General Revelation

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

Rom. 1:20

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

Ps. 19:1

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Order of Contents

Devotional
Articles
Books
On the Call of God through General Revelation

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Devotional

Myers, Andrew – He Made the Stars Also  a collection of photography and poetic quotes about the stars

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Articles

Bavinck, Herman – On General Revelation  from his Reformed Dogmatics, 1:321-322

Cunningham, William

Insufficiency of Natural Theology  1878  9 pp.  from his Theological Lectures 

Natural Theology, the basis of the Evidences of Christianity  1878  14 pp. being chapter 10 of his Theological Lectures

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Books

Junius, Francis – A Treatise on True Theology  †1602  

Wallace Marshall – Puritans and Natural Theology  Buy  2012  205 pp.  being his PhD dissertation for Boston College

This excellent work surveys the natural theology of the puritans, including their views on general revelation.  The work can only be found through libraries or for a fee for printing the dissertation ($38-72), though Wallace is looking for a publisher to make it easily available.  See the three paragraph abstract of it here.

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On the Call of God through General Revelation

Quotes

A Summary of the Reformed Orthodox

Richard Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, p. 329

“vocatio, ‘calling‘

specifically, the call of God to be his children, which occurs by the grace of the Holy Spirit, both generally in the government of the world and the manifestation of divine benevolentia [goodwill] (q.v.) toward all creatures, and specially in and through the proclamation of the Word.

Both Lutheran and Reformed scholastics make this distinction between the vocatio generalis [general calling], or universalis [universal], and the vocatio specialis [a special calling], or evangelica [evangelical/gospel].  General or universal calling is sometimes termed vocatio realis, or real calling, because it occurs in and through the things ([in Latin:] res) of the world, whereas special, or evangelical, calling is sometimes termed a vocatio verbalis [verbal calling], since it comes only through the Word (Verbum).”

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Synopsis of a Purer Theology  (1625; Brill, 2016), vol. 2, Andreas Polyander, Disputation 30, ‘On the Calling of People to Salvation’, p. 209

“2. We should make a distinction between this special calling of men to Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the world and the universal calling of them to God its Creator.

3. By the universal calling each and every human being is summoned, by means of patterns occurring generally in the natural world, that he should know and worship God the Creator (Acts 17:27; Rom. 1:20).  For this reason it may be named ‘the natural calling.’

4. As for the generally occurring patterns of nature, they are partly internal–recorded on the hearts of all people–and partly external, engraved by God in the created things…

6. The knowledge of God that comes by the first calling is theoretical rather than practical…

7. Hence those of this world who are wise, even though they have been summoned to search for God by fumbling about for Him (so to speak) with the aid of the first kind of calling, in their stubbornness of heart they in unrighteousness suppress the truth that their minds had received (Rom. 1:18)…

9. And so those people err who make not only the Gospel-call but also the natural calling into an entrance-way to salvation…  no-one comes to it [salvation] with the aid of the natural calling (Jn. 14:6 and 17:3).”

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Cornelius Burgess

Spiritual Refining (1652), Section 12, Sermon 100, Holding forth the Nature of Vocation, or Divine Calling, p. 587

In the second place, the call of God consists in those things that are less principal, and such, as without the former [internal calling], would do no good; but when join­ed with it, is very subservient and instrumental.  And here we may speak of three tongues calling aloud to us, two without us, and one within us; which I call external, though within us, because of itself it does not internally change the heart of a man.

And the first less principal, is the whole creation: all the creatures are like so many tongues, as they declare the glory, power and wisdom of God.

As for that dangerous opinion that makes God’s calling of man to repentance

(Margin Note: The voice of the creatures of itself, not sufficient to call men to re­pentance.) 

by the creatures to be enough and sufficient, we reject, as that which cuts at the very root of free grace: A voice, indeed, we grant they have, but yet they make like Paul’s trumpet, an uncertain sound; men cannot by them know the nature of God and his worship, and wherein our justification does consist: Therefore whereas [in] Ps. 19 the Psalmist had spoken of the sound of the hea­vens, and how they all declare the glory of God, he comes in the latter part to commend the Law of God, for that which has spiritual effects indeed; viz. To convert the soul, and to forewarn from sin: Thou cannot then look up to heaven or down to the earth, but there is some imperfect voice calling on thee to glorify that great and wonderful Creator who made all these things: But then,

Secondly, There are the judgments and chastisements of God upon men for sin; these have a louder and more distinct voice: Thus the prophet: Hear ye the rod, Micah 6:9.  The rod speaks: There are no judgments, either pub­lic or personal, but by them God calls aloud to thee to leave thy sins: Eve­ry blow-thou hast, every stroke thou feelest, say, Now God speaks, Oh let me hearken and hear what God would have me do.  Those Psalms that have this inscription, ‘Maschil’, or ‘To give Instruction’, do for the most part contain the chastisements and afflictions of God for sin: And so thou mayest say of every affliction, ‘This is an affliction to give instruction’; of every loss, ‘This is a loss to give instruction’.  Take heed then of that deaf ear, that when God smites thee once, twice, yea, many times, yet thou hearest nothing at all; as deaf men do not hear the most terrible thunderings that are.

Lastly, there is a voice that calls aloud, and that is the conscience God has planted in thee; for that is God’s lamp put into thy breast: All the bitings and accusings, and smitings that gives thee for thy sins, it’s no less than God calling thee by that; Indeed this is a natural call, and so reducible to God’s external calling, yet it is more peremptory, more quick and lively then either the creatures or afflictions are: Hearken then to the calls, to the voice that speaks in thy bosom; How often does that say, ‘O vile and beastly sinner, when wilt thou leave these lusts?  When wilt thou depart from these evil ways?  Is it not high time that thou wert changed from these noisome courses?’  Take heed of putting out this light, do not stop the mouth of it, for it will one day cry louder: That will be the gnawing worm, which will never dye.”

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