Calvin, Institutes, Vol.3, Part 17
(... continued from part 16)
Chapter 16. 
16. Refutation of the calumnies by which it is attempted to throw 
odium on this doctrine. 
    The divisions of this chapter are, - I. The calumnies of the 
Papists against the orthodox doctrine of Justification by Faith are 
reduced to two classes. The first class, with its consequences, 
refuted, sec. 1-3. II. The second class, which is dependent on the 
first, refuted in the last section. 
1. Calumnies of the Papists. 1. That we destroy good works, and give 
    encouragement to sin. Refutation of the first calumny. 1. 
    Character of those who censure us. 2. Justification by faith 
    establishes the necessity of good works. 
2. Refutation of a consequent of the former calumny, viz., that men 
    are dissuaded from well-doing when we destroy merit. Two modes 
    of refutation. First mode confirmed by many invincible 
3. The Apostles make no mention of merit, when they exhort us to 
    good works. On the contrary, excluding merit, they refer us 
    entirely to the mercy of God. Another mode of refutation. 
4. Refutation of the second calumny and of an inference from it, 
    viz., that the obtaining righteousness is made too easy, when 
    it is made to consist in the free remission of sins. 
    1. Our last sentence may refute the impudent calumny of certain 
ungodly men, who charge us, first, with destroying good works and 
leading men away from the study of them, when we say, that men are 
not justified, and do not merit salvation by works; and, secondly, 
with making the means of justification too easy, when we say that it 
consists in the free remission of sins, and thus alluring men to sin 
to which they are already too much inclined. These calumnies, I say, 
are sufficiently refuted by that one sentence; however, I will 
briefly reply to both. The allegation is that justification by faith 
destroys good works. I will not describe what kind of zealots for 
good works the persons are who thus charge us. We leave them as much 
liberty to bring the charge, as they take license to taint the whole 
world with the pollution of their lives. They pretend to lament, 
that when faith is so highly extolled works are deprived of their 
proper place. But what if they are rather ennobled and established? 
We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a 
justification which can exist without them: the only difference is, 
that while we acknowledge that faith and works are necessarily 
connected, we, however, place justification in faith, not in works. 
How this is done is easily explained, if we turn to Christ only, to 
whom our faith is directed and from whom it derives all its power. 
Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we apprehend 
the righteousness of Christ, which alone reconciles us to God. This 
faith, however, you cannot apprehend without at the same time 
apprehending sanctification; for Christ "is made unto us wisdom, and 
righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," (1 Cor. 1: 30.) 
Christ, therefore, justifies no man without also sanctifying him. 
These blessings are conjoined by a perpetual and inseparable tie. 
Those whom he enlightens by his wisdom he redeems; whom he redeems 
he justifies; whom he justifies he sanctifies. But as the question 
relates only to justification and sanctification, to them let us 
confine ourselves. Though we distinguish between them, they are both 
inseparably comprehended in Christ. Would ye then obtain 
justification in Christ? You must previously possess Christ. But you 
cannot possess him without being made a partaker of his 
sanctification: for Christ cannot be divided. Since the Lord, 
therefore, does not grant us the enjoyment of these blessings 
without bestowing himself, he bestows both at once but never the one 
without the other. Thus it appears how true it is that we are 
justified not without, and yet not by works, since in the 
participation of Christ, by which we are justified, is contained not 
less sanctification than justification. 
    2. It is also most untrue that men's minds are withdrawn from 
the desire of well-doing when we deprive them of the idea of merit. 
Here, by the way, the reader must be told that those men absurdly 
infer merit from reward, as I will afterwards more clearly explain. 
They thus infer, because ignorant of the principle that God gives no 
less a display of his liberality when he assigns reward to works, 
than when he bestows the faculty of well-doing. This topic it will 
be better to defer to its own place. At present, let it be 
sufficient merely to advert to the weakness of their objection. This 
may be done in two ways. For, first, they are altogether in error 
when they say that, unless a hope of reward is held forth, no regard 
will be had to the right conduct of life. For if all that men do 
when they serve God is to look to the reward, and hire out or sell 
their labour to him, little is gained: he desires to be freely 
worshipped, freely loved: I say he approves the worshipper who, even 
if all hope of reward were cut off, would cease not to worship him. 
Moreover, when men are to be urged, there cannot be a stronger 
stimulus than that derived from the end of our redemption and 
calling, such as the word of God employs when it says, that it were 
the height of impiety and ingratitude not to "love him who first 
loved us;" that by "the blood of Christ" our conscience is purged 
"from dead works to serve the living God;" that it were impious 
sacrilege in any one to count "the blood of the covenant, wherewith 
he was sanctified, an unholy thing;" that we have been "delivered 
out of the hands of our enemies," that we "might serve him without 
fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our 
life;" that being "made free from sin," we "become the servants of 
righteousness;" "that our old man is crucified with him," in order 
that we might rise to newness of life. Again, "if ye then be risen 
with Christ, (as becomes his members,) seek those things which are 
above," living as pilgrims in the world, and aspiring to heaven, 
where our treasure is. "The grace of God has appeared to all men, 
bringing salvation, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and 
worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in 
this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious 
appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." "For God 
has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our 
Lord Jesus Christ." "Know ye not that ye are the temples of the Holy 
Spirit," which it were impious to profane? "Ye were sometimes 
darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as the children of 
light." "God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." 
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye 
should abstain" from all illicit desires: ours is a "holy calling," 
and we respond not to it except by purity of life. "Being then made 
free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Can there 
be a stronger argument in eliciting us to charity than that of John? 
"If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." "In this 
the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: 
whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that 
loveth not his brother. Similar is the argument of Paul, "Know ye 
not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" "For as the body is 
one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body 
being many, are one body, so also is Christ." Can there be a 
stronger incentive to holiness than when we are told by John, "Every 
man that has this hope in him purifieth himself; even as he is 
pure?" and by Paul, "Having, therefore, these promises, dearly 
beloved, cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and 
spirit;" or when we hear our Savior hold forth himself as an example 
to us that we should follow his steps? 
    3. I have given these few passages merely as a specimen; for 
were I to go over them all, I should form a large volume. All the 
Apostles abound in exhortations, admonitions and rebukes, for the 
purpose of training the man of God to every good work, and that 
without any mention of merit. Nay, rather their chief exhortations 
are founded on the fact, that without any merit of ours, our 
salvation depends entirely on the mercy of God. Thus Paul, who 
during a whole Epistle had maintained that there was no hope of life 
for us save in the righteousness of Christ, when he comes to 
exhortations beseeches us by the mercy which God has bestowed upon 
us, (Rom. 12: 1.) Andy indeed this one reason ought to have been 
sufficient, that God may be glorified in us. But if any are not so 
ardently desirous to promote the glory of God, still the remembrance 
of his kindness is most sufficient to incite them to do good, (see 
Chrysost. Homily. in Genes.) But those men, because, by introducing 
the idea of merit, they perhaps extract some forced and servile 
obedience of the Law, falsely allege, that as we do not adopt the 
same course, we have no means of exhorting to good works. As if God 
were well pleased with such services when he declares that he loves 
a cheerful giver, and forbids any thing to be given him grudgingly 
or of necessity, (2 Cor. 9: 7.) I say not that I would reject that 
or omit any kind of exhortation which Scripture employs, its object 
being not to leave any method of animating us untried. For it 
states, that the recompense which God will render to every one is 
according to his deeds; but, first, I deny that that is the only, 
or, in many instances, the principal motive; and, secondly, I admit 
not that it is the motive with which we are to begin. Moreover, I 
maintain that it gives not the least countenance to those merits 
which these men are always preaching. This will afterwards be seen. 
Lastly, there is no use in this recompense, unless we have 
previously embraced the doctrine that we are justified solely by the 
merits of Christ as apprehended by faith, and not by any merit of 
works; because the study of piety can be fitly prosecuted only by 
those by whom this doctrine has been previously imbibed. This is 
beautifully intimated by the Psalmist when he thus addresses God, 
"There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared," (Ps. 
130: 4.) For he shows that the worship of God cannot exist without 
acknowledging his mercy, on which it is founded and established. 
This is specially deserving of notice, as showing us not only that 
the beginning of the due worship of God is confidence in his mercy; 
but that the fear of God (which Papists will have to be meritorious) 
cannot be entitled to the name of merit, for this reason, that it is 
founded on the pardon and remission of sins. 
    4. But the most futile calumny of all is, that men are invited 
to sin when we affirm that the pardon in which we hold that 
justification consists is gratuitous. Our doctrine is, that 
justification is a thing of such value, that it cannot be put into 
the balance with any good quality of ours; and, therefore, could 
never be obtained unless it were gratuitous: moreover, that it is 
gratuitous to us, but not also to Christ, who paid so dearly for it; 
namely his own most sacred blood, out of which there was no price of 
sufficient value to pay what was due to the justice of God. When men 
are thus taught they are reminded that it is owing to no merit of 
theirs that the shedding of that most sacred blood is not repeated 
every time they sin. Moreover, we say that our pollution is so 
great, that it can never be washed away save in the fountain of his 
pure blood. Must not those who are thus addressed conceive a greater 
horror of sin than if it were said to be wiped off by a sprinkling 
of good works? If they have any reverence for God, how can they, 
after being once purified, avoid shuddering at the thought of again 
wallowing in the mire, and as much as in them lies troubling and 
polluting the purity of this fountain? "I have washed my feet," 
(says the believing soul in the Song of Solomon, 5: 3,) "how shall I 
defile them?" It is now plain which of the two makes the forgiveness 
of sins of less value, and derogates from the dignity of 
justification. They pretend that God is appeased by their frivolous 
satisfactions; in other words, by mere dross. We maintain that the 
guilt of sin is too heinous to be so frivolously expiated; that the 
offense is too grave to be forgiven to such valueless satisfactions; 
and, therefore, that forgiveness is the prerogative of Christ's 
blood alone. They say that righteousness, wherever it is defective, 
is renewed and repaired by works of satisfaction. We think it too 
precious to be balanced by any compensation of works, and, 
therefore, in order to restore it, recourse must be had solely to 
the mercy of God. For the other points relating to the forgiveness 
of sins, see the following chapter. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 3, Part 17

(continued in part 18...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvin3-17.txt