The Christian in Complete Armour… The Call to Steadfastness, Part 6.

Written by William Gurnall (1617 – 1679)

Now, Christian, if thou meanest thus courageously to bear up against all opposition, in the march to heaven…

New_Arne_Cover…as thou shouldst do well to raise thy spirit with such generous and soul-ennobling thoughts, so in an especial manner look thy principles be well fixed, or else thy heart will be unstable, and an unstable heart is weak as water, it cannot excel in courage.

Two things are required to fix our principles.

First. An established judgement in this truth of God. He that knows not well what or whom he fights for [may] soon be persuaded to change his side, or at least stand neuter. Such may be found that go for professors, that can hardly give an account what they hope for, or whom they hope in; yet Christians they must be thought, though they run before they know their errand; or if or if they have some principles they go upon, they are so unsettled that every wind blows them down, like loose tiles from the house top.

Blind zeal is soon put to a shameful retreat…

…while holy resolution, built on fast principles, lifts up its head like a rock in the midst of waves. The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits,’ Dan. 11:32. The angel told Daniel who were the men that would stand to their tackling, and bear up for God in that hour, both of temptation and persecution, which should be brought upon them by Antiochus; [that] not all the Jews, but some of them, should be corrupted basely by flatteries, others scared by threats out of their profession; only a few of fixed principles, who knew their God whom they served, and were grounded in their religion, these should be strong, and do exploits: that is, to flatteries they should be incorruptible, and to power and force unconquerable.

Second. A sincere aim at the right end of our profession. Let a man be never so knowing in the things of Christ, if his aim is not right in his profession, that man’s principles will hang loose; he will not venture much or far for Christ, no more, no further than he can save his own stake. A hypocrite may show some mettle at hand, some courage for a spurt in conquering some difficulties; but he will show himself a jade at length. He that hath a false end in his profession, will soon come to an end of his profession when he is pinched on that toe where his corn is—I mean, called to deny that [which] his naughty heart aimed at all this while. Now his heart fails him, he can go no farther. O take heed of this squint eye to our profit, pleasure, honour, or anything beneath Christ and heaven; for they will take away your heart, as the prophet saith of wine and women, that is, our love, and if our love be taken away, there will be little courage left for Christ.

How courageous was Jehu at first, and he tells the world it is zeal for God!

But why doth his heart fail him then, before half his work is done? His heart was never right set; that very thing that stirred up his zeal at first, at last quenched and cowed it, and that was ambition. His desire of a kingdom made him zealous against Ahab’s house, to cut off them who might in time jostle him besides the throne: which done, and he quietly settled, he dare not go through stitch with God’s work, lest he should lose what he got by provoking the people with a thorough reformation. Like some soldiers [who] when once they meet with a rich booty at the sacking of some town, are spoiled for fighting ever after.

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Gurnall is known by his “Christian in Complete Armour,” published in three volumes, dated 1655, 1658 and 1662. It consists of sermons or lectures delivered by the author in the course of his regular ministry, in a consecutive course on Ephesians 6: 10–20. It is described as a magazine whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. It is thus considered a classic on spiritual warfare. The work is more practical than theological; and its quaint fancy, graphic and pointed style, and its fervent religious tone render it still popular with some readers. Richard Baxter and John Flavel both thought highly of the book. Toplady used to make copious extracts from it in his common-place book. John Newton, the converted slave trader, said that if he was confined to one book beside the Bible, he’d choose Christian Armour. Cecil spent many of the last days of his life in reading it, and repeatedly expressed his admiration of it.Charles Haddon Spurgeon commented that Gurnall’s work is “peerless and priceless; every line full of wisdom. The book has been preached over scores of times and is, in our judgment, the best thought-breeder in all our library.” The writing style is akin to that of the King James Bible, so in 1988 [Banner of Truth Trust] did a revised and abridged version in contemporary English.
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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  William Gurnall (1617 – 12 October 1679) was an English author and clergyman born at King’s Lynn, Norfolk. He was educated at the free grammar school of his native town, and in 1631 was nominated to the Lynn scholarship in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1635 and MA in 1639. He was made rector of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Lavenham in Suffolk in 1644; and before he received that appointment he seems to have officiated, perhaps as curate, at Sudbury.

At the Restoration he signed the declaration required by the Act of Uniformity 1662, and on this account he was the subject of a libellous attack, published in 1665, entitled Covenant-Renouncers Desperate Apostates.

Why we cannot and should not come to a conclusion about the cause of an affliction.

Written by Samuel Rutherford.
Edited for thought and sense by Michael Pursley.

It is a part of tenderness of conscience in the regenerate, to be too applicatory of the law and of wrath: “I am afflicted above all others, therefore God is angry with me, and I am cast off by God.”

There be some rules to be observed in affliction:

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We are not either to over-argue or to under-argue, neither to faint nor despise. Conscience is too quick-sighted after illumination, and too dull-sighted before.

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The reasons why we argue from afflictions to God’s hatred are…

A.     There is a conscience of a conscience in the believer; that is, even in an enlightened conscience, there is some ill conscience to deem ill of God. “For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes.” (Psalm 31:22.) This is a hasty conscience; as we say, Such a one is a hasty man, and soon saddled, easily provoked to anger. This is a conscience soon provoked to anger.

B.     We have not that love and charity to God, that we have to some friend. We have such a love to some dear friend, that all his blacks are white; his seeming injuries to us do not provoke us. We say, I can believe no evil of such a man; and we over-shoot ourselves in an over-charge and surfeit of charity, which proceedeth from an over-plus and dominion of love, to a creature. We are in the other extremity to God and Jesus Christ. Sense of affliction cooleth our love, and we cannot extend charity so far to our Lord, as when we see he dealeth hardly with us, to keep the other ear without prejudice, free from the report that affliction, and the sense of affliction, maketh.

C.     The flesh joineth with affliction against God: affliction whispereth wrath, justice, sin, and the flesh saith, That is very true; for flesh hateth God, and so, must slander his dispensation. Ahab could not but slander Micaiah: “He never prophesieth good (saith he) to me.” Is not God’s truth good? Surely, every word of prophecy is like gold seven times tried. The reason of the slander is given by himself—“I hate him.” The other extremity is, that we under-argue in affliction; as

[1.] we say, It is not the Lord. The Philistines doubted whether God had sent the emerods on them, for keeping the ark captive, or if chance had done it. It is grace to father the cross right.

[2.] We look seldom spiritually on the cross: a carnal eye upon a cross is a plague. “God’s anger set him on fire round about, and he knew it not; and it burned him, and he laid it not to heart.” (Isa. 42:25.) It is strange, that God’s fire should burn a man, and yet, he neither seeth nor feeleth fire. Why? There is something of God in the cross, that the carnal eye cannot see.

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rutherfordMeet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 30 March 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire,Galloway, where it was said of him ‘he was always praying, always,preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying’, and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, ‘being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living’, there in Aberdeen, ‘his writing desk’, was said to be, ‘perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom’. His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.

Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the “Drunken Parliament” deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college.

His epitaph on his tombstone concluded ‘Acquainted with Immanuel’s song’.

Rutherford’s has been described as ‘Prince of Letter writers’ and C. H. Spurgeon described Rutherford’s letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men, continuing in an 1891 review of Rutherford’s (posthumously published Letters (1664) ‘when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men’. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed ‘the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry’ continuing ‘a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.’  Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional works, such as Christ Dying and drawing Sinners to Himself, “The Trial and Triumph of Faith”.

“What is a “Christian”?

 

One who holds membership in some earthly church?

No!

One who believes an orthodox creed?

No!

One who adopts a certain mode of conduct?

No!

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What, then, is a Christian?  He is one who has renounced self and received Christ Jesus as Lord (Col 2:6)…… There is no such thing as belonging to Christ—and living to please self.

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Make no mistake on that point—

“Whoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple,” (Luke 14:27) said Christ…… Taking up my “cross” means a life voluntarily surrendered to God.”

Written by Arthur Pink “The Cross and Self “

It matters little who says a thing in religion –but it matters greatly what is being said.

Written by J. C. Ryle

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to ministers of religion because of their office.

i109Ordination and office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses introduced into the church by ordained men. Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers ought not to be lightly refused. But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch.

We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes to make us crucify Christ again.

We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion–but it matters greatly what is being said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. “To the law and to the testimony–if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

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0Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

jc-ryle-and-charles-spurgeonRyle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

The Christian in Complete Armour… The Call to Courage, Part 5.

Written by William Gurnall (1617 – 1679)

Let this then exhort you, Christians…

norman-1506-a…to labour for this holy resolution and prowess, which is so needful for your Christian profession, that without it you cannot be what you profess. The fearful are in the forlorn company of those that march for hell, Rev. 21; the violent and valiant are they which take heaven by force: cowards never won heaven. Say not that thou hast royal blood running in thy veins, and art begotten of God, except thou canst prove thy pedigree by this heroic spirit, to dare to be holy despite men and devils.

The eagle tries her young ones by the sun; Christ tries his children by their courage…

…that dare to look on the face of death and danger for his sake, Mark 8:34, 35. O how uncomely a sight is it to see, a bold sinner and a fearful saint, one resolved to be wicked, and a Christian wavering in his holy course; to see guilt put innocence to flight, and hell keep the field, impudently braving it with displayed banners of open profaneness; [to see] saints hide their colours for shame, or run from them for fear, who should rather wrap themselves in them, and die upon the place, than thus betray the glorious name of God, which is called upon by them to the scorn of the uncircumcised.

Take heart therefore, O ye saints, and be strong; your cause is good!

God himself espouseth your quarrel, who hath appointed you his own Son, General of the field, called the Captain of our salvation,’ Heb. 2:10. He shall lead you on with courage, and bring you off with honour. He lived and died for you; he will live and die with you; for mercy and tenderness to his soldiers, none like him.

Trajan, it is said, rent his clothes to bind up his soldiers’ wounds:

Christ poured out his blood as balm to heal his saints’ wounds; tears off his flesh to bind them up. For prowess, none to compare with him: he never turned his head from danger: no, not when hell’s malice and heaven’s justice appeared in field against him; knowing all that should come upon him, [he] went forth and said, Whom seek ye?’ John 18:4. For success insuperable: he never lost battle even when he lost his life: he won the field, carrying the spoils thereof in the triumphant chariot of his ascension, to heaven with him: where he makes an open show of them to the unspeakable joy of saints and angels.

You march in the midst of gallant spirits…

…your fellow soldiers every one the son of a Prince. Behold, some, enduring with you here below a great flight of afflictions and temptation, take heaven by storm and force. Others you may see after many assaults, repulses, and rallyings of their faith and patience, got upon the walls of heaven, conquerors, from whence they do, as it were, look down, and call you, their fellow-brethren on earth, to march up the hill after them, crying aloud: Fall on, and the city is your own, as now it is ours, who for a few days’ conflict are now crowned with heaven’s glory, one moment’s enjoyment of which hath dried up all our tears, healed all our wounds, and made us forget the sharpness of the fight, with the joy of our present victory.’ In a word, Christians, God and angels are spectators, observing how you quit yourselves like children of the Most High; every exploit your faith doth against sin and Satan causeth a shout in heaven; while you valiantly prostrate this temptation, scale that difficulty, regain the other ground, you even now lost out of your enemies’ hands.

Your dear Saviour, who stands by with a reserve for your relief at a pinch, his very heart leaps within him for joy to see the proof of your love to him and zeal for him in all your combats; and will not forget all the faithful service you have done in his wars on earth; but when thou comest out of the field, will receive thee with the like joy as he was entertained himself at his return to heaven of his Father.

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Gurnall is known by his “Christian in Complete Armour,” published in three volumes, dated 1655, 1658 and 1662. It consists of sermons or lectures delivered by the author in the course of his regular ministry, in a consecutive course on Ephesians 6: 10–20. It is described as a magazine whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. It is thus considered a classic on spiritual warfare. The work is more practical than theological; and its quaint fancy, graphic and pointed style, and its fervent religious tone render it still popular with some readers. Richard Baxter and John Flavel both thought highly of the book. Toplady used to make copious extracts from it in his common-place book. John Newton, the converted slave trader, said that if he was confined to one book beside the Bible, he’d choose Christian Armour. Cecil spent many of the last days of his life in reading it, and repeatedly expressed his admiration of it.Charles Haddon Spurgeon commented that Gurnall’s work is “peerless and priceless; every line full of wisdom. The book has been preached over scores of times and is, in our judgment, the best thought-breeder in all our library.” The writing style is akin to that of the King James Bible, so in 1988 [Banner of Truth Trust] did a revised and abridged version in contemporary English.
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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  William Gurnall (1617 – 12 October 1679) was an English author and clergyman born at King’s Lynn, Norfolk. He was educated at the free grammar school of his native town, and in 1631 was nominated to the Lynn scholarship in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA in 1635 and MA in 1639. He was made rector of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Lavenham in Suffolk in 1644; and before he received that appointment he seems to have officiated, perhaps as curate, at Sudbury.

At the Restoration he signed the declaration required by the Act of Uniformity 1662, and on this account he was the subject of a libellous attack, published in 1665, entitled Covenant-Renouncers Desperate Apostates.

Advice on the Frame of Mind We Should Have As We Approach the Lord’s Table by Thomas Haweis

Over the years, I have all to often, watched as God people have moved from the true solemnity and self-searching that should be necessitated by this sacred act, to the sense of a comfortable habit, usually characterized by a since of flippancy. In our modern thinking, I think that we have lost a true sense of sin, because we have lost the true sense of the trancendence and holiness of God. True, there is reason to “celebrate” this sacred rite; but not in our selves, not in our garments “spotted in the flesh.” True celebration can come only when we see ourselves as the ruined sinners that we are, who have been loved, by someone as all together as beautiful and holy as God. -MWP

Afflictions and the Law

Written by Samuel Rutherford  (c. 1600 – 1661) 
Edited for thought and sense by Michael W. Pursley

Afflictions are the servants and attendants of the accusing law…

danger43…They are sent out to cause us lay hold, by faith, on peace made, and pardon purchased in Christ. The hot furnace is the workhouse of Christ; in that fire he taketh away the scum, the dross, the refuse of the true metal, that faith may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearance of Jesus Christ.

Afflictions drive us to seek God

Afflictions being God’s firemen; and his hired labourers, sent to break the clods, and to plough Christ’s land, that he may sow heaven there; but Christ must bring new earth to the soil. In prosperity we come to God, but in a common way; as the grave man came to the theatre, only that he might go out again. But in trouble, the saints do more than come; they make a friendly visit when they come. Also, the prayers of the saints in prosperity, are but summer prayers, slow, lazy, and alas! too formal. In trouble, they rain out prayers, or cast them out in co-natural violence, as a fountain doth cast out waters. Both these are in one well expressed by the prophet: “Lord, in trouble they have visited thee; they pour out a prayer when thy chastening hand is on them.”

We must be made like Christ…

…in the cross and the crown, (2 Tim. 2:12,) and conform to him. (Rom. 8:29.) Christ the corner-stone: though there was no sin in him, yet before he was made the chief corner-stone, he was by death hammered. (Acts 4:10-12.) And much more, the strokes and smiting of the cross must knock down all the superfluity of naughtiness, and every height, till by smoothing and chipping, the child of God be made a stone, in breadth, length, proportion, smoothness, some way conform to the first copy, and to Christ the sampler-stone.

The justified person may be afflicted for sin.

Sin offendeth God, who by that one sacrifice is for ever pacified, (Heb. 10:14; Matt. 3,) but as it offendeth and diseaseth the minds of the faithful: not that afflictions simply, properly, and immediately do ease, quiet, and cure the conscience, (for their natural effect is to deject and terrify, as appendices of the law;) but that they awaken and stir up our dullness, to a lively apprehension of Christ’s righteousness.

And so, while God, as a father, correcteth for sin, which is an offence of Divine justice; sin is considered as a disease troubling his child; which in love, and in pity, he seeketh to make riddance of, in manner aforesaid, and not in anger and displeasure.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Samuel Rutherford (c. 1600 – 30 March 1661) was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author, and one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly.

Rutherford was educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and Edinburgh University, where he became Regent of Humanity (Professor of Latin) in 1623. In 1627 he was settled as minister of Anwoth in Kirkcudbrightshire,Galloway, where it was said of him ‘he was always praying, always,preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying’, and from where he was banished to Aberdeen for nonconformity, ‘being very powerful on the side of the Reformed faith and of God living’, there in Aberdeen, ‘his writing desk’, was said to be, ‘perhaps the most effective and widely resounding pulpit then in Christendom’. His patron in Galloway was John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure. On the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1638 he was made Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.

Rutherford was chosen as one of the four main Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in London taking part in in formulating the Westminster Confession of Faith completed in 1647, and after his return to Scotland he became Rector of St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews in 1651. Rutherford was a staunch Protester during the controversy in the Scottish Presbyterian church between the Resolutioners and Protesters in the 1650s, and at the Restoration of Charles II his Lex Rex was burnt by the hand of the common hangman, and the “Drunken Parliament” deprived him of all his offices and voted that he not be permitted to die in the college.

His epitaph on his tombstone concluded ‘Acquainted with Immanuel’s song’.

Rutherford’s has been described as ‘Prince of Letter writers’ and C. H. Spurgeon described Rutherford’s letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men, continuing in an 1891 review of Rutherford’s (posthumously published Letters (1664) ‘when we are dead and gone let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s Letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere men’. Andrew Thomson, a Scottish minister, in a 19th-century biography observed ‘the letters flash upon the reader with original thoughts and abound in lofty feeling clothed in the radiant garb of imagination in which there is everything of poetry but the form. Individual sentences that supplied the germ-thought of some of the most beautiful spiritual in modern poetry’ continuing ‘a bundle of myrrh whose ointment and perfume would revive and gladden the hearts of many generations, each letter full of hope and yet of heartbreak, full of tender pathos of the here and the hereafter.’  Rutherford was also known for other spiritual and devotional works, such as Christ Dying and drawing Sinners to Himself, “The Trial and Triumph of Faith”.