The previous post in this series from William Spurstowe, 1666, is here
There is only one right way of salvation.
The fruition of the end is the Sabbath of all action, having this property in it, to quiet as well as incite the agent: for nothing that moves it may move, but it moves that it may rest. And yet though the end be always desirable, it is by agents who act freely and out of choice often missed and fall short of as well as enjoyed. And this sometimes it comes to pass by their dividing that means from the end, presuming they may obtain the one and yet not use the other.
With Sophism [tricky logic], Satan has cheated many out of salvation, while he has made them confident of happiness yet careless of holiness: to think that they may inn [spend time in an inn] with the righteous though they never travel with them; that they may reap glory, though they sow seed to the flesh.
Sometimes again I missed the end though they use the means, because they do not proportion the one to the other. They use the means, but it is as some patients take medicine, to stir the humors rather than to carry them away, and thereby endanger themselves rather than effect a cure.
Many through the strength of conviction yield that if they have heaven something must be done by them: but their study is rather to find out the invisible point, nature and grace part, then to abound in all manner of holy conversation [a holy manner of life], and so while they strive to do no more than what will save them they fall miserably short of what is required.
Others again miscarry in regard of the end by pitching upon false and vain means, which though labored and persisted in do not yield profit in the least. What any man wonder at his disappointment that should hunt a hare with a snail [use a snail rather than a dog while hunting rabbits]? Or to hit the mark should shoot an arrow out of a butcher’s gambrel [a metal post used by a butcher: it wouldn’t shoot an arrow]? Or to make a tree fruitful should close the body of it with costly silks instead of feeding the root with good mold? Would not this folly be rather greatly reproached by all, then his frustrated endeavors in the least be pitied by any?
And yet how many men who would brand such a person with the deepest mark of folly and madness are guilty of as great an infatuation [a crazed idea] in matters of far higher moment [far greater importance]?
Is there anything that can be of more real consequence then the eternal welfare I have an immortal soul? Can the care of anxiety be too great to consider what rocks to shun [a ship avoided rocks in the water], what paths to tread, what means to use, that may bring the soul and salvation together?
And yet behold what and ill choice of mediums do such who profess themselves to be wise make to effect it. The idolater, he after a strange manner first makes is god, and then begs his happiness from it. One part of the wood he burns, as fuel to serve him; and the other part of it he serves and dreads as a deity, falling down before it, worshiping it, and saying, “Deliver me for you are my God.”
The wretched libertine thinks it little matters what religion any man follows, so long as he is true to it walk walk according to the rules and principles of it —as if heaven were a port to which all winds would blow; and inn in which travelers that journey from any direction maybe equally received.
The Pharisaical Christian lays the stress of his salvation upon his duties, which at best I like chains of glass, more specious than strong: like flourishings in parchment, they cannot bear a fiery trial.
Oh how few are they who consider that heaven stands like a little mark and a wide field, where there are 1000 ways to err from it, and yet but one to hit it? Yea,though God has said there is but one sacrifice by which we can be perfected; but one blood by which we can be purified; but one name by which we can be saved; yet how hardly are the best drawn to trust perfectly to the grace revealed and to look from themselves to Christ, as the author and finisher of their blessedness?
To make then a right choice of the way that leads to salvation is not an act of natural wisdom, but of divine illumination and teaching of the Spirit —who enlightens the mind and inclines the will to choose the one thing which is necessary.
O therefore, Holy Father
Seeing thou has made the whole progress of the salvation
from first to last in Christ
and by Christ
Election to be in him
Adoption to be in him
Justification to be in him
Sanctification to be in him
Glorification to be in him
Grant that, whatever others do
I may never choose the candle light of reason
But the Sun of Righteousness
As the guide for my feet into the paths of life
And both in life and death say
As the blessed martyr did
None but Christ!
None but Christ!