Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III.: THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD NATURALLY IMPLANTED IN THE HUMAN MIND. - The Institutes of the Christian Religion
CHAPTER III.: THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD NATURALLY IMPLANTED IN THE HUMAN MIND. - 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.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD NATURALLY IMPLANTED IN THE HUMAN MIND.
The knowledge of God being manifested to all makes the reprobate without excuse Universal belief and acknowledgment of the existence of God.
Objection — that religion and the belief of a Deity are the inventions of crafty politicians. Refutation of the objection. This universal belief confirmed by the examples of wicked men and Atheists.
Confirmed also by the vain endeavours of the wicked to banish all fear of God from their minds. Conclusion, that the knowledge of God is naturally implanted in the human mind.
That there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man, being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service. Certainly, if there is any quarter where it may be supposed that God is unknown, the most likely for such an instance to exist is among the dullest tribes farthest removed from civilisation. But, as a heathen tells us, there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even those who, in other respects, seem to differ least from the lower animals, constantly retain some sense of religion; so thoroughly has this common conviction possessed the mind, so firmly is it stamped on the breasts of all men. Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart. Nay, even idolatry is ample evidence of this fact. For we know how reluctant man is to lower himself, in order to set other creatures above him. Therefore, when he chooses to worship wood and stone rather than be thought to have no God, it is evident how very strong this impression of a Deity must be; since it is more difficult to obliterate it from the mind of man, than to break down the feelings of his nature,—these certainly being broken down, when, in opposition to his natural haughtiness, he spontaneously humbles himself before the meanest object as an act of reverence to God.
It is most absurd, therefore, to maintain, as some do, that religion was devised by the cunning and craft of a few individuals, as a means of keeping the body of the people in due subjection, while there was nothing which those very individuals, while teaching others to worship God, less believed than the existence of a God. I readily acknowledge, that designing men have introduced a vast number of fictions into religion, with the view of inspiring the populace with reverence or striking them with terror, and thereby rendering them more obsequious; but they never could have succeeded in this, had the minds of men not been previously imbued with that uniform belief in God, from which, as from its seed, the religious propensity springs. And it is altogether incredible that those who, in the matter of religion, cunningly imposed on their ruder neighbours, were altogether devoid of a knowledge of God. For though in old times there were some, and in the present day not a few are found who deny the being of a God, yet, whether they will or not, they occasionally feel the truth which they are desirous not to know. We do not read of any man who broke out into more unbridled and audacious contempt of the Deity than C. Caligula, and yet none showed greater dread when any indication of divine wrath was manifested. Thus, however unwilling, he shook with terror before the God whom he professedly studied to contemn. You may every day see the same thing happening to his modern imitators. The most audacious despiser of God is most easily disturbed, trembling at the sound of a falling leaf. How so, unless in vindication of the divine majesty, which smites their consciences the more strongly the more they endeavour to flee from it. They all, indeed, look out for hiding-places, where they may conceal themselves from the presence of the Lord, and again efface it from their mind; but after all their efforts they remain caught within the net. Though the conviction may occasionally seem to vanish for a moment, it immediately returns, and rushes in with new impetuosity, so that any interval of relief from the gnawings of conscience is not unlike the slumber of the intoxicated or the insane, who have no quiet rest in sleep, but are continually haunted with dire horrific dreams. Even the wicked themselves, therefore, are an example of the fact that some idea of God always exists in every human mind.
All men of sound judgment will therefore hold, that a sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart. And that this belief is naturally engendered in all, and thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones, is strikingly attested by the contumacy of the wicked, who, though they struggle furiously, are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God. Though Diagoras, and others of like stamp, make themselves merry with whatever has been believed in all ages concerning religion, and Dionysius scoffs at the judgment of heaven, it is but a Sardonian grin; for the worm of conscience, keener than burning steel, is gnawing them within. I do not say with Cicero, that errors wear out by age, and that religion increases and grows better day by day. For the world (as will be shortly seen) labours as much as it can to shake off all knowledge of God, and corrupts his worship in innumerable ways. I only say, that, when the stupid hardness of heart, which the wicked eagerly court as a means of despising God, becomes enfeebled, the sense of Deity, which of all things they wished most to be extinguished, is still in vigour, and now and then breaks forth. Whence we infer, that this is not a doctrine which is first learned at school, but one as to which every man is, from the womb, his own master; one which nature herself allows no individual to forget, though many, with all their might, strive to do so. Moreover, if all are born and live for the express purpose of learning to know God, and if the knowledge of God, in so far as it fails to produce this effect, is fleeting and vain, it is clear that all those who do not direct the whole thoughts and actions of their lives to this end fail to fulfil the law of their being. This did not escape the observation even of philosophers. For it is the very thing which Plato meant (in Phœd. et Theact.) when he taught, as he often does, that the chief good of the soul consists in resemblance to God; i.e., when, by means of knowing him, she is wholly transformed into him. Thus Gryllus, also, in Plutarch (lib. quod bruta anim. ratione utantur), reasons most skilfully, when he affirms that, if once religion is banished from the lives of men, they not only in no respect excel, but are, in many respects, much more wretched than the brutes, since, being exposed to so many forms of evil, they continually drag on a troubled and restless existence: that the only thing, therefore, which makes them superior is the worship of God, through which alone they aspire to immortality.
“Intelligi necesse est deos, quoniam insitas eorum vel potius innatas cognitiones habemus.—Quæ nobis natura informationem deorum ipsorum dedit, eadem insculpsit in mentibus ut eos æternos et beatos haberemus.”—Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. c. 17.—“Itaque inter omnes omnium gentium summa constat; omnibus enim innatum est, et in animo quasi insculptum esse deos.”—Lib. ii. c. 4. See also Lact. Inst. Div. lib. iii. c. 10.
As to some Atheists of the author’s time, see Calvinus De Scandalis.
Suet. Calig. c. 51.
Cic. De Nat. Deor. lib. i. c. 23. Valer. Max. lib. i. c. 1.