William Gurnall (1617-1679): Sincerity, the key to standing firm against the reproaches of men

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“Sincerity supports and comforts the soul under reproaches from men. These are no petty trials; they are reckoned among the saints’ martyrdoms, Heb. 11:36, called there ‘cruel mockings,’ yea, not unworthy to be recorded among the sufferings of Christ. The matchless patience and magnanimity of his spirit appeared not only in enduring the cross, but in ‘despising the shame,’ which the foul tongues of his bloody enemies loaded him unmercifully with. Man’s aspiring mind can least brook shame. Credit and applause is the great idol of men that stand at the upper end of the world for parts or place. Give but this, and what will not men do or suffer? One wiser than the rest could see this proud humour in Diogenes, that endured to stand naked, embracing a heap of snow, while he had spectators about him to admire his patience, as they thought it, and therefore was asked, ‘whether he would do thus, if he had none to see him?’ The hypocrite is the greatest credit-monger in the world; it is all he lives on almost, what the breath of men’s praise sends him in; when that fails, his heart faints; but when it turns to scorn and reproaches, then he dies, and needs must, becuase he has no credit with God while he is scorned by man; whereas sincerity bears up the soul against the wind of man’s vain breath, because it hath conscience, and God himself, to be his compurgator, to whom he dare appeal from man’s bar. O how sweetly do a good conscience, and the Spirit of God witnessing with it, feast the Christian at such a time! and no matter for the hail of man’s reproaches that rattle without, while the Christian is so merry within doors.”

– William Gurnall (1617-1679), The Christian in Complete Armour, 1:395

William Gurnall (1617–1679): Where there is fellowship, there is strength

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“Join the fellowship and communion with the saints in your area.  It is no surprise to hear that a house gets robbed when it has no other houses around it.  He that walks in communion of saints travels in company, he dwells in a city where one house keeps watch over another.  The devil knows the damage he does in hindering this great ordinance of communion of saints – in doing this he hinders the progress of grace, indeed, brings that grace which Christians have into a declining, wasting state.  The apostle couples these two duties close together, to ‘hold fast’ our ‘profession,’ and to ‘consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works’ (Heb. 10:23-24).”

“Indeed, it is a dangerous step towards apostasy to forsake the communion of saints; so it is said of Demas that he ‘hath left us, and embraced the present world’ (2 Tim. 4:10).”

– William Gurnall (1617–1679), The Christian in Complete Armour, p. 241, 350

William Gurnall (1617–1679) on the high cost of truth

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“We have the truth at a cheap rate now; but how soon the market may rise we do not know. Truth is not always available at the same price. We must buy it at any cost but sell it on no terms.

There has always been, and always will be to the end of the world, a spirit of persecution in wicked hearts. And even as Satan researched Job before he laid his hands on him, persecution is working now in the spirits of the ungodly. Engines of death continually grind out the thoughts of Satan against professing believers of truth. They already know exactly what they will do if power and opportunity are provided for them to carry out their sinister desires.

Satan comes first with a spirit of error and then of persecution; he poisons men’s minds with error and then fills their hearts with anger against believers. It is impossible for error to bring any kind of peace; it is a brat of hell that must favor its father. Whatever comes from below can be neither pure nor peaceable. God has let this sulfureous spirit of error remain but He has given us a girdle of truth for protection.

But not everyone who applauds truth will follow it when it leads him to prison. And not everyone who preaches it is willing to suffer for it. Arguments are harmless things – blunt weapons which bring no blood. But when we suffer we are called to fight with the enemies of truth. And this requires more than a sharp tongue and logical brain. Where will disputers be then? They will appear like cowardly soldiers, who, in basic training when no enemy was in sight, seemed to be as brave as decorated heros. To be on truth’s side then meant only recognition and reward, not danger and death. But God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise in his service – the humble Christian, by his faith, patience, and love for truth – to shame men of high standing and no grace.”

– William Gurnall (1617–1679), Christian in Complete Armour, 2:36