6.I have manifested thy name. Here Christ begins to pray to the Father for his disciples, and, with the same warmth of love with which he was immediately to suffer death for them, he now pleads for their salvation. The first argument which he employs on their behalf is, that they have embraced the doctrine which makes men actually children of God. There was no want of faith or diligence on the part of Christ, to call all men to God, but among the elect only was his labor profitable and efficacious. His preaching, which manifested the name of God, was common to all, and he never ceased to maintain the glory of it even among the obstinate. Why then does he say that it was only to a small number of persons that he manifested the name of his Father, but because the elect alone profit by the grace of the Spirit, who teaches inwardly? (113) Let us therefore infer that not all to whom the doctrine is exhibited are truly and efficaciously taught, but only those whose minds are enlightened. Christ ascribes the cause to the election of God; for he assigns no other difference as the reason why he manifested the name of the Father to some, passing by others, but because they were given to him. Hence it follows their faith flows from the outward predestination of God, and that therefore it is not given indiscriminately to all, because all do not belong to Christ. (114)
Thine they were, and thou hast given them to me. By adding these words, he points out, first, the eternity of election; and, secondly, the manner in which we ought to consider it. Christ declares that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, or by any merit, but by pure grace; for, while they are alienated from him to the utmost, still he reckons them as his own in his secret purpose. The certainty of that election by free grace (115) lies in this, that he commits to the guardianship of his son all whom he has elected, that they may not perish; and this is the point to which we should turn our eyes, that we may be fully certain that we belong to the rank of the children of God; for the predestination of God is in itself hidden, but it is manifested to us in Christ alone.
And they have kept thy word. This is the third step; for the first is, the election by free grace, and the second is, that gift by which we enter into the guardianship of Christ. Having been received by Christ, we are gathered by faith into the fold. The word of God flows out to the reprobate, but it takes root in the elect, and hence they are said to keep it.
(113) “Pourquoy donc dit-il qu’ a manifeste le nom de son Pore seulement a quelque petit nombre de gens, sinon d’ qu’ n’ a que les eleus qui profitent par la grace de l’ qui les enseigne an dedans ?”