13 November, 2016

Calvin and Common Grace

Rev. Herman Hoeksema


[Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 37, no. 11 (1 March, 1961)]

On the above mentioned subject, Dr. Herman Kuiper has written a couple of articles in The Banner under the title “Surprises in Calvin.” He does this by several quotations from Calvin’s writings, both from his well-known work the Institutes and from his Commentaries.

The chief purpose of these quotations is, evidently, that Calvin believed also in the theory of “common grace” and in the well-meaning offer of salvation to all that hear the preaching of the gospel.

On these quotations I wish, first of all, to make a few general remarks. 

1. First of all, I do not deny that Calvin sometimes seems to teach what Dr. Kuiper wants to make him teach in and by these quotations. Calvin was an astoundingly voluminous writer and, therefore, it is not surprising that in his writings one may find statements that appear to contradict his fundamental emphasis on the sovereign grace of God or, if you please, on the truth that God loves, not all men, but only the elect.

2. Secondly, it is not fair to present Calvin as teaching “common grace” by making a few quotations which are taken out of their context as does Dr. Kuiper. To this I will refer presently.

3. It is possible and, in fact, very probable, that Calvin, though always emphasizing sovereign grace which is only for the elect, in the course of his development, contradicted what he himself had written in an earlier period. 

As to the fact that Kuiper simply quotes Calvin without regard to the context in which these passages occur, I call attention to the following quotation: “Throughout Scripture God’s paternal goodness is celebrated and His readiness to do good.” This is what Kuiper quotes. Now let us read the same quotations in its context:

Briefly then, it will be sufficient for him at present to understand how God the Creator of heaven and earth, governs the world which was made by him. In every part of Scripture we meet with descriptions of his paternal kindness and readiness to do good, and we also meet with examples of severity which show that he is the just punisher of the wicked, especially when they continue obstinate notwithstanding all his forbearance. 

Now, why does Kuiper break off his quotation where he does, especially since he discontinues in the middle of a sentence and puts a period where Calvin has a comma? Is it because the last part of the sentence does not confirm the idea that God’s goodness and paternal care is over the wicked as well as over the righteous?

I will also quote Calvin and, too, from the very next paragraph to that from which Kuiper quoted the above half sentence, I, 10, 2:

Moses, indeed, seems to have intended briefly to comprehend whatever may be known of God by man, when he said: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation' (Exod. 34:6, 7). Here we may observe, first, that his eternity and self-existence are declared by his magnificent name twice repeated; and, secondly, that in the enumeration of his perfections, he is described, not as he is in himself but in relation to us, in order that our acknowledgement of him may be more a vivid actual impression than empty visionary speculation. Moreover, the perfections thus enumerated are just those which we saw shining in the heavens, and on the earthcompassion, goodness, mercy, justice, judgment, and truth. For power and energy are comprehended under the name Jehovah. Similar epithets are employed by the prophets when they would fully declare his sacred name. Not to collect a great number of passages, it may suffice at present to refer to one psalm (145), in which the summary of the divine perfections is so carefully given, that not one seems to have been omitted. Still, however, every perfection there set down may be contemplated in creation; and, hence, such as we feel him to be when experience is our guide, such he declares him to be by his word. In Jeremiah, where God proclaims the character in which he would have us to acknowledge him, though the description is not so full, it is substantially the same. ‘Let him that glorieth,’ says he, ‘glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth’ (Jer. 9:24). Assuredly, the attributes which are most necessary for us to know are these three: loving-kindness, on which alone our safety depends; Judgment, which is daily exercised on the wicked, and awaits them in a severer form, even for eternal destruction; Righteousness by which the faithful are preserved and most benignly cherished.

What does this all mean except this: that there is no common grace, that God loves the righteous, that is, the elect, and that He hates the wicked?

You say, perhaps, that Calvin, nevertheless, also teaches that God is kind and merciful to every individual man and that he contradicts himself in passages such as are quoted by Kuiper? Perhaps he does. I will not deny it. But this is not the current teaching of Calvin. And I maintain that Calvin, as far as his current teaching is concerned, always maintains that grace is not common but always particular and is never on the reprobate but always on the elect only. For that reason Kuiper in his articles in The Banner gives a wrong impression of Calvin. 

Dr. Kuiper also quotes from Calvin’s commentaries. I have no ambition to go through all his quotations. But a good illustration is what he quotes from Psalm 92:10-12: “God hates no one without a cause, nay in so far his workmanship he embraces them in fatherly love.”

Now, I do not care for that distinction between men as righteous or wicked and men as God’s workmanship. That is an abstraction which is nowhere found in Scripture. Besides, this is not the question that concerns us here. The question is rather whether God loves and is gracious to the wicked and reprobate.

And then I must confess that I am amazed that Kuiper can quote from this particular psalm. For the entire psalm teaches very clearly that God does not love and is not gracious to the reprobate wicked. Just listen to this: “O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.” This is the tenor of the entire psalm.

But we are interested to find out what Calvin teaches in the context of the passage that is quoted by Kuiper. In his commentary on this psalm he writes:

First, he declares the destruction of God’s enemies to be as certain as if it had already taken place, and he had witnessed it with his own eyes; then he repeats his assertion: and from all this we may see how much he had benefited by glancing with the eye of faith beyond this world to the throne of God in the heavens. When staggered in our own faith at any time by the prosperity of the wicked, we should learn by his example to rise in our contemplations to a God in heaven, and the conviction will immediately follow in our minds that his enemies cannot long continue to triumph. The Psalmist tells us who they are that are God's enemies … [Here follows the quotation by Kuiper; then Calvin continues] … But as nothing is more opposed to his nature than sin, he proclaims irreconcilable war with the wicked. It contributes in no small degree to the comfort of the Lord’s people, to know that the reason why the wicked are destroyed is, their being necessarily the object of God’s hatred, so that he can no more fail to punish them than deny himself.

Does Calvin teach here, as Kuiper would have his readers believe, that God loves the wicked reprobates, that He is gracious unto them, that He cares for them with a paternal care? And must God’s people be comforted by the knowledge that God loves them? Surely not in the passage from which Kuiper makes a single quotation ignoring the context. On the contrary, Calvin teaches here that the wicked are “the objects of God’s hatred” and that He cannot fail to punish them.

One more quotation I will make in this connection. Dr. Kuiper quotes as follows:

Psalm 115:16: All the comforts which we possess are so many tokens of God’s fatherly care. Satisfied with his own glory, God has enriched the earth with an abundance of good things that mankind may not lack anything. All the riches which the earth contains proclaim with a loud voice what a beneficent Father God is to mankind.

In this connection the question must be asked: who are included in the “we” and “mankind”? Are all individual men and, particularly, the wicked included?

The Psalm and also Calvin’s commentary give us the answer and that answer is emphatically: No. The Psalm throughout speaks only of the people of God and that, too, in distinction from the ungodly heathen. Just let me quote a few verses:

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he bath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold … They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield … The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth. (vv. 1-4, 8, 9, 12-15).

Surely, there is no common grace in the entire psalm.

But how about Calvin? How must we understand, in the quotation which he makes of him, that God is a beneficent Father to every individual man, even to the wicked?

Well, let us read him in what follows in the same context from which Kuiper made his quotation. I quote:

But is there one among a hundred of them who reflects that God in bestowing all good things upon us, reserves nothing for himself, except a grateful acknowledgment of them? And not only in this matter does the ingratitude of the world appear, but the wicked wretches have conducted themselves most vilely, in open and most infamous blasphemy; perverting this verse, and making a jest of it, and saying that God remains unconcerned in heaven, and pays no regard to men. The prophet here declares that the whole world is employed by God for the sole purpose of testifying his paternal solicitude towards mankind; and yet these swine and dogs have made these words a laughing-stock, as if God, by reason of his vast distance from men, totally disregarded them.

Now, my question is whether God is also a beneficent Father to these wicked and blasphemous wretches, to these swine and dogs? My reply is: emphatically No. Even though Calvin speaks of the abundance God bestows on mankind, this does not include every individual but certainly excludes the wicked, “the swine and the dogs,” as Calvin calls them.

And this, as I have already shown, is in harmony with the whole psalm.

I have more to say about this next time, D.V.




[Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 37, no. 12 (15 March, 1961)]

Dr. Herman Kuiper attempts to prove that Calvin teaches the well-meant offer of Christ and salvation to the reprobate. Writes he (The Banner, Jan. 27, 1961):

Meanwhile, there is another element in Calvin’s writings which is no less astounding than his teaching concerning God’s beneficence toward the whole human race. Calvin, who was reputed to be a very keen logician, made many declarations which appear to be wholly inconsistent with his doctrine of divine reprobation. Calvin asserted time and again that God offers Christ and his great salvation to men, concerning whom He decreed that they are to suffer everlasting punishment, and that He earnestly invites them to become partakers of life eternal.

Now, I would say, in the first place, that, if Calvin really writes as Kuiper represents him, then we simply do not agree with him, for we do not believe in the so-called well-meant offer of salvation, well-meant offer of salvation to all men, elect and reprobate, well-meant that is on the part of God. For, in the first place, such is not the teaching of Scripture. And, in. the second place, that, indeed, would contradict the truthfulness of God and make Him a hypocrite. How could He earnestly seek the salvation of men whom He does not want to save, whom He has decreed unto eternal damnation?

Nor do I believe that Calvin, “the keen logician,” would ever teach anything of the kind.

Yet, Kuiper, apparently, offers quotations from Calvin in which he seems to teach this very thing.

I say “apparently” for we all know how deceiving quotations can be when they are taken out of their context. Hence, what we have to do is that we carefully check these quotations and read them in their context. And this is what we propose to do, at least with some of the quotations.

The first quotation is from the Institutes, II, 5, 10. It reads as follows:

I deny that God cruelly mocks us when He invites us to merit blessings, which He knows we are altogether unworthy to merit. The promises being offered alike to believers and to the ungodly, have their use in regard to both … In His promises to the ungodly He attests in a manner how unworthy they are of his kindness.

Thus far Kuiper’s quotation.

First, I want to make a remark about that “offer.” It is a translation of the Latin offere. It does not have the same connotation as our English word offer. With us the word offer has the connotation of willingness to give something to another which the latter may and can either accept or reject. That cannot be said of Christ or of salvation. A better translation, therefore, is to present. The gospel and Christ are “offered” that is, presented in the preaching to all that hear the gospel preached, both to the godly and to the ungodly, to the elect and reprobate alike.

Now let us consider the context in which this quotation occurs. Calvin writes:

What purpose, then, is served by exhortations? It is this: As the wicked with obstinate heart, despise them, they will be a testimony against them when they stand at the judgment-seat of God; nay, they even now strike and lash their consciences. For, however they petulantly deride, they cannot disapprove them. (Book II, 5)

And again, the same paragraph:

God works in his elect in two ways: inwardly, by his Spirit; outwardly by his Word. By his Spirit, illuminating their minds, and training their hearts to the practice of righteousness, he makes them new creatures, while, by His Word, he stimulates them to long and seek for renovation. In both, he exerts the might of his hand in proportion to the measure in which he dispenses them. The Word, when addressed to the reprobate, though not effectual for their amendment, has another use. It urges their consciences now, and will render them more inexcusable in the day of judgment … The reprobate, again, are admonished by Paul, that the doctrine is not in vain; because, while it is in them a savor of death unto death, it is still a sweet savor unto God (II Cor. 2:16).

Kuiper does not quote from this paragraph. He merely refers to it. But, surely, there is no common grace, nor a well-meant offer of salvation. The very opposite is true. The preaching of the Word, according to Calvin, only aggravates the condemnation of the reprobate, is a testimony against them, and when it is a savor of death unto them, it is still a sweet savor unto God.

But, as I said, Kuiper does not quote from this paragraph although he refers to it. 

The quotation by Kuiper is from II, 10. There, Calvin is still combating the enemies of the truth of sovereign grace. Let us look at the context. It is as follows:

The second class of objections is akin to the former. They allege the promises in which the Lord makes a paction (agreement, bargain, H.H.) with our will. Such are the following: “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live” (Amos 5:14). “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:19, 20). “If thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then thou shalt not remove” (Jer. 14:1). “It shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and do all the commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth” (Deut. 28:1). There are other similar passages (Lev. 26:3, etc.). They think that the blessings contained in these promises are offered to our will absurdly and in mockery, if it is not in our power to secure or reject them. It is, indeed, an easy matter to indulge in declamatory complaint on this subject
to say that we are cruelly mocked by the Lord when he declares that his kindness depends on our will, if we are not masters of our willthat it would be a strange liberality on the part of God if he sets his blessings before us, while we have no power of enjoying thema strange certainty of promises, which to prevent their ever being fulfilled, are made to depend on an impossibility. Of promises of this description, which have a condition annexed to them, we shall elsewhere speak, and make it plain that there is nothing absurd in the impossible fulfillment of them. In regard to the matter in hand, I deny that God cruelly mocks us when he invites us to merit blessings which he knows we are altogether unable to merit. The promises being offered alike to believers and to the ungodly, have their use in regard to both. As God by His precepts stings the consciences of the ungodly, so as to prevent them from enjoying their sins while they have no remembrance of his judgments, so, in his promises, he in a manner takes them to witness how unworthy they are of his kindness. Who can deny that it is most just and becoming in God to do good to those that worship him, and to punish with due severity those who despise his majesty. God, therefore, proceeds in due order, when, though the wicked are bound by the fetters of sin, he lays down the law in his promises, that he will do them good only if they depart from their wickedness. This would be right, though his only object were to let them understand that they are deservedly excluded from the favor due to his true worshippers, [etc.]

What, now, does Calvin teach here? Does he support any form of common grace in the above lines? Does he mean to teach here any manner of a well-meant offer of grace and salvation, well-meant on the part of God? Not at all. To be sure, the preaching of the gospel, and the offer (presentation) of the promises, comes to all alike, the elect and the reprobate, the believers and the ungodly. But this does not come to both for the same purpose, according to Calvin. To the believers it is that they may be saved, to the ungodly it is that they may be punished with due severity. And, mark you well, it is not only a matter of fact that the ungodly despise the promises of God when they are proclaimed unto them, but it is the very purpose of God, according to Calvin, that through the proclamation of the promises they shall aggravate the severity of their punishment. Dr. H. Kuiper may not like this. That is an altogether different question. But this is the teaching of Calvin.

And, surely, by quoting Calvin at random by quoting him apart from the context in which these quotations occur, he distorts Calvin’s teaching.

The next quotation from Calvin by Kuiper I confess that I do not understand why he makes it. It is this:

Book III, 22, 10
By external preaching all are called to faith and repentance … though the gospel is addressed generally to all, yet the gift of faith is rare.

Even though Kuiper again quotes Calvin outside of the proper context, I ask: what is wrong with this quotation even as it stands. Are there, according to Kuiper, also those that deny that the external calling to faith and repentance comes to all, at least, to all to whom God in His good pleasure sends the gospel? There may be, but if so, they certainly are not to be found in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

Or does he probably mean that there are those who believe that all to whom the external calling comes, also receive the gift of faith? Again, I would say: there may be. But, please, do not try to find them among Protestant Reformed people.

Or does he, perhaps, mean to say that the mere external call to repentance and faith is a well-meant offer of salvation and, therefore, is grace to all that hear the gospel as is the doctrine of the Christian Reformed Church as taught in the First Point of 1924? In that case you may surely find those that deny this doctrine in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

But, in that case, you certainly twist Calvin’s meaning in the above quotation.

Let me quote just a few lines from the paragraph from which Kuiper quotes:

But it is from Isaiah he more clearly demonstrates how he destines the promises of salvation specially to the elect (Isaiah 8:16); for he declares that his disciples would consist of them only, and not indiscriminately of the whole human race. Whence it is evident that the doctrine of salvation, which it is said to be apart for the sons of the Church only, is abused when it is represented as effectually available to all. For the present let it suffice to observe, that though the word of the gospel is addressed generally to all, yet the gift of faith is rare. Isaiah assigns the cause when he says, that the arm of the Lord is not revealed to all (Isaiah 53:1). Had he said, that the gospel is malignantly and perversely contemned, because many obstinately refuse to hear, there might perhaps be some color for this universal call. It is not the purpose of the Prophet, however, to extenuate the guilt of men, when he states the source of their blindness to be, that God deigns not to reveal his arm to them; he only reminds us that since faith is a special gift, it is vain that the external call sounds in the ear. But I would fain know from those doctors whether it is mere preaching or faith that makes men sons of God, [etc.]

From this it is abundantly evident that the quotation from Calvin by Kuiper does not teach any manner of common grace, nor any well-meant offer of grace and salvation to all that hear the external calling.

It is grace only for the elect.




[Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 37, no. 13 (1 April, 1961)]

I will adduce a few more passages which Dr. Kuiper quotes to show that Calvin also taught a well-meant offer of salvation to all that hear the gospel preached unto them. First, there is a quotation from Calvin's Institutes, Book III, 24, 15:

Experience shows God so wills the repentance of those whom He invites unto Himself, that He does not touch the hearts of all those who are called. Still it cannot be said on this account that He acts deceitfully, for though the external Word only renders those, who hear it and do not obey it, inexcusable, it is still regarded as a testimony of God’s grace by which testimony He reconciles men to Himself. Let us therefore bear in mind the doctrine of the prophet that God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, in order that the godly may feel confident God is ready to pardon them as soon as they repent and that the wicked may feel that their guilt is doubled, when they do not respond to so great clemency and willingness on the part of God.

Thus far the quotation.

Now, in the first place, I cannot see in this passage from Calvin’s Institutes any common grace nor any well-meant offer of grace and salvation to all that hear the preaching of the gospel. What does Calvin teach here? He is explaining here the text in Ezek. 18:23. And he teaches: a. That the external call comes to all that hear. b. That this external calling is not accompanied in all by the internal call to repentance and faith: “He does not touch the hearts of all those who are called.” c. That this does not mean that God acts deceitfully, for the preaching of the gospel, even though the wicked do not profit by it, seeing that He does not touch the hearts of all the hearers, is nevertheless a testimony of the grace of God, and this testimony comes also to those that do not repent. d. That the godly, through the preaching of the gospel, may know that God is ready to pardon as soon as they repent. e. That the wicked may feel that their guilt is doubled when they do not respond to the testimony of the grace of God.

In all this I cannot discern any common grace or well-meant offer on the part of God to all men.

In the second place, this is also plain from the context. I will quote only the immediate context:

How comes it, then, that if God would have all to be saved, he does not open a door for repentance for the wretched, who would more readily have received grace. Hence we may see that the passage is violently wrested, if the will of God, which the prophet mentions, is opposed to his eternal counsel, by which he separated the elect from the reprobate. Now, if the genuine meaning of the prophet is enquired into, it will be found that he only means to give the hope of pardon to them who repent. The sum is, that God is undoubtedly ready to pardon whenever the sinner turns. Therefore, he does not will his death, in so far as he wills repentance. 

And in the context which follows the passage which Kuiper quotes (and I do not understand why he himself does not quote it) Calvin writes:

The mercy of God, therefore, will ever be ready to meet the penitent; but all the prophets, and apostles, and Ezekiel himself, clearly tell us who they are to whom repentance is given.

Let us consider one more quotation made by Kuiper from the Institutes of Calvin:

But why does He mention all men? God does this in order that the consciences of the godly may rest more secure … and that the ungodly may not pretend that they have no asylum to which they may flee, from the bondage of sin, while they ungratefully reject the asylum which is offered them.

This passage is part of an explanation which Calvin offers of the texts in II Tim. 2:4 and II Peter 3:9.

Let us remember that when Calvin uses the term “offer” it simply means “to present.” If we bear this in mind, there is nothing in the quotation which Kuiper makes of Calvin to which we cannot subscribe. To be sure, in the preaching of the gospel, an asylum is presented to the ungodly as well as to the godly, though the wicked reprobate always ungratefully reject it.

Moreover, it is not true that Calvin allows that there is, any contradiction between the immutable decree of election and reprobation and the general preaching of the promise of the gospel and of the presentation of the salvation of God to all without distinction. Always he emphatically denies that there are two contradictory wills in God, the will of His decree and the will of His command. It is exactly this which Calvin tries to make plain in the context of the passages which are quoted by Kuiper.

This is true also of the last quotation of Calvin by Kuiper which we are now discussing. In the immediate context of this passage we read:

But if it is so (you will say), little faith can be put in the Gospel promises, which, in testifying concerning the will of God, declare that he wills what is contrary to his inviolable decree. Not at all; for however universal the promises of salvation may be, there is no discrepancy between them and the predestination of the reprobate, provided we attend to their effect. We know that the promises are effectual only when we receive them in faith, but, on the contrary, when faith is made void, the promise is of no effect. If this is the nature of the promises, let us now see whether there is any inconsistency between the two things
viz. that God, by an eternal decree, fixed the number of those whom he is pleased to embrace in love, and on whom he is pleased to display his wrath, and that he offers salvation indiscriminately to all. I hold that they are perfectly consistent, for all that is meant by the promise is, just that his mercy is offered to all who desire and implore it, and this none do, save those whom he has enlightened. Moreover, he enlightens those whom he has predestinated to salvation. Thus the truth of the promises remains firm and unshaken, so that it cannot be said that there is any disagreement between the eternal election of God and the testimony of his grace which he offers to believers …

Here follows the quotation made by Kuiper. After this, in the same paragraph, there still follow the following sentences:

Therefore, since by the Gospel the mercy of God is offered to both, it is faith, in other words, the illumination of God, which distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked; the former feeling the efficacy of the Gospel, the latter obtaining no benefit from it. Illumination itself has eternal election for its rule.

Thus Calvin explains the apparent contradiction between the general preaching of the Gospel and the eternal decree of election and reprobation.

But where, in Calvin, is the offer of grace and salvation, well-meant on the part of God? And that, for all that hear the preaching of the Gospel?

The only possible answer to these questions is that Calvin nowhere teaches anything of the kind.

In fact, everywhere he teaches the very opposite. I emphatically state this in opposition to all the quotations which Kuiper adduces from Calvin and which, as I have shown, are taken out of their context.

For the rest, I will not further investigate into the rest of the quotations which Kuiper makes from Calvin’s works. 

I will rather conclude by making some quotations from Calvin of my own and that, too, all from the work which is probably not so generally known, namely, from Calvin’s Calvinism.

Most of this work is written against those who deny divine predestination and the sovereign grace of God, and especially against Pighius, the heretic.

In answer to the contention of the latter that Adam could not have fallen according to the counsel and will of God, Calvin writes:

What we maintain is this: that man was so created, and placed in such a condition, that he could have no cause whatever of complaint against his Maker. God foresaw the Fall of Adam, and most certainly His suffering him to fall was not contrary to, but according to His divine will. What room is there for shuffling or quibbling here? and what does such quibbling profit or effect? Yet Pighius denies the truth of this position, because (he argues) the before conceived counsel of God concerning the salvation of all men still stands unaltered. As if no solution of this pretended difficulty could be found. The truth of the matter is, that salvation was not offered to all men on any other ground than on the condition of their remaining in their original innocence. For that the decree of God concerning the salvation of all men was decisive and absolute, no one of a sound mind will hold or concede. For when man was placed in a way of salvation, his having willingly fallen there from was sufficient ground for his just condemnation. But it could not be otherwise. Adam could not but fall, according to the foreknowledge and will of God. What then? Is Adam on that account free from fault? Certainly not. He fell by his own full free will, and by his own willing act. (pp. 92, 93)

I make this quotation only because it teaches that the fall of man was decreed by the counsel of God. There was no other will or decree of God. And the fall of Adam was absolutely necessary for the coming of Christ. To ask what would have happened if Adam had not fallen is, to my mind, nothing but pure philosophy, not only because this is contrary to the decree of God, but also because this stands in opposition to actual history.

In reply to Pighius, Calvin further writes:

That the Gospel is, in its nature, able to save all I by no means deny. But the great question lies here: Did the Lord by his eternal counsel ordain salvation for all men? It is quite manifest that all men, without difference or distinction, are outwardly called or invited to repentance and faith. It is equally evident that the same Mediator is set forth before all, as He alone can reconcile them to the Father. But it is as fully well known that none of these things can be understood or perceived but by faith, in fulfillment of the apostle’s declaration, that “the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”; then what can it be to others but “the savor of death unto death”? as the same apostle elsewhere powerfully expresses himself.

And further, as it is undeniably manifest that out of the multitudes whom God calls by His outward voice in the Gospel very few believe, if I prove that the greater part of these multitudes remain unbelieving (for God deems none worthy of His illumination but whom He will), I obtain thereby the next conclusion, that the mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not divinely taught within are only rendered inexcusable, not saved. Some make a distinction here, holding that the Gospel is saving to all as it regards its power to save, but not in its effect of saving, But they by no means untie the knot by this half-way argument. We are still rolled back to the same great question point, whether the same power to believe is conferred upon all men! …

Then Calvin refers to the reason why all do not believe. He does so, first, by a reference to Isaiah as quoted by Paul in Rom. 10:16. Then by a quotation from the book of Acts, and now we quote Calvin again:

Of this fact Luke places before our eyes a memorable proof, who, after he had recorded the sermon preached by Paul (Acts 13:48), says, “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Now, why was not the same doctrine of Paul received with the same mind and heart by all who heard it? Luke assigns the reason and defines the number of the receivers: “And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” The rest did not believe because they were not ordained to eternal life. And who is the giver of this disposition of heart but God alone?

I could make many more quotations of Calvin from the book Calvin's Calvinism for the whole book is simply full of the same sentiment.

Never, no not once, does Calvin teach that the preaching of the gospel is grace for all that hear.

Never, no not once, does Calvin speak of a well-meant offer, on the part of God, to all that hear the preaching.

And those that preach this, nevertheless, are certainly not Reformed, but preach heresy. They camouflage the doctrine of predestination, election and reprobation.


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