Argument 1. The first argument by which Satan would make the Christian out of love with himself and his duty is taken from those sinful infirmities cleaving to both – his person and prayer alike. Thereby, he would quash the saint’s hope of any favorable reception that his prayer hath found in heaven. What? Thy stammering prayers make music in God’s ear? Will the Lord foul His fingers with thy besmeared duties? If thou wert a Samuel or a Daniel and couldst claim thy place among those worthies who are renowned for the eminent service they have done God in their generation, then thou mightest hope to have the ear of God to thy suit. But thou – alas! – art a puny stripling, a froward child in whom there is more sin than grace to be found, and dost thou think to be heard? Truly, though this argument weighs little, having no countenance from the tenor of the covenant, whose privileges are not impropriated to a few favorites, more eminent in grace than their brethren, but stand open to the whole family – it being “a common salvation” and “like precious faith” that all the saints partake of – yet is it the great bugbear with which many of them are scared.
A word or two, therefore, to arm thee against this argument. Only this premised – which I must take for granted – that these sinful infirmities are lamented and not cockered by thee – that, indeed, would turn infirmity into presumption, as also that thou neglectest not to apply the most effectual means for their cure – though, as in hereditary diseases, all the physic thou takest will not here perfectly rid thee of them. This granted, for thy comfort know thy prayers are not so offensive to God as to thyself. Thy prayers pass such a refining in Christ’s mediation that their ill scent is taken away.
From: The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall; reprint; 2 volumes in 1 (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 2: 345-346. Italics in the original.
William Gurnall (1616-1679) was rector (with Puritan sympathies) of the Anglican congregation at Lavenham, England, from 1644 until his death. This was his only book.