The Life of God in the Soul of Man, by Henry Scougal (b. 1650) Classic Quotes

The Life of God in the Soul of Man, by Henry Scougal (Christian Heritage Publications, 1996)

Henry Scougal, Scottish theologian, minister, and author, 1650-1678

John Piper writes, “This timeless classic was originally written to encourage a friend and stimulate his spiritual life. It was so appreciated that it was later published as a book for a wider readership. A hundred years later a copy was sent to George Whitefield by his friend, Charles Wesley – it was instrumental in Whitefield’s conversion. This book provided much of the stimulation behind the Methodist Revival of Britain and the Great Awakening in America.”(Quote from MonergismBooks.com)

NOTE: Quotes in Bold Italics are statements which particularly impressed, inspired or convicted the editor (me).

A brief notice of the life of Rev Henry Scougal

The Rev Henry Scougal was the second son of the Rev Patrick Scougal and Margaret Wemys.  His father was Bishop of Aberdeen for more than twenty years after the Restoration. (29) Accordingly, the son, who was of a most sweet and serene temper, employed those leisure-hours, which are generally spent by children in play, in reading, meditation and prayer. (page 30)  … at fifteen years of age, he entered the University of Aberdeen. (31) …at the age of 26 . . . he was brilliant and precocious (he served as Professor of Philosophy in Aberdeen University for four years, from the age of 19);

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“He used not the least harsh expression, either to those who waited upon him, or concerning the present Providence.”
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granted, he was the son of a bishop, and a godly one, and had had every spiritual advantage in his upbringing plus, as it seems, a heart responsive to God from his earliest days . . . (9)… he became the victim of consumption, which put and end to his life on the 13th June 1678, before he had completed his twenty-eighth year.  The time of his sickness was as cheerfully spent in suffering the will of God as the time of his health in doing it. ‘He used not the least harsh expression, either to those who waited upon him, or concerning the present Providence.’  He was wrapped in admiration of God’s goodness to him, and perfectly submissive to his will.  (38)

Introduction – J.I. Packer

Henry Scougal’s exposition of true religion’ . . . genuine Christianity. (page 7)

I once heard a Christian testify, ‘I knew I was converted when religion stopped being a duty and became a delight.’(8)

“…true religion is a union of the soul with God, …’it is Christ formed within us.’”

During the century that followed the Reformation conflicts, English Puritans like Perkins, Owen and Baxter, Anglicans of the ‘holy living’ school like Jeremy Taylor, Lutheran pietists like Johannes Arndt, and Roman Catholic teachers like Ignatius Loyola, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, had all centred attention on the realities of the Christian’s inner life, to such an extent that scholars can nowadays speak of the seventeenth-century devotional revival. (8)

‘Christians,’ declares Scougal, ‘know by experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle’s phrase, “it is Christ formed within us”.’ (9)

Scougal calls it ‘an inward free and self-moving principle … a new nature instructing and prompting’. (9)

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“…for he who doth truly love all the world … so far from wronging or injuring any person … will resent any evil that befalls others, as if it happened to himself.”
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Love, basically, is love of God: ‘a delightful and affectionate sense of the divine perfections, which makes the soul resign and sacrifice itself wholly unto him, desiring above all things to please him, and delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him, and being ready to do or suffer anything for his sake, or at his pleasure … A soul thus possessed with divine love must needs be enlarged towards all mankind … this is … charity … under which all parts of justice, all the duties we owe to our neighbour, are eminently comprehended; for he who doth truly love all the world … so far from wronging or injuring any person … will resent any evil that befalls others, as if it happened to himself.’ (10)

And humility means ‘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 to the glory of the world, and the applause of men.’ (11)

The Chapel at King’s College University of Aberdeen, where Scougal studied and taught

[J. I. Packer, speaking of Scougal’s writings] “One could wish, however, that his exposition had been more explicitly and emphatically Christ-centered.  Like so many seventeenth-century writers, he lets himself assume that his readers know all about Jesus and need only to be told about real religion.” (12)

Whitefield’s witness … “I know the place: it may be superstitious, perhaps, but whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to that place where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me, and gave me the new birth … “ (14).

Whitefield Quote – An Evangelistic Invitation: … “Sinners in Zion, baptized heathens, professors but not possessors, formalist, believing unbelievers, talking of Christ, talking of grace, orthodox in your creeds, but heterodox in your lives, turn ye, turn ye, Lord help you to turn to him, turn ye to Jesus Christ, and may God turn you inside out … may that glorious Father that raised Christ from the dead, raise your dead souls! … Bless the Lord that Jesus stands with pitying eyes, and outstretched arms, to receive you now. Will you go with the man? Will you accept of Christ? Will you begin to live now?  May God say, Amen; may God pass by, not in anger, but in love … and say to you dead sinners, come forth, live a life of faith on earth, live a life of vision in heaven; even so, Lord Jesus: Amen.‘ (16)

On Preaching

‘… preaching is an exercise of which many are ambitious, and none more so than those that are the least qualified for it; but it is not so easy a matter to perform this task aright.  To stand in the presence of God, and speak to his people in his name, with that

“…preaching is an exercise of which many are ambitious, and none more so than those that are the least qualified for it.”

seriousness, gravity and simplicity, that zeal and concern which the business requires; to accommodate ourselves to the capacity of the common people, without disgusting the more knowing ones; to awaken the drowsy souls, without terrifying tender consciences; to carry home the charge of sin, without the appearance of personal reflection; in a word, to approve ourselves unto God as workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ (34)

‘You see, sirs, to what a dreadful and important charge you aspire. Consider, I beseech you, what great pains are necessary to fit you for it.  It is not a knowledge of controversy, or the gift of eloquence; much less, a strong voice and bold confidence, that will prepare you for it. Your greatest work lies within, in purifying yourselves, and learning that wisdom which is necessary to win souls. Begin, I pray you, and preach to your passions, and try what good you can do to your friends and neighbors.  Be not forward in rushing into public; it is better to be drawn than to run.’ (34)

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“The people that commonly sit under the pulpit (as the excellent Herbert observes) are usually as hard and dead as the seats they sit on, and need a mountain of fire to kindle them.”
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‘Again, we are not to entertain our people with subtle questions, and metaphysical niceties, etc.  Let us study to acquaint them with the tenor of the Gospel-covenant, and what they must do to be saved; and teach them in their duties to God and men.  But it is not enough to speak these things, to tell men what their duty is; we must endeavor to stir them up by the most powerful and effectual persuasions.  The judgment being informed, we must move the affections and this is the proper use of our preaching.  “The people that commonly sit under the pulpit (as the excellent Herbert observes) are usually as hard and dead as the seats they sit on, and need a mountain of fire to kindle them.”  The best way to preach the things first to ourselves, and then frequently to recollect in whose presence we are, and whose business we are doing.’ (35)

Part I – The Occasion of this Discourse

It is true, this Divine life continueth not always in that same strength and vigour, but many times suffers sad decays, and holy men find greater difficulty in resisting temptations, and less alacrity in the performance of their duties; yet it is not quite extinguished, nor are they abandoned to the power of those corrupt affections, which sway and over-rule the rest of the world. (45)

This forced and artificial religion is commonly heavy and languid, like the motion of a weight forced upward: it is cold and spiritless, like the uneasy compliance of a wife married against her will … (48)

In a word, the difference betwixt a religious and a wicked man is, that in the one, Divine life bears sway, in the other, the animal life doth prevail. (50)

The root of the Divine life is faith: the chief branches are love to God, charity to man, purity and humility. (54)

The loveof God is a delightful and affectionate sense of the Divine perfections, which makes the soul resign and sacrifice itself wholly unto him, desiring above all things to

“The love of God is a…delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him…”

please him, and delighting in nothing so much as in fellowship and communion with him, and being ready to do or suffer any thing for his sake, or at his pleasure. (55)

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. (56)

Speaking on Jesus and Prayer – Another instance of his love to God was, his delight in conversing with him by prayer, which made him frequently retire himself from the world, and with the greatest devotion and pleasure spend the whole nights in that heavenly exercise, though he had no sins to confess and but few secular interests to pray for; which, alas! are almost the only things that are wont to drive us to our devotions: nay, we may say his whole life was a kind of prayer; a constant course of communion with God: if the sacrifice was not always offering, yet was the fire still kept alive: nor was ever the blessed Jesus surprised with that dullness, or tepidity of spirit, which we must many times wrestle with, before we can be fit for the exercise of devotion. (61)

Part II – The Excellency and Advantage of Religion

LOVE

Divine love … when once the soul is fixed on that supreme and all sufficient good, it finds so much perfections and goodness as doth not only answer and satisfy its affection, but master and overpower it too: it finds all its love to be too faint and languid for such a noble object, and is only sorry that is can command no more.  It wisheth for the flames of a seraph, and longs for the time when it shall be wholly melted and dissolved into love: and because it can do so little itself, it desires the assistance of the whole creation, that angels and men would concur with it in the admiration and love of those infinite perfections. (75) (Editor’s Note: Worship = Love; therefore, No Worship = No Love)

Perfect love is a kind of self-dereliction, a wandering out of ourselves; it is a kind of voluntary death, wherein the lover dies to himself, and all his own interests, not thinking of them, nor caring for them any more, and minding nothing but how he may please and gratify the party whom he loves: thus, he

Plaque to Henry Scougal at King’s College, Aberdeen

is quite undone, unless he meets with reciprocal affection; he neglects himself, and the other hath no regard to him; but if he be beloved, he is revived, as it were, and liveth in the soul and care of the person whom he loves; and now he begins to mind his own concerns, not so much because they are his, as because the beloved is pleased to own an interest in them: he becomes dear unto himself, because he is so unto the other. (76)

But oh! how happy are those who have placed their love on him who can never be absent from them!

What an infinite pleasure must it needs be, thus, as it were, to lose ourselves in him, and being swallowed up in the overcoming sense of his goodness, to offer ourselves a living sacrifice always ascending unto him in flames of love. (78)

The exercises of religion, which to others are insipid and tedious, do yield the highest pleasure and delight to souls possessed with divine love … (79)

The severities of a holy life, and that constant watch which we are obliged to keep over our hearts and ways, are very troublesome to those who are only ruled and acted by an external law, and have no law in their minds inclining them to the performance of their duty … (80)

He who loveth his neighbour as himself can never entertain any base or injurious thought, or be wanting in expressions of bounty; he had rather suffer a thousand wrongs than be guilty of one, and never accounts himself happy, but when some one or other hath been benefited by him … (81)

Old Aberdeen

Had I my choice of all things that may tend to my present felicity, I would pitch upon this – to have my heart possessed with the greatest kindness and affection towards all men in the world. (82)

They are not only his creatures, the workmanship of his hands, but such of whom he taketh special care, and for whom he hath a very dear and tender regard, having laid the designs of their happiness before the foundations of the world, and being willing to live and converse with them to all thew ages of eternity.  The meanest and most contemptible person whom we behold is the offspring of heaven, one of the children of the Most High; and however unworthy he might behave himself of that relation, so long as God hath not abdicated and disowned him by a final sentence, he will have us to embrace him with a sincere and cordial affection. (127)

PURITY

purity is accompanied with a great deal of pleasure: whatsoever defiles the soul disturbs it too: all impure delights have a sting in them, and leave smart and trouble behind them. (84)

HUMILITY

I know not what thoughts people may have of humility, but I see almost every person pretending to it … (85)

“It is impossible to express the great pleasure and delight which religious persons feel in the lowest prostration of their souls before God…”

… the proud and arrogant person is a trouble to all that converse with him, but most of all unto himself: every thing is enough to vex him; but scarce any thing sufficient to content and please him. (86)

It is impossible to express the great pleasure and delight which religious persons feel in the lowest prostration of their souls before God, when, having a deep sense of the divine majesty and glory, they sink, if I may so speak, to the bottom of their beings, and vanish and disappear in the presence of God, by a serious and affectionate acknowledgment of their own nothingness, and the shortness and imperfections of their attainments; when they understand the full sense and emphasis of the Psalmist’s exclamation, ‘Lord, what is man?’ and can utter it with the same affection. (87)

A Prayer – But, oh! when shall it be! Oh! when wilt thou come unto me and satisfy my soul with thy likeness, making me holy as thou art holy, even in all manner of conversation!

Part III – The Despondent Thoughts of Some Newly Awakened to a Right Sense of Things

‘In a word, when I reflect on my highest and most specious attainments, I have reason to suspect, that they are all but the effects of nature, the issues of self-love acting under several disguises; and this principle is so powerful, and so deeply rooted in me, that I can never hope to be delivered from the dominion of it.  I may toss and turn as a door on the hinges, but can never get clear off, or be quite unhinged of self, which is still the centre of all my motions …’ (92)

“Arise and work! The Lord be with you!”
– I Chronicles 22:16 (ESV)

Away then with all perplexing fears and desponding thoughts: to undertake vigorously, and rely confidently on the divine assistance, is more than half the conquest, ‘Let us arise and be doing, and the Lord will be with us’ (1 Chronicles 22:16). (97)

ON GOD’S JUDGMENT

Let us therefore accustom ourselves to consider seriously, what a fearful thing it must needs be to irritate and offend that infinite Being upon whom we depend every moment, who needs but to withdraw his mercies to make us miserable, or his assistance to make us nothing. (104)

“The love of the world, and the love of God, are like the scales of a balance, as the one falleth, the other doth rise.”

… think what horror must needs seize the guilty 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. (105)

Let us sometimes represent to (place before) ourselves the terrors of that dreadful day, when the foundation of the earth shall be shaken … when all the hidden things of darkness should be brought to light, and the counsels of the heart shall be made manifest (1 Cor 4:5): when those secret impurities and subtle frauds, whereof the world did never suspect us, shall be exposed and laid open to public view, and many thousand actions which we never dreamed to be sinful, or else had altogether forgotten, shall be charged home upon our consciences, with such evident convictions of guilt, that we shall neither be able to deny nor excuse them. Then shall all the angels in heaven, and all the saints that ever lived on the earth, approve that dreadful sentence which shall be passed on wicked men .. (105-106)

“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
– I Corinthians 4:5

The love of the world, and the love of God, are like the scales of a balance, as the one falleth, the other doth rise … (113)

“Let us be often lifting up our hearts toward God.”

Let us be often lifting up our hearts toward God; and if we do not say that we love him above all things, let us, at least, acknowledge that it is our duty, and would be our happiness, so to do: let us lament the dishonour done unto him by foolish and sinful men, and applaud the praises and adorations that are given him by that blessed and glorious company above: let us resign and yield ourselves up unto him a thousand times, to be governed by his laws, and disposed of at his pleasure: and, though our stubborn hearts should start back and refuse, yet let us tell him, we are convinced that his will is always just and good; and therefore to desire him to do with us whatsoever he pleaseth, whether we will or not. (117)

PRAYER AND MEDITATION

Let us often withdraw our thoughts from this earth, this scene of misery, and folly, and sin, and raise them toward that more vast and glorious world, whose innocent and blessed inhabitants solace themselves eternally in the divine presence, and know no other passion but an unmixed joy, and an unbounded love. (120)

“You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.”
– Lamentations 3:58 (ESV)

… and when we have framed unto ourselves the clearest notion that we can of a being, infinite in power, in wisdom, and goodness, the author and foundation of all perfection, let us fix the eyes of our soul upon it (Lamentations 3:58), that our eyes may affect our heart; and, while we are musing, the fire will burn (Psalm 39:3). (123)

 “My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue…”
– Psalm 39:3 (ESV)

Nothing is more powerful to engage our affection to find that we are beloved. (123-124)

“… yet sure we are conscious of [the thoughts of our hearts], and some serious reflections upon them would much qualify and allay the vanity of our spirits.”

That which makes any body esteem us, is their knowledge or apprehension of some little good, and their ignorance of a great deal of evil that may be in us; were they thoroughly acquainted with us, they would quickly change their opinion.  The thoughts that pass in our heart in the best and most serious day of our life, being exposed unto public view, would render us either hateful or ridiculous; and now, however we conceal our failings from one another; yet sure we are conscious of them ourselves, and some serious reflections upon them would much qualify and allay the vanity of our spirits.  Thus holy men have come really to think worse of themselves than any other person in the world: not but that they knew that gross and  scandalous vices are in their nature more heinous than the surprises of temptations and infirmity, but because they are much more intent on their own miscarriages, than on those of their neighbors, and did consider all the aggravations of the one, and everything that might be supposed to diminish and alleviate the other. (131-132)

THOUGHTS OF GOD GIVE US THE LOWEST THOUGHTS OF  OURSELVES

But it is well observed by a pious writer, that the deepest and most pure humility doth not so much arise from the consideration of our own faults and defects, as from a calm and quiet contemplation of the divine purity and goodness.  Our spots never appear so clearly as when we place them before this infinite Light … (132)

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