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To the dearly beloved Ministers of the Gospel, (much
to be reverenced in Chrift) now at length, by the wonderful Providence of God, restored to Liberty: Addressed as a humble Supplication to the more aged, and as an Exhortation to younger Minilters and Candidates.
Reverend Fathers, and Brethren in Chrift,
1 to our fancy, yet we ought to have a great liking to those, which the Spirit himself hath authorised in scripture. There he hath represented, and painted to the life, the deliverance of his suffering church, by the sweet delights of the advancing Spring, Cant. ii. 12.
In the Spring, the Earth, like a moft bountiful parent, opens her bosom, produces variety of herbs, adorns the meadows with abundance of flowers; the trees, which had been stript of their former green leaves, are clothed with new ones; the cold being now driven away, the air becomes warm, and the cattle bring home udders full of milk; Then joyous birds frequent the lonely groves. ,
DRYDEN's Virgil. All nature is renewed and smiles; the season is kindly, favourable, and admirably well adapted to the benefit of all things, chiefly of those endued with life. All which things have been, in a very elaborate and ingenious manner, applied by our learned countryman Brightman, to that remarkable period, when Cyrus published that edict of his, (which can never
* This letter was originally wrote in Latin, the author judging it i neceffary to be so, as what allowed him a greater freedom of ex
preslion, than might seem convenient at that time in the common language ; yet, that every reader might be profited by it, the publilher of this edition hath thought fit to translate it into English. It has a reference to the troubles before, and the blellings after the Revolution.
be füfficiently commended) for ferting God's people at liberty. The enlivening beams of a like providential interpofition, like the fun entering the fign of Aries, have made us, who were half-dead, to revive.
We are not infenfible, as our wounds are yet green, what great and sharp afflictions we have suffered for many years, by.' paft, for conscience fake. Alas, what fad things have we not seen! what oppressions have we not unjuftly endured, during this rough, disinal, and every-way destructive winter? We have seen the sea swelling with dreadful storms, by reason of which, some being amazed and confounded, they hoised fail to any wind whatsoever: 'we have feen trees that excelled others, both in fruitfulness and comelinefs, beat down and laid low by the ftormy winds; others, which bare neither fruit nor leaves, have been, as it were, blasted. Mountains have we seen become white with hoar-frost, rivers locked up in ice, lands covered, nay, buried in snow; flocks of fowls, and herds of cate' tle 'starved with hunger, wandering up and down in great want; cunning fowlers fpreading their nets, and infnaring many: In a word, we have feen Chriit's church (alas !) pierced with arrows.' winged with her own feathers; the civil ftate founded on laws, almost fubverted by laws; every thing having a bad aspect, and growing daily worse and worse.
Long and fore have we been tossed in the sea of trouble ; in our youth we were plunged into it, we are come out of it in old age : our case has been the same with what happened at the siege of Tyre, Ezek. xxix. 18. Every head is made bald, and every shoulder is peeled ; but yet all these things seem troublefome rather than wonderful, to any one who seriously considers the things prophesied by the great apostle, 2 Tim. üi. 1. In the last days, perilous times shall come. Of which perilous times, * Lactantius writes thus : "When the end of this world. 6 is approaching, the state of human affairs muft needs be "greatly changed, and grow worse, through the prevalency of
wickedness ; in so much that this present age, wherein sin and " wickedness have been arrived to the greatest pitch, may,
when compared with that abandoned and incorrigible age, • be juftly deemed the happy and golden one. For then righ• teousness shall decrease, and ungodliness, avarice, ambition, 6. and lust increase: so that whosoever shall happen then to be « sober and religious, shall become a prey to the wicked, and • be greatly harrassed by the unrighteous ; the vicious alone
* Laftan. Hih, 7o. de divino premio, p. 578, 579.
bag ago bI
,' shall be prosperous and happy, while the people of God thall in the study I meet with every kind of bad treatment, and be reduced to in he is so'
extreme poverty. All right shall be confounded, laws shall taken off fr • perish; then no body shall possess any thing but what is ill
frecelt plez got, or what he is obliged to defend by force ; rapine and vi
we are exha • olence shall carry every thing before them: there shall be no
i gives me « fidelity among men, no peace, no humanity, po shame, no
wat in my li ( truth, and neither safety nor order, nor any rest from trouble; < for the whole earth shall be in confusion, and the noise and
n my God • din of war heard every where; all nations shall be up in wortunit ' arms, and attack one another ; neighbouring states shall warpien me to ' among themselves ; destruction shall run over the face of the • earth, cutting down every thing, and laying it along, as corn: These fin • fields are in harvest. The reason of which dreadful calami mportune ' ty and strange confusion, will be this, That the Roman name,
btulge a h which has subdued the whole world, shall then (I tremble to tuštiv i • utter it, but, since it is certain, utter it I must be quite ex.
and stinet.' 'What think you, reader, is not this a description of our
Drsmall own times, or muft we wait longer, till that pernicious and Here vo wicked race of men shall appear upon the stage? That this hath been fulfilled in our late troubles, none fure can kielitate te; pith that hath any discernment.
But God at length, pitying our distreffes, hath raised up a pak upon man *, both zealous for the truth, and a lover of godlinelsy boldly to assert his cause in the face of danger and toil, and to put a new face on things. Concerning this time it shall be faid, What wonderful things hath God done ? Now every im. pediment being removed, and the dreadful storm calmed, (which scatters up and down like stubble).our gracious God doth in this manner bespeak us, Rise up, my love, my fur one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the finger ing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. As if he had said, You have been long enough conhned at home; come now (for you may safely come) abroad. There is the greatest appearance of safety and incitement to labour every where. Thus the severity of the Winter recommende to us the pleasures of the Spring. .
For my part, I had no sooner heard the joyful news of Love berty, than presently I began to prepare myself for my prope, and much longed for:work; for if so much pleasure is tot
ih; but to sity, is the
I'mified C is the char
1. Let u I mean, w
w grief to Jeremiah
*WILLIAM III. Prince of ORANGE.
in the study of the mathematics, that when one has tasted of it, he is fo'ravished and bewitched with it, that he cannot be taken off from the study of them; it will certainly be the sweetest pleasure of all, to employ our labours, however much we are exhausted, for the glory of Christ, and good of souls : it gives me therefore no small pleasure, that at length I may put in my lickle, which hath been long in disuse, into the Lord's harvest, together with the rest of my fellow-labourers. Thanks to my God, who hath not only seasonably opened a door of opportunity, but hath also (which I earnestly supplicated for) given me to see the happy effects of found doctrine, and hath long ago blessed it unto many.
These first-fruits of Restored Liberty, and which many have importuned me to publish, I now most humbly offer unto you. Indulge a brother, the weakest of all, and one who reckons himfelf justly inferior to all the fervants of Christ; if, on this fig. n al and most extraordinary occasion, Christian zeal should break forth a little more freely than may be suitable either to my small share of learning or experience
Here your preacher hath not fought after the pomp of eloquence.. Through the whole I have used a popular, not polite, ftile; pithy, not showy: for I thought it might be justly said concerning Theology, what Cicero fays of Philosophy, That to talk upon subjects of that nature in an elaborate stile, is childish; but to be capable of delivering with plainness and perfpi. cuity, is the part of a learned and knowing man. I should be juftly displeased with myself, if I preached the doctrine of a crucified Christ, in a stile unbecoming his crofs; which surely is the character of a stile pompous and swelling.
These things being premifed,
I. Let us rejoice in our liberty, with a joy duely moderated ; I mean, with a joy equally balanced, and guarded on all hands by grief for past fins, and dread of future ones. We read in Jeremiah, of the voice of fighing and weeping, with which the faithful would, about the time of their deliverance, confess their fins, by which they had provoked God, and would lincerely bewail them with contrite hearts. And how suitable was that fong of the church, even at the laying the foundation, of the second temple; a song equally composed of joyful shout
ing, and abundant weeping, Ezra iii. 10. + Many weeped with ..^ a loud voice, many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people
« could not discern the noise of the shout of joy, from the noise 6. of the weeping of the people." Nor are the faints, afhamed VOL. IV. . .
to confess their falls and shameful deeds to the glory of Gods wicked, for nothing is a loss to us, which redounds to his glory. Our antius countenance must in his fight be comely and amiable, when he "a free fees penitential tears mixed with those of joy and thank giving. It is ine character of a true penitent to lament his faults, that he l'ae in may not again commit things to be lamented.
Afaph has set before us an illustrious example of penitence, Pleso Pfal. lxxiv, 8. Remember not (says he) against us our former * mer iniquities. God is said to remember iniquities, when calling 'fore fins to an account, and judging of their greatness and nudibery . We he refolyes to punish. Afaph speaks of God after the manner of men ; for they, when greatly offended, and about to punila. their children, do then call to mind all their former faults : let us, in like manner, reflect on ours, and sincerely bewail our past Nothful conduct, an unhappy concomitant of liberty: Taus. we have neither flamed with ardent love on the one hand, nor grieved with that degree of forrow which was requilite on the other : we have oftentimes spoken more from the head tian from the heart. We have both prayed and preached too too coldly about matters the most awful and important. We have not followed the footsteps of those worthies that went before us! in the last age, so as to come up with them. We have been at small pains to support the majesty of religion, by the gras. vity of our conversation, and the usefulness of our dilcourtes For which cause our God has conceived just anger againit us and has manifested that by the past calamities; and by lo manifesting it hath plainly admonished us to be on our guard tos the time to come.
II. Therefore brethren, I earnestly beg of you, in the bowels. of Christ, that you will not forget these words of the apolte, If it be posible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with a men, Rom. xii. 18. There is added a twofold limitation, firley If it be posible, that is, consistently with justice, piety, and truth : Such a regard is not to be had to truth, as that the Itudy of peace be entirely neglected; nor is such unity to be Tougat after, as destroys truth; but speak the truth in love, as the lame apostle exhorts, Eph. iv. 15. For, as our countryman MI. Davenant justly observes, they love neither from the heart, who love not hoth. Christians therefore, when they both live peaceably in owning the truth, and speak the truth in love, are a great ornament to their profession. The other limitation løg As much as lieth in you, that is, live in friendship with all, it 1€ be possible ; and if they will not be friendly, on their part, ba sure you be fo on yours. Truch begets hatred among the