“The whole little world of man is so overflowed with a deluge of self.”
–Stephen Charnock, “On Practical Atheism,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 225.
“The wisdom of God doth wonderfully appear in redemption. His wisdom in creature ravisheth the eye and understanding. His wisdom in government doth no less affect a curious observer of the links and concatenation of the means.
But His wisdom in redemption mounts the mind to a greater astonishment. The works of creation are the footsteps of His wisdom; the work of redemption is the face of His wisdom.
In Christ, in the dispensation by Him, as well as His person, were ‘hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2:3). Some doles of wisdom were given out in creation, but the treasures of it opened in redemption, the highest degrees of it that ever God did exert in the world.
Christ is therefore called the ‘wisdom of God,’ as well as the ‘power of God’ (1 Cor. 1:24); and the gospel is called the ‘wisdom of God.’
Christ is the wisdom of God principally, and the gospel instrumentally, as it is the power of God instrumentally to subdue the heart to Himself. This is wrapped up in the appointing Christ as Redeemer, and opened to us in the revelation of it by the gospel.”
–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 1, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 552-553.
“Can anything more delightful enter into us, than that of the kind and gracious disposition of that God who first brought us out of the abyss of an unhappy nothing, and hath hitherto spread His wings over us?
Where can we meet with a nobler object than Divine goodness?
What nobler work can be practiced by us than to consider it?
What is more sensible in all the operations of His hands than His skill, as they are considered in themselves, and His goodness, as they are considered in relation to us?
It is strange that we should miss the thoughts of it.
It is strange that we should look upon this earth, and everything in it, and yet overlook that which it is most full of, namely, Divine goodness (Psalm 33:5).
It runs through the whole web of the world. All is framed and diversified by goodness. It is one entire single goodness, which appears in various garbs and dresses in every part of the creation.
Can we turn our eyes inward, and send our eyes outward, and see nothing of a Divinity in both that is worthy of our deepest and most serious thoughts?
Is there anything in the world we can behold, but we see His bounty, since nothing was made but is one way or other beneficial to us?”
–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1682/2000), 347.
“Study God in the creatures as well as in the Scriptures. The primary use of the creatures, is to acknowledge God in them.
They were made to be witnesses of Himself in His goodness, and heralds of His glory, which as the glory of God the Creator ‘shall endure forever’ (Psalm 104:31).
That whole psalm is a lecture of creation and providence. The world is a sacred temple. Man is introduced to contemplate it, and behold with praise the glory of God in the pieces of His art.
As grace doth not destroy nature, so the book of redemption blots not out that of creation. Had He not shown Himself in His creatures, He could never have shown Himself in His Christ. The order of things required it.
God must be read wherever He is legible. The creatures are one book, wherein He hath writ a part of the excellencey of His name, as many artists do in their works and watches.
God’s glory, like the filings of gold, is too precious to be lost wherever it drops. Nothing so vile and base in the world, but carries in it an instruction for man, and drives in further the notion of a God.
It’s as if He said of His cottage, ‘Enter here.’ God disdains not this place.
So the least creature speaks to man, as well as in the highest creature. Every shrub in the field, every fly in the air, every limb in a body: ‘Consider me, God disdains not to appear in me; He hath discovered in me His being and a part of His skill.’
The creatures manifest the being of God and part of His perfections.
We have indeed a more excellent way, a revelation setting Him forth in a more excellent manner, a firmer object of dependence, a brighter object of love, raising our hearts from self-confidence to a confidence in Him.
Though the appearance of God in the one be clearer than in the other, yet neither is to be neglected. The Scripture directs us to nature to view God.
It had been in vain else for the apostle to make use of natural arguments. Nature is not contrary to Scripture, nor Scripture to nature, unless we should think God contrary to Himself who is the Author of both.”
–Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1682/1853), 86.
“To a person of these studious habits it may easily be conceived what distress it must have occasioned to have his library swept away from him. In that dreadful misfortune which befell the metropolis in 1666, ever since known as ‘the fire of London,’ the whole of Charnock’s books were destroyed.
The amount of calamity involved in such an occurrence can be estimated aright only by those who know from experience the strength and sacredness of that endearment with which the real student regards those silent but instructive friends which he has drawn around him by slow degrees, with which he has cultivated a long and intimate acquaintance, which are ever at hand with their valuable assistance, counsel and consolation, when these are needed, which, unlike some less judicious companions, never intrude upon him against his will, and with whose very looks and positions, as they repose in their places around him, he has become so familiarized, that it is no difficult thing for him to call up their appearance when absent, or to go directly to them in the dark without the risk of a mistake.
Some may be disposed to smile at this love of books. But where is the scholar who will do so? Where is the man of letters who, for a single moment, would place the stately mansions and large estates of the ‘sons of earth’ in comparison with his own well-loaded shelves?
Where is the student who, on looking round upon the walls of his study, is not conscious of a satisfaction greater and better far than landed proprietor ever felt on surveying his fields and lawns—a satisfaction which almost unconsciously seeks vent in the exclamation, ‘My library! A dukedom large enough!’
Such, and such only, can judge what must have been Charnock’s feelings, when he found that his much cherished volumes had become a heap of smouldering ashes.
The sympathetic regret is only rendered the more intense, when it is thought that, in all probability, much valuable manuscript perished in the conflagration.”
–William Symington, as quoted in Stephen Charnock, “Life and Character of Charnock” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol.1 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 14.