Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects

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Puritan Board Doctor
Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects

Dear Sir,

As pride is a sin that abides and works in all Christians in this world, let us all then, as the servants of Christ, trusting in Him—our victorious, sin-pardoning, sin-subduing and grace-giving Master—watch and oppose the enemy whenever attacked fiercely.

1. The sin of pride is the child of unbelief. Pride springs from a disbelief of God to be what He is, in His immense and essential glory, in His infinite, underived, all-comprehending, incomprehensible self-sufficiency; and from a vain conceit of the creature's being that which indeed it is not—that the creature is something independent of God. Whereas, without His all-supporting and all-supplying hand, it would soon sink into its first nothing, and be, as in and of itself it is, a mere vacuity, less than nothing, and vanity.

2. This sin of pride which turned myriads of angels of light into legions of black devils, and that for this they were hurled down from heaven to the bottomless pit of hell.

3. Pride was the sin which cast down Adam, and in him all his posterity, even to the last, from the height of created, natural, and princely excellency, into an unsearchable depth of spiritual slavery, and the just desert of eternal misery.

4. Pride is a sin by which the whole law of God, in each of its ten commandments, is broken.

5. This sin of pride, as it springs from gospel-unbelief, is directly opposite to the gospel of Christ. Pride rejects the Savior, in whole or in part, and would rival it, in extreme vanity, with the Lord of glory. Pride would rob the Savior of His invaluable crown, who died in the sinner's room, to raise him from death to that eternal life of a seat with Him of His high and everlasting throne. Yes, pride is directly contrary to the great design of God the Father in the gospel, which is, to make Himself an everlasting name, to display the exceeding riches of His free grace, in the whole and in every part of a sinner's salvation and bliss, to the eternal praise of His own glory.

But pride—horrid pride—will not endure that the Lord should have the entire glory of His saving grace, of His free, rich, boundless grace, but sets up wretched self in Jehovah's place, to nullify, as much as in it lies, the sinner-saving, the God-glorifying, project of eternity! Pride sets up the creature as a co-partner with the Creator; a creature of time, a mere nothing, upon a level with the eternal I AM! Yes, pride excludes God—the everlasting God—and takes to a man, Jehovah's essential, eternal throne, and in the height of insolence, says, "I AM! And there is none besides me."

6. Pride renders the creature, man, though new-created in Christ, after the image of His purity, and as such, bearing upon him a fresh impress of divine glory, the most unlike to the Holy Jesus, who, by way of eminence, and to an all-surpassing excellence, was meek and lowly!

7. Pride makes a member of Christ to bear upon him the horrid image of the devil! Nothing gives such a hellish visage to a spirit of heavenly extraction as the sin of pride, the spawn of the old serpent, the infernal abomination.

8. This sin of pride, the first-born of unbelief, as springing from it, and living in it as a branch from and in the life of the root, is a pregnant monster that contains in itself, and is fertile to bring forth, a fullness of all sin.

9. Nothing like the sin of pride unfits us for divine service. It renders us incapable, so far as it prevails, of any acceptable service either to God or man.

10. That this sin of Pride, dragon-like, stands ready with open mouth to devour every heavenly birth as soon as it is brought forth. And it would destroy effectively all the saints' fruits which they by faith bring forth unto God by Christ, as soon as they appear, were they not caught up instantly by as Almighty hand unto God upon the throne of grace for security to His and His people's joy and glory.

11. Pride is that vile abomination which the Lord hates, and which He will not allow in those whom He loves. This sin of pride, if the heart is not humbled for it deeply, and if not repented sincerely, will bring down upon the children of God His fatherly chastisements severely.

12. This sin of pride is a master-thief, as it robs God of that honor which would be given Him by His people if humble, and of that joy which He takes in their humility. Pride also robs believers of their present joy and comfort.

13. Pride is a sin that militates directly against the whole of divine glory as displayed and ascribed. It turns away its lofty eye from that illustrious display of the glory of God the Father in election, of God the Son in redemption, and of God the Holy Spirit in effectual calling, and thwarts thereby, as far as it may, the great design of the God of glory, which in and by this bright display is to make us meek and lowly that we might be happy here and hereafter in being holy. Pride will not allow us to give unto the Lord in any of these respects the glory due unto His name. It robs God as well as His people, and in robbing them it aims at Him.

This horrid sin of pride will make the Lord's friends to behave as his enemies, yes, to fight against Him with His own mercies, and even with His freest, richest mercies, to act the greatest hostilities. This monster, pride—this hellish sin—will excite a man to render hatred to God for His greatest love, to wound His honor, to pierce His heart, to stab to death His infinite life, by those choicest favors which it turns into the keenest daggers, which, in his immense bounty, he bestows upon the most unworthy, and with which he crowns, unto life and immortal glory, the most rebellious subjects, who, for renewed acts of enmity, deserve to die continually, and eternally.

14. Pride is such an abominable sin that no tongue or pen can express a thousandth part of its aggravated guilt. None but the Lord Jehovah, in His understanding infinity, can search the immense depth of this great iniquity.

Then, if pride is so great a sin, and has in it such a fullness of malignity against God and man, no wonder that the people of God are tempted to it by Satan, who hates God, who hates us. Hence we may learn to admire the infinite wisdom and love of God, which devised and provided a way, by and through the death of His only Son, to save His people from this abominable sin—to save them from its dominion here, by grace—and from its very being hereafter in glory.

We hence admire the invincible strength of Jehovah's favor, in that He casts not away His chosen servants from their appointed services, though God-provoking pride makes its appearance in their best performances. We are forever amazed at that immeasurable grace which forgives this great iniquity, and continues to love us freely, notwithstanding for the Lord's choicest mercy we return enmity!

Hence we learn the infinite merit of the Redeemer's blood which atoned for this sin of an infinite guilt, and reconciled such 'children of pride', to an infinitely holy God, and which cleanses us continually from the filthy stains of this deep-dyed iniquity. And let endless wonder strike our hearts unto rising praises, and eternal ages, at and for the omnipotent grace of the Holy Spirit—Who has begun in us pride's destruction, and will perform it to our soul's perfection, and full and everlasting joy and glory.

If pride is such a great iniquity, let us . . .
bewail it bitterly;
humble ourselves before God, on account of it, deeply;
wash in the fountain set open, instantly;
and entreat forgiving and subduing grace constantly.

Again, if pride is such an abominable sin, let us set ourselves against it with all our might, or rather, to oppose and destroy it, let us be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. And since we cannot serve God as we would and should in this world, while this subtle, potent sin works within us, let us long for the nobler joys of the saints in glory; where by pride, nor by any other sin, we shall dishonor, wound, nor grieve our great and good God, the God of grace and love, no more forever.

The good will of Him that dwelt in the bush be with you, and prosper you exceedingly, until time fades into eternal glory.


Puritan Board Doctor

Do I see teaching from a women presented here?

Trevor, I read the letter and never even thought of that.

To those who might accuse her of violating 1 Timothy 2:12, she answered that her books were not intended to be read in a public setting of worship, which the text was designed to address.

She was not slow to critique theological positions she felt erroneous. For instance, she was a critic of John Wesley and his brand of Evangelical Arminianism, though her criticism was never abusive. In addition to a number of letters to Wesley, she wrote a booklet entitled Letters to the Reverend Mr. John Wesley against Perfection as Not Attainable in this Life (1743).

Should I stop reading her works?


Puritan Board Senior
To those who might accuse her of violating 1 Timothy 2:12, she answered that her books were not intended to be read in a public setting of worship, which the text was designed to address.

I think that is an adequate defense.

The direct context of 1 Tim 2:12 is public worship in the church, which 1 Tim 3:15 tells us. There is no need or virtue in attempting to be stricter than God.
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