Saturday, May 03, 2008

John Calvin On Enjoying Life and Enjoying God

“Scripture gives us plenty of teaching about proper use of earthly blessings and as we plan our lives, we must not ignore it. If we are to live at all, of course we need certain essential supports. But we should not exclude many things which seem to have more to do with pleasure than necessity. We must find a happy medium, so that we use everything in the right way, with a clear conscience.

(The Lord says)… that this life is a kind of pilgrimage through which we press on to the heavenly kingdom. If we are only passing through we must, of course, use temporal blessings only as they assist our progress and do not hinder us.

This world is a slippery place and there is real danger of falling, so let us set our feet where we can stand securely.

There are some good and holy men who when they saw constant overindulgence wanted to curb and correct it, but thought there was no other way than to allow men only the bare necessities. This is godly advice but unnecessarily severe, because it binds our consciences in closer fetters than they are bound by God’s Word.

Necessity, according to them, meant abstinence from anything desirable, so that bread and water was the rule.

At the opposite extreme, many today look for an excuse for excessive self-indulgence in the use of material things. They take for granted their liberty must not be restrained in any way, but that it should be left to every man’s conscience to do whatever he thinks is right.

I agree that conscience should not be bound by rigid laws, but because Scripture has laid down general principles for the use of material possessions, we should keep within the limits laid down.”
John Calvin
From “the Institutes of Christian Religion”
Book 3 Ch 10
How to Use the Present Life and Its Comforts

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