June 24, 2017

John Calvin (1509–1564) on the Gospel Invitation and Offer, Universal Promises, and the Gift of Faith

For nothing is more certain than that the Gospel is addressed to all promiscuously, but that the Spirit of faith is bestowed on the elect alone, by peculiar privilege. The promises are universal. How does it happen, therefore, that their efficacy is not equally felt by all? For this reason, because God does not reveal His arm to all. Indeed, among men but moderately skilled in Scripture, this subject needs not to be discussed, seeing that the promises of the Gospel make offer of the grace of Christ equally to all; and God, by the external call, invites all who are willing to accept of salvation. Faith, also, is a special gift.
John Calvin, “CCCIV.—To Melanchthon, (28th November 1552),” in Letters of John Calvin, ed. Jules Bonnet (Edinburgh: Thomas Constable, 1857) 2:364–65. Also in “CCCV.—To Melanchthon (28th November 1552),” in Letters of John Calvin, ed. Jules Bonnet (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1858), 2:379–80. Credit to Donald John MacLean for the find. See “John Calvin and the Gospel Offer,” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 34.1 (Spring 2016): 53–69. The above quote is on page 53.

Nihil enim magis notum est quam verbi praedictionem omnibus promiscue esse communem, sed fidei spiritum solis electis sinculari privilegio donari. Universae sunt promissiones. Qui fit igitur ut non peraeque apud omnes vigeat earum efficacia? Nempe quia non omnibus brachium suum Deus patefacit. Nec vero apud homines mediocriter in scriptura versatos ea res disputatione indiget: quum pariter omnibus Christi gratiam offerant promissiones, et externa voce invitet Deus quoslibet in salutem: peculiare esse fidei donum.
Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omnia. (W. Baum et al. (ed.); 59 vols.; Braunschweig, 1863–1900), 14:417 (CO 14, col. 417).


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