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Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (1909; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2019), 28–29:


When we have our attention fixed upon the richness of the grace which God has given in His special revelation, we sometimes become so enamored of it that the general revelation loses its whole significance and worth for us.

And when, at another time, we reflect on the good, and true, and beautiful that is to be found by virtue of God’s general revelation in nature and in the human world, then it can happen that the special grace, manifested to us in the person and work of Christ, loses its glory and appeal for the eye of our soul.

This danger, to stray off either to the right or to the left, has always existed in the Christian church, and, each in turn, the general and the special revelation have been ignored or denied. . . .

We must be on guard against both of these one-sidednesses; and we shall be best advised if, in the light of Holy Scripture, we take a look at the history of mankind and let it teach us what people owe to general revelation. It will then become apparent to us that although, in the light of this revelation, men have in some directions achieved a great deal, their knowledge and ability in other ways have been limited by unavoidable boundaries.

When the first man and woman have transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, their punishment does not follow immediately nor in full force. They do not die on the self-same day they have sinned, but remain alive; they are not sent into hell, but instead find themselves entrusted with a task on earth; their line does not perish: they receive the promise of the seed of the woman. In short, a condition now sets in which God had known and which God had established, but which man had not been able to anticipate.

It is a condition which has a very special character. It is one in which wrath and grace, punishment and blessing, judgment and long-suffering are mingled with each other. It is the condition which still exists in nature and among men and one which comprehends the sharpest of contrasts within itself.

We live in a strange world, a world which presents us with tremendous contrasts.

The high and the low, the great and the small, the sublime and the ridiculous, the beautiful and the ugly, the tragic and the comic, the good and the evil, the truth and the lie, these all are heaped up in unfathomable interrelationship.

The gravity and the vanity of life seize on us in turn.

Now we are prompted to optimism, then to pessimism.

Man weeping is constantly giving way to man laughing.

The whole world stands in the sign of humor, which has been well described as a laugh in a tear.

The deepest cause of this present state of the world is this: because of the sin of man, God is continually manifesting His wrath and yet, by reason of His own good pleasure, is always again revealing His grace also. We are consumed by His anger and yet in the morning we are satisfied by His mercy (Ps. 90:7, 14). His anger endures but a moment, in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:6). Curse and blessing are so singularly interdependent that the one sometimes seems to become the other. Work in the sweat of the brow is curse and blessing at once. Both point to the cross which at one and the same time is the highest judgment and the richest grace. And that is why the cross is the mid-point of history and the reconciliation of all antitheses.

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