John Calvin writes in his little book Instruction in Faith (1537) concerning God’s electing grace:

Only let us have this resolved in ourselves that the dispensation of the Lord, although hidden from us, is nevertheless holy and just.

For, if he willed to ruin all mankind, he has the right to do it, and in those whom he rescues from perdition one can contemplate nothing but his sovereign goodness.

We acknowledge, therefore, the elect to be recipients of his mercy (as truly they are) and the rejected to be recipients of his wrath, a wrath, however, which is nothing but just.

Let us take from the lot of both the elect and others, reasons for extolling his glory.

On the other hand, let us not seek (as many do), in order to confirm the certainty of our salvation, to penetrate the very interior of heaven and to investigate what God from his eternity has decided to do with us. That can only worry us with a miserable distress and perturbation.

Let us be content, then, with the testimony by which he has sufficiently and amply confirmed to us this certainty.

For, as in Christ are elected all those who have been preordained to life before the foundations of the world were laid, so also he is he in whom the pledge of our election is presented to us if we receive him and embrace him through faith.

For what do we seek in election except that we be participants in the life eternal? And we have it in Christ, who was the life since the beginning and who is offered as life to us in order that all those who believe in him may not perish but enjoy the life eternal.

If, therefore, in possessing Christ through faith we possess in him likewise life, we need no further inquire beyond the eternal counsel of God.

For Christ is not only a mirror by which the will of God is presented to us, but he is a pledge by which life is as sealed and confirmed to us (trans. Paul T. Fuhrmann [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1949], 36-37).

Calvin here makes many good (what is often called) “pastoral” points. First, God is just in his election of some to everlasting life. God’s election should strike us with great humility and praise (it is incredible mercy). God’s election is, like all other things, to the praise of his glory. We should not fret ourselves with the question of our election, especially in trying to discover the secret counsel of God on this matter. Instead, let us embrace Christ freely offered to us in the gospel.

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