Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hold Fast That No Man Take Your Crown

A portion of a letter by the Puritan preacher, Joseph Alleine, to his church. Alleine was in prison, being held because he preached without the approval of the crown. Disappointing news had come to him that he would not be freed when hoped. The news, however, was more disappointing for his flock than for him, so he exhorted them not to lose their zeal for the Lord and to remain faithful. His letter was more like a sermon, for he said, "I forget that I am writing a letter." No date is given for the letter but it was written sometime in 1663 or1664.

Now is the time that the love of many doth wax cold. But I bless God it is not so with you; I am sure your love to me is, as true friends should be, like the chimmeys, warmest in the winter of adversity; and I hope your love to God is much more, and I would that you should abound yet more and more.

Where else should you bestow your loves? Love ye the Lord, ye his saints, and cling about him the faster, now ye see the world is striving to separate you from him. How many are they that go to knock off your fingers! O, methinks, I see what tugging there is. The world is plucking, and the devil is plucking. Oh! hold fast, I beseech you; hold fast, that no man take your crown. Let the water that is sprinkled, yea, rather poured upon your love, make it to flame up the more.

Are you not betrothed unto Christ? Oh remember, remember your marriage covenant! Did you not take him "for richer for poorer, for better for worse?" Now prove your love to Christ to have been a true conjugal love, in that you can love him when most slighted, despised, undervalued, blasphemed among men. Now acquit yourselves, not to have followed Christ for the loaves. Now confute the accuser of the brethren, you may be ready to suggest of the best of you, as he did of Job, "Doth he serve the Lord for nought?"  And let it be seen that you loved Christ and holiness, purely for their own sakes; that you can love a naked Christ when there is no hopes of worldly advantage, or promoting of self-interest in following him.

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. 206-07.

No comments: