The Prayers of J.Calvin (16)

calvin-preaching-genevaOn this Sunday night we continue our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in 2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979). Tonight we post a brief section from his fifteenth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 4:7-14, which includes Calvin’s commentary on v.14, where God admonishes His backsliding people with these words , ‘O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved….’

But they reason foolishly who maintain that repentance is the cause of salvation, because it is said, ‘That thou mayest be saved, wash thy heart from wickedness:’ and the Papists lay hold on such passages to set up free-will; and they hold that sins are abolished and punishment remitted through satisfactions made by us. But this is extremely absurd and frivolous. For the Prophet is not speaking of the cause of salvation; but …he simply shews that men are extremely thoughtless when they expect a peaceable condition, while they carry on war with God, and when he is armed to execute vengeance on them.

We are not then to inquire here, whether a sinner delivers himself from God’s hand by his repentance; but the Prophet had only this one thing in view – that we cannot be safe and secure, except God be reconciled to us. He further shews, that God will not be propitious to us, except we repent, and that from the heart or from a genuine feeling within (220).

After this lecture, this prayer was recorded and published:

Grant, Almighty God, that since thou art pleased daily to invite us to repentance, and since our own conscience is a witness, how we have in various ways provoked thy vengeance, – O grant, that we may not remain obstinate in our sins, nor harden our minds by perverse delusions, but suffer ourselves to be subdued by thy word, and so offer ourselves to thee with a pure and sincere heart, that our whole life may be nothing else but a striving for that newness which thou requirest; so that, being consecrated to thee in mind and body, we may ever labour to glorify thy name, until we be made partakers of that glory, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son — Amen (222).

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