I fear that Bruce Charlton has discovered Calvinism. He argues that there are no good men, and I would concur. We have all sinned. The question then is what can we do. We are commandd by Chrst to repent, but to repent we need to know that we have first sinned. To do that we need to have the capacity to know th emind of God though we are fallen.
Aquinas notes that we are not God. Neo pagans take note: all men shall die, even those proclaimed as divine in their lifetimes. He says that our lives should involve a deepr understanding of the divine.
I would note that in areas where I study, the more I know the more I am certain that I don’t know more. It is fools that consider that they know everything, and are skilled. It is the most skilled who take the most care, for they have seen many errors.
Lo, these things are said in part of His ways: and seeing we have heard scarce a little drop of His word, who shall be able to behold the thunder of His greatness? (Job 26:14).
1 The human intellect, to which it is connatural to derive its knowledge from sensible things, is not able through itself to reach the vision of the divine substance in itself, which is above all sensible things and, indeed, improportionately above all other things.
Yet, because man’s perfect good is that he somehow know God, lest such a noble creature might seem to be created to no purpose, as being unable to reach its own end, there is given to man a certain way through which he can rise to the knowledge of God: so that, since the perfections of things descend in a certain order from the highest summit of things—God—man may progress in the knowledge of God by beginning with lower things and gradually ascending. Now, even in bodily movements, the way of descending is the same as the way of ascending, distinguished by beginning and end.
Notes Connatural: “Connected by nature; united in nature; inborn; inherent; natural.” From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48.
So Aquinas — and all the reformed should be saing amen to this, notes that we cannot undersand God but by his spirit. Those who know God will seek his leading. Aquinas method of arguing from first principles is now starting to run thin. It is better to rely on revlation, and not be too clever.
And it is far better, as Calvin says, to know that we don’t know the mind of God.
1. MOREOVER, such is the proneness of the human mind to indulge in vain subtleties, that it becomes almost impossible for those who do not see the sound and proper use of this doctrine, to avoid entangling themselves in perplexing difficulties. It will, therefore, be proper here to advert to the end which Scripture has in view in teaching that all things are divinely ordained. And it is to be observed, first, that the Providence of God is to be considered with reference both to the past and the future; and, secondly, that in overruling all things, it works at one time with means, at another without means, and at another against means. Lastly, the design of God is to show that He takes care of the whole human race, but is especially vigilant in governing the Church, which he favours with a closer inspection. Moreover, we must add, that although the paternal favour and beneficence, as well as the judicial severity of God, is often conspicuous in the whole course of his Providence, yet occasionally as the causes of events are concealed, the thought is apt to rise, that human affairs are whirled about by the blind impulse of Fortune, or our carnal nature inclines us to speak as if God were amusing himself by tossing men up and down like balls. It is true, indeed, that if with sedate and quiet minds we were disposed to learn, the issue would at length make it manifest, that the counsel of God was in accordance with the highest reason, that his purpose was either to train his people to patience, correct their depraved affections, tame their wantonness, inure them to self-denial, and arouse them from torpor; or, on the other hand, to cast down the proud, defeat the craftiness of the ungodly, and frustrate all their schemes. How much soever causes may escape our notice, we must feel assured that they are deposited with him, and accordingly exclaim with David, “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered,” (Ps. 40:5). For while our adversities ought always to remind us of our sins, that the punishment may incline us to repentance, we see, moreover, how Christ declares there is something more in the secret counsel of his Father than to chastise every one as he deserves. For he says of the man who was born blind, “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” (John 9:3). Here, where calamity takes precedence even of birth, our carnal sense murmurs as if God were unmerciful in thus afflicting those who have not offended. But Christ declares that, provided we had eyes clear enough, we should perceive that in this spectacle the glory of his Father is brightly displayed. We must use modesty, not as it were compelling God to render an account, but so revering his hidden Judgments as to account his will the best of all reasons. When the sky is overcast with dense clouds, and a violent tempest arises, the darkness which is presented to our eye, and the thunder which strikes our ears, and stupefies all our senses with terror, make us imagine that every thing is thrown into confusion, though in the firmament itself all continues quiet and serene. In the same way, when the tumultuous aspect of human affairs unfits us for judging, we should still hold, that God, in the pure light of his justice and wisdom, keeps all these commotions in due subordination, and conducts them to their proper end. And certainly in this matter many display monstrous infatuation, presuming to subject the works of God to their calculation, and discuss his secret counsels, as well as to pass a precipitate Judgment on things unknown, and that with greater license than on the doings of mortal men. What can be more preposterous than to show modesty toward our equals, and choose rather to suspend our Judgment than incur the blame of rashness, while we petulantly insult the hidden Judgments of God, Judgments which it becomes us to look up to and revere.
There is an error that was too simple for either of these scholarly gentlemen. That people would think of God as an automatic despense of favours, appealing to their every want or need. No true father treats their son that way, no true husband his wife. There is reality. We don’t have the money for that in the budget. Too many carbs is bad for you, son.
And sometime the fruition of our plans requires hard effort and sacrifice.
But Gd does guide us and provide for us. Though at times we cannot see it. For that give him thanks.