A Passionate and Compassionate Warning…To Come to Christ!

Taken from, “Compassionate warning and advice to all, especially to young persons.” 
Written by Richard Baxter, first published in 1708.

Edited for thought and sence.

5631188-L[There are very few times that I have had to labor so diligently to bring out a post, and so very few times I felt to myself, how worthwhile the labor! In the following thoughts, we find the Puritan, Richard Baxter, at his finest. Here he makes an impassioned plea for youth to look at what they are doing, as well as getting it right with God. While theologians feel that Baxter’s doctrine of justification is rather shaky, his capacity to reach out with understanding and compassion and talk to the soul of the person makes him my favorite Puritan for counseling. The following thoughts are frank and direct, they pull no punches and they compromise not one wit… they are the closest words that I have found to my mother’s numerous lectures.-MWP]

All your time and life is given you by God for one end and life, and all is little enough, and will you alienate the very beginning, and be a rebel so soon?

Young person you have not assurance of life for a day, or an hour. Thousands go out of the world in youth. Alas, the flesh of young men is corruptible, liable to hundreds of diseases, as well as the old. How quickly may a vein break, and Cold seize on your Head and Lungs, and turn to an incurable tuberculosis? How quickly may a fever, an inflammation, an abscess, or one of a thousand accidents, turn your bodies to corruption ? And O that I knew how to make you sensible how dreadful a thing it is to die in an unholy State, and in the guilt of any unpardoned Sin! An unsancified soul, that hath lived here but to the flesh and the World, will be but fuel for the Fire of Hell, and the wrathful justice of the most Holy God.

And though in the course of undisturbed Nature, young men may live longer than the old, yet nature hath so many disturbances and crosses, that our Lives are still like a candle in a broken lantern, which a blast of wind may soon blow out. To tell you that you are not certain in an unsanctified state, to be one day or hour more out of hell, I expect will not move you so much as the weight of the case deserves, because mere possibility of the greatest hurt does not affect men when they think there is no probability of it. You have long been well, and long you hope to be so: But did you think how many hundred veins, arteries, nerves, must be kept constantly in order, and all the blood and chemistry in due balance, and how the problems of one vein, or imbalance of the blood, may quickly end you, it would rather teach you to admire the merciful Providence of God that such a body should be kept alive one year.

But were you sure to live to maturity of age, alas, how quickly will it come? What haste makes time? How fast do days and years roll on? Had I done no service for God, that I could now look back upon, I should seem as if I had not lived. A thousand years, and one hour, are all one (that is, nothing); when they are past, and every year, day and hour of your lives hath its proper work: and how will you answer for it? Every day offers you more and more Mercies,and will you despise and lose them? If you were heirs to land, or had an annuity which amounted but to a hundred pounds a year, and you were every day to receive a proportion of it, or lose it; would you lose it through neglect, and say, I will begin to receive it when I am old? Poor labourers will work hard all the day, that at night they may have their wages : And will you contemptuously lose your every day’s mercies, your safety, your communion with God, your daily blessings and his grace, which you should daily beg, and may daily receive?

Either you will repent and live to God, or not, if not, you are undone forever. Oh how much less miserable is a dog, or a toad, than such a sinner! But if God will shew you so great mercy, oh how will it grieve you to think of the precious Time of youth which you madly cast away in sin! Then you will think, O what knowledge, what Holiness might I then have got! What a comfortable Life might I have lived! O what days and years of mercy did I cast away for nothing! Yea, when God has given you the pardon of your sin, the taste of his Love, and the hopes of Heaven, it will wound your hearts to think that you should so long, so unthankfuly, so heinously offend so Good a God, and neglect so merciful a saviour, and trample upon Infinite Divine Love, for the Love of so base and fleshly a pleasure, That ever you should be so bad, as to find more pleasure in sinning, than in living unto God.

downloadbe it known to you, if God in mercy convert and save you, yet the bitter fruit of your youthful folly may follow you in this world to the grave.

If you waste your estate in youth, you may be poor at age: If by drinking gluttony, idleness, or filthy lust, you contract any incurable diseases in youth, repentance may not cure them till Death. All this might easily have been prevented, if you had but had foreseeing Wisdom. And if ever you think to be men of any great Wisdom and usefulness in the world, to your selves or others, your preparations must be made in youth. Great Wisdom is not obtained in a little time.

And O what a dreadful danger is it that your youthful sin becomes incurable, and custom hardens you, and deceivers blind you, and God forsakes you, for your willful resistance of his grace! God may convert old hardened Sinners: But how ordinarily do we find that age doth but answer the preparations of youth, and the vessel ever after favors the liquor which first thoroughly tainted it: And men are but such as they learned to be and do at first. If you will be perfidious breakers of your Baptismal Vows, it is a just God to leave you to yourselves, to a deluded understanding, to think evil good, and good evil, to a seared conscience, and a hardened heart, and past feeling, to work uncleanness with greediness, Eph.3:18, and to fight against grace and your own salvation, till death and hell convince you of your madness. O sport not with the justice of a sin-hating God! Play not with sin, and with the unquenchable Fire! Forsaking God is the way to be forsaken of him. And what is a forsaken soul but a miserable slave of Satan?

Yea, did you but know of what moment it is to prevent all the heinous sins that else you will commit, you would make haste to repent, though you were sure to be forgiven. Forgiveness makes not Sin to be no Sin, or to be no evil, no shame, no grief, to the soul that hath committed it. You will cry out, O that I had never known it!

To look back on such an ill-spent Life, will be no pleasant thought. Repentance, though a healing work, is bitter: Make not work for it, if you love your Peace.

And is it a small thing to you that you are all this while doing hurt to others?

And drawing them to sin, and plunging them into that dangerous Guilt, which can no way be pardoned but by the blood of Christ upon true conversion? And when they have joined with you in lust and fleshly pleasure, it is not in your power to turn them, that they may join with you in found repentance; “and if not, they must lie in Hell forever: And can you make a sport of your own and other men’s damnation? But this leads me to the Second Point. I hope I have shewed you what vast concern it is to yourself to begin a holy Life.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him “the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen”. After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long and prolific career as theological writer. After the Restoration he refused preferment, while retaining a non-separatist Presbyterian approach, and became one of the most influential leaders of the nonconformists, spending time in prison.

Graceful Reflections: The Old Inn, a Past Age and the Present Christian Journey.

 Written in England in 1867, by the Rev. W Bealby Lichfield

015BlueBoarUoLLibrarySpecialCollectionsMany objects, not in themselves beautiful, become so by age…

…as well as the associations which cluster around them, and which are promptly suggested to the thoughtful mind. We enter the old town, and look around us and are pleased with the relics of the past which present themselves to our notice; and the various forms of buildings upon which time has left the frost of age. The old church shaded by the graveyard trees to which our forefathers trod their way on Sabbath morn, and the old dwellings around it where lived and died the men of by-gone ages, are interesting to look upon, as they remind us of many scenes which have been witnessed there.

3076But we cannot overlook among these objects that which are more than a little interesting, such as “the old inn. The sight of it not only throws us back on the past, but recalls thoughts of social life as then existing.

Previous to the establishment of inns, monasteries were the only places to which travelers could resort on their toilsome journey. Such institutions had their guest chamber, and one of the inmates had the special care of those who required food and sought a night’s repose. Multitudes of travelers, for ages, weary and worn, “Whose feet had been galled by the dust and the thorn,” here found a temporary home, and were safely sheltered from the perils and chill of the night. After the suppression of the religious houses, at the commencement of the Reformation, inns took their rise, and many of them now stand on the high road and in our old towns as they have stood for three centuries.

3080Interesting is it to look on such a building with its gabled roof, its tier of open gallery, its antiquated windows, and its old gate-entrance leading to the bustling yard, with the old sign hanging where it has hung for many a day. There is an intense look of homeliness and domesticity about the place. It warms our feelings.

The Old Inn when it best flourished was quite in harmony with existing times, when roads were perilous through robbers; travelling was slow and difficult when winds were chill and unkindly, it was an inviting resort when night drew on, though of less importance now, still and may ever be a necessity.

At all times the Old Inn is characteristic of this our journeying life. Life is a journey with more or less solitariness in it. Though a social being, man much separated from his fellow-man. But not withstanding this, he is a traveler, especially in his own province and country, and as such, knows something of the Old Inn-life.

As a traveler, at least occasionally we meet with fellow-travelers, often has he met them at the Old Inn. One of the first thoughts that strikes us as we look at it is, how many travelers have been here? How different are their characters? And how different the circumstances under which they came?

But, among the varied numbers who have been guests, there, we may reckon the ‘servants of God.”

Away from home, and on errands of mercy to perishing man, and in journeying wearisome and perilous, he too, has found grateful the rest and shelter of the home-like Inn. It was not probably all to his liking, yet his wants were supplied, rest was afforded, and some scope given to entertain thoughts of God in his soul, and to be comforted thereby. At such a place have some servants of God wished to end their earthly pilgrimage, as most in harmony with the Christian’s sojourn here; and forcibly are we reminded of the wish of that incomparable man, Leighton, which was gratified by God calling him to his eternal home from an Old Inn.

i_046And there is much in it resembling this, our earthly dwelling-place. The world may be compared to a large Old Inn. We rather tarry awhile than live here. We only stay, but not remain, on earth. We lodge a little time ere we go home. Some, too, tarry so short a time, as to lead us to question why they came at all, while others seem to tarry so long as to make us almost forget that they too will have to depart. So has it been, in regard to the old inn. The stay of some has been but for the passing hour, many only for the night, and some few, from peculiar circumstances, have made a stay as though they had forgotten that they were not at home.

Many, also, who used the old inn did so for the first and last time, and often those who met there in the cool of summer evening or in the winter’s cheerless night met once, and parted never more to meet. The morning sun saw them depart by different roads, and the only bond of union was a thought of the friendly converse enjoyed as they put up for a night at the old inn. And how much of this inn-like life do we experience as we “pass through nature to eternity!” We are but pilgrims, if we be not strangers on the earth.

“Here we meet to part again,
in heaven we part no more.”

There were moments in the day when quietude seems to settle on the old inn. It appears as if nothing was going on there. Standing alone, with its homely and snug aspect and out-hanging sign, it seemed to be inviting the weary passerby to tarry and rest awhile.

But there were times in the day when all was life-like stir and bustle. The sound of the horn came floating on the breeze intimating the speedy arrival of visitors; and, as the coach rolled along and past the dwellings of the old town, many a door and window were opened, and many a smiling countenance seen, and many an eye Expressive of curiosity. How lively the scene then was at the old inn, which gave also fresh life to the quiet old town. The monotonous scene was somewhat broken by new faces, and “stale news” was exchanged for fresh intelligence. Man, more or less everywhere, like the Athenians of old, is eager for something new, and the coach always imported news, as well as goods and passengers. If the coach had been taken off the road much life would have been taken from the town, a fact which has been verified in these modem times.

How analogous is all this to our individual life! We have our quiet seasons and dull ones too; but the dull hour passes, the heavy day closes, and other hours come and brighter days break upon us. Nothing here remains long. The “deep of night” does creep upon us, but it is only a night; and, if the morning have anxiety, and we wish “to know the day’s business ere it come,” yet we know ” the day will end, and then the end is known.” Life is full of the alternations of light and dark, grief and joy, fear and hope. Like travelers at an inn, we have our lone moments, but meet with other faces, and exchange kindly words and greetings which cast a gleam of gladness we did not anticipate. Visitors come and go, unexpected events happen, quietness gives place to bustle, and warm socialities are exchanged for sober retiredness. And best is it for us that life has these varieties. It is most befitting the character of our probationary state that it is a checkered scene.

highstserailguide_SMHowever, some who came off the coach were travelling on unwelcome business, some to abide in a strange locality, and some to visit the homes of affliction and trouble. Doubtless many of those travelers, if they showed signs of happiness,” showed more than they were master of.” A poet truly says, “Things are not what they seem,” and so is it with men. There is the bustle and the stir, ice energy and the life, the earnest talk and ringing laugh, but under all this, there is the shadow unseen, and the sigh unexpressed. Such were the travelers who met at the old inn in bygone times, when ” the light began to thicken and the crow made wing to the rooky wood,” and when morning came each went his own way never all to meet again,” like to man here, who is ever coming and going, for all are bound for eternity.

Whatever may have been the comforts or the social enjoyments at the old inn, however the travelers may have beguiled the evening hours away, they all felt more or less that they were not at home. The provisions may have been the best, the accommodations good, the company agreeable, the house cleanly, the inmates well-behaved, yet would the thought arise” this after all is not home.

images (3)What a magic power is there in that word, home! How endeared are its associations! How musical its sound! It may be only a cot in the lone wilderness, or a cave in the wild rock, a mean tenement in the crowded town, a tent in the sultry desert, yet it home, and around it fresher breezes seem to blow and brighter sunshine to gather. The wanderer far away thinks of it,amid all scenes through which he passes. The soldier on the battle field loses half his courage as he thinks of the spot may never visit more, and the traveling merchant longs for the rest of home.

But such homes are earthly and temporal. There is provided for man true home if he will seek it in God’s own way, a home, not inn-like, but abiding and eternal, where its travelers shall meet and wish no more to part. There is rest in that home unbroken and for ever,

“A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
And God is loved alone.”

Deluded, indeed, is the man who contents himself with an inn-life when he might possess a mansion; who seeks no other rest than what he may occasionally snatch on the thorny and toilsome road of life. The world, like the old inn, will have its day and be no more. The travelers will cease to come and go. The sign of the temporal will be no more seen. The hum and stir of all the long ages will end, and then will they be found to have been wise in their generation who sought to enter “The house eternal,” and to sit down with the redeemed family in the presence of their Father, God.

The Christian in Complete Armour; A Treatise Of the Saints’ War against the Devil, Part 3

Written by William Gurnall (1617 – 1679)

The Christian is to proclaim and prosecute an irreconcilable war against his bosom sins;

PilgrimsProgress_407x226Those sins which have lain nearest his heart, must now be trampled under his feet. So David, ‘I have kept myself from my iniquity.’ Now what courage and resolution does this require? You think Abraham was tried to purpose, when called to take his son, his son Isaac, his only son whom he loved,’ Gen. 22:2, and offer him up with his own hands, and no other; yet what was that to this? Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused the most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down —and all this now, before thou hast one embrace more from it. Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,’ but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries.

Who is able to express the conflicts, the wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit the Christian feels, before he can bring his heart to this work?

Or who can fully set forth the art, the rhetorical insinuations, with which such a lust will plead for itself? One while Satan will extenuate and mince the matter: It is but a little one, O spare it, and thy soul shall live for all that. Another while he flatters the soul with the secrecy of it: Thou mayest keep me and thy credit also; I will not be seen abroad in thy company to shame thee among thy neighbours; shut me up in the most retired room thou hast in thy heart, from the hearing of others, if thou wilt only let me now and then have the wanton embraces of thy thoughts and affections in secret. If that cannot be granted, then Satan will seem only to desire execution may be stayed awhile, as Jephthah’s daughter of her father: let me alone a month or two, and then do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth,’ Judges 11:36, 37, well knowing few such reprieved lusts but at last obtain their full pardon; yea, recover their favour with the soul. Now what resolution doth it require to break through such violence and importunity, and notwithstanding all this to do present execution? Here the valiant swordsmen of the world have showed themselves mere cowards, who have come out of the field with victorious banners, and then lived, yea, died slaves to a base lust at home.

As one could say of a great Roman captain who, as he rode in his triumphant chariot through Rome, had his eye never off a courtesan that walked along the street: Behold, how this goodly captain, that had conquered such potent armies, is himself conquered by one silly woman.
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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.

‘What then is this killing of sin?

PilgrimsProgress_407x226‘What then is this killing of sin? It is the constant battle against sin which we fight daily – the refusal to allow the eye to wander, the mind to contemplate, the affections to run after anything which will draw us from Christ.’

– Sinclair B. Ferguson, ‘The Christian Life’