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: 1... THE PREFACE.
Reader, The great business of man's life is, to answer the end for which he lives; and that is, to glorify God, and save his own soul : this is the decree of heaven, as old as the world. But so it is, that man mindeth nothing less than what he should most mind; and despiseth to enquire into his own being, its original duty and end; chusing rather to dedicate his days (the steps he should make to blessedness) to gratify the pride, avarice, and luxury of his heart; as if he had been born for himself, or rather given himself being, and so not 'subject to the reckoning and judgment of a superior power. To this wild and lamentable pass, hath poor man brought himself, by his disobedience to the law of God in his heart, by doing that which he knows he should not do, and leaving undone what he knows he should do. And as long as this disease continueth upon man, he will make his God his enemy, and himself uncapable of the love and Ssalvation that he hath manifested by his son, Jesus Christ, to the world. .
If, Reader, thou art such an one, my counsel to thee is, to retire into thyself, and take a view of the condition of thy soul ; for Christ hath given thee light with which to do it: search carefully and thoroughly; thy life is upon it; thy soul is at stake. It is but once to be done; if thou abusest tbyself in it, the loss is irreparable; the world is not price enough to ransom thee: wilt thou then, for such a world, belate thyself, over-stay the time of thy salvation, and lose thy soul : Thou hast to do (I grant thee) with great patience; but that also must have an end: therefore provoke not that God that made thee, to reject thee. Dost thou know what it is? It is Tophet, it is hell, the eternal anguish of the damned. Oh! Reader, as one knowing the terrors of the Lord, • I persuade thee to be serious, diligent, and fervent about
thy salvation! aye, and as one knowing the comfort, peace, joy and pleasure of the ways of righteousness too, I exhort and invite thee, to embrace the reproofs and convictions of Christ's light and spirit in thine own conscience, and bear the judgment, who hast wrought the sin. The fire burns but the stubble; the wind blows but the chaff: yield up thy body, soul and spirit, to him that maketh all things new; new heavens and new earth, new love, new joy, new peace, pew works, a new life and eonversation. Men are grown corrupt and drossy by sin, and they must be saved through fire, which purgeth it away; therefore the word of God is compared to a fire, and the day of salvation to an oven; and Christ himself to a refiner of gold, and purifier of silver.
Come, Reader, hearken to me a while; I seek thy salvation; that is my plot; thou wilt forgive me. A refiner iş come near thee, his grace hath appeared to thee : it shewş thee the world's lusts, and teacheth thee to deny them. Receive his leaven, and it will change thee; his medicine, and it will cure thee: he is as infallible as free; without money, and with certainty. A touch of his garment did it of old; it will do it still : his virtue is the same, it cannot be exhausted; for in him the fulness dwells : blessed be God for his sufficiency. He laid help upon him, that he might be mighty to save all that come to God through him: do thou so, and he will change thee : aye, thy vile body like unto his glorious body. He is the great philosopher indeed, the wisdom of God, that turns lead into gold, vile things into things precious : for he maketh saints out of sinners, and almost gods of men. What rests to us then, that we must do, to be thus witnesses of his power and love? This is the Crown : but where is the Cross? Where is the bitter сар and bloody baptism? Come, Reader, be like him; for this transcendent joy, lift up thy head above the world; then thy salvation will draw nigh indeed.
Christ's Cross is Christ's way to Christ's Crown. This is the subject of the following discourse; first writ during my confinement in the Tower of London, in the year 1968, now reprinted with great enlargements of matter and testi monies, that thou, Reader, mayest be won to Christ; and if won already, brought nearer to him. It is a path, God in his everlasting kindness guided my feet into, in the flower of my youth, when about two and twenty years of age : then he took me by the hand, and led me out of the pleasures, vanities, and hopes of the world. I have tasted of Christ's judgments, and of his mercies, and of the world's frowns and reproaches : I rejoice in my experience, and dedicate it to thy service in Christ. It is a debt I have long owed, and has been long expected : I have now paid it, and delivered my soul. To my conntry, and to the world of christians [ leave it: may God, if he please, make it effectual to them all, and turn their hearts from that envy, hatred and bitterness, they have one against another, about worldly things; (sacrificing humanity and charity to ambition and covetous.
hess, for which they fill the earth with trouble and oppression) that receiving the spirit of Christ into their hearts, (thé fruits of which are love, peace, joy, temperance and patience, brotherly kindness and charity) they may in body, soul and spirit, make a triple league against the world, the flesh and the devil, the only common enemies of mankind; and having conquered them through a life of self-denial, by the power of the Cross of Jesus, they may at last attain to the eternal rest and kingdom of God. So desireth, so prayeth, friendly Reader,
thy fervent Christian friend,
NO CROSS, NO CROWN.
CHAP. I. 1. . Of the necessity of the cross of Christ in general; yet
the little regard christians have to it. §. 2. The degeneracy of Christendom from purity to lust, and moderation to excess. $. 3. That worldly lusts and pleasures are become the care and study of christians, so ihat they have advanced upon the impiety of infidels. §. 4. This defection a second part to the Jewish tragedy, and worse than the first: the scorn christians have cast on their Saviour. $. 5. Sin is of one nature all the world over; sinners are of the sume church, the devil's children: profession of religion in wicked men, makes them but the worse. 5. 6. A wolf is not a lamb, a sinner cannot be (whilst such) a saint. $. 7. The wicked will persecute the good; this false christians have done to the true, for non-compliance with their superstitions : the strange carnal measures false christians have taken of christianity; the danger of that self-seduction. §. 8. I'he sense of that has obliged me to this discourse, for a dissuasive against the world's lusts, and an invitation to take up the daily cross of Christ, as the way left us by him to blessedness. $. 9. Of the self-condemnation of the wicked; that religion and worship are comprised in doing the will of God. The advantage good men have upon bad men in the last judgment. §. 10. A supplication for Christendom, that she may not be rejected in that great assize of the world. She is exhorted to consider, what relation she bears to Christ; if her Saviour, how saved, and for what: what her experience is of that great work. That Christ came to save from sin, and wrath by. consequence; not save men in sin, but from it, and so the wages of it.
$: 1. Though the knowledge and obedieifce of the doctrine of the cross of Christ, be of infinite moment to the souls of nen; for that is the only door to true christianity, and that path' the ancients ever trod to blessedness: yet, with extreme aifliction, let me say, it is so little understood, so much neglected, and what is worse, so bitterly contradictéd, by the vanity; superstition and intemperance of professed christians, that we must either renounce to believe what the Lord Jesus hath told us, Luke xiv. 27. “That
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after him, cannot be his disciple :' or, admitting that for truth, conclude, that the generality of Christendom do miserably deceive and disappoint themselves in the great business of christianity, and their own salvation.
§. II. For, let us be never so tender and charitable in the survey of those nations, that intitle themselves to any interest in the holy name of Christ, if we will but be just too, we must needs acknowledge, that after all the gracious advantages of light, and obligations to fidelity, which these latter ages of the world have received, by the coming, life, doctrine, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, with the gifts of his Holy Spirit; to which add, the writings, labours and martyrdom of his dear followers in all times, there seems very little left of christianity but the name: which being now usurped hy the old heathen nature and life, makes the professors of it but true heathens in disguise. For though they worship not the same idols, they worship Christ with the same heart : and they can never do otherwise, whilst they live in the same lusts. So that the unmortified christian and the heathen are of the same religion. For though they have different objects, to which they do direct their prayers, that adoration in both is but forced and ceremonious, and the deity they truly worship, is the god of the world, the great lord of lusts : to him they bow with the whole powers of soul and sense. What shall we eat? What shall ve drink? What shall we wear? And how shall we pass away our time? Which way may we gather wealth, increase our power, enlarge our territories, and dignify and perpetuate our names and families in the earth? Which base sensuality is most pathetically expressed and comprized by the beloved apostle John, in these words : 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, which (says he) are not of the Father, but of the world, that lieth in wickedness. a'
III. It is a mournful reflection, but a truth no confidence can be great enough to deny, that these worldly lusts fill up the study, care and conversation of wretched Christendom! and, which aggravates the misery, they have grown with time. For as the world is older, it is worse; and the examples of former lewd ages, and their miserable conclusions, have not deterred, but excited ours; so that the people of this, seem improvers of the old stock of impiety, and have carried it so much farther than example, that instead of advancing in virtue, upon better times, they are scandalously fallen below the life of heathens. Their high
* 1 John ii, 16.