The symptoms of evanescent grace and real grace seem to be indistinguishable.
yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.
Here Calvin is making the lack of difference between the elect and the reprobate clear.
Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself, a temporary faith, is ascribed to them.
Here Calvin is making it clear that the reprobate can have the fruits of the Spirit aswell.
the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.
Here Calvin tells us that it is God himself putting this into their minds, so if the reprobate man receiving evanescent grace knows he is dammed, he is overcoming the power of God.
Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition.
But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate.
Here we see the Holy Spirit working in the reprobate. Institutes book 3, chapter 2, section 11
It seems that regarding the reprobate with evascevent grace and the elect there is no difference before death. Both have the fruits of the Spirit and the working of the Spirit.
Taking the teaching of Calvin into account, how does the Calvinist know he is not receiving evanescent and therefore going to hell? a usefull illustration from shamelesspopery.com summarising what a lot of people think the section from Institutes teaches
Why this question cannot be answered here quote by quote... The proposed answer seems to contradict the terms set by Calvin on evanescent grace.
This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. This quote from the Westminister Confession of Faith seems to ignore Calvin's idea that a fruit of election can be given to the reprobate
I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election
This quote does not give make the Calvinist feel any better because Calvin said "the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them". Therefore the Calvinist can not know he is saved through the “inward evidence of those graces”.
So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.
This quote does not give the Calvinist any comfort, because Calvin said "the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them". This dammed man believes he is at peace with God.
Assurance of their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word—such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.
Again, our Calvinist can have all these lovely qualities and still be reprobate. Remember faith is attributed to the reprobate and the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them therefore all these "unmistakable" gifts of election are something the reprobate can have aswell.
Every single one of these tests can be dismissed by the fact that according to Calvin, it is God who ascribes “temporary faith”, and gives a "present sense of grace" and "instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness" therefore it is by the power of God that some of the reprobate think they are elect. This leaves any human effort of the Calvanist to know if he is elect or not fruitless.
True assurance, however, may be distinguished from that which is false by the following tests: True assurance begets unfeigned humility; false assurance begets spiritual pride. 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 6:14. The true leads to increased diligence in the practice of holiness; the false leads to sloth and self-indulgence. Psalm 51:12-13,19. The true leads to candid self-examination and to a desire to be searched and corrected by God; the false leads to a disposition to be satisfied with appearance and to avoid accurate investigation. Psalm 139:23-24. The true leads to constant aspirations after more intimate fellowship with God. 1 John 3:2-3.
This infallible assurance does not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
This quote does not answer my question, but it raises an interesting concept. It tells us that the true believer may not have assurance now, but he will later. How long later? Since people who live a bad lifestyle turn out to be elect, we can only assume this applies the other way round. So how can the good Calvinist know he will not lose his faith upon death?