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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 5)

Following is the next instalment of Thomas Shepard (1605 - 1649) on The False Convert Detected. Are you herein identified?

"II. Carnal Security, or False Peace.

Now this false peace is begot in the heart by these three means:-

(1). By Satan. Luke 11:21. 'When the strong man keepeth the Palace, his goods are in peace' : that is, when Satan armed with abundance of carnal reasonings possesses men's souls, they are at peace. As masters give their servants peace, even so the Devil. a. By removing those sins which trouble the conscience: for a man may live in a sin, and yet never be troubled for that sin; for sin against the light of conscience only troubles the conscience. Mark the plot of the Devil: he will not suffer a man to live in any sin gainst conscience, whereby he should be troubled; and so the poor deluded man himself goes up and down, not doubting but he shall be saved; why ? because their conscience (they thank God) is clear, and they know of no one sin they live in. b. By giving the soul liberty to recreate itself in any sinful course, wherein the eye of conscience may not be pricked and wounded. To be pent up all the day long in doing God's work, watching, praying, fighting against every sin, this is a burden, this is too strict; and because they cannot endure it, they think the Lord looks not for it at their hands. Now Satan gives men liberty to think thus; and this liberty begets peace, and this peace makes them think well of themselves, 2 Pet. 2 :19. There are many rotten professors in these days that walk loosely, and take too much liberty in their speeches, liberty in their thoughts, liberty in their desires, in their pastimes, and that sometimes under a pretence of Christian liberty. Oh, this liberty that the Devil gives, and the world takes, besots most men with a foolish opinion that all is well with them. c. By giving the soul cessation sometimes from the act of sin: hence they are hardly persuaded that they live in sin, because they cease sometimes from the act of sin. Oh! Satan will not always set I at his work. For if a man should never pray, never have good thoughts, never keep any Sabbath; if a man should always speak idly, and never a good word drop from him; a man's conscience would never be quiet, but shaking him up for what he does: but by giving him respite from sinning for a time, Satan frets stronger possession afterward, as Matt. 12:43. d. By giving the soul fair promises of heaven and eternal life, and fastening them upon the heart. Most men are confident their estate is good. Why ? Oh! Satan bewitches them: for as he told Eve by the serpent, she should not surely die; so he insinuates his persuasions to the soul.

(2). By False Teachers, partly by their loose examples, partly by their flattering doctrines, and their large charity, dawbing everyone up for honest and religious people ; and if they be but a little troubled, applying comfort presently, and so healing them that should be wounded. They say commonly, Thou hast sinned, but comfort thyself, despair not, Christ has suffered ; and thus skin over the wound, and let it fester within for want of cutting it deeper. I say therefore, because they want a faithful watchman to cry Fire, Fire, in that sleepy estate of sin and darkness, wherein they lie, therefore whole towns, parishes, generations of men are burnt up, and perish miserably. Lam. 2:14.

(3). By a False Spirit, this is a third cause that begets a false peace. As there is a true Spirit, that witnesses to our spirits that we are the sons of God, Rom. 8 :16, so there is a false spirit, just like the true one, witnessing that they are the sons of God, 1 John 4:1. We are bid to try the spirits: Now if these spirits were not like God's true Spirit what need trial ? What need one try whether dirt be gold, which are so unlike each other ? And this spirit I take to be set down, Matt. 24:23. Mark this comparison. First, the Spirit of God humbles the soul: so before men have the witness of the false spirit, they are mightily cast down and dejected in spirit; and hereupon they pray for ease, and purpose to lead new lives. Secondly, the Spirit of God in the Gospel reveals Jesus Christ and his willingness to save: so the false spirit discovers Christ's excellency, and willingness to receive him. It fares with this soul as with surveyors of lands, that take an exact compass of other men's grounds, of which they shall never enjoy a foot. So did Balaam, Num. 24:5, 9. This false spirit sheweth them the glory of heaven and God's people. Hereupon the soul comes to be affected, and to taste the goodness and sweetness of Jesus Christ, as those did, Heb. 6. The soul being comforted after it was wounded, now calls God my God, and Christ my sweet Saviour: and now it doubts not but it shall be saved, Hos. 8:2, 3, and yet remains a deluded miserable creature still. But here mark the difference between the witness of each spirit. The false spirit makes a man believe he is in the state of grace, and shall be saved, because he has tasted Christ, and so has been comforted, and that abundantly: But the true spirit persuades a man his estate is good and safe, because he has not only tasted but bought this Christ; as the wise merchant in the Gospel who not only found the pearl, but sells away all to buy it. So a child of God tasting a little of God, and a little of Christ, at his first conversion, although he tastes not all the sweetness that is in God, yet he forsakes all for God, for Christ, and so takes them lawfully as his own. Again, the false spirit having given a man comfort and peace, suffers a man to rest in that estate : but the true Spirit having made the soul taste the love of the Lord, stirs up the soul to do and work mightily for the Lord."

Two more short instalments to follow in coming days.

Sam Drucker

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