Written by William Gurnall (1617 – 1679)
Now, Christian, if thou meanest thus courageously to bear up against all opposition, in the march to heaven…
…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.
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.
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.