Saturday, July 12, 2008

Calvin on The Use of God's Beautiful Gifts

Just recently I posted an excerpt from The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life" (which is a translation of a part of John Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion. Here is a second excerpt. It is from the chapter titled "The Right Use of the Present Life" from a subsection called "Earthly things are a gift of God".

"1. The first principle we should consider is that the use of the gifts of God cannot be wrong, if they are directed to the same purpose for which the Creator himself has created and destined for them. For he has made the earthly blessings for our benefit, and not for our harm. No one, therefore will observe a more proper rule than he who will faithfully observe this purpose.

2. If we study for instance, why he has created the various kinds of food, we shall find that it was his intention not only to provide for our needs, but likewise for our pleasure and for our delight. In clothing he did not only keep in mind our needs, but also propriety and decency. In herbs, trees, and fruit, besides being useful in various ways, he planned to please us by their gracious lines and pleasant odors. For if this were not true, the psalmist would not enumerate among the divine blessings "the wine that makes glad the heart of man, and the oil that makes his face to shine." (Ps. 104:15) And the Scriptures would not declare everywhere that he has given all these things to mankind that they might praise his goodness

3. Even the natural properties of things sufficiently point out to what purpose and to what extent we are allowed to use them. Should the Lord have attracted our eyes to the beauty of the flowers and our sense of smell to pleasant odors, and should it then be sin to drink them in? Has he not even made the colors so that the one is more wonderful than the other? Has he not granted to gold and silver, to ivory and marble a beauty which makes them more precious than other metals or stones? In one word, has he not made many things worthy of our attention that go far beyond our needs (Ps. 104:15)?"

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