From a Puritan – Part 2

Continued from yesterday:

11.  Can you hope for salvation by Him without sincere affection to Him?

Shall not Christ expect love from you, when you expect life from Christ?

12.  Dare you die without love to Christ?

To think – I have lived 20, 40, 60 years, but never loved Christ!  Now I must go to appear before Him whom I never loved.  Why not love Him while you live in health, as well as wish you had loved Him when health is gone, and sickness is come?  When life is going as fast as death is coming?

13.  Is not your love Christ’s due?

Do you not owe it to Him?  Is it not due Him by virtue of creation?  Did not He give your being to you?  By virtue of redemption, when you were worse than nothing, did He not lay down His soul, His life, His blood as a precious price for your ransom?  By virtue of preservation, has not Christ kept you out of the grave and hell unto this day?  Justice would have hewn you down, and wrath would have swallowed you live long ago.  And who has procured a reprieve for you but Christ?

14.  Is it not great condescension in Christ that He will kindly accept of your love?

One so great, receiving the love of one so base.  One so holy, of one so sinful.  One so glorious, of one so vile.

15.  Should you ever have any cause or reason to be ashamed of your love to Christ?

Is not the time coming and the day hastening when the covetous shall be ashamed of their loving the world, the voluptuous ashamed of loving their pleasures, and the ambitious their honors?  But the time will never come, that day will never be, that a gracious soul shall be ashamed of his sincere love to Jesus Christ.

16.  Is there any love so profitable as the love of Christ?

Gain draws love.  By the love of other things more than Christ, you will lose more than you gain.  By such love, God, Christ, heaven, and your own soul will be forever forever.  And, should your gains of the world be proportionable to your love of the world, yea, and exceed it, to the gaining of the whole world to yourself, which never man yet did, your gain would prove your loss and, when you come to give an account at death or judgment, you will find yourself cast much behind because you will be cast behind the face and favor of God (Matthew 16:26).  But, by the loving of Christ, you shall have gain that no man can value, no mind can estimate, no mathematician – by all his numbers and figures – can compute; even pardon of innumerable sins, the favor of an infinite God, deliverance from inconceivable torments, possession of endless life, and more than I, or any other man, can describe or comprehend.

17.  Is there any love so universally necessary as the love of Christ?

18.  Do you not lack that one great help against the temptations of Satan while you are void of love to Christ?

(combined)

This love would garrison your hearts, fortify your souls, make you courageous and resolute against all the batteries of Satan, assaults of sin, and watchful against the allurements and ambushes of the world.  Then would you not say, “Shall I offend my dearest Lord?  Shall I displease Him who has had such good pleasure to do me such good, such everlasting good?

19.  Will you ever be able to hold your profession of Christ without sincere love to Him?

When trials come, will not such as have no saving love to Christ turn their backs on Him?  If you have not that love which will keep you steadfast and constant in service, sacrifice, and sufferings for Christ on earth, for want of that love you shall suffer eternally in hell.

20.  Is it not possible for you to set your love upon Christ?

Is it not attainable?  Devils cannot love Him, but you can.  Souls in hell cannot love Him, but you can, if you would, for do you not have the means to help you to love Him?  Is He not preached to you?  Is not the Spirit striving with you?  What hinders you from loving Him but your unwillingness to love Him?  You have a will, but you complain of no power.  This is no excuse before God, who condemns your moral impotency as your sin, and this excuse as a part of your “will not.”  Though without the powerful workings of the grace and Spirit of God you cannot love Christ sincerely, yet this “cannot” is your “will not.”  For if, by the grace of God, you were enabled to will, you could and, if you were as willing to love Christ, as some now are, you could love Him as well as they.  You can, and do, love sin because you are willing; have but as great willingness to love Christ, as the world and sin, and then it may be said, not only that you can, but that you do love Christ.  However, though I am no asserter of the liberty and power of the will in things supernatural, nor an opposer of the necessity of the workings of the Spirit to enable a sinner to love Christ, yet it is most manifest that your unwillingness is the hindrance of such love, and this unwillingness is your weakness and your sin, of which you need to confess and repent before God.  Since, then, your unwillingness might, by grace, be removed, your love is possible.  Therefore, cease not till it be actual.  All that stands between you and love to Christ is your “will not.”  Christ has made love to Him easy for you, so do it.  How can you not?  How dare you not?  God help you.  Amen.

Thomas Doolittle (1630-1707) was an English Puritan pastor of the 17th century.  At his death, in 1707, at the age of 77, he was the last surviving pastor of the Great Ejection of 1662 (when more than 2,000 ministers were forcibly removed from their pastorates by the English government) to die.

William J. Gorrell (born in 1961) is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Westminster, California. 

From a Puritan – Part 1

Twenty Motives, or Pleas, that Christ Might Have the Love of Your Hearts

by Thomas Doolittle

Edited and Mildly Paraphrased by William J. Gorrell

One introductory remark may be helpful before coming to this fine summary of the believer’s necessity to love the Lord of grace and glory, and it is this: our question ought not to be, “Why should I love Jesus?” but rather, “How can I not love Him, who has so loved me?”  With this in mind, let us consider the high points from this Puritan’s little treatise. – William J. Gorrell

1.  Can you find a more excellent object for your love than Christ?

If you search through the whole creation of God, is there any like to Christ?  Are riches, honors, pleasures, relations, which you have loved, comparable to Christ, whom you ought to love?  Is not Christ a good most suited to you?  Are you not lost, undone, in danger of being damned?  Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.  Are you not ignorant, dark, and blind?  Christ gives, and is, light to the world.  Are you not sick, and full of spiritual diseases?  Jesus is the good physician to your soul.  Are you not indebted, owing millions to God, of which you are not able to pay even the least penny?  Your Savior, who is rich, stooped low and became poor, and paid all of your debt.  Are you not polluted and unclean?  Jesus Christ is the only fount opened for sinners by which we may be washed clean and fresh as virgin snow.  He, then, is so suitable to you – how can you withhold anything from such a One?

2.  Tell me, has not Christ deserved your love by what He has suffered, done, given, purchased, promised, and prepared for those who love Him?

Behold His wounds, which He has endured for you!  Behold a crown of thorns on His head, that there may be a crown of glory set upon yours!  Behold Him dying, that you may live!  Behold Him suffering, that you may be saved!  Behold Him poor, that you may be made rich with the best, surest, and most durable riches!

3.  Will not love to Christ be the best love you can attain to?

As He is the best object, so love toward Him must be the best love.  Love to Christ is the sweetest love; the safest and noblest.  And it is a love which is the longest, enduring forever.

4.  Is it not great folly to love other things, and not Christ?

For love you will!  There is such an affection as love in all your hearts, and upon something it will be set in this world.  Now, if Christ does not have it, the world will; if Christ does not have it, sin will.  Is it not greater folly to love that which (1) is worse than yourselves, and not that which is infinitely better? (2) cannot love you again, and not Him who would love you again and again; (3) can never satisfy you, and not Him who would satisfy your souls forever? (4) you must shortly part with, and not Him whom you might enjoy forever? (5) might leave you while you live, and not that Christ who would never leave you, or forsake you? (6) may prove a hindrance to your everlasting happiness, and not Him who is the purchaser and promoter of it? 

5.  Can you do anything less than love Christ, or can you do anything more?

If Christ had asked you to lay down your life for Him, had He required more from you than He Himself had done for you?  Had He called you to give your bodies to be burned for Him, should you not have done it?  How much more, then, when He says, “Let your hearts but burn in love to Me, when that burning will not be painful, but delightful!”

6.  Will you love that which you might easily love too much, and not Christ, whom you can never over-love?

You might love your riches, your relations, your pleasures, yourself, your liberty, your life, too much.  But never can Christ be loved too much.

7.  Can your love yourselves truly, and not love the Lord Jesus sincerely?

There is a self-love which is inconsistent with the love of Christ, and there is a self-love which is the best, that no man has except the man who loves Christ.  Does that man love himself indeed, who regards not the salvation of his soul, who ruins himself, and damns himself, and shuts himself out of heaven?  Does that man love himself indeed, who exposes himself to the wrath of God, to the damnation of hell, and to banishment from the glorious presence of the blessed God and His heaven, which is a world of love?  If, then, you would love yourself truly, you must love Christ sincerely.  [Note: Doolittle, here, does not fall into the modern trap of saying that we must love ourselves first in order to love others but, rather, that we must love Christ first before we can love either ourselves or our neighbors, as the Second Table of the Law (The Ten Commandments) commands. – William J. Gorrell]

8.  Are not all the duties of religion tedious to you, for want of love to Christ?

Do you find it a burden to pray?  A burden to hear or read the Word of God?  Is it a burden to you to meditate upon God and Christ, and things above?  It is all for want of love to Christ, for love makes hard things easy, and heavy labor light.

9.  Does anything make you more like to God than to love Christ?

God does not believe in, obey the commands of, or hope in Christ, but He loves Him, and so, in imitation of your heavenly Father, should you (John 3:35; 5:20).

10.  Might you return to God and Christ like for like, in anything but love, or, in anything carry it towards God, as God does toward you?

If God is angry with you, may you be angry with God?  If God withdraws comfort from you, may you withhold duty from God?  If He rebukes you, may you rebuke Him?  But, if He loves you, you may, and ought, to love Him.  If He has set His heart upon you, how much more are you to set your heart upon Him?

Thomas Doolittle (1630-1707) was among the more than 2,000 Puritan ministers ejected from their pulpits by order of the English goverment in 1662.  At his death, in 1707, at the age of 77, he was the last surviving member of that group of godly men to die.

William J. Gorrell (born in 1961) is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Westminster, California.