« הקודםהמשך »
done it; but to tell you what men Christ's ministers should be. But say not, “ he killed himself with excessive labour, therefore I will take warning, and take my ease.” For, 1. He lived in perfect health all his days, notwithstanding all his labours, till after his hard and long imprisonment. 2. It was not the greatest labour of his times of liberty that hurt him, but his preaching six, seven, or eight times in a week, after be was silenced, because he could not speak to all his people at once. O make not an ill use of so excellent an example; say not, like Judas, “ What needs this waste?" "His labours, his life, his sufferings, his death, were not in vain. The ages to come, that read his life, and read his little popular treatise, and his Call to Archippus, shall say they were not in vain. And tho' he was cut off in the midst of his age, and his longer labours and more elaborate writings thus prevented, take thankfully this small, but methodical, warm, and serious Tractate: read it seriously, and it cannot be but that it must do thee good.
I am one that have looked into books, sciences, and speculations of many sorts, and seriously tell thee, as a dying man, that, after all my searches and experience, I have found that philosophical inquiries into the divine artifices and nature of things, have, among a great number of uncertainties, a great many pretty pleasaut probabilities, which a holy soul can make good use of in admiring God, and may find us a lawful kind of sport; but in the moralities, which Atheists count upcertainties, the knowledge of God, and our duty and our hopes, the doctrine and practice of holiness, tenperance, charity, and justice, and the diligent seeking and joyful hopes of life everlasting, is all the true wisdom, goodness, rest, and comfort, of a soul. Whatever be the plea, this is the sanctifying certainly, the business, and the beautiful improvement, of our lives.
HOW well it were, if there were no more unconyerted ones among us, than those to whom this is directed! Unconverted persons, how many are there! but how few. unconverted readers, especially of such books as this before thee! A play, or a romance better suits the lasts, and therefore must have more of the eye of such; what will cherish the evil heart only is most grateful,—not what will change it, How many are there to whom this is directed, who will not know that they are the men and how little hope is there that this excellent treatise should reach its end with those that apprehend themselves not con cerned in it!--Art thou not one of them? Art thou a convert, or art thou yet in thy sins ? What is sin ? What is conversion ?-It may be thou canst tell me neither, and yet thou sayest a convert thou'art: But to what purpose is it then like to be, for the servants of God to treat with thee about this matter? Let them bid thee believe,—thou art a believer already: let themi bid thee repent and turn to the Lord, ---that work (thou sayest) is not to do now. What can there be said to this man that is like to bring him to good? Friend, know thiyself better, or thou perisbest without remedy. Thou mayest pray, but what hope is there in thy praying? Thou mayest read, but what hope is there in thy reading? Yet read on; this little hope there is, in this book there's eye-salve that may heal thee of thy blindness. In this book there is a glass that will show thee thy face. Dost thou know thy own face when thou seest it? Behold thy very image in those marks that are given of an unconverted person; read and consider them, and then say if thou be not the man..
le" Be willing to know thyself, and to know the worst of thy case: wink not at the light: hide not thyself from thine own soul. Wilt thou never know thy disease till it be past remedy?
« Much of our hardest work would be over, if we 'could see the singers to whom we are sent, to be con
vinced sinners. If we could but open the blind eyes, there were hopes we should shortly raise the dead.
“ Sinner, of a truth thou art in an evil case, .wbether thou know it or not; thou art among the dead, and there is but one step between thee and hell. Thou wilt not believe it, though it be told thee; yet once again let me beseech thee, come to the glass that is here presented to thee, and narrowly observe whether the very marks of the dead be not found upon thee.
“ If there be miscarriages in this first work, if thot wilt not understand thy misery and thy danger, there is an end of all hope concerning thee. Whilst selfignorance abides upon thee, all the counsels that are necessary to a man in thy case will do thee no good; they are never like to prosper with thee, because thou wilt not count them proper for thee. Who will be persuaded to do that which he believes is already done? Who will take the counsel of the physician, that does not think himself sick? The man of God may spare his pains of persuading thee to conversion, whilst thou art confident thou art converted already. Who will be at the pains of repentance, that concludes he hath repented? Who will be at the labour and pangs of the new-birth, that is confident he is already passed from death unto life?
“ But, friend, let me reason a little with thee: Thou art confident it is well with thee; yet why wilt thou not yield to thus much at least, to put it to the question, Am I not mistaken? Thou art worse than mad, is thou thinkest such a question may not be put. Dost thou not know, that the heart is false and deceitful? Yet because it speaks good concerning thee, must it not be questioned whether it speaks true or no? Be so wise as to conclude, I may be mistaken; and thus come to the trial whether thou art mistaken or not.
“ And if upon trial, by the marks that are before thee, thou come to be undeceived, and see thyseli wrapped up in that misery which hitherto thou wouldst not suspect, the next news I expect to hear from thee is, What shall I do to be saved ? O were it come to that once! then thou hast an answer at hand in those means thou wilt find prescribed thee: and be. cause they are such as thou wilt hardly be persuaded to use, take in the motives that follow, and they will help down the means: consider both the one and the other, and if thou dost not find the means proper, and the motives weighty, I think I shall do thee no wrong if I tell thee, thou art still of a blind mind, and a harder heart. > .
“ Friend, the matter which this little book comes to treat with thee about, is of the highest importance, 'tis a matter of life or death. If thou sayest; The terms upon which life is offered are hard; consider, is it not harder to die? He is worthy to die who will lose his soul to save his labour. If thou couldst step down into the deep, and take a turn or two with those damn. ed souls who are drenched with fire and brimstone, and bound in everlasting chains of vengeance, and should ask them, Now what do you think of the terms upon which life was offered ? Now what think you of that repentance, of that obedience, of that circumspection, self-denial, and the greatest severity, which by the gospel were imposed upon you? If you might once again have the same terms granted you for your redemption from this place of torment, would you yet say, Hard terms ? let me rather die this death for ever, than live such a life? let me broil in this furnace, rather than escape with such difficulty? Shouldst thou ask them thus that have felt what it is to be damned, what answer dost thou think they would make? O friend! never again groan under the difficulties of conversion, till thou believe them to be worse than hell. But I will no farther anticipate my worthy author.
“ Nor is there much need I should commend either himself or his works; for the author himself thou mayest at a small charge get acquainted with, in that history of his life and death which is extant, concerning which I shall only say,
" Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori."
“ And for this work of his, what commendation I shall give of it will be needed no longer than till thou hast read it over: thou wilt find such wine in it as needs no bush. This only shall I say, as far as my credit will go, it is exceedingly well worth thy most seriouş perusal. O mayest thou hear that voice (such a voice from heaven there is, whether thou hear it or no) Tolle & Lege-Take up and read. Read, friend, and read over again, read and understand, understand and pray, pray and consider, and consent unto him, who by the pen of his servant calls to thee froin heaven, Why wilt thou die? Turn and live. O suffer this work of instruction and exhortation to open thy blind eyes, to turn thee from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that thou mayest receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified, Et cum talis fueris, memento mei. When it is thus with thee, then pray for
“ The friend and servant of thy soul,
“ RICHARD ALLEINE.”