« PreviousContinue »
TO THE READER.
This book, at first well accommodated with so valuable a testimony as Mr. Caryl's; besides its better approving itself to the choice spirits every where, by the speedy distribution of the whole impression; it might seem a needless or superfluous thing, to add any more to its praise: yet, meeting with detracting language from a few, (by reason of some phrases, not duly pondered, or rightly understood) it is thought meet, in this second impression, to relieve that worthy testimony, which still stands to it, with fresh supplies; not for any need the truth therein contained has of it, but because either the prejudice or darkness of some men's judgments requires it; I therefore, having thoroughly perused it, cannot but testify, that, if I have the least judgment, or relish of truth," he that finds this book, finds a good thing," and not unworthy of its title; and may account the saints to have obtained favor with the Lord in the ministration of it; as that which, with great plainness and evidence of truth, comprises the chief (if not all the) differences that have been lately engendered about the It has, I must confess, not only fortified my judgment, but also warmed my heart; inculcating throughout the whole, the clear and familiar notion of those things by which we live, (as Ezek. 16 speaks in another case) and it appears to me to be written from much experimental knowledge of Christ, and teaching of the Spirit. Let all men, that taste the fruit of it, confess, to the glory of God, he is no respecter of persons;" and endeavor to "know no man henceforth after the flesh," nor envy the compiler the honor to be accounted, as God has made him in this point, a healer of breaches, and a restorer of the overgrown paths of the gospel. As for my own part, I am 80 satisfied in this testimony I lend, that I reckon whatever credit is thus pawned, will be a glory to the name that stands by, and avows this truth, so long as the book shall endure to record it. JOSHUA SPRIGGE
GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU IN CHRIST JESUS.
My loving Friend in Christ,
I HAVE, according to your desire, read over your book, and find it full of evangelical light and life; and I doubt not, but the oftener I read it, the more true comfort I shall find in the knowledge of Christ; the matter is pure, the method is apostolical, in which the works of love, in the right place, after
the life of faith, are effectually required. God has endowed his Fisher, with the net of a trying understanding, and discerning judgment and discretion; by which, out of the crystaline streams of the well of life, he has taken a mess of sweeter and wholesoiner fish than the world can afford; of which, if I could daily have enough, I should not care for the flesh, or the works thereof. SAMUEL PRITTIE.
PREFACE TO A NEW IMPRESSION OF THIS BOOK.
THIS book came to my hand by a merciful and most unexpected disposure of providence, and I read it with great and sweet complacence. It is now entirely out of print, though much desired and highly prized by many exercised to godli ness, who had the happiness to see and peruse it. But, in regard one copy could not serve many, and the demands for it are strong by sundry excellent ones of the earth, and some persons of a clear discerning in these most necessary and weighty matters; the motion of a new impression fell in, from desires of more light, excited by the spirit of truth in the hearts of wisdom's children, and some of these endowed with learning as well as piety. It contains a great deal of the mar row of revealed and gospel truth, selected from authors of great note, clearly enlightened, and of the most digested experience; some of whom were honored to do eminent and heroic services in their day. Thus the Christian reader has the flower of their labors communicated to him very briefly, yet clearly and powerfully. And the manner of conveyance, being by way of amicable conference, is not only fitted to afford delight to the judicious reader, but also the advantage of trying, through grace, his own heart the more exactly, according to what echo it gives, or how it relishes the several speeches of the communers. Touching the matter, it is of the greatest concern, viz. The stating aright both law and gospel, and giving true and clear narrations of the course of the cloud of witnesses, in following which, many have arrived at a glorious rest. The excellent accounts are managed in such a manner as to detect the rocks on each hand, on which the danger of splitting is exceedingly great. Here we have the greatest depths and most painted delusions of hell, in opposition to the only way of salvation, discovered with marvellous brevity and evidence, and that by the concurring suffrages of burning and shining lights, men of the clearest
experience, and honored of God to do eminent service in their day, for advancing the interests of our Lord's kingdom and gospel.
The exhibition of gospel-light has been the choice mean, blessed by the Lord, for effecting great things, in the several periods of the church, since that light shined in Paradise, after our first sin and fall: and ever since the balance has swayed, and will sway, according as it is seen or extinguished. When gospel light is clear, and attended with power, Satan's kingdom cannot stand before it; the prince and powers of darkness must fall as lightning from heaven. And, on the contrary, according to recessions from thence, Christian churches went off by degrees, from the only foundation, even from the rock Christ, until the man of sin, the great Antichrist, did mount the throne. Nevertheless while the world is wondering after the beast, behold! evangelical light breaks forth in the midst of Papal darkness; at which Antichrist's throne shakes, and is at the point of falling; yet his wounds are cured, and he recovers new strength and spirits, through a darkening and perversion of the glorious gospel by antievangelical errors and heresies.
That the tares of such errors are sown in the reformed churches, by men too who profess reformed faith, and who lay to heart the purity of the gospel doctrine is beyond debate. Such dregs of Antichristianism yet remain, or are brought in amongst us. Herein the words of the apostle are verified, viz. "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them:" and as this renders the essays for a further diffusion of evangelical light the more necessary and seasonable; so there is ground to hope, that, in this way the churches of Christ will gradually get the ascendant, over their enemies, until the great Antichrist shall fall, as a trophy before a gospel dispensation. For the Lord will "destroy him by the breath of his mouth, and with the brightness of his coming." That this excellent and spiritual piece may be blessed to the reader, is the prayer of, &c.
Their sincere well wisher and servant in the work of the
gospel. Charnock, Dec. 3, 1717.
TO THE HONORABLE
COLONEL JOHN DOWNES, ESQ.
ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE HONORABLE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN PARLIA MENT, JUSTICE OF PEACE, AND ONE OF THE DEPUTY-LIEUTENANTS OF THE COUNTY OF SUSSEX, AND AUDITOR TO THE PRINCE HIS HIGHNESS OF THE DUTCHY OF CORNWALL, E. F. WISHETH THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST.
Most Honored Sir,
ALTHOUGH I observe that new editions, accompanied with new additions, are sometimes published with new dedications; yet so long as he who formerly owned the subject, doth yet live, and hath the same affections towards it, I conceive there is no need of a new patron, but of a new epistle.
Be pleased then, most honored Sir, to give me leave to tell you, that your clemency of place did somewhat induce me, both now and before, to make choice of you for its patron; but your endowments with grace did invite me to it, God having bestowed upon you special spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ: for it has been declared unto me by them that knew you, when you were but a youth, how Christ met with you then; and, by sending his Spirit into your heart, 1st. Convinced you of sin; as was manifest by those conflicts, which your soul then had, both with Satan and itself, whilst you did not believe in Christ. 2dly. Of righteousness; as was manifest by the peace and comfort, which you afterwards had by believing that Christ was gone to the Father, and appeared in his presence, as your advocate and surety, that had undertaken for you. 3dly. Of judgment; as has been manifest ever since, in that you have been careful, with the truly godly man, Psal. 112: 5. to guide your affairs with judgment, in walking according to the mind of Christ.
I have not forgotten what desires you have expressed to know the true difference between the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace; and experimentally to be acquainted with the doctrine of free grace, the mysteries of Christ, and the life of faith. Witness not only your high approving of some heads of a sermon, which I once heard a godly minister preach, and repeated in your hearing, of the life of faith; but also your earnest request to me, to write them out fair, and send them to you into the country; yea, witness your highly approving of this dialogue, when I first acquainted you with the contents thereof, encouraging me to expedite it to the press; and your kind acceptance, together with your cordial
thanks for my love, manifested in dedicating it to your honored name.
Since, then, worthy Sir, it hath pleased the Lord to enable me both to amend it, and to enlarge it, I hope your affection will also be enlarged towards the matter therein contained, considering that it tends to the clearing of those forenamed truths, and through the blessing of God, may be a means to root them more deeply in your heart. And truly, Sir, I am confident, the more they grow and flourish in any man's heart, the more will all corruptions of heart wither and decay. Oh! Sir, if the truths, contained in this dialogue, were but as much in my heart, as they are in my head, I were a happy man; for then should I be more free from pride, vainglory, wrath, anger, self love, and love of the world: then should I have more humility, meekness, and love both to God and man: O! then should I be content with Christ alone, and live above all things in the world; then should I experimentally know, both how to abound, and how to want; and then should I be fit for any condition, nothing could come amiss unto me. Oh that the Lord would be pleased to write them in our hearts by his blessed Spirit!
And so, most humbly beseeching you still to pardon my boldness, and to vouchsafe to take this book into your patronage and protection; I humbly take my leave of you, and remain, Your obliged Servant, to be commanded, E. F.
TO ALL SUCH HUMBLE-HEARTED READERS, AS SEE ANY NEED TO LEARN, EITHER TO KNOW THEMSELVES, OR GOD IN CHRIST.
CONSIDER, I pray you, that as the first Adam did, as a common person, enter into covenant with God for all mankind, and break it, by which they became sinful and guilty of everlasting death and damnation: even so Jesus Christ, the sccond Adam, did, as a common person, enter into covenant with God his Father, for the elect,* that is to say, all those that
*The covenant (viz. of works) being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression. Shorter Catechism, quest. 16.
The covenant of grace was made with and, in him, with all the elect, as his seed.
Christ, as the second Adam,