Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Pop-Gun Threats of a Frowning World

A selection from a letter by the Puritan preacher, Joseph Alleine, to his congregation from prison. He was ejected from the Church of England for nonconformity in 1662 and was arrested and imprisoned because he continued to preach the gospel. Alleine wrote letters to his church while in prison. John Wesley once referred to him as “the English Rutherford.” Alleine touches on the theme of persecution and its blessedness in this letter. It was written July 28, 1665.

…Hath not God said, that if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him; and that these light afflictions work for us a weight of glory? And if this be true, I pray you tell me whether God hath not dealt well with us in counting us worthy of this little tribulation for his name? Indeed, the sufferings are but little; but verily the reward will not be little. I know whom I have trusted; I am well assured the glass is turned up, and every hour reckoned of our imprisonments, and every scorn and reproach of our enemies is kept in black and white.

I believe, therefore do I speak; God is infinitely tender of us, my brethren, though a poor and despicable generation. I value not the pop-gun threats of a frowning world; it is well with us, we are God’s favourites. Come, my beloved, let us sit down under his shadow; here is safety and rest; if God be for us, who can be against us? Verily He bottles all our tears, and tells all our wanderings; He numbers all our hairs; whosoever toucheth us shall not be innocent. Know you not that we are the apple of his eye? Hath not he reproved the greatest for his people’s sakes, saying, ‘Reproach not mine anointed.’ And so we forget how he loved us. Are not we his jewels? Doth He not own us for his members, for his children?

Life and Letters of Joseph Alleine, by Rev. Richard Baxter, Theodosia Alleine, and others, with a new introduction by Joel R. Beeke and Herb Samworth, Reformation Heritage Books, reprinted in 2003, pp. 197-99.

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