ALTHOUGH Christ, the Sun of righteousness, shining upon us through the gospel, hath, as Paul declares, after conquering death, given us the light of life; and hence on believing we are said to have passed from “death unto life,” being no longer strangers and pilgrims, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, who has made us sit with his only begotten Son in heavenly places, so that nothing is wanting to our complete felicity; yet, lest we should feel it grievous to be exercised under a hard warfare, as if the victory obtained by Christ had produced no fruit, we must attend to what is elsewhere taught concerning the nature of hope. For since we hope for what we see not, and faith, as is said in another passage, is “the evidence of things not seen,” so long as we are imprisoned in the body we are absent from the Lord. For which reason Paul says, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Our present condition, therefore, requires us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly;” “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Here there is need of no ordinary patience, lest, worn out with fatigue, we either turn backwards or abandon our post. Wherefore, all that has hitherto been said of our salvation calls upon us to raise our minds towards heaven, that, as Peter exhorts, though we now see not Christ, “yet believing,” we may “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls. For this reason Paul says, that the faith and charity of the saints have respect to the faith and hope which is laid up for them in heaven, (Col. 1:5.)
When we thus keep our eyes fixed upon Christ in heaven, and nothing on earth prevents us from directing them to the promised blessedness, there is a true fulfilment of the saying, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matth. 6:21.) Hence the reason why faith is so rare in the world; nothing being more difficult for our sluggishness than to surmount innumerable obstacles in striving for the prize of our high calling. To the immense load of miseries which almost overwhelm us, are added the jeers of profane men, who assail us for our simplicity, when spontaneously renouncing the allurements of the present life we seem, in seeking a happiness which lies hid from us, to catch at a fleeting shadow. In short, we are beset above and below, behind and before, with violent temptations, which our minds would be altogether unable to withstand, were they not set free from earthly objects, and devoted to the heavenly life, though apparently remote from us. Wherefore, he alone has made solid progress in the Gospel who has acquired the habit of meditating continually on a blessed resurrection.
John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Institutes of the Christian Religion, (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 2:607–608.