Now, because Christians, as long as they live here in this life, never completely divest themselves to be clothed with Christ, never completely die to themselves so that Christ lives in them entirely, but still daily err and sin in many ways, it is necessary to have in the church and congregation of Christ a constant teaching, discipline and leading—that is, a rule whereby Christians are continually prompted and led to learn to deny themselves more and abandon and dedicate themselves entirely to Christ the Lord as their Head.Martin Bucer (1538)
I cannot separate Christ from sufferings, Christ will separate me from my sins; if I seek him, I must let them go; if I profess Christ, providence will one time or other bring me to this dilemma, either Christ or earthly comforts must go. It is necessary therefore that I now propound to myself what providence may, one time or other, propound to me; he hath set down his terms, Mat. 16:24. ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.’ This self-denial deserves serious consideration; for Christ extends it to natural self, righteous self, and civil self; and requires that I give up my life, my liberty, my estate, my relations, and my own righteousness, as hard to be parted with as any of the former. I must take up my cross, that is, the sufferings and troubles God shall appoint for me, and which I cannot avoid or escape without sin; and I must follow Christ, follow him whither soever he goes.John Flavel, Works 4:144.
Day by day, dear Lord,
of Thee three things I pray:
to see Thee more clearly,
to love Thee more dearly,
to follow Thee more nearly.
—Prayer of Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)