Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Cold, Mean Calvin

Weekend Consolation from Calvin 

I have experienced a good deal of cognitive and spiritual dissonance as I have tried to get benefit from various books of daily devotional readings. In my experience I have found my soul saying “Amen’ most frequently and got the most benefit from books using the writings of the two greatest Reformers, Luther and Calvin. Below are some quotes from a book of Calvin readings I read in 2009.

On Moses’ Death: We naturally fly from death; no one hastens to it of his own accord. Thus Moses would never have voluntarily entered the tomb unless he could hope for a better life to come. Wherefore since our carnal sense may be adverse to death, let our faith prevail to overcome all its terrors…Though Moses would have been satisfied with the mere promise of God and even the deprivation of this blessing (seeing the Promised Land from afar), he may not have been made more cheerful at the thought of leaving his people on the threshold of their inheritance. Faith does not
altogether deprive God’s children of human feelings,but our heavenly Father in his indulgence has compassion on their infirmity.”

On the Imperfection of the Church: “If the religion continues to be pure in doctrine and in worship, we must not stumble so much at the sins people commit to rend the unity of the church…The church should be free from all pollution and to shine in uncorrupted
purity, yet she cherishes in her bosom many ungodly hypocrites or wicked persons (goats who cannot be separated from the sheep until Christ does so on the Judgment Day)…He therefore admonishes us to bear the evils that we do not have the power to correct until all things become ripe, and the proper season of
purging the church arrives.”

On God’s People: “One way of rightly serving God is to endeavor to do good to his holy servants. Because good deeds cannot extend to God, it is to the saints in his place that we are to exercise charity…Likewise the children of God ought to be joined together by a fraternal bond of unity, so they may serve and call upon their Father with the same affection and zeal…David sets his affections upon the saints. God tells us that he should be magnified and exalted in the assembly of the just, whom he has adopted into his family, that they may live together with one accord under his authority and under the guidance of his Holy Spirit.”

On Forgiveness: “In his supplication for pardon David pleads upon the ground of God’s mere good pleasure…When God casts our sins into oblivion, he beholds us with fatherly regard. David can find no other cause to account for this paternal regard of God but that God
is good. Hence it follows that there is nothing to induce God to receive us into his favor but his own good pleasure.” 

On God’s Character: “To attribute to God an uprightness he exercises only toward the worthy and the meritorious is a cold view of his character and of little advantage to sinners…Indeed if the goodness of God did not penetrate even to hell, on one would ever partake of his goodness. 

On Temptation: “…the more strenuously a person sets out to obey God, using all his efforts to exercise patience, the more vigorously he is assailed by temptation. For Satan, while not so troublesome to theindifferent and careless and seldom looks near them, displays all his forces against the believer. If, therefore, we feel ardent emotions struggling and bringing commotion in our breasts, we should remember this conflict of David so that our courage may not fail us,or at least our infirmity not drive us headlong into despair. 

On the Believer’s Weakness: “…we see how precious our salvation in the sight of God, for when we wander from him, he continues to look upon us with a watchful eye and to stretch forth his hand to bring us to himself. We must beware of perverting this doctrine by making it a pretext for drowsiness and slothfulness. Yet experience teaches us that when we are sunk into drowsiness and insensibility, God exercises care for us. Even when we are fugitives and wanderers from him, he still is near us…The reason why we do not succumb, even in the severest conflicts, is because we receive
help from the Holy Spirit. He does not always put his power in us in an evident and striking manner (for he often perfects it in our weakness), but it is enough that he succors us. Though we may be ignorant and unconscious of it, he upholds us when we stumble and
lifts us up when we have fallen.”

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