by John Calvin (compiled by John H. Kromminga)
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. —Hebrews 10:31
Let us note, then, this sentence of the Apostle, that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God; and therefore as often as there is any punishment, let us be moved by it.
And thereby we shall be taught to pity those who are in distress, and say, "Alas, this poor creature; if it were some mortal man that affiicted him, a man might give him some relief. But God is against him, and ought we not to have pity as we see this?"
Someone may say, "Are we not resisting God when we are sorry for those who are punished for their sins? Is this not a striving against God's justice?" No; for we may recognize God's justice and praise and glorify him for what he does; and yet nevertheless be sorry for those who are punished, because we ourselves may have deserved as much or more, and ought to seek the welfare of all men, especially those who are nearest to us.
And when God has established any bond between them and us, we must pity them also. In like manner we recognize civil justice, which is a little mirror of God's justice, and yet do not cease to have pity on the offender.
When a criminal is punished, men do not say that he has been wronged, or that the judge is cruel. But they say that those who are in the place of justice do their duty and render an acceptable sacrifice to God, when they put an offender to death. But yet in the meanwhile we do not cease to pity the poor creature that shall suffer for his evil deeds.
If we are not touched by this, there is no humanity in us. If we grant this with respect to earthly justice, which is as a little spark of God's justice, I pray you when we come to the sovereign seat of justice on high, ought we not first to glorify God for all that he does, assuring ourselves that he is just and upright in all respects?
And yet this shall not hinder us from pitying those who suffer punishment, to comfort them and aid them; and when we are unable to do them any good, to wish for their salvation, praying God to make their corrections profitable, in drawing them home, and not to allow them to become hardhearted, and to strive against his hand. —Sermons
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.