Church Fathers – Calvin

Calvin Describing Calvinist Gnostic Enlightening

From Calvin’s commentary on 1 Cor 2:14-16:

14. But the animal man. By the animal man he does not mean (as is   commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they   say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing   more than the faculties of nature. This appears from the  corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man   and the spiritual As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is   regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no   doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural   condition, as they speak. For the soul belongs to nature, but the   Spirit is of supernatural communication.   

He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to   remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak —   that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we   ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds   from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in   the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we   choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it is   not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in   any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject   it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the   contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value.

For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The   doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid in the view of all   that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is   from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from   the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate   the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which   it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling   more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is   contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown   is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the   understanding of man. What a superior wisdom this is, which so   far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as   a taste of it! While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to   the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what   they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the   weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he   declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches,   that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to   the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to   the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be   wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they   are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but   is divinely conferred.

Because they are spiritually discerned That is, the Spirit of God, from   whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to   open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity   be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.  Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of   God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the   Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason   which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special   discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone.   Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the   gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all   indiscriminately are free to embrace salvation by faith.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 446320-446324). . Kindle Edition.

Calvin on God Predestining Evil for Good

From the City of God:

It is with reference to the nature, then, and not to the wickedness of the devil, that we are to understand these words, This is the beginning of God’s handiwork; for, without doubt, wickedness can be a flaw or vice only where the nature previously was not vitiated… And because God, when He created him, was certainly not ignorant of his future malignity, and foresaw the good which He Himself would bring out of his evil, therefore says the psalm, This leviathan whom You have made to be a sport therein, that we may see that, even while God in His goodness created him good, He yet had already foreseen and arranged how He would make use of him when he became wicked.

For God would never have created any, I do not say angel, but even man, whose future wickedness He foreknew, unless He had equally known to what uses in behalf of the good He could turn him, thus embellishing, the course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses. For what are called antitheses are among the most elegant of the ornaments of speech. They might be called in Latin oppositions, or, to speak more accurately, contrapositions; but this word is not in common use among us, though the Latin, and indeed the languages of all nations, avail themselves of the same ornaments of style… As, then, these oppositions of contraries lend beauty to the language, so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged, as it were, by an eloquence not of words, but of things…