Thursday Motivational Theology.

Further to this morning, and knowing that systematic is a toolkit not a goal, is this comment from Brother Adam.

I give my all, all of the time, because I do it for the glory of God. I do it in spite of the masses who cannot be bothered but who expect everything of this world to be for them. I won’t take the ticket, but I will stand up and rub it in the faces of those that do. In the end, the ultimate level of anti-fragility is to believe in God and to know that what they do to you does not matter. All that matters is how you stand up to them and in whose name you do so.

Aquinas summaries the error of Arius. It is good to remember that St Nicholas punched Arius out because of this error. At times theology has been a contact sport. I’m being brief here: Briggs has the whole thing, and it goes downhill from here.

THE OPINION OF ARIUS ABOUT THE SON OF GOD

1 Now, sacred doctrine does not agree that the Son of God took His beginning from Mary, as Photinus used to say, nor that He who was God from eternity and is the Father began to be the Son by taking flesh, as Sabellius had said. And so, there were others who developed this opinion about the divine generation of which Scripture treats: that the Son of God existed before the mystery of the Incarnation and even before the foundation of the world; and, because that Son of God is other than God the Father, they judged He was not of the same nature with God the Father, for they could not understand and did not wish to believe that any two who are distinct as persons have one essence and nature.

And because in the faith’s teaching only the nature of God the Father is believed to be eternal, they believed that the nature of the Son did not exist from eternity, although the Son was before other creatures. And since whatever is not eternal is made from nothing and created by God, they used to preach that the Son of God was made from nothing and was a creature. But, since the authority of Scripture forced them to name the Son also, as was brought out in the foregoing they used to say that He was one with God the Father—not to be sure, by nature, but by a kind of union of consent, and by a participation in the divine likeness above all other creatures.

Now, the highest creatures whom we call angels are named “gods” and “sons of God” in Scripture, as in Job (58:4, 7): “Where were you when the morning stars praised Me together, and all the sons of God made a joyful melody?” and in a Psalm (81:1): “God has stood in the congregation of gods: Accordingly, this one should be called Son of God and God more than the others, to show that He is more noble than any other creature in that through Him God the Father established all the rest of creation.

The good schoolmaster is winding up to give Arius and intellectual shellacking, which follows. What Arius serves as is a warning. If you go too far down the path of speculation, or draw too much from your current circumstances, you will end up in error.

Ironically, Calvin, who has a reputation for rigidity, coldness, and impracticality, preaches instead charity and action. In this fallen world things go wrong and most people do not look to the comforts of God, or consider that holding a grudge hurts them.

8. If any thing adverse befalls him, he will forthwith raise his mind to God, whose hand is most effectual in impressing us with patience and placid moderation of mind. Had Joseph kept his thoughts fixed on the treachery of his brethren, he never could have resumed fraternal affection for them. But turning toward the Lord, he forgot the injury, and was so inclined to mildness and mercy, that he even voluntarily comforts his brethren, telling them, “Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.” “As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,” (Gen. 45:5; 50:20). Had Job turned to the Chaldees, by whom he was plundered, he should instantly have been fired with revenge, but recognising the work of the Lord, he solaces himself with this most beautiful sentiment: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” (Job 1:21). So when David was assailed by Shimei with stones and curses, had he immediately fixed his eyes on the man, he would have urged his people to retaliate the injury; but perceiving that he acts not without an impulse from the Lord, he rather calms them. “So let him curse,” says he, “because the Lord has said unto him, Curse David.” With the same bridle he elsewhere curbs the excess of his grief, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it,” (Ps. 39:9). If there is no more effectual remedy for anger and impatience, he assuredly has not made little progress who has learned so to meditate on Divine Providence, as to be able always to bring his mind to this, The Lord willed it, it must therefore be borne; not only because it is unlawful to strive with him, but because he wills nothing that is not just and befitting. The whole comes to this. When unjustly assailed by men, overlooking their malice (which could only aggravate our grief, and whet our minds for vengeance), let us remember to ascend to God, and learn to hold it for certain, that whatever an enemy wickedly committed against us was permitted, and sent by his righteous dispensation. Paul, in order to suppress our desire to retaliate injuries, wisely reminds us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with our spiritual enemy the devil, that we may prepare for the contest (Eph. 6:12). But to calm all the impulses of passion, the most useful consideration is, that God arms the devil, as well as all the wicked, for conflict, and sits as umpire, that he may exercise our patience. But if the disasters and miseries which press us happen without the agency of men, let us call to mind the doctrine of the Law (Deut. 28:1), that all prosperity has its source in the blessing of God, that all adversity is his curse. And let us tremble at the dreadful denunciation, “And if ye will not be reformed by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you,” (Lev. 26:23, 24). These words condemn our torpor, when, according to our carnal sense, deeming that whatever happens in any way is fortuitous, we are neither animated by the kindness of God to worship him, nor by his scourge stimulated to repentance. And it is for this reason that Jeremiah (Lament. 3:38), and Amos (Amos 3:6), expostulated bitterly with the Jews, for not believing that good as well as evil was produced by the command of God. To the same effect are the words in Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things,” (Is. 45:7).

9. At the same time, the Christian will not overlook inferior causes. For, while he regards those by whom he is benefited as ministers of the divine goodness, he will not, therefore, pass them by, as if their kindness deserved no gratitude, but feeling sincerely obliged to them, will willingly confess the obligation, and endeavour, according to his ability, to return it. In fine, in the blessings which he receives, he will revere and extol God as the principal author, but will also honour men as his ministers, and perceive, as is the truth, that by the will of God he is under obligation to those, by whose hand God has been pleased to show him kindness. If he sustains any loss through negligence or imprudence, he will, indeed, believe that it was the Lord’s will it should so be, but, at the same time, he will impute it to himself. If one for whom it was his duty to care, but whom he has treated with neglect, is carried off by disease, although aware that the person had reached a limit beyond which it was impossible to pass, he will not, therefore, extenuate his fault, but, as he had neglected to do his duty faithfully towards him, will feel as if he had perished by his guilty negligence. Far less where, in the case of theft or murder, fraud and preconceived malice have existed, will he palliate it under the pretext of Divine Providence, but in the same crime will distinctly recognise the justice of God, and the iniquity of man, as each is separately manifested. But in future events, especially, will he take account of such inferior causes. If he is not left destitute of human aid, which he can employ for his safety, he will set it down as a divine blessing; but he will not, therefore, be remiss in taking measures, or slow in employing the help of those whom he sees possessed of the means of assisting him. Regarding all the aids which the creatures can lend him, as hands offered him by the Lord, he will avail himself of them as the legitimate instruments of Divine Providence. And as he is uncertain what the result of any business in which he engages is to be (save that he knows, that in all things the Lord will provide for his good), he will zealously aim at what he deems for the best, so far as his abilities enable him. In adopting his measures, he will not be carried away by his own impressions, but will commit and resign himself to the wisdom of God, that under his guidance he may be led into the right path. However, his confidence in external aid will not be such that the presence of it will make him feel secure, the absence of it fill him with dismay, as if he were destitute. His mind will always be fixed on the Providence of God alone, and no consideration of present circumstances will be allowed to withdraw him from the steady contemplation of it. Thus Joab, while he acknowledges that the issue of the battle is entirely in the hand of God, does not therefore become inactive, but strenuously proceeds with what belongs to his proper calling, “Be of good courage,” says he, “and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God; and the Lord do that which seemeth him good,” (2 Sam. 10:12). The same conviction keeping us free from rashness and false confidence, will stimulate us to constant prayer, while at the same time filling our minds with good hope, it will enable us to feel secure, and bid defiance to all the dangers by which we are surrounded.

We do not practice our faith in the library, but in the marketplace. Let is do good, and honour those who do the same. Evil will come, but we are not called to be its ally.