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are much more rigid in that particular than Paul,
“But although this temptation sometimes besets good men through an inconsiderate zeal for righteousness, yet we shall find, that too great moroseness springs more from pride and haughtiness, and a false opinion of one's own sanctity, than from true holiness, and the true study of it. So that they who are most daring and forward in promoting defection from a church, have, for the most part, no other inducement than to display their superiour goodness by their contempt of every one else.”
Thus Calvin.--But before we leave him, it will be proper to notice two or three things which may be supposed to diminish the value of his
* Non equidem nego quin pii hominis sit ab omni privata improborum consuetudine se subducere, nulla se voluntaria cum ipsis necessitudine implicare: sed aliud est malorum fugere contubernium ; aliud, ipsorum odio, Ecclesiæ communionem renunciare. Quod autem sacrilegium esse putant participare cum illis panem Domini, in eo rigidiores multo sunt quam Paulus.
IBID. $ 15. + Quanquam autem ex inconsiderato justitiæ zelo hæc tentatio bonis etiam interdum oboritur : hoc tamen reperiemus, nimiam morositatem ex superbia magis et fastu falsaque sanctitatis opinione, quam ex vera sanctitate veroque ejus studio nasci. Itaque qui ad faciendam ab Ecclesia defectionem sunt aliis audaciores, et quasi antesignani, ii ut plurimum nihil aliud causæ habent nisi ut omnium contemptu ostentent se aliis esse meliores.
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testimony. For it may be said, that his “Iustitutes,” being the work of a very young man, want that stamp and seal of authority which are impressed by mature age—that they contain the views and feelings of an individual, who, however distinguished, was still but one-and that his strictures relate to the communion of a Christian with his own church, and not to his communion with other churches, or to their intercommunion between themselves.
The first of these objections might be disposed of promptly. No competent judge, who has read the “ Institutes," and has not sold himself to prejudice or faction, would willingly endanger the credit of his own understanding at fifty, by questioning the intellectual maturity of Calvin at twenty-four. The objection, however, has no place. Subsequent reflection, observation, and experience, served only to confirm his earlier judgment. In a letter to his friend FARELL, three years afterwards, he has the following expressions : “I only insisted upon this, that they," the pious,“ should not schismatically rend asunder any church; which, although extremely corrupt in morals, and even infected with strange doc
* They were written before he had completed the twenty-fifth year of his age. He was born in July, 1509, and this dedication to FRANCIS the I. bears the date of August, 1536. But a previous edition had been published in 1535.
trines, had not entirely revolted from that doctrine in which Paul teaches that the church of Christ is founded."*
To return to the “Institutes.” It is plain, from their history, that they bear the richest and ripest fruits which the mind of their authour had cultivated. Upon none of his productions did he bestow so much pains and labour as upon this. It is in reality his chef-d'æuvre ; and so he himself considered it. He was, therefore, continually revising and retouching it, as it ran through various editions, for the space of twenty-three years ; and it received its finishing from his elegant pen in 1559, when he was fifty years old, only five years before his death.t
That he was but one is true; yet a truth of no importance to the argument; unless it could be demonstrated that he stood alone. How different the fact was, the preceding pages have already proved. And this very work, as published in French and Latin, was drawn up in behalf of the French churches, to show what sort of doctrine they believed and taught; so that it is, in some measure, a work of public authority; and it obtained the unbounded applause and approbation of both the learned and religious world. Even the fastidious SCALIGER, who seldom praised
* Hoc unum contendebam, ne schismate scinderent qualemcumque ecclesiam : quæ, utcunque esset corruptissima moribus, doctrinis etiam exoticis infecta, non tamen desciverit penitus ab ea doctrina qua ecclesiam Christi fundari docet Paulus.
Calv. Epist. Opp. T. IX. p. 6. + See his epistle to the reader, prefixed to the Institutes," under date of 1st of August, 1559. Opp. T. IX. Amst. 1667. Fol.
any body but himself, or any thing but his own, was among its admirers and eulogists. It was translated into Italian, German, Flemish, Spanish and English : and so often republished in the original Latin, that Mons. Masson, by a strong hyperbole, says, it was printed " a thousand times'."* Calvin himself informs us, that it met with the most encouraging reception from the Christian publick" with such favour from almost all the pious,” they are his own words, “as he had not dared even to wish, far less to expect.”+ It appears, then, that his views of communion were the views of reformed Europe, or the work which contains them would never have been so popular in the churches.
The idea that the communion referred to, is communion with one's own particular church, and not with other churches, either by admitting their members or joining in their ordinances, has nothing to support it, but flies in the face of the very chapter which discusses the subject. Its title is, “ Of the TRUE CHURCH with which we are to cultirate unity ; because she is the mother of ALL THE PIOUS"*-a designation belonging only to the ONE church of God, and not to any sect. And the third part of that chapter is devoted to the proof of this proposition, “ That we are in no manner to forsake the catholick church and the communion of saints." “ On which account," it is added, "the errours of the Novatians, Anabaptists, and other SCHISMATICAL and IDLE-MINDED MEN, concerning this doctrine, are abundantly refuted.”+ But what CALVIN calls the "errours of the Novatians," &c. are precisely the arguments urged against the communion which these pages recommend and vindicate. Therefore, the communion spoken of, is not simply that which we ought to maintain with our own particular branch of the church, but which we ought to maintain with the whole church through the me
* Millies excusa. Vide BAYLE, Dict. Historique et Critique. Art. CALVIN, note F.
t eo piorum fere omnium favore,quem nunquam voto expea tere, nedum sperare ausus fuissem.
Vid. ep. supra cit.
* De vera ecclesia cum qua colenda est unitas: quia piorum omni- . um niater est.
† 3. A sancta ecclesia Catholica et sanctorum communione non est ullo modo discedendum : ea propter Novatianorum, Anabaptistarum, ac ejusmodi schismaticorum et malè feriatorum hominum circa hanc doctrinam errores, a sect. 10. ad fin. cap. abunde refelluntar.
Tom. IX. p. 270.