Institutes of the Christian Religion (1845)/Introductory Notice

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1845)
by John Calvin, translated by Henry Beveridge
Introductory Notice
950355Institutes of the Christian Religion (1845) — Introductory NoticeHenry Beveridge (1799-1863)John Calvin


The earliest of Calvin's writings—a Commentary on Seneca's Two Books, De Clementia—was published at Paris in 1532, before he had completed his twenty-third year. In this Commentary there is nothing to indicate that its author had begun, or was ever destined, to be a distinguished Reformer. It is dedicated to the Abbot of St Eloy of Noyon, who is addressed as a "most wise and holy Prelate," and complimented not for the faithful discharge of his sacred functions, but for learning and taste; the highest motive for publishing the work is plainly avowed to be the acquisition of literary fame: and throughout, though there are passages in Seneca's text which might have furnished ground for serious reflection, the subject of religion is scarcely once alluded to—certainly not alluded to in such a way as could lead any one to infer that the author had made his final choice, and was resolutely prepared to make every sacrifice for the furtherance of the Gospel.

The probability is, that at the period when Calvin wrote this Commentary, he had not embraced the Reformed Faith. Whatever his misgivings may have been, it would seem he had not altogether renounced the hope of being able to obtain, in connection with the Romish Church, that respectable status and literary ease which, in his Letter to Cardinal Sadolet, he acknowledges to have been, at one time, the highest object of his ambition.

Supposing these to have been Calvin's feelings in 1532, it is certain that they soon underwent a decided change. In a letter written in 1533 to Francis Daniel, an advocate of Orleans, we find him speaking the language of a zealous Reformer; Stigmatising the conduct of the Romish bigots, graphically describing and exulting in a defeat which they had recently sustained, and characterising "their so-called zeal as stolid fury—a zeal with which Elijah never burned, zealous though he was for the Lord of Hosts."

Apparently, as a counterpart to this false zeal, Calvin shortly after adopted the bold resolution of meeting bigotry on its own chosen field. Nicholas Cop being required, as rector of the University of Paris, to deliver a customary address on All Saints Day, applied to Calvin, who, availing himself of the opportunity, furnished him with one in which religion was presented in its renovated form. The offence was one of the last which bigotry would be disposed to forgive. To avoid the combined wrath of the Sorbonne and the Parliament, Cop was obliged to save himself by flight to Basle; and Calvin, though protected for a time by the interposition of the Queen of Navarre, was ultimately unable to continue his residence at Paris, and retired into Saintonge. During his residence here he appears to have composed his second published work, entitled Psychopannychia, in which he refuted the erroneous idea—broached at an early period, and then revived by the Anabaptists—that in the interval between death and the final judgment, the soul exists in a state of sleep. This, however, was not his only labour. At the request of a friend, (apparently Louis du Tillet, canon of Angoulême,) he wrote what Beza calls "Breves Admonitiones Christianas,"Brief Christian Admonitions, to be read in the neighbouring congregations, with the view of gradually alluring them to the knowledge of the truth. None of these Christian Admonitions are now extant, but they are deserving of particular notice here, as having, not improbably, suggested the idea, perhaps formed the ground-work, of The Christian Institutes.

In the celebrated Preface to this Work, Calvin declares, that when he engaged in it, nothing was farther from his thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to the King; and, in confirmation of the statement that his only object was to provide a humble elementary treatise for the use of his countrymen, he appeals to the form and nature of the work itself. Looking at the work as it now exists, few would be disposed, on taking up Calvin s appeal, to give judgment in his favour: for certainly nothing can less resemble a simple elementary treatise than the Institutes as left by him at his final revisal. On the other hand, on looking at the work in its original form, and perusing the simple exposition which it gives of the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Creed, the separate articles of which are often disposed of in a few sentences, one is forcibly struck with the idea, that as these might have admirably served the purpose, so they may, in fact, be identical with some of the Brief Christian Admonitions. Be this as it may, there can be little doubt, that when Calvin quitted Saintonge in 1534, he had conceived the idea, and was bent on the execution of his immortal Work.

The good offices of the Queen of Navarre in favour of the Reformers had so far succeeded, that her brother Francis I. seemed to have become favourably disposed towards them, and hopes began to be entertained that the cruel persecutions to which they had been subjected would be finally suppressed. In these circumstances, Calvin ventured to quit his retirement; but the hopes which had been entertained were soon miserably disappointed. Bigotry and persecution regained their ascendancy; and Calvin, finding it impossible to exert himself to any useful purpose, left the country in the beginning of 1535, and took up his residence at Basle. Having remained here for some time, a retired and laborious student, he at length published The Christian Institutes. The publication forms a kind of era in the history of the Theological Literature of the Reformation; and as several questions of interest have been raised with regard to it, the present seems the appropriate place for entering into the consideration of them.

One question relates to the date of the First Edition of the Institutes.

It is admitted on all hands, that the earliest edition extant is that which was printed at Basle in 1536; but it is argued that there must have been an edition of a date not later than 1535. The chief ground of this opinion is the following passage from Calvin's Preface to the Commentary on the Psalms:

"Ecce autem quum incognitus Basileæae laterem, quia multis piis hominibus in Gallia exustis, grave passim apud Germanos odium ignes illi excitaverant, sparsi sunt, ejus restinguendi causa, improbi ac mendaces libelli, non alios tarn crudeliter tractari quam Anabaptistas ac turbulentos homines, qui perversis deliriis non Eeligionem modo sed totum ordinem Politicum convellerent. Ego hoc ab aulicis artificibus agi videns, non modo, ut indigna sanguinis innoxii effusio falsa sanctorum Martyrum infamia sepeliretur, sed ut posthac per caedes quaslibet absque ullius misericordia grassari liceret, silentium meum non posse a perfidia excusari censui, nisi me pro virili opponerem. Hæc mini edendae Institutions causa fuit: primum ut ab injusta contumelia vindicarem fratres meos, quorum mors pretiosa erat in conspectu Domini; deinde, quum multis miseris eadem instarent supplicia, pro illis dolor saltern aliquis et sollicitudo exteras gentes tangeret. Neque enim densum hoc et laboriosum opus, quale nunc extat, sed breve duntaxat Enchiridion tune in lucem prodiit: neque in alium finem, nisi ut testata esset eorum fides, quos videbam ab impius et perfidis adulatoribus scelerate proscindi. Porro, an propositum esset mihi famam aucupari, patuit ex brevi discessu, præsertim quum nemo illic sciverit me authorem esse. Quod etiam alibi semper dissimulavi, et in animo erat idem institutum prosequi, donec Genevæ," &c.:—

"While I was living at Basle, retired and unknown, the indignation of the Germans having been deeply roused by those fires in which a great number of godly men had been burnt alive in France, it was circulated, in wicked and lying pamphlets, with the view of suppressing that indignation, that the only persons who had been thus cruelly treated were Anabaptists and turbulent men, who, by their perverse ravings, were subverting not religion only, but all civil order. Seeing this done by crafty courtiers, whose aim was not only to hide the guilty shedding of innocent blood, under a calumnious charge falsely brought against holy martyrs, but also to have liberty afterwards to proceed unrestrained in their murderous career, without exciting in others any feeling of compassion, I thought that if I did not oppose them to the utmost of my ability, my silence might justly be condemned as perfidy. The occasion of my publishing the Institutes was this: first, That I might wipe off a foul affront from my brethren, whose death was precious in the sight of the Lord; and, secondly, That as the same sufferings were impending over many others, at least some interest and sympathy for them might be excited in foreign nations. The work then published was not the dense and laboured volume which now exists, but only a short Manual: my sole object being to bear testimony to the faith of those whom I saw iniquitously assailed by wicked and perfidious flatterers. Moreover, whether in publishing it I hunted after fame was manifest from my early departure, especially as no person there knew me to be the author. The fact I always conceal ed in other places, and I was still in the same intention, till arriving at Geneva," &c.

The whole of the above interesting narrative well deserved to be quoted; but the argument drawn from it to prove that the edition of 1536 is not the first, is founded on the two last sentences. If no person at Basle knew that Calvin was the author; if the fact was latent even after the publication, so that Calvin was still able to conceal it in other places, and continue in the intention of doing so, the edition to which he refers could not have had his name on the title-page. There must either have been no name there at all, or a fictitious name.

Were this argument sound, it would certainly prove that the edition of 1536 is not the first, since the title-page (see fac-simile, No. I. Appendix) expressly bears, "Joanne Calvino, Noviodunensi autore." At the same time, some very extraordinary results would follow. To some of these it will here be necessary to attend.

The exact time when Calvin reached Basle is not known, but it can be proved to demonstration, that it must have been subsequent to January 1535. That year was ushered in at Paris with a monstrous procession, in which the principal part was performed by Francis I., who, more in the character of a blinded heathen despot than of a Christian monarch, walked bareheaded, with a blazing taper in his hand, through the streets of the city, for the purpose of purging it from what he called execrable heresies, and to make the purgation more complete, caused his arrival at the principal places to be celebrated by throwing a number of martyrs into the flames. Beza states expressly, that these savage martyrdoms were the occasion of Calvin's leaving France. Having first visited Strasburg, and spent some time with Wolfgang Capito, he thereafter proceeded to Basle, where, as appears from the above extract, he had continued for some time before he even thought of preparing his Address to the French King, and prefixing it to the First Edition of the Institutes. He did not on his arrival at Basle forthwith proceed to publish. On the contrary, it is more than doubtful if at that time the text of the Institutes was completed, and even if it was, it is certain that the publication did not take place until the rumour of the martyrdoms of January, spreading into foreign countries, had produced a feeling of deep indignation, and compelled Francis to have recourse to his "improbi ac mendaces libelli," for the purpose of counteracting its interference with his ambitious schemes. Some months must have elapsed before all these things could have happened. How then could time be found for the publication of this fancied First Edition antecedent to that of 1536?

From the last leaf of the edition of 1536, it appears that the printing of it was finished in March of that year,—Mense Martio, Anno 1536. The last page of the Preface, or, as it is called, Epistola Nuncupatoria, bears date "X. Calendas Septembres," without mentioning the year. It is perfectly clear, however, that it must have been 1535. It could not have been 1534. Some have suggested that year for the first edition, but very absurdly, as Calvin had not then left France, and we have his own explicit statement, that the Institutes were publish ed for the first time when he was residing at Basle. But granting that the missing year could not have been 1534, may it not have been 1536? The introductory part of a work is not unfrequently the last that is printed; and, there fore, there is nothing incredible in the supposition that though the last part was printed in March, the preface was not printed for some time after. The supposition in the general case is not incredible; and there are circumstances in which it might be difficult, if not impossible, to disprove it. In this particular case, however, it is both incredible and impossible. Had the pagination of the preface and the text been different, or even had the pagination been continuous, and the prefatory matter so short as to enable the printer to calculate within a page how much space it would occupy, though, in the latter case, the continuity of the pagination would have been a very extraordinary operation, there might have been ground to maintain it as a thing possible, that some of the matter first in order was not first in execution, and, therefore, might have borne a posterior date. But to prove that such observations have no applicability here, it is sufficient to mention, that the preface occupies forty-one pages, concluding, of course, on the ninth page of the third sheet, and that the text begins on the forty-second page, forming the reverse of the leaf on which the preface terminates.

Holding it then as certain, that the date in the preface, or Epistola Nuncupatoria of the edition 1536, ought to be filled up X. Calendas Septembres (23d August) 1535, (a date, by the way, strikingly confirmed by its identity with that of an early French translation, which is, "De Basle, le vingt troisieme d'Aoust, mil cinq cens trente cinq,") the only possible time in which the supposed first edition could have been prepared for the press, printed off, and published, is the three or four months which may have elapsed between Calvin's arrival at Basle, and the 23d August thereafter The thing is so utterly improbable, that it may be confidently affirmed, no man could be justified in believing it without an ocular inspection of this earlier first edition—an edition, however, which as yet is only a phantom of the brain, no trace of its actual existence having ever been discovered.

Besides, it is of importance to observe, that in the above passage quoted from the preface to the Psalms, Calvin, to prove that personal fame could not have been his object in publishing the Institutes at Basle, appeals to his early depart ure, after the publication, "patuit ex brevi discessu" Assuming, then, that there was an edition published previous to August 1535, what becomes of the "early departure?" If the fancied edition was published in June or July, the departure could not, in any proper sense of the term, be early, if it did not take place in the course of the same year. And yet, what is the fact? We find Calvin dating a preface to the Psychopannychia as still resident at Basle in 1536.

We are thus driven to the conclusion, that the edition of Basle, in 1536, is the first, and that there must therefore be either some inaccuracy in Calvin's statement, or some flaw in the argument which employs that statement to prove that the first edition did not contain the author's name on the title-page.

Even were the former alternative adopted, there would be nothing in it in the least degree derogatory to Calvin. The statement in the preface to the Psalms was made in 1557, twenty-one years after the publication of the Institutes. Would it be at all surprising, that after such a lapse of time, one whose whole life had been occupied with great thoughts and great transactions, should, through forgetfulness, have spoken inaccurately of what, after all, is merely a question of bibliography;—a question which, owing to his celebrity, has now a deep interest, but which, to him must have appeared a very trivial matter indeed? He was perfectly conscious that, in publishing the Institutes, he was actuated by a higher motive than the desire of personal fame. This was the important point; and having stated it, minute accuracy in any collateral explanatory fact, though given strictly according to his impression at the time, was of little consequence.

The difficulty, however, is more apparent than real, and can easily be got quit of without the necessity of imputing even a trivial inaccuracy to Calvin. The inaccuracy is not in him, but in those who would wrest his words to a meaning which he never intended them to convey. It is necessary to attend to the circumstances.

While Calvin is living at Basle, a perfect stranger, a work is published bearing his name on the title-page. Every one is in raptures with it; all are loud in Calvin's praise. Calvin maintains his incognito. He sees the popularity of his work, and doubtless rejoices in it, but he never opens his mouth to say to any one, "I am Calvin." Assuming these to be the facts, was it any thing more than a simple unvarnished statement of the truth when Calvin said, "Personal fame could not be my object in the publication. I was a perfect stranger. Nobody in the place knew who I was, and I left the place shortly after without having told it. They all knew from the title-page that John Calvin was the author, but none of them knew that I was that John Calvin;" or, in the very words which he has himself employed, "nemo illic sciverit me authorem esse"—"nobody there knew that I was the author." Gerdesius and others, who infer from these words that the edition to which they apply must have had no name on the title-page, or a fictitious one, owe all the bility of their argument to an unauthorised substitution. For the me, in the above sentence they substitute "Joannem Calvinum," and then interpret as if they stood, "nobody there knew that John Calvin was the author." As already ex plained, the two sentences have very different meanings; and it is only by means of the latter, which is altogether unau thorised, that the argument in favour of an earlier first edition is made to assume any semblance of plausibility.

But grant that the word "me" and "Joannem Calvinum," are in the sense here intended, convertible terms, and that Calvin really meant to state that there was nothing on the title-page of the First Edition which disclosed the fact that he was the author, to what does it amount? Certainly not to a proof of what has already been shown to be scarcely within the limits of possibility—the existence of an edition of the Institutes antecedent to that of 1536. Almost any supposition is more plausible than this; and, therefore, before adopting it, it would even require to be considered whether there may not be some ground for the idea suggested by Clement, that there were two sets of title-pages to the First Edition—the one exhibiting the true name of the author, and the other anonymous, or with a fictitious name, that Calvin's own copy was of the latter description, and that he naturally supposed it to be the same with all the rest. This supposition becomes less extravagant than at first sight it may appear to be, when it is considered that the double titles conjectured for the First actually exist in the case of the Second Edition, in 1539.

Holding it incontrovertibly established that the Edition printed at Basle in 1536 is truly the first, it will now be proper to furnish such information, with regard to it, as may serve to give a tolerable idea of the original form of this celebrated work, and of the various changes which it experienced under the hand of its distinguished author during a series of revisals, extending over the long period of twenty-three years.

It is well known that the First Edition is extremely rare. Even the Library of Geneva possesses only a mutilated copy, and not one has been discovered in any public library in England. The whole number of copies known to exist probably does not exceed half a dozen. Fortunately, one of these copies belongs to Mr David Laing, of Edinburgh, who, with his characteristic kindness and liberality, put it at once into the hands of the Translator, with full power to avail himself of it for the benefit of the Calvin Translation Society. It is hoped that the privilege thus bestowed, while it furnishes the means of gratifying a natural and most rational curiosity, may also be made subservient to a higher end.

The First Edition forms a volume in small octavo, of 514 pages, exclusive of the Index, which is placed at the end, and occupies five pages more. For the title-page and its reverse, reference is made to fac-simile No. I. Appendix. The whole work, which is described as one book, is divided into six chapters. These, however, are preceded by the Preface, or, as it is called, Epistola Nuncupatoria, which is printed in Roman character, and terminates on the 41st page, the place and date being, as already observed, "Basilese, X. Calendas Septembres," without any year. The Preface has undergone revisal like the other parts of the work; but as the variations are pointed out in foot notes in the Translation, it seems unnecessary to advert to them here, farther than to observe, that while almost every sentence contained in the First Edition is still retained, additional sentences have been occasionally introduced, chiefly for the purpose of amplifying the quotations from the Fathers.

The text is printed in Italic character, and commences on the 42d page, forming the reverse of the 41st.

The first chapter, entitled "De Lege, quod Decalogi Explicationem continet," commences as follows:"—

"Summa fere sacræ doctrinse duabus his partibus constat, cognitione Dei ac nostri. Hasc vero de Deo nobis in praasentia discenda sunt. Primum, ut certa fide constitutum habeamus, ipsum infinitam esse sapientiam, justitiam, bonitatem, misericordiam, veritatem, virtutem, ac vitam: ut nulla sit prorsus alia sapientia, justitia, bonitas, veritas, virtus, et vita."

After a brief description of The Knowledge of God, under three additional heads, the effect of Original Sin is shortly explained. Of Adam's first condition it is said, " Parentem omnium nostrum Adam esse creatum ad imaginem et similitudinem Dei, hoc est, sapientia, justitia, sanctitate præditum; atque his gratia? donis Deo ita hasrentem ut perpetuo in eo victurus fuerit, si in hac integritate naturæ, quam a Deo acceperat, stetisset."—(P. 43.) The Fall, and its effects on Adam himself, being then shortly described, it is added, " Quæ calamitas non in ipsum tantum cecidit, sed in nos quoque defluxit, qui semen ejus sumus ac posteritas. Ergo quicunque in Adam nascimur, omnes Dei ignorantes sumus et expertes, perversi, corrupti, omnisque boni inopes."—(P. 44.)

Notwithstanding of this depravity, our obligation to serve God remains entire, and failure in it is without excuse:

"Quanquam enim sic nati sumus, ut non sit in nobis situm quicquam agere, quod Deo acceptum esse possit; nee sit in nostra virtute positum illi gratificari; non tamen desinimus idipsum debere, quod præstare non possumus: quando enim Dei creaturæ sumus, ejus honori et glorias servire debebamus, ac ejus mandatis morem gerere. Nec prætendere excusationem, licet, quod facultas desit, et velut exhausti debitores solvendo non simus. Culpa enim nostra est et peccati nostri, quod nos vinctos tenet, ne quod bene aut veliinus agere aut possimus."—(P. 45.)

The second last sentence of this quotation is still to be found verbatim in the last edition; and as the idea conveyed by it is of frequent recurrence in the Institutes, and forms a fundamental principle in the Calvinistic system, it may be proper, for the purpose of comparison, to give the passage as Calvin finally left it:—

"Nee prætendere excusationem licet, quod facultas desit, et velut exhausti debitores, solvendo non simus. Non enim convenit, ut Dei gloriam metiamur ex nostra facultate: qualescunque enim simus, rnanet illi sui similis semper, amicus justitias, iniquitati infensus. Quicquid a nobis exigat, (quia non potest nisi rectum exigere,) ex naturæ obligatione obsequendi necessitas nos manet; quod autem non possumus, id vitii nostri est. A propria enim cupiditate, in qua peccatum regnat, si vincti tenemur, ne soluti simus in nostri Patris obsequium, non est cur necessitatem pro defensione causemur, cujus malum et intra nos est et nobis imputandura."—(Inst. Lib. II. c. viii. sec. 2.)

The consideration of The Fall and its consequences natur ally leads to that of The Remedy provided by Christ. On this subject the following passage may be quoted:—

"Hæc omnia nobis a Deo offeruntur ac dantur in Christo Domino nostro; nempe remissio peccatorum gratuita, pax et reconciliatio cum Deo, dona et gratise spiritus sancti; si certa fide ea amplectimur et accipimus, magna fiducia divinæ bonitate innixi, et velut incumbentes; nihilque hæsitantes, quin verbum Dei virtus sit et veritas, quod nobis ea omnia pollicetur: denique, si Christo communicamus, in ipso possidemus coelestes omnes thesauros, ac spiritus sancti dona, quæ nos in vitam ac salutem deducant. Quod nunquam nisi vera vivaque fide assequimur, dum omne nostrum bonum in ipso esse agnoseimus; nos vero nisi in ipso, nihil esse; ac pro certo nobiscum statuimus, in ipso nos filios Dei fieri, regnique coelestis hæredes."—(Pp. 49, 50.)

Another passage, bearing strongly on the same subject, though contained in a different part of the work, may be here introduced:—

"Paulus ait, (1 Cor. iii.,) in architectura Christiana doctrinæ retinendum fundamentum quod posuit, et praster quod nullum aliud poni potest; quod est Jesus Christus. Quale autem istud est fundamentum? An quod Jesus Christus initium fuit nostra salutis? et quod viam nobis aperuit, cum nobis meruit occasionem merendi? Minime: sed quod in eo electi ab æterno sumus ante mundi constitutionem, nullo nostro merito, sed secundum propositum beneplaciti Dei: quod ejus morte, ipsi a mortis damnatione redempti, ac liberati a perditione sumus: quod in ipso adoptati a patre sumus, in filios et heredes: quod per ipsius sanguinem patri reconciliati: quod illi a patre in custodiam dati sumus, ne unquam pereamus aut excidamus: quod, ita illi inserti, jam vita? geterna? quodammodo sumus participes, in regnum Dei per spem ingressi: hoc parum est; quod talem ejus participationem adepti, ut simus adhuc in nobis stulti, ipsi nobis coram Deo sapientia est: ut peccatores simus, ipse est nobis justitia: ut immundi simus, ipse est nobis sanctificatio: ut infirmi simus, ut inermes et sathana) expositi, ipsi tamen data est potestas in ccelo et in terra, ut pro nobis sathanam conterat, et inferorum portas confringat: ut corpus mortis adhuc nobiscum circunferamus, ipse tamen nobis vita est. Breviter, quod omnia illius nostra sunt et nos in eo omnia, in nobis nihil."—(Pp. 91, 92.)

On the margin of the above passage, reference is made to Ephes. i.; Rom. ix.; 2 Tim. i.; Joan. i.; Ephes. i., iii.; Rom. v., viii.; 2 Cor. v.; Joan, x., xvii.; 1 Cor. i.; Matth. ult.; Coloss. i., iii.; Rom. viii.; Eph. ii., iv.

With the exception of the last passage, which, as observed, is from a different chapter of the work, all those which have been quoted are contained within the first ten pages of the text, where the subjects of which they treat are disposed of summarily in brief, weighty sentences. It is here that the greatest difference is observable between the first and the last editions of the Institutes. In both the doctrines are the same, but the sentences of the first, though for the most part incorporated verbatim, become in the last a kind of general heads, some of which expand into sections, and even occasionally into whole chapters. Indeed, The Knowledge of God, which here occupies little more than a single page, ultimately becomes the subject of a whole book.

The next part of the first chapter is devoted to an exposition of The Decalogue, the Ten Commandments being taken up in order, and the substance of them explained. The whole of the exposition extends only to twenty pages, and hence several commandments, as the first, fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth, are each disposed of in two or three sentences. The largest space is devoted to the second and the fourth. In the exposition of the second, the subject chiefly dwelt upon is The Worship of Images. In the later editions, this subject, though adverted to under the Second Commandment, was deemed of sufficient importance to have a separate chapter devoted to it, and it is somewhat curious to see how Calvin, in preparing this chapter, instead of writing it anew, goes back to the original exposition of the first edition, and to a great extent incorporates it verbatim. The mode in which this is done will be understood from the following specimen, in which the first and last editions are given in separate columns, and the differences between them printed in italics.

First Edition.

"Huc advertant, qui execrabilem idololatriam, qua multis ante hac seculis vera religio submersa subversaque fuit, misero prcetextu defendere conantur. Imagines, inquiunt, pro diis non reputantur. Nee tarn prorsus incogitantes erant Judsei, ut non meminissent Deum fuisse, cujus manu eductiessent ex Ægypto, antequarn fabricarent vitulum.

Last Edition.

Huc animum advertant, qui ad defensionem execrabilis idololatriœ quamultis antehac seculis vera religio sub mersa subversaque fuit, miseros prœtextus aucupantur. Non reputantur, inquiunt, pro diis imagines. Nec tam prorsus incogitantes erant Judæi, ut non meminissent Deum fuisse, cujus manu educti essent ex Ægypto antequam fabricarent vitulum.

Quin Aaroni dicenti, ittos esse Deos a quibus liberati essent terra Ægypti, intrepide annuebant, non dubia significatione, velle se retinere ilium Deum liberatorem, modo prceeuntem in vitulo conspicerent.

Nec ita stupidi fuisse ethnici credendi sunt, ut non intelligerent Deum aliud esse quam ligna, aut lapides. Mutabant enim pro arbitrio simulacra: eosdem semper Deos animo retinebant: et multa uni Deo dicata erant simulacra; nec tamen tot sibi Deos fingebant, quot simulacra essent. Præterea nova quotidie consecrabant: nec putabant tamen se novos facere Deos.

Nec ita stupidi fuisse ethnici credendi sunt, ut non intelligerent Deum alium esse, quam ligna et lapides. Mutabant enim pro arbitrio simulacra; Deos semper eosdem animo retinebant; et multa erant uni Deo simulachra, nec pro multitudine complures tamen Deos sibi fingebant; præterea nova quotidie consecrabant, nec putabant tamen se novos facere Deos.

Legantur excusationes, quas ab idololatris sui seculi prœtextas refert Augustinus; nempe quum arguerentur, respondebant vulgares, se non visibile illud colere, sed numen quod illic invisibiter habitabat. Qui vero purgatoris, ut ipse loquitur religionis erant, nec simulachrum, nec dæmonium se colere aiebant: sed per effigiem corpoream intueri ejus rei signum, quam colere deberent.

Quid ergo? Omnes idololatræ, sive

Quid ergo? Omnes idololatroe, sive

ex Judæis, sive ex gentibus Deum talem esse persuasum habuerunt, qualem mentis suœ vanitas concepisset. Ad hanc vanitatem addita est improbitas: qualem intus finxerant, ex presserunt. Mens igitur idolum genuit, manus peperit,

ex Judæis, sive ex gentibus non aliter quam dictum est, fuerunt animati. Spirituali intelligentia non contenti, certiorem ac propiorem ex simulachris expressum iri sibi putabant. Postquam semel placuit prœpostera ista Dei assimilatio, nullus finis factus, donec novis subinde prœstigiis delusi, in imaginibus Deum vim suam exerere opinarentur.

Nihilominus et Deum æternum Judæi, unum verumque cœli ac terras Dominum, sub talibus simulacris se colere arbitrabantur; et gentes, suos (licet falsos) Deos, quos tamen in cœlo habitare fingerent.

Nihilominus et Deum æternum Judæi, unum verumque cœli ac terræ Dominum, sub talibus simulachris persuasi erant se colere: et gentes, suos licet falsos deos, quos tamen in cœlo habitare fingerent, (Lib. I. c. xi. s. 9.) "Ad hœc mala accedit nova improbitas quod homo qualem intus concepit Deum: exprimere opere tentat. Mens igitur idolum gignit: manus parit. Hanc esse idololatriœ originem quod homines

Ad hœc non crediderunt, Deum sibi adesse, nisi carnaliter se præsentem exhiberet.

Deum sibi adesse, nisi carnaliter exhibeat se prsesentem, prodit Israelitarum exem- plum. Nescimus, dicebant quid isti Mosi contigerit: fac nobis Deos, qui nos prcecedant. Deum quidem esse noverant cujus experti virtutem in tot miraculis : sed propinquum sibi esse non confidebant, nisi oculis cernerent corpo- reum vultus ejus symbolum, quod sibi tes- timonium esset gubernantis DeL A prceeunte ergo imagine volebant cognos- cere Deum itineris sibi esse ducem. Id quotidiana experientia docet, in- quietam semper esse carnem, donee sibi simile figmentum nacta est, in quo pro Dei imagine inaniter soletur. Omnibus fere a condito mundo seculis,

Ut huic caece cupiditati obseque- rentur erexerunt signa, in quibus Deum sibi prae oculis carnalibus ob- versari crederent. Cum vero Deum se in illis intueri arbitrarentur, et ipsum quoque in illis coluerimt. Tandem toti et animis et oculis illic affixi, magis obbrutescere cceperunt ; et quasi aliquid divinitatis inesset, ob-

huic caecae cupiditati ut obsequerentur homines, erexerunt signa, in quibus Deum sibi prae oculis carnalibus ob- versari credebanL Tale figmentum se- quitur protinus adoratio : quum enim Deum se homines in simulachris intueri arbitrarentur et ipsum quoque illic coluerunt. Tandem toti et ani mis et oculis illic affixi magis obbrutes-


XX111 stupescere et admirari. Hoc qui ante hac factum, et nostra etiam memoria fieri negant, unprudenter mentiuntur. Cur enim coram illis prosternuntur ? Cur sese ad ilia, precaturi, tanquam ad awes Dei convertunt ? Cur pro illis, tanquam pro aris et focis, ad csedes usque et strages digla- diuntur ? ut facilius laturi sint Deum unum sibi eripi, quam sua idola. Et tamen nondum crassos vulgi eiTores (qui pene infiniti sunt, et omnium fere corda occupant) enumero : tan- turn indico, quod ipsi profitentur, cum se maxime ab idolatria purgare volunt. Non vocamus, inquiunt, nos- tros Deos. Neque illi, aut Judasi, aut Gentiles, vocabant : sed signa duntaxat, et Deorum simulacra. Et tamen pro- phetae, et omnes scripturce, illis fornica- tiones cum ligno et lapide exprobrare non desinebant : tantum ob ea, quao quotidie ab his fiunt, qui Chris- tiani haberi volunt : nempe, quod Deum in ligno et lapide carnaliter venerabantur. Ultimum effugium est, quod aiunt esse libros idiotarum. Id ut concedamus (quanquam vanis- simum est, cum certo certius sit, non in alium usum prostare, quam ut adorentur) non tamen video quern fruc- tum afferre possint idiotis imagines cere coaperunt et quasi aliquid divi- nitatis inesset obstupescere et admi rari," (Lib. I. c. xi. s. 8, ad fin. et 9.) " Hoc qui antehac factum, et nostra etiam memoria fieri negant, impudenter mentiuntur. Cur enim coram illis prosternuntur? Cur sese ad ilia, precaturi, tanquam ad Dei aures convertuntur ? Siquidem verum est, quod ait A.ugustinus^ Neminem orare vel adorare sic intuentem simu- lachrum, qui non sic affidatur, ut ab eo exaudiri se putet, vel sibi prcestari, quod desiderat, sperat. Cur inter ejus- dem Dei simulachra tantum discrimen, ut altero prceterito, aut vulgariter honorato, alterum omni solemni honore prosequan- tur? Cur in visendis simulacJiris, quorum similia domi suae, habent, votivis peregri- nationibus se fatiganf? Cur pro illis hodie, tanquam pro aris et focis, ad ca3des usque et strages digladian- tur ut facilius laturi sint unicum Deum sibi eripi, quam sua idola ? Et tamen nondum crassos vulgi errores (qui pene infiniti sunt, et omnium fere corda occupant) enumero : tantum in dico quod ipsi profitentur, quum se maxime ab idololatria purgare volunt. Non vocamus, inquiunt, nostros deos. Neque illi aut Judrei, aut Gentiles olim vocabant ; et tamen prophetse passim illis fornicationes cum ligno et lapide exprobrare non desinebant ; tantum ob ea quce quotidie ab iis fiunt qui Christian! haberi volunt, nempe quod Deum in ligno et lapide carna liter venerabantur," (Lib. I. c. xi. s. 10.) " Quare, si quid frontis habent Papistce, ne posthac ejfugio isto utantur libros esse idiotarum imagines; quod tarn aperte pluribus Scriptures, testi- moniis refellitur. Tametsi ut hoc illis concedam, ne sic quidem multum profe- cerint pro idolis suis tuendis. Cujus- modi portenta pro Deo obtrudant notum xxiv INTRODUCTORY NOTICE. Cprcesertim guilus Deum effigiare volunt) nisi utfaciant anthropomorphitas. Quas vero sanctis statuunt, quid nisi sunt perditissimi luxus et obsccenitatis ex- emplaria ? ad quas si quis se formare vellet, fustuario dignus sit. Equidem lupanaria pudicius et modestius cultas merctrices ostendunt, quam templa eas, quas volunt virginum videri ima gines. Componant ergo suas imagines vel ad modicum saltern pudorem : ut paulo verecundius mentiantur, alicujus sanctitatis libros esse. Sed turn etiam respondebimus, non hanc esse docendi populi Dei rationem ; quem longe alia doctrina, quam istis naeniis, institui voluit Dominus. Verbi sui prsedica- tionenij communem omnibus doctrinam proposuit. Quorsum itaque pertinebat erigi tot cruces ligneas, lapideas, argenteas, etiam et aureas ; si illud scepe inculca- retur, Christum esse traditum propter delicta nostra, ut in crace maledic- tionem nostram sustiueret et peccata nostra ablueret? ex quo uno verbo est. Quas vero sanctas picturas vel statuas dicant, quid sunt nisi perditissi mi luxus et obscoenitatis exemplaria ? ad qua!, si quis formare se vellet, fus tuario dignus sit. Equidem lupanaria pudicius et modestius cultas meretri- ces ostendunt, quam templa eas quas volunt censeri virginum imagines. Martyribus nihilo decentiorem fingunt habitum. Componant ergo sua idola vel ad modicum saltern pudorem, ut paulo verecundius mentiantur alicu jus sanctitatis libros esse. Sed turn quoque respondebimus, non hanc esse in sacris locis docendi fidelis populi ra tionem : quem longe alia doctrina quam istis nseniis illic institui vull Deus. In verbi sui prcedicatione, et sa cris mysteriis communem illic omnibus doctrinam proponi jussit ; in quam parwn sedulo intentum sibi animum esse produnt, qui oculis ad idola con- templanda circumaguntur. Quos ergo vocant Papistce, idiotas, quorum rudi- tas solis imaginibus doceri sustineat? Hos scilicet quos pro suis discipulis ag- noscit Dominus : quos ccelestis suce Philosophies revelatione dignatur ; quos salutaribus regni suis mysteriis vult eru- diri. Fateor quidem, ut res habet, hodie esse non paucos qui talibus libris carere nequeant. Sedunde, quceso, isthcec stupi- ditas, nisi quod ea doctrina fraudantur, quce sola erat ad eosformandos idonea? Neque enim alia de causa, quiprceerant JEcclesiis, resignarunt idolis docendi vices, nisi quia ipsi rnuti erant. Chris tum vera JSvangelii prcedicatione depingi, et quodammodo ob oculos nostros cruci- Jigi testatur Paulus. Quorsum igitur attinebat tot passim in templis cruces erigi, ligneas, lapideas, argenteas, et aureas, si probe et Jideliter illud incul- caretur Christum esse mortuum ut in cruce maledictionem nostrarn sustine-

ret, peccata nostra expiaret carports

plus discere poterant, quam ex mille crucibus ligneis aut lapideis. Nam in aureas et argenteas, avari mentes et oculos tenacius forte defigunt, quam in ulla Dei verba. Et quos quœso vocant idiotas ? Hos scilicet quos Dominus theodidactos agnoscit."—(P. 53, 54.)

sui sacrificio, sanguineque ablueret, nos denique reconciliaret Deo patri? Ex quo uno plus discere poterant quam ex mille crueibus ligneis aut lapideis: nam in aureas et argenteas avari mentes et oculos tenacius forte defigunt, quam in ulla Dei verba." (Supra, sec. 7.)

From the above extracts, which furnish a far better idea of the nature of the changes which the Work has undergone than any other mode of explanation could have given, it appears that the whole of the original text, with the exception of two or three sentences, is preserved entire in the last edition. These extracts are believed to form a fair average specimen of both editions, and so far discountenance the idea, which appears to be not unfrequently entertained, that the first edition was as defective in quality as in bulk. On the contrary, the quality was such that even Calvin despaired of being able to improve it, and accordingly left it as it originally fell from his pen—an enduring monument of his consummate ability, and a striking confirmation of the remark which has been made, that, when his opinions on any subject were formed and expressed, it was after such careful and thorough investigation as made it unnecessary for him afterwards to alter them.

After the exposition of the Decalogue several collateral topics are briefly discussed. In regard to the great end of the Commandments, the following passage, though given with some variations in the last edition, deserves to be quoted:—

"Facile autem est perspicere quo tendant omnia: nempe ad docendum charitatem. Ac primum, ut Deum timeamus, amemus, colamus, ipso confidamus ipsum invocemus ac requiramus, ab ipso omnia expectemus, in ipso præsidia nostra collocemus, in ipso quiescamus: quæ summa est primæ tabular, qua ad pietatem peculiariter instituimur. Deinde, ut propter Deum, charitatem cum aliis colamus: ita cum omnibus agendo, ut nobiscum agi optemus: quod est secundæ tabulæ caput: non autem ut nos ipsos amemus. Neque enim in tota lege syllaba una legitur, quaa regulam homini de iis statuat, quas suo commodo facturus aut omissurus sit. Et sane quando ita nati sunt homines, ut in amorem sui toti proni ferantur; nulla fuit opus lege, quaa amorem ilium sponte sua immodicum magis inflammaret. Quo plane perspicuum est, non nostri ipsorum amorem, sed Dei et proximi, observationem mandatorum esse: optimeque ac sanctissime eum vivere qui, quam minime fieri potest, sibi vivit ac studet: neminem vero eo pejus nee iniquius vivere, qui sibi duntaxat vivit ac studet, suaque duntaxat cogitat ac quærit."— (Pp. 72, 73.)

The spirituality of the law, and the perfect obedience required by it, are next adverted to, and as a necessary con sequence of these, the absurdity of the scholastic distinction between precepts and counsels, and of the dogmas of satisfactions and works of supererogation. Here it is observed:

"Jubet itaque Dominus nos sincere statuere, et nobiscum reputare, nulla nos sibi prasstare gratuita officia, sed debita obsequia reddere. Idque, cum fecerimus quaacunque prascipiuntur nobis: hoc est, si omnes nostraa cogitationes omniaque membra versa essent in officia legis: vel si plus quam omnes omnium hominum justitiaa, unius essent. Isti, qui longissime ab eo absunt, ut fecerint quaa præcepta sunt: audent tamen gloriari se cumulum addidisse ad justam mensuram. Sed facile scilicet et cuivis in promptu est, hæc in sellis et cathedris sub umbra disputare. Cum autem summus ille Judex pro tribunali sederit, omne os obstrui et omnem gloriationem evanescere oportebit. Hoc, hoc quærendum erat, quam ad ejus tribunal defensionis fiduciam Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/35 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/36 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/37 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/38 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/39 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/40 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/41 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/42 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/43 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/44 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/45 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/46 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/47 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/48 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/49 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/50 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/51 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/52 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/53 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/54 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/55 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/56 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/57 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/58 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/59 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/60 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/61 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/62 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/63 Page:Institutes of the Christian Religion Vol 1.djvu/64