation. 
6. Another security of our election is the protection of Christ our 
    Shepherd. How it is manifested to us. Objection 1. As to the 
    future state. 2. As to perseverance. Both objections refuted. 
7. Objection, that those who seem elected sometimes fall away. 
    Answer. A passage of Paul dissuading us from security 
    explained. The kind of fear required in the elect. 
8. Explanation of the saying, that many are called, but few chosen. 
    A twofold call. 
9. Explanation of the passage, that none is lost but the son of 
    perdition. Refutation of an objection to the certainty of 
10. Explanation of the passages urged against the certainty of 
    election. Examples by which some attempt to prove that the seed 
    of election is sown in the hearts of the elect from their very 
    birth. Answer. 1. One or two examples do not make the rule. 2. 
    This view opposed to Scripture. 3. Is expressly opposed by an 
11. An explanation and confirmation of the third answer. 
12. Second part of the chapter, which treats of the reprobate. Some 
    of them God deprives of the opportunity of hearing his word. 
    Others he blinds and stupefies the more by the preaching of it. 
13. Of this no other account can be given than that the reprobate 
    are vessels fitted for destruction. This confirmed by the case 
    of the elect; of Pharaoh and of the Jewish people both before 
    and after the manifestation of Christ. 
14. Question, Why does God blind the reprobate? Two answers. These 
    confirmed by different passages of Scripture. Objection of the 
    reprobate. Answer. 
15. Objection to this doctrine of the righteous rejection of the 
    reprobate. The first founded on a passage in Ezekiel. The 
    passage explained. 
16. A second objection founded on a passage in Paul. The apostle's 
    meaning explained. A third objection and fourth objection 
17. A fifth objection, viz., that there seems to be a twofold will 
    in God. Answer. Other objections and answers. Conclusion. 
    1. But that the subject may be more fully illustrated, we must 
treat both of the calling of the elect, and of the blinding and 
hardening of the ungodly. The former I have already in some measure 
discussed, (chap. 22, sec. 10, 11,) when refuting the error of those 
who think that the general terms in which the promises are made 
place the whole human race on a level. The special election which 
otherwise would remain hidden in God, he at length manifests by his 
calling. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be 
conformed to the image of his Son." Moreover, "whom he did 
predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also 
justified," that he may one day glorify, (Rom. 8: 29, 30.) Though 
the Lord, by electing his people, adopted them as his sons, we, 
however, see that they do not come into possession of this great 
good until they are called; but when called, the enjoyment of their 
election is in some measure communicated to them. For which reason 
the Spirit which they receive is termed by Paul both the "Spirit of 
adoption," and the "seal" and "earnest" of the future inheritance; 
because by his testimony he confirms and seals the certainty of 
future adoption on their hearts. For although the preaching of the 
gospel springs from the fountain of election, yet being common to 
them with the reprobate, it would not be in itself a solid proof. 
God, however, teaches his elect effectually when he brings them to 
faith, as we formerly quoted from the words of our Savior, "Not that 
any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen 
the Father," (John 6: 46.) Again, "I have manifested thy name unto 
the men which thou gavest me out of the world," (John 17: 6.) He 
says in another passage, "No man can come to me, except the Father 
which has sent me draw him," (John 6: 44.) This passage Augustine 
ably expounds in these words: "If (as Truth says) every one who has 
learned comes, then every one who does not come has not learned. It 
does not therefore follows that he who can come does come, unless he 
have willed and done it; but every one who has learned of the 
Father, not only can come, but also comes; the antecedence of 
possibility the affection of will, and the effect of action being 
now present," (August. de Grat. Chr. Cont. Pelag., Lib. 1, c. 14, 
31.) In another passage, he says still more clearly, "What means, 
Every one that has heard and learned of the Father comes unto me, 
but just that there is no one who hears and learns of the Father 
that does not come to me? For if every one who has heard and 
learned, comes; assuredly every one who does not come, has neither 
heard nor learned of the Father: for if he had heard and learned, he 
would come. Far removed from carnal sense is this school in which 
the Father is heard and teaches us to come to the Son," (August. de 
Praedes. Sanct. c. 8.) Shortly after, he says, "This grace, which is 
secretly imparted to the hearts of men, is not received by any hard 
heart; for the reason for which it is given is, that the hardness of 
the heart may first be taken away. Hence, when the Father is heard 
within, he takes away the stony heart, and gives a heart of flesh. 
Thus he makes them sons of promise and vessels of mercy, which he 
has prepared for glory. Why then does he not teach all to come to 
Christ, but just because all whom he teaches he teaches in mercy, 
while those whom he teaches not he teaches not in judgment? for he 
pities whom he will, and hardens whom he will." Those, therefore, 
whom God has chosen he adopts as sons, while he becomes to them a 
Father. By calling, moreover, he admits them to his family, and 
unites them to himself, that they may be one with him. When calling 
is thus added to election, the Scripture plainly intimates that 
nothing is to be looked for in it but the free mercy of God. For if 
we ask whom it is he calls, and for what reason, he answers, it is 
those whom he had chosen. When we come to election, mercy alone 
everywhere appears; and, accordingly, in this the saying of Paul is 
truly realized, "So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him 
that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy," (Rom. 9: 16;) and that 
not as is commonly understood by those who share the result between 
the grace of God and the will and agency of man. For their 
exposition is, that the desire and endeavor of sinners are of no 
avail by themselves, unless accompanied by the grace of God, but 
that when aided by his blessing, they also do their part in 
procuring salvation. This cavil I prefer refuting in the words of 
Augustine rather than my own: "If all that the apostle meant is, 
that it is not alone of him that willeth, or of him that runneth, 
unless the Lord be present in mercy, we may retort and hold the 
converse, that it is not of mercy alone, unless willing and running 
be present," (August. Enchir. ad Laurent., c. 31.) But if this is 
manifestly impious, let us have no doubt that the apostle attributes 
all to the mercy of the Lord, and leaves nothing to our wills or 
exertions. Such were the sentiments of that holy man. I set not the 
value of a straw on the subtlety to which they have recourse, viz., 
that Paul would not have spoken thus had there not been some will 
and effort on our part. For he considered not what might be in man; 
but seeing that certain persons ascribed a part of salvation to the 
industry of man, he simply condemned their error in the former 
clause, and then claimed the whole substance of salvation for the 
divine mercy. And what else do the prophets than perpetually 
proclaim the free calling of God? 
    2. Moreover, this is clearly demonstrated by the nature and 
dispensation of calling, which consists not merely of the preaching 
of the word, but also of the illumination of the Spirit. Who those 
are to whom God offers his word is explained by the prophet, "I am 
sought of them that asked not for me: I am found of them that sought 
me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not 
called by my name," (Isaiah 65: 1.) And lest the Jews should think 
that that mercy applied only to the Gentiles, he calls to their 
remembrance whence it was he took their father Abraham when he 
condescended to be his friend, (Isaiah 41: 8;) namely, from the 
midst of idolatry, in which he was plunged with all his people. When 
he first shines with the light of his word on the undeserving, he 
gives a sufficiently clear proof of his free goodness. Here, 
therefore, boundless goodness is displayed, but not so as to bring 
all to salvation, since a heavier judgment awaits the reprobate for 
rejecting the evidence of his love. God also, to display his own 
glory, withholds from them the effectual agency of his Spirit. 
Therefore, this inward calling is an infallible pledge of salvation. 
Hence the words of John, "Hereby we know that he abideth in us by 
the Spirit which he has given us," (1 John 3: 24.) And lest the 
flesh should glory, in at least responding to him, when he calls and 
spontaneously offers himself, he affirms that there would be no ears 
to hear, no eyes to see, did not he give them. And he acts not 
according to the gratitude of each, but according to his election. 
Of this you have a striking example in Luke, when the Jews and 
Gentiles in common heard the discourse of Paul and Barnabas. Though 
they were all instructed in the same word, it is said, that "as many 
as were ordained to eternal life believed," (Acts 13: 48.) How can 
we deny that calling is gratuitous, when election alone reigns in it 
even to its conclusion? 
    3. Two errors are here to be avoided. Some make man a 
fellow-worker with God in such a sense, that man's suffrage ratifies 
election, so that, according to them, the will of man is superior to 
the counsel of God. As if Scripture taught that only the power of 
being able to believe is given us, and not rather faith itself. 
Others, although they do not so much impair the grace of the Holy 
Spirit, yet, induced by what means I know not, make election 
dependent on faith, as if it were doubtful and ineffectual till 
confirmed by faith. There can be no doubt, indeed, that in regard to 
us it is so confirmed. Moreover, we have already seen, that the 
secret counsel of God, which lay concealed, is thus brought to 
light, by this nothing more being understood than that that which 
was unknown is proved, and as it were sealed. But it is false to say 
that election is then only effectual after we have embraced the 
gospel, and that it thence derives its vigor. It is true that we 
must there look for its certainty, because, if we attempt to 
penetrate to the secret ordination of God, we shall be engulfed in 
that profound abyss. But when the Lord has manifested it to us, we 
must ascend higher in order that the effect may not bury the cause. 
For what can be more absurd and unbecoming, than while Scripture 
teaches that we are illuminated as God has chosen us, our eyes 
should be so dazzled with the brightness of this light, as to refuse 
to attend to election? Meanwhile, I deny not that, in order to be 
assured of our salvation, we must begin with the word, and that our 
confidence ought to go no farther than the word when we invoke God 
the Father. For some to obtain more certainty of the counsel of God, 
(which is nigh us in our mouth, and in our heart, Deut. 30: 14,) 
absurdly desire to fly above the clouds. We must, therefore, curb 
that temerity by the soberness of faith, and be satisfied to have 
God as the witness of his hidden grace in the external word; 
provided always that the channel in which the water flows, and out 
of which we may freely drink, does not prevent us from paying due 
honor to the fountain. 
    4. Therefore as those are in error who make the power of 
election dependent on the faith by which we perceive that we are 
elected, so we shall follow the best order, if, in seeking the 
certainty of our election, we cleave to those posterior signs which 
are sure attestations to it. Among the temptations with which Satan 
assaults believers, none is greater or more perilous, than when 
disquieting them with doubts as to their election, he at the same 
time stimulates them with a depraved desire of inquiring after it 
out of the proper way. (See Luther in Genes. cap. 26.) By inquiring 
out of the proper way, I mean when puny man endeavors to penetrate 
to the hidden recesses of the divine wisdom, and goes back even to 
the remotest eternity, in order that he may understand what final 
determination God has made with regard to him. In this way he 
plunges headlong into an immense abyss, involves himself in 
numberless inextricable snares, and buries himself in the thickest 
darkness. For it is right that the stupidity of the human mind 
should be punished with fearful destruction, whenever it attempts to 
rise in its own strength to the height of divine wisdom. And this 
temptation is the more fatal, that it is the temptation to which of 
all others almost all of us are most prone. For there is scarcely a 
mind in which the thought does not sometimes rise, Whence your 
salvation but from the election of God? But what proof have you of 
your election? When once this thought has taken possession of any 
individual, it keeps him perpetually miserable, subjects him to dire 
torment, or throws him into a state of complete stupor. I cannot 
wish a stronger proof of the depraved ideas, which men of this 
description form of predestination, than experience itself 
furnishes, since the mind cannot be infected by a more pestilential 
error than that which disturbs the conscience, and deprives it of 
peace and tranquillity in regard to God. Therefore, as we dread 
shipwreck, we must avoid this rock, which is fatal to every one who 
strikes upon it. And though the discussion of predestination is 
regarded as a perilous sea, yet in sailing over it the navigation is 
calm and safe, nay pleasant, provided we do not voluntarily court 
danger. For as a fatal abyss engulfs those who, to be assured of 
their election, pry into the eternal counsel of God without the 
word, yet those who investigate it rightly, and in the order in 
which it is exhibited in the word, reap from it rich fruits of 
    Let our method of inquiry then be, to begin with the calling of 
God and to end with it. Although there is nothing in this to prevent 
believers from feeling that the blessings which they daily receive 
from the hand of God originate in that secret adoption, as they 
themselves express it in Isaiah, "Thou hast done wonderful things; 
thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth," (Isa. 25: 1.) For 
with this as a pledge, God is pleased to assure us of as much of his 
counsel as can be lawfully known. But lest any should think that 
testimony weak, let us consider what clearness and certainty it 
gives us. On this subject there is an apposite passage in Bernard. 
After speaking of the reprobate, he says, "The purpose of God 
stands, the sentence of peace on those that fear him also stands, a 
sentence concealing their bad and recompensing their good qualities; 
so that, in a wondrous manner, not only their good but their bad 
qualities work together for good. Who will lay any thing to the 
charge of God's elect? It is completely sufficient for my 
justification to have him propitious against whom only I have 
sinned. Every thing which he has decreed not to impute to me, is as 
if it had never been." A little after he says, "O the place of true 
rest, a place which I consider not unworthy of the name of 
inner-chamber, where God is seen, not as if disturbed with anger, or 
distracted by care, but where his will is proved to be good, and 
acceptable, and perfect. That vision does not terrify but soothe, 
does not excite restless curiosity but calms it, does not fatigue 
but tranquilizes the senses. Here is true rest. A tranquil God 
tranquilizes all things; and to see him at rest, is to be at rest," 
(Bernard, super Cantic. Serm. 14.) 
    5. First, if we seek for the paternal mercy and favor of God, 
we must turn our eyes to Christ, in whom alone the Father is well 
pleased, (Matth. 3: 17.) When we seek for salvation, life, and a 
blessed immortality, to him also must we retake ourselves, since he 
alone is the fountain of life and the anchor of salvation, and the 
heir of the kingdom of heaven. Then what is the end of election, but 
just that, being adopted as sons by the heavenly Father, we may by 
his favor obtain salvation and immortality? How much soever you may 
speculate and discuss you will perceive that in its ultimate object 
it goes no farther. Hence, those whom God has adopted as sons, he is 
said to have elected, not in themselves, but in Christ Jesus, (Eph. 
1: 4;) because he could love them only in him, and only as being 
previously made partakers with him, honor them with the inheritance 
of his kingdom. But if we are elected in him, we cannot find the 
certainty of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the 
Father, if we look at him apart from the Son. Christ, then, is the 
mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may 
contemplate our election. For since it is into his body that the 
Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to 
be his, that he may regard as sons all whom he acknowledges to be 
his members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof 
sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of 
Life. Moreover, he admitted us to sure communion with himself, when, 
by the preaching of the gospel, he declared that he was given us by 
the Father, to be ours with all his blessings,(Rom. 8: 32.) We are 
said to be clothed with him, to be one with him, that we may live, 
because he himself lives. The doctrine is often repeated, "God so 
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever 
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," 
(John 3: 16.) He who believes in him is said to have passed from 
death unto life, (John 5: 24.) In this sense he calls himself the 
bread of life, of which if a man eat, he shall never die, (John 6: 
35.) He, I say, was our witness, that all by whom he is received in 
faith will be regarded by our heavenly Father as sons. If we long 
for more than to be regarded as sons of God and heirs, we must 
ascend above Christ. But if this is our final goal, how infatuated 
is it to seek out of him what we have already obtained in him, and 
can only find in him? Besides, as he is the Eternal Wisdom, the 
Immutable Truth, the Determinate Counsel of the Father, there is no 
room for fear that any thing which he tells us will vary in the 
minutes degree from that will of the Father after which we inquire. 
Nay, rather he faithfully discloses it to us as it was from the 
beginning, and always will be. The practical influence of this 
doctrine ought also to be exhibited in our prayers. For though a 
belief of our election animates us to involve God, yet when we frame 
our prayers, it were preposterous to obtrude it upon God, or to 
stipulate in this way, "O Lord, if I am elected, hear me." He would 
have us to rest satisfied with his promises, and not to inquire 
elsewhere whether or not he is disposed to hear us. We shall thus be 
disentangled from many snares, if we know how to make a right use of 
what is rightly written; but let us not inconsiderately wrest it to 
purposes different from that to which it ought to be confined. 
    6. Another confirmation tending to establish our confidence is, 
that our election is connected with our calling. For those whom 
Christ enlightens with the knowledge of his name, and admits into 
the bosom of his Church, he is said to take under his guardianship 
and protection. All whom he thus receives are said to be committed 
and entrusted to him by the Father, that they may be kept unto life 
eternal. What would we have? Christ proclaims aloud that all whom 
the Father is pleased to save he has delivered into his protection, 
(John 6: 37-39, 17: 6, 12.) Therefore, if we would know whether God 
cares for our salvation, let us ask whether he has committed us to 
Christ, whom he has appointed to be the only Savior of all his 
people. Then, if we doubt whether we are received into the 
protection of Christ, he obviates the doubt when he spontaneously 
offers himself as our Shepherd, and declares that we are of the 
number of his sheep if we hear his voice, (John 10: 3, 16.) Let us, 
therefore, embrace Christ, who is kindly offered to us, and comes 
forth to meet us: he will number us among his flock, and keep us 
within his fold. But anxiety arises as to our future state. For as 
Paul teaches, that those are called who were previously elected, so 
our Savior shows that many are called, but few chosen, (Matth. 22: 
14.) Nay, even Paul himself dissuades us from security, when he 
says, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," (1 
Cor. 10: 12.) And again, "Well, because of unbelief they were broken 
off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for 
if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare 
not thee," (Rom. 11: 20, 21.) In fine, we are sufficiently taught by 
experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value 
without perseverance, which, however, is not the gift of all. But 
Christ has freed us from anxiety on this head; for the following 
promises undoubtedly have respect to the future: "All that the 
Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that comes to me I will 
in no wise cast out." Again, "This is the will of him that sent me, 
that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing; but should 
raise it up at the last day," (John 6: 37, 39.) Again "My sheep hear 
my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them 
eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man 
pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater 
than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand," 
(John 10: 27, 28.) Again when he declares, Every plant which my 
heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up," (Matth. 15: 
13,) he intimates conversely that those who have their root in God 
can never be deprived of their salvation. Agreeable to this are the 
words of John, "If they had been of us, they would no doubt have 
continued with us," (1 John 2: 19.) Hence, also, the magnificent 
triumph of Paul over life and death, things present, and things to 
come, (Rom. 8: 38.) This must be founded on the gift of 
perseverance. There is no doubt that he employs the sentiment as 
applicable to all the elect. Paul elsewhere says, "Being confident 
of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will 
perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1: 6.) David, 
also, when his faith threatened to fail, leant on this support, 
"Forsake not the works of thy hands." Moreover, it cannot be 
doubted, that since Christ prays for all the elect, he asks the same 
thing for them as he asked for Peter, viz., that their faith fail 
not, (Luke 22: 32.) Hence we infer, that there is no danger of their 
falling away, since the Son of God, who asks that their piety may 
prove constant, never meets with a refusal. What then did our Savior 
intend to teach us by this prayer, but just to confide, that 
whenever we are his our eternal salvation is secure? 
    7. But it daily happens that those who seemed to belong to 
Christ revolt from him and fall away: Nay, in the very passage where 
he declares that none of those whom the Father has given to him have 
perished, he excepts the son of perdition. This, indeed, is true; 
but it is equally true that such persons never adhered to Christ 
with that heartfelt confidence by which I say that the certainty of 
our election is established: "They went out from us," says John, 
"but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would, no 
doubt, have continued with us," (1 John 2: 19.) I deny not that they 
have signs of calling similar to those given to the elect; but I do 
not at all admit that they have that sure confirmation of election 
which I desire believers to seek from the word of the gospel. 
Wherefore, let not examples of this kind move us away from tranquil 
confidence in the promise of the Lord, when he declares that all by 
whom he is received in true faith have been given him by the Father, 
and that none of them, while he is their Guardian and Shepherd, will 
perish, (John 3: 16; 6: 39.) Of Judas we shall shortly speak, (sec. 
9.) Paul does not dissuade Christians from security simply, but from 
careless, carnal security, which is accompanied with pride, 
arrogance, and contempt of others, which extinguishes humility and 
reverence for God, and produces a forgetfulness of grace received, 
(Rom. 11: 20.) For he is addressing the Gentiles, and showing them 
that they ought not to exult proudly and cruelly over the Jews, in 
consequence of whose rejection they had been substituted in their 
stead. He also enjoins fear, not a fear under which they may waver 
in alarm, but a fear which, teaching us to receive the grace of God 
in humility, does not impair our confidence in it, as has elsewhere 
been said. We may add, that he is not speaking to individuals, but 
to sects in general, (see 1 Cor. 10: 12.) The Church having been 
divided into two parties, and rivalship producing dissension, Paul 
reminds the Gentiles that their having been substituted in the place 
of a peculiar and holy people was a reason for modesty and fear. For 
there were many vain-glorious persons among them, whose empty 
boasting it was expedient to repress. But we have elsewhere seen, 
that our hope extends into the future, even beyond death, and that 
nothing is more contrary to its nature than to be in doubt as to our 
future destiny. 
    8. The expression of our Savior, "Many are called, but few are 
chosen," (Matth. 22: 14,) is also very improperly interpreted, (see 
Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12.) There will be no ambiguity in it, if 
we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear, viz., 
that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal 
call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, 
invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be 
a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides 
this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows 
on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit 
he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. 
Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he 
enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment 
for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater 
blindness. Now, our Lord seeing that the gospel was published far 
and wide, was despised by multitudes, and justly valued by few, 
describes God under the character of a King, who, preparing a great 
feast, sends his servants all around to invite a great multitude, 
but can only obtain the presence of a very few, because almost all 
allege causes of excuse; at length, in consequence of their refusal, 
he is obliged to send his servants out into the highways to invite 
every one they meet. It is perfectly clear, that thus far the 
parable is to be understood of external calling. He afterwards adds, 
that God acts the part of a kind entertainer, who goes round his 
table and affably receives his guests; but still if he finds any one 
not adorned with the nuptial garment, he will by no means allow him 
to insult the festivity by his sordid dress. I admit that this 
branch of the parable is to be understood of those who, by a 
profession of faith, enter the Church, but are not at all invested 
with the sanctification of Christ. Such disgraces to his Church, 
such cankers God will not always tolerate, but will cast them forth 
as their turpitude deserves. Few, then, out of the great number of 
called are chosen; the calling, however, not being of that kind 
which enables believers to judge of their election. The former call 
is common to the wicked, the latter brings with it the spirit of 
regeneration, which is the earnest and seal of the future 
inheritance by which our hearts are sealed unto the day of the Lord, 
(Eph. 1: 13, 14.) In one word, while hypocrites pretend to piety, 
just as if they were true worshipers of God, Christ declares that 
they will ultimately be ejected from the place which they improperly 
occupy, as it is said in the psalm, "Lord, who shall abide in thy 
tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh 
uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his 
heart," (Psalm 15: 1, 2.) Again in another passage, "This is the 
generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob," 
(Psalm 24: 6.) And thus the Spirit exhorts believers to patience, 
and not to murmur because Ishmaelites are mingled with them in the 
Church since the mask will at length be torn off, and they will be 
ejected with disgrace. 
    9. The same account is to be given of the passage lately 
quoted, in which Christ says, that none is lost but the son of 
perdition, (John 17: 12.) The expression is not strictly proper; but 
it is by no means obscure: for Judas was not numbered among the 
sheep of Christ, because he was one truly, but because he held a 
place among them. Then, in another passage, where the Lord says, 
that he was elected with the apostles, reference is made only to the 
office, "Have I not chosen you twelve," says he, "and one of you is 
a devil?" (John 6: 70.) That is, he had chosen him to the office of 
apostle. But when he speaks of election to salvation, he altogether 
excludes him from the number of the elect, "I speak not of you all: 
I know whom I have chosen," (John 13: 18.) Should any one confound 
the term elect in the two passages, he will miserably entangle 
himself; whereas if he distinguish between them, nothing can be 
plainer. Gregory, therefore, is most grievously and perniciously in 
error; when he says that we are conscious only of our calling, but 
are uncertain of our election; and hence he exhorts all to fear and 
trembling, giving this as the reason, that though we know what we 
are to-day, yet we know not what we are to be, (Gregor. Hom. 38.) 
But in that passage he clearly shows how he stumbled on that stone. 
By suspending election on the merit of works, he had too good a 
reason for dispiriting the minds of his readers, while, at the same 
time, as he did not lead them away from themselves to confidence in 
the divine goodness, he was unable to confirm them. Hence believers 
may in some measure perceive the truth of what we said at the 
outset, viz., predestination duly considered does not shake faith, 
but rather affords the best confirmation of it. I deny not, however, 
that the Spirit sometimes accommodates his language to our feeble 
capacity; as when he says, "They shall not be in the assembly of my 
people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of 
Israel," (Ezek. 13: 9.) As if God were beginning to write the names 
of those whom he counts among his people in the Book of Life; 
whereas we know, even on the testimony of Christ, that the names of 
the children of God were written in the Book of Life from the 
beginning, (Luke 10: 20.) The words simply indicate the abandonment 
of those who seemed to have a chief place among the elect, as is 
said in the psalm, "Let them be blotted out of the Book of the 
Living, and not be written with the righteous," (Psalm 69: 28.) 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 3, Part 29

(continued in part 30...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvin3-29.txt