‘Stand Therefore, Having Your Loins Girt About With Truth’
Extracts from WILLIAM GURNALL on Ephesians 6:14
What is here meant by loins that are to be girt with this girdle? Peter will help to interpret Paul: ‘Gird up the loins of your minds’ (1 Pet. 1:13). It is our minds that must wear this girdle of truth, and very fitly may our mind be compared to the loins. The loins are the chief seat of bodily strength. If the loins fail the whole body sinks; hence to ‘smite through the loins’ is a phrase to express destruction and ruin (Deut. 33:11). Weak loins, then a weak man. Thus it is with our minds; if the understanding be clear in its apprehensions of truth then he is a strong Christian, but an uncertain mind is ever accompanied by feeble spirits. So just as our loins need a girdle for support, our minds need this girdle of truth, or else we shall do nothing vigorously. Let us mark some reasons why it should be the first care of every Christian to get an established judgment in the truth.
A true love to God will make the soul inquisitive to find out what is near and dear to God. Now upon a little search we shall find that the great God sets a very high price upon the head of truth (Psa. 138:2). ‘Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.’ That is called God’s name by which he is known, every creature hath God’s name upon it; by his created works God is known, even the least pile of grass displays his name. But to his Word God hath given pre-eminence above all other things that bear his name. The Word is the glass in which we see God; it is the ‘word of truth’ because it sets out the God of truth in all his glory. Not only is his Word the extract of his thoughts and counsels which from everlasting he took up, but it is, chiefly, the most full and perfect representation that God himself could give of his own being that is his name or attributes. Although God’s glorious nature is seen in his other works it is nowhere else seen so fully as in his Word, and therefore he values it more than all his other works; he cares not much what becomes of this world and all in it, so long as he keeps his Word and saves his truth. Ere long we shall see the world in flames: ‘The heavens and earth shall pass away, but the word of the Lord endures for ever.’ When God will, he can make more such worlds as this; but he cannot make another truth, and therefore he will not lose one jot thereof. Let us mind this, and know that as we deal with ‘the word of truth’, so we deal with God himself; he that despiseth that, despiseth him. He that abandons the truth of God, renounceth the God of truth. Though men cannot come to pull God out of his throne, and deprive him of his Godhead, yet they come as near this as it is possible, when they let out their hatred against the truth; in this they do, as it were, execute God in effigy. But such is God’s care for his own glory that he will preserve that Word of truth which conveys a knowledge of his glory to men. However much Satan works to deface and disfigure the Word by unsound doctrine, God will maintain his especial care of his truth; whatever else is lost, God looks to his truth. In shipwrecks at sea, and fires by land, when men can save but little they use not to choose lumber and things of no value, but what they esteem most precious. Likewise in all the great revolutions, changes, and overturning of kingdoms, and churches also, God hath still preserved his truth. Thousands of saints’ lives have been lost, but that which the Devil hates more than all the saints; yea, which alone he hates them for (that is, the truth) this lives, and shall to triumph over his malice; and sure if truth were not very dear to God, he would not be at this cost to keep it with the blood of his saints; yea, which is more, with the blood of his Son; whose errand into the world was by life and death ‘to bear witness to the truth’ (John 18:37). In a word, in that great and dismal conflagration of heaven and earth, when the elements shall melt for heat, and the world shall come to its fatal period, then truth shall not suffer the least loss, but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever. There is reason we see, why God should so highly prize his truth, and that we that love him should have our minds girt with it.
A further powerful reason why believers ought to be established in the truth comes from the days in which we live. Never was there a more giddy age than ours! What unsettledness of judgment possesses this unconstant age! Truths to the minds of most professing believers are not as stars fixed in the heavens, but like meteors, that dance in the air; they are not as characters engraven in marble, but writ in dust, which every wind and idle breath of error defaces. If the heathen (who did not glorify God with the light of nature they had) were given over to a reprobate mind, then how much more has a land like ours, which has dishonoured God with the revealed light of Scripture truth, deserved to have been given up to believe lies and errors. A heavy curse indeed to wonder and wilder in a maze of error and yet think they are walking in the way of truth. Well, shall believers, in such days as these, remain spectators in the struggle of God’s truth? Does not a Prince expect his subjects to be in the field, to declare their loyalty, by owning his quarrel against an invading enemy? O it were shame with a witness, that any effeminate delicacy should be found amongst Christ’s servants, that they cannot break a little with their worldly rest to attend upon him and his truth! Let us get the girdle of truth close about us, that we may be able to hold fast the profession of it, even in the face of danger and death, and not be offended when persecution arises. Blessed be God, it is not yet come to that, we have truth at a cheaper rate; but how soon the market may rise, we know not. Truth is not always had at the same price. And let me tell you, there has, is, and will be a spirit of persecution in the hearts of the wicked unto the end of the world. Satan comes first with a spirit of error, and then of persecution; he first corrupts men’s minds, and then enrages hearts against those who hold the truth. It is impossible that error, being a brat of Hell, should be peaceable, it would not be like its father. That which is from beneath cannot be peaceable. How far God has suffered this sulphurous spirit of error to prevail, is so well known (or ought to be) that no apology can cover the nakedness of these unhappy times. It is therefore high time to have our girdle of truth on, yea, close girt about us. Let us mind the damning nature of error and what God has for all who fall from the truth. When we know what God has prepared for the ‘fearful’ (Rev. 21:8) and all that run away from truth’s colours (Heb. 10:39) then we will lose the fear of man. ‘Pardon me, O Emperor,’ said a godly man, ‘I do not obey your command; you threaten a prison, but God a Hell.’ Man’s wrath, when hottest, is but a temperate climate, to the wrath of the living God.
Finally let us mark that truth shall be victorious. It is great and shall prevail at last. It is the great counsel of God, and though many plots may be in the hearts of men, yet the counsel of the Lord shall stand. Sometimes I confess, the enemies to truth get the control of this lower world into their hands, and then the truth seems to go to the ground, and yet it is more than error can do to keep truth in the grave. Who loves not to be on the winning side? Choose truth for your side and you have it. News may come that truth is sick, but never that truth is dead. No, it is error that is short lived; ‘a lying tongue is but for a moment’ but truth’s age runs parallel with God’s eternity. It shall live to see the heads of all who oppose it laid in the dust. Live, did I say? Yea, reign in peace with those who now are willing to suffer with, and for it. Wouldest thou not (Christian) be one of those among the train of victors who shall attend on Christ’s triumphant chariot into the heavenly city, there to take the crown, and sit down in thy throne with those that have kept the field when Christ and his truth were militant here on earth? Thus wouldest thou but wipe away ‘in your thoughts’ the tears and blood which now cover the face of suffering truth, and present truth to thy eye, as it shall look in glory, thou couldest not but cleave to it with a love stronger than death.
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