Parable of the Ten Virgins
by Thomas Shepard

Part I, Chapter IV, Section 4

The heart must be divorced from lusts after, and pleasures in, any creature. For proof, we must know this:

1. The soul of every man must have something to quiet and comfort it, like the stomach. It is death and hell to want it, (as the Israelites in the wilderness;) hence it must have it.

2. There is nothing that can comfort the thirsty heart; but it is either in the spring or cistern, fountain or bottles either in God or in the creature.

3. Hence man, having lost God and all good there, seeks for it in the creature; and because he finds not enough in one, digs for it in another. Ps. iv., "Who will show us any good?" And hence the soul, because it never found that infinite sweetness in God himself, lusts after and delights in the creature for itself, loves pleasure for pleasure, delights in the creature for the creature, not for God. Why should he, seeing he never found content there? And here the soul of man cleaves night and day, committing spiritual whoredom before the face of God. Now, if ever any soul has communion with Christ, it must be divorced from all creatures thus; for lust is a desire after, and content in, the creature for the creature's sake.

Reason 1. Because, while the heart is in league with any creature besides the Lord, it is at deadly enmity with the Lord. James iv. 4. If a man hath commodity, and one comes and offers half the worth of it, he takes it as contempt; if it be not worth this, it is worth nothing. So the Lord is worthy of all our love, our lives, our souls, (though we had a thousand of them;) and will a man not part with his lusts for him? I tell you, the Lord takes himself slighted, contemned, and loathed; if not worth all a man's love, he is worth nothing. Now, the creature is made a god, because made a man's last end, which is as proper to God as to make him the Alpha of all. Here the greatest wrath is to give a man his fill of the creature.

Reason 2. Because so long the soul can not see nor come by the eye and feet of faith to the Lord Jesus, (John v. 44,) and think Christ better than all; as birds in a string may fly high, buy when they come to the end of the line they fall down there; and so, though the soul flies to Christ, yet when, indeed, it comes to the end of parting with all, it falls down and falls off from Christ. Whole men have no heart nor desire after physicians; when al limbs are whole and strong, no desire after plasters; so, while any thing eases and content the heart, there is no desire after Christ. Hos. iv.11, "Whoredom and wine have taken away the heart.

Reason 3. Because so long the heart, if it do come, can not stay with Christ to do any thing for Christ. Matt. vi. 24, "You can not serve God and riches," i.e., two masters, who have constant employment; and Christ hath set us such employment. Hence men on sick beds are tame as may be promise any thing, because their joy in the creature is gone. Hence, on the other side, many men, after many springings of heart, are choked by thorns of the world.

Reason 4. From the abundant love that the Lord Jesus shows to them that ever have, or look for, communion with him. Those to whom we show much love, from those we expect much again. As a man if taken or cast out to be servant, one looks not for love from him; but when a man hath given himself and made over all his estate to another, now all love is too little. So it is with the Lord Jesus. John vi., "Will you also depart?"

E-mail: Sean Richardson