Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gurnall on how Satan induces paralyzing guilt

In a wonderful section which I'll only partly reproduce, Gurnall talks about how Satan troubles the Christian by trying to sound like the Holy Spirit, and pointing the Christian to the greatness of his sin. "He vexeth the Christian by laying his brats at the saint’s door, and charging him with that which is his own creature," Gurnall says — in other words, Satan both fathers, and accuses the believer for, these sins (William Gurnall and John Campbell, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: Thomas Tegg: 1845, 57). He also makes a great big fuss about the terrible nature of the saint's sins, though "not," Gurnall notes, "that he hates the sin, but the saint."

So he will focus us on what a wretched job we do of walking with God, how half-hearted we are, how poor our obedience, how half-baked our works. I'll quote at length two of Gurnall's proposed remedies in pointing to the fallacies of Satan's arguments, because they're pretty wonderful:
First, He will persuade thee that thy duty and thyself are hypocritical, proud, formal, &c., because something of these sins are to be found in thy duty. Now, Christian, learn to distinguish between pride in a duty, and a proud duty; hypocrisy in a person, and a hypocrite; wine in a man, and a man in wine. The best of saints have the stirrings of such corruptions in them, and in their services; these birds will light on an Abraham’s sacrifice; but comfort thyself with this, that if thou findest a party within thy bosom pleading for God, and entering its protest against these, thou and thy services are evangelically perfect. God beholds these as the weaknesses of thy sickly state here below, and pities thee, as thou wouldest do thy lame child. How odious is he to us that mocks one for natural defects, a blear eye or a stammering tongue? Such are these in thy new nature. Observable is that in Christ’s prayer against Satan, Zech. 3:3, ‘The Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ As if Christ had said, Lord, wilt thou suffer this envious spirit to twit thy poor child with, and charge him for, those infirmities that cleave to his imperfect state? he is but new plucked out of the fire, no wonder there are some sparks unquenched, some corruptions unmortified, some disorders unreformed in his place and calling. And what Christ did for Joshua, he doth incessantly for all his saints, apologising for their infirmities with his Father.
Secondly, His other fallacy is in arguing from the sin that is in our duties to the non-acceptance of them. Will God, saith he, thinkest thou, take such broken groats at thy hand? Is he not a holy God? Now here, Christian, learn to distinguish and answer Satan. There is a double acceptance. There is an acceptance of a thing by way of payment of debt, and there is an acceptance of a thing offered as a token of love and a testimony of gratitude. He that will not accept of broken money, or half the sum for payment of a debt; the same man, if his friend sends him, though but a bent sixpence, in token of his love, will take it kindly. It is true, Christian, the debt thou owest to God must be paid in good and lawful money; but, for thy comfort, here Christ is thy paymaster; send Satan to him, bid him bring his charge against Christ, who is ready at God’s right hand to clear his accounts, and shew his discharge for the whole debt. But now thy performances and obedience come under another notion, as tokens of thy love and thankfulness to God; and such is the gracious disposition of thy heavenly Father, that he accepts thy mite: love refuseth nothing that love sends. It is not the weight or worth of the gift, but ‘the desire of a man is his kindness,’ Prov. 19:22.
[William Gurnall and John Campbell, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: Thomas Tegg, 1845), 59–60. Bolding added]
Love this book. Also available in a paperback set.


Eddie Eddings said...

To quote Tony the Tiger, that was "Grrrreat!"

Solameanie said...

Dan, thank you VERY much for posting this. It is an answer to prayer - as I have been trying to help a much loved family member (who grew up Arminian to the point of near-Pelagianism) understand what true salvation in Christ means and that we are not saved by works. God bless and Merry Christmas!