Calvin the Calvinist: The Fourth Argument Against Pighius (of Seven)

john calvin

The fourth argument: That all religion is done away [by our doctrine] and human beings are turned into brute beasts, or rather monsters, before which [argument] Pighius goes rigid with wonder like a stone. You would suppose that someone is speaking here who is ardently concerned about religion, as if he were not everywhere breathing forth mouthfuls of Romish theology whose first axiom is: You should believe as much about God as you like, or find useful. But leaving the man on one side, let us see how true what he alleges is. We say that man not only cannot do anything good but cannot even think it, so that he may learn to depend totally on God and, despairing of himself, to cast himself entirely upon him; and so that [man] may give the credit, if he has done anything good, to God and not to himself, and not render the praise to God for his good works in half measure only, but fully and wholly, leaving nothing for himself but the fact that he has received whatever he has from God. We say that man has inborn in him a perversity derived from inherited corruption, so that he should blame himself whenever he sins and not fix the blame elsewhere when he finds the root of evil in his own self. We say that human affairs are not, by some blind or random chance, turned this way and that, but are controlled by the fixed purpose of God, so that nothing can happen other than what he has decreed at the beginning. All things are subject to his power, and so there is no created thing which does not, either of its own accord or under coercion, obey his will. Accordingly everything that happens happens of necessity, as he has ordained. Satan too and all the wicked are submissive to his authority, so that they cannot move beyond what he has commanded, for they are constrained by his hand as though by a bridle or a halter, so that now he restrains them, since it pleases him to do so, and how he drives them on and guides them to execute his judgments. All this [teaching] has no other purpose but to make the believer rest, free from anxiety, in the omnipotence of God. He then will fear neither fortune not chance and will not be afraid for himself because of wild animals or human beings or devils, as though the reins had been let go or broken and they came on under their own impulse without any control from above. Instead he will entrust his soul and body to God and so, with a calm and tranquil mind, sink back into the protection of him whose will he knows determines everything and whose hand brings everything to pass. Moreover, since this entire teaching trains a person only to be humble, to fear God, to place his trust in God, and to ascribe glory to God, which are the chief components of true religion, there is no reason why Pighius should direct so awful an accusation against us.

John Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will: A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice against Pighius (pgs. 38-39)

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