Nicholas Ridley and the Fathers Against Transubstantiation

In his fine Brief Declaration, Bishop Ridley begins citing the church fathers for support that the doctrine did not exist in the early church. He begins with Origen, and moves on to Chrysostom, Theodoret, Tertullian, Augustine, and Gelasius. He also briefly mentions Hilary, Ambrose, Basil, and Nazianzen.

He quotes Chrysostom’s 11 homily on Matthew where he says, “If it be a fault (saith he) to translate the holy vessels (in the which is contained not the true body of Christ, but the mystery of the body) to private uses; how much more offence is it to abuse and defile the vessels of our body?” (pg. 32-33).

Notice that the “true body” is not the same as the “mystery of the body.”

Ridley also quotes Chrysostom’s ad Caearium monachum, in which he states, “Before the bread be hallowed, we call it bread: but, the grace of God sanctifying it by the means of the priest, it is delivered now from the name of bread and esteemed worthy to be called Christ’s body, although the nature of the bread tarry in it still” (34) Continue reading

Calvin’s Commentary on Isaiah 5:7

Truly the vineyard of Jehovah of hosts is the house of Israel.Hitherto he spoke figuratively; now he shows what is the design of this song. Formerly he had threatened judgment against the Jews; now he shows that they are not only guilty, but are also held to be convicted persons; for they could not be ignorant of the benefits which they had received from God.

Thou broughtest a vine from Egypt, says the Psalmist, and, having driven out the nations, plantedst it. (Psalm 80:8.)

Their ingratitude was plain and manifest. Continue reading

Edward Reynolds and the Grounding of Faith in the Free Offer

While going through that on which faith is grounded, Reynolds lists the free love of God, the example of other sinners saved, and then the free offer. He writes:

Because there is a generality and unlimitedness in the invitation unto Christ, “Come unto me, all that are weary.– Let every one that will, come.” There is in Christ erected an office of salvation, a heavenly chancery of equity and mercy, not only to moderate the rigour, but to reverse and revoke the very acts of the law. Christ is ‘set forth,’ or proposed openly as a sanctuary and ensign for the nations to fly unto; and he hath sent his ambassadors abroad to warn, and to invite every man. As a fountain is open for any man to drink, and a school for any man to learn, and the gate fo a city for any man to enter, and a court of equity for any man to relieve himself;– so Christ is publicly and universally set forth as a general refuge from the wrath to come, upon no other condition than such a will as is not only desirous to enjoy his mercy, but to submit to his kingdom, and glorify the power of his spirit and grace in new obedience.

Life of Christ, pg. 454-455 in The Whole Works of the Edward Reynolds Vol. 1 (Soli Deo Gloria)

Reynolds goes on to add the priority of grace in the conversion of the sinner, as well as our duty to faith. These are the reasons we are to believe and the grounds upon which faith builds.

Calvin on Unrepentant Covenant Children

It is certainly true that when children of believers reach the age of discernment [and have never repented or believed] they will have alienated themselves from God and destroyed utterly the truth of baptism. But this is not to say that our Lord has not elected them and separated them from others in order to grant them His salvation. Otherwise, it would be in vain for Saint Paul to say that a child of a believing father or mother is sanctified, who would be impure if he were born of and descended from unbelievers (1 Cor. 7:14).

John Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines pg. 52

The Election of All Believers

Luther called all believers sancti (saints). Calvin addressed all believers as electi. Today we moderns absolutely run stuck in Calvin if we do not consistently translate his ‘elect’ back to ‘believers.’ Conversely, Calvin is convinced that we will run stuck in the church and in the world, in our ecumenical relations and our own experience, in inner distress and external persecution, if we do not learn again to see in believers elect people. For God will test his church, his elect, his beloved church, and ‘no one shall snatch them out of my hand’ (John 10:28).

~Heiko Oberman The Two Reformations pg. 167

Edmund Calamy on the Eucharist as Covenant Renewal

We are often to renew with great solemnity the sacred memorials of our dearest Savior who gave His life as a ransom for us, and sealed with His blood that covenant of grace and peace that is between God and us. Our vow in baptism indeed binds us fast to God, and our owning its obligation on us tends to increase its force. Yet God thinks it fit to require and take new security of us, and orders us to come to His table that we may there strengthen our obligations, and not only own again and against that we are His by right, but be guided by the awful and affecting considerations there presented to us to new resolutions and engagements and solemn vows to lead a life of holy devotedness. And in requiring this of us, He very much considers our benefit…

Further, as the Jewish feasts were upon the flesh of the sacrifices they offered to God, so is our holy Supper a feast upon the sacrifice which Christ once offered for us. And as their feasts upon their sacrifices were federal rites and bands of federal communion between God and them, so the Lord’s Supper, which is also a feast upon a sacrifice, must be a federal feast between God and us, whereby, eating and drinking at His own table and partaking of His meat, we are taken into a sacred covenant and inviolable league of friendship with Him…

As the Jews joined themselves to God by feasting in His house on His sacrifices, so we join ourselves to Christ by feasting in the place of His worship, at His table, upon the memorials of His body and blood. And our obligations to stick to Him, to follow and obey Him, as much exceed all other ties, in their sacredness, strength, and virtue, as the sacrifice of Christ surpasses that of a beast, or as the eating and drinking of His body and blood is beyond all participation in the meat of the ancient altars.

~ Edmund Calamy The Lord’s Supper Is a Federal Ordinance Implying a Covenant Transaction between God and Us, and Supposing a Renewal of Solemn Vows to be the Lord’s in The Puritans on the Lord’s Supper ed. Don Kistler (pg. 23, 29, 33-34)

Jacob’s Exodus and Sinai

In Genesis 31, Jacob (soon to be named Israel), steals away from his oppressive task-master under cover of secrecy. Rachel takes Laban’s riches with her as spoils, and the whole house of Israel begins its trek back to the land of Canaan.

Laban, realizing how much money he’s going to lose in all of this, decides to pursue Jacob, perhaps to win him back, but God intervenes, warning him to do Jacob no harm.

When Laban sees that he has no claim on Jacob or his house, he asks for a covenant of peace. The process involves stones, oaths, and a sacrifice on the mountain.

From there angels of God lead Jacob’s camp along the way back to the land. They cross a river as they enter Canaan (Gen. 32:22).

No Symmetry Between Salvation and Damnation

Certain covenant theologians need to read this over again:

 “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life,” (Rom. 6:23). Why, as he contrasts life with death, does he not also contrast righteousness with sin? Why, when setting down sin as the cause of death, does he not also set down righteousness as the cause of life? The antithesis which would otherwise be complete is somewhat marred by this variation; but the Apostle employed the comparison to express the fact, that death is due to the deserts of men, but that life was treasured up solely in the mercy of God. In short, by these expressions, the order rather than the cause is noted.  The Lord adding grace to grace, takes occasion from a former to add a subsequent, so that he may omit no means of enriching his servants. Still, in following out his liberality, he would have us always look to free election as its source and beginning. For although he loves the gifts which he daily bestows upon us, inasmuch as they proceed from that fountain, still our duty is to hold fast by that gratuitous acceptance, which alone can support our souls; and so to connect the gifts of the Spirit, which he afterwards bestows, with their primary cause, as in no degree to detract from it.

~ John Calvin Institutes Book 3, Chapt. 14.21

Calvin, agreeing with Paul, shows an important way in which the work of Christ was not like the work of Adam.  Death is earned.  Life is graced.

Eden and Exodus

Genesis 29:1-14 exudes Edenic imagery right from the beginning. Jacob has just left “the house of God,” where he saw heaven and earth united, and he proceeds east-ward. This is the direction of the garden (Gen. 2:8), and it should come as no surprise that Jacob encounters water, livestock, and of course, a woman who will be his bride.

This story is a clear parallel to the earlier account of Isaac’s servant meeting Rebekah (which is also a new Adam and Eve story), but this time Laban (who we have also met before) is no longer a friend. Like the Pharaohs and Emperors who always forget the good guys, so too does Laban turn on Jacob. Our new Eden becomes a new Egypt, and an Exodus will be required.