“Our happiness belongs to the heavenly life” by John Calvin

“We ought to know that the happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages—such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!

In the world the prosperity and well-being of a people depend partly on an abundance of all good things and domestic peace, partly on strong defenses that protect them from outside attacks. In like manner, Christ enriches His people with all things necessary for the eternal salvation of souls and fortifies them with courage to stand unconquerable against all the assaults of spiritual enemies.

From this we infer that He rules—inwardly and outwardly—more for our own sake than His. Hence we are furnished, as far as God knows to be expedient for us, with the gifts of the Spirit, which we lack by nature. By these first fruits we may perceive that we are truly joined to God in perfect blessedness. Then, relying upon the power of the same Spirit, let us not doubt that we shall always be victorious over the devil, the world, and every kind of harmful thing…

Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles—content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph. Such is the nature of His rule, that He shares with us all that He has received from the Father.

Now He arms and equips us with His power, adorns us with His beauty and magnificence, enriches us with His wealth. These benefits, then, give us the most fruitful occasion to glory, and also provide us with confidence to struggle fearlessly against the devil, sin, and death.

Finally, clothed with His righteousness, we can valiantly rise above all the world’s reproaches; and just as He Himself freely lavishes His gifts upon us, so may we, in return, bring forth fruit to His glory.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Ed. John T. McNeill, Library of Christian Classics (Nashville: Westminster John Knox, 1960), Vol. I, Book 2, Chapter XV, Section 4, 498-9.

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