Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Delusion of Pleasing Self

In listening to all the cries that the church must be relevant, new, cutting edge, abreast of all things modern to reach the current age, I wonder if those making such claims have bothered to look at the heart of man to see if it has changed in lo these many ages since the fall. From all the cries to contextualize you would think that somehow the heart has morphed, or been subjected to some evolutionary influence so that we must approach it differently than ever before. No, the heart has always been the same, wicked and desperately sick. Its main goal has always been to please itself at the expense of all else.

I ran across a poem by Charles Wesley written in the early 1700's that reveals the timeless self-absorption of the heart with all its vices. This poem is based upon I Timothy 5:6 "But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead, even while she lives."

How hapless is th'applauded virgin's lot,
Her God forgetting, by her God forgot!
Stranger to truth, unknowing to obey,
In error nurs'd and disciplin'd to stray;
Swoln with self-will, and principled with pride,
Sense all her good, and passion all her guide:
Pleasure its tide, and flatt'ry lends it breath,
And smoothly waft her to eternal death!
A goddess here she sees her vot'ries meet,
Crowd to her shrine, and tremble at her feet;
She hears their vows, believes their life and death
Hangs on the wrath and mercy of her breath;
Supreme in fancied state she reigns her hour,
And glories in her plenitude of power.
Herself the only object worth her care,
Since all the kneeling world was made for her.
For her creation all its stores displays;
The silkworm's labour, and the diamond's blaze;
Air, earth, and sea conspire to tempt her taste,
And ransack'd Nature furnishes the feast.
Life's gaudiest pride attracts her willing eyes,
And balls, and theatres, and courts arise:
Italian songsters pant her ear to please,
Bid the first cries of infant reason cease,
Save her from thought, and lull her soul to peace.
Deep sunk the imprison'd soul remains,
Nor knows its fall from God, nor feels its chains;
Unconscious still, sleeps on in error's night,
Nor strives to rise, nor struggles into light:
Heaven-born in vain, degen'rate cleaves to earth,
(No pangs experienc'd of the second birth)
She only fallen, yet unwaken'd found,
While all th'enthrall'd creation groans around!
Father, deliver us from ourselves!

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