Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sundays with John

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this week's Calvin reading, on the nature of man's will:
Man will then be spoken of as having this sort of free decision, not because he has a free choice equally of good and evil, but because he acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion. Well put, indeed, but what purpose is served by labeling with a proud name such a slight thing> A noble freedom, indeed--for man not to be forced to serve sin, yet to be such a willing slave that his will is bound to the fetters of sin!

...[W}hen the will was conquered by the vice into which it had fallen, human nature began to lose its freedom. Again, man using free will badly has lost both his himself and his will. Again, the free will has been so enslaved that it can have no power for righteousness. Again, what God's grace has not freed will not be free. Again, the justice of God is not fulfilled when the law commands and a man acts as if by his own strength; but when the Spirit helps, and man's wilkl, not free, but freed by God, obeys.

And about man's nature in general:
...[W]hoever is utterly cast down and overwhelmed by the awareness of his calamity, poverty, nakedness, and disgrace has thus advanced farthest in knowing himself. For there is no danger of man's depriving himself of too much so long as he learns that in God must be recouped what he himself lacks.

And lastly, about the nature of the Christian life:
A saying of Chrysostom's has always pleased me very much, that the foundation of our philosophy is humility. But that of Augustine pleases me even more: "When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, 'Delivery'; what was the second rule, 'Delivery'; what was the third rule, 'Delivery'; so of you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third and always I would answer, 'Humility.'"

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