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dearest, godly friends, expect to feel the sting of their corruptions, as well as to taste the sweetness of their grace. And they must expect the like from you.
If you ask me why I speak so much of these things here? It is, 1. Because I find that much of the trouble of ordinary Christians comes from their crosses in the creature, and the frustration of these their sinful expectations. 2. And because I have said so little of it in the following directions, they being intended for the cure of another kind of trouble, therefore I have said thus inuch here of this.
Having premised this advice, I take myself bound to add one thing more ; that is, an apology for the publication of this iinperfect piece, whether just or insufficient other men must judge. I confess I am so apprehensive of the luxuriant fertility, or licentiousness of the press of late, as being a design of the enemy to bury and overwhelm in a crowd those judicious, pious, excellent writings, that before were so commonly read by the people, that I think few men should now print without an apology, much less such
Who hath more lamented this inundation of impertinencies? or more accused the ignorance and pride of others, that must needs disgorge themselves of all their crudities, as if they were such precious conceptions proceeding from the Holy Ghost, that the world might not, without very great injury, be deprived of; and it were pity that all men should not be made partakers of them ? And how come I to go on in the same fault myself? Truly I have no excuse or argument, but those of the times, necessity, and providence ; which how far they may justify me, I must leave to the judge. Being in company with a troubled, complaining friend, I perceived that it must be some standing counsel which might be frequently perused, that must satisfactorily answer the complaints that I heard, and not a transient speech, which would quickly slip away. Being therefore obliged as a pastor, and as a friend, and as a Christian, to tender my best assistance for relief, I was suddenly, in the moment of speaking, moved to proinise one sheet of paper, which might be useful to that end. Which promise, when I attempted to perform, the one sheet lengthened to thirty, and my one day's (intended) work was drawn out to a just month. I
went on far before I had the least thought to let any eye behold it, except the party for whom I wrote it. But at last I perceived an impossibility of contracting, and I was presently possessed with confident apprehensions, that a copy of those directions might be useful to many other of my poor neighbors and friends that needed them as much. Upon which apprehension I permitted my pen to run more at large, and to deviate from the case of the party that I wrote for, and to take in the common case of most troubled, doubting souls. By that time that I had finished it, I received letters from several parts, from learned and judicious divines importuning me to print more, having understood my intentions to desist, as haying done too much already, even at first. I confess I was not much moved by their importunity, till they seconded it with their arguments; whereof one was, the experience of the success of former writings, which might assure me it was not displeasing to God. I had many that urged me, I had no one but myself to draw me back. I apprehended that a writing of this nature might be useful to the many weak, perplexed Christians through the land. Two reasons did at first come in against it. The first was, that if there were no more written on this subject than Dr. Sibbs' “ Bruised Reed, and Soul's Conflict," and Mr. Jos. Symonds' “ Deserted Soul's Case and Cure," there need no more. Especially there being also Dr. Preston's Works, and many of Perkins', to this use; and Mr. Ball, and Mr. Culverwell of Faith, and divers the like. To this my own judgment answered, that yet these brief directions might add somewhat that might be useful to the weak, as to the method of their proceedings, if not to the matter. And my brethren stopped my mouth by telling me, that others had written before me of heaven and baptism, and yet my labours were not lost. Next this, I thought the crudity and weakness of the writing was such, as should prohibit the publication, it being unfit to thrust upon the world the hasty, undigested lines, that were written for the use of one person. To this my thoughts replied, that, 1. For all that, it might be useful to poor women, and country people, who most commonly prove the troubled spirits, for whose sakes I wrote it. Had I writ for the use of learned men, I would have tried make it fitter for their use; and if I could not, I would have suppressed it. 2. It was my pride that nourished this scruple, which moved me not to appear so homely to the world, and therefore I cast it by: One thing more I confess did much prevail with me to make these papers public, and that is, the Antinomians' common confident obtrusion of their anti-evangelical doctrines and methods for comforting troubled souls. They are the most notorious mountebanks in this art, the highest pretenders, and most unhappy performers, that most of the reformed churches ever knew. And none usually are more ready to receive their doctrines, than such weak women, or unskilful people, that being in trouble, are like a sick man ia great pain, who is glad to hear what all can say, and to make trial of every thing by which he hath any hope of ease. And then there is so much opium in these mountebanks' Nepenthes, or Antidote of rest : so many principles of carnal security and presumption, which tend to the present ease of the patient, whatever follow, that it is no wonder if some well-meaning Christians do quickly swallow the bait, and proclaim the rare effects of this medicament, and the admirable skill of this unskilful sect, to the ensnaring of others, especially that are in the like distress. Especially when they meet with some divines of our own, who do deliver to them some masterpoints of this system of mistakes, which are so necessarily concatenated to the rest, that they may easily see, if they have one, they must have all, unless they hold contradictions. As to instance in the doctrine of justification before faith, or the dissolving the obligation to punishment, which is nothing but the remission of sin before faith. So that nothing remains since Christ's death (as some) or since God's decree (as others) but only to have your pardoni manifested, or to be justified in conscience, or (as some phrase it) to have that justification which is terminated in conscience. There is a very judicious man, Mr. Benjamin Woodbridge, of Newbury, hath written so excellent well against this error, and in so small room, being but one sermon, that I would advise all private Christians to get one of them, and peruse it, as one of the best, easiest, cheapest preservatives against the contagion of this part of Antinomianism.
I had not troubled the reader with this apology, bad I thought so well of this writing, as to be sufficient apology for itself; or had I not taken it for a heinous crime to speak idly in print.
For the doctrine here contained, it is of a middle strain, between (I think) the extremes of some others. I have labored so to build up peace as not thereby to fortify presumption. And perhaps in some points you may see my meaning more plainly, which through the obscurity of former writings, I was misunderstood in. As for the manner of this writing, I must desire them that expect learning or exactness, to turn away their eyes, and know, that I wrote it not for such as they. I use not to speak any thing but plain English to that sex, or to that use and end, for which I wrote these lines. I wrote to the utmost verge of my paper, before I thought to make it public, and so had no room for marginal quotations, (nor time to transcribe that copy, that I might have room,) nor indeed much mind of them, if I had both room and time.
As in all the removes of my life I have been still led to that place or state which was farthest from my own thoughts, and never designed or contrived by myself; so all the writings that yet I have published, are such as have been by some sudden, unexpected occasion extorted from me, while those that I most affected have been stifled in the conception ; and those I have most labored in, must lie buried in the dust, that I may know it is God that is the disposer of all. Experience persuadeth me to think, that God, who bath compelled me hitherto, intendeth to make this hasty writing a means for the calming of some troubled souls ; which if he do, I have my end. If I can do nothing to the church's public peace, either through my own unskilfulness and unworthiness, or through the prevalency of the malady; yet will it be my comfort, to further the peace of the poorest Christian. (Though to the former also I shall contribute my best endeavors, and am with this sending to the press some few sheets to that end, with our “Worcester-shire Agreement.") The full accomplishment of both ; the subduing of the prince of darkness, confusion, and contention; the destroying of that pride, self-esteem, self-seeking, and carnalmindedness, which remaining even in the best, are the disturbers VOL. I.
of all peace; the fuller discovery of the sinfulness of unpeaceable
A zealous desirer of the peace of the