The Prayers of J. Calvin (24)

Calvin PreachingOn this Lord’s Day we continue our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in 2015 – last on Sept.20, 2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979). Today we post a brief section from his twenty-third lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 6:1-9, which includes Calvin’s commentary on v.8, ”Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.”

…It is then the same as though God was stopping in the middle course of his wrath, and saying, ‘What is to be done? Shall I destroy the city which I have chosen?’ He then attributes here to God a paternal feeling….

God is not indeed subject to grief or to repentance; but his ineffable goodness cannot be otherwise expressed to us but by such mode of speaking. So also, in this place, we see that God as it were restrains himself; for he had previously commanded the enemies to ascend quickly the walls, to overturn the towers, and to destroy the whole city; but now, as though he had repented, he says, Be instructed, Jerusalem; that is, ‘Can we not yet be reconciled?’

It is like the conduct of an offended father, who intends to punish his son, and yet desires to moderate his displeasure, and to blend some indulgence with rigour. Be then instructed; that is, ‘There is yet room for reconciliation, if thou wishest; provided thou shewest thyself willing to relinquish that perverseness by which thou hast hitherto provoked me, I will in return prove myself to be a father’ (pp.323-324).

And this is the prayer that concludes this lecture:

Grant, Almighty God, that since Thou kindly invitest us to repentance, and urgest us also by setting before us examples of thy wrath, – O grant, that we may not continue perversely disobedient, but render ourselves tractable and submissive to Thee, so that we may not meet with that dreadful severity which Thou didst threaten to Thine ancient people, but anticipate the wrath which Thou didst formerly denounce on them; and may we thus with a pious heart return to Thee, that we may find by experience that Thou art ever a propitious Father to sinners, whenever they return to Thee, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen (p.327).

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