“The heart of man was created for God and it cannot find rest until it rests in his Father’s heart” by Herman Bavinck

“The heart of man was created for God and that it cannot find rest until it rests in his Father’s heart. Hence all men are really seeking after God, as Augustine also declared, but they do not all seek Him in the right way, nor at the right place.

They seek Him down below, and He is up above.

They seek Him on the earth, and He is in heaven.

They seek Him afar, and He is nearby.

They seek Him in money, in property, in fame, in power, and in passion.

And He is to be found in the high and the holy places, and with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit (Isa. 57:15).

But they do seek Him, if haply they might feel after Him and find Him (Acts 17:27).

They seek Him and at the same time they flee Him.

They have no interest in a knowledge of His ways, and yet they cannot do without Him. They feel themselves attracted to God and at the same time repelled by Him.

In this, as Pascal so profoundly pointed out, consists the greatness and the miserableness of man. He longs for truth and is false by nature.

He yearns for rest and throws himself from one diversion upon another. He pants for a permanent and eternal bliss and seizes on the pleasures of a moment.

He seeks for God and loses himself in the creature. He is a born son of the house and he feeds on the husks of the swine in a strange land.

He forsakes the fountain of living waters and hews out broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer. 2:13).

He is as a hungry man who dreams that he is eating, and when he awakes finds that his soul is empty; and he is like a thirsty man who dreams that he is drinking, and when he awakes finds that he is faint and that his soul has appetite (Isa. 29:8).

Science cannot explain this contradiction in man. It reckons only with his greatness and not with his misery, or only with his misery and not with his greatness.

It exalts him too high, or it depresses him too far, for science does not know of his Divine origin, nor of his profound fall.

But the Scriptures know of both, and they shed their light over man and over mankind; and the contradictions are reconciled, the mists are cleared, and the hidden things are revealed.

Man is an enigma whose solution can be found only in God.”

–Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith (trans. Henry Zylstra; Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 6–7.

1 thought on ““The heart of man was created for God and it cannot find rest until it rests in his Father’s heart” by Herman Bavinck

  1. JohnTJeffery – Retired military (USA 1970-1973; USARV 1971; PAARNG 1989-2010; OIF 2005-2006) Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel (Greentown, PA; 1996 to present)
    johntjeffery on said:

    Thank you very much for posting this great quote. I was presented with this book (1977 Baker reprint ed.) by my friends in a local church I was a member of at the time for my 31st birthday (1981). They all signed the inside of the cover. I have treasured it ever since. The concluding paragraphs the first chapter, “Man’s Highest Good,” that you have cited are on pp. 22-23 in that reprint.

    One of my criticisms of this publication was the lack of any indices (Scripture, subject, or author). I valued and studied this volume so much in spite of this that I began to do my own Scripture index. None of this is an issue now that it is available on Logos, but we were a long way from digital books in 1981! In some cases the translator/editor (Henry Zylstra) has inexplicably made the decision to move Scripture references from the text to footnotes, while others remain in the text. For comparison to the original Dutch edition of Magnalia Dei (Kampen: J. K. Kok, 1909) see Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/magnaliadeionder00bavi [accessed 16 JUL 2019]; and on Open Library at https://openlibrary.org/books/OL23365000M/Magnalia_Dei [accessed 16 JUL 2019].

    I remember the excitement when Banner of Truth’s reprint of William Hendriksen’s translation of Bavinck’s The Doctrine of God became available during my Senior year in Bible College in 1978. It had not been available in English translation since 1951. Now the entirety of his four volume magnum opus, Reformed Dogmatics, is readily available in English print and digital editions. For more on this great Dutch theologian and philosopher see https://hermanbavinck.org/ [accessed 16 JUL 2019].

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