Posts Tagged ‘Divine Wisdom’

The special object of the knowledge we are to have concerning God is given to prevent us from overlooking the perfections of God

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The special object of this knowledge is to prevent us, through ingratitude or thoughtlessness, from overlooking the perfections of God. Example of this primary knowledge.

21. It is unnecessary to dwell at length on the end that should be aimed at in considering the works of God. The subject has been in a great measure explained elsewhere, and in so far as required by our present work, may now be disposed of in a few words. Undoubtedly were one to attempt to speak in due terms of the inestimable wisdom, power, justice, and goodness of God, in the formation of the world, no grace or splendor of diction could equal the greatness of the subject. Still there can be no doubt that the Lord would have us constantly occupied with such holy meditation, in order that, while we contemplate the immense treasures of wisdom and goodness exhibited in the creatures as in so many mirrors, we may not only run our eye over them with a hasty, and, as it were, evanescent glance, but dwell long upon them, seriously and faithfully turn them in our minds, and every now and then bring them to recollection. But as the present work is of a didactic nature, we cannot fittingly enter on topics which require lengthened discourse. Therefore, in order to be compendious, let the reader understand that he has a genuine apprehension of the character of God as the Creator of the world; first, if he attends to the general rule, never thoughtlessly or obviously to overlook the glorious perfections which God displays in his creatures; and, secondly, if he makes a self application of what he sees, so as to fix it deeply on his heart. The former is exemplified when we consider how great the Architect must be who framed and ordered the multitude of the starry host so admirably, that it is impossible to imagine a more glorious sight, so stationing some, and fixing them to particular spots that they cannot move; giving a freer course to others yet setting limits to their wanderings; so tempering the movement of the whole as to measure out day and night, months, years, and seasons, and at the same time so regulating the inequality of days as to prevent every thing like confusion. The former course is, moreover, exemplified when we attend to his power in sustaining the vast mass, and guiding the swift revolutions of the heavenly bodies, etc. These few examples sufficiently explain what is meant by recognizing the divine perfections in the creation of the world. Were we to attempt to go over the whole subject we should never come to a conclusion, there being as many miracles of divine power, as many striking evidences of wisdom and goodness, as there are classes of objects, nay, as there are individual objects, great or small, throughout the universe.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 14-Henry Beveridge Translation

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Introductory Remarks

SectionI. Doctrine of Election Stated and Proved

Section II. Doctrine of Reprobation Stated and Proved

Section III. Objections from the Moral Attributes of God Answered

Preliminary Remarks

1. Objection from Divine Justice.

2. Objection from Divine Goodness.

3. Objection from Divine Wisdom.

4. Objection from Divine Veracity.

Section IV. Objections from the Moral Agency of Man Answered


Transitional Observations

SectionI. Calvinistic Doctrine of Justification Stated

Section II. Ground of Justification

Section III. Nature of Justification

Section IV. Condition of Justification







DURING the temporary occupation of the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in this city, a few years ago, some of the young members of that church requested me to instruct a Bible-class, on Sabbath nights, in the distinctive doctrines of the Calvinistic faith. A large number were enrolled, and the understanding was that the members of the class would be entitled to a free interrogation of the instructor. Unexpectedly, from the very first, a large promiscuous congregation attended, and the liberty to ask questions was used by outsiders, the design appearing to be to start difficulties rather than to seek light, and to convert the exercise into a debate. To avoid this result, and to treat objections in a more logical and orderly manner than was possible in extemporized replies to the scattering fire of miscellaneous inquiries, resort ere-long was had to written lectures. Notwithstanding this change, the attendance and the interest suffered no abatement, but rather increased – a fact which seemed to militate against the common opinion that doctrinal discussions would prove dry and unacceptable to a popular audience. The lectures, which were prepared not without painstaking labor, suggested the production of a formal treatise on the subjects which had occupied all the available time-namely, Election and Reprobation, with special reference to the Evangelical Arminian theology. This was done, and a discussion of the doctrine of justification, in relation to that theology, was added.

Another reason which conduced to the preparation of this work was the conviction that there is room for it. A distinguished writer has remarked, that one who solicits the attention of the public by publishing a book should have something to say which had not been said before. This opinion, no doubt, needs qualification; but it applies, to some extent, in the present instance. The ground covered by the controversy between Calvinists and Evangelical Arminians has not been completely occupied. John Owen’s “Display of Arminianism,” and similar works of the Puritan period, antedated the rise of Evangelical Arminianism. Jonathan Edwards was a contemporary of John Wesley. Principal Hill’s comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism had reference mainly to the Remonstrant system, as developed by Episcopius and Curcellaeus, Grotius and Limborch. The same is, in a measure, true of Principal Cunningham’s comparative estimate of Calvinism and Arminianism in his Historical Theology. The comparative treatment of Calvinism ‘and modern, Evangelical Arminianism, contained in works on Systematic Theology composed in recent times, are, however able, necessarily brief and somewhat meagre. Such works as those of Green, Annan and Fairchild hardly profess to be severely analytical or exhaustive of any one topic. Dr. N. T. Rice’s “God Sovereign and Man Free,” although a valuable discussion, is brief, and leaves much to be said even in regard to the question it handles. There seemed, therefore, to be room for further discussion concerning the relative merits of Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism, and it is hoped that the present attempt will not be considered arrogant on the ground of being superfluous.

Still another incentive leading to the production of this volume has been furnished by the taunt ever and anon issuing from Arminian sources that “Calvinism is dying,” and the sneering intimation of recent works-Dr. Miner Raymond’s “Systematic Theology,” for example-that but few people of sense now pretend to hold some of its peculiar and monstrous tenets. An honest indignation justifies the disproof of such contemptuous allegations; and, however inadequate may be the present defence of the venerable theology thus belittled, it is prompted by the profound conviction that the system known as Calvinism expresses the faith of martyrs, confessors and reformers, the faith in which the majority of Christ’s true people have lived and died; that it is the truth of God ; and that, instead of dying, it is as immortal as that Inspired Word which liveth and abideth forever. If opponents deem it to be dying, and imagine that they can hasten its coveted dissolution, they will find its supposed dying-chamber an arena of vigorous contest, and its fancied death-bed a redoubt that neither they nor the powers of hell can carry by storm.

The work does not assume to cover the whole field of the controversy of which it treats, to discuss articulately all the distinctive views of the systems compared. It is its purpose to bring out their radical and controlling principles, in themselves and in their necessary connections, to confront them with each other, and to subject them to a searching examination.

I have endeavored to write in a calm and dispassionate temper, consistent with sincere, brotherly love to those of God’s people from whose views I differ; and, in submitting the results of long reflection, embodied in this volume, to the judgment of candid readers, I invoke for them a like calm and dispassionate consideration.

The work is humbly committed to Him whose truth it professes to vindicate, with the prayer that He will deign to employ it for His glory and the good of His Church. Especially would I be grateful, if He would be pleased to use it for arresting, at least in some degree, the tendency now manifested on the part of some professed Calvinists seriously to modify the doctrines of the Calvinistic Symbols.

COLUMBIA, S. C., Jan. 18, 189o.



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Effects of the knowledge of God illustrated

April 10, 2013 4 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Effects of the knowledge of God illustrated by the examples,

1. of holy patriarchs;

2. of holy angels;

3. of the sun and moon.

Hence that dread and amazement with which as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. When we see those who previously stood firm and secure so quaking with terror, that the fear of death takes hold of them, nay, they are, in a manner, swallowed up and annihilated, the inference to be drawn is that men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. Frequent examples of this consternation occur both in the Book of Judges and the Prophetical Writings; so much so, that it was a common expression among the people of God, “We shall die, for we have seen the Lord.” Hence the Book of Job, also, in humbling men under a conviction of their folly, feebleness, and pollution, always derives its chief argument from descriptions of the Divine wisdom, virtue, and purity. Nor without cause: for we see Abraham the readier to acknowledge himself but dust and ashes the nearer he approaches to behold the glory of the Lord, and Elijah unable to wait with unveiled face for His approach; so dreadful is the sight. And what can man do, man who is but rottenness and a worm, when even the Cherubim themselves must veil their faces in very terror? To this, undoubtedly, the Prophet Isaiah refers, when he says, (Isaiah 24:23,) “The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign;” i. e., when he shall exhibit his refulgence, and give a nearer view of it, the brightest objects will, in comparison, be covered with darkness.

But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, due arrangement requires that we treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Henry Beveridge Translation