Willem Teellinck (1579–1629) on true godliness


“True godliness is a gift of God by which man is made willing and able to serve God. He no longer lives according to the lusts of the flesh, as the ungodly do, but according to the will of God, revealed to us in his Word. For this reason, the godly life, in which we give ourselves over to the service of God so that we live no longer for ourselves but for God, is called our reasonable service. That means we regulate our service to God according to the direction of the reasonable ‘milk’ of God’s Word, not according to our own notion or understanding (1 Peter 2:2).

They who sincerely render this reasonable service show in every respect how much they value, highly esteem, and treasure the Lord their God. Because these godly people (and they alone!) make the things of God their chief occupation in every way, they regulate and direct their whole conduct accordingly. They show thereby to the whole world that they subordinate all their own interests to the Word of the Lord and to his holy will, to his honor and to his service.”

– Willem Teellinck (1579–1629), The Path of True Godliness (Noord-Sterre, aawijzende de juiste richting van de ware godzalighed), p. 32

I appreciate how Teellinck here describes godliness as a gift of God. The emphasis here is on the indicative, not the imperative: to be godly is primarily a work of God in which He, through regeneration, makes us, as the Heidelberg Catechism so memorably puts it, “sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.” (Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 1)


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