by Thomas Shepard
The knowledge of divinity is necessary for all sorts of men - both to settle and establish the good, and to convert and fetch in the bad. God's principles pull down Satan's false principles set up in man's head, loved and believed with men's hearts, and defended by their tongues. Whilst strongholds remain unshaken, the Lord Jesus is kept off from conquering of the soul.
Now, spiritual truths are either such as tend to enlarge the understanding, or such as may work chiefly upon the affections. I pass by (in this knowing age) the first of these, and, being among a people whose hearts are hard enough, I begin with the latter sort; for the understanding, although it may literally, yet it never savingly, entertains any truth, until the affections be herewith smitten and wrought upon.
I shall, therefore, here prosecute the unfolding of these divine principles: -
First, that there is one most glorious God.
Secondly, that this God made all mankind at first in Adam in a most glorious estate.
Thirdly, that all mankind is now fallen from that estate into a bottomless gulf of sin and misery.
Fourthly, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only means of redemption of this estate.
Fifthly, that those that are saved out of this woeful estate by Christ are very few, and that these few are saved with much difficulty*.
Sixthly, that the greatest cause why so many die and perish in this estate is from themselves: either, -
1. By reason of their bloody ignorance, they know not their misery; or, -
2. By reason of their carnal security, they feel not, they groan not under their sin and misery.
3. By reason of their carnal confidence, they seek to help themselves out of their misery by their own duties, when they see or feel it; or, -
4. By reason of their false faith, whereby they catch hold upon, and trust unto, the merits of Christ too soon, when they see and feel they cannot help themselves.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
To the Christian Reader
There is a God, and this God is most glorious
Four grounds to prove there is a God
God most glorious in his essence
God most glorious in his attributes
Attributes of God stated and explained
God glorious in his person
God glorious in his works
God made all mankind at first in a most glorious and happy state, like unto himself
The image of God in man appeared in four particulars, in his understanding, in his affections, in his will, and in his life
Horrible nature of Adam's sin, and the occasion every man has to lament his fallen state
The subject speaks comfort to God's people
The subject reproves such as are ashamed of holiness
The subject reproves such as hate holiness
The subject reproves such as are contented with a certain measure of holiness
Three rules to get the image of God renewed
All mankind fallen by sin into a most woful and miserable condition
Man's misery by the fall, in regard to sin and its consequences
The best of actions of unrenewed men are sinful
Man's present misery in regard to the consequences of sin in seven particulars
Future misery in consequence of sin
A general judgment proved
How the judgment shall be
The wrath of God, what?
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only means of redemption and deliverance
How Christ redeemeth men shown in four particulars
Christ is offered to all
Four sorts of people that reject Christ
Rejecting Christ a dangerous sin in five respects
The danger of security
Those that are saved are few, and are saved with much difficulty
The small number of true believers in all places
A use of exhortation to all
Objections and pleas answered
Unregenerate men live in some known sin, and are never poor in spirit
Those that are saved, saved with difficulty
Four strait gates described
Nine easy ways to heaven, all which lead to hell
The cause of man's eternal ruin is from himself
The ways in which men ruin themselves --- by ignorance
Two sorts of people ignorant of their misery
False principles by which men are deceived
Seven distempers in the mind whereby men are deceived
Mistaking some light sorrow for sin for true repentance
Mistaking compunctions of conscience for striving against sin
Mistaking the exercises of the heart
How false peace is bred in the soul
By Satan, in five ways
By false teachers
By a false spirit, five several ways
By a false application of the true promises
Corruptions and distempers of the will, the cause of self-deception, three ways
Carnal security is another reason of man's ruin
Reasons of this security seen in ten particulars
An exhortation to awake out of security
Instructions how to get a broken heart
Carnal confidence is another reason of man's ruin
Carnal confidence seen in their resting in duties shown in ten particulars
Why men rest in their duties, four reasons
Signs of a man's resting in his duties, six particulars
The insufficiency of all duties to save man
The end of our good duties
Presumption or false faith another way of man's ruin