John Venn (1759 – 1813) was unflagging in his efforts to lead his people, the Clapham Church, to engage their own culture for the glory of Christ. As one of his biographers puts it, “It was Venn’s constant endeavor to lead his people into an experience of holiness which affected both their relationship with God and their relationship with their fellow men.”1
As this exhortation from one of his sermons attests, Venn was motivated by profound eschatological concerns; namely, that we must all appear before the judgment bar of God to give account of our lives.
The man who is guided by this motive sets God ever before him as his Supreme Lord, whom he is bound by every obligation readily, constantly, universally, implicitly, supremely, to obey. Whether the commands of God, therefore, be easy or difficult; whether they be agreeable to the maxims and practice of the world or not; whether he shall be despised and ridiculed, hated and persecuted, or esteemed and applauded, for his obedience to them, makes no difference to his conduct. He intensely feels the value of God’s approbation and its sufficiency to compensate the loss of every earthly good.2
1 Michael Hennell, John Venn and the Clapham Sect (London: Lutterworth Press, 1958), 206.
2 John Venn, Sermons, vol. 1, 238, quoted in Ibid., 206-207.