Understanding Hard and Stony Hearts in the Work of Holy Security…

Taken and adapted from “The Christian’s Daily Walk, in Holy Security and Peace.” 
Written in 1659, by Henry Scudder.

Edited for thought and sense.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, 
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.    

–Proverbs 28:13-14 (ESV)

Many yet will say, that their hearts remain hard and stony…

…yes, they say, that they grow harder and harder; wherefore they think that the stony heart was never taken out of them, and that they remain unsanctified.

Know, that there are two sorts of hard hearts. 

One total and not felt, which will not be broken, nor brought unto remorse either by God’s threats, commandments, promises, judgments, or mercies; Zechariah 8:11; but obstinately stands out in a course of sin, being past feeling, Ephesians. 4:19. 

The second is, a hardness mixed with some softness, which is felt and bewailed; this is incident to God’s children: of this the church complains, saying unto God, Why hast thou hardened our hearts against thy fear? Isaiah. 63:17. Now when the heart feels its hardness, and complains of it, is grieved, and dislikes it, and would that it were tender like Josiah’s, 2 Chronicles. 34:27, so that it could melt at the hearing of the word; this is a sure proof that the heart is regenerate and not altogether hard, but has some measure of true softness; for it is by softness that hardness of heart is felt, witness your own experience; for before the hammer and fire of the word were applied to your hearts, you had no sense of it, and never complained thereof.

You must not call a heavy heart, a hard heart…

…you must not call a heart wherein is a sense of indisposition to good, a hard heart; except only in comparison of that softness, which is in it sometimes, and which it shall attain unto, when it shall be perfectly sanctified; in which respect it may be called hard. Whosoever has his will so wrought upon by the word, that it is bent to obey God’s will, if he knew how, and if he had power; this man, whatsoever hardness he feels, his heart is soft, not hard. The apostle had a heart held in, and clogged with the flesh, and the law of his members, that it made him to think himself wretched, because he could not be fully delivered from it; yet we know his heart was a sound heart, Romans 7:24.

Among those that are sanctified…

…there remains more hardness in the heart of some than in others; and what with the committing of gross sins, and cursory and slight doing of good duties, and through neglect of means to soften it, the same men’s hearts are harder at one time than at another, of which they have cause to complain, and for which they have cause to be humbled, and to use all means to soften it; but it is false and dangerous, hence to conclude that such are not in a state of grace because of such hardness in the heart; for as God’s most perfect children on earth know but in part, and believe but in part; so their hearts are softened but in part, 1 Corinthians 13:9.

Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Henry Scudder   (Died 1659?) was an English clergyman of presbyterian views, known as a devotional writer, and member of the Westminster Assembly

He was a graduate of Christ’s College, Cambridge, with an M.A. from 1606. He was minister at Drayton in Oxfordshire 1607-19, and in 1633 was presented by the king to the living of Collingbourne-Ducis, near Marlborough, Wiltshire. In June 1643 he was summoned to the Westminster Assembly of divines. When in June 1645 an order came from the House of Commons to pray for the forces, Scudder was one of the four preachers assigned to Aldgate. He was minister at the London church of St Mildred Poultry in 1645-6. On 6 April 1647 he reported on the some of the proofs of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and on 9 February 1648 his name was added to the Assembly’s committee for the scriptures.

Scudder preached before the House of Commons in October 1644, on a fast day, at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and his sermon was printed by request of the house. He died before the Restoration.

Scudder was author of a devotional work entitled The Christian’s Daily Walke in Holy Securitie and Peace. The sixth edition, issued in 1635, has an ‘Epistle to the Header,’ by John Davenport. The book as frequently reissued, The editions of 1690 and 1761 have commendations by John Owen and Richard Baxter. A fifteenth edition was issued in 1813. The edition of 1820, containing Davenport’s epistle and Owen and Baxter’s recommendations, has an introductory essay by Thomas Chalmers.

Source materials taken from the Dead Puritan Society.