Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 2: “Man Now Deprived of Freedom of Will, and Miserably Enslaved”

Section 18: Moving away from the will of man, we now investigate the reason of man as it relates to “the knowledge of God, the knowledge of his paternal favour towards us, which constitutes our salvation, and the method of regulating of our conduct in accordance with the Divine Law”. Calvin clearly states his view when he says that we are “blinder than moles” in regards to the last two parts. He does not disregard the learned philosophers who occasionally stumble across truth but even that is orchestrated by God for His ends and they are just as fast to lose or corrupt that truth as they were to find it. Human reason lacks the ability and the direction to find truth about God on its own.

Section 19: Lending to Scripture to prove his point, Calvin finds his proof in the New Testament. First that we, being the embodiment of darkness cannot acknowledge the light as God is perfect light and truth (Jn 1:4-5). He then that we are separate from Jesus in that He was born not of blood, the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but the will of God alone (John 1:13) and concludes that despite all of Jesus’ works and words, it was necessary that God reveal to Peter that Jesus is the Christ (Mt 16:17).

Section 20: Continuing from there, Calvin now uses Scripture to declare that natural man is devoid of any of the spiritual gifts which come to us from God upon our conversion. First relating that God alone is the one who reveals truth (Ps 36:9), he preses the point that no one can call Jesus Lord without the revelation that comes through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3) and that nothing we have we did not receive except at the hand of God (Jn 3:27). This describes where this “special illumination” comes from – God alone. Both John the Baptist and Moses stated that they were unable to sway the minds of anyone without God’s direct intervention (Deut 29:2-4). God promises to give the Israelites a heart to know Him (Jer 24:7) and Jesus confirmed this by stating that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him (Jn 6:44). God also promises to Isaiah that He will gather his children to Himself (Isa 54:7).

It is thus shown that man cannot enter into the kingdom of God without God first opening their minds and enlightening them to the truth of the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul confirms this when he states that the natural man cannot know the things of God since they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). The “natural man” is someone who is unconverted – someone who trust to the “light” of nature rather than that of God. Things of God are thus hidden from all mankind outside of God’s influence on our lives to reveal them to us. The wisdom of the world is a kind of veil that distorts and holds us back from knowing God (1 Cor 2:9).

Section 21: Paul denies to man what he ascribes to God alone when he prays that God would grant to the Christians in Ephesus “the spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph 1:17). This proves that all wisdom and revelation comes from God. God grants this wisdom through His revelation in our hearts and minds so that we may know the hope to which we have been called (Eph 1:18). This emphasizes that we cannot even know our own calling without God so directing us. David clearly understood this when he asked God to “open [his] eyes so that [he] may behold wondrous things out of God’s law” (Ps 119:18) as did James who referred to God as the “Father of lights” (Jas 1:17) who enlightens our hearts and minds lest we live in utter darkness. The Apostles were ordered by Jesus to wait for the power which was to be given them by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26). Concluding this section, Calvin states, “If we confess that what we ask of God is lacking to us, and He by the very thing promised intimates our want, no man can hesitate to acknowledge that he is able to understand the mysteries of God, only in so far as illuminated by his grace. He who ascribes to himself more understanding than this, is the blinder for not acknowledging his blindness.”