Calvin’s Definition of the Sacraments

CalvlibwebI think that this definition will be proper and simple, if we say that a sacrament is an exterior sign by which God seals in our consciences the promises of his good will toward us, to strengthen the weakness of our faith, and by which, on our part, we testify as much before him and the angels as before men, that we take him for our God.

One may define what a sacrament is even more briefly, in saying that it is a witness of the grace of God toward us, confirmed by an external sign, with a mutual expression of the honor with which we esteem him.

Jean Calvin, L’Institution Chrétienne, IV.XIV.1

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Calvin on the Papists denying Christ through “free will”

“So the Papists, at this day, setting up free-will in opposition to the grace of the Holy Spirit, ascribing a part of their righteousness and salvation to the merits of works, feigning for themselves innumerable advocates, by whom they render God propitious to them, have a sort of fictitious Christ, I know not what; but the lively and genuine image of God, which shines forth in Christ, they deform by their wicked inventions; they lessen his power, subvert and pervert his office.”

–Jean Calvin commenting on 1 John 2:22

Johann Heinrich Heidegger (1633-1698) on outward and inward calling

An excellent statement of the connection between the word preached and the effectual call.

Theologia est doctrina Deo vivendi per Christum - Theology is the doctrine of living unto God through Christ

Johann_Heinrich_Heidegger

When a preacher outwardly calls a man to faith and repentance, his proclamation is essentially combined with the inward efficacy of the Holy Spirit. Says Johann Heinrich Heidegger (1633-1698) in his Corpus Theologiae Christianae:

“The outward calling of the elect through the word preached by men is very closely connected with inward accosting by the Holy Spirit. Were it separate from this it would be of no avail. For the word preached by men strikes the ears of natural man, dead in sins… Any word, however divine, most true, most wise, most pleasant in itself and thoroughly lovable, when addressed to a sinner still dead in sin, whose heart has not been inscribed by the Holy Spirit, remains but a letter, slays the sinner and provokes him to sin (2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 5:20; 7:8).” (XXI. 21)

As a result, Heidegger goes on to insist that the…

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