Devotional decline

“There is … a still more basic factor responsible for the decline of the practice [of covenanting] during the last hundred years or so, namely the general decay of experimental religion over that period. The theological downgrade can be traced easily enough; but hand-in-hand with the departure from orthodoxy went a devotional decline, a gradual lowering of spiritual standards even among the Lord’s people. More particularly, the solemn, serious, careful, responsible elements of the Christian faith have been increasingly at a premium, and the desire for superficial spiritual thrills, for the glossy and the gimmicky, has correspondingly increased. The friends of Vavasor Powell (1617-70) wrote that he ‘was a faithful and diligent observer of the outgoings of God upon his soul, whereof he kept a daily account and record, taking notice both of the actings of grace, and the stirrings of corruption, and the assaults of sin and Satan, or world made upon him.’ In this day and age, such records—diaries, spiritual autobiographies, personal confessions of faith, covenants—are conspicuous by their absence” (Covenanting with God, pp. 33-34).


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