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Kuyper, Abraham, 1837-1920.



Six Stone-lectures



Prof. A. K U IJ P E R.

D.D. L.L. D. M. P.



T. & T. CLARK.











Lectures on the L. P. ^'/^/z.f-foundation ,
Princeton N. J. U. S. A. lo Oct. 1898 s.s.


Calvinism a Life-system i

Calvinism and Religion 46

Calvinism and Politics 98

Calvinism and Science 143

Calvinism and Art 189

Calvinism and the Future 231



A traveller from the old European Continent, disem-
barking on the shore of this New World, feels as the
Psalmist says, that "his thoughts crowd upon him like
a multitude". Compared with the eddying waters of
your new stream of Hfe, the old stream in which he

^/^ was moving seems almost frostbound and dull; and
here, on American ground, for the first time, he realizes
how so many divine potencies, which were hidden away
in the bosom of mankind from our very creation, but

— which our old world was incapable of developing, are now
beginning to disclose their inward splendour, thus promis-
ing a still richer store of surprises for the Future.

You would not, however, ask meto forget the superiority
which, in many respects, the Old World may still claim,
in your eyes, as well as in mine. Old Europe remains
even now the bearer of a longer historical past, and
therefore stands before us as a tree rooted more deeply,
hiding between its leaves some more matured fruits of
life. You are yet in your Springtide, — we are passing



through our Fall; — and has not the harvest of Autumn
an enchantment of its own?

But, though, on the other hand, I fully acknowledge
the advantage you possess in the fact, that (to use another
simile) the train of life travels with you so immeasureably
faster than with us, — leaving us miles and miles be-
hind, — still we both feel that the life in Old Europe is
not some thing separate from life here; it is one and
the same current of human existence that flows through
both Continents.

By virtue of our common origin, yon may call us bone
of your bone, — ive feel that you are flesh of our flesh,
and although you are outstripping us in the most discou-
raging way, you will never forget that the historic cradle
of your wondrous youth stood in our old Europe, and
was most gently rocked in my once mighty Fatherland.

Moreover, besides this common parentage, there is
another factor which, in the face of even a wider
difference, would continue to unite your interests and
ours. Far more precious to us than even the develop-
ment of human life, is the crown which ennobles it,
and this noble crown of life for you and for me rests
in the Christian name. That crown is our common
heritage. It was not from Greece or Rome that the
regeneration of human life came forth; — that mighty
metamorphosis dates from Bethlehem and Golgotha;
and if the Reformation, in a still more special sense,
claims the love of our hearts, it is because it has
dispelled the clouds of sacerdotalism, and has unveiled
again to fullest view the glories of the Cross. But, in
deadly opposition to this Christian element, against the


very Christian name, and against its salutiferous influence
in every sphere of Hfe, the storm of Modernism has now
arisen with violent intensity.

In 1789 the turning point was reached.

Voltaire's mad cry, "-'Down with the scoundrel" was
aimed at Christ himself, but this cry was merely the
expression of the most hidden thought from which
the French Revolution sprang. The fanatic outcry of
another philosopher, "We no more need a God", and
the odious shibboleth "No God, no Master", of the
Convention, — these were the sacrilegious watchwords
which at that time heralded the liberation of man as
an emancipation from all Divine Authority. And if,
in His impenetrable wisdom, God employed that Revo-
lution as a means by which to overthrow the tyranny
of the Bourbons, and to bring a judgment on the princes
who abused His nations as their footstool, nevertheless
the principle of that Revolution remains thoroughly
anti-christian, and has since spread like a cancer,
dissolving and undermining all that stood firm and
consistent before our Christian faith.

There is no doubt than that Christianity is imperilled
by great and serious dangers. Two life systems i) are

I) As Dr. James Orr (in his valuable lectures on the Christian view
of God and the world, Edinb. 1897 p. 3) observes, the German technical
term Weltanschauung has no precise equivalent in English. He therefore
used the litteral translation viezv of the zvorld, notwithstanding this phrase
in English is limited by associations, which connect it predominatingly
with physical nature. For this reason th^nT ore explicit phrase : life and
world view seems to be preferable. My Americans friends however told
me that the shorter phrase : life system, on the other side of the ocean, is
often used in the same sense. So lecturing before an American public,


wrestling one with another, in mortal combat. Modernism
is bound to build a world of its own from the data of
the natural man, and to construct man himself from
the data of nature; while, on the other hand, all those
who reverently bend the knee to Christ and worship
Him as the Son of the Living God, and God himself,
are bent upon saving the '•'Christian Heritage". This
is the struggle in Europe, this is the struggle in America,
and this also, is the struggle for principles in which
my own country is engaged, and in which I myself have
been spending all my energy for nearly forty years.

In this struggle Apologetics ha^e advanced us not
one single step. Apologetics have invariably begun by
abandoning the assailed breastwork, in order to entrench
themselves cowardly in a ravelin behind it.

From the first therefore, I have always said to myself,
— '4f the battle is to be fought with honour and with
a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against
^principle ; then it must be felt that in Modernism the
vast energy of an all-embracing life-system assails us,
then also it must be understood that we have to take
our stand in a life-system of equally comprehensive and
far-reaching power. And this powerful life-system is not
to be invented nor formulated by ourselves, but is to
be taken and applied as it presents itself in history.

I took the shorter phrase, at least in the title of my first lecture, the
shortest expression always having some preference for what is to be the
general indication of your subject-matter. In my lectures on the contrary,
I interchanged alternately both phrases, of life-system and life anduwrld
view in accordance with the special meaning predominating in my argu-
mentation. See also Dr. Orr's note on page 365.


When thus taken, I found and confessed, and I still
hold, that this manifestation of the Christian principle
is given us in Calvinism. In Calvinism my heart has
found rest. From Calvinism have I drawn the inspiration,
firmly and resolutely to take my stand in the thick of
this great conflict of principles. And therefore, when I
was invited most honourably by your Faculty to give
the 5/^;/^-Lectures here this year, I could not hesitate
a moment as to my choice of subject. Calvinism, as
the only decisive, lawful, and consistent defence for
Protestant nations against encroaching, and overwhelm-
ing Modernism, — this of itself was bound to be my

Allow me therefore, in six lectures, to speak to you
on Calvinism.

I. On Calvinism as a life system,



and 6

On Calvinism and Religion,

On Calvinism and Politics,

On Calvinism and Science,

On Calvinism and Art,

On Calvinism and the Future.

Clearness of presentation demands that in this first
lecture 1 begin by fixing the conception of Calvinism
historically. To prevent misunderstanding we must first
know what we should not, and what we should, under-
stand by it. Starting therefore from the current use
of the term, I find that this is by no means the same in
different countries and in different spheres of life. The


name Calvinist is used in our t'm2» first as a sectarian
name. This is not tlie case in Protestant, but in Roman
Catholic countries, especially in Hungary and France.
In Hungary the Reformed Churches have a membership
of some two and a-half millions, and in both the Romish
and Jewish press of that country her members are
constantly stigmatized by the non-official name of'^Cal-
vinists", a derisive name applied even to those who have
divested themselves of all traces of sympathy with the
faith of their fathers. The same phenomenon presents
itself in France, especially in the Southern parts, where
•■^Calviniste" is equally, and even more emphatically, a
sectarian stigma, which does not refer to the faith or
confession of the stigmatized person, but is simply put
upon every member of the Reformed Churches, even
though he be an atheist. George Thiebaud, known for
his anti-Semitic propaganda, has at the same time revived
the anti-Calvinistic spirit in France, and even in the
Dreyfus-case, '•'Jews and Calvinists" were arraigned by
him as the two anti-national forces, prejudicial to the
'•'esprit gaulois". — Directly opposed to this is the ^rr^;/*^
use of the word Calvinism, and this I call the confes-
sional one. In this sense, a Calvinist is represented
exclusively as the outspoken subscriber to the dogma
of fore-ordination. They who disapprove of this strong
attachment to the doctrine of predestination cooperate
with the Romish polemists, in that by calling you
^'Calvinist", they represent you as a victim of dogmatic
narrowness ; and what is worse still, as being dangerous
to the real seriousness of moral life. This is a stigma
so conspicuously offensive that theologians like Hodge,


who from fulness of conviction were open defenders of
Predestination, and counted it an honor to be Calvinists,
were nevertheless so deeply impressed with the disfavour
attached to the "Calvinistic name", that for the sake
of commending their conviction, they prefered to speak
rather of Augustinianism than of Calvinism. — The
de7iominational title of some Baptists and Methodists
indicates a third use of the name Calvinist. No less a
man than Spurgeon belonged to a class of Baptists
who in England call themselves ""'Calvinistic Baptists",
and the Whitefield Methodists in Wales to this day
bear the name of ''^Calvinistic Methodists". Thus here
also it indicates in some way a confessional difference,
but is applied as the name for special church-denomina-
tions. Without doubt this practice would have been
most severely criticized by Calvin himself During his
life-time, no Reformed Church ever dreamed of naming
the Church of Christ after any man. The Lutherans
have done this, the Reformed Churches never. — But
beyond this sectarian, confessional, and denominational
use of the name "Calvinist", it serves moreover, in the
fourth place, as a scientific name, either in an historical,
philosophical or political sense. Historically, the name
of Calvinism indicates the channel in which the Refor-
mation moved, so far as it was neither Lutheran, nor
Anabaptist nor Socinian. In the philosophical sense,
we understand by it that system of conceptions which,
under the influence of the master-mind of Calvin raised
itself to dominance in the several spheres of life. And
as a political name, Calvinism indicates that political
movement which has guaranteed the liberty of nations


in constitutional statesmanship; first in Holland, then
in England, and since the close of the last century
in the United States. In this scientific sense, the name
of Calvinism is especially current among German scholars.
And the fact that this not only is the opinion of those
who are themselves of Calvinistic sympathies, but that
also scholars who have abandoned every confessional
standard of Christianity, nevertheless assign this profound
significance to Calvinism, appears from the testimony
borne by three of our best men of science, the first of
whom, Dr. Robert Fruin, declares that : "Calvinism
came into the Netherlands consisting of a logical system
of divinity, of a democratic Church-order of its own,
impelled by a severely-moral sense, and as enthusiastic
for the moral as for the religious reformation of man-
kind", i) Another historian, who was even more out-
spoken in his rationalistic sympathies, writes: "Calvinism
is the highest form of development reached by the
religious and political principle in the i6th century" 2).
And a third authority acknowledges that Calvinism has
liberated Switzerland, the Netherlands, and England, and

i) R. Fruin, Tien jar en tiit den tachtig^a7-igen oorlog, p. 151.

2) R. C. Bakhuizen van den Brink, Het htiwelijk van Willem
van Oranje met Anna van Saxen. 1853, p. 123: „Zoo al de laatste in
tijdorde, zoo was het Calvinisme de hoogste ontwikkelingsvorm van liet
Godsdienstig-staatkundig beginsel der zestiende eeuw. Zelfs de regtzinnige
Staatkundigen dier eeuw, zagen met niet minder verachting en afschuw
neder op den Geneefschen regeeringsvorm — als men het in onze dagen
zou kunnen doen, wanneer een Staat het socialisme tot beginsel mogt
aannenien. Een hcrvormingskamp, die zoo laat na het ontstaan der
Hervorming kwam als dat bij ons, in Frankrijk en in Schotland plaats
had, kon niet anders dan Calvinistisch en ten voordeele van het Cal-
I'inisme zijn."


in the Pilgrim Fathers has provided the impulse to the
prosperity of the United States, i) Similarly Ban-
croft, among you, acknowledged that Calvinism "has a
theory of ontology, of ethics, of social happiness, and
of human liberty, all derived from God". 2) Only in
this last-named, strictly scientific sense do I desire to
speak to you on Calvinism as an independent general
tendency, which from a mother-principle of its own, has
developed an independent form both for our life and

i) Cd. Busken Huet, Het Land van Rembrand, 2e druk. II. p, 223.

P. 159: „Was uit den aard der zaak de religie eene der hoofdzenuwen
van den Kalvinistischen Staat" enz. (om andere redenen de negotie);

en p. 10, noot 3: „De geschiedenis van onze vrijwording is voor een
groot gedeelte geschiedenis van onze hervorming, en de geschiedenis van
onze hervorming is grootendeels geschiedenis van de uitbreiding van het
Kalvinisme". Bakhuizen van den Brink, Studien en Schetsen IV. 68. v. g.

2) Hist, of the United States of Ajfierica, Ed. New York. II. p. 405.
Cf. Von Polenz, Geschichte des franzosischen Protestantisnms, 1857.
I. p. VIII : Eine Geschichte ... in welcher der Geist, den Luther in
Frankreich geweckt, dieses mit Eigenem und Fremden genahrt und
gefOrdert, Calvin aber gereinigt, geregelt, gehtltet, gestarkt, fixirt und als
ein bewegendes Ferment liber die Schranken des Raums und der
Verhaltnisse weiter getrieben hat, der in seinen mannigfachen Strahlen
alle geschichtlichen Momehte mehr oder weniger bertilirenden Brenn-
und Lichtpunkt bildet. Nennen wir diesen Geist, uneigentlich und
anachronistisch zwar, aber, da er ohne Calvin sich verfluchtigt haben
Vk^tlrde, nicht unwahr, Calvinismtis : so ist meine Geschichte, ausser der
des franzosischen Calvinismus im engeren und eigentlichen Sinne, die
seiner einwirkung auf Religion, Kirche, Sitte, Gesellschaft und sonstige
Verbal tnissen Frankreichs.

C. G. Mc.Crie, The public Worship of Presbyterian Scotland^
1892. p. 95: It may lead some to attach value to these sentiments of
Calvin if they know in what light the system which bears his stamp and
his name is regarded by an Anglican Churchman of learning and
insight, which give him a right to be lieard in such a matter. "The


for our thought among the nations of Western Europe
and North America, and at present even in South

The domain of Calvinism is indeed far broader than
the narrow confessional interpretation would lead us to
suppose. The aversion to naming the Church after a
man gave rise to the fact, that though in France the
Protestants were called "Huguenots", in the Netherlands

Protestant movement", wrote Mark Pattison, **was saved from being sunk
in the quicksands of doctrinal dispute chiefly by the new moral direction
given to it in Geneva, "Calvinism saved Europe.""

P. Hume Brown, John Aliox, 1895. P- 252: Of all the developments
of Christianity, Calvinism and the Church of Rome alone bear the stamp
of an absolute religion.

P. 257, The difference between Calvin and Castalio, and between Knox
and the Ana-baptist, was not merely one of doctrine and dogma: their
essential difference lay in the spirit with which they respectively regarded
human society itself.

R. Willis, Servetiis and Calvin, \%1']. p. 514, 5: There can be little
question, in fact, that Calvinism, or some modification of its essential
principles, is the form of religious faith that has been professed in the
modern world by the most intelligent, moral, industrious, and freest of

Chambers, Encyclopaedia, Philadelphia, 1888. in voce Calvinism:
"With the revival of the evangelical party in the end of the century
Calvinism revived, and it still maintains, if not an absolute sway, yet a
powerful influence over many minds in the Anglican establisliment. It is
one of the most living and powerful among the creeds of the Reformation.

Dr. C. Sylvester Horne, Evang. Magazine, Aug. 1898. New Calvinism,
P- 375 V. v. And, Dr. W. IIastie, Theology as Science, Glasgow 1S99.
p. 100—106: My apology and plea for the Reformed Theology, in presence
of the other theological tendencies of the time, have been founded upon
the two most general and fundamental points of creed that can betaken:
the universality of its basis in human nature, as the condition of its method,
and the universality of God, as the ground of its absolute truth.


"Beggars", in Great Britain "Puritans" and "Presby-
terians", and in North America "Pilgrim P'athers", yet
all these products of the Reformation which on your
Continent and ours bore the special Reformed type, were
of Calvinistic origin. But the extent of the Calvinistic
domain should not be hmited to these purer revelations^
Nobody applies such an exclusive rule to Christianity.
Within its boundaries we embrace not only Western
Europe, but also Russia, the Balkan States, the Arme-
nians, and even Menelik's empire in Abyssinia. Therefore
it is but just that in the same way we should include in the
Calvinistic fold those churches also which have diverged
more or less from its purer forms. In her XXXIX
Articles, the Church of England is strictly Calvinistic,
even though in her Hierarchy and Liturgy she has
abandoned the straight paths, and has met with the
serious results of this departure in Puseyism and Ri-
tualism. The Confession of the Independents was equally
Calvinistic, even though in their conception of the Church
the organic structure was broken by individualism. And
if under the leadership of Wesley most Methodists became
opposed to the theological interpretation of Calvinism,
it is nevertheless the Calvinistic spirit itself that created
this spiritual reaction against the pertrifying church-life
of the times. In a given sense therefore it may be said,
that the entire field which in the end was covered by
the Reformation, so far as it was not Lutheran and
not Socinian, was dominated in principle by Calvinism.
Even the Baptists applied for shelter at the tents of
the Calvinists. It is the free character of Calvinism
that accounts for the rise of these several shades and


differences, and of the reactions against their excesses.
By its hierarchy, Romanism is and remains uniform.
Lutheranism owes its similar unity and uniformity to
the ascendency of the prince, whose relation to the
Church is that of "summus episcopus" and to its "ecclesia
docens". Calvinism on the other hand, which sanctions
no ecclesiastical hierarchy, and no magisterial interference,
could not develop itself except in many and varied forms
and deviations, thereby of course incurring the danger
of degeneration, provoking in its turn all kind of one-
sided reactions. With the free development of life,
such as was intended by Calvinism, the distinction could
not fail to appear between a centre, with its fulness and
purity of vitality and strength, and the broad circum-
ference with its threatening declensions. But in that
very conflict between a purer centre and a less pure
circumference the steady working of its spirit was
guaranteed to Calvinism.

Thus understood, Calvinism is rooted in a form of
religion which was peculiarly its own, and from this
specific religious consciousness there was developed first
a peculiar theology, then a special church-order, and
then a given form for political and social life, for the
interpretation of the moral world-order, for the relation
between nature and grace, between Christianity and
the world, between church and state, and finally for art
and science ; and amid all these life-utterances it remained
always the self-same Calvinism, in so far as simultaneouly
and spontaneously all these developments sprang from
its deepest life-principle. Hence to this extent it stands
in line with those other great complexes of human life.


known as Paganism, Islamism and Romanism, by which
we distinguish four entirely different worlds in the one
collective world of human life. And if, speaking precisely,
you should coordinate Christianity and not Calvinism
with Paganism and Islamism, it is nevertheless better
to place Calvinism in line with them, because Calvinism
claims to embody the Christian idea more purely and
accurately than could Romanism and Lutheranism. In
the Greek world of Russia and the Balkan States,
the national element is still dominant, and therefore the
Christian faith in these countries has not yet been able
to produce a form of life of its own from the root of
its mystical orthodoxy. In Lutheran countries, the
interference of the magistrate has prevented the free
working of the spiritual principle. Hence of Romanism
only can it be said, that it has embodied its life-thought
in a world of conceptions and utterances entirely its
own. But by the side of Romanism, and in opposition
to it, Calvinism made its appearance, not merely ta
create a different Church- form, but an entirely different
form for human life, to furnish human society with a
different method of existence, and to populate the world
of the human heart with different ideals and conceptions.
That this had not been realised until our time,
and is now acknowledged by friend and enemy in
consequence of a better study of history, should not
surprise us. This would not have been the case, if
Calvinism had entered life as a well-constructed system,
and had presented itself as an outcome of study. But
its origin came about in an entirely different way. In
the order of existence, life is first. And to Calvinism


life itself was ever the first object of its endeavours.
There was too much to do and to suffer to devote
much time to study. What was dominant was Calvinistic
practice at the stake and in the field of battle. More-
over the nations among whom Calvinism gained the
day, — such as the Swiss, the Dutch, the EngUsh and
the Scotch — were by nature not very philosophically
predisposed. Especially at that time, life among those
nations was spontaneous and void of calculation; and
only later on has Calvinism in its parts become a
subject of that special study by which historians and
theologians have traced the relation between Calvinistic
phenomena and the all-embracing unity of its principle.
It can even be said that the need of a theoretical and
systematical study of so incisive and comprehensive a

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