The Foes of Truth…

…  find great difficulty in refuting the enemies of pure and sound doctrine: possessed of serpentine lubricity, they escape by the most artful expedients, unless they are vigorously pursued, and held fast when once caught.  — John Calvin

Preach it, John!  Or, put in language that our precious teens can grasp, the enemies of truth are slippery and evasive and sneaky and they do whatever they can to escape when cornered by the facts.  They have to be held down by force.

Think, for example, of David Barton.

The Blinding Force of Self-Love

zw941.jpgMay everyone learn to know himself—by another in no wise is one known—although the defenses of self-love are so strong that very few persons, if any at all, break through to a knowledge of their own selves.

Under no other teacher or guide than God alone, the builder of man, will it ever be granted to see the secrets of the human heart. For as He created man, so He knows all the headwaters of his cunning and the source whence they come. All of which Jeremiah signified by the words [17:9]: “Who can know it?” doubtless not supposing that any one would venture to avouch that he had knowledge of it, except the God who fashioned it. Hence, at once, he adds: “I, the Lord, who search the heart and try the reins.”

From the Lord God, therefore, the Creator of man, is the knowledge of man to be sought, no less than the knowledge of Himself, though for different reasons. The knowledge of God is denied to our understanding because of its feebleness and His glory and splendor, but the knowledge of man, because of his boldness and readiness in lying and dissembling, as has been said.*

“Know Thyself”?  Socrates, that’s not possible.  We don’t know who or what we are until God reveals it to us.  Self love blinds us so thoroughly that we can’t see clearly enough to know anything until, like Paul, after his experience on the road to Damascus, God opens our eyes.

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*The Latin works of Huldreich Zwingli, Volume 3. (C. N. Heller, Ed.) (p. 76). Philadelphia: Heidelberg Press.

Plague

zwingli9235In … 1519 the plague appeared in Switzerland.  As it had not yet come to Zurich, Zwingli went on a holiday that summer to Pfaefers, about sixty miles south-east of Zurich. In the village was a large Benedictine monastery, in which he probably stopped. There Zwingli was when the news reached him that the plague had broken out in Zurich.

As it was the duty of the people’s priest to be on service in the city during plague time, he hastened back, and did his duty faithfully. The plague was very severe, for 2500 died of it out of an aggregate population in the three parishes of only 17,000. It broke out on St. Lawrence’s day (Wednesday, August 10, 1519), reached its height September 12th, and subsided in Christmas week, yet lingered for a year after that.

Zwingli fell a victim toward the end of September, and was very sick. By November he was able to write again. But his recovery was slow. On November 30th, he complains that the disease had left his memory weakened, his spirits reduced, so that his mind wandered when preaching, and after preaching he felt thoroughly exhausted. On December 31st, he reported himself as well again, and that the last ulcer caused by the malady had healed.

But his rejoicing was premature, as on March 27, 1520, he complains that he had eaten and drunk many drugs to get rid of his fever, and still his head was weak, although he was daily growing better.*

Zwingli never shirked his duty, never fled the scene, never acted out of fear or in a quest for self preservation. Always his eyes were on the Church for which he felt an all encompassing responsibility. Even if he was wrong on things from time to time, his motives were always stellar.

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S. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531),(pp. 131–132). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Praying with Calvin

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast not only provided for thine ancient Church, by choosing JEREMIAH as thy servant, but hast also designed that the fruit of his labours should continue to our age,

—O grant that we may not be unthankful to thee, but that we may so avail ourselves of so great a benefit, that the fruit of it may appear in us to the glory of thy name; may we learn so entirely to devote ourselves to thy service, and each of us be so attentive to the work of his calling, that we may strive with united hearts to promote the honour of thy name, and also the kingdom of thine only-begotten Son, until we finish our warfare, and come at length into that celestial rest, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only Son. Amen.