Written by William Gurnall (1617 – 1679)
Edited for thought and sense.
Perhaps you find the duty of your calling too heavy for your weak shoulders…
…make bold by faith to lay the heaviest end of your burden on God’s shoulder, which is yours (if a believer) as sure as God can make it by promise. When at any time you are sick of your work, and ready to think with Jonas to run from it, encourage yourself with that of God to Gideon, whom he called from the flail to thrash the mountains, ‘Go in this your might,’ has not God called you? Fall to the work God sets you about, and engage his strength for yourself.
The way of the Lord is strength.
If you run from your work, you will then engage God’s strength against you; he will send some storm or another after you, to bring home his runaway servant. How oft has the coward been killed in a ditch, or under some hedge, when the valiant soldier stood his ground and kept his place got off with safety and honor?
Are you called to suffer?
Flinch not because you are afraid, that you shalt never be able to bear the cross; God can lay it so even, you shalt not feel it, though you should find no relief until you come to the prison door, yes, till you have one foot on the ladder, or your neck on the block, despair not. ‘In the mount will the Lord be seen.’ And in that hour he can give you such a look of his sweet face, as shall make the blood come in the ghastly face of a cruel death, and appear lovely in your eye for his sake.
He can give you so much comfort in hand…
…if you acknowledge first that God is with you, for all your shame and pain you can endure for him; and if it should not amount to this, yet so much as it will bear all the charges you can be put to in the way, lies ready told in the promise, I Cor. 10:13. You shalt have it at sight, and this may satisfy a Christian, especially if he considers, though he doth not carry so much of heaven’s joy about him to heaven as others, yet he shall meet it as soon as he comes to his Father’s house, where it is reserved for him.
In a word, Christian, rely upon your God.
Make your daily applications to the throne of grace for continual supplies of strength; you little think how kindly he takes it, that you will make use of him, the oftener the better, and the more you come for, the more welcome. Else why would Christ have told his disciples, ‘Hitherto you have asked nothing,’ but to express his large here in giving? loath to put his hand to his purse for a little, and therefore by a familiar kind of rhetoric puts them to rise higher in asking, as Naaman when Gehazi asks one talent, entreats him to take two. Such a bountiful heart your God has, while you are asking a little peace and joy, he bids you open your mouth wide and he will fill it.
Go and ransack your heart, Christian…
…from one end to the other, find out your wants, acquaint yourself with all your weaknesses, and set them before the Almighty, as the widow her empty vessels before the prophet; have you more than you can bring, you may have them all filled. God has strength enough to give, but he has no strength to deny. Here the Almighty himself (with reverence be it spoken) is weak; even a child, the weakest in grace of his family that can but say father, is able to overcome him; and therefore let not the weakness of your faith discourage you. No greater motive to the bowels of mercy to stir almighty power to relieve you than your weakness, when pleaded in the sense of it. The pale face and thin cheeks, I hope, move more with us, than the canting language of a stout sturdy beggar; thus [with] that soul that comes laden in the sense of his weak faith, love, patience, the very weakness of them carries an argument along with them for relief.
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.