5: The Fifth Sermon on the First Chapter

 John Calvin

 

 

13. ĎYou also trust in Christ upon the hearing of the word of truth, that is to say, of the glad tidings of your salvation, by believing in which you are also sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise,

14. Which is the earnest of our inheritance, unto the redeeming of the purchased possession, to the praise of his gloryí

 

WE have seen so far how St. Paul has declared that there is no other ground of our salvation than Godís free goodness, and that we must not look anywhere else for the reason why he chooses the one person and forsakes the other. For it becomes us to hold ourselves contented with his pure will, purpose, and unchangeable decree. And whoever goes any further must inevitably stumble into such an abyss through his own rashness, that he shall feel that such as cannot honour Godís majesty and his secret counsel with all lowliness and reverence must all (I say) remain in confusion. Therefore whenever we come to search for the cause of our salvation, let us learn to attribute it altogether to God.

It is true that to be Godís children and heirs we must be of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which thing is brought about by faith, but yet we cannot believe the gospel except God draw us by his Holy Spirit. Now we see that he does not deal alike with all men. For he could very well enlighten all the world and bring it to pass that there should be no unbelievers at all, but we see the contrary. Therefore let us assure ourselves that he chooses whom he pleases. For if a man should ask the reason why he does it, it would be to lift ourselves up far too high; and that is the very reason why so many presumptuous people break their own necks, for they cannot find in their hearts to grant that God governs men according to his own will, as he has a perfect right to do. Furthermore, St. Paul has also, so far, set the Jews and Gentiles on equal footing, and that is a matter which requires still longer treatment. For seeing that God had chosen Abrahamís offspring, it might have been thought that there had been some natural worthiness in them. It is true, if we consider the grace that God showed to the Jews, that they are much to be preferred above all the rest of the world. But if a man take them as they are in themselves, he shall find them empty of all righteousness. For we must always come back to this point, that God is not bound or obliged to any man at all, and his reception of the Jews by free adoption is not because they were more worthy than other men, or in order that they might boast in themselves on account of it. Therefore you see why St. Paul says expressly that they which believed in Jesus Christ in times past are comprehended under Godís election as well as the others, and that the others cannot boast themselves to be more worthy, or to have deserved more than they, but that all must come to this point, that both of the Jews and of the Gentiles God chose whom he pleased, so that nothing should be considered in relation to this but only his mercy, and so that all mouths might be stopped and no man be able to allege that he contributed anything of his own.

Now, when St. Paul enters into this comparison between the Jews and the Gentiles, he says that if a man has regard to Godís accepting of the Jews for his own heritage, they were a holy lineage and he had given them his law and his promises by means of which they were in more excellent and high degree than all the rest whom he had rejected and forsaken. But if we have regard to God, all manís boasting must be put down. But St. Paul in that place speaks only of the forgiveness of our sins and of our embracing of Godís grace by faith, which things he shows cannot be attributed to any other cause than simply Godís pitying us. Also we have seen before in the Epistle to the Galatians how St. Paul said to Peter, Ďwe are Jews by natureí. [Gal. 2:15] For since it was a common opinion that the Jews were a holy lineage because they were descended of Abrahamís race, very well (he says), be that as it may, we have no other refuge or assurance of salvation but to believe in Jesus Christ, for he knew that men are utterly ruined and lost in themselves, because they bring nothing with them but Godís wrath and curse. Therefore, just as in those passages, St. Paul has shown that men deceive themselves if they imagine that they have any merit or worthiness in them, so now, for the better confirmation of the same doctrine and to take away all disputing and to beat back all contradictions, he brings us to this source, namely, that God not only gives faith to whom he pleases, but also has elected and chosen us before the creation of the world. You see then that what we have to observe, in effect, is that all men, from the greatest to the least, are indebted to God, and there is none so holy or excellent that can claim exemption from that general state of men.

Now, in the next place, St. Paul magnifies Godís goodness in that the Ephesians were gathered together and made one with those that were held and counted before as Godís people and the household of his church. Before the Ephesians believed the gospel, there was great diversity among them, as will be shown at greater length in the second chapter. But, in spite of the fact that the believing Jews who had already been converted to our Lord Jesus Christ were as brethren to the angels of heaven, since they were members of the Head that was common to them both, whereas, in the meanwhile, the Ephesians were poor wretches, shut out from all hope of salvation, enemies of God, and devoted to destruction, God nevertheless took away that diversity and set them all in one company. Godís goodness, therefore, was so much the more manifest in that he thus rescued them who were plunged into the bottom of hell, to join them with his own children and to make them fellows and heirs of his heavenly kingdom. That, therefore, is the reason why St. Paul, having spoken of such as had believed in Jesus Christ before, tells us expressly that God has gathered and established his church in such a way that it clearly appears that the greatest depend wholly upon him and have no other thing to rest on than his pure mercy; and that those who were, so to speak, cast away, even hated, have reason to glorify him, seeing he has delivered them from the confusion they were in.

And, furthermore, St. Paul shows that what he had said before is proved true to us by the effects of Godís grace. For (as I have said before) our election is a secret thing, and even incomprehensible. When men have enquired into it as much as possible, they must surely quail in all their own thoughts, if they attempt to enter into the eternal counsel of God. And therefore it is not lawful for us to seek any further than the Scripture guides us and shows us the way. You see then that Godís choosing of us is hidden in himself, but yet he gives us evidence of it by the gifts of grace bestowed upon us, such as faith, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit. So much for one point.

Now, although it were only such a gift as when he makes his sun to shine both upon the good and the bad, or as when he causes the earth to bring forth fruit for all men without exception, it nevertheless ought also to be counted among Godís gifts and benefits. But faith is a special gift which is not bestowed upon all men in common, but is reserved by God as a treasure to be given just as he pleases. And what is the reason for it? We are all of us the children of Adam, and we are all of the same stock. Why then does he enlighten some and leave the others alone in their blindness? There is no other reason but his election. So then, although we cannot conceive either by argument or reason how God has elected us before the creation of the world, yet we know it by his declaring it to us; and experience itself vouches for it sufficiently when we are enlightened in the faith. What is the reason why I receive the gospel and cleave to it, and, meanwhile, others remain in their beast-like stupidity, or are even embittered against the doctrine of salvation? If I imagine that it is due to my own skill, I am guilty of sacrilege. For we must always come back to that which we have seen already and say, ĎWho is he that has made you more excellent than others?í [1Cor. 4:7]

St. Paul, then, in that saying pulls down all manís pride, in order that no man should put himself forward or affirm that he has anything of his own. We must not think (he says) that we have any worthiness of ourselves, but that all comes and proceeds from God. Therefore, in this text, St. Paul shows from experience how the Ephesians had been elected by God and that it behoved them to have their whole faith grounded upon that, that is to say, upon Godís free goodness. And you have the proof of it (he says) in that you have heard the doctrine of the gospel and believed it. But how did that come to pass? He shows that they had to be sealed by the Holy Spirit. Now, if they were sealed, it was indeed necessary for the Holy Spirit to work beforehand. And so it is useless to enter into so deep a labyrinth as Godís eternal counsel. For he shows us, as it were with his finger, how he has elected us, at least if we are not ungrateful to him, but acknowledge the good he has done us and are fully persuaded and resolved in ourselves that there is no other reason for it than that he has set his seal upon us from all eternity; in other words, that he has reserved us for himself as his own children. We see, then, St. Paulís meaning, and, therefore, let us learn not to make long preambles, when it is a question simply of confessing that we have all only through the pure mercy of God. For the faith that we have shows it well enough, because (as I have said before) it does not come from our own mother wit, but as a gift from above, and such a one as God communicates not to all indifferently, but only to such as he pleases.

Furthermore, here are many words well worth weighing. For, on the one hand, St. Paul intends to magnify the grace of the Holy Spirit by showing that we can have no part or lot in our Lord Jesus Christ, or in any of all the benefits he has purchased for us, except God put us in possession of our salvation by his Holy Spirit. That, therefore, is one point. And yet, St. Paul does not fail to show as well the inestimable benefit that we have by the gospel in that he terms it Ďthe word of truthí and Ďthe gospel of salvationí. For, first of all, he meant to assure us, in order that we might have an infallible warrant to call upon God without doubting or scruple of conscience. For so long as we are in doubt whether God loves or hates us, it is impossible for us to pray truly to him, and so by that means you see how our salvation is utterly defeated, according to what is said by the prophet Joel. [Joel 2:32] And it is a common doctrine in the holy Scripture that we cannot obtain salvation, except by seeking refuge in God by prayers and supplications. But we should be shut out from that if we did not have the assurance spoken of, as we shall see more fully in the third chapter.

Therefore it is necessary for us to be fully assured that God is our Father, and that he accepts us for his children. And how shall we be sure of that unless the doctrine of the gospel is so certain in all points that it is not lawful for us to call it into question? That, therefore, is the reason why St. Paul says that it is the word of truth. No doubt, there are other truths also, for even when God threatens us, he does not do it in pretence, or yet in vain, for both his promises and his threatenings have their sure and certain fulfilment. But, since the present case concerns the correcting of all unbelief in us, to which we are so much inclined, St. Paul has termed the gospel, the doctrine of truth; as if he should say, My friends, God is a faithful witness to you of his own will, for the gospel is as much as if he showed his heart to you. Therefore, rest yourselves upon it. Moreover, he says also that our salvation lies enfolded in the gospel, and that is to make us love it and prize it. For would we be so senseless or so stark mad as to pour scorn upon our own welfare But yet, he says that all this comes from Godís pure mercy and eternal election, which is remote and unknown to us, but we have knowledge of it by the gospel which is its means and its instrument. For what would be the purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ offering himself in sacrifice to reconcile the world to God his Father, unless we are made partakers of it by faith Now faith is not an opinion conceived by man in his own brain, but a settled belief that God cannot lie or deceive us, and that it is not to be feared that our hope shall not finally be well satisfied, if we wait upon him. So then, in short, St. Paulís intention was to show that if we know how to profit by the doctrine of the gospel, we shall no longer be disquieted and perplexed, but shall be able to call upon God wholeheartedly, acknowledging ourselves so bound and wholly indebted to him in all things that we have no fear that he owns us for his children, that we are accepted by him, and that he hears us in all the prayers we offer to him. So much for the first point.

Therefore, in accordance with St. Paulís exhortation, let us learn to rest in such a way upon the doctrine of the gospel, that it may be as if God showed himself visibly to us, and that the heavens were opened to us. And let us always bear in mind how it is pronounced by the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ himself that, whenever sins are forgiven men by the preaching of the gospel, the same is there and then ratified in heaven. [Matt. 16:19; Jn. 20:23] Thus you see what certainty we ought to have, so that we are no more doubtful whether God will hear us or not. But just as the gospel teaches us to believe, so also St. Paul shows us that we ought to prize it as an incomparable treasure, since it is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe, as he says in the first chapter to the Romans. [Rom. 1:16] Seeing then that we are lost and undone of ourselves, and there is no other means to call us back again to God but by the gospel, let us greatly value that treasure and see to it that we profit by it. And in so doing, let us fearlessly despise both the devil himself and all his temptations which he practises against us, seeing that God has called us and given us sufficient evidence of his fatherly love and good will towards us.

But let us come to the second matter I referred to. For St. Paul shows that besides Godís consenting to have the gospel preached to us, it behoves him also to work by his Holy Spirit and by a special grace. And, in fact, we shall find many that will grant freely enough that God was not moved to send us his gospel by any other motive than his own free grace; but, at the same time, they surmise that the reason why some receive it and some do not, is because their own free wills hold sway, and so, by that means, Godís grace is diminished. For God does not offer us his grace, as a man might offer an apple to little children, so that the best runner should come and have it. If God should thus toss it out, it is certain that the greatest part of our salvation would be the product of our own power and skill, and the praise of it would redound to ourselves.

Now, after St. Paul has shown that God has called and daily calls us to the inheritance of his heavenly kingdom, and that his so doing proceeds from his own pure, free grace, he further adds that we must be under the influence of his Holy Spirit. It is true he here sets down only one part of the grace of the Holy Spirit, but that is because he has set down the other part before, for he has not, in this passage, forgotten anything that belonged to his argument, but he began with Godís free goodness with which we are all filled, and showed that faith springs out of that fountain of free election. But now, for the second part, he adds that Godís enlightening of us by his Holy Spirit so that, whereas we were blind, he has imprinted his grace in our hearts and bowed and bent them to his obedience, is not enough for us, but, in addition, he must establish us and strengthen our faith by giving us an invincible perseverance to hold out to the end.

You see then where St. Paul is bringing us. Besides our receiving of faith at the hand of the Holy Spirit and besides his enlightening of us by his grace, of which I have spoken already, God also secures us in such a way that we do not fall away. To understand this better, we must first call to mind what has already been dealt with at greater length, that is to say, that so long as God leaves us alone in our own state and plight, we are blind wretches wandering in darkness, and no matter what is preached or said to us, we remain unmoved in our brutishness. For the carnal man shall never understand anything that pertains to God, or to his own salvation. [1Cor. 2 :14] You see then how we are utterly barred and excluded from heavenly light till God pities us and gives us the spirit of light and understanding. So much for the first point. And since that point has been discussed before, it is sufficient to do no more than to remind you of it.

Now there is yet another point, which is that when we have once embraced Godís grace by faith, so that we know that our Lord Jesus Christ is he in whom we find all that is required to make us perfectly happy, it is very necessary for us to be established in this truth. And why Let us notice how volatile men are. He that is best disposed to follow God will soon fall, for we are so frail that the devil will overcome us every minute of time, if God does not hold us up with a strong hand. And for that reason it is said that God manifests his power in upholding us when he has elected us and given us to our Lord Jesus Christ. For if he did not fight for us, alas, what would become of us We should be absolutely confounded, and not by reason of one stroke only, but there would be an infinite number of falls, as I said before. As soon as we were in the way of salvation, we should at once be turned out of it by our own frailty, lightness and inconstancy, if we were not restrained and if God did not so work in us that we might, by his Holy Spirit, overcome all the assaults of the devil and the world. Thus Godís Spirit does a two-fold work in us with respect to faith. For he enlightens us to make us understand things which otherwise would be hidden from us, and to receive Godís promises with all obedience. That is the first part of his work. The second is that the same Spirit is pleased to abide in us and to give us perseverance, that we do not draw back in the midst of our way. That, then, is what St. Paul is handling now.

It is as if he should say, My friends, you have known Godís grace and you have had experience of it, and he has drawn you to obey his gospel. For you would never have come to it, if he had not shown himself merciful to you. But be sure of this also, that he increases his grace in that he gives you power to persevere in it. For had you continued only three days, or three years, or even more, God must needs have helped you in that, or else you would always have been tossed about like poor wretches at your witsí end, without any certainty at all, unless God had promised to take care of you and to guide you continually till you have come to the end of your way and have finished your course. That, therefore, is the reason why he says here that they were sealed by the Holy Spirit. Now we should carefully note the figure of speech St. Paul uses. For we know that deeds are endorsed by seals, and that has applied at all times. It is true that men did not write things down in the same way as they do nowadays. Nevertheless, instead of signing them with their own hands, they delivered their seal or ring. And that was the way they published wills, and other documents, and all covenants.

In this respect St. Paul says that we must be sealed in our hearts. It is true that, to speak properly, he should have said that the gospel was sealed. However, to make us understand that the fault comes and springs from ourselves and that the gospel is a doctrine of sufficient authority in itself, he meant to show us that Godís sealing of his truth is because of our hard-heartedness and inconstancy, since we are shaken with every wind like wavering reeds until such time as he has strengthened us. But, be that as it may, let us observe that the Holy Spirit is, as it were, the seal with which he ratifies his truth to us.

Now I have told you already how greatly we stand in need of this. For, although we grant that Godís Word deserves to be accepted without contradiction or reply, yet we do not cease to doubt it. And we discover that well enough by conviction. For whenever any trouble or annoyance comes, we are as people distracted, whereas, if we were thoroughly persuaded of Godís goodness in such ways as he assures us of it, it is certain that we should not be in any such fear. All the trials, then, which shake us show clearly enough that we do not profit as we ought to do by the gospel. And, therefore, God on his part is pleased to empower it by his Holy Spirit, and to print it so certainly in our hearts that we may be steadfast and that the same steadfastness may not be beaten down by all that the devil can ever do or devise to overthrow our faith.

But we shall understand this thing even better by making such a continual examination of our own weakness as I have spoken of before. For we can take up all the reasons of this world and yet we shall never be assured as fully and perfectly as we ought to be that God will be merciful to us and defend us in the midst of all the dangers of this world. For we are here, as it were, in a sea. The winds and storms assail us every minute, and we are always in danger of being swallowed up. How then may we defy Satan, being like poor sheep not furnished with either armour or weapon or any other means of help? How can we rejoice both in life and death, knowing that Satan might do anything against us, if we are not well sealed in an authentic manner? So then, besides being warned, in this text, to rid ourselves of all presumption and pride, so that God alone may be praised and magnified, we may also gather from St. Paulís words that we have weapons with which to meet the foe and strive well, and that although our enemy is mighty and sturdy, yet he will never overcome us, so long as we take advantage of what is said here, namely, that Godís Spirit seals the truth and the certainty of the promises of the gospel in us.

Now St. Paul adds yet one figure of speech more, saying that Godís Spirit is like a deposit. And let us not think it strange that St. Paul has so confirmed this doctrine, since the devil has never ceased from the beginning of the world to keep men puffed up with some foolish opinion of their own wisdom and strength. The reason for Adamís fall was that he wanted to rise higher than was lawful for him, and be wiser than God, which God gave him no permission to do. The case stands the same with us, and the devil still pursues his attack. See how he overthrew mankind with guile, and his whole endeavour even yet is to make us believe that we are able to do this and that. St. Paul, therefore, had to rid men of that false and cursed opinion of their own free-will and self-righteousness, and to show them that they are indebted to the Holy Spirit for all things. So much for that.

Secondly, we are so stupid and earthly that the doctrine had to be made easy [m‚cher (Fr.) (To chew, to masticate)] to us, and we cannot conceive more of Godís gracious gifts, which are invisible, than we see with our eyes and touch with our hands. It was therefore necessary for St. Paul to show by figures of speech that it is Godís Holy Spirit who puts us in possession of the gospel and of all the benefits it contains, and who supports us in them to the end.

Now we know that contracts are confirmed by giving a deposit, which men commonly call the earnest-money. [Denier Š Dieu (Fr.) (The mite for God)] Since, then, in buying lands, houses, inheritances or goods, although a man bare word ought to be sufficient, men are so wicked that if they perceive any hurt to themselves in a matter, they will not be ashamed to go back on their word. Therefore this ceremony of making a deposit was added, and it is just as though the payment were fully discharged, so that the contract cannot be rendered void. St. Paul, then, means here that Godís Spirit serves fully to guarantee our salvation. And for what purpose ĎFor your inheritance, he says, Ďto the day of your redemptioní. It is true that we are already Godís heirs, being his children. But we must note how it is said in the eighth chapter to the Romans [v. 24] that our salvation is shut up in hope. So then, we cannot see it or enjoy it now, according to the third chapter of Colossians [v. 3], where it is said that we are like dead men departed from this world, and that our life is hidden with God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, although we are Godís children, yet we do not have the full enjoyment of it at present.

All this agrees well with what St. John says in his Epistle. ĎWe knowí, he says. By this he shows that our faith is not in doubt, yet he adds that it is not yet seen, but we must wait for the day when we shall be like God, and then we shall have light to see in full perfection that which now we only believe. [1 Jn. 3:2] Again, we have seen how St. Paul said in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, that as long as we are in this earthly pilgrimage, we are, so to speak, absent from God. [2 Cor. 5:6] And why? We walk (he says) in hope, and we do not see the thing as if it were present, but we see it by faith. In short, although we are passed from death to life (as is said in the fifth chapter of John [v. 24]), yet we fight against an infinite number of deaths, because we are besieged by them.

And St. Paul links both together well in this passage. For, on the one hand, he says we are not yet come to our redemption and heritage, and yet, at the same time, he shows that we are sure of it for all that, and that nothing but our own ingratitude prevents us from glorying to the full in God and from saying with all our hearts that we do not doubt we shall reach the heavenly life, since we have a pledge of it by the Holy Spirit and are so united to our Lord Jesus Christ that all his possessions belong to us, for they appertain to us and are communicated to us by faith.

Therefore, let us carefully observe what is contained in these words of St. Paul. He says that the Holy Spirit is our pledge. Seeing this is so we must needs be sure of our redemption, of which we shall have full possession at the last day. And this the facts of the matter themselves show well enough. For we are but poor worms of the earth, surrounded by rottenness and corruption. We are beset with as many miseries as it is pitiful to see. The world curses us, and mocks us and our simplicity. We have to endure hunger and thirst. It often seems that God has forsaken us and, as it were, cut us off, and that he does not even deign to pity us. We appear to be the most contemptible creatures in the world. That is how we stand to all outward appearance. And therefore it is imperative for us to have a remedy with which to assure ourselves in the midst of so many perplexities and heartaches. That is the reason why St. Paul purposely says that the Holy Spirit is our pledge. Although, then, the world gives itself liberty to trample us under foot, as they say; although our Lord keeps us tried with many temptations; although he humbles us in such a way that it may seem we are as sheep appointed to the slaughter, so that we are continually at deathís door, [nous avons toujours Ia mon entre les dents (Fr.) (death between the teeth)] yet we are not destitute of a good remedy. And why Seeing that the Holy Spirit reigns in our hearts, we have something for which to give praise even in the midst of all our temptations, in accordance with what is said in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans [v. 15], that being once assured that God takes us for his children, we may not only call upon him, but also, though we are afflicted and tormented, yet we do not cease to be always and infallibly persuaded that he is our Father to lead us to the glory of heaven; for even that also is a way by which our hope is tried.

Furthermore, we are also warned to walk in patience, and, seeing God has given us his Holy Spirit as a pledge, we must not be so hasty and impatient as we have been accustomed to be. For if God handles us roughly, immediately we begin to complain, and we are very loath to suffer anything, for we see how tender and sensitive we are by nature. But we must endure patiently, because God will not have us come to his kingdom with, so to speak, one leap, but will have us negotiate this world through thorns and briars, so that we shall have much trouble in getting through and we shall be in great distress. Seeing that he will have us led by such a way, and yet nevertheless gives us so good a remedy as ought to be sufficient for usówhich is that he strengthens us with invincible constancy by his Holy Spiritólet us stand ready to fight till the time of victory is fully come.

It is true that our faith gets the upper hand even now, but we do not yet receive the full fruit of it, nor do we fully enjoy it. Therefore we must determine with ourselves to fight and groan continually and yet, at the same time, to rejoice also. And why? To rejoice in our hearts and yet to cry with St. Paul, ĎAlas, wretched creature that I am, who shall deliver me from this prison of my body?,í are not incompatible things. Therefore let each one of us mourn and even be grieved at heart, because we are still so much given to our wicked lusts and the numerous vices that are in us. Nevertheless let us not cease also to say that we thank God, and to be contented with his giving of such provision to us as ought well to suffice us, and to wait until he accomplishes and perfects what he has begun, seeing we have his Holy Spirit thus dwelling in us with a promise that we shall never be destitute of him right up to the end. Thus you see how we are here encouraged to take the bit between our teeth and to walk with such steadfastness that all the miseries of the world may not stop us pursuing our course till we come to our goal.

And that is the reason why St. Paul speaks purposely of redemption. It is true that we are redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ, and he is given to us for our redemption, as is said in other passages, [I Cor. 1:30; I Tim. 2:6] but we do not have the effect and full fruition of it as yet. There is, then, a double redemptionó one which was accomplished in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and another which we wait for and which shall be shown to us at his coming again. Accordingly, St. Paul says in the eighth chapter to the Romans [v. 23] that, although we groan and are held down in anguish, yet we must not be dismayed by it, nor think it strange, because all creatures (he says) keep us company, and are even as a woman that travails with child. For we see that all the world is subject to corruption through the sin of Adam. Seeing then it is so, let us not falter in our groanings, but let us moderate our affections so that we are content that our redemption has been purchased for us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and let us trust in him that he will accomplish the same thing in us and our persons that he has accomplished for us in his own. That which St. Paul meant, then, is that Godís Spirit is our pledge during the time that we wait to be taken out of this transitory life and to be set free from all miseries, especially from the bondage of sin, which is the heaviest burden of all. Until such time, then, as we are delivered from all those things, we must rest on this, that Godís Spirit dwells in us.

And with regard to the Ďredemption of purchaseí, it may well be taken for purchased redemption, since it is a very common way of speaking; just as by the expression Ďthe Spirit of promiseí is meant the Spirit who satisfies all the promises; or Ďthe Spirit of the fear of God,í because it is he that makes us obedient to his righteousness. In the same way, when he speaks of the redemption of purchase, it may well be said that it is the redemption which was purchased for us, to show that if we feel the effect of it in ourselves, so that we are not in any doubt about the things Jesus Christ has done for us, we must not fear that he has suffered in vain. For surely his suffering would be to no purpose at all towards us, if it did not reach us so that it might result in our profit, and that we might enjoy it. That, therefore, is what is purchased in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet, meanwhile, as far as we are concerned, we should keep ourselves in check in order that we should not through our own ingratitude refuse the benefit that God offers us, that is to say, our rejoicing in afflictionsófor we know that our salvation is sureóor complain against God and blaspheme him, but walk on quietly until we are delivered from our present bondage, and until we are fully set free by being gathered together in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let us cast ourselves down before the majesty of our good God with acknowledgement of our faults, praying him to make us feel them more and more, even so far as to bring us to utter revulsion from the rottenness that is in us, so that we, finding that there is nothing in us but a bottomless pit of all kinds of iniquity, may learn to resort to his righteousness, and to seek it at the source, and to acknowledge that he has shown himself a merciful Father towards us, not doubting that thereby he meant also to assure us that he had adopted us before the beginning of the world, in order that we should continue to call upon him with true steadfastness and never cease so to do.

And so let us all say, Almighty God, heavenly Father.


Calvin's Ephesian Sermons, preached on Sundays at Geneva in 1558-59, when he was 49 years of age, were first printed in French in 1562, then in English in 1577. They have long been one of the rarest of all the Reformer's works and merited the comment of C. H. Spurgeon, a century ago, "Not the same as the exposition. The sermons are priceless."



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