« PreviousContinue »
TO my brethren and companions in tribu
lation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, who suffer for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ ; grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied. BELOVED,
You have here the fruit of the exer. cises and labours of many years ; there are few things new to you, because you have not only heard them from the pulpit at different times, but you have also passed through the greater part of them. We have been brought together into deep waters, and the only difference between us in them has been this, that I have been obliged to go first, and as I found the passage dangerous or safe, I gave the word of encouragement, exhortation, or warning ; none of which, through the mercy of God, have been in vain. Some, it is true, upon whom there has been no constraint put of God, just as they were stepping in, have
drawn back. · But it was not so with us it not being a matter of choice, and yet, contradictory as this may appear, there has been a will present, or we had never been where we are.
Whatever there is in these pages I have gained in the way that I am furnished for my public ministry. I have no other means of instruction left me than the Bible, my vun heart, the providence of God, and the spirit of Christ. I have laboured as hard as any to attain to some excellency in human wisdom, but I have been baffled and defeated-and in a natural religion, but could not succeed. I know, from experience, the real worth of both these before God, and their use to a man's soul, and have, through his help, done with them, and leave them to those to whom they may be of some service as to the things of this life, which I believe they may.
In writing this little book, I have been brought to simple dependence upon God: who is the father of lights; and as in preaching, have waited for the Spirit promised to guide into all truth, and to furnish with an unerring testimony. In sending it forth I say nothing of motives, desires, or aims-these are often deceptive, and so fail. of their object and their end. I must say
this and in these things, I have nothing to glory of, necessity is laid upon me. It may be surmised, I feel, that it is to discover my errors, and lies, and hypocrisy; so much the better, if there are such things within wilfully and knowingly concealed; but as is the man, so is his communication; Iwish to be thought, I wish to appear, no otherwise than I am. The things treated of I did not invent, nor did I find them in myself-they were brought to me, from whatever quarter they came.
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report, must every minister of God be approved, and I feel that there is power given me not to justify myself, nor to take measures of human revenge. Being smitten on the right cheek, I here present my other also ; and since I must be sued at the law with the utmost rigour, and they will take my coat; if my salvation as a sinner cannot be retained, 'tis hardly worth while to contend about zeal in a profession, let them have my cloak also. And if all this seem glorying, I can only say, I am compelled to it-but no man shall stop me of this boasting; and therefore being compelled to go some lengths, with them that force me to go a mile, I am all readiness to go twain, not doubting that before we reach the end of the second mile;