Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Miserable consciences are tormented

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 3 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 4 - Impurity of Sophists' doctrine of repentance;
discussion of confession and satisfaction

Sections 1-6 - The Scholastic doctrine of confession and contrition,
with its alleged Scriptural basis, examined
Section 1 - The Scholastic doctrine of penance
Repentance is contrite heart, verbal confession & outward works, they say.
They heal wounded consciences with "a light sprinkling of ceremonies."

Section 2 - The Scholastic doctrine of penance torments the conscience
Their definition is too vague to assure our conscience of forgiveness of sin.
"When a bitterness of sorrow is demanded that corresponds to the magnitude of the offense... here truly miserable consciences are tormented.... for when will anyone dare assure himself that he has applied all of his powers to lament his sins?"

Section 3 - Not the sinner's contrition, but the Lord's mercy awaits
Following them, you're driven either to desperation, or to pretend repentance.
"The sinner does not dwell upon his own compunction or tears, but fixes both eyes upon the Lord's mercy alone.... It makes a great difference whether you teach forgiveness of sins as deserved by just and full contrition, which the sinner can never perform; or whether you enjoin him to hunger and thirst after God's mercy to show him - through the recognition of his misery, his vacillation, his weariness, and his captivity - where he ought to seek refreshment, rest and freedom; in fine, to teach him in his humility to give glory to God."

Section 4 - Confession not enjoined
They say it is when Jesus sends the lepers to the priests.
But this isn't to hear confession - the priests were never appointed to do this.
It was to obey the Law - Leviticus 14:1-3.

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