September 11, 2007

Calvin on What God Wishes and Approves

Can you disentangle yourself from this passage likewise, only by supposing that God is bound by, and dependant on, the free will of man?

As if it were not sufficiently clear, that for the purpose of enhancing their crime, he assumes the character of man, who says that his labor is lost, when the result does not correspond. Undoubtedly, those whom God determines efficaciously to gather to himself, he draws by his Spirit, and as this is entirely dependent on himself, he promises that he will do it.

Therefore as many are called, who do not follow, it is perfectly certain that that mode of gathering, which Christ laments as having been fruitless and vain, must differ from the efficacious, of which mention is made elsewhere. As in Isaiah 11:12, and 58:8; 43:5; 52:12; 54:7.) “He will gather the dispersed of Judah;” and “the glory of the Lord will gather you.” Also “I will gather you from the west.”

Again “your God will gather you;” and that because he had just before said, that God had bared his arm, to make his power conspicuous in the sight of the nations. And therefore he repeats a little after; “for a moment I have left thee, but with everlasting mercies will I gather thee.”

What I have said of the precepts, abundantly suffices to confound your blasphemies. For though God gives no pretended commands, but seriously declares what he wishes and approves; yet it is in one way, that he wills the obedience of his elect whom he efficaciously bends to compliance; and in another that of the reprobate whom he warns by the external word, but does not see good to draw to himself. Contumacy and depravity are equally natural to all, so that none is ready and willing to assume the yoke.

To some God promises the spirit of obedience; others are left to their own depravity. For however you may prate, the new heart is not promised indiscriminately to all; but peculiarly to the elect, that they may walk in God’s precepts. Good critic, what think you of this? When God invites the whole crowd to himself, and withholds knowingly, and willingly his Spirit from the greater part, while he draws the few by his secret influence to obey, must he on that account be condemned as guilty of falsehood
Calvin on Secret Providence, trans. by James Lillie (New York: Robert Carter, 1840), 75-77.

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