A Voice from the Past: Assurance And Doubt -- By: John Calvin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 03:2 (Autumn 1990)
Article: A Voice from the Past: Assurance And Doubt
Author: John Calvin


A Voice from the Past:
Assurance And Doubti

John Calvin*

[*John Calvin (1509–1564) is one of the foremost Reformers and biblical exegetes in the history of the Church. Raised and reared a Roman Catholic in his native France, Calvin received an excellent classical education and became a master of Latin style as well as of French.]

I. Section 16

The principal hinge on which faith turns is this—that we must not consider the promises of mercy, which the Lord offers, as true only to others, and not to ourselves; but rather make them our own, by embracing them in our hearts. Hence arises that confidence, which the same apostle in another place calls peace”;1 unless anyone would rather make peace the effect of confidence. It is a security, which makes the conscience calm and serene before the Divine tribunal, and without which it must necessarily be harassed and torn almost asunder with tumultuous trepidation, unless it happen to slumber for a moment in an oblivion of God and itself. And indeed it is but for a moment; for it does not long enjoy that wretched oblivion, but is most dreadfully wounded by the remembrance, which is perpetually recurring, of the Divine judgment. In short, no man is truly a believer unless he be firmly persuaded that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him, and promise himself everything from his goodness; unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation; as the apostle shows in these words: “If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”2 Here he supposes that no man has a good hope in the Lord who does not glory with confidence in being an heir of the kingdom of heaven. He is no

believer, I say, who does not rely on the security of his salvation and confidently triumph over the devil and death, as Paul teaches us in this remarkable peroration:

I am persuaded [says he] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.3

Thus the same apostle is of opinion that “the eyes of our understanding” are not truly “enlightened” unless we discover what is the hope of the eternal inheritance to which we are called.4 And he everywhere inculcates that we have no just apprehensions of the Divine goodness un...

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