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The Reformers Doctrines were confirmed by the miracles of Christ and the Apostles

January 30, 2013 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-00153. In demanding miracles from us, they act dishonestly; for we have not coined some new gospel, but retain the very one the truth of which is confirmed by all the miracles which Christ and the apostles ever wrought. But they have a peculiarity which we have not — they can confirm their faith by constant miracles down to the present day! Nay rather, they allege miracles which might produce wavering in minds otherwise well disposed; they are so frivolous and ridiculous, so vain and false. But were they even exceedingly wonderful, they could have no effect against the truth of God, whose name ought to be hallowed always, and everywhere, whether by miracles, or by the natural course of events. The deception would perhaps be more specious if Scripture did not admonish us of the legitimate end and use of miracles. Mark tells us (Mark 16:20) that the signs which followed the preaching of the apostles are wrought in confirmation of it; so Luke also relates that the Lord “gave testimony to the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done” by the hands of the apostles, Acts 14:3.) Very much to the same effect are those words of the apostle, that salvation by a preached gospel was confirmed, “the Lord bearing witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles,” (Hebrews 2:4.) Those things which we are told are seals of the gospel, shall we pervert to the subversion of the gospel? what was destined only to confirm the truths shall we misapply to the confirmation of lies? The proper course, therefore, is, in the first instance, to ascertain and examine the doctrine which is said by the Evangelist to precede; then after it has been proved, but not till then, it may receive confirmation from miracles. But the mark of sound doctrine given by our Savior himself is its tendency to promote the glory not of men, but of God, (John 7:18; 8:50.) Our Savior having declared this to be the test of doctrine, we are in error if we regard as miraculous, works which are used for any other purpose than to magnify the name of God. 13 And it becomes us to remember that Satan has his miracles, which, although they are tricks rather than true wonders, are still such as to delude the ignorant and unwary. Magicians and enchanters have always been famous for miracles, and miracles of an astonishing description have given support to idolatry: these, however, do not make us converts to the superstitions either of magicians or idolaters. In old times, too, the Donatists used their power of working miracles as a battering-ram, with which they shook the simplicity of the common people. We now give to our opponents the answer which Augustine then gave to the Donatists, (in Joan. Tract. 23,) “The Lord put us on our guard against those wonder-workers when he foretold that false prophets would arise, who, by lying signs and divers wonders would, if it were possible deceive the very elect,” (Matthew 24:24.) Paul, too, gave warning that the reign of antichrist would be “with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” (2 Thessalonians 2:9.)

But our opponents tell us that their miracles are wrought not by idols, not by sorcerers, not by false prophets, but by saints: as if we did not know it to be one of Satan’s wiles to transform himself “into an angel of light,” (2 Corinthians 11:14.) The Egyptians, in whose neighborhood Jeremiah was buried, anciently sacrificed and paid other divine honors to him, (Hieron. In Praef. Jeremy.) Did they not make an idolatrous abuse of the holy prophet of God? and yet, in recompense for so venerating his tomb, they thought that they were cured of the bite of serpents. What, then, shall we say but that it has been, and always will be, a most just punishment of God, to send on those who do not receive the truth in the love of it, “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”? (2 Thessalonians 2:11.) We, then, have no lack of miracles, sure miracles, that cannot be gainsaid but those to which our opponents lay claim are mere delusions of Satan, in as much as they draw off the people from the true worship of God to vanity.

John Calvin-Prefatory Address to Francis King of the French-Institutes of the Christian Religion