Monday, 1 July 2013



The thrust of the Bible, and therefore of Calvin's writings, are that men are damned because of sin AND NOTHING ELSE. If man was not a sinner, he would not go to Hell. As simple as that. Election is unto salvation, not damnation (Eph 1:4) Even the fearsome doctrine of reprobation does not make anyone a sinner, but simply takes that individual as a sinner already and leaves them to their own chosen sins. The sinner is as much responsible for his sins as God is sovereign in the permitting of them.  

"Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity — which is closer to us — rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination." (Inst 3:23:7)

As, however, he had a little before adjudged such persons to destruction, (2 Corinthians 4:3) he now adds that they perish, for no other reason than that they have drawn down ruin upon themselves, as the effect of their own unbelief. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

“…where condemnation is, there must unquestionably be sin.” (Ephesians 2:3)

"You shall find throughout all my books, how I have taught, that we must not seek our perdition anywhere else than in ourselves and in our perverse will."  (An answer to a libel against Predestination - adjoined to Sermons on Election & Predestination - p312)

"Unbelief alone shuts us out; then faith alone opens an entrance." (Hebrews 4:3)

"He again reproaches them that it is nothing but their own malice that hinders them from becoming partakers of the life offered in the Scriptures; for when he says that they will not, he imputes the cause of their ignorance and blindness to wickedness and obstinacy. And, indeed, since he offered himself to them so graciously, they must have been willfully blind; but when they intentionally fled from the light, and even desired to extinguish the sun by the darkness of their unbelief, Christ justly reproves them with greater severity." (John 5:40)

"For were it not that the reprobate, through their own fault, turn life into death, the Gospel would be to all the power of God to salvation, (Romans 1:16;) but as many persons no sooner hear it than their impiety openly breaks out, and provokes against them more and more the wrath of God, to such persons its savor must be deadly, (2 Corinthians 2:16.)"  (Matthew 16:19)  

"The Gospel is preached for salvation: this is what properly belongs to it; but believers alone are partakers of that salvation. In the mean time, its being an occasion of condemnation to unbelievers - that arises from their own fault. Thus Christ came not into the world to condemn the world, (John 3:17,) for what need was there of this, inasmuch as without him we are all condemned? Yet he sends his apostles to bind, as well as to loose, and to retain sins, as well as remit them. (Matthew 18:18; John 20:23.) He is the light of the world, (John 8:12,) but he blinds unbelievers. (John 9:39.) He is a Rock, for a foundation, but he is also to many a stone of stumbling. (Isaiah 8:14.) We must always, therefore, distinguish between the proper office of the Gospel, and the accidental one (so to speak) which must be imputed to the depravity of mankind, to which it is owing, that life to them is turned into death." (2 Corinthians 2:16)

"Here Peter intimates that all who receive not Christ as revealed in the Gospel, are adversaries to God, and resist his word, and also that Christ is to none for destruction, but to those who, through headstrong wickedness and obstinacy, rush against the word of God. And this is especially what deserves to be noticed, lest our fault should be imputed to Christ; for, as he has been given to us as a foundation, it is as it were an accidental thing that he becomes a rock of offense. In short, his proper office is to prepare us for a spiritual temple to God; but it is the fault of men that they stumble at him, even because unbelief leads men to contend with God. Hence Peter, in order to set forth the character of the conflict, said that they were the unbelieving." (1 Peter 2:8)

"The words of the prophet were, Go, blind their minds, and harden their hearts, (Isaiah 6:10.) Matthew ascribes this to the hearers, that they may endure the blame of their own blindness and hardness; for the one cannot be separated from the other. All who have been given over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28) do voluntarily, and from inward malice, blind and harden themselves. Nor can it be otherwise, wherever the Spirit of God does not reign, by whom the elect alone are governed. Let us, therefore, attend to this connection, that all whom God does not enlighten with the Spirit of adoption are men of unsound mind; and that, while they are more and more blinded by the word of God, the blame rests wholly on themselves, because this blindness is voluntary." (Comment on Matthew 13:13)

"The vast crowd that had assembled shows how widely his fame was spread in every direction: and this left the Jews without excuse in depriving themselves, by their own carelessness, of the salvation which was offered to them; for even out of this great multitude, which was inflamed by a sudden zeal to follow Christ, it is evident from what is stated by John, (6:66/12:37) that not more than a very small number yielded a true and steady adherence to his doctrine." (Comment on Matthew 14:14)

"Christ therefore asks why they do not recognize the kingdom of God, when it is made known by signs not less manifest; for this proved clearly that they were excessively occupied with earthly and transitory advantages, and cared little about any thing that related to the heavenly and spiritual life, and were blinded not so much by mistake as by voluntary malice.(v2)  ... How comes it then that we feel no concern about the signs by which God invites us to himself? Is it not because every man gives himself up to willing indifference, and extinguishes the light which is offered to him?" (v3) ... "They go farther, and believe that it is a mark of prudence purposely to avoid all inquiry into the truth; as if it were not an instance of shameful sloth that, while they are so eagerly solicitous about the objects of the flesh and of the earth, they neglect the eternal salvation of their souls, and at the same time contrive vain excuses for gross and stupid ignorance. (v3) ... (Comment on Matthew 16:1-4)

"And groaning in his spirit. By these words Mark informs us that it occasioned grief and bitter vexation to our Lord, when he saw those ungrateful men obstinately resist God."  ... "moved by deep sadness at the sight of such wicked obstinacy."  (Mark 8:11-13)

"And it is a just punishment of God, which he bringeth upon such pride, to deliver them to Satan, to be driven headlong into blind fury. Wherefore, there is no cause why we should marvel that there be so many at this day so blind in so great light, if they be so deaf when such manifest doctrine is delivered, yea, if they wantonly refuse salvation when it is offered unto them." (Acts 2:13) 

"It was the finishing stroke of the vengeance of God to blind the Jews, that the resurrection of Christ was buried by the perjury of the soldiers, and that so gross a falsehood was believed. And hence it is evident that those who did not believe that Christ was risen were deceived by a voluntary error, as the world voluntarily gives itself up to be deceived by the snares of Satan." (Matthew 28:15)

"And this confirms more fully what I formerly suggested, that if any man disdain to abide by the footsteps of the robber, and to follow in his path, he deserves everlasting destruction, because by wicked pride he shuts against himself the gate of heaven." (Luke 23:43)

"And yet the pride of Herod, which shut the door on the grace of God, admits of no excuse. Nor can it be doubted that God, in order to punish him for his former indifference, purposely hardened his heart by such a spectacle; for he was unworthy of beholding in Christ any ray of heavenly glory; since he had so long shut his eyes on the full brightness, by which his whole country had been illuminated and adorned Herod, with his attendants." (Matthew 27:11) 

"Thus they choose rather to be deprived of the hope of the promised redemption, and to be devoted to perpetual slavery, than to receive the Redeemer, whom God had offered to them." (Matthew 27:22)  

"Yet we ought also to learn that the wickedness and crimes of Babylon are brought forward, in order to inform us that the Lord will not be cruel in punishing her so severely, because he inflicts the punishment which that people deserved on account of their transgressions and crimes. Every ground of calumny is therefore taken away, that we may not think that God delights in the afflictions of men; for when he thus deals with men according as they deserve, the mouths of all must be stopped, (Romans 3:19,) since the severity of the afflictions does not proceed from God, but finds its cause in men themselves." (Isaiah 13:11)

"Here he again censures the wicked, and shews that they cannot be excused on the plea of ignorance; for, though they perceive nothing, still the hand of God is openly visible; and it is nothing but their blind ingratitude, or rather their voluntary indolence, that hinders them from perceiving it. Some might plead ignorance, and allege that they did not see these works; but the Prophet says that God's hand is "lifted up," and not merely exerted, so that it is not only visible to a few persons, but shines conspicuously." (Isaiah 26:11) 

"For he hath smeared their eyes. The reason now assigned is not intended to lessen their guilt, but to shew how monstrous and detestable it is; for men would never be so foolish, if the vengeance of heaven did not drive them to “a reprobate mind.” (Ro 1:28.) Here some interpreters supply the word “God,” and others supply the words “false prophets,” and say that the people were blind, because the false prophets led them astray; for their would never have plunged into such disgraceful errors if they had not been deceived by the impostures of those men, their eyes being dazzled by wicked doctrines. Others do not approve of either of these significations, and it might also refer to the devil. But as a different exposition is more customary in Scripture, I rather adopt it, namely, that God hath blinded them by a righteous judgment; if it be not thought preferable to view it as referring to themselves,  182 because they voluntarily shut both their minds and their eyes; in which case there would be a change of number, which frequently occurs among Hebrew writers. I have stated, however, what I prefer; and it is exceedingly customary among Hebrew writers, when they speak of God, not to mention his name.

In what sense God is said to blind men, and to “give them up to a reprobate mind,” (Ro 1:28,) is evident from various passages of Scripture; that is, when he takes away the light of his Spirit, and gives a loose rein to the lust of men, so that no reasoning can restrain them. He likewise arms Satan with the efficiency of error, so that they who have refused to obey the truth do not guard against his snares, and are liable to be deceived by his impostures. What then can be left in us but the thickest darkness and gross ignorance, so that this tyrant, the father of lies and of darkness, ravages at his pleasure both within and without? for there will not be found in us any spark of light to dispel the clouds of error, but, impelled by a spirit of giddiness with which God strikes the reprobate, (2Th 2:11,) we shall be driven about in a strange manner at the will of Satan.

And yet we must not throw on God the blame of this blindness, for he has always just cause, though it is not always visible to our eyes; and we ought not to make anxious inquiries respecting it, or search into his secret decree, if we do not choose to be punished for our rashness. But frequently the causes are well known, namely, the ingratitude of men and their rebellion against God, as Paul plainly shews. (Ro 1:28.) The blinding is their just punishment, and therefore men have no excuse, though they pretend ignorance; for they would never have been entangled in such gross errors, if the Lord had not blinded them on account of their sins. A very convincing argument may be drawn from the judgments of God to the sins of men; for God is just, and never punishes any one without a just cause, and does not blind a man, unless he deserves it, and voluntarily shuts his eyes. The blame therefore lies with men alone, who have of their own accord brought blindness on themselves; and the design of the Prophet undoubtedly is to shew, that men who ought to have been governed by God, being naturally endued with some judgment, have been forsaken by “the Father of lights,” (Jas 1:17,) so that they become the slaves of Satan." (Isaiah 44:18) 

Last of all, David confesses that it was entirely owing to the pure grace of God that he had come to possess so great a good, and that he had been made a partaker of it by faith. It would be of no advantage to us for God to offer himself freely and graciously to us, if we did not receive him by faith, seeing he invites to himself both the reprobate and the elect in common; but the former, by their ingratitude, defraud themselves of this inestimable blessing. Let us, therefore, know that both these things proceed from the free liberality of God; first, his being our inheritance, and next, our coming to the possession of him by faith. (Psalm 16:7)




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