Monday, June 14, 2010
RESTING IN DUTIES--THOMAS SHEPHARD
We think it is most evil in our 21st century, and so it is. Sin is more blatant, visible and available today. Yet in the 16th and 17th centuries there was sin. Read this and you will see they were not little sins.Since the fall, there has always been sin. The varieties are endless, the excuses are endless; yet it still takes the same sovereign Lord to preserve us and deliver us. Look at this from Thomas Shephard (1605-1649), American Puritan who emigrated from England. Not sure of the exact date, but the article containing this excerpt was written after his immigration to America. I did not put all the eleven degrees (you likely wouldn't have the time). But, if have the inclination, more of Shephard's writing are available online.
Resting in duties appears in these eleven degrees:
1. The soul of a poor sinner, if ignorantly bred and brought up, rests confidently in superstitious vanities. Ask a devout Papist how he hopes to be saved; he will answer, by his good works. But inquire, further, What are these good works? Why, for the most part, superstitious ones of their own inventions, (for the crow thinks her own bird fairest,) as whipping themselves, pilgrimage, fasting, mumbling over their Paternosters, bowing down to images and crosses.
2. Now, these being banished from the church and kingdom, then men stand upon their token profession of the true religion, although they be devils incarnate in their lives. Look up and down the kingdom; you shall see some roaring, drinking, dicing, carding, whoring, in taverns and blind alehouses; others belching out their oaths, their mouths ever casting out, like raging seas, filthy, frothy speeches; others, like Ismaels, scoffing at the best men; yet these are confident they shall be saved. Why, (say they,) they are no Papists; hang them, they will die for their religion, and rather burn than turn again, by the grace of God. Thus the Jews boasted they were Abraham’s seed; so our carnal people boast: Am not I a good Protestant? Am not I baptized? Do I not live in the church? And therefore, resting here, hope to be saved.
I remember a judge, when one pleaded once with him for his life, that he might not be hanged because he was a gentleman; he told him that therefore he should have the gallows made higher for him: so when you plead, I am a Christian and a good Protestant, (yet you wilt drink, and swear, and whore, neglect prayer, and break God’s Sabbath,) and therefore you hope to be saved; I tell you your condemnation shall be greater, and the plagues in hell the heavier.