Monday, 4 April 2011

Show your Power O Lord!

Our Lord has instituted the sacraments for the express purpose of serving to establish and increase our faith. 
But the sacraments properly perform their role only when accompanied by the Spirit, that inward teacher, whose energy alone penetrates the heart, stirs up the affections, and procures access for the sacraments into our souls. If the Spirit be lacking, the sacraments can accomplish nothing more in our minds than the splendour of the sun shining on blind eyes or a voice sounding in deaf ears. 
 It is now clear in what way, according to this view, a godly mind is strengthed in faith by means of the sacraments. That is in the same way in which the eyes see by the brightness of the sun, or the ears hear by the sound of a voice, so the eyes would not be affected by any light unless they were endowed with a sharpness of vision capable of being illuminated of themselves; and the ears would never be struck by any noise, unless they were created and fitted for hearing.  
But if it is true, as has been explained, that in the eye it is the power of vision which enables it to see the light, and in the ear the power of hearing which enables it to perceive the voice, and that in our hearts it is the work of the Holy Spirit to commence, maintain, cherish, and establish faith, then it follows, both that the sacraments do not profit one bit without the energy of the Holy Spirit; and yet that in hearts previously taught by that Schoolmaster, there is nothing to prevent the sacraments from strengthening and increasing faith.  
There is only this difference, that the faculty of seeing and hearing is naturally implanted in the eye and ear; whereas, Christ acts in our minds above the measure of nature by special grace.(Calvin's Institutes, Book 4, CH 14.9)

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