Tag Archive - tracts

Jesus Christ Invites Us so Gently to His Table

Communion was no light topic for the reformers. That’s why I’ve enjoyed reading some of Calvin’s writings on the subject. While there is a heavy emphasis on personal examination prior to coming to the table, I enjoyed finding the assurance that even our self examination is to be found wanting and that, eventually, we just have to come in faith and receive the gift of God in the table. Despite our weakness, he bids us come. In The Manner of Celebrating the Lord’s Supper Calvin puts it this way (emphasis mine):

Next, let us not be ungrateful to the infinite goodness of our Saviour, who displays all his riches and blessings at this table, in order to dispense them to us; for, in giving himself to us, he bears testimony to us that all which he has is ours. Moreover, let us receive this sacrament as a pledge that the virtue of his death and passion is imputed to us for righteousness, just as if we had suffered it in our own persons. Let us not be so perverse as to keep back when Jesus Christ invites us so gently by his word; but while reflecting on the dignity of the precious gift which he gives us, let us present ourselves to him with ardent zeal, in order that he may make us capable of receiving him.

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 121.

Of Confidence in the Forgiveness of Sins

John Calvin wrote against the Adultero-German Intrim in his tract The True Method for Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church. However, there is still some really great stuff in there . For instance, there is a great reminder to the church throughout all time the confidence which the have in the powerful blood of Christ. (emphasis mine)

“Then care must be taken that we do not either make men too secure and confident in themselves, or drive them by anxious doubting to despair. Wherefore, since Paul says, (Gal. 2.,) that he was indeed conscious of no sin, but yet by this was not justified, man cannot believe that his sins are forgiven without a doubt of his own weakness or indisposition. But although he ought not to boast in himself, he is not to be so terrified as to doubt the promises of God, and the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ, and despair of obtaining the forgiveness of sins and salvation. All hope, and the assurance of all confidence, ought to be in the precious blood of Christ, which was shed because of us and our salvation. In him alone we both can with certainty, and we ought, to breathe and confide, having the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 201-02.

Righteousness is from Christ Alone

In The True Method of Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church John Calvin helps bring clarity to one of the issues he and many of the other reformers had with the Adultero-German Interim, namely the source of our righteousness. What a helpful reminder to all Christendom (emphasis mine):

On the whole, let us remember that the debate here is not simply concerning the manifold grace of God toward us, but concerning the cause of our Reconciliation with him. This cause, unless it is fixed as one, is null. For Scripture does not tell us to borrow only part of our righteousness from Christ in order to supply what is wanting in our works; but the Apostle plainly declares that Christ himself was made righteousness to us. And in another passage he declares, that men are righteous before God by the very circumstance that our sins are no longer imputed to us. (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:19.)

Do you ever “borrow only part” of the righteousness that comes through Christ and try to make up the rest on your own? Those are troubled waters my friend. Beware. Calvin continues:

In order that ambiguities may be removed, it is necessary that the Righteousness which we obtain by faith, and which is freely bestowed upon us, should be placed in the highest rank, so that, as often as the conscience is brought before the tribunal of God, it alone may shine forth. In this way the righteousness of works, to whatever extent it may exist in us, being reduced to its own place, will never come, as it were, into conflict with the other; and certainly it is just, that as righteousness of works depends on righteousness of faith, it should be made subordinate to it, so as to leave the latter in full possession of the salvation of man. There can be no doubt that Paul, when he treats of the Justification of man, confines himself to the one point—how man may ascertain that God is propitious to him? Here he does not remind us of a quality infused into us; on the contrary, making no mention of works, he tells us that righteousness must be sought without us; otherwise that certainty of faith, which he everywhere so strongly urges, could never stand; still less could there be ground for the contrast between the righteousness of faith and works which he draws in the tenth chapter to the Romans. Wherefore, unless we choose to sport with so serious a matter, (this would be fraught with danger!) we must retain propriety of expression, which carries with it the knowledge of the thing expressed. Were the thing conceded to us by those who entangle this part of the doctrine by their comments, I would easily give up all contest about the word. But those who confound the two kinds of righteousness together, seeing the thing they aim at is to prevent the righteousness of Christ from being entirely gratuitous, are on no account to be borne.

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 246-47.

John Calvin on Works Righteousness

In his tract responding to the Adultero-Germin Interim, Calvin lays clear the relationship between the righteousness that come from faith and the righteousness that comes from works. I found meditating on this to be helpful in finding the balance between the two. One simply flows from the other.

Moreover, we deny not that the righteous are called the children of God, in respect of holiness of life, as well as in respect of a pure conscience: but as no work, if weighed in the Divine balance, will be found otherwise than maimed, and even defiled by impurities, we conclude, that this name of righteousness, when given to works, is founded on free pardon. Believers, therefore, are righteous by works, just because they are righteous without any merit of, or without any respect to works, seeing that the righteousness of works depends on the righteousness of faith.

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 248.

I particularly like Calvin’s imagery of the righteousness from works being “weighed in the Divine balance” and how it is always found wanting.

Bedtime Prayers

John Calvin’s Catechism of the Church of Geneva is appended by “Several Godly Prayers.” Here is Calvin’s prayer before going to sleep: (Other prayers include:prayer in the morning, Prayer before a meal, Prayer for going to school)

O LORD GOD, who hast given man the night for rest, as thou hast created the day in which he may employ himself in labour, grant, I pray, that my body may so rest during this night that my mind cease not to be awake to thee, nor my heart faint or be overcome with torpor, preventing it from adhering steadfastly to the love of thee. While laying aside my cares to relax and relieve my mind, may I not, in the meanwhile, forget thee, nor may the remembrance of thy goodness and grace, which ought always to be deeply engraven on my mind, escape my memory. In like manner, also, as the body rests may my conscience enjoy rest. Grant, moreover, that in taking sleep I may not give indulgence to the flesh, but only allow myself as much as the weakness of this natural state requires, to my being enabled thereafter to be more alert in thy service. Be pleased to keep me so chaste and unpolluted, not less in mind than in body, and safe from all dangers, that my sleep itself may turn to the glory of thy name. But since this day has not passed away without my having in many ways offended thee through my proneness to evil, in like manner as all things are now covered by the darkness of the night, so let every thing that is sinful in me lie buried in thy mercy. Hear me, O God, Father and Preserver, through Jesus Christ thy Son. AMEN.

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 98-99.

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Praying before a Meal

John Calvin’s Catechism of the Church of Geneva is appended by “Several Godly Prayers.” Here is Calvin’s prayer on blessing at the table:

All look unto thee, O Lord; and thou givest them their meat in due season; that thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, and they are filled with all things in abundance. (Ps. 104:27.)

O LORD, in whom is the source and inexhaustible fountain of all good things, pour out thy blessing upon us, and sanctify to our use the meat and drink which are the gifts of thy kindness towards us, that we, using them soberly and frugally as thou enjoinest, may eat with a pure conscience. Grant, also, that we may always both with true heartfelt gratitude acknowledge, and with our lips proclaim thee our Father and the giver of all good, and, while enjoying bodily nourishment, aspire with special longing of heart after the bread of thy doctrine, by which our souls may be nourished in the hope of eternal life, through Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth from the mouth of God. (Deut. 8:3.)

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 97.

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Prayer for the Morning

I recently posted on John Calvin’s Catechism of the Church of Geneva and the appended “Several Godly Prayers.” Another one of his prayers is focused on praying in the morning:

MY GOD, my Father and Preserver, who of thy goodness hast watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of thy most holy deity. Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to thy service and submission to thy will, that thus all my actions may aim at thy glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve thee. And as thou art giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of thy Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of thy righteousness. To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be thy honour and service. May I expect all happiness from thy grace and goodness only. Let me not attempt any thing whatever that is not pleasing to thee.

Grant also, that while I labour for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which thou hast promised to thy children. Be pleased also, in manifesting thyself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life. But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of thee, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under thy protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under thy superintendence. As I ought to make progress, do thou add daily more and more to the gifts of thy grace until I wholly adhere to thy Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds. In order to my obtaining of thee these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of thy infinite mercy, forgive my offences, as thou hast promised that thou wilt do to those who call upon thee in sincerity.

(Ps. 143:8.)—Grant that I may hear thy voice in the morning since I have hoped in thee. Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto thee. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto thee. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Let thy good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 95-96.

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Prayer on Preparing to go to School

John Calvin’s Catechism of the Church of Geneva is appended by “Several Godly Prayers.” Here is Calvin’s prayer on preparing to go to school:

Ps. 119:9. Wherein shall a young man establish his way? If he wisely conduct himself according to thy word. With my heart have I sought thee, allow me not to err from thy precepts.

O LORD, who art the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since thou of thy special goodness hast granted that my youth is instructed in good arts which may assist me to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening my mind, which otherwise labours under blindness, that I may be fit to acquire knowledge; strengthen my memory faithfully to retain what I may have learned: and govern my heart, that I may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which thou now givest me be lost through my sluggishness. Be pleased therefore to infuse thy Spirit into me, the Spirit of understanding, of truth, judgment, and prudence, lest my study be without success, and the labour of my teacher be in vain.

In whatever kind of study I engage, enable me to remember to keep its proper end in view, namely, to know thee in Christ Jesus thy Son; and may every thing that I learn assist me to observe the right rule of godliness. And seeing thou promisest that thou wilt bestow wisdom on babes, and such as are humble, and the knowledge of thyself on the upright in heart, while thou declarest that thou wilt cast down the wicked and the proud, so that they will fade away in their ways, I entreat that thou wouldst be pleased to turn me to true humility, that thus I may show myself teachable and obedient first of all to thyself, and then to those also who by thy authority are placed over me. Be pleased at the same time to root out all vicious desires from my heart, and inspire it with an earnest desire of seeking thee. Finally, let the only end at which I aim be so to qualify myself in early life, that when I grow up I may serve thee in whatever station thou mayest assign me. AMEN.

The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will make known his covenant unto them. (Ps. 25:14.)

John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 96-97.

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The Light and Darkness of “the Interim”

I’ve written two posts (here and here) about some quotes in the Adultero-German Interim that I found particularly impressive and beautiful. I felt a little at odds with myself, writing about a document that Calvin so vehemently opposed. However, I came across a statement of his, from his commentary on Exodus 8:25 where he says (emphasis mine):

Our Pharaohs would altogether extinguish God’s glory, and this they madly set themselves to compass; but when reduced to extremities, if there be no further use in professedly contending with Him, they maim and mutilate His worship by a fictitious course, which they call a reformation. Hence arose that mixture of light and darkness, which was named “the Interim.”

John Calvin and Charles William Bingham, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010), Ex 8:25.

It was good to see that Calvin recognized the mixture of light that is in there. Sure, the document wasn’t favorable to the reformers, but credit where credit is due. There is some beautiful light in there.

To Borrow from his Wounds

John Calvin wrote quiet forcefully against the Adultero-German Intrim in his tract The True Method for Giving Peace to Christendom and Reforming the Church. However, in reading much of the Interim, I found some really great nuggets. For instance, in the description of redemption in the tract is really great:

3. And though God is propitious to us freely, (Rom. 3.,) and for his name’s sake, and wipes away our iniquities for his own sake, yet that he might not remit sins without any price of sanctification, he, for the display of his righteousness, of his incomprehensible wisdom and boundless goodness, mingled righteousness with mercy, and was pleased that a price for redeeming us should be paid by the blood of his own Son, that the punishments which we sinners ought to have suffered, the same that most innocent Lamb should endure on the cross, and we might be able to borrow from his wounds the price of redemption, which we miserable could not pay, and use it for our deliverance and salvation, that while our most gracious Father pities us freely, he does not, however, pity without the intervention of the blood of his own Son, that what is here bestowed on us freely we ought to ascribe to the merit and righteousness of Christ, that whosoever glories may glory in the Lord our Redeemer and Saviour. (Jer. 9.; 1 Cor. 1.)

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 195-96.

I love that line, “and we might be able to borrow from his wounds the price of redemption, which we miserable could not pay.” What a beautiful reminder of God’s gracious kindness to us.

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