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With Christ My Savior



LUKE 9. 23, 24. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross daily and follow me: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.



I Take the Love of God and Self-denial to be the sum of all saving Grace and Religion; the first of the Positive part, & the second of the Appositive or Negative part: And I judge of the measure of my own and all other men’s true piety by these two. And it is the rarity of these two which assured me of the rarity of sincere Godliness. O how much selfishness and how little Love of God, are too often found among those contenders for, supposed, true Doctrine, true Worship, true Discipline, and the true Church! who can say that their Zeal for these things, doth eat up themselves, their Charity, their Peaceableness, and their Brethren! The same men that will not abate an opinion, a formality, a singularity, for the Churches Peace and Concord, or for the interest of Love, and the healing of our wounds, will as hardly abate a jot of their Wealth, their worldly honour, their carnal interest, or selfish wills; which shows that their zeal and seeming Orthodoxies and wisdom (as in them) is not from above but from beneath, Jam. 3. 15, 16, 17.

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O that men knew what hearts-ease self-denial bringeth, by mortifying all that corrupted and troubled the souls of sinners! And if that part of Religion which seemed hardest & harshest be so sweet, what is our Love and Delight in God, but the foretaste of Heaven itself?

But the soul is seldom fit to relish this Doctrine aright, till some special providence or conviction has made all the world notoriously insufficient for our relief. But he that in or after sharp affliction will still be selfish in a predominant degree is next to hopeless. I remember that one accounted of eminent wisdom, a little before he forsook the Land of his Nativity, made this the first word that ever he spoke to me, [I thank you especially for your Book of Self-denial:] And when we are going out of the world, we shall all be much fitter to relish and understand the Doctrine of Self-denial, than now we are.

But though undeniable reason thus presented, by the grace of God, do much cure some particular souls, yet alas, the World, the most of the Church visible & the Land is so far uncured, as that selfishness still triumphed over our innocence, piety and peace, and seemed to deride our hopes of remedy. Were Profession as rare as true Self-denial, I should be of their mind who reduce the Church into a much narrower room than either the Roman, the National, the Presbyterian, or Independent. Alas, how few are those true Believers, whose inordinate SELF-LOVE, SELF-CONCEITEDNESS, SELF-WILL, and SELF-SEEKING are truly conquered by FAITH, and turned into the LOVE of GOD as GOD, and of the PUBLIC GOOD, and of their NEIGHBOUR, as themselves; and into a HUMBLED UNDERSTANDING conscious of its Ignorance; and into a humbled submissive WILL, which is more disposed to follow than to lead, and to obey than to be Imperious and domineer; and into a LIFE entirely devoted to God and to the Common good?

But this complaint was made before: But what we most feel, we are most inclined to utter; and to press that on others, which we find most necessary to ourselves. And I must say, that of all the Books which I have written, I peruse none so often for the use of my own soul in its daily work, as my Life of Faith, and this of Self-denial, and the last part of the Saints Rest.

One little thing I will here tell the Reader, that no Book of mine (except the two first) had ever the word [Dedicatory] joined to the Epistle by my consent, but I have very oft prohibited it in vain; whether by the oblivion or self-conceit of the Booksellers or the Printers I cannot tell.

Not that I condemn the word in others, but that my Epistles were still of so different an importance, as did require a different Title.

R. B.

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