Calvin's Doctrine of the Assurance of Faith
a pastoral theology of certainty

by Dr. David B. McWilliams

Even a cursory reading of Calvin's writings highlights the prominence of three united themes, threaded through his corpus: union with Christ, adoption and assurance of faith. So prominent are these themes it may be no exaggeration to assert that his entire theology revolves around them.

Singling out the assurance theme for distinct examination can be fruitful due to the perennial pastoral factors involved. For Calvin the theme is dominant, yet it seldom receives attention from his students in proportion to its prominence in his thought. The purpose of what follows is to provide a succinct summary of this pervasive idea in Calvin's theology, to seek to define the role of the syllogismus practicus in Calvin's thought and finally, to clarify the relationship of Calvin's doctrine to the Westminster standards.


Calvin defines saving faith in this way:

Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise of Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit {1}

Elsewhere he says that "faith is a firm and solid confidence of the heart, by means of which we rest surely in the mercy of God which is promised to us through the Gospel." {2} In both definitions Calvin equates faith with assurance. What factors contributed to this equation?

Calvin's definition has been attributed to his resistance to the positions of Roman Catholic antagonists on assurance. {3} The dissonance between the Reformed and Rome must be given its due weight. In his Reply to Sadolet he denounces the bondage of Rome's position with pastoral fervor:

That confident hope of salvation which is both enjoined by the Word, and founded upon it, had almost vanished. Nay, it was received as a kind of oracle, that it was foolish arrogance, and, as they termed it, presumption for anyone trusting to thy goodness, and the righteousness of thy Son, to entertain a sure and unfaltering hope of salvation.{4}

This pastoral factor unquestionably influenced his choice of language in his definitions of faith.

However, Calvin the pastor was concerned to minister the Word to his context. It was his burning desire to know what the Scriptures teach and to reflect faithfully that reaching {5} Not only the debate with Rome, but Calvin's doctrines of God and of man motivated his approach. As a sinful human contrasts himself with the majesty of God he sees nothing but what is damnable. God's holiness produces a sense of sin which in turn denies assurance.

Where our conscience sees only indignation and vengeance, how can it fail to tremble and be afraid? Or to shun the God whom it dreads? Yet faith ought to seek God, not to shun him.{6}

Calvin's motivation was not alone polemical. He was confronting an overwhelming pastoral issue which faces believers of any age.


A. Faith and the Word

Ronald Wallace correctly observed that in Calvin's thought there is reciprocity between faith and the Word.{7} In his definition of faith in The Institutes he speaks of faith "founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ."{8} Similarly in Instruction in Faith he wrote of faith as the means by which "we rest surely in the mercy of God which is promised to us through the Gospel." He adds significantly:

For thus the definition of faith must be taken from the substance of the promise. Faith rests so much on this foundation that, if the latter be taken away, faith would collapse at once, or, rather, vanish away.{9}

The relationship between faith and the Word is permanent and inseparable.

...we must be reminded that there is a permanent relationship between faith and the Word. He could not separate one from the other anymore than we could separate the rays from the sun from which they came.{10}

Not only is the relationship between faith and the Word permanent and inseparable, it is also exclusive. This foundation of faith in the Word can never be supplanted by any other foundation.

We make the freely given promise of God the foundation of faith because upon it faith properly rests... faith properly begins with the promise, rests in it, and ends in it.{11}

B. Faith and the Sacraments

The sacraments confirm faith in the Word.

The sacraments are instituted by God to this end that they might be exercises of our faith both before God and before men. And certainly before God they exercise our faith when they confirm it in the truth of God. For, the Lord has presented to us the high and heavenly secrets under earthly things, as he knew it to be good for us in the ignorance of our flesh. Not, indeed, that such qualities be inherent in the nature of the things that are offered to us in the sacrament; but because by the Word of the Lord they are marked in this significance. For the promise which is contained in the Word always precedes; the sign is added, which sign confirms and seals that promise and renders it us as more certified.{12}

The sacraments both exercise and confirm faith, not because of some innate quality within the sacraments, but because of the promise of the Word precedes them. The promise, therefore, belongs to both the Word and the sacraments; both together assure believers of God's good will toward them. The inseparable relationship between faith, the Word and the sacraments is evident in the close parallel between his definition of faith and his definition of a sacrament: is an outward sign by which the Lord seals on our consciences the promise of his good will toward us in order to sustain the weakness of our faith..."{13} The sacraments are in this way akin to the preaching of the gospel sealing to the believers conscience the promise of God's good will, confirming faith in the Word.{14}

Therefore, Word and sacraments confirm our faith where they set before our eyes the good will of our Heavenly Father toward us, by the knowledge of whom the whole firmness of our faith stands fast and increases in strength. The Spirit confirms it when, by our engraving this confirmation in our minds, he makes it effective.{15}

The Word and sacraments, therefore, are ineffectual to produce assurance apart from the accompanying power of the Holy Spirit. This leads to the third element in our summary of Calvin's doctrine of assurance.

The Testimony of The Spirit

According to Calvin's definitions of faith it is the Spirit who produces saving faith and that faith finds as its object Christ promised in the Scriptures. Warfield correctly states Calvin's view when he speaks of the Word as the objective factor and of the Spirit as the subjective factor. "The whole objective revelation of God lies, thus, in the Word." "But," observes Warfield, "the whole subjective capacitating for the reception of this revelation lies in the will of the Spirit."{16}

Moreover, the Spirit accomplishes this "subjective capacitating" as the Spirit of adoption. Calvin strongly emphasizes the idea that "no man is a Christian who has not learned, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to call God his father."{17} "The Spirit is the earnest and pledge of our adoption, and gives to us a well-founded belief that God regards us with a father's love."{18}

Clearly Calvin does not conceive of the witness of the Spirit in mystical terms.{19} As already noted, Calvin founded faith upon promise of Scripture which is exercised, confirmed, and increased by the sacraments and made effectual by the Spirit. To the objection that if faith is increased by the sacraments then the Holy Spirit is given in vain, Calvin responded:

I certainly admit to them that faith is the proper and entire work of the Holy Spirit, illumined by whom we recognize God and the treasures of His kindness, and without whose light our mind is so blinded that it can see nothing; so dull that it can sense nothing of spiritual things. But for one blessing of God which they proclaim, we recognize three. For the first, the Lord teaches and instructs us by his Word. Secondly, he confirms it by the sacraments. Finally, he illumines our minds by the light of his Holy Spirit and opens our hearts for the Word and sacraments to enter in, which would otherwise only strike our ears and appear before our eyes, but not at all affect us within.{20}

The Spirit of Christ, then, "never regenerates, but that he becomes also a witness and an earnest of our divine adoption, so as to free our hearts from fear and trembling"{21} but, never apart from the objective Word.

D. Assurance and Election

Perhaps it is Calvin's doctrine of election which can best demonstrate the pervasiveness of his doctrine of assurance and his comprehensive pastoral orientation. In Instruction In Faith Calvin places his discussion of election after his vignette on "We Apprehend Christ Through Faith" and before "What True Faith Is." {22} Election is never treated abstractly by Calvin and certainly never in a way calculated to produce pastoral problems! Calvin, rather, insists that election is the ground of the believer's assurance.

Calvin does not mean that the believer may gaze directly into God's eternal decree. But Calvin quotes with favor a passage from Bernard which indicates that believers may extrapolate from a present assurance to future blessing and confidently infer that the decree of election is behind it all.{23} Thus, when the doctrine of election is received by faith "it is yet a further and more special token by which we perceive that God intends to be our Father and has adopted us to be his children." "For when our Lord intends to assure us of our salvation, he brings us back to his eternal election."{24}

Calvin's view is thoroughly Christocentric. Looking directly at the decree in order "to confirm the certainty of our salvation... can only worry us with a miserable distress and perturbation."{25} What then is the believer to do? He is to look to Christ in whom he has been chosen!

Accordingly, those whom God has appointed as his sons are said to have been chosen not in themselves but in his Christ [Eph. 1:4]; for unless he could love them in him, he could not honor them with the inheritance of his Kingdom if they had not previously become partakers on him. But if we have been chosen in him, we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we conceive him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. For since it is into his body the Father has destined those to be engrafted whom he has willed from eternity to be his own, that he may hold as sons all whom he acknowledges to be among his members, we have a sufficiently clear and firm testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life[cf. Rev. 21:27] if we are in communion with Christ. {26}

In writing against Pighius he affirmed:

But I do not merely send men off to the secret election of God to await with gaping mouth salvation there. I bid them make their way directly to Christ in whom salvation is offered us, which otherwise would have lain in God. For whoever does not walk in the plain path of faith can make nothing of the election of God but a labyrinth of destruction. Therefore, that the remission of sins may be a certainty to us, our consciences rest in confidence of eternal life, and we call upon God as Father without fear, the beginning is not to be made here. We must begin with what is revealed in Christ concerning the love of the Father for us and what Christ Himself daily preaches to us through the Gospel... nor is tranquil peace to be found elsewhere than in the Gospel.{27}


Since assurance is found in Christ and not in ourselves is there no place to examine my life for evidences to confirm my relationship with Christ? Is there no syllogismus practicus in Calvin?

Often that a syllogismus practicus has any place in Calvin's theology has been denied. {28} Yet, to say that the works of the believer have nothing to do with assurance does not do justice to Calvin's thought.

In examining the various stands of Calvin's thought on this subject one must first understand that the Calvin the promise of God's love and good will to sinners is a personal promise to each believer. Calvin frequently uses incredibly strong language on the assurance aspect of faith. Faith does not merely believe that God saves sinners, in faith the believer is assured that God saves me. The Scriptures form the basis of "full assurance", which puts beyond doubt God's goodness clearly manifested for us." {29} The "chief hinge" on which faith turns is "that we do not regard the promises of mercy that God offers as true only outside ourselves, but not at all in us, rather that we make them ours by inwardly embracing them." {30} Again:

No man is a believer, I say, except him who, leaning upon the assurance of his salvation, confidently triumphs over the devil and death...{31}

Lest we misunderstand Calvin, it is necessary to see that though he holds that all true faith is certain, personal confidence in God's promise does not imply the perfection of faith. Faith grows and matures through Word and sacrament. So Calvin says faith is mingled with incredulity {32} even while maintaining the certainty of faith. Some have seen here a contradiction in Calvin's thinking. {33} However, two points must be kept in mind. This first is that his great concern is the unshakable certainty of the promise upon which faith is built. {34} Second, Calvin is careful to clarify and qualify his statements about faith and assurance in light of Christian experience.

Calvin understands that believer's can be shaken by the "gravest terrors" and that these temptations do not seem to be compatible with the certainty of faith.

Surely while we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. {35}

He immediately gives the example of David and then to the Spirit/flesh antithesis.

...the godly heart feels in itself a division because it is partly imbued with sweetness from its recognition of the divine goodness, partly grieves in bitterness from an awareness of its calamity; partly rests upon the promise of the gospel, partly trembles at the evidence of its own inquiry; partly rejoices in the expectation of life, partly shudders at death. This variation arises from imperfection of faith, since in the course of the present life it never goes so well with us that we are wholly cured of the disease of unbelief and entirely filled and possessed by faith. Hence arise those conflicts; when unbelief, which reposes in the remains of the flesh, rises up to attack the faith that has been inwardly conceived.{36}

The fact that certainty is mixed with doubt does not mean that faith is uncertain or essentially confused.

For even if we are distracted by various thoughts, we are not on that account completely divorced from faith. Not if we are troubled on all sides by the agitation of unbelief, are we for that reason immersed in its abyss. If we are struck, we are not for that reason cast down from our position. For the end of the conflict is always this: that faith ultimately triumphs over those difficulties which besiege and seem to imperil it. {37}

It is the tension of the Christian who lives between the times that causes the stress to which Calvin alludes (Rom.7:24,25). Faith is certain and secure but not unassailed, yet the believer cannot fall from the confidence he has in God's mercy.{38} Confidence in God's mercy is never destroyed and the flame of faith never quenched.{39} Indeed, why would the godly cry for help if they were not convinced the Lord was ready to help?{40} Faith is a light which cannot be extinguished but which even at its lowest point lurks beneath the ashes.{41}

Clearly, Calvin's stress is on the certainty of faith's foundation. Faith is founded upon the promise of God's Word and is not founded upon what the believer discerns or fails to discern within himself. In this way Calvin kept, for the most part, proper balance in distinguishing faith's foundation from faith's evidence.

Calvin always directed believers away from morbid introspection.

Surely there is no one who is not sunken in infinite filth! Let even the most perfect man descend into his conscience and call his deed to account, what then will be the outcome for him? Will he sweetly rest as if all things were well composed between him and God and not, rather be torn by dire torments, since if he be judged by words, he will feel grounds for condemnation within himself? The conscience, if it looks to God, must either have sure peace with his judgement or be besieged by the terrors of hell. Therefore we profit nothing in discussing righteousness unless we establish a righteousness so steadfast that it can support our souls in the judgement of God. When our soul possess that by which they may present themselves fearless before God's face and receive his judgement undismayed, then only may we know that we have found no counterfeit righteousness.{42}

Calvin's preaching did not keep his congregation fluctuating in despair. He preached that sinners must seek peace "solely in the anguish of Christ our Redeemer."{43} Not an inward fixation upon our works, but an upward fixation upon God's promises constitutes the ground of assurance.

Scripture shows that God's promises are not established unless they are grasped with the full assurance of conscience. Whenever there is doubt or uncertainty, it pronounces them void. Again, it declares that these promises do nothing but vacillate and waiver if they rest upon our works.{44}

This does not mean, however, that the works of the believer have no strengthening or conformatory role in a believer's sense of assurance. We affirm that there certainly is a syllogismus practicus in Calvin, but it is a very carefully balanced matter, never confusing the foundation of assurance with the evidences and never severing the evidence from the foundation. G.C. Berkouwer is Calvinian when he writes:

He who loses sight of the connection between God's salvation - in His electing mercy - and the sanctification of life, becomes the victim of a serious misinterpretation of the sola fide.{45}

His insistence that sola fide and the syllogismus practicus are not opposites from which to choose but, rather, complimentary is thoroughly congruent with Calvin.

Ans so, Calvin speaks of believer's works as "aids":

... for though faith is confirmed by all the graces of God as aids, yet it ceases not to have its foundation in the mercy of God only. As for instance, when we enjoy the light, we are certain that the sun shines; if the sun shines on the place in which we are, we have a clearer view of it; but yet when the visible rays do not come to us, we are satisfied that the sun diffuses its brightness for our benefit. So when faith is founded in Christ, some things may happen to assist it, still it rests on Christ's race alone."{46}

Calvin then, insists that the believer receives "a testimony to his faith from his works" and calls them "evidence." But, h is careful to state that the "the certainty of faith depends on the grace of Christ alone" though "piety and holiness of life distinguish true faith from that knowledge of God was fictitious and dead."{47}


At first blush Calvin's emphasis and that of the Confession seem contradictory. Calvin's writings clearly teach that assurance is in some sense of the essence of saving faith. The Confession, on the other hand, in XVIII, iii is distanced from this emphasis:

This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it:...{48}

Yet the parallels between Calvin and the Confession should not be overlooked. Both Calvin and the Confession hold that subjective assurance is based upon the promise of God's Word, is the work of the Spirit and is strengthened by means (XVIII,i-iii). Further, the note of adoption is common to both (XVIII, ii), and both confess that no believer is utterly forsaken or left in utter despair even at his weakest (L.C. Q/A. 81.). Both assume the subjective assurance is the norm for believers. Calvin and the Confession could have equally affirmed that "assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost" are benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification" (WSC A.36). Calvin and the Confession are fundamentally unified.

But, what of Calvin's insistence that assurance is of the essence of saving faith? Is not Calvin at basic variance with the Confession here?

It is usually assumed that this is the case. McLeod, for example, thought that the Reformer's successors were faced with a problem in their formulation of assurance for which they had to find a solution. {49} Can Calvin and the Confession be reasonably harmonized?

The Marrow men thought so. The publication of the Marrow of Modern Divinity had caused quite a stir. James Haddow, principal of St. Andrews preached against it and the Assembly appointed a commission to deal with the controversy which ensued. The upshot was that in May, 1722 Boston, and those who stood shoulder to shoulder with him were admonished and rebuked by the Assembly. Boston saw the issue as a defense of the gospel of grace, especially of the free offer of the gospel and the nature of faith.

Among others, Boston and those with him were faced with this question by the General Assembly:

Is knowledge, belief and persuasion that Christ died for me, and that he is mine, and that whatever he did and suffered, he did and suffered for me, the direct act of faith, whereby a sinner is untied with Christ, interested in him, instated in God's covenant of grace? Or, is that knowledge a persuasion included in the very essence of that justifying act of faith? {50}

The question is here stated in bold faced terms. Is assurance that Christ is my Savior included in the justifying act of faith?

In answering this question, the Marrow men did not demur. They answered unequivocally "yes." Moreover, they claimed that this was the overwhelming view of reformed divines (whose names they cite) and that this was the view necessitated by the Confessional documents as well which speak of sinners "receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the Gospel" (WSC.31; cf. WCF, XI, ii) where, said the Marrow men:

... it is evident the offer of Christ to us, though mentioned in the last place, is to be believed first, for till the soul be persuaded that Christ crucified is in the Gospel set forth, and exhibited to it as if expressed by name, there can be no believing on him. And when the offer is brought home to a person by the Holy Ghost, there will be a measure of persuasion that Christ is his.... {51}

Insisting that the Westminster Assembly had never intended to deviate from this common doctrine they maintained that the L.C. teaching on justification demands their conclusion. They add:

... the sinner has not always, at his first closing with Christ, not afterwards, such a clear, steady, and full persuasion that Christ is his, --that his sins are forgiven, -- and he eventually shall be saved, as that he dare profess the same to others, or even positively assert it within himself; yet, upon the first saving manifestation of Christ to him, such a persuasion and humble confidence is begotten, as is real and relieving, and particular as to himself and his own salvation, and which works a proportionable hope as to the issue;... {52}

The Marrow men, further, distinguished the persuasion from the sense of it.

Further, as to the difference between these two kinds of assurance: the assurance of faith has its object and foundation without the man, but that of sense has them within him. ...The one says, 'I take him for mine;' the other says, 'I fell he is mine'. {53}

The Marrow men help to point to the broad lines of a solution. While it is not best to speak of "two kinds of assurance" it is clear that the Marrow men were holding Calvin in their left hands and the Confession of Faith in their right.

Is assurance of the essence of saving faith? Calvin answered "yes" because his focus is on faith's foundation. The Confession answers "no" because its focus is on the subjective persuasion of that assurance. Each is correct when the issue is viewed as a difference in focus. Perhaps it is best to say that assurance is of the essence of saving fait in the same way that the tree is contained in the seed. Assurance is of the essence of saving faith implicitly. The subjective persuasion of assurance can be cultivated just because of the certainty of its object - Christ.

To illustrate: I am a child standing on the edge of a cliff. Dangers surround me. My Father, thirty feet below, tells me to jump into his arms for safety. I hesitate. Faith is mingled with doubt. Then, I jump. I believe that my father will catch me. I trust (fiducia). Later, I have nightmares. I lose for a time my sense of assurance. In my dreams, I see myself on the edge of the cliff. Will I jump or not? I wake up. Did I jump? Am I safe? Did I trust my Father after all? I become oriented. I am safe. My sense of assurance and safety returns.

The question of assurance being in some sense of the essence of saving faith involves also the question: when I come to Christ do I believe he died for sinners generally or for me the sinner?

It is frequently claimed that when a sinner comes to Christ he may believe that Christ died for him in particular only if a universal atonement is assumed. {54} This was not the conclusion of multitudes of Calvinistic divines who have held to this view (including the Marrow divines). Why should adherence to this view demand universal atonement? It is argued that for a sinner to initially come to Christ with the assurance that Christ died for him in particular it must be assumed he died for all men without exception. But, is not faith the supernatural production of the Holy Spirit? And, is not the Holy Spirit the Spirit of adoption? Cannot the Spirit who applies to the elect the work of Christ [produce within the sinner saving faith which embraces Christ as mine in particular as a fruit of the Savior's purchase? When the child jumps he believes: "my father will catch me" not children in general.


We have noted that Calvin's view of assurance is, in part, accounted for by the setting in which he addressed the Gospel. Sometimes, indeed, his statements are extreme or imbalanced. Yet, Calvin and the Westminster Confession are not far apart.

The differences are more apparent that real resulting from differing emphases. Calvin is concerned to distinguish the foundation from the evidence of assurance. The evidence can only confirm a certain foundation.

We need Calvin's emphasis. We need to be able to say to God's people that because the foundation of faith is certain the personal persuasion of a saving relationship with Christ should thrive in an atmosphere of certainty. "Believers ought to be sure of their salvation" says Calvin; "they should not remain in suspense." {55} This should be, at least, the norm. Assurance of personal salvation should correspond to the nature of faith's foundation. Of course, Calvin is well aware that a sense of assurance can be shaken yet, "though fear is not wholly shaken off, yet when we flee to God as to a quiet harbor, safe and free from all danger of shipwreck and of tempests, fear is really expelled." {56}

The result is incredible boldness in Christian living. The Spirit of adoption seals the testimony of the Gospel to us and "raises up our spirits to dare show forth to God their desires." {57}

Hence comes an extraordinary peace and repose to our consciences. For having disclosed to the Lord the necessity that was pressing upon us, we even rest fully in the thought hat none of our ills is hid from him who, we are convinced has both the will and the power to take the best care of us.{58}

When we pray stripped of self-confidence but with confidence in the Lord, we are assured to succeed in that for which we pray. "... We enjoin believers to be convinced with firm assurance of mind that God is favorable and benevolent to them...". {59}

We receive this singular fruit of God's promises when we frame our prayers without hesitation or trepidation; but, relying upon the word of him whose majesty would otherwise terrify us, we dare call upon him as Father, while he deigns to suggest this sweetest of names to us. {60}

While due attention should be given to those who may be presumptuous - a concern not absent in Calvin - could it be that this Reformational emphasis on assurance is to varying degrees lacking in preaching and the administration of the sacraments with the result that the Christian ministry is falling in large measure to galvanize God's people for Christian living? If Calvin were carefully and critically studied by pastors, the church surely would reap large dividends, not the least of which would be a more mature faith and greater assurance before God and the world!

{1} Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; Philadelphia; Westminster, 1960) 3.2.7.
{2} Calvin, Instruction in Faith (1537) (trans. Paul Fuhrmann; Philadelphia; Westminster, 1969) 38.
{3} e.g. William Cunningham, The Reformers and The Theology of the Reformation (Edinburgh; Banner of Truth, 1967) 111-148.
{4} Calvin, Reply by Calvin to Cardinal Sadolet's Letter in Selected Works of John Calvin Tracts and Letters (ed. Henry Beveridge and Jules Bonnet: Grand Rapids; Baker Book House, 1983) 1. 57.
{5} cf. B.B. Warfield, "Calvin and the Bible: in Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1970) 1. 399-400: "It was not however, the homage of his admiration alone that Calvin gave to the Scriptures. He gave to them the homage of his faith and obedience. In them he heard the very words of God, as if they were pronounced by his very lips. And to these words he bent his ear, the Spirit in him bearing witness with his spirit that they are the words of God."
{6}Inst., 3.2.7.
{7} Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament (Tyler, Texas: Geneva Divinity School Press, 1982) 130.
{8} Inst., 3.2.7.
{9} Instruction, 38.
{10} Inst., 3.2.6.
{11} Inst., 3.2.29.
{12} Instruction, 67.
{13} Inst., 4.14.1.
{14} Inst., 4.14.1.; 4.14.6.
{15} Inst., 4.14.10.
{16} B.B. Warfield, "Calvin's Doctrine of the Knowledge of God" in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) 5.82,83.
{17} Calvin's Commentary on Galatians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 21.120.
{18} Ibid., 120.
{19} cf. T.H.L. Parker, Calvin's Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959) 107, ff. And Robert Letham "The Relationship of Saving Faith and Assurance of Salvation," Thesis Westminster Theological Seminary, 1976, 21.
{20} Inst., 4.14.8: cf. 4.14.9.
{21} Calvin's Commentary on James (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 298.
{22} Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988) 280: "In the first edition of the Institutes [Predestination] is discussed briefly in connection with belief in the church. In the following editions it is discussed in connection with providence. In the final edition, however, Calvin separated these two doctrines from each other. He placed his discussion of predestination after he had discussed his doctrine of Christ, and at the climax of his discussion on 'how we receive the grace of Christ.' It may be that through this final arrangement he desired to show the doctrine in a slightly more central position, to show more clearly its practical value for living. It shows moreover that he himself had no desire or inclination to discuss fully the person and work of Christ. Thoughts on predestination must always be subordinate to thought on Christ."
{23} Inst., 3.13.4.
{24} Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1973) 23, 25.
{25} Instruction, 37.
{26} Inst., 3.14.5; cf. Instruction, 27: "for, as in Christ are elected all those who have been preordained to life before the foundations of the world were laid, so also he is he in whom the pledge of our election is presented to us if we receive him and embrace him through faith. For what do we seek in election except that we be participants in the life eternal? And we have it in Christ, who was the life since the beginning and who is offered as life to us in order that all those who believe in him may not perish but enjoy the life eternal. If, therefore, in possessing Christ through faith we possess in hi likewise life, we need no further inquire beyond the eternal counsel of God. For Christ is not only a mirror by which the will of God is presented to us, but he is a pledge by which life is as sealed and confirmed to us."
{27} Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (trans. J.K.S. Reid; Cambridge: James Clarke and Co., 1982) 113. Cf. 127, 130: "Christ therefore is for us the bright mirror of the eternal and hidden election of God, and also the earnest and pledge.: "If Pighius asks how I know I am elect, I answer that Christ is more than a thousand testimonies to me."
{28} Wilhelm Niesel, The Theology of Calvin (trans. Harold Knight; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956), 170, ff.
{29} Inst., 3.2.15.
{30} Inst., 3.2.16.
{31} Inst., 3.2.16.
{32} Inst., 3.2.4.
{33} Cunningham, op.cit., 120, 121; cf. R.L. Dabney, "The Theology of the Plymouth Brethren," Discussions of Robert Lewis Dabney (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982).
{34} Inst., 3.2.6.
{35} Inst., 3.2.17.
{36} Inst., 3.2.18.
{37} Inst., 3.2.18.
{38} Inst., 3.2.17: "... in whatever way they are afflicted, they fall away and depart from certain assurance received form God's mercy."
{39} Inst., 3.2.21.
{40} Inst., 3.2.21.
{41} Inst., 3.2.21.
{42} Inst., 3.13.13.
{43} Inst., 3.13.4; cf. 3.13.3.
{44} Inst., 3.13.4.
{45} G.C. Berkouwer, Divine Election (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960) 295. Cf., 284-290.
{46} Calvin's Commentary in I John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 218.
{47} Ibid., 175; cf. Commentary on James, 311, 314.
{48} cf. L.C. Q/A 81: "Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, true believers may wait long before they obtain it..." (emphasis mine).
{49} John McCleod, Scottish Theology In Relation To Church History (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974) 27, ff.
{50} "The Occasion of the 'Marrow' Controversy" in Complete works of Thomas Boston (Wheaton: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1980) 7.478.
{51} Ibid., 479.
{52} Ibid., 483.
{53} Ibid., 484.
{54} cf. McCleod, op. Cit., 28, ff.
{55} Calvin, Concerning The Eternal Predestination Of God, 132.
{56} I John, 247.; cf. Inst., 3.2.18. "It is like a man who, shut up in a prison into which the sun's rays shine obliquely and half obscured through a rather narrow window, in indeed deprived of the full sight of the sun. Yet his eyes dwell on its steadfast brightness, and he receives its benefits. Thus, bound with the fetters of an earthly body, however much we are shadowed on every side with great darkness, we are nevertheless illumined as much as need be for firm assurance when, to show forth his mercy, the light of God sheds even a little of its radiance."
{57} Inst., 3.20.1.
{58} Inst., 3.20.2.
{59} Inst., 3.20.12.
{60} Inst., 3.20.14.