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XLV. To JOHN LENNOX, Laird of Catty

MUCH HONORED SIR, — Grace, mercy, and peace be to you. — I long to hear how your soul prospereth. I have that confidence that your soul mindeth Christ and salvation. I beseech you, in the Lord, to give more pains and diligence to fetch heaven than the country-sort of lazy professors, who think their own faith and their own godliness, because it is their own, best; and content themselves with a cold rife custom and course, with a resolution to summer and winter in that sort of profession which the multitude and the times favor most; and are still shaping and clipping and carving their faith, according as it may best stand with their summer sun and a whole skin; and so breathe out hot and cold in God’s matters, according to the course of the times. This is their compass which they sail towards heaven by, instead of a better. Worthy and dear Sir, separate yourself from such, and bend yourself to the utmost of your strength and breath, in running fast for salvation; and, in taking Christ’s kingdom, use violence. It cost Christ and all His followers sharp showers and hot sweats, see they won to the top of the mountain; but still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside when we are sleeping, and lying down with us that we might go to heaven in warm clothes. But all that came there found wet feet by the way, and sharp storms that did take the hide off their face, and found tos and fros and ups and downs, and many enemies by the way.

It is impossible that a man can take his lusts to heaven with him; such wares as these will not be welcome there. Oh, how loath are we to forego our packalds and burdens, that hinder us to run our race with patience! It is no small work to displease and anger nature, that we may please God. Oh, if it be hard to win one foot, or half an inch, out of our own will, out of our own wit, out of our own ease and worldly lusts (and so to deny ourself, and to say, ‘It is not I but Christ, not I but grace, not I but God’s glory, not I but God’s love constraining me, not I but the Lord’s word, not I but Christ’s commanding power as King in me!’), oh, what pains, and what a death it is to nature, to turn me, myself, my lust, my ease, my credit, over into, ‘My Lord, my Savior, my King, and my God, my Lord’s will, my Lord’s grace!’ But, alas! that idol, myself, is the master idol we all bow to. What made Eve miscarry? And what hurried her headlong upon the forbidden fruit, but that wretched thing herself? What drew that brother-murderer to kill Abel? That wild himself. What drove the old world on to corrupt their ways? Who, but themselves, and their own pleasure? What was the cause of Solomon’s falling into idolatry and multiplying of strange wives? What, but himself, whom he would rather pleasure than God? What was the hook that took David and snared him first in adultery, but his self-lust? and then in murder, but his self-credit and self-honour? What led Peter on to deny his Lord? Was it not a piece of himself, and self-love to a whole skin? What made Judas sell his Master for thirty pieces of money, but a piece of self-love, idolizing of avaricious self? What made Demas to go off the way of the Gospel, to embrace this present world? Even self-love and love of gain for himself. Every man blameth the devil for his sins; but the great devil, the house-devil of every man, that lieth and eateth in every man’s bosom, is that idol that killeth all, himself. Blessed are they who can deny themselves, and put Christ in the room of themselves. O sweet word! (Gal. 2.1O) ‘I live no more, but Christ liveth in me!’ Worthy Sir, pardon this my freedom of love. God is my witness, that it is out of an earnest desire after your soul’s eternal welfare, that I use this freedom of speech. Your sun, I know, is lower, and your sun-setting and evening sky nearer, than when I saw you last: strive to end your task before night, and to make Christ yourself, and to acquaint your heart and your love with the Lord. Sir, I remember you in my prayers to the Lord, according to my promise: help me with your prayers, that our Lord would be pleased to bring me amongst you again, with the Gospel of Christ. Grace, grace, be with you.


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