The Life of God in the Soul of Man
by Henry Scougal
This book was written in the mid 17th century by a young man who was a Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University by the age of 19, then pastored a church for several years before dying at the age of 27.
So why did I choose this book to read and review this week as I am intentionally trying to renew my mind? This is what John Piper says of this book: “There are some books whose vision is so deep and clear that truth rings from the page like the toll of a large bell, perfectly obvious, but rare and precious. They unfold the heart of man and God with such forceful illumination that the truth is not just shown to my mind but created in my heart…so it went as I grazed in the green pasture of this remarkable book.”
Personally, I did not find the book very easy to read as Scougal wrote in the language of his day. But as I marched through the pages of this short book (135 pages) I found several nuggets of truth that were worth the time to find and which challenged my heart while engaging my mind. If nothing else, I read the words of a man who was passionate about his desire for God and rigorous in his pursuit to know Him. Here are some of the nuggets I found – I will quote them without comment – as they speak for themselves. You will need to ponder them to fully understand them.
“Humility imports a deep sense of our own meanness, with a hearty and affectionate acknowledgment of our owing all that we are to the Divine bounty; which is always accompanied with a profound submission to the will of God, and great deadness toward the glory of the world, and applause of men.”
“The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.”
“Any person that is engaged in a passionate affection will easily forget his ordinary gratifications, will be little curious about his diet or bodily ease, or to divertisement he was wonted to delight in. No wonder, then, if souls overpowered by divine love despise inferior pleasures, and be almost ready to grudge the body its necessary attendance for the common accommodations of life, judging all these impertinent to their main happiness, and those higher enjoyments they are pursuing.”
“Let us frequently remember the shortness and uncertainty of our lives, and how that after we have taken a few turns more in the world, and conversed a little longer amongst men, we must all go down into the dark and silent grave, and carry nothing along with us but anguish and regret for all our sinful enjoyments; and then think what horror must needs fill our soul, to find itself naked and all alone before the severe and impartial Judge of the world, to render an exact account, not only of its more important and considerable transactions, but of every word that the tongue hath uttered, and the swiftest and most secret thought that ever passed through the mind.”
“The soul of man is a vigorous and active nature, and hath in it a raging and inextinguishable thirst, an immaterial kind of fire, always catching at some object or other, in conjunction wherewith it thinks to be happy; and were it once rent from the world, and all the bewitching enjoyments under the sun, it would quickly search after some higher and more excellent object, to satisfy its ardent and importunate cravings; and being no longer dazzled with glittering vanities, would fix on that supreme and all-sufficient Good, where it would discover such beauty and sweetness as would charm and overpower all its affections.”
Next Weeks Passage: Philippians: 3:7-11
Next Weeks Memory Verse: Philippians 3:7-8a “ But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”