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The Parable of the Sower

Luke 8:4-15

John Calvin
A life well-composed

It’s sufficient that we recognize our calling from the Lord to be the principle and foundation of good works in all our affairs. The one who doesn’t frame his actions with reference to his calling will never keep the right course in his duties. He will perhaps occasionally do things that are praiseworthy in appearance, but his actions, whatever value they might have before men, will be rejected before God’s throne. Nor will there be consistency in his actions in the various spheres of his life.

Consequently, the one who directs himself toward the goal of observing God’s calling will have a life well composed. Free from rash impulses, he won’t attempt more than his calling warrants. He will understand that he shouldn’t overstep his boundaries. He who lives in obscurity will live an ordinary life without complaint, so that he won’t be found guilty of deserting his divinely appointed post. Indeed, in the midst of troubles, hardships, annoyances, and other burdens, he will find great relief when he remembers God is his guide in all these matters. The magistrate will more gladly attend to his duties. The father will more gladly commit himself to his responsibilities. Each person, in whatever his station in life, will endure and overcome troubles, inconveniences, disappointments, and anxieties, convinced that his burden has been placed upon him by God. Great consolation will follow from all of this. For every work performed in obedience to one’s calling, no matter how ordinary and common, is radiant–most valuable in the eyes of our Lord.

–John Calvin in A Little Book on the Christian Life, edited and translated by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2017), 125-126.

J.C. Ryle
Cleave to Christ

Let us cleave to Christ more closely, love Him more heartily, live to Him more thoroughly, copy Him more exactly, confess Him more boldly, follow Him more fully. Religion like this will always bring its own reward. Worldly people may laugh at it. Weak brethren may think it extreme. But it will wear well. At even time it will bring us light. In sickness it will bring us peace. In the world to come it will give us a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

–J.C. Ryle in Sickness, Chapel Library, Pensacola, Florida (1998), 26.

J.C. Ryle
Honoring God in sickness

I earnestly entreat all sick believers to remember that they may honour God as much by patient suffering as they can by active work. It often shows more grace to sit still than it does to go to and fro, and perform great exploits. I entreat them to remember that Christ cares for them as much when they are sick as He does when they are well, and that the very chastisement they feel so acutely is sent in love, and not in anger.

–J.C. Ryle in Sickness, Chapel Library, Pensacola, Florida (1998), 23-24.

John Calvin
Worthy causes of suffering

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV)

And thus Christian exhortations to endure suffering are of this sort: Whether we suffer poverty, exile, imprisonment, contempt, sickness, childlessness, or any such thing, let us remember that nothing happens apart from God’s pleasure and providence, and that God himself does nothing that isn’t perfectly in order. What then? Don’t our innumerable and frequent faults deserve more severe and weighty punishments that those that He, according to His mercy, has placed on us? Isn’t it fair that our flesh be tamed and made familiar with the yoke in order to keep it from running wild with lust according to its natural disposition? Are God’s justice and truth not worthy causes to suffer for?

–John Calvin in A Little Book on the Christian Life, edited and translated by Aaron Clay Denlinger and Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust Publishing, Sanford, Florida (2017), 83-84.