"YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN"
~100 WELL - KNOWN
MEN IN ALL
RANKS OF LIFE
A Eccentric English Vicar
JOHN BERRIDGE, M.A., of Clare Hall, Cambridge,
friend of Wesley and Whitefield, wrote a letter which
"My desire and intention in this letter is to inform
you what the Lord has lately done for my soul. In order
to do this, it may be needful to give a little previous infor-
mation of my manner of life, from my youth up to the
"When I was about the age of 14, God was pleased to
show me that I was a sinner, and that I must be "born
again" before I could enter into His kingdom. Accordingly
I betook myself to reading, praying, and watching, and
was enabled thereby to make some progress, as I flattered
myself, in religion. In this manner I went on, though
not always with the same diligence, till about a year ago.
I thought myself on the right way to Heaven, though as
yet I was wholly out of the way, and imagined I was
traveling toward Zion, though I had never set my face
thitherward. Indeed, God would have shown me that I
was wrong, by not owning my ministry; but I paid no
regard to this for a long time, imputing my want of suc-
cess to the naughty hearts of my hearers, and not to my
own naughty and unscriptural doctrine.
"You may ask, perhaps, What was my doctrine?
Why, it was the doctrine that every man naturally holds
whilst he continues in an unregenerate state, that we are
to be justified partly by our faith and partly by our works.
This doctrine I preached for six years at a curacy which I
served from college, and though I took some extraordinary
pains, and pressed sanctification very earnestly, yet the
people continued unsanctified as before, and not one soul
was brought to Christ. There was, indeed, a little more
of the form of religion in the parish, but not anything of
"Now some secret misgivings arose in my mind that I
was not right myself. (This happened about Christmas,
1755.) These misgivings grew stronger, and at last very
painful. After about ten days, as I was sitting in my
house one morning and musing on a text of Scripture, the
following words were darted into my mind, and seemed
indeed like a voice from Heaven: Cease from thine own
works. Before I heard these words my mind was in a
very unusual calm; but as soon as I heard them my soul
was in a tempest directly, and tears flowed from my eyes
like a torrent. The scales fell from my eyes immediately,
and now I clearly saw the rock I had been splitting on for
nearly thirty years.
"Do you ask what this rock was? It was some secret
reliance on my own works for salvation. Doing, doing,
doing. I had hoped to be saved partly in my own name,
and partly in Christ's Name, partly through my own
works, and partly through Christ's mercies; though we are
told we are saved through faith, not of works (Eph.
2. 8, 9). I hoped to make myself acceptable to God
partly through my own good works; though we are told
we are accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1. 6). I hoped to
make my peace with God partly through my own obedience
to the law; though I am told that peace is only to be had
by faith (Rom. 5. 1). I hoped to make myself a child of
God by sanctification; though we are told we are made the
children of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3. 26).
"Thus I stumbled and fell. In short, to use a homely
similitude, I put the justice of God into one scale, and
as many good works of my own as I could into the other;
and when I found, as I always did, my own good works
not being a balance to the Divine justice, I then threw in
Christ as a makeweight. And this every one really does,
who hopes for salvation partly by doing what he can for
himself, and relying on Christ for the rest. At last when,
in obedience to the Heavenly vision, I ceased from [my]
own works entirely, cast them all aside as filthy rags[,]
and rested alone in the finished work (John 19. 30) of the
Redeemer, did I learn the true meaning of hav[ing] peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1)."
It is not surprising that this eccentric man should
write his own epitaph, and we venture to quote it in full.
THE EARTHLY REMAINS OF
LATE VIC. OF EVERTON,
AND AN ITINERANT SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST,
WHO LOVED HIS MASTER AND HIS WORK,
AND AFTER RUNNING ON HIS ERRANDS MANY YEARS
WAS CALLED UP TO WAIT ON HIM ABOVE.
Art thou born again?
No salvation without a New Birth!
I was born in sin, February, 1716.
Remaining ignorant of my fallen state till 1730.
Living proudly on faith and works for salvation till 1754.
Was admitted to Everton Vic., 1751.
Fled to Jesus alone for refuge, 1756.
Fell asleep in Christ, Jan. 22, 1793.
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