Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion (Battles Edition) Vol. I

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Puritan Board Graduate
I plan to list quotes from by first reading of the institutes that I find devotional (similar to my reading through Brakel’s Systematic). I hope others can enjoy and find encouragement to read Calvin’s Institutes. I chose the Battles Westminster Press edition because it was a free gift from a former Pastor and current friend of mine. The goal is at least once per Lord’s Day (China Time).
From Calvin’s Prefatory Address To King Francis pg. 24 - 25:

Our controversy turns on these hinges: first, they contend that the form of the church is always apparent and observable. Secondly, they set this form in the see of the Roman Church and its hierarchy. We, on the contrary, affirm that the church can exist without any visible appearance, and that its appearance is not contained within that outward magnificence which they foolishly admire. Rather, it has quite another mark: namely, the pure preaching of God’s Word and the lawful administration of the sacraments. They rage if the church cannot always be pointed to with the finger. But among the Jewish people how often was it so deformed that no semblance of it remained? What form do we think it displayed when Elijah complained that he alone was left [1 Kings 19:10, or 14]? How long after Christ’s coming was it hidden without form? How often has it since that time been so oppressed by wars, seditions, and heresies that it did not shine forth at all? If they had lived at that time, would they have believed that any church existed? But Elijah heard that there still remained seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee before Baal. And we must not doubt that Christ has reigned on earth ever since he ascended into heaven.
I plan to list quotes from by first reading of the institutes that I find devotional (similar to my reading through Brakel’s Systematic). I hope others can enjoy and find encouragement to read Calvin’s Institutes. I chose the Battles Westminster Press edition because it was a free gift from a former Pastor and current friend of mine. The goal is at least once per Lord’s Day (China Time).
If this is going to be an ongoing thing; you might want to download Logos Basic for free and purchase the Westminster edition. They have it on sale this month for $9.99. It will make quoting and referencing it much easier, simply copy and paste.
Also, I do not think, but I could be wrong, that you have to download the program. You could use solely the web-app and simply purchase and it should download right to that library to use anywhere internet is available.
Chapter II - What It Is To Know God, And What Purpose The Knowledge of Him Tends / pg. 42:
For how can the thought of God penetrate your mind without your realizing immediately that, since you are his handiwork, you have been made over and bound to his command by right of creation, that you owe your life to him? – that whatever you undertake, whatever you do, ought to be ascribed to him? If this be so, it now assuredly follows that your life is wickedly corrupt unless it be disposed to his service, seeing that his will ought for us to be the law by which we live. Again, you cannot behold him clearly unless you acknowledge him to be the fountainhead and source of every good. From this too would arise the desire to cleave to him and trust in him, but for the fact that man’s depravity seduces his mind from rightly seeking him.
Chapter V: 6. The Creator reveals his lordship over the creation, pg. 58-59
Let us therefore remember, whenever each of us contemplates his own nature, that there is one God who so governs all natures that he would have us look unto him, direct our faith in him, and worship and call upon him. For nothing is more preposterous than to enjoy the very remarkable gifts that attest the divine nature within us, yet to overlook the Author who gives them to us at our asking. With what clear manifestations his mind draws us to contemplate him! Unless perchance it be unknown to us in whose power it lies to sustain this infinite mass of heaven and earth by his Word: by his nod alone sometimes to shake heaven with thunderbolts, to burn everything with lightnings, to kindle the air with flashes; sometimes to disturb it with various sorts of storms, and then at his pleasure to clear them away in a moment; to compel the sea, which by its height seems to threaten the earth with continual destruction, to hang as if in mid-air; sometimes to arouse it in a dreadful way with the tumultuous force of winds; sometimes, with waves quieted, to make it calm again!
Chapter VII- 4. The witness of the Holy Spirit: this is stronger than all proof, pg. 79

Yet they who strive to build up firm faith in Scripture through disputation are doing things backwards. For my part, although I do not excel either in great dexterity or eloquence, if I were struggling against the most crafty sort of despisers of God, who seek to appear shrewd and witty and disparaging Scripture, I am confident it would not be difficult for me to silence their clamorous voices. And if it were a useful labor to refute there cavils, I would with no great trouble shatter the boasts they mutter in their lurking places. But even if anyone clears God‘s Sacred Word from man’s evil speaking, he will not at once imprint upon their hearts that certainty which piety requires. Since for unbelieving men religion seems to stand by opinion alone, they, in order not to believe anything foolishly or lightly, both wish and demand rational proof that Moses and the prophets spoke divinely. But I reply: the testimony of the spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.
Chapter IX - 3. Word and Spirit belong inseparably together, pg. 95
For by a kind of mutual bond the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit so that the perfect religion of the Word may abide in our minds when the Spirit, who causes us to contemplate God’s face, shines; and that we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word. So indeed it is. God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it. Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.
Chapter XI - I. We are forbidden every pictorial representation of God, pg. 100
Meanwhile, since this brute stupidity gripped the whole world – to pant after visible figures of God, and thus to form gods of wood, stone, gold, silver, or other dead and corruptible matter – we must clean to this principle: God’s glory is corrupted by an impious falsehood whenever any form is attached to him. Therefore in the law, after having claimed for himself alone the glory of deity, when he would teach what worship he approves or repudiates, God soon adds, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, nor any likeness” [Ex. 20:4]. By these words he restrains our waywardness from trying to represent him by any visible image, and briefly enumerates all those forms by which superstition long ago began to turn his truth into falsehood. For we know that the Persians worshiped the sun; all the stars they saw in the heavens the stupid pagans also fashioned into gods for themselves. There was almost no animal that for the Egyptians was not the figure of a god. Indeed, the Greeks seemed to be wise above the rest, because they worshiped God in human form. But God does not compare these images with one another, as if one were more suitable, another less so; but without exception he repudiates all likenesses, pictures, and other signs by which the superstitious have thought he will be near them.
Chapter XIII - I. God’s nature is immeasurable and spiritual, pg. 121
For who even of slight intelligence does not understand that, as nurses commonly do with infants, God is wont in a measure to “lisp“ in speaking to us? Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.
Chapter XIII - 7. The deity of the Word, pg. 129
Indeed, because Christ had not yet been manifested, it is necessary to understand the Word as begotten of the Father before time [cf. Eccles. 24:14, Vg.]. But if that Spirit, whose organs were the prophets, was the Spirit of the Word, we infer without any doubt that he was truly God. And Moses clearly teaches this in the creation of the universe, setting forth this Word as intermediary. For why does he expressly tell us that God in his individual acts of creation spoke, Let this or that be done [Gen. ch. 1] unless so that the unsearchable glory of God may shine forth in his image? It would be easy for censorious babblers to get around this, saying that the Word is to be understood as a bidding and command. But the apostles are better interpreters, who teach that the world was made through the Son, and that he upholds all things by his powerful word [Heb. 1:2-3]. For here we see the Word understood as the order or mandate of the Son, who is himself the eternal and essential Word of the Father.
I found the timing ironic considering recent post on the trinity.

Chapter XIII - 18. Difference of Father, Son, and Spirit, pg. 142-143
I really do not know whether it is expedient to borrow comparisons from human affairs to express the force of this distinction. Men of old were indeed accustomed sometimes to do so, but at the same time they confessed that the analogies they advanced were quite inadequate. Thus it is that I shrink from all rashness here: lest if anything should be inopportunely expressed, it may give occasion either of calumny to the malicious, or of delusion to the ignorant. Nevertheless, it is not fitting to suppress the distinction that we observe to be expressed in Scripture. It is this: to the Father is attributed the beginning of activity, and the fountain and wellspring of all things; to the Son, wisdom, counsel, and the ordered disposition of all things; but to the Spirit is assigned the power and efficacy of that activity. Indeed, although the eternity of the Father is also the eternity of the Son and the Spirit, since God could never exist apart from his wisdom and power, and we must not seek in eternity a before or an after, nevertheless the observance of an order is not meaningless or superfluous, when the Father is thought of as first, then from him the Son, and finally from both the Spirit.
Chapter XIV - I. We cannot and should not go beyond God’s act of creation in our speculation, pg. 160-162:
When a certain shameless fellow mockingly asked a pious old man what God had done before the creation of the world, the latter aptly countered that he had been building hell for the curious.2 Let this admonition, no less grave than severe, restrain the wantonness that tickles many and even drives them to wicked and hurtful speculations. In short, let us remember that that (published typo) invisible God, whose wisdom, power, and righteousness are incomprehensible, sets before us Moses’ history as a mirror in which his living likeness glows. For just as eyes, when dimmed with age or weakness or by some other defect, unless aided by spectacles, discern nothing distinctly; so, such is our feebleness, unless Scripture guides us in seeking God, we are immediately confused. They who, indeed, indulge their own wantonness, since they are now warned in vain, will feel too late by a dreadful ruin how much better it would have been for them reverently to accept God’s secret purposes then to belch forth blasphemies by which to obscure heaven.

2. Augustine, Confessions XI. xii (MPL 32. 815; tr. LCC VII. 253).
Chapter XIV - 8. The hierarchy, number, and form of the angels, pg. 168 - 169
Let those who dare determine the number and orders of angels see what sort of foundation they have. Michael, I admit, iS called “the great prince” in The Book of Daniel [ch. 12:1], and “the archangel”, in Jude [v. 9]. And Paul teaches that it will be the archangel who will call men to judgment with a trumpet [I Thess. 4:16; cf. Ezek. 10:5]. But who could on this basis determine the degrees of honor among the angels, distinguish each by his insignia, assigned to each his place and station?……………………………………………………………………….

……………………It is certain that spirits lack bodily form, and yet Scripture, matching the measure of our comprehension, usefully depicts for us winged angels under the names of cherubim and seraphim, that we may not doubt that they are ever ready to bring help to us with incredible swiftness, should circumstance require it, even as lightning sent forth from heaven flies to us with its usual speed. Whatever besides can be sought of both their number and order, let us hold it among those mysteries whose full revelation is delayed until the Last Day. Therefore let us remember not to probe too curiously or talk too confidently.
Chapter XV - 4. The true nature of the image of God is to be derived from what Scripture says of its renewal through Christ, pg. 190:
Yet in order that we may know of what parts this image consists, it is of value to discuss the faculties of the soul. For that speculation of Augustine, that the soul is the reflection of the Trinity because in it reside the understanding, will, and memory, is by no means sound. Nor is there any probability in the opinion of those who locate God‘s likeness in the dominion given to man, as if in this mark alone he resembled God, that he was established as heir and possessor of all things; whereas God’s image is properly to be sought within him, not outside him, indeed, it is an inner good of the soul.
Chapter XVII - I. The meaning of God’s ways, pg. 210-211:
Now this, also, ought to be added, that although either fatherly favor and beneficence or severity of judgment often shine forth in the whole course of providence, nevertheless sometimes the causes of the events are hidden. So the thought creeps in that human affairs turn and whirl at the blind urge of fortune; or the flesh incites us to contradiction, as if God were making sport of men by throwing them about like balls. It is, indeed, true that if we had quiet and composed minds ready to learn, the final outcome would show that God always has the best reason for his plan: either to instruct his own people in patience, or to correct their wicked affections and tame their lust, or to subjugate them to self denial, or to arouse them from sluggishness; again, to bring low the proud, to shatter the cunning of the impious and to overthrow their devices. Yet however hidden and fugitive from our point of view the causes may be, we must hold that they are surely laid up with him, and hence we must exclaim with David: “Great, O God, are the wondrous deeds that thou hast done, and thy thoughts toward us cannot be reckoned; if I try to speak, they would be more than can be told” [Ps. 40:5].
Chapter XVIII - 3. God’s will is a unity, pg. 234:
Therefore, all godly and modest folk readily agree with this saying of Augustine: “Sometimes with a good will a man wills something which God does not will.… For example, a good son wills that his father live, whom God wills to die. Again, it can happen that the same man wills with a bad will what God wills with a good will. For example, a bad son wills that his father die; God also wills this. That is, the former wills what God does not will; but the latter wills what God also wills. And yet the filial piety of the former, even though he wills something other than God wills, is more consonant with God’s good will than the impiety of the latter, who wills the same thing as God does. There is a great difference between what is fitting for man to will and what is fitting for God, and to what end the will of each is directed, so that it be either approved or disapproved. For through the bad wills of evil men God fulfills what he righteously wills.”
Book Two - Chapter I - 5. The first sin as original sin, pg. 246 (being said of Adam):
Therefore, after the heavenly image was obliterated in him, he was not the only one to suffer this punishment – that, in place of wisdom, virtue, holiness, truth, and justice, with which adornments he had been clad, there came forth the most filthy plagues, blindness, impotence, impurity, vanity, and injustice – but he also entangled and immersed his offspring in the same miseries.
Book Two: Chapter II-8. Augustine’s doctrine of “free will”, pg. 265:
Again, man, using free will badly, has lost both himself and his will. Again, the free will has been so enslaved that it can have no power for righteousness. Again, what God’s grace has not freed will not be free. Again, the justice of God is not fulfilled when the law so commands, and man acts as if by his own strength; but when the Spirit helps, and man’s will, not free, but freed by God, obeys. And he gives a brief account of all these matters when he rides elsewhere: man, when he was created, received great powers of free will, but lost them by sinning.
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I found the below to quotes good food for thought and helpful to hear from Calvin relating to a recent PB thread on preparationism.

Book Two: Chapter II - 27. Our will cannot long for the good without the Holy Spirit, pg. 287:
Those who attribute to God’s first grace the fact that we effectually will, seem to imply, on the other hand, that there is a faculty in the soul voluntarily to aspire to good, but one too feeble to be able to come forth into firm intention, or to arouse effort. There is no doubt that this opinion, taken from Origen and certain other ancient writers, was commonly held by the Schoolmen: they usually consider man in “mere nature,” as they phrase it. As such, man is described in the apostle’s words: “For I do not do the good I will, but the evil I do not will is what I do. It lies in my power to will, but I find myself unable to accomplish” [Rom. 7:19, 18, cf. Vg.]. But they wrongly pervert the whole argument that Paul is pursuing here. For he is discussing the Christian struggle (more briefly touched in Galatians [ch. 5:17]), which believers constantly feel in themselves in the conflict between flesh and spirit. But the Spirit comes, not from nature, but from regeneration.
Same section pg. 288
We are all sinners by nature; therefore we are held under the yoke of sin. But if the whole man lies under the power of sin, surely it is necessary that the will, which is its chief seat, be restrained by the stoutest bonds. Paul’s saying would not make sense, that “it is God who is at work to will in us” [Phil. 2: 13 p.], if any will preceded the grace of the Spirit. Away then with all that “preparation” which many babble about! For even if believers sometimes ask that their hearts be conformed to obedience to God’s law, as David in a number of passages does, yet we must also note that his desire to pray comes from God. This we may infer from David’s words. When he desires that a clean heart be created in himself [Ps. 51:10], surely he does not credit himself with the beginning of its creation. For this reason we ought rather to value Augustine’s saying: “God has anticipated you in all things; now do you yourself – while you may – anticipate his wrath. How? Confess that you have all these things from God: whatever good you have it from him; whatever evil, from yourself.” And a little later, “Nothing is ours but sin.”
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Book Two: Chapter III - 8. Scripture imputes to God all that is for our benefit, pg. 300-301:
What other fact could more clearly claim for him, and take away from us, every vestige of good and right in our will? For it always follows that nothing good can arise out of our will until it has been reformed; and after its reformation, in so far as it is good, it is so from God, not from ourselves.
Book Two: Chapter V - 10. The Biblical promises suppose (according to our opponents’ view) the freedom of the will, pg. 328:
On the other hand, since he strives in every way to spur believers to implore his grace, it will be not at all incongruous for him to attempt through his promises the same thing that, as we have shown, he has through his precepts already accomplished for their sake. When God by his precepts teaches us concerning his will, he apprizes us of our misery and how wholeheartedly we disagree with his will. At the same time he prompts us to call upon his Spirit to direct us into the right path. But because our sluggishness is not sufficiently aroused by precepts, promises are added in order, by a certain sweetness, to entice us to love the precepts. The greater our desire for righteousness, the more fervent we become to seek God’s grace. That is how these entreaties, “If you are willing,” “If you hearken,” the Lord neither attributes to us the free capacity to will or to hearken, nor yet does he mock us for our impotence.
Book Two: Chapter VII - 16. The severity of the law takes away from us all self-deception, pg. 355:
Likewise, he needs to be cured of another disease, that of pride, with which we have said that he is sick. So long as he is permitted to stand open his own judgment, he passes off hypocrisy as righteousness; pleased with this, he is aroused against God’s grace by I know not what counterfeit acts of righteousness. But after he is compelled to weigh his life in the scales of the law, laying aside all that presumption of fictitious righteousness, he discovers that he is a long way from holiness, and is in fact teeming with a multitude of vices, with which he previously thought himself undefiled. So deep and tortuous are the recesses in which the evils of covetousness lurk that they easily deceive man’s sight. The apostle has good reason to say: “I should not have known covetousness, if the law had not said, ‘You shall not cover’”. [Rom. 7;7]. For if by the law covetousness is not dragged from its layer, it destroys wretched man so secretly that he does not even feel its fatal stab.
Book Two: Chapter VIII - 11. The two Tables, pg. 377:
Surely the first foundation of righteousness is the worship of God. When this is overthrown, all of the remaining parts of righteousness, like the pieces of a shattered and fallen building, are mangled and scattered. What kind of righteousness will you call it not to harass men with theft and plundering, if through impious sacrilege you at the same time deprive God’s majesty of its glory? Or that you do not defile your body with fornication, if with your blasphemies you profane God‘s most holy name? Or that you do not slay a man, if you strive to kill and to quench the remembrance of God? It is vain to cry up righteousness without religion. This is as unreasonable as to display a mutilated, decapitated body as something beautiful. Not only is religion the chief part but the very soul, whereby the whole breathes and thrives. And apart from the fear of God men do not preserve equity and love amongst themselves. Therefore we call the worship of God the beginning and foundation of righteousness. When it is removed, whatever equity, continence, or temperance men practice among themselves is in God’s sight empty and worthless.
Book Two: Chapter VIII - 16. The First Commandment, pg. 383:
The phrase that follows, “before my face,” makes the offense more heinous because God is provoked to jealousy as often as we substitute our own inventions in place of him. This is like a shameless woman who brings in an adulterer before her husband’s very eyes only to vex his mind more. Therefore, when God by his present power and grace testified that he kept watch over the people whom he had chosen, he warned them- to keep them even more from the crime of rebellion- that they could introduce no new gods without his witnessing and observing their sacrilege. To this boldness is added much impiety: man judges himself able in his desertions to pull the wool over God’s eyes. On the contrary, God proclaims that whatever we undertake, whatever we attempt, whatever we make, come into his sight. Therefore, let our conscience be clean even from the most secret thoughts of apostasy, if we wish our religion approved of the Lord. For the Lord requires that the glory of his divinity remain whole and uncorrupted not only in outward confession, but in his own eyes, which gaze upon the most secret recesses of our hearts.
Book Two: Chapter VIII - 48. The good reputation of our neighbor, pg. 412:
And yet it is wonderful with what thoughtless unconcern we sin in this respect time and again! Those who do not markedly suffer from this disease are rare indeed. We delight in a certain poisoned sweetness experienced in ferreting out and in disclosing the evils of others. And let us not think it an adequate excuse if in many instances we are not lying. For he who does not allow a brother’s name to be sullied by falsehood also wishes it to be kept unblemished as far as truth permits. Indeed, although he may guard it against lying only, he yet implies by this that it is entrusted to his care. That God is concerned about it should be enough to prompt us to keep safe our neighbors good name. Hence, evilspeaking is without a doubt universally condemned. Now, we understand by “evilspeaking” not reproof made with intent to chastise; not accusation or judicial denunciation to remedy evil. Nor does evilspeaking mean public correction, calculated to strike other sinners with terror; nor disclosure before those who need to be forewarned lest they be endangered through ignorance. By “evilspeaking” we mean hateful accusation arising from evil intent and wanton desire to defame.
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Book Two: Chapter IX - 2. The gospel preaches the revealed Christ, pg. 424-425:
Now I take the gospel to be the clear manifestation of the mystery of Christ. I recognize, of course, that since Paul calls the gospel “the doctrine of faith” [I Tim. 4:6], all those promises of free remission of sins which commonly occur in the law, whereby God reconciles men to himself, are counted as parts of it. For he contrasts faith with the terrors that would trouble and vex the conscience if salvation were to be sought in works. From this it follows that the word “gospel,” taken in the broad sense, includes those testimonies of his mercy and fatherly favor which God gave to the patriarchs of old. In a higher sense, however, the word refers, I say, to the proclamation of the grace manifested in Christ. This is not only accepted as a matter of common usage, but rests upon the authority of Christ and the apostles [Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35].

Book Two: Chapter X - 2. Chief points of agreement, pg. 429:
The covenant made with all the patriarchs is so much like ours in substance and reality that the two are actually one and the same.
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