Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: WHAT IT IS TO KNOW GOD.—TENDENCY OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. - The Institutes of the Christian Religion
CHAPTER II.: WHAT IT IS TO KNOW GOD.—TENDENCY OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. - John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion 
The Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1846). 2 volumes in 1.
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- Institutions of the Christian Religion.
- Prefatory Address to His Most Christian Majesty, the Most Mighty and Illustrious Monarch, Francis, King of the French, His Sovereign; 1 John Calvin Prays Peace and Salvation In Christ. 2
- The Epistle to the Reader.
- Subject of the Present Work.
- Epistle to the Reader.
- Method and Arrangement, Or Subject of the Whole Work.
- General Index of Chapters.
- Book First.: of the Knowledge of God the Creator.
- Chapter I.: The Knowledge of God and of Ourselves Mutually Connected.—nature of the Connection.
- Chapter II.: What It Is to Know God.—tendency of This Knowledge.
- Chapter III.: The Knowledge of God Naturally Implanted In the Human Mind.
- Chapter IV.: The Knowledge of God Stifled Or Corrupted, Ignorantly Or Maliciously.
- Chapter V.: The Knowledge of God Conspicuous In the Creation and Continual Government of the World.
- Chapter VI.: The Need of Scripture, As a Guide and Teacher, In Coming to God As a Creator.
- Chapter VII.: The Testimony of the Spirit Necessary to Give Full Authority to Scripture. the Impiety of Pretending That the Credibility of Scripture Depends On the Judgment of the Church.
- Chapter VIII.: The Credibility of Scripture Sufficiently Proved, In So Far As Natural Reason Admits.
- Chapter IX.: All the Principles of Piety Subverted By Fanatics, Who Substitute Revelations For Scripture.
- Chapter X.: In Scripture, the True God Opposed, Exclusively, to All the Gods of the Heathen.
- Chapter XI.: Impiety of Attributing a Visible Form to God.—the Setting Up of Idols a Defection From the True God.
- Chapter XII.: God Distinguished From Idols, That He May Be the Exclusive Object of Worship.
- Chapter XIII.: The Unity of the Divine Essence In Three Persons Taught, In Scripture, From the Foundation of the World.
- Chapter XIV.: In the Creation of the World, and All Things In It, the True God Distinguished By Certain Marks From Fictitious Gods.
- Chapter XV.: State In Which Man Was Created. the Faculties of the Soul—the Image of God—free Will—original Righteousness.
- Chapter XVI.: The World, Created By God, Still Cherished and Protected By Him. Each and All of Its Parts Governed By His Providence.
- Chapter XVII.: Use to Be Made of the Doctrine of Providence.
- Chapter XVIII.: The Instrumentality of the Wicked Employed By God, While He Continues Free From Every Taint. 1
- Book Second.: of the Knowledge of God the Redeemer, In Christ, As First Manifested to the Fathers, Under the Law, and Thereafter to Us Under the Gospel.
- Chapter I.: Through the Fall and Revolt of Adam, the Whole Human Race Made Accursed and Degenerate. of Original Sin.
- Chapter II.: Man Now Deprived of Freedom of Will, and Miserably Enslaved.
- Chapter III.: Everything Proceeding From the Corrupt Nature of Man Damnable.
- Chapter IV.: How God Works In the Hearts of Men.
- Chapter V.: The Arguments Usually Alleged In Support of Free Will Refuted.
- Chapter VI.: Redemption For Man Lost to Be Sought In Christ.
- Chapter VII.: The Law Given, Not to Retain a People For Itself, But to Keep Alive the Hope of Salvation In Christ Until His Advent.
- Chapter VIII.: Exposition of the Moral Law.
- First Commandment.: I Am the Lord Thy God, Which Brought Thee Out of the Land of Egypt, Out of the House of Bondage. Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me.
- Second Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven Image, Or Any Likeness of Anything That Is In Heaven Above, Or That Is In the Earth Beneath, Or That Is In the Water Under the Earth: Thou Shalt Not Bow Down Thyself to Them, Nor Serve Them.
- Third Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God In Vain.
- Fourth Commandment.: Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep It Holy. Six Days Shalt Thou Labour and Do All Thy Work: But the Seventh Day Is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God. In It Thou Shalt Not Do Any Work, &c.
- Fifth Commandment.: Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother, That Thy Days May Be Long Upon the Land Which the Lord Thy God Giveth Thee.
- Sixth Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Kill.
- Seventh Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.
- Eight Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Steal.
- Ninth Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbour.
- Tenth Commandment.: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s House, Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbour’s Wife, Nor His Man-servant, Nor His Maid-servant, Nor His Ox, Nor His Ass, Nor Any Thing That Is Thy Neighbour’s.
- Chapter IX.: Christ, Though Known to the Jews Under the Law, Yet Only Manifested Under the Gospel.
- Chapter X.: The Resemblance Between the Old Testament and the New. 1
- Chapter XI.: The Difference Between the Two Testaments.
- Chapter XII.: Christ, to Perform the Office of Mediator, Behoved to Become Man.
- Chapter XIII.: Christ Clothed With the True Substance of Human Nature.
- Chapter XIV.: How Two Natures Constitute the Person of the Mediator.
- Chapter XV.: Three Things Chiefly to Be Regarded In Christ—viz. His Offices of Prophet, King, and Priest.
- Chapter XVI.: How Christ Performed the Office of Redeemer In Procuring Our Salvation. the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ.
- Chapter XVII.: Christ Rightly and Properly Said to Have Merited Grace and Salvation For Us.
- Book Third: the Mode of Obtaining the Grace of Christ. the Benefits It Confers, and the Effects Resulting From It.
- Chapter I.: The Benefits of Christ Made Available to Us By the Secret Operation of the Spirit.
- Chapter II.: Of Faith. the Definition of It. Its Peculiar Properties.
- Chapter III.: Regeneration By Faith. of Repentance.
- Chapter IV.: Penitence, As Explained In the Sophistical Jargon of the Schoolmen, Widely Different From the Purity Required By the Gospel. of Confession and Satisfaction.
- Chapter V.: Of the Modes of Supplementing Satisfaction—viz., Indulgences and Purgatory.
- Chapter VI.: The Life of a Christian Man. Scriptural Arguments Exhorting to It.
- Chapter VII.: A Summary of the Christian Life. of Self-denial. 1
- Chapter VIII.: Of Bearing the Cross—one Branch of Self-denial.
- Chapter IX.: Of Meditating On the Future Life.
- Chapter X.: How to Use the Present Life, and the Comforts of It.
- Chapter XI.: Of Justification By Faith. Both the Name and the Reality Defined.
- Chapter XII.: Necessity of Contemplating the Judgment-seat of God, In Order to Be Seriously Convinced of the Doctrine of Gratuitous Justification.
- Chapter XIII.: Two Things to Be Observed In Gratuitous Justification.
- Chapter XIV.: The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.
- Chapter XV.: The Boasted Merit of Works Subversive Both of the Glory of God, In Bestowing Righteousness, and of the Certainty of Salvation.
- Chapter XVI.: Refutation of the Calumnies By Which It Is Attempted to Throw Odium On This Doctrine.
- Chapter XVII.: The Promises of the Law and the Gospel Reconciled.
- Chapter XVIII.: The Righteousness of Works Improperly Inferred From Rewards.
- Chapter XIX.: Of Christian Liberty.
- Chapter XX.: Of Prayer—a Perpetual Exercise of Faith. the Daily Benefits Derived From It.
- Chapter XXI.: Of the Eternal Election, By Which God Has Predestinated Some to Salvation, and Others to Destruction.
- Chapter XXII.: This Doctrine Confirmed By Proofs From Scripture.
- Chapter XXIII.: Refutation of the Calumnies By Which This Doctrine Is Always Unjustly Assailed.
- Chapter XXIV.: Election Confirmed By the Calling of God. the Reprobate Bring Upon Themselves the Righteous Destruction to Which They Are Doomed.
- Chapter XXV.: Of the Last Resurrection.
- Book Fourth.: of the Holy Catholic Church.
- Chapter I.: Of the True Church. Duty of Cultivating Unity With Her, As the Mother of All the Godly.
- Chapter II.: Comparison Between the False Church and the True.
- Chapter III.: Of the Teachers and Ministers of the Church. Their Election and Office.
- Chapter IV.: Of the State of the Primitive Church, and the Mode of Government In Use Before the Papacy.
- Chapter V.: The Ancient Form of Government Utterly Corrupted By the Tyranny of the Papacy.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Primacy of the Romish See.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Beginning and Rise of the Romish Papacy, Till It Attained a Height By Which the Liberty of the Church Was Destroyed, and All True Rule Overthrown.
- Chapter VIII.: Of the Power of the Church In Articles of Faith. the Unbridled Licence of the Papal Church In Destroying Purity of Doctrine.
- Chapter IX.: Of Councils and Their Authority. 1
- Chapter X.: Of the Power of Making Laws. the Cruelty of the Pope and His Adherents, In This Respect, In Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
- Chapter XI.: Of the Jurisdiction of the Church, and the Abuses of It, As Exemplified In the Papacy.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Discipline of the Church, and Its Principal Use In Censures and Excommunication.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Vows. the Miserable Entanglements Caused By Vowing Rashly.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Sacraments.
- Chapter XV.: Of Baptism.
- Chapter XVI.: PÆdobaptism. Its Accordance With the Institution of Christ, and the Nature of the Sign.
- Chapter XVII.: Of the Lord’s Supper, and the Benefits Conferred By It.
- Chapter XVIII. 1: Of the Popish Mass. How It Not Only Profanes, But Annihilates the Lord’s Supper.
- Chapter XIX.: Of the Five Sacraments, Falsely So Called. Their Spuriousness Proved, and Their True Character Explained.
- Of Confirmation. 2
- Of Penitence.
- Of Extreme Unction, So Called.
- Of Ecclesiastical Orders.
- Of Marriage.
- Chapter XX.: Of Civil Government.
- One Hundred Aphorisms, * Containing, Within a Narrow Compass, the Substance and Order of the Four Books of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
- Book I.
- Book II.
- Book III.
- Book IV.
WHAT IT IS TO KNOW GOD.—TENDENCY OF THIS KNOWLEDGE.
The knowledge of God the Creator defined. The substance of this knowledge, and the use to be made of it.
Further illustration of the use, together with a necessary reproof of vain curiosity, and refutation of the Epicureans. The character of God as it appears to the pious mind, contrasted with the absurd views of the Epicureans. Religion defined.
By the knowledge of God, I understand that by which we not only conceive that there is some God, but also apprehend what it is for our interest, and conducive to his glory, what, in short, it is befitting to know concerning him. For, properly speaking, we cannot say that God is known where there is no religion or piety. I am not now referring to that species of knowledge by which men, in themselves lost and under curse, apprehend God as a Redeemer in Christ the Mediator. I speak only of that simple and primitive knowledge, to which the mere course of nature would have conducted us, had Adam stood upright. For although no man will now, in the present ruin of the human race, perceive God to be either a father, or the author of salvation, or propitious in any respect, until Christ interpose to make our peace; still it is one thing to perceive that God our Maker supports us by his power, rules us by his providence, fosters us by his goodness, and visits us with all kinds of blessings, and another thing to embrace the grace of reconciliation offered to us in Christ. Since, then, the Lord first appears, as well in the creation of the world as in the general doctrine of Scripture, simply as a Creator, and afterwards as a Redeemer in Christ,—a twofold knowledge of him hence arises: of these the former is now to be considered, the latter will afterwards follow in its order. But although our mind cannot conceive of God, without rendering some worship to him, it will not, however, be sufficient simply to hold that he is the only being whom all ought to worship and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of all goodness, and that we must seek everything in him, and in none but him. My meaning is: we must be persuaded not only that as he once formed the world, so he sustains it by his boundless power, governs it by his wisdom, preserves it by his goodness, in particular, rules the human race with justice and judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by his protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive. For this sense of the divine perfections is the proper master to teach us piety, out of which religion springs. By piety I mean that union of reverence and love to God which the knowledge of his benefits inspires. For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity.
Those, therefore, who, in considering this question, propose to inquire what the essence of God is, only delude us with frigid speculations,—it being much more our interest to know what kind of being God is, and what things are agreeable to his nature. For, of what use is it to join Epicurus in acknowledging some God who has cast off the care of the world, and only delights himself in ease? What avails it, in short, to know a God with whom we have nothing to do? The effect of our knowledge rather ought to be, first, to teach us reverence and fear; and, secondly, to induce us, under its guidance and teaching, to ask every good thing from him, and, when it is received, ascribe it to him. For how can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought, that since you are his workmanship, you are bound, by the very law of creation, to submit to his authority?—that your life is due to him?—that whatever you do ought to have reference to him? If so, it undoubtedly follows that your life is sadly corrupted, if it is not framed in obedience to him, since his will ought to be the law of our lives. On the other hand, your idea of his nature is not clear unless you acknowledge him to be the origin and fountain of all goodness. Hence would arise both confidence in him, and a desire of cleaving to him, did not the depravity of the human mind lead it away from the proper course of investigation.
For, first of all, the pious mind does not devise for itself any kind of God, but looks alone to the one true God; nor does it feign for him any character it pleases, but is contented to have him in the character in which he manifests himself, always guarding, with the utmost diligence, against transgressing his will, and wandering, with daring presumption, from the right path. He by whom God is thus known, perceiving how he governs all things, confides in him as his guardian and protector, and casts himself entirely upon his faithfulness,—perceiving him to be the source of every blessing, if he is in any strait or feels any want, he instantly recurs to his protection and trusts to his aid,—persuaded that he is good and merciful, he reclines upon him with sure confidence, and doubts not that, in the divine clemency, a remedy will be provided for his every time of need,—acknowledging him as his Father and his Lord, he considers himself bound to have respect to his authority in all things, to reverence his majesty, aim at the advancement of his glory, and obey his commands,—regarding him as a just judge, armed with severity to punish crimes, he keeps the judgment-seat always in his view. Standing in awe of it, he curbs himself, and fears to provoke his anger. Nevertheless, he is not so terrified by an apprehension of judgment as to wish he could withdraw himself, even if the means of escape lay before him; nay, he embraces him not less as the avenger of wickedness than as the rewarder of the righteous; because he perceives that it equally appertains to his glory to store up punishment for the one, and eternal life for the other. Besides, it is not the mere fear of punishment that restrains him from sin. Loving and revering God as his father, honouring and obeying him as his master, although there were no hell, he would revolt at the very idea of offending him.
Such is pure and genuine religion, namely, confidence in God coupled with serious fear—fear, which both includes in it willing reverence, and brings along with it such legitimate worship as is prescribed by the law. And it ought to be more carefully considered, that all men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare.