Gurnall is known by his Christian in Complete Armour, published in three volumes, dated 1655, 1658 and 1662. It consists of sermons or lectures delivered by the author in the course of his regular ministry, in a consecutive course on Ephesians 6: 10-20. Comment, or recommendation, is perhaps needless in speaking of Gurnall’s great work. The fact that a sixth edition was published in the year the author died, 1679, is enough to show that its merits were early recognized. It is described as a magazine whence the Christian is furnished with spiritual arms for the battle, helped on with his armour, and taught the use of his weapon; together with the happy issue of the whole war. It is thus considered a classic on spiritual warfare. The work is more practical than theological; and its quaint fancy, graphic and pointed style, and its fervent religious tone render it still popular with some readers. Richard Baxter and John Flavel both thought most highly of the book. Toplady used to make copious extracts from it in his common-place book. John Newton, the converted slave trader, said that if he was confined to one book beside the Bible, he dared say Gurnall’s Christian Armour would be his choice. Cecil spent many of the last days of his life in reading it, and repeatedly expressed his admiration of it. Charles Haddon Spurgeon commented that Gurnall’s work is “peerless and priceless; every line full of wisdom. The book has been preached over scores of times and is, in our judgment, the best thought-breeder in all our library.” The writing style is akin to that of the King James Bible, so in 1988 [Banner of Truth Trust] did a revised and abridged version in contemporary English.
You can purchase the book here.
It was said by John Newton that if there was any book he would want to read beside the Bible it would be this book. In fact, Charles stated of this book: “I have often resorted to it when my own fire has been burning low, and I have seldom failed to find a glowing coal upon Gurnall’s hearth.”
Coming in at over 650 pages, nothing about this book is “easy-reading.” Originally written in the 17th-century, William Gurnall penned an in-depth treatise on the Spiritual Armor of God as found in Ephesians 6:10-20. Though the book carries a heavy flavor of Calvinistic and Armenian influences, the practical and theological depth of this book makes it a must read for anyone.
Broken into two parts, the first part deals with the encouragement to war and breaks down Ephesians 6:10 into four branches: my brethren: be strong: in the Lord: and the power of His might. One powerful statement made in regards to the second branch, be strong, really stood out to me and serves so true today.
It requires more prowess and greatness of spirit to obey God faithfully, than to command an army of men; to be a Christian than a captain.
The above quote is merely a glimpse into many nuggets of practical principles gleaned from the Word of God.
The second part of the book, dealing with Ephesians 6:11-20, delves into the armor of God and the ability to manage the war successfully. In fact, consider that statement. How many people do we know that attempt to manage the way, but unsuccessfully?
I will admit, there was some serious skimming involved while reading this book. However, I read the book over a period of a year and approached it more as a devotional for my morning studies, reading around 10-15 pages a day, sometimes less. I never found that breaking the book up into segments took away from its principles.
If you want a book that many considered to be one of the top books of its day, then check it out. The kindle edition is only .99 right now!