Monday, January 12, 2009

The Worst of Times Call For The Best of Christians

As I consider the times in which we live, this counsel from Puritan William Jenkyn seems apropos.

William Jenkyn, An Exposition Upon the Epistle of Jude, pp. 73, 298:

A Christian should be best when the times are worst, and get good by others' sins. When others contend most against, we should most contend for the faith. Of the opposition of the truth by others, we should make a spiritual advantage. As God suffers nothing whereby he gets not glory, so a Christian should observe nothing whereby he gets not some good. As the faint and lukewarm assistance of friends, so the fierce and furious opposition of enemies, should make his contention for the truth the more holily vehement. It was not only the expression of a gracious heart, but of such a one in a very gracious temper, that because the wicked had made void God's law, therefore did he love his commandments above gold, Psal. cxix.127.
The faithful must be holy in unholy times. Enoch in a corrupt age walked with God, and kept close to him when most left him. Saints must show that they are not of the world, when they are in it; they must not be conformed to the world, nor run with the world "to the excess of riot," 1 Pet. iv.4. As their righteousness must exceed the righteousness of hypocrites, so must it condemn the unrighteousness of the profane; the rest of their time they should not live to the lusts of men, but to the will of God; they are forbidden to follow a multitude to do evil, to go "in the way of evil men," Prov. iv.14, to have "fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," Eph. v.11. Elijiah was zealous for God when he scarce could discern any to join with him. As Noah was saved by God when the earth was overwhelmed with an inundation of water, so did he walk with God when it was overspread with an inundation of wickedness. When David was looked upon as a monster, Isaiah and the faithful as wonders, yet they retained their integrity, Psal. lxxi.7; Isa. viii.18; Jer. xx.7: when the wicked have almost made void the law, even then, nay therefore, must the godly love God's commandments, and esteem all his "precepts concerning all things to be right," Psal. cxix.126-128. God is a Friend, a Father; and as this Friend loves us in the day of adversity, so should he be beloved in the day when his honour suffers. May not God say to those who temporize with his enemies for fear, or hope, Is this your kindness to your Friend? Is there any time wherein God hath left or forsaken us, and should there be any wherein we are weary of walking with God? Is God our Father, and can we endure with a tame patience to see him dishonoured? It is reported of a son, who though before dumb, yet seeing enemies about to kill his father, presently cried out, Kill not my father. The sons of God must glorify their Father, and shine as lights in a crooked and perverse nation, Phil. ii.15. Nor can the truth, much less the strength of grace, or the power of godliness, ever be manifested, unless it appears in times of opposition: there is no power seen, where there are no difficulties contended with. Wherein doth the life of grace differ from death in sin, if Christians are carried down the unholy stream of their times? Grace will ever conflict with that sin, either in the soul or the world, which it is not able to conquer; it will condemn it, though it cannot execute it. And what more unreasonable, lastly, than for us to mete to God with one measure, and to expect that he should mete to us with another? How can we expect that he should love us in that day wherein he will leave the most, if we will not walk with him in this day when most forsake him? Study then, O saints, to give the name of God reparations for all the disgrace which wicked men cast upon it. Discover the true nobleness of your Christian spirit, and of minds spiritually generous, by gathering vigour and growing invincible, from the very oppositions of the wicked, and the impieties of your times.

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