from INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
"Our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us
that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness.
We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot
aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves."
Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 1
"For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we
are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity."
Book 1, Chapter 1, Section 2
"For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is
the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from
him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him,
they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity."
Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 1
"...All men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of
ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare."
Book 1, Chapter 2, Section 2
"It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few
individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection
... I readily acknowledge, that designing men have introduced a
vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them
with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious; but they never could have
succeeded in this, had the minds of men not been previously imbued with that uniform belief in God, from which,
as from its seed, the religious propensity springs."
Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 2
"In saying that some fall away into superstition, I mean not to insinuate that their excessive
absurdity frees them from guilt; for the blindness under which they labour is almost invariably accompanied
with vain pride and stubbornness."
Book 1, Chapter 4, Section 1
"In attestation of his wondrous wisdom, both the heavens and the earth present us with innumerable proofs
not only those more recondite proofs which astronomy, medicine, and all the
natural sciences, are designed to illustrate, but proofs which force themselves on the notice of the most illiterate
peasant, who cannot open his eyes without beholding them. It is true, indeed, that
those who are more or less intimately acquainted with those liberal studies are thereby assisted and enabled
to obtain a deeper insight into the secret workings of divine wisdom."
Book 1, Chapter 5, Section 2
"But herein appears the shameful ingratitude of men. Though they have in their own persons a factory where innumerable
operations of God are carried on, and a magazine stored with treasures
of inestimable value, instead of bursting forth in his praise, as they are bound to do, they, on the contrary, are
the more inflated and swelled with pride."
Book 1, Chapter 5, Section 4
"Like water gushing forth from a large and copious spring, immense crowds of gods have issued from the human mind,
every man giving himself full license, and devising some peculiar form of divinity, to meet his own views. It is
unnecessary here to attempt a catalogue of the superstitions with which the world was
overspread. The thing were endless; and the corruptions themselves, though not a word should be said, furnish abundant
evidence of the blindness of the human mind. I say nothing of the rude
and illiterate vulgar; but among the philosophers who attempted, by reason and learning, to pierce the heavens,
what shameful disagreement! The higher any one was endued with genius, and
the more he was polished by science and art, the more specious was the colouring which he gave to his opinions.
All these, however, if examined more closely, will be found to be vain show."
Book 1, Chapter 5, Section 12
"A most pernicious error has very generally prevailed, viz. that Scripture is of importance only in so far as
conceded to it by the suffrage of the Church; as if the eternal and
inviolable truth of God could depend on the will of men... On the determination of the Church, therefore, it is said,
depend both the reverence which is due to Scripture, and
the books which are to be admitted into the canon. Thus profane men, seeking, under the pretext of the Church,
to introduce unbridled tyranny, care not in what absurdities
they entangle themselves and others, provided they extort from the simple this one acknowledgement, viz. that
there is nothing which the Church cannot do."
Book 1, Chapter 7, Section 1
"Paul testifies that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, (Eph. 2:20).
If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its
certainty before the latter began to exist...
For if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the
preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may
be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church, since, but for this, the Church
herself never could have existed. Nothing therefore can be
more absurd than the fiction, that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church, and that on her nod its
Book 1, Chapter 7, Section 2
"But although God, in order to
keep us within the bounds of soberness, treats sparingly of his essence, still, by the two attributes which I have
mentioned, he at once suppresses all gross imaginations, and checks the audacity of the human mind. His immensity surely
ought to deter us from measuring him by our sense, while his spiritual nature forbids us to indulge in carnal or
earthly speculation concerning him."
Book 1, Chapter 13, Section 1
"Because it is said that God breathed
into man's nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7), [the Manichees] thought that the soul was a transmission of the
substance of God; as if some portion of the boundless divinity had passed
into man. It cannot take long time to show how many gross and foul absurdities this devilish error carries in its train.
For if the soul of man is a portion transmitted from the essence of God, the divine nature must not only be liable to
passion and change, but also to ignorance, evil desires, infirmity, and all kinds of vice. There is nothing more
inconstant than man, contrary movements agitating and distracting his soul. He is ever and anon deluded by want of
skill, and overcome by the slightest temptations; while every one feels that the soul itself is a receptacle for
all kinds of pollution. All these things must be attributed to the divine nature, if we hold that the soul is of
the essence of God, or a secret influx of divinity."
Book 1, Chapter 15, Section 5
"Hence the great darkness of philosophers
who have looked for a complete building in a ruin, and fit arrangement in disorder. The principle they set out with
was, that man could not be a rational animal unless he
had a free choice of good and evil. They also imagined that the distinction between virtue and vice was destroyed,
if man did not of his own counsel arrange his life. So far
well, had there been no change in man. This being unknown to them, it is not surprising that they throw every thing
into confusion. But those who, while they profess to be
the disciples of Christ, still seek for free-will in man, notwithstanding of his being lost and drowned in spiritual
destruction, labour under manifold delusion, making a
heterogeneous mixture of inspired doctrine and philosophical opinions, and so erring as to both."
Book 1, Chapter 15, Section 8
"But when once the light of Divine Providence has illumined the believer's soul, he is relieved and set free, not
only from the extreme fear and anxiety which formerly
oppressed him, but from all care. For as he justly shudders at the idea of chance, so he can confidently commit
himself to God. This, I say, is his comfort, that his heavenly
Father so embraces all things under his power -- so governs them at will by his nod -- so regulates them by his wisdom,
that nothing takes place save according to his
appointment; that received into his favour, and entrusted to the care of his angels neither fire, nor water, nor sword,
can do him harm, except in so far as God their master is pleased to permit."
Book 1, Chapter 17, Section 11
"...Although the Greek Fathers, above others, and especially Chrysostom, have exceeded due bounds in extolling the
powers of the human will, yet all ancient theologians, with
the exception of Augustine, are so confused, vacillating, and contradictory on this subject, that no certainty can
be obtained from their writings. It is needless, therefore, to be more particular in
enumerating every separate opinion. It will be sufficient to extract from each as much as the exposition of the subject
seems to require. Succeeding writers (every one courting applause for his
acuteness in the defence of human nature) have uniformly, one after the other, gone more widely astray, until the
common dogma came to be, that man was corrupted only in the sensual part of his nature, that reason remained entire,
and will was scarcely impaired."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 4
"...Free will does not enable any man to perform good works, unless he is assisted by grace; indeed, the special grace
which the elect alone receive through regeneration. For I stay not to consider the extravagance of those who say that
grace is offered equally and promiscuously to all."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 6
"...Augustine hesitates not to call the will a slave. In another passages he is offended with those who deny free will;
but his chief reason for this is explained when he says, 'Only lest any one should presume so to deny freedom of will,
from a desire to excuse sin.' It is certain he elsewhere admits, that without the Spirit the will of man is not free,
inasmuch as it is subject to lusts which chain and master it. And again, that nature began to want liberty the moment
the will was vanquished by the revolt into which it fell. Again,
that man, by making a bad use of free will, lost both himself and his will. Again, that free will having been
made a captive, can do nothing in the way of righteousness. Again, that
no will is free which has not been made so by divine grace. Again, that the righteousness of God is not fulfilled
when the law orders, and man acts, as it were, by his own strength,
but when the Spirit assists, and the will (not the free will of man, but the will freed by God) obeys...
In another place, after showing that free will is established by grace, he strongly inveighs against those who
arrogate any thing to themselves without grace."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 8
"As to the will, its depravity is but too well known...
Therefore, since reason, by which man discerns between good and evil, and by which he understands and judges, is
a natural gift, it could not be entirely destroyed; but being partly
weakened and partly corrupted, a shapeless ruin is all that remains. In this sense it is said, (John 1: 5,) that
"the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not;"
these words clearly expressing both points, viz., that in the perverted and degenerate nature of man there are still
some sparks which show that he is a rational animal, and differs from the brutes, inasmuch as he is endued with
intelligence, and yet, that this light is so smothered by clouds of darkness that it cannot shine forth to any good
effect. In like manner, the will, because inseparable from the nature of man, did not perish, but was so enslaved by
depraved lusts as to be incapable of one righteous desire."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 12
"To charge the intellect with perpetual blindness, so as to leave it no intelligence of any description whatever,
is repugnant not only to the Word of God, but to common experience.
We see that there has been implanted in the human mind a certain desire of investigating truth, to which it never
would aspire unless some relish for truth antecedently existed.
There is, therefore, now, in the human mind, discernment to this extent, that it is naturally influenced by the love
of truth, the neglect of which in the lower animals is a proof of
their gross and irrational nature. Still it is true that this love of truth fails before it reaches the goal,
forthwith falling away into vanity."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 12
"...We have one kind of intelligence of earthly things, and another of heavenly things."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 13
"We must now explain what the power of human reason is, in regard to the kingdom of God, and spiritual discernments
which consists chiefly of three things - the knowledge of
God, the knowledge of his paternal favour towards us, which constitutes our salvation, and the method of
regulating of our conduct in accordance with the Divine Law. With
regard to the former two, but more properly the second, men otherwise the most ingenious are blinder than
moles. I deny not, indeed, that in the writings of philosophers we
meet occasionally with shrewd and apposite remarks on the nature of God, though they invariably savour somewhat
of giddy imagination. As observed above, the Lord has
bestowed on them some slight perception of his Godhead that they might not plead ignorance as an excuse for their
impiety, and has, at times, instigated them to deliver some
truths, the confession of which should be their own condemnation. Still, though seeing, they saw not."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 18
"To the great truths, What God is in himself, and what he is in relation to us, human reason makes
not the least approach."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 18
"So indulgent is man towards himself, that, while doing evil, he always endeavours as much as he can to suppress the
idea of sin. It was this, apparently, which
induced Plato (in his Protagoras) to suppose that sins were committed only through ignorance."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 22
"But if the whole man is subject to the dominion of sin, surely the will, which is its principal seat, must be
bound with the closest chains. And, indeed, if divine grace were preceded by
any will of ours, Paul could not have said that 'it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do,'
(Philip. 2: 13.) Away, then, with all the absurd trifling which many have indulged in with regard to preparation."
Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 27
"Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases.
If it is asked how the difference arises - why some steadily persevere, and others prove deficient in
steadfastness, we can give no other reason than that the Lord, by his mighty power, strengthens and sustains the former,
so that they perish not, while he does not furnish the same assistance to the latter, but leaves them to be
monuments of instability."
Book 2, Chapter 5, Section 3
"No saint ever will attain to perfection, so long as he is in the body."
Book 2, Chapter 7, Section 5
"...Let us take a succinct view of the office and use of the Moral Law. Now this office and use seems to me to consist of
three parts. First, by exhibiting the righteousness of God, - in other words, the righteousness which alone is acceptable
to God, - it admonishes every one of his own unrighteousness, certiorates, convicts, and finally condemns him. This is
necessary, in order that man, who is blind and intoxicated with self-love, may be
brought at once to know and to confess his weakness and impurity."
Book 2, Chapter 7, Section 6
"The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb
those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice."
Book 2, Chapter 7, Section 10
"The third use of the Law (being also the principal use, and more closely connected with its proper end) has respect to
believers in whose hearts the Spirit of God already flourishes and reigns...
For it is the best instrument for enabling them daily to learn with greater truth and certainty what that will of the
Lord is which they aspire to follow, and to confirm them in this knowledge...
The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man,
inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him
forward when he would indulge in sloth."
Book 2, Chapter 7, Section 12
"Great numbers, on hearing the term [faith], think that nothing more is meant than a certain common assent to the
Gospel History; nay, when the subject of faith is discussed in the Schools, by simply representing God as its object,
they by empty speculation, as we have elsewhere said, (Book 2, chap. 6, sec. 4,) hurry wretched
souls away from the right mark instead of directing them to it. For seeing that God dwells in light that is
inaccessible, Christ must intervene."
Book 3, Chapter 2, Section 1
"This evil, therefore, must, like innumerable others, be attributed to the Schoolmen, who have in a manner drawn a veil
over Christ, to whom, if our eye is not directly turned, we must always wander through many labyrinths.
But besides impairing, and almost annihilating, faith by their obscure definition, they have invented the fiction of
implicit faith... Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the Church?
Faith consists not in ignorance, but in knowledge - knowledge not of God merely, but of the divine will. We do not
obtain salvation either because we are prepared to embrace every dictate of the Church as true, or leave to the
Church the province of inquiring and determining; but when we recognize God as a propitious Father through the
reconciliation made by Christ, and Christ as given to us for righteousness, sanctification, and life."
Book 3, Chapter 2, Section 2
"We shall now have a full definition of faith, if we say that it is a firm and sure knowledge of the divine favor
toward us, founded on the truth of a free promise in Christ, and revealed to our minds, and sealed on our hearts,
by the Holy Spirit."
Book 3, Chapter 2, Section 8
"Indulgences declare that Paul and others died for us. Paul elsewhere says that Christ purchased the Church with his
own blood, (Acts 20: 28.) Indulgences assign another purchase to the blood of martyrs. 'By one offering he has perfected
for ever them that are sanctified,' says the Apostle, (Heb. 10: 14.) Indulgences, on the other hand, insist that
sanctification, which would otherwise be insufficient, is perfected by martyrs. John says that all the saints
'have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,' (Rev. 7: 14.) Indulgences tell us to wash
our robes in the blood of saints."
Book 3, Chapter 5, Section 2
"Indeed, as their whole doctrine is a patchwork of sacrilege and blasphemy, this is the most blasphemous of the whole.
Let them acknowledge whether or not they hold the following dogmas: That the martyrs, by their death, performed
more to God, and merited more than was necessary for themselves, and that they have a large surplus of merits
which may be applied to others; that in order that this great good may not prove superfluous, their blood is
mingled with the blood of Christ, and out of both is formed the treasury of the Church, for the forgiveness
and satisfaction of sins."
Book 3, Chapter 5, Section 3
"...From what was lately said, that the blood of Christ is the only satisfaction,
expiation, and cleansing for the sins of believers, what remains but to hold that purgatory is mere blasphemy,
horrid blasphemy against Christ?"
Book 3, Chapter 5, Section 6
"When, therefore, my opponents object, that it has been the practice for thirteen hundred years to offer prayers
for the dead, I, in return, ask them, by what word
of God, by what revelation, by what example it was done? For here not only are passages of Scripture wanting, but
in the examples of all the saints of whom we read, nothing of the kind is seen... Even those who in ancient times
offered prayers for the dead, saw that they were not supported by the command of God and legitimate example.
Why then did they presume to do it?... they sought a solace for their sorrow, and it seemed cruel not to give some
attestation of their love to the dead, when in the presence of God."
Book 3, Chapter 5, Section 10
"I call it not humility, so long as we think there is any good remaining in us. Those who have joined together
the two things, to think humbly of ourselves before God and yet hold our own
righteousness in some estimation, have hitherto taught a pernicious hypocrisy."
Book 3, Chapter 12, Section 6
"Paul uniformly declares that the conscience can have no peace or quiet joy until it is held for certain that we are
justified by faith. And he at the same time declares whence this certainty is derived, viz., when 'the love of God is
shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost,' (Rom. 5: 5;) as if he had said that our Souls cannot have peace
until we are fully assured that we are pleasing to God."
Book 3, Chapter 13, Section 5
"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."
Book 3, Chapter 16, Section 1
"Many repeat prayers in a perfunctory manner from a set form, as if they were performing a task to God, and
though they confess that this is a necessary remedy for the evils of their condition, because it were fatal to be
left without the divine aid which they implore, it still appears that they perform the duty from custom, because
their minds are meanwhile cold, and they ponder not what they ask. A general and confused feeling of their necessity
leads them to pray, but it does not make them solicitous as in a matter of present consequence, that they may
obtain the supply of their need... There is another fault which seems less heinous, but is not to be tolerated. Some
murmur out prayers without meditation, their only principle being that God is to be propitiated
by prayer. Believers ought to be specially on their guard never to appear in the presence of God with the intention
of presenting a request unless they are under some serious impression, and are, at
the same time, desirous to obtain it."
Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 6
"One of the requisites of legitimate prayer is repentance. Hence the common declaration of Scripture, that God does
not listen to the wicked; that their prayers, as well as their sacrifices, are an abomination to him. For it is right
that those who seal up their hearts should find the ears of God closed against them, that those who, by their
hardheartedness, provoke his severity should find him inflexible."
Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 7
"The third rule to be added is: that he who comes into the presence of God to pray must divest himself of all
vainglorious thoughts, lay aside all idea of worth; in short, discard all self-
confidence, humbly giving God the whole glory, lest by arrogating any thing, however little, to himself,
vain pride cause him to turn away his face."
Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 8
"The only prayer acceptable to God is that which springs (if I may so express it) from this presumption of faith,
and is founded on the full assurance of hope... Nay, the immense accumulation of our sins should
rather spur us on and incite us to prayer."
Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 12
"In regard to the saints who having died in the body live in Christ, if we attribute prayer to them, let us not
imagine that they have any other way of supplicating God than through Christ who
alone is the way, or that their prayers are accepted by God in any other name."
Book 3, Chapter 20, Section 21
"By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined
with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some
are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as
each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.
This God has testified, not only in the case of single individuals; he has also given a
specimen of it in the whole posterity of Abraham, to make it plain that the future condition of each nation lives
entirely at his disposal: "When the Most High divided to the nations their
inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children
of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his
inheritance," (Deut. 32:8, 9). The separation is before the eyes of all; in the person of Abraham, as in a withered
stock, one people is specially chosen, while the others are rejected..."
Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 5
"We say, then, that Scripture clearly proves this much, that God by his eternal and immutable
counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom,
on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. We maintain that
this counsel, as regards the elect, is founded on his free mercy, without any respect to human worth, while those
whom he dooms to destruction are excluded from access to life by a just and
blameless, but at the same time incomprehensible judgment."
Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 7
"Ambrose, Origin, and Jerome, were of opinion, that God dispenses his grace among men according to the use which he
foresees that each will make of it. It may be
added, that Augustine also was for some time of this opinion; but after he had made greater progress in the
knowledge of Scripture, he not only retracted it as evidently false,
but powerfully confuted it (August. Retract. Lib. 1, c. 13)."
Book 3, Chapter 22, Section 8
"...the early Church distributed all its ministers into three orders. For from the order of presbyters, part were
selected as pastors and teachers, while to the remainder was committed the censure of manners and discipline.
To the deacons belonged the care of the poor and the dispensing of alms. Readers and Acolytes were
not the names of certain offices; but those whom they called clergy, they accustomed from their youth to serve the
Church by certain exercises, that they might the better
understand for what they were destined, and afterwards come better prepared for their duty, as I will shortly show
at greater length. Accordingly, Jerome, in setting forth five
orders in the Church, enumerates Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, Believers, Catechumens: to the other Clergy and Monks
he gives no proper place."
Book 4, Chapter 4, Section 1
"All, therefore, to whom the office of teaching was committed, they called presbyters, and in each city these
presbyters selected one of their number to whom they gave the
special title of bishop, lest, as usually happens, from equality dissension should arise."
Book 4, Chapter 4, Section 2
"As to the fact, that each province had an archbishop among the bishops and, moreover, that, in the Council of Nice,
patriarchs were appointed to be
superior to archbishops, in order and dignity, this was designed for the preservation of discipline, although,
in treating of the subject here, it ought not to be omitted, that the
practice was very rare. ...To the government thus constituted some gave the name of Hierarchy -- a name, in my opinion,
improper, certainly one
not used by Scripture. For the Holy Spirit designed to provide that no one should dream of primacy or domination
in regard to the government of the Church."
Book 4, Chapter 4, Section 4
"But we nowhere read of its being said to any other, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church'!
(Mt. 16:18);... Peter [it is said by the Roman Catholic Church] is above others, because the name was specially
given to him. I willingly concede to Peter the honour of being placed among the first
in the building of the Church, or (if they prefer it) of being the first among the faithful; but I will not allow
them to infer from this that he has a primacy over others. For
what kind of inference is this? Peter surpasses others in fervid zeal, in doctrine, in magnanimity; therefore,
he has power over them: as if we might not with greater plausibility infer, that Andrew is prior to Peter in order,
because he preceded him in time, and brought him to Christ (John 1:40, 42); but this I omit. Let Peter have the
preeminence, still there is a great difference between the honour of rank and the possession of power.
We see that the Apostles usually left it to Peter to address the meeting, and in some
measure take precedence in relating, exhorting, admonishing, but we nowhere read anything at all of power."
Book 4, Chapter 6, Section 5
"...Is there no authority in the definitions of councils? Yes, indeed; for I do not contend that all councils are to
be condemned, and all their acts rescinded, or, as it is said, made one complete erasure. But you are bringing them all
(it will be said) under subordination, and so leaving every one at liberty to receive or
reject the decrees of councils as he pleases. By no means; but whenever the decree of a council is produced,
the first thing I would wish to be done is, to examine at what time it was held, on what occasion, with what
intention, and who were present at it; next I would bring the subject discussed to the standard of Scripture."
Book 4, Chapter 9, Section 8
"...Those ancient Councils of Nice, Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and the like, which were held for
refuting errors, we willingly embrace, and reverence as sacred, in so far as relates to doctrines of faith, for they
contain nothing but the pure and genuine interpretation of Scripture, which the holy
Fathers with spiritual prudence adopted to crush the enemies of religion who had then arisen. In some later councils,
also, we see displayed a true zeal for religion, and
moreover unequivocal marks of genius, learning, and prudence. But as matters usually become worse and worse, it is
easy to see in more modern councils how much the
Church gradually degenerated from the purity of that golden age... Opinions being numbered,
not weighed, the better were obliged to give way to
the greater number. They certainly put forth many impious sentiments."
Book 4, Chapter 9, Section 8
"...Necessity ought not to be laid on consciences in
matters in which Christ has made them free; and unless freed, cannot, as we have previously shown (Book 3 chap. 19),
have peace with God. They must acknowledge Christ their deliverer, as their only king, and be ruled by the only law
of liberty -- namely, the sacred word of the Gospel -- if they would retain the grace which they have once received
in Christ: they must be subject to no bondage, be bound by no chains."
Book 4, Chapter 10, Section 1
"Let us now return to human laws. If they are imposed for the purpose of forming a religious obligation, as if the
observance of them was in itself necessary, we say that the
restraint thus laid on the conscience is unlawful. Our consciences have not to do with men but with God only."
Book 4, Chapter 10, Section 5
"Under the apostles there was great simplicity in administering the Lord's
Supper. Their immediate successors made some additions to the dignity of the ordinance, which are not to be disapproved.
Afterwards came foolish imitators, who, by ever
and anon patching various fragments together, have left us those sacerdotal vestments which we see in the mass,
those altar ornaments, those gesticulations, and whole farrago of useless observances."
Book 4, Chapter 10, Section 19
"A holy and lawful fast has three ends in view. We use it either to mortify and subdue the flesh, that it may not wanton,
or to prepare the better for prayer and holy
meditation; or to give evidence of humbling ourselves before God, when we would confess our guilt before him."
Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 15
"...Let us define what fasting is; for we do not understand by it simply a restrained and sparing use of food,
but something else. The life of the pious should be tempered with frugality and sobriety, so as to exhibit, as much as
may be, a kind of fasting during the whole course of life. But there is another
temporary fast, when we retrench somewhat from our accustomed mode of living, either for one day or a certain period,
and prescribe to ourselves a stricter and severer restraint in the use of that ordinary food. This consists in
three things -- viz. the time, the quality of food, and the sparing use of it."
Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 18
"But the first thing always to be avoided is, the encroachment of superstition, as formerly happened, to the great
injury of the Church... Fasting in itself is not of great value in the sight of God, unless accompanied with internal
affection of the heart, true dissatisfaction
with sin and with one's self, true humiliation, and true grief, from the fear of God; nay, that fasting is useful for
no other reason than because it is added to these as an inferior help. There is nothing which God more abominates
than when men endeavour to cloak themselves by substituting signs and external appearance for integrity of
heart... Another evil akin to this, and greatly to be avoided, is, to regard fasting as a meritorious work and
species of divine worship."
Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 19
"Then the superstitious observance of Lent had everywhere prevailed: for both the vulgar imagined that they thereby
perform some excellent service to God, and pastors
commended it as a holy imitation of Christ; though it is plain that Christ did not fast to set an example to others,
but, by thus commencing the preaching of the gospel,
meant to prove that his doctrine was not of men, but had come from heaven."
Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 20
"Worse times followed. To the absurd zeal of the vulgar were added rudeness and ignorance in the bishops, lust of power,
and tyrannical rigour. Impious laws were passed, binding the conscience in deadly chains. The eating of flesh was
forbidden, as if a man were contaminated by it. Sacrilegious opinions were added, one after another, until all
became an abyss of error."
Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 21
"Augustine, while tracing out a holy and legitimate monasticism, would keep away all rigorous exaction of those things
which the word of the Lord has left free. But in the present day
nothing is more rigorously exacted. For they deem it an inexpiable crime if any one deviates in the least degree from
the prescribed form in colour or species of dress, in the kind of food, or in other frivolous and frigid ceremonies.
Augustine strenuously contends that it is not lawful for monks to live in idleness on other men's means. (August. De
Oper. Monach.) He denies that any such example was to be found in his day in a well-regulated monastery. Our monks
place the principal part of their holiness in idleness."
Book 4, Chapter 13, Section 10
"By this contrast between ancient and modern monasticism, I trust I have gained my object, which was to show that our
cowled monks falsely pretend the example of the
primitive Church in defence of their profession; since they differ no less from the monks of that period than apes
do from men."
Book 4, Chapter 13, Section 16
"For the truth of God is in itself sufficiently stable and certain, and cannot receive a better confirmation from
any other quarter than from itself. But as our faith is slender and weak, so if it be not
propped up on every side, and supported by all kinds of means, it is forthwith shaken and tossed to and fro, wavers,
and even falls. And here, indeed, our merciful Lord, with
boundless condescension, so accommodates himself to our capacity, that seeing how from our animal nature we are always
creeping on the ground, and cleaving to the flesh,
having no thought of what is spiritual, and not even forming an idea of it, he declines not by means of these earthly
elements [the sacraments] to lead us to himself, and even in the flesh to
exhibit a mirror of spiritual blessings."
Book 4, Chapter 14, Section 3
"Sacraments, therefore, are exercises which confirm our faith in the word of God; and because we are carnal, they
are exhibited under carnal objects, that thus they may train us in accommodation to our sluggish capacity, just as
nurses lead children by the hand. And hence Augustine calls
a sacrament a visible word (August. in Joann. Hom. 89), because it represents the promises of God as in a picture,
and places them in our view in a graphic bodily form (August. cont. Faust. Lib. 19)."
Book 4, Chapter 14, Section 6
"The sacraments duly perform their office only
when accompanied by the Spirit, the internal Master, whose energy alone penetrates the heart, stirs up the affections,
and procures access for the sacraments into our souls. If
he is wanting, the sacraments can avail us no more than the sun shining on the eyeballs of the blind, or sounds
uttered in the ears of the deaf."
Book 4, Chapter 14, Section 9
"For the schools of the Sophists have taught with general consent that the sacraments of the new law, in other words,
those now in use in the Christian Church, justify, and confer
grace, provided only that we do not interpose the obstacle of mortal sin. It is impossible to describe how fatal and
pestilential this sentiment is, and the more so, that for many
ages it has, to the great loss of the Church, prevailed over a considerable part of the world. It is plainly of the
devil: for, first, in promising a righteousness without faith, it
drives souls headlong on destruction; secondly, in deriving a cause of righteousness from the sacraments, it entangles
miserable minds, already of their own accord too much
inclined to the earth, in a superstitious idea, which makes them acquiesce in the spectacle of a corporeal object
rather than in God himself. I wish we had not such
experience of both evils as to make it altogether unnecessary to give a lengthened proof of them. For what is a
sacrament received without faith, but most certain destruction to the Church?"
Book 4, Chapter 14, Section 14
"Nor is it to be supposed that baptism is bestowed only with reference to the past, so that, in regard to new lapses into
which we fall after baptism, we
must seek new remedies of expiation in other so-called sacraments, just as if the power of baptism had become obsolete...
We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life.
Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to
feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though, when once
administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ was
therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it wipes and washes away all our
Book 4, Chapter 15, Section 3
"...Both the children of the Jews, because, when made heirs of that covenant, they were separated from the heathen, were
called a holy seed (Ezra 9:2; Isaiah 6:13), and for the same reason the children of Christians, or those who have only
one believing parent, are called holy, and, by the testimony of the apostle, differ from the impure seed of idolaters
(I Cor. 7:14). Then, since the Lord, immediately after the covenant was made with Abraham ordered it to be sealed,
infants by an outward sacrament (Gen. 17:12), how can it be said that Christians are not to attest it in the present day,
and seal it in their children?"
Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 6
"...Our Saviour, in ordering little children to be brought to him, adds the reason, 'of such is the kingdom of heaven.'
And he afterwards testifies his good will by act, when he embraces them, and with prayer and benediction commends
them to his Father. If it is right that children should be brought to Christ, why should they not be admitted to baptism,
the symbol of our communion and fellowship with Christ? If the kingdom of heaven is theirs, why should they be denied
the sign by which access, as it were, is opened to the Church, that being admitted into it they may be enrolled among
the heirs of the heavenly kingdom..."
Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 7
"Every one must now see that paedobaptism, which receives such strong support from Scripture, is by no means of human
invention. Nor is there anything plausible in the objection, that we no where read of even one infant having been baptised
by the hands of the apostles. For although this is not expressly narrated by the Evangelists, yet as they are not
expressly excluded when mention is made of any baptised family, (Acts 16: 15, 32,) what man of sense will argue from
this that they were not baptised? If such kinds of argument were good, it would be necessary, in like manner, to
interdict women from the Lord's Supper, since we do not read that they were ever admitted to it in the days of the
Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 8
"They seem to think they produce their strongest reason for denying baptism to children, when they allege, that they are
as yet unfit, from nonage, to understand the mystery which is there sealed, viz., spiritual regeneration, which is
not applicable to earliest infancy. Hence they infer, that children are only to be regarded as sons of Adam until
they have attained an age fit for the reception of the second birth. But all this is directly opposed to the truth of God.
For if they are to be accounted sons of Adam, they are left in death, since, in Adam, we can do nothing but die (Rom.
5:12f). On the contrary, Christ bids them be brought to him (Matt. 19:14). Why so? Because he is life. Therefore,
that he may quicken them, he makes them partners with himself; whereas these men would drive them away from Christ,
and adjudge them to death."
Book 4, Chapter 16, Section 17
"I maintain that the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing, because it is made ours by faith, and that that eating
is the effect and fruit of faith; or, if you will have it more clearly, according to them, eating is faith, whereas
it rather seems to me to be a consequence of faith. The difference is little in words, but not little in reality."
Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 5
"I say then, that in the mystery of the Supper, by the symbols of bread and wine, Christ, his body and his blood,
are truly exhibited to us..."
Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 11
"...We are not to dream of such a presence of Christ in the sacrament as the artifices of the Romish court have imagined,
as if the body of Christ, locally present, were to be taken into the hand, and chewed by the teeth, and swallowed by
the throat... Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans, (Rom. 8: 9-1l,) shows that the only way in which Christ dwells in us
is by his Spirit. By this, however, he does not take away that communion of flesh and blood of which we now speak,
but shows that it is owing to the Spirit alone that we possess Christ wholly, and have him abiding in us."
Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 12
"[The Schoolmen] admit that Christ is not contained in the sacrament circumscriptively, or in a bodily manner, but
they afterwards devise a method which they themselves do not understand, and cannot explain to others. It, however,
comes to this, that Christ may be sought in what they call the species of bread. What? When they say that the substance
of bread is converted into Christ, do they not attach him
to the white colour, which is all they leave of it?... Thus the figure of the bread is nothing but a mask which
conceals the view of the flesh from our eye...
Little solicitous as to true faith, (by which alone we attain to the fellowship of Christ, and become one with him,)
provided they have his carnal presence, which they have fabricated without authority from the word, they think he is
sufficiently present. Hence we see, that all which they have gained by their ingenious subtlety is to make bread to
be regarded as God."
Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 13
"They are greatly mistaken in imagining that there is no presence of the flesh of Christ in the Supper, unless it be
placed in the bread. They thus leave nothing for the secret operation of the Spirit, which unites Christ himself to us.
Christ does not seem to them to be present unless he descends to us, as if we did not equally gain his presence when
he raises us to himself. The only question, therefore, is as to the mode, they placing Christ in the
breads while we deem it unlawful to draw him down from heaven. Which of the two is more correct, let the reader judge.
Only have done with the calumny that Christ is withdrawn from his Supper if he lurk not under the covering of bread.
For seeing this mystery is heavenly, there is no necessity to bring Christ on the earth that he may be connected with
Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 31