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How an eighteenth-century preacher dedicated his life to Christ.
On 4th December 1752, Anglican preacher William Grimshaw (1708-66), mightily used of God in the eighteenth century for the advancement of Christ’s gospel, drew up a covenant dedicating himself to the cause of the Lord.
Taken from J.C. Ryle’s 1885 tome ‘Christian Leaders of the 18th Century’, the “following disconnected extracts will give some idea of it”.
“Eternal and unchangeable Jehovah! Thou great Creator of heaven and earth, and adorable Lord of angels and men! I desire with the deepest humiliation and abasement of soul to fall down and this time in thine awful presence, and earnestly pray that thou wilt penetrate my heart with a suitable sense of thine unutterable and inconceivable glories...
“I know that through Jesus, the Son of thy love, thou condescendest to visit sinful mortals, and to allow their approach to thee and this covenant intercourse with thee. Nay, I know that the scheme and plan are entirely thine own, and that thou hast graciously sent to propose it unto me, as none untaught by thee could have been able to join it, or inclined to embrace it, even when actually proposed...
“To thee, therefore, do I now come, invited by thy love, and trusting his righteousness alone, laying myself at thy feet with shame and confusion of face, and smiting on my breast, saying with the publican, God be merciful to me a sinner!
“I acknowledge, O Lord, that I have been a great transgressor. My sins have reached unto heaven and mine iniquities have been lifted up unto the skies. My base corruptions and lusts have numberless ways wrought to bring forth fruit unto death, and if thou wert extreme to mark what I have done amiss, I could never abide it.
“But thou hast graciously called me to return unto thee, though I am a prodigal son and a backsliding child. Behold, therefore, I solemnly come before thee. O my Lord, I am convinced of my sin and my folly. Thou knowest, O Lord, I solemnly covenanted with thee in the year 1738.
“And now, once more and forever, I most solemnly give up, devote and resign all I am, spirit, soul and body to thee, and to thy pleasure and commands in Christ Jesus my Saviour, this 4th of December 1752; sensible of my vileness and unworthiness, but yet sensible that I am thy pardoned, justified, and regenerated child in the spirit and blood of my dear and precious Saviour, Jesus Christ, by clear experience...
“Glory be to thee, O my Triune God! Permit me to repeat and renew my covenant with thee. I desire and resolve to be wholly and forever thine. Blessed God, I most solemnly surrender myself unto thee. Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth! I avouch this day the Lord to be my God, Father, Saviour, and portion forever. I am one of his covenant children forever.
“Record, O eternal Lord, in thy book of remembrance that henceforth I am thine forever. From this day I solemnly renounce all former lords –world, flesh, and devil- in thy name. No more, directly or indirectly, will I obey them. I renounced them many years ago, and I renounce them forever. This day I give up myself to thee, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto thee; which I know is my reasonable service.
“To thee I consecrate all my worldly possessions; in thy service I desire and purpose to spend all my time, desiring thee to teach me to spend every moment of it to thy glory and the setting forth of thy praise, in every station and relation of life I am now or may hereafter be in.
And I earnestly pray that whatever influence thou mayest in any wise give me over others, thou wouldest give me strength and courage to exert it to the utmost to thy glory, resolving not only in myself to do it, but that all others, so far as I can rationally and properly influence them, shall serve the Lord.
“In that cause would I, O Lord, steadfastly persevere to my last breath, steadfastly praying that every day of my life may supply the defects and correct the irregularities of the former; and that by divine grace I may be enabled not only in that happy way to hold on, but to grow daily more active in it.
“Nor do I only consecrate all I have to thy service, but I also most humbly resign and submit to thy holy and sovereign will all that I have. I leave, O Lord, to thy management and direction all that I possess and all I wish, and set every enjoyment or interest before thee to be disposed of as thou pleasest.
“Continue or remove what thou hast given me, bestow or refuse what I imagine I want, as thou seest good; and though I dare not say I will never repine, yet I hope I may say I will labour not only to submit but to consent to them and praise thee for them; contentedly resolving, in all thy appointments, my will into thine; esteeming myself as nothing, and thee, O God, as the great Eternal All, whose word shall determine, and whose power shall order all things in the world...
“Dispose my affairs, O God, in a manner which may be wholly subservient to thy glory and my own true happiness; and when I have done, borne, and endured thy will upon earth, call me home at what time and in what manner thou pleasest.
“Only grant that in my dying moments, and the near approach of eternity, I may remember this my engagement to thee, and my employ my latest breath in thy service; and do thou, when thou seest me in the agonies of death, remember this covenant too, though I should be incapable of recollecting it.
Look down upon me, O Lord, thy languishing, dying child; place thine everlasting arms underneath my head; put strength and confidence into my departing spirit, and receive it to the embrace of thine everlasting love...
“And when I am thus numbered with the dead and all the interests of mortality are over with me forever, if this solemn memorial should fall into the hands of any surviving friends or relations, may it be the means of making serious impressions on their minds, and may they read it not only as my language, but as their own, and learn to fear the Lord my God, and with me to put their trust under the shadow of his wings for time and for eternity...
“I solemnly subscribe this dedication of myself to the ever-blessed Triune God, in the presence of angels and all invisible spectators, this fourth day of December, 1752.”