Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sundays with John

As Dave and I read the Institutes every night, I keep a supply of stickie-note flags at hand, and when something strikes us, we "flag" it. There are lots of flags in the sections from this week, so I'll have to choose just a few. In addition to the quotes, what is impressing me in reading Calvin is how logical and thorough, yet interesting he is. It deals with heavy theology, but it makes such sense to me, and is so practical!

Here are some of my favorite quotables:

...[W]hen we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God's just dispensation."

This one is actually Calvin quoting from Augustine. So think of this as two-for-one:
...There is a great difference between what is fitting for man to will and what is fitting for God, and to what end the will of each is directed, so that it be either approved or disapproved. For through the bad wills of evil men God fulfills what he righteously that in a wonderful and ineffable manner nothing is done without God's will, not even that which is against his will. For it would not be done if he did not permit it; yet he does not unwillingly permit it, but willingly; nor would he, being good, allow evil to be done unless being also almighty he could make good even out of evil.
~Augustine as quoted by Calvin (1.18.3)

But knowledge of ourselves lies first in considering what we were at creation and how generously God continues his favor toward us... Secondly, to call to mind our miserable condition after Adam's fall; the awareness of which, when all our boasting and self-assurance are laid low, should truly humble us and overwhelm us with shame... it behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding so that, by leading an upright and holy life, we may press on to the appointed goal of our blessed immortality.

Here, then, is what God's truth requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission.

Yet God would not have us forget our original nobility, which he had bestowed upon our father Adam, and which out truly to arouse in us a zeal for righteousness and goodness. For we cannot think upon either our first condition or to what purpose we were formed without being prompted to meditate upon immortality, and to yearn after the Kingdom of God.

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