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Τ Η Ε
EPIST LE TO
PVERY creature, by the instinct of nature, or by the light
of reason, strives to avoid danger, and get out of harm's way. The cattle in the fields presaging a storm at hand, fly to the hedges and thickets for shelter. The fowls of heaven, by the fame natural instinct, perceiving the approach of winter, take their timely fight to a warmer climate. This * naturalifts have observed of them, and their observation is confirmed by scripture-testimony: of the cattle it is said, Job xxxvii. 6, 7, 8. " He saith to the snow; Be thou on the earth, likewise the small “ rain, and the great rain of his strength; then the beasts go “ into dens, and remain in their places ;" And of the fowls of the air it is said, Jer. viii. 7. “The stork in the heavens know“ eth her appoiated times, and the turtle, and the crane, and “ the swallow, observe the time of their coming."
But man being a prudent and prospecting creature, hath the advantage of all other cratures in his foreseeing faculty: “For « God hath taught him more than the beasts of the earth, and * made him wiser than the fowls of heaven," Job xxxv. 11. “ And a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment," Eccl. viii. 5. For as there are natural signs of the change of the weather, Matth. xvi. 3. so there are moral signs of the changes of time and providences: yet such is the supineness and inexcufable regardlesness of most men, that they will not fear till they feel, nor think any danger very considerable, till it become inevitable.
We of this nation have long enjoyed the light of the glorious gospel among us; it hath shone in much clearness upon this fioful island, for more than a whole century of happy years: but the longest day hath an end, and we have cause to fear our bright fun is going down upon us; for the shadows in England are grown greater than the substance, which is one sign of ap. proaching night, Jer. vi. 4. "The beasts of prey creep out of o their dens and coverts,” which is another sign of night at hand, Psal. civ. 20..“ And the workmen come home apace from “ their labours, and go to rest,” which is as fad a sign as any of the ref, Job vii. 1, 2. Ifa. Ivii. 1, 2. Happy were it, if, in
* Plin. 1. 18, c. 35. Virg. Georg. I. 1.
such a juncture as this, every man would make it his work, and business to secure himself in Christ from the form of God's indigo nation, which is ready to fall upon these sinful nations. It is faid of the Egyptians, when the storm of hail was coming upon the land, Exod. ix. 20. " He that feared the word of the Lord “ made his servants and cattle fee into the houses.” It is but an old fight to see the prudence of an Egyptian, out-vying the wisdom, and circumspection of a Christian.
God, who provides natural Melter and refuge for all creatures, hath not left his people unprovided with, and deftitute of defence and security, in the most tempestuous times of national judgments. It is said, Mic. v. 5. " This man (meaning the “ man Christ Jesus) shall be the peace, when the Assyrian (hall
come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces.” And lsa, xxvi. 20. “ Come, my people, coter thou into thy
chambers, and mut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it “ were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast."
My friends, let me speak as freely, as I am sure I speak, feafonably. A sound of Judgment is in our ears.;
" the Lord's “ voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdow shall see “ thy name : hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it,” Micah vi. 9.
All things round about us seem to posture them. selves for trouble and distress. Where is the man of wisdom that doth not foresee a shower of wrath and indignation coming ? “ We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. “ Alk ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? “ Wherefore do I see every man with his hand on his loins, as
a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? “ Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even “ the day of Jacob's trouble, but he thall be delivered out of “ it,” Jer. xxx. 5, 6, 7.
Many eyes are now opened to see the common danger, but some foresaw it long ago; when they saw the general decay of Godliness every where, the notorious prophanity and atheism that overspread the nations, the spirit of comity and bitterness against the power of Godliness wherever it appeared : and tho' there seeined to be a present calm, and general quietness; yet those that were wise in heart could not but discern diftress of pations, with great perplexity, in these feeds of judgment and calamity : But as the ephah fills more and more, so the determined wrath grows more and more visible to every eye : and it is a fond thing to dream of tranquillity, in the midst of so much iniquity. Indeed, if these nations were once swept with the befom of reformation, we might hope God would not sweep
them with the befom of destruction ; but what peace can be ex. pected, whilf the highest provocations are continued ?
It is therefore the great and present concerament of all to pro. vide themselves of a refuge before the storm overtakes them : for, as Augustin well observes, Non facile inveniuntur praefidia in adverfitate, quae non fuerint in pace quaefita. O take up your lodgings in the attributes and promises of God before the night overtake you ; view them often by faith, and clear up your interest in them, that you may be able to go to them in the dark, when the ministers and ordinaoces of Christ have taken their leave of you, and bid you good night.
Whilst many are hafting on the wrath of God by profanes ness, aod many be fmiting their fellow-servants; and multitudes resolve, if trouble come, to filh in the troubled waters for fafety and preferment, not doubting (whenfoever the averflow. ing food coines) but they shall stand dry. O that you would be mourning for their fins, and providing better for your own fafety.
Reader, it is thy one thing necessary to get a cleared interest in Jesus Christ; which being once obtained, thou mayest face the storm with boldness, and fay, come troubles and distreffes, toffes and trials, prisons and death, I am provided for you; do your worst, you can do me no harın : let the winds roar,
the lightnings flah, the rains and hail fall never fo furiously, I have a good roof over my head, a comfortable lodging provided for
My place of defence is the munition of rocks, where " bread shall be given me, and my waters (hall be sure,” Ila. xxxiii. 16.
The design of the ensuing treatise, is to affift thee in this great work; and though it was promised to the world many years past, yet providence hath reserved it for the fitteft feafoo; and brought it to thy hand in a time of need,
It contaias the method of grace in the application of the great redemption to the souls of men, as the former part contains the method of grace in the interpretation thereof by Jesus Chrift. The acceptation God hath given the former part, signified by the desires of many, for the publication of this, hath at last prevailed with me (aotwithstandiag the secret consciousoefs of my in quality to fo great an undertaking) to adventure this fecond part also, upon the ingenuity and candour of the reader.
And I confent the more willingly to the publication of this, because the design I first aimed at, could not be entire and complete without it; but especially, the quality of the subject-matter, which (through the blelling and concurrence of the fpirit)
may be useful both to rouze the drowsy consciences of this fleepy generation, and to assist the upright, in clearing the work of the spirit upon their own fouls. These confiderations have prevailed with me against all discouragements.
And now, reader, it is impossible for me to speak particularly and distinctly to the case of thy soul, which I am ignorant of, except the Lord thall direct my discourse to it in fumic of the fola lowing suppositions.
If thou be one that hast sincerely applied, and received Jesus Chrift by faith, this discourse (through the blessing of the Spiric) may be useful to thee, to clear and confirm thy evidences, to melt thy heart in the sense of thy mercies, and to engage and quicken thee in the way of thy duties. Here thou wilt see what great things the Lord hath done for thy foul, and how these dignities, as thou art his fon or daughter, by the double title of regenerátion and adoption, do obtige thee to yield up thyself to God en. tirely, and to say from thy heart, Lord, whatever I am, I am for thee, whatever I can do, I will do for thee, and whatever I can suffer, I will suffer the; and all that I am, or, have, all that I can do, or fuffcr, is nothing to what thou hast dode for my
If thou be a stranger to regeneration and faiths a person that makelt a powerless profeffion of Christ; that haft a diame to live, but art dead ; here it is possible thou mayest meet with fome. thing that will coövince thee how dangerous a thing it is, to be an old creature, in the new creature's dress and habit ; and what it is that blinds thy judgment, and is likeliest to prove thy ruin ; a reasonable and full conviction whereof, will be the greatest mercy that can befal thee in this world, if thereby at lait, God may help thee to put on Christ, as well as the name of Christ.
If thou be in darkness about the state of thy own foul, and willing to have it faithfully and impartially cried by the rule of the word, which will not warp to any man's humour or interelt, here thou wilt find some weak asistance offered thee, to clear and difentangle thy doubting thoughts, which (through thy prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of
Jesus Christ) may lead thee to a cornfortable settlement and inward peace.
If thou be a proud, conceited, presumptuous soul, who haft too little knowledge, and too much pride and self-love, to admit any doubts or scruples of thy fate towards God, there are many things in this treatise proper for thy conviction, and better in formation; for woe to thee, if thou should not fear, till thou VOL. II.
begin to feel thy misery, ifthy troubles do not come in till all thy hopes are gone of
I know all thele things are performed by me with much infirmity; and that the whole management is quite below the dignity of the subject. But when I consider the success of fermons and books in the world, hath but little relation to the elegancy of language, or accuracy of method, and that many may be useful, who cannot be excellent, I am willing in all humility and sincerity to commit it to be the direction of providence, and the blesfing of the spirit.
One thing I shall earnestly request of all the people of God, into whose hands this shall fall, that now at last they will be perfuaded to end all their unbrotherly quarrels and strifes among themselves, which have wasted so much precious time, and decayed the vital spirits of religion ; 'hindred the conversion of multitudes, and increased and confirmed the atheism of the times, and now at last opened a breach, at which the common enemy is ready to enter, and end the quarrel to our cost. O put on, as the ele&t of God, bowels of mercy, and a spirit of charity and forbearance, if not for your own sakes, yet for the church's fake : Si non vis tibi parcere, parce Carthagini.
I remember it is noted in our English history as a very remark. able thing, that when the Severd overflowed part of SomersetThire, it was observed that dogs and hares, cats and rats, to avoid the common destruction, would swim to the next rising ground, and abide quietly together in that common danger, without the least discovery of their natural antipathy.
The story applies itself, and that Christians would every where depose their animosities, that the hearts of the fathers might be turned to the children, and the children to the fathers ; les God come and smite the earth with a curse.
o that you would dwell more in your closets, and be more frequently and fervently upon your knees. O that you would, search your hearts more narrowly, and fift them more throughly
before the day pass as the chaff, and the Lord's fierce anger come upon you : look into your Bibles, then into your hearts, and then to heaven, for a true discovery of your conditions ; and if this poor mite may contribute any thing to that end, it will be a great reward of the unworthy labours of
Thy servant in CHRIST,