I missed the sign-up date for the next CCEF course that I wanted to take, and the next term they offer it will be in 2017 — so in the meantime, I decided it was time to dust off (literally, it’s been under my bed) the Institutes that I bought a few months ago and dive in!
I’m only 41 pages in, so it’s not my *official* opinion yet, but to summarise — the hype is justified. It’s chock full of insights, references to events/debates, extended thoughts, etc. yet it’s pastoral, warm, and readable. Also, I’m not sure if I should credit Calvin or Battles (translator) or MacNeill (editor), but it’s beautifully written.
An excerpt on knowing God and true religion:-
… it will not suffice simply to hold that there is One whom all ought to honour and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every good, and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him.
This I take to mean that not only does he sustain this universe (as he once founded it) by his boundless might, regulate it by his wisdom, preserve it by his goodness, and especially rule mankind by his righteousness and judgment, bear with it in his mercy, watch over it by his protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom and light, or of righteousness or power or rectitude, or of genuine truth, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause.
(…) For until men recognise that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him — they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.
I’ve been dwelling for a while on the paragraph above. For one, it’s nearly poetic in its description of God’s goodness. More significantly, though, I had never thought about true knowledge of God that way — not just appreciating His benefits, but seeing that only from God do any and all benefits come. Stunning words that encapsulate glorious truth.
Anyway, I’m reading the Institutes using Anthony Lane’s A Reader’s Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, which helps me to skim through less relevant portions and to not miss out crucial footnotes. I also have J. Mark Beach’s Piety’s Wisdom on Kindle, which I plan to read when I finish the corresponding chapter in the Institutes to revise / see if I missed anything out. As mentioned above, I’m using the MacNeill-Battles version of the Institutes.
I have a long, long way to go, but if this is a foretaste, I’m really excited. May God work in me through His faithful servant’s words (: