Six Lectures Delivered at Princeton University, under the auspices of the L. P. Stone Kuyper has indispensable contributions to Calvinism as an. Kuyper presents Calvinism as a life-system of comprehensive and Though based on lectures delivered in , Kuyper’s book retains its relevance even. Kuyper closed his lectures with a claim that for many today sounds preposterous. Do not write him off. Get the book Lectures on Calvinism, and test these words.
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The page numbering of the Eerdmans printed edition has been retained for the benefit of readers. Not, of course, in order to exhaust in one lecture such a weighty subject.
Four points of it only I submit to your thoughtful consideration; first, that Calvinism fostered and could not but foster love for science; secondly, that it restored to science its domain; thirdly, that it delivered science from unnatural bonds; and fourthly, in what manner it sought and found a solution for the unavoidable scientific conflict. First of all then: There is found hidden in Calvinism an impulse, an inclination, an incentive, to scientific investigation. It is a fact that science has been fostered by it, and its principle demands the scientific spirit.
One glorious page from the history of Calvinism may suffice to prove the fact, before we enter more fully upon the discussion of the incentive to scientific investigation found in Calvinism as such. The page from the history of Calvinism, or let us rather say of mankind, matchless in its beauty, to which I refer, is the siege of Leyden, more than three hundred years ago. This siege of Leyden was in fact a struggle between Alva and Prince William about the future course of the history of the world; and the result was that in the end Alva had to withdraw, and that William the Silent was enabled to unfurl the banner of liberty over Europe.
Leyden, defended almost exclusively by its own citizens, entered the lists against the best troops of what was looked upon at that time as the finest army of the world.
Calvinism: Six Stone-lectures
Three months after the commencement of the siege, the supply of food became lecturew. A fearful famine lecures to rage. This black famine was soon followed by the black death or the plague, which carried off a third part of the inhabitants.
The Spaniards offered peace and. If it is necessary, we are ready to consume our left arms, and to defend with our right arms our wives, our liberty and our religion against thee, O tyrant. They patiently waited for the coming of the Prince of Orange to raise the siege. The dikes calvinim the province of Holland had been cut through; the country surrounding Leyden was flooded; a fleet lay ready to hasten to Leyden’s aid; but the wind drove the water back, preventing the fleet from passing the shallow pools.
God tried his people sorely. At last however, on the first of October, the wind turned towards the West, and, forcing the lecturws upward, enabled the fleet to reach the beleaguered city. Then the Spaniards fled in haste to escape the lrctures tide. On the 3rd of October the fleet entered the port of Leyden, and the siege being raised, Holland and Europe were saved The population, all but starved to death, could scarcely drag themselves along, yet all to a man limped as well as they could to the house of prayer.
Lectures on Calvinism: The Stone Lectures of 1898
There all fell on their knees and gave thanks to God. But when they tried to utter their gratitude in psalms of praise, they were almost voiceless, for there was no strength left in them, and the tones of their song died away in grateful sobbing and weeping.
Behold what I call a glorious page in the history of liberty, written in blood, and if you now ask me, what has this to do with science, see here the answer: In recognition of such patriotic courage, the States of Holland did not present Leyden with a handful of knightly orders, lecturws gold, or honor, but with a School of the Sciences, -the University of Leyden, renowned through the whole world. Scaliger was conveyed from France in a man-of-war. Lecturrs came to Leyden under convoy of a whole squadron.
Why should I give you the long list of names of the princes of science, of the giants in learning, who have filled Leyden with the lustre of their renown, or tell you how this love for science. You know the Lipsii, the Hemsterhuizen, the Boerhaves. It is an undeniable fact, that the Calvinistic Netherlands had love for science and fostered it. But the most evident, the most convincing proof is doubtless found in the establishment of Leyden’s University. To receive as the highest lrctures a University of the Sciences in a moment, when, in a fearful struggle, the course of the history of the world was turned by your heroism is only conceivable among a people in whose very life-principle love for science is involved.
And now I approach the principle itself. For it is not enough to be acquainted with the fact, I must also show you why it is that Calvinism cannot but foster love for science.
And do not think it strange, when Ledtures point to the Calvinistic dogma of predestination as the strongest motive in those days for the cultivation of science in a higher sense. This is transformed into science when you discover in the specific phenomena, perceived by empiricism, a universal law, and thereby reach the thought which governs the whole constellation. The subject-matter of the several sciences must be grouped under one head and brought under the sway of one principle by means of theory or hypothesis, and finally Systematics, as the queen of sciences, comes forth from her tent to weave all the different results into one organic whole.
It is true, I know, that Dubois Raymond’s winged word Ignorabimus lecturex been used by many to make it seem impossible that our thirst for science in the highest sense will ever be quenched, and that Agnosticism, drawing a curtain across the ca,vinism and over the abysses of life, is satisfied with a study of the phenomena of the several sciences; but some time ago, the human mind began to take its revenge on this spiritual vandalism.
The question about the origin, interconnection and destiny of everything that exists cannot be suppressed; and the. How, now, can we prove that love for science in that higher sense, which aims at unity in our cognizance of the entire cosmos, is effectually secured by means of our Calvinistic belief in God’s fore-ordination? If you want to understand this you have to go back from predestination to God’s decree in general, This is not a matter of choice; on the contrary, it must be done.
Belief in predestination is nothing but the penetration of God’s decree into your own personal life; or, if you prefer it, the personal heroism to apply the sovereignty of God’s decreeing will to your own existence. It means that we are not satisfied with a mere profession of words, but that we are willing to stand by our confession in regard both to this life and the life to come.
It is a proof of honesty, unmovable firmness and solidity in our expressions concerning the unity of God’s Will, and the certainty of His operations. It is a deed of high courage because it brings you under the suspicion of. But if you now proceed to the decree of God, what else does God’s fore- ordination mean than the certainty that the existence and course of all things, i. Now do you not agree with me that this forces upon our mind the indissoluble conception of one calvinosm comprehensive unity, and the acceptance of one principle by which everything is governed?
It forces upon us the recognition of something that is general, hidden and yet expressed in that which is special.
Calvinism: Six Stone-lectures – Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Yea, it forces upon us the confession that there must be: Thus you recognize that the cosmos, instead of being a heap of stones, loosely thrown together, on the contrary presents to our mind a monumental building erected in a severely consistent style.
Do you abandon this point of view, then it is uncertain at any moment, what is to happen, what course things may take, what every morning and evening may have in store for you, your family, your country, the world at large. Man’s capricious will is then the principal concern.
Every man may then choose and act every moment in a certain way, but it is also possible that he may do just the reverse. If this were so, you could count upon nothing. There is no interconnection, no development, no continuity; a chronicle, but no history.
And now tell me, what becomes of science under such conditions? You may yet speak of the study of nature, but the study of human life has been made ambiguous and uncertain.
Lectures on Calvinism
Nothing but bare facts may then be historically ascertained, interconnection and plan have no longer a place in history. I do not for a moment propose to enter just now into a discussion about man’s free will. We have no time for it. But it is a fact that the more thorough development of science in our age has almost unanimously decided in favor of Calvinism with regard to the antithesis between the unity and stability of God’s decree, which Calvinism professes, and the superficiality and looseness, which the Arminians preferred.
The systems of the great modern philosophers are, almost to one, in favor of unity and stability. Buckle’s History of the Civilization in England has succeeded in proving. Lombroso, and his entire school of criminalists, place themselves on record in this respect as moving on Calvinistic lines.
Though I abstain at present from any criticism either of these philosophical systems or of these naturalistic hypotheses, so much at least is very clearly demonstrated by them, that the entire development of science in our age presupposes a cosmos which does not fall a prey to the freaks of chance, but exists and develops from one principle, according to a firm order, aiming at one fixed plan.
This is a claim which is, as it clearly appears, diametrically opposed to Arminianism, and in complete harmony with Calvinistic belief that there is one Supreme will in God, the cause of all existing things, subjecting them to fixed ordinances and directing them towards a pre-established plan Calvinists have never thought that the idea of the cosmos lay in God’s foreordination as an aggregate of loosely conjoined decrees, but they have always maintained that the whole formed one organic programme of the entire creation and the entire history.
And as a Calvinist looks upon God’s decree as the foundation and origin of the natural laws, in the same manner also he finds in it the firm foundation and the origin of every moral and spiritual law; both these, the natural as well as the spiritual laws, forming together one high order, which exists according to God’s command and wherein God’s counsel will be accomplished in the consummation of His eternal, all-embracing plan.
Faith in such an unity, stability and order of things, personally, as predestination, cosmically, as the counsel of God’s decree, could not but awaken as with a loud voice, and vigorously foster love for science.
Without a deep conviction of this unity, this stability and this order, science is unable to go beyond mere conjectures, and only when there is faith in the organic interconnection of the Universe, will there be also a possibility for science to ascend from the empirical investigation of the special phenomena to the general, and from the general to the law which rules over it, and from.
The data, which are absolutely indispensable for all higher science, are at hand only under this supposition. Remember the fact that in those days when Calvinism cleared for itself a path in life, tottering semipelagianism had blunted this conviction of unity, stability and order to such an extent that even Thomas Aquinas lost a great deal of his influence, while Scotists, Mystics and Epicureans vied with one another in their endeavors to deprive the human mind of its steady course.
And who is there who does not perceive what entirely new impulse to undertake scientific investigations had to grow out of the new-born Calvinism, which with one powerful grasp brought order out of chaos, putting under discipline so dangerous a spiritual licentiousness, making an end to that halting between two or more opinions, and showing us instead of rising and falling mists, the picture of a powerfully- rushing mountain stream, taking its course through a well-regulated bed towards an ocean which waits to receive it.
Calvinism has gone through many fierce struggles on account of its clinging to the counsel of God’s decree. Again and again it seemed to be near the brink of destruction.
ldctures Calvinism has been reviled and slandered on account of it, and when it refused to exclude even. They knew not what they did. Through evil report and good report Calvinism has firmly maintained its confession.
It has not allowed itself to be deprived by scoff and scorn of the firm conviction that our entire life must be under the sway of unity, solidity and order, established by God himself. This accounts for its need of unity of insight, firmness of knowledge, order in its world-view, fostered among us, even in the wide circles of the common people, and this manifest need is the reason that a thirst for knowledge was quickened, which in those days was nowhere satisfied in a more abundant measure than in Calvinistic countries.
This explains why it is lecrures in the writings of those days you meet with such a determination, such an energy of thought, such a comprehensive view of life. I even venture to say, that in the memoirs of noble women of that century and in. Intimately connected with this is also the fact that they never favored the so-called primacy of the will. They demanded, in their practical life, the bridle of a clear conscienceness, and in this consciousness the leadership could not be entrusted to humor or whim, to fancy or chance, but only to the majesty of the highest principle, wherein they found the explanation of their existence and to which their whole life was consecrated.
I now leave my first point, that Calvinism fostered love for science, in order to proceed to the second, that Calvinism restored to science its domain. I mean to say that cosmical science originated in the Graeco-Roman world; that in the middle ages the cosmos vanished behind the horizon to draw the attention of all to the distant sights of future life, and that it was Calvinism which, without losing ouyper of the spiritual, led to a rehabilitation of the cosmic sciences.
If we were forced to choose between the beautiful cosmic taste of Greece with its blindness for things eternal, and the middle ages with their blindness for cosmical things, but with their mystic love for Letcures, then certainly every child of God on his death-bed would tender the palm to Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas rather than to Heraclitus and Aristotle.
The pilgrim who wanders kuyer the world without concerning himself about its preservation and destiny, presents to us a more ideal figure than the Greek worldling who sought religion in the worship of Venus, or Bacchus, and who flattered himself in hero-worship, debased his honor as a man in the veneration of prostitutes, and at last sank lower than the brutes in pederasty.
Let it be quite understood therefore that I do not in any way over-rate the classical world, to the detraction of the heavenly lustre which sparkled through all the haze of the middle ages.
But notwithstanding all this I assert and maintain that the one Aristotle knew more of the cosmos than all the church- fathers taken together; that under the dominion of Islam, better cosmic science flourished than in the cathedral- and monastic-schools of Europe; that the recovery of.
Whom the Scriptures testify that in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All agree that the Christian religion is substantially soteriological. This question is unintelligible for those who refuse to view time in the light of eternity, and who are accustomed to think of this earth without organic and moral connection with the life to come.
But of course, wherever two elements appear, as in this case the sinner and the saint, the temporal and the eternal, the terrestrial and the heavenly life, there is always danger of losing sight of their interconnection and of falsifying both by error or one- sidedness. Christendom, it must be confessed, did not escape this error.
A dualistic conception of regeneration was the cause of the rupture between the life of nature and the life of grace. It has, on account of its too intense contemplation of celestial things, neglected to give due attention to the world of God’s creation.
It has, on account of its exclusive love of things eternal, been backward in the fulfilment of its temporal duties. It has neglected the care of the body because it cared too exclusively for the soul.
And this one-sided, inharmonious conception in the course of time has led more than one sect to a mystic worshipping of Christ alone, to the exclusion of God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.