John Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion Book Four CHAPTER 12
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John Calvin Collection

(Discussion of power of the keys in true discipline: the ends and processes of discipline, 1-7)


The discipline of the church, the discussion of which we have deferred to this place, must be treated briefly, that we may thereafter pass to the remaining topics. Discipline depends for the most part upon the power of the keys F397 and upon spiritual jurisdiction. To understand it better, let us divide the church into two chief orders: clergy and people. I call by the usual name "clergy"F398 those who perform the public ministry in the church. We shall first speak of common discipline, to which all ought to submit; then we shall come to the clergy, who, besides the common discipline, have their own.F399

But because some persons, in their hatred of discipline, recoil from its very name, let them understand this: if no society, indeed, no house which has even a small family, can be kept in proper condition without discipline, it is much more necessary in the church, whose condition should be as ordered as possible. Accordingly, as the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so does discipline serve as its sinews, through which the members of the body hold together, each in its own place. Therefore, all who desire to remove discipline or to hinder its restoration—whether they do this deliberately or out of ignorance—are surely contributing to the ultimate dissolution of the church. For what will happen if each is allowed to do what he pleases? Yet that would happen, if to the preaching of doctrine there were not added private admonitions, corrections, and other aids of the sort that sustain doctrine and do not let it remain idle. Therefore, discipline is like a bridle to restrain and tame those who rage against the doctrine of Christ; or like a spur to arouse those of little inclination; and also sometimes like a father’s rod F400 to chastise mildly and with the gentleness of Christ’s Spirit those who have more seriously lapsed. When, therefore, we discern frightful devastation beginning to threaten the church because there is no concern and no means of restraining the people, necessity itself cries out that a remedy is needed. Now, this is the sole remedy that Christ has enjoined and the one that has always been used among the godly.


The first foundation of discipline is to provide a place for private admonition; that is, if anyone does not perform his duty willingly, or behaves insolently, or does not live honorably, or has committed any act deserving blame—he should allow himself to be admonished; and when the situation demands it, every man should endeavor to admonish his brother. But let pastors and presbyters be especially watchful to do this, for their duty is not only to preach to the people, but to warn and exhort in every house, wherever they are not effective enough in general instruction. Paul teaches this when he relates that he taught privately and from house to house [ <442020> Acts 20:20], and declares himself "innocent of the blood of all" [verse 26], because he "ceased not to admonish everyone night and day with tears" [ <442031> Acts 20:31]. For doctrine obtains force and authority where the minister not only explains to all together what they owe to Christ, but also has the right and means to require that it be kept by those whom he has observed are either disrespectful or languid toward his teaching.

If anyone either stubbornly rejects such admonitions or shows that he scorns them by persisting in his own vices, after having been admonished a second time in the presence of witnesses, Christ commands that he be called to the tribunal of the church, that is, the assembly of the elders,F401 and there be more gravely admonished as by public authority, in order that, if he reverences the church, he may submit and obey. If he is not even subdued by this but perseveres in his wickedness, then Christ commands that, as a despiser of the church, he be removed from the believers’ fellowship [ <401815> Matthew 18:15,17].


But because Christ is here speaking only of secret faults, we must postulate this division: some sins are private; others, public or openly manifest.F402 Of the former, Christ says to every individual: "Reprove him, between you and him alone" [ <401815> Matthew 18:15]. Paul says to Timothy of open sins: "Rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear" [ <540520> 1 Timothy 5:20]. For Christ had previously said, "If your brother has sinned against you" [ <401815> Matthew 18:15]. This phrase ["against you"] (unless you wish to be contentious) you cannot otherwise understand than as "with your knowledge alone, no others being aware." But what the apostle enjoins upon Timothy concerning reproving openly those who sin openly, he himself follows in the case of Peter. For when Peter sinned to the point of public scandal, Paul did not admonish him privately but brought him into the presence of the church [ <480214> Galatians 2:14].

This, then, will be the right sequence in which to act: to proceed in correcting secret sins according to the steps laid down by Christ; but in open sins, if the offense is indeed public, to proceed at once to solemn rebuke by the church.


Here is another distinction: of sins, some are faults; others, crimes or shameful acts.F403 To correct these latter ones, we must not only use admonition or rebuke, but a severer remedy: as Paul shows when he not only chastises the incestuous Corinthian with words but punishes him with excommunication, as soon as he has been apprised of the crime [ <460503> 1 Corinthians 5:3 ff.]. Now, therefore, we begin to see better how the spiritual jurisdiction of the church, which punishes sins according to the Lord’s Word, is the best support of health, foundation of order, and bond of unity. Therefore, in excluding from its fellowship manifest adulterers, fornicators, thieves, robbers, seditious persons, perjurers, false witnesses, and the rest of this sort, as well as the insolent (who when duly admonished of their lighter vices mock God and his judgment), the church claims for itself nothing unreasonable but practices the jurisdiction conferred upon it by the Lord. Now, that no one may despise such a judgment of the church or regard condemnation by vote of the believers as a trivial thing, the Lord has testified that this is nothing but the publication of his own sentence, and what they have done on earth is ratified in heaven. For they have the Word of the Lord to condemn the perverse; they have the Word to receive the repentant into grace [ <401619> Matthew 16:19; 18:18; <432023> John 20:23]. Those who trust that without this bond of discipline the church can long stand are, I say, mistaken; unless, perhaps, we can with impunity go without that aid which the Lord foresaw would be necessary for us. Truly, the variety of uses of this discipline will better show how great the need of it is!


In such corrections and excommunication, the church has three ends in view. The first is that they who lead a filthy and infamous life may not be called Christians, to the dishonor of God, as if his holy church [cf. <490525> Ephesians 5:25-26] were a conspiracy of wicked and abandoned men. For since the church itself is the body of Christ [ <510124> Colossians 1:24], it cannot be corrupted by such foul and decaying members without some disgrace falling upon its Head. Therefore, that there may be no such thing in the church to brand its most sacred name with disgrace, they from whose wickedness infamy redounds to the Christian name must be banished from its family. And here also we must preserve the order of the Lord’s Supper, that it may not be profaned by being administered indiscriminately.F404 For it is very true that he to whom its distribution has been committed, if he knowingly and willingly admits an unworthy person whom he could rightfully turn away, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord’s body to dogs. On this account, Chrysostom gravely inveighs against priests who, fearing the power of great men, dare exclude no one. "Blood," he says, "will be required at your hands. [ <260318> Ezekiel 3:18; 33:8.] If you fear a man, he will laugh at you; but if you fear God, you will be revered also among men. Let us not dread the fasces, the purple, the crowns; here we have a greater power. I truly would rather give my body to death, and let my blood be poured out, than participate in that pollution."F405 Therefore, lest this most hallowed mystery be disgraced, discretion is very much needed in its distribution. Yet this can be had only through the jurisdiction of the church.

The second purpose is that the good be not corrupted by the constant company of the wicked, as commonly happens. For (such is our tendency to wander from the way) there is nothing easier than for us to be led away by bad examples from right living. The apostle noted this tendency when he bade the Corinthians expel the incestuous man from their company. "A little leaven," he says, "ferments the whole lump." [ <460506> 1 Corinthians 5:6.] And he foresaw such great danger here that he prohibited all association with him. "If any brother," he says, "bears among you the name of fornicator, miser, worshiper of idols, drunkard, or reviler, I do not allow you even to take food with such a man." [ <460511> 1 Corinthians 5:11 p.]

The third purpose is that those overcome by shame for their baseness begin to repent. They who under gentler treatment would have become more stubborn so profit by the chastisement of their own evil as to be awakened when they feel the rod. The apostle means this when he speaks as follows: "If anyone does not obey our teaching, note that man; and do not mingle with him, that he may be ashamed" [ <530314> 2 Thessalonians 3:14 p.]. Likewise, in another passage, when he writes that he has delivered the Corinthian man to Satan: "that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord" [ <460505> 1 Corinthians 5:5]; that is (as I interpret it), Paul gave him over to temporary condemnation that he might have eternal salvation. But he speaks of "delivering over to Satan" because the devil is outside the church, as Christ is in the church.F406 Some authorities refer this phrase to a certain vexing of the flesh,F407 but this seems very doubtful to me.


With these purposes enumerated, it remains for us to see how the church carries out this part of discipline which falls within its jurisdiction. To begin with, let us keep the division set forth above: that some sins are public; others, private or somewhat secret.F408 Public sins are those witnessed not by one or two persons, but committed openly and to the offense of the entire church. I call secret sins, not those completely hidden from men, as are those of hypocrites (for these do not fall under the judgment of the church), but those of an intermediate sort, which are not unwitnessed, yet not public.

The first kind does not require the steps which Christ lists [ <401815> Matthew 18:15-17]; but when any such sin appears, the church ought to do its duty in summoning the sinner and correcting him according to his fault.

In the second kind, according to that rule of Christ, the case does not come before the church until the sinner becomes obstinate. When it has come before the church, then the other division between crimes and faults is to be observed. For such great severity is not to be used in lighter sins, but verbal chastisement is enough—and that mild and fatherly—which should not harden or confuse the sinner, but bring him back to himself, that he may rejoice rather than be sad that he has been corrected. But shameful acts need to be chastised with a harsher remedy. Nor is it enough if he, who by setting a bad example through his misdeed has gravely injured the church, be chastised only with words; but he ought for a time to be deprived of the communion of the Supper until he gives assurance of his repentance. For Paul not only rebuked the Corinthian in words but banished him from the church, and chided the Corinthians for bearing with him so long [ <460501> 1 Corinthians 5:1-7].

The ancient and better church kept this procedure while lawful government flourished. For if anyone had committed a crime that caused offense, he was ordered first to abstain from partaking of the Sacred Supper, then to humble himself before God and witness his repentance before the church. There were, moreover, solemn rites customarily enjoined as marks of repentance upon those who had lapsed. When these had been performed to the satisfaction of the church, the penitent was received into grace with laying on of hands, a reception that Cyprian often calls "peace." He also briefly describes such a rite. "They do penance," he says, "for a set period; then they come to public confession and through the laying on of hands of bishop and clergy receive the right to communion." Although the bishop with his clergy possessed a power of reconciliation, it required at the same time the consent of the people, as Cyprian elsewhere shows.F409


As no one was exempt from this discipline, both princes and common people submitted to it. And rightly! For it was established by Christ, to whom it is fitting that all royal scepters and crowns submit. Thus Theodosius, when he was deprived of the right of communion by Ambrose because of the slaughter committed at Thessalonica,F410 threw down all his royal trappings; in church he publicly wept over his sin, which had overtaken him through others’ deceit, and begged pardon with groaning and tears. For great kings ought not to count it any dishonor to prostrate themselves as suppliants before Christ, the King of Kings; nor ought they to be displeased that they are judged by the church. For inasmuch as they hear almost nothing but mere flatteries in their courts, it is all the more necessary for them to be rebuked by the Lord through the mouth of priests. Rather, they ought to desire not to be spared by the priests, that God may spare them.

In this place I say nothing about those persons through whom this jurisdiction is to be exercised; for I have discussed this elsewhere.F411 I add only this: Paul’s course of action for excommunicating a man is the lawful one, provided the elders do not do it by themselves alone, but with the knowledge and approval of the church; in this way the multitude of the people does not decide the action but observes as witness and guardian so that nothing may be done according to the whim of a few. Indeed, the whole sequence of the action, besides the calling on God’s name, ought to have that gravity which bespeaks the presence of Christ in order that there may be no doubt that he himself presides at his own tribunal.

(Moderation in discipline enjoined, and rigorists confuted, 8-13)


But we ought not to pass over the fact that such severity as is joined with a "spirit of gentleness" [ <480601> Galatians 6:1] befits the church. For we must always, as Paul bids us, take particular care that he who is punished be not overwhelmed with sorrow [ <470207> 2 Corinthians 2:7]. Thus a remedy would become destruction. But, from the purpose intended it would be better to take a rule of moderation. For, in excommunication the intent is to lead the sinner to repentance and to remove bad examples from the midst, lest either Christ’s name be maligned or others be provoked to imitate them. If, then, we look to these things, it will be easy for us to judge how far severity ought to go and where it ought to stop. Therefore, when a sinner gives testimony of his repentance to the church, and by this testimony wipes out the offense as far as he can, he is not to be urged any further. If he is so urged, the rigor will now exceed due measure. In this respect we cannot at all excuse the excessive severity of the ancients, which both completely departed from the Lord’s injunction and was also terribly dangerous. For when they imposed solemn penance and deprivation from Holy Communion sometimes for seven, sometimes for four, sometimes for three, years, and sometimes for life,F412 what could be the result but either great hypocrisy or utter despair? Likewise, it was not profitable or consonant with reason that one who had fallen again should not be admitted to a second repentance, but should be cast out of the church to the end of his life.F413 Whoever will weigh the matter with sound judgment will recognize their lack of prudence in this.

However, I rather disapprove the public custom here than accuse all those who have used it, of whom it is certain that some disliked the practice but put up with it because they could not correct it. In truth, Cyprian declares how it was not by his own will that he was so rigorous. "Our patience," he says, "and gentleness and humaneness are ready for all comers. I desire that all return to the church; I long that all our fellow soldiers be gathered within Christ’s camp and God the Father’s abode.

I forgive all things; I overlook much; in ardent zeal to bring the brotherhood together, I do not judicially examine in detail the faults committed against God. In pardoning faults more than I ought I am myself almost at fault. I embrace with prompt and full affection those returning in repentance, confessing their sin in making humble and simple satisfaction."F414 Chrysostom is somewhat harder, yet he speaks as follows: "If God is so kind, why does his priest wish to seem so rigorous?"F415 We know, moreover, what gentleness Augustine used toward the Donatists. He did not hesitate to take back to their bishoprics those who had returned from schism, and that immediately after repentance!F416 But because a contrary practice had come to prevail, they were compelled to yield their own judgment, and to follow it.


This gentleness is required in the whole body of the church, that it should deal mildly with the lapsed and should not punish with extreme rigor, but rather, according to Paul’s injunction, confirm its love toward them [ <470208> 2 Corinthians 2:8]. Similarly, each layman ought to temper himself to this mildness and gentleness. It is, therefore, not our task to erase from the number of the elect those who have been expelled from the church, or to despair as if they were already lost. It is lawful to regard them as estranged from the church, and thus, from Christ—but only for such time as they remain separated. However, if they also display more stubbornness than gentleness, we should still commend them to the Lord’s judgment, hoping for better things of them in the future than we see in the present. Nor should we on this account cease to call upon God in their behalf. And (to put it in one word) let us not condemn to death the very person who is in the hand and judgment of God alone; rather, let us only judge of the character of each man’s works by the law of the Lord. While we follow this rule, we rather take our stand upon the divine judgment than put forward our own. Let us not claim for ourselves more license in judgment, unless we wish to limit God’s power and confine his mercy by law. For God, whenever it pleases him, changes the worst men into the best, engrafts the alien, and adopts the stranger into the church. And the Lord does this to frustrate men’s opinion and restrain their rashness— which, unless it is checked, ventures to assume for itself a greater right of judgment than it deserves.


For when Christ promises that what his people "bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" [ <401818> Matthew 18:18], he limits the force of binding to ecclesiastical censure. By this those who are excommunicated are not cast into everlasting ruin and damnation, but in hearing that their life and morals are condemned, they are assured of their everlasting condemnation unless they repent. Excommunication differs from anathema in that the latter, taking away all pardon, condemns and consigns a man to eternal destruction; the former, rather, avenges and chastens his moral conduct. And although excommunication also punishes the man, it does so in such a way that, by forewarning him of his future condemnation, it may call him back to salvation. But if that be obtained, reconciliation and restoration to communion await him. Moreover, anathema is very rarely or never used. Accordingly, though ecclesiastical discipline does not permit us to live familiarly or have intimate contact with excommunicated persons, we ought nevertheless to strive by whatever means we can in order that they may turn to a more virtuous life and may return to the society and unity of the church. So the apostle also teaches: "Do not look upon them as enemies, but warn them as brothers" [ <530315> 2 Thessalonians 3:15]. Unless this gentleness is maintained in both private and public censures, there is danger lest we soon slide down from discipline to butchery.


This is also a prime requisite for the moderation of discipline, as Augustine argues against the Donatists: that individual lay-men, if they see vices not diligently enough corrected by the council of elders, should not therefore at once depart from the church; and that the pastors themselves, if they cannot cleanse all that needs correction according to their hearts’ desire, should not for that reason resign their ministry or disturb the entire church with unaccustomed rigor. For what Augustine writes is very true: "Whoever either corrects what he can by reproof, or excludes, without breaking the bond of peace, what he cannot correct—disapproving with fairness, bearing with firmness—this man is free and loosed from the curse." In another passage he gives the reason: "All pious method and measure of ecclesiastical discipline ought ever to look to ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ [ <490403> Ephesians 4:3], which the apostle orders us to keep by ‘forbearing one another’ [ <490402> Ephesians 4:2], and when it is not kept, the medicine of punishment begins to be not only superfluous but also harmful, and so ceases to be medicine." "He who diligently ponders these things," Augustine says, "neither neglects severe discipline in the maintenance of unity, nor by intemperate correction breaks the bond of fellowship." He indeed admits that not only ought pastors to exert themselves to the end that no fault may remain in the church, but that every man ought to strive to the same end according to his strength. And Augustine does not hide the fact that he who neglects to warn, reprove, and correct evil men, even though he does not favor them or sin with them, is guilty before the Lord. But if he plays such a part that he is able to cut the evil men off from partaking of the sacraments, and does not do so, he sins not in another’s misdeed, but in his own. Only, Augustine would have that prudence used which the Lord also requires "lest, when the tares are being uprooted, the grain be harmed" [ <401329> Matthew 13:29]. From this point he concludes with Cyprian: "Let a man mercifully correct what he can; let him patiently bear what he cannot correct, and groan and sorrow over it with love."F417


But Augustine says this because of the overscrupulousness of the Donatists, who, when they observed faults in the church which the bishops reproved in words but did not punish with excommunication (because they thought they could gain nothing in this way), inveighed fiercely against the bishops as betrayers of discipline and in an impious schism separated themselves from Christ’s flock. The Anabaptists act in the same way today. While they recognize no assembly of Christ to exist except one conspicuous in every respect for its angelic perfection,F418 under the pretense of their zeal they subvert whatever edification there is. "Such persons," says Augustine, "not out of hatred of other men’s wickedness but out of fondness for their own contentions, ensnaring the weak folk by boasting of their own name, strive either to draw them all to their side or at least to divide them. Puffed up in their pride, mad in their stubbornness, deceitful in their slanders, and turbulent in their seditions, they draw the shade of a rigid severity to hide their lack of the light of truth. Those things which Scripture enjoins to be done to correct the vices of the brethren with a modest remedy while sincere love is kept and unity of peace preserved, they seize upon and turn to the sacrilege of schism and the occasion of cutting off." Thus, "Satan transforms himself into an angel of light" [ <471114> 2 Corinthians 11:14, cf. Vg.] when, on occasion of just severity, he prompts men to merciless cruelty, seeking only to corrupt and break the bond of peace and unity. While this bond remains firm among Christians, all his powers are powerless to do harm, the mousetraps of his treachery are weakened, and his schemes of subversions vanish away.F419


Augustine especially commends this one thing: if the contagion of sin invades the multitude, the severe mercy of a vigorous discipline is necessary. "For advice to separate," he says, "is vain, harmful, and sacrilegious, because it becomes impious and proud; and it disturbs weak good men more than it corrects bold bad ones."F420 And what he there enjoins on others, he himself has faithfully followed. For, writing to Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, he complains that drunkenness (so severely condemned in Scripture) is raging unpunished in Africa, and he advises calling a council of bishops to provide a remedy. He then adds: "These things, in my judgment, are removed not roughly or harshly, or in any imperious manner; and more by teaching than by commanding, more by monishing than by menacing. For so we must deal with a great number of sinners. But we are to use severity toward the sins of a few."F421 Yet he does not mean that bishops should on this account condone public crimes, or remain silent because they cannot punish them more severely, as he explains afterward. But he wishes the method of correction to be so tempered that, as far as possible, it may bring health rather than death to the body. Therefore, he concludes as follows: "That precept of the apostle on the separation of evil persons must accordingly by no means be neglected when it can be applied without danger of violating peace. For he did not wish it to be done otherwise. And this principle must also be kept: bearing with one another, we should try to keep ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ [ <460503> 1 Corinthians 5:3-7; <490402> Ephesians 4:2- 3]?’ F422

(The use and purpose of lasting, private and public: principles to be guarded in it, 14-18)


The remaining part of discipline, which is not properly contained within the power of the keys, is where the pastors, according to the need of the times, should exhort the people either to fasting or to solemn supplications, or to other acts of humility, repentance, and faith—of which the time, the manner, and the form are not prescribed by God’s Word, but left to the judgment of the church. Also, the observance of this part, as it is useful, was always customary in the early church, even from the days of the apostles themselves. However, even the apostles were not the first authors, but took their example from the Law and the Prophets. For we see there that whenever anything grave occurred, the people were called together, and supplications and a fast appointed [ <290215> Joel 2:15; <441302> Acts 13:2-3]. The apostles, therefore, followed what was not new to the people of God, and what they foresaw would be useful to them. The explanation of other exercises is similar; by them the people can either be aroused to duty or kept within duty and obedience. There are examples scattered through the sacred histories, which there is no need to collect. To sum them up: whenever a controversy over religion arises which ought to be settled by either a synod or an ecclesiastical court, whenever there is a question about choosing a minister, whenever, finally, any difficult matter of great importance is to be discussed, or again when there appear the judgments of the Lord’s anger (as pestilence, war, and famine)—this is a holy ordinance and one salutary for all ages, that pastors urge the people to public fasting and extraordinary prayers. If anyone declines to accept the testimonies which can be cited from the Old Testament, as if inappropriate to the Christian church, the fact remains that the apostles also followed the same practice. Concerning prayers, however, I think scarcely anyone will be found who would raise a question. Let us, therefore, say something about fasting, since very many, while they do not understand how useful it is, regard it as not very necessary; others also, considering it superfluous, completely reject it.F423 And, since its use is not well understood, it can easily lapse into superstition.


Holy and lawful fasting has three objectives. We use it either to weaken and subdue the flesh that it may not act wantonly, or that we may be better prepared for prayers and holy meditations, or that it may be a testimony of our self-abasement before God when we wish to confess our guilt before him.

The first objective does not generally have a place in public fasting, because all bodies do not have the same constitution, or the same state of health; therefore, it is more appropriate to private fasting. The second is common to both. For both the whole church and every individual believer have need of such preparation for prayers. The third is common likewise. For it sometimes will happen that God will strike a nation with war, or pestilence, or some calamity. Under this common scourge, the whole people ought to accuse themselves and confess their guilt. But if the hand of the Lord should strike any individual, he ought to do this alone or with his family. The matter lies primarily in the motive of the heart. But when the heart is affected as it ought to be, it can hardly help breaking into outward testimony. And this especially happens if it tends to common edification, so that all together, by confessing their sin openly, render praise to the God of righteousness, and urge one another, each by his example.


Accordingly, fasting, as it is a sign of self-abasement, has more frequent use in public than among private individuals even though, as has been said,F424 it is common to both. In so far, therefore, as it concerns the discipline which we are now discussing, whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer. Thus, when the Antiochenes placed their hands upon Paul and Barnabas, the better to commend their ministry to God, a ministry of great importance, they joined fasting to prayer [ <441303> Acts 13:3]. Thus, both of these afterward, when they appointed ministers to churches, were accustomed to pray with fasting [ <441423> Acts 14:23]. Their sole purpose in this kind of fasting is to render themselves more eager and unencumbered for prayer. Surely we experience this: with a full stomach our mind is not so lifted up to God that it can be drawn to prayer with a serious and ardent affection and persevere in it. So are we to understand what Luke relates concerning Anna, that she has served the Lord in fasting and prayers [ <420237> Luke 2:37]. For Luke does not set the worship of God in fasting; but he means that the holy woman has in this way trained herself to sustained prayer. Such was Nehemiah’s fast when, with earnest zeal, he prayed God for the liberation of his people [ <160104> Nehemiah 1:4]. For this reason, Paul says that believers act rightly if they abstain for a time from the marriage bed, that they may be left freer for prayer and fasting. There he joins fasting with prayer as an aid to it, and warns that it is of no importance of itself except as it is applied to this end [ <460705> 1 Corinthians 7:5]. Then, when in the same passage he instructs married couples to give one another mutual consideration [ <460703> 1 Corinthians 7:3], it is clear that he is not speaking of daily prayers, but of something demanding more serious attention.


Again, if either pestilence, or famine, or war begins to rage, or if any disaster seems to threaten any district and people—then also it is the duty of the pastors to urge the church to fasting, in order that by supplication the Lord’s wrath may be averted. For where he causes danger to appear he warns that he is ready and, so to speak, armed for vengeance. Therefore, as in ancient times the accused were accustomed to abase themselves as suppliants with long beard, unkempt hair, and dark clothing, in order to appeal to the mercy of the judge—so, when we stand before God’s judgment seat, it redounds to his glory and to edification of the people, and is also profitable and salutary for us in humble garb to pray that his severity be averted. And it can be readily inferred from the words of Joel that this was the custom among the Israelites. For when he orders a trumpet to be sounded, an assembly to be called, fasting to be appointed, and the things that follow [ <290215> Joel 2:15-16], he is speaking of matters received as common custom. A little before, he had said that the trial of the people’s shameful acts was set, and announced that a day of judgment was now at hand, and had summoned the accused to plead their cause [cf. <290201> Joel 2:1]; then he cries out for them to hasten to sackcloth and ashes, to weeping and fasting [ <290212> Joel 2:12], that is, to prostrate themselves before the Lord also with outward testimonies. Indeed, sackcloth and ashes were perhaps more appropriate to those times; but there is no doubt that meeting and weeping and fasting, and like activities, apply equally to our age F425 whenever the condition of our affairs so demands. For since this is a holy exercise both for the humbling of men and for their confession of humility, why should we use it less than the ancients did in similar need? We read that not only the Israelite church, formed and established on the Word of God [ <090706> 1 Samuel 7:6; 31:13; <100112> 2 Samuel 1:12], but also the Ninevites, who had no teaching but the preaching of Jonah [ <320305> Jonah 3:5], fasted in token of sorrow. What reason is there why we should not do the same?

But, you object, this is an external ceremony which, together with others, ended in Christ. No, it is an excellent aid for believers today (as it always was) and a profitable admonition to arouse them in order that they may not provoke God more and more by their excessive confidence and negligence, when they are chastised by his lashes. Accordingly, Christ, when he excuses his apostles for not fasting, does not say that fasting is abolished, but appoints it for times of calamity and joins it with mourning. "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them." [ <400915> Matthew 9:15; <420534> Luke 5:34-35.]F426


But to avoid any error in the term, let us define what fasting is. For here we do not understand it simply as restraint and abstemiousness in food, but as something else. Throughout its course, the life of the godly indeed ought to be tempered with frugality and sobriety, so that as far as possible it bears some resemblance to a fast. But, in addition, there is another sort of fasting, temporary in character, when we withdraw something from the normal regimen of living, either for one day or for a definite time, and pledge ourselves to a tighter and more severe restraint in diet than ordinarily. This consists in three things: in time, in quality of foods, and in smallness of quantity. By time, I mean that we should carry out those acts of fasting for the sake of which that fast is appointed. As, for example, if a man fasts for the sake of solemn prayer, he should come to it without breaking his fast. Quality consists in that all elegance should be absent, and that, content with common and baser foods, we should not whet our palate with delicacies. The rule of quantity in this is that we should eat more sparingly and lightly than is our custom; only for need, not also for pleasure.

(Danger of superstition, notions of merit, and hypocrisy in fasting and the observance of Lent, 19-21)


But we must always take especial precaution lest any superstition creep in, as has previously happened to the great harm of the church. For it would be much more satisfactory if fasting were not practiced at all, than diligently observed and at the same time corrupted with false and pernicious opinions, into which the world repeatedly falls, unless the pastors meet it with the highest faithfulness and prudence. The first point is that they should always urge what Joel teaches, that they are to "rend their hearts, not their garments" [ <290213> Joel 2:13]; that is, they should admonish the people that God does not greatly esteem fasting of itself, unless an inner emotion of the heart is present, and true displeasure at one’s sin, true humility, and true sorrowing arising from the fear of God. Indeed, fasting is not otherwise useful than when it is joined as a lesser help to these. For God abominates nothing more than when men try to disguise themselves by displaying signs and outward appearances in place of innocence of heart. Therefore, Isaiah very severely inveighs against the Jews’ hypocrisy in thinking they were satisfying God when they had only fasted, whatever impiety and impure thoughts they harbored in their hearts. "Is this the fast that the Lord has chosen?" [ <235805> Isaiah 58:5-6, conflated], and what follows. Hypocritical fasting, then, is not only a useless and superfluous weariness but the greatest abomination.

Another evil akin to this, and to be utterly avoided, is to regard fasting as a work of merit or a form of divine worship. For since fasting is in itself a thing indifferent, and should have no importance except for the sake of those ends to which it ought to be directed, a most dangerous superstition is involved in confusing it with works commanded by God and necessary of themselves without any other consideration. Such was the delusion of the Manichees of old. Augustine, in refuting them, teaches clearly enough that fasting is to be judged solely by those ends which I have mentioned, and that it is approved by God only if it has reference to this.F427 There is a third error, not indeed so impious, but still dangerous: to require it to be kept too strictly and rigidly as if it were one of the chief duties, and to extol it with such immoderate praises that men think they have done something noble when they have fasted. In this respect, I dare not wholly absolve the ancient writers from having sown certain seeds of superstition and having furnished the occasion of the tyranny which afterward arose. In them one sometimes comes across sane and wise statements about fasting, but later one repeatedly meets immoderate praises of fasting, which set it up among the chief virtues.


At that time the superstitious observance of Lent had prevailed everywhere, because the common people thought that in it they were doing some exceptional service to God, and the pastors commended it as a holy imitation of Christ.F428 On the contrary, it is plain that Christ did not fast to set an example for others, but to prove, in so beginning to proclaim the gospel, that it was no human doctrine but actually one sent from heaven [ <400402> Matthew 4:2]. And the marvel is that such sheer hallucination (which is refuted so often and with such clear arguments) could creep upon men of keen judgment. For Christ does not fast often— as he would have to do if he had willed to lay down a law of yearly fasting—but only once, when he girded himself for the proclamation of the gospel. Nor does he fast in human fashion, as would have been fitting if he willed to arouse men to imitate him; but he shows an example rather to transport all men to admiration of him than to arouse them with zeal to imitate him. Finally, his reason for fasting was not different from that which Moses performed when he received the law at the Lord’s hand [ <022418> Exodus 24:18; 34:28]. For since that miracle was manifested in Moses to establish the authority of the law, it ought not to have been omitted in Christ, lest the gospel seem to yield to the law. But since that time it never entered any man’s mind, on the excuse of following Moses, to establish such a form of fasting among the people of Israel. And none of the holy prophets and patriarchs followed it, even when they had enthusiasm and zeal enough for all pious exercises. For the statement that Elijah went forty days without food and drink [ <111908> 1 Kings 19:8] only served to apprise the people that he had been raised up to restore the law, from which almost all Israel had departed. It was, therefore, mere wrongheaded zeal,F429 full of superstition, that they justified and painted fasting as the following of Christ.

However, there was amazing diversity in the manner of fasting, as Cassiodorus relates from the ninth book of Socrates’ history. For the Romans (he says) had only three weeks, but for them the fast was continuous, except on Sunday and Saturday. The Illyrians and Greeks had six; others, seven; but fasting was at intervals. They differed as much in choice of foods: some ate only bread and water; others added vegetables; still others did not abstain from fish and fowl; others made no distinction in foods.F430 Augustine also mentions this difference in his second letter to Januarius.F431


Worse times then followed, and to the misdirected zeal of the people was added the incompetence and lack of training of the bishops, as well as their lust for mastery and their tyrannical rigor. Wicked laws were passed which bind consciences with deadly chains. The eating of meat was forbidden, as if it would defile a man. Sacrilegious opinions were piled upon one another, until the depth of all errors was reached. And not to overlook any depravity, they began, with a completely absurd pretense of abstinence, to mock God. For the praise of fasting is sought in the most exquisite delicacies; then no dainties are enough; at no other time is there greater abundance or variety or sweetness of foods. They think that they are duly serving God in such and so elegant trappings. I forbear to mention that they who wish to be esteemed the most holy of men never glut themselves more foully. To sum up: for them the highest worship of God is to abstain from meats, and in their place to abound in all sorts of delicacies. On the other hand, the ultimate impiety, scarcely to be expiated by death, is for anyone to taste the slightest bit of bacon fat or rancid meat with dark bread. Jerome tells us that in his day there were certain men who mocked God with such follies. To avoid eating oil, they arranged for the most delicate foods to be brought to them from everywhere; indeed, to do violence to nature, they abstained from drinking water, but had sweet and costly draughts prepared for them, which they drank not from a cup but from a shell.F432 What was then a vice among the few is today common among all the wealthy, so that they fast for no other purpose than to feast more sumptuously and daintily. But I do not want to waste many words in a matter so obvious. I say only this, that both in fasts and in all other parts of discipline the papists have nothing right, nothing sincere, nothing well-ordered and arranged, to give them occasion to boast, as if anything remained among them deserving of praise.

(Requirement of clerical celibacy a harmful innovation, 22-28)


There follows the second part of discipline, which applies particularly to the clergy. It is contained in the canons that the ancient bishops imposed upon themselves and their order. Such are these: no cleric should devote himself to hunting, gambling, or reveling. No cleric should practice usury or commerce; no cleric should be present at wanton dances—and there are others of this sort. Penalties were also added to sanction the authority of the canons so that none might violate them with impunity. For this purpose the government of his own clergy was committed to each bishop, that he should rule them according to the canons and keep them to their duty. For this purpose annual visitations and synods were established to admonish anyone negligent in office and, if anyone sinned, to punish him according to his offense. The bishops themselves also had yearly provincial synods—in the early period twice yearly—by which they were judged as to whether they had acted at variance from their duty.F433 For if any bishop was too harsh or violent toward his clergy, the latter could appeal to a synod, even though only one cleric complained. The severest punishment was that the one who had sinned should be deposed from office and deprived of communion for a time. Because this was a permanent system, they used never to dismiss one synod without setting the place and time of the next.F434 For the convening of a universal council belonged to the emperor alone, as all the ancient summonses attest.F435 So long as this severity was in force, the clergy expected from the people no more by word than they themselves showed by example and act. Nay, they were much stricter with themselves than with the people. And it is truly fitting that the common people be ruled, so to speak, by a gentler and laxer discipline; that the clergy practice harsher censures among themselves and be far less indulgent toward themselves than toward others.

There is no need to relate how all this has fallen into disuse, since today nothing more unbridled and dissolute than this order can be imagined, and they have broken into such license that the whole world cries out. I admit that, lest all antiquity should with them seem utterly buried, they deceive the eyes of the simple with certain shadows, but these come no nearer to the ancient customs than the ape’s mimicry to that which men do by reason and planning. There is a memorable passage in Xenophon where he tells how foully the Persians had degenerated from the ordinances of their forebears and had lapsed from a strict manner of living to effeminacy and luxury, but to cover that disgrace, attentively kept the former rites. For while in the time of Cyrus sobriety and temperance still flourished, so that there was no need to wipe one’s nose, and it was even thought a disgrace, among their descendants it remained a religious custom that no one should blow mucus out of his nostrils, but was permitted to suck it up and feed within (to the point of putrefaction) the noisome humors which had been contracted through gluttony. Thus, according to the ancient precept, it was unlawful to bring drinking bowls to the table; but later merely to swill so that men needed to be carried away drunk was tolerable. There was an ordinance to eat but once a day. These good successors did not set this aside, but were accustomed to continue their drunken revels from noon to midnight. It was a long-established custom among the Persians, enjoined by law, that men should complete a day’s journey without eating; but to avoid weariness, it became the permitted and usual practice to shorten the journey to two hours.F436 Whenever the papists trot out their degenerate rules to show their relationship to the holy fathers, this example will sufficiently reprove their ridiculous imitation, so that no painter could express it more vividly.


In one thing they are extremely rigid and inexorable—in not permitting marriage to priests.F437 But it is needless to speak of the extent to which fornication prevails among them unpunished; and how, relying upon their foul celibacy, they have become callous to all crimes. Yet this prohibition clearly shows what a plague all their traditions are. For it has not only deprived the church of good and fit pastors, but has also brought in a sink of iniquities and has cast many souls into the abyss of despair. Surely the forbidding of marriage to priests came about by an impious tyranny not only against God’s Word but also against all equity. First, to forbid what the Lord left free was by no means lawful to men. Again, that the Lord expressly took care by his Word that this freedom should not be infringed upon is too clear to require a long proof. I pass over the fact that Paul in many passages wishes a bishop to be a man of one wife [ <540302> 1 Timothy 3:2; <560106> Titus 1:6]. But what could be more forcefully said than when he declares by the Holy Spirit that in the Last Days there will be impious men who forbid marriage, and calls them not only impostors but demons [ <540401> 1 Timothy 4:1,3]? that the prohibition of marriage is a doctrine of demons is then a prophecy, a sacred oracle of the Holy Spirit, and by it the Spirit willed from the beginning to arm the church against dangers?

But they think they have neatly escaped when they twist this sentence to Montanus, the Tatianists, the Encratites, and other ancient heretics. They (the papists say) alone condemned matrimony; we do not damn it at all, but debar from it only the ecclesiastical order, for which we deem it unfitting.F438 As if this prophecy, even though at first fulfilled in those heretics, did not apply also to the papists; or as if this childish quibble were worth listening to, to deny that they prohibit marriage because they do not prohibit it to all! For it is as if a tyrant should contend that a law is not unjust when only a part of a city is oppressed with its injustice!


They object that the priest should be distinguished from the people by some mark. As if the Lord had not also foreseen in what ornaments priests ought to excel! Thus they blame the apostle for the disturbed order and disfigured comeliness of the church, who, when he sketched the perfect pattern of the good bishop, dared put marriage among the other endowments which he required in him. I know how they interpret this [ <540302> 1 Timothy 3:2; <560106> Titus 1:6], namely, that a man who had a second wife must not be chosen.F439 And I admit that this is no new interpretation, but from its context it is plainly false.F440 For Paul immediately prescribes what sort the wives of bishops and deacons need to be [ <540311> 1 Timothy 3:11].

Paul lists marriage among the virtues of the bishop; the papists teach that it is an intolerable fault in the church order. And, please God, not content with this general blame, they call it in their canons uncleanness and pollution of the flesh.F441 Let every man ponder from what workshop these things have come! Christ deems marriage worthy of such honor that he wills it to be an image of his sacred union with the church [ <490523> Ephesians 5:23-24, 32]. What more splendid commendation could be spoken of the dignity of marriage? With what shamelessness will that be called unclean or defiled in which a likeness of Christ’s spiritual grace shines forth!


Now, although their prohibition so clearly conflicts with God’s Word, they still find something to defend it in Scripture. The Levitical priests, whenever their turn to minister came, had to sleep apart from their wives in order to be pure and unspotted to handle sacred things [cf. <092105> 1 Samuel 21:5 ff.]. Therefore, it would be very unseemly for our sacred rites—which are much nobler and occur daily—to be administered by married men. As if the role of the gospel ministry and the Levitical priesthood were one and the same! For the Levitical priests as antitypes F442 represented Christ, who, mediator of God and men [ <540205> 1 Timothy 2:5], by his perfect purity was to reconcile the Father to us. But though sinners cannot in every respect express the pattern of his holiness, in order to make at least a sketch of it, they were ordered to purify themselves beyond the custom of men when they approached the sanctuary. For then they properly represented Christ, because they appeared at the Tabernacle (the image of the heavenly judgment seat) as peacemakers to reconcile the people to God. Because the pastors of the church do not play this part today, it is pointless to compare them with the priests. Therefore, the apostle boldly proclaims, without exception, that marriage is honorable among all men, but fornicators and adulterers are left to God’s judgment [ <581304> Hebrews 13:4]. And the apostles themselves prove by their example that marriage is not unworthy of the holiness of ally office, however excellent.F443 For Paul is witness that they not only kept their wives but took them about with them [ <460905> 1 Corinthians 9:5].


Then, it was an astonishing shamelessness: on their part to peddle this ornament of chastity as something necessary. This they did to the deep disgrace of the ancient church, which, while abounding in an excellent knowledge of God, still more excelled in holiness. For if they do not heed the apostles (they are accustomed sometimes to treat them with outright contempt), please, then, what will they do with all the ancient fathers, who certainly not only tolerated marriage in the order of bishops but also approved it?F444 Did they then promote a foul profanation of sacred things, inasmuch as the Lord’s sacraments were not duly celebrated among them? Indeed, there was agitation in the Council of Nicaea to require celibacy. For there are always superstitious little fellows who dream up something new to win admiration for themselves. But what was decreed? Paphnutius’ opinion was accepted, who declared that it was chastity for a man to cohabit with his own wife.F445 Therefore, marriage remained sacred among them; and it caused them no shame, nor was it thought to cast any spot upon the ministry.


Then those times followed when the too superstitious admiration of celibacy became prevalent. After this came those frequent and unrestrained rhapsodic praises of virginity, so that scarcely any other virtue was commonly believed to compare with it. And although marriage was not condemned as unclean, still its dignity was so weakened and its holiness so obscured that a man who did not refrain from it seemed not to aspire to perfection with enough strength of purpose. Hence those canons by which first, men who had come to the rank of priests were forbidden to contract marriage; next, it was forbidden for any but celibates or those who, along with their wives, had renounced the marriage bed to be taken into that order. I admit that these regulations, because they seemed to bring reverence to the priesthood, were also received with great approbation in antiquity. But if my adversaries claim antiquity against me, my first answer is that this freedom of bishops to be married existed both under the apostles and for some centuries afterward [ <540302> 1 Timothy 3:2]. The apostles themselves, and those pastors of prime authority who followed in their place, used this freedom without any difficulty. We ought to hold the example of the earlier church of greater importance than to judge as unlawful or unseemly what then was accepted with praise and was customary. Secondly, that age which with immoderate affection for virginity began to discriminate against marriage did not impose the law of celibacy upon priests as a thing necessary of itself, but because a celibate was preferred to a married man. And lastly, I answer that they did not require it in such a way that by necessity and force they compelled celibacy of those who were not fitted to keep continence. For while they punished fornications with very severe laws, in the case of those who contracted marriage they decreed only that they give up their office.F446


Therefore, whenever the defenders of this new tyranny seek the pretext of antiquity in defense of their celibacy, we shall have to require of them that they restore that ancient chastity in their priests; that they remove adulterers and fornicators; that they do not allow those to whom they forbid an honorable and modest use of the marriage bed to run unpunished into every sort of lusts; that they restore that now abandoned discipline by which all wantonness may be restrained; and that they free the church from this most shameful wickedness with which it has so long been defaced. When they concede this, then we shall have to admonish them once more not to claim as obligatory that which, being free, depends on its usefulness to the church.

Yet I do not say this because I believe that under any condition room ought to be given for these canons which cast the fetters of celibacy over the ecclesiastical order; but I do so in order that the wiser ones may understand with what effrontery our foes, in the name of antiquity, defame holy wedlock in priests.

As far as the fathers whose writings remain are concerned, when they speak from their own opinion, none, bexcept Jerome,F447 has so spitefully impugned the honorableness of marriage. We shall be content with Chrysostom’s tribute alone, because, since he was a particular admirer of virginity, he cannot be regarded as more profuse than the others in commendation of marriage. But here are his words: "The first degree of chastity is sincere virginity; the second, faithful marriage. Therefore, the second sort of virginity is the chaste love of matrimony."F448


FT397 Cf. IV. 11. 1, note 2; IV. 11. 5-6. The power of the keys has reference

to discipline and excommunication, a department of jurisdiction.


FT398 "Clericos." Cf. IV. 4. 9: "I would have preferred them to be given a

more proper name."

FT399 Cf. section 22, below.

FT400 Note the metaphors here: "sinews" (cf. IV. 20. 14), "bridle,"

"father’s rod." By discipline the church is bound together, the

individual is restrained, and where necessary, "chastised in mercy." Cf.

K. Barth, The Doctrine of the Word o[God, tr. Thomson, p. 78.

FT401 The sequence of the acts of discipline is Scriptural, and the church
acts through the session of elders (consessus Seniorurn). Cf. IV. 11. 6;

p. 1217, note 10.

FT402 cf. section 6, below.

FT403 "Delicta," "scelera," and "flagitia," respectively.

FT404 Calvin’s anxiety to prevent the profanation of the Lord’s Supper by

the participation of unfit persons is basic to his emphasis on

discipline. Cf. Niesel, The Theology of Calvin, pp. 197 ff. This is

explicitly stated in the articles presented to the Geneva Council,

January 13, 2537, where this sentence follows an earnest warning

against such profanation: "For this reason, our Savior set up in his

church the correction and discipline of excommunication" (CR 10. 1:7-

9; LCC 22. 50). Cf. Calvin’s Letter to Somerset, October 22, 1548:

"The duty of bishops and curates is to keep watch over that

[discipline] to the end that the Supper of our Lord may not be polluted

by people of scandalous lives" (CR 13. 76; tr. Calvin, Letters II. 197).

FT405 Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew lxxxii. 6 (MPG 58. 742; tr. NPNF

10. 496).

FT406 Augustine, Sermons ccxciv. 3. 3 (MPL 38. 1337); clxi. 3. 3 (MPL 38.

879; tr. LF Sermons II. 801 f.). Cf. Smits II. 49.

FT407 Chrysostom, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 5:5, homily 15. 2 (MPG

61. 123).

FT408 Beginning of section 3, above.

FT409 Cyprian, Letters lvii; 16. 2; 17. 2; 14. 4 (CSEL 3. ff. 650 ff., 518, 522,

512; tr. ANF [nos. liii, 9, 11, 5, respectively] V. 337 f., 290, 292, 283).

In the last of these passages Cyprian says, "From the commencement


of my episcopate I made up my mind to do nothing without your

advice and without the consent of the people."

FT410 Cf. IV. 11. 3-4.

FT411 IV. 11. 6.

FT412 Council of Ancyra (314) canons 9, 16, 20, 23-25 (Mansi II. 518-522;

tr., with notes, NPNF 2 ser. XIV. 66 f., 70, 73-75). In many instances

very protracted or lifetime penances are prescribed in the Libri

poenitentiales; see, for example, McNeill and Gamer, Medieval

Handbooks of Penance, pp. 280, 291, 302, 304, 339, 358.

FT413 Tertullian, On Modesty 20 (CCL II. 1324 f.; tr. ANCL XVIII. 114 f.).

Tertullian writes here as a Montanist, and argues from Hebrews 6:4-6

against reconciliation of grave offenders.

FT414 Cyprian, Letters 59. 16 (CSEL 3. 2. 686; tr. ANF V. 345).

FT415 Chrysostom, homily De non anathematizandis vivis atque defunctis

(MPG 48. 943 ff.).

FT416 Augustine, Letters 61. 2; cxxviii. 2; clxxxv. 6. 23; clxxxv, 10. 44 (MPL

33. 229, 489, 803, 812; CSEL 34. 2. 223; 44. 31; 57. 21; tr. FG 12. 302

f. [note 7]; 30. 164, 182 f.).

FT417 Augustine, Against the Letter of Parmenianus II. 1. 3; III. 1. 1; III. 2.

15; III. 1 2 (MPL 43. 51, 82, 94, 83); Cyprian, Letters 59. 16 (CSEL 3.

2. 686; tr. ANF [liv. 16] V. 345).

FT418 Gr. IV. 1. 13.

FT419 Augustine, Against the Letter of Parmenianus III. 3. 17-19; III. 11 1,

13 (MPL 43. 93-97, 82-83); cf. Cyprian, Letters lix (CSEL 3. 2. 686;

tr. ANF V. 397-402).

FT420 Augustine, op. cit., III. 2. 14 (MPL 43. 93).

FT421 Augustine, Letters 22. 1. 4. 5 (MPL 33. 92; tr. FC 12.54 f.).

FT422 Augustine, Against the Letter of Parmenianus III. 2. 15, 16 (MPL 43.

94 f.).

FT423 This virtually describes the position of Zwingli, and it also finds

expression in Luther; cf. Werke WA Tischreden II, no. 1299; tr. LCC

XVIII. 88; Zwingli, Commentary on True and False Religion (1525)

(CR Zwingli III. 891 f.); Liberty Respecting Food in Lent (CR Zwingli


I. 8-136; tr. S. M. Jackson, Latin Works of Huldreich Zwingli I. 71-

112). Bucer approves fasting "with repentance and prayer" (Ein

summarcher Begriff der Christlichen Lehre, 1548 [Resume sommaire

de la doctrine, ed. F. Wendel], pp. 70 ff.).

FT424 Section 15, above.

FT425 In this section the authorization of penitent public fasting in times of

calam- ity is explicit. Cf. Comm. Psalm 35:14; Comm. 1 Corinthians

7:5. Calvin finds authorization in the Old Testament but rejects literal

imitation of its mode of penitence.

FT426 The passage quoted was one of those relied on for support of the

Lenten fast (Cabrol, Dictionnaire, art. "Cardme").

FT427 Augustine, On the Morals of the Manichees II. 13. 27-28 (MPL 32.

1356 f.; tr. NPNF IV. 76); Against Faustus the Manichee 30. 5 (MPL

42. 493 f.; tr. NPNF IV. 330).

FT428 I.e., Christ’s forty-day fast. Cf. Augustine, Sermons ccv, ccvi, ccvii,

ccviii, ccix, ccx, ccxi (MPL 38. 1039-1058); Augustine, Letters Iv. 15.

28 (MPL 33. 217 f.; tr. FC 12. 283 ff.); Jerome, Commentary on

Isaiah 16 (on Isaiah 58:3) (MPL 24. 564); Against Jovinian II. 17

(MPL 23. 311; tr. NPNF 2 ser. VI. 401 f.). Cf. Cadier, Institution IV.

233, note 4.

FT429 "[kakoxhli>a]."

FT430 Socrates, Ecclesiastical History 5. 92, in Cassiodorus, Tripartite

History IX. 38 (MPL 69. 1155; tr. NPNF 9 ser. II. 131).

FT431 Augustine, Letters 54. 9. 9. 4. 5 (MPL 33. 900 ff.; tr. FC 19. 953 ff.).

FT432 Jerome, Against Jovinian II. 5-17 (MPL 93. 990 ff.; tr. NPNF 2 ser.

VI. 391-402); Letters 52. 12 (CSEL 54. 435; tr. NPNF 2 ser. VI. 95).

Cf. IV. 13. 9.

FT433 Apostolic Canons xlii-xliv, 25, 26, 36 (text and translation in Fulton,

Index canonum, pp. 94 f., 86 f., 90 f.).

FT434 Second Council of Toledo (527) canon 5; Third Council of Toledo

(589) canon 18 (Mansi VIII. 787; IX. 997).

FT435 Cf. IV. 7. 8, note 19.

FT436 Xenophon, Cyropaedeia VIII. 8. 8 (LCL edition II. 442 ff.).


FT437 Gr. IV. 4. 10, note 27; IV. 9. 14; IV. 13. 3, 8.

FT438 cf. Comm. 1 Timothy 4:3 (LCC XXIII. 345), a virtual repetition of

this passage (1543); Clichtove, Antilutherus I. 21, fo. 43a-46a.

FT439 Gratian, Decretum I. 26 (MPL 187. 149 ff.; Friedberg I. 95 ff.).

FT440 Augustine, On the Good of Marriage 18. 21 (MPL 40. 387; tr. NPNF

III. 408). RSV, 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6: "married only once."

FT441 Letter of Pope Siricius to Himerius 1. 7 (MPL 13. 1138 ff.; tr. Ayer,

Source Book, pp. 415 f.).

FT442 "[ajnti>tupoi]." Cf. II. 11. 3.

FT443 Calvin’s wife was living when this was written (1543).

FT444 Tertullian, Exhortation to Chastity 7 (CCL Tertullianus II. 1024 ff.; tr.

ANF IV. 54).

FT445 Paphnutius, a celebrated ascetic bishop, opposed the requirement of

celibacy when it was proposed at the Council of Nicaea (325),

declaring that marriage is honorable, that lawful cohabitation is

chastity, and that the proposed rule would be injurious. His advice

prevailed: Socrates, Ecclesiastical History 1. 11; Sozomen,

Ecclesiastical History 1. 23; Cassiodorus, Historia Tripartita II. 24

(MPL 69. 933; tr. NPNF 2 ser. II. 18, 256).

FT446 For numerous references to the medieval documents, see OS V. 236 f.

Calvin is also aware of the vigorous defense of sacerdotal celibacy by

such writers as Pighius, De Castro, and Latomus. Cf. IV. 4. 10, note

27, and the passages in Cabrol, Lea, Leclercq, and Coulton there cited.

FT447 Jerome, Against Jovinian I (MPL 23. 221-296; tr. NPNF 2 ser. VI.

346-386). In Book I, passim, Jerome assails the opinion that a virgin is

no better in God’s sight than a wife; but he disclaims the views of

Marcion, the Manichees, and Tatian.

FT448 Pseudo-Chrysostom, Homily on the Finding of the Cross, included in

Erasmus’ edition of Chrysostom (Basel, 1530) II. 130, but omitted by

later editors.