(Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4, part 3)
Chapter 2. Comparison between the false church and the true. 
    The divisions of the chapter are, - I. Description of a 
spurious Church, resembling the Papacy vaunting of personal 
succession, of which a refutation is subjoined, sec. 1-4. II. An 
answer, in name of the orthodox Churches, to the Popish accusations 
of heresy and schism. A description of the Churches existing at 
present under the Papacy. 
1. Recapitulation of the matters treated in the previous chapter. 
    Substance of the present chapter, viz.: Where lying and 
    falsehood prevail, no Church exists. There is falsehood 
    wherever the pure doctrine of Christ is not in vigour. 
2. This falsehood prevails under the Papacy. Hence the Papacy is not 
    a Church. Still the Papists extol their own Church, and charge 
    those who dissent from it with heresy and schism. They attempt 
    to defend their vaunting by the name of personal succession. A 
    succession which abandons the truth of Christ proved to be of 
    no importance. 
3. This proof confirmed, 1. By examples and passages of Scripture; 
    2. By reason and the authority of Augustine. 
4. Whatever the Papists may pretend, there is no Church where the 
    word of God appears not. 
5. The objection of personal succession, and the charge of heresy 
    and schism, refuted, both from Scripture and Augustine. 
6. The same thing confirmed by the authority of Cyprian. The 
    anathemas of the Papists of no consequence. 
7. The churches of the Papists in the same situation as those of the 
    Israelites, which revolted to superstition and idolatry under 
8. The character of those Israelitish churches. 
9. Hence the Papists act unjustly when they would compel us to 
    communion with their Church. Their two demands. Answer to the 
    first. Sum of the question. Why we cannot take part in the 
    external worship of the Papists. 
10. Second demand of the Papists answered. 
11. Although the Papacy cannot properly be called a Church, still, 
    against the will of Antichrist himself, there is some vestige 
    of a Church in the Papacy, as Baptism and some other remnants. 
12. The name of Church not conceded to the Papacy, though under its 
    domination there have been some kind of churches. Herein is a 
    fulfilment of Paul's prophecy, that Antichrist would sit in the 
    temple of God. Deplorable condition of such churches. Summary 
    of this chapter. 
    1. How much the ministry of the word and sacraments should 
weigh with us, and how far reverence for it should extend, so as to 
be a perpetual badge for distinguishing the Church, has been 
explained; for we have shown, first, that wherever it exists entire 
and unimpaired no errors of conduct, no defects should prevent us 
from giving the name of Church; and, secondly, that trivial errors 
in this ministry ought not to make us regard it as illegitimate. 
Moreover, we have shown that the errors to which such pardon is due, 
are those by which the fundamental doctrine of religion is not 
injured, and by which those articles of religion, in which all 
believers should agree, are not suppressed, while, in regard to the 
sacraments, the defects are such as neither destroy nor impair the 
legitimate institution of their Author. But as soon as falsehood has 
forced its way into the citadel of religion, as soon as the sum of 
necessary doctrine is inverted, and the use of the sacraments is 
destroyed, the death of the Church undoubtedly ensues, just as the 
life of man is destroyed when his throat is pierced, or his vitals 
mortally wounded. This is clearly evinced by the words of Paul when 
he says, that the Church is "built upon the foundation of the 
apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief 
corner-stone," (Eph. 2: 20.) If the Church is founded on the 
doctrine of the apostles and prophets, by which believers are 
enjoined to place their salvation in Christ alone, then if that 
doctrine is destroyed, how can the Church continue to stand? The 
Church must necessarily fall whenever that sum of religion which 
alone can sustain it has given way. Again, if the true Church is the 
pillar and ground of the truth," (1 Tim. 3: 15,) it is certain that 
there is no Church where lying and falsehood have usurped the 
    2. Since this is the state of matters under the Papacy, we can 
understand how much of the Church there survives. There, instead of 
the ministry of the word, prevails a perverted government, 
compounded of lies, a government which partly extinguishes, partly 
suppresses, the pure light. In place of the Lord's Supper, the 
foulest sacrilege has entered, the worship of God is deformed by a 
varied mass of intolerable superstitions; doctrine (without which 
Christianity exists not) is wholly buried and exploded, the public 
assemblies are schools of idolatry and impiety. Wherefore, in 
declining fatal participation in such wickedness, we run no risk of 
being dissevered from the Church of Christ. The communion of the 
Church was not instituted to be a chain to bind us in idolatry, 
impiety, ignorance of God, and other kinds of evil, but rather to 
retain us in the fear of God and obedience of the truth. They, 
indeed, vaunt loudly of their Church, as if there was not another in 
the world; and then, as if the matter were ended, they make out that 
all are schismatic who withdraw from obedience to that Church which 
they thus depicts that all are heretics who presume to whisper 
against its doctrine, (see sec. 5.) But by what arguments do they 
prove their possession of the true Church? They appeal to ancient 
records which formerly existed in Italy, France, and Spain, 
pretending to derive their origin from those holy men, who, by sound 
doctrine, founded and raised up churches, confirmed the doctrine, 
and reared the edifice of the Church with their blood; they pretend 
that the Church thus consecrated by spiritual gifts and the blood of 
martyrs was preserved from destruction by a perpetual succession of 
bishops. They dwell on the importance which Irenaeus, Tertullian, 
Origin, Augustine, and others, attached to this succession, (see 
sec. 3.) How frivolous and plainly ludicrous these allegations are, 
I will enable any, who will for a little consider the matter with 
me, to understand without any difficulty. I would also exhort our 
opponents to give their serious attention, if I had any hope of 
being able to benefit them by instruction; but since they have laid 
aside all regard to truth, and make it their only aim to prosecute 
their own ends in whatever way they can, I will only make a few 
observations by which good men and lovers of truth may disentangle 
themselves from their quibbles. First, I ask them why they do not 
quote Africa, and Egypt, and all Asia, just because in all those 
regions there was a cessation of that sacred succession, by the aid 
of which they vaunt of having continued Churches. They therefore 
fall back on the assertion, that they have the true Church, because 
ever since it began to exist it was never destitute of bishops, 
because they succeeded each other in an unbroken series. But what if 
I bring Greece before them? Therefore, I again ask them, Why they 
say that the Church perished among the Greeks, among whom there 
never was any interruption in the succession of bishops - a 
succession, in their opinion, the only guardian and preserver of the 
Church? They make the Greeks schismatic. Why? because, by revolting 
from the Apostolic See, they lost their privilege. What? Do not 
those who revolt from Christ much more deserve to lose it? It 
follows, therefore, that the pretence of succession is vain, if 
posterity do not retain the truth of Christ, which was handed down 
to them by their fathers, safe and uncorrupted, and continue in it. 
    3. In the present day, therefore, the pretence of the Romanists 
is just the same as that which appears to have been formerly used by 
the Jews, when the Prophets of the Lord charged them with blindness, 
impiety, and idolatry. For as the Jews proudly vaunted of their 
temple, ceremonies, and priesthood, by which, with strong reason, as 
they supposed, they measured the Church, so, instead of the Church, 
we are presented by the Romanists with certain external masks, which 
often are far from being connected with the Church and without which 
the Church can perfectly exist. Wherefore, we need no other argument 
to refute them than that with which Jeremiah opposed the foolish 
confidence of the Jews, namely, "Trust ye not in lying words, 
saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple 
of the Lord are these," (Jer. 7: 4.) The Lord recognises nothing as 
his owns save when his word is heard and religiously observed. Thus, 
though the glory of God sat in the sanctuary between the cherubim, 
(Ezek. 10: 4,) and he had promised that he would there have his 
stated abode, still when the priests corrupted his worship by 
depraved superstitions, he transferred it elsewhere, and left the 
place without any sanctity. If that temple which seemed consecrated 
for the perpetual habitation of God, could be abandoned by God and 
become profane, the Romanists have no ground to pretend that God is 
so bound to persons or places, and fixed to external observances, 
that he must remain with those who have only the name and semblance 
of a Church. This is the question which Paul discusses in the 
Epistle to the Romans, from the ninth to the twelfth chapter. Weak 
consciences were greatly disturbed when those who seemed to be the 
people of God not only rejected, but even persecuted the doctrine of 
the Gospel. Therefore, after expounding doctrine, he removes this 
difficulty, denying that those Jews, the enemies of the truth, were 
the Church, though they wanted nothing which might otherwise have 
been desired to the external form of the Church. The ground of his 
denial is, that they did not embrace Christ. In the Epistle to the 
Galatians, when comparing Ishmael with Isaac, he says still more 
expressly, that many hold a place in the Church to whom the 
inheritance does not belong, because they were not the offspring of 
a free parent. From this he proceeds to draw a contrast between two 
Jerusalems, because, as the Law was given on Mount Sinai, but the 
Gospel proceeded from Jerusalem, so many who were born and brought 
up in servitude confidently boast that they are the sons of God and 
of the Church; nay, while they are themselves degenerate, proudly 
despise the genuine sons of God. Let us also, in like manner, when 
we hear that it was once declared from heaven, "Cast out the 
handmaid and her son," trust to this inviolable decree, and boldly 
despise their unmeaning boasts. For if they plume themselves on 
external profession, Ishmael also was circumcised: if they found on 
antiquity, he was the first-born: and yet we see that he was 
rejected. If the reason is asked, Paul assigns it, (Rom. 9: 6,) that 
those only are accounted sons who are born of the pure and 
legitimate seed of doctrine. On this ground God declares that he was 
not astricted to impious priests, though he had made a covenant with 
their father Levi, to be their angel, or interpreter, (Mal. 2: 4;) 
nay, he retorts the false boast by which they were wont to rise 
against the Prophets, namely, that the dignity of the priesthood was 
to be held in singular estimation. This he himself willingly admits: 
and he disputes with them, on the ground that he is ready to fulfil 
the covenant, while they, by not fulfilling it on their part, 
deserve to be rejected. Here, then, is the value of succession when 
not conjoined with imitation and corresponding conduct: posterity, 
as soon as they are convicted of having revolted from their origin, 
are deprived of all honour; unless, indeed, we are prepared to say, 
that because Caiaphas succeeded many pious priests, (nay, the series 
from Aaron to him was continuous,) that accursed assembly deserved 
the name of Church. Even in earthly governments, no one would bear 
to see the tyranny of Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, and the like, 
described as the true condition of a republic, because they 
succeeded such men as Brutes, Scipio, and Camillus. That in the 
government of the Church especially, nothing is more absurd than to 
disregard doctrines and place succession in persons. Nor, indeed was 
any thing farther from the intention of the holy teachers, whom they 
falsely obtrude upon us, than to maintain distinctly that churches 
exist, as by hereditary right, wherever bishops have been uniformly 
succeeded by bishops. But while it was without controversy that no 
change had been made in doctrine from the beginning down to their 
day, they assumed it to be a sufficient refutation of all their 
errors, that they were opposed to the doctrine maintained 
constantly, and with unanimous consent, even by the apostles 
themselves. They have, therefore, no longer any ground for 
proceeding to make a gloss of the name of Church, which we regard 
with due reverence; but when we come to definition, not only (to use 
the common expression) does the water adhere to them, but they stick 
in their own mire, because they substitute a vile prostitute for the 
sacred spouse of Christ. That the substitution may not deceive us, 
let us, among other admonitions, attend to the following from 
Augustine. Speaking of the Church, he says, "She herself is 
sometimes obscured, and, as it were, beclouded by a multitude of 
scandals; sometimes, in a time of tranquillity, she appears quiet 
and free; sometimes she is covered and tossed by the billows of 
tribulation and trial." - (August. ad Vincent. Epist. 48.) As 
instances, he mentions that the strongest pillars of the Church 
often bravely endured exile for the faith, or lay hid throughout the 
    4. In this way the Romanists assail us in the present day, and 
terrify the unskilful with the name of Church, while they are the 
deadly adversaries of Christ. Therefore, although they exhibit a 
temple, a priesthood, and other similar masks, the empty glare by 
which they dazzle the eyes of the simple should not move us in the 
least to admit that there is a Church where the word of God appears 
not. The Lord furnished us with an unfailing test when he said, 
"Every one that is of the truth hearth my voice," (John 18: 37.) 
Again, "I am the good shepherds and know my sheep, and am known of 
mine." "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow 
me." A little before he had said, when the shepherd "putteth forth 
his own sheep he goes before them, and the sheep follow him; for 
they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will 
flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers," (John 10: 
14, 4, 5.) Why then do we, of our own accord, form so infatuated an 
estimate of the Church, since Christ has designated it by a sign in 
which is nothing in the least degree equivocal, a sign which is 
every where seen, the existence of which infallibly proves the 
existence of the Church, while its absence proves the absence of 
every thing that properly bears the name of Church? Paul declares 
that the Church is not founded either upon the judgements of men or 
the priesthood, but upon the doctrine of the Apostles and Prophets, 
(Eph. 2: 20.) Nay, Jerusalem is to be distinguished from Babylon, 
the Church of Christ from a conspiracy of Satan, by the 
discriminating test which our Saviour has applied to them, "He that 
is of God, hears God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye 
are not of God," (John 8: 47.) In short, since the Church is the 
kingdom of Christ, and he reigns only by his word, can there be any 
doubt as to the falsehood of those statements by which the kingdom 
of Christ is represented without his sceptre, in other words, 
without his sacred word? 
    5. As to their charge of heresy and schism, because we preach a 
different doctrine, and submit not to their laws and meet apart from 
them for Prayer, Baptism, the administration of the Supper, and 
other sacred rites, it is indeed a very serious accusation, but one 
which needs not a long and laboured defence. The name of heretics 
and schismatics is applied to those who, by dissenting from the 
Church, destroy its communion. This communion is held together by 
two chains, viz., consent in sound doctrine and brotherly charity. 
Hence the distinction which Augustine makes between heretics and 
schismatics is, that the former corrupt the purity of the faith by 
false dogmas, whereas the latter sometimes, even while holding the 
same faith, break the bond of union, (August. Lib. Quaest. in Evang. 
Matth.) But the thing to be observed is, that this union of charity 
so depends on unity of faith, as to have in it its beginning, its 
end, in fine, its only rule. Let us therefore remember, that 
whenever ecclesiastical unity is commended to us, the thing required 
is, that while our minds consent in Christ, our wills also be united 
together by mutual good-will in Christ. Accordingly, Paul, when he 
exhorts us to it, takes for his fundamental principle that there is 
"one God, one faith, one baptism," (Eph. 4: 5.) Nay, when he tells 
us to be "of one accord, of one mind," he immediately adds, "Let 
this mind be in you which has also in Christ Jesus," (Phil. 2: 2, 
5;) intimating, that where the word of the Lord is not, it is not a 
union of believers, but a faction of the ungodly. 
    6. Cyprian, also, following Paul, derives the fountain of 
ecclesiastical concord from the one bishopric of Christ, and 
afterwards adds, "There is one Church, which by increase from 
fecundity is more widely extended to a multitude, just as there are 
many rays of the sun, but one light, and many branches of a tree, 
but one trunk upheld by the tenacious root. When many streams flow 
from one fountain, though there seems wide spreading numerosity from 
the overflowing copiousness of the supply, yet unity remains in the 
origin. Pluck a ray from the body of the sun, and the unity sustains 
no division. Break a branch from a tree, and the branch will not 
germinate. Cut off a stream from a fountain, that which is thus cut 
off dries up. So the Church, pervaded by the light of the Lord, 
extends over the whole globe, and yet the light which is everywhere 
diffused is one," (Cyprian, de Simplicit. Praelat.) Words could not 
more elegantly express the inseparable connection which all the 
members of Christ have with each other. We see how he constantly 
calls us back to the head. Accordingly, he declares that when 
heresies and schisms arise, it is because men return not to the 
origin of the truth, because they seek not the head, because they 
keep not the doctrine of the heavenly Master. Let them now go and 
clamour against us as heretics for having withdrawn from their 
Church, since the only cause of our estrangement is, that they 
cannot tolerate a pure profession of the truth. I say nothing of 
their having expelled us by anathemas and curses. The fact is more 
than sufficient to excuse us, unless they would also make 
schismatics of the apostles, with whom we have a common cause. 
Christ, I say, forewarned his apostles, "they shall put you out of 
the synagogues," (John 16: 2.) The synagogues of which he speaks 
were then held to be lawful churches. Seeing then it is certain that 
we were cast out, and we are prepared to show that this was done for 
the name of Christ, the cause should first be ascertained before any 
decision is given either for or against us. This, however, if they 
choose, I am willing to leave to them; to me it is enough that we 
behaved to withdraw from them in order to draw near to Christ. 
    7. The place which we ought to assign to all the churches on 
which the tyranny of the Romish idol has seized will better appear 
if we compare them with the ancient Israelitish Church, as 
delineated by the prophets. So long as the Jews and Israelites 
persisted in the laws of the covenant, a true Church existed among 
them; in other words, they by the kindness of God obtained the 
benefits of a Church. True doctrine was contained in the law, and 
the ministry of it was committed to the prophets and priests. They 
were initiated in religion by the sign of circumcision, and by the 
other sacraments trained and confirmed in the faith. There can be no 
doubt that the titles with which the Lord honoured his Church were 
applicable to their society. After they forsook the law of the Lord, 
and degenerated into idolatry and superstition, they partly lost the 
privilege. For who can presume to deny the title of the Church to 
those with whom the Lord deposited the preaching of his word and the 
observance of his mysteries? On the other hand, who may presume to 
give the name of Church, without reservation, to that assembly by 
which the word of God is openly and with impunity trampled under 
foot - where his ministry, its chief support, and the very soul of 
the Church, is destroyed? 
    8. What then? (some one will say;) was there not a particle of 
the Church left to the Jews from the date of their revolt to 
idolatry? The answer is easy. First, I say that in the defection 
itself there were several gradations; for we cannot hold that the 
lapses by which both Judas and Israel turned aside from the pure 
worship of God were the same. Jeroboam, when he fabricated the 
calves against the express prohibition of God, and dedicated an 
unlawful place for worship, corrupted religion entirely. The Jews 
became degenerate in manners and superstitious opinions before they 
made any improper change in the external form of religion. For 
although they had adopted many perverse ceremonies under Rehoboam, 
yet, as the doctrine of the law and the priesthood, and the rites 
which God had instituted, continued at Jerusalem the pious still had 
the Church in a tolerable state. In regard to the Israelites, 
matters which, up to the time of Ahab, had certainly not been 
reformed, then became worse. Those who succeeded him, until the 
overthrow of the kingdom, were partly like him, and partly (when 
they wished to be somewhat better) followed the example of Jeroboam, 
while and without exceptions were wicked and idolatrous. In Judea 
different changes now and then took place, some kings corrupting the 
worship of God by false and superstitious inventions, and others 
attempting to reform it, until, at length, the priests themselves 
polluted the temple of God by profane and abominable rites. 
    9. Now then let the Papists, in order to extenuate their vices 
as much as possible, deny if they can, that the state of religion is 
as much vitiated and corrupted with them as it was in the kingdom of 
Israel under Jeroboam. They have a grosser idolatry, and in doctrine 
are not one whit more pure, rather perhaps they are even still more 
impure. God, nay, even those possessed of a moderate degree of 
judgement, will bear me witness, and the thing itself is too 
manifest to require me to enlarge upon it. When they would force us 
to the communion of their Church, they make two demands upon us - 
first, that we join in their prayers, their sacrifices, and all 
their ceremonies; and, secondly, that whatever honour, power, and 
jurisdiction, Christ has given to his Church, the same we must 
attribute to theirs. In regard to the first, I admit that all the 
prophets who were at Jerusalem, when matters there were very 
corrupt, neither sacrificed apart nor held separate meetings for 
prayer. For they had the command of God, which enjoined them to meet 
in the temple of Solomon, and they knew that the Levitical priests, 
whom the Lord had appointed over sacred matters, and who were not 
yet discarded, how unworthy soever they might be of that honour, 
were still entitled to hold it, (Exod. 29: 9.) But the principal 
point in the whole question is, that they were not compelled to any 
superstitious worship, nay, they undertook nothing but what had been 
instituted by God. But in these men, I mean the Papists, where is 
the resemblance? Scarcely can we hold any meeting with them without 
polluting ourselves with open idolatry. Their principal bond of 
communion is undoubtedly in the Mass, which we abominate as the 
greatest sacrilege. Whether this is justly or rashly done will be 
elsewhere seen, (see chap. 18; see also Book 2, chap. 15, sec. 6.) 
It is now sufficient to show that our case is different from that of 
the prophets, who, when they were present at the sacred rites of the 
ungodly, were not obliged to witness or use any ceremonies but those 
which were instituted by God. But if we would have an example in all 
respects similar, let us take one from the kingdom of Israel. Under 
the ordinance of Jeroboam, circumcision remained, sacrifices were 
offered, the law was deemed holy, and the God whom they had received 
from their fathers was worshipped; but in consequence of invented 
and forbidden modes of worship, everything which was done there God 
disapproved and condemned. Show me one prophet or pious man who once 
worshipped or offered sacrifice in Bethel. They knew that they could 
not do it without defiling themselves with some kind of sacrilege. 
We hold, therefore, that the communion of the Church ought not to be 
carried so far by the godly as to lay them under a necessity of 
following it when it has degenerated to profane and polluted rites. 
    10. With regard to the second point, our objections are still 
stronger. For when the Church is considered in that particular point 
of view as the Church, whose judgement we are bound to revere, whose 
authority acknowledge, whose admonitions obey, whose censures dread, 
whose communion religiously cultivate in every respect, we cannot 
concede that they have a Church, without obliging ourselves to 
subjection and obedience. Still we are willing to concede what the 
Prophets conceded to the Jews and Israelites of their day, when with 
them matters were in a similar, or even in a better condition. For 
we see how they uniformly exclaim against their meetings as profane 
conventicles, to which it is not more lawful for them to assent than 
to abjure God, (Isa. 1: 14.) And certainly if those were churches, 
it follows, that Elijah, Micaiah, and others in Israel, Isaiah, 
Jeremiah, Hosea, and those of like character in Judah, whom the 
prophets, priests, and people of their day, hated and execrated more 
than the uncircumcised, were aliens from the Church of God. If those 
were churches, then the Church was no longer the pillar of the 
truth, but the stay of falsehood, not the tabernacle of the living 
God, but a receptacle of idols. They were, therefore, under the 
necessity of refusing consent to their meetings, since consent was 
nothing else than impious conspiracy against God. For this same 
reason, should any one acknowledge those meetings of the present 
day, which are contaminated by idolatry, superstition, and impious 
doctrine, as churches, full communion with which a Christian must 
maintain so far as to agree with them even in doctrine, he will 
greatly err. For if they are churches, the power of the keys belongs 
to them, whereas the keys are inseparably connected with the word 
which they have put to flight. Again, if they are churches, they can 
claim the promise of Christ, "Whatsoever ye bind," &c.; whereas, on 
the contrary, they discard from their communion all who sincerely 
profess themselves the servants of Christ. Therefore, either the 
promise of Christ is vain, or in this respect, at least, they are 
not churches. In fine, instead of the ministry of the word, they 
have schools of impiety, and sinks of all kinds of error. Therefore, 
in this point of view, they either are not churches, or no badge 
will remain by which the lawful meetings of the faithful can be 
distinguished from the meetings of Turks. 
    11. Still, as in ancient times, there remained among the Jews 
certain special privileges of a Church, so in the present day we 
deny not to the Papists those vestiges of a Church which the Lord 
has allowed to remain among them amid the dissipation. When the Lord 
had once made his covenant with the Jews, it was preserved not so 
much by them as by its own strength, supported by which it withstood 
their impiety. Such, then, is the certainty and constancy of the 
divine goodness, that the covenant of the Lord continued there, and 
his faith could not be obliterated by their perfidy; nor could 
circumcision be so profaned by their impure hands as not still to be 
a true sign and sacrament of his covenant. Hence the children who 
were born to them the Lord called his own, (Ezek. 16: 20,) though, 
unless by special blessing, they in no respect belonged to him. So 
having deposited his covenant in Gaul, Italy, Germany, Spain, and 
England, when these countries were oppressed by the tyranny of 
Antichrist, He, in order that his covenant might remain inviolable, 
first preserved baptism there as an evidence of the covenant; - 
baptism, which, consecrated by his lips, retains its power in spite 
of human depravity; secondly, He provided by his providence that 
there should be other remains also to prevent the Church from 
utterly perishing. But as in pulling down buildings the foundations 
and ruins are often permitted to remain, so he did not suffer 
Antichrist either to subvert his Church from its foundation, or to 
level it with the ground, (though, to punish the ingratitude of men 
who had despised his word, he allowed a fearful shaking and 
dismembering to take place,) but was pleased that amid the 
devastation the edifice should remain, though half in ruins. 
    12. Therefore while we are unwilling simply to concede the name 
of Church to the Papists we do not deny that there are churches 
among them. The question we raise only relates to the true and 
legitimate constitution of the Church, implying communion in sacred 
rites, which are the signs of profession, and especially in 
doctrine. Daniel and Paul foretold that Antichrist would sit in the 
temple of God, (Dan. 9: 27; 2 Thess. 2: 4;) we regard the Roman 
Pontiff as the leader and standard-bearer of that wicked and 
abominable kingdom. By placing his seat in the temple of God, it is 
intimated that his kingdom would not be such as to destroy the name 
either of Christ or of his Church. Hence, then, it is obvious, that 
we do not at all deny that churches remain under his tyranny; 
churches, however, which by sacrilegious impiety he has profaned, by 
cruel domination has oppressed, by evil and deadly doctrines like 
poisoned potions has corrupted and almost slain; churches where 
Christ lies half-buried, the gospel is suppressed, piety is put to 
flight, and the worship of God almost abolished; where, in short, 
all things are in such disorder as to present the appearance of 
Babylon rather than the holy city of God. In one word, I call them 
churches, inasmuch as the Lord there wondrously preserves some 
remains of his people, though miserably torn and scattered, and 
inasmuch as some symbols of the Church still remain - symbols 
especially whose efficacy neither the craft of the devil nor human 
depravity can destroy. But as, on the other hand, those marks to 
which we ought especially to have respect in this discussion are 
effaced, I say that the whole body, as well as every single 
assembly, want the form of a legitimate Church. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume 4
(continued in part 4...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvin4-03.txt