The Consistent Christian
William Secker, 1660
by Theodore L. Cuyler
It is a wonder, that such a book should have laid in
utter obscurity for fifty years. Another wonder is that Religious
encyclopedias make no mention of the name of that genius who produced
this unique book. It will be a treasure to ministers; and will be worth
their study, if it only teaches them Mr. Secker's admirable plan of
constructing a sermon. "Firstly, the explanation of that which is
doctrinal. Secondly, the application of that which is
practical. The former is like cutting the garment out; the latter is
like putting the garment on." I am happy to commend this ingenious and
remarkable piece of tailoring; and whoever tries "the garment," will find
that it fits his own pious experience very closely.
Theodore L. Cuyler
Brooklyn, N.Y., June 1888
by Alexander McLeod
The Character described in this small volume, is unhappily a very uncommon one—the consistent Christian. It is drawn, more from the holy scriptures, than from living examples. Those people however, who are sincerely desirous of knowing and becoming such Christians, will derive advantage from a perusal of Secker's "Consistent Christian." It is written for men of plain sense, and is adapted to the taste of no 'scholarly' reader. It is a book of practical godliness. Without that show of 'learning', which is attractive to the scholar, it explains and applies the Word of God to the heart and life of man. And without formal scholarly discussion, it is replete with sentiments corresponding with the analogy of faith.
There is nothing to amuse or gratify the
'fine scholar'; neither is it calculated to comfort the 'mere religionist',
who builds his hope of immortality upon zeal for his denomination, or upon
the inward feelings of an indistinct and uncertain experience. Mr. Secker
points to Jesus as the rock upon which the soul rests, and insists upon
godly works as the only conclusive evidence, that the professor of
religion can give of his having the faith of God's elect. The style, though
destitute of taste and elegance, is clear and pointed. The attentive reader
cannot mistake the meaning of the author. We recommend the book to those who
are desirous of being humbled and sanctified, as an excellent help in their
endeavors to live to him—who died for them!
New York, 1815
Sir Edward Barkham, Knight and Baron,
and his pious wife, Frances Barkham,
You have tied me in so many silken cords of kindness, that I must live and die in these pleasant bonds! The only return I can make to you is, by pen and ink, to acknowledge myself as your debtor; persuaded that your noble minds are like that of Artaxerxes, as condescending to receive small things from others—as to grant great things himself.
I am sensible what prejudices are conceived against 'dedicatory epistles'. I presume I shall not kindle strange fire upon your altar—by informing you, that I believe you take more pleasure in godliness than in greatness. You have learned that piety is the best parentage; and that to be new born is better than to be high born.
It is reported, that in the houses of some great personages, that there are more oaths heard in one day—than prayers in one year! But in your house, there are more prayers heard in one day—than oaths in one year. God has ornamented your terrestrial crowns with many choice jewels. He has given you of the fatness of the earth—as well as of the dew of heaven! He has given you Esau's venison—as well as Jacob's blessing! He has given you the nether springs of common bounty—as well as the upper springs of special mercy.
There are four showers which have watered your garden: a fruitful posterity, an inward tranquility, a faithful society, and a grateful memory. Ah, how liberal has God's hand been towards you; and how lively should your hearts be towards him! You have a large room in many godly bosoms; but, alas, the best man's confidence on earth—is insufficient to carry you to heaven! A crack in the greatest pebble—is not equal to a flaw in the smallest diamond.
I here present you with a book, which is more practical than notional; more fit for a Christian to live upon, than for a scholar to look upon. I trust the dregs do not lie so thick in it—as to prevent your drawing clear wine from it.
I have attempted from this scripture, to draw a believer's picture, and hope you will view it with an attentive eye! May you remember, that by how much more you are made greater than others—by so much more, should you live better than others! On earth it is your chief business to seek God—and in heaven it will be your chief blessedness to see God. While some look with envy on the rich man's estate—may you look with trembling on the rich man's accounts!
You know you should not only be pictures of piety—but also patterns of piety! Then, while you are descending the hill of nature—you will also be ascending the hill of grace; and you will prove yourselves to be such jewels of mercy—as shall be locked up in the cabinet of glory!
Now that your happiness may exceed your hope;
that your little family below may compose a part of the heavenly
family above; that it may live holily with you on earth—and
eternally with God in heaven—is the earnest prayer of your humble
To serve man's necessity is charitable; to serve his convenience is warrantable; to serve his iniquity is blamable—but to serve his purity is honorable!
The design of this piece is not the ostentation of the author—but the edification of the reader. In this subject you have a breviary of religion. The works enjoined in it are weighty, and the blessings annexed to it are many. Christianity is here dressed in the white linen of purity. As grace begins in God's love to us—so it ends in our love to him. Grace both makes our comforts greater—and our crowns brighter. Those children of God who are found moving in the orbits of obedience—shall enjoy the clearest sunshine of their father's countenance!
Beloved, be sure to raise your superstructure upon an immoveable foundation; and enter into such a business, as has an immediate tendency to blessedness. It is an unparalleled mercy—to be preserved from corruption in the midst of general infection. It is far better to be innocent than penitent; to prevent the malady, than invent the remedy!
Remember, reader that we can call no time our own—but the present. How carefully should we shoot—who have but one arrow to direct at the mark! The more you enjoy the smiles of God—the more you will shine in the eyes of those saints, who judge of the trees of righteousness, by the fruits of righteousness. The enjoyment of this world is neither an evidence of divine favor—nor of divine anger. Do not judge yourself, therefore, by the gold in your bags—but by the grace of God in your heart; not by your wealth—but by your works. If religion is your vineyard to labor in—eternity shall be your bed to rest upon. Every grace that is here exercised—shall there be glorified!
It is an unseemly thing to put on the fair suit of profession—and to do the foul work of corruption. The time is approaching, when God will burn up those vines which bear only sour grapes. The gospel not only requires diligence—but it also requires excellence; that by the singularity of your actions—you may prove the sincerity of your disposition!
Christian, the race is short in which you run—but
the prize is great for which you run. I wish this gale of divinity
may speed your vessel to the haven of felicity! And when God gives in more
to me—I shall give out more to you. In the mean time, I shall deem it my
highest honor to be instrumental to others' conversion, and in this relation
I beg to subscribe myself, yours in the Lord,
"You shall know them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, you shall know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:16-23