Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter III

John Berridge

To Mr. B.

Dear Friend,

After having been so free already, as to disclose to you the secrets of my own heart, you will not think it strange if I subjoin a third letter.

There is one point more that deserves animadverting upon, and that is, speculative sins, which I believe are too often overlooked by many professors, or at least very superficially regarded. If it does not amount to an outward act it is too often passed over with silence; but truly I think there may be a committing adultery in the heart. Matt. 5:28. So the statute law of heaven runs: it is out of the heart proceeds all evil. Mark 7:21. The seeds of it are sown there, and it takes root and grows, blossoms, buds, and brings forth fruit in the soul; and no eye but Omniscience sees it.

How often have speculative evils been acted in the heart! The heart has been both the adulterer and the adulteress. Sin has been begotten, nursed, and bred up, and acted its part upon the theatre of the heart. How often have sinful objects been represented to the fancy by speculation! Do I speak the experience of others, or only my own? The heart can bring forth, dress up, and act the part of anything; and there has been not only an interview but an intercourse, and sinful familiarity.

There has been many a mortal blow given by revenge in the heart. This is speculative murder. And there has been coveting a neighbour’s estate, &c.; and what is this but speculative robbery? So spiritual pride shows itself in many branches. When I have been enlarged in prayer how have pride and the devil clapped me on the back and said, Well done; you have been very great today! How abominable is this, to attribute an enlarged frame in any respect, to self! How often have I been pleased with flowery words and fluency in prayer, more than spirituality. Again, how often have worldly objects and creature comforts been set up in the heart! and have not the affections too frequently bowed down to them! Or when a near relation, or a beloved prattling child, it may be, has been called away by the Superior Owner, how often has the heart whispered and the tongue been ready to blab out, You have taken away my gods, and what have I more? What is this but speculative idolatry?

How have pride and covetousness worked themselves up sometimes into a coach and six; aye, into a palace. Really, sir, I am ashamed of these inward masquerades. The heart will turn into any shape. Well may it be said to be “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” This is still a black picture, but in a distant prospect. I sometimes hope that at the closing hour, when I shall exchange worlds, Jesus will help me to lay hold of every sinful serpent that has long twisted round my soul, and keeps me company all my pilgrimages; and enable me by the hand of faith to hold them up, crying out, Behold the heads of traitors, which shall never come to life again! Oh, what a joyful shout shall I give when I shall feel these vermin drop off!

At times I am ready to hope the gloomy territories of the grave are almost ready for me, that I may lay down this body of sin upon the block for everlasting execution. Oh, when shall these clogs and fetters be knocked off, and the dark and gloomy walks of this vale of tears be turned into bright and peaceful realms!

Dear sir, these have been black letters for your aspiring soul to read, though I do not question but you have found something of these combats yourself, and therefore can pity and sympathize with a poor, weak, wounded, shall I call myself brother soldier. You have your enemies, I doubt not, and can trample upon them. I congratulate you on your victory, though not yet a completeconquest, through the Captain of your salvation. I would fain bear a part in shouting, Salvation and honour, glory and power, to the conquering Saviour. Rev. 5:13. He rode triumphantly to glory after he had obtained a complete conquest over sin, death and hell, and dragged the monster at his chariot wheels: he then gave Satan such a blow that he has not recovered since, and never will.

From hence I fetch all my hope. If ever I am saved, it will be, I am well assured, by mere grace, and almighty, all-conquering power. Ephes. 2:8. Alas! what has such a depraved, polluted, and corrupted miscreant as I to reckon upon, why mercy and grace should be exerted in my salvation, but free, rich, sovereign grace? This will be the topic of the eternal songs of redeemed souls. And what sir, if such a poor, weak, weather-beaten, tossed, tempted, and almost shipwrecked vessel as I should at last land safely on the shore of everlasting rest? Sure you would strike up a new song to see me harbour in the heavenly port, if you are there before me. And what if such a poor, weak stripling as I should come off conqueror, and more than so, over an armada of enemies from sin, death, and hell! And what if you should meet me in the peaceful realms above, with my robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and a palm of victory in my hand!

Perhaps you may know me by my scars; but even every one of these will be a set-off to the freeness, sovereignty, and unchangeableness of the love of God, the worth and efficacy of the dear Redeemer’s merits, and the power and prevalency of the Almighty and ever-blessed Spirit. The burden of my song will be, Grace! Grace! if ever I reach the heights of Zion. Eph. 1:6.

I bless the Lord since the first essay I wrote to you: I have found some new recruits from the inexhaustible magazine; the brave General has got the field, and is keeping off the enemy, and I trust has given a renewed blow to all the confederate troops that are in league against me; and I firmly believe I shall be an overcomer through the blood of the Lamb. As I have experienced some special advantage from the study of the old man, and all his accursed artillery, with the powers of the infernal kingdom, and this world, with all its bewitching sweets, I would earnestly recommend soul study, devil study, and the snares of the world study to every Christian friend. Commune with your own heart daily (Psalm 4:4), beware of Satan’s devices, and be ever on the watch, lest you enter into temptation; for though the spirit may be willing the flesh is weak. Matt. 26:41.

But it may be, dear sir, while I have been giving you some of the living sorrows of my heart I have ripped it open, in order to examine the entrails of the soul with more freedom than you have met with before; but either I have a worse heart than any other or there are many counterparts in the experience of others. Indeed, I sometimes think I am by myself; and if ever I get to heaven, I shall be truly a wonder there. Psalm 71:7. I shall be as an eternal monument set up to the honour of divine grace, and the inscription upon me will be this: A black, hellish brand, plucked out of the burning; now made, through rich mercy, a pillar to stand for ever in the temple of God.

Wishing you the prosperous gales of the divine Spirit, and all success in your sacred work,

I am, dear sir,

Sincerely and repeatedly yours,

John Berridge.

Wednesday June 22, 2016

The Happy Man

By Lachlan Macenzie

Monday May 2, 2016

Be Still My Soul

By Katharina von Schlegel, b. 1697

Saturday March 12, 2016

What the Reformation Really Means


Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Memoir

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter I

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter II

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter III

By John Berridge

Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter IV

By John Berridge