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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marshall, Walter 1628-1680 ..............No Portrait

Walter Marshall was born in 1628 at Bishops Wearmouth in Durham, England. At age eleven, he went to study at Winchester College. He then became a fellow at New College, Oxford, from 1648 to 1657. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1652. Two years later, he was approved for the living of Fawley, Hampshire. In 1656, he was appointed to the vicarage of Hursley, Hampshire, four miles from Winchester. From 1657 to 1661, he served as a fellow at Winchester College. He married and had two daughters.
When the Act of Uniformity passed in 1662, ministers of the Church of England were asked to give proof of Episcopal ordination and their conformity to the Book of Common Prayer. Like hundreds of his Puritan colleagues, Marshall decided on the basis of conscience not to conform. He and other Nonconformists were ejected from their parishes on St. Bartholomew’s Day, August 24, 1662. In the preface to Marshall’s work on sanctification, a friend said, “He was put under the Bartholomew Bushel with near two thousand more lights whose illumination made the land a Goshen.”
Soon after that, Marshall was installed as minister of an Independent congregation at Gosport, Hampshire, where he served the last eighteen years of his life. At Gosport, he wrote a book on sanctification, titling it Gospel Mystery from Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 3:16: “Great is the mystery of godliness.”
During this time, Marshall experienced bouts of deep spiritual depression. For years he sought holiness and peace. He read Richard Baxter extensively, then questioned Baxter, who said that Marshall had taken him too legalistically. He went to Thomas Goodwin next, telling him about the sins that weighed heavily on his conscience. Goodwin’s response was that Marshall had forgotten to mention the greatest sin of all: not believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins and the sanctifying of his nature.
Marshall began to focus more on studying and preaching Christ. He realized that he had been trying to make personal righteousness the basis of his dealings with God and the ground of his peace. Consequently, he had not submitted to the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. When he focused upon Christ, he found holiness, peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification was the fruit of that experience. Of this book, James Hervey stated that if he were banished to a desert island and could take only a Bible and two other books, Marshall’s classic would be one of them.
Marshall’s preaching was edifying, though it did not win him great recognition. Still, he preached in many places in the last years of his life, including Winchester, Alton, Winton, Taunton, and Crewekerne.
Marshall died at Gosport in 1680. Before he died, he said to his visitors, “I die in the full persuasion of the truth, and in the comfort of that doctrine which I have preached to you.” He then offered his last words, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Samuel Tomlyns of Andover preached at Marshall’s funeral. In the preface to the sermon, Tomlyns said of his friend, “He wooed for Christ in his preaching, and allured you to Christ by his walking.”
The Gospel-Mystery of Sanctification opened, in sundry practical directions. Suited especially to the case of those who labour under the guilt and power of indwelling-sin. To which is added, a SERMON ON JUSTIFCATION. - 1811
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Sanctification; or, The highway of holiness, an abridgment of The gospel mystery of ... (1884)
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The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
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