Monday Meditations: Christian’s Warfare – William Gurnall

Monday Meditations - Daily Readings: The Puritans
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10

The Christian is to proclaim and prosecute an irreconcilable war against his bosom sins; those sins which have lain nearest his heart, must now be trampled under his feet. So David, “I have kept myself from my iniquity” (Ps. 18:23). 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 your lust, your only lust, which is the child of your dearest love, your Isaac, the sin which has caused the most joy and laughter, from which you have promised yourself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever you look 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 you have 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, and 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?

William GurnallAbout William Gurnall:
William Gurnall (1616-1679), a Church of England minister, was born in St. Margaret’s parish, King’s Lynn, Nor- folk. He entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in March 1632, and soon after earned both a B.A. and an M.A. He was made rector of Lavenham in Suffolk in 1644, but seems to have been curate before at Sudbury. At the Restoration he signed the declaration required by the Act of Uniformity (1662) and was ordained by Edward Reynolds, Bishop of Norwich. He was criticized for conforming in a 1665 tract, Covenant-Renouncers, Desperate Apostates. Gurnall’s chief work, which had a significant impact both in his lifetime and long afterwards is his The Christian in Compleat Armour (1655-1662). This massive work, originally published in three parts, was famous as a work of spiritual consolation and exhortation. Though its overarching theme was that of spiritual warfare, The Christian in Compleat Armor is a cornucopia of Christian divinity.

*Excerpted from Daily Readings – The Puritans (Christian Heritage, 2012).

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