(Calvin, Institutes on the Christian Religion 1, part 8)

Chapter 8 
8. The credibility of Scripture sufficiently proved in so far as 
natural reason admits. 
    This chapter consists of four parts. The first contains certain 
general proofs which may be easily gathered out of the writings both 
of the Old and New Testament, viz., the arrangement of the sacred 
volume, its dignity, truth, simplicity, efficacy, and majesty, see. 
1, 2. The second part contains special proofs taken from the Old 
Testament, viz., the antiquity of the books of Moses, their 
authority, his miracles and prophecies, see. 3-7; also, the 
predictions of the other prophets and their wondrous harmony, see. 
8. There is subjoined a refutation of two objections to the books of 
Moses and the Prophets, see. 9, 10. The third part exhibits proofs 
gathered out of the New Testament, e. g., the harmony of the 
Evangelists in their account of heavenly mysteries, the majesty of 
the writings of John, Peter, and Paul, the remarkable calling of the 
Apostles and conversion of Paul, see. 11. The last part exhibits the 
proofs drawn from ecclesiastical history, the perpetual consent of 
the Church in receiving and preserving divine truth, the invincible 
force of the truth in defending itself, the agreement of the godly, 
(though otherwise differing so much from one another,) the pious 
profession of the same doctrine by many illustrious men; in fine, 
the more than human constancy of the martyrs, see. 12, 13. This is 
followed by a conclusion of the particular topic discussed. 
1. Secondary helps to establish the credibility of Scripture. I. The 
    arrangement of the sacred volume. II. Its dignity. III. Its 
    truth. IV. Its simplicity. V. Its efficacy. 
2. The majesty conspicuous in the writings of the Prophets. 
3. Special proofs from the Old Testament. I. The antiquity of the 
    Books of Moses. 
4. This antiquity contrasted with the dreams of the Egyptians. II. 
    The majesty of the Books of Moses. 
5. The miracles and prophecies of Moses. A profane objection 
6. Another profane objection refuted. 
7. The prophecies of Moses as to the sceptre not departing from 
    Judah, and the calling of the Gentiles. 
8. The predictions of other prophets. The destruction of Jerusalem; 
    and the return from the Babylonish captivity. Harmony of the 
    Prophets. The celebrated prophecy of Daniel. 
9. Objection against Moses and the Prophets. Answer to it. 
10. Another objection and answer. Of the wondrous Providence of God 
    in the preservation of the sacred books. The Greek Translation. 
    The carefulness of the Jews. 
11. Special proofs from the New Testament. I. The harmony of the 
    Evangelists, and the sublime simplicity of their writings. II. 
    The majesty of John, Paul, and Peter. III. The calling of the 
    Apostles. IV. The conversion of Paul. 
12. Proofs from Church history. I. Perpetual consent of the Church 
    in receiving and preserving the truth. II. The invincible power 
    of the truth itself. III. Agreement among the godly, not 
    withstanding of their many differences in other respects. 
13. The constancy of the martyrs. Conclusion. Proofs of this 
    description only of use after the certainty of Scripture has 
    been established in the heart by the Holy Spirit. 
    1. In vain were the authority of Scripture fortified by 
argument, or supported by the consent of the Church, or confirmed by 
any other helps, if unaccompanied by an assurance higher and 
stronger than human judgement can give. Till this better foundation 
has been laid, the authority of Scripture remains in suspense. On 
the other hand, when recognising its exemption from the common rule, 
we receive it reverently, and according to its dignity, those proofs 
which were not so strong as to produce and rivet a full conviction 
in our minds, become most appropriate helps. For it is wonderful how 
much we are confirmed in our belief, when we more attentively 
consider how admirably the system of divine wisdom contained in it 
is arranged - how perfectly free the doctrine is from every thing 
that savours of earth - how beautifully it harmonises in all its 
parts - and how rich it is in all the other qualities which give an 
air of majesty to composition. Our hearts are still more firmly 
assured when we reflect that our admiration is elicited more by the 
dignity of the matter than by the graces of style. For it was not 
without an admirable arrangement of Providence, that the sublime 
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven have for the greater part been 
delivered with a contemptible meanness of words. Had they been 
adorned with a more splendid eloquence, the wicked might have 
cavilled, and alleged that this constituted all their force. But 
now, when an unpolished simplicity, almost bordering on rudeness, 
makes a deeper impression than the loftiest flights of oratory, what 
does it indicate if not that the Holy Scriptures are too mighty in 
the power of truth to need the rhetorician's art? 
    Hence there was good ground for the Apostle's declaration, that 
the faith of the Corinthians was founded not on "the wisdom of men," 
but on "the power of God," (1 Cor. 2: 5,) this speech and preaching 
among them having been "not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but 
in demonstration of the Spirit and of power," (1 Cor. 2: 5.) For the 
truth is vindicated in opposition to every doubt, when, unsupported 
by foreign aid, it has its sole sufficiency in itself. How 
peculiarly this property belongs to Scripture appears from this, 
that no human writings, however skilfully composed, are at all 
capable of affecting us in a similar way. Read Demosthenes or 
Cicero, read Plato, Aristotle, or any other of that class: you will, 
I admit, feel wonderfully allured, pleased, moved, enchanted; but 
turn from them to the reading of the Sacred Volume, and whether you 
will or not, it will so affect you, so pierce your heart, so work 
its way into your very marrow, that, in comparison of the impression 
so produced, that of orators and philosophers will almost disappear; 
making it manifest that in the Sacred Volume there is a truth 
divine, a something which makes it immeasurably superior to all the 
gifts and graces attainable by man. 
    2. I confess, however, that in elegance and beauty, nay, 
splendour, the style of some of the prophets is not surpassed by the 
eloquence of heathen writers. By examples of this description, the 
Holy Spirit was pleased to show that it was not from want of 
eloquence he in other instances used a rude and homely style. But 
whether you read David, Isaiah, and others of the same class, whose 
discourse flows sweet and pleasant; or Amos the herdsman, Jeremiah, 
and Zechariah, whose rougher idiom savours of rusticity; that 
majesty of the Spirit to which I adverted appears conspicuous in 
all. I am not unaware, that as Satan often apes God, that he may by 
a fallacious resemblance the better insinuate himself into the minds 
of the simple, so he craftily disseminated the impious errors with 
which he deceived miserable men in an uncouth and semi-barbarous 
style, and frequently employed obsolete forms of expression in order 
to cloak his impostures. None possessed of any moderate share of 
sense need be told how vain and vile such affectation is. But in 
regard to the Holy Scriptures, however petulant men may attempt to 
carp at them, they are replete with sentiments which it is clear 
that man never could have conceived. Let each of the prophets be 
examined, and not one will be found who does not rise far higher 
than human reach. Those who feel their works insipid must be 
absolutely devoid of taste. 
    3. As this subject has been treated at large by others, it will 
be sufficient here merely to touch on its leading points. In 
addition to the qualities already mentioned, great weight is due to 
the antiquity of Scripture, (Euseb. Prepar. Evang. lib. 2 c. 1.) 
Whatever fables Greek writers may retail concerning the Egyptian 
Theology, no monument of any religion exists which is not long 
posterior to the age of Moses. But Moses does not introduce a new 
Deity. He only sets forth that doctrine concerning the eternal God 
which the Israelites had received by tradition from their fathers, 
by whom it had been transmitted, as it were, from hand to hand, 
during a long series of ages. For what else does he do than lead 
them back to the covenant which had been made with Abraham? Had he 
referred to matters of which they had never heard, he never could 
have succeeded; but their deliverance from the bondage in which they 
were held must have been a fact of familiar and universal notoriety, 
the very mention of which must have immediately aroused the 
attention of all. It is, moreover, probable, that they were 
intimately acquainted with the whole period of four hundred years. 
Now, if Moses (who is so much earlier than all other writers) traces 
the tradition of his doctrine from so remote a period, it is obvious 
how far the Holy Scriptures must in point of antiquity surpass all 
other writings. 
    4. Some perhaps may choose to credit the Egyptians in carrying 
back their antiquity to a period of six thousand years before the 
world was created. But their garrulity, which even some profane 
authors have held up to derision, it cannot be necessary for me to 
refute. Josephus, however, in his work against Appion, produces 
important passages from very ancient writers, implying that the 
doctrine delivered in the law was celebrated among all nations from 
the remotest ages, though it was neither read nor accurately known. 
And then, in order that the malignant might have no ground for 
suspicion, and the ungodly no handle for cavil, God has provided, in 
the most effectual manner, against both dangers. When Moses relates 
the words which Jacob, under Divine inspiration, uttered concerning 
his posterity almost three hundred years before, how does he ennoble 
his own tribe? He stigmatises it with eternal infamy in the person 
of Levi. "Simon and Levi," says he, "are brethren; instruments of 
cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into 
their secret; unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united," 
(Gen. 49: 5, 6.) This stigma he certainly might have passed in 
silence, not only that he might spare his own ancestor, but also 
save both himself and his whole family from a portion of the 
disgrace. How can any suspicion attach to him, who, by voluntarily 
proclaiming that the first founder of his family was declared 
detestable by a Divine oracle, neither consults for his own private 
interest, nor declines to incur obloquy among his tribe, who must 
have been offended by his statement of the fact? Again, when he 
relates the wicked murmuring of his brother Aaron, and his sister 
Miriam, (Numb. 12: 1,) shall we say that he spoke his own natural 
feelings, or that he obeyed the command of the Holy Spirit? 
Moreover, when invested with supreme authority, why does he not 
bestow the office of High Priest on his sons, instead of consigning 
them to the lowest place? I only touch on a few points out of many; 
but the Law itself contains throughout numerous proofs, which fully 
vindicate the credibility of Moses, and place it beyond dispute, 
that he was in truth a messenger sent forth from God. 
    5. The many striking miracles which Moses relates are so many 
sanctions of the law delivered, and the doctrine propounded, by him. 
His being carried up into the mount in a cloud; his remaining there 
forty days separated from human society; his countenance glistening 
during the promulgation of the law, as with meridian effulgence; the 
lightnings which flashed on every side; the voices and thunderings 
which echoed in the air; the clang of the trumpet blown by no human 
mouth; his entrance into the tabernacle, while a cloud hid him from 
the view of the people; the miraculous vindication of his authority, 
by the fearful destruction of Korah, Nathan, and Abiram, and all 
their impious faction; the stream instantly gushing forth from the 
rock when struck with his rod; the manna which rained from heaven at 
his prayer; - did not God by all these proclaim aloud that he was an 
undoubted prophet? If any one object that I am taking debatable 
points for granted, the cavil is easily answered. Moses published 
all these things in the assembly of the people. How, then, could he 
possibly impose on the very eye-witnesses of what was done? Is it 
conceivable that he would have come forward, and, while accusing the 
people of unbelief, obstinacy, ingratitude, and other crimes, have 
boasted that his doctrine had been confirmed in their own presence 
by miracles which they never saw? 
    6. For it is also worthy of remark, that the miracles which he 
relates are combined with disagreeable circumstances, which must 
have provoked opposition from the whole body of the people, if there 
had been the smallest ground for it. Hence it is obvious that they 
were induced to assent, merely because they had been previously 
convinced by their own experience. But because the fact was too 
clear to leave it free for heathen writers to deny that Moses did 
perform miracles, the father of lies suggested a calumny, and 
ascribed them to magic, (Exod. 9: 11.) But with what probability is 
a charge of magic brought against him, who held it in such 
abhorrence, that he ordered every one who should consult soothsayers 
and magicians to be stoned? (Lev. 30: 6.) Assuredly, no impostor 
deals in tricks, without studying to raise his reputation by amazing 
the common people. But what does Moses do? By crying out, that he 
and Aaron his brother are nothing, (Exod. 16: 7,) that they merely 
execute what God has commanded, he clears himself from every 
approach to suspicion. Again, if the facts are considered in 
themselves, what kind of incantation could cause manna to rain from 
heaven every day, and in sufficient quantity to maintain a people, 
while any one, who gathered more than the appointed measure, saw his 
incredulity divinely punished by its turning to worms? To this we 
may add, that God then suffered his servant to be subjected to so 
many serious trials, that the ungodly cannot now gain anything by 
their glamour. When (as often happened) the people proudly and 
petulantly rose up against him, when individuals conspired, and 
attempted to overthrow him, how could any impostures have enabled 
him to elude their rage? The event plainly shows that by these means 
his doctrine was attested to all succeeding ages. 
    7. Moreover, it is impossible to deny that he was guided by a 
prophetic spirit in assigning the first place to the tribe of Judah 
in the person of Jacob, especially if we take into view the fact 
itself, as explained by the event. Suppose that Moses was the 
inventor of the prophecy, still, after he committed it to writing, 
four hundred years pass away, during which no mention is made of a 
sceptre in the tribe of Judah. After Saul is anointed, the kingly 
office seems fixed in the tribe of Benjamin, (1 Sam. 11: 15; 16: 
13.) When David is anointed by Samuel, what apparent ground is there 
for the transference? Who could have looked for a king out of the 
plebeian family of a herdsman? And out of seven brothers, who could 
have thought that the honour was destined for the youngest? And then 
by what means did he afterwards come within reach of the throne? Who 
dare say that his anointing was regulated by human art, or skill, or 
prudence, and was not rather the fulfilment of a divine prophecy? In 
like manner, do not the predictions, though obscure, of the 
admission of the Gentiles into the divine covenant, seeing they were 
not fulfilled till almost two thousand years after, make it palpable 
that Moses spoke under divine inspiration? I omit other predictions 
which so plainly betoken divine revelation, that all men of sound 
mind must see they were spoken by God. In short, his Song itself 
(Deut. 32) is a bright mirror in which God is manifestly seen. 
    8. In the case of the other prophets the evidence is even 
clearer. I will only select a few examples, for it were too tedious 
to enumerate the whole. Isaiah, in his own day, when the kingdom of 
Judah was at peace, and had even some ground to confide in the 
protection of the Chaldeans, spoke of the destruction of the city 
and the captivity of the people, (Isaiah 55: 1.) Supposing it not to 
be sufficient evidence of divine inspiration to foretell, many years 
before, events which, at the time, seemed fabulous, but which 
ultimately turned out to be true, whence shall it be said that the 
prophecies which he uttered concerning their return proceeded, if it 
was not from God? He names Cyrus, by whom the Chaldeans were to be 
subdued and the people restored to freedom. After the prophet thus 
spoke, more than a hundred years elapsed before Cyrus was born, that 
being nearly the period which elapsed between the death of the one 
and the birth of the other. It was impossible at that time to guess 
that some Cyrus would arise to make war on the Babylonians, and 
after subduing their powerful monarchy, put an end to the captivity 
of the children of Israel. Does not this simple, unadorned narrative 
plainly demonstrate that what Isaiah spoke was not the conjecture of 
man, but the undoubted oracle of God? Again, when Jeremiah, a 
considerable time before the people were led away, assigned seventy 
years as the period of captivity, and fixed their liberation and 
return, must not his tongue have been guided by the Spirit of God? 
What effrontery were it to deny that, by these evidences, the 
authority of the prophets is established, the very thing being 
fulfilled to which they appeal in support of their credibility! 
"Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I 
declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them," (Isaiah 42: 
9.) I say nothing of the agreement between Jeremiah and Ezekiel, 
who, living so far apart, and yet prophesying at the same time, 
harmonise as completely in all they say as if they had mutually 
dictated the words to one another. What shall I say of Daniel? Did 
not he deliver prophecies embracing a future period of almost six 
hundred years, as if he had been writing of past events generally 
known? (Dan. 9, &c.) If the pious will duly meditate on these 
things, they will be sufficiently instructed to silence the cavils 
of the ungodly. The demonstration is too clear to be gainsaid. 
    9. I am aware of what is muttered in corners by certain 
miscreants, when they would display their acuteness in assailing 
divine truth. They ask, how do we know that Moses and the prophets 
wrote the books which now bear their names? Nay, they even dare to 
question whether there ever was a Moses. Were any one to question 
whether there ever was a Plato, or an Aristotle, or a Cicero, would 
not the rod or the whip be deemed the fit chastisement of such 
folly? The law of Moses has been wonderfully preserved, more by 
divine providence than by human care; and though, owing to the 
negligence of the priests, it lay for a short time buried, - from 
the time when it was found by good King Josiah, (2 Kings 22: 8; 2 
Chron. 34: 15,) - it has continued in the hands of men, and been 
transmitted in unbroken succession from generation to generation. 
Nor, indeed, when Josiah brought it forth, was it as a book unknown 
or new, but one which had always been matter of notoriety, and was 
then in full remembrance. The original writing had been deposited in 
the temple, and a copy taken from it had been deposited in the royal 
archives, (Deut. 17: 18, 19;) the only thing which had occurred was, 
that the priests had ceased to publish the law itself in due form, 
and the people also had neglected the wonted reading of it. I may 
add, that scarcely an age passed during which its authority was not 
confirmed and renewed. Were the books of Moses unknown to those who 
had the Psalms of David in their hands? To sum up the whole in one 
word, it is certain beyond dispute, that these writings passed down, 
if I may so express it, from hand to hand, being transmitted in an 
unbroken series from the fathers, who either with their own ears 
heard them spoken, or learned them from those who had, while the 
remembrance of them was fresh. 
    10. An objection taken from the history of the Maccabees (1 
Maccab. 1: 57, 58) to impugn the credibility of Scripture, is, on 
the contrary, fitted the best possible to confirm it. First, 
however, let us clear away the gloss which is put upon it: having 
done so, we shall turn the engine which they erect against us upon 
themselves. As Antiochus ordered all the books of Scripture to be 
burnt, it is asked, where did the copies we now have come from? I, 
in my turn, ask, In what workshop could they have been so quickly 
fabricated? It is certain that they were in existence the moment the 
persecution ceased, and that they were acknowledged without dispute 
by all the pious who had been educated in their doctrine, and were 
familiarly acquainted with them. Nay, while all the wicked so 
wantonly insulted the Jews as if they had leagued together for the 
purpose, not one ever dared to charge them with having introduced 
spurious books. Whatever, in their opinion, the Jewish religion 
might be, they acknowledged that Moses was the founder of it. What, 
then, do those babblers, but betray their snarling petulance in 
falsely alleging the spuriousness of books whose sacred antiquity is 
proved by the consent of all history? But not to spend labour in 
vain in refuting these vile calumnies, let us rather attend to the 
care which the Lord took to preserve his Word, when against all hope 
he rescued it from the truculence of a most cruel tyrant as from the 
midst of the flames - inspiring pious priests and others with such 
constancy that they hesitated not, though it should have been 
purchased at the expense of their lives, to transmit this treasure 
to posterity, and defeating the keenest search of prefects and their 
    Who does not recognise it as a signal and miraculous work of 
God, that those sacred monuments which the ungodly persuaded 
themselves had utterly perished, immediately returned to resume 
their former rights, and, indeed, in greater honour? For the Greek 
translation appeared to disseminate them over the whole world. Nor 
does it seem so wonderful that God rescued the tables of his 
covenant from the sanguinary edicts of Antiochus, as that they 
remained safe and entire amid the manifold disasters by which the 
Jewish nation was occasionally crushed, devastated, and almost 
exterminated. The Hebrew language was in no estimation, and almost 
unknown; and assuredly, had not God provided for religion, it must 
have utterly perished. For it is obvious from the prophetical 
writings of that age, how much the Jews, after their return from the 
captivity, had lost the genuine use of their native tongue. It is of 
importance to attend to this, because the comparison more clearly 
establishes the antiquity of the Law and the Prophets. And whom did 
God employ to preserve the doctrine of salvation contained in the 
Law and the Prophets, that Christ might manifest it in its own time? 
The Jews, the bitterest enemies of Christ; and hence Augustine 
justly calls them the librarians of the Christian Church, because 
they supplied us with books of which they themselves had not the 
    11. When we proceed to the New Testament, how solid are the 
pillars by which its truth is supported! Three evangelists give a 
narrative in a mean and humble style. The proud often eye this 
simplicity with disdain, because they attend not to the principal 
heads of doctrine; for from these they might easily infer that these 
evangelists treat of heavenly mysteries beyond the capacity of man. 
Those who have the least particle of candour must be ashamed of 
their fastidiousness when they read the first chapter of Luke. Even 
our Saviour's discourses, of which a summary is given by these three 
evangelists, ought to prevent every one from treating their writings 
with contempt. John, again, fulminating in majesty, strikes down 
more powerfully than any thunderbolt the petulance of those who 
refuse to submit to the obedience of faith. Let all those acute 
censors, whose highest pleasure it is to banish a reverential regard 
of Scripture from their own and other men's hearts, come forward; 
let them read the Gospel of John, and, willing or unwilling, they 
will find a thousand sentences which will at least arouse them from 
their sloth; nay, which will burn into their consciences as with a 
hot iron, and check their derision. The same thing may be said of 
Peter and Paul, whose writings, though the greater part read them 
blindfold, exhibit a heavenly majesty, which in a manner binds and 
rivets every reader. But one circumstance, sufficient of itself to 
exalt their doctrine above the world, is, that Matthew, who was 
formerly fixed down to his money-table, Peter and John, who were 
employed with their little boats, being all rude and illiterate, had 
never learned in any human school that which they delivered to 
others. Paul, moreover, who had not only been an avowed but a cruel 
and bloody foe, being changed into a new man, shows, by the sudden 
and unhoped-for change, that a heavenly power had compelled him to 
preach the doctrine which once he destroyed. Let those dogs deny 
that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, or, if not, let 
them refuse credit to the history, still the very circumstances 
proclaim that the Holy Spirit must have been the teacher of those 
who, formerly contemptible among the people, all of a sudden began 
to discourse so magnificently of heavenly mysteries. 
    12. Add, moreover, that, for the best of reasons, the consent 
of the Church is not without its weight. For it is not to be 
accounted of no consequence, that, from the first publication of 
Scripture, so many ages have uniformly concurred in yielding 
obedience to it, and that, notwithstanding of the many extraordinary 
attempts which Satan and the whole world have made to oppress and 
overthrow it, or completely efface it from the memory of men, it has 
flourished like the palm tree and continued invincible. Though in 
old times there was scarcely a sophist or orator of any note who did 
not exert his powers against it, their efforts proved unavailing. 
The powers of the earth armed themselves for its destruction, but 
all their attempts vanished into smoke. When thus powerfully 
assailed on every side, how could it have resisted if it had trusted 
only to human aid? Nay, its divine origin is more completely 
established by the fact, that when all human wishes were against it, 
it advanced by its own energy. Add that it was not a single city or 
a single nation that concurred in receiving and embracing it. Its 
authority was recognised as far and as wide as the world extends - 
various nations who had nothing else in common entering for this 
purpose into a holy league. Moreover, while we ought to attach the 
greatest weight to the agreement of minds so diversified, and in all 
other things so much at variance with each other - an agreement 
which a Divine Providence alone could have produced - it adds no 
small weight to the whole when we attend to the piety of those who 
thus agree; not of all of them indeed, but of those in whom as 
lights God was pleased that his Church should shine. 
    13. Again, with what confidence does it become us to subscribe 
to a doctrine attested and confirmed by the blood of so many saints? 
They, when once they had embraced it, hesitated not boldly and 
intrepidly, and even with great alacrity, to meet death in its 
defence. Being transmitted to us with such an earnest, who of us 
shall not receive it with firm and unshaken conviction? It is 
therefore no small proof of the authority of Scripture, that it was 
sealed with the blood of so many witnesses, especially when it is 
considered that in bearing testimony to the faith, they met death 
not with fanatical enthusiasm, (as erring spirits are sometimes wont 
to do,) but with a firm and constant, yet sober godly zeal. There 
are other reasons, neither few nor feeble, by which the dignity and 
majesty of the Scriptures may be not only proved to the pious, but 
also completely vindicated against the cavils of slanderers. These, 
however, cannot of themselves produce a firm faith in Scripture 
until our heavenly Father manifest his presence in it, and thereby 
secure implicit reverence for it. Then only, therefore, does 
Scripture suffice to give a saving knowledge of God when its 
certainty is founded on the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. 
Still the human testimonies which go to confirm it will not be 
without effect, if they are used in subordination to that chief and 
highest proof, as secondary helps to our weakness. But it is foolish 
to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of 
God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith. Justly, 
therefore, does Augustine remind us, that every man who would have 
any understanding in such high matters must previously possess piety 
and mental peace. 
Chapter 9 
9. All the principles of piety subverted by fanatics, who substitute 
revelations for Scripture. 
1. The temper and error of the Libertines, who take to themselves 
    the name of spiritual, briefly described. Their refutation. 1. 
    The Apostles and all true Christians have embraced the written 
    Word. This confirmed by a passage in Isaiah; also by the 
    example and words of Paul. 2. The Spirit of Christ seals the 
    doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly. 
2. Refutation continued. 3. The impositions of Satan cannot be 
    detected without the aid of the written Word. First Objection. 
    The Answer to it. 
3. Second Objection from the words of Paul as to the letter and 
    spirit. The Answer, with an explanation of Paul's meaning. How 
    the Spirit and the written Word are indissolubly connected. 
    1. Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some 
peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much 
under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy men have 
lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the 
superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures 
themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in 
what they call the dead and deadly letter. But I wish they would 
tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a 
sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as 
mean and childish. If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, 
their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous; since they will, I 
presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the 
primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of 
these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was 
imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly 
testify. And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of 
Isaiah. For when he says, "My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words 
which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, 
nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's 
seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever," he does not tie 
down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere 
teacher of elements; he rather shows that, under the reign of 
Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in 
their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God. 
Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege 
in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union. Add 
to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, 
ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, 
while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular 
excellence, to give attention to reading, (1 Tim. 4: 13.) And the 
eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be 
remembered, viz., that "it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, 
for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man 
of God may be perfect," (2 Tim. 3: 16.) What an infatuation of the 
devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons 
of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use? Again, 
I should like those people to tell me whether they have imbibed any 
other Spirit than that which Christ promised to his disciples. 
Though their madness is extreme, it will scarcely carry them the 
length of making this their boast. But what kind of Spirit did our 
Saviour promise to send? One who should not speak of himself, (John 
16: 13,) but suggest and instil the truths which he himself had 
delivered through the word. Hence the office of the Spirit promised 
to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a 
new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received 
doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine 
which the gospel recommends. 
    2. Hence it is easy to understand that we must give diligent 
heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would 
obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God, (just as Peter praises 
those who attentively study the doctrine of the prophets, (2 Pet. 1: 
19,) though it might have been thought to be superseded after the 
gospel light arose,) and, on the contrary, that any spirit which 
passes by the wisdom of God's Word, and suggests any other doctrine, 
is deservedly suspected of vanity and falsehood. Since Satan 
transforms himself into an angel of light, what authority can the 
Spirit have with us if he be not ascertained by an infallible mark? 
And assuredly he is pointed out to us by the Lord with sufficient 
clearness; but these miserable men err as if bent on their own 
destruction, while they seek the Spirit from themselves rather than 
from Him. But they say that it is insulting to subject the Spirit, 
to whom all things are to be subject, to the Scripture: as if it 
were disgraceful to the Holy Spirit to maintain a perfect 
resemblance throughout, and be in all respects without variation 
consistent with himself. True, if he were subjected to a human, an 
angelical, or to any foreign standard, it might be thought that he 
was rendered subordinate, or, if you will, brought into bondage, but 
so long as he is compared with himself, and considered in himself, 
how can it be said that he is thereby injured? I admit that he is 
brought to a test, but the very test by which it has pleased him 
that his majesty should be confirmed. It ought to be enough for us 
when once we hear his voice; but lest Satan should insinuate himself 
under his name, he wishes us to recognise him by the image which he 
has stamped on the Scriptures. The author of the Scriptures cannot 
vary, and change his likeness. Such as he there appeared at first, 
such he will perpetually remain. There is nothing contumelious to 
him in this, unless we are to think it would be honourable for him 
to degenerate, and revolt against himself. 
    3. Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries 
with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. 
It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles, (2 
Cor. 3: 6,) who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived 
the people of the benefit of the New Covenant, by which the Lord 
engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and 
engrave it on their inward parts. The letter therefore is dead, and 
the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the 
grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the 
heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the 
Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the 
soul, and making wise the simple. Nay, in the very same passage, the 
apostle calls his own preaching the ministration of the Spirit, (2 
Cor. 3: 8,) intimating that the Holy Spirit so cleaves to his own 
truth, as he has expressed it in Scripture, that he then only exerts 
and puts forth his strength when the word is received with due 
honour and respect. 
    There is nothing repugnant here to what was lately said, (chap. 
7) that we have no great certainty of the word itself, until it be 
confirmed by the testimony of the Spirit. For the Lord has so knit 
together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds 
are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining 
upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the 
other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we 
recognise him in his image, that is, in his word. Thus, indeed, it 
is. God did not produce his word before men for the sake of sudden 
display, intending to abolish it the moment the Spirit should 
arrive; but he employed the same Spirit, by whose agency he had 
administered the word, to complete his work by the efficacious 
confirmation of the word. In this way Christ explained to the two 
disciples, (Luke 24: 27,) not that they were to reject the 
Scriptures and trust to their own wisdom, but that they were to 
understand the Scriptures. In like manner, when Paul says to the 
Thessalonians, "Quench not the Spirit," he does not carry them aloft 
to empty speculation apart from the word; he immediately adds, 
"Despise not prophesying," (1 Thess. 5: 19, 20.) By this, doubtless, 
he intimates that the light of the Spirit is quenched the moment 
prophesying fall into contempt. How is this answered by those 
swelling enthusiasts, in whose idea the only true illumination 
consists, in carelessly laying aside, and bidding adieu to the Word 
of God, while, with no less confidence than folly, they fasten upon 
any dreaming notion which may have casually sprung up in their 
minds? Surely a very different sobriety becomes the children of God. 
As they feel that without the Spirit of God they are utterly devoid 
of the light of truth, so they are not ignorant that the word is the 
instrument by which the illumination of the Spirit is dispensed. 
They know of no other Spirit than the one who dwelt and spake in the 
apostles--the Spirit by whose oracles they are daily invited to the 
hearing of the word. 

Calvin, Institutes on the Christian Religion, Volume 1
(continued in part 9...)

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