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Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book1 Chapter15

Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book1 Chapter15

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CHAPTER 15.
EDISCUSSION OF HUMAN NATURE
AS CREATED,
OF THE FACULTIES OF THE SOUL, OF THE IMAGE OF GOD,
OF FREE WILL, AND OF THE ORIGINAL INTEGRITY
OF MAN\u2019S NATUREF450
(Man\u2019s nature deformed; yet his soul bears, though almost
obliterated, the image of God, 1-4)
1. MAN PROCEEDED SPOTLESS FROM GOD\u2019S HAND;
THEREFORE HE MAY NOT SHIFT THE BLAME FOR HIS SINS
TO THE CREATOR

We must now speak of the creation of man: not only because among all
God\u2019s works here is the noblest and most remarkable example of his
justice, wisdom, and goodness; but because, as we said at the beginning,f451
we cannot have a clear and complete knowledge of God unless it is
accompanied by a corresponding knowledge of ourselves. This knowledge
of ourselves is twofold: namely, to know what we were like when we were
first created and what our condition became after the fall of Adam. While it
would be of little benefit to understand our creation unless we recognized
in this sad ruin what our nature in its corruption and deformity is like, we
shall nevertheless be content for the moment with the description of our
originally upright nature.e(b)And to be sure, before we come to the
miserable condition of man to which he is now subjected, it is worth-while
to know what he was like when first created,bNow we must guard against
singling out only those natural evils of man, lest we seem to attribute them
to the Author of nature. For in this excuse, impiety thinks it has sufficient
defense, if it is able to claim that whatever defects it possesses have in
some way proceeded from God. It does not hesitate, if it is reproved, to
contend with God himself, and to impute to him the fault of which it is
deservedly accused. And those who wish to seem to speak more

229

reverently of the Godhead still willingly blame their depravity on nature,
not realizing that they also, although more obscurely, insult God. For if
any defect were proved to inhere in nature, this would bring reproach
upon him.

Since, then, we see the flesh panting for every subterfuge by which it
thinks that the blame for its own evils may in any way be diverted from
itself to another, we must diligently oppose this evil intent. Therefore we
must so deal with the calamity of mankind that we may cut off every
shift, and may vindicate God\u2019s justice from every accusation.eAfterward,
in the proper place, we shall see how far away men are from the purity
that was bestowed upon Adam.f452 And first we must realize that when he
was taken from earth and clay [<010207>Genesis 2:7; 18:27], his pride was
bridled. For nothing is more absurd than for those who not only \u201cdwell in
houses of clay\u201d [<180419>Job 4:19], but who are themselves in part earth and
dust, to boast of their own excellence. But since God not only deigned to

give life to an earthen vessel, but also willed it to be the abode of an
immortal spirit, Adam could rightly glory in the great liberality of his
Maker.

2. DIVERSITY OF BODY AND SOUL
eFurthermore, that man consists of a soul and a body ought to be beyond
controversy. Now I understand by the term \u201csoul\u201d an immortal yet

created essence, which is his nobler part. Sometimes it is called \u201cspirit.\u201d
For even when these terms are joined together, they differ from one
another in meaning; yet when the word \u201cspirit\u201d is used by itself, it means
the same thing as soul; as when Solomon, speaking of death, says that then
\u201cthe spirit returns to God who gave it\u201d [<211207>Ecclesiastes 12:7]. And when
Christ commended his spirit to the Father [<422346>Luke 23:46] and Stephen
his to Christ [<440759>Acts 7:59] they meant only that when the soul is freed
from the prison house of the body, God is its perpetual guardian. Some
imagine the soul to be called \u201cspirit\u201d for the reason that it is breath, or a
force divinely infused into bodies, but that it nevertheless is without
essence; both the thing itself and all Scripture show them to be stupidly
blundering in this opinion. It is of course true that while men are tied to
earth more than they should be they grow dull; indeed, because they have
been estranged from the Father of Lights [<590117>James 1:17], they become

230
blinded by darkness, so that they do not think they will survive death; yet

in the meantime the light has not been so extinguished in the darkness that
they remain untouched by a sense of their own immortality. Surely the
conscience, which, discerning between good and evil, responds to God\u2019s
judgment, is an undoubted sign of the immortal spirit. For how could a
motion without essence penetrate to God\u2019s judgment seat, and inflict itself
with dread at its own guilt? For the body is not affected by the fear of
spiritual punishment, which falls upon the soul only; from this it follows
that the soul is endowed with essence. Now the very knowledge of God
sufficiently proves that souls, which transcend the world, are immortal,
for no transient energy could penetrate to the fountain of life.

In short, the many pre-eminent gifts with which the human mind is
endowed proclaim that something divine has been engraved upon it; all
these are testimonies of an immortal essence. For the sense perception
inhering in brute animals does not go beyond the body, or at least extends
no farther than to material things presented to it. But the nimbleness of the
human mind in searching out heaven and earth and the secrets of nature,
and when all ages have been compassed by its understanding and memory,
in arranging each thing in its proper order, and in inferring future events
from past, clearly shows that there lies hidden in man something separate
from the body.f453 With our intelligence we conceive the invisible God and
the angels, something the body can by no means do. We grasp things that
are right, just, and honorable, which are hidden to the bodily senses.
Therefore the spirit must be the seat of this intelligence. Indeed, sleep
itself, which benumbs man, seeming even to deprive him of life, is no
obscure witness of immortality, since it suggests not only thoughts of
things that have never happened, but also presentiments of the future. I
have briefly touched upon these things which secular writers grandly extol

and depict in more brilliant language;f454 but among godly readers this
simple reminder will be enough.

Now, unless the soul were something essential, separate from the body,
Scripture would not teach that we dwell in houses of clay [<180419>Job 4:19]
and at death leave the tabernacle of the flesh, putting off what is
corruptible so that at the Last Day we may finally receive our reward,
according as each of us has done in the body. For surely these passages
and similar ones that occur repeatedly not only clearly distinguish the soul

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