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Thomas Brooks on the Soul of Man

Oh, the soul of man is more worth than a thousand worlds! It is the greatest abasing of it that can be—to let it dote upon a little shining earth, upon a little painted beauty and fading glory—when it is capable of union with Christ, of communion with God, and of enjoying the eternal vision of God.”

There is a prevailing assumption that focusing on God’s glory, value and worth too much will lead to a careless and unloving attitude towards humanity. The Puritan Thomas Brooks would have begged to differ. The above quote is taken from his book “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices”, wherein he is unpacking ways for a person to battle the enticements of worshiping the things of the world, rather than the Creator God. One of the devices that Brooks puts forth to battle this temptation is to consider the dignity of the human soul.

From this excerpt we can see that it is actually in understanding the infinite value and worth of God (though imperfectly) that one can then understand the value of the human soul. The human being was created to commune with the living God. Man has been created with the capacity to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And yet, we have made what John Piper calls the “dark exchange”. We have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:23) This is part of what it means to have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We have chosen to worship and serve, to value and cherish things of little significance, over and above the Creator of the Universe; or as Brooks put it - “to dote upon a little shining earth, upon a little painted beauty and fading glory.”

Can you see how the value and worth of man is directly connected to man’s given capacity and responsibility to worship and enjoy God? Your dog was not created with such capacity. Your neighbour was. Here in lies great incentive to not only be fighting this sin in our own lives, but also to be telling others about Christ.

Can you also see the horrific sinfulness of sin in all of this? To find an apt illustration, one searches in vain. C.S. Lewis once had a crack at it while comparing us to children who would rather play in a mud puddle than go on a vacation to the ocean. This is helpful, but like any illustration, fails to fully appreciate the infinite worth of the living God and the crime of cosmic proportions that it is to reject this God.

Thank God for the God-man, Jesus Christ. He perfectly worshiped God and enjoyed Him while on this earth. He also displayed such a loving concern for the human soul because he knew what we have been created for and he knew the gravity and consequence of our sin. This caused him to speak so clearly to people regarding the sinfulness of sin, regarding the way to be reconciled to God, and regarding the just judgement that is coming upon this world. And after all that he was hung up on a cross and crucified in the place of sinners who have trampled on the glory of God and chosen rather to dote upon painted beauty and fading glory. After all this he was raised from the dead to brand new, endless life - making the way for any who would turn to him in repentance and faith, to be able to then worship and enjoy God forever.

This is the hope to which we have been called- we are united to Christ, we have communion with God, and from now to eternity we will enjoy the eternal vision of God!