Calvin’s Sacramental Rule

Calvin gives us one hermeneutical key to understanding his view of the sacraments when he says:

The rule which the pious ought always to observe is, whenever they see the symbols instituted by the Lord, to think and feel surely persuaded that the truth of the thing signified is also present.

~ Institutes 4.17.10

Clement of Alexandria and the “Twofold Blood” of the Eucharist

Daniel Waterland, in his A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, notes Clement of Alexandria’s advocation of a “spiritual presence” in the Lord’s Supper.  Clement writes:

And the blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, that by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord’s immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh…

And the mixture of both—of the water and of the Word—is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul. For the divine mixture, man, the Father’s will has mystically compounded by the Spirit and the Word. For, in truth, the spirit is joined to the soul, which is inspired by it; and the flesh, by reason of which the Word became flesh, to the Word.

~ Paedogogus II.2

Martin Luther on Prelapsarian Works

In his On Christian Liberty, Luther writes:

We should think of the works of a Christian who is justified and saved by faith because of the pure and free mercy of God, just as we would think of the works which Adam and Eve did in Paradise, and all their children would have done if they had not sinned.  We read in Gen. 2[:15] that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”  Now Adam was created righteous and upright and without sin by God so that he had no need of being justified and made upright through his tilling and keeping the garden; but, that he might not be idle, the Lord gave him a task to do, to cultivate and protect the garden.  This task would truly have been the freest of works, done only to please God and not to obtain righteousness, which Adam already had in full measure and which would have been the birthright of us all.

~pg. 38 (Fortress Press Facets edition)

Confessional View of the Magistrate

The Reformed Confessions represent something of a consensus on the role of the civil magistrate.  Here is a list of some of the more influential statements:

Tetrapolitan Confession-(1530 Bucer and Capito):

23- … They accordingly teach that to exercise the office of magistrate is the most sacred function that can be divinely given. Hence it has come to pass that they who exercise public power are called in the Scriptures gods… Therefore none exercise the duties of magistrate more worthily than they who of all are the most Christian and holy…

First Confession of Basel (1534 Oecolampadius):

8- God has charged governments, His servants, with the sword and with the highest external power for the protection of the good and for vengeance upon and punishment of evildoers. For this reason, every Christian governement with which we desire to be numbered, should do all in its power to see that God’s Name is hallowed among its subjects, God’s kingdom extended, and His will observed by the assiduous extirpation of crimes.

First Helvetic Confession (1536 Bullinger and others):

26- Since all governmental power is from God, its highest and principal office, if it does not want to be tyrannical, is to protect and promote the true honor of God and the proper service of God by punishing and rooting out all blasphemy, and to exercise all possible diligence to promote and to put into effect what a minister of the Church and a preacher of the Gospel teaches and sets forth from God’s Word…

Geneva Confession of 1536 (Calvin):

21- We hold the supremacy and dominion of kings and princes as also of other magistrates and officers, to be a holy thing and a good ordinance of God… Continue reading