WILLIAM GURNALL: The Christian in Complete Armour

The Christian in Complete Armour
Posted on April 24, 2015  in Blog, Christian Classics, William Gurnall
I (Sean) recently embarked on an adventure into William Gurnall’s book, a 17th century puritan classic, called The Christian in Complete Armour.  If you’ve never encountered anything written by the puritan’s before you might compare them to ents from Tolkien’s work, The Lord of the Rings.  They’re giants in the land, they’ve been around for a while (at least their writings have), and most of all, they take an incredibly long time to say something.
The reason for this is because what they have to say is usually worthwhile.  And like our entish friends, if something is worth saying, it’s worth taking a long time to say.  William Gurnall’s book is a fine example.  The two volume work is on the armour of God from Ephesians 6:10-20 and weighs in (at least the copy I have) at 600 pages.  Yes, you read that right: 600 pages on 11 verses.
Some 50 pages in the adventure has already been worthwhile, for two reasons in particular.  First, stepping out of this century into a previous one forces me to slow down.  In a day of information overload with thousands and thousands of daily tweets, status updates, blog posts, news articles and book releases, my head sometimes spins.  Couple that with how frequently we change screens or flit from one activity to the next and you can almost kiss your concentration goodbye.  Sticking my nose in Gurnall’s book is like stopping the world and getting off for a bit.  I really recommend it.
Second, the content itself is worth the slow down. John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, declared that if he were stranded on an island and could only have the Bible and one another book, it would be Gurnall’s.
Why am I telling you this?  Because from time to time I’m going to come across excerpts worth sharing, and since it’s going to take me a while to read it all the way through, you’ll probably be seeing snippets over an extended period.
Here’s the first instalment.  Enjoy.
The believer is to persevere in his Christian course to the end of his life: his work and his life must go off the stage together.  This adds weight to every other difficulty of the Christian’s calling.  We have known many who have gone into the field, and liked the word of a soldier for a battle or two, but soon have had enough, and come running home again, but few can bear it as a constant trade.  Many are soon engaged in holy duties, easily persuaded to take up a profession of religion, and as easily persuaded to lay it down, like the new moon, which shines a little in the first part of the night, but is down before half the night be done – lightsome professors in their youth whose old age is wrapt up in thick darkness of sin and wickedness.
O, this persevering is hard work!  This taking up the cross daily, this praying always, this watching night and day, and never laying aside our clothes and armour, I mean indulging ourselves, to remit and unbend in our holy waiting on God, and walking with God.  This sends many sorrowful away from Christ, yet this is the saint’s duty, to make religion his every-day work, without any vacation from one end of the year to the other.  These few instances are enough to show what need the Christian hath of resolution.

1 Comment

Dan - June 14th, 2020 at 8:07am


Interesting recommendation by Newton. I think he might have been fond of saying that, I have it on good authority that he said the same thing (on being stuck on a desert island) about The Pilgrim's Progress!



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