Calvin, Institutes, Vol.2, Part 17
(... continued from part 16) 

Chapter 16. 
16. How Christ performed the office of Redeemer in procuring our 
salvation. The death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. 
    This chapter contains four leading heads - I. A general 
consideration of the whole subject, including a discussion of a 
necessary question concerning the justice of God and his mercy in 
Christ, sec. 1-4. II. How Christ fulfilled the office of Redeemer in 
each of its parts, sec. 5-17. His death, burial, descent to hell, 
resurrection, ascension to heaven, seat at the right hand of the 
Father, and return to judgement. III. A great part of the Creed 
being here expounded, a statement is given of the view which ought 
to be taken of the Creed commonly ascribed to the Apostles, sec. 18. 
IV. Conclusion, setting forth the doctrine of Christ the Redeemer, 
and the use of the doctrine, sec. 19. 
1. Every thing needful for us exists in Christ. How it is to be 
2. Question as to the mode of reconciling the justice with the mercy 
    of God. Modes of expression used in Scripture to teach us how 
    miserable our condition is without Christ. 
3. Not used improperly; for God finds in us ground both of hatred 
    and love. 
4. This confirmed from passages of Scripture and from Augustine. 
5. The second part of the chapter, treating of our redemption by 
    Christ. First generally. Redemption extends to the whole course 
    of our Saviour's obedience, but is specially ascribed to his 
    death. The voluntary subjection of Christ. His agony. His 
    condemnation before Pilate. Two things observable in his 
    condemnation. 1. That he was numbered among transgressors. 2. 
    That he was declared innocent by the judge. Use to be made of 
6. Why Christ was crucified. This hidden doctrine typified in the 
    Law, and completed by the Apostles and Prophets. In what sense 
    Christ was made a curse for us. The cross of Christ connected 
    with the shedding of his blood. 
7. Of the death of Christ. Why he died. Advantages from his death. 
    Of the burial of Christ. Advantages. 
8. Of the descent into hell. This article gradually introduced into 
    the Church. Must not be rejected, nor confounded with the 
    previous article respecting burial. 
9. Absurd exposition concerning the Limbus Patrum. This fable 
10. The article of the descent to hell more accurately expounded. A 
    great ground of comfort. 
11. Confirmation of this exposition from passages of Scripture and 
    the works of ancient Theologians. An objection refuted. 
    Advantages of the doctrine. 
12. Another objection that Christ is insulted, and despair ascribed 
    to him in its being said that he feared. Answer, from the 
    statements of the Evangelists, that he did fear, was troubled 
    in spirit, amazed, and tempted in all respects as we are, yet 
    without sin. Why Christ was pleased to become weak. His fear 
    without sin. Refutation of another objection, with an answer to 
    the question, Did Christ fear death, and why? When did Christ 
    descend to hell, and how? What has been said refutes the heresy 
    of Apollinaris and of the Monothelites. 
13. Of the resurrection of Christ. The many advantages from it. 1. 
    Our righteousness in the sight of God renewed and restored. 2. 
    His life the basis of our life and hope, also the efficacious 
    cause of new life in us. 3. The pledge of our future 
14. Of the ascension of Christ. Why he ascended. Advantages derived 
    from it. 
15. Of Christ's seat at the Father's right hand. What meant by it. 
16. Many advantages from the ascension of Christ. 1. He gives access 
    to the kingdom which Adam had shut up. 2. He intercedes for us 
    with the Father. 3. His virtue being thence transfused into us, 
    he works effectually in us for salvation. 
17. Of the return of Christ to judgement. Its nature. The quick and 
    dead who are to be judged. Passages apparently contradictory 
    reconciled. Mode of judgement. 
18. Advantages of the doctrine of Christ's return to judgement. 
    Third part of the chapter, explaining the view to be taken of 
    the Apostles' Creed. Summary of the Apostles' Creed. 
19. Conclusion of the whole chapter, showing that in Christ the 
    salvation of the elect in all its parts is comprehended. 
    1. All that we have hitherto said of Christ leads to this one 
result, that condemned, dead, and lost in ourselves, we must in him 
seek righteousness, deliverance, life and salvation, as we are 
taught by the celebrated words of Peter, "Neither is there salvation 
in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved," (Acts 4: 12.) The name of Jesus was 
not given him at random, or fortuitously, or by the will of man, but 
was brought from heaven by an angel, as the herald of the supreme 
decree; the reason also being added, "for he shall save his people 
from their sins," (Matt. 1: 21.) In these words attention should be 
paid to what we have elsewhere observed, that the office of Redeemer 
was assigned him in order that he might be our Saviour. Still, 
however, redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by 
an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety. Therefore, 
the moment we turn aside from him in the minutest degree, salvation, 
which resides entirely in him, gradually disappears; so that all who 
do not rest in him voluntarily deprive themselves of all grace. The 
observation of Bernard well deserves to be remembered: The name of 
Jesus is not only light but food also, yea, oil, without which all 
the food of the soul is dry; salt, without which as a condiment 
whatever is set before us is insipid; in fine, honey in the mouth, 
melody in the ear, joy in the heart, and, at the same time, 
medicine; every discourse where this name is not heard is absurd, 
(Bernard in Cantica., Serm. 15.) But here it is necessary diligently 
to consider in what way we obtain salvation from him, that we may 
not only be persuaded that he is the author of it, but having 
embraced whatever is sufficient as a sure foundation of our faith, 
may eschew all that might make us waver. For seeing no man can 
descend into himself, and seriously consider what he is, without 
feeling that God is angry and at enmity with him, and therefore 
anxiously longing for the means of regaining his favour, (this 
cannot be without satisfaction,) the certainty here required is of 
no ordinary description, - sinners, until freed from guilt, being 
always liable to the wrath and curse of God, who, as he is a just 
judge, cannot permit his law to be violated with impunity, but is 
armed for vengeance. 
    2. But before we proceed farther, we must see in passing, how 
can it be said that God, who prevents us with his mercy, was our 
enemy until he was reconciled to us by Christ. For how could he have 
given us in his only-begotten Son a singular pledge of his love, if 
he had not previously embraced us with free favour? As there thus 
arises some appearance of contradiction, I will explain the 
difficulty. The mode in which the Spirit usually speaks in Scripture 
is, that God was the enemy of men until they were restored to favour 
by the death of Christ, (Rom. 5: 10;) that they were cursed until 
their iniquity was expiated by the sacrifice of Christ, (Gal. 3: 10, 
13;) that they were separated from God, until by means of Christ's 
body they were received into union, (Col. 1: 21, 22.) Such modes of 
expression are accommodated to our capacity, that we may the better 
understand how miserable and calamitous our condition is without 
Christ. For were it not said in clear terms, that Divine wrath, and 
vengeance, and eternal death, lay upon us, we should be less 
sensible of our wretchedness without the mercy of God, and less 
disposed to value the blessing of deliverance. For example, let a 
person be told, Had God at the time you were a sinner hated you, and 
cast you off as you deserved, horrible destruction must have been 
your doom; but spontaneously and of free indulgence he retained you 
in his favour, not suffering you to be estranged from him, and in 
this way rescued you from danger, - the person will indeed be 
affected, and made sensible in some degree how much he owes to the 
mercy of God. But again, let him be told, as Scripture teaches, that 
he was estranged from God by sin, an heir of wrath, exposed to the 
curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, a 
complete alien from the blessing of God, the slave of Satan, captive 
under the yoke of sin; in fine, doomed to horrible destruction, and 
already involved in it; that then Christ interposed, took the 
punishment upon himself and bore what by the just judgement of God 
was impending over sinners; with his own blood expiated the sins 
which rendered them hateful to God, by this expiation satisfied and 
duly propitiated God the Father, by this intercession appeased his 
anger, on this basis founded peace between God and men, and by this 
tie secured the Divine benevolence toward them; will not these 
considerations move him the more deeply, the more strikingly they 
represent the greatness of the calamity from which he was delivered? 
In short, since our mind cannot lay hold of life through the mercy 
of God with sufficient eagerness, or receive it with becoming 
gratitude, unless previously impressed with fear of the Divine 
anger, and dismayed at the thought of eternal death, we are so 
instructed by divine truth, as to perceive that without Christ God 
is in a manner hostile to us, and has his arm raised for our 
destruction. Thus taught, we look to Christ alone for divine favour 
and paternal love. 
    3. Though this is said in accommodation to the weakness of our 
capacity, it is not said falsely. For God, who is perfect 
righteousness, cannot love the iniquity which he sees in all. All of 
us, therefore, have that within which deserves the hatred of God. 
Hence, in respect, first, of our corrupt nature; and, secondly, of 
the depraved conduct following upon it, we are all offensive to God, 
guilty in his sight, and by nature the children of hell. But as the 
Lord wills not to destroy in us that which is his own, he still 
finds something in us which in kindness he can love. For though it 
is by our own fault that we are sinners, we are still his creatures; 
though we have brought death upon ourselves he had created us for 
life. Thus, mere gratuitous love prompts him to receive us into 
favour. But if there is a perpetual and irreconcilable repugnance 
between righteousness and iniquity, so long as we remain sinners we 
cannot be completely received. Therefore, in order that all ground 
of offence may be removed, and he may completely reconcile us to 
himself, he, by means of the expiation set forth in the death of 
Christ, abolishes all the evil that is in us, so that we, formerly 
impure and unclean, now appear in his sight just and holy. 
Accordingly, God the Father, by his love, prevents and anticipates 
our reconciliation in Christ. Nay, it is because he first loves us, 
that he afterwards reconciles us to himself. But because the 
iniquity, which deserves the indignation of God, remains in us until 
the death of Christ comes to our aid, and that iniquity is in his 
sight accursed and condemned, we are not admitted to full and sure 
communion with God, unless, in so far as Christ unites us. And, 
therefore, if we would indulge the hope of having God placable and 
propitious to us, we must fix our eyes and minds on Christ alone, as 
it is to him alone it is owing that our sins, which necessarily 
provoked the wrath of God, are not imputed to us. 
    4. For this reason Paul says, that God "has blessed us with all 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he 
has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world," (Eph. 1: 
3, 4.) These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and 
admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that "God so 
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," (John 3: 16;) 
and yet that it was "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God 
by the death of his Son," (Rom. 5: 10.) But to give additional 
assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, 
I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: 
"Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not 
after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he 
began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the 
world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God 
before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death 
of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in 
order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that 
we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us 
because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the 
attestation of the Apostle, 'God commendeth his love toward us, in 
that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,' (Rom. 5: 8.) 
Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity 
towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a 
manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he 
hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because 
our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in 
regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love 
what he had made." Such are the words of Augustine, (Tract in Jo. 
    5. When it is asked then how Christ, by abolishing sin, removed 
the enmity between God and us, and purchased a righteousness which 
made him favourable and kind to us, it may be answered generally, 
that he accomplished this by the whole course of his obedience. This 
id proved by the testimony of Paul, "As by one man's disobedience 
many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be 
made righteous," (Rom. 5: 19.) And indeed he elsewhere extends the 
ground of pardon which exempts from the curse of the law to the 
whole life of Christ, "When the fulness of the time was come, God 
sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem 
them that were under the law," (Gal. 4: 4, 5.) Thus even at his 
baptism he declared that a part of righteousness was fulfilled by 
his yielding obedience to the command of the Father. In short, from 
the moment when he assumed the form of a servant, he began, in order 
to redeem us, to pay the price of deliverance. Scripture, however, 
the more certainly to define the mode of salvation, ascribes it 
peculiarly and specially to the death of Christ. He himself declares 
that he gave his life a ransom for many, (Matth. 20: 28.) Paul 
teaches that he died for our sins (Rom. 4: 25.) John Baptist 
exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the 
world," (John 1: 29.) Paul in another passage declares, "that we are 
justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in 
Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through 
faith in his blood," (Rom. 3: 25.) Again, being justified by his 
blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Rom. 5: 9.) Again 
"He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be 
made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Cor. 5: 21.) I will not 
search out all the passages, for the list would be endless, and many 
are afterwards to be quoted in their order. In the Confession of 
Faith, called the Apostles' Creed, the transition is admirably made 
from the birth of Christ to his death and resurrection, in which the 
completion of a perfect salvation consists. Still there is no 
exclusion of the other part of obedience which he performed in life. 
Thus Paul comprehends, from the beginning even to the end, his 
having assumed the form of a servant, humbled himself, and become 
obedient to death, even the death of the cross, (Phil. 2: 7.) And, 
indeed, the first step in obedience was his voluntary subjection; 
for the sacrifice would have been unavailing to justification if not 
offered spontaneously. Hence our Lord, after testifying, "I lay down 
my life for the sheep," distinctly adds, "No man taketh it from me," 
(John 10: 15, 18.) In the same sense Isaiah says, " Like a sheep 
before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," (Is. 53: 
7.) The Gospel History relates that he came forth to meet the 
soldiers; and in presence of Pilate, instead of defending himself, 
stood to receive judgement. This, indeed, he did not without a 
struggle, for he had assumed our infirmities also, and in this way 
it behoved him to prove that he was yielding obedience to his 
Father. It was no ordinary example of incomparable love towards us 
to struggle with dire terrors, and amid fearful tortures to cast 
away all care of himself that he might provide for us. We must bear 
in minds that Christ could not duly propitiate God without 
renouncing his own feelings and subjecting himself entirely to his 
Father's will. To this effect the Apostle appositely quotes a 
passage from the Psalms, "Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it 
is written of me) to do thy will, O God," (Heb. 10: 5; Ps. 40: 7, 
8.) Thus, as trembling consciences find no rest without sacrifice 
and ablution by which sins are expiated, we are properly directed 
thither, the source of our life being placed in the death of Christ. 
Moreover, as the curse consequent upon guilt remained for the final 
judgement of God, one principal point in the narrative is his 
condemnation before Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, to teach 
us, that the punishment to which we were liable was inflicted on 
that Just One. We could not escape the fearful judgement of God; and 
Christ, that he might rescue us from it, submitted to be condemned 
by a mortal, nay, by a wicked and profane man. For the name of 
Governor is mentioned not only to support the credibility of the 
narrative, but to remind us of what Isaiah says, that "the 
chastisement of our peace was upon him;" and that "with his stripes 
we are healed," (Is. 53: 5.) For, in order to remove our 
condemnation, it was not sufficient to endure any kind of death. To 
satisfy our ransom, it was necessary to select a mode of death in 
which he might deliver us, both by giving himself up to 
condemnations and undertaking our expiation. Had he been cut off by 
assassins, or slain in a seditious tumult, there could have been no 
kind of satisfaction in such a death. But when he is placed as a 
criminal at the bar, where witnesses are brought to give evidence 
against him, and the mouth of the judge condemns him to die, we see 
him sustaining the character of an offender and evil-doer. Here we 
must attend to two points which had both been foretold by the 
prophets, and tend admirably to comfort and confirm our faith. When 
we read that Christ was led away from the judgement-seat to 
execution, and was crucified between thieves, we have a fulfilment 
of the prophecy which is quoted by the Evangelist, "He was numbered 
with the transgressors," (Is. 53: 12; Mark 15: 28.) Why was it so? 
That he might bear the character of a sinner, not of a just or 
innocent person, inasmuch as he met death on account not of 
innocence, but of sin. On the other hand, when we read that he was 
acquitted by the same lips that condemned him, (for Pilate was 
forced once and again to bear public testimony to his innocence,) 
let us call to mind what is said by another prophet, "I restored 
that which I took not away," (Ps. 69: 4.) Thus we perceive Christ 
representing the character of a sinner and a criminal, while, at the 
same time, his innocence shines forth, and it becomes manifest that 
he suffers for another's and not for his own crime. He therefore 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, being thus, by the formal sentence of 
the judge, ranked among criminals, and yet he is declared innocent 
by the same judge, when he affirms that he finds no cause of death 
in him. Our acquittal is in this that the guilt which made us liable 
to punishment was transferred to the head of the Son of God, (Is. 
53: 12.) We must specially remember this substitution in order that 
we may not be all our lives in trepidation and anxiety, as if the 
just vengeance which the Son of God transferred to himself, were 
still impending over us. 
    6. The very form of the death embodies a striking truth. The 
cross was cursed not only in the opinion of men, but by the 
enactment of the Divine Law. Hence Christ, while suspended on it, 
subjects himself to the curse. And thus it behoved to be done, in 
order that the whole curse, which on account of our iniquities 
awaited us, or rather lay upon us, might be taken from us by being 
transferred to him. This was also shadowed in the Law, since 
"'ashamot", the word by which sin itself is properly designated, was 
applied to the sacrifices and expiations offered for sin. By this 
application of the term, the Spirit intended to intimate, that they 
were a kind of "katarmaton", (purifications,) bearing, by 
substitutions the curse due to sin. But that which was represented 
figuratively in the Mosaic sacrifices is exhibited in Christ the 
archetype. Wherefore, in order to accomplish a full expiation, he 
made his soul to "'asham", i. e., a propitiatory victim for sin, (as 
the prophet says, Is. 53: 5, 10,) on which the guilt and penalty 
being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us. The Apostle 
declares this more plainly when he says, that "he made him to be sin 
for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of 
God in him," (2 Cor. 5: 21.) For the Son of God, though spotlessly 
pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities, and 
in return clothed us with his purity. To the same thing he seems to 
refer, when he says, that he "condemned sin in the flesh," (Rom. 8: 
3,) the Father having destroyed the power of sin when it was 
transferred to the flesh of Christ. This term, therefore, indicates 
that Christ, in his death, was offered to the Father as a 
propitiatory victim; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we 
might cease to tremble at the divine wrath. It is now clear what the 
prophet means when he says, that "the Lord has laid upon him the 
iniquity of us all," (Is. 53: 6;) namely, that as he was to wash 
away the pollution of sins, they were transferred to him by 
imputation. Of this the cross to which he was nailed was a symbol, 
as the Apostle declares, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of 
the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is 
every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might 
come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ," (Gal. 3: 13, 14.) In the 
same way Peter says, that he "bare our sins in his own body on the 
tree," (1 Peter 2: 24,) inasmuch as from the very symbol of the 
curse, we perceive more clearly that the burden with which we were 
oppressed was laid upon him. Nor are we to understand that by the 
curse which he endured he was himself overwhelmed, but rather that 
by enduring it he repressed broke, annihilated all its force. 
Accordingly, faith apprehends acquittal in the condemnation of 
Christ, and blessing in his curse. Hence it is not without cause 
that Paul magnificently celebrates the triumph which Christ obtained 
upon the cross, as if the cross, the symbol of ignominy, had been 
converted into a triumphal chariot. For he says, that he blotted out 
the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was 
contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross: 
that "having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of 
them openly, triumphing over them in it," (Col. 2: 14, 15.) Nor is 
this to be wondered at; for, as another Apostle declares, Christ, 
"through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God," 
(Heb. 9: 14,) and hence that transformation of the cross which were 
otherwise against its nature. But that these things may take deep 
root and have their seat in our inmost hearts, we must never lose 
sight of sacrifice and ablution. For, were not Christ a victim, we 
could have no sure conviction of his being "apolutrosis, antilutron, 
kai hilasterion", our substitute-ransom and propitiation. And hence 
mention is always made of blood whenever scripture explains the mode 
of redemption: although the shedding of Christ's blood was available 
not only for propitiation, but also acted as a laver to purge our 
    7. The Creed next mentions that he "was dead and buried". Here 
again it is necessary to consider how he substituted himself in 
order to pay the price of our redemption. Death held us under its 
yoke, but he in our place delivered himself into its power, that he 
might exempt us from it. This the Apostle means when he says, "that 
he tasted death for every man," (Heb. 2: 9.) By dying he prevented 
us from dying; or (which is the same thing) he by his death 
purchased life for us, (see Calvin in Psychopann.) But in this he 
differed from us, that in permitting himself to be overcome of 
death, it was not so as to be engulfed in its abyss but rather to 
annihilate it, as it must otherwise have annihilated us; he did not 
allow himself to be so subdued by it as to be crushed by its power; 
he rather laid it prostrate, when it was impending over us, and 
exulting over us as already overcome. In fine, his object was, "that 
through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that 
is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all 
their lifetime subject to bondage," (Heb. 2: 14, 15.) This is the 
first fruit which his death produced to us. Another is, that by 
fellowship with him he mortifies our earthly members that they may 
not afterwards exert themselves in action, and kill the old man, 
that he may not hereafter be in vigour and bring forth fruit. An 
effect of his burials moreover is that we as his fellows are buried 
to sin. For when the Apostle says, that we are ingrafted into the 
likeness of Christ's deaths and that we are buried with him unto 
sin, that by his cross the world is crucified unto us and we unto 
the world, and that we are dead with him, he not only exhorts us to 
manifest an example of his death, but declares that there is an 
efficacy in it which should appear in all Christians, if they would 
not render his death unfruitful and useless. Accordingly in the 
death and burial of Christ a twofold blessing is set before us, 
viz., deliverance from death, to which we were enslaved, and the 
mortification of our flesh, (Rom. 6: 5; Gal. 2: 19, 6: 14; Col. 3: 
    8. Here we must not omit the descent to hell, which was of no 
little importance to the accomplishment of redemption. For although 
it is apparent from the writings of the ancient Fathers, that the 
clause which now stands in the Creed was not formerly so much used 
in the churches, still, in giving a summary of doctrine, a place 
must be assigned to it, as containing a matter of great importance 
which ought not by any means to be disregarded. Indeed, some of the 
ancient Fathers do not omit it, and hence we may conjecture, that 
having been inserted in the Creed after a considerable lapse of 
time, it came into use in the Church not immediately but by degrees. 
This much is uncontroverted, that it was in accordance with the 
general sentiment of all believers, since there is none of the 
Fathers who does not mention Christ's descent into hell, though they 
have various modes of explaining it. But it is of little consequence 
by whom and at what time it was introduced. The chief thing to be 
attended to in the Creed is, that it furnishes us with a full and 
every way complete summary of faith, containing nothing but what has 
been derived from the infallible word of God. But should any still 
scruple to give it admission into the Creed, it will shortly be made 
plain, that the place which it holds in a summary of our redemption 
is so important, that the omission of it greatly detracts from the 
benefit of Christ's death. There are some again who think that the 
article contains nothing new, but is merely a repetition in 
different words of what was previously said respecting burial, the 
word Hell (Infernis) being often used in Scripture for sepulchre. I 
admit the truth of what they allege with regard to the not 
infrequent use of the term infernos for sepulchre; but I cannot 
adopt their opinion, for two obvious reasons. First, What folly 
would it have been, after explaining a matter attended with no 
difficulty in clear and unambiguous terms, afterwards to involve 
rather than illustrate it by clothing it in obscure phraseology? 
When two expressions having the same meaning are placed together, 
the latter ought to be explanatory of the former. But what kind of 
explanation would it be to say, the expression, "Christ was buried", 
means, that "he descended into hell"? My second reason is the 
improbability that a superfluous tautology of this description 
should have crept into this compendium, in which the principal 
articles of faith are set down summarily in the fewest possible 
number of words. I have no doubt that all who weigh the matter with 
some degree of care will here agree with me. 
    9. Others interpret differently, viz., That Christ descended to 
the souls of the Patriarchs who died under the law, to announce his 
accomplished redemption, and bring them out of the prison in which 
they were confined. To this effect they wrest the passage in the 
Psalms "He has broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron 
in sunder." (Ps. 107: 16;) and also the passage in Zechariah, "I 
have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water," 
(Zech. 9: 11.) But since the psalm foretells the deliverance of 
those who were held captive in distant lands, and Zechariah 
comparing the Babylonish disaster into which the people had been 
plunged to a deep dry well or abyss, at the same time declares, that 
the salvation of the whole Church was an escape from a profound pit, 
I know not how it comes to pass, that posterity imagined it to be a 
subterraneous cavern, to which they gave the name of Limbus. Though 
this fable has the countenance of great authors, and is now also 
seriously defended by many as truth, it is nothing but a fable. To 
conclude from it that the souls of the dead are in prison is 
childish. And what occasion was there that the soul of Christ should 
go down thither to set them at liberty? I readily admit that Christ 
illumined them by the power of his Spirit, enabling them to perceive 
that the grace of which they had only had a foretaste was then 
manifested to the world. And to this not improbably the passage of 
Peter may be applied, wherein he says, that Christ "went and 
preached to the spirits that were in prison," (or rather "a 
watch-tower,") (I Pet. 3: 19.) The purport of the context is, that 
believers who had died before that time were partakers of the same 
grace with ourselves: for he celebrates the power of Christ's death, 
in that he penetrated even to the dead, pious souls obtaining an 
immediate view of that visitation for which they had anxiously 
waited; while, on the other hand, the reprobate were more clearly 
convinced that they were completely excluded from salvation. 
Although the passage in Peter is not perfectly definite, we must not 
interpret as if he made no distinction between the righteous and the 
wicked: he only means to intimate, that the death of Christ was made 
known to both. 
    10. But, apart from the Creed, we must seek for a surer 
exposition of Christ's descent to hell: and the word of God 
furnishes us with one not only pious and holy, but replete with 
excellent consolation. Nothing had been done if Christ had only 
endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God's 
anger, and satisfy his righteous judgement, it was necessary that he 
should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was 
necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with 
the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. We lately 
quoted from the Prophet, that the "chastisement of our peace was 
laid upon him" that he "was bruised for our iniquities" that he 
"bore our infirmities;" expressions which intimate, that, like a 
sponsor and surety for the guilty, and, as it were, subjected to 
condemnation, he undertook and paid all the penalties which must 
have been exacted from them, the only exception being, that the 
pains of death could not hold him. Hence there is nothing strange in 
its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the 
death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is 
frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is 
perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial 
should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured 
in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and 
incomprehensible judgement which he endured before God, to teach us 
that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of 
redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price - 
that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man. 
    11. In this sense, Peter says that God raised up Christ, 
"having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible he 
should be holden of it," (Acts 2: 24.) He does not mention death 
simply, but says that the Son of God endured the pains produced by 
the curse and wrath of God, the source of death. How small a matter 
had it been to come forth securely, and as it were in sport to 
undergo death. Herein was a true proof of boundless mercy, that he 
shunned not the death he so greatly dreaded. And there can be no 
doubt that, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle means to 
teach the same thing, when he says that he "was heard in that he 
feared," (Heb. 5: 7.) Some instead of "feared," use a term meaning 
reverence or piety, but how inappropriately, is apparent both from 
the nature of the thing and the form of expression. Christ then 
praying in a loud voice, and with tears, is heard in that he feared, 
not so as to be exempted from death, but so as not to be swallowed 
up of it like a sinner, though standing as our representative. And 
certainly no abyss can be imagined more dreadful than to feel that 
you are abandoned and forsaken of God, and not heard when you invoke 
him, just as if he had conspired your destruction. To such a degree 
was Christ dejected, that in the depth of his agony he was forced to 
exclaim, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The view taken 
by some, that he here expressed the opinion of others rather than 
his own conviction, is most improbable; for it is evident that the 
expression was wrung from the anguish of his inmost soul. We do not, 
however, insinuate that God was ever hostile to him or angry with 
him. How could he be angry with the beloved Son, with whom his soul 
was well pleased? or how could he have appeased the Father by his 
intercession for others if He were hostile to himself? But this we 
say, that he bore the weight of the divine anger, that, smitten and 
afflicted, he experienced all the signs of an angry and avenging 
God. Hence Hilary argues, that to this descent we owe our exemption 
from death. Nor does he dissent from this view in other passages, as 
when he says, "The cross, death, hell, are our life." And again, 
"The Son of God is in hell, but man is brought back to heaven." And 
why do I quote the testimony of a private writer, when an Apostle 
asserts the same thing, stating it as one fruit of his victory that 
he delivered "them who through fear of death were all their lifetime 
subject to bondage?" (Heb. 2: 15.) He behoved therefore, to conquer 
the fear which incessantly vexes and agitates the breasts of all 
mortals; and this he could not do without a contest. Moreover it 
will shortly appear with greater clearness that his was no common 
sorrow, was not the result of a trivial cause. Thus by engaging with 
the power of the devil, the fear of death, and the pains of hell, he 
gained the victory, and achieved a triumph, so that we now fear not 
in death those things which our Prince has destroyed. 
    12. Here some miserable creatures, who, though unlearned, are 
however impelled more by malice than ignorance, cry out that I am 
offering an atrocious insult to Christ, because it were most 
incongruous to hold that he feared for the safety of his soul. And 
then in harsher terms they urge the calumnious charge that I 
attribute despair to the Son of God, a feeling the very opposite of 
faith. First, they wickedly raise a controversy as to the fear and 
dread which Christ felt, though these are openly affirmed by the 
Evangelists. For before the hour of his death arrived, he was 
troubled in spirit, and affected with grief; and at the very onset 
began to be exceedingly amazed. To speak of these feelings as merely 
assumed, is a shameful evasion. It becomes us, therefore, (as 
Ambrose truly teaches,) boldly to profess the agony of Christ, if we 
are not ashamed of the cross. And certainly had not his soul shared 
in the punishment, he would have been a Redeemer of bodies only. The 
object of his struggle was to raise up those who were lying 
prostrate; and so far is this from detracting from his heavenly 
glory, that his goodness, which can never be sufficiently extolled, 
becomes more conspicuous in this, that he declined not to bear our 
infirmities. Hence also that solace to our anxieties and griefs 
which the Apostle sets before us: "We have not an high priest who 
cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in 
all respects tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Heb. 4: 15.) 
These men pretend that a thing in its nature vicious is improperly 
ascribed to Christ; as if they were wiser than the Spirit of God, 
who in the same passage reconciles the two things, viz., that he was 
tempted in all respects like as we are, and yet was without sin. 
There is no reason, therefore, to take alarm at infirmity in Christ, 
infirmity to which he submitted not under the constraint of violence 
and necessity, but merely because he loved and pitied us. Whatever 
he spontaneously suffered, detracts in no degree from his majesty. 
One thing which misleads these detractors is, that they do not 
recognise in Christ an infirmity which was pure and free from every 
species of taint, inasmuch as it was kept within the limits of 
obedience. As no moderation can be seen in the depravity of our 
nature, in which all affections with turbulent impetuosity exceed 
their due bounds, they improperly apply the same standard to the Son 
of God. But as he was upright, all his affections were under such 
restraint as prevented every thing like excess. Hence he could 
resemble us in grief, fear, and dread, but still with this mark of 
distinction. Thus refuted, they fly off to another cavil, that 
although Christ feared death, yet he feared not the curse and wrath 
of God, from which he knew that he was safe. But let the pious 
reader consider how far it is honourable to Christ to make him more 
effeminate and timid than the generality of men. Robbers and other 
malefactors contumaciously hasten to death, many men magnanimously 
despise it, others meet it calmly. If the Son of God was amazed and 
terror-struck at the prospect of it, where was his firmness or 
magnanimity? We are even told, what in a common death would have 
been deemed most extraordinary, that in the depth of his agony his 
sweat was like great drops of blood falling to the ground. Nor was 
this a spectacle exhibited to the eyes of others, since it was from 
a secluded spot that he uttered his groans to his Father. And that 
no doubt may remain, it was necessary that angels should come down 
from heaven to strengthen him with miraculous consolation. How 
shamefully effeminate would it have been (as I have observed) to be 
so excruciated by the fear of an ordinary death as to sweat drops of 
blood, and not even be revived by the presence of angels? What? Does 
not that prayer, thrice repeated, "Father, if it be possible, let 
this cup pass from me," (Matth. 26: 39,) a prayer dictated by 
incredible bitterness of soul, show that Christ had a fiercer and 
more arduous struggle than with ordinary death? 
    Hence it appears that these triflers, with whom I am disputing, 
presume to talk of what they know not, never having seriously 
considered what is meant and implied by ransoming us from the 
justice of God. It is of consequence to understand aright how much 
our salvation cost the Son of God. If any one now ask, Did Christ 
descend to hell at the time when he deprecated death? I answer, that 
this was the commencement, and that from it we may infer how dire 
and dreadful were the tortures which he endured when he felt himself 
standing at the bar of God as a criminal in our stead. And although 
the divine power of the Spirit veiled itself for a moment, that it 
might give place to the infirmity of the flesh, we must understand 
that the trial arising from feelings of grief and fear was such as 
not to be at variance with faith. And in this was fulfilled what is 
said in Peter's sermon as to having been loosed from the pains of 
death, because "it was not possible he could be holden of it," (Acts 
2: 24.) Though feeling, as it were, forsaken of God, he did not 
cease in the slightest degree to confide in his goodness. This 
appears from the celebrated prayer in which, in the depth of his 
agony, he exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 
(Matth. 27: 46.) Amid all his agony he ceases not to call upon his 
God, while exclaiming that he is forsaken by him. This refutes the 
Apollinarian heresy as well as that of those who are called 
Monothelites. Apollinaris pretended, that in Christ the eternal 
Spirit supplied the place of a soul, so that he was only half a man; 
as if he could have expiated our sins in any other way than by 
obeying the Father. But where does the feeling or desire of 
obedience reside but in the soul? And we know that his soul was 
troubled in order that ours, being free from trepidation, might 
obtain peace and quiet. Moreover, in opposition to the Monothelites, 
we see that in his human he felt a repugnance to what he willed in 
his divine nature. I say nothing of his subduing the fear of which 
we have spoken by a contrary affection. This appearance of 
repugnance is obvious in the words, "Father, save me from this hour: 
but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name," 
(John 12: 27, 28.) Still, in this perplexity, there was no violent 
emotion, such as we exhibit while making the strongest endeavours to 
subdue our own feelings. 
    13. Next follows the resurrection from the dead, without which 
all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that 
in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness 
appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be 
provided with full strength. Hence, although in his death we have an 
effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled 
to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, 
and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his 
resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living 
hope, (1 Pet. 1: 3;) because, as he, by rising again, became 
victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in 
his resurrection. The nature of it is better expressed in the words 
of Paul, "Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was 
raised again for our justification," (Rom. 4: 25;) as if he had 
said, By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection 
righteousness was renewed and restored. For how could he by dying 
have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? how could 
he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the 
    Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the 
resurrection of Christ: by the former sin was abolished and death 
annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life 
revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed 
upon us by means of the latter. Paul accordingly affirms, that he 
was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection, (Rom. 1: 4,) 
because he then fully displayed that heavenly power which is both a 
bright mirror of his divinity, and a sure support of our faith; as 
he also elsewhere teaches, that "though he was crucified through 
weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God," (2 Cor. 13: 4.) In the 
same sense, in another passage, treating of perfection, he says, 
"That I may know him and the power of his resurrection," (Phil. 3: 
10.) Immediately after he adds, "being made conformable unto his 
death." In perfect accordance with this is the passage in Peter, 
that God "raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your 
faith and hope might be in God," ( 1 Pet. 1: 21.) Not that faith 
founded merely on his death is vacillating, but that the divine 
power by which he maintains our faith is most conspicuous in his 
resurrection. Let us remember, therefore, that when death only is 
mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same 
time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term 
resurrection, as often as it is used apart from death, everything 
peculiar to death being included. But as, by rising again, he 
obtained the victory, and became the resurrection and the life, Paul 
justly argues, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are 
yet in your sins," (1 Cor. 15: 17.) Accordingly, in another passage, 
after exulting in the death of Christ in opposition to the terrors 
of condemnation, he thus enlarges, "Christ that died, yea rather, 
that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also 
maketh intercession for us," (Rom. 8: 34.) Then, as we have already 
explained that the mortification of our flesh depends on communion 
with the cross, so we must also understand, that a corresponding 
benefit is derived from his resurrection. For as the Apostle says, 
"Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the 
Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life," (Rom. 6: 
4.) Accordingly, as in another passage, from our being dead with 
Christ, he inculcates, "Mortify therefore your members which are 
upon the earth," (Col. 3: 5;) so from our being risen with Christ he 
infers, "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at 
the right hand of God," (Col. 3: 1.) In these words we are not only 
urged by the example of a risen Saviour to follow newness of life, 
but are taught that by his power we are renewed unto righteousness. 
A third benefit derived from it is, that, like an earnest, it 
assures us of our own resurrection, of which it is certain that his 
is the surest representation. This subject is discussed at length, 
(1 Cor. 15.) But it is to be observed, in passing, that when he is 
said to have "risen from the dead," these terms express the reality 
both of his death and resurrection, as if it had been said, that he 
died the same death as other men naturally die, and received 
immortality in the same mortal flesh which he had assumed. 
    14. The resurrection is naturally followed by the ascension 
into heaven. For although Christ, by rising again, began fully to 
display his glory and virtue, having laid aside the abject and 
ignoble condition of a mortal life, and the ignominy of the cross, 
yet it was only by his ascension to heaven that his reign truly 
commenced. This the Apostle shows, when he says he ascended "that he 
might fill all things," (Eph. 4: 10;) thus reminding us, that under 
the appearance of contradiction, there is a beautiful harmony, 
inasmuch as though he departed from us, it was that his departure 
might be more useful to us than that presence which was confined in 
a humble tabernacle of flesh during his abode on the earth. Hence 
John, after repeating the celebrated invitation, "If any man thirst, 
let him come unto me and drink," immediately adds, "the Holy Ghost 
was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified," (John 
7: 37, 39.) This our Lord himself also declared to his disciples, 
"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the 
Comforter will not come unto you," (John 16: 7.) To console them for 
his bodily absence, he tells them that he will not leave them 
comfortless, but will come again to them in a manner invisible 
indeed, but more to be desired, because they were then taught by a 
surer experience that the government which he had obtained, and the 
power which he exercises would enable his faithful followers not 
only to live well, but also to die happily. And, indeed we see how 
much more abundantly his Spirit was poured out, how much more 
gloriously his kingdom was advanced, how much greater power was 
employed in aiding his followers and discomfiting his enemies. Being 
raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, 
not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still 
pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth 
more immediately by his power; or rather, the promise which he made 
to be with us even to the end of the world, he fulfilled by this 
ascension, by which, as his body has been raised above all heavens, 
so his power and efficacy have been propagated and diffused beyond 
all the bounds of heaven and earth. This I prefer to explain in the 
words of Augustine rather than my own: "Through death Christ was to 
go to the right hand of the Father, whence he is to come to judge 
the quick and the dead, and that in corporal presence, according to 
the sound doctrine and rule of faith. For, in spiritual presence, he 
was to be with them after his ascension," (August. Tract. in Joann. 
109.) In another passage he is more full and explicit: "In regard to 
ineffable and invisible grace, is fulfilled what he said, Lo, I am 
with you alway, even to the end of the world, (Matth. 28: 20;) but 
in regard to the flesh which the Word assumed in regard to his being 
born of a Virgin, in regard to his being apprehended by the Jews, 
nailed to the tree, taken down from the cross, wrapt in linen 
clothes, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested on his resurrection, 
it may be said, Me ye have not always with you. Why? because, in 
bodily presence, he conversed with his disciples forty days, and 
leading them out where they saw, but followed not, he ascended into 
heaven, and is not here: for there he sits at the right hand of the 
Father: and yet he is here, for the presence of his Godhead was not 
withdrawn. Therefore, as regards his divine presence, we have Christ 
always: as regards his bodily presence, it was truly said to the 
disciples, Me ye have not always. For a few days the Church had him 
bodily present. Now, she apprehends him by faith, but sees him not 
by the eye," (August. Tract. 51.) 
    15. Hence it is immediately added, that he "sitteth at the 
right hand of God the Father;" a similitude borrowed from princes, 
who have their assessors to whom they commit the office of ruling 
and issuing commands. Thus Christ, in whom the Father is pleased to 
be exalted, and by whose hand he is pleased to reign, is said to 
have been received up, and seated on his right hand, (Mark 16: 19;) 
as if it had been said, that he was installed in the government of 
heaven and earth, and formally admitted to possession of the 
administration committed to him, and not only admitted for once, but 
to continue until he descend to judgement. For so the Apostle 
interprets, when he says, that the Father "set him at his own right 
hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, 
and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in 
this world, but also in that which is to come; and has put all 
things under his feet, and given him to be the head over all things 
to the Church." You see to what end he is so seated namely, that all 
creatures both in heaven and earth should reverence his majesty, be 
ruled by his hand, do him implicit homage, and submit to his power. 
All that the Apostles intends when they so often mention his seat at 
the Father's hand, is to teach, that every thing is placed at his 
disposal. Those, therefore, are in error, who suppose that his 
blessedness merely is indicated. We may observe, that there is 
nothing contrary to this doctrine in the testimony of Stephen, that 
he saw him standing, (Acts 7: 56,) the subject here considered being 
not the position of his body, but the majesty of his empire, sitting 
meaning nothing more than presiding on the judgement-seat of heaven. 
    16. From this doctrine faith derives manifold advantages. 
First, it perceives that the Lord, by his ascension to heaven, has 
opened up the access to the heavenly kingdom, which Adam had shut. 
For having entered it in our flesh, as it were in our name, it 
follows, as the Apostle says, that we are in a manner now seated in 
heavenly places, not entertaining a mere hope of heaven, but 
possessing it in our head. Secondly, faith perceives that his seat 
beside the Father is not without great advantage to us. Having 
entered the temple not made with hands, he constantly appears as our 
advocate and intercessor in the presence of the Father; directs 
attention to his own righteousness, so as to turn it away from our 
sins; so reconciles him to us, as by his intercession to pave for us 
a way of access to his throne, presenting it to miserable sinners, 
to whom it would otherwise be an object of dread, as replete with 
grace and mercy. Thirdly, it discerns his power, on which depend our 
strength, might, resources, and triumph over hell, "When he ascended 
up on high, he led captivity captive," (Eph. 4: 8.) Spoiling his 
foes, he gave gifts to his people, and daily loads them with 
spiritual riches. He thus occupies his exalted seat, that thence 
transferring his virtue unto us, he may quicken us to spiritual 
life, sanctify us by his Spirit, and adorn his Church with various 
graces, by his protection preserve it safe from all harm, and by the 
strength of his hand curb the enemies raging against his cross and 
our salvation; in fine, that he may possess all power in heaven and 
earth, until he have utterly routed all his foes, who are also ours 
and completed the structure of his Church. Such is the true nature 
of the kingdom, such the power which the Father has conferred upon 
him, until he arrive to complete the last act by judging the quick 
and the dead. 
    17. Christ, indeed, gives his followers no dubious proofs of 
present power, but as his kingdom in the world is in a manner veiled 
by the humiliation of a carnal condition, faith is most properly 
invited to meditate on the visible presence which he will exhibit on 
the last day. For he will descend from heaven in visible form, in 
like manner as he was seen to ascend, and appear to all, with the 
ineffable majesty of his kingdom, the splendour of immortality, the 
boundless power of divinity, and an attending company of angels. 
Hence we are told to wait for the Redeemer against that day on which 
he will separate the sheep from the goats and the elect from the 
reprobate, and when not one individual either of the living or the 
dead shall escape his judgement. From the extremities of the 
universe shall be heard the clang of the trumpet summoning all to 
his tribunal; both those whom that day shall find alive, and those 
whom death shall previously have removed from the society of the 
living. There are some who take the words, quick and dead, in a 
different sense; and, indeed, some ancient writers appear to have 
hesitated as to the exposition of them; but our meaning being plain 
and clear, is much more accordant with the Creed which was certainly 
written for popular use. There is nothing contrary to it in the 
Apostle's declaration, that it is appointed unto all men once to 
die. For though those who are surviving at the last day shall not 
die after a natural manner, yet the change which they are to 
undergo, as it shall resemble, is not improperly called, death, 
(Heb. 9: 27.) "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," 
(1 Cor. 15: 51.) What does this mean? Their mortal life shall perish 
and be swallowed up in one moment, and be transformed into an 
entirely new nature. Though no one can deny that that destruction of 
the flesh will be death, it still remains true that the quick and 
the dead shall be summoned to judgement, (1 Thess. 4: 16:) for "the 
dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain 
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the lord 
in the air." Indeed, it is probable, that these words in the Creed 
were taken from Peter's sermon as related by Luke, (Acts 10: 42,) 
and from the solemn charge of Paul to Timothy, (2 Tim. 4: 1.) 
    18. It is most consolatory to think, that judgement is vested 
in him who has already destined us to share with him in the honour 
of judgement, (Matth. 19: 28;) so far is it from being true, that he 
will ascend the judgement-seat for our condemnation. How could a 
most merciful prince destroy his own people? how could the head 
disperse its own members? how could the advocate condemn his 
clients? For if the Apostle, when contemplating the interposition of 
Christ, is bold to exclaim, "Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8: 
33,) much more certain is it that Christ, the intercessor, will not 
condemn those whom he has admitted to his protection. It certainly 
gives no small security, that we shall be sisted at no other 
tribunal than that of our Redeemer, from whom salvation is to be 
expected; and that he who in the Gospel now promises eternal 
blessedness, will then as judge ratify his promise. The end for 
which the Father has honoured the Son by committing all judgement to 
him, (John 5: 22,) was to pacify the consciences of his people when 
alarmed at the thought of judgement. Hitherto I have followed the 
order of the Apostles' Creed, because it states the leading articles 
of redemption in a few words, and may thus serve as a tablet in 
which the points of Christian doctrine, most deserving of attention, 
are brought separately and distinctly before us. I call it the 
Apostles' Creed, though I am by no means solicitous as to its 
authorship. The general consent of ancient writers certainly does 
ascribe it to the Apostles, either because they imagined it was 
written and published by them for common use, or because they 
thought it right to give the sanction of such authority to a 
compendium faithfully drawn up from the doctrine delivered by their 
hands. I have no doubt, that, from the very commencement of the 
Church, and, therefore, in the very days of the Apostles, it held 
the place of a public and universally received confession, whatever 
be the quarter from which it originally proceeded. It is not 
probable that it was written by some private individual, since it is 
certain that, from time immemorial, it was deemed of sacred 
authority by all Christians. The only point of consequence we hold 
to be incontrovertible, viz., that it gives, in clear and succinct 
order, a full statement of our faith, and in every thing which it 
contains is sanctioned by the sure testimony of Scripture. This 
being understood, it were to no purpose to labour anxiously, or 
quarrel with any one as to the authorship, unless, indeed, we think 
it not enough to possess the sure truth of the Holy Spirit, without, 
at the same time, knowing by whose mouth it was pronounced, or by 
whose hand it was written. 
    19. When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every 
single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of 
deriving even the minutes portion of it from any other quarter. If 
we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he 
possesses it; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall 
find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his 
conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us 
in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathise with us: 
if we seek redemption, we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in 
his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction 
in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his 
descent to hell; mortification of the flesh in his sepulchre; 
newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his 
resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in his entrance 
into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all 
blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgement in the 
power of judging committed to him. In fine, since in him all kinds 
of blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from him, 
and none from any other quarter. Those who, not satisfied with him 
alone, entertain various hopes from others, though they may continue 
to look to him chiefly, deviate from the right path by the simple 
fact, that some portion of their thought takes a different 
direction. No distrust of this description can arise when once the 
abundance of his blessings is properly known. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 2, Part 17
(continued in part 18...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvin2-17.txt