Suppressing the Knowledge of God

From Calvin’s Institutes [book 1, chapter 4]:

“No, we have still stronger evidence of the proposition for which I now contend, i.e., that a sense of deity is naturally engraved on the human heart, in the fact, that the very reprobate are forced to acknowledge it.  When at their ease, they can jest about God, and talk pertly and loquaciously in disparagement of his power; but should despair, from any cause, overtake them, it will stimulate them to seek him, and dictate ejaculatory prayers, proving that they were not entirely ignorant of God, but had perversely suppressed feelings which ought to have been earlier manifested.”

and from earlier in the chapter…

“Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him in vain speculation.  Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which his is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised.  This abyss standing open, they cannot move one footstep without rushing headlong to destruction.  With such an idea of God, nothing which they may attempt to offer in the way of worship or obedience can have any value in his sight, because it is not him they worship, but, instead of him, the dream and figment of their own heart.”

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