Continuing on in J.I.Packer's book, "A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life." I loved this statement which is part of a summary on the Puritan teaching on conscience. "...Puritan ethical teaching took the form of a positive ideal of zealous and wise godliness, at which Christians must always be aiming even though they never fully reach it in this world; and unattained positive ideals are the death of the legalistic spirit, which can only flourish in an atmosphere of negative restriction where abstinence is regarded as the essence of virtue. In reality nothing less legalistic in spirit and content than the ethical teaching of the Puritans can well be imagined."
After 17 years within the homeschooling movement and many more within conservative Christian churches, the Puritan ethical teaching is a breath of fresh air. I am so grateful that they, who were so much more learned in Scriptures and more practiced in applying the Scriptures to every day life than we are, can give me a vision of living in charity. I have so often lived within the "atmosphere of negative restriction" and thought that either I had achieved a certain virtue by abstaining from all sorts of things, OR I was quick to judge someone else who was not abstaining that they were not quite holy enough.
We all have before us a "positive ideal of zealous and wise godliness" which we can never attain in this life. We are so busy with our "don't taste, don't touch" lists and our thermometer of godliness for ourselves and those around us. Perhaps instead, we should shed this idea of virtue, and train ourselves and our posterity to rigorous, delightful, strong minded, humble, charitable Christian living. The earth is our LORD's and thus it is ours too. "The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein." Psalm 24:1 "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled." Titus 1:15
---posted by Queen Lucy