Francis Turretin (1623-1687) was a Swiss-Italian Calvinist theologian, who was a firm opponent of Amyraldianism, and one of the authors of the Helvetic Consensus (which defended the Synod of Dort's formulation of double predestination). The other volumes in this set are Institutes of Elenctic Theology: Volume 1: First Through 10 Topics and Institutes of Elenctic Theology Vol. 2. There are three topics in the third volume: The Church; the Sacraments; and The Last Things.
He suggests, "For even if our church had been as large and conspicuous formerly as it is now, still we would say that the catholic church is nonetheless invisible." (Pg. 32) He adds, "The church can never wholly fail on earth... but is often so obscured and sunk... that no assembly of her appears clearly in the world, but remains obscure and withdrawn from the eyes of men" (pg. 48) and "No more does it concern us to know where our church was in the time of the fathers then where it was in the time of the Decian persecution... This much must be held as certain---that the church existed and revived." (Pg. 59) He refers to as believers "Waldo in France, Wycliffe in England, Joh Hus and Jerome of Prague in Bohemia, Peter Martyr in Italy, Luther in Germany and very many others." (Pg. 67) They were not the "authors" of the religion, but only "heralds and restorers." (Pg. 105)
"And thus antiquity alone could not be a mark of the church, as the Romanists contend... thus we confess that the most ancient doctrine is the truest." (Pg. 101) He charges that the Roman Catholic church is "apostate and heretical, having failed the faith once delivered to the saints and teaching various deadly heresies and thrusting them forward to be believed under pain of a curse." (Pg. 123) He decries "The foul merchandising and bartering sacred things by which the pope has restored the tables of the moneychangers overturned by Christ, making a peddling shop where the sanctuary ought to be." (Pg. 131)
Concerning the mode of baptism, he wrote, "For although immersion was the ordinary method, still that it was not so universally followed as to exclude sprinkling..." (Pg. 381) About its efficacy, he wrote, "baptism is indeed necessary according to the divine institution as an external means of salvation... so that he who despises it is guilty of a heinous crime and incurs eternal punishment. But we believe it is not so absolutely necessary that he who is deprived of it by no fault of his own is to be forthwith excluded from the kingdom of heaven." (Pg. 387) However, he rejects the need of rebaptism if one was already baptized in the Catholic church (Pg. 409). He denies transubstantiation, arguing, "the bread and wine, although they are changed as to use according to the institution of God, yet they always retain their own substance, and that no real change or conversion takes place in reference to them." (Pg. 489)
This series is a true "classic" of Reformed theology---almost on a par with Calvin's "Institutes," and will be of continuing interest to all students of Reformed theology.