YOU are a man, John Calvin, now known throughout almost the whole world. Your doctrine has many favourers and supporters, but it has also many enemies and opponents. For myself, being one who earnestly wishes that there were but one doctrine, as there is but one truth, and who greatly desires to see all men agree, if it were possible, in that one doctrine, I have thought that you ought to be informed, in a friendly manner, of those things which are everywhere spoken against your doctrine; that if false, you might refute them and might have an opportunity of sending your refutation to me; that I might be able to make a stand against your adversaries. And I pray that you would frame your refutation of such arguments as may be plainly under stood by the people.

There are indeed many who differ from you, and that, too, in many things. For the present, however, I will leave all other questions to other times, and I will deal with you upon that one great subject—the doctrine of Fate, or Predestination. For this one question is exciting vast disturbances in the Church, all which I should be glad to see quieted; and the arguments of your opponents on this mighty matter are so forcible, that they cannot be refuted out of any of your books which you have hitherto published.

Certain Articles connected with this vast question have been extracted from your books and spread abroad in all directions. These Articles I will now place before you without any regularity of order, and to each Article I will subjoin the arguments which your opponents advance against it. By this arrangement you will at once see what reply you are called upon to make.








THAT there are many adversaries to my doctrine I know full well and wonder not. For it is no new thing that brawlers on every side should open their mouths against Christ, under whose banner I fight. My only grief in the sacred matter is, that through my feeble side the solemn and eternal truth of God is stabbed, which ought to be looked upon with reference and adoration by the whole world. But since I see that this same truth of God has ever, from the beginning, been exposed to the calumnies of the wicked, and that Christ Himself, by the decree of His heavenly Father, must ever be a "rock of offence" and of contradiction (Rom. ix. 33; Isa viii. 14, 15), I consider that the defenders of the truth must bear this offence with all patience. No fierce bites of the wicked, however, will at any time cause me to repent of the doctrine which I have taught, because I feel fully assured that God is its origin and author. Nor have I profited so little by those numerous conflicts in which God Himself has caused me to be engaged, as now to be alarmed by your empty and futile noises.

Nay, as far as you yourself are concerned, poor masked monitor, I derive some consolation from the thought that you cannot be ungrateful towards the man who has treated you with much greater kindness than you deserved at his hands, without betraying at the same time your foul wickedness against God. I know quite well that there is no sport more grateful to you Academics than the rooting out of all faith from the hearts of the godly by casting a shade of doubt over all that they hold dear. And how sweet you feel in yourself all those revilings to be which you direct against the "Secret Providence of God," is apparent from the very point of your pen, how much soever you strive to hide your base gratification. But I cite you and all your fellows before that tribunal on which the Judge of heaven sits, from whose mouth the blast and the bolt shall one day fall upon you all, and lay you prostrate. I trust, however, that I myself, before I have done, shall make your insolent speaking against God to be as loathsome to the feelings of all good and godly men, as they are inwardly gratifying to your own heart.

You demand of me a refutation of that vain scribble of yours, which you sent secretly to Paris from a town in Switzerland, that poison might be poured upon my name far and wide without my knowing it, and without the possibility of the application of a remedy. You feign, nevertheless, the desire of learning the truth, and yet you concealed your name; for what end I know not, unless it be that you well knew that I had it in my power at once to destroy any credit that men might be disposed to give either to yourself or to your fellows. I could conjecture, or rather determine, in a moment who you were, from many evidences furnished by your book. But whether you wrote it with your own hand, or dictated it to Scotus, the trumpeter employed by your band of madmen, that he might carry to Paris things that you dared not utter here, is a matter of utter unconcern to me. I would, indeed, that some other were the author of the book, or that you yourself were another man from what you are. But that will never be until you shall have once tasted what true virtue and honesty are. For although you have ever spoken respectfully to me, yet, how great your natural propensity to cavilling is I have never any difficulty in discovering and being fully assured. This evil inclination which you have indulged in so many puerile and futile exhibitions of it I have endeavoured to correct, but in vain; because, to that natural propensity, there was always appended a depraved affectation, which led you to hunt after the praise for learning and wit, even by the most frigid and more than insipid attempts at jesting on Divine subjects. Nor can you by any means cover these your vain attempts under the shadow of the authority of Socrates, who (you say) was accustomed to attack many things that were said against his doctrine with sharp sarcasm in return. That excellent man was one endowed with many and eminent virtues, of all which, however, he marred the brightness by this one frailty and defect, which you thus, with as much failure as anxiety, attempt to imitate.

You, moreover, ask me to send you "such a refutation of your vain script as shall be understood by the people." I have never done otherwise than study to accommodate myself to the capacity of the most humble and unlettered reader, by adopting the purest and simplest language of instruction. But if you will acknowledge none other mode of reasoning than that which the natural mind of an earthly mortal can receive, you at once shut up against yourself, by pride and disdain, the only way of approach to the comprehension of that doctrine, to the knowledge of which the first step is reverence. I am by no means ignorant of the sarcastic sneers of yourself and of all like you, who treat the deep mysteries of God with a contempt, which indicates that, in your estimation, everything loses its grace and its authority which does not at once meet your opinion and approbation. For what, pray, is the meaning of all this, that the moment anyone chooses to open his mouth against me, I must be called upon to furnish a refutation of his slanders? Now Socrates, whose name you thus brandish before you, would not have suffered himself to be put in such a position. He would not have yielded to the dictation of such a law to him. Not that I would follow any man in everything. But if anyone, not only in this, but in any other age, was ever permitted constantly to set himself, with indignation, against the wicked, and to refute their calumnies against him as Socrates did, surely even the most malevolent and iniquitous will grant me also a fair opportunity of exercising the same kind of diligence in my defence. Your barking, therefore, is the more intolerable. For you trample with blind ignorance on my numerous books of self-defence and of reply to my adversaries, and call upon me to do the same work of refutation twice or thrice over.

You affirm; however, that there is one question in particular on which the arguments of my enemies against me are too powerful to be refuted by the contents of any of my books which I have as yet written upon the subject. That question, you say, is the great subject of predestination, or fate. I would that you could resolve either to inquire into that subject modestly, or to argue upon it honestly, rather than thus to cast off all shame and to confound in one things the most diverse from each other, in order to prevent all true light from falling upon them. Fate is a term given by the Stoics to their doctrine of necessity, which they had formed out of a multiplex labyrinth of contradictory reasonings; a doctrine calculated to call God Himself to order, and to set Him laws whereby to work. But Predestination I define to be, according to the Holy Scriptures, that free and unfettered counsel of God by which He rules all mankind, and all men and things, and also all parts and particles of the world by His infinite wisdom and incomprehensible justice. Now if the depravity of mind and the lust of cavilling and diabolical pride have so blinded you, that you can see nothing in the mid-day light; yet to readers who really have eyes which can see, the distinction I have laid down shows, in a moment, the great justice and equity (!) of your quarrelling with God in the profound matter of His "Secret Providence."

Add to this, had you but been willing to look into my books, you would have been convinced at once how offensive to me is the profane term fate; nay, you would have learned in reading my writings that this same abhorrent term was cast in the teeth of Augustine by the malignity and hatred of the wicked and the worthless of his day; and you would also have discovered in my testimony that these objections were replied to by that holy father and godly teacher in a manner which would fully answer every purpose of my own cause and defence upon the present occasion.

In the Articles also (purporting to be extracts from my books), which you say you will give the public in your proposed order, you will find that my manner and substance of argument are precisely the same with those of that holy father of happy memory. Malevolent ones, however, knowing that this doctrine was not well known, nor generally received, have boastingly published abroad these Articles (which are partly false and partly mutilated), that the ignorant and inexperienced might be fired with hatred of their contents, and might not be able to form any but the most unfavourable judgment concerning them. And though many persons thought, at the first sight of them, that the articles put forth in Augustine's day were really extracts from his writings; yet, the holy father bitterly complains that they were imputed to him falsely. For the compilers of them had either put together short portions of sentences, with evil industry, or else had, with wicked art, corrupted sentences which were whole and true and godly by the crafty introduction of a few words, thus wholly altering the original, that they might hereby create offence in the minds of the simple. And all honest and sincere readers (many of whom will gladly take the pains to compare my doctrine with thy base calumnies) will discover that the articles which you now boast you will put forth as extracted from my writings, are of precisely the same description as those which were published abroad in Augustine's day, purporting to be true extracts from his books.

And first of all I take this stand against you, that you act neither kindly nor honestly in not affixing any marks of designation or reference to the passages purporting to be extracts from my books, so that readers might refer to the originals and assure themselves that I really had written as the extracts represent. And what can be more iniquitous than confusedly to state, that in the course of fifty or more volumes written by me, some fourteen articles were found of such and such a description? Now had you possessed one drop of common honesty, you would have cited, as a matter of course, my sentences verbatim; or, if you had met with any doubt or danger in so doing, from want of the realities and originals, you would have warned your readers against the doubtfulness of the text in such cases; whereas now you cast a shade of doubt over all my writings together, hoping thereby to destroy all good memory of them from the earth. And thus, that in my books, which might have been read without any offence at all, you have, for your own convenience, malignantly corrupted and exposed to hatred and contempt. And though I do not altogether condemn Augustine for his prudence, where, wishing to meet the craft and iniquity of his enemies, he tempers his modes of reply to them so as to escape odium; yet, according to my views, my reply to you will be more generally useful if I refute in this great cause your revilings freely, openly and unreservedly, than if I so write as to convey the least idea whatever of retreat or tergiversation.




Extracted from the Latin, as well as the French,
Books of John Calvin on






This is the FIRST ARTICLE I shall produce. And now hear what arguments are brought by your adversaries against it.





Your opponents maintain that this article is contrary to nature, and contrary to the Scripture. With respect to nature, they affirm that every animal loves its own offspring. Now this nature is given of God, whence it follows that God also loves His own offspring; for God would not cause all animals to love their own offspring, unless He Himself loved His own offspring. And this position they prove in the following manner from Isaiah lxvi. 9: "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth?" As if He had said, "That which I cause others to do, I also do myself. Now I cause others to bring forth; therefore I also bring forth." By a parity of reasoning, therefore, they derive this argument and its conclusion: God causes all animals to love their own offspring. Therefore He Himself also loves His own offspring. Now all men are the offspring of God. For God is the Father of Adam, from whom all men sprung. But to create men to perdition is not an act of love, but of hatred. Therefore, God did not create anyone to perdition. And, again, they argue: "Creation is a work of love, not of hatred. Therefore, God created all men in love, not in hatred." And again, "No beast is so cruel (to say nothing of man) that it would desire to create its young to misery. How much less, then, shall such a desire be found in God! Would not God in such a case of creation be less kind and merciful than the wolf which He has created?" Christ argues in this way: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall God?" (Matt. vii. 11.) It is just thus that your adversaries argue. They say, If Calvin, though an evil man, yet would not wish to beget a child unto misery, how much less shall God desire to do so? These and like arguments your opponents bring forward with respect to nature.

But with reference to the Scripture they reason thus: God saw that "all things" which He had made were "very good." Such therefore was man, whom also He had made "very good." But what if God created him to destruction? If such be the case, God created that which "was very good" to destruction and perdition, and therefore He must love to destroy! But that is a thing impious, even in thought. And again, they argue: God created one man and placed him in Paradise, which is a life of happiness. Therefore God created all men for a happy life, for all men were created in the one man. And if all men fell in Adam, it follows that all men stood in Adam, and also in the very condition in which Adam stood. And further, God says, "I would not the death of a sinner;" and again, it is written that God "willeth not that any should perish, but that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. ii. 4). Farther, if God created the greatest part of the world to perdition, it follows that His anger is greater than His mercy, and it consequently follows also that His anger is shewn "unto the third and fourth generation." Whereas, "it is evident, on the contrary, that His mercy extends "even unto the thousandth generation!"









That on which you seize as your FIRST ARTICLE is, "that God, by His pure and mere will, created the greatest part of the world to perdition." Now, all this "the greatest part of the world unto perdition" and "by His own pure and mere will" is a perfect fiction, and a production from the workshop of your own brain. For although God did certainly decree from the beginning everything which should befall the race of man, yet such a manner of speech as the saying that the end or object of God's work of creation was destruction or perdition, is nowhere to be found in my writings. Just like an unclean hog, therefore, you root up with your foul snout all doctrine that is of sweet odour, hoping to find in it something filthy and offensive.

In the next place, although my doctrine is that the will of God is the first and supreme cause of all things, yet I everywhere teach that wheresoever in His counsels and works the cause does not plainly appear, yet that there is a cause which lies hidden in Himself, and that according to it He has decreed nothing but that which is wise and holy and just. Therefore, with reference to the sentiments of the schoolmen concerning the absolute, or tyrannical, will of God, I not only repudiate, but abhor them all, because they separate the justice of God from His ruling power. Now see, then, thou unclean dog, how much thou hast gained, and how far thou hast advanced thy cause by this thy impudent barking. For myself, while I subject the whole human race to the will of God, I at the same time ever affirm that God never decrees anything but with the most righteous reason, which reason (though it may at the present time be unknown to us) will assuredly be revealed to us at the last day in all its infinite righteousness and Divine perfection.

You thrust in my face, and impudently upbraid me with, the "pure and mere will of God," which idea I, in a hundred or more passages of my books, utterly repudiate. Meantime, I freely acknowledge my doctrine to be this: that Adam fell, not only by the permission of God, but by His very secret counsel and decree; and that Adam drew all his posterity with himself, by his Fall, into eternal destruction. Both these positions, it seems, give you great offence, as being (according to your account) "contrary to nature, and to the Scripture." You attempt to prove it to be contrary to nature, because every animal naturally loves its own offspring; whence you argue that, therefore, God, who gave such a natural affection to brute beasts, ought not, certainly, less to love all men, seeing that they are His offspring. Your argument and thought are infinitely too coarse and low, and infinitely beneath the mightiness of the matter, when you demand of God, the eternal Author of nature, just what He right fully demands of the ox and the ass: which He has created. As if God Himself ought to be bound by the same laws as those which He has appointed for the creatures which He has made! That every animal might propagate its own kind, He has implanted in each animal the desire of that propagation. Go thou, then, and expostulate with God, and ask Him how it is that from all eternity He has remained content with Himself, and has retained His own native excellency and glory barren, as it were, and unpropagated! God ought certainly ever to be consistent with Himself. If thou, therefore, art to be our judge in the mighty and stupendous matter, God has violated the order by choosing rather to be without all offspring, than to exercise His fruitfulness!

Moreover, as all brute beasts fight for their offspring, even unto death, how is it (according to your doctrine) that God permits His helpless offspring to be torn in pieces and devoured by tigers, and bears, and lions, and wolves? Is it because His hand is too short, so that He cannot stretch it down out of heaven for their defence! See you not how wide a field lies open to me, if I were inclined to expose and condemn all your idle and absurd reasonings! But I will content myself with dwelling on one point only, and let that suffice. Proofs of the love of God towards the whole human race exist innumerable, all which demonstrate the ingratitude of those who perish or come "to perdition." This fact, however, forms no reason whatever why God should not confine His especial or peculiar love to a few, whom He has, in infinite condescension, been pleased to choose out of the rest!

When God was pleased to adopt unto Himself the family of Abraham, He thereby most plainly testified that He did not embrace the whole of mankind with an equal love. When, again, God rejected Esau, the elder, and chose Jacob, the younger brother, He gave a manifest and signal proof of His free love, of that love with which He loves none others than those whom He will! Moses declares aloud that one certain nation was beloved of God, while all nations beside were passed by and disregarded as to any peculiar love of God for them. The prophets everywhere testify that the Jews exceeded and surpassed all other nations in excellency and importance, for no other reason than because God freely loved them.

Again, Christ is not addressing the whole human race, nor indeed the whole Jewish nation, but God's little chosen flock alone, when He says, and not in vain, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke xii. 32) By which Christ intimates that none experience the favour of God unto the hope of eternal life but those whom He has rendered acceptable and well-pleasing unto Himself by His only-begotten Son! But if you are determined to make God subject to the laws of nature, you must necessarily accuse and condemn Him of injustice, because, on account of the fault of one man we are all involved in the guilt and desert of eternal death. One man sinned, and we are all dragged to punishment. And not that only, but by the pollution of one we are all drawn into the contagion, and are born corrupt and infected with a deadly disease. What have you to say to this noble Teacher and Judge? Will you accuse the blessed God of cruelty, because He has thus precipitated all His offspring into ruin by the Fall of one man? For although Adam destroyed both himself and all his offspring, yet the corruption and the guilt of that Fall of one man must necessarily be ascribed to the secret counsel and decree of God! For the fault of one man could have had nothing to do with us, had not our heavenly Judge been pleased to consign us to eternal destruction on the account!

Now only reflect, for a moment, how craftily you apply those passages of the prophet Isaiah as a covering for your error (Isa. liv. 1; xlix. 19-21, etc.). As it seemed beyond all belief that the Church of God, in her Babylonish captivity, being not only bereft of her children, but also barren in her power to produce more, should, by the recovery of her strength, become even more fruitful than she was before, God in these passages speaks, as it were, thus to her: "Am not I, by whose power women conceive and bring forth, able to raise up an offspring to thee also?" Because God speaks thus to His Church, you, under this pretext, would force Him to assume the affections of any kind of animal. And you daringly reason that, because God causes all animals to love their own offspring, He also loves all His own offspring, namely, the whole race of mankind. And suppose, for a moment, that I grant you this; it will not, therefore, at once follow that God loves His own in the same manner as beasts love their own. And, in the next place, if God does love His own, it does not the less follow that He has a right to reject, as a just Judge, those to whom He had in vain shown His love and indulgence throughout their whole lives as the kindest Father.

But you are ready to reply next, that "to create is a work of love, not of hatred; and that God therefore created in love, not in hatred." But you perceive not, that though all men are hateful to God in fallen Adam, yet that in their original creation the love of God shines in all its brightness. That argument, therefore, which you think is so very plausible, any other person, endowed with the most moderate judgment, and with common equity, acknowledges in a moment to be frivolous and vain. That which you next add, I do not consider it my duty so much to refute, as to cut down at once with the stroke of the sword. It is indeed evident that men are born to misery. But is the cause of this to be imputed to my writings? Whence arises this miserable condition of us all, that we are subject not only to temporal evils, but to eternal death? Does it not arise from the solemn fact that, by the Fall and fault of one man, God was pleased to cast us all under the common guilt? In this miserable ruin of the whole human race, therefore, it is not my opinion only that is plainly seen, but it is the work of God Himself that is so openly undeniably manifest.

Meantime, you hesitate not to vomit forth your profane and abhorrent opinion that God is worse than any wolf, who thus wills to create men to misery. Some men, be it remembered, are born blind, some deaf, some dumb, some of monstrous deformity. Now, if we are to go by your opinion as the judge in these sacred and deep matters, God is also cruel, because He afflicts His offspring with such evils as these, and that, too, before they have seen the light. But the day, be thou assured, will come when thou wilt heartily wish that thou hadst been blind, rather than thou hadst ever been so wonderfully sharp-sighted in thus penetrating into these secrets of the eternal God!

You accuse God of injustice; nay, you declare Him to be nothing above a monster, if He dares to decree anything, concerning men otherwise than we ourselves should determine concerning our own children. If so, how shall we account for God's creating some dull of comprehension, others of greater incapacity, others quite idiots? Do you really think that the work of God's creation, with reference to such imperfect mortals, was really according to the fables of some Jews about the Fauns and Satyrs? For they say that God was prevented from completing the form of these latter monsters by the intervention of the Sabbath, and therefore that they fell, half-made, from His hands. No! It rather becomes us to receive a deep and humbling lesson from such sad spectacles as these defective human beings, and not to commence a quarrel with the Maker of heaven and earth, from the conceptions of our own brain, concerning His works, or what, in our opinion, they ought to have been. When any idiot happens to meet me; I am admonished to reflect upon what God might have made me, had He been so pleased As many dull of comprehension and idiots as there are in the world, so many spectacles does God set before me in which to behold His power; not less a subject of awe than a subject of wonder.

But as for you, you brawl against God Himself with all impiety and profanity, as "being less merciful than a wolf," because (according to your opinion) He has so little considered the good and happiness of His offspring! Now, before the saying of Christ?" that God, because He is good, acts more kindly towards His children than men do, who are evil" (Matt. vii. 11)?can be called in to favour your opinions and arguments, you must prove that all men are equally the children of God. But it is evident that all men lost in Adam eternal life, and that, therefore, the adoption of God is an act of special grace; whence it will follow that all those are the rather hated of God who are thus estranged and alienated from Him. All the testimonies of the Scripture which you cite are mere javelins, hurled at random by the hand of a madman, as where you quote that word, "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. 1. 31). For from this text you conclude that man was also "very good." And from this you next infer that God was unjust in creating that which was "good" to perdition.

In what sense, however, man was created upright by nature I have explained in many parts of my writings. Man certainly was not better than the devil was, before the latter lost his angelic uprightness. And now, suppose I were to cede to you for a moment that both men and apostate angels were created unto salvation, and yet that God, having respect to their future Fall, condemned both to eternal destruction, what would you gain from this concession to help you in supporting your arguments? God most certainly knew what would take place, both in men and in apostate angels, and He also decreed at the same time what He Himself would do.

With reference to the doctrine of permission, we will speak of that hereafter in its place. But for the present, if you should be disposed to reply that the foreknowledge of God is not the cause of evils, I would only ask you this one question: If God foresaw the destruction both of man and of the devil before He created them, and did not, at the same time, decree their destruction, why did He not apply, betimes, an adequate remedy, which should prevent their Fall and their liability thereto? The devil, from the very beginning of the world, alienated himself from the hope of salvation. And man, as soon as he was created, destroyed both himself and his posterity with a deadly destruction. If, therefore, the preservation of both was in the hand of God, how was it that (if He had not decreed their destruction) He permitted their ruin? Nay, why did He not furnish each with at least some small degree of ability to stand? To what circuitous reasonings soever, therefore, you have recourse I shall be able to hold you fast to this principle, that although man was created weak and liable to fall, yet that this weakness contained in it a great blessing, because man's Fall immediately afterwards taught him that nothing out of God is either safe, or secure, or enduring. Hence, therefore, it is made evident that all which you prate about men having been created unto salvation, is an argument mutilated and halt, and laid down without adequate consideration. For the truth is, that when I am confessing that there was nothing in man, when created, contrary to salvation, I am thereby and therein proving that salvation was predestinated for all men.

Let me repeat this same argument very briefly in other words. What I mean is, that if we argue on that perfection of nature with which Adam was gifted at his first creation, we may say that he was created unto salvation, because in that perfectness of his first created state there was found no cause of death. But if we carry the question up to God's secret predestination, we are met by that deep abyss which ought at once to transport us into wonder and admiration. The fact is, that had you but been gifted with the least feeling of godly reverence, you would, in a moment, acknowledge that this is not a question concerning the completeness of man's original perfection, but concerning the will of God and the decree of God. The state of the sacred case is as if the Holy Spirit had said to you, "Nothing of excellency was wanting in any of the creatures at their creation; but rather, all occasion was taken away from you, and from all like you, of contending against God." For how loudly soever you and yours may deny that there was any "good" in man being so created and conditioned, as that he should, by his immediate Fall, destroy himself and the whole world, yet God Himself declares that such a condition of things pleased Him! Therefore, it was most just and righteous.

And that you may the more correctly understand Moses, he does not (remember!) declare how upright and perfect man was, but that he might stop the barkings of all dogs, like yourself, he teaches that the whole order of the Creation was so tempered of God, that nothing more just or more perfect can be imagined. Wherefore, when Moses comes to speak of all the several works of God collectively, he says that "God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good" (Gen. i. 31). But Moses affirms no such thing concerning man, individually, specially and absolutely, in every sense. Having narrated man's creation also, the sacred historian concludes by saying, in words which apply generally to the whole creation, that all the things which God had made were "very good" in which words are doubtlessly to be comprehended, as in harmony with them, the words of Solomon also, where he affirms that the wicked were created "for the day of evil." "The Lord hath made all things for Himself; yea. even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4).

Take, then, the sum of the whole matter to be this: though man, at his first creation, was in his newly created nature "good," yet this rectitude, which was weak, frail and liable to fall, militates not against, nor stands in contrariety with, the predestination of God, by which predestination it was that man perished by his sin and fault, though his nature was by creation pure. Nay, looking at, and arguing from, his primitive natural excellency, man was created in this view and sense to salvation. And yet, from this very line of argument, you vainly, absurdly and preposterously infer that man was created "good" that he might perish, though "good" or as a good man. Whereas, it is openly and undeniably manifest that he perished by his infirmity and sin; and, therefore, that he perished as one liable to righteous condemnation and destruction. And how these two propositions and positions agree and harmonise with each other we will show hereafter, as we have indeed shown again and again before.

Here you throw in the common objection "that God has no pleasure in the death of a sinner," as declared by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. xxxiii. 11). But listen, I pray you, to that which, in the prophet, immediately follows, "Because God inviteth all men to repentance" (Ezek. xviii. 30~32). To all such, therefore, as return into the way of life pardon is freely offered. But the next and principal thing to be considered herein is, whether or not that conversion or "returning" which God requires (ver. 30) is in the power of man's free-will, or whether it be a peculiar and sovereign gift of God! Inasmuch, therefore, as all men are invited and exhorted by God to repentance, the prophet, on that ground. justly declareth that God "hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner." But why, it is that God doth not turn or convert all and alike men to Himself, equally, is a question the reply to which lies hidden in Himself. And as to your usual way of citing that passage of the apostle Paul, "That God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. ii. 4), How vain a prop that is to put under your error to support it. I think I have shown with sufficient plainness already, and that repeatedly. For it is (so to speak) more certain than certainty itself that the apostle is not, in that passage, speaking of individuals at all, but of orders of men in their various civil and national vocations. He had just before commanded that the public prayers of the Church should be offered up for kings and others in authority, and for all who held magisterial offices, of what kind and degree soever they may be. But as nearly all those who were then armed with the sword of public justice were open and professed enemies to the Church, and as it might therefore seem to the Church singular or absurd that public prayers should be offered up for them, the apostle meets all objections, so very natural, by admonishing the Church to pray even for them also, and to supplicate God to extend His grace and favour even to them, for the Church's quiet, peace and safety.

There is, perhaps, a stronger colour in some of the words of Peter, which might have better suited your purposes, where he says that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. iii. 9). And if there be anything in the first member of the passage that seems difficult of comprehension at first sight, it is made perfectly plain by the explanation which follows. For, in as far as God "willeth that all should come unto repentance," in so far He willeth that no one should perish; but, in order that they may thus be received of God, they must "come." But the Scripture everywhere affirms, that in order that they may "come," they must be prevented of God; that is, God must come first to them to draw them; for until they are drawn of God, they will remain where they are, given up to the obstinacy of the flesh. Now if there were one single particle of right judgment in you, you would, in a moment, acknowledge that there is a wide and wonderful difference between these two things—that the hearts of men are made of God "fleshly" out of "stony" hearts, and that it is thus that they are made to be displeased and dissatisfied with themselves, and are brought, as suppliants, to beg of God mercy and pardon; and that after they are thus changed, they are received into all grace.

Now God declares that both these things are of His pure goodness and mercy; that He gives us hearts that we may repent, and then pardons us graciously upon our repentance and supplication. For if God were not ready to receive us when we do truly implore His mercy, He would not say, "Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you" (Zech. i. 3). But if repentance were in the power of the free-will of man, Paul would not say, "If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim. ii. 26). Nay, if God Himself, who exhorts all men to repentance by His voice—if God Himself, I repeat, who thus exhorts, did not draw His elect by the secret operation of His Spirit, Jeremiah would not thus describe those who do return: "Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned; for Thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented" (Jer. xxxi. 19). This solution of the matter (I repeat,) if there were any shame or modesty in so impudent a dog as thyself, ought to have been known to thee as existing in my writings in a hundred different places. And although thou mayest take it upon thyself to reject such a solution, it nevertheless stands supported and confirmed both by the apostle Paul and by the prophet Ezekiel.

But how, and in what sense it is, that God willeth all men to be saved is a matter not here to be inquisitively discussed. One thing is certain, that these two things—salvation and the knowledge of the truth—are always inseparably joined together. Now, then, answer me, If God had willed that His truth should be known unto all men, how is it that, from the first preaching of the Gospel until now, so many nations exist unto whom His pure truth has never been sent by Him at all, and unto whom, therefore, it has never come? And, again, if such had been the will of God concerning all men, how is it that He never opened the eyes of all? For the internal illumination of the Spirit, with which God has condescended to bless so few, is indispensably necessary unto faith. And there is also another knot for thee to untie. Since no one but he who is drawn by the secret influence of the Spirit can approach unto God, how is it that God does not draw all men indiscriminately to Himself, if He really "willeth all men to be saved" (in the common meaning of the expression)?

It is, therefore, an evident conclusion, flowing from this discrimination which God makes, that there is, with Him, a secret reason why He shuts so many out from salvation. How it is, therefore, that the mercy of God is shown unto the thousandth generation thou wilt never (as long as the pride by which thou art inflated shall blind and blunt thy faculties) acknowledge. For no such mercy is promised as that which shall utterly abolish the curse under which the whole race of Adam lieth; but such a mercy is promised as shall (where all naturally existing obstacles are removed) break forth and endure for ever, upon the most unworthy.

In this manner it was that God passed by many of the children of Abraham when He chose the one of them, Isaac. So also, when the twin sons of Isaac were born, the same God willed that His mercy should rest on one of them only, namely, on Jacob. And again, although God shows forth proofs of His wrath in many, it nevertheless remaineth eternally true that He is "abundant in goodness" and "slow to anger"; and hence, in that very longsuffering with which He endures the reprobate, there shineth forth no dim refulgence of His great goodness. Only observe, therefore in what an effectual manner thy frivolous and captious objections, from which I can disengage myself in a moment, entangle, ensnare and imprison thyself!

In order to make the mercy of God greater than His anger, you will have more to be chosen to salvation than to destruction. And suppose I should for a moment cede this to you, what greater glory will thereby be secured to God? None whatever. God will nevertheless be as unjust as ever to those few who are lost (if your calumnies are to be received and believed). Unless God love all His created offspring alike, you will still profanely and awfully pronounce Him to be less kind and merciful than a wolf! Nay, let there be but one only against whom God shall righteously exercise His wrath, how shall He escape or avoid the accusation of cruelty in your blind and unholy judgment! Farther still, you will not even allow, as exceptions from the impious and profane charges of cruelty in God, that there are gross provocations of His Divine wrath in the men themselves! But, comparing alone wrath with mercy, you merely contend for the magnitude of the one or the other. Just as if God, by choosing more to salvation than to destruction, would thereby, and thereby alone, prove Himself to be a merciful God! God, however, commends the greatness of His grace to us in a manner far different from this. He not only pardons so many, and such various sins, in His elect, but even contends with, and bears with, the obstinate malice of the reprobate, until it has filled up the measure of its iniquity (Matt. xxiii. 32).










Your opponents say that this SECOND ARTICLE is the doctrine of the devil, and they demand of me, Calvin, that I would tell them where, in the Divine Scriptures, the substance contained in this Article is written?






&c., &c.


Under this SECOND ARTICLE you appear again exactly the same man as before. Now just produce the passage from my writings wherein I teach "that the apple was placed by God before Adam, that it might be the cause of his fall." This, in fact, is the very source of all your popularity—the drawing of a cloud of obscuration across the minds of the inexperienced, to prevent them from rising to the height of that truth which is removed out of the reach of the common understanding of the flesh and of the carnal mind.

But not to wrangle about words, I willingly, and in a moment, confess that what I have written is this: "That the Fall of Adam was not by accident, nor by chance; but was ordained by the secret counsel of God." And this is the doctrine which you positively pronounce to be "the doctrine of the devil." You are, in your own eyes, I know, a judge of the highest authority, and therefore it is that, in your self-conceit, you imagine that you can, by five words of the foulest abuse, knock down that firm fabric of truth which I have erected, after which I have supported by the most impregnable arguments. You call upon me to produce a testimony from the Scriptures, from which it is manifest that Adam fell not, but by the secret decree of God. But had you read even a few pages of my writings with any attention, that sentiment of mine could not have escaped you which everywhere occurs in my books—that God governs all things by His secret counsel and decree. You ascribe a prescience to God after your own fashion, representing Him as sitting in heaven as an idle, inactive, unconcerned spectator of all things in the life of men. Whereas, God Himself, ever vindicating to Himself the right and the act of holding the helm of all things which are done in the whole world, never permits a separation of His prescience from His, power! Nor is this manner of reasoning mine only, but most certainly Augustine's also. "If (says that holy father) God foresaw that which He did not will to be done, God holds not the supreme rule over all things. God, therefore, ordained that which should come to pass, because nothing could have been done had He not willed it to be done."

If you judge this to be absurd, you will be just as far off as before, and will fall back into the same confusion into which you fell by making my doctrine to be "the doctrine of the devil." For you ought to have applied that remedy for your evil case, which might have been ready at your hand. But that you did not this, nor could do it, is perfectly plain. You might have thought thus, "God foresaw the Fall of Adam. It was in His power to have prevented it if He would. But He did not will to do so. Why did He not will to do so? No other reason can be assigned for His not willing to do so than that His will had quite another bent, or inclination." But, if you will permit yourself to enter into a contention with God, you had better profanely accuse Him at once and condemn Him, for having so made man of constitutional frailty as to leave him liable to fall, and that into eternal ruin on the account! But you will reply that Adam fell by his own free-will. My reply to you in return is, that Adam had need of being gifted with that fortitude and constancy with which the elect of God are gifted whom God warns to "keep" sound and safe "from falling" (Jude 24).

Most certain it is that if fresh strength were not supplied to us from heaven every moment, such is our liability to fall, that we should perish a thousand times over. But God supplies all those whom He hath chosen with an invincible fortitude, by which they are so holden up as to "persevere unto the end." How was it, then, I again ask, that God did not bestow this same fortitude and perseverance on Adam, if He had willed that he should stand fast and in safety? Here, most assuredly, every mouth must be silent and dumb; or, all must confess with Solomon, that "God hath made all things for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4). If this offend you as being an absurdity, think within yourself whether the Scriptures declare so often in vain that the judgments of God are "a great deep." If it were possible for us to measure the incomprehensible counsel of God by the standard of our own human capacity, Moses would have said in vain: "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever" (Deut. xxix. 29).

You demand of me to cite the place in the Holy Scriptures by which I prove that God did not prevent the Fall of Adam, because His will was not to prevent it. Just as if that memorable reply of God to all such inquiries and inquirers did not contain in itself an all-sufficient proof: "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." From which the apostle Paul at once concludes, and justly so, that God hath not mercy upon all, because He wills not to have mercy upon all. And most certainly these words, without the aid of any interpreter, plainly and loudly declare that God is not bound by any law that should compel Him to show mercy unto all men indiscriminately and alike; but that He is the Lord of His own will, to impart pardon to whom He will and to pass by others as He will. It is, moreover, certain that God was the same then as now, when the prophet said of Him, "He doeth according to His will" (Dan. iv. 35). If, therefore, God permitted the Fall of Adam against His will (as you would have it), you will next say that He was overcome by Satan in the conflict; and thus you will make, like the Manichees, two ruling principles. But Paul, pleading also this great cause of God, compares Him (and that soberly and solemnly) to a potter, who could of his own will form of the same mass vessels of different kinds as he pleased. Now the apostle might have begun his argument had he been so led from sin. But he does not so. He commences the mighty subject by defending the free right of God from the very beginning of His glorious workmanship, even from His secret eternal and sovereign will. And where he afterwards adds, :That all were concluded under unbelief," does he teach that this took place contrary to, or without, the will of God? Does he not, on the contrary, teach that God was the author of that state of unbelief? If you reply that all were condemned to unbelief as they deserved, the context will not admit even that interpretation, because Paul is there speaking of the secret judgments of God. And that solemn exclamation of his directly militates against such an interpretation, "O the depth!" etc. Wherefore, as God, from the beginning, predestinated Christ to succour those who were lost, so by His inconceivable and inestimable counsel He decreed a way by which He might manifest forth His glory by the Fall of Adam.

I willingly confess that where God is vindicating the free course of His mercy, He speaks of the whole human race generally, which had already perished in Adam; but this same view and consideration held good before Adam fell, that His will was then all-sufficient to show mercy when and as He pleased. Moreover, this His eternal will, though it depends on none and on nothing but Himself, nor has any prior cause to influence it, is nevertheless founded in the highest reason and in the highest equity. For though in the case of men they require a law to rein and restrain their intemperateness it is far otherwise with God. He is His own law—a law unto Himself! And His will is the highest rule of the highest equity.

Return to the Home Page Return to the Main Highway 

 Go to Section II Go to Section II

Return to the Predestination Index Return to the Predestination Index 

Return to Calvin's Calvinism Index Return to Calvin's Calvinism Index


Go to the Resource Page