15 Quotes from “Institutes of the Christian Religion: Book Two”

This is the second post in a four part series. The first post had a list of quotes from Book One of Calvin’s Institutes. If you’re only going to read the quote lists of this book, I’d encourage you to go back and read that list. If you want to read the whole thing, you can purchase the full volume here.

In Book One Calvin took up the topics of God, Scripture, and man’s knowledge of God and himself. Here in Book Two, Calvin deals primarily with God the Redeemer in Christ. In this he takes us through the topics of the fall, the Law, the incarnation, and the atonement. For a bit more background on all four books you can read an overview by Ligonier Ministries here.

Here are 15 of my favorite quotes from Book Two. Enjoy!

1. Book 2.1.5.

The orthodoxy, therefore, and more especially Augustine, labored to show that we are not corrupted by acquired wickedness, but bring an innate corruption from the very womb.

2. Book 2.1.8.

Original sin, then, may be defined a hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature, extending to all the parts of the soul, which first makes us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and then produces in us works which in Scripture are termed works of the flesh.

3. Book 2.3.2.

If these are the hereditary properties of the human race, it is vain to look for anything good in our nature. I confess, indeed, that these iniquities do not break out in every individual. Still it cannot be denied that the hydra lurks in every breast. For as a body, while it contains and fosters the cause and matter of disease, cannot be called healthy, although pain is not actually felt; so a soul, while teeming with such seeds of vice, cannot be called sound.

4. Book 2.3.14.

But the matter cannot be more briefly summed up than in the eighth Chapter of [Augustine’s] treatise De corroptione et gratia, where he shows, first, that human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty. Secondly, that by means of the same grace, the heart being impressed with a feeling of delight, is trained to persevere, and strengthened with invincible fortitude. Thirdly, that while grace governs the will, it never fails; but when grace abandons it, it falls forthwith. Fourthly, that by the free mercy of God, the will is turned to good, and when turned, preservers. Fifthly, that the direction of the will to good, and its constancy after being so directed, depend entirely on the will of God, and not on any human merit. Thus, the will (free will, if you choose to call it so), which is left to man, is, as he in another place (Epist. 46) describes it, a will which can neither be turned to God, nor continue in God, unless by grace; a will which, whatever its ability may be, derives all that ability from grace.

5. Book 2.6.2.

From all this it is abundantly plain, that as the Lord cannot be propitious to the human race without a Mediator, Christ was always held forth to the holy fathers under the Law as the object of their faith.

6. Book 2.8.11.

God thus divided his Law into two parts, containing a complete rule of righteousness, that he might assign the first place to the duties of religion which relate especially to his worship, and the second to the duties of charity which have respect to man.

7. Book 2.8.20.

First, let us examine whether such punishment is inconsistent with the divine justice. If human nature is universally condemned, those on whom the Lord does not bestow the communication of his grace must be doomed to destruction; nevertheless, they perish by their own iniquity, not by unjust hatred on the part of God. There is no room to expostulate, and ask why the grace of God does not forward their salvation as it does that of others.

8. Book 2.8.50.

He requires a mind so admirably arranged as not to be prompted in the sliest degree contrary to the law of love.

9. Book 2.9.4.

But the gospel has not succeeded the whole Law in such a sense as to introduce a different method of salvation. It rather confirms the Law, and proves that everything which it promised is fulfilled. What was shadow, it has made substance.

10. Book 2.11.4.

Hence the Savior, in giving the cup to his disciples in the Last Supper, calls it the cup of the new testament in his blood; intimating, that the covenant of God was truly realized, made new, and eternal, when it was sealed with his blood.

11. Book 2.11.14.

With the feeling common to every pious mind, let us not doubt that everything which God has done has been done wisely and justly, although we may be ignorant of the cause which required that it should be done so. We should arrogate too much to ourselves were we not to concede to God that he may have reasons for his counsel, which we are unable to discern.

12. Book 2.16.2.

But again, let him be told, as Scripture teaches, that he was estranged from God by sin, an heir of wrath, was exposed to the curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, a complete alien from the blessing of God, the slave of Satan, captive under the yoke of sin; in fine, doomed to horrible destruction, and already involved in it; then that Christ interposed, took the punishment upon himself, and bore what by the just judgement of God was impending over sinners; with his own blood expiated the sins which rendered them hateful to God, by this expiation satisfied and duly propitiated God the Father, by his intercession appeased his anger, on this basis founded peace between God and men, and by this tie secured the divine benevolence toward them…

13. Book 2.16.13.

Our salvation may be thus divided between the death and the resurrection of Christ: by the former sin was abolished and death annihilated; by the latter righteousness was restored and life revived, the power and efficacy of the former being still bestowed upon us by means of the latter.

14. Book 2.16.14.

Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his former power; or rather, the promise which he made to be with us even to the end of the world, he fulfilled by this ascension, by which, as his body has been raised above all heavens, so his power and efficacy have been propagated and diffused beyond al the bounds of heaven and earth.

15. Book 2.16.19.

If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that he possesses it; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in his unction; strength in his government; purity in his conception; indulgence in his nativity, in which he was made like us in all respects, in order that he might learn to sympathize with us: if we seek redemption we shall find it in his passion; acquittal in his condemnation; remission of the curse in his cross; satisfaction in his sacrifice; purification in his blood; reconciliation in his descent to hell; certification of the flesh in his sepulcher; newness of life in his resurrection; immortality also in his resurrection; the inheritance of celestial kingdom in his entrance into heaven; protection security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in his kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to him.