I've read many extended parts of Calvin's Institutes over the years, especially his chapters on justification and on the sacraments. But I've never read the whole thing from start to finish. So I've decided to read it this year using the 1-volume Beveridge translation in the nice edition published recently by Hendrickson for the quincentennial of his birth.
There are so many great passages - perhaps I'll quote some here on this blog as they strike me. Here is one that I enjoyed. In his discussion of the doctrine that God uses the reprobate as instruments in his hand to perform his will (yet in such a way that God is not the author of sin), Calvin writes:
"As I have hitherto stated only what is plainly and unambiguously taught in Scripture, those who hesitate not to stigmatize what is thus taught by the sacred oracles, had better beware what kind of censure they employ. If, under a pretense of ignorance, they seek the praise of modesty, what greater arrogance can be imagined than to utter one word in opposition to the authority of God -- to say, for instance, 'I think otherwise' -- 'I would not have this subject touched'? But if they openly blaspheme, what will they gain by assaulting heaven? Such petulance, indeed, is not new. In all ages there have been wicked and profane men, who rabidly assailed this branch of doctrine. But what the Spirit declared of old by the mouth of David (Ps 51:6), they will feel by experience to be true -- God will overcome when he is judged. David indirectly rebukes the infatuation of those whose license is so unbridled, that from their groveling spot of earth they not only plead against God, but arrogate to themselves the right of censuring him. At the same time, he briefly intimates that the blasphemies which they belch forth against heaven, instead of reaching God, only illustrate his justice, when the mists of their calumnies are dispersed. Even our faith, because founded on the sacred word of God, is superior to the whole world, and is able from its height to look down upon such mists" (Institutes I.xviii.3).
I love Calvin's confidence in the "clear and unambiguous" teaching of the Word of God. Those who assail his doctrine, assail the Word of God. They do so from "their groveling spot of earth," while he stands upon the heights "to look down upon such mists." Our faith is founded upon the sacred Word of God.