Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Christ-Finding Soul

A friend of mine recently reviewed a book called Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins. It is a book that is part of the "Profiles in Reformed Spirituality" series (also featuring books on the piety of Jonathan Edwards, Horatius Bonar, etc). I was so interested in reading this book, based on the review, and was curious to learn more about this man - Hercules Collins - whom I had never heard of. I got the book and have been enjoying it thoroughly. This whole series is a great one - each book has a brief biography of the man whom the book is about, and then features writings by that person. I have learned a lot about Hercules Collins and the impact he had in his time. Collins was born in 1646/7 and died in 1702... he was a pastor, an author of several works, and was persecuted for his faith. He was imprisoned in Newgate prison - the most notorious prison in seventeenth-century England (the novelist Henry Fielding sought to capture the horror of imprisonment in Newgate when he termed the English prison system a "prototype of hell"). He faced his imprisonment and persecution with such strength and never wavered in his faith, and he later became quite a leader in England. I have copied out a few sections of his writings that are found in this book that I want to share, that I found particularly inspiring and convicting. So the next few posts will be these selections. If you want to get a great overview of the book, please go on over to Michael Dewalt's blog and read his review. And I hope you enjoy these bits of Collins' writings!

The Christ-finding Soul

It is the Christ-finding soul which is the life-finding soul. Hold Christ, and thou holdest all good in him,… [for] “Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). He is all because all good is comprehended in him, he is all in all. All in the fullness of all, for if we have all earthly enjoyments, and have not him, we have nothing comparatively, nothing with a blessing, for “the curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked” (Proverbs 3:33). For one to say, “I have these goods, these houses, these ships, this gold and silver, these dainties, this rich attire, this earthly honour,” but, I cannot say, “I have Christ, grace, holiness,” this may damp (that is, check or restrain) all. For riches deliver not from death nor wrath (see Proverbs 11:4). For to have our portion in this life, is a poor portion. But a holy soul can say, “Thou art my portion, O Lord, and though I have but little earthly good, having Christ, I have all equivalently and comprehensively”…
If we have but poor clothing, a poor house, poor furniture, poor fare, poor friends, yet if we can say, “This I have, and Christ, grace, and content with this condition, peace in my conscience,” I lie down upon my bed in sweet peace and communion with God…
Yea, life and death is yours. If you live, it is to God, or die, it is to God (see Romans 14:7-8). You shall be happy living and happy dying… Things present and things to come, all is yours, for godliness hath the “promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). All things in this life, all losses and crosses, shall work for their good in this life (Romans 8:28), in order to a fitting them for life eternal.
Hold fast this Christ which hath so much good joined with him, hold him fast with the spouse (see Song of Solomon 3:4), and as Jacob held fast the Angel and would not let him go until he blest him, so part not thou with this blessed Object, until he blesses thee with the blessings of heaven and the everlasting hills. Part with all before ye part with him…The mariner in a storm will cast all over-board to lighten his ship and save his life. Oh this world will sink you in an hour of temptation, if it lieth too near your hearts. Cast away all, shake off all, rather than lose a Christ, and an immortal soul, which once lost is irrecoverable (see Matthew 16:26).

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