Calvin’s Institutes — Family Devotional Edition
The Creator and the Creation
Isaiah justly charges the worshipers of false gods with stupidity for not learning who the true God is from the foundations of the earth and the circle of the heavens (Isa. 40:21). Our intellect, however, is so sluggish and groveling it was necessary he should be more clearly depicted. So, God was pleased that a history of the creation should exist on which the faith of the Church might lean without seeking any other God than him whom Moses sets forth as the Creator and Architect of the world.
Moses relates that the work of creation was not accomplished in one moment, but in six days. We ought diligently to ponder on the paternal goodness of God toward the human race in not creating Adam until he had liberally enriched the earth with all good things. Had he placed him on an earth barren and unfurnished, had he given life before light, he might have seemed to pay little regard to his interest. But He has arranged the motions of the sun and stars for man’s use, has replenished the air, earth, and water with living creatures, and produced all kinds of fruit in abundance for the supply of food. By performing the office of a provident and industrious head of a family, he has shown his wondrous goodness toward us.
From this history we learn that God, by the power of his Word and his Spirit, created the heavens and the earth out of nothing; that thereafter he produced things inanimate and animate of every kind, arranging an innumerable variety of objects in admirable order, giving each kind its proper nature, office, place, and station. Heaven and earth being thus most richly adorned and copiously supplied with all things, like a large and splendid mansion gorgeously constructed and exquisitely furnished, at length man was made—man, by the beauty of his person and his many noble endowments, the most glorious specimen of the works of God.
How does one know if they have a genuine apprehension of the character of God as the Creator of the world? First, if he attends to the general rule never thoughtlessly or obliviously to overlook the glorious perfections God displays in his creatures, and, secondly, if he applies to himself what he sees so as to fix it deeply on his heart. The first is exemplified when we consider how great the Architect must be who framed and ordered the multitude of the starry host so admirably. It is further exemplified when we attend to his power in sustaining it all.
The other course has a closer relation to faith: while we observe how God has destined all things for our good and salvation, we are at the same time to feel his power and grace both in ourselves and in the great blessings which he has bestowed upon us. This should stir us up to confidence in him, to invocation, praise, and love.
The Lord himself, by the very order of creation, has demonstrated that he created all things for the sake of man. As often as we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us remember that the distribution of all the things which he created are in his hand and power. We are his sons whom he has undertaken to nourish and bring up in allegiance to him. We may expect the substance of all good from him alone, and have full hope that he will never suffer us to be in want of things necessary to salvation. In everything we desire, we may address our prayers to him. In every benefit we receive, let us acknowledge his hand and give him thanks, that drawn by his great goodness and beneficence, we may study with our whole heart to love and serve him.
Questions for Devotion
- From what aspect of creation does Calvin say we should perceive God’s goodness to us?
- Out of what did God create the heavens and the earth? What does this indicate for understand a distinction between the Creator and his creation?
- What part of the creation is the most glorious specimen of God’s works?
- What two things must we do in order to have a genuine understanding of God as Creator?
- What reaction should this inspire within us?