Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols
As far as sacred Scripture is concerned, however much froward men try to gnaw at it, nevertheless it clearly is crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived. Let each of the prophets be looked into: none will be found who does not far exceed human measure. Consequently, those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds.
Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue but of the life.
Faith is ultimately a firm and certain knowledge of God's benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit
For the Word of God is not received by faith if it flits about in the top of the brain, but when it takes root in the depth of the heart . . . the heart's distrust is greater than the mind's blindness. It is harder for the heart to be furnished with assurance [of God's love] than for the mind to be endowed with thought.
For this we must believe: that the mind is never seriously aroused to desire and ponder the life to come unless it be previously imbued with contempt for the present life. Indeed, there is no middle ground between these two: either the world must become worthless to us or hold us bound by intemperate love of it.
God orders what we cannot do, that we may know what we ought to ask of him.
He regards it as the highest insult for the wicked to boast of His covenant while profaning His sacred Name by their whole lives.
He who has learned to look to God in everything he does is at the same time diverted from all vain thoughts.
He who neglects to pray alone and in private, however assiduously he frequents public meetings, there gives his prayers to the wind.
If grace acts in us, grace, and not we who do the work, will be crowned,
In a way, the futile excuses many people use to cover their superstitions are demolished. They think it is enough to have some sort of religious fervor, however ridiculous, not realizing that true religion must be according to God's will as the perfect measure; that He can never deny Himself and is no mere spirit form to be changed around according to individual preference.
In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden the less heinous they are.
I was always exceedingly delighted with that saying of Chrysostom, "The foundation of our philosophy is humility"; and yet more pleased with that of Augustine: "As the orator, when asked, What is the first precept in eloquence? answered, Delivery: What is the second? Delivery: What is the third? Delivery: so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, Humility.
Men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals.
Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and, neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised.
No one can travel so far that he does not make some progess each day. So let us never give up. Then we shall move forward daily in the Lord's way. And let us never despair because of our limited success. Even though it is so much less than we would like, our labour is not wasted when today is better than yesterday!
Our true wisdom is to embrace with meek docility, and without reservation, whatever the holy scriptures have delivered.
Prayers will never reach God unless they are founded on free mercy.
Prayer unaccompanied by perseverance leads to no result.
The cross of Christ only triumphs in the breast of believers over the devil and the flesh, sin and sinners, when their eyes are directed to the power of His Resurrection.
The effect of our knowledge rather ought to be, first, to teach us reverence and fear; and, secondly, to induce us, under its guidance and teaching, to ask every good thing from him, and, when it is received, ascribe it to him. For how can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought, that since you are his workmanship, you are bound, by the very law of creation, to submit to his authority?--that your life is due to him?--that whatever you do ought to have reference to him?
Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In
despising the gifts, we insult the Giver.
despising the gifts, we insult the Giver.
There is no inconsistency when God raises up those who have fallen prostrate.
Those who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.
We are not to look to what men in themselves deserve but to attend to the image of God which exists in all and to which we owe all honor and love.
We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men but to look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, an image which, by its beauty and dignity, should allure us to love and embrace them.
we must be persuaded not only that as he once formed the world, so he sustains it by his boundless power, governs it by his wisdom, preserves it by his goodness, in particular, rules the human race with justice and Judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by his protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive.
Were the judgments of mankind correct, custom would be regulated by the good. But it is often far otherwise in point of fact; for, whatever the many are seen to do, forthwith obtains the force of custom. But human affairs have scarcely ever been so happily constituted as that the better course pleased the greater number. Hence the private vices of the multitude have generally resulted in public error, or rather that common consent in vice which these worthy men would have to be law.
Without the fear of God, men do not even observe justice and charity among themselves.
You see how every thing is denied to free will, for the very purpose of leaving no room for merit. And yet, as the beneficence and liberality of God are manifold and inexhaustible, the grace which he bestows upon us, inasmuch as he makes it our own, he recompenses as if the virtuous acts were our own.