Wednesday March 2, 2016

Cheerful Piety – Letter V

John Berridge

To the Countess of Huntington


Thursday last I received a bill conveyed by Mr. _, but presented by your ladyship, which was immediately converted into cloth for the use of lay preachers, and for their donations. I send you my hearty thanks; the Lord has promised to return it an hundredfold into your bosom, and I believe you can trust him.

I wish you had sent along with it a few minutes of your life of faith; you might then have taught me whilst you were clothing others; for, indeed, I am one of those strange folks who set up for journeymen, without knowing their business, and offer many precious wares to sale without understanding their full value. I have got a master, too, a most extraordinary person, whom I am supposed to be well acquainted with, because he employs me as a riding pedlar, to serve near forty shops in the country, besides my own parish, yet I know much less of my master than I do of his wares.

Often is my tongue describing him as the fairest of men, while my heart is painting him as the witch of Endor; and many big words I have spoken of his credit, yea, I am often beseeching others to trust him with their all, whilst my own heart has been afraid to trust him with a groat. Neither, madam, is this all; such a profound ignoramus I am, that I know nothing of myself as I ought to know. I have often mistaken rank pride for deep humility, and workings of self-love for the love of Jesus.

When my master first hired me into his service he kept a brave table, and was wondrous free of his liquor; scarce a meal passed without roast meat and claret; then my heart said: I love Jesus! and was ready to boast of it too; but at length he ordered his table to be spread with meat from above, and water out of the rock. 1 Cor. 10:3,4. This, my saucy stomach could not brook, my heart thought it pernicious fare, and my tongue said it was light food. Now, my love for Jesus disappeared, and I followed him only for the loaves and fishes; and, like a true worldling loved his larder much better than his person.

Presently my master detected me in a very dirty trick, which discovered the huge pride and amazing impudence of my heart. Hitherto I had been a stranger to the livery my master gives his servants, only I knew he had many rarities, such as pearls and diamonds, and plenty to dispose of. Rev. 3:18.

Accordingly, I begged a bracelet of him, a neck-lace, earrings, nose-bob and other pretty things which he readily parted with, being of a most exceeding generous nature. And will it not amaze you to hear, I had the vanity to fix these odd ornaments about my old face, intending to make a birth-day suit to appear in at court?

Well, to be sure, while I was thus busy about mending my old rags, and putting on my pearls, &c., in comes my master, and gives me a sudden grin, which went to the very heart of me, and said in an angry tone, Varlet, follow me! I arose and followed him, trembling, whilst he led me to the house of correction, Prov. 3:12, where he first set my feet in the stocks, stripped me of my ornaments; he then took his afflictive rods, and laid upon me very stoutly, till I cried for mercy; but he declared, he would not lay aside the rod till he had scourged every rag from my back, Isa. 1:6; and indeed he was as good as his word.

Think, then, how amazed and confounded I must be, to stand naked before him; and especially when I saw myself a leper, with an Ethiopian skin, Isa. 1:25, which the rags had hitherto concealed from my sight.

I kept on my legs, though overwhelmed with shame, till at length being almost choked with the dust and stench that came out of my rags in beating, I fell down at my master’s feet. Immediately the rod dropped from his hand, his countenance softened, and with a small still voice, he bade me look up. I did; and then I got a first sight of his robe, the garment of salvation. Isa. 61:10.

Truly, madam, it was a lovely sight; a charming robe, reaching from the shoulder down to the feet, well adapted for covering and defence, yea, excellent for beauty and glory. Exod. 28:2,40. There, prodigal Jack, he said, put this on thy back, and then thou mayest shame even an angel; it was wrought with my own hand, and dyed in my own blood: wear it and then embrace me. I thanked him and bowed.

But, madam, I must tell you, though I do not desire you to be a confidant, when my master opened his robe, he gave me a hasty glance of his person; it was divinely sweet and glorious, and withal so exceedingly humane, that I fell in love, and now, (would you think it of me, an old fool as I am, and swarthy as a negro? Sol. Song 1:5,6), nothing would content me but a wedding, Jer. 2:14; nay, I have often proposed the match to my master, who, sometimes replies, When you can leave all others I will take you. The other day, having asked him when he would take me to his bosom, he answered, When I could humbly lie at his feet. And then he has also graciously promised to set open his cellar and larder, and to keep them open for me. Isa. 33:16; Matt. 5:6, Phil. 4:13.

I am now removed out of the book of Proverbs, which I have long studied, into the book of Canticles, but am got no further than chap. 1:2, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” I seem to want nothing now but a close communion with the dear Redeemer.

The world, at times, strives to divert my attention from the chief object of my affections; but my soul is ever panting after him, yea, my heart and flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 42:1,2. Come Lord Jesus; come quickly!

The Lord strengthen your union and communion with the Prince of Peace! Amen.

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