“The worth an excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” -Scougal.
I’m reading this absolutely fantastic book that a friend lent me a while ago that I haven’t had time to touch until this ironic blessing of a break this semester has been. Of course, always driven, goal-oriented-go-go-go me never intended to take this break, but the registration situation with school deemed it.
I’ve been plowing through literature, learning to sight-read music, touching on the basics of learning a third language, taking an semi-easy but sometimes hard medical terminology class for fun to stay enrolled, I’ve been writing more, started a new and very rewarding job, and it’s been fantastic. Although I have enjoyed many novels during this semester break, my favorite kind of book is the very book which, John Piper, the author of the current book I’m reading, describes in the following quote (did you follow that? LOL):
“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.
I read again that ‘the soul of man…hath in it a raging and inextinguishable thirst…’
And there was thirst!
I read, ‘Never doth a soul know what solid joy and substantial pleasure is till, once being very weary of itself, it renounces all property [and] gives itself up to the Author of its being.’
And there was in me an immense longing to give myself up to God, for the quenching of this ‘raging thirst.’
So it went as I grazed in the green pasture of this remarkable book.” -John Piper
I know the very type of book John Piper is talking about…and in this book that my friend lent me, entitled, The Pleasures of God, the opening pages that Piper pens are so profound and have a similar effect to the very one he describes, so much so that every several paragraphs I have to stop, look back, and think so that I don’t miss out on the richness and value of his thoughts and ponderings (and I haven’t even reached the main text of the book yet!).
I’ll share with you a passage I particularly enjoyed. The passage opens with this sentence:
“‘The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.'” -Scougal
Then, it continues under the heading, “Beholding as a way of Becoming.”
“In the context of this key sentence (the one above), Scougal is referring to the human soul. But what occurred to me as I meditated on these words was the question: If this is true for man, may it not be also true for God? Is it not also the case that the worth and excellency of God’s soul is to be measured by the object of his love?
How else do we assess he beauty of an invisible heart than by what it loves? Someone might suggest, ‘By what it thinks.’ But clear and accurate thought is beautiful only in the service of right affections. The devil himself is quite an able intellect. But he loves all the wrong things. Therefore his thinking serves evil and his soul is squalid.
Or perhaps somebody would suggest that we can assess the beauty of a soul by what it wills. Yes, but there is half-hearted willing and whole-hearted willing. You don’t judge the glory of a soul by what it wills to do with lukewarm interest, or with mere teeth-gritting determination. To know a soul’s proportions you need to know its passions. The true dimensions of a soul are seen in its delights. Not what we dutifully will but what we passionately want reveals our excellence or evil.
The soul is measured by its flights,
Some low and other high,
The heart is known by its delights,
And pleasures never lie.”
The passage of course goes on as it continues to its completion of the introduction of why he wrote the book, but I found the above comments very interesting, about how our passions, our desires, our loves reflect the very heart of who we are. Where do my passions lie, I then wonder? And, once I have answered this question, I ask myself “Are my passions placed properly?” If the answer is no, then this is a merely a symptom of a greater issue. So I start at the beginning, “What are my passions?” It gives me good food for thought. I thought I’d pass it along for any of you introspective thinkers out there.