« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
numberless stratagems to keep them in a mourning, staggering, and doubting condition.
Beloved, give me leave to signify my desires for, and to you, and I shall draw to a close.
My desires for you are, . That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the in
* That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith,' &c. Ephes. iii. 16,-19. “And that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work,' &c. Col. i. 10, 11.
• That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment,' &c. Phil. i. 9, 10. And that thou mayest 'be eminent in holiness: Ps. xciii. 5. Holiness being Zion's glory, that your hearts may be kept upright, your judgments sound, and your lives unblameable. That as ye are now my joy, so in the day of Christ you may be my crown: that I may see my labours in your lives, that your conversation may not be earthly, when the things you hear are heavenly: but that it may be as becomes the gospel. That as the fishes which live in the salt sea, yet are fresh; so you, though you live in an uncharitable world, may yet be charitable and loving. That ye may, like the bee, suck honey out of every flower; that ye may shine in a sea of troubles, as the pearl shines in the sky, though it grow in the sea; that in all your trials, you may be like the stones
in Thracia, that neither burn in the fire, nor sink in the water. That ye may be like the heavens, excellent in substance, and beautiful in appearance; that so you may meet me with joy, in that day, wherein Christ shall say to his Father,' Lo! here am I, and the children which thou hast given me!
Finally, remember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on, and hold up in ways of well doing, and heaven shall make amends for all. I shall now take leave of
heart hath by my hand subscribed, that I am, Your loving pastor under Christ, according to all pastoral affections and engagements in our dearest Lord.
TO THE READER
SOLOMON bids us buy the truth, Prov. xxiii. 23. but doth not tell us what it must cost, because we must get it though it be never so dear; we must love it both shining and scorching; every parcel of truth is precious as the filings of gold; we must either live with it, or die for it. As Ruth said to Naomi, Whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part thee and me: Ruth i. 16, 17. If truth be the cause of contention, nothing but death can separate me from it, and even that cannot do it.'—Jerome. So must gracious spirits say, Where truth goes, I will go, and where truth lodges, I will lodge, and nothing but death shall part me and truth. A man may lawfully sell his house, land, and jewels, but truth is a jewel that exceeds all price, and must not be sold, it is our heritage. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever, Ps. cxix. 111. It is a legacy that our fore-fathers have bought with their blood, which should make us willing to lay down any thing, and lay out every thing, that we may with the wise mere
chant in the gospel, Mat. xiii. 45, 46. purchase this precious
pearl, which is of more worth than heaven and earth, and which will make a man live happily, die comfortably, and reign eternally.
And now if thou pleasest, read the following work, and receive this counsel from me.
First, Thou must know that every man cannot be excellent, yet may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure, yea, iron can do some things that gold cannot do.
Secondly, Remember, it is not hasty reading, but seriously meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee's touching of the flowers that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon them, and drawing out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.
Thirdly, Know that it is not the knowing, the talking, nor the reading man, but the doing man, that at last will be found the happiest inan: • If you know these things, blessed and happy are you if you do them. Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father that is in heaven.' It was a good saying of Justin Martyr, Our religion consists not in speaking of the things, but in doing them.' Judas called Christ, Lord, Lord, and yet betrayed
him, and is gone to his place; Ah! how many Judas's have we in these days that kiss Christ, and yet betray Christ; that in their words profess him, but in their works deny hin; that bow their knee to him, and yet in their hearts despise him; that call him Jesus, and yet will not obey him for their Lord.
Reader, If it be not impressed upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read, to increase thy own condemnation? If thy light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing thou art, the more miserable thou wilt be in the day of recompence; thy light and knowledge will torment thee more than all the devils in hell*. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worin that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever. When Demosthenes was asked, What was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action: The same may I say, if any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action.
That man who reads that he may know, and labours to know that he may do, will have two heavens, a heaven of joy, peace
* An Heathen philosopher liked not such as are always about to live, but never begin. Seneca.