Thursday, October 11, 2012

Perfecting One's Own Ruin

In the year 1692, Thomas Shepard, the Puritan, published a masterpiece of spiritual insights titled The Sincere Convert.  Midway through that book, Shepard proposes a scenario where the question is asked, "How [do] men plot and perfect their own ruin?".

He lists four answers to that question, the second of which is: "By reason of man's carnal security, putting the evil day from them, whereby they feel not their fearful thralldom, and so never groan to come out of the slavish bondage of sin and Satan."1

Many pages later, Shepard continues this train of thought concerning the second answer, maintaining the same Puritanical candidness:
God may absent Himself from men weeks, months, years, [and] men shed not one tear for it, because they never tasted the sweetness of his presence. It is strange to see men take more content in their cups and cards, pots and pipes, dogs and hawks, than in the fellowship of God and Christ, in word, in prayer, in meditation; which ordinances are burdens and prison unto them. What is the reason of it? Is there no more sweetness in the presence of God's smiling in Christ than in a filthy whore? Yes; but they know not the worth, sweetness, satisfying goodness of God.2 
[The] false spirit, having given a man comfort and peace, suffers a man to rest in that state; but the true Spirit, having made the soul taste the love of the Lord, stirreth up the soul to do and work mightily for the Lord. Now the soul crieth out, What shall I do for Christ, that hath done wonders for me? If every hair on my head were a tongue to speak of his goodness, it were too little. (Neh. vii. 10,) "The joy of the Lord is our strength." (Ps. li. 12,) "Uphold me with thy free spirit;" or, as the Chaldean paraphrase hath it, thy "kingly spirit;" the spirit of adoption in God's child is no underling, suffering men to lie down, and cry, My desires are no good, but flesh is frail.  No, it is a kingly spirit, that reigns where it liveth.3

There is something about Shepard's insights which makes me wonder why many Christians don't express a desire to have this 'kingly spirit'.  

Why are many Christians quick to acknowledge the sweetness and satisfying goodness of God (as Shepard does), but not in a manner which exemplifies a kingly spirit in themselves?

If Shepard is correct in his insights, might not the absence of a kingly spirit indicate that a slavish spirit of bondage to sin remains in one's life?

1.  Thomas Shepard, The Sincere Convert and The Sound Believer [Soli Deo Gloria: Morgan, PA; 1999; reprint of the 1692 edition] p. 68
2.  Ibid., p. 91
3.  Ibid., p. 87

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