Monday, June 13, 2011

Calvin the Van Tillian

In his letter to Martin Bucer entitled, Consolations to Be Found in the Study of Divine and Everlasting Truth, dated February 1549, Calvin shows himself to be the Van Tillian that he truly is (barring the anachronism):

"As truth is most precious, so all men confess it to be so. And yet, since God alone is the source of all good, you must not doubt, that whatever truth you anywhere meet with, proceeds from him, unless you would be doubly ungrateful to him; it is in this way you have received the word descended from heaven. For it is sinful to treat God’s gifts with contempt; and to ascribe to man what is peculiarly God’s is a still greater impiety. Philosophy is, consequently, the noble gift of God, and those learned men who have striven hard after it in all ages have been incited thereto by God himself, that they might enlighten the world in the knowledge of the truth. But there is a wide difference between the writings of these men and those truths which God, of his own pleasure, delivered to guilty men for their sanctification. In the former, you may fall in with a small particle of truth, of which you can get only a taste, sufficient to make you feel how pleasant and sweet it is; but in the latter, you may obtain in rich abundance that which can refresh the soul to the full. In the one, a shadow and an image is placed before the eyes which can only excite in you a love of the object, without admitting you to familiar intercourse with it; in the other, the solid substance stands before you, with which you may not only become intimately acquainted, but may also, in some measure, handle it. In that, the seed is in a manner choked; in this, you may possess the fruit in its very maturity. There, in short, only a few small sparks break forth, which so point out the path that they fail in the middle of the journey, — or rather, which fail in indicating the path at all — and can only restrain the traveler from going farther astray; but here, the Spirit of God, like a most brilliant torch, or rather like the sun itself, shines in full splendor, not only to guide the course of your life, even to its final goal, but also to conduct you to a blessed immortality. Draw then from this source, wherever you may wander, and as soon as he finds you a settled abode, you ought to make that your place of rest..."

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