Church Discipline – John Calvin
Discipline, in the case of the exercise of church power, in regard to church government, turns directly and powerfully to advance the spiritual edification of the church. The use and intent of the power of discipline entrusted to the church, are briefly and precisely, expressed by the apostle Paul, in speaking about the exclusion of the incestuous person from the fellowship of the Corinthian Church. He tells that church ‘to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’ If discipline, as administered and enforced by the church, and the use of the power committed to it, is intended ‘for the destruction of the flesh,’ and so must in one sentence, be painful, it is intended, by the help of that very severity, to accomplish the gracious and good purpose of ‘saving the spirit, and the day of the Lord Jesus.’ Its aim is a merciful one; and not the less so, that it is accomplished, by means of a wholesome severity. Its end is salvation; and not lest certainly so, or rather all the more certainly so, that it is a chain through the destruction of the flesh. Like all the other exercises of that power which Christ has committed to the hands of his church, to be administered on behalf of his people, discipline is designed and calculated to promote its good. And when that power, severe, but wholesome, is exercised in a right spirit, and by a suitable means, when the spiritual sword is wielded for protection and establishment of the church against sin and spiritual offense, and the way not of terror in a bit of tenderness, it will carry healing, and not death upon its edge.
John Calvin – The strict kindness of a wholesome discipline
1 Corinthians 5