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In our day, there is little to no distinguishing of the differing movements of the inner man. It is considered unparallelled virtue that you be “passionate” about something. And so all the movements within a man are baptized as good and even necessary in the Christian life. We are expected to worship with wreckless abandon for that worship to be authentic. The more the worship is unbridled and uncontrolled, the more sincere it is deemed in popular sentiment. This is absolutely contrary to the judgment of by-gone eras. Consider the commentary of such a scholar as Perry Miller on the approach of the Puritans to the inward affection of mankind toward religious matters:

It is also true that much of the preaching was given over to the inculcation of sobriety and self-control. . . . In New England occasional outbursts of enthusiasm, particularly the emotional excitement aroused by Anne Hutchinson, called forth still more ministerial counsels of moderation. Sermons demanded discretion and prudence: ‘Prudence doth not abate diligence, but guides it in its worke.” Thomas Hooker told his people that their souls should be under the spirit as the hand of a child learning to write is guided and controlled by the teacher. In a sentence that speaks volumes for the Puritan character he says, “I know there is wilde love and joy enough in the world, as there is wilde Thyme and other herbes, but we would have garden love and garden joy, of Gods owne planting.” Because the Puritan ideal was one of intensity but not of emotional abandon, and because religious passions were constantly threatening to get out of hand, much of Puritan preaching and the introspection recorded in Puritan diaries is necessarily ethical. (The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century [1939], 48)

Note what Miller says there, that Hooker’s comment “speaks volumes for the Puritan character.”

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