JOHN CALVIN: 'THE TRUE CALLING OF WOMEN' (8)
Posted at Purely Presbyterian:
The 19th Sermon
upon the second chapter of 1 Timothy
“If they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.“
Now let us come to that which he setteth down touching faith, and charity, sanctification, and modesty. I said before that this was to put a difference between the faithful and the heathen. For there have been found virtuous women among the heathen, yea, more virtuous (as touching the outward shew), than we shall oftentimes see among them which term themselves to be the Church of God. And therefore if women do their duty only as touching their housewifery, and taking pains about the house, it is not enough. For there are many (as I said) which had no religion, and yet notwithstanding, left not to have this virtue, which is praiseworthy, as touching the world. Therefore let us mark that this is not the chiefest matter, that women take such pains about their housewifery: but faith and charity must go before. And again they must be holy women, that is to say, they must be governed by the fear of God, and have such modesty as we spake of before. Such a modesty I say, that they desire not any superfluity or pomp, but have this shame which Paul spake of before. And this is the sum of that which is here set down for the conclusion.
Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Now we have to mark that when the heathen and infidels played the good housewives, they had no regard to God, and therefore it never came in reckoning—neither doth it deserve to be counted for—a virtue. True it is that the world will always take it so but God maketh no account of it. And why so? We said before, that if a woman take pains about her children, either to bear them or to nurse them, and submit herself wholly to God’s will, it is a sacrifice. And wherefore? Because she humbleth herself, knowing that they are so many chastisements for sins, knowing that seeing God pronounced such a sentence, it is good reason, no man reply against it, and if this obedience be not, all the rest is but smoke. As for example, a woman that was never instructed in the faith, and never received any good doctrine, so that which she could never set her mind upon God, it is true, that she will fear this ignominy, that she be not pointed at with the finger, that she be not mocked at, for not playing the good housewife, or for giving any evil example. But because she passeth not for God, all this will become as nothing, as indeed it is not to be accounted for any virtue.
So then let us mark well, that the best works we can do shall be of no value, but God will reprove them if they proceed not from faith. For this is the root from whence good fruits come, and without that root there is nothing but a goodly shew, which hath no steadfastness in it. And thus we have to mark that Paul addeth not here the word, “Faith,” in vain—to shew us what virtues soever we commend, shall not be commended of God (as indeed they deserve no commendation), unless they be grounded on faith, and proceed from thence.