Grace & Salvation
How Christ is rightly and properly said to have merited grace and salvation for us. by John Calvin
The following selection by John Calvin was taken from book 2, chapter 17 of
The Institutes of The Christian Religion
, translated into English by Henry Beveridge, 1863. This electronic edition is in the public domainand may be freely copied and distributed. Contents include the following: A proof from reason and fromScripture that the grace of God and the merit of Christ (the prince and author of our salvation) are perfectlycompatible, sections 1 and 2. Christ, by his obedience, even to the death of the cross, (which was the price of our redemption,) merited divine favour for us, sections 3-5. The presumptuous rashness of the Schoolmen intreating this branch of doctrine section 6. p. 1, par. 1, [GRACE]
Christ not only the minister, but also the author and prince of salva-tion. Divine grace not obscured by this mode of expression. The merit of Christ not op-posed to the mercy of God, but depends upon it.
p. 1, par. 2, [GRACE]
A question must here be considered by way of supplement. Some men too muchgiven to subtilty, while they admit that we obtain salvation through Christ, will nothear of the name of merit, by which they imagine that the grace of God is ob-scured; and therefore insist that Christ was only the instrument or minister, not theauthor or leader, or prince of life, as he is designated by Peter, (Acts 3: 15.) I admitthat were Christ opposed simply, and by himself, to the justice of God, there couldbe no room for merit, because there cannot be found in man a worth which couldmake God a debtor; nay, as Augustine says most truly, "The Saviour, the manChrist Jesus, is himself the brightest illustration of predestination and grace: hischaracter as such was not procured by any antecedent merit of works or faith in hishuman nature. Tell me, I pray, how that man, when assumed into unity of personby the Word, co-eternal with the Father, as the only begotten Son at God, couldmerit this." -- "Let the very fountain of grace, therefore, appear in our head,whence, according to the measure of each, it is diffused through all his members.Every man, from the commencement of his faith, becomes a Christian, by the samegrace by which that man from his formation became Christ." Again, in anotherpassage, "There is not a more striking example of predestination than the mediatorhimself. He who made him (without any antecedent merit in his will) of the seed of David a righteous man never to be unrighteous, also converts those who are mem-bers of his head from unrighteous into righteous" and so forth. Therefore when wetreat of the merit of Christ, we do not place the beginning in him, but we ascend tothe ordination of God as the primary cause, because of his mere good pleasure heappointed a Mediator to purchase salvation for us. Hence the merit of Christ is in-considerately opposed to the mercy of God. It is a well known rule, that principal