So then, to the end we wax not weary of the doctrine that is preached to us: let us mark that it is needful for us that God should put us still in mind of the things that he has taught us already: for our wits are short towards him. And therefore let us bethink ourselves well, and when so ever it is told us that there is but one God in whom we be, and that he is not only our maker, but also our father, and has adopted us to be his children, and moreover tied us to him by a much straighter band, in that he has redeemed us with the blood of his own son: when so ever we be put in mind of these things: although we have heard of them before, yet let us not say, “Tush, these things have been preached to us long ago”: but let every [one] of us enter into himself, and see whether the things that we have heard heretofore, be well printed in our hearts. Let us then enter into account after that sort.
And why? For if we remembered well, that we be set in this world to the end to glorify our God: would we not be more mindful to discharge our duty towards him? If we considered the fatherly kindness that he uses in calling us his children, and which he has showed towards us once already in adopting of us in the person of his own Son: and if we mark how dearly we cost our Lord Jesus Christ when he did set us free from endless death: should we not be desirous to give ourselves wholly to our God? Should we not be moved to yield him another manner of reverence than we do?
Now, therefore, when so ever we be unruly, so as the world carries us away, and we be entangled in earthly lusts and affections: let us assure ourselves it is because we have not given good ear to our God, when he speaks to us, nor taken heed to it when he warned us of our duties. And therefore it is good for us to be put in mind of it, and to have God come back again to us and to say to us, ‘You wretched folk, what mean you? When I have once taught you: the doctrine that is contained in my Word ought to soak thoroughly into you, and yet notwithstanding you be still like little babes.”
This is it (say I) which we have to do, to the end we may find favor in God’s Word, and be nourished therewith as with our ordinary food. We must assure ourselves, that the appointing of this order that we should be preached to all the time of our life, and that we should have our ears beaten continually with the things, which we ought to understand in one or two months, is not in vain.
From John Calvin’s first sermon on the book of Deuteronomy (chap.1:1-3), preached March 20, 1555 (slightly edited for this post). These sermons are now available free in digital form from Monergism.