Monday, September 18, 2017

John Calvin on the Immensity of God

"The doctrine of Scripture concerning the immensity and the spirituality of the essence of God, should have the effect not only of dissipating the wild dreams of the vulgar, but also of refuting the subtleties of a profane philosophy. . . [God's] immensity surely ought to deter us from measuring him by our sense, while his spiritual nature forbids us to indulge in carnal or earthly speculation concerning him.  With the same view he frequently represents heaven as his dwelling-place.  It is true, indeed, that as he is incomprehensible, he fills the earth also, but knowing that our minds are heavy and grovel on the earth, he raises us above the world, that he make shake off our sluggishness and inactivity.  And here we have a refutation to the error of the Manichees (God is made up of physical body and spiritual soul), who, by adopting two first principles, made the devil almost the equal of God.  This, assuredly, was both to destroy his unity and restrict his immensity.  Their attempt to pervert certain passages of Scripture proved their shameful ignorance, as the very nature of the error did their monstrous infatuation.  The Anthropomorphites (those who attribute human qualities to God), also, who dreamed of a [physical] God, because mouth, ears, eyes, hands, and feet are often ascribed to him in Scripture, are easily refuted.  For who is so devoid of intellect as not to understand that God, in so speaking, lisps with us as nurses are wont to do with little children?  Such modes of expression, therefore, do not so much express what kind of a being God is, as accommodate the knowledge of him to our feebleness.  In doing so he must, of course, stoop far below his proper height" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

J.C. Ryle' Call to Make Christ Our All in All

"Alas, I fear there is a great piece of pride and unbelief still sticking in the hearts of many believers!  Few seem to realize how much they need a Savior.  Few seem to understand how thoroughly they are indebted to Him.  Few seem to comprehend how much they need Him every day.  Few seem to feel how simply and like a child they ought to hang their souls on Him.  Few seem to be aware how full of love He is to His poor, weak people, and how ready to help them!  And few therefore seem to know the peace and joy and strength and power to live a godly life, which is to be had in Christ.

"Change your plan, reader, if your conscience tells you are guilty; change your plan, and learn to trust Christ more.  Physicians love to see patients coming to consult them; it is their office to receive the sickly, and if possible to affect cures.  The advocate loves to be employed; it is his calling.  The husband loves his wife to trust him and lean upon him; it is his delight to cherish her and promote her comfort.  And Christ loves His people to lean on Him, to rest in Him, to call on Him, to abide in Him.

"Let us all learn and strive to do so more and more.  Let us live on Christ.  Let us live in Christ.  Let us live with Christ.  Let us live to Christ.  So doing, we shall prove that we fully realize that Christ is all.  So doing, we shall feel great peace, and attain more of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)" (Holiness, J.C. Ryle).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

John Calvin on Why God Forbids Images of Him

"When once men imagined that they beheld God in images, they also worshiped him as being there.  At length their eyes and minds becoming wholly engrossed by them, they began to grow more and more brutish, gazing and wondering as if some divinity were actually before them.  It hence appears that men do not fall away to the worship of images until they have [swallowed] some idea of a grosser description: not that they actually believe them to be gods, but the the power of divinity somehow or other resides in them.  Therefore, whether it be God or a creature that is imaged, the moment you fall prostrate before it in veneration, you are so far fascinated by superstition.  For this reason, the Lord not only forbade the erection of statues to himself, but also the consecration of titles and stones which might be set up for adoration.  For as soon as a visible form is given to God, his power also is supposed to be annexed to it.  So stupid are men, that wherever they figure God, there they fix him, and by necessary consequence proceed to adore him.  It makes no difference whether they worship the idol simply, or God in the idol; it is always idolatry when divine honors are paid to an idol, be the color what it may.  And because God wills not to be worshiped superstitiously, whatever is bestowed upon idols is so much robbed from him" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin).

Monday, May 22, 2017

J.C. Ryle on Christ as Our All in All

"Is Christ all?  Then let all His converted people deal with Him as if they really believed it.  Let them lean on Him and trust Him far more than they have ever done yet.  Alas, there are many of the Lord's people who live far below their privileges!  There are many truly Christian souls who rob themselves of their own peace and forsake their own mercies.  There are many who insensibly join their own faith, or the work of the Spirit in their own hearts, to Christ, and so miss the fullness of gospel peace. There are many who make little progress in their pursuit of holiness and shine with a very dim light.  And why is all this?  Simply because in nineteen cases out of twenty men do not make Christ all in all.

"Now I call on every reader of this message who is a believer, I beseech them for his own sake, to make sure that Christ is really and thoroughly his all in all.  Beware of allowing yourself to mingle anything of your own with Christ.

"Have you faith?  It is a priceless blessing.  Happy indeed are they who are willing and ready to trust Jesus.  But take heed you do not make a Christ of your faith.  Rest not on your own faith, but on Christ.

"Is the work of the Spirit in your soul?  Thank God for it.  It is a work that shall never be overthrown.  But oh, beware lest, unawares to yourself, you make a Christ of the work of the Spirit!  Rest not on the work of the Spirit, but on Christ.

"Have you any inward feelings of religion, and experience of grace?  Thank God for it.  Thousands have no more religious feeling than a cat or dog.  But oh, beware lest you make a Christ of your feelings and sensations!  They are poor, uncertain things and sadly dependent on our bodies and outward circumstances.  Rest not a grain of weight on your feelings.  Rest only on Christ.

"Learn, I entreat you, to look more and more at the great object of faith, Jesus Christ and to keep your mind dwelling on Him.  So doing you would find faith and all the other graces grow, though the growth at the time might be imperceptible to yourself.  He that would prove a skillful archer must look not at the arrow, but at the mark" (Holiness, J.C. Ryle).

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

John Calvin on the Origin of Idols

"In regards to the origin of idols . . . they originated with those who bestowed this honor on the dead, from a superstitious regard to their memory.  I admit that this perverse practice is of very high antiquity, and I deny not that it was a kind of torch by which the infatuated proneness of mankind to idolatry was kindled into a greater blaze.  I do not, however, admit that it was the first origin of the practice.  That idols were in use before the prevalence of that ambitious consecration of the images of the dead, frequently adverted to by profane writers, is evident from the words of Moses (Gen 31:19).  When he relates that Rachel stole her father's images, he speaks of the use of idols as a common vice.  Hence we may infer, that the human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols. . . The human mind, stuffed as it is with presumptuous rashness, dares to imagine a God suited to its own capacity; as it labors under dullness, no, is sunk in the grossest ignorance, it substitutes vanity and an empty phantom in the place of God.  To these evils another is added.  The God whom man has thus conceived inwardly he attempts to embody outwardly.  The mind, in this way, conceives the idol, and the hand gives it birth.  That idolatry has its origin in the idea which men have, that God is not present with them unless his presence is carnally exhibited, appears from the example of the Israelites: 'Up,' said they, 'make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we [know] not what is become of him' (Exod 32:1).  They knew, indeed, that there was a God whose mighty power they had experienced in so many miracles, but they had no confidence of his being near to them, if they did not with their eyes behold a [physical] symbol of his presence, as [a confirmation] to his actual government.  They desired, therefore, to be assured by the image which went before them, that they were journeying under divine guidance.  And daily experience shows, that the flesh is always restless until it has obtained some figment like itself, with which it may vainly [comfort] itself as a representation of God" (Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin).

Monday, April 3, 2017

J.C. Ryle of Joining Anything with Christ

"Is Christ all?  Then learn the enormous folly of joining anything with Christ in the matter of salvation.  There are multitudes of baptized men and women who profess to honor Christ, but in reality do Him great dishonor.  They give Christ a certain place in their system of religion, but not the place which God intended Him to fill.  Christ alone is not all in all to their souls.  No!  It is either Christ and the church, or Christ and the sacraments, or Christ and His ordained ministers, or Christ and their own repentance, or Christ and their own goodness, or Christ and their own prayers, or Christ and their own sincerity and charity, on which they practically rest their souls.

"If any reader of this message is a Christian of this kind, I warn him also plainly, that his religion is an offense to God.  You are changing God's plan of salvation into a plan of your own devising.  You are in effect deposing Christ from His throne, by giving the glory due to Him to another.

"I care not who it is that teaches such religion, and on whose word you build.  Whether they be pope or cardinal, archbishop or bishop, dean or archdeacon, presbyter or deacon, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Baptist or Independent, Wesleyan or Plymouth brother, whoever adds anything to Christ, teaches you wrong.

"Take heed what you are doing.  Beware of giving to Christ's servants the honor due to none but Christ.  Beware of giving the Lord's ordinances the honor due unto the Lord.  Beware of resting the burden of your soul on anything but Christ, and Christ alone" (Holiness, J.C. Ryle).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

J.C. Ryle on Mercy Without Christ

"I warn you plainly that all notions and theories about God being merciful without Christ, and excepting through Christ, are belles delusions and empty fancies.  Such theories are as purely an idol of man's invention act he idol of Juggernaut.  They are all of the earth, earthly.  They never came down from heaven.  The God of heaven has sealed and appointed Christ as the one and only Savior and way of life, and all who would be saved must be content to be saved by Him, or they will never be saved at all" (Holiness, J.C. Ryle).

John Calvin on the Immensity of God

"The doctrine of Scripture concerning the immensity and the spirituality of the essence of God, should have the effect not only of diss...