PREFACE, BY THE REV. JOHN GIFFORD,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT BEDFORD,
OF WHICH JOHN BUNYAN WAS A MEMBER.
TO THE READER.
It is sad to see how the most of men neglect their precious souls, turning their backs upon the glorious gospel, and little minding a crucified Jesus, when, in the meanwhile, their bodies are well provided for, their estates much regarded, and the things of this present life are highly prized, as if the darling was of less value than a clod of earth; an immortal soul, than a perishing body; a precious Saviour, than unsatisfying creatures. Yea, though they have been often wooed with gracious entreaties, glorious promises, and fresh bleeding wounds, to make choice of the better part, that shall never be taken from them; yet, alas! such influence hath this world, and the pleasures of it, and such is the blindness of their understandings, that they continue still to hunt after those things which cannot profit, nor be a help to them in the worst hour. Yea, that will prove no better than poison to their souls, and refuse that would be (if embraced) their happiness here, and their glory hereafter. Such a strange stupidity hath seized upon the hearts of men, that they will venture the loss of their immortal souls for a few dying comforts, and will expose themselves to endless misery for a moment’s mirth, and short-lived pleasures. But, certainly, a barn well fraught, a bag well filled, a back well clothed, and a body well fed, will prove but poor comforts when men come to die, when death shall not only separate their souls from their bodies, but both from their comforts. What will it then avail them that they have gained much? Or what will they give in exchange for their souls? Be wise, then (O reader, to whose sight this may come), before it be too late, and thou repent, when repentance shall be hid from thine eyes; also it will be as a dagger to thine heart one day, to remember what a Christ, what a soul, what a heaven thou hast lost for a few pleasures, a little mirth, a short enjoyment of this present world; yea, and that after many warnings against many reproofs, and, notwithstanding the many tenders of a full Christ, instead of those empty vanities which thy soul closed with, hunted after, and would by no means be persuaded to part withal. No, but thou wouldst take thy time, and swim in this world’s delights, though thy soul thereby was drowned in perdition and destruction (1 Tim 6:9). True, few there are that will be persuaded that this course they take, though their daily conversations do bear witness to it; for how much time is spent, and how much care is the hearts of men filled withal, after attaining, keeping, and increasing these things? And how seldom do they trouble their heads, to have their minds taken up with thoughts of the better? Cumbering themselves with many things, but wholly neglecting the one thing necessary; yea, whereby do they measure their own or other men’s happiness, but by the large incomes of this world’s good, accounting this the greatest, if not the only blessedness, to have their corn, wine, and oil increase in abundance, and reckoning those that are most serious about, and earnest after the world to come, men of foolish spirits, giddy brains, and worthy to be branded in the forehead for simple deluded ones. But surely he is the most fool that will be one at last; and he that God calls so (Luke 12:20) will pass for one in the end; yea, within a short time, they themselves shall change their notes. Ask the rich man spoken of in the ensuing treatise, who was the fool—he or Lazarus? and he will soon resolve the question, that he now sees, and by woeful experience finds (whatsoever his former thoughts were), that he, not Lazarus, was the silly deluded one; for he, fool-like, preferred the worse things before the better, and refused that which once might have been had; but now he hath slipped the time, it cannot be gained, when this poor man, knowing the day of his visitation, was making sure of that glory which he now enjoys, and shall enjoy for evermore. So that in this parable (if I may so call it) thou shalt find that Scripture confirmed, ‘That the triumphing of the wicked is short’ (Job 20:5). Together with that, ‘That the temptations (or afflictions) of the righteous, which cause heaviness, are but for a season’ (1 Peter 1:6). And in this treatise, both of these are largely opened and explained. Behold, here a rich man clothed in silks, fed with delicates, and faring deliciously every day; but look a little farther, and lo! this man clothed with vengeance, roaring under torments, and earnestly begging for a drop of water to cool his tongue; a sad change. On the other hand, here thou shalt see a poor, but a gracious man, with a pinched belly, naked back, and running sores, begging at the rich man’s gate for a morsel to feed his belly, a sad state, yet but short; for look again, and behold this beggar gloriously carried, as in a chariot of triumph, by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, shining in glory, clothed with beautiful garments, and his soul set down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the Father; his rags are gone, his sores healed, and his soul filled with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; the one carried not his costly fare, and his gorgeous apparel with him into hell; nor the other his coarse diet, mouldy bread, filthy rags, and ulcerous body into heaven; but the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, took their leaves at the grave; the worldly man’s portion was but for his life, and the godly man’s afflictions lasted no longer; ‘For mark the perfect, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace; but the end of the wicked shall be cut off’ (Psa 37:37,38). His present comforts, his future hopes, and his cursed soul together; yea, though he lives many days, and rejoices in them all, yet the days of darkness will overtake him, and his eye shall see no more good; in his life time he enjoyed his good things, and, at the hour of death, legions of devils will beset him, innumerable evils will befal him; and then shall he pay full dear for all the pleasures of sin, that have carried away his heart from closing with, and following the Lord in the day of his prosperity. Ungodly men, because they feel no changes now, they fear none hereafter, but flatter themselves with dying as the godly, though their life is consumed in wickedness, and their strength in providing for and satisfying the lusts of the flesh. But as it fared with wicked Balaam, so shall it fare with these, and their vain hopes will prove a feeding upon ashes through their deceived heart, that hath turned them aside (Isa 44:20). ‘For they that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption’ (Gal 6:8). ‘And they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap the same’ (Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7). But they that sow to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Say ye then to the righteous, ‘It shall go well with him; however it goes with him now, a few days will produce a happy change.’ ‘It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord’ (Eccl 8:12). Go on then, O soul, thou that hast set thy face towards heaven, though the east wind beats upon thee, and thou find trouble and sorrow; these shall endure but for a night, joy will undoubtedly come in the morning; besides those sweet visits thou shalt have from thy precious Saviour, in this thy day of darkness, wait but a while, and thy darkness shall be turned into light. ‘When the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire, wherewith he warmed himself, shall not shine’ (Job 18:5). ‘Grudge not to see the wicked prosper, and their steps washed with butter, but rather put on bowels of mercy and pity, as the elect of God, knowing that they are set in slippery places’ (Psa 73:18). And their day is coming, when fearful horror shall surprise them, and hell be opened to receive them; nor yet be disquieted in thy mind, that troubles and afflictions do beset thee round; for, as a worser thing is reserved for them, so a better is prepared for thee. Do they drink wine in bowls? and dost thou mingle thy tears with thy drink? Do they live in pleasures, and spend their days in wealth? and dost thou sigh and mourn in secret? Well, there is a cup for them in the hand of the Lord, the wine whereof is red, and full of mixture, which they must drink up the dregs (Psa 75:8). And the Lord hath a bottle for thy tears (Psa 56:8). And a book for thy secret sighs, and ere long thy brinish tears shall be turned into the sweetest wine, which thou shalt drink new in the kingdom of the Father, and thy secret sighs into glorious praises; when thy mouth shall be filled with laughter, and thy eyes see the King in his glory.
Now, considering that these lines may be brought to the sight both of the one sort and the other, I shall lay a few things before the thought of each; and first to the worser sort.
First. Consider what an ill bargain thou wilt make, to sell thy precious soul for short continuance in thy sins and pleasures. If that man drives but an ill trade, who, to gain the world, should lose his soul (Matt 16:26), then, certainly, thou art far worse that sells thy soul for a very trifle. O it is pity that so precious a thing should be parted withal, to be made a prey for the devouring lion, for that which is worse than nothing! If they were branded for desperate wretches that caused their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, surely thou much more that gives thy soul to devouring flames, to be fuel for the everlasting fire, upon so unfit terms; what meanest thou, O man, to truck with the devils? Is there no better merchandise to trade in than what comes from hell, or out of the bowels of the earth? and to be had upon no lower rates than thy immortal soul? Yes, surely the merchandise of wisdom, which is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold (Prov 3:14, 8:19), is exposed to sale (Rev 3:18), and to be had without money or price; and if thou shouldest part with anything for it, it is such that it is better to part withal than to keep. The wise merchant that sought a goodly pearl, having found one, sold all that he had, not himself, not his soul, and all that he sold was in itself not worth a farthing, and yet obtained the pearl (Matt 13:45,46). Paul made the like exchange when he threw away his own righteousness, which was but rags, yea, filthy rags (Isa 64:6), and put on the garment of salvation, and cast away to the dunghill that which was once his gain, and won Christ (Phil 3:8). Thou needest not cast away thy soul for puddle pleasures; behold the fountain of living water is set open, and thou invited to it, to take and drink thy belly, thy soul full, without price or money (Isa 55:2).
Secondly. Take a short (yet let it not be a slight) view of the best of the things men prize so high, that for the love of, they lose their souls: what are they? Even painted nothings, promising vanities (like the apples of Sodom, fair to the eye, but being touched, turn to dust; or like our mother Eve’s, that had a beautiful look, but, being tasted, brings forth death), which, from the most part, have proved snares to the owners, and always miserable comforters at the parting; they cannot satisfy in life, for the more of these things are had, the more (with a disquieted spirit) are they reached after, and what comes in serves but to whet up the greedy unsatisfied appetite after more. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof (1 John 2:17). Though most men content themselves with these, yet it is not in these to satisfy them, and had they but one glimpse of the world to come, one cranny of light to discern the riches of Christ, and the least taste of the pleasures that are at the right hand of God (Psa 16:11), they would be as little satisfied without a share in them, as they are now with what of worldly things they enjoy; much less can they ease from pain at death. Clap a bag of gold (as one once did) to thy sinking spirit, pained body, and tormented conscience, and it can neither cheer up the one, nor appease the other, least of all can they deliver from, or yield comfort after death; those cannot serve as a bribe to death to pass thee by, nor yet bring comfort to thy soul when thou art gone. The rich fool’s large crop and great increase could not procure one night’s respite, nor one moment’s comfort. Besides, God regards them so little, that frequently he gives the largest share of them to whom he hateth most (Psa 17:14), and the least to them who are the excellent in the earth, in whom his soul delights, although he hath made them heirs of the kingdom (James 2:5). Yet doth he bestow such a small portion of these worldly things upon them, hereby declaring to all how little he sets by those things which most set so much by, and to draw up our hearts, minds, and affections to the things above; yea, His own Son that he appointed heir of all things (Heb 1:2) shall come forth neither of rich kindred, nor attended with gallants, nor yet accoutered with the world’s glory, but in a low, mean, and abject condition, at whose birth a manger received him; and through his life sorrows, wants, and sufferings did attend, and at the end a shameful death, in the world’s esteem, befals him, and by all this he shows his contempt of the worldly man’s darling. Cast not away thy soul then, O man, in seeking after, solacing thyself in, and contenting thyself with this present world; for though thou mayest make gold thy hope, and put thy confidence in thy wealth, yet when this thy hope shall fail, and thy confidence slip from thee (as sure it will ere long), glad wouldst thou be of the least drop of the water of life, and the least filing of that precious gold (that thou art now called upon to drink of, and to buy for thyself); but, alas, they shall not be had. Then, O then, what profit will thy treasures of wickedness yield thee; and whereto will thy thick clay that thou hast hoarded up, and thy carnal pleasures which thou hast drunk down, as the fish drinks down water; whereto, I say, will they serve, unless to weigh thee the deeper into hell, and increase the fire, when it shall be kindled upon thee?
Thirdly. Look upon thy loss, too, which is such that ten thousand worlds cannot repair—thy soul, thy body, thy comforts, thy hopes, thy share in a crucified Jesus, the crown of life, and everlasting communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit, blessed angels, and glorified saints, and a soul-satisfying, soul-saving Christ, who came from the bosom of love, and gave himself to open a way to everlasting glory, by the sacrifice of himself, to whom thou art called, invited, and persuaded to come; whose heart is open, arms spread, and who hath room enough in his bosom to receive thee, grace enough to pardon thee, blood enough to justify thee, treasures enough to enrich thee, pleasures enough to delight thee (Psa 36:8), and glory enough to crown thee; in whom it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell (Col 1:19); to make them perfectly blessed that come to him, so that there is no need to seek happiness among the creatures, which most do, and thereby lose true happiness, and their souls too. Turn in hither, and thou shalt eat of his bread, and drink of the wine which he hath mingled (Prov 9:4,5). Wouldst thou fare deliciously every day, and have thy soul delight itself in fatness? (Isa 55:2). Hearken diligently, and come to the wedding; the oxen and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready (Matt 22:5). I tell thee, whatsoever food thou feedest upon else, will prove no better to thee than the prodigal’s husks (Luke 15:16). That will starve thee whilst thou feedest on them; and if thou drinkest of other wine, it will prove as a cup of wine mixed with poison, which though it be pleasant to the taste, it will be the death of thy soul. Wilt thou, then, lose this Christ, this food, this pleasure, this heaven, this happiness, for a thing of nought? Wilt thou drink out of a puddle, a broken cistern which leaks out the water, and holds nothing but mud, and refuse the fountain of living water, which, whosoever tastes of, shall live for ever?
Fourthly. Beware of persuading thyself into a conceit of the poor man’s end, if thou livest the rich man’s life, and diest his death. It is strange to see how many run swift by the very way to hell, yet are full of confidence of going to heaven, though Scripture everywhere shuts them out, and Christ at last will certainly shut them out for ever hereafter, living and dying in their present state. Let none, therefore, deceive you, neither deceive yourselves, for none such can enter into the kingdom of heaven. But for these things’ sake cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience (1 Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5,6). And how sad will thy disappointment be, that goest on securely fearing nothing, being fully, yet falsely, persuaded of eternal life at last, and then drop down into the bottomless pit! Like wicked Haman, that dreamed of greater honour, but behold a gallows; or our mother Eve, who conceited to be as God, but became a cursed creature. Though the devil may persuade thee thou mayest live as in hell here, yet in heaven hereafter, believe him not, for he endeavours to keep thee in his snares, that he may drag thee to hell with him; and the better to effect his devilish design upon thee, he will present (and through his cursed subtlety knows how to do it) thy sins and this world in as lovely and taking a guise as may be, but will hide the evil consequences from thine eyes, that thou mightest be inveigled by gazing on the one, and not be affrighted by beholding the other; his bait shall be pleasant, but his hook hid, like the strumpet in Proverbs 7, that entices the simple with fair words, but conceals that the way to her house leads to the chambers of death; nothing appears but a bed richly furnished, and a promise of solacing him with loves; but he that followeth after her, goeth as an ox to the slaughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocks.
Fifthly. This is thy day to prevent the loss of the one, and to get an interest in the other; this is the day of salvation, the accepted day of the Lord (2 Cor 6:2). Let the sun of this day be set before this work be done, and an everlasting night of darkness will close thee in, wherein thou, thou shalt have time enough indeed to bemoan thy folly, but none to learn to grow wiser. It is a sad thing, especially in soul concernments, to be wise too late, and to cry out when time is past, O that I had improved it when it was present. Then will the remembrance of thy former misspent time, and thy despair of ever gaining more, be like poisoned arrows drinking up they spirit. Amongst all the talents God hath entrusted man withal, this is not the least, because on it depends eternity; and according to the use we make of this, will our eternal condition be, though the most of men live at such a rate as if it was given them to no other end than to waste in wickedness, and consume in pleasures. What means else their spending days, weeks, months, years, yea, their whole life, in whoring, swearing, playing, coveting, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, so that when they come to die, the great work that they were sent to do is then to be done; their souls, Christ, eternity, was scarce thought on before; but now, when merciless death begins to gripe them, then do they begin to bethink themselves of those things which they should have got in readiness before, and that is the reason why we so often hear many that lie upon their death-beds to cry out for a little longer time; and no wonder, for they have the salvation of their souls to seek. O sad case! to have their work to do when the night is come, and a Christ to seek when death hath found them; take therefore the counsel of the Holy Ghost (Heb 3:7), ‘To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ Mark, it is the Spirit’s counsel. True, the devil and thine own heart will tell thee another tale, and be ready to whisper in thine ears, Thou mayest have time enough hereafter; what need of so much haste, another day may serve as well; let thy soul be filled with pleasure a little longer, and thy bags filled a little more; thou mayest have time for this and that too. O, but this is the suggestion of an enemy, that would cause thee to defer so long, that thy heart may grow too hard, and thine ear too heavy to hear at all; but, certainly, this being the greatest business, challengeth the first and greatest care (Matt 6:33). And let this be done; then, if thou shalt either have so much time to spare, or a heart to do it, take thy time for the other.
Sixthly. This day of thy mercy and Christ’s importunity will not last long; it is but a day, and that a day of visitation. Indeed it is rich grace that there should be a day, but dally not because it is but a day. Jerusalem had her day, but because therein she did not know the things of her peace, a pitch night did overtake (Luke 19:42,43). It is a day of patience, and if thou despisest the riches of God’s goodness, patience, and long-suffering towards thee, and art not thereby led to repentance (Rom 2:5), a short time will make it a day of vengeance. Though now Christ calls, because he is willing to save sinners, yet he will not always call; see then that thou refuse not him that speaks from heaven in this gospel day (Heb 12:25). But seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near (Isa 55:6), lest thou criest after him hereafter, and he refuse thee. It is not crying, Lord, Lord, when the day of grace is past, that will procure the least crumb of mercy (Matt 7:21). No, if thou comest not when called, but stayest while supper is ended, thou shalt not taste thereof (Luke 14:24), though a bit would save thy life, thy soul; if thou drinkest not of the fountain while it is opened, thou shalt not when it is shut, though thou beggest with tears of blood for one drop to cool thy scorching flaming heart; thou that mightest have had thy vessel full, and welcome, shall not now have so much as will hang on the tip of a finger. O! remember, the axe is laid to the root of the tree (Matt 3:10). And although three years’ time may be granted, through the vine-dresser’s importunity, that will soon be expired, and then the axe that is now laid, shall cut up the tree by its roots, if it bring not forth good fruit. Seest thou not that many of late have been snatched away, on each side of thee (by that hand that hath been stretched out and is so still)? and though thou mayest escape a while, yet hast thou no assurance that the destroying angel will long pass by thy door. O then, neglect thy soul no longer, but consider time is short, and uncertain, eternity long, thy work great, thy soul immortal, this world vanishing, Christ precious, hell hot, and heaven desirable.
And if thou beest a Christian (to whom this may come) that hast not only had a prize in thy hands, but wisdom given thee from above to make use of it, and art one who (whilst others are seeking to make this world and hell together sure to themselves) spendest thy time, and makest it thy only business, to make sure of the one thing necessary, and heaven to thy soul, I shall lay two or three things before thy thoughts.
First. Walk with a fixed eye upon the world to come. Look not at the things that are seen, that are temporal, but at the things which are not seen, that are eternal (2 Cor 4:18). A Christian’s eye should be upon his journey’s end, as our Lord Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross (Heb 12:2). When the stones flew about Stephen’s ears, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55,56). What though thou at present mayest lie at the rich man’s gates, yet a few days will translate thee into Abraham’s bosom. Though Israel had a sharp voyage through the wilderness, yet Caleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land they were going to. Though graceless souls are too dull sighted to see afar off (2 Peter 1:9), yet thou that hast received the unction from above, dost in some measure know what is the hope of thy calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
Secondly. Be satisfied with thy present condition, though it be afflictive, for it shall not last always. Thy sorrows shall be short, and thy joys long; roll thyself upon the Lord, for there is a heaven will pay for all; Christ first endured the cross before he wore the crown. David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. The poor man spoken of in this ensuing treatise, before he was carried into heaven, had experiences of sorrow and sufferings on earth. Let the flesh be silent in passing judgment on the dispensations of God towards thee, and the men of this world, in this present life. David, by prying too far herein with his own wisdom, had almost caught a fall (Psa 73). Though God’s judgments may be too deep for our reason to dive into, yet are they always righteous, and his paths mercy and truth to those that keep his covenants (Psa 25:10). When Jeremiah would debate with the Lord concerning his judgments in the wicked’s prosperity, he would lay this down as an indubitable truth, that his judgments were righteous (Jer 12:1). And his end was not to charge God, but to learn understanding of him in the way of his judgments; and although the ways of his providence may be dark to his people, that they cannot discern his footsteps, yet are they always consistent with his everlasting covenant, and the results of the favour he bears to them. If the wicked flourish like the grass, it is that they should be destroyed for ever (Psa 92:7). And if the godly have many a wave beating upon them, yet will the Lord command his loving-kindness in the day time (Psa 42:7,8). And, after a little while being tossed to and fro in these boisterous waves, they shall arrive at the heavenly haven, this world being not their resting-place, but there remains one for them (Heb 4:9).
Thirdly. Let the faith and hopes of a glorious deliverance get thy heart up above thy present sufferings, that thou mayest glory in tribulation who hast ground of rejoicing in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2,3). For whatsoever thy present grievances are, whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations, this may be thy consolation that a few days will rid thee of them; when thou shalt sigh no more, complain no more, but those shall be turned into praises. Thou hast (if I may so call it) all thy hell here; let thy life be expired, and thy misery is ended; thy happiness begins, where wicked men’s end; and when thine is once began, it shall have no more end.
Reader, I have an advertisement to thee concerning the following discourse, and the author of it. Thou hast in the discourse many things of choice consideration presented to thee in much plainness, evidence, and authority; the replications are full, the applications are natural. Be not offended at his plain and downright language, it is for the discharge of the author’s conscience, and thy profit, besides the subject necessarily leads him to it. It is a mercy to be dealt thoroughly and plainly with in the matters of thy soul. We have too many that sow pillows under men’s elbows, and too few who, dealing plainly, divide to every man his portion. Read it not to pick quarrels with it, but to profit by it; and let not prejudice either against the author, or manner of delivery, cause thee to stumble and fall at the truth. Prejudice will both blind the eye that it shall not see the truth, and close it in with it, and make them too quick- sighted, either to make faults where there is none, or to greaten them where they are; and so cause the reader to turn the edge against the author or his work, that should be turned upon his own heart. It is marvellous to see how the truth is quarrelled at that comes from one, that would be easily received it if did drop from another; and I doubt not, if this book had some other hand at it, there is scarce any expression that may be now carpt at by some, but would have been swallowed without straining. We are now fallen into such an age (the good Lord help us) that truth, upon its own account, can challenge but little acceptance, except the author be liked, or his lines painted with his own wit. But certainly truth is of so excellent a nature, of such singular advantage, and of so royal a descent, that it deserves entertainment for itself, and that not in our houses or heads only, but in our hearts too. Whatsoever the hand is that brings it, or the form that it appears in, men account gold worth receiving, whatsoever the messenger is that brings it, or the vessel that holds it.
If thou meetest (reader) with any passage that seems doubtful unto thee, let love that thinks no evil put the best construction upon it, and do not hastily condemn what thou canst not presently yield to; or if any expression thou meetest with may (haply) offend thee, do not throw aside the whole, and resolve to read of it no more; for though some one may offend thee, yet others (I hope) may affect thee; or if there be that which some may call tautology, be not displeased at it; for that word that may not fasten upon thy heart in one page, may in another; and although it may be grievous to thy eye (if thou beest nice and curious), yet bear with it, if it may be profitable to thy soul.
Concerning the author (whatsoever the censures and reports of many are) I have this to say, that I verily believe God hath counted him faithful, and put him into the ministry; and though his outward condition and former employment was mean, and his human learning small, yet is he one that hath acquaintance with God, and taught by his Spirit, and hath been used in his hand to do souls good; for to my knowledge there are divers who have felt the power of the word delivered by him; and I doubt not but that many more may, if the Lord continue him in his work; he is not like unto your drones, that will suck the sweet, but do no work. For he hath laid forth himself to the utmost of his strength, taking all advantages to make known to others what he himself hath received of God, and I fear this is one reason why the archers have shot so sorely at him; for by his and others’ industry in their Master’s work, their slothfulness hath been reproved, and the eyes of many have been opened to see a difference between those that are sent of God and those that run before they are sent. And that he is none of those light fanatic spirits that our age abounds withal, this following discourse, together with his former, that have been brought to public view, will testify; for among other things that may bear record to him herein, you shall find him magnifying and exalting the Holy Scriptures, and largely showing the worth, excellency, and usefulness of them.
And yet surely if thou shalt (notwithstanding this) stumble at his meanness and want of human learning, thou wilt declare thine unacquaintance with God’s declared method, who to perfect his own praise, and to still the enemy and avenger, makes choice of babes and sucklings, and in their mouths ordaineth strength (Psa 8:2). Though men that have a great design, do, and must make use of those that in reason are most likely to effect it, yet must the Lord do so too? Then instruments (not himself) would carry away the praise; but that no flesh should glory in his presence, he hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and base things of the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen (1 Cor 1:27-29). Cast thine eye back to the beginning of the gospel dispensation (which surely, if at any time, should have come forth in the wisdom and glory of the world), and thou shalt see what method the Lord did take at the first to exalt his son Jesus: he goes not amongst the Jewish rabbis, nor to the schools of learning, to fetch out his gospel preachers, but to the trades, and those most contemptible too; yet let not any from hence conceive that I undervalue the gifts and graces of such who have been, or now are endued with them, nor yet speak against learning being kept in its place; but my meaning is, that those that are learned should not despise those that are not; or those that are not, should not despise those that are, who are faithful in the Lord’s work: and therefore being about to leave thee, I shall leave with thee two Scriptures to be considered of. The one is John 13:20, Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send (mark whomsoever) receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. The other is Luke 10:16, He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
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