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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 3)

Following is the next instalment from Thomas Shepard on False Convert Detected. Examine yourself.


1. Error in the Understanding.

(1). The mind being ignorant of the height and excellency of true grace, imagines within itself such a measure of common grace to be true grace, which the soul easily having attained unto, conceives it is in the estate of grace, and so deceives itself miserably, Rom.10:3. (By common grace is meant the possession of certain marks, such as are referred to in Heb. 6; Matt. 12:43; 2 Pet. 2:20, etc., which fall short of the true effects which always accompany regeneration). The mind comes to this position thus: The mind is haunted and pursued with troublesome fears of Hell, Conscience tells him he hath sinned, and the Law tells him he shall die, and Death appears and tells him he must shortly meet with him; and if he be taken away in his sins, then comes a black day of reckoning, where no creature can comfort him. Hence, he says, Lord, keep my soul from these miseries; he desires peace and ease, and to hear such sermons, and read such books, as may best satisfy him concerning the least measure of grace: for, sin only troubling him, grace only can comfort him soundly. And so grace, which is meat and drink to an holy heart, is but medicine to this kind of men, to ease them of their fears and troubles. Hereupon, being ignorant of the height of true grace, he fancies to himself such a measure of common grace to be true grace. As, if he feels himself ignorant of that which troubles him; so much knowledge will I then get, he says. If some soul sins in his practice trouble him, these he will cast away, and so reforms. If omission of good duties molests him, he will hear better, and pray oftener. And now he is quieted.

When he has attained unto this pitch of his own, he thinks himself a young beginner, and a good one too. And now if he be pressed to get into the estate of grace, his answer is, That is not to be done now, he thanks God; that care is past. The truth is, Beloved, 'tis too high for him; all his grace coming by his own working, not by God Almighty's power. For the Lord's sake take heed of this deceit. True grace (I tell you), is a rare pearl, a glorious sun clouded from the eyes of all but them that have it, Rev. 2:17, a strange, admirable, almighty work of God upon the soul, which no created power can produce; as far different, in the least measure of it, from the highest degree of common grace, as a Devil is from an Angel.

(2). In judging some trouble of mind, some light sorrows for sin, to be true repentance; and so thinking they do repent, hope they shall be saved. Nay, it may be they will fast, and humble, and afflict their souls voluntarily for sin, Isa. 58:3, and hereupon when they hear that all that sin shall die, they grant this is true indeed, except a man repent; and so they think they have done already. This is true, at what time soever a sinner repents, the Lord will blot out his iniquity: but this repentance is not when a man is troubled somewhat in mind for sin, but when he comes to mourn for sin as his greatest evil; and that not for some sins, but all sins, little and great; and that not for a time but always, like a spring, never dry, but ever running all a man's life time.

(3). In judging the striving of conscience against sin to be the striving of the flesh against the spirit, and hence they think being thus compounded of flesh and spirit, they are regenerate, and in no worse estate than the children of God themselves. So many among us know they should be better, and strive that they may grow better, but through the power of sin cannot; conscience tells them they must not sin, their hearts and lusts say they must sin; and here forsooth is flesh and spirit. Oh no, here is conscience and lust only together; which striving Herod, Balaam, Pilate, or the vilest reprobate in the world may have. Know therefore that the Striving of the spirit against the flesh is against sin because it is sin; but the striving of thy conscience against sin, is only against sin because it is a troubling or a damning sin."

Another instalment in a couple of days.

Sam Drucker

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