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Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book2 Chapter9

Calvin - Institutes of the Christian Religion Book2 Chapter9

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(The grace of Christ anticipated and manifested, 1-2)
It was not in vain that God of old willed, through expiations and sacrifices,
to attest that he was Father,f320 and to set apart for himself a chosen

people. Hence, he was then surely known in the same image in which he
with full splendor now appears to us. Accordingly, after Malachi has
bidden the Jews heed the law of Moses, and continue in it earnestly
because after his death there was to be an interruption of the prophetic
office, he immediately afterward declares: \u201cThe sun of righteousness shall
rise\u201d [<390402> Malachi 4:2]. By these words he teaches that while the law
serves to hold the godly in expectation of Christ\u2019s coming, at his advent
they should hope for far more light. For this reason, Peter says: \u201cThe
prophets \u2026searched and diligently inquired about this salvation,\u201d which
has now been made manifest by the gospel [<600110> 1 Peter 1:10]. And \u201cit
was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves,\u201d or their age,
\u201cbut us, in the things which have \u2026been announced\u201d through the gospel
[<600112> 1 Peter 1:12 p.]. Not that the teaching of these things was useless
to the ancient people or without value for the prophets themselves, but
because they did not come to possess that treasure which God has
transmitted to us by their hand! For today the grace of which they bore
witness is put before our very eyes. They had but a slight taste of it; we
can more richly enjoy it. Accordingly, Christ declares that Moses bore
witness to him [<430546> John 5:46], yet He extols the measure of grace in
which we surpass the Jews. For he addresses his disciples: \u201cBlessed are
the eyes which see what you see; and blessed are the ears which hear what


you hear. For many kings and prophets longed for this and did not attain
it\u201d [<421023> Luke 10:23-24;<401316> Matthew 13:16-17; conflated]. That
God has preferred us to the holy patriarchs, who were men of rare piety,

is no slight commendation of the gospel revelation. In close agreement with
this thought is another passage, where Abraham is said to have seen
Christ\u2019s day and to have rejoiced [<430856> John 8:56]. Even if the sight of
something far off was rather indistinct, Abraham nevertheless had

assurance of good hope. From this came that joyousness which
accompanied the holy patriarch even to his death. And John the Baptist\u2019s
statement \u2014 \u201cNo one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in
the bosom of the Father, has made him known\u201d [<430118> John 1:18] \u2014 does
not exclude the pious who died before Christ from the fellowship of the
understanding and light that shine in the person of Christ. But, by
comparing their lot with ours, he teaches that those mysteries which they
but glimpsed in shadowed outline are manifest to us. The author of The
Letter to the Hebrews clearly explains this: \u201cIn many and various ways
God spoke of old \u2026, by the prophets \u2026but now by his beloved Son\u201d
[<580101> Hebrews 1:1-2 p.]. That only-begotten Son, who today is for us
\u201cthe splendor of the glory of God the Father and the very stamp of his
nature\u201d [<580103> Hebrews 1:3 p.], became known of old to the Jews. In
another place we have quoted Paul\u2019s view that Christ was the leader of the

former deliverance [cf.<461004> 1 Corinthians 10:4].f321 It is, moreover, true,
as Paul elsewhere teaches, that God, who \u201cordered light to shine out of
darkness, now has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ\u201d [<470406> 2 Corinthians 4:6 p.].
For when he appeared in this, his image, he, as it were, made himself
visible; whereas his appearance had before been indistinct and shadowed.
All the more detestable and base, then, is the ungratefulness and depravity
of those who are blind at midday! And Paul says their minds have been
darkened by Satan that they may not see the glory of Christ shining in the
gospel without an intervening veil [<470314> 2 Corinthians 3:14-15; cf. ch.

Now I take the gospel to be the clear manifestation of the mystery of
Christ. I recognize, of course, that since Paul calls the gospel \u201cthe doctrine
of faith\u201d [<540406> 1 Timothy 4:6], all those promises of free remission of
sins which commonly occur in the law, whereby God reconciles men to
himself, are counted as parts it. For he contrasts faith with the terrors that

would trouble and vex the conscience if salvation were to be sought in works. From this it follows that the word \u201cgospel,\u201d taken in the broad sense, includes those testimonies of his mercy and fatherly favor which God gave to the patriarchs of old. In a higher sense, however, the word

refers, I say, to the proclamation of the grace manifested in Christ. This is
not only accepted as a matter of common usage, but rests upon the
authority of Christ and the apostles [<400417> Matthew 4:17,23; 9:35].
Hence, the fact that he preached the gospel of the Kingdom is properly
attributed to him. And Mark prefaces his Gospel with: \u201cThe beginning of
the gospel of Jesus Christ\u201d [<410101> Mark 1:1]. There is no need to heap up
passages to prove something so fully known. \u201cBy his advent Christ \u2026has

brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.\u201d [<550110> 2
Timothy 1:10 p.] Paul does not mean by these words that the patriarchs

were shrouded in the shadows of death until the Son of God took flesh.
Rather, he claims this privilege of honor for the gospel, teaching that it is a
new and unusual sort of embassy [cf.<470520> 2 Corinthians 5:20] by which
God has fulfilled what he had promised: that the truth of his promises
would be realized in the person of the Son. Believers have found to be true
Paul\u2019s saying that \u201call the promises of God find their yea and amen in
Christ\u201d [2 Corinthians 1: 20 p.], for these promises had been sealed in their
hearts. [Cf.<470122> 2 Corinthians 1:22.] Nevertheless, because he has in his
flesh accomplished the whole of our salvation, this living manifestation of
realities has justly won a new and singular commendation. From this
derives Christ\u2019s saying: \u201cAfterward you will see heaven opened, and the
angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man\u201d
[<430151> John 1:51 p.]. Although he seems here to allude to the ladder
shown in a vision to the patriarch Jacob [<012812> Genesis 28:12], how
excellent his advent is he has marked through opening by it the gate of
heaven, that each one of us may enter there.

(Refutation of errors on the relation of law and gospel: intermediate
position of John the Baptist, 3-5)

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