Abraham Booth on Holiness and Perseverance

February 20, 2010 by Nathan Finn

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Abraham Booth was a Particular Baptist pastor in London from 1769-1806 and a key evangelical leader in England. He was a respected pastor-theologian, a staunch advocate for foreign missions, a strong proponent of theological education, a firm defender of Baptist distinctives, and a fierce and vocal opponent of the slave trade. In Booth’s most famous book, The Reign of Grace, he offers a broadside against those who claim some conversion experience but do not value personal holiness and gospel humility. It remains a timely word more than two centuries after the book first appeared:

Are you a child of God and an heir of the kingdom? Endeavour, by a conscientious attendance on all the public means of grace, and by maintaining communion with your heavenly Father in every private duty, to make a swift progress in vital religion, and in real holiness; remembering, that holiness is the health, the beauty, and the glory of your immortal mind. Seek after it, therefore, as a divine privilege, and as a heavenly blessing.-Watch and pray against the insurrections of indwelling sin, the solicitations of worldly pleasure, and the assaults of Satan’s temptations. Watch, especially, against spiritual pride and carnal security. As to the former, rejoice not in your knowledge, or gifts, or inherent excellencies; no, nor yet in your Christian experiences. Be thankful for them, but put them not into the place of Christ, or the word of his grace; so as to make them the ground of your present confidence or the source of your future comfort. For so to do, is not to rely on the promise of God, and to live by faith in Jesus Christ; but to admire your own accomplishments, by which you differ from other men, and to live upon your own frames. The consequence of which most commonly is, either pharisaical pride, imagining ourselves to be better than others; or desponding fears, as if, when our frames are flat and our spirits languid, there were no salvation for us. The peace and comfort of such professors must be uncertain to the last degree.- But as a guilty, perishing sinner; as having no recommendation, nor any encouragement, to believe in Jesus or to look for salvation by him, but what is contained in the work of grace: depend upon him, live by him. The more you behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the more will you see of your own vileness. The more you grow in real holiness, the more sensible you will be of the power of your own corruptions, and of the imperfections attending all your duties. You will be more and more convinced, that if the gospel did not warrant your dependence on Christ, under the character of a sinner, you could not have hope, even after ever so long and zealous a profession of religion. You should live under a continual remembrance, that you are still an unworthy, a guilty, a damnable creature; but accepted in Christ, and freed from every curse. That will keep you truly humble, and provoke to self-abhorence; this will make you really happy, and excite to praise and duty.

Abraham Booth, The Reign of Grace from Its Rise to Its Consummation, pp. 331-32.

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