How may one do to offer violence to himself in mortifying the flesh? 1. Withdraw the fuel that may make lust burn. Avoid all temptations. Take heed of that which doth nourish sin. He who would suppress the gout or stone, avoids those meats which are noxious. They who pray that they may not be led into temptation, must not lead themselves into temptation. 2. Fight against fleshly lusts with spiritual weapons: faith and prayer. The best way to combat with sin is, upon our knees.
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER, AND OF THE SEED by Thomas Taylor (1576-1632)
Those must needs fall off who never received the Word purely, for itself, but for other sinister respects; as either of glory and praise, if they see the profession in credit; or for profit, so long as they may gather with Christ and be gainers by him: they would stand on Mount Tabor with Christ, and while he is in his glory, Oh it is good being here: but are loth to go with him to Mount Calvary. Or they receive it only so far as may stand with their ease, delicacy, and slothfulness, but will put themselves to no hardness at all. Now all these that love themselves better than their Religion, must needs fail when the ends fail that put them on their profession. He that professeth for praise of men, when the world, being inconstant, withdraws her applause, he is gone: God’s Word shall have no further credit with him, than it hath from men.
This is the chapter on the seed that fell among the thorns.
A number of prayers edited and included in the Valley of Vision, by Arthur Bennett, are taken from The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul – Phillip Doddridge. Here are the actual unedited prayers from the book, but in more modern English. Sample, ”
“Blessed Jesus, is it indeed thus? Is it not the fiction of the human mind? Surely it is not! What human mind could have invented or conceived it? It is a plain, a certain fact, that thou didst leave the magnificence and joy of the heavenly world in compassion to such a wretch as I! Oh! hadst thou from that height of dignity and felicity only looked down upon me for one moment, and sent some gracious word to me for my direction and comfort, even by the least of thy servants, justly might I have prostrated myself in grateful admiration, and have kissed ‘the very footsteps’ of him ‘that published the salvation.’
You need not tell me there is no God for I know there is one, and that I am in His presence! You need not tell me there is no hell. I feel myself already slipping. Wretches, cease your idle talk about there being hope for me! I know I am lost forever! Oh, that fire! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell!
Francis Newport, 1st Earl of Bradford PC (23 February 1620 – 19 September 1708)
Such followers of Christ as would be armed, indeed, ought to resolve that they will meet with, not one, but many trials of all sorts, and that
they may be essayed with the utmost violence that men’s malice can invent, or their power in church or state can reach, either in an orderly or a tumultuous way; therefore doth he forewarn them of a variety of particular trials, and that in the greatest extremity.
Commentary on John 16:2
The Geneva Bible is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into English, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. It was the primary Bible of 16th century English Protestantism. (Wiki)
Souls are wont to be brought into trouble before God bestows true hope and comfort. The corrupt hearts of men naturally incline to stupidity and senselessness before God comes with the awakening influences of his Spirit. They are quiet and secure. They have no true comfort and hope, and yet they are quiet; they are at ease. They are in miserable slavery, and yet seek not a remedy.
From the work of Henry Gouger, Two Years Imprisonment in a Burman Prison, for the year 1825.
My dear mother's fears respecting my attention to religions concerns were, alas but too well founded. Infatuated by the pleasures and amusements which this place affords, and which took the more powerful hold on my senses... Life of Edward Payson
He was infinitely and insatiably greedy of the conversion of souls wherein he had no small success in the time of his ministry ; And to this end, he poured out his very heart in prayer and preaching ; he imparted not the gospel only, but his own soul. His supplications, and his exhortations, many times were so affectionate, so full of holy zeal, life, and vigour, that they quite overcame his hearers: he melted
over them, so that he thawed and mollified, and sometimes
dissolved the hardest hearts. But while he melted thus, he
wasted, and at last consumed himself. Thus he did wear himself away, and gave light and heat to others.