January 3, 2015

Several Insightful Similes by Thomas Shelton (1601–c.1650)

6. God Merciful by Nature.

A flint yields not fire but by force, but a spring sends forth water naturally. So God shows not forth wrath but as provoked  by sin: but he is merciful from his own nature.
Thomas Shelton, A Centurie of Similies (London: Printed by John Dawson, 1640), 4–5.
8. How to Instruct the Weak.

A bottle or vessel with a narrow mouth, liquor must be poured into it softly, or else more is spilled then filled. So those of weaker capacities must be taught by degrees, and not surcharged. 
Ibid., 5–6.
12. How to Use Outward Blessings.

A man that walks by a river, if he follow the River against the stream it will at length lead him to the spring from whence it issues, but if he go along with the stream it will bring him to the salt ocean. So he that well improves outward blessings, they will lead him to God the sweet fountain of them: but otherwise the abuse of them will bring him to the Mare mortuum of perdition. 
Ibid., 8.
14. Defect of Reason.

The sun by his light shows us all things that are beneath himself, but hides those that are above. So the light of natural reason shows us those things that are beneath, that are sensible, but hinders from those above that are supernatural. 
Ibid., 10.
19. Another [on Prosperity].

Prosperity, and abundance are like long garments to a man that walks, they will trip up his heels if he take not heed. 
Ibid., 12–13.
22. Why Good Mens Lives Are Prolonged.

The rivers of themselves would run the straightest and directest way to the sea, but God hath set mountains, and hills in the way, that by winding and going further about, they might the more enrich the earth. So a Christian having once tasted of God's love desires to be dissolved and to be with Christ; but God prolongs his life to do good to others. 
Ibid., 14.
33. Uncertainty of Riches.

A man seeing a flock of birds sitting on his ground, can make himself no promise of taking them: so though a man be possessed of riches, he may soon be deprived of them: for riches have wings, &c. [Eccles. 4.8] 
Ibid., 21.
34. Unprofitable Knowledge.

The knowledge of every man but [except for] a Christian is like the knowledge of a beggar, who knows the road from place to place, but hath no settled home of his own.
Ibid., 21. 
42. How to Understand Scriptures.

As in tuning of a Lute, or other instrument, the striking upon one or two strings help to tune the rest: so comparing one scripture with another is a help to understand them.
Ibid., 26. 
55. Faith and Love.

As in making of a circle, one point of the compass is fixed in the middle, the other is moved about to make the circle. Faith is as the one point of the compass that is fixed on Christ; and love the other point that goes about and does the work.
Ibid., 34–35.
86. How to Regard Our Own Prayers.

Children shoot arrows on purpose to lose them and never look after them, but men when they shoot go after their arrows to see how near the mark they light. So wicked men when they have made their prayers have no more regard of them; but God's children look after their prayers and observe how God answers.
Ibid., 53. 
98. Difference of Knowledge in God and in Man.

In a sheet almanac, a man at one view may see all the months in the year, both past, and to come; but in a book almanac, as he turns to one so he turns from another, and can look but on the present. So the knowledge of God at one instant looks to things, past, present and future; but the knowledge of man one-to a few things, past, and present, and that successively.
Ibid., 60–61. 
100. Reward of Atheism.

In the summer a man cannot see his own breath, which in winter, he can easily discern; So he that will not in the summer of this life believe that there is a God shall feel it to his eternal torment in the winter of hell.
Ibid., 62.


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