The Prayers of J.Calvin (7)

Praying with calvin- JeremiahContinuing our posts of the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his sixth lecture and the prayer that concludes it. This covers Jeremiah 2:12-19, which includes this familiar rebuke: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (v.13).

In his exposition of this verse Calvin has this to say for our instruction and admonition:

When any one forsakes an old friend and connects himself with a new one, it is an iniquitous and a base conduct: but when there is no compensation, there is in it united together, folly, levity, and madness. If I despise what I know to be profitable to me, and embrace what I understand will be to my hurt, does not such a choice prove madness? This then is what the Prophet now means, when he says, that the people had sinned not only by departing from the true God, but also by going over, without any compensation, unto idols, which could confer no good on them.

…We now perceive what the Prophet meant, – that we cannot possibly be free from guilt when we leave the only true God, as in him is found for us a fulness of all blessings, and  from him we may draw what may fully satisfy us. When therefore we despise the bounty of God, which is sufficient to make us in every way happy, how great must be our ingratitude and wickedness? Yet God remains ever like himself; as then he has called himself the fountain of living waters, we shall at this day find him to be so, except he is prevented by our wickedness and neglect.

But the Prophet adds another crime; for when we fall away from God, our own conceits deceive us; and whatever may appear to us at the first view to be wells or fountains, yet when thirst shall come, we shall not find a drop of water in all our devices, they being nothing else but dry cavities (pp.92-94).

And then at the end of his lecture on this section of the prophet Calvin has this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast hitherto shewn to us so many favours, since the time thou hast been pleased to adopt us as thy people, – O grant, that we may not forget so great a kindness, nor be led away by the allurements of Satan, nor seek for ourselves inventions, which may at length turn to our ruin; but [grant] that we may continue fixed in our obedience to thee, and daily call on thee, and drink of the fulness of thy bounty, and at the same time strive to serve thee from the heart, and to glorify thy name, and thus to prove that we are wholly devoted to thee, according to the great obligations under which thou hast laid us, when it pleased thee to adopt us in thine only-begotten Son. – Amen (p.106).

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