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The Proper Use of Reason

March 11, 2020
By Martin Luther

So Jacob arose and set his sons and wives on camels. . .. Laban had gone to shear his sheep.

GENESIS 31:17, 19

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The Proper Use of Reason

It is to be observed carefully that Jacob does not tempt God but seizes an advantageous occasion to avoid the offenses which he could escape. For dangers are not to be invited but avoided. Although we have the Word of God on which we can and should safely rely, nevertheless, of itself it loads us with many great dangers, and so other unnecessary dangers are not to be invited. Nor should we snore in ease and smugness, but natural wisdom and industry should be used, and likewise human counsels and help, so that we do not seem to tempt God. . .. If, therefore, you have the Word, you do well when you obey it. But prepare yourself to use those things which are at hand, according to the Word. Thus Jacob has the command about leaving this land and returning to his fatherland. He also has the promise concerning God's protection, that he should not fear, however great the dangers would be and however varied the difficulties that would be thrown in his way. . . Nevertheless, he waits for an opportunity and a time when Laban is a three days' journey from home to shear his sheep.... So Jacob seized a very fine opportunity with singular prudence and wisdom. For so God has given us reason and all creatures and all our temporal blessings to serve our uses.

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