Friday, March 13, 2015

Gurnall on those who sleep during sermons

Gurnall makes the point that anyone who wants divine knowledge must wait on the ministry of the word, including at the places of instruction God ordained for learning (i.e. church). He adds, "But it is not enough to sit under the means; woful experience teacheth us this; there are some no sun will tan; they keep their own complexion under the most shining and burning light of the word preached, as ignorant and profane as those that never saw gospel-day; and therefore if thou wilt receive any spiritual advantage by the word, take heed how thou hearest."

In that vein, his first bit of advice is to be
a wakeful hearer. Is it any wonder he should go away from the sermon no wiser than he came, that sleeps the greatest part of it away, or hears between sleeping and waking? It must be in a dream sure, if God reveals anything of his mind to him. So indeed God did to the fathers of old; but it was not as they profanely slept under an ordinance. O take heed of such irreverence. He that composeth himself to sleep, as some do, at such a time, or he that is not humbled for it, and that deeply, both of them betray a base and low esteem they have of the ordinance. Surely thou thinkest but meanly of [i.e. do not place much value on] what is delivered, if it will not keep thee awake; yea, of God himself, whose message it is. See how thou art reproved by the awful carriage of a heathen, and that a king; Ehud did but say to Eglon, ‘I have a message from God unto thee, and he arose out of his seat,’ Judg. 3:20. And thou clappest down on thy seat to sleep! O how darest thou put such an affront upon the great God? How oft did you fall asleep at dinner, or telling your money? And is not the word of God worth more than these? I should wonder if such sermon-sleepers do dream of anything but hell-fire. It is dangerous you know to fall asleep with a candle burning by our side; some have been so burnt in their beds: but more dangerous to sleep while the candle of the word is shining so near us. What if you should sink down dead, like Eutychus? here is no Paul to raise you as he had; and that you shall not, where is your security?
[William Gurnall and John Campbell, The Christian in Complete Armour (London: Thomas Tegg, 1845), 123. Emphases added.]


Lincoln Wiebe said...

Thanks. I started reading Gurnall two months ago and have been blessed to the 60th page so far. Tough reading but worth every bit. God bless you.

DJP said...

He's worth a leisurely ponder, isn't he? The trouble is, so is Charnock, so is Watson, so is Owen... and we've only got like 80-100 years, max, as a rule. /c:

Glad to have shared the blessing!

Alf Cengia said...

Thanks, Dan.

I saw Gurnall's book in Parkside Church's bookstore this Sunday. I remember seeing the name Gurnall somewhere...couldn't recall where. Of course it was here!

I bought the book. It's a delight. Looking forward to the task of reading it.