What We Must Know About God

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Since God’s majesty is intrinsically above and beyond the power of human understanding, and just cannot be grasped by it, we must adore its loftiness rather than scrutinize it, so as not to be entirely overwhelmed by such brightness.

This is why we must seek and consider God in His works which, for this reason, the Scripture calls manifestations of what is invisible (Romans 1:19-20; Hebrews 11:1) because these works portray to us what we could not otherwise know of the Lord.

We are not talking here about empty and frivolous speculations which keep our minds in a state of uncertainty, but of something which is essential for us to know — something which does us good, and which establishes in us a true and solid piety, that is, faith mixed with fear.

In looking at this universe, then, we gaze upon the immortality of our God. It is this immortality which gives rise to the beginning and origin of everything which exists. We gaze upon His power which has created such a vast system and now sustains it. We gaze upon His wisdom which has brought into being such a great and varied array of creatures, and rules them in a finely balanced and ordered way.

We gaze upon His goodness which was the very reason why all these things were created and continue to exist. We gaze upon His justice which displays itself in a marvelous way in the protection of good people, and in the punishment of bad ones. We gaze upon His mercy which so gently puts up with our sins, in order that it might call us to put our lives straight.

Indeed, it is so very necessary for us to be plentifully taught about God, and we really ought to let the universe do it for us. And it would do, if it were not for the fact that our course insensitivity is blind to such a great light.

But it is not only in being blind that we sin. Such is our waywardness that, when it considers God’s works, there is nothing that it does not perceive in an evil and perverse sense. It turns upside down all the heavenly wisdom which otherwise shines so clearly there.

John Calvin, Truth For All Time, 1537

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