by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. —Exodus 20:6
God gives a promise to extend his mercy to a thousand generations; which also frequently occurs in the Scripture, and is inserted in the solemn covenant with the Church, "I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee." In allusion to this, Solomon says that "the children of the just man are blessed after him;" not only as the effect of a religious education, which is of no small importance, but also in consequence of the blessing promised in the covenant, that the grace of God shall perpetually remain in the families of the pious.
This is a source of peculiar consolation to the faithful, but to the impious of great terror; for if, even after death, the memory of righteousness and iniquity has so much influence with God, that the curse of the one and the blessing of the other will redound to posterity, much more will it remain on the persons of the actors themselves.
Now it is no objection to our argument that the descendants of the impious sometimes grow better, while those of the faithful degenerate; since the Legislator never intended to establish in this case such an invariable rule as would derogate from his own free choice. For it is sufficient for the consolation of the righteous and the terror of the sinner that the denunciation is not vain or ineffective, although it be not always executed....
He also gives a brief suggestion of the greatness of his mercy, which he extends to a thousand generations, while he has assigned only four generations to his vengeance. —Institutes, II, viii, xxi
John Calvin was the premier theologian of the Reformation, but also a pious and godly Christian pastor who endeavored throughout his life to point men and women to Christ. We are grateful to Reformation Heritage Books for permission to use John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart as our daily devotional for 2013 on the OPC Web site. You can currently obtain a printed copy of that book from Reformation Heritage Books.
Dr. Joel Beeke, who is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, has this to say:
"Calvin shows us the piety of a Reformed theologian who speaks from the heart. Having tasted the goodness and grace of God in Jesus Christ, he pursued piety by seeking to know and do God’s will every day. He communed with Christ, practicing repentance, self-denial, and cross-bearing. Moreover, his theology worked itself out in heart-felt, Christ-honoring piety. The selections of this devotional bear this out, and hopefully will be used by God to direct pious hearts in our own day."
These devotional readings from John Calvin were compiled by John H. Kromminga. Be sure to read his "Introduction" to John Calvin's Thine Is My Heart.