O that all who profess the Faith of Christ were like minded! It well becomes us all to be so minded. And if indeed we be so minded, God who knows the mind, heart, and spirit of a man will answerably account of him, and accept him, though he never be brought to the fiery trial, as if he had been brought to it, and endured it to the very uttermost: The virtues and graces of the mind sometimes are manifested in their deed or work: and sometimes lie hid in their habit, as the virtue of Martyrdom. Many may have the same prowess that Martyrs have, who are not brought to the same proof thereof. By trials, that which is in a man before God is brought forth before men: Not that it is then first manifested. Before the Devil went about to sift Job, his soul was possessed with patience, which the Lord well knew, and whereunto he gave witness: But to men it was made known by the trial of temptation. Thus we see how we may be Martyrs in the most halcyon times that can be, even such as ours are: So as the ground and glory of Martyrdom, is meet to be made known, and to be meditated on in these our days; and the rather, because we cannot be sure of an everlasting continuance of our peace, or of the Gospel of peace among us. As it is therefore needful and useful in the prime and strength of our age, when we have best health to meditate on the sundry kinds of diseases, and manifold casualties whereunto we are subject, and on death, the end of all: so in the most flourishing times of the Church, meditation on the uttermost that may be endured even to the shedding of blood for fast-holding our profession of Christ, is a most meet meditation.
Most especially is this like to be useful for you Mariners, Merchants, Merchants-factors and others, whose calling it is to go to sea in ships, and to do business in the great waters, where ye are in danger to be surprised (as this Penitent was) by the mortal enemies of Christians, or have occasion to abide and traffic among them. You may be brought to trial, and to give proof before men, whether the habit of Martyrdom be in you or no.
Be ye therefore strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
William Gouge, A Recovery from Apostacy, pp. 56-57: