Scripture, when it treats of justification by faith, leads us in a very different direction.  Turning away our view from our own works, it bids us look only to the mercy of God and the perfection of Christ.  The order of justification which it sets before us is this: first, God, of His mere gratuitous goodness, is pleased to embrace the sinner, in whom He sees nothing that can move Him to mercy but wretchedness because He sees him altogether naked and destitute of good works.  He, therefore, seeks the cause of kindness in Himself that, thus, He may affect the sinner by a sense of His goodness and induce him, in a distrust of his own works, to cast himself entirely upon His mercy for salvation.  This is the meaning of faith by which the sinner comes into the possession of salvation when, according to the doctrine of the gospel, he perceives that he is reconciled by God when, by the intercession of Christ, he obtains the pardon of his sins and is justified and, though renewed by the Spirit of God, considers that, instead of leaning on his own works, he must look solely to the righteousness which is treasured up for him in Christ.  When these things are weighed separately, they will clearly explain our view, though they may be arranged in a better order than that in which they are here presented.  But, it is of little consequence, provided they are so connected with each other as to give us a full exposition and solid confirmation of the whole subject. – John Calvin (1509-1564), Institutes 3.11.16.


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