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Farewel, dear Sir, I take my leave, and now
The Epistle, to the intelligent Country READER. HOU haft here the fruit of some of my spare hours,
which were thus employed, when, by a sad providence, I was thrust from the society of many dear friends, into a solitary country dwelling. I hope none will envy me these inno. cent delights, which I made out of my.lonely walks, whereby the Lord sweetened my folitudes there. It is like thou wilt find some passages here, that are harmlesly pleasant; yet, I assure thee, I know of none that the most Cynical Reader can censure, as finfully light and vain. I must acknowledge, to the praise of God, that I have found some of those (which possibly some of my readers will call the slightest, and most trifling subjects of meditation) to be the ordinances for instruction, caution, and confolation to my own soul: yea, such a degree of comfort, I do profess to have found by these things, as hath much indeared the country-life to me, and made me much better to understand that saying of Horace, thar when I learned it at school,
Novistine locum potiorem rure beato?
What life can with the country life compare ?
And, when I deep, bid all my cares adieu. Hor. Sat. 6. And what I have found so beneficial to myself, I cannot but think may be fo to others. I affure thee, reader, I am not fond of any of these conceptions; and yet I think I may modestly enough say, That the emptieft leaf in this book may ferve for more, and better uses, than a mere diversion, when thou canst find leisure to peruse it. I know, your troubles and cares are many; and though your condition of life hath
many innocent comforts, and outward mercies to sweeten it, yet I believe most of you have found that ancient saying of Anacreon experimentally true: Εχει τι πικρον της λεοργιας γλυκυ. • Some bitter troubles countrymen do meet,
Wherewith the Lord doth intermix their sweet.'
The cares of your minds are commonly no less than the pains of
your bodies ; it concerns you, therefore, to sweeten what you cannot avoid; and I know no better way for that, than what is here directed to. O friends! what advantages have you for a spiritual life? Why may you not have two har velts every year? One for your souls, another for your bodies; if you could thus learn to husband your husbandry. Methinks spiritual meditations do even put themselves upon yon. Hufbandmen of old were generally presumed to be honest and good men ; what else means that saying of Menander, Aaporkas Evcil πρισποινή πονερος ων.
6. Profess thyself an husbandman,
What 'you are, godly or wicked, is not for me (that am a stranger to most of you) to determine; but if you are not godly, it is my desire and design to make you fo: and I could not thinkon a more probable means to accomplish this honest design, than what I have here used. Methinks it should be a pleasure to you, when you come weary out of the fields from plow, or any other labour, to fit down in the evening, and read that chapter which concerns that particular business, and refresh your souls, even from that which hath wearied
bodies. Were your hearts but heavenly, and more time allowed for fpiritual husbandry, your inward comforts would be much more, and your outward gains not a jot less; for if the success of all your civil labours, and employments, depend upon the pleasure and will of God (as all that are not Atheifts do acknowledge) then, certainly, your business can succeed never the worse for your endeavours to please him, upon whose pleafure it so entirely depends. I have many times lifted up my heart to heaven, whilft these papers were under my hand, for a special blessing to accompany them, when they should be in yours. If the Lord accomplish my defires by them upon your fouls, you fhall enjoy two heavens, one here, and another hereafter. Would not that be fweet? The historian tells us, that Altitus Serarius was fowing corn in the field, when Q. Cincinnatus came to hiin bare-headed, with letters from the fenate, signifying, that he was chosen to the dictatorship. I hope the Lord will so bless, and succeed these labours, that many of you will be called from holding the plow on earth, to wear the crown of glory in heaven; which is the sincere desire of
Your hearty well-wisber,
The AUTHOR to the READER.
To hear the way prescrib'd of growing rich ;
value, thou wouldst quickly say,
THE PRO E M.
1 Cor. iii. 9. Te are God's Husbandry.
H E scope and defign of the following chapters, being the
spiritual improvement of husbandry, it will be neceffary, by way of proem, to acquaint the reader with the foundation, and general rules of this art in the scriptures, thereby to procure greater respect unto, and prevent prejudice against composur of this kind.
To this end, I shall entertain the reader a little whil
what this scripture affords us, which will give a fair intr duction to the following discourse.
The apostle's fcope in the context being to check and re press the vain glory and emulation of the Corinthians, who instead of thankfulness for, and an humble and diligent im provement of the excellent blessings of the ministry, turned all into vain oftentation and emulation, one preferring Paul, and another Apollos; in the mean time depriving themselves of the choice bleslings they might have received from them both.
To cure this growing mischief in the churches, he checks their vanity, and discovers the evil of such practices by several arguments, amongst which this is one.
Ye are God's Husbandry, q. d. What are ye, but a field, or plot of ground, to be manured and cultivated for God? And what are Paul, Apollos, and Ceo phas, but so many workmen and labourers, employed by God, the great husbandman, to plant and water you all?
If, then, you shall glory in some, and despise others, you take the ready way to deprive yourselves of the benefits and mercies you might receive from the joint ministry of them all. God hath used me to plant you, and Apollo to water you ; you are obliged to bless him for the ministry of both, and it will be your fin if you despise either. If the workmen be discouraged in their Iabours, it is the field that loses and suffers by it; so that the words are a fimilitude, serving to illustrate the relation,
1. Which the churches have to God.
1. The relation betwixt God and them is like that of an husbandman to his ground or tillage. The Greek word fignifies God's † arable, or that plot of ground which God manures. by the ministry of pastors and teachers.
2. It serves to illustrate the relation that the ministers of Christ sustain to the churches, which is like that of the husband's fervants to him, and his fields; which excellent notion carries in it the perpetual necessity of a gospel-ministry. (For what fruit can be expected, where there are none totill the ground ?) As also the diligence, accountableness, and rewards which these labourers are to give to, and receive from God, the great
husbandman. All runs into this,
* The faithful (or believers) are called God's husbandry (s reprysov, georgeon) because Cod cultivates them as land by means of spirual teachers (or paftors.) Rav.
That the life and employment of an husbandman, excellently
shadows forth the relation betwixt God and his church, and the relative duties betwixt its ministers and members.
Or more briefly thus: The church is God's husbandry, about which his minifters
are employed. I shall not here observe my usual method, (intending nợ more but a preface to the following discourse) but only open the particulars wherein the resemblance confifts; and then draw some Corollaries from the whole. The first I shall dispatch in these twenty particulars following:
1. Prop. The husbandman purchases his fields, and gives a valuable consideration for them, Jer. xxxii. 9, 10.
Reddit. So hath God purchased his church with a full va. Juable price, even the precious blood of his own Son, Acts xx. 28. « Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased, or, “ acquired with his own blood.” O dear-bought inheritance, how much doth this bespeak its worth? Or rather, the high esteem God hath of it, to pay down blood, and such blood for it; never was any inheritance bought at such a rate : every particular elect person, and none but such, are comprehended in this purchase; the rest still remain in the devil's right. Sin made a forfeiture of all to justice, upon which Satan entered, and took possession, and, as a strong man armed, still keeps it in them, Luke xi. 21. but upon payment of this sum to justice, the elect (who only are intended in this purchase) pass over into God's right and property, and now are neither Satan's, Acts xxvi. 18. nor their own, i Cor, vi. 19. but the Lord's peculiar, 1 Pet. ii. 6. And to fhew how much they are his own, you have two poflelives in one verse, Cant. viii. 12.
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me, mine, which is 46 mine."
2. Prop. Husbandmen divide and separate their own lands from other men's, they have their land-marks and boundaries, by which propriety is preferved, Deut, xxvii. 17. Prov. xxii. 28.
Reddit. So are the people of God wonderfully separated and distinguished from all the people of the earth. Pfal. iv. 3. “ The “ Lord hath fet apart him that is godly for himself. And the
Lord knoweth who are his,” 2 Tim. ii. 19. It is a special act of grace, to be inclofed by God out of the wafle howling wilderness of the world, Deut. - xxxiii. 16. This did God in, VOL. VI.