This Friday is Calvin's 500th birthday.
Let us face it. In the world of Protestantdom, we are surrounded and circled around by Calvinists and those he influenced. In my country of birth, Lutherans are not even a blip in the radar. You won't find us much in the city. You will find us in the mountains and remote rural places but not in the urban areas. Luther is only known to handful of Protestant pastors there. If an Evangelical pastor there knows Luther, you can bet he is pretty educated.
There are quite a few wise words that Calvin said that I like. I stress the few (LOL).
Have you read his prayers? I certainly come out impressed by his spirituality whenever I read them.
I was reminded of him when I visited Ichabod who featured a couple of things he said regarding the sacraments in connection to Enthusiasm.
Here is an example from Calvin's Institutes:
We must not suppose that there is some latent virtue inherent in the sacraments by which they, in themselves, confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon us, in the same way in which wine is drunk out of a cup, since the only office divinely assigned them is to attest and ratify the benevolence of the Lord towards us; and they avail no farther than accompanied by the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, and make us capable of receiving this testimony, in which various distinguished graces are clearly manifested…They [the sacraments] do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us.
What did Calvin do in the above quote? He weakened the connection of the Sacraments with the HS. In short, for Calvin, the Sacraments may or may not be accompanied by the HS. For him, there is no guarantee that the HS will accompany the Sacraments for sure, the HS is detached from the Sacraments. I have several theories as to what might be going on in his psyche that led him to say this stuff but that is for another post.
What then is the effect of this detachment or lack of guarantee that the HS is with the Sacraments? You cannot look to it. Calvin's ambeguity has a negative effect on the believer in that he becomes at a loss as to where God's promises are located. He no longer has a guarantee that when he goes there, God will meet him there. Hence, the believer may have to look for a zap from above, and they often do, ergo, Enthusiasm.
At least with Zwingli, it was much better, at least with him, you knew he said the Sacraments were mere symbols. You knew where he stood, and he was wrong. Calvin's vague position I believe has led to the chaos we see in Evangelicalism. This uncertainty as to where the HS works and what He uses to supply what God demands (faith) is like being in a ship that has lost its rudder.
Contrast the above with what the BoC on FC, SD XI says about the matter:
Furthermore, the declaration in John 6:44 is right and true, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him."However, the Father will not do this without means, but hasordained His Word and Sacraments for this purpose as ordinarymeans and instruments. It is not the will of the Father or ofthe Son that a person should not hear or should despise thepreaching of His Word and wait for the drawing of the Fatherwithout the Word and Sacraments. For the Father draws indeed by the power of His Holy Spirit. However, He works according to His usual way. He works by the hearing of His holy, divine Word. Every poor sinner should therefore attend to the Word, hear it attentively, and not doubt the Father's drawing. For the HolySpirit will be with His Word in His power, and will work by it.That is the Father's drawing. (paragraphs 75-77)
Notice how the BoC leaves nothing uncertain, notice how boldly it asserts the HS is with the Word and the Sacraments. What is the effect of this to the struggling Christian who is in doubt if he has faith? He is assured that he can go to the Word and Sacraments where his faith may be strengthened, increased - he has a guarantee that the HS will meet him there. When he goes to the Word, he is certain, it is God speaking to him. When he goes to the Supper, he is certain, Jesus is pronouncing and giving evidence that his sins have been paid for. Assurance.