Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692) on Soli Deo Gloria


Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692) was an eminent French Reformed (Huguenot) pastor who, as a result of the persecution of Protestants following the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, was forced to flee to the Netherlands together with thousands of other Huguenots. He settled in Rotterdam, and preached there to his fellow French exiles, spending the rest of his life in the Dutch port city. During his exile in Rotterdam he preached a series on Ephesians which was subsequently printed under the title Sermons sur l’Épître de St. Paul aux Éphésiens, part of which was later translated into English. Below is an excerpt from his sermon on Eph. 1:4:

“‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake,’ was a prayer, my brethren, of the church of Israel, which you will find recorded in the beginning of the cxv. Psalm. Now, what they uttered in the way of worship, may be adopted by us as a form of confession of faith, for not unto us, but unto God, belongs all the glory of our salvation, which flows entirely from his mercy and grace. Nothing is due to us; all comes from on high, from the Father of lights, who is the author of all good. ‘O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help found,’ said God by his prophet, that all might learn, from the example of Israel, that our good comes entirely from the Lord. We are in darkness, from God comes our light; we are depraved, from God we get holiness; we are weak, from God we have strength; we are dead, of God we receive life; we are under eternal wrath and curse, God bestows blessing and salvation. We ought, then, to give him all the praise, and attribute nothing to man. Moses took the mirrors which devout women presented as an offering at the door of the tabernacle, and having broken them, he formed them into a sacred vessel to the Lord; and that burnished brass, which had served to reflect the lovely faces of the daughters of Israel, and which had often tempted them to forget God in admiring themselves, became a laver by which might be displayed the beauties and the charms of the face of Jehovah. So, in like manner, ought we to break in pieces everything which exalts only ourselves. Our religion and its services were never intended for this purpose, and if we ever mix up with them, feelings and sentiments, which have this tendency, they cannot too soon or too completely be destroyed. Our high and exalted privileges were never given us that we might admire ourselves for our good works, or make a display of them before our fellow men, or acquire fame, or gain aggrandizement by any moral worth which we may be supposed to possess; but rather on the contrary, that we may learn to sacrifice our love and high opinions of ourselves to God and his glory, and in any good that we may have attained to, see only him. It is very true that the gospel is a mirror, but in it you can see nothing but the worth of the Saviour. ‘We behold,’ says St. Paul, ‘as in a glass the glory of the Lord,’ not that of a man to admire our own merits, but that of God and his Son Jesus Christ, who is ‘the brightness of his glory,’ to admire and celebrate their goodness and their love. This is the only view given by the Christian revelation; and if, under its guidance, we ever see any good in ourselves, instead of teaching us to applaud and to glory in ourselves, it leads us directly to an humble acknowledgment of God’s favour, and to cry, ‘it is not us, but the grace of God which is in us’.”

– Pierre du Bosc (1623-1692), Protestantism, Being a Series of Discourses on a Portion of the Epistle to the Ephesians (part of Sermons sur l’Épître de St. Paul aux Éphésiens), p. 159-162